What Makes a Unique Interior?

What takes a space from bland or run-of-the-mill to extraordinary and exemplary? At MDS Interiors, we’re always searching for the newest, most daring approaches to interior decoration from around the world.

One discovery we’ve made in the course of our research is that often the spaces that stand out from the rest do so because of a small, single stroke of genius. While many stunning interiors were laboriously and carefully built to a singular vision, sometimes it just takes one exquisite idea to lift the entire space. To inspire you, we’ve collected some of our favourites from around the world. Read on to learn more.

Bringing nature into the built environment

Blurring the line between the space within your walls and the space outside is an excellent way to present something new to guests. This can take a variety of forms and can be as extensive or localised as you prefer. From chandeliers that cast shadows in the shape of trees and branches to vertical herb gardens in the kitchen, there are numerous ways you can inject a little bit of the outdoors into your kitchen, bathroom or bedroom.

Beautiful design in even the smallest homes

As people seek more space-efficient and eco-friendly ways to live, designers are racing to offer the same level of functionality, luxury and convenience in a smaller package. Many home-owners dream of creating a stunning bathroom for them and their family, but in smaller homes and apartments, can often find themselves with limited choice.

The Pixel collection from Barcelona design firm Oriol Barri is an attempt to remedy this, offering stunning modern bathroom fixtures that collapse to a width of 16 centimetres when not in use. Featuring a foldable, silicone basin and collapsible stainless steel tap, it’s an attractive, slimline addition to any small space.

Designing for more than just human occupants

It’s important to remember when designing a space that your client’s family may not look like yours. In the same way that certain rooms of a home may be made more child-friendly with lowered shelving, smaller furniture and no sharp edges, many homeowners choose to welcome their pets into their home with design that suits creatures with four legs, not just two.

From installing interior dog doors so your pets can have run of the house to wall-mounted cat tunnels helping your kitten get from place to place without touching the ground, the options available are extensive.

The World’s Most Unusual Residences

A home should be a reflection of its occupants. While many are content to simply tailor parts of their home to suit themselves, for many this is simply not enough. Some of the most iconoclastic homes in the world are the result of the singular vision of an individual combined with the skill and talent of an architect. When both are working in sync, the results can frequently be breath-taking.

At MDS Interiors, we are always looking for outré approaches to home design, so we’ve rounded up a selection of some of the most outstanding and unusual residences in the world. If you’re looking for inspiration for your own property, the following homes and apartments present a bold vision that is sure to spark your imagination. Read on to find out more.

Heliodome – Cosswiller, France

The child of famed French cabinet-maker Eric Wasser, the Heliodrome is more than a unique approach to housing, it’s a working prototype of a new, more eco-friendly form of housing. Shaped like an enormous sundial half-buried in the earth, the Heliodrome has been constructed to maximise solar energy absorption and retention, providing passive climate control through both summer and winter.

The Heliodrome is built to angle to a calculated point depending on the latitude in which it was built. Currently, only Wasser’s own home in the French commune of Cosswiller exists, but the design stipulates that the closer to the equator the Heliodrome is built, the higher the angle of its point, allowing it to retain the most sunlight.

Treehotel – Harads, Sweden

Built on the idea that treehouses can offer a sense of joy and freedom to everyone, Treehotel in northern Sweden is a unique hotel complex. Located just 50 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle in an extensive pine forest, Treehotel is composed of a series of discrete buildings built high into the forest canopy, offering sweeping views of the nearby Lule River valley.

The different rooms each carry their own name and have their own unique décor, each seeking to harmonise contemporary Scandinavian design with the harsh, natural beauty of the surrounding Swedish countryside.

Chateau d’eau – Steenokkerzeel, Belgium

One of the more unique residences in Europe, the Chateau d’eau is an eight-decade old converted water tower north-east of Brussels. Built between 1938 and 1941, the tower has a rich history, used by the Nazi occupation force as a watch tower during World War II before continuing to service the surrounding town until the 1990s. In 2007, the building was renovated at the behest of the owners – a local couple – with the exterior restored to its original state and the interior transformed into a stylish, ultramodern residence spread over 6 spacious floors.

The Chateau d’eau is the permanent residence of the owners, but one floor is available for use by companies seeking a unique location for workshops, seminars and corporate events.

Hiding your TV. (Ceiling, under bed, behind mirror, artwork and walls)

Whether you simply prefer a cleaner look or you’d prefer it wasn’t on display to guests all the time, there are lots of reasons to want to hide your television, and almost as many ways to approach it. No matter how you’ve decorated your home, there’s an attractive and effective way to conceal your television. Read on and pick up a few tips – your guests will never even know you’ve got one!

 

Classic cabinetry

With changing designs and focuses in both modern homes and modern televisions, the humble and once omnipresent TV hutch has fallen out of style, but that doesn’t mean it’s beyond resurrection. Many designers create TV hutches sized for modern high-definition flat screens, often complete with additional storage space perfect for media devices, DVDs, stereo systems and more. Take a look around; you’re sure to find a hutch that perfectly matches your existing décor.

 

The cinema experience

Wall-mounted televisions can take a bit more work to conceal, but there are many options once you start thinking outside the box. A very trendy modern look is to fix the television to a recess in the wall, then cover it with sliding panels in the same colour as the wall – extremely chic! Large televisions in purpose-built media rooms can benefit from a bit of movie magic – have you considered going all out and covering it with parting curtains? It’s an effect your guests won’t soon forget!

 

Getting arty

How many times have you seen a character in a film dramatically swing open a hung painting to reveal a safe or some other valuable hidden behind it? Take inspiration from the movies and hinge a favourite painting over the top of a recessed television for a little bit of extra colour when it’s not TV time. When it’s time for the news or a movie night with your family, just swing the painting over to reveal your set!

 

Integrating it better

Often people who want to hide their television have nothing against being it seen – it’s just that they think their space looks better without an oversized black rectangle on the wall. Finding a way to blend it into your space can often be nearly as good as hiding it all together, and can be accomplished very easily. Simply mounting the television on a darker wall or buddying it up with some other black accents can really make the space look more of a cohesive whole.

Antique mirrors. Modern homes

There’s something stunning about an old mirror. Not only do they open up the room, adding light and the illusion of additional space, many surviving antique mirrors are richly decorated and beautiful to simply look at. It’s no wonder so many people simply love to integrate these gorgeous elements into their home, but how to do it the right way?

With so many in Singapore living in modern, recently constructed HDB flats, a carefully crafted antique mirror can look a bit out of place. Fortunately, there are ways you can introduce these into a contemporary setting without overpowering the surrounding pieces, read on to find out more.

 

Making it a centrepiece

The first tactic to try is to avoid integrating it into the surrounding décor at all – let it stand apart proudly as a centrepiece. Whether this is using it as your primary bathroom mirror, or letting it hang alone on an otherwise blank wall, this can be a bold choice that allows the full impact of your treasured antique to be felt without interfering with the carefully constructed interior you have elsewhere in your home.

 

Step across the threshold and back in time

If you have multiple antique pieces, embrace the plurality of design choices in your home and considering making one room – or even several – your antique area. Putting them in your bedroom or in a private study or bathroom away from the lounge and more public spaces can be a great compromise, allowing you to keep your home thoroughly modern in the majority. Often the antiques in our lives have been inherited from loved ones or have some other sentimental value attached, so keeping them in a private area of the home where we can enjoy them more fully can make these spaces more welcoming.

 

Group by function, not style

This takes some lateral thinking – rather than trying to bridge the gap between antique mirrors and modern surrounds, why not go a bit eclectic and decorate a feature wall with multiple mirrors from different time periods? A mix of modern, classic, vintage and antique mirrors will make the wall seem more of a cohesive whole, where a single antique mirror could draw attention away from your hard decorating work in other areas.

We hope this blog has fired your imagination enough to get that beautiful mirror out of storage. What’s more, these approaches to decorating work for any antique, so whether it’s an old portrait or a china cabinet, looking at it in a new angle can allow you to bring something beautiful into your home.

The Use of Gold and Silver Leaf

Gold and silver leaf are two types of metal leaf which are used for a range of different applications. They are basically made from the metal itself (gold or silver) being hammered into extremely thin sheets. Gold and silver leaf are available in various qualities and purities, with the better quality leaf being the most expensive.

What are gold and silver leaf usually used for?

The three main uses of gold and silver leaf are in art, in architecture (for both interior and exterior decorating), and in various food products.

In food – Both gold and silver leaf are included in various food and drinks despite being flavourless. They are used purely as a decorative feature which is meant to indicate class and to create an image of luxury and wealth. Many sweets and alcohols include some sort of gold or silver leaf to improve their looks and to distinguish them from similar products.

In art - Both gold and silver leaf have been used for thousands of years by civilisations throughout the world. They have both been used as components of various artworks, including painting, sculptures, and engravings. They were heavily used in a religious context, especially in Europe. Many old paintings are framed with a gold plated frame.

In architecture - The architectural use of gold and silver leaf also stretches back thousands of years. The majority of ancient temples, palaces, and other buildings of status were decorated with a combination of gold and silver, giving them an air of wealth and power. There are also many modern buildings which are decorated with gold and silver leaf. Their use is becoming increasingly popular in personal buildings.

The modern use of gold and silver leaf as decorating materials:

Many contemporary interior designers use both gold and silver leaf extensively, particularly for their wealthier or more artistic clients. They both shine with a beautiful metallic lustre, are symbolic of success and high social status, and their use will impress friends and family alike.

There are many different ways that you can use gold and silver leaf. Some examples of these include:

  • To cover a ceiling. Silver leaf is usually used for this as it is cheaper. Both will give a shiny, lustrous look to the room.
  • As components of a mosaic or artistic piece. They can be used to make certain things stand out and to draw your eyes to certain places in a room.

Whatever you decide to use gold and silver leaf for, your local interior design specialists can help you out.

Getting That Art Deco Look

Modern designs and styles are becoming increasingly popular amongst homeowners and developers. One of the most popular and best looking of these is the art deco look. People throughout the world are starting to adopt this style when designing their homes. It is now easier than ever to design your home to look however you want it to: if you are in doubt, then talk to a local interior design company today.

What is an “art deco look”?

The art deco look is a style that was developed in France at the beginning of the 20th century. It was extremely popular through the 1920s and 1930s, and can be seen throughout objects and buildings from the period. It boasts work from the finest craftsmen using the finest materials, and has obvious modernist and futuristic influences. Historically, the art deco look has represented wealth, power, and an embracement of development and forwards progress.

How can you get the art deco look in your home?

There are a number of different techniques that you can use to turn your home into an art deco paradise. The basic concept around most of them is that you adopt certain elements of a room (the lighting, furniture, colour scheme etc.) and manipulate them to influence the way the room appears. Some of the most important aspects of the art deco style to think about include:

Colour scheme - The traditional art deco style boasts a simple black and white colour scheme. However, brighter colours can also be included to liven up a room. Think energetic and lively when choosing your colours.

Keeping things shiny – The art deco style shines. There is nothing more simple than this. Keep every aspect of the design looking bright and clean to ensure you have the perfect art deco look. If possible, choose only furnishings which shine naturally: polished metals or woods, smooth floors, and mirrors – a lot of mirrors.

Lighting - Lighting is extremely important in setting up the mood of a room. In the art deco style, the right lighting is vital in developing the right feel and in creating a futuristic, developed look.

Geometry and symmetry - The art deco style is very geometrical and symmetrical. One of its main elements is the strong presence of defined geometrical shapes. Bold curves and angles should be apparent. Where possible, use sharp corners instead of rounded ones. The style also includes elements of symmetry throughout the architectural design and furnishing.

Dummies Guide to Smart Homes

What is a smart home?

A smart home, or one with home automation, is a home which can be fully or partly controlled using WIFI and remote monitoring. Most components of the home can be controlled via apps or software on the homeowner’s smart device, making life simple and easy. Some of the things which can be controlled at the touch of a button include:

  • The home’s interior climate, including heating, cooling, and humidity control.
  • Lighting – you could turn lights on throughout your house before arriving home at night so you don’t have to enter in the dark. This is also good to give the illusion people are home when you are not there.
  • Security – monitor and control your alarm systems from the comfort of your bed or couch using your smart device.
  • Home appliances including, but not limited to, ovens and microwaves, washing machines and dryers, refrigerators, and freezers. Imagine being able to control all of these things from your phone or tablet. Turn the oven on an hour before you get home so that you can walk in the door to a hot meal.

Why should you turn your house into a smart home?

The first question is why shouldn’t you? A smart home will make your life so much more convenient, so much easier, and will allow you to live in comfort and save time. Some of the main benefits of automating your home include:

  • The ability to lock and unlock your doors at the touch of a button from anywhere in the world. Your home has never been so secure.
  • You will be able to control your lights from anywhere, allowing you to save electricity and therefore money. You can also program your lights to turn on a certain times of day, turn off when you leave home, or wake you up in the morning.
  • If water or gas leaks begin anywhere in your home, you will receive an instant alert directly to your smartphone, allowing you to get on top of the problem before it becomes too big.

What are the problems with smart homes?

There are a number of things which are of concern when it comes to smart homes. The first main concern is that an integrated WIFI network could be vulnerable to hacking by criminals or cyber thieves. The second is that home automation technology is still very primitive and subject to change. There are a large number of different, incompatible platforms which could easily shut down, rendering your smart home ‘dumb’ again.

Antique Mirrors in Modern Homes

Antique mirrors come in a wide range of sizes and shapes. Some are wooden, some are metallic, and some are even framed in gold plated materials. Choosing an antique mirror can be harder than choosing a new mirror due to the huge range of options out there. Antique mirrors can usually be identified as belonging to a distinct class of design or art, or as coming from a specific culture.

What makes antique mirrors special?

The most distinctive feature of antique mirrors is their high quality design and manufacturing. In the past, a much greater emphasis was placed on the use of high quality materials. This fact, combined with the superior handcraftsmanship used on antique mirrors means that they usually have intricate details, beautiful designs, and instil a feeling of glamour and class.

A brief history of antique mirrors:

Mirrors have been used by different cultures for thousands of years. However, mirror making didn’t arise as a serious craft until the 15th or 16th century, when Venetian glass blowers developed a new mirror making technique. This involved the use of plate glass backed with mercury to create the mirror itself. Following this development, the craft of mirror making exploded.

Venetian mirrors have traditionally been the most popular and admired of antique mirrors, and have been used as a symbol of wealth and status throughout Europe. In the 17th century, the secret of mirror making was leaked to the French and the English. Most antique mirrors, therefore, come from France, England, or Venice.

Using antique mirrors in your modern home:

Although they may be old, and were designed without modern principles or techniques in mind, antique mirrors can be easily used in a modern home. They can be incorporated into your interior design scheme to give a vintage feel, and can actually go very well with modern, minimalistic designs. Think about the following things when adding an antique mirror to your home:

  • Don’t make the mirror stand out as the focal point or main object in the room. Instead, allow it to blend in with more modern elements, contrasting and complementing it with other objects.
  • Make sure that you match the colours properly. If you don’t, then you may end up with a beautiful antique mirror looking ugly and misplaced.
  • Make it useable. Don’t hang your antique mirror somewhere where it serves no purpose and isn’t functional. Justify its inclusion by placing it somewhere where it can be used and appreciated every day.

An Organic Approach to Interior Design

Organic Architecture is the idea of blending human function with natural beauty in a harmonic outcome. Imagine all of the waterfalls, koi fishponds, and even rock gardens that we have seen come into popularity for the last 20 years or so, and you will have a pretty good idea of what organic architecture is. People are becoming more and more aware of their global ecological impact and this style of interior design reflects this mindset shift beautifully. They want to feel closer to nature rather than locking themselves away in concrete boxes.

Building with an organic design in mind

Building your new home is the best opportunity you could possibly have to create organic design. Taking the center points of the home and using them to translate your overall theme can be key to creating the overall look. Staircases, mantle pieces, and support pillars can pull your house together using a natural theme.

Consult with an interior designer who specializes in this form of design to create a cohesive vision that will serve its function while making something 100% original to you. These designers can help you incorporate elements that you might have not thought about including using arching support beams and deck elements.

Make your house more unrefined.

You can start to experience the natural aesthetic and spiritual beauty that this new design trend offers by making only a few changes. One of the staples of this organic approach is wood, but instead of shaping this natural element into perfect geometric shapes, designers maintain the naturally unique forms already present. The natural curves and twists are emphasized rather than carved into submission to create uniformity impossible in nature. Designers attempt to mimic these warm unique shapes throughout the spaces to make everything feel alive.

You can start to incorporate this amazing style by deviating from the strict “perfect” geometric shapes and breaking up the flat walls with organic shelving and furniture that curves and creates texture for the room. Use woods with great surface that will pop no matter what finish you use. Keep as much of the natural design as possible by choosing a stain that accentuates the grain pattern.

It is easier than ever to find unique pieces that flow with your environment. You can visits sites like etsy.com where creators design unique furniture that builds off this style. You don’t have to be limited by what you can imagine; you can build off of what others have been inspired to build. Make your home your own.

Make Your Space Come Alive with Details

Details can make or break your interior design project. The right painting, poster, or knick knack can create an amazing flow, which will make every person feel like they have entered an extravagant palace, or a beautiful cozy cabin. Then the question turns into; how to create what you imagine and how do you ensure that your details work to create the perfect interior?

Outline your Interior

You need to outline your interior the same way you would outline a story. Start by creating an overall theme that will link your entire home together. You can use a special time period, location, or event that really connects with you. Search online to find quick references or images that will help inform and inspire your creation.

Create a sub-theme from the images you find in your image search to highlight your individual spaces. This is like creating your characters. Each room will have its own unique personality but it will also play a vital role in the overall story that you are creating. Make sure that you coordinate the warm or cool colors based on your new “character’s” personality.

Finally, you get to the details. These are like your character’s dialogue. They show instead of tell the reader their personality. You will want to choose pieces that are perfect representations of your key points. If you are trying to create a western theme then maybe you want to accent your rooms with wagon wheels and bull horns, but you need make sure that each piece is in a room that makes sense in your outline and have a purpose they are trying to show your guests.

What’s next?

So you have a great idea of what you want your interior to look like. Now you have to find the pieces that are going to really make your space pop. You can start by combining your overall theme in a Google search with the words “interior design”. This will get you moving in the right direction and fleshing out your interior’s “story”.

Use sites like etsy.com or folksy.com that offers unique products from amazing artists. If you don’t find exactly what you are looking for, you can connect with the artists and maybe even commission some custom pieces to take your rooms to the next level. Don’t settle when it comes to your details; make sure you are 100% happy with what you are creating.