Some Design Musthaves

I don’t consider myself a design snob, really. I am a believer that great interior design does not require ridiculous amounts of money and therefore great interiors are not only for the super rich. Of course it helps but great design is all about being individualistic, taking risks (whilst observing some key rules) and not settling for mediocrity.

I realize I am now going to contradict myself because whilst great interiors needn’t cost the world some key items are important. But we can surely save? I believe a couple of key items help pull things together. You can then dress your room with cheaper flea market finds, high street items (chosen carefully) or other personal items. As mentioned before I love combining different styles, eras and textures. Traditional antiques, with art deco finds, contemporary design, vintage etc. For me a great interior must have these items:

1) A 50’s or 60’s original vintage designer chair – e.g. Eames or La Fonda or perhaps a Geoffrey Harcourt F511 or F976

2) A vintage lamp – for instance a Verner Panton or Harvey Guzzini

3) A true stand-out design feature – this is a difficult one to capture! Scale and size here are important. Anything a bit daring, over-sized, wacky that draws attention. A good example is an over-sized brass or golden hand chair – Kelly Wearstler had a similar one or the more affordable Pols Potten version? Or perhaps an over-sized chandelier or wacky feature coffee table from Maison Jansen perhaps? A beautiful 70’s brass palm tree?

Don’t be afraid! Keep your colour palette a bit restrained, don’t go overboard with accessories, keep your fabrics in similar hues and these 3 elements will lift your interior from OK to spectacular!

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A bit of summer

There’s nothing like a holiday to put things into perspective. Realize what’s important in life and focus on the things or people you love…..

A good deal of sunshine, a nice bottle of Nero d’Avola, and a beautiful sea view is all I need… And of course my family surrounding me – kids quietly playing……of course that would be a first!!

Italy is known for great design houses and labels – I didn’t quite get to see them on my travels this time. I suppose I should have gone to Milan and not rural Sicily! Apart from intense smells, great light, fabulous food, and colourful markets I noticed, form an interior design perspective, that Baroque antique style is still very much alive – think over the top gold plated and curly side tables, candlesticks and consoles. Porcelain accessories are also a hit such as white or colourful porcelain fruit bowls with porcelain fruit and birds and the colour yellow – the colour of lemons, dusty beaches, Granite ice/drinks, the walls of boutique hotels, embroidered table clothes, and Limoncello. Yellow in all its varieties – in tablecloths, curtains and walls.

I never really liked the colour yellow. Even when I started to really get into design it still didn’t quite do it for me. I have to be honest and say that today my yellows still tend to be more of the ochre variety and in some cases just plain gold, but it has definitely grown on me.


If you want to add a bit of summer or zing to your room but want to keep it simple try adding a bit of yellow or perhaps gold? There are beautiful fabrics around from High Street chains to designer labels – from Zara Home and Anthropologie to Osborne&Little, Pierre Frey, Zoffany, Dedar etc). It works really well if you add a yellow cushion or plaid to a dull and dark corner. Don’t go overboard (keep it dark and restrained and add a pop of yellow) and if you want to play it really safe try it in the garden first – nothing can go wrong here! I also have a real lemon yellow chevron cushion which I put onto an art deco chair in the dark hallway and in summer throw outside onto a wicker chair.

In the 60’s and 70’s ochre yellow was popular. I believe every great interior has a bit of vintage and as a result there will probably be a bit of yellow in every inspiring interior. Check out some of my favourite vintage 70’s dining chairs.

Don’t combine yellow with reds and oranges (of course my opinion) but go for yellow, or gold with blues and teals, petrol or emerald greens! Colours which probably shouldn’t work together actually do……


Functionality over style?

” Functionality is key” may be true for certain items but for me and, in particular in relation to interior design, I struggle with the concept.

Okay you might want your chairs and sofas to be comfortable but should you really always ensure all your rugs and fabrics are stain proof (just because you have kids)? Should you make sure that the useless sidetable is dumped as it is so wonky it can’t even hold a glass of wine? Or is it okay to have some smudges here and there and leave that one broken chair there because you love it too much despite the fact the leg is ready to come off? Should everything always do what it says on the tin i.e. a table be there to hold glasses and a chair to sit on. Imperfections make things more beautiful, a house with kids but no signs of any toys, socks, and crumbs is not a Home.

Although the ” functionality over style (for lack of better description) concept” can be applied to many items, at this point I am going to restrict it to lamps. Should all lamps be there to provide light? Should they do just that: ensure there is enough light to do whatever you enjoy doing when there isn’t enough natural light? Even I understand that a desk needs a proper light to do your work and use the computer etc. (It can still be a good design; perhaps an industrial Jielde’?). A reading lamp in a living room or on a bedside table is nice to have, but there it stops for me!

Lamps are to me, mood creators, they help create a softer tone in the room, they provide warmth, more intrigue and a feel of coziness, provided done well.

My main sources of light are table lamps. Sconces are fine and maybe one or 2 standing lamps but my main choice of preference would be table lamps. The fact that they actually don’t provide a lot of light – I also prefer the standard old fashioned light bulb to the LED bulb. (I know, I know, you can now get LED with very soft tones and not the harsh “white” light but I am yet to be convinced), doesn’t matter to me. They create little pools of light and combined with candles make the room come alight and sparkle rather than flood the place. This is particularly more effective if you have dark walls.

Again, mix and match, be eclectic with your choice of lamps. Here’s a selection of some of my lamps: 60′ palm tree lamps, sourced on Ebay with lampshades I got made, Duck egg vases turned into lamps with gold lampshades (photo above), a 70′ Harvey Guzzini lamp and a David Hunt lamp.

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Whatever makes you happy

“What makes you happy?”

I used to ask my husband this question but I stopped. I don’t quite know why I persisted in asking the question, as although my husband understands my quirky ways and now “plays the game”, it took a while for him to realize the question really was about what made me happy!

I remember that we were away one weekend in a beautiful little hotel in rural Belgium with Fleur de Lys wallpaper and bedding that was white and crisp and antique furniture that – although not all exactly to my taste – suited the environment. The room was perfect and the hotel was great. We had lunch overlooking a river with champagne and amazing food. I was pretty content! The sun was shining for the duration of the stay and we strolled through little country lanes, went shopping in a nearby town and had wine in the local Wine bar. All pretty idyllic. One of the mornings we had just woken up in the lovely hotel room I asked my husband: “What makes you happy?” I had expected something to the effect of “You” or ” the kids” or “Being here (with you!)” but nope. A bleary-eyed reaction is what i got. I should have known better most men I have surrounded myself with gave similar reactions.

My dear husband now conjures up the desired responses and all is well. But my point is that in fact, I myself, have now found that I don’t always give the expected answers – to my shock horror. Does this really matter; no of course not and it really didn’t matter when my husband got it wrong either.  You just know when all is well and when not. So when recently asked what made me happy I found myself answering: Interior design and more specifically Clever compositions,

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Beautiful Fabrics, Layers and layers of different textures, 50′ and 60′ design, Eye-catching accessories mixed with classic designs, Unexpected colour combinations, A bit of glam with a bit of wacky – interiors which are different, individualistic and make you do a double take.

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