Thursday, 28 April 2011

Fit for a Queen

The royal wedding is hours away and Kate, sorry Catherine and William will be settling into domestic bliss (though I'm not sure how domesticated they would actually be).

But with royalty in mind why not get a bit  regal in your own home by  adding a splash of purple. 
The colour has always been associated with royalty, as centuries ago, the king, queen, and other nobility would wear the colour in the form of robes and cloaks. It was once so time consuming and expensive to dye fabric purple that it was only royalty that could afford to wear the colour.

Fabric is also key when it comes to adding a royal and luxurious feel when decorating and one of my favourites to use is velvet. It can be used on furniture or curtains, adding to a fairly natural hued room depth and elegance. 

Not a fan of purple? How about injecting a regal feel with a chesterfield sofa. Classic and elegant in style, fit for any queen.

Or how about this bed at Babington House. 

Don't you just want to dive right in?!
Looking forward to  the big event tomorrow and THE dress!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

flower power

I'm, feeling a bit under the weather, summer has made an early appearance in the UK and so has my  summer cold!  I'm feeling a bit pants but I think I am going to cheer myself up by  buying a load of spring flowers for the house (that and some vicks!). Hopefully the flowers  will last long enough that I will get to smell them, my nose can't stay bunged up for ever.

Flowers are the "bestest" home accessory ever. I have  used flowers and flower arrangements as as inspiration for colour schemes, mother nature is the best interior designer! Styling a room with flowers that colour tone with the room scheme can look awesome. The image above and to the right are fantastic examples.
I'm hopeless at flowering arranging unlike the florist who came up with this gem below.

 It doesn't have to be a fancy arrangement to make an impact, something simple and a bit quirky like this arrangement below can look just as stunning

Right off to get more tissues!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

first things first!

My book about traits of effective leadership is a bloody good read. One of the other traits of effective leadership is first things first. It should  be  gospel too when planning a room or house refurbishment.

I've picked up the pieces so many times after a builder has been in, radiators in the wrong place (leaving no space for furniture) , sockets in the wrong place or not enough of them or clients buying furniture without checking it fits into the space first. Its has got to be the most expensive mistake not taking the time to do things in the right order.

So don't start any work without doing "first things first".

Even if you don't have the budget to do everything you want at once do the messy or architectural things first.  Its about prioritising your spend and to a certain extent being brave about what you do spend. I have learnt my lesson the hard way. All my life I have renovated houses and over the last decade as a developer looking to maximise profit. Sometimes you have to admit that sometimes spending less can be a false economy. Once of my first developments was an amazing Victorian house, the surveyor tried to convince me that spending an extra £10k on knocking the kitchen through to the diner would create an amazing space. I didn't do it as I wanted to stick to my budget. The first viewing took place when the house was finished for sale and turned it down as  they wanted an open plan living dining space! I missed my chance the market slowed down and I had to drop the price by 25k to sell it. Wish I had upped my budget.

Any way start at the beginning -
Start with space - if  walls or  doors needs to come down or move do it, it may add value to the property which you'll recoup when you sell.

Furniture, existing and potentially new furniture, draw a room to scale on paper and do the same for your your furniture and move it around on the plan until you get a logical floor plan. Its much easier than lugging furniture around too!

Do the same for Lighting and electrical points - where will the lights go, where will the sockets need to be, will I need more or to move them to work with my floor plan. Even with kitchens before you get seduced by the glossy brochures start with a b&w plan which sets out ergonomically what could work.

Same with colours, put all your fabrics, wall colours and floor covering samples on a board, don't buy anything until you are sure that you can get materials that will go together. I have seen projects  where a colour or tile has been chosen and implemented only for the client to take years to find a flooring or fabric to go with it.

Even think about  whether radiators can be moved to make them less visible or make room for more furniture. We've just had a client agree to remove their existing hall radiator which is about 1.5m long and replace it with  a vertical one which is only 0.5m wide. Which now means we can fit in a neat storage unit in to the space. The whole space is going to look so much better.

Doing the space planning stuff move may cost more money up front (moving rads, adding sockets) but needn't be a bank breaker, it will give you better results and  anything thing else will be  just be a compromise.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

it's not grey, it's not beige…. its greige

…it's Greige. I think my natural style is to gravitate towards a simple, uncomplicated natural look and I think its why I am quite taken with the whole concept of Greige (unfinished, raw and natural). Its got simplicity but a subtle drama and touch of theatre if styled with accessories sized to add impact.
That mix up of grey and beige tones delivers a calm and  contemporary look. Mix it up with  decorative antiques and vintage junk shop finds and it creates a really stunning look.

For more greige inspiration head over to  for everything beautifully greige.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

begin with the end in mind!

My previous life as strategist and business consultant sometimes rears it head and I end up  intellectualising the whole interiors design process. I was reading one of my fave blogs,  and it got me thinking, she was writing about the quest to help clients define their individual  style. To me that's just half the battle the next  step is sticking to a style. I have come across lots of homes where different styles have been designed  in every room.  May be individual, but wow,  it makes the house feeling really unrestful and not at all calm. I've done it myself I have wanted to create a contemporary look then drifted and the look has its ended up more traditional in other rooms.

 Then this came to mind – Steven Covey a immanent american management guru said that one of the 7 traits of highly successful leadership is to “begin with the end in mind” . Crikey this should apply to anybody about to decorate their homes house!! Evolve and mix and match but begin with an overall end style in mind.

Key musts

Overall style. Rip out images from books, magazines of furniture, room sets, colours and styles. Find the common thread that attracts them to you, is it a colour theme that inspiring you, is it a french vintage style or cottagey look. Then create a collage or mood board. Think about the colours, shapes and textures that are part of this style.  Use it to remind yourself what it is your trying to achieve. When your making that choice on say a sofa or a light refer back to your board to check it fits. Stay focussed it will save you money in the long term. I have seen so many spaces where furniture has been bought randomly only for it to jar with existing pieces.

Regroup - look at what you already have if it doesn't fit me ruthless, find a new space for it elsewhere, store it away, sell it or see if it can be customised to fit in with the style you are trying to achieve. 

Colour - If you are thinking about decorating a whole house create a colour board and experiment with colours on this. Put together shades of colours which come from the same colour family or if their from different colour families make sure that the are toning colours.

For example Colour families - Farrown and Balle Skimming Stone, Elephants breath, Charleston Grey

Shopping - try rationalising  where you shop, it will stop you from wandering!. Look for shops that sell items that focus on  the look your after. Country Cottage try Garden Trading, oriental try Andrew Martin.

Fittings - minimise the number of floor coverings through the house. If you do have different floor coverings make sure the tones of the wood, carpet of tile tones. I once counted 14 different floor coverings in a house it makes spaces feel really small.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

hello Doily

I am a bit of a fan of vintage and love finding ways of incorporating a vintage look  into homes. One thing I'm an now itching to design is an interior with a a doily design feature, inspired after coming across this post at dos family where they've created an amazing doily lampshade.

I forgot how versatile, these once passe,  little things can be. These are  some of the amazing doily designs I have come across

Update a plain vase with a fabric Doily

Add the to a simple cushion cover. 

or even if you can't find a place for them in the home then why not personalise presents with paper doily's.