Élodie Sire's Dieppe House

I've had these images of Élodie Sire's house in Dieppe pinned for a long while now.  The mix of raspberry reds, airy green-blues and deep charcoal that flow through the rooms, into the hall tiles and continue on in the stair runner never lose their fascination for me.  Restful but in no way bland, fresh, but in keeping with the age of the house.  More photos over at Nuevo Estilo and a few starters on how to recreate the style below.

Elodie Sires Dieppe House

Camille Dark Pink linen mix fabric, Kate Forman; Fiesta encaustic cement tiles, Rebecca Hayes Interiors; Mylands Beaufort Gardens  paint 212; Paint & Paper Squid Ink paint; Daplyn wool runner, Tim Page Carpets.

Bonfire nights...

The Beaver Moon is adding extra drama to the fireworks tonight. We've set back the clocks, turned on the heating and pulled out the scarves and sweaters!  If, like me, you love the cosiness and crispness of this time of year, then take inspiration from warm colours, rich textures and natural fibres in your interior.

 L-R: Twelve Bar Stripe wool / linen mix, Mulberry. Lombardia Linen in Mustard, Spruce London. Knitted Quince Throw, Plümo. Paradise Flower Wool Panel, Rapture & Wright. Brown Faux Leather Storage Trunks, Artisanti. Arran Brown linen mix, Ian Mankin. Festival Braid Denim Trim, Fabrics & Papers. Plain Velvet Cushion Cover, burnt orange, Oka. Amesbury Orange textured fabric, Blithfield. Moro Mango, Romo.

L-R: Twelve Bar Stripe wool / linen mix, Mulberry. Lombardia Linen in Mustard, Spruce London. Knitted Quince Throw, Plümo. Paradise Flower Wool Panel, Rapture & Wright. Brown Faux Leather Storage Trunks, Artisanti. Arran Brown linen mix, Ian Mankin. Festival Braid Denim Trim, Fabrics & Papers. Plain Velvet Cushion Cover, burnt orange, Oka. Amesbury Orange textured fabric, Blithfield. Moro Mango, Romo.

Creating a whole house colour scheme

Many of my clients are very keen to create a sense of flow throughout the different spaces in their home, but have a preconception that this will involve sticking to a neutral colour palette — not so!  I recently worked on a project where the clients were very keen to push themselves and be bold, but were really emphatic that there should be cohesion as family and visitors moved through the house.

This was part of a whole house design; as you can probably tell, the house is large and imposing with some very striking architectural features. The clients didn't really have favourite colours, or a set style, or even a rug or scarf or piece of art to show me as a springboard. So basically, we looked at creating a 'master colour scheme' for the whole house, with the intention of picking out different colours and dialling them up and down in different rooms.

 Bold colours can still be soothing if well thought through.

Bold colours can still be soothing if well thought through.

Given the requirement for so many different permutations through the house, I picked a triadic colour scheme (three colours distributed evenly around the spectrum) and because I was going for a more sophisticated mood, I picked tertiary colours, red-violet, blue-green and yellow-orange (which translated in real life into aubergine, yellow ochre and teal).  A scheme based on primary colours, red, blue and yellow, while giving as many options, would have conveyed a very different mood.   Any permutation of these was up for consideration, from the palest tint to the darkest shade of off-black.   I also added infill colours of a stoney grey with a hint of green and palest pink with a hint of orange and an extremely deep blue-violet.  If you have a colour wheel to hand, you can see that these again are distributed around the spectrum.  We didn't stick 100% rigidly to this, but it did provide the reference point throughout.

The starting point for this particular room was actually the room next to it (through the large doors to the left); a dining room with a an extremely high ceiling, which we totally immersed in aubergine paint to close it in and create an intimate mood, including covering a whole wall in aubergine wool curtains. So I definitely wanted some reference to the aubergine, while having a less 'shouty' colour overall. There are Crittal doors leading into this room (with that hint of dark blue-violet in the metal) and also some architectural blue steel on the fireplace (not shown), which informed the choice of greyish blue. The curtains and sofa are the stoney green-grey as mentioned above and the mustard yellow chairs, throw etc. are there to 'complete' the triad.

In other rooms, pale pink took the lead, or yellow ochre played a more dominant role. However, every room has some kind of visual link to its surroundings, be it in a fabric pattern, a lampshade, or a diluted or intensified version of the main colour references.

Triadic colour schemes can be challenging to balance well, and sound in theory as though they'd be overwhelming, but for clients and followers who are looking for impact and cohesion, I'd suggest this approach is well worth considering, to give you enough options to play with across an entire house.

Too much theory to get your head round? If you need help, drop me a line via my contact page!


Kitchens: should you renovate or cosmetically update?

Yesterday, I was reminded of the kitchen in my previous home, as the new owners posted an image on social media (yes, we became friends!).  This morning, as I unloaded the dishwasher in my current kitchen, I considered, not for the first time, the difference between a kitchen that looks good and one that works well for its owners. 

You see, my previous kitchen was designed for us, by us, from a blank slate. My husband and I took an inventory of everything we needed to house, what functions it needed to fulfill and considered how we were likely to work in it. It was 'only' an Ikea kitchen, built on a relatively low budget, but tidying up was a breeze, as the dishwasher was merely a hip-swivel away from where the crockery and cutlery lived, the pots and pans were housed in deep drawers next to the cooker and the large island running parallel to the hob meant that it was easy for two or more people to work at once.


My current kitchen, which is beautifully made, doesn't work for me (which is not to say it did not work for the previous owners of course).  I find the storage inefficient, can't seem to find a way to store the dishes close to the dishwasher, and every small job entails multiple treks back and forth. I will be addressing this soon, but even I am beset with thought that 'If it cost a lot of money it should work' or 'Maybe a fresh coat of paint will help'.

No-one relishes the thought of major work, but if you're weighing up whether to redesign your kitchen versus simply refreshing it, try being especially mindful as you use your kitchen, while you consider the following:

Reasons to consider redesigning your kitchen:

  • Simple jobs (making tea and toast, blending a smoothie etc.) take longer than they should because things are scattered over a wide area
  • It's difficult to find ways to store things where they are most needed (pans next to the cooker, crockery close to the dishwasher, mugs near the kettle, etc.)
  • Storage is at odds with your physical frame, e.g. wall cabinets too high, work surfaces too low, narrow gaps between wall units and kitchen island)
  • Too many functions are centred on small areas of the kitchen (e.g. the kids getting breakfast while you make a cup of tea creates stress and friction)
  • Inability to work alongside your partner without stress emanating (if you would otherwise enjoy cooking together of course!)
  • The kitchen feels fundamentally unsafe for small children e.g. because garden access is close to the cooker
  • Counters are full of small appliances and jugs of utensils, limiting work space
  • Insufficient seating space
  • Insufficient *accessible* storage, for example, storage is very focussed on conventional cupboards rather than incorporating deep drawers and pull-out larder units.

Reasons to consider cosmetic upgrades or a more straightforward overhaul:

  • The appliances or surfaces look tired or are not working effectively (both can be retrofitted)
  • Cabinets are sound but look dated or shabby (most can be painted, even laminates, if you know how, knobs and pulls can be replaced etc.)
  • Lighting is inefficient
  • Storage is in basically the right places but the contents are difficult to access; it's a relatively straight-forward job to retrofit cabinet interiors with pull out baskets, swing-out corners etc.
  • You have not yet exhausted the possibilities of rearranging the contents of your kitchen.  Ask yourself where the optimum place for your pans, plates, utensils, cleaning products,  tea towels actually is and endeavour to implement this first!
  • Space is being taken up by things that could be removed,  stored elsewhere or on additional open shelving, such as cookery books, vases, jam jars and Tupperware.

In short, if there are fundamental functional challenges with your kitchen, no amount of cosmetic tweaking will help and you will continue to lose precious minutes every single day. Cosmetic improvements still take time, cost money and create disruption so it's worth making sure you're taking the right path rather than facing doing it all again in a year or so because it didn't address the fundamental issues. 

And if you're about to embark on major work, or are in the midst of it; take heart: a kitchen specifically designed to meet you and your family's needs will be well worth it in the end!

Check out Blum for useful information about kitchen zone planning, and Hafele for retrofitting cabinet interiors.  Struggling to know which route to take? Drop me a line via my contact page!

Blue and Orange

Blue and orange are having a bit of a moment as a colour combination lately. Blue is wonderfully calming and aids concentration, but can seem a little serious and cold.  Orange injects a dose of energy and, as the two colours are complementary, they intensify when put together.

This room design by Suzanne Kasler (photograph by William Waldron) keeps everything fresh and light with the injection of plenty of white.  Different patterns play off one another and the orange is kept to the small details.  When using a complementary colour scheme, always allow one of the colours to dominate, rather than attempting to keep them balanced.

For a similar colour scheme, check out J. Frank Mirror from Svenskt Tenn; Petworth Chair from Sofas and Stuff; Squiggle Wallpaper by Vivienne Westwood for Cole & Son; Lana Fabric in Orange from Linwood; Sloan Rug from Apple Rugs; Macey Seagrass Basket from Habitat; Palladium Pyramids Prints from Natural Curiosities; and Velvet Cushion from Also Home.

If you need help with colour in your home please get in touch using the contact form here!

Seize this very minute; What you can do, or dream you can, begin it

I do love this quiet contemplative time when festivities are over but the Christmas trees haven't yet been collected by the bin men and the normal routine of work and school has not yet kicked in.  I'm not one for resolutions but I do love to spend this time looking back over the past year and setting some goals for the future.  And reading as much as I can.

Looking back through various Evernote files and snippets, I came across this photo, which seems to perfectly capture the spirit of the day.

'Seize this very minute; What you can do, or dream you can, begin it; Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.'

The quote comes from John Anster's translation of Goethe's Faust, and I saw it displayed as part of a coffee table arrangement in B&B Italia in London.  It reminds me of a very productive shopping trip with a client and how far we have come on that major project, as well as encouraging me to inject some of the boldness and flair of my student work (yes, I reviewed all of that in the past days too!) into every piece of client work in the year ahead.

Whatever you're planning this year, be bold, be brave, incorporate aspects of your past while looking to the future. And hopefully the magic will follow! Happy New Year!


Today's Project

It's been a busy few months, as we attempt to make our house into a home (and celebrate our first anniversary in it -- eek!), continue to work on client projects and deal with the hustle and bustle of family life! 

This is one of those projects that should have taken a few hours and instead has taken months to see through to completion.  My youngest daughter envisaged a room incorporating geometrics and vibrant, fluorescent colours on a white backdrop. 

Screen Shot 2016-11-15 at 15.18.58.png

On a trip to B&Q she picked out some of these hexagon shelves, whose shape is not the most practical for storage and which I felt were a bit plain for her room — they needed a bit of an uplift!

My first thought was to use a difficult surface primer, followed by fluoro craft paints... Unfortunately, I couldn't get hold of my usual Zinsser BIN primer and settled instead for Dulux Super Grip Primer followed by some acrylic craft paints in fluorescent colours, which claimed to be suitable for all sorts of surfaces, including glass. Sadly, my experience was awful! Not sure which element was to blame, but it took many, many coats to get dense coverage and even then the finish was very uneven. They were too scrappy looking to put up, and I set them aside for a while as I tried to think what to do to improve them.  NB If I were painting larger areas in fluoro colours, I would use Rosco Fluorescent Paints, available from Flints Theatrical Chandlers.

Meanwhile, my daughter's room was half finished and she had totally lost enthusiasm for her initial vision!  This is a common issue — until all the finishing touches are in place, a room often looks unbalanced in terms of colour distribution.  It was her bleak mood that encouraged me to take a different approach and push things forward again.  We already had this rug from Zara Home with pops of bright colour in it, and some co-ordinating knobs on her wardrobe and window shutters,  plus the vibrant aqua colour on on wall (you can just see it in the images above), so I steered away from the dayglo fixation and focused instead on emphasising these colours in the room. 


We colour-matched the hot pink and orange, and used a pale grey tester pot I already had and used these to paint some hexagonal pieces of card I cut to fit the backs of the units (bonus of doing it this way: much easier to switch them as tastes change, plus much easier to get a good finish on card!). The card may begin to curl after the first coat, but this can be countered by running the strokes of the second coat perpendicular to the first.  I used the same testers, plus the aqua (Valspar Mineral Water), plus the yellow of the rug, to paint a heart garland that hangs on the other side of the room, so that the colours repeat across the space.


So far so good... but then I faced the prospect of getting the shelves onto the wall, so that they tessellate neatly; no mean feat when the hexagons are not completely regular and they rely on two fixings each, which need to be completely accurate if the shelves are going to hang straight. Not to mention that they are sited opposite the door so are the first things that catch your eye when walking into the room!   So they sat on the floor for a few more weeks (months?!), until today, when I decided to get on with it and get them out of the way.  And it was fine. I used a paper template to secure fixings for the first (top) hexagon, marking on the paper exactly where the screws needed to go and confirming with a spirit level that everything lined up.  Once I had this one in situ, I used the paper template, plus a ruler and spirit level to align the top of the grey hexagon with the midline of the orange one and took a similar approach with the lowest, pink hexagon.

Screen Shot 2016-11-15 at 15.20.40.png

Sometimes the smallest projects are the biggest time-drains... which is why I rarely take an upcycling approach with clients, unless I know they are very happy to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in!

Homage to European design

Today, the UK took the momentous, but far from unanimous decision to part ways with the EU.  From a design perspective, I love having access to such a diverse range of skills and styles, while knowing that I can introduce clients to new products without unduly worrying about excessive transportation costs, problems with communication or attitudes to business and issue resolution.  More and more often,  great European designs are emerging as the result of people coming together from different cultural backgrounds, enabled by their ability to study and work together. 

Occasionally I look askance at the range of products available to my US counterparts and feel a pang of envy, but I know they do likewise ― the grass is always greener.  However, although I've looked into importing items a few times, it rarely proves worthwhile once shipping, taxes and timescales are factored in.  China has a wealth of options but presents a minefield when it comes to consumer rights, product quality and business practices.  It's unclear what the future will bring in terms of trading, but I can't help feeling that the design community has been diminished by today's vote. 

And so, a round-up of some much-loved designs from around the EU.

top to bottom, l-r:

NETHERLANDS / Kelp 100 Light, Brand van Egmond, LATVIA / Cliq Asorti, Cliq, PORTUGAL / Lune B stool, Duisst, LITHUANIA / Foldin, Emko

CYPRUS / Savoia cabinet, EmmeMi, ITALY / round coffee table, Erba, GERMANY / B4 pendant light, Gant, POLAND / Intern lamp, HOP design

ESTONIA / Dune bookshelf, Jaanusogusaar, GREECE / Leather table, Lina Patsiou, HUNGARY / SI4 suspension lamp, Bullarum, CROATIA / Hexagon, Love Anna

FINLAND / Kumpu pendant, Kairo Collection, BULGARIA / Fuchilla sofa, Marina Dragomirova, SLOVAKIA / Street mirror, Mejd, CZECH REPULIC / No4s chair, MM Interier

SPAIN / Rio table, Moanne, IRELAND / Splendor brass pendant, Mullan, SLOVENIA / Homework desk, Nika Zupanc, DENMARK / Pipe set light, Norr 11

AUSTRIA / Folded stool, Philipp Aduatz, LUXEMBOURG / Basica basin, Lago,  FRANCE / Sconce, Serge Mouielle, SWEDEN / side table gold finish, Olsson & Jensen

BELGIUM / Muro cabinet, XVL Home,  MALTA / Zebra chair, Scab/Buiani Group, ROMANIA / Geometry clothing rack, Radu Abraham


Colour trend: Pink + Orange

Have you noticed that combinations of orange and pink are popping up everywhere lately? A vibrant and intense pairing, it often conjures a 70s vibe.  However, with a generous dose of white, the impression is fresh, bright and energetic.  When a softer pink is the dominant colour, punches of orange stop the room feeling too soft or romantic.  Although this combination is often seen in girls' bedrooms, I think it would work fantastically for an energetic and creative work space!

Not for the faint-of-heart, the easiest way to introduce this duo would be to utilise a fabric that brings the colours together, many of which are toiles.  I often feel that a room needs a touch of black, but in this case, stick to whites unless you want it to look more boho. A dash of emerald green will bring balance if you feel something is lacking.

L-R: Jon Robshaw collection fabrics, Bengale from Manuel Canovas, Pampas from House of Hackney, Balleroy from Manuel Canovas.  

Traditional cottage kitchen

Brandon House is a wonderful 400 year old cottage in Gloucestershire.  Its owners love it and have made various updates over the years, but were a little stuck on the kitchen layout. Serving as the main route in and out of the house, it had many doors coming off it and a less than ideal WC situated right next to it. 

Internal walls and poor cupboard positioning were blocking light from the windows, exacerbating the impact of the low ceiling and a change in floor level was proving tricky to plan around.

The clients already knew they wanted a modern, fresher take on a country cottage kitchen and had already invested in an Aga, which we supplemented with an electric module so that the main stove can be turned off in Summer if necessary. The narrow opening to the adjacent dining room was widened and shifted slightly to enable sufficient work space around the Aga, which could not easily be moved due to the position of service pipes. The clients also agreed to resite the WC to a different part of the house and to address the differing floor levels to enhance the sense of space and continuity.  Somewhat controversially, the pantry cupboard was removed; it was blocking light ingress into the room and taking up a lot of space without providing much functionality. 

Congestion around the main entrance was reduced by creating a straight run of cabinets and an additional dresser was positioned in the dining room to lighten the storage burden in the limited space of the kitchen.

Once the plans were finalised, the clients selected Harrison & Pope to create the kitchen for them. Result: a light and bright kitchen which maximises a sense of space without compromising on cosiness and traditional style!

A Brief Visit to Iqrup + Ritz

I'm always on the look out for new sources and furnishings that are a bit different to the run of the mill so during a very brief trip to London yesterday, I decided to pop in and say hello to Rikita and Anna at Iqrup + Ritz, who are a new presence in the UK.  Rikita and her mother, Iqrup, have launched a range of furniture, mostly manufactured in India, selling online and through occasional pop-ups.  Obviously, buying online widens choices dramatically, but it can be really beneficial to actually view and test the furniture, which is why I spend so much time visiting suppliers, so you don't have to!

 Image ©Iqrup + Ritz

Image ©Iqrup + Ritz

The range is quite selective at the moment, but I really liked the quality of the pieces and the comfort of the seating.  Rikita told me they are hoping to bring more pieces across as they buid their business here in the UK.  The style of some of the pieces really appealed to me as being a little quirky and hard to come by, certainly at this price point.  Some of the fabrics are particularly fun and quirky and look fantastic on the mid-century style accent chairs.

 Image ©Iqrup + Ritz

Image ©Iqrup + Ritz

Iqrup + Ritz are currently taking orders for delivery in their first consignment in May, and hopefully their delivery times will then shorten as their orders gain momentum.  Wishing them the best of luck in bringing their stylish products to the market! 

N.B. I have no links with the company and am not sponsored in any way; just eager to uncover new and different sources and share them with you!


my work featured on Houzz!

Proud to have one of my projects featured on Houzz as part of an feature on updating spaces.  There are lots of good ideas here, but the one that costs nothing and is a great pastime for a rainy weekend, is to take all the pictures off the wall and all the trinkets and objets off the shelves, line them all up, look for new meaning and connections between them (colour, shape, theme, age, origins) and redistribute them around the house in fresh ways.  My other favourite thing to do is to raid my parents' house for things that hold memories from childhood.  More on that soon!

Working with strong colours

Earlier in the week I went to check up on progress on a huge project I have been fortunate enough to be working on to convert a large Victorian building previously used as office space back into a family home. The clients wanted a strong and bold colour palette, and I was happy to work this brief given the high ceilings, large rooms and intricate architectural details of the house.  I am so pleased about how this is shaping up.  The photos are poor quality iPhone ones, the lighting is still reliant on builders' emergency lights and there is protective film over many of the windows.  But trust me when I say that these colours are stunning and totally immersive! Not without controversy, admittedly; I'm not sure the decorator is absolutely convinced!

Settling on colours that create a sense of 'flow' through the house was a significant challenge here and was highly reliant on advance planning.  The main colour theme is loosely based on a tertiary colour triadic scheme of red-violet, blue-green and yellow-orange in various hues, with support coming through the mid-point colours; a red-orange based palest pink, blue-violet and greys with a green-yellow undertone.  A dominant colour in one room may pop up in a much diluted or intensified version as a small accent in a neighbouring room. It is quite complex to manage so many colours across such a large space and my trusty colour-wheel has become my best friend, but having a plan and boundaries is invaluable in the process of making suitable selections.  I also keep a master plan of every paint colour and wallcovering used as we work through the house, which makes appropriate choices more limited as we progress.  Given the endless choice of colours and papers on the market, restricting choice is a good thing!

I am so excited to see this project coming together and looking forward to sharing more images with you.

What do you think? Could you / would you go this bold in your own home? Remember, if you are unsure about managing colour with confidence in your home, I can help — contact me to let me know your situation.

The best way to strip wallpaper

Last time I stripped wallpaper, about nine years ago, I was eight-and-a-half months pregnant, we were in the middle of a heatwave and the entire house needed stripping of ancient wallpaper before it could be skim-coated.  Oh and every sash window had been nailed shut.  I used a steamer, which did the job but was a pretty unpleasant experience. My skin was certainly glowing after multiple daily facials...  

So this time round, I was keen to see if there was a better way.  i had a wall of fairly recently applied wallpaper to remove in order to have some cabinets fitted in a laundry room, plus a stretch of textured Anaglypta-type paper in the hall.  A bit of research revealed that Polycell Wallpaper Stripper yielded good results, so I ordered a couple of bottles, along with a wallpaper perforator and a pressure sprayer.


Roll the perforator back and forth over the wall to create holes in the paper for the solution to penetrate.  This one is a Silverline 245130 Wallpaper Perforator.  The spokes are pretty ferocious so keep it safely out of reach of children! I read some warnings that if you are too heavy handed with it, it will leave indentations in the plaster, but I did not find this to be an issue.

Dilute the wallpaper stripping solution according to the instructions.  A bottle makes a lot of solution and would be easily enough to strip a large room.  The instructions say that it can be sponged on, but I used a sprayer for ease and speed. This one is a Spear & Jackson 5 litre Pump Action Pressure Sprayer.  Use face and eye protection, especially if using the sprayer.

It's really quick: spray, making sure the paper is well soaked, wait 10 minutes, peel off. You can use a decorator's scraper to help ease the paper off (the kind with a proper replaceable blade screwed in), in which case, make sure you hold it at a shallow angle to the wall to prevent it gouging into the plaster.

As you can hopefully see from the above, the modern wallpaper came off in sheets; it was a very quick and easy job and created little mess as the paper could be put straight into a bin bag as it came off the wall.  Where it was still sticking a little, I simply resprayed that area and gave it a couple more minutes, rather than scraping away at it with the blade.  The plaster underneath was completely unharmed so can now be scrubbed clean of any residue and repainted.

I won't lie to you: removing the Anaglypta was a lot more challenging.  The painted surface is a lot harder to penetrate (which is also true if you are using a steamer), plus, the plaster-work was older and had been lined first, so there were two layers of paper to get through.  In this case, I used a blade to score the paper (being very careful to go through the paper only!) and then followed up with the perforator, to ensure the best possible penetration.  Be aware that Anaglypta is often hiding dodgy plaster, so only remove it if you are willing and able to confront what lies beneath! 

Verdict:  I do think that the wallpaper stripping solution was more pleasant and effective and less disruptive than using a steamer.  Certainly for removing smooth modern paper, it's a no-brainer, and I'd say even for tougher stuff it's worth having in your arsenal.   The total cost is very low (a few pounds for the solution, about £8 each for the sprayer and perforator, each of which will obviously be reused).  Now just need to consider whether to remove the rest of the Anaglypta (which follows the stair wall below dado level over three stories!)...


Best of Houzz 2016!

Very pleased to have been awarded a Best of Houzz award for Design and Service today!


Houzz Announces Best Of Houzz 2016 Winners

Annual Survey and Analysis of Community of Over 35 Million Monthly Users Reveals the Top-Rated Home Remodeling Professionals and Most Popular Home Designs

Houzz Inc., the leading platform for home renovation and design, today announced the community’s picks for Best Of Houzz 2016 in North America, a homeowner-to-homeowner guide to the top home builders, architects, interior designers, landscape pros and other residential remodeling professionals on Houzz from cabinetry or roofing pros to painters.

“Anyone building, remodeling or decorating looks to Houzz for the most talented, competent and service-oriented professionals,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of Industry Marketing for Houzz. “We’re delighted to join our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts in recognizing our “Best Of Houzz” professionals around the world.”

The Best Of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service and Photography. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 35 million monthly users on Houzz. Customer Service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality of recent client reviews. Architecture and interior design photographers whose images were most popular are recognized with the Photography award.

A “Best Of Houzz 2016” badge appears on winners’ profiles, as a sign of their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz. Winners will be announced globally throughout the month.

To see the most popular designs: http://www.houzz.com/best-of-houzz-2016

About Houzz
Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a small room to building a custom home and everything in between, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community empowered by technology, Houzz is the easiest way for people to find inspiration, get advice, buy products and hire the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into reality. Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Houzz also has international offices in London, Berlin, Sydney, Moscow and Tokyo. Houzz and the Houzz logo are registered trademarks of Houzz Inc. worldwide. For more information, visit houzz.com.

The twelve days of Christmas...

Over on my Facebook page, I posted twelve days of Christmas covetables, just for fun.  The full line up with sources looks like this:

Top row, L-R: Broste medium round marble plate, green, £13, Goodhood London;  Hanging Brass Sky Lantern, £24 / £42, Rowen & Wren; Renaissance Katarina II Wall Mural, £30 m2, Mr Perswall; Souk Ottoman, £399, Iqrup & Ritz

Middle row, L-R: Circle, Valerie Nasciemento, The Woolff Gallery; Seletti Monkey Hanging Wall Light, £205, Lagoon; Birds Tray - Big, £60, Klaus Haapaniemi & Co.; Green Marble Shelf with Brackets, £68, Mia Fleur

Bottom row, L-R: Caviat Vase, large, smoke / grey, POA, The Sofa & Chair Company; Tiipoi Chackra Copper Nesting Trivets, £45, FAO Shop; The Languages of Light, Rebecca Weir, £29.95, Amazon.co.uk; Sotckholm Mirror, £60, Ikea.

it's good to dream...! Hope you all got what you wished for this Christmas!

How to plan for an easier house move (and make the removals company love you)

I recently moved house.  On which note, apologies for the lllloooonnnnggg silence. Our new house is undergoing various works at the moment, which I will discuss over the coming weeks and months, which has made it tricky for us to fully unpack and settle in.  However, when it came to packing up and then working out what was going where when we arrived, a bit of extra effort made life much easier for us and for our removals company (Smartmove Bristol for local readers; we were very happy with them both in terms of price, service and general niceness!). 

Firstly, we did a lot of the packing ourselves.  With the exception of the kitchen, we found this much easier as we were able to gather things together in a way that made sense to us.  From past experience removals companies often try to fill gaps in boxes so that things from multiple rooms end up in one box.   And as we went through each room, we culled a huge amount, whether to sell, donate or take to the tip.  We printed out multiple copies of the floorplan of our new home, and cut it up per floor level. Every box had one of these stuck on it, overhanging the side so it could be seen even when the box was being carried in someone's arms.  We highlighted the floor level in a specific colour for each floor and put an Xacross the room that we wanted it to end up in.  So the removals team could see immediately which floor the box was going to and then which room.  We also gave each label a number and made a note in a notebook which travelled with us of the main contents of that box.  This saved us from opening every box in e.g. the children's bedrooms when they asked for a specific item in the first couple of weeks.


All the pictures and furniture were also labelled in a similar way.   We drew the line at packing up the kitchen though (which accounted for almost half our boxes in the end!!) and the removals company sent a couple of people to do this the day before the move. They were extremely impressed with the ease and speed of getting everything where it needed to be and claimed that they were going to incorporate this system into their best practice — we'll see!

Don't forget to set aside all the things you will need immediately to transport in your car: tea making equipment, basic cleaning kit, an overnight bag for each family member (even if you're not moving far this is really handy, especially where children are involved), toolkit, important documents etc.  Take my word for it, the only safe place for the bottle opener / corkscrew is in your handbag!