Love Patterns? Try This Design Trick to Pull Any Room Together
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Love Patterns? Try This Design Trick to Pull Any Room Together

Decorating experts achieve cohesion by repeating a pattern—say, on the wallpaper and then on a chair cushion. But how much repetition is too much or not enough? Interior designers share their secrets.

By KATE MORGAN
Mon, Oct 2, 2023 12:12pmGrey Clock 2 min

THE HUMAN BRAIN loves a good pattern. Evolutionarily speaking, we’re hard-wired to recognize repetitive shapes. They organize the world around us. From a design standpoint, patterns can also help our homes feel harmonic. Applying the same one to multiple elements in a room pulls your décor together. We asked design pros for some tips on nailing the technique.

The Appeal

The right motif in the right places brings order and structure to an interior scheme, said Barrie Benson. In the library of one Charlotte, N.C., home, the local designer used a tartan print in small doses as roman shades and the upholstery of a settee. “There was a lot going on—textures and patterns, books, oriental rugs. The plaid worked because it added straight lines and a kind of framework,” she said.

A bolder repetition of pattern across multiple surfaces can engender a sense of snugness. Elizabeth Hay, a designer who splits her time between Singapore and the U.K., clad the walls and a big sofa in a TV room in the same motif. “It creates an enveloping, cozy feel,” she said.

The Tips

Such pattern echoes work best when deployed in understated ways—on just seat covers and window shades, say—or taken intentionally over-the-top, explained Benson. “One more place would have been too much—unless I did the entire room in plaid,” she said of her limited use of tartan in the library. “You do it completely, or you pick two places.” Treatments that occupy the middle ground tend to look cloyingly matchy-matchy.

But beware: Heavy-handed repetition can skew old-fashioned if the pattern is too fussy or traditional, says Hay. “You used to see rooms with chintz on everything—the walls, the curtains, the bed, the bed skirt—with lots of ruffles and gathers,” she said. “That can feel a bit claustrophobic.”

“What works very well is what we call in French ‘décalé,’” said Paris designer Laura Gonzalez by way of pattern guidance. The translation: offbeat, like the unusual boho geometric she chose for the wall and sofa shown in the photo below.

The Caveats

Patterns are often available as both wallpaper and fabric, but the two renderings are likely printed at different mills, warned Benson. “Make sure you’re getting samples, because often the colors are a little off. They should be very, very close.”

Just as the brain is built for pattern recognition, it instantly detects disruptions. Take care with seaming and matching. The smallest offset can spoil allover patterning. “When you match the lines perfectly, it can look like a sofa is growing from the wall,” Gonzalez said. “There is an infinity illusion,” which can make even a tiny room seem much bigger.

While liberal use of bold patterns calls for courage, Hay cautions against the wishy-washy accent wall. “Your room will feel much busier with just one patterned wall, because it’s not balanced,” she said. If you paper the whole room and carry the pattern to the headboard or the curtains, “it’ll actually be softer on the eye.”



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How Much House Can I Afford?

Expert tips for prospective buyers looking to purchase a home in 2024.

By Josh Bozin
Fri, Apr 12, 2024 3 min

For aspiring homeowners, be it a first-time buyer, downsizer, or investor, picturing your idea of homeownership bliss is the easy part. But before deliberating on furniture choices or scouting for that perfect neighbourhood coffee, understanding your purchasing power stands out as the most important step in ensuring your success in homeownership.

And with the Australian property market gaining momentum in 2024, there’s never been a better time to come to grips with your financial options.

In 2023, amid the changing financial landscape that saw rising interest rates and the cost of living skyrocket, among other factors, the total amount borrowed for property purchases across Australia was estimated at $300.9 billion, a 12.7 percent decrease from the previous year, according to PEXA’s latest Mortgage Insights Report.

Each mainland state also experienced a decline in new lending, according to the report, with Victoria and New South Wales seeing the biggest drops to $84.1 billion and $109.5 billion, respectively.

While this trend reflects the repercussions of such financial hardships on the everyday Australian, John Morello, director and auctioneer at Jellis Craig, said we’re seeing renewed confidence in the property market during the first quarter of 2024, particularly in Melbourne.

“Auction clearance rates have started the year strongly and consumer sentiment is rising. This lift is driven by cooling inflation and an improved outlook on interest rates. At Jellis Craig, as with the rest of the market, we are experiencing an increase in volume of property compared to the same period in March last year (up 28% in 2024),” Mr Morello said.

“Melbourne’s property market, in particular, is showing its ongoing evolution and resilience.”

PEXA’s report revealed that, while borrowing saw a decrease in 2023 in Australia, Australians still invested $613.0 billion in property purchases in 2023. In 2024, purchasing confidence is only going up, as prospective first home buyers, seasoned downsizers, and savvy investors look to capitalise on a flood of new property hitting the market, coupled with the lowering of interest rates across the board.

“With more certainty in the economic outlook, along with an increase in volume of property available, we are seeing these factors translate to early signs of a boost in confidence in both buyers and sellers,” said Mr Morello.

“Further encouraging data shows that whilst there is more property available to purchase, more people are inspecting property, again indicating that demand has increased broadly across our marketplace.”

If you’re in the market for a new property, the biggest question you must ask yourself is how much house can I afford?

A great starting place is to speak with your mortgage broker or financial professional, who can guide you on your lending options. This is critical, as you need to know what your future repayment options might look like, and ultimately, what you will typically be able to afford.

A useful tool for judging whether you can afford a specific property is to factor in the 28/36 rule — a rough guide that suggests you should not spend more than 28 percent of your gross monthly income on housing, and no more than 36 percent on all debts. Another useful tool is the idea of a debt-to-income ratio (DTI); a formula whereby an individual can divide all of their monthly debt payments by gross monthly income to arrive at a number that one can measure as a way of managing monthly mortgage payments.

Mr Morello emphasised the need to understand affordability and what’s feasible for each individual when looking to make a purchase, no matter the budget, on a property in 2024.

“It’s pivotal to work out what you can afford. Get your finances in order. Consider all associated costs with buying, and research what concessions and grants are available,” said Mr Morello.

“It’s easy for individuals to begin the process today. Start actively searching potential properties on a weekly basis, and research areas you are interested in. Check weekly sales results, attend inspections and auctions, to get a feel for the process. Just remember, it’s important to be really comfortable in understanding your living expenses, and what the ongoing expenses will be once you have bought a property.

“For example, mortgage repayments, council rates, water, power, owners corp fees, insurances, maintenance costs; if you are buying as an investment, the Land Tax payable on that property which is an ongoing tax. There’s many factors to consider.”

To see what’s possible for your specific circumstances, visit our Finance Portal for specific tools, guides and tips—as well as our own mortgage calculator—to assist you on your property journey.

 

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Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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