Category Archives: Interior Design

Eleven Beautiful Kitchens – Part III

Ready for the final instalment of Eleven Beautiful Kitchens? Well I say final, as soon as we’ve fitted the things that didn’t arrive on time I’ll be getting the professional photographer in and you won’t be able to stop me showing you a bunch more pics – sorry.

If you missed parts one and two you can catch up here  and here.  So, three to go and I’ve saved the stunner until last. No, don’t scroll down to the bottom, be polite and at least skim through the others.

Eleven Beautiful Kitchens – The Final Instalment

9. The Budget But Beautiful Kitchen

Not everyone has a big budget for a new kitchen so we have both affordable and high end kitchens in the showroom. But a low budget doesn’t mean poor quality or plain which is demonstrated in this kitchen which has simple Bardolino grey oak floor cupboards and worktop, which gives a seamless finish, with white oak effect wall cupboards. I forgot to take a pic but the lower cupboard carcasses are also Bardolino grey oak which looks really neat. The sink and all the appliances are white, including the hood which will be changed next week when the traditional style chimney extractor which was supposed to be there arrives  *frowns and takes a deep breath*. The walls are tiled with simple white metro tiles but with black grout to give it a contemporary look. The drawer handles, cupboard knobs and the tap are chrome and white ceramic. The overall look being a modern take on a traditional kitchen.

The Matfen kitchen in Bardolino Grey Oak and White Oak by Browns

The Matfen kitchen in Bardolino Grey Oak and White Oak by Browns

The traditional style white chimney hood by Hotpoint which was supposed to be fitted

The traditional style white chimney hood by Hotpoint which was supposed to be fitted

 

The black grout between the white metro tiles gives it a cool contemporary look

The black grout between the white metro tiles gives it a cool contemporary look

Next alphabet coffee mugs

Yes I did clear Next out of their ‘C’ and ‘K’ mugs

10. The Marilyn Monroe Kitchen

I’ve named this kitchen after the late screen goddess because like Marilyn it’s bold with great curves, and it’s real name is Milton which isn’t half as sexy. This is actually the same colour as my own kitchen at home and we included these colours in the showroom because its so striking and it’s been in a magazine you know *smiles and nods proudly*. The doors have been colour matched to Farrow & Ball Rectory Red and Clunch and look great with the black granite worktop between. The granite has a matt dimpled finish which I prefer to the polished sparkly granites you usually see in kitchens. Ever since we fitted this kitchen people have been doing a double take when they walk past the showroom and coming back for a proper look. We included this door style so that we could show off the great curved doors, and I picked the Moroccan style tiles to mirror those curves. There are supposed to be open oak shelves above the sink and more of those lovely tiles but we just ran out of time….

Milton shaker style kitchen by PWS in Rectory Red and Clunch with curved doors, black granite worktop and Moroccan style tiling

Milton shaker style kitchen by PWS colour matched to F&B Rectory Red and Clunch, with curved doors, black granite worktop and Moroccan style tiling

Curved doors enhance the flow of the kitchen units

Curved doors enhance the flow of the kitchen units

Moroccan style Quintessential cream tiles from Topps with pale grey grout and black Moak granite from the new Sensa range by Cosentino

Moroccan style Quintessential cream tiles from Topps with pale grey grout and black Moak granite from the new Sensa range by Cosentino

Check back in a few weeks to see the open oak shelves we're adding to this wall once its tiled

Check back in a few weeks to see the open oak shelves we’re adding to this wall once its tiled

11. The BEAUTIFUL Kitchen

OK, so this is the kitchen that got the most votes at the weekend and I won’t lie it’s not cheap. If you’ve a reasonable sized kitchen expect to pay £20-25k for one of these, but it would last you a lifetime and give all your friends serious kitchen envy. It’s from the 1909 range by PWS and it is gorgeous. When I originally planned this kitchen it was going to be charcoal and light grey, but then I visited the PWS showroom in Durham and fell in love with Moleskin which is the colour on the floor cupboards and island – if you can’t see the colour in the pics imagine a really good malbec. It makes the veining in the marble effect silestone look purple too which was a pleasant surprise. This kitchen is packed with features; a huge larder with pull out storage, a curved apron front Belfast sink, a mantelpiece with built in cupboards, bookcases flanking the island, champagne and herb troughs in the island and a cloakroom feature. I was concerned that it might look a little stark with the light grey wall cupboards, white wall tiles and marbled worktop so I had the area around the stainless steel range tiled with black batik tiles from Topps which really stand out and look fabulous when you look between the two enormous pendant lights. There were supposed to be three pendants but one arrived broken, and on reflection I actually prefer it with two now. So take a look…..

In-frame slab kitchen from the 1909 range by PWS in Moleskin and Partridge Grey, with Snowy Ibiza marble effect silestone worktops

In-frame slab kitchen from the 1909 range by PWS in Moleskin and Partridge Grey, with Snowy Ibiza marble effect silestone worktops

Black Batik tiles from Topps around the stainless steel Professional Deluxe Rangemaster

Black Batik tiles from Topps around the stainless steel Professional Deluxe Ringmaster – integrated extractor still to be added….

Bookcases and champagne and herb troughs in the island

Bookcases and champagne and herb troughs in the island

Cloakroom feature with more subliminal message for CKC customers

Cloakroom feature with more subliminal message for CKC customers

Pull out storage in the larder unit, which will be backlit

Pull out storage in the larder unit, which will be backlit

Solid brass trowel handles in a satin nickel finish

Solid brass trowel handles in a satin nickel finish

So that’s all eleven beautiful kitchens. We also built two sales areas and a new reception area, but I’ll show you those when I have the pro’s pics.

This has been my biggest commercial project and I have thoroughly enjoyed it from start to (almost) finish. There have been times when I’ve wanted to kill someone. Others have also come close to killing me with my ‘diva designer demands’. My reaction to the wrong white hood in the budget kitchen not being my finest moment….But the comments from the owners, the suppliers, the team I’ve been working with and the customers has been worth it. Here are a few of my favourites:

It doesn’t feel like a kitchen showroom, it feels like a home”

“I wasn’t planning to change my kitchen for a while yet but your showroom has inspired me to start the process now and I’d like your help”

I was going to buy a new car in 2017 but after seeing your showroom I’ve decided to buy a new kitchen instead”

Now how’s that for positive feedback. Keep checking back for pics of the things that didn’t make the grand re-opening….and if you’ve got a mo let me know which was your favourite.

Eleven Beautiful Kitchens – Part II

Ready for some more beautiful kitchens? If you missed yesterday, just pop back here to catch up and then come join us. In the meantime I’m going to apologise again for some of the pics, I’m an interior designer not a professional photographer. The pro will do it justice in a couple of weeks but I just couldn’t wait to show you these beautiful kitchens.

Eleven Beautiful Kitchens – Part II

5. The Man Kitchen

I named this one on Sunday after yet another fella in the showroom homed in and said it was the one for them because it was ‘manly’. There were female fans too but it was definitely a fave among the fellas, and not just because of the colour scheme, they also liked the pull out larders and the tambour unit with black glass door. If you’re not familiar with a tambour unit it’s basically a cupboard with internal plug sockets and a glass shutter door for people who don’t like having their kettle and toaster on display – apparently big with the fellas. Anyway my intent with the design was to show customers that you can have a natural wood kitchen without it looking old fashioned. The solid wood handleless doors look great against the black laminate worktop and wall panels. Even the sink is black. I particularly like how the grooves used to open the doors are lined to match the worktop.

I also wanted to show how you can lower the breakfast bar to dining chair level which makes it better for small children or vertically challenged people like me who don’t like to have their legs swinging. The Germans love to integrate everything and this kitchen has a very handy rail system below the wall cupboards with a range of fittings available including a knife block, utensil rack and shelves for storage pots or herbs.

The overall look feels a bit Japanese to me hence the faux bonsai trees. We also got a few enquiries about the shelf lights, which were a Homesense find so I’ll need to source something similar that we can offer customers. There should have been a square black ceiling mounted extractor but this was another late delivery….

Schuller Bari kitchen with solid wood doors and black laminate worktops and wall panels

Schuller natural wood and lava black kitchen

Pull out larder storage in kitchen design

Lots of storage in the pull out larders

Wall mounted rail system in Schuller kitchen

Rail system below the wall cupboards – shown here are the knife block and herb pots, both still to be filled (I ran out of time…)

Cinema lightbox in kitchen design

The utensil rack on the rail system, and a little subliminal messaging for Cockermouth Kitchen Co (I do love a light box)

6. The Corpse Green Kitchen

The colour of this kitchen is actually Copse Green but one of the fitters kept calling it Corpse Green, which might be accurate but doesn’t really sell it. When I was doing research for the showroom displays I came across a picture of a dark green kitchen on Houzz with a white worktop and black accessories which looked fab, and there’s nowt wrong with a little plagiarism in the pursuit of beautiful kitchens is there. This has some great pull out storage in the larder and in the corner unit. If you’re wondering why there is a pendant light hanging over dead space at the end of the counter check back in a couple of weeks and I’ll show you the raised breakfast bar that didn’t make it on time *scowls*, and the white glass splashback, also on its way…..

Mornington shaker style kitchen in Copse Green by PWS with white Maple Blanco silestone worktop

Mornington shaker style kitchen in Copse Green by PWS with white Maple Blanco silestone worktop

Mornington shaker style kitchen by PWS in Copse Green

Discreet telescopic extractor, chrome and black leather handles and some more subliminal messaging for Cockermouth Kitchen Co customers

7. The Modern Cumbrian Kitchen

Steve is the CKC tiler and the split face tiles on this kitchen nearly ended our friendship. They aren’t practical in a kitchen, particularly not as a splashback, they’re not easy to fit and they’re not cheap. But god don’t they look lovely? This kitchen design is all about lines. The straight lines in the run of cupboards with high gloss handleless doors and the long in-line hob, the sharp lines of the wide rectangular extractor, and the horizontal lines in the impractical but beautiful split face tiles. The in-line hob is basically 4 cooking zones in a straight line. If you fit it at the back of your counter instead of centrally it gives you extra prep area in front of your hob and also means you don’t have pan handles hanging over your counter – a rather nice safety feature.

Cumbria is a very rural county with a lot of period properties and homeowners here often feel they need to have a traditional kitchen. So I also wanted to show that you can combine an uber modern glossy kitchen with more traditional elements like natural stone or stone effect features, in this case the wall tiles and the slate effect silestone worktop.

Remo high gloss white handleless kitchen by PWS with slate effect worktop and split face slate tiles.

Remo high gloss white handleless kitchen by PWS with Marengo Suede slate effect silestone worktop and split face slate tiles.

Gas lift stools I actually like with curved smoked grey acrylic seats

Gas lift stools I actually like with curved smoked grey acrylic seats

Neff in-line hob and matching chimney hood

Neff in-line hob and matching chimney hood

Beautiful kitchens like this don't need much dressing, just a few high gloss and slate accessories

Beautiful kitchens like this don’t need much dressing, just a few high gloss and slate accessories

8. The Loft Apartment Kitchen

Now this is my favourite kitchen. I love rooms which feature raw materials in their decor, particularly loft or warehouse apartments with exposed brickwork, wood floors and steel girders. So in this kitchen I included wood, brick, metal and leather and it was hugely popular at the weekend because despite the steel features it looks so warm and inviting. People kept asking me if the walls were clad in actual bricks because the tiles which are from Topps look so realistic. The leather door handles were a little like marmite – you either loved them or hated them, but the point was to show people something they might not have seen before. Personally I love them, but then I also love marmite. We also wanted to show people that if you have a narrow galley kitchen you don’t need to have full depth floor cupboards on both sides, you can use wall cupboards on the floor one one side so that you can have storage and floor space.

Gainsborough shaker style kitchen in Portobello Stone by PWS

Gainsborough shaker style kitchen in Portobello Stone by PWS

Apron front stainless steel belfast sink with stainless steel rise and fall pendant light. The wall colour is Mince Tarts by Valspar

Apron front stainless steel belfast sink with stainless steel rise and fall pendant light. The wall colour is Mince Tarts by Valspar

Angled black glass extractor and black and stainless steel appliances

Angled black glass extractor and black and stainless steel appliances

Integrated microwave in the narrow side of the galley kitchen, lit from below by spots in the plinth

Integrated microwave in the narrow side of the galley kitchen, lit from below by spots in the plinth

Tan leather strap handles - I think they'll look better with age, but not everyones cup of tea

Tan leather strap handles – I think they’ll look better with age, but not everyones cup of tea

So what do you think of these? Found a favourite yet? Three more to come and I’ve saved the best one until last…..

Eleven Beautiful Kitchens – Part I

If you’re not already sat down then I suggest you take a seat PDQ because I’m about to show you some seriously beautiful kitchens. It’s been nine months since Cockermouth Kitchen Co was flooded (for the second time sadly…) but their new showroom is finally open and I couldn’t be prouder of what the team has achieved. As the designer I’ve been visualising this for months but it has still exceeded my expectations, and the owners. It flows, there’s space, light, colour, detail and personal touches…..but enough gushing, lets show you lovely people some beautiful kitchens, not all at once mind, it’s way too much to take in at one sitting.

Eleven Beautiful Kitchens – Part I

1. The Great British Kitchen

This kitchen was actually made in Germany by Schuller but the red, white and blue feels very patriotic hence the name. We had chefs cooking in here over the weekend as part of the Taste Cumbria food festival in Cockermouth and as the display is in the window it was all a bit Saturday Kitchen. It has a high gloss handleless design with a single run of dark blue cabinets behind a huge white island. Most of the appliances are wall mounted so they are easily accessed and cleaned and the ovens have slide and hide doors which I love.  We did order a white ceramic hob for the island but we needed to fit a temporary black 13 amp one for the weekend cooking demo’s… *tuts like a diva*. The worktop is white silestone and includes a moulded silestone sink and a very fancy (i.e. expensive) white mixer tap with pull aerator and light which changes colour depending on the temperature of the water. Completely frivolous but very cool. Although I love the contrast between the indigo blue and white I thought the red accents would perk it up a bit. Please try and ignore the fact that our neighbours across the street are having a sale. At least their sign matches…

High gloss handleless Next 125 kitchen by Schuller in Indigo Blue and White. One of eleven beautiful kitchens designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd for Cockermouth Kitchen Co

High gloss handleless Next 125 kitchen by Schuller in Indigo Blue and White

KWC Eve tap in glacier white

KWC Eve tap in glacier white – RRP £899 (gulp)

Not lots of pics I’m afraid as its really really hard to photograph such a glossy kitchen, so you’ll need to wait till the pro does his magic next month.

2. The Retro Kitchen

The owners were really not happy very sceptical when I told them I was putting a brown and yellow kitchen in their new showroom. To be honest this colour combo usually reminds me of the nylon and knitwear outfits me and my poor sister used to wear in the 70’s so I surprised myself with this design. This is also a Schuller kitchen and the two things I wanted to show in this display were the slab door with unusual moulded edges and the integrated door handles. I picked a brown worktop and sink to match the doors to keep the look simple – there’s enough going on with those yellow doors right? The worktop has a matt marbled finish and is from the Dekton silestone range by Cosentino, and the Cristadur top mounted sink is by Schock. I think its the Ochre Catania tiles from Topps that really finish it off though, oh and my faux lemons of course. Please ignore the chimney extractor, this was a last minute addition when we realised the proper one hadn’t been ordered….

One of eleven beautiful kitchens designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd for Cockermouth Kitchen Co

Schuller kitchen with dark wood effect and yellow slab doors

CDA glass shelf extractor

The CDA glass shelf extractor that should be in the display….

Catania Ochre wall tiles from Topps tiles

Catania Ochre wall tiles from Topps tiles

Matching accessories including a bronze plug socket

Its all in the detail – matching accessories including a bronze plug socket

3. The Shaker Meets Industrial Kitchen

This is the third out of five Schuller kitchens we are displaying and I wanted to show that shaker style doesn’t have to mean traditional so I added a polished steel effect silestone worktop, industrial tiling, reclaimed wood lights and vintage swivel stools. I love the huge wrap around breakfast bar and round cupboard at the end. It also features my two favourite appliances, a dual temperature wine fridge for lovers of red and white wine (is there anyone that doesn’t love both?), and a 90cm wide two drawer fridge which I have at home. I can’t show you a pic of the fridge in action as it didn’t arrive on time so the doors are just hiding a hole right now…

Schuller Casa shaker style kitchen in blue-grey with polished steel effect silestone worktop, and industrial and vintage tiling and accessories

Schuller Casa shaker style kitchen in blue-grey

Polished steel effect silestone worktop

Polished steel effect silestone worktop

A mixture of vintage and industrial tiles, lighting, seating and accessories

A mixture of vintage and industrial tiles, lighting, seating and accessories

4. The Late Bloomer Kitchen

I call it this because nobody in the team was loving this plain mid-grey slab door kitchen when it got fitted. And they didn’t love the polished copper handles when they arrived, “cheap looking” being the phrase most used (how very dare they). But when we fitted those handles they started to take notice. Then we added the polished copper tap, geometric tiles and copper accessories and bam! suddenly they got it. This is now a kitchen with impact. It also has a sleek Corian worktop with moulded Corian sink which is rather lovely.

The Nova kitchen by Schuller in grey with dove grey Corian worktop and polished copper accessories

The Nova kitchen by Schuller in grey

Polished copper kitchen cupboard and drawer handles

The controversial polished copper handles

Dove grey Corian worktop with Designer White moulded sink and Avia polished copper tap

Dove grey Corian worktop with Designer White moulded sink and Avia polished copper tap

Polished copper plug socket

Its all in the details – copper accessories and polished copper plug socket

Polished copper kitchen utensils and a polished copper plug socket

That utensil pot is actually a toilet brush holder – if you don’t tell I won’t….

So that’s all you’re getting for now, more to follow this week. I’d love to know if you have a favourite so far?

Come collaborate with me

Some might think its easy being an interior designer. I mean it’s just picking paint and furniture isn’t it? (Raises left eyebrow sarcastically). But I would challenge anyone who thinks it’s easy to design a room for someone they just met and get it right first time.

People rarely know exactly what they want. If they did they wouldn’t need an interior designer. And don’t be thinking their homes provide all the answers. Yes there are clues, but most peoples homes include (a) things they like, (b), things they once liked but don’t any more, (c) things they bought on a temporary basis and never replaced (I suspect this accounts for a large chunk of IKEA sales…), and (d) things they never liked but were either gifts, inherited or came with their partner when they moved in….You all know the conversation, “no no, I want you to feel like this is your home, so of course you can bring your (insert offending item)”. Be grateful if it’s only a novelty phone, and no I’m not telling you what Mr W has inflicted on me over the years.

Novelty Homer Simpson telephone

Novelty Homer Simpson telephone

So a big part of being an interior designer is figuring out what a customer will like and I’m proud to say that so far I have a 100% success rate. But as the title of this blog suggests, I do my homework. After I’ve snooped around their home looking for clues (with their permission of course), I interrogate them ask a whole bunch of questions. Depending on the customer I sometimes use images to draw out what they like, and encourage all my customers to send me pics of anything that catches their eye.

Houzz has a fabulous Ideabook tool which facilitates this process. I recently collaborated with one customer using this tool. Between us we uploaded 20+ images. She added things she liked and I added a range of rooms and colour schemes to test what she’d told me she liked and didn’t like.

Monochrome Scandi style bedroom in Ideabook on Houzz

This image helped me rule out purely monochrome schemes as the customers husband said this room was too grey

We don’t realise how much info we take in when we look at a picture, which we subconsciously judge, categorise and file for potentially future use. When you get someone to really look and pick out what they like or don’t like it and then summarise the findings for them it can often surprise them.

Blue and grey Scandi style living room added to an Ideabook in Houzz

A room my customer liked after telling me she didn’t like blue unless it was her jeans.

I use this tool for elements within a design too. I have one customer who has a split level bungalow and we want to replace the staircases. I know I know, you’re now thinking ‘bungalows don’t have stairs’. Well they do if they’re built on a hillside. The bungalow is all single-storey but you have to climb a few stairs to pass between some of the rooms. I used an ideabook to show the customer images of different contemporary staircases so we could agree on the design.

Lighting on staircase in Ideabook on Houzz

I used this image to show the customer how we could light up their new staircases

Many of my customers have no idea how much it might cost to update their home. When this is the case I help them by putting together an estimate based on what they want to do and the look they are aiming for. We then use this to establish a budget, which I make sure we stick to. This is why I’ll never be the next Kevin McCLoud or George Clarke – who wants to watch a homeowner achieve their budget, or heaven forbid underspend…..

I usually come up with a plan for a new customer quite quickly and will often run this by them to check I’m on the right track, and maybe show them the colour palette I’m thinking of using. If I get a positive response then I’ll start working on the designs.

Colour palette for Scandi style new build project

The colour palette I agreed with my customer for her Scandi inspired new build after collaborating on an Ideabook

Depending on the size or scope of the project it can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks to pull it all together. When I’m doing full houses I like to start with one or two rooms so the customer can get comfortable with my work. I find that gaining their trust early on speeds up the whole process – no need to keep checking back.

By the time I’ve finished designing a room I’ll have a presentation for the customer which includes a mood board, floor plan, samples of any flooring, fabric etc. and a list of everything to go in the room, where it’s from and how much it will all cost.

Mood board by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd for a kitchen project

Mood board for a recent kitchen project

And then the real work starts.

I book all the tradespeople, order everything we need and then watch it all like a paranoid control freak hawk until the work is done and they’re ready for me to come and add the finishing touches. This is where I  can relate to Mr McCloud and Mr Clarke. Things never go smoothly however organised and efficient you are. Things will break. Deliveries will not turn up. Tradespeople will get delayed. You just need to be ‘on it like a car bonnet’ which fortunately is my specialty.

Now most people would find this exceptionally stressful, but not me, I thrive on it. And the satisfaction when you’re finished and the customer is beaming makes it all worth while.

Customer review for Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

So if you were one of those people who thought my job was easy, do you still think so?

 

 

 

How many interior designers does it take to change a lightbulb?

Don’t worry I’m not venturing into the world of stand up comedy. Anyone who has heard me tell a joke knows that would be a mistake. But I would like to update the joke from how many (insert  profession, nationality, gender etc) does it take to change a lightbulb, to how long does it take them. I say this because ‘fess up, how many of you have:

  1. Left a lightbulb unchanged after it has blown for more than a month
  2. Put up a new light and stuck an ugly lightbulb in it just to get it lit then never got round to putting a better one in
  3. Noticed that each lightbulb in your matching pendant or ceiling lights is a different colour or wattage and done nothing about it
  4. All of the above

I’m an interior designer and I would have to tick option 4.

But today I smacked myself round the chops and sorted out all my lightbulb laziness in one fell swoop. I could tell you that I drew up an inventory of lightbulbs needed, did weeks of extensive research, placed multiple orders and spent half a day correcting all my mistakes, but I’d be lying.  Here’s what really happened.

It started with these lovely cage lights.

Lights vintage industrial Edison cage wall sconce lights

Image via Amazon

I wanted two for my utility room which has just had a makeover (more on that soon). I found them on Amazon for £20.99 each with free delivery thanks to my Amazon Prime membership, which BTW paid for itself in no time at all thanks to all the stuff I order online. I liked the size, the price and the fact they are hinged so the cage can point up, down, sideways or at a jaunty angle. I also liked how good they look with a filament lightbulb

Lightess vintage industrial Edison cage wall sconce light

Image via Amazon

What I didn’t realise though was that I would need a lightbulb that would fit through the cage as the neck of the cage is really narrow. So in the interim I stuck some ugly but skinny LED lightbulbs in (see below…) and went on the hunt for pretty ones.

Ugly narrow 60W LED lightbulb

A lot of the filament lightbulbs available have been designed for restaurants and bars, who want moody or romantic lighting not an airport runway so they tend to be 40W max. My utility room is below ground with one tiny window looking onto my garden path so I needed at least 60W if I wanted to stop mixing my darks with whites. After a couple of evenings on the couch I finally found these beauties on Amazon.

KINGSO E27 T10 60W vintage Edison style carbon filamented lightbulb

Image via Amazon

LED? Check. Right size? Check. Bright enough? Check. Pretty? Check. Right price? Hell yes. £10.68 for a pack of 6 with free Amazon Prime delivery which works out at just £1.78 each and 3000 hours of bright and beautiful light per lightbulb. Bingo. They’re from KingSo a US retailer but available on Amazon through Lerpby

KINGSO 6 pack of E27 T10 60W Vintage Edison style carbon filament lightbulbs

Image via Amazon

And this my friends is how my other lightbulb mistakes got fixed. I used two to replace the ugly ones in the utility room. I then had a lightbulb moment (I had to get that in somewhere) and put one in the landing light as the lightbulb blew last month. In my defence when it’s light from 4am to 10.30pm its hard to motivate yourself to rummage in the garage for a replacement, carry a chair upstairs to stand on, fiddle with the awkward screws that hold the very fragile amber glass shade in place and change the lightbulb. Apologies for the naff picture. It’s really hard to photograph a lit lightbulb, especially when there’s a window in the background.

John Lewis amber glass pendant light with filament lightbulb

As an aside filament lightbulbs look lovely in clear glass but they are in their element (no pun intended) in amber glass shades – see.

How a filament lightbulb looks in clear glass versus amber glass

I put the last three in my summer house where I had managed to commit all three sins. A blown lightbulb, an ugly lightbulb, and a mix of different coloured lightbulbs (one cool white and two warm white). Now doesn’t that look better.

Pendant lighting in Nordic style summer house / bar

If this has caused you to look round your home and acknowledge all the broken, ugly and mismatched lightbulbs you own, and you’re considering the filament route Nook London has a great range of shapes and sizes. Most are 40W but you could go for a large globe and lose the shade. Or install a cluster of the same lightbulbs….

Three bulb pendant light with filament lightbulb from Notonthehighstreet

Image via Notonthehighstreet.com

or a cluster of different lightbulb shapes or filament styles.

Cluster of mismatched filament lightbulb from Fritz Fryer

Image via Fritz Fryer

If you can’t find a multi-pendant light you like you can fit multiple pendants or get your electrician to fit them under one ceiling rose. Coloured cable adds a bit of extra impact. Or create a modern chandelier by fitting ceiling hooks and looping the cable through them. If you’re feeling adventurous Nook London have all the accessories you’ll ever need.

Modern chandelier using multiple filament lightbulb and ceiling hooks

Image via Pinterest

Last point before i stop waffling. Don’t think you have to betray your local retailers and shop online to get the best range and prices. Find the lights you like and show them to your local guys, sometimes they can source the same or a similar item for the same price or even less as I found out recently when my local retailer ordered a bathroom light for me for half the price of a major online retailer.

So right go – fix that lightbulb laziness right now.

Come in for a ‘crack’ the refurb is finished

I’ve been learning a whole new language since I moved to Cumbria, the latest word being flartching. Before you try Google translate, don’t bother. For all you offcomers there’s a dictionary at the end. And FYI it was my dog that was described as a flartch not me, but to be fair we’ve both been known to flartch to get our own way. Other words that have now entered my vocabulary include ratching, laal and lonnin. I’ve even uttered ‘aas gan yam’ once or twice but I might have had a few… Now I wouldn’t skelp you for assuming that Cumbrian words were corruptions of English words, I used to be feckless too. But according to historians Cumbrian isn’t a dialect it’s a complete language. You only have to hear my neighbour Harold yammering with his old pals if you need evidence. But what’s this got to do with interior design you’re thinking? Well stop your twining I’m getting to it.

Joe Fagan is a proud Cumbrian, Cockermouth born and bred and a local businessman. He is also the landlord of The Swan Inn in Cockermouth and I’ve been helping him with a refurb.

The Swan, a traditional 18th century lakeland inn on historic Kirkgate in Cockermouth

When Joe took over the pub he just gave it a quick lick of paint, but after a great year of increasing customer numbers he wanted to show the regulars his gratitude and invest some of his own money in smartening up the place. His brief was quite clear though, we needed to retain all the character but tidy it up without it being unrecognisable to the regulars, i.e. a change without change. We also needed to acknowledge the various communities that used the pub, which included rugby fans, a brass band, folk singers, the quiz team and scrabble fans. Some brief eh? Shall we start with a few before images so you know what I was working with?

Cumbria, The Swan Inn Cockermouth

Cumbria, The Swan Inn Cockermouth

Cumbria, The Swan Inn Cockermouth

I’ll summarise…

Decor Positives

  1. Original beams
  2. Original sash windows
  3. Natural zones – two lounges, a bar area and TV/darts room
  4. A few good pieces of furniture
  5. Lots of nice prints and photos of the local area
  6. Some vintage paraphernalia we could use to accessorise

Decor Negatives

  1. Bright red, chipped paint
  2. A mixture of REALLY ugly lights
  3. Some cheap pine furniture
  4. Faded curtains covering the windows
  5. Horrible pub carpet
  6. A jumble sale of cheap picture frames, dying plants and crockery
  7. Horse brasses…..

Want to see it now? Well come on into the bar for a deekabout, just watch your napper.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

Much more inviting me thinks. Now lets move from the bar into the lower lounge, rarely used before but now much more popular. We moved all the old pews down there which really helps with the layout.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

It’s also much brighter without the old curtains and you can now see the lovely sash windows.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

Come on through to what the regulars are now calling The Library. You wouldn’t believe how many people have admired the new bookcase….

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

Pub goers love a good conversation point and this wallpaper has certainly given them that.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

Obviously the new lights have swan necks, and I’ve added a few swans here and there. This pair came from a shop in Lisbon of all places.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

I pillaged all the local charity shops for old books to scatter round the place as I love the character of an old book. If you pop in take a closer look there are some great reads among them.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

This is one of only two lights that survived as it makes quite a nice feature between the lounge and the library.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

I often tell customers that if there are 10 things they want to change but can only change 7 the other 3 won’t look so bad anyway, and this is definitely the case with the upholstery. Yes it is a little worn but it should be in a pub this old.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

So this is ‘band corner’ a small area we have dedicated to the local brass band. The alcove has been papered with some very discreet musical note wallpaper, and there are pics of the band and a few instruments on the wall. They love the umbrella stand which I am told is an E-Flat Base not a Tuba.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

I think the transformation is most obvious in the TV/Darts room. We’ve decorated with old pictures of the local rugby team and a few vintage rugby items. I let Joe keep one pub mirror but only because it has the local Jennings brewery on it.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

The regulars love the new toilet signs. They also serve as a distraction, I don’t think anyone has noticed I’ve taken down all the horse brasses.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

The bar rules are my favourite addition. The football lads can get a little rowdy you know…..

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

The signs above the arch are actually essential. Not for me and the landlord, us being a little vertically challenged, but the signs make everyone else take note before passing through. Keeps the accident numbers down.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

So what do you think? Fancy a pint?

You should pop in if you’re in the area. Mr W tells me that Joe keeps the best beer in Cumbria and he always has time for a crack with everyone.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

Cumbrian – English Translation

  1. Flartching – flirting
  2. Offcomer – non-native of Cumbria
  3. Ratching – rummaging
  4. Laal – little
  5. Lonnin – lane
  6. Aas gan yam – I’m going home
  7. Kelp – slap
  8. Yammering – speaking quickly and unintelligibly
  9. Twining – complaining
  10. Deekabout – look around
  11. Napper – head
  12. Crack – gossip, banter
  13. Lasses – women
  14. Marras – in West Cumbria women refer to their male partners as marras but its also a general term for mate or friend
  15. Grotting, gollering and brawling – spitting, shouting and fighting

The Home Office

If you caught my last post or have been following my antics on Twitter you’ll know that there is a plan (and not much more at the mo) to convert my garage to a new fancy pants studio / workshop. But in the meantime I have been using the kitchen instead of my actual office, but I’ve been evicted by Mr W so have had to upgrade my actual office. Blah blah blah – all caught up?

Yesterday Operation Improve Actual Office commenced at around 1pm and finished roughly 24hrs later. In the hours leading up to this event I felt like I did before my last marathon. Sort of excited but nervous about the inevitable pain. And there was pain. There were flat packs involved. But other than a few terse exchanges it actually went much better than expected. So want to see the results?

First I think you need to understand the layout I’m working with. The room needs to remain a bedroom as we have a lot of visitors, and it has a staircase in it, two windows and a large radiator. Look…try and ignore the ugly lights, they’re going as soon as I’ve found suitable replacements.

Guest bedroom and home office

Guest bedroom and home office

So this is where I’ll be sitting oggling fabulous interiors stuff on the internet doing paperwork, research and making calls

Home office

Check out my new magnetic memo board with a handy pocket for paint charts

Home office

I bought 3 of these headphone wearing skulls for a children’s bedroom project and only used one. I know the grinning me in cap and gown is a bit off putting but Mr W insists I display it as doing my MBA when working full time (and a half) for a slave driving employer was quite an achievement he tells me, and he’s right, it nearly killed me.

Home office

Combing shelves and picture ledges turned out to be a winner as I can have more pics without giving up valuable shelf space. And those under shelf wire baskets (set of 2 for £5 from Dunelm) are genius.

Home office

And this is where I’ll be standing doing the more creative stuff, like testing paint samples and putting together mood boards. I realised today though that I also want a high stool with a back rest so that’s tomorrows distraction sorted. In the meantime I’ve pinched one from the kitchen.

Home office

Love my new wipeboard which I’m using to plot where customers are in the pipeline. These 30 minute or 3 day makeover programmes are a complete illusion, projects never happen quickly. I’m photographing one tomorrow that technically finished in December, but then another chair had to be ordered which only just arrived. Also smitten with my customer specific clipboards. I wasn’t this organised when I had 300 employees.

Home office

And look how witty I am.

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I now have a space for my NYC musical snow globe. When I was 21 I got sent to New York for a week on my own on a business trip. I thought I was the bees knees but I was also terrified as I’d never been anywhere on my own or to America and the subway did look exactly like it does in horror movies. Every time I look at this globe which I bought that week I smile and remember what an adventure it was.

Home office

But this is my favourite bit of the room.

Home office

Nothing in my house is straight or central and this fireplace is a shining example of its irregularities, which called for a little off-centre wall art. The print was an eBay bargain and the clock from Cult Furniture one of my go to places for cool stuff.

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I’m also very happy with my other eBay bargain print. Mr W was not at all sure. He thinks it look like a doctors surgery not an office.

Home office

This was my mantra when I started my own business so it had to have a home somewhere in here.

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And the best thing about this office? Well if it all gets too much I can always have a power nap.

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So in addition to the new stool I also want to change the lights (cue sigh from Mr W). There are really old fashioned (and not in a good way) but I’m struggling to find something with the right look and that will give out the same amount of light. Maybe that’s Thursdays distraction…

So what do you think, could you work in here?

Come dine with me

One interior design trend predicted for 2016 is the return of the formal dining room. Now I’m not sure if that means rebuilding the walls in your ‘so new the paint has only just dried’ open spaces, or if you’ll be adding extensions so that you can be greedy uber fashionable and have an additional formal dining room. Or maybe it just means that all of us with unfashionable walls between our rooms have a chance to become fashionable again.

Contemporary dining room in Paris by ALFA

Glass could be an option if you want to make the transition back from open to enclosed – contemporary dining room in Paris by ALFA, image via Houzz

I have a dining room but it’s far from formal. It’s not even room shaped as one wall is external and bends round the house making it sort of trapezium shaped. Technically it seats seven, which might seem an odd number but you’d be surprised how many parties of seven we have. This seating miracle is only achieved by having a church pew that I carried on my back across a French market on one side, and narrow church chairs on two sides. There isn’t a fourth side, there isn’t room and it really is trapezium shaped.

You wouldn’t want to eat dinner at my house at the moment though Unless of course you’re a huge fan of kale, as we’re on the Sirtfood diet. Now I’ve never been one for fad diets, I’m of the ‘eat less, exercise more’ school of thought. But this has been harder to practice of late and it guaranteed a loss of 7lb in the first seven days and positively encouraged red wine and chocolate so I thought what the hell I’m in. Five days and £200 later (cost of juicer and lots of ingredients I didn’t have) and I’m actually quite enjoying it. I’ve lost 6lbs, I’m not hungry or fantasising about food 24/7 and I’m feeling pretty good. This might stick.

Cosy dining room with vintage church furniture by Amelia Wilson Interiors

My trapezium shaped exceptionally bijou dining room

Anyway back to dining rooms…..I love a formal dining room, particularly one with bold colour. Dining rooms don’t need calming colour schemes, unless the only diners you’re entertaining are under 5’s. In which case something neutral, and wipeable, might be a good idea. But if you want lively dinner parties then go for something dramatic to get your dinner guests talking.

Dramatic red dining room by Contemporary Gem

Dramatic red dining room by Contemporary Gem, image via Houzz

OK, perhaps all that red is a bit much for the average household but hopefully you get my point.

If you’ve been lusting after all the lovely dark greys people are putting on their walls but haven’t been brave enough to take the plunge yourself why not try it in your dining room. You probably won’t be in there every day so you can gradually get used to it. And chances are you only use your dining room at night, and dark painted rooms look great in the evening with soft lighting. Perfect way to wean yourself in.

Dark grey dining room by Heather Garrett Design

Dining room by Heather Garrett Design, image via Houzz

I’ve been reading The Kinfolk Home recently (a fabulous gift from recent house guests). It’s all about slow living, which the author describes as ‘cultivating community, simplifying our lives and reclaiming time for what matters most’. It includes photographs from 35 homes which reflect this concept. Unsurprisingly many of them are Danish. Anyway, it included a phrase which I instantly    connected to and love, ‘longer tables for longer evenings’. Nothing keeps a party together like a long dining table which comfortably seats everyone. And I love it when people move around during the evening, and not just because the people to their left and right are boring. I know I know, not everybody has the space but wouldn’t it be nice if we did.

Contemporary dining room with 16 seater glass table

Contemporary dining room with table for 16 – lucky buggers

Which brings me neatly to a personal bug bear – comfy chairs. I’m a midget with a damaged coccyx (caused by an accident during my one and only attempt at windsurfing). So I’m like a pensioner with piles if you give me a hard chair to sit on. You gotta give me a little cushioning if you want me to stay seated. Again, I know fabric isn’t practical if you’ve got little’uns but seat pads and removable covers are always an option. I’d be putting armchairs at my dining table if I had room.

I love these blue velvet chairs . I’ve got a new customer who is lucky enough to have room for a breakfast table and chairs in her bedroom (I know – total luxury), and I’m thinking of suggesting navy blue velvet to bring some colour to her currently very neutral scheme.

Dark grey living room with navy blue velvet chairs

Blue velvet dining chairs in dining room by Atmosphere Interior Design Inc, image via Houzz

If you’re got room round your table give your guests somewhere to rest their arms. Armrests encourage people to sit back. Makes them better for your posture, and it easier for chatting with the hot guy two seats down if your neighbours are boring…..

Scandinavian style dining room

Moulded plastic carver chairs in Scandinavian style living/dining room, image via Houzz

One of the best things about a dining room is it doesn’t matter how low your ceiling is you can still have a pendant ceiling light, or even better pendant lights. The dining table will conveniently stop people from banging their head. Hurrah, potentially no need for recessed spotlights. But don’t forget the other lighting rules:

  1. Aim for three sources of light – in a dining room this is probably ceiling and wall lights, and a couple of lamps if you have room for a sideboard
  2. Always have your lights on separate switches
  3. Use dimmers

One of my customers has a Georgian farm house with a huge dining room like the one below. We’ve got lots of practical stuff to do first like fixing the roof, restoring the sash windows and re-plastering walls, but I’m itching to start the interior designs. I’m liking this olive green but I would throw in some deep red accents to warm it up a bit. She already has a huge table so the hunt is on for comfy chairs.

Traditional Georgian dining room with green walls, ceiling and wall lights

Traditional dining room by CRISP Architects, image via Houzz

So those green walls just reminded me I’m due another delicious and nutritious sirt juice so I’m off to pulp kale. But I’d love to see what you’ve done with your dining rooms, send me pics if you’ve got a minute.

Boutique on a budget

It’s pretty easy to make a room look good if you’ve got big bucks to spend. I’m not saying big spenders don’t make interior design mistakes, you only need to watch MTV cribs or Through The Keyhole to prove it. And I make no apologies for watching these shows, they are house porn in its purest form. But it takes a lot more creativity and resourcefulness to create the wow factor on a budget. Which is why the theme for my stand this week at the Lakes Hospitality show was boutique on a budget. The majority of attendees own small businesses – restaurants, hotels, B&B’s, guest houses and holiday lets, and although the lakes remains a popular destination for tourists they still have to work hard to make a profit, and that’s before the recent floods hit. So I wanted to show attendees that you can create impact without breaking the bank.

Now every designer likes a blank canvas, but exhibition stands bring a whole new meaning to the word drab.

Standard exhibition shell stand at the lakes hospitality association trade show in Cumbria

If I wanted to wow I needed wallpaper but it needed to be high impact low cost. I um’ed and ah’ed for weeks over the right look, and was nearly seduced by three that I’d found on offer at wallpaper direct.com. All usually £35 a roll but reduced to £10.

My first love was this black and gold wallpaper with the back to back usherettes. Great colours for a luxe look and very striking from a distance. But maybe not right for the Lakes…..

Interval from the Albany Performance Wallpaper Collection

Interval from the Albany Performance Wallpaper Collection. Image via Houzz

Next I was strangely drawn to this Chorus Line wallpaper. I loved the idea of the black background with hot pink accessories. But again perhaps not right for the Lakes.

Chorus Line from the Albany Performance Wallpaper Collection

Chorus Line from the Albany Performance Wallpaper Collection. Image via Houzz

And then I spotted this blush pink and gold Geisha wallpaper. The colours are bang on trend, and its very pretty, but AGAIN perhaps not in the Lakes.

Geisha from the Albany Performance Wallpaper Collection

Geisha from the Albany Performance Wallpaper Collection. Image via Houzz

And then I found the perfect specimen. A natural looking motif that’s not ‘country cottage’, a striking design that isn’t garish, and a colourway that works with a boutique look. And £10.99 a roll – hurrah. I had sleepless nights over my plan to screw plywood sheets to the stand and wallpaper on site, particularly since its been 20 years since I wielded a wallpaper pasting brush. There were also a couple of attempts to foil my plan on the day that involved getting the electrician to move cables and borrowing a saw to cut two of the sheets to fit but we did it, and I managed a wallpapering job that would have my decorator in tears but looked perfect from a distance of 3ft. Result.

Mr W wielding a sword on the Amelia Wilson Interiors stand at the 2016 Lakes Hospitality show in Cumbria

(A very frustrated Mr W after we realised we’d need to cut two of the board to fit)

The wallpaper is called Whisper by Arthouse and available from wallpaper direct.com – what do you think, enough wow? Amelia Wilson Interiors exhibition stand at Lakes Hospitality show. Whisper wallpaper by Arthouse

Whisper by Arthouse wallpapers available at wallpaper direct.com

I needed  a way of displaying examples of my work without taking up too much room and decided a gallery wall would do the trick. It also fit with my ‘hotel lounge’ idea. A few old frames I found in my garage mixed with a few from my neighbours garage (everyone has picture frames in their garage…) and some recent charity shop purchases and voila! The lovely inky grey paint is called Evening Coat by Valspar and was supplied free courtesy of my lovely local rep Becky in return for a plug (here you go Becky – thank you)

Gallery wall painted in Evening Coat by Valspar and covered in old frames

Gallery wall painted in Evening Coat by Valspar

In my mind no guesthouse or B&B lounge would be complete without a hostess trolley, and look at this beauty I found on eBay for £20. Straight out of my granny’s living room and perfect for my gold and grey colour scheme.

Gold retro hostess gin trolley

A few vintage decanters and tumblers, an empty whisky bottle filled with cold tea (clever eh), some old books from Oxfam and a magnifying glass from Homesense (£7.99) and it looks like its straight off the set of Fawlty Towers…

Vintage decanters, old books and magnifying glass used to style a retro hostess gin trolley  I put a black Biba decanter on the bottom tray which picked up for a tenner in the House of Fraser sale. Looks fab with a few black ostrich feathers doesn’t it?

Black decanter from BIBA and black ostrich feathers used to dress retro hostess gin trolley

The centre piece of my stand was going to be an old console table that used to reside in my flat in London many moons ago. It was originally from Heals and is the Tina Turner of tables (great legs). I wouldn’t normally paint wooden furniture but the veneer was damaged in a few places and couldn’t be repaired so I took a big gulp and painted it Evening Coat grey to match the gallery wall and sealed it with a clear varnish to prevent chipping.

On top of the table I wanted two oversized table lamps. I’ve been scouring Homesense for a while for the perfect pair but to no avail, so in the end I opted for a couple of bases (£15 each) which I sprayed gold, and made shades using kits from Needcraft and some grey velvet and ostrich feather fringing I bought off eBay.

Gold lamp base with grey velvet lampshade with grey ostrich feather fringing

(Re-sprayed lamp bases and homemade lampshades. Total cost around £35 each)

I found the gold mirrored tray below on sale at Laura Ashley (reduced to £30) and added some more charity shop glassware, another Biba vase from House of Fraser (£8) and an old Hendricks bottle. The tray is going in my bathroom when I’ve unpacked….

Vintage glassware, BIba vase and Hendricks bottle use to decorate a mirrored gold tray from Laura Ashley

And the finished effect? Check out the table legs – beautiful aren’t they…

Grey console table with gold and grey table lamps styled by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Now you can’t have boutique without a velvet chair but space was limited. However, I am lucky enough to have a very talented upholsterer friend, who produced the perfect petite piece. A vintage French cocktail chair which she picked up for a few quid on one of her antique market jaunts.

Vintage French cocktail chair before being upholstered by Ilona Hadfield, proprietor of Fandango

Don’t believe what you see on the Great Interior Design Challenge. Upholstery is not easy. And it involves more than just a staple gun. Well it does if you want it to look good and last. I know this because I spent two evenings a week for 6 months trying to learn the skill. There is a reason we pay professionals and thats exactly what Ilona is. She upholstered it in beautiful Designers Guild velvet with contrasting gold buttons and piping. Unsurprisingly it had a few ladies swooning on the day. It’s for sale BTW so message me if you’re interested.

Vintage French cocktail chair upholstered in Designers Guild crushed velvet with contrasting gold piping and buttons by Ilona Hadfield

A tall frothy potted palm plant from Ikea and the stand was finished. What do you think? Could you imagine yourself transported to the Lake District on a cold November evening, in an old Victorian guesthouse, lounging on a velvet chair sipping whisky listening to the open fire crackling and the rain outside?

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OK, maybe I have a very vivid imagination, but it certainly pulled the crowds at the show. Better than some boring grey felt eh?

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.