“If you follow trends, you’re trapped into updating every couple of years. Not only a waste of money and time – your home never feels finished. For me, home is a very personal space; somewhere to feel safe and relaxed. It’s where you create happy memories and this should be at the heart of the ‘look’ in a home.” Read on for more of Dominika’s top tips.
Build a neutral base
“Building a strong neutral base allows you to experiment and accessorise with colour in soft furnishings and seasonal décor. If it’s not your forever home, this will appeal to buyers without having to make expensive changes and if you’re renting, it’s easier to add your personal stamp when the base is neutral. Further elevate the look of a room by painting the skirting, walls, woodwork and coving all the same tones to make low ceilings look higher whilst giving a subtle 3D effect, rather than just a flat wall. Same with radiators – unless you have period or modern rads – paint them the same colour as the wall, to blend in.”
The colour test
“We’re not blessed with natural light in the UK, so that LA mansion on Pinterest won’t compare to Surrey! Also, many properties here are period, much smaller, with low ceilings and this affects how paint behaves and walls will look totally different depending on where the light is. North facing rooms are always dark, so the same white paint in a south-facing, sunny kitchen, will look dirty and gloomy in a north-facing lounge. The trick is to use a white (or a colour) with a yellow or red undertone to warm up the space. Or, go darker, especially if it’s a lounge or bedroom; deep blues or greens with (again) a warm undertone will create a cosy vibe.”
Lighting is everything
“Follow these three lighting ‘rules’ to transform a room, regardless of size and budget. The first is ‘Task’ lighting – spotlights in the kitchen or a bedside table light for reading or journaling, these allow plenty of functional light. ‘Ambient’ is atmospheric – pendant lights over a kitchen island or over a dining table. ‘Accent’ lighting is gallery lights over a picture or a floor lamp next to an armchair – these subtly spotlight certain pieces or areas of a room. Get to know the flow of the room first, then work out where you need light for practical reasons and where you need it to create atmosphere or added drama.”
“Think about every single opportunity to create extra space; banquet seating that doubles up as hidden under-seat cupboards or a coffee table that’s an Ottoman, storing board games and blankets. Use the full height of a room for shelves and take kitchen cabinets up to the ceiling – they’re ideal nooks for random bits you bring out for birthdays and Christmas. Be realistic too – if you have a young family, no amount of storage will ever hide a walker or bouncer!”
Mix up shapes
“Notice how many edges, clean lines and corners are in a room and cleverly soften with curved pieces. A round dining table can soften the cabinetry of a kitchen, as can a large, oval mirror finish off a squared fireplace. It’s all about balance and creating harmony with the use
of different shapes in the right place.”
Create zen zones
“Layout is key. Define the space first, know its purpose and function, then use large rugs to ‘zone’ areas. If you’re in the design stage, similarly, use different flooring in large, open plan spaces, or create a tiled border around a kitchen island to mark it off from the dining area all of which will create a more defined flow.”
Size & texture
“Small but lots of furniture will create a ‘busy-look’. Equally, one large colourful sofa will make a statement. Proportions need to be exact in a space to avoid too many things shouting for attention. Create calm with larger but fewer pieces, even in a small lounge, a sizeable sofa rather than several pieces is less chaotic – and make that piece (or pieces, if the space allows) the thing that tells your story, your style, your personality.”
Dominika Palladino is the founder and lead designer at Lilibel Interiors, a bespoke service focused on residential family designs and living solutions in Surrey, Sussex and SW London.