Since isolating inside your home you may start to notice small details of your house or apartment you hadn’t thought about before—like why your older home doesn’t have a wardrobe, or how white subway tile became so ubiquitous. You may also be wondering if there’s anything you can do—aside from the usual cleaning and disinfecting process—to help keep your home as virus-free as possible during the coronavirus outbreak. This excerpt from an article that appeared in Architectural Digest dives into how epidemics impact home design.
Whether you realise it or not, a number of the design features in our homes today originated, or were popularised, because of previous infectious disease outbreaks, like the 1918 flu pandemic, tuberculosis, and dysentery. Here are a few examples of home design elements tied to attempts to prevent or slow the spread of infectious disease.
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White Kitchen Tiles and Linoleum
White subway tiles are classic, shiny, and easy-to-clean. They may even make you feel as though your kitchen is a more hygienic place to prepare food, and that’s exactly the idea. In the late 19th century, as people were beginning to understand how infectious diseases spread, public buildings—hospitals in particular—installed white tiles so workers could immediately spot any dirt or grime, and easily wipe it clean. Along with tiles, linoleum replaced hardwood floors and oilcloth as the sanitary flooring of choice, also thanks to being easy to clean.
Though household wardrobes have been around in some form for centuries, what we think of as the place where we store our clothes is a more recent innovation. In fact, up until the beginning of the 20th century, most clothing and related items were kept in stand-alone furniture. “It used to be that almost everything was [kept] in armoires,” Lloyd Alter, a former architect and design historian who now teaches sustainable design at Ryerson School of Interior Design, tells Clever. “When you look at the plans from the turn of the century, the closets are tiny, tiny, tiny—if they exist at all.” The switch to closets was to make rooms easier to clean. Bulky furniture items like armoires were difficult to move and therefore collected dust, which was thought to pass along germs. By the mid-1920s, Le Corbusier was writing about the importance of minimalism, cleanliness, and hygiene in home design, advocating for built-ins throughout the house, which eventually became the norm.
Though porches themselves have been around for a long time, and have been used as a place to sleep while escaping the summer heat, sleeping porches became popular during the tuberculosis epidemic of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In a time before antibiotics, sunlight and fresh air were the best-known “cures” for the deadly disease. People with tuberculosis flocked to the American Southwest—Tucson in particular. “One thing that we have as a result of tuberculosis is the ‘Arizona room,’ which was basically a sleeping porch,” Jennifer Levstik, an architectural historian and consultant with Logan Simpson, tells Clever. “They are basically porches that are screened in and usually on the back of the house—and that’s something that was part of treating the illness.”
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Half baths on the ground floor of a house near the front door—are also the result of the attempt to prevent the spread of infectious diseases in the early 20th century. Those were the days of having daily coal and ice deliveries. Every day, at least one delivery person would traipse inside your home after being inside many other homes, including some where people may have been sick with something contagious. You wouldn’t want delivery people to come into your house and use the bathroom and sink that the rest of the family was using. And, as Alter points out, having an accessible sink on the ground floor of homes made it more convenient for people to wash their hands—which, as we’ve been reminded of a lot recently, is crucial for health and hygiene.
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It is too early to tell what kind of home design innovations will come from the COVID-19 outbreak. Chances are good that features to help prevent or stop the spread of infectious disease will be top of mind again. Alter predicts the return of the vestibule—this time, with a sink immediately as you enter. A vestibule serves as a transition zone between the inside of the home and the outside world, and a sink in that area could provide a good sanitation area providing some much needed peace of mind.
Small apartment living is not unusual in big cities. Small spaces are not conducive with big changes. You may not have many options of where to place your sofa, or to purchase a larger dining table to fit all your guests, but you can make small changes that will make a big impact. If you are looking for ways to design the interior of your small apartment, follow the tips below.
Flinders Street Apartment
Map it out:
Instead of dwelling on the small amount of space you have to work with, map out your space and focus on what you do have. Taking time to map out various options for furniture placement will give you a good idea of flow and functionality. When planning the layout of a room consider the traffic flow – how will people move around the apartment? The placement of windows will also help determine where furniture is positioned.
Always start with the sofa:
A common decorating mistake is purchasing an oversized sofa, which will make an apartment feel cramped. Low-back sofas paired with an armchair or ottoman for extra seating work well in small spaces. It is also advisable to select a durable leather sofa that is easy to clean, especially when furnishing a rental property.
Distinguishing spaces and flooring:
Place the same quality flooring throughout an apartment, taking it outside onto a balcony or courtyard. This will help make a space flow. To distinguish living areas, use decorative rugs and create strong focal points, such as a key piece of furniture, a feature wall, adding a striking light or chandelier, a piece of art or a window with a beautiful view.
Lighting and space:
In confined areas it is best to avoid table lamps that have large shades. Use accent lights to draw attention to a special feature in an apartment, and task lights to illuminate work areas such as a desk or kitchen bench top. When it comes to small apartment living, always maximise natural light as this helps to open up a room.
Importance of multifunctional furniture:
To make the most of every square inch of space, select multifunctional furniture. For example, stylish ottomans can be utilised as storage space and as extra dining chairs when friends and family pop around for dinner.
Mirrors and increasing your space:
Mirrors can create an amazing illusion of space. When selecting a mirror for an apartment, think big. The bigger the mirror, the more light it can reflect. The positioning of the mirror is equally important. Make sure that it reflects something with depth, or a decorative painting.
Make the space personal with accessories:
Add personal touches to an apartment by displaying artefacts and special pieces collected on travels. Find a special spot for a treasured family heirloom and create a photo feature wall by grouping together an assortment of complementary frames.
Layer textured throw cushions and rugs in your favourite colours. The success of interior design is all in the details.
For help in designing your small studio apartment, contact Bernadette.
Worldwide, we have been spending a lot of time at home lately. Your bedroom should feel luxurious and like a place to escape. When choosing items for your bedroom it is important to consider room scale. “Hotel style is the feeling of luxury when you walk into a room. It doesn’t have to be done overnight, you can add elements gradually. The most important thing is that there’s something in the room that attracts your eye.” We will walk through how to style your bedroom to feel like a luxury hotel.
When it comes to creating a home sanctuary that you can escape to, it makes sense to borrow from the relaxed-yet-refined style of your favourite hotel retreats. At Ferrari Interiors we know a thing or two about recreating this look at home: It’s about introducing different elements to feast the eye on. Clients come to me with a home filled with brand new, top-end products; yet it doesn’t feel warm and they can’t work out why. By simply layering colours, textures and accessories you can create a room that looks expensive and inviting, and the best bit? It doesn’t have to cost the earth.
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Know what you like. It’s tempting to think you have to have your interior style mapped out before meeting with a designer, it’s about knowing what you like and more importantly, not being scared about what you like. You’ve only got to have one key element for us to work with. Anything can be a starting point; a piece of furniture, a favourite colour, a photo you’ve seen online. It gets the ball rolling – I’ve worked a whole house around a piece of fabric! Headboards are the focal point of a bedroom. Whatever style of headboard you choose, it will set the stage for the rest of your decorating in the room.
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Shop your house. The secret is to think beyond one focal point, and to have every area in the room accounted for: It’s not enough to have furniture, you need cushions, greenery, mirrors and accessories – they light up and turn on a room, and will set it apart from everybody else’s. I work hard to design an interior look in which all elements are interchangeable between rooms. By using the same palette, you can intermix furniture, rearrange the layout if you’re bored, or ‘shop your house’ for accessories you can swap from room to room.
Want to give your home the five-star treatment? These tips will help you sprinkle some of that hotel magic on your space.
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1. Learn to Layer
Choose a simple monochrome palette for your home that will provide continuity and flow between rooms. Next up, layer the room with textures and patterns to ensure the room is cosy and welcoming. For example, mix luxe silky cushions with tactile furry throws. And don’t forget to add black-out curtains in the bedroom. The owner of this bedroom in Abbotsford was stuck. She had bought all the furniture, but the space was stark and she didn’t feel good in the room. We brought in a bold, black and gold wallpaper – it was a brave move but it brings the space to life. I used the print as a starting point, teaming it with a mix of textures from a shimmering golden curtain and plush carpet, to a metallic mirror and crisp white sheets. If a bold patterned wallpaper is too much for you, I suggest considering a textured wallpaper as an alternative to pattern. Grass-weaves or printed textures give warmth and personality and can bring a scheme to life. I like to use wallpaper in most of my projects, even if it’s only in a subtle way.
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2. Add Greenery and Fresh Flowers
Drawing inspiration from the beautiful flower arrangements I see in top hotel foyers, I recommend introducing pops of greenery where possible: No matter how simple, fresh flowers and greenery add style and sensory fragrance to make your home feel luxe. Choose thick, waxy leaves for longer lasting arrangements. Orchids are elegant and timeless, and can look great in any room of the house – and if you’re on a budget, cut greenery from your own garden. In my own home, I group arrangements of cuttings in different height vases which work against any backdrop. I experiment with a look and edit; and then keep on editing.
3. Keep your Furniture to Scale
Bedside tables and lamps should be to scale for your space. Table height should be level with the top of the mattress not only for symmetry and style but also for functionality. Keep in mind as well what you want to go on your bedside table. Lighting is important in a bedroom, and a good bedside lamp will be both functional and stylish. Match the style of your bedside lamps to the style of your headboard. If you have a tall ornate headboard, a tall lamp will compliment it well. If your style is more sleek and modern, stick to a sleek modern lamp.
Our clients were looking to create a unique statement apartment that made their new two bedroom home stand out in this prestigious new development and to create a beautiful flexible interior. We will show you how you can think outside of the box and how to style your small living space.
The colour palette chosen for the project was soft and sophisticated using blues and taupe. This was enhanced by the use of textured wallpapers, luxe drapery and bed linen. High end furniture and custom upholstery was used throughout and striking accent mirrors in the living area increased the proportions of the room by reflecting light and opening the space.
A bookcase and an additional wardrobe were also custom made to provide extra storage options. Furniture selections were designed to be flexible allowing it to be moved around as needed offering greater flexibility and layout options within the limited space.
Whilst the building was designed with full length windows we have configured all rooms to maximise the penetration of natural daylight and allow views to the outdoors which opens the space up.
The unique aspects of the project are the use of textured wallpaper to compliment and bring out the best in the paint colours of the apartment and to compliment the luxe drapery and soft furnishings along with the use of an ethanol fire in the custom designed and Australian made entertainment unit.
Material, function and proportion were carefully considered throughout creating inviting areas that reflect the individual style and personality of the owners while carefully considering space and functionality in a small living space.
View the project here, and contact me with enquiries on how to style your small living space.