Clean, simple approach pays off

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 March, 2008, 12:00am

Personalisation makes all the difference when it comes to turning a living space into a home, and a one-style-fits-all design is hardly satisfactory to the discerning home-owner.

For the amateur or indecisive home owner, a contemporary ambience is the way to go. According to Stephen Chan Wai-ming, design manager of inX Design, this design works for almost anyone and is simple enough to pull off. The style is clean, simple, with little or no unnecessary detail, and is usually created with modern (hence, easy-to-source) materials. Mr Chan said the style's monotone appeal allowed for flexibility with regard to existing furniture. As adaptable as this style can be, however, there are still those with a more specific look or purpose in mind when it comes to designing their home.

Workaholics, for example, would likely appreciate a relaxing environment where they could unwind after a day in the office, and Mr Chan suggested a Zen-like interior, complete with soft lighting and a plush sofa.

Julie Wittgenstein, director of Wittgenstein Design, agreed that warm lighting and comfortable materials were essential in this design. 'There is a certain feeling of cosiness that can be brought on by the comfort of quality furniture and fabric,' she said. 'This peaceful interior can be enhanced by a unity in style and plenty of natural light.'

Mr Chan emphasised the importance of colour in this ambience, recommending a natural colour palette over bright or sharp colours. 'Neutrally coloured wood also allows a natural element into the design and, if possible, include a water feature with pebbles,' he said, adding that the sound of water was known to have soothing and relaxing properties. For the family that needed a children-friendly, pet-friendly living space that retained its aesthetic appeal, Ms Wittgenstein recommended common sense. Having floors that would not easily stain and laying wool carpeting in the bedrooms which were easy to clean were solutions. Mr Chan suggested leaving wall finishes simple and bright while allowing space for built-in cabinetry for toy storage, and stated that an engineered wood flooring would provide a smooth surface to play on, one that was virtually maintenance free and extremely durable.

Environmentally aware people will be happy to know that an eco-friendly interior can be achieved with minimal difficulty and cost to the environment. 'There are many eco-friendly painting systems now that are non-toxic and contain no petrochemicals, while producing the same effect as regular emulsion paints,' Mr Chan said.

As for surface materials, he said reconstituted marble was generally recycled, and that wood-patterned plastic laminate finishes or vinyl floor strips could be used to achieve a natural wooden look without the use of trees. Another option would be solid acrylic surface materials similar to Corian or Formica Stone, which involved no quarrying.