How to Make a ‘Wow’ Design Statement With Your Stairs

How to Make a ‘Wow’ Design Statement With Your Stairs

Walk through the front door of your house and what’s one of the first things to catch the eye? That’s right, it’s the stairs leading up to the first floor. Practicality and durability are usually top of the list when it comes to decorating this high-traffic area of the house. However, if you think your staircase is little more than a functional pathway to get you upstairs, you’re missing a huge design opportunity. Be prepared to think creatively and make a statement with your stairs!

Elegant staircase with the wall painted in eggshell blue paint by Benjamin Moore
Image credit: Benjamin Moore

It doesn’t matter whether your house is large or smaller, whether you live in a Victorian terrace with a narrow staircase or a contemporary home with a more open-plan stair area. There’s plenty you can do to inject your personal style into every kind of hallway, stairs and landing. Here are some ideas to inspire.

Wood effect flooring creates a welcoming look in this hallway
Image credit: Flooring Mountain

Let’s start with the basics. In terms of practicality, it makes sense to choose a hardwearing carpet for your stairs if you have a busy household. Sisal is an extremely durable natural material that’s perfect and popular for stair runners. However, if you want more softness underfoot, 100% wool carpets are hard to beat. Cheaper wool mix options and man-made fabrics are also available. Go for the best quality you can afford for many years of enjoyment.

Carpetright Highgate Loop Carpet stripe
Image credit: Carpetright

Of course, you don’t have to fully carpet your stairs (or at all!). A vibrant stripey stair runner can look fantastic on a plain wooden staircase. In terms of style, you want to ensure that your stair flooring complements the rest of your interiors scheme and that there’s a harmonious flow. That said, you can inject interest with funky geometric patterns or an accent colour that you wouldn’t dare put in a room. Visit a reputable carpet supplier near you or, better still, arrange for a mobile showroom to come to you, so you can see samples in situ and make the right choice.

Vibrant statement staircase painted in Annie Sloan paint
Image credit: Annie Sloan

Let’s be honest, staircase walls have the potential to be bland and boring, but they don’t have to be. Instead of sticking to tried-and-tested neutral colour schemes, how about going all-out with darker shades?

There are many fabulous stair and hallway paint schemes that generate drama with bold or moody shades such as Farrow & Ball’s Inchyra Blue, Bancha dark olive, Downpipe grey or Railings off-black. Paint the walls and woodwork in the same or contrasting colours for maximum effect, as you wish. As an added bonus, you’ll discover that darker colours are an excellent backdrop for other decorative elements like artwork, mirrors and lighting, making everything pop.

Flamboyant wallpaper is another way to draw attention to the space leading upstairs. From delicate Chinoiserie to blowsy florals, Art Deco geometrics to modern tropical prints, it’s a sure-fire way to add colour, drama and intrigue. As the Creative Director for Little Greene points out, you should “select a wallpaper or paint shade for your hallway that gives a sense of continuity and transitions from room to room in a warm inviting way.”

Lovely staircase with an attractive gallery wall
Image credit: Cult Furniture

And why stop with paint or wallpaper when you can add more interest and texture to the walls? One popular option is to create a gallery wall with original artwork, prints or even family photos to draw the eye up the stairs. Choose something to unite your collection – a common topic, colour theme or choice of picture frame – and lay it all out on the floor to decide what goes where before you drill holes in the wall.

The best gallery wall ideas are those that don’t try to cram in too many small frames, which might make your staircase feel fussy and cluttered. Experiment with going large-scale or even oversized, perhaps featuring just one fabulously unique piece.

Of course, artwork is not the only option for embellishing walls. Think creatively and fit wall mounted shelving, not necessarily for books but to help create displays for accessories or houseplants that can be updated through the year to vary the look. Add some quirky and unexpected items too that bring a smile to the face.

These well positioned wall lights help brighten up a dark staircase
Image credit: Nedgis

If your staircase goes through the middle of the house, it may suffer from a lack of natural light. Period cottages or terraced houses can be particularly affected by this design flaw. Nobody likes going up poorly lit stairs – it feels uninviting and possibly unsafe if you cannot see where you’re going.

Adding more light to the area can be done with lamps and light fixtures that can be as decorative as they can be useful. Think of investing in a central pendant light, chandelier or light installation that turns a humdrum staircase into a wow design feature. Wall sconces are a popular option for stair lighting, but also consider unconventional lighting choices for added interest. One idea is to integrate small LEDs in the stairs or bannister, ideally with a dimmer switch, which can act as task and mood lighting and give your home a sleek, contemporary touch.

Strategically positioned mirrors can also act as a statement piece on the wall while bouncing more light around an otherwise light-starved staircase.

Harlow sofa from Furniture Choice with a bright yellow statement staircase
Image credit: Furniture Choice

Hallways, stairs and landings can be tricky places to decorate. They are the central artery that runs through the centre of the house and connects all the rooms. If there is no coherent flow in your interiors scheme, the staircase can be the area where this becomes all too obvious. In this case, neutral schemes are perhaps your best choice for stairs and landings, though you can still create impact with feature artwork or statement mirrors.

But if you have the opportunity to have fun with your stairs, do take it. As Farrow & Ball’s Brand Ambassador Patrick O’Donnell says: “The most welcoming spaces don’t take themselves too seriously – let your artwork do the talking with a colourful gallery wall, paper a feature wall in oversized florals, or paint an alcove in a shade that makes you smile.”




Coastal Interior Design For Your Home

Coastal Interior Design For Your Home

The coastal interior design trends are a little different from anywhere else, making people feel like they’ve really arrived somewhere idyllic and beautiful. Choosing to decorate in this style can really make the most of being close to the ocean, making even ordinary days feel a little lighter and breezier. Whether you simply love living at the beach or want to stage your home for sale, these home accent choices are likely to make anyone who comes in feel like they’ve gone on vacation, even if it is just for an hour or two while eating dinner with family and friends.

Go for a Neutral-Plus-Blue Palette

Pops of sea blue work well in conjunction with neutrals in coastal interior design rooms
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

The light greys, whites, and sandy beiges that are standard for a beach house go particularly well with pops of sky blue or other light blues. The room can give the look of the sea, sand, sky combo that you see when you are out for a walk on the beach.

Emphasize Natural Light With Gauzy Curtains

Light, gauzy curtains are ideal for a coastal interior design scheme
Photo by Point3D Commercial Imaging Ltd. on Unsplash

Covering up the natural light can make a coastal interior design feel less breezy, and after all, life at the beach is supposed to feel a little breezy. Accent your natural light by using sheer curtains that have some movement to them, especially when the windows are open. Other sources of natural light, like adding skylights or mirrors to rooms that need more light, can add to the breeziness. Another option is bright art – if you have wall prints of sunny days or beach scenes, you’ll emphasize the coastal theme as well as add brightness.

Use Driftwood and Rope for Accents on Decor

Examples of home accessories and decor made from driftwood
Photo by Nicola Fioravanti on Unsplash

Compared to other kinds of interior design, coastal interior design relies heavily on materials that you won’t usually find in other styles of home decor. Particularly, driftwood for frame edging, tables, or chairs is unusual outside of coastal interior design, but its a great look in your beach home. Thick rope can also make for great borders and can make for great chunky rugs, all contributing to the combination of hard seafaring and soft relaxation that characterizes the beach.

Bleached-Wood-Style Vinyl Provides Durable Flooring

Actual wood floors and carpet can take a beating at the beach, between salt water dripping and sand tracked in from adventures in the surf. One great option for getting the coastal look but having an easier time cleaning and maintaining is to opt for vinyl in a very light grey bleached wood tone. You get all the easy tidying of having vinyl floors but with the look of a deck that has been weathered by the sea and sun.

If you want to create a coastal interior design, you don’t have to revamp everything at once. Consider your options wide open, whether it be starting with accentuating natural light or adding some rope-lined placemats to the dining room. Any replacements of furniture or decor items that turn it from a darker-toned room to a lighter toned one are going to be a move in the right direction.



More is More – Why Maximalism is Perfect for Small Spaces

More is More – Why Maximalism is Perfect for Small Spaces

We’ve all heard of minimalism – pared-back interior designs based around calming shades of creams and pale neutrals that exude elegance and harmony while making the most of light and space. For decades, it’s been the go-to approach for decorating small rooms on the understanding that it makes them appear bigger. Well, no more. Enter maximalism, the recent design concept that turns everything on its head.

Bold and vibrant maximalist style home interior design scheme
Photo by Spacejoy on Unsplash

The problem with minimalist designs is that the restricted colour palette can make rooms feel cold, even sterile. They can also be extremely high maintenance. You need to be a very tidy person indeed to keep your home looking streamlined and organised at all times! A maximalist approach allows a much freer rein in terms of colour and design choices, encouraging experimentation and self-expression through fun and funky interiors that are much easier to live with.

“Maximalism is a loud style composed of mixed patterns, excessive, but curated collections, and saturated colours,” says one interiors expert. If you are struggling to reconcile the idea of visual excitement in a small space, you will be surprised to hear that a maximalist décor done right can actually make a home feel bigger, which is great news for small spaces.

Perhaps you have a box room in a small apartment that is crying out for an injection of personality and style? Are you planning a loft conversion in a terraced house and looking for decorating inspiration for the new attic room? Or maybe you’re stuck with ‘deceptively spacious’ living accommodation in a detached new-build home and simply want to make the most of it. Whatever your small interiors conundrum may be, maximalism has the answer.

Wallpaper can create a splash of colour in a bathroom
Photo by Grace Kelly on Unsplash

The trick to making maximalist interiors work in a small space is intentional design. ‘More is more’ doesn’t mean randomly throwing more stuff at a room – there has to be a method to the madness. In order to get the right results, it’s important to focus on the overall effect you are trying to achieve.

Let’s start by breaking some rules. Newsflash: small rooms don’t work best with small-scale patterns. In fact, large patterns can visually expand a small space by drawing the eye upward and outward. Use blowsy floral wallpaper or floor-to-ceiling murals to create depth in the room and make it appear larger and taller than it actually is.

The same goes for dark colour palettes on walls and ceilings. From charcoal black to burnt toffee and deep navy, “going all over with one colour can blur the edges of the room, so the eye can’t focus on the dimensions of the room, making it feel larger,” explains Abigail Ahern, interior design guru and the queen of moody hues.

While you are heartily encouraged to go bold in your choice of colours, textures and patterns, do make sure they harmonise, not clash, with each other. You might pick items with similar patterns or shapes to achieve a sense of cohesion. Perhaps your sofa, coffee table and bookcase have rounded edges, or your cushions match the pattern of your rug.

Stunning living room design using pops of orange colour
Photo by Spacejoy on Unsplash

With not much room to spread out, layering takes on a whole meaning. From walls and floors to furniture and accessories, all components need to play off one another. This is what tricks the eye: With only so much visual ground to cover in a small space, packing it with carefully curated elements helps to make the space feel larger.

That said, layering requires a confident eye for what works. This doesn’t have to mean entrusting your vision to an interior design professional. Instead, take your time and decorate slowly. The most successful maximalist interiors grow organically. Add one statement piece, stand back and see how it feels, then add another bit, and so on.

Having space under furniture creates a feeling of space
Photo by Spacejoy on Unsplash

Don’t forget that even maximalist rooms need some negative space for the eye to rest. This helps to ensure that the room doesn’t feel too busy, helping the brain to compute what the eye sees. Open space on shelves, plain areas of wall, flooring visible under a rug – these are all tricks interior designers use to make a small room look interesting rather than chaotic.

When it comes to furniture, one easy-to-follow recommendation is to choose simple pieces to ground the room, then adding maximalist touches with decorative pieces to your heart’s content. Make use of awkward nooks and crannies with built-in storage, but give the room personality with a bold colour scheme.

That said, there’s no hard and fast rule about matching the scale of the furniture to the size of the room. Large pieces can absolutely be incorporated into a bijou room without crowding it. A statement sofa creates a focal point, and an oversized feature mirror tricks the eye and adds space. Create balance with other, smaller items to avoid a crowded look. 

Gallery wall and display of treasured possessions
Photo by Spacejoy on Unsplash

Maximalist decorating is an opportunity to show off your treasures. Whatever the size of your home, find a table, mantle or shelf where you can display meaningful keepsakes, heirlooms, travel souvenirs or junk shop finds. When your home is filled with all the things you love, it can boost your mood and increase happiness.

Gallery walls are all the rage, and they can be a fantastic feature for tiny rooms that are taller than they are wide. Use family photos, original artworks, wall hangings, old masters and curios to create a display of all your favourite pieces. Take your art gallery wall up to the ceiling to create the illusion of height.

Lovely green living room sofa
Photo by Spacejoy on Unsplash

Finally, take a leaf out of biophilic design and fill your room with living plants. It’s a great way to break up the space visually and add diversity, while counteracting any danger veering towards ‘stuffy museum’ vibes. Play with scale, texture and location to give the room both interest and balance.

Interior design trends may come and go but it looks like maximalism is here to stay. And there’s much more to it than ‘more is more’ – it’s about the art of more. With a bit of strategic thinking, that can be applied to any sized space, including the smallest rooms in the house.



The Fresh Design Guide to Wood Panelling

The Fresh Design Guide to Wood Panelling

Wood panelling was one of 2021’s hottest trends and we think it will continue this year. It’s relatively easy to put up, creates a stunning visual effect and hides a multitude of sins, if you live in an older house! Some people are also putting a twist on the trend with ‘wall panelling’ wallpaper and panelling made from more modern materials. Here’s our guide to why and how.

Pros and cons of wood panelling

Advantages – first and foremost, wood panelling allows you to channel your inner Downton Abbey, and who can say no to that! It will lend a hint of elegance to pretty much any room, and helps create a warm and cosy effect. As modern panelling is usually attached with an insulated panel, it can help to add acoustic and warmth protection. It’s relatively quick and easy to fit, and helps hide any flaws such as unevenness in the walls. You can use recycled wood for environmental purposes, and you can also use hardboard rather than solid wood and paint it to change the look.

Disadvantages – using ‘real’ wood can be expensive. Wood is prone to warp and deform in a damp atmosphere, and unpainted real wood will need some looking after in the form of regular wax treatments. Dark wood can also make a room feel smaller.

Modern twists on wood panelling

Although it’s associated with stately homes and ballrooms, wood panelling works very well in the modern home. Using it on the ceiling instead of the walls helps create visual and textural interest and stops a room feeling too stark and boxy.

You could also try using panelling to divide a room up visually. For example, a free-standing partition should be used as a permanent screen for a home office corner.

Rustic walnut acoustic wall panels, Acupanel

Rustic walnut acoustic wall panels, Acupanel

Acupanel is a beautiful wood strip decorative panel which has high-quality acoustic properties. It can be easily applied to walls and ceilings, be it domestic or commercial use. Modern styling personified in every way. Panels measure 240cm by 60cm and cost £159.99 from The Wooden Veneer Hub.

Panelling doesn’t have to be the traditional wide, flat panels that you’d find at Gosford Park. Narrow tongue and groove panels laid vertically or horizontally will give the advantages of traditional panelling with a sleeker look. You could also try panelling only the bottom third of the wall (panelling which doesn’t cover the entire wall is known as wainscotting, fact fans!)

Faux panelling

If you like the look but don’t want anything as permanent (or don’t have the budget), then wood panelling effect wallpaper could be the answer.

Mustard panelling wallpaper, Mineheart

Mustard panelling wallpaper, Mineheart

This sumptuous mustard panelling wallpaper (above and main image) by Mineheart combines Georgian elegance with contemporary colour. Wallpaper that looks like panelling is great for a traditional home – but equally adds a luxurious feel in a modern setting too. Made in England by Mineheart and printed onto 300g textured paper. It costs £48 for a 10m x 52cm roll from Lime Lace.

Dark blue panelled wallpaper mural, Wallsauce

Dark blue panelled wallpaper mural, Wallsauce

To get the look in a hurry, you can order a custom-sized stick-on mural. Easy to install, you can just stick it onto your wall. Priced from £30/square metre, it’s available from Wallsauce.

If you feel that using panelling on the whole room would be overkill, you could also try putting panelling on just one wall. Panelling an end wall will help a small room appear deeper, for example. Putting panelling around another feature such as a fireplace will help to emphasis it and make it into a real eye catcher!

Main image shows mustard panelling wallpaper by Mineheart.



Designing A Cozy Reading Room In Your Home

Designing A Cozy Reading Room In Your Home

Do you love to read? If so, you’ll want to create the perfect reading room in your home! This space should be comfortable and inviting, and it should be easy to relax in. In this blog post, we will discuss some tips and tricks for creating the perfect reading room. We’ll also provide some ideas for decorating this space. So whether you’re designing a reading room from scratch or you’re looking to make a few changes to an existing space, read on for some helpful advice!

Cute reading nook
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

The first step in creating the perfect reading room is to pick the perfect spot! This space should be away from any areas where there is a lot of foot traffic. It should also be free from any distractions, such as television or loud music. Try to pick somewhere that is not right by a main road too, or you will find it hard to concentrate. It might be that you have a spare room in the house that you want to turn into a reading room/library. However, if you don’t have a dedicated room, look for a nice corner in the living room or a bedroom that doesn’t get that much use.

When picking your spot, consider natural light. A room with lots of windows is ideal, as you’ll be able to enjoy the outdoors while you’re reading. South-facing rooms will get a lot more sunlight during the day, so they’re perfect if you want a bright reading spot.

Once you’ve found a nice quiet spot with lots of natural light, you can start planning the details of your reading area.

Now that you’ve picked the perfect spot, it’s time to start thinking about what features your reading room must have. Of course, every reading room needs a comfortable chair or two! You’ll also want to consider adding a small table or ottoman, as this will give you a place to rest your book when you’re not reading. You need storage for your books too. We’ll discuss all of these key elements in detail later.

However, there are other added features that you might want in your room. Maybe you want some speakers for some nice background music or you might want a small fridge so you can keep drinks and snacks close by. You could also add a desk so your reading area can double up as a study for working in. It’s up to you what added features you include, just make sure they don’t take away from the main purpose of the room – reading!

Once you’ve decided on the must-have features for your reading room, it’s time to start thinking about the layout. This is where you can get creative and really make the space your own.

You need to make efficient use of the space so you can fit all of your storage in without cluttering the seating areas. Make the actual reading areas the focus of the room and then build around them. For example, if you have a large window in your reading room, consider using it as a focal point and place your seating area nearby. This will make the most of the natural light and create a relaxing environment.

Lovely space in a room for reading
Photo by Pickawood on Unsplash

Once you’ve decided on the key features of your reading room, it’s time to start thinking about the colour scheme. This is a very important step, as the colours you choose can really influence the mood of the room. If you want a calm and relaxing space, go for soft blues and greens. If you’re looking for something more stimulating, try brighter colours like yellow or orange.

Of course, you don’t have to stick to one colour scheme. You can use different colours for different areas of the room. For example, you could paint one wall a bright colour and the others a more neutral shade. Or you might want to use wallpaper in your reading room. Just make sure that you don’t go overboard with the bold colours or you will ruin the relaxing atmosphere in your reading room.

Ideally, you should use more subtle shades on the walls, and then you can add a burst of colour with pieces of furniture and wall decorations, so you have a good balance.

The next step in creating the perfect reading room is to choose some comfortable seating. This is one of the most important elements of any reading room, as you need to be able to relax in your chair for long periods of time. You might want to invest in a nice armchair or recliner. Or if you have the space, leather sofas are amazing for a reading room. They have that great rustic feel to them, which is perfect if you are going for a traditional library aesthetic. As well as your main chairs and sofas, consider adding a few beanbags or maybe a bench around a bay window if there is one. Having some informal seating areas means that you can entertain people in a casual atmosphere if you want to.

Natural wood bookshelves with plenty of storage
Photo by Pickawood on Unsplash

Of course, a reading room isn’t complete without some bookshelves. You need somewhere to store all of your favourite books! Bookshelves come in all shapes and sizes, so you can find one that will fit perfectly into the space you have allocated for your reading room. If you don’t want to clutter up your walls with shelves, you can always use a freestanding bookcase. Consider the vertical space too and get a taller bookcase, especially if you don’t have much floor space in your reading room.

You might also want to consider adding some other stores in your reading room. This could be anything from a small cabinet to a large wardrobe. Just make sure that it’s not too cluttered, as you don’t want the room to feel cramped. A few well-placed shelves and cabinets can really help to keep the room organized and tidy.

Lighting is very important in a reading room. You need to be able to see properly when reading your book, but you also don’t want the light to be too harsh. Ideally, you should have a mix of different light sources in your reading room. This could be anything from floor lamps and table lamps to overhead lighting and spotlights. This allows you to adjust the lighting and create a different atmosphere when you need it. So, if you are studying and you need to concentrate on reading and making notes, you can have some bright lighting. But you can also soften the lighting a little if you want to get lost in a good book.

Wall decorations are the best way to add more character to your reading room and give it a personal touch. This could be anything from paintings and photographs to posters and tapestries. If you have a lot of bookcases in your reading room, you might want to use some of the space on the shelves for decorations too. Just make sure that you don’t go overboard, as you don’t want the room to look cluttered.

When choosing decorations, think about the theme of the room. Are you going for a bright, spacious, modern reading room or a rustic old library feel? This will help you choose the right pieces.

Create a cosy nook to read in
Photo by Emily Rudolph on Unsplash

Comfort is key in a reading room. You should make sure that you have plenty of blankets and cushions so that you can get cosy when reading. This is especially important if you are going to be spending a lot of time in your reading room during the winter months. Choose some thick, soft blankets in colours that match the theme of your room. Use this as an opportunity to add a flash of colour too.

If you have hardwood flooring in your reading room, it can get quite cold at night and during the winter. Adding a nice area rug is a good way to keep your feet warm and add some more style to the room. You can also change it easily if you want to revamp the room without decorating the whole space.

A reading room doesn’t have to just be for reading. You can use it for other activities too, like studying or as a home office. Although having a reading room is nice, it’s not a particularly efficient use of space to dedicate a whole room to one activity. So, consider other functions when you are creating a layout. Adding a desk is a simple way to turn it into a workspace. You could also mount a TV on the wall too.

Creating the perfect reading room is all about finding the right balance. You need to make sure that it’s comfortable and stylish, but you also don’t want it to be too cluttered. Getting a good balance of lighting is crucial too because it really helps you get the atmosphere spot on. Use these tips and tricks to create the perfect reading room in your home.