The secrets to good interior design: A top designer takes us round a luxury property – and offers three tips to give your home a stylish look
- Top 100 interior designer Alexander James reveals some top tips for your home
- It believes good design is listening and collaborating with its clients
- It works across a range of budgets, from £600,000 flats to £30million mansions
Bringing an interior design scheme together takes months of planning and hours of picking out the most suitable materials.
So, how can you achieve a similar effect, with much less time and budget to spare?
We spent a day with one of the world’s top 100 interior designers, Alexander James Interior Design, to learn about what stages are involved, the tricks it uses and how they can be incorporated into your own home.
The team at Alexander James designed this scheme at a penthouse in Ascot, Berkshire
Attention to detail: The dining space has chairs with different fabric on the front to the back
The team at Alexander James Interior Design have been working together for years, and in some cases decades, with the head designer Stacey having worked with the founder Robert Walker for 20 years.
Robert started the company from his kitchen table in 1995, naming the company after his first son.
Today, the company is responsible for design across a range of budgets, from £600,000 one-bed flats in Hoxton, in London’s East End, to a £30million mansion in Berkshire.
Its approach is always the same, using ‘dramatic interiors without the amateur dramatics’, working side by side with clients – something that is reflected in one of its latest projects in Ascot, Berkshire.
The main space in the Ascot penthouse includes an open-plan kitchen and living room
The designers and stylists worked together to produce the finished scheme at the penthouse
Natalie Rudland, one of the senior interior designers at Alexander James, explained the secret to great interior design, saying: ‘A great interior design scheme is a result of great preparation and planning.’
She added: ‘Not everybody can visualise scale so it is important to have scaled drawings, hand drawn sketches and computer generated images to help visualise a home.
‘Our designers know all the devices that enhance a room – for example how to extend ceiling height by using longer curtains, and which colour palette to use based on the direction of incoming light to make a room look its best – all of which are realised at the initial planning stages.’
Preparation: Bringing an interior design scheme together takes months of planning
The team at Alexander James work with a variety of budgets and say soft furnishings and accessories can be used to deliver a stylish look
A Tigermoth chandelier hangs in the centre of the ensuite bathroom at the penthouse
The penthouse has a large entrance hallway with mirrors on the walls and large lamps
Even the wardrobe at the penthouse has items added, including neutral clothing
The finishing touches to its schemes are put together by its team of stylists and florists.
Its florists work from concept boards and colour schemes, picking out textures and colours of vases to compliment the design scheme.
They also select appropriate flowers for each season. I
t means that if they are dressing show homes that are being viewed by potential buyers in the summer, they will choose flowers that are in bloom at that point in the calendar.
Everything is then brought together on site to reflect the brief set out by the client, which range from the private homeowner of a £600,000 flat to an established developer with a £30million mansion project.
Laura Leadbetter, also a senior interior designer at Alexander James, added: ‘Design is a collaboration and is a sign of a good designer who is able to listen.’
The scheme at the development in Ascot that we visited highlighted these three tips below that can be used in your own home.
They cover using chandeliers in the bathroom, bold wallpaper prints on a feature bedroom wall and grouping accessories in old numbers.
Incorporating these tips into your own well thought out scheme will pay dividends when it is completed, and reveal a designer touch to your own living space.
Go bold with bathroom lights
For most people a bathroom light is a largely functional endevour, but the designers recommend not being afraid to use bold lighting in bathrooms, such as this chandelier.
Any lighting used in a bathroom will need to have the correct ‘IP rating’. This would be a rating of IP65 for lighting placed directly above a bath or basin, meaning that the light is completely water resistant.
The bathroom light used in the Ascot development is by Tigermoth.
The team at Alexander James advise not being afraid of using chandelier lighting in bathrooms
Use patterned wallpaper to match the room’s scale
The designers recommend using wallpapers with large patterns that match the scale of the room where it is being used.
In the Ascot development, the designers used wallpaper in the guest bedroom called Willow Song, which is by Zoffany.
The designers explained how they then used large scale bedside lamps and furniture pieces with this wallpaper.
Designer tip: Use wallpapers with large patterns that match the scale of the room
Think about and group accessories together
And finally, the designers recommend grouping accessories in complimentary colours and using items of varied height.
They also suggest grouping accessories in odd numbers, such as in groups of three or five.
Odd one out: Group accessories in odd numbers, such as in groups of three or five
The accessories on the bedside table are also grouped together in complimentary colours
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