DON'T GIVE CONCRETE THE COLD SHOULDER

Concrete has been making a solid name for itself in interior design circles in recent years and there’s no sign of this super cool material subsiding from our creative conscious any time soon.

It’s historical application and long association of being a hard, grey, matte material means it can often appear cold, but it actually offers more warmth than you may think!

The high performing thermal properties of concrete means that its mass can protect the space it resides in from extreme cold and extreme heat. It can absorb heat from sunlight, store it and release it slowly back into the space, the way that timber and carpet simply can’t.

As we head into the cooler months don’t give concrete the cold shoulder just yet! Here are six ways to visually soften one of the coolest decorating materials available, many of which can be adapted to the home.

RUGS
Rugs are an important and welcome addition to any space, whether delineating zones, providing a plush, toe-tickling sensation underfoot, or to create warmth and coziness, especially when layered over concrete flooring. Blush tones are very on trend and create a beautifully harmonious pairing with concrete’s cooler colouring. 

New Market showroom in Amsterdam by Framework

New Market showroom in Amsterdam by Framework

Valentino Concept Store in Milan by David Chipperfield

Valentino Concept Store in Milan by David Chipperfield

TEXTURE
Adding layers of texture will soften the hard edges and hard surfaces of concrete. Introducing natural fibres and fabrics such as cotton, linen, flax, timber and leather in the form of cushions, throws and furniture add variation to visually soften concrete, often making it appear organic in itself.

Balwyn House by Fiona Lynch

Balwyn House by Fiona Lynch

Wolseley Residence in Melbourne’s Brighton by Mckimm

Wolseley Residence in Melbourne’s Brighton by Mckimm

WOOD
The addition of a natural timber inlay (as seen in David Chipperfield’s Valentino concept store), timber joinery and details such as cabinetry, doors, ceilings or stairs, provide a naturally warm marriage when paired with concrete.

Valentino Concept Store in Milan by David Chipperfield

Valentino Concept Store in Milan by David Chipperfield

Invisible House by Peter Stutchbury in Sydney’s Blue Mountains

Invisible House by Peter Stutchbury in Sydney’s Blue Mountains

LIGHTING
Soft warm lighting adds ambience and mood to any room as a whole, but in a space where concrete is the hero, clever lighting styles and plans are even more important. Achieving a balance where emitted light can be reflected and absorbed by concrete creates interesting plays of light, adding depth to the flat surfaces and enabling them to really glow in all the right places.

2 Verandas by Gus Wüstemann in Zürich Switzerland

2 Verandas by Gus Wüstemann in Zürich Switzerland

2 Verandas by Gus Wüstemann in Zürich Switzerland

WINDOW TREATMENTS
Drapes and curtains have a distinct softening effect in a concrete space with their veil-like presence adding lightness via rippling, organic movements and soft texture. Varying degrees of opacity filter incoming light, blurring the juxtaposing hard surface we have come to expect from concrete.

Balwyn House by Fiona Lynch

Balwyn House by Fiona Lynch

Wolseley Residence in Melbourne’s Brighton by Mckimm

Wolseley Residence in Melbourne’s Brighton by Mckimm

HEATING
If you are lucky enough to plan a renovation or build from the ground up, you can allow for under floor heating to be installed with minimal fuss. This is the ultimate luxury in creating a comfortable concrete experience all year round.

Arbutus Street residence (under construction) by Alexandra Kidd Design

Arbutus Street residence (under construction) by Alexandra Kidd Design

Summerhouse Lagnö in Sweden by Tham & Videgård Arkitekter

Summerhouse Lagnö in Sweden by Tham & Videgård Arkitekter

Image 1 via Yellowtrace / Image 2 via David Chipperfield  / Image 3 via Fiona Lynch  / Image 4 via Yellowtrace / Image 5 via David Chipperfield  / Image 6 via Yellowtrace / Image 7 & 8 via Dezeen / Image 9 via Fiona Lynch / Image 10 via  Yellowtrace / Image 11 via Alexandra Kidd Design / Image 12 via Yellowtrace

ALEX TALKS . . . FLOORING

In my recent blog post about ‘Entertainer’s Kitchens’ I mentioned that the style and material for flooring is a key element in bringing cohesiveness to rooms by visually bringing spaces together, such as the connection with the kitchen to the living and dining areas.

There are so many fantastic flooring materials available these days, from textured tiles to engineered flooring, bamboo carpets and even leather tiles! The opportunities for interior spaces seem endless. 

However, there are a few key styles I’m in love with . . . 

ENGINEERED FLOORBOARDS

I love the range – colour, finish and size – we can choose from with engineered boards. From soft greys and whitewashes through to dark chocolate and black in matte or waxed finishes. The wider the board the better!

HERRINGBONE

I love the herringbone from Tongue N Groove Flooring for a modern play on a traditional design. This oversized herringbone parquetry is the perfect floor for a contemporary or classic interior. 

CONCRETE AND STONE

For living spaces, kitchens and terraces I love large format powdery concrete tiles that are soft in colour and feel, allowing for layers and textures to be added via rugs and furniture. 

For the ultimate luxe look I love floors in limestone and travertine. 

PATTERNED TILES

For bathrooms, it’s all about patterns that can add a (subtle or bold) splash of colour to the space. Mixing different levels of gloss and smaller plain tiles with patterned ones creates an artisanal quality. 

 

LEATHER

I am obsessed with leather tiles! Granted, it's not for everyone but well worth it for a jaw-dropping effect!

Images 1 - 6 via ©Alexandra Kidd Design / Image 7 via Element7