It should be no coincidence why one interior designer goes minimalist while another prefers colors and opulent displays.
Just like with any artist, their style is influenced by the wealth of their life experiences, by their exposure to different cultures, and surely by their personality. So when Simone Aïda Baur, a Zürich based, award winning interior designer, learned about our color and design preferences, she must have had a field day.
That’s because we were wishing for a tropical atmosphere in our apartment – an everyday reminder of the beautiful places we have visited all around the world. We wanted to incorporate touches of green nature into our home as a way of making it a serene place to wind down and relax; to make it a sanctuary.
Simone, too, has a weakness for the tropics. Having lived in seven countries on three continents, she would later tell us that the Caribbean is truly where her heart is. Places like Saint Martin with their colorful beach cottages, turquoise waters and tropical plants have influenced her preferences when it comes to interior design.
Interior Design Coaching Session
We first learned about Simone and her Swiss interior design consultancy, Global Inspirations Design, through an interview in the online magazine. Who better to ask for advice on interior design than a fellow lover of palm trees and tropical plants, who happens to be an interior designer?
Simone offers an interior design package which includes an assessment in advance, a rough design concept in terms of ideas and suggestions, plus a home visit. To accommodate our busy work schedules, Simone agreed to meet on a Saturday morning.
A couple weeks before the visit, we were asked to complete a questionnaire about our likes/dislikes, our preferred travel destinations, our lifestyle, our wishes and feelings about various spaces in our apartment. The questionnaire also inquired about our color preferences and our favorite pieces of furniture. We snapped a few smartphone pictures of the apartment and turned the homework in to Simone.
On the day of her visit, Simone showed up with a carry-on suitcase in tow. How exciting! Being a professional interior designer, she brought tools such as a color fan and tape measures. Also, to demonstrate her ideas, she had pre-selected fabrics, textures, patterns, carpets and even wallpapers… But more on that later.
Hands-on design advice
Before the walk-through of our apartment, Simone mindfully asked for permission to move objects as she sees fit. We agreed and showed her our living room. The first thing Simone noticed is that all our furniture and plants are of similar height. In other words, there was nothing sticking out on top. By placing our large “EAT” display on top of our sideboard and moving some plants, Simone helped us create more visual excitement in an instant.
As we moved along, Simone talked about creating different spaces for different purposes, such as a comfy lounge area for lingering, reading books or entertaining. Placing the sofa on a large carpet would do the trick, and Simone had already anticipated our preference: she showed us several carpet samples in blue and turquoise colors, one of which we fall for head over heels…
Oh, and we were also missing a room divider to separate the lounge area from our dining area. “The furniture and accessories need to relate, but not compete.” Matching pieces based on the shade of wood or color of steel helps to create harmony. Several weeks later, we would repurpose an office shelf into a divider, and this small tweak really did make a big difference!
At our entrance, there is an accent wall which (up to that point) was: white. Just like all the walls in our apartment, the entrance foyer made no particular statement one way or the other. Simone’s bold idea was to use wallpapering in order to create a focal point. She brought wallpaper samples featuring palm leaves, and we were hooked.
Accent lighting and negative space
As we would learn, lighting is a science in its own right. “Accent lighting is a great way of highlighting certain pieces that are important to you, such as paintings, a piece of designer furniture or a houseplant,” Simone explained. We already have recessed and dimmable lights in the living room for general and some ambient lighting, but we were missing a floor lamp to add another layer of light.
Before wrapping up this 2.5 hour coaching session, Simone pointed out another easy fix to improve our living room. She pulled our sofa away from the wall to create a gap, explaining that “creating negative space lets your room breathe. Sometimes, moving an object away from the wall makes a room appear larger.”
After seeing Simone off, we turned around and implemented some of the advice she had given us: getting a side table for our sofa, moving the piano, and even wallpapering that accent wall…
We couldn’t be happier with the result. Thanks, Simone!