Langdon Hyde Design

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Category: Interior styles (page 1 of 9)

Dining In Style

Before. Farmhouse style dining

Living in a cottage in the current climate of pared-back schemes and mid-century style furnishings is quite challenging.

I feel as though I want to push the walls out to achieve more space.

In my dining room I have addressed this by taking a few simple steps to gain a more up-to-date and spacious style.

After. A more modern approach

It has been a gradual process but at last I have a room that, without looking cluttered, provides an armchair that overlooks the garden and a dining table that comfortably seats six to eight guests.

Comparing the two photographs above is almost like playing a game of “spot the difference” as many of the components remain the same.

Step 1

One of the first steps I took was to replace the patterned rug and curtains for plain pale grey ones. Instantly one’s eye is drawn to the view of the garden making the room feel light an airy.

Step 2

By swapping the yellow painted table for one with a plain oak top the room immediately had a more cohesive feel as the replacement table tied in with the existing dressers.

Part of my plan was to create a quiet, contemplative corner where I could sit and read a book, or where I could sit and gaze out into the garden as the sun rose in the early morning.

John Sankey slipper chair

My John Sankey slipper chair seemed to be the ideal seat for his purpose however once in position it did not leave much circulation space which was a problem. It became apparent that the table could not remain central to the room; it would have to be moved away from the armchair to allow access to the door to the garden.

This created two issues; firstly the dresser would have to be moved and secondly the central light pendant would have to be taken down and an alternative light source found. These were not tasks for the feint hearted!

Step 3

Moving the dresser was not too terrible. Once emptied I slipped a soft mat beneath it and was able to slide it across the floor. (I should add this did entail putting most of the dining furniture in the garden pro-temp but at least it was a dry day).

Step 4

My solution for a replacement light source was to buy an arc floor lamp. There was a huge number to choose from but I settled for this moderately priced one from Heal’s. Putting it together was quite tricky so I was very relieved when its arc spanned the table perfectly.

Heal’s arc floor lamp

Turning my attention back to the dresser I was really pleased with its new position below my lovely black mirror. A pair of black lamps provide soft lighting.

Quite by chance I stumbled upon an image on the Neptune website. The picture was of a row of console tables placed on top of a run of kitchen worktops. It was stunning and as a consequence my brain went into overdrive as I thought about the Baker’s rack that was sitting in my store collecting dust.

Step 5

Without further ado I retrieved the rack from its dusty corner and measured its dimensions. Not wishing to take a chance I lay it on some cardboard on the floor and drew around its shape.

Baker’s rack template

Armed with template I was able to determine how much adjustment the rack would need for it to provide the perfect home for my “bar”.

With the legs cut down and toughened glass shelves manufactured to fit the unit I placed it atop the dresser. Ta dah…

The last items to be sourced for the room were some new dining chairs. I spent much time looking at the options, even considering benches at one stage.

Step 6

Finally I opted for six Charcoal coloured Stafford chairs from OKA. New this season they match perfectly with the black accessories in the room, including my much loved slipper chair. Their simple shape combined with velvet upholstery and metal studs match the room very well.

Linen slip cover for OKA Stafford Chair

I also invested in a set of natural linen slip covers thus providing protection and/or a completely new scheme should I desire.

Guest ready

Finally, the room was guest ready and the first diners enjoyed supper at our’s at the weekend.

I’ll raise a glass to that!

Benchmark

When trying to save space or create sleek lines benches might well be a good option.

Whether used for informal, formal, or alfresco dining, benches not only save space but add an air of sociability. When not in use the backless ones can be stowed away beneath a table thus providing easier circulation. Even those with backs look more neat and tidy than a row of single seats.

My research revealed that benches come in all shapes and sizes and in a vast range of finishes. They might be quite basic or beautifully upholstered in luxurious fabrics. Even the wooden ones can be made more comfortable with the addition of a purpose made seat pad, cushions or a sheepskin rug.

My recent visit to Top Drawer underlined how popular and versatile this type of seating can be. It is a style that I particularly favour as it conjures up cosy “elbows on the table” type suppers with friends or family, or perhaps both..

Particularly practical for children as they like to hop up and down from the table, but perhaps less so for people with restricted mobility. To cater for both a mix of individual chairs and a bench might be the answer.

Something to bear in mind is that backless benches may prove less practical for leisurely lunches as they are likely to become less comfortable as the meal progresses. Even the ones with backs may be not be a winner as guests might feel confined and restricted.

Choosing the perfect bench

When choosing a bench the same considerations should apply as when choosing any dining seating. Dimensions are critical, particularly seat height in relation to the table height.

Width should also be taken into account when deciding how many seats can be accommodated.

Overall height is important with regards to sight lines and of course quality should be checked to ensure that they are fit for purpose.

Whilst looking at various options I particularly liked the contemporary style of the Arundel oak bench and matching dining table at Neptune.

For a more luxurious finish I discovered an extraordinary selection of upholstered dining benches and chairs at Angel & Boho all of which are fully customisable.

For more information click on this link to read OKA’s guide to choosing a dining chair

Canny Storage Ideas

In my opinion good interior design is more than just choosing a colour scheme. An aspect that I consider key to intelligent design is the incorporation of ‘canny’ storage.

To my mind clever, or canny, storage is the equivalent of a good filing system; everything must be easily retrievable whether it has been put away for the long-term or short-term.

It must also, wherever possible, enhance a scheme rather than detract from it.

There are some obvious solutions but some might require a little more imagination.

Under-bed storage is an obvious solution and inexpensive storage containers can be purchased specifically to fit this void. Vacuum pack bags can reduce the volume of items being stored, such as clothes, bedding, or other soft miscellany, thus allowing more to fit inside the container.

Dividing walls are far from a new invention but can be used to hide unsightly items. In the photograph below a pine shelving unit as been placed at right angles to the wall to hide an ugly filing cabinet and printer.

The view is taken from the open doorway so passersby only see the shelf and its contents, and not the hidden office equipment.

In my sitting room I have a matching oak coffee table and side table. I chose both as they have a shelf below the table top surface  on which I can neatly store DVD’s, magazines, TV remotes, etc. This provides easy access to the items when required but otherwise they are neatly stowed away.

Bowls, napkins, and coasters are kept on this unit in easy reach for impromptu nibbles.

I favour baskets in my home as they are both practical and decorative. The three on top of my double wardrobe contain out of season clothing, such as swimwear in the winter months, and thermals in the summer.

The contents are easily switched to my chest of drawers when the seasons change.

Ikea sell very sturdy, relatively inexpensive, albeit flat-packed, furniture in many different styles. I mixed and matched these pine-veneered and white veneered chests to fit under the eaves of my bedroom ceiling.

The deep drawers are ideal for storing sweaters and T-shirts which would otherwise take-up hanging space in my cupboards. The pine-look units also have a shallow pull-out tray inside the top drawer which accommodates small items such as scarves, socks, and jewellery.

Storing shoes can be a challenge if they are kept in their boxes as it is not always easy to recognise them. A neat way of overcoming this problem is to photograph the relevant footwear and adhere the picture to the side of the box.

They can then be neatly stacked inside a wardrobe or cupboard and easily found when needed.

When cupboard space is limited use ‘over-the-door hooks’ to provide additional hanging space. These come in many different styles and conveniently hook over the top of a door. They are particularly useful in bathrooms for hanging towels and dressing gowns.

Garden storage is equally important and it is possible to find stylish options at garden centres and on the internet.

The arbour below serves several purposes. It provides privacy and protection from the elements where the hedge has receded to virtually nothing; it has a big trunk in which to store garden games; and when the trunk is closed it becomes a seat on which to sit and enjoy the early morning sunshine.

Anyone for croquet?

There are obviously infinite methods of storage and far too many to mention here. Sometimes a little imagination goes a long way to introducing canny storage.

An example of a less conventional method in my home is this set of three decorative glazed flower pots that I have on my kitchen windowsill above the sink.

One contains the dishcloth, one the scourers, and one a vegetable brush.

I know what is in each one but to anybody else they are just attractive blue pots sitting on the windowsill.

I hope this helps with your storage dilemmas and would be pleased to hear from you with your canny ideas.

Weather for leather

The wet weekend forced me to find tasks indoors rather than spend time in the garden. In fact it was the perfect weather for leather as I set about incorporating some rather tired furniture into our house.

The furniture in question was purchased from Heal’s nearly twenty years ago and had reached the end of its corporate life. Unceremoniously it had been condemned to life in a storage container.

Never one to miss the opportunity to restore an unloved and previously owned piece of furniture I set about my rescue mission.

Rallying some muscle, and the use of a van, I removed the furniture from the container and brought it home.

My aim was to rehouse the two seater sofa into our small front room which, until now, has been used as a study. Homing in on the trend to have a “snug” I envisaged the sofa being used as a warm and cosy corner to read, or to catch up with missed TV programmes on the iPad.

None of the furniture I recovered was in a bad condition. It was a little tired, a little worn, and a little dusty. Nothing that some TLC couldn’t remedy.

Donning my Marigolds and digging out my Renapur leather cleaning kit from the cupboard under the sink I set about my work. 

  • Wipe clean with a damp cloth
  • Apply leather cleaner with a sponge
  • Rinse with clean water
  • Wait to dry
  • Apply balm

What could be easier?

The results were stunning! Scuffs and scratches virtually eradicated, and a lovely rich sheen bringing the old sofa back to life.

A Herdwick fleece from Neptune and a scatter cushion from Joules added the finishing touches.

Driven on by my success I set about the armchair and footstool which had also been part of the original set of leather furniture.

These are now proud occupants of our sitting room, giving it an air of sophistication which it had previously lacked.

The end result was really pleasing as both rooms now share a common theme which gives the house a much more cohesive look and feel.

The only thing left to do was to put my feet up with a good book!

London Design Week 2018

There is more to London Design Week than meets the eye and it is the reason I return each year.

An important element of London Design Week is “Access All Areas” which incorporates a number of showrooms outwith the Chelsea Harbour complex. This year, my first port of call was Osborne & Little on the Kings Road, to view the cake, and to do a little research….

Standing six feet tall, and constructed from O&L’s iconic fabrics, the cake had been made to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

Birthday cake

Aside from the cake, the showroom paid homage to Osborne & Little’s heritage with an exhibition of archive designs. I was thrilled to find an original pattern book that contained a hand printed paper that I had used to wallpaper the walls of my sitting room back in the early 80’s. It made a huge impact on me at the time as, until then, I had been living  with my parent’s painted anaglypta!

Osborne & Little archive print

Chelsea Harbour opened its doors to London Design Week 2018 at 10 o’clock on Sunday morning. Anxious to spend a full day absorbing the atmosphere and embracing the event I rocked up in time to attend the first Conversation In Design Event.

London Design Week isn’t just about the showrooms and their products but, as much, if not more so, about the glitterati of interior designers who put in an appearance at the show. Whether it be in person, or as part of a collaboration that put the amazing 2018 Legends window displays together, they were there in force.

Having done my homework prior to my arrival I headed up to the Design Club on the Third Floor of the South Dome to listen to words of wisdom spoken by Sir Peter Osborne, co-founding partner of Osborne & Little.

Interviewed by Deborah Barker, Editor in Chief of Homes & Gardens, he spoke candidly of his 50 years working alongside Antony Little. He happily answered questions raised by his attentive audience and even offered fatherly advice to a new generation of designers.

I was surprised to learn that his background was in banking, rather than design, and has therefore shaped the commercial side of the business. His sage advice was to start your own business as it can be very rewarding but, that said, he added that watching the cashflow is key to success.

Sir Peter Osborne in conversation with Deborah Barker

Also present at the event was legendary designer Paolo Moschino.

As another commercially astute man he had taken a brand and made it his own. His Nicholas Haslam showroom was the first stop on the afternoon’s Design Discovery Tour that I had joined to gain insider knowledge! Exuding charm and charisma Mr. Moschino hosted an impromptu Q&A session with our entranced group.

His secret to success …. make it commercial.

 

Another interesting venue on the Design Discovery Tour was the showroom of McKinney & Co where we viewed an extraordinary collection of curtain poles, finials, pelmets, coronas, tie-backs, door knobs, hooks, and handrails.

I was particularly taken with the transparent poles that were filled with everything from tiny white teddy bears to feathery down. I could imagine these being used in a nursery to create a gorgeous whimsical effect.  Add to them  The Gainsborough Silk Weaving Company’s “The Bunny Gets It” range of fabrics and you would have a child’s room fit for royalty.

McKinney & Co

During a brief break from organised events I took the opportunity to walk the show.

Attracted by the floral arrangement in the window of  Sutherland Perennials Studio I dropped in to take a closer look at the colourful range of fabrics on display.

Window Display by Phillip Corps Exquisite Flowers

I learned that these are 100% solution-dyed acrylics which are high-performance luxury fabrics which can be used outside as well as inside. Technically superior, the fabrics are fade resistant, mildew- and mold-resistant, bleach cleanable and easily maintained.

Kelly-Anne Bailey

Kelly-Anne Bailey took time to demonstrate the ease with which a red wine stain could be removed from a Perennials fabric with a regular household cleaning agent.

Perennials Fabric topiary tree

I was particularly struck by the topiary trees constructed from a selection of Perennials’ luxury fabrics which include prints, wovens, jacquards and velvets.

One of the most informative and popular Access All Areas events was held at the Evitavonni showroom on the Second Floor of the South Dome.  Here a panel of experts, moderated by Sophia Salaman of the World of Interiors, discussed how to find inspiration to enable themselves, as designers, to evolve and grow.

One of the most encouraging tips I took on board was to collect and catalogue images that personally inspire me. With today’s smart phone technology that is a no-brainer, but personally, I still like to collect magazine clippings and fabric swatches for my own use.

Sophia Salaman of the World of Interiors moderates

Leaving the show a little before closing time I felt uplifted and motivated and, I can honestly say that it wasn’t due to the endless glasses of champagne on offer as, on this occasion, I had chosen to drive and park at the harbour!

If time allows, I would certainly like to revisit the show before it ends on Friday as notable names such as Kit Kemp MBE and Lord Snowdon will be in attendance.

For more information about previous LDW’s visit my blogs at:

https://langdonhyde.com/discovery-trail/

https://langdonhyde.com/the-best-of-ldw-2016/

https://langdonhyde.com/london-design-week-2015/

Curtains for all seasons

Window shutters, without a doubt, look fabulous. Smart, minimalist,  and super versatile. That said, I think they have become, dare I say commonplace, and I think curtains are about to come back into vogue.

Curtains are for all seasons. They provide warmth and comfort in the colder months and protection from the sun and insects in the warmer ones.

Choice of style and colour is infinitesimal. A beautifully made pair of curtains can be the defining factor in an interior scheme.

There are options depending on budget and time frame. High street retailers such as Next sell ready made curtains whilst Laura Ashley sell both ready made or made to measure. They also stock a range of fabrics and linings that allow the keen seamstress to make their own.

Interior design studios and specialist stockists can provide a fully bespoke service. They will do everything from taking measurements, providing fabrics, making the curtains, and hanging them in the desired position. Job done.

Manuel Canovas at Colefax and Fowler Chelsea Harbour

At the other end of the spectrum Ikea sell unlined linen curtains, black-out curtains, roller blinds, and slatted blinds, starting at a price of £3 for a pleated blind!

Having had a sewing machine from a very young age I have, over the years, become competent in the art of curtain making and as much as I would sometimes like to handover the task to a specialist I invariably take on the task myself.  The sense of satisfaction when hanging the final product is well worth the effort involved.

Self-taught, I have relied on trial and error and The Laura Ashley Book of Home Decorating. First published in 1982 by Octopus Books I have the Revised edition which was published in 1985. It is my “go to” book for all things related to soft-furnishings. With great illustrations and straight-forward language it explains how to make everything from a roller blind to a tented ceiling.

Recently I finished making  a pair of loose-lined curtains and valance for my guest room. I used two different types of linens from Laura Ashley; one floral and one spotted. Choosing fabric can be quite difficult as there is such a variety of colours, patterns and weights.

Hand made curtains and valance in Laura Ashley fabrics

If making your own curtains for the first time I would recommend an unlined curtain in a plain fabric with a simple gathered or pencil pleat heading. Measure the width of the window and finished length prior to making any purchases as these measurements will be critical when calculating how much fabric and heading tape to buy.

If a pattern fabric is preferred an allowance has to be made for the “pattern repeat”.  This repeat is multiplied by the number of widths to calculate how much fabric is required.

Once happy with the concept of making a pair of unlined curtains the next step is to make loose-lined ones. The advantage of using a lining is that the pattern only shows on the inside of the window thus giving a uniformed look from the outside. A lining will also protect the curtain fabric from being bleached by the sun.

The ultimate goal is to make a pair of curtains which are lined, and inter-lined. An interlining is usually a fleecy fabric which provides body to the finished curtains and adds a touch of luxury. It also acts as an insulator to the cold or to draughts. I think is more suitable for larger windows that require full length curtains. My experience of using it in small, cottage style windows, is that it is too bulky.

Luxury interlined curtains with contrasting fabric on reverse

If feeling creative a complimentary curtain fabric could be used as an alternative to a plain lining. This is ideal if you have internal doors that require a window dressing as each side of the curtain will have a decorative finish. An example of this might be a set of internal doors opening into a conservatory.

One of Chelsea Harbour’s showrooms

Having become confident making curtains I quickly progressed to valances and tie backs. These seem to dip in and out of fashion but in the right setting they can look very effective. The great thing about them is that a contrasting fabric can be used to add interest to a scheme. Stripes and spots can sit happily alongside one another as can geometrics and florals. The combinations will depend on the scheme in mind.

If contemplating updating your interior scheme with new window dressings The Design Centre at Chelsea Harbour is a fabulous place to look at fabrics and styles. With 120 showrooms and over 600 of the world’s most prestigious luxury brands, it is the largest of its type in Europe. Normal opening hours are 9.30am-5.30pm from Monday to Friday; closed on Saturday and Sunday.  Each year DCCH hosts London Design Week and 2018 is no exception. It runs from 4th-9th March inclusive, with Trade Preview from 4th-6th and All Welcome from 7th-9th. This is a great opportunity to view imaginative installations and bespoke pop-ups, and to discover the latest offerings from 120 exhibitors from around the world.

What Is Interior Design?

Recent years have seen a huge increase in the popularity of interior design. There has been a whole series of reality television programmes on the subject; Changing Rooms, Grand Designs, and The Great Interior Design Challenge, to name but a few. But what is interior design? What differentiates one building’s interior from another, albeit it a grand concert hall, or our own homes?

From my perspective a lot of commercial buildings’ interiors are dictated by their purpose and budget constraints. Some elements of the interior design will be incorporated into the fabric of the building for the neatest and most effective results. For instance, communication networks, building management systems, and acoustic treatments. In this respect it is essential for the interior designer to be appointed at the concept stage of the building as all of these elements will impact on the final look, feel, and functionality of the space.

The same could be said when building a new home, whether it be by a commercial developer or by an ambitious self-builder. It is certainly worth considering involving an interior designer from the outset.

For those of us with a home of our own, and all that comes with it, interior design is still  relevant at a conscious or sub-conscious level.

At a conscious level one might consider anything from engaging a professional designer, to thumbing through numerous house and home magazines, or enrolling on a design course ourselves. All of these options are readily available.

At a sub-conscious level the whole process is a lot less formal. The starting point might be acquiring the requisite amount of furniture, carpets, white goods, and other essential items that meets one’s own needs. Colour, scale, style, and accessories might not be considered until much later in the process. Nonetheless, home-making almost certainly involves an element of “interior design” regardless of budget.

The excitement at the prospect of having a home of your own often leaves little or no head space to plan the interior as a whole. Impulsive purchases could lead to expensive mistakes in the longer term. To address this issue and to provide a simple guide here is a short Q&A which will not only help the first time home owner, but also offer practical advice to anyone who loves their home.

Ownership or rental?

Home ownership allows far more freedom to decorate and furnish. Rental is likely to be subject to approval by a landlord and permission should be sought.

Investment in a home of your own is far more tangible than money spent on a rental property, so try to determine from the outset how long the landlord is prepared to let you stay.

Accommodation?

A great phrase used by Kirsty Allsopp in TV’s Love It or List It is “future proofing”. Will the property provide adequate accommodation off into the future? Will it provide sufficient space for a growing family whether that be the arrival of children or the need to house an older or infirm relative?

If this isn’t going to be a “forever home” then careful consideration should be given as to how much money is going to be invested and how personalised it should become.

If it is only a stepping stone, then only spend money that will add value, and keep the backdrop neutral to ensure an easy exit.

Layout?

If you have acquired a property that suits your needs from day one then this is not relevant. However, if changes to the internal layout are required ensure that you engage a professional to guide you through the legalities and practicalities before embarking on any DIY projects.

Condition of construction including wiring and plumbing?

A  Homebuyers’ Survey will often highlight any obvious problems prior to purchase and it is therefore advisable to have one carried out. The best advise I was offered was to try and attend the survey in person. This way you may learn about matters that aren’t necessarily part of the written report. Always ask the surveyor’s permission to do so otherwise they might not be as forthcoming as you would wish.

Once the property has been acquired if any remedial work is required seek the advise of a professional before undertaking any DIY. They should be able to advise you on health and safety, building regulations, and planning consents, that might need to be taken into consideration.

Age and style of building?

It maybe that you have acquired a building that is of a particular era or style. If Listed, permission may be needed to make changes to the interior and/or exterior. Advice should be sought, in the first instance, from your Local Authority.

If, of a particular style, this is something to be considered before choosing furniture and finishes for the interior. Ultimately, the decision should come down to personal preference as, unless restricted by some form of preservation order, there are no hard and fast rules.

Scale?

Nowadays there are some great software packages that can be downloaded from the internet for free which will assist in planning room layouts. It is certainly worth taking the time and trouble to measure an item of furniture before committing.

In the absence of a computer a good old-fashioned way of working out whether a piece of furniture would fit would be to use newspaper to create its footprint. Measure the dimensions of the object in question and, using the newspaper, lay this out on the proposed floor area. This will give an indication as to fit , but remember to measure height as well, as this is equally important when furnishing a room.

Apart from fit, choosing furniture that is the correct scale for a space is important. Too big and it will dominate the space; too small and it will look completely lost. If a cohesive look is required choose items of a similar scale.

Colour?

Personally, I think colour is one of the trickiest elements to address in an interior scheme. That said there is a huge amount of information available in printed form and on the internet.

One of the most important things to consider is that the type of light will change how the colour looks. A painted wall will look completely different in daylight as does in artificial light. I have quite a funny/embarrassing story to prove this point.

In my home I had one wall painted in F&B‘s Churlish Green. To update the scheme I asked my partner to repaint the wall in Neptune‘s Sage Green. Having bought the new colour I left it in the hall. After several days the can of paint remained in the hall and I was beginning to feel a little impatient. I decided not to complain as I thought that would be counter-productive and, as they say, patience is a virtue, so I remained quiet. This paid off as the next day I noticed that the can of paint, despite still being in the hall, had evidence of being used. I quickly went into the living room and to my great joy the wall had indeed been painted Sage Green. Overjoyed I rang my partner to say “thank you”. He didn’t seem to share my elation. As it turned out he had painted the wall several days beforehand and had deliberately turned the can of paint around so that I would eventually notice that it had been used. My only defence, was that I had not been in the living room in daylight since the wall had been painted and I really hadn’t been able to tell in the subdued artificial lamplight!

Going back to the matter in hand, to trial a paint colour, used at least an A3 piece of lining paper painted in the colour(s) of choice and put it in the room that you intend to decorate. Look at it in bright light, dull light, artificial light, and any other combination of light that might be relevant in that room. Move it around the room and do the same. Hopefully, this will aid your decision.

If you have a room with little natural light, contrary to belief, using a dark colour will enhance the space more than a light colour. F&B have many examples of this in books and on their website.

If you are decorating a home for resale, standard advice is to use a  neutral shade. This is also a great, non-contentious, backdrop for furniture, fittings, carpets, accessories, and pictures of choice.

Lastly, on the subject of colour, it is very fashionable to have a cohesive scheme throughout. This doesn’t necessarily mean using the same colour but using the same weight or depth of colour. I think the easiest way to achieve this is to use either the same brand of paint throughout, or to use ones with similar qualities.

Pattern?

When I think of contemporary pattern, I immediately think about the beautiful fabrics and wallpapers designed by Bluebell Gray. Stunning, colourful florals to hang as curtains, to upholster furniture, or to paper walls. Add to this a collection of their china and scatter cushions and you would have a truly colourful home.

The use of clashing patterns is also in vogue at the present time and the clever use of several different prints can provide a truly unique look.

In my opinion, patterns, like furnishings, are best when scaled to the object, or to the room, where they are to be used. Too big and they can be overwhelming; too small and they become insignificant.

Personal taste?

I firmly believe a house should be a home. Furnished with love, hand-me-downs, and the odd extravagance. There are guidelines that can be followed, but to my mind a home should be comfortable and practical. Personal touches are what makes a home unique and these can’t be bought or prescribed. Fashion is a money making industry and should only be looked to for inspiration not to be a slave to. Life is too short to be in debt for the latest style sofa!

Me? 

I live and work in the UK and have been awarded a Diploma with Distinction in Interior Design & Decoration by Rhodec International and a Diploma of Higher Education in Interior Design by London Metropolitan University . The content of this blog is written with knowledge gained from my studies and life experiences.

Clean Green Lines

The current trend for open plan living and clean lines has caused me immense frustration lately as I live in a country cottage which is not in the slightest bit contemporary!

It is however unique in character as it has been built from reclaimed materials and is located within the Green Belt.

I have lived here since 2005 and during that time have reinvented the interior look and feel several times over.

Its latest reinvention has been inspired by a company which, to all intents and purposes, has turned its back on high gloss furnishings and mid-century patterns, to provide a pallet of materials which aim to give a home soul; Neptune.

Neptune Directory

Rather than turn away from exposed beams and less than large windows, this company embraces these features by crafting kitchens, furniture, fabrics and accessories, which enhance a home’s quirkiness.

During the autumn months, as the days became shorter, I decided that my sitting room needed an urgent facelift to keep my spirits high during, the soon to arrive, wintertime.

During the course of the year I had considered replacing the Berber carpet with something a little more exciting, and have been angling for several years now, to replace my other-half’s squishy three-seater sofa with a more modern one.

For better or worse I decided that in the cold light of day there was nothing wrong with the carpet and the sofa is just so damn comfortable that any visitors always make a beeline for it!

I decided that perhaps the room just needed to have a more cohesive feel to satisfy my whim.

To get a feel for how the finished design would be acheived I am now going to admit that I did everything back to front.

My first purchases were this gorgeous circular  mirror, table-top work lamp, and these Sage green candles.

Neptune mirror and candles; Cox & Cox work lamp

I would like to think there was method in my madness as I wanted to experiment with lighting, colours, and mirror shapes and sizes, before spending time painting walls and sewing curtains.

A photograph in the, by now, well-thumbed Neptune Directory caught my attention as it had several mirrors grouped together above a console table. It occurred to me that a similar arrangement could work equally well above a mantlepiece. With a large roll of lining paper, a pair of scissors, and one mirror already “in stock”, I set about creating the mirror shapes and sizes so that I could gauge how they would work in the available space prior to making another purchase.

Rectangular and circular mirrors

Next I turned my attention to the window dressing. The room is dual aspect with a pair of French doors opening on to the patio and two small westerly facing side windows. The previous owner had set a trend for very heavily embroidered Fired Earth curtains at all of the windows in the house. Over the years I have gradually replaced them with much lighter fabrics and colours that I have sewn myself, and generally speaking are an improvement.

Applying pencil pleat heading

Now though, I was tired of the tiny pairs of curtains that hung at the side windows as I didn’t think they did the windows justice and they were rarely drawn.

I particularly like the simplicity and practicality of rolled-up blinds so I embarked on making some along with a pair of pencil pleat curtains for the patio doors.

Linen rolled-up blind

I chose Emma linen/viscose in Sage for the curtains, and a combination of this and Finian linen in Sage for the blinds. Both were featured in Neptune’s Spring/Summer 2017 “The Green House” collection.

I love to sew and was happy to make these soft furnishings for my home but must admit that I am not as keen to apply paint to the walls. Fortunately, I have a partner who is much better at decorating than I am and he happily painted one wall in Sage emulsion whilst leaving the others painted in White Mulberry.

Wicker chair and pencil pleat curtain

Another aspect of the room that I considered long and hard was the oak tables. When we first moved to the cottage we were happy to invest in oak furniture as it  suited the style of the house. Again, with the fashion for sleeker, more contemporary lines I questioned whether they should remain or not.

Fortunately, the new lighter, brighter scheme accommodated the existing furniture very successfully as it added warmth and texture to the room. I added some leafy green coasters and napkins to tie in with the overall picture.

Although I chose to keep the oak furniture I decided to replace a heavily patterned and dark upholstered chair and footstool with wicker ones which work much better.

Oak side table

One piece of furniture which was never in danger of being replaced was my lovely Sofa Workshop sofa which I had commissioned only a small number of years before. It is just becoming softer in look and feel, and I believe it has a lot more life in it yet. The colour provides a lovely contrast to the fresh greens applied to the wall, floor, and window dressings, and adds an element of warmth.

Purple sofa

An unexpected addition to my scheme came in the form of these lovely Next cushions which my very talented daughter-in-law gave me as a Christmas present. In essence they tie the scheme together beautifully, not only with their combination of colours but also the “garden” theme to which there had been a nod in the Neptune storybook.

Next cushion on wooden box

I am very pleased with the now completed scheme. It happily combines old with new and has an abundance of natural materials which, whilst updating the look and feel of the room, does not distract from the integrity of the building itself.

I think I can successfully say, whim satisfied!

Shabbism; the latest trend?

Not naturally shabby

I recently read an article in the Sunday Telegraph about “shabbism”. Champions of this interior “style”, husband and wife, Emlyn Rees and Josie Lloyd, have collaborated on a book entitled Shabby: The Jolly Good British Guide to Stress-free Living.

Despite my keenness to present a home that is at all times presentable this article really struck a chord and, I am sure, will hit a common note with a lot of busy people.

My understanding of the philosophy underpinning shabbism is the ability to feel at ease in one’s home especially if you share it with children and pets!

Living with pets….

I’m not sure if this is a style that has been highly publicised or aspired to in the media. It’s certainly not one that I have seen strewn across the centrefolds of glossy magazines. Nonetheless, I imagine there is part of all of us that want a home that is welcoming to visitors whenever they knock on the door. Not a home that we are embarrassed by because there are shoes kicked off in the hall or unpacked boxes in the kitchen.

There has been a lot of press about pared-back, curated, and edited interiors, and although it has it’s place, shabbism flies in the face of neat and tidy. In essence, it is warm, friendly, and lived in. It is not a show-house but a home that accommodates a family and all that goes with it.

A place for everything

Personally, I would like to think that there is a half-way house and to achieve a sense of orderly homeliness I tend to abide by a phrase that I learnt a long time ago. “A place for everything and everything in its place”. I’m not sure if this is because I am a Gemini or that I have a touch of OCD. Most likely it is because my parents were very neat and tidy and that has rubbed off on me.

I believe good storage is the key to this particular philosophy and once you have that it is much easier to keep a house tidy. I also believe that a regular review of one’s possessions is the key to a relaxed way of life. Again, this is hard when you’re fully employed during the day, but setting time aside to declutter every now and again is time well spent.

Beautifully curated

Shabbism does not embrace electronic storage devices but relishes having a collection of books, records, video tapes, photographs, magazines and newspapers on display. I agree that these items bring personality to a home but would prefer to edit these down to my most cherished items rather than keep those that are no longer significant.

On that note I am going to take a collection of clothes, books, and discarded toys to my local charity shop.

Shabby: The Jolly Good British Guide to Stress-free Living.

Behind Closed Doors

Is your front door a reflection of the interior beyond? Is it an integral part of the “interior design”?

Front doors come in so many different styles, colours, shapes and materials it is sometimes difficult not to wonder what lies behind those closed doors.

This colourful blue door left ajar gives a clear view of the vestibule beyond which is home to this patterned wall mural. Decorated with seashells and pebbles it is clearly a home that embraces its seaside location on the east coast of Scotland.

Scottish seaside

This door is the entrance to a stunning country cottage set in a Surrey street amidst 20th century homes.  The perfectly manicured borders, filled with red salvias, immediately lead you towards the contrasting black and white door which peeks out from behind the wisteria and roses.

Surrey cottage

This smart pair of doors look very grand against the cobbled street. A passing glance gives the impression of two identical doorways. It is only when looking at the numbers on the doors that this entrance becomes quite mysterious.

Seeing double

I have had been led to believe that number 137 was once a butcher’s shop. There didn’t appear to be any evidence to support this tale until I looked at the wreath attached to the front door. On closer inspection it appears to be constructed of a mixture of feathers and fur.

Feather and fur

This Halliford town house, set back from the road, can only be viewed from afar. The enchanting set of steps lead up to the blue-grey door which has this delightful “spider web” window which is mirrored in the half-moon window above.

Spider’s web window

This open door, with plants spilling down the steps and onto the courtyard outside, is clearly an invitation to step inside. Who could resist entering this enticing florists and buying some freshly cut blooms?

First floor

With its mediterranean blue sky, and and tropical planting flanking the front entrance, it would be easy to believe that this vineyard is in the Champagne region. It is indeed home to a fabulous sparkling wine, not in the north-east of France, but here, in the south of England!

Perfectly framed

Hidden away in the village of Petworth this secret garden appears to be watered from the sturdy iron tap seen here in the foreground of the photograph. The unpretentious door is the perfect backdrop for the abundance of patio container planting.

Secret hideaway

With Christmas just around the corner many of us will be looking to decorate our homes for the festive season. This is another opportunity to express our sense of style and to brighten our front doors with a hand-tied wreath or perhaps something a little less traditional.

Traditional Christmas wreath

What could be nicer at this time of year than to wish your visitors “joy” the moment they approach your home. This less than traditional decoration suits this modern front door perfectly and is a real style statement.

JOY

Last, but not least, I couldn’t resist sharing this photograph of the front door to the Bay Tree Bakery. When both door leaves are open wide there is absolutely no mistaking what you will find behind these closed doors!

Says it all

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