How to Add Wow! to Your Bedroom

Design Advise and Inspiration for your bedroom
Design Advise and Inspiration for your bedroom
Design advise and inspiration for your bedroom.

Does your bedroom resemble a walk-in wardrobe? Is the decor O.K. but the room looks ‘tired’ and dysfunctional? Does your bedroom look like this…..?

A disorganised bedroom requiring love and attention
A bedroom in much need of love and attention in all areas.

Your bedroom should be a refuge at the end of a busy day, somewhere peaceful with the feel good factor to help relax and induce sleep. It should also make you feel good in the morning, all are psychological factors in our subconsciousness and effect health and sleep.

The most important item is your bed, well, your mattress to be precise. You must ensure that it is giving you the correct lumbar support. Always try out the mattress before purchasing.

As your bed is probably the largest item of furniture in the room, it is the obvious focal point. Your eyes will naturally be drawn to the bed. Make it look inviting and gorgeous. A statement headboard can be just the thing you need to add the ‘Wow’ factor to your bedroom.

This is why here at Sarah Maidment Interiors, we are excited to launch our very own range of bespoke headboards. Our headboards are available in a range of sizes to suit either standard bed sizes, or made to measure. They can be wall or bed mounted if you have a divan bed.


Whether covered in a plain fabric with studs, or upholstered in a fabulous fabric to compliment your decor, our exclusive design will certainly ‘pack a punch’.

We custom make every order, so if you’re looking for a ‘designer’ headboard with extra height, a specific design or fabric of your choosing, then we will be more than happy to accommodate. The possibilities are endless!


The cheapest way to achieve a boost  is with some new bedding. Some prefer plain and white bedding only; they choose to dress the bed by adding a throw or blanket and perhaps some cushions. I rarely add more than two cushions personally, otherwise they get thrown across the room by my husband. He finds the cushions irritating. You cannot please everyone!

If you are the sort of person who loves patterns and prints, just be careful to ensure that the colour and design compliment your existing colour scheme. If you’re planning to decorate the whole room, an eye-catching duvet cover can serve as a staring point for your new bedroom decor scheme.



There’s rarely enough storage for clothes in a bedroom, given the changeable climate of the U.K.

A large number of homes have free standing wardrobes, but built-in ones offer clever storage facilities and make better use of available space. Interior wardrobe lighting is important too, whether wired in LED sensor strip lights or self adhesive sensor lights. It does help find what your looking for! A ‘wash’ of lighting in the exterior creates ambience.

Built in wardrobes with external lighting
Built in wardrobes makes good use of all space. By

Chests of Drawers provide great storage and can also double as a bedside cabinet if space allows – just ensure that the height of the chest of drawers is the correct height to your bed. This rule applies to bedside cabinets and tables too; you need to be able to easily access your morning tea, or water without spillage. These do not have to be matching. Add interest with different tables or drawers.


A vintage trunk, basket or ottoman at the foot of the bed is great for storing bedding and spare linens and frees up space in an airing cupboard. Ottoman beds are an ideal choice if space is tight for items not required on a frequent basis. A bedroom chair is useful, but all too often hidden under a pile of discarded clothes!


Lighting is crucial to get right. A bedroom requires several layers of light intended for different moods and uses. A good over head light is needed for cleaning ( and perhaps rummaging in your wardrobe if you don’t have internal lighting). A dimmer pendant light offers flexibility to add a softer light when required.

Bedroom lighting shown in layers.
Example of layered lighting in a bedroom. By

Bedside tables and cabinet lamps add textural or patterned interest with the shade, which introduces another element into your rooms decor.  Ensure the base of the lampshade is at least shoulder height when sitting in bed to enable reading. A separate wall mounted reading light could be added too, such as an angle poise lamp which offers greater flexibility.



Good lighting on a dressing table to reflect light onto your face for make up application and hair drying is essential. This could be a dimmer light or nice lamp, whichever is your preference.

Flooring is a very personal choice.  Whether a fitted carpet, wooden floor boards or tiles;  rugs add both a luxury element and anchor the room.  One way to achieve this is by using small rugs placed each side of the bed, or one large rug placed centrally under the bed to add another decorative dimension and interest to your bedroom.


And so to bed….zzzzz

Ten Interior Design Tips Using Mirrors in Your Home

Ten interior design tips using mirrors in your home
How to enhance light, display and create the illusion of space

‘Mirror, mirror on the wall’, is often quoted in jest. However, ‘never a truer word is spoken in jest’. So apart from using mirrors to check your spots (if a teenager), broccoli stuck between your teeth, shaving and make up application, which to be fair are necessary to daily life, let’s explore the possibilities.



  1. Use as a Focal Point. Hang one large or over sized statement mirror above a fireplace or behind a bed. (Please ensure its securely anchored to the wall capable to hold the weight). This will add impact to your room.



2. Use as a Display. Use a collection of mirrors with different frames and sizes and hang on one wall. This really does make a lovely display wall and a change from artwork.




3. Group Together. If you have two, three or five ( general rule of thumb is ratios of odd numbers, but a matching pair does work too) of the same style mirror, even possibly different sizes: these can be hung above an item of furniture such as a chest of drawers or console table to ‘anchor’ them. With the addition of a table lamp to reflect the light, and some well chosen ornaments you will create a lovely vignette.

Lamps placed in front of large mirrors creates a vingnette
Lamps placed in front of mirrors look stunning at night.

4. Light Reflection. This is a well known and loved interior design trick to add light to a poorly lit room from a window. Place the mirror on the opposite or adjacent wall to the window to reflect the light into the room.




5. Image Reflection. To visually help create the illusion of space, hang a mirror to reflect an outside view back into the room (only if its a good view mind,) or from an opposite wall in the room. This will help highlight the rooms best features.

6. Frames. Consider choosing interesting frames in a variety of shapes and sizes. Or you could choose frames with all the same colour. All will add interest and individuality to your decor.



7. Style. The frame will reflect ( sorry!) the style and look of the mirror, modern, antique, contemporary, traditional etc. So ensure that the style chosen will compliment your existing rooms decor.

8. Size Matters. Ensure you know where you want to hang the mirror, with approximate dimensions before purchasing. However, should you expectantly fall in love with a mirror whilst out, try thinking of at least one other place you could hang the mirror, to avoid a disappointing investment.

Colour washed mirror glass
Stunning paint washed mirror from

9. Mirrored Doors. Often used on wardrobe doors,  useful space saving and full length uses. Great for small walk in wardrobes to create the illusion of space, and ‘visually creating a sense of space’. Personally, if at all possible I would avoid hanging these opposite my bed. I wouldn’t particularly like to see myself sitting in bed. I also understand that it’s bad Feng Shui.




10. Mirrored Frames. Art work, paintings and photographs can look very effective framed with mirrored glass. These could be used as an alternative to mirrors for display purposes.


Set of pictures framed with mirror frames
Mirrored Picture Frames

The Art of French Dressing

French inspired fireplace and mantle vignette Chateau Lartigolle
French inspired fireplace and mantle vignette Chateau Lartigolle
French inspired fire place and mantle vignette at Chateau Lartigolle

French Country-style evokes memories of holidays in rural France and the lifestyle many hanker after, simpler and pared back. French linens on beds, sack cloth cushions, delicate lace panels, shutters and sturdy, functional wooden furniture. However, you need not be a slave to replicate every detail to reproduce this style. Add some modern paintings and lighting as successfully married together at La Souqueto  Chambres D’ Hotes

This style is in stark contrast to excesses of King Louis X1V and the ‘Versailles’ heavily gilded ornate furniture and lavish furnishings (with a lifestyle to match!). French Baroque with grand chandeliers, heavy drapes embellished with brocades hung at large windows and around beds in grand palaces.

Ornate French bedroom
Heavily adorned French bedroom

This of course is different to Parisian homes, where space is generally at a premium. Chic, pared down, with a considered use of available square footage. Think of the famous words of Coco Chanel ‘Less is more’ which is true for interiors as well as fashion.

Then, of course, there is the French Chateau, which can be a mix of ornate furniture, chandeliers, Toile de Jouy fabric and wallpaper, distressed painted wall treatments all add to the atmosphere, to simple lime washed walls.

Before investing in gallons of white paint as a starting point, what about colour? Homes in warmer climates use white to brighten their dark shuttered rooms, but can appear ‘cold’ in more northern homes. Think of the fields of sunflowers and lavender, Monet’s use of colour at his home in Girverny.

Perhaps there are elements from the traditional French interior styles you like and dislike. Try mixing the items you like together, oversized chandeliers with rustic wooden furniture. Simple Roman blinds made from French linen edged with a brocade, picking out colours within the room for a cohesive scheme. Do you want to create a romantic French feel to your bedroom (boudoir!) with lace, Toile in greys and blues or French country kitchen?

Chateau La Lartigolle has beautifully and successfully transformed into a chic boutique country house hotel using a mixture of dark and ‘sludgy’ colours on their interior walls as well as wallpaper. They’ve mixed traditional French style with antique, modern and vintage pieces from 1930’s armchairs to 1950’s side tables, wall art from the 1960’s, including Jimmy Hendrix and modern contemporary pieces. The Chateau creates a surprising eclectic mix which is warm, comfortable and very easy to live with. Ideas to inspire and perhaps steal?

Dark red walls old leather armchair with interesting accessories makes a cosy corner
A cosy corner for a quiet read.
Blue Bedroom at Chateau Latigolle
The Blue Bedroom at Chateau Latigolle is calming and understated.
Mixed Vintage furniture in Chateau Latigolle
Mixed vintage pieces create a comfortable eclectic interior
White wall clock modern and contemporary art pop out against a dark grey wall
Mixed styles work well together
Modern art with pearlescent paint refllects light on a dark wall
Pearlescent paint reflects light in a dark corner.
A glass vignette on a table
A glass vignette
A mantle Piece styled with blue glass ornaments books and bust
A beautifully styled mantle piece
Hearth and fireplace style with Venician mirror bust blue glass and Chinese vases
A mixture of styles and arrangements makes a stunning focal point.
Jimmy Hendrix hangs on wall in Chateau Latigolle
Jimmy Hendrix hung on a sitting room wall at Chateau Latigolle
A glass window vignette at Chateau Latigolle
Window Vignette
Grand staircase dressed with chandelier and modern prints
A grand staircase with chandelier and modern prints

Adding Character to Your Home

Adding Character to your home using vintage and antiques
Create a home which tells your story

Inject your personality, style and soul into your home and garden, not by sourcing everything from one high street shop. Your home will end up looking like a show home, far too contrived and bland. Whether you’re preferred taste is Retro, Shabby Chic, Vintage, Industrial, contemporary or even a mixture of styles creating an eclectic, individual home. By mixing it up a bit you’re creating a home which reflects you, and enhances your home. Take time to enjoy gathering ‘loved’ items. Homes and gardens evolve over time.

Selection of elecltic Interiors for every room
Eclectic interior ideas

If you’re looking for an unusual or particular item of furniture, lighting or accessories to add personality to your home or garden by visiting local vintage shops, such as The Vintage Vagabond or Home and Colonial in Berkhamsted, and Emporiums. The Fleetville and Hitchin emporiums are home to many small traders, as well as  Station Mill Antique, The  Old Flight House and the Three Wise Monkeys ( formally at The Saddlery, St Albans, now at a smaller venue at Woodside Farm, Slip End and the images shown here are of the previous premises). Packed with unusual items. Some will revoke memories of childhood ( scary, as some of us realize that we, too are vintage!). A monthly Antique and Vintage Street Market is held once a month in St Albans, which is definitely worth a visit.



A few pieces of furniture have been ‘upcycled’ into bespoke one-off  items, which could transform a room. Images show pieces by Carmel of Piece Unique and by me Sarah Maidment Interiors. We both take commissions  if you have your own item of furniture which you’d like customising.



You will also find Kelim rugs, cushions, and  stools and chairs upholstered in gorgeous Kelim rugs from Rug Addiction . Other chairs re-upholstered, homemade cushions and artwork to grace your walls.

Kelim rugs, cushions and upholstered furniture
An array of Kelim rugs, cushions and upholstered furniture by Rug Addiction

If vintage clothing is your passion, Little Viking have an array of dresses, jackets, shoes and bags for all. ‘Oh Sew Vintage’ for handmade dresses for all occasions.



You will also find every conceivable Doc Martin design boot you could ever wish for.

Selection of Doc Martin Boots, vintage heaters and lamp
Doc Martin boots, vintage heaters and lighting

Vintage books, comics, and  postcards can be found for collectors and unusual hand-made jewellery by local artisans.



Modern works of art and photography adorn the walls. This stunning picture of Nelson Mandela (below) taken by the photographer Greg Bartley would look amazing gracing the wall of a large room.


Limited edition framed photograph of Nelson Mandela by Greg Bartley
Visually stunning photograph of Nelson Mandela by Greg Bartley

IMG_6804Come and say ‘hello’ and meet Colin the resident ‘horse’ .

Fake horse called Colin
Colin, a reminder of the barns former life as a saddlery and stables

How to Update a Lamp Base with Gilding

Silver gilded lamp base

Silver gilded lamp base

Sometimes when we newly decorate a room, some of our existing furniture, furnishings and accessories we want to re-use don’t quite fit in with the new scheme and décor. Gilding is an alternative to painting or purchasing new items. It works well on mirror and picture frames, candlesticks and furniture.With larger items like furniture, work on one manageable area at a time.

Although an acceptable finish, these lamp bases did not blend in with their intended new position .

Here is a quick step by step guide should you want to give it a go yourself.


Gilding paper

Gold Size

Annie Sloan dark wax

White spirit


Small paint brush

Small firm bristled brush ( artists)

Lint free cloth


  1. With the small paint brush, ‘paint’ the gold size over the lamp base ( if doing more than one item, do one at a time otherwise the ‘size’ will dry too much, as it acts like glue) to the areas you want gilding. The size will appear white, and when ready to use will appear clear.
Gold size brushed onto lamp base
Gold size brushed onto lamp base
  1. Taking one sheet of gilding paper at a time, silver or gold side down onto the surface and dab and brush gently onto the backing paper. The gilding will stick to the size.
Brushing gilding onto lamp base
Gently brush the gilding onto the size
  1. Gently lift the paper, and move onto the next area which needs gilding. Don’t worry if the silver or gold tears or breaks as this will give a slightly distressed and worn appearance, adding interest. Continue until all the gilding has been applied to the areas you want to gild. Leave to dry.
  1. If gilding more than one item, repeat the above process.
  2. If you want a bright shiny finish to the lamp bases, ( or item being gilded) apply clear wax to seal it.
  3. If an ‘aged’ or ‘antiqued’ finish is required mix a little Annie Sloan dark wax with a small amount of white spirit in a plastic bowl to form a soft malleable wax which can be brushed easily with a small paint brush, and apply over the lamp base.
  1. After a couple of minutes, with a small lint free cloth gently wipe off the excess wax solution. The dark wax should be in any grooves or details and a toned down silver or gold with an ‘aged’ patina on the smoother surfaces.
  1. Leave to dry and fit with shades.

Shade from IKEA

If you intend to use an IKEA lampshade, and a non IKEA lamp base, ensure that the lampshde comes with a metal adaptor ring. The ring sits on top of the lamp base with the shade on top, and prevents the shade being wobbly.

Gilded detail to draw edges
Gilding on draw edges to add interest.

Bespoke vintage gilded furniture from Piece Unique

Sideboard completely gilded
A gilded sideboard by Piece Unique

Gilding papers by Annie Sloan
Gilding papers by Annie Sloan

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House (16) On The Tiles

1930's inspired bathroom from Fired Earth
1930’s inspired bathroom from Fired Earth

Some weeks, despite the flurry of activity progress appears to be slow. The preparation, planning and installation of the drainage system and bathrooms are all necessary, but not much visually to show for efforts made. It’s the big things which offer the impact and excitement. However, they’re all necessary in the bigger picture, and will save time in the long run.

The bathroom and en- suites have been plumbed in dry. This means without being connected to the water supply. Although the boiler/ plant room is now under construction we still only have the outside mains to work from. So we all have to continue to use the hired portaloo and get water from various hosepipes being used around the site. It can be time consuming trying to fill the kettle! These rooms have been tiled and all fitted with sanitary ware. I had wanted to have metro or subway tiles to full height in the family bathroom, with a black mosaic border. However, the time to plan, cut and lay these tiles brick style is considerably longer than other tiles, thus adding to the cost. (Laying porcelain tiles is more expensive than ceramic due to the extra time required for cutting and drilling). I achieved a similar look for less cost by buying larger rectangular tiles to be laid brick style. I used white grout, but grey would also work well.

Choosing tiles can be difficult with the vast choice available. Try and have an idea of the sort of colour and design you prefer, and of course budget, prior to visiting tile showrooms. Look for ideas in magazines, and think about how you would like the tiles laid, portrait, landscape or herringbone.  Porcelain  tiles are stronger, take longer to lay and are more expensive to buy, but better quality.  Ceramic tiles tend to be cheaper, and are easier to cut and lay. Marble and natural stone is a classic and popular choice, but expensive and can require sealing after laying. Large tile warehouses offering  discounts may not be offering the best deals, or value for money, so shop around. Specialist tile companies may offer better deals, discontinued or end of lines in sales, but do ensure you buy sufficient for your needs by adding 10% extra for cutting and possible wastage. There’s nothing worse than running out before finishing the job and having to hunt to find more tiles. Also ensure that the tiles are the same size and depth. Crazy as this sounds tiles are not always uniform, which can cause difficulty in laying. Choose a grout to enhance the tiles. There are many grout colours available, and having a colour other than white in a shower may save time in cleaning the pink discolouration which occurs from shampoo and body wash. If you have a stud wall, you maybe able to build in a recess to house toiletries, thus avoiding chrome storage, which are susceptible to rusting.

The flooring can be anything so long as it’s waterproof. Tiles are durable, but choose a non slip surface. Under floor heating laid prior to the tiles, either piped ( only in new laid screed floors) or an electric matting system, gives warmth. Electric matting is independently switched to provide heat even without the central heating on. You have to register your system with the manufacture after installation.

Vinyl is easy to lay and warm underfoot, without the need for extra heating. Amtico or Karndean are more expensive but equally durable. Waterproof laminates are another option, they are also available is a wide range of designs and colours.I opted for a good quality vinyl, which I ordered a few weeks before needing it. The plan being it would arrive when the bathroom installations were finished. I went to collect my order, but discovered the shop had only ordered one and not three. I had to reorder the other two again. The shop, although apologetic couldn’t explain what had happened. The flooring had been on sale when I originally ordered, but was no longer on sale. The shop were going to charge me full price, until I pointed out how unfair this would be. However, they refused to waiver the extra charge for my express delivery! I will go elsewhere for my carpets I think.

The side plant room went up very quickly, once the foundation depths had been agreed. The plans stated a depth of  2.8 meters, but we couldn’t get a digger in the space to dig out the required depth. It would take a long time to manually dig a trench this deep. The engineer had stated these depths due to next doors fir tree. After emails, calculations and liaising with Building Control it was agreed to lay a concrete slab and then beam and block the floor. The  roof was felt and battened to make water tight, and the new back door installed. Our roofer then went on holiday, so we were unable to finish the roof at this point. This did not hinder progress though, we could now install the mega flow and boiler and connect to the heating and domestic plumbing. Now having plumbed in dry, it’s very stressful when the water is connected, as a leak could occur anywhere in the house. A lot of people were running all over the house looking for potential problems. There was one small leak, which was rectified quickly. We now have working inside taps and flushing toilets – luxury.

The roof on the garage has been built and the porch erected, both being felt and battened in readiness for the roofers return. This means, in theory that all the rooves can be completed in a few days.

Christmas Past, Present and Those Yet to Come

Lighthearted view on why we keep our Christmas traditions
Lighthearted view on why we keep our Christmas traditions
A lighthearted view on our Christmas traditions and why we keep them.

I wonder how many people retrieved their Christmas decorations from the attic or from the back of a cupboard this last weekend, ready to decorate their homes during the coming weeks. My large boxes of decorations have grown in number from one to four, adding to the collection over the years. I don’t use all the decorations from all of the boxes, just selecting a few depending on the chosen colour to blend and not compete with the rooms decor or theme for the current year. However, some favourite ones are used each year evoking memories of Christmas’s past.

Vintage glass baubles. image from
Vintage glass baubles. image from

I have vintage glass baubles, still in their original boxes, given by mother during a house move, which remind me of our Christmas trees as a child. In another shoe box are an assortment of decorations my children made whilst at school, one of which is a felt ‘Father Christmas’, which now has a boot missing, but is always hung on the tree. The Angel or Fairy is the same one I had as a child. I did give her a bit of a ‘makeover’ a few years ago with gold ribbon and new wings, although now rather tired and jaded again she sits in pride of place on top of the tree, above the star, always last as the crowning glory. There is a green luminous rubber spider, once retrieved from a cracker which always creeps onto the tree – hung to irritate me of course. I remove it, and it manages to reappear as if by magic! The ‘tinsel issue’ always appears too. I prefer ribbon wrapped round, the others like tinsel. Silver tinsel can look great in the right setting – but not mine. It’s amazing too, how quickly foil wrapped chocolates disappear, completely on their own of course! However you choose to decorate your tree, like your interiors, ensure it reflects you and your personality.


Some decorations have been bought on holidays, beautiful Indian beaded stars, bells and trees. I have a Waterford glass Angel with a message etched onto it, given by friends. I think of them always whilst hanging it from a branch. We gather together to decorate the tree, and put on what the kids call ‘Cheesy Christmas music’, which is a family tradition. This year my son put on a South Park Christmas CD, which just wasn’t the same!


Choosing the right tree is not to be taken lightly. I love to observe people buying their trees. Without being sexist,  guys will generally walk in, pick up the first tree he comes to and is ready to go to the pay desk, until his partner stops him. Women tend to pick over several trees, and any  ‘possibles’ are held by the partner whilst she scrutinizes them. The trees are held patiently – sometimes offering suggestions which are often ignored. You spot the ‘perfect’ tree someone else has picked out and hover nearby hoping they will reject it, and eagerly pounce on it if it is. Conversations maybe struck up with other tree shoppers on the merits of each tree. Some people sing or hum along to the Christmas music being played, unaware that they are doing so. This process will continue for a while, until the perfect tree has been found, or the partner has really had enough!

The 'perfect' tree. painting by Carl Larsen
The ‘perfect’ tree. painting by Carl Larsen

1. Remember the tree will look smaller amongst the other trees when buying. Trees tend to ‘grow’ when placed in it’s designated area in your home.

2. Choose the position carefully. Furniture will often have to be re-arranged to accommodate your tree, but not to the detriment of comfort or the view of the T.V. Consider access to a plug socket for the fairy lights and ease of switching them off and on.

3. Height – measure your ceiling height. You don’t want to pay extra if paying by the foot only to find you have to cut off the top or bottom of the tree in order for it to fit.

4. Shape – Not too busy at the bottom, with a sparse top. A graduated triangular shape is ideal.

5. If placing your tree on a table top ensure it will not be too heavy to lift or for the surface to withhold the weight.

6. Think about the container  or stand for the tree, ensuring that it is stable and fit for purpose. You can always cover a plastic bucket with a grain sack, (a sheet of  crumpled Christmas wrapping paper is a poor effort) place in an attractive garden pot. Trees last longer whether with or without roots if you can water them.


My ninety year old, partially sighted mother puts up her small table top imitation tree each year in her flat and hangs the same decorations. The tree and decorations are from 1982, so very retro! The tree and decorations were my sisters, now sadly no longer with us, but the tree is bought out each year in memory of her. Although she lives alone, my mother enjoys the pleasure her tree gives, and thinks it’s worth all the effort.

I’m sure in Christmas’s yet to come, many decorations  will evoke memories and traditions carried on by future generations. Happy Christmas!

Image from


Light My Fire! – Ideas and Advice for Open Fires, Wood Burning Stoves and Decor

Advice and ideas on open fires and multifuel stoves
Advice and ideas on open fires and multifuel stoves
Advice and ideas on open fires and Multifuel Stoves

As the evenings draw in and get cooler we are forced to retreat once more indoors for the evenings, we long to ‘cosy up’. Nothing quite fits the bill the same as a fire, be it open, woodburning or other fuel. With a fire lit, the room immediately becomes welcoming and creates a focal point. In our 1930’s house, we have an original brick fireplace, which we intend to keep. However, as this room will be used as a family room or office, I doubt very much if we will ever use it. With this in mind, we have thought about a small wood burning stove to fit into the existing aperture. This would keep our options open. I’m rubbish at lighting open fires and find a stove is far easier. In the new sitting room (when it has been built, subject to planning approval) we would like a large woodburning stove. This stove will not have a chimney breast, but will be placed against a flat wall, with the flue going out through the outside wall. This gives a challenge to the design of the surround and focal point of the room, which needs to include wood storage of some description too. I’m working on this, but need to decide on the stove first. Here are some considerations and advice to think about.

1.Open Fires – If you have a chimney breast, but the fireplace has been long removed, you can open this up to use again. There should be a heat resistant hearth, a fire back to enclose the fire, a lintel to support the the brickwork above, a flue and a chimney. You will need to check that the chimney is not blocked with debris or ‘capped’on the chimney pot. It is also important that smoke is drawn up the chimney and doesn’t billow into the room. This can tend to be more of a  a problem in open fireplaces. Contact The Solid Fuel Advisory Association who can advise you and suggest approved merchants. The chimney needs to be swept too. Depending on the fuel you intend to burn, this has a has bearing on the choice of grate to go in the fireplace. Seasoned logs (at least a year old, otherwise the sap will clog up the flue) wood pellets, coal or coke or a mixture of these fuels. Check if you are in a smoke controlled area with your local authority first. Remember that wood needs plenty of dry storage space, and be cut small enough to fit in the fire.

2. Wood Burning Stoves – When choosing a woodburning stove the style is not the only consideration, but the size and heat output of the stove in relation to the rooms capacity. Too large and you will ‘roast’, too small and it will not provide sufficient warmth. The basic calculation is to divide the volume of the room in cubic metres by 14. This gives you the heat out put you need. It is advisable to purchase a DEFRA approved stove. Stoves have become very popular over the last few years, and create a real focal point, whether traditional, cylindrical, wall mounted or raised in a simple hearth. The design and fire surround should be in scale with the room.

3. Flueless Fires – Just because you don’t have a chimney breast, it  doesn’t mean you can’t have a fire. Opt for a flueless design. These fires are super efficient, with running costs on average a third of the price of comparable conventional fires. Another option is a balanced flue fire, which has a sealed glass front and a direct vent to the outside. Flueless options can be run on gas, electricity or bio-ethanol. Gas being the cheapest option at present, providing heat over a longer period of time. Bio-ethanol is generally the most expensive option, and can cause condensation, so are best used for shorter periods of time and used more as a feature.

4. Fire Surrounds – Position the mantle shelf either below or above the halfway point between the ceiling and the floor to avoid cutting the wall in half visually. The mantle shelf should not over hang the chimney breast and looks best being the same length as the breast. Always choose a larger surround than a smaller one to make a statement. Architectural salvage and reclaimed surrounds, whether wooden, stone, marble tiled or cast iron can look stunning in either traditional or modern interiors. If you’re prepared to put in the work to restore the surround this will save you money, as fully restored can be pricey. You can make your own surround from timber, and if you’re going to paint it use a heat resistant paint.

5. Fireplace Wall and Mantle Shelf Decor – This is an important part of the rooms decor. Hang a large single painting or statement mirror centrally over the fireplace. The fireplace will ‘anchor’ the piece. Hanging a television over the fireplace has been a popular choice  for some, but personally the T.V. tends to be too high for me, and I dislike the blank dark screen as a focal point and prefer to place the T.V. in a less obtrusive place, perhaps hidden from view when not in use. There are T.V.’s available which look like a mirror when switched off which is ideal, but are expensive. A set of prints or an eclectic mix hung above can work well too. Try painting the chimney breast a darker shade than the surrounding walls, or paint the whole wall a darker shade than the rest of the room.

The mantle shelf holding a small selection of decorative items to enhance the wall hung decor, fireplace, and room, adds the finishing touches. Create a vignette and treat as a whole entity. Small framed photographs, candles or ornaments. But remember less is often more, so don’t over do it.

All images from Pinterest

French Dressing

Summer is upon us, and we look forward to warmer days, relaxing and enjoying summertime activities with friends and family. We also look forward to a well earned holiday. Many head south to France to enjoy fine food, wine and the countryside.  French markets are a popular destination, and whilst falling in love with the many goods on offer, that we regret travelling by plane with one cabin bag allowance and should have bought the car, or better still a van, so as to take all these wonderful items home with us. Antique furniture, lace and linen fabrics which would look wonderful to create the French style in your home. Thankfully there are many suppliers online and nearer to home of French furniture and furnishings which solves the heartache! Etsy, and eBay are always good for sourcing. Or visit Lille in September when they hold an event selling an array of goods, just take your car!


So how do you recreate the French chic style? Keep it simple, pared down with a few well chosen pieces of furniture, furnishings and fabrics. ‘Less is more’ to quote Coco Chanel. French interiors do not look too contrived, but lived in.  Lots of gilding and Baroque interiors may have looked amazing in the French Chateau, but could look rather over the top in a suburban home, so use only on mirrors, picture frames and key items of furniture. Likewise, you may long for a French Boudoir style bedroom. Avoid too much red other wise it could look like the Moulin Rouge.


Key Colours – In Provence you will find sunny yellows and bight blue. Elsewhere reds, blues, gentle sludgy earthy tones. Colour’s like French  grey’s and linen are popular, especially in rural areas. These soft colour’s suit the British climate too, always appear calm and are  good base colour’s to start from. Paint your floor boards if you have them a neutral colour to reflect the light and enhance the decor, or leave bare for a more rustic vibe.  Lay a natural sisal or jute carpet for comfort.


Sludgy greys and blues
Sludgy greys and blues

Key Fabrics – French linens, gingham, Toil de Jouy and striped ticking in the key colours add to the laid back style. Use for curtains, cushions or upholstery.  Delicate French lace panels to create privacy, and add a feminine feel, and can be added as an extra layer to dress a window.


Key Furniture –  French antique furniture like an Armoire for storing linen and spare bedding can be a focal point on a landing. Or fill with a china display in your kitchen or dining room. A statement, decorative bed with simple bedding and accessories with a painted chest of drawers could be all that is required to recreate your bedroom from your holiday. Paint an old or outdated piece of furniture, and perhaps hand gild and distress slightly, which suits the French style chic.

Accessories – Baskets, china and  cushions make decorative  displays of everyday items.


Key Lighting – Chandeliers are very French, and suit both the country style and grander interpretations of French interiors. Lampshades covered in plain linen or Toile. For a more contemporary look try a galvanized or metal floor lamp.

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Home Staging – Setting the Scene

Advice and tips on selling your home

According to Estate Agents the prime date to launch your home onto the market is March 20th. This is because it takes and average of 128 days from the agreed sale to completion, in time for the commencement of school in September. This is all very well if things go to plan, and when selling and buying properties things often go wrong and the whole process takes a lot longer than intended. This year is an exception to the rule, so time is of the essence, if you long to move to a greener or bigger space now you’ve spent so long in your present home.

For those who require a quick sale, without compromising on your asking price there is a lot you can do to help. Most Estate Agents in America, Canada and Australia will not market a home unless it has been prepared for sale by a Home Stager. This person will visit your home and advise the owner on changes and improvements which will appeal to as many prospective purchasers as possible, sell it as fast as possible and at a higher price than you may have done. The Stager will give you a report on recommendations and costs at an agreed budget. These changes can either be implemented yourself, or you can employ the Home Stager to do the work on your behalf. If this seems an odd concept, well you wouldn’t try and sell your car without cleaning it up and washing and polishing it to show the car off in it’s best possible condition would you? Housing developments always have a show home to market properties, they are selling a lifestyle, ensure you do the same with your home.  Continue reading “Home Staging – Setting the Scene”