Friday, 27 January 2012

A black and white view of everything…

A genuine classic when it comes to colour schemes is monochrome black and white. Black and white or simply white d├ęcor always does the trick in making your home appear effortlessly stylish and, to be perfectly honest, it’s actually the easiest colour scheme to pull off.

Images from Screen Image via Canadian House and Home and 4mo&mo

(Images from4mo&mo and Styling Lotta Agaton Photo Petra Bindel)

For monochromatic schemes to work, the room needs to have an even balance of black and white accessories – for example, look for striking vases or pieces of art, and don’t forget photographs. Using black and white photography is a great way of tying together the whole monochromatic effect in your home. It’s also worth bearing in mind that black and white photographs are one of the easiest and most impactful accessories to either create yourself or to purchase for a relatively modest amount.

(Image from rue via Aestate)

To get a bit of visual variety going on in the room, make sure you pick furniture and other items (such as cushions or throws) that are different in textures and finishes – this will keep the eye entertained and help break up the room a bit more effectively (so it doesn’t just look like a sea of black and white…).

Monochrome works fantastically on its own or as a great base into which a small injection of colour can be applied. Rather helpfully, black and white can withstand any accent colour so you can be really bold and splash colour here and there in the form of accessories and artwork. What’s great is that this means if you want to revamp the room you can simply change the cushions and art and you have a whole new scheme. TAH DAH… and for my next trick…

Sunday, 15 January 2012

The Industrial Revolution

One trend that has been around for some time now and will undoubtedly continue into 2012 is the industrial look (and I’m not talking about diamond encrusted Stella McCartney boiler suits, Jimmy Choo working boots and Philip Treacy hard hats) – the UK was the first country to ‘industrialise’ during the 18th Century and, in doing so, it created a no nonsense and practical design approach for industrial environments that used simple, cheap and robust materials – an approach that has endured and continues to be applied today. This style applied to the home takes many different forms, including; polished plaster bathrooms (which look absolutely stunning as well as being incredibly resilient), resin floors (which work really well throughout the home and are again incredibly durable), concrete kitchens (don’t cringe – they look amazing and are a perfect material for use in the kitchen) or just furniture and lighting with a real industrial feel (metal, stone, plastics – just straightforward basic materials put together in a straightforward and basic way). ‘Industrial’ is definitely a mega trend that will continue to be pervasive in the design world during 2012…

Whilst we aren’t all lucky enough to live in an old converted warehouse that is overflowing with authentic industrial features, there are relatively straightforward ways to create a distinctly industrial or urban feel within a space in the home. One of the easiest ways to achieve the industrial look at home is simply to use industrial materials (and to combine them in the right way within a scheme) – and, as mentioned above, concrete, plaster and resin are fairly obvious choices (it’s not a coincidence in recent months that we have witnessed a huge rise in the use of all three in interior design). Many designers, including myself, are now using them in even more unexpected and unusual ways and combining them very effectively with ‘industrial feel’ furniture and lighting to achieve the overall look.

Resin Floors - Resin floors are becoming extremely popular as part of both new industrial/commercial developments and the refurbishment of existing buildings. However, there is a growing trend for using resin as an attractive, dramatic and durable floor in domestic settings. They create supremely functional and hard wearing floors and make spectacular statements.

(Image from Gaile Guevara)
(Image from Gaile Guevara)

Concrete Kitchens – Kitchens have not escaped the industrial revolution – the latest emerging trend is the concrete kitchen. This involves a combination of practical and tactile concrete, from polished concrete flooring to worktops. Concrete is a wonderful practical solution for kitchens as it withstands heat, resists scratching and is easy to clean, all of which rather surprisingly makes it an ideal work surface on which to prepare food.

(Image from Steininger)

Polished Plaster – Bathrooms have also embraced the industrial look with polished plaster being used as a great alternative to tiles and stone – it provides a sharp and modern finish that complements modern sanitaryware perfectly. Interestingly, concrete has also found its way into the bathroom in the form of bathtubs (so we can probably add ‘non permeable’ to the list of characteristics of this material…).

(Image from Modulnova)
(Image from Modulnova)

Furniture & Lighting – Industrial style products are easy to work with and won’t date as quickly as other more quirky trends. Something from an old factory or warehouse that can be reclaimed is in itself a piece of history that looks original and effortlessly stylish in a home. Industrial is not overly fussy - the design is practical, simple and striking. It’s their functionality that actually makes them genuinely interesting. To get things started just look for over sized metal lighting or metal tables and chairs.

(Image from Rom 1-2-3)
(Image from Lotta Agaton by Petra Bindel)

Unfortunately the UK is not the great industrial and manufacturing nation that it once was, but the trend towards industrial design means that the essence of our manufacturing heritage is being revived within the home. We can however take some comfort from the fact that we still own one of the coolest manufacturing brands on the planet - Aston Martin… and if you look at the plans for the redevelopment of their Works facility in Newport Pagnell, there does appear to be plenty of polished plaster, concrete and resin, all blended effortlessly and effectively into a sleek and modern industrial design that complements the brand perfectly…

This blog is also available on Interiors UK. As official blogger for the event I thought I would also share the digital game that they have developed ahead of the launch this Sunday...

Do You Know Your Design? The game asks all knowledgeable interiors industry professionals to test their design know-how and match the names of famous British designers with the images of their creations. Sir Terence Conran, Robin Day, Eileen Gray and Charles Rennie Mackintosh are among the designers included in the game. INTERIORS UK also rewards all its players with Design Museum tickets and gives a chance to the two lucky players to scoop fantastic designs from renowned British brands...

Friday, 6 January 2012

Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right*

It’s the beginning of 2012 and with that comes the setting of annual resolutions that we will typically break within a week (well done if you are still adhering to ambitious resolutions around abstinence from alcohol) – one of my main resolutions for this coming year is to stop hoarding clothes and other items I haven’t used for years. So, in an effort to at least get things off on the right footing (as we are still in the first week of the new year) I thought I would provide you with some top tips on how to de-clutter effectively.

Many of us want to keep our home in order, but it can be tough. Over time our homes (read ‘we’) have a tendency to accumulate and collect all kinds of stuff – we grow into the space that we have, then we outgrow it, then we either move house (expensive) or decide to de-clutter (cheap, free or, if you get it right, revenue generating)… Most of the time we deceive ourselves into thinking that all the stuff in our home is absolutely essential, but it’s not! We are all guilty of holding on to too much stuff that we don’t really care for but are afraid to get rid off, just in case… Most of us hoard things and stash them away in valuable storage space, whether it is old clothes, letters, magazines or even plastic bags! Or, we have declared attachment to items for sentimental reasons, such as gifts, holidays and heirlooms. Blokes inevitably have random drawers full of cables (that they will never use because they don’t know what they are for) and old gadgets and phones (which can be easily sold for cold hard cash).

Given it’s the start of a brand new year, it’s time to redefine our deeply ingrained beliefs around the need to hoard, let go of the soppy sentimentality and get rid of all the stuff that is cluttering up your home.

Here are seven top tips on how to de-clutter your home:

1. Start Now – Procrastination is the major obstacle to de-cluttering (this may be driven by inability to accept that hoarding is a bad thing)

2. Start Small – Take one room at a time, set aside a day and commit to finishing it! Whether it is your bedroom, a spare room or kitchen. That way you won’t panic at the enormity of the task. You’re more likely to succeed by focusing on one room instead of flitting between rooms (which in itself makes de-cluttering a much larger and more complex task that is almost impossible to complete – we also end up moving stuff from one room to another and deceive ourselves into thinking that we are de-cluttering)

3. Make a Mess – This is the bit I love but my husband absolutely hates! My belief is that the starting point of an effective de-clutter is to make as much mess as possible and try to ensure that the room in question looks like a bomb has hit it… it’s good to see the magnitude of the task ahead and all the stuff that you have to sift through

4. Be Selective – Group like with like and determine; what you use, what you like and what is surplus to requirements. Only items that are used, perform a useful function or bring pleasure should be kept

5. Don’t Transfer Clutter – Try not to transfer clutter from one room to another – you will only have to deal with it properly another time and that can be soul destroying, more so if you have lots of rooms in your house – imagine what the final room on the journey will look like… (see point 2…)

6. Assess Storage Solutions – It is tempting to splash out on attractive storage boxes before you start de-cluttering - Don’t! Once you have de-cluttered and decided what to keep then it is time to look at storage options. To maintain a clutter free home it is essential that everything has a home;

a. We use 20% of our possessions 80% of the time so put this stuff in the most accessible places.

b. Keep belongings in the room where they are going to be used

c. Treat yourself to new storage items such as new bookcases/ shelves, shoe racks, filing cabinets and boxes for sentimental items (so you can store like with like)

d. If you do keep stuff that you don’t use very often (or at all), it is worth investigating storage options that can both compress the size of these things and protect them from dust, moths, damp, etc.

7. Let Go and Feel Good – Don’t put items in a box and then store them in the garage (this is not de-cluttering and, if you live in London like me, a garage is luxury most of us can only aspire to – imagine!) - give your stuff to charity, offer things on Freecycle, sell on eBay or go to the local tip! Or, for effective disposal of items with any real or perceived value (primarily in London), leave on the street outside your front door for approximately two minutes (even Paul Daniels would be impressed how quickly these things vanish)

In the long run, de-cluttering your home will make life easier, ‘clean up’ the space in your home (both look and feel), help create a more relaxing environment and make way for all your new stuff that you will begin to accumulate to clutter things up again! It may even tempt you to redesign or decorate a room in your house, which is always a good thing!

Another resolution of mine is to reduce my stress levels and really enjoy this year – de-cluttering is just the beginning – I found this quote on the Worldwide Interweb and just love it as I always get properly frustrated with my husband on Sundays when he just wants to read, watch TV or go to the pub in his pyjamas (as I feel we are wasting the weekend). However, this year I am going to try and embrace these days, which he loves so much…

(Image from Pinterest)

So, having preached religiously about de-cluttering, I am now feeling distinctly guilty about the state of my dressing room and study, so I am going to take some of my own medicine and make a start on one of these rooms now…

Jane Price-Stephens in an Interior Designer who runs her own business so, while she probably won’t be able to help you with the de-cluttering work (other than cutting through all the sentimentality…), she would be more than happy to advise on storage solutions, re-decoration or re-design of rooms. 
To find out more visit or call 07970 547433

*Oprah Winfrey

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