Welcome to my design blog, where you'll see posts about anything from my current interiors obsession, the latest fabric and wallpaper collections and 'how to' guides for all things interiors related. I love colour and mixing pattern, but also covet an uncluttered interiors look. I especially love the moment when you see something so beautiful that it makes you take a sharp intake of breath. Happy reading, and if you have any questions, would like to chat about anything interiors related, or share your interiors obsession, please use the contact form to get in touch.

Thank you,

Louise

Wallpaper made of cork?

29 Oct 2019

A photo of the wallpaper made from cork, By Monkey Puzzle Tree
Sustainability and concern for our environment are key in the interiors world right now (as they should be). So when I saw that Monkey Puzzle Tree (a brand I admire for their sense of style and creativity) had produced this wallpaper made of cork, I was blown away. Cork is great for so many reasons - it can be harvested every nine years without harming the tree, is grown without the need for pesticides or fertilisers, has excellent sound and heat insulation properties, and is naturally antimicrobial and antifungal. This wallpaper has an A+ rating for emissions so it creates a healthy environment wherever it is hung. Add to this that the design was produced in collaboration with the talented Drew Millward who lives in my home county of West Yorkshire, and that it's called 'Hit The North', I was bound to fall in love with it. You can buy the wallpaper here.

I'm in Cardiff Life magazine - again!

17 Sep 2019

The front cover of Cardiff Life Magazine issue no.208, Autumn 2019

Now that the summer is officially over and our thoughts turn to cosying up our homes for winter, I'm here to help. If you're in need of some inspiration, you can read all about the interiors trends for Autumn and how to work them into your home in this month's Cardiff Life magazine. Hear what I and other interiors experts have to say on pages 18-22. You can read the digital version of the magazine here.

I've been nominated for an Amara Interiors blog award!

6 Sep 2019

The Amara interiors blog awards voting banner 2019.
Exciting news! My little blog (Design Insider) has been nominated for an Amara Interiors Blog award! I'm so chuffed to be included at all, and not expecting to win, but if you enjoy reading my blog posts then please vote for me. I'm nominated for the Best Interior Designer blog category. Voting is open until the 11th of September and you can vote for me here.

My kitchen project featured on the Artifact Lighting blog!

1 Aug 2019

A view if the contemporary copper kitchen featuring the copper pendant lights from Artifact Lighting.

When I designed the contemporary copper kitchen, I wanted to use some copper elements to add warmth and also to tone in with the pink walls and pale grey units. I found these pendant lights from a company called Artifact Lighting, and they are perfect because they add to the 'warm glow' I wanted to acheive. They also have a vintage look which contrasts nicely with the sleek look of the kitchen units. When the kitchen was finished I sent some pictures to Artifact Lighting, and they liked the kitchen so much they featured it on the blog page of their website.

You can read the blog page here

House of Hackney's first outdoor fabric

26 Jun 2019

A photo of the new House of Hackney Palmeral print for outdoor use.

One of my favourite interiors brands, House of Hackney, who are known for their daring and quirky prints, have just released a new fabric which is suitable for our door use. They took one of their designs, Palmeral, and reimagined it in a fresh colour palette of off white and green. This colour fast and water resistant fabric can be used for anything from outdoor cushions to furnishing yachts (if you are lucky enough to have one!)

My thoughts on the colour Living Coral in Cardiff Life Magazine

31 May 2019

A photo which accompanies the Cardiff Life article about Living Coral
Hear what I and my fellow designers have got to say about Pantone's colour of the year, Living Coral, and how to use it, in this month's Cardiff Life magazine. The article is on pages 84-86, and you can read it here. Do you think you could use it in your home?

Sustainability in furniture design

7 May 2019

A photo of the new Componibili Bio.
Sustainability is something that is becoming more and more important in interior design - not just where we buy items from and how far they've travelled to get to us, but also the materials that they are made from. Kartell, one of Italy's best known design brands, have just released the world's first piece of furniture made from a bioplastic called Bio-On. It's a fully sustainable version of one of their best selling items - the Componibili modular unit, and it comes in four delicious pastel shades. They may be 100% sustainable, but they are also super cute and bang on trend with this seasons colours. You can buy them here

The latest trend in shutters

24 Feb 2019

A photo of California Shutters new range in ash wood.

Forget painted shutters - the new style direction for window shutters is bare wood. These full height shutters made from sustainably sourced ash are the newest product from California Shutters, and are set to be big this year.

californiashutters.co.uk

My new favourite tile!

7 Feb 2019

A picture of the Lampas Marint pattern tile from Topps Tiles

I was searching for some tiles for a client's splashback recently and came across these beauties from Topps Tiles. There's long been a trend for patterned tiles, with lots of geometric shapes and bold colours going on, but I've begun to see more and more tiles with a pattern in the surface of the tile itself. These ones are a lovely example, and the deep blue colour is just stunning. To get a closer look at them, follow the link below.

Lampas Pattern Marine tile

Pantone announce their colour of the year 2019

11 Dec 2018

a shot of a coral reef with the description Color of the Year 2019

Leading colour experts Pantone have annouced the shade which they think will be the colour of the year for next year - Coral pink. It might look very bright and scary, but it's actually quite easy to use. I wouldn't suggest painting a whole room in it, as that might be a bit overwhelming, but I would use it in small doses, such as on cushions or in artwork, to liven up a shceme. Pantone say that the colour is meant to 'embrace us with warmth and nourishment and provide comfort and bouyancy in our continually shifting envirnoment', which basically means it's a happy, uplifting colour, and might just cheer us all up!

My work featured on Homify

8 Oct 2018

a view of the dressed bed, pink walls and blackout lined curtainsMy work has been featured in an article on Homify - one of the leading online ideas platforms for all things interiors. My project is in an article on how to avoid common mistakes when designing a bedroom. The article mentions how important it is to block out light for a good nights sleep - something I addressed by adding blackout lining to the curtains and adding an extra layer of window dressing with the wooden Venetian blinds. To see the article, please use the link below.

Homfy article - Are you guilty of these 8 bedroom design mistakes?

New Year, New Home Goals?

A photo of paint charts and a tester pot of paint

With the Christmas and New Year celebrations just behind us, our attentions often turn to home improvements at this time of year. There might be something that you’ve been meaning to do for a while now, but have only just found the time to discuss it with your partner. Or, you might feel refreshed from your Christmas break (aren’t we all?) and have some renewed energy to tackle those lingering jobs around the home. Either way, now is the time to start planning to get those projects done.

Whether you’re making a large change, such as a kitchen extension, or tackling something smaller such as a fresh coat of paint in the lounge, here are my 10 tips for making your project run smoothly.

1. Make A List - List everything that you’d like to change room by room - there might be some things that just aren’t working for you (such as the layout), you might need more electrical sockets, or you might fancy a new look for your bedroom. Whatever the jobs are, work through them room by room and write them all down so you have a clear picture of what needs to be done.

2. Prioritise - Next, prioritise the jobs in order of importance to you by thinking about which problems are bothering you the most. Which changes will improve your day to day life more? Is that leaky tap in the kitchen driving you mad? Can your dream kitchen extension wait until later in the year when the weather is warmer? Often we don’t have the finances available to tackle all the work at once, so it can be helpful to decide which jobs are the most urgent and which ones can wait until you have more time and money available.

3. Be Realistic - Think about what can be achieved in the time you have - if you love spending your weekends doing DIY then you will probably achieve quite a lot throughout the year. If, like the rest of us, you’d prefer to spend your time off doing the more fun things in life, then come up with a plan which allows you time to do a bit of both. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can get it all done in a short space of time, as you might end up feeling a bit demotivated if you don’t hit your goals. That way, if you do start getting things ticked off your list more quickly than expected, you can always work on the less important jobs too.

4. Work on one room at a time - If you feel that there is a lot of work to do on your home, or there are lots of small jobs spread across a few rooms, perhaps choose one room to do thoroughly, so that you don’t try to do too much and feel overwhelmed. Having one room at a time in chaos whilst having work done is a lot easier to cope with than the whole house feeling like it’s upside down. I’d suggest keeping at least keep one space clear of work and mess so that you have somewhere to retreat to when it all gets too much.

5. Make a plan of works - If you have a larger project in mind, such as an extension or loft conversion, I’d recommend making a plan now for works to completed later in the year, as there will always be things which will take time to put in to place. Be aware of anything that might slow down your schedule, such as gaining planning permission, or finding the right builder or interior designer (if you need one). Good people are always busy and worth waiting for, so build that time in to your plan and start looking for the people you need now. You’re more likely to get a ‘yes’ from the builder you want if you can say that you have all your plans in place and would like the work to start in six months time, rather than immediately.

6. Set a budget - It can be tricky at this stage, but try to define your budget as best you can - this isn’t the amount you have in savings, or the amount the bank will lend you, but the amount it’s actually likely to cost you. Start by making a list of all the items you’ll need, and check with your builder or installer exactly what materials are included in their quotes. For example, builders will often quote for decorating a room in white or magnolia paint, as this can be bought in bulk and is relatively inexpensive. If you’ve set your heart on that designer paint shade, then it will cost you extra and you’ll need to factor this in. You’ll also need to account for the smaller things such as light switches and sockets, which can often be forgotten about, but those screwless shiny chrome sockets that you just have to have can add up to a surprising amount when you need 15 of them!

7. Splurge vs. Save - One way to come up with a realistic budget is to have a look at your ‘wish list’ and decide where to spend and where to save. You would usually spend more on the items which you’ll live with the longest, such as a sofa, bed or window dressings. You can then spend less on things that you might want to change seasonally such as cushions and accessories. One advantage of planning early is that you can make the most of the January sales, as retailers often offer great discounts at this time of year. If you know exactly which items you need now, you’ll be able to shop around and save money.

8. Add up all the costs - Once you have a list of all the works which need to be done, and a list of all the materials you need to pay for, add on labour costs and any designers or architects fees. Always add a contingency of 10-20% of the total, as there are always unforseen costs when having work done. This applies to smaller projects too - if you’re just refreshing a room with new paint for example, you might find that you uncover some uneven plasterwork when preparing your walls, and that you need to re-plaster - something that you couldn’t have known before you started work, but it will still need to be paid for.

9. Make a long term plan - When you’ve worked out the budget for your project, you may realise that you don’t have all the funds needed for it now. I would suggest making a longer term plan for your room or projects to be completely finished, and then work out a schedule of work which can be done in stages. Do the structural or necessary bits first and then pay for other work or items in stages as and when you can afford it. By sticking to your plan you’ll feel more in control, and be more inclined to live through the messy and unfinished stages, as you’ll always have the end goal in sight.

10. Communicate - If you hire any professional, be it a decorator, builder or interior designer, the key to making everything run smoothly is good communication. Don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t understand something, or to say if you’re not happy with any aspect of their work. Try to keep a written record (such as email) so that you can be sure that everyone is clear and is up to date with any changes. This way, everything should go according to plan and you should avoid any costly mistakes.

That said, it can be quite stressful to undertake any work on your home, as it’s the place where you retreat to from the rest of the world. It’s difficult to see it being taken over by tradespeople, who often have to create a lot of mess before they can make any improvements. By planning ahead, you should be able to reduce the amount of time your project takes, and give it a better chance of success. The next project I’m undertaking on my house is a redesign of my youngest son’s room, as he desperately needs more space. This will involve him moving out of his room for a couple of weeks whilst we get everything done. I’ll let you know how we get on!

 

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Another view of the minimal living/dining space. These colourful chairs are the stars here as they are upholstered - so are comfy -  and the colour and texture really add  interest. Just what the clients wanted! The dining table was a great find too as we needed a table that extends to over three metres in a Mid Century style to fit all their relatives around. I think it's going to be earning it's keep over Christmas... The little area I like to call 'sit and look at the garden corner' of this living/kitchen/dining space. The large windows and doors let in so much light and give a real sense of connection to this couple's garden that I thought it was really important to have a chair just for sitting and contemplating, which can also be moved around for extra seating. Although, now that they have a young baby they might not have too much time for sitting down! A close up of the fab coloured glass lighting we chose (from Heals) in my remote living /dining room project in London. These lights were actually the starting point for the design as we all loved them and settled on them quickly. They set the tone for the rest of the.design which has a Mid Century vibe.  I love the simplicity of this style of furniture, and it's worked really well in this room that the couple wanted to keep open and light, but with some colour (of course!) A pic of the living space I designed remotely in London, and went to take some photos of when I was visiting Decorex. The clients wanted some colour but to keep the space light and bright, so we went for off white walls (never brilliant white!) and added colour in the furniture. It's a very simple design (which is what they wanted) but the personal gallery wall and warm colours make it home. Here's a last pic of the Victorian terrace knocked through room. This piece of original art was central to the design as the couple love collecting art and this is a favourite. It was hidden away in the back room, but now really pops against the contrasting pink wall.  I love this piece - it reminds me of those '70s prints of the blue girl and I could look at it for hours. And here is the other part of the 'knocked through room'. The clients were struggling with a use and identity for this room, as happens so often with this middle reception room in a Victorian terrace. It would have been a formal dining room but now we eat in the kitchen we're not sure what to do with it. I suggested some cocktail chairs and a console table and to use the shelves as a bar area, and now they have a place to relax with drinks. The clients say that 'People feel transported into a luxury members club or hotel which is exactly the lux feel we wanted from the design whilst allowing us to use the space in a way that works for everyday'.