SUMMER LOVING

Summer is very nearly, almost here – Hooray! Okay so its been pretty grim this week with all the rain but we can at least start to get excited for summer right?

Yes of course we can and I’ll tell you where I’ve been getting my summer interior inspiration from lately, the wonderful treasure trove that is Next Home. I do love having a mooch around this store, they always have fresh and stylish homewares and beautiful displays and I admire how their in house designers manage to translate the latest trends into their own brand, creating collections that are so easy to fall for. I often have to stop myself getting carried away and buying the whole series of homewares from some of their collections because I love the look of their style concepts so much! (By the way I don’t get paid to say this by Next Home unfortunately, I just really do like their stuff!)

Anyway on a recent trip to Next Home, I had only been in the store for approximately ten seconds before I got a bit over excited about a beautiful global tribal inspired display, went to pick up a lovely geo weave pom pom cushion and accidently knocked over a whole row of plastic garden gnomes one of which smashed into several pieces…whoops! Luckily the shop assistant was very nice about it but I was still pretty embarrassed!

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Stupid plastic gnomes getting in the way of my excitable browsing!

Basically I was in interior styling heaven and I lost count of the amount of times that I said “ooooooo isn’t that lovely” or “that is soooo nice” (and yes I was shopping on my own and so was talking to myself!). The whole shop had a real summery vibe with bright colours, globally inspired prints, tropical themed accessories and lots of focus on bringing the outside in, it really got me excited for summer and left me feeling inspired.

First up I wandered through the ‘Cuba inspired’ section which was bursting with vivid colours , unique patterns and eye catching textures. Cuban décor is all about eclectic mixes and the use of colour to enrich and engage and Next have certainly managed to encompass this in their range.

“Bring the colourful Cuban climate indoors, with fruity lamps and parrot-dise inspired bed linen. Really hot reds and leafy greens will add a little jungle into your home…” – NEXT HOME

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Bold use of tangerine orange with contrasting tile effect wallpaper gives a very Cuban feel

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Jungle green velvet sofa complimented with jungle plant motif cushions and curtains, fall in line with the Cuban style ethos of using eye-catching and unique patterns

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Graphic and bold patterned bed linen,vivid colours and more jungle inspired prints, creates a warm and vibrant bedroom scheme

The Tropical trend is big news this year with Living etc. citing that “the tropical trend that’s been growing wild of late, evidenced on the Spring/Summer 2017 catwalk which was rumbling in the jungle , with Max Mara’s models covered in exotic plants and animals” in their ‘Catwalk comes home’ article this month. Next home have taken this trend on board with open arms and worked this style into their summer homeware ranges with vast enthusiasm.

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Jungle monkey cushion which could work well as a statement piece on a sofa or chair to promote a tropical botanical room scheme

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I love a reed diffuser and this one is simply gorgeous, the emerald green bottle and artificial palm leaf finished off with gold lettering, is super stylish and bang on trend

As I wandered further around the shop I came across more totally tropical inspired homewares but this time more playful…

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I’ll have one of everything please!

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Pineapples were a hot trend last year and they are still going strong this year it seems..

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..along with flamingos who seem to be cropping up in design trends all over the place

So if you fancy giving your home a touch of summer love, in preparation for the scorching hot summer we are about to come into (here’s hoping!) then get yourself down to Next Home for a browse (I really don’t work for them I promise). Here’s to summer and all things tropical!

ECLECTIC STYLE

I am a huge, huge fan of eclectic styling in interiors. I love to fuse different styles together in my own home and I enjoy the challenge of making a variety of different looks work harmoniously in one space, creating a more unique and quirky style that gives the room more depth and visual interest. Although I can fully appreciate a more cohesive approach to interior design and enjoy creating schemes for my clients that promote a higher level of continuity, with spaces that flow effortlessly and that follow a clear and direct style approach, I personally enjoy using my creativity to mix styles and create looks that think outside the box.

Now as much as I love this approach to design, it isn’t easy to get right. As soon as you embrace this more experimental method of styling, you are in danger of getting yourself in a muddle with what does and doesn’t work. Ultimately regardless of which styles you choose to combine, a careful balance needs to be executed so that the space looks considered as oppose to disordered!

 

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This room appears to be having a personality crisis! Other than the fact that there are way too many decorative items on display, there is a serious mixture of different styles going on here and the result is a room that has very low visual appeal and quite frankly makes me feel a bit nauseous!

 

So how do you get it right? What methods can be used to achieve a successful eclectically styled room, which oozes aesthetic appeal and engages everyone who enters it without being too overpowering?

Here are my top tips on how to implement this style in your own home….

 

Firstly what is eclectic style in relation to interior design?

Well put simply it involves a fusion of contrasting styles to create a look which encompasses more depth and rewards you with a bit more edginess, to name a few – Antique & Contemporary, Industrial & Luxe, Modern & Rustic, Scandi & Mid-Century Modern, Botanical & Glam, Art Deco & Minimalist the list could go on forever….

In essence it’s about finding styles that appeal to you and exploring ways of combining them together successfully to create a design that is filled with textures, colours, patterns and furniture that you love.

BUT this doesn’t mean that you just chuck together every style of furniture, fabric, paint colour, lighting and wallpaper that takes your fancy, into one room….you need to be selective to get it right and combine things that are different yes but that work in harmony with one another and this is the tricky bit!

 

RULE ONE: METHODICAL MIXTURES

A key factor to eclectic styling is contrast, this is the backbone of the aesthetic and what draws the eye around a space. However the room needs to have some common ground, however subtle this is, otherwise you are in danger of creating an eye-sore. A popular example of this is having a collection of mismatched dining chairs. This can look so great when executed well and it really does add depth and quirkiness to a space with very little effort. Here are some examples of how to get this design method spot on…

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same colour + different design

 

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same design + different colour

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same style + different design

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old + new

 

RULE TWO: CONSISTENT COLOUR

Choosing at least one unifying colour will help to bring a scheme together regardless of the contrasting styles. This could be a strong colour such as magenta or a neutral such as dove grey, choose a colour that appeals to you and use that to anchor the look and to promote some structure with consistency.

 

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A Contemporary & Traditional fusion which uses denim blue and white as the unifying colours

 

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This Industrial & Luxe style room uses cobalt blue to bring the scheme together

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This Rustic & Retro Scandi room invites the use of grey and mustard yellow to equalize the look

 

 

RULE THREE: STEADY REPITITION

You don’t need to rely solely on colour to keep the look from losing its identity, using visual echoes in shape, pattern, texture and finish can also help to promote balance and structure.

 

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Pattern repetition in the wallpaper and the bolster cushion reinforces a feeling of continuity in this eclectically decorated room

 

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This bedroom showcases a series of squares in the flooring, the wall décor and the cushions which prevents the space from feeling too disjointed despite the mixture of styles

RULE FOUR: AN UNFUSSY BACKDROP

This rule is simple, quite literally. Keep the backdrop for all of your eclectic treasures simple and plain. This doesn’t mean you have to stick to white walls, just be mindful of keeping the wall treatments not too busy, avoid heavily patterned wallpaper and instead opt for a plainer design or plain painted walls. Perhaps create a feature wall with one of your chosen accent colours if you prefer to be a bit more daring or you could even add some panelling to create a bit more of a dynamic but remember in an eclectic space, when it comes to the wall treatment – less is more. You can always fill the plain walls with some beautiful pieces of art or prints, get a statement floor lamp or a decorative wall mirror, all of which are easy to change as the room evolves over time.

 

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A solid, plain backdrop gives this boho chic bedroom the freedom to showcase all of its beautiful patterns and textures without the room feeling too busy

 

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More plain walls creating a lovely backdrop for this mid-century modern luxe living room

 

RULE FIVE: DON’T OVERPOPULATE INSTEAD ROTATE

The final rule is, don’t get too carried away! I love going to flea markets and homeware shops that are full of trinkets and treasures and I often have to try hard not to buy literally everything that catches my eye. By all means buy new pieces for the room but don’t overfill it with too many pieces. I use this rule in my own house and once I am bored with a piece of wall décor, an ornament, a cushion or even a lamp I rotate it with a new piece. Then when I fancy a change or want to give the room a bit of a facelift I may rotate the same piece with something else. You don’t have to buy something new every time, store things away for a while once you have replaced them, you may find another place in the house that they will fit instead or you may want to reintroduce it when you redecorate. The main thing to remember is don’t try and cram too much in, leave a bit of negative space between things and choose wisely and thoughtfully.

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Getting it wrong: This room feels a bit too cluttered thanks to the excessive amount of wall art, not enough care has been taken here to be selective about the pieces

 

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Getting it right: This room has got a perfect balance and feels much more ordered. The cluster of wall art has plenty of negative space either side, allowing the eye to be drawn to a single focal point and giving the wall space more clarity

 

Are you feeling brave enough now to try and mix some styles? I hope this has given you a little more confidence to be your own curator and enhance some of the spaces in your home, with a touch of eclecticism…

The Beauty of Marble

I used to think of marble as being a superbly affluent material, associating its use with wealthy people and admiring its beauty from afar…

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During the course of 2016 this luxe material started to slowly crop up in interiors everywhere, Pinterest was heaving with it, leading design experts were gushing over it and it featured heavily in Interior Design programmes on the television. Not only limited to flooring and worktops, marble was being presented to us in a number of different forms. From elegant coffee tables to faux marble effect wallpapers, this minimalist material provided us with a chic and stylish design finish in many a design scheme throughout the last year.

 

 

So now that 2017 is in full swing, is this trend still relevant? Well the answer, much to my delight is…..YES! It appears that for now marble is here to stay, with the likes of Vogue forecasting a rise in the use of ‘marble and brass combinations’ in kitchens and bathrooms…

BUT hold on a second, kitchens and bathrooms! Come on Vogue lets be realistic here, I for one don’t want to have to re-mortgage my home in order to fit a new luxurious white marble kitchen, as lovely as that would be….Fear not I am here to share some ways for all for us to indulge in this beautiful design trend without having to renovate any part of our homes…phew!

In a recent trip to my firm favourite supermarket homeware store, yes you’ve guessed it good old Sainsbury’s TU, I came across some beautiful marble and brass combination homewares, that are both affordable and stylish much to my excitement!

 

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This gorgeous marble and brass pedestal mirror is on my wish list – Sainsbury’s TU, £20

 


 “It’s that combination of something very natural and clean, like white marble, and something industrial, hard, and a little bit glamorous with the brass.” – Young Huh

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“Marble, especially in shades of white and light grey, will be one of 2017’s biggest design trends.” – Zillow Digs

 

 

So although marble can be grand, it is not just a look to be indorsed by the rich and the famous and if chosen wisely and used in small doses, this gleaming stone can add a classic and stylish touch to any décor. As far as I can see, this timeless material will remain a firm contender in the hottest trends for 2017 and I for one will be indulging in at least one marble luxe piece for my own home, how about you?

Here is some more affordable inspiration for you my lovelies…

 

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Marble and Brass desk lamp – Next Home, £50

 

 

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Athena Coffee Table, Iron and White Marble – Swoon Editions, £229

 

 

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Marble Coasters – Sass & Belle, £19

 

 

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Marble Chopping Board – Flamingo Gifts, £14

 

 

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Three arm gold and marble base jewellery stand – Oliver Bonas, £29

 

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White Marble Shelf with Brass Brackets – Mia Fleur, £74

SCALE AWAY…

 

I’ve recently started a new design project in THE most beautiful maisonette in Hackney, East London. It’s part of a huge Victorian building that has been converted into several different living quarters and it has given me some major house envy, with its amazingly high ceilings and huge bay windows, it’s so dreamy..

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Beautiful, oversized bay windows – an original Victorian feature in the flat

Anyway, the design brief calls for some help with the interior styling of the living room as my client feels that it doesn’t have any real structure and wants to achieve a more grounded and harmonious scheme and most importantly wants to ensure that the beautiful, Victorian features of the room are enhanced to their fullest potential. Now all interior designers know how integral both scale and proportion are to a successful design scheme and getting the right balance is key to achieving spatial harmony within a room. This is a challenge in a room of any size be it a room with dramatically high ceilings or on the other end of the spectrum, one that may resemble a cupboard. So here is my take on scale and how to use it and use it well.

 

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SCALE = The size of things

PROPORTION = The relationship between them

Examples of a perfect balance between

                   Scale & Proportion

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Examples of unbalanced scale & proportion

 

 

 

 

 

I have always had a bit of an OCD about where things are placed and how things are positioned, from cushions on a sofa to photo frames on a window sill, if something doesn’t look quite right I literally can’t bear it and I have to keep moving things around until everything is arranged in a way that I deem to be aesthetically perfect. I can remember doing this from a young age, always making sure my bedroom looked just right, meticulously arranging trinkets and photo frames on my windowsill and carefully balancing the layout of the posters on my wall.

Scale and proportion are integral to a successful design scheme but how can you get them just right?

So there is this theory known as the ‘Golden Ratio’ which some designers swear by. Now to put it simply and without boring you all to death, the Golden Ratio is a mathematical ratio that is commonly found in nature, and when used in design, is believed to foster organic and natural looking compositions that are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. This ratio – 1:1.61, to be exact –  has been found to account for everything from the structure of musical sequences, architectural designs dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans and even the proportions of the human face.

 

 

I am not going to bore you with any more details of this because, although I’m sure that this theory is scientifically proven and blah, blah, blah…. I don’t think that it is an accessible way to implement design and I chose not to bother with it myself because

a) I HATE MATHS and I am terrible at it and I’m sure that most creative people are

b) The most important thing about designing a room is how it makes you feel

 

As a designer I think that one of the most important things is how a room makes you feel and that in itself makes interior design so much more accessible to everybody – Hooray!

Different rooms serve different purposes both in terms of practicality and in the feelings that they evoke and when it comes to designing and styling a room I think that this is a completely personal thing based on your individual personality.

So my advice is to trust your instinct and not to sit down and study the golden ratio until your brain hurts!

But having said that scale and proportion are still important and certainly not a factor that should be overlooked so here are a couple of key tips that can be used in all rooms great and small…

 

CoMBiNe DiFFeReNT HeiGhTS

This is especially important in a room that has high ceilings. All that vast wall space can feel a bit overwhelming but you don’t need to plaster every inch of the walls with artwork and pictures. Think about using differing heights in all aspects of the room. For example with a high ceiling have a statement piece of lighting that hangs just above eye level and creates a focal point in the room and combine tall pieces of furniture with a few shorter pieces so that the eye is drawn both up and down, this not only works to promote the visual appeal of the space but it also tackles the height of the ceiling without making the room feel too cluttered. Same rule applies to a room with a lower ceiling but obviously on a smaller scale (by this I mean you won’t get away with using a huge pendant light in a room with a lower ceiling of course). Just trust your instinct, really look at room and use varying heights to create more depth, just remember to keep it balanced and think about the room as a whole from floor to ceiling, it really is that simple!

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This room demonstrates a variety of different heights from lighting to furniture to accessories

 

 

Focal Points are the answer

Every room no matter how small should have a focal point. This can be anything from a fireplace, to a window with a picturesque view, a bold statement sofa or even a television (although this is not the most aesthetically pleasing but probably one of the most common!), it is quite simply an element that your eyes are drawn to when you enter a room. So why are focal points relevant to the use of scale in a room? Well the focal point is what will ground the design and layout of a room and everything should radiate out from this point. It doesn’t have to be something particularly large or grand but the focal point will aid you in getting the scale and proportion of a room just right. For example if the fireplace is the focal point, you will likely have a piece of art or a large mirror hanging above it on the chimney breast to create more of a feature on this wall. On the mantelpiece you would then perhaps have some small decorative items to balance out the scale in this area of the room and add a level of contrast to the proportion. From here other elements of the room will radiate out, like the sofa would perhaps face the fireplace with maybe a floor lamp next to it which would be smaller but taller so would add height but is again a contrast in proportion to the sofa. The sofa may have cushions on it, perhaps that are slightly different sizes or shapes to add more visual interest and also to break up the size of the sofa.

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This room has two focal points, the mirror and the coffee table. The large mirror is flanked by two smaller wall lights and the coffee table is decorated with smaller items such as the tray and the vase. The armchairs radiate out from the coffee table as it is a focal point.

 

Last of all…

In a small room, don’t be afraid to have anything too large. It is a common misconception that you can’t have, for example a large sofa in a small room because it would be counterintuitive. This is only ever true if said sofa is so large that it is causing an obstruction or making it difficult to move around easily in any way. Just remember that a boldly sized piece of furniture, lighting or décor will help to ground the room and give it some weight. What you should avoid doing in a small room, is having too many small items, such as lots of small pictures on the wall because this will simply reinforce the feeling of small.

 

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This small living room uses the oversized rug and sofa to ground the space and smaller accents such as the floor lamp and the coffee table to define the balance between scale and proportion.

 

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Whereas this small living room feels somewhat cluttered and lacking in space as there are too many small pieces of wall décor spread around the room with only the sofa offering a bit of weight to the space, the balance is off as the contrast in scale is too harsh.

 

 

In a larger room the main thing to remember is that the larger the space, the more focal points you will need. This is the key way to create spacial harmony in this type of environment.

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In this room the focal points are the statement ceiling light, the television wall and the huge windows. There is a good balance of proportion in this space.

 

 

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In this room the fireplace and artwork make up one strong focal point within the space with the oversized house plant acting as another. The proportion of the rest of the furniture has been carefully scaled to compliment the focal points, resulting in a harmonious scheme.

 

In my opinion a well balanced room will make you feel happy and content and that is what I strongly believe your home should always do for you. A large piece of art will add drama and give a room a more opulent feel, while a decorative table lamp will add a feeling of warmth and cosiness. When designing a room think about how you want that room to make you feel, find or create a focal point and then work on varying the scale and proportion until you find the right balance. Don’t doubt yourself and be bold with your decisions – you can do it!