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Tagged with 'interior design'

Why You SHOULDN'T Hire An Interior Designer

Kim Dugina of Harp Interiors
This guest post was shared on Renovator Mate by an interior designer who believes "you can have a chic, polished, clutter-free home that meets both your schedule and your budget delivered straight to your inbox".

Why You Shouldn't Hire An Interior Designer

Why I SHOULDN'T hire an interior designer... WHAT?!?

I bet you’re surprised to hear this from an interior designer! But there are some very good reasons why full-service interior design is not for everyone.

Having a beautiful home that fits your style and budget IS for everyone, but that doesn't mean that you need to hire an interior designer for a full service. In fact, there are certain types of people who could and should save their money to spend on the all-important furniture and décor items. Keep reading to find out who...

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You Love Shopping

If you love spending your weekends scouring furniture and décor shops searching for that perfect piece, that’s the right colour, size and price etc. — then hiring a designer may not be for you.

Working with a designer is more like dining in a 5-star restaurant: You place your order and the chef works his magic in the kitchen before serving your meal — you don't see every detail of how they made it happen.

When you hire a designer for a full service, they don’t expect you to shop for the "ingredients." If you would prefer to mix up your cake yourself, then perhaps you shouldn't hire an interior designer. 


Have a consultation with a designer who can send you to the right sources, with the perfect shopping list for your next shopping adventure. An e-design package is perfect for you if you love hearing that beautiful sound of the courier knocking on your door, without the fear of hoping it will fit where you want it or if it will look how you imagined.

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You Have Heaps of Free Time

Designing, sourcing, renovating and installing any space takes a LOT of time. You might love this type of challenge, and want to dedicate all of your free time to doing just that. Maybe you have taken the time to educate yourself on the technical software that designers use to document and illustrate their designs.

Interior designers spend countless hours staying up to date on the latest product offerings and continuing education. We take a substantial amount of time attending workshops, markets and courses to be sure that we can provide you with the best solutions.

If you have tons of free time that you can dedicate to doing the same, then perhaps you don't need any interior designer. 


Consider a virtual consultation with an interior designer that can fill in the gaps where you need it from the comfort of your computer.

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You're Not Ready to Make the Investment

If you haven't taken the time to think about how much you would like to invest into your home, you probably shouldn't be hiring an interior designer. Although having a beautiful home is something that everyone can achieve on ANY budget, working with a designer is making a choice to hire a professional.

When you go to the dentist, you expect to pay dentist fees.  The same goes for an interior designer! We love what we do but that doesn't negate the fact that we are business professionals providing both an experience for our clients and an expertly tailored end product.

When you're ready to invest in your home and your lifestyle, hiring an interior designer will help you get amazing results.


E-design packages start at only $499 and you'll get a detailed plan and a shopping list. You can design one room at a time and you are then free to purchase the recommended furniture and décor pieces in your own time and when your budget allows.

Save your coins and when you're ready, call an interior designer. I promise it will be worth the wait!

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You're A Control Freak

It’s ok, it’s not always a bad thing and I’m guilty of it too. However, working with a designer requires a measure of trust that you have to be able to give. Designers will always have your budget, lifestyle needs and timeline at the very top of their priority list.

The advantage of working with a designer is that we juggle all the little pieces that need to be coordinated for you to be able to get the results you want. In order for us to do that, you have to let go!

As the saying goes, too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the broth. Yes, the process is collaborative, but you have to allow yourself to rest in the fact that your designer's got the big picture handled.


Empower yourself and let your inner control freak shine first with an e-design package. After our collaboration and the design is in place, the ball is in your court. You get all the information, floor plans and shopping lists that you need for you to take control of the project whenever you’re ready.

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You're A DIYer

When hiring an interior designer for a full-service design project, you would never be expected to lift a finger. That means everything from the shopping, to the deliveries, to the installation is left up to us. If you would prefer to do it yourself, then hiring an interior designer may not be the best fit for you.

Lucky for you, many designers (me included!) provide e-design services where we provide a detailed design plan for you to implement yourself! That allows you to flex your DIY muscles and save a few coins too.


Tap into a designer's tips and long list of retailers (with furniture pieces you will never find at your regular shops), with a detailed plan prepared just for you in an e-design package.


You're Too Attached to Ugly Things

Yep, I said it! Some of you are holding on to things that just don't belong in your home anymore. I know it has sentimental value, or you paid a pretty penny for it 20 years ago but sister, it's gotta go!

Interior designers can do some amazing things with your existing beautiful furniture, art and accessories. But we can’t work magic on the things that just simply do not fit your current design goals.

If you prefer to hold on to grandma's vintage quilt and grandpa's dusty recliner, then working with an interior designer may not be for you.

Allow a designer to help you edit and enhance what you have so that you can live your best life! Let's chat!.


Did you see yourself in these reasons? If you did, that's ok!

The beauty of the design industry today is that there are so many ways that you can work with a designer.

Even though a full-service interior design may not be the best option for you, I encourage you to seek out a design service that will suit your personality, time and budget. (Hint: See Author Bio below.)


Author Bio

Kim Dugina of Harp Interiors helps homeowners create the beautiful, organised homes that they really want to live in and can’t wait to come home to. She likes to hang with her husband and kids, going to the gym, cooking for her teenagers, and watching UFO documentaries.

Kim Dugina of Harp Interiors

Interior Design Trends to Keep an Eye on in 2016

Interior design trends come and go, but these new 2016 style ideas look incredibly promising! Through this article we'll teach you how tell if they'll suit your home's overall design, how they should be executed and most of all how to improve the look and feel of your home. So keep on reading to find out how to make your home feel the most comfortable and welcoming it's ever been!


Opt for More Subtle Colour Choices

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Vivid colours can be distracting and make it difficult to truly relax. Therefore this year, colour schemes are all about using neutral and earth-toned hues. This will help you get your home in tune with nature, helping you instil a calm and tranquil aura. To match these tones also try and incorporate some wood detailing or furniture to further continue theme of nature and peace.


Bring Outdoor Furniture Inside

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The major advantage of bringing outdoor furniture inside is the rustic and charming style associated with those pieces. You may find the perfect material and design to suit your earthy indoor look. Secondly the furniture is much more resilient to wear and tear and hence will last you way longer and look way better for an extended period of time.


Invest in Multipurpose Furniture

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The main purpose of multipurpose furniture is not simply to act as a storage unit, but to accentuate functionality. Classic options include couches or sofas or coffee tables with hidden storage compartments.

Secondly they can be used in design. Surprisingly enough some of these furniture pieces may be exactly what your room needs to look amazing! They could also be used to separate an open plan layout into smaller sections so you have clear borders, or simply as an eye-catching centrepiece.


Try Neo-Industrialism 

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Although it can seem a little harsh at first glance, the neo-industrial look is very simple and brings many hidden charms. It's all about mixing up tough, industrial elements with softer tones to deliver a specific and refined look. So give this trend a shot as it is bound to spruce up any room you use it in!


Build a Family-Sized Living Room

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A living room should be a place where you can sit down and relax with your whole family. For this reason in 2016 we've seen a swing in trends toward large, open living rooms designed to bring everyone together. In these rooms you should also aim to cut out any unnecessary technology, and focus only on creation of a comforting and laid back space.



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Everyone wants a little luxury in their home, but the obvious problem is that not everyone can afford it! Luckily for you in 2016 luxurious items at just a fraction of the cost are on trend!

For example, say you want to spice up your floors with a little marble here or there. Undoubtedly you'll find the price tag attached a little daunting. Instead try opting for a cheaper alternative that'll give you the same look and feel such as Geostone polished floors! In comparison to marble you get more options regarding colour, shape and size, making this a worthy substitution.

Other faux-luxury items you might wish to indulge in include a small chandelier or pendant downlight instead of the real deal.


So now you've heard about the top new interior design trends in 2016 it's time to choose the ones you like the most, and then put your own personal spin on them! Remember not all of the trends will suit your home, and hence you should take time to decide what your house really needs. Finally keep your eyes peeled for any other funky new trends that might fly around the corner!

Back to Interior Design Basics: 6 Tips to Make Any Room Look Better

Interior design, like any other art form depends on your style preferences. You might believe it's necessary to have assistance from a professional in order to successfully decorate your home, but in actuality things aren't quite as complicated decorators would like you to believe. Essentially there are just a few basic tricks that can make a room look incredibly polished, so with further adieu here are six tips that will make any room look better.

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Minimalism Always Works  

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When redecorating it's easy to get into the mindset of what should I add to the space? This puts you at risk of overcrowding the room and creating unnecessary clutter. In order to avoid this stick to minimalistic style principles, where quality is valued over quantity. To learn more about minimalism check out these Scandinavian designers


Do the Maths before You Make a Purchase

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Aside from resorting to minimalism, you should also pay attention to the dimensions and shape of the furniture you buy. In other words, if you are tight on space, you need to select the elements that fit well into your room and yet provide you with the utmost functionality. For example, without sharp sides to bump into, a round dining room table could be placed into a corner, offering more eating space.


Have a Focal Point

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It is immensely important that every room in your home has some sort of a focal point. This is an area specifically designed to attract the attention of your guests. Now, some rooms have obvious focal points, such as a retro fireplace or a large window with a beautiful view. However, if your room doesn’t have such a place, you could simply create one, such as a central table or piece of artwork. 

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Another effective and affordable way to do that is to organize your focal point is to use a fancy rug and attention drawing rug! With numerous online stores offering a wide range of cheap, modern rugs, selecting such a dynamic piece has never been easier! While doing so, keep in mind that they must complement the room perfectly in size and shape perfectly. For example, if the room is small, a sophisticated round shaped rug may be an ideal visual element. 


Colours Can Create a Desired Appeal

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Colours can have a significant influence on the entire appearance of your room. When choosing the perfect palette for your room, never stick to just one hue. On the contrary, you should select around three. The first one is a dominant colour that is used for walls or carpeting. A secondary colour takes up about 30 percent of a room and is usually used for upholstery and furniture. Finally, there is an accent colour, used with accessories to bring vivacity and energy to your place.


Natural Light Brings Vivacity

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Light can invoke a feeling of spaciousness and relaxation. Therefore you should try to bathe your room in as much natural light as possible. For example, add some statement mirrors, choose bright palette and avoid curtains that would light. To continue this warm, bright and light feeling at night or on cold and gloomy days you're going want to ensure the space is well lit. I recommend investing in some warm white LED downlights in order to do this!


Give Your Home a Brand of Your Own 

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When decorating your home, it’s always nice to gain inspiration from famous interior designers. However, if you don’t put your personal stamp, you will never feel fully comfortable. Because of this you should accessorise your interior with pictures, vases, pillows and area rugs that suit your taste and create a sense of homeliness to you

4 Free Online Interior Design Planning Tools

When designing homes and drawing up room plans you often change your mind. Instead of facing the tedious task of having to draft and redraft copies of a paper floor plan, you can alternatively opt for using free online interior design planning tools. These programs are not only fun to play with, but can provide you with accurate 3D renderings that'll allow you to visualise what the room will look like from all angles. Therefore, you can try out all your ideas before you have to commit to them in real life.


1. Autodesk Homestyler

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Autodesk Homestyler is a super simple and quick way to produce 3D floor plans. Just drag and drop rooms and expand with room additions to quickly design your dream house. This program additionally allows you to play with decorations and accessories, really allowing you to visualise what your rooms will look like. It also gives you access to the library of designs other people have created using the program which is handy!


2. Homebase


Like Homestyler, Homebase offers you a room planning program. Its a little harder to work than the aforementioned program and often takes time to buffer and load, but it still provides you with a high quality 3D representation of your design. Although, where homebase really proves its worth is with its range of free calculators. The flooring calculator, paint calculator, wallpaper calculator, tiling calculator and insulator calculator can all help you determine the quantities of materials you will require to build, eliminating wasteful excesses and irritating shortages.


3. Magnet

Magnet is a tool specifically designed for kitchen design. You can either start from scratch, or use one of their predesigned rooms if you need a helping hand. You can then choose where to place your kitchen cabinetry, worktops, lighting, chairs etc. You can easily swap between 3D and 2D, and also between top and front views.


4. SketchUp

Lastly we have SketchUp: an incredible popular and well functioning modelling software commonly used by interior designers worldwide. You can opt for either the free or paid version, but either gives you a wide range of functions. Unfortunately its not the easiest software to use, but lucky for you there are many tutorials on offer. I would highly recommend investing some time and money into understanding the software to save time and stress.


So if your looking for a simpler and more flexible alternative to paper floor plans check out these 4 free online interior design planning tools. Each has its merits and disadvantages so test them all to find the one that is best suited to you! Check out this article from 'Interior Style Hunters' for more information.

How to Make Your Room Seem Bigger

It doesn't matter how spacious your room is, its what you do with that space that matters most. In fact, decorating small spaces is a challenge as much as it is a reward. Throughout this blog i'm going to teach you about the various manipulative tips and tricks which can make a room seem bigger, and what you should definitely avoid so your room doesn't seem smaller. 


Opt for Minimalist Designs

The first trick to making a space seem bigger than it is in actuality is the principle of minimalism. Minimalism fixes the issue of clutter, letting more light into your room and giving you more space to move.


In order to achieve minimalistic design you need start off by sorting through all your possessions. You must only keep what you absolutely need within the room, and nothing else. You will quickly learn that you have a lot of stuff that can be stored somewhere else in your household, or that you don't need at all! You will also realise that less can indeed be more. For ideas try looking at examples of nordic interior design, as one of the key principles of this style is minimalism.

Smart storage techniques:


Now what do you do with that necessary stuff that has to stay in the room? Using creative storage techniques you can hide your items from plain sight, continuing on with the theme of minimalism. Instead of placing a huge cupboard or cabinet in the room have bookshelves or drawers made that inset into the wall. Alternatively try coffee tables and ottomans with hidden storage compartments within.


Use Small Rugs


A rug can be used to manipulate the appearance of a space. A smaller rug will make your room appear huge, as it will expose a large quantity of floorspace. Alternatively a large rug that consumes most of the floorspace will diminish the size of the room. Apart from being a space manipulation tool a rug can of course also add style and flair to your room. Check out these beautiful carpets from Zado which are both unique and functional.


Manipulate the Light

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The way in which your room is illuminated can affect the way in which it is perceived. Dim lighting can serve to make your room seem smaller, so alternatively opt for higher wattage lights.

Moreover opt for a series of lamps or hanging lights placed around the room, rather than one downlight centred in the middle of the roof. A downlight pools all the light in one spot, creating shadows in the corners which make the room appear smaller. Try these hanging vintage LED lights to add unique flair to your room.


Wall Color and Pattern

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Another thing that can make your room seem larger is its colour. Try brighter colours such as white, cream or subtle greys and yellows. Patterning your wall can also impact dimensions: vertical stripes increase the height of the room, whilst horizontal stripes make it seem wider. 


As you can see, where there is will, there is always a way. Regardless of how big your room is, what matters the most is how much effort and research you are going to put into it. In order to create truly elegant ambiance, you must rely more on your imagination and creativity and less on material resources.

Simple Home Decorating Tricks

Have you ever wondered why some people's homes seem to radiate with sunshine even on a cloudy day? It is usually the obvious that is missed and easy to fix. Check out some of these ideas that leave you wondering why you hadn't thought of it before.

Wipe Out the 'Lived In' Syndrome

A home does not have to be a mess to be comfortable. Shoes in the middle of the floor, newspapers strewn on the couch, and a coffee table piled with remnants of last night's dinner, games, or reading material can make the most attractive home confusing. This appearance also makes every member of the family feel more tired than they actually are. Compare this scene to visiting a big box store early in the morning. This is normally when shelves are restocked and aisles are filled with cardboard boxes and carts. Even though you know exactly what you want to buy, the sight puts your mind in a fog and you can't remember where anything is. Get rid of the clutter.


Mirrors with a Second Meaning

When someone mentions that mirrors are a great way for expanding space, most people see themselves checking their clothes and hair at every turn. Believe it or not, this is not how it works. Mirrors do not attract faces but do attract light and extra room. If you have a corner that always seems dark, try adding a series of mirrors to reflect the light from windows located on other walls. They can be long, thin and without a frame or a collage of smaller framed styles. Make sure to keep your windows uncovered in order to bring in the ultimate effect that the reflection can give.


Furniture Needs

Furniture is a necessity for sitting, resting and relaxing. Compromising comfort for looks often leads to sore muscles and choosing to avoid the room or making a seat on the floor. No matter how awesome a furniture grouping may appear, always give it the rest test before purchasing. There are several furniture manufacturers that combine form and function for a dazzling effect. Using modern furniture in a home not only projects straight lines and organization, but can also open space that is limited and be inviting to visitors.

Do Not be Afraid of Yellow

Yellow signifies joy and happiness. It does not have to be the shade of the sun or a blast of neon in order to be a part of your decor. Muted yellow goes great with all colors of the rainbow and can add quite a bit of spice to a dreary room. This does not mean than you need to go crazy and outfit your space with yellow. Think subtle, such as a clear glass jar of sunflowers, an abstract painting that depicts strong bright colors, or a couple of butterscotch pillar candles on a side table.

Yellow highlights

Task Lighting that Outlines Taste

You may know that ambient lighting is important for keeping an even flow of light in a room, but task lighting can provide a dramatic flare to items of pleasure or create a focal point with clarity. For instance, if your grand kids are a source of joy, keep them alive in a room by using framed action shots and further lined with track lighting to feel the zest of their young lives. Fireplaces are also a great feature for highlighting with upward or downward task lights that draw eyes to this focal point.

Fragrances with Impact

One of the reasons why you remember visiting a happy home is not always due to what you see. Scents play an important part in how people remember our homes. If a home has a sanitized smell, it can make you uneasy, like visiting a hospital. Orange is a favorite scent if you want to keep the air fresh-smelling and not overbearing. Natural is also a good choice, like Eucalyptus or almond.

Make your home a pleasant place for retreating to and find yourself feeling fresher, more relaxed and happier with your new surroundings.

What benefit is an interior designer to me?

Hiring an interior designer may sound like an unnecessarily expensive addition to the cost of your home renovation but it doesn’t have to be this way. Interior designers vary in price, according to their experiences and schemes but there are certainly ways to include the ideas and works of an interior designer without blowing out your budget. Before hiring an interior designer is it important to know what styles you like so that you can co-operate and work together to make your new dream home.

What do they do?

Interior Designers, after years of experience in the business, have a magnificent eye for mixing colour palates with textures, architectural designs and functional floor plans. They are able to look at a design from both an aesthetic and practical point of view. Most people believe that an interior designer spends most of their hours deciding between cushion covers and lampshades however this is often the last thing on their mind when working on your home design project. If possible, include an interior designer from the beginning of your home renovation and include them in the floor plan and design. They can provide input into the placement of doors, windows and structural support beams. An interior designer will work with you to pursue the desired lifestyle and mood that your home needs as well as managing the relationship with tradesman and builders.

Why get one?

Unless you have a profound eye for detail and are clear on exactly what you want and need in your home design, hiring an interior designers will add depth and dimension to your plans. The trained eye of an interior designer can provide an array of design ideas or just help to channel your thoughts into a functional plan. An experienced designer will have attention to detail and devise clever solutions for room layouts.

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How much do they cost?

Depending on your budget, the cost of an interior designer can almost always fit into your budget. Interior designers can be hired for a few hours to simply provide direction and establish thoughts, or for multiple sessions if you really have no clue as to what you are after. Cost will vary from $100 for a one off session to 5 figure numbers if so desired. Make sure you understand from the start how much they are going to charge. Some designers will charge by hour, others by a flat fee and some may charge a percentage of the total cost price. Make sure this is clearly defined from day 1.

Are they right for you?

Unless you have seen multiple homes from the same designer that fit your aesthetic dream perfectly, it is often safe to explore and speak to multiple interior designers before settling with your chosen one. The main aim is to ensure that they understand and can match your style. Most designers have their own certain look and although can stretch this to match your design, you will obtain the best possible outcome if you opt for someone that has a passion and eye that matches yours. Look for parallels between previous designs and what you are after. Ask previous customers if they are happy with their final design as well as the process and relationship that they had with their interior designer. Even if their style matches yours perfectly, it is important that you get along and see eye to eye with the person that is designing your dream home.

What is the first step?

renovation interior modern After you have decided on an interior designer, the first step is to begin collecting samples and cut outs of patterns and designers that have inspired you. It may be hard to articulate the look that you are wanting but by providing photos, your desired design can be easily described. Designers will have their own lavish collection of swatches and cut-outs, photographs and past works but the more input you can provide, the easier it will be. Share your knowledge of exactly what you are after from the very beginning to kick-start the project and avoid clashes of thoughts and ideas further down the track.

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And finally, continue to be open minded, regardless of what ideas are thrown at you. Interior designers quite often have a much better understanding of how ideas will work in a practical manner. Don’t say no straight up without considering all suggestions. Listen to everything and give yourself time for the ideas to soak in. Interior design cannot be rushed. Good luck!

What Does Your Lighting Say About You?

More often than not, lighting isn’t considered to be the most revealing aspect of your home. However, did you know that your preferences in lighting can describe a lot about your personality than you might have thought? Certain types of lighting are suited for different personality traits, and here are six of them.


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This type of lighting owes much of its design to elaborate Victorian style home designs which had very intricate bay windows and stained glass doorways. The aristocratic houses were very lavish and you can identify how this has resonated through to the Victorian chandeliers. These types of lighting reveal your very sophisticated and cultured nature.

This can add the perfect traditional look to your living room. If you invest in antiques and you like anything vintage for your house then this lighting is the one for you. With the growth of Victorian homes, it is only natural to also have lighting that suits this type of look.


Gothic art and works have always been generally very intricate and immense to say the least. The Gothic movement in itself was influenced by the growth of Christianity the stunning new cathedrals that were being built. It is no surprise that this is also evident in the lighting.

Classic, broody and chic: it gives you that perfect Wuthering Heights vibe that you’ve always longed for. This is pertinent tor people who enjoy and embrace the darker side of life. These lightings are well suited for those rooms with dark colours and can be used to accentuate it. Gothic lighting comes in many darker shades to suit even the pickiest of us.


With the new modern age and the rise of technology, people are searching for far better innovations than just a typical lampshade. This can be considered the direct descendant of minimalistic lighting but with a twist of enhancive technology to give it a boost.

Having modern lighting is becoming very popular among newlyweds who are just decorating or moving into their newly bought homes. Personalities who thrive on simplicity and elegance are particularly drawn to Modern lighting.


Minimalistic art has slowly crept its way into our contemporary lives. This is perfect for single, young people looking for a very simple look for their homes. The idea of “less is more” cannot be applied better anywhere else.

The history of minimalistic tradition stems from the 60s with the great emphasis on bold geometric shapes being able to do most of the talking. Minimalistic lighting is best suited for clean freaks who dream of houses devoid of clutter and unwanted mess. People who love simple and block coloured shades will fall in love with the pendant and opal shape lamps.

Art Deco

This is a modern movement that has certainly made its mark. If simplicity defines minimalism in one word, then decorativeness epitomises Art Deco.  These lamps rely on bold, geometric shapes that are bound to make a statement. Decorative patterns combined with valiant shapes were initially Egyptian inspired motifs from pyramids to sphinxes.

Anyone that is very opinionated and would consider themselves strong minded would be drawn to Art Deco lighting. This is apt for single individuals in their 20s who are still attempting to find their feet.

1950 Vintage

The 1950s declared the new age for the consumer and everyone wanted new, modern designs for their homes but with a hint of the classic vintage look. This officially paved the path for 1950s Vintage lighting.

This is a perfect theme to choose when you decide to settle down and have a vintage style house with your new family. With its very colourful and vibrant nature, this can be considered the antithesis to minimalistic lighting. If you adore that retro diner lighting look, then this will be your ultimate dream.

Who knew that all these different lighting could be so revealing about one’s personality? What is your favourite lighting style?

Bio: Elisabeth is a freelance writer and likes to experiment with interior design. When not busy writing, she loves to help her friends and family decorate their homes.