Top 5 DIY interior design mistakes.

Your home is a reflection of you. It is one of the few spaces that you have for yourself and can therefore be made into reflection of who you truly are. With this in mind, it is important that a lot of thought goes into how the spaces in your home should look and make you feel. Your home is where you may be spending most of your time and it is where you ‘come home’ at the end of a day, so it has to be a space you really love. Bringing a bit of personality into the design of your home is guaranteed to improve the feel of the space. Yet what stays out of your space is as important as what goes into your space. This project might seem like a daunting task, so we’ve noted down a few key interior design mistakes you should be aware of while designing your dream interiors.

5 key things you should keep in mind throughout the process of designing your home interior.


Gaasterlandstraat, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Designed by AKKA Architects

1. Thinking Everything Has to Match

While making selections for your interiors, you may think that getting matching sets of furniture, matching your upholstery and colour coordinated fixtures and paints is the best way forward. This would end up making your house less vibrant, monotonous and similar to every other house you may have seen. Choose focal elements that stand out, and opt for unique mixes and matches of furniture without over doing it. This will help you achieve a more unique space which demonstrates your personal taste, rather than it looking like something out of a showroom.

2. Overdoing Design Trends

You might find lots of articles in magazines and posts online about the latest design trends of the year. While it is beneficial to use them as a reference point for your space, make sure you refer to them only as a starting point, and not as a complete guide. Whilst designing your home, make sure you fill it with pieces that you authentically enjoy, instead of what has been dictated somewhere else. This will ensure that your space is your own, a place that you love, and a space that you feel connected to. In order to make your space feel personal, opt for interior choices based on your specific likes and your personal aesthetics, rather than based on a trend in a magazine or social media. See our article Interior design styles for your home for some initial inspiration!

3. Using Dark furniture in small spaces

Having the appropriate furniture in your space is one of the most important things to consider. This aspect has the ability to make or break your space as the furniture influences how you will perceive it. In smaller spaces, opt for light coloured simple furniture, as darker furniture can make your space appear even smaller. Scale and proportion of the elements in your space always matter. Heavy and bulky furniture could make your area seem quite overcrowded and cramped, therefore opt for lighter fabrics and finishes instead.  Utilising a lighter colour palette, with even a focal wall or element of a bright colour, will tie your room in well and make the space seem more open and spacious than it actually is.

4. Lack of colour

A common mistake which is similar to the error of matching everything in your home is having everything in neutral non-colours. Before painting your walls, decide on your flooring, the counter finishes, and larger furniture that you want for your space. These elements take up maximum visual importance. Once this is done then decide on the wall paint colour that you feel is best suited for your space, with the elements you have already chosen in mind. You should experiment with a variety of colours, or even look at having a few accent elements or focal walls in a different or brighter colour that would tie the whole space together. This will help tie the overall design together, reinforce the colour scheme, and give the room more texture and personality. A home that is devoid of colour can feel cold and uninviting, so try to experiment with colour, patterns, or wall murals as accent elements that will add interest and colour to your space.

5. Having outlets and cords as an afterthought

Having electrical cords and wires in your house may be unavoidable, but there are ways of efficiently dealing with this. If you do not have the option of running them inside the wall, there are ways to disguise any exposed wires you might have throughout your home. For example you could paint them the same colour as your wall to make them less noticeable or opt for small fixtures with built in charging stations. Nowadays there are even cord covers available in a variety of colours on which can be used to effectively disguise cords and cables that run throughout your house.

Apart from the structural changes you have to consider while designing your space, these are a few of the tips to remember while decorating your space. Consider your home as a space close to your heart, for in some ways it is the core of your everyday being. Creating a coherent design may seem difficult at first as there are many mistakes you could potentially make and end up regretting. Mistakes include choosing the wrong paint colours, picking the wrong furniture, not incorporating enough lighting and choosing wrong proportions just to name a few. These can all be avoided by carefully selecting each element for your space, always opting for timeless, durable and convenient design.

When designing your interior, recall the saying ‘Home is where the heart is’, choose elements that appeal to you instead of going for what may be ‘in’ at that point of time. Trends come and go and they may very well not be what might be apt for you. Therefore we recommend referring to a lot of images but to always choose what describes you best. Don’t be afraid to add your personal touch to the space and let your character show through. It is important to remember that these types of choices do have easy fix solutions if you face an obstacle or don’t like what you have done so far. If all else fails, you can always turn to an expert. Hiring a professional interior designer who has experience and knows what they are doing could significantly help you to achieve your dream home, only make sure they keep your likes and interests as a top priority, and not dictate their own on you.

If you are considering an interior makeover for your home, and need help with the design, or you simply need a second opinion, get in touch with us! We would be happy to help with any questions you may have.

Key things to keep in mind while renovating your kitchen space.

Due to the simple fact that building or renovating a house gets more expensive over time, functional spaces, kitchens especially, have started to follow the ‘maximising utility with minimum space’ concept. If you are constructing or renovating your new home and find yourself fighting for space, a modular kitchen might be your best bet. The furnishing you choose for your kitchen plays a very important role, its design is essential for creating an uncluttered, spacious and functional home. There are lots of models out on the market for modular kitchens currently, but if you are looking to create your dream kitchen, you need to be able to decide on the perfect one for you.

Apart from opting for kitchen furnishing that is resistant to wear and tear there are more factors you might not have considered.

Read on to find out what makes a kitchen perfectly suited to modern working homes.


Deltastraat, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Designed by AKKA Architects

1. Storage

The first and foremost thing to keep in mind whilst constructing your dream kitchen is to maximise storage and accessibility. All your utensils and equipment should be within reach and yet all your workspaces should be uncluttered. Designing a kitchen with efficient storage solutions will give you maximum use of every space possible. In particular try to utilise the space above your countertops, these improve your kitchens’ storage capacity, ensuring you have enough space to use the kitchen freely and with ease. There is a wide variety of fixtures you could go for to achieve this, including drawers, shelves, wall mounted units and base units. You could even add a blend of open and closed cabinets, shelves, and drawers. Another potential option is to install ceiling mounted racks, these could be used to hang herbs, flowerpots, or other utensils.

2. Aesthetics and customisation

When choosing the storage options for your kitchen, opt for sleek and functional designs that maximise every bit of space available in your kitchen. Making this a priority will result in a properly functional kitchen in which there is a room for everything, without making it look overcrowded or cluttered. The range of options available on the market is huge, with modular storage available in a wide variety of themes, shapes, sizes and colours. Opting for a modular kitchen would give you freedom to customize your design whilst not compromising on durability. It is as important that your kitchen’s design suits you as it is that it is functional.


Smitstraat, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Designed by AKKA Architects

3. Convenience

For many people, the kitchen is the space where they could be spending a lot of their time at home. This is why convenience is a primary factor that needs to be considered while designing your kitchen. It should be constructed specifically to be able to adapt to any needs you might have for your space. Modular kitchens could very well be your go-to as they offer sleek and convenient solutions to maximise your space, especially in this day and age where space is often lacking. Their excellent storage options make them a very smart choice when it comes to convenience and organisation. Modular kitchens provide more than enough storage capacity for items like cooking utensils, cutlery, and containers. Avoiding clutter around your kitchen makes surfaces considerably easier to clean on a daily basis. Sleek clear surfaces are not only aesthetically appealing but also offer more comfortable maintenance. Opting for a modular kitchen could help you save time, money, and effort whilst also providing comfort and, of course, style. 

4. Ease of installation

Opt for furniture that combines ease with accessibility. Choose that which can be readily adjusted or disassembled and then easily put together again, these features are beneficial in case of maintenance or when wanting to shift things up in your kitchen. Your furniture should be practical in design, the putting together of the components should be doable if and when required. Opt for furniture that unites convenience, usability, storage, and aesthetics.

Finally, when choosing your kitchen components, opt for a mix of different fixtures and units. Wall mounted units work well in smaller kitchens, maximizing the amount of room available as it utilizes vertical spaces. They allow for easy accessibility and visibility. Base units can be used to store heavier kitchen items under your work surfaces, making good use of the leftover spaces as well. You can even opt for pull out cabinets which is especially effective at the corners of your kitchen spaces. These utilise the negative space that otherwise might have been hard to make use of, a perfect space to store jars and such. Make sure that whatever units you opt for, they are made of durable materials. The kitchen after all, is a space where a great deal of the action in the home takes place.

In addition to the benefits mentioned in the article, opting for kitchen designs that reduce clutter will increase the value of your house due to their flexibility and to being cost effective! Choose those which allow you to customize and personalize, are easy to assemble, easy to use, and lets you alter their design as per your requirements. Pre-fabricated modules can be even more beneficial as they often reduce the transport and installation costs. Looking to change up your kitchen or design a new one, why not opt for a flexible modern modular kitchen?

If you are considering renovating your existing kitchen space or planning on building a new kitchen altogether, and you need help to design one or you simply a second opinion, get in touch with us! We would be happy to help with any questions you may have.

Renovating your home: Do you really need to hire an architect?

Whether you plan on renovating a small space in your home or building a new house from scratch, there are a lot of factors to consider when undertaking such a project. One of the first decisions to make is your team; do you need to hire professionals to help you, and if so which ones? Is a contractor enough? Or do you also need an architect? You might have some reservations about hiring an architect, like the cost for example, or worries that the architect’s ideas would clash with your own, designing a space that doesn’t suit you or align with your best interests. These are all valid concerns! On the other hand however, what would the benefits be of hiring an architect and how could you remedy the concerns?

We should first probably acknowledge the elephant in the room. We are architects and as the saying goes, “never ask a hairdresser if you need a haircut!” Having said that, in this article, we do our utmost best to speak objectively and from factual experience.

The pros and cons of renovating with or without an architect. Helping you decide whether you need to hire an architect or if it is best for you to go at it alone.

Do not underestimate the time, money, focus and effort needed to conduct a renovation.

Whether it is one room or an entire house, undertaking a renovation project is not an easy task. If you decide to do it by yourself, make sure you have the time, energy, effort, focus, and of course skills required to complete the project. It is also very important you are prepared for some unexpected complications along the way. You may think you only need to demolish a simple wall but after the first few hits of the sledge hammer, you are faced with a surprise… you just broke through some water pipes! A small mistake like that can end up costing you a lot of extra time and money just to rectify it, at which point you still wouldn’t have come close to your original goals with the project.

Before starting any project, an architect has the ability to check all ‘invisible’ items. In this example, they would check to determine the nature of the wall, the risks, alternative safer options, the requirements for any permit, etc.  Having an architect on board would ensure all these factors are considered, and problems are avoided before they arise.

If you hire a contractor, do you still need an architect?

It is quite common for people to hire a contractor, without an architect. Many contractors would even advise you to proceed without an architect, and whilst that may seem cheaper at the beginning of the project, it doesn’t always end up being cheaper at the end. Of course certain projects can be done without an architect. In our experience, you can only get away with that when the project is a ‘one liner’, i.e. focused on a single task, and when you have the knowledge to supervise the contractors’ work. Contractors tend to work on site directly, without drawings or documents that demonstrate what they will do before they actually do it, thus depriving you from the thinking and decision process. Unfortunately, if something is done either incorrectly or not to your specifications, it can be very costly and time-consuming to undo it. The use of ‘intimidation techniques’ is not entirely uncommon, it can happen that a contractor attempts to convince you that the construction cannot be done any other, cheaper or better way. Working with contractors directly can sometimes be tricky unless you know and trust them. We have previously had clients come to us after having worked with a contractor for months, only to find themselves with more work to do than when they began.

Another potential aspect of working directly with contractors, is the fact that many tend to rely on you to come up with the design and details of the project. Many contractors simply execute what you ask them to do, sometimes without advising if it will work or not. On the contrary, when an architect is on board their first task would be to elevate the design and vision for the space, communicate it with the contractor, and of course supervise their work closely. It is also worth noting that some contractors are more thoughtful with their work when an architect is onboard. Architects expect things to be done a very specific way so they ensure nothing is done too fast or carelessly. Part of their job is to consistent quality assurance, for example confirming the right materials are being used.

While the design might be more practical and straight forward when you go straight for a contractor, it may well lack the creative features and innovative solutions that a professional architect would bring to the table.

Don’t get us wrong, not all contractors are this way. We work with some outstanding contractors that do amazing work. If you do decide to go for a contractor directly, do use the advice above to screen for the best ones!

Deciding whether you need an architect as well as a contractor is highly dependant on the vision and type of project in question.

Architects might come with some added benefits.

Beyond the obvious benefits of hiring an architect, here are a few that you may not have thought of already.

Before you start your project, it is strongly advisable to check for permits requirements and other regulations in your city. This may include compulsory setbacks, land use code, building code, construction methods and materials, timetables and also possibly environmental conditions such as including green-roofs, solar panels…etc. In addition to all these rules and regulations being difficult to locate, once you do find them, they can be difficult to understand if they are overly technical. Of course, an architect would be well aware of these regulations and how to obtain the appropriate permits. This includes helping you with preparing the necessary documents and applying for the required permits. A good architect knows the rules; a great architect would be able to come up with creative solutions that give you what you want whilst respecting these rules. They would also be able to negotiate with the city to get the approvals needed. 

Having an architect who is well-connected to contractors, subcontractors, engineers, and the industry as a whole will also benefit your project significantly. First and foremost, this would enable the architect to swiftly locate the appropriate expertise to assist with your project and provide you with several bids from several contractors. Doing so would allow you to compare several options and select the best quality/price. Discounts are another perk of having a well-connected architect, a well-connected architect could be able to negotiate significant discounts on materials, finishes, and furnishings on your behalf. While not every supplier gives discounts, some do so because the architect is a returning client for them or because they want the architect to be a returning client in the future.

AKKA Client Case Study:

We’ll give you an example of that from our own experience. For a recent client of AKKA, we were able to get a 63% discount on one single order of high-quality Italian furniture for them. This saved the client more than €7750 off the original price. A few days later, we were also able to secure another 58% on another order, saving them another €7000, resulting in a total of €14,750 saved! And this account for only 2 of the discounts we arranged for them. As you can see, a good architect can practically pay for themselves!

Whether you need an architect or not, depends on a few factors. For small renovation tasks, it might be possible to go down the DIY route, or work directly with a contractor. However, for many other types of projects, it is arguably safer and cheaper to hire an architect. This is presuming of course, that you hire the right architect: for this, see our article on How to choose the perfect-fit architect for your project. If you are able to hire a great architect it is a no brainer decision, they pay for themselves many times over by anticipating problems, avoiding mistakes and providing generous discounts!

If you are considering a new project and are looking for an architect, you can check out our website or get in touch with us, we would be happy to schedule a conversation with you and help you with any questions you may have.

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“We would like to express our gratitude for the time you invested in helping us get to a clear picture.  Anna and I really appreciated the call we had with you, your responsiveness, and the great empathy that you exhibited throughout – we certainly felt very “well taken care of” when engaging with you.  On the practical side, we especially appreciated that there was the option to obtain robust bottom-up cost estimates for the construction itself (not every design architect offers this).”

-Private Client of AKKA



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