We’ve all spent longer than anticipated inside this year, looking at the same walls, and for many, they have been found to be lacking. In light of this and to celebrate our relationship with the Affordable Artfair we asked Carole Annett from the Country & Town House to provide some easy and practical top tips on re-vamping your home, without you having to dig deep.
1. For interior designer Rita Konig, layout is the key to comfort and ambience. If you’re not sure where to start, choose the room you like to spend most time in and make a fuss of it, especially if it’s small. Going OTT with colour and oversized pillows makes it feel cocooning and special. Think about how you use a room. A sofa or armchair needs a table nestled beside for a book, coffee cup or drink and also a light source if you’re planning to sit and read. Similarly, the right sized bedside light makes night-time reading a more pleasurable experience if light glows in the right direction rather than having a lamp that looks the part but doesn’t offer enough illumination. Like so much in life, good looks aren’t always enough.
2. Benji Lewis of Zoom that Room, an online interiors advisory service, finds clients often have a room they aren’t getting much use from and they’re not sure why. Benji suggests looking at whether it’s warm enough, or the furniture may be too big. ‘Sometimes it’s about taking away rather than adding’, he explains. Bringing in extra light, moving a rug, or putting a lamp on a plinth to vary height can have a huge impact and change your perception of a space. Adding colourful blankets or throws to the back of a sofa or chair adds cosiness.
3. Colour in a home is important as it influences our emotional and physical psyche, particularly tones which connect you to nature. Biophilic design, which involves incorporating nature into our surroundings to improve wellbeing, is currently all the rage and can be as simple as using natural materials such as wicker baskets, a wooden tray on a table or ottoman, linen napkins, or nature-inspired textures and pattern on a wallcovering or fabric. Green and pink combinations continue to whet the appetite of many professional interior designers whether in a bathroom, kitchen or as a hallway duo. Before you take the plunge use sample pots such as those by Farrow & Ball, Mylands or Little Greene or look at new to town French brand Argile, who create clever peel on, peel off A4 sized sample papers.
4. Kit Kemp whose Firmdale hotel group includes Charlotte Street hotel, Ham Yard and The Crosby in New York, is renowned for her clever detailing to enliven a room. She suggests adding character to forgotten areas such as the leading edge of a curtain using braid, tassel or fringing. Jessica Light, one of the UK’s last passementerie weavers, has introduced a new straw fringing that ticks the box for natural texture and colour and will transform a plain curtain. You can even add it in rows on a cushion - don’t just stick to edges. Kit also loves making features of eclectic objects, often collected on travels so they bring an air of sentimentality to a room. 'I have things that follow me around and that I love. I think it’s important in rooms to have focal points, but not a huge focal point like a chandelier or fireplace, but decoy focal points. Mine in my favourite room at home is a weathervane of a fox that I actually bought for my husband’s birthday one year.'
5. Hanging pictures and art make a huge difference to a space. Rita Konig recommends, ‘smothering walls in pictures’, with the proviso, ‘don’t be too neat’. Whether you buy at art fairs, car boot sales or decide to pick up a paintbrush yourself, art gets elevated once it’s in a frame. Buy a mix of frames, from Perspex to wood and arrange on the floor before you start hanging. Once you’re happy with the grouping, take a photo on your phone so once you start to hang, you have a scheme to follow. It’s fun to add a mirror or two to a wall of art. Whether you invest in one stunning new piece of art, find a beautiful blanket or buy an oversized bunch of flowers to put in a jug, every little thing you do will have a positive impact on your home and your mood.