Visualising Spaces With Efreshli

August 31, 2021 by Nazli Kassem

At Sakneen, we strongly believe that a home is more than just a price tag. In our series, Visualising Spaces, we sit with leaders of the design community in Egypt to discuss and gain insight into how they connect with a living space, and what it takes to make a house a home.

For the second instalment in our series, we sat down with Efreshli to understand what it takes to find your own design style and furnish your home. Efreshli are a team of designers, operation professionals, and software engineers who work together to provide easy and affordable furnishing & décor services. Efreshli helps you visualize real furniture by brands you love, making design more accessible & fun. Unlike other full-service design houses, Efreshli's goal is to help you furnish your fully-finished home in a way that best reflects you.

Where does design start? Does it start by buying the furniture or painting the walls?

Design starts with the homeowner: his/ her likes, needs, and lifestyle.  It then moves to a concept where things come together and a composition is created.

What are the main challenges when furnishing a home?

We think it is that most customers want to buy furniture from different places, but they face a challenge in how to put things together. It requires some understanding about materials, fabrics, and design coordination in general. Things also build on each other, and if one thing is changed many other factors need to betaken into account.

Private residence designed by Efreshli.

How can one guarantee harmony in design across the whole house?

There are many factors to work with to ensure harmony in the home. Two of the most important ones are a) having a concept, which governs the materials, colors and forms you use to connect the space and b) paying attention to balance in the space so it flows well and is easy on the eye.

Starting with a concept ensures you capture the style under an umbrella and disregard things that will take away from it. For example, things like: does the customer love natural spaces and neutral colors or do they want bold colors throughout? Do they want a space that is relaxing or one that is filled with bold   exciting   elements?   Once   that   is   thought   through   everything   flows through   the   concept   and   it   is   easier   to   decide   what   elements   to   repeat throughout the space such as color, texture and form to achieve harmony.

Balance is one of the most impactful ways to create harmony in a space because it determines how your eye moves and can create comfort when things flow well. The key is to make sure no space looks much heavier than another and take the special elements into account.  Nothing too tall next to something too short, don't over-decorate one side and leave the other one completely empty its like using rhythm throughout the space.

Private residence designed by Efreshli.

Best places to look for design inspiration.

Nature and travel are great sources of inspiration, as you see the interactions and harmony of objects and colors in real life. I also think looking to your direct environment and having a sense of place is source of inspiration. So forEgypt, inspiration is local craftsmanship and products native to our country.We love incorporating elements of our own local environment such as kilim, hand painted tiles, and local art.  We think the best-designed places always have a sense of place and reflect their direct environment.

How often should you ‘update’ your home?

We think the home can have continual small updates to feel fresh rather than having to change the whole thing every few years. When you buy things you love, rather than things that are on sale or just trendy, you want to live with them for a long time. This is especially true for large furniture pieces, it's important to make sure they are timeless and hardwearing. If you buy a solid wood dining table you love for example you are likely to keep it for a longtime, and you might even fall in love with it more as it ages. Then you can update the small things like the cushions, accessories, as you go and as you naturally collect things that become part of your life story.

Private residence designed by Efreshli.

Design tips that will last a lifetime? How can you keep your house looking fresh and timeless despite changing trends?

The easiest way to get a “timeless” home is to start with a neutral foundation.We have a preference for light and natural materials like natural wood, natural marble, fabrics, with light to medium neutral colors. Make sure it is functional and is not just “pretty” and think about how things need to work for you. For example, if you have kids and want to be comfortable and casual with your sofa, don’t get it white and untreated. If you use a coffee table a lot, choose one that is solid wood or a hardwearing material that does not stain easily.

Private residence designed by Efreshli.

Design trends that are here to stay?

Designs that make you feel cozy and give you a sense of escape are here to stay. That’s why nature is always trending. Earth tones, organic shapes and plants speak to our need for escape and get in touch with nature.

Sustainable design with its imperfect finishes is here to stay. There is still a lot of potential for it to reach its real trajectory in Egypt, and we only see it growing as the world looks to ways to be gentler on our environment.

As the world gets more and more commercial people are looking for unique and meaningful stories to tell. That's why unique compositions of art, one-off vintage pieces, items collected during travel are becoming more and more important parts of peoples homes.

Design trends that are on their way out?

We think that pure modern spaces are becoming less common as people are looking for warmer and cozier spaces to spend their time. Traditional Boho is getting a bit tired and people are looking for Boho with a twist, so traditional macramés need to find new interpretations.

Private residence designed by Efreshli.

Can the right furniture make a room look/ feel bigger?

Yes, of course! This is one of the most important value-adds of good design. Choosing the furniture for the space can make all the difference in how big the space feels. Here are some important things to keep in mind when designing a small space:

  • Fewer and larger pieces that pull the space will make the space feel more spacious that many different items. For example opt for a slim L shape rather than multiple seating pieces. Keep the furniture off the floor to give the illusion of more space, so small spaces greatly benefit from a sofa with legs or a TV unit that is wall mounted. When you see the floor, the space automatically feels bigger.
  • Add pieces that go all the way to ceiling (like bookcases and cabinets) to lead the eye up and fake the appearance of a taller space.
  • A very common tool is to use mirrors to literally give the illusion of more space and spread light around the room.

What can you DIY and what must be bought? Ready made vs. custom furniture.

All pieces of furniture can either be customized or bought ready-made, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. Egypt has an abundance of small independent workers ready to take your photo off Pinterest and make it for you as you please. These are our learnings about custom vs. ready made.

  • While  custom made furniture gives you the option to get exactly what you want, it requires a lot more time and attention on your part   to   understand   the   exact   dimensions   of   the   piece   and   the materials   that   will   be   used.  Surprises arise in all sorts of unexpected places. A dimension you may not have paid attention to when giving it to someone to customize might all of a sudden become a real issue and make the piece look awkward. That said, if   you   will   customize do it for simple furniture  (e.g.   shelves, simple straight lined tables) but beware of customizing sofas for example – many things can go wrong there.
  • Now   for   ready-made   furniture,   while   it   may   be   more expensive, brands go   through   an   extensive   process   of   drawings   and prototypes to make sure the piece comes out exactly for the photo and that is part of what you are paying for. You can sometimes seethe product in real life before buying so have a clearer idea of what you are getting.
Private residence designed by Efreshli.

What in your opinion makes a house a home?

The more a house looks like it was layered over time the more it feels like a home. To feel like home is to feel comfortable in the space you live in. There are some elements to help you make your house more of a home such warm lighting, carpets and rugs, as well as wall decorations, like a framed photo or paintings, is a great way to bring in some personalization into your home.