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In light of Mother’s Day coming up, and any other occasion where you need a thoughtful gift, opting for something from the homeware department can go a lot further than just a scented candle. Buying gifts for the home can be a great way to give something that’s long lasting, sentimental and unique. Whether it’s a house warming present, a birthday or holiday, or just something to show someone you care, a thoughtful home accessory can be the perfect gesture.

There are two ways you can look at it when it comes to gifting home accessories to a close friend or family member; adding to their already existing theme of pieces and ornaments, or giving them something a little outside their comfort zone, something they wouldn’t ever get themselves. When giving homewares there is a chance to get creative, have a little fun and give a touching present.

Typically, when it comes to the big touches in a home, the owner will want to make that call on their own, so when giving homeware as a gift it’s all about the small, but special touches. This sweet blackbird tea towel from Angel & Boho is an ideal gift; the adorable print takes away the functionality aspect of the gift, making it a great addition to a kitchen, to be displayed as a bohemian design feature.

‘Blackbird Tea Towel’ from Angel & Boho

Sticking to the bird theme, a simple way to add some life to a garden is with a bird feeder. This rustic piece from Catesby’s is the perfect way to decorate a garden and entice from real birds as well. The piece is great for adding a little charm to an individual tree or a small garden or balcony area.

‘Hanging Bird Feeder’ from Catesby’s

The great thing about giving or receiving homeware as presents is that it’s an opportunity to get an item that you might not be able to justify getting for yourself. Buying something fun, with perhaps just a hint of kitsch that makes a fabulous finishing touch to a home. I love these pin-up candlestick holders from Ark, ideal for putting a smile on someone’s face and lighting up an area of the home, perhaps a table or dresser, giving the space a bit of humour and life.

‘Show Girl Candlesticks’ from Ark

As with many people my age, I’m just being to start a collection of homeware pieces that I’ll (hopefully) treasure forever, so receiving items that I can add to this assembly of ornaments is a great way to give the collection some diversity and give myself new ideas about what I like. Pieces like these multi-coloured candle holders from Habitat are quite a particular style, but if you have someone you know will love them, or someone you think can take on the challenge then they’re a great, creative gift that goes a step further than the typical candle themed gift.

‘Odela Multi-Coloured Ceramic Candleholder’ from Habitat

My mother has always had a love for flowers and nature, whether it’s in the garden or in the home, so giving her pots and vases has always been a sure-fire way of getting her something she likes (and will use), whilst still being able to get her something with an unexpected design or style. This speckled jug from Catesby’s is a versatile piece that can be used as its primary function, or as a vase. It would make a great accompaniment for some fresh spring Daffodils, with the electric blue and yellow contrasting perfectly.

‘Speckle Ware Jug’ from Catesby’s

For more of a rustic feel, these antique French pots from Baileys would make amazing gifts, for vases, planters or just ornaments. The individual nature of them means that you can give a few in an array of shapes, styles and colours.

‘Old French Poitiers Pottery’ from Baileys

If you have a friend, or maybe a son or daughter who has recently bought their first home, or renting their first grown up flat, they may need a few things to help get them started. Whilst a lot of necessities can be bought from places like Ikea, buying some pieces that can give the home a few special touches can make great presents, especially if it’s for someone who can’t justify getting it for themselves. A simple bowl like this one from French Connection is a great starter piece for those finding their style footing. It’ll look great against some simple chinaware sets and begin to add some character to a home.

‘Green Stone Bowl’ from French Connection

On the contrary, if you know this person has quite an experimental kind of style, and is always keen to try new things and be surprised, an item like this flamboyant tray from Porcupine Rocks is not only a fantastic gift, but also full of flair, making it a real statement piece.

‘Shine Shine Tiger Tray’ from Porcupine Rocks

Finally, if you’re searching for a gift for someone that already has it all, then something frivolous and fun may be just the ticket. This lollipop holder from Jonathan Adler ticks all the boxes if you’re looking for a present with a sense of humour, individuality and a hint of madness. It makes the perfect addition to an already fruitful collection of eclectic ornaments.

‘Mohawk Lollipop Holder’ from Jonathan Adler

Buying gifts for loved ones is a great way to express your appreciation from them, and give them something they’ll love. Deciding to give them homeware means choosing something that they can treasure forever, giving sentiment to their home and help add to the collection of wonderful items. Whether it’s an antique item, something a little outside of their comfort zone, something sweet or an item that encourages them to walk on the wild side of interior design, there is so much fun to be had with picking out gifts, you’ll just have to refrain from keeping them all yourself!

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In this contemporary scheme, a comfortable statement sofa worked well to bring a relaxed feel to the room. Photography by Simon Whitmore

It’s weird thing that sofas are so hard to get right, but they really are. Furniture is generally easier to select than say redesigning a bathroom or commissioning joinery but over the years I have heard many sorry stories of profound disappointment on receipt of an eagerly awaited sofa. With this in mind, I often find myself using the 3am worry slot to agonise over an impending sofa delivery. However much I know that we have done exhaustive investigation, double-checking and confirming on behalf of, and involving, our clients in the run up to placing a sofa order, it is always a few hours prior to delivery that I decide that we have definitely overlooked something.

There are a lot of things to consider before buying (or commissioning, more on this later) a sofa. Firstly, you need to think about what style of sofa is going to work in your room – do you lean towards a contemporary or traditional feel, mid-century modern or shabby chic? You don’t need to put a name to the style you want but if you are unsure of what look you prefer then you are not ready to enter a sofa shop yet. Fabric choice is important too and hard to consider in isolation. Building up a picture of the final scheme including wall colour, flooring, other items of furniture, curtains or blinds and so on will help you to avoid a fabric choice that you find hard to match to or that is a bland disappointment. There is a raft of other decisions to also be considered and these crucially include size – a measure of the room with consideration to other items of furniture is vital – and comfort levels of which height of back, depth of seat, filling and how the sofa is constructed all play a role. There are lots more decisions that are important but I won’t go into all of these for fear that you may decide that your hand-me-down, battered sofa that you hated when you started reading is perfectly all right. However, I will say that it is better to consider a lot of these decisions prior to spending that nightmare Saturday morning trailing around high street furniture shops and ending up feeling overwhelmed by information, underwhelmed with what you have seen and temporarily less keen on the loved one that you left the house with that morning.

Can I also at this point, strongly steer you away from the idea that buying a cheap Ikea sofa with the plan to bin it in future and get the one you actually want is a sensible decision. This thought has been shared with me in my professional capacity more times than I care to remember and it is a notion that is riddled with flaws, the primary one being that all you are doing is delaying doing the work to get the right sofa and in the meantime putting up with a piece of furniture that isn’t right because you haven’t given proper consideration to what you do want (whether it ends up coming from our fine Swedish friends or not.)

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A traditional sofa in a plain fabric looks very happy in this country drawing room. Photography by Simon Whitmore

Once you have done your homework deciding which sofa is perfect for you, there is the possibility that you won’t be able to find what you want on the high street. Retailers are undoubtedly getting better at offering flexibility on size, fillings, legs, fabric and so on but I do find that we often have to commission a completely bespoke sofa in order to get what we want and this route is available to everyone. A good sofa maker is able to make or commission a frame to an agreed size, shape and style and then upholster it to your requirements which means that the world is your oyster. It also means that you are speaking directly to the expert, the person who is going to actually make it, so you should receive excellent advice. I know that you will be thinking that this all sounds very expensive and although it is not a bargain basement option, I always think it is less expensive than one would imagine, which is a reflection of not paying for a middle man and normally not paying for a swanky showroom and a glossy brochure. Although there are many excellent sofa makers all over the country, for historical reasons many are located in and around Nottingham which is where our ace upholsterer is based. There isn’t a chance that I will reveal his name but if you find a workshop with stressed looking craftsmen looking at an order and muttering ‘what on earth are they asking for now’, you may be in the right place.

What I will share with you are a few of my sofa related tips drawn from many years of professional sofa buying, some more painfully learnt than others, that I hope will help you in your quest to avoid sofa disaster:

  1. I’ve mentioned checking the size of the room but the other key measurement is the size of the doorway/staircase/sharp turn from corridor to room etc. A beautiful new sofa that won’t go into the room is not a pretty sight and if you think your proposed sofa won’t fit you may be able to have it delivered in pieces (removable legs or arms etc.) but you need to check that carefully.
  2. Don’t rule out the idea of an antique sofa that may or may not (if you are really lucky) need recovering. Often the frames (and sometimes the fillings) are well made and antique sofas can offer something a bit different. As an example, there is a company called Pelikan in Haverhill that buy original mid-century sofas from Denmark and restore and recover them. If your style leans in this direction, and you are in the market for a sofa, you should visit them immediately.
  3. Sofabeds are much better now than they used to be when neither the sofa nor the bed were all that comfortable. They are a good option if you are short of guest sleeping space but remember to consider how the room will function when it is transformed into a bedroom – do you have to move furniture in order to unfold the bed, where does bedding live, where do guests put their things? – often sofabeds are not used as beds because the room doesn’t really work as a bedroom, so it may be better to concentrate on sofa comfort rather than incorporating the bed facility.
  4. I hate hard and fast rules from interior designers because there is normally an exception but I am going to stick my neck out on scatter cushions made from the same fabric as the sofa. I genuinely can’t think of a situation where they are a good idea. The purpose of a scatter cushion (not back cushions or any cushion that is part of the sofa) is primarily decorative and small square cushions that blend into the sofa are apologetic at best.
  5. Lastly sales. Panic buying leads to mistakes. It is great to get a bargain but it is not a money saver if you immediately want to change it. There are many sales throughout the year and I guarantee that if you miss a sale bargain, there will be another tasty offer available sooner than you think.

Finally to anyone who has made a mistake with a sofa purchase, and my heart goes out to you if you have, don’t add to the problem by matching to the mistake. I have had customers say to me that they have a sofa they hate but for whatever reason it has to stay so we need to build a scheme round it. This is not a good plan. My approach would be to design a scheme that we love without considering the offending sofa, and implement it, which will hopefully dilute the impact of the mistake. We may add a few accessories that tie it into the scheme and then we wait for the day the right sofa can be put into the room and the sofa mistake can be found a new home somewhere that it is welcome.

This article first appeared the February edition of Cambridge Magazine 

Whenever Lizzie Ibbotson, our Osborne & Little rep comes in to show us the new collections it’s always a wonderful trip to a world of fantasy and magic. Osborne & Little have completely nailed their latest collection, Enchanted Gardens, with beautiful patterns, designs and some fantastic colourways, it’s a collection to covet. So take a look at some truly enchanting designs.

‘Meadow’

Meadow is a vibrant pattern is a modern take on the typical floral themed fabrics. The array of wild flowers, including some lively poppies, really stand out of against the navy background. It’s a strong look that must be met with some hefty confidence, but it’s a great choice for making an impact in a room.

‘Aviary’

The Aviary pattern gives you a geometric feel, these colourful birds on a structural web are a great way to add some colour and fun to a contemporary room. If typical florals and natural motifs aren’t really your thing, adding a contemporary element can help to eliminate the factors that you’re not so keen on.

‘Woodland Sheer’

When it comes to sheers, you’ll typically find some beautiful white or off-white colours that’ll look elegant whilst giving your room some substance, but at the same time maintaining the light. Osborne & Little have taken this one step further, keeping the cool and sophisticated sheer qualities but adding a dash of colour into the mix with some fun leafy shapes.

One of my favourites from the collection is Rain Forest; it’s the combination of vivid colours, intriguing patterns and the overall striped effect that really create a concise, contemporary and glamorous effect. The only problem you’ll have with this fabric is choosing between the two colourways; the first, a green leafed pattern with almost neon indigo flowers, and the second a beautiful combination of purple and yellow.

‘Rain Forest’

Hanging Gardens is an adorable fabric that’s perfect for a feminine, sweet interior. The pattern consists of all the wonderful planters, baskets and birdcages you might imagine in your dream conservatory. The painterly style gives the whole look a soft and charming feel, giving it some interesting character. It’ll look gorgeous framing a window or doorway to the outside, especially blowing gracefully in the breeze.

‘Hanging Garden’

One of my favourite flowers, the Rhododendron, is captured beautifully in one of the fabric patterns in this collection. The gentle trellis-like formation makes a sophisticated structural look without being too heavy. The pattern is perfect for giving a little life to a conservative setting. The flowers have a charming traditional feel, but the dabbled background gives a little touch of contemporariness to the look, making perfect for adding florals to a period home without it looking dated.

‘Rhodara’

For a chinoiserie style, but with a twist of modern colours, the Japanese Garden pattern is just the ticket. The busy yet delicate design will give a room a new lease of life, and is a design that can be introduced in to a multitude of interior themes; including contemporary, bohemian, retro or traditional. A great feature of a chinoiserie style pattern is that it integrates the old with the new, and the fun with the elegant.

‘Japanese Gardens’

A new lighter touch has been given to an old favourite from the Pasha collection, the Tulipan. The teal, blush pink and faded orange tones of the detailing, gives the intricate pattern a softer feel, making it a more diverse fabric. There is also a certain modern neon-ness to the pattern which gives it an unique, contemporary, floral look.

‘Tulipan’

Lastly, for something full of quirk, fun and just a hint of quaintness, the Curio pattern. From a distance, there’s a grid-like formation but upon closer inspection, you see a whole world of curiosities. Squirrels and owls that have found themselves bouncing around crockery and shells overall making a sweet, joyful pattern. It would make a perfect kitchen or bathroom blind, giving additional warmth.

‘Curio’

If you love adding a touch or romance, character, fantasy and charm into your interior, this collection is your new best friend. From contemporary to traditional, there’s something to suit everyone, and all sorts of ways to have fun and get creative with the Enchanted Gardens collection.

For this month’s Book Club, we’re looking at something a little different. It’s not your typical Interior Design book that’s full of examples and ideas to help improve your home. Instead, it brings you inspiration in a slightly different way. In The Secret Lives of Colour, author Kassia St Clair tells the story of seventy-five glorious colours, from Chalk to Kohl, and what you’re left with is an urge to get out there and immerse yourself in a world of colour. I’ve picked out a select few colours, and some snippets of their history, alongside some inspiring and creative ways to use them in your home.

St Clair begins Ivory’s journey by recounting the discovery of “treasure that had been hidden in a small stone chamber in a sandbank for 700 years”, a collection of chess and game pieces and a belt buckle. The origins of the pieces is unknown, and their journey to the Isle of Lewis, where they were discovered remains a mystery. The hunger for Ivory is exemplified by the account that as many icebergs and glaciers melt, the discovery of Woolly Mammoth skeletons begin to reveal themselves, causing a surge for the Ivory.

Bed Bath & Beyond via Pinterest

Using Ivory in the home can be a delicate and softer replacement of white. The subtle milky tones of the Ivory create a romantic and dreamy setting; and can easily be layered upon with varying shades and tones, to create a warm and tranquil space.

The Royal family of the Netherlands, The House of Orange “are proof that personal branding isn’t new. In portrait after portrait, its members are gilding in shades of orange”. St Clair writes about the flamboyant past of the vibrant colour orange, and how it came to represent a proud nation. Dutch Orange, is a bright, vivacious shade that lends itself to some of the happiest and positive emotions. Its role in Dutch history brings about some proud and humorous details, the story of the carrot for example; “prior to the seventeenth century it was, usually purple or yellow. Over the next 100 years, however, Dutch farmers selectively bred carrots to produce orange varieties”.

Bodie & Fou Designs via Pinterest

The addition of Dutch Orange can add a sophisticated pop of colour that a contemporary setting is looking for. The painted staircase in the home above is the perfect counterpart to the thick black railings, light wood floors and clean white walls. It’s this kind of additional colour that can give a home a new lease of life, and keep it from looking flat.

Fluorescent colours burst onto the scene in the 1970s, St Clair notes that Crayola even produced a special edition set of fluorescent crayons, which including the zingy fluorescent pink. The colour is closely associated to the Punk era, having adorned Mohicans and featured on classic punk albums. It’s through this shade that pink, in a sense, found its relevance again, hitting a goldmine for the young and wild; no longer being limited to the confounds of the pale and baby pinks, fluorescent pink packed a punch. St Clair notes that fluorescent pink became so intertwined to pop culture that it even translated to the “humble highlighter pen”, with sale of the colour pink leaping well above the rest.

Freshome via Pinterest

In the distance a bold room is encompassed in fluorescent pink, but as we view it from through another room, the white borders the pink, giving a flash of life. Painting a room in a wild colour such as fluorescent pink is a brave choice, and not for the faint-hearted. But a gutsy choice like this one can do wonders for the overall scheme of your home.

“Mary carefully removed her sombre outer clothes to reveal a bright scarlet under gown… Scarlet was closely associated in the Catholic Church with martyrdom”. Here St Clair retells the story of the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots. This can be seen as just one of the reasons that the colour scarlet has a rather elusive and eventful history. Scarlet has mostly sinful, seducing or salacious connotations, which gives the colour a rather rebellious streak. Perhaps this is why a scarlet interior is considered full of drama and romance. In today’s modern world, and contemporary taste, scarlet red can be a little hard to pull off while still keep the functionality of a room intact; a room that is head-to-toe in dark red make come across a little too much like the setting of a romance novel.  An alternative option to an all red room, is accessorising in the fiery shade; these bright red chairs had a touch of drama to a modern interior, without any overkill.

Living at Home via Pinterest

Purple has always been a regal colour, for a long time the colour “still retained the imperial glamour of its ancient status”. Though its royal reputation powered alongside the colour for many years, the colour became more accessible among the rest of society towards the end of the nineteenth century. Heliotrope, a shade of purple found itself mixed into colour schemes of light green and apricot, “canary yellow, eucalyptus green, art bronze and peacock blue”. This combinations may seem a tad intense for a modern palette, but for the Victorian’s it fully played out their ‘more is more’ vibe that turned their homes into over embellished, highly adorned and decorated caves of treasures and trinkets. St Clair writes of one commentators thoughts, “no colour seemed too bright”, but “the combinations of them are sometimes starling”.

Ideal Home via Pinterest

Using purple in an interior these days, can create a feminine, welcoming feeling that will give your home a relaxed, approachable feel. Above, the purple walls are met with the perfect accents of dark brown picture frames, cushions in alternative shades of purple, and crisp blue velvets.

The story of cerulean features the world famous Pablo Picasso; the story goes that his good friend “Carlos Casagemas, a Spanish poet and artist was having drinks with friends in the smart new Parisian café l’Hippodrome… when he pulled out a gun and shot himself in the right temple”. This sad event effected Picasso so much, that he reduced his palette to only blue, “the one colour that could adequately express his grief and loss”. It’s through these series of events that we have some of Picasso’s most powerful and famous works of art.

Huffington Post via Pinterest

Just a touch of the deep, sparkling cerulean blue against this aged white door, gives a new and exciting element to a traditional setting. This stylisation of the door is the perfect way to accessorise and give some character to the feature without altering or changing too much.

Emerald has always been a wild and enigmatic colour, from Shakespearian times, when the green eyed monster was first created to the mysterious story of the Bahia Emerald. St Clair tells the event to the largest ever Emerald to be discovered in Basil, and go on to have a whirlwind of intrigue and deception.

Using a bold green like emerald in a home can make a confident and glamourous statement. The richness of the colour can either be played up or down, but just like the image below, playing up to the drama will always make for an intense and desirable look. The green is vividly contrasted against the pink, giving the whole room a contemporary and eye-catching feel.

Conde Nast Traveller via Pinterest

The Secret Lives of Colour is an exciting and inspiring book. So often people shy away from colour, especially in their homes, but this book teaches you a greater appreciation for a wide and diverse colour palette and can encourage you to bring it into your own interiors. Whether you’re in it for the bright and bold shades of oranges and purples, or you prefer the dramatic tones of blue and grey, this book gets you thinking about the endless possibilities that comes with colour; and hopefully gets you thinking about how you might put it in your home.

 

The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St Clair from John Murray Publishers

It Was All Yellow

As with all colours, there are hundreds of shades in the yellow family, and sometimes the thought of using the bolder, brighter shades can be intimidating due to their strong look. But if you’re looking for an alternative to the neutral, or darker palettes that are around these days, yellow may be the perfect colour for you, especially if you want to show off a strong, confident style in your interiors. Though the colour has always been popular in the design world, in recent years yellow interiors, furniture and accessories have been making quite an impact, especially in those brighter shades. There are lots of exciting ways to incorporate yellow into your home, that can really showcase a particular style; whether it’s contemporary, glamorous, bohemian, traditional, or a combination. Adding a dash of yellow could be the way to bring a refreshing, exciting look to your home.

Using a bright yellow on the walls of your home may be a touch overwhelming if you’re a yellow novice, but if you’re already a fan, it’s a fantastic way to create a statement. The trick is finding your perfect shade to suit your home, and choosing the right complementary accents to create a well-rounded, flawless look. To keep your wall looking fresh opt for a rich shade that won’t shy away into the background. For a contemporary look, I love the dramatic but playful nature of Farrow & Ball’s Babouche shade.

‘Babouche’ from Farrow & Ball

And if you’re in need of a more traditional shade, the Sudbury Yellow has an elegant and regal nature that will give a room a strong sense of character, without overshadowing any other wonderful features you may want to put in there.

‘Sudbury Yellow’ from Farrow & Ball

Another way to add yellow into the core foundations of the home’s design scheme is with some creative tiling. Fired Earth always have a strong collection of interesting colours and patterns, and some of their yellow tiles are to die for. For a bold, exciting look, these vibrant mustard coloured tiles are the perfect background against a crisp, white bathroom set. There’s a combination of luxuriousness and quirkiness about the colour that creates an overall refreshing look.

‘Carnival Oro’ from Fired Earth

If a solid block colour is a little too much for your taste, or your home, going for something a little sweeter and more minimal might do the trick. This Atlas design by Neisha Crosland for Fired Earth has a rustic, farmhouse vibe, but with a little exotic twist to keep things interesting. It’s an ideal design if you want to have a traditional looking kitchen, but with a touch artistic individuality to it.

‘Atlas by Neisha Crosland’ from Fired Earth

To make an interesting statement in your home, you don’t just have to save yellow for the larger features, in fact adding small accents of the colour to a room can give it some vitality, or reinvent an interior without changing too much. Contemporary interiors are often neutral walls with the inclusion of furniture pieces in modern wood types, and adding a dash of yellow into the mix can create an up-to-date look without taking away the original essence of the room. Margaret Howell created some fantastic designs for Anglepoise, and though I’d happily have any of the three colours in my home, the Yellow Ochre edition is stunning.

‘Type 75 Desk Lamp by Margret Howell in Yellow Ochre’ from Anglepoise

This chair with a yellow seat from Gubi is rather special, it’s an ultra-contemporary design that’ll look gracious and cool in a modern home. The design also comes with a white seat, so you could mix-match the two colours around the dining table, or save the yellow for the head of the table to give the whole look a pop of colour.

‘Mategot Nagasaki Chair’ from Gubi

A striking yellow rug can really transform a room in one fell swoop, to keep things feeling light and not making the room look too dense, a patterned rug is a great way to add some yellow without swamping the room. The Sellarsbrook design created by Suzanna Sharp for The Rug Company, has a sophisticated geometric pattern that adds a timeless depth to the rug.

‘Sellarsbrook in Yellow by Suzanne Sharp’ from The Rug Company

This rich, crisp yellow velvet sofa really packs a punch, that’ll give your living room some vivacious character. The chesterfield design is given an alternative look, creating a piece that can be mixed into both contemporary and traditional interiors.

‘Balmoral 2 Seater Sofa in Varese Velvet Alchemilla fabric’ from Heal’s

For a sweet touch to a traditional bedroom, these rustic, French style bedside tables in a dusty yellow could be a great way to frame a bed in a similar style. The piece from Out There Interiors has some fetching ironwork detailing, which will give a room some extra style in a simple way.

‘Two Drawer Beside in Yellow’ from Out There Interiors

These lemony plates and dishes from Habitat are a refreshing way to give your dining table an updated look, the ombre effect means that they aren’t too outlandish, and will gently show off the zesty colour. Place them on a blue tablecloth or next to some coloured glassware for a really stylish look.

‘Atkinson 12 Piece Yellow Dinnerware Set’ from Habitat

Lastly, this gorgeous glass pendant from Rockett St George is an absolute beauty! The moody yellow shade combined with the irregular shape gives the whole look an understated, glamourous feel. This pendant would be the perfect addition to a dark, moody room, giving it that hint of colour it needs to keep it from looking drab and dingy.

‘Hand Blown Glass Pendant Lighting in Yellow Ochre by Curiousa & Curiousa’ from Rockett St George

Though it can be quite a daring and brave decision to add a bold shade of yellow into your interior (and may take a little more persuading for some), it’s a decision that will result in some fabulous and sophisticated homes! Whether you’re already in love with colour, or prefer your interiors more neutral, you’ll see how diverse a colour like yellow can be and how easily it will suit all kinds of styles.

Since today is Valentine’s Day, whether you’re celebrating or not, it always gets you just thinking about romance, and if you’re an interior designer, romantic interiors. I tend to have quite a soft spot for romantic interiors, there’s just something about them that is warm and welcoming, and since there are so many ways to incorporate the theme of romance into a room, it doesn’t just have to be your typical stuff. Alternative romantic interiors can offer you a liveable style, one with underlying tones of romance, one that serenades you in a softer tone, instead of outspoken and outlandish stylings. I’ve pulled together some ideas that will enable you to get the ball rolling if you want to turn your home into a laidback, romantic dreamland.

When it comes to decorating your walls in a romantic style, as with any style theme there are different directions you can choose to take. You may want to keep your walls neutral, to make way for other eye-catching pieces in the room, but if you’re feeling the more is more vibe for your romantic interior, a wallpaper with a pattern may be the way to go. A new collection from Harlequin, Standing Ovation, has some wonderful floral and nature designs that are perfect for creating your alternative romantic interior. The painterly style of the Floreale design and its overgrown and slightly wild floral pattern that gives it a little individuality against some other floral wallpapers out there. The bold colourways and the mixture of peonies foxgloves will give your walls a lease of life.

‘Floreale wallpaper’ from Harlequin

If your room can’t quite handle a print this big, or you’re drawn to a pattern that’s more subtle, the Persico design from the same collection is a rather sweet option. The sporadic arrangement of the British birds gives the design a distinctive character that avoids repetitive nature of patterned wallpaper. This is the perfect style to choose if you want something to transition comfortably between a neutral and a pattern, it’ll look graceful on your walls and allow for other big character items in the room.

‘Persico wallpaper’ from Harlequin

There’s no piece of furniture that fits better for a romantic interior than a big, comfy loveseat, I mean it’s even in the name! Loaf have some amazing loveseats in their collection at the moment, all in different styles to suit your taste, a particular favourite of mine is the Butterbump design. Its structure is fairly traditional, with its deep buttoned back and overall style, but you can still confidently put it into a contemporary setting by choosing a modern colour to upholster it in, like this Winter Sky in a soft velvet. It’ll keep the loveseat looking fresh and allow it to complement a magnitude of accent colours.

‘Butterbump Loveseat in Winter Sky clever velvet’ from Loaf

While some people might dream of a big diamond ring on Valentine’s Day, I’d be rather satisfied with a few of these cushions from Lime Lace. The diamond print is an alternative way to add some glamour to an interior and can also be used to toughen up a feminine sofa, or bring a sense of modernity to a more traditional piece. They are also a prime example of how a romantic interior needn’t follow the bohemian or traditional guidelines and if you love a modern, contemporary interior there are all sorts of way to add a little romantic and fun to the scheme.

‘Manhattan Chase Cushions by Camine Lake’ from Lime Lace

Another charming find from Lime Lace is this rather innovative pendant light. A chandelier instinctively feels romantic, but whether you don’t have the space (or the budget) to accommodate one, or it’s not really your style there’s always an alternative option, like this fab pendant, which features a little chandelier on the inside. They will make a great addition to an interior if you’re looking for that individual boost, or fun talking point, and perfectly incorporate the old with the new. A group arranged at slightly varying heights to create a central lighting piece will look fantastic, possibly better than having an actual chandelier!

‘King Edison Chandelier Pendant by Young and Battagalia’ from Lime Lace

Hanging things from your ceiling, not only frees up some floor space, but also gives the illusion of a lofty, dreamy area with floating accessories that draw your eye to different levels in the room, creating a fuller, more bountiful interior. These birdcage plant holders from Angel & Boho are wonderful. Make it the home for a viney, flowing plant and you’ll create your own little tropical rainforest in the corner of your room as your plants become romantically overgrown and intertwined with the bars of the cage.

‘Hanging Birdcage Plant Holders’ from Angel & Boho

For some lighter, smaller touches to your room to give it a romantic atmosphere, adding some trusted home accessories will always do the trick. A romantic interior will only ever be enhanced by the addition of candles and candleholders. These ombre candle from Lime Lace in an assortment of colours will stand out against the typical white candles, they add a sense of modernity to the traditional romantic interior and can either be used to tone down or up their holders. Below they are paired with some antiqued holders, and the contrasting blend creates an interesting effect.

‘Set of 4 Dip Dyed Candles’ from Lime Lace

Using metallic materials in your interior can help to make a romantic atmosphere, light will bounce off the surfaces giving a room a warm and inviting feeling. Having an arrangement of vases and pots for flowers, real or faux, will also make for a romantic setup in your home. I really like the combination of these gold and copper vases from The Estate Yard, their coarse geometric patterns give them a modern edge, while their metallic colours lets them settle into the romantic scheme.

‘Mixture of Copper and Gold Vases’ from The Estate Yard

If you’re keen for something a little darker and moodier, these black forest vases from Abigail Ahern will bring all the romantic drama you need. Pair them with rich golds and bronzes for a glamourous, romantic effect and with a pop of green from a few plants to really finish off the look.

‘Black Forest Vases’ from Abigail Ahern

There’s something about romantic interiors, be it traditional, feminine, contemporary, bohemian or a beautiful combination, which always seems to grab my attention. A romantic interior allows you to create your very own dreamland, a place to escape the ordinary and the mundane, making it your perfect Valentine’s Day location.

Velvet Treasures

Over the past few years velvet has featured heavily in the interior design world, and we love it! A great way to give a house, room, sofa, bed or anything a new spring of life is with the addition of something velvety. What’s more there are some great ways to get creative with the material, so if you think you might have a little soft spot for velvet here are some great ways to dress up your house in the stuff!

For some, velvet can be initially a little overwhelming, by its very nature it’s quite a dramatic fabric, especially compared to a linen or cotton. But this drama can either be played up or down depending on your preference, and mixing the fabric with a variety of designs or colours means you can integrate the texture with other factors in a room scheme easily and smoothly. If you want to start off slowly, you can never go wrong with a few velvet cushions to brighten up a sofa, armchair or bed. For a little bit of subtly, opt for a neutral colour, like these mink coloured cushions from Cox & Cox, play around with the different sizes and eventually add in some more complementary colours to go with them.

‘Velvet and Linen Cushions in Mink’ from Cox & Cox

Next add in this delicious creation from Timorous Beasties via Houseology, the bee motif is an iconic Timorous Beasties design and gold contrasted against its dark velvet background offers a dramatic spin on a comfy cushion. It’ll look wonderful popping out against a crisp white sofa, or enhance a romantic atmosphere mixed in with some dark and moody colours.

‘Napoleon Bee Cushion by Timorous Beasties’ from Houseology

If you’re looking for the perfect snuggly material for the remaining winter months, and probably the-not-so-warm spring ones, a velvet throw will turn an average bed into one fit for royalty. This pin-tucked throw from Cox & Cox is gorgeous and comes in this dreamy, timeless sage colour.

‘Velvet and Linen Pin-Tucked Quilt in Sage’ from Cox & Cox

Velvet is a great fabric to add to a traditional style interior, and the glamour can help a room look a hundred times more sophisticated. This button quilted Enya chair from Graham & Green is all about old school Hollywood style, and can transform a room, giving it that lift it’s been in need of, the velvet will catch the light in a wonderful way, giving it extra vibrancy, especially against more muted tones and fabrics.

‘Enya Relaxing Chair’ from Graham & Green

Velvet doesn’t just go with traditional style rooms and furniture, in fact incorporating a modern design with velvet is a great way to balance out the fabric’s dramatic nature. This velvet dining chair has a distinct Nordic style it and the combination of the plush velvet with the modern legs gives an interesting vibe that would give your dining room an individual look.

‘Velvet Button Dining Chair in Blue’ from Out There Interiors

The same goes for these fantastic revived Mid-Century designs distributed by Rose & Grey, and made by 366 Concepts. This rocking chair design takes its inspiration from Jozef Chierowski’s original Easy Chair, with the modern edition of the rocking feature. The Mid-Century wooden frame mixed together with the velvet upholstery creates an exciting, dynamic look.

‘Jozef Chierowski 366 Rocking Chair Velvet’ from Rose & Grey

Another wonderful design from the Rose & Grey and 366 Concept is this occasional chair originally designed by Teofil Halas in 1963. The smoky grey colour gleams in the sunlight and pairs perfectly with the tones of the wood frame. It brings about a balance between low-key elegance and distinctive design can will really set your interiors apart from the rest.

‘Velvet Halas Dining Chair’ from Rose & Grey

Heals have a wonderful sofa bed in stock at the moment, which reinvents the concept of a Chesterfield sofa. The Chesterfield is a classic design that can be worked into all sorts of interior schemes, the gorgeous sofa bed offers the same style in a contemporary way, it’s available in leather but I think the velvet version is the way to go. Shown below, its styled perfectly with some vibrant yellows and some extra velvet cushions if you just can’t get enough.

’40 Winks Sofa Bed’ from Heal’s

Speaking of yellow, I think I may have fallen in love with the colour of this super footstool from Swoon Editions. The velvet looks divine in its honey mustard colour, and would make a bold statement against some more neutral, contemporary surroundings, or even add a little spice mixed into a traditional setting. If you like the idea of velvet furnishing, but aren’t ready to invest in one of the larger pieces just yet, getting something smaller like a footstool is a great way to test the velvet waters.

‘Tivoli Footstool in Honey’ from Swoon Editions

A velvet effect rug will not only look luxurious but feel it too, a real treat for your eyes and your feet! This rug from Designers Guild is utterly beautiful. The interlocking patterns create an amazing textural effect giving depth and tone to the look of the rug. It’s the ideal solution when you want a simple rug that isn’t flat in appearance.

‘Roxburgh Rug in Moleskin’ from Designers Guild

For a little Art Nouveau touch to your velvet and your interiors, this golden flamingo lamp with a royal blue velvet shade will add a pinch of over the top frippery that all rooms need a little sprinkling of from time to time.

‘Metal Flamingo Table Lamp’ from Rockett St George

From beds to sofas to floors, adding a touch of velvet to an interior will give a scheme some wholehearted dramatic flair, which will not only make your home look fabulous but feel soft, plush and beautiful!