May 2016 | The Home Design School

Archive Monthly Archives: May 2016


Emily Bond dog fabric

Our designer digest this week takes a look at Emily Bond, who is a Bristol- based fabric designer, not too far away from us in Somerset. Founded in 2007, Emily’s initial fabrics were inspired by her two dachshunds, Oscar and George, and the dachshund fabric is one of her iconic prints. In fact, if you’re a dog lover (and let’s face it, if you are a country dweller you most probably are) you’ll spot a couple of cuties throughout this post. The dachsund fabric here looks beautiful on this armchair. 

Emily’s fabrics are sold by the metre, and you pick them up directly from their website, or through various other retailers across the UK. The colour palettes are all muted, traditional and heritage: truly English country style.

All of the company’s fabrics are hand screen printed onto linen and they are proud of the fact that they are 100% British. Emily has branched out since launching her dachshund brand; her prints include more diverse items from the countryside such as the farm animals and garden vegetables shown here.


I like the fact that there are some coastal inspired fabrics coming through too, like the crab above. Emily Bond also do a range of non-fabric products too, which carry the same designs as the fabric range, like this tea set below.

I have a couple of metres of dachshund fabric awaiting me to turn into something lovely for my home. A cushion pad or pillow, perhaps. I’ll post a couple of pictures when it’s done.

So, what do you think of Emily Bond? Which are your favourite prints, and where would you use them in your home? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time x



In this Essential Elements series, we are looking at the iconic elements that make up a country look in your home décor. In my last Essential Elements post, we looked at the key items to include in a country kitchen and today we’re turning our attention to the key pieces to include when designing a country-style living room. Once you are clear about the key pieces that are needed to create your look, the rest is fairly easy to achieve. Let’s make a start with the furniture.


First up is the main piece of furniture in your living room: the sofa. Traditional country schemes favour the Chesterfield design. With its low arms and button back, it is a quintessential classic style. The leather look gives a relaxed aged appearance, as in this picture above, or you can create a slightly more formal look by choosing a neat fabric finish, like this below. I love the velvety upholstery on the blue Chesterfield.


To pair with your Chesterfield, try investing in a couple of wing back chairs; it will be a decision you won’t regret. There are so many different styles of wing-back chair that it is easy to find something to suit your tastes. There are modern, clean line interpretations of wing back chairs, or you could go with a classic style, like this one below. Personally I’m not so keen on the animal paraphernalia in the background (hoping that is a faux fox there), but each to their own.


The final piece of iconic furniture for your scheme should be a padded footstool. Whilst upholstered footstools are undoubtedly a comfortable place to rest your feet, they are not so good when it comes to finding room to put your mug down. Make your footstool multi-functional by adding a tray to hold drinks, books and ornaments.


Now that we have the furniture sorted, near the top of my must-have list in a country living room is a fireplace with a roaring log fire. Fireplaces create a great focal point for seating arrangements and there is nothing better than coming back from a cold country walk to warm up by a fire. Again, there are so many choices out there. If you happen to have a beautiful fireplace like the one below, then all well and good, but if not, consider installing a free-standing log burner which gives much the same effect.


Once you have your key pieces of furniture in place, you can then add the cosy touches that make a country living room snug. Real wool or cashmere throws add a feeling of elegance and are soft to the touch. I must admit to having a soft spot for throws by Bronte for Moon. They are fairly pricey but, in my opinion, worth every penny.


Including all of these elements will see you well on the way to creating your dream country home. What elements do you think are important for creating that country feel? What sorts of things would you include?

Until next time x



brighten a dark entrance hall

The entrance hall is the first room that welcomes you home at the end of the day, and it is the first room that your guests come into when they visit. The room needs to make a good impression, and showcase some of your style. But what if your entrance hall is a bit, well, dark and dingy? The secret to brightening up a dark entrance hall is to make the best use of the light that you do have available, and to trick the eye into looking at the good bits, and away from the bad. So if your entrance hall is a bit on the dark side, worry not- we have 10 top tips to help you to brighten up your space. Here’s how to do it:

#1 Keep the walls light


Black and dark colours absorb light, making your room appear even darker, so to lighten your entrance, try painting everything in pure white, or choose other neutral or pale colours. This entrance hall has the walls and floor painted white, which means that light is bounced around the room. Pure white can be quite glaring though, and you don’t want to go from one extreme to the other, so if this is too bright for you, try pale or pastel colours instead. Farrow & Ball have a pale blue colour aptly entitled, “Borrowed Light” which is ideal for dark hallways.

#2 Keep the floor neutral


If you are starting from scratch, install pale-coloured flooring. I adore travertine-style flooring tiles like this above. A stone floor is incredibly stylish and has quality written all over it. Flooring like this doesn’t come cheap, however, and if budget is more of an issue, try pulling up your carpet and painting the floorboards white. If you live in a rented property, or you are unable to change the flooring, opt instead for a neutral coloured hallway runner to distract the eye from a busy floor.

#3: Use bright artwork


If you are stuck with dark walls and unable to re-paint them, install a piece of bright artwork like this above. Because the colours on the canvas are so strong, it prevents the dark walls from appearing too gloomy or oppressive.

#4: De-Clutter


The human brain is drawn to order and symmetry, which is why clutter and mess is so jarring on the eye. Often an entrance hall is at risk of becoming a dumping zone for everybody’s outdoor clothing and shoes, keys and post, which makes people focus on the mess, not the lighter aspects of the room. So be ruthless with your entrance hall, de-clutter and if you have to store shoes, coats and nick-nacks, make sure that there are simple storage solutions for everything on hand.

#5: Use Mirrors


Mirrors are a quick and simple way to brighten a hallway. Because of their reflective surfaces they bounce light around the room and bring light into dark corners. Situate a mirror directly opposite a light source to make the most of its reflective quality. If possible, situate mirrors in several places around your entrance hall so that the light bounces not just from one light source, but between each mirror.

#6: Use Shiny Furniture


For the same reason as using mirrors, installing furniture with light- reflective surfaces in your hallway keeps the room bright and fresh. A simple mirrored console table like this one above doesn’t take up much room, doubles as great storage for keys and small items, and will reflect light around the room beautifully. There is a whole range of mirrored furniture available on the high street at the moment, but if you don’t like the mirrored look, any shiny surface with light reflecting properties, such as gloss or laminate would work well.

#7: Distract the Eye


The eye is drawn to novel items, and so if you are stuck with dark walls, another way round this is to add a gallery wall of art and interesting objects. This leads the eye away from the dark walls, to focus on the pictures. Use pale-coloured and white mount boards and light reflecting picture frames to increase the light.

#8: Install Plenty of Lighting


A really simple way to inject some brightness into your room is by the use of lighting. Don’t just think in terms of one main pendant in the middle of your ceiling. Think about how you can layer your lighting in the room. Consider placing a matching pair of lamps on a console table, put a floor standing lamp in a dark corner, use wall sconces to light up a dingy spot and scatter candles or fairy lights on any available surface. If budgets allow, think about investing in some floor runway lights running the length of the hallway. Make sure that you maximise the light by making use of your mirrors too- a candle placed in front of a mirror will bounce that light across the room.

#9: Borrow Light from Other Rooms


Installing doors with glass panels is another good way to get light into your hallway. Choosing a glass panelled front door will drop some light into the entrance, but swapping all of the internal doors leading from your entrance hall for glass panelled doors will ensure that your entrance hall is flooded with light. As well as doors, you can also install glass panels into the walls to drop borrowed light into your hallway. If privacy is an issue, you can get stained glass, frosted or translucent windows, which allow the light in, but mean you cannot see through the glass.

#10: Install a Sun Tunnel


My final top tip for today is to re-direct light from outside the house by using a sun tunnel or sun tube. These clever pieces of kit take the sunlight from outside your house and divert it along a tunnel into your room by use of mirrors and reflective surfaces. The advantages of this are that it is natural light and once installed, there are no maintenance costs. In a dark entrance hall, this can save you money on your energy bills as you won’t have to be keeping lamps and bulbs on all day.

So there we have it. Ten Top ways to get some light into your dark entrance hall, and to brighten things up. Let me know in the comments below what tricks and tips you use in a dark space. If you’d prefer these tips in a downloadable document, just fill in your details below. For existing members, you can find this in the resource library.

Until next time x

*Main picture source



glass rustic chandelier

In my last Spotlight on Lighting post, we looked at the difference between ambient, task and decorative lighting. Today we’re going to turn that spotlight onto one form of decorative lighting, with a run-down of that old classic: the chandelier.

But hang on a minute, won’t traditional glass chandeliers look out of place in a modern country scheme? Yes indeed, if you choose a traditional cut glass design, it would undoubtedly jar with a modern country look. However there are some less formal options that work really well in a contemporary country scheme, and I’ve brought you some of the best to browse through:

Chandelier #1: The Hunting Lodge

This antler chandelier from Sweetpea and Willow is a dramatic statement piece that would undoubtedly get you noticed. Animal enthusiasts need not worry; no deer were harmed in the making of this piece: the antlers are replica.

Chandelier #2: The Fairy Queen

Another rustic (but less dramatic) take on the chandelier is this wicker hoop from The Orchard. You do need to supply the jam jars yourself though, but you could fill them with little tea lights, or perhaps string some fairy lights through the wicker for a pretty, but hand-made look:

Chandelier #3: The Industrialist

Regular readers of my blog will know that, whilst I love country style, fussy and chintzy country is not my style at all. I’m all in favour of adding a few wild cards into a scheme, like a touch of the industrial for example to contemporise a country scheme. This industrial inspired chandelier from Sweetpea and Willow does exactly that:

Chandelier #4: The King Arthur

But if you really want to push the boat out, this Valhalla Two Tier extravaganza from Alexander and Pearl would wow your guests. In all honesty, I think you’d need a pretty impressive room to get way with this beauty, but at least you couldn’t be accused of sitting on the fence with your tastes! Medieval banquet anyone?

Chandelier #5: Ooh La La

And finally, if you like a bit of a French influence in your country style, how about this shaded chandelier from the French Bedroom Company. It verges a little too much on the shabby chic for my liking, but if you kept all of the other furnishings simple, this could look quite stunning.

So, how about it? Could you work a chandelier into your scheme? Which are your favourite pieces? Do you like the rustic, industrial or the French shabby? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Until next time x


I don’t know about you, but I often look at images in magazines and on websites and wonder how on earth they create such beautiful rooms. As much as we love the pictures, when we come to re-create the look in our own homes, it can often go wrong. Something is missing. Undoubtedly, having an interior stylist on hand does the trick, but what can the rest of us do?

Well, in today’s blog, we’re going to take a look at this beautifully designed living room and unpick each of the elements, to find out how you can also achieve this modern country style in your own home.

This room is by the very talented team at Vanessa Arbuthnott (if you remember, I introduced you to Vanessa a few weeks ago- read the blog post here). The fabrics in this photograph form part of their bohemian collection.

The Furniture & Soft Furnishings

So, let’s start with that gorgeous sofa, which is the centre-piece of this room set. This traditional sofa by Vanessa Arbuthnott is a timeless classic, and it comes in three different sizes. The turned legs give the sofa a touch of elegance and avoids the look becoming shabby chic. The sofa is covered in Gypsey Garland fabric which keeps the style fresh and modern.

The little footstool is an ideal place to rest your feet after a long day. This one comes from Vanessa’s range and can be covered in any of their fabrics; this is Stockholm stripe, which blends in beautifully with the French ticking used on the cupboard doors. The sofa and footstools come with a choice of turned legs and castors or more modern tapered legs. Personally I like the turned legs.

The rug underneath the footstool is also one of Vanessa’s; it’s the Smoke and Cornflower, available in two sizes starting from £238.

The little side table looks like one of those lucky one-off finds that you manage to stumble upon during a hunt around your local reclamation yard or antiques shop. Luckily for us though, this one is, in fact, from Ines Cole, who supply vintage handmade retro furniture. If you wanted something slightly smaller, you could also try a vintage milking stool- Etsy have plenty of these.

The Walls

The walls are painted in a soft white chalky paint. For a similar look, I would suggest one of Farrow & Ball’s newer colours, ‘Cromarty‘, which has very subtle greeny-blue undertones and would go well with this fabric, but you could also try Farrow & Ball’s ‘Clunch‘ if you wanted to stick to a creamy off-white. 

The Lighting

I love the way that the stylist stops the room from being too fussy by adding in some super modern elements, like the wall light sconces. These particular wall lights came from a supplier in Chelsea, but John Lewis do a great range of designer wall lighting too.

The Accessories

It’s often the little touches that bring the room together. There are very few accessories in this room, but they just help to pull everything together. Starting with the side table, the jug with the flowers in and the matching ‘wiggly’ mugs are from Rockett St George. The birch candle votives are from Rowen and Wren Homewares. The footstool is styled with a glossy teapot, also from Rowen and Wren. Add in a couple of hard back books for that ‘just lounging around, flicking through my interior design books’ feel, and you’re done.

So, that’s it in a nutshell. If you fancy copying the look, don’t forget to show us a picture of the end result.


Until next time x


When you think of iconic country bathroom style, the roll-top bath springs to mind as a key piece for the room. Originally the preserve of the super wealthy, roll top baths were introduced by the British elite in the late 18th Century but over the last few years they have seen a resurgence in popularity with the introduction of more modern materials and shapes. A modern roll top bath is the height of style and luxury, acting as an elegant centrepiece in any period or country bathroom.

Photograph by Urbanara- click here to see their range of bathroom accessories.

This bath (above) is a traditional style roll top bath. The taps are situated in the middle and the claw feet prop the tub up from the floor. Both ends of the bath are low, and the smooth surface means that it is a comfortable place to lay your head. The contrast between the dark coating of the exterior surface and the pure white of the inside surface create a clean look.

Eldwick Roll Top Slipper Bath from Frontline Bathrooms

Another style of roll top bath puts the taps at one end, with the opposite end raised above the height of the taps. This is meant to give more support and to cradle you as you bathe. This style was introduced by the Victorians, who named it the ‘slipper bath’ because it apparently looks like a slipper from the side. I’m not so sure!


Excelsior Bath by BC Designs

You can also get double ended slipper baths too like this Excelsior bath (above), where both ends rise to create a cocoon at either end. The double ended slipper tub is designed for- well- sharing, I suppose. The taps are located in the middle in this design, thus avoiding the whole, ‘who’s going to get the tap end’ argument that my children have with each other most bath nights. It’s a beautiful bath but, at £4698, it’s a rather pricey way to solve a squabble, don’t you think?

Knightsbridge by Frontline Bathrooms

Similar to the Excelsior, the Knightsbridge above has a plinth bottom supporting the tub, rather than claw feet. This, in addition to the brushed metal finish and über sleek taps, brings a contemporary edge to the traditional style.

Montague Suite from Cooke & Lewis

Whilst some of these baths are eye-wateringly expensive, there are more affordable options out there too. Cooke & Lewis have several cost-effective roll top baths starting from around £300.

So, if you want to relax and unwind in style, what better way than to sink into a deep roll top bath, filled with warm, soapy bubbles and surrounded by style.

If you have a roll top bath, share with us your photographs and let us know what you think.

Until next time x