Carolyn Burns McCrave on How to Create Successful Spaces at Home
She may have just come off season two of House Rules, but design and style extraordinaire Carolyn Burns McCrave isn’t about to stop telling it how it is just yet. I spoke to this lovely lady about the lessons we can take from the last season of the show, things to keep in mind when renovating plus how to achieve our own winning spaces.
You’ve just come off season 2 of House Rules. What was one common problem you saw across all the teams when it came to renovating?
“The House Rules teams had the same problems as any renovator – just amplified! For me, the hardest thing was watching them having to make snap decisions. Good design often needs to be nurtured and explored, especially when you are a novice, and our teams didn’t have that luxury. Another challenge for our teams was having to think like a Designer and create spaces for someone else – that’s an area of expertise that amateurs don’t have experience in and it was often a real struggle”.
Timing was often a key issue, but it seems to be just as difficult in the real world for renovators. Is careful planning crucial?
“When renovating, careful planning is crucial, but so is patience. It is never worth rushing something to speed up the process. Hold out for what you want, or the tradesman you want; it is always worth it in the end. You’ve got to be in it for the long haul”.
I love me some colour in the home, but it often intimidates people. What’s your best piece of advice when it comes to introducing colour?
“I always say to throw caution to the wind if it can be changed in a weekend. Anything that isn’t permanent like paint, wallpaper, furnishings and accessories are a great way to be bold with colour and pattern. Really go for it and just see what happens – you may be pleasantly surprised (or busy the next weekend…….!)”.
Above: Carolyn’s amazing interior design work. Isn’t it grand?
How do you best link rooms in an open plan home but still keep it looking lively? I saw this as another issue this season on House Rules.
“Rooms in an open plan layout are best linked with colour and style. If you want to make a bold colour statement in one room, introduce it in a smaller scale in the preceding space – just ease it in. Make sure there is a relationship between patterns and textures, in varying degrees and intensity as you move from one area to another. Things shouldn’t be matchy-matchy, but they do need to talk to each other and be cohesive in terms of style and scale”.
Your own portfolio showcases unique rooms with a sense of heart and surprise. How do you inject personality into a home?
“A sense of heart and surprise – oh I love that, thank you! I aim for a curated look that is layered, textured and approachable. Mixing high-end new items with up-cycled and vintage pieces that have a story and patina stops a home from feeling like a showroom. The best way to inject personality is to trust your design eye and only buy what you love. A designer can weave an invisible thread through your pieces that ties everything together – so if you don’t have those skills, engage someone who does and that can interpret your own style for you, just with more confidence!”.
Form and function meeting are important in design. Do you think people often forget about function and how do you mesh the two?
“I always say ‘No amount of pretty will save a bad layout’. Function always comes first in any design. It’s so important to utilise every square centimetre of real estate so that your spaces work for the way you live. Finishes and fixtures can be changed or upgraded down the track but getting your floor plan right is a one off deal when you’re renovating, so give it the attention it deserves. Get the bones right and all else will follow. You can then layer on the ‘fabulous’ to your heart’s content!”.