Guide to Lighting with Lamps

Advice and guidance on lighting with lamps whether upgrading present lighting or buying new
Advice and guidance on lighting with lamps whether upgrading present lighting or buying new
Lamp lighting is crucial to create the right ambience in rooms.

 

As the clocks go back and our days grow darker, good lighting is essential. Not only for task lighting ( cleaning, cooking and reading etc.) but for creating a warm and comfortable ambience. Lighting is a huge topic, but in this guide I will advise on lamps. No living space should be without a lamp.

Before considering buying new table or standard lamps, make the most of what you’ve got already.

  1. Try changing the bulbs. It maybe that you need a bulb with a higher or lower wattage or Lumins,  or a different shape or make. For example a large globe light will give a better quality of light than a standard bulb.
  2. 70 watt/230 volt clear energy saving bulb is equivalent to a 100 watt standard incandescent bulb. This type is dimmerble and provides good colour to shades.
  3. 18 watt/230 volt compact florescent bulb gives a greyer and flatter light than that of a standard energy saving bulb. Although equivalent to a 100 watt bulb, it does not appear to be as bright as a 70 watt energy saving bulb.
  4. 7 watt/230 volt LED classic shaped bulb is equivalent to a 25 watt incandescent bulb. Most of the light will travel upwards in the lamp and sometimes a ‘cold’ light is produced, so buy a ‘warm’ LED bulb.
  5. Use the maximum wattage a shade will allow, as a brighter one may singe or discolour the shade.
  6. A frosted or pearl bulb provides a softer more shadow free light.

 

 

Changing your shades will update your room and can improve and change the light. The shape, colour, size, material and lining are all key to the shades look and use. Images by Design Bump and Apartment Therapy.

 

  1. Light coloured shades in silk, parchment and paper will cast a cool light as the bulb transmits colour from the shade.
  2. A cream coloured silk pleated coolie shade is a popular choice, but doesn’t always hide the light source or add anything to the room.
  3. Dark colours will add drama and a atmospheric mood.
  4. A lined shade will soften the light source. Unlined shades tend to allow hot spots of light to show through the shade. If this happens you can paint the inside of the shade in gold or silver paint, which gives a warm glow to the room. Alternatively, choose a contrasting colour which picks up another colour in your room, for example red or green.
  5. Always opt for fewer lamps with larger shades for impact.

Above images by Thelampshade’s web blog and SugarCube.

Lampshade to base ratio guide
Ensure the shade size suits the base
Lampshade to base ratio guide
Ensure your lampshade is the correct size to the base. Images by Oka

Shade Shapes and Sizes

  1. Coolie or Empire is the most common shape of shade. A sloped coolie pushes most of the light downwards. Because of this, choose the biggest shade you can to provide useful light.
Oversized coolie or empire shade and base
Maximum light where it’s needed with a coolie shade
Oversized coolie shade and lampbase
Add impact with an oversized coolie lampshade and base

2. Drum – A drum shaped shade, deep or shallow, allows light to travel upwards and downwards, adding to ambient light and task lighting below. This shape of shade is also good for showing the fabric or design of the shade.

Burlap drum shaped lampshdes
Drum shaped lampshades made from burlap from The Pottery Barn

3. Oval – The deep slim oval shape performs in a similar way to the drum, and is suitable for smaller spaces.

Oval shaped lampshade on contemporary base by Obus
Oval shaped lampsde ideal fro smaller spaces by Obus

4. Cylinder – An elegant and contemporary shape, especially if mounted on a candlestick lamp base.

Cylindrical shaped lampshde and base
Cylindrical lampshde and base. Image atgstores.com

5. Conical – This is usually seen on small candlestick lamps and provides narrow pockets of downward light.

Example of conical shade directing light downwards
Conical shaped shade directs light downwards Image sminteriors.co.uk

6. Square or Tapered Square – A square shade instantly updates a room. It gives both upwards and downwards light and looks great in a corner of a room. It gives a far better light than a conical shape.

Square shaped lampshades on a console table
Square shaped shades directs light upwards and downwards. Image by homestrendy.com

7. Rectangle or Tapered Rectangle – This shape also gives both upwards and downwards light, and gives a room a modern look. Useful on a bar or side table.

Contemporary table lamp by John Cullen Lighting
Contemporary shade and base. The light is directed both upwards and downwards by John Cullen Lighting.

It’s worth experimenting with different shapes, sizes and colours of shades to compare the differences it can make. The shade needs to be appropriate to the amount and type of light you want it to achieve, it’s purpose and height and width of the base. The more open the shade, the more light you will get. Shadow is just as important as the light in a good interior to prevent a ‘flat’ ambience.

Lamps should be fit for their intended purpose of course, whether for reading in a chair, where a floor standing or standard lamp is useful,  bedside lamps or sitting on a bedside cabinet.

Modern standard lamp for a reading corner.
A modern standard lamp is perfect for a reading corner. Image by DevaDesigns.co.uk
Table lampshade and Base ideal for reading corner
Light bounces downwards to where you need it. Image Google.co.uk
Classic Sitting Room with orange he
The colour of the shade picks up colours elsewhere in the room. Image Kit Kemp

 

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

Preparing Your Home For Selling

For Sale/Sold Sign by Zazzle
For Sale/Sold Sign by Zazzle
How long will it take to sell your home?

Spring is a popular time to market and hopefully sell properties, and once that decision has been made, you contact your local agent for a valuation. Agents valuations are based on similar properties to yours currently sold or for sale in the area.

Now, if you’ve lived in your home for many years maybe it  has become a little ‘tired’ or dated’, but would rather sell ‘as is’. Possibly at a lower selling price and taking longer to sell, rather than face doing any work, spending money, in the hope that a DIY enthusiast will see the potential and relish the challenge, some do, many people don’t see the potential or want to undertake the work.

You can ask your agent (if your home is tired or dated) for two valuations – ‘as is’ and ‘tidied up’. Depending on the individual agent, they may advise that it’s not worth spending any money or the effort, as the return will not out weigh the costs involved. Or they may be happy to advise on both scenarios. If the agent offers both marketing prices, you can work out your parameters of what you would be prepared or need to spend for the ‘added value’ and make an informed decision on whether you should implement the improvements or not.

Kitchens and bathrooms are two of the biggest influences on a sale. The view often being, don’t change it, as whoever moves in will rip it out and put in new. Possibly, either straight away, in time, or just don’t want the expense and hassle. Again, compare the ‘added’ value’ and costs, this will help you make your decision. Think about your target market: who is likely to want to buy your home? What will they be looking for?

Front path and door of Victorian house
Ensure the front of your home looks promising.

Whether or not you intend to carry out any updating, your home should still be prepared and ready to market for great photographs for the internet, brochures and actual viewings. Cleaning, especially bathrooms and kitchens, de clutter, windows should sparkle. De-personalise by packing away personal items (well you’re moving aren’t you?) so prospective purchasers can see how their belongings will fit in or not. Don’t be precious, be objective and try to see the house as a commodity rather than your home. If you find this difficult, ask friends ( however they may not be totally honest with you) Estate Agent or Home Staging Professional for their view and recommendations. Refresh garden containers with seasonal plants to brighten up dull corners of your outside space.

Case Study – Before and After of a ground floor flat which I completed last year for marketing and selling. The flat had become outdated and ‘tired’. This was the hardest job I think I’ve ever carried out, the flat had belonged to my dear mother.

The target market was an older individual or couple, perhaps downsizing or retiring, who would probably want to move straight in and not have any or very much to do.

Living Room

Working with a neutral palette to create a cohesive look in a small flat, all the rooms, including the paint work was painted the same colour. A new cream carpet was laid throughout. In the living room the 1960’s fire-place and surround was replaced with a smaller contemporary model. Although excess furniture and personal effects have been removed, we re-used some of the existing furniture and rearranged its layout.

Kitchen

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the ‘before’, of the kitchen, but the units were dark brown wood, beige work top and beige speckled tiles with an occasional fruit or vegetable tile – a 1980’s throwback. The units were in good condition and the design layout worked ergonomically, it was just that it looked dated.  Painting the cabinets an off white, replacing the work top and changing the tiled splash back to white metro in brick style made the kitchen much brighter, more contemporary and up to date.

Guest Bedroom

The guest bedroom was originally very cramped and cluttered. By removing the shelves, wash basin and tiled splash back and a single bed more space was created. Freshly decorated walls and cupboards which were fitted with new knobs, and a new fitted carpet laid. Again,  some of the original furniture and accessories were re used during the bedroom re-design.

Main Bedroom

Main Bedroom. The textured wall paper was removed, and the walls and woodwork were repaired and freshly painted in the same colour as the rest of the flat. The curtains and track were removed, leaving just the blind. The  furniture layout was rearranged, excess furniture was removed, and some items from other rooms were introduced. A new carpet was laid.

Shower Room

Small shower room
Shower Room

Although this work was done prior to the staging of the flat, it would have been necessary to include refurbishing the bathroom. The original pink bathroom suite was replaced with a large 1200 mm walk in shower, with room for a stool if required. The walls were tiled to full height on all walls. A vanity basin provides storage.  Extra storage ( not seen) was provided by a tall cabinet. The adjacent toilet has the same wall tiles and an extra high toilet was installed.

By investing time and money the property increased in marketing value by £35,000 and sold very quickly. But do your own sums, it’s all in the numbers!

Images by Sarah Maidment Interiors, Sign by Zazzle, Front door by rhsblog.co.uk Pots by http://www.etthem.se

Renovation and Restoration of a 1930’s House – The Great Interior Design Challenges

Buffering Symbol
Buffering – When will it end?

The image above via Google search is not of my new induction hob, but the infuriating buffering symbol we’re all familiar with.

The Open Reach engineer arrived on a re-scheduled appointment and connected the land line and internet connection. I explained my dilemma of broadband speed availability to service my requirements. He carried out a speed test for me – 1.70Mb. (However this was near the server, and my house has a lot of steel in it which does not help either). He explained that our connection came from the exchange which was 3500 metres away from my house. This connection has no fibre optic. There is a junction box cabinet 2000 metres from my home which does have fibre optic, which ideally I should be connected to. Unfortunately B.T. have not put in enough lines in to the junction cabinet to service everyone, and until they do we have to settle for poor service. So whichever service provider you choose, the internet speed will not be any faster.  Gigaclear an internet provider was awarded a £10m contract last year. This is the first time a company other than BT has been awarded funds from the “superfast extension programme”, which is cash from central and local government, overseen by the government’s Broadband Delivery UK. It’s time for  BT not to have the monopoly.  The village isn’t particularly rural either, and know that some towns have the same problem. It’s not just for entertainment value either, many people are working from home and a good service is a necessity. Interestingly, on Right Move http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale.html or Zoopla   http://www.zoopla.co.uk/for-sale/  the internet speed availability is stated on the listed properties and I have heard of cases whereby potential buyers were put off a property purely by the broad band speed, as this is a necessity to them. However, the company Right Move and Zoopla use for their broadband speed information is not always correct, so do your own research, and don’t be put off by a properties speed as listed on these sites.

I’m all for up-cycling, re-cycling and re-purposing furniture and objects where possible, and enjoyed watching   The Great Interior Design Challenge    http://www.sophieanddaniel.com/          http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04nj4d5/episodes/guide    re-purpose items given as part of the challenge to incorporate in their rooms. I was given a collection of odd items of furniture from a friend’s garage – a wooden bed head, metal bed parts and a small table. I discussed various options with my carpenter Tom, and to ensure that I wasn’t dismantling furniture of any value to incorporate into the boot room – shelf, boot storage and coat hangers and hooks.

image
Bed head, and tables prior to re-purposing

A bracket for the shelf was made from the metal bed frame, a carved detailed piece of wood was used for the hooks to hang from. The table top and bed head have been re -designed for boot and shoe storage.

I bought a dressing table from my friend too, who was slowly clearing out her old family home. A mahogany veneer with a swivel mirror, glass top, original Bakelite knobs and carved detailing. There was a little damage in places caused by years of use. This type of furniture is currently out of vogue and therefore no one wants them. I needed a dressing table for the master bedroom, so painted the dressing table (including drawer interiors) with Annie Sloan ‘Paris Grey’ Chalk Paint.       http://www.anniesloan.com/annie-sloan-products/paints/chalk-paint.html   To enhance the carved detailing I applied a coat of dark wax diluted with a little white spirit, wiping away the excess. This also gave the dressing table the appearance of ‘antiqued’ or ‘aged’. The Bakelite knobs were put back on, and I now have a bespoke item of furniture. So glad this didn’t end up in landfill!

We found rolls of fabric in a cupboard, one of which was still wrapped the original paper, complete with sales label. Un- rolled, the fabric by Sanderson, who are celebrating 150 years this year.     https://www.sanderson-uk.com/shop/fabric/?act=ssocomplete    is still as good as new.  We still have the whole nine yards! The design is very 60’s/70’s and can’t presently find anywhere to reuse it. I’m open to offers!

 

We also discovered about two yards of 1970’s cotton dress fabric – cushion covers perhaps?

 

 

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.

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!

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.

Cover Story

One of the simplest and easiest ways to give a living room a light summer feel is to change the cushions and or chair covers. The choice of cushions available is endless. From richly textured weaves, monogrammed, digitally printed, or woven. There is a current trend for jewel coloured velvet cushions, but personally, I will be adding these in the Autumn to create a warm luxurious living room. For now, I long for bright sunny days with visions of the sea side, a coastal feel, perhaps a touch of country nature.

However, my condumdrum is that I already own lots of cushions and don’t really want to buy more, just because the colour’s are too dark for the summer. This would mean me cramming my existing cushions into dustbin bags and storing them under the bed or in the attic until needed again. No, I just want to change the cushion covers. I do not want to spend a lot, as this is a quick fix for the summer.

There is a plethora of ready made cushion covers available from the High Street and online. H&M Home http://tablet.hm.com/gb/subdepartment/HOME?Nr=4294925259, has a great selection, and  John Lewis   http://www.johnlewis.com/search/cushion-covers?_requestid=6831546, and Etsy https://www.etsy.com/uk/search?q=cushion+uk for individually made covers. Despite the availability of choice, if you cannot cannot find exactly what your looking for at a price you want to pay, be  inspired by the designs, and  make your own cushion covers. Remnant boxes of fabrics and roll ends can be sourced quite cheaply, and are perfect for cushion covers. Don’t despair if you are not ‘A Sewing Bee’ and can’t put in a zip, by folding the fabric, similar to that of a pillow case, or envelope (only make a larger flap otherwise the cushion pad will come out of the cover), and stitch together. There is bound to be a You-tube film on this technique! However this link may be of help http://www.cushionsandmore.com/overlap-opening.html

Sofa’s and chairs perhaps are a greater challenge to brighten for the summer months. You could buy  throws to put over the chairs, and spend the summer straightening and tucking them in to keep tidy, or have loose covers made. With the price of a strong upholstery fabric and the labour costs, you may think I might as well buy a new chair or sofa. However, having two different looks created by your summer and winter covers, you have two different looks for the price of one. If your present sofa or chairs are sturdy and comfortable, why get rid of them?

Pictures from Pinterest, Etsy, and John Lewis

Light Bulb Moment

I have had always had an aversion to a single central pendant light as the only source of lighting in a room. This light creates a dull soulless room, illuminating a non flattering light not only to the room, but to it’s inhabitants. Lamps, whether table or standard, are my preference especially in a sitting room to add warmth and ambiance. The central light only being used when cleaning. My children have either inherited, or most likely have been drilled into the same aversion; To the point that my daughter actually removed the bulb from the central pendant light in a student house she once shared, forcing them to switch on the lamps instead, knowing that no-one would be bothered to replace the bulb. Drastic measures!

Lighting is one of the most important features when designing any room, and should be planned simultaneously and included in the drawings of the rooms intended use and layout. Lighting is intrinsic. It is no good wishing you had a plug socket for a table lamp once the room is completed.Lighting can make or break a completed room.

Lighting is basically divided into three categories – Ambient, Task (function) and Background, each serving a particular purpose. When these three elements are put together it is called ‘Layered’ lighting.

Ambient Lighting is created with lamps and wall lights. The illumination is soft, warm and relaxing.

Task lights which provide light for reading, or cooking – activities. Overhead ceiling or pendant lights, Spotlights

Background lighting is used as under cupboard lights in kitchens, under plinths, or perhaps to highlight a painting or wall texture.

Depending of the uses of the space there is a lighting solution available to suit. This is all very well if you are planning a major re-fit including electrical works, but what about the room you just want to paint and update on a budget? Make the most of the light you’ve got already. Anything to increase natural light into your home is beneficial to save on your bills. If you have small windows try replacing heavy curtains with a roman blind instead. If privacy is an issue consider wooden shutters with adjustable slats or a sheer fabric.

Change your bulbs. How many times have you bought a replacement light bulb and when you get home discover it is the wrong bulb, despite standing looking at the vast array on display, and end up with a drawer full of assorted bulbs which won’t fit anything in your home. If you need one, I’ve probably got one. It maybe you need a bulb of a higher or lower wattage, or a different shape, make or type. A large globe will give a better quality light than a standard bulb. Use a frosted or pearl bulb if you can as they provide a softer shadow free light. Use energy efficient bulbs where you can. This is basic advice, because if I went into all the different types of bulbs here you would certainly switch off! Sorry!

Replace lamp shades.The size, shape, material colour and lining are all key to shade’s look and use.The shade must not only complement the decor but just as importantly directs light in a way you intend.

Add ‘plug – ins’. A plug -in is a basically a light you plug into your socket – a lamp if you like. If plugged in the right area of a room it can add instant drama by high lighting a plant or art work or or light up dead corners or a room.

Then there is outside lighting to be considered too.

There is too much to say about lighting in just one blog, so  lighting will be included in future blogs on room by room designs.

Beat the January Blues

Being the twelfth day of Christmas, like most people, I took down my Christmas decorations and packed them away in boxes to be stored in the loft until December.  Surfaces were dusted, the pine needles and debris from the ivy and greenery I had trailed by way of decoration, now dried to a crisp were vacuumed up. The furniture was put back to it’s original position, which had been moved to accommodate the tree. The rain began to fall yet again and everything looked, well gloomy and bare. No fairy lights to brighten the rooms, no majestic tree, no cards from family and friends with warm greetings, only the lone Poinsettia sitting on a table (which amazingly was still going strong)  left to brighten the home. The Christmas cheer had gone.

A friend called round, who had been doing the same job as me, told me that she had popped into a supermarket and bought herself a bouquet of flowers to cheer both herself and her sitting room up. She also admitted that she had left her fairy lights strung around her dresser to switch on when she felt in need of cheer during the year. Well some people like to have fairy lights hung permanently in their bedroom as decoration. My friend also vowed to burn scented candles around the house all year, and not just at Christmas. Sometimes, all it takes is the small things.

Now devoid all the Christmas trimmings, one occasionally realizes how shabby (in an un-chic sort of way) and dull their home looks and embark on painting and decorating projects. If your financial hangover from Christmas is prohibitive to start any major home improvements, just try re-arranging your furniture layout. I recommend that you measure both your room and furniture dimensions and draw a floor plan prior to trying to lift that heavy sofa into a space where it will not fit, however hard you try. Other ways to cheer you and your room is to hang new artwork or paintings, or replace cushion covers. New duvet covers and towels are quick ways too to add  ‘punch’ into your home. The sales are on and there are great bargains and discounts to be bagged. If an item of furniture you are hankering after is not the bargain you had hoped for, think about learning a new skill of re-covering that old chair yourself, or paint an out dated piece of furniture in an accent colour. (An accent colour is a colour which contrasts and lift a rooms colour scheme, i.e. red, pink, blue, green, yellow in a mainly taupe coloured room). Some people decide that it is time to move home instead.

Spare a thought for all those unfortunate people whose homes were flooded and without power during Christmas and the New Year, due to the storms that thrashed the U.K. Now, they have major home improvements to embark upon, once that is, the insurance companies have completed all the ‘red tape.’