Climbing those un-inspiring walls during lock down? We all need to feel that our home is our sanctuary and no more so than during this very real and weird time of lock down. Good design can helps us live and feel better and this is a great opportunity to survey our surroundings and consider what we can do to make our homes a happier, lock down friendly space.
Many of you are already taking advantage of some extra time; rolling up your sleeves with paint brush in hand ready to re-vamp. Trying to achieve a living space that functions for everyone and makes you feel relaxed, safe and happy needs to be approached in a simplistic way. No fuss, no drama. Here is a guide of hints and tips to help encourage & inspire you in creating a home to keep you smiling.
1. INSPIRATION; My taste over the years hasn't really changed, it's evolved, often influenced by life's adventures adding to but always re-affirming a continuity of style. Sometimes our tastes can become a bit lost with our busy lives at work, our families and different personalities living side by side. Try and re-connect with the aesthetics you like and those of your loved ones around you; look to the things you own for inspiration whether it be a favourite item of clothing, an image of a destination, a piece of artwork, some jewellery, etc. Arrange items together and see how they inspire you; look at the colours, the shapes, the patterns. Pinterest is another great place to collate images to inspire but don't just look at finished interiors; look at fashion, nature, colour, shapes etc. Check out my pinterest for ideas https://www.pinterest.co.uk/r379/boards/
‘Your home should tell the story of who you are and be a collection of what you love’ – Nate Berkus.
'It is not a question whether or not someone has good taste. It is how something feels to the individual…Open your heart and mind to the world, and find the things that connect with you. How else will you know how to design your home?' - Kelly Hoppen
2. FUNCTION V AESTHETICS; It's important that a space should be practical as well as aesthetically pleasing. Think about what you want to achieve in each space as well as how you want to feel in that environment ie: relaxed in a bedroom, focused in a home study, creative in the kitchen. Write a list and consider what isn't working for you at the moment and what adjustments you can make yourself.
3. DE-CLUTTERING; It can be too easy to clutter up spaces if you have a love for all things old and new, which I do. I am nostalgic and like having photographs, letters and gifts from loved ones around me. Also the day to day necessities of tidying, and cleaning can all get overwhelming and you need a process to help organise these things. The KonMari method was created by organizing consultant Marie Kondo and is a system of simplifying and organizing your home by getting rid of physical items that do not bring joy into your life.
Marie Kondo's original book is called 'The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying' . Her second book recently came out called 'Joy At Work': Organizing Your Professional Life, bringing calm to where we spend so much of our time.
Here is a recent article about her approach; https://time.com/5820605/work-from-home-tips-marie-kondo/. and a link to her shop https://shop.konmari.com/. For quick insights you can also watch her on You tube.
‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’ - William Morris
4. SYMMETRY; My style is fairly eclectic but I do feel it's important to have a sense of symmetry in a space; whether it be how artwork is placed on a wall, your furniture seating plan or if you have a lot of different objects then organising them within colour palettes. You can then play with mixing other pieces together and maintain an organised and harmonious feel.
‘Symmetry is not always necessary but there is something that feels inherently right about a room with balance ‘– Maddux Creative.
5. DETAIL & THE BIGGER PICTURE: For me, an interior should look as if it has evolved over time; reflecting your life where you have travelled, your taste, books, photos, plants etc. Things can easily sit there and become stayed or cluttered to the point where you don't notice them anymore. From time to time I clear spaces and change things around to bring them back to life. I curate each area whether it be a side table, book shelves or a mantle piece. Take photographs of small details of your space as well as the wider picture to help see things from a different perspective.
'Being detail-obsessed is no use if you can’t ‘zoom out’ – Alidad.
6. COLOUR: I stumbled across the 'Colour Mirrors' concept about 15 years ago. Initially I thought it seemed a bit out there; learning about a person or oneself through the colours they are drawn to in these bottles but I ended up loving it and doing the courses and qualifying as a practitioner. What I have taken with me from this experience is that we are drawn to colours for various reasons and at different times during our life journey.
For as long as I can remember I have been drawn to the colour teal. It runs through my house in very subtle forms: in a piece of art, a rug, a vase etc. In this time of lock down I find myself drawn to bright colours with a desire to be bolder with them. I have just chosen a Dulux colour Lemon punch for above my fireplace and Proud Peacock for my desk wall, whilst still keeping the other walls, curtains and carpets in neutral shades. I also love bringing a bit of black into an interior whether it be a lamp, a painted chair, the frame of a picture. It grounds things and instantly brings a chic, elegance to a room.
Don’t limit yourself to only one or two colours. It’s like matching your socks to your tie. One should experiment with colour and pattern – a harmony can come out of the chaos - India Mahdavi.
‘Every room needs a touch of black just as it needs at least one antique piece’ – Jan Showers
1. The Sun - I Am (Yellow / Yellow)
This bottle vibrates to the energy of the sun – the light source and the life force of the world. It also resonates with the energy centre at the centre of your being, the solar plexus. This first bottle acknowledges your I AMness, that feeling of being totally connected with your highest aspect. This is true power – the recognition that the Divine is in everything and oneness is the natural state of the universe. This bottle clears confusion and fear and is helpful for SAD and depression. Yellow is the colour of intellect, brightness, light and joy. The Colour Mirrors system as a whole is a journey of Ascension, and as Ascension is a by-product of joy, the only way the system could really begin was with a bottle which reflects that joy.
30. Creativity (Deep Turquoise / Pale Turquoise)
This bottle is related to writers and artists who need time by themselves to let their creativity grow. Give yourself the space to let your imagination expand and flourish, and become the creator of your own life. You are gifted in the arts and a wise counsellor. Unfortunately people often want too much from you, so make space for yourself. Learn to fill your own cup so that it might overflow into the world. Set boundaries to your space and time and do something creative, for that is how you feed your soul. Do not let yourself get over-stressed or you will be flirting with burnout.
7. NEUTRAL PALETTES: If your preference is for a more neutral palette you can layer it in different tones, textures and patterns. I would still choose at least 3 or 4 complimentary colours to bring a room to life. The images below show calm and serene spaces with what would appear little variation in colour but there are contrasting elements which look striking together; warm whites and golds, bold pattern, black & brass in the top image. Taupe, pinks, lavender, grey, silver, gold & Ivory in the lower.
I am convinced that a calm, quiet and harmonious interior can be as beneficial to health as a sensible diet and regular exercise - Kelly Hoppen
8. FURNISHINGS - ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD; When choosing furnishings I don't believe every piece has to be expensive or designer. It's nice to have some good pieces and one should have a decent sofa, this can range from from super cool Loaf with their luxuriously deep sofas in traditional styles or something that will see you down the generations like Dudgeon Sofas, a comfortable bed, a beautiful antique can bring integrity and interest to an interior, mix with some modern pieces; a sculptural table lamp from Porta Romana or Vaughan Lighting, beautiful textured and patterned fabrics and a piece of designer furniture from for example Nicholas Haslam.
For other pieces you can take time to curate, there are some decent and reasonably priced items out there, it just takes a bit of research. I regularly look to the sales items on websites and also to the high Street. Well made curtains look beautiful and are a good investment but plain linen curtains if you buy them a little longer and puddle them onto the floor from a simple metal black pole with pretty plain sheers look great. Refurbished furniture is also worth considering, it can be better quality than new, having used good, solid materials and more traditional making techniques than a lot of expensive modern pieces. Have a look on our website link for our collection of beautifully refurbished pieces freshly polished or painted & upholstered in super cool fabrics from Casamance and Christopher Far Cloth http://www.rachelniddrie.com/unique-refurbished-furniture.html#
‘Pay no attention to grand sweeping opinions; I heard someone say, ‘Brown wood is boring’ when of course a beautiful well-looked after piece of brown furniture can be pure heaven
9. ACCESSORIES; I do love a vignette; a curated little space. We usually think of the accessory as adding the final touches to an interior but it could be a starting point if you work designs around the colour of an existing vase, an ornament, rug or favourite piece of artwork. Simplify a shelf by organising things in a partially structured manner gives it an artistic feel, showing off books and ornaments & photographs so each item looks like a little jewel in itself.
Break up large expanses of wall space with artwork, photography and shelving, carefully placed and considered.
A rug can bring so much to a room; a warm layer, a beautiful pattern, a contrasting element, modern, traditional, wool, silk the options are endless.
The scatter cushion we simply can't ignore, a beautiful accent colour or eye catching pattern in a cushion can lift a sofa, chair or bed. We often feel more daring with cushions, it's like our design expression can suddenly be released in just that one item. When buying a feather cushion interior buy them 1 or 2 inches bigger, it gives the cushion a better, plumper shape.
For bedding I do like a Designers Guild cotton duvet covers and pillow cases. I recently discovered Matouk Linen, whose designs are so appealing. Birdie Fortescue is one of my go to's for table linen and accessories.
'Pictures should be big, or there should be lots of them. There’s nothing worse than a painting the size of a postage stamp on a vast wall'. – Nina Campbell.
10. THE BORING BUT ESSENTIAL STUFF: Prep is important when decorating; getting the right materials, cleaning and rubbing down walls, using primers if needed prior to painting. Test paint colours before you go the whole hog of buying a tin of paint. I paint samples up on the back of old wallpaper or lining paper and tack them to a wall. Move them around so you can see the colour in different light before committing. Move and cover furnishings to protect them. If you are home alone during lock down don't attempt to move anything heavy or get up any high ladders without taking your phone and informing someone of your activities. Don't attempt to put up pictures and hammer nails into walls without checking if there are any electrical wires running behind the wall. You may have to work around things for now and create some interesting lock down Design details!
Finally, have fun allow yourself time to enjoy the process, you can gradually build up the layers, you don't have to do it all at once but have an overall design in mind and keep referring back to your original concepts. If you are slightly cautious, start off with your safe choices then go a couple of shades bolder and gradually build up and take a few of risks on things.
‘Don’t be afraid of a bit of ‘bad taste’. Many rooms are strangled by trying to be too tasteful for their own good. Be bold and buy what you think and do not worry about what the neighbours will think. Idiosyncrasies and juxtapositions bring rooms alive’ - Douglas Mackie
‘Serious is a word that must be entirely avoided when it comes to decoration’ – Kathryn M. Ireland.
Author - Rachel Niddrie
Winchester based Interior Designer. Sharing my design experiences, likes and loves and all things I find beautiful, useful and inspirational in the world of interiors