By: TERESA AZEVEDO COUTINHO
Teresa Azevedo Coutinho runs her own interior design consultancy in Lisbon and found her niche in designing holiday homes for UK and Irish clients. Her company is expanding with the undertaking of international projects and the opening of a new office in Lagos.
THERE ARE many small decisions that make things work. It’s that last layer between a sumptuous design and one that’s ordinary.
You might say accessories are the finishing touches that make a home. A lot of people build or buy a wonderful second home and put in fabulous furniture and drapes but it can sometimes look unfinished because they didn’t go that extra step to add personality to
People spend time entertaining friends and family in their holiday homes and favour cosy, casual, informal decors with overstuffed sofas and chairs and easy-to-care-for flooring. They want comfortable surroundings – homes they can really live in.
A living room that looks like a museum exhibit is not comfortable. Today, living rooms are for living, dining rooms are for dining. Space is at a premium and homes need to be
much more dynamic.
Rearrange furniture and bring in pillows, cushions and fabrics to add brightness. Use plants and flowers to complete the look.
A well-balanced room is an important element of good design but if you rely too much on symmetry to achieve balance, you’re likely to end up with a room that is far more formal than Portugal’s casual lifestyle favours.
Use objects of equal visual weight to achieve balance and group items in odd numbers to create a more informal balance to make your room more inviting and more interesting.
Allow a special piece to stand alone. One signature piece can say more than a group of items.
If there is a mantra for decorating this has to be it! The emphasis in furniture design should be on what styles make you feel the most comfortable and relaxed. The idea is that your home should be a simplistic haven from fabrics to paints to furniture.
Think storage factor. It’s of prime importance. Opt for some accent furniture which not only looks good but offers creative storage solutions for small or odd spaces.
Re-upholster the sofa with real or faux leather or suede. Leather has retained its popularity as an upholstery fabric, but we’ve seen it more and more emerging as the preferred option for holiday homes not least because it’s hardwearing.
Leather can make more of a statement if it’s intermingled with various fabrics, unusual textures and patterns. Add a classic shaped, leather chair to your living room in an unusual, rich colour.
Decorative accents are important to the room’s overall appearance. Opt for pared-down opulence using accessories featuring mirrored surfaces, polished silver or exquisite details. To complement colours and fabrics, seek out objects that reinforce the look with new picture frames, books and vases. No matter how tall your walls, hang pictures so they can easily be enjoyed when you are sitting or standing.
Pillows and accent cushions can be a quick pick-me-up for a room. Just recently for my exhibition at Casa Décor in Lisbon, I used cushions that were half pink and half orange. I then used a second coverlet which covered two thirds of the cushion. This means you can change the cushion and accessorise and team them with different accents for different moods.
Don’t wait for company to add fresh flowers. Flowers and plants, whether real or faux, add life to a room. The chic and simple look is great. Instead of using large vases, use a collection of small pots or glass holders. Just fill with water and insert the head of the flower, an orchid for example.
Do this with five or six holders and place as your centrepiece. It looks really effective. You can even just use greenery instead of flowers.
Additional similar touches that work well are filling a kitchen bowl full of green apples or red apples, repeating lots of the same item creates a more sumptuous look.
There are three hot trends in current colours. The return of brown and orange continues full tilt, as these warm and comforting hues have returned from 25 years of 70s-inspired banishment.
Additionally, the resurgence of “mineral tones”, lovely greys, browns, blacks and yellows has built momentum, especially for use in wall colour. Look for black – yes black walls to become a hot trend.
Clear Caribbean tones have started to supplant the more pastel tones of recent years. Used with restraint, these newest takes on “jewel tones” are working their way into both fashion and interiors, with tremendous results.
If you want to energise a bland room, try introducing higher contrast or bolder colours. Layer in accessories and some interesting coordinated fabrics in the form of throws, pillows and some new textures. Replace large artwork with a grouping of smaller pictures that will add motion to the room.
If you’re finding it hard to relax, make the room quieter by replacing high contrast colours with a monochromatic scheme or tone down with a more muted version. Try simplifying the lines in the room and paring down accessories. Get those bookcases in shape, with all books flush to the front of the shelves in size order.
Updating existing lighting is a great way to breathe new life into a room. Select a decorative fixture for the hallway or living room, change bedside lamps and add floor lamps in the sitting areas. Decorative candle fixtures are now very popular and a wonderful way to create mood lighting.
Interior designers offer a total design solution and focus on your brief to provide rooms that will suit your lifestyle.
Very often it is better to involve them right at the outset. It makes your whole experience much simpler. They will do all the work, source items and manage the project based on your ideas so you can just sit back and enjoy the fully finished detailed results.