I can’t quite believe it’s already the third series of our podcast The Great Indoors and before I tell you what we were talking about this week I wanted to share a couple of reviews for anyone who has thought that it might be odd to talk about such a visual subject as interior design in audio format.
But, as nearly 200,000 downloads on 12 episodes has shown, it seems to be working. Norma left a review saying: “I wasn’t sure what listening to people talk about interiors would be like but it felt like a big cuddle in a well decorated house” while Jessica Rose Williams said: “I feel like I am sat in design school with two wonderfully eccentric professors. Forever taking notes.”
So if you haven’t listened yet and have half an hour, or so, to spare then give it a go here. You never know, you might like it. Carmen Loretta listens while she’s taking the dog for a walk and frequently chats back. What the dog thinks hasn’t been reported.
Coming up on this series will be guests including Pearl Lowe and Trinny Woodall, as well as discussions such as Does Your Childhood home affect your adult taste, maximalism versus minimalism and reporting from Clerkenwell Design Week on the latest trends.
Since the clocks went forward at the weekend it felt right to talk about plants and flowers and our thoughts on real versus faux. It won’t surprise you to know that Sophie and I are complete opposites. Living in the country she likes real plants, but as a stylist who is used to shooting Christmas in July and Summer in Winter, she’s not averse to a fake flower. For the record, they must be silk and you get what you pay for. If you want to hear what Philip Schofield thinks of plants you will have to listen. I was astonished.
I, on the other hand, struggle to keep plants alive so I’m not averse to faking it (some of the time) but I like my flowers to be real. I subscribe to Freddie’s Flowers and have some delivered once a month. They last for ages and it’s always such a treat to see the box on the doormat.
When it comes to arranging them the current fashion is to stick to a single variety and fill a vase with it as that looks far more luxurious. It also avoids the issue of three nice stems and a whole load of padding in the form of leaves and gypsophilia (or baby’s breath). In fact if you just buy a huge bunch of gypsophilia and stick it in a vase on its own it looks much better (and more modern) than if you mix it in with other things.
If you are going to have fake plants then it’s much easier to get away with types that look quite fake to begin with such as fiddle leaf figs and cheese plants, which tend to have quite plasticky leaves in the first place.
Obviously those won’t help with the absorption of toxins and creating a pollution-free atmosphere though. And both real and faux will need dusting to keep them either alive or at least looking a bit more real.
We also spoke about hanging art and while I have always said that a good starting point is about 60 inches off the floor, we discussed this in more details. Sophie pointed out that you must create a relationship between the thing you are hanging and the furniture it is near. This often means hanging it lower than your initial instinct.
So if it’s over the sofa the bottom should be about 30cm over the top so that you don’t hit your head but you do create tension between the two items.
If you are worried that your painting is too small, a common mistake, then, rather than hanging it high in the middle of the wall and expecting it to do its job, create a small group of pictures or hang it close to a piece of furniture – a cabinet or chest of drawers for example that will give it more presence.
When it comes to gallery walls, stairs are good places to put them. I’m not a huge fan as I like things more ordered than that. Sophie loves them whereas the one I have (pictured) is a set of images that are all in the same frames. They are hung randomly but that’s because they go round a mirror in the hall. And because The Mad Husband might have left me if I’d asked for a matching symmetrical grid.
And, because everyone asks: what about matching your art to the walls? The short answer is don’t. Better to buy something to which you feel an emotional attachment and want to look at every day than something that picks up on the cushions. That said, we are all drawn to certain colours so it can be a subconscious decision but try, at least to buy for love not practicality. It’s art not science.
Finally, we had our regular design crimes discussion and spoke about how ugly so many cooker hoods are. You’ll have to listen to see if you agree with us but Sophie also revealed that if you buy the right sort of wall-mounted extractor fan you don’t need to have a cooker hood at all. Most fans remove the air at 15L a minute. But if you buy one that works at 30L a minute this is sufficient for a kitchen. Sophie’s mother, who lives in the open plan annexe in their garden, has a kitchen island in the middle of her space and rather than interrupt the space with a hood, she has fitted a wall fan, which you can see below – the white box on the wall.
I am definitely going to be looking into that option for my kitchen – I shall report back. Until next time….
Thank you so much to DFS for sponsoring our third series and helping us make this podcast such a success.