Throughout my career whatever job I was doing I always had a reputation for ‘getting stuff done’. And as an interior designer I continue to focus on doing things right, doing them on time, and always on or under budget. I am also a tad competitive (possibly the worlds greatest understatement…) So when the owner of the John Dalton Building in Cockermouth set me the challenge of turning one of their new apartments into a show home in just 4 weeks I set myself the goal of doing it in 3, and I did. So who is up for an exclusive sneak preview before open house this weekend? Continue reading
As an interior designer I believe the relationships we have with our homes are no different to the relationships we have with our partners in some respects. They are rarely perfect, and always involve compromise. At Holly Cottage I traded lack of natural light for space, character and garden. Obviously Mr W is perfect…..as well as a reader of my blog *slaps leg and chuckles at her own wit*
And like our personal relationships, sometimes we neglect them. We get complacent. Treats don’t need to be expensive but we stop making an effort. And if this goes on for too long we forget what we fell in love with and start noticing every flaw. And sadly in both cases this can lead us to Rightmove.
The role of the Interior Designer
An interior designer wears many hats, a fellow interior designer once referred to us as ‘project managers and problem solvers with taste’ which about sums it up. But what a good interior designer can also do is make you fall in love with your home again. We’re like new buyers when we walk into your homes, but the kind that can see potential. That fresh pair of eyes and the ability to see what could be achieved is worth its weight in gold. Mr W would never have bought Holly Cottage if I hadn’t a hissy fit. I know, so unlike me….
And just to blow my own trumpet for a second, I am told I have a hugely infectious positive can-do attitude. You see gloomy 1980’s kitchen….
I see the smart modern shaker style kitchen you’ve dreamed about with space for the downstairs loo you’ve always wanted.
I’m a whirlwind of positive energy that will practically force you to fall in love with your home again. Remember that poky dark guest bedroom you had?
A distant memory since I turned it into a second sitting room overlooking the fields behind your house, with a sofa bed for guests and a new dressing area for you.
If I had a theme tune it would be Take That’s ‘Re-light my fire’. You complain about lack of wardrobe space in your bedroom and can’t see a solution that doesn’t involve swapping your marital kingsize bed for bunk beds…
I suggest we steal 60cm from the room next door and double your hanging space and save your marriage. You see unsurmountable problems. I show you the light at the end of the tunnel.
When I bought Holly Cottage the kitchen lacked storage and worktop space and had this huge void in the centre of the room.
So I built out the chimney breast and knocked a hole in it big enough for a new range cooker and added an island. Well I didn’t personally but you know what I mean.
You see a reason to move.
I show you why you should stay. I’m like Viagra for the house.
Got time for a couple more before and afters?
Go on, one more since you asked so nicely..
So if you’ve fallen out of love with your home and can’t see any way of getting it back don’t despair, get in touch and I’ll help you put the fire back into your relationship.
Amelia Wilson, Interior Designer and Passion Reigniter!
The owner of this Georgian bedroom, well part owner, is a writer of romantic fiction. Which is compelling me to make my writing style a little more poetic than usual. We finished her master bedroom last year and now have some very dramatic before and afters to show you. So brace yourself for a slightly steamy ‘tongue in cheek’ literary themed post. Hell I might even throw in a few phrases and adjectives more suited to a Mills & Boon novel. Well why not it’s got your interest hasn’t it?
Flashback to the master bedroom of a beautiful old Georgian farm cottage in the wilds of West Cumbria. It was a little neglected, and (due to lack of storage space) more dishevelled than the farmers daughter after a tumble in the hay with the young farm hand. Quite frankly a tall dark handsome stranger could have lurked mysteriously in a corner for quite some time before being noticed such was the homeowners need for hanging space…..
Our heroine a romance novelist and hardworking mother of two longed for a beautiful bedroom. One without woodchip wallpaper and worn carpet, and perhaps, dare she dream fitted wardrobes and even some decent lighting. But where to start?
Her husband, a public servant with smouldering good looks (you’re very welcome Ian), also dreamt of a place with plentiful hanging space. But he had his hands full with other important stuff. And so the days came and went and their bedroom remained cluttered.
Then one day our heroine was driving down a winding country lane. The rain pounded against the windows and the wind buffeted her little car from side to side between the hedgerows. As she turned into the village she heard an advert on the radio for Amelia Wilson, an interior designer and project manager. Misty eyed she looked into the rear view mirror and clutching her ample bosom with one hand (remember she’s driving) she asked herself, could this be the answer to my prayers? Is there really a person out there who could turn my dreams into reality and organise all the work? Quickly, before she rear ended the tractor in front of her, our heroine returned her eyes to the road (and her hand to the wheel) and drove home, where she immediately sat down and googled Amelia.
Well that is after she had unpacked the shopping, made tea, bathed and put the kids to bed and done two loads of washing.
Fast forward two weeks and our heroine and designer meet and the designer goes away to form a plan for a Georgian bedroom. Finding inspiration in the heroines treasured bedspread she decides on a colour scheme of sage green and ivory with accents of royal blue. There would be a mixture of antique and newer pieces of furniture, with some subtle florals and vintage accessories. The focal point however would be the new fitted wardrobes, wardrobes fit for a king. The designer returns and shows the plan to the heroine and her dashing husband. They make one child friendly modification (no cloches….), and remove the botanical prints in order to appease the dashing husband, and then agree to get started.
They all agreed that a Georgian bedroom required Georgian style wardrobes…. Enter our knight in shining armour Kevin with his trusty squire Dean. Together in a very manly way with lots of sweat and power tools they rip out the existing cupboard and install custom made wall to wall wardrobes with Georgian style panelled doors and ornate plinths and cornice. The wardrobes are broken up by two large bookcases providing a home for our heroines many books, and have cleverly concealed storage space behind them. Perfect for hiding the childrens Christmas presents.
And they didn’t stop there, Kevin also made Georgian style panels to match the wardrobe doors for either side of the window, replacing what would have been there originally, and restrung the sash windows so they glided open once more.
Cue dramatic music as Sandy the electrician arrives on the scene…..Disaster has struck. The antique bag chandelier which has come all the way from France needs re-wiring, despite the Etsy seller telling the designer that it would be wired for use in the UK. But Sandy is also a knight in shining armour and just rewires it. Problem solved.
But the plot thickens, Kevin and Sandy aren’t the only knights competing for ‘best tradesman in West Cumbria’. Enter Michael Fulton Professional Painter & Decorator. He comes up with an ingenious solution to the woodchip in our heroines bedroom. He sees no need to strip *pause for effect* He avoids costly plastering and copious amounts of dust by lining the walls with thick lining paper. Leaving the walls as smooth as a young maidens skin and ready for painting. And paint them he does, along with the ceiling, wardrobes, windows and the antique pine coloured bed.
While all this is happening the heroines new bedroom chair arrives. The box it comes in is so big the dashing husband rolls up his sleeves and with the aid of scissors and packing tape turns it into a playhouse, earning himself and our heroine a much needed break while their young children entertain themselves with their new toy.
Last to arrive on the scene are the fitters from Tony Roberts Carpets Direct. After much sucking of teeth at the weight of the enormous carpet and the bed which could not be moved out of the bedroom they lay the new underlay and carpet.
Then in a last minute twist Kevin has to return to fit the curtain pole and hang the mirror. For as dashing as our heroines husband is he does not posses the tools (nor the patience I suspect) to get screws to stay in the thick stone walls of their Georgian cottage. So Kevin arrives, he fits, he hangs, and he leaves and suddenly the house is quiet……
The curtains have been hung, the lamps lit, all their clothes have been unpacked and put away in the new wardrobes, and books have been placed on the bookshelves. The Georgian bedroom is finished.
And it is beautiful.
The wall colour is Muted Sage by Dulux. We used Dulux Endurance which is scrubbable so it doesn’t matter if our heroines little cherubs draw on the walls…. The woodwork has been painted an off-white called Wild Mushroom by Valspar. Both colours work beautifully with our heroines treasured bedspread.
The new wardrobes are a triumph. The door handles were salvaged from their old dresser before it was taken away and inside there is hanging space galore, shelves for folded items and storage baskets for smalls. Full length mirrors line the centre doors and as our heroine has never had a full length mirror in this room she is beside herself with joy.
They have a new antique bedding box, sourced from an Aladdin’s cave of antique and vintage treasure in Manchester and just given a good clean and polish.
The newly re-wired antique bag chandelier casts sparkly light all over the bedroom and adds a touch of glamour.
….and they have a new pair of antique brass touch lamps on their nightstands. Apparently touch lights are a godsend when a child shouts for you in the middle of the night – no fumbling around looking for the switch. Notice how the radiator has been painted to blend in to the walls?
And yes I know the bedsides don’t match. Where’s the rule that says they need to? The husband liked his old one and I sourced a secondhand one for our heroine. Everyone’s happy.
The utterly gorgeous blue velvet chair is the only ‘new’ piece of furniture and is from Atkin & Thyme. Unfortunately the cats are fans too… The floor lamp and side table are more of my antique finds and the green floral curtains are a Dunelm bargain which we had shortened. Just look at that lovely new panelling around the windows, you’d think it was original.
They already had the antique bureau, and the vintage mirror and wash bowl and pitcher set were charity shop finds. But I’ll let you in to a little styling secret. The bowl and pitcher set used to live on my bedroom windowsill and only came along as a prop for the photographs, but the heroine fell in love with them so I left them behind. I’m good like that.
So our story has come to an end and all that is left to tell you is that our heroine and her dashing husband love their beautiful new boudoir, with its relaxing colour scheme, bountiful storage, and acres of clutter free floor space. The only ones pouting now are the cats as I’ve taken away all their hiding places. But other than that they all lived happily ever after.
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….
And without further ado, drum roll please (click here – honest its an actual drum roll), here’s how her bedroom looks now.
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.
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…..
LM likes older furniture so I took a trip to my favourite antiques warehouse in Manchester and picked up two chests of drawers.
One is actually a Gentleman’s Chest with a lift up lid and compartments for gloves, ties, cufflinks etc. Great for costume jewellery!
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.
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……
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.
The Lloyd Loom chair was a car boot find which I sprayed black with dipped gold legs.
Next, lighting. This is what she had before.
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.
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).
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.
A few more accessories and we’re done.
Bowls and tea light holders from Homesense
Gold picture frames and a black and gold pineapple I sneaked in – also Homesense
The mirror was a great find in the clearance section of my local Laura Ashley – should have been £300, reduced to £137.50.
Gold hurricane style lamp Homesense
So what do you think of the pink bedroom? I’m absolutely tickled pink and so is LM.
I should have realised a long time ago that I wanted to be an interior designer, just based on the number of times I would re-arrange my bedroom furniture and beg my mum to redecorate. Money was tight and we were a single parent family so my mum handled all home improvements herself. She could do anything, and I mean anything. She even owned her own set of drain rods. Best not to ask why. She once embarked on a project to convert our cellars into a granny flat and undertook all the work herself, by which I mean her plus her personal child labour force. My friends still laugh now at the memory of staying over at my house during school holidays and my mum’s parting shot (shouted up the stairs as I was still in bed) as she went off to work being “Amy! I want three wheel barrows of soil off you before you go out”. When I look back I admire her ‘can do’ attitude and work ethic (which I inherited) but I wish she hadn’t been quite as…..inclusive. The motorbike, cigar smoking, naturism and accordion playing also made for an interesting childhood but that’s a whole book not a blog post….
So back to children’s bedrooms. I have a new customer and my first deliverable is designs for her 7yr old daughter and her 8yr old sons bedrooms. For the daughter, mum would like simple and tasteful, with a splash of Laura Ashley. Something that will see her into her teen years. Daughter wants pink hearts, princesses and diamonds. The kind of bedroom I would have loved but never been allowed. The son is actually trickier. He is interested but not passionate about a range of things including football, rugby, drumming and getting a dog, and likes just about every primary colour. Our conversations yesterday just showed me that kids are not that different to a lot of adults when it comes to decorating their bedrooms. They don’t really know what they want. They’ve seen a few accessories or a bed they like, but can’t visualize or create a coherent scheme which incorporates them. But that’s great news, because that’s my job as an interior designer.
Things the daughter would love: from left, tutu table cover from Etsy, carriage bed found on babble.com and princess bedroom from decorative bedroom.com.
So I’ve got some ideas and as the research has been so much fun I thought I would share some of my findings. Stop reading now if a) you are bitter about the boring bedroom you had as a kid, b) you’re reading this with a small child and don’t want them to see stuff you won’t want to buy them, or c) you hate pink.
Great storage idea for dolls or action figures. If you’re not a seamstress just use one of those over door hangers for shoes. (Sources from left: lovechicliving.co.uk, Buzzfeed and Babble.com)
I love this girls bedroom as it’s girly but a little whimsical (hello unicorn) with a vintage edge. (Source: Pinterest)
Eerio Aarnio is a Finnish interior designer and furniture designer and has created this ball chair in a variety of colours. This pink one would look cool in a retro teenagers bedroom, but look away if you can’t afford the £500 price tag….
This bedroom has been designed for a teenage girl but with different coloured seating could work just as well for a boy. It’s got that cool ‘Manhattan loft’ vibe without being too grown up. (Source: Pinterest)
Definitely one for the boys now. I love the attention to detail around this amazing plane bed; the world map wallpaper, the luggage clothes storage, the cloud ceiling. Truly fantastic interior design. (Source: hgtv.com)
High beds for small children make me a little nervous. But you have to admit, who wouldn’t want a slide in their bedroom? (all from Pinterest)