Tag Archives: decorating

Eat Sleep Paint Repeat

Over the last few years Mr W has stopped raising concerns or objections over my decorating plans he just goes with the flow. It’s not that I didn’t get my way before, we wouldn’t be living in Holly Cottage if that was the case, or have a red kitchen, or exposed stone walls in the bathroom. In fact our house would look very different if I wasn’t so bossy persuasive. But now I don’t even have to argue with him, he just lets me get on with it. He tells me that I’ve proven I know what I’m doing and he now trusts my decisions. I think I’ve just worn him down. Either way – yay for me.

The Bedroom Makeover

Living with an interior designer is like a version of that Fat Boy Slim tune – Eat, Sleep, Paint, Repeat. And I’m not even going to bother defending myself. It is both a perk and a curse when it’s your job to seek out and create beautiful interiors. The latest room in my house to get a makeover is our bedroom, and if you follow my social media feeds you might remember the wallpapers I was considering, this one being top of my list.

Cranes in flight wallpaper by Harlequin available at Jane Clayton

Cranes in Flight wallpaper by Harlequin

In the end I decided I didn’t want to break up the room with one papered wall and wanted to keep it all one colour. And with my new found decorating freedom I wanted to go darker. A lot lot darker.

Dark Interiors

Dark interiors are a bit like marmite, you either love them or hate them, but even those who love them aren’t always brave enough to take the plunge at home.

Dark grey living room with emerald green upholstered chair

Image by Ingrid Rasmussen Photography via Houzz

Usually they’re concerned because there isn’t enough natural light in the room, or they think the room is too small to carry a dark tone. But if you have a small dark room, painting it white is probably going to make it look very stark, whereas going dark will make it cosy and a whole lot more interesting.

Cloakroom decorated in black and gold

Cloakroom decorated in black and gold – image via Houzz

I’m a fan of dark interiors but unfortunately Mr W is not, and it’s the one battle I’ve never been able to win. Until now of course…..

Home of designer Abigail Ahern, champion of dark interiors

The home of designer Abigail Ahern, champion of dark interiors

The Bedroom Makeover – Phase I

So back to the bedroom. Before I show you in it all its lovely inky glory you have to see what it looked like before. And I’m going to take you way way back to the day I first viewed the house. I have to apologise for the very poor quality pics but this was 2010 when all I had was a blackberry, and if you see the pics you’ll understand why Mr W didn’t even want to buy the house.

Poor quality image of master bedroom in 2010

Grim eh?

Poor quality image of master bedroom in 2010

FYI the homeowners didn’t have any small children…

The Bedroom Makeover – Phase II

So when I first decorated I was living in an uber modern flat in London. I was a bit giddy about owning an old house in the country and got carried away with the country slash vintage vibe.

Traditional vintage style bedroom in cottage

Our entire flat in London was floor to ceiling white so the darkest I could get Mr W to agree to was a light mushroom, and that took some convincing…..

Oak wardrobes in Georgian cottage designed by Amelia Wilson

Now I liked it, but I felt we could do better.

The Bedroom Makeover – Final Reveal

When you’re taking a non-believer over to the dark side its all about breaking them in gently. So when I first mentioned navy blue to Mr W I told him we’d just paint one wall. This one.

Bedroom painted stiffkey blue by Farrow & Ball

Stiffkey Blue by Farrow & Ball

And he loved it. Thank god. As I’d already bought the paint for the rest of the room.

The pics aren’t great as this is a dark room, but that was my rational for going dark. Its a bedroom, it’s usually dark outside when I’m in there, and you want it to be cosy.

Roman blind in Antique Gold Alvar fabric by Clarke & Clarke, made by Di's Soft Furnishings

Roman blind in Antique Gold Alvar fabric by Clarke & Clarke, made by Di’s Soft Furnishings

All the furniture is the same, we just changed the curtains to a roman blind, bought new bedside lamp bases and shades, a new bedspread and pillow shams, and moved our existing artwork and accessories around. Total spend approx. £900.

Don’t the oak wardrobes and the gold sunburst mirror look amazing against the blue?

I absolutely love it. The colours are so rich, and its so warm looking.

Antique gold bedspread and pillow shams by Dorma at Dunelm.

Antique gold bedspread and pillow shams by Dorma at Dunelm.

I swear I’m sleeping better because it’s darker.

Velvet shades from Dunelm, gold bases from Wayfair

Velvet shades from Dunelm, gold bases from Wayfair

So what do you think? Could you be persuaded to go a few shades darker?

Murusbiblusphobia – the fear of wallpaper?

I live in an old house with uneven walls. Consequently I only have one wall that could take wallpaper. So I get very excited when I get the opportunity to wallpaper a customers house. But I also brace myself for a challenge because I’m VERY picky about wallpaper. There are fine lines between bold and gaudy, and striking or gives you a headache. And then there are the quirky ones which can be kinda cool, but can also look like they belong in the childrens ward of a hospital. And I get very twitchy around faux effect wallpapers. I’m not ruling them out in houses but I think they work best in pubs and restaurants and other commercial premises where you want unusual, eye catching features. But I can even take issue with subtle wallpapers. I look at some and think thats so subtle why are you bothering?

Murusbiblusphobia – the fear of wallpaper

OK I just made this up using the latin words for wall and paper, but to stop you all from thinking I suffer from an aversion to wallpaper I thought I would show you five that have drawn my eye lately. And I’m pleased to report, at least for my own sake, that sitings of favourable wallpapers are on the increase.

1. Pheasant by Barneby Gates

I’m going to start with the one I am considering for the single wallpaperable (another made up word from me) wall in my house. This Pheasant wallpaper by Barneby Gates is quirky but not mad and has the right amount of ‘traditional’ for my house without it being boring. I’m waiting for the sample to arrive so it might not make a formal appearance at Holly Cottage. But I hope it does as I rather like the idea of pheasants roaming across my dining room wall.

Pheasant Camo Green Wallpaper by Barneby Gates

Pheasant wallpaper by Barneby Gates shown here in Camo Green

2. Pindorama by Arthouse

There are lots of bold tropical and botanical wallpapers around at the moment, perfect to go with the must have for 2017 if you want to be bang on trend – a velvet sofa. I love the orchids and fuchsia in this wallpaper but if I’m honest what probably drew me in was the way the stylist had it working with the fuchsia pink border and ceiling. They should have used a huge navy or fuchsia sofa though, that little grey one looks positively out of place in this setting.

Pindorama Navy wallpaper by Arthouse

Pindorama wallpaper by Arthouse shown here in navy

3. House Plants by Miss Print

I’ve been looking for wallpaper for one wall in a large contemporary kitchen/living/dining space and instantly fell in love with this retro style wallpaper from MissPrint. MissPrint was created in 2005 by mother-daughter co-founders Yvonne and Rebecca Drury and every MissPrint pattern is hand-illustrated by Rebecca which is what makes their designs so unique. What I really like about this wallpaper (and any of their designs for that matter) is that although they have a midcentury feel you could make them work in a traditional or contemporary setting.

House Plants wallpaper by MissPrint shown here in Olive

House Plants wallpaper by MissPrint shown here in Olive

4. Kumo by Albany

This cloud wallpaper is going in an office/study/reading room I’ve just designed for a customer. I suggested it because I thought the pattern was so relaxing. Maybe not great for an office but definitely right for a reading room.  For me this is one of those subtle designs that is subtle but is still noticeable. My customer hasn’t been able to use this room since they bought the house as it was being used for storage so she’s very excited about having her own space. So much so she jokingly referred to this room as her lady cave…. so wrong.

Kumo from the Albany Kyoto wallpaper collection shown here in grey

Kumo from the Albany Kyoto wallpaper collection shown here in grey

5. Veranda Trellis by Zoffany

Last up is a wallpaper I’m thinking of for a living room I’m in the process of designing. I want something contemporary but elegant, and like the idea of a geometric pattern but so many of them make my head hurt when I look at them for too long. This one doesn’t and I think that’s because it’s just simple green on white. My eyes can’t seem to cope with geometrics in more than two colours. Print size helps too – too small and I feel like I’m being hypnotised.

Veranda Trellis from the Woodville wallpaper collection by Zoffany

Veranda Trellis from the Woodville wallpaper collection by Zoffany shown here in Leaf

So that’s my fab five. I’ll let you know if the pheasants make it onto the walls of Holly Cottage.

Mirror mirror on the wall

The life of an interior designer is sometimes a little schizophrenic. Right now I’m flitting between period elegance, simple scandinavian, cool contemporary and boutique chic. Different customers, (or that would be one crazy looking house), different styles and different briefs. But the common denominator is the simple mirror. It doesn’t matter what your style or budget I’m always going to throw in a mirror or two. And I’m not just talking about the obvious places, i.e. over the fireplace or above the bathroom sink. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to decorating with mirrors. I’ve also got a list of places where you should not hang a mirror. Interested?

Decorating with mirrors

Art is very personal and it might take years to find something you like enough to hang on your walls that you can afford. It might sound dramatic but you may never find anything you like. Retailers like Next know that, which is why they produce shelf loads of bland canvases in the same colours as that seasons soft furnishings to save you even looking for artwork. But instead of settling for a bland canvas or a stock poster from IKEA why not hang a mirror.

Feature gold sunburst mirror

Feature sunburst mirror – image via Pinterest

If you can’t find or afford a huge feature mirror like this gorgeous sunburst one then use a set. This lovely set of three is £159 from Furniture in Fashion but you don’t need to spend a fortune. You can pick up great mirrors in places like Argos or Wilko for under £20. Like cushions, they don’t need to be the same size or style, just stick with the same colour palette and hang them in  rows or clusters.

Set of three decorative gold mirrors

Trio of gold mirrors from Furniture in Fashion

Or create a feature using frameless mirror tiles. Homebase and IKEA sell packs of 30cm square mirror tiles for under a tenner. If you do have a few quid more to spend Notonthehighstreet.com have packs of 20cm hexagonal tiles for (gulp) £185.00. Very on trend tho.

Hexagonal mirror tiles

Collection of hexagonal mirror tiles – image via Pinterest

I like to mix mirrors in with pictures (and sometime other random oddities) to expand and add more interest to the arrangement.

Gallery wall including pictures and mirrors

Collection of pictures and mirrors – image via Houzz

And if you can’t find any pictures or family photos you like but still want a gallery wall then just use mirrors.

Gallery wall of mirrors

Gallery wall of mirrors – image via Houzz

This is also a great way of breaking up a wall if you want to paint it a really bold colour but don’t have the balls are worried it might be too much.

Gallery wall of metallic mirrors

Collection of metallic mirrors – image via Houzz

Mirror Image

Mirrors are obviously great for bouncing light around a room but if you hang them facing a window or side on they will also reflect the view. So it doesn’t matter if you were last to the dining table or you have to sit with your back to the window to watch the telly you can still see the view.

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Mirrors reflect light and the view – image via Houzz

Mirrors either side of the bed increase the glam factor of even the most glamorous bed, and will reflect the light from your bedside lights – double whammy.

Glamorous bedroom with large mirrors either side of the bed

Uber glam bedroom – image via Houzz

And just when you thought they’d done enough, mirrors can also create the illusion of space, elongating a room or adding height.

God I love this room….the reflection of that pitched roof creates amazing symmetry and you get twice as much chandelier.

Mirrored wall and doors visually double the size of this room

Mirrored walls and doors visually double the size of this room – image via Houzz

So where should you not put mirrors?

  1. On the back of the bathroom door if your toilet faces the door. Enough said.
  2. On your wardrobe doors if you’ll be able to see your reflection when you open your eyes in the morning.
  3. Above the bath, unless its high enough that you can only see your head and shoulders.
  4. Facing the shower, again unless its at head height. Never have a long mirror facing the shower. I bet not even Heidi Klum wants to see herself showering.
  5. Above the bed. It’s not the 70’s and you’re not a porn star.

So the answer is basically anywhere you might catch your reflection when you’re naked and/or not looking your best. Mirrors should be used to decorate and illuminate not kill our self esteem.

Vintage mirrors in bathroom

Vintage mirror hung above the bath in one of my recent projects

So time to chuck out that IKEA poster?

Bag yourself a bargain

As an interior designer I appreciate space, particularly my own. Which is why it’s a good thing Mr W has finally returned to London. I love my husband, I wouldn’t be without him, but our 5/2 relationship suits us both. Divorce or death (of one of us) would have been the only outcome if he’d stayed much longer. So now he can get back to his routine, and I can get back to the non-routine I just realised I prefer. This involves only shopping or cooking when I feel like it, working until midnight if I’m in the grip of something, and spending a few hours gardening if the sun is out and I need thinking time. The opposite of my previous life, which was bound by routine and schedules. Perfect.

The other personal change I’ve noticed, is that I have replaced my handbag snobbery with car snobbery. Posh handbags don’t really cut it in Cumbria or my new life. It isn’t practical to carry tape measures, notebooks, paint/tile/fabric/flooring samples in soft leather, silk lined pouches. They don’t really work on building sites either when I need to put them on the floor while I measure up and take photos. So I’ve happily made the transition to cheaper and more practical shoulder-wear. However, I recently dropped my fabulous ‘takes me anywhere, fits anything in it’, automatic 4WD off for a service and was given a tiny, tinny, manual, skodia fabia for the day. I actually had to get someone to show me how to start it, and you should have seen my attempt at parallel parking without a camera and sensors, it looked like it had been abandoned by bank robbers. If by some strange cruel twist of fate this becomes the car of the future with all other models becoming obsolete I will revert to taxi’s everywhere. A challenge in my line of work and rural location but a necessity I’m afraid.

Bizarrely I am the complete opposite of a snob, (what is this, egalitarian? modest? humble?) when it comes to interior design. I love nothing more than a cheap replica of something that costs an arm and a leg elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong I love the expensive stuff too, but most people can’t afford it. So as interior designers it is often our job to create the same look for a lot less. I’ve recently been looking for items to spruce up my summer house so behold my current favourite spring themed bargain replicas!

First on the list these wood effect drum shades. Yes the John Lewis one is beautiful but for a tenner the one from Wilko is a stylish bargain

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Woodland nightshade from John Lewis, £35-45

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Wood effect nightshade from Wilko, £10

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There’s a definite bee theme in the shops at the moment, and these are two of my favourite clocks.

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Progetti Time2bee wall clock, £145 by Red Candy

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Honeycomb clock from George Home, £12

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There is no denying that this Juneberry & Bird cushion by young British designer Lorna Syson is georgous. But if you can’t afford the £32 price tag, Wilko has a pretty bird cushion for only £6.50.

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Juneberry & Bird cushion, £32 from Howkapow

 

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Bird cushion, £6.50 from Wilko

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Sticking with the bird theme, both of these rugs are beautiful and the one from Next isn’t expensive at £160, but I actually prefer the cheaper one from Kaleidoscope.

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120cm x 170cm Hummingbird rug from Next, £160

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120cm x 180cm Hummingbird rug, £115 from Kaleidoscope

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Finally, my summer house is littered with tea light holders, my excuse being that many are presents from visitors (honest guv), but there’s always room for a few more…..

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Set of 4 LSA green glass tea light holders, £18 from Heals

 

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Glass butterfly motif tea light holders, £3 each from John Lewis.

So Mr W is home again this weekend, and despite my earlier comments I have missed him, but if he misses his train home on Sunday I might have to move into the summer house to save our marriage….