Savvy interior decorators are rarely slaves to trends, but rather carefully select those to which they are drawn and identify as enhancing a specific home and its architecture, its owners and their lifestyle, writes Anne Schauffer.
Covid-19 touched every area of our lives in ways we didn’t even imagine possible. Overnight our homes were transformed into multi-purpose spaces, as different generations arm-wrestled for quiet spots to learn, work, Zoom, watch TV, escape. In the opinion of interior decorator Tracy Kelly of Nom de Plume Studio: “We wanted our homes to become a place of healing and comfort. For some, that means calm interiors with less but more impactful pieces – choosing quality over quantity; for others, it means the bold use of colour, drawing inspiration and comfort from their healing powers.”
One thing’s clear. We all had time to examine our homes, and found them wanting for this new life thrust upon us. We weren’t eating out or holidaying, so those funds were redirected into making our homes more liveable, more enjoyable, and more functional. Interior decorators are busy.
Decor trends are largely driven by events or the mood in a country, and in Covid’s case, it drove two seemingly apposite trends: Cocooning, and fine-tuning our homes for entertaining.
The team of Vision by Milstead and Hayter says the main bedroom as the traditional first port of call for decorators, has been superseded by entertainment and leisure areas. If you can’t go out, you stay in – and bring people into your home. South Africans are creating convivial “pubs” and “restaurants” inside their homes. Josey Hayter says they’re opening up the lounge to the patio in an even bigger way than previously: “We’re removing doors between lounge and patio, so the lounge is a massive space – those stackback doors or shutters are pushed out so they’re between patio and garden.” Space, light and air are big drivers.
Spaces are being multi-purposed, so too some furniture. The Vision team have been installing “champagne bars” – essentially a kitchen table at a bar height – so, instead of the limited space and functionality of a standard bar, you now can fit more people for drinks/eats/socialising.
Wendy-Lee Douglas of Douglas & Douglas – mother of three children under 11 – is understandably drawn to the clear trend regarding organisation and the minimisation of clutter: “Thanks to Netflix’s The Home Edit and Marie Kondo, I’ve introduced loads of storage solutions within the home to keep chaos at bay. I have plenty of decorative woven baskets around the home to house toys, because, even with a dedicated playroom, kids always want to play in spaces where you are.” Tracy Kelly also hones in on the tidy-up queen, Marie Kondo’s philosophy, and points to the current Japandi trend – a combination of Japanese and Scandinavian interiors: “Essentially, clean lines with the focus on light and minimalism.”
When it comes to wall colour, “It’ll always depend on what look you’re after,” says Wendy-Lee, “but our current favourite is to paint the bottom third of a wall in one colour, then fill the other two-thirds with another – it plays wonderfully with proportions, and adds architectural interest to a space.” The Vision team choice is white walls throughout the home – and that love of white is echoed by decorator Nikki Rolfe: “White is powerful, ancient, smart, timeless and loved by architects and designers. It always looks good, cool and calm, no matter your style, and there are so many different whites from which to choose – cool, chalky shades through to a white rose. Used with almost any other colour, white adds a look of freshness.”
The Vision team favours two whites – Plascon’s Evening Mist and Dulux’s Winter Bird – then add feature walls of colour, cladding, mirrors or wallpaper. “That white palette provides a cohesive, unfussy look, and allows you to go wild if you like, on your decor and fabric colours. Wallpapers, too, are massive at the moment, as are murals, particularly featuring botanicals or tropicals.”
The indoor-outdoor trend will never leave sunny South African shores, so our focus on indoor greenery as a decor trend – pictorial as in framed botanicals on the wall, or live plants – makes perfect sense: “Unanimously, the inclusion of our environment and how we can bring it indoors has translated into loads of greenery. The positive energy radiating from plants within a home is priceless,” says Tracy Kelly. All decorators agree on plant power: “Indoor plants – the bigger the better,” says the Vision team. “Palm trees or banana leaves which touch your ceiling. Even a vase on a server, with oversized green leaves. People want a fresh feel.”
There’s long been a pull to natural, even earthy fibres, colours and finishes, compounded by growing awareness around sustainability. Bluntly, not everyone cares deeply about putting sustainable or local first, but with local, it does tend to trickle through in accessories, artwork, and the like. Tracy Kelly feels strongly, “Producing more local content and developing our skills is imperative. In time, we’ll improve on quality and pricing – we’ve relied on imports for too long.”
For those not focused on sustainability, combining old with new feeds into reusing and recycling. “Mixing old pieces with new is certainly current, and nothing makes a home feel more lived in than when you have a collection of vintage pieces,” says Tracy. Nikki concurs, “Whip out old pieces and combine them with new ones.” No one wants a home which looks like anyone else’s, and this ensures the individuality of yours. Upcycle – never be frightened to paint, re-upholster, alter.
Natural materials are always a personal favourite for Tracy, and she mixes rough with smooth, like natural woods with beautiful marble, and organic textured tiles with natural sisal and cane. Likewise, Nikki Rolfe suggests, “Add straw and rattan for appealing texture; or combine natural objects with lush greenery.” Tracy also suggests that “Fabric with texture is huge – think a chair cover in a textured wool. It feels like a giant hug – just what we all want, isn’t it?”
FOR MORE INFO:
- Josey Hayter and Shaz Milstead: www.visionbymilsteadandhayter.com
- Tracy Kelly: www.tracykellydesign.com
- Wendy-Lee Douglas: www.douglasanddouglas.co.za
- Nikki Rolfe: www.nikkirolfe.co.za