08 May Inside Design . . . Designing around a view
I am privileged to often work on homes that are in exquisite natural settings. Sweeping harbour views; verdant, leafy surrounds; stunning ocean vistas – views and vantages that, at times, take your breath away. You might think such settings make the job of a designer easier but, in fact, a spectacular outlook can require more careful planning, not less! After designing for nearly 30 years however, you get to know how to deal with these things! I thought I would share some of the guidelines I use when designing around a view.
Use low furniture (sofas, dining chairs, etc.) so that you don’t obstruct the view – the idea is to complement and frame the view not compete with it. And besides, there is no point having that fabulous outlook if there is an immense armoire in front of it!
To bring a view in use tones and colours (or other elements) from the exterior surrounds – from some element of the view, or from the exterior surrounding the property. This can be done with subtlety or with drama, depending on the brief from the client.
If the client wants subtlety, use neutrals as your base and bring in colour as an accent, for example, artwork, scatter cushions, or throw rugs – as I have done in the below image.
If the brief allows more drama, you can discard the rules somewhat and use colour or pattern more liberally and obviously – you can probably see what I mean by this from the image below.
Texture works well with views as it creates detail and interest, creating a more dynamic space, rather than just something framing a view. In the image below, we achieved this with wallpaper.
In the right setting, and when used with care, patterns can accentuate a view. For example, if the view is leafy (like in the below image), floral patterns can connect the exterior with the interior.
The use of mirrors can be very effective for a view, especially if the outlook or room is small. They have an ability to amplify a view and provide an enhanced sense of space. Choosing a gorgeous mirror, like the one we used in the project below, brings texture and detail to a room as well. Win win!
Like most things, balance is key. There is a strong argument for less is more when you have a space with an expansive view, but you need to remember that, come nightfall, that expansive view can turn into a large blank expanse, so that’s when window treatments, good lighting, artwork, soft furnishings – and even outdoor accent lighting – come into their own.
Of course, there are times when a view is not so impressive, and at times like these you need to subtly obscure the outlook while enhancing the beauty of other elements of the room. A gorgeous way to do this is by using plantation shutters, rich timber louvres (see the image below), frosted glass or sheer window treatments. Each of these will shield the view, but still let light pour in. Leafy plants and trees outside a window will also obscure a less than perfect view, and of course bring their own beauty.
Every project is different – a different home, a different brief, a different aspect or outlook – so, while you can adhere to guidelines to some extent, every choice will be unique. That’s what keeps this amazing job so exciting and fulfilling.