Creating a truly unique and inspiring home combines good design principles and architecture. But some homes have something more … they contain elements that are evocative, inspiring, and at times even surprising.
What is it that gives a home the wow factor? It’s often the unexpected, the thought-provoking concepts or designs that challenge contemporary design cultures, it’s pushing the boundaries of convention and embracing the freedoms of individuality.
A wow factor element can be a focal point; it can set the mood of the space, whether it’s tranquil, vibrant, whimsical, refined or raucous. Or it can be a single element that steals the show — a soft textured rug, beautiful statuesque art, or an ornate light fitting. Every home needs an element that gives it an undeniable talking point, whether that’s a bold mural that dominates a wall, a stunning tile in a bathroom, a kitchen bench that’s a unique piece of art, or striking external architectural features.
Italian architect Renzo Piano said, “One of the great beauties of architecture is that each time, it’s like life starting over again.” Life is living art and your home is your canvas to create the look you want.
Points to ponder
When choosing your wow factor elements, always opt for quality limited-edition pieces where possible, not those that are mass-produced. Can’t afford the price tag for the piece you want? Consider buying preloved — vintage pieces can be reupholstered, remodelled or revamped to create the look you envision for a fraction of the price tag. Collectables also make wonderful wow factor additions.
As your eyes sweep across the space, your wow factor additions should be placed where you want to add a sense of curiosity, where you’d most likely pause and ponder. When you’re sourcing beautiful objects to inspire and delight, always select something that speaks to you. Whether it’s the subtle whisper of a contrasting texture or a symphony of colour, it can be anything that is unique. The hero of the space does need to stand proudly alone, so when adding your wow factor elements, don’t introduce too many other objects or clutter around it.
Add a pop of colour to a neutral colour palette. It adds visual focal points throughout the room to draw the eye. Or go bold and design your colour palette your way — go graphics, textured wallpaper, or geometric design. A textured painted wall or bright-coloured wall can bring intrigue and drama.
An oversized piece of art conveys its own message; it can bring colour, life and movement to a space and can dictate the mood. Art can evoke an array of emotions; some artworks can be playful or intriguing, have historical context, reflect the colour palette in the space or invite conversation.
Art can also be outdoors — an external mural creates a beautiful statement. A large mirror makes a space appear larger, adds depth and reflects other elements in a room you might not ordinarily see from certain areas. Art is a personal choice and with the right piece, it can transform a space.
Fireplaces in focus
Modern fireplaces cleverly combine architecture and art with the practicalities of heating a space. Suspended, built-in and freestanding fireplaces create sculptural focal points. Some are double-sided with built-in seating so you can watch the flicker of flames while you warm your toes. In a period-style home, a traditional sculpted fireplace or one with Art Deco elements can be a design feature.
Modern suspended fireplaces can be positioned virtually anywhere in the room, their sculpted form creating an artistic element whether indoors or out.
Illuminate in style
Beautiful indoor lighting is an art form. Some light fittings shimmer, creating dancing shadows that interplay with the light, others are art in its purest form, stunning and timeless. Lighting serves several functions. Ambient lighting sets the overall mood of the space and can create the perfect atmosphere for a gathering. Task lighting shines the light on specific things you might need to accomplish at night. Accent lighting is designed to highlight focal points or architectural elements, such as a stunning textural wall. The right lighting, positioned in the right place, can add a sense of drama, depth or beauty at night.
Tiles can become art in bathrooms, providing a backdrop for the other elements in the space. In fact, some unique bathrooms have been designed around a particular tile as a starting point. Ceramic, porcelain, glass, marble, concrete, timber and more — homeowners are spoilt for choice. Bold colours and select feature tiles can really make their mark in the style stakes, creating a distinctive feature. In kitchens, statement splashbacks are taking centre stage — small-format tiles definitely add the wow factor too. On your floors in your bathrooms, dare to defy convention with a splash of bold colour.
Whether it’s a beautiful plush rug, roughhewn timber artwork, or a cool smooth metal exterior panel, a range of textured elements can draw the eye. Texture is how an object feels to the touch, but it’s also how it is perceived.
In design, texture is often seen as having a supporting role, tying the other elements of the room together, but the right textural element can make a room shine. Want to illicit some heartfelt oohs and aahs next time friends pop by? Soft and sumptuous rugs in cut, loop and shag pile can shine in a room. A beautiful Persian rug is soft underfoot. A textured bedhead creates the feeling of comfort and luxury. The smooth feel of a timber benchtop is warm to the touch. Playing with colour allows you to introduce specific accents, but if you choose a neutral colour palette, textural elements offer that contrast.
Whether man-made or derived from nature, choosing the right material for a specific project can certainly add the wow factor. Play with different types of materials — look at how they go together and if they complement each other. Or simply focus on just one material and let it stand out in the space. An oversized piece of marble with a distinctive pattern is a piece of art. In a kitchen, a textured timber benchtop adds warmth and instant appeal to a space.
Supersize doors and windows
Nothing spells luxury and a warm welcome like an oversize door. Whether that’s a front door, a door to an exterior alfresco and entertaining area, or feature interior doors that connect spaces, the right door creates a lasting first impression and can give a home the wow factor.
A large window connects spaces, offering a seamless fusion between indoors and out. Large windows can frame a picturesque country vista or a stunning beachside view, allowing you to watch the waves crashing onto the sandy foreshore from the comfort of your lounge, bedroom or other area.
Stairs as a feature
A staircase by design is to connect two spaces at different heights. While certainly this practical aspect must be met, a staircase can be so much more than that. Architecturally a staircase needs to fulfil certain obligations. It must be structurally sound, but it’s also a way to create sculptural form and create a dynamic centrepiece.
The space under the staircase can be used for a multitude of purposes. Curved staircases are making their mark and can create a beautiful wow factor element in a home.
Taking it outside
A wow factor feature can be something that is indoors or out. A sculpted entryway, the use of unusual, earthy or refined external features can capture the imagination and set the scene for intrigue. It could be a colour scheme, a landscaping element or a piece of outdoor art.
It makes the viewer wonder, what’s in store for me indoors? Design is fluid, it’s ever-changing, it’s uniquely you. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to add your own wow factor elements to
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