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How to create a bright and light, but cosy living space

We’ve been really keen to show more of our client’s projects on the blog. We’ve been working on some exciting projects and talking you through them gives us the opportunity to explain the design process that we go through with our clients and how we get to the final scheme.

There are a few interior design projects that are tantalisingly close to being finished, but still waiting for the final trades to finish off their snagging lists and the final pieces of furniture to be delivered and put in place.

So, in the meantime we thought we’d share a project that we worked on over the summer, where the implementation has yet to kick off.

This was one of those briefs that was incredibly simple, but sometimes they can be the toughest ones to crack! Thankfully, we were working with an incredibly decisive couple who really bought into our ideas, which made this a really fantastic project to work on.

Stage 1 – Initial Consultation Our first encounter with this couple was a 2-hour meeting at their home to discuss ideas for their living room. We often start interior design projects in this way: it means that some clients who just want a little bit of guidance and advice on their own designs can get some objective opinion and move on with their designs after that meeting. But for other clients, it’s the start of a longer process, whereby the first meeting is about us getting a feel for the brief, what the client is looking to achieve and to start throwing design ideas together.

This was more of the latter type of consultation. There were no clear design ideas already formed so we were starting from a clean slate and they were looking for us to work with them over a longer period, not just a one-off meeting. The house was renovated and re-modelled only a couple of years ago but everything was painted off white and the floor covered with a biscuit coloured carpet. The furniture had all been brought from a previous home and so the room had never really had its own identity. Basically, there was nothing fundamentally wrong or offensive, it just was a bit ‘meh’.

Redesigned Living Room - Fresh Start Living

However, the living room is 7m long and dual aspect with fantastic bifolds opening up onto a balcony overlooking the most fantastic garden at the back. So, the potential to create a fabulous space was clear to see.

Living Room Before Redesign - Fresh Start Living

This couple had already started to put their own stamp on the house in other areas. So, we spent a fair bit of time walking around these parts of the house talking through their style and why they’d done what they had in these other spaces. We also talked about how they spend their time in the living room (and how they might want that to change), how we could configure the space/furniture (while keeping the gas fire and TV where they are) and started to look through different samples of wallpapers and paint colour cards.

By the end of the meeting, we had a clear idea of the brief and what needed to be done. However, it became clear that they didn’t have a particular style or ‘obvious’ scheme that they wanted to aim for. They were keen on having a statement wallpaper so, we decided that it would be best for us to come up with some high-level design concepts for the space based around a key wallpaper, before going into the details of the scheme. It also meant that they felt involved in the design process and were able to make decisions for themselves rather than giving us total control.

Stage 2 – Design Concepts The house itself is a mid-century build and the proportions of it mean that mid-century style furniture would work really well. But the length of the room means that it needs a fair bit of furniture to make it feels cosy, rather than just a large expanse of space.

So, we set about trying to find some wallpapers that would work with the mid-century furniture that we had in mind and came up with three very different design concepts for the space.

The first was a music concept, all based around the Mini Moderns Play/Record wallpaper. This couple are really into their music and we had talked about whether their large CD collection should be housed in the living room. We decided against it, but bringing their love of music into the scheme would bring that to life without the need for physical music in the space.

Mid Century Music Interior Design Mood Board

The second concept was the least obvious mid-century of the options. This concept was designed to link the inside with the outside and bring a bit of nature into the space. The large bifold doors onto the balcony are a key feature of the room and so mirroring the colour schemes between the spaces seemed a natural option for the space.

This Borastapeter Vildtuta wallpaper is a beaut. It would make a great statement but still feels earthy and natural, which is what this couple wanted.

Earthy Nature Interior Design Mood Board

The third concept was based on the Romo Mikado wallpaper which we found at John Lewis & Partners. This type of wallpaper (with a more delicate natural pattern) was what this couple tended to be drawn to when we were looking through various samples. And this Japanese inspired print allowed us to play with some jewel tones and add some colour via the sofas, curtains and accessories.

Japanese Influenced Interior Design Mood Board

Although each design concept is very different, they are all grounded in a mid-century feel. And you’ve probably noticed that all the concepts have a few things in common.

Firstly, all of them keep the current biscuit coloured carpet. This was only laid a year or so ago and was in fantastic condition. It felt wrong to rip it all out and put it in a skip and it would also add to the cost. So, we decided to work with it. The majority of the cost on this project will be the sofas. Given the size of the room and the entertaining that happens in this space, they are going to need two larger sofas and one snuggler.

So, we decided to have two different colours of sofas within the scheme, rather than going with the traditional uniform fabric. We’ve also decided to have different styles: one large sofa being more mid-century and angular in its shape and the other a more traditional curved shape. Again, this adds to the interest and avoid it all being too themed.

Stage 3 – Design Details and Product Specification After an extremely quick deliberation, the winning design concept was chosen and it was Japanese Jewels. The next step in the process was to confirm the dimensions of each of the key pieces of furniture and their position within the room. We do this using software which enables us to mock up 2D floorplans of clients’ homes and place various pieces of furniture in the space, with the ability to change the dimensions as we want.

We’d already chosen the sofa styles and shapes from Arlo & Jacob for the initial design concept, so we just plug in the specific dimensions of their sofas into the software. We had then decided to incorporate a mix of vintage and new mid-century furniture into the scheme. So, it was a case of finding currently available pieces from various vintage suppliers, but with a view to making some minor tweaks, if those pieces became unavailable, and we had to source

something else.

Furniture Layout - Fresh Start Living

We also then bring those designs to life with mock-ups or visualisations. The Romo Mikado wallpaper had been the key thing in swaying this couple towards this design. We had discussed the idea of having the wallpaper on all four walls, but that felt too much so we decided to paper the largest wall behind the main sofa only.

The remaining walls, ceiling and woodwork would then be painted in Dulux Nutmeg White, which is in keeping with the base colour of the wallpaper.

Furniture Layout - Fresh Start Living
Wall Layout - Fresh Start Living

Last, but not least, we provided a spreadsheet shopping list. This includes all the different elements to be bought, a link to the product and the prices. This means that there is transparency from the very beginning about how much the scheme will cost and enables our clients to see which elements are the biggest drivers of the total cost. This means that we can substitute elements as necessary.

Living Room Design - Fresh Start Living

Next steps Life has been busy for this particular couple since we agreed on the design at the end of August, so the implementation has been put on hold for now. We’re hoping to get going again in October but can’t wait to help out with managing the trades, sourcing the vintage pieces and styling the final space. We’re sure it’ll be a fantastic transformation once completed.

If you are thinking about making changes in your home and need some interior design help or inspiration, do get in touch with us here. And don't forget to follow us via Instagram, Facebook and our upcoming blogs.


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