Style stories

How to choose the ‘right’ white for your room

White is still the most popular, go-to colour for redecorating a room

Back in the 1940s, a new formula for paint arrived on the scene. Titanium dioxide was added creating a really strong, lasting bright white, and it resulted in an explosion of new interior schemes. It really took hold in the 1960s and we’ve been loving it ever since!

It can certainly be the perfect blank canvas… if you choose the right tone! If you don’t, you’ll be sitting in a stark, clinical, cold space. Why? Because white isn’t just white. There are hundreds of white paints on the shelves, from brilliant white to off-white to white-with-a-hint-of-whatever and the differences between them are enough to give a room a completely different feel. The trick to finding the right white for your space involves understanding undertones and picking which suit both the natural and artificial light in your room, as well as what you’re going to put in it.

The bar area from the Ferry Road project

See how natural light from the right makes that side of the room look cooler compared to the very warm tones created by the floor lamp?

Grab some testers

A bright reading corner from the Crowell Hill project

Looking at different whites on screen or on swatch cards won’t really help you get to grips with pigments and undertones but tester pots painted onto a wall really do! If you buy a selection of them, as well as a pure brilliant white as a reference point, and paint them next to one another on the wall, you’ll start to see the subtle differences in the grey, pink, yellow and other undertones. Look at them at various times of day too, under both natural and artificial light, and you’ll begin to realise that some don’t work at all in your room and others do.

Grab your compass

North-facing rooms typically feel colder and darker, so you will need to choose a paint with warm undertones of yellow and red that will warm things up and bounce light around more.

South-facing rooms are naturally bright and sunny, so need no warming up and can happily handle blue or grey undertones.

Handy tip: To make life easy, you can get a Compass app on your phone!

Light coming from east or west?

Would you believe it if I told you that in the image here, there is only one paint colour on the ceilings? In the long room of the current Fulham project, there is a large window at both ends, one facing east and one west. Guess which side the morning sun is coming in from? I haven’t had to put any filters on this photo-there’s no need to make my point!

With full sun streaming in, you can see just how warm the east facing side becomes. In this particular situation, we decided that as the living room will be used mostly in the evening when the sun is setting, we could afford to use a bright white (Little Greene’s Flint to be precise) in both spaces but just imagine how yellow it would all look if you used a warm tinted white here?

Grab your interior designer!

Before you slap your carefully chosen white everywhere based on the room orientation, it’s worth pausing to consider your intended finished room design, as this can also influence your choice of white. For example, a living room with warm toned colourful sofas, artwork or rugs would work best with a warmer white, while a minimalist Scandi vibe might warrant a cooler tone.

Designers are great at maximising the dimensions and architectural attributes of a space and sometimes (just to confuse things) combining variations of white on woodwork, features or ceilings, can actually enhance the proportions or the period features of the room.

A view through to the dining area of the Ferry Road project

I hope all that helps you make the white decision…(sorry!)

Before you head out and buy that 10 litre pot of paint, if you want some advice from me, I offer hourly consultancy to give you peace of mind.

Style stories

Beautiful, Artisan, Italian homewares- An interview with Allóra

I am always on the look out for new beautiful brands, so that I can offer ‘just the right piece’ in my projects. Discovering Allóra was a joy! Read on to discover a little bit more of what I found!

What is the story of Allora?

AllÓRA was born out of our passion for beautiful aesthetics and exceptional quality combined with our love for bringing stylish designs and unique wares to people. As we drove around Italy, we would come across beautiful little towns and villages and stock up on the gorgeous items we found. We made a personal selection of the very highest quality Italian textiles, ceramics, glassware and cookware for our own home, which we then wanted to share. We still do this by travelling through Italy, meeting artisans and spending time at their studios. We talk with them about their history, their influences and their approach. We discuss the things they create and we propose ideas for new creations they could potentially craft with and for us.

What inspires your designs and collections?

 We are from a beautiful region in Italy, Emilia Romagna, known for its gorgeous landscapes, medieval cities and beaches – a brilliant mix that we try to bring into and share through our collections, ideas and themes. As you will see from our pieces, we try to use a variety of styles and designs that work together. All of our items are handmade, using traditional techniques and the full process from designing collections to producing them is very organic. Our luxury linen tablecloths and designer tea towels showcase our approach in particular. Gorgeous fabrics, some woven over 70years ago, have beautiful and varied patterns and rich colours . These, in particular, very much sum up what AllÓRA is about.

What interiors inspire you professionally and personally?

Much like our creations, we have a strong appreciation of interiors that are charming and full of personality. In Italy we have a beautiful home in the countryside, surrounded by luscious fields and gorgeous mountains. For us, interiors that are clean, spacious and blend the contemporary with the traditional are inspirational.Think of rustic sophistication. Beautiful textures, open spaces and well thought out colour schemes are our favourite!

What trends do you see for dinner parties and events?

With what has happened in this past awful year, many of our clients tell us how keen they are to once again invite friends and family over for a dinner party. As we approach spring and summer this will undoubtedly become easier. However, we think that large parties and gatherings will be less common, as people seek more intimate and cosy settings. And since the British weather is so unpredictable, we think that al-fresco gatherings will be how many people choose to celebrate, whether as an event in the garden or as an outdoor dinner party. 

Thank you so much to AllÓRA for taking the time to speak with me. For more information and to discover their beautiful goods, visit AllÓRA would like to offer a big thank you to Kate for taking the time to speak with us. For more information and to discover her beautiful projects, visit Allóra.

Style stories

3 top tips to make your interior project a breeze

When you’ve made the decision to redecorate or redesign your home, it’s such an exciting time and who doesn’t want to dive straight in? BUT, if I can give you one piece of advice for that exact moment it’s ‘STOP’ and step away from the paintbrush. Why? Because it’s super important that every aspect of your project is planned before you start.. this is the key to a great interior!

Here are my 3 top tips for interior project success:

1. Take the time to define your style

Most people either like to think that their individual preferences mean that their own style is unique, or they don’t believe that they have one. The truth is that the majority of looks come under an established banner in interior design terms and the best way to confirm yours is to start by looking at your own home. Note the pieces you love and those you don’t. Think about the wall colour, the floor, the fabrics and see what you’ve been drawn to over time, chances are that a theme of some sort will come through. Then browse online at your dream homes and spaces and see if your aspirations have a theme. You might find that you start to see certain labels cropping up, like Scandi, Vintage or Colour-Blocking . These labels are your "style". If you notice that you’re drawn to exposed brickwork, metals and greys, then Industrial could be your thing. If your vibe is more layered textures, up-cycled furniture and gentle colour then rustic or Spring style could be you.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to align yourself with one style if nothing is obvious but a great next step is to create a mood board on Pinterest and gather together images you like then move to finishes, fabrics and furniture. By the end of this process you’ll see your style come through and you’ll have a much better idea of a design direction that is all YOU!

2. Choose your colour palette and use the 60 / 30 / 10 rule

I’ve talked about colour in lots of blogs before (but I’m going to do it again!) as it’s my second top tip for interior design project heaven. Before you hit the DIY stores you absolutely need to establish the ideal colour palette that works for you and your family. I’m a big fan of the classic 60-30-10 decor rule.

It goes like this…60% of the room should be a dominant colour that creates the mood for the space that you want. 30% should be the secondary colour and the last 10% should be for accents only.

My Littleton Street living room is a great example of the rule in action. The pale blue on all walls, cupboards and sofas create a cool sophisticated vibe for 60% of the room. White gives contrast to the ceilings, windows and fireplace at 30% and the accessories like throws and cushions pop-out beautifully at 10%.

Follow this rule and you won’t go too far wrong with your project!

3. Select items that work for you and zone your space

The furniture and accessory pieces you choose in your design might centre around existing things you’re keeping (or a new one you’ve had your heart set on) but they should all reflect your lifestyle and how you want the room to function. When you start to research your chosen style, you’ll be inundated with furniture and accessory suggestions which can be overwhelming. So again stop and focus on what’s really important in the space, get a pen and paper out and zone your spaces according to the activities that will be carried out in them.

Once you’ve got your zonal plan together choose your furniture and accessories to meet the needs of the room, that way you’ll shop and spend so much more effectively and that’s what we all want isn’t it?

Every good interior design project should have a cohesive look and feel, so try these steps before you begin your next design adventure, they’ll pay you back in spades!

And don’t forget…

If you need a bit more help, my ‘How-To Guides show you exactly how to recreate some of my favourite interiors look in your home.

It’s my job to read between the lines and bring your vision to life, so if you have a project you think I could help with, I’d love to hear from you.

Style stories

Bold vs Neutral…there’s room for both in your home!

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll have seen plenty of daring design ideas, bold colour suggestions and eclectic looks. But that doesn’t mean that those are the only styles I like, or the only jobs I do for my clients. In fact I use more neutral colours in many of my schemes to create a different mood or atmosphere so in this blog I’m going to show you how to take the understated elegance of a neutral colour palette…and give it a special Kate Lovejoy twist!

The dressing room from The Old School House

Neutral colour provides a calm base to work from

Even though the term ‘neutral’ implies no colour at all, there are enough undertones in the hundreds of shades of white, beige, ivory, taupe or sandstone that we can treat them as seriously as an other colour. This is especially true when it comes to designing the palette for an interior scheme. Neutral colours provide a calm base to either build upon with bolder elements or to support a wholly neutral feel. Dulux’s Colour of Year 2021, Brave Ground, is a neutral shade that they have called "the cornerstone of decorating", which underlines how important and effective a neutral can be.

Using the same interior rules as we would with strong colours, ie 60% dominant, 30% secondary and 10% accent, a neutral palette can easily be as stylish as a ‘colourful’ design. Staying within a tonal palette is also important – picture a hint of petrol blue or gold and a touch of black or brown across an all white chalky base for example. Then applying other principles that I’ve also mentioned before like textures, layers, and unique pieces of art and you’ve got the most elegant, relaxing neutral interior…but with a twist!

The Master bedroom from The Courtyard project

The natural lighting of a room can help direct your colour choice

When it comes to choosing your starting point, your primary neutral, the first thing to consider is the natural light in the room. In a north-facing room, straight up white isn’t going to cut it and will struggle to lighten the space. The cool toned natural light will showcase the cooler tones of a colour, so you should either embrace that and go down a sophisticated grey/green route, or better still counteract it with warmth, using neutrals with rich undertones. Similarly, your accent colour will need to perform the same function, so blues and greens for the cool approach and spicy rich colours to warm up a room.

The dining room from The Courtyard project
The living room from The Old School House

So, if you’re struggling to decide on a colour scheme for your next interior design project, or you want to create a zen calm, natural environment to escape the hectic world outside, why not consider my take on a neutral look? It will stand the test of time and always look stylish, then while everyone else chases the latest trends and frantically redecorates year after year, you can take a deep breath and relax…!

And if you need some help and guidance, drop me a line to see how I can help!

Style stories

Everything you need to know about eco-friendly paint and why it is better for you too

Do you remember the days when the smell of ‘fresh paint’ in your home signalled a freshening up of your decór? None of us really had any idea that this smell was actually toxic fumes, doing us no good whatsoever!

I’ve blogged before about sustainability in interior design ( read here) being part of a larger cultural shift towards a more environmentally conscious way of living. Fortunately, sustainable choices are becoming easier to make everywhere we look, and one area that affects my design world is the rise of eco-friendly paint.

I know what you’re thinking: paint is a manmade product, so how can it ever be truly eco-friendly? Well, while you’re correct to a certain extent, there are paint companies out there producing paint that has a minimal impact on the environment. Traditional paint is high in toxins, plastics or chemicals, so, what exactly makes a paint eco-friendly and what do we need to look for?

As yet, there is no clear definition of what constitutes ‘eco’ or ‘natural’ paint or any accreditation for the paint industry, like they have in timber, for example. This means that paint companies can use the word ‘organic’ purely because there are some plant-based ingredients, so it’s important to drill down deeper and look at the small print, particularly in terms of how it is made and what exactly is in it.

The manufacturers

There are many companies large and small who are now offering a healthier, more sustainable alternative to the chemical paints we’ve been used to. Here are a few of my favourites- each one has written about their credentials, which I have linked to under each image

Click for more here
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Click for more here

The ingredients

You should be able to read this on the paint tin itself but expect to see plant-based oils like linseed; waxes; clays; and chalks or limestone. You might also spot casein, a milk protein, taking the place of other petrochemicals. It’s a bit of a minefield that is crying out for regulation because some of the products involved in regular paint manufacturing that can cause health problems are from natural sources and therefore could be considered organic. Not everything that is naturally occurring is healthy of course – turpentine comes from a plant product and is carcinogenic. Be wary too of the phrase "water based"– some manufacturers are able to use this when it really only means "watered down". 

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

Paint, as well as brush cleaners, primers and spray paints are the second largest contributor of VOC emissions after the motor industry. VOCs can be harmful and trigger allergic reactions and asthma. They also stick around for years after paint is dry. The government did change the rules on VOC levels in retail paint some time ago, so it’s no longer enough for a company to claim a paint is eco-friendly just because of a low VOC, given all paints are low now. VOCs are another grey area sadly, where natural paint suppliers will go as low as they possibly can, and other manufacturers contend that no paint can be truly VOC-free. And even if it did achieve zero VOC’s, it still doesn’t mean it’s eco-friendly if the other ingredients are wrong.

If the trend for sustainable practices and demand for natural paint grows, then industry wide standards will surely follow. In the meantime, for those us trying to live as eco-consciously as we can, it’s good to know that there are benefits to be had from spending some time choosing eco paint. Those with the lowest VOCs will least impact our health, and for homeowners with old properties, natural paint offers excellent breathability for our walls and is a natural mould repellent.

Lastly, bear in mind your own waste generation on your next DIY project – most unused paint has to be incinerated or ends up in landfill sites, so try to estimate your litres and coverage as best you can – or ask your friendly interior designer to help!

Style stories

6 easy ways to warm up your grey room using the latest trends

You’ve probably noticed that all the magazines are filled with the latest trend towards warm, earthy tones, inspired by nature. If you want to do a little update but your sofa and walls are grey (because that was all the rage not that long ago!) what do you do?

I’ve got 6 ways you can change things up a bit, using the latest trends without having to start from scratch.

1) Add natural wood elements

Wicker, jute and rattan are all on trend right now. The natural warm tones will help to soften things up. Try places like Maison du Monde, Made, Dunelm and H&M and Nordic Nest for side tables, trays and lighting.

From L to R- Maison du Monde, Heals, Made and Naken Interiors

2) Warm toned lighting

One of the easiest changes you can do to make your room feel cosier is to make sure your bulbs are warm in tone. Natural light will of course affect the feel of a room. If it’s north facing or doesn’t have much natural light, a room will feel naturally cooler, so a grey wall may feel even greyer.

But once that daylight has gone and you are relying on artificial light, make sure you have a few table and floor lamps to instantly create warm spots in the room.

Carla @houseofbeau13 has got it right with warm light and lots of natural finishes

3) Bring in the green plants!

It’s not a new trend to have houseplants of course, but they can sometimes be forgotten as a great way to bring natural colour and form into a space (as well as all the therapeutic qualities of course!)

Planters from Cult Furniture

If you don’t have lots of space, try grouping small succulents together like this, they have gorgeous subtle tones in them.

4) Use highly textured finishes

Don’t use shiny fabrics but go for textured finishes like wool and slubby linen to give a more relaxed look.

Bring in layers of texture with rugs and mis-matched cushions.

A perfect example of a relaxed look by Studio Milne

5) Colours to use with grey

Most yellows work with grey from soft ochre greys through to mustard and gold tones.

Using a grey base from the Glade Road project

We used a pale pink and a rattan pendant in this snug below . In fact most of the rooms at the Glade Road project had a pale grey background which you can see here– have a look as there’s lots of ideas!

Using pale pinks in the Glade Road project

6) Metal finishes

The obvious one to go with grey is chrome but if you want to warm things up think about changing to brass- not as bright as gold but will warm the palette up.

Image courtesy of Skona Hem

So there you have it! 6 ideas to warm the greys without having to get the paintbrush out!

If you’d like to see more ideas like this, then my monthly newsletter ‘The Bold and The Brave’ is packed with ideas! Sign up here and get the free download ‘10 tips to make your interior scheme amazing!’

And of course, if you need any help, anything from needing some help with the right colour paint to a full blown renovation project and anything in between, let’s have a chat today! You can send a message here!

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