Friday, 16 March 2018

Barn/2 - I need a breather

I don't think I've ever worked on a project that has moved so quickly, the barn has all the joists up, flooring is upstairs and we have a meeting with the 'Architecture et Patrimonie' department in Tulle at the end of the month to discuss our window and door requirements. But I now need some thinking time to design and plan.

Andrew will want to start plumbing and electrical runs soon and we can't do that until the kitchen and bathrooms have been planned, right down to each socket. I'm happy with that but need to advance the design process a bit further, beginning with some concept boards. I'm just starting these and remembered that I had posted the process on our previous blog so am cheating and re-posting that! I promise I'll share the barn concept board once it's done - and apologies to regular readers who saw this back in 2012.

"So what is a concept or mood board?" It's a series of images that sums up the feel that you want to create in a room. These are ones that I did for our previous project in Norfolk a few years ago. For the kitchen we had "Sweden meets Tuscany" (I knew what I meant!)

Kitchen concept board

And the finished kitchen.


So you can see how the colours, textures and feel of the room carry through.

Using a concept board really helps you focus on what you want and keeps you on track when you're shopping for furnishings. How many times have you gone out for say, a yellow shirt, and fallen in love with a purple flowery one. You can't resist the colour and pattern. You just have to have it! But you never wear it because it goes with nothing and it's not really you. You can hide a shirt in the back of the wardrobe but that's more difficult with a pair of curtains, and considerably more expensive.

But the best thing about designing a concept board is that your room will be individual to you and really reflect your personality. It's easy with so many gorgeous magazines and internet images to fall in love with a room style, go out and buy the whole lot. After all if everything has been selected by a designer it must be good? Well yes but is it really you? Does it showcase your individuality? Probably not. This spring everyone I met seemed to be decorating. I was a little perplexed by the amount of people who had chosen stone coloured paint with a feature wall in mulberry. Then I saw the Dulux catalogue which featured a room set with this combination, it's very nice, but not unique to you.

So back to our bathroom. My initial thoughts were for a calm (again) tranquil, spa like zone. But then Andrew pointed out it would be a family bathroom and that harassed mothers will probably not want teenagers loitering there in the morning. The first starting point is to think of some words that really sum up how you want the room to feel. They can be something emotional 'cosy, snug, welcoming'  or you may have a theme in mind 'New England boardwalk',' French chateau' or 'English rose garden'. It's entirely your call.

Initial thoughts

I came up with:

  • Refresh
  • Indulge
  • Invigorate
  • Cleanse
  • Wake up!
  • Spritzy
  • Zesty

It's best to have a maximum of three or it can get confusing. From my list I whittled it down to 'Wake up! Zesty & Indulge' which then got stuck in front of me to keep me focused while I sorted through images. During this process 'indulge' became 'fresh'.

Aide memoire

Because I make up quite a few concept boards I have a very fat file of images. They have been cut out of magazines over the years (travel, food and fashion ones are particularly good) and I have them categorised just to make it a bit quicker for me. Themes include urban, calm, cool, rich and one for each of the four seasons. You don't have to use physical images, there are some great online tools. Canva is free and really easy to use.  For beautiful images then is really good too. I like to use magazine cut outs because I can browse and see what jumps out at me.

I took a few relevant sections out (this time I had cool, spring and vibrant)  and then just started looking to see what appealed to me. It's easier if they're not in magazines as you can get distracted by reading. You could also use photographs that you've taken. The only rule is that there are no images of furniture, fabrics or accessories (they're on the follow up sample board where you choose the paints, fabrics and furniture you want) you're looking for inspirational images. Keep referring back to your key words.

My big fat file
My initial images numbered 21.

First haul

Can you see Wake up! Zesty & Fresh?

I prefer to only have three or four images on the final board, any more and it becomes either confusing or you're repeating images. Sometimes you find the one perfect shot that sums up everything you imagine living in that room will be and that's absolutely fine.

Twenty one went to eight that went to four.

Getting there

Concept boards are not necessarily a quick process, up to the last shot I'd taken three hours but they are backbone of your design. I wasn't entirely happy with the last four. They hit the brief but it was all a bit green. This wouldn't normally be a problem but we already have two rooms in shades of green and I wanted to break from this. But sometimes that's how houses, or you, are. I'm fond of blue but in our last house it just wasn't happening.

At this point I left the images on my desk overnight to see what I felt about them in the morning.

New day

So the morning brought the above selection, which then became these.

So close
And I finally whittled it down to four.

The next stage is cutting and mounting. Don't feel you have to have whole images, you can slice and dice as you wish. How you mount is an important part of the board. If you were doing a board for a child's room you might want it to feel lively and slightly chaotic so your images could be different sizes and placed in a more random way.

Try and avoid cutting with scissors as you rarely get a crisp line. A sharp blade, metal ruler and cutting board are best.

Tools of the trade

The colour of the board is important as well. I had run out of white mountboard but as it was my personal project I knew I could get away with it. White was important though as this is the colour of the bathroom suite and will have a large presence in the room. So I cut white paper to mount my images on first. The easiest way of fixing the images is to use photographic spraymount as you then have a short window to reposition. Finally write your key words on, as a reminder.

So finally, after a couple of days I was happy with the results.

Final board

And the observant out there will notice that the lemon tart didn't make it to the finals.

The bathroom was finished a few months after this was done but if you want to fast forward and have a peek it's here. You can see how the elements played out, the pale lavender walls, citrus green accessories and the terrazzo tiles.

So there we have it, a quick tutorial on a concept or mood board. So set aside an afternoon, a coffee or a glass of wine and get creative!

If you would like to see what we're up to in France as we renovate our barn and house then feel free to follow us here on Instagram or follow/friend us on Facebook

So back to work and my trusty file of images.


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