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”
I promised you pictures of the newly finished pink bedroom on Thursday. So lets pretend I was suspense building. Lets pretend I wasn’t just faffing around with my new photo editing software. Because I’m not just blowing my own trumpet here but this bedroom deserves a build up. It’s the interior design equivalent of a celebrity transformation Think Leona Lewis before X Factor versus the sleek, stylish, diva she is now. Think Kylie in Neighbours versus current Kylie the sex kitten. If you didn’t know me you might even suspect it was a different bedroom.
To remind you this is what the bedroom looked like before….
And without further ado, drum roll please (click here – honest its an actual drum roll), here’s how her bedroom looks now.
See what I mean. I wasn’t exaggerating. I’m not sure who is happier with the final result me or LM the homeowner. I almost asked if I could sleep over this weekend…. Apparently her partner has been allowed in but he has been given orders, no shoes and no clothes on the floor. LM’s a police officer so she could probably get him arrested or worse if he doesn’t comply
So lets talk design detail. First the colour scheme. The walls and ceiling are Pink Cocoa by Valspar. When the first wall was painted me and LM did a double take as it looked purr..itty pink, but once the rest of the room was painted it took on that blush colour I was looking for. I knew it would look great with gold carpet and soft furnishings, but I also added black accents as LM lives with her partner Ian so we couldn’t have the room looking too much like a boudoir.
We needed to replace all her bedroom furniture so I started by designing huge fitted wardrobes to go where the old freestanding wardrobe had been. I ordered shaker style sliding doors and tracks from Howdens and the fabulous joiner I work with (Curren Joinery) built the frame with cupboards above to match, and all the shelves etc I wanted inside. Filling this space has actually made the bedroom look bigger, and LM says her problem now is she doesn’t have enough clothes to fill the space….nice problem to have as there’s only one solution…..
LM likes older furniture so I took a trip to my favourite antiques warehouse in Manchester and picked up two chests of drawers.
One is actually a Gentleman’s Chest with a lift up lid and compartments for gloves, ties, cufflinks etc. Great for costume jewellery!
I picked up this dormitory style bed online from UK Bed Store for only £163 including delivery, which looks great with the black Victorian fireplace.
To match it I found this bedside table with a black metal top in Habitat, another bargain at only £25. Note to self, remember to hide wires when taking photos……
A black Victorian style cast iron radiator was a must – this one came from The Cast Iron Radiator Centre. While we’re here check out the lush gold curtains and new black curtain pole. The curtains used to hang in my bedroom in a flat I owned in London, and with minor alterations they look like they were made for this room.
The Lloyd Loom chair was a car boot find which I sprayed black with dipped gold legs.
Next, lighting. This is what she had before.
Now this bedroom is 4m x 5m with a ceiling almost 3m high. So I knew we could go big. This large Aria pendant light from Laura Ashley is 50cm x 48cm without the chain and needs 6 bulbs. It was reduced from £375 to £262.50 in the sale, which is excellent value for such a large chandelier, and it looks amazing. The room had been so gloomy we actually had to fit it before the joiner could start so he could see what he was doing. We put it on a dimmer so the neighbours didn’t think LM had opened a cannabis farm. We also added a large white ceiling rose so that it would stand out against the pink ceiling.
For the bedsides I found a pair of glass and gold table lamp bases in Homesense for £15 each which look great with these black and gold shades from M&S. (Like the pineapple dish? Also Homesense).
One of my favourite things in the room are these pink velvet boudoir cushions with gold tassels from H&M Home. I’m also quite proud of my homemade artwork. I’m not normally a ‘words as pictures’ kinda girl. I usually put them in the same box as wooden hearts on string. But get rid of pithy statements about friendship or love, or orders to keep calm, and I’m in. I bought frames from IKEA and customised picture mounts online and had a local printer print my designs for a few quid. Total cost about £15 per picture. Bargain. As the head of the bed is relatively low, the wall needed some big art and this 2 over 3 formation accentuates the height of the ceiling.
A few more accessories and we’re done.
Bowls and tea light holders from Homesense
Gold picture frames and a black and gold pineapple I sneaked in – also Homesense
The mirror was a great find in the clearance section of my local Laura Ashley – should have been £300, reduced to £137.50.
Gold hurricane style lamp Homesense
So what do you think of the pink bedroom? I’m absolutely tickled pink and so is LM.
Before I became an interior designer I worked for the same company for 20 years but in multiple roles. Every 2 years or so I would change jobs, and would joke that it was so they would never find out I was rubbish. But the reality was every 2 years they would offer me new challenges and I would accept them. When Human Resources or Management would ask me want I wanted to do next I always gave the same answer; anything, as long as it not internally focused, too narrow a role, or business as usual. Fortunately for me the company was big enough (and challenged enough) that they never struggled to meet these criteria. In the end though it became a case of different job same challenges and my motivation had gone so it was time for a complete change and the opportunity to follow my true passion, interior design. This need for customer interaction, diversity and a challenge is probably why I love being an interior designer. Even a small bathroom needs wallpaper or paint, flooring, lighting, furniture, heating and plumbing, which are all specialisms in their own right, but an interior designer has to be knowledgable about them all. And when a customer says she wants flooring that looks like the one she saw in Frankie & Benny’s you have to accept the challenge…. I kid you not this actually happened to me, and I found her the exact match. She recently told me she wanted kitchen stools like ones she’d seen in Nando’s. I told her husband he needed to start taking her to classier places….
So the last 7 days has been all about wallpaper, specifically the perfect, simple, but contemporary, and a little bit glamorous wallpaper for a clients bedroom. I think we have the winner but the search has uncovered some beauties I wanted to share with you, and in the process I uncovered the source of the fabulous paper that I saw in Artisan (the recent hen night venue).
1. Brooklyn tins by Merci – first up is the paper I spotted in Artisan. Designed to look like vintage painted tiles, you have to touch it to believe its not real. It looks amazing on walls and ceilings and comes in 8 different designs. Usually £219 per roll, (although Hut.com have it for £139.99), which means most of us could afford to do at least 1 wall or ceiling……
2. Vienna by Zoffany – when I got my hands on a sample of this in silver it looked like leather, and when I showed it to a client she thought it was like coral shells. It looks and feels gorgeous, most striking in the darker shades. 10 different colour ways, and £85 a roll so it won’t break the bank if you limit it to a feature wall.
3. Komodo, Cobra by Osborne & Little – this is so sexy it practically slithers off the walls and into bed with you. Comes in 5 colour ways, and at £56 per roll you could afford to do a few walls. Check out their other animal prints too, I also love Panthera and Boa
4. In the picture, Issue in Parchment – my customer has a white leather headboard on her bed which is what drew me to this wallpaper as it reminded me of the leather cushioning. It seems no one is brave enough to try it on their walls yet though as I couldn’t find any pics of it hung. Only £40 though so worth a gamble
5. Anaglypta Wallpapers, Herringbone – mention anaglypta and I automatically think about those awful 70’s patterned wallpapers and then I saw this. I admit I’m a little obsessed with herringbone pattern in any form but painted up this is divine and only £21 per roll. Perfect for halls and stairs I think
6. Tree Bark by Clarke & Clarke – another wallpaper that people view differently, I see silver birch and my customer thought it was distressed concrete. We both loved it though, but I agree with her its perhaps a little industrial looking for a bedroom. Around £40 per roll.
7. Mey Fern by Nina Campbell – and I think this might be the winner. It comes in 4 colour ways and is £56 per roll. I matched it with a paint called Oyster Shoal by Valspar and some very touchable crushed velvet by Clarke & Clarke. I also found some bedside wall lights that had up and down lighters to highlight the sweep of the ferns. With her white gloss bedroom furniture I think it will create the right amount of glamour – what do you think?
So in between wallpaper hunting and working on other client projects I have been feeling very young. Firstly, because I decided to enter my first ever triathlon. Long story short, work and illness has led to a decline in my exercise regime, which coupled with carb loading with Mr W after his diabetes diagnosis has caused me to gain more weight than I lost last year. The triathlon entry is to ensure I do not fall off the diet and exercise wagon. However, I have never been able to swim front crawl so I have also signed up for swimming lessons. Flailing around in cold water while being barked at by the rather formidable Elaine made me feel like I was 8 years old again. All that was missing was a brick at the bottom of the pool, a pair of pyjamas and veruca socks. Hats off to her though, within 30 minutes she had me doing a passable crawl which neither of us thought was possible at the start.
The second time I felt very young was on Monday night at the Theatre By The Lake in Keswick. It’s the jazz festival this week and we went to see Ray Gelato & The Giants. The last time I saw them play it was the late show at Ronnie Scotts and involved cocktails, dinner and plenty of wine. This time I had a coffee in the interval and was in bed by 10.30pm. Normally that would make me fell old but the average age of the audience was probably 72 so I still felt pretty sprightly.
Anyway, time to get my young self off to the swimming pool for lesson 3, only 5 weeks until the triathlon and I’m a long way off 20 continuous lengths…..
I should have realised a long time ago that I wanted to be an interior designer, just based on the number of times I would re-arrange my bedroom furniture and beg my mum to redecorate. Money was tight and we were a single parent family so my mum handled all home improvements herself. She could do anything, and I mean anything. She even owned her own set of drain rods. Best not to ask why. She once embarked on a project to convert our cellars into a granny flat and undertook all the work herself, by which I mean her plus her personal child labour force. My friends still laugh now at the memory of staying over at my house during school holidays and my mum’s parting shot (shouted up the stairs as I was still in bed) as she went off to work being “Amy! I want three wheel barrows of soil off you before you go out”. When I look back I admire her ‘can do’ attitude and work ethic (which I inherited) but I wish she hadn’t been quite as…..inclusive. The motorbike, cigar smoking, naturism and accordion playing also made for an interesting childhood but that’s a whole book not a blog post….
So back to children’s bedrooms. I have a new customer and my first deliverable is designs for her 7yr old daughter and her 8yr old sons bedrooms. For the daughter, mum would like simple and tasteful, with a splash of Laura Ashley. Something that will see her into her teen years. Daughter wants pink hearts, princesses and diamonds. The kind of bedroom I would have loved but never been allowed. The son is actually trickier. He is interested but not passionate about a range of things including football, rugby, drumming and getting a dog, and likes just about every primary colour. Our conversations yesterday just showed me that kids are not that different to a lot of adults when it comes to decorating their bedrooms. They don’t really know what they want. They’ve seen a few accessories or a bed they like, but can’t visualize or create a coherent scheme which incorporates them. But that’s great news, because that’s my job as an interior designer.
Things the daughter would love: from left, tutu table cover from Etsy, carriage bed found on babble.com and princess bedroom from decorative bedroom.com.
So I’ve got some ideas and as the research has been so much fun I thought I would share some of my findings. Stop reading now if a) you are bitter about the boring bedroom you had as a kid, b) you’re reading this with a small child and don’t want them to see stuff you won’t want to buy them, or c) you hate pink.
Great storage idea for dolls or action figures. If you’re not a seamstress just use one of those over door hangers for shoes. (Sources from left: lovechicliving.co.uk, Buzzfeed and Babble.com)
I love this girls bedroom as it’s girly but a little whimsical (hello unicorn) with a vintage edge. (Source: Pinterest)
Eerio Aarnio is a Finnish interior designer and furniture designer and has created this ball chair in a variety of colours. This pink one would look cool in a retro teenagers bedroom, but look away if you can’t afford the £500 price tag….
This bedroom has been designed for a teenage girl but with different coloured seating could work just as well for a boy. It’s got that cool ‘Manhattan loft’ vibe without being too grown up. (Source: Pinterest)
Definitely one for the boys now. I love the attention to detail around this amazing plane bed; the world map wallpaper, the luggage clothes storage, the cloud ceiling. Truly fantastic interior design. (Source: hgtv.com)
High beds for small children make me a little nervous. But you have to admit, who wouldn’t want a slide in their bedroom? (all from Pinterest)
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.