Pairing commercial and residential interior design ideas

Aug 22, 2016 | Anoushka's Blog, Interior design and decoration

Often the role of an interior designer is about creating something unique.  Moving away from simple colour and texture selection to creating a “build environment” that defies the rules but still works.

This is why a designer will often work hand in hand with an architect to really define a space… exemplifying the essence of the design idea, it’s spirit.

So we have to use tricks and inspiration to get ideas to work: pairing materials that typically don’t go together; or commissioning bespoke interior pieces; or taking a stimulus from design on a different scale… such as commercial design.

No… I’m not talking vertical blinds and breakout areas and I’m not pretending to be a commercial designer.  I’m wholeheartedly residential and proud!  But, of course, my inspiration comes from all areas of the design world.

Commercial design is tricky, especially because a space must be efficient and cost-effective, but also unique and engaging.  And of course materials when bought in commercial quantities can be very cost effective as opposed to residential quantities.   However, in that there’s an opportunity to be different!

Whereas in our homes we can be more singular and taste driven.  Commercial spaces must evolve more quickly than residential, adapting interiors to reflect current tastes of a business’s consumers, visitors, and employees.

Fortunately, some modern trends are congruent across both sectors…

Like the deep tones that reflect the inherent beauty of nature, with deep cooling grey and neutral tones that are the flavour of the year. Such as charcoals and greys tinged with greens, and combined with ivory, stone, and taupe for balance.  Commercial designers will also introduce a few splashes of colour if the overall design appears a bit reserved, however the space needs to be able to cope with it.

Which leads us to geometric patterns.  Whilst currently in vogue in small-scale designs, commercial spaces are now just embracing geometric patterns, although at a larger more dramatic scale.  These striking designs help create a true design statement that expresses personality and makes a lasting impression.

Geometric carpet tiles in an office space

Geometric carpet tiles in an office space

Ergonomic yet stunning furniture is also a consideration, although in residential design this is more limited to specific areas of a property (like a home office) or room (like a reading nook).   Commercial design is moving away from cost as a primary factor influencing decisions to purchase furniture; however, the ergonomic design and comfort needs to trump form and function. Commercial furniture is also incorporating more durable materials like rustic woods, metal finishes, and tempered glass.

Industrial Aesthetic Office Space in Empire State Building

Industrial Aesthetic Office Space in Empire State Building

Deep tones, geometric patterns, and ergonomic but stunning furniture can lead to “Quirky Combinations” … but that’s sort of the point.  Designers are moving away from obvious formulaic themes and instead including a variety of unexpected quirky touches to make each space unique.  Such as, but not limited to the rise of non-matching floor tiles, which, though it may sound bizarre, can look great if applied in the right way.

Just like small spaces in residential design, businesses are constantly looking at dual-purpose designs.  This is usually a budget consideration, whereas in residential it’s about making the best use of space.  And I feel this is residential design giving back economic and space ingenuity to our commercial counterparts, with multipurpose rooms and furniture.  Think study nooks, reading areas, multipurpose bedrooms, rumpus areas etc.

Flexible office design

Flexible office design

Whist residential is leading the multipurpose race, commercial is certainly leading environmentally; mainly due to government requirements and increasing pressure to meet social obligations.  But green walls, water recycling, motion lighting, and photovoltaic glass with next generation of solar cells incorporated directly into the window surface are becoming common.  And I feel it’s not going to be long before the current environmental niche will be much more mainstream in residential.

An Eco Office

An Eco Office

The next time you’re in offices or walking past them, take a moment to consider the design.  Really think about the detail and how they are bringing together interesting materials that transcend the colour on the walls but rather make the space feel cohesively prepared and showcased.

And, if you’re lucky enough to live in a city like Sydney, where there’s walking tours of the iconic city buildings on the skyline (the Sydney Biennle) take the opportunity to check them out and find some very different inspiration.


Geometric pattern –

Flexible office space –

Eco office –

Industrial Aesthetic Office Space in Empire State Building –

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