Rooms within a Room

Have you too much space in a living room?  Often spaces can be too big, as big as a barn,and the spaces just don’t seem to be intimate, warm and welcoming. This may seem surprising, but it is as common a problem as too little space and is actually a little more tricky to make work.  Take some interest in the big public spaces around you – hotel lobbies and bistros – to get ideas. Notice how the different spaces work and how they have been linked together to make a cohesive whole.  Is it tied together with colour, similar furniture styles?  Is the flooring different? Note the layouts – you will see each has smaller zones for relaxing, dining, or conversation areas within the greater space.  It still functions as a seamless, personal attractive whole, and your large living room can be similarly zoned.

Furniture arranged in zones keep this room interesting.

Furniture arranged in different areas fill this room & allow for various activities. Held together with similar colours in wall & floor coverings. Via Damask & Dentelle.

To create a spacious feel, unify the room with colour, texture and light, to create harmony within the different areas.  Texture is the best way to add personality and keep things welcoming.  Using the same texture across the different zones and spaces will provide the glue that pulls the whole thing together.

Several seating areas have been created using different pieces.  Again held together with colour and pattern.

Several seating areas have been created using different pieces in this fabulous room. All held together with colour and pattern.

Keep furniture arrangements simple and easy to reconfigure for gatherings in different ways.  Buy more versatile pieces that can be used in different ways. Having a focal point – a large one such as a chimney surround or  a rustic armoire for example will brings warmth, texture and personal interest into a room and will anchor down the different areas/zones.

The fireplace anchors this room as it is the focal point.

The fireplace anchors this room as it is the focal point. Colours are repeated throughout, tying together the different areas.  Interior created by Cindy Rinfret

Get the bigger pieces such as sofas off the wall (have said this before) and then place a desk or even smaller chairs behind a sofa with a table in between  so that you immediately create another area.Thinking creatively about furnishings and re-inventing pieces will make the room even more interesting.

By keeping the chairs and tables simple and not too heavy looking-be sure you can see underneath them as this creates the illusion of space- they can be easily moved around to suit visitor numbers as and when required.


Note how the colours and tones are similar throughout. Textural interest and lighting help to anchor the scheme as does the contrast in scale and height of the furniture.

Built in seating is a good way to add interest and another zone to a room.

Built in seating is a good way to add interest and another seating zone in a room.

If you would like help with your large room layout please contact us.

Look and follow our Pinterest board for inspiration. (warning Pinterest is highly addictive!)

We also visited Sarsfield Brooke furniture showroom today, with lots of new furniture to get creative with.  Available through Interior Designers nationwide.

Related Links:


Making Plans

Hallo everyone, sorry it has taken me so long to get back to writing, though there are still lots of subjects/posts to share so here we go!

Today’s post was inspired by a chat on the beach with a lady who was planning to build a new beach house and have it done by Christmas this year.  She was serious.  Assuming she had plans already under way it was disconcerting to find out she hadn’t even had the concept plans drawn up yet by an architect.  Hmmm.  Yes it still would be possible if she was planning on a kit set, pre fabricated type of building.  However she wasn’t.

Digital process : PixSolution

Getting plans done for a house takes time – it is a little like slow cooking, for a project to be successful and completed on time it needs to have had careful thought and preparation about needs and wants.  Make a basic plan with your wishes and then cut it back budget wise to fit your project.  It will take careful consideration and several visits to your architect to get it right, and it does take time, not to mention money.


Herbst Architects New Zealand

After that there is the challenge of getting the plans through council, which is never an easy or quick process.  During the time spent working with architect and council you should also be looking at styles, finding out about builders, project managers, or any interior designers you want to work with. Collect together  or make a scrapbook of pages of interiors/exteriors of houses that you like in order to convey to everyone who will be involved with your project what you want and like.  It is a really useful tool for yourself to narrow down what you like.


House plans are the most important part of building, so  you need to consider the location, lifestyle, family size, environment and budget as well as spatial, future requirements, building materials, aesthetics and local and government laws. Little details can be added later once the house layout has been done. Get yourself a professional and recommended architect who has the knowledge and expertise to outline those things you want.  Once you have the plans in place the details of style, colours, etc can be done. Pinterest and Houzz are useful places to search for ideas.


So, be prepared to be patient and keep pushing ahead.  Be sure to include everything you will need now and in the years to come in .  You’re the project driver but be realistic about your time line.   Trying to reach an unrealistic deadline will make for a stressful lead up to Christmas this year for all involved. (And a big disapointment when you are camping on a building site!)  So start the planning now for Christmas 2015 is being more realistic about the outcome. With time, lots of thought in your favourite swing chair, looking at your fabulous beach view, your plans will come to fruition and your holiday home  project will be a success.


If you would like help with your holiday home, we’d be delighted if you contact us.

Some interesting and related links:

Dulux Colour Forecast 2014- Future Tribes

Dulux have predicted the latest international trends from around the world for 2014, which denotes travelling the world without leaving home as in being a digital nomad.  Be inspired by cultures that place emphasis on energetic colour and vibrant pattern.  Imagine being immersed in the life of an Aztec tribe or feeling the energy of a Moroccan market place.  (Personally, it would be better to feel the real thing rather than digitally through the click of a mouse don’t you think?)

Anyway, will try to explain what they are getting at – sometimes the language gets a little flowery and designery for some of us more humble earthlings.  There are 4 sections/tribes of colour which are named as below.  Rejoice- it is a return to colour and pattern big time!  Pretty sharp colour along with lots of soft pastel almond colours including flesh pinks, rusty browns, in the  aquas thrown in with some really vibrant fluoro colours too.  All of these can be placed in amongst our more neutral greys, creams, whites, browns and blacks to spice things up a little and add much needed punches of colour.

1. The Digital Nomads Palette Think Aztec prints colours and vibrancy.  Digital patterns, Geometric shapes too.  Colours are bright with smokey amethysts and metallics coming in too. Overall feel is sharp, and contemporary with an edge of softness.


2. The Retro Visionaries Palette  Here you can see energetic forward thinking with bright colours, some almost fluoro (interior colours always follow fashion), so bright yellows, cerise pinks, azure blues, mixed in with bright turquoise.  These also have a slightly retro feel to them too.  A little of this in an interior will go a long way and the trick is to pick one or two colours and play with them in different ways in each room.  Don’t try to have the whole lot in one house, otherwise it will feel like living in a kaleidoscope of colour.  Overwhelming.



3. The Precious Elementals Palette  This has a more masculine vibe with strong, earthy umbers, browns, and rusts mixed in with greys and soft natural woods.  This represents our awareness of what we are doing to our earth as we live here.  There is a softness about this new contemporary look, gone is the tough steel, industrial look of chrome.  Organic in feel, it has used quiet, muted, neutral colours, with nothing rustic or worn.  This palette is infinitely useable anywhere in the home and will be easy to incorporate into existing themes.  Perfect!



4. The Romantic Spirits Palette  This has a softness and romantic warmth about this palette.  The colours show a fresh look at our heritage.  The pink/flesh may be a little feminine for some, but if you mix in with contemporary charcoal geometrics it becomes hip and vibrant.  There is a nostalgic nod to our past, which lets us incorporate these older pieces into our digital age- the return of turned legs for example.  Touches here and there are all that is required, and when mixed in with rusty browns it gives it a strong edge that is not frilly.  There is a rustic feel to this palette too as soft patinas and worn woods sit happily alongside the moody colour.  (This is my personal favourite as can be seen by the “I love Pink” pinterest board)



Well there you have it.  Click on the links above to find the Dulux Paint Colour suggestions.  Am pleased to say have been using Lyttleton, Opito Bay, Ohai, Franz Josef in interior design colour schemes lately.  So far no one has gone for the pink, but am slowly adding it around the all male Hutton House.  Do you think they’ll notice? Which one is your favourite?  Can you think of ways to update your existing colours schemes to incorporate these new colours?  If you would like help with this, we’d love to hear from you.

Related links:

Keep Calm on the Inside

Finding Calm in an increasingly hectic world has become a challenge.  With the constant invasion of technology, life carries on at a frantic pace.  Life is so often the ‘full noise’ and turned up so loud it is not a surprise that many of us will seek sanctuary in a soft neutral colour scheme.  We are bombarded all day long so why would we want to come home to a colour calamity that screams ‘full on’?


We want colours that are calm, soothing, soft and subtle like in the above photo, courtesy of Woonmagazine. This can be anything from Greyed off whites, a whole range of creams and an infinite variety of oatmeals, greys, taupes and browns.  These colours are borrowed from nature, so think about our sandy beaches, silver fish grey skies, weathered grey woods and foliage such as Manuka, Corokia and Astelia plants. Cliff faces, pumice and rocks can also provide colour inspiration – nature has so much to offer to a colour scheme doesn’t it?

To be calm you will need to be ‘cocooned’ so think about darker, smudgy colours. (I’m not thinking Black and White here – too cliché and overused).  Darker colours will come toward you and are somehow a lot more nurturing than stark whites and hard blacks.  B & W are too ‘edgey’ and uninteresting to impart calm in your life. Try out Moody Mellow colours that are softened off.  A good example is the photo above – love that picture window and how it brings the outdoors in along with a textural play.  The muddied-off-pinks and mushroom-browns below are another great example how a naturally neutral interior can be calm and welcoming at the same time.

It is also wise to remember when doing a calm, soft scheme that is important for you to layer with textural touches too.  Place rough with smooth, shiny with matte. (The first photo is a good example of this) Texture is so often overlooked in a calm, tranquil interior scheme and is the most important layer to add the depth, character and soul to your interior. Below, not a lot of colour is used, but touching use of texture makes for an interesting play on grey.

Again let nature be your inspiration.  Anything left outside will weather off in the wind, sun, rain and salt air to a perfect neutral – cedar, zinc, driftwood. When adding texture  think rough logs, with smooth velvets, shells, plants and sisal matting; Soft mohair and linens too.  Below are more examples of how to work with calm colours in your bedroom and home office. What you will also find working within  limited colour palettes such as these, is that they will create continuity and flow to your home and therefore the illusion of space.  All good things don’t you think?  So, Bring the outdoor colours inside, to Keep Calm on the Inside.


If you would like help creating a soothing, calm colour scheme for your home we’d love to hear from you.

Related Articles:

The above inspiring photos are from Woonmagazine.

Got Paint Colour Paralysis?

Up to your ears in paint colours? Can’t decide which one to use?   It need not be tricky, and your starting point is probably right in front of you. Ideally you want to make sure it goes with the furnishings that you already have.   A painting or a rug that you love perhaps? Could you paint the room in a shade or hue that would work with both?  Not everyone is drawn to bright, bold colours, so be in the moment and think about what colours you are drawn to.  You probably already know the colours you naturally love and those that you detest.

Have you been keeping a scrap book of all the interiors you like? Been doing any mood boards? (This is why they are so useful people!)  Look through them and magazines and really see what colours are there that you are drawn to.  Is there a common colour thing happening? Perhaps you are drawn to old woods, rustic greys or blues.  If you love blue, is it midnight, pale aqua, or a Wedgewood Powder Blue?  Ask yourself all these questions.   If you are seeking paint colours for your kitchen or bathroom, it is wise to pay attention to finishes like the tiles that you cannot/do not want to change.  This could also a good starting point for your scheme perhaps?

Pink, apricot, cream and warm woods used with a Cool Light

Pink, apricot, cream and warm woods used with a Cool Light

Pay attention to the orientation of the room that you are painting.  Is it North facing? (We are talking Southern Hemisphere)  Does it get a lot of afternoon sun?  This may be the ideal place to use blues, greens and aquas – cooler colours that will offset the warm sun rays and yellow light entering the room. You only have to think of a sunny, north facing room in February to know that bright orange or red will feel totally overwhelming in there!

Conversely a south facing room has cool, blue light, and no sun, so a warmer shade – yellow, reds, pinks will feel good there.  In New Zealand our bathrooms are often on the South side of the house and people paint them blue as they feel this relates to water. Be warned fellow Kiwis, if you paint a bathroom blue, the southern light, coupled with white porcelain and tiles may feel like you are bathing in a chilli bin, not a warm bath!   Consider a warm yellow, ochre or cream instead.

Aqua blue is warmed up here by warm wooden floors.

Aqua blue is warmed up here by warm wooden floors.

Blue is warmed up with wood tones here- in the curtains, table, and chandelier.

Blue is warmed up with wood tones here- in the curtains, table, and chandelier.

After you’ve sorted out whether you are going warm (reds, yellows, oranges) or cool (blues, greens, aquas) and what furnishings you are going to try to tie your paint colour in with, then get the paint charts out.  Not everyone is drawn to bold, clear colours so if you are one of them, then look to the neutral shades of the colour you are thinking of.  Always, always, test the colours out.  2 coats, painted on a big sheet of cardboard.  And use the exact finish you plan to use — high gloss will look very different from matte or eggshell. If you don’t want to deal with test pots, look for a paint company that offers poster-size paint chips and tape them to your wall instead.   Look at them in all lights – morning, noon and night, on rainy days, sunny days, and then at night when you have the lights on. These different lights will all change the paint colour.  If a certain shade doesn’t work in the room, and it is in the same colour family that you are considering using, it will probably work in another room in the house.  This will give flow and continuity to your space.  So, get those overalls on and get started.

Warm terracotta pots and wood tones, help to warm up a neutral, grey, beige.  Greige.

Warm terracotta pots and wood tones, help to warm up a neutral, grey, beige. Greige.

Neutral Colour Schemes

A neutral colour  is not just cream or black or beige.  They are an example of a neutrals, but what most  fail to realise is that any colour can be a neutral.  Yes, that’s right! So you can have a neutral green (khaki), neutral yellow (ochre), neutral red (pink), neutral blue (Wedgewood blue) and so on.  A neutral is any colour that has been muddied up, had some sludge thrown in there, a bit of chalk, a bit of dirt.

A neutral colour is the opposite of an accent or “loud” colour.  It does not “pop” out or grab your attention and is a softer version of a bright colour. For example red, orange or blue or any colour that attracts your eye easily.  Go to your wardrobe and give it a quick scan- the colours that grab your attention are the accent/pop/loud colours, the rests are probably neutrals.  Not so hard huh?

So, how do you use neutrals in a colour scheme?  They make a good base to pop your favourite accents on.  If your favourite colour is navy or bright blue, then you might to warm it up with a cream.  (Blue is a ‘cool’ colour and cream is a white that has had yellow added to it) Alternatively you may like yellows- this is all good until you are sitting in a very hot room on a summers day and are surrounded by bright yellow.  Nothing mellow-yellow about that, so off set it with a subtle blue grey and that will give you the balance.  Save the bright full on yellow for the accent colour in accessories.  You also don’t need to use exactly the same neutral colour throughout the house. Use varying depths and shades of the same colour, or something less sludgy in different rooms to suit its aspect and light.  This makes for an interesting scheme that flows through the house without it being boring and beige.  For example, it is good to use a double/stronger/deeper neutral in rooms where you want to be cocooned – studies, dining rooms, or in rooms that are on the cool side (south side in New Zealand) of the house that get no sun.  Alternatively on the warmer (Northern in NZ) side of the house, go for the slightly cooler shades and lighter tones, so things feel light and airy.


So get into neutral but do not forget to beef up the textures.  This adds the interest in a neutral scheme.  The inspiring pictures are from Lonny magazine of Jo Malone’s new headquarters.  The beautiful mouldings did not need too much colour to set them off – in fact they are texture itself and the designer, Rose Uniacke has kept the rest of the decoration beautiful but minimal so they come to the fore. There are other elements of texture added too – bare wooden floors, the glorious chandelier and even logs in the fire place.  I bet the place smells as gorgeous as it looks too!


The Missing Link

So, you have nearly finished the room and something is missing.  You aren’t going “Oh, wow” each time you walk in. In any room you need to add 1- 2 pieces that are out of context. That is all, no more.  This creates an energy vibe and big twist that makes a space zing.  Remember when we said all rooms with style were memorable?  Well, by adding something that doesn’t quite “go” or that is a little off makes it memorable.  It’s about creating a tension that is different to the rest of the room.  If everything is a smooth shiny surface it will be boring, so by adding texture e.g. a sisal rug you instantly create that energy vibe.


Look at the picture repinned from Greige (lots of gorgeous pictures there). A Sparkly chandelier over a rustic industrial dining table. Am sure you have all seen that! Why does it work you ask? Well there are different textures at play here –masculine, rustic &rough table contrasted with a shiny, sparkly, delicate & feminine chandelier.  (By the way this photo also works ‘tonally’ – thinking of this in black and white- there are 50 shades of Grey in there aren’t there?) It is an unexpected twist – a real bloke wouldn’t buy a chandelier would he?  He’d buy the table!

So maybe instead of trying to get rid of those blokey pieces that you hate, perhaps you could look at them in a different light? Use them to create that tension and vibe and perhaps they will be the missing link for your cool, remodelled and otherwise feminine space.