Artwork above by Kate Carnegie.

If you’ve ever had friends who are designers over, you must wonder what they think as they take in your collected mementos and stacks of mags. Well we asked interior designer Sally Caroline (who created the above space) exactly what she picks up on the minute she walks into someone else’s home.

“When I walk into a client’s home for the first time, I’m often asked to offer some suggestions for immediate changes that could be made to refresh the interiors. Here are easy updates that everyone can make to their home by taking ideas from each design module of our online interior design program Open Design Studio.

1. The colour and style of the home
When I walk into a house, the immediate thing I get an impression of is the style of the home. What is the owner’s style of luxury? This can be demonstrated through various senses, both visual and tactile; from scent through to sound. I find that lush linen curtains, carefully picked accessories and a scented candle can immediately move a living room into a more luxurious direction. Being clear on your style before following through to its implementation/creation is the best way to create a coherent story or theme in your home.

Introducing colour in the right way:
This is often high on the list of hairy decisions to commit to! If you don’t feel like taking the plunge on repainting your walls, here are some of the easiest ways for you to weave colour into your spaces:

  • Front door: Why not make the entry point to your house bright to greet you each day? Coloured doors ooze personality and can set the mood for whenever you leave or return home. If you don’t feel like going all out on colour with a door, paint the reveal instead, so that when your door opens a splash of colour comes through.
  • Upholstery and soft furnishings: Here’s an easy one! Refresh your scatter cushions, rugs, curtains, table runners, throws and linens with a new colour scheme. If you’re up for it, reupholster a much loved, though worn piece of furniture – like an armchair. Give it a charismatic colour and allow it the chance to be the star of your room once more.
  • Art and accessories: You’d be surprised how much of a difference these make when considered holistically in terms of colour. A simple arrangement of objects on a mantlepiece in brights can turn a calm, neutral space into a more exciting contemporary room. Naturally, large pieces of art will always direct the palette of your room. Shuffle your art around to hang the liveliest pieces in frequent access/activity zones and enjoy the shift in mood and energy!

The benefit of adding colour to a home is that it’s such a great way to easily and efficiently refresh, enliven and introduce your personality into the scheme. Colour is also great for inciting mood in each room.

2. Review and refresh the entry statement
Not a spot to be underestimated! The entry is the gateway between the outside world and the sanctuary of your home. What kind of mood do you want to set here? How can you infuse your personality into this spot? How can this area improve your daily routines returning and alighting from home on a daily basis? I find that a mirror or strong piece of art is great here. A beautiful console is super handy to store your everyday items such as wallet, keys, sunglasses etc., and also allow room for some fun shelf decorating. Lastly, greenery will never go wrong here (add a fern on the console, or a fiddle leaf in the corner), and consider some beautiful lamps to create ambience at night whilst being decorative pieces in and of themselves.

3. Change up door hardware with more interesting and unique options
We’re lucky to have such a wide range of options available making door hardware an area that we’ve come to LOVE having fun with. Why not make this a bold statement for your home? Look to grand hotels or retail stores for inspiration. Explore finishes, colours, textures and scale when assessing store-bought options, or commission a decorative pull for your doors or cabinets. Don’t be afraid to mix and match metals with different finish styles (e.g. matt, shine, powder-coated). The benefit of updating door and cabinet hardware is that it’s such an easy way to inject some personality into your spaces and make your everyday routines a little more fun.

4. Let there be light (artificial, task and ambient lighting)!
Light is one of the most important elements in the design of a home! Without light, the beauty of our spaces cannot be adequately enjoyed, and the tone and mood of our rooms may be off. I dedicate a whole module to this, but immediate changes can be easily introduced through artificial lighting. A commanding floor lamp in a living area could add some drama to the furniture scheme, whilst imbuing gorgeous mood light at night when relaxing. Lamps come in all styles, varieties, shapes and sizes. Wherever I can, I include a beautiful lamp to side tables, consoles, desks and shelves. A show-stopping pendant light over a dining table setting or cascading chandelier over stairs can be the difference between ‘nice’ and ‘WOW’.
Artificial lights are fantastic as they provide both practical and aesthetic functions to a home, and are ultra flexible for introducing or shifting around. Whether you buy new, or source vintage, your collection should tell the story of your style.

5. Furniture update
Often, the interior ‘styling’ or the sourcing and curation of your furniture, art and accessories comes last in the interior design stages. This is all about expression, creating mood and adding intrigue. A quick update could involve replacing a key piece of furniture such as your dining table or lounge suite to something better suited to your family, room layout or personal style.  Even 1-2 edits here can transform the feel and functionality of the space immensely. The biggest benefit of a furniture update? They’re often the bulkiest and key pieces in your scheme, so doing this right will help you nail that perfect home!

 

There are so many little easy updates you could make to your home to move it along a better direction. Considering these edits holistically will enable you to best articulate a coherent style and vibe for a home that functions as beautifully as it looks. For those taking on an entire home refresh, I share all I know about interior design and styling in Open Design Studio. You can sign up for our free trial. Sign up to Open Design Studio and email hello@opendesignstudio.com.au mentioning you are an Inside Out reader and you will receive a second membership for FREE.”

Check out Sally’s work on this incredible parents’ retreat: