Step into Spring

Spring has officially arrived and it’s time to blow away the cobwebs to get your home gleaming and in order, ready for the warmer months ahead.

Spring clean For a thorough annual clean, it’s worth investing in the services of a professional company who regularly carry out new build and end-of-tenancy cleans. And don’t forget the windows, garden terrace and front porch - at this time of year, they’re all crying out for a clean. 

Tackle your interior décor  Rearrange some of your furniture, furnishings, framed photographs and ornaments.  Simply moving around a sofa or a chair, a footstool or a coffee table can have a big impact. 

Replace dark, heavy bed linen with lighter, brighter and softer fabrics in pastels and breezier tones and shades. If budget permits, apply the same principle to window dressing and store away your heavy curtains, swapping them for summer alternatives.

Treat your home to a repaint  We all know how sunlight can show up every niggling finger mark and greasy smudge.  Just by giving areas of heavy traffic a fresh lick of paint, such as the hallway and kitchen, will not only make a huge difference, but can be immensely satisfying and uplifting. 

Display houseplants and flowers A modest arrangement of fresh cut flowers will immediately liven up your living space and, if you have house guests coming to stay, can be a welcoming addition in the spare bedroom.

Clear the clutter from the tables, shelves, cabinets and drawers, keeping out just the aesthetic essentials, such as lamps, pictures and candles.  Find a place to stow away the remainder which can’t be discarded, such as paperwork, house bills and other miscellaneous items of importance. For savvy, storage solutions, check out coxandcox.com or johnlewis.com – I’m a fan of their felt bucket boxes.Address your wardrobe Get rid of clothes you haven’t worn in the past year, neatly folding and hanging everything back that you’re choosing to keep. 

A FEW OF MY FAVOURITE FABRIC HOUSES

  • Designers Guild for fabrics, bed linen and furniture; designersguild.com
  • Lelievre - Gaultier for fun, punchy fabrics and cushions; lelievreparis.com/en/collections/jean-paul-gaultier
  • Harlequin and Romo for inexpensive fabrics, wallpapers and cushions; stylelibrary.com/harlequin and romo.com
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Let it Flow

Choosing what colours fill your home is important and it’s easy to fall into the trap of applying the same one throughout. When I design the interior of houses, I come up with a basic colour scheme for the whole house and take that from room to room, to create a cohesive colour flow.

The hall tends to be the central area and all rooms leading off from it should connect with one another, to avoid a choppy and disjointed look. We’ve all been inside homes where there’s a sudden explosion of colour which takes us by surprise.

Ask yourself what atmosphere you want to achieve.  Colour preferences vary as much as personalities — some love the bright and the bold, while others prefer to be surrounded by neutrals. The good news is that there really is no correct palette. The difficulty lies in choosing from the infinite amount of options one faces when staring at the sheer amount of colours available.

Choose colours which work best for you  Different colours affect the energy of a space and control the feel of your home. They have the potential to visually change the room size — dark and warm colours will scale down a large room, making it more cosy, while a small room can be opened up by applying paler, cooler colours onto the walls.

Painting the ceiling a darker shade that the walls will lower it, while a lighter shade will add height.  And, if you were to paint parallel walls a darker shade than the other set of walls, it will make the room appear elongated. Alternatively, one bolder wall will create a focal point within the room if you have a special painting or piece of furniture you want to stand out.

Use accent colours to pull a room together  By adding light accents to a room, you essentially lighten the patterns and colours of whatever is inside the room. Dark accents will then bring out the darker colours of your living space.  Look at existing furnishings and accessories for inspiration and pick up colours from fabrics and artwork, using them as the basis for your scheme.

Identify the undertone in a colour by comparing it to other similar colours.  Build a palette of four or five colours made up of one or two neutrals which share the same undertone as your accent colour. Then add a lighter and mid-tone or darker version of your chosen accent colour and perhaps an adjacent hue.  Using your palette of four or five shades, alternate the primary, secondary and accent colours for each room - perhaps the main wall colour in one room becomes the ceiling colour in another and an accent colour somewhere else. Utilise accessories — cushions, lampshades or curtains — to carry these colours from room to room.

 

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Velvet ... The Original Glamour Fabric

VELVET... THE ORIGINAL GLAMOUR FABRIC

 

You might equate velvet to winter but it makes a lovely covering to any piece of furniture, which is why it’s a popular all-year-round fabric.  It’s actually one of my favourite upholstery fabrics – it stands out and adds depth and definition to the shape of a piece.  Several types of velvet are washable and stain resistant, without compromising on the look. And, they’re not too costly.

 

Get the right thing

Once you decide to go for a velvet piece of furniture or furnishing, select a fabric that will hold up to its expected use. Velvet can be woven from natural fibres, cellulose (Viscose/Rayon or Modal), synthetic products or a combination. Here are some of the most common kinds:

 

Pure velvet: Made of an acetate/viscose mix with an opulent sheen, this type is considered to be the most luxuriant.

Silk velvet: One of the most luxurious fabrics ever created. Soft and smooth to the touch, it gives the impression of being wet. Best suited for pieces that will not get heavy use and can fade in sunlight.

Linen velvet: Has a matte, dry look and often has a ‘strie’ (subtle, irregular striping) because linen yarns tend to have different thicknesses. Its pile is usually shorter than that of other velvets, and it’s prone to bruising or crushing. 

Cotton velvet: Crushes easily, which is why it’s often blended with another fibre, such as polyester, to improve its resilience. It has a matte finish, but can be blended with viscose to add lustre and strength.

Wool velvet: Durable and resilient, it can be warm to the touch - not so great in the summer.

Mohair velvet: Made from the hair of Angora goats is extremely durable and resists dirt and crushing. If a piece is going to be heavily used, mohair is the gold standard. It’s very thick, and has less sheen than silk or cellulose fibres. 

Cellulose velvets: Cellulose is a manufactured fibre made out of plants or wood pulp. Such velvets are soft and have a deep lustre, giving the natural fibres some competition in the glamour department.

Synthetic velvets: Velvets made from high-quality polyester are less prone to marking or crushing. They resist fading, but don’t have the same depth of colour as natural fabrics. Blend the two and you have the best of both worlds.

Cut velvet: Not a specific fibre, but rather a fabric that has a pattern cut into the velvet. The pattern can be any design, from traditional florals to more modern geometrics.


So, now you know about the different types of velvet that are out there, it’s time to choose.   

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TRY BEFORE YOU BUY

… are the risks of buying furniture online worth the saving?

 

From food, clothing, jewellery, art, electronic gadgets, household goods and furniture, to even the acquisition of land, homes and cars, we go shopping online for them all, without ever leaving our living rooms.

 

But, when it comes to trying to understand what you’re exactly looking at when buying furniture online, it’s a tricky business.  How do you get your head around spending a huge amount of money just on something to sit on, in the absence of being able to see it and touch the item?  You have to take a wild guess with what exact colour you might receive, its precise dimensions and the quality of fabric (and remember that the choice of fabric available online is usually limited).  

 

It’s not just the style, colour and fabric you need to consider but much more - it has to suit the layout and décor of your house. An upholstered chair or sofa is not like a shirt that can be returned easily if you simply decide you don’t like it.

 

Yes, online furniture shopping is a great way to save time and money but these are just some of the challenges involved in the process, which is why I encourage my clients to try before they commit to buying, be it a stool, a bench, an armchair, a chaise longue or a bed. 

 

Furniture design is saturated, but when you actually try something, you may discover it doesn’t feel right – perhaps the back is too low or the depth is too deep, or too shallow,  and the fabric isn’t how it looked in the images. Take a dining chair – one might look the same as the next, but is it going to be comfortable enough to sit at for hours, eating, drinking and chatting?

 

You might think you’re making a saving by buying cheaply online, but you could be very lucky if you don’t end up making a mistake. If you do choose to go down the online route, be sure to do your homework first by visiting a store to properly assess your options. Then you can seek out the best price and the best deal available – beneficial if you’re on a strict budget.

 

But remember, even if the trend of buying furniture online has soared in recent times, 

the message is that people tend to buy online, the small, simple objects and home accessories to decorate the house, more than to furnish it.

 

Ultimately, you will probably spend less than what you would spend by buying furniture from a shop or an interior designer, but you will not get the after-sales service and care that you will get from a brick and mortar store.  I’ll let you decide.

 Alexander Sofa

Alexander Sofa

 Wishbone Chair

Wishbone Chair

FIRE UP THE HOME

As we experience the coldest month of the year, nothing quite beats curling up on the sofa in front of a roaring log fire.  Well, for me anyway.  And let’s face it, it’s a fashionable and cosy alternative to coal.  It’s also carbon neutral, so long as the trees it burns are replenished.  But, wood burning fires have a dirty secret: not only does burning wood release invisible particulates into the air that are as bad for us as traffic fumes, it’s a very inefficient way to heat our homes.

 

After a series of air pollution alerts in the capital within a short period of time, the London Mayor caused a storm when he announced plans to ban open fires and put restrictions on wood-burning stoves.  These limits have yet to be set, but should you be weighing up your options, it would be a good idea to seek out stoves which are Ecodesign Ready, the European-wide programme to lower emissions, due to come into force in the UK in 2022.  If an open fire is the equivalent of a diesel car, an Ecodesign Ready stove is similar to a hybrid car – the fire box is designed to be very hot, in order to burn far fewer particulates away than open fires.

 

For those who are particularly environmentally friendly, you could consider the gas or electric route.  When it comes to fireplace efficiency, gas trumps wood, it burns more cleanly and produces 99 per cent fewer emissions. But, if you’re wedded to the aesthetic and the aromas of a real wood fire or you find the flame of an electric fire a little too fake, there are efficient gas fires available that appear to burn with wood.  From opulent to understated, you’ll find a design which will become a statement feature in your home and one which will be seen as a piece of art.

 

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU BURN

👎 Construction wood contains harmful metals

👎 Old painted wood can contain lead

👎 Waste timber can emit fumes, including lead and arsenic

👎 Wet wood is more polluting than dry wood

👍 Buy wood that carries Woodsure’s Ready to Burn logo and it will have been        

seasoned or ‘kiln-dried’

 

HOTSPOTS 

Stove Industry Alliance  stoveindustryalliance.com

Chesneys  chesneys.co.uk 

Modus  modusfireplaces.com

Paloform paloform.co.uk

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FADS vs TRENDS

This month, I’ve been inundated with enquiries about redecorating. The arrival of a new year seems to have that effect on many of us – in with the new and out with the old – although in the world of interiors it’s often the reverse; what’s new is actually what’s old. 

 

I always explain to my clients that their interior design style shouldn’t be novelty driven by the latest fashion choices. A fad or ‘catching on’ will often fade as quickly as it appeared, whereas trends have a much longer lifespan and can continue to be fashionable for years and even decades.  And don’t forget, a full redesign is too expensive to change on a monthly or even a seasonal basis. But, when it comes to accessories, such as scatter cushions, pictures, throws and candles, they’re easy to source and can be swapped and added quite easily. Chosen carefully, you can pull together a whole new look without breaking the bank.

 

Be season led You may be in denial, but we’re not even half way through winter, in fact February 2 is the exact halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. So, rather than dismiss the gorgeous wintery tones, embrace them. I’m talking deep reds, aubergine and orange, and as we transition from winter to spring, introduce yellows, greens and fresh, watery colours.

 

Give your upholstery a new lease of life If one of your most cherished pieces is looking a bit shabby, a quick-fix is to seek the help of a professional cleaner to spruce it up. However, you may want to go ramp things up a little more, in which case, why not replace the cover or the seat pads?  By bringing in a stylish fabric in a vibrant palette will not only transform the item but the entire room.

 

When it comes to what style to opt for, and here we come back to fads vs trends, 

Vintage styles continue to take the spotlight this year. My favourites are Art Deco, Modern Retro Chic and for traditional elegance, Victorian. And remember, there’s always room for a modern spin.

 

And finally, work with what you’ve got  It’s often the small details that can be just as dramatic. Dress up a plain lampshade by adding a beaded fringe or a bobble trim, introduce curtain tiebacks, swap different photos into your picture frames, fill a vase with seasonal flowers and dot around a few scented candles, arguably the most fashionable necessity of all.

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MY SHOPPING LIST 

Wallpaper and paint, littlegreene.com

Rugs, woven.co.uk

Cushions and throws, Designers Guild

Wall art prints, Affordable Arts Fair

Table legs, etsy.com

Ornaments, TK Maxx 

Candles, sandybaylondon.com

Lampshade fringes and tiebacks, vvrouleaux.com

 

Outdated Trends

I've just come across this article and thought it might be helpful to those that are thinking of doing a refurb, it's interesting, and will save you spending a lot on a product that might now be considered out of fashion. When I'm designing, I try to keep away from some trends as much as possible as they are too expensive to put right each year. http://www.elledecor.com/design-decorate/trends/news/g3472/outdated-home-trends/?slide=8 #interiordesign #elledecor #trends 

Why it’s important to get a qualified interior designer

 

 

There are so many people out there who decide that want to do interior design. 

 

They get hooked on Pinterest or Houzz, redecorate a room or two get a few compliments from friends, and bang they become an interior designer!

 

What people don’t realise is the work that goes into this profession. 85% of an interior designers work is the coordination and admin, and 15% is the design. It is therefore imperative that someone knows what they are doing as within that percentage there is a lot that can go wrong. 

 

The British Institute of Interior Design have a number of registered designers who have met their rigorous requirements https://biid.org.uk/find-a-designer/find-a-biid-accredited-interior-designer

 

Find someone that has the experience, that you feel a bond with and that you can trust will know what they are doing!

A thought about storage in Kitchens

A Kitchen needs such careful consideration as it is usually the most expensive and used part of the house. It needs to work well to suit your lifestyle.

Generally, people don’t ever seem to have enough storage, however much they think they do to begin with it gets filled very easily.

Try and fit in floor to ceiling cupboards on one side to gain as much space as possible, overhead cupboards can be good room dividers , add an island on wheels that can be moved out of the way when entertaining.

 

 

 Lovely image found on Pinterest

Lovely image found on Pinterest

Bring Back the Bar!!

When I think of a home bar, Del Boy’s retro cream vinyl fronted curved bar with a pineapple ice bucket springs to mind!

I am about to design my second bar for a client, within the last few months. As more of us are choosing to entertain at home, bars are in once again!

Be it a freestanding cabinet, built in, or a drinks trolley,  they can be elegant, fun and practical accessories to add to your home. 

You may want to incorporate a wine fridge, ice machine, a sink, even bar optics! A bespoke unit can be tailor made to suit your needs and don’t forget good storage! Glass shelving and mirror backs, using clever lighting can make your vodka, gin and whisky bottles look like works of art! 

I added a pull out desk on one side of the unit we designed, for a client that works from home and even though she has her own home office, needs to shut herself away in the Sitting Room from time to time. This works a treat! 

Many furniture designers such as Knowles and Christou will make special bespoke drink cabinets with all the bells and whistles, pull out trays, fitted glass racks, mirror back, wine bottle rack, drawers, the only thing they don’t provide is the alcohol!

Throws

A throw is an easy way to make a change without the expense of altering the decor, it dresses up furniture, adds colour, texture and pattern to a room, as well as warmth.

But placing a throw on a sofa, armchair or the end of the bed isn't so easy.

I’ve spent hours in the past folding, unfolding, scrunching, crumpling, primping, placing carefully and even throwing a throw (out of frustration), onto my piece of furniture to make it look right. 

I've come to realise that the art of using one is to make it look effortless and not styled. But how do you achieve that? I think it depends on your personality and you should do whatever you like and don't worry about what anyone else thinks!

You can fold them perfectly, and place neatly across the end of a chaise, like a blanket on a bed,  or draped with several throws on top of one another almost covering the whole piece of furniture. perhaps rolled up and stacked in a basket. My preference is to fold my throws quite neatly and hang them 3/4 over the arm or back of a sofa, and sometimes depending on the material of my throw, effortlessly draped over the corner of an armchair, with my cushions sitting over them and the edge of the throw showing on the back or sides.

In the winter we snuggle up on the sofa, as a family, and have a variety of throws that we cuddle up in, knitted, furry and blankety. There’s nothing cosier!

 

 

 

This weeks inspirations

These designers never cease to amaze and inspire me. Ochre Furniture their Surya pendant, the Lily tables by Tom Faulkner I would so love to have a cluster of these in different sizes and the Neva chair from Artisan that can be brought at Nina's House. 

Out of the Darkness...

I read this article recently and I do hope that out of the darkness there is light! 

 

 Kate Watson-SmythMad About The House blog, and author of Shades of Grey

"Given the seismic events of 2016 and the resulting uncertainty in the markets, I think there will be a return to the old ‘don’t move; improve’ adage, as people decide to stay in their homes and ride out any economic uncertainty. This usually heralds a period of bold ideas in interiors, as the bland beige that appeals to prospective buyers is dumped in favour of design decisions we want to live with." 

 

Finding Storage for Those New Gifts

Now that the excitements of Christmas are over :(, are you like me and look around your house in desperation wondering where you are going to fit  all the new things you've been given?

Finding storage in your home is hard at the best of times, so I thought I would dedicate this blog to help you find some interesting spaces that can be turned into storage,  some easily achievable and others that with a bit of money and imagination could transform your life and home!

Below is an image I found of tiered shelving in what would ordinarily be dead space in the loft. I realise that it isn't attractive but would be useful and you don't have to be a particularly good carpenter to construct it. Boxes keep your stuff more organised and this way  you can get to them easily.

Some ideas below that wouldn't be that hard to build,  creating a bit of extra space over an existing doorway, in say a bathroom for spare towels, or in a kitchen for china etc, as you can see in the reference below adding some shelving around the doorframe is also a good and attractive way of creating more storage.. If you have the space over your doorway in a hall, it could be made deeper for storing suitcases.

 What a great idea, although maybe a bit mad?! 

What a great idea, although maybe a bit mad?! 

Ingenious ideas for stairs, landings and under-stair storage, I love the steps being used as drawers! The last couple of pictures are pull-out cupboards that we had built for a client who wanted to store their shoes so they could be seen and got to easily, means you don't have shoes all over the place, and the kids could have their own shelf so there is no excuse not to tidy them away - Japanese style!

When my kids were younger all their new toys used to make my heart sink, bah humbug that I am! It was because I'd have to find somewhere to put them all.

Nowadays play tables are a great creation, not only are children able to sit, paint and play but there is also space for some storage.

For example this one is a craft table, it has a holder to attach a roll of drawing paper, space for pens and pencils, cubby holes and shelving for paints, books, scissors etc and room enough for 2 kids to sit at, aswell as attractive - I love it! 

We had this play table made for one of our clients, who wanted a storage unit for their 3 year old son who likes playing with cars and trains, as well as doubling up for drawing.

So we painted one-half in blackboard paint for drawing on and the other side for playing on, with deep storage drawers on one side for his car and train collections. We built this on wheels so that it could be wheeled to the middle of the room or to be put away in the corner.

For the same clients we had these units built for their son and daughter, no need to point out which was for the little girl! Behind the bunk beds we also built a hidey hole, for the kids to play in, such fun! We added some closed storage in drawers as well as open shelving for books etc. to give the room more depth.

There are many ways of creating more storage that as you can see don't have to be too complicated,  or with some help from a carpenter can be as elaborate as you'd like. So don't despair! If you'd like any help or ideas please contact us, as we have genius cabinetmakers at our disposal!! gabi@gabidarochainteriors.com.

 

Last Minute Decorations from Natural Sources

This is my last blog before Christmas, and if a bit like me you've left things till the last minute here are some tips for making Christmas decorations. Be creative from what you find in the garden or areas around you.

 Any jars or bottles around the house can be filled with foliage, berries and even apples can make it look festive. I like them in clusters as they make more impact.

Any jars or bottles around the house can be filled with foliage, berries and even apples can make it look festive. I like them in clusters as they make more impact.

 Collect a pile of pine cones and tie them up together to make a stunning wreath or garland. If you have time you can paint some of the edges with gold or silver metallic paint to give them some sparkle and less rustic.

Collect a pile of pine cones and tie them up together to make a stunning wreath or garland. If you have time you can paint some of the edges with gold or silver metallic paint to give them some sparkle and less rustic.

 How easy is this? Church candles surrounded by a selection of nuts or lay them on a bed of cranberries. Simple and stylish.

How easy is this? Church candles surrounded by a selection of nuts or lay them on a bed of cranberries. Simple and stylish.

 Wrap some candles in foliage and tie them with white ribbon, again effortless and looks beautiful. 

Wrap some candles in foliage and tie them with white ribbon, again effortless and looks beautiful. 

 This table looks so festive, a pile of nuts, candles and fruit in the centre, and dried leaves from an oak or maple tree (any tree with nice big leafage), placed on a plain napkin. 

This table looks so festive, a pile of nuts, candles and fruit in the centre, and dried leaves from an oak or maple tree (any tree with nice big leafage), placed on a plain napkin. 

    A sprig of rosemary tied around a white napkin with some twine, looks unpretentious and natural. The satsumas, foliage, candles and pine cones make a cheerful centre piece.

 

A sprig of rosemary tied around a white napkin with some twine, looks unpretentious and natural. The satsumas, foliage, candles and pine cones make a cheerful centre piece.

 Simple and fun. 

Simple and fun. 

 I love these dried orange slices tied to shrubbery they make a tasteful garland or wreath.

I love these dried orange slices tied to shrubbery they make a tasteful garland or wreath.

 What a great way to recycle! Put some candlesticks into empty wine bottles with sprigs of spruce tied with twine, an array of them look gorgeous. 

What a great way to recycle! Put some candlesticks into empty wine bottles with sprigs of spruce tied with twine, an array of them look gorgeous.