Four poster beds and romantic dreams Friday, Apr 8 2011 

Would I wake in a four poster bed to find myself being kissed by a prince?  Would a hundred year sleep end and find me a princess?  Or would I just find room service?

Four poster cream bedroom romantic interiors

Four poster beds have always been a sign of wealth – and are still associated with it today – although romance springs first to mind.

They have been around since Tudor times, when often you ate slept and lived in one room.  And if you had a separate bedchamber, servants might also sleep there (in case you needed them in the night).

The ability to close curtains around a bed gave the sleeper privacy, as well as protection from drafts, insects and pests (of which there were many!)

A four poster bed creates a room-within-a-room. This idea was brought back by Frank Lloyd Wright who created furniture and spaces to do exactly that – 500 years later.

A canopy bed (see below) developed later – but provided similar warmth and privacy in cold dank castles before central heating.

Today, a canopy is a wonderful way of highlighting a tall ceiling, and adding drama to the bed.

Even a small (non-functional) canopy, hung from a rosette, can add to the romance of going to sleep.  Below, even the fabrics are simpler: no gold satin here, rather a cotton country floral print.

This works beautifully with the old oak beams and whitewashed walls.

Lining a canopy or curtains with an intense colour brings this colour scheme to life.  It takes some guts to use the same pattern on both walls and fabric – but I like it hear as the colour scheme is so restrained.  There is only the one shade of blue and the oatmeal.

I love the heraldic theme on the fabric below.  It looks very masculine and severe – but kind of sexy too.

Layering patterns and textures – the rug beneath the bed, the tapestries on the wall, the curtaining round the bed – all add up to a sumptuous room.

You need lots of internal architecture to make this work (beams, mullioned windows) or it would overwhelm.

A more modern look in red and black fuels lots of ideas.  You could take the padded panel from behind the bed and create a headboard like that very easily – and it would look dramatic and smart.

Time to book a weekend away in a castle I think….


Leather: scuffed and sexy Sunday, Apr 3 2011 

Just as biker jackets are enjoying enormous popularity in fashion, so leather is returning to interiors.  And just as the jackets are masculine, scuffed and cool, so leather for interiors is masculine, scuffed and cool.  Smooth black and white leather is going to look dated very soon.

The leather look that is going to be around for a while is largely brown, and very worn.  Leather looks better as you use it – the patina of use is what makes biker jackets cool.  And it’s the same deal for furniture.

Think club chairs in a gentleman’s study.  Imagine the worn leather of an explorer’s tent.

And then pair the leather either with the details associated with smoking lounges, clubs and adventure: leather bounds books, specimens, fossils and interesting finds, maps.  Add some tartan, paisley or flannel and you’ll have a fabulously atmospheric room.

Alternatively, the addition of worn leather to a clean and modern room will immediately add warmth and personality.  It can take the edge off overly feminine rooms, and balance out chintz and frills.

If your seat is genuinely old, and the seat has worn through (old leather can sometimes crack – keep it moist in the same way you do your shoes with a regular polish with oils or wax) – you don’t have to pay a fortune for a new one.  You can recover the cushion in a contrasting fabric – as seen in the photos above.

You can find leather armchairs and sofas.  There are also desks and tables covered in leather, or, for a smaller accent, cushions.

Old leather trunks, complete with studs and straps look very handsome in any room.

And if you’re going all out – cover the walls in leather.  The room below, at Kingston Lacy, is covered in Spanish leather, embossed with gold.  This room was created hundreds of years ago, by a chap who was later exiled from England for various crimes.  Reading between the lines it becomes abundantly apparent that he was gay.

Of course!  Who else could have created a room like that?

Look for pieces like the one below – seen at an auction.  For tips on how to bid to win – check out this link.

Dine like a king: set your table for a feast (even if you’re dining alone) Wednesday, Mar 23 2011 


When they say dine like a king – do they mean literally?  Do they mean eat from a silver plate, surrounded by ancient tapestries, and piles of exotic fruits while liveried footmen serve endless rich courses?

Of course, far too many of us are dining like kings and have waistlines that answer to it.  But how about dining like a king in terms of the setting.  Maybe I’d enjoy my salad more if I ate it in sumptuous surroundings.

A generation or two ago, families had ‘best’ china, or “Sunday” dinner services.  These were too precious to be used every day and were saved for special occasions or for guests that were to be impressed.

We don’t have such occasions any more.  Although many of us still have ‘best’ things that we don’t use. 

I find that special occasions usually have so much going for them anyway, that you don’t need fancy crockery.  But a stressful and dull Tuesday evening can be livened up no end, with candelabra, silver cutlery and a table laid for a feast.  Even if you’re only having beans on toast.  It makes it FUN!

The table above is only dressed with a sheet – but the room is gorgeous.  Why not try a centrepiece of fruit?  It uses things you already have, so you don’t need to buy flowers.  And you can eat it afterwards.

If you’re eating in a room like this, your wine is probably stored in a cellar much like that below:

If not – a bit of dust will make your wine feel ancient.

The secret to great table decor is height – piles of marzipan (or real) fruit and candles need to start well above table level in little dishes on elegant stems.  It makes it all look so much more bacchanalian!

How are you dining tonight?

Trend alert: moulding, panelling, cornices: they’re back! Monday, Mar 21 2011 

After decades of minimalism, post-modernism and a complete move away from anything that wasn’t functional, we’re moving back to aesthetic appreciation.

Thank god!

For decades, if it wasn’t structural or vital to the form of the building, it was deemed expendable.  This was either a cheap (and shoddy) way of building. Or – if you wanted a great finish – one of the most expensive you can imagine.

Internal architecture serves a purpose – it hides joins at the ceiling (with cornices) at doorways with architraves; it protects (at floor level with skirting boards) and it can conceal all manner of faults, adding character and a sense of grandeur.

Without it, rooms can feel half-finished, or lacking in warmth. 

That’s why it’s coming back.

For those of you who haven’t discovered the free interior design magazine, Lonny, this month’s edition features a featureless house that has been transformed with masses of (fake and period-inappropriate) moulding.  It looks AMAZING!  Check it out here.

Inspirations are easy to find in houses of old:

They range from the more intricate (above) to the plainer applications.  The simplicity and beauty of most can be translated into modern day with a simple paint job or the addition of some pre-cut lengths of moulding.

Beautiful mouldings

Or it can even be painted on in a manner that is never meant to be ‘real’.  The bed may be a bit chintzy for my taste – an ultra modern look would set off those painted panels better I think – it would take itself less seriously.

Does your home smell nice? Are you sure? Friday, Mar 18 2011 

As sensory beings – the only way we engage with our world is through our five senses – we tend to focus strongly on the visual, particularly in design, for obvious reasons.

But often it is the other senses that create the feeling (or sense!) of home.

rose flower scent interior home

I’ve posted before on auditory cues – and how echoing spaces are not welcoming or even comfortable.

But what about olfactory?

How does your home smell?

Most of us don’t even notice the smell of our own home as we become accustomed to it.    A return from holiday can be a shock – of delight or horror – as your nose re-enters familiar territory.

Fragrance can be a lovely way to spice up your home.  Sometimes literally.

Firstly, ensure that BAD odours are eliminated.  These may emanate from:

Mould and mildew

Cooking smells: fish, curry, cabbage are a few of the less pleasant of these

Sweaty sportswear and gear

Pets with dirt trays, doggy hair and so on

These can be removed by either cleaning up the mess promptly, or ensuring that offending items (such as sports gear, dirt trays) are placed in low traffic areas that are well ventilated.

Adding new fragrance to your home can be fun.  And I’m not talking about those chemical plug-in devices, or air-fresheners.  To my nose, they can be as offensive as the odours they are attempting to conceal.

Perfumed flowers can fill a house with fragrance.  Lilies are a wonderful example.  You open your front door and it smells like a florist!

lilies fragrant perfume home interior

Some fruits can do this too: quinces have an irresistible exotic perfume that permeates a house – for this reason they are best not kept in your fridge – or even your eggs will taste of quince.

Nice cooking smells are lovely to walk in to: fresh bread, spiced gingerbread, rich stews.  It’s a great reason (not that you need another) to cook these from scratch.

Essential oils add different moods to a room: sultry sandalwood, or bright bergamot and citrus oils for energy, peppermint for clarity of thought and lavender for a lovely restful sleep.

Try changing the scents that greet you as you walk into your home.  It can have a surprising and subconscious effect on mood and wellbeing.  And it’s very easy to change and play with.

rose flower scent interior home

What scent would you most like to be welcomed by?

Heraldry rocks: ancient emblems for funky femmes Wednesday, Mar 16 2011 

I’ve written before about my urgent desire for a coat of arms….

Sadly, my obsession shows no sign of abating.  Happily, the interior world is catching on and there are increasingly wonderful ideas for how to incorporate heraldry into a modern interior.  We’re all so familiar with design these days, that these ancient designs hold thrall – they are still beautiful, still powerful, still heart-stopping.

This chair is a reproduction – brought to life with a fabulous coat of arms.  What an easy addition to an existing piece of furniture….

Even easier – add a cushion or two.  I love the combination of union jack flag and coat of arms here.  A mixture of two ancient and powerful crests.

This modern take on it is a great alternative to these more traditional cushions – which are stunning, but more conservative.  Plus – you could make the one above in a flash: just strips of linen in two colours, and any emblem – even the badge off an old school blazer!

Glass can feature all kinds of designs – but the combination of smooth glass and  a coat of arms looks amazing:

You could just paint the design on your wall, you could print it and frame it, paint it onto blinds… It’s such a simple and strong element that it would work in almost any room.

There are hundreds of designs you can use and translate into interiors.  The ones above can be stencilled onto walls, fabric or furniture.

I’m inspired…  are you?

Tiles for a bathroom: the good, the bad and the ugly Monday, Mar 7 2011 

Tiles are expensive, and a major part of the cost of a bathroom.  And nowadays they come in seemingly infinite variations.  So where do you start?

This is what I’ve picked up:

1. The smaller the room, the simpler the tile.  If your space is small, stick to a larger, plainer tile.  Don’t mix up patterns and so on – it’ll be too busy.  Avoid mosaics, as all that grout makes it quite overwhelming in a small space.

The mosaics below are a much less soothing look and together with the stripe overwhelm the small area…

2. In a larger space, you can use tiles to define areas – such as the bath, or the shower.  This can look stylish.  Keeping the colour palette very similar ensures that it looks great. 

3. Borders and feature tiles are likely to look dated over time.  See below.  I’d really avoid these unless you can’t live without them.

4. Grout is important.  Thick lines of grout are very passé.  It used to be 2-3cm thick, whereas tiles now need to be laid very close to each other, with a similar colour grout to make it all look seamless.  Your tiler should also align grout lines along the floor and wall so that the lines are continuous.

5. Laying tiles diagonally across a space is also very out-of-date.  Stick to lines of tile that follow the line of the walls.  It was thought that diagonal lines of tiles make the room look bigger, but they just look old-fashioned.  Likewise border tiles around the edge of the floor.  These are definitely not the ‘in’ thing right now.

6. If you want the look of natural stone there are lots of fabulous ceramic imitation that have random stone patterns (so no two are the same), and don’t need sealing to prevent staining and mould (which many natural stone tiles require).

These days you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a sophisticated surface.

7. If you have a lot of  ‘corners’ in your tiles, ensure that the tile is tough enough to be mitred.  This gives a sleek edge where it meets.  But if the tile isn’t a high quality hard tile, the corners will chip and it’ll look terrible.

Your tiler should be mitring the corners, and not laying one tile flat, and the other perpendicular, so that you see the edge of one tile…..  These are the key to a professional finish.

8. Take out a few bricks in the wall to create an alcove to store product (very useful in the shower).  You can then highlight this with different tiles inside the alcove.

9. Finally – make it your own.  I just adore the way that tiles have been used to create architecture (below) – faux tile panelling.  What a fabulous idea…

The glimmer of gold below is so glamorous.  I love metallics in a bathroom – you’re not in there long enough for it to be too too much.

Fantastical bathrooms: dream while you bathe Wednesday, Mar 2 2011 

One of my favourite ways to relax after a long day is in a hot bath, ideally with a glass of whisky, or a cup of tea (depending on my mood).  The physical immersion into warm silky water is an automatic switch for my brain.  Bliss.

The ultimate relaxation, in my dream life where I’m wealthy and waited-on, would be to bathe in one of these stunning bathrooms.  Why not use them as inspiration for yours?

Blue, a traditional favourite in the bathroom, due to its associations with water, is given a new lease of life – as the colour of the bath itself, and on a wonderful mural-type arrangement of tiles.  Is that the Spanish Armada approaching??

Below, polished plaster, the colour of cocoa, is glossed into a luxurious finish.  It’s a small room, but it still feels elegant due to the limited colour palette and expensive accessories.  With a good artisan, polishing plaster or concrete can be an economical alternative to tiles.  Definitely worth considering….

A double marble sink feels weightless without a heavy vanity beneath.  Do you really need everything that you have in yours?

Bathing becomes part of the bedtime routine with a bath behind the bed.  But would you want your bedroom becoming steamy (metaphorically might be OK – but literally?)

This metallic tub (below) reflects back the light into the small space, making it feel more welcoming.

This solution is taken to the max with a mirror-sided bath (below).  This is a fabulous idea that means you don’t need panels or tiles on the side of the bath.  And it will make the room feel so much larger and lighter.  Another plus is that the only part of you reflected back is your slender ankles.

This can be done to a vanity too.  You can easily do this yourself with mirrors cut to size.  What a fun way to enliven a bathroom!

Forget the need for floor-to-ceiling tiles.  Wood panelling looks dramatic and romantic.  I’d throw a couple of armchairs in this room too, to make it feel more furnished (and less as though matron is going to appear and give you a good scrubbing).

All the extras can be fun – this is a free-standing tap and spout.

Or for a touch of the Versace – a lion’s head spout.  Utterly over-the-top luxury!

If you want something alternative – how about the hand-crafted wooden bath below?  It’s a lot more comfortable than the usual wooden tubs that are square and based on Japanese baths.

If you’re inspired, Drummonds is the high-end supplier of many of these looks.  Check out their ads (below).  Now I want to do a massive bird mural above my bath!  That would drive the cats wild….

Nudity: sexy, embarrassing or just plain wrong? Friday, Feb 25 2011 

Can you imagine opening the door to guests naked?  Can you picture their embarrassment (far greater than one’s own, I’m sure!).

I think that’s something few of us would ever do.  But would you have a picture of a naked woman on your walls?  Or a naked statue?

Tacky, tantalising or true art?  What do you think?

Is Rodin’s statue ‘The Kiss’ (below) too much for your home?  It’s a very sensual piece of art.  Would you feel comfortable seeing it in a gallery, but not in someone’s home?

Rodin The Kiss interiors sculpture art

What about this photo?  It’s anonymous (as it’s headless) but it is full-frontal nudity.

nude photo art arrangement interiors sepia

You may not have noticed, but it forms part of a Parisian-style art display here….

recycled interiors chair parisian art

If one picture is acceptable, how about a display of cheeky photos?

black and white photos interiors art nudity female form

Do you find them witty or too-much?

Or what about this lady?  I have to admit, she inspired the post as I fell in love with her last weekend!

ceramic interiors art nudity female form

She is drawn on a plate (and actually I have purchased her as a gift for my mother, who doesn’t usually read my blog – Dad does!).  Look at her crazy corkscrew hair and her dainty little feet!

ceramic interiors art nudity female form

Does nudity make a room sexy?  Or is it best kept behind closed doors?

Mood boards: what is your interior decor style? Wednesday, Feb 9 2011 

Much of a home’s impact comes from the mood it creates – in the same way that a theatre backdrop sets the scene for the play.  Our minds are built around associations so that beach themes are attractive because they remind us of holidays, relaxation and escapism.  Large loft-style living with industrial accessories make us think of cool, edgy and hip.

Different styles and looks appeal to different people.  I drew up some mood boards to help friends and clients decide on what they were really trying to create in their homes. 

Which one are you?

tropical caribbean decor interior style mood board

Tropical Caribbean Mood Board

The Tropical look is based around colour – bright and vibrant colour and lots of it.  Mango, emerald, Indigo, Fuchsia, turquoise and Acid yellow all zing in this style.  This is about pattern, and multiple combined patterns.  Flowers, fruit and birds proliferate.  Plants feature inside and out and accents in raffia, natural woods and woven furniture.

This is about being over the top.  And if you like this, it’s unlikely that you’re the shy and retiring type.  You’re probably as loud, cheerful and sociable as the picture above.

This look is not compatible with urban living or very citified environments.  It works best with open spaces that lead onto gardens.

Gilt-edged glamour decor interior style mood board

Gilt-edged Glamour Mood Board

Full blown glamour is a luxurious style  with lots of gold and gilt.  Colours are deeper: amber, oyster, forest green, midnight blue and violet.  This is about lots of sparkle – mirrors and glass, marble and travertine. The baroque, rococo and empire styles of history have strong influence here.

Furniture is likely to be antique or carved.  Fabrics will be rich: silk velvet, satins and brocades. 

This looks is not compatible with chrome and modern finishes.

Masculine club decor interior style mood board

Masculine Club Mood Board

The Masculine Club style relies on a sombre colour palate of charcoal, navy and grey.  There is lots of leather (sofas and even floors), wool and flannel.  Wood is dark and usually polished – this is a formal aesthetic, with occasional lapses into a collector’s study.

Include a car with drinks, bottles, and mirrors.  Throw in some leather-bound books.  Keep the lines straight, trims to a minimum and you’ll have the musky, hushed cigar-smoke atmosphere of a gentleman’s club or library.

This looks doesn’t go with frills and flounces, pastel colours or pinks!

Industrial loft decor interior style mood board

Industrial Loft Mood Board

The Industrial Loft is a rough-edged look with structure and pipes showing.  This is no time to hide the plumbing.  Rust, iron, brickwork and concrete form a key part of the style.

Flags, banners and repurposed objects feature heavily.  It works best in lofts and warehouse conversions.

This is not compatible with three pieces suites or matching sets of furniture. 

Eclectic rustic decor interior style mood board french provincial

Rustic Provencal Mood Board

This is an eclectic look – part rustic, part french provincial, part Tuscan.  Colours are faded or neutral shades of aqua, sage, lavender, pearl and oatmeal.

Textures are rich and layered with wood, coral, rustic stone, worn leather and fossils.  Linens and silks cover furniture and if patterned will be very faded and worn.

There is plenty of room for collected items (the more the better) adding to the overall sense of history and faded grandeur.  Wood is limed or distressed.

This isn’t compatible with chrome, bright and clear colours or artificial fibres (such as polyester).

Minimalist modernist avant garde decor interior style mood board

Minimalist Modernist Avant Garde Mood Board

If your style is minimal and avant-garde, then really I have no idea why you are reading my blog!  This is incredibly expensive to create.  it relies on perfect finish, slick clean lines and strong linear shapes or sculptural pieces.

Colours are pure white or black, with bright clear flashes of colour.  Surfaces are glossy: chrome, steel, plastic.  Storage is hidden and furniture is spare.

This doesn’t really go with antiques, pattern, clutter mess or dirt.

This looks is made by its quality and its upkeep.  If you like this – you gotta be rich.

English manor house decor interior style mood board

English Manor House Mood Board

The English Country Manor: florals, chintzes and patterns are layered with luxurious fabrics.  There are abundant rugs, trims, tassels and fringes.  Colours are natural but bright: leaf green, coral, butter yellow.  Polished rosewood and mahogany hold photos in silver frames.

It’s elegant, it’s classic, it’s classy.

Smart contemporary decor interior style mood board

Smart Contemporary Mood Board

The Smart Contemporary style is reminiscent of a luxury city hotel: colour schemes are simple taupes, wines and chocolate.  It is tailored, clean and formal.  Fabrics are leather, chrome and chenille.

This is generally a style that doesn’t display a lot of personality.  It is not compatible with mess or clutter, or with many personal touches. 

Fresh Country decor interior style mood board

Fresh Country Mood Board

The fresh country style has lots of wood and white with a single colour such as azure blue, rose-pink or apple green.

Antiques and vintage furniture sit on wooden floorboards with toile-de-jouy, striped or checked cotton and linen fabrics.  Willow pattern china or old dinner services sit on a dresser, with bowls of flowers, samplers and family treasures.

Atlantic Style decor interior style mood board

Atlantic Style Mood Board

Atlantic style is about wood-boarded walls, canvas and linen.  Pale colours such as chalk, grey and duck-egg blue summon memories of the blustery atlantic coast.  Nautical references abound.  Furniture is distressed and fabrics are sunbleached, with driftwood, sisal rugs, storm lanterns.

Wool throws and blankets keep it cosy.

This isn’t compatible with lots of colour or pattern – it relies on a very pared back colour scheme.

So…. which one are you?  Or are you a combination of one or two?  More than three and you’re confused – and if you’re having trouble decorating your house this is why!

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