5 design principles to create a beautiful modern home


Having a beautiful home has never been more important than over the past 18 months, when we were forced to spend more time inside our four walls – and you might have wanted to transform the yours into a beautiful modern living space.

But if a lack of know-how or limited finances are holding you back, it’s not too late to get started. For design guru, Matt Gibberd insists that it can be easy to create a gorgeous home without spending a fortune, just by implementing five simple design principles.

“If you ask me, a Palladian villa, for example, has the same sensibility as a masterpiece from the Modernist era and was designed according to the same set of timeless principles,” he says.

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“A simple way to think about these principles is to distill them into five categories: space, light, materials, nature and decoration.

“By paying careful attention to each of these elements, you will be able to create a beautiful, supportive and inspiring home, no matter the scale or budget. “

Gibberd, who is one of the founding directors of the design-led real estate agency The modern house, just wrote the book A modern way of living, in which he describes the five principles and the best way to use them to create a beautiful home.

Here he gives us a taste of exactly how to do it …

1. Space

Room for maneuver (Dan Glasser / PA)

Gibberd explains that when a home combines both space and “refuge” areas, it can help occupants feel settled. He suggests, “Try to create an open, bright space for socializing, and a womb-like space for retreating and sleeping. Even in a studio, create different areas using a curtain, sliding partition. or a bookcase on casters can greatly enhance the experience of occupying space. “

You can create the illusion of space with mirrors and reflective surfaces, he says, using natural niches for built-in closets and continuing the same material from inside to outside. Consider re-hanging doors the other way around to open up rooms, and place heaters under windows to free up valuable wall space for furniture.

And don’t forget the kitchen! Gibberd advises homeowners to think of the kitchen as a set of furniture rather than a set of units, and avoid wall cupboards if possible, as the space above them becomes superfluous. And instead of a freestanding fridge-freezer, consider a pair of side-by-side undercounter refrigerators.

And then there’s the trash … “A standing trash can hangs around the kitchen like a smelly Dalek, tripping people up and overflowing with leftovers from yesterday’s dinner,” Gibberd says. “Try to incorporate solutions for waste – the space under the sink is always a useful place for food waste, for example.”

2. Light

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Gibberd says it’s best to consider fixed glazing with a conventional door next to it, rather than folding doors. “A bay window – free from awkward handles and mechanisms – frames the views better and looks better because the structural supports are hidden,” he explains.

He suggests avoiding Roman shades and valances, and hanging curtains on extra-wide poles so they can be pulled back to reveal the entire window. And think about the way the light travels around your home. “Living areas benefit from the enhanced light from a south-facing window,” Gibberd explains, “while parts of the house that are rarely used, such as utility rooms, are best placed on the north side. The east side is great for sleeping, and the dining rooms work well on the west side, where they capture the glowing embers of the day. “

If your house has more than one level, he suggests thinking about reversing the layout. “You might never get used to the thought of saying ‘I’m going downstairs to go to bed’,” he admits, “but in many other ways it makes a lot of sense, releasing the light and the views for the living areas and using the naturally darker areas lower in the building for sleeping. “

But while light is crucial for a home, Gibberd says households shouldn’t be afraid of the dark either. “Without areas of contrast, our homes would be one-dimensional and monotonous,” he explains. “If you walk down a shaded hallway, for example, when you arrive in a sunny space, it seems all the more bright and uplifting.”

And on a brighter note, Gibberd says if you can look directly into the filament of a light bulb, then it’s probably in the wrong place. “Avoid overhead lights in favor of task lighting, wall sconces and plug-in lights that provide a softer glow and better promote the circadian rhythm,” he suggests.

3. Materials

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Gibberd says households should think carefully about the things they come into physical contact with each day, including light switches, doorknobs or kitchen countertops. “Are they as tactile as they should be?” He asks, pointing out that natural materials will always age more gracefully than man-made plastics and laminates. “Try to preserve the original materials as much as possible, as they tell the individual story of a building and induce less anxiety than new ones,” he advises.

Gibberd suggests living in a house for at least a year before making any changes. “For example, that floor that you thought was a little damaged when you first moved in might start to take on some meaning – its warmth under bare feet, or its ability to absorb the comings and goings of everyday life. “

Natural materials like marble and glazed tiles have a soft sheen and are easy to clean, he says, and clay is a moisture-absorbing alternative to conventional plaster.

It’s also worth thinking about the environmental impact of the materials you use, he says, pointing out that cork, for example, is naturally regenerating as the tree grows back its bark, and farms provide excellent sources of ecological insulation, including sheep. balls of wool and straw.

4. Nature

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A connection to nature is vital for well-being, so even those looking for a place to live in a city should try to find an apartment that overlooks a communal garden or has deep window sills that can contain plants, Gibberd suggests.

If you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor space, he suggests combining shrub and flower borders with decking, compacted gravel, flint, stone pavers, or brick rafters.

And inside, stock up on greenery. “Indoor plants have a positive impact on our well-being, lowering blood pressure and increasing attention, but they can also serve practical purposes, helping to delimit space, providing a screen. , absorb sound or add a touch of sparkle to a mundane room, ”Gibberd explains.

He suggests putting seashells, pebbles and pine cones on the fireplace, using natural-looking paint colors, and hanging landscape paintings and photographs on the walls.

5. Decoration

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Instead of fitted rugs, Gibberd suggests trying natural loose-lay flooring such as sisal and jute, with a gap between the edging and the wall. Use layered rugs and let them fill in the natural spaces between furniture.

And to avoid giving the impression that an interior is one-dimensional, he says it can be a good idea to mix furniture and objects from different eras and places. “Rather than putting a matching set of chairs around the kitchen table, for example, add a wobbly Windsor bench or chair to the mix,” he suggests.

“Surround yourself with the items that mean the most to you personally and tell your life story – family heirlooms or things that remind you of a particular vacation or experience. “

A Modern Way of Living (Penguin Life / PA)
A Modern Way of Living (Penguin Life / PA)

He advises households to avoid using a flat-screen TV as the centerpiece of a room and instead organize furniture in a traditional way around the fireplace. Group the furniture and objects in odd numbers, he explains, explaining, “If things are arranged asymmetrically, the eye is forced to move around them to fully absorb what it sees.”

And you may need to rethink the way your photos hang, he warns. “The most common mistake is to place them too high,” he stresses. “My advice is to use your eye to instinctively find what seems like the right spot, and then narrow it down six inches.”

And finally, he adds, “When choosing what to buy for your home, try to follow your instincts rather than preconceptions of what constitutes good taste. A lot of the best things haven’t been celebrated on Instagram, can’t be found in textbooks, and they’re cheap. Often they have an accidental beauty which is the result of the satisfaction of utilitarian needs.

A Modern Way to Live by Matt Gibberd is published on October 28 by Penguin Life.



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