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20 ways to modernise your living space

interior design
Small, simple changes can give your living space that much-needed lift without breaking the bank, finds Anna Tyzack Credit: Katarzyna Bialasiewicz/iStockphoto

If you want to bring your home in to 2018, you need to know about fringing, wicker and statement ceilings. These, along with terrazzo, botanicals, brass and the colour sage, are this year’s major interior design trends. According to Kate Watson-Smyth, author and designer, however, you don’t need to spend a fortune on interior decoration to make your home look more contemporary. “You want it to look considered,” she says, “but that doesn’t have to mean expensive.”

Willow Crossley, a designer, agrees that you can overhaul an interior by making simple changes rather than splurging on what is in fashion. And you don’t need to call in the professionals. “You’ll spend £250 on a builder before they’ve even done anything – it’s about being creative with what you’ve already got,” she says. Her recent projects include decorating a fireplace in shells and adding a tassel trim to a tired pair of striped curtains.

According to Catriona Mason of homewares brand onlyhome.co.uk, a dramatic impact can be achieved by using what you’ve already got. “You don’t need to makeover a whole room,” she insists. “A colourful accent piece of furniture or a vase or lamp strategically placed can really brighten the space and lift the mood.”

The key, according to Watson-Smyth, is to be brave and follow trends that enable your personality to shine through. “You need it to look like you meant it,” she says. “For eight years we had an ugly white radiator in our hall and bare walls. I realised that if you can’t hide the radiator, you have to shout about it.”

Be bold: Willow Crossley encourages people to get creative with their interiors Credit: Andrew Crowley

1 Glam up your hall

As the first place visitors see when they come to your house, it’s worth making an effort with your hall. “Ask yourself if it welcomes you in,” says Watson-Smyth, whose new book, Mad about the House, is out now. “There needs to be somewhere to leave your coat and something fun to admire – it’s not a place you’re going to stay in for long so it can be fun and brave and show off your personality.” She recommends each family member hangs just one coat in the hall, leaving spare hooks for guests, and to be bold with paint colours. “A vintage mirror will reflect light from the adjacent rooms and make sure you hang some wall art – a neon sign from bagandbones.com, for example, and be daring when you re-carpet the stairs. No one’s heart bursts into song at the sight of an oatmeal twist.”

 

2 Revamp your lamps

A statement lampshade, according to Octavia Dickinson, an interior designer, will perk up a tired lamp and add some drama to the room

A statement lampshade, according to Octavia Dickinson, an interior designer, will perk up a tired lamp and add some drama to the room. Dickinson recommends pooky.com, oka.com and matildagoad.com for contemporary shades or you could commission your own from Where Did You Get That Light?. “Pick up fabrics from your travels and get them made up,” Dickinson suggests. The aim, adds Annabelle Holland, an interior designer, is to ensure your lamps are as pretty when switched off as they are when they are on: Samarkand Design or Nushka are both good sources, she says. When it comes to buying new lamp bases, you can’t go wrong with wilko.com, says Lucinda Sanford, a designer. “Scrimp on the base and max out on a Rosi de Ruig shade,” she says. 

 

3 Knobs and knockers

A coat of paint (Studio Green by Farrow & Ball) and a set of brass knobs have transformed Crossley’s country kitchen into something straight out of a Plain English catalogue. Don’t overspend on ironmongery, she warns: at ironmongerydirect.co.uk she found identical knobs for considerably less than those available on the high street. “They instantly lifted the room and made it feel smarter,” she says. For room doors, Rita Konig recommends black porcelain and ebony doorknobs (willowandstone.co.uk) and not to worry if they don’t match.

Glass doorknobs are making a come back Credit: Andrew Crowley

Glass doorknobs are also making a comeback, but be careful – they can look naff. Stay safe with Merlin Glass doorknobs or Tilda glass knobs (£8 in rose gold and white, anthropologie.com).

 

4 Hanging plates

Ceramics are an inexpensive and classy way to decorate a wall and the effect can be striking. “Plates are a cheaper way of decorating than buying lots of art and create a more eclectic look,” says Dickinson. She recommends anthropolgie.com for wall-worthy plates, but you can also find pretty china in local antiques shops and markets. Don’t worry if your plates don’t match; go for a similar colour palette, size or shape. If you’re not sure how to hang them, see marthastewart.com for a video tutorial.

Ceramics offer a classy look Credit: paula sierra/Moment RF

 

5 Paint your woodwork

If you’re a bit timid about strong colours, go bold on windows and doors. “It’s a great way to introduce a strong colour that you might be too scared to paint the whole room,” says Dickinson. “I love painting the inside of window frames to give that slightly industrial/New Orleans look.” Watson-Smyth agrees that dark window frames look more current. She recommends painting the door and skirting boards to match the walls. “It’s what the Georgians did but it looks more modern,” she says. “The more you pick out the skirting boards and trims the more you are pointing out the confines of the room – if you’re on a budget, paint just the edge of the door. The band of colour will add a contemporary accent.”

 

6 A statement ceiling

Statement ceilings used to be fashionable – think the Sistine Chapel, Versailles, Burghley House – but they fell out of fashion after the Second World War. They’re now back, as an alternative to the statement wall – Pinterest data shows that searches for “statement ceilings” are up by 300 per cent. “Decorative ceilings add an unexpected wow factor to a room,” explains Holland. Beware, however, of dark paint colours that read even darker on a ceiling, making it appear lower and shrinking the space. For white and cream walls, stick with soft pinks, yellows, and pastel blues or use wallpaper or stencils. “Intricate patterns are eye-catching and add drama to a room,” she says. US-based Royal Design Studio is a good source of stencils.

 

7 Colour pop cushions

Statement cushions can lift a room

Textures such as leather, velvet and satin are another major interior design trend for 2018 – and cushions are a great way to introduce them in to a room without spending a fortune. “If re-covering a sofa is too much, then make some velvet cushions,” suggests Holland. “Or add leather trims to your existing cushions.” Cushions are also a way of adding a splash of colour into an otherwise neutral interior. “Colour is our big inspiration for this year – and colourful and patterned cushions are a very easy way to bring it in to a room,” says Nicole Salvesen of interior designers Salvesen Graham. Anthropologie.com has a great selection and you can design your own at londoncushioncompany.com.

 

8 Go rattan

Be it on a chair, or a laundry basket or a lampshade, wicker and rattan add natural texture to a room. “I lived in the South of France for a few years and now my whole house is one big basket,” Crossley says. “They’re a really pretty means of storage – I use them for toys and shoes – and you can also drop glass vases into them and line them with bin bags and fill them with soil for your pot plants.” If you’re not visiting a French market any time soon there are also some great high street options including Maisons du Monde’s rattan peacock chair (£189.50; maisonsdumonde.com) and Nordic House’s rattan-edged mirror (£54; nordichouse.co.uk) and for those with money to spare there is always Soane’s rattan furniture collection. When it comes to storage, Baba Tree Baskets make the prettiest baskets, but if you’re on a budget you will struggle to do better than ikea.com’s Byholma (£6) or Branas (£12).

A rattan chair adds texture to a room

 

9 Invest in your bed

The four-poster is having a comeback, says Holland, and it is not impossible to make your own. “Create a frame using reclaimed oak beams for a rustic look, and you can drape it with natural linen fabric.” The Cloth Shop supplies reasonably priced Belgium linen. If this is de trop, upgrade your headboard to introduce a new colour and shape into your bedroom. “I used some Suzani fabric with studs and it totally transformed our bedroom,” Crossley explains. She uses upholsterer Love Nest. Don’t forget to make your bed, too: “There are few things nicer than the coming together of a wool blanket and a crisp sheet on a properly made bed,” maintains Konig.

The four-poster is having a comeback

10 In with the old

Brown furniture, Persian carpets and antique china are back, and all can be found inexpensively at local antiques markets. “Older items soften a minimalistic scheme and make your room look more homely,” Holland says. She has an eye for occasional tables and lamps in particular, while Crossley seeks out vintage eiderdowns, and fabrics for curtains, blinds and headboards. For a full list of antiques markets see antiques-atlas.com and iacf.co.uk – be careful, though, if you go too far your home will resemble a bric-a-brac sale.

 

11 The orangery effect

Every modern interior requires an element of the botanical, whether in the form of an indoor plant, wallpaper or fabric. “A palm wallpaper will update the downstairs loo or a selection of botanical prints will add interest to any room in the house,” says Holland, who recommends Cole and Son’s Palm Jungle Wallpaper and Honolulu Palm by Julien Macdonald. For botanical prints she suggests Etalage, while Patch Plants is a one-stop online shop for indoor plants. For inspiration on how to incorporate house plants in your interior follow @thejungalow on Instagram.

Botanical prints or features add interest to any room in your house

12 Black and white is back

Griege is out, monochrome is in, according to See-Beng Ng from Banda Design Studio – a relief for amateur designers as it is much easier to work with. “It looks especially good in the bathroom:

“You can introduce hexagonal tiles and metallic details and with no sleepless nights over paint colours, what could be better? It’s also totally gender fluid.” Don’t feel wedded to black and white; for a softer look try grey and white: two-tone grey/white hexagonal wall tiles (terrazzo-tiles.co.uk has a good range) with paint colours such as Farrow & Ball’s Pavilion Grey on woodwork and shaded white on walls.

 

13 A ‘piece’

Every room needs one feature or “piece”, according to See-Beng Ng. In a bedroom, let’s face it, this is likely to be the bed; in a sitting room a coffee table can bring the room together. “Play with different shapes and materials – we love circular tables made from stone and metal.” Likewise, Konig is so passionate about coffee tables that she has designed her own range. “All the perfect gossip between two friends needs is two comfortable chairs, a couple of drinks and a small table,” she writes on her blog. “There are so many options… Octagonal, round, square, not to mention bronze or wood.” An ottoman with a drinks tray (see below) is another option: these can be made up using the fabric of your choice at delcor.co.uk Go for something colourful such as Joplin from osborneandlittle.com.

A statement coffee table could be 'the piece' in the room

14 Split paintwork

Split paintwork (two colours on one wall) is another version of the “statement wall”. Go for the “dado” effect: one colour (usually dark) up to mantelpiece height with a lighter colour above, even if you don’t have a dado rail. “This has the effect of making the room feel higher and an add more of a contrast to furniture,” explains Lucy Currell of studioiro.co. The darker colour will also hide the television and any scuffs. If you’re feeling bold, you could go for the geometric effect, as pioneered by interior designer David Hopwood. “It’s amazing what you can achieve with a bit of masking tape and a steady hand,” he says. To create this look, use frog tape to outline large geometric shapes across your wall and fill them with different shades of the same colour. “It’s a great way to zone a room,” says Watson-Smyth. “It can be as simple as a triangle from corner to corner like a beam of light, or a darker triangle where your desk is.”

 

15 Shapely mirrors

A curvy mirror is the perfect antidote to all the many straight lines in a house, Watson-Smyth continues. “Round mirrors immediately give a contemporary feel,” she says. “And they have the added benefit of reflecting light in to a space.” She recommends Ikea’s walnut Stockholm (£60; ikea.com) or finding a vintage mirror with foxed (distressed) glass. “If your house is too full of shiny mirrors it will look like a gym – foxed mirrors bring personality to a room and you can see enough to check your lipstick,” she says. See rougholdglass.co.uk for inspiration. In a bedroom, a full-length mirror leaning against a wall is a great way to add visual depth to a room as well as reflect your other possessions, Currell adds, and for bathrooms a pair of mirrors with matching coloured frames can make an impact, says Salvesen. Her favourites are Balineum’s scalloped edged mirrors (£800; balineum.co.uk) although you could save your money and use a local framer.

Round mirrors immediately give a contemporary feel

16 Go soft

The more fabric there is in a room, the softer it will look, according to Dickinson. With this in mind, she replaces the panels in cupboard doors with gathered material or glues material flat on to panels. “Material on doors can look great in a kitchen or utility room where everything is a hard surface,” she says. “Just remember that any shelves inside the cupboard will need to be recessed a little. Sometimes people put chicken wire in front of the fabric, too.” Crossley is also an advocate of material doors; she suggests using Ikea’s Tekla tea towels (50p; ikea.com) as curtains on kitchen cupboards. A new set of blinds can add softness, too. “If you’ve got some old material, get a local curtain maker to make up some blinds – they’re under-rated,” she says. “Or update existing blinds or curtains with tassels or a trim.”

 

17 Pretty pendants

Pendant lights are, according to Watson-Smyth, the equivalent to an earring on an outfit. “You need to make sure they’re the right size, in the right place and are hanging low enough to cast some light,” she says. The cord is as important as the light itself, she continues: coloured fabric cable from Dowsing & Reynolds will immediately turn the light into something decorative, even if it’s only an Ikea paper shade (Ikea Regolit costs £1.50). The shop also sells multi-point ceiling roses, which enable you to make your own “chandelier” using glass globes or paper lanterns suspended at different heights. “You could even use three coloured cables – in a neon or gold – with three naked bulbs; it won’t cost more than £100 and it will be a statement,” she says. For good value lighting she recommends Ikea and Debenhams, which took over the lighting department of BHS. “Scour the website – there are some gems.”

You need to make sure pendant lights are the right size, in the right place and are hanging low enough to cast some light

18 Frame it

“Salon walls” crowded with pictures are still very much on trend – the trick is to find reasonably priced frames. Crossley insists that almost anything can look good in a frame; she frames her children’s art, shells, even shoes. “I line up vintage Indian threads on a piece of paper and they look beautiful in a frame,” she says. Konig, meanwhile, buys cartoon books and frames them to cover cloakroom walls. For ready-made frames Crossley recommends oliverbonas.com.

Almost anything can look good in a frame

19 DIY

Interiors website apartmenttherapy.com features Ikea hacks for 2018 – the Lurt coat rack (£2.50), for example, can be painted a deeper colour and customised with your own hooks. If you don’t own a toolkit, no problem: according to Konig a few items arranged on a tray will add a finished look to a room. “Trays corral stuff into what feels order,” she says. “I have them by my bed, by the stove for oils, on the drinks tray for Tabasco and bitters – there isn’t a spot that can’t take a tray.” Konig’s Corners Tray for the Lacquer Company costs £445 or Kelly Hoppen has designed a simple lacquer tray for Trouva for £28.

 

20 Make the most of what you’ve got

Move your furniture every season to freshen up your room and bring different pieces to the fore. “I change the furniture every week,” admits Crossley. “It’s a happy-making thing, but most people are scared of change. The worst thing that can happen is you’ll have to move it back again – or you put your back out.” If you can’t be bothered to move your furniture, simply re-jig your bookshelves – and don’t forget the transformative effect of a simple tidy up.

Move your furniture every season to freshen up your room and bring different pieces to the fore Credit:  nicolamargaret

 

ETSY'S KEY TRENDS FOR 2018

etsy.com

Botanicals

Vibrant leafy prints, plant-themed wallpaper and house plants.

Colour clash

Vibrant patterns, joyous clashes, colour blocking and collage.

Vibrant patterns are a key trend for 2018 Credit: Ernest Simons

Sleek industrial

The trend for concrete and steel has become more feminine. Think sleek concrete clocks, whimsical concrete side tables.

Rattan

A tactile and curvy trend to reconnect your home with nature: rattan mirrors, chairs, tables, you name it.

Rattan furniture can fit anywhere in your house Credit: Aallan Trolle

Primitive

Natural, raw materials; an early palette of clay, burnt orange and ochre. Time for some tribal-print cushions and terracotta vases.

The liquid effect

Swirled and stirred “watercolour” patterns will be everywhere this summer.

Fringing

Fringed wall hangings, planters, lampshades, cushions, napkin rings... you will see a lot of fringes this year.

Mindful decor

Turn your home into a peaceful oasis with candles

Self care starts at home. Candles, incense holders, meditation pouffes and essential oils turn your home into a peaceful oasis.

Terrazzo

The speckly surface of the Seventies is back.

Facetime

Hand and eye motifs were last year, now it’s full faces on planters, fabrics, even spoons.

 

Mad about the House by Kate Watson-Smyth (Pavilion) is available for £16.99 plus p&p from books.tele graph.co.uk