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Things are hotting up in the kitchen (showroom)

If you’re a regular reader of my blog (thank you lovely people) you’ll know I do a lot of work with Cockermouth Kitchen Company (aka CKC) and have designed their new showroom which is due to open in September *jigs about excitedly*. Getting the layout right was probably the biggest challenge. The main showroom is a massive 175 square metres but we needed to accommodate kitchens, customer service desks, displays for door samples, worktops, taps, handles and brochures, oh and some space for actually walking around….We also needed to use some of the space for the back office which will straddle the main showroom and the rear showroom – another whopping 100 square metres currently earmarked for bathroom and bedroom displays. It doesn’t look much from the street but it’s like the Tardis inside and I’m about to turn it into a retail space to rival IKEA.

Spatial planning is so important in retail as you’re never short of product to display and suppliers are vying to get their goods on show, but the space needs to flow and feel bright, clear and uninterrupted. After much hair pulling (and not just mine) I got there and the new showroom will have 11 complete kitchens, 2 customer service desks and plenty of room for samples.

Floor plan for Cockermouth Kitchen showroom

Floor plan for the new showroom at Cockermouth Kitchen Company

Next major headache challenge was designing the kitchen displays. Now I could have filled it with the top sellers but then it would basically be a white and grey showroom, not exactly gonna to draw the crowds in… But if you go the other way, i.e. multi-coloured mayhem, customers won’t trust you to deliver their dream kitchen. So there has to be balance. Give the displays in the window a little WOW to get them to look up from their smartphones and into the window, then once you’ve lured them inside show them something they’ll like but tempt them with a few other ideas. And it’s all about the complete picture. I go in some showrooms and their kitchens are so badly dressed its criminal. You know what I’m talking about, no lights or tiles, just the obligatory bottle of olive oil next to the hob, a jar of dried pasta and a set of cheap tea, coffee and sugar canisters. Inspiring? No.

This is the image that made me buy my own kitchen from CKC. It’s from the 1909 range that they offer and I just thought, if they can deliver this then I’m in.

Traditional 'pencilled and scalloped' kitchen from the 1909 range by PWS

Traditional ‘pencilled and scalloped’ kitchen from the 1909 range by PWS

Of course my own kitchen looks very little like this as I then got my interior design head on and started racking up a huge bill incorporating features I’ve always wanted. Click the pic to read more on this.

1909 kitchen pencilled and scalloped designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors

The kitchen at Chez Wilson

The average kitchen costs £15k so its a big investment, and why most peoples kitchens are at least 10 years old. But the great thing about kitchens is that you can design a very simple kitchen that won’t date, and then style it with tiles, lighting, seating or accessories that are more easily changed when the time comes for a new look. Coming up with all that for the 11 new kitchens was a lot of fun.

“So what’s it all going to look like” I hear you shout (in my dreams..) All in good time my friends, all in good time. But here’s a sneak preview of some of the things you can expect to see on opening day.

A modern take on the natural oak kitchen - clean lines and simple slab doors. Natural knotty oak by Schuller

A modern take on the natural oak kitchen – clean lines and simple slab doors

A traditional larder with more practical pull out shelving

Traditional larder with practical pull out shelving

Attingham Seagrass Geometric design tiles from Topps Tiles

Attingham geometric tiles – one of the striking tile ranges we’ve chosen from Topps tiles our partner for the showroom

Dekton Trillium worktop by Cosentino inspired by the look of oxidized steel

Dekton Trillium worktop by Cosentino – the finish was inspired by the look of oxidized steel.

A modern take on the traditional Belfast sink - a steel apron fronted sink

A modern take on the traditional Belfast sink – a steel apron fronted sink

Clear 10 light cluster pendant light

Clear 10 light cluster – no longer available from BHS (sob). Every kitchen includes feature lighting.

So that’s enough teasers for now. It’s been a fabulous project. I’ve wanted to kill a few people along the way for omitting to tell me I can’t have certain items when I’ve designed the whole bloody kitchen round said items (you know who you are….). And not having the same floor space as IKEA I couldn’t have everything I wanted. And I keep seeing new things I want which is very frustrating. I saw this idea the other day, a splashblack and breakfast bar made from a quartz that has translucent patches that allow the light from LED’s behind and below to filter through. Bloody genius. *scowls furiously for not being clever enough to have thought of this, and no room in the showroom for it now*

Quartz splashback backlit with LED in PWS Design Centre

Quartz splashback backlit with LED

Quartz breakfast bar lit from below with LED

Quartz breakfast bar lit from below with LED

So the countdown to opening day has started. Keep checking back for updates.

Mirror mirror on the wall

The life of an interior designer is sometimes a little schizophrenic. Right now I’m flitting between period elegance, simple scandinavian, cool contemporary and boutique chic. Different customers, (or that would be one crazy looking house), different styles and different briefs. But the common denominator is the simple mirror. It doesn’t matter what your style or budget I’m always going to throw in a mirror or two. And I’m not just talking about the obvious places, i.e. over the fireplace or above the bathroom sink. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to decorating with mirrors. I’ve also got a list of places where you should not hang a mirror. Interested?

Decorating with mirrors

Art is very personal and it might take years to find something you like enough to hang on your walls that you can afford. It might sound dramatic but you may never find anything you like. Retailers like Next know that, which is why they produce shelf loads of bland canvases in the same colours as that seasons soft furnishings to save you even looking for artwork. But instead of settling for a bland canvas or a stock poster from IKEA why not hang a mirror.

Feature gold sunburst mirror

Feature sunburst mirror – image via Pinterest

If you can’t find or afford a huge feature mirror like this gorgeous sunburst one then use a set. This lovely set of three is £159 from Furniture in Fashion but you don’t need to spend a fortune. You can pick up great mirrors in places like Argos or Wilko for under £20. Like cushions, they don’t need to be the same size or style, just stick with the same colour palette and hang them in  rows or clusters.

Set of three decorative gold mirrors

Trio of gold mirrors from Furniture in Fashion

Or create a feature using frameless mirror tiles. Homebase and IKEA sell packs of 30cm square mirror tiles for under a tenner. If you do have a few quid more to spend Notonthehighstreet.com have packs of 20cm hexagonal tiles for (gulp) £185.00. Very on trend tho.

Hexagonal mirror tiles

Collection of hexagonal mirror tiles – image via Pinterest

I like to mix mirrors in with pictures (and sometime other random oddities) to expand and add more interest to the arrangement.

Gallery wall including pictures and mirrors

Collection of pictures and mirrors – image via Houzz

And if you can’t find any pictures or family photos you like but still want a gallery wall then just use mirrors.

Gallery wall of mirrors

Gallery wall of mirrors – image via Houzz

This is also a great way of breaking up a wall if you want to paint it a really bold colour but don’t have the balls are worried it might be too much.

Gallery wall of metallic mirrors

Collection of metallic mirrors – image via Houzz

Mirror Image

Mirrors are obviously great for bouncing light around a room but if you hang them facing a window or side on they will also reflect the view. So it doesn’t matter if you were last to the dining table or you have to sit with your back to the window to watch the telly you can still see the view.

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Mirrors reflect light and the view – image via Houzz

Mirrors either side of the bed increase the glam factor of even the most glamorous bed, and will reflect the light from your bedside lights – double whammy.

Glamorous bedroom with large mirrors either side of the bed

Uber glam bedroom – image via Houzz

And just when you thought they’d done enough, mirrors can also create the illusion of space, elongating a room or adding height.

God I love this room….the reflection of that pitched roof creates amazing symmetry and you get twice as much chandelier.

Mirrored wall and doors visually double the size of this room

Mirrored walls and doors visually double the size of this room – image via Houzz

So where should you not put mirrors?

  1. On the back of the bathroom door if your toilet faces the door. Enough said.
  2. On your wardrobe doors if you’ll be able to see your reflection when you open your eyes in the morning.
  3. Above the bath, unless its high enough that you can only see your head and shoulders.
  4. Facing the shower, again unless its at head height. Never have a long mirror facing the shower. I bet not even Heidi Klum wants to see herself showering.
  5. Above the bed. It’s not the 70’s and you’re not a porn star.

So the answer is basically anywhere you might catch your reflection when you’re naked and/or not looking your best. Mirrors should be used to decorate and illuminate not kill our self esteem.

Vintage mirrors in bathroom

Vintage mirror hung above the bath in one of my recent projects

So time to chuck out that IKEA poster?

Behold the Boutique-Victorian Mashup Bathroom

That’s quite a title isn’t it? But a grand bathroom like the one I’m about to show you deserves a grand title, and oh lordy what a transformation. Shall we jump right in with a few fabulous before pics?

Bathroom design before images

Dated cramped shower and my biggest pet hate, no alcoves for shampoo and conditioner

Bathroom design before images

More pet hates, free standing storage and cluttered sinks

Bathroom design before pictures

Just two words. Orange bath….

The homeowner has a lovely Victorian townhouse and wanted a mixture of new and traditional in the new bathroom. I actually quite liked the existing sink and toilet and the taps, and they wouldn’t have been out of place in a new bathroom with some traditional features but the homeowner was adamant, she wanted a completely new bathroom, and who am I to argue…. (Cue rubbing of hands with glee at prospect of picking new stuff…)

I love a monochrome bathroom but they can look a little stark, and as I’d just turned the homeowner on to the idea of colour after painting her bedroom pink (see the pink bedroom project) I needed to inject a little colour into the bathroom. I plumped for bottle green after spotting some green glass bottles in a local homeware shop, which got me thinking about peacock feathers, and before you could say wowzers I had a plan with wow factor.

Bathroom design moodboard

The Boutique-Victorian mashup moodboard

The focal point in the new bathroom is without a shadow of a doubt the free standing double ended slipper bath. Now if you’re going to have a fabulous bath like this one it needs to stand out. When I told the homeowner I wanted to panel half the wall behind and paint it all black she was a little shocked but thankfully decided to trust me. So what do you think – was I right?

Bathroom - double ended slipper bath against a black panelled wall and lit from below

Free standing feature bath

The panelling is from an eBay seller who can make whatever style or size you want. It’s made of water resistant MDF so fine for a bathroom and only cost £110 including delivery.

Deck lights used in a bathroom to light a free standing bath from below

In floor spotlights light the bath from below and provide a useful night light

The bath was a real bargain too, only £400 from Bathandshower.com. Look how glam it looks lit from below. Just the right amount of light for those late night bathroom visits, or more importantly soaking in the bath with a glass of wine….We used outdoor deck lights so it wouldn’t matter if water sloshed over the edge of the bath. The guys at my local electrical wholesalers told me I could submerge them or stand on them and they’d still work. If you’re wondering what the lights are above the bath its just the reflection from a row of glass tealight holders sitting on a shelf I got the fitter to fit on top of the panelling. You gotta have candlelight when you take a bath.

Those fabulous Victorian style floor tiles were also a bargain at around £20 a square metre. They’re called Harrow Grafito and I bought them from Roccia (formerly Tile Mart) in Preston. If you’re up that way its worth popping into their enormous showroom for a nosy. (If you see Ben say hi from me).

I decided early on in the process, before I’d even picked a colour scheme, that this bathroom was going to have an antique marble topped washstand. A modern vanity unit just wasn’t going to cut it. And I found a beauty in one of my regular haunts, Old Mill Antiques in Manchester.

Antique marble topped washstand in a Victorian boutique style bathroom

Antique marble topped washstand

I intentionally picked an oval sink and mirror to match the shape of the bath and the sink looks beautiful sat on top of that grey marble. The cut glass accessories are also a great fit. They’re from Homesense (aka land of amazing finds). Oh and see that black leather cube bottom left? It’s an ottoman doubling as a laundry bin, or somewhere to sit your book when you’re climbing into the bath. Assuming of course you have time to read in the bath….It does three jobs and was only £10 (from Dunelm) – now that’s what I call a bargain.

Bathroom - Grey marble topped antique washstand with oval sink, traditional taps and cut glass accessories

Oval sink and traditional taps and cut glass accessories

If I could only give you one bathroom tip (which would make for a very short blog), it would be to always install the biggest shower you can and get your fitter to build a false wall so that you can have alcoves for shampoo bottles. I hate cramped shower cubicles, and I want to cry when I see those horrible metal baskets stuck to the walls, or worse still shampoo bottles sitting in the shower tray…..

Bathroom - Large rectangular shower enclosure with traditional shower and lighting in alcove

Large rectangular enclosure with traditional shower and lighting in alcove

The homeowner was worried the shower enclosure was going to be too big but again she trusted me and was glad she did. I have to give the fitter Ben Butler credit for the light in the alcove as it was his idea – nice touch eh?

Bathroom - lighting in shower enclosure

Lighting in alcove

I also wanted to mention the paintwork as I guess it’s not every day you see black woodwork. But it’s a great way to frame light coloured walls.  I love the black door. The wall colour is called Sleeping Inn by Valspar which is white with a touch of grey. The black paint colour is Downing Street by Valspar, very topical at the moment…..

Bathroom door and woodwork painted in Downing Street by Valspar

Door and new skirting boards painted in Downing Street by Valspar

As Charles Eames said, “The details are not the details. They make the design”. Which is why I hunted for the right toilet roll holder until I found this one on eBay. It might seem trivial to some but like the washstand a modern one would have looked out of place.

Bathroom - Reproduction Victorian style toilet roll holder

Reproduction Victorian style toilet roll holder

I bought both the vintage frameless mirrors on eBay for a total of £60. It amazes me that these mirrors can be picked up so cheaply as I think they’re beautiful. The peacock artwork is also from an eBay seller. I bought 4 for £22.50 and framed them in black frames from Wilko.

Bathroom - Vintage bevelled edge frameless mirror and peacock artwork

Vintage bevelled edge frameless mirror and peacock artwork

I always like to add personal touches to my designs that the customer will appreciate. In this case it’s these lights I made using battery operated fairly lights from IKEA and cut glass decanters from a charity shop. The homeowner loved them.

Bathroom - battery operated fairy lights in vintage cut glass decanters

Battery operated fairy lights in cut glass decanters

So what do you think of my Boutique-Victorian mashup, is this a bathroom with wow factor?

Come collaborate with me

Some might think its easy being an interior designer. I mean it’s just picking paint and furniture isn’t it? (Raises left eyebrow sarcastically). But I would challenge anyone who thinks it’s easy to design a room for someone they just met and get it right first time.

People rarely know exactly what they want. If they did they wouldn’t need an interior designer. And don’t be thinking their homes provide all the answers. Yes there are clues, but most peoples homes include (a) things they like, (b), things they once liked but don’t any more, (c) things they bought on a temporary basis and never replaced (I suspect this accounts for a large chunk of IKEA sales…), and (d) things they never liked but were either gifts, inherited or came with their partner when they moved in….You all know the conversation, “no no, I want you to feel like this is your home, so of course you can bring your (insert offending item)”. Be grateful if it’s only a novelty phone, and no I’m not telling you what Mr W has inflicted on me over the years.

Novelty Homer Simpson telephone

Novelty Homer Simpson telephone

So a big part of being an interior designer is figuring out what a customer will like and I’m proud to say that so far I have a 100% success rate. But as the title of this blog suggests, I do my homework. After I’ve snooped around their home looking for clues (with their permission of course), I interrogate them ask a whole bunch of questions. Depending on the customer I sometimes use images to draw out what they like, and encourage all my customers to send me pics of anything that catches their eye.

Houzz has a fabulous Ideabook tool which facilitates this process. I recently collaborated with one customer using this tool. Between us we uploaded 20+ images. She added things she liked and I added a range of rooms and colour schemes to test what she’d told me she liked and didn’t like.

Monochrome Scandi style bedroom in Ideabook on Houzz

This image helped me rule out purely monochrome schemes as the customers husband said this room was too grey

We don’t realise how much info we take in when we look at a picture, which we subconsciously judge, categorise and file for potentially future use. When you get someone to really look and pick out what they like or don’t like it and then summarise the findings for them it can often surprise them.

Blue and grey Scandi style living room added to an Ideabook in Houzz

A room my customer liked after telling me she didn’t like blue unless it was her jeans.

I use this tool for elements within a design too. I have one customer who has a split level bungalow and we want to replace the staircases. I know I know, you’re now thinking ‘bungalows don’t have stairs’. Well they do if they’re built on a hillside. The bungalow is all single-storey but you have to climb a few stairs to pass between some of the rooms. I used an ideabook to show the customer images of different contemporary staircases so we could agree on the design.

Lighting on staircase in Ideabook on Houzz

I used this image to show the customer how we could light up their new staircases

Many of my customers have no idea how much it might cost to update their home. When this is the case I help them by putting together an estimate based on what they want to do and the look they are aiming for. We then use this to establish a budget, which I make sure we stick to. This is why I’ll never be the next Kevin McCLoud or George Clarke – who wants to watch a homeowner achieve their budget, or heaven forbid underspend…..

I usually come up with a plan for a new customer quite quickly and will often run this by them to check I’m on the right track, and maybe show them the colour palette I’m thinking of using. If I get a positive response then I’ll start working on the designs.

Colour palette for Scandi style new build project

The colour palette I agreed with my customer for her Scandi inspired new build after collaborating on an Ideabook

Depending on the size or scope of the project it can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks to pull it all together. When I’m doing full houses I like to start with one or two rooms so the customer can get comfortable with my work. I find that gaining their trust early on speeds up the whole process – no need to keep checking back.

By the time I’ve finished designing a room I’ll have a presentation for the customer which includes a mood board, floor plan, samples of any flooring, fabric etc. and a list of everything to go in the room, where it’s from and how much it will all cost.

Mood board by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd for a kitchen project

Mood board for a recent kitchen project

And then the real work starts.

I book all the tradespeople, order everything we need and then watch it all like a paranoid control freak hawk until the work is done and they’re ready for me to come and add the finishing touches. This is where I  can relate to Mr McCloud and Mr Clarke. Things never go smoothly however organised and efficient you are. Things will break. Deliveries will not turn up. Tradespeople will get delayed. You just need to be ‘on it like a car bonnet’ which fortunately is my specialty.

Now most people would find this exceptionally stressful, but not me, I thrive on it. And the satisfaction when you’re finished and the customer is beaming makes it all worth while.

Customer review for Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

So if you were one of those people who thought my job was easy, do you still think so?

 

 

 

How many interior designers does it take to change a lightbulb?

Don’t worry I’m not venturing into the world of stand up comedy. Anyone who has heard me tell a joke knows that would be a mistake. But I would like to update the joke from how many (insert  profession, nationality, gender etc) does it take to change a lightbulb, to how long does it take them. I say this because ‘fess up, how many of you have:

  1. Left a lightbulb unchanged after it has blown for more than a month
  2. Put up a new light and stuck an ugly lightbulb in it just to get it lit then never got round to putting a better one in
  3. Noticed that each lightbulb in your matching pendant or ceiling lights is a different colour or wattage and done nothing about it
  4. All of the above

I’m an interior designer and I would have to tick option 4.

But today I smacked myself round the chops and sorted out all my lightbulb laziness in one fell swoop. I could tell you that I drew up an inventory of lightbulbs needed, did weeks of extensive research, placed multiple orders and spent half a day correcting all my mistakes, but I’d be lying.  Here’s what really happened.

It started with these lovely cage lights.

Lights vintage industrial Edison cage wall sconce lights

Image via Amazon

I wanted two for my utility room which has just had a makeover (more on that soon). I found them on Amazon for £20.99 each with free delivery thanks to my Amazon Prime membership, which BTW paid for itself in no time at all thanks to all the stuff I order online. I liked the size, the price and the fact they are hinged so the cage can point up, down, sideways or at a jaunty angle. I also liked how good they look with a filament lightbulb

Lightess vintage industrial Edison cage wall sconce light

Image via Amazon

What I didn’t realise though was that I would need a lightbulb that would fit through the cage as the neck of the cage is really narrow. So in the interim I stuck some ugly but skinny LED lightbulbs in (see below…) and went on the hunt for pretty ones.

Ugly narrow 60W LED lightbulb

A lot of the filament lightbulbs available have been designed for restaurants and bars, who want moody or romantic lighting not an airport runway so they tend to be 40W max. My utility room is below ground with one tiny window looking onto my garden path so I needed at least 60W if I wanted to stop mixing my darks with whites. After a couple of evenings on the couch I finally found these beauties on Amazon.

KINGSO E27 T10 60W vintage Edison style carbon filamented lightbulb

Image via Amazon

LED? Check. Right size? Check. Bright enough? Check. Pretty? Check. Right price? Hell yes. £10.68 for a pack of 6 with free Amazon Prime delivery which works out at just £1.78 each and 3000 hours of bright and beautiful light per lightbulb. Bingo. They’re from KingSo a US retailer but available on Amazon through Lerpby

KINGSO 6 pack of E27 T10 60W Vintage Edison style carbon filament lightbulbs

Image via Amazon

And this my friends is how my other lightbulb mistakes got fixed. I used two to replace the ugly ones in the utility room. I then had a lightbulb moment (I had to get that in somewhere) and put one in the landing light as the lightbulb blew last month. In my defence when it’s light from 4am to 10.30pm its hard to motivate yourself to rummage in the garage for a replacement, carry a chair upstairs to stand on, fiddle with the awkward screws that hold the very fragile amber glass shade in place and change the lightbulb. Apologies for the naff picture. It’s really hard to photograph a lit lightbulb, especially when there’s a window in the background.

John Lewis amber glass pendant light with filament lightbulb

As an aside filament lightbulbs look lovely in clear glass but they are in their element (no pun intended) in amber glass shades – see.

How a filament lightbulb looks in clear glass versus amber glass

I put the last three in my summer house where I had managed to commit all three sins. A blown lightbulb, an ugly lightbulb, and a mix of different coloured lightbulbs (one cool white and two warm white). Now doesn’t that look better.

Pendant lighting in Nordic style summer house / bar

If this has caused you to look round your home and acknowledge all the broken, ugly and mismatched lightbulbs you own, and you’re considering the filament route Nook London has a great range of shapes and sizes. Most are 40W but you could go for a large globe and lose the shade. Or install a cluster of the same lightbulbs….

Three bulb pendant light with filament lightbulb from Notonthehighstreet

Image via Notonthehighstreet.com

or a cluster of different lightbulb shapes or filament styles.

Cluster of mismatched filament lightbulb from Fritz Fryer

Image via Fritz Fryer

If you can’t find a multi-pendant light you like you can fit multiple pendants or get your electrician to fit them under one ceiling rose. Coloured cable adds a bit of extra impact. Or create a modern chandelier by fitting ceiling hooks and looping the cable through them. If you’re feeling adventurous Nook London have all the accessories you’ll ever need.

Modern chandelier using multiple filament lightbulb and ceiling hooks

Image via Pinterest

Last point before i stop waffling. Don’t think you have to betray your local retailers and shop online to get the best range and prices. Find the lights you like and show them to your local guys, sometimes they can source the same or a similar item for the same price or even less as I found out recently when my local retailer ordered a bathroom light for me for half the price of a major online retailer.

So right go – fix that lightbulb laziness right now.

Come in for a ‘crack’ the refurb is finished

I’ve been learning a whole new language since I moved to Cumbria, the latest word being flartching. Before you try Google translate, don’t bother. For all you offcomers there’s a dictionary at the end. And FYI it was my dog that was described as a flartch not me, but to be fair we’ve both been known to flartch to get our own way. Other words that have now entered my vocabulary include ratching, laal and lonnin. I’ve even uttered ‘aas gan yam’ once or twice but I might have had a few… Now I wouldn’t skelp you for assuming that Cumbrian words were corruptions of English words, I used to be feckless too. But according to historians Cumbrian isn’t a dialect it’s a complete language. You only have to hear my neighbour Harold yammering with his old pals if you need evidence. But what’s this got to do with interior design you’re thinking? Well stop your twining I’m getting to it.

Joe Fagan is a proud Cumbrian, Cockermouth born and bred and a local businessman. He is also the landlord of The Swan Inn in Cockermouth and I’ve been helping him with a refurb.

The Swan, a traditional 18th century lakeland inn on historic Kirkgate in Cockermouth

When Joe took over the pub he just gave it a quick lick of paint, but after a great year of increasing customer numbers he wanted to show the regulars his gratitude and invest some of his own money in smartening up the place. His brief was quite clear though, we needed to retain all the character but tidy it up without it being unrecognisable to the regulars, i.e. a change without change. We also needed to acknowledge the various communities that used the pub, which included rugby fans, a brass band, folk singers, the quiz team and scrabble fans. Some brief eh? Shall we start with a few before images so you know what I was working with?

Cumbria, The Swan Inn Cockermouth

Cumbria, The Swan Inn Cockermouth

Cumbria, The Swan Inn Cockermouth

I’ll summarise…

Decor Positives

  1. Original beams
  2. Original sash windows
  3. Natural zones – two lounges, a bar area and TV/darts room
  4. A few good pieces of furniture
  5. Lots of nice prints and photos of the local area
  6. Some vintage paraphernalia we could use to accessorise

Decor Negatives

  1. Bright red, chipped paint
  2. A mixture of REALLY ugly lights
  3. Some cheap pine furniture
  4. Faded curtains covering the windows
  5. Horrible pub carpet
  6. A jumble sale of cheap picture frames, dying plants and crockery
  7. Horse brasses…..

Want to see it now? Well come on into the bar for a deekabout, just watch your napper.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

Much more inviting me thinks. Now lets move from the bar into the lower lounge, rarely used before but now much more popular. We moved all the old pews down there which really helps with the layout.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

It’s also much brighter without the old curtains and you can now see the lovely sash windows.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

Come on through to what the regulars are now calling The Library. You wouldn’t believe how many people have admired the new bookcase….

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

Pub goers love a good conversation point and this wallpaper has certainly given them that.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

Obviously the new lights have swan necks, and I’ve added a few swans here and there. This pair came from a shop in Lisbon of all places.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

I pillaged all the local charity shops for old books to scatter round the place as I love the character of an old book. If you pop in take a closer look there are some great reads among them.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

This is one of only two lights that survived as it makes quite a nice feature between the lounge and the library.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

I often tell customers that if there are 10 things they want to change but can only change 7 the other 3 won’t look so bad anyway, and this is definitely the case with the upholstery. Yes it is a little worn but it should be in a pub this old.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

So this is ‘band corner’ a small area we have dedicated to the local brass band. The alcove has been papered with some very discreet musical note wallpaper, and there are pics of the band and a few instruments on the wall. They love the umbrella stand which I am told is an E-Flat Base not a Tuba.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

I think the transformation is most obvious in the TV/Darts room. We’ve decorated with old pictures of the local rugby team and a few vintage rugby items. I let Joe keep one pub mirror but only because it has the local Jennings brewery on it.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

The regulars love the new toilet signs. They also serve as a distraction, I don’t think anyone has noticed I’ve taken down all the horse brasses.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

The bar rules are my favourite addition. The football lads can get a little rowdy you know…..

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

The signs above the arch are actually essential. Not for me and the landlord, us being a little vertically challenged, but the signs make everyone else take note before passing through. Keeps the accident numbers down.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

So what do you think? Fancy a pint?

You should pop in if you’re in the area. Mr W tells me that Joe keeps the best beer in Cumbria and he always has time for a crack with everyone.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

Cumbrian – English Translation

  1. Flartching – flirting
  2. Offcomer – non-native of Cumbria
  3. Ratching – rummaging
  4. Laal – little
  5. Lonnin – lane
  6. Aas gan yam – I’m going home
  7. Kelp – slap
  8. Yammering – speaking quickly and unintelligibly
  9. Twining – complaining
  10. Deekabout – look around
  11. Napper – head
  12. Crack – gossip, banter
  13. Lasses – women
  14. Marras – in West Cumbria women refer to their male partners as marras but its also a general term for mate or friend
  15. Grotting, gollering and brawling – spitting, shouting and fighting

The blue living room

I have some fabulous customers. They invite me in for a cuppa and a chat when I drop things off, and they give me presents and send me thank you cards. One customer is particularly lovely. She saves her eggs boxes for me, and has given me a number of things for my garden. She recently started saving me the interiors pages out of her Sunday paper for me, and thanks to an intro she made to a local estate agent I have a couple of potential jobs in the pipeline. She even calls me when she spots a new house going up somewhere so I can drop off my business card. I should be paying her. Which is why I’m so happy with how her living room turned out. It is quite a transformation even if I do say so myself but then it was looking pretty tired, see…

Living room before image

A lot of dusky pink and dark wood, and some very dated lights and soft furnishings.

Living room before image

There’s an empty fireplace hidden behind that coffee table and speakers…

Living room before image

But its a good size room and they had a budget that could potentially stretch to a complete makeover if I shopped around a bit.

After pondering the right look for them and their home I proposed an elegant scheme of blue and natural linen colours with a few pink accents for warmth. They were open to the idea of painting all the woodwork white and removing the dado rail, and providing we could do it within budget they also liked the idea of replacing the fireplace and adding a new fire.

Living room mood board by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

So are you ready?

The Blue Living Room Reveal

Tada!

Living room with Valspar Windblown blue and linen colour scheme with pale pink accents and Laura Ashley soft furnishings

What a difference eh?  I LOVE the colours in this room. The wall paint is called Windblown by Valspar and its a grown up, classical looking, powdery blue (if I can use that many words to describe a paint colour) with a hint of grey which takes it far enough away from looking like a childs nursery but still keeps the room looking light.

The new white stone fireplace looks very elegant, and the white woodwork frames the walls and almost makes their teak coffee table glow. (I’m getting quite poetic tonight aren’t I).

Living room with Valspar Windblown blue and linen colour scheme with pale pink accents and Laura Ashley soft furnishings

So the lighting is from Laura Ashley as are the curtains, all purchased in their sale so massive savings. They purchased the sofa and armchair after I sent them to look at another sale sofa at a local retailer. Apparently that one wasn’t comfy enough (which is why you should always send customers to test sofas) but this was and the same colours so fitted perfectly. Also in the sale so further savings made.

Living room with Valspar Windblown blue and linen colour scheme with pale pink accents and Laura Ashley soft furnishings

They used to have glass panelled doors between the living room and dining room but when their son moved back home they replaced them with solid doors to give him privacy as his room was beyond the dining room. They still had the old doors and privacy was no longer an issue so we brought them back which instantly made the room lighter. We carried the dining room carpet through into the living room (not literally obvs, we bought some more), and bought a second pair of the Laura Ashley curtains for the dining room so the rooms now flowed.

We actually finished the room before Christmas but the homeowners then agreed with me that they did need a second armchair so we had to wait for the one on the right to arrive.

Living room with Valspar Windblown blue and linen colour scheme with pale pink accents and Laura Ashley soft furnishings

They have some lovely traditional paintings and artwork around the house so we re-hung some of it in the living room, and now that the wallpaper and dado rail has gone the artwork becomes more of a feature and looks great against the blue walls.

Living room with Valspar Windblown blue and linen colour scheme with pale pink accents and Laura Ashley soft furnishings

I’d already planned to include some pink accents before Pantone announced their colour of the year for 2016, which is actually two colours, a pale blue and a pale pink. So the colour scheme is bang on trend,

Living room with Valspar Windblown blue and linen colour scheme with pale pink accents and Laura Ashley soft furnishings

They’d been against the idea of table lamps as apparently one of their grandchildren likes to do cartwheels in the living room (don’t we all) and they were concerned about accidents. Now I don’t like to be pushy but the room really needed at least one table lamp so I casually presented this little bargain to them when I went round to take the photos (£23 from Dunelm) and they decided to chance it. I also think it needs a rug and when I find the right one I’ll casually present that too….

Living room with Valspar Windblown blue and linen colour scheme with pale pink accents and Laura Ashley soft furnishings

So what do you think? I think it’s a bit la di da posh looking and House & Garden myself.

The Home Office

If you caught my last post or have been following my antics on Twitter you’ll know that there is a plan (and not much more at the mo) to convert my garage to a new fancy pants studio / workshop. But in the meantime I have been using the kitchen instead of my actual office, but I’ve been evicted by Mr W so have had to upgrade my actual office. Blah blah blah – all caught up?

Yesterday Operation Improve Actual Office commenced at around 1pm and finished roughly 24hrs later. In the hours leading up to this event I felt like I did before my last marathon. Sort of excited but nervous about the inevitable pain. And there was pain. There were flat packs involved. But other than a few terse exchanges it actually went much better than expected. So want to see the results?

First I think you need to understand the layout I’m working with. The room needs to remain a bedroom as we have a lot of visitors, and it has a staircase in it, two windows and a large radiator. Look…try and ignore the ugly lights, they’re going as soon as I’ve found suitable replacements.

Guest bedroom and home office

Guest bedroom and home office

So this is where I’ll be sitting oggling fabulous interiors stuff on the internet doing paperwork, research and making calls

Home office

Check out my new magnetic memo board with a handy pocket for paint charts

Home office

I bought 3 of these headphone wearing skulls for a children’s bedroom project and only used one. I know the grinning me in cap and gown is a bit off putting but Mr W insists I display it as doing my MBA when working full time (and a half) for a slave driving employer was quite an achievement he tells me, and he’s right, it nearly killed me.

Home office

Combing shelves and picture ledges turned out to be a winner as I can have more pics without giving up valuable shelf space. And those under shelf wire baskets (set of 2 for £5 from Dunelm) are genius.

Home office

And this is where I’ll be standing doing the more creative stuff, like testing paint samples and putting together mood boards. I realised today though that I also want a high stool with a back rest so that’s tomorrows distraction sorted. In the meantime I’ve pinched one from the kitchen.

Home office

Love my new wipeboard which I’m using to plot where customers are in the pipeline. These 30 minute or 3 day makeover programmes are a complete illusion, projects never happen quickly. I’m photographing one tomorrow that technically finished in December, but then another chair had to be ordered which only just arrived. Also smitten with my customer specific clipboards. I wasn’t this organised when I had 300 employees.

Home office

And look how witty I am.

IMG_4648

I now have a space for my NYC musical snow globe. When I was 21 I got sent to New York for a week on my own on a business trip. I thought I was the bees knees but I was also terrified as I’d never been anywhere on my own or to America and the subway did look exactly like it does in horror movies. Every time I look at this globe which I bought that week I smile and remember what an adventure it was.

Home office

But this is my favourite bit of the room.

Home office

Nothing in my house is straight or central and this fireplace is a shining example of its irregularities, which called for a little off-centre wall art. The print was an eBay bargain and the clock from Cult Furniture one of my go to places for cool stuff.

IMG_0886

I’m also very happy with my other eBay bargain print. Mr W was not at all sure. He thinks it look like a doctors surgery not an office.

Home office

This was my mantra when I started my own business so it had to have a home somewhere in here.

IMG_4657

And the best thing about this office? Well if it all gets too much I can always have a power nap.

IMG_0890

So in addition to the new stool I also want to change the lights (cue sigh from Mr W). There are really old fashioned (and not in a good way) but I’m struggling to find something with the right look and that will give out the same amount of light. Maybe that’s Thursdays distraction…

So what do you think, could you work in here?

Operation Improve Actual Office

The kitchen is my favourite room in the house, and since installing the island over a year ago it had become my live, work, dining space. I say ‘had’ because I’m being evicted. Now that Mr W lives with me 7 days a week it is no longer practical for me to treat the kitchen as my office and test paints, create mood boards and do all my paperwork on the island. Which is a shame because it’s perfect for all those jobs.

1909 kitchen in rectory red and ringwood ground by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

My kitchen and soon to be former live, work, dining space…..

I do have an office in the spare bedroom above the kitchen, but it was designed for my past life and I outgrew it the minute I started my own business. I also have a plan to convert our garage to an office / workshop. A plan which I hope will be implemented this year but hasn’t yet started. So right now I need a plan B, which explains why I was in Ikea at 8pm last night.

Plan B – Operation Improve Actual Office

So my temporary solution is to improve my existing office. It can’t cost too much as I need to pay for the new office / workshop, and it all needs to be easily removable so that I can relocate it all to the new office / workshop when its ready, and return the room to a bedroom.

So the beautiful but impractical antique desk and leather captains chair will be going on eBay this weekend, and their sale will fund the improvements. The bed is staying as this will be a temporary office and I like having enough beds for our many many house guests, but the bedsides will have to go into the loft temporarily. This will give me enough space for two desks. One to sit at gawking at fabulous interiors stuff on the internet doing research, paperwork and phone calls. The other to stand at test paint samples and create mood boards. My house was built in 1756 so a lot of the decor is traditional or rustic as the house lends itself to these styles. But I’ve gradually been adding other elements to give it a bit more interest. So this time I’m going for a Scandinavian look with clean lines, natural wood and a simple black and white scheme.

Skandi style office

Image via Pinterest

There’s a lot of natural oak in the room so I’ve gone for oak effect table tops with black adjustable legs to counter any problems with the wonky original floorboards. I would have loved one of their BEKANT sit/stand adjustable desks and wasted a good 20 minutes playing with the adjustable height and dreaming. I mean just look how happy these office workers are……or maybe they’re just gawking at fabulous interiors stuff too. But I would have still needed two desks for the extra worktop space so I walked away after making myself a firm promise that I can have one when I get the new office / workshop.

The BEKANT sit/stand desk from IKEA

BEKANT sit/stand desk from IKEA – £445

I would also have loved trestle legs but one of the tables will only have two legs with the back fixed to the wall so that it can wrap around the radiator instead of having to sit in front of it. These restrictions do mean though that I could have two desks with legs for just £115. You gotta love IKEA.

LINNMON / FINNVARD table in grey/white from IKEA

LINNMON / FINNVARD table from IKEA

Thankfully I don’t need a lot of drawer space. So one drawer unit will be enough. There will be enough oak going on in the room now so I picked a simple black one with steel drawer labels.

KLIMPEN Drawer Unit from IKEA

KLIMPEN drawer unit from IKEA – £65

I kept my practical head on just long enough to pick a chair. I damaged my coccyx during my one and only wind surfing lesson (and spent the rest of the week face down on a sun lounger), and am too old to sit without lumber support so ergonomics came first and last on this occasion. Although I did think the wire mesh on this one would go nicely with the wire organisers I planned to find.

FLINTAN / NOMINELL swivel chair with armrests

FLINTAN / NOMINALL swivel chair with armrests from IKEA – £64

And now the fun stuff starts… I’m a huge fan of the HEKTAR range of lights from IKEA. The range comes in dark grey or bronze and includes a floor lamp, pendant shade, a 3-spot ceiling track light and these fabulous wall lights which can also clamp on to a desk or shelf. I’ll take two of those please. I may add another two if  I need extra light on both sides of each desk.

HEKTAR wall/clamp spotlight from IKEA

HEKTAR wall/clamp light from IKEA – £13

I need a memo board for reminders and what not and like the idea of a magnetic one. This black stainless steel one from Master of Boards fits nicely into my scheme and the space next to the window. It comes with magnets and hooks but for an extra fiver I added a pack of 20 additional mini magnets.

Master of boards stainless steel magnetic memo board

Master of boards stainless steel magnetic memo board – £26.99 from Amazon

I’ve bought a whiteboard so I can display where my customers are in the pipeline and underneath this I’m going to have clipboards for each customer for their to do list and latest receipts – check me out, Mrs Organised.

Masonite Clipboards

Pack of 5 masonite clipboards – £8.99 from Amazon

I’ve ordered a couple of shelves and picture ledges for above the sitting desk which Mr W will be fitting. I’m not to be trusted with a drill. I practically whooped with delight when I saw this pic on the IKEA website. What a great way to store the rolls of lining paper I use to test paint samples.

EKBY LERBERG wall bracket from IKEA

EKBY LERBERG wall bracket from IKEA – £2

I’ve ordered some shoe box size storage boxes for business cards, phone chargers, batteries and other paraphernalia which will fit on the shelves. Black obvs.

TJENA box with lid from IKEA

TJENA box with lid from IKEA – £1.25

I’ve written before about my love of wire (see earlier post – Totally Wired) so this is a great opportunity to indulge myself with a few wire magazine holders etc. mostly from Amazon, totally making that Prime membership work for me.

Wire magasine files and wire desk tidy

And after bagging so many IKEA and Amazon bargains I felt I deserved a treat. Every office needs a clock and I’ve been hankering after a sunburst clock for a while. This black George Nelson clock from Cult Furniture is perfect and will look fab above the black woodburner.

George Nelson Black Sunburst Clock from Cult Furniture

George Nelson black sunburst clock – £59 from Cult Furniture

While I was on the Cult Furniture site I stumbled across this cheeky little item and as it was reduced to £7 I just couldn’t resist.

Speech bubble memo light box from Cult Furniture

Speech bubble memo light box – £7 from Cult Furniture

OK so up until now I was doing really well budget wise, well under £500 for everything. Then I got sidetracked. It started with me thinking, ‘ooh I’d love an opticians eye test chart to frame and put on the shelves’. This then led me to eBay and a huge framed vintage print. Which then led me to another framed print the seller had of a phrenology head. £40 each which I thought was a bargain for the size of them. Well that’s what I’m telling myself.

Opticians eye test chart framed print

Medical Phrenology Head framed print

Fabulous aren’t they.

So I’m aiming to get the existing desk out on Friday and the IKEA haul arrives on Saturday so Sunday will be spent arguing with Mr W as is traditional when we have to build furniture or do DIY together, Can’t wait!

Pics to follow.

 

 

The Living room refresh – small changes, big impact

This is one of the hardest posts I’ve ever written. Why’s that you’re thinking? Ugly living room? Difficult brief? Client confidentiality? Far more mundane I’m afraid. A tree branch poked me in the eye when I was out walking the dog and I had to go to the hospital when the chemist refused to sell me eye drops without getting it checked out. Admittedly I did look like a wino with my weeping bloodshot eye. Anyway, its just a minor scratch which should heal in a few days but in the meantime I am partially sighted which makes typing tricky, driving a no no, and chopping garlic equally hazardous as I learnt earlier (almost another trip to A&E…). But it’s been a few weeks since my last post and I really wanted to show you a project I just finished so here I am typing away, just ignore any typos and blurry photos and the earlier version that was posted in error. I’m working with a real handicap here people!

Now admit it, when you hear someone has used an interior designer you probably assume they’ve got plenty of money and are undertaking some big remodeling or redecoration project. And if I told you this customer didn’t want to change the carpet, furniture or lighting or paint the walls you’d be wondering how on earth I was going to make a difference. Well be prepared to be impressed. I’m about to show you that you can still make a big difference without any major changes.

So this project started out as a cry for help. OK I’m dramatising. The homeowner has a huge bay window and asked me to come round and give her some ideas as she didn’t know what to do with it. That led on to a bit of a living room refresh. So lets start with a few before images:

Living room - Large bay window

The huge bay window. Perfect for the Xmas tree but a little empty and uninspiring for the other 344 days of the year.

Living room before images for Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Magnolia walls, chocolate brown carpet and leather sofas with purple accent cushions and artwork – all a little dark

Living room before images from Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

A classic simple fireplace but a mish mash of accessories and bare walls

Shall we start with that bay window?

Window Dressing

You should NEVER block the flow of natural light into a room. Window treatments should frame the window not cover it. This bay is very deep and there is no gap above the window panes so Roman blinds running round the edge were the best way to add colour and texture without hiding too much of the window. We could have used roller blinds but I felt they would have been too minimal. The blinds needed to be made to measure and it’s a big bay so it wasn’t going to be cheap but I use a very talented and reasonably priced lady called Di (Di’s Soft Furnishings). She also came to measure up as I was worried about allowing for protruding handles and the corners. Windows can give me sleepless nights worrying whether I’ve measured accurately….

The homeowner had seen some fabric in Next that she quite liked which had a floral pattern in yellow, ochre, grey and light brown. The brown tied it to the sofas and carpet which meant I could carry the ochre around the room to bring warmth, with some grey accents to add definition.

Mood board for living room refresh by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

So we had the central blind made up in the patterned fabric and used a light grey fabric from Laura Ashley for the four other blinds.

Roman blinds using Watercolour Bloom fabric from Next and Dove Grey fabric from Laura Ashley

Furniture

We decided that seating was the way to go in that big space, but not permanent so there would still be a home for the Christmas tree. One of my objectives in any project is to achieve savings that as a minimum cover my fees. I’d already saved the homeowner £30 by using a 30% discount voucher I had for the fabric from Laura Ashley, but the furniture was where I made the big saving.  The other furniture in the room is solid pine and from Next. They do a matching bench seat for £250 but no table. I found a solid oak Julian Bowen table with matching benches online for £205 including delivery. We got Di to make seat pads in an ochre fabric and used the left over blind fabric for a table runner. It fits perfectly, and the seat pads and runner carry the colours into the room. Immediately the space has a purpose.

Living room - Julian Bowen table and chairs bought online

Cushion scattering

This homeowner loves cushions but like most people tends to buy in pairs. Now thats ok when you only have two cushions in the room but not when you’ve got two big couches to fill.

Before image in living room refresh project by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The existing cushions……

The art to cushion scattering (and it is an art) is to keep the same colour palette but buy a mix of sizes and patterns. Remember to leave enough space to sit down though….

Living room - The art of cushion scattering by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The living room rug

What this room needed more than anything was a rug to break up all that dark brown. And it needed to be big enough to fill the space between the couches. Nothing worse than a tiny rug in a big room, it just looks like you can’t afford the size you really wanted. I found this bargain in Dunelm. Perfect size, perfect colour and floral pattern and even better reduced from £120 to £60 – a billy bargain.

Ochre floral rug from Dunelm

Sorry about the dark image but can you see how it fills that space and breaks up the brown? Now we’re talking.

Living room refresh by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Artwork

Big spaces require either big pictures or collections. I was lucky to find a winner for above the sofa very quickly, but it was in the must unlikely of places at a ridiculously bargain price so I showed it to the customer first to get her reaction before I told her where it was from…..

Living room - Floral print for £10 from B&M Bargains

Could that print match the room any better? Right pattern, same colour palette and some black to add definition. It was such a find we’re pretending she doesn’t know where it’s from so she can say (in a posh voice) “isn’t it fabulous, my interior designer picked it up somewhere”. If you want to know where it’s from message me…..

We added this one from Next (£25) above the telly. Normally hiding the telly is my goal but moving it wasn’t a option and there was a big empty space above it so we needed a picture.

Living room - Foil floral canvas from Next

Continuing the floral theme, we added these two from Etsy to the other side of the fireplace, using black frames from Wilko to give them more definition.

Living room refresh - Art prints from Etsy, frames from Wilko

Accessories

So nearly done people. I didn’t go mad with the accessories as I wanted to keep it simple but elegant. So I focused on glass using a mixture of clear, ochre and smoked grey.

Yellow glass vase from Oxfam with artificial flower

Glass vase £1.25 from Oxfam with yellow artificial flowers and pussy willow stems

Smoked grey glass vases, £10 each from Homesense

Smoked grey glass vases, £10 each from Homesense. The Jo Malone candle was a Christmas present.

Simple hurricane lanterns on the hearth and smoked grey glass tealights on the mantelpiece, all from Dunelm

Simple hurricane lanterns on the hearth and smoked grey glass tealights on the mantelpiece, all from Dunelm

Living room - Another candle on the side table to sit with the existing lantern and Jo Malone candle

Another candle on the side table to sit with the existing lantern and Jo Malone candle

Lighting

Lighting wasn’t in the brief, but I wouldn’t have been doing my job if I didn’t suggest something optional. And these smoked grey glass table lamps and matching ceiling pendant would look perfect. I suspect they may find their way into the room at some point….

Living room - Smoked grey glass ceiling pendant from Dunelm

Smoked grey glass ceiling pendant from Dunelm

Living room - Smoked grey glass table lamps from Dunelm

Smoked grey glass table lamps from Dunelm

So what do you think?

Living room refresh by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Living room refresh by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Living room refresh by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

 

My main objective in any project is to make the customer happy and judging by the review she gave me on Houzz I think I ticked that box too.

“Amelia helped to transform our living room – its now a completely different room!! She has made such a difference. I had a big bay window with which I simply did not know what to do. She came up with some great ideas, was totally open to discussion, was helpful, reliable and a pleasure to work with. I am so pleased I made contact with her – I would happily recommend her to anyone looking for fresh eyes, opinions and ideas. She kept to budge (in fact came in below budget) – even found us a few bargains. Will definitely ask her back to work on other rooms within my home. I am really happy with everything she has done for us. Thanks so much”

Customer review on Houzz.

Happy Easter everyone.