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.

2016 Interior Design Trends Part IV – Bathrooms

I’m starting to regret naming this series of posts ‘2016 interior design trends’ part I, part II etc. as it’s starting to sound like a movie franchise from the 80’s that gets worse with every new sequel (think Police Academy 1-7….). So this is going to be my last post on 2016 trends and it’s back to random waffling next week. I have some great before and afters coming up, and a couple of interesting projects I want to show you.

But I couldn’t move on without talking about bathrooms. They used to be such bland rooms (I’m talking post 70’s avocado bathroom suites of course). The most exciting feature being a patterned border tile, or a colourful bath mat. Wild and crazy huh. But not anymore, the trend now is to pay them the same attention we pay our living spaces. And if your bathrooms are bijou then the goal is to make them ‘smacious’. Which apparently is the transformation of a small space to make it feel more spacious. Sounds like a word Nicole Scherzinger would use so it’s not likely to make it into my vocabulary anytime soon….

So anyway lets get on with it. Here are eight trends we can expect to see in 2016, some new and some just continuing to grow, and two that I’m REALLY not sure about. Don’t skip to the end now, thats just cheating.

#1 – boutique bathrooms

The first thing I do when I stay in a hotel is check out the en suite. I can turn a blind eye to shortfalls in the bedroom (ahem…) if the bathroom is good, and that doesn’t mean it has to be big. Size is not everything. Sometimes its just a tap that wins me over. Boutique hotels ALWAYS have fab bathrooms. One way you can create that boutique look in your own bijou space is to paint all the walls dark, even black if you’re brave enough. I would be but Mr W would forbid it. With good lighting this can actually make the room look bigger.

Bathrooms - Dark decor in boutique hotel bathroom

Image via www.digsdigs.com

If you’re not brave enough for black walls then another easy way to get the boutique hotel look is by using that timeless classic, marble. I had a nosy around the bathroom below last year when I went on a house tour organised by Living etc. Serious case of bathroom envy I can tell you. With the pale grey walls and gold fittings this bathroom murmurs elegant over and over…. (it would be uncouth for it to scream).

Bathrooms - Elegant marble bathroom with grey walls and gold fittings

Elegant marble bathroom in Victorian townhouse in London. Image via housetohome.co.uk

#2 – the homely vibe

If you’re not into glam then another trend for 2016 is to go homely, which is something we’re seeing in kitchens too (see Part II). This is an easy look to achieve as you just need to pretend you’re decorating your living room. Add a mirror that doesn’t look like a bathroom mirror, lights that don’t look like bathroom lights (not always easy I know), some artwork, a few plants and accessories, a chair if you’ve got room, maybe even a rug.

I love this bathroom as there are so many interesting little touches but the neutral colour scheme keeps it from looking cluttered.

Bathrooms - Homely white bathroom

Image via blog.atmine.com

#3 – raw materials

Another trend which is growing in both kitchens and bathrooms is a scheme that combines raw materials like brick, steel, wood and concrete. I’ve just taken on a new client who likes this look so I have been scouring the county looking for a local supplier of concrete floors and worktops. I also spent longer than I should ogling concrete lights (check out URBI ET ORBI via clippings.com)

Bathrooms - Industrial bathroom with concrete counter tops

Concrete countertop in industrial bathroom by Aamodt / Plumb Architects. Image via Houzz

 Mixing wood with concrete stops the bathroom looking too stark and cold. I like the way they’ve continued the flow of wood in this bathroom by putting duckboards in the shower area instead of a shower tray or tiles. I’m not sure I could be bothered with the maintenance though as I expect you’d have to re-oil the duckboards every once in a while.

Bathrooms - Concrete bathroom walls and wood floor with duckboards in shower

Image via thisisglamorous.com

The industrial look is typically minimalistic which leads quite nicely on to number 4…..

#4 – minimal not clinical

In contrast to the homely look, another growing trend in bathrooms is to make them clutter free. This obviously requires great storage. I don’t know about you but I start twitching when I see those chrome or fabric organiser things hung on the back of bathroom doors. Or free standing rattan drawers jammed between the sink and the loo because whoever planned the bathroom didn’t think about storage. I can’t understand how you can forget how many toiletries the average person uses. If you don’t have space for separate cupboards get a vanity unit instead of a pedestal mounted sink, or use the space above the loo (which there nearly always is) for a cupboard or some shelves. Make sure there are alcoves in your shower and/or a space at the end of the bath for bottles. Mr W goes mad as I’m always ‘tidying away’ anything he leaves out in our bathroom. It’s not that I’m averse to a few things on display, quite the opposite, but they need to match the decor, which deodorant and beard moisturiser (weird product which recently appeared in our bathroom) never do.

Bathrooms - Minimalist bathroom with excellent storage

VERY minimalist bathroom by Moon Design + Build via Houzz

#5 – mirror image layouts

So by this I mean his and hers, or his and his, or hers and hers for that matter sinks and mirrors side by side. Obviously you need space to do this but very nice if like me you have to share your bathroom sink with someone who likes to trim his (well moisturised) beard and doesn’t clean up after himself properly……You don’t need to splash out on a big vanity unit either, providing of course you have another storage solution, you can do this quite cheaply with two simple pedestal mounted sinks. Obviously the ones below weren’t cheap but it’s the dark walls with matching skirting, and the mirrors that give this bathroom the wow factor.

Bathrooms - Twin pedestal sinks in bathroom

Twin pedestal sinks in bathroom designed by Godrich Interiors via Houzz

#6 – Wide bath ledges

For a while it seemed like everyone wanted a roll top, clawfoot bath in their bathroom. I have a period property so obviously I have one, and I do like it but am I the only one that sloshes water all over the floor when I get out? I also wish I had somewhere to put my kindle and wine glass for the two occasions in a year when I actually have time to relax in the bath. Apparently I’m not alone on this and we can expect to see a move towards built in baths with wide ledges around them for candles and wine glasses. Still need to resolve the problem of never having the time for a proper bath though.

Bathrooms - Built in bath with wide ledge

Built in bath with wide ledge. Image via Houzz

#7 – Metallics

The metallics trend continues in just about all areas of the home. So I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know when I say that the trend for fittings in different metallic finishes like gold and copper will continue. If you can’t afford to spend a lot on your bathroom then keep it simple and all white and blow your budget on a statement tap, its what people will notice most.

Bathrooms - Copper taps in white bathroom

Image via sheer luxe.com

#8 – Big tiles, bold tiles and creative tiling patterns

In my post the bijou bathroom I talk about how big tiles can make a small bathroom look more spacious (fewer grout lines). Just be careful on the floor. You don’t want to find you only have space for one full tile and lots of cut ones. Ideally you want to see at least four full tiles in the centre of the floor space.

Bathrooms - Bijou bathroom with bold encaustic floor tiles and large marble wall tiles

The Bijou Bathroom

I know I’ve already talked about the trend for raw materials, but there are some great concrete effect tiles for those of us who can’t afford the polished concrete floor.

Bathrooms - Grey Tekno concrete effect tiles from Topps Tiles

Tekno concrete effect tiles – image via Topps

Bold tiles will continue to be popular, particularly geometrics and encaustic designs, more commonly used on floors but now appearing on walls.

Bathrooms - Blue encaustic tiles on bathroom wall

 

I get proper excited (as we say up north) when I see creative laying patterns. Last year it was straight and diagonal herringbone patterns, and now we’re seeing patterns on walls that used to be limited to patios and kitchen floors, like basketweave, windmill and pinwheel

Bathrooms - Basket weave tiling

Basket weave tiling using Ochre tiles. Image via Topps

Last word on this topic, ok two words, tile rugs. Love ’em. Great way to sneak expensive tiles into a bathroom without blowing your budget. Can also be used to create zones around a bath or sink area to make the room look bigger,

Bathrooms - Tiling used to create a rug effect under a bath

Tiles used to create a rug effect under a bath. Image via Pinterest.

#9 – underfloor heating

Underfloor heating is a luxury but one more and more people are opting for. And according to Ideal Standard international designer Robert Levien, heated bathroom walls are next. I’m not convinced. I just had an electricity smart meter fitted and now know exactly how much my bathroom underfloor heating costs me every day. So even if I could afford to splash out on heated walls I don’t think I would. I’m already turning off lights and appliances left right and centre and running back to the meter to see what effect it has. I’m such a northerner.

Bathrooms - Electricity smart meter

#10 – hi tech toilets

A few years ago I landed at Heathrow late on a Friday night and they kept us on the plane for ages until they could find a bus to drive us to the terminal. I’d had a glass of wine (possibly two) during the flight, so by the time I was on my way to passport control I was crossing my legs. As I passed the Nippon Airways First Class lounge I thought what the hell, they’re not going to say no to a woman in need, so I scurried in and blagged entry to the loos. I got quite a surprise when I sat down on a heated cushioned seat. I was even more surprised when I noticed the buttons and menu of options on the wall to my right. I could have avoided toilet paper altogether and had my bum washed dried and deodorised if I’d wanted to. But I’m British so I didn’t.

Apparently these toilets/bidets or washlets as they are called are common in Japan and are now gaining popularity in the US. I don’t know why I’m averse to the idea, I mean when did you ever see a toilet brush you’d be proud to have in your bathroom? And how many times have you been stuck in a loo with no paper and had to shout for help. I’m just not sure……

Bathrooms - Hi tech Japanese toilet in Japanese inspired bathroom

So hope that was useful. If you’ve got any questions or want to share your experience of scary Japanese toilets feel free to get in touch. I’m heading back to Google now to search for concrete.

2016 Interior Design Trends Part III

So quick catch up for those who’ve missed the last two posts. I’m spending a few weeks focusing on 2016 interior design trends and this is week three. It’s also week three of Mr W’s retirement, and although there have been incidents of mild irritation, there hasn’t been any swearing, or talk of divorce. Yet. Miracle really, but am feeling very optimistic he might be ‘The One’ (laughs like a hyena) We’ve only been together twenty years.

So this weeks post is all about colour. Now it would be easy to talk about the inky blue, dark grey or even black walls which the cool kids are surrounding themselves with, or the beautiful emerald greens that appear all over H&M’s new spring collection. But I thought I would surprise you all and talk about pink. Yes pink.

2016 Interior Design Trends – Pink

Now pink is a colour I generally avoid in all areas of my life. Partly because I’m blonde, and I don’t want to look like Barbie. Well I used to be blonde. I’m not sure what my natural colour is anymore but as of last week it now includes grey, which according to my hairdresser is a good thing as my roots are less obvious…. Yeah great. But the main reason I avoid pink is because it irritates the pants off me when companies make things for girls in pink because apparently its what we want. I get even more annoyed when they add diamante. I was practically frothing at the mouth last time I tried to buy a serious road bike and my choices in one (very specialist ) shop were pink or duck egg blue….with butterflies. Don’t even get me started on gym wear. Yes I loved pink when I was six but I’m a grown up now. I appreciate there are women who still love to surround themselves with pink, I’m just not one of them. So stop limiting my choices and stereotyping me! Sorry, I’ll stop ranting now.

So I’m not sure what I’m more shocked about, that pink is now totally on trend, or that I’m loving it. There are a few (dare I say) rules mind. Now I know there aren’t supposed to be any rules in interior design, a fact I am reminded of every time I see something I love which I ought to hate. But these rule breakers tend to have been put together by very cool people with fabulous taste. So for everyone else it’s helpful to at least have a few tips, so here are mine.

Tip 1 – if you wouldn’t put it on your cheeks don’t put it on your walls

Limit hot pinks to statement pieces or accent colours.  A few bright pink touches can look stylish without screaming ‘ADOLESCENT GIRLS ROOM’

Neutral room with hot pink accessories by Martha O'Hara Interiors via Houzz

Neutral room with hot pink accessories by Martha O’Hara Interiors via Houzz

But if pink is to be your main colour stick to pastels and blush pinks, like Rose Quartz, which along with Serenity (baby blue) is Pantone 2016 colour of the year. I also like Pink Cocoa by Valspar which I used in The Pink Bedroom project.

Living room with blush pink walls via Houzz

Blush pink living room via Houzz

I don’t know about you but I find pale pink walls very calming. I’m actually thinking of repainting the upstairs bathroom pink. Yes I know it was only done a year ago but smoky candles have left soot on the walls in a couple of places so if we’re going to get the paint brushes out anyway…. (crosses fingers and hopes Mr W is not reading this…)

Blush pink bathroom by LKS Creative

Blush pink bathroom by LKS Creative via Houzz

Tip 2 – mix it with neutrals

Mixing pale pink with grey, taupe, beige or off white allows it to blend in but still lifts the room a little, and avoids it looking bland (apologies Kelly Hoppen fans but I struggle with a completely neutral room). I love the pale pink bookcases in this room.

Neutral living room by Polly Eltes via Houzz

Neutral living room by Polly Eltes via Houzz

I remember begging my mum for a pink and grey bedroom when I was 8. I think I’d been inspired by all the grey marl sweatshirts and pink leg warmers in Fame

Pale pink and grey bathroom by Sherwin Williams via Houzz

Pale pink and grey bathroom by Sherwin-Williams via Houzz

3 – mix with other pastels

Pale pink is pretty versatile when you get into it. Mixing it with pistachio can make the room look very fresh. Very Laura Ashley if you like that look. I’m not knocking Laura Ashley of course, I use their stuff all the time in projects, but tip 4 is more my thing.

Blush pink living room via Houzz

Blush pink room with pistachio accents via Houzz

Tip 4 – add a dark colour

Personally I think the way to really make pink work is to pair it with black, dark brown or even dark blue. Look how fab these black chairs and picture frames look against these pink walls.

Show home by Dillard Pierce Design Associates via Houzz

Show home by Dillard Pierce Design Associates via Houzz

I’m not sure I’d ever put a hot pink splashback in my kitchen but these walnut effect doors instantly stop it looking like Barbies kitchen. The big industrial looking range cooker probably helps steer it from girlie to edgy.

Pink splash back and walnut doors in kitchen by Pedini London

Pink splashback and walnut doors in kitchen by Pedini London via Houzz

Here’s another example of how good pink looks with dark wood. It instantly transforms the room into one a guy can feel comfortable with. Keep it all pink and he’s bound to think its too girly, but add some dark wood or black (especially if its a 60′ flat screen TV….) and he’s gonna feel more comfortable.

Pale pink living and dining room with dark wood floor by Lisa Wolfe Design Ltd via Houzz

Pink living and dining room with dark wood floors by Lisa Wolfe Design Ltd via Houzz

It’s a great compromise for a bedroom. Now I don’t want to start stereotyping, particularly after my earlier rant, but I often work with couples where the wife wants something light and feminine and the guy wants dark and sophisticated, and here’s the solution.

Pink and navy bedroom by V I Photography and Design via Houzz

Pink and navy bedroom by V I Photography & Design, via Houzz

Tip 5 – add something shiny (but not diamante!)

OK, so my last tip is to add some metallic elements, my first choice would be gold for instant glamour. I love the contemporary black metal bed in this bedroom with the gold sunburst mirror. A bit of pale blue too – showing you tip number 3 in action again.

Pink bedroom with black metal bed and gold mirror by Kelly I Designs via Houzz

Pink bedroom by Kelly I Designs via Houzz

Now if you scoot back up to the top and flip through the pics again you’ll see that a lot of the rooms I’ve shown you combine tips. My favourite way to use pink is with black and gold like I did in the pink bedroom project (see below). Very glam and both the lady and the gentleman of the house loved it.

Pink bedroom with black metal and gold by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Right, its Friday night so I’m off for a cheeky glass of wine with Mr W. We only managed dry first half of January I’m afraid, no willpower.

 

 

 

 

2016 Interior Design Trends Part II – Kitchens

For those of you patient enough to endure my waffle about interiors…..and occasionally chickens and Mr W, you will have seen last weeks post 2016 Interior Design Trends, and be up to speed on my plan to share my pick of the interior design trends the big guns in interiors are predicting for 2016, along with a few of my own ideas and comments. So its week 2, and as I’m right into kitchens at the moment thanks to my partnership with Cockermouth Kitchens I thought I’d make this Kitchens week.

Before I get stuck in, there is a general theme at the moment that applies to both kitchens and bathrooms, which is to design these rooms to look more like living spaces. It’s easier to achieve if you’re lucky enough to have an open plan space that can incorporate dining and lounging areas. But it’s still possible to create a homely feel in a more compact kitchen by adding warm colours, soft furnishings, open shelving, feature lighting, artwork and decorative accessories. I particularly like it when I see old Persian style rugs on kitchen floors like these below.

Kitchens - Melrose Kitchen by Luciano Group via Houzz

Melrose Kitchen by Luciano Group via Houzz

1. Open Plan Kitchens & Larger Islands

So first on my top ten list – open plan layouts, which for obvious reasons continue to be popular They increase light and space, give you multi-functional areas and keep the family closer together (though some may see this as a negative….). Add an island and hey presto extra storage space, but if you have room you can really sweat your asset by adding a sink or hob, a food prep area and seating. Our chums across the pond are calling this a ‘workhorse’ island. The one below even has his and her sinks. Sounds like two places for Mr W to dump dirt dishes if you ask me…..Kitchens - The Cliffs at Mountain Park by Linda McDougald Design via Houzz

Kitchen in The Cliffs at Mountain Park by Linda McDougald Design via Houzz

2. Contrasting Cabinets

Now number 2 isn’t a new trend, t’s just one that’s getting bolder with different finishes now being used not just contrasting colours. I would keep the upper cabinets lighter and play around with texture and darker colours on the lower cabinets for the best effects. My own kitchen is a combination of ivory (Farrow & Ball Ringwood Ground) and deep red (Farrow & Ball Rectory Red) and I love this combination of burnt orange and grainy brown.

Kitchens - Rozelle Cottage by Scott Weston Design Architecture PL via Houzz

Kitchen in Rozelle Cottage by Scott Weston Design Architecture PL via Houzz

3. Porcelain Worktops

I may not be getting any slimmer but worktops are. If you’re a fan of the minimalist look, porcelain worktops are now available as skinny as 3mm, and in a range of colours and finishes including wood, stone, marble and metal effects. They are also more heat, flame and stain resistant than other products on the market which is good news for foodies and red wine drinkers like me.

Kitchens - Slim porcelain kitchen worktops - hot trend for 2016. Image courtesy of Walls & Floors.

Slim porcelain worktops are perfect in minimalist kitchens. Image via Walls & Floors

4. Deep kitchen drawers

According to a survey by Houzz ease of storage is the number one priority for those fitting a new kitchen. Deep kitchen drawers are great for small appliances and the dishes you use once in a blue moon (tagine anyone?), making them more accessible than if they were in cupboards. No more rooting around the back of a cupboard on your hands and knees. Personally I’m not a fan of dividers but these can also be used to organise the contents if you feel the need.

Kitchens - Deep kitchen drawers for small appliances etc by Leicht Kuchen AG via Houzz

Drawers by Leicht Küchen AG via Houzz

5. Black appliances

Tired of cleaning fingerprints off your shiny chrome appliances? Then you’ll love the new range of black stainless steel appliances from Samsung and LG. I covered these last week but they’re uber stylish so deserve a second mention. The sleek lines and mildly industrial look means they work well in both traditional and contemporary kitchens.

Kitchens - New range of black stainless steel kitchen appliances from Samsung

The new range of black stainless steel appliance from Samsung

6. Gold hardware

The interiors metallic movement continues, banishing silver and chrome in favour of metals like bronze, rose gold and copper. I’ve got a bit of a crush on polished gold hardware, it really adds glamour to a kitchen or bathroom. I love this kitchen with its moody green cabinets, dark marble worktop and gold finishes.

Kitchens - Midcentury dark green and gold kitchen via Houzz

Midcentury dark green and gold kitchen via Houzz

7. White kitchens

When I was a kid white was what you used for undercoat and ceilings, but there are now as many shades of white as there are other colours, and all-white kitchens continue to be popular for their simplicity and bright, clean look. But they can look a little sterile so make sure you incorporate some colour. This can be anywhere in the scheme including your tiling, worktop, accessories or even a brightly coloured appliance like this fab orange fridge. I think it might be the Swan Retro Fridge available from AO.com, if not its very similar.

Kitchens - White kitchen with bright orange fridge by Etre via Houzz

White kitchen by Etre via Houzz

8. Creative use of LED lighting

It’s important to have good lighting in a kitchen but you want to avoid rows and rows of spotlights in your ceiling and use different sources. Lighting under your upper cabinets and shelving can provide both task lighting and softer light in the evening. But also consider pendants, particularly over seating areas and wall lights. Low level under cabinet lighting is easy to install using adhesive strips of LED lights. It creates a feeling of warmth and the low light stops you stubbing your toes when you raid the fridge at midnight. Top tip – make sure your lights are on different circuits so you can use them separately, and install dimmers where possible.

Kitchens - Freeman Residence by LMK INTERIOR DESIGN via Houzz

Kitchen in the Freeman Residence by LMK INTERIOR DESIGN via Houzz

9. Raw materials

Kitchens are not pretty, wishy washy rooms, they’re full of heat, light, smells and noise, or at least they are when me and Mr W are cooking together. Which is why I think industrial looking raw materials look so great and are becoming increasingly popular. These materials look best when mixed together, for example concrete worktops with exposed brick walls, wood floors and steel appliances like in this kitchen, although it does look a little like the set of a cookery show….

Kitchens - Channel Island Fort via Houzz

Kitchen in Channel Island Fort via Houzz

10. Feature Tiling

We can’t talk kitchens and not talk tiles now can we, and tiling has definitely transitioned from functional to feature over the last few years, with bright colours. bold geometric prints and patterns like herringbone and chevron everywhere. A trend I expect to see more of in 2016 is creating zones in kitchens and larger bathrooms using flooring, either with combinations of tiles or mixing tiles with other types of flooring. This is a great way to minimise costs if you have your heart set on expensive tiles but can’t afford to do the whole floor. Just use them in part of the room and something more affordable around them. If you put different tiles under your table breakfast bar it can look like a rug which adds to the whole homely look I mentioned at the start.

Kitchens - Evangelist Rd y Martins Camisole Architects via Houzz

Kitchen at Evangelist Rd by Martins Camisole Architects via Houzz

So I think I’m all kitchened out. Off to my own kitchen now to put the kettle on. FYI it’s very cool is my kettle.It was designed by Heston Blumenthal and has half a dozen settings for different teas and coffee. Complete waste of money as I only use one setting but it does look nice…..

2016 Interior Design Trends

So that’s a big attention grabbing headline for such a small unknown interior designer isn’t it? Don’t worry I’m not going to get ideas above my station and start making wild, outlandish predictions. But as all the big guns in interiors are predicting their 2016 interior design trends I thought I would spend the next few weeks sharing my favourites and adding my two-pence-worth. Some might call that plagiarism, personally I prefer ‘sharing and contributing’.

So I’m a huge fan of interiors journalist and writer Kate Watson-Smyth and one of her top 10 interior design tips is to always add something black to a room. Actually if you read her blog her tip is to add something old, something new, something black and something gold, but it’s the black which she says will anchor the space and bring definition, and I agree. There’s something reassuringly solid and stylish about black, which is why I’m delighted to hear I should be able to get my hands on more of it, specifically black metal.

2016 Interior Design Trends Part I – Black Metal

Some American interior designers think copper and rose gold metal are history, or never even belonged in interiors, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal on what’s in and what’s out for 2016. To quote Los Angeles decorator Lindsay Pennington, “Copper is for pots and pans. Rose gold is for jewellery.” I’m not sure the Brits agree judging by the plethora of metallics available right now. But it seems interior designers on both sides of the pond agree on one thing though – black metal is definitely high on the list of interior design trends for 2016.

Black stainless steel appliances

According to Houzz, the kitchen is the place for it. Apparently in a poll nearly two-thirds of Houzzers say they would consider black as an alternative to chrome appliances. I’m already onboard having installed a black SMEG Victoria Dual Fuel Cooker in my kitchen last year, along with a black microwave, and a black kettle and toaster set by Heston Blumenthal. The toaster has a crumpet setting and buttons for ‘a quick look’ and ‘a little bit more’. I was instantly sold. Just don’t tell Mr W what I spent….. Anyway, if like me you hate cleaning fingerprints off chrome you might want to check out the new collections from Samsung and LG. “Won’t leave smudges, only impressions” is actually one of LG’s straplines.

Another great thing about black appliances is that unlike chrome they work equally well in both modern and traditional kitchens, which means you don’t have to replace everything if you decide to change your cabinets further down the line.

2016 interior design trends - Black Stainless Steel appliance collection from Samsung

The Black Stainless Steel Collection from Samsung

Black bathroom fittings

Another place I would definitely welcome some black metal is in the bathroom. The comments in the Wall Street Journal from LA based, British interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard suggest we should be seeing more black hardware and bathroom fittings but as far as I can see our choices in the UK are still a little limited. But if thats about to change its music to my ears.

I was looking for some black bathroom fittings recently for a Victorian townhouse (see my Houzz Ideabook) and could only find these from Homary. Now I like them but I’d prefer something a bit chunkier.

2016 interior design trends - Black metal bathroom fittings from Homary.com

Black Chester bathroom fittings from Homary

I thought they would look fantastic with a black factory window style shower enclosure, which I’m also struggling to source. I’m sure I could have one made but that won’t come cheap…So I just have to hope that the makers of shower screens spot the black metal trend and start making them. Quickly. If they could have them in the shops by spring I’d really appreciate it…..(sighs loudly).

2016 interior design trends - black metal bathroom fittings

Black metal factory window style shower enclosure on Pinterest

Black metal furniture

Traditionally black metal furniture has been limited to bed frames, unless you count garden furniture. (I’m intentionally ignoring those dodgy wrought iron coffee tables you find in Spanish villas and hotel reception areas). But apparently we can expect to see more in 2016. Don’t worry if your budget doesn’t stretch to these cool black steel and glass side tables designed by Jasper Morrison. At £390 for one tier and £590 for two tiers I don’t expect to be enquiring about delivery costs to Cumbria anytime soon. Thankfully there are already some stylish and affordable alternatives available.

2016 interior design trends - Black steel and glass side tables by Jasper Morrison

Black steel and glass side tables by Jasper Morrison

I recently used this black steel and wood side table from Habitat as a bedside table in The Pink Bedroom project. At £25 its an absolute steal (boom boom – see what I did there). Habitat also does a matching coffee table which is only £20. £20!
2016 interior design trends - Black powder coated steel and wood side table by Habitat

Black powder coated steel and wood side table from Habitat

It worked really well with the black metal dormitory style bed in the pink bedroom, and the wooden fitted wardrobes you can just see in the reflection in the overmantel mirror.

2016 interior design trends - black metal furniture in bedroom designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The Pink Bedroom

I recently discovered these black steel lounge chairs from Cult Furniture. You have a choice of white or black metal and charcoal or cream seats but I would stick with the black and charcoal option. They would look very stylish paired with a charcoal sofa and at £89 you can probably afford a pair.

2016 interior design trends - Cult Living black powder coated steel and ash Aura Lounge chair from Cult Furniture

Black powder coated steel and wood Cult Living Aura lounge chair from Cult Furniture

So that’s the first instalment on 2016 interior design trends. What do you think? Is there room for some black metal in your home?

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

My name is Amelia Wilson and I’m an addict

Good morning, my name is Amelia Wilson and I’m an interior designer and addict. Phew good to get that off my chest….. Thankfully my addiction doesn’t ruin lives, quite the opposite. It’s a versatile addiction too. I can get my fix anywhere and I feed my addiction 24/7 as its a hungry one. Sorry I should have mentioned, I’m addicted to learning. It’s one of the reasons I changed career. I was teaching more than I was learning, and although I think we all have a responsibility to help others learn, like all addicts I’m selfish.

So I’ve been in my element for the past year or so. Learning from others, learning on the job and squeezing in a postgraduate diploma in interior design. In interior design people are more interested in the work you’ve done than any qualifications you might have. But there are a lot of practical things you learn when you start a new job working for a company, and I was going to be working alone so I started the diploma to fill this gap.

I’m telling you all of this because my latest assignment asks for an essay on what constitutes a well designed home. I pondered this for a few minutes and came up with 3 criteria, but then decided to dig around on the internet to see what others thought. I’ve written before about how easily distracted I am by google so I should have known better. I wasted an hour chuckling at the Gwyneth Paltrowesque guff I found, which I now feel compelled to share with you. I’m not naming and shaming in case they band together and get me struck off the ‘cushion scatterer’ list…….

First up, an interior designer and blogger that offers 12 ways a well designed home impacts your life, starting with ‘being proud of your space is like vitamin D for the soul’. What??? I think she ran out after 9 as number 10 (Beauty makes you smile. Being in a beautiful space just feels good!) sounds remarkably like number 1 repackaged. It also came with a picture of a smiling baby, admittedly very beautiful….

Beautiful baby

Another blog that offers ‘interior design ideas and lifestyle nourishment’ (nuff said) suggests there are only 10 things needed which includes ‘a place to set down a beverage from every seat’. Sounds like she might have an addiction too. She failed to supply an image so I’ve provided my own.

Olivia Pope in Scandal

Olivia Pope in Scandal – crisis manager, snappy dresser and red wine drinker. Every seat in her house definitely has somewhere to place a beverage

I meandered from the precise to the vague, pausing briefly on a site that suggested you need unity, variety, emphasis and rhythm. Apparently you must have variety but without sacrificing unity, in order to achieve harmony. (Clicks back and scrolls to next search result….)

Most bizarre award goes to one designer who suggested 4 good pieces of detailed advice, and one very random offering. ‘A mix of eclectic furniture, chic lamps with dim lighting, a smart sound system, a good scent…..and a signature drink’ ????? Apparently you offer guests your signature drink so it becomes your trademark. Not quite sure what this has to do with a well designed home but whatever. I’m a NZSB girl so thats what all my guests get anyway….

NZSB aka New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

So what are my criteria for a well designed home? Not sure I want to share them now in case you start calling me Gwynnie but here goes….

Beautiful (in the eye of the beholder) – Whoever you are designing a home for it must be beautiful to them. As interior designers it is our job to design a home that the occupant will love but it is also important to remember that often the reason we have been employed is because the client doesn’t trust their own choices. So it is right to challenge them if they ask for things that will look terrible. Having said that I have had to incorporate items into designs that personally I haven’t liked but the owner has insisted on. My best example of this is a client who wanted armchairs in her living room that looked like they belonged on an airplane, because she insisted they were the most comfortable things she had ever sat on. I handled it by making the fireplace the focal point, picking a colour scheme where the armchairs blended in, and added throws and cushions to soften the way they looked. The final result was something we were both very happy with.

Functional – I have had many debates about what’s more important, beauty or functionality? My view as an interior designer is that they are of equal importance. It doesn’t matter how beautiful a room is, if it doesn’t meet your needs you won’t use it. Similarly, if a room is functional but ugly you won’t enjoy it. Functional covers a multitude of things. It might be the amount of light needed, the type of furniture required or even the wall space. This is why it is important to do your research at the outset and invest time in finding out what the space is, will or could be used for.

Energy efficient – even if you’re not sensible enough to care about the environment I’ve yet to find a customer who isn’t concerned about costs. So patios with underfloor heating and a house full of halogen light bulbs should be a no no.

After all that guff mine sound really boring so I think I’ll add one more – big fluffy towels. Who doesn’t love a big fluffy towel – one of life’s essentials surely?