Interior Design Ideas

LAURUS LIFE | Homestyle

How to turn your new build blank canvas into a picture-perfect home


You've bought your new home, but it's a blank canvas. You’ve got so many different interior ideas, but how do you implement them? Where do you start? How do you create the picture-perfect 'show home' look that inspired you to purchase your new home? Not to worry, we’ve got all those answers for you. We sat down with Sarah Mather, our lead Interior Designer for Pembroke Green, Earlsbrook, and Weavers Meadows, to give us the low-down on inspiration, creativity, and implementation! Make yourself a cuppa, grab a pen and paper, and let’s get right into it!

1. What inspires your interior design?


My inspiration doesn’t come from one place, it comes from everywhere. One of them which might not be so obvious is people’s real homes. They just inspire me. Social media has had a large impact on interior design as it’s brought people’s homes to us. As an interior designer, I look at various posts and think, "Okay, people are loving this trend, how can I explore that? How can I push that?". We now live in an age where consumers no longer want to be talked at by brands, people want practical information and honest recommendations, and so they seek inspiration from others.

Other things that spark my inspiration range from things like hotels to fashion; it can pretty much be anything. I'm also massively inspired by nature, and through that, I’ve come to understand that anything can inspire you on a certain day, from seeing a vibrant tree or seeing something completely out of the ordinary such as a puddle that has some petrol in it, with all the multi-colours in the puddles. It really can be absolutely anything.

Example of an interior mood board design

2. Do you use moodboards?


While moodboards are a great way to collect inspiration, explore ideas, and set the tone for an interior design project, we don't actually use traditional mood boards that you might imagine. We create digital moodboards which will have tiny textures of various things that inspire us, from trees to fashion, and it will all be on that digital mood board in one collage. We then go on to build a scheme from that.

3. How do you process your inspiration? 

The process of inspiration to the actual product is quite interesting. I go by what the feel of that inspiration is, and so if I got my inspiration from a lake, then I know I want something calm and placid. I will pick colours that come from that and then look for natural woods and things that tie into that image without necessarily coming directly from it. For example, it might be the shade of blue of a lake or it might be the way that the light is used in that colour. Anything can come from that inspirational picture. 

4. How important is it to follow design trends?  


It's important to understand that each trend has a meaning, a concept, an idea about how an architectural space should be used to make it aesthetic, functional, and suitable for everyday life in every way. How we use trends is we observe them, we follow them, we're inspired by them, but we don't necessarily take the whole concept into the house. We will take key items or key inspirations and use them in things like accessories and cushions, but we want the house to feel a lot more long-lasting than a trend. The trend items are just to punctuate a moment in time and then they'll move on and we can intersperse other items into the house to give it character. 

5. Does the style of the house initiate your inspiration?


The theme and inspiration that we pull design ideas from goes through the entire house. However, we do like to use different colour tones to pick up different personalities. For example, we might use a darker hue of the colour in a darker room to make it moody. For a teenage girls room, we might use a completely different colour such as pink, and then we could use playful colours in children's rooms and any other playful places that reflect that personality. 

6. Do you start in a particular room first?

We start with our inspirational image, but the house itself tells us a lot about what the design should be. If it's an open plan, it tends to be light, airy, with natural colours, lots of light, and different textures. If it's a naturally dark house with not a lot of natural light we'll lean into that and we'll use it as its strongest element, meaning we'll go with the dark colours, making it moody, comforting and cosy.

7. Do you have a process of which design is completed first?


We start with our inspirational image, but the house itself tells us a lot about what the design should be. If it's an open plan, it tends to be light, airy, with natural colours, lots of light, and different textures. If it's a naturally dark house with not a lot of natural light we'll lean into that and we'll use it as its strongest element, meaning we'll go with the dark colours, making it moody, comforting and cosy.

8. Do you follow design trends and how does this influence the design process?


The advice that I'd give to first-time buyers is to look at what they are already picking for themselves. If they look at their clothes or even their food, they'll find that there are natural trends there already. I’d then advise them to get on social media platforms such as Pinterest and put everything in one place. Upon reflecting on this, they’ll see that they actually have a fashion style for themselves that will carry through into their home. For example, if you're someone who likes bright colours, you'll naturally pick bright colours for your home and it's these things that will help connect and influence the design.

9. What about interior advice for second-time buyers moving to a larger home? 

If you're a second-time buyer, the key thing is to keep your favourite items and work from them. Your tastes change over time, but the things that you spend your money on such as your key items will be your basis and your foundation. Things that you can then go on to change in your next home could be cushions and other furnishing accessories. Perhaps it could be a feature wall in your new home that will revitalize those original items.

10. Any tips on how to schedule your interior design plans?


If you're a first-time buyer, I think the schedule that you should look at is things that are going to cost the most money first. Look at what you want to spend your money on, the key items that you can't live without, and then schedule it from that. Big purchases such as sofas and other large pieces of furniture are also usually the things that take the longest time to get delivered, and once that initial section is done, you can then work on all the smaller items. 

11. Do you buy everything from one store or brand?  

I wouldn’t advise buying everything from one place as your home could easily end up looking like an identikit. You could end up with the same house as your neighbour, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but dare to be different. I would say take inspiration from your favourite brand and perhaps buy your key items from them if you're brand loyal. However, you should look to source from other places as well, places that sell items similar to your favourite brand or that have a different quirky feel to them and really make it your own.

Earlsbrook Allerton Bedroom Interior

12. What about homeowners who might be working with a small decorating budget?


As far as our designs - we are very much inspired by the high-end look. Things on Instagram always look so perfect and amazing, but we don't necessarily always have the budget to create that look. What it all boils down to is pulling the key elements that inspire you from that and working out how you're going to be inspired by it rather than replicating it using those exact products. There are so many great things on the High Street that also do the same. They're pulling from the same inspiration, so you know that their version of it is going to be great.

family enjoying their new home

13. How does it make you feel, when you walk through a completed house?


It's an amazing feeling to see everything come to life, the transformation from an empty shell into this wonderful home. We walk into each room and picture how the family is going to use it. If it’s the kitchen, we picture someone cooking, and in the lounge where there’s a comfy sofa, we picture someone sitting comfortably watching TV during the weekend. It's an amazing feeling!

14. Whats your favourite part of the interior design process? 

My favourite part of the process is the installation, where the room starts off empty. We put all the boxes into the rooms, make a mess, and then in what feels like a blink of an eye, we turn around and that chaos has suddenly transformed into this beautiful room. The feeling is indescribable! 

15. Do you have a favourite item that stands out?


There's no one piece of furniture that I like the most. For example, we've got this lovely sideboard that ties in nicely with the dining table. I wouldn't say there's one favourite item as both items work well together. However, for some people there usually is a key item that stands out to them, and it can be anything unusual that they invest their money in and know is going to be special for a really long time.

16. Are there any special features you liked about this new build house? 

One of the great features of this house is the height of the rooms. All of them are a little bit taller than your standard specification and you really notice it, especially when you get up into the two bedrooms upstairs. The rooms are almost double height, which means you can really go to town on what would normally be quite a bold feature as it suddenly becomes diffused because you have that extra height.

17. Did the design of the house present any interior design challenges?


In this house, I would say the challenge was the light coming through into this space. We had to make sure that with all that light and airiness, you didn’t lose that comforting homely feeling. That's why we've used a lot of bright colours to make it playful as well as we didn't want it to feel cold or sparse.

boy and girl playing in their new home

18. What would you hope the new owners of this house would enjoy from your design?


My hope for the family moving in here is playfulness, fun, and spending time with each other. There are so many areas in this house that I can really see a family getting together and bringing extended family and friends together. This house is so big and spacious that you could literally fit your whole family in here for an event and it wouldn't feel crowded, especially this kitchen dining area. I really love the idea of a family getting together every weekend with the doors open to really enjoy the space and enjoy each other's company.

19. Which room is your favourite in this house?


One of my favourite rooms in the house is the lounge. In contrast to the light and spaciousness that you have in this dining room, the lounge is cosy and snug. We positioned the corner sofa in a way that allows you to gather with other people and watch TV there at the weekend. I could really see the kids of the house loving every single space. I can see them running around in the garden, coming into the kitchen, and then plunking themselves down in the lounge watching TV. There's no space that's off-limits for the kids, but then they've also got their great individual rooms which are quite spacious, so it makes them feel like they have their own play area within their rooms.

20. Which other room did you really enjoy designing?


My favourite room upstairs is the master bedroom. That amazing ceiling height is a real wow factor from the second you walk through the door and then you've got the added bonus of an on-suite. It, not just any on-suite as well, it’s a really big, which gives you the feeling of having a mini-hotel room within your own home.  

The kitchen in this house is also enormous. I can really see any wannabe chef loving spending time in this kitchen. You couldn't run out of surface space if you tried. You can really picture someone preparing Sunday lunch, or even Christmas dinner in this space. It's just beautiful.

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