New Year, New Home Goals?
6 min read
Published 3 Jan 2019
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!
Welcome to my design blog, where you'll see posts about anything from the projects we are working on, to the latest fabric and wallpaper collections, and 'how to' guides for all things interiors related. I love colour and pattern, architecture and old buildings, and I especially love the moment when you see something so beautiful it makes you take a sharp intake of breath.
28 Apr 2022
|This month, we were pleased as punch to receive the Best Homes & Interiors award from the prestigious Cardiff Life Awards. Cardiff Life Magazine are well-known champions of our city, and the annual awards celebrate the best of Cardiff talent, so we are over the moon to be named 2022 winners!|
Morris & Co. X Ben Pentreath
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Little Greene and Bert & May join forces
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Little Greene has announced a collaboration with tile brand Bert & May. The collection sees eight gorgeous Little Greene shades translated onto tiles, giving you even more opportunity to add colour, texture, and a mix of materials to every area of your home. I love this bathroom combination above, with the perfectly matched tiles and paint offset with touches of terracotta, mustard and oak. You can see the full collection here.
Dulux colour of the year - Bright Skies
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So, Dulux have announced their colour of the year for next year, and here it is! Bright Skies is described as the 'breath of fresh air' that we all need after being indoors for so long. What do you think? I'm reserving judgement at the moment. It looks a little cold in the picture, but I don't think the beige sofa and the styling are doing it any favours here. Maybe colour drenched (painted on walls, ceilings, trims and doors) and with some warmer burgundies and terracotta, it could be lovely. You can buy the colour here.
A new home collection from Paloma Faith
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|British singer songwriter Paloma Faith has recently launched her first collection for the home. It includes wallpapers, fabrics, cushions and bedding, and she describes the look as 'faded grandeur and retro maximalism'. The prints are everything I love - dramatic, colourful and fun, and you can see more of the collection here.|
It's all about soft yellows
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|I was watching an Instagram live post from The Little Greene Paint Company last week, and they were discussing a comeback for yellow. Now, as you know, I don't think you have to follow the trends but yellow hasn't been fashionable for a long time, so this sunny, uplifting shade is often overlooked. A warm yellow like Little Green's Carys (above) is perfect for cheering us all up, and you can buy it here.|
The cushion that gives back
28 Jun 2021
|Introducing the cushion that gives back, from homewares company Oka. They have produced this cushion in partnership with The Trussell Trust who support two thirds of the UK's food banks, and 100% of the proceeds from sales of this lovely green velvet cushion will be donated by Oka to The Trussell Trust. It comes in a range of other colours too, and you can buy the cushion here.|
A beautiful new tile collection inspired by the National Trust
28 May 2021
|Just launched, Ca Pietra a new tile collection in collaboration with the National Trust. Every tile has been inspired by one of the historic properties, gardens or coastlines looked after by the Trust, and a minimum of £10,000 from sales of the tiles will be given to the National Trust to help them continue their important work. You can see the collection here.|
Yummy new switch & socket colours
28 Apr 2021
|Did you ever think that your light switches were good enough to eat? I'm guessing the answer is no, until now. You can now buy switches and sockets in these gorgeous colours from the new Dowsing & Reynolds Cafe Culture collection. They come in luscious shades like Cinnamon, Caramel Latte and Whipped Cream, so you can tone, coordinate or contrast with your wall colours and make every part of your interior scheme look delicious. You can buy the gorgeousness from here.|
A sustainable fabric choice
29 Mar 2021
|A beautiful new sustainable fabric range from Clarke and Clarke has just been launched. It's made entirely from recycled materials so you can refresh your home with a clear conscience. You can have a look at the fabric here. Get in touch with me if you'd like to buy any of this fabric.|
Sought & Styled - Preloved items given new life
28 Feb 2021
|This month I want to highlight a business run by a very talented lady I met a few years ago (remember when we could meet people?) Not only is she a creative interior designer, she also runs an online shop where she reuses and repurposes anything from soft furnishings to larger furniture items. Everything sold is bespoke and unique, and is effortlessly waste conscious because it's being used again. You can visit her shop here.|
Do kitchen worktops bore you?
27 Jan 2021
|Thanks to a genius idea from kings of pattern Blackpop, you can now have one of their colourful designs on your kitchen worktop. They will put any of their funky fabric or wallpaper designs onto waterproof MDF to make you a unique worktop, or they can even make a design just for you. Chopping will never look the same again! You can buy the worktops from their website here.|
A Fresh Take - Cardiff Life feature
18 Dec 2020
|This month's issue of Cardiff Life Magazine is out today, and features an interiors special, because one thing this past year has made us do is take a new look at our homes and how we'd like to live in them. To see what I and other local interiors experts have to say on the subject, including a round up of the trends for 2021, have a flick through the digital mag here.|
An enchanting inaugural wallpaper collection from Tom Baker
26 Nov 2020
|This opulent and atmospheric wallpaper from Tom Baker immerses you in a world of tropical flora, fauna and exotic animals. With soft cool tones and hints of pink floral detailing, this is the perfect wallpaper to add a relaxing and exciting edge to your home. Find this enchanting collection here.|
A new shady collaboration between Matthew Williamson and Pooky
20 Oct 2020
|The humble lampshade is often overlooked, but with the new collaboration between Pooky and Matthew Williamson they won't be for much longer! Matthew Williamson has applied his talent to design a new range of Pooky lampshades. Whatever your taste, colour scheme or budget you will find the perfect lampshade for your home in this new collection which is now available. This spectacular new collection can be found here.|
Felt covered curtain poles
17 Sep 2020
Now you can add some texture to your window dressing with these Walcot House felt covered poles. The pure wool coverings come with a option for bronze or steel fittings and wide spans up to six metres. The curtain track is cleverly hidden within the wooden curtain pole and there's a choice of nearly 50 colours and textures. You can find out more here.
Please vote for my blog
11 Aug 2020
|I'm really thrilled to have been nominated for an Amara Interiors Blog Award this year! If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to vote for me, I'm nominated in the Best Interior Designer Blog category, and you can vote for me here.|
Upcoming interiors trends from Love Rugs
10 Jul 2020
|Love Rugs, the people who know about all things rugs have just published a feature on the upcoming interiors trends for 2020. They asked six of the UK's top interior designers (including me!) to tell them what the upcoming trends are, and in particular the changes we will be making to their homes. The article can be read here, and if you'd like to have a look at the huge range of rugs they offer, click here.|
A new fabric collection from Linwood Fabrics
15 Jun 2020
|I love Linwood fabrics - they have a fab way of mixing colour and pattern into something really special, producing fabrics and wallpapers that make me want to coo. This new collection, available at the end of June, is just as gorgeous. It's called Kami, with the pattern inspired by a 19th Century document. The collection is a range of printed velvets, so perfect for upholstery and accessories like cushions.|
An easy way to update your kitchen
16 Apr 2020
|If you are looking to update your existing Ikea kitchen rather than replace it, Stockholm based company Superfront are here to help. They sell a range of fronts, handles, legs and tops to fit not just the Faktum kitchen range but also the Besta, Metod and Pax ranges - so you can customise anything from your sideboard to your wardrobe. These super cute round handles are part of their new birch collection, and the whole range can be found here|
Move over boring taps - colour is the new black
13 Mar 2020
|Colour has been taking over our kitchens and bathrooms for a while now (yay!), and has slowly been creeping into sanitaryware and fittings. These perfectly coloured mint green and pastel pink taps from the new Miami Colour Pop Collection from amazing homeware brand Dowsing & Reynolds are spot on and would look gorgeous in any kitchen or bathroom to add a shot of colour without overwhelming with sugary sweetness. You can learn more about this new collection here.|
Who knew a door stop could look this good?
19 Feb 2020
|Door stops are one of those little annoying things that we all need, but are not the prettiest to look at. Now London based Buster & Punch have turned their attention to the problem and transformed the humble door stop into something cool and covetable. They might cost more than your average one from a DIY store, but as you're going to see it every day, why not look at something beautiful? here.|
Wallpaper made of cork?
29 Oct 2019
|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
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
|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
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
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
|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
|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
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.
My new favourite tile!
7 Feb 2019
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.
Pantone announce their colour of the year 2019
11 Dec 2018
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
My 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.