Design Secrets from the Design and Illumination Specialist Susan Quirke

We have featured a number of Susan Quirke’s amazing designs on Trying to Balance the Madness.  Now she is kindly sharing some of her secrets in design and illumination.

We have a fantastic competition to win a design consultancy from Susan herself.  Check out – Win a Bathroom Design Consultancy for more details.

Design Secrets

1.     Lighting

When deciding on a lighting scheme think ahead about where you will be hanging artworks & sculptures and plan suitable directional light fittings. Many clients don’t think about these elements until the interior is nearly complete and it’s very difficult to retro-fit lighting so plan your scheme and features up front.

 2.     Kitchen Design

Decide what kind of kitchen will work best for your space and choose a material which is neutral enough to last the test of time. Enliven the space with colourful splash backs and worktops but keep the overall colour palette neutral. Blend the kitchen finish with the floor finish and also consider what will look best in both the day and evening. Adding some mood lighting undermounted under the units will add a sense of drama by night.


 3.     Bathroom Design

Many properties have quite dark bathroom spaces with tiny windows or none at all especially in London. The key to creating an inviting space that feels as large as possible is to use oversized mirrors and flattering lighting to create a spa like experience. A bespoke mirror cut to fit a whole wall will give the feeling of a much larger space.

4.      Bedroom features

Give a bedroom a sense of personality with a feature wall behind the bed. Whether it is a bespoke luxury bedhead, a beautiful velvet fabric with beading or a leather padded wall. A decorative lampshade overhead in matching tones will create a soft glamorous feel.


 5.     Colour Scheme

Often clients are afraid of colour and keep within the remits of neutral beige and whites and these tones can create an unwelcoming cold interior. Using a dramatic splash of colour even on one accent wall allows for a warm inviting feel and adds personality to the space. Colour should never be feared it just needs to be used in the right context and quantity.

 6.     Feature Wallpaper

Many clients are nervous of bold wallpaper patterns but using a dramatic design on one wall while keeping the rest of the space neutral brings a space to life. The texture of wallpaper warms up a room and over a fireplace or behind a bed can be very inviting and luxurious.

 7.     Feature Lights

Add decorative lighting to soften a space. Use reading lamps but floor mounted and table mounted as well as chandeliers over breakfast bars and dining tables to add warm seductive light to any space. Decorative wall lighting adds a subtle cosy feel to a room. Use candles to bring a soft feminine energy to a space.

 8.     Bespoke Furniture:

Don’t be afraid to commission a piece of bespoke furniture for your space whether it’s a unit to fit perfectly under the sink or a TV unit or a unique coffee table always try to look at adding something that reflects your personality, fits perfectly and you get to choose the finishes. It’s like purchasing a piece of art expect you get to use it.


Susan Quirke

Interior & Lighting Designer Susan Quirke’s background is in psychology but she always had a keen interest in design. After working as a project manager in a famous Architectural practise in Dublin working on high end retail, museum and residential projects 10 years ago she decided to set up Quirke McNamara Consultancy (QMC) and move to London.

She has taught design and professional practise in colleges in the capital and he been profiled in many design magazines and won many prestigious awards for her work. Susan’s work specialises in unique residential spaces using modern materials and lighting and her projects range from large luxury homes and penthouse apartments to warehouse conversions and artists’ studios always combining the interior design with integrated lighting elements.

She has also worked on numerous commercial projects from Tracy Emins retail space in Shoreditch to the private members clubs and bars around London.



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