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I thought this article might be appropriate for New Year’s Eve or for anyone contemplating Dry January. Happy New Year everyone!

 

Cate Burren of Angel and Blume Interior Design considers the art of the bar cart

I’ve recently been trying to cut back on my alcohol intake (not for any particular reason than the obvious ones, and it’s not going too badly thank you) and as with cutting back on anything, it does make you slightly obsessed with what you are trying to avoid. What I have particularly noticed is just how many references there are to our supposed love of a tipple in our modern world. Greetings cards seem to be particular offenders – it feels that every other card in the shop has a humorous, or otherwise, reference to celebrating almost any occasion with an elegant aperitif, or by getting completely hammered, depending on what section of the shop you find yourself in. Our interiors are not immune either. There is a sea of opportunity available to pronounce yourself a fan of an alcoholic beverage. I was recently in a largish department store where I saw, all in close vicinity, a money box with ‘Mummy’s Prosecco Fund’ written on the side, a cushion proclaiming ‘Champagne is the Answer’ and a framed poster which somewhat aggressively instructed its audience to ‘DRINK MORE GIN’.

Drinks trolley from Graham and Green

I am certainly not going to make a (mildly) reformed person’s judgement on the content of these declarations but it does strike me as odd that we don’t celebrate other forms of high living with quite such gusto. You don’t often see a fridge magnet for example that says ‘It’s Steak O’Clock!’ or a birthday card saying ‘Lobster Thermidor Makes Everything Better’.

Given our great love of a little drinky, we do seem to be surprisingly coy about how we house our habit. Wine racks and wine fridges are much more present in our houses than they used to be but other drinks are often still relegated to the back of a cupboard. I grant you that few of us want a Del Boy style bar in the corner of our living room but there can be something very glamourous about a selection of drinks, glasses and accessories that are well-displayed and ready for use.

I think drinks trolleys (or bar carts as the Americans call them) can be very good edition to a sitting room or other interior space as they make such a heartening display. Although they have wheels, they are not designed to be pushed round the room like you are serving on an intercity train although a quick trip to the dishwasher at the end of the evening (or the following morning if we are being honest) is quite handy. They are often rather marvellous pieces of furniture in themselves and look great when fully loaded up and ready to serve.

Cocktail cabinets are more discreet and can look very innocent from the outside. What you find inside can be anything from utilitarian to utterly fabulous. They often feature a rack for hanging glasses, mirrored back or sides, slots for your accessories and sometimes more – mini fridges, a pull-out serving ledge, lighting etc. David Linley, the master furniture maker has a ‘Techtonic Bar’ which is a piece of art as much as it is a piece of furniture and incorporates secret compartments (for your bootleg liquor) revolving columns and a cigar humidor. Its utterly beautiful and should be at a price tag of £130,000.

Gin glasses from Graham and Green

There are also some fantastic antique cocktail cabinets to be had and many of them have a least a whiff of lost days of high living. Unsurprisingly many of the really good ones have an Art Deco flavour about them and look great when either discreetly closed or party ready. I could be wrong about this but I personally think that no good can come from having a world globe that opens into a drinks cabinet but perhaps I am no fun.

Whatever style you prefer at home, it is hard to argue against a large, smart tray that quietly does the job of a drinks trolley or cabinet. This is not to serve the drinks but to keep all your beverage paraphernalia in order. A lovely tray, well curated, on top of a sideboard or occasional table works both functionally and aesthetically and is certainly a good place to start if you are initially dipping your toes into the home bar arena.

Whether you opt for a bespoke piece of furniture or a humble tray, the contents are key. Good glasses, an ice bucket, your desired bottles and mixers, condiments (citrus fruit, olives, tabasco sauce, cherries if you must) and other essential tools – ice tongs, cocktail shaker, cocktails sticks, swizzle sticks (come on, you know you want to) – can all play a part and there is lots of style choices available from grown up glamour right through to party lover.

I think it is important, both in terms of the look of your house but also for your own sanity to remember that you are not actually a bar, neither boutique hotel nor local boozer – you do not need to have every spirit, mixer, soft drink in the world to offer your guests. I think serving a drink or two that is appropriate for the time of year and day, that goes with the food you are going to serve, plus a quality non-alcoholic alternative or two, is perfect. Having a wide selection of dusty bottles, some with questionable sell-by dates, is a bit grim. After all, you select a meal for your guests rather than offering them a menu of choices (I hope) so why would you not do the same with the pre-dinner, and indeed during and post dinner, drinks.

And whilst we are talking about planning your drinking, quantity is as important as quality – sending your guests home plastered is not doing them, or you, any favours. Of course you want to have a great time and be a marvellous host/hostess but part of that is keeping an eye on the intake – serving four large G&Ts before feeding anyone will end badly. In addition, taking as much care over your Mocktails as you do over your Moscow Mules will encourage enjoyment over drunkenness. Lots of people don’t drink alcohol at all, or are restrained, and non-alcoholic drinks really can be delicious but it does take both effort and imagination.

So on that note, and before my best laid plans to drink less and behave better are too challenged, I would like to say it isn’t hard to glam up your drinks stash, so have fun, let your hair down and here’s to all our good health.

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Panelling is a wonderful and practical way to add character to a room and can transform a plain wall into a beautiful backdrop for your furnishings.

Some homes have the great advantage of still having their original panelling but if you haven’t inherited any with the house, there is no reason that it can’t be added. If you choose the right style of panelling for your home and get the colour and the execution right, it will look as if it has always been there.

Sawston Hall, Angel + Blume

The wonderful wooden panelling at Sawston Hall would have originally been installed to help insulate rooms from the cold stone walls. It also adds a lovely depth of colour to the rooms.

Farrow and Ball, panelled room

Painted panelling makes a room lighter which can be easier to live with. It also offers endless colour options so you aren’t restricted by a backdrop of wood. This lovely room is painted in Farrow and Ball French Grey and the colour has been applied to the walls, cornicing, skirting boards, door and door frame – everywhere other than floor and ceiling – which creates a calm, unified look.

Secrets of a Stylish Home, by Cate Burren

This beautiful hallway in a Victorian country house was given some detail with simple panelling framing the wall areas below the picture rails, which were painted in with the colour of the walls.

Secrets of a Stylish Home, by Cate Burren

Bathrooms can benefit hugely from panelling and is especially useful when incorporating a roll top bath as a simple ledge can be created on the top of the panelling for your soap dish, shampoo and cup of tea.

The Painted Wall PanellingCompany

The style that you choose for your panelling is really important and will alter the feeling of the room. This lovely panelling from the Painted Wall Panelling Company has a distinct Arts and Crafts feel to it and creates a wonderful ledge to display accessories.

Farrow and Ball panelling colours

Farrow and Ball panelling colours

You can make a really bold statement if you choose contrasting colours above and below your panelling. Your eye is naturally drawn to where the colour changes so the height of your panelling needs to be considered carefully. If you choose a dark colour for your panelling, make sure your skirting boards are in the same colour as the panelling or you will end up with a white stripe at the base of your panels.

The English Panelling Company

It is fine to panel around your windows if they fall below the height of the panelling that you choose. This delightful bathroom makes a feature out of a pretty window by painting it the same colour as the panelling. Panelling by The English Panelling Company.

The Wall Panelling Company

Finally artwork looks great on panelling and if your pictures are larger than the panels , it can still work to hang them across the panels. These pictures work really well against the panelling as they have been centred across the panels. Panelling by The Wall Panelling Company.

All the rooms featured here have a traditional feel. However, panelling can look just as wonderful in contemporary settings – we will be bringing you a feature on this soon, watch this space!

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We have just launched our lovely new website designed and created for us by Catfish Web Design and we are thrilled with it. There are lots of new projects and we have also added an address book section giving you details of just some of the suppliers that we love to work with. We will be adding more to this section as we go along so keep your eye on it! You can access the address book directly by going to www.angelandblumeaddressbook.com – bookmark the page now!

website

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It’s easy to feel a bit nervous about using wallpaper with all the pattern, colour and occasional bit of texture that it brings, but I think that wallpaper is a wonderful decorating tool and following a few key principles will help to achieve just the look that you are after.

As with any scheme, it is important to find your own style and stick to it, and this very definitely applies to your wallpaper selection. From traditional to modern, and all the styles in between, there is a wallpaper for you, so keep looking until you find a design that works for you.

St Judes Spey Stripe

Angie Lewin’s wonderful wallpaper with a hand drawn feel in beautiful knocked back colour tones www.stjudes.co.uk

Osborne and Little Tessella

By contrast, if you like a wallpaper to make more of a statement, Osborne and Little’s Tessella could be for you. www.osborneandlittle.com

If you are using a wallpaper, don’t be afraid to hang your pictures – the pattern will still provide a good backdrop to your artwork. This classic country trellis pattern wallpaper creates a lovely background to the pictures – and the impromptu cocktail bar!

Fired Earth Walled Garden Broughton

Fired Earth Walled Garden Broughton  www.firedearth.com

Look at the paint colours for your ceiling and woodwork carefully as generally you want them to blend with the colour tones in the wallpaper. If your ceilings are low or sloping, think about wallpapering them – be brave, it will look great!

Kate Forman

The low sloping ceiling of this room is disguised by wallpapering it in with the walls. Beautiful Blue Roses wallpaper by Kate Forman www.kateforman.co.uk 

 

I generally think that if your wallpaper is patterned (rather than a textured plain paper) that a plain curtain works better. However, there is the odd occasion that using a matching curtain and wallpaper can look stunning.

Lewis and Wood Venetian Damask

This very classic damask pattern wallpaper from Lewis and Wood looks wonderful with matching curtains. Lewis and Wood Venetian Damask http://www.lewisandwood.co.uk

Wallpaper is a great way to add personality and fun to your children’s rooms and there are some great new patterns on the market for you (and your little princes and princesses) to choose from.

Rockett St George Gymkhana

Gymkhana wallpaper from Rockett St George www.rocketstgeorge.co.uk

Pierre Frey Les Bidules

Les Bidules wallpaper from Pierre Frey www.pierrefrey.com

Happy decorating!

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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!

 

 

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The delightful Alice Ryan from Cambridge Magazine paid a visit recently for what seemed to me to be a chat and a cup of tea, so I was highly impressed when she said she had enough information for the article she was planning about my home above the Angel and Blume office. The magazine is now out and I have to say that she has got the measure of me – albeit the better side of me – so thank you Alice, it was lovely to meet you!

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Clare Nolan’s brilliant book ‘Making a House Your Home’ is one of my favourite interior design books to use and recommend. I think that good interior design advice should stand up to scrutiny, which often means explaining why a recommendation is being made, and this book is not afraid to do just that. It is clearly written from the heart, with knowledge and experience being freely imparted, and is also packed with lovely pictures. I keep coming back to this book, and I always find something new and interesting in its pages.

making-a-house-your-home

page 31 page 58 page 73  page 253

 

Clare Nolan 3 clare nolan 4 clare Nolan 5 Clare Nolan 1

clare Nolan 2

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