With more people continuing to work from home and with the increased time spent at home during lockdown, interior design expert Neale Whitaker says design this year will be about reassessing the functionality and versatility of spaces.
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Functionality of the home was forced to shift in response to the challenges of the pandemic as kitchens became home offices, living rooms turned into yoga studios and bathrooms became a private retreat away from the stresses of daily life.
"On a global level, the pandemic has seen most of us spend more time than ever in our homes and that phenomenon is set to continue," Whitaker says.
"There will inevitably be a renewed focus on home offices, second living spaces, dining areas and home theatres.
"From an aesthetic perspective, we will see a continued emphasis on what is known as biophilic design - seeking ways to bring nature indoors.
"Long periods of lockdown have intensified our need to connect with nature in our homes," Whitaker says.
"At its simplest biophilic design is our love of houseplants, but at its most sophisticated, it explores the relationship between indoors and outdoors and the creation of outdoor rooms, which is especially important here in Australia," Whitaker says.
"This concept is also reflected in the current predominance of natural colours like greens, browns, ochre and natural materials like wood and stone".
The need to create workable living spaces in the home will also reflect the colours, patterns and textures that are incorporated in the home.
Contrasting textures add to the aesthetic interest of a room. It's what we generally refer to as "layering".
Layering has become especially important in recent years with the popularity of neutral interiors or interiors where one colour predominates.
"When an interior designer creates an interior scheme, they will generally start with a materials palette or mood board that brings together textures and materials that work in harmony together, such as brass and velvet, timber and linen, rattan and leather - and so on," Whitaker says.
Layering can also apply to window furnishings. A popular trend is floor-to-ceiling sheer curtains used in conjunction with blinds to add visual interest in addition to diffusing light.
Trending colours for 2022 particularly for living rooms, will include shades of brown such as caramel, tan, chocolate and latte shades, which are an alternative to grey-based neutrals that have dominated for several years. Shades of olive and eucalyptus are another prominent colour palette.
Another design trend is harnessing the power that light and privacy play in homes.
"Light can have a transformative effect on our living spaces," Whitaker says.
"In the northern hemisphere the focus is often on adding light sources to counter a lack of natural light for much of the year. In Australia, we have the opposite problem. We have an abundance of natural light that can sometimes be harsh and intrusive".
Diffusing and filtering light through window furnishings like blinds, shutters and sheer curtains gives us control over light and allows us to create not only privacy but mood and ambience in our living spaces," Whitaker says.
Window coverings are important for not only style purposes, but also in effectively blocking glare on computer screens, managing temperatures and keeping you comfortable.
"My own home on the NSW south coast is a perfect example of where we needed to control the abundant light without sacrificing beautiful outdoor views.
"In the main living area, floor-to-ceiling sheer curtains filter and diffuse the light whilst allowing full access to the view," Whitaker says.
When designing your home or if you're looking to revamp a few areas, it's important to remember your priorities.
Each room should have a justified existence and when considering design elements, homeowners should think about what they love and what they enjoy, and most importantly how they want to live in their home - design it for your needs.
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