Making an entrance

I am in the processes of changing my hallway, again.  I did it fairly quickly when I first moved in as I couldn’t cope any longer with the existing burgundy and pink pinstripe wallpaper. However it was always one of the spaces I had to complete, as was never quite happy with it and guess what I don’t have the funds to make massive improvements.   So it got me thinking about how to make your hallway or entrance something special but on a budget.

Paint is the obvious, however think outside the box. One suggestion would be to paint the architraves and the doors a different colour to the walls, see below. This is the fantastic Paris apartment of Sarah Lavoine  she has expertly experimented with a limited  palette to create interesting combinations that highlight the architectural details and at same time create cohesiveness throughout her apartment. Such a refreshing way to apply paint colours that look like giant art works in their own right.

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Because hallways are transitional spaces it is an ideal opportunity to be a bit bolder. It is the first space people will see when visit your home and you want to set the tone and style of how the rest of your home will look. It is a space that takes on many rolls: links adjoining rooms, place to meet and greet, place to store all manner of things (keys, coats mail etc.) So it Needs to be practical to cope with the daily demands but this doesn’t mean it should be devoid of and personality and humour. Most importantly treat it as you would do any other room in your home, it needs colour, pattern and texture.

Another important element is good lighting, the key is to strike a balance between being functional – so you can see what you are doing – and creating atmosphere. You achieve this by layering lights. By layering I mean, don’t just go for a single pendant light, combine floor lamps, wall lights and table lights.

If you are lucky enough to have a separate cloakroom for coats, bags and shoes etc then make a feature of it and hang a statement wallpaper and add an interesting light source. If don’t have a big hallway, you will still need storage. I like this idea below of the vintage mirror fronted cabinet, practical but also has a great narrative to it. Or simply group hooks on a wall and add a rail for shoes. The image on the right has been styled to work with the monochrome colour scheme. Hence the colour co-ordinated coats, shoes and bags! I appreciate this is unrealistic, however it still a good idea if you have no other choice.

Emma's Blog  MAR 2012 - hallwaySGD - Hallway storage

Hallways are great places to house a Library wall, especially the image below, you wouldn’t need to bother with a ladder to reach the books. This isn’t eating into the open plan space, the book shelves only need to be 300mm deep. This is not a budget suggestion, but got me thinking about displaying books in a unit I already have, it could even just be on floating shelves or the bookcases from Ikea (painted same colour as your walls.) The image on the right is a really simple detail by stencilling numbers onto the risers. This is great if both renting or own a property as it is a cheap and quick fix.  I can just imagine the stair carpets in some rented accommodation will be hideous or worse still beige berber carpet that you see in every home, bland and so impractical.

Aubrey Road - zulaikha-laurence-house-dining-room Stair detail

I Hope that has given you some ideas, as hallways are not easy due to their many roles but remember you want to make a statement.  Figure out what you want from your hallway, no matter what size it is make it work for you and try something different.  I hope to see some of your hallways posted up on my Facebook page Sooz Gordon Designs

I have a previous post on door accessories click on the link and it discusses the importance of door accessories to complete your new look hallway.

Wonder wall

I have been asked a lot recently about wallpaper:  What are the benefits of wallpapering, and if so is it acceptable to just paper one wall? What other creative ways can I use wallpaper in interiors? Where can I source interesting wallpapers?

Wallpaper is a great way to add pattern and texture and intrigue to walls that you can’t achieve so well with paint. Wallpaper is also move forgiving in older properties, as walls are generally hand-made and as a result uneven. However, be careful when using a paper with a metallic element, as it highlights any blemishes on your wall. Don’t let that put off, it all comes down to good preparation. The same goes if you are painting the walls.

I came across this fantastic paper, when I was staying in the East Neuk a few weeks back.  It was in the owners vestibule, and couldn’t help myself but take a photo, as it felt so welcoming.  I wonder how long it has been there? It looks like something from the 1950′s. Vestibules, cloakrooms, WC etc are the best place to try out a wallpaper.  The are generally the smallest rooms in a house, so you have the opportunity to be bold and experiment. Ultimately it will give you the confidence to use wallpaper in other rooms you are in more.

Pittenweem Wallpaper

You have various options when you have made the decision to go for wallpaper. You can paper one wall, generally referred to a ‘feature wall’ I really hate that term, as it makes it sound a bit changing rooms! There is nothing wrong with papering one wall, if that is what is going to work for your budget and style. I often put into panels which is framed by a bead or in large oversized frames. This is a great tip if renting. You can prop term against walls, move between rooms and the beauty is you can take with, when move.  The paper below is by Timorous Beasties, a Scottish design duo that produce amazing textiles in form of wallpaper, fabric and cushions.

TB wallpaper panels

Another alternative but along similar lines of picking a feature wall, is to paper the ceiling. A bedroom is ideal for this project, as let’s face it you look at the ceiling in this room more than any other. I was all set to paper my bedroom celling, annoyingly, but predictably the paper I wanted was over £200 a roll, so that is something remaining on the wish list! The paper in question, was the tin roof tile look wallpaper below.  I have always had a thing for tin roof tiles, they are quite common in american lofts, I love the vintage look, like it has many a story to tell.

brooklyn-tin-tiles-wallpaper RstG

If wallpapering one wall,  you need to spend as much time considering what paint colour the remaining walls will be. I would tie it in by picking out one of the colours in the wallpaper. Or choosing a colour that blends in, so not a stark contrast that will end up looking like an after thought. So if we take the example of the tin roof look tile paper above, I would either use a white or any dark colour like grey, black, navy etc.  It comes down to personal preference at the end of the day, as my style, taste is different from the next persons.

If you are in two minds about papering a wall, or are renting another great way to introduce wallpaper is either: lining the back of a glass cabinet, or up cycling a non-descript piece of furniture with a bold graphic wallpaper like the sideboard below.

wall-mounted-distressed-black-display-cabinet-with-botanical-lining_-25317-p[ekm]335x502[ekm] Cole & Sons Facet 93-13043

Where to source, I am sure if you have looked into purchasing paper before you will know that there are hundreds out there. I deal with wallpaper companies as part of my job, and I get access to lots of papers that are not found on the high street.  However, I have listed some websites below, that all offer sample service and you don’t need to be a trade customer:

Cole &sons; Lewis &wood; Rocket St George; Graham and Green, Osborne & Little, Harlequin

Colour Trends

With every new year there are always new trends that go with it, and interiors is no exception. Just to keep it confusing different brands will select a different colour of the year.  It comes down to personal taste whether you like the colour and more importantly do you care about following trend? I don’t, but it is an option if you are stuck for a colour to try next and are looking for some inspiration. My advice would be to look at different tones of the so-called trend colours and find what connects with you. What I mean is try and not to go for the obvious, the same swatch colour that is featured in all the design magazines. There are lots of paint companies, so look beyond Dulux (not that there is anything wrong with Dulux) as I can guarantee that is what everyone will be using. Farrow & Ball, Fired Earth, Paint Library, The Little Greene and so on. They all have good websites, and will post out swatch cards free of charge. So widen your resources for paint, and inspiration, the effort will pay off.

TIP: Once you have narrowed down your search and have a few testers, don’t paint directly onto wall. Get large sheets of paper at least A3 size and paint your tester colour on there. It will mean you can move it around the room, so you can see what it looks like and you don’t have to live with little squares painted on the wall before you have time to paint on the new colour. You can pin it behind art work, furniture and behind lamps. You will find out if it works with the items of furnishings you are keeping.  You want to see what it looks like in both artificial and natural light as the appearance of the colour will change dramatically.

We all have a sense of style, we are all drawn to particular colours, patterns and textures even if you don’t think you have or can’t vocalise what your style is.  Interestingly our styles are always going to change, develop as we go through the years. This is what keeps your interior interesting and will mean that it is never boring or obvious.

My current obsession is using black walls, I have had the images below on file for a long time and plan to decorate my spare room, which frankly has been neglected.  People might be intimidated to use this colour on interior walls, It is a dramatic and elegant colour but does take bit of courage. It would work in any room in your house, the key is to make sure you limit soften the impact by teaming with lots of neutrals and or bring in a hint of a bright, vivid colour. See the yellow accent in the kitchen image below.

RomanandWilliams - 211 Elizabeth stbed_detail2_75789959kkstrend-2010_71508057Panelling

If black walls are a step too far,  why don’t you do the reverse and have neutral walls and lots of black furniture, dark flooring, black accessories. It is a classic look and blank canvas to add whatever accent colour you want.

Lotta agaton

Ideal Home Magazine – Article 2014

Delighted to feature in the Ideal Home Magazines latest edition (March 2014.) Received an early copy through the post today, I believe it will be in the shops February time.  I worked alongside a friend and colleague Jessica Kiddle who managed to take all my ramblings and put it into a great article.  The photographer was Douglas Gibb, who managed to capture my flat along with Winnie (the cat) brilliantly.  The hardest part was having to get my photo taken, for those that don’t know me, I hate getting my photo taken!  Thankfully it is more about my flat and what I do in terms of being a designer. It was back in August 2013,  when we combined our efforts and expertise to produce a feature that Ideal Home was able to publish.  I have to say it is a real pleasure to see any interior project I have been involved in, in print.  I have grown up in this flat and it is a very special place that I am lucky enough to call home!

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New beginnings

New year and new beginnings, who else over the festive period cleaned out a cupboard or a room? It felt like all I did was clean and edit rooms! However, there is definitely something satisfying about organising your belongings before you start a new year.  Your home always looks and feels more inviting over the festive period, as you add more decoration and lighting, and tends to look a bit sad once all the decorations are back in storage and forgotten about until next year.  It doesn’t have to be this way, you can recreate this look minus the festive theme.  Why was it your home looked better? Without a doubt it was because of 3 things: Lighting, Colour and finally Texture/pattern.

Lighting: You would have had extra light sources over the festive period in form of fairy lights on the tree(s), round banisters, basically if you are anything like me they would have been anywhere where you had a power source and could be hung from.  Also you would have used candles on your dinner table and dotted around the house, possibly even at your front door in lanterns? Lighting has such a positive effect, it creates an instant mood.  It can highlight areas, at Christmas time it is the tree, but when it is not you can make a focal point of something else – like a display cabinet, bookcase or shelf.  So my advice would be to add more lighting than you have at the moment.  I use fairy lights all year round, in my flat they are on top of wardrobes and kitchen cabinets, inside glass cabinets and on my bar trolley (see below).  If you are not fussed about fairy lights, you can layer the lights with another light source.  Floor standing, table, or wall – I am not a fan of pendant lights! Well I like them to finish a room but I never put lamps in mine as hate the harsh light if gives off.  If you can, install a dimmer that makes the light bearable (in my opinion.)  Wall lights are great, but  they need to be considered before you decorate a room and is a more costly exercise to conceal the wires. Fear not I have a solution! What about attaching them to a headboard or a ladder like the image below. I love this idea and you can pick up really smart industrial lights like this easily.

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Colour: this is by far the easiest way to change a room quickly, by simply painting a wall.  My advice would be to choose a more dramatic colour, why not it is only a tin of paint. No one will notice if you paint a wall white or a beige colour. Trust me it will make everything look more expensive and is a great backdrop for your furniture, lighting and art work. My lounge is a dark grey (down pipe by Farrow and Ball) this picture is taken during the day and it feels a bit light for me when I look at this image.  It is such a warm colour and it takes on such a different feel in the evening. People always comment how different it is when the visit at different times of the day.  If you are not confident to use a strong colour on all the walls, start with one wall. You might not like the idea of a ‘feature wall’ but there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Feature walls get bad press for some reason? If you need to take it in stages in order to gain confidence I would rather you did that, than not try something different at all.

SGD new beginnings

Texture & Pattern: By now you will have painted a wall or walls and have added more sources of light! So final step would be to introduce or add pattern and texture.  This is where you showcase your personality and is a great way to introduce other colours.  Look at items such as cushions, rugs, and throws, they vary in price, so it is what you can afford.  The high street have great home ware lines, BHS is brilliant for lighting, so is sainsburys (online) I spotted a few really nice lights recently.  So there is no excuse, have a look at online stores and see what is available.   My tip would be to mix up the textures if you want to go for same colour palette – combine wool, fur, linen, and velvet. If they are the same colour it will look much more interesting.  Also vary the size of the cushions, my heart sinks when I see all the same matching cushions that are all identical in size.  Sorry that is maybe a bit harsh, but there is so much choice, so there is no need.  The way to avoid this is to not buy all your cushions from the same shop.

Wallpaper is also another great way to add some pattern, I am a fan of putting detailed patterns in small room. It is a myth that you will make a room bigger by painting it white! The image below is my little cloakroom in my hallway, I have all manner of things in that cloakroom, coats, bags, art work, mirrors, old suitcase and so on.  It is a handy wee space, but it shouldn’t be forgotten about and it is a cheap area to decorate. Everyone comments on this space as it is a bit of fun.

SGD - new beginnings

I feel quite exhausted after writing this post, there is a lot of information and suggestions.  I don’t want to put anyone off, believe me I have only focused on the 3 main elements which I think are the game changers for any room/space.   It might be you don’t need to do all 3 areas, in that case you will be able to transform you room in a weekend.

Dual Personality

SGD - dual personality1 SGD - Light Relief - photo Julie Christie

Not all your pieces of furniture in you home, need to fulfil their intended purpose.  A chair can double up as a bedside table and a bass drum can be a side table in your lounge.  It might be you are not able to afford a particular piece of furniture you have your eye on. So it is a case of making do with what you have while you save up.  It can also bring to life an object or piece of furniture that was sitting unused, or it might have been ear marked for the dump as the chair seat or drum were broken.  What about salvaging that piece of furniture and re-using in a different way? The orange bent wood chair, pictured above, I painted this chair in a bold colour to give it a new lease of life and while it was dubious as a chair, it makes a brilliant bedside table.  This picture was taken before I had even purchased a bed, so you can see my priorities are slightly in the wrong order.  I would rather a quirky bedside table than a bed!

I am not a fan of matching furniture, particularly matching bedside tables.  It just feels a bit uptight and a bit  I get that it is practical, but it is the same as every bedroom you see .  What about using old trunks or a suitcase?  I won the monogrammed suitcase and trunk below from Curr and Dewars Auction House, and they are brilliant for storing all sorts and they were not expensive. They are more interesting than the obvious storage you are meant to have in a bedroom.  I have also used them as a coffee table in my lounge, so they get a new role when I feel the mood for a change.

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The images of the furnture above are what you could call multifunctional.  In the case of the luggage trunk it is a seat, storage, and a table.  This is perfect if you live in a small property, or are a first time buyer and don’t have the funds to buy lots of furniture, you need to make the furniture you can afford work for you and anything that has a dual personality is perfect solution.

Last point I will make is how important scale is when introducing furniture.