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David Muirhead of David Muirhead & Associates, Johannesburg

Starting Out

“Your starring point for a room could be absolutely any item,” says David. “As long as it’s beautiful and you love it, work with it. But if you’ve inherited a piece that you can’t stand, move on and look for something else.” David often incorporates his clients’ existing accessories into a scheme, yet always gives things a fresh and glamorous spin. “Take time to consider the function of an interior,” he recommends. “It’s important to think about how you’re going to use the space and what your requirements are for each room. I’m a strong believer in practicality, so if you’re tackling a veranda, you’ ll want to consider the longevity of the fabrics, how to protect your furnishings and how to arrange your seating to optimise garden views.”

Practical Matters

“For clients who have young children, choosing wall finishes such as grass cloth is probably not the wisest decision,” he adds. “But this doesn’t mean you have to abandon wall coverings all together. Cladding a wall with PVC could be a contemporary solution that’s both stylish and easy to maintain.” David also advises increasing the life of your upholstery by using Scotchgarded fabrics, or by having linen slip covers made for items like TV room sofas. “Not only can you keep the soft furnishings looking shipshape, but it also allows you to enjoy seasonal looks by having twO different sets of covers.”

“I always treat a veranda space as I would a comfortable interior room,” explains David. “We framed the garden with drapes in all-weather Ralph Lauren fabric from St Leger & Viney, and included an electric blind by AC Blinds which adds privacy and protection from wind and rain. The grey screed floor is an up-to-date take on the home’s original red stoep.”

David’s starting point for this living room floor plan was a window which overlooks a koi pond. The balance of the studded chaise, two raffia lamps from Cecile and Boyd’s and the delicate champagne palette is offset by the oversized armchair and mod metallic ottoman. “The Ralph Lauren grass cloth wallpaper has a delicate silver streak to it and helps to lighten up the space.”

Beating the Budget

“Paint remains one of the most cost effective ways to update a room ,” says David. “Beautiful wallpapers are wonderful to have if the budget allows, but by creating a stunning neutral shell with the right shade of paint, you’re halfway there. Once you’ve gOt a natural base to work with, you can look at the proportions of your furniture as well as ‘the composition of colour’ – the balance of bright versus neutral objects or patterned accessories versus plain.”

Creating a Floor Plan

“Have a plan of how you see the room and create a to-scale floor layout with paper templates of your furniture. Then add a key piece like a well-made comfy sofa and you’ll slowly see where and how to spend the rest of your budget. While proportion and balance are vital, I always like to add something like an over-scaled chair to throw things Out a little.”

This rich red carpet was the starting point for this luxurious guest bedroom designed by David. The zebra print fabric adds a quirky, unexpected edge, while the deep-buttoned navy velvet headboard and Ralph Lauren scatters are pure luxury. The 1920’s chandelier was found in an antique shop.

Reference: Garden & Home | April 2011


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