By Philip Saich
There are few things more personal than the place that you call home, and inevitably that space will to a large degree reflect your specific tastes. While the space clearly needs to be practical in meeting the requirements of day-to-day living, there is always scope for adventure and creativity. As well as boosting self-esteem and delivering satisfaction, adding an element of wow factor to your home can also enhance its value. But what is wow factor, how is it created and why is it so important?
Aim for new heights
The most indulgent homes invariably feature two key elements: a sense of space and a feeling of simplicity. Standard ceilings, for example, are set at 2.4 metres, but a room with wow factor will offer greater height, in some cases up to 3 metres. Consider the effect of walking around a stately home – the chances are that the ceilings will be considerably higher than the regulation 2.4 metres. It’s not always possible to increase the ceiling height of your home, but there’s no doubt that it helps to create a wow factor, as long as it’s in proportion with the overall property. And if it isn’t possible or appropriate to raise the ceiling, consider generating a perception of height by dropping the floor level or adding a mezzanine floor or balcony area. This is especially relevant if a creative layout will help you configure the space to take advantage of a spectacular view or a distinctive feature. All in all, an authentic wow factor is built on the visual experience of the space.
Simplicity is key
It could be argued that simplicity is easier to achieve. The most striking homes are clutter free and major on a small number of large accessories and signature furniture items. Removing unnecessary clutter by adding clever storage solutions and introducing clean lines will help to create a feeling of effortless elegance. "Wow" factor houses are also invariably low maintenance and easy to keep clean and tidy. Limiting the décor to a muted colour scheme with one bold accent colour can create impact, as can interesting textures, while carefully chosen high-quality furnishings will help to enhance the space. Additional wow factor can also be derived from freestanding furniture – allowing sofas and chairs to ‘breathe’ generates a feeling of openness and space.
Focus on a standout feature
If the house has a defining attribute, such as an impressive fireplace, consider making this the focal point and theming the layout around it. Leaving construction features such as trusses, beams and brickwork exposed, meanwhile, can also generate wow factor, especially in period properties. Alternatively, if the configuration permits, making a feature of the staircase can really elevate the space beyond the average. Whether it’s spiral or straight, a bespoke staircase crafted from glass, stone, metal or high-quality joinery can make a dramatic statement.
Let the light in
When it comes to accessories, the aim is to inspire and uplift, so don’t be afraid to think large. An imposing mirror, a piece of artwork, a mural or even a tapestry can be breathtaking, especially if they transcend the conventional. Spaces with wow factor tend to have flooring rather than carpet, and bold patterns can be impressive in bringing the design together. Our perception of any internal room is hugely affected by the way that light reflects from the walls, floor and ceiling, so lighting is a key consideration. Creative sources of natural light such as large windows or roof-lights will help to open out the space, as will subtle artificial mood lighting and superior light fittings and shades. And any downstairs space is improved by bringing the inside and outside together, either by continuing the flooring shade or installing bifold doors to make the garden more visible and accessible.
Kelley Malcher of Surrey builders, Refresh Renovations, believes that significant wow factor can be achieved with a relatively modest budget. ‘In our experience, you don’t create a wow factor simply by throwing money at a project,’ says Kelley. ‘In reality, it’s more about having the vision and design flair to visualise the space and introduce simple techniques to enhance it. Our mantra is always to stay minimal, keep it simple and target a feeling of elegance over affluence. Acquiring a large number of expensive accessories will not achieve the result you’re looking for in isolation – it’s a case of starting with a blank canvas, sharing ideas, creating a mood board and planning to configure the space in the best way and then populate it with a few well-chosen items of furniture. We always focus on making the most of the current structure by emphasising signature features such as the fireplace or the staircase, but without losing sight of the fact that the home needs to serves its purpose as a functional living space.’
Get in touch
Surrey builders Refresh Renovations offer design and build services for home renovations and extensions. To discuss your new-build, home extension or renovation project, please get in touch today using the enquiry form listed alongside, or if you would like to submit a more comprehensive enquiry, you can do so on the Get In Touch page.
Check out our past projects for further ideas and inspiration.