Nikki Fulton, our in house interior designer, as well as a qualified architect and associate at lapd Architects, talks about the main reasons why you should be thinking about interior design from the very beginning of any renovation or new build project. Interior design and architectural design are inseparable, and they inform each other. Here is what to look out for.

In my time as both an interior designer and architect, I often come across people who think the two disciplines are completely separate. I often hear words to the effect of: “Well, I’ll get my home built first, and then I’ll deal with the furnishings and finishes.” This seems to be a common sense approach, but in my experience this kind of segregation can seriously impact the finished product.

Here are my five key points to make sure you are thinking about important interior design decisions at the right points during the architectural process.

  1. Furniture flow and lighting

Once the architectural spaces are designed in terms of size and proportion it’s important to think about the furniture placement and ensure that the space flows and is big enough, yet not too big, for the way in which you intend to use the space. This is especially important in open plan living. Some idea of furniture size, proportion, and shape needs to be understood at concept design level to ensure a good finished result. Once the zones (living/dining etc.) are created, we should be thinking about the lighting design, in particular any feature you may want to include. The reasons for this? These are fixed features which can’t easily be amended once the space is completed. For example, it is no good having three feature pendants if they are placed incorrectly and off-centre over a dining table.

  1. Kitchen and bathroom design

Kitchens and bathrooms are big spend items in a property. It is important to get these well designed from the outset of a project, rather than letting them become an afterthought during construction. For example, if you want an island unit and American style fridge freezer this has got to be designed in from concept design. This early planning even goes for finishing items such as tiling, worktops and extracts. They may seem like an aesthetic afterthought, but their fitting needs to be carefully planned long before work starts on site.  Creating a palette of materials that work cohesively together for the big spend items is important. If they don’t work on a mood board on your desk, they won’t work in reality. These key spaces are what set the feel for the rest of the house.

  1. Staircase design

The design of a staircase straddles both architectural and interior design. Whilst the technical aspects are architectural (head heights, riser and goings sizes, pitch of stair) the balustrade, colour, materiality and finish is very much part of an interior designer’s work. What should you be thinking about with your architect and interior designer?

  • What is the staircase function? It could be a feature staircase at a grand entrance hall, or a secret secondary stair to an attic space. Function informs design.
  • What two kinds of spaces is the stairway providing the transition between?
  • How are they lit, and how do they affect lighting in the spaces below them? Do they need a roof light above?
  1. Woodwork features

Simple changes to woodwork features, such as internal doors, skirting boards, architraves and built in storage, can immediately transform a home. Simple decisions can have a big impact. Glazed doors allow light to flow through into darker rooms and open up views through to other rooms and the outside. A decision to utilise a contemporary square edge profile skirting board and architrave can change a space. These little details add up. At lapd we guide you through these details.

  1. Flooring

There is so much on the market and often too much choice – where do you start? Flooring selections should come early on in the design process, as they have impact on floor construction: what mattings are required, underfloor heating options, what works well inside and outside, what is non-slip, what colours work etc.

The most important thing to remember is that working with an architect who understands interior design is invaluable. They must be able to visualise the end product in all its aspects. Better still, working with a firm like lapd Architects that has built its processes around residential work, making sure that interior design is integrated with the architectural process, will ensure you are happy with your finished home, inside and out.

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