Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Published Articles’ Category

Picture 037
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.)

Picture 171

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 

Read Full Post »

Cate was recently interviewed by Cambridge Magazine and she was asked for five top tips to creating great interiors. Here are some of her tricks of the trade.

Be bold with your style

Picture 162

Statement chairs in a contemporary home

This is advice that I give in my classes and that I always try to apply to my design work and what I mean is to know your own personal taste and be confident in it. If your interior style is say neutral, calm, quiet, shabby chic, then don’t be afraid to boldly execute this in your design work. We can sometimes get confused by thinking that there are things we must or must not do in our homes, or that there is good or bad taste in interior design, and when we deviate from our personal style, this is when blandness can set in. Trust your own taste and try to apply it to all elements of your home.

 

Accessories change everything

Picture 186

Flowers, lamps, books and pictures all help to personalise your space

 

Whether you are undertaking a full renovation project or simply freshening up your home, good accessorising makes a huge difference to the final result. Try to bear your own personal style in mind when selecting your finishing touches as it is easy to make a mistake when the purchase is not expensive, and make sure you think about what accessories you need before you shop. If in doubt, add your accessories slowly and see what looks good and the old saying of ‘only have what you know to be beautiful or useful’ is just as true with accessories as with other areas of the home.

 

 

Don’t forget your lighting

Concealed lighting adds glamour to this display

You can create a beautiful interior space but without good lighting, it will never shine. Plan your lighting with the uses of the space in mind – activities like working, reading, putting on make-up need task lighting whilst artwork, favourite spaces and beautiful pieces of furniture need feature lighting and so on. Having some contrasts with lighting will make your home seem larger and more interesting and using separate switching for different lighting types will enable you to change the feel of your home depending on whether you are entertaining, watching TV, working or even cleaning!          

 

Colour is king

Picture 476

Warm blue and cream makes a lovely space of this boot room

 

Colour is an interior designer’s best friend. A coat of paint can add character and personalise a space, create light and dark contrasts, highlight features and create a warm or cool, calm or stimulating, comforting or inspiring impression depending on what you want to achieve. Although the paint on our walls makes up a large part of the colour palette of a room, the flooring, fabrics, furnishings and accessories of a room all play their part in creating a look so consider your colour choices as a whole before selecting your paint or wallpaper colours.        

 

 

Think differently

We are bombarded in the media by images of what the modern home should look like, and we can sometimes lose our own imagination. If you go back to basics and think about how you want to use your home and what you want it to look like, you will start to create a picture of how your home can work for you. Only then will you start to select images, products and ideas from outside sources that will work for you. By using this approach you will be able to create a unique home that truly reflects your personality.

 

Picture 035

A collection of sporting trophies creates a lovely personal feel

 Let us know what you think?

Did you see the article, or do you have some design tips of your own? We’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Read Full Post »

Happy New Year to you all and we hope you had a good Christmas break.

The lovely magazine The English Home is out (February edition) and we are rather thrilled that we have a mention in the trade secrets section. Here is our piece – you will have to get the magazine to read what the other interior designers have to say!

Read Full Post »

We were thrilled to see an Angel + Blume project in the December 2011 issue of House Beautiful magazine. This attic makeover was a lovely one to work on and it’s always nice to see one of our projects in print. The magazine is out now, or alternatively click on an image below to take a closer look.

All images: House Beautiful

Read Full Post »

Once upon a time, houses had a wealth of rooms dedicated to particular activities – rooms that rarely appear in our modern homes. We look at how to integrate these useful spaces back into our homes.

(This article first featured in Agenda magazine September 2011)

Fashions for rooms come and go as our society changes and our relationship with our homes develops. The separate dining room, for example, has seen a great demise in recent years as dining tables and sometimes a TV and sofa are incorporated into a modern family kitchen. However our basic daily needs from our home often remain the same even if it is us now using the space rather than the staff!

A butler’s pantry was traditionally a room for plates, glasses and a sink and was evident in most grand historical houses. Whilst this room might seem like an extravagance these days, if you entertain often a modern version of this can be really useful and marking out a section of your kitchen to store glassware and crockery close to a sink or dishwasher is a way of reinstating this practical space. Some modern large houses have even created a 20th century version of this room by installing two kitchens; a residential kitchen for everyday meals and a catering kitchen for entertaining purposes.

A larder or cool room, the cool room or larder is another room that is making a bit of a comeback with more people requesting them in modern homes. Brilliant at freeing up space in a kitchen, an insulated cool room with shelves and a sink reduces the need for lots of cupboards in the main food preparation area and acts as a natural overflow for your fridge. When planning your home it may be worth going for a smaller kitchen that incorporates a decent sized larder.

A boot room may already be a familiar concept if you live in the country and undertake outdoor pursuits. Popular in historical country houses these rooms provide a heated space for wet boots, coats and clothes to dry out. They are usually fitted out with hooks along the walls and low level heating and someone returning home after a long day outdoors can walk straight into this room and remove their wet and muddy boots and clothes before entering the rest of the house. A great idea for any rural home, saving a space for this set-up is worth considering in a modern house.

A flower room is likely to appeal to all you gardeners out there. Traditionally set as the back of the house, near the gardens this room served as a practical room for storing vases and garden tools, with a sink and bench for arranging flowers. Although not many of us would have the space for this in our own home, if you have a utility room you could always set aside some space there with a separate sink for this purpose.

Whilst these rooms all sound appealing, when considering your own home, essentially you need to ask yourself, ‘how do I live in my house?’ and ‘what rooms do I need?’ But be warned, you might be surprised by the answers; I am now desperate to find space for a flower room!

Images: Plain English, The White Company

Read Full Post »

articles-angel-and-blume

Read all about it! We have posted four new design articles up on our website this week, so if you missed out on any of our features, don’t worry, you can read them all right here! From Missing rooms, to First impressions, click through to find out more.

 

 

Read Full Post »

This month Cate was interviewed by Period Living magazine about how to get a glamorous and luxurious bathroom. What was her advice? It’s all about functionality and the little details. Read Cate’s quote below or see the full article here

 

Everyone needs a little extravagance in their life and where better to satisfy your taste for it than in your own private bathroom?

Luxury means different things to different people and one individual’s indulgence is another’s expected level of comfort so your first step to designing a dream bathroom is to define your terms.

For interior designer Cate Burren of Angel + Blume, look and function are inseparable when it comes to bathroom design – if the room works efficiently, it will probably feel luxurious. ‘Underfloor heating and a well designed layout are absolutely essential,’ she says. ‘Even apparently small elements, like putting the heated towel rail in the correct place, within easy reach of the bath or shower, are important to get right.’ She also believes that, provided a sense of balance is maintained, traditional and contemporary style can marry quite happily, and often selects modern lighting for a period bathroom.

Images: Mark Box

Read the full article here

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »