Inspired by Nature and William Morris

Inspired by Nature and William Morris
Interior inspirations from nature and the influence of William Morris. Bring a sense of history and well being into your home.

William Morris founded the of the Arts and Crafts Movement in 1861 with friends Marshall, Faulkner and Co. An interior design business which championed well crafted furniture, textiles and wallpaper. He wanted to revive a sense of beauty in home life, to restore the dignity of art into ordinary households. He thought:

“. . . that every home, however modest, could benefit from such practical beginnings as choosing items that were beautiful and useful. The great difficulty was not starting with nothing, but by having too much. By the accumulation of useless things not only were beautiful things kept out, but the very sense of beauty perpetually dulled and ground away”.

He once lectured against “the acquisitiveness of fortunate classes” (which he called digesting machines). Perhaps we’ve come full circle; The human race has become a digesting machine, with our relentless quest for ‘stuff’- beautiful, useful or otherwise. The Arts and Crafts Movement wanted to move away from cheap mass produced items in factories.

Before the Industrial Revolution and machines, people worked with nature, the land and their hands, but then moved to cities and factories to work making cheap mass produced items, destined for landfill. There was little self worth, job satisfaction or pride in their work. Morris and Co clients were reassured that “good decoration, involving the luxury of taste rather than the luxury of costliness” and set up their own work spaces for traditional crafts and skills in weaving and dyeing and offered apprenticeships, and tried to ensure his employees were looked after by paying them a wage which merited their skills.

True craftsmanship, up-cycling, re-purposed, pre-loved, vintage, antique,  restored and responsibly sourced are slowly becoming mainstream, thank goodness. The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust funds the education of talented and aspiring craftspeople. They have published a book ‘A Celebration of British Craftsmanship’ which features portraits and and stories of some of the craftsmen and women from across the United Kingdom that the Trust has supported since 1990.  Many craftspeople are also self taught, either from library books or YouTube tutorials. Making the most of what we have already and including them into our homes. This requires careful editing, giving things space, thus avoiding a cluttered appearance. Sound familiar?

Stained glass fire screen by William Morris
Stained glass fire screen by William Morris

Avoid ‘stage’ sets or showrooms, mix items up a bit. Old and new, vintage, inherited pieces and those items that you love. Ensure you know where it will go, how it will fit into the designated space and how well it will sit with your existing furnishings.  Also make sure they are practical and fit for purpose. This is what will make your home, adding depth and character and preventing your home from feeling void of your personality. Pair an assortment of items from different periods and styles, which prevents your home looking too of the ‘period’. Good design and craftsmanship have an enduring quality and will stand test of time.

Inspired by nature, William Morris bought nature inside. He believed that “love of nature in all it’s forms must be the ruling spirit”. He also wanted houses to sit well in their plot and their exteriors to blend and compliment the garden. By surrounding ourselves with anything which engages our senses is a key to positive thinking, our mood and well being.

Standen House and garden in Autumn
Standen House and garden in Autumn

What can we learn from these lessons? As an advocate of restorations, be they homes, furniture or gardens, it is with love and care bestowed into these projects giving character, depth and above all soul. HRH Prince of Wales said when planning his garden at Highgrove, (but is a true statement for our homes too, our need to connect to, and endlessly inspired by nature). “We need to feed the soul, warm our heart and delight the eye”.

William Morris quote Art for the few
William Morris Quote

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

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 https://www.rugaddiction.co.uk/ . 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  https://www.littlevikingvintage.com 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

Design a Home and Garden that means Something to you

Design a home garden that reflects you
Design a home garden that reflects you
Even the smallest of spaces can be made into an outside ‘room’

What does your home and garden mean to you? A place to relax, entertain and spend time with families. How do they make you feel? Our homes and gardens should create a feeling of happiness and well being – a haven of peace in a busy world, and reflect your personality and chosen lifestyle. During events this year more people have found solace in their outside space.

How often in the past, alas not this year, have you visited either a National Trust garden, https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gardens-and-parks,  The Chelsea Flower Show  or an open garden as part of the National Garden Scheme charity fundraising, https://www.ngs.org.uk/ and become inspired to create a lovely garden of your own, only to become despondent on returning home, faced with your own small patch of turf? We’ve also been guilty on the first of the warm, sunny days of rushing out to the local nursery or garden centre and purchasing seasonal plants for instant display, only to find that you don’t actually know where to plant them? Like all home and garden projects it’s down to good planning, you are, after all, creating an outside ‘room’ extension to your home.

As with interiors, create a Mood board, after all many interior mood boards are inspired by nature’s colours’, textures and movement. Ensure that your outside space compliments your interior space, a cohesive, seamless boundary between the two.

Garden Moodboard for inspiration
Garden Mood board by thepapermulberryblogspot.com

Ten Guidelines on Planning your Outside Space

  1. Budget – How much are you prepared to spend?
  2. Measure your site.
  3. Note the aspect, is it North, south, East or West? This has an influence over choice of plants, and where you want your seating and entertaining area to be.
  4. Hard Landscaping – Hedges, fences, decking paths etc. working within fixed boundaries. Do you want a water feature? Do you want outside lighting? These should be incorporated into you plan now to allow for electrical wiring requirements.
  5. Soil. Unless you’re exceptionally lucky most of us have ‘rubbish’ soil – clay, chalk, sand, silt, loams and peat. https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=179 (It maybe full of stones and builders debris too). To identify your soil type go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/htbg/module1/soil_types1.shtml  which offer great information other than purchasing a soil acid test kit. It’s important to choose the right plants for your soil if they’re to thrive ( not just the pretty ones). https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/beginners-guide/planting
  6. Collect ideas together you like from gardens, magazines etc. and think how you could incorporate some of these in your own garden. Also think about the transition from your interior to your garden. These should compliment each other and could be linked by either colour in the planting, fence or decking, or style of seating furniture and containers.  The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has an amazing website full of advice https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/design
  7. Prepare the planting border. Dig over at least fork deep, remove bricks, flints and anything else you may find and remove weeds. Then dig in well rotted manure. This is hard work, so not recommended on a hot day!
  8. Plan your planting scheme. Based on the aspect, space, soil type and desired final design and colour. Do you want a wildlife garden, attracting butterflies, birds and bees, a minimalist with maintenance to match? How much time, realistically are you’re going to spend gardening?

9. Now Buy your plants according to your list.

10. Compromise You maybe horrified by the price of your chosen plants, especially if selecting larger plants and shrubs for instant impact. Buy smaller specimens instead and be patient. Alternatively, consider scouring the clearance section for reductions, especially in the Autumn. O.K. they maybe going over for this season, but shrubs and perennials will come back next year to enhance your garden at a lower cost.

Be patient, gardens like homes evolve and grow over time. Below, are before, during and after picture’s of an overgrown and neglected garden, taken over two years.

 

The garden now, two years on. Just wondering how many beers had been consumed prior to cutting the lawn, judging by the stripes!

 

Garden after 5 years maturity
The garden now 5 years later, maturing nicely

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

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

Pictures 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’. Or try Little Greene Paint Company, they have a plethora of whites in all  Likewise a sunnier southern aspect will receive a warmer light, so a white 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

All Mapped Out

New York map trend from Asda and H&M - ellietennant.com
New York map trend from Asda and H&M – ellietennant.com

With the arrival of ‘Sat Nav’ and ‘App’ technology, you may have thought that disagreements over people’s map reading skills, are perhaps a thing of the past. However, there are times when road,  street, footpath, underground and  ordnance survey maps are invaluable. I spent all day Saturday sitting in the back of a car with a road map navigating over the North Yorkshire Moors in low cloud, visibility – zilch, wind and rain. Oh joy! There can be something fascinating about a map too, providing all sorts of information that a ‘Sat Nav’ or App do not usually supply,  and besides which you may not get a signal! There is something exciting about planning a trip with a map, and keeping the map afterwards to evoke fond memories of the trip. There is a strong trend at the moment introducing maps into your home.  Framed Antique maps and prints, (these can be expensive collectors’ items like  Francesco da Mosto’s recent discovery of a seven  map collection of Alvise Cadamosto worth £1m is anything to go by) or posters of a map from Panem or Neverland,  a wall mural, paper,  globes , bedding, furniture, fabrics, lighting and accessories.

Furniture – An old map, wrapping, wall paper  or posters can be used to bring an old item of furniture to life. On a table top for example, or on the front of a chest of drawers using decoupage. How to decoupage –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFyddV7BxUI.  Cover an old tray using the same technique, or buy a London map tray from Ben Pentreath for £70.00 http://www.pentreath-hall.com/  Or buy an oil cloth with a map of the world for your dining table which should spark conversation. http://www.johnlewis.com/john-lewis-world-map-pvc-cut-length-tablecloth-blue/p301356

Try papering one wall with a shipping map as an unusual accompaniment to a nautical themed bathroom or child’s room. ‘Great Harbour’ by Ralph Lauren would be perfect.  Complete wall mural’s in a selection of designs can be used to great effect too as illustrated below.   If papering the whole wall is too overwhelming for your space paper the ceiling.

Bedlinen – Carry the theme into the bed linen. Zara Home have a great design at a reasonable cost. Add a vintage vibe with mini map bunting from Grace and Favour http://www.graceandfavourhome.com/ourshop/prod_1398302-Vintage-Map-Bunting.html or try Esty.

Lighting – Ready made map lighting is another way to introduce the theme. These can be purchased or try covering your existing lampshades with old paper maps or fabric. For instructions go to  http://homeguides.sfgate.com/cover-lampshade-wallpaper-88216.html

Accessories – Introduce map prints to cover storage boxes and notebooks in your home office. There are is selection of available from  LINK PICTURE

Pictures – A set of framed historical maps on wall looks smart, or a map on wooden planking and distressed for a relaxed vibe.

Rugs and flooring inspired by maps used to ‘anchor’ a room.

Fabrics – There is a plethora of fabrics to choose from for cushion covers, blinds, curtains and upholstery. The world is your oyster!

The Art of Display

The finishing touches to a room can make or break it’s final appeal. You maybe happy with the arrangement of the main items of furniture, but the room  could look  unfinished and unwelcoming without your personal additions to the walls, books and ornaments. This aspect of decorating can be difficult, especially when faced with a mixture of items, which do not necessarily sit well together.

 

Work with a colour code, so your displays are connected to the rooms design. For example use the colour’s in a painting to blend or match the rooms colour’s.  If the room is fairly monochrome, add an accent colour in the painting or artwork. The style of painting, wall art, plates or mirrors need not necessarily match, so long as they incorporate the same colour’s, or theme or just frames, an interesting group arrangement can be created. A painting or collection often looks best if placed on a wall above an item of furniture such as a sofa, side table or fireplace, because the furniture ‘anchors’ the display.  A symmetrical design works well in a bedroom, behind a bedhead for instance,  as the visual order has a calming effect.

If you are unsure how to group your items together try cutting templates of the items and stick them to the wall (use a tape which will not damage the wall) and rearrange them until you are happy. This saves lots of unnecessary and unwanted holes in the wall.

 

To avoid shelves or display cabinets looking like a bric-a-brac shop, again group subject matter, or colour’s together. Use repetition to add impact by displaying three of the same items together. Add texture and interest combining different elements such as copper, glass, pewter or wood. If you have a treasured collection, display altogether for impact. Sea shells in a glass container in a bathroom for example. Look for inspiration in shop displays, and observe any ideas which appeal to you and think would work well in your home.

Change your displays periodically to reflect the changing seasons and add interest. The simplest way is to display a vase of fresh flowers. this instantly lifts the room.

Items used daily can be displayed attractively, using the same basic rules. On kitchen shelves use  storage containers as the display. China too can be stored as a display.

To avoid a book shelf looking untidy, unify by colour, or collection. Never have books just laid haphazardly on top of other books due to lack of space. This just looks untidy and is not create a great display.

 

All picture examples from Pinterest.