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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Creating a Gallery Wall

Once Upon a time…

I used to help out at an Art Gallery where the positioning and hanging of the art was as important as the pictures themselves.  I think that apart from basic hanging ‘rules’ about eye levels not being too high, hanging pictures is a very personal thing.  However some people get very nervous about putting up art, so here is hopefully a helping hand…

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Here is my latest area where I am going to create a gallery wall, a finishing-off part of a dining room makeover.  You can read about the main bulk of work doing the room here.  After finishing the room I was left with a really large wall which has a mirror and two very large formal prints on it placed very formally.  I do like them, but wanted to create more interest and jazz it up a bit.  In fact, I noticed that when I was trying to find photos of that wall, I had hardly any as it was never that inspiring, so that is a bit telling!

I want to create a gallery wall that is much more contemporary, and uses a variety of artwork and interesting pieces.  I find I always lean towards hanging art very symmetrically and I suppose that is my comfort zone, but this time I am intentionally going to offset the pieces and push the boundaries for myself.

Can I apologise in advance for glare on the photos, the wall faces a large french window and the reflections were murder in my pictures!

So you can sort of see the wall in the back of the pictures, and it is definitely time to make it more interesting.  It is nearly 4 metres wide and has 1.7 metres clear vertically in the dado to picture rail space  There is a radiator below the dado rail bang in the middle, and I might have get a cover made for it as it does stick our like a sore thumb, but that can be a later project.  I know some people paint their radiators in the same colour and paint as the wall behind, so that could be an option…

STEP ONE

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How to make your own Street Art

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ROLL OVER BANKSY… AND APOLOGIES TO DAVE…

I have been preparing for a gallery wall, and wanted to make some of my own artwork for it as well as using existing pieces.

I had started to hunt around for original prints, and found some images I really liked, but the artists’ works are REALLY expensive, and then they would need framing and so on.  So I thought I would pay homage instead and get creative for next to nothing.

I found this very cheeky artwork by Dave Buonaguidi.  He has worked in advertising for over 30 years, founding St. Luke’s, the world’s first Co-operative ad agency and most recently Karmarama in 2000. In 2003 he created the iconic MAKE TEA NOT WAR poster for the anti-war march. It now is part of the collection at the V&A and hangs in the Trento museum of modern art. He loves to make work that creates a reaction.  And this one really is a bit full on, but I like the text over a map.

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Obviously I needed to tone down the wording on my homage to this, I can just imagine the looks of horror from people visiting with kids if I copied the above verbatim!  So this is how I made my own version by changing the working to ‘I bloody love this place’, far less brutal text than the original but still a bit cheeky and a bit ‘English’.  I also have older teenage daughters who would not be offended than younger ones would be, so I think I can get away with it…. maybe… just!?

HOW TO MAKE YOUR STREET ART

I had a vintage framed map of Milan lying around in storage.  It has fond memories for me as I lived there for a few months many years ago, and had a blast whilst there.  So I thought it was a personal piece that I could adapt.  This was going to be the base of the artwork.  I carefully opened it up, and cleaned up the glass on both sides. I measured how much space I had free on the part of the print which would be visible when re-framed.

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Download the free font ‘Marigold’ from fontspace.com, and then you can make any text you want and it is a lovely curly handwritten font.  If you don’t want the bother of making your own document I enclose a pdf you can use but it does have my wording on it, be warned!

I then printed out my wording, in my case on A3 paper as my print is quite big.  Print with black ink.

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Breakfast Room makeover reveal

I have spent the last two days clambering around my breakfast room with paint in hand, and turning it from a very sedate and calm green into a zinging, intense deepest blue.  It all started with some botanical prints that I spotted online at  vintage printables.

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Dramatic botanical prints free for public use

These were really intense botanical images against dark backgrounds, and I fell in love with them.  I sent them off to be scaled up into large prints for the princely sum of £27, and then framed them into the existing frames that I had for my paler versions…  here is the room before:

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It is nice, but I have lived with Farrow and Ball tasteful pale shades for too long! I chose a really intense colour for the walls, skirting and cupboard surrounds called Basalt by the Little Greene Paint Company.  It is a really dark, dark blue, like squid ink:

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Basalt, a really very dark blue tone that looks black or grey in some light

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It’s a bit dark ?!

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Coat one on walls, too late to go back now…..

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Beginning to think it might work now…

I wanted to leave the original Victorian doors, floors and cupboards in their natural state.  As one end of the room has pale painted panelling, plus the door frames and window frame, I though these would be too dark in the Basalt, so I used Lime White by Farrow and Ball for these areas to freshen it up.  The rest of the room was painted in Basalt, and woe betide me if I ever have to paint it out again with a paler colour as it is very dark indeed!

I upcycled the old picture frames with the new prints, (I had 6 printed), and first of all hung them as they had originally been.  But then I decided to make the wall more exciting as the dark background is a great foil for artwork.

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Here are final photos of the completed room:

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Storage cabinet awaiting transformation

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Repurposed window frame as a mirror

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Orchids

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Gallery wall detail

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Gallery Wall

All that is left to do now is to is to overhaul the painted wood cupboard with the lamp on top, as it looks too pale for the room.  I am thinking a zesty green or something similar would work, and I may repaint the table legs to compliment it.