I often wonder how folk com eto the decisions they do when it comes to home decor and general style. I was in a house recently that screams 1970s – it had seriously retro sofa and sideboard. I was almost excited at first, thinking my otherwise staid and genuinely frumpy old buddy had been hiding some amazing style talents. But when I actually had a chance to look round her home, I realised these were simply things to sit on and dump stuff on. There wasn’t really any connection or emotion between the user and the item. If I was lucky enough to have an ercol table and chairs set from the middle of the 1960s, I would be caring for it with appropriate covers and making sure the rest of the decor around it all didn’t jar or detract from these as a central point. I nearly offered my chum the 1960s table cloths and other accessories I inherited from a grandmother, but I could see thees would probably get trashed like the other stuff!
I never really gave interior design a lot of thought before now – I’ve only ever accepted the dimensions of any given room as what dictated the sort of furniture I could have in it and been pretty satisfied with my lot. The change for me was a few years ago when sat in a traffic queue, just minding my own business, I took note of an eye catching bathroom setting in a very stylish bathroom and kitchen showroom. The showroom had been there years and I’d driven past daily, also for years but for that 2 or 3 minutes, I was transfixed and at the first opportunity, I raced back on foot to see the showroom itself. That was the start of my journey to having cleaner, more modern lines as a design theme. Starting funnily enough with my bathrooms and ensuite. It was a life changing decision – I called a couple of designers and chose the one who seemed drew a schematic totally encapuslating the vague ideas in my head and put them into a reall design. He was fantastic and his work still thrills me every day.
In this country we’re not usually known for shriekingly loud wall paper designs or flambouyant soft furnishings. As our houses tend to be much smaller than in some countries, we have let past generations influence us with their reserved colourways and lack of inspiration when it comes to ‘doing up the front room’. It’s quite refreshing to be able to watch the many home style daytime tv programmes – I particularly like make-overs where a team of ‘experts’ get to work on somewhere small and tediously ghastly. I have to say that some of the results at the end of the programme are equally ghastly, but it would be a boring show otherwise! However the point of the programme is to encourage people to take chances, make a splash and get out there and decorate – Doing up one room at a time, from ceiling to floor can be utterly exhausting and it takes practice to get each task done but it will be worth it.
We all need to feel space around us – from morning til night we can be rushing around and helping other folk. Busy lives call for more precious moments of just time to ourselves. In a hectic house, this is sometimes very difficult to achieve and the more we fill our houses with the latest furniture and effects, the less space we have for relaxing. The best possible way to ensure that a house is totally fit for purpose is to have an interior designer draw up an scheme. They are so experienced – they can look at an existing layout and see the potential for making a room more spacious and calming. It goes without saying that much of the problem is overcrowding with stuff – that has to be addressed but a design studio can turn a busy overloaded house into a divine and serene, relaxing home. They are the experts after all.
We do tend to stick to a particular theme in our family. My sister loves the soft romantic mauves, pinks and pale colours of heathers and light dawn shades. This had been their scheme for many years and then suddenly all change. They went over to pale ivory silk walls and a quite bold green leather for their settees and chairs. This was in fact because an interior designer friend had suggested she needed more colour and the speciality company supplying the reclining suite items had a fantastic sale offer on the green! It has made a tremendous difference to them as a couple – such vibrancy has really enhanced their mood and with the light that floods in, bouncing off the nice sunny walls, it looks most inviting and a joy to congregate in their. They have updated the artwork on the walls and of course the soft furnishings to suit. An incredible transformation.
Now that Christmas and the new year period is upon us, it feels like the right time to get down to changing some of the layout in my house – I am lucky enough to have a big enough area in most rooms to adjust the positioning of the furniture – not so much in the bedrooms as the wardrobes ae fitted along one wall, but it’s possible to move the bed to sit under the window and that sort of thing Changing and refreshing a room can revitalise our passion for a place – it livens up the senses and as they say, a change is as good as a rest. With smaller properties it’s not so easy – but with a little financial investment it’s possible to have an interior designer look over the property. It is incredible how a professional can make so much more of a space – it’s really worth their fee.
We all have our favourite way of display little bits and pieces around the home. I don’t like lots of ornaments, ceramic teddies or plaques of any sort. Nothing twee for me. I do however have a very nice collection of miniature jugs which have come from all over Great Britain and around the world. Once friends know you collect something, they kindly go lookng for something to add to it! These cute little creamers are kept in a dedicated display cabinet and are quite a source of intrigue for visitors. On the other hand, when I was doing a ‘cheering up the sick’ visit to a chum, I was slightly horrified by the sheer number of teddy bears she had lurking all around her cottage. She felt very much at home with her particular interior design quirkiness, but it made me feel very uncomforable. One woman’s passion is another’s poison maybe?
I have been visiting an ex colleague in her rather lovely villa in the med. She and her hubbie built the place themselves – from planning, designing and organising all the materials. They decorated it a particular way and my chum has never wavered from this . . . . It is a lovely place, but it’s been standing for some 20 odd years and of course, like everyone’s home, it is looking its age. I would love to get in there with a whole fresh new colour palette – take out the jaded greens and zip through with sunny shades. Over there the walls are treated differently to compensate for humidity, so base coats on very dry surface is essential. Then at least two coats of the top colour. If the surface was adquately dried and aired before the base coat then using kitchen and bathroom emulsion paint can be very successful – so long as humidity is not trapped between the coats.
I have a problem in my house currently – most of the ‘gloss’ work down the staircase and along the bannisters has worn away. I am peeved about this because only 3 years ago I paid for a decorator to do my entire house out from top to bottom. Every skirting board, cornice, ceiling, chimney breast etc. were painted. Instead of selecting gloss as we used to know it, this chap recommnded we put another product on – silk finish. It has never dried in the same way and almost immediately I noticed flecks of mud and harvest chaff getting stuck to it as soon as the door was opened. My bannister heads are in a proper state – yet they were still very well covered in the original gloss finish before matey started. I don’t ever do decorating if a chap is around to do it for me but I may have to amend that policy shortly – the combination of body lotionand hand cream on my hands has been the cause of the bannisters peeling like there’s no tomorrow!
I was watching a lifestyle tv show the other week – involving two brothers helping US & Canadanian families to bring their homes up to a certain value, so they can sell and move on up to their dream home – usually double the price of the old one. This programme is fascinating in that it highlights the massive difference between the build quality of our homes – ours have as standard a bricks and mortar outer wall over breeze blocks and all situated on sturdy concrete and brick foundation level. We have proper damp proofing courses and we really sturdy wind proof roof trusses and eaves inside. Properly fixed tiles help protect against most weather conditions. The remodelling of the houses is alarmingly cavalier but effective. The family pays aout $30K, but get the sales figure. I wonder why they don’t just stay in the fabulously remodelled house which is always an absolute dream in the end!