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Posts Tagged ‘traditional’

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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 

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According to the Pet Food Manufacturing Association (PFMA), 24% of households own a dog and 17% own cats, that’s eight and half million dogs and over seven million cats! With this many furry friends running around there’s bound to be a few households that have a constant battle between keeping the place looking nice whilst keeping it comfortable for a pet, there is always a slight conflict if you love your home as much as your faithful companion, nothing is more troubling then the sight of a newly upholstered sofa covered in fluff, mud and scratches!

Maintaining a beautiful home and having a pet seems like an unlikely combination but nowadays there are some absolutely fantastic and surprisingly stylish pet accessories and furniture that will completely kit out your home and take it from shabby to chic! Whatever your style, be it traditional or contemporary there are some wonderful products that you’ll want to buy even if you don’t have a little terror running around.

Edison Orange Harris Tweed Dog Bed from Love My Dog

Love My Dog is a fantastic company full of adorable ways to spoil your dog rotten, I absolutely love this Harris Tweed dog bed especially in this vibrant orange, but there are plenty of other colours if you’re looking for something to complement the rest of your home. This dog bed would look perfect placed in the corner of a kitchen and is the ideal style to go with a traditional looking interior.

Igloo Dog Bed in Grey from Mungo and Maud

For something a bit more contemporary and versatile this igloo style bed from Mungo and Maud is just right, it’s relaxed design means it’ll work anywhere and with any style and it’s a great little cosy spot for a small pooch!

If you get the impression that your feline companion is a bit of a fashionista the place you need to head to is Style Tails, a fantastic company with products for both cats and dogs. They stock some amazing contemporary designs that will make the perfect hangout for a cool cat.

Geobed Cat Cave by Catissa from Style Tails

This geometric cat basket is a design marvel, its stylish nature means that instead of a cat basket being a nuance and taking up space it can actually become a rather interesting feature of the house, it also comes in white and a natural wood too to suit a whole range of interiors.

If you want something to go above ground-level this fancy basket will look great in any location of the house and will allow your cat to watch over you from their stylish boudoir.

Anello Cat Basket by Mia Cara from Style Tails

Pet accessories aren’t all about their beds, there are some lovely bowls around that might just make their food look a little more appetising! This lovely ceramic set of bowls from The Stylish Dog Company are stunning, they come in various colours and a few spotted designs. Plus they are specially designed for spaniels and other floppy eared dogs to avoid an ears in the food fiasco.

British Blue Spaniel Bowl from The Stylish Dog Company

For a modern design, these bowls in a wooden structure from Mungo and Maud are brilliant, they’re perfect minimalist chic and will help avoid that awful sound of a metal bowl being scrapped around the floor as the dog tries to get every last bit of their dinner!

Double Wooden Dog Bowl from Mungo and Maud

If you want to keep your dog’s food safely hidden away, so that you don’t have to see garish packaging and so the dog can’t weasel its way into it, keep it in a stylish container like this one from Mungo and Maud, it’ll look good especially if your short on space and need to keep your dog’s food in the kitchen.

Dog Food Storage Container from Mungo and Maud

If you want to spoil your pet and maintain a beautiful home in the process there is a whole market out there for keeping your pet (and your home) stylish. With so many styles and ranges to choose from you’ll be wanting to update your dog’s style as much as your own!

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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 were rather thrilled when a very beautiful press release arrived from Fired Earth announcing their new collection of ten paint colours and two wallpapers in four colours inspired by the British country house. In the name of research, I went straight round to the lovely Cambridge showroom and got my hands on some samples and they are indeed gorgeous. The press release says that the paints and wallpapers are reminiscent of ‘classic country interiors, lazy bygone days and summer cocktail parties’, which is a quite a promise but I have to say, they do give more than a nod to these sentiments, especially when shown off in the charming settings shown in their images. If your style errs towards the traditional British, I think you are may be in for a bit of Easter weekend decorating. I am already wondering where to put a bit of Margaret Rose paint here at Chateau Burren.

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