Interior design is not the cushion scattering, accessorising, walk around IKEA I’m sure some people think it is. There are definite highs and lows. Lows being the early Monday morning site visits, dealing with difficult suppliers when you need to return faulty goods, and tracking down trades that have gone AWOL. Seriously sometimes I feel like the worlds biggest nag when I have to ask for the millionth time that week, “When will you be there? And what time roughly?” But the highs definitely make up for it, and my favourite high has to be when I get to show people before and afters of my projects. So are you ready for part III of this Victorian terrace renovation project? Continue reading “Future Proofing in Interior Design – Part III”
The owner of this Georgian bedroom, well part owner, is a writer of romantic fiction. Which is compelling me to make my writing style a little more poetic than usual. We finished her master bedroom last year and now have some very dramatic before and afters to show you. So brace yourself for a slightly steamy ‘tongue in cheek’ literary themed post. Hell I might even throw in a few phrases and adjectives more suited to a Mills & Boon novel. Well why not it’s got your interest hasn’t it?
Flashback to the master bedroom of a beautiful old Georgian farm cottage in the wilds of West Cumbria. It was a little neglected, and (due to lack of storage space) more dishevelled than the farmers daughter after a tumble in the hay with the young farm hand. Quite frankly a tall dark handsome stranger could have lurked mysteriously in a corner for quite some time before being noticed such was the homeowners need for hanging space…..
Our heroine a romance novelist and hardworking mother of two longed for a beautiful bedroom. One without woodchip wallpaper and worn carpet, and perhaps, dare she dream fitted wardrobes and even some decent lighting. But where to start?
Her husband, a public servant with smouldering good looks (you’re very welcome Ian), also dreamt of a place with plentiful hanging space. But he had his hands full with other important stuff. And so the days came and went and their bedroom remained cluttered.
Then one day our heroine was driving down a winding country lane. The rain pounded against the windows and the wind buffeted her little car from side to side between the hedgerows. As she turned into the village she heard an advert on the radio for Amelia Wilson, an interior designer and project manager. Misty eyed she looked into the rear view mirror and clutching her ample bosom with one hand (remember she’s driving) she asked herself, could this be the answer to my prayers? Is there really a person out there who could turn my dreams into reality and organise all the work? Quickly, before she rear ended the tractor in front of her, our heroine returned her eyes to the road (and her hand to the wheel) and drove home, where she immediately sat down and googled Amelia.
Well that is after she had unpacked the shopping, made tea, bathed and put the kids to bed and done two loads of washing.
Fast forward two weeks and our heroine and designer meet and the designer goes away to form a plan for a Georgian bedroom. Finding inspiration in the heroines treasured bedspread she decides on a colour scheme of sage green and ivory with accents of royal blue. There would be a mixture of antique and newer pieces of furniture, with some subtle florals and vintage accessories. The focal point however would be the new fitted wardrobes, wardrobes fit for a king. The designer returns and shows the plan to the heroine and her dashing husband. They make one child friendly modification (no cloches….), and remove the botanical prints in order to appease the dashing husband, and then agree to get started.
They all agreed that a Georgian bedroom required Georgian style wardrobes…. Enter our knight in shining armour Kevin with his trusty squire Dean. Together in a very manly way with lots of sweat and power tools they rip out the existing cupboard and install custom made wall to wall wardrobes with Georgian style panelled doors and ornate plinths and cornice. The wardrobes are broken up by two large bookcases providing a home for our heroines many books, and have cleverly concealed storage space behind them. Perfect for hiding the childrens Christmas presents.
And they didn’t stop there, Kevin also made Georgian style panels to match the wardrobe doors for either side of the window, replacing what would have been there originally, and restrung the sash windows so they glided open once more.
Cue dramatic music as Sandy the electrician arrives on the scene…..Disaster has struck. The antique bag chandelier which has come all the way from France needs re-wiring, despite the Etsy seller telling the designer that it would be wired for use in the UK. But Sandy is also a knight in shining armour and just rewires it. Problem solved.
But the plot thickens, Kevin and Sandy aren’t the only knights competing for ‘best tradesman in West Cumbria’. Enter Michael Fulton Professional Painter & Decorator. He comes up with an ingenious solution to the woodchip in our heroines bedroom. He sees no need to strip *pause for effect* He avoids costly plastering and copious amounts of dust by lining the walls with thick lining paper. Leaving the walls as smooth as a young maidens skin and ready for painting. And paint them he does, along with the ceiling, wardrobes, windows and the antique pine coloured bed.
While all this is happening the heroines new bedroom chair arrives. The box it comes in is so big the dashing husband rolls up his sleeves and with the aid of scissors and packing tape turns it into a playhouse, earning himself and our heroine a much needed break while their young children entertain themselves with their new toy.
Last to arrive on the scene are the fitters from Tony Roberts Carpets Direct. After much sucking of teeth at the weight of the enormous carpet and the bed which could not be moved out of the bedroom they lay the new underlay and carpet.
Then in a last minute twist Kevin has to return to fit the curtain pole and hang the mirror. For as dashing as our heroines husband is he does not posses the tools (nor the patience I suspect) to get screws to stay in the thick stone walls of their Georgian cottage. So Kevin arrives, he fits, he hangs, and he leaves and suddenly the house is quiet……
The curtains have been hung, the lamps lit, all their clothes have been unpacked and put away in the new wardrobes, and books have been placed on the bookshelves. The Georgian bedroom is finished.
And it is beautiful.
The wall colour is Muted Sage by Dulux. We used Dulux Endurance which is scrubbable so it doesn’t matter if our heroines little cherubs draw on the walls…. The woodwork has been painted an off-white called Wild Mushroom by Valspar. Both colours work beautifully with our heroines treasured bedspread.
The new wardrobes are a triumph. The door handles were salvaged from their old dresser before it was taken away and inside there is hanging space galore, shelves for folded items and storage baskets for smalls. Full length mirrors line the centre doors and as our heroine has never had a full length mirror in this room she is beside herself with joy.
They have a new antique bedding box, sourced from an Aladdin’s cave of antique and vintage treasure in Manchester and just given a good clean and polish.
The newly re-wired antique bag chandelier casts sparkly light all over the bedroom and adds a touch of glamour.
….and they have a new pair of antique brass touch lamps on their nightstands. Apparently touch lights are a godsend when a child shouts for you in the middle of the night – no fumbling around looking for the switch. Notice how the radiator has been painted to blend in to the walls?
And yes I know the bedsides don’t match. Where’s the rule that says they need to? The husband liked his old one and I sourced a secondhand one for our heroine. Everyone’s happy.
The utterly gorgeous blue velvet chair is the only ‘new’ piece of furniture and is from Atkin & Thyme. Unfortunately the cats are fans too… The floor lamp and side table are more of my antique finds and the green floral curtains are a Dunelm bargain which we had shortened. Just look at that lovely new panelling around the windows, you’d think it was original.
They already had the antique bureau, and the vintage mirror and wash bowl and pitcher set were charity shop finds. But I’ll let you in to a little styling secret. The bowl and pitcher set used to live on my bedroom windowsill and only came along as a prop for the photographs, but the heroine fell in love with them so I left them behind. I’m good like that.
So our story has come to an end and all that is left to tell you is that our heroine and her dashing husband love their beautiful new boudoir, with its relaxing colour scheme, bountiful storage, and acres of clutter free floor space. The only ones pouting now are the cats as I’ve taken away all their hiding places. But other than that they all lived happily ever after.
Last week when I wasn’t checking on my sick chicken (Margo this time) or maintaining my flood defences (more on that later) I was thinking about wardrobe space, because my customer decided she trusts me enough to design the interior of her new fitted wardrobes without her input. Talk about pressure. As a former clothes and shoe junkie I am well qualified for the task but I get this wrong and she’ll never forgive me, and neither will her husband because it will be him that suffers. Everyone knows the whole equal partnership thing goes out of the window when it comes to clothes space. The wife automatically gets 70% – its practically the law.
I have asked them about their clothes, (amount hung versus folded, number of long coats or dresses etc.), but I’m expecting wild inaccuracies in their answers. Women always say not that much, and the men immediately disagree. Everyone forgets how many coats they own as most are seasonal purchases, never mind the new holiday clothes we buy each year. Men are worse than women at acknowledging how many pairs of shoes they own. Mr W must have at least 5 pairs of brown casual shoes which all look identical to me, 2-3 pairs of work shoes, at least 2 pairs of boots, 3-4 pairs of trainers, plus walking and cycling shoes. The list goes on…but if you ask him he will say he has 6 pairs. So I asked the clothes questions but also probed about the activities they pursue, and rummaged in their current wardrobes! So if you ever find yourself in my position or want to design your own space here are my tips:
1. Start with the hanging space. Limit the amount of full height hanging space to what you think they need and then double up everywhere else. I’d always recommend side mounted rails. It doesn’t matter how well lit your wardrobe is you can never see what’s at the back, and if you’re like me, if you can’t see it you forget you have it. If I’m honest I also don’t quite understand the point of the rails you pull down with a hook, unless you are really short or have mobility issues. All the images I’ve ever seen of them feature average height agile looking women, its a mystery to me….
2. Unless you’re stuck in the 80’s and still wearing shoulder pads, cropped tops and bolero jackets you need a minimum depth of 600mm and at least 1050mm height, including 50-100mm above the rail so you can get hangers on and off easily.
3. Next think about shoes; work wear, evening wear, casual wear, summer sandals, winter boots and sports shoes. Unless your house will always be 100% female use mens shoes to calculate your requirements. The average mens shoes are approx. 240mm wide and 300mm long (if you live with a giant measure their shoes…). So in a wardrobe 750mm wide and 600 deep you could get 6 pairs on a flat side mounted pull out rack. If you have a small footwear collection or a walk in closet the back-lit cubby holes look great but they take up a lot of space. Bookshelf type arrangements are great if you’ve got a narrow hallway, shallow alcove, or room behind a door. You can also put these on the inside of your wardrobe doors if you deep wardrobe space (add 300mm onto the 600mm min depth) If you’re Imelda Marcos you might want to consider the multiple tier pull out racks, or the racks with poles you hang your shoes on.
4. Next is shelf space. This will differ based on the climate you live in. Obviously folded knitwear takes up a hell of a lot more room than t-shirts and vests. If you are going for boxes then they need to be at least 300mm by 300mm each. If you go for open shelves then calculate the width based on multiples of 300mm so you don’t have dead space you can’t use. I went for 600mm deep shelves in my own wardrobes so that I can rotate my folded clothes based on weather.
5. Drawers are also an option for folded clothes, but are essential if you need to store underwear in your wardrobes. For drawers I would go wider and deeper than shelves. We may start with the best intentions but most people are not neat freaks and simply stuff our underwear and socks in our drawers. If you’re going to be rummaging anyway no point wasting space on too many dividers. I would also recommend solid versus wire baskets which can look untidy.
6. There seems to have been a boom in accessories in the last 5 years, and I would wager that most men and women have a healthy selection these days which could include hats, belts, scarves, gloves, ties and you may even need to find a solution for costume jewellery. There are lots of rack solutions available online, including pull out and over door. Hat boxes are only really necessary if you’re a fan of Ascot or fascinators!
7. If you’re an early riser and your partner isn’t. I would highly recommend lighting if you don’t want to wind up single. Mr W went through a stint of taking 5am flights and started leaving his clothes in another room to avoid the abuse I would give him for turning on lights. Spot lights can work but only if the space below is uninterrupted. If you have a wide space then strip lighting can be better than spots. Personally I think the best thing for wardrobes are the flexible strips of LED lights you can now get. They’re relatively cheap (£5 or £6 a meter) and your electrician can cut them to fit. They also come in a range of colours if you’re so inclined.
In the end I wasn’t brave enough to give the joiner the designs without my customer seeing them (probably room for a chicken pun there), but she loved them so we’re good to go and I can go back to checking on Margo. For the last week she has barely left the coop and I’m having to put her on the perch with the others every night. I’m starting to think she’s being picked (pecked?) on when I’m not there and am considering installing a chicken cam…..As for maintaining flood defences I think I’ll get this week off as the rain has turned to snow so hopefully my streams will freeze instead of overflowing every day. My business cards should say Interior Designer, Chicken Whisperer and Drain Doctor.