Tag Archives | colour

Project story – Colourful family home in New Malden

Sitting room in New Malden

Sitting room in New Malden

This beautiful period house in New Malden required complete refurbishment when it was bought by my clients, a young family.  They also elected to extend into the garden, which allowed for a large kitchen / diner / family room at the back of the house.

The brief was to create a colourful family home, which had to be practical as well as stylish.

The client has a keen eye for style and sourced some great finds, many from eBay.  In addition, much of the furniture was coming from their previous home.  My job was to provide guidance on colours, walls, floors, layout and window treatments, and pulling it all together.

Thank you to Anna Stathaki for the great photography.

The entrance hall is calm, but the patterned tiles on the floor add interest, with the colours echoed in the stair runner with its dark border.

Calm entrance hall with patterned tiles and stair runner with border

The formal sitting room at the front of the house (also see main picture in this post) is also calm and collected, with splashes of blue and green to bring out the colours in the vintage rug, passed down from parents.


Moving through to the back of the house, the bright extension offers plenty of space for family life.


The family room retains the original fireplace, adding in contemporary furniture in clean lines to contrast.


Upstairs now, the master bedroom is a restful space, despite the pops of colour.


The guest bedroom on the top floor.


Check out my portfolio and my Houzz profile for additional images, including the children’s bedrooms.

All in all, this home is a great example of how to create a colourful family home, against a backdrop of pale neutrals.  If the family ever get bored of the colour, they could just change or recover the furniture to something more neutral and it would look completely different.  No need to redecorate.

I hope you enjoyed this peek into the story behind a project in my portfolio.  Do get in touch if you’d like me to help you too.

Photography credits throughout: Anna Stathaki

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LED lighting – what to look for, how to choose

LED lighting has improved immeasurably in the last few years.  Gone are the days of blue light at a high price – LED lighting is now warmer, softer and much more affordable.

Part L, the Building Regulation that covers energy efficiency, states that 75% of fixed lighting within a new build or refurbishment must provide at least 48 lumens per Watt, and 400 lumens per fitting.  Lumens measure brightness.  So it is effectively saying that, for the lighting that’s fixed in your home, you must get a decent amount of brightness for the amount of electricity you are using.  Using LED lighting is a very effective way to achieve this.  But what to consider when choosing a brand for your spotlights?

Colour consistency

I’m sure you’ve all been in a shop, restaurant or someone’s home and noticed one pink spotlight amongst the others.  Or perhaps one that’s slightly green?  Maybe you have one yourself at home.  Good quality brands of LED lighting do not vary in colour in this way.

You probably know that lights in general tend to be available in warm white and cool white.  The colour temperature of light is measured in Kelvins.  Warm white is 2700 Kelvins; cool white is 3000 Kelvins.  While these measurements sound quite precise, in fact a 2700K light could have a pronounced pink or green tinge to it, and still be correctly categorised as 2700K warm white.

So, what we are looking for is manufacturers that have a more limited definition of what measures as 2700K (or 2400K, or 3000K, etc). In other words, manufacturers that categorise(‘bin’) their LEDs based on a more limited criteria.  This variation can be measured as MacAdams ellipses.  If the light is classified (‘binned’) as 2700K, to an accuracy of 3 MacAdams ellipses or less, you can be confident that all the lights from that manufacturer classified (‘binned’) as 2700K will look the same colour to the naked eye.

Colour rendering

Colour rendering measures how accurately colours appear under a certain light compared to daylight. Many cheaper LED light fittings have terrible colour rendering, particularly for reds.  Your reds may look brown, your blues may look grey.  So what we are looking for here is brands that have good colour rendering.

This is measured on the Colour Rendering Index, which compares the performance of the light against daylight.  It is marked out of 100. Above 90 is excellent.  80+ is good.  Anything below 80 is not going to reproduce colours accurately and is best avoided in your home.

You also have to be careful that the manufacturer has included all 14 colours when they state their CRI score for a particular light. It is possible to score only on the first 8 colours and state that the light is a certain CRI score, when if the last 6 colours, which are more challenging, were included, it would be much lower.

Which LED lighting brands?

You can use the above criteria to consider any make of LED bulbs or spotlights. Brands I have personally come across that meet these criteria include EcoLED, Orluna and John Cullen. Of course, good quality costs more, but you get what you pay for – better technology, a better result, a better home. Along with all LEDs, the extremely long life of the bulb (up to a decade!) means you can buy once, and save many times over with the energy savings and replacement savings compared to halogen spotlights.

With the above information, you can make an informed choice, rather than kitting yourself out with cheap LED fittings and then being disappointed with the result and paying more in the long run.

Plug-in lighting

Note that plug-in lamps are not covered by Part L.  Most plug-in lamps, and some ceiling and wall fittings, take traditional bulb sizes.  While standard incandescents are no longer available, the next best solution – aesthetically – for fittings that take E27, E14 (screw-in) or B22 (bayonet) bulbs at the moment is reduced wattage Halogen, such as these from Phillips.

Whether it’s LED lighting or not, always put your lights on dimmers if you can, make your spotlights directional (usually aimed at the walls) rather than pointing directly down, and please don’t put them in a grid on the ceiling!  More about this in a future post.

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What I learnt from Kit Kemp and how it can help you get your home the way you want it

I was lucky enough to hear Kit Kemp speak a few days ago at London Design Week 2016, held each Spring and centred around the Design Centre in Chelsea Harbour. I’m told she doesn’t do many talks; this one sold out in two days but I leapt at the chance to hear her speak and managed to get a ticket.

Kit Kemp speaking to Giles Kime at London Design Week 2016. Image from @DesignCentreCH on twitter

Kit Kemp has a wonderful way of putting together colourful, fascinating rooms, and I have long admired her work. She designs the interiors for Firmdale Hotels, the hotel group she co-owns with her husband.  The group includes several hotels in London (Covent Garden Hotel, Charlotte St Hotel, Ham Yard Hotel to name but three), and one in New York (Crosby Street Hotel) with another on the way. Read more about her here. Here’s some tips I learnt from Kit that I thought I’d share with you to help you get your home the way you want it.

Start with what you love

If you start here, you can’t go too far wrong. Let what you love and your core values be the foundation of everything in your home. If you’re not sure what your values are, or what you love, keep a scrapbook, put everything in it that you come across that you like. Images, sketch things, words, photos. Any subject, not just interiors. Look back over it from time to time and the themes will appear, these themes show you what you love/value/are attracted to.  Whenever you’re looking for new things for your home, bear these values and themes in mind.

Showcase fabric on headboards

A headboard provides an ideal opportunity to show off a beautiful fabric to full effect. All too often a fabric is gathered to make curtains, or wrapped around furniture in the form of upholstery. A headboard allows you to use the fabric flat, and as you need far less of it than for curtains, it can be an economical way to use it.

Frame unusual items

Why not frame plates, shoe collections, balls, anything that you like or means something to you… Kit is a big fan of collections of items. Framing collected items pulls a collection together and adds more weight to it. Framing 3D items with a black felt background really makes the item pop.

One room at a time

Even if your whole home needs an overhaul, work on one room at a time. Spend however long you’ve got, in a short space of time, trawling for inspiration for that room only. Include at least one trip out, if you can, wandering around design districts such as Chelsea Harbour, the Kings Road, Fulham Road, Tottenham Court Road etc (or if you’re not in London, try the Home and Fabric departments in your local department store, fabric shops, furniture shops, local restaurants and hotels, textile museums…). Flick through magazines (home, fashion, gardening, anything!), Pinterest, Houzz etc. Anything you like, get a sample, snap a quick picture, take a screenshot, rip it out… Don’t analyse too much while you’re collecting, just keep going. Then sit down at home and look for the themes. Your room will start to appear. You can then build on this foundation to search for the remaining things you need, and create a unique look that you’ll love.

Don’t be afraid of failure

This piece of advice applies to so much more than just interior design! Rarely is failure so catastrophic that recovery is impossible. If you don’t try daring things, you are unlikely to end up with a remarkable room or home… (Or a remarkable experience… holiday… life…). Try it, if it doesn’t work, learn from it and move on.

Some excellent tips here. Thank you, Kit, for an inspirational, entertaining and colourful talk, and for your generous advice from which we can all benefit.

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