Sunday,22 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1209, (14 - 20 August 2014)
Sunday,22 July, 2018
Issue 1209, (14 - 20 August 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Designer secrets revealed

Top Egyptian interior designers share their decorating secrets to improve your home, reported by Sawsan Mourad Ezz Elarab

Al-Ahram Weekly

Whether you have lived in your home for three months or 30 years, sometimes you need a little help to change things. We asked a group of well-known Egyptian interior designers to disclose the secrets they use to improve domestic interiors.

Each designer offered ideas that can make all the difference in a living space, including essential design issues such as lighting, small spaces, storage and colours.

These tricks can solve your design problems, transforming your living space to best reflect your style and personality.

Interior designer Cherif Morsi knows the secrets of using colour. “Stay away from trends and just do what you like, whatever makes you feel better,” she said. “A home, in my opinion, should be about you and not your friends or relatives.”

Colours are a crucial element in designing a space. They give the first impression, and a white space is very differently experienced from the same space in blue or black.

Choose the colours that reflect your character and personality. The key to choosing the right colours is not to rely on trends or what is in fashion — never work with the latest trends as these can go out as fast as they emerge.

Trends change quickly and are not necessarily best suited to your home. Rely on what works for you, and creates the mood you want.

Think of colours as the “dressing” or “clothing” of the home, while furnishings can be considered the tools that enable the home to function. This may help you in your search for your most appropriate mix of colours to show off your rooms. A space can feel much bigger in white. A dark colour shows the limits of a room.

Be daring and don’t hesitate to use contrasting colours like black and white, for example. This can play a vital role in defining a space’s volume and creating virtual boundaries between different areas. It also gives the overall interior a dramatic mood.

Some colours give specific feelings. For example, red is the colour of proximity and creates a warmer atmosphere than green.

To specify the colour palette appropriate for each room, take into consideration architectural features such as exposed walls, ceiling height, window dimensions, and natural lighting.

Architect and interior designer Karim Mekhtigian reveals the secrets of efficient lighting: “In every room, the design should tell a story, and through lighting this story is materialised. Any space is defined by up to 70 per cent by the quality of the lighting.”

Lighting is a vital element in architecture, and one can sculpture spaces with different lighting techniques. Its function reaches far beyond simple illumination of the space: the interesting part is how one turns lighting into an architecture component to create an emotional expression. The size of the space defines the quality and type of lighting required to enhance the function and atmosphere needed.

In living areas, the lighting should be indirect and atmospheric, providing warmth and cosiness to create a feeling of comfort.

In dining areas, the lighting needs to complement the ritual of eating.

In functional areas like home offices, the lighting should provide the required technical support while also creating ambience.

In kitchens, the preferred choice of lighting is the type that can be modified and includes adjustment options for colour and texture. This is helpful during cooking, which requires different levels of brightness. One example of this is that when you cook rice under neon lighting it will most likely burn.

The objective of the lighting in children’s bedrooms is to stimulate the imagination. Choose main lighting units with a distinctive design in terms of shape, and add scenic lighting to stimulate their dream world and calm them at night so they sleep peacefully.

Lighting in bathrooms should have a mineral quality inspired by the components of earth and sea. This is a place of purification and should calm the senses through the therapeutic flow of water and light.

Interior designer Karim Hayawan knows the tricks of hidden storage spaces. “When creating a storage space, simple unexpected ideas are useful and easy to apply,” he said. “Just think out of the box and make the best out of every inch.”

In a classically styled room, create features that are both beautiful and functional, such as installing wall panels that contain hidden storage spaces. Use shelves and cabinets to exploit wall space for storage. A good trick is to cover dents in a wall with mirrored panels. Also a false ceiling can be useful for hidden storage spaces and pull-out units.

You can use a framed art piece to conceal a storage space. Built-in sofas and window seats are always a good idea for small spaces and low-budget decorating, providing storage soace that comes in handy for blankets and seasonal items.

Interior designer Mohamed Fares reviews the secrets of designing a small space: “It is a designer’s challenge and joy to bring out the best and most cost-efficient design solution, knowing that every space tells an independent story of its own.”

A small space needs to be designed intelligently, like using multi-functional furniture, such as a TV unit that can also be used as a kitchenette or bar. Generally speaking, furniture should be simple and movable and not too large.

Visual tricks are also useful. It is preferable to choose lighter, earth-toned colours to give the illusion of a larger space. Use an accent wall to define a focal point. Apply the same concept when mixing different fabrics: choose lighter earth tones again, with one accent element like a chair or some pillows, as this will add character to the interior.

One smart trick is to cover the walls with mirrors to add depth and volume. Glass and transparent materials keep the space flowing. Enlarging windows will maximise incoming natural light.

Interior decorator Aiman Azabawy talks about the secrets of home renovation on a limited budget: “Be bold and creative and have fun in your home … just go for simple and minimal ideas expressing your character.”

 Make some unexpected changes to your old furniture. For example, when renovating a cupboard or a chest of drawers you can paint the inner part of the doors and drawers in a bold colour like red or fuchsia. The unit itself can still be the normal, understated colour on the outside, but a surprise awaits anyone who opens it, giving it a contemporary edge.

Tailored fabric covers are the best way to renew a sofa or chair and a good option to make a big change on a low budget. You can also play around with the tailoring details to add character to the fabric covers.

If you decide to buy some furniture to renovate a home on a low budget, choose one expensive essential piece, such as a table or sofa, and then complete the rest with cheaper items.

The use of classic items in unexpected places, such as a crystal chandelier in the kitchen or on the garden terrace, rather than the living area, can also be striking.

Changing the colour of your walls can require large quantities of paint and long hours, turning it into an expensive process. To save money and time, use a layer of white paint to cover walls, doors and windows. After that you can add a coat of grey paint to create a scratchy effect. This trick will cover any flaws while still giving the surface an interesting distressed effect.

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