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Our call for interior designers brings good results

March 25, 2011

On February 22 we wrote a post to announce our search for people with passion for and know-how in interior design.

Our main motivation was to get to know some creative and funky people, write about them on this blog, and listen to their ideas and tips regarding the final stage of our home renovation project — interior design.

One of the people who has responded to our call for interior designers was Sofia. She found us with the help of The Network, a Brussels-based email list for expats living in Belgium where we also had posted our call for interior designers. Whereas Sofia didn’t tick the box of a “student” (we were initially looking for interior design students), she surely caught our attention by her hobby — all things interior design.

What we liked most was the immediate and chemistry between us. Sofia’s warmth and friendliness, as well as her hospitality (she opened the doors of her beautiful house to us shortly after our initial contact) were striking. As she was showing us her stylish house in Ixelles, which had been renovated based on her own concept and choice of materials and color palette, her knowledge of interior design and decoration was immediate.  A look at Sofia’s house made us convinced that rich colors in interiors are so much more fun than dull neutral palettes that I encounter in most homes.

Sofia was born in Athens and came to Brussels about 10 years ago. “What struck me almost immediately was the abundance of antiques markets in Belgium.” says Sofia. “I developed a talent and skill for finding amazing furniture and decoration pieces at these markets, and some of them have found their home in my new house.”

Sofia works for an international organization based in Brussels. Outside work, her interest in home decoration occupies most of Sofia’s free time. “Among my friends, I am known as someone who’s full of ideas about home renovation and decoration. I am often busy giving tips and ideas to people about their home decor, and I am seriously considering pursuing this passion further. I don’t know yet where it will lead me exactly, but I am full of exciting ideas,” Sofia shared with us.

 

Sofia's living room before renovation

And this is what the same living room looks like now

While visiting our house, Sofia gave us some useful tips. She brought a color palette with her, as well as a measuring tape. “I always carry a measuring tape in my hand bag,” she admitted. “You never know when you’ll bump into that amazing piece of design furniture, so you’d better be prepared!”

According to Sofia, a home reflects the personality of people who live there. It should therefore be unique.

Today, we’d like to share with you the top 10 of Sofia’s tips which will help you make sure that your personality is reflected in your home, and your place is pleasant to live in:

  • Use your imagination: How would you like the space (be it kitchen, living room, bathroom, bedroom) to look like in the future? Close your eyes and imagine it. Don’t be afraid, anything can be transformed. Windows can be made bigger, walls can be removed, floors can change, extra space can be created with some imagination, old couches can be re-upholstered with new fabric.
  • Get inspiration: start with a piece you love! A carpet you have brought back from a trip, your grandmother’s rocking chair, a piece of furniture you found on the flea market which can be repainted, a vase with a lovely colour, a batik cushion which you always had with you: these are items you absolutely want to have in your rooms.  They can become your key pieces around which you can start imagining the rest of the space.
  • What are your favourite colours? Make a list, collect colour and fabric samples. Do they match each other?  Read some decoration magazines and cut and keep examples of colour combinations or original materials or ideas that you like.
  • Dare to use rich colors whilst respecting the harmony of the house: for example, make sure that colors in one room do not clash with the colours of the corridor leading to the other room.
  • If you are renovating, keep as many of your house’s past-era charms as possible: decorative cement tiles, marble chimneys, well-functioning iron radiators, ceiling moldings, door knobs. These elements will add to the uniqueness of your house.
  • Respect the style of your house when thinking about the furniture: Would a 60s or 70s building look good with only Louis XV or IKEA furniture in it? I don’t think that a rustic fireplace  surrounded by ultra-modern huge sofas will look very good!
  • At the same time, you can combine different styles if the colors match: a retro lamp, a unique coffee table, a funny carpet, different chairs around a table, many vases of different colours but of the same era (or of different eras but of similar shades) — all of this can look very original!
  • Give a 3D dimension to the space by hanging shelves, colourful paper garlands, little sparkling lights and bookshelves.
  • Trial and error: Do not look at the bare walls and panic. If you want to avoid white, and if you like a particular color a lot but hesitate to use it on your walls, just remember that errors can be corrected. In the space of a weekend, you can change the color of your walls thee times. On Friday evening, when you come home from work, apply the 1st layer of the color you like (provider that the walls are already prepared in advance). On Saturday morning, apply the second layer of paint. If  the result is not how you imagined it, on Saturday afternoon you may paint the 1st layer of primer, and Sunday morning, apply the second layer of primer. Sunday early afternoon, it’s time to apply  the first layer of that other color you’ve kept as a reserve. And after applying the second layer of paint on a Sunday evening, you’ve tried the different options and, hopefully, have the result you like. Painting walls is fun! And it is a good exercise for the body as well!
  • Here is my golden rule while renovating or decorating: measure, measure and measure! Always carry a measuring tape with you and a draft plan of the room you will be decorating. This will save you from buying a couch too big for the destined space, bookcases too high to fit, table too low for the chairs you already have, or a bed frame which does not fit in the bedroom.

We will be soon posting some more tips from Sofia, as well as updates of our own progress with interior decoration, so watch this space. And for now, many thanks to Sofia for being so resourceful and fun!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 7, 2011 10:48 pm

    I really love that kitchen! There’s a lot of natural light and the color of the cabinets definitely work with the retro feel. Awesome!

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