Category Archives: Furniture

Opulent Interiors

The Christmas decorations have come down and the house is looking bare. It’s dark and cold outside. The news is all sad events and depressing politics, and worse still for some of us it’s a dry month. I think we all need a pick me up, and maybe a little sparkle in our lives, so the trend for opulent interiors couldn’t have come at a better time.

Opulent interiors luxurious living room and dining room

Image via Nathalie Priem Photography

Opulence in my own home is something I can only dream about. I have an old house in a very boggy part of the country, half way down what is only one notch up from a dirt track. And I have two dogs. Velvet has no place at Holly Cottage. But that doesn’t stop me from fantasising, and 2017 is about to supply me with a steady stream of luxurious loveliness to covet and force on present to my customers.

Opulent interiors - the Fendi boutique hotel in Rome

Palazzo Fendi in Rome – image via KOKET

The opulent or luxe look is heavily influenced by 1920’s Art Deco and the fashions of 18th century France,. It’s definitely not a subtle look but you do not want to overdo it and recreate the Palace of Versailles in your living room. Though if you do, please can I come round and take photo’s?

The key to getting it right is by having just one or two statement pieces in the room. Striking items that are well designed, and made with really good quality materials or fabrics.

Opulent interiors - Furia Odyssey blue velvet sofa and velvet ottoman

Furia Odyssey blue velvet sofa – image via John Lewis

Metallics

In the 1990’s everyone fell into one of two camps. If your taps, toilet roll holder and door knobs were gold you were old fashioned. If they were chrome you were fashionable. And choice wise that was it. But over the last couple of years polished, brushed and antiqued versions of gold, silver, bronze and copper (although apparently we call this rose gold now) have found their way into our furniture, lighting and accessories, although frustratingly not so many taps and bathroom fittings – why is that?. So metallics are not a new trend, but there are other elements which have pushed their way to the front pages and home pages of the interiors world, which when combined with existing trends like metallics tip us over from a little bit of luxe to pure opulence.

Opulent interiors - gold metallic finishes in a luxurious dining room

Image via John Lewis

Velvet

One of those new elements is velvet, and when it comes to fabric, velvet is the epitome of opulence (try saying that after a few). It’s soft dense pile screams luxury and is incredibly tactile. You literally cannot take your hands off it. I challenge you, try and walk past a velvet sofa without copping a feel. Bet you can’t.

It used to be made from silk and was expensive to produce, which is why it was associated with the rich. But thanks to the use of cotton and synthetics and new manufacturing techniques even us paupers can afford it. So if you want to be bang on trend in 2017 then buy a velvet sofa. If I could have velvet at Holly Cottage then I think I’d have the Crumpet sofa from Loaf in burnt orange. I love the shape and the name, and I wouldn’t need to change my curtains – bingo.

Opulent interiors - burnt orange velvet sofa from loaf

Crumpet sofa from Loaf – image via Real Homes

I’ve been trying to find a home for this emerald green IKEA sofa since I spotted it 2 years ago. Maybe now I’ll be able to find a place for it……It has removable covers and is only £1,000 which for a large velvet sofa is a bit of billy bargain.

Opulent interiors - emerald green velvet sofa from IKEA

Emerald green Stockholm sofa £1,000 from IKEA

But if you’re not ready to change your sofa then buy a velvet chair, or really make a statement with two in different colours.

Opulent interiors - Penelope velvet armchairs from sofa.com

Penelope velvet armchairs from sofa.com

Or take the opulence into the bedroom with a large velvet headboard (it must be large) or better still an upholstered bed.

Opulent interiors - plush plum velvet upholstered bed

Image via Houzz

Precious gems

Now you may have noticed a bit of a colour theme with all the images I’ve been showing you. If you really want to nail the 2017 opulent interiors look then make sure the colour of your statement piece is emerald, sapphire, ruby, amethyst, topaz, turquoise or any other colour associated with jewels. Or use these colours to accessorise.

Opulent interiors - velvet upholstery fabric from Sanderson in jewel colours

Boho Velvet fabrics from Sanderson

Dark walls

Now for those of you that have only just moved from magnolia to pale grey and are a bit  “thats quite dark enough for me thank you very much” then this isn’t an essential component in opulent interiors. BUT metallics, velvets and jewel colours do look amazing against dark walls. So if you’re going for the look, why not go the whole hog.

Opulent interiors - plum and gold velvet against teal walls

Image via Houzz

I just love these emerald greens against these dark grey walls….just lush.

Opulent interiors - emerald green velvet furnishings in dark grey living room

Image via Houzz

So what do you think, is there room in your home for a little opulence?

 

 

 

 

The Ginormous Living Room

It’s been a hectic year for Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd, aka me. My version of the Twelve Days of Christmas would go something like ‘6 living rooms, 5 bathrooms, 4 bedrooms, 3 kitchens, 1 dressing room, 1 dining room, 1 hallway, a pub, a showroom, a shop and an office. Good job I wasn’t approached by a partridge in a pear tree as I’d have had to turn it down.

I’ve been so busy I haven’t even had time to properly photograph finished projects to show you lovely people. I know I know the before and afters are the best bit. We all love howling at how ugly the old carpet/wallpaper/sofa was don’t we. So I promise to pull my finger out in the New Year….*adds another item to list of New Years resolutions after stop eating so much and start running again*

So although the room I’m about to show you was still missing a sofa and a sideboard when I left on Wednesday, and the pictures and gallery wall will go up in January I’m going to show you some pics anyway ‘cos it’s Christmas, it’s fabulous and it’s the largest single room I’ve ever decorated – I’ve got friends in London with smaller flats. So without further ado I present to you – the Ginormous Living Room.

The Challenge

Now before you start pointing fingers NONE of this was furnished or decorated by the homeowners. They inherited the whole kit and caboodle from the previous owners and have been saving since they bought the property so they could change everything. The challenge though was what to do with such a big room.

Before images of living room in West Cumbria decorated by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Sort of reminds you of a lodge somewhere in midwest America doesn’t it?

Before images of living room in West Cumbria decorated by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The homeowners were sat on the couch when I took this pic and I didn’t think they’d thank me for including them so ignore the blur…

 The Plan

The good news was that the homeowners knew the look they wanted, which I call ‘modern country’. And that doesn’t mean Taylor Swift, it’s more about mixing traditionally rustic features with modern elements. You’ll see what I mean if I show you the plans. It took two moodboards the room is so big….

Moodboard for living room project created by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Moodboard for living room project created by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The newly decorated Ginormous Living Room

Now before I show you anything, please excuse the amateur iPhone photography, the sun kept streaming through the windows (what’s all that about in Cumbria in bloody December), so I’ve had to edit the pics to get rid of the glare. Please also avert your eyes from the rubbish outside which we haven’t had time to shift. Sorry, I’ll stop apologising and just get on with it – ta da!

Living room decorated in a modern country style by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Totally different room right? Bye bye ugly fake beams, antique pine clad ceiling and wrought iron staircase (we don’t even need to mention the carpet do we…). Hello beautiful, and relaxing but elegant living room.

Living room decorated in a modern country style by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

That chimney was just crying out for a stove wasn’t it?

Living room decorated in a modern country style by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

So I’ve given the room two zones – and this is the grown up’s bit for a glass of wine after the little’un is in bed and when they have friends round.

Living room decorated in a modern country style by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The plan was to paint the lower half of that coffee table in Farrow & Ball Rectory Red, and we might still.

Living room decorated in a modern country style by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

I think the new lighting is my favourite bit.

Living room decorated in a modern country style by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

So this is where the second couch (leather BTW) will go when it arrives. They did promise before Christmas so they still have 24hrs but I’m not holding my breath….

Living room decorated in a modern country style by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

…and this is where the sideboard now sits in the more child friendly zone, i.e. wipe clean sofa, washable covers on the armchair and a very fluffy rug for floor play time. Now that the sideboard has arrived I can work out how big the gallery wall we have planned needs to be. I love that snuggler chair and footstool from IKEA, it’s a perfect match for the Laura Ashley plaid sofa isn’t it?

Living room decorated in a modern country style by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

And just when you thought the room couldn’t get any bigger it wraps around into the dining room (the kitchen is to the left). I wish now I’d taken a decent pic of the new staircase that fabulous joiner Kevin Robinson supplied and fitted, but you’ll see it when I do the final photographs.

So it brought a few challenges – that high ceiling being one for the plasterers, decorator and electrician, and getting the layout right. But what a transformation eh?. I’m chuffed to bits with the result, and I must confess have a little bit of house envy.

Would love to know what you think?

Kitchen Mystery No. 3 – Kitchen Stools

Sorry it’s been a few weeks since my last post but I’ve got that rather nice problem of lots of work right now. I’ve got a few projects in implementation, including The Swan Inn, which is really starting to take shape. I’ve been pillaging the local charity shops for accessories and dragged Mr W in there last night so he can see work in progress. Well I say dragged….  It was quite entertaining actually, I was like a mystery shopper quizzing all the regulars about what they thought of the changes without telling them I was the designer. Thankfully feedback was good or it might would have ruined my night.. us designers are sensitive about our work you know.

I’ve also got three new design jobs on including a Victorian terrace, a Georgian farm cottage and an already very elegant stone townhouse. And if that wasn’t enough to keep me busy I’m taking a stand at the Lakes Hospitality Association trade show next week. To say the plan for my stand is ambitious is an understatement. It’s been like the Great Interior Design challenge at Holly Cottage, what with me making lampshades and hunting for accessories on eBay (including the fabulous hostess trolley below). Mr W has been painting furniture, papering plywood boards and fixing picture frames all week. Not sure what I’d have done if he hadn’t become my house husband retired.

Gold hostess trolley

We also had some friends stay last week who were on route to Black Sail youth hostel (possibly the most isolated hostel in the country, but great walking and spectacular views).  One of them has been running an amusing series of posts on Facebook entitled ‘Kitchen Mysteries’.

Kitchen Mystery No 1 – Tupperware

Why can you never find the matching lid for the plastic container you want to use? (Check out how organised she is tho, you open my tupperware cupboard and everything falls out).

Kitchen mystery number 1 - why no lids for the tuppaware

Kitchen Mystery No. 2 – Herbs & Spices

Why is it that you can have a cupboard full of herbs and spices but never the ones you need for the recipe you want to cook? (Again, very organised, but she did used to work for Ikea and I think they make you take a course on storage).

Kitchen mystery number 2 - never the spices you need

This week I offer up my contribution, a problem that almost drove me crazy this month when I was working on a new kitchen design.

Kitchen Mystery No. 3 – Kitchen Stools

Why are retailers still selling ugly kitchen stools that belong in the 1980’s, without even pretending they’re retro?

Seriously, google kitchen stools and see the monstrosities that pop up. Like these. Yikes.

Kitchen mystery number 3 - why are there so many ugly kitchen stools on the market

The Kitchen Stool Challenge

The biggest problem I have when I’m designing kitchens and looking for seating is height. There are lots of lovely bar stools on the market, probably because the designers of bar stools understand that there are bar owners that care about aesthetics. But I’ll be honest I’m not quite sure what some kitchen stool designers are thinking. Or maybe I’m just rubbish at my job and can’t find all the nice ones. But anyway, back to height. The difference if you’re wondering is about 10-15cm. If your breakfast bar is the same height as your kitchen worktops then you need a seat height of around 65cm for your kitchen stools, whereas bar stools tend to be 75-80cm. Fascinating eh?

Now you can raise your breakfast bar, which is what our American friends tend to do.

Breakfast bar in white kitchen designed by Kitchen Stori via Houzz

Raised breakfast bar in contemporary kitchen designed by Kitchen Stori, image via Houzz

Then you could have these babies by Zeitraum. Well you could if £579 per stool isn’t an issue.

Kitchens - Morph walnut wood bar stool by Zeitraum, available from madeindesign.co.uk

Morph walnut bar stool by Zeitraum available at madeindesign.com

You can also lower the counter and use dining chairs. Personally I’m not a fan as it always feels a little like I’m sitting at the kiddy table.

Low level breakfast bar in Highgate Kitchen photographed by Paul Craig Photography

Low level breakfast bar, image via Houzz

But these two tone dining chairs from Design Icons would look fabulous, and they come in red, taupe, nougat, mustard, sky blue, black and white so you can mix ’em up if you like. Currently in sale for £137.70 each so a little more affordable than the bar stools above.

Calligaris Jam dining chairs with sleigh style legs

Calligaris Jam dining chairs available from designicons.co.uk

So what I have I managed to find for you lovely people that just want a regular counter level breakfast bar? Well thank you for asking, I’ll show you.

First up these lovely wire kitchen stools by Pastoe and available on Clippings.com. You have a choice of black, white, grey, blue or red. Lovely as they are though, at £270 each they’re not going to be in everyones budget. They also come as a bar stool or a dining chair so very versatile. If I could afford them I think I’d need to add a seat pad. I don’t want to think about the amount of my bum that would poke through the gaps…..

KM06 Kitchen stool in Haze Grey by Pastoe on Clippings.com

Wire kitchen stools by Pastoe and available on clippings.com

Adjustable seats are very handy if like me you’re a short arse. And if you like the industrial look then these from Industville are great quality and at £99 very affordable. I put one of them in the kitchen showroom I designed recently and they’ve been very popular.

Adjustable height industrial kitchen stool from Industville

Adjustable height industrial kitchen stool from Industville

If you need a bit of cushioning what about these glam girls? Available in black or white leather, and in two heights. They’re not cheap at $375 (£260 to us Brits) from One Kings Lane. Unfortunately they don’t ship outside the US but there are some suggested shipping companies on their website. Would look great if you’re going for the luxe look in your kitchen or if you had a retro bar.

Black leather and gold kitchen counter or bar stool from One Kings Lane

Lakeshore stool from One Kings Lane

I’m starting to wish I’d bought something with a backrest for my own kitchen though. I’m too old these days to perch on a stool that doesn’t have lumbar support. So I’m thinking about these beauties made by District Eight Design in Vietnam and available through outandoutoriginal.com. Just don’t tell Mr W as he thinks the kitchen is finished. When will he realise that your home is NEVER finished when you live with an interior designer?

Adjustable industrial kitchen stool by District Eight Design

Industrial kitchen stools by District Eight Design

When I was styling the showroom for Cockermouth Kitchens I bought a couple of these moulded plastic chairs from Cult Furniture. They come in 12 different colours (shown here in olive) and a choice of leg finishes. They are soooo comfortable and only £89 each.

Moulded plastic Charles Eames style kitchen stools with eiffel legs from Cult Furniture

So this is what ended up on the mood board for the kitchen I just finished. The homeowner wanted affordable, adjustable, cushioned, easy to clean and with a backrest. So they might not be your cup of tea but they met the brief (£99 for two BTW) and the customer loved them. Personally I’m not a fan of stools with a gas lift mechanism but I do like the leather and curves on these.  A little Charles Eames-esque

Carcaso chrome and brown leather adjustable height bar stools from www.simplybarstools.co.uk

Brown leather and chrome adjustable stools from www.simplybarstools.co.uk

So logging off now. I’ve got lists to make for the show this week. Can’t get half way down the motorway and realise I’ve forgotten the electric screwdriver or the pasting table…..

P.S I nearly called this post Stool Samples which had me sniggering for ages, but Mr W the professional part of me wouldn’t allow it.

My favourite toilet doors ever

Quick post as I’ve got a few projects finishing at the same time so its a bit hectic at Holly Cottage. Of course it’s my own fault, organising a 3 day jaunt to London at this time of year. In my defence though I was initially playing the role of ‘bike mule’ couriering one of Mr W’s fancy road bikes south, but then Mr W got made redundant……..I know, big news! Expect future postings to go off track as I adjust to living full-time with my husband. So even though my bike mule services were no longer required I decided to stick with the plan as I love nothing more than a troll round the many retailers that don’t exist in Cumbria (that would be all of them then…) and do a little restaurant and bar hopping to see what’s new in the hospitality design space. So as a result here are three new items for the Fantasy Pad, a little Christmas cheer courtesy of Heals and my favourite toilet doors EVER.

so fantasy pad item 1, the Tisno armchair and footstool from Heals. I am  little obsessed with leather chairs and would furnish my whole house with them if I had room, and the money….. This one is just shy of £2k for both in this lovely soft leather. You can have a wool version but why would you.

Tisno armchair and footstool from Heals

Tisno armchair and footstool from Heals

Fantasy pad item number 2, the Windsor chair designed by Katie Walker for Heals. Katie makes very beautiful pieces but is probably best known outside design circles for designing Prince George’s highchair. This baby starts at £2295.

Windsor chair designed by Katie Walker for Heals

…..and looks good with the obligatory sheepskin that manages to make any chair look cool

Windsor chair designed by Katie Walker for Heals

Windsor chair designed by Katie Walker for Heals

Fantasy pad item number 3 is a pair of oak and leather lounge chairs designed by Gareth Neal for Heals. I haven’t decided whether to have black or tan or one of each in the fantasy pad. What the hell they’re only £895….

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 11.04.53  Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 11.05.21

Ease lounge chairs by Gareth Neal for Heals

In other news I have broken my Christmas rule – NO DECORATIONS BEFORE 1ST DECEMBER. I blame Heals. Their festive displays practically had me carolling in Tottenham Court Rd. As soon as I got home I was in the garage hauling out the Christmas trees (yes plural). They also prompted me to do things a little differently this year. Now don’t worry I’m not going to go all interior designer on you and start showing you 5 different looks for Christmas. I’m actually from the more is more, santa’s grotto school of thinking when it comes to Christmas decorations. Taste only gets a minor look in. I even purchased a light up reindeer for the garden last year…..

So anyway back to Heals. Their displays were all a little Nordic. Very natural looking, lots of wood, faux fur, pine, cones, candles and dried fruit.

Heals Christmas display

Christmas at Heals

This dark blue velvet looks fab with the fur cushions and throw

Heals Christmas display

Christmas at Heals

I do love a white Christmas scheme with lots of greenery

Heals Christmas display

Christmas at Heals

The Gareth Neal Ease lounge chairs (below left) also fit well with this this look

Heals Christmas display

Christmas at Heals

I already had a lot of cones and dried fruit in my Christmas stash so I stocked up on candles when I passed through IKEA on Sunday and I’ve paired back the tinsel and gone for a more natural approach myself this year. I picked up these wooden reindeer tree decorations in Wilko last year which fit perfectly with my new Nordic/natural look. They have a metal version in their Natures Noel collection this year.

IMG_5088

Natures Noel Christmas Decoration Collection at Wilko

And now for the best toilet doors ever (cue drum roll). I’m obsessed with Hospitality design and it’s amazing I haven’t been arrested yet for taking photos in bathrooms. I suspect many people don’t even notice the detail that has gone into some of the designs I’ve seen and admired. But not me, I’m in there with the camera and forcing my male friends to take pics in the mens loos. These were in All Bar One in Houndsditch, London and are my favourite toilet doors by a country mile. I think the pictures of hanging dresses are genius and would look good on wardrobe doors too. The mens loos had ties on them BTW. My so called friend Phil forgot to take the pic when he went to spend a penny….

Hospitality Design - toilet doors in All Bar One Houndsditch

Anyway, back to work and an early Merry Christmas to you all

Furnishing the fantasy pad

As much as I love Cumbria the shopping could be better (and I don’t mean just from the perspective of an interior designer). So I need to head to London occasionally for a little retail therapy very important business research….. (HomeSense, please please open a store in Cumbria I beg of you). Last weeks jaunt to the London Design Festival was fun and I got a few new interiors ideas but the time I spent trawling around all the furniture and homeware stores and departments was probably more productive as a lot of what is exhibited at these design events is well outside the budgets of most of my customers.

But one day I could land a millionaire customer (we do have them in Cumbria you know) so in preparation I am hoarding things on Pinterest under the heading The Fantasy Pad. What goes inside The Fantasy Pad has to meet one of the following criteria:

  1. Is way outside most budgets
  2. Is too big to fit in any normal home
  3. Is cool but I’m not sure where I would put it

And I’ve found the perfect property for the fantasy pad when my millionaire customer turns up, a £30m ‘fixer upper’ in London! At 6107 square foot (a mere £5k per square foot) there will be plenty of room for all my fantasy items. Having had many famous residents it has all the credibility a fantasy pad should have, and apparently it’s in need of modernisation throughout – perfect!

£30m fixer upper 80 Eaton Square London

£30m ‘fixer upper’ in Belgravia London

First item for the fantasy pad will be a pair of Beatnik private sound cocoons. They’re only €5500 each so why not. They’re modelled here by a student visiting 100% Design at Olympia. They’re ergonomic and connect to your laptop, mobile phone, tablet or mp3 player using bluetooth or Apple’s Airplay technology. Perfect for Sunday afternoon ‘don’t disturb me and I won’t disturb you’ surfing, reading and general loafing.

IMG_4562

Beatnik Sound Station

Next through the fantasy door is a bath so beautiful you would never bathe in it for fear of damaging it. I stood gazing at it longingly for so long I made the salesman very nervous. Made of wooden veneers and a snip at £11,000. I might even put one in each en-suite.

IMG_4546

Laguna bathtub by Alegna

You’ll notice I am furnishing the fantasy pad without any thought to overall style. Another indulgence. It is a fantasy pad after all I can worry about style when I meet my millionaire customer.

Next out of the removal van, this rocking day bed, shown here on a stand so it wouldn’t rock. This probably meets all three criteria as it was over £5k and huge, but it fit most comfortably in ‘cool but not really sure where I’d put it’. I mean it wasn’t really big enough for 2 people, getting on it was a bit tricky even on the stand, and you couldn’t properly lie down. I just liked it.

IMG_4556

 Rocking daybed from Se7e Life Design

I don’t think my fixer upper has a garden, but lets pretend it does so I can have four of these beautiful pebble seats around a fish pond. They were surprisingly comfortable, very tactile and sort of relaxing to sit on. Made you feel like you were sat on a big rock on a beach somewhere. They were outside my budget which is why they made it into the fantasy pad (from £3k depending on the size you went for) but they’d be perfect in the gardens of a spa hotel if I could just persuade one of my local ones to employ me….. Ben and Jen on the stand were very lovely too.

IMG_4550

Pebble Seat by Ben Barrell

In the entrance to my fantasy pad I’m thinking about having this amazing handmade glass leaf chandelier. It’s supplied by Gladee who are based in the Design Centre at Chelsea Harbour. I didn’t ask how much it was, I was in Chelsea, I already knew it would meet my first criteria. Gorgeous though isn’t it – fits with my autumn vibe.

IMG_4591

Last on the list for now is just in case the fantasy millionaire customer is a Dr Who fan or my friend Phil (who is a Dr Who fan and has a birthday next month) becomes or meets a millionaire. £1500 from Lots Road Auctions in Chelsea. Would look great behind the couch…

Gladee

Dalek

Lots Road Auctions

So I’m closing the door on the pad for now as I’ve got chickens to feed and a dog to walk, but if you had a fantasy pad what would you furnish it with?

Autumn – a look for life not just the season

Central heating alert – Autumn has arrived in Cumbria! I’m not complaining though. I’m actually one of the few Brits that doesn’t complain about our weather. I love our climate, our seasons and the unpredictability of our weather. Few places in the world offer this much variety without the extreme. We get sun, wind, rain and snow, but we don’t get forest fires, tornadoes, hurricanes and arctic blizzards. At least not yet; if we keep damaging the planet it might not be long before polar bears are eating my chickens.

And I love autumn. It’s when Cumbria is at its most beautiful. Our high rainfall makes for a lush county and when autumn comes the change from green to a thousand shades of red, orange, brown and gold is breathtaking. This blaze of colour was the inspiration for my living room, and this month it’s popping up in all the interiors shops and magazines.

When we viewed our house the living room had a cream carpet (ridiculous in a rural location), an ugly off centre ceiling pendant (the ceiling is only just above the average head height), wall lights in random locations, plug sockets half way up the walls, gloss painted beams and a hideous gas fire. And that was just the living room. Mr W was positively disinterested but I could see the potential and used my powers of persuasion (I pouted and sulked) to convince him we should buy it. So we did.

Since then we’ve changed the carpet to oak flooring. We’ve replaced the lighting with recessed spots, over picture lights and a table lamp and relocated the plug sockets. We had the beams restored and removed the gas fire to find the original sandstone fireplace and bread oven (flashback to me being delighted and outraged at the same time), which we also restored. The previous owners wouldn’t recognise it.

Rustic living room in autumn shades

My Autumn inspired living room

I spent months looking for fabric in the right shades of burnt orange, red and green, but once I had everything else just followed.

Burnt orange, green and plaid moon wool fabrics

Wool fabrics from Moon

Persian rug in rustic living room

Persian rug from Persis, Stockport. Leaf dishes from Bitter Beck Pottery. Bowling balls from Yew Tree Barn

Autumn accessories in rustic living room

More autumnal accessories – candle and stand from Lily & Co, fern vase from Bitter Beck Pottery

Glassware in autumn colours

Glassware in autumn shades from Tesco Home

Now if you’re sat there thinking “well I don’t live in a cottage or barn so the autumn look won’t work for me” then think again. This isn’t a purely rustic look, its all about warm autumnal colours and texture. Oak flooring and a wood burning stove are not mandatory. This green sofa from Loaf with the burnt orange cushions adds warmth to this otherwise neutral scheme and not a log basket in sight.

Pudding sofa in Willow from Loaf

Pudding sofa in Willow from Loaf, also available in burnt orange

And this isn’t a one season wonder which will need changing after you’ve taken your Christmas tree to the tip. Throw in some spring or summer blooms and you’ll see burnt orange in a whole new light, I mean how fab does it looks against dark walls……

Burnt orange sofa and walls painted in farrow and ball Railings No. 31

Burnt orange sofa against walls painted in F&B Railings No.31 Estate Emulsion

And autumn colours make great accent colours in a neutral room. I know this room looks like its just missing a halloween pumpkin but you’ve got to admit the orange and gold looks great against the cream.

Burnt orange accent colours in neutral living room

Pinterest

Laura Ashley have clearly fall-en (I had to get that in somewhere…) for the autumn look with their range of copper and green velvet cushions. I also love this burnt orange leaf motif cushion from Dunelm.

Velvet cushions from Laura Ashley. Leaf motif boudoir cushion from Dunelm

Velvet cushions from Laura Ashley and leaf boudoir cushion from Dunelm

I love a good throw and there are umpteen around at the moment in shades of burnt orange, red and green but I really like this multicoloured one from Next.

Multicoloured throw from Next

Multicoloured throw from Next

There are also plenty of autumnal accessories in the shops too, like this glassware from Next.

Vase from Next     Vase from Next     Vase from Next

Glassware from Next

So don’t feel disheartened if you don’t have an open fire and a plaid wing back chair, autumn isn’t just for country folk, anyone can get the look whatever their pad or budget.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 22.11.07

Pudding sofa in burnt orange from Loaf

Totally wired

 

I’ve found a new love that has replaced my love of willow. I’m talking baskets now. Having 4 log burners at Holly Cottage requires a lot of logs and a lot of baskets, which is where the willow obsession started. I have big willow baskets for logs, small ones for kindling, shallow ones for towels in the guest bedrooms, round ones for toilet rolls in the bathrooms, a tiny one filled with fir cones under the coffee table. It’s got a little out of hand to be honest. But there’s something about the lovely grey colour that says I might be rustic but I’m a bit cooler than wicker or rattan, I belong next to sheepskin and reindeer skins and old leather, I can sit on limestone flags or a wooden floor. I could be in a swish Swedish summerhouse or a New York loft I’m that cool. Sorry, I’m getting a little carried away. Baskets don’t talk. Classic basket case.

Anyway, my new love is wire and it’s even more versatile than willow. It’s been a bedroom storage staple for some time but it’s now out of the closest and working the room elsewhere.

It works in the bathroom

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Pinterest

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It works in the kitchen

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It works in the hall or utility room

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It works in your home office

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Birdie wall mounted desk from Loaf

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Neatfreak memo board and organiser from Loaf

Its upped its game in accessories

Juxtapose teal geometric wire bowl from House of Fraser

Juxtapose teal wire bowl from House of Fraser

Gold metal wire basket from H&M

Gold metal wire basket from H&M

It doesn’t limit itself to storage. It’s become way more visible in lighting (literally) ever since the industrial trend was born, and now It’s worked its way into the furniture market too. I think that actor chap (Michael?) on the Great Interior Design Challenge who had a wire obsession might have been the catalyst.

Black wire cage side tables from Dwell

Black wire cage side tables from Dwell

And it works in my summerhouse. I’ve started with a set of 3 wire baskets I picked up in Homesense for about £40. The big one is for throws, the middle one for magazines and the small one is perfect for fruit on the bar. (It’s important to have fruit in your cocktails – helps with the 5 a day).

Its far easier to clean than willow and you can spray paint it any colour you like – whats not to love?

Charles Eames style blue wire chair from Cult Furniture

Charles Eames style blue wire chair from Cult Furniture

I suspect the wire will slowly creep through the house until all the willow has been relegated to the interiors graveyard that is my garage. I used to take my rejects to the charity shop, auction or tip. Now they sit in the graveyard, I mean garage, waiting for a place in future projects. Who knows when I might need that extra pair of antlers I have? Or this industrial table I rescued from outside the Diesel HQ in London? (The manager even gave me the planks for the top and bottom shelf #worldsgreatestfreebie). I might need to start clearing some room for all those willow baskets though…..

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Industrial decor and a fast track ageing process

Until this week a long tee was something I wore at the beach to cover my bum. Although these days it appears to be fashionable to have a disproportionately large derriere. Perhaps I should ditch the coverups and flaunt it now curves are fashionable in the western world? But I’m wandering off topic….

One of the things I love about being a designer is the continual learning, whether it’s new techniques for creating paint finishes or working with new materials. This week my eyes have been opened to a whole new world of long tees, base flanges and elbow clamps thanks to the lovely people at Racking Man! (cue superhero music) Great name isn’t it. Conjures up images of a beefy tradesman brandishing a wrench, wearing a cape and underpants over his Apache cargo pants. If only they really looked like that, but again I’m going off topic….

So I’m working on designs for a Retail customer and I’m going for an ‘old theatre’ look, think wood floors, ladders, industrial spotlighting, slightly faded velvet curtains etc. etc. I don’t want to give away too much in case my customer is reading this. (You know who you are so stop reading now if you want any surprises when I deliver the final designs!) I’m incorporating some industrial looking shelving into the design and want to use scaffolding pipes. Hence my trip yesterday to Racking Man. I’d already spoken with the very helpful owner Patrick earlier in the week but I wanted to physically see the products to make a decision on size. Turns out its a family business and his wife Gillian (hard G) is equally helpful. As a result I now know what fittings I want and what size, and it all fits together with an allen key – simple! If you’re feeling adventurous and want to have a go at making your own furniture out of scaffolding materials their website has some very useful info to help you figure out what your need, including this handy picture of the various clamps and joints.

Scaffolding clamps taken from Racking Man website

Different scaffolding clamps and joints taken from www.rackingman.co.uk

And if you’re not feeling up to the challenge they have some great pieces on Notonthehighstreet and Etsy like these:

Wall mounted scaffolding shelving from not on the high street

Wall mounted scaffolding shelving from not on the high street

Scaffolding clothes rail from Etsy

Scaffolding clothes rail from Etsy

I’ve also been experimenting with wood finishes for this commission and for the new bar thats going in my summer house. I was thinking of using reclaimed scaffolding planks which I’ve worked with before but you spend a lot of time sanding them and cutting them to size. Its easier and not much more expensive to order pre-sanded, cut to size planks and boards from your local timber merchant, or pick up standard sizes from your local DIY store. For my experiments I bought a 5-pack of 90cm long tongue and groove from B&Q for £3.

Giving wood an aged weathered look is really simple. A few days before you plan to start get a big glass jar, half fill it with white vinegar, stuff a chunk of fine grade steel wool in it and leave it. The wool will disintegrate over time creating a homemade oxidising solution.

When you’re ready to start, lay your wood out on some newspaper and brew a hot pot of really strong black tea. The tea adds tannins to the wood which then react with your oxidising solution to created the weathered look. Some woods, like oak, already have high tannin levels and may not need the tea, or very little. But woods like pine don’t so you’ll need two or three coats. Apply with a paintbrush and leave to dry.

Next paint the oxidising solution on to the wood with a paintbrush. Immediately you will see the wood start to turn grey. The older your solution, the stronger it is, and the darker your wood will turn. So always do a test piece and water it down with water or more vinegar if you want a lighter shade. Once the wood is dry, polish with some clear wax to give a light sheen and a smooth feel.

If you want to go a step further and give your wood a beachy tone you can add liming wax which will fill the cracks in the grain and leave a bluey-white sheen on top of the grey. You can buy liming wax online. I’m currently using one made by Liberon. To create the effect rub a little of the wax onto your wood using fine steel wool, leave it to try for 2-3 minutes and then wipe of the excess and buff. If the colour is too blue/white then use a damp cloth to wipe off more of the wax, if you like it light then add more wax.

Finished results: from left, plain tongue and groove, weathered look, beachy look.

Giving new wood a weathered or beachy look

 

Here’s a couple of examples of finished products.

Old oak whisky barrel, already weathered

Old oak whisky barrel, already weathered

Oak whisky barrel bar table

New bar table complete with table top salvaged from my local tip

Coffee table made from reclaimed scaffolding planks, aged and treated with liming wax

Coffee table made from reclaimed scaffolding planks, aged and treated with liming wax

Does seem a little ironic, we spend a fortune on products to slow down the personal ageing process, but our love for old and used goods has led us to develop creative ways to speed it up elsewhere. Anyway, better get back to work, I’m experimenting with paint finishes now…

Is yellow the new mustard?

I’ve been a mustard fan for some time now. Not the English or whole grain varieties, but the kind that has been creeping into interiors for the past year or so. It was inevitable really what with all the beautiful grey paints and soft furnishings available, it’s a natural pairing. Like the grey it’s sophisticated and elegant, but it brightens up a scheme without being gaudy. However, it might be the sunshine going to my head but I’m beginning to think we can go a bit brighter……

It started when my friend Annie arrived yesterday for a short break. Annie is a bold decorator who loves a bit of glitz and glamour. Her master bathroom features a black bath with a sparkly floor and a glittery disco ball, her favourite colour is red, and she’s not shy when it comes to animal prints, in her wardrobe or home. So I wasn’t at all surprised when she told me she was on the look out for and struggling to find a canary yellow metal garden table to go with the red metal chairs she’d recently acquired. I love an interiors challenge, so while she flicked through a stack of my house porn I started surfing, and the more yellow I saw the more I liked it. By the time dinner was ready I’d already decided the replacement covers for the sofa in my summer house were going to be yellow. Here are just a few reasons why I think yellow might just be the new mustard.

Yellow chest of drawers in vintage bedroom

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It’s a good warm, sunny colour for a young girls bedroom, but not as a wall colour, just a piece of furniture with hints in the soft furnishings like here.

Yellow fireplace in a grey living room

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I can honestly say I would never have thought of painting a fireplace yellow but look how well this works against the pale grey walls.

Yellow sofa in living room

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I’m even considering it for the sofa in my summer house after seeing this but I think it needs to be surrounded by bold prints as shown in this room to avoid looking too twee.

Yellow four poster bed frame

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I recently used mustard as an accent colour in a pale green room with botanical elements, but a brighter yellow would have worked just as well and I love this four poster bed frame.

Yellow kitchen units in grey kitchen

 

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I’m still not sure about yellow kitchen units though……it does remind me of the toy kitchens made for little girls.

Yellow front door

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But I do love it as a front door colour, very cheery and welcoming. This one looks great with the white walls and rosy pink rugs.

So are you sold or do you think it will be a summer fad replaced by mustard again in October? I’ll leave you to ponder while I go and hunt for yellow fabric for my sofa….but before I go, great news Agata has returned! AWOL for 36hrs then strolls nonchalantly up the drive as if she’s never been away. Where she was is a mystery but she still has that jaunty look about her which suggests she was having fun…..the dirty stop out.

 

Perspective is everything

6 weeks in and I’m starting to see the positive impact Cumbrian life is having on me. When I lived in London I had an unhealthy relationship with food and obsessed about my weight and body shape. When you’re in meetings and presenting at conferences you’re constantly being scrutinised by other women, and I’m not criticising as I’ve caught myself doing it, but its not surprising you spend a lot of time judging yourself in the mirror. I was also unfulfilled at work so sought comfort in food and would be planning what I was going to eat hours (and sometimes days if I had dinner plans) ahead of schedule. I was never satisfied with what was in my fridge, which resulted in multiple supermarket trips, takeaways or eating out which meant more drinking…it was exhausting. Now subconsciously I have stopped thinking about food so much. I eat what’s available in the fridge and only visit the supermarket weekly when I pick Mr W up from the station. I don’t own a pair or scales or a full length mirror. Its totally liberating. Don’t get me wrong I still love food and a loving having the time to cook again, its just not such a dominant feature in my life. I think I am a little thinner as my clothes are looser in places, but I just see that as a positive side effect, I am not going to diet. If I want butter I’m having butter!

I also have a reputation for being highly competitive, and I used to put a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself to be the best at everything and to complete everything in record time. I’ve not lost these traits post move, but they’re less obvious. My neighbour Sharon would probably disagree as she thinks I’m keeping myself far too busy and trying to do to much too soon, but I know what I was like so I know this is a healthy work ethic and not as a result of pressure. Take my new career as an interior designer. It was always the plan to set this up next year when I’ve completed the house renovations and my studies and that’s still the plan even though people regularly ask me how the new business is coming along. Old me would have felt pressured to start sooner to avoid being seen as a failure. New me is just enjoying herself. I’m even happy in the slow lane at the swimming pool where I’ve started swimming lengths – this would never have been me in London, I’d have pulled muscles in the fast lane to try and keep up with the crawlers (I can only do breast stroke….) rather than admit I’m no Rebecca Addlington.

This week has been the usual scrum of contractors in the house as the joiners and electricians teamed up to board out the ceilings downstairs and install new lighting. To remain close enough to supervise without being under their feet I took advantage of the sunshine and did a little furniture restoration in the garden. Our dining room is tiny and oddly shaped which requires non-standard furniture if you want to seat more than 4. I bought a dining table on eBay 4 years ago which was narrower than a standard table which I stripped and stained, and since then I’ve been looking for the right seating solution. In Lille I found one half of this when I spotted a lovely narrow church pew. I then picked up 4 matching church chairs in an antiques mill in Manchester. For some reason church furniture is much narrower than standard furniture these days – must have been to make room for those massive altars and organs! The pew and the chairs were in pretty good nick but required a light sand to remove stains, paint chips and chewing gum….ugh. I then re-stained the pew seat and oiled everything with my trusty osmo oil. The result is stunning as the chairs are maple and the bench is oak and pine and the oil has brought out the grain and given them a lovely warm glow.

They are now installed in my dining room which is not yet ready (radiator, plastering, painting and window dressing still to be done) but already the room has been transformed just with the restored beams, new ceiling boards and lights and now the new furniture. The pendant lights are from Fritz & Fryer who I recently discovered online. I suspect I will be making a few more purchases from them.

Below is an old photo of the room which I took when I viewed the house so you can see how cluttered it was. The previous owner used it as his office, in fact it was called the Station Masters Office as he kept his train set in another room (FYI he was 65 not 12).

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Before I leave you a quick chuck update. Phyllis is not sick she is ‘clocking’ as they call it in Cumbria. The silly bird is broody and trying too hatch her unfertilised eggs. I think I need to send Harold in to teach her the facts of life. No cockerel, no chicks, chuck.