WHY PIGEONHOLING YOURSELF TO ONE DESIGN STYLE IS A DISASTER

WHY PIGEONHOLING YOURSELF TO ONE DESIGN STYLE IS A DISASTER

In last week's post, we looked at all of the different decorating styles that are out there. We learned about the key elements in styles like shabby chic, farmhouse, mid-century modern and more.

Undoubtedly, there will be certain styles that you are more drawn to and that appeal to you than others. Perhaps you like the comfort of country style, and minimalism leaves you feeling cold. Perhaps you find a glamorous look a bit too 'buttoned up' and you prefer a more laid back, perhaps industrial scheme.

We're all different, and that's great!

Different styles suit different people, and getting to know your preferred style is a great start.

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So when it comes to decorating our homes, we should just pick one of the styles we are drawn to and copy it in our homes, right?

Wrong!

Choosing one of these styles and just importing it into your home is invariably a recipe for disaster!

By selecting one style and trying to replicate everything about that style in your home, you will probably find that you end up disatisfied with the results. Getting to know your own style preferences is a great place to start, but it certainly isn't the whole story. 

Different interpretations of style

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As we saw in last week's style descriptions, there are key elements which make up each design style.

Let's use "country" style as an example. Country style tends to be defined by elements such as log baskets, checkered throws and painted wooden furniture. However, some people who like the country style may like uncluttered, simple design, whereas other people who like country might like their rooms to be full of accessories, animal busts and wall art of the local hunt.

There are so many interpretations of what "country" means. There is a French Country, Modern Country, Traditional Country, Farmhouse Country and more. Using the term "Country" isn't specific enough.

What country means to one person will mean something completely different to someone else.

So choosing one style is not the end of the process. More work needs to be done!

It's not bespoke enough

When we choose a design style for our home, we need it to reflect who we are as a person. Our homes are a reflection of our personalities, a place for us to express who we are.

The famous interior designer, Kelly Hoppen knows all about tailoring your home to fit you uniquely:

In order for your home to feel welcoming and comfortable, your home must fit you in the same way that a made-to-measure Savile row suit does.
— Kelly Hoppen

Although we can identify some of the key elements of a particular style, that's not the whole story. There will be certain parts of a style that you love, and other parts that you're not so wild about. You can't just import a whole style into your home. It won't quite fit you right.

You home decorating style needs to be tailored to you, and as unique as you are. It's rare to identify exactly and exclusively with one type of style.

You like more than one style

Let me use a food analogy here. In the same way that most of us like a variety of different cuisines, some of us like Chinese food as well as Indian food as well as Italian food, most of us have more than one preference when it comes to what we like in our homes too. 

Most of us like one of the design styles, but also enjoy other styles too.

If you restrict yourself to just one design style, what do you do about the other elements that you like?

If you like traditional classic design, does that mean that you can't have something modern and funky in your space too?

If you stick slavishly to one design style, then yes!

It does mean that you have straight-jacketed yourself to one look.

In reality, most of us like a mixture of different styles.

Creating a Bespoke Style

The key to creating a home which reflects you personally, includes all of your preferences and allows you to express your personality, is to get clear about your own unique, personal design style. What's YOUR vibe? What are YOUR quirks? What is unique about YOU and YOUR taste?

If you'd like some help to define your style, come and join our Style Detective Workshop, where you will define your style, and come away with a style description and look book, making sure that you never make a style mistake again.

Until next time x

HOME DECORATING STYLES 101

HOME DECORATING STYLES 101

How did you get on with last week's home decorating style quiz? If you haven't taken it yet, be sure to take the quiz before reading on:

Home Decor Quiz

The first step in your journey to creating a cohesive home is about defining the decorating style you want to use.

In the same way that we all have preferences about what we like to eat and drink, and the entertainment we enjoy, we all have a decorating style that we are drawn to, even if we don't immediately know what that it.

In actual fact, most of us like a mixture of different styles, and different parts of different styles. 

We might like a little bit of industrial mixed with a bit of country and the odd contemporary piece thrown in for contrast. Or we might like some really traditional pieces but with something more wacky thrown in too. 

That's all good!

But as a starting point, we need to know what 'styles' are out there, so that we can begin to piece together a complete picture of what we like.

Here's a glossary of the 10 most common design styles to get you thinking about which elements you like in your own home:

1. Country Style

Country style is one of the most popular decorating design styles. Country schemes focus on comfort, and so we see fabrics made from natural materials such as wools, and chunky knits, Colour schemes are often pared-back muted greens, creams and browns. A roaring log fire is a must in a country home, and cosy is key. Country style is further split into sub-categories, such as French country (see shabby chic), farmhouse (see below), and modern, where some of the more rustic elements are replaced with neat painted wooden furniture. 

2. Farmhouse Style

More rustic than country, farmhouse has been popular for many years now. This style is characterised by rough hewn wood and repurposed metallic objects (farm machinery used as wall art for example). Vintage and mis-matched furniture is key to achieving this look. Scour flea markets and reclamation yards for authentic pieces. 

3. Shabby Chic Style

A pretty take on the Country theme. Shabby chic tends to focus on an all-white colour scheme, with painted wooden furniture and lace table coverings, which also crosses over with the 'French country' design style too. Called shabby for a reason, the more worn the furniture the better, and upcycling and vintage finds are perfect for this look.

4. Scandi Style

Scandinavian design has exploded into the main stream in recent years. Characterised by simple, unfussy design, Scandi is a fusion of practicality and comfort. Colour schemes are usually white, or pale grey, and softness is brought in through animal furs and sheepskin. There is a real focus on practicality, but in Scandi schemes, form and function usually marry together well.

5. Coastal Style

Like country, coastal is a popular look too. It usually comprises a white and blue colour scheme with splashed of red, with ticking stripes and natural fabrics used in abundance. In more predictable designs, stereotypical seaside paraphernalia such as fisherman's knots, life rings and lighthouses are included, but more modern coastal designs steer away from these predictable accessories and focus instead on creating light and breezy spaces.

6. Industrial Style

Industrial design draws inspiration from utilitarian buildings such as factories and warehouses, and hails back to the days of New York loft living. Think bare bricks, worn leather sofas and exposed industrial pipes. Concrete surfaces and vintage furniture fit right in here.

7. Mid-Century Modern Style

Inspired by the interior design of the 1930-1960s, mid-century modern design is as popular today as it was back then. It's characterised by both geometric and organic shapes and patterns, simple framed furniture and bold colour schemes. Iconic designers of this period gave us design classics such as the Eames chair and Andy Warhol artwork.

8. Bohemian (Boho) Style

Boho is a good look for people who want to live relaxed, freely and with lots of cultural references. Boho style is colourful and eclectic, full of ethnic fabrics, patterned rugs and tie-died cloths, moroccan lanterns and plenty of houseplants.

9. Minimalist Style

For those who dislike clutter, and enjoy a clean and ordered life, minimalism could be for you. Some people think of minimalism as cold and hard, but it doesn't have to be. Inspired by Japanese interiors, minimalist spaces use the bare essentials, but what is included is beautiful and makes a statement. 

10. Eclectic Style

The polar opposite of minimalist style, eclectic schemes are difficult to categorise, as they comprise so many elements. Bringing together many disparate elements is actually quite tricky to pull off, but choosing items in a consistent colour theme helps to unite the room. Ideal for rule breakers, the eclectic style really lets you express yourself in your home.

So now we've covered some of the main styles, next week we dive into looking at why choosing just one of these styles is a big mistake- and what you should be doing instead!

If you haven't yet taken the style quiz, click below.

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Until next time x

 

HOW TO DEFINE YOUR HOME DECORATING STYLE

HOW TO DEFINE YOUR HOME DECORATING STYLE

Confession time.

Back before I trained in interior design, I was pretty useless at decorating my home.

I'd have an idea in my head, and I'd start to decorate, buying new things and bringing them home, painting my walls or changing out my décor.

But once I'd finished, I'd stand back and be disappointed. The end result never really turned out how I wanted (or expected it to).

I couldn't understand it.

I would spend hours drooling over the stylish pictures in magazines (I had a serious magazine subscription habit) and I'd spend hours in Pinterest, only to be disappointed and frustrated that I couldn't achieve the same looks.

Sound familiar?

What I didn't know then, but I do know now, is that there is a process you need to follow when you are designing a room.

You can't just start with buying a few things and hoping for the best.

It starts with a plan!

And that plan has to have an end vision of what you want the room to look like.

And that means, before you do anything else, you have to be crystal clear on the sort of style you want to achieve in your home.

But I don't know what my style is!

So you've probably heard words used to describe different styles like, 'shabby chic', 'farmhouse', 'boho' and 'mid-century modern' design styles, for example, but it's difficult to know what all of the styles mean, and whether they are a good fit for you, let alone how you start to achieve them.

You see, style is about so much more than the clothes you wear or the items you choose for your home. Style is about who you are as a person. If you're a relaxed, laid back and casual sort of person you're going to have a very different home décor style to someone who is a go-getting, city-slicking kind of person, right?

Style is about who you are, as a person.
— Kate Hatherell, The Home Design School

And that's why it's so important that you define your style before you begin to decorate.

The starting point to find out your style is by working out the sorts of things you like to have in your life and your home, the elements of your personality that you want your home to reflect. 

Make sense?

Good!

To help start you on the journey to defining your own home decor style, I've put together a fun little quiz for you.

Now I'm not going to pretend that this is going to make you into a style expert overnight, but it's going to put you on the right path towards defining your style.

So, take the quiz below, and be sure to stay tuned for next week's blog post, where I'll be giving you the low-down on all of the different styles that are out there, and some more information about your style results from the quiz. It's going to be epic!

Take action now. Here's the quiz:

Home Decor Quiz

Until next time x

SETTING HOME DECORATING GOALS FOR THE NEW YEAR

SETTING HOME DECORATING GOALS FOR THE NEW YEAR

I have to admit that I used to be awful at setting goals. Not just goals for my home, but goals for anything. Goals for my business, goals for my family life, financial goals. You name it, I would avoid setting goals wherever I could.

Goals to me were a form of straightjacket. A sure-fire way to put a lid on creativity and spontaneity. 

And of course, if I didn't meet the goals I set, they were also a marker of failure.

So you can see why I never set goals for myself.

However, when I met my husband, I started to see a different way of looking at things. You see, he is a goal setter. He plans out his work, his finances, he even has a "bucket list" of things that he'd like to experience and places he'd like to visit.

And I have to say, that over the years, all of this goal setting has rubbed off on me as I've seen the positive impact that it has.   

Rather than being a straightjacket, having a plan means that you can achieve what you want to. It actually enables your goals, and gives you freedom. The opposite of what I thought it did!

When it comes to decorating our homes, having a plan is an absolutely essential tool. And it saddens me because I see so many people skipping the planning process time and time again.

Not planning is one of the biggest mistakes that people can make when it comes to decorating their homes!

Of course, achieving the home of your dreams is not as easy as just saying what you want to happen. You need to have a plan in place, to make sure that your goals area realistic and achievable. 

Let's take a look at how to create a home decor plan for the coming year:

1. Be clear about what you want to achieve

Ideas in our head like, "I want a beautiful home" are not specific enough. Of course, we'd all like a beautiful home, but this is too wafty, too hazy, too fuzzy an idea. We need to get clear. Specify which room you want to tackle and commit to decorating that space from start to finish before you move onto the next. Get clear about how you want the space to feel and look, and create a design board before you make any purchases. If you're not sure where to start, grab my free roadmap below to walk you through the stages, or book me in for a consultation >>here<<. 

2. Communicate and Agree a Plan

If you share your home with a partner, you need to discuss which rooms or projects you are going to tackle. Clear communication is key here, and the more specific you each are about what you want to achieve, the greater chance your project has of success. Keep a list of "must do" projects and a secondary list of "would be nice to do" if time and resources allow.

3. Agree a budget for each project

Nothing scuppers a project faster than running out of money part way through, and nothing ruins the enjoyment of decorating a room more than arguing with your partner about how much the project will cost. Agreeing a budget up front, with costs assigned to all decorating tasks as well as furniture and accessories will make your project smoother. Always allow a 10% contingency on top of your budget in case of any unexpected expenses.

4. Set a time plan for each project- include all the steps that need to happen

Not only do all good projects need a budget, they also need a time plan. Make a list of all of the tasks that need to happen to bring your project in, and then look at your calendar to see when it is a good time to start a project. If you have a holiday or an important business event in the middle of your project, you may want to delay the start. As with your budget, allow some extra time in your plan in case anything gets delayed part way through.

5. Get going!

Finally, once you have made all of the plans, you need to actually take action and get going with your project!

Remember, if you'd like a helping hand before you start your project, come and book me for a 20 minute consultation here, to make sure you're on the right path. 

Good luck with your project!

Until next time x

 

Main Image Source: Tenvinilo

HOW TO DEAL WITH UNWANTED HOME DECOR GIFTS

HOW TO DEAL WITH UNWANTED CHRISTMAS HOME DECOR GIFTS

OK, look, I know, I know. Some of you might think I'm being a bit miserly writing about unwanted Christmas gifts right before Christmas. It's hardly in the Christmas spirit, and we should all be grateful for what we receive, right?

Well, let's get real. I'm sure that at one time or another, we've all been bought a gift that we didn't appreciate. We may have appreciated the sentiment and the thought that went into it, but the gift itself? Uh, no thanks.

The Dilemma

The problem is this. Your well meaning relative or friend loves you enough to buy you a present. They have taken time and care to select it for you, and they think you're going to love it. 

But what do you do if their taste is different to yours? Who knows what is lurking in those shiny presents under the tree!

You face the difficult choice of being stuck with an item you dislike, forever adorning your home, or you risk offending your loved one if you get rid of it. What a dilemma.

(Tip for everyone: always buy something disposable for your home decor lover- cut flowers for example- but never EVER buy something they then have to display for ever after. Do you want to give someone else the dilemma I've mentioned above? No! Check out my Christmas gift guide for the home lover here for some better gift ideas).

How to Deal with Unwanted Gifts

The best way to handle this is of course is to make those expectations clear up front. If you know they are wanting to buy you something, see if you can head it off at the pass. "Please could I have <INSERT voucher/ flowers/ chocolates/ a meal/ experience/some babysitting/ a donation to charity> for Christmas?" usually does the trick.

But if you haven't done this, and you're already lumbered with said gift, you have one of the following ways to deal with it.

1. Suck it up

Display the item for all to see, and have a home full of someone else's taste. But at least you haven't offended them, right? Hmmm... Sadly, this is what most of us tend to do because the fear of upsetting someone is greater than the dread of living with something we don't like. Crazy when you think about it.

2. Display it just when they visit

Oh this is exhausting. Always having to think about who gave you what, and where it is stored. And what if they pop by unexpectedly? Not the best option, but an option, nonetheless. 

3. Display it somewhere less obvious

This is the option I tend to take most often. Unless the gift is really hideous (see 3 and 4 below) I try to make space for the item in a room that I don't care so much about. It's not an ideal solution though, as you still end up with someone else's taste in your home.

3. Refuse the gift

Now this one seriously takes some guts, and I'm not sure that many people are brave enough to do this (is this just a British thing?). Explain gently that, whilst you really appreciate the sentiment, it's not to your taste, and you would prefer that they re-gift it to someone who would appreciate it better. Then put your tin hat on and duck. Yes, this is cringe worthy, but on the bright side, it will ensure that this never happens again! If you are receiving unwanted gifts year after year, it may be time to bite the bullet and take this approach.

4. Accept the gift, thank them and then donate it to charity

This feels a little bit duplicitous, but I bet there are lots of people who prefer to do this. For some of us, we will store it away for a few months before feeling that it's been an acceptable amount of time to get rid. The more ruthless of us will head straight to the charity shop as soon as they open after Christmas. This option allows you to avoid offending your loved one, and raises money for charity too. This might make you feel a little less guilty.

5. Put the gift away somewhere

Storing an unwanted gift (perhaps in the loft or a cupboard) is a common strategy. It means that we don't have to deal with the eyesore, and we hope that the fact it is never on display may give the buyer a big hint. You may get lucky with this approach, but equally you may not, and you may be faced with the same dilemma this time next year.

So, how do you deal with unwanted gifts? Come and join us in our free Facebook group to tell us about any unwanted gifts you've had, and how you dealt with them.

Until next time x

Main Image Source: John Lewis

 

TABLE SETTING IDEAS FOR CHRISTMAS

TABLE SETTING IDEAS FOR CHRISTMAS

Setting the table for our Christmas meal is one of my favourite tasks of the festive season. We are lucky enough to have lots of guests joining us for our Christmas meal every year, which means that there is no shortage of people offering to help us with preparations. But decorating the Christmas table is the one task that I selfishly guard to myself.

There is something very special about laying out the table with care and thought to create a beautiful display for your guests. It's about celebration and occasion.

So how do we go about creating a Christmas tablescape? Let's look at a few ideas.

1. To Tablecloth or Not to Tablecloth? That is the Question

Image with No Tablecloth: George Home |  Image with Table Cloth: Cottage In the Hills

When we think of Christmas dining, we think of special occasions, and in times gone by, the table cloth was an essential part of this. However in recent times, there is a trend towards more relaxed social occasions, and a table cloth is no longer a "must have" item, although it can still look very pretty. A halfway house is to have a table runner along the centre of a long table, and linen table mats to soften the look.

2. The Pièce de Résistance

Image by Brissi

Image by Brissi

The pièce de résistance has to be whatever you place in the centre of your table. Having a centrepiece gives the table a focal point, and an opportunity to bring the wow factor to your display. It sets the scene for the rest of your table: whether you want a glamorous look with sparkle and shimmer, or a more rustic look with greenery and burlap or hessian. 

You can really go to town with your centre piece, using lots of winter greenery and dried or fresh blooms. Just be careful not to get carried away; make sure you leave enough room for serving bowls and glasses!

Image from Lights 4 Fun

Image from Lights 4 Fun

A round table calls for a round centerpiece, but this can look good on rectangular tables too. A simple circular centrepiece of fern, pinecones and candles with fairy lights scattered throughout gives a laid-back, rustic feel to your table, and leaves lots of room for serving dishes too. Either buy an off-the-shelf wreath for your table, or push sprigs of winter greenery into a ring of oasis for a DIY solution.

Image from Lights 4 Fun

Image from Lights 4 Fun

In some ways, a longer table takes more effort to dress and usually requires more 'props'. Think in terms of one long line down the centre of the table and plan a display around this shape. Start with a long table runner, place a garland along the centre line, or dot miniature Christmas trees along the length of the table. Add a long row of candles, tea lights or battery operated fairy lights. Even if you are eating during the daytime, dots of light still add something special to the table.

3. Place Settings

No matter whether you are sticking to traditional red and green, going for minimalist white and grey, or you want a more glam look, there is a certain order to creating a place setting for your Christmas table.

If you are using a tablecloth, start here. It will bring the wow factor to a more formal table, and as most of us rarely use tablecloths every day, it does mark this out as a special occasion. Consider the colour scheme you are using across your table, and choose your cloth, mats and crockery to match.

Start with a cloth place mat or charger plate in your chosen colour scheme. For a more rustic look, put your plates straight onto the table, or use pure unbleached linen mats. Stay away from old-fashioned cork back mats (trust me, they are so 1970s, and not in a retro-good way). 

Layer plates and bowls on top of your placemat, and alternate the colours if you are able to so that the top plate picks up the colour of the placemat or other decorations on the table.

Top the plate with a cloth napkin, bound with ribbon, or a sparkly tree decoration, and add in a spring of rosemary, sage or pine for a flash of natural greenery. Either place your knives and forks inside your napkin ribbon, or place them either side of the plate if you are following 'proper' rules. Remember: knives on the right, forks on the left and dessert cutlery above the plate. Starter knives sit to the right of the main knife, and starter forks sit to the left of the main fork. You always start from the outside and work your way in towards the plate.

4. Glassware

Glassware from Laura Ashley

Glassware from Laura Ashley

Unless you are going for an intentional eclectic look , mismatched glasses look out of place in a formal table setting, and chipped glasses are an absolute no-no from a hygiene, safety and aesthetic point of view. If your glassware is looking a little sorry for itself, treat yourself to some matching wine and water glasses this year. Match the glassware to the style of table you are creating. Opulent fluted glasses are ideal for a wistful, romantic look, gold or silver dipped glasses for a glam look, and more simple shapes work well in a laid-back scheme.

5. Christmas Crackers

Brussel Sprout Crackers by Annabel James

Brussel Sprout Crackers by Annabel James

And finally, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the good old cracker. Whether you like novelty crackers or something more traditional, there is something for everyone. Tie the cracker in with your table decor by matching the colour schemes thoughout.

What will your table look like this Christmas? Don't forget to come on over to our private Facebook group to share your Christmas table photographs.

Until next time x

Last Minute Christmas Gift Guide for Home Decor Lovers

LAST MINUTE CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE FOR HOME DECOR LOVERS

If you're not like all of the Smug Ones who loudly and proudly announce that all of their Christmas presents were bought and wrapped before September was out, the thought that there are now less than 3 weeks to go until Christmas can see the panic beginning to set in.

As if that weren't bad enough, buying a gift for home decor enthusiasts can be an almost impossible task. Us home decor lovers often have very distinct tastes, developed and refined after years of analysing and defining our style, and carefully selecting our decor. Frankly, there is nothing worse than being bought a gift that, although well intentioned, we then just feel obligated to display so that we don't cause offence.

The Key to Buying Something Suitable

The key to buying something that your home decor lover will appreciate lies in buying less permanent additions to their home. Veer away from buying personal choices such as artwork or ornaments unless you know them and their style really really well, and stick to more disposable or consumable style gifts.

However, with my top picks of the season below, you should find the shopping task a little easier, and with all of the options available for delivery before December 23rd, you've still got plenty of time to get the perfect gift this year.

1.  Festive Foliage

Interflora have a great range of last minute gifts, like this beautiful winter azalea. The great news is that they are taking orders for delivery right up until December 23rd.  Not only do whites and natural greenery go with most design styles, they can be planted outdoors in spring if they don't suit the recipient's decor tastes. A fresh bouquet of Christmas flowers is a great gift idea too.

2. Scented Candles

Flower Lady Scented Candles by Chase and Wonder

Flower Lady Scented Candles by Chase and Wonder

Even the pickiest of home decor enthusiasts will thank you for the gift of candles. The candles are ideal during winter months to bring some cosiness to the home, and if they are not quite to the recipient's taste, they don't last forever.

3. Wall Calendar

Floral Wall Calendar by Papermash

Floral Wall Calendar by Papermash

If your home decor lover enjoys a country vibe to their home, this floral wall calendar will help them to keep their family's appointments in order, as well as looking pretty on their fridge, or in their office, but don't buy this if they have a modern, sleek or glam style going on.

4. Champagne Glasses

Champagne Serving Set by Black By Design

Champagne Serving Set by Black By Design

Christmas is a time for celebration, and nothing says celebration more than a set of Champagne glasses. Even if your home decor lover is teetotal, serving drinks in champagne flutes bring a special touch to this time of year, and makes a very special gift.

5. A Cosy Winter Throw

Woollen Throw from Urbanara

Woollen Throw from Urbanara

Everyone will appreciate a cosy throw to snuggle up in this winter. As long as you choose a neutral colour, and a good quality wool, your home decor enthusiast will be delighted with your gift. Even if it doesn't fit with their decor, they will still be able to use and appreciate it during cold winter evenings, and store it in a drawer or basket during the day.

6. The Gift of Good Design

Most people who are home decor enthusiasts love learning anything and everything they can about home decor and design. Give them the joy of learning this Christmas, with one (or more) of my short online courses. From style workshops to colour masterclasses, to full blown whole-home courses, there is something here to delight. If you'd like a gift certificate to accompany your purchase, just contact me and I'll send one right through.

Until next time x

CHRISTMAS COLOUR TRENDS

CHRISTMAS COLOUR TRENDS

A few years ago, I had redecorated our living room to include lots of pale pinky- purples. I had replaced curtains, soft furnishings and even bought a lovely dusty pink-purple loveseat from Sofa.com

I was really pleased with the look, until it came to getting out our Christmas decorations. I love our Christmas decorations, and I have lovingly added to them year after year, increasing my carefully curated collection. I have items from all around the world, and many of them have unique and special memories for me.

So when I got the box of decorations out, the last thing I expected to feel was disappointment. As I looked at my carefully wrapped rows of baubles and ornaments, I realised that they were going to clash terribly with my purple and pink decor. 

Now I know that for many people, they wouldn't care, but for me, having clashing decorations is a no-no. I just can't do it.

So back in their box they went, and I traipsed off to the shops to replace all of my decorations with pinks, silvers and lilac decorations, straight off the shelf with a heavy heart.

Once I got to the shops, however, I realised that it didn't cost as much as I thought it would to replace most of my Christmas decorations. Of course, they weren't lovingly picked over a lifetime, and they had no sentimental value, but they were pretty and - most importantly - they matched my decor.

Fast forward a few years, and I now have a much more neutral, pared down scheme in my living room with soft creams and greys. The pinks and soft purples are a thing of the past and against my new neutral backdrop, I can happily bring out my beautiful red ornaments once again t have pride of place. 

If you are in a quandry this year about which colours to choose, or you just fancy a refresh, check out the top colour trends doing to rounds this year.

1. Traditional Red and Green

Laura Ashley

Laura Ashley

As always, red and green is a classic Christmas combination, and this year is no exception. Select a few red ornaments to hang on the tree, and wrap presents underneath in neutral paper with red bows. Choose gold metallics to complement the red, and hang tartan bows for that country classic look.

2. Scandi Inspired Red and White

Homebase Christmas Tree

Homebase Christmas Tree

A red and white colour combination brings a fresh take on the traditional red and green and lends a scandi vibe to your Christmas. Use a white flocked tree and stick to these two colours for a clean look.

3. Let it Snow!

Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer

You can't get more wintry than an all-white scheme at Christmas. Install a white tree, and bring in white and silver baubles for a snowscape in your living room. Warm things up a little with black or wooden furniture, to stop the room from feeling too cold.

4. Warm Metallics

Homesense

Homesense

Over recent years there has been a real trend towards using warm metallics like gold, copper and brass, and this is now creeping into our Christmas decor too. Look out for lanterns, decorative stars and baubles in these colours, and complement them with pinecones. Choose a tree to help display them against an all green backdrop. 

5. Peacock Blue and Purple

Poundland

Poundland

If you're into a more vibrant look, then go to town with a strong marriage of purple and peacock- blue. Dress your tree with angel wings and contrasting baubles, and ramp up the bling with gold metallics elsewhere in the room.

Once you've settled on your Christmas look, come and share your decorating efforts in our Facebook group.

Until next time x

Main Image Source: John Lewis

5 of The Best Outdoor Christmas Lights

5 OF THE BEST OUTDOOR CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

Now that the clocks have gone back, the dark winter nights can seem to go on for a long time, especially if you are leaving the house in the morning and coming home at night in the dark. 

But rather than just sulking our way through these dark months, let's brighten up our outdoor space by choosing some great outdoor lights to welcome us home at night.

1: Create a  Canopy of Lights

A canopy of Christmas lights by Lights 4 Fun

A canopy of Christmas lights by Lights 4 Fun

Suspend a netting of outdoor fairy lights above the entrance to your front door to create a warm and welcoming walkway into your home. Set the lights on a timer, so that when you arrive home, it's all been done for you. Who wouldn't like to come home to this warm welcome?!

2. Line Your Pathway with Lights

Luna Moon Outdoor Lights by Babatude

Luna Moon Outdoor Lights by Babatude

Line up a row of different sized outdoor lights along the pathway to your front door. Use storm lanterns with battery operated tea lights, or for something more impressive, check out these luna lights from Babatude. 

3. Wind fairy lights into trees and topiary

Battery opertated fairy lights from Lights 4 Fun

Battery opertated fairy lights from Lights 4 Fun

Wind a string of fairy lights into topiary trees or plants and place them either side of your front door, or dot them around the garden. Choose weather proof, battery operated lights for a no-fuss solution. Green wired lights help them blend into the background during the day. 

4. Suspend a Chandelier (or Four)

Starburst Lights by Lights 4 Fun

Starburst Lights by Lights 4 Fun

Veer away from traditional Christmas lighting by hanging a surprising quartet of starburst chandeliers outside your home. With twinkling settings, these are sure to welcome you home in style.

5. Go to Town With an Outdoor Grotto

A range of Christmas Lights from Wilkinson

A range of Christmas Lights from Wilkinson

If you have little ones at home, or you just love the magic of Christmas, why not create a cosy grotto outside. Attach string lighting around your log store or shed, hang fairy lights from trees, and if you feel like pushing the boat out, throw in a woodland animal or stag head for good measure!

How will you be lighting your home for Christmas? Come and join us in our free Facebook group and share your lighting ideas for Christmas.

HOW TO AVOID SHADOWS IN YOUR LIGHTING SCHEME

HOW TO AVOID SHADOWS IN YOUR LIGHTING SCHEME

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

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

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

Directional Light Vs Diffused Light

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

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

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

diffused light (2).png

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

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

How to prevent shadows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until Next Time x

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

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

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

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

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

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

Identify your lighting needs

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

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

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

How much light?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ideal Brightness for Different Tasks in Different Rooms

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

For reading: 200 LUX

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

Dining Room: 100-200 LUX (ambient)

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

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

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

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

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

Let's look at an example:

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

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

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

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

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

Share the Light Out

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

How to calculate the lumens in a light bulb

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

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

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

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

Until next time x

Main Image Source: DarLighting.co.uk

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

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

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

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

1. The Type Of Light Bulb

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

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

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

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

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

2. The Fittings You Need

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

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

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

3. The Shape of the Bulb

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

4. The Colour Temperature of the Light

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

KELVIN Colour Temperature

5. The Brightness of the Bulb

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

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

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

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

LIGHTBULB BOX

A Quick Summary: Questions to Ask Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time x

HOW TO USE COLOUR WITHOUT BEING "MATCHY MATCHY"

HOW TO USE COLOUR WITHOUT BEING "MATCHY MATCHY"

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

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

Matchy Matchy Mistakes

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

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

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

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

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

Colour Repetition

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

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

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

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

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

Top Tips to Banish Matchy Matchy Colours

1. Choose a Variety of Accent Colours

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

Image courtesy of Ideal Home

Image courtesy of Ideal Home

2. Use a Variety of Saturations

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

3. Keep Your Backdrop Neutral

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

4. Don't Overdo The Colour

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

Image Courtesy of IKEA

Image Courtesy of IKEA

5. Use a Variety of Shapes, Textures and Materials

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

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

Until next time x

5 WAYS TO STOP A MONOCHROME ROOM LOOK BORING

5 WAYS TO STOP A MONOCHROME ROOM LOOK BORING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Natural wood

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

4. Use metallics

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

5. Vary the Textures

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

Until next time x

MAIN IMAGE SOURCE: IKEA

HOW COLOUR AFFECTS MOOD

HOW COLOUR AFFECTS MOOD

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

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

Big businesses know all about colour psychology.

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

The messages of colour

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

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

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

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

So what colour should we paint our homes?

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

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

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

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

warm cool wheel.png

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

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

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

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

Take a look at the associations of each colour below:

Blue

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

Green

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

Yellow

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

Red

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

Orange

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

Purple

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

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

How does colour affect your mood?

Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

WHICH PAINT COLOUR SHOULD I CHOOSE FOR MY ROOM?

WHICH PAINT COLOUR SHOULD I CHOOSE FOR MY ROOM?

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

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

Why?

Because the truthful answer is... it depends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It just doesn't work like that!

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

So what is one to do?

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

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

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

Until next time x

Main image source: Farrow and Ball

TOP 10 PLACES TO BUY DECOR ONLINE TO STYLE YOUR HOME

TOP 10 PLACES TO BUY HOME STYLING DECOR ONLINE

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

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

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

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

1. Wayfair.co.uk

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

Wayfair have a wide selection of home decor accessories.

Wayfair have a wide selection of home decor accessories.

2. Dunelm.com

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

3. Houzz.co.uk

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

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

Houzz online home decor accessories

4. NotOnTheHighStreet.com

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

5. Etsy.co.uk

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

6. Amara.com

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

Amara home decor accessories

7. Matalan.co.uk

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

8. HomescapesOnline.com

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

9. AlexanderAndPearl.co.uk

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

alexander and pearl home decor and accessories

10. Melody Maison

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

How to style your accessories

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

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

Until next time x

7 COMMON STYLING MISTAKES AND HOW TO AVOID THEM

7 COMMON STYLING MISTAKES AND HOW TO AVOID THEM

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

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

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

But how do those rooms come together?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like shelf-sized small. 

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

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

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

Just click the image below to find out more.

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

Mistake #1: Having too many books

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

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

Mistake #2: Not having enough books!

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

Mistake #3: Having an Inconsistent Colour Palette

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

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

Bookcase

Mistake #4: Using too many small things

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

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

Mistake #5: Not Grouping Items in Vignettes

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

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

Mistake #6: Visual Weight is wrong

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

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

Mistake #7: Not enough white space

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

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

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

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

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

I can't wait to see you there :)

Until next time x

TOP TIPS FOR USING A POCKET COLOUR WHEEL

TOP TIPS FOR USING A POCKET COLOUR WHEEL

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

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

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

Introducing The Pocket Colour Wheel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Reverse Side: Combining Colours

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

The back of a pocket colour wheel.

The back of a pocket colour wheel.

Tints, Tones and Shades

Tint Tone Shade

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

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

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

Colour Combinations

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

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

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

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

Colour wheel methods of combining colours
Back of colour wheel

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

Complementary Colour Scheme: Blue with orange.

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

Triad Scheme: Blue with Yellow and Red

Tetrad Scheme: Blue with Orange, Violet and Yellow.

And it's that simple!

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

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

Until next time x

12 WAYS TO DISPLAY PLANTS IN YOUR HOME

12 WAYS TO DISPLAY PLANTS IN YOUR HOME

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

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

Table top

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

1. Repurpose everyday objects

Catch Me If You Can mug by Sophie Allport

Catch Me If You Can mug by Sophie Allport

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

2. A Quirky Pot

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

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

Blush Hygeia vase from MiaFleur

Blush Hygeia vase from MiaFleur

3. Amaze your friends!

Lyfe Levitating Planter, Noxu Home

Lyfe Levitating Planter, Noxu Home

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

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

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

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

4. A Brass Terrarium

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

5. Glass Jars

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

Brass Terrarium via Decorator's Notebook

Brass Terrarium via Decorator's Notebook

Artificial Succulent Jar, The Contemporary Home

Artificial Succulent Jar, The Contemporary Home

Floor Standing Planters

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

6. Short Leg Brass Planters

Brass Planter with stand from MiaFleur

Brass Planter with stand from MiaFleur

7. Stilted Zinc Planters

Zinc effect planters by MiaFleur

Zinc effect planters by MiaFleur

8. Long Leg Planters

Floor Standing Planters by Black by Design

Floor Standing Planters by Black by Design

9. Bag Planters

Orla Kiely Flower Print Bags from Wild & Wolf

Orla Kiely Flower Print Bags from Wild & Wolf

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

10. Display Stand

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

Milano Shelving Unit by MiaFleur

Milano Shelving Unit by MiaFleur

Hanging Planters

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

11. Ceramic Plant Pots

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

Orla Kiely Hanging Planters via Wild & Wolf

Orla Kiely Hanging Planters via Wild & Wolf

12. Suspended Terrariums

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

Aculo Hanging Planter from Noxu Home

Aculo Hanging Planter from Noxu Home

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

Until next time x