In the Spotlight: An In-Depth Look at Modern Design

What is Modern Design? 

In contrast to the actual meaning of the word, modern or modernist design has its feet firmly planted in the evolution of the 20th century. Taking inspiration from movements of the time, modern design is a fuss-free design style that works on clean lines, a minimal aesthetic and function before form. Within this article we are going to take you on a journey through the history of this iconic design style, the influences upon it and the core components that it comprises of today. 

Clean lines and a minimal aesthetic at Coconut

History of Modernist Design

This was a period of large-scale change throughout all facets of life, with people moving away from the traditional ways of looking at the world. This transcended into all walks of life and interior design was no different. Traditional materials like wood, stone and brick became less popular, with new industrial materials like glass, concrete and steel taking precedent.

During this period, Bauhaus was a school of design that was influencing much of the world. It felt that within a space, while form and style are key ingredients to a room, function must outweigh all – if a piece of furniture doesn’t have a clear function there is no need for it. These principles were then adopted by popular design styles, such as Scandi, minimalist and industrial. 

Modern design embraced these ideals and as a design style, started to blend many of their key tenets. Because it has spanned over 100 years, various influences have been cherry picked – such as mid-century, rustic or glamorous for example. Nonetheless, there are some key principles that it has always stuck by: clean lines, geometric form, clear spaces. This allows you to easily create a modernist space if you please. Below we will explore these concepts, how to distinguish each approach and how to create the look in your own home.

Billie incorporates a mix of modern design traits



One of the biggest influences on modernism arguably came from Industrial design. It came to prominence at the start of the 20th Century; coincidentally at the same time as the modernist movement. After the industrial revolution, globalisation led to scores of factories uprooting to cheaper places to do business. This left swathes of derelict factories behind, with an almost endless resource of high quality materials going to waste – such as concrete, glass and steel. This was a huge reason why industrial design had such an impact on modern design – not only was there an abundance of materials, they were cheap and fuss free. 

Classic industrial elements at Steel

Minimalism and Scandi

In a different way, but no less meaningful, minimalism and scandi have also left a lasting impression on modernism. With their clutter free aesthetics, muted colour palettes and clean lines, it is perhaps easier to see minimalist and scandi design’s impact on modernism. Scandi came to prevalence at the same time as modernism, emphasising the use of utility, clean lines and simple furnishings that are made to be functional, cosy and beautiful. Similarly, minimalism also incorporates the idea of clean lines and reduced clutter, however, where functionality is key to scandi, simplicity is the core principle of minimalist design. The combined idea behind both styles has always been ‘less is more’, which became a core tenet for modern design as it evolved.  

Minimal and scandi influences on modern design at The Distillery and Curious

Components of Modernist Design

Modern Art 

At the turn of the 20th century, modern art revolutionised the way people looked at their environment (completely aligning with the modernist movement and what it stood for). Because modern design was so heavily based around form, function, clean lines and zero fuss, people looked to other ways to get their character and expression across. They achieved this through the use of new abstract prints and sculptures, with bold colour and unexpected forms. Abstract art was also a move away from the traditional, realist forms of art that had populated houses across the 19th Century, creating another compelling reason to decorate in this way. To construct the modernist look within your home, showcase your artwork by forming a feature wall out of the abstract pieces of art, or alternatively, have one standout piece within a minimal space making it the focal point. 

Different styles of abstract art at Carlo and Solene

Industrial Materials 

Without industrialisation there is no modernist movement! Industrial materials are therefore central to modern design. As touched on above, following industrialisation, many cheap and newly accessible materials were left behind for the general public to embrace. Not only were they readily available and easy to install, they also perfectly fitted the modern principles of showing off clean geometrical lines, with function before form. When people think of industrial materials, their first thought goes into the structure of a space; within modern design however, these materials are used throughout the space – furniture as well as structure. Industrial materials are perfect for showing the clean geometrical lines, thanks to their pared-back aesthetic. If you want to achieve this look within your own home, play around with beams, steel frames and concrete flooring. Try and implement large windows to bring in that extra natural light.

Lots of glass, steel and concrete on view at Gee Street and Bloomsbury

Clean Lines, Form and Function

Clean lines and function before form are potentially the central principles of modern design. With the likes of steel and concrete being available for the first time, designers took advantage; straight lines and clear functions flourished. These materials were perfect for accentuating clean lines and thanks to their mechanical aesthetic, it was easy to demonstrate their functionality. Architects and designers loved balancing the opposing vertical and horizontal lines of columns, steps and furniture – achieving this, whilst showcasing every piece’s function in a stylish environment is where modern design thrives. 

Clean lines, form and function at Gee Street and Havelock

Clear Spaces 

Whatever you believe are the most important factors within a modernist space, one thing is clear: clutter is never welcome. With design styles like scandi and minimalist spearheading the movement, it is self-evident that this would be the case. Clutter can manifest in not only mess, but in saturating a space with furniture and other decorative objects. If you are looking to create an effortless modern space, accessories and decoration must be few and far between. The art here is leaving the space clear without it looking bare. This can be achieved through the use of statement pieces and bold furniture that draws the eye, alongside warm and inviting colour schemes. 

Clear functional spaces are key at Coconut and Blue

Top five for May

At the start of the month, as always, we like to give you the opportunity to glean your eyes over some of our latest and greatest properties turned shoot locations last month. 2021 has started with a bang and the amount of quality locations we have received has mirrored this. Throughout May, the influx of breathtaking residential properties has been received like never before. With properties ranging from sublime Victorian villas, to substantial new builds with acres of land, there is a shoot location to fit any brief. 

East Villa 

First up this month is a truly spectacular property, East Villa. This triple fronted Victorian villa, located in East London, is so fabulous that we are running out of adjectives here at 1st Option. East Villa has been restored to the highest of standards, however, it still possesses its original features, allowing for a modern, yet warm and welcoming interior. Our favourite features include the gorgeous parquet flooring that can be found throughout, the indoor swimming pool and the bar area with pool table to match. A special mention, however, definitely goes to the standout spiral staircase, that could leave you with endless shooting opportunities. Thanks to its size, East Villa would be equipped for small-scale filming and is ideal for editorial photoshoots, with ample areas to shoot within. 

Sublime interior design at East Villa


From a Victorian villa, to a Victorian two bed, you may notice that we’ve had an abundance of Victorian properties register with us in May. However, while these two properties may be from the same era, they have many differences, most notably their size. Isabella is full of character, with every room showing a different side of its personality. Within the large open-plan kitchen, contemporary design has been blended with a whole host of original Victorian features – such as sash windows, original fireplaces and wooden floorboards. This is juxtaposed by the flow within the rest of the house, where colour is a prevailing feature. Blue hallways, forest green living rooms and pink tiled bathrooms bring this property to life and give you tons of places to shoot. Due to the nature of two bed houses and its wealth of colour and character, Isabella would be perfect for editorial shoots.

Original features blended with colour and texture at Isabella


Moving from our smallest property on this list to our largest, we give you Dragonfly – an extensive shoot location, seeping with style and sophistication. As the only house here to feature comprehensive grounds (including a woodland area, playground and tennis court) it is easy to see why Dragonfly is already so popular. Within the property you are met by a mid-century modern, minimalist interior, typified by its stylish, open-plan kitchen. Here you will find stripped back seating, a decidedly clean aesthetic and large floor to ceiling glass doors. Special mentions within Dragonfly go to the indoor swimming pool with tapestry decor and the spacious games room. This location would be perfect for photoshoots; due to its size, inside and out, we would definitely recommend the possibility of filming. 

Stylish interior design and the incredible tapestry swimming pool at Dragonfly


Looking for something slightly more crisp and elegantly trimmed? Then Porcelain is most certainly the property for you. This dainty, shabby chic shoot location, located in South West London, is a returning favourite for 1st Option and it is easy to see why. This five bedroom townhouse has a clear flow and layout that is effortlessly achieved, from the manicured garden, all the way through the interior of the property. Notable features include the gorgeous bespoke kitchen, with a fresh white colour palette, marble kitchen island and the considerable amount of wood – giving off distinct New England vibes. An abundance of windows and skylights bring out the freshness of Porcelain, producing a light and airy shoot location that is ideal for any type of photography.

Shabby chic design with a manicured garden at Porcelain


What’s a top five without a quirky, unusual option? Dacres perfectly mixes contemporary design with quirky and artistic cues – achieved through an impeccable, modern restoration and a wealth of colour and texture. One of the standout features you cannot overlook within this property, is its extraordinary back garden that features an array of quirky trees (including a magical branch arch) and a quaint little pond. This is complimented by a quirky artist’s studio found at the back of the garden, which offers incredibly unique imagery. Upon entering the interior of the house, you are met by a gateway to a different world. This Victorian villa has been restored to an extremely high standard, with tons of premium features. These features include Belgian Blue limestone flooring, colour and texture throughout and a gorgeous kitchen island finished with concrete countertop. If you are looking for editorial shoots that blend quirky with contemporary, then Dacres is the place for you.

The blend of premium design and quirky elements at Dacres

12 Design Ideas to Maximise a Small Space

When living in a small house or apartment, decorating can feel like an impossible task. You want to show off your personality and fit as much in as possible, but don’t want the space to feel cramped. Accommodating everything is where the challenge lies, but is also where the fun is. Creating space where there isn’t, takes hard work and creativity. Finding solutions to these obstacles is what makes the process so rewarding in the end. Whether you live in a studio apartment and want to make the most of the whole space, or you have a tight room within your house, there are tons of design ideas that can make your space feel much larger than it actually is. Too often people compromise on style when it comes to smaller locations, so read on for our favourite design ideas for tackling your space conundrum.

Avoid Clutter 

While this first point may seem fairly self evident, it is the most important and cannot be forgotten. Obviously there are essentials that are needed within any space, however, even the most elegantly designed room won’t work if you can’t walk within it. There are many ways to showcase your personality and style, without cluttering the area. Floating pieces are great; they don’t suffocate the room, while still imprinting on the area. Consider shelves and nightstands, as they keep space underneath free. Instead of buying floor lamps, take a look at sconces and wall lights. 

Avoid clutter with floating and mounted furniture

Be Resourceful 

Thinking outside the box is fundamental when it comes to styling a small room or apartment. Picking furniture can be incredibly tricky, one piece could completely swarm the room and before you know it, everything is cramped. Sliding doors with substantial glass panels are a great idea – they can separate areas when needed, but also give an open plan feel that allows light to flow throughout the place. Fold away desks are also an ingenious way of creating space when needed, while still putting your spin on the room. Similarly, being resourceful with furniture helps to de-clutter; think: chairs for bedside tables, cubes that can act as coffee tables and sofas that can double up as beds. 

Fold away desks free up tons of space

Light is Key

Due to cramped conditions with tiny or non-existent windows, small spaces can often feel dark and gloomy. To avoid the place feeling claustrophobic, fill rooms with light. If you don’t have much window space, think about soft lighting – achieved through wall lights and carefully positioned floor lamps. Skylights are another way to bring out the clean lines of your furniture without having to take up room within the space. 

Skylights allow so much light into the smallest spaces

Reflective Materials 

Reflective materials like glossy wall tiles, shiny surfaces and mirrors bounce light around the room. This creates the effect of space and leaves the place feeling airy and tranquil. If you don’t have an abundance of light, mirrors can help elevate the room – reflecting the light around and brightening up the area. 

Frognal uses mirrors and Canbury uses tiles to bounce light around

Neutral Colour Scheme

While it isn’t imperative to stick with a neutral colour scheme (dark and dramatic aesthetics certainly have their place), calm and even-toned colour palettes trick the eye into the illusion of more space. To avoid making the room feel flat, make sure to texture where possible,  through cushions, throws and rugs. 

Eco House and Kingswood elegantly show how to use neutral colour schemes

Express Yourself 

This is where designing can become a passion project rather than a chore! While neutral colours trick the brain into thinking a room is bigger than it actually is, small doesn’t have to be a white box. Decorating with bold, standout pieces draws attention and takes away from the size of the space. Since expressing through endless pieces of furniture isn’t achievable, beautifying larger units is a great way to get your personality across. Try decorating these larger units with plants, colour and other decorative elements. 

Express yourself through colour and plants like Dray Gardens has here

Clear Cohesion

There are only so many things anyone can consider in a small room, so making sure items, styles and colours aren’t mismatched is imperative. Stick with one encompassing aesthetic and run with it – whether it’s light and airy or dark and moody, be confident and don’t saturate with too many colours. Having a clear flow makes the space feel bigger, so really think about every piece and whether it belongs there. 

Clear encompassing aesthetics at Aldersbrook and Cole

Play with Scale 

A small space doesn’t have to mean miniature furniture! In fact, having a few standout pieces intermingled with more slight furniture actually draws the eye, making the room far more memorable. Try mixing regular furniture with large walled artwork – the juxtaposition of small and large, without losing space on the ground is a great way to play with scale.   

Playing with scale can make a room look a lot bigger

Use the Architectural Quirks

By now we have made it apparent that every inch counts, so taking full advantage of the architectural quirks a house has can really help maximise the space. Ledges and window sills can be used as shelving, the neglected window nook can be turned into a sofa space and investing in a radiator cover can be a subtle way of getting your character across. By adding these elements, you can forgo the bulky shelving unit and cumbersome sofa, freeing up space for other pieces. 

We love the use of these window nooks here

Hide your TV

A television can be one of the biggest space wasters going! Think about mounting your TV onto a wall – not only does this regain vital floor space, but if your living room doubles up as a dining room or space for entertaining, you can hide it behind artwork. 

Artwork can be a great way to hide your tv

Make every piece count 

Functionality is key when it comes to decorating a space. If a piece of furniture only has one function, while taking up a lot of space, consider whether it’s worth keeping. For example, instead of having an end-of-the-bed bench, swap in a desk that can be used for working or getting ready and has space for storage underneath! 

End-of-bed desks are great ways to make space

Keep it Cosy 

Although the other points look at how to maximise space and create the illusion of a bigger room, sometimes leaning on the smallness of a place can end up being the best part of it. By keeping the area intimate, through bringing furniture away from the walls and closer to each other, you are able to make it inviting and cosy.

Make every room inviting and cosy regardless of size

Five of the most Instagrammable locations for your next photoshoot (Part 2)

Whether it’s lunch, landscapes or locations, the question everyone is constantly asking – is it Instagrammable? Instagram has long developed from the vocational app that people used to connect with their friends, through the medium of picture. Today we see over 1 billion people using the app monthly, and of those, 71% are under the age of 35. Instagram is growing exponentially, with experts predicting we would only hit these numbers by 2024, only two years ago. Using instagram in line with your business goals has never been more important. Check out five of our most instagrammable locations, to help with your business or personal account growth! 

Blackwood House 

First up is the extremely eye-catching Blackwood House. With over 1 billion monthly users, it’s safe to say that you need something extraordinary to stand out from the crowd – Blackwood House will certainly achieve this. From the exterior completely cladded in black stained wood, to the gorgeous, modern, minimalist interior, you’ll be sure to find those one-of-a-kind shots to grab users’ attention! 

Clapton Tram Shed 

We have established the need for unique imagery as a tool to help set you apart and Clapton Tram Shed is certainly going to achieve this! This historic tram depot has been converted into one of the most iconic studios London has to offer – it was originally used as a stable for the horses that pulled the trams of London. The studio itself is finished with white brick throughout and features skylights running the entirety of the space, so natural light is a given. However, its unforgettable element comes from the abundance of plants that swarm the space. Found on nearly every inch of the studio, days could pass and fascinating shots would still be found.

The House 

Individuality can be achieved through many mediums or artforms. If Clapton Tram Shed accomplishes this through biophilia and light, The House manages it through an unforgettable run-down aesthetic. As seen in such publications as British Vogue, The House is one of the most distressed shoot locations out there. This incredible space is remarkably quirky, offering a wealth of antique furniture, distressed walls and wood panelling. If you are after moody shots, The House is the spot for you. 


From antiquated and moody, to LA in the 70’s, we really do cover all bases here at 1st Option! Lichfield is a particularly unique shoot location and screams “Instagrammable” from the moment you lay eyes on the space. Upon entering the property, you are met by a punch of retro vibes that offer a myriad of memorable shots. Standout features inside include the retro arcade game, velour bed and the space pod. However, the quirky garden space and the unique built-in fire also present impressive shooting opportunities. 


With 72% of Instagram’s users admitting that imagery has influenced their decision making, finding that standout shot is imperative. We can safely say that you won’t find just the one at Pop. Striking and unforgettable are understatements when it comes to this property! This unique shoot location features an overarching colour palette of pink and yellow, that leaves a lasting impression. In most circumstances this would be enough to satisfy the Instagram powers that be, however, Pop isn’t quite done there. With patterns galore, an astonishing amount of artwork and quirky furniture, you could be here an eternity and most likely never run out of new and exciting instagrammable content!

Top five for April

As we pass through the first quarter of the year and ease our way back into normal life, business is also starting to resemble the distant memory of what it looked like, fifteen months ago. As restrictions have eased, we have been lucky enough to take on an incredible array of new locations. This month, we took on properties ranging from quirky little flats, to architect-designed family homes, and all-purpose studios, to eye-catching new builds. First up, come and have a look around Lowther.


Check out Lowther – a spectacular, architecturally-designed, five bedroom family house, in South West London. This property boasts an incredible, premium aesthetic! This is felt from the moment you walk through the door and are greeted by the magnificent marble hallway and striking spiral staircase. The jewel in its remarkable crown, however, is the bespoke Lanserring kitchen. A vast open-plan space with adjoining dining area, perfectly finished with parquet flooring, crittal windows and a glorious marble island. Style and opulence are carried throughout the property, and this is achieved through chic industrial hits, including exposed brick, quirky lighting and brass piping. Moreover, a beautiful master bedroom can be found upstairs, fitted with a built-in wardrobe and an ensuite for the king. Take a look at the fabulous freestanding bath, rain shower and even more marble countertops. This property hasn’t been with us long, but it is already proving to be incredibly popular. And we can see why! 

The elegant design features of Lowther


Looking for something a bit more quirky and unusual? Then Fig in Kensal Green is the property for you. Once you pass the unassuming front of the flat you are met with a spectrum of colour, character and charm. From the terracotta hallway, to the soft pink ceiling and the crushed velvet furnishings, you are never short of fascinating shoot opportunities.  The pink neon sign found here also brings splashes of fun to the space. Every room offers something quite different to the next and this is typified through the two bedrooms. The first is finished with a tranquil blue aesthetic and features even more crushed velvet, a statement shell bed and retro style furniture. The second bedroom however, screams moody private members club. This is elevated through mustard and gold tones, juxtaposed by the overarching purple colour palette. Of course, a property like this couldn’t be finished without a garden to match; the weeping willow outside goes some way to achieving this. Due to its size we wouldn’t recommend filming, but editorial shoots would be perfect here! 

Fig and the quirky design elements


Moving on, we give you Treehouse, an extremely unique, modern new build with a whole host of incredible features. The first of these unmissable features is the larch cladding, found on large parts of the exterior, the adjoining glass walling and its flat roof. They are incredibly compelling and grab attention right away. Once inside, you are met by an interior to match! Thanks to the huge glass walling, the property gains a wealth of natural light, which beautifully compliments the fresh minimalist aesthetic. On the ground floor is the open plan kitchen and living space – featuring a concrete floor, gorgeously rich wooden furnishings and a large kitchen island. This is complemented by the main living space that also benefits from huge glass walling, a truly remarkable wood burning stove and an immensely unique sliding wooden shutter, reminiscent of those seen in box office films. Based in the woodlands of Kent, (perfect for filming and editorial shoots) Treehouse will no doubt be a fan favourite for long to come! 

Premium aesthetics at Treehouse

Drops Studio 1 & 2 

Next up are two studio spaces, both offering something different. One is styled while the other is bare, allowing for decoration to accommodate any shoot. Drops Studio 1 is an all-purpose studio that blends the blank elements of a blackout studio, with styled components, making for a remarkably creative set. The styled aspects cross between a premium kitchen space and a more distressed and worn area. Within the kitchen area expect to see wooden flooring and a marble effect countertop, while in the distressed area you’ll find exposed brick, worn concrete and retro furniture – allowing for tons of unique shooting opportunities! There is also an infinity cove and hair and makeup area, making it perfect for headshot shoots. Drops studio 2 offers the exact opposite to 1. It is largely made up of blank canvases and a substantial infinity cove. There is only one small styled area, where you’ll find a vintage sofa and wooden paneling behind it. The rest is up to you! 

Drops Studio 1 with more styled elements
Stled and blank elements of Drops Studio 2


They say leave the best till last… have a look at our latest property, Koi. A sublime, 1850s, five bedroom country house, located in a small village in West Sussex. The property itself has recently been renovated to an impeccable standard, combining antique and modern design, leaving a truly astounding shoot location. Standout features include period fireplaces, gorgeous ceiling roses and feature walls in every room. Upon first glance Koi is a stunning family home, however, feature walls such as these give the property a real sense of personality, character and versatility. There is also a large garden that includes a hot tub, fire pit and decking area, adding lovely touches of variety. Nonetheless, it is the period stone and arched doorway that give this property its real vintage glamour. Due to its size and differing styles found inside and out, Koi is perfect for all types of shoots including filming. 

Gorgeous details at Koi

In the Spotlight: Minimalist Interior Design

Minimalistic interior design incorporates clean lines, reduced clutter, monochromatic colour tones and simplicity at its heart – the idea behind minimalist design is ‘less is more’. It might be self evident to think of an uncluttered space when minimalism comes to mind, however, the design style takes it further. There is an elegance in minimalist design, a simple serenity. But to achieve this look, it is more deliberate and frankly, difficult, than simply placing a few items amidst a clean backdrop and running with it. Doing this can leave the area looking sparse, cold and uninviting. When designing a minimalist space, stick to a few key fundamentals. 

Limit your colour palette 

Minimalism doesn’t just embody the choice of furnishings, it applies to all aspects of the room, including colour. White tends to be the most common choice, however, the bottom line to adhere to is a neutral colour palette. By sticking with a neutral base colour, creativity in other aspects can take centre stage. This can be achieved through breaking the monotony of the base colour and adding a pastel accent here or a rich hue there. Try texturing – with a mixture of different materials of the same shade, but don’t overdo it, as this will ruin the whole effect.

Blue perfectly shows how to pastel accents to a minimal space

Texture is key 

One question we see being asked a lot, is how to bring a grey or white space to life. The answer is simple: texture! Introducing texture to a space, while keeping to a neutral colour palette, brings vivacity to any room and allows for tons of variety. The key to achieving this look without overdoing it is to give the room a vibrant edge, whilst maintaining the minimalist spirit. Simple ways of carrying this out can be placing cushions atop furniture, or perhaps introducing a rug or throw to your room. 

Texturing is key to Dolly achieving a seamless minimal aesthetic

Quality over quantity

If minimalism requires little decoration, ornamentation or extravagant details, how is it possible to achieve an elegant look? Simply invest in quality materials! Think: marble, rich woods and porcelain. Don’t overdo it and clad the whole space in marble, however a carefully placed partition or countertop can act as a gorgeous yet subtle focal point. 

Treehouse has opted for quality materials over quantity

Decorate wisely

When decorating any space, it is easy to get lost in the idea of not overdoing it, resulting in an overly bare space. There are however, some great additions that can be made to any room, to keep it feeling fresh, without cluttering. Greenery is a perfect option; house plants in different sized pots of varying heights, can really add a touch of character, whilst creating the concept of space. Similarly, one standout painting is far better than filling the room with lots of small ones. Minimalist art would go with the flow, whereas abstract art would introduce a bit of color. Choose whatever your stylistic cues dictate. 

Optical uses house plants and standout furniture to decorate the minimal space

Achieve balance 

The key to achieving balance within the home is to find a bold focal point. This can be an eye-catching piece of furniture, artwork or even a centrepiece – like an iconic vase or central table. If the space has been kept neutral, a vibrant painting can capture attention and draw the eye. If you have textured with colour – through the use of carefully positioned cushions or throws – perhaps achieve balance through an alluring centre table? 

Eye-catching furniture works as a focal point at Blackwood House

Let the light in

Natural light is the best compliment to neutral colour palettes, it makes the area feel comfortable and spacious. Furthermore, it brings out the true colours of the walls, floors and furniture, retaining the true essence of minimalism. If you aren’t fortunate enough to have much natural light in your home, mirrors, plants and light wood can give the required effect if supplemented with well positioned lighting. 

The floor to ceiling windows bring out the natural essence of Dingley Place

Form, Focus and Functionality 

Within a minimalist space, everything is about function and form. If something doesn’t add value, then it is redundant. Similarly, if the items in the room don’t speak to each other in ways such as shape, colour or structure, then the attitude of the space will be completely off. Minimalism also speaks to a way of life. The idea is not to stimulate senses, but rather be purposeful in the value each item brings to the space. Chairs for comfort, tables for eating, fireplaces for warmth…

Cora focus’s on form and function over decoration

Benefits and challenges

The benefits of the minimalist movement and its principal ideas within the interior design sphere are self evident. Is that extra sofa needed? Are pictures required on that wall? How many knick-knacks can one coffee table actually have before becoming messy and overstimulating? In reality, functionality and practicality can be the driving forces for creating a harmonious home. When you bring a truly uncluttered and clean space into the home, it not only helps with freeing up space, but also brings a calming effect on your life. A calm haven for living, creates a calm haven for thinking. 

Minimalist interior design does bring about its fair share of challenges however. When a simple, uncluttered and functional space is created, the threat of creating a cold and uninviting space is left. The key here is to blend different accents, shades and textures, to create a dynamic atmosphere. On the other hand, knowing when to stop adding to the space may be even more difficult. Much like a song can’t go on forever, if the space is functional and stimulating without being over cluttered, it is probably a good time to finish.

Ask the Location Owner: Episode 7

In episode seven of our series ‘Ask the Location Owner’ we chat with Mairead over video call to learn all about her home ‘Bottega’.

12 Design Ideas to get your Garden Ready for Summer

Use dark colours

As we start to invite friends back into our lives with garden parties and such, showing off all the new features and elements we have been working on is a must. Don’t be afraid of using dark colours to frame your garden. If utilised in the right way, they actually recede, bringing focus to the prettier elements within your space. Play around with trendy tones – olives and deep shades of navy are very in this year, as is jet black. However, don’t be brash and think any dark colour will work. Deep red’s are a no go, as they draw too much attention, and there is a reason shades of purple work better as accents. Check out a couple of examples here, where the use of dark colours have been executed perfectly!

Swap a coffee table for a planter 

Lockdown has changed the way many people view the world. It has also changed many daily habits, bringing about new norms and ideals – one of which has been the sharp increase in planting within the home. Going out has become a lot less possible over the past year, ultimately leading to people bringing the outside in. Plant-buying figures have gone through the roof, with the purchasing of bulbs like echinacea (the genus of the daisy plant) rising by 3,000%. It is clear a large proportion of the general public have taken to gardening over lockdown. And what better way to show off your handywork, than swapping out your garden table for a planter. We love this concept here, blending a planter and table together.

Change planes 

If you have enough time and money on your hands, changing planes and sinking a lounging area can change the whole attitude of your garden. If your garden naturally has a slope, dropping a sunken seating area into the mix makes perfect sense and wouldn’t be too costly! On the other hand, a fire pit may take a bit of planning, but can create an unforgettable centrepiece! Take a look at two examples here: one is a simple drop into a fire pit, while the other utilises the gradual slope of the garden and features a few different planes. 

Create a bbq and bar area 

Creating a must-have bbq and bar area is a great idea for when your friends and family return over the summer months! As restrictions ease and we are allowed to see more people, having a fun place to congregate will be ideal! Check out this rather luxe example here, however if you are working to a budget, cheaper alternatives also do a great job.

Double up on seating 

Wicker lounge chairs have been garden staples for many years now; they are stylish, easy to move, compliment nearly every style imaginable and are incredibly durable (perfect with the wet weather we experience here in England). If you want to get creative with your space, incorporate different styles and heights within your seating arrangements. Hanging chairs are a really popular option this year, as they add texture, artistic accents and allow more seating, without taking up too much space. 

Blending pools and ponds

There is no such thing as too much tranquillity. So why not combine the joy of a swimming pool with the serenity of a pond? Shapes of swimming pools are getting more creative year upon year, meaning ponds can now effortlessly complement pools. Freeform pools are very popular right now, taking on the traditional shape of a pond, bringing with it the ever present peaceful qualities associated with ponds.   

Outdoor shower 

Regardless of whether you have a pool or not, an outdoor shower can dramatically improve your garden’s appeal. They add a refreshing tropical element to any garden and create a super luxe effect, that will really give it that one of a kind feel. Check out a few incredible ideas brought to life here.

Pretty Pergolas

As the weather continues to climb, it’s likely plenty of us will be clambering to find some shade, during those ever-present summer parties. Pergolas can provide this necessity, whilst becoming a great place to entertain. They add great architectural interest to your garden, especially with the addition of some draped ivy or something similar. As they don’t take up much space on the ground, they don’t clutter your garden or interrupt sight lines.

Zen is in 

Zen gardens are becoming increasingly popular in 2021, thanks to a general shift in our consciousness towards mindfulness. The Japanese have been creating zen gardens for centuries, because of their capacity to increase mindfulness – perhaps this contributes to why they have one of the longest life expectancies of any country. Zen gardens are incredibly easy to create; they feature a dry landscaped area, stylised rocks, water and sand. The rest is up to you. Have a look at a couple of different examples here for some much needed inspiration. 

Embrace patina

If you are unsure what patina is, not to worry, as you definitely will have seen it without realising. Patina is the thin layer of green film that forms on bronze, copper, brass, or certain stones and woods. It usually occurs through age, when the metal or stone reacts with air. The most famous example would be The Statue of Liberty. Luckily Patina can form fairly quickly if left out to the elements – if done elegantly, it can create slightly aged products, full of character, rather than having rusty old pieces. If you are going for a quirky, rustic aesthetic within your garden, utilising patina in ways like this can really bring the whole garden together. 

Water features 

Water features can be a great addition to any space, bringing tranquility and adding a spa-like quality to the area. Water features can range vastly, so don’t be afraid to seek out what suits your garden. Ornamental features are a lot cheaper and don’t take up much room, while if you fancy something more structurally integral, it may take up more time and money, but when complete it won’t disappoint! 

Summerhouse dream 

Renovating and cultivating the space around your summerhouse with plants and trees is a great way to spice up your garden, ready for the return of friends and family gatherings. Think of the plants as the setting and the Summerhouse as the stage; play around with designs and colour pairings. Ornamental grasses like White Pampas Grass blend effortlessly with plants like Russain Sage and Purple Japanese Maple. The idea is to create a beautiful scene for all to admire.

Summer Essentials – Five of the best shoot locations this Summer

With the easing of restrictions coinciding with the return of hotter days, what better time to get back out and shoot in some of our more summery locations. As always, here at 1st Option, we pride ourselves on representing the most expertly curated properties across the UK. With shoot locations ranging from large manor houses, equipped with vast gardens, to glass cubes, situated in the heart of London. Whatever the brief is, we are sure to have it covered over the next few months, with a selection of summer essentials! 


To find a more complete shoot location than Berkhamsted would be a struggle! This glorious, eight bedroom, Grade II listed Georgian country house ticks all the boxes. Thanks to its sprawling grounds, this is a perfect summer location. The house itself retains many original and period features, including sash windows, a sweeping staircase and a selection of ornate fireplaces. It is this property’s extensive 16 acre grounds however, that prevail today! With assets comprising of a large tiled swimming pool, a lake and a unique koi carp fish pond, Berkhamsted’s mix of formal and parkland settings provide for all shooting requirements.

The Cube

From our largest garden to our smallest, we give you the Ying to Berkhamsted’s Yang: The Cube! Quite literally featuring a glass box, positioned centrally within the outdoor space, The Cube is a truly striking garden. The tranquil space is adorned with an array of tropical flora, turning a quiet corner of Clapham into a Mediterranean masterpiece.  


Picturing the ideal summer shoot location, a luxury home resembling something from the Hollywood Hills may come to mind. Teignmouth, with its double-height rear glass extension gives this very feel, whilst being nestled, conveniently, in North West London. A tiled swimming pool sits within the spectacular landscaped garden of this remodelled and converted, double fronted Victorian house. 

Harlow Garden 

Getting a perfect summer shot at Harlow Garden is a walk in the park, not least because it is reminiscent of one in itself! This Unique, Essex based shoot location, does feature a rather large house, however it is the magnificent, vast garden that captures attention, and for good reason too! The garden independently is Grade II listed, and was designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd, (an English architect and landscape designer, particularly well known for his work in Harlow, Essex) with the sole intention of creating a quirky masterpiece, that would reveal a new vista or work of art at every turn and corner. The mixture of landscaped and wild areas ooze personality and charm, while the stream running through ensures there is no shortage of alluring shooting opportunities. 

Lake House 

Last but by no means least, we give you Lake House: a superb, lakefront cabin style house, with utterly ridiculous panoramic views and shooting opportunities. We could easily wax lyrically about the opulent and stylish interiors, however sticking with our theme, it is the outer parts of the property that we are focusing on today. At the rear, there is a huge decking area that covers the entirety of the space giving you 360 degree views of the surrounding lake and woodland areas. Picture yourself on the decking, the sun setting, awe-inspiring views, and you’re in a little spot of secluded paradise! 

In the Spotlight: New England Interior Design

Though originating in the North East region of the United States, New England design has infiltrated the UK’s design scene, becoming an interior staple for many years now. The style is rather unique and dates back to the 17th Century, as it takes cues from the American colonial era. Despite only crossing the pond much later, the colonial design style was largely based on what was popular in England at the time. As such, the New England design style was birthed and aptly named. Nonetheless, New England design does have its own trademarks. Fresh coastal-inspired colours and nautical influences are the hallmarks of the style. To adapt to the 21st Century, expect to see some modern updates, with more quaint touches – elements typically seen in rustic cottages, coastal cabins or rural farmhouses. Let’s dive straight in and see how this style can be implemented into your own home!

Bazeley House with subtle New England touches

As Colonial influence

As settlers became colonists and began to form cities, they took influences from what was fashionable at the time in England and France. Georgian and Neoclassical styles, supplemented by simpler versions of Baroque and Greco-Roman architecture started to pop up across the seaports of the North East – places like New York, Boston and Baltimore. This was a stark difference from the design styles found across the rest of America. Rural homes were styled to fit the needs of farmers; as such, they were far more rustic. In the modern era, expect to see contemporary twists on classical decorative silhouettes: Windsor chairs, ornamental columns and biomimetic murals. Style rooms with tailored sofas, wingback chairs and lots of Chippendale inspired furniture. 

Angmering incorporating the colonial influences into the home

Nautical Influence 

Paired with colonial influences, much of the traditional New England design is heavily based on coastal and nautical prompts. Similar to how the colour palette of the sea lends itself to this style, much of New England’s touches are based on fishing, the navy and even international trading. Within the colour palette, you can expect to see patriotic colours, like the classic red, white and blue. However, sandy beiges, sunny yellows, sky blues and seafoam greens also play a big part. Materials should reflect those that are reminiscent of nautical elements. Mix things up with driftwood, burlap, hessian and wooden cladding. In the modern New England home, it is common to see more industrial elements, the likes of which are commonly found on more contemporary ships, for example cargo lighting and steel chairs or stools. 

Nautical elements of The Boathouse

Shaker influences

In the earliest days of American colonisation, the Shakers (who were a protestant sect believing in Christ’s second appearance) played an important role in educating people. Their worldview was that simplicity was at the heart of everything. Shakers felt decadence was a distraction from their religious journeys, so their homes were sparsely decorated and minimally furnished. Because of its simple take on interior design, New England takes a lot of inspiration from this period. Today you see simple elements of the aesthetic incorporated into the modern home. Think peg rails, ladder back chairs, wooden cabinets and handmade baskets. The Shaker influence is also where the neutral colour palette comes from – rooms were often white washed, and made of simple materials. It is this timeless appeal that, to this day, makes ‘the Shaker look’ so popular within New England interior design. 

Simple shaker touches in The Boathouse

The key to achieving a polished New England space, that doesn’t look like a dated beach house, is to incorporate the traditional elements alongside the nautical aesthetic. Don’t be afraid to splash some pops of colour amidst the fresher colour palettes. Tastefully styled modern accessories can go a long way. Opulent materials, such as marble or bronze, can bring a blend of modern and neoclassical design to the space. If you don’t fancy being bold with design choices and want to keep it simple with sleek rustic elements, integrate pieces like handmade baskets, vintage portraits and rugged wooden materials. These components together create a classy New England space that will inevitably turn heads!