Vertical surfaces need to be handled with care. They can be coated or clad with a variety of materials and in many finishes: paint, wallpaper / fabric, tiling of different textures and dimensions; and panelling in wood, stone, various metals, glass and mirror; the latter also aiding in terms of spatial dimension and reflected light.

Importantly, these rooms we live in must be designed to allow the outside in. Natural light and ventilation is vital and, in South Africa, easy access to the exterior is a necessity. Windows and sliding doors create direct availability to light and air; shutters, blinds and drapes control the influx of both.

These surfaces remain vital in the sphere of contemporary design and decoration, where often walls are plain and pale; this being an accepted shell signature for 2018 interior architecture. White space, lack of clutter and unadorned walls remain key in the modern storyboard, but the results may sometimes manifest as being clinical and uninspiring – cold and lacking in comfort. Is this signature timeless in its appeal or can such wall surfaces be dressed up? Art can be important here in adding focus and even drama, plus a personal statement.

Yvonne Tobien of Luxaflex® has definitive views on the palette: ‘Decorating with white has been the default for the stylish contemporary home. A blanket of white paint and some pops of colour being regarded as the easiest ‘cool’ décor shortcut. But deep, dark and rich colours are quietly gaining ground and are now seen in a number of fashion-forward homes. As well as lending an interior measure of lush, intense warmth they also hide a multitude of decorating sins, such as uneven walls or too much overpainting of traditional mouldings.

‘A white bedroom is frequently seen as the ultimate in grown up sophistication, although it has an eternal, restful appeal it’s not always the best option. If the interior lacks light and / or space, white can make it feel pokey, even cold. In experimenting with darker tones, a monochrome palette with a larger percentage of black or grey can be a good beginning. This look is patently Scandinavian, and when used with light wood and textured accents, can make for an earthy and sensual feel.

When considering wall treatments, paint is generally the go-to choice. It’s reasonably priced and easy to clean, involves usually a fairly simple and rapid process in its application and there are myriad colours and various surface finishes to choose from. Yet, with ongoing R&D and advancements in technology, other options are gaining in popularity, such as wall claddings, wood, ceramics and stone.

Apart from having inherent water-resistant abilities, these surfaces also evoke textures and visual drama that paints are unable to offer. 2018 wallpapers are stain-resistant and waterproof, and with the latest digital printing techniques they can provide ultra-realistic finishes, such as weathered and partially plastered brick, wood, stone and concrete.

Kate Mederer of Taylor Blinds & Shutters and NMC Decorative Mouldings says: ‘Wallstyl® and Arstyl® are 2018 products that will add additional bespoke, creative elements to vertical surfaces through a variety of exciting wall cladding solutions. They can provide a focal point or redefine an interior via fashionable on-trend designs that are adaptable for an original finish and thus a unique interior signature. They create a 3D surface and can be painted to coordinate with a specific storyboard.’

Kitty Douglas-Jones of mosaic specialists Douglas Jones comments: ‘There is a definite move towards natural stone cladding in larger formats for exterior walls, while for mosaics we’ve noted that the geometric and 3D shapes and profiles are still a firm favourite for 2018. Bespoke patterns on a feature wall are also making a comeback; this instead of a more conventional artwork or wallpaper.’

The 2018 Palette

Pleasing colours and visual cues support the idea of comfort and serenity. Decorate with intent by using those that have personal meaning and provide the greatest sense of satisfaction. Bring the outdoors in with nature-inspired, soul-soothing hues like blues, greens and browns. Colour is both a journey and a celebration and exploring options is part of the design process; while providing the satisfaction of achieving the desired result.

Darker colours can convey a feeling of drama, while lighter shades generally create an impression of spaciousness. Dark colours combined with light neutrals in furniture, flooring or other decorative accessories on the storyboard can result in a pleasing overall balance.

Yvonne Tobien of Luxaflex® champions darker shades, in particular black: ‘A dark-toned living room can push this trend to its ultimate incarnation. Not only is it courageous, glamorous and evocative of a distinctly bohemian edge, it’s actually a lot more practical than may be imagined. Lounge areas and sitting rooms are used mainly in the evening, so making these interiors rich and welcoming is a sensible move. During daylight hours natural light is key to making this work and a light-enhancing window cladding will help the room to feel brighter.

Escape from stress is a paramount factor of 2018 lifestyle, especially within the personal sanctuary of a home, surrounded by the objects and colours that are most appreciated. Bedrooms and bathrooms are private spaces, ideal for shades that suppress the drama of the everyday; whites, the recently popular sage and misty greens, and shadowy lilac-grey tones could be apt colours here.

Very obviously, the chosen palette has the ability to set the mood of an interior. Capitalise on this positive factor by using accent colour sparingly throughout the interior space. Overall, cool blues, greys and greens calm and soothe, while warmer orange, yellow and red tones stimulate. Indeed, colour can lift the mood and / or improve the energy of a space.

Art of Sun Control

The shutters market in South Africa is expanding from mansion to mainstream with sales showing no signs of abating; their use in coastal areas is specifically notable with Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard being a key location. Homeowners see shutters as an investment that adds value to their property, whilst providing up to 50 percent increase in energy efficiency in winter and sun control during the warmer months.

In South Africa shutters are a bespoke item, usually customised to specification because getting the installation right for the type of home and particular window is key – technical know-how and expertise having particular relevance. Security shutters, which fulfil both a decorative and crime prevention role are a fast rising sector of this market and with valid reason.

Duncan Snyman of American Shutters confirms this: ‘One of the most notable trends is the move to use shutters as a security measure. The fact that security shutters have the same visual appeal as timber shutters allows designers and homeowners to install both options in the same design scheme.

‘An additional trend is the requirement to use eco-friendly products, and as the only FSC® accredited shutter company in South Africa we focus on producing environmentally friendly shutters. Examples are white teak shutters made from timber sourced from certified Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) plantations. DecowoodTM is our most popular and cost-effective range of shutters and is manufactured using engineered wood, the timber being sourced from sustainable plantations; security shutters are constructed from eco-friendly architectural grade aluminium.

‘During 2018 we intend to launch slatted screens in wood and aluminium, plus timber and aluminium combination shutters.’

Werner Jansen van Rensburg of Plantation Shutters® lists other advantages: ‘Shutters continue to gain popularity as more homeowners become familiar with the versatile functionality and elegant aesthetics which they impart. With only a slight movement of the louvres, the amount of filtered light that enters a space is easily adjusted. Similarly, using shutters as a divider between two rooms, or between a bedroom and bathroom, is a popular solution.

‘Our blind fabric collections are a result of trends that we develop,’ so says Kate Mederer of Taylor Blinds & Shutters. ‘We search for inspiration in fashion, architecture, art and nature and don’t only look at the developments of today, but also at classical signatures from history. What we see and feel we illustrate in our window covering collections, with the prerequisite that they be innovative and timeless.

‘An ongoing primary direction is the use of natural colours and tactile materials, which can create a pure and serene look that generates a comforting feel. When applied in interior decoration, the natural textile structure of the materials make the window coverings seem closer; it’s an appeal that is less aloof. So such natural fabrics allow for an injection of warmth and emotion into the interior; and particularly in the contract market, this is a new and innovative design approach.

For the full article see Habitat #264 March / April 2018

cover image: Swartland


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