I can’t decide what’s better as an interior designer being given the blank canvas of a show home or new build, or transforming something that has become tired and dated. I suppose if I enjoy them both it doesn’t really matter. Similarly, I’ve loved the freedom I’ve been given to design this latest show home, (the brief was literally here’s the budget, make it look good, quickly). But then you can’t beat the feeling you get when you show a client your designs for their home and they love them, because you’ve managed to capture everything they told you they liked, plus a bunch of things they would never have thought of but love as well. I guess I’m just saying my job rocks.
Throughout my career whatever job I was doing I always had a reputation for ‘getting stuff done’. And as an interior designer I continue to focus on doing things right, doing them on time, and always on or under budget. I am also a tad competitive (possibly the worlds greatest understatement…) So when the owner of the John Dalton Building in Cockermouth set me the challenge of turning one of their new apartments into a show home in just 4 weeks I set myself the goal of doing it in 3, and I did. So who is up for an exclusive sneak preview before open house this weekend? Continue reading “The Show Home Final Reveal”
Never before has a room been so inappropriately named as this snug which my customers use as a TV room. At over 25 square metres it’s bigger than somewhere a London estate agent once tried to flog me as a one bedroom flat.
It’s the second room I’ve decorated for my customers. Our first project was their Ginormous Living Room – click the link if you want to pop back and take a look. It was a major transformation and they loved the final result which set high expectations for round two. I needed to come up with something at least as fabulous, preferably better and I think I rose to the challenge but I’ll let you be the judge. Ready for some before pics?
The Snug – Before
Their TV room was originally the garage but the previous owners who built the house later decided they needed an extra living space and converted it. God knows what they were using the ginormous living room for. Tennis court? Ballroom? Seriously pop back and take a look it’s big enough.
And if you did take a look you’ll know that the previous owners were also fans of a fake beam or two. They managed to squeeze three more in here, along with a staircase that we think came out of a church. It also had a strange laminate floor and carpet combo going on.
Those stairs lead up to the loft space where there is another fabulous fake beam and some badly designed storage. Lets not discuss the carpet, wallpaper and curtains – all the previous owners doing.
The previous owners also liked to cut corners and didn’t bother moving the electricity meter, they just hid it behind an oddly shaped cupboard….. and a darts board.
The Big TV Challenge
When I design living rooms I usually try to hide the TV, or at least make it blend into the background. But if you have a room that’s main purpose is for watching TV in you’re allowed to give it a little more stage presence. However, a lot of TV stands are ugly, even the expensive ones, and they don’t always hide all the wires. The other issue is size. You need to fill the wall that the TV sits against with ‘stuff’ so it doesn’t look lost. Here’s some approaches I’ve taken.
1. Incorporate the TV into a wall of storage and/or artwork
Image from AVSO.ORG
Image via Pinterest
2. Make the wall behind the TV the feature
I recently tiled a wall like the image below and used concealed lighting to pick out the contours. I’ll show you some pics of my own project just as soon as their new TV stand arrives. The current one is not pretty enough for pics…..
Image via Pinterest
3. Use a false wall
Image via Pinterest
Or the false wall can look like a chimney breast or run the length of the room with the TV and media equipment buried in it. This approach works well when you want a more minimalistic look so that the emphasis is on other elements in the room. I love the image below but I’m not convinced you should have a TV above a fire.
Image via Pinterest
So back to the snug.
I wanted to carry some of that modern country look through from the living room for continuity but add a touch more luxury. This translated to a scheme that includes a plush velvet sofa and grey plaid wallpaper (I can’t call it tartan without thinking of the Krankies).
So are you ready?
The Snug – Final Reveal
When my customer told me she quite fancied a velvet sofa my heart practically skipped a beat. Many of my customers have dogs and/or small children so velvet (especially deep buttoned) is a big no no. And although my customers have both a dog and a small child they also have the aforementioned ginormous living room, which they can use when everyone isn’t as clean as they should be. So we could make this room a bit more grown up and sophisticated. Bring it on!
The focal point is obviously the new media wall. The gas fire has gone and a new stud wall has been built to resemble a chimney breast so that we could wallpaper the alcoves either side. This gives the whole wall interest so it’s not just about the TV. The shelves below the TV are big enough to accommodate the current media equipment and any future equipment the customers might want, and there is concealed lighting along the top to give just the right amount of light for late night movie watching.
The wallpaper adds a posh country hotel vibe doesn’t it, and it was only £10 a roll……
The side table tops come off and can be used as trays so you have somewhere for your wine and popcorn when you’re watching a movie.
My customers are a VERY photogenic family and had loads of lovely pics I could use as artwork. The black and white prints and simple white frames look lovely against the wallpaper, and we hung the pictures high to make the walls seem longer.
The large admiral blue deep buttoned velvet sofa and matching ottoman with storage is from Next. There was room for two sofas or a sofa and armchair combo but frankly the homeowners sit in here to watch TV so one large sofa means everyone is facing in the right direction.
You remember the rule about area rugs right? Buy the biggest you can afford, preferably one that is wider than the sofa so it doesn’t look lost. This plush deep pile one is from IKEA, because it’s multiple shades of blue it contrasts with the carpet but doesn’t clash with the sofa. Perfect.
We papered the wall behind the sofa so that side of the room didn’t look bare. The dark wood doors were replaced with white 6 panel ones to match the rest of the house and all the woodwork was painted white, including the new under-stairs storage (with push to open fittings so it doesn’t look like cupboards), and the new cupboard that houses the electricity meter.
Replacing the staircase wasn’t an option, or necessary to be honest so we just replaced the newel post with a more contemporary square one, and the new grey carpet carries up the stairs into the space which will become an office, right now it’s just a nicely decorated box with lots more new storage space – see.
Most of the budget had to go on things you probably can’t appreciate like getting all the radiator pipes chased in, sorting out the lighting and plug sockets and boarding and plastering the ceiling. But there was enough for a simple console table behind the sofa and a few more framed family photos.
I toyed with the idea of floor to ceiling curtains to make the ceiling seem higher but because of the position of the radiators roman blinds made more sense (curtains would block heat from the room in winter), and to be honest blinds look more contemporary. They are a pale grey felt like material and couple of shades darker than the walls. They just add a little more texture to the room without competing with the sofa.
As an interior designer I believe the relationships we have with our homes are no different to the relationships we have with our partners in some respects. They are rarely perfect, and always involve compromise. At Holly Cottage I traded lack of natural light for space, character and garden. Obviously Mr W is perfect…..as well as a reader of my blog *slaps leg and chuckles at her own wit*
And like our personal relationships, sometimes we neglect them. We get complacent. Treats don’t need to be expensive but we stop making an effort. And if this goes on for too long we forget what we fell in love with and start noticing every flaw. And sadly in both cases this can lead us to Rightmove.
The role of the Interior Designer
An interior designer wears many hats, a fellow interior designer once referred to us as ‘project managers and problem solvers with taste’ which about sums it up. But what a good interior designer can also do is make you fall in love with your home again. We’re like new buyers when we walk into your homes, but the kind that can see potential. That fresh pair of eyes and the ability to see what could be achieved is worth its weight in gold. Mr W would never have bought Holly Cottage if I hadn’t a hissy fit. I know, so unlike me….
And just to blow my own trumpet for a second, I am told I have a hugely infectious positive can-do attitude. You see gloomy 1980’s kitchen….
I see the smart modern shaker style kitchen you’ve dreamed about with space for the downstairs loo you’ve always wanted.
I’m a whirlwind of positive energy that will practically force you to fall in love with your home again. Remember that poky dark guest bedroom you had?
A distant memory since I turned it into a second sitting room overlooking the fields behind your house, with a sofa bed for guests and a new dressing area for you.
If I had a theme tune it would be Take That’s ‘Re-light my fire’. You complain about lack of wardrobe space in your bedroom and can’t see a solution that doesn’t involve swapping your marital kingsize bed for bunk beds…
I suggest we steal 60cm from the room next door and double your hanging space and save your marriage. You see unsurmountable problems. I show you the light at the end of the tunnel.
When I bought Holly Cottage the kitchen lacked storage and worktop space and had this huge void in the centre of the room.
So I built out the chimney breast and knocked a hole in it big enough for a new range cooker and added an island. Well I didn’t personally but you know what I mean.
You see a reason to move.
I show you why you should stay. I’m like Viagra for the house.
Got time for a couple more before and afters?
Go on, one more since you asked so nicely..
So if you’ve fallen out of love with your home and can’t see any way of getting it back don’t despair, get in touch and I’ll help you put the fire back into your relationship.
Amelia Wilson, Interior Designer and Passion Reigniter!
This living room transformation should have been finished in December but a late sofa scuppered our plans. I did show you a few cheeky shots just before Christmas but I thought you might like to see the finished room and get a little more background on how we got there.
The Living Room Challenge
The homeowners called me because working out what to do with their living room was giving them a headache. They hated the decor they’d inherited, particularly the ceiling. I wish I’d taken a close up of those beams to show you the crime committed by the previous owners who had built the place. Basically there are huge steel beams holding up the roof and they had clad them in moulded plaster work stained brown to try and make them look like oak. They had failed. Miserably. To make matters worse they then clad the rest of the ceiling with antique stained pine. Criminal.
They also hated the huge gas fire which obscured the opening in the chimney breast where there had once been an open fire. It’s not clear why the previous owners blocked it up but the soot stains on the chimney breast suggest it hadn’t been vented properly.
They were also struggling with how to furnish a room that’s the size of two living room. They wanted lots of seating for family gatherings, but they couldn’t work out how to position it all. And they didn’t want to make it a living/dining space as they already had a dining area between the living room and the kitchen, which had another ugly ceiling fan and a wrought iron staircase which had to go.
The Living Room Transformation
So if you caught my post before Christmas you’ll know I came up with a plan to create two zones. A grown up area by the new stove for curling up with a glass of wine….
….and a more child friendly area with a squishy rug and a big snuggler chair
As you can see we plastered and painted the ceiling but we came very close to chipping off the plaster and cladding them in wood.
The first test we did with oak veneer failed because we could see the joins when we oiled the wood. The joiner (Kevin Robinson of Curwen Joinery) then came up with another option which was to highlight the joins using Japanese beam joints and then add oak pegs to make it look even more authentic.
We all got a bit excited about this but in the end cost, and not knowing exactly how it was going to look until it was finished, meant we had to go back to their original plan which was to just plaster and paint the ceiling. And to be honest as fabulous as the Japanese beam joints could have looked the ceiling looks pretty good now. Especially with those huge black metal orb lights.
The walls are painted Elk Antler by Valspar and I recommended painting the ceiling the same colour as I felt a huge white ceiling would introduce lines that would interrupt the flow of the space. It’s about the only thing that made this job easier for Mike the decorator (Michael Fulton Professional Painter & Decorator) I also suggested simple plaster wall lights that we could paint so that these would also blend into the background.
Brodie the family pet is very happy with the new layout and the endless seating options he now has. He likes this sofa so he can keep an eye on the front door.
But he also likes his new chaise…..
We ripped out the old staircase which was also too wide, and replaced it with a simple wooden staircase we could paint.
Kevin did a great job reducing the width of the staircase and cladding the stairs with the new laminate floor that we carried through from the hallway.
The dining area didn’t need much after that, just a few pics and some new curtains for the patio doors.
Another delayed delivery meant the new sideboard didn’t feature in my pre-Christmas photos…
…or the gallery walls
So thats a wrap. I’d love to know what you think. This is what the homeowners think….*beams proudly*
“We moved into our home around 2yrs ago and whilst saving to transform it we had to ensure dark wood cladded ceilings and floral carpets. Our living room is 11 metres long and was not a functional room. We were looking at making it more homely and Amelia exceeded all our expectations. We now have the modern country look living room we wanted which is a cosy family space which we are thoroughly enjoying. Everything she picked for the room we loved and she was always in communication with us. She managed the project which involved plasterers, joiners, electricians and decorators and ensured we were complete for Christmas”
“Amelia has just finished the first of a 2 room project for my wife and I. The first room (and the largest) was no mean feat. We knew what style we wanted but were unable to agree on colours, furniture or finishes. Amelia has done an amazing job of translating everything we described to her and we achieved our ‘modern country’ look perfectly. We’ve lived in a scaffolded living room and building site for well over a month in order for Amelia to have the project finished just in time for Xmas. We’ve enjoyed a wonderful Xmas in our new living room and still in awe of the finished article”
The Christmas decorations have come down and the house is looking bare. It’s dark and cold outside. The news is all sad events and depressing politics, and worse still for some of us it’s a dry month. I think we all need a pick me up, and maybe a little sparkle in our lives, so the trend for opulent interiors couldn’t have come at a better time.
Opulence in my own home is something I can only dream about. I have an old house in a very boggy part of the country, half way down what is only one notch up from a dirt track. And I have two dogs. Velvet has no place at Holly Cottage. But that doesn’t stop me from fantasising, and 2017 is about to supply me with a steady stream of luxurious loveliness to covet and
force on present to my customers.
The opulent or luxe look is heavily influenced by 1920’s Art Deco and the fashions of 18th century France,. It’s definitely not a subtle look but you do not want to overdo it and recreate the Palace of Versailles in your living room. Though if you do, please can I come round and take photo’s?
The key to getting it right is by having just one or two statement pieces in the room. Striking items that are well designed, and made with really good quality materials or fabrics.
In the 1990’s everyone fell into one of two camps. If your taps, toilet roll holder and door knobs were gold you were old fashioned. If they were chrome you were fashionable. And choice wise that was it. But over the last couple of years polished, brushed and antiqued versions of gold, silver, bronze and copper (although apparently we call this rose gold now) have found their way into our furniture, lighting and accessories, although frustratingly not so many taps and bathroom fittings – why is that?. So metallics are not a new trend, but there are other elements which have pushed their way to the front pages and home pages of the interiors world, which when combined with existing trends like metallics tip us over from a little bit of luxe to pure opulence.
One of those new elements is velvet, and when it comes to fabric, velvet is the epitome of opulence (try saying that after a few). It’s soft dense pile screams luxury and is incredibly tactile. You literally cannot take your hands off it. I challenge you, try and walk past a velvet sofa without copping a feel. Bet you can’t.
It used to be made from silk and was expensive to produce, which is why it was associated with the rich. But thanks to the use of cotton and synthetics and new manufacturing techniques even us paupers can afford it. So if you want to be bang on trend in 2017 then buy a velvet sofa. If I could have velvet at Holly Cottage then I think I’d have the Crumpet sofa from Loaf in burnt orange. I love the shape and the name, and I wouldn’t need to change my curtains – bingo.
I’ve been trying to find a home for this emerald green IKEA sofa since I spotted it 2 years ago. Maybe now I’ll be able to find a place for it……It has removable covers and is only £1,000 which for a large velvet sofa is a bit of billy bargain.
But if you’re not ready to change your sofa then buy a velvet chair, or really make a statement with two in different colours.
Or take the opulence into the bedroom with a large velvet headboard (it must be large) or better still an upholstered bed.
Now you may have noticed a bit of a colour theme with all the images I’ve been showing you. If you really want to nail the 2017 opulent interiors look then make sure the colour of your statement piece is emerald, sapphire, ruby, amethyst, topaz, turquoise or any other colour associated with jewels. Or use these colours to accessorise.
Now for those of you that have only just moved from magnolia to pale grey and are a bit “thats quite dark enough for me thank you very much” then this isn’t an essential component in opulent interiors. BUT metallics, velvets and jewel colours do look amazing against dark walls. So if you’re going for the look, why not go the whole hog.
I just love these emerald greens against these dark grey walls….just lush.
So what do you think, is there room in your home for a little opulence?
It’s been a hectic year for Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd, aka me. My version of the Twelve Days of Christmas would go something like ‘6 living rooms, 5 bathrooms, 4 bedrooms, 3 kitchens, 1 dressing room, 1 dining room, 1 hallway, a pub, a showroom, a shop and an office. Good job I wasn’t approached by a partridge in a pear tree as I’d have had to turn it down.
I’ve been so busy I haven’t even had time to properly photograph finished projects to show you lovely people. I know I know the before and afters are the best bit. We all love howling at how ugly the old carpet/wallpaper/sofa was don’t we. So I promise to pull my finger out in the New Year….*adds another item to list of New Years resolutions after stop eating so much and start running again*
So although the room I’m about to show you was still missing a sofa and a sideboard when I left on Wednesday, and the pictures and gallery wall will go up in January I’m going to show you some pics anyway ‘cos it’s Christmas, it’s fabulous and it’s the largest single room I’ve ever decorated – I’ve got friends in London with smaller flats. So without further ado I present to you – the Ginormous Living Room.
Now before you start pointing fingers NONE of this was furnished or decorated by the homeowners. They inherited the whole kit and caboodle from the previous owners and have been saving since they bought the property so they could change everything. The challenge though was what to do with such a big room.
The good news was that the homeowners knew the look they wanted, which I call ‘modern country’. And that doesn’t mean Taylor Swift, it’s more about mixing traditionally rustic features with modern elements. You’ll see what I mean if I show you the plans. It took two moodboards the room is so big….
The newly decorated Ginormous Living Room
Now before I show you anything, please excuse the amateur iPhone photography, the sun kept streaming through the windows (what’s all that about in Cumbria in bloody December), so I’ve had to edit the pics to get rid of the glare. Please also avert your eyes from the rubbish outside which we haven’t had time to shift. Sorry, I’ll stop apologising and just get on with it – ta da!
Totally different room right? Bye bye ugly fake beams, antique pine clad ceiling and wrought iron staircase (we don’t even need to mention the carpet do we…). Hello beautiful, and relaxing but elegant living room.
That chimney was just crying out for a stove wasn’t it?
So I’ve given the room two zones – and this is the grown up’s bit for a glass of wine after the little’un is in bed and when they have friends round.
The plan was to paint the lower half of that coffee table in Farrow & Ball Rectory Red, and we might still.
I think the new lighting is my favourite bit.
So this is where the second couch (leather BTW) will go when it arrives. They did promise before Christmas so they still have 24hrs but I’m not holding my breath….
…and this is where the sideboard now sits in the more child friendly zone, i.e. wipe clean sofa, washable covers on the armchair and a very fluffy rug for floor play time. Now that the sideboard has arrived I can work out how big the gallery wall we have planned needs to be. I love that snuggler chair and footstool from IKEA, it’s a perfect match for the Laura Ashley plaid sofa isn’t it?
And just when you thought the room couldn’t get any bigger it wraps around into the dining room (the kitchen is to the left). I wish now I’d taken a decent pic of the new staircase that fabulous joiner Kevin Robinson supplied and fitted, but you’ll see it when I do the final photographs.
So it brought a few challenges – that high ceiling being one for the plasterers, decorator and electrician, and getting the layout right. But what a transformation eh?. I’m chuffed to bits with the result, and I must confess have a little bit of house envy.
Would love to know what you think?
This is one of the hardest posts I’ve ever written. Why’s that you’re thinking? Ugly living room? Difficult brief? Client confidentiality? Far more mundane I’m afraid. A tree branch poked me in the eye when I was out walking the dog and I had to go to the hospital when the chemist refused to sell me eye drops without getting it checked out. Admittedly I did look like a wino with my weeping bloodshot eye. Anyway, its just a minor scratch which should heal in a few days but in the meantime I am partially sighted which makes typing tricky, driving a no no, and chopping garlic equally hazardous as I learnt earlier (almost another trip to A&E…). But it’s been a few weeks since my last post and I really wanted to show you a project I just finished so here I am typing away, just ignore any typos and blurry photos and the earlier version that was posted in error. I’m working with a real handicap here people!
Now admit it, when you hear someone has used an interior designer you probably assume they’ve got plenty of money and are undertaking some big remodeling or redecoration project. And if I told you this customer didn’t want to change the carpet, furniture or lighting or paint the walls you’d be wondering how on earth I was going to make a difference. Well be prepared to be impressed. I’m about to show you that you can still make a big difference without any major changes.
So this project started out as a cry for help. OK I’m dramatising. The homeowner has a huge bay window and asked me to come round and give her some ideas as she didn’t know what to do with it. That led on to a bit of a living room refresh. So lets start with a few before images:
Shall we start with that bay window?
You should NEVER block the flow of natural light into a room. Window treatments should frame the window not cover it. This bay is very deep and there is no gap above the window panes so Roman blinds running round the edge were the best way to add colour and texture without hiding too much of the window. We could have used roller blinds but I felt they would have been too minimal. The blinds needed to be made to measure and it’s a big bay so it wasn’t going to be cheap but I use a very talented and reasonably priced lady called Di (Di’s Soft Furnishings). She also came to measure up as I was worried about allowing for protruding handles and the corners. Windows can give me sleepless nights worrying whether I’ve measured accurately….
The homeowner had seen some fabric in Next that she quite liked which had a floral pattern in yellow, ochre, grey and light brown. The brown tied it to the sofas and carpet which meant I could carry the ochre around the room to bring warmth, with some grey accents to add definition.
So we had the central blind made up in the patterned fabric and used a light grey fabric from Laura Ashley for the four other blinds.
We decided that seating was the way to go in that big space, but not permanent so there would still be a home for the Christmas tree. One of my objectives in any project is to achieve savings that as a minimum cover my fees. I’d already saved the homeowner £30 by using a 30% discount voucher I had for the fabric from Laura Ashley, but the furniture was where I made the big saving. The other furniture in the room is solid pine and from Next. They do a matching bench seat for £250 but no table. I found a solid oak Julian Bowen table with matching benches online for £205 including delivery. We got Di to make seat pads in an ochre fabric and used the left over blind fabric for a table runner. It fits perfectly, and the seat pads and runner carry the colours into the room. Immediately the space has a purpose.
This homeowner loves cushions but like most people tends to buy in pairs. Now thats ok when you only have two cushions in the room but not when you’ve got two big couches to fill.
The art to cushion scattering (and it is an art) is to keep the same colour palette but buy a mix of sizes and patterns. Remember to leave enough space to sit down though….
The living room rug
What this room needed more than anything was a rug to break up all that dark brown. And it needed to be big enough to fill the space between the couches. Nothing worse than a tiny rug in a big room, it just looks like you can’t afford the size you really wanted. I found this bargain in Dunelm. Perfect size, perfect colour and floral pattern and even better reduced from £120 to £60 – a billy bargain.
Sorry about the dark image but can you see how it fills that space and breaks up the brown? Now we’re talking.
Big spaces require either big pictures or collections. I was lucky to find a winner for above the sofa very quickly, but it was in the must unlikely of places at a ridiculously bargain price so I showed it to the customer first to get her reaction before I told her where it was from…..
Could that print match the room any better? Right pattern, same colour palette and some black to add definition. It was such a find we’re pretending she doesn’t know where it’s from so she can say (in a posh voice) “isn’t it fabulous, my interior designer picked it up somewhere”. If you want to know where it’s from message me…..
We added this one from Next (£25) above the telly. Normally hiding the telly is my goal but moving it wasn’t a option and there was a big empty space above it so we needed a picture.
Continuing the floral theme, we added these two from Etsy to the other side of the fireplace, using black frames from Wilko to give them more definition.
So nearly done people. I didn’t go mad with the accessories as I wanted to keep it simple but elegant. So I focused on glass using a mixture of clear, ochre and smoked grey.
Lighting wasn’t in the brief, but I wouldn’t have been doing my job if I didn’t suggest something optional. And these smoked grey glass table lamps and matching ceiling pendant would look perfect. I suspect they may find their way into the room at some point….
So what do you think?
My main objective in any project is to make the customer happy and judging by the review she gave me on Houzz I think I ticked that box too.
“Amelia helped to transform our living room – its now a completely different room!! She has made such a difference. I had a big bay window with which I simply did not know what to do. She came up with some great ideas, was totally open to discussion, was helpful, reliable and a pleasure to work with. I am so pleased I made contact with her – I would happily recommend her to anyone looking for fresh eyes, opinions and ideas. She kept to budge (in fact came in below budget) – even found us a few bargains. Will definitely ask her back to work on other rooms within my home. I am really happy with everything she has done for us. Thanks so much”
Customer review on Houzz.
Happy Easter everyone.
Central heating alert – Autumn has arrived in Cumbria! I’m not complaining though. I’m actually one of the few Brits that doesn’t complain about our weather. I love our climate, our seasons and the unpredictability of our weather. Few places in the world offer this much variety without the extreme. We get sun, wind, rain and snow, but we don’t get forest fires, tornadoes, hurricanes and arctic blizzards. At least not yet; if we keep damaging the planet it might not be long before polar bears are eating my chickens.
And I love autumn. It’s when Cumbria is at its most beautiful. Our high rainfall makes for a lush county and when autumn comes the change from green to a thousand shades of red, orange, brown and gold is breathtaking. This blaze of colour was the inspiration for my living room, and this month it’s popping up in all the interiors shops and magazines.
When we viewed our house the living room had a cream carpet (ridiculous in a rural location), an ugly off centre ceiling pendant (the ceiling is only just above the average head height), wall lights in random locations, plug sockets half way up the walls, gloss painted beams and a hideous gas fire. And that was just the living room. Mr W was positively disinterested but I could see the potential and used my powers of persuasion (I pouted and sulked) to convince him we should buy it. So we did.
Since then we’ve changed the carpet to oak flooring. We’ve replaced the lighting with recessed spots, over picture lights and a table lamp and relocated the plug sockets. We had the beams restored and removed the gas fire to find the original sandstone fireplace and bread oven (flashback to me being delighted and outraged at the same time), which we also restored. The previous owners wouldn’t recognise it.
I spent months looking for fabric in the right shades of burnt orange, red and green, but once I had everything else just followed.
Glassware in autumn shades from Tesco Home
Now if you’re sat there thinking “well I don’t live in a cottage or barn so the autumn look won’t work for me” then think again. This isn’t a purely rustic look, its all about warm autumnal colours and texture. Oak flooring and a wood burning stove are not mandatory. This green sofa from Loaf with the burnt orange cushions adds warmth to this otherwise neutral scheme and not a log basket in sight.
And this isn’t a one season wonder which will need changing after you’ve taken your Christmas tree to the tip. Throw in some spring or summer blooms and you’ll see burnt orange in a whole new light, I mean how fab does it looks against dark walls……
And autumn colours make great accent colours in a neutral room. I know this room looks like its just missing a halloween pumpkin but you’ve got to admit the orange and gold looks great against the cream.
Laura Ashley have clearly fall-en (I had to get that in somewhere…) for the autumn look with their range of copper and green velvet cushions. I also love this burnt orange leaf motif cushion from Dunelm.
I love a good throw and there are umpteen around at the moment in shades of burnt orange, red and green but I really like this multicoloured one from Next.
There are also plenty of autumnal accessories in the shops too, like this glassware from Next.
So don’t feel disheartened if you don’t have an open fire and a plaid wing back chair, autumn isn’t just for country folk, anyone can get the look whatever their pad or budget.
Don’t worry this post isn’t about finding the perfect Christmas tree, it’s way too early for that kind of shenanigans. I hate festive talk before December 1st, and have already berated my Retail employed friends for sharing details of their Christmas ranges when I’m still trying to find a bikini that can miraculously reduce me from a size 12 (….ok 14) to a size 10 (totally happy with 12..). But on the basis I’ve had conversations with two customers this month about this very issue I feel compelled to discuss it now.
September seems to be a popular time to redecorate your living room, perhaps prompted by all the annoying DFS adverts promising to deliver your sofa by Christmas if you order RIGHT NOW! A common mistake many homeowners make when decorating their living rooms is not allowing for the Christmas tree. Now I’m not talking about having a empty space for 49 weeks of the year but it does require a plan that won’t obscure 50% of the TV screen or leave no space for emergency chairs. Here are a few suggestions about how to incorporate your tree so it looks like it was always meant to be there.
Tip 1: If buying a new sofa and armchairs, consider how often your armchairs would be sat in. Could you replace one or more of your armchairs with accent chairs which are smaller and could be relocated to another part of the house more easily. I recently paired this sofa with these chairs for a customer so that she has more room and a place for the Christmas tree.
Tip 2: If you’re planning a scheme that includes side tables and table lamps consider if one of them could be replaced by the tree at Christmas. The table and lamp could be moved to the garage or loft for a few weeks, and if you add enough lights to the tree your room won’t be any darker. Last year I also bought light up boxes like these for the foot for the tree.
Tip 3: Buy a narrow tree. It seems the manufacturers of artificial trees have finally realised that the average living room isn’t big enough for something 6ft tall and 4ft wide. I have an alcove next to my fireplace that is only 70cm wide and usually houses a log basket. But for 3 weeks of the year it is home to a tall narrow artificial tree which fits perfectly and looks very realistic . I was so pleased with it I actually bought two more so I can have a tree in the TV room and another in the summer house (its actually a year round garden room thanks to the log burner). Yes, I might get huffy about festive talk in November but on 1st December I become Mrs Claus and Holly Cottage turns into a Lapland grotto…
4. Think outside the box. I’m not going to suggest replacing your tree with some twigs in a vase hung with baubles that’s just a teeny weeny bit sad, but if you’re really stuck for space what about a wall sticker? No need to worry about it being behind a door, or too near the sofa. The cat can’t climb it and it’s a lot easier to remove on 12th night. This one from John Lewis is 100cm x 76cm. It might be £55 but by the time you’ve bought a tree, some new decorations that you didn’t need but were too cute to leave in the shop and some replacement lights because last years don’t work any more you’d have spent at least that.
Right that’s enough Christmas chat, I’m starting to twitch.