Decorating in a Contemporary Urban Style
Metal girders, roof trusses and steel or brick pillars may all be left exposed as part of this style, which is often associated withof warehouses, factories or other industrial buildings. The look can also be applied to modern barn conversions and new-build country properties for a light, spacious, uncluttered interior.
Typically, the contemporary urban living space is open-plan and fluid, so planning the use of space is important, as is unity of design between different areas. Capacious storage is vital as this is not a style that makes a virtue out of everyday mess or eclectic collections, although the inner workings of modern technology are often proudly on view.
The look is sleek and streamlined, with individual pieces making a statement — they may even be an art form in their own right. Chairs are often metal-framed, and leather, linen or tweed are favoured for upholstery. This type of interior may incorporate a few older pieces, even antiques, which should be used as a bold focal point, and be cleverly lit.
Original wide wooden boards suit the style, but so does cement or concrete, which can be painted, coloured or polished. For a softer feel, cover floors with studded rubber, inlaid designs in linoleum or vinyl, metal (or metal-look) tiles, leather or a glittery vinyl. Walkways and interior stairs might be a combination of metal and glass. Carpets are definitely not part of this look, although a ‘designer’ rug or a faux animal skin could add a softer texture.
This type of interior does not have conventional curtains. If they are well shaped, windows may be left unadorned, or they can be screened with blinds, shutters or sheer fabric drapes, which filter the light.
Walls are always plain — wallpaper is definitely not an option — but they may be boldly coloured. Exposed brickwork can be left untreated. Other wall treatments that work well include paint (perhaps with a metallic finish),or laminated panels and polished plaster. A panel of glass bricks lets in light and adds textural interest.
Colours are usually neutral, especially in main living areas. Particularly suitable are the rather stark ‘true’ neutrals of black, white and grey, combined with silver-coloured metals. Slightly softer are the broken whites, creams and beiges, warm taupes and browns. Bright flashes of colour can be added in accents to enliven the scheme, and often the bathroom and kitchen areas are strongly coloured with bright blues, aquas and emeralds or bold orange, purple and yellow.
Stand-alone accessories in bold, dramatic shapes or unusual textures are typical and groups should present a sense of unity, such as three single blooms each in identical tall glass vases. Eye-catching art, from a fabric wall-hanging to an acrylic painting, look dramatic against plain walls, and architectural plants — palms, ferns, topiary — are perfect. Lighting for emphasis is important.