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Category: Portfolio (Page 1 of 2)

Children’s Guest Room Makeover

Anyone with experience of children will know that in the blink of an eye they have grown from tiny infants to independent little people and their bedrooms are no longer big enough to accommodate them and their stuff. Since moving to our house some ten years ago the children in our life have turned from toddlers to teenagers and the little guest room that was reserved for them has suddenly become very overcrowded. Short of moving house we have had to find a solution to provide a bit more space for these very important visitors.

Very important visitors

Very important visitors

Until now the room has been furnished with a Laura Ashley daybed and a lovely old pine wardrobe. Needless to say floor area is limited and once the trundle bed is erected there is no visible floor space at all. It had become obvious that the wardrobe would have to be removed and rehoused. It was also apparent that the fading Fired Earth colour on the wall was in need of revitalisation.

Mood board

Mood board

Throwing caution to the wind I decided that the whole room needed to be painted with a much more vibrant colour. Aware of the constraints concerning size and the soft furnishings that I wished to keep, I opted for a lovely Fired Earth Oak Fern green for the walls, and a matt white emulsion for the ceiling and eaves. I felt confident that the tiny room wouldn’t suffer as a consequence of this bold colour combination as there is a fairly even split between wall and ceiling area. I was delighted with the outcome. The room had been transformed from a pretty average space to a lovely, lively, little guest room. With the original pictures put back on the walls and the string of tiny lampshades back on the bed the whole room had a much more cohesive look and feel.

Pictures and lamps

Pictures and lamps

Another concern had been that the existing curtains which I had designed and sewn myself would no longer match. In fact, the new scheme has given them a new lease of life. To complete the room I couldn’t resist squeezing in the little hand painted “toy” cupboard at the foot of the bed to accommodate a selection of updated family photographs and bedside lamp.

Toy box and photographs

Toy box and family photographs

The only problem remaining was where to put the wardrobe. The other bedrooms were not an option as they already had plenty of cupboards. The only sensible place was the entrance hall downstairs. Again, I carefully weighed up the pros and cons and was pleased with the result when it was finally in place.

The door mirror not only reflects the morning light from an east facing window but in its new position the reflection in the mirror has created a picture all of its own; the combination of the striped Crucial Trading carpet that boldly leads up the staircase from the flagstone floor, the dark wood balustrades and handrail, and the colourful Sanderson curtains that frame the little window, add a whole other pleasing dimension to the entrance hall.

Reflection in wardrobe mirroe

Reflection in wardrobe mirror


Creating The Wow Factor

F3 outside view

20th century apartment block

Transforming a property that has been let out and uncared for is not a particularly big ask. Working to a tight timescale and budget, however, can present an enormous challenge. This was the task I was presented with when I took on a two bedroom flat on the South Coast which had recently been vacated and was in need of a quick turnaround so that it could be put back on the market.

When first viewed, apart from a whole lot of clutter, there didn’t appear to be too much damage. Unfortunately, prior to handing back the keys, the tenants were required to redecorate. To do this they chose to use a rather hideous battleship grey paint.  Add to that the stained, and ruined, light coloured carpet which was revealed once the furniture was removed, plus the build up of grease in the kitchen which the “professional” clean had not touched, I soon realised the task in hand was greater than first imagined. The final blow was when I realised that the dark wood framed, double-glazed windows were completely rotten.

Hideous grey lounge

Hideous grey lounge

The property, circa 1980, looked as though it still had its original gloss paint which had turned from white to yellow with age. It also had an inherently old fashioned kitchen and bathroom.

Old stair carpet

Yellowing paintwork and stained carpet

Keen to get to work I quickly drew up an action plan and prioritised the list. Taking into account the budget constraints I decided that the kitchen and bathroom could be made good with a really good clean and a few minor tweaks. The windows, carpet and décor, however, would need more serious attention.

Dingy single bedroom

Dark wood window frames in dingy single bedroom

Having local contacts is always a bonus and I soon had a decorator, carpet fitter and window company on-board. Add to that the recommendation of a rubbish removal company and a trusted electrician and a schedule was soon worked up.

As the flat was to be re-let it was important to make it look as clean, spacious and neutral as possible. The only items dictating the final scheme were the pale blue ceramic floor tiles in the kitchen, the blue/grey detailing on the kitchen units, and the black and gold tiles in the bathroom. The medium dark wood internal doors with stainless furniture would, to a certain degree, dictate the style.

Internal doors

Internal doors

It struck me that the layout of the flat was not dissimilar to those that are being built at the present time in as much as there was an element of open plan living. The galley-style kitchen is open to the lounge at either end, whilst the other rooms are accessed from a good size landing. I felt that it had potential as, in my mind, once refurbished it would become an ideal backdrop for a mid-century/’70’s revival vibe. Mindful of this, and wishing to create a feeling of a light and airy space,  I chose a white paint finish throughout that would tie in with the existing finishes .

The last design decision to be made was with regards to the new flooring. I opted for carpeting rather than hard flooring to provide some isolation between the other flats. I took advice with regards to the quality of the composition and underlay, and learnt that modern day carpets can even be cleaned with bleach! An absolute must for a rental property. The average lead time for the works to be commenced was three to four weeks which meant that the project could be turned around within the month.

Stairs and landing

Freshly painted stairs and newly carpeted landing

Tweaked bathroom

Tweaked bathroom

Looking to the kitchen I decided the most cost effective way to modernise it would be to change the white ceramic drawer pulls and door handles for stainless-steel. Ikea’s ORRNÄS range of brushed stainless-steel knobs and handles provided the solution. The more challenging task of installing a stainless-steel extractor hood would not only drag the room into the twenty-first century, but also deal with the odours and moisture generated whilst cooking.

My one serious aesthetic concern was that the wall-mounted microwave oven was on full display to the lounge. The logic for its position was obvious, in as much as it was to save space on what is a limited amount of worktop area. My solution was to move the microwave to a more discreet location and to make up for the now lost worktop area with three LIMHAMN stainless-steel wall shelves mounted in its place. Here would be an opportunity for the eventual inhabitant to create a “picture” that they would wish to view from their sofa whilst not losing any storage space.

Stainless kitchen as before

New streamlined kitchen with stainless door furniture and cooker hood

Given my background I just couldn’t resist a little stylisation. My one indulgence was the acquisition of three Ikea KRUSNING pendant lamp shades; one for each of the bedrooms, and one for the lounge. I couldn’t resist their cloud like structures which were constructed from seven flat squares of stiffened flexible paper crumbled into shape. They come with a choice of cord set and oversized NITTIO LED bulb light bulb with silver- or copper-colour globe.

Crumbled paper lamp shades

Crumbled paper lamp shades

This was my wow factor…..


New lounge

Newly painted lounge with white window frames and KRUSNING lamp shade

Once the work was complete I played around with some ideas to demonstrate how a style could be created according to the accessories added to this blank canvas.  Using the shelves in the kitchen, now clearly visible from the lounge, I created three different themes and called them 1970’s Revival, Traditional and Modern Country.

I will of course remove my personal effects before the arrival of new tenants but by leaving them on display for the time being I hope I’ve added a touch of homeliness to this little flat that is now looking for a new occupant to love and cherish it as I have over these past few weeks…


'70's revival

’70’s Revival









Modern country

Modern Country


Royal Connections

The news this week has been both happy and sad. Our Monarch’s 90th birthday was a great reason to celebrate, whilst the passing of Prince, the American musician, was a great sadness.

Apart from these events happening within twenty-four hours of one another the casual observer might not see any commonality between these two great personalities. You might also be asking yourself why I would be writing about them on my blog which ostensibly focuses on interior design.

The answer is PURPLE! A colour that is regarded as regal and one that was championed by the diminutive pop star.

M&S flowers

M&S flower display

Towards the end of my interior design studies I was presented with the task of designing  a flower shop for my Preliminary Final Test. The design process I adopted was to explore various ideas and to assemble them into a sketch book. I loved this particular project and gathered many fanciful images and contemporary news items.

Sketch book - Sarah Raven's cutting garden

Sketch book – Sarah Raven’s cutting garden

Sketch book purple inspiration

Sketch book purple inspiration

Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee 2012

Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee 2012

Taking inspiration from over-sized flower arrangements that adorned Dutch cafés; from the wonderful Caledonian flower market in London; and many, many stalls and florists in my locality.

I toyed with many different wall and floor finishes from bare brickwork to distressed plaster to stunning Fired Earth tiles and digital imagery. I scoured Toast catalogues for moody backdrops, Sarah Raven sales literature for her extensive range of classic blooms, and Cox & Cox for carnival-like wedding themes. Terracotta pots, galvanised buckets, over-sized gilt mirrors, chandeliers, and chalkboards all had a place in my scheme.

As my research progressed my thoughts turned to the events that had dominated that year, 2012. In late July I was glued to my TV watching the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, and only a few weeks before the country had turned out in force to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Jubilee (60 years on the throne). The streets were filled with red, white and blue for both events. Prince William & Kate Middleton were also in the news celebrating their first wedding anniversary. It was a great year for parties!

Flower shop mood board

Flower shop mood board

Quoting from my sketch book I had written: To create a look and feel for this project I have started to think more seriously abut the UK and its unique character. I started to think more in terms of colour schemes to reflect our Monarchy – rather than the obvious colours of the national flag I was thinking along the lines of purple or red.

I developed this theme further and wrote: I started to think about English produce and the benefits of only selling locally grown blooms rather than importing from other European countries or further afield. It would no doubt impact on what we had become used to; no more tulips in the shops at Christmas, instead there would be berries and evergreens, wreaths and swags. The benefits of this would be both ecological and economical. It would reduce the carbon footprint and, without the import costs, reduce prices. This would become the unique selling point of the shop.

Flower shop scale model

Flower shop scale model

So, QUEENS the florist was conceived. With a magnificent purple shop-front and gold lettering spelling out the name it would stand out on the High Street and beckon passersby through the door. Floor to ceiling displays of all types of flowers would provide a clear processional route around the store.

Distinct areas catering for children, husbands/boyfriends, and ladies-who-lunch. Pocket money posies at low-level, conveniently positioned pre-wrapped bunches with self-service check-outs for those in a rush, and a manned counter to make bespoke bouquets at the back of the shop for those special occasions. QUEENS would ensure that there was a budget and service to suit all!.


From Shabby To Chic



When I bought my first home I inherited a Mr. Toad wicker chair which I absolutely adored. Many years later I still have a fondness for wicker furniture and have an assortment of pieces. Not that long ago I was asked to renovate a very sad armchair that belonged to my friend’s mum. When I returned it to her she was absolutely delighted with her “new” chair which I had transformed from shabby to chic.

Half way

Half way

For this particular project I used a Farrow & Ball water-based eggshell in Brassica™. Using a paint brush to apply the paint it was quite difficult to cover the original shade of red. Applying two coats eventually did the trick. To finish the transformation I used a lovely linen mix upholstery fabric that I had in stock to cover a two inch thick piece of foam to make a seat cushion.



More recently I wanted to try out a shade of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ so I decided to give my tatty white linen bin a makeover. Again, using a paint brush to apply the paint to the wicker I transformed this little piece of furniture in no time at all.



Inside lid

Inside lid









I used Graphite for the exterior and Barcelona Orange for the inside of the lid. To bring the colours together I added a silk Linum scatter cushion with a pompom trim.

With Linum cushion


With pompoms

With pompoms

A quicker and easier way to renovate wicker furniture and baskets is to use an aerosol spray. Cans of car paint are very effective although the range of colours quite limited. Alternatively, conventional paints can be applied using a spray gun, and although quicker to apply, the necessity to thoroughly clean the equipment after use can be really tedious. For bigger projects this would probably be worth the trade off.

Cox & Cox rattan baskets

Cox & Cox rattan baskets

To achieve a more frivolous look why not cut a stencil and spray a shape onto a piece of furniture. These rattan baskets from Cox & Cox provide ideal storage in a child’s bedroom. For more details go to  http://www.coxandcox.co.uk/home/kids/nordic-star.

Painting By Numbers

Following Annie Sloan’s illustrated instructions from her book, Quick and Easy Paint Transformations, is just like painting by numbers.

My most recent project was this chest of drawers which I rescued from my daughter-in-law. The first thing I had to do was remove the note that read “FOR THE DUMP”!

Destined for the dump

Destined for the dump

Armed with my Annie Sloan tome, two colours of her Chalk Paint™, Paris Grey and Old White, a tin each of Annie Sloan clear wax and dark wax, and a set of Annie Sloan brushes, I embarked on the transformation.

Starting with the drawers I first painted the fronts and pulls with Paris Grey. Once dried, I painted the top and bottom edges with Old White.

Drawer front

The next step was to apply a layer of clear wax to protect the colour. Whilst still sticky I applied a layer of dark wax.

Layer of dark wax

Layer of dark wax

Immediately afterwards I removed some of the dark wax with a cloth leaving a discernible colour difference and some dark wax in the little nooks and crannies in the paintwork and wood.

Dark wax finish

Dark wax finish

Once all four drawers had reached this stage I turned my attention to the cabinet. I repeated the same process but this time, as per the instructions, I removed less of the dark wax.


Painted and waxed cabinet

I was absolutely delighted with the finished article and couldn’t wait to put it in the guest bedroom to set off my new Laura Ashley pillow cases.

Transformation complete

Transformation complete

The book I used for reference covers many different techniques. This particular one was to age and distress a piece of furniture by using wax to change the paint colour.

Hand-Painted Furniture

Painted furniture is by no means a new idea yet it continues to remain in vogue. The advances in paint formulas have virtually removed the need to do any preparation whatsoever, hence the rise in popularity of hand-painted pieces. Effects tend to ebb and flow rather than the concept itself and the current trend seems to be moving away from aged and distressed finishes to that of a more refined contemporary look. (Mid-century pieces are ideal contenders to be brought bang up to date with the use of a strong flat colour. Whether it be chairs, tables or sideboards these can be given a new lease of life with a coat of paint.)

IMG_6333IMG_6319 (2)








The pieces I have been working on of late have been inspired by the strong primary colours used by Joules in their range of bed linen. I chose an Annie Sloan chalk paint to overhaul these two antique-pine bedside tables.









The drawers have been painted inside with a pretty pink F&B eggshell that I had in stock and lined with a floral pattern paper which I copied from a Joules carrier bag. I chose to leave the drawer pulls and feet unpainted as I wanted the cabinets to reference the natural pine furniture that they were to sit alongside.









Both units were given a coat of clear wax to add a soft sheen to an otherwise very flat finish; it will also add a layer of protection to the paintwork. Another benefit of using chalk paint is that you’re not limited to the surfaces that can be covered. I have seen it used successfully on wicker and melamine furniture as well as wood. I gather it can also be used on walls.

Moving forward I have a stock of furniture and accessories that I want to paint. I’m keen to experiment with more unusual finishes such as crackle glaze, image transfer and découpage, as well as some interesting colour combinations! I will use this blog to keep you updated with my progress and to post any interesting ideas that I come across in the meantime.

Visit http://www.anniesloan.com for tips, techniques and tutorials on how to update your  furniture and accessories.

The Playroom

In our house, the playroom is where boy meets girl. An eclectic mix of his world war bombers colliding with her collection of Hergé’s cartoon characters.










Hanging from the beams on fishing line the planes look as though they’re in full flight, battle ready, as Tintin looks down from his safe haven above.










Continuing the aeronautical theme a solid wood airplane propeller replica is mounted on the bulkhead whilst  Captain Haddock and Snowy stand together on the staircase oblivious to the action which surrounds them.


Dominating the playroom is an American pool table which serves to entertain anyone who is  up for a challenge.IMG_5660
On the walls is a collection of abstract art; some original pieces and some limited edition prints. All in eye-catching colours, and forever posing the question “what can you read into me?” I have my own interpretations as I am sure does everyone who spends anytime studying them. IMG_5656

I am particularly fond of the four Jaime Colorao watercolours that were purchased from an exhibition in Mallorca. The rather rude looking images, which echo the colours and shapes of the balls on the pool table, take centre stage in this collection of modern art.


The backdrop for this artistic arrangement is an F&B Estate Emulsion in Manor House Grey on the wall, and interior eggshell on the skirting. The remaining three walls, skirting and woodwork, are finished in F&B Ammonite.IMG_5459

The most striking piece of furniture is a contemporary yellow leather sofa which is strewn with an array of cushions covered in a mix of orange, red and yellow Designer Guild fabrics.

I’m really happy with the mix of masculine and feminine in this particular environment and find it is the perfect place to switch off from the day’s stresses and indulge in pure fantasy.

For more details of finishes go to:





Picture Perfect – Part Two

Hanging artwork is a work of art in itself.

I believe that a picture should make an impression. Whether hung singly, or in a group, it is important that the subject matter enhances its surroundings and doesn’t disappear into them.

I find this quite challenging but still get excited by the prospect of finding a painting, or print, that will work in a particular space or, alternatively, finding a space into which I can hang an existing  piece of art.

Scale, balance, proportion and colouring should all be borne in mind when considering what will work where.

Paramount bedroom

One of my favourite  examples of how these attributes can be applied is Phillipe Stark’s adaptation of Vermeer’s “The Lacemaker” in his rework of the Paramount Hotel in New York in the early nineties. Here the headboard appears to be an oversized version of the original.

Whilst, in New York I bought a large Rothko print from MOMA which has since followed me from house to house. Originally, it was bought to hang on the end wall of a lounge/dining room as a focal point.

EPSON DSC picture

When I moved home the Rothko came too but I found it much more difficult to find a place for it. Recollecting my visit to The Paramount Hotel I decided to hang the print in the spare bedroom just behind the headboard. The colours coordinated perfectly although the scale was perhaps a little on the large side. Regardless, I was extremely pleased with the break with convention.

Rothko print

Case study rendering

Where I’m living now I actually used this print as a case study as once again it didn’t easily adapt to its new surroundings. In the first instance I produced a colour rendering to demonstrate that although placed behind a wooden staircase  sufficient print would be visible for it to work.


Now in situ I am perfectly happy that I’ve found a new home for this much travelled masterpiece. Today, two of my other favourite collectables, Tin Tin characters, Captain Haddock and Snowy, have joined the Rothko as an addition to the games room.

Rorhko, Snowy & Haddock

Perhaps not as sophisticated as Stark’s use of The Lacemaker in The Paramount but a good exercise in the less conventional.

To see the latest reincarnation of The Paramount Hotel New York visit http://www.nycparamount.com/

Pink Accents

I discovered this photograph in a Joules mailing that I had received recently and note that it is also featured on their website. I was particularly struck by the combination of colours, in particular the grey, yellow and pink, as I had recently decided to add some pink accents to my dining room scheme.

The colour scheme, primarily yellow, grey, black and white, seemed a little bleak now that the days are drawing in and I wanted to add a little bit of warmth. I took my inspiration from the pots of geraniums  that seem to have come on in leaps and bounds on the patio as we enjoy a very mild autumn.

Pink dining room pano

This wicker chair snuggles up close to the radiator and is often a place where I can be found in the early morning with a cup of green tea and a favourite magazine.

Wicker chair

To make this corner even cosier I retrieved my favourite pink, red, blue and white check woollen Ikea blanket from winter storage and added this lovely pink felt cushion from Next. The combination of these soft furnishings provides a burst of colour as well as a lovely woven texture.

Joules mugs

It amused me that there is a farmyard theme running through both schemes and I now have my eye on some of these gorgeous Joules mugs and plates to complete the look.

So whether your preference is the romantic look of Comfortable Country or the clean lines of Mid-Century style I think these lovely rich colours can work equally well in either setting.

Visit www.joules.com to see their full range of homeware.

My Lovely Little Pink Box

Blanket box

You my recall that towards the end of the summer I visited the Sunbury Antiques Market where I bought a pot of F&B eggshell with which I planned to paint a blanket box that I have had for sometime. The colour, Nancy’s Blushes No. 278, is described on the F&B website as “our truest pink and can be used in many different ways”. Fortunately, when I opened the pot of paint it was exactly what it said on the tin and in no time at all I had a lovely little pink box!Nancy's pink box The box that I transformed so radically is a small pine blanket box which  had been painted white in a previous life, and the lid varnished. As such, it didn’t require a lot of preparation, and a gentle rub down of the old paintwork with some sandpaper was sufficient. The varnished lid did require a bit more work and having tried a coarser grade of sandpaper I decided the results were not particularly satisfactory. As, is often the case, time was pretty limited so I experimented with a chemical based paint stripping gel as an alternative way of removing the stubborn varnish. This turned out to be a brilliant decision as in no time at all the hard, glossy finish had blistered all over and I could use a small scraper to remove the best part of it. After another coat of stripper, a final scrape, and a rub down with some medium and light grade sandpaper the lid was back to its original finish.

IMG_5254To seal the bare wood I applied two coats of a good quality furniture wax and polished it to a soft sheen. I am really pleased with the end result as I feel the box has a much more contemporary, modern country feel and I am looking forward to putting it back at the end of the bed in the guest room.

See more decorating ideas with Nancy’s Blushes at:


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