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

STYLING A SOFA THROW: 5 WAYS

STYLING A SOFA THROW: 5 WAYS

One of the keys to creating a cosy and welcoming home is to include plenty of soft furnishings into your space. Without soft furnishings a room can feel cold, hard and unwelcoming. Soft furnishings deaden unwanted noise and soften the look that too many hard surfaces create, bringing warmth into the space.

A quick and simple way to bring this soft element into your home is through throws or blankets on the sofa, and they are a relatively inexpensive way to refresh your space. But it's too often the story that people buy themselves a throw for their sofa and then realise they don't know how to style it.

My advice, as always, when it comes to styling, is to play around and experiment. People worry about making mistakes and having a room which looks silly (yes, perfectionista, I'm talking to you!) but even the most experienced stylists play around until they find what looks 'right'.

So, here are a few ideas to get you started:

THE SIDE FOLD

Image Courtesy of Ideal Home

Image Courtesy of Ideal Home

One of the simplest and easiest ways to style a throw is simply to fold it up and drape it over the arm of the chair. This softens the edges of the sofa without making a dramatic statement. Great for beginners!

The neater you fold your throw blanket, the more formal a look you will create. 

Neatly folded side throw gives a formal look (image via Ideal Home)

Neatly folded side throw gives a formal look (image via Ideal Home)

THE SIDE DRAPE

Image Source, Ideal Home

Image Source, Ideal Home

For a slightly less formal look, unfold your throw and tuck one end into the corner, behind a cushion, and allow the rest of the fabric to cascade towards the floor. 

THE UP AND OVER

Image and Design via Inspired by Charm

Image and Design via Inspired by Charm

In this beautiful scheme, the throw has been folded, and then draped up and over the back of the sofa, and down onto the seat. This creates a 'runner' effect and brings a larger block of your accent colour into the space. It also acts as a 'relief' between the colours of the sofa and the colours of the cushions. Try to keep the throw a little relaxed (allow a few crinkles), otherwise you'll put people off sitting down, because they won't want to disturb the display. 

THE OH-SO-CASUAL

Image via Sofa.com

Image via Sofa.com

For that laid back 'here's where we lounge on a Saturday morning' look, drape your throw over the back of the sofa, down across the seat and allow it to pool onto the floor. Although this looks as though the throw has been tossed casually onto the sofa, if you don't get it right, it can look a little contrived. Don't be put off by this though, keep experimenting until you get it right. 

THE MULTIPLE THROW APPROACH

Image via Ideal Home

Image via Ideal Home

For a really snug look, use more than one throw on a sofa. In the image above, a sheepskin has been placed across the back and down onto the seat of the sofa, and a soft blanket has been casually draped over the arm on the opposite side. Notice again how the throw is draped more casually, rather than being folded neatly. This adds to the laid back, cosy look in this room. 

THE COVER UP

Patchwork Red Quilt by Pignut

Patchwork Red Quilt by Pignut

A throw blanket is a great way to bring an accent colour into your room. As with all accent colours, it needs to be repeated in a room in several places, in order to be effective. In the room above, the red quilt stands out against the very neutral backdrop and the colour is echoed in the cushions and accessories on the side table. Effective, huh?

Notice too, how this throw is placed central to the sofa and covers a lot of the seating area. Perfect if you need to hide any stains caused by little person spillages.

So, 5 ways to get you started. Remember, don't be afraid to play around and experiment. Mix up the colours and textures, and experiment until you get the look you want. 

Come and share photos of your throw styling in our facebook book. Click the image below to join.

Until next time x

5 SIMPLE WAYS TO BRING COLOUR INTO YOUR HOME

5 SIMPLE WAYS TO BRING COLOUR INTO YOUR HOME

The single biggest challenge that people face when choosing their home decor is colour. As someone who teaches home design for a living, I see (on a daily basis) the fear and overwhelm that people face when it comes to choosing colours for their home.

I've written in the past about my own cringe-worthy struggles with choosing colour before I learned the "insider secrets", and so I know from personal experience what this frustration and overwhelm feels like.

Colour is a complicated little beast. Firstly you have to consider the effect that you want to create in your home: do you want a loud, vibrant space, or a cool and calm space? Then there are the actual colours; which colours go together, and which colours clash? Then you need to know whether you want a pale colour or a strong, saturated colour... then where do you put the colour, and how much... And that's even before you get into considering how to test paint and how the light in your room affects the colour too!

Ugh.

The list goes on and on. It's no wonder that so many houses are painted magnolia!

Now, you could actually fill a whole library on the subject of colour, and I'm not going to pretend that today's blog post is going to solve every colour woe. But there are a few steps that you can take to begin to bring colour in, in a small way, which feels safe and doesn't cost the earth. If you try some of these ideas below and you don't like the effect you create, you haven't committed yourself to a dramatic change you're stuck with.

Before I share with you these 5 ideas, there is one important thing to know:

The key to making colour work in your home is to repeat your chosen accent colours in at least three places in the room.
— Kate Hatherell, The Home Design School

Let's make a start. Choose three of the suggestions below and have a go at colouring your home.

1. Artwork

Blue Room with Canvas

Artwork is a great way to fill a blank wall, and to add a splash of colour to your room. Remember that you are just experimenting here; so don't go overboard with an expensive print which eventually may not work in your scheme. You can pick up a canvas for a few pounds in most home stores in a whole range of colours, and this will allow you to experiment. Use the colours from your print and repeat them elsewhere in the room.

2. Soft Furnishings

Image Courtesy of English Blinds Notice how the colours in the blind are repeated in the colours of the chairs, cushions, books and radio. 

Image Courtesy of English Blinds

Notice how the colours in the blind are repeated in the colours of the chairs, cushions, books and radio. 

Soft Furnishings are a great way to introduce new colours into your home: curtains are usually more on the expensive side, but throws for sofas, runners for coffee and dining tables, and towels in the bathroom are all relatively inexpensive ways to bring a splash of colour. Cushions and throw pillows come in every colour imaginable, and whilst they may not be the cheapest way to update a colour scheme (I always prefer to buy good quality cushions) but they can make a really striking impact without much effort or risk. Keep cushion costs down by re-using your inserts, and just replacing the covers.

3. Lamps, lampshades and ceiling pendants 

Selecting a lampshade in your chosen colour helps you to repeat the colour in several places in the room. A ceiling pendant will draw your eye upwards, and lamps dotted around the room will keep your eye moving between the accent colours you have chosen. 

4. Decorative Accessories

From tubs, baskets and pots, to china ornaments, picture frames, clocks and globes, there is a myriad of decorative accessories that you can use to bring colour into your home. The trick is to spread the colour throughout your space: don't bunch all of the colour in one place. Big department stores like John Lewis and online retailers like Wayfair stock a large selection of decorative accessories in different colours. 

5. Create an accent wall

Wallpaper by Woodchip & Magnolia

Wallpaper by Woodchip & Magnolia

Although an accent wall is a bit more of a commitment than just adding a few cushions, painting just one wall is a less scary option than painting or papering a whole room. The bolder you go with your colour, the more of a feature the wall will become, so if you want a more subtle look, choose a pale tint of your chosen accent colour so that it supports your colour scheme, rather than dominates the room.   

So you now have five fairly safe ways to bring colour into your home. Remember: the key to making colour work in your home is to make sure that you repeat the colour in your room in at least three places. It's no good just bringing in one pink cushion and hoping it will work. You need at least three items to create colour repetition. So think about adding in a pink cushion, a pink lamp and a piece of pink artwork to get the look to work.

And if you're ready to take the next step and bring some paint colour into your home, be sure to watch the free video tutorial below to make sure that you get the colour right for you and your home. 

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Until next time x

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CHOOSING FABRICS FOR YOUR HOME

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CHOOSING FABRICS FOR YOUR HOME

Having fabric in your home brings multiple benefits. Not only can carefully chosen fabrics transform the look of a room, but they also bring thermal insulation, help to dampen sounds and reduce echo. You can bring fabrics into a room in a variety of ways; through curtains, cushions and upholstered furniture.

Ideally, you want to aim for a variety of fabrics, which co-ordinate with one another well. Fabrics come in all different patterns and colours and, whilst it's great to have this choice, it can be really overwhelming when you set out to buy a selection of fabrics for your home.

High street retailers often display their soft furnishings in room sets, which mean that you can shop a whole 'look' all at one time. However, this can sometimes be a bit 'matchy matchy', which isn't ideal, and it's not great to have a whole room which looks as though it was pulled straight out of a catalogue either.

This leaves us with the option of choosing a set of fabrics ourselves from an enormous range. With so much choice out there, how do you know where to begin? Well, worry not. Follow these pointers to get started:

KNOW YOUR STYLE

When you begin designing a home, you should always start with the end in mind, and the same is true of your fabric choices. Knowing what style you want to create with your fabric selection narrows down the options. There are fabrics out there in all sorts of styles, from country florals to modern geometrics. If you're not sure what your style might be, then have a browse through some images of room sets on Pinterest and ask yourself whether you are drawn to florals, plains, geometrics, paisley, stripes, spots and so on. Pin to your own mood board to gather your ideas. Think also about the textures that will create the feeling you want to achieve: heavy silks and velvets create a sumptuous look, flowing linens and cotton are more relaxed. If you're not sure what your style is, try taking my style quiz below for a few pointers. 

COLOUR: BLEND OR POP?

The next consideration is your colour palette. If you want your fabrics to blend into the background, acting as "supporting cast" for your other colours, then choose curtains a shade or two darker than your main room colour, and keep your cushion fabrics a shade or two darker or lighter than the rest of the room. If, on the other hand, you want your fabrics to stand out from the rest of the room, think about choosing colours which sit opposite your main colour on the colour wheel. This brings a pop of colour and will make your fabrics the star of the show. 

Colour Wheel

PATTERN MATCHING

To a large extent, the pattern of your fabric will be influenced by the style of room that you are creating. Country style rooms lend themselves to florals and spots, coastal schemes to simple ticking stripes, and mid- century modern to geometric shapes. However, try not to stick to just one pattern in a room. A mix of different patterns gives your scheme interest and appeal.

Fabric Books show co-ordinating fabrics within a colour range.

Fabric Books show co-ordinating fabrics within a colour range.

The scale of the pattern should be matched to the scale of the room it's in, and the furniture it covers. Choose large scale patterns for larger rooms and vice versa for small rooms. 

Fabric specialists (and some larger high street retailers) stock fabric books, which contain several different fabrics within the same colour way. This gives you variety of patterns, but ensures that the colours work in harmony together. The hard work has been done for you!

If you're going it alone, mixing patterns takes a little practice, but check out this blog post for some tips on how to achieve the look successfully.

PURPOSE

Although you might fancy having a sumptuous silk covered couch, if you have a couple of energetic toddlers and a dog who likes to lounge, this isn't going to be a practical choice. For pet-friendly fabrics, more durable solutions are fabrics with a higher thread count (this means more threads per square inch) and tight weaves, so that there is less chance of your furry friends getting their claws in them. Man made fabrics like microfibre, and natural choices like leather work well for families with children as they are durable and easily spot-cleaned.

That said, I have to admit to owning a pair of cream fabric sofas, despite having two children and a lounging dog myself! I think life's too short not to have what you want, so if you really want a fabric that you love, then I say go for it. Train your children not to drink on the sofa, get machine washable slip covers, or hire a steam cleaner once in a while.

Another consideration is your local climate. In cooler climates you may be better choosing wool and felt fabrics, whereas in warmer climates sheer voiles at the windows and fade resistant fabrics will be more appropriate. Don't forget that as the sun shines through a pair of unlined curtains, the colour will also cast light on the room. Blue or green curtains will make the room feel cooler, yellow curtains will make the room feel warmer. Oh how I'd like to have the problem of too much sun!

LET'S SHOP!

Although there are some fabulous deals online, never buy a fabric until you have seen it for real. Not until you touch the fabric can you feel the true heft of it, the texture, the exact colour, and the way it moves. Most online retailers allow you to order a few samples for free, but just be aware that exact colours can change from roll to roll. Going to a high street shop can be overwhelming, but they often have access to the biggest range of fabrics. Specialist fabrics retailers are, in my experience, the best and, although they may not have the same range as a high street or online store, they often have very well trained specialists who can help you to make a selection of fabrics. 

If you're at the point of choosing fabrics for your home, come and pop into our Facebook group and show us some pictures of the choices you're considering. We'll give you a helping hand :) 

Until next time x

Main Image Source: Gold Fabrics 2 By Julia Brendel Lee

Blue Fabric Book by Clarke & Clarke

HOW TO CREATE AN OUTDOOR ROOM EVEN ON A BUDGET

HOW TO CREATE AN OUTDOOR ROOM- EVEN ON A BUDGET

If you've been lucky like us recently with some fair weather, you will be turning your attention to the outside spaces of your home.

Creating a distinct area outside gives the feeling of a room, outdoors, and makes a great space for socialising and relaxing. Even if you have a small garden or your budget is tight, there are plenty of things that you can do to create a defined area, which becomes an extension of your home's interior, outdoors.

Just like any room in your home, an outdoor room needs to be planned before you begin, so before you head off the DIY store to shop, let's have a look at what you need to consider when designing an outdoor room.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Where you create your outdoor room will affect how successful it will be. Firstly, grab yourself a compass and look at the direction your garden faces. As we all know, south facing gardens are ideal for capturing the best sunlight, but if you don't have a suitable south facing spot, you can still create a cosy nook elsewhere. Consider the focal point of your space too. If you have a fabulous view overlooking the countryside, position your outdoor space towards this view. If your view doesn't face south, you'll need to weigh up whether the view or the sun wins the day.

PROVIDE SHELTER

Pop Up Gazebo by Wyevale Garden Centres

Pop Up Gazebo by Wyevale Garden Centres

Shelter is really important in an outside garden, either from the breeze in more northern climates, or from the sun if you are lucky enough to live somewhere warm. Shelter can be natural: if you have overhanging trees for example, this can create a canopy to shade you from the wind and sun, but if not, you can add artificial shelter through canopies, gazebos, privacy screens or simple windbreaks. 

ZONE THE SPACE

Zoning the space demarcates the area as a gathering place/ eating place/ whatever you want the space to be. You can zone the space in different ways: by creating a visible barrier such as fencing, gazebos, pergolas or even low-level hedges. Or you can simply demarcate the space by the use of flooring and furniture arrangement. Either way, think "courtyard" and treat your outdoor space just like you would an indoor space: with a clearly defined purpose and boundaries to match.

ADD FLOORING

Just like an indoor room, an outdoor room needs flooring. If you are working on a budget, use rush matting, or even beach mats to demarcate the area. If you have more to spend, create a hardstanding area like a patio or deck, but even a gravel area works well, and can be created in a weekend. 

BRING GREENERY IN

Image courtesy of Design 3000

Image courtesy of Design 3000

Even if you are surrounded by hedges and grass, bringing potted plants right up to your seating area really makes you feel like you are sitting in the heart of nature. Pot up some hardy outdoor plants, or even consider adding 'living walls' to your screens and walls. If you plant them up with herbs or hanging fruit you get double use out of your space.

FIREPLACE

Skagerak Helios Fire Bowl from Cloudberry Living

Skagerak Helios Fire Bowl from Cloudberry Living

Especially if you live in the more northern parts of the world, adding a fire bowl or fire pit allows you to stay outside for longer as the evenings get chilly. Fire bowls start from as little as £20, or if you're feeling brave, you can have a go at building your own!

LET THERE BE LIGHT!

Festoon Lights by Garden Trading

Festoon Lights by Garden Trading

As the warmer weather comes along, sitting outside into the small hours means that outdoor lighting becomes a must-have. Outdoor lighting has come on in leaps and bounds over the past few years, and there are lots of different options out there. Opt for strings of fairy lights and weave them through your pergola. Run storm lanterns down the centre of your table, and use solar powered stick lights dotted throughout your garden. 

If you fancy making over your garden and you're on a budget, try putting some of the ideas above into practice, and come and share with us your progress in our Facebook group. And if you really want to blow the budget, why not check out >> this post << of much pricier garden solutions for the summer. Well, I can dream, right?

Until next time x

Main Image: Coastal Living Range by Wyevale Garden Centres

7 EASY TRICKS TO GET FOCAL POINTS RIGHT IN YOUR HOME

7 EASY TRICKS TO GET FOCAL POINTS RIGHT IN YOUR HOME

If you are lucky enough to have an Inglenook fireplace or an ornate Victorian mantlepiece in your room, then you already have in place one of the key elements that makes a room feel finished: the focal point.

(If you prefer this in video format, please click the image below!)

I get lots of questions about focal points, and so today we're diving into your most common questions.

What is a focal point and why do I need one?

The dictionary defines the focal point as "the centre of activity or interest" in a room; it is the first thing that the eye is drawn to when you enter a room; the first thing you notice.

You see, the human brain doesn't cope well with all of the information it is sent by the eyes, and so it filters the information it receives. Having a focal point helps to guide the eye towards the most important part of the room, and this relaxes us and makes us feel calm.

A decent focal point is essential for your stress levels and well-being!

Common focal points are fireplaces, views from the window or pieces of artwork, although (as many of you write to ask me about) the focal point is often the TV.

How do I know what my focal point should be?

Some rooms have really obvious natural focal points, like a fireplace or a beautifully framed view for example. 

But sometimes the focal point isn't that obvious and you may need to go looking for it.

Do you remember that home design programme with the architect, George Clarke, where he used to spray paint the whole room white before designing a space? He sprayed the walls, the floor, the windows, the bannisters- everything- white. This enabled him to show the homeowner the bare bones of the room, and highlighted where the main focal point and architectural features were. 

Now I'm not suggesting that you go and spray your room white; but you can use your imagination instead to similar effect.

Visualise the space in your room, with all of the furniture removed or stripped back, and just the architectural features on show. What would immediately jump out at you? Where is your eye naturally drawn? This is often a good place to start.

How do I emphasise the focal point?

Once you have identified the natural focal point in your room, you need to bring attention to it. This can be done in several ways. If your focal point is a fireplace, dress the mantle with decorative objects, and place a mirror or artwork above it. Paint the chimney breast a contrasting colour to the rest of the room, making it clear where the eye should land.

This room clearly has a beautiful window as its focal point, but it's crying out to have attention drawn to it. At the moment, the eye just bounces around the room, not knowing where to rest. 

This room clearly has a beautiful window as its focal point, but it's crying out to have attention drawn to it. At the moment, the eye just bounces around the room, not knowing where to rest. 

Arranging furniture around a focal point is also a good way to emphasise where the star of the room is. People naturally navigate towards seating arrangements, and so placing your furniture facing your focal point emphasises this.

Photographers use the concept of 'leading lines' to compose their images, where elements within the image lead the eye towards the focal point of a composition. The same principle can be used in interior design, by arranging furniture to point towards a focal point.

What if I don't have a focal point?

Especially in modern homes, focal points can be lacking. But a focal point doesn't have to be an architectural feature, or a wonderful view, and if you find yourself without somewhere for the eye to rest, you can create your own focal point relatively easily.

Image via IdealHome.co.uk with permission.

Image via IdealHome.co.uk with permission.

A large piece of imposing wall art, a grid of photographs or a gallery wall with objets d'interest is a sure fire way of drawing attention to an otherwise blank wall. Creating a feature wall with wallpaper can also have the same effect. So if you don't have a focal point in your room- worry not! This is a fairly easy thing to fix.

Can I change the focal point if I don't like it?

If you have a focal point which you dislike, and you really can't remove it, there are some things you can do to make it look less "bossy" in your room.

Play down the existing focal point by keeping the colours around it the same colour as the focal point itself, so that it blends in rather than stands out. If possible, box the feature in, or place furniture, plants or a screen in front of it to lessen how obvious it is in the room. 

Once you've disguised your unwanted focal point, you need to create a new focal point in the room to draw the eye. Make the new focal point larger in scale, bolder in colour and more imposing than the original focal point. Direct all of the furniture towards the new focal point, and try to bring in some leading lines (see above) to draw the eye towards the new focal point.

What if there is more than one focal point?

This question comes up a lot, and to be honest, although having more than one focal point in a room is not the best idea, it also isn't disastrous either. Some rooms have a beautiful fireplace *and* a beautiful view. It's a tough problem to have, right? ;)

I always advise people to choose a primary focal point, and to direct attention to it in the ways we've discussed above. But it's okay to have a second beautiful area to look at too. Just don't draw attention to it in quite the same way.

What if the TV is the focal point?

Well we got there. The biggy. This is the question that I get asked the most about focal points, and there is no one right answer.

In many homes, the main purpose of a living room is to watch TV, and function has to be considered alongside the look of a room. After all, we are creating real homes for real people here!

TVs are often wall mounted, and they are getting bigger and bigger, meaning that they are hard to ignore.

To make matters worse, all of the furniture in the room is often positioned facing the TV, which further emphasises that as the star of the show. 

Now, you could put your TV inside a TV cabinet so that it is completely hidden from view when you are not watching it, but really, who can be bothered to be opening and closing doors all of the time? 

One great way to lessen the visual impact of a TV is to create a gallery wall around it, so that it doesn't stand out as a feature in its own right. This way, the whole wall becomes the feature, not just the TV

Via Pinterest

Creating a focal point above the TV also works well. In the image below, the wall has been painted the same colour as the TV, and an eye-catching piece of artwork is placed above to draw the eye upwards, and then up again to the light fixing above. Against the black wall, and with these other focal points in place, the TV is hardly noticeable.

Clever!

Via Pinterest

Getting a strong focal point right in your room brings a sense of calm and order to your home. Allow one focal point to shine, and let everything else sit back and take it easy. 

Have you used any of these tricks in your own home? What problems have you come across and how did you resolve them? Let us know in the comments below. 

Until next time x

Main Blog Image via IdealHome.co.uk with permission.

5 KEY INGREDIENTS FOR A WELL STYLED COFFEE TABLE

5 KEY INGREDIENTS FOR A WELL STYLED COFFEE TABLE

(Prefer this in video format? Click the image above)

Most people have a coffee table nestled between the furniture in their living space, and most of us would admit that this fairly functional piece of furniture doesn't get a lot of love and attention.

It's often the dumping ground for remote controls, and it bears the brunt of our coffee mug circles. But it doesn't have to be this way! 

So why bother to style this little space in your home? Well, styling your coffee table makes your home look finished. It's the difference between having a home which looks complete, and one which looks merely functional. They don't call them the finishing touches for nothing.

The great thing about styling different areas of your home is that it doesn't have to be expensive (you can use items you already have or even grab a few stems from the garden) and you can swap out your display as and when the mood takes you.

People get really caught up in worrying that their styling has to be perfect, but that's really not the case. There are a few key ingredients that you need to have in place to create a decent vignette, but beyond that, it's about experimenting and playing. Even the best stylists I know play around with different combinations of items until they are happy with what they achieve. Your coffee table gives you the perfect, low-risk place to practise a bit of styling.

So are you up for a challenge? Don't worry, it's low-risk.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to take a photo of your coffee table right now. Just snap it on your phone. Done? Right, next have a read of the ingredients below, and then finally, I want you to play around with the objects you can find in your home and create a coffee table vignette.

I give you permission to play, to experiment and to not get it right first time! When you're done, come and share your 'after' photo in the Facebook group.

Are you up for it?

OK, let's read on! 

INGREDIENT NUMBER ONE:

A good table display (in fact any display) is made up of layers. We start with a foundation layer and then add in other items. This is what makes the decor look 'dressed'. The first layer that you can use on your coffee table is a table runner. This sets the foundation for the vignette and grounds the display, connecting your decor with the table it is sitting on. Now this doesn't have to be anything fancy; any piece of fabric that you have around, which matches your decor will be fine. Position along the middle of the table and leave enough to hang down about half way towards the floor. 

INGREDIENT NUMBER TWO:

The place to start when dressing your coffee table is to corral all of your accessories together. I highly recommend that you use a tray to gather your decor together. This has two purposes: firstly it makes all of your decor look intentional, and secondly it means that if you need more usable space on the coffee table, it is easy to just whip the tray off and place it elsewhere, without having to disturb your decor. 

Which tray to use? Consider the shape of the table. Coffee tables generally come in three shapes: Circular (or oval), rectangular or square, and your tray should match the shape of the table. Match either the room's colour scheme, or the wood or metallic finishes in your room.

A tray also gives you a place to hide the more unsightly objects such as remote controls. I use a small decorative box on my coffee table tray, which hides the TV remotes and those awful X-Box controls that the boys in my household insist on having. 

INGREDIENT NUMBER THREE:

Coffee table books- yes, they even have a name. A small stack of books gives you a horizontal element to layer on your tray, or next to it. The trick with coffee table books is to use hardback books only. Paperbacks just don't have the same luxe appeal. Be sure to take off the slip covers as these can look tatty. Stack two or three of them as a vignette in their own right, or use them as a plinth to raise up a smaller decorative object.

And yes, I do buy books just to match the colour scheme in my room, and I see nothing wrong with that! Charity shops are a great place to pick up books in the right colour, and you can often pick up a handful of books for just a few pounds. Just make sure to check the colour of the book underneath the slip cover before buying.

INGREDIENT NUMBER FOUR:

Now that you have your flat layers in place, you need to think about how to bring height into the display. A candlestick, finial, ornament or even a tall plant, like an orchid would fit the bill. Bring together a tall item at the peak of your display, include smaller items on the tray and then bridge the gap with some medium height items (like the smaller candle and the knitted holder in this image on the right). 

INGREDIENT NUMBER FIVE: 

Source: Image Left | Source: Image Middle | Source: Image Right

Remember that your display will be seen from all sides so it needs to have dimension from every angle. A decorative object is an easy way to bring in this 3D aspect, and if you can include objects which are rounded or look the same from all sides, then so much the better. There are endless items that you can use to bring depth and variety to your display. In the images above, an animal ornament, a zinc letter, rattan balls and a glass terrarium have been used very effectively to create both interest and dimension.

So now it's over to you. Go and collect a few objects from around your home, and have a little play around to see how many different vignettes you can create. I give you permission to play, permission to experiment, and permission to change as many times as you like. 

When you're done, come and share your best vignette with us in the Facebook group. I can't wait to see them. 

Until next time x

Main Image Source: via www.Ideal Home.co.uk, with permission

PREPARING YOUR HOME FOR A SPRING CLEAN AND DECLUTTER

PREPARING YOUR HOME FOR A SPRING CLEAN AND DECLUTTER

It's that time of year again when the daffodils are in full bloom, the weak sun is gaining strength and everything starts to feel well.. just better. At long last, winter is well and truly over!

I know that there will be people nodding along with me when I say that I always get an overwhelming urge to have a good old declutter and clean of my house at this time of the year. It's not called a 'Spring Clean' for nothing! 

There is something lovely about casting off the warmth and snug of the winter blankets and comforters, throwing open the windows and filling the house with vases of fresh spring flowers. 

If you've been hibernating all winter though, decluttering your home and preparing it for Spring can be a daunting task. But it doesn't need to be. Here are my top tips to help you get your home looking ship-shape and Spring-ready in no time.

1. Prepare Yourself.

Before you even pick up a duster, make sure that you have everything you need to get your home cleared. Get sufficient boxes for your needs; I suggest a box for items going to charity, one for recycling, and one for the tip. Make sure that the charity shops and recycling centres are open on the days that you are clearing out so that you can get the clutter right out of your home once you are done. 

2. Start in one area only.

Don't try to tackle the whole house at once. Choose just one room, and within that room just one cupboard or shelf and begin there. Commit to finishing that area in its entirety before moving onto anywhere else. 

3. Set the timer

We start off decluttering in a state of enthusiasm, imagining well folded clothes, clear floors and minimalist shelving but after working on an area for a few hours you can easily lose motivation and give up. Using the 'Pomodoro' technique can help you to get past these motivation blockers.

The what technique? The Podomoro technique is simply a way to block out period of time to keep you focussed on a task. Simply set an alarm for a small amount of time (between 19 and 25 minutes is about right) and commit to tidying and clearing until the alarm goes off. Once the timer goes off, you can decide to call it a day, or you can commit to doing another round of 19 minutes. This gives you clear, targeted periods of intense work, but also the option to stop once you've had enough. 

4. Remove everything

Yes, that's right: Everything. Take every item off of the shelf, remove everything from your closet. This ensures that you are making conscious decisions about what you are going to keep, and what you are going to rid yourself of. Anything that you put back has to be something that you are making an intentional decision about. Maria Kondo tells us that we should only keep objects which 'spark joy'. If it's not useful, and you don't love it, it's time for it to go. 

5. Pare down your Clothing

Look, I know that you loved those bright red hot pants and when you lose a stone, they will look great again. But the truth is that keeping old clothing like this is just clutter masquerading as something you think you need to keep. Weed out clothes that you haven't worn for 12 months, clothes that don't fit and clothes that just don't 'spark joy' (see above). And when you lose that stone? Wouldn't you rather treat yourself to something new? Get rid of those hot pants now!

Make extra room in your closet for seasonal Spring clothing by packaging up your chunky winter knits and vacuum packing them before storing them under a bed. 

6. Get on top of your paperwork

Ugh, we all know the clutter that is caused by piles of paperwork and magazines. Use one of your 19 minute slots to commit to removing one pile of papers. There are very few documents that need to be kept in hard copy format these days, so unless it's something like a birth certificate or the deeds of your house, photograph or scan the paperwork and store it in an electronic folder, and then shred and recycle the paper. 

7. Stop Hoarding

Seriously. You do not need 3 different phone chargers, 8 tins of chopped tomatoes and those cut off pieces of wood "just in case". Those "just in case" items are holding you back from having a home that you love. Purge, and stop hoarding once and for all. 

8. Source Sufficient Storage

A quick caveat here: getting sufficient storage isn't an excuse for you to keep the cr*p that you should have been purging in the steps above. As William Morris once said, have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful". Outside of that, chuck it!

However, once you've whittled everything down to just those things that you really do need and want to keep, it makes everything a lot tidier if you have somewhere specific to store it all. A place for everything and everything in its place is your mantra here. So firstly identify what causes your clutter: Clothing? Get another set of drawers. Batteries and Lightbulbs? Get a box specifically for that purpose. Paperwork? Get a filing cabinet and/or in-tray.

Don't forget to make use of the storage you already have. Wasted spaces like on top of wardrobes or under beds are great places to store items which are not needed on a daily basis. 

9. Get Cleaning!

And finally... get cleaning! Always start at the top of a room (so dust around the ceiling for cobwebs first) and then work your way down, finishing with the floors. 

With all of that done, time to reward yourself with a nice bunch of Spring flowers, or even polishing off the kids' leftover Easter eggs. Go on... I said you could ;)

Come and join us over in our Facebook group to let us know about your Spring cleaning and decluttering efforts.  

THE SECRET TO MANAGING A SUCCESSFUL HOME DÉCOR PROJECT

THE SECRET TO MANAGING A SUCCESSFUL HOME DECOR PROJECT

For some people, managing a home decor project can be exciting, but for others, the mention of a decorating project can fill you with dread. The myriad of things that can go wrong- costly mistakes, running out of money, cowboy tradespeople- can freeze you in your tracks and stop you from even starting.

But it doesn't have to be like this. Whether you are taking on a small decorating project, or a large-scale refurbishment, having a clear project plan sets you up for success right from the start.

Here are my top tips for planning a successful project:

1. Be clear about the scope of your project

Ever started to paint a bedroom and then it turns into buying new bedding... replacing the nightstands... getting new lighting... and oh, the curtains need to be changed too? Before you start a decorating project, make sure that you are clear about the extent of the project, and what you are trying to achieve. Changing the scope of the project part way through (known as scope creep) can get expensive very quickly!

2. Start with the end in mind

Most people decorate a room in stages. They choose a wall colour, paint it on, and then start to bring in furniture, soft furnishings and accessories. As they go along, they find items they like and include them in the scheme piece by piece, But after a while, they become stuck and unsure of which cushion patterns to choose, which accessories to bring in, and which artwork to choose. They're not sure how to style a space, or which colours go together well. Sound familiar? It should do because it's how 90% of us decorate our homes. 

The trouble with this approach is that you haven't started with the end scheme in mind. You have a rough idea of how the room will look, but you haven't really planned out the detail. Interior designers plan out a complete room scheme from start to finish, and this ensures that they end up with a complete and cohesive scheme. So before you pick up a paint brush, be sure to plan out all of the details. Bring them all together in a mood board so that you can check all your finishes before you begin. 

If you need help to plan out your home, come and join my course, Design Your Home Like A Pro, which teaches you to do just that. #shamelessplug

 

3. Create a Budget Plan

As you are creating your design scheme, you should also create a budget plan at the same time. Many people start a decorating project with their heads buried in the sand, not wanting to face up to how much it's going to cost. Instead of hiding from the costs, creating a budget plan actually liberates you because you can see all of your costs from the start, and you can make choices about where to spend, and where to save.

There are two ways that you can build a budget. Either decide how much you are going to spend, and then choose accessories and items which fit into this sum, or choose the things you want to have, cost them and that's how you arrive at you budget. 

Personally, I always recommend the second method, even if it means that you have to save to get what you want. After all, if you make too many compromises, you'll never end up with a home you love, and what's the point of that?

When putting your budget plan together, be sure to research every item you want to include so that there are no nasty pricing surprises once your project starts. Remember also to include the costs of items such as paint brushes, sandpaper and delivery costs, which don't immediately come to mind. Cost out not just the items you want to include, but get quotations for labour too. Make sure that you are getting 'quotations' and not 'estimates', as hidden costs can escalate quickly. Get fixed prices where possible.

And finally, always include a contingency within your budget in case anything goes wrong. 10% is a good rule of thumb to allow.

4. Create a Task Timeline

Once you are clear about your project and your design scheme, you need to break down each large task into smaller tasks so that you can see the full extent of the work that is needed. You can then begin to assign timescales to each of the tasks within the project to make sure that you are being realistic about how much time is needed. Simply writing each task on a post it note helps you to organise the tasks. Make sure that you include time for things like paint drying too. 

This also enables you to see interdependencies between tasks. It may be that you can't start one task until another has been completed, and this becomes particularly important if you are employing several different trades. 

5. Organise your workers

If you are employing workers to carry out some elements of your project, you need to manage them carefully. Before contracting a worker, get recommendations from friends and family, or ask for references and to see examples of their work.

If you are employing someone to do gas or electrical work, make sure that they have the necessary certifications. This also applies to window installations and wood burners too. Check with your local authority about any planning or other permissions you may need; this is YOUR responsibility as the home owner, and a tradesperson may not tell you what you need.

Share your timeline with your tradespeople and ask whether their tasks fit in with this schedule. Share the interdependencies with them so that they can see the 'big picture' and how they fit in with that. Confirm the timeline in writing with your contractors, so that they are clear about the implications of them falling behind with any work. Agree up front what will happen if any slippage occurs. 

Once the project starts, check in with your contractors regularly to make sure that everything is going to plan. Check with suppliers too that items you have ordered are going to be delivered when you expect. 

As my grandmother always used to say, "You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs" and she was right! You should prepare for some mess and disruption, and be ready for a few things to go wrong, but if you follow these tips, you should stand a good chance of managing a smooth decorating project. 

What are you planning to project manage next? Let us know in the comments below.

  

 

 

 

IDEAL HOME SHOW- LONDON- 2017

IDEAL HOME SHOW- LONDON- 2017

Unless you've had your head buried in sand recently, you'll know that the Ideal Home Show has been taking place in London over the past few weeks. I usually go to the show every year, because well, who can resist a whole show packed full of house, home and interiors stuff, right? 

For those of you who don't know, the Ideal Home Show is an annual event in London (although it also runs in other cities later in the year) and suppliers from all walks of the home design field set up stalls and displays to showcase their wares. 

Aside from the supplier stalls, there is also a complete mock up of a show home, which you can explore. This year we were treated to two separate show homes, a 21st Century Cottage and a block of modern apartments. 

To be entirely honest, I was a little disappointed in the show homes this year. On the positive side, the schemes were all very competent, and any of us would be proud to own a home like the ones on show, but they just all felt a little... well... pedestrian. There was nothing that made me go "ooo!" and want to rush out and buy it. I just didn't find them especially innovative or stylish I suppose and I go to the show looking for inspiration. Maybe that's just me, though. Here are some pics of the interior design and perhaps you can see what I mean? 

That said, in the rest of the exhibition, there were some really innovative and exciting suppliers on show. Green Matters UK were there again this year, displaying their amazing 'Living Walls', which are not just fantastic for the environment and improving the air quality of your home, but they look pretty neat too, don't you think?

Now, although I was disappointed by the show homes, the absolute highlight of my trip every year are the room sets, created by the talented stylists at Good Homes magazine. After my experience in the show homes, I wasn't holding my breath about the room sets, but I was delighted when I saw them, as they were as beautiful as usual.

What I love about the Good Home room sets are that they are always so cohesively put together, yet you feel as though you could create the look in your own home. They are aspirational, without being out-of-reach.

As those of you who know me will understand, I believe that home design should be accessible to all, and these room sets fit in nicely with my philosophy. In fact, Good Homes even provide a supplier list at the show so that you can go away and shop the look yourself. 

Let's take a look at some of the six room sets they had on show. 

The Living Room Set

Blue Pink Living Room at the Ideal Home Show

The stylists went for a modern take on a retro vibe with this blue and pink living room set. See how the furniture legs are tapered and there are several graphic and geometric prints, giving a nod to mid-century styling? The choice of blue is right on trend, especially those darker blue elements, as seen by Dulux's colour of the year: Denim Drift. The pink adds a softer, more feminine side to the look, all beautifully tied together with some accent copper pieces. My own living room uses these colours, but after seeing this room set, I'm sorely tempted to get a little bolder with the blue.

The Bedroom Set

Bedroom with Chunky Knit Throw Ideal Home Show

Oh man... that throw. Mmmm. Let's just focus on that for a second. This is the Tatton throw, and it's hand-knitted by Dunnknit designs, using unspun chunky merino wool. You can check out their Etsy store here. I mean, the rest of the room set was pretty too, but this stole the show for me. 

The Dining Room Set

Dining room ideal home show 2017

Quite a bold colour choice for the walls of this dining room set (it's Plush Parlour by Crown) but they get away with it because everything else is kept quite simple. I love the light relief given to the strong purple colour by the accents of mint green too (Opal Silk by Crown). Aside from the colours, the floor was a bit of a talking point too, with highly patterned "Zeina Galena" tiles from Walls And Floors. 

The Kitchen Set

Kitchen Set Ideal Home Show 2017

I do like a wooden framed kitchen, and this room set didn't disappoint. Mixing the colours of your cabinets within the same palette is a great way to add interest to a room which, let's face it, can be a little bland. These Laura Ashley wall cabinets are light grey and the base cabinets are anthracite.

Keeping the worktops wooden (rather than a white granite or composite surface) brings warmth into the scheme. Loving the peg board around the walls, which bring a Shaker-esque feel to the room, and complement the cabinet style too, of course. 

Now, I've kept some treats behind for you as I don't want to ruin the show if you're heading there over the next week. There's plenty more to see. The Ideal Home Show (London) runs until 9th April 2017, so get there if you can. 

If you've been this year, what did you think of it? Drop your comments in the box below to let me know. 

And if you'd like to learn how to design your own home like the professionals do, why not treat yourself to my home design e-course- click below for the details.

 

Until next time x

THE MIRACLE OF A WHOLE HOME COLOUR PALETTE (AND HOW TO GET THE LOOK)

THE MIRACLE OF A WHOLE HOME COLOUR PALETTE

(And how to get the look)

In last week's blog post we looked at the reasons your home just doesn't look cohesive, why it feels as though something is missing, and we asked what do show homes have that our homes lack?

And the answer? Cohesive looking homes have a little magic ingredient. It's called the whole home colour palette.

So for most of us when we decorate, we take it a room at a time and we choose perhaps pinks in one room, blues in another and greens in the next. But this means that your home doesn't have flow from room to room. Your home looks disjointed and as if each room could belong in any house. 

One way to create a unified scheme is to select a limited colour palette throughout your home, re-using the same colours in different rooms. Why would you want to do that? Restricting yourself to one set of colours is actually a good thing for several reasons: firstly it stops us from choosing colours on a whim; secondly, it ensures that your whole home feels cohesive, as if each room belongs together; and finally, by restricting your choices it makes shopping so much easier. After all, if you only have three or four colours to play with, it's an easy yes/no to many items. In short, having a whole-home colour scheme makes life easier!

What does a whole home colour palette mean?

A whole home colour palette, as the name suggests, means using the same palette of colours throughout your whole home. Now this doesn't mean that every room has to look identical as you can use the colours in different ways in different rooms. Let's look at an example...

In the home above the colour scheme is predominantly a neutral palette of grey, black and white, with yellow added to bring a pop of colour. Although the same colours are used in each room, they are used in different ways. In some rooms the walls are light grey, in others they are dark grey and in others they are white. Yellow has been used in different ways in different rooms: within accessories, within soft furnishings, within the bathroom tiles and within artwork. 

You don't just have to stick to neutrals either. In fact, the more colours you choose (within reason), the greater the flexibility you have within each room. The home below uses a wider palette which includes pale lilac-grey with yellow and aqua-blue.

The wall colours in the bedrooms vary from taupe-grey chevron wallpaper (top left) to pale blue (top right), pale grey (middle left), white (middle right) and mid- grey (bottom right). Accents of aqua blue and yellow are used in some- but not all- of the rooms. Each room is very different, yet they also look cohesive and have a sense of belonging.

So how do we achieve this?

Creating a whole home colour palette isn't rocket science, but it does require commitment and planning. I've broken down the whole-home colour palette into easy to follow steps. Grab the workbook below and follow along with the instructions.

1. Choose a foundation neutral. 

Choosing a foundation neutral acts as a backdrop for the other, stronger colours that surround it. The foundation neutral needs to be fairly pale, and not a strong colour in it's own right. A good foundation neutral would be pale grey, taupe, cream or a pale colour of a colour you like (pale blue for example). Your foundation neutral will be used for large spaces (such as walls) in connecting areas of your home, such as hallways and landings. 

2. Choose a dark foundation neutral

Take your foundation neutral and make it darker. Look at your foundation neutral on a colour strip in a DIY store and choose a colour at least 3 shades darker to ensure there is great enough contrast between the two. This will become your first accent colour. So if your foundation neutral was a pale blue, your dark foundation neutral might be navy blue. If your foundation neutral is pale grey, your dark foundation might be charcoal for example. Use your dark foundation neutral for statement walls, to highlight architectural features such as chimney breasts, or choose accessories in this colour within the room. If you are looking for a more subtle and grown-up feeling in a room, then you can stick to your foundation and dark foundation neutrals without bringing in any other accent colours.

3. Choose your accent colours.

Once you have your foundation colours in place, the fun begins: it's time to choose your accent colours! Let's dive into a tiny bit of colour theory.

The key to getting an accent colour to work well is to choose colours which create contrast. Using colour wheel theory can help us to choose the best colours that create contrast, whilst still going together with your other colours.

Colour wheels to help choose a whole house colour palette

If you're looking for a calming scheme, choose tints and tones of one main colour (so light blue, mid blue and dark blue for example). Alternatively, choose colours which are next to each other on the colour wheel (analogous colours). 

If you want a high contrast scheme then pick accent colours which sit across from each other on the wheel, for example red and green (complementary). 

The more colours you have, the greater combinations you can play with in different rooms, so choosing three or four colour accents works well for whole house schemes. Choosing a triad of colours, evenly spaced around the colour wheel works well, as does the two colours which sit either side of a colour's complement (like blue with red-orange and yellow-orange for example). If you really want to go for it, try using a tetrad (four colour scheme). Just make sure that you don't use too much of any one colour in the room or you will overpower the space. Use one or two accent colours in a room, rather than all of them at once.

You can have a play around with different colour combinations using an online colour palette selector. If you want some help with that, grab my video tutorial below which shows you how to create a colour palette using the free website, Coolors.

4. Decide which colours each room will have

So once you've selected your colours, it's time to plan how they will be used in each room. Remember that your connecting spaces will usually be painted in your foundation neutral. This is because you know that it will go well with all of your accent colours. Remember last week we talked about sight lines? Well if you're in a connecting space you are likely to be able to see other rooms, and you will want to ensure that they all look cohesive. Starting with your foundation neutral helps with that.  

Now take each room in turn and decide which colour you want the walls to be. I always advise people to keep walls fairly neutral or pale, unless you are trying to make a WOW impact. Colour is almost always best brought in through soft furnishings and accessories rather than big expanses of paint.

The wall colours can vary from room to room, as long as you are sticking to your colour palette. You can even use your accent colours as your wall colours, although I advise you to choose a very pale tint of your accent colour, unless you're looking for a wild look. So you may have a soft grey in one room (your foundation colour), but a pale yellow (one of your accent colours) in another.

Next decide which of your accent colours you will use for your accessories and soft furnishings. You may want a highly coloured room, where you are using several of your accent colours, or you might want a more pared down look where you use just one or two accent colours, or just your neutral foundations.

You can mix and match this within one home too; so a child's room could have all of the accents, whereas in the master bedroom you may decide to restrict the colours to the more neutral elements of the palette.  

5. Try out your ideas on a mood board

Once you have your ideas in place and your colours worked out, make sure that you create a mood board for each room in your home and put them side by side to check the flow. You could even create one complete whole-home mood board. Although it seems like a bit of a faff to create a mood board (I know you want to dive in and begin), laying the paint, fabric and finishes out side by side really helps you to see which items go together well and which may need further thought. Check out this blog here about why mood boards are so important (and how to make one).

Now remember, you don't have to change your whole home overnight, but if you have a colour plan in place, as you move forward in your decor, you know that you are going to be creating a more cohesive scheme, and a home that flows from room to room.

When you restrict yourself to a limited but cohesive colour palette, you will start to see the magic happen. The miracle that is a well-coordinated, well-designed cohesive home. 

So let's get going. Have a go at creating a whole home colour palette. Which colours will you include in your scheme? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time x

THE TRUTH ABOUT WHY YOUR HOME DOESN'T LOOK COHESIVE (AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT)

THE TRUTH ABOUT WHY YOUR HOME DOESN'T LOOK COHESIVE

(AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT)

I have a little confession to make... I spend quite a significant amount of my time walking around show homes on a Sunday afternoon, just so that I can check out the interior design. Anyone else 'fess up to that one too? I know it's naughty because I have zero intention of buying the house, and so essentially I'm wasting the agent's time, but I just can't help myself. Surely I can't be alone in that?

As I wander around show homes, I'm always impressed by how cohesive the homes look. Every room seems to have something about it, which makes it feel as though it makes sense as part of the rest of the home. It feels... cohesive.

Many of our own homes just don't feel like this: they feel unfinished or we have a mish-mash of items and rooms that don't really go together. Each room feels disjointed, and we wonder what these show homes have that our own homes lack.

Well, as you will know by now, I'm an analytical kind of gal, which is how I work out which elements of design work and why, and that's how I'm able to share this knowledge with you. 

So in all of my moochings around show homes, what have I learned? What is it about show homes that look so great? Why do they always look so finished, so perfect and so cohesive? And (most importantly) what are you doing wrong in your home, and how can you get this cohesive look too? 

If you're anything like most people, you'll be making the following mistakes:


The Mistakes You Make

Mistake #1: You tackle one room one at a time. One month you'll decorate the living room, the next you'll turn your attention to the bedroom.

Mistake #2: You buy decor that takes your fancy when you're out shopping. (Wait a minute, this is a mistake? Oh yes, read on...)

Mistake #3: You choose a new colour for each room because you are worried about being boring.


How to Fix It!

So now we know where we're going wrong, what is the right way to go about it? How do you bring cohesion to your home?

1. Start with a whole home plan

No show home (or properly designed home) has ever been created by decorating one room at a time, and seeing how it goes. Professional show-home designers create a whole-home plan, which shows the colours, fabrics and finishes which will be used in each room within the whole home.

There are many advantages to this approach: it means that when you are selecting your colours, your furniture, your soft furnishings and accessories, you are limited to what you can include. This might not sound like a good idea, but in fact, it actually makes it easier to shop once you restrict the options. Rather than just buying whatever takes your fancy, your purchases in the future must fit in with your whole home plan.

The images below are part of a whole home plan, created by one of my students, Lynn, during my course, Design Your Home Like a Pro. Although each room has different fabrics, paints, furniture and accessories, they all look cohesive. Each room looks as though it belongs to the rest of the home. What a great job she did, don't you think? 

So does this mean that you have to decorate your whole home at once? No! (Unless of course you want to). It means that you come up with a plan for your whole home, and every time you come to decorate a room, or even buy a cushion or an ornament, you check your whole home plan first to make sure that the look is cohesive with the rest of your décor. 

It's a bit like creating a master plan for your home; your own personal home branding. Create a master mood board for your home before decorating another thing in your home!

 (check out my favourite mood board tool here).

2. Consider Sight Lines

To make sure that your rooms flow from one into the other, consider how much of each room you can see from adjoining rooms, and make sure that the flooring, colour scheme and fabrics flow well between them. This is especially true of entrance halls. If you can see several rooms from your entrance hall, you need to make sure that the rooms are cohesive with the décor of the entrance, as well as with each other. 

3. Hit on a Consistent Design Style

If you want your home to look cohesive, avoid experimenting with different styles in different rooms. It's no good going Scandi in the bedroom, Country in the kitchen and Glam in the living room. That's the fast route to having a home which looks like jumbled mess with a mish-mash of items that just don't go together, even if you quite like the individual rooms. Research your style tastes for your home and stick to them!

4. Choose a Whole House Colour Palette

Say wha...?! Yes, that's right. Professional interior designers know that having a consistent colour scheme throughout your house creates cohesion and unity. Now this doesn't mean that you have to paint every wall the same colour in your home; it means that you use colour consistently throughout your home. Look at how the colours grey, aqua, yellow and pink are used in this David Wilson show home below:

Images courtesy of David Wilson Homes, with permission

The images are from one show home. Each room is decorated in the same palette of mostly grey, white and aqua, with accents of yellow and pink. In some rooms (such as the child's bedroom) all of the colours are used, whereas in other rooms (such as the lower bedroom) just two of the colours have been used along with the neutrals, black and white. Notice also that the aqua colour is a stronger shade in some rooms than others (the curtains in the living room and blinds in the upper bedroom are almost teal, for example, contrasted with the light aqua in the bathroom).

The colours don't have to be identical; but by using similar colours in different ways, each room looks as though it belongs in the same home. A cohesive "home brand" has been created. Never let it be said again that a whole-home colour palette is boring!

In next week's post, I'll show you how to pull a whole home colour palette together; watch this space!

5. Unite Fabrics and Patterns Across your Home

In the same way that you need to unify colours across a home, make sure that you consider the fabrics and patterns that you use too. Collect swatches of all the fabrics you will use in your home, and lay them side by side to see how they work together. For tips on matching fabric patterns, check out this post here.

6. Have Consistent Flooring

If you have a mix of tiles, wood and carpet across your rooms, this will give a disjointed look. Having dark mahogany floorboards in one room, leading into terracotta tiles in the next and carpet in another room is going to create chaos to the eye. This doesn't mean that you have to have exactly the same flooring throughout your home (although this helps) but you should consider the colour and the lightness/darkness of the flooring. So choose a pale wood with a pale carpet and pale tiles, or all darks. Mixing and matching just leads to a dizzy impression, especially if the sight lines mean that the different finishes can be seen from other rooms. 

So let's get going. What do you need to fix in your home? How cohesive are the different rooms? Download the checklist below and then see what you can do to make your home look more 'branded' and unified. Let me know in the comments below. 

Until next time x

Images courtesy of David Wilson Homes, with permission

7 INSIDER SECRETS FOR CHOOSING AN AREA RUG FOR YOUR HOME

7 INSIDER SECRETS FOR CHOOSING AN AREA RUG FOR YOUR HOME

An area rug can be the making or breaking of a room. As one of the biggest items in a space, it can make a real impact if you get it right, but it can look like a damp squib if you get it wrong. Whether you're choosing a rug for your bedroom, living room, dining room or other area in your home, find out how to get it right first time. 

SECRET #1: CHOOSE BETWEEN COMFORT & STYLE

Now hang on, I hear you say; surely you can have comfort *and* style, right? Well yes you can, but you need to identify which of these is the predominant purpose of your rug. You see, rugs can have several purposes. They can be used to create a comfortable surface on top of a hard wooden floor, so if you or your kids want to sit on the floor to watch TV then this will dictate the type of rug you want to buy. There's little point in choosing a sisal rug if you want to lounge around on it, unless of course you enjoy being covered in hard ridges when you stand up! Consider whether the rug is for comfort or style, first and foremost.

Beautiful Lambskin Rug

A beautiful lambskin rug from Modern Rugs creates a soft base for lounging on the floor.

SECRET #2: WORK OUT HOW MUCH TRAFFIC THE RUG HAS to deal with

Consider the location of your rug: entrance halls and living rooms tend to be high-traffic areas, whereas bedrooms for example generally have a lower foot-fall. This is important to consider because the last thing you want is your high-pile rug being trampled down beyond repair within weeks of being installed. 

Rugs with a low-pile are best for high traffic areas, and flat weave or natural materials such as jute, sisal, seagrass or hemp are good choices here. In a lower traffic area you can be bolder with your pile; consider sheepskin rugs for the bedroom for example, or play around with fun designs like pom pom and felt rugs. 

SECRET #3: GET THE SCALE RIGHT

An incorrectly sized rug can make you look... well, a bit stingy to be honest. Rugs need to look balanced and in proportion with the rest of the room. There are some simple guidelines for getting the scale of your rug right, and you can download my rug placement guide below, which walks you through these rules room by room. To get a feel for the size of rug you are thinking of buying, either draw a to-scale floor plan, or lay out sheets of newspaper in your room to check it out, before committing yourself to a purchase. 

SECRET #4: CHOOSE THE CORRECT SHAPE

Unless you have a rug bespoke-made for you, they generally come in standard sizes and either round or rectangular, although children's rugs often have a greater variety of shapes. A general rule of thumb is to match the shape of your rug to the shape of your furniture arrangement. This is especially true in dining areas: a rectangular table should be placed on a rectangular rug; a round table should be placed on a round rug (grab the download to get this right). 

SECRET #5: DECIDE WHETHER YOU WANT YOUR RUG TO BE THE HERO OF THE PIECE or supporting cast

Once you've chosen the type of weave for your needs, you can turn your attention to colour and pattern. Apart from the walls and ceiling, rugs take up the biggest surface area of your room. This means that you need to consider carefully how much impact you want it to have. Decide whether you want the rug to be a bold statement piece, or whether you want it to blend gracefully into the background.

If you have a boldly decorated room, then it's probably best to choose a neutral or plain-block colour rug. Choose one of the accent colours in the room for your rug to tie it in with the existing decor.

If you have a simply decorated or fairly neutral room then a rug can bring in a little much-needed drama. Choosing a highly patterned or strongly coloured rug can give a plain room the lift it needs; think of it as a piece of artwork. Just remember to echo or repeat the colours or the patterns from the rug elsewhere in the room so that it looks cohesive with the rest of the space.

Harlequin multi-coloured area rug

This multi-coloured rug from Harlequin via Modern Rugs acts as a bold statement in a dark room. The colours are repeated in accessories throughout.

SECRET #6: USE IT AS A ZONING TOOL

Many of us live in open plan homes, and rugs are a great way of demarcating separate functions of each space. Use a rug underneath a table and chair set to demarcate a dining zone, and use another rug to unify sofa, armchairs and a coffee or side tables in a living room zone. 

SECRET #7 CHECK THE CLEANING INSTRUCTIONS

New rugs look fantastic when they are first installed, but knowing how to look after them properly is key to making that new look last for longer. High pile carpets can hide a whole host of nasties within their long fibres; you also need to consider whether stepping on pieces of long-lost lego is something you want to contend with! But close weave materials have their cleaning downsides too: tufted carpets can look flat and lifeless very quickly and materials like sisal can be problematic if you spill something on them. Check the backs of the rugs too: rubber bonded backs on rugs make them a real challenge to clean. Check the manufacturer's information to find out whether you can spot clean it.

With such an expensive purchase on the cards, let's get it right first time. Don't forget to download the rug sizing guide below.

Until next time x

Main Image Source: Pyramids rug by Jennifer Manners

HOW TO ARRANGE CUSHIONS ON A SOFA

HOW TO ARRANGE CUSHIONS ON A SOFA

There are few items in an interiors scheme that can add so much impact for such little cost in the way that cushions do. Cushions are elegant, stylish and versatile, and they provide the finishing touch to a room with their almost limitless combinations. Cushions help you to add contrast, colour and interest, drawing together a design scheme in your home.  All this with just a few squares of fabric!

These limitless combinations are all well and good, but we need a more structured way of working out how to arrange the cushions so that we don't end up with a disorganised mish-mash of fabrics and shapes. So let's break this down a little. 

When creating cushion arrangements on a sofa, there are several things to consider before you decide how to lay them out:

  1. The shape of the cushions
  2. The sizes/ scale of the cushions
  3. The texture of the fabrics
  4. The colour of the cushions
  5. The patterns of the fabric

Let's take a look at the available options:

SHAPES AND SIZES

Cushions Shapes and Sizes

Cushions come in all different shapes and sizes, but the most common are shown above. Larger square cushions (1) tend to come in 24" x 24", or 22" x 22", and these larger cushions are best used at the back of an arrangement with smaller square cushions (2) layered in front of them. These smaller square cushions come in a range of sizes from 18" x18" right down to 12" x 12". The key is to have a noticeable contrast in size between the larger cushion at the back and the smaller cushion in front. 

You can add visual interest into your scheme by varying the shapes of the cushions that you use too.  So once you have included some square cushions, try adding in a circular cushion (3) at the front or to one side, or place a cylindrical bolster cushion (4) in the centre to break up the horizontal and vertical lines. Small rectangular shapes (5) are referred to as 'bolster', 'boudoir' or 'lumbar' cushions, and again, these look good placed at the front of an arrangement of other cushions. You can see all of this in action further down the page!

TEXTURES

Cushion Textures

Once you have a variety of shapes, you should also ensure that you have a variety of different textures in your cushion arrangement. Examples of different textures you can choose include knitted or crocheted (6), lace or embroidered (7), faux fur (8), linen (9),  macrame style or smooth textures like silk or satin (11). 

COLOUR AND PATTERN

Cushion patterns

Cushions are an amazing way to add colour to a room, relatively inexpensively, and as I said above, they are a great way to pull a scheme together. Make sure that your cushions pick up the accent and base colours in the rest of the room, so that they tie everything together. Use a mixture of plain and patterned fabrics to ensure that there is a balance of interest and balance. Cushion patterns usually fall into one of three categories, geometric (12), plain (13) or highly detailed (14). For more about how to mix fabric patterns, check out this blog post here. 

So with these rules in place, let's take a look at a few ways that you can arrange those cushions on the sofa, starting with the simplest first, and building up. 

#1 PAIR ONLY

Two cushions or pillows arranged on a sofa

Source: See bottom of post: Blue Cushion 15

Just using two identical cushions either side of a sofa gives a pared down look, but don't underestimate this: using a pair of identical cushions keeps the scheme simple and elegant, bringing in a modest splash of colour. If you don't like lots of cushions, this one is for you. Keep your cushions horizontally aligned: tipping them like diamonds is so 1980s (and not in a retro good way).

Ingredients: 1 pair 22" x 22' plain.

#2 PAIR PLUS BOLSTER

Two cushions plus bolster

Source: See bottom of post: Pink Bolster Cushion 16

Another pared down look is to use two matching plain cushions with the addition of a small bolster cushion in the middle. Choosing a highly patterned fabric (which should co-ordinate with something else in the room) allows another accent colour to be included. 

Ingredients: 1 pair 22" x 22" plain, 1 x patterned bolster. 

#3 Two Pairs Plus Bolster

Two pairs plus bolster

Source: See bottom of post: Blue Patterned Cushions 17, Blue-grey bolster 18

This is quite a more formal arrangement, which gives a finished look to a sofa. You'll need to move some cushions to sit down at this point, so they're not for everyone. 

Ingredients: 1 pair 22 x22" plain, 1 pair 20"x 20" patterned, 1 x patterned bolster.

#4 TWO PAIRS PLUS A ROUND CUSHION

TWO PAIRS OF CUSHIONS PLUS A ROUND CUSHION ARRANEGEMTNS

Source: See bottom of post: Yellow geometric 19, Blue textured 20, yellow round 21.

This arrangement works well because the two patterned cushions echo the geometric shape and mustard yellow colour of the pattern in the round accent cushion at the front. The round cushion adds visual interest, and breaks up the angular lines of the other cushions.

Ingredients: 1 pair 24"x 24' geometric cushions, 1 pair 20" x 20" plain cushions, 1 round geometric patterned cushion.

#5 Asymmetric

Asymmetric cushion arrangement

Source: See bottom of post: Yellow plain 22, Yellow-grey 23, Grey geometric lumbar 24.

Unlike the other arrangements above, this is a non-symmetrical layout. The reason that this arrangement works is largely to do with the distribution of colour across both sides of the sofa. So there are similar amounts of yellow and similar amounts of grey on each side of the sofa. Although the arrangement is not symmetrical, the visual balance is right across the two sides which gives the same calming effect. This look is less "matchy- matchy" than the other looks, and so it gives a more relaxed and laid-back feel, but it still look well styled.

Ingredients: 1 x 24" block colour, 1 x 24" geometric, 1 x 20" plain with a motif, 1 x rectangular bolster. 

Once you know the rules, have a play around and see what combinations you can come up with. When you've sorted your cushion arrangement, come and share a photo of your handiwork in the Facebook group. I can't wait to see them!

Until next time x


Image Sources:

Sofa: Bluebell Three Seat Sofa in Shell,

Cushions: 1: Facet Fusion (Harvest), Safari Fusion 2: Velvet Cushion in Mustard, Idyll Home, 3: Concentric Chartreuse Cushion by Niki Jones, Rume, 4: Brocade and Rayon Velvet Bolster, Ian Snow, 5: Twig Finn Storm Bolster, Black By Design 6: Crocheted Cushion, Nutmeg & Sage, 7: Chantilly Embroidered Cushion, Artisanti 8: Larvik cushion, Made.com 9: Christmas Linen Cusion Cover by V Living, DaWanda, 10: Lebe Nierre Macramia Cusion Cement, Sweetpea & Willow 11: Black & Copper Silk Cushion, Penelope Hope, 12, Cushion Geometric Prints, by Anju Aweingandt, DaWanda, 13: See 20, 14: See 17, 15: Quilted Cushion cover, Ian Snow 16: Honeycomb Cushion Cover, Decorator's notebook 17: Snowflake Cushion, In-Spaces 18: Beak Street in Blue Dove, Anna Jacobs London, 19: Facet Fusion (Harvest), Safari Fusion, 20: Cushion Navy Melange, At No 67 21: Concentric Chartreuse Cushion by Niki Jones, Rume, 22: See 2, 23: Linen Cushion with Hand crocheted star, Nutmeg & Sage 24: Harlequin Grey Cushion by Niki Jones at Rume


WHY YOU NEED A MOOD BOARD IN YOUR LIFE

WHY YOU NEED A MOOD BOARD IN YOUR LIFE

Most people, when starting a new home decorating project, do one of these two things: either, they see a photograph on Pinterest or in a magazine, and they set about trying to replicate what they have seen. Or, they take inspiration from a paint colour, a fabric swatch, or a piece of artwork, and then start to build the room around this. 

Mood Board App

At first, people often buy paint and put it on their walls, see what it looks like, and then they go out to buy a throw to cover their sofa, which doesn't quite go with the walls. Or they go and buy cushions to make the scheme less bland. They do a little, they stand back and see what it looks like, and they do a little more. 

Is this approach successful? Sometimes. And sometimes not. In fact, often not. 

Taking this piecemeal approach, and tackling your decorating step by step, means that you often end up with a mish mash of items which just don't quite work together. Something is off. There is no real cohesion. 

Question:

What is the difference between the non-professional home décor enthusiast and a professional interior designer? How do they get it right all the time?

Answer:

The designer's scheme is planned from start to finish before they begin.

Now, there's no magic secret here. Designers don't have a crystal ball, they don't have magical insight into what will go together (although undeniably this is a skill which grows in time). But what they *do* do, is plan a scheme from start to finish, before anyone picks up a paint brush or orders a sofa. And how do they do this? 

They create a mood board!

WHAT IS A MOOD BOARD?

Mood Board Dream Kitchen

Now this doesn't have to be as daunting as it sounds. At its most basic, a mood board is simply a collection of pictures of all of the things that you want to bring into your room. There are two types of moodboard: digital mood boards, which pull together images on a screen, and physical mood boards, where you use samples of the actual products you are are going to use in your scheme. Fabric samples, flooring samples, that sort of thing.

Physical mood boards are the final and most important step in the design process, because they allow you to see the actual finishes of the products you have chosen. That particular shade of green you liked on screen might look very different against the beige cushion when you bring them together in real life.

There's nothing more important than bringing those finishes together before you start decorating to avoid costly mistakes. But for playing around with initial ideas, a digital mood board is great place to start. 

DIGITAL MOOD BOARDS

Digital mood boards are a really quick and simple way to bring together your ideas into one place. They are also great because they give you a medium to communicate your ideas to someone else. This is really useful for trying to get a partner on board with your design ideas, or for communicating to a contractor about how you want your finished scheme to look.  

HOW TO MAKE A MOOD BOARD

There are loads of different software packages that you can use to create your mood board. Something as simple as Power Point or Word (or Pages or Keynote) work just fine. In fact, anything that allows you to bring together your images in once place. Photoshop is an ideal way to create a mood board, especially as it allows you to crop the background of an image too. 

There are several apps and websites on the market that you can use to make mood boards. For example, Olioboard and RoomStyler are set up for this exact purpose. 

One of my favourite apps for creating mood boards is called Board by Morpholio. It's an iOS app for the iPad, and available in the iTunes store, and it has an extremely easy to use interface. 

As with most mood board apps, it gives you a blank canvas, onto which you can drag and drop your items. Super simple!

Mood Board App

The app has lots of cool features, like a whole library of items to browse from in a wide variety of colours and shapes. There's something to suit every scheme!

Mood Board App Furniture

And if you can't find the exact item you want in the library, you can import your own photos. The pro version of the app even allows you to import pins from Pinterest and incorporate them into your design. How cool is that?!

Once of the neatest features of this app, which is missing from most others, is the ability to manipulate the images once they are on your mood board. So you can pinch images to resize them, you can rotate them and you can re-order them so that they are layered differently on top of one another. 

Mood Board App Images

And the crème de la crème of Board's features, is that there is a tool which removes white backgrounds from your images. This means that you can place cushions on top of sofas, for example, and see what the two fabrics look like on top of one another without the white square of the cushion background getting in the way. 

If you'd like to be walked through the app, step-by step, grab this tutorial below, which  shows you how to create a mood board from scratch using the Board app from Morpholio. Click the image below to get it.

Now the only downside I've found is that the app can sometimes be a little buggy. I've had a few problems with exporting my mood boards, (although it worked when I re-booted it) but the app is currently in beta mode and will be relaunched in its full glory in the coming weeks. You heard it here first!

So, go and have a play around with the app, and upload your mood boards into our Facebook group for us to take a look. Can't wait to see them!

Until next time x

Pantone's Colour of the Year 2017

INTRODUCING PANTONE'S COLOUR OF THE YEAR 2017

Whether you're into trends or not, the annual announcement of Pantone's 'Color of the Year' is big news in the interior design world. This year, the top bods at Pantone have chosen, "Greenery" as their winning colour choice for 2017.

Described by Pantone as a, "fresh and zesty yellow-green that evokes the first days of Spring", greenery is a refreshing and uplifting choice. Let's take a look at the inspiration behind this colour:

So who are Pantone, anyway, and why is their colour choice so important?

Pantone is the creator of a standardised colour matching system, adopted by interior designers, graphic designers, architects, fashion designers and printers all over the world. Because everyone sees colour a little differently, using the Pantone colour system enables designers to make sure that they are matching colours exactly, leaving no doubt about the precise colour intended. Each colour has a unique reference number to identify it, making colour matching across professions and across different locations flawless.

MORE THAN JUST COLOUR

But Pantone doesn't stop there. The Pantone Color Institute studies colour from a wider perspective, looking at how humans connect with, and are influenced by, colour. This year their colour selection reflects what they see as a human desire to turn away from modern life, and return to nature.

The more submerged people are in modern life, the greater their innate craving to immerse themselves in the physical beauty and inherent unity of the natural world.

Greenery symbolizes the re-connection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose amid a complex social and political landscape.
— Pantone

INFLUENCErS

What started as a small graphic design business has now morphed into a power house of influence. When Pantone announce their colour of the year, designers and manufacturers jump to include it in their offerings. Expect to see green everywhere this year! 

product picks

Fancy bringing a bit of greenery into your life? Here are my top product picks for 2017.

Pantone color of the year 2017 greenery mood board

If you're going to bring some of this year's top colour into your home, I'd love to see your photos. Head on over to share them in our Facebook group.

Until next time x


Main Image Source: Green Regeneration - product set by PIXERS. Click here to go to website

Mood Board Images:

1: Renoir Light Pendant, Där Lighting | 2: Bright Green Canopy Forest Wallpaper, Murals Wallpaper | 3: Scandanavian Cushion Cover- Tile Print Green, And Shine |  4: Large Round Hand Painted Tea Caddy Table Lamp, Besselink & Jones | 5: Green Glass Hanging Tea Light Holder, The Contemporary Home | 6: Lime Green Jug, Annabel James | 7: Ensemble Deux Poufs Design Carres Tartufo, KSL Living | 8: Oriel Chair, Green, Rume | 9: Bamboo Plant, Sweetpea & Willow

 

HOW TO CREATE THE PERFECT GUEST BEDROOM

HOW TO CREATE THE PERFECT GUEST BEDROOM

When friends pop round for coffee, they usually stay for an hour or two, and they spend more time talking to you than noticing what is going on with your home décor. But when those guests are here to stay for a longer stretch, they have time to notice in more detail, how your home looks. Create the perfect guest bedroom, and make your guests feel right at home with these 10 easy to achieve tips. 

1. Neutralise & De-personalise

If you are starting from scratch with your guest bedroom, think calm, relaxing, sanctuary. Keep your colour palette neutral, and bring in interest with textures and soft furnishings. Whether you are starting from scratch or using existing décor, remove as many personal items as possible from the room. Feeling as though you have been shoe-horned in amongst someone else's clutter is never a welcoming first impression to give.

2. Check your Layout and Storage

Plan your layout so that guests can get from the door to the bed easily, and make sure that you include enough storage for them to be able to unpack their cases. If you aren't able to provide a whole wardrobe and chest of drawers, then at least clear out a drawer or two so that your guests have somewhere to store their clothing, and keep surfaces clear for their smaller possessions. 

3. Plan for Privacy

One of my pet hates when going to someone else's house is not having locks on the bedroom and bathroom doors. Test the door to your guest bedroom and bathroom, and make sure that they close properly. Make sure that the locks function correctly, and that there is no chance of your guests getting locked in. If it doesn't work, put fixing it at the top of your priority list.

4. Provide Bedside Tables (Nightstands)

Bedside Table with Lamp

If possible, put a nightstand either side of the bed with a light on it. Your guests will not be familiar with the layout of the room, so being able to see where they are going, from light switch to bed, is essential in an unfamiliar house, especially at night. If nightstands are outside of your budget, try covering a wooden box with fabric for an impromptu bedside table. 

And if you want to leave the most special touch for your guests, why not print out this welcome guest poem and leave it on the nightstand. 

5. Clean like you've never cleaned before!

Before your guests arrive, schedule in enough time to give their room a thorough deep clean. Start at the top of the room and dust the ceiling and walls for cobwebs. Wipe down all surfaces with a damp cloth and vacuum or mop the flooring thoroughly. 

6. Test your Mattress

Having the right sort of bed can make or break your trip away. If you haven't changed your mattress for a while, you will have no idea whether it will be too hard or too soft. Try sleeping in your guest room for a night to test out the mattress a few weeks before they arrive. The mattress should be firm, but with some give in it. If it isn't right, it might be time to invest in a new one. There's nothing worse than a bad night's sleep, after all. 

7. Layer Bedding

Bedding Duvet and Pillows from Loaf

Goose Feather & Down Duvet, Pillows & Mattress Protector Source: www.loaf.com

Make your guests as comfortable as possible by having an abundance of mattress toppers, duvets and pillows. Think 'sinking into a cloud' and you'll do well. Duvets and pillows absorb a lot of bugs and nasties, so either have your bedding professionally cleaned, or think about investing in new. Keep extra blankets near the bed for those guests who feel the cold more than others.

8. Install some hooks

Guests will arrive with coats, dressings gowns, bags and more. Installing a few hooks on the back of doors means that they can keep their clothing and clutter tidy, and out of the way. 

9. Stack a bale of towels

Nothing says 'cared for' more than leaving a bale of fluffy white towels on the bed, for the guests' use. Leave them piled up on the bed; one stack for each guest.

Bale of white towels from Christy Home

Royal Turkish Towels. Source: http://www.christy.co.uk/bathroom/towels/royal-turkish.html

10. Kit out a tray or basket with handy items

Leave a tray on a side table in the room filled with handy items: a box of tissues, an alarm clock, and a water pitcher or carafe with a clean glass. If you have a guest bathroom, check that this is fully stocked with soap and toilet paper too, and ensure there is a waste paper bin handy. If you want to be a bit more fancy, leave a small basket of toiletries too with a "help yourself" message.

Or if you want to leave an extra special touch, why not print out this 'Welcome Guest' poem, pop it in a frame, and leave it on their bedside table? What a great welcome!

Once your guest bedroom is ready to go, you can sit back, breath a sigh of relief and, enjoy the most important part of having guests to stay: the fun and friendship!

Until next time x

3 CHRISTMAS DECOR SCHEMES

THREE CHRISTMAS DECOR SCHEMES

If you're tired of your same old Christmas decorations, why not try something different this year? Let's take a look at three looks which are hitting the high street at the moment.

1. THE NORDIC LOOK

Source 1

This muted, understated look is the height of Scandi- charm. Created by using hues of grey, white and silver with a splash of green, this look is inspired by the woodland. Use matt metals like zinc, and natural materials like pinecones and white-washed wood. Include a drop of colour with natural greenery like eucalyptus and fir.

get THE NORDIC LOOK...

2. A touch of glamour

Source 2

If you want a more opulent, dramatic look, layering metallic upon metallic gives a glamorous feel to your Christmas décor. Think copper, bronze and gold, shiny finishes and luxurious fabrics such as velvet and silk. 

GET THE GLAMOROUS LOOK

3. WINTER WONDERLAND

Source 3

If you want to step right away from tradition, or perhaps you have little ones at home with a penchant for Princesses Elsa and Anna, this winter wonderland will be right up your street. Use icy blues. cool silvers and piercing whites to bring this look into your home. You can soften the look by adding soft, coppery pinks and muted greys too. Think delicate glassware and soft faux fur throws. 

GET THE WINTER WONDERLAND LOOK

If you fancy trying one of these out, (or even if you're sticking to your traditional decs this year) why not head on over to our Facebook group to share your Christmas décor schemes?

Image Sources:

Source 1 & 2: Wyevale Garden Centres, http://www.wyevalegardencentres.co.uk/christmas

Source 3: Poundland's Winter Wonderland, http://www.poundland.co.uk/christmas-cracked