Kitchen designer Simon Bray offers his advice on choosing the right kitchen layout and interior designer Joanna Wood offers her advice on planning a dining room makeover, including making preparations for Christmas entertaining.
‘Visually soft curves help create a flowing, friendly space’
Award-winning kitchen designer Simon Bray (simon-bray.co.uk) works from his showroom on a Bedfordshire farm. He heads a team of designers dedicated to creating luxury bespoke kitchens. He says:
‘The sooner a designer gets involved, the better, if you want to maximise a room’s potential. Simple changes such as moving a door or window can make a big difference. Don’t try to fit too much in – while your goal might be one open kitchen/ dining/living space, there might not be room. The priority is the kitchen, next is a place to eat and third the living space. If there’s no space for a sofa, opt for comfortable chairs around a table, so you have an area where you can sit and interact.
‘I try to avoid too many hard lines – visually soft curves help create a flowing, friendly space. A kitchen with a straight-edged peninsula can almost divide a room in two. A curved island allows rooms to integrate more fully and looks and feels bigger.
‘Keep a sense of light and space in a small kitchen. It’s better to abandon tall cupboards and wall cupboards in favour of under-counter units – the more you put into a small kitchen, the darker it will become. When designing a space, my aim is to achieve warmth by mixing materials, with freestanding furniture breaking up the lines. I don’t believe in a black granite worktop taking centre stage – everything should work together.’
‘Never skimp on lights when decorating your tree’
Joanna Wood (joannawood.com) is a leading interior designer who heads a group of four companies working on worldwide projects. She is a member of BIDA (British Interior Design Association). She says:
‘If you’re giving a room a makeover, draw up a floor plan with a template made from card so you can visualise how the main furniture will look. If you’re working to a budget, invest in a few key pieces. I would buy the best cabinetry – a good dining table or bookcase could last a hundred years, whereas a sofa never would. If you get the ‘bones’ of a room right, you can mix in cheap and cheerful pieces – if you have a beautiful table, create a display of shells and pebbles to look like modern art.
‘Rooms need focal points. While fireplaces and windows are the obvious ones, they’re not the only options. I love mirrors – I often use mirrors in alcoves, each side of a fireplace or over an entire end wall. A mirror opposite a window picks up light and gives the room a sense of space.
‘Don’t be afraid of colour. It is amazing just how different a room can look all for the cost of a couple of pots of paint. Key colours to consider are red, orange, pistachio green and mulberry pink which will update a neutral backdrop.
‘With Christmas coming, my top tips for decorating a tree are never skimp on lights and use clusters of baubles tied together, rather than hanging singly on the end of a branch. Large baubles should be placed towards the middle of the branches, with droplets at the end. When topping a tree with a star or angel, place a cluster of ribbons to accentuate it.’
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