Interiors advice - how to create that 'wow factor' in your home

PUBLISHED: 11:38 13 March 2015

Garden Room - a rural retreat designed by Alison for a family near Carlisle

Garden Room - a rural retreat designed by Alison for a family near Carlisle

not Archant

Lakeland interior designer Alison Tordoff discusses ways to create the wow factor

Entrance Hall - a rural retreat designed by Alison for a family near CarlisleEntrance Hall - a rural retreat designed by Alison for a family near Carlisle

Understanding the psychology of interior design is to see what creates the wow factor. It’s visual, of course, so you will already have looked at the photos on this page and said, ‘Ooh’ and ‘Ahhh’ and ‘Wow, I want to go there’.

The image will have a certain amount of order, semblance and detail, but not too much clutter. Lighting is key, as creating dynamic pockets of light and shadow can transform an interior.

I always find the statement that ‘your interior should reflect you personality’ rather odd, as your interior style may also be influenced by the period of the property, your budget (or lack of), your likes and dislikes, and family heirlooms that you simply can’t part with.

As a penniless student, I was so captivated by a beautiful hand-carved Art Nouveau headboard on a market stall for £80, I just had to have it. Twenty something years later I am still the proud owner and admire it every night. It’s a very versatile period piece and despite my home having a more minimalist style, it can be mixed with anything to make a more contemporary setting, ironically making it timeless.

I’ve never met anyone who is a completely blank canvas and has no idea what they like. They usually do have an opinion and when I start to extract a brief, saying what they don’t like comes quite naturally.

A client came to me with a brief for their five bedroom new build home. It was: ‘Like Malmaison…but not as dark!’ Even though the Malmasion Hotel signature style is dark, quirky and gritty, I understood where my client was coming from. We also threw in a bit of country farmhouse and some local Hadrian’s Wall influence, to produce some lovely earthy and gritty results, with drama.

But what a challenge it would be designing an interior for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. He says he doesn’t want to expend any energy deciding on what coloured T shirt to wear each day, so he has a wardrobe full of the same grey T shirt. But even in Mark’s virtual world I’m sure he will have an opinion of what he doesn’t like.

It is pointless, of course, having a space that looks stunning if it simply won’t function. It will look a mess in no time and the labour involved in its upkeep takes away precious hours that should be spent on more important things in life.

Alison Tordoff runs Fidget, an international award-winning interior design company. She lives in Windermere and recently launched The Love District, a new label which celebrates the history, culture and landscape of the fells and lakes.

It includes a distinctive ‘Lakeland bookends’ wallpaper, with matching aprons and tea towels, along with cushions and other home décor fabrics.The wallpaper was made originally as a prototype for Windermere’s Cedar Manor Hotel, which has won awards for design excellence.

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