Creating a living space that’s elegant, comfortable and intelligently designed is a priority for every smart-thinking chap. Even so, it’s easier said than done. Short-term thinking, faddish aesthetics and the temptation to cut corners has hampered many an ambitious design project over the years. Enter Echlin. A fellow Walpole alum, the architectural design and development studio is committed to bringing an uncompromising, holistic approach to its field.
At Echlin’s core is the philosophy that good design champions local craftspeople and materials, and prioritises the wellbeing of its inhabitants. Consequently, the studio’s spaces are timelessly elegant, purposeful and designed with integrity to the fore. Sam McNally, Co-Founder & Design Director, explains how you can build a house for the future, too.
If it’ll date, don’t do it
Timelessness has to be the first consideration in creating a future-proof home. ‘This means choosing furniture, colours and materials that have true ingrained longevity, that are relevant to the property in question and don’t necessarily subscribe to the latest trends,’ says McNally. ‘It’s important to have the things you love, but there should be some authenticity in the design. This could be having a few antique pieces in a Victorian home, or doing some research on the local area if you’re moving in to new build.’
The wider the variety of design references in your home, the longer it will feel fresh, according to McNally. ‘As tempting as it can be, try to source furniture and materials from a few different shops or suppliers. If you start with an interior that has pieces from different eras and places, it won’t all look out of date or need replacing at the same time.’ Plus, it means you can update or change pieces over time without compromising your chosen aesthetic.
Open plan isn’t always the right answer
The design trend that has seen interior walls come down all over the country isn’t necessarily the best option for a house that will last. ‘There’s a lot of evidence that those early adopters [of open plan] have now put them back in,’ says McNally. According the design director, they favour instead a ‘broken plan’, where areas of the home are divided into zones. ‘This means splitting areas with partitions that can be opened and closed and level changes rather than creating single open spaces, which can sometimes feel smaller.’
Try not to depend on tech
Technology dates. Fast. ‘There is nothing worse than going into a house renovated only a few years ago and seeing all of the tech provisions are out of date,’ McNally explains. And there’s no way around it, apart from planning carefully what you include in your home. ‘Try to think strategically about innovations that are useful but not completely reliant on spare parts that are no longer manufactured, or companies long out of business,’ McNally advises. ‘Put multiple speakers, audio and data points in, in case you want to change the layout in the future.’
Maximise your storage potential
Good storage is essential in any house, whether it’s for one person or five. Maximising the storage available is a must-do to truly future proof a home. ‘If there’s plenty of space to store everything, you can carefully curate the pieces of art and furniture you have on display, allowing you to swap things over if you get bored,’ recommends McNally. ‘You will also have plenty of space if your lifestyle changes.’
Choose your materials wisely
According to McNally, there are two schools of thought when it comes to selecting materials for your home. ‘You’re either someone who likes “character” – meaning that choosing traditional materials like wood and stone is a smart move – because any scratches or marks add to the building’s patina,’ he says. Alternatively, you’re someone who prefers a slick finish, which means you can take advantage of new ‘amazing materials that will stay pristine even after years of use.’