With so many up-and-coming interior designers, it’s becoming more and more difficult to separate the genuine ones from the shams. Nowadays everyone seems to have an idea of what interior design is all about, but only a few are qualified to give you professional advice. Here are a few of the things I learnt from the professionals who graced the 6th Ideal Interiors Expo this year:
- There are no rules! When it comes to Interior Design, anything goes! Mixing bold and bright colours, painting walls black and even living in glass houses (if you’re brave enough!). It’s impossible to come up with a set of design guidelines when everyone is so different and has different tastes. So don’t be afraid of breaking the rules, because there aren’t any!
- Old is gold. One of the best discoveries I made was that nothing really goes out of style – even in interior design! From potted plants to plastic furniture, there’s always a way old pieces can stay relevant even in a very modern world. So if you have been hiding that old dresser that you inherited from your grandmother in the attic, now is the time to bring it out, dust it off and start making good use of it.‘In the 1940s, there was furniture in Kisumu that resembles what we sell. So in a way we’re bringing back the old…but in a new way.’ – Deep Taurgem, Secret Garden Furniture.
- Be willing to try new things. As someone who doesn’t really like the idea of change, this was probably the hardest for me to apply. But it became easier when I realized that trying something new doesn’t necessarily mean ‘out with the old’; it just means ‘in with the new’. After all, our ‘old’ things were once new things, too!
- Don’t aim to blend in, aim to stand out. As designing a house is usually a new experience for most, it’s tempting to borrow ideas from your friends, relatives or neighbours; or hire someone to take care of the designing for you. All these are good ideas, but ‘good’ can sometimes be the enemy of ‘best’. Best – in this case – would be personalizing the design of your house. Nobody knows what would reflect your own likes and tastes better than you do; and although what you settle on might be similar to someone else’s, your uniqueness guarantees that it won’t be a copy-pasted version of it.
- Creativity and Innovation are your friends. A brief interview with Samuel Mwangi of Panesar made me realize just how much a consumer’s input benefits not only them, but also the producer as well. ‘Some of our customers prefer that we only make a certain item for them, and never put it on display in our show rooms,’ he informed me. ‘We are open to that. We love customers who come with their own designs.’ New designs sharpen the producer’s skills, challenging them to learn new things about their craft. This also means that you, as a customer, get to see your dream furniture come true!Panesar Interiors Furniture.
- Cheap is expensive. And expensive is always worth it. Nothing is as aggravating as spending money on something, only for it to get broken, spoilt or torn a few days after the purchase. If that ‘something’ is a pair of shoes or a new dress that’s bad enough, but a broken stool or chair is much worse. To avoid experiencing this, be prepared to spare a few extra pennies and buy yourself pieces that you can guarantee will last you a few decades. Good quality pieces of furniture can even be passed down to children and grandchildren!
- It’s possible to mix traditional and modern. As a lover of vintage furniture and traditional accessories, it pleased my heart to see that some exhibitors had incorporated the two in their stalls. Companies like Shah Timber Mart Limited had blended traditional Maasai designs into their very modern pieces of furniture. On either side of their bed (which was custom-designed for The Enashipai Hotel in Naivasha) were beaded lampshades that accentuated the theme of the entire design; and two Maasai-head figurines stood on each side of their dressing table. So for those who don’t think it’s a good idea to mix the two – think again!
- Horizontal stripes and bright colours go a long way in enlarging a space. Most women know that any form of stripes on a piece of clothing can change their body shape and size completely! But how many knew that they can do the same for an interior space? Owners of small homes can use a carpet with horizontal stripes to make a room appear larger than it actually is; it can also make an unusually narrow corridor appear wider. Try it out and watch your whole house transform!
Contrary to popular opinion, it’s a good idea to mix business with pleasure. This is not to be taken literally; rather, it’s meant to suggest the idea of bringing things that you are fond of into your office space so as to brighten it up. Buying a fresh bouquet of flowers for the vase on your office desk at the beginning of every weak is a nice way to bring some sunshine into a usually dull space; or for those who love colour, some colourful cushions to line the couch in your waiting area. Such small changes can change an official interior space entirely!
- Keep up with what’s trending, while still staying true to your unique style. This is a hard thing to do, especially in an ever-advancing world where new ideas spring up everyday! However, seeing as we already established that nothing ever really goes out of style, this won’t be so hard to do. Most new trends are built on already existing ones, so making adjustments to what you already have shouldn’t be too costly when it comes to money and time. And for those styles and pieces that don’t agree with your sense of style, you can simply admire them from afar.