Expert advice that anyone can use
Not everyone can bring in an architect when they’re remodelling their home, so Livingetc asked Mike Stiff, of leading UK architects Stiff + Trevillion, to give us five, easy-to-follow tips as to how to give a property a thoroughly modern edge.
1. Create a clear line of sight
‘When you walk through the front door,’ Mike says, ‘make sure you can see the garden. It’s a simple thing, but it makes the house feel open, vibrant and positive. There’s no doubt about it, light is the key to interior design, so think about using glass doors internally to let in light and invest in a really good-quality glazing system and insulation to ensure the house doesn’t burn excess energy.’
2. Install semi-hidden light fittings
‘I prefer not to see the light source, unless it is a beautiful object in its own right,’ Mike continues. ‘We often install downlights and LED strips for the way the light looks and illuminates. I’m pretty fed up with the bare-bulb look –
it’s overused and predictable, although we do like reclaimed pieces from companies such as Skinflint and Trainspotters.’
3. Storage is key to a clutter-free look
‘We tend to use concealed storage in the more classically minimal projects,’ says Mike. ‘The “industrial chic” look works well with open shelves and suspended features, while in more rural projects, we might use materials such as timber and wicker. Storage needs to sit well in the background rather than draw attention to itself. Space is at a premium more than ever, so looking at the Japanese style of living is a good starting point. Read Marie Kondo‘s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.’
4. Your choice of materials matters
‘There’s a definite interest in brick, which was unfashionable for ages,’ Mike explains. ‘We used a slim, crafted-looking Danish brick called
Petersen on a project in London, which looks the same as the day it was finished. I also like using brick flooring and white-painted brick walls are nice. There are a lot of shiny materials around, which liven things up a bit, but stainless steel and black anodised metal will always be classics – a bit like black shoes.’
5. For long-lasting style, cut out the bling
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‘We’re not flash – we try to be respectful and timeless,’ says Mike. ‘I’d hate to design a place and go past it every day thinking, “God, why did I do that?” Architecture can sometimes be a victim of fashion, but I’ve learned not to be too precious about things… My wife and I moved into our home about 15 years ago and I was quite enthusiastic, renovating and extending the entire house.
Then we had the kids and a dog and they wrecked it!’
To learn more about this Stiff + Trevillion project, click here.
For more interior design ideas, visit the Livingetc website.