INTERIORS Real-life designer living

Chest of drawers

Real-life designer living

Interior Design
Niamh Tuohy

Most of us don’t live in architecturally designed spaces with light pouring through the strategically placed roof windows. Nor do we wear his and hers linen trousers with matching flowing tunics, while serenely sipping rich aromatic coffee freshly brewed from a stainless steel contraption that you’d need a PhD to master. And our kids don’t calmly entertain themselves in the ‘den’ while miraculously managing to keep themselves and their outfits in pristine condition.
If we were to believe the commercials, the ads, the magazines, we’d all be living in a big (off white, or perhaps French grey) bubble, when in fact, we live in a world that is rarely perfect, usually chaotic and always getting bent out of shape.
So, plan for the life we have, not the life sitting on a shelf in a designer store near you. Because it’s not real and when the camera stops rolling, the world we think we want gets packed into a box waiting for the next commercial.
What I’m getting at here is, whatever your budget, wherever you live or however you intend to renovate or design your house, do it for you and your family, not to impress whoever happens to walk through the door. Because at the end of the day, you’re the ones who have to live in the space, so make it work FOR you, not against you.
If you like colour, then use it! Don’t feel brow beaten into working off a neutral palette. But use it cleverly so that it can be easily changed and without much cost. Introduce it in the rugs, the throws, the lighting. If you’re going to use a number of strong colours, then remember the cardinal rule, it’s not the colours you need to match, it’s the tones and shades. Keep them in harmony with one another and it WILL work.
Most of us are hoarders. If you have adequate storage, then this shouldn’t present too much of a problem. If you’re tight on space though, don’t despair, there are clever, interesting and creative ways to store the things we have no use for but can’t bear to part with. Wicker baskets, leather/suede boxes, funky old trunks can all be used to clear the clutter while at the same time doubling as a tasteful addition to the aesthetics of the room.
And remember, if the property you’re living in doesn’t have a huge number of windows (sky lights or otherwise) or is north-facing, making for quite a dark space, soft and occasion lights can be great to give atmosphere and warmth. If you’re renovating or rewiring, you might want to think about placing lights in unusual places, perhaps at skirting level or on the actual floor itself to create a feature that confirms you’re not living in designer cube sterilised to within an inch of its life.