Get the Great Gatsby look for your home

A new re-make of the Great Gatsby is about to be released, and I predict an interest in the 1920’s for fashion and interiors over the summer.  When I ask clients what their favourite design style is, they often say Art Deco and that of course was the archetypal design style of the 1920’s.  It’s a very strong look and can be difficult to incorporate into contemporary interiors without making them look like a film set.  I thought I would come up with a few ways of introducing this very stylish look into your home.

The simplest way is to devise a black and white colour scheme which is very suggestive of Art Deco, but using contemporary fittings, furniture and accessories. Have a look at my previous blog on ways of working with black and white interiors


Style Moderne


Art Deco style bathrooms really have an air of sophistication, a simple white tile with black border could be just what’s needed to get the look, add these taps from Samuel Heath and accessorise with Art Deco style mirrors and glass perfume bottles.  Some 21st Century under floor heating beneath a marble floor and lots of lovely fluffy white towels will add that touch of decadence.




The Great Gatsby is one of my favourite books, and I love the scene near the beginning where the narrator is shown into Daisy’s beautiful drawing room.  I would love to re-create this look using large, comfortable chesterfipiovene-pale-jade-smart-silk-stripe-cushion-maineld sofas covered in white linen, scattered with these cushions from Designers Guild.  These gorgeous 1920’s style tables from Tom Faulkner would look fabulous at the ends of each sofa, perfect for cocktails! There would be a polished wood in-laid floor covered with deep pile pastel coloured rugs. At the windows would be simple sheer linen curtains billowing in the breeze with tall mirrors opposite to reflect back the light. Simplicity and elegance…


Cole wallpaper

There are many 1920’s influenced fabrics and wallpapers on the market that you can use to add some Jazz Age glamour.  How about this wallpaper from Cole and Son? Or Harlequin’s Arkona collection has several 1920’s style fabrics which would beautifully compliment a contemporary room.

For some further inspiration, here is an Art Deco mood board I made a few years ago, showing that this design style is never far from fashion. DSCN0326

For help with introducing this design style or any other you may like into your home, please contact Jane at Sweet Lime Interior Design.




London Road 2012

Recently,  I was asked to work on a very interesting project in Luton, by a young property development company.  They were converting a large 1930’s house into nine studios to provide accommodation for students at Luton University. The brief was to design a vibrant scheme that would appeal to students, but also be able to take the wear and tear of daily student life.  The developers were keen to use an idea they had for open cube boxes to provide a versatile storage solution for the rooms .

Each studio was to have its own kitchenette and en-suite shower room, and there was also planned a communal kitchen and living area for the students to meet in.Communal Area

I decided on a bright and contemporary lime green and tangerine colour scheme for the storage boxes to contrast with an industrial lookKitchenette of concrete and steel grey.  I specified vinyl floor covering that looked like steel plate, industrial style lighting and white metro tiles for the bathrooms and kitchenettes. We used Astro turf on the stairs and communal areas to give an unusual but hard wearing floor covering.


As you can see from these before and after pictures the rooms were transformed, and went down really well and were all let straight away despite the rental being higher than that being charged by the University for their rooms.  For help with similar projects, please contact Jane at  Sweet Lime Interior Design

Before student room Student room

My top tips for de-cluttering your wardrobe!

Yesterday I spent the afternoon de-cluttering my wardrobe and sorting out my shoes.  We are having a new bed delivered shortly.  Our current bed has a lot of storage space under it where we keep shoes and other bits and pieces, but as our new bDecluttered Wardrobeed is a divan; we will be losing a lot of this storage.  My husband had already removed and found new storage for his stuff, so I thought it was time for me to have a go.  I ended up with four bags of items to donate to charity shops and a large bag of rubbish.  I normally have a seasonal de-clutter of my wardrobe, spring and autumn anyway, so here are my top tips for de-cluttering your wardrobe and reclaiming the most important space in your home (if you are a clothes and shoe enthusiast like me!)

1. Look through all your shoes and clothes to help you decide what you want to keep, what you want to donate, and what you want to throw away. These are good questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I love it?
  • Do I wear it; I find the 12 month rule is pretty good- if I haven’t worn it for 12 months, am I ever going to wear it again?
  • Does it project the image I want? And yes, I have had a lot of “what was I thinking?” moments! In the case of shoes it is worth considering if they actually work with the clothes you have
  • Does it itch or scratch? Do shoes hurt my feet or are they hard to walk in?

2. Separate clothes as you go along into donate, throw out (if they are too worn out to re-use) or repair/dry clean.  Have lots of bags ready for this task and then you can put them straight in the car to take to their new homes.

3. Give the wardrobe and drawers a good dust and vacuum out; it’s amazing how dusty they get!  I love this bit; it’s so nice to put your clothes back into a nice fresh space.

4. I like to arrange my clothes into types, such as dresses, tops, trousers, skirts, knitwear, jackets so that I can pick items out easily to make up an outfit.  Some people like to colour code by arranging clothes in specific colour groups, or you may want to arrange in most worn order, this is particularly helpful for your day to day work clothes so that they are easily accessible each morning.

Well that’s my guide to wardrobe spring (and autumn) cleaning.  Here a few other tips to get you thinking:

  1. Have a large re-usable shopping or laundry bag in the bottom of the wardrobe where you can place unwanted items, that way you can de-clutter as you go along, making it a less arduous task
  2. Have the mirror on the outside of the wardrobe door, then you can use the inside of the door to hang bags, scarves etc. on hooks. Or use an over door shoe hanger
  3. Use custom hangers for belts, ties and trousers to better use hanging space
  4. Have your gym clothes in their own storage bin or box so they are easy to get to and give you less of an excuse not to go!
  5. Store shoes in their original boxes, they are easy to stack and this will keep pairs together.

And finally, one web-site I saw recommended a having a clothes inventory so you can keep a check on all your clothes and shoes, but even I thought this was a bit over the top!!


How to use Emerald Green – 2013 Pantone Colour of the Year in your home

The Pantone Institute have named their colour of the year for 2013 as Emerald Green.  This is a luscious shade of green, full of glamour and intrigue, and over the past few months has been the favourite evening gown colour choice of many celebrities including Kate Middleton.

The question is how can we use it in our interiors? Some may not want to, and I suspect it may be a love or hate colour for many people.  For me it is a colour of optimism and depth giving a moody opulence to a room.

Here are a few waImageys I would use it:

This Cole and Son Wallpaper would make a wonderful backdrop to a dining room, used on all walls not just as a feature with dark polished dining furniture and lots of antique silverware.




Luxurious silk drapes to frame a window, drawing the eye out to a garden beyond.




Interior-Design-Hues-1A group of emerald green glassware on a window sill catching the light and throwing a lovely green glow across a room or on a shelf mixed with other green colours for a lush display.




For the really brave it can be used with other jewel colours such as sapphire blue to dramatic effect.Emerald-Green-Rooms-8

For help with using Emerald Green and or any other colour you love in your home, contact Jane at Sweet Lime Interior Design

What are the Top Interiors Trends for 2013?

I’ve been gazing into my crystal ball, well looking at fashion and interiors magazines actually and trying to pinpoint this year’s key trends. How will we be decorating our homes in 2013? Well from what I can see we are going to be much more minimal than we have been over the last few years. The vintage, retro, home-made home trend is becoming less important and we are moving to a more streamlined look.

To get that minimal feel, de-clutter and decorate your rooms in gentle greys and deep blues for a feeling of peace and tranquillity. These colours form a lovely backdrop to this year’s simple but strong furniture shapes in mixed materials such as stone, metal and wood. Marble is the stone for this year, whether it’s in your bathroom, in your kitchen or on top of a table. Cork, a very 1970’s material, is set to make a come-back, great for floor or wall tiles where you want a soft, natural look with great sound insulation. Wirework furniture in black or bright colours will also be a key feature with its graphic shape and clean lines.

This could be your year if you love bold pattern, there will be lots of stripes and zig-zags in black and white or tropical floral prints in bright colours. Used strategically in a room, these are a great way to update a neutral scheme by injecting some life and colour. Introducing them as accessories such as cushions, rugs and bed linen would an easy and relatively in-expensive way to get this year’s look.
If you are looking for this year’s perfect interiors colour, then look no further than blue, not in pastel shades but beautiful deep indigo blue.  Use it as a bold block of colour on a wall or choose it for a large piece of furniture such as a sofa to bring a deep sense of calm into a room.

2013 will be the year of strong shapes, natural materials and soothing colours livened with bold pattern – truly modern!


2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 8 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Where do all those Christmas decorating traditions come from?

A History of Christmas Decorating

The tradition of using evergreens to brighten the home at the darkest time of the year began in the pagan era: at the time of the winter solstice throughout Europe bonfires were lit and houses were decorated with evergreens. The Roman celebrating the feast of Saturnalia, held at the same time of year, used evergreen garlands to decorate their homes.

The use of evergreens at this time of year as a decoration in the home was clearly pagan in origin, the early Christian Church cheerfully adopted this practice, and gave the plants Christian meanings

Tudor Christmas

In Tudor England we did not have Christmas trees, although they were around in 16th century. It is a Baltic/northern German tradition and even then it is not recorded until 1520. The first known record of a Christmas tree was in Riga, Latvia in 1510 which was then part of Germany.

They would have used natural ever greens like holly, ivy, yew, mistletoe, box and laurel to decorate the home but would have waited until Christmas Eve as it was thought to be unlucky to do it before.

The more modern tradition of fairy lights is said to originate from the 16th century.  Legend has it that Martin Luther was walking in the snow covered woods and was so struck by the beauty of seeing the stars through the trees that he took a tree home and put candles on it, and that’s why we have fairy lights!

Georgian Christmas

Evergreen plants continued to be used to decorate in the late 1700s and early 1800s.The aromatic leaves of bay, rosemary, ivy and yew were used on fireplaces and garlands, swags and wreaths made from holly were used staircases.Mistletoe would only have been found below stairs at this time because many churches banned it as a decoration because it was considered pagan and a bit risqué!

Christmas back then was a totally different celebration. In Georgian England celebrations extended over the traditional 12 days of Christmas and Christmas Day itself would have been a fairly low-key affair.

Christmas trees were first introduced to England by German-born Queen Charlotte, wife of George III. As early as Christmas 1799 she had a tree at Windsor Castle decorated with small candles, strings of almonds and raisins and gifts for the children.

Victorian Christmas

When we celebrate Christmas with family and friends, we have the Victorians to thank for many of its joyful festivities and delightful customs. They revived old traditions, such as carolling, and invented new ones such as sending Christmas cards.

Queen Victoria had a Christmas tree at Windsor Castle and in 1848, an etching of Victoria, Albert, and their children gathered around their decorated tree was published in The Illustrated London News. As a result, Christmas trees became the popular fashion in England and the focal point of the Victorian family Christmas. German settlers had brought the custom to America, but when the same illustration of Victoria and her family appeared in Goody’s Lady’s Book in 1850, Christmas trees became even more popular in America then in England.

What made the Victorian Christmas tree so special was its elaborate decoration. These included gingerbread men, marzipan sweets, fruit, paper fans, small tin toys and whistles, pine cones, nuts, berries, and trinkets of all kinds. Paper cones filled with nuts, sweets and other treats were the Victorian favourite.  Hand-dipped candles were placed carefully on each of the branches. A Christmas doll or angel could usually be found adorning the top of the tree.

Later in the century imported ornaments from Germany began to replace the homemade ones. First came glass icicles and hand-blown glass globes called kugels. Dresdens, which were embossed silver and gold cardboard ornaments, took exotic shapes–moons, butterflies, fish, birds, ships, animals and  flowers .

20th Century

During the 30’s and 40’s electric tree lights began to be produced, and after WWII they replaced candles, making it possible for Christmas trees to glow for days on end.  By the 1950’s mass production meant that artificial decorations became  very common and there was a move away from natural decorations. Decorations were bright and colourful and artificial tinsel trees replaced natural ones. Paper and foil garlands were popular.
In the later part of the 20th century there was a swing back to natural decorations also a revival of the traditional Victorian look. New themes and conceptual ideas come and go but the traditional look of Christmas remains ever popular.

How to get that luxury designer bathroom look

For a long time now bathroom design has been all about adding a touch of luxury to the home, and as more and more people are enjoying the indulgence of hotel spas, they want to bring that look into their home.  Bathrooms are seen as a place of relaxation and sanctuary in a busy modern world and there are lots of ways that you can have that spa look in the home.

There are some pitfalls to avoid however, in designing a bathroom to suit most family homes.  Large walk in showers or free-standing baths may not work a small room.  It is always a good idea to consult a professional designer and installation expert when you are thinking of installing a new bathroom to ensure that sanitary wear is the right size and type for your room and that plumbing issues such as good drainage are properly addressed.  For wet rooms a specialist installer should be consulted before you start on the project, to avoid future problems.

With all that said, how can you introduce that luxury feel?  Invest well in products that will stand the test of time, this might mean keeping things simple, but this will always  give your room a classic look that will last.  You could use beautiful white marble in places such as the basin or behind the bath for a look of timeless elegance. This picture shows how marble can be used to great effect in a contemporary setting. Well planned storage is all important if you want to avoid a cluttered look, and for that final touch of luxury, lighting can be used to great effect to enhance the mood, and how about installing some under floor heating?

Bathroom trends are going towards the curvaceous look as opposed to straight lines which have been dominant over the past few years, but in sanitary ware white is still the most popular choice. A soft neutral colour scheme helps to keep it from looking too clinical, balanced with natural wood and stone elements in furnishing and tiling.  But if you want something different, dramatic and  moody dark colours can be introduced to give the room depth and character.

For bathroom designs with a difference, contact Jane at

My Thoughts on Decorex 2012

On a wet Monday morning last week I made my way to Decorex 2012 at the Royal Chelsea Hospital and, although I got completely soaked on my way from the Underground to the venue, it was well worth it when I got there.  I don’t know whether or not I imagined it, but it seemed bigger than last year with some fantastic companies on show, which is very encouraging in today’s economic climate.  There was plenty to see to suit most tastes, and lots of ideas to take away.

For fabrics I fell in love with de Le Cuona all over again, their craftsmen made fabrics come in wonderful soft colours and texures in an array of natural fibres. I came away having ordered samples of a gorgeous cashmere which have since arrived with wonderful efficiency, I just have to persuade my client that the £350 per metre price tag is worth it! In contrast, my other favourite was Barker and Barker who also supply crafts made fabrics in natural fibres, but their designs come in vibrant colours and patterns – a real joy!  I am using one of their designs on a current project and can’t wait to see the result.

Lots of lovely wallpapers were on show, but I came away with some samples of Barneby Gates quirky designs for a particuar project I have in mind.

Rug companies were well represented and and Amy Kent and Anna V Rugs caught my eye with different designs and lovely colour combinations. For sheer luxury and unusual antiqued finishes Matthew Wailes was hard to beat.

There was some great furniture on show from contemporary through to period designs.  Benchmark offer wonderfully made furniture with clean lines or try Julian Chichester for a more eclectic look.  For simple, contemporary shapes Interini was perfect – I love it!

Lighting was big and bold and a little samey in places, but if you are looking to add design and texture to a room, have a look at Armour FX for decorative wall panels or the Quintessa Art collection for large scale contemporary or classic art pieces.

I came away as usual with lots of inspiration and some great new supplier contacts, and look forward to using some of them in my designs over the next 12 months.

Don’t forget you can contact Jane at Sweet Lime Design for design inspiration and  to find out what would work in your home.

100% Design – My View

The 100% Design show was bigger but not necesarily better than last year, it seemed to have a less cutting edge feel to it but that’s not to say there wasn’t some great design on show. There was a very strong international presence, and I particuarly liked some of the exhibits from China.

I was struck by the contrast with old and new, Original BTC were showing their wonderful classic lighting designs, but other designers such as Jacco Maris from Holland were showing their amazing contemporary designs.

Another strong contrast was in furniture design, where you could see the Novague stacking Edge chair in comparison to beautiful Danish design from Paere Dansk. It was also great to see some  young British furniture makers, producing wonderfully made design classics of ther own. My favourites were Young and Norgate and Trett Design.

Ceramics were particularly well presented, with some really unusual shapes and finishes.  But for a show stopping look for your bathroom, look no further than Alex Turco waterproof art panels.  Keep everything else simple in the room and let these stylish panels create the wow factor!

Dulux paints were showcasing their new idea to help people choose the right white for their room.  The idea is to have a colour card with the right shades of white to go with the textures in the room, for example what would look good with a certain type of wood or stone.  Very useful, as choosing whites is a surprisingly tricky business, and getting it right can make all the difference to a room.