Making a rental feel like home "I believe it’s a matter of authenticity"

By: Damienne Joly
25 Jan 2021

Architect and designer Damienne Joly has created some of the most inspiring spaces in the world - from Stockholm, to London, Australia and Hong Kong.

A Design-natural

A true design-natural, her company, Studio Basalte, is a reflection of an impressive career that started in her home country of France, where she studied architecture and later, landscape architecture and historical designs.

This merged a love of nature with her desire for structure. She also studied and worked in the US.

A Design Approach to Evolve Spatially

“For as long as I can remember,” Damienne explains, “I have always made things. I remember spending hours making small models and imagining stories for them. “I loved to use my Dad’s workshop tools. As an engineer, he always encouraged me to think about how objects were assembled and constructed.”

In all her projects, Damienne’s design approach is to utilise nature, art, textures, materials, colours and light to conceive how this is weaved together to take form spatially.

And - having lived in Hong Kong since 2005 - she is also supremely aware of the challenges faced by those seeking to invigorate a rental property. There can be limitations to what can be done, or the space is not making the most of a location. That’s just the beginning.

Creative Decorative Solutions

Damienne says she starts by looking at the flow of the space; how different rooms connect with each other both visually and physically.

Adding warmth and character is important, such as layering the space with fabrics, colours and then working with the existing furniture and art pieces, “as well as the addition of selected new ones to complement the space”.

Taking in the surroundings and the views, Damienne aims to extend the immediate exterior views into the space - with the use of similar paint colour tones for example - connecting the interior with the exterior and creating an extension beyond.

As for decorative items, her favourites are ones found nowhere else and that have secret meanings and memories.

However, “I believe that more than the item itself, it is about the strategic location of a piece and how it relates to other pieces within the space that can fundamentally add character and a personal touch to a rental space.”

Decorative Elements

Soft furnishings, such as rugs, always add a special touch, especially when the floor finish is not the best and cannot be changed. Curtains made of colour linen or light fabrics with subtle patterns can help to distract from too thick and clunky window frames.

A decorative pendant light fixture for the dining table is also a key part of setting the mood and atmosphere.

Having one furniture piece that is a bit of a statement can go a long way. I particularly like a special chair or armchair. Framed mirrors at chosen locations can help bring light and play with views and reflections.

Finally, artwork pieces and flowers always. Although it is not a physical item, painting selected walls always enhances the space, bringing distinctive movement and character to the space, whether soft subtle tones or a dash of colour.

On a final note, Damienne adds that - as an architect and interior designer - every project always starts with the client.

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