Archive for the ‘Interior ideas’ Category

Designed to succeed: A Fresh Design interview with Fiona Watkins, interior designer

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Over the last few years, Cheshire-based Fiona Watkins has seen her design business flourish from its low key, informal beginnings. Here she shares an insight into her design experiences, plus provides her top tips and tricks for adding contemporary style into period homes.

Image credit: Tigermoth Lighting

“I spent some time working in hotels, which gave me a sense of how design worked on a big scale,” she says. “Ever since then, I haven’t been afraid to use bold patterns and statement colours. Living in Holland was a fascinating glimpse into another culture, from a designer’s point of view. It’s helped to give me a different perspective on projects, to inject a little European style, and to understand what else is available.”

She describes her personal style as ‘bold and colourful’.

“I love colour – I think it’s something to do with living in Manchester now, where the skies are often grey for weeks on end. I’ll usually pick something special out for a room, whether it’s a dramatic wallpaper, a beautiful fabric, a bold rug, a piece of artwork or maybe something the client already owns, and build the design around it.”

The design process starts with a detailed talk with the perspective client to find out what they want to achieve.

“It’s really crucial to take your clients’ thoughts and ideas into account; my job is to advise, guide and suggest. I’ll give new clients a questionnaire to fill in, to encourage them to really think about how and when they use the space, although it’s the property itself that dictates what will work.”

Fiona’s current projects include a new cellar added to an existing house.

“As this cellar is being built partly under an existing property, we’ve faced all sorts of practical problems, not least how to link it to the house,” she laughs.

“As there’s little natural light, the staircase will be a modern glass atrium to maximise the light we have. We’re giving it a contemporary edge with flat stone walls, which will help marry up with the more traditional style in the cellar itself.

“Another work in progress is a Victorian house with a new kitchen extension constructed at the back. We’re opening up one side of the house to create a new sitting/dining/kitchen area, and that’s involved adding double doors from the beautiful original panelled hallway. We’ve gone for double doors that are part glazed, to give a feeling of light and space right through to the garden – it’s a real transformation.”

Tips and tricks for adding contemporary style 

If you’d like to give a period property a contemporary edge but need to keep the costs down, Fiona shares her tips for a low cost makeover.

  • Keep any period features where possible. You might be aiming for a contemporary style, but that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate the character of the room. Also, changing as little as possible will help keep your costs down – removing original features can also leave holes in walls or bring down showers of old plaster, leading to unforeseen re-plastering costs.
  • Paint everything the same colour! More specifically, paint the room with shades of the same colour. Companies such as Farrow and Ball and Little Greene have a great range of shades of one colour, such as beige, taupe, and cream, which help create a contemporary feel. If possible, I like to paint the floorboards as well. There’s a fine line between making a room feel boxy and cold and creating a feeling of space, so using varying shades of one colour helps keep a feeling of warmth. Painting the room one colour including dado rails and picture rails, removes lines and helps delineate the space, making the room feel more spacious.
  • Consider mixing surfaces textures – a wooden floor pairs well with the industrial look of steel, similarly the contrast of white gloss flooring and sleek dark kitchen units give a modern feel.
  • If you’re on a budget, you don’t have to buy all the latest modern furniture. Use older well loved pieces, but consider having them recovered or any damage attended to. A few well chosen items of furniture arranged in a modern way will give the space a contemporary look.
  • Painting the room in neutral colours means it’s a blank canvas. You can use really bold curtains, cushions and rugs, to add your personality and warmth and plain walls also provide a great backdrop to display pictures or a statement piece of artwork.
  • Lighting is really important, and you need to take into account the orientation of the room, the times of day you use it, what you use it for and the amount of natural light. Using lamps is an easy way to soften a room and make it feel cosier. Install dimmer switches so that you can tone down harsh overhead lighting and give a softer feel for evening. Mirrors are a great way of creating light in a dark room, and positioning a lamp in front of the mirror will reflect light back into the living space.
To find out more about Fiona and her work, please visit

Fresh colour: Add a passionate spark of red into your home

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Fresh design red home accessories

It’s a lively, energising and uplifting colour – if you want to inject a bit of passion into your home, then why not consider adding some red accessories, furniture or decor?

If you’re not yet ready to go all out with red decor (too much red could be overpowering), then adding touches of it can be a good alternative. Think about whether you could change the colour of the cushions on your sofa, add some red accessories to your kitchen or update your lighting to adds pops of red into a room. If you’re a bit more daring, then you could even invest in a piece of furniture in rosy red.

Here are some ideas to get you started on a love of red:

1. Salt & Pepper red barista teapot, £40 from Red Candy

2. Carrie petite sofa, £799 from John Lewis

3. Scion zigzag dhurrie cushion, £45 from John Lewis

4. Red pendant lamp, £69 from Idyll Home

5. Lotus flower design table lamp, £24.99 from Edition Design Shop

6. Falcon enamelware pillarbox red pie set, £55 from Heal’s

7. VW Beetle car vinyl wall sticker, £10.95 from Oakdene Designs

Make the Most of Your Small Living Room

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Small lounge decor ideas

A small living room space doesn’t have to mean that it’s unattractive or unaccommodating. In fact, it can mean that your room is extremely cosy and welcoming. However, it can sometimes take a little work to achieve this and to avoid and eliminate any clutter.

We’ve come up with a host of ideas so that you can optimise your space without compromising on the aesthetic value of your room.

Choose a sensible colour scheme

The colour you use throughout your living room will be vital for creating your desired atmosphere.

Opt for warm yet slightly pale shades, such as beige, cream, pastels and neutral tones. Avoid white for the walls as this generally fits larger open spaces, and can make a smaller room appear ‘clinical’.

If you’re a fan of the colour pop trend, you can incorporate this using a few statement pieces, such as bright furnishings (cushions, rugs etc) or bold lamps.

Living room colour palette decor

Invest in good storage systems

To keep clutter to a minimum, it’s important that you think carefully about how you store your belongings in your living room. Think about your favourite items and display only these, rather than attempting to showcase every single thing you own.

Keep shelves clutter free and tidy, for a fuss-free, modern look. You could also opt for a unit with drawers to hide clutter further.

A rule that will help you when you are organising your storage in your living room is to simply ask yourself two questions when deciding where to put things: ‘does this need to be in the living room?’ and ‘how can I make it work with the rest of the decor?’.

Use clever lighting

You will want the small space to be well-lit without being too bright and overpowering, so make the most of the natural light that your living room receives.

If looking to update your windows, ensure you research companies that are raising the standard for uPVC windows, to be certain that they are fulfilling their purpose effectively.

Keep furniture and general clutter clear of windows to avoid the natural light from being obstructed.

Also think carefully about artificial light too – when choosing a lampshade or lamp, think about the colour the shade will omit to the rest of the room, as well as the bulb you will need to use.

Cosy home living room decor

Make a statement

As mentioned before, you don’t have to limit your small living room to neutral tones and a muted palette – consider adding a splash of colour with a piece of striking, statement furniture. This can include anything from a bold armchair to a striking lamp.

This will not only bring the room bang up-to-date as far as the colour trend goes, but an eye-catching piece will also draw attention to it, and therefore away from the small size of the room.

If you’re not feeling particularly brave, use smaller pieces instead, such as soft furnishings like cushions or a bright throw over your sofa.

Colourful artwork on a bare wall also has the same affect and will provide a fantastic talking point when you have guests round.

***This guest post is in association with Anglian Home Improvements***

New Year … new storage! 14 great home tips to welcome in 2014

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

It’s that time of year again, when a New Year approaches and all our thoughts are focused on celebrating the winter festivities before thinking of ways we can improve over the coming twelve months.


Why not use this New Year as a time to update and improve your home? Storage is perhaps the one thing we all seem to lack so why not follow these 14 great storage tips to welcome in 2014?

1. Use space

Don’t restrict your storage options to tried-and-tested methods like shelves or cabinets. Use all available space to create interesting features – such as wall mounted hammocks for soft toys in the kids’ rooms.

2. Colour co-ordinate

Storage serves more than just a practical purpose so colour co-ordinate it to match the style of your room. You can also colour code boxes and shelving units to help you organise your possessions.

3. Think big

Less is more … but sometimes it isn’t. If you need storage, and lots of it, then think big. A great option is incorporated storage in furniture. A great firm offering this is Nabrutheir large corner sofas with optional storage are well worth a look.

4. Make it a feature

Make your storage unit a feature of the room so you can add one less superfluous feature to the room.

5. Shape shift

Remember that storage units come in all shapes and sizes so choose something that goes with your room. Opt for made-to-measure units for awkwardly shaped rooms.

6. Size appropriate

Choose a storage unit of a suitable size for the room at hand. Too large and your room will look cluttered and awkward. Too small and you’ll still have a storage problem.

7. Clear clutter

Cut down the need for storage by making it a New Year’s resolution to rid your home of clutter. Start with Christmas decorations that have seen better days!

8. Go mobile

Make your storage more convenient by opting for mobile solutions that can be repositioned at will.

9. Think long term

Don’t tie yourself into the latest fad with your storage, stick with classic options that will serve the test of time so you don’t have to constantly update or buy again.

10. Define areas

Use screens, partitions and large storage units to separate the space in your home and define areas. This will give each part of the room a purpose and help you stay organised.

11. Wall of storage

Give a room more storage than you can shake a stick at by transforming a whole wall into a giant storage unit; striking and practical.

12. Convert barren spaces

Have a loft, shed or garage that is standing empty? Make it the new home for some of your worldly goods by renovating and adding storage units.

13. Display it

Instead of hiding your possessions away, display them for all to see. Photo collages or borders work well in bedrooms but you could also create artwork out of old tickets and mementos or use display cabinets to show off other trinkets.

14. Vacuum pack

When it’s time to retire thick winter clothing for another year, hold in vacuum sealed packs which keep everything compact without affecting the condition of the clothes. Store under beds, on top of wardrobes or anywhere else out of sight.

***This is a guest post in association with Nabru***

Skull-tastic! Skull design ideas and decor for your home

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Decorate your home with skulls

Skulls aren’t just a spooky symbol associated with Halloween. If you love skull designs, here are four ideas for using them in your home decor.

1. Get skulls on your walls, with this dark and moody Midnight skulls wallpaper by Barbara Hulanicki. It’s £49.99 from Homebase

2. Prop open a door with a realistic looking concrete skull design doorstop, £58 from Graham and Green

3. Serve up dinner on a Masked skull swirl plate by Rory Dobner, £46 from Liberty

4. Or transform your cushions with these skulls and roses cushion covers, £18 each from TwentySevenPalms

Halloween might be over in just one night, but skulls could live on for longer in your home!

Contemporary graphical and geometric home interiors

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Fresh design geometric home

As part of their new Autumn / Winter 2013 range, the Linea collection at House of Fraser includes some lovely graphical and geometric themed interior ideas which work brilliantly in modern or contemporary homes.

For a bedroom uplift, we love the bright and cheery design of the Shard duvet set, which certainly makes a statement on the bed. It’s seen here paired with the wooden Sydney king bedstead.

Fresh Design geometric home

Blues, such as teal or turquoise, can be uplifting colours for living room walls. Your wall colour can provide inspiration for accessories and furnishings.  Here, for example, it’s picked up in the knitted graphical print cushion and teal angular vase.

The graphical and geometric theme runs throughout the room, in the mirror, picture frame and even in the parquet style flooring.

Most Wanted High Street Hunter: Metallic accents autumn trend

Monday, October 7th, 2013


Most Wanted High Street Hunter Autumn 2013

As I love searching for affordable home decor products and like to highlight high street buys, as well as designer interior brands, I was pleased to be asked to take part in another High Street Hunter challenge, for VoucherCodes Most Wanted online magazine. This time it’s all about autumn.

The autumn 2013 products have well and truly hit the high street and the shops are full of new ideas. One of the product trends that I’m loving at the moment is that of metallic accents – particularly burnished gold and shiny copper.

These metallics are perfect for the season, especially as they evoke the rich colours of crunchy autumn leaves. In addition, it’s a trend that effectively works alongside many other décor schemes, so you don’t have to worry about completely re-decorating or changing too much, which is ideal if you have limited funds. In fact, to avoid over blinging your home, it’s a trend best used in moderation.

A few choice accessories, such as a gold or copper lamp base, vase, light, mirror, cushions or candle holders are all you need to bring the metallic trend into your home.

Gold and copper accents mix well with other colours, patterns, natural shades or black and white, and add a touch of luxe to interiors.

Lots of designer home pieces make use of copper and gold materials and come with rather hefty price tags, but metallic home accents are widely available on the high street too. Why pay a fortune, when you could adopt this trend for a fraction of the price?

All of the items I’ve featured cost under £80 each, with many of them available to snap up for a lot less than that, so take a look at these beauties and get shopping!

My top metallic accent high street buys

1. This Nova copper ball table lamp from John Lewis is my favourite piece. It definitely looks like it should cost more than £50 and looks brilliant when lit up.

2. These gold tealight candle holders are really pretty. They’re super affordable too, at only £3 each from Asda, and are crying out to be grouped together in multiples.

3. Bhs is a firm favourite for stylish lighting, and this contemporary metallic Haddon table lamp doesn’t disappoint. It’s £56.

4. You can never have enough storage boxes and baskets and this gold basket, with its contrasting black lining, offers heaps of storage possibilities. It’s priced at £19.99.

5. Another lamp base that I couldn’t resist, as it’s a gorgeous hammered copper. The Squoval is the most expensive item, coming in at exactly £80, but it adds a wonderful touch of luxury.

6. I love the decorative open weave of this gold basket, which would be perfect to use as a fruit bowl. It’s £25.99.

7. The most blingy item of them all is this copper sequin cushion. I’d mix it with solid colour and patterned cushions, in turquoise or teal blue, to add contrast and texture to a sofa. The cushion is cover is £9.99 from H&M.

8. It’s amazing how much furniture can be changed simply by altering the knobs or handles. These decorative gold handles are only £4.99 per pair from Zara Home.

9. A modern alternative to the traditional copper kettle, this Morphy Richards version is stylish and functional. It’s £34.99 from John Lewis.

Modern Memories interiors collection from Asda

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Mid century modern style interior design

Asda isn’t normally somewhere that instantly springs to mind as a must-visit store for home interior ideas, but this season they’ve come up trumps – especially if you want to create a new room look on a budget.

One of their five key trend looks for the Autumn /Winter 2013 season is Modern Memories. It’s based on the popular mid-century modern 1950s retro style of interior design, but with a contemporary take and fresh colours.

The colours are bright and inviting, there are plenty of motifs to choose from and good old animals are back too, in the form of decorative accessories, ceramics and cushions.

Best of all, in true Asda style, all the pieces are very affordable. The Chelsea compact sofa in teal is £495, with a coordinating armchair available at £295. The cushions are mostly just £12 each and accessories such as the pear are only £6. Rugs can often be a costly purchase, but the teal, blue and grey geometric rug is a great buy at £40.

Fab Friday Bargains: Homeware from Matalan

Friday, July 19th, 2013

We’ll be honest – Matalan isn’t somewhere we’d think of looking first for homeware. But if you’ve never browsed their home offerings, it’s well worth a look, especially if you’re restricted by budget issues.

For our Fab Friday Bargains this week, here are some affordable homeware items from the range at Matalan.

Contemporary wood and metal table lamp

Contemporary style circle base table lamp, £35


Home storage ideas

Set of three neutral design storage boxes, £20


Affordable geometric trend soft furnishings

Turquoise jacquard geometric design cushion, £8


Parisian eiffel tower wall art

Paris city print wall art, £8

Funktionalley sale: Contemporary designer pieces for less

Monday, July 1st, 2013

We’re always on the lookout for ways to save money, so can’t resist the summer sale at Funktionalley.

Running until the end of July, there’s the opportunity to save up to 30% on a range of original designer products.

Amongst the discounted products on offer, we particularly like the look of:

Contemporary funky designer wall light

The Snakkes wall lamp, created by Barcelona graphic designer, Daniel Benito Cortázar. It’s shaped like a speech bubble and the surface acts as a white board. It comes with a white board marker, so you can light up your room and illuminate your thoughts at the same time! Genius.

Contemporary design wall mounted magazine rack

The City Sunday wall mounted magazine rack, with its outlining of skyscrapers on the horizon. Great for getting your newspapers and magazines tidy and organised and a bonus that they can be stored in a rack that won’t take up room on your floor.

Contemporary monochrome trend cushion

The six pack of stylish Pappelina monochrome cushions, designed and printed in Sweden. Monochrome home accessories are big again at the moment and these designs are all simple, yet highly effective.

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