Tag Archives: interior design

Two Beautiful Bathrooms – Part One

I’ve come to realise that I like variety in all aspects of my life. I rarely eat the same thing twice in one week, and that includes breakfast. When I’m cooking dinner you might catch me crooning to a little country or throwing age inappropriate shapes to the Prodigy. I like to watch musicals and wildlife documentaries. And my favourite things to read are sci-fi and anything about serial killers. I’m not cultured I just like a lot of different stuff. Thankfully my eclectic taste also extends to interiors as all my customers have different styles, and I don’t think I’d like my job or be very good at it if I had to work with things I didn’t like all the time.

Don’t get me wrong there have been times when I’ve had to steer customers away from potentially disastrous choices, or accept that their sofa (which I don’t like) has to stay for budget reasons. But find me an interior designer who hasn’t had to deal with that. OK, so maybe Kelly Hoppen’s customers can always afford a new sofa. And as the queen of taupe she probably hasn’t had to tell a customer that tangerine orange walls with blue wall tiles would be a bad idea as I did recently……

Signature taupe bedroom by Kelly Hoppen

Signature taupe bedroom by Kelly Hoppen

There’s nothing wrong with an interior designer having a particular look or style of course, quite the opposite. It becomes your brand and customers seek you out because of it. But I just like lots of different styles and thankfully that works for me and my customers.

Two Beautiful Bathrooms – Part One

So this week I photographed two finished bathrooms that couldn’t be more different if they tried and I love them both. I’d love to know which is your favourite, assuming you like either of them of course…. But firstly I have to tell you I’m a little bit gutted as Apple appears to have lost the before pics somewhere between my Mac and the Cloud so I’m going to need you to use your imagination I’m afraid. It used to be two rooms; a shower room and separate toilet and the décor was a little 90’s show home, you know small square shower, pedestal basin, ordinary toilet and two tone tiles with a border. Get the picture? OK lets move on.

The Hotel Bathroom

This wasn’t a typical project for me as the customer already had a strong sense of what she wanted. Initially I was just going to work on her new kitchen and dining room (more pics to follow) but we extended this to include a little help with the bathroom layout and someone to bounce ideas off and help her choose fittings. So ready for the result of this collaboration?

Contemporary bathroom with stone effect tiles

I’m calling it the hotel bathroom because Mr W said “wow, it looks like a hotel bathroom” when he saw it, and I agree, assuming he meant posh hotel in the Alps and not Travel Lodge.

The beautiful porcelain tiles are from Italy. My customer saw them in one of our local bathroom showrooms and we used my trade discount to make a healthy saving.

Porcelain Des Alpes porcelain tiles in Bruno

Des Alpes Bruno porcelain wall and floor tiles

My absolute favourite thing in this bathroom is the floating basin.

Contemporary shower room by Amelia Wilson

Utopia Geo solid surface free flow basin

I’m not a huge fan of vanity units as so many are ugly. I often buy regular furniture and fit a sink on it, or I have the fitter build me something. But this wall mounted basin has been designed to perfectly conceals all the pipework. The two drawers below provide some storage and a shelf for towels but they also help give it a little more substance as I think the basin would look lost floating there on its own.

The short stud wall between the shower and the basin gives that feeling of privacy when you’re in the shower (though you’d hope not to have too many unexpected guests..). We also added it so that the shower screen wasn’t butting up to the basin making it hard to clean.

Ben the bathroom fitter suggested the little corner shelf for the hand wash to keep the basin top clear.

Tiling by Ben Butler Bathrooms and Kitchens

Bathroom fitted and tiled by Ben Butler Kitchens & Bathrooms

The unit above the back to wall toilet and bidet provides extra storage and somewhere to display some of the decorative items the customer has collected on her travels.

Contemporary towel radiator in contemporary shower room by Amelia Wilson

The bathroom complies with my ‘must have three sources of lighting rule’ and has recessed spotlights in the ceiling, the over mirror light and small spotlights in the wall cupboard, all on separate circuits of course.

Lighting in contemporary bathroom by Amelia Wilson

The plants you see were actually props for the photographs but I think my customer will be popping down to the garden centre this week after she saw how good they looked.

So what do you think, or do you want to wait for part two?

The Outdoor Kitchen Living Dining Space

I thought I was never going to be able to show you my new outdoor kitchen what with all this crappy weather. Technically there was nothing stopping me from showing you, but bare furniture, BBQ covers and a tarp over the pizza oven just ain’t that photogenic. But yesterday the sun poked its head out and looked like it might hang around so I did my best headless chicken impression and spent an hour dressing it up real pretty, while praying the rain would hold off just long enough for me to get a few decent pics. Which I did, just keep your eyes off the deck and ignore any leaves, muddy dog prints and chicken poo. There’s only so much I can edit out.

The Outdoor Kitchen Project

When we bought Holly Cottage in 2010 this is what this section of the garden looked like.

The outdoor kitchen before image of garden

Phase I – The Summerhouse

After a few failed Percy Thrower style gardening attempts I realised that it was never going to be more than a dark boggy area where nothing would grow. But on the plus side you get a great view of the fells from there so I just built a summerhouse on it.

Outdoor kitchen and nordic style summerhouse designed by Amelia Wilson

The summerhouse at Holly Cottage – photograph by Jeremy Phillips for Real Homes magazine

This also gave me the opportunity to give Mr W the bar I’d been promising him since we bought the house, especially since I’d turned the original planned location for said bar into a wetroom….

Outdoor kitchen and scandi style summerhouse designed by Amelia Wilson

The summerhouse at Holly Cottage – photography by Jeremy Phillips for Real Homes magazine

Now Mr W is retired and we both live in Cumbria we eat dinner together almost every night, and despite what you think about Cumbrian weather we do manage to eat outside quite a lot. Which is what led me to thinking about an outdoor kitchen. Originally it was going to be a simple cooking area on the patio behind the house with a pizza oven and space for BBQ’s. But then I had ‘duh’ moment, you know when you realise how dumb you’re being. I design internal kitchen, living, dining spaces for customers all the time, why not extend the deck outside the summerhouse and have all of this in my garden?

Phase II – The Outdoor Kitchen

So this was the extent of the deck before.

Nordic scandinavian summerhouse and outdoor kitchen designed by Amelia Wilson

Photograph by Jeremy Phillips for Real Homes magazine

….and this is it now

Outdoor kitchen living dining space designed by Amelia WilsonI did spend ages looking at gorgeous outdoor tiles and synthetic decking, but my budget just wouldn’t go there so traditional decking it was.

The Design

Now I don’t know about you but when we eat outside it always involves half a dozen trips back to the kitchen for things we’ve forgotten. So when I started planning this I just asked myself what I would have in a regular kitchen.

eMoodboard for outdoor kitchen

So we have an oven and two BBQ’s which means we can bake, roast, fry or grill pretty much anything. My step-daughters partner baked a mean dessert for us recently made from croissants, custard and cream. Bloody delicious. Email me if you want the recipe.

Outdoor kitchen living dining space with pizza oven designed by Amelia Wilson

The supplier of the pizza oven also supplied a stand for it. But it bore no resemblance whatsoever to the stand shown on their website and was quite frankly a piece of junk (I’m still trying to get my money back). So in collaboration with the landscapers Coombe & Sharpe we came up with a chunky rustic style stand made from sleepers.

Pizza oven in outdoor kitchen on stand made from rustic sleepers

A kitchen needs a sink and I found a huge Belfast sink in my local reclamation yard. It was very stained so I just tarted it up with a couple of coats of tile paint. The landscapers built me a stand to match the pizza oven stand, and Mr W added the tile splashback for me.

Sink in outdoor kitchen living dining space

The tap is fed from a water butt that collects rainwater from the roof, and drains into a ditch in the field behind the garden. We can’t drink the water but to be honest the sinks main purpose is to be a massive ice bucket for parties as we only have a small fridge in the summerhouse. But I can rinse stuff under the tap and water my plants using it so it has a few other uses.

Reclaimed belfast sink in outdoor kitchen

I probably put more thought into the fence than anything else. I wanted this to be an extension of the summerhouse structure, so the slats needed to be horizontal not vertical, and the same width as the horizontal planks that the summerhouse is made of so that it flowed. I also wanted gaps between the slats so I could hang stuff on it, and to let light through and glimpses of the greenery behind, while giving some protection against the rain but letting the wind through so it wouldn’t blow down. I won’t be painting the fence, I want it to weather so that it looks like silver birch. I wish I’d done that with the summerhouse and the original deck but hey ho you learn.

More importantly the fence is my kitchen cupboards and shelves with storage and containers for utensils, cutlery, plates, condiments and herbs.

Storage and hanging space in outdoor kitchen

Hell there’s even a magnetic knife rack.No more traipsing back to the kitchen for the bread knife just as you’re about to serve up the hot dogs…..

Utensil holders in outdoor kitchen

You can’t beat IKEA for kitchen paraphernalia. It’s all steel so it shouldn’t rust, but if it does it’s easily and cheaply replaced.

Hanging herb pots from IKEA in outdoor kitchenJust before I left London I was walking through the Kings Cross area on my way to an appointment when I came across this table on the pavement outside an office building next to a pile of rubbish bags. Long story short it was outside the Diesel HQ and this was an ex display table they were scrapping. A few smiles and a promise to return the next day with a vehicle and suddenly I was the owner of one very cool industrial style table. A bit of Hammerite and some outdoor varnish and voila one kitchen counter, or island since it can be moved.

Industrial style metal table in outdoor kitchen

I already had an outdoor dining table so I just moved this up to the deck in true open plan style so nobody has to leave the party to check on dinner.

Dining area in rustic outdoor kitchen

If it’s just the two of us there are also a couple of adirondack chairs for me and Mr W to have pre-dinner drinks. Above these is possibly my favourite thing in the outdoor kitchen – the huge industrial style outdoor mirror made specially for me by the lovely and very talented Ursh of Refunk’d. I love the way it reflects the garden so that it looks like a window.

Industrial style outdoor mirror made by Refunk'd for Amelia Wilson

Lighting

Obviously the sun is the main light source in an outdoor kitchen but this is a 24hr kitchen so we also have wall lights along the fence and the front of the summer house. There are deck lights all the way round the perimeter and on every step to prevent nocturnal accidents…. and these beautiful fairground lights which give off a surprising amount of light. I also have an abundance of candle lanterns.

Large garden mirror designed by Amelia Wilson and made by Refunk'd

Soft furnishings are what really makes an outdoor space look inviting, and in this part of the world you need a plentiful supply of throws and blankets if you want to use your space after the sun’s gone down. I also have a fire pit and a chimnea which we bring up onto the deck when it’s really chilly.

Soft furnishings in outdoor kitchen I’m still humming and haa’ing over outdoor rugs. I obviously want them but not sure how practical they are when I’ve got chickens and two dogs, and its where to store them when I’m not using them?? I do think the ‘living room’ looks a little bare without one though……

Lounge are in outdoor kitchen living dining space

And this was the reason I bought Holly Cottage – the view.

View from deck in outdoor kitchen living dining spaceSo what do you think, did I miss anything?

 

10 Things You Might Not Expect From An Interior Designer

I was at a BBQ recently on what I now realise was the only sunny day of the year, i.e. summer. A former colleague was asking me how things were going since I’d left the glamorous world of insurance *raises eyebrows* to become an interior designer. As I described a few projects and some of the challenges I’d been dealing with he started to develop a very confused look. In fact he looked a bit like the delicious Mark Wahlberg does here.

10 things you might not expect from an interior designer

At this point I should probably mention that he’s American. Now his nationality isn’t key to this story, although my northern accent has got a tad stronger since I moved to Cumbria so there’s a good chance this might have been the case. No, he was confused because it seems that in America an interior designer typically focuses on furniture and soft furnishings after all the other stuff has happened, you know like walls coming down or going up, pipes getting moved, rewiring, plastering etc. The stuff that takes up most of the money and that annoyingly none of your visitors appreciate when they come round for dinner when the skip has finally gone and the place no longer resembles a war zone. Apparently in America interior designers just get to do all of the nice stuff.

“I know Mark, that makes me pretty cross too”

I make no apologies for the shameless use of Mark Wahlbergs image. What’s not to like…

10 things you might not expect from an interior designer

So after a short period wondering if I should relocate, and then knocking that idea on the head because (a) really not loving Trump, and (b) really loving Cumbria I started to wonder if my fellow Brits were also in the dark as to how much we can do. Does the average Joe or Jo really think we are just cushion scatterers? This horrifying thought compelled me to compile a list of “10 things you might not expect from an interior designer. So here goes.

Ten Things You Might Not Expect From An Interior Designer

1. Planning applications

If your house is listed or you want to add something big, high or unusual (I’m summarizing obviously) you are probably going to need planning permission. This means submitting scale plans and drawings which normally has people immediately googling ‘local architect’. But if what you are doing is straightforward then this might be something your interior designer could do and save you a bit of money. I recently completed a Listed Building Consent application for this Grade II* listed property that included site plans, elevations and a complete design and heritage statement. Not bad for a cushion scatterer eh? And yes it got approved.

The Crescent at Lowther Village near Penrith

The Crescent at Lowther Village near Penrith – work underway and expected to complete September 2017

2. Moving your meter

Sods law states that if you want a new ground floor wet room it’s likely to be where your electricity meter is. Or maybe I’m just unlucky as this has happened to me on more than one occasion. Gas and electricity meters can only be moved by the utility company, and you usually have to submit scale plans showing where the meter is now and where you’d like it to go. The utility company are used to dealing with third party applicants, and your interior designer will already have drawn plans showing you what your fancy new wet room is going to look like, so dealing with the utility company is no big shakes.

Interior Design Blog - large wet room designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

My wet room once an adjoining outbuilding and home to my electricity meter

3. Organising a structural engineer

Structural engineers must love the trend for open plan interiors and flowing indoor outdoor spaces ‘cos where there’s a supporting wall you might just need a structural engineer. Most interior designers will see stuff like this all the time so will likely know a good engineer, by which I mean one that knows their stuff, doesn’t charge an arm and a leg and knows the local planners so can advise on best approach to getting your plans approved. Hell we might even be able to jump the queue for you as the good ones will (or should) be busy.

Interior Design Blog - moodboards for open plan kitchen living dining space

A structural engineer was brought in to advise on this open plan kitchen, living, dining space I recently designed

4. Tech advice

When I’m designing kitchens and bathrooms my customers often want advice on appliances and fittings in terms of spec, quality and price. This is of course something they can research themselves, but often don’t have the time. And as interior designers we have experience from previous projects and insight from customers, suppliers and trades that we can share. Online reviews are great but you can’t beat feedback from people you know. We don’t just advise on the pretty stuff ya’ know.

Interior Design Blog

One of the kitchens I designed for Cockermouth Kitchens new showroom – a supplier I regularly go to for appliance advice

5. Waiting in for deliveries

As an interior designer I spend a lot of time looking for unique items and bargains for my customers, and when I find ‘em I buy ‘em quick before they’re gone. I work from home so it’s easy to have customer goods delivered to me and I just store them until we’re ready for them. Not so easy for things like sofas and appliances but if the customer can’t be home for the delivery then I just take my Macbook and work from theirs until it arrives. All part of the service people.

Interior Design Blog

Thankfully no shots of me accepting deliveries from DPD so you’ll have to make do with this random image…

6. Cleaning your house

Bet you weren’t expecting this one were you? One of the things I can organise for customers is a big clean after the messy work has finished. Claire and her team are so good that this has led to a permanent arrangement for some customers. I know not everyone can afford a cleaner but once you’ve had Claire & Co clean your house you realise how poor your own attempts at cleaning were. And there’s nothing better than someone else magically making all that plaster dust disappear.

Interior Design Blog

A recent TV room project – Claire & Co came in to clean up after the builders had left and are now regular visitors

7. Stocking your cupboards

Now I’m not saying we’ll do your regular Friday big shop, but if you want to do a complete out with the old and in with the new then we can help with more than just the decorative stuff. I’m currently working on a 3 bed holiday let and second home and I’ve bought the crockery for the kitchen, the handwash for the bathrooms, the bulbs for all the lights and the logs for the fire. Literally everything including the kitchen sink.

Interior Design Blog

A recent budget bathroom project where I supplied everything from the bathmat to the bath foam

8. Restoring furniture

Before I became an interior designer I took a number of upholstery and furniture restoration courses, and I love finding old pieces with character and giving them a bit of TLC. This is also something I’ve done for customers and I know other designers who don’t mind getting their hands dirty in pursuit of your dream home.

Interior Design Blog

I bought this chair for £3 from a charity shop and reupholstered it myself

9. Selling your old furniture

I hate to see things go to the tip. Where I can I work with customers to rehome their old kitchens, bathrooms and furniture. This can mean sticking stuff on eBay for them, or taking it to the local auctioneers or charity shop. I’ve even sold their unwanted items to other customers. This customer may have a beautiful new bath but my next door neighbour bought and painted her old one so she has a spanking new bathroom too.

Interior Design Blog

Bathroom I designed in 2016 which was featured in Real Homes magazine. Photograph by Jeremy Phillips

10.Counselling and mediation

This is obviously a little tongue in cheek but a good interior designer also needs a good dose of emotional intelligence. Even good change can be very stressful for people, particularly when it involves spending what will feel like large sums of money. Just because a customer has a small budget doesn’t mean it isn’t a lot of money for them. This means being sensitive to this, managing their expectations and not rushing them into decisions. Similarly couples don’t always agree on plans and a little practical mediation can help them reach agreement. Remember the red versus green dining room?

Interior Design Blog

Moodboard for the red dining room project. The final decision on colour was based on how well the Christmas tree would stand out…..

So out of 10 how did you score? Many surprises?

The Inappropriately Named Snug & The Big TV Challenge

Never before has a room been so inappropriately named as this snug which my customers use as a TV room. At over 25 square metres it’s bigger than somewhere a London estate agent once tried to flog me as a one bedroom flat.

It’s the second room I’ve decorated for my customers. Our first project was their Ginormous Living Room – click the link if you want to pop back and take a look. It was a major transformation and they loved the final result which set high expectations for round two. I needed to come up with something at least as fabulous, preferably better and I think I rose to the challenge but I’ll let you be the judge. Ready for some before pics?

The Snug – Before

Their TV room was originally the garage but the previous owners who built the house later decided they needed an extra living space and converted it. God knows what they were using the ginormous living room for. Tennis court? Ballroom? Seriously pop back and take a look it’s big enough.

TV room - before image of the snug designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

And if you did take a look you’ll know that the previous owners were also fans of a fake beam or two. They managed to squeeze three more in here, along with a staircase that we think came out of a church. It also had a strange laminate floor and carpet combo going on.

TV room - before image of the snug designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Those stairs lead up to the loft space where there is another fabulous fake beam and some badly designed storage. Lets not discuss the carpet, wallpaper and curtains – all the previous owners doing.

TV room - before image of the snug designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The previous owners also liked to cut corners and didn’t bother moving the electricity meter, they just hid it behind an oddly shaped cupboard….. and a darts board.

TV room - before image of the snug designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The Big TV Challenge

When I design living rooms I usually try to hide the TV, or at least make it blend into the background. But if you have a room that’s main purpose is for watching TV in you’re allowed to give it a little more stage presence. However, a lot of TV stands are ugly, even the expensive ones, and they don’t always hide all the wires. The other issue is size. You need to fill the wall that the TV sits against with ‘stuff’ so it doesn’t look lost. Here’s some approaches I’ve taken.

1. Incorporate the TV into a wall of storage and/or artwork

TV room media room solutions for TV storage in a living room

Image from AVSO.ORG

Storage doesn’t need to be purpose built like this as I know that can be expensive, a TV stand or cupboard with some well placed floating shelves and/or artwork will do the trick.TV room media room solutions for TV storage in a living room

Image via Pinterest

2. Make the wall behind the TV the feature

I recently tiled a wall like the image below and used concealed lighting to pick out the contours. I’ll show you some pics of my own project just as soon as their new TV stand arrives. The current one is not pretty enough for pics…..

TV room media room solutions for TV storage in a living room

Image via Pinterest

3. Use a false wall

The false wall can either be a feature in itself like the image below where the TV and media equipment are mounted on cladding.TV room media room solutions for TV storage in a living room

Image via Pinterest

Or the false wall can look like a chimney breast or run the length of the room with the TV and media equipment buried in it. This approach works well when you want a more minimalistic look so that the emphasis is on other elements in the room. I love the image below but I’m not convinced you should have a TV above a fire.

TV room media room solutions for TV storage in a living room

Image via Pinterest

The Plan

So back to the snug.


Moodboard for plush modern country TV room with blue velvet sofa, grey and white decor and grey plaid wallpaper and chrome accessories

I wanted to carry some of that modern country look through from the living room for continuity but add a touch more luxury. This translated to a scheme that includes a plush velvet sofa and grey plaid wallpaper (I can’t call it tartan without thinking of the Krankies).

So are you ready?

The Snug – Final Reveal

Grey TV room with blue velvet sofa media wall and plaid wallpaper

Plush modern country style TV room with blue velvet sofa tartan wallpaper grey walls

When my customer told me she quite fancied a velvet sofa my heart practically skipped a beat. Many of my customers have dogs and/or small children so velvet (especially deep buttoned) is a big no no. And although my customers have both a dog and a small child they also have the aforementioned ginormous living room, which they can use when everyone isn’t as clean as they should be. So we could make this room a bit more grown up and sophisticated. Bring it on!

Media wall in grey TV room with wall mounted concealed TV and concealed lighting

The focal point is obviously the new media wall. The gas fire has gone and a new stud wall has been built to resemble a chimney breast so that we could wallpaper the alcoves either side. This gives the whole wall interest so it’s not just about the TV. The shelves below the TV are big enough to accommodate the current media equipment and any future equipment the customers might want, and there is concealed lighting along the top to give just the right amount of light for late night movie watching.Grey tartan wallpaper in TV room with white tray table and white framed artwork

The wallpaper adds a posh country hotel vibe doesn’t it, and it was only £10 a roll……

The side table tops come off and can be used as trays so you have somewhere for your wine and popcorn when you’re watching a movie.

Chrome tripod floor lamp with grey shade grey plaid wallpaper in TV room

My customers are a VERY photogenic family and had loads of lovely pics I could use as artwork. The black and white prints and simple white frames look lovely against the wallpaper, and we hung the pictures high to make the walls seem longer.

The chrome tripod floor lamp is part of a set which includes a matching table lamp. They were another billy bargain at £50 for the pair from B&Q. 

The large admiral blue deep buttoned velvet sofa and matching ottoman with storage is from Next. There was room for two sofas or a sofa and armchair combo but frankly the homeowners sit in here to watch TV so one large sofa means everyone is facing in the right direction.

You remember the rule about area rugs right? Buy the biggest you can afford, preferably one that is wider than the sofa so it doesn’t look lost. This plush deep pile one is from IKEA, because it’s multiple shades of blue it contrasts with the carpet but doesn’t clash with the sofa. Perfect.

Grey tartan wallpaper grey walls and white woodwork in modern country style TV media room

We papered the wall behind the sofa so that side of the room didn’t look bare. The dark wood doors were replaced with white 6 panel ones to match the rest of the house and all the woodwork was painted white, including the new under-stairs storage (with push to open fittings so it doesn’t look like cupboards), and the new cupboard that houses the electricity meter.

White painted staircase with square newel post in grey and white TV room with grey carpet

Replacing the staircase wasn’t an option, or necessary to be honest so we just replaced the newel post with a more contemporary square one, and the new grey carpet carries up the stairs into the space which will become an office, right now it’s just a nicely decorated box with lots more new storage space – see.

New office space with additional storage in loft space above TV room with grey and white decor

Most of the budget had to go on things you probably can’t appreciate like getting all the radiator pipes chased in, sorting out the lighting and plug sockets and boarding and plastering the ceiling. But there was enough for a simple console table behind the sofa and a few more framed family photos.

Grey tartan wallpaper white console table white gallery wall in TV room

I toyed with the idea of floor to ceiling curtains to make the ceiling seem higher but because of the position of the radiators roman blinds made more sense (curtains would block heat from the room in winter), and to be honest blinds look more contemporary. They are a pale grey felt like material and couple of shades darker than the walls. They just add a little more texture to the room without competing with the sofa.
Pale grey felt roman blinds in grey and white TV room designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

A couple more pineapple accessories and we’re done. What do you think?Chrome pineapple candlesticks from Next in grey and white modern country style TV living room designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

 

 

The Mill at Ulverston

Us Brits love a good pub but often for different reasons. For Mr W it’s always about the beer. When we lived in Leeds he used to drag me to this godawful place with a sticky floor and customers that resembled the cast of The Hobbit because he swore the beer was the best in Yorkshire.  His new favourite haunt is The Swan Inn in Cockermouth which I worked on last year, and which he says serves the best pint in Cumbria.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Kirkgate Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd Joe Fagan

The Swan Inn, Cockermouth

For me a good pub has to have character. I want to see unusual features or something different in the deco that will spark one of those ‘ooh I like those lights’ kind of conversations. The kind of conversations Mr W just loves. Just like I love our chats about Leeds Uniteds chance of promotion this year…..

I like a pub where there are plenty of things to look at when me and Mr W are enjoying a comfortable silence. While he’s fantasising about Leeds Utd winning trophies I sit there mentally filing all the ideas I like for future projects and silently slagging off critiquing those I don’t. So I was very excited when the owner of The Mill at Ulverston got in touch after seeing what I’d done at The Swan Inn. Here  was another chance to create the kind of eye catching details I look for when I go in a new pub, and to be honest The Mill already had lots of interesting original features to look at, they just weren’t making the most of them. So are you ready for a few before and afters?  I make no apologies for the number of pics – there’s lots to show you.

The Mill at Ulverston

The Mill at Ulverston Gastropub Cumbria Steven Doherty Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The Mill at Ulverston

The Mill was originally one of Ulverston’s flour mills and parts of this grade II listed building date back to the 12th century. It was refurbished in 2009 but the interior was looking more than a little tired and the owner wanted to give it a makeover as part of a larger programme of investment, which included bringing in multi award winning chef Steven Doherty as their new Executive Consultant Chef. I won’t lie the menu was very uninspiring when I first visited The Mill but now the food alone is a reason to visit. But anyway back to the decor….

The Mill at Ulverston, Gastropub, interior design by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The main bar before the refurbishment

Faux leather chairs, cheap lighting and bare windows. Pretty bland eh?

The Brief & The Plan

The owner wanted The Mill to look like the gastropub he was planning to turn it into – a little bit traditional, a little bit modern and a little bit quirky. But not too different as the customers liked the original features, and I’ve found that in any pub regulars never like too much change. So I talked with the staff and (purely in the interest of research) spent a Friday night in the bar checking out and chatting to the customers. I then came up with a plan. The new interior would have a more industrial/vintage look by using metal, wood, leather and wool in the décor that would link it to the history of Ulverston, and its industrial and agricultural heritage. We would maximise the original waterwheel feature by improving the lighting and surrounding area, and introduce new decorative features based around the history of Ulverston and famous Ulverstonians. Intrigued?

Mood board for the main bar in The Mill at Ulverston gastropub in Cumbria

Mood board for the main bar

The Restaurant at The Mill

So lets start here shall we? The restaurant had loads of great features already, a high ceiling, original beams, exposed stone walls, beautiful windows and a great wood floor but it was very cold looking and to be honest a tad boring.

The Mill at Ulverston gastropub Cumbria

The Restaurant at The Mill before the refurbishment

But not anymore.

Restaurant at The Mill at Ulverston gastropub Cumbria interior design by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The Restaurant at The Mill at Ulverston – the new tan leather chairs and wool roman blinds instantly add colour and warmth

A big room needs big lighting so we replaced the chintzy chandeliers with large black metal orb lights and added matching rope and metal wall lights.

8-light metal orb chandeliers from Wayfair

8-light metal orb chandeliers from Wayfair

The Mill at Ulverston - rope and black metal candle wall lights from Homary

Rope and black metal candle wall lights from Homary

The combination of metal and rope really works in this industrial space but the lights are still ‘glam’ enough for the kind of restaurant this was going to be.

Restaurant at The Mill at Ulverston gastropub Cumbria interior design by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The restaurant at The Mill at Ulverston

There is a long wall on one side of the restaurant and the owner desperately wanted something doing with it but didn’t know what. I came up with two ideas;

  1. Have wallpaper made up of an old local ordnance survey map
  2. Ssuspend’ large industrial style mirrors from rope

I was a little stumped when he said yes to both. But when we got the wallpaper up we all agreed covering it with mirrors would be a mistake so we stuck with the wallpaper. It was made by a company called Redcliffe Imaging who were great at helping me work out what area to include. and how to best position the town name.

Restaurant at The Mill at Ulverston gastropub in Cumbria interior design by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Ordnance survey map wallpaper

Restaurant at The Mill at Ulverston gastropub in Cumbria interior design by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The metal and rope wall lights look great against the old map wallpaper

We still managed to incorporate my suspended mirror idea but just hung one on the wall opposite. The mirror is fixed to the wall but we used rope and hooks to make it appear suspended from the ceiling.

Industrial mirrors and lighting in the restaurant at The Mill at Ulverston gastropub in Cumbria interior design by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Industrial mirror from Maisons du Monde ‘suspended’ from the ceiling

Throughout the building I’ve added quotes from famous Ulverstonians and the one in the restaurant is my favourite. They were made for me by Wallboss who also made the wall stickers for The Swan.

The Ground Floor

The room behind the main bar on the ground floor  has always been a favourite with families and locals who want somewhere a little quieter to sit. The problem was it was a bit too dark and very stark looking – see? (Make note of that wall clock….)

The Bistro at The Mill in Ulverston before the refurbishment by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The Bistro at The Mill before the refurbishment

Looks a little more inviting now me thinks.

The Bistro at The Mill at Ulverston gastropub in Cumbria interior design by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The newly refurbished Bistro at The Mill

These new wall lights made a big difference, much brighter, and we added a couple more in the darker spots.

New industrial lighting at the mill in Ulverston

Industrial style antique bronze and clear globe wall lights from eBay

The wall clock is gone and in its place is a collection of vintage beer bottles in lighted alcoves. This false wall with recesses was easy to create and it instantly draws your eye when you walk into the room.  The wall panelling on the lower half of the walls was something the owner really wanted, and painting it a darker colour breaks up the walls.

Feature walls at The Mill at Ulverston gastropub in Cumbria interior design by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

New feature walls

Next to this we added a butchers paper roll for specials and re-hung some of their old prints with a few other items including mirrors, a couple of barometers and an alarm clock to add more interest.

Feature walls at The Mill at Ulverston gastropub in Cumbria interior design by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Butchers pall roll for daily specials

Feature wall clock in The Mill at Ulverston gastropub in Cumbria interior design by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The new wall clock – though I think it’s only a matter of time before some joker decides to set the alarm….

There was nothing wrong with the tables and chairs in here but we did reupholster the seats in a mix of tartan wool fabrics, again from Abraham Moon.  FYI I had big plans to make more of a feature of that fireplace but we ran out of time and budget.

The Mill at Ulverston wood burning stove gastro pub in Cumbria

The vintage road sign above the fireplace was from Etsy

The Cask Bar

A long corridor connects the room above to the Cask Bar at the front of The Mill and this is what it used to look like.

The Mill at Ulverston

Corridor linking the ground floor rooms at The Mill

When I was doing my research it struck me how many interesting things had happened in Ulverston, which is what led to the idea of creating a timeline of events. I had sleepless nights worrying I’d got the dimensions (and the facts) wrong and that it wouldn’t fit round the new lights, and I had quite an audience when I was installing it as every customer who visited the loo had a read over my shoulder. But it looks fab and has created a real talking point. Apologies for the first pic – it’s impossible to get a good picture without the lights on.

Timeline of historic events at The Mill in Ulverston

Timeline of historic events in Ulverston

All the new lights in The Mill are industrial or vintage in style but we made a point of using different lighting in each area to make it more interesting. We used these Brinley wall lights and the matching pendants in the Cask Bar.

The Mill at Ulverston - Antique bronze Brinley wall lights by Elstead and supplied by Limelighting in Cockermouth

Antique bronze Brinley wall lights by Elstead and supplied by Limelighting in Cockermouth

So now we’re in the main bar I have to show you some more before and after pics just to highlight the difference. Lets start by the fire.

The Mill at Ulverston gastropub Cumbria

The fireside in the Cask Bar before the refurbishment

…and now look at it.

The Mill at Ulverston gastropub Cumbria

The fireside in the Cask Bar after the refurbishment

The whole bar is just so much more inviting.

The Mill at Ulverston gastropub Cumbria

The Cask Bar after the refurbishment

I also suggested a future money saving idea which the owner liked. They used to spend a fortune  on candles, but I found these faux pillar candles which hold a tea light so instead of paying £1 or more for a candle which would last 2 nights at best they would pay pennies for tea lights. Genius eh? They’re from a company called Greige if you’re interested.

Candle lanterns on the window ledge and faux pillar candles for tealights supplied by Griege

The area of the bar I’m particularly pleased with is the snug behind the stove, which used to be very bare.

The Mill at Ulverston gastropub Cumbria

The snug before the refurbishment

It’s now uber cosy and a little bit edgy with it’s industrial mirror, rise and fall pendants and gallery wall. Those dark walls are painted in Farrow & Ball Salon Drab, and we used Valspar Earthy Beige where we needed to go a little lighter.

The Mill at Ulverston gastropub Cumbria

The snug after the refurbishment

So what do you think? Could this be your kind of pub?

I’m going to leave you with a final quote from another famous Ulverstonian, Mr Stan Laurel. If you want to see which other celebs were born in Ulverston you’ll have to pop in.

The Mill at Ulverston gastropub Cumbria wall stickers by Wallboss

One of the quotes from famous Ulverstonians to be found on the walls at The Mill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

House Viagra

As an interior designer I believe the relationships we have with our homes are no different to the relationships we have with our partners in some respects. They are rarely perfect, and always involve compromise. At Holly Cottage I traded lack of natural light for space, character and garden. Obviously Mr W is perfect…..as well as a reader of my blog *slaps leg and chuckles at her own wit*

Interior Designer: Holly Cottage Asby Georgian cottage built in 1756

Holly Cottage

And like our personal relationships, sometimes we neglect them. We get complacent. Treats don’t need to be expensive but we stop making an effort. And if this goes on for too long we forget what we fell in love with and start noticing every flaw. And sadly in both cases this can lead us to Rightmove.

The role of the Interior Designer

An interior designer wears many hats, a fellow interior designer once referred to us as ‘project managers and problem solvers with taste’ which about sums it up. But what a good interior designer can also do is make you fall in love with your home again. We’re like new buyers when we walk into your homes, but the kind that can see potential. That fresh pair of eyes and the ability to see what could be achieved is worth its weight in gold. Mr W would never have bought Holly Cottage if I hadn’t a hissy fit. I know, so unlike me….

Before and after images Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd Interior Designer

The workshop that was attached to our home when we bought it

Before and after images from Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

The wet room which is now accessed through the house. I kept the external door so we can access it from the garden when we have muddy dogs and BBQ’s

And just to blow my own trumpet for a second, I am told I have a hugely infectious positive can-do attitude. You see gloomy 1980’s kitchen….

Before and after images for a kitchen makeover by Amelia Wilson Interior Designer

Before image of from one of my first projects

I see the smart modern shaker style kitchen you’ve dreamed about with space for the downstairs loo you’ve always wanted.

Before and after images from kitchen makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd Interior Designer

The homeowners new kitchen with utility area and downstairs cloakroom

I’m a whirlwind of positive energy that will practically force you to fall in love with your home again. Remember that poky dark guest bedroom you had?

Before and after images from bedroom makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

Poky dark guest bedroom I was asked to update

A distant memory since I turned it into a second sitting room overlooking the fields behind your house, with a sofa bed for guests and a new dressing area for you.

Before and after images from bedroom makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

New guest bedroom

Before and after images from bedroom makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

The dressing room area

If I had a theme tune it would be Take That’s ‘Re-light my fire’. You complain about lack of wardrobe space in your bedroom and can’t see a solution that doesn’t involve swapping your marital kingsize bed for bunk beds…

Before and after images from bedroom makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

Cramped corner wardrobes in an early bedroom project

I suggest we steal 60cm from the room next door and double your hanging space and save your marriage. You see unsurmountable problems. I show you the light at the end of the tunnel.

Before and after images from bedroom makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

New wardrobes

When I bought Holly Cottage the kitchen lacked storage and worktop space and had this huge void in the centre of the room.

Before and after images from kitchen makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

The kitchen when I bought Holly Cottage

So I built out the chimney breast and knocked a hole in it big enough for a new range cooker and added an island. Well I didn’t personally but you know what I mean.

Striking inframe shaker kitchen in Farrow & Ball Rectory Red and Ringwold Ground by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

My pride and joy the new kitchen at Holly Cottage, very on-trend now with it’s bold Rectory Red cupboard doors.

You see a reason to move.

Before and after images from a bathroom makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

Dated bathroom with poky leaking shower

I show you why you should stay. I’m like Viagra for the house.

Monochrome bathroom with black and white metro tiles and hexagonal mosaic floor tiles by Amelia Wilson Interior Designer

Beautiful new monochrome bathroom – try and ignore the wonky shower head, I was still learning about room styling and I didn’t notice this when I took the picture!

Got time for a couple more before and afters?

Before and after images from living room makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

Tired living room

Before and after images from living room makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

Elegant lounge after a little Amelia Wilson attention

Go on, one more since you asked so nicely..

Before and after images from bedroom makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

Bedroom in desperate need of some TLC

Glamorous pink gold and black bedroom after makeover by Amelia Wilson Interiors Interior Designer

Glamorous crash pad for its glamorous owner

So if you’ve fallen out of love with your home and can’t see any way of getting it back don’t despair, get in touch and I’ll help you put the fire back into your relationship.

Amelia Wilson, Interior Designer and Passion Reigniter!

 

 

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.

The Georgian Bedroom – A Period Drama

The owner of this Georgian bedroom, well part owner, is a writer of romantic fiction. Which is compelling me to make my writing style a little more poetic than usual. We finished her master bedroom last year and now have some very dramatic before and afters to show you. So brace yourself for a slightly steamy ‘tongue in cheek’ literary themed post. Hell I might even throw in a few phrases and adjectives more suited to a Mills & Boon novel. Well why not it’s got your interest hasn’t it?

The Backstory

Flashback to the master bedroom of a beautiful old Georgian farm cottage in the wilds of West Cumbria. It was a little neglected, and (due to lack of storage space) more dishevelled than the farmers daughter after a tumble in the hay with the young farm hand. Quite frankly a tall dark handsome stranger could have lurked mysteriously in a corner for quite some time before being noticed such was the homeowners need for hanging space…..

Our heroine a romance novelist and hardworking mother of two longed for a beautiful bedroom. One without woodchip wallpaper and worn carpet, and perhaps, dare she dream fitted wardrobes and even some decent lighting. But where to start?

Her husband, a public servant with smouldering good looks (you’re very welcome Ian), also dreamt of a place with plentiful hanging space. But he had his hands full with other important stuff. And so the days came and went and their bedroom remained cluttered.

Then one day our heroine was driving down a winding country lane. The rain pounded against the windows and the wind buffeted her little car from side to side between the hedgerows. As she turned into the village she heard an advert on the radio for Amelia Wilson, an interior designer and project manager. Misty eyed she looked into the rear view mirror and clutching her ample bosom with one hand (remember she’s driving) she asked herself, could this be the answer to my prayers? Is there really a person out there who could turn my dreams into reality and organise all the work? Quickly, before she rear ended the tractor in front of her, our heroine returned her eyes to the road (and her hand to the wheel) and drove home, where she immediately sat down and googled Amelia.

Well that is after she had unpacked the shopping, made tea, bathed and put the kids to bed and done two loads of washing.

The plot

Fast forward two weeks and our heroine and designer meet and the designer goes away to form a plan for a Georgian bedroom. Finding inspiration in the heroines treasured bedspread she decides on a colour scheme of sage green and ivory with accents of royal blue. There would be a mixture of antique and newer pieces of furniture, with some subtle florals and vintage accessories. The focal point however would be the new fitted wardrobes, wardrobes fit for a king. The designer returns and shows the plan to the heroine and her dashing husband. They make one child friendly modification (no cloches….), and remove the botanical prints in order to appease the dashing husband, and then agree to get started.

They all agreed that a Georgian bedroom required Georgian style wardrobes…. Enter our knight in shining armour Kevin with his trusty squire Dean. Together in a very manly way with lots of sweat and power tools they rip out the existing cupboard and install custom made wall to wall wardrobes with Georgian style panelled doors and ornate plinths and cornice. The wardrobes are broken up by two large bookcases providing a home for our heroines many books, and have cleverly concealed storage space behind them. Perfect for hiding the childrens Christmas presents.

And they didn’t stop there, Kevin also made Georgian style panels to match the wardrobe doors for either side of the window, replacing what would have been there originally, and restrung the sash windows so they glided open once more.

Cue dramatic music as Sandy the electrician arrives on the scene…..Disaster has struck. The antique bag chandelier which has come all the way from France needs re-wiring, despite the Etsy seller telling the designer that it would be wired for use in the UK. But Sandy is also a knight in shining armour and just rewires it. Problem solved.

But the plot thickens, Kevin and Sandy aren’t the only knights competing for ‘best tradesman in West Cumbria’. Enter Michael Fulton Professional Painter & Decorator. He comes up with an ingenious solution to the woodchip in our heroines bedroom. He sees no need to strip *pause for effect* He avoids costly plastering and copious amounts of dust by lining the walls with thick lining paper. Leaving the walls as smooth as a young maidens skin and ready for painting. And paint them he does, along with the ceiling, wardrobes, windows and the antique pine coloured bed.

While all this is happening the heroines new bedroom chair arrives. The box it comes in is so big the dashing husband rolls up his sleeves and with the aid of scissors and packing tape turns it into a playhouse, earning himself and our heroine a much needed break while their young children entertain themselves with their new toy.

Last to arrive on the scene are the fitters from Tony Roberts Carpets Direct. After much sucking of teeth at the weight of the enormous carpet and the bed which could not be moved out of the bedroom they lay the new underlay and carpet.

Then in a last minute twist Kevin has to return to fit the curtain pole and hang the mirror. For as dashing as our heroines husband is he does not posses the tools (nor the patience I suspect) to get screws to stay in the thick stone walls of their Georgian cottage. So Kevin arrives, he fits, he hangs, and he leaves and suddenly the house is quiet……

The Finale

The curtains have been hung, the lamps lit, all their clothes have been unpacked and put away in the new wardrobes, and books have been placed on the bookshelves. The Georgian bedroom is finished.

And it is beautiful.

The wall colour is Muted Sage by Dulux. We used Dulux Endurance which is scrubbable so it doesn’t matter if our heroines little cherubs draw on the walls…. The woodwork has been painted an off-white called Wild Mushroom by Valspar. Both colours work beautifully with our heroines treasured bedspread.

Georgian Bedroom designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The new wardrobes are a triumph. The door handles were salvaged from their old dresser before it was taken away and inside there is hanging space galore, shelves for folded items and storage baskets for smalls. Full length mirrors line the centre doors and as our heroine has never had a full length mirror in this room she is beside herself with joy.

Georgian Bedroom designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

They have a new antique bedding box, sourced from an Aladdin’s cave of antique and vintage treasure in Manchester and just given a good clean and polish.

Georgian Bedroom designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The newly re-wired antique bag chandelier casts sparkly light all over the bedroom and adds a touch of glamour.

Antique bag chandelier in Georgian bedroom designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

….and they have a new pair of antique brass touch lamps on their nightstands. Apparently touch lights are a godsend when a child shouts for you in the middle of the night – no fumbling around looking for the switch. Notice how the radiator has been painted to blend in to the walls?

And yes I know the bedsides don’t match. Where’s the rule that says they need to? The husband liked his old one and I sourced a secondhand one for our heroine. Everyone’s happy.

Georgian Bedroom designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The utterly gorgeous blue velvet chair is the only ‘new’ piece of furniture and is from Atkin & Thyme. Unfortunately the cats are fans too… The floor lamp and side table are more of my antique finds and the green floral curtains are a Dunelm bargain which we had shortened. Just look at that lovely new panelling around the windows, you’d think it was original.

Georgian Bedroom designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

They already had the antique bureau, and the vintage mirror and wash bowl and pitcher set were charity shop finds. But I’ll let you in to a little styling secret. The bowl and pitcher set used to live on my bedroom windowsill and only came along as a prop for the photographs, but the heroine fell in love with them so I left them behind. I’m good like that.

Georgian bedroom with antique furniture and vintage accessories designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

So our story has come to an end and all that is left to tell you is that our heroine and her dashing husband love their beautiful new boudoir, with its relaxing colour scheme, bountiful storage, and acres of clutter free floor space. The only ones pouting now are the cats as I’ve taken away all their hiding places. But other than that they all lived happily ever after.

The End.

What would be in your dream bathroom?

I would bet that most people have a dream bathroom, by which I mean a wish list in their head. Nobody I know actually has their dream bathroom. At best they probably have one they quite like but wish it was a little bit bigger.

My dream bathroom would be large (obviously – whose wouldn’t) and feel very natural and outdoorsy. It would have a heated stone floor and an amazing completely private view of water; ocean, river, lake, large stream…..I’m not fussy. I’d have an enormous freestanding bath and walk in shower, and bifold doors which I could open when it was warm enough. There’d be hidden storage for all my towels and toiletries so the bathroom would always look spotless. I’d have lots of different lighting all of it dimmable and it would always be warm. Oh and there’d be a big chaise by the window for me to lounge on admiring the view and painting my nails. FYI my dream bathroom also comes with a dream life where I have time to lounge on a chaise painting my nails. This bathroom would do….

Dream bathroom - freestanding bath facing bifold doors and a river view

Image from ‘Top 10 Beautiful Bathroom Views’ by Maison Valentina

Or this one…

Dream bathroom - sunken bath with ocean view

Image from ‘Top 10 Beautiful Bathroom Views’ by Maison Valentina

Thankfully most of my customers have simpler needs so I’m sorry if I’ve lured you here under false pretences but this post isn’t about dream bathrooms, it’s about reality and meeting a brief.

The Brief

I recently completed a project for lovely couple who had a short but clear list of requirements. Like most bathrooms I work on their old one was very dated. If it had been longer it could have doubled as a bowling alley as the floor was a good 2 inches lower on one side, and it creaked like my dodgy runners knees. It also had a wonky flimsy partition wall at one end, poor lighting, old fixtures, and dated decor. My customers wanted a bathroom that was:

  1. Easy to clean
  2. Had good storage
  3. Was light but not sterile looking
  4. Was simple in style, nothing fussy

It is only a small bathroom and we needed to avoid layout changes because we couldn’t move the waste pipes. I won’t bore you with why – just trust me everything had to stay put. They wanted to keep a bath and a bidet, but we could lose the electric shower over the bath as they had a separate shower room downstairs. Their only other request was for a vinyl floor as like many of my older customers they find it warmer underfoot than tiles. The rest was up to me.

The plan

Bathrooms are hard to clean because of the nooks and crannies behind the sink and toilet. The easiest way to deal with this issue is to house your fittings in furniture. So my plan included a vanity unit with integrated sink, and back to wall toilet and bidet with the cisterns housed in units to match the vanity. To make the bathroom feel bigger I suggested that we re-hang the door to open the opposite way so that you didn’t have to step around it when you entered the bathroom. The old bathroom suite was a very 80’s shade of peach and the new bath, toilet and bidet were going to be white so to keep it warm looking I chose a colour scheme of pale greys and soft pinks.

Dream bathroom - colour scheme for bathroom project completed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The Final Reveal

Before I show you any pics I’m going to apologise for the photo quality, it’s a small room with limited natural light and I’m an interior designer not David Bailey so bear with me. Now get ready for a before pic of the worlds smallest sink and some ugly exposed pipework…..

Dream bathroom - peach bathroom suite in before image

and after…

Dream bathroom - cashmere vanity unit in compact bathroom

Moving the radiator created space for a vanity with a larger sink than they had before. Their house is actually two houses knocked together so there is a chimney breast at the end of the bath which can’t be moved. Boxing this in gave us a ledge behind the bath for shampoo bottles, and increased the counter space next to the sink – ideal for toothbrushes etc. Please ignore the reflection from the mirror, I couldn’t for the life of me take a photo without this or edit it out….

Dream bathroom - cashmere vanity unit with increased counter space

Their bathroom is roughly 2m x 2m and their old corner bath took up about a quarter of the space.

Dream bathroom - peach corner bath in before image

My customers are concerned about their future mobility so their new bath has grip handles to help them get in and out when they start needing a little help. They have a handheld shower for rinsing the bath out, and we used large white tiles around the bath and sink and up over the windowsill which would be easy to keep clean.

Dream bathroom - bath with grip handles

The old layout had more nooks and crannies than should have been physically possible in such a compact bathroom.

Dream bathroom - nooks and crannies in before image

To solve the problem we filled the space between the bath and the wall with additional cupboards which also increased the storage space. They have a new Aquablade rimless toilet which practically cleans itself. The rimless design pushes water all around the bowl to just below seat level and uses less water so is more efficient than a regular toilet.

Dream bathroom - back to wall toilet and bidet in cashmere furniture

We replaced the old radiator with a large dual fuel heated towel radiator so they can dry towels in the summer when the heating is off. The vertical column style meant it would fit between the toilet and the door which gave us the space needed for the vanity unit. We replaced the ceiling spotlights with LED’s and added an additional spotlight over the vanity unit.

Dream bathroom - dual fuel towel radiator

The furniture colour is ‘cashmere’ which is pale grey with a hint of pink. It works really well with the pale grey vinyl flooring which is called Lisbon and is from the Ultragrip Buzz range by Beauflor. To lift the colour in the room the walls are painted ‘Cashmere Blush’ by Valspar, and dusky pink towels add a splash more colour and warmth.

It’s a very bijou bathroom room so I’d be kidding myself if I thought this was actually their dream bathroom, but it does everything they asked for and more, and they’re very happy with the look. So that’s good enough for them and good enough for me. So what would be in your dream bathroom?

The Affordable Kitchen Transformation

If we were playing Family Fortunes this would be the top four answers to the question Why do people procrastinate about changing their bathrooms and kitchens? 

  1. Cost
  2. Mess
  3. Time
  4. Too much choice

But imagine if you could have someone do ALL the research, AND make all the decisions, AND deal with all the trades, how amazing would that be? Well you can. Employ me and you eliminate answers 3 and 4, which is why one of my customers called me last year and told me he wanted to do both his bathroom and kitchen before Christmas. Last week I showed you his new bathroom and today I’m going to show you his new kitchen. But not without showing you some before pics first……

The diabolically dated kitchen

So this kitchen had everything and none of it good – dated kitchen units, broken appliances, missing tiles, fusty carpet, bad lighting, and tired decor.

Affordable kitchen transformation before image

It also had some old fire damage, and damp walls caused by bad rendering outside and a leaking stop tap behind one of the cupboards. And if that wasn’t enough, when we ripped out the kitchen we found that the previous owners had concreted the middle of the floor but not under the units where we had old loose tiles on a dirt floor. In some old Victorian terraces they didn’t grout or seal the floor tiles so that any water could just drain into the ground…..and you wonder why pleurisy was so common.

Affordable kitchen transformation before image

The plan

The customer wanted a light, modern kitchen, but like the bathroom I had a limited budget to work with so this needed to be an affordable kitchen transformation. We had quite a few practical issues to deal with before we could fit a new kitchen. So to minimise costs we agreed the layout would stay the same and the washing machine and the fridge freezer would stay. We also agreed we would take advantage of the partnership I have with Cockermouth Kitchen Co.

Cockermouth Kitchen Co

I’m an independent interior designer and can work with any kitchen supplier I choose to, but I do have a partnership with Cockermouth Kitchen Co which we formed a year ago. I did this for a number of reasons:

  • I like the style and quality of the kitchens and other products they supply
  • They can offer affordable, mid-range and high end kitchens and their pricing is right
  • They use the same great quality carcasses in all their kitchens available in a million colours and finishes
  • They have really excellent fitters
  • They’re a great team – and good relationships are important when your customers are spending a lot of money on a new kitchen

I can still work with other suppliers and shop around, but if a customer buys their kitchen from CKC they will refund the customer my design fee.

It’s a partnership that works for everyone. The customer gets a great product and a good deal. I get to work regularly with a trusted supplier who I have a strong relationship with (so I can call on favours when I need to). It works for CKC  because I introduce customers to them and take some of the work away from them. Win win win. CKC also employed me to design their huge new showroom so I have somewhere to take customers to show them what they can expect when they work with CKC.

So without any further wittering from me, here it is, the affordable kitchen transformation.

The Affordable Kitchen Transformation

We chose a simple white gloss kitchen from the Porter range by PWS.

Kitchen Transformation - Affordable contemporary white gloss porter kitchen by PWS fitted by Cockermouth Kitchen Co and designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Quartz and granite worktops might be hardwearing and provide the greatest protection against scratches and stains but if you don’t have the budget you don’t have the budget and there are some very good quality laminates available now for a fraction of the cost. We chose a dark grey slate effect laminate worktop by Durapol.

Kitchen Transformation - Affordable contemporary white gloss porter kitchen by PWS fitted by Cockermouth Kitchen Co and designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Surprisingly one of the things that can rack up the cost when you buy a kitchen is the end panels that get fitted at the end of any run of cupboards, which you normally purchase to match the doors. The way to avoid this cost is to pick a carcass colour and finish that closely matches the doors so you don’t need to add the panels.

Kitchen Transformation - Affordable contemporary white gloss porter kitchen by PWS fitted by Cockermouth Kitchen Co and designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

We installed new integrated appliances, including an oven, microwave, hob, hood and a slimline dishwasher.

Kitchen Transformation - Affordable contemporary white gloss porter kitchen by PWS fitted by Cockermouth Kitchen Co and designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

We picked simple stainless steel handles and a sink with drainer and mixer tap in the same finish.

Kitchen Transformation - Affordable contemporary white gloss porter kitchen by PWS fitted by Cockermouth Kitchen Co and designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

We improved the lighting by adding new ceiling spots and under cupboard lights and used simple pale grey metro tiles as splashback.

Kitchen Transformation - Affordable contemporary white gloss porter kitchen by PWS fitted by Cockermouth Kitchen Co and designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The walls are painted one of my favourite grey colours – Chic Shadow by Dulux. And the floor is a very affordable but hard wearing sheet vinyl from the Gripstar range by Tarkett.

Kitchen Transformation - Affordable contemporary white gloss porter kitchen by PWS fitted by Cockermouth Kitchen Co and designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

I think the thing I was happiest to see go is those ugly vertical blinds, which we replaced with simple roller blinds from one of my favourite online suppliers Blinds2Go. In case you’re wondering why the blind is shut the wall outside needs painting and I didn’t want it to distract you from the shiny new kitchen.

Kitchen Transformation - Affordable contemporary white gloss porter kitchen by PWS fitted by Cockermouth Kitchen Co and designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

A new kettle and toaster and a few matching accessories and we were done.

Budget

The average cost of a new kitchen used to be £15,000. But since the UK voted to leave the EU there have been price increases, even from UK suppliers. Because they have to source some materials from outside the UK I suspect this will raise the average by 10-20%. So I am very proud to tell you that even after all the additional plumbing, electrics, plastering and flooring work the final cost will be less than half the average.

Affordable kitchen transformation - old lady with shocked face

Shockingly good value don’t you think? So if you’ve been thinking you can’t afford a new kitchen hopefully this has given you a few ideas as to how you could. And if you’re a local give me a call I’d love to help you.