Design Trip – Denmark

I recently returned from a design trip to Copenhagen, where the Interior Design department visited many museums, galleries and buildings to develop our practice.  What I noticed on the trip was how I have started to question design in relation to my visual cultural studies since starting the academic year.

In relation to areas in which my practice is specifically connected, I found that there is a real hierarchy of design ‘owners’, in that a small number of people have classed items as being of importance, and to that end the rest must follow suit in agreeing and accepting those definitions.  In terms of design history that makes absolute sense, eg: The Bauhaus changed ornamentation into form follows function and delineated all items, and given the age in which it happened it connects to social and economic change.   I do love modern architecture, especially Brutalism and post modernist hard lines, as it visually inspires me, but every item has a subjective reaction.
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Dressing for Success

Styling accessories in your home is something which creates mood, can turn a bland spot into a point of interest and enhance your decor.  If you know this site, you know that ‘things’ abound in my own house and I am forever arranging vignettes and little corners. People spend hours looking at them when they visit, and say they could never arrange things and create the same effect.  But that is where they are wrong, it can be easily done…

Here are some basic simple principles to styling your home effectively:

LAYER FABRICS

If you have a sofa or armchair, add cushions and a throw or two.  Chose contrasting and complimentary fabrics, and different textures also work really well.  You can change the cushions easily for seasonal changes; think chunky cable knit for winter and silks for summer.  Never place cushions on their points in serried ranks, it makes it look as if you can’t sit on the sofa for fear of upsetting it.  You want people to feel welcome to sit down and relax.

 

The same principe applies to windows.  You can ring the seasons changing by using thicker curtains in the winter, and switching to lighter ones in the summer.  Luxe looks can also be created by layering blinds, pelmets and curtains.

SYMMETRY OR NON-SYMMETRY?

SYMMETRY

If you are going for a formal look and like order and calm, symmetry works really well.  A chimney breast wall for example will usually have the fireplace centralised, and alcoves ether side.  Work in two’s from the centre point of the wall outwards as you place items.  Anouska Hempel is the master of this approach in a very formal, rich-toned style:

 

But the same approach by Kelly Hoppen has a lighter touch and is more contemporary, while still sticking to the same principles:

 

Work in even numbers for placing everything, centralise them, and you can’t really go wrong.

 

NON-SYMMETRY

This asymmetrical approach creates a much more modern and relaxed look.  This time stick to odd numbers for items that you are placing.  Work from left to right, or vice versa.  This looks really good on areas such as shelves and mantlepieces.

 

 

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You can also apply this principle to a gallery wall.

 

WHAT TO USE?

Anything and everything that you have to hand can be used to style a home.  You can make interesting visual displays of anything from mis-matching mugs to coats & wellies.  Books look great colour-coded, or go neutral as the person below has done by turning them back to front, although it might take you ages to find the actual book you are looking for!

 

 

Also, a great tip is to keep your eyes peeled for bargains whenever you are out and about.  Some of my best styling items have been picked up in sales, charity shops and high street pound shops.  Sometimes you can find great items at knockdown prices that can be used to style your home and have a high end look.  These baskets were picked up for  just £1 each in a sale, and can be used all over the home in styling with an industrial look; in a kitchen as below, in a bathroom for toiletries and towels, as pot plant holders and so on.  They look great as a group.

 

Some high street retailers such as H&M, Zara Home and Primark also have seasonal collections of very well priced and designed accessories.

WHAT NOT TO DRESS A HOUSE WITH!

There are some items which should always be hidden away as they are hard to use as display items when dressing and styling a house.  I have yet to find a way to make hairdryers and straightening tongs look beautiful… The same applies to dirty laundry,  cleaning products and mainstream packaged foods unless they are from a smart deli and have amazing packaging.

Also, unless you own immaculate shoes as in the picture below, always store shoes and trainers away.

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Fitted Cupboards & Shelves for Books

It’s been a bit quiet on the blogging front whilst I have been trying to plan how to fit the contents of a large house into a smaller one.  Books are the big issue this past couple of weeks – I have cleared the blockbuster paperback shelves and donated them to the charity shops, but still have a lot left that I re-read constantly including loads of penguin classics and art books.  Even after the purge,  I still have hundreds and really do not want to part with them  My tape measure and I are constant companions now, and I have spent days researching various options for bookcases and cupboards that I need to fit into quite wide alcoves in the dining room of our new house this summer.

They need to look something like this and fit the spaces perfectly.

Ikea hacking came to mind as a first option, with cunning combinations of shelves and mouldings – but I am not made on melamine, and even when painted it chips easily so I know it would drive me nuts spotting flaws on shelves.

I then got in several firms who build bespoke shelving units to quote.  Most were averaging £1K per unit.  Unbelievable!  For that I would get MDF, not even solid wood.

Finally I have found a firm online who can make solid wood ones to order for very reasonable prices. I supply all measurements and they make, deliver and fit.  It is millimetre perfect so is actually not scribed into the wall but removable.  I can move the shelves around to suit the book sizes, and they come primed and sprayed in any paint I want as well – all F&B colours or any RAL.  I am thinking plain white but I will paint the back beading a much darker colour to make things pop.

I am going for a combination of these library shelves below, but with doors not drawers on the lower part top hide the uglier books!  I just love the ladder – the unit will be 9ft tall so I think I can justify one!

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What do you think?  I am putting the order in this week… can’t wait!

Selling the house, it’s all happening fast…

We have decided to move back to the big city, and although I have loved living in our little country town I am quite excited about future events.

I am sharing some beautiful pictures of the house that the agents’ photographer took.  Those wide angled lenses certainly make it look lovely, and I cleaned and dusted for ages so it all looks very sparkly and unnaturally tidy.


We already have a house in the city which we are moving back to, which was rented out for ages, and it is bijou compared to this current one.  So I have to seriously get rid of a lot of stuff, pick what to take and discard brutally a lot.  We will be extending into the loft in the city house to make it sizeable enough for us for now, but with one daughter off to Uni this year and the other following in two years I don’t want to be rattling around in a big house anymore on my own, it’s easier for work, and I get some culture on my doorstep!

This is the size of the one we are off too…it has lots of lovely old Victorian fireplaces, floorboards and sash windows still in situ.  But as you can see I need to gather some more room as that box bedroom is teeny…. We will be adding a new bedroom and bathroom out of attic space, adding a downstairs loo under the stairs, and making a dressing room/study/something out of the box bedroom.  I am already dreaming about a new kitchen, how I will be decorating and the horror of shrinking my wardrobe.
Now to go and start on the clothes situation….Have a good weekend!

Dream Living Room Plans

I have been looking at a fabulous website called Arhaus who are based in the USA, and am seriously wishing they would open a shop in the UK, (hint, hint….).  Their collections are really beautiful, very classic, and I would snap up a lot of their items, especially the furniture, in a flash to use in interiors.

I have based the room around artwork by Fin DAC, who produces huge scale street mural artwork around the globe.  I love this image, and used it as the inspiration for the room.  It would look amazing as a huge piece on one wall, and he sells via online galleries so I am after one now… although I may have to save up a bit….

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Having recently completed a grey, black and orange dining room, I am still slightly obsessed with these colours and was immediately drawn to the sofa and daybed in the Clancy range, they are both traditional with the buttoning but have lovely sleek modern lines as well.  Plus, (and this is key for me), I really hate plumping up base cushions of sofas, so this is a dream design for me!

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Most Hit Posts of 2016

Today I have been looking back at last years blogging, sometimes done a bit intermittently I must admit, and noticed that the most popular posts always seem to be the DIY ones, so here is a round up of the ones that still get the most hits, and I only hope that as a result there are many Ikea hacks, Plaster Flowers and No-sew curtain pelmets floating out there now!  More DIY ideas coming soon as I tackle a spare bedroom in the coming  months.

Click on the photos to take you to the posts and tutorials…

DIY Plaster of Paris Flowers

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No-Sew Curtain pelmets

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Ikea Hack Bookcase

 

 

Slate Effect Painted Fireplace

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Moppe Drawer Makeovers

 

 

Christmas Decoration Storage

TOP TIPS FOR STORING CHRISTMAS DECOR

As Christmas draws to an end, it is all too easy to take decorations down, shove them into various bags and secrete them in attics, garages, under beds, and even in random places where space can be found, (I am guilty of the last one, for years my faux tree has been stored in an airing cupboard).

This is all very well until 11 months later, when you need to get things out and find them twisted, smashed, crumpled or just gone!  Fairy lights are particularly good at getting lost in our house, sometimes not turning up for a couple of years by which time replacements have been bought and then there are strings of them lying around everywhere.

So this year I am have a New Year resolution; packing away Christmas efficiently.

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Kitchen Inspiration

The Fixer-upper continues…

I am going to re-name this house’ The House of Onion’.  Two weeks of stripping back layer after layer of wallpaper, only to find some areas had wood chip paper stuck onto unplastered plasterboard.  AAAH!  Major replastering was expected as there will be a re-wire, but even so I just hate that paper!

But I digress… After stripping out the hideous kitchen that was, I have been planning the new kitchen.  I need the best look for the best price, and am going on the following sort of vibe: shaker-but-industrial-but-not-clinical if that makes sense.  The kitchen also needs integrated appliances as there is not a separate utility room.  The tones are mushroom,soft grey and white.

I used the following images for starter point ideas:

Some additions of black and dark grey in the room really punch it up a bit too.  I think a slate grey dark worktop and dark grout will ground all the neutral tones.

So now that the look had been sorted, I went down to hunt for reasonably priced cabinets ate various suppliers.  I tried Howdens, Ikea, Magnet and Wickes etcetera.  All were actually quite expensive when you added in the appliances, feet, plinths, and extras that are needed.  The best price was from B&Q, and they also drew up my layout for me so I know what to order.  The plans don’t do it justice, but I can see in my mind what it will look like at the end, however it gives an indication of what goes where.

So from this….

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It will go to this:

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But it will be better in the flesh!  I have picked a range called Brookfield in a tone called Mussel which has a wood grain.  The worktop is double thickness 50mm and matt.  The tiles will be metro bevelled with dark grey grout.  Hidden away in the cupboards are also a dishwasher, boiler & washing machine.  The double oven and hob are ultra modern black glass and chrome to keep up the punches of black needed in the room.  The sink is square stainless steel and the cooker hood is also the same material  The door and drawer handles will be cup ones, again in stainless steel.

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Still umming and ahhing about what floor to put in as it will be across the whole ground floor including the kitchen.  I am thinking maybe a pale grey to keep it light, but I also do like wood, and dark grey… any thoughts gratefully received!

Planning Christmas table decorations

Yes, I am really a bit sad, I freely admit it!  I spent this afternoon messing about with the dining table, china, glasses, cutlery and so on, so as to plan upcoming Christmas entertaining in advance.

We have 3 lunches to do over the Christmas period, including the biggie on Christmas Day, and rather than go into a spin with table decorating on the actual mornings themselves, (when I am supposed to be concentrating on cooking), I thought it better to know what I would put on the table for each occasion in advance.

Lunch Number One

This table is styled with fresh whites and greens.  There are lots of natural elements in those colour ways on the table.  A large footed glass bowl of hydrangeas has raffia curled around the inside to hide the stems.  Faceted tea light holders in clear glass bounce light around and don’t block eye levels.  Two porcelain flower shaped tea light holders add more candle glow.  The table has two linen runners on it, one natural laid in one direction and a pale lime green going in the opposite direction.

 

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Designs on Autumn and Halloween… Part 1

Pumpkins and spice and all things nice….

So now, as we head into Autumn, my thoughts are turning to russet tones, cosying up the house and prepping for Halloween here.  Although it is not a huge deal in the UK compared to the States, my daughters still love it and it is nice to see the tiny ones in our road trick or treating.  Saying that, they never trick, they just get treated to many sweets and goodies and we all have to pretend to be terrified.  I especially like the little girls as they always have pink wellies on under the ghoulish outfits – there ain’t nothing that will separate a four year old from PINK!

I have a stash of decorations that come out in the autumn; pumpkins made from raffia, witches, candle holders and the like.  But they are bit childish now for my elegant girls, so my thoughts are turning onto finding new ideas to make decorations still relevant but also super-stylish.  I always love carving real pumpkins with patterns, but they don’t last that long once they have been carved.

Turning to my bible that is Pinterest, I found some really nice ideas that are Halloween based, but a little more chic than my garish effects.  I am aiming to make some sort of decorations that are both autumnal but can also be pepped up for the Halloween night.  These ones are leaning towards black and white:

But is it very monochrome, and I think Autumn needs that orange in it, so these have a punch of colour going on…

So the plan is to get some pumpkins and gourds as a starter, plus some spray paint and start attacking.  I am trying to find some instant flock velvet type spray, as that could look great (but not sure if it actually exists to date?).

I will post the results soon….