After almost 4 months of zero progress in my own home I was starting to get itchy feet and felt the need to tackle a new diy project with fairly minimal time and skills involved, BUT, me being the complete lunatic I am, somehow managed to do the complete opposite and go full throttle with this next room makeover... always and forever a glutton for punishment!
So, in my moment of madness, I decided to turn my dining room into a living room. There where a few reasons for this, but mainly this room is at the front of the house with a large window and so lots of light. my current living room is at the back of the house and is long and narrow with only one window that spends most of the day in shade... I was sick of living in a cave. I crave sunlight as much as oxygen and champagne, I most probably have some sort of undiagnosed SAD disorder resulting in me generally feeling sluggish and unproductive in dark spaces. Recently, with a new baby in the building, I spend lots of my time working from home with my children running wild around me and Peppa Piggin Pig blasting out of the tv, not ideal for a creative brain that needs some peace and quiet to get some serious shiz done. So with that in mind, my plan was to create a calming, serene, grown up space where I could still, when needed, have the baby in with me whilst working on the sofa but strictly a no brat, no toy, no tv zone
The Before Before...
I wanted to talk you through the history of this room as the end result is so astoundingly different that it needs to be seen to be believed! This room was actually the first room I tackled when we moved in just over a year ago. As you can see from the photos below, the previous owner hadn't really given the room any love since the early 90s except for putting down a soul sucking brown carpet. The fireplace was the main focal point in the room with a dashing period incorrect mahogany surround and floral tiles. It also, like every other room in the house, has a picture rail AND dado rail, cutting the height of the room in half and half again. Other features included built in shelves and cabinets in the alcoves and a semi bay window of sorts. With all those things considered this room still had a really nice vibe so I decided to work with it.
I started by ripping up the carpet, getting rid of the curtains, stripping the wallpaper before proceeding to removing the dado and picture rails...all going so well but then... disaster... the walls fell down. Literally crumbled to dust before my eyes. It was a mess, a dusty nightmare of one. I tried to patch things up myself by spending my life savings on Polyfilla but to no avail so the plasterers had to get a call and come to help me sort out this almighty mess. To be honest this was a blessing in disguise, fresh plaster bring me so much joy and the new silky smooth walls open the room up no end.
So now with a blank canvas and christmas approaching fast I needed to get to work so we could get a dining table in situ and ready to host for 10 people for dinner on boxing day. I found the most incredible 1970s travertine and brass dining table and chairs from Ebay for a couple of hundred pounds. It was oringnally purchased at harrods in 1972 by the owner who told me that she had raised a family of five around this table, every family meal, babies being washed in tubs, homework being completed and parties being had... I felt completely privaliaged to give this sentimental piece a new home and she was so happy to hear that this table was going to another family of five.
Now with the showpiece table in, I went IN with a paintbrush and painted everything in sight... nothing was safe from me and my paintbrush. For the walls I selected Shaded White by Farrow and Ball and the alcove cupboards, fireplace and windows painted in Drop Cloth also by Farrow and Ball. I adore this combination, they compliment each other so beautifully and have a knack of making things look luxurious and timeless, the perfect backdrop for most pieces. For the floorboards I mixed the remaining Drop Cloth paint with a white floor paint to create a really beautiful off white that toned with the walls and woodwork but contrasted enough to lift the room.
After painting I reupholstered the dining chairs and moved the table into place. Dressed the shelves with a mixture of new and old accessories, installed the new brass chandelier and voila... we had a pretty darn beautiful dining room. See below for photos
Thank You, Next...
So a rambuncious christmas in the new dining room came and went and we started off with good New Years intentions of having dinner as a family round this table every night, but who where we kidding? My mini dictators aka my kids love to eat dinner whilst watching tv or on Ipads or both simultaneously if they can get away with it... terrible parenting, I know but this is our reality and it meant theat the dining room wasnt getting the use is should have. It quickly became a bit of a dumping ground for school bags and prams which I felt was such a waste.
Also as we moved toward spring, the bush outside the window started to sprout fresh green leaves and inturn casted a really green hue into the room. The walls started to look sludgy, almost a khaki shade which was just not doing it for me. The floorboards where drafty and impractical and would chip or mark with the dining chairs being moved, we needed flooring down pronto but with the big plan to knock down walls on the ground floor, I didnt want to commit to spending big money installing hardwood flooring just incase plans changed.
With all this in mind, I started to then pull together ideas on how I could make this room reach its full potential. Looking at the positives, it has good proportions, lots of natural light, a strong focal point being the fireplace (which actually didn't look too shabby after painting). As you may already know, my signature style as a designer always sways to the side of neutral and paired back but I do love to bring in some more luxury finishes and conceptual pieces where possible. The room needed to have enough seating for 4, a coffee table and flooring with a rug, plus a show stopping central piece such as a chandelier. Below are some images I have saved as inspiration.
Laying the Foundations...
I then got to work on the new design by going straight in with my first ever attempt at laying laminate flooring. I went to my local BnQ with a sample of a hardwood oak that I have loved and used before in clients homes with an idea to match that as close as I could with a laminate option. I decided to use an inexpensive faux gladstone oak that they stocked, it was a steal at just £12 a square metre. You can see the full story on my instagram highlights. It was supprisly easy and fast to do and would recommend to anyone to give it a go. The final result was really beautiful and highly realistic. The room instantly felt warmer and more 'done' than the previous painted floorboards.
For the walls I knew I wanted to create some texture and interest without having to outlay huge money on wallpaper or panelling. So I decided to attempt my 2nd DIY task of added very subtle panelling on the two blank walls using a lowkey 1.5cm ogee moulding from Wickes. I cleaned the walls and marked out where I wanted my panel to go, cut the strips to size using a metre box and saw with 45 degree angles on the corners. I then attached to the walls using no nails and a few panel pins whilst it was drying. Once dry I removed the panels pins and filled the gaps with decorators caulk. You can see the full story on my instagram highlights also.
Next on the list was to prep and paint all woodwork such as the shelving, fireplace and windows. After everything was primed I then painted all with an off the shelf paint from Wickes in shade Ivory. Most areas only took two coats but the alcove shelf took 5 to get a really good finish - labor intensive and boring as hell but they instantly looks so much better, i couldnt wait to start accessorising.
Back to the walls... now this was something I was really looking forward to doing. For over a year now Ive been wanted to try the coolest new wall treatment in town. Bauwerk Colour specialising in lime paints and have the most incredibly extensive range of colour know to man, they are super passionate about their product and their instagram is so inspiring. After years of living in Ibiza where pretty much every surface has some sort of micro cement look and I have coveted this for my own home ever since. To have real micro cement you are looking at things reaching high in the price per metre bracket. It looked like Bauwerk could be the answer to my prayers. I decided to get into touch with the brand to find out more and to my surprise they were really interested in being part of this makeover and kindly offered to gift the paint to me so I could have a go myself. So with that I ordered some of their gorgeous colour cards. These were really clever as they give a good idea of the chalky texture and level of colour you can achieve.
Wanting something fresh but warm I decided to go for shade 'Raw White'. It was the perfect choice for this room as the warm undertone balanced out the green tinted light that reflecting off the trees ouside the window. They also sent me a brush to apply the colour with, I got the largest one as suggested by Bauwerk.
To prep the walls I gave them a wipe over with sugar soap and filled any holes and cracks with a water based filler. After thoroughly mixing the lime paint and decanting into a large bucket, I then started to apply the colour to the walls. The paint is of a watery consistency but the brush holds the paint until you get it on the walls, so surprisingly not much in the way drippage or splashes. The technique for applying the lime-wash is to go in horizontal criss cross motion and really stretch the paint acrosss the surface until you end up with a dry brush. Starting in the corners and edges and push the paint toward the centre, working across as you go along. The trick is to actually relax and have fun when applying this. A little goes a long way and this is supposed to be totally buildable and patchable. The more texture the better so don’t be scared. As the paint goes on it is very translucent but as it starts to dry the colour becomes more of a chalky opaque level... it also dry really fast so you can crack on with the next coat in around 45min. Just remember to keep stirring the paint in the bucket. I even stirred each time before dipping the brush back in. If you dont you can see the lime settling to the bottom and the water sitting on top. On to the second coat, repeat the process as before, crosshatching the paint and pulling the lime across and side to side. Watching this dry is actually really fun , it transforms before you eyes and its so exciting to see the texture appearing. In total the room took 4 coats of lime-wash, this may sound like alot of work but becaue the paint is of watery consistancy its much lighter and quicker to apply than a thick paint, its fun and haphazard which works brilliantly for someone like myself that likes quick results. I’ll admit, I was apprehensive before I started but once you get going its like spreading butter on toast!
The end result is just so stunning, delicate and tactile with a real feeling of heritage. It looks so much brighter and healthier in here without feeling blank or uninspiring. The walls transform and bounce light throughout the day. From subtle and bleached in bright light to mesmerizing and atmospheric at nighttime. Bauwerk Colour is my new favourite product on the market in many years and I urge you to have a go, you wont regret it.
The Big Cover Up...
Finally the room was ready to dress, my favourite part! I always start with the largest pieces to go in when sourcing as usually these command the biggest part of the budget. In this case it was the sofa. I have 2 of the Ikea Soderhamn 3 seater sofas, I wanted to keep one set in my current living room and bring the other in here. I LOVE this sofa, its so deep and comfortable and versatile but unfortunately the sofa had seen better days. With 3 children to contend with it does get rather grubby rather quickly. I also wanted the sofa to feel a little more luxurious and softer rather than scandi-chic. I went on the search of an upholsterer and some fabric but things were getting frightfully expensive and just not worth the outlay for an Ikea piece that perhaps might be changed in a few years. Instead I then typed into google ‘Ikea sofa covers' and whoaaaa, there were so many amazing companies and options out there. Some had lots of fabric options, some were more limited but I went ahead and ordered samples from all of them finally settling on a completely gorgrous and completely durable velvet called 'Palermo French Vanilla’ from a company called Cover Couch. They were super helpful and advised me on which option to go for, made sure all the sizes were correct and even provde 2 extra cushion covers for me. The delivery took around 2 weeks as everything is custom made and once arrived I couldn't wait to get the old covers off and these beauties on. They didnt disappoint. The fabric quality was really gorgeous, super soft and lustrous without being too shiny and glitzy. The stitching and seams impeccable and everything fitted like a glove!
Dowsing and Reynolds, You Make My Heart Skip a Beat...
Rug and sofa now in I could then finally install my dream of a light fixture. This is one of the most heart stoppingly beautiful objects I have in my home and I am so very gratefully to Dowsing and Reynolds for gifting this to me. It is the 'frosted bubble chandelier' and I chose the 24 ball option. The chandelier is expertly pieced together in the UK with all the components being of the highest quality. I love the play on textures and finishes combined in this piece. The brushed silver ceiling rose next to the jet black fabric cords and the softness and femininity of the frosted orbs. The cables come at a length of around 100cm so I had my electrician shorted them to just above head height, but equally this could work hanging low above a dining table or at full height above a staircase for added drama. The glow from the light is beautifully soft and dreamlike.
Like with most things in life, interior design is all about the balance. With all the other elements going on in the room, I wanted to incorporate some classically simple pieces of design in order to keep the feeling of light and spaciousness but also to bring in some more graphic lines and shapes to add interest without becoming overwhelming, soothe the space and to add much needed surfaces for styling and bolder accessories to work against. Danetti came to the rescue here. They are a constant source of the greatest 'base' products for many of my interiors clients. For this room I chose the ‘Pebble White Gloss’ side tables, these come as a set of two and are SO versatile. The smaller one fits inside the larger so can easily be stored or pushed to the side if you need more space, for me this is super handy as I like to be able to switch things up depending on how we are using the room. When it’s just us and the children I have been using them as they are and then for more formal occasions when client visit I have added two large marble slabs to turn them into an undulating coffee table set up- it works great and looks like a million bucks- I wonder if this is one of the first ‘Danetti hacks’?!
Next up is the "Calanna White Oak"Console Table. This is so stunning, a really high end looking piece which is so much better in real life, to say I was pleasantly surprised by it would be a major understatemen. the white oak effect of the top shelf is really tactile and soft and the green tint of the glass legs has a welcomes nod to the 70s without being pass. it is the perfect option For a beautiful vignette in the room. I have layered with artwork, lamps and smaller pieces but I will also be using this as a laptop table for when I use this room as my ‘office’ with a bar stool for comfort.
Danetti have also recently branched out into lighting so being a big fan, I thought it was wise to try them on for size. I selected 2 options as for me, the more lighting options in a room, the better. Lighting should be interchangeable and versatile, from ceiling level to head height to low level- mood to task lighting and everything inbetween. The first lamp is one that the alcoves had been crying out for. The bottom shelf is quite low and narrow so wouldn’t fit most table lamps, this ‘Pablo White Marble‘ Table Lamp has answered my prayers. At 22cm in height this light casts a soft glow and illuminates the alcoves in a romantic flood of light. It also echos the Dowsing and Reynolds Chandelier perfectly. The real marble base is topped of with a crown of brass, this feels like a quality piece of design and is a welcome addition to my other minimalist accessories that are styled on the shelving.
The other lamp from Danetti is possibly one of my most favourite pieces in my home. they’ve knocked it out of the park with this one. The design, quality and value for money is seriously impressive. It is the ‘Rey Black Marble Arc’ Floor Lamp. Once again they have incorporated a real marble base- super luxe- ive got a real thing for black marble at the moment so this ticks that box. The shade is upholstered in a black cotton and suspended delicately from the powder coated black arc. sculptural and a statement for sure but it does seem to overwhelm the space, it adds interest and a architectural break from the corners of the room. Its perfect for nighttime reading or working on the sofa. SO.IN.LOVE!
I was lucky enough too be approached by Hillarys Blinds to be part of the launch of their new collection of fabrics and the ‘Live That Style’ campaign. I could choose any fabrics from their new Mercury collection and pair with anything from the existing range of fabrics.
I went for a layered window dressing, starting with the simple sheer roller blind in ‘Purity, White’. This is to disguise the awful leaded windows that I detest but can’t afford to replace, these also add privacy as this is the window with most visibility from the street.
My second choice was a beautiful lined roman blind to soften the appearance of the minimalistic sheer and bring a warmth. These are great for when the sun is high as it beams straight through this window causing the temperature to rise dramatically. These are in the Mercury collection fabric called ‘Gaze, Moon Dust’. it’s a tactile woven brocade in ivory’s, greys and silver in an organic, marble like formation. It’s subtle but I love the tangible quality of having a layer like this, It invites you in. hillarys also do coordinating cushions to work with your curtains so I chose another fabric from the Mercury collection called ‘Onyx Marble’ this is a full on marbleised statement velvet- crazy gorgeous!
Ok, so with the final choice, my curtains... I wanted to make a statement for the campaign, a strong, directional look to inspire. See as you probably know by now- I’m a big fan of neutrals and rarely get swayed to the colourful side except for a few occasions in commercial projects and clients homes that carry colour well. I decided to break my own mould and go for colour in a BIG way. After going through all the samples I decided to go with ‘Clarence Terracotta’ in a wave headed full length fully lined curtain that was to be hung from a track. Now, I’m not going to lie, I sent my final choices over and went into a state of panic that I should have stuck to a beige or ivory, I even lost sleep that I made the wrong choice- seriously not normal behaviour! But install day soon came around and my Hillary’s consultant pulled out the curtains from their packaging... I was SO relieved, I instantly fell in love with them and patted myself on the back for being so brave. They looked even better once they were hung. The Clarence Terracotta fabric has a soft sheen to it which bounces the light. I think the colour works with this otherwise monochrome room because, terracotta itself, is a colour that is naturally occurring in nature. It’s alkaline. It’s rust, clay, autumn leaves, it’s a neutral in its own way. It’s sounds obvious to say but the colour is so warming and I think now an ivory or beige would have been too flat- this brings another dimension to the design and I love the energy it brings.
Hillary’s are seriously upping their game when it comes to versatile window dressings. Their customer service and quality of product is up there with some of the top bespoke curtain makers I work with and I would return to use them again and again. Take a look below for the official campaign shots, styled up differently to the final room in order to show the curtains and blinds in the full
glory, photographed for Hillary's by Chris Snook.
The Big Reveal...
So you’ve seen snipits above but if you’ve stuck around to this point (well done!) then I’m so proud to show you how it’s all come together. I’ve linked all the products below so you can shop the look but please feel free to comment if there is anything you need to know or if you feel like showing some love!
Artwork is as selection of Jean Arp prints and Kelly Wearstler wallpaper. I created the textured art using plywood and ready mixed plaster.
An old IKEA Metod armchair that I reupholstered in a boucle and an Oyster Velvet, a now completely gorgeous addition to the room.
Shop The Look...
Paid Partnership with Hillary’s Blinds...
• Curtains in ‘Clarence Terracotta’
• Roman Blinds in ‘Gaze, Moon Dust’
• Cushions in ‘Onyx Marble’
• Sheer Roller Blinds in ‘Purity, White’
• Bauwerk Colour Limewash Paint in ‘Raw White’