Newcastle Interior Designer, Sibylle, gives her top tips on improving your well-being at home


We asked Newcastle based Interior Designer, Sibylle Clerey of SC Interiors, for her advice on how we can boost our well-being at home through improving our interior design choices and she shared some of her top tips…

As an interior designer, I always try and expand my knowledge about interiors and I wanted to share my thoughts on how to improve your well-being at home; particularly now during lockdown when so much of our time is being spent at home. Why not take this opportunity to make a few improvements to your surroundings? I am fascinated by biophilic design and how it can improve health, well-being and productivity but also help minimise Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

The biophilic design concept

You may be wondering what the concept of Biophilia is. It is our innate connection to nature and the natural world. Biophilic design builds on this connection and aims to unite occupants with nature, natural elements and processes.

Why is this concept relevant today?

The World Health Organisation has warned us of the potential negative mental health impact of the pandemic. Things such as loneliness, depression and self-harm behaviour are rising. With people spending most of their time at home for a staggering length of time now, it can feel very difficult to improve your well-being. Incorporating natural elements into your home is a simple way to address this problem and has been shown to reduce stress, blood and pressure levels whilst increasing productivity and self-reported rates of well-being. It is a concept that has been widely adopted by the world’s top organisations such as Apple, Google and Amazon who are investing millions in biophilic design.

How can you incorporate Biophilia into your home?

  • Breathe fresh air. Open your windows wide now and then to lift your mood and improve your immune system.
  • Use natural lighting. Try and maximise natural light by removing any furniture, or soft furnishings that may block sunlight from entering your home.
  • Add plants. Green is known to be the most relaxing colour! It boosts your energy levels and helps clear your mind. You don’t need to have green fingers, just browse the internet to see what plants would best suit your home. Look out for plants with air purifying qualities such as : dragon trees, bamboo palms, rubber plants, spider plants and more. These will help to remove toxins and lift your mood.
  • Incorporate natural materials. Use as many organic materials as you can such as wood, bamboo, rattan and stone in your home. These can be integrated through your furniture, flooring, kitchen worktops and home décor.
  • Embrace the shapes, colours and patterns of nature. The goal is to get the natural cosiness and feel through the use of curved furniture, cushions with different patterns and the right theme using bold, natural colours.
  • Listen to the sound of water. The peaceful sound of flowing water creates a soothing atmosphere for our mind.



                                               Biophilic Design, SC Interiors

A key part of biophilic design is striking a balance between emphasising the openness of a space. Bringing natural lighting into your home is important, as is adding materials and colours inspired by nature. Embracing natural elements such as wood, plants and incorporating curved shape will add a sense of calm and cosiness to your home and improve your well-being.

Minimising Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) is another way to improve your home environment.
Have you ever smelt the strong odour coming out of a can of paint when repainting your bedroom walls? Or felt nauseous after smelling the fumes whilst filling your car with fuel? Well, these are both examples of VOCs; which are toxic fumes that can cause short-term eye, nose or throat irritation as well as respiratory problems. These chemicals can be ten times more harmful to your health when indoors and are especially harmful to people with asthma. Long-term exposure to these compounds can be damaging to the kidneys, liver or central nervous system. Some studies have shown that VOCs may even cause cancer.

You can find these organic compounds, at different toxicity levels, in many building and textile materials, home care products such as cleaning supplies but also in paint, furniture polish, glue, detergents, wallpaper or even carpeting.  

How can you reduce VOCs in your home?
There are many ways of reducing the exposure to VOCs, here are a few:

  • Pick paints, varnishes and furniture with low VOCs level.
  • If possible, unpack and store building and furnishing materials in a ventilated garage or unused, ventilated space for a few weeks before bringing them into your home. That will allow time for gases to be emitted elsewhere.
  • Use cleaners, solvents and paints immediately and do not store them in your home instead store them in a shed or areas with good ventilation.
  • Clear out old or excess items that contain products with VOCS from home but do not throw them in your bin.
  • Minimise the use of candles, incense or plug-in aerosol deodorizers.
  • Regularly get some fresh air into your home by opening the windows or look at buying an air purifier.

I hope you found this article interesting. If you wish to design your new home or refurbish your long-time pad don’t hesitate to get in touch with me and I’ll be happy to help. From mood boards and spatial planning, to styling your entire home I have a very tailored approach with each of my clients.

Take a look at my social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or check out my website: for more tips and inspiration or to arrange a consultation. 


We hope that you find this information helpful, at Acre Design Newcastle we are passionate about all things sustainable and innovative. We would love to discuss your project with you in detail.

Take a look at our recent projects for further inspiration! Get in touch to arrange a free, no obligation consultation at your home!

Extension Design: Lighting


Pendant lights add a lovely, stylish finish to a room. We often see them places elegantly over dining tables or kitchen islands in the extensions we design. There is good reason for this – they look great! Whether you decide to make a statement with your lighting or subtly complement your colour scheme, there is a pendant lighting style for everyone’s taste. If your budget is IKEA or a high end designer supplier such as Chaplins, there are some beautiful options available. However, it is important to ensure your proportions are correct. Our 3D modelling software makes it easy to understand the dimensions of your project (whether it’s a self-build, extension or loft conversion) and build your interior design scheme. Ask your architect about this if you are not confident about the size of your spaces.

Tynemouth-Extension-3D-and-floorplans-examples                                  Tynemouth Extension, Newcastle, Acre Design


Choosing a pendant light that is too big may overwhelm the space and a smaller option may end up looking lost.

Sizing up:

Width of pendant: If you add the length and width of your room together and then divide this number by 12, it will give you an ideal pendant width for your space. For example, if your room measures in at 3m by 5mm, added together this makes 8m. 8m divided by 12 = approximately 67cm wide. If you are thinking of opting for a multiple pendant light, you can simply divide this by the number of pendants you’d like. So, using our example, a three pendant piece should measure in at around 22cm per shade.

Height (or drop length) of your pendant light: Firstly, multiply the floor to ceiling height of your space by 3. For example, a room that is 3m high would equal 9m. Next, divide this measurement by 12 to give the ideal height of your pendant light. Our example would therefore need a drop of 75cm to suit the space.

How low can you go? Can you go down low?

Ensuring you have adequate clearance for your furniture and family, these rules are helpful:

Where people may walk underneath your light, allow 2.13m from the floor to the bottom of your pendant. If you’d like to place your pendant above a dining table or kitchen island for example, allow around 71cm to 91cm from the bottom of the fitting to the top of the surface. For a hallway, your pendant should be at least 15cm higher than the top of your front door, unless you have a very large amount of floor space of course.

Choosing the right style

There are so many different styles of pendant lighting, so it’s wise to begin by considering the function of your lights. Thinking about the type of illumination you want for the space will also depend on the other light sources in the room. A room with large windows or bi-fold doors will need less illumination for daytime use, however you may also require task lighting in certain areas and ambient lighting in others.

Types of lighting

There are four basic forms of lighting: task, ambient, accent and decorative.

Task lights are functional, helping you to see clearly whilst working (chopping, writing etc.) If your pendant lighting will help illuminate tasks such as children completing homework, reading or chopping food, you want a fixture that aims light downwards, preferably with an open bottom. Open bottom fixtures can create too harsh a light if paired with powerful bulbs, so bulb choice is also important. If the light proves too severe, you can always swap in a lower output bulb or install a dimmer to adapt to the use of the space and time of day.

General lighting which gently illuminates a whole space is called ambient lighting. A softer, ambient fitting will create a nice intimate mood for socialising.

If you want to highlight a design feature such as an art piece or an interesting building material, you could use accent lighting. Typically, accent lighting will be a picture light, however you can target your pendant lighting if you want to draw attention to the material of your worktop or table for example by having it closer to the surface or with a brighter bulb.

For simply adding a bit of sparkle and interest, decorative lighting is effective. These do not usually cast targeted light or serve any particular purpose other than to add to the feel or mood of the room.


We hope that you find this information helpful, at Acre Design Newcastle we are passionate about all things lighting and would love to discuss your project with you in detail.

Take a look at our recent projects for further inspiration! Get in touch to arrange a free, no obligation consultation at your home!

14 Inspiring Self-Build or Extension Design Ideas

We love designing self-builds, who are we kidding… we love designing full stop. But, if you are lucky enough to be able to build your dream home from scratch, it doesn’t get much more exciting.

Developing a detailed brief with your architect is an essential stage of your build process; communicating your needs and having these understood is paramount! You get to decide how your house will look, perform and function. You are in control of the budget.

Putting extra thought into the small details will make your new home truly exceptional. We love working with clients to help their dreams come to life, so we’ve put together some inspirational self-build design ides to get your creative juices flowing.

#1 How about a sunken bath?

Now, we LOVE a nice freestanding roll-top bath or a trendy ‘egg’ shaped bath. However, there’s something about incorporating a sunken bath into your self-build or home renovation design that gives off such an exquisitely opulent, organised feel. When the lighting is right, your bath can become a real treasure in your home. It doesn’t take much designing in and this element could really make your home stand out from the rest. Imagine stepping down into a large, warm bath, filled by a generous waterfall tap… heaven.


#2 Timber cladding, inside!

With the rise in popularity of the ‘Scandi’ design style, earthy, natural feeling spaces are so fashionable. What’s more, they just make you FEEL so good. The warmth, texture and colour brought by wood cladding is so refreshing. Another good thing about interior timber cladding is it can fit a traditional or a modern taste pallet. Talk to your architect about how best to incorporate internal wood finishes, it may sound trivial but when it is planned well, it can look incredible!

#3 Not just a kitchen island…

Installing a kitchen island has become a bit of a must when designing a kitchen. We love the idea of getting creative with your island. Making your kitchen island a focal point will create a real stand out space for entertaining. Huge, sweeping designs can also add masses of storage! Have a look at our pinterest boards for further kitchen inspiration.

#4 Booze, glorious booze!

Displaying your collection of wines, spirits or beers has become a very fashionable, and, we have to admit, satisfying thing to do. Loads of our clients are designing wine fridges or racks into their kitchens. If you have the luxury of the space and it’s something that floats your boat, why not think about making a feature of your collection? We’ve designed wine storage to meet traditional tastes as well as crisp, modern looks and we have loved all of them.

#5 Hidden ceiling lighting

Adding some secret, hidden LED lighting is a fantastic way to soften a space and create a warm, inviting, homely feel. This can also be a nice opportunity to add some colour to your interior design scheme too! Thinking about this at this stage allows you to incorporate crevices for lighting in your build, making it much easier and cheaper to install.

#6 Wood storage

Like most of our clients and us, you probably love the romantic idea of a wood burner. They are becoming more and more popular and for good reason: they are good for the soul! If you haven’t already read about the Danish idea of Hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”), get reading. What freedom is to Americans, Hygge is to the Danes. The idea of Hygge is about finding joy in simple, cosy things such as: candles, blankets, fireplaces and so on. There is even a word for that favourite pair of jogging bottoms that you would only wear in the comfort of your own home – “Hyggebusker”. To us, a crackling fire surrounded by neatly organised wood piles is the epitome of cosy calm. Thinking about incorporating wood storage into the design of your home takes it from a pile to a beautiful feature.

#7 Pocket doors? What are they?

Pocket doors are a stylish space saving solution. They slide effortlessly into your wall, removing the space reduction and layout limitations of an opening door. Plus, we think they look pretty stylish. You’ll need to think about having your architect design these in as the adjacent wall will need a cavity for the door to slide into and you’ll need to avoid any plumbing and wiring.

#8 Non-standard doorways

Pocket doors could be really effective with a non-standard doorway. Thinking outside the box on door openings could create a truly exceptional space. A standard door opening is great but imagine one that mimics the angles and lines of your roof or windows. Or perhaps a curved opening could add a softer touch to your design?

#9 Stylish storage

If, like us, you love everything to have a place; it is well worth considering your built-in storage early on in your design process. When building a new extension or self-build home, you have the perfect opportunity to create storage that is perfect for your belongings. You could make an inventory of any bulky items or things you have a lot of (shoes for example) and then think about where they would be used and how you could create a stylish storage solution within your design.

#10 Relaxing window seats, with a view…

The window seat always adds a traditional, peaceful, elegant touch. We’ve incorporated a lot of these into our extension designs recently. A window seat can turn your open-plan lounge/kitchen/diner into a tranquil haven for you and your family. Incorporating one or more of these in your self-build project can add a special space for you to sit, reflect and deeply enjoy the space that you have created. If you love your garden, can you imagine anything more satisfying than sitting on a rainy day and looking out onto your hard work? See our post on window choices to add some even more exciting dimensions to this idea!

#11 Marvellous mezzanines

Our team get a little excited if a client mentions the word ‘mezzanine’. There is something beautifully dramatic about creating a grand, yet practical split space. Utilising a mezzanine floor as your office, play or relaxation space means that you can incorporate a vaulted ceiling without feeling overpowered by the enormous space. When you incorporate a high-volume ceiling, this also gives you the opportunity to use giant, invigorating windows. Winner!


#12 Work with nature

If you are building a self-build project or adding an extension, looking at the natural make-up of the plot is vital. Trees and other natural elements don’t have to be a hindrance. Try working alongside your architect to use these elements as starting points for your design. Obviously, careful consideration and planning needs to go in to designs around trees; roots can require engineered and creative solutions!

#13 A sheltered outdoor space

By continuing an interior wall to the outside of your home, you can break down boundaries between the garden and your home. In Newcastle and the North East, also adding a covered area for shelter from the elements is great common sense too. If you incorporate bifold or sliding doors/windows, these outside spaces can make your new space feel gigantic.

#14 Outdoor fireplace

If you love relaxing outdoors but are realistically pessimistic about the amount of time you can spend doing this in Newcastle, an outdoor fireplace might be for you. Chimeneas and firepits are readily available in DIY stores, however an integrated fireplace outdoors would make an incredible centrepiece for entertaining or relaxing after a long day. You could even ensure that the fire was visible from both inside and out.

The Team @ Acre Design hope we have given you some food for thought! Please check out or latest projects if you’d like to see more of what we’re made of. Our Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook pages are all brimming with extension, loft conversion and self-build inspiration too!