HOW TO AVOID SHADOWS IN YOUR LIGHTING SCHEME

HOW TO AVOID SHADOWS IN YOUR LIGHTING SCHEME

Getting the lighting right in your home relies on having a good balance between shadow and light.

Shadow can be a good thing: if you want to create an atmospheric, moody corner, or if perhaps you want to cast a spotlight on a piece of art, then shadow has its uses. But shadows in the wrong place can ruin how a room functions.

So why do shadows happen, and what can we do to avoid having shadows in places we don't want them?

Directional Light Vs Diffused Light

The way that light is emitted by a light source falls into two categories: directional light and diffused light, and each has a different purpose.

Directional lighting is the sort of light where there is a clear beam from a light source, such as a spotlight or a desk lamp for example. Most task lights cast a directional light by necessity. It is useful if you need to see what you are doing, rather than just having lights for mood or ambience. 

However, directional beams of light bounce off of reflective surfaces and can cause glare, and it is directional lighting which is to blame for creating shadows in places that you don't want them.

diffused light (2).png

The second type of lighting then, is diffused lighting, which means a beam of light which has been softened or spread out in some way, usually by using a lamp shade. Lights can also be shaded by using a dimmer switch to decrease the intensity of the light. Diffused lighting produces fewer shadows.

Ambient lighting (such as your main room pendant) is usually non-directional, and falls into the diffused lighting category. 

How to prevent shadows

Wherever possible, use diffused lighting to avoid reflection, glare and shadows. Use light shades and lampshades to soften the lighting from bulbs and install dimmer switches in your living, dining and sleeping spaces. 

Too much overhead lighting means that you get in between the light source and the surface, and so this will always cast a shadow.

Shadows are cast when you (or an object) get between the light source and the reflective surface. Too much overhead lighting can mean that any people in the room block the light source, so one way to avoid shadows is to ensure that you position your lights so that this doesn't happen.

For example, placing a central ceiling light above a dining room table will mean that shadows will be be cast by the people sitting around the table, whereas using low hanging pendant down lighters above the middle of the table will mean that no shadows will be cast on the plates, or on the people eating.

Hanging pendants low above a dining room table means that the light isn't blocked by people, and so no shadows are cast. Use dimmer switches to keep the light soft and ambient. Image via Davey Lighting.

Hanging pendants low above a dining room table means that the light isn't blocked by people, and so no shadows are cast. Use dimmer switches to keep the light soft and ambient. Image via Davey Lighting.

In areas where ambient light is used (such as a living area), this is fairly easy to achieve, but in areas where you need task lighting, it's a little harder. 

Shadows can be a particular problem in the kitchen where you find that, no matter where you stand, you block the light, exactly where you need it. Prevent this by installing under cabinet lighting, directional spots or consider using lamps on the work surface.

In office space, use a directional lamp on the desk- make sure that you position it opposite your writing hand, or aim the light beam directly onto your keyboard, and not onto the screen to reduce glare.

So if you find that you are getting shadows in unwelcome places, check the tips above, and solver your shadow problems. 

If you'd like some extra help with lighting, click to download my 10 top tips for lighting your home. Just click the image.

Until Next Time x

HOW MANY LAMPS AND LIGHTS DO I NEED IN MY ROOM?

HOW MANY LAMPS AND LIGHTS DO I NEED IN MY ROOM?

Getting the lighting right is often an after thought when it comes to lighting our homes, and yet the way that a room is illuminated at night can make a huge difference, both to how the room functions as well as to how it feels.

Light is the magical ingredient that makes or breaks a space
— Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, Designer

There are three main types of lighting for a room, ambient (the main light in the room), task and decorative (also known as accent lighting). You can read more about these three types here

The secret to lighting your room well is to use a mixture of all three types of lighting, at different strengths, and in different ways. Layering the lighting in your room by using a mixture of pendants/ chandeliers, table lamps, floor lamps and under counter lights gives depth and dimension to a room, highlighting key architectural features and setting the mood for the space. Sound complicated? It doesn't have to be! 

Identify your lighting needs

The type and quantity of lighting you will need will depend upon the purpose of the room. Generally speaking, you will need stronger lighting in rooms where you are completing tasks (such as kitchens), and more gentle light in rooms where you are relaxing (a living room for example).

Many of us live in open plan spaces these days, and this means that our lighting needs can change according to how we are using a room throughout the day. A dining room table, for example could be used for completing homework one evening, but for hosting a dinner party the next evening. Both of these activities require different levels of lighting.

This can be planned for, by ensuring that the light bulbs are strong enough for tasks, and then adding dimmer switches so that the light can be softened for entertaining. Side table lamps can also help to spread the light across the room.

How much light?

In last week's blog post, we looked at how you measure the strength of light emitted by a bulb, by using a measure called lumens. Lumens are displayed on the side of the light bulb packaging. The higher the number of lumens, the brighter the bulb will be. But how many lumens do you need?

Now this isn't as straightforward as I'd like, but stay with me here as I explain.

A bulb of say, 1000 lumens might look really bright in a very small room, but in a much larger room, the light is going to appear dimmer because there is not enough brilliance to shine across the whole room. Make sense?

So lumens on their own are not enough to tell us how much light we need because we need to consider the size of the room that the bulb will be in too.

To work out how bright we want the room to be we use a measurement called LUX. LUX takes into account the lumens within an area. 1 LUX is equal to the light given off by 1 lumen over 1 square metre. 

As discussed above, different rooms and different tasks will need different lighting amounts. And so the first thing we need to do is to decide how bright (in lux) we want our room to be. Below is a rough guide to how many lumens you want to achieve in different rooms, or for different tasks.

The Ideal Brightness for Different Tasks in Different Rooms

Relaxation rooms (e.g. TV rooms) 120-150 LUX

For reading: 200 LUX

Kitchen: 150-200 LUX (ambient), 250-400 LUX (task)

Dining Room: 100-200 LUX (ambient)

Domestic Office: 150 LUX (ambient), 400 LUX (task)

Home Workshop or for Detailed Work: (e.g. sewing) 500- 700 LUX

Bedroom: 100 LUX (ambient), 200- 300 LUX (task e.g. reading)

Bathroom: 100-200 (ambient), 300-400 LUX (task)

So once you know how bright you want the room to be, you just multiply the brightness in LUX by the area of your room, and this gives you the bulb strength you need in lumens.

Let's look at an example:

If you have a living room that is 3 metres wide by 4 metres long, you would have a room with an area of 12 square metres.

Because it's a living room, where you'll be relaxing and watching TV, you probably want the room to have a brightness of around 120 LUX.

So to know how many lumens you need, you just multiply the LUX by the area. So in this example, 120 LUX x 12 sq m= 1440 lumens.

So to light this room, you need either one bulb of 1440 lumens, or several bulbs which add up to 1440 lumens. 

If in doubt, buy a brighter bulb than you think you need, and install a dimmer switch. 

Share the Light Out

Once you know how many lumens you need for your space to be lit adequately, you then need to decide how many light fittings (lamps, pendants etc) you want to use. 

How to calculate the lumens in a light bulb

You could, of course, just use one bulb in a central pendant light and be done, but this rarely casts the best light around a room. The secret to good lighting is to layer the lumens you need for the room across different heights. So consider using table lamps, floor standing lamps and wall sconces as well as pendants.

Take the number of lumens and share them out across your different light fittings. 

So if your room requires 1000 lumens, for example, you could use two side lamps, each with a 300 lumens bulb, and a floor lamp with 400. 

If you've found this blog post useful, you might also like to grab my 10 top tips for lighting your home. Just click the image. 

Until next time x

Main Image Source: DarLighting.co.uk

THE 5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW WHEN BUYING LIGHT BULBS FOR YOUR HOME

THE 5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW WHEN BUYING LIGHT BULBS FOR YOUR HOME

If you've been to your local hardware store in search of light bulbs recently, you could be forgiven for being overwhelmed by the choice available. Gone are the days when you could just walk in and buy a 60 watt incandescent bayonet and know that this would be suitable for most purposes. 

In today's post, we are going to turn the spotlight (excuse the pun) onto light bulbs, and make your lighting shopping that little bit easier. Here are the 5 things you need to know, before you head out the door.

1. The Type Of Light Bulb

Light bulbs used to be almost exclusively incandescent. They emitted a yellowy light that was warm and inviting, but they were also horribly inefficient, costly and damaging to the environment. Incandescent bulbs have been phased out in most developed countries in favour of more environmentally friendly options (hooray to that).

The main options available now are Halogen, CFL and LED.

Halogen bulbs are the closest to the old incandescent light bulbs in terms of the quality of light they produce, yet they are also the most energy-inefficient. Although they are cheaper than their more energy efficient cousins (LEDs and CFLs) they don't last as long either, so you'll be replacing them more quickly - making them not such a cheap option after all.

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) consume around a quarter of the energy of incandescent bulbs so they are a much better choice for the environment. The drawback of CFLs is that they often take a while to light up to full strength, although this technology has improved recently. They also contain trace amounts of mercury which means that they need to be disposed of carefully, at an appropriate recycling facility. CFLs cannot be dimmed, so if you have a multi-purpose room where you need to change between task and mood lighting, CFLs won't be the best choice. 

Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are the best choice environmentally, and the technology has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years. They used to be available only in horrid looking energy efficient styles, emitting a harsh white light, but now they are much more versatile than before: you can buy LEDs with clear bulbs showing the filament, as well as buying strips for under kitchen cabinets, to flood feature walls or to hide behind curtain pelmets. LEDs don't emit UV rays, which means they don't contribute towards fading on fabrics. In short, LEDs are the best all-round choice.

2. The Fittings You Need

Some lamps and lights use a bayonet fitting whereas others use a screw fitting. These come in different sizes too, and to further complicate things, some spotlights and tube lights have pin fittings. Although a new light bulb will have the type and size of fitting specified on the box, you need to know what your old bulb was to make sure you get the same type to replace it. Before you head out to the shops, grab the old bulb and take it with you so that you can compare the size and type in the shop.

1. Candle Bulb with Screw Fixing | 2. Small Globe with Screw Fixing | 3. Large White Globe with Screw Fixing | 4. Stick Bulb with Bayonet Fixing | 5. Spiral Bulb with Bayonet Fixing | 6. Spot light with Pin Fixing | 7. Mirrored Spot Light with Screw Fixing | 8. Strip Light with Pin Fixing. 

1. Candle Bulb with Screw Fixing | 2. Small Globe with Screw Fixing | 3. Large White Globe with Screw Fixing | 4. Stick Bulb with Bayonet Fixing | 5. Spiral Bulb with Bayonet Fixing | 6. Spot light with Pin Fixing | 7. Mirrored Spot Light with Screw Fixing | 8. Strip Light with Pin Fixing. 

3. The Shape of the Bulb

If you are buying a spotlight or a strip light, then of course the shape of the bulb is predetermined for you, But if you are buying for a pendant or lamp, the shape of the bulb is largely down to personal preference. Bulbs mostly come in large and small globe shapes, candle shapes, spirals or sticks. If your bulb is going to be on view (inside a pendant for example) then think about the aesthetics of how the bulb will look. Edison filament bulbs for example are attractive, whereas a fluorescent stick light is a bit of an eye sore. Beware of the height of different bulbs too. A globe bulb is often best for table lamps, as a stick lamp would protrude above the top of the lamp shade!

4. The Colour Temperature of the Light

The colour of lightbulbs is on a spectrum, from warm orange-yellow at one end to cool blue-white at the other end. The 'colour temperature' is measured in Kelvins. To give you an idea, a warm, orangey candlelight would be around 1500 Kelvins, whereas braod daylight is around 5000 Kelvins and a cold blue light could be around 6-7000 Kelvins. So the higher the Kelvins, the cooler/ bluer the light. Generally, lower Kelvins are better for living and relaxation areas, and higher Kelvins are better for task orientated spaces such as bathrooms and kitchens.

KELVIN Colour Temperature

5. The Brightness of the Bulb

The final factor to consider is how bright you want the bulb to be. Brightness used to be measured in Watts, but as this was a measurement of energy used, it's no longer appropriate for energy efficient lights. Brightness is now measured in Lumens instead, and most light bulb packaging shows the equivalent lumens in the old measurement of watts. If you buy a dimmable bulb, the packaging will usually tell you the range of lumens you can achieve at its lowest and highest.

The amount of lumens you need in your bulb depends on a number of factors. Firstly, the purpose of the room. For example, you may want a brighter light in a room where you are carrying out tasks such as working or putting on make up, whereas you would want a less bright light in rooms where you were socialising.

The second factor to consider is the size of the room. A larger room will need a greater number of lumens whereas a smaller room will need fewer.

And the third and final factor to consider is how many light sources you have in your room. To give you an example, an average living room will need somewhere between 3-5000 lumens, but this can be made up from a combination of different light sources, such as floor lighting, lamps and pendant. In next week's post, we'll take a look at how to create a lighting scheme, making sure that you have sufficient lighting, spread between different light sources. 

LIGHTBULB BOX

A Quick Summary: Questions to Ask Yourself

1. Type of Light Bulb- Halogen, CFL or LED?

2. Fitting- bayonet, screw or pin? What size?

3. Bulb Shape- globe, candle, spiral, stick?

4. Colour in Kelvins- Yellow, white or blue light?

5. Brightness in Lumens- what is the purpose of the room (task or relaxation)? How many lights are you using combined? How large is your room?

So there we have it, everything you need to know about buying light bulbs for your home! 

If you would like to know more about lighting your room, grab my free guide, 10 top tips for lighting your home. Just click on the image to sign up.

Be sure to tune in for next week's post, all about how many lamps and lights to use, to light your room properly.

Until next time x

HOW TO USE COLOUR WITHOUT BEING "MATCHY MATCHY"

HOW TO USE COLOUR WITHOUT BEING "MATCHY MATCHY"

If you're a member of my private Facebook group (Interior Design Chat) you'll know that each month I ask our community what questions people have about the topic of the month.

One of my members this month asked a really great question, which forms the subject of our blog post today: How do you infuse a room with colour, without it being "matchy matchy"?

Matchy Matchy Mistakes

The mistake that many people make with decorating is buying a "set" of items from one place. This is the cardinal sin of decorating.

A common example is buying bedroom furniture, where you buy a bed, bedside tables, wardrobe and a chest of drawers all in the same style and wood finish. Or you buy the bedding, curtains, throw cushions and light shade from the same range within the same shop. Or in a living room you buy a sofa, a couple of armchairs and a footstool all in the same fabric. You know what I mean, right? Matchy matchy. Bleurgh.

Well, just like with furniture, it's the same with colour. It's important to have a clearly defined colour palette, but overuse of colour makes your home decor look twee, and lacking in imagination. A well designed room contains a range of different items which have something in common, but are not identical.

There is a big difference between co-ordinating and matching. A well designed room contains a range of different items which have something in common, but are not identical.
— Kate Hatherell, The Home Design School

You see, there is a big difference between co-ordinating and matching. And in case you're in any doubt, it's co-ordinating that we're trying to achieve.

Colour Repetition

Colour is a really helpful tool when trying to create a co-ordinated (not matching) scheme because it allows you to unite disparate items through a common colour palette.

In my colour course, I teach my students that to make a colour palette work successfully, you need to repeat it in at least three places in a room.

It is this repetition of colour, materials and finishes in your room which makes colour look intentional. Pops of colour on their own look out of place. 

However, just like with sets of furniture, you can go too far with a colour palette too, and create a colour scheme which looks overly contrived.

So how do you repeat colour, to make it look intentional, without over-repeating it and making it look "matchy matchy"?

Top Tips to Banish Matchy Matchy Colours

1. Choose a Variety of Accent Colours

Rather than just sticking to one colour in your palette, choose up to four colours to be your accent colours. Allow one of the colours to dominate and allow the others to act as supporting cast.  If you have a four- colour palette for example pick one main colour, one supporting colour and use the others sparingly as smaller accents. In the image below, green has been allowed to dominate, and a few blue accents just lift the scheme and stop it being too 'samey'.

Image courtesy of Ideal Home

Image courtesy of Ideal Home

2. Use a Variety of Saturations

In the image above, although green and blue have been repeated throughout the room, different saturations of the colours have been used to add interest. Notice the glass jars for example on the top of the bookcase: a much darker, richer green next to a lighter, paler vase. These vases are different from the feature wall colour, and again different from the lime green in the artwork and the softer green of the upholstery. The greens co-ordinate; they don't match.

3. Keep Your Backdrop Neutral

When I say neutral, I don't necessarily mean white, but when you are considering the large spaces in your room, a neutral canvas acts as a back drop for the stronger colours in the room. In the image above, the neutral walls allow the green to shine; in the image below, the neutral walls allow the accent colours to 'pop'.

4. Don't Overdo The Colour

In the room below, there is a clearly defined colour palette of blue, pink and green. Yet this room isn't shrouded in colour; it is successful because the colour hasn't been 'overdone'. The teal drawer units are only repeated in the box shelves and an ornament; the pink is only used in a few accessories and cushions and the mint green is on the artwork and just a couple of accessories. Because the flooring and walls have been kept intentionally neutral, the pops of accent colour bring the room to life, without swamping it with 'in-your-face' colour.

Image Courtesy of IKEA

Image Courtesy of IKEA

5. Use a Variety of Shapes, Textures and Materials

The final tip to stop colour being matchy matchy is not about colour at all! It is in fact about making sure that you have a variety of shapes, textures and materials within your room. If you want to have two armchairs in your room, choosing two different styles and fabrics stops them from being matchy, but using the same colour unites them within the scheme. Similarly, using your accent colours on different textures, such as silk and linen, wool and painted wood keeps the look dynamic and curated.

Make sure you check out our whole colour section on the website, or grab the free tutorial on choosing paint colours below:

Until next time x

5 WAYS TO STOP A MONOCHROME ROOM LOOK BORING

5 WAYS TO STOP A MONOCHROME ROOM LOOK BORING

Whilst many of us love having colour in our homes, there are plenty of us who prefer to decorate our homes in neutrals, or who prefer to stick to a simple palette, using one colour only, or even no colours.

But how do we keep these pared down or monochrome palettes from looking boring?

Here are 5 top ways of stopping your low-or-no colour rooms from looking plain and uninteresting.

1. Use tints, tones and shades of the same colour

If you have chosen one key colour for your room, play around with using lighter and darker shades of the same colours. This will bring depth and dimension to the scheme, and will enable you to bring in accents of colour through a bright pop of your neutral palette.

2. Mix in neutrals and white to break up the colour

Whilst we may talk about a monochrome (meaning one colour) scheme, of course it's not really practical to decorate in just one colour. I doubt you've ever really been into a room which has pink ceilings, walls, floors, trim, furniture and furnishings in just one room. That would be a headache! Once you have settled on your main room colour, add in neutrals and white to break up the monochrome colour and to add some relief to the space.

3. Natural wood

Natural wood is a great way of introducing another 'colour' into a one-colour scheme. Depending on the species, quality and finish of the wood, it can bring in pops of brown, yellow, orange or red. An earthy brown wood is a great way to warm up a grey scheme, without introducing a noticeable shot of colour.

4. Use metallics

Don't forget metallics in your scheme. Silvery metals like stainless steel, chrome or pewter sit on the cool side of the colour wheel and can provide contrast with a warmer scheme. Warm metals like gold, copper and brass can and warmth to grey or cool blue schemes.  

5. Vary the Textures

As well as varying the tints, tones and shades of a colour, including lots of different textures will add warmth and interest to a room. Pair felt, feather or fur cushions against silk; layer knitted fabrics against plain linen. 

Until next time x

MAIN IMAGE SOURCE: IKEA

HOW COLOUR AFFECTS MOOD

HOW COLOUR AFFECTS MOOD

Before we dive into this week's post, I want to make it very clear that I don't do 'woo woo'. I don't believe in fairies, unicorns or wishing on shooting stars. Sorry (not sorry). 

But something I do believe in, is that colour can have a very real effect on our mood. And that has been backed up by numerous scientific studies.

Big businesses know all about colour psychology.

Have you ever noticed how many company and organisation logos are blue? Just google it and see. Dell, Samsung, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Philips, Nasa, BMW, Ford... truly, the list is almost endless.

The messages of colour

Blue is the colour of trustworthiness, calmness and stability. And of course, these are the messages that these organisations want to send out about their brands. 

McDonalds, on the other hand, choose vibrant yellow and red for their restaurants because they are colours which energise. As a fast food chain, they want people to eat up fast and move on, and their colour scheme reinforces the behaviours they want from their customers.

Big businesses know that the environment we are surrounded by affects our behaviour, and that colour has a very real impact upon how we feel and behave.

And so, of course, the colours that we choose when decorating our homes are really important to the feeling that we evoke in our living spaces.

So what colour should we paint our homes?

As always with this question, the answer is 'it depends'. It depends what the function of the room is and what mood you want to create in that room.

Firstly, start with the mood that you want to create with your room, and then take it from there.

Do you want your room to be a bright, vibrant and stimulating environment, or do you want it to be calm and relaxing? Different colours, used in different ways can give you these different atmospheres.

Let's turn to the trusty colour wheel for some help.

warm cool wheel.png

The twelve tertiary colours of the colour wheel are split into two main sides. The reds, oranges and yellow form the 'warm' side of the wheel, while the blue and green side of the wheel form the 'cool' colours.

Generally speaking, using warm colours gives you a vibrant feeling to your room and using cool colours gives a calming effect in your room.

But the story doesn't end there. You see, it's also about which individual colours you use too.

When decorating your home, you need to firstly consider the feeling you want to create in your room, and then think about how you can choose your colours to create that feeling.

Take a look at the associations of each colour below:

Blue

The colour of trustworthiness, calmness and orderliness. Best used for spaces where you want peace and relaxation, such as bedrooms or a spa-like bathroom.

Green

The colour of nature, deep greens can promote a feeling of calm and relaxation, but if too much yellow is added (such as lime green) the colour can have the opposite effect and be quite a vibrant pop.

Yellow

A bright, cheerful colour. Good for breakfast rooms and entertaining spaces as it is high-energy. You can't be sad in a yellow room!

Red

The colour of vibrancy. Great for a party room, and it is said to stimulate the appetite, so it works well in a dining room. Although it's said to be the colour of romance, avoid using red in the bedroom, otherwise you may struggle to get any sleep!

Orange

Energetic and fun, it is best used in play spaces (like a children's playroom) or creative workspaces. 

Purple

Purple can be opulent and luxurious. It evokes feelings of warmth and being cocooned, and as such it is a popular choice for bedrooms. 

To find out more about how to choose colours in your home, watch the paint colour tutorial below.

How does colour affect your mood?

Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

WHICH PAINT COLOUR SHOULD I CHOOSE FOR MY ROOM?

WHICH PAINT COLOUR SHOULD I CHOOSE FOR MY ROOM?

In my role as a Home Design teacher, this has to be the question that I am asked the most, and it's also the question that I see posted most often in various groups that I belong to.

But it's also one of the hardest questions to answer!

Why?

Because the truthful answer is... it depends.

The right paint colour depends upon the mood that you want to create in your home, and the style you like. It depends on the direction that your room faces and the quality of light entering the room.

It depends at what time of day you want to use the room, and what tasks you will be carrying out in the room.

It depends on what existing furniture you have in your room, and the colour of the wood and trim in your room.

One of the worst mistakes I see is people recommending paint colours to other people, without any consideration of how it will look in their home.

Yes, Farrow & Ball Manor House Gray might look fab in that person's room, with their furniture and facing that direction. But in your room? That lovely deep grey you saw in your friend's home, or on Pinterest may be oppressive in your living room! Or the blue undertones that you hadn't spotted might just shine through in your room and make your north-facing room appear cold.

You can't just 'port' someone else's room and colour choices into your home, no matter how much you love them.

It just doesn't work like that!

It is for this reason that I never recommend my 'Go-To' paint colours. Because what might look amazing in one space could look quite different somewhere else. 

So what is one to do?

Actually, once you know a few key rules to do with paint, choosing the right paint colour for your room becomes quite simple. 

A little while ago, I ran an online class on this exact topic. In 30 minutes we explored everything to do with choosing paint colours, from what are undertones and why do they matter, to the direction that your room faces and how to deal with it, and how to test paint like the professionals.

Now, I'm not running that live class at the moment, but if you'd like to access the free recording, and find out everything you need to know about choosing paint colours the right way, just click the image below.

Until next time x

Main image source: Farrow and Ball

TOP 10 PLACES TO BUY DECOR ONLINE TO STYLE YOUR HOME

TOP 10 PLACES TO BUY HOME STYLING DECOR ONLINE

When it comes to styling your home, trekking around shops to find your ideal décor can become a bit of a headache. Shopping for home décor isn't like shopping for clothes. Clothes shops tend to be clustered in one area in town centres or in out-of-town malls, and you can spend a day shopping for clothes and seeing a wide variety of styles without having to travel very far. 

But there is rarely a central hub of home décor shops, and even most homeware departments in the larger stores do not carry the full range of their home décor stock, because more space is given over to clothing.

Add in the fact that so many of us are time- poor these days, often juggling the demands of children, work and just life in general, can mean that shopping for home décor is really difficult.

Thankfully, the internet (as always) comes to the rescue, and today I've selected my top 10 online shops where you can find a really great array of home décor, accessories and ornaments to style your home, without leaving the comfort of your living room.

1. Wayfair.co.uk

When you think Wayfair, think 'warehouse', because their range of home décor accessories is huge. They have a staggering amount of options and so they are well worth checking out. The search function on the website is easy to navigate, and their customer help team is pretty good too. Prices can vary quite widely though, and it's not the best place to bag a bargain.

Wayfair have a wide selection of home decor accessories.

Wayfair have a wide selection of home decor accessories.

2. Dunelm.com

Dunelm are a well-known high street home décor shop, but they also have an online offering of accessories, which isn't available in their physical stores. Their range is not as extensive as Wayfair, but they have many everyday items which will look good in most homes, and they are usually reasonably well priced.

3. Houzz.co.uk

If you haven't yet discovered shopping at Houzz, then you need to get yourself over to their website. Houzz is one of the biggest sources of inspiration for decorating your home, but recently they have added shopping functionality to their website too.

Houzz acts a marketplace for different retailers, and so you can find a wide variety of items. What I love about Houzz is that you can search by style, too. So if you're a lover of all things Industrial, or Coastal, or Traditional for example, you can find everything you need to fit in with that style just with one click of the filter option.

Houzz online home decor accessories

4. NotOnTheHighStreet.com

Another marketplace for individual suppliers, NotOnTheHighStreet is the place to go if you are looking for something a little bit different, or a little bit quirky. Although marketed as a gift company, they stock over 15,000 home decor accessories, so you should be able to find a thing or two you like!

5. Etsy.co.uk

Like the previous two online retailers, Etsy is also a marketplace for individual suppliers. As well as selling a range of hand crafted items, Etsy sells a lot of vintage and reclaimed goods too, so if you're looking for a battered old milk churn or some dusty apothecary jars, for example, Etsy is the place to go.

6. Amara.com

The name 'Amara' is synonymous with 'luxury', and their accessories are no exception. They have a wide variety of ornaments in a range of finishes, from metallics to glassware and ceramics. Their prices are not for the faint hearted, though, and certainly not for those who are working to a tight budget, but if you have a little more cash to splash, then go take a look.

Amara home decor accessories

7. Matalan.co.uk

Right at the other end of the pricing scale, Matalan sells a surprising range of homewares online. From metallic letter lights to tealight holders, vases, glass domes and faux flowers, if you are on more of a budget then Matalan is worth checking out.

8. HomescapesOnline.com

Homescapes traditionally sold only to trade customers, and you would find their homewares mainly in department stores. However they now sell direct to the likes of you and me, through their website. They stock a range of nice looking ornaments, bookends, vases, bowls and more.

9. AlexanderAndPearl.co.uk

Alexander and Pearl have a unique range of home decor accessories, from animal heads to umbrella stands. Alongside some regular options, you can also pick up the odd quirky piece too, if you like something a little different.

alexander and pearl home decor and accessories

10. Melody Maison

Melody Maison is the place to go if you are looking for romantic French inspired, or shabby chic decor. Accessories include everyday items like vintage distressed candlesticks, to the more quirky cherubs and parrots!

How to style your accessories

Of course, having the accessories is just one part of the jigsaw. The next step is knowing how to display them well to create a stunning looking scheme. 

If this is something you struggle with, or you'd just like a little help, come and join us for our #shelfie styling challenge, where I teach you 5 ways to style your home decor. Simply click below to join:

Until next time x

7 COMMON STYLING MISTAKES AND HOW TO AVOID THEM

7 COMMON STYLING MISTAKES AND HOW TO AVOID THEM

Have you ever looked at those homes in the magazines, where everything is just so effortlessly stylish, where there is a place for everything, and everything looks... well, just so darned good?

The reason that they catch your eye is that good styling has a massive impact on how a space looks.  Good styling makes a space feel simultaneously relaxed yet interesting. Good styling elevates a home from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Good styling makes a space feel simultaneously relaxed, yet interesting.
— Kate Hatherell, The Home Design School

But how do those rooms come together?

You see, those rooms you see in magazines aren’t just a happy coincidence of good taste. They are the result of careful planning, careful shopping and a well-executed plan. A professional stylist will have overseen the process, and been in to play around with the home owner’s accessories and ornaments, to make it look magazine-worthy before it is photographed.

Now, there are some of us who can just throw a few ornaments together and it all looks effortlessly stylish, and that’s fab! But for most of us, achieving these ‘effortless’ looks takes... well... effort... (ahem).

What to do if you don't have an in-house stylist (!)

So if you don’t have a professional stylist on hand (anyone?), and you are lacking in natural styling talent, what is one to do?

Well, the first thing to do is to learn a few styling tips. Styling can be a little overwhelming. There's so much more to it than just throwing a few vases together (as you've discovered already).

And so we start to learn a few styling tricks in a very small way. 

Like shelf-sized small. 

So before we dive into the 'What Not To Dos', I want to share with you the opportunity to join my completely FREE, utterly awesome 5 day shelf styling challenge, which is going to show you how not to make the mistakes I'm about to tell you about! 

You don’t need to spend any money, you can just use items in your own home, and you don’t need to be a styling Goddess in order to make your shelf look awesome.

It's going to be a lot of fun! And the best thing is, it starts on Monday (25th September!)

Just click the image below to find out more.

So, (did you join us?) let's dive into the mistakes that people make when styling tricky places like, hmm bookcases. Here goes...

Mistake #1: Having too many books

Yes, I know that bookcases are built in order to house books. However, if your bookcase is part of a living room scheme for example (as opposed to an office or library) then putting too many books on your bookcase will just look cluttered and disorganised. Less really is more when it comes to creating good-looking displays.

Edit your books down and make space for ornaments, art and accessories.

Mistake #2: Not having enough books!

Conversely, not having enough books on your bookshelf can be a problem too! A book case needs to have a balance of vertical and horizontal lines as well as ornaments, and books are a key way of adding those straight lines to your display. Books help the eye to make sense of the other (more interesting shapes) displayed. Consider them a backdrop to show off your more fancy stuff.

Mistake #3: Having an Inconsistent Colour Palette

A bookcase within a room becomes part of the colour scheme. So although you may have books and ornaments of every colour, you need to consider how your accessories fit into the wider colour scheme of your room.

To get a cohesive look across your bookcase, edit your items to create a consistent colour palette.

Bookcase

Mistake #4: Using too many small things

When it comes to filling up a bookcase, there is a temptation to cram it full of small ornaments and trinkets. However, if you have too many small things on a shelf you will create a fussy and cluttered look.

A good variety of smaller and larger items, in a variety of shapes and finishes will make your bookcase look balanced, and ordered. 

Mistake #5: Not Grouping Items in Vignettes

Vignettes is a fancy styling term, which really just means ‘objects placed together in a group’. Placing items as part of a vignette creates visual balance in a décor scheme.

You can’t just place objects randomly around your bookshelf. There is a real skill to creating good looking vignettes, and you can learn helpful design tips (such as proximity and alignment) that can help you to get it right. (Yep, we cover all this in the free #shelfie styling challenge too).

Mistake #6: Visual Weight is wrong

Visual Weight is another one of those terms which is banded about by designers, and doesn’t make much sense to the layperson. At its most basic, visual weight is about how much impact a piece has, or how weighty it looks.

So a big black box will look weightier than a delicate lace covered vase, for example. The black box has greater visual weight. There are several things that add to an item’s visual weight, such as colour, shape, scale and texture. Knowing how to place your objects so that the visual weight is right will make your styled space look balanced.  

Mistake #7: Not enough white space

Having too many things on your shelves (whether small or not) will make your space look cluttered. When styling, don't forget that you need to leave blank visual space, between your accessories. Allow the ornament to be the star of the shelf. As Coco Chanel allegedly once said “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory”. And much the same advice works well for your styling too. Sometimes simplicity is key.

So who knew that styling a surface in your home has so many different elements to it?!

But really, once you know a few styling rules and apply them in your styling, it all becomes clearer and easier to follow.

In next week’s free styling challenge, we’re going to learn 5 different styling rules (one each day) and apply them to a shelf in our home, and you can take those rules and apply them virtually anywhere else in your home.  It’s a low-risk, easy way to make a small part of your home look as though you've had a professional designer in.

Just click below to read all about it, and to sign up.

I can't wait to see you there :)

Until next time x

TOP TIPS FOR USING A POCKET COLOUR WHEEL

TOP TIPS FOR USING A POCKET COLOUR WHEEL

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you some basic ways to use a colour wheel to get you started with combining colours. I hope you downloaded the colour wheels and have had the chance to practise, but if not, you can download them again here:

So this week, we're going to take a look at a professional colour wheel, which really is a nifty little tool for helping you to throw together colour combinations without having to worry about all that theory. Essentially, you twist the wheel, look at the instructions and the work is done for you!

But of course, you need to know what you are looking at....

Introducing The Pocket Colour Wheel

A pocket colour wheel has the 12 primary, secondary and tertiary colours around the outside of the wheel, and a rotating disc in the middle.

The front of the wheel gives an explanation of key terms used in colour, such as tertiary colours, advancing and receding colours, hue, value and intensity. It also gives a handy reminder of what tints (colour + white), tones (colour + grey) and shades (colour + black) are.

This colour wheel is from The Color Wheel Company, and is available on Amazon.

This colour wheel is from The Color Wheel Company, and is available on Amazon.

When you rotate the inner wheel to point to one of the colours around the outside, the cut-out windows on the inner wheel show you what happens to the main colour, when you mix it with others.

So in the images below, you can see what happens to blue when you add red (image 1), when you add yellow (image 2), and when you add blue (image 3).

The wheel also shows you what happens when you add white or black to a colour (known as tints and shades).

On the edge of the inner disc, there are grey scales, showing how the colour varies from 100% pure black to 100% pure white, through various shades of grey in 10% increments. This helps you when you are out and about to compare different intensities of colour.

The Reverse Side: Combining Colours

But it's when you flip the colour wheel over that the fun begins, because this is where you begin to create colour combinations, and learn about colour relationships. 

The back of a pocket colour wheel.

The back of a pocket colour wheel.

Tints, Tones and Shades

Tint Tone Shade

Each of the 12 main colours from the front get split into tints, tones and shades on the back.

This is really helpful, because it is very rare that we use colours in their full intensity and saturation.

If we are creating a complementary colour scheme, for example, we are much more likely to choose a tint or tone of green (perhaps something like a soft sage green) to go with a tint or tone of red (perhaps cranberry), than we are to pair a fully saturated green with a primary red. Unless you're an elf, of course...

Colour Combinations

Now, the really clever bit of the wheel happens in the middle. You start by pointing the 'pure colour' arrow to one of the colours you want to use in the room (see in the image above, the pure colour arrow is pointed to blue?). Then, you look at the diagram in the middle of the wheel, and simply follow the arrows for your chosen scheme. 

If you are looking for the colour's complement, you just follow the arrow across the wheel to the other side. 

If you are looking for a three-colour scheme, follow the arrows along the edges of the triad or split complementary shapes.

And if you want a four-colour scheme, you need to twist the wheel slightly so that one corner of the tetrad box lines up with blue, and then simply follow the edges of the tetrad shapes.  

Colour wheel methods of combining colours
Back of colour wheel

So, with the pure colour arrow pointing to blue, you get the following colour combinations:

Complementary Colour Scheme: Blue with orange.

Split-Complementary Scheme: Blue with Yellow-Orange and Red-Orange

Triad Scheme: Blue with Yellow and Red

Tetrad Scheme: Blue with Orange, Violet and Yellow.

And it's that simple!

If you'd like to see how each of these colour schemes plays out in real rooms, why not head on over to my Pinterest boards to see examples of real colour schemes which use these combinations. Click the buttons below to see examples of each colour scheme.

And don't forget, if you want your own colour wheels to print and take out in your handbag, grab my free colour wheel cheatsheet below:

Until next time x

12 WAYS TO DISPLAY PLANTS IN YOUR HOME

12 WAYS TO DISPLAY PLANTS IN YOUR HOME

Plants are great for the home. Not only are they great for air quality, but they bring in a natural element too, which can soften a design scheme, and introduces a pop of colour. 

When it comes to bringing house plants into our homes, we can often get stuck in a rut with the same-old terracotta pots or plain ceramic containers from the garden centre. In today's post, we break out of those boring old options, and share with you 12 alternative ways that you can display plants in your home. 

Table top

Table top planters are a great way to display plants and flowers. Of course, you don't have to restrict yourself to a table, you can use windowsills, sideboards, shelves or any flat surface. 

1. Repurpose everyday objects

Catch Me If You Can mug by Sophie Allport

Catch Me If You Can mug by Sophie Allport

Think a little bit 'outside of the box' and repurpose other containers to house your plants. Unused mugs, teapots, watering cans and wellington boots are everyday options. Be sure to create drainage at the bottom, either by using a smaller pot inside the container, drilling holes into the base, or by adding rubble at the bottom.

2. A Quirky Pot

Don't just stick to boring, run of the mill vases and pots. Look for something a little quirky, like this unusual planter of the Greek Godess Hygeia. 

I love the way this plant looks as though it is just sprouting out of her head, like nature's best coiffure!

Blush Hygeia vase from MiaFleur

Blush Hygeia vase from MiaFleur

3. Amaze your friends!

Lyfe Levitating Planter, Noxu Home

Lyfe Levitating Planter, Noxu Home

If you want something a bit out of the ordinary, try this levitating (yes, you did read that right) plant pot.

The electromagnetic field in the base floats the pot, which has a magnet embedded in its base. How funky is that?!

It creates a hypnotic effect as it rotates in the air! Stunning!

This pot is planted up with an air plant, which requires no soil, and lives happily with little human intervention. Perfect for the less green-fingered amongst us (ahem, that would be me). 

4. A Brass Terrarium

Terrariums have been really popular items in home decor for quite a while now. Add a handful of gravel at the bottom and a couple of succulents or cacti, and you're good to go. And if you tire of the display, they make beautiful candle holders too. 

5. Glass Jars

Similar to the glass terrarium, a simple glass jar displays smaller plants like succulents and cacti, but without the framed surround. This glass jar comes ready-planted with artificial succulents. Talk about maintenance free plant care!

Brass Terrarium via Decorator's Notebook

Brass Terrarium via Decorator's Notebook

Artificial Succulent Jar, The Contemporary Home

Artificial Succulent Jar, The Contemporary Home

Floor Standing Planters

If you have a larger plant, or want something more impactful in your space, floor-standing planters can be a great option. Because of their size, they become more than just mere accessories, but objects of display in their own right.

6. Short Leg Brass Planters

Brass Planter with stand from MiaFleur

Brass Planter with stand from MiaFleur

7. Stilted Zinc Planters

Zinc effect planters by MiaFleur

Zinc effect planters by MiaFleur

8. Long Leg Planters

Floor Standing Planters by Black by Design

Floor Standing Planters by Black by Design

9. Bag Planters

Orla Kiely Flower Print Bags from Wild & Wolf

Orla Kiely Flower Print Bags from Wild & Wolf

Floor based planters don't have to have stands, of course, as these bag planters by Orla Kiely show. Although these are displayed outside, they would add a great touch of colour to a 70s inspired living room, placed as a display in an empty corner of the room.

10. Display Stand

OK, so I'm cheating a little bit here. Not strictly a floor planter, but a shelving unit can add real impact to a green display, making your plants the focal point of the space. Match the smaller plant pots to the colour of the frame for a cohesive, and well thought out display. 

Milano Shelving Unit by MiaFleur

Milano Shelving Unit by MiaFleur

Hanging Planters

If floor space is at a premium, consider suspending a planter from the ceiling, or a pole. Just be careful when watering, as you don't want the water to drip all over the furniture beneath!

11. Ceramic Plant Pots

Ceramic, hanging plant pots allow you to bring in a colour to match your scheme.

Orla Kiely Hanging Planters via Wild & Wolf

Orla Kiely Hanging Planters via Wild & Wolf

12. Suspended Terrariums

Hanging glass terrariums give a rustic, almost industrial look to a space.

Aculo Hanging Planter from Noxu Home

Aculo Hanging Planter from Noxu Home

If you are green fingered and like to bring houseplants into your home, which planters do you like best? Come and tell us in the Facebook group.  

Until next time x

HOW TO USE A COLOUR WHEEL TO CREATE A COLOUR PALETTE

HOW TO USE A COLOUR WHEEL TO CREATE A COLOUR PALETTE FOR YOUR HOME

Colour causes people so many headaches. What if I get it wrong? What if the colours clash? What if something looks "off".

Colour can be a tricky beast indeed, but it doesn't have to cause so much trouble. Today we're going to go back to basics and look at how colour wheels can help you to create a colour palette. 

Grab yourself my free colour wheel download below to help you follow along. 

1. Primary Colours

PRIMARY COLOURS COLOUR WHEEL

You'll remember from your art classes at infant school that there are three primary colours: red. yellow and blue. The unique thing about primary colours is that they cannot be formed by mixing other colours together, yet all of the colours in the world can be created by mixing just these three colours together. How awesome is that?

Primary colours are often used in spaces frequented by children- think schools, nurseries and playbarns, but they are rarely used together at full strength in interior design otherwise. 

2. Secondary Colours

The secondary colours are formed by mixing two primary colours together. Let's remember how we mix them: blue and red make purple, blue and yellow make green, while yellow and red make orange. The secondary colours therefore are purple, green and orange.

3. Tertiary Colours

Tertiary Colour Wheel.png

Tertiary colours make up all of the colours that we can see. They are made by mixing a primary and a secondary colour together. The official names for these colours are red-orange, orange-yellow, yellow-green, green-blue, blue-violet and red-violet, but we are more familiar with them as having names like 'teal' and 'mauve'. 

This colour wheel is the one that interiors' folk use when they talk about colour. So when they say things like 'opposite each other on the colour wheel', this is the one they mean.

What about black and white?

Officially, black and white aren't colours because they are either pure light, or the absence of light. However, black and white is added to the tertiary colours to make them lighter, darker, 'murkier' or 'milkier'. Think pastels and muted colours. 

How to use the colour wheel to create colour palettes

So, let's get onto the good stuff then. Once we have our colour wheels in our hands, what next? (You do have one in your hand, right? If not, grab the download below).

The first thing to consider when creating a colour palette is whether you want a vibrant, busy colour scheme, or a calm and relaxing scheme, because you will use colour differently in each situation.

Creating a Harmonious Colour Scheme

Analogous colour wheel

If you are looking to create a colour scheme which is relaxed and laid back, you'll want to choose colours that sit next to each other on the colour wheel. These are known as harmonious, or analagous colours. 

Examples include blue-green with blue, or yellow with yellow-orange. 

You can use two or three analogous colours in an harmonious scheme, as in this image below where they have used jade, teal and soft faded blue. The overall effect is sophisticated and calm, yet still colourful. 

Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

Creating a Vibrant Colour Scheme

Complementary colour scheme

If you want to create a more vibrant scheme, you start with one base colour, and add in another accent colour which sits opposite to it on the colour wheel - in this example, green and red. 

Examples of complementary colour schemes are burnt orange with teal, or bright orange with navy blue, moss green with cranberry, mint green with baby pink, vibrant purple with shock yellow, lilac and pastel yellow. The stronger and more saturated a colour, the more vibrant the scheme becomes. 

Image via Decoist

Image via Decoist

There are many ways that you can combine colours to create a pleasing palette in your home. 

Of course, choosing your colour scheme is only the beginning of the journey. People often come into trouble again when it comes to choosing paint colours for their home. If you have chosen a pale blue and orange scheme (for example) and you come to buy your paint, you're then faced with a multitude of paints to choose from. 

Lucky for you, I've put together this free 30 minute training video, which covers every aspect of choosing paints for your home. Check it out- it's free!

Until next time x

THE TOP 10 INTERIOR DESIGN INFLUENCERS I FOLLOW

THE TOP 10 INTERIOR DESIGN INFLUENCERS I FOLLOW

There are so many talented individuals within the interior design industry. Sometimes it can be a bit of a quagmire, trying to wade through and know who to follow. I enjoy following a variety of influencers; some are people who have a similar style and taste to my own, as well as others that have a completely different design style to my own, which gives me fresh perspectives.

Here are my top 10 of interior design influencers I love to follow.

1. Sarah Akwisombe [Website here]

I first discovered Sarah when I was researching how to set up a blog; Sarah runs an awesome introductory course for wannabe bloggers called Blueprint to Blogging, which is how I came to set up my blog. That aside, Sarah is an interior stylist and blogger based in London. She describes her style as being bold and rebellious, "kinda like Betty Draper wearing Nike Air Max"! Sarah's style is so deliciously different to mine, and I love following influencers outside of my own style. If you want something a little quirky, very individual and über cool, she's one to check out.

2. Melanie Lissack [Website here]

melanie lissack interiors

Melanie Lissack is an award winning blogger, based in London. Melanie set up her blog to help people like herself, who see gorgeous interiors in magazines, but don't necessarily have the budget to recreate the look. She teaches people how to source, copy or recreate those looks, on a budget. There are loads of DIY tutorials and inspirational images, as well as product reviews too.

3. Sophie Robinson [Website here]

Most famous for her stint as one of the presenters on the BBC's The Great Interior Design Challenge, Sophie is a London based stylist too. One of Sophie's strengths is her awesome knowledge and boldness with colour. She is not afraid to experiment and mix cohesive and clashing colours together. I attended one of Sophie's in-person design workshops last year, and I can confirm that she is as nice in person, as she is on the telly. Awww...

4. Kate Watson-Smyth [Website here]

Kate is an interiors journalist and writer, who pens the blog, Mad About the House. She also runs a design consultancy called Mad About Your House. Kate's style is quirky and eclectic, yet her backdrop colour palette is almost uniquely monotone. If you like the current trend for grey (and if you know me, you know I do!), her fab book 'Shades of Grey' is a must-read. 

5. Kristie Barnett [Website here]

Better known as 'The Decorologist', Kristie is a US design and colour expert, and home staging teacher. She creates sophisticated, and beautifully styled homes. I love the way that her blog teaches you different home decor lessons, often through projects she is completing herself. 

6. Maria Killam [Website here]

Maria Killam Colour Consultant

There is nothing that Maria Killam doesn't know about colour. She really is the Queen of Colour! Maria provides colour consultancy services across North America, and she also runs colour workshops, teaching others her systems. 

7. Stacey Sheppard [Website here]

Better known as, 'The Design Sheppard' Stacey's blog is a great read because of the variety of information that she shares.  From product reviews and designer interviews to makeovers to sneak peeks inside her own home decorating plans. 

8. Kate McPhee [Website here]

Kate McPhee is an interior stylist who creates the beautiful Good Homes Magazine room sets that you see each year at The Ideal Home Show. What I love about Kate's work is that her creations are real, liveable designs. You feel as though you could really live in the spaces that she creates, rather than them just being "swoon worthy" spaces (which they are too of course!)

9. Emily Henderson [Website here]

Most famous for her New York Times Bestselling book, "Styled", Emily Henderson runs an LA based interior design company. Her blog is a mix of how to's and inspiration, and she gives away golden nuggets of style advice.

10. Emma Sims-Hilditch [Website here]

Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 12.48.33.png

Out of all of the inspirational people mentioned here today, Emma Sims-Hilditch is the designer whose style most closely matches my own. Emma is the person behind the design company, Sims-Hilditch and she is also the Creative Director of Neptune. Her style is pared back English country. Sims-Hildich publish a journal on their website, with gorgeous images of the most beautiful country home interiors.

So those are my top 10 interior design influencers. Who do you like to follow and why? Come and join the conversation in our facebook group.

Facebook group

5 WAYS TO BRING TEXTURE INTO YOUR HOME

5 WAYS TO BRING TEXTURE INTO YOUR HOME

When we think about texture, we are thinking about the experience of snuggling under blankets, or the softness of a sofa, or the coolness of a marble worktop or the sturdy weight of a rustic table. It's a tactile experience. It's about touch

But although texture is about how surfaces feel, we firstly experience texture in a room by what we see. We 'feel' the texture with our eyes, way before the hands-on, tactile experience happens. It's a bit like salivating over a delicious looking meal that we've never even tasted before.

Successful texture in a room comes from having a mixture of different textures together, and layering them in a contrasting way. Think smooth with rough, soft with hard, polished against rustic.

Bringing texture into your home has so many benefits: It stops your room from being bland, it adds another dimension, it cushions unwanted sound, and stops echoes, and it brings a feeling of warmth and cosiness.

Texture within monotone or neutral rooms is an absolute must. It stops plainer rooms from being one-dimensional.
— Kate Hatherell- The Home Design School

So let's take a look at the different ways you can bring texture into your home.

1. Wall coverings

Herringbone patterned walls bring a strong textural element to the largest space in the room. Keep the rest of the decor simple to avoid overwhelm.  Image via B&Q

Herringbone patterned walls bring a strong textural element to the largest space in the room. Keep the rest of the decor simple to avoid overwhelm. 

Image via B&Q

The biggest surface area in any room is the walls, and there are so many ways to introduce texture into the room. 

If you are lucky enough to have internal stone or exposed brick walls (see main blog image above) , then you already have all the texture you need. But if you have a plainer interior, you can create similar effects with stone cladding, or even brick effect wallpaper. 

Walls can also be clad in rustic style shiplap, or dressed with more formal wainscoting or beadboard

Feather wall hanging texture home

If you don't want such a permanent change, clever use of wall decor can bring much needed texture in. A gallery wall, or clever wall displays may be all you need. (Click >>here<< for more ideas) 

These beautiful feather wall hangings from Mia Fleur bring warmth, texture and contrast to this dark wall.

2. Floor Coverings

Painted hard wood floorboards contrast with the texture of the deep pile rug. Beni rug from Loaf.com

Painted hard wood floorboards contrast with the texture of the deep pile rug. Beni rug from Loaf.com

The second largest space in your room will be the floor. If you already have carpeted floors then you already have a soft texture, but consider layering longer pile rugs over shorter pile carpet for an even more sumptuous look and feel. Be sure to use carpet tape to stop the rug slipping. 

Hard flooring such as wood can have a beautiful texture of its own, such as herringbone for example, and this can be enhanced by putting a rug with a contrasting texture on top. Consider harder fabrics such as sisal, jute and hessian for a more industrial feel, but softer rugs such as faux animal skin or sheepskin provide real contrast of texture and 'cosy up' the space.  

3. Furniture

Aurelie drawers by Loaf.com

Aurelie drawers by Loaf.com

When choosing furniture for your space, consider the finishes that you already have in your room, and think about the contrast you can bring in.

The rustic finish on these wooden drawers for example, contrasts with the well painted wainscoting behind. It is this juxtaposition of textures which keeps the interior looking interesting. 

Consider rustic or limewashed wood against painted wood, plastic against antique, industrial against pretty. 

4. Textiles

Layering textiles is a quick and easy way to bring a huge variety of texture into your home. Bed textiles from Next.

Layering textiles is a quick and easy way to bring a huge variety of texture into your home. Bed textiles from Next.

One of the quickest ways to introduce texture into your room is through soft furnishings. Not only are cushions, curtains and throws very tactile, but they also bring acoustic cushioning to your room too. 

The options here really are endless; choose fabrics in cotton, wool, silk, chenille, velvet and sheepskin. The key is to mix the different fabrics together. Put a silk banner around a linen cushion for example, or place a felt cushion next to knitted. Throw a sheepskin rug over a velvet sofa.

5. Accessories:

A variety of different shaped accessories with contrasting finishes adds texture to a scheme. Accessories via Harvey Norman.

A variety of different shaped accessories with contrasting finishes adds texture to a scheme. Accessories via Harvey Norman.

The most inexpensive way of bringing texture to a room is through the accessories you scatter throughout the space. There is a whole variety of objects you can put into your decor, from shop bought to foraged! Think woven baskets, smooth glass, shells, faux coral, metallic objects, felt or knitted baskets. Again, the secret to getting the texture right is to mix it up, layer it in. 

Of course, how you bring texture into a room will also depend upon the look and feel of the room you are trying to create. If you are looking for a laid back and cosy room, you'll be including copious soft furnishings with knitted and woollen finishes, whereas if you are creating a glam vibe, you'll be including lots of glass and metallics, with perhaps faux animal skin or silk fabrics. Whatever your look, there's a way to bring texture and dimension into your home. 

And if you're not sure what your personal home décor style is, why not try out my fun FREE quiz below?

Until next time x

Main Image Source: featuring Armadillo Rugs Collection by Hunting for George

LETTING GO OF POSSESSIONS

LETTING GO OF POSSESSIONS

When it comes to creating our ideal home décor, we start with a vision of how we want our home to look. For some of us this is a feeling, or a mood we want to create, and for others, it is a clear design board, containing ALL of the details of the room (go you!). 

But sometimes, in the execution of those plans, something goes wrong. We fail to create the look we want, the plan doesn't come together as we had envisaged.

Why is this?

Often it is because we hold onto items that we already have in our homes, and we don't replace them when we come to create our new decor.

Even though they don't fit in with our design plans.

Even though we might not actually like them! 

So what's going on here?

Perhaps it's an item from your past, perhaps something that you had around you in childhood, and so you feel nostalgic about it.

Perhaps it's an item that was gifted to you, and so you feel guilt if you were to get rid of it. Or you're worried you're being ungrateful. Or you worry that the person who gave it to you will notice it's missing and be angry with you.

Perhaps it's an item that is in perfectly good working order and it is wasteful for you to get rid of it.

Or perhaps- most strongly- it's an item that was inherited from a close relative, and you feel as though by holding onto it, you hold onto a piece of them in some way.

I totally get all of these things. I understand. 

Possessions come with powerful associations, and we (wrongly) assign greater importance to ‘things’ than we should. 
— Kate Hatherell, The Home Design School

Possessions can hold so much power that we try to make them fit into our room schemes, even though they really don't go. It's like a little blind spot that we have; human beings are remarkably good at seeing what they want to see, rather than seeing what is in front of them. We 'make it fit' even though it really doesn't. 

In order to move past this, in order to get the home you really want, you have to accept that these items don't fit in with your design plan. Not only this, but they are stopping you from having the home you want. 

Like Disney's Queen Elsa, we need to learn to "Let It Go!" when it comes to our possessions, if they are stopping us from having the home we want.

So, what's the solution?

It's all very well to say, "Let It Go!" but how do we do that?

Firstly, recognise that it's not about the stuff itself; we are all perfectly capable of heading to the tip or the charity shop.

It's the stuff in our heads, the stuff in our hearts. The emotional stuff. The (dare I say it) baggage that we carry around.

How do we move past those mental blockers we hold to rid ourselves of the possessions that are getting in our way?

Let's see if we can get practical with some solutions...

1. Get clear on your vision

Start with the end in mind. Be super clear about how you want your home to look. Although a 'feeling' or a 'mood' is a great place to start, the more you firm up and crystallise the look you are going for, the easier it is for you to see where your current possessions fit, and where they do not.

Create Pinterest boards, scrap books or concept and mood boards of the exact look you are trying to achieve.

Write a description of how you want the space to feel, and what you need to include (and exclude) to get that look, and become super focused on how you want the end product to be.

At this point, remember that you don't have to get rid of anything, you are just dreaming. So this is a safe step. Be honest about your dream, and don't focus on what you currently have.

2. Future Cast your Dream

Future what? Future casting is about envisaging how you want the future to look in all it's glorious detail. Creating a vision of the future is a really powerful tool to help get your mind in the right place for change.

Write a description of how your space will look, and how you will feel, once you achieve the vision you created in the previous step. How will life be different once you have achieved the home you want?

So now onto the actual possessions themselves...

3. How to Let Go of an Unwanted Gift

Someone has generously given you something for your home, which they clearly love, and they love you enough to give it to you. The trouble is? Their taste is different to yours, and now you are stuck with an item you dislike, forever adorning your shelves, or you risk offending them if you get rid of it. What a dilemma.

(Tip for everyone: never EVER buy someone something for their home. Buy something disposable- cut flowers for example- but never EVER something they then have to display. Do you want to give someone else the dilemma I've mentioned above?)

The best way to handle this is of course is to make those expectations clear up front. Please could I have <INSERT: voucher/ flowers/ chocolates/ a meal/ an experience/some babysitting/ a donation to charity> for my birthday.

Set expectations beforehand if you can!

Set expectations beforehand if you can!

But if you haven't done this, and you're already lumbered with said gift, you need to get your mindset in the right place so that you can get rid of it. 

Firstly, know that most people won't even notice if something is missing. We are so focused on ourselves, that we think other people are as wrapped up in the minutiae of our lives as we are. They're not. They may not even notice.

Secondly, if the person knew that you disliked it, they would be mortified to know that are displaying something you dislike. Stop being so awkward and get rid. And if they do question you? Be honest! I really appreciated the gesture but it's not quite to my taste. 

Thirdly. Own your space. You all tell me how important your home is. You tell me it is your sanctuary. Your safe space. So in this space, it is your choice to have what you want in there. Are you really going to let someone else dictate how your home looks? Really?

And finally. Stop worrying about what others think. Going to offend Great Aunt Maud if you jettison her floral china vase? Well okay. That's a shame. But she'll get over it. Or she won't. Either way, it's your home. Have what you want in it.

4. How to Let Go of Stuff that's Not Broken

For many of us, we were brought up with a 'waste not want not' approach to life. We were told to eat up everything on our plates, to 'make do and mend'.

Throwing out all of our unwanted stuff was just wasteful.

Whether you are a post war baby, conditioned not to waste, or you are simply worried about the environmental impact of the disposable mentality we have, getting rid of unwanted possessions doesn't have to be a bad thing.

Whatever it is that you have in your home that you don't like, you can still get rid. There will always be someone who wants what no longer works for you.

The success of auction sites like Ebay, and local recycling sites like Freecycle show that there is a roaring trade in 'preloved' items. Charity shops are always looking out for unwanted furniture. It really is true that one man's trash is another man's treasure.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure
— Anon

Why hang onto something that is cluttering up your life, that you don't really like or no longer have a use for? You are denying somebody else the pleasure of having your preloved possessions. Get rid, and get yourself something you love.

5. How to Let Go of Sentimental Stuff

Without question, the hardest thing to let go of is the sentimental stuff. The stuff you inherited from a relative no longer with us, the memorabilia from childhood. This is tough.

We confuse our sentimentality about the person or time in our lives with the possessions that were there at the same time. It's almost as though holding on to the item will keep the person or the time closer to you.

But of course, the truth is, that it's the memory you need to hold on to, not the item itself. I love this quotation from the Minimalists

I am not my stuff; we are more than our possessions.
Our memories are within us, not within our things.
Holding on to stuff imprisons us; letting go is freeing.
— The Minimalists

It's not that holding onto sentimental items is wrong. It's only wrong if it gets in the way of the lifestyle and home that we want to have. 

Keeping 4500 CDs or VHS tapes in a rack because you have fond memories of the films and music is not going to help you achieve the clean-lined scandi look you're after. Keeping granny's vintage embroidered napkins isn't going to work in the glam luxe pad you're trying to create. Let it go.

Go back to step one, and check the sentimental item against your vision board for your home. Does it fit? Does it go with your design scheme? 

If it doesn't, then check your future cast from step two. This item is now stopping you from realising that dream. Surely, that's not what your relative would have wanted? Surely your younger self would not want you trapped in this way?

Marie Kondo (the queen of decluttering), tells you to thank the item for it's usefulness and then choose to let it go. Let it go and be thankful that the item will now serve someone else, bring someone else pleasure, or simply thank it for giving you pleasure in the past. 

Whatever items you have in your home, which are stopping you from creating the home of your dreams, take stock, and see whether you can overcome some of these blockers for yourself. 

Declutter. Live lighter. 

Until next time x

 

HOW TO CHOOSE ARTWORK FOR YOUR HOME

HOW TO CHOOSE ARTWORK FOR YOUR HOME

A few weeks ago, I published an article about what to do when faced with blank walls. One of the solutions we talked about was hanging artwork; it is quick and easy to install, it can bring a splash of colour and it can inject a little personality into a space.

But people often come unstuck when buying artwork. What type of art to buy? Where to source it? How many items to buy? It can be a whole minefield of its own! 

So how do you choose art? Let me share with you some basics...

1. Proportion & Scale

First off, look at the size of the space you are hoping to fill. The scale of the wall you are covering should dictate the scale of the artwork you choose. If you have a large blank wall, then your artwork should be large too. A small piece of artwork in a big space will just look lost. Smaller spaces generally look better with small scale art, although sometimes an oversized piece can be used for effect. 

You can create an illusion of large scale art by hanging several smaller pieces together, either in a grid layout, or a more organic gallery wall style. 

When buying prints, remember that the mount board and frame can add several inches to the dimensions of the print, so allow for this in your measurements.

2. Proximity

Image: Rhapsody by Twist of Lime

Image: Rhapsody by Twist of Lime

If you are hanging several pieces of art together, make sure that you hang them close to one other. One of the biggest mistakes people make with art is hanging one small piece on its own, or spreading a collection out on different walls within a room. Pictures should be hung in reasonably close proximity to each other, so that it is clear that the individual pictures belong together. 

When hanging several different pieces, make sure that the gaps between their frames is equidistant. There is nothing worse than a wall of pictures where the gap sizes are all different. 

If the pictures in the image above were more spread out, they would look disjointed. Grouped together as they are, they look as though they belong together, and form one coherent display.

3. Repetition

For art to look cohesive in your scheme, it should echo, or repeat something else in your room. This can often be a colour, but it can also be a shape or a pattern. Stick to the 'three places' rule: make sure that the colour or pattern in the artwork is repeated in at least three different places throughout the room, in perhaps cushions, vases or lamps for example. 

The tan, blue, green, black and white in the prints and frames are repeated in the artwork and across the room in cushions, vases, plants and the footstool.  Image: Prints by Hunting for George

The tan, blue, green, black and white in the prints and frames are repeated in the artwork and across the room in cushions, vases, plants and the footstool. 

Image: Prints by Hunting for George

If you are using a collection of pictures, make sure that either the mount boards, or the frames are similar, or repeated in other frames in the collection. Again, this brings cohesion to the display. 

4. Subject

Think about the overall style you are aiming to create in your room, and choose the subject of your artwork accordingly. Floral prints and landscapes can work well in a country scheme, whereas graphic prints work better in a mid-century or modern design. 

That said, sometimes designers choose a piece of artwork that is at odds with the style of the room, to create contrast and impact.

For example, a dramatic modern print can look stunning against a backdrop of a traditional Victorian room, as in this image on the left. The modern print is a great foil to the heavy traditional elements elsewhere in the room.

Don't be afraid to have a play around and experiment with different styles.

5. Where to shop?

If you fancy investing some money in artwork, then heading to your local gallery is a good starting point. Auction houses also sell original artwork, and it's worth finding out about your local auction dates and times.

But if you want something on a smaller budget, then look for online stores that sell prints, rather than original works. Companies like art.co.uk (art.com in the US) bring a wide variety of prints to the market for really reasonable prices, and shops like Etsy and Not On The High Street sell quirky and unique products if you are looking for something a little different.

What are your challenges when it comes to choosing art? Come and head on over to join our Facebook community, and share your blank walls. Let us help you bring them to life!

Until next time x

The Home Design School Facebook Group

Main Image Source: Melodic & Lola, Urban Road

15 PLACES TO SHOP FOR CUSHIONS

15 BEST PLACES TO SHOP FOR CUSHIONS (UK)

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about the best fillings to choose for your cushion inserts. Making sure that the innards of your cushions are of good quality is paramount to getting that plump and long-lasting look, but of course, the thing we swoon over in magazines, is how the cushion looks from the outside. But where should we shop for them?

Shopping for cushions can be tricky. There are so many retailers to choose from, yet we often get stuck in a rut, shopping in the same places and never adventuring outside of those safe retailers. 

So in today's post, I'm giving you a list of some familiar shops, as well as some more niche, or quirky retailers that you might want to check out. Move yourself out of your comfort zone, and try some different shops! 

1. Next Home

A staple high street retailer, Next stock a range of home furnishings which are swapped out for a fresh range twice a year. Next tend to sell whole rooms sets, so if you are looking for a co-ordinated look, this is the place to go. Just be careful to mix in pieces from other retailers so that it's not all too "matchy-matchy".

2. Debenhams Home

Another high street retailer, Debenhams department stores sell a range of designer and own-brand cushions. They stock a really wide range to suit all sorts of different tastes, and they often run regular sales too.

3. Dunelm Mill

Dunelm Mill is more of a specialist retailer, in so far as they specialise in home goods. They have a wide range of styles and colours, although they stock far more on their website than they do in store. You can order from the website to be delivered in store. 

4. House of Fraser

Another department store, House of Fraser stocks a reasonable amount of cushions, although not as extensive a range as the other department stores. They group their cushions by 'patterned, plain, floral and geometric', which is kind of handy, if you're using my guide to mixing and matching cushion fabrics

5. Marks & Spencer

M&S have a funny reputation which has wavered over the years from being a good, dependable brand, to a bit 'old-lady'. Their homeware section, though, has generally remained true to those ethics of quality and classic design. They have a modest amount of cushions, but they range from the classic to the new and quirky! If you haven't checked them out for a while, they are worth a browse.

6. John Lewis

'Never knowingly undersold', John Lewis has a reputation for good quality and good design at the best possible price. They stock a really great range of cushions, from the classic florals and stripes through to downright fun, modern fabrics and prints. 

7. Zara Home

Zara Home is a good place to shop if you are looking for something a little different. Frilled, tassled, feathered and striped, there is something here to suit more adventurous tastes, as well as a few basic staples too. 

8. Not On the High Street

As the name suggests, NotOnTheHighStreet.com sells the most delightful range of hand crafted and individual cushions that you won't find... well... on the high street. Ahem. Acting as a marketplace for arty and crafty types, if you are looking for something unique, or bespoke, then this is the place for you. 

9. HomeSense

HomeSense do not have an online store, but they stock a unique range of products in their physical shops. They are unique in that they stock individual items for sale as one-offs, so once their items are gone, they're gone. If you see a cushion you like in the shop, you'd better buy it there and then!

10. Loaf

Loaf sell cushions in their online store under the title: 'squishy things'. I love that. They have a really small range, but they are quite quirky and for the fun at heart. 

11. OKA

If you like a grown up classic and country style, then OKA cushions are for you. They have 150 different styles in various colourways, which coordinate with their other home accessories. They even have a cushion visualiser tool on their website too, which is pretty handy! 

12. Graham & Green

Stockists of cushions for the sofa and floor, Graham and Green has a small collection of quirky cushions; perfect for vintage or tribal inspired and contemporary spaces. 

13. Cox & Cox

For those that love unique or eclectic design with a Scandinavian feel, Cox & Cox stock a small range of understated cushions in soft greys and blues, with a few subtle patterns. 

14. Rowen & Wren

A more artisanal approach, Rowen & Wren handpick their items. They do not have an extensive range by any means, but if you're looking for some good quality linen in muted colours, then this is the place to go. 

15. Abode Living

Looking for hot lips or eye print cushions? The more wacky of you will be drawn to Abode Living's small range of cushions. What they lack in range, they make up for in eccentricity! 

So get yourself out of that rut, and check out some new stores. Where else do you like to shop for cushions? Drop your favourite stores in the comments box below.

Source Image: Next

Coastal or Country? Why choosing a theme for your home is a bad idea...

WHY CHOOSING A THEME FOR YOUR HOME IS A BAD IDEA

If you're a home décor enthusiast, and you're anything like me, you will glue yourself to the TV whenever there is a home decorating programme on. Not only do I soak up the UK programmes like the Great Interior Design Challenge, but I also delve into some of the shows from across the pond, like Fixer Upper and Property Brothers. Now I know these programmes can be pretty corny, but I just can't help myself!

For those of you too young to remember, back in the late 1990s to early 2000s, there was a programme in the UK called Changing Rooms.  The programme's structure was always the same: two homeowners swapped houses with their neighbour, and allowed a decorating team, led by an aspiring interior designer, into their homes to completely makeover a room from top to bottom. 

At the end of the programme there was a "grand reveal" and the homeowners would be allowed in to see the transformation. Pretty formulaic so far, right?

However, the room designs were often crazy, off the wall designs that no right-minded person would choose for themselves. The designers chose a set "theme" for the room, and decorated it with wild abandon in line with the theme. 

The Grand Themes

We had rooms with an Arabian nights theme, rooms with a Greek temple theme, and one room, which- memorably for the poor homeowner who burst into tears on the reveal- resembled a tart's boudoir!

Via bbc.co.uk

Changing Rooms earned itself a reputation for naff design and over-the-top decoration, like this Queen Anne themed dining room, complete with mock flagstones.

It may have been good for ratings, but it certainly wasn't good for tasteful design.

One of the downsides of all this "inspiration" was that people started decorating their homes around a theme. So we started seeing coastal themes, where every possible seaside paraphernalia from life-saving rings to knot pictures to messages- in- a- bottle and miniature sailboats were stuffed into every available space. We had Indian themed rooms with rich embroidery, floor cushions, silk paintings and incense everywhere, in a 1930s semi in Birmingham. And don't get me started on the paint effects. Rag rolling anyone? *shudder*

Things Have Moved On...

Luckily, popular design has moved on since then, and the more modern shows generally produce competent and cohesive designs. The likes of the Property brothers and DIY SOS actually create functional and aesthetically pleasing rooms that any of us would be happy to live in. 

Now whilst few of us would decorate our rooms according to a theme like this, many of us get stuck in a rut of decorating our rooms according to a pre-determined style. Most of us are drawn to one type of design style or another. Whether that is classic, or industrial, mid-century modern or country, shabby chic or minimalist, most of us have a natural inclination towards one style or another. 

Not sure what your preferred style is? Take the Quiz!

Not sure what your preferred style is? Take the Quiz!

Now, there is nothing wrong with having style likes and dislikes (in fact, I actively encourage people to get to know their preferred style), but the problem comes when this is taken too far. Any style taken to its extreme will look at best twee, and at worst downright naff. Not only that, but putting a line in the sand and adhering religiously to one design style is very restrictive and leaves you little room for changes in taste. 

So how do we incorporate our chosen style without going over the top?

The key to incorporating your chosen style without going over the top, is to identify what is at the heart of the design style.
— Kate Hatherell- The Home Design School

The key to this is to identify what is at the heart of the design style you like, and to include a 'nod' to the look, rather than an in-your-face replica of it. Let's take a look at a few examples...

If you like country style..

Image via Vanessa Arbuthnott

At the heart of country style is laid back, cosy living. Built for practicality in the country, this style often has stone or wooden floors which can cope with muddy boots from the field, large farmhouse tables and a cosy log fire. Country homes often have traditional framed kitchens and lots of painted wood. It should be a little tired, a little rustic. In the image above, the country style furniture is balanced with a more modern floor light and an on-trend colour scheme.

How to get it wrong: go over the top with lots of stag heads, hunting paraphernalia and too much tartan fabric.

If you like Scandi...

The essence of scandi design is clean, functional and uncluttered. Think light and bright. Keep your walls white and soft grey, and use pale or lightly distressed wood throughout. Bring in sheepskin for softness.

How to get it wrong: Deer antlers everywhere and animal skins on every surface. 

If you like coastal...

Image via Ideal Home

Image via Ideal Home

Coastal schemes reflect the openness of the ocean and the sea breeze. Stick to a colour palette of whites, aqua and blue, reflecting the landscape. Use fabrics in ticking stripes and use plenty of cushions. You can get away with a nod to the seaside with some coastal elements, for example a jute rug, a knotted door stop or a coastal painting.

How to get it wrong: cram your decor with seaside paraphernalia such as anchors, lifesaving rings, sailboats, faux fish and lobster pots. 

If you're not sure what the main elements of your style are, then check out this fun quiz below, which will point you in the right direction.

Until next time x

8 WAYS TO COMBAT THE FEAR OF BLANK WALLS

8 WAYS TO COMBAT THE FEAR OF BLANK WALLS

I remember when we had our extension built (about 5 years ago now). We had invested heavily in a large add-on to the side of our house, that was going to be the ultimate in open plan family living. We had a large kitchen including an island, with stools for the children to sit on to work or colour whilst we cooked, a large dining table for big family gatherings, and a living area with squishy sofas for lounging and watching TV. 

Once the building work was done, we were delighted with the space. We had opted for plain white walls (more to do with our fear of colour than a positive choice- read about that here). The only problem was what to do with all of those blank walls. With metre upon metre of plain white space, I was pretty intimidated and I just didn't know how to fill it. 

Fast forward a few years and I have learned a thing or two about how to deal with this issue, but I remember well that feeling of overwhelm and paralysis. Today I share with you some top ways of making your blank walls more attractive.

1. Wallpaper

Nothing gives an instantaneous injection of colour and pattern to a room like wallpaper. Although a bit of a faff to install, a few rolls of wallpaper can completely transform a space. Wallpaper can be a tricky skill to get right, so if you're not very handy, consider getting a professional in to help. Wallpapering is not a job I take on lightly!

2. Wall stickers or decals

Images via Koko Kids and Babatude

A fantastic (and relatively inexpensive) way of adding some interest to blank walls, peelable wall stickers- or decals- are a great option. Not as permanent as wallpaper, this makes a safer choice than committing to a more permanent option. Wall stickers now come in all sorts of patterns and pictures, from the comical to the pretty. They are particularly good for the walls in children's rooms as you can change the stickers as the children grow and their developing tastes change.

3. Large artwork

Image and artwork via Atelier Lane

Image and artwork via Atelier Lane

A large piece of artwork acts as a focal point in a room, and can also give you inspiration for the start of a colour scheme too. This large piece of artwork above is grounded by the sofa underneath. On its own, it would look look lost, as though it were floating in mid air. You can achieve a similar grounded look by placing your artwork over a mantlepiece, console table or unit. 

4. Grid of pictures

Image and Art via Urban Road

Image and Art via Urban Road

A collection of artwork can look stunning when displayed well. In this example above, the art has been carefully selected to tell a consistent colour story across the whole display, which is echoed in the furniture and finishes in the room. This brings cohesion to the whole room, and makes it feel calm.

This asymmetrical display achieves balance because the large picture on the left is balanced by the collection of smaller pictures on the right. The visual balance is equal across the two vertical halves of the display. A staggered display like this works well, but a more uniform, symmetrical grid layout is also impactful too. 

5. Gallery Wall

Image via Norsu Interiors

Image via Norsu Interiors

Although very popular at the moment, gallery walls can be quite tricky to pull off. The key to getting it right is to use a consistent theme or colour palette throughout. Too many disparate elements and your walls starts to look like a crazy mess!

Either keep all of your frames and mount boards the same (or restricted to a small palette), or ensure that your pictures and accessories have something visually in common. In the example above, there is a consistent theme of matching wood tones, grey, white and a few splashes of red. This unifies the disparate items.

6. Mirrors

Image via Smithers of Stamford

Image via Smithers of Stamford

Mirrors are a fantastic addition to most spaces. As well as being an attractive feature in themselves, they also bounce light around the room, making your room feel lighter and more spacious. Make of feature of them by choosing decorative frames, or quirky designs like these lollipop mirrors above. 

7. Shelving

Farringdon Wall Shelf by Garden Trading

Farringdon Wall Shelf by Garden Trading

A well placed shelf can add interest to a blank wall. If you want to make a feature of the shelf itself, then choose brightly coloured shelving, or shelves in a contrasting colour to your walls. If you want the items you display on the shelves to be the star of the display, then paint your shelves the same colour as the walls so that they blend in. 

You can get shelving to match your style. Natural wood is good for country schemes, black or metallic work well in glam rooms, and metal shelves look great in an industrial or scandi room. 

8. Clocks

Image via Amorini Home

Image via Amorini Home

Having a clock in your room is a practical choice, but make a feature of a blank wall by creating a collection of clocks. Just like with a gallery wall, make sure that your clocks have something visually in common so that there is cohesion in the display. In the example above, black, white and grey are repeated across the display so that the individual clocks look as though they belong to the display. 

Although blank walls can be intimidating, with a little thought and preparation, you can create a stunning display, and give your room that 'finished' look. 

Want some help with your blank walls? Join our Facebook group below and share your pictures of your blank walls. Let us help you with some suggestions.

Until next time x

GETTING THAT PLUMP PILLOW LOOK

GETTING THAT PLUMP PILLOW LOOK

Recently I have been putting together a mood board for my living room/ family room, and I'm at the stage of sourcing the throw cushions for my sofas. As I look at the sorry state of our current cushions, I am so glad that I have learned a thing or two since I last decorated this room. 

You see, no matter how attractive your cushion covers are, and how well they coordinate with your scheme, if your cushion filling isn't right, then you will end up with cushions as flat as pancakes in no time. As with most things in life, it's not what's on the outside, but what's on the inside that matters!

I've been in touch with the experts at The Cushion Warehouse to bring you a guide on how to choose the right cushion inserts for your home. Let's take a look:

Synthetic Vs Natural

Cushions can be filled with either natural materials, or synthetic man-made materials. In my experience, natural fillings produce the plumpest results, and the most even coverage of filling. However, if you have a family member who suffers from allergies, there are some pretty decent synthetic options available too. 

Feather and Down Fillings

When we think about natural fillings, we usually think about feather or down. Essentially, feather refers to the outer feathers of a bird, which are waterproof and therefore more coarse, and down refers to the softer feathers which sit underneath. These down feathers are light and fluffy, providing insulation for the bird, and soft and warmth for your cushions.

Unlike a foam pad, feather and down cushions can be plumped back into shape whenever they get a little flat, and the natural curve of the feathers acts as a spring to help with this.

Most natural cushion inserts contain a mixture of both feather and down in different quantities. Generally, the greater the proportion of down, the more luxurious your insert, with pure down being the softest and most sumptuous. Makes sense, right?

Goose feathers are even larger, lighter and softer than duck feathers, and so goose down is the most luxurious of the lot, although it is not quite as firm and supportive. 

Wool Fillings

Another natural alternative is wool. Wool gives a firmer filling than feather and down, but it can still be plumped back into shape.

Although a natural product, wool is also suitable for allergy sufferers because it is resistant to dust mites and bacteria. If sustainability is high on your agenda, wool is a really eco-friendly option. Wool filings are not widely stocked, but you can find a range of woolen inserts at The Cushion Warehouse. 

Synthetic Fibre

Hollowfibre cushion filling

Synthetic fibre is the most common cushion filling that you see on the high street. Fibre cushion pads have several advantages, in that they are usually inexpensive, and you don't get annoying feathers poking out through the cover. However they tend to have a short life span because they go flat very quickly. They can also go lumpy and out of shape, and once this happens, there is no going back!

Synthetic fillings generally come in two types: hollow fibre and microfibre.

As the name suggests, hollowfibre filling is made up of hollow strands of polyester, which means that it is more breathable and appears plumper than some other synthetic fillings. 

Microfibre fillings have strands which are closely packed together. This makes it soft and very fluffy, but it also lacks support and so is better used for occasional cushions, rather than every day. 

Whether you are buying cushions from the high street, or having them bespoke made, make sure that you check out the inserts in your cushions to get that sumptuous look. 

If you've got any questions, come and pop on over to the facebook group where we can help you (click the image to join).

Until next time x

Images Courtesy of The Cushion Warehouse

Main Image Source: Next.co.uk