Another term of my Foundation Degree in Interior Design at KLC School of Design has passed and with it our first residential project and third project. It has been a roller coaster of emotions from frustration, satisfaction, disappointment, frustration again, stress and finally pride. I think it is all very normal when you care a lot for what you do to feel all these emotions, mostly at the beginning when you are still not 100% confident of your decisions. At KLC when we do a project, we learn and do the project at the same time with deadlines every week, which means we need to be sharp and receive new information quickly. This process can be stressful but all very rewarding when looking at the work done in the end. This is why I'm thrilled to show to the process, step by step, and the final design proposal here below.
Step 1 - Taking the Brief
The brief for this project was to design a living and dining room, kitchen, bathroom and utility room in a 155 sqm ground floor of a Victorian house in Clapham, South London. The owner is a young girl in her mid 20s and she will be sharing the two stories end terraced house with other three housemates. Our challenge was creating a space that would suit the owner's taste as well as any future housemates, as it is anticipated that people will move in and out every year or so. The homeowner didn't request a particular style or colour, only a fairly neutral scheme with pops of colour to add character.
Step 2 - Conduct the research
In order to give our design originality as all as a coherent look with the area, our research always beings from interest aspect of the location, the demographics, passing on to a full research about the client with hobbies, interests, and style preferences and, finally we look more at the space with similar precedents and what type of activities will take place inside the indoors.
The research can be time consuming and touch many different aspects. At KLC we learn to use mind maps to route our research and keep it concise and efficient, which I find very useful. I usually do couples of them, one macro about the whole research and then smaller ones for each "topic".
Something that really influenced my design decisions was the architecture of Clapham with very historic buildings from 1800s and polished modern buildings, sometimes even connected and part of the same institution. I think it's fascinating that they didn't try to emulate and blend in the new buildings with the style of the old ones, creating a contrast. This word, contrast, it's what I decided to bring into the design scheme with contrasts of colours and materials. I also looked more in detail about the client's hobbies, baking and yoga, and the self-sufficient lifestyle she is keen to adopt. I think these activities have in common a research of peace, calmness and balance to stay grounded on the things that matter in life. Therefore, I decided to create a scheme where my client and her housemates could detach from the vibrant lifestyle of Clapham and completely unwind.
Our client travelled often to Bali with her family and she had in program a trip to Canada to explore nature and do some trekking. After some research about these two countries I thought that the colours of the astonishing landscapes could create a fantastic palette with calming colours linking to nature. In the interview we made to the homeowner, she added that she likes to follow AD Magazine and the tours of the celebrities' home. The homes of Kendal Jenner and Hillary Duff were particular inspiring.
Step 3 - Composing the colour scheme
Another important step was thinking about the colour scheme and for this KLC gave us some instructions with different techniques that we could adopt. I decided to use a tonal scheme of neutrals from eggshell white, sand beige and tan brown/taupe for the main walls, ceiling and window frame. I then looked at how other designers implement the pops of colour in their scheme and I decided to use them in the accessories, artwork, greenery and lighting in order to keep the main scheme neutral and appealing to many people.
Step 4 - Style Post Card and Mood Board
Once I decided the colour scheme, we had to submit a Style Post Card and Mood Board. These tools are a guideline for us interior designer to create a cohesive scheme and to communicate our initial ideas with the client. This is why in the post card the main materials and finishes are stated and from the mood board, the client can captivate the atmosphere and feelings that the design will evoke. For this project, I wanted to create a relaxing scheme based on interesting contrasts, tactile fabrics, dark and light tones and bright pops of teal, olive green and rust colours.
Step 5 - Test different layout options
The following steps are what I call "the core" of the design process. I used planning templates to test different layouts in scale on the given structure of the ground floor. They are basically shapes of each furniture and objects. I then looked at the flow of movements that must be smooth without obstacles, and the distance between each furniture and very important, the ergonomics and anthropometrics. For this project, we could decide the size of each room and where to have internal walls and doors. Fire regulations were considered to isolate the kitchen, as well as, general building regulations for piping and indoor steps. When designing a bathroom and kitchen there are more technical aspects to look at such as: routing and inclination of pipes, lighting and flooring for wet rooms, etc. This was the main focus for this term and I really enjoyed learning more about this topic.
Step 6 - Sketching
To finalise the layout, it's a good practice to sketch all the ideas and visualise them in 3D. I draw few quick sketches for each space, and applied later on some materials to see how the colours fit together. I'll keep practicing with sketches as I believe it's a very important skill to master. Close to the sketches, I attached some inspirational images that I referred to.
Step 7 - The Technical Drawings
For this project, I drawn the technical drawings by hand with the help of a drawing board. The utility room is on the left hand side of the entrance door, however the washing machine, tumble dryer and a sink are underneath the staircase, as it was closer to the water supply. The bathroom and kitchen's floor have been raised to accommodate piping underneath the new flooring, and they are both North facing together with the dining room. The living room with a reading corner are South facing. Proper storage for drinks, music records and books have been included.
Step 8 - Sourcing
With the furniture and materials selected I created a furniture board for the dining room, living room, bathroom and kitchen. The furniture selected are a mix of modern linear forms together with more boho style furnishing. The dark walnut wood brings in interesting contrasts with the light flooring. I tried to include sustainable materials such as cork for the flooring, which is very resistant and insulating, and bamboo for the kitchen's cabinets which is also a durable material. As the house will be shared with other people, it was really important to consider the durability of the materials in high trafficked areas, such as the worktop of the kitchen and vanity unit. In the kitchen the splash back and the inside of the kitchen island will have Victorian hexagonal tiles to add a pop of colour and a hint to the period the house was built.
Step 9 - Sample Board
A very important part of the process was to compose a sample board for the living and dining room, showing the materials, finishes, fabrics, wall paint, window treatment, wallpaper, lighting and flooring that will be used in the space. I ordered so many samples that now my wardrobe looks like a sample library. I think this is the phase I enjoyed the most and I went for a neat and balanced presentation. It was important to link the style post card and mood board to the sample board and I think I did quite well. Can you see the connection?
Step 10 - Rendering and 3D Model
Finally the last two weeks were dedicated to model a 3D image of the kitchen with SketchUp and render it with Photoshop as well as the floor plan. With the same software we also created a Visual Lighting Proposal for the whole ground floor considering general, accent and task lighting.
I have definitely learned a lot during this project, not only about the design process and how to communicate my ideas to a client. I've learned a lot about my limits, curiosity and I gained more confidence about my abilities. Obviously, I need more practice in certain areas, luckily we still have plenty of time ahead as this was only our third project. In January, we will approach the end of our first year and another exciting project regarding a wellness retreat!!!
Please, let me know if there is anything you liked (or not) of this project, or if you have any question in the comments below. If you would like to know more about my progress in becoming interior designer, or simply about interior design and architecture in general, you can follow my Instagram account @interiorsbyambrosi and share it with friends and family!
Thanks for reading!