The judges were all in agreement that this year’s Australian House & Garden Top 50 Rooms awards were the most impressive yet. So who better to turn to for interiors advice than Joanne Lawless who received the highest accolade of them all?
The Sydney-based interior designer impressed the judging panel – including Lisa Green, editor-in-chief of House & Garden, The Block judge Darren Palmer and Cameron Warwick, joint managing director of Warwick Fabrics – with her beautiful pairing of concrete and timber surfaces and was awarded Room of the Year.
Here, Lawless shares her pro tips for anyone interested in embarking on a renovating project, big or small.
1. Teamwork is everything
Speaking of her award-winning Eastern suburbs family room, Lawless says: “We worked really closely with the architectural firm. We designed the whole house and the client came to us with a really strong vision about what they wanted… It was a nice collaboration between the architect, the client, us the interior designers, and even the builder. Everyone worked really well together to get this thing going. And it was kind of a dream job.” Moral of the story: know your limitations and enlist experts for areas that you don’t feel confident in.
2. Take inspiration from everywhere
Having worked in Australia, the USA and Asia, Lawless cites travel as an important style influence. Her design concept for the family room was inspired by the finishes often seen in Belgian homes, “which typically draw from a limited palette of natural materials,” shes says. If you’ve hit a wall or are struggling to get inspired, take a trip or get lost in a travel tome. New cultures have always been a rich source of inspiration for Lawless.
3. Integrate authentic architectural elements
One of the things that impressed the judges most was Lawless’ use of concrete and timber surfaces. “We were inspired mostly by the concrete that came from the architecture; that concrete you can see from the outside as well so we made sure that all the panels and the breakup of the panels worked outside and inside and we took our cue from that. The concrete was the thing and then we had to make it strong, but warm as well so that it’s not just a big cold concrete box, but something that everyone wanted to be in all the time.” When curating a design concept, think about how you can bring the outside in and celebrate architectural features and raw materials.
4. Use colour and texture to create ambiance
Colour and texture are two key ways of creating ambiance within a room. Use soft, tactile materials such as sheer curtains, textured linen upholstery and plush, woolen rugs to soften structural elements and add warmth to a room. For a calm living environment, stick with neutral tones with tan accents as Lawless used.
5. Always add books
Lawless’ family room has many impressive features – the black panelled fireplace and floating concrete plinth are the owner’s favourites – teamed with a minimalist aesthetic, but there’s one addition to the room that vital. Books. “I once read ‘A home without books is like a body without a soul’,” says Lawless. The adage resonated with the interior designer who believes that you can never have too many books in your home. Stack coffee table tomes to make a style statement and use small books to add a homely touch around a room.
Originally published as: https://www.homestolove.com.au/interior-design-expert-tips-4165