Tag Archives: interiors

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 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?

The Budget Bathroom Challenge

I’m not ashamed to say I’m a teeny bit competitive……Ok so there might have been an incident at an office Christmas party many years ago when I just might have physically injured one or two colleagues in my enthusiasm to win a game of musical chairs. But what’s the point of playing a game other than to win? Which is why I’m particularly loving one of my current projects. My customer has a budget that most people would use to upgrade their kitchen, but we’re going to redecorate his whole house, including a new kitchen and bathroom. Now how’s that for a challenge?

All interior designers love the big budget jobs, I mean who wouldn’t enjoy spending mega bucks. But (maybe perversely) I actually prefer the challenge of creating something beautiful on a budget. I think it’s because the customer really appreciates the value you’ve added by stretching their budget. And trust me it’s a hell of a lot harder to work with a small budget, which plays to my (highly) competitive nature.

The budget bathroom challenge

My customer has known for a while that his house has needed attention, but a combination of time, budget, overwhelming choices and the work involved has caused him to procrastinate. Then a few weeks ago he slipped in the shower and grabbed the shower curtain, which brought the rail crashing down. So he grabbed the wall, which brought a handful of tiles off. And it was at that point he decided enough was enough. And just to prove I’m not exaggerating for dramatic effect here’s a picture of the crime scene.

Before image in the budget bathroom project by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

Before image in the budget bathroom project

Most of my customers have no idea what it will cost to update their home, so one of the first things I do is give them an estimate of what I think they’ll need spend to achieve what they want. If that exceeds the figure they had in mind we tweak or scale back their plans. If it doesn’t, job’s a good ‘un and we crack on. I went through this process with my customer, we agreed a budget and how we would allocate this between rooms so we were good to go.

If you have a small bathroom and you’re not able to do any of the work yourself you can expect to spend at least £2-3k, and it can easily exceed that, especially if you want a walk in shower. The biggest element of this will be the labour cost, so the best way to manage this is to find a fitter that can do everything. which can be (to use one of Mr W’s delightful phrases) ‘as rare as rocking horse shit’. But once you start adding up quotes from a plumber, an electrician, a tiler and maybe a joiner or plasterer it starts getting pricey. Thankfully I work with a multi-skilled fitter – the fabulous Ben Butler.

There are a number of other ways you can manage costs:

1. Try and keep the existing bathroom layout

Or limit the distance you move fittings so your fitter doesn’t have to spend lots of time fitting new pipework and electrics.

2. Consider vinyl flooring instead of tiles

Particularly sheet vinyl as opposed to vinyl planks or tiles as it’s quicker to lay. It’s not all nasty sparkly sticky looking plastic these days either, there are some great wood or stone effects, and it’s hard wearing, anti-slip, hygienic, anti-allergenic, easy to clean and quiet underfoot. Check out the Tarkett Homestyle range, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Tarkett Homestyle Basaltina Carbon vinyl flooring

Tarkett Homestyle Basaltina Carbon vinyl flooring

3. Limit tiling to where you need it or use waterproof wall panels

Was there a law passed in the 80’s that decreed that all bathrooms must be tiled floor to ceiling in pastel marble effect tiles with an ornate border tile, or is it just all the ones I’m now updating? If you want to save money just tile in the shower, and round the bath and sink. Or use waterproof wall panels like these brick effect sheets by MultiPanel which are just over £80 for a 2.4m x 1.2m sheet.

TilePanel waterproof wall panels by MultiPanel

TilePanel waterproof wall panels by MultiPanel

4. Keep your central ceiling light

If your bathroom is a few years old there’s a good chance it’s just got a flush or semi-flush light in the centre of the room, and maybe a light over your sink. Now when I’ve got more to spend I usually recommend ceiling spots, lighting over the sink and in some cases other feature lighting maybe in the shower, or around the bath, all on different circuits so they can be used separately. But if you’re on a tight budget just upgrade the ceiling light to something with multiple LED bulb’s so it’s bright enough and save the cost of additional fittings and your fitters time.

Benton Triple GU10 Spotlight Fitting

Benton Triple GU10 Spotlight Fitting

5. Shop around for bathroom fittings

Many suppliers offer bathroom packs which are cheaper than buying individual items, or packs of matching bath and sink taps. Or look on eBay as you can often find second hand fittings that are in perfectly good condition, or lovely vintage items that people don’t care for anymore. I’ve even sold my customers old bathroom fittings to other customers. One mans trash is another mans treasure and all that.

So I have done all of the above for my customer and we’ve agreed on a plan that comes in under £4k for a bathroom thats approx. 3m by 4m, needs plastering and will include a bath and walk in shower. Challenge accepted – challenge met. Work hopefully starts in October so watch this space for what I can confidently predict will be some spectacularly good before and afters.

Oh and back to that game of musical chairs, for the record, I did win.

 

Mirror mirror on the wall

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

Decorating with mirrors

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

Feature gold sunburst mirror

Feature sunburst mirror – image via Pinterest

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

Set of three decorative gold mirrors

Trio of gold mirrors from Furniture in Fashion

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

Hexagonal mirror tiles

Collection of hexagonal mirror tiles – image via Pinterest

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

Gallery wall including pictures and mirrors

Collection of pictures and mirrors – image via Houzz

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

Gallery wall of mirrors

Gallery wall of mirrors – image via Houzz

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

Gallery wall of metallic mirrors

Collection of metallic mirrors – image via Houzz

Mirror Image

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

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 22.07.49

Mirrors reflect light and the view – image via Houzz

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

Glamorous bedroom with large mirrors either side of the bed

Uber glam bedroom – image via Houzz

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

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

Mirrored wall and doors visually double the size of this room

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

So where should you not put mirrors?

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

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

Vintage mirrors in bathroom

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

So time to chuck out that IKEA poster?

Come in for a ‘crack’ the refurb is finished

I’ve been learning a whole new language since I moved to Cumbria, the latest word being flartching. Before you try Google translate, don’t bother. For all you offcomers there’s a dictionary at the end. And FYI it was my dog that was described as a flartch not me, but to be fair we’ve both been known to flartch to get our own way. Other words that have now entered my vocabulary include ratching, laal and lonnin. I’ve even uttered ‘aas gan yam’ once or twice but I might have had a few… Now I wouldn’t skelp you for assuming that Cumbrian words were corruptions of English words, I used to be feckless too. But according to historians Cumbrian isn’t a dialect it’s a complete language. You only have to hear my neighbour Harold yammering with his old pals if you need evidence. But what’s this got to do with interior design you’re thinking? Well stop your twining I’m getting to it.

Joe Fagan is a proud Cumbrian, Cockermouth born and bred and a local businessman. He is also the landlord of The Swan Inn in Cockermouth and I’ve been helping him with a refurb.

The Swan, a traditional 18th century lakeland inn on historic Kirkgate in Cockermouth

When Joe took over the pub he just gave it a quick lick of paint, but after a great year of increasing customer numbers he wanted to show the regulars his gratitude and invest some of his own money in smartening up the place. His brief was quite clear though, we needed to retain all the character but tidy it up without it being unrecognisable to the regulars, i.e. a change without change. We also needed to acknowledge the various communities that used the pub, which included rugby fans, a brass band, folk singers, the quiz team and scrabble fans. Some brief eh? Shall we start with a few before images so you know what I was working with?

Cumbria, The Swan Inn Cockermouth

Cumbria, The Swan Inn Cockermouth

Cumbria, The Swan Inn Cockermouth

I’ll summarise…

Decor Positives

  1. Original beams
  2. Original sash windows
  3. Natural zones – two lounges, a bar area and TV/darts room
  4. A few good pieces of furniture
  5. Lots of nice prints and photos of the local area
  6. Some vintage paraphernalia we could use to accessorise

Decor Negatives

  1. Bright red, chipped paint
  2. A mixture of REALLY ugly lights
  3. Some cheap pine furniture
  4. Faded curtains covering the windows
  5. Horrible pub carpet
  6. A jumble sale of cheap picture frames, dying plants and crockery
  7. Horse brasses…..

Want to see it now? Well come on into the bar for a deekabout, just watch your napper.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

Much more inviting me thinks. Now lets move from the bar into the lower lounge, rarely used before but now much more popular. We moved all the old pews down there which really helps with the layout.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

It’s also much brighter without the old curtains and you can now see the lovely sash windows.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

Come on through to what the regulars are now calling The Library. You wouldn’t believe how many people have admired the new bookcase….

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

Pub goers love a good conversation point and this wallpaper has certainly given them that.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

Obviously the new lights have swan necks, and I’ve added a few swans here and there. This pair came from a shop in Lisbon of all places.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

I pillaged all the local charity shops for old books to scatter round the place as I love the character of an old book. If you pop in take a closer look there are some great reads among them.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

This is one of only two lights that survived as it makes quite a nice feature between the lounge and the library.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

I often tell customers that if there are 10 things they want to change but can only change 7 the other 3 won’t look so bad anyway, and this is definitely the case with the upholstery. Yes it is a little worn but it should be in a pub this old.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

So this is ‘band corner’ a small area we have dedicated to the local brass band. The alcove has been papered with some very discreet musical note wallpaper, and there are pics of the band and a few instruments on the wall. They love the umbrella stand which I am told is an E-Flat Base not a Tuba.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

I think the transformation is most obvious in the TV/Darts room. We’ve decorated with old pictures of the local rugby team and a few vintage rugby items. I let Joe keep one pub mirror but only because it has the local Jennings brewery on it.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

The regulars love the new toilet signs. They also serve as a distraction, I don’t think anyone has noticed I’ve taken down all the horse brasses.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

The bar rules are my favourite addition. The football lads can get a little rowdy you know…..

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

The signs above the arch are actually essential. Not for me and the landlord, us being a little vertically challenged, but the signs make everyone else take note before passing through. Keeps the accident numbers down.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

So what do you think? Fancy a pint?

You should pop in if you’re in the area. Mr W tells me that Joe keeps the best beer in Cumbria and he always has time for a crack with everyone.

The Swan Inn Cockermouth Cumbria

Cumbrian – English Translation

  1. Flartching – flirting
  2. Offcomer – non-native of Cumbria
  3. Ratching – rummaging
  4. Laal – little
  5. Lonnin – lane
  6. Aas gan yam – I’m going home
  7. Kelp – slap
  8. Yammering – speaking quickly and unintelligibly
  9. Twining – complaining
  10. Deekabout – look around
  11. Napper – head
  12. Crack – gossip, banter
  13. Lasses – women
  14. Marras – in West Cumbria women refer to their male partners as marras but its also a general term for mate or friend
  15. Grotting, gollering and brawling – spitting, shouting and fighting

The blue living room

I have some fabulous customers. They invite me in for a cuppa and a chat when I drop things off, and they give me presents and send me thank you cards. One customer is particularly lovely. She saves her eggs boxes for me, and has given me a number of things for my garden. She recently started saving me the interiors pages out of her Sunday paper for me, and thanks to an intro she made to a local estate agent I have a couple of potential jobs in the pipeline. She even calls me when she spots a new house going up somewhere so I can drop off my business card. I should be paying her. Which is why I’m so happy with how her living room turned out. It is quite a transformation even if I do say so myself but then it was looking pretty tired, see…

Living room before image

A lot of dusky pink and dark wood, and some very dated lights and soft furnishings.

Living room before image

There’s an empty fireplace hidden behind that coffee table and speakers…

Living room before image

But its a good size room and they had a budget that could potentially stretch to a complete makeover if I shopped around a bit.

After pondering the right look for them and their home I proposed an elegant scheme of blue and natural linen colours with a few pink accents for warmth. They were open to the idea of painting all the woodwork white and removing the dado rail, and providing we could do it within budget they also liked the idea of replacing the fireplace and adding a new fire.

Living room mood board by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

So are you ready?

The Blue Living Room Reveal

Tada!

Living room with Valspar Windblown blue and linen colour scheme with pale pink accents and Laura Ashley soft furnishings

What a difference eh?  I LOVE the colours in this room. The wall paint is called Windblown by Valspar and its a grown up, classical looking, powdery blue (if I can use that many words to describe a paint colour) with a hint of grey which takes it far enough away from looking like a childs nursery but still keeps the room looking light.

The new white stone fireplace looks very elegant, and the white woodwork frames the walls and almost makes their teak coffee table glow. (I’m getting quite poetic tonight aren’t I).

Living room with Valspar Windblown blue and linen colour scheme with pale pink accents and Laura Ashley soft furnishings

So the lighting is from Laura Ashley as are the curtains, all purchased in their sale so massive savings. They purchased the sofa and armchair after I sent them to look at another sale sofa at a local retailer. Apparently that one wasn’t comfy enough (which is why you should always send customers to test sofas) but this was and the same colours so fitted perfectly. Also in the sale so further savings made.

Living room with Valspar Windblown blue and linen colour scheme with pale pink accents and Laura Ashley soft furnishings

They used to have glass panelled doors between the living room and dining room but when their son moved back home they replaced them with solid doors to give him privacy as his room was beyond the dining room. They still had the old doors and privacy was no longer an issue so we brought them back which instantly made the room lighter. We carried the dining room carpet through into the living room (not literally obvs, we bought some more), and bought a second pair of the Laura Ashley curtains for the dining room so the rooms now flowed.

We actually finished the room before Christmas but the homeowners then agreed with me that they did need a second armchair so we had to wait for the one on the right to arrive.

Living room with Valspar Windblown blue and linen colour scheme with pale pink accents and Laura Ashley soft furnishings

They have some lovely traditional paintings and artwork around the house so we re-hung some of it in the living room, and now that the wallpaper and dado rail has gone the artwork becomes more of a feature and looks great against the blue walls.

Living room with Valspar Windblown blue and linen colour scheme with pale pink accents and Laura Ashley soft furnishings

I’d already planned to include some pink accents before Pantone announced their colour of the year for 2016, which is actually two colours, a pale blue and a pale pink. So the colour scheme is bang on trend,

Living room with Valspar Windblown blue and linen colour scheme with pale pink accents and Laura Ashley soft furnishings

They’d been against the idea of table lamps as apparently one of their grandchildren likes to do cartwheels in the living room (don’t we all) and they were concerned about accidents. Now I don’t like to be pushy but the room really needed at least one table lamp so I casually presented this little bargain to them when I went round to take the photos (£23 from Dunelm) and they decided to chance it. I also think it needs a rug and when I find the right one I’ll casually present that too….

Living room with Valspar Windblown blue and linen colour scheme with pale pink accents and Laura Ashley soft furnishings

So what do you think? I think it’s a bit la di da posh looking and House & Garden myself.

The Home Office

If you caught my last post or have been following my antics on Twitter you’ll know that there is a plan (and not much more at the mo) to convert my garage to a new fancy pants studio / workshop. But in the meantime I have been using the kitchen instead of my actual office, but I’ve been evicted by Mr W so have had to upgrade my actual office. Blah blah blah – all caught up?

Yesterday Operation Improve Actual Office commenced at around 1pm and finished roughly 24hrs later. In the hours leading up to this event I felt like I did before my last marathon. Sort of excited but nervous about the inevitable pain. And there was pain. There were flat packs involved. But other than a few terse exchanges it actually went much better than expected. So want to see the results?

First I think you need to understand the layout I’m working with. The room needs to remain a bedroom as we have a lot of visitors, and it has a staircase in it, two windows and a large radiator. Look…try and ignore the ugly lights, they’re going as soon as I’ve found suitable replacements.

Guest bedroom and home office

Guest bedroom and home office

So this is where I’ll be sitting oggling fabulous interiors stuff on the internet doing paperwork, research and making calls

Home office

Check out my new magnetic memo board with a handy pocket for paint charts

Home office

I bought 3 of these headphone wearing skulls for a children’s bedroom project and only used one. I know the grinning me in cap and gown is a bit off putting but Mr W insists I display it as doing my MBA when working full time (and a half) for a slave driving employer was quite an achievement he tells me, and he’s right, it nearly killed me.

Home office

Combing shelves and picture ledges turned out to be a winner as I can have more pics without giving up valuable shelf space. And those under shelf wire baskets (set of 2 for £5 from Dunelm) are genius.

Home office

And this is where I’ll be standing doing the more creative stuff, like testing paint samples and putting together mood boards. I realised today though that I also want a high stool with a back rest so that’s tomorrows distraction sorted. In the meantime I’ve pinched one from the kitchen.

Home office

Love my new wipeboard which I’m using to plot where customers are in the pipeline. These 30 minute or 3 day makeover programmes are a complete illusion, projects never happen quickly. I’m photographing one tomorrow that technically finished in December, but then another chair had to be ordered which only just arrived. Also smitten with my customer specific clipboards. I wasn’t this organised when I had 300 employees.

Home office

And look how witty I am.

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I now have a space for my NYC musical snow globe. When I was 21 I got sent to New York for a week on my own on a business trip. I thought I was the bees knees but I was also terrified as I’d never been anywhere on my own or to America and the subway did look exactly like it does in horror movies. Every time I look at this globe which I bought that week I smile and remember what an adventure it was.

Home office

But this is my favourite bit of the room.

Home office

Nothing in my house is straight or central and this fireplace is a shining example of its irregularities, which called for a little off-centre wall art. The print was an eBay bargain and the clock from Cult Furniture one of my go to places for cool stuff.

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I’m also very happy with my other eBay bargain print. Mr W was not at all sure. He thinks it look like a doctors surgery not an office.

Home office

This was my mantra when I started my own business so it had to have a home somewhere in here.

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And the best thing about this office? Well if it all gets too much I can always have a power nap.

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So in addition to the new stool I also want to change the lights (cue sigh from Mr W). There are really old fashioned (and not in a good way) but I’m struggling to find something with the right look and that will give out the same amount of light. Maybe that’s Thursdays distraction…

So what do you think, could you work in here?

Operation Improve Actual Office

The kitchen is my favourite room in the house, and since installing the island over a year ago it had become my live, work, dining space. I say ‘had’ because I’m being evicted. Now that Mr W lives with me 7 days a week it is no longer practical for me to treat the kitchen as my office and test paints, create mood boards and do all my paperwork on the island. Which is a shame because it’s perfect for all those jobs.

1909 kitchen in rectory red and ringwood ground by Amelia Wilson Interiors Ltd

My kitchen and soon to be former live, work, dining space…..

I do have an office in the spare bedroom above the kitchen, but it was designed for my past life and I outgrew it the minute I started my own business. I also have a plan to convert our garage to an office / workshop. A plan which I hope will be implemented this year but hasn’t yet started. So right now I need a plan B, which explains why I was in Ikea at 8pm last night.

Plan B – Operation Improve Actual Office

So my temporary solution is to improve my existing office. It can’t cost too much as I need to pay for the new office / workshop, and it all needs to be easily removable so that I can relocate it all to the new office / workshop when its ready, and return the room to a bedroom.

So the beautiful but impractical antique desk and leather captains chair will be going on eBay this weekend, and their sale will fund the improvements. The bed is staying as this will be a temporary office and I like having enough beds for our many many house guests, but the bedsides will have to go into the loft temporarily. This will give me enough space for two desks. One to sit at gawking at fabulous interiors stuff on the internet doing research, paperwork and phone calls. The other to stand at test paint samples and create mood boards. My house was built in 1756 so a lot of the decor is traditional or rustic as the house lends itself to these styles. But I’ve gradually been adding other elements to give it a bit more interest. So this time I’m going for a Scandinavian look with clean lines, natural wood and a simple black and white scheme.

Skandi style office

Image via Pinterest

There’s a lot of natural oak in the room so I’ve gone for oak effect table tops with black adjustable legs to counter any problems with the wonky original floorboards. I would have loved one of their BEKANT sit/stand adjustable desks and wasted a good 20 minutes playing with the adjustable height and dreaming. I mean just look how happy these office workers are……or maybe they’re just gawking at fabulous interiors stuff too. But I would have still needed two desks for the extra worktop space so I walked away after making myself a firm promise that I can have one when I get the new office / workshop.

The BEKANT sit/stand desk from IKEA

BEKANT sit/stand desk from IKEA – £445

I would also have loved trestle legs but one of the tables will only have two legs with the back fixed to the wall so that it can wrap around the radiator instead of having to sit in front of it. These restrictions do mean though that I could have two desks with legs for just £115. You gotta love IKEA.

LINNMON / FINNVARD table in grey/white from IKEA

LINNMON / FINNVARD table from IKEA

Thankfully I don’t need a lot of drawer space. So one drawer unit will be enough. There will be enough oak going on in the room now so I picked a simple black one with steel drawer labels.

KLIMPEN Drawer Unit from IKEA

KLIMPEN drawer unit from IKEA – £65

I kept my practical head on just long enough to pick a chair. I damaged my coccyx during my one and only wind surfing lesson (and spent the rest of the week face down on a sun lounger), and am too old to sit without lumber support so ergonomics came first and last on this occasion. Although I did think the wire mesh on this one would go nicely with the wire organisers I planned to find.

FLINTAN / NOMINELL swivel chair with armrests

FLINTAN / NOMINALL swivel chair with armrests from IKEA – £64

And now the fun stuff starts… I’m a huge fan of the HEKTAR range of lights from IKEA. The range comes in dark grey or bronze and includes a floor lamp, pendant shade, a 3-spot ceiling track light and these fabulous wall lights which can also clamp on to a desk or shelf. I’ll take two of those please. I may add another two if  I need extra light on both sides of each desk.

HEKTAR wall/clamp spotlight from IKEA

HEKTAR wall/clamp light from IKEA – £13

I need a memo board for reminders and what not and like the idea of a magnetic one. This black stainless steel one from Master of Boards fits nicely into my scheme and the space next to the window. It comes with magnets and hooks but for an extra fiver I added a pack of 20 additional mini magnets.

Master of boards stainless steel magnetic memo board

Master of boards stainless steel magnetic memo board – £26.99 from Amazon

I’ve bought a whiteboard so I can display where my customers are in the pipeline and underneath this I’m going to have clipboards for each customer for their to do list and latest receipts – check me out, Mrs Organised.

Masonite Clipboards

Pack of 5 masonite clipboards – £8.99 from Amazon

I’ve ordered a couple of shelves and picture ledges for above the sitting desk which Mr W will be fitting. I’m not to be trusted with a drill. I practically whooped with delight when I saw this pic on the IKEA website. What a great way to store the rolls of lining paper I use to test paint samples.

EKBY LERBERG wall bracket from IKEA

EKBY LERBERG wall bracket from IKEA – £2

I’ve ordered some shoe box size storage boxes for business cards, phone chargers, batteries and other paraphernalia which will fit on the shelves. Black obvs.

TJENA box with lid from IKEA

TJENA box with lid from IKEA – £1.25

I’ve written before about my love of wire (see earlier post – Totally Wired) so this is a great opportunity to indulge myself with a few wire magazine holders etc. mostly from Amazon, totally making that Prime membership work for me.

Wire magasine files and wire desk tidy

And after bagging so many IKEA and Amazon bargains I felt I deserved a treat. Every office needs a clock and I’ve been hankering after a sunburst clock for a while. This black George Nelson clock from Cult Furniture is perfect and will look fab above the black woodburner.

George Nelson Black Sunburst Clock from Cult Furniture

George Nelson black sunburst clock – £59 from Cult Furniture

While I was on the Cult Furniture site I stumbled across this cheeky little item and as it was reduced to £7 I just couldn’t resist.

Speech bubble memo light box from Cult Furniture

Speech bubble memo light box – £7 from Cult Furniture

OK so up until now I was doing really well budget wise, well under £500 for everything. Then I got sidetracked. It started with me thinking, ‘ooh I’d love an opticians eye test chart to frame and put on the shelves’. This then led me to eBay and a huge framed vintage print. Which then led me to another framed print the seller had of a phrenology head. £40 each which I thought was a bargain for the size of them. Well that’s what I’m telling myself.

Opticians eye test chart framed print

Medical Phrenology Head framed print

Fabulous aren’t they.

So I’m aiming to get the existing desk out on Friday and the IKEA haul arrives on Saturday so Sunday will be spent arguing with Mr W as is traditional when we have to build furniture or do DIY together, Can’t wait!

Pics to follow.