VOLTA BLOG | Adding a touch of character and combining styles has never been trendier than it is right now
March 24th 2022
What does industrial style mean when it comes to interior design?
There is a lot of interest on the property market for living spaces whose appearance and stories are unique. The starting point for much of the interior architecture in the Volta Quarter was the more than 120 years of history behind the buildings. “When you’re reconstructing buildings that are that old, and when you’re building new ones right next to them, you have to maintain an architectural through-line so as to create a strong overall look,” Maarja-Linda explains. “The exteriors are so important that they influence the interior appearance in lots of different ways.”
In terms of interior architecture, industrial style primarily stands out for its chequered floor-to-ceiling windows and its high ceilings. “With the Volta homes it’s definitely the windows that make them as unique as they are, whether it’s stunning arched windows or glass facades that just go on forever!” Maarja-Linda smiles. “There’s authenticity too in the limestone and brick walls in the apartments, which make them stand out even more. And wherever possible we’ve made a point of highlighting the original beams and posts.”
Walls like a blank canvas
With their high ceilings and large windows, the Volta homes are truly light and airy. This sense of spaciousness means there is more room than usual to play around in decorating the apartments. Maarja-Linda recommends using the extensive wall space to display photos or art. “Big walls are the perfect place to shine the spotlight on something,” she says. “You might have an impressive library, or a gallery of photos you’d like to display. A great way of turning it into a feature wall is with a large painting.”
The living rooms in the Volta Gallery Lofts boast five-metre chequered windows overlooking a private courtyard. Maarja-Linda says the window itself can be viewed as a work of art that changes with the weather and the seasons. “From the window you look down on a landscaped courtyard backed by an original limestone wall with arched openings in it,” she explains. “With such a unique view, you might prefer to leave your walls untouched and just enjoy the artistic scenes that open up from the window.”
Another option is to draw attention away from the walls to the centre of the room by installing a designer light fitting. “Lights can be more than just functional,” Maarja-Linda says. “A cool fitting can be as effective as a sculpture and become the focal point of the room.”
If you go for a trend, then which one?
Maarja-Linda says it is more important for products to have a timeless feel than to be on-trend if you want your home to still look as fresh and modern several years down the line. “Whatever you choose for your interior, your priorities should be quality and personal taste,” she advises. “There’s no point following a trend simply because it’s in at that particular moment. What you actually like is far more important.”
In the Volta Gallery Lofts, all the key features are in place: the floors are covered in herringbone oak parquet, which is well matched to the historical feel of the place, while the bathrooms are finished with classics like marble and terrazzo. “These are materials that have been valued for centuries for their elegance,” says Maarja-Linda. “That’s what makes them trendy.”
In all other choices, the designer recommends trusting your instincts and being guided by your personality, which can be expressed with colours, art and decorative elements. “Adding a touch of character and combining styles has never been trendier than it is right now,” says Maarja-Linda. “The Scandinavian aesthetic has long been admired in Estonia, but mid-century modern and Japandi design have come into their own in recent years. We’re seeing more bold colours, natural, flowing forms, sculptural furniture and both design classic and antiques. You can put all of that together to make a really effective and really unique combination that’s a treat for the senses.”
There is no end of choices (or opinions) when it comes to designing a home, but Maarja-Linda says you should still be guided by what it is that you yourself want. “You don’t always have to take other people’s recommendations on board,” she stresses. “Nor do you have to disappear down a rabbit hole on Pinterest or Instagram! They’re great sources of inspiration, but you should take a moment to ask yourself what you like and what makes you happy.”
How do you design a home from scratch?
If you buy a new-build, most of the work has already been done for you – all that’s left for you to choose is the interior finish. When buying a home in a new development, there are three rules you should follow. Firstly, think about how much you are willing and able to spend. “When you’re buying a home, you have to remember to budget for what goes in it, not just the place itself,” Maarja-Linda cautions. “Think about all the details from the off so that you don’t find yourself having to reconsider everything once your custom-made furniture turns up or forget about accessories altogether.”
Secondly, decide whether you will get an interior architect involved or plan and select everything personally. “Here you need to have an honest conversation with yourself,” Maarja-Linda advises. “Does the idea of designing your home excite you or will it just stress you out and take up too much of your time? Remembering, of course, that hiring an interior architect is an added cost you’ll need to budget for.”
Thirdly, you should check the delivery times on items, as they may be much longer than you would expect. Do this before you order them, as supply problems could mean a much longer wait than the one promised on the website. “Using an interior architect definitely helps here, since they can recommend who to order from and what sort of delivery times to expect,” Maarja-Linda says. “Obviously you want everything to be in place by the time you’re ready to move in, so that you can settle in and enjoy your new home from the off.”
Maarja-Linda says one of the most common mistakes is failing to take the dimensions of a room into account. “When it comes to decorating, people often choose something that’s too big or too small for a room, and that upsets the balance,” she explains. “You have to make certain the furniture fits the space, but also that the interior elements go together. You often see that people have chosen a sofa that’s much too big, or a rug that’s far too small. Where size is concerned, measure before you buy – several times, just to be sure!”
Another issue is misplaced emphasis: when a space lacks a focal point or attempts to juggle too many of them. “You sometimes see a number of strong elements vying for attention, which means there’s no sense of cohesion,” Maarja-Linda explains. “Opt instead for one specific element as your focal point.” This might be a large window or fireplace on the basis of which you then select a sofa, armchairs and tables.
Aspects deserving of more attention
Maarja-Linda says light fittings receive far less attention than they deserve. “They’re one of the most beautiful design elements you have to work with,” she says. “And not just ceiling lamps, but wall and table and floor lamps, too. They’re what actually make a house feel like a home. A blazing overhead light never has the same cosy feel of a more subdued floor lamp.”
Attention should also be turned to decorative items. “People often sacrifice accessories at the altar of minimalism,” Maarja-Linda adds, “or they go to the opposite extreme and create a temple of scatter cushions and other bits and bobs that just leaves the place looking a mess.” She says it pays to strike a balance between the two. “It doesn’t matter whether you err towards the minimalist side of things or prefer a house of plenty,” she shrugs. “There are good solutions for both. Grouping logic is one, where you follow the rule of three – elements combined in odd numbers tend to be more dynamic and more pleasing to the eye. That allows you to create separate feature spaces in your interior that work individually but also bring the whole space together.”
Nor is an effective outcome reliant on you buying expensive designer items alone: all you need to think about is the key elements you might want to spend a little more on. “Think about the one or two things you want to draw people’s attention to in your interior,” says Maarja-Linda. “That will help you stick to your budget.”
Ask for advice
Nobody expects you to be a talented designer on top of your day job, which is why you should have no hesitation in asking an expert for advice. “There are lots of talented interior designers in Estonia and they’ve all got their own signature style,” says Maarja-Linda. “Your home is such a personal space that you really have to trust the interior architect you’ll be working with, so it pays to shop around before you make your final choice. Take a look at the work they’ve done and meet with them to get a sense of whether you’ll be a good match.”
Property developers can also recommend someone, as most have years of experience of working with interior architects. Be sure to ask people you know as well – perhaps you just recently noticed how nice a friend’s place is looking and would like something along those lines yourself?