Category Archives: Living room

House Viagra

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*

Interior Designer: Holly Cottage Asby Georgian cottage built in 1756

Holly Cottage

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….

Before and after images Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd Interior Designer

The workshop that was attached to our home when we bought it

Before and after images from Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

The wet room which is now accessed through the house. I kept the external door so we can access it from the garden when we have muddy dogs and BBQ’s

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….

Before and after images for a kitchen makeover by Amelia Wilson Interior Designer

Before image of from one of my first projects

I see the smart modern shaker style kitchen you’ve dreamed about with space for the downstairs loo you’ve always wanted.

Before and after images from kitchen makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd Interior Designer

The homeowners new kitchen with utility area and downstairs cloakroom

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?

Before and after images from bedroom makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

Poky dark guest bedroom I was asked to update

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.

Before and after images from bedroom makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

New guest bedroom

Before and after images from bedroom makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

The dressing room area

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…

Before and after images from bedroom makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

Cramped corner wardrobes in an early bedroom project

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.

Before and after images from bedroom makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

New wardrobes

When I bought Holly Cottage the kitchen lacked storage and worktop space and had this huge void in the centre of the room.

Before and after images from kitchen makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

The kitchen when I bought Holly Cottage

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.

Striking inframe shaker kitchen in Farrow & Ball Rectory Red and Ringwold Ground by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

My pride and joy the new kitchen at Holly Cottage, very on-trend now with it’s bold Rectory Red cupboard doors.

You see a reason to move.

Before and after images from a bathroom makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

Dated bathroom with poky leaking shower

I show you why you should stay. I’m like Viagra for the house.

Monochrome bathroom with black and white metro tiles and hexagonal mosaic floor tiles by Amelia Wilson Interior Designer

Beautiful new monochrome bathroom – try and ignore the wonky shower head, I was still learning about room styling and I didn’t notice this when I took the picture!

Got time for a couple more before and afters?

Before and after images from living room makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

Tired living room

Before and after images from living room makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

Elegant lounge after a little Amelia Wilson attention

Go on, one more since you asked so nicely..

Before and after images from bedroom makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

Bedroom in desperate need of some TLC

Glamorous pink gold and black bedroom after makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

Glamorous crash pad for its glamorous owner

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!

 

 

The Ginormous Living Room Transformation

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.

Living room transformation

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.

Living room transformation

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.

Living room transformation

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….

Living room transformation

….and a more child friendly area with a squishy rug and a big snuggler chair

Living room transformation

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.

Living room transformation

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.

Living room transformation

Traditional Japanese beam joints

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.

Living room transformation

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.

Living room transformation

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.

Living room transformation

But he also likes his new chaise…..

Living room transformation

We ripped out the old staircase which was also too wide, and replaced it with a simple wooden staircase we could paint.

Living room transformation

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.

Living room transformation

The dining area didn’t need much after that, just a few pics and some new curtains for the patio doors.

Living room transformation

Another delayed delivery meant the new sideboard didn’t feature in my pre-Christmas photos…

Living room transformation

…or the gallery walls

Living room transformation

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”

Opulent Interiors

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

Opulent interiors luxurious living room and dining room

Image via Nathalie Priem Photography

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

Opulent interiors - the Fendi boutique hotel in Rome

Palazzo Fendi in Rome – image via KOKET

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

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

Opulent interiors - Furia Odyssey blue velvet sofa and velvet ottoman

Furia Odyssey blue velvet sofa – image via John Lewis

Metallics

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

Opulent interiors - gold metallic finishes in a luxurious dining room

Image via John Lewis

Velvet

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

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

Opulent interiors - burnt orange velvet sofa from loaf

Crumpet sofa from Loaf – image via Real Homes

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

Opulent interiors - emerald green velvet sofa from IKEA

Emerald green Stockholm sofa £1,000 from IKEA

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

Opulent interiors - Penelope velvet armchairs from sofa.com

Penelope velvet armchairs from sofa.com

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

Opulent interiors - plush plum velvet upholstered bed

Image via Houzz

Precious gems

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

Opulent interiors - velvet upholstery fabric from Sanderson in jewel colours

Boho Velvet fabrics from Sanderson

Dark walls

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

Opulent interiors - plum and gold velvet against teal walls

Image via Houzz

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

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

Image via Houzz

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

 

 

 

 

The Ginormous Living Room

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

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

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

The Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

 The Plan

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

Moodboard for living room project created by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Moodboard for living room project created by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The newly decorated Ginormous Living Room

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think the new lighting is my favourite bit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would love to know what you think?

The Living room refresh – small changes, big impact

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:

Living room - Large bay window

The huge bay window. Perfect for the Xmas tree but a little empty and uninspiring for the other 344 days of the year.

Living room before images for Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Magnolia walls, chocolate brown carpet and leather sofas with purple accent cushions and artwork – all a little dark

Living room before images from Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

A classic simple fireplace but a mish mash of accessories and bare walls

Shall we start with that bay window?

Window Dressing

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.

Mood board for living room refresh by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

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.

Roman blinds using Watercolour Bloom fabric from Next and Dove Grey fabric from Laura Ashley

Furniture

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.

Living room - Julian Bowen table and chairs bought online

Cushion scattering

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.

Before image in living room refresh project by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The existing cushions……

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….

Living room - The art of cushion scattering by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

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.

Ochre floral rug from Dunelm

Sorry about the dark image but can you see how it fills that space and breaks up the brown? Now we’re talking.

Living room refresh by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Artwork

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…..

Living room - Floral print for £10 from B&M Bargains

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.

Living room - Foil floral canvas from Next

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.

Living room refresh - Art prints from Etsy, frames from Wilko

Accessories

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.

Yellow glass vase from Oxfam with artificial flower

Glass vase £1.25 from Oxfam with yellow artificial flowers and pussy willow stems

Smoked grey glass vases, £10 each from Homesense

Smoked grey glass vases, £10 each from Homesense. The Jo Malone candle was a Christmas present.

Simple hurricane lanterns on the hearth and smoked grey glass tealights on the mantelpiece, all from Dunelm

Simple hurricane lanterns on the hearth and smoked grey glass tealights on the mantelpiece, all from Dunelm

Living room - Another candle on the side table to sit with the existing lantern and Jo Malone candle

Another candle on the side table to sit with the existing lantern and Jo Malone candle

Lighting

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….

Living room - Smoked grey glass ceiling pendant from Dunelm

Smoked grey glass ceiling pendant from Dunelm

Living room - Smoked grey glass table lamps from Dunelm

Smoked grey glass table lamps from Dunelm

So what do you think?

Living room refresh by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Living room refresh by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Living room refresh by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

 

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.

Autumn – a look for life not just the season

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

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

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

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

Rustic living room in autumn shades

My Autumn inspired living room

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

Burnt orange, green and plaid moon wool fabrics

Wool fabrics from Moon

Persian rug in rustic living room

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

Autumn accessories in rustic living room

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

Glassware in autumn colours

Glassware in autumn shades from Tesco Home

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

Pudding sofa in Willow from Loaf

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

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

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

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

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

Burnt orange accent colours in neutral living room

Pinterest

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

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

Velvet cushions from Laura Ashley and leaf boudoir cushion from Dunelm

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

Multicoloured throw from Next

Multicoloured throw from Next

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

Vase from Next     Vase from Next     Vase from Next

Glassware from Next

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

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Pudding sofa in burnt orange from Loaf

The Christmas Tree Conundrum

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.

Alexis large two-seater sofa from Multiyork

Alexis sofa from Multiyork

Lille chair in Oatmeal from Swoon Editions

Lille chair in Oatmeal from Swoon Editions

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.

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These are available on Amazon if your local garden centre doesn’t stock them

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…

Narrow artificial Christmas tree

Most garden centres and retailers now include slimmer trees in their range

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.

Gold Christmas tree wall sticker from John Lewis

Gold Christmas tree wall sticker from John Lewis

Right that’s enough Christmas chat, I’m starting to twitch.