Less is definitely more sometimes. When you have a beautiful period home with elegant proportions, high ceilings and an abundance of original features, why guild the lily? All you need is a simple pared back colour scheme, a few well chosen pieces of furniture and a smattering of home comforts.

This is home of interior designer and BBC TV presenter Gabrielle Blackman, her husband Pete, who works in advertising; and their daughters Cecelia, 10, and Beatrice, 6. It was built in 1780 and she lives with her family on the top two of the five floors while her parents live on the other three.

An Elegantly Simple Bristol Home via Homelife.com.au [0]

I love the predominantly grey and white colour scheme with flashes of teal and mustard. It’s a brave move to paint all the floorboards in the house but to lay rugs down would change the airy feeling entirely.

An Elegantly Simple Bristol Home via Homelife.com.au [1]

The kitchen most definitely looks well loved and lived in and the teal splashes carry through the colour scheme from the living room without it looking too ‘designed’.

An Elegantly Simple Bristol Home via Homelife.com.au [4]

I just want a black glass fronted cabinet like that. I may have mentioned this before.

An Elegantly Simple Bristol Home via Homelife.com.au [5]

And I love the linen sheets, unlined curtains and simple task lights.

An Elegantly Simple Bristol Home via Homelife.com.au [6]

All images via Inside Out Magazine. Photographed by Michael Paul.

Founded in 1887 Anaglypta is one of the best known and oldest wallpaper brands and synonymous with paintable textured wallpaper.  It fell out of favour for a while but you have to respect its longevity. The original archive consists of 500 patterns, representing styles from the mid 19th and early 20th century and the new collection called  ‘Book 39’ comprises an eclectic range of timeless patterns that celebrate decades of good design.

Anaglypta - EGON 1


Amongst the vast book of 94 papers there are iconic patterns such as the late 19th century ‘Egon’ and ‘Turner Tile’ together with the re-introduced 1930s design, ‘Deco Paradiso’. At a time of renewed interest for textured wall-covering this new collection manages to feel relevant to present day trends while retaining an essence of heritage and period style.

Anaglypta - TURNER TILE 1

Turner Tile

I’m kinda liking the white treatment above paired with contemporary furniture.

Anaglypta - DECO PARADISO 1

Deco Paradiso

Prices range from £8 to £50 per roll.

How do you feel about Anaglypta?

Trolley Dollies

June 30th, 2014 | Posted by deardesigner in Interior Design - (0 Comments)

Now that summer is truly here and with it the season for summer parties, what we all need of course is a drinks trolley!

They have shaken off that dated reputation and with the help of Mad Men have become sophisticated again. But they are also so practical you see. No more juggling trays of precariously balanced cocktails. No more rushing back to the kitchen for the forgotten ice and slices of lemon.  We can all swan around like Betty Draper looking as cool as cucumbers and dispensing martini’s and the odd Babycham with a cherry on a stick.

Drinks Trolley - Oliver Bonas £195

My favourite is this little gold bamboo number from Oliver Bonas. It has handy holders to stop bottles toppling over and is the height of retro cool. It’s also the cheapest of this selection at £195.

Kaymet Modern Trolley, Silver with Silver Trays via Clippings £339

The classic Kaymet Modern Trolley has been produced in Bermondsey since the 1960s.  It has a silver anodised aluminium frame, silver finished wheels and two removable silver trays. Available from Clippings for £339.

Out There Interiors - Three Tier Trolley (Teresita) £275

The Teresita from Out There Interiors is available in aubergine, black, cameo green, petrol, white and yellow and is £275.

B & D Designs - Felix Trolley £2400

But if you truly want to splurge I would go for the Felix by B & D Designs (by artist Cathy Azria). It’s taller than the average trolley with three removable trays and costs an eye watering £2,400.

We’ll all be rushing out and buying a Teasmade next.

First Direct Bank is twenty five years old this year and they have just launched a competition to find an aspiring interior designer for the bar area at the Leeds Arena. And as well as the kudos of the bar re-design there is also a couple of great prizes to be had.

So why am I telling you this?

Because they have asked me to be one of the judges.

So that is, alongside Tracy Garrad, CEO of First Direct Bank, Tony Watson the Sales & Marketing Director for the Arena and David Laycock (Head of the Leeds Retail Consortium). I feel very honoured.

Image courtesy of Emma Reddington (prop stylist) and Sian Richards (photographer) [1]

Entrants will need to submit a mood board expressing their ideas – fabrics, colours, images, text, anything. We don’t expect details of every square inch of the space but we’d like to see an overall impression of what the bar will look like. Above all it needs to convey ‘unexpected Leeds’ and the ‘unexpected bank’.

Image courtesy of Emma Reddington (prop stylist) and Sian Richards (photographer) [2]

So, if any of you lovelies feel like entering, you do have to be a resident of West Yorkshire and it’s only open to non-professionals. If you would like to know more you can find the brief , all details and a few tips from me over on the First Direct Tumblr site.

Image courtesy of Emma Reddington (prop stylist) and Sian Richards (photographer) [4]

Closing date for entries is July 9th.

Moodboard images by kind permission of Emma Reddington (prop stylist) and Sian Richards (photographer).

I’ve done quite a few bedroom renovations and I veer from freestanding to fitted wardrobes, and back again, on a regular basis. But on a practical level I have to say nothing beats a custom built, walk-in wardrobe. Even the guys get excited at the prospect!

We don’t all need a space the size of some of the glamorous closets pictured here but a well designed space will have many benefits as well as making us very happy.

1. It frees up space in the bedroom to make a clutter free, relaxing room for sleeping only and recharging the batteries. There’s nothing quite as calming as tidy room.

The ultimate walk-ins via Elle Decor [1]

2. It makes getting dressed in the morning a quicker and more efficient process. No hunting round for the matching handbag or the right accessory.

The ultimate walk-ins via Elle Decor [2]

3. It means you will wear more of your wardrobe on a regular basis because you can see exactly what you have. How often have you found something at the bottom of the wardrobe you had completely forgotten about?

The ultimate walk-ins via Elle Decor [3]

4. Everything out on show is a good incentive to keep your items tidy and in good condition. You are more likely to get things cleaned and buttons replaced if there is a constant reminder that they need doing.

The ultimate walk-ins via Elle Decor [4]

5. A custom built wardrobe will maximise the space you have and with good planning will accommodate all of your possessions from most frequently used, (easily accessible) to out of season clothes and less used items on the top shelves.

Contemporary fitted wardrobes in London including luxury walk-ins, available from Urban Wardrobes.

All images from Elle Decor

Fans of Cabbages & Roses charming, quintessentially English furnishing fabrics will be very pleased to hear that they will now be available from eight John Lewis stores.

There will be 12 prints available, including the original and iconic Hadley Rose print, totaling 28 colorway options. All in 100% natural linen fabrics. Participating stores include Oxford Street, Peter Jones, Kingston, Cribbs Causeway, Bluewater, Cambridge, Edinburgh and High Wycombe.

cabbages and roses fabrics now availible at john lewis stores [1]

Constance Blue, £65 per metre.

cabbages and roses fabrics now availible at john lewis stores [2]

Constance Raspberry, £65 per metre.

cabbages and roses fabrics now availible at john lewis stores [3]

Hatley Rose, £48 per metre.

cabbages and roses fabrics now availible at john lewis stores [4]

Fans might also be interested to hear that founder, Christina Strutt’s country home Brooks Cottage, will be making an appearance in the August issue of Heart Home magazine.

Out on 7th August and available now on the iPad App.

You may remember that back in March I accepted a blogger challenge from online garden retailer Plant Me Now to create a beautiful outside oasis from a small unloved urban space. You can see the before pictures here

Not the most inspiring space you will agree but I was eager to see if I could, for once, get things to grow and flourish.

#urban revival - Bloggers Challenge - Dear Designers Blog

So, I have been nurturing the chosen plants since April and it has been surprisingly pain-free and rewarding.  I chose some modern metal trellis for the climbing plants, some colourful pots, a small balcony table and rescued the chairs from the back of the garage. Along with a few bits that are now hanging on the wall.

#urban revival - Bloggers Challenge - Dear Designers Blog [4]

It’s turned out even better than I dreamed. I now have a sunny spot to sit amongst lush foliage and a bounty of white blooms. The climbers are off and hopefully by next year they will be covering much of that expansive brick wall. I actually got some jasmine too in the end and it smells divine.

#urban revival - Bloggers Challenge - Dear Designers Blog [2]

#urban revival - Bloggers Challenge - Dear Designers Blog [3]

The next step is to plant some spring bulbs and winter bedding plants in September to keep the garden going all year round.

If there is one thing I miss about my previous house it’s the conservatory. It was the one major addition we made in all the time we were there and it was without a doubt, the best decision ever made.

Dear Designer's Conservatory photographed by Andrew Boyd for Heart Home magazine

My conservatory photographed by Andrew Boyd for Heart Home magazine.

It wasn’t huge but it had enough room for a small table and a couple of chairs and a separate seating corner with armchairs. It really was the most used room in the house. A radiator and roof blinds made it comfortable in both winter and summer and we were able to enjoy the garden come rain or shine.

A place to entertain via House to Home

A place to entertain.

And there is something about sitting amongst plants that is very relaxing. Often I would sit there with a book and not read a word. I’d be too busy watching the birds in the tree outside the window or the squirrels chasing one another, or on occasion a fox investigating the shrubbery completely unaware that he was being observed.

Country style via House to Home

Country style.

It was also the room that most visitors gravitated to. Drinks in hand, watching the last of the dying rays or the rain lashing against the windows or the rare snowfall that enveloped the room in a silent cocoon.


Boho style.

So, it may be the first major addition in the new house too. We had our old one made but there are many companies now offering a full service in conservatories no matter what style you are opting for. I love the look of a traditional Edwardian sunroom on the right house, but a contemporary style will be more in keeping with the new house. So we shall see. But there are things that I know it will have…

Deep window sills and a comfy chair via House to Home

Deep window sills and a comfy chair.

  • A tiled floor is not only practical for all of those water spills when watering the plants and for muddy boots coming in from the garden, but patterned tiles can look absolutely stunning too.
  • Deep window sills and lots of ledges and shelves for plants. They always thrive in the sunny conditions and make the room distinctive from all of the other rooms in the house.
  • Soft ambient light. For obvious reasons ceiling lights are out of the question but a few well place spots can make all the difference to the mood at night. There’s no reason either, why you can’t put table or floor lamps here too and of course, candlelight is the most atmospheric light of all.
  • A deep squishy armchair for all of that lazing around and relaxing that I will be doing.
  • A corner for potting and planting for when I have those periodic bursts of restlessness.

A place to pot and potter via House to Home

A place to pot and potter.

So that’s it then. A pergola and now a conservatory. The wishlist is growing!

Images 2 – 6 via House to Home.

Lovers of the trend for industrial design in interiors will love the new collection from Galerie Wallcoverings. It’s called Steampunk and it takes its inspiration from the mechanics of the industrial revolution.

Steampunk Collection from Galerie Wallcoverings [1]

Available in a palette of metallic copper and gold tones alongside bold flashes of black and burnt orange, vintage maps, typography and steam-powered machinery motifs make an eye-catching statement, with each clever design depicting a theme that echoes the popularity of the industrial age. For a more subtle interpretation of the trend, I would recommend creating a feature wall using the textured metal or brick effect designs (not shown).

Steampunk Collection from Galerie Wallcoverings [2]

Steampunk Collection from Galerie Wallcoverings [3]

Steampunk Collection from Galerie Wallcoverings [4]

Priced at £37.95 for flat ink wallpapers. £39.95 for raised ink wallpapers. (Roll Dimensions: 10m x 53cm)
Murals and wall panels also available: Priced from £11.95 – £270.95 


Curtains seem to have fallen out of favour a bit lately which is such a shame because there really is nothing quite like the look of beautiful linen curtains in your home. They have the effect of framing handsome windows, provide privacy and there is nothing better than shutting out the world and creating a warm and cosy home.

A Michael Smith-designed bedroom in the Hollywood Hills, photographed by Henry Bourne, via Style Court

Image: A Michael Smith designed bedroom, photographed by Henry Bourne

I think it probably is a little bit to do with fashion but also it’s the decline of homemaking skills that is to blame. My mother used to whip out the sewing machine when new curtains were needed but now we are all so busy that it’s beyond our imagination to even think about the technicalities involved. Much easier to pop out and buy a blind.

So what exactly do we need to consider?

via for the love of a house blog

Image: via For the Love of a House blog

Pole or track?

There is a wide array of curtain types to choose from, and they fall into the two basic categories depending on how they are hung; either by a ‘pole’ or by a ‘track’.  Pole curtains offer more choice in terms of décor, because the pole has the effect of acting as a design feature itself. However, if a room is south facing, track curtains have an advantage because they can block out more sunlight and prevent awkward sun glare throughout the room.  Pole curtains are hung either from tabs, or large eyelets which are both sewn into the fabric. Alternatively, pole curtains can also be hung from sturdy ring fittings.

Track curtains feature a tape made from fabric which is sewn into the head of the curtains.  This tape has thick threads weaved into it so that it holds the hooks which are either attached to the curtains or are part of their track system.  Pole-hung curtains can also be attached from hooks in a tape, only in this instance they hook into the rings that slide along the pole.

via Houzz

Image: via Houzz

Colour scheme?

Before making any decisions regarding décor, it’s important to stand back and take a look at the room as a whole, then ask yourself whether you want to match other colours in the room or create a contrast. Do you want to add pattern or not? Bed linen, cushions and the flooring all need to be considered so it is usually a good idea to create a moodboard to help in the decision making. Alternatively a specialist wholesale curtain supplier with a range of designswill be able to suggest readymade colour palettes to you, thereby letting you mix and match with the confidence of knowing that certain combinations work better than others.

How to measure?

 When preparing your designs, be sure to take all measurements twice by using a metal tape.  Get a friend to help, always a good idea.  If tracks or poles are to be fitted, make sure you do this first and guarantee that they are 15cm above the window and extend 15cm at both ends.

via Rients

Image: via Rients

Floor length curtains should end 1.25cm above the floor to allow the curtains to move freely and protect their bottom edge.  For curtains hanging beyond the sill, it’s wise to measure 15cm below the sill so that the curtains can work most effectively.  To find the curtain length, measure from the top of the tracks; or for poles measure from the top of the rings.  For the width, measure the track or the pole (not the window): end-to-end for tracks and between decorative ends for the pole.  Then note this measurement, but for eyelet curtains multiply it by 2.  For tab top multiply by 1.5.  For pencil pleat (most commonly used for tracks) you can use the measurement as it is.  Then for each add 2.5cm to create the overlap at the centre of the curtains.

To purchase a range of beautiful curtain sets, visit Mitrelinen.com where you can choose from a wide selection of linen products.

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