A summer update for your home

We are past 1st May, and in my book that means spring has sprung and summer is on its way.  Now is the time to look at giving your home a bit of a makeover, and get ready for the long summer days ahead.  I would start with a good spring clean and de-clutter. Get rid of those inevitable cobwebs, clean underneath the furniture and give the windows a good clean to make sure you are letting all the possible light in.images

You don’t have to have complete refurbishment of your main sitting room, just have a look at what you already  have and see if you can put some of it away for the summer and bring in a lighter fresher feel.  I would suggest putting any woollen or heavy throws away and darker coloured rugs and replacing them with cotton or linen items.  Use fresh green, blue or yellow cushions, whatever works with your existing décor, to give a lighter mood.  Change dark coloured lampshades for white or cream ones.  If you have an open fireplace, they can look rather empty when not in use, so place some fresh flowers or perhaps a vintage fire-screen in front to make it look less exposed.  Use lovely fresh flowers wherever you can in brightly coloured vases, and scented candles in summery scents of lemon, lime and rose to lift your mood.

Metallic and glass accessories are lovely at any time of the year, reflecting firelight in the winter and bouncing lots of imagesXXW8ADPTbright sunlight around the room in the summer.  Group them strategically around the room in three’s and fives, and place them on the window sill to really sparkle.  Make sure you keep them shiny and dust free!

Bedrooms need a bit of a refresh too, using the same principles, put away snuggly blankets and throws, add in some pretty coloured accessories, and invest in some pure cotton or linen bed linen to keep you cool on those long summer nights.

For more help and ideas on giving your home a seasonal makeover, get in touch with Jane at Sweet Lime Interior Design

www.sweetlimedesign.co.uk

Choosing the Right Carpet for Your Home

textured carpet

Over recent years, carpet has fallen out of fashion a little in the home in favour of wood, stone and ceramic surfaces.  But I still believe it has a valid place in the home as a good hard-wearing, practical flooring solution.  There is nothing like the warmth, comfort and style of a well-chosen, beautiful carpet, and I think it has a place in most rooms of the house apart from probably the kitchen and bathroom!  Another great quality of carpet is its sound absorbing ability, think of all those open plan living spaces you have been in with all those hard surfaces bouncing noise all over the place, not very conducive to peace and relaxation.  I also find hard surfaces do not absorb dirt and can look quite messy and untidy if not kept spotlessly clean; of course you must vacuum your carpet regularly to lift all the dirt, but at least it is not going into the atmosphere.

When choosing a carpet the most important consideration is how much traffic the room will have, this will help to determine the material it is made from, and probably how much you would like to spend.  In the UK there are three main materials to choose from: wool, wool/man-made mixes and man-made fibres.  You can also opt for silk carpets, but of course they are stratospherically expensive and not for everyday usage!

Wool carpets are usually the most expensive, but give that lovely soft luxury feel; they are great for lower traffic areas such as a master bedroom, or a sitting room that is not used as the everyday relaxation space for a large family.  Wool/man-made mixes are the great all-rounder for higher traffic areas such as sitting rooms, hall, stairs and landings and dining rooms.  The added man-made fibre gives durability and some stain resistance, but you still have the luxury of wool.  Choose grades that are suitable for heavy domestic use in high traffic areas.  Man-made fibres have really come on in the luxury stakes over the years, and are best used in rooms that are going to get a lot of wear and tear, particularly where you have pets and young children using the rooms, and need good stain resistance.  They are a lot cheaper than wool carpets and would be also be a good budget saving option in rooms that get little use such as guest bedrooms.

When it comes to choosing the right style and colour it can be mind-blowing as there is so much choice out there.  Carpet is a great way to add texture to a room, and you can look at velvets, twist piles or looped pile.  Velvets give a formal elegant look, but can show footprints and vacuum tracks, twist piles are simple and warm and come in a huge variety of colours, and loop piles are great for adding textural dimension, but beware if you have pets, as the loops can be pulled.

When picking the colour choose shades to match the mood you want to create in the room. For example greens and blues for peace and tranquillity or shades of gold or terracotta for cosiness and warmth.  Lighter colours will make a room look more spacious, but remember they will show dirt more easily!  Neutrals are a very popular choice these days, but consider whether you want the carpet to be the backdrop to the room or the focal point, and only have a neutral if you want the focal point to be elsewhere in the room for example, in the wall colour, fabrics or accessories.  All neutral walls, floors and furnishings can look very flat and uninviting.

Cool-Nature-Inspired-Carpet-Like-Wood-Surface-with-Digital-PrintA patterned carpet can add real drama to a room, and be the main attraction if you are feeling brave. A very fashionable look, using pattern in a more every day way is to have a striped stair carpet or runner, and there are lots of choices out there if you would like to try this look.

My top tips for purchasing carpet:

  1. Get samples, the larger the better, and see how they look in the room with existing items and at different times of day.
  2. Have the room measured and a price quoted by a professional, they will be able to advise you on the best, most economical way to lay the carpet in that room.
  3. Always use a new, good quality underlay, it will save you time and money in the long run, keeping the carpet from premature wear and tear.
  4. Have the carpet fitted by a professional fitter, again this will ensure maximum long term appearance and durability.
  5. Keep the maintenance guide you will be given with the carpet, and always abide by the manufacturers cleaning instructions, wool carpets especially can react badly to the wrong type of cleaning.

There are some great British carpet manufacturers, have a look at: Cormar, Westex, Brockway, Adams and Brintons for a full range of types and prices.

For more advice and help choosing carpet, please get in touch with me at jane@sweetlimedesign.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

Inspirational Christmas Decorating Ideas for your Home

Decorating the home at Christmas has a lot to do with personal taste and there are many approaches to it.  You may have decorations that you bring out every year, as they have personal and sentimental value;  you may decorate to match your interior design colour and style; decorating purely on what’s the latest trend this year may be the way to go, or it could be a mix of all of these.  I thought I would give you some inspiration to update your Christmas decorating this yearwith a few new trends and styles I have identified.

 

Festive Neutrals – for several years now neutrals have been big news in interior design, and they are now making their way into Christmas decorating, to ensure imagesO2C95E1Lthat the design conscious have a fully co-ordinated Christmas look!  You are layering whites, greys and beiges to give a lovely, gentle festive look to your home.  The most important thing to remember is to add texture to ensure that the room doesn’t look bland and uninteresting, so add layers of faux fur throws, cushions in soft velvet and wool fabrics. For the tree go for sparkly metallic baubles, lots of twinkly white lights and snowflake and star ornaments.

Chocolate and Mint – the inspiration for this look is a walk through a pine forest covered in spimagesF69UAR03arkling white frost and a delicious cup of hot chocolate when you get back inside, preferably looking at that wonderful view! This would make a lovely theme to decorate the Christmas dinner table with, you could use frosted greenery with pinecones for the table centre, light lots of silver candles for soft lighting, napkins would be crisp white cotton dressed with sprigs of winter greenery and silver dishes piled with chocolate mints for after the meal would make the final finishing touch

Scarlett and White – this theme has been popular for a while now and it is certainly a timelimagesDVWX40KWess look.  It is bright and fresh and vintage and hand-made touches can be used to great effect, introduce some silver to give the look an update.

Natural Elements – I identifiimagesHVURXBGNed this as a trend last year and I think it is still with us.  Natural elements work well with a neutral decorating scheme, helping to bring in those essential textures that are needed to give the room that extra dimension.  Think of using lots of natural greenery, berries, pinecones, twigs and rustic style decorations with church candles in simple holders.

The most important thing to remember when decorating is to have fun with it, it all doesn’t have to match, choose what you love to give your home your own special style to welcome your family and friends over the festive season.

 

Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness…

Street scene, Rome

Autumnal colours have been out of fashion in interiors for some time now, but I feel there is a real place in the home for those gentle shades of green, gold, amber and scarlett that speak of mellow, misty days and bountiful harvests.  These colours work particularly well in reception rooms where warmth and welcome are needed and are very good for rooms that are used for relaxing in in the evening, especially with a western aspect to catch those last precious rays of daylight.  Imagine warm ochre walls glowing in flickering firelight, and a comfy terracotta coloured sofa to sink into…

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I recently received some new fabric sample books from Swaffer that feature colours and patterns inspired by nature, and these colour-ways here have a strong autumn influence, they would be lovely used in a snug sitting room or dining room for a warm, relaxed feel.

You don’t have to leaDSCN0752ve seasonal decorations until Christmas, on this mantel piece I have arranged a garland of autumn leaves, pinecones and acorns interspersed with vintage style green glass tea lights to bring an autumn touch indoors and a gentle glow in the evening. DSCN0780

These Chinese lantern flowers were grown in my garden over the summer and look lovely arranged in this vase.  I will also be drying some and spraying them gold to make decorations at Christmas.

On a recent trip to Rome IClassical Carving, Rome spotted this beautiful stone carving of luscious fruit, salvaged from a 2000 year old temple; we have been celebrating nature’s harvest for a long time now,  why not bring an essence of it into our homes for a sense of continuity and gratefulness?

 

For ideas on how you can use seasonal colour to enhance your home, contact Jane at www.sweetlimedesign.co.uk

Punky Pink – Autumn 2013 interior trend

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I’m not a huge fan of pink, a bit too fluffy and Barbie for me, but flicking through fashion magazines recently, I’ve noticed a lot of pink in evidence, but interestingly represented in strong, bold shapes of other fashion trends such as Gothic and Punk, all of which add a balance to the usual girly fluffiness and make it a little more grown up. This Miu Miu polka dot coat is a great example.

 

 

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I can see this fashion trend catching on in interiors, and if pink is used thoughtfully it can be a great colour to add warmth and a little playfulness and fun to a room, and doesn’t have to be confined to a bedroom.  I particularly like pink with grey or brown neutrals, a combination that works beautifully to create a sophisticated but welcoming sitting room as seen here in this picture.

 

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A deep shade of fuschia pink would add extra drama to a black and white scheme, especially with shiny surfaces and would be a great nod to the punk trend. This scheme is interesting – it doesn’t get much more punk than barbed wire in a bedroom!

 

 

 

Six Great Ways to Update Your Home

Are you feeling stuck in a rut with your home? Here are a few simple updating ideas to inspire you to make a few changes:

From the Floor Up – Few people realise how important flooring is in a room, and a new floor can make a huge difference.  If you like wood flooring then have a look at the new finishes such as walnut or dark oak that are now available for a more dramatic look. Things have moved on from the blond oak and beech finishes that were fashionable a few years ago. Carpet is now back in fashion and there are some great textures available in neutral tones, and if you are feeling bold, how about patterned carpet? Now very much back ‘in’.

Crazy for Colour – Are you still stuck on magnolia?  That is a shame because there is a whole world of wonderful colour out there.  Use bright fresh colours to freshen up a room, not forgetting the woodwork.  My favourite ranges are from Fired Earth and Little Greene who offer colours from soft neutrals to deep splashes of colour to inspire and up lift your mood.  Why not book onto one of myStudio After 1 Colour Workshops for some help with putting room colour schemes together?

The Main Attraction – Adding a focal point to a room is a great way of giving you a new perspective on your home. A simple way to do this is decorate one wall with a stand-out wallpaper or paint colour, this could be behind a bed, on a chimney breast or in some alcoves. Try a dramatic emerald green or deep plum. Focus your seating towards the window overlooking the garden; could a fireplace be installed on one wall in a sitting room so the focal point is no longer the TV? Hang a beautiful mirror or distinctive art work on one wall. Arrange treasured possessions and family photographs on a side table.

Window on the World – are your curtains drawing attention to your windows for the wrong reasons? Have they been up for longer than they should or were they hung properly in the first place?  Why not either get them cleaned or just replace them completely?  Try an elegant damask fabric for a sitting room or a lovely floral design for a pretty bedroom. Alternatively for a completely new look try shutters or wooden blinds, these offer great privacy and a sleek modern look. have a look at my Top Tips for Beautiful Curtain Design for more great ideas. DSC_6907

Something’s Cooking – it can cost a lot of money to replace a kitchen, but there are ways you can update it without spending a fortune. Replace the worktops with a lovely new stone or wood finish for a fresh new look. If the units are still sound, add new doors with a modern gloss finish or paint wood ones to match your colour scheme.  Changing the cabinet door handles can give a more contemporary look.

Lighten up – great lighting is key to improving how a home looks and feels, the secret is to ‘layer’ the lighting, start with your main overhead lighting, then add floor lamps, table lamps and finally candles so that you can vary the light levels according to the time of day and your mood. Lighting is also a great way to add style and colour to a room, for more inspiration have a look at Lighting Ideas for Your Home.

 

Not sure where to start? Then give Jane at Sweet Lime Interior Design a call for an interior style consultation.

 

 

How much of a Hoarder are you?

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Find out by having a look at the following statements and see which ones apply to you:

 

  1. You’ve kept all of your school exercise books – you never know when you might need them.
  2. In your kitchen cupboards there are tins and packets of food way past their sell by dates, and let’s not go near the spice rack!
  3. 12 months ago you made a pile of papers marked ‘urgent action’ – and they are as yet untouched.
  4. There is a shelf in your bathroom full of miniature bottles of shower gel, shampoo etc. that you’ve purloined from hotel rooms.
  5. You have an overflowing drawer in the kitchen where you stuff plastic carrier bags.
  6. You have a box of videotapes just waiting to be watched sometime.
  7. Somewhere in your wardrobe there is that two sizes too small pair of jeans and band tour t-shirt from your younger days…
  8. You love ‘buy one get one free’ offers – you never know when you made need all those bottles of bleach.
  9. You have gifts for people stashed all over the place that you haven’t given because you forgot you had them.
  10. That computer that broke three years ago – you will have it fixed one day.

If at least 5 of these statements describe you and your home then it’s probably time you got a handle on your clutter.  Have a look at my blog ‘How to de-clutter your wardrobe’ for some tips to get you started, or see this great article on the Good Housekeeping website for some other ideas.

My Take on The Great Gatsby Film Interiors

I finally went to see the new Great Gatsby film last night and it exceeded my expectations, it was a complete feast for the senses, fast paced, beautifully shot and the clothes and jewels… well what can I say?  It’s very rare that you go to see a film and the audience sits in awed silence as it finishes, but they did last night, I think we were all a little overwhelmed.

 

Gatsby's party spaceI was particularly looking forward to seeing how they dressed the film sets and I was not disappointed, I always love  American film interiors and am a big fan of Hollywood Regency.

This picture shows Gatsby’s ballroom all set up for a party, so wonderfully Art Deco and opulent, though I wouldn’t recommend lit candles next to billowing curtains on safety grounds!

 

 

 

Nick's Cottage interior

What struck me most was how well they managed the large scale spaces for the big party scenes in contrast to the more intimate living spaces where the drama really unfolded.  Nick Carraway’s tiny cottage, dwarfed by the Gatsby mansion was the perfect example of this, a  beautiful Arts and Crafts period space, dressed with wonderful details such as the clock, broken by a nervous Gatsby when he meets Daisy for tea there.

 

Daisy Sitting Room

 

And what about Daisy’s gorgeous drawing room? Full of style and elegance as you would expect; but surprisingly inviting and relaxed – the perfect place to lounge and sip a cooling drink on a sultry afternoon.  Soft feminine tones, comfy sofas and cushions and what about that telephone sitting on its own pedestal, awaiting those momentous phone calls, I really think we have lost something with our mobiles!

 

Gatsby's bedroom

The other amazing space was Gatsby’s bedroom, which really was an enormous wardrobe where at one point in the movie Gatsby starts opening drawer after drawer of expensive hand-made shirts,  raining them down on Daisy, in an attempt to impress her with his fabulous wealth – who wouldn’t want a room like that at their disposal?  So for lots of Jazz Age glamour and total escapism, I would highly recommend The Great Gatsby, go and see it as soon as you can!

 

 

For more Great Gatsby thoughts, have a look at Get That Great Gatsby Look for your Home

 

 

 

Sweet Lime on the Radio

Jane YatesThis morning I took part in a radio show on BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire.  I was interviewed on the Annie Othen Show at 10am along with another local person.  The station is focussing on helping people get back into work and we had been invited along to discuss our dramatic career changes.

I started my working life in industrial purchasing working for organisations such as JCB and the NHS, and they wanted to know how I now came to be an interior designer.  I explained that after a career break bringing up my three children, I did not feel I was able to pick up where I had left off in the working world. I wanted a new working direction that would fit around my home life and also help me to express my creative side.  Mark, the other person who was being interviewed, had been made redundant from the construction industry that he had worked in for 40 years and had started a photography business.

We were asked what advice we would give to anyone thinking of starting up their own business; Mark said ‘go for it’ and I said get yourself educated.  Find out all you can about running your own business by reading books, talking to people who have already done it and get yourself a mentor if possible.