Monthly Archives: December 2015

My 2015 Interior Design Report Card

Sorry if I’ve been a bit quiet but I assumed you were busy with Christmas and whatnot. It’s been a tad hectic at Holly Cottage too but not with interior design stuff. I’ve spent the past 7 days with Jamie Oliver, and together we have produced some wonderful dishes including Christmas Roast DuckBloody Mary Beef and Rabbit Bolognese. Today we’re collaborating on Chicken Liver Parfait and Roasted Pork Shoulder. It’s the only time of year I have the time and the appropriate number of mouths to feed to warrant such domestic goddesstry, and now Mr W is officially retired I have a new sous chef which helps.

Taking some downtime from Interior Design and cooking with Mr W

Pre-Amelia Wilson Interiors, cooking was essential therapy, and I still find it very relaxing. These past few days when I haven’t been chopping, stirring or flambéing, (that was the chicken livers this morning – goodbye eyebrows), I’ve been thinking about how far I’ve come since I started my interior design business a little over a year ago. So this week, instead of homework, I’m submitting my 2015 report card for your perusal.

Overall interior design performance

I’m very pleased with the number of interior design projects I’ve completed this year, and how diverse they’ve been. It’s not just been bedrooms and bathrooms, but living rooms, kitchens, a pub, a shop, a showroom “and a partridge in a pear tree”……. sorry, still feeling very festive. I’m not quite making enough to keep Mr W in the manner to which he had become accustomed, but I probably never will. Please don’t tell him or he might make me go back to London….

What’s really motivated though me has been the positive feedback from every single one of my customers, and from others online. When you hop on the social media train you leave yourself open to (sometimes not very constructive) criticism and I’ve had a couple of ‘not likes’ but I’m a big girl, both mentally and of late physically, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. At the end of the day it’s what the customer thinks, and nothing says customer satisfaction more than “when can you start the next room” which I’ve heard a few times this year. A big thank you to everyone who has ‘liked’ my work though – it really is appreciated.

Gold Stars

I’ve come from a background of team working so being a one-woman band is new to me and working from home can be isolating. So I’m proud of and value the partnerships I’m building, not just with tradespeople and suppliers but also with distribution partners. Cockermouth Kitchen Co is my first and I have a couple more in the pipeline – watch this space.

I’m also chuffed to bits with the new website. I was feeling pretty smug about building the first one in April but after a few months I realised it was a bit dated so I gave it a makeover and I think it looks pretty good. I am officially a geek.

I’m also giving myself a gold star for the effort I have put into maintaining my social media presence and experimenting with various marketing and advertising tools including press, online media, and starting January 4th – Radio! The time all that takes should never be underestimated and is what keeps me up late after I’ve finished actual interior design work.

Nothing to do with my interior design business but I’m also pleased to have kept 8 out of 10 chickens alive. RIP Shakira and Brittney, fingers crossed the mysterious bug that ended your short lives doesn’t wipe out the others in 2016..

Could try harder

Although I did work on three commercial projects this year I haven’t broken into the hospitality space yet. So I’m a little disappointed, but I’ll just have to ramp up the efforts in 2016.

I’m also getting better at photography, but David Bailey I am not. I think I’ve figured out the angles and close up shots, but god help me the lighting in Cumbria is a challenge. Might need to invest in a big flash….

Grades

So I’m giving myself A’s for effort, customer satisfaction, distribution and marketing, a B for sales (need to help maintain Mr W’s new life of leisure), and C for commercial activity and photography. Not bad for a start up me thinks.

I also took a look back at which of my blog posts you liked the most and top of the list was all the best parties end up in the kitchen. I suspect this had more to do with the movie at the end than my interiors waffle…check it out it did make me chuckle this morning.

So thats me done until New Year. My next group of visitors arrives this afternoon and I’m still in my PJ’s.

Make sure you check back in January as I have some more great before and afters to show you.

The Bijou Bathroom

I lOVE LOVE LOVE designing bathrooms. I think it might be the problem solving element. Firstly, few people have the big bathrooms they’d love so its always an exercise in maximising space. Secondly, the waste pipes are never where you want them to be so you either have to compromise on where things go or come up with an ingenious solution. Thirdly, people often have strong preferences about the types of fittings they like, but this doesn’t come out until you ask whether they want separate or mixer taps and you get a 10 minute rant about the dodgy mixer tap in a hotel they stayed in once that was too tall for the sink so it sprayed water all over them every time they used it……. So take note any newbie bathroom designers, ask a lot of questions upfront and be prepared for a bit of passion.

The bathroom I’m about to show you is very bijou. Less than 2m square. And the homeowner loves a bath so turning it into a shower room was not an option. She has a lovely Victorian terraced house so only one wall was external, which gave us the usual ‘location of the waste pipe’ problem and therefore only one practical layout. She wanted a much bigger window and the door had to open inwards, limiting wall space. The thinking cap was firmly on.

So this is how it looked when the new window went in. The previous one was a quarter of the size making the room pretty gloomy.

Small bijou bathroom before image

And the previous fittings were all standard sizes so squashed together making the room look even more cramped.

Small bijou bathroom before image

After quizzing her on what she did and didn’t like I decided we needed a look that included some traditional elements, a little bit of luxury and some pops of bright colour. So what do you think?

Marble effect wall tiles in small traditional style bathroom with patterned floor tiles

You’re probably wowing at the tiles aren’t you, so lets start there.

Contrary to what most people think, big tiles on the wall actually make a room look bigger. It’s to do with the grout lines and there being fewer to draw your eyes. These luxurious looking carrara marble effect wall tiles have a matt finish and are only £18.75 m2 from Walls & Floors.

I really wanted Victorian style patterned tiles for the floor, but we were working to a budget and I couldn’t find quite the right bright colour. Then I found these Renkli floor tiles also at Walls & Floors. Technically they’re Moroccan in style but the pattern is very similar to traditional Victorian hall tiles. They’re very reasonable at £28.95 m2 and as you can see below they produce it in 3 different print sizes depending on how bold you want the print to be. We went for the largest print size to make it look closer to a Victorian style and to avoid it looking too busy since it’s such a small space.

Renkli Moroccan style geometric floor tiles from Walls & Floors

Next the fittings. The traditional sink and toilet are a set from Victorian Plumbing. The old sink used to hang over the edge of the bath but this sink comes in a narrow 500mm width making it perfect for a small bathroom.

Marble effect wall tiles in small traditional style bathroom with patterned floor tiles

The bath is by Hudson Reed also from Victorian Plumbing. It’s only 1500mm long which gave us 200mm for a shelf at the end – you need somewhere for your shampoo and conditioner – and I HATE those chrome baskets attached to the wall. It’s extra deep (460mm) so she can still submerge herself. Actually she’s so short she can turn over and swim in it……The tiling on the shelf at the end and in front of the bath give it that hint of boutique hotel.

Hudson Reed 1500 x 700 x 460 bath from Victorian Plumbing

The matching Crosswater Belgravia bath and sink taps are from Tap Warehouse.

Cross water Belgravia Basin taps from Tap Warehouse

Cross water Belgravia bath mixer with shower head

We fitted the mixer tap and the shower head in opposite corners of the bath so you don’t knock your knees on the mixer tap when you use the shower. I think it also looks much neater like this.

Cross water Belgravia bath mixer and shower head

The thermostatic shower is also from Victorian Plumbing. FYI – I love using them because they have a huge range at great prices with really quick delivery, and their customer service is excellent. They didn’t pay me to say that, it’s just true. We went for a shower curtain rather than a screen because she’s a bather not a showerer, and screens either make you feel enclosed or get in the way of the taps when you want to top up the hot.

Premier Edwardian thermostatic shower from Victorian Plumbing

The homeowner used to have a large curved heated towel rail behind the door, but it stuck out so you couldn’t open the door fully. I suggested we fit a tall narrow one to the left of the window where it wouldn’t be in the way.

Narrow wall mounted heated towel rail from Victoriam Plumbing

Lastly, she was desperate for storage and used to have a set of drawers next to the bath which made the floor look cluttered so I suggested a tall narrow mirrored cabinet above the toilet.

Being an old Victorian property the ceiling was a little higher than usual which meant we could drop it to add spotlights, and I suggested we leave a gap between the wall tiles and ceiling and paint this whole area a warm gold colour.

IMG_4519

A traditional style loo roll holder, loo brush and mirror and some amber glass accessories and we’re done. So what do you think? The homeowner LOVES it and so do I.

 

 

Spare a thought for Cumbria this Christmas

Tonight I need to digress a little from my usual interiors waffle to ask you to spare a thought for Cumbria this Christmas. I was fortunate enough to have some free time today so I spent the afternoon with a lovely lady called Liz walking around Cockermouth handing out hot drinks and food that had been donated locally to homeowners that had been flooded and tradespeople that were helping them clean up the mess. Now we’ve all been watching the news and reading the papers, but seeing the extent of the damage to peoples homes firsthand and hearing their stories makes you realise just how tough it is for them. I met singles that were couch surfing, couples that were living separately because friends or relatives could only put up one of them, and a family living on their first floor surrounded by everything they had been able to save before they were flooded, because they don’t want to rack up a big insurance claim and become uninsurable.

There is a lot of support locally of course. The church hall is filled with food and cleaning stuff that has been donated by supermarkets, businesses and local residents. And there are lots of volunteers offering help. But none of that makes up for the fact that most of these people won’t be spending Christmas at home this year. Those that had been through this before told me it took 6 months to get their homes back in order. 6 months. None of them were moaning or complaining though, that’s not the Cumbrian way, they were just getting on with it. Throwing out furniture, ripping up carpets and trying to get rid of the mud which is everywhere.

I also chatted to someone which made me realise there will be many that were not directly affected by the floods, but impacted still the same. This lady runs a cleaning business and gets most of her income from holiday lets. Some of her customers properties have been flooded so will be off the rental market for up to 6 months. Obviously this is terrible news for the property owners, but hopefully most will have insurance which will cover them for loss of income. But she has no such protection, so will be struggling to make ends meet until their businesses are operational again unless she can find other work.

I know there are worthy causes all over the world and this is just another appeal. But I couldn’t live here and witness this and not ask you to support Cumbria either by donating to the Cumbria Flood Recovery Fund, shopping online with one of the local businesses in Cockermouth that have an online shop , or visiting what I think is the most beautiful place in the world and spending a few quid. If you ask nice I might even put you up 🙂

Sign in shop window in Cockermouth after Cumbria floods

Tickled pink with the pink bedroom

I promised you pictures of the newly finished pink bedroom on Thursday. So lets pretend I was suspense building. Lets pretend I wasn’t just faffing around with my new photo editing software. Because I’m not just blowing my own trumpet here but this bedroom deserves a build up. It’s the interior design equivalent of a celebrity transformation Think Leona Lewis before X Factor versus the sleek, stylish, diva she is now. Think Kylie in Neighbours versus current Kylie the sex kitten. If you didn’t know me you might even suspect it was a different bedroom.

To remind you this is what the bedroom looked like before….

Before picture of clients bedroom

before image of clients bedroom

And without further ado, drum roll please (click here – honest its an actual drum roll), here’s how her bedroom looks now.

Glamorous pink bedroom designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

See what I mean. I wasn’t exaggerating. I’m not sure who is happier with the final result me or LM the homeowner. I almost asked if I could sleep over this weekend…. Apparently her partner has been allowed in but he has been given orders, no shoes and no clothes on the floor. LM’s a police officer so she could probably get him arrested or worse if he doesn’t comply

So lets talk design detail. First the colour scheme. The walls and ceiling are Pink Cocoa by Valspar. When the first wall was painted me and LM did a double take as it looked purr..itty pink, but once the rest of the room was painted it took on that blush colour I was looking for. I knew it would look great with gold carpet and soft furnishings, but I also added black accents as LM lives with her partner Ian so we couldn’t have the room looking too much like a boudoir.

Mood board for pink bedroom prepared by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

We needed to replace all her bedroom furniture so I started by designing huge fitted wardrobes to go where the old freestanding wardrobe had been. I ordered shaker style sliding doors and tracks from Howdens and the fabulous joiner I work with (Curren Joinery) built the frame with cupboards above to match, and all the shelves etc I wanted inside. Filling this space has actually made the bedroom look bigger, and LM says her problem now is she doesn’t have enough clothes to fill the space….nice problem to have as there’s only one solution…..

Fitted shaker style wardrobes in pink bedroom designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

LM likes older furniture so I took a trip to my favourite antiques warehouse in Manchester and picked up two chests of drawers.

Mid century modern chest of drawers in pink bedroom designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

One is actually a Gentleman’s Chest with a lift up lid and compartments for gloves, ties, cufflinks etc. Great for costume jewellery!

Gentlemans chest with lift up lid and compartments for ties, cufflinks etc.

I picked up this dormitory style bed online from UK Bed Store for only £163 including delivery, which looks great with the black Victorian fireplace.

Black metal Victorian dormitory style bed from UK Bed Store

To match it I found this bedside table with a black metal top in Habitat, another bargain at only £25. Note to self, remember to hide wires when taking photos……

Wood and black metal top bedside table from Habitat

A black Victorian style cast iron radiator was a must – this one came from The Cast Iron Radiator Centre. While we’re here check out the lush gold curtains and new black curtain pole. The curtains used to hang in my bedroom in a flat I owned in London, and with minor alterations they look like they were made for this room.

Gold curtains in pink bedroom and black Victorian style cast iron radiator

The Lloyd Loom chair was a car boot find which I sprayed black with dipped gold legs.

Original Lloyd Loom chair sprayed black with dipped gold legs

Next, lighting. This is what she had before.

Before image of small flush ceiling light

Now this bedroom is 4m x 5m with a ceiling almost 3m high. So I knew we could go big. This large Aria pendant light from Laura Ashley is 50cm x 48cm without the chain and needs 6 bulbs. It was reduced from £375 to £262.50 in the sale, which is excellent value for such a large chandelier, and it looks amazing. The room had been so gloomy we actually had to fit it before the joiner could start so he could see what he was doing. We put it on a dimmer so the neighbours didn’t think LM had opened a cannabis farm. We also added a large white ceiling rose so that it would stand out against the pink ceiling.

Large Aria ceiling pendant from Laura Ashley

Large Aria ceiling pendant from Laura Ashley

For the bedsides I found a pair of glass and gold table lamp bases in Homesense for £15 each which look great with these black and gold shades from M&S. (Like the pineapple dish? Also Homesense).

Glass and gold lamp base with black and gold lampshade from Marks & Spencers

One of my favourite things in the room are these pink velvet boudoir cushions with gold tassels from H&M Home. I’m also quite proud of my homemade artwork. I’m not normally a ‘words as pictures’ kinda girl. I usually put them in the same box as wooden hearts on string. But get rid of pithy statements about friendship or love, or orders to keep calm, and I’m in. I bought frames from IKEA and customised picture mounts online and had a local printer print my designs for a few quid. Total cost about £15 per picture. Bargain. As the head of the bed is relatively low, the wall needed some big art and this 2 over 3 formation accentuates the height of the ceiling.

Pink velvet boudoir cushions with gold tassels from H&M home. Homemade art by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

A few more accessories and we’re done.

Pink and purple bowls and purple tea light holder from Homesense

Bowls and tea light holders from Homesense

Round gold picture frames and black and gold pineapple from Homesense

Gold picture frames and a black and gold pineapple I sneaked in – also Homesense

Black and gold scented candle from Homesense. Small candle from H&M home

Large scented candle (looks a little like BIBA doesn’t it?) from Homesense. Small candle from H&M Home

The mirror was a great find in the clearance section of my local Laura Ashley – should have been £300, reduced to £137.50.

Large rectangular Gatsby mirror from Laura Ashley

Gold hurricane style lamp Homesense

So what do you think of the pink bedroom? I’m absolutely tickled pink and so is LM.