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March 29, 2020 – Published in Design & Decor Spring 2015 issue

Spring into retro chic

Words Kenneth Tanti – Interior designer

Spring is all around us. At last this is the time to fling those curtains wide open. It puts you in the mood to slap your thinking cap on and decide what to do next in your home.

Should it be the wall colour or that old, heavy piece of furniture that’s been bothering you for years that needs to go? It’s time for change. Spring is the time for new ideas and the regeneration of the old. People come to life and everything starts to bloom.

It’s a fact, through my years of experience in designing and the furnishing business this time of year must release a ‘let’s do up the house’ type of chemical in the air. From the smallest of renovation works to major refurbishment the most popular solution is either in wallpapering or changing curtains that may have been bothering you for years.

Subtle accents and focal pieces also contribute tremendously to giving a different feel within a room, like introducing colour through floral pieces for example. This really lifts the ’spirit’ of a room, draws the eyes to the new focal point and takes over the show. Simple solutions often do the trick. It does not necessarily mean that you pile up a tower of flowers in the centre of the dining table. You can also work your way round the room by using smaller, less conspicuous pieces and place them on a side table, trunk or shelves, thus drawing the eyes to various parts of the room.

This season it’s all about mixing the old with the new again, a style that seems to have frozen itself in time, and is here to stay. For example the elegance of refined chrome that offers a sparkle in combination with old, vintage painted furniture. Curio pieces that have been used out of context have always been something I thrive on. For example using a trunk or two as coffee tables and the latest thing that we have done is to use an old walnut encased television as a side table placed by an armchair. It truly creates a focal point. Having written that, it must be stressed that these ideas need to be kept to a minimum as too many of them will clash with each other and you may turn the interior to a semblance of a ‘thrift shop’.

Lighting also creates change in an interior and it’s not just the effect of the lighting but the actual light fitting itself. Many people fail to give the fitting due importance. Suspending one centrepiece will ‘lift’ the room and once more create a strong focal point. It does not mean that a huge chandelier has to be hung but it should be something more than a hidden spotlight. Just to add that bit of fun let hidden spotlights and recessed lighting create the desired lighting effects. However let the suspended light be dominant, and take credit for it.

Another source of decorative lighting that I absolutely thrive on is lampshades. If I could I would have lampshades everywhere. They bring down the level of light to the ground or exactly where to accent that piece of furniture you wish to highlight. There are so many delightful lampshades out there that can change a room decoratively in an instant, plus at the same time serving a purpose. From objects with oversized polished chrome bases to those elegant, transparent cut glass urns that gleam with pride.

Inspiration comes from many different sources and so do ideas. Don’t be scared to experiment and ask. Look through various ideas and see what leaves you with a good feeling and build on them from the ground up. Try moving things round in the room and get your creative juices flowing. This usually acts as a catalyst for your thoughts and ideas, and if this is not working and ideas don’t come we are here to help after all.

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