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.

The Budget Bathroom Challenge

One of the great things about being an interior designer in Cumbria is that I see jobs of all shapes and sizes. And contrary to what you might think I enjoy the budget jobs just as much as those with more to spend. The Northerner in me loves to see how far I can stretch a budget and still achieve a bit of wow. A few months ago I wrote about my Budget Bathroom Challenge. The bathroom was finished well before Christmas but I’m a bit of a perfectionist and there were a couple of minor snags to fix before I showed you the finished result. And now it’s ready for its close up….hold on to your hats you won’t recognise this room.

The Budget Bathroom Challenge

If you’re a regular reader of my blog (thank you lovely people) you might remember this is the customer who knew his house needed work, particularly his bathroom and kitchen. But a combination of time, budget, overwhelming choices and the upheaval had caused him to procrastinate. That is until he slipped in the shower and pulled the curtain rail down and some of the tiles off the wall. That was when he called me.

Budget bathroom - before image

As you can see the bathroom was more than a little tired. But because of the size it had huge potential.

Budget bathroom - before image

It even had lots of existing storage space which we could improve.

Budget bathroom - before image

The Plan

Changing layout is something you should try to avoid if you’re on a tight budget because of the cost of labour and materials but the customer was desperate for a separate shower. We also knew we would need to plaster the whole room, another additional cost. So to keep it within budget I shopped around for fixtures and fittings, limited new lighting and suggested a sheet vinyl floor and acrylic panels instead of tiles which we would limit to wet areas.

As the property is Victorian we wanted to keep some traditional elements. However, traditional bathroom fittings tend to be more expensive than contemporary ones so we made a small saving by keeping the existing sink and just replacing the taps. (Tip – look for tap packs rather separate sets for the bath and sink to save a few pennies).

Bringing in separate trades to do everything can also be expensive, and make your project take longer but I work with a great fitter Ben Butler Joinery & Home Improvements. and Ben (and his colleague Will) do everything except plastering and painting which is a godsend.

Modern bathroom with traditional elements in a Victorian terrance house designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors

I was initially planning a pistachio green colour to add warmth and a contrast to all the white fittings, but I then discovered the customers favourite colour was blue….. So goodbye pistachio, hello Windblown Blue by Valspar.

Budget Bathroom - Windblown Blue by Valspar paint

The Final Reveal

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

I’ll pause for a moment so you can scroll back up to check this is the same bathroom……

So the finished bathroom now has a large walk in shower enclosure with a powerful 2-outlet thermostatic shower and recessed storage for shampoo bottles. I originally planned to include a heated towel radiator above the bath and a tall column radiator by the door until I found this Tissimo towel radiator which gives out a whopping 4649 BTU’s which is plenty hot enough for this bathroom. (Tip – buy a plumbed towel radiator and a dual fuel element so that you can run the radiator off the electric in the summer to dry your towels).

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Check out that stone flag effect vinyl floor, looks like tile doesn’t it?

We managed to squeeze a 1600mm long bath under the window. Thats only 10cm shorter than a standard bath, so unless you’re a giant you’d probably never notice.

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

This left plenty of space for the toilet and sink on the wall next to it. There’s nothing worse than knocking your knees on the bath when you sit down, or cracking your elbow on the sink when you reach for the loo roll.

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

We used white metro tile effect acrylic wall panels inside the shower, behind the bath and above the sink. If it wasn’t for the fact that most people use grey grout these days and these sheets are all white they’d be easily mistaken for tiles.

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The old cupboards had old shutter style doors and very few shelves which were slatted so stuff would fall through. The customer now has much better storage with access to the boiler, space for the laundry bin, and extra shelves for toiletries and towels. And you’ll have to take my word for it as I’m not showing you a picture of the shelves. Toiletries and packs of loo roll aren’t pretty and would spoil my post….

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

We were economical with the lighting to keep costs down and just replaced the central light fitting and added a matching wall light above the mirror and a recessed spot above the shower.

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

And lastly, a new window blind from my favourite online supplier Blinds2Go. They do a great range of very affordable made to measure blinds and curtains and will send you free samples which always gets my vote.

Light modern budget bathroom with traditional elements in Victorian terrace by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Budget

This is a good sized bathroom, everything except the sink had to be replaced, and we needed to do a lot of joinery, plastering, plumbing and electrical work. For a project like this you can typically expect to spend at least £7-8k, but (drum roll please) we did all this for just over £5,000 proving two things:

  • Employing an interior designer can save you money
  • Budget can still be beautiful

And most importantly the customer loves it. What do you think?

The Ginormous Living Room

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.

The Challenge

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.

Before images of living room in West Cumbria decorated by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd
Sort of reminds you of a lodge somewhere in midwest America doesn’t it?
Before images of living room in West Cumbria decorated by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd
The homeowners were sat on the couch when I took this pic and I didn’t think they’d thank me for including them so ignore the blur…

 The Plan

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….

Moodboard for living room project created by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Moodboard for living room project created by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

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!

Living room decorated in a modern country style by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

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.

Living room decorated in a modern country style by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

That chimney was just crying out for a stove wasn’t it?

Living room decorated in a modern country style by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

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.

Living room decorated in a modern country style by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

The plan was to paint the lower half of that coffee table in Farrow & Ball Rectory Red, and we might still.

Living room decorated in a modern country style by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

I think the new lighting is my favourite bit.

Living room decorated in a modern country style by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

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….

Living room decorated in a modern country style by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

…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?

Living room decorated in a modern country style by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

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?

Welcome to Mi Abode – home of Scandinavian Interiors

No thats not a typo *tuts* and I’m not inviting you to snoop round my house either. Tho if you happen to be in the area and you bring biscuits I’m fairly sure I’d let you in. No, Mi Abode is a Scandinavian interiors and homeware retailer in Uppermill, Saddleworth. Which is a little off the beaten track for us Cumbrians but luckily also has an online store. Phew…

Mi Abode Scandinavian interiors and homeware retailer in Uppermill Saddleworth

So what makes Mi Abode worth talking about? Well for starters they sell a mixture of beautiful but very affordable vintage and contemporary Scandinavian design pieces. But more importantly Mia the owner is actually Scandinavian, and many of the items she sells are actually from Sweden. But what I really love is that some of them are made by her mum Helga. Yes Helga. From Sweden. Could this Scandinavian interiors shop be any more authentic?

So want to see what caught my eye when I happened to be in Uppermill for a very important breakfast meeting (by which I mean a catch up with my sister over heavily buttered fruit toast and coffee)?

The first thing I spotted was these felt baskets. Perfect for rolled up towels or loo rolls in the bathroom, or magazines or throws in the living room.

Felt baskets from Scandinavian interiors retailer MI Abode
Felt baskets – 3 sizes available, priced from £20-36

And then I fell in love with these little fellas.

Elf Christmas decorations from Mi Abode Scandinavian interiors retailer in Uppermill
Elf Christmas decorations made by Helga

Mamma Helga makes these Elf Christmas decorations in various shapes, sizes and shades. I bought the big guy, now known as Lars. He will probably spend Christmas on the living room hearth but he will spend the rest of the year in my Scandi styled summer house……which just might have been featured in Real Homes magazine this month *tosses hair over shoulder celebrity style*

Large Elf Christmas decoration from Mi Abode Scandinavian interiors retailer in Uppermill
Large Elf Christmas decoration
Small elf Christmas decorations from Mi Abode Scandinavian interiors retailer in Uppermill
Small elf Christmas decorations

Mia stocks the key pieces needed to get Hygge like the Danes, i.e. scented candles throws and cushions

Range of wool throws and cushions from Scandinavian interiors retailer Mi Abode in Uppermill
Get Hygge with their range of wool throws and cushions
Longhaired curly lambskin throw from Scandinavian interiors retailer Mi Abode in Uppermill
Longhaired curly lambskin throw

….and its not all monochrome.

Lighting and soft furnishings from Scandinavian interiors retailer MI Abode in Uppermill
Mustard throw and matching shade on tripod lamp

She also has some pretty funky artwork…..

Quirky framed posters from Scandinavian interiors retailer Mi Abode in Uppermill
Quirky framed posters

and fab lighting, including these concrete pendants.

Concrete pendant lights from Scandinavian interiors retailer Mi Abode in Uppermill
Concrete pendant lights

The shop is a veritable treat for the eyes, everywhere you look there’s something you want to prod and poke

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And its not just pretty stuff, there are practical things too. Instead of stuffing your kitchen drawers with postcards that you don’t want to throw away, recipes you’ve cut out of magazines and vouchers you want to keep, what about putting them in these cool storage books?

Storage books from Scandinavian interiors retailer Mi Abode in Uppermill
Storage books – perfect for the stuff that usually ends up in the kitchen drawers

So don’t just take my word for it get online at http://www.miabode.bigcartel.com/products and take a look for yourself

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A more ‘mature’ bathroom

Quick apology to subscribers who have received this post via email twice. I’m trying to fix a problem with images not downloading……

It’s around this time of year I start taking a bath. And no I don’t neglect my personal hygiene for the rest of the year, I just prefer to shower every day. Well most days anyway. If you worked from home you’d stay in your PJ’s now and again if you could wouldn’t you? But when the temperature drops and it starts getting dark at 4pm submersing myself in hot water is way more appealing than rotating in the shower trying to keep every part of me warm. And god I like my bath water hot. Thanks to my sister my skin can withstand temperatures that would have a firefighter wincing. We were forced to share a bath as children and she would keep add scalding water to try and make me get out. She should have known better, I’m as stubborn as **** so she was never going to win that battle. She should have tried my brothers party trick, which was to do a number two, that got us both out of there sharpish……Anyway, I’m also no spring chicken these days and a hot bath stops me from seizing up after a long walk with the dog.

Petite free standing cast iron bath painted in Farrow & Ball Cornforth White in Victorian style bathroom with exposed red sandstone walls
Petite Millbrook cast iron bath in my bathroom from The Cast Iron Bath Company. They can supply any bath painted in a colour of your choosing. Mine is Farrow & Ball Cornforth White

I’ve had to think about what someone might need from their bathroom as they get older quite a bit recently as two of my customers have asked me to design new bathrooms for them with this in mind. The additional challenge is that they are sisters so both bathrooms have to be different but equally fabulous so one sister doesn’t feel I’ve done a better job for her sibling. No pressure eh…..So if you’re knocking on a bit like me or helping an elderly friend or relative with their new bathroom you might find some of these ideas useful

The ‘Mature’ Bathroom

1. No nooks and crannies

The bathroom can be one of the hardest rooms to clean because of those annoying gaps behind the toilet or the sink (or freestanding bath). Now imagine trying to clean it with dodgy knees and failing eyesight. This is when you need to start thinking about fitted furniture, back to wall toilets and top mounted sinks or vanity units to close those gaps. If your bathroom is an awkward shape get a fitter that can do a bit of joinery and buy extra panels to fill in any gaps so that your furniture runs walls to wall.

And you don’t need to compromise on style any more. The manufacturers of fitted bathroom furniture have definitely upped their game in the last few years, and there’s now a huge range of traditional and contemporary styles available. You don’t need to worry about post-Brexit price increases either as there are plenty of British manufacturers, like West Yorkshire-based Ellis who have apparently been in business since 1891 (they must have been furnishing outside loos then…)

The Hepworth bathroom furniture in Soft Moss from the 1891 collection by Ellis
The Hepworth bathroom furniture in Soft Moss from the 1891 collection by Ellis
If you like a few curves in your bathroom then check out Reflection by Ellis shown here in gloss white
If you like a few curves in your bathroom then check out Reflection by Ellis shown here in gloss white

2. Wall panels

I’m a tile fan and would put them in just about any room. They are just so diverse, you’ve got colours, textures, shapes, sizes, tiling patterns, and grout colours to work with. However, if you’re trying to minimise cleaning then wall panels, particularly in the shower, make way more sense. Until fairly recently I’d avoided them like the plague as I’d only ever seen sparkly ones which frankly reminded me of school changing rooms. However I’m about to use white metro tile effect panels in a project that starts next week so I’ll let you have the verdict on those shortly. I’m also about to recommend these Aqua Reflect acrylic shower panels to one of the sisters.

Aqua Reflect acrylic shower wall panel by Multipanel
Aqua Reflect acrylic shower wall panel by Multipanel

3. The rimless toilet

Sticking with the ‘easy to clean’ theme. Another way to minimise cleaning is a toilet that cleans itself, or most of itself anyway. The new rimless designs basically push water all around the bowl to just below seat level and apparently use less water so are also more efficient. If you’re a little OCD fanatical about a clean loo then you might enjoy this video. I make no apologies – t’s actually quite interesting, honest…

4. Concealed thermostatic vs electric showers

If a customer wants or needs an electric shower (because of their boiler type or water pressure) then I will happily provide them with a copy of the latest Which? report on electric showers but I will not pick one for them. Simply because electric showers are exceptionally temperamental and what works in one household apparently doesn’t always work the same in another. Check out Amazon reviews on the top electric showers and you’ll see what a minefield it is. It’s their reputation for unexpected temperature changes that means I definitely wouldn’t recommend one to someone elderly, imagine what the shock could do…. But if you have a combi boiler you can’t beat a thermostatic shower for reliability, and if you want easy to clean then go for either a single outlet on a riser so you can take the head off the riser to clean the walls and shower screens, or one with a fixed shower head and a second handheld outlet for cleaning.

Contemporary concealed thermostatic shower with two outlets
Contemporary concealed thermostatic shower with two outlets

5. Comfort height toilets

So from hygiene to ageing. First off I suggest you go and sit on one of these comfort height toilets before you declare them the saviour of your dodgy knees. The seat is higher than a standard toilet so you don’t need to squat as low, which in theory sounds great. But if you’re a little vertically challenged like me your feet don’t touch the floor which quickly makes your legs and bum go numb, and you have to hop off when you’ve finished which will play havoc with your knees if they are a bit dodgy. Now without wanting to get into the finer details studies actually show that the natural squat position improves our ability to ‘eliminate’ for want of a better phrase. And it is thought that better ‘elimination’ can prevent ailments like bloating, straining, hemorrhoids and constipation. So who knows perhaps the next generation of toilets will be the opposite of comfort height and actually feature harnesses or handrails to help us squat lower?

A comfort height toilet is not for the vertically challenged....
A comfort height toilet is not for the vertically challenged….

 6. Grip handles

One of the sisters wants to keep a bath in her bathroom as she has a separate shower room downstairs and has asked for grip handles. This typically means you’re limited to a standard single ended bath which is what I’m recommending, but this is largely because we’re also limited to a length of 1600mm.

Danbury single ended bath with curved grips from Victorian Plumbing
Danbury single ended bath with curved grips from Victorian Plumbing

But if you did want something a bit different I found this cool double ended bath with headrests and a grip handle. Who says you have to stop sharing the bath as you get older…

Roca Becool double ended bath with headrests and grip
Roca Becool double ended bath with headrests and grip

7. Vinyl  floor

The other request I usually get when designing bathrooms for older people is vinyl flooring. Most of them would still prefer carpet, but they have realised how impractical it is in a bathroom, and although they are not ready for tiles (unless we’re fitting underfloor heating) they have accepted the idea of vinyl. Though typically they don’t like the wood or stone effects. Thankfully vinyl has also got a lot better in the last few years and I’ve recently discovered two brands with patterns even I would consider – imagine?

A sheet vinyl that looks like Victorian tiling - Beauflor Ultratrip Buzz Lisbon vinyl flooring shown here with the other samples for one of the bathrooms I am designing
A sheet vinyl that looks like Victorian tiling – Beauflor Ultratrip Buzz Lisbon vinyl flooring shown here with the other samples for one of the bathrooms I am designing

Harvey Maria has a great range of subtle patterns and colours. I’m thinking about this sage green pattern for one of the sisters to go with the Aqua Reflect wall panels.

Vinyl flooring by Harvey Maria
Vinyl flooring by Harvey Maria

There are of course other things you need to consider when designing a bathroom for someone older, such as good lighting and heating, but these things apply whatever your age. But if you are planning a new bathroom and like me you’re the wrong side of 40 maybe you’re not quite ready for bath grips and a comfort height toilet but easier cleaning has got to be appealing surely?

Things are hotting up in the kitchen (showroom)

If you’re a regular reader of my blog (thank you lovely people) you’ll know I do a lot of work with Cockermouth Kitchen Company (aka CKC) and have designed their new showroom which is due to open in September *jigs about excitedly*. Getting the layout right was probably the biggest challenge. The main showroom is a massive 175 square metres but we needed to accommodate kitchens, customer service desks, displays for door samples, worktops, taps, handles and brochures, oh and some space for actually walking around….We also needed to use some of the space for the back office which will straddle the main showroom and the rear showroom – another whopping 100 square metres currently earmarked for bathroom and bedroom displays. It doesn’t look much from the street but it’s like the Tardis inside and I’m about to turn it into a retail space to rival IKEA.

Spatial planning is so important in retail as you’re never short of product to display and suppliers are vying to get their goods on show, but the space needs to flow and feel bright, clear and uninterrupted. After much hair pulling (and not just mine) I got there and the new showroom will have 11 complete kitchens, 2 customer service desks and plenty of room for samples.

Floor plan for Cockermouth Kitchen showroom
Floor plan for the new showroom at Cockermouth Kitchen Company

Next major headache challenge was designing the kitchen displays. Now I could have filled it with the top sellers but then it would basically be a white and grey showroom, not exactly gonna to draw the crowds in… But if you go the other way, i.e. multi-coloured mayhem, customers won’t trust you to deliver their dream kitchen. So there has to be balance. Give the displays in the window a little WOW to get them to look up from their smartphones and into the window, then once you’ve lured them inside show them something they’ll like but tempt them with a few other ideas. And it’s all about the complete picture. I go in some showrooms and their kitchens are so badly dressed its criminal. You know what I’m talking about, no lights or tiles, just the obligatory bottle of olive oil next to the hob, a jar of dried pasta and a set of cheap tea, coffee and sugar canisters. Inspiring? No.

This is the image that made me buy my own kitchen from CKC. It’s from the 1909 range that they offer and I just thought, if they can deliver this then I’m in.

Traditional 'pencilled and scalloped' kitchen from the 1909 range by PWS
Traditional ‘pencilled and scalloped’ kitchen from the 1909 range by PWS

Of course my own kitchen looks very little like this as I then got my interior design head on and started racking up a huge bill incorporating features I’ve always wanted. Click the pic to read more on this.

1909 kitchen pencilled and scalloped designed by Amelia Wilson Interiors
The kitchen at Chez Wilson

The average kitchen costs £15k so its a big investment, and why most peoples kitchens are at least 10 years old. But the great thing about kitchens is that you can design a very simple kitchen that won’t date, and then style it with tiles, lighting, seating or accessories that are more easily changed when the time comes for a new look. Coming up with all that for the 11 new kitchens was a lot of fun.

“So what’s it all going to look like” I hear you shout (in my dreams..) All in good time my friends, all in good time. But here’s a sneak preview of some of the things you can expect to see on opening day.

A modern take on the natural oak kitchen - clean lines and simple slab doors. Natural knotty oak by Schuller
A modern take on the natural oak kitchen – clean lines and simple slab doors
A traditional larder with more practical pull out shelving
Traditional larder with practical pull out shelving
Attingham Seagrass Geometric design tiles from Topps Tiles
Attingham geometric tiles – one of the striking tile ranges we’ve chosen from Topps tiles our partner for the showroom
Dekton Trillium worktop by Cosentino inspired by the look of oxidized steel
Dekton Trillium worktop by Cosentino – the finish was inspired by the look of oxidized steel.
A modern take on the traditional Belfast sink - a steel apron fronted sink
A modern take on the traditional Belfast sink – a steel apron fronted sink
Clear 10 light cluster pendant light
Clear 10 light cluster – no longer available from BHS (sob). Every kitchen includes feature lighting.

So that’s enough teasers for now. It’s been a fabulous project. I’ve wanted to kill a few people along the way for omitting to tell me I can’t have certain items when I’ve designed the whole bloody kitchen round said items (you know who you are….). And not having the same floor space as IKEA I couldn’t have everything I wanted. And I keep seeing new things I want which is very frustrating. I saw this idea the other day, a splashblack and breakfast bar made from a quartz that has translucent patches that allow the light from LED’s behind and below to filter through. Bloody genius. *scowls furiously for not being clever enough to have thought of this, and no room in the showroom for it now*

Quartz splashback backlit with LED in PWS Design Centre
Quartz splashback backlit with LED
Quartz breakfast bar lit from below with LED
Quartz breakfast bar lit from below with LED

So the countdown to opening day has started. Keep checking back for updates.

Behold the Boutique-Victorian Mashup Bathroom

That’s quite a title isn’t it? But a grand bathroom like the one I’m about to show you deserves a grand title, and oh lordy what a transformation. Shall we jump right in with a few fabulous before pics?

Bathroom design before images
Dated cramped shower and my biggest pet hate, no alcoves for shampoo and conditioner
Bathroom design before images
More pet hates, free standing storage and cluttered sinks
Bathroom design before pictures
Just two words. Orange bath….

The homeowner has a lovely Victorian townhouse and wanted a mixture of new and traditional in the new bathroom. I actually quite liked the existing sink and toilet and the taps, and they wouldn’t have been out of place in a new bathroom with some traditional features but the homeowner was adamant, she wanted a completely new bathroom, and who am I to argue…. (Cue rubbing of hands with glee at prospect of picking new stuff…)

I love a monochrome bathroom but they can look a little stark, and as I’d just turned the homeowner on to the idea of colour after painting her bedroom pink (see the pink bedroom project) I needed to inject a little colour into the bathroom. I plumped for bottle green after spotting some green glass bottles in a local homeware shop, which got me thinking about peacock feathers, and before you could say wowzers I had a plan with wow factor.

Bathroom design moodboard
The Boutique-Victorian mashup moodboard

The focal point in the new bathroom is without a shadow of a doubt the free standing double ended slipper bath. Now if you’re going to have a fabulous bath like this one it needs to stand out. When I told the homeowner I wanted to panel half the wall behind and paint it all black she was a little shocked but thankfully decided to trust me. So what do you think – was I right?

Bathroom - double ended slipper bath against a black panelled wall and lit from below
Free standing feature bath

The panelling is from an eBay seller who can make whatever style or size you want. It’s made of water resistant MDF so fine for a bathroom and only cost £110 including delivery.

Deck lights used in a bathroom to light a free standing bath from below
In floor spotlights light the bath from below and provide a useful night light

The bath was a real bargain too, only £400 from Bathandshower.com. Look how glam it looks lit from below. Just the right amount of light for those late night bathroom visits, or more importantly soaking in the bath with a glass of wine….We used outdoor deck lights so it wouldn’t matter if water sloshed over the edge of the bath. The guys at my local electrical wholesalers told me I could submerge them or stand on them and they’d still work. If you’re wondering what the lights are above the bath its just the reflection from a row of glass tealight holders sitting on a shelf I got the fitter to fit on top of the panelling. You gotta have candlelight when you take a bath.

Those fabulous Victorian style floor tiles were also a bargain at around £20 a square metre. They’re called Harrow Grafito and I bought them from Roccia (formerly Tile Mart) in Preston. If you’re up that way its worth popping into their enormous showroom for a nosy. (If you see Ben say hi from me).

I decided early on in the process, before I’d even picked a colour scheme, that this bathroom was going to have an antique marble topped washstand. A modern vanity unit just wasn’t going to cut it. And I found a beauty in one of my regular haunts, Old Mill Antiques in Manchester.

Antique marble topped washstand in a Victorian boutique style bathroom
Antique marble topped washstand

I intentionally picked an oval sink and mirror to match the shape of the bath and the sink looks beautiful sat on top of that grey marble. The cut glass accessories are also a great fit. They’re from Homesense (aka land of amazing finds). Oh and see that black leather cube bottom left? It’s an ottoman doubling as a laundry bin, or somewhere to sit your book when you’re climbing into the bath. Assuming of course you have time to read in the bath….It does three jobs and was only £10 (from Dunelm) – now that’s what I call a bargain.

Bathroom - Grey marble topped antique washstand with oval sink, traditional taps and cut glass accessories
Oval sink and traditional taps and cut glass accessories

If I could only give you one bathroom tip (which would make for a very short blog), it would be to always install the biggest shower you can and get your fitter to build a false wall so that you can have alcoves for shampoo bottles. I hate cramped shower cubicles, and I want to cry when I see those horrible metal baskets stuck to the walls, or worse still shampoo bottles sitting in the shower tray…..

Bathroom - Large rectangular shower enclosure with traditional shower and lighting in alcove
Large rectangular enclosure with traditional shower and lighting in alcove

The homeowner was worried the shower enclosure was going to be too big but again she trusted me and was glad she did. I have to give the fitter Ben Butler credit for the light in the alcove as it was his idea – nice touch eh?

Bathroom - lighting in shower enclosure
Lighting in alcove

I also wanted to mention the paintwork as I guess it’s not every day you see black woodwork. But it’s a great way to frame light coloured walls.  I love the black door. The wall colour is called Sleeping Inn by Valspar which is white with a touch of grey. The black paint colour is Downing Street by Valspar, very topical at the moment…..

Bathroom door and woodwork painted in Downing Street by Valspar
Door and new skirting boards painted in Downing Street by Valspar

As Charles Eames said, “The details are not the details. They make the design”. Which is why I hunted for the right toilet roll holder until I found this one on eBay. It might seem trivial to some but like the washstand a modern one would have looked out of place.

Bathroom - Reproduction Victorian style toilet roll holder
Reproduction Victorian style toilet roll holder

I bought both the vintage frameless mirrors on eBay for a total of £60. It amazes me that these mirrors can be picked up so cheaply as I think they’re beautiful. The peacock artwork is also from an eBay seller. I bought 4 for £22.50 and framed them in black frames from Wilko.

Bathroom - Vintage bevelled edge frameless mirror and peacock artwork
Vintage bevelled edge frameless mirror and peacock artwork

I always like to add personal touches to my designs that the customer will appreciate. In this case it’s these lights I made using battery operated fairly lights from IKEA and cut glass decanters from a charity shop. The homeowner loved them.

Bathroom - battery operated fairy lights in vintage cut glass decanters
Battery operated fairy lights in cut glass decanters

So what do you think of my Boutique-Victorian mashup, is this a bathroom with wow factor?

Come collaborate with me

Some might think its easy being an interior designer. I mean it’s just picking paint and furniture isn’t it? (Raises left eyebrow sarcastically). But I would challenge anyone who thinks it’s easy to design a room for someone they just met and get it right first time.

People rarely know exactly what they want. If they did they wouldn’t need an interior designer. And don’t be thinking their homes provide all the answers. Yes there are clues, but most peoples homes include (a) things they like, (b), things they once liked but don’t any more, (c) things they bought on a temporary basis and never replaced (I suspect this accounts for a large chunk of IKEA sales…), and (d) things they never liked but were either gifts, inherited or came with their partner when they moved in….You all know the conversation, “no no, I want you to feel like this is your home, so of course you can bring your (insert offending item)”. Be grateful if it’s only a novelty phone, and no I’m not telling you what Mr W has inflicted on me over the years.

Novelty Homer Simpson telephone
Novelty Homer Simpson telephone

So a big part of being an interior designer is figuring out what a customer will like and I’m proud to say that so far I have a 100% success rate. But as the title of this blog suggests, I do my homework. After I’ve snooped around their home looking for clues (with their permission of course), I interrogate them ask a whole bunch of questions. Depending on the customer I sometimes use images to draw out what they like, and encourage all my customers to send me pics of anything that catches their eye.

Houzz has a fabulous Ideabook tool which facilitates this process. I recently collaborated with one customer using this tool. Between us we uploaded 20+ images. She added things she liked and I added a range of rooms and colour schemes to test what she’d told me she liked and didn’t like.

Monochrome Scandi style bedroom in Ideabook on Houzz
This image helped me rule out purely monochrome schemes as the customers husband said this room was too grey

We don’t realise how much info we take in when we look at a picture, which we subconsciously judge, categorise and file for potentially future use. When you get someone to really look and pick out what they like or don’t like it and then summarise the findings for them it can often surprise them.

Blue and grey Scandi style living room added to an Ideabook in Houzz
A room my customer liked after telling me she didn’t like blue unless it was her jeans.

I use this tool for elements within a design too. I have one customer who has a split level bungalow and we want to replace the staircases. I know I know, you’re now thinking ‘bungalows don’t have stairs’. Well they do if they’re built on a hillside. The bungalow is all single-storey but you have to climb a few stairs to pass between some of the rooms. I used an ideabook to show the customer images of different contemporary staircases so we could agree on the design.

Lighting on staircase in Ideabook on Houzz
I used this image to show the customer how we could light up their new staircases

Many of my customers have no idea how much it might cost to update their home. When this is the case I help them by putting together an estimate based on what they want to do and the look they are aiming for. We then use this to establish a budget, which I make sure we stick to. This is why I’ll never be the next Kevin McCLoud or George Clarke – who wants to watch a homeowner achieve their budget, or heaven forbid underspend…..

I usually come up with a plan for a new customer quite quickly and will often run this by them to check I’m on the right track, and maybe show them the colour palette I’m thinking of using. If I get a positive response then I’ll start working on the designs.

Colour palette for Scandi style new build project
The colour palette I agreed with my customer for her Scandi inspired new build after collaborating on an Ideabook

Depending on the size or scope of the project it can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks to pull it all together. When I’m doing full houses I like to start with one or two rooms so the customer can get comfortable with my work. I find that gaining their trust early on speeds up the whole process – no need to keep checking back.

By the time I’ve finished designing a room I’ll have a presentation for the customer which includes a mood board, floor plan, samples of any flooring, fabric etc. and a list of everything to go in the room, where it’s from and how much it will all cost.

Mood board by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd for a kitchen project
Mood board for a recent kitchen project

And then the real work starts.

I book all the tradespeople, order everything we need and then watch it all like a paranoid control freak hawk until the work is done and they’re ready for me to come and add the finishing touches. This is where I  can relate to Mr McCloud and Mr Clarke. Things never go smoothly however organised and efficient you are. Things will break. Deliveries will not turn up. Tradespeople will get delayed. You just need to be ‘on it like a car bonnet’ which fortunately is my specialty.

Now most people would find this exceptionally stressful, but not me, I thrive on it. And the satisfaction when you’re finished and the customer is beaming makes it all worth while.

Customer review for Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

So if you were one of those people who thought my job was easy, do you still think so?