Three Christmas Looks

I have enough Christmas decorations to start may own shop, and I add to my collection every year despite Mr W’s protestations. Most of the house gets a little Christmas hit but the main action is in our living room, bedroom and summer house. This year I’m sticking with the same styles and colour schemes as last year but with a few new additions I’ve picked up when I’ve been out and about. Christmas decorating starts at the end of this month but I thought I’d share some of my plans and ideas on how you could achieve similar looks.

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Sitting up or lying down?

Traditionally the Scandinavians and Japanese like to do it sat up. Europeans typically like to do it lying down. For me it depends on the location, and the view. I’m talking about bathing of course. What did you think I meant?

The reason I’m talking about this at all is because I recently stumbled across the most beautiful bathroom furniture. And not bathroom furniture in the traditional sense, i.e. vanity units etc. but baths and basins made from wood that are so beautiful they are like pieces of furniture. Continue reading “Sitting up or lying down?”

The Open Plan Kitchen Dining Space

Interior designers rarely get free rein on a project (or an unlimited budget). Or maybe they do in London, but not in Cumbria. If we did I’d have a lot more competition that’s for sure.

Most of my clients fall into 1 of 3 camps. I’ve worked with some that don’t know what they want only what they don’t want. At the opposite end of the scale I’ve worked with clients that know exactly what they want but value a second opinion or a fresh pair of eyes. And with some clients it has been a very collaborative process. Typically these clients have an interest in interior design, and want to get into the details of how things would look or work. As I’m an annoying extrovert that gets their energy from interacting with other people I love working with clients like this because they want to bounce around ideas and look at options together. Not everyone wants to talk about skirting board profiles and tile laying patterns apparently…. Continue reading “The Open Plan Kitchen Dining Space”

Future Proofing in Interior Design – Part III

Interior design is not the cushion scattering, accessorising, walk around IKEA I’m sure some people think it is. There are definite highs and lows. Lows being the early Monday morning site visits, dealing with difficult suppliers when you need to return faulty goods, and tracking down trades that have gone AWOL. Seriously sometimes I feel like the worlds biggest nag when I have to ask for the millionth time that week, “When will you be there? And what time roughly?” But the highs definitely make up for it, and my favourite high has to be when I get to show people before and afters of my projects. So are you ready for part III of this Victorian terrace renovation project? Continue reading “Future Proofing in Interior Design – Part III”

Future Proofing In Interior Design – Part II

Are you ready for some more before and afters? Part I of this house tour was all about the kitchen transformation, (if you missed it you can catch up here). Next up is the bathroom, and like the kitchen some of what we did was future proofing, i.e. getting it ‘old age ready’. But some of it was just about introducing the practical stuff old bathrooms never have, like decent lighting, storage, etc.

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Future Proofing In Interior Design – Part I

People often ask me what happens when I have to decorate a house in a style I don’t like, and how do I manage not to force my own style on people. The simple answer to both is that I actually enjoy working with different styles. And although I sometimes need to include things in my designs that I perhaps wouldn’t put in my own home, I’ve never designed something I didn’t like. Continue reading “Future Proofing In Interior Design – Part I”

How to design a beautiful AND functional bathroom

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the bathroom lately, and I can’t blame my old lady bladder. I’ve got four new bathrooms in progress, have just started designing another, and I’ve got four more in the pipeline. That’s a lotta loo’s. And they all have one thing in common. Size. Or should I say lack of it. Continue reading “How to design a beautiful AND functional bathroom”

Show Home Number Two – Final Reveal

I can’t decide what’s better as an interior designer being given the blank canvas of a show home or new build, or transforming something that has become tired and dated. I suppose if I enjoy them both it doesn’t really matter. Similarly, I’ve loved the freedom I’ve been given to design this latest show home, (the brief was literally here’s the budget, make it look good, quickly). But then you can’t beat the feeling you get when you show a client your designs for their home and they love them, because you’ve managed to capture everything they told you they liked, plus a bunch of things they would never have thought of but love as well.  I guess I’m just saying my job rocks.

Continue reading “Show Home Number Two – Final Reveal”

How much does it cost to do up a house?

Before I became an interior designer I would dread the inevitable ‘so what do you do for a living’ question when I met new people. My actual job title made no sense to anybody outside my organisation (or most of my colleagues for that matter), and ‘work for an insurance company’ just sounds soooo dull. And if the person asking did look interested it was only because they were about to bore me senseless with the scintillating story of their last insurance claim, or ask me how they could get cheaper car insurance. Don’t care, don’t know, being my responses to both if I’d had too many sav blancs. When I became an interior designer I thought, at last a sexy job title I can be proud of! But this has now created a new problem. Being put on the spot.

Amelia Wilson Interior Designer Cumbria
Picture from my recent feature in Cumbria Life explaining my move from Insurance to Interior Design

Interior Designer FAQ’s

There are 2 questions I get asked all the time. The first is “What colour should I paint my living room?” (It isn’t always a living room it can be any room in the house). People ask me this question without providing any other background information, such as room size, what the light is like, what colours they prefer or what furniture they have. And they look at me expectantly like I should have the answer. I’m an interior designer not a psychic mindreading magician.

Interior designer Cumbria Amelia Wilson moodpboard
Moodboard for the red dining room project, it took me to mediate between the homeowners to agree on the colour of this room. Before and afters still to come.

The second FAQ is “I want to do up my house how much will it cost me?” My quick answer to this has become, “How much do you want to spend?” But I thought I would share my approach to the long answer with you as it’s actually a really good question.

What’s my budget?

Most of the people I work with really have no idea how much it’s going to cost them, and it’s not just the first time buyers. I met a lovely couple last week, and one of them was a minister. They had spent most of their lives living in church houses so they had never had to replace a kitchen or bathroom or do any major renovations so had come to me for guidance. Not spiritual obviously.

Whether I am doing a single room or a whole house the first thing I do with most new customers is estimate the cost of the project so that we can agree a budget. To do this I need the answers to three questions, which also shape the overall brief:

1. What work is needed?

This isn’t just how many rooms they have, and whether it includes a kitchen or bathroom, but also the state of things like the windows and doors and the plumbing and electrics, i.e. the things that can really eat into your budget.

2. What is the desired look?

This covers both style and level of quality. Are we talking top of the range German kitchen and solid wood flooring, or secondhand furniture and ready-made curtains, or a mixture of both?

3. What are the priorities?

What do we spend money on and where do we compromise in order to keep within budget?

I then give the customer a spreadsheet like this for every room so we can look at the figures together and agree a budget.Interior Designer Cumbria Amelia Wilson

If we’re doing the whole house there will also be a summary that looks something like this:

Interior Designer Cumbria Amelia Wilson

The true cost of home improvements

I’ve found that when I work on whole houses we typically spend half the budget on labour, unless the customers can carry out work themselves. But I still do all of this early estimating before I bring any trades in to quote. There are a couple of reasons for this.

Firstly, I’ve been doing this long enough now to know roughly what things cost. Obviously there are things I can’t estimate, especially when you get into bespoke joinery and mysterious damp problems (for that I really need Damp Gary), but my estimates for most things are usually pretty accurate.

But more importantly I don’t like to waste peoples’ time. If we need to make compromises, and this means customers doing their own decorating, then I’d rather establish this before I bring a decorator in to price the job.

But the main reason for this early estimating is that in order to get an accurate overall cost for a room you need to have designed it. But you don’t want to design a room and go to the trouble of getting quotes from trades for a look that the customer will love but can’t afford. You need to manage your customers expectations and to do this you need to know what your budget is.

So what does it cost to do up a house?

So as you can see there isn’t a simple answer. But I will go out on a limb and say that if you have a two or three bedroom house which you want to completely redecorate and furnish, with a medium sized kitchen, an average sized bathroom, and one ensuite, then the figures in my examples above are pretty realistic for midrange in terms of quality. Obviously you can always spend more or less but I wanted to leave you with something to ponder now the Christmas decorations have come down leaving your rooms looking tired and bare.

And if you think you might want my help get in touch quickly as enquiries have been rolling in since I became a local media sensation…. (a customers words not mine after seeing my features in Cumbria Life and The Whitehaven News!)

Amelia Wilson Interior Designer Cumbria
Picture from my recent Cumbria Life feature

Christmas is coming early…..

Although I absolutely love Christmas, and literally smother my house in Christmas decorations every year, preparations do not start until at least 1st of December. Anybody wanting to get into the Christmas spirit earlier than this is quite welcome to but do not be playing Mariah Carey within my earshot, or asking me to pick off a Christmas menu. And no I haven’t started my bloody Christmas shopping yet, it’s October! So you can imagine how torn I was when a magazine asked me if they can photograph my house all decorated for Christmas…..next week. Yes Ilona Hadfield I can hear you laughing from here.

So this year Christmas is coming early to Holly Cottage as I haven’t got the energy to decorate, undecorate and then decorate again. And I’m kicking off with my first Christmas present. I have teemed up with the lovely people at Blinds2Go to offer one of you lucky people the chance to win a window blind of your choice worth up to £150.

Linen roman blind from Blinds2Go in summer house designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd
Linen roman blind from Blinds2Go in my own summer house

I’ve been working with Blinds2Go ever since I started Amelia Wilson Interiors as they offer a very affordable made to measure service where you can choose from a large range of fabrics.

DuJour velvet blush roman blind from Blinds2Go for show home designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd
DuJour velvet blush roman blind from Blinds2Go for my recent show home project

Their range includes lots of different colours with both plain and patterned designs.

Bottle green cotton roman blind from Blinds2Go in bathroom designed By Amelia Wilson Interiors featured in RealHomes magazine
Bottle green cotton roman blind from Blinds2Go in a bathroom project featured in RealHomes magazine

And the quality and service is also very good, with most blinds being made and delivered within 2 weeks.

Navy tartan wool roman blind from Blinds2Go in a holiday let designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd
Navy tartan wool roman blind from Blinds2Go in a recent holiday let project

Competition Rules

So to be in with a chance to win all you need to do is head over to Instagram and follow these simple rules (I know not everyone uses Instagram but it would be worth downloading the app just for this):

  1. Follow me @mrswpics and @blinds2go
  2. Post a picture of the window you would like a new blind for
  3. Include the hashtag #blinds2gomakeover in your post and tag at least two friends
  4. You can post as many pics as you like but you must tag new friends each time

The competition will run until 21st November when a winner will be selected at random. The winner will then be contacted and asked to choose their new blind from the Blinds2Go website and provide the necessary dimensions etc. so that their blind can be made and delivered in time for Christmas.

It’s as simple as that so get snapping and posting those window pics and in the meantime I’ll start putting up my Christmas decorations… Ho Ho Ho!