Come dine with me

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

Contemporary dining room in Paris by ALFA

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

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

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

Cosy dining room with vintage church furniture by Amelia Wilson Interiors

My trapezium shaped exceptionally bijou dining room

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

Dramatic red dining room by Contemporary Gem

Dramatic red dining room by Contemporary Gem, image via Houzz

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

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

Dark grey dining room by Heather Garrett Design

Dining room by Heather Garrett Design, image via Houzz

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

Contemporary dining room with 16 seater glass table

Contemporary dining room with table for 16 – lucky buggers

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

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

Dark grey living room with navy blue velvet chairs

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

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

Scandinavian style dining room

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

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

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

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

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

Traditional dining room by CRISP Architects, image via Houzz

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

Boutique on a budget

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

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

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

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

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

Interval from the Albany Performance Wallpaper Collection

Interval from the Albany Performance Wallpaper Collection. Image via Houzz

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

Chorus Line from the Albany Performance Wallpaper Collection

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

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

Geisha from the Albany Performance Wallpaper Collection

Geisha from the Albany Performance Wallpaper Collection. Image via Houzz

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

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

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

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

Whisper by Arthouse wallpapers available at wallpaper direct.com

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

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

Gallery wall painted in Evening Coat by Valspar

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

Gold retro hostess gin trolley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_0266

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

Kitchen Mystery No. 3 – Kitchen Stools

Sorry it’s been a few weeks since my last post but I’ve got that rather nice problem of lots of work right now. I’ve got a few projects in implementation, including The Swan Inn, which is really starting to take shape. I’ve been pillaging the local charity shops for accessories and dragged Mr W in there last night so he can see work in progress. Well I say dragged….  It was quite entertaining actually, I was like a mystery shopper quizzing all the regulars about what they thought of the changes without telling them I was the designer. Thankfully feedback was good or it might would have ruined my night.. us designers are sensitive about our work you know.

I’ve also got three new design jobs on including a Victorian terrace, a Georgian farm cottage and an already very elegant stone townhouse. And if that wasn’t enough to keep me busy I’m taking a stand at the Lakes Hospitality Association trade show next week. To say the plan for my stand is ambitious is an understatement. It’s been like the Great Interior Design challenge at Holly Cottage, what with me making lampshades and hunting for accessories on eBay (including the fabulous hostess trolley below). Mr W has been painting furniture, papering plywood boards and fixing picture frames all week. Not sure what I’d have done if he hadn’t become my house husband retired.

Gold hostess trolley

We also had some friends stay last week who were on route to Black Sail youth hostel (possibly the most isolated hostel in the country, but great walking and spectacular views).  One of them has been running an amusing series of posts on Facebook entitled ‘Kitchen Mysteries’.

Kitchen Mystery No 1 – Tupperware

Why can you never find the matching lid for the plastic container you want to use? (Check out how organised she is tho, you open my tupperware cupboard and everything falls out).

Kitchen mystery number 1 - why no lids for the tuppaware

Kitchen Mystery No. 2 – Herbs & Spices

Why is it that you can have a cupboard full of herbs and spices but never the ones you need for the recipe you want to cook? (Again, very organised, but she did used to work for Ikea and I think they make you take a course on storage).

Kitchen mystery number 2 - never the spices you need

This week I offer up my contribution, a problem that almost drove me crazy this month when I was working on a new kitchen design.

Kitchen Mystery No. 3 – Kitchen Stools

Why are retailers still selling ugly kitchen stools that belong in the 1980’s, without even pretending they’re retro?

Seriously, google kitchen stools and see the monstrosities that pop up. Like these. Yikes.

Kitchen mystery number 3 - why are there so many ugly kitchen stools on the market

The Kitchen Stool Challenge

The biggest problem I have when I’m designing kitchens and looking for seating is height. There are lots of lovely bar stools on the market, probably because the designers of bar stools understand that there are bar owners that care about aesthetics. But I’ll be honest I’m not quite sure what some kitchen stool designers are thinking. Or maybe I’m just rubbish at my job and can’t find all the nice ones. But anyway, back to height. The difference if you’re wondering is about 10-15cm. If your breakfast bar is the same height as your kitchen worktops then you need a seat height of around 65cm for your kitchen stools, whereas bar stools tend to be 75-80cm. Fascinating eh?

Now you can raise your breakfast bar, which is what our American friends tend to do.

Breakfast bar in white kitchen designed by Kitchen Stori via Houzz

Raised breakfast bar in contemporary kitchen designed by Kitchen Stori, image via Houzz

Then you could have these babies by Zeitraum. Well you could if £579 per stool isn’t an issue.

Kitchens - Morph walnut wood bar stool by Zeitraum, available from madeindesign.co.uk

Morph walnut bar stool by Zeitraum available at madeindesign.com

You can also lower the counter and use dining chairs. Personally I’m not a fan as it always feels a little like I’m sitting at the kiddy table.

Low level breakfast bar in Highgate Kitchen photographed by Paul Craig Photography

Low level breakfast bar, image via Houzz

But these two tone dining chairs from Design Icons would look fabulous, and they come in red, taupe, nougat, mustard, sky blue, black and white so you can mix ’em up if you like. Currently in sale for £137.70 each so a little more affordable than the bar stools above.

Calligaris Jam dining chairs with sleigh style legs

Calligaris Jam dining chairs available from designicons.co.uk

So what I have I managed to find for you lovely people that just want a regular counter level breakfast bar? Well thank you for asking, I’ll show you.

First up these lovely wire kitchen stools by Pastoe and available on Clippings.com. You have a choice of black, white, grey, blue or red. Lovely as they are though, at £270 each they’re not going to be in everyones budget. They also come as a bar stool or a dining chair so very versatile. If I could afford them I think I’d need to add a seat pad. I don’t want to think about the amount of my bum that would poke through the gaps…..

KM06 Kitchen stool in Haze Grey by Pastoe on Clippings.com

Wire kitchen stools by Pastoe and available on clippings.com

Adjustable seats are very handy if like me you’re a short arse. And if you like the industrial look then these from Industville are great quality and at £99 very affordable. I put one of them in the kitchen showroom I designed recently and they’ve been very popular.

Adjustable height industrial kitchen stool from Industville

Adjustable height industrial kitchen stool from Industville

If you need a bit of cushioning what about these glam girls? Available in black or white leather, and in two heights. They’re not cheap at $375 (£260 to us Brits) from One Kings Lane. Unfortunately they don’t ship outside the US but there are some suggested shipping companies on their website. Would look great if you’re going for the luxe look in your kitchen or if you had a retro bar.

Black leather and gold kitchen counter or bar stool from One Kings Lane

Lakeshore stool from One Kings Lane

I’m starting to wish I’d bought something with a backrest for my own kitchen though. I’m too old these days to perch on a stool that doesn’t have lumbar support. So I’m thinking about these beauties made by District Eight Design in Vietnam and available through outandoutoriginal.com. Just don’t tell Mr W as he thinks the kitchen is finished. When will he realise that your home is NEVER finished when you live with an interior designer?

Adjustable industrial kitchen stool by District Eight Design

Industrial kitchen stools by District Eight Design

When I was styling the showroom for Cockermouth Kitchens I bought a couple of these moulded plastic chairs from Cult Furniture. They come in 12 different colours (shown here in olive) and a choice of leg finishes. They are soooo comfortable and only £89 each.

Moulded plastic Charles Eames style kitchen stools with eiffel legs from Cult Furniture

So this is what ended up on the mood board for the kitchen I just finished. The homeowner wanted affordable, adjustable, cushioned, easy to clean and with a backrest. So they might not be your cup of tea but they met the brief (£99 for two BTW) and the customer loved them. Personally I’m not a fan of stools with a gas lift mechanism but I do like the leather and curves on these.  A little Charles Eames-esque

Carcaso chrome and brown leather adjustable height bar stools from www.simplybarstools.co.uk

Brown leather and chrome adjustable stools from www.simplybarstools.co.uk

So logging off now. I’ve got lists to make for the show this week. Can’t get half way down the motorway and realise I’ve forgotten the electric screwdriver or the pasting table…..

P.S I nearly called this post Stool Samples which had me sniggering for ages, but Mr W the professional part of me wouldn’t allow it.

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 2015 Interior Design Report Card

Sorry if I’ve been a bit quiet but I assumed you were busy with Christmas and whatnot. It’s been a tad hectic at Holly Cottage too but not with interior design stuff. I’ve spent the past 7 days with Jamie Oliver, and together we have produced some wonderful dishes including Christmas Roast DuckBloody Mary Beef and Rabbit Bolognese. Today we’re collaborating on Chicken Liver Parfait and Roasted Pork Shoulder. It’s the only time of year I have the time and the appropriate number of mouths to feed to warrant such domestic goddesstry, and now Mr W is officially retired I have a new sous chef which helps.

Taking some downtime from Interior Design and cooking with Mr W

Pre-Amelia Wilson Interiors, cooking was essential therapy, and I still find it very relaxing. These past few days when I haven’t been chopping, stirring or flambéing, (that was the chicken livers this morning – goodbye eyebrows), I’ve been thinking about how far I’ve come since I started my interior design business a little over a year ago. So this week, instead of homework, I’m submitting my 2015 report card for your perusal.

Overall interior design performance

I’m very pleased with the number of interior design projects I’ve completed this year, and how diverse they’ve been. It’s not just been bedrooms and bathrooms, but living rooms, kitchens, a pub, a shop, a showroom “and a partridge in a pear tree”……. sorry, still feeling very festive. I’m not quite making enough to keep Mr W in the manner to which he had become accustomed, but I probably never will. Please don’t tell him or he might make me go back to London….

What’s really motivated though me has been the positive feedback from every single one of my customers, and from others online. When you hop on the social media train you leave yourself open to (sometimes not very constructive) criticism and I’ve had a couple of ‘not likes’ but I’m a big girl, both mentally and of late physically, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. At the end of the day it’s what the customer thinks, and nothing says customer satisfaction more than “when can you start the next room” which I’ve heard a few times this year. A big thank you to everyone who has ‘liked’ my work though – it really is appreciated.

Gold Stars

I’ve come from a background of team working so being a one-woman band is new to me and working from home can be isolating. So I’m proud of and value the partnerships I’m building, not just with tradespeople and suppliers but also with distribution partners. Cockermouth Kitchen Co is my first and I have a couple more in the pipeline – watch this space.

I’m also chuffed to bits with the new website. I was feeling pretty smug about building the first one in April but after a few months I realised it was a bit dated so I gave it a makeover and I think it looks pretty good. I am officially a geek.

I’m also giving myself a gold star for the effort I have put into maintaining my social media presence and experimenting with various marketing and advertising tools including press, online media, and starting January 4th – Radio! The time all that takes should never be underestimated and is what keeps me up late after I’ve finished actual interior design work.

Nothing to do with my interior design business but I’m also pleased to have kept 8 out of 10 chickens alive. RIP Shakira and Brittney, fingers crossed the mysterious bug that ended your short lives doesn’t wipe out the others in 2016..

Could try harder

Although I did work on three commercial projects this year I haven’t broken into the hospitality space yet. So I’m a little disappointed, but I’ll just have to ramp up the efforts in 2016.

I’m also getting better at photography, but David Bailey I am not. I think I’ve figured out the angles and close up shots, but god help me the lighting in Cumbria is a challenge. Might need to invest in a big flash….

Grades

So I’m giving myself A’s for effort, customer satisfaction, distribution and marketing, a B for sales (need to help maintain Mr W’s new life of leisure), and C for commercial activity and photography. Not bad for a start up me thinks.

I also took a look back at which of my blog posts you liked the most and top of the list was all the best parties end up in the kitchen. I suspect this had more to do with the movie at the end than my interiors waffle…check it out it did make me chuckle this morning.

So thats me done until New Year. My next group of visitors arrives this afternoon and I’m still in my PJ’s.

Make sure you check back in January as I have some more great before and afters to show you.

The Bijou Bathroom

I lOVE LOVE LOVE designing bathrooms. I think it might be the problem solving element. Firstly, few people have the big bathrooms they’d love so its always an exercise in maximising space. Secondly, the waste pipes are never where you want them to be so you either have to compromise on where things go or come up with an ingenious solution. Thirdly, people often have strong preferences about the types of fittings they like, but this doesn’t come out until you ask whether they want separate or mixer taps and you get a 10 minute rant about the dodgy mixer tap in a hotel they stayed in once that was too tall for the sink so it sprayed water all over them every time they used it……. So take note any newbie bathroom designers, ask a lot of questions upfront and be prepared for a bit of passion.

The bathroom I’m about to show you is very bijou. Less than 2m square. And the homeowner loves a bath so turning it into a shower room was not an option. She has a lovely Victorian terraced house so only one wall was external, which gave us the usual ‘location of the waste pipe’ problem and therefore only one practical layout. She wanted a much bigger window and the door had to open inwards, limiting wall space. The thinking cap was firmly on.

So this is how it looked when the new window went in. The previous one was a quarter of the size making the room pretty gloomy.

Small bijou bathroom before image

And the previous fittings were all standard sizes so squashed together making the room look even more cramped.

Small bijou bathroom before image

After quizzing her on what she did and didn’t like I decided we needed a look that included some traditional elements, a little bit of luxury and some pops of bright colour. So what do you think?

Marble effect wall tiles in small traditional style bathroom with patterned floor tiles

You’re probably wowing at the tiles aren’t you, so lets start there.

Contrary to what most people think, big tiles on the wall actually make a room look bigger. It’s to do with the grout lines and there being fewer to draw your eyes. These luxurious looking carrara marble effect wall tiles have a matt finish and are only £18.75 m2 from Walls & Floors.

I really wanted Victorian style patterned tiles for the floor, but we were working to a budget and I couldn’t find quite the right bright colour. Then I found these Renkli floor tiles also at Walls & Floors. Technically they’re Moroccan in style but the pattern is very similar to traditional Victorian hall tiles. They’re very reasonable at £28.95 m2 and as you can see below they produce it in 3 different print sizes depending on how bold you want the print to be. We went for the largest print size to make it look closer to a Victorian style and to avoid it looking too busy since it’s such a small space.

Renkli Moroccan style geometric floor tiles from Walls & Floors

Next the fittings. The traditional sink and toilet are a set from Victorian Plumbing. The old sink used to hang over the edge of the bath but this sink comes in a narrow 500mm width making it perfect for a small bathroom.

Marble effect wall tiles in small traditional style bathroom with patterned floor tiles

The bath is by Hudson Reed also from Victorian Plumbing. It’s only 1500mm long which gave us 200mm for a shelf at the end – you need somewhere for your shampoo and conditioner – and I HATE those chrome baskets attached to the wall. It’s extra deep (460mm) so she can still submerge herself. Actually she’s so short she can turn over and swim in it……The tiling on the shelf at the end and in front of the bath give it that hint of boutique hotel.

Hudson Reed 1500 x 700 x 460 bath from Victorian Plumbing

The matching Crosswater Belgravia bath and sink taps are from Tap Warehouse.

Cross water Belgravia Basin taps from Tap Warehouse

Cross water Belgravia bath mixer with shower head

We fitted the mixer tap and the shower head in opposite corners of the bath so you don’t knock your knees on the mixer tap when you use the shower. I think it also looks much neater like this.

Cross water Belgravia bath mixer and shower head

The thermostatic shower is also from Victorian Plumbing. FYI – I love using them because they have a huge range at great prices with really quick delivery, and their customer service is excellent. They didn’t pay me to say that, it’s just true. We went for a shower curtain rather than a screen because she’s a bather not a showerer, and screens either make you feel enclosed or get in the way of the taps when you want to top up the hot.

Premier Edwardian thermostatic shower from Victorian Plumbing

The homeowner used to have a large curved heated towel rail behind the door, but it stuck out so you couldn’t open the door fully. I suggested we fit a tall narrow one to the left of the window where it wouldn’t be in the way.

Narrow wall mounted heated towel rail from Victoriam Plumbing

Lastly, she was desperate for storage and used to have a set of drawers next to the bath which made the floor look cluttered so I suggested a tall narrow mirrored cabinet above the toilet.

Being an old Victorian property the ceiling was a little higher than usual which meant we could drop it to add spotlights, and I suggested we leave a gap between the wall tiles and ceiling and paint this whole area a warm gold colour.

IMG_4519

A traditional style loo roll holder, loo brush and mirror and some amber glass accessories and we’re done. So what do you think? The homeowner LOVES it and so do I.

 

 

Spare a thought for Cumbria this Christmas

Tonight I need to digress a little from my usual interiors waffle to ask you to spare a thought for Cumbria this Christmas. I was fortunate enough to have some free time today so I spent the afternoon with a lovely lady called Liz walking around Cockermouth handing out hot drinks and food that had been donated locally to homeowners that had been flooded and tradespeople that were helping them clean up the mess. Now we’ve all been watching the news and reading the papers, but seeing the extent of the damage to peoples homes firsthand and hearing their stories makes you realise just how tough it is for them. I met singles that were couch surfing, couples that were living separately because friends or relatives could only put up one of them, and a family living on their first floor surrounded by everything they had been able to save before they were flooded, because they don’t want to rack up a big insurance claim and become uninsurable.

There is a lot of support locally of course. The church hall is filled with food and cleaning stuff that has been donated by supermarkets, businesses and local residents. And there are lots of volunteers offering help. But none of that makes up for the fact that most of these people won’t be spending Christmas at home this year. Those that had been through this before told me it took 6 months to get their homes back in order. 6 months. None of them were moaning or complaining though, that’s not the Cumbrian way, they were just getting on with it. Throwing out furniture, ripping up carpets and trying to get rid of the mud which is everywhere.

I also chatted to someone which made me realise there will be many that were not directly affected by the floods, but impacted still the same. This lady runs a cleaning business and gets most of her income from holiday lets. Some of her customers properties have been flooded so will be off the rental market for up to 6 months. Obviously this is terrible news for the property owners, but hopefully most will have insurance which will cover them for loss of income. But she has no such protection, so will be struggling to make ends meet until their businesses are operational again unless she can find other work.

I know there are worthy causes all over the world and this is just another appeal. But I couldn’t live here and witness this and not ask you to support Cumbria either by donating to the Cumbria Flood Recovery Fund, shopping online with one of the local businesses in Cockermouth that have an online shop , or visiting what I think is the most beautiful place in the world and spending a few quid. If you ask nice I might even put you up 🙂

Sign in shop window in Cockermouth after Cumbria floods