Monthly Archives: August 2015

Lighting up your life

People often assume that if you’re logical and organised then you’re not creative, and that creative people are away with the fairies. Codswallop. I’m sure there are those that fit this stereotype but I couldn’t come up with the ideas and designs that I produce if I wasn’t creative, yet I love a good process, and my friends and family will tell you my organisational skills are superhuman. Of course there’s a fine line between being organised and being bossy and I probably walk that line…

Designing a room is an interative process for me. I typically follow a number of steps, but then repeat them to see if everything still works together. There are always changes so I keep repeating the steps until I’m happy with the whole scheme. It’s not always this logical of course, sometimes I find an amazing light and I build the whole scheme around it. Flexible too see!

Speaking of lighting, I see lots of lighting mistakes – ceiling runways (too many recessed spotlights in the ceiling), wall lights and ceiling light that are too small for the room, floor lamps that are too big for the room. Not enough lighting is the most common. So I thought I’d share a few tips in case any of this sounds familiar.

Tip 1, try planning your lighting around scenarios. Take the living room for example, these would be my scenarios:

  • I’m building flatpack furniture and need all the light (and help…) I can get
  • I’ve got friends coming over and need to dim the lights so they won’t notice I haven’t hoovered or dusted…
  • It’s been a long day and I want just enough light that I won’t fall over the furniture when topping up my wine

You then match each scenario to a lighting source. It works for all rooms – try it!

Tip 2, you should aim for at least 2, preferably 3 sources of light. Even my tiny upstairs bathroom below has 3 light sources – recessed ceiling spots for bright light, over mirror light for tweezing (come on we all do it), and a tiny spot light hidden behind a beam for night time bathroom visits.

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Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Tip 3, don’t limit yourself to the obvious solutions, be creative. The kitchen isn’t the only place you can have under shelf and in-cupboard lighting. Forget about ceiling lights, what about floor and skirting board lights. Make features of your mirrors and artwork with over and behind frame lighting. No surface, nook or cranny should be overlooked.

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Hidden lighting at 3 levels in this bathroom by FORM Architectural Bureau

Tip 4, your light fittings don’t need to match either, in fact it’s better if they don’t or your room can end up looking like a page from the (insert name of retailer) catalogue. It increases your opportunity to add more interest, colour and texture to your room. I just paired blue enamel pendants with faux deer hide table lamp shades in my summer house.

Midnight blue enamel pendants in my summer house from Nook London

Enamel pendants in my summer house from Nook London

Custom made faux deer hide lampshades using Albany wallpaper

Custom made faux deer hide lampshade using Albany wallpaper

So take a look around, how many sources of light do you have, do you need another? Just don’t add more ceiling spots – very unflattering!

 

 

 

 

The Christmas Tree Conundrum

Don’t worry this post isn’t about finding the perfect Christmas tree, it’s way too early for that kind of shenanigans. I hate festive talk before December 1st, and have already berated my Retail employed friends for sharing details of their Christmas ranges when I’m still trying to find a bikini that can miraculously reduce me from a size 12 (….ok 14) to a size 10 (totally happy with 12..). But on the basis I’ve had conversations with two customers this month about this very issue I feel compelled to discuss it now.

September seems to be a popular time to redecorate your living room, perhaps prompted by all the annoying DFS adverts promising to deliver your sofa by Christmas if you order RIGHT NOW! A common mistake many homeowners make when decorating their living rooms is not allowing for the Christmas tree. Now I’m not talking about having a empty space for 49 weeks of the year but it does require a plan that won’t obscure 50% of the TV screen or leave no space for emergency chairs. Here are a few suggestions about how to incorporate your tree so it looks like it was always meant to be there.

Tip 1: If buying a new sofa and armchairs, consider how often your armchairs would be sat in. Could you replace one or more of your armchairs with accent chairs which are smaller and could be relocated to another part of the house more easily. I recently paired this sofa with these chairs for a customer so that she has more room and a place for the Christmas tree.

Alexis large two-seater sofa from Multiyork

Alexis sofa from Multiyork

Lille chair in Oatmeal from Swoon Editions

Lille chair in Oatmeal from Swoon Editions

Tip 2: If you’re planning a scheme that includes side tables and table lamps consider if one of them could be replaced by the tree at Christmas. The table and lamp could be moved to the garage or loft for a few weeks, and if you add enough lights to the tree your room won’t be any darker. Last year I also bought light up boxes like these for the foot for the tree.

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These are available on Amazon if your local garden centre doesn’t stock them

Tip 3: Buy a narrow tree. It seems the manufacturers of artificial trees have finally realised that the average living room isn’t big enough for something 6ft tall and 4ft wide. I have an alcove next to my fireplace that is only 70cm wide and usually houses a log basket. But for 3 weeks of the year it is home to a tall narrow artificial tree which fits perfectly and looks very realistic . I was so pleased with it I actually bought two more so I can have a tree in the TV room and another in the summer house (its actually a year round garden room thanks to the log burner). Yes, I might get huffy about festive talk in November but on 1st December I become Mrs Claus and Holly Cottage turns into a Lapland grotto…

Narrow artificial Christmas tree

Most garden centres and retailers now include slimmer trees in their range

4. Think outside the box. I’m not going to suggest replacing your tree with some twigs in a vase hung with baubles that’s just a teeny weeny bit sad, but if you’re really stuck for space what about a wall sticker? No need to worry about it being behind a door, or too near the sofa. The cat can’t climb it and it’s a lot easier to remove on 12th night. This one from John Lewis is 100cm x 76cm. It might be £55 but by the time you’ve bought a tree, some new decorations that you didn’t need but were too cute to leave in the shop and some replacement lights because last years don’t work any more you’d have spent at least that.

Gold Christmas tree wall sticker from John Lewis

Gold Christmas tree wall sticker from John Lewis

Right that’s enough Christmas chat, I’m starting to twitch.

 

Numbers schmumbers

In my old life I managed, and was managed, by numbers. Targets, stretch targets, submission volumes, hit ratios, conversation rates, growth rates, retention rates and a million other metrics. I introduced a tool that measured the value of all our producers that went viral in my organisation, earning everyone involved the equivalent of celebrity status in our global corporate world, and my new business budget had more zeros than you’d find in a model agency waiting room. These days many of my business decisions are unashamedly driven by emotion. Of course I’ve used my business acumen to develop and follow a sound business plan, but when it comes to the customer interaction I follow my passion. When I fall in a love with a place, or when I view a property begging to be made over, or when I know me and the customer will have fun, I flex the pricing model. Because I want every job to be one that I can’t stop thinking about, one that keeps me up at night and one that I bore everyone senseless with. The only problem is I feel like that about almost every job I go to see….Thankfully my conversion rate has been good or my head would be full of ideas for jobs I didn’t get!

I love my job so much I’ve even brought my Macbook on holiday to Dubrovnik. In my old life colleagues were told to text me if a life or death situation arose as all emails would be ignored until I landed back in the UK. But every morning before my sister and niece get out of bed I’m on the internet looking for interiors stuff for customers or working on marketing ideas. There was a time when my old job had the same effect, but I think that was youth and ambition. This feels different – this feels like a calling for want of a better cliche.

When I remember I’m supposed to be on holiday I look at things for my summer house which I’m redecorating before our annual summer BBQ at the end of this month. This morning I ordered some fabulous Kiko frames from notonthehighstreet.com. I’m going to fill them with some of my favourite holiday snaps.

Kiko frames by Nkuku - www.notonthehighstreet.com

Kiko frames by Nkuku

I also spent some time slavering over these cow hide lampshades also on notonthehighstreet.com. In the end I decided I couldn’t justify the £75 price tag. It’s not actually their fault. The lampshades they’re replacing cost roughly the same and I’m feeling guilty about replacing them so as I haven’t found anything else I like I’m thinking about making my own. I’ve ordered some wallpaper samples to experiment with……photos to follow if they work out.

Grey cow hide lampshade by Begolden

Grey cow hide lampshade by Begolden

The fabrics for the soft furnishings have been ordered. Ada & Ina came up trumps and delivered three gorgeous linens.

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So now its just down to the finishing touches. The scouting trip is planned for next week and I’m very excited. Targets include vintage enamelware and a clock. I’d like something like this if you know where I can find one….

Nordic style sunburst clock

Nordic style sunburst clock

Before I go, a Trevor McDonald style ‘and finally’ chicken update. We’ve doubled the occupancy at Cluckingham Palace. Whitney, Britney, Christina, Shakira and Cilla (RIP) moved in at the beginning of the month. The pecking order is still being established. The existing tenants are not happy about sharing their perch or their morning treats and making it known. Shakira and Cilla have formed a tag team, protecting each other when Harriet or Phyllis (known trouble makers) go on the attack. Whitney, Britney and Christina have been temporarily located to a separate run until they’re big enough to stand up for themselves. I’m hoping things will have settled down when I get back but I’m not confident, I may have too many divas for one coop.