Social climber: stairs can be more than just a way to change floors

This post is part of a series of tips on interior design and working with an interior designer.

Sorry for the gap in posts – September for the interior design world brings not only London Design Festival, but the start of what’s known as ‘silly season’.  Not only does everyone comes back from their summer holidays with plans to change their home in time for Christmas, but everyone whose house purchase started in the spring has finally got their hands on the keys and, you guessed it, wants to completely gut it and redecorate before the turkey’s on the table.  Things are kind of busy, shall we say.  But I am not complaining, it’s a nice problem to have.  And I have learned that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a few posts lined up ready to go rather than writing them on the same day as they’re published…

Anyway.  Last time we were talking tips, we were discussing entrance halls.  Let’s continue on that theme and talk about stairs.  If you have more than one level in your home, they’re kind of essential.  So why not make a feature of them?

Living etc, Oct 12

Pantone risers, Living etc, Oct 12

Living etc, Feb 08

Bordered runner, Living etc, Feb 08

Rise up

If you don’t have carpet or a runner, and you do have risers (the vertical bits), how about treating them differently. You could paint them different shades, tile them or wallpaper them with offcuts. Protect wallpaper with some kind of varnish to make it easier to clean the scuffs.

Shut up

However, don’t forget that carpet and runners deaden sound – if you don’t want to hear people walking up and down the stairs, it’s best to soften those treads with a little wool.

Tidy up

How about integrated storage / bookshelves? You can do this under the stairs, or around, or a combination of both. Take a look at these images for ideas.

Living etc, Oct 12

Living etc, Oct 12

Living etc, May 07

Living etc, May 07

Light up

Stairs 1

The Lighting Bible, p182

If you’re building new or carrying out major structural work, can you get some natural light in there somewhere, even if it’s just a skylight or a sunpipe (have you seen these? Very clever!). It will make a great difference. For lighting, stair lights are both practical and easy on the eye in the middle of the night when you’re stumbling about in the dark. Or the not so dark if they’re properly lit, especially if they come on with a motion sensor.

Close up

Unfortunately, building regulations now preclude open treads with a gap greater than 100mm and open sides. But you can achieve similar looks with glass and narrow wires.

Grand Designs, Feb 09

Grand Designs, Feb 09

House & Garden, Jun 09

House & Garden, Jun 09

 

Was this useful?  Do you have any ideas to add?  Let me know in the comments!

Coming soon – specific tips for individual rooms, lighting, tips on how to use colour, choose floorings, wall coverings, paint…

If you have any questions you’d like me to answer in this series, leave a comment or send a message via the website – I’d be delighted to help!

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London Design Festival 2013: my highlights

LDFOver the past week or so, I was able to get to a few design shows as part of London Design Festival 2013, so today on the blog I thought I’d share my highlights with you.

Had a great time at Design Junction, probably my favourite show.  I really liked John Green‘s furniture, particularly the Embrace side table / bookshelf / coffee table.  It’s not new, but it’s a clever piece of furniture that’s stylish, versatile and sustainably produced.

noble and woodNoble and Wood‘s modernist style pieces caught my eye, particularly the Cloud console with its interchangeable leather tops, and the Saddle magazine racks.

I popped into the V&A to see ao textiles‘ demonstration of natural dye techniques on their sustainable textiles.  Beautiful colours and patterns.

100% Design was a bit of a disappointment for me, to be honest.  Not much of interest for me personally and the Eco part of the show didn’t seem particularly eco, with many of the brands not demonstrating any eco credentials at all.  However, I did like Tom Vousden‘s furniture and Ilias Ernst‘s Timber lighting.

And onto Decorex.  Held this year for the first time at Kensington Palace, it was spacious, easy to get to, and full of stunning decoration and design ideas.

CuriousaAbsolutely loved these pendants from Curiosa and Curiosa.  Retailing from around £3,000 each, they’re unlikely to be a feature in many homes any time soon, but the handblown glass from Devon and the combination of colours had a mesmerising quality that was beautiful.  And more simple lights are available at a much more affordable price.

Hibou Home have a very cute collection of wallpaper and fabrics for children’s rooms – something a lot more on my radar these days than it used to be!

bluebellgrayBluebell Gray were exhibiting for the first time – some stunning Scottish fabrics.  They were showcasing their colourful painterly shapes.

I had a great chat with Mylands paint, learning about how they make their paint, and why they are different from Farrow & Ball and Little Greene.  Convinced me to try them out next time.

Finally, I heard an interesting panel discussion in the Seminar Theatre: Sustainable Luxury – a contradictory concept.  Can luxury ever be sustainable, or does luxury exclude sustainability by definition?  The debate grew quite heated at times, with Oliver Heath (eco-architect and designer) and Rebecca Whittington (co-founder of The Scarlet Hotel, an eco hotel in Cornwall) arguing that we need to start to think about luxury differently – space, light and beauty are all luxuries in this world and these can be sustainable.

This was fiercely contradicted by Cheryl Gurner of luxury bathrooms manufacturer Bathrooms International, who stated that her clients, at the top end of the market, couldn’t care less about sustainability, and that if it wasn’t rare, endangered or precious, it wasn’t a luxury.  She argued that it’s up to the designer to bring sustainability into top end projects by convincing the client to use, for example, a grey water system, or to make sure that when items were replaced, they were reused or recycled appropriately.  That part of the market will not compromise on finish, look and experience so eco is only going to be selected if it sweeps the board with the end result, irrespective of its eco credentials.  She concluded that designers can – and should – influence, but they can’t impose.

Joe Burns of Oliver Burns (property development) was somewhere in the middle, arguing that, whilst his business was built on the concept of ‘thoughtful luxury’, it was difficult to be the eco warrier when up against all the legislation attached to premium properties, which are often listed, in conservation areas and generally restricted.  No solar panels and air source heat pumps allowed.  However, they give consideration to all the options, all the way down the chain, to come up with a solution that is thoughtful and eco-aware – along the lines of how I work.

Oliver Heath went on to comment that contractors are the weak link in the chain, and I must say that this has been my experience too.  The contractors are the ones that rip out the old and put in the new, so what they do with what they take out, and the products they’re happy to use to create the new, are key parts of the whole puzzle.

The panel agreed that sustainable design needs to be marketed as an improvement, not a sacrifice, and that the industry needs to share knowledge and experiences, rather than scolding each other and consumers for not making the perfect product or the perfect choice.  As I wrote recently, there is no right answer,  you have to just make an informed choice, balancing what’s important to you with the big picture.

What do you think about sustainable luxury?  Did you visit any events in London Design Festival?  Let me know in the comments.

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Making an entrance: arriving home in style

This post is part of a series of tips on interior design and working with an interior designer.

Last week we looked at how to make a good first impression – how your home looks and feels as you approach it from the outside can make all the difference. This week let’s move inside to the entrance hall and make sure the good impression outside doesn’t fall flat when you get inside.

And if you’re in a flat, don’t forget the communal areas. Is there anything you can do between the main front door and your front door to make it feel like part of your home? Think of a better solution for sorting the post? Add a plant, a light, pictures? Can you personalise the outside of your flat’s door with a doormat, number, a picture?

Colours

Living etc August 2010

Living etc August 2010

You can be bold and experimental in a transitional space such as a hall, as people are just passing through rather than spending time. Consider making the hall dark and full of drama, then when you pass through into the main rooms, they will appear larger, lighter and brighter. If you’re nervous about making a big statement in your living room or bedroom, the hall (or guest bedroom, or downstairs loo) is the ideal place to try out some ideas – you don’t have to sit and stare at it but you may just decide that you’d like to!

Reshape

Use colour to change the apparent shape of the hall. A darker tone will appear to be closer than it is, a lighter tone will recede. You can create this effect dramatically, with highly contrasting colours, or subtly, with a tone just a few shades lighter / darker. So paint the end of a long corridor (or the door at the end) a dark shade, the side walls lighter, to shorten and widen the hall. Do the opposite to lengthen a small square space. You can also create this effect with the lighting – see below.

Recolour

Step away from white as your go-to colour for woodwork and the ceiling – look at the other colours you’re considering for the walls. If they are light, how about a slightly darker shade for the woodwork? What about the same colour for everything, walls and woodwork, with a slightly lighter tone on the ceiling?

Repaint

If you want to use wallpaper but are worried about durability in a space that is at high risk of knocks, bumps and scrapes, consider a dado rail with paint below and paper above. Then you can just touch up the paint when necessary. Use the same colour paint as the walls on the dado rail and skirting for a less fussy look.

Decoration

Go for a few large items rather than lots of small ones – unless the small ones are part of a large group.

Use what you need

Particularly in a small hall, make a feature out of essentials – flooring, storage, lighting, heating. For example, have a statement radiator rather than hiding the one you need behind a cover and pretending it’s not there. Use patterned tiles on the floor for hardwearing decoration you can walk on. Choose a beautiful coat stand or hooks that you love to look at. And, if your ceilings are high, a stunning pendant or chandelier. Then, you may only have the essentials but you need nothing else for a beautiful, functional space. No clutter, no mess.

Look at what and who you love

Consider a wall of art or family photos. If you’re like me, you don’t want to look at photos of yourself all the time. But it’s nice to see photos and memories of family and friends. Put them in the hall or up the stairs in a large group and you can see them as you walk past every day but they’re not watching you while you relax at home. Or do it with art. Or kids’ drawings. Just put everything in similar colour frames to pull the collection together. And set them out on the floor to play with the layout before you hang them.

Double what you have

Mirrors are great in a hall both for that last minute check before you leave the house, and to bounce light around the space. Particularly in a narrow hall, consider a mirror on one or both sides to open up the space as you come in. This could be decoratively framed, or put a mirror in an alcove or on a storage cupboard door for a more integrated solution.

Flooring

Of all the floors in your home, the hall floor needs to be hardwearing and easy to clean. Make it special and you won’t need much else in the way of decoration.

Pattern and colour

Patterned tiles give a hit of colour and pattern and mop clean easily, whether traditional Victorian, Spanish encaustic or somewhere in between. No rug required.

Texture and shape

Inexpensive individual rugs create an interesting runner that's not too precious.  Living etc July 2012

Inexpensive individual rugs create an interesting runner that’s not too precious. Living etc July 2012

Wood or plain tiles is another easy-clean solution. The shape and layout of these will affect how they appear. Parquet gives a wonderful texture that can appear as modern or traditional as you like. Floorboards can be wide, narrow, laid lengthwise (to lengthen the space and draw the eye down the hall) or crosswise (to foreshorten the space). And painted, varnished, stained or oiled for any colour and finish that you like. Plain tiles come in a myriad of colours and shapes, and can be laid in grids, brick formation, random… You could have plain tiles with a ‘rug’ of patterned tiles in the centre for a focal point. You could even have a touch of underfloor heating under this central point – a cosy surprise in a shoes-off house.

Rugs and runners – great for texture and acoustics, but also at attracting dirt and mud. Possibly a risk that they could be unintentionally used as an additional doormat. So I would go for easy-clean if at all.

Practical but not boring

Dark may be practical but it doesn’t have to be dingy. How about a glossy black floor for a floor that doesn’t show the dirt but also bounces light around the place? Also, particularly if you don’t have a porch, recess your floormat into the floor for a smoother transition and an effortless way to keep it in place.

Storage

Plan it

Think about what you need to store and plan where it’s going to go. Keys, coats, shoes, umbrellas, hats, gloves, sunglasses…

Build it

Built in storage is great for a small space. If you’re lucky and you have dimensions that will work, for a cost-effective version, buy ready made storage units and build them in. How about building it around the door for lots of useful space you’ll hardly notice as you pass through, but you won’t be able to live without once it’s there? If you have a lot of books and a long hall (or a long landing upstairs), how about a long low level bookcase to give you lots of storage you’ll barely notice, and a surface on top for display?

Hide it

Whatever you go for, make sure your keys aren’t in view – or in reach! – from the letterbox, particularly car keys.

Lighting

As with the colour, you can go for more drama in a transitional space. And make it dimmable (or have separate bright lights for dark winter mornings and lower levels of light for the evening) so that you don’t get the feeling you’ve triggered a security breach and the floodlights as you leave the living room for a comfort break half way through the film..

Shape up

Remember that the areas you light will appear further away when you look at the space. So you could light the walls in a narrow hall to make it seem wider. Or light the end to make it seem longer. You don’t need to rewire the whole house to do this – see if you can use plug in lamps or ceiling spotlights in your existing fitting to get the effect.

Light up

If you are rewiring, or building new, you can recess 1 Watt LED spotlights into the floor to highlight arches, doorways, walls. If you are looking to do this with other uplighters, whether fitted or plug-in, please check that they don’t get hot, particularly if you have children or pets around.

Layer up

If you have high ceilings, a statement pendant or chandelier will give you drama and personality, even when it’s off. But it will be a bit flat if it’s the only light source. So supplement it with table lamps, spotlights and/or uplights.

Was this useful?  Do you have any ideas to add?  Let me know in the comments!

Coming soon – specific tips for individual rooms, lighting, tips on how to use colour, choose floorings, wall coverings, paint…

If you have any questions you’d like me to answer in this series, leave a comment or send a message via the website – I’d be delighted to help!

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Kerb appeal: you never get a second chance to make a first impression

This post is part of a series on interior design and working with an interior designer.

For our first look at how to make the most of each of the rooms in your home, I’ve actually chosen an area outside – the entrance. Whilst this may not normally fall within the realms of interior design, how your home looks from the street or driveway sets the tone for what lies within. In fact, if you’re selling up, it’s one of the key areas to polish up for a speedy sale.

Even if it’s just you and the occasional visitor entering your home, don’t depress yourself before you’ve even opened your front door because you’ve edged past 4 overflowing bins, tripped in the dark and spent several minutes in the rain trying to find the right key and put it in the right lock.

Consider these ideas, and increase your chances of arriving home with a smile on your face.

The approach

Whether you have a generous front garden, a small patch and some steps, or a front door opening straight onto the street, keep it clean and tidy, and consider the lighting. The smaller the space is, the more these principles apply.

Plants

With a small city front ‘garden’, focus on a few bold low maintenance plants, whether in pots or directly into the ground, and perhaps some window boxes. Dare I say it, you can even get some excellent faux shrubs today, such as box plants and bay trees, that will provide you with some greenery and require no maintenance other than perhaps a quick wash down every now and then. Try Green Interiors or The Artificial Plant Shop. However, if you are happy with a little more upkeep, fragrant plants such as lavender, rosemary, or perhaps a scented climber such as jasmine, honeysuckle or clematis, will give you a real welcome home. We got ours from Silk Tree – great plants at a good price with friendly service.

Hard landscaping

For your surfaces, reduce the upkeep required by going for gravel and paving, with plants directly in the ground (rather than pots, that will always need watering). But before you pave it all over in the name of low maintenance, check whether you need planning permission, and be aware that you may be required to use a porous material (to allow rainwater to be absorbed into the ground rather than run off into the drains). If you’re going for pots, the bigger the better, both for greater impact and to increase the likelihood that they will stay in your possession and not be taken uninvited for a walk…

Bins

Hmm. Whilst I wholly support maximum recycling of waste, the large number of bins now required to process it all has not been good for the front garden. Ever-present, particularly in front of terraced houses, disguise these eyesores by creating a designated bay behind trellis, fencing, or wooden mini-huts for them to reside in when it’s not bin day. Make sure the view looks good from both the street and your home – I never understand it when people hide bins beautifully from the street and make them the first thing they see when they leave the house in the morning! Plan to include them rather than pretend they will disappear if you forget about them. And don’t make it too hard to pull them in and out of their hiding place or you won’t bother.

The door

Whether your front door could do with replacing or just a new coat of paint, if you’re in a street of similar houses, look at your neighbours to see what they’ve done. Then you can decide if you want to blend in or stand out.

Supersize it

How about this for a front door – 8 metres high! (Living etc, June 2007)

If you’re replacing the door, make more of an impact by increasing the size of the door, and choosing a solid door from sustainably produced wood. If you have a dark hall, you’ll probably want to include some glazing in or around the door. This should be made of toughened glass and can be etched for more privacy. Look at The London Door Company and Urban Front for more ideas.

Dress it

As for door furniture, don’t scrimp on the quality. You can dress up an inexpensive door with quality furniture but cheap fittings on a quality door will cheapen the whole effect. Don’t assume you have to buy new if you want to make a change – try Lassco or Salvo for vintage fittings and you could save some pennies too. Or check out Beardmore or Turnstyle Designs for new (both made in England).

Number it

For your house number, if you have a glass panel above the door, the possibilities are endless with stickers – try Purlfrost.  Or look for interesting numbers at Willow and Stone or HouseBling via Not On The High Street.

The colours and facade

When you’re planning the colours, you’ll want to consider both what the neighbours have done (if they’re visible) and what your home is like on the inside. Again, do you want to blend in or stand out? A dark entrance will make your home seem much lighter when you enter. A bright door might make you smile when you come home.

Colours

You can get away with stronger colours outside as they will be bleached with the sun, so paint some testers onto card and hang each from the door to see what you think, both in daylight and at night. At the same time, consider the whole picture. You may have other areas you can paint too: window frames; pots and window boxes; railings, fences or walls. Do you want to use complementary or contrasting colours for these areas? Or you could use the same colour, some items in a gloss finish, some in matt, for a more subtle and contemporary effect.

Windows

Finally, consider what the windows look like from outside – do you have shutters, curtains, sheers visible from the outside? Could you line curtains with an interesting fabric for a bit of contrast when viewed from outside? Can people see more than you want them to? Consider translucent stickers from the likes of Brume or Purlfrost, sheer curtains or blinds. Or perhaps a densely packed window box outside, or vases inside, will be all you need.

Lighting

Consider the lighting of your entrance both from the safety / functional angle, and also how to enhance the look of your home.

What to light

Beautifully lit by John Cullen Lighting

Beautifully lit by John Cullen Lighting

At a minimum, you need to be able to see where you’re walking, where to put the keys, and, hopefully, to be able to confirm that there’s no-one unexpected hanging around. So, put some LED spots to wash across any steps (every other step should be enough) and think about what you can highlight for decorative effect. Do you have pillars, columns, an arch that you can uplight? Fit some 1 Watt LED uplighters to highlight these. If that gives you enough light to get the keys in the lock, even better. Don’t overdo it though – you don’t want every plant and window uplit all evening.

When to light it

You can put the lights on a motion sensor so that they light up when someone approaches, with a manual override so that you can choose to leave them on if you’re expecting anyone.

How to light it

For more decorative lights with visible fittings, go for quality materials that will last a long time and improve with age. Consider how different materials can change the appearance of the same item – if you have a contemporary interior in an old house, fitting traditional lighting in a modern finish could be a nod to what lies within, whilst remaining in keeping with the history visible on the outside.

And, as with any lighting, go for warmer bulbs for a more welcoming and flattering finish. No-one needs to arrive home – or to someone else’s home – in ice-blue floodlit splendour.

Was this useful?  Do you have any ideas to add?  Let me know in the comments!

Coming soon – specific tips for individual rooms, lighting, tips on how to use colour, choose floorings, wall coverings, paint…

If you have any questions you’d like me to answer in this series, leave a comment or send a message via the website – I’d be delighted to help!

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A few of my favourite things

Along with the factories in Europe and half of London, this blog is going on holiday for a couple of weeks and we’ll be back in September, celebrating London Design Festival and continuing with our howto series on interior design.

We’re still open for business though, so if you’d like some help to get your home the way you want it, and save money in the process, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

In the meantime, I thought I’d showcase a few of my favourite companies.  Click on the picture to go to the website.

Benchmark Furniture

Benchmark Furniture

Benchmark Furniture

A collaboration between Terence Conran and Sean Sutcliffe, a furniture maker, Benchmark sources all its timber sustainably, as locally as possible, and makes everything in Berkshire in its energy efficient workshop.

Ian Mankin

Ian Mankin

Ian Mankin

Natural fabrics, some organic, over 90% of which are made in Lancashire.  Also wallpaper, lampshades, cushions and other accessories.

Retrouvius

Retrouvius

Retrouvius

A huge range of architectural salvage and vintage furniture.

Reborn

Reborn Paints

Reborn Paints

Quality paint reprocessed and blended from previously unused paints – each pot has up to 90% recycled content, and it’s available in 28 subtle shades.

 

See you in September!

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Project story – Riverside Apartment

This riverside apartment was a 1990s build which had not been decorated since the developers left. The client uses it during the week, spending the weekends with his family. He was happy with the layout, kitchen and bathrooms, and he also wanted to keep much of his existing furniture, for the time being. So, the brief was to warm it up a little, improve the lighting, improve the acoustics, and source some higher quality window treatments, some furniture and new flooring.

The client has a clean and unfussy style, and ruled out wallpaper, carpet, new rugs and pattern. How to warm up a space without these?

We went for neutrals with a warm undertone, and plain accent colours. Also, the fabrics that we used for the curtains and upholstered headboard were on the heavy, textured side, for maximum warmth and sound absorption.

Here’s the before and after for you.

Master bedroom

Master bedroom - before

Master bedroom – before

Master bedroom - after

Master bedroom – after

The master bedroom was warmed up using an off-white paint with a warm, almost pink, undertone (used throughout), and deep purple velvet curtains and silk lampshades.  The blackout-lined curtains with simple pelmet give complete darkness for sleeping and significantly improve the acoustics, as does the upholstered headboard.  The bedside tables and a bespoke tallboy are in greyed oak, and the new floor is simple oak with a matt varnish (used throughout).

Second bedroom

The second bedroom is used occasionally.  We chose a deep red for the accent colour here, with the same paint and flooring as the master bedroom.  The bed from the master bedroom is being reused here for the time being.  Similar curtains, heavy velvet with a simple pelmet, again provide blackout and absorb sound.

Second bedroom - before

Second bedroom – before

Second bedroom - after

Second bedroom – after

Surprisingly, the original developer had left this awkward alcove rather than providing a fitted wardrobe. We filled the space with a triple wardrobe with plenty of shelves and hanging room, finished in the same paint colour as the walls, to help it disappear.

Wardrobe alcove - before

Wardrobe alcove – before

Wardrobe alcove - after

Wardrobe alcove – after

 

Living / dining area

This was painted and the floor replaced.  The old pelmets and vertical blinds were removed. The new curtains are made from a textured cream heavyweight fabric, with pinch pleat headings on an invisible track mounted to the ceiling.

Living area - before

Living area – before

Living area - after

Living area – after

The wall lights in the dining area were updated.  The client’s existing furniture remains in this area for the time being.

Dining area - before

Dining area – before

Dining area - after

Dining area – after

What do you think about this updated riverside apartment? Do you want to know where I sourced any of the items? Let me know in the comments.

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Project story – Period House – Part 2

As we saw last week, this interior design project was a real blank canvas, and the clients enjoy pattern and colour, so let’s take a look where we ended up.

Master bedroom

Master bedroom - before

Master bedroom – before

 

Master bed - after

Master bedroom – after

 

 

 

 

 

 

The starting point for the master bedroom was the Coco bed from Loaf, an excellent value quality bed.  The clients have spent some time in Paris, and developed a love for the curvaceous lines of simple French furniture.

We then searched for a wallpaper to complement the greyed oak and calico linen of the bed, and eventually decided on the beautiful Tamaki wallpaper from Romo in French Grey.  This elegant pattern has a muted palette of grey, silver and gold, and we papered two walls.

Fitted wardrobes in white provide a huge amount of hidden storage, neatly placed in line with the bay so as to make the most of the space without intruding into the room.  Fitted wardrobes on a shared wall also insulate against noise from neighbours.

Whilst I tend to prefer curtains or Roman blinds in a bedroom, to absorb sound and better block out light, the clients wanted shutters for their clean lines and to give them privacy from the street without needing sheers.  They also like to wake up with the light in the morning.  The shutters were chosen to match the weathered oak of the bed, rather than the more frequently chosen white, to be a feature in their own right and further warm up the room, complementing the wallpaper on the opposite wall.

The picture rail, height carefully chosen so as to link the windows with the wardrobes, finishes the wallpaper walls neatly as the original mouldings were long gone.

Kitchen / diner

Unusually perhaps, when there is a rear extension across the full width of a period property, it was decided that the kitchen would be in the middle reception room.  This was because the bay window at the front faces south, and thus there would be more light in the front of the property.  With a young family, the clients expected to spend much of their time in the kitchen / diner, rather than the living room, and so of course they wanted to be in the bright part of the house.

Middle reception room before - to become kitchen with doorway through to living room extension beyond

Middle reception room before – to become kitchen with doorway through to living room extension beyond

Kitchen - after, looking through the doorway into the new living room extension

Kitchen – after, looking through the doorway into the new living room extension

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dining / play area is in the front with the bay window, and the kitchen, with island unit, in the middle.  We opened up the kitchen to the new extension through the existing window space, creating wide steps down to the new room and the garden beyond.

Living room extension

This was a challenging room and it’s still not finished.  Several steps down from the rest of the house, with a lower ceiling, facing north, I thought we needed to go for cosy rather than light and bright.  Bookcases around the doorway house the clients’ large selection of books, giving colour and texture and absorbing some sound.  The shelves wrap around to the stairs up to the kitchen.  I originally wanted the shelving to actually be incorporated into the stairs but for budgetary reasons they ended up separate.  Low level lighting on the stairs is both a feature and good for safety.

Eventually, the other walls in the living room will be papered with handprinted wallpaper from Wallpaper with a Story in green, furniture and window treatments will be added to warm the room even more, but for now, this is how things are looking:

Living room extension, looking upstairs towards kitchen diner

Living room extension, looking upstairs towards kitchen diner

Bumblebee inspired Wallpaper with a Story in green

Bumblebee-inspired Wallpaper with a Story in green

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entrance hall

Light and bright, grounded with a dark recycled encaustic tile patterned floor, the new entrance hall is worlds apart from the sorry sight that originally greeted my clients!

Entrance hall - before

Entrance hall – before

Entrance hall - after

Entrance hall – after

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think?  Do you like the transformation?  Do you want to know where I sourced any of the items?  Let me know in the comments.

 

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Project story – Period House – Part 1

This interior design project was a fantastic experience.  My clients, a couple with two young children, had purchased a terraced period house which had had all its period features removed when it was decorated in the 1970s.  As far as we could tell, it hadn’t been updated since, so it was a real blank canvas!

The brief was to extend the living space on the lower ground floor and provide 4 bedrooms and two bathrooms upstairs.  My clients loved pattern and colour so it was exciting to help them realise their dream.

The architects designed the new expanded living space, which I was able to tweak a little to help the clients get the interior flow they wanted.

Here are some pics when the strip out had just begun, so you get an idea of what we were dealing with!

Middle reception room before - to become kitchen with doorway through to living room extension beyond

Middle reception room before – to become kitchen with doorway through to living room extension beyond

Entrance hall

Entrance hall

Master bedroom - before

Master bedroom

 

Come back next week to see the end result!

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Antiques, sunshine and cycling through London parks

Last week, I paid a visit to the Spring Decorative Fair in Battersea.  As it was a sunny day – and haven’t they been in short supply until recently?! – I decided to cycle from my home in North London, and boy was I glad I did.  Heading through Primrose Hill, Regents Park, Hyde Park and then Battersea Park in the glorious sunshine was exactly what I needed – and quicker than public transport too.  Don’t even get me started on driving in this city!

At the antiques fair, I especially liked the sleek and curvacious lines of Paola Bazzoli‘s 20th Century Italian stock, and Quindry had some beautiful pieces too.  Hudson Grove also caught my eye with their stock from Ichabod Headless.  Antiques and vintage pieces are a great environmentally friendly way to get a well made, stylish piece for your home.  And they don’t have to break the bank, either.

To top it all off, Megan’s – an old favourite from my days at design school – were providing the catering for the fair, and so a delicious takeaway salad was devoured in the sunshine in the park on the way home.  Not a bad way to spend a few hours and pick up some inspiration!

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