Buying your own flat is always very rewarding and exciting, given two facts: you are getting a permanent address and you can now plan to design and decorate the flat as you wish.
Many tenants often complain they cannot even drill a hole into the wall to hang a picture. But having your own apartment gives you that flexibility and freedom. You can drill your walls into oblivion if you choose to (but for obvious reasons, it is best to refrain from doing that).
The very first thing that you need to fix is the budget, which is very essential and basic. You can go crazy with cash if you have enough, but at times, even with a small budget and limited spending, a space can be enhanced beautifully, whether that be through the installation of a false ceiling with a lot of spotlights, fancy furniture, or flashy marble.
Interior design is a primitive practice. Everyone staying in their own space knows how to organise their stay. But sometimes, if you can afford it, you can hire an expert who will help you translate your desires in a better way. Here's a look at the basics though, so that you can take things into your own hands for now.
New or old
Is the flat you are buying old or new? This question is very important in many ways. If the flat is new, then there are scopes where you can talk to your developers to improvise. You can alter your space sizes and, at times, the materials, such as floor and washroom tiles and bathroom fixtures and fittings.
Keeping with the exterior outlook of the building, the interior spaces can be readjusted upon discussion when still in the development phase. There might be different conditions and guidelines set by the developers.
But if the flat is old or a second-hand purchase, then there might be difficulties. As the building might have occupants, it gets very difficult to do work like resizing the room areas, scraping floor tiles, etc. because these works contribute to noise and dust, and most people living on the adjacent floors have objections regarding such disturbances.
When buying a flat, the first thing that a developer shows you is the plan or layout of the flat you are buying. You get to know the dimensions and sizes of the spaces. If it is new, then you can redesign the whole layout as per your requirements. Many people have preferences about bathroom and kitchen sizes, as commercially developed buildings try to minimise these service areas to make the space more economical.
But if you are buying an old flat, then try to organise your furniture in the best possible way to optimise the waste of dead space.
Colour palette and style
Most people generally do not focus on these two things while decorating or discussing the design with a professional. Everyone is different, and they have different tastes. So, creating a mood board is a must. There are different types of styling that they are not aware of. The most hyped style in the present time is the modern, minimalist, or contemporary style. These styles are easy to maintain and can be acquired within a viable budget.
Colour has a very important role when it comes to space. Colours can change the mood and ambiance of a space, given their power to subconsciously play with human psychology. As a home is said to be the most peaceful and restful space, it is preferable to use lighter tones in the colour palette. Light colours are soothing to the eyes and help keep the mind calm.
Walls are enough
When it comes to elevating and enhancing a given space, walls are the best places to focus. Walls are usually at our eye level, so we notice them very frequently. Using a painting in coordination with the wall colour can be a very easy but elegant way to uplift any space. Framed photos, single or multiple, family or subjective, can also be hung on the walls. One can even make a memory wall with family or ancestry pictures, or even a wall to pin pictures from travel destinations.
If you want something three-dimensional, these days, there are beautiful open shelves, which you can customise and make yourself or even buy from shops. These shelves add dimensions to the wall and the space and can also accommodate decorative items.
Simple ceilings are the best ceilings
The most expensive form of interior decoration is a false ceiling, which in most cases is unnecessary. The flats we generally buy are usually a maximum of 9.5 feet in height. In these given heights, if you bring a false ceiling, then the height is reduced, making the space more compressed.
But at times, it is necessary to bring false ceilings into the design, mostly to hide wires or other interruptive service functions that are not desired to be displayed. But if it is not needed, it is better to keep the ceiling open and wide. This will make the space look bigger and more open.
To bring out the actual beauty of any space, the most essential element is light. If it is not visible and pleasing, then what is the use of designing and decorating a beautiful space, right? Mostly, it is preferred to use natural to warm tones (3000–4000 K), which makes the space look elegant.
There are different types of lights. There are focal points and spotlights used, especially over wall paintings and photographs. There are wall-mounted lights that can also be used to lift the walls. To enhance the ceiling and overall light, light panels can be used. Pendant lights can be used to give a space a three-dimensional feel. At times, if there is a bigger space in the living or dining areas, one can use a big hanging light given the desired styling they are following.
Floors elevate too
When the mood board is decided, the floor colour should also be fixed. Given the colour of the spaces, the floor colour should come in coordination for the best outcome. It is also preferred to use lighter colours of tile or marble to make the space look bigger.
Furniture is the element that defines space. Given our climate, context, and lifestyle, it's better to use lightweight and attractive furniture. For storage like wardrobes or closets, these can be made built-in as this is your flat. This will give you the flexibility to customise this furniture as per your needs. Make sure the materials of the furniture coordinate with your colour palette.
To fill the empty spaces on the shelves and the dead spaces, show pieces come in very handy. These can be small sculptures or collectibles. They act as jewellery for the spaces. These might not seem necessary, but once you are done with the basics, you will feel the necessity of these fillers, which give character to the spaces in detail.
Plants are your best friend
Indoor plants are the best elements to complement any style. As well as having health benefits, plants are very versatile. There are a range of indoor plants out there in the market, of different sizes, and none can go wrong.
The author is the Principal Architect of Parti.studio and Editor of TBS Habitat.