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Freshly Squeezed: Hugo Tugman explains how to create the WOW factor – Part 3 of 3

Freshly Squeezed Interior Design Ideas from The Unexpected ChicAt the National Home Improvement Show last weekend, I was excited to see Hugo Tugman speak about how he creates the ‘WOW’ factor in his architectural designs. Hugo is an expert on this topic, having written the book Architect Your Home which has helped thousands of people improve their current home rather than moving to a new one. In these ‘austere economic times’ renovating is a pretty good idea to appreciate what you have and modify it slightly to suit your needs better! Make do and mend and all that jazz!

Over the last three days I’ve been sharing Hugo’s eleven top tips for creating that wow factor. See Part 1 and Part 2 as well for the full spectrum! Because different ideas work for different spaces, of course. Don’t hesitate to get in touch for some help figuring out what would be best in your particular home!

So without further ado:


This is all about opening up a home to bring in more light, whether it’s by expanding doors and windows, adding translucent or transparent materials wherever possible, or even by cutting voids into ceilings and floors to create skylights and mezzanines.

It’s best to bring in light from more than one different direction, and of course you want to focus any alterations on the face of the house that gets the most light and bring it through from there.


Adding mirrors and keeping surfaces light helps to maximize the natural light that you have. I love this reclaimed wood bench! Looks like it might be an old shutter?


Adding a roof lantern is a classic way to bring in more light, and looks wonderful in this library!


Cutting a void through the floor creates and impressive feature when viewed from above and brings precious natural light into basement or mid-house spaces with no windows.


WOW FACTOR POINT #9: Double Height

Hugo showed some very impressive photos of houses he had worked on where the space was completely changed by removing a ceiling to the attic to create a lovely cathedral ceiling, or by cutting a void through some of the floor and making a mezzanine with an impressive double height from the lower floor.


This kind of effect is an option in many houses with a bit of extra space at the front or the back. A void of only 3 or 4 metres still works effectively to create a lovely double-height space like this one!


The double-height idea also applies to windows – adding a second set over top of the regular windows looks quite impressive indeed!


An old barn space like this one makes a great double-height space! Some new floorboards, lots of white linen and a huge-scale fireplace with an indoor chimney complete the upscale country look.


Building the shelving units all the way up in this warehouse-like space makes a great feature wall and accents the impressive height of the ceiling.


WOW FACTOR POINT #10: Proportions

This one is very much linked to the Double Height idea, which mainly refers to playing with the proportions of a room. Here we’re looking at interior features and how changing the proportions from standard ‘builder’ sizes can add elegance and style.


Using tall double doors here looks much more impressive than your average 6’6″-ish door! This is the sort of value that a designer can add, rather than just working with a builder who would probably just install your standard old door.


This effect with long and lean shutters can work even if your window isn’t actually that high! Same goes for this one:


Though the windows are not floor-to-ceiling, the full-height curtains create an impressive effect. PS how fun is that metallic pouffe! Love this candy-coloured eclectic room!


WOW FACTOR POINT #11: Staircases

Staircases are definitely a huge opportunity to create some real wow factor. There are so many shapes, styles and materials that can be used, and advanced cantilever and suspension technologies make some really amazing-looking options possible.


This is definitely one of the more unique staircases I’ve ever seen! I love how it’s all supported from above, and how there are no fussy bits – it’s so clean and spare!


Another option is to add fun storage underneath the staircase, which can become a lovely design feature plus take care of all your clutter!


You don’t need to have a huge space to create a wow-worthy feature with a staircase! This industrial metal spiral staircase finished in an awesome retro army green look great in a small apartment – with, incidentally, some wonderful natural light brought in thanks to a skylight! Double wow. :)


A very cool one to finish off here, with the balustrade supported entirely by steel pins inserted into the cantilevered stair treads! I love how the bookshelf extends underneath as well.


Well that finishes off the WOW FACTOR series. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and found some inspiration, whether you have a cavernous mansion or an inner-city flat, a fortune or a modest budget. All of these ideas can be scaled up or down, it just depends what works best in your space!

If you missed them, read Part 1 and Part 2 for more wow-factor points. Or try this post for more tips on how to help your home make a great first impression!

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