Dressing for Success

Styling accessories in your home is something which creates mood, can turn a bland spot into a point of interest and enhance your decor.  If you know this site, you know that ‘things’ abound in my own house and I am forever arranging vignettes and little corners. People spend hours looking at them when they visit, and say they could never arrange things and create the same effect.  But that is where they are wrong, it can be easily done…

Here are some basic simple principles to styling your home effectively:

LAYER FABRICS

If you have a sofa or armchair, add cushions and a throw or two.  Chose contrasting and complimentary fabrics, and different textures also work really well.  You can change the cushions easily for seasonal changes; think chunky cable knit for winter and silks for summer.  Never place cushions on their points in serried ranks, it makes it look as if you can’t sit on the sofa for fear of upsetting it.  You want people to feel welcome to sit down and relax.

 

The same principe applies to windows.  You can ring the seasons changing by using thicker curtains in the winter, and switching to lighter ones in the summer.  Luxe looks can also be created by layering blinds, pelmets and curtains.

SYMMETRY OR NON-SYMMETRY?

SYMMETRY

If you are going for a formal look and like order and calm, symmetry works really well.  A chimney breast wall for example will usually have the fireplace centralised, and alcoves ether side.  Work in two’s from the centre point of the wall outwards as you place items.  Anouska Hempel is the master of this approach in a very formal, rich-toned style:

 

But the same approach by Kelly Hoppen has a lighter touch and is more contemporary, while still sticking to the same principles:

 

Work in even numbers for placing everything, centralise them, and you can’t really go wrong.

 

NON-SYMMETRY

This asymmetrical approach creates a much more modern and relaxed look.  This time stick to odd numbers for items that you are placing.  Work from left to right, or vice versa.  This looks really good on areas such as shelves and mantlepieces.

 

 

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You can also apply this principle to a gallery wall.

 

WHAT TO USE?

Anything and everything that you have to hand can be used to style a home.  You can make interesting visual displays of anything from mis-matching mugs to coats & wellies.  Books look great colour-coded, or go neutral as the person below has done by turning them back to front, although it might take you ages to find the actual book you are looking for!

 

 

Also, a great tip is to keep your eyes peeled for bargains whenever you are out and about.  Some of my best styling items have been picked up in sales, charity shops and high street pound shops.  Sometimes you can find great items at knockdown prices that can be used to style your home and have a high end look.  These baskets were picked up for  just £1 each in a sale, and can be used all over the home in styling with an industrial look; in a kitchen as below, in a bathroom for toiletries and towels, as pot plant holders and so on.  They look great as a group.

 

Some high street retailers such as H&M, Zara Home and Primark also have seasonal collections of very well priced and designed accessories.

WHAT NOT TO DRESS A HOUSE WITH!

There are some items which should always be hidden away as they are hard to use as display items when dressing and styling a house.  I have yet to find a way to make hairdryers and straightening tongs look beautiful… The same applies to dirty laundry,  cleaning products and mainstream packaged foods unless they are from a smart deli and have amazing packaging.

Also, unless you own immaculate shoes as in the picture below, always store shoes and trainers away.

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Retro Bedspread Repurpose

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Not quite sure what is going on with me, but my recent redecoration of the dining room with pinging accents of orange, has created a need for hunting out more orange bits and pieces ready for the festive season.  Tablecloths, candles, candles and so on.  This is quite a hard colour to source, especially with good quality table linens.  I never even liked orange much before I did this room, so finding things is quite hard as I don’t even have a mental stash of where I have seen things in the past that are appropriate.  With Christmas approaching I also wanted to spend as little as possible as there is lots of other shopping ahead to do.

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Some serious hunting for a table cloth online resulted in either horrible poly cotton banquet plain tablecloths which headed into neon territory, or 100% Irish linen dyed to order at eye watering prices.  I also looked at buying fabric directly, but I kept choosing the most expensive fabrics and £120 a meter is not really budget-friendly.   I also need an ENORMOUS tablecloth, as at Christmas I have my cunning extra large tabletop that comes out of storage and sits on top of the existing table.  It seat 14 easily, and in the past I have had to either make cloths for it or adapt king size bedspreads.  All were tastefully neutral, and not at all suitable for the colours in the room now.

I needed something to ping, and this is the sort of orange colour I needed.  Really pumpkin-like.

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And lo, along came ebay.  I have not used it for a while, mainly as postage has got so expensive in the UK that people seem to have stopped selling on it so much.  But I started to hunt for anything orange, and then this original 1970’s St Michael (M&S) bedspread appeared tucked away in the bedding section.  It is woven damask in shades of orange, perfect for a pop of colour, and looks like something from dressing a 70’s TV sitcom.  And Reader, I bid immediately.  In fact no-one else bid on what looked frankly pretty awful in the picture, so I got it for a song. Here it is, looking a bit grim and dated on ebay.

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It turned up yesterday, and actually it really works in the room!

It is really bright orange and yellow with lovely fat bullion fringing.  It works with all the other soft furnishings in the room.  And it is massive and will easily fit the Christmas table top.

img_3962Until then, I have used it in the corner of the room on a round table, replacing a ‘tastefully beige’ one.  It would not work anywhere else in the house at all, but it does suit the dining room scheme.  Job done, total cost £8.50.

My latest find…

And how to communicate with teenagers successfully…

After Christmas I received hundreds of sale emails from various interior shops.  One of them was from Cox & Cox, a great online retailer with quirky items.  I was not planning to buy anything, especially after Christmas, but this little beauty caught my eye, and it was also reduced so it would have been rude not too really….

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It’s a light box that come with lots of letters, and you can either wall-mount it or have it freestanding.  This has become the key way of communicating with my teenagers at the moment as they shoot in and out of the house, and they also love to leave messages too, so it is a two-way thing.

I have mine in the hall, so they can see it the minute they enter the house.  There is NO WAY they cannot get the message.  Unlike a phone that they can say they did not have on to receive a text or a voicemail, this sign is in your face and unmissable.

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When I first got it, I did a cheery message to get them ready to go back to school after the Christmas holidays:

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By the end of day one at school, it had been changed to this by a child…

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But generally it is a lovely sign to greet people and you can personalise it too if you want.

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But it also has brutal usages if so required…

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Genius, thank you Cox & Cox!

Top 10 Home Accessories That Show You Are A Grown Up

Following on from my Top 10 decorating mistakes to avoid, I started wondering about what objects signify that one is finally being a bit more mature and can be classed as a grown up.  Here is the list… what remains a secret is whether I have all 10.

1.  A proper coffee machine

Not just a percolator or stove top job, but the whole branded Gaggia/Jura/Dualit gizmo with bells and whistles on.  Starting at over £200 and heading into the thousands, these objects of desire channel a mature attitude to coffee, with a hefty helping of ‘I am actually a secret Barista’ thrown in.  You get 1000 extra grown-up points if it is a built in coffee machine by Miele.  Those who have any of these mentioned are obviously smug, and those who don’t are envious.

2.  A present/gift drawer

It’s that awful moment when you remember that someone’s birthday is NOW! and you have forgotten a gift, and need it pronto.  This results in a mad dash to a local shop, mainly for me the local petrol station, to get a not very good choice of wine.  Or cash if it is a child, (not good to waste wine on a child).

You know you are grown up when the above scenario does not happen, but you can stroll to an allocated drawer and pull out one of a variety of choice presents.  It will be niche, stylish and perfect.  Inside that drawer will be scented designer candles, leather goods, beautiful stationary and so on.  There is probably also a selection of droll New Yorker cards, and some rather nice assortments of wrapping paper to choose from.  Continue reading