By Shaynna Blaze
With urbanisation and smaller living spaces on the rise, clever interior design and decoration that creates the illusion of more space has never been so important. While a smaller space may have its challenges, there are many ways to fake space with colour, which will make your apartment feel like a castle.
The size of an apartment and the abundance or lack of natural light plays a major part in your colour palette selection. Likewise, the direction your apartment faces as well as the era your apartment reflects will all influence your options.
Most people put off painting their house as they look at the whole picture and get overwhelmed before even starting. With an apartment, you can feel a sense of achievement quickly, as you only have to work with the interior, so the amount of time and money is significantly reduced. However, the same rules apply to apartments as they do houses – it is all about planning and preparation.
My seven commandments for apartment living:
1. Aesthetically speaking
The secret is to use rich colours to extend the visual width of a room. For example, a great way to get impact in a kitchen is to use a rich colour on the walls and use the same colour for the cabinets, creating a completely new personality. To achieve this, I like working with rich emeralds, aubergine and ink blues, and partnering them with metallic tones, granite or colours rich in earth tones, partnered with rustic timbers and exposed brickwork.
2. Tonal vs contrast
Smaller apartments call for simplicity but this doesn’t have to mean boring. Keep your palette for doors, trims, ceiling and cornices in the same colour family, and then select one main colour for the walls. When you get to the bedrooms you can be a bit more playful, but I recommend the same colour palette, with minimum contrast so it does not feel like a ‘jolt’ when you walk into the room.
3. Impactful over oppressive
Apartment living does not need to be about white and stark colour palettes, however too many contrasting colours and patterns can often take over a space. Make sure your colours have a white, grey or blue/green base as these colours reflect light and cool colours recede. Some of my favourite whites are Taubmans’ Crisp White, Akimbo and Cloudburst. Also, look at timbers that are either grey or lime washed or oak and pine to balance strong colours, as they add a natural warmth to the space.
4. Making small look large
The trick is to connect the largest space in the room (walls) to the second largest impact space (the floor). To make the room feel larger, I like to connect similar colour palettes and make the skirting in that area the same colour as the wall, so that the eye travels from floor to ceiling, taking everything in as one big space.
5. Decorating approach for modern vs period inspired
The key here is to know what you are working with — modern apartment living requires minimal focus on trims, skirtings and ceilings and keeping the palette quite simple, with the addition of a couple of extra colours thrown in. On the other hand, interiors inspired by period styles often have many details, so in this case it is best to work out one main type of feature to highlight in colour so the room does not become visually overloaded. Decide which feature you want to draw your eye, for example feature panelling or cornicing, and go from there.
6. Decorating disasters not to be repeated
One of my pet hates is the common perception that apartment living needs to be treated as one big white box. Just adding a hint of colour to the walls can take the apartment from feeling clinical to full of life.
7. The three do’s
Formulate a plan, tackle painting in stages and focus on rooms as single projects.
–Shaynna Blaze appears on TV’s The Block, Selling Houses Australia and Deadline Design and is a brand ambassador for