Nicola Elam ©
December 12, 2018.
Winter is typically a slump period for property sales, but the lead into this year’s festive slow-down has been particularly troublesome.
With many people concerned about the effects of high prices, combined with the uncertainty of Brexit – buyers are more wary than ever. If you are selling and want to hit the ground running in 2019, focus on the golden nugget of all sales techniques – presentation.
The property markets are not a level playing field – paradoxically, new builds come at a premium and people are prepared to pay it, even against the political climate. If you are already competing in a saturated market, take a few tips from the experts on how to enhance your home’s attributes.
Interior designer, Olga Kurganova, has a sharp eye for detail with experience of working in design across three continents. She has become a sell-out sensation in the affluent Hertfordshire town of Harpenden.
In areas where property prices are off the scale, buyers not only expect a high-end finish, but want presentation which is at the forefront of design; integrating substance and style.
Property developers are embracing the modern population with ever-smaller spaces, that are easier to maintain and push us towards more sociable living. Thanks to technology compounding our lifestyle conveniences, we’re able to scale living space accordingly with the help of experts like Olga, who inspires us with her well-polished international portfolio.
Next year’s design predictions are no secret among industry insiders and Olga is in great demand to advise owners how to achieve the latest look. “If you’re selling against a brand new shiny housing development, the next best emulation you can offer is a customised designer interior”, she says.
As a qualified design professional, Olga takes a scientific approach, rather than rely on showrooms and mass-market trends: “my tips are not trends,” she says, “but rather principles based on science, creating illusions to adjust and correct proportions”.
She goes on to emphasise: “design trends such as colours are constantly changing (every year in fact) and often do not work for the same space.”
This is where an industry expert can steer you towards the right design choices that pay dividends, as Olga points out: “Professional interior designers are trained to apply knowledge to address negative aspects of a room, increasing both its enjoyment and overall property value”.
This is important advice for homeowners wanting to apply the latest colour schemes in a way that maximises their home’s attributes. Every house is as individual as the occupant’s lifestyle, which means a particular ‘look’ may be great in one house but not work in your own home.
If you decide to project-manage yourself, Olga has some key advice on how you can ensure your space is stylish and proportionate before you pick out your preferred palettes.
The most important element in any home layout is its potential capacity. New-build homes are characteristically becoming smaller, but their interior designers do a fantastic job of creating the illusion of space in beautifully dressed show-houses. These are Olga’s top tips on how you can achieve the same result:
Natural light – “Large windows give the impression of a much bigger room by incorporating the outside perspective. To maximise your window size, hang larger curtain panels and pelmets around and above your window frames to hide them. By hanging pelmets and drapery as near to the ceiling as possible, it gives the perspective of much bigger windows.”
“Choose curtains with small patterned fabric if you have a nice view, or plain fabric if not. To elongate a room with a pretty aspect, encourage the eye through the window and towards the exterior distance. By arranging bright garden furniture and attractive features directly within view of the window frame it focuses attention outwards.”
Walls – “With springtime dawning, refresh your walls with light and airy colours to open up all the available space. For low ceilings, paint walls, ceilings and integrated architecture the same colour – this blends contours and heightens the appearance of a room by 6 – 12cm.”
Accessorise as Art – “Wall décor and accessories play an important role when creating a sense of bigger space. Use large mirrors positioned opposite windows to reflect light into every corner. If you prefer paintings, choose a landscape that becomes another window in itself.”
“To deflect attention from unappealing walls and corners, exhibit something bright and interesting in the middle of the room to attract focus away from the periphery.”
“When buying rugs, go for smaller patterns with bright themes – the on-trend colours are reds and yellows, diverting attention from low ceilings by adding interesting layers and detail.”
Furniture – “If you’re buying new furniture remember a room’s established traffic flow. Leave enough space around seating areas using scaled-furniture that has space underneath. Not only will this give a cleaner and fresher appearance – it alludes to a larger floor area – providing more accessible cleaning and improved air flow .”
Light up your life – “Use simple light fixtures on low ceilings such as recessed downlights, but avoid elaborate designs and reserve decorative pendants for the dining table. Fitting adjustable downlights as accents along wall perimeters will increase the perception of wall space at night.”
Olga’s artistic influences are inspired by the eclectic style of her grandmother, but she emphasises that clutter is an absolute no. She set-up her company, OKKO Design Studio Inc., after studying and working in Chicago for the past 16 years. Now with an established client base on both sides of the Atlantic, Olga is well-informed about the latest in home design and innovation.
With her Russian background – where generations of families typically lived in small houses with multi-purpose rooms – combined with a previous career as an accountant, Olga applies both authentic practicality and an artistic flair to her work.
You can come up with any off-the-wall idea you like and Olga will ensure it also has a functional outcome; with considered enthusiasm, she reveals: “It’s an interesting trend that many people want to create a sense of their favourite boutique hotel or spa sanctuaries within their own homes”.
Such is the success of her Harpenden workshops that Olga is now expanding her repertoire across multiple digital platforms to service her increasing clientele. It is no wonder she is receiving such accolades when she is able to create an appearance of 30% more space in a client’s home – now that’s a real selling point!
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