Want It Done By Christmas?

Bathroom Moodboard by designbykaty.com

On a recent site visit to a prospective client, who wanted a quote for their kitchen and bathroom installation, my husband who runs Random Task Plumbing asked what they were having and did they have any plans he could see. The client didn’t know what they wanted, other than for all the works to be completed by mid December, in time for Christmas. Bearing in mind that the client hadn’t yet exchanged contracts on the property and presently lived in another part of the country.

Firstly, a detailed quote is impossible to give if you only have a rough idea of what you want, or don’t know what you want at all. Also any tradesperson worth their salt, will have at least a 2 to 3 month lead time, especially leading up to Christmas. Whilst basic help and advice can be given to guide clients regarding types of showers suitable for their water systems and the feasibility  to move the loo to a different location (soil stacks are often forgotten by clients) and draw a scaled plan, most small tradespeople don’t have the time to offer a detailed design consultancy. The fixtures, fittings and finishings have to be chosen by you, the client. After all it’s your bathroom, kitchen etc. and it’s imperative that you love the finished results, it’s your home.

Bathroom Moodboard by designbykaty.com
Detailed Bathroom Moodboard by Designsbykaty.com

So before calling a tradespersons to quote, take time over your plans, keep revisiting them and show them to other people. Think about how you will use the space and how you want it to make you feel. If this is difficult for you, then an Interior Design consultancy is invaluable. For as little as £95.00 a design consultancy could save you a lot of time and possibly money too. Good interior design is about planning, not just about carefully coordinated fabric and paint swatches. This consultancy maybe all you need to set you off to implement yourself. If you require more help tailored to your specific needs, these can be accommodated too, regardless of budget. Of course everyone has budget.

First floor plans of a four bedroom house
You don’t need such detailed drawings unless major renovations are planned.

Interior Designers use local trade, craftspeople and suppliers and only recommend those whose work and people they trust. When deciding, look at reviews, ask to see previous completed work. Personality compatibility also is valuable – can you work with them?

I understand that you want everything ‘done’ and perfect for Christmas, but be realistic with your time scales. Even when you’ve decided on your plans, fixtures, fittings etc. There are supplier lead times to consider too. The last thing you want is a half-finished job over the festive season, especially if planning to have guests.

assembled cupboard carcass's
Kitchen install in progress not what you want at Christmas
After - Kitchen with island and glass partition wall and door to hall.
After – Kitchen with glass partition and door to hall

Once you have detailed plans, you can then invite local tradespeople to quote and provide approximate dates of availability. They will all be able to quote ‘from the same song sheet’, which makes price comparisons clearer. However, remember that cheaper isn’t always better, you often get what you pay for. Allow for a lead time on quotes being received too.

Tiling in progress in shower en-suite shower area
A half finished guest en-suite – not what you want when having guests
Completed Guest En- Suite
Completed Guest En- Suite

Plan the work in stages – what can be implemented and finished by your self-imposed Christmas deadline? Is this in the correct order of your work schedule? If so, fine. If not, then it’s far more beneficial to be patient and schedule the works for early in the New Year, thus eleviating the extra stress of Christmas and giving your home the consideration it deserves.

There’s  always next Christmas!

 

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  http://lasouqueto.com/

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 http://www.lartigolle.com/ 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

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.

Materials

Gilding paper

Gold Size

Annie Sloan dark wax

White spirit

Tools

Small paint brush

Small firm bristled brush ( artists)

Lint free cloth

Instructions

  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  http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/search/?k=OLLSTA%20shade%20grey

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. Www.sminteriors.co.uk

Bespoke vintage gilded furniture from Piece Unique http://pieceunique.co.uk/PUGallery.asp

Sideboard completely gilded
A gilded sideboard by Piece Unique

https://www.anniesloan.com/annie-sloan-products/annie-sloan-waxes-and-finishes/metal-leaf-booklets-transfer.html

Gilding papers by Annie Sloan
Gilding papers by Annie Sloan

Which Decade Does Your Home Reflect?

Morris and Co New Collection

Did you move into your present home some years ago, decorating and furnishing it up to date fixtures, fittings with enthusiasm and sat back and enjoyed since? How many years ago?

Now, sit back, look at your home objectively – is it looking ‘tired’ a little worse for wear? Does it look slightly ‘dated’? Be honest. It’s easy to settle into a comfortable living way of life. You’ve modernised, decorated and furnished it all once, why do it again? Because it ages you, puts you right into a certain decade, which decade is your home from? So unless you are deliberately trying to recreate a certain era or decade in your home, visit http://www.geffrye-museum.org.uk/  it needs changing.

Alms House Interior Geffrye Museum
Alms House Interior Geffrye Museum

Inspiration and ideas from previous decades can successfully be incorporated into present interiors and are often used as research for paint, paper and fabric design companies. Morris and Co https://www.william-morris.co.uk/shop/new-collections/

Morris and Co New Collection
Inspiration from the past. Morris and Co

In the late 70’s and early 80’s the trend was for stripped pine. Antique pieces are still acceptable, (however, the Victorians would never have had their cheap pine furniture on show, and it would have been painted or stained to look like mahogany or hidden below stairs). The more modern pine pieces – I use this term loosely, turn an orange colour over time and not only look awful but are dated. Same is to be said of heavy dark furniture popular from the Victorians to the 1940’s.

Before and after painted pine funiture
Update your existing furniture with paint.Image sweetsmith.com

 

Before discarding the usually well made, real wood furniture for flat pack modern pieces, consider updating your existing furniture with paint – unless of course you have a budget for a better quality product. Furniture can be transformed with paint. Do check though before painting, that the item of furniture is not a valuable piece.

 

Kitchens are a huge investment and if yours is well planned and works well  few changes to update it maybe all that it requires.

Doors- Again these can be painted and swap the handles and knobs with new ones.

Work Tops – Replace with new to blend in with your new door fronts.

Splash Backs – Remove the tiles if they are from a decade you wish to move on from, and replace with specialist glass or a contemporary tile design.

Flooring – Perhaps lay new vinyl if the existing is worn, with an up to date design to compliment the other changes made. If floor tiles are dated, remove them and lay new. This is more expensive and more difficult if they are laid under the existing fitted cabinets. Never lay tiles over tiles, you’re asking for trouble with cracking and movement. If the tiles are acceptable, and you wish to keep them, choose cabinet and work top colours to compliment the floor. Using specialist floor paint is also an option, can work well if done properly. Hang a new blind, and add some fresh accessories and tea towels.

Walls- Unless you live in a beautiful Victorian house wall paper borders are a no, no. So are dado and picture rails stained a mahogany colour. This is another 80’s hangover.

Image example of dado rail in period home
Painted dado and picture rails in a period home Image Pinterest

Decoration – If you love your paintings, pictures and prints try re framing them. The difference in using a double mount and new frame will not only enhance the art work but also your room. Hang pictures in groups either by subject matter or in matching frames for an eye catching display. Do not hang them as in the 70’s in a triangular mode across the wall, or too high.

Flooring – No swirly carpets – sorry. People use this description when describing a house in need of an update ‘All swirly  carpets’ and people understand what the house is like, dated. Swirly carpets can also compete with the rest of the furnishings.

West Indian Front Room
Everything is competing with each other Image by Studio International.com

Have you got wood underneath  the existing carpet that is worth exposing, then lay a   large rug for warmth in colours to complement your other furnishings? If carpet is preferred a plain neutral carpet usually works best in the majority of standard size homes as it makes the rooms appear larger.

Lighting– It’s fine if you live in a period property or re- creating a particular decade style because you like it, otherwise try changing the shades and lamps to a more contemporary style. Florescent strips in the kitchen offer great light, but its unforgiving and provides little ambience. Try changing the strip to a budget friendly track system. The adjustability of the spots makes it easy to aim the light where its most needed.

Now get into a decade where you and your home belong be it traditional, classic or contemporary.

Bathrooms can be more tricky to update without major work. However, if the layout works well, update with new tiles and flooring. Ditch the carpet for a start! It’s a far better job if the old tiles are removed prior to laying new, especially when tiling down to a bath, basin and shower. However if you have a plaster board wall, this may come away with the old tiles in places, which will need to be repaired before tiling. This is not a quick update job. If storage is a problem, try replacing your pedestal basin with a vanity unit and basin, and add a mirrored cabinet above it. Hang a new blind and add new towels to compliment the room.

Now which decade does your home reflect?

Images from annesage.com, hative, HousetoHome,Geffrye Museum,Little Greene Paint

 

 

 

 

 

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House – Wind in the Willows

Mole from Kenneth Graham's Wind in the Willows

 

 

The wind in our willow and the only mole was ‘Mole’s Breath’ by Farrow and Ball.

We were very upset one morning looking down the garden. The whole of the lawn was covered with a fallen tree, battered by the wind from a storm the previous night. The tree had been a magnificent weeping willow and we installed a light especially highlight it when dark, with plans for a shaded seating area below its boughs.  Now all that remains is a broken stump – two thirds of the original size, not quite the ambience I had envisaged.  The willow had been key to the garden design. I really miss that tree.

 

Luckily the tree had not fallen on either our or our neighbours shed, however, it had to be cleared and removed as soon as possible so as not to damage the lawn further. Another huge job which took several days.  The tree had to be cut into manageable pieces to move it – logs for the multi-fuel stove, smaller twigs, branches and leaves. This was done in the relentless pouring rain. We had toyed about making a willow fence which was a nice idea but we really don’t have the time, know how or inclination.

A willow fence looks lovely in a garden
Making a willow fence from our pile of debris was beyond my caperbilities!

We hired a shredder so the smaller pieces could then be used as a mulch on the borders to help keep the weeds down. Its been so mild this winter they were continuing to sprout, along with the lawn. But, instead of raking the mulch over the borders my husband placed small neat piles and I now have what looks like termite mounds (or mole hills for that matter) all over the borders.

 

I had applied one coat of deep grey paint to a wall in the study, behind the original brick fireplace some months ago, prior to the wooden floor being laid.  Unfortunately it had dried in patches of lighter and darker tones, despite the wall having been prepped with a mist coat of paint over the bare dried plaster. I thought it was just a dodgy tin of paint although bought from a reputable company. My husband said it was the way I had painted it? –  I purchased another tin of exactly the same paint, and this time my husband painted the same wall. This also dried in patches. He applied a second coat, but with the same results. Dark at the edges where applied ‘cut in’ with a brush and around sockets, light where applied with a roller, and lighter still showing the outline of the plasterers mesh.

 

I abandoned this make of paint and purchased Farrow and Ball’s Mole’s Breath – being a similar colour to my original choice. http://www.farrow-ball.com/mole’s-breath//farrow-ball/fcp-product/100276    One coat of paint was applied and dried perfectly. Having already experienced problems with patchy and colour differentials in the master bedroom, I felt the company should be told about the problems with their product. After several weeks of email exchanges containing pictures, receipts of proof of purchase and batch numbers I received a refund for the two faulty tins of paint and a £5.00 gift voucher for my trouble. This hardly covers the time and expense of repeated wall painting. I just hope that the paint product problems will be investigated by the company concerned and rectified.

 

Farrow and Ball – Mole’s Breath dried uniformly and a great finish.

The wood flooring has now been laid to the ground floor. What a difference it has made to the whole house. Not only covering up dusty concrete floors, but means we can now fix the architraves and skirting boards to the walls. These can now be prepped for painting and a final coat of paint applied to the ground floor walls.

 

Although mild for the season, the underfloor heating has been switched on low to gradually acclimatise the wooden floor. This will swell and contact, as will some of the doors, which may need some adjustment.

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House (15 ) Getting Plastered!

The garden path being laid down the garden
The path being laid down the garden

Each trade moves projects forward, but when the plasterers arrive with their skill ( along with the mess) covering the walls, suddenly rooms begin to take shape. Our plasterers have also rendered round the exterior windows, doors and block work. Once completed and dry, we were itching to stabilize and then paint the render, to tidy up the exterior a little after looking so sad for so long. This won’t be fully completed until the side boiler/ mud room, porch and garage have been finished.

Once the plaster was dry the walls were ready to be painted with a ‘mist’ coat, this being a watered down trade white emulsion. Applying this base coat to new plastered walls will save on the finished emulsion paint coat required due to the porousness of bare plaster. It also shows up imperfections in the plaster which can be filled and sanded if necessary, leaving a smooth even surface for the final coats of your chosen colour. Also, if having metal light sockets and switches, the base mist coat will prevent moisture transgressing and causing discolouration  after the second fix electrics. The house suddenly became lighter and brighter. The ceilings had two coats of their final colour  but just one coat on the walls as the skirting boards have yet to be fixed in some rooms. I would wait for the comments from the different trades as they viewed my chosen colours’ being applied, which is mainly a neutral palette of soft greys. “What colour  do you call that”? They would ask. “Corpse Dick” I would reply. Taken aback I explained and showed them my niece’s comedy sketch about Farrow and Ball   http://www.farrow-ball.com/colours/paint/fcp-category/list and interior designers. https://sinteriors.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=161087&action=edit

Other colours chosen to prevent the house from appearing too bland are similar to the popular choices from the 1930s’, which I found under the layers of wallpaper and can be bought from many paint companies.

Craig and Rose available at B and Q, Crown, Dulux, Little Greene Paint, Fired Earth, and of course Farrow and Ball, to name a few. One of which was called ‘Fresh Plaster,’ from Craig and Rose, which of course caused amusement and comments from the plasterers. I have used this colour in a north – facing room as it’s a warm colour. Remember, ceilings do not have to be white. In some cases this can cause the wall colour to look different than you intended. The ceiling can be painted the same colour as the walls, giving the appearance of a higher ceiling. This also makes the cutting in (where the walls meet the ceiling) a lot easier. If you have a hall or landing with a lot of doors, which don’t have any architectural appeal, by painting the same colour as the walls the appearance is less like a corridor because the doors blend into the walls. This is a popular current trend, but ensure that an eggshell, or paint specifically for woodwork finish is used and available in the same colour as the emulsion  Not all paint manufacturers produce all finishes in all colours’.

My biggest painting challenge was the Master Bedroom with its high vaulted ceiling. I had to climb a ladder onto a tower to enable me to reach the ceiling with the roller. I then had to climb down and ask someone strong to move the tower along a little, only to climb up again and paint the next area of ceiling. Progress was slow, over several days, but who needs a gym with all that exercise? Being such a large room I needed gallons of paint and good natural day light as the electrics had not yet been connected. Once completed and the paint dry, some of the walls appeared to be patchy and slightly different colours. This was due to different batches of paint of the same colour, despite my order for all the paint made at the same time. The only way to rectify this was to repaint the wall with a final coat of the same batch number paint. I must say I was very relieved to escape this room and move onto the next!

A tower used to reach the ceiling
A tower used to reach the ceiling

Our neighbour came round one afternoon, concerned about the fence boandary  and his hedge, wishing to see how we had dealt with it, since laying our new garden path alongside the boundary. The ancient, now rusted wire fence and remains of the wooden posts – hidden for decades behind over grown shrubs and trees was still there, where it had always been. He wanted to ensure that we knew where his boundary was, up to the remains of wire fence, and that the hedge was his. The wooden fence, such as it was and what remained of it was rotten and leaning inwards towards our garden due to his overgrown hedge and would need to be cut back before a new fence could be erected ( by us). This was pointed out to him, but he didn’t cut it back, he said ” as it didn’t effect him”. So we cut out the problem branches and returned the debris as it belonged to him, and our skip was already full.

In the main sitting room the new fireplace wall was divided into three equal sections. The centre section being left as bare plaster ready for the bricks which would be laid behind the multi- fuel stove. The two side sections were painted in. This was a compromise to the completed brick wall. Great discussions on the final design of the fireplace ensued. The finished height of the hearth ( so logs could be stored underneath) and the size of the multi fuel stove. Due to the volume of the room we only required a stove with a 5 kW out put, to avoid cooking ourselves. However, we wondered if the size of the stove would look too small in the room. Pencil mark measurements were made on the plaster and we painted a ‘stove’ in situ to visualise the space. The original quote we received from a company we had used before was very high, not due to the stove itself, but for the building of the hearth with a granite top and flue installation. They were not forthcoming or helpful when I explained I just wanted the stove and flue installed. Our builders are very caperble of building the hearth design with bricks, and making the hearth from cast concrete. This was the finished look I wanted to achieve. The hearth was constructed in a wooden frame and strengthened with steel wire. Coloured concrete was poured into the frame and left to set. Once dried and set it was removed from the frame and lifted into place by four men and secured. It looks amazing and was achieved at a fraction of the cost of granite. We sourced the multi fuel stove and flu from another company and installed by approved fitters. The long established installers thought the hearth was solid York Stone and couldn’t believe it was cast concrete.

The company who made our steel lintels also make a small selection of iron work railings,  and made to measure the Juliete balcony for the Master Bedroom. I was glad once they had installed this, so I could open the French doors and let some fresh air in and finish off the rear elevation.

Ideas and Advice on Interior Design – All Done in the Best Possible Taste!

Ralph Lauren Home
Ralph Lauren Home

We all do it,  pour over beautiful photographs of interiors in magazines or watch the home improvement programmes on T.V. longing to recreate the same in our own homes. You perhaps feel inspired even, but then you look around your own interiors with dismay, the mis-matched furniture bought or given over the years, the cheap blind at the window having seen better days, the decor looking tired or dated. Our meagre budget prevents throwing everything out and starting again from scratch. View this as a positive thing, homes evolve and tell stories about our lives and reflect personalities.

There is no such thing as good or bad taste,  it’s your taste, and I believe in adapting and recycling your present home. If you don’t know where to start or what your taste and style is, an Interior Designer’s job there is to help you. A professional does not have their own style to dictate to you, their first job is to help you discover your own style and interpret it into your own home.

Below, I have some listed points which I hope will help you.

1. Choose an item you already own and love and such as a rug,  a painting or  an item of furniture  to use as a starting point.

2. Don’t rush the process. Put your own mood board together consisting of those drooled over magazine photograph’s, swatch’s of fabrics and floor samples you like. This helps you focus on your taste, style and how you can interpret the look you want with what you already own.

Grey Bureau with wallpaper and fabric swatches - Mood Board
Grey Bureau with wallpaper and fabric swatches – Mood Board

3. Up-cycle old furniture by all means, paint is the great transformer. My husband often asks me that if he stands still long enough will I paint him too. Well I might!  But don’t apply paint to a beautiful antique piece and replace the original handles with cheap new ones. An antique can add interest to the room. If you really dislike it, then sell it and use the proceeds towards something else for the room.

A painted Gustavian finished cupboard from Pinterest
A painted Gustavian finished cupboard from Pinterest

4. Edit your room by removing items and pare down your displays for more impact. Less is more, when applied correctly.

5. Start with a base colour. Take the ‘little black dress’ for example. You can dress it up or down, layer it, add different colours and accessories according to the seasons. use this as a guide for your rooms, the same rules apply.

6. Don’t be afraid of colour. If you like colour then use it. Opting for safe neutrals will not necessarily bring you joy. Paint one wall as a focal point, adding cushions and throws to add punches of colour.  Colour can lift your spirits.

7. Badly hung wallpaper or badly painted rooms compromise the finished effect, so take time and care over this.

8. Poor lighting is detrimental to the feel of a room. Lighting is an intrinsic part of the room. Use dimmer switches and table lamps for flexible lighting schemes.

9. If new lampshades are not an option, cover your existing shades with wallpaper or fabric remnants.

10. Change the bedcover in your bedroom, it’s the biggest feature and can alone can make a huge difference.

Changing your bedding can instantly change the style and mood of your bedroom.
Changing your bedding can instantly change the style and mood of your bedroom.

11. Don’t just go with the pack. If you want fitted carpet instead of wooden flooring – go with it.

12. Try re-arranging your furniture. Either measure the room first and plot on paper to make sure it will fit, or use masking tape on the floor. This avoids unnecessarily moving heavy furniture.

13. Add a vase of flowers or plants.

14. Display a collection you own on a wall or shelves.

Successful interiors make you feel relaxed, ‘at home’. No one wants to live in a museum, show home or bland box. So whether it’s  Ralph Lauren, Conran, or Cath Kidston inspired, it is your home and it should reflect the way you like to live and be as individual as you are.

In the famous words of William Morris

William Morris Quote
William Morris Quote

All picture’s other than my own are from Pinterest.

Tour de France – Let’s Start with Yellow

Yellow abounds as the colour of the overall lead cyclist ( Maillot Jaune) the Tour de France, which starts on 5th in Leeds. Dotted along the routes over Yorkshire are brightly painted yellow bicycles. The first stage of the race finishes in Harrogate on 5th July. Betty’s of Harrogate the famous tea room has launched a new range of biscuits especially for the occasion.  http://www.bettys.co.uk/bettys_harrogate.aspx  An old tree in Montpellier, just a short walk  from Betty’s, has been carved with cyclists to mark the momentous event. Whilst at Rudding Park http://www.ruddingpark.co.uk/ a hotel just outside Harrogate, my delicious cappuccino  was decorated with chocolate sprinkles forming two cyclists on top!

Sunny, bright yellow which reminds us of summer, sunflowers and buttercups in meadows.  Or if in France sunflowers, an inspiration to Provence decor. A warm golden yellow such as ‘Mister David’ by Little Greene Paint Company http://www.littlegreene.com/mister-david or Babouche from Farrow and Ball http://www.farrow-ball.com/babouche/colours/farrow-ball/fcp-product/100223 are ideal mixed with burgundy and red furnishings for a rich, opulent look. Lovely for a sitting room.  Or mix with dark grey for a smart contemporary vibe. Great for using in North facing rooms which do not receive much sunshine or natural daylight, but looks just as stunning in a south aspect room. Yellow can be sophisticated teamed with dark mahogany. If yellow walls are too much, try covering a sofa or armchairs with in a mustard yellow velvet to add an element of surprise in your decor. Change your lampshades, or paint the insides with a specialist gold paint which will really reflect the gold yellow hues of the room. http://www.designsponge.com/2012/05/diy-project-silver-leafed-lampshade.html

Cooler citris yellows being more of an acidic lemon such as ‘Pale Hound’ http://www.farrow-ball.com/pale-hound/colours/farrow-ball/fcp-product/100071 or ‘Yellow Cake’ http://www.farrow-ball.com/yellowcake/colours/farrow-ball/fcp-product/100279 are best used in rooms with lots of warm natural light, facing south or west to prevent appearing too cool. Paler citrus yellows look good when mixed with Duck Egg Blue and light greys creating a soft mood.  This combination is often used in kitchens and bedrooms.

Add punches of yellow in accessories, glazed pots, rugs, cushions and bedcovers. Hang paintings or prints with yellows to created a cohesive look. Paint a few wooden dining chairs  or even your front door in a bold yellow to add an accent and element of surprise.

Continuing with the Tour de France topic, I have found a  witty way on Pinterest where someone has adapted an old bicycle into a wash basin.

Specialist cyclist cafe’s have sprung up all over the country as the sport has increased in popularity over the past few years, due to  Team Sky’s recent successes in the Tour de France and Olympics. These cafe’s are a great place to stop for refreshment, meet other people and carry out repairs. Often these cafe’s are decorated with cycling paraphernalia. See the top  U.K. cafe’s as recommended by ‘Cake My Ride’  I love the name, and sounds like my sort of bike ride!  http://www.cakemyride.co.uk/20_best_bike_shop_cafes.html or The Guardian.  http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/mar/12/top-10-cycling-cafes-uk

Please note that images other than my own are from Pinterest.

White Room

‘White Room’ by Cream, The White Album by The Beatles or  ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’ by Pocal Harum were popular songs and album in the 60’s. Indeed decorating with white (along with more psychedelia) was also popular in the 60’s. The songs are still played on the radio, and white is still a perennial favourite used in our homes. White is very versatile, sitting well in contemporary, modern or traditional schemes. As summer approaches we often long for a new freshness in our homes. Throw open doors and windows and let the light in. We long for a brighter (if not sunnier) interior. If lots of bright colour on your walls is not to your taste, or  you are feeling bold enough to splash on a  coat of orange emulsion,  you opt for the safe ‘I’m just going to paint all the walls white’ option. Which white  would that be? Brilliant white, off white, barley white? The list of names and shades of white run into the hundreds.

Choosing the right white White like all other colour changes with natural and artificial light. White also takes on different hues, depending what it sits next to. Think about the aspect of the room, if facing north it will have a colder light, so choose a shade of white with red or yellow based undertones  like Farrow and Balls ‘Pointing’ or ‘White Tie’     http://www.farrow-ball.com/   Or try Little Greene Paint Company, they have a plethora of whites in all shades.  http://www.littlegreene.com/paint/colour/white-paint Likewise a sunnier southern aspect will receive a warmer light, so a white with greens and grey tones in it will not make the room appear cold. Farrow and Balls  ‘Strong White’ or ‘Wevet’.  You can paint the walls in one white and choose toning shades of white for the ceiling, cornices and woodwork creating a calm graduated colour scheme.

The secret of decorating with white so as not to look too clinical, bland or cold is to add texture into the scheme. Instead of heavy, lined curtains at the windows, try hanging a sheer fabric like voile or muslin to filter the light. Many materials have delicate designs woven into the fabric. This may have to be accompanied with a black out blind in a bedroom if you you want to block out street lighting and very early morning sunshine pouring in (if you window faces east).

Fresh, white bedding always brightens a bedroom and looks smart. Team it with a contrasting colour for the bedhead or a white headboard with texture such as a distressed limed wood in white.

White carpets are not a practical choice if you have children,  teenagers or a dog  living in your home. These must be saved for master bedrooms or guest rooms, unless you want to be constantly cleaning the carpet and getting stressed. White ceramic, porcelain or granite floor tiles are easier to keep clean, but will of course show the dirt. White floor paint is another option on floor boards or ‘lime wash’ them to add texture and interest. How to lime wash floors yourself – http://www.woodandbeyond.com/blog/what-is-lime-washed-wood-flooring/

White wall tiles in a bathroom, kitchen or utility room do not need to look clinical, if arranged in different patterns or different shapes and sizes. There is something luxurious about a pile of  white, clean, fluffy towels folded neatly in a bathroom. The opposite effect is of course when they have been discarded in a wet heap on the floor!

The living room decorated in white can take on many guises. It can be accompanied  with glass chandeliers, mirrors, an off white textured rug and formal furniture to create a classic, sophisticated room, or a more relaxed country vibe with rough painted distressed wooden furniture and knitted throws. Or create a Gustavian ambiance with grey based whites of painted furniture.

A dining table set with white china, lit by candle light looks special. White china also displays food well. Collections of white china and ornaments displayed on dressers or shelves look stunning in a ‘white room’, especially if  well lit with directional lighting or lamps.

So opting for white need not be boring, clinical or safe, if used well. All pictures from Pinterest

Utility and Boot Rooms

Interior decoration in our main living areas is always top of our priorities. However, have you ever wondered when walking around beautifully staged show homes where you will keep your vacuum cleaner? Indeed if the home does not have a utility room, where you will keep your ironing board, iron, the pile of ironing for that matter, and the plethora of cleaning materials – in the kitchen or under-stairs cupboard? Even the most modest of Victorian terraced homes had an out house or scullery with a sink and perhaps an old copper to heat the water for wash day. Laundry was not generally performed in the kitchen, this was kept for food preparation only. In today’s modern, modest homes the washing machine is located in the kitchen, which means losing valuable cupboard space. The same loss of space if you have a dryer, and associated cleaning materials and tools. If you have the space, then a utility room is a must.

The minimum space required along a wall is 190 cm, this would allow 60 cm width for the washing machine, 60 cm for the sink and draining board and 60 cm for a tall cupboard to house products and tools – even the vacuum cleaner. If you have a dryer this can be put on top of the washing machine. The minimum depth of space required is 1500.  60cm  being the average measurement of appliances and cupboards, plus room to open the appliance and cupboard doors. Layout examples below.

Utility rooms are best located near the kitchen, with it’s own access to the garden. This allows ease of access to the garden for the washing line, and somewhere to leave muddy footwear and hang everyday outerwear. If a separate room is not possible, and you have an integral garage, which does not house your car, but used for general storage, section a partition wall and place your utility area in the garage. Another option is to designate one wall in your kitchen (or elsewhere if space allows) as the laundry area (minus a sink) and hang sliding or bi-fold  doors across the whole lot, so it looks like a cupboard when not in use.

Plumbing requirements need to be planned, hot and cold supply to the sink, cold water to the washing machine and waste from both into a drain. If opting for a dryer too it will need venting through an outside wall. If this is not possible opt for a condensing dryer. Washer dryers are an option too, but these need to be vented.

White Goods -Appliances – Buy the best quality you can afford. Meille being the top of the range.  Consider whether you want integrated appliances, hidden behind doors. If so you need to purchase integrated appliances specifically designed for the purpose.

Cupboards and Storage – A tall cupboard with well designed interior space arranged so that items can be easily retrieved. Think about whether yo would prefer doors or drawers under the sink. A ‘Sheila Maid’ or rack above the sink for drying clothes is useful.

Flooring – Porcelain or ceramic floor tiles are durable, waterproof and are the best choice in utility rooms. If the room is directly off the kitchen, use the same floor tiles as the kitchen as this makes the space larger. Lay electric matting underfloor heating under the tiles instead of a radiator. This frees up valuable space and prevents the floor from being cold.

Rustic hard wearing tiled floor
A hard wearing rustic tiled floor

Lighting – If space, opt for a window as well as a door, if not have a door fitted with glass to let natural day light in. Energy efficient, good quality  daylight white or warm white fluorescent tubes provide the most economic, practical and shadow free task light. Under cupboard downlights, track spot or pendant lights are also an option.

Sinks  – Consider the use of the sink. If used for cleaning muddy football boots the  Butler sink is ideal. If only used for water to wash the floor a stainless steel or ceramic sink will be adequate. A high level mono tap is best in a utility room, so you can fill a bucket or whatever easily. Worktops – Your choice of work top will be lead by your choice of sink. However, laminate is fine, but will not stand up to hard wear and tear. A granite or stone composite is hard wearing and grooves can be cut for drainage, eliminating the need for a sink and drainer set up.

Decor – If the room is accessed directly from the kitchen, use the same wall paint or a tonal shade. If having a splash back behind the sink use the same tiles as in the kitchen if you have them. If not a plain white brick style tile will create a utilitarian feel.