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  • Back to Basics: 2017 Design Shows Update

    November 7, 2017 | Posted By: | Uncategorized |

    The design shows this year have a completely different flavour  than 2016. Gone is all the bling and sparkle of last year, replaced with a simpler, more honest, natural aesthetic.

    This years Pantone colours seem derived from the most ‘ life full’ natural elements.

    Primrose Yellow copied from  the flowers of course or  from the superhot sun, Pale Dogwood and Hazelnut remind me of dry dusty cracked earth.  Island Paradise is a pure  Carribean sky, and Lapis blue a full Mediterranean sea. Greenery feels like the freshest grassiest grass. Flame is the most deliciously burnt orange and Kale the colour of home grown veg.

     

    At this years Decorex Interior Furnisings show  monochrome prints are all over the fabric stands, but with a natural unbleached background and a single stunning print colour or  two taken straight from the Pantone palette. The fabrics feel like they are from a Textile students end of year show. In a good  way! They are simple, organic and fresh.

     

    Celebrity designer Nicky Haslam has a stand this year that is, as always right on trend! It feels Colonial, Caribbean, sixties and  hippy all in one. The wallcovering is monochrome  but with sixties brown in place of black. The furniture is all made of rope harking back to those rattan lamps and chairs we all had. The look  is  fresh but also a little safe.

    There are a number of furniture makers showing traditional joinery details and some  gorgeous ironmongery. Joints and junctions are visibly on show and screws exposed and accessible  giving a handcrafted quality appearance.

    The metal of the moment is still brass but now a little less polished and a little more tarnished. The feeling is of careful loving production and local craftsmen rather than  mass production. It seems small is beautiful once again!

     

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    London Townhouse

    October 13, 2016 | Posted By: | Uncategorized |

    Working with Victorian houses can produce a number of challenges.

    Modern families require larger ground floor spaces that are flexible to suit all the families dining, socialising and entertaining needs. We are much less private, more intermingled than our Victorian equivalent.

     

    We need a couple of TV’s on the ground floor alone so everyone can watch what they like, eat in kitchens as opposed to a small pantry and separate formal dining area and plenty of WC’s (one per floor)  for make-up application, bathing, potty training, heat magazine etc. etc.

    What Victorian houses do provide are some beautiful traditional details in terms of doors, fireplaces, floor tiles, balustrades and ceiling mouldings. These create a stunning individual backdrop for the design of the house but aren’t necessarily compatible with modern design techniques.

    In this Townhouse in London we have tried to use modern construction methods but with an echo of the past.

     

    In the living room and hallway we have used engineered parquet flooring. This has a chevron pattern that is not typically Victorian and is suitable for underfloor heating but still has a retro feel to it and adds a natural texture to the house.

    We have added panelling to the living and dining room to give an even grander feel to the rooms and then modernised the panelling with retro light fittings from original BTC.

    On the upper floors we have fitted traditional style radiators sprayed a funky gold colour and throughout are quirky brass wall lights and ironmongery to give an updated/ retro feel.

    The kitchen is inevitably more contemporary with a minimal feel and stunning geometric clay tiles.

    The Copper pendants add a fun industrial twist to the moody grey colour scheme and the bright coloured 60’s furniture classics  provide another retro layer and a sense of fun.

     

     

     

     

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    Summertime

    August 26, 2016 | Posted By: | Uncategorized |

    I once had a dream of a natural pool in my back garden or should I call it a lake. Unfortunately as yet my back garden has never seemed quite big enough. The concept is a great one though, no nasty chemicals just swimming on sunny days with a little bit of nature and perhaps a few bugs and fish.

     

    If you don’t happen to have a 10 acre plot which I guess is all of London, there  are some alternatives. A company called Clearwater Revival design chemical free indoor and outdoor pools.

    These pools consist of a swimming area and a ‘regeneration area’. The swimming area could even be a traditional box rectangle shaped pool, it will look the same as a conventional pool but the water will be untainted and far more pleasant to swim in. The regeneration area of the pool is often contained within a separate miniature pool and is responsible for cleaning, filtering and oxygenating the water that passes through here.

    The plants that grow in the cleaning area could include reeds, cattails, water lillie’s or any other native plant that acts as a filter. Any animals or bugs will most likely be attracted to this area for its plant life, but these in turn will control any pest issues such as mosquitoes from laying their larvae into the water. Plants also serve you by consuming nutrients that could otherwise begin forming. However mosquitoes won’t be a problem if you circulate the water using a water pump that can be charged by solar energy. This in turn will clean, oxygenate and circulate the water.

    The two zones or levels also create a deep end and a shallow end  to the pool which offers great functionality  as some people can,  sit and chat or relax in the shallow end whilst others swim in the deep end and the different levels create a really interesting architectural feature.

    If this is still on rather too large a scale for your plot then bringing in a landscaper to dig a jacuzzi into the ground so that it is flush and adding some weathered stone and surrounding it with lots of green texture and planting will create a little bit of nature in your back garden. The jacuzzi  can be heated by a wood burner which makes it more environmentally friendly and gives another heat source which could suit our British summertime!

     

     

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    Under The Stairs

    August 25, 2016 | Posted By: | Uncategorized |

    Thank goodness the signs of summer have finally arrived  and London is having a heatwave. With the long summer days, perhaps it is time to get your house ‘ship shape’ ready for the autumn months when we will be moving back indoors. We all have those scary places in the house where things get dumped and forgotten.  A classic hiding place that can be targeted is the space under the stairs. Ours houses a rather awkward cupboard stuffed with Scooters, hoovers and boxes that haven’t been opened since we moved in.

    A very common use for this space is a ground floor WC. They can be dark and awkward. But with some interesting lighting, contemporary light walls and clever space management a quirky, unique room can be created. See this clever sink / WC combo that uses very little floor space but makes the maximum use of the area with the best head height and looks quite stylish too.

    If storage is what you are desperate for then there are ways to make the most of it. These pull out doors with compartments specifically designed for coats, hats or shows, maximize the use of the space, look really slick and become part of the natural architecture of the hall. Add some led strip lights inside on a movement sensor and nothing will get lost inside and the effect is stunning.

    This design creates a dedicated  area for reading; with bookshelves above a built in seating area and cunningly designed storage that looks like walls with skirtings attached. A kind of cosy cave.

    If your stairs are open plan to the kitchen area then they can provide either an interesting feature wall or really useful additional kitchen storage.

    A built in bar area can be fun fitted into in a tight space. It makes a really individual feature and if you add mirrored backs to the shelf and serving area this gives a glamorous touch, highlights the shape of the stair and reflects light back into the room.

    If  you are short of a room in the house then this under stair space can be adapted to make an extra one. This office area would otherwise be taking up useful bedroom or living space. Snuck in under the stairs is a compact study with stationery drawers, filing, shelving and plenty of work space.  Although it is probably only really suitable for the super tidy, modern, paper free worker who is not in need of a spring clean anyway!

     

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    SOFT SUMMERTIME COLOURS

    July 26, 2016 | Posted By: | Uncategorized |

     

    Every year the interiors and fashion industries await the Pantone colour of the year selection, around which many trends in both sectors are then based. This year was a surprising selection, with ‘Rose Quartz’ and ‘Serenity’ as the two main feature shades.

    “As consumers seek mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to the stress of modern day lives, welcoming colours that psychologically fulfil the yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent,” says Pantone.

    The soft pinks and blues that are now ‘on trend’ feel similar to the colours favoured in the fifties. This was a time of hope, looking to a new post war future when loving the home and mass production of furniture and homewares really took off.

    Smeg and Le Creuset, two manufacturers who’ styling embraces a retro theme have both brought out new ranges including the new pastel colours.  So you can now update your kitchen with the latest co-ordinated accessories.

    These fairly lights are an easy accessory to use in a child’s bedroom and create a calm glow, or perhaps even a nursery as they work well for both sexes.

     

    Re-upholstering an old settee or re-covering some scatter cushions adds serene palette to your living space. This new geometric Romo fabric gives a little more interest than just a block colour.

     

    Furniture manufacturers have also brought out pieces reflecting the style of the 50’s but in a new organic way.

    Adding unique furniture pieces to a room with rugs, free standing lamps and accessories creates a quirky space with lots of interesting features. Yet when they are all brought together using this colour  palette the overall effect is still calm yet interesting!

     

     

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    Totally Tiles

    April 25, 2016 | Posted By: | Uncategorized |

    Gone are the days of boring monotone ceramic tiles and mock stone porcelain alternatives. Anew wave of commercial design re-inventing how we use our floor and wall finishes.

    The dilemma of a warm homely feel and a hard wearing surface have always caused issues, particularly when specifying bathrooms and kitchens. We want these rooms to feel homely but also to stand the test of time.

     

    Mandarin Stone ‘colour block’ range has a great new selection that can be combined with their simple colours for a real ‘designer’ feel for any wall. Great in a kitchen or bathroom for a feature wall when you want to add a touch of wood into the room and also an accent colour and an individual feel.

    If you want a wood floor feel in your bathroom or kitchen try some of the new ranges of wood plank tiles that give the look of large aged planks of wood bur are actually porcelain tiles.

     

    From  Slate-ish, these architectural tiles are made from recycled materials, and mimic the concrete effect perfectly, whilst being light enough to apply to most surface. The sustainability factor is another reason why these are a great new product. The also produce the strip tile which creates a stunning and porous feature wall especially if you add accent lighting to highlight the textured finish and the shape and unevenness of the tile surface.

     

    Strip tiles by Slate-ish

    For a really up to date quirky feature these tiles from Alhambra Tiles add a unique contemporary twist on the hand painted tile we have come to associate so much with the ‘traditional’ interior. They have a Morrocan feel but also work well in a traditional English interior. Creating a feature as you would with a rug really makes them stand out without being overwhelming.

    Architects and Designers Claesson Kovisto have updated the traditional Moroccan tile with these beautiful versions. They come in a range of colours . The organic nature of them shows that you can make an incredible unique feature wall with tiles.

     

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    Blue Monday

    January 25, 2016 | Posted By: | Uncategorized |

    This season blue has completely taken over the Interiors world.

    The little Green Paint Company has brought out a new colour chart named strangely enough ‘Blue’ which promotes all the blues that are currently in vogue. ‘Ultra Blue’ being an incredibly bold cobalt blue for a contemporary Mediterranean look , but also every shade from a soft ‘only just blue’ named Celestial White’ which would be lovely in a bedroom.   Through to a traditional and pretty ‘Bone China Blue’ which would be stunning in a traditional kitchen and also a darker daring ‘Hicks Blue’ which would create an atmospheric dining room or entrance hall.

    This year's Little Greene Paint Company stand at Decorex 2015 in Syon Park, photo ©AMOK Ltd.

     In-keeping with the theme were a large number of Portuguese furniture designers at the show. Historically famous for their tiles, Portuguese contemporary furniture makers are now using stunning contemporary tiles in interesting ways to make crazy furniture pieces. This sideboard is made to order and each piece is unique.

    As seen at Decorex 2015 in Syon Park, photo ©AMOK Ltd.

     If you fancy making a statement in a hallway or perhaps papering a fun small space like a cloakroom so that is ‘the height of fashion’  take a look at the ‘New Geometric II’ collection that has just been launched by Cole and Son. It has some brilliant funky papers that also come in other colours, not just Blue and work with both traditional and contemporary pieces.

    Cole & Son

     Even the stone suppliers are promoting incredibly exotic slabs which create truly fabulous interiors, feature walls and furniture.

    As seen at Decorex 2015 in Syon Park, photo ©AMOK Ltd.

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    Cool Garden Spaces

    August 1, 2014 | Posted By: | Uncategorized |

    Recently I have been considering moving my office and graduating into an altogether more exciting direction in a somewhat unique setting; namely The Garden! And it seems I am not the only one, as we currently find ourselves working on a number of garden studio and office rooms.

    Working from home can have many distractions, and there are certainly some valuable benefits to decamping and moving to the bottom of the garden. Physically it separates your working environment to your living space, leaving your kitchen tables free for their intended purpose, and making it less likely for interruptions by family and pets.

    Financially is can also add value to your property, and is certainly cheaper than renting a commercial site.

    Image from The Garden Room Guide

    ‘Shedworking’ may not appeal to everyone, as it inevitably conjures up images of the dusty, tumble down timber hut, filled with an assortment of redundant tools and fossilised cans of paint. However, with an increasing amount of people deciding to work from home with more than 2.5 million businesses being run from home (*source:   Alex Johnson  theguardian.com, Saturday 25 April 2009 00.01 BST) there has been a growing trend to re-invent the humble garden shed.

    Photo: ©Mark Seelan

     

    From recycling an old shipping container to create a cool, fresh take on the office shed, to this DIY workshop, there are options to suit all budgets and requirements.

    Image from Dezeen

    And let’s face it; when the sun is beaming down in the summer months, who wouldn’t want to stroll over the lawn to their very own hideout.

    As seen on Pinterest

    Garden rooms are not solely limited to office spaces. It could also be a useful spare room for the in-laws, and serves very well as a music studio as it would be more discreet when raising the decibels.       Other great uses could be as a private gym room, media room or a luxury den to hideout in, although larger taller spaces with bathroom and kitchens do require planning permission.

    ©GrahamMitchelArchitects

    Whether you envisage a typical timber clad exterior, or lean more towards a contemporary powder coated aluminium box shape, with various options of render I recommend you contact a local architect /interior architect to discuss your ideas, and to find out more about the building regulations and planning laws involved to take you dream of a garden space to the next step.

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    Feeling Neighbourly

    April 3, 2014 | Posted By: | Uncategorized |

    It is a common problem for us to feel we have outgrown our homes as our families get bigger in numbers and size. The hub of most homes is the kitchen / dining / living room. (more…)

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    Back To Bling

    February 13, 2014 | Posted By: | Uncategorized |

    Things are looking up in the economy with the Bank of England reporting that economic growth is picking up at a better rate than previously expected. Also the government backed ‘Help to Buy Scheme’ offering  95% loans to first time buyers for properties up to a value of £600,000 is helping to fuel the property market. (more…)

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    Dream Spaces

    February 13, 2014 | Posted By: | Uncategorized |
    Bedrooms are the most private spaces in our homes so what goes in them is really quite personal .
    I once  designed a bedroom that was on office  also, it took up the entire first floor of a Georgian townhouse in Kensington.   (more…)
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    Sustainable Renovations

    October 22, 2013 | Posted By: | Uncategorized |

    Being sustainable on a new build is fairly straightforward as you have a blank canvas to work with although it can be costly. With renovation works it is a bit more complicated.  (more…)

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    Glass v Acrylic in Interior Design

    August 19, 2013 | Posted By: | Uncategorized |

    These two materials can look really similar but have quite different characteristics in terms of manufacturing and different uses. (more…)

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    Interior Design Storage Solutions

    June 24, 2013 | Posted By: | Uncategorized |

    Everything has its place.

     

    Being a designer does make you  a little obsessive about things, it kind of comes with the territory, if I wasn’t I guess I should think about a career change. In my world everything has its right and proper place, my family however might not see things quite the same way, but hey they are in training. To me the key to a calm and happy home is great storage. You really need a good balance of hidden built in storage and attractive loose furniture pieces. (more…)

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    Contemporary Home Extensions

    May 14, 2013 | Posted By: | Uncategorized |

     

    Growing Pains

     

    House prices in London are going crazy these days and what with stamp duty, solicitors costs etc. and not to mentions the stress of buying and selling houses, finding an alternative to moving seems like a really good idea. (more…)

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    Outdoor Room Design

    April 17, 2013 | Posted By: | Uncategorized |

    OUTDOOR ROOMS

     

    We all seem to be spending more time outdoors these days and it’s a curious fact that more  convertible cars are sold in the UK  than any other European country. (more…)

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    New Interior Designers fabric collections

    July 30, 2012 | Posted By: | Uncategorized |

    SUMMERTIME FABRICS

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    Interior Finishing Touches

    June 11, 2012 | Posted By: | Uncategorized |

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    Whats hot in kitchen design

    May 1, 2012 | Posted By: | Uncategorized |

    Planning a new kitchen,  well there’s lots to consider: the style, the layout and the gadgets!

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    Lounging Around

    March 10, 2012 | Posted By: | Uncategorized |

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