Episode II is out now and as ever you can find all the notes and things we talked about on the show in today’s blog as well as other tips and hints that might prove useful even if you haven’t listened. But you know, you should, it’s fun …. Here’s the link
First up we spoke about why white paint should be banned. Now, don’t panic I’m not going to say you can’t ever use it, but I wanted to make the point that sometimes white is just the default colour. Sometimes another shade is better. After all, you don’t put on a white t-shirt every time you wear a pair of coloured trousers or a patterned skirt do you? Or perhaps you do? In which case wouldn’t one of the colours from the pattern look better?
See what I mean? Now before everyone gets upset, I have lots of white paint on walls, and floors and ceilings. And woodwork where it matches those walls. But sometimes a soft complimentary colour would be better.
For example my sitting room ceiling is white (as is the floor) and it’s fine with the chocolate brown walls. But it occurred to me during the recording of this show that a very, very pale pink might look better. Not that I’m volunteering to get back up that ladder mind.
Last year Sophie and I both styled a room for DFS (long before our podcast baby was born) and Sophie’s room set was painted in her beloved cobalt blue (as was the DFS raffles sofa she put with it) but the real gem was that she painted the ceiling in in a very soft pink which was a much better match than white and really made the space feel more thought through.
And in a codicil to that I am about to paint my spare room ceiling gold. Yes I am. I will show you when it’s done. If you remember in an earlier episode, Sophie suggested the spare room as a place to really be bold as you’re not in there that often. So I took her advice and we are going for it. I thought The Mad Husband was going to issue a marital veto, so I made him sit down before I told him and also made sure I had been really good at tidying and loading the dishwasher beforehand (two things I am particularly bad at and that he usually does) and to my utter surprise he was instantly, and completely, on board. I fear I may have to hang my clothes up every day for ever more.
So in short by all means use white paint but make sure it’s the best colour to compliment the rest of the scheme and not just the one the builder brought round. And, finally, I tend not to use brilliant white either. A softer, chalkier shade is often better. Look for names like cotton, clouds, chalk etc – things that don’t imply brilliance. As Sophie points out Architect’s White is likely to be pretty stark and pure.
Next up we spoke about conscious shopping, a subject which feels more and more important and follows on from our piece about clearing out and donating things you no longer need. Sophie has worked with Etsy recently and it really got her thinking about being more conscious of what she is buying and putting in her home.
So how can we do this? Well last week’s post about the revival of brown furniture totally plays into that. Re-using and re-homing antique furniture is much better for the planet than buying new stuff. Sophie talks about shopping your home by which she means re-arranging existing furniture in your home to freshen it up a bit, changing things with the seasons so you can reinvent a room periodically. Sophie loves to up-cycle, not least because it’s cheap!
It’s about mindful shopping. Do I love that, willI I love it for ever, will it fit in more than one room? And more and more companies are wising up to that. We have even discovered a company that you can subscribe to which will send you bamboo toothbrushes which is so much more sustainable than plastic.
Consider also where you are buying from. I have spoken before about Aerende, which works with people who have social disadvantages, and buying from places where the employees might benefit as well as products which last longer. Which may, in turn, may it more expensive. But Sophie points out that buying from Etsy, which sells direct from the maker that you may not have to pay store mark up as well as being able to talk directly to the maker which makes for a more personal service.
Finally, how to arrange an open plan space. When you knock down walls you instantly remove places to put furniture so that becomes harder. Sophie insists you need the same flooring throughout while I thought you needed different flooring for each zone. We disagreed. Sophie uses rugs throughout to zone while I thought it was fine to have tiles in the kitchen area and wood elsewhere but you can avoid straight lines like this:
This is one place where you need really big rugs as they act as substitute walls so you need all the furniture to sit on them to create a virtual room. Underfloor heating is also crucial as there are no walls to put radiators on. Also you must have furniture with its back to other pieces so that again you are creating smaller “rooms” within the space.
Different types of lighting will also do this – some pendant lights in different areas as well as floor lights to break up the space. Watch out for spotlights all over an open plan space or it might look like an airport lounge. Use big plants and bookcases to divide spaces as well.
When it comes to zoning the spaces you can also use paint. Try painting two walls around a corner to designate a dining area and perhaps, if there are pillars holding the ceiling up paint those too. Or paint triangles and parts of walls.
Finally if the kitchen is part of the whole space you don’t want it to look too “kitcheny” but something that’s a bit more kitchen furniture in the space – open shelves and recipe books for example. Or super modern next to your chintzy sofa for contrast.
You’ll have to listen for our design crimes…
With thanks as ever to DFS for sponsoring this podcast so we can continue to ramble about cushions and colours every fortnight.