I can’t decide what’s better as an interior designer being given the blank canvas of a show home or new build, or transforming something that has become tired and dated. I suppose if I enjoy them both it doesn’t really matter. Similarly, I’ve loved the freedom I’ve been given to design this latest show home, (the brief was literally here’s the budget, make it look good, quickly). But then you can’t beat the feeling you get when you show a client your designs for their home and they love them, because you’ve managed to capture everything they told you they liked, plus a bunch of things they would never have thought of but love as well. I guess I’m just saying my job rocks.
This living room transformation should have been finished in December but a late sofa scuppered our plans. I did show you a few cheeky shots just before Christmas but I thought you might like to see the finished room and get a little more background on how we got there.
The Living Room Challenge
The homeowners called me because working out what to do with their living room was giving them a headache. They hated the decor they’d inherited, particularly the ceiling. I wish I’d taken a close up of those beams to show you the crime committed by the previous owners who had built the place. Basically there are huge steel beams holding up the roof and they had clad them in moulded plaster work stained brown to try and make them look like oak. They had failed. Miserably. To make matters worse they then clad the rest of the ceiling with antique stained pine. Criminal.
They also hated the huge gas fire which obscured the opening in the chimney breast where there had once been an open fire. It’s not clear why the previous owners blocked it up but the soot stains on the chimney breast suggest it hadn’t been vented properly.
They were also struggling with how to furnish a room that’s the size of two living room. They wanted lots of seating for family gatherings, but they couldn’t work out how to position it all. And they didn’t want to make it a living/dining space as they already had a dining area between the living room and the kitchen, which had another ugly ceiling fan and a wrought iron staircase which had to go.
The Living Room Transformation
So if you caught my post before Christmas you’ll know I came up with a plan to create two zones. A grown up area by the new stove for curling up with a glass of wine….
….and a more child friendly area with a squishy rug and a big snuggler chair
As you can see we plastered and painted the ceiling but we came very close to chipping off the plaster and cladding them in wood.
The first test we did with oak veneer failed because we could see the joins when we oiled the wood. The joiner (Kevin Robinson of Curwen Joinery) then came up with another option which was to highlight the joins using Japanese beam joints and then add oak pegs to make it look even more authentic.
We all got a bit excited about this but in the end cost, and not knowing exactly how it was going to look until it was finished, meant we had to go back to their original plan which was to just plaster and paint the ceiling. And to be honest as fabulous as the Japanese beam joints could have looked the ceiling looks pretty good now. Especially with those huge black metal orb lights.
The walls are painted Elk Antler by Valspar and I recommended painting the ceiling the same colour as I felt a huge white ceiling would introduce lines that would interrupt the flow of the space. It’s about the only thing that made this job easier for Mike the decorator (Michael Fulton Professional Painter & Decorator) I also suggested simple plaster wall lights that we could paint so that these would also blend into the background.
Brodie the family pet is very happy with the new layout and the endless seating options he now has. He likes this sofa so he can keep an eye on the front door.
But he also likes his new chaise…..
We ripped out the old staircase which was also too wide, and replaced it with a simple wooden staircase we could paint.
Kevin did a great job reducing the width of the staircase and cladding the stairs with the new laminate floor that we carried through from the hallway.
The dining area didn’t need much after that, just a few pics and some new curtains for the patio doors.
Another delayed delivery meant the new sideboard didn’t feature in my pre-Christmas photos…
…or the gallery walls
So thats a wrap. I’d love to know what you think. This is what the homeowners think….*beams proudly*
“We moved into our home around 2yrs ago and whilst saving to transform it we had to ensure dark wood cladded ceilings and floral carpets. Our living room is 11 metres long and was not a functional room. We were looking at making it more homely and Amelia exceeded all our expectations. We now have the modern country look living room we wanted which is a cosy family space which we are thoroughly enjoying. Everything she picked for the room we loved and she was always in communication with us. She managed the project which involved plasterers, joiners, electricians and decorators and ensured we were complete for Christmas”
“Amelia has just finished the first of a 2 room project for my wife and I. The first room (and the largest) was no mean feat. We knew what style we wanted but were unable to agree on colours, furniture or finishes. Amelia has done an amazing job of translating everything we described to her and we achieved our ‘modern country’ look perfectly. We’ve lived in a scaffolded living room and building site for well over a month in order for Amelia to have the project finished just in time for Xmas. We’ve enjoyed a wonderful Xmas in our new living room and still in awe of the finished article”
It’s been a hectic year for Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd, aka me. My version of the Twelve Days of Christmas would go something like ‘6 living rooms, 5 bathrooms, 4 bedrooms, 3 kitchens, 1 dressing room, 1 dining room, 1 hallway, a pub, a showroom, a shop and an office. Good job I wasn’t approached by a partridge in a pear tree as I’d have had to turn it down.
I’ve been so busy I haven’t even had time to properly photograph finished projects to show you lovely people. I know I know the before and afters are the best bit. We all love howling at how ugly the old carpet/wallpaper/sofa was don’t we. So I promise to pull my finger out in the New Year….*adds another item to list of New Years resolutions after stop eating so much and start running again*
So although the room I’m about to show you was still missing a sofa and a sideboard when I left on Wednesday, and the pictures and gallery wall will go up in January I’m going to show you some pics anyway ‘cos it’s Christmas, it’s fabulous and it’s the largest single room I’ve ever decorated – I’ve got friends in London with smaller flats. So without further ado I present to you – the Ginormous Living Room.
Now before you start pointing fingers NONE of this was furnished or decorated by the homeowners. They inherited the whole kit and caboodle from the previous owners and have been saving since they bought the property so they could change everything. The challenge though was what to do with such a big room.
The good news was that the homeowners knew the look they wanted, which I call ‘modern country’. And that doesn’t mean Taylor Swift, it’s more about mixing traditionally rustic features with modern elements. You’ll see what I mean if I show you the plans. It took two moodboards the room is so big….
The newly decorated Ginormous Living Room
Now before I show you anything, please excuse the amateur iPhone photography, the sun kept streaming through the windows (what’s all that about in Cumbria in bloody December), so I’ve had to edit the pics to get rid of the glare. Please also avert your eyes from the rubbish outside which we haven’t had time to shift. Sorry, I’ll stop apologising and just get on with it – ta da!
Totally different room right? Bye bye ugly fake beams, antique pine clad ceiling and wrought iron staircase (we don’t even need to mention the carpet do we…). Hello beautiful, and relaxing but elegant living room.
That chimney was just crying out for a stove wasn’t it?
So I’ve given the room two zones – and this is the grown up’s bit for a glass of wine after the little’un is in bed and when they have friends round.
The plan was to paint the lower half of that coffee table in Farrow & Ball Rectory Red, and we might still.
I think the new lighting is my favourite bit.
So this is where the second couch (leather BTW) will go when it arrives. They did promise before Christmas so they still have 24hrs but I’m not holding my breath….
…and this is where the sideboard now sits in the more child friendly zone, i.e. wipe clean sofa, washable covers on the armchair and a very fluffy rug for floor play time. Now that the sideboard has arrived I can work out how big the gallery wall we have planned needs to be. I love that snuggler chair and footstool from IKEA, it’s a perfect match for the Laura Ashley plaid sofa isn’t it?
And just when you thought the room couldn’t get any bigger it wraps around into the dining room (the kitchen is to the left). I wish now I’d taken a decent pic of the new staircase that fabulous joiner Kevin Robinson supplied and fitted, but you’ll see it when I do the final photographs.
So it brought a few challenges – that high ceiling being one for the plasterers, decorator and electrician, and getting the layout right. But what a transformation eh?. I’m chuffed to bits with the result, and I must confess have a little bit of house envy.
Would love to know what you think?
I’ve found a new love that has replaced my love of willow. I’m talking baskets now. Having 4 log burners at Holly Cottage requires a lot of logs and a lot of baskets, which is where the willow obsession started. I have big willow baskets for logs, small ones for kindling, shallow ones for towels in the guest bedrooms, round ones for toilet rolls in the bathrooms, a tiny one filled with fir cones under the coffee table. It’s got a little out of hand to be honest. But there’s something about the lovely grey colour that says I might be rustic but I’m a bit cooler than wicker or rattan, I belong next to sheepskin and reindeer skins and old leather, I can sit on limestone flags or a wooden floor. I could be in a swish Swedish summerhouse or a New York loft I’m that cool. Sorry, I’m getting a little carried away. Baskets don’t talk. Classic basket case.
Anyway, my new love is wire and it’s even more versatile than willow. It’s been a bedroom storage staple for some time but it’s now out of the closest and working the room elsewhere.
It works in the bathroom
It works in the kitchen
It works in the hall or utility room
It works in your home office
Its upped its game in accessories
It doesn’t limit itself to storage. It’s become way more visible in lighting (literally) ever since the industrial trend was born, and now It’s worked its way into the furniture market too. I think that actor chap (Michael?) on the Great Interior Design Challenge who had a wire obsession might have been the catalyst.
And it works in my summerhouse. I’ve started with a set of 3 wire baskets I picked up in Homesense for about £40. The big one is for throws, the middle one for magazines and the small one is perfect for fruit on the bar. (It’s important to have fruit in your cocktails – helps with the 5 a day).
Its far easier to clean than willow and you can spray paint it any colour you like – whats not to love?
I suspect the wire will slowly creep through the house until all the willow has been relegated to the interiors graveyard that is my garage. I used to take my rejects to the charity shop, auction or tip. Now they sit in the graveyard, I mean garage, waiting for a place in future projects. Who knows when I might need that extra pair of antlers I have? Or this industrial table I rescued from outside the Diesel HQ in London? (The manager even gave me the planks for the top and bottom shelf #worldsgreatestfreebie). I might need to start clearing some room for all those willow baskets though…..