Classic all white aesthetics will always have their place, but more designers and homeowners are choosing to create some drama in their bathrooms with dark, moody aesthetics to evoke calming opulence in these important spaces.
Bathrooms are as much a place to relax and wash away the day, as they are to reinvigorate and jump start your morning. Darkening the colour tones of this highly functional room can instantly heighten the mood to an indulgent, contemporary feel.
Browsing design books, magazines and blogs reveals moody washrooms fitted with natural and earthy material palettes of dark stone, wood and ceramics teamed with soft lighting and brass finishes.
It was this type of drama which caught the eyes of judges at this year’s Trends International Design Awards, where Christchurch-based interior designer Angelique Armstrong received all three bathroom awards – two of them for moody, masculine designs.
Where such hard surfaces like natural stone or concrete and rough sawn timber may seem oppressive, balance can be maintained with considered and cleverly placed – or manipulated – artificial and natural lighting.
Naturally occurring textures like imperfections, veins and wood grains also help remove any overly industrial harshness.
Reinterpreting a light bathroom space doesn’t necessarily need to mean a complete overhaul, it could include adding concrete-effect paint or panelling, or simply choosing darker tiles and cabinetry.
A dark and masculine mood and a rustic French-inspired feminine aesthetic have seen Christchurch’s Armstrong Interiors win three bathroom awards at the prestigious 2020 Trends International Design Awards (TIDA) recently.
Taking out all three categories, the Christchurch-based team, led by Angelique Armstrong, was recognised for innovative design and thoughtfully chosen material palettes, which created a sense of consistency and balance across all three bathooms.
Angelique received TIDA’s New Zealand Powder Room of the Year, New Zealand Designer Bathroom Suite of the Year, and New Zealand Bathroom of the Year awards this month.
She says the powder room and suite were from the same home in Auckland and were completed as part of a full home renovation with a brief to achieve a “dark and masculine mood”.
She achieved this in both rooms with a clever balance of natual materials, lighting and proportion.
CDK volcanic bluestone is used on the walls, giving a unique textured finish with natural colour variations.
CDK Stones’ Myles Spicer says darker tiles is an emerging trend for clients looking for “a moody, soft feel” with a touch of luxury.
He says natural products not only add earthy, opulent textures but can be manipulated to any desired finish.
When it comes to care and maintenance, CDK Stone is the New Zealand agent for German-based company, Lithofin, which specialises in natural stone care, he says.
The master suite also uses CDK Stone Neolith vanities and shower ceramic panels, cabinetry, benchtop and basins, and the powder room uses a fabricated Neolith trough vanity basin.
Reclaimed 150-year-old French oak flooring ties the master suite together, and rough sawn timber cabinetry creates “an organic, moody feel” in the powder room.
The third bathroom recognised in the awards is, “a rustic French-inspired bathroom with a charming feminine aesthetic which balances tradition with modern comforts,” says Angelique.
“We used a traditional neutral-toned palette with feature tiles, enhanced by dark timber shutters, a custom-made solid oak vanity and cupboard, and brushed nickel Axor tapware and shower fittings.”
The wall tiles have an almost distressed and tiered look, achieved with artfully detailed Crea Stories and Crea Ash behind the bath and porcelain Pearl Ret tiles for the floor, all supplied and installed by Brymac Tiles to exacting high standards.
Angelique says she has extreme confidence in Brymac Tiles, and recommends its vast range and quality installation service.
General Manager James Thomson says he always keeps Angelique abreast of new styles.
“When I showed her the Crea tiles a while ago, she took them hostage back to her studio to wait for the perfect job to be used – and this is certainly it,” says James.
“It was fantastic to see the end result.”
Angelique says the overall space is very open and easy to navigate, responding to the client’s brief for easy wheelchair access.
The judges were impressed by the attractive balance of traditional and contemporary elements within a highly functioning setting.
Metropol catches up with award-winning interior designer Angelique Armstrong about how we can rock the natural stone look in our interiors.
A granite or marble feature wall in an interior can look incredible, how can we match our tile choices to the feature wall?
On our Instagram and Facebook, you will see natural stone is something we enjoy using.
Timeless, classic and durable, it will make a lasting statement in any space. We admire the history that exists behind the process of sourcing and producing stone slabs, and we love knowing that each piece is original in colour and veining, ensuring that every installation comes with its own authentic sense of style.
Stone feature walls can give a home an organic texture, warmth and sense of sophistication.
When choosing tiles to complement the feature wall, we consider the overall feel and purpose of the room.
Sometimes the best result is to use something completely different so the stone becomes the feature, or another option is to pick out a colour within the stone you can work with.
Pictured is a project we recently completed at a country estate in Canterbury.
The schist worked in beautifully with the parquet sideboards we had custom made, along with the detail of the kitchen design.
With flooring in our bathrooms which natural stone do you recommend?
Natural stone is a sensible choice for a wet area like the bathroom, laundry or entrance way where durable flooring solutions are needed.
Stone options include Travertine Bluestones, marble and granite.
The finish of the tiled stone is also optional based on the look you want to achieve.
Examples include; honed, leathered, gloss and matte finishes, and the size module and lay is also optional.
Our fire places are generally a focal point of our living areas, how can we incorporate natural stone to add interest and dimension to this area?
The look you are wanting to achieve for your home will help determine the right choice of stone and grouting.
You may want your fireplace to be elegant and formal, clean and simple, contemporary or rustic.
A stone surround will enhance the room creating an eye catching focal point. Book-matched stone, along with a beautiful stone hearth can offer one of the most enchanting results.
Think small rooms need to eschew style? Then think again! Metropol catches up with award-winning Interior Designer Angelique Armstrong from Armstrong Interiors about how to create small rooms with big impact.
How do you make small spaces feel bigger?
When decorating a small room, ‘less is more’.
If furniture and accessories block the view into a room, it will look cramped.
Moving furniture away from walkways will open up the space and make it feel larger. Use a few large, simple pieces of furniture or accessories in place of several smaller pieces, which make a space look cluttered.
With open space and large blocks of colour, the room will appear to be more calm and comfortable.
Positioning a large mirror opposite a window will bring the outside in and create depth, while hanging a mirror opposite a doorway will give the illusion of space.
What are the best ways to add colour and flair to the WC or powder room?
Adding colour and texture helps bring the space to life.
Create interest by adding wallpaper, mirrors and feature lighting.
If your bathroom boasts a mostly neutral design with a white vanity, an accent wall behind your vanity and mirror will create visual interest.
Whatever your home’s interior theme is, it is important to have the same continuous design flow with the rest of the house.
What are the golden rules with wallpaper patterns in small rooms?
Nowadays the singular feature wall is just not quite enough and it is popular to wallpaper an entire room.
I prefer two walls if need be; it’s less predictable.
Wallpaper can be very effective in a small space; adding interest by creating a beautiful focal point, creating depth in a room with short walls and making low ceilings look taller.
Wallpaper has the ability to be the hero of the room or subtlety to pull everything together. I like to incorporate colour, depth and texture.
How can you add storage to a small room?
Furniture is a clever way to create more storage.
Look out for coffee tables and consoles with drawers and cupboard space, while a customised wall unit will help clear excess clutter from your useful surfaces and tables.
In the bedroom, invest in bedside cabinets with drawers or ottomans with storage, beds with drawers underneath are handy or you can utilise storage boxes.
Metropol catches up with award-winning interior designer Angelique Armstrong about supporting local and plans for Armstrong Interiors moving forward.
The vibe in the studio is buoyant and positive.
“I get so much joy from being surrounded by our inspiring Work Room environment; the colours and textures, my staff and wonderful clients,” Angelique says.
The team at Armstrong Interiors are looking ahead with enthusiasm.
Although working from home had its challenges during lockdown, it gave them an even stronger desire to get back to work, because that is what they love doing – being together, and creating beautiful spaces.
Angelique has long been a supporter of ‘buy local’ and loves the phrase ‘back your backyard’.
“Going forward I have no hesitation on continuing to support our local manufacturers and fabricators. We have beautiful New Zealand designed products in all aspects of design and manufacturing. I encourage you to think twice and make a conscious decision when shopping. When you buy New Zealand products, you not only buy quality, you are supporting a local business.
“Armstrong Interiors is boutique in size, which allows us to really get to know each and every client. Working closely to my clients’ briefs; I present mood boards, floor plans, product boards, and source furniture, art, rugs, wallpaper, lighting and accessories options. Our in-house CAD designer creates 3D images of kitchens, bathrooms and joinery. She creates plans for you to review throughout the design process, which will then allow you to see the end result.”
Armstrong Interiors proudly offers a bespoke design service.
This means you can select the size, material and colour of your choice, to best reflect your style and space.
Angelique’s passion for design and a love of all elements related to interior design, art, furniture design, product design and textile design enables her to create exclusive items.
“I love to create beautiful unique pieces in collaboration with our clients.”
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Metropol catches up with award-winning interior designer Angelique Armstrong about how to maximise the potential in your investment through renovating.
When you delve into the reasons why we renovate, it’s about finally getting the opportunity to have our homes align with how we want to live, Angelique explains.
“When you look at the reasons to renovate, it is very clear.
When we sign up to sell our houses, we have advertising fees, auction costs, selling costs and then moving costs… this all adds up, so why not stay where you are and put that extra $20-$30,000 into your own pocket and renovate?”
When it comes to renovating, the world really is your oyster. “A new kitchen, bathroom, paint; wallpaper, lighting, adding a room – anything is possible.”
So what is this style maven seeing coming through in interiors in 2020?
“Our homes are getting a more international feel with lighting available in beautiful finishes like steels, coppers and gold,” Angelique says.
“There’s also beautiful new stones in colours we haven’t seen in New Zealand before and from all over the world, such as greens, greys and taupes.
“If you are looking at Pinterest and at all the designs and the new products available, it becomes very exciting.”
There’s plenty of product options and at both ends of the pricing spectrum, so there really is something for everyone when it comes to renovating.
“International brands and also our lower end suppliers are bringing out products that are exciting when you’re looking at upgrading and renovating,” she says.
“It’s so exciting to see the stunning new products coming in from suppliers.
Angelique is currently working on two large renovations and we are looking forward to profiling these projects in the 5 March issue of Metropol.
“Over the next couple of issues of Metropol I am going to be touching on renovation work; how to make your renovations easier and how to ‘do it once and do it right’.”
Phone 03 356 2636 or check them out on Instagram armstronginteriorsltd.
With our busy schedules, it is often diﬃcult to ﬁnd the time and energy to put towards our living spaces.
Award-winning interior designer Angelique Armstrong from Armstrong Interiors says there are several simple yet effective ways to enhance your existing space and it’s not as hard as you may think.
“Decluttering the house is the best way to start home enhancement,” she says. “Old paperwork, socks with holes, restaurant menus, school paperwork and outdated magazines are just a few things that can go into the bin.
“Focus on areas in your home that need to ﬂow; passageways, around furniture, doors and windows.”
Enabling these spaces to ‘breathe’ creates what Angelique likes to call ‘energy flow’ within your interiors. “It’s not everyone’s terminology, but it’s one that for me is important for people to understand.”
Angelique’s pro tip: Set a timer for one hour. Choose one space to clear. Soon you will ﬁnd yourself in a clear and open environment with the space for new ideas to ﬂourish.
For Angelique, visualising the space and planning how it will function is the most exciting part of the design. “When I walk into a room, I look for areas that will enhance the space. Which wall best suits the position of your TV? Where is the furniture layout best sitting? Do you have enough wall space? Too many windows and doors? Which wall best suits the bed to sit on?
“Your home must function as your family needs it to.”
When it comes to form, timber is warm to walk on and very rarely requires underfloor heating. “One thing that is very popular in Europe is multi-widths of flooring boards randomly laid. I love this look, especially with a natural oak ﬁnish and I prefer to have all my boards oiled naturally.
“Forêt is my preferred supplier for timber flooring and Director Alan Stuck’s family history of timber knowledge has put this company’s designs on the world stage. His use of reclaimed timber and getting back to the ‘real deal’ with flooring designs sets him apart.”
There is a wide selection of carpets available and she’s seeing a move away from dark colours and back into neutrals, particularly soft greys and caramels/beiges. “They’re all very natural and fit well with our climate and interior pallets. Our carpet manufactures are always up with the latest colours and trends to keep designers and homeowners happy.”
With hot days and balmy nights ahead, there’s no better time to update your outdoor living area. We chat to interior designer Angelique Armstrong about outdoor living design.
With daylight savings now making our evenings warmer and brighter, what should we consider for our outdoor living spaces?
Indoor-outdoor flow is one thing Kiwis love about our summers. Gone are the days where the architects put kitchens on the south side of the house. Now our kitchens are at the forefront of living spaces, so consider maximising flow and space and extending this idea outside. Set this up like you would inside, and consider situating the barbecue in good proximity to family and guests you are cooking for as well as whether there is appropriate shelter from the wind and sun.
When choosing outdoor furniture and accessories, do we need to match the colour palette that we have in our interiors or is this a good place to add more colour?
When choosing outdoor furniture, it is good to continue the feel of the design theme you have within the rest of your home. However, a nice way to add colour is with cushion scarabs and scatter cushions, bean bags and accessories like an outdoor dining set or placemats. These can be changed yearly for a different aesthetic if desired.
What are your tips for creating an outdoor kitchen/barbecue area?
At Armstrong Interiors we have experience with designing outdoor barbecue areas. Using UV-based materials and hardwearing options for extreme weather elements is a must. Outdoor kitchen taps and sinks all need to be of marine quality. Fireplaces also complement and tie in the materials, scales and proportions for an overall timeless design.
What are some exterior must-haves for summer?
It is more and more popular to have an outdoor seating/lounge area. I recommend either a modular sofa with side tables and a centre table, or two outdoor sofas of the same size and a couple of matching chairs and perhaps an outdoor rug. The idea is to treat this like an outdoor room – keep the space intimate and not too spread out. Have some big blankets on-hand ready to wrap around yourself when the nights become a bit cooler in temperature.
Spring is the season of transformation when it comes to our humble abode. But according to award-winning interior designer Angelique Armstrong from Armstrong Interiors, this season is about so much more than the archetypal spring clean.
With spring finally here, what does this mean from an interior design perspective?
Consider your family – how do they want to live, what makes them feel good, what do they need to improve about their living space and minds? The arrival of spring brings freshness, fragrance and finally opening the doors to let the sunshine in. So a nice way to freshen up your home is to have a good tidy up of things you have accumulated during winter. It’s a chance to simplify your bench tops and re-style your furniture layout. Your interiors have the power to change your mood.
After winter’s heavy throws and blankets, how do we style beds for spring?
This is a nice time to take the darker, moody, warm tones away and replace them with soft greys and whites. We still need warmth, so maybe change things up with a lighter throw on the end of the bed and new cushions. Try sleeping in linen sheets; this will be lovely change.
With the end of the year fast approaching, when is the best time to get started on home projects?
Spring is always a busy time, coming into the silly season, with Labour Weekend and Show Week just around the corner. Easy yet effective changes include adding cushions, painting a room (a cost-effective way to get a fabulous new feel), changing accessories or new curtains to instantly change the feel.
We have been spoilt with choice of colours over the winter with mustards, oranges and dark greens. What colour trends are we looking at for spring?
I have just painted and restyled my own bedroom for spring. I used Resene Quarter Rice Cake. This is a creamy white; warm and fresh. Great for villas or for someone looking for more than just white. I have accessorised with a soft floral pot plant, new cushions on my bed in Liberty Florian, with piped edge and backing in velvet, and very soft dove grey linen duvet and white sheets. Feminine colour tones and patterns. This summer, florals are in and I was in the mood for ‘soft and pretty’.