Nicola Holden Designs – Contemporary Interior Designer, London.

As we enter week 6 of lockdown in the UK, I thought I’d share with you the five Instagram posts that have brought me joy over the past week.  I think you’ll find they share a common theme!

First up is this image from one of Kit Kemp’s designs, a collaboration in the loft space at Bergdorf Goodman on 5th Avenue in New York.  It is full of colour, pattern and texture, and effortlessly mixes in elements from different cultures.  I am a huge fan of Kit Kemp’s style!

Image: Kit Kemp

Next up is this magical gallery walkway that I came across on The Design Files.  It is in the home of Australian artist David Humphries, whose legendary career has seen him craft dazzling terrazzo art pieces in Australia, London and Los Angeles.  The bright Harlequin pattern floor is actually linoleum tiles, but I just love the intense colour they bring to this space.  It would be a completely different space if the floor were plain wood or concrete!

Image: The Design Files

Sophie Robinson is well known for being the queen of colour, and last week she posted this image of a little corner in her spare bedroom.  Again it’s a space that’s filled with colour and pattern – stripes and florals layered one on top of the other.  It is full of interest without being overwhelming.

Image: Sophie Robinson

Going outdoors now, I just love this image posted by Ingrid Fetell Lee – the #joyspotter herself!  The colours just shout sunshine, and although they are large blocks of colour, there is the pattern in the pink tiles on the orange wall, running down to the water spout. 

Image: Rosas & Xocolate

And finally, another Ingrid Fetell Lee post is this school by Japanese architect, Keiichiro Sako.  I can just imagine the patterns of light that would play through those coloured panels.  I would love to introduce some stained glass into my home.  I just haven’t figured out how to make it work yet!

Image: Sako Architects

I think it’s fairly obvious what brings me joy.  Do you know what it is that brings you joy?

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I am used to spending quite a lot of my days alone, with my husband out at work, and me quietly working away in my business.  However, spending the majority of time during lockdown under the same roof as my husband has highlighted to me our different personality types.  I am very much an ambivert.  I love socialising with friends and family, but I equally love spending time on my own in quiet contemplation.  My husband, it appears, is more extroverted than me, and a geek, and is in his element organising Zoom calls left, right a centre.  So how can we design our homes to cater for the needs of everyone in them?

It seems that the biggest difference between introverts and extroverts is in how each prefers to spend their time. 

Introverts enjoy spending time alone, or socialising in smaller groups of friends.  Introverts also need time alone to recharge their batteries after a busy day, and can get lost in their thoughts easily and need time to process and think through things.

Extroverts, on the other hand, prefer spending time around other people and enjoy larger gatherings with lots of new people.  Extroverts like lots of activity and stimulation.

This open-plan layout provides space for everyone to ‘hang out’ together

With the rise in popularity of open-plan layouts, our homes are more becoming designed for extroverts.  Extroverts will thrive in communal, open-plan spaces that allow the family to ‘hang out’ together.  However, these spaces don’t work for everyone.

Introverts prefer smaller spaces where they can be alone with their thoughts.  Open-plan spaces can create a cacophony of noise – kitchen noises, television noises and device noises on top of regular conversation, which can be a major irritant for introverts who may end up depleting their energy levels in order to avoid being thought of as ‘antisocial’.  When creating a home from an introvert, it’s important to carve out places for retreat.

A quiet space carved out in the corner of this dining room

This retreat space doesn’t have to be an extension, or a shed at the bottom of the garden.  Find a low-traffic area in your house – a guest bedroom, an office that doesn’t get much use, or even a cupboard that you can clear out.  If you share your home with other people then this space can’t be a communal space like a kitchen or living room. 

As selfish as it sounds, having a quiet space to get away from your surroundings so you can recover, process, and recharge will help you to show up as the best version of yourself in your job, and with your family and friends.

A reading corner positioned beside a window for natural light

Think about what you want to do in your quiet room.  If you love to read, add a comfy chair, a reading lamp, and a space for some of your favourite books. Love to write, draw or paint then try to find a space with a window for natural light.  Keep your space clutter free, as clutter equals to distraction and visual noise.  And most importantly, don’t worry about what others think — this is your space, so decorate it considering what brings you joy.

And finally, keep in mind that soft textures like carpets, curtains, textiles, and upholstered walls help to dampen sound and allow the peace and quiet that you crave.

The ball chair provides a surprisingly quite space to retreat in this small one-bed apartment

Getting the design of your spaces right will allow both extroverts, introverts, and everyone in between, to thrive!  That restorative feeling — security, peace, rest — is something our home environments should provide us all the time.  And, if yours isn’t bringing you that feeling then I am here to help.  Consultations can be done remotely using video calls and meetings instead of face-to-face consultations using methods of your choice, be it Zoom, WhatsApp, telephone and email.

“Design is directed toward human beings. To design is to solve human problems by identifying them and executing the best solution.”
Ivan Chermayeff

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