Take the chill out of winter by warming up your home with some simple, stylish updates. From indigo blues to statement lighting, this season it’s all about making your home indulgently cosy.
BIG COMFORT BREAK
There’s nothing better than coming home to a warm, inviting haven when the temperatures begin to drip. This autumn, there’s a definite leaning towards indulgence mixed with cosiness, with rich velvets, soft faux furs and silk textiles adding a touch of luxury. Contrast different textures by using mix-matched cushions, throws and rugs.
Susie Watson, founder of Cambridge-based Susie Watson Designs (01223 367527, www.susiewatsondesigns.co.uk), which specialises in handmade products for the home, gives her advice: “Creating a cosy haven in your home is all about mixing colour and texture, and can be achieved without spending a fortune. Combine warm tones of red, burnt orange and even hot pink into your scheme, in soft silks, velvets and wools, to create a really warm, homely feel. If you invest in one thing then a Shetland Wool throw in beautiful colours is the perfect instant update to a favourite sofa or chair.’
Primary-coloured sofas and chairs, like those available at Italian-furnishing brand Arper (above) (020 7253 0009, www.arper.com) and makers of bespoke English Furniture I &JL Brown (below) (020 7736 4141, www.brownantiques.com), will give a pop of colour to a room, not to mention some cheer on gloomy days. Mix in a classic piece of furniture by an iconic design brand for instant fashion brownie-points.
British furniture brand Ercol (www.ercol.com) was launched in 1920 and its pieces are still widely coveted today. Creative director Rachel Galbraith gives her view on what is currently in vogue: “Today’s home environment is a collection of beautifully crafted, considered pieces, that inspire your individual heritage and aesthetic. This season’s trend draws on visual style notes from past classics through a contemporary interpretation. Rocca with its deep buttoning and sumptuous fabric selection embodies the opulence and heritage of past eras. Aluetta’s graceful arms and crafted natural oak legs highlighted with a statement chair draw on a contemporary aesthetic for today’s lifestyle.”
Ian White, owner of Cambridge-based Shaw Spencer Furniture Warehouse (above) (01638 744201, shawspencerfurniturestores.co.uk), also adds: “One of the most important factors in choosing furniture for a home is not only practical considerations but also making sure a piece adds some personality to your room. We all want a cosy haven to retreat to at the end of the day. We offer characterful dressers and inviting sleigh beds that are ideal for achieving this.”
Pile on soft furnishings, such as fur throws, available at Shimu (above) (01274 610961, www.shimu.co.uk) and The French Bedroom Company (01444 415430, www.frenchbedroomcompany.co.uk) for added cosiness.
Cambridge-based home-lifestyle store Catesby’s (01223 355444, www.catesbys.co.uk) is a treasure trove of luxury accessories for the home. Neil Honor, owner, comments: “We pride ourselves on our curated collection of beautiful, useful and original items for the home and garden. Sourced from around the world, you’ll find elegant tableware, timeless furnishings, rare decorative objects and a range of everyday necessities. We believe that your home should be a tranquil, relaxing retreat from the outside world, and we strive to find pieces (and makers) with a story to tell, creating things that you’ll enjoy for years to come. You can create a uniquely inviting environment by mastering the art of layering, using different textures in a room: fold a soft Alpaca throw over an old armchair, add a linen cushion with a contrasting print, store your magazines in rustic baskets and inject character with a vintage-style hexagonal mirror. Let the things around you become part of your story.”
Soft carpets add warmth underfoot. While a luxury, statement rug, such as the new range available at Harlequin (0845 123 6815, www.harlequin.uk.com) can be a beautiful focal point.
“Carpet is perfect to create a cosy living space. The texture of wool underfoot coupled with a warm colour or welcoming pattern makes it a great way to build a comfortable and inviting décor scheme,” says Natalie Littlehales, consumer marketing manager at British carpet manufacturer Brintons (0800 505 055, www.brintons.co.uk)
For more of a mid-way point between carpets and wood flooring, however, sisal is a good practical choice. Adam Robertson, managing director at Urbane Living (020 7138 3838, www.urbaneliving.co.uk), says: “Sisal provides the perfect hardwearing floor covering that is able to take the wear and tear that goes with living in a modern family home. Sisal carpets ooze rustic character and, with an array of shades available, from soft gold to husky brown hues, they create the perfect welcoming look for a country home.”
HEXAGONS AND HONEYCOMBS
While geometric prints are still going strong, there’s now a definite hexagon and honeycomb presence emerging in tiling, furniture design and fabrics. For an elegant and sophisticated finish, tile walls and floors in the same repeat honeycomb design in simple white or black contrast. You can also create a standout floor with contrasting coloured tiles, such as those available at luxury tile brand Bisazza (www.bisazza.com).
Fired Earth’s (01223 300941, www.firedearth.com) senior tile category manager ,Caroline Gow, adds her expertise: “Hexagon-shaped tiles are perfectly in keeping with the trend for using geometric pattern throughout the home. Tiles such as Fired Earth’s Handmade Classic Terracotta Hexagons offer a contemporary take on a classic material, giving floors a fresh, modern look. Hexagonal marble or glass mosaics are ideal for adding beautifully subtle decorative detail to walls and floors but if you’re looking to create bold geometric effects, think about using bands of contrasting hexagonal mosaics to add really dramatic lines and angles to a room. Use hexagonal tiles to give a traditional monochrome scheme a contemporary, eye-catching finish that brings this classic look right up-to-date.”
When it comes to fabrics, less is more, but the style comes into its own with patchwork style quilts and bedspreads for beds. For an immediate update to a living space, invest in curtains and pillows in bold mustards, clarets and blues with a smaller version of the honeycomb or hexagonal design.
Janet Dixon, chief designer at interior design house Barker & Barker (01223 733730, www.barkerandbarker.co.uk) agrees: “Hexagonal designs have been used for decorative items for thousands of years and are about to make a comeback incorporating bright bold colours. Dress rooms with intricate hexagonal tiled patterned cushions or curtains to create a statement hallway or bathroom or add accent hexagonal side tables in a living room or conservatory.
A quilted bedspread using pre-cut hexagonal fabric swatches is a great way of incorporating hexagonal or trellis patterns to homes and would make a stunning addition to any bedroom or living space.”
Wallpapering a statement wall or just the alcoves either side of a fireplace is another easy way to update a room. The polygon ‘hive’ style feels modern yet organic, giving a timeless feel.
Jim Carlile, managing director at Ely-based Reeds Furniture and Bed Centre (01353 669754, www.reedshomestore.co.uk), comments: “Homemakers want a place that is inviting, warm and stylish. At Reeds we pride ourselves on being able to give a personalised approach to our service. I’d advise anyone to invest in a few pieces of good quality furniture, which will last for years to come. Choose classic items that you really love so you’ll want to keep them. Then add fun and character with accessories. Cushions, throws, rugs and good lighting will all add to the ambiance of a room. Keep your palette to two-three colour-ways so it doesn’t look too fussy. The new fashion for hexagonal prints gives a sophisticated and on-trend twist. You can simply refer to it by papering a statement wall or by adding in a few cushions or rug.”
Banish the winter blues by updating with blue: this time around, though, we’re talking deep indigos, midnight blues and inky shades for a striking colour scheme. This colour palette is the next step on from the recent charcoal and grey trend, with deep blues giving an added richness and drama, and working well with pale pinks and bright yellow.
Josephine Rance, marketing director, at colour experts Farrow & Ball (01223 367771, www.farrow-ball.com), gives her take: “The strength of using deep blues, like Farrow & Ball’s Stiffkey Blue or Hague Blue, creates a fashionable dramatic interior, contemporary and relaxed, so it’s perfect for use in both urban and country settings. Use it in isolation in small spaces, with Hardwick White on the ceilings to create a moody feel that reminds us of slightly brooding, squally seas and skies. Or it can be used in a more light-hearted fashion on a feature wall in combination with on trend colours Pink Ground or Setting Plaster. These beautifully easy colours feel faded and natural and are the perfect antidote to compliment the intense colour of the darker blues.”
Packed with rich, autumnal tones, Lakeland Paints (01524 852371, www.lakelandpaints.co.uk) new collection for the winter season is the perfect antidote to a cold, grey day. Inspired by myths, legends, nature and traditional nordic shades, the collection brings together an eclectic palette of bold autumnal tones and playful, romantic accents.
Ian West, colour stylist at Lakeland Paints, gives his insight: “The passion for inky blues is an emerging trend and one that will grow in the New Year. One of Lakeland’s own inky blues – Creek – is perfect as an accent or feature wall in a living area, or for a bold bathroom makeover. Dark dramatic blues like Teal work extraordinarily well with pure whites and creams – think Santorini villages. It is a strong blue that is robust enough to hold its own in any setting – north or south facing, indoors or out without any hint of coldness and being such a rich shade of blue/violet will add warmth and cosiness as well as drama.”
Deep blue is also a colour that works particularly well for upholstered furniture – think sumptuous inky velvet sofas as seen at Delcor (020 7352 5551, www.delcor.co.uk). While an accent piece of furniture, such as a sideboard or cabinet, in cobalt blue looks fresh, modern and striking in an all-white white room. Painted dark blue kitchen cabinetry, available at Cambridge-based John Lewis of Hungerford (01223 305480, www.john-lewis.co.uk), is also worth considering – a versatile and thoroughly modern choice.
The statement light fixture is a must-have for the modern home. Like a piece of art, it is a sculptural focal point and comes in many forms
Lladro’s (0800 015 2413, www.lladro.com) pretty pastel-coloured glass chandeliers and white fairy wall lighting, for instance, give a feminine touch and will contrast well in a minimalist scheme (above).
Holly Hunt’s (www.hollyhunt.com) modern glass chandeliers, meanwhile, draw inspiration from the old and primitive as well as new and modern art, with each piece built with great attention to subtle detail and proportion. At Bert Frank (020 7164 6482, www.bertfrank.co.uk) clean lines and new metals are the order of the day, with a range that gives impact and style.
Simon Wallis-Smith, director at lighting experts Fritz Fryer (01989 567416, www.fritzfryer.co.uk) gives his advice on getting it right: “The best locations to really splash out on a feature light or chandelier are the hallway, stairwell or over a dining table. Over a dining table hang your chandelier so that the bottom is around 70cm from the table. This looks stunning and means you can get away with a larger fitting than normal as you don’t need to walk underneath. Hallways and stairwells often benefit from additional ceiling height and lighting can be used, in much the same way as a piece of artwork, to make a design or architectural statement. In these locations the right lighting will be a real feature.”
Adding her viewpoint, Jenny Hurren, owner of Out There Interiors (020 8099 7443, www.outthereinteriors.com), says: “Don’t forget the lighting when you’re planning your room make-over. A statement light is the ideal way to add that final flourish to your signature style. Like the industrial look? Opt for a dark metal Maginti Inspection Light. Want to add a dash of colour to a kitchen’s white palette? Go for a vibrant contrast with a large ‘colour-pop’ pendant lamp. Have a period property? Then why not consider a subtle and sophisticated Maurice Table Lamp, reminiscent of the Art Deco period.”
A LOOK TO THE EAST
Whether it’s intricate fretwork or lacquered furniture, interiors evoking Middle Eastern design have long been in vogue. This season, inspiration is in the form of oriental wallpapers, such as the naturally woven and shimmering gold versions at Urbane Living (020 7138 3838, www.urbaneliving.co.uk).
Renowned for handcrafted luxurious furnishings, Aztaro’s (020 8908 6328, www.aztaro.com) rich textiles also give a nod to the east and an added touch of intrigue to a room’s scheme. The brand’s Paisley Collection builds on the history of the motif it is named after, which originated in Persia in 221AD. The collection of silk dupion cushions and accessories give a haute bohemian feel, with the fabric woven on a hand and foot shuttle loom by expert weavers with modern appliqué.
Add in pretty lanterns, like the Casbah range at The French Bedroom Company (01444 415430, www.frenchbedroomcompany.co.uk), and beautiful lacquered furniture from The Nine Schools (0117 332 3673, www.thenineschools.co.uk), manufacturer of oriental collections, for an opulent look.
Having the last word, Patrick Rawson, founder and director at The Nine Schools (0117 332 3673, www.thenineschools.co.uk) says: “Luxury is back! Following the recession, interiors are now seeing a dramatic increase in opulence, as both trends and designers look towards a more indulgent future. Inspired by traditional designs, our handcrafted wooden furniture features exquisite gold leaf edging, capturing the true essence and history behind sumptuous oriental design. The colourful Painted Butterfly collection, for instance, features detailed Chinese designs and symbols that demonstrate a number of oriental philosophies including, happiness, wealth, fertility and strength. The Oyster Grey and statement Black Gloss ranges combine Chinese teachings, such as Feng Shui, with current colour trends, creating stunning pieces of furniture that are perfect for the style-conscious homeowner.”