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House Tour: Hertfordshire Home of Interior Designer Alison Anderson

I am really excited to introduce to you a very talented interior designer Alison Anderson and to show you around her beautifully refurbished Grade II listed Arts & Crafts Hertfordshire home.

ALISON ANDERSON HEADSHOTAlison is a relative new comer to the interior design world, having set up her own practice in the summer of this year, however, she has been immersed in interiors and home products for the past 15 years while running her own interiors PR business.  She is a very creative person and a lot of the skills she has picked up over the years turned out to be completely transferable. She felt interior design was what she was most passionate about, so she decided to take a side step into it. 

After finishing her house she was becoming increasingly frustrated that she had to suddenly switch off her design instinct. She has no intention of moving from this house to complete another renovation project, so a career change was the only option.

Alison designed this house for the way that they live as a family and for the house.  “This house is special so I felt our job was to preserve the original features and renovate it sympathetically.”  This didn’t mean that they wanted it to be like a museum, but instead use quality craftsmanship and good quality fixtures and fittings.  “When you have a listed property you are almost like guardians, looking after it for future generations to enjoy”, she explains.  They completely renovated the house as it hadn’t been touched since the 80’s and was full of brown shag pile carpets, a dodgy beige bathroom and walls covered in woodchip wallpaper. 

You can see a couple of “before” picture below.

She has made a feature of the leaded French doors and windows in the living room by painting them in Farrow and Ball’s Downpipe.  The skirtings, doors and architraves are also painted in this shade for a cohesive look.  She has made sure that all the colours go tonally, so there is a real sense of flow as you move through the house.  Every room is painted in a different colour, but they all complement each other, so it’s a peaceful, natural transition from one room to the next.

Alison Anderson Living Room

Photo by Paul Craig

The family bathroom is small but it incorporates everything Alison loves.  The cabinet is an eBay find which she has combined with good quality unlacquered brass taps from Waterworks as they are so much easier to clean than shiny chrome taps!  The patterned cement floor tiles are from Bert & May.  “I love the pop of bright blue and even painted the edge of the door in the same shade.  I discovered Zellinge tiles a few years ago on a location shoot and absolutely love the variation in tone and texture (these ones are from Mosaic Del Sur).”  She didn’t want the bathroom to be too matchy, so chose a shower curtain in a peachy pink to complement and introduce another pop of colour.

Alison Anderson bathroom

Photo by Paul Craig


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Alison loves so many things about design but good lighting is one of her biggies.  “It can really transform the look and feel of a room, so I really concentrated on getting this right for each room”, says Alison.  She learnt early on in her renovation work that if you leave it up to the electricians you’ll get a row of lights in a straight line.  Where ceilings are low she used ceiling hooks to retain longer flexes, wall lights are used to wash the surfaces in light, recessed spotlights provide functional task lighting and there are lamps everywhere (which all get used depending on the atmosphere she wants to create). The vaulted ceilings upstairs meant that she could use huge dramatic pendants for maximum impact.


Photo by Paul Craig

Alison feels really lucky to live in this house as it’s been so well designed architecturally.  It’s a Butterfly Suntrap design, which is typical of the Arts & Crafts period and means that the wings of the house are constructed at an angle.  As the names suggest, it captures all the light.  Renovating the house has been a labour of love.  It was pretty neglected when they bought it, with a leaking roof, a very old, uneconomical boiler and a garden full of brambles and weeds.  It’s been worth all the time, effort and money though and she has learnt so much along the way.

I wanted to find out more about challenges Alison faced renovating a Grade II listed property. 

“We took a bit of a gamble when we bought this house as it had a massive 70 foot conifer right outside the living room window.  We are in a conservation area, so there was a chance that we wouldn’t be able to remove it.  Luckily permission was granted, so taking that down was a priority”, she remembers. 

Alison renovated a few properties but for this house they also added a kitchen extension.  As the house is listed it took them a while to get planning permission, but they had a very good architect who knew the system, so he was a great help.  For this property sourcing the right, good quality materials was essential.  There was a point when they thought they would have to have single glazing in the new extension which would have been a disaster.  However, they managed to source an excellent double glazed leaded window, which the listed building officer signed off.  It was touch and go though.

“There are always challenges when doing up a property, so being a good problem solver and thinking on your feet are essential skills.  We had an issue with the new kitchen roof, which meant that it had to be redone. As a consequence the kitchen installation date was delayed, which is the last thing you want during a renovation project.  The key to a successful building project is to be super organised, a step ahead of everything and be a quick learner.”


Photo by Paul Craig

I asked Alison what things she would recommend splashing out on and where she would consider saving and looking out for a bargain.

As a general rule she likes to splash out on things that you touch.  For her cheap door handles are a definite no no as they just don’t have the weight or solidness of well made alternatives.  Taps are also really important, so it’s worth splashing out here and then spending less on the sanitary ware.  If the homeowners are staying in the property for a number of years, Alison recommends it’s always worth investing in the fabric of the building. 

She suggests saving by buying good quality second hand furniture, desks, tables, chairs and so on.   “If you want to dress a sofa, The Designers Guild sales are amazing.  If you pop into one of their stores on the last few days, they are practically giving their cushions away.  Getting them all back on the tube isn’t so enjoyable!”

Alison also loves mixing vintage finds with more modern pieces. For her, this is how you give a space some depth, grounding and a sense of belonging.  She believes an old piece of furniture can tell so many stories and help to make a home feel lived in and not overly perfect.  “The old stuff is also really well made compared to the mass produced items of today.  You can get some real bargains so it’s always worth keeping an eye out on eBay, Gumtree and any local house clearance shops.  I found a large solid oak side table on eBay for £50 and bought two large oak lamp bases for £10 at a car boot sale.  They needed rewiring and new lampshades (which I got from Pooky) but even with these costs they were an absolute bargain.   I am also rather proud of the 1950’s footstool that I got for £10.  I recovered it in some spare House of Hackney material and it looks a million dollars.” 


Photo by Paul Craig

Alison’s advice to anybody looking for a bargain is to be patient and keep looking until you find something you love.  “Reupholstering a chair can be expensive (but very rewarding), so think about the costs involved before you get carried away.  Always try and see the potential in something; new handles, a lick of paint or sometimes just a thorough clean, can be really transformative.”

Rather than buying cheap new stuff, she recommends waiting for the sales and buying more expensive items that are reduced.  “The Anthropologie sales are fantastic (sign up for their newsletters to find out when they are running.)  I am also a fan of sample  sales.  Nearly all of the House Of Hackney material I’ve bought has been about 70% cheaper than the retail price.  It’s a bit of a scrum to get the good stuff, so go early on the first day to get the best pickings.”


Photo by Paul Craig

I noticed lots of beautiful mirrors in Alison’s home and wanted to find out where she sourced them from. 


Alison is a bit obsessed with mirrors, for her they are like hanging artwork.  She likes to choose different shapes, frames and glass finishes.  She places them so they reflect the light and always so they are facing something of interest, so that becomes the image in the reflection.  Most of her mirrors are from Abigail Ahern.  She says that Rough Old Glass are also brilliant and make bespoke mirrors using a fantastic range of antique glass finishes.

Alison Anderson Anthropologie Mirror

Photo by Paul Craig

The mirror in the photo above is from Anthropologie.  The frame is antique but the antiqued glass is new.  It was eye-wateringly expensive, but she got it in the sale for a fraction of the price.

So where is Alison drawing inspiration from for her design work? What interior design styles appeal to her most and what design elements does she consider most important? “I don’t like anything that is too perfect”, she explains.  “For me its about using simple materials imaginatively and not creating an overly ‘designed’ look.  A well designed space should tell the story of the people who live there, not the designer.  I find inspiration anywhere and everywhere; nature, books, museums, art galleries, films, along with the more obvious Instagram and Pinterest. Sometimes the problem is having too many ideas. Restaurants and bars are also brilliant places to find inspiration, especially the toilets!”

Alison works with clients in Hertfordshire and London, but will work further afield for the right project.  In the new year she is also going to be spending a few days per week working from Russell J Milligan’s studio, which is just down the road from her. “Russell is incredibly talented and a master at making bespoke kitchens and fitted furniture, so I’m looking forward to our future design collaborations”, she says. 

Follow Alison on Instagram for more inspirational images of her home and useful design tips – @alisonandersoninteriors

Featured image photo by Paul Craig. 




Design Best Christmas Gift Shop – Luxury Homeware Brands at 70% Off

A multi-brand Christmas gift shop with a difference opens 13 – 16 December at the Old Truman Brewery. Expect beautiful homeware and accessories from the likes of Hay, Tom Dixon, Anglepoise and many more discounted up to 70%.

The products have been hand-selected by Design Best for their gift-ability and include candle holders, cushions, throws, trays, containers, lights and small furniture from some of the best brands in the homeware world. Everything will be discounted from 30% to 70% and will be small enough to carry home or fit in a taxi.

13 – 16 December 11am – 9pm, Sunday until 6pm

8 Dray Walk, Old Truman Brewery, E1 6QL

Design Best was founded by Jessica Hatch and Helen Arvanitakis a year ago with an ambition to make design accessible for all. It offers discounted products from some of the best loved British and international furniture, lighting and home accessories brands in a single location for multi-brand flash sales.


Helen Arvanitakis with Jessica Hatch

“I’ve always loved being able to buy fashion labels at discount through sample sales and pop ups. Wouldn’t it be great if we could buy beautiful products for our homes in the same way? Ultimately it’s a shop full of my favourite things, hope they’re yours too,” explains Jessica.

Here are some sneak peaks of the products you can expect to see at the event.


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5 Best Office Chairs For Home

For design conscious people a standard office chair no matter how comfortable and ergonomic it is would be perceived as a bit of an eye sore – normally it is not the most beautiful thing. Hence comes the urge to replace it with a dining chair, as it’s so much easier to find something you would love. But what if you want to combine aesthetics with comfort, especially if you work from home and have to spend hours at your desk? In this week’s blog post I decided to explore what other options we have and there are quite a few. Scandinavian brands particularly stand out.

To begin with I would like to share a couple of images from an Instagram feed of @yitai_hu  that caught my eye recently. Her home office of  is a perfect example of how to create minimalist and calm work environment without compromising on your personal style.


Aluminium Chair, Charles and Ray Eames, Vitra, From £1,910

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A design classic by Charles and Ray Eames, but also at the top of the budget.

Other options by Vitra:


Form Swivel chair by Normann Copenhagen, From £305

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Office chair Normann


Neu 10 Upholstery by Hay, from £405

Office Chair 2

I particularly like upholstery versions as I think they soften up the office look even more.

Other great options by Hay to consider:


Harbour Chair by Menu, From £450

Office chair 8

Office chair Menu1


Fiber Armchair by Muuto, from £359

Muuto Office chair

A few more choices by Muuto:

The great thing about all these chairs is that they all come in a great variety of finish choices, from simple plastic bases to upholstery in fabric or leather as well as a large palette of colours to suite every interior. You can also choose the base whether you prefer just four legs, swivel base or swivel with wheels.

Meet Marianne of Scandinavian Touch (Whitstable, UK)

In summer me and my family went for a day out to one of our favourite seaside destination – Whitstable. I always try and get a moment to myself so I could have a quick run around the local shops. This is where I have found a gem that is Scandinavian Touch, run by Marianne Ofstad. It was actually only their second day since opening but the shop looked very enticing and full of interesting brands, some of them I haven’t seen before.


Scandinavian Touch stocks a variety of Norwegian brands such as ceramics by Ment, Kristin Antonsen and Goform, lighting by a Norwegian brand Northern, furniture by Ygg & Lyng, as well as other Scandinavian brands – Danish glassware by Holme Gaard, Art tiles – Danish hand printed tiles, handmade rugs by Danish Linie Design, handsoap and cleaning products by Danish brand Humdakin, Danish handknits by Stinne Gorell, frames and shelving by Moebe and Swedish tiles by Marrakech!

I was keen to learn more from Marianne about her business, so I asked her a few questions.

Could you please tell me about Scandinavian Touch? I understand you are both a shop and an interior design practice?

Scandinavian Touch is an Interior design showroom with a shop located at 66 Oxford Street, Whitstable . The premise is designed like a home to give our customers a feel of what to expect we can design with them. The showroom is designed like a home to give our customers an idea of what to expect when we design for them. The shop is an opportunity for customers to see and feel what can be achieved within their homes.


What’s your background? You are Norwegian, did you run a similar business in Norway?

I am Norwegian and my sister and I have run our Interior design business in Norway for over 22 years. We have a 600 sqm showroom in Norway, one hours drive from Oslo. My sister is based in Norway now looking after the operations there and I travel between Norway and the UK focusing on our new venture in Whitstable.

What brought you to Whitstable? Do you like it here?

I love Whitstable and I know Whitstable because my soulmate lives there! I started coming to Whitstable 5 years ago and have been coming regularly since then. I love the town because of its uniqueness and the lovely people. I fell in love with my soulmate and the town so we decided to set up something special and different. We decided to bring our knowledge of Scandinavian design ideas to Whitstable as well as sell unique Scandinavian products and art at the shop .

I love the style of your shop. Scandinavian style is so distinctive and popular all over the world. Who are your clients here in the UK? Do you mainly work with local clients or from all over the country?

We work with clients all over the South East.   We already have a number of customers locally and in other areas. We can work wherever we are needed .


How do they find out about you? How do you advertise?

We are new to Whitstable and have just recently started trading. We are on Facebook and Instagram at the moment. Our website is in development.

What are the challenges of running your design practice here in the UK compared to Norway?

I guess it’s like the challenges of setting up a new business in a new country . Luckily we have a great person in my partner who knows the area very well . The challenge we have is finding the right people / companies to work with at our standard. We have met some great people and we are currently working on establishing relationships with like minded companies and individuals.

Although distinctive, Scandinavian style can take many forms, how would you describe your personal design style?

We have varied design styles but we like to put our customers at the centre of the process for them to decide what suits their style and lifestyle. Then we can support that process working with the customer looking at all aspects of their lives together so they make an informed choice about the design ideas.

Your shop looks amazing and many of the brands you stock I’ve never seen anywhere else in the UK. What brands do you stock and why have you chosen them? Do you have personal connection to these brands?

We choose the brands we stock in the shop for our customers very carefully. We make sure they are suited to our customers, unique, practical, multi functional and stylish. We have worked with some of our suppliers for many years and trust their products. We are constantly looking for new ideas and products in the Scandinavian market to bring to our customers.


Can some of the products you stock be custom made to order?

Most of the products especially furnishings and furniture can be custom made and made to order in different colours, sizes etc. That’s the great attribute of Scandinavian design. Flexibility, practicality and simplicity but stylish.

And finally, are you planning to introduce an online shop at some point?

Yes we are working on the website and will incorporate online buying facilities.

Thank you Marianne so much for answering my questions, it’s been a pleasure.


Scandinavian Touch, 66 Oxford Street, CT5 1DG Whitstable







Must Have Pieces From MENU Collection

Danish brand Menu is well known for bringing to the market designs by contemporary talents from around the globe and Scandinavian masters whose work has stood the test of time. They have collaborated with such names as Norm Architects, Note Design Studio, Studiopepe to name a few. In their own words their obsession is creating clever solutions for modern living. They want to make beautiful objects for everyday use. The result is a collection unified by simple and functional Scandinavian look with strong aesthetic value. Wherever they can, they work locally with craftspeople around the world.

Their Autumn/Winter 2018 collection is out and I have made a selection of my must have pieces from among the new additions and older favourites.

Carrie LED Lamp

They beauty of the lamp is that, as name suggests, you can carry easily it anywhere. I imagine it working perfectly outdoors on a summer evening, on windowsill where it would be difficult otherwise to hide a cord or in a bathroom, like shown on the picture. Carrie LED Lamp supplies 10 hours of battery time.

Designed by Norm Architects


Pepe Marble Mirror

The design of Pepe Marble Mirror is iconic and the mirror is made to last a lifetime. Designers Studiopepe believe that a beautifully designed product should last almost forever. The updated version that is part of Autumn / Winter collection can be fixed to the wall, but I also really like this older table mirror. As you will see, like many others, I am a little bit obsessed with all things marble at the moment.

Designed by Studiopepe 



I love the simplicity and somewhat timeless museum quality of this piece. So versatile that it could be used in any space and for many purposes. It comes it three different shapes and sizes as well.

Designed by Norm Architects


JWDA Table Lamp, Marble

The updated version of the classic JWDA Table Lamp that comes in two new materials, white marble and bronzed brass, is 12% larger than the original.

I have an older smaller version of this lamp in bronze in my bedroom. I love it’s simple design, that was originally inspired by oil lamps, but simplified into a more contemporary shape. Dimmer switch built into the lamp adds a very useful functional detail.

Designed by Jonas Wagell


Troll Vase Amber

The idea behind Troll Vase started as a study of the properties of glass – examining how the intensity of colour changes depending on the thickness of the material. The result is a vase featuring a dynamic change of thickness throughout, from solid coloured base to thin transparent bubble-like top.

I love this vase for its strong and very smooth look and feel and availability of a variety of sizes that can be grouped together.

Designed by Andersen & Voll


Circular Bowl

The German designer Alexa Lixfeld engages in designing extraordinary items and to, “build an economy of the special”, as she phrases it herself. Circular Bowl is a great example of her work and how she can turn something as simple as a bowl into something spectacular. Circular Bowl is for colourful salads, beautiful fruits, still life displays or just as it is – a distinctive and decorative piece.

Designed by Alexa Lixfeld


Harbour Chair Upholstery/Steel Base

Harbour chair was designed specifically for Menu Space, new creative destination located in Copenhagen’s Nordhavn area. The brief was to create a chair that could suit a range of purposes from working to dining. At the moment I am particularly interested in office chairs that wouldn’t look like you usual bland and frankly ugly office chair but would still provide sufficient back and arm support suitable for a working day. I think upholstered version would soften up a home office interior even more and help it look less office like.

Designed by Norm Architects


Chambers Chandelier Tribeca

The Tribeca series is a mix of lamps, pendants and chandeliers, all inspired by the New York City glamour of the late 1930s. The name Tribeca refers to a very popular part of New York in lower West Manhattan, the triangle below Canal Street. The various shapes and designs in the Tribeca series were created in an inspiring creative process where Søren Rose travelled the States, searching for beautiful old lamps and reusable parts to create each unique piece.

In Chambers Tribeca chandelier I have found the living room chandelier I have been looking for. If you don’t have the luxury of high ceilings, like me, this chandelier is perfect as it can be hung quite high up, but will still have a huge impact due to its large diameter.


And lastly a project worth sharing…

PH House

In 2014 this villa, that was once a retreat for a famous lighting designer Poul Henningsen, who is often referred to in Denmark, simply, as PH, has suffered a devastating fire. Now, following extensive renovations by design firm Norm Architects the property has been revived and turned into a calm, elegant and minimalist home – a perfect backdrop to showcase designs by Menu in situ. For more images of the project go to Norm Architects website .



Are you a fan of Menu, like me? If you have your own favourite products by this brand, can you share with me which ones and why?

Meet Interior Designer Elena Romanova

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Today I am very pleased to introduce you to interior designer Elena Romanova. We have been friends for years and I am very happy that she agreed to have a chat with us and tell us what her job as an interior designer involves, what the benefits of working with an interior designer are as well as share her recent design projects and some style tips.

Can you please tell me about your practice.

I run a residential interior design practice based in SW London / Surrey. My projects range from a one-room makeover to a complete house refurbishment.

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What’s your background and how did you get into interior design?

I used to have a corporate career but have always been interested in houses and was always renovating something. While my friends would be enjoying themselves on holidays I’d be at some builder’s yard looking for tiles, wood, and whatever else I needed for my project.

I have also always been known as a bit of a house stalker always trying to peek into people’s sitting room windows to see how they lived and what their house looked like.

During a career break I finally decided to do something about it. I got my Professional Interior Design qualifications and set up on my own.


What design services do you offer to your clients?

I try to cater to different needs and different budgets.

If you are not looking to start a complete renovation project but would really like to make the most of what you have then my Makeover consultation might be just what you need. Changing a wall colour, putting some bold wallpaper in the downstairs loo, re-arranging the furniture layout, fitting in a smart blind – all those small changes might take your home from ordinary to amazing and will help you fall in love with it again.

You might be moving to your dream home except that the interior of it has not been touched for decades and looks anything like what you had imagined your forever home to be. I could help you with room-by-room decorating schemes, furniture layout, window treatments ideas. I could introduce you to the right tradespeople and help you source everything we have chosen for your home. Having someone around to give you a second (and professional) opinion on every decision throughout your project is simply invaluable.

How do you work on a project with your client? What people should expect when hiring an interior designer?

Think of an interior designer in the same way you think of a decorator, or an electrician, or a plumber. It is not a luxury, it is a necessity!

Hire someone you can get on with. Home renovation takes time and you will probably end up spending a lot of it together so getting on is important. Over the years, I have realised that enjoying my relationship with a client is quite high on my list of priorities.

An interior designer will save you money. If you make ONE bad purchase decision – that would have already paid for a designer. And if you are on a budget, you have no money to waste on mistakes.

A good designer will listen to you but at the same time will challenge you along the way and encourage you to consider options you wouldn’t have thought of yourself! It’s why you are hiring a designer in the first place! I get the best results with clients who trust you and let you take the lead.

And why would you recommend hiring an interior designer? What are the advantages compared to doing it yourself?

Unfortunately, most people would have realised how nice it would have been to use an interior designer when the project is over and mistakes have been made. And sadly, most of those mistakes are not easily rectified.

A good designer will either have done or seen it before. They spend time going through numerous options, researching before they present you with a shortlist of options. They know what works and what doesn’t. They know where to look and to buy. They take you out of your comfort zone to achieve the look you would have never achieved on your own.

They will save you both money and time. And most importantly, you will have a home you will truly enjoy.

Can you tell me about one particularly interesting project you’ve been working on recently?

There have been quite a few interesting ones recently. And all very different.

There is a Victorian townhouse in Clapham Common that I am finishing at the moment. The client has been inspired by a near-by show home but I was really pleased they listened and went for something much more individual and exciting. We have used some Cole & Son wallpapers, nice mix of blues and greys throughout the house, emerald green sofas in the formal sitting room, lots of oversize mirrors, a real mix of materials and some statement lighting. I think the result is a smart but individual-looking home that fits the family needs.

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First glance at the work in progress


Work in progress

Then there was a lovely young family relocating back to UK from the States. They had this cottage in Surrey that they had bought as an investment ages ago and never lived in it. It was very tired and dated looking and definitely not fit for a family with a toddler.. So the brief was to do a complete refurb but on a tight budget. I actually love the challenge of doing a place up with very limited budget. You really need to think hard where to save and where to spend and what is going to make the most impact. After a couple of months of hard work and creative thinking the job was completed and the owners moved in. They said it looked and felt like a different house and the things in the design they were so sure of at the start turned out to be the things they loved most! After a couple of months they realised they did need more space and put the house on the market. They had 6 offers within the first 2 weeks!


One other project I have to mention is doing up a hallway and a lounge in a Surrey home for a young couple. They had this vision of some very on-trend and cool design but when I suggested painting all the woodwork in charcoal grey they got cold feet and said: “No, this is not us.” Luckily, I did manage to convince them to go with it and they had so many compliments from anyone coming to the house. Even their decorator said it was one of the most dramatic and successful transformations he has ever seen. Be brave and follow your instincts. Sometimes you really need to push the boundaries to get some dramatic results.

What are the common mistakes people make when decorating their place?

I think people tend to go for the same old safe (and often boring) options. They do not use colour or pattern not necessarily because they don’t like it but because they don’t know where to start and how to make it work.

There is a common thread of overly co-ordinated and matchy-matchy interiors that look like they have just been put together after one visit to one showroom.

People don’t always know where to spend and where to save.

Good interiors are not about throwing a lot of money at them – they are about knowing how to pull that look together.

How would you describe your personal style?

My style has been evolving for quite a while and it has been fascinating watching myself change and grow as a designer.

I see my job as making sure that whatever my clients’ style preferences are I can adapt to them. It is not about imposing your own style on them but rather helping them to achieve the best results in whatever style they see their house. There is no right or wrong style – just the style executed badly.

Having said that, it would not be true if I said I didn’t have my personal preferences. I admire well curated sleek serene interiors with a selection of exquisite pieces of furniture and lighting but I am at my happiest among colour and pattern. Over the years, I have realised that I am more of a maximalist. I like interiors that have a soul, that look like they have been put together and evolved over time. I like an element of something bold and unexpected.

I find it sad that people aspire to “show home” interiors. Most of them are bland, impersonal and meant to please everyone and no one.

Where do you draw your design inspiration from? Who are your favourite interior designers?

If I had to choose a hotel to stay, it would have to be one of Kit Kemp’s.


Ham Yard Hotel, London

The interior designers that excite me are Turner Pocock, Suzy Hoodless, Studio Duggan. They all have a lot of personality and flair in their design while looking very current.



Design by Suzy Hoodless


Design by Studio Duggan


Design by Turner Pocock

What are your design no-nos?

I have a few rules I absolutely stand by.

Never paint a dark small room white. Don’t fight the lack of light, work with it. Use pattern or a dark cocooning colour (with clever lighting) and you will have a cosy atmospheric rather than bland and boring room. Talking of dark colours, I have used them a lot recently. There is something irresistible about a well put-together dark room.

Plan your lighting, It is as important as colour and hard and expensive to change at a later stage. Think about layering your lighting in the same way as you would layer texture. Have various types of lighting at different levels. And go for a bigger chandelier than you think you need and a more expensive one than you think you can afford.

Know where to save and where to spend. Invest in quality joinery and good flooring and you can get away with spending less money on some other things.

A little bit of wallpaper goes a long way. I love interesting wallpapers. Cole & Son has been my personal favourite for a long time. Their wallpapers are like art. Totally unique and amazing.

Do not have a feature wall unless there is a good reason for it. Often people resort to feature walls just because they are afraid of using colour or pattern throughout. A feature wall needs to be intentional.

What current trends are your favourites at the moment?

Dark rooms I have already mentioned above. You do not have all house dark – it might not be for everyone. But contrast works well and a dark room will help you appreciate light in the other rooms even more.

Mixing and matching trend. It brings excitement to interiors, keeps them from looking sterile and bland.

OTT patterns in fabrics and wallpapers. I think well chosen wallpapers and textiles elevate interiors.

Quality velvets – it is hard to beat a sofa in some gorgeous deep-coloured velvet.

Mix of materials – you see a lot of quite contrasting textures and materials brought together in one space. I think this juxtaposition creates interest.


Elena, thank you so much for your time, it’s been a pleasure! 

Dear readers, if I’ve missed something out and you have any questions for Elena, please add them to the Comments section below.

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Trend Report: Autumnal Reds In Interiors

As I sit at my table writing this post I am looking out of the window onto my sunlit garden but you can tell that autumn is well and truly here now. At the back of the garden I can see my neighbours’ tree covered in beautiful bright red and orangey leaves. When my interior magazines arrived at the beginning of the month I noticed that these autumnal colours are reflected in interiors this season. Just look at the covers of Elle Decoration.


Elle Decoration November 2018

The trend seems to be an extension and evolution of fashion for pink, but while I enthusiastically embraced dusty pinks and still completely in love with them, my attitude to red particularly in interiors has been difficult.

I always preferred to stay away from them as they brought to mind images of old dilapidated hotels and pubs. But their contemporary interpretation offers some striking examples. If used extensively it is bound to make an impact but it is for the brave. Just look look at this bold usage of colour in the interior below!


by Romain Ricard

The trend is embraced by a variety of major brands.

Farrow & Ball that have recently launched a set of 9 new colours have added similarly rich Preference red to its palette. Their colour consultant Joa Studholme comments in her interview with Elle Decoration that the colour with its Baroque quality is reminiscent of ancient drapes used in Venetian palaces. Thinking about this it is exactly the associations deep reds evoke in me. However instead of drapes it is now being used in contemporary looking design and decor updating it for modern day.


Farrow and Ball Preference Red

But the autumnal colour palette is not only about deep burgundy reds. It is also about rusty orange and dark pinks, like another new Farrow & Ball colour Sulking Room Pink, inspired by traditional ladies’ boudoirs, not as dramatic but so beautiful, soft, warm and easy to use.


Farrow and Ball Sulking Room Pink

And as for the autumn rust I can’t resist including this simple yet striking image with an interior by Natalie Dubrovska, where rust colour is expertly used as an accent in an neutral environment.


Design: Natalie Dubrovska, Dubrovska Studio

Many brands have adopted the trend and feature interiors and products in these colours. Ferm Living has a particularly extensive selection in this colour scheme.


Ferm Living


If you want to update your home with on of these colours of the season, there are multiple choices on the market at the moment. Here is my selection from some of my favourite brands:




Salon Purse – Flower Rust, Ferm Living £59 / “Lia” bedspread, House Doctor from £154 / “Loafer” armchair by Space Copenhagen, from £1,595, &Tradition / Plant Box, Ferm Living £159 / String Pocket Shelf, Made In Design £115 / Abstract Cushion Wine, Tom Dixon £100 / Stoneware cup, H&M 4.99 / Beetle Lounge Chair, Gubi, from €1,299.00

Featured image: The Home by Ferm Living




The Highlights of London Design Fair 2018

Last Sunday was the final day of London Design Festival. The major events across London included Decorex International, Design Junction, Focus at Chelsea Harbour, London Design Fair as well as multiple design events and installations hosted by museums, galleries and shops. With so much going on and so little time it’s very hard to choose. My choice was limited by the fact that I only had one free day available – 23rd September, the last chance before the festival came to an end. This year I opted to visit Shoreditch district and went to check out London Design Fair.

With 36 countries participating in the fair, there was loads to see but I quickly realised that most of my favourite products fell into a couple of categories. I really like discovering artisan made individual and natural products, and there were quite a few ceramics manufacturers whose work attracted my attention. Have a look at these.


Camilla Webb Carter produces her work in a workshop in London. I particularly liked her decorative hexagonal tiles that can be arranged into a wall composition.



Dor & Tan studio in St. Ives – minimal, natural and with Eastern influences.



Ceramics by Louise Madzia made in Amersham and Stoke-on-Trent – love the chunkiness of shape and illustrations.



I love these delicate bowls, found on a stand representing a group of Spanish ceramicists. These were made by Fani Sanchez Barreiro Ceramica.


Talking about natural and handmade, Maria Sigma is an award winning London based textile brand specialising in “zero waste” ethical hand-woven textiles. Their home textiles – floor cushions, rugs, throws have great texture and pattern – traditional with a contemporary feel.

I have also noticed quite a few really interesting and useful products for kids.

Korean lifestyle brand Kom til mig was showcasing whimsical soft toys, textiles and stationary. They are yet to find a stockist in Britain but I am sure they will have no problem.


Recycled plastic was a big theme of the fair and Ecobirdy brand from Belgium came up with an imaginative idea to make children’s furniture out of old plastic toys. On their website you can learn more about the journey plastic makes to the finished product and they even created a children’s story book about it!



I love metal locker style storage for kids room, but apart from a couple of brands there isn’t a lot of choice out there. Mustard is the company that makes two options, a short one that can be used as a bedside table and a slim and tall one that can be mixed and matched to create a wardrobe with hangers and shelves. The lockers come in six beautiful contemporary colours that would even look good combined together like shown below.


A stand by Japanese Haru Stuck-on Design introduced me to the marvels of washi tape and showed me multiple ways of how it could be used as wall art for kids room or as a crafts tool to unleash kids creativity onto their space without lasting damage. Tape comes in a variety of patterns and colours so creative possibilities are endless. You can see collages on the wall that were made by kids – creative and mess free as far as I can tell.



Another brand that I was drawn to was Darkroom who exhibited their concrete planters in signature pattern.


And finally, the most impressive stand of the fair for me has got be Danish design stand!

Really liked the brands represented there as well, Dottir  for ceramics, M&R – love their simple round wooden mirror, Noorstad for wooden furniture.




As I was in the area I also popped to Redchurch st. where Superfront joined forces with Original BTC to open a pop up show room. I am a big fan of Superfront and have a Besta sideboard with their fronts, as well as some handles on my wardrobes, I also plan to add another piece of furniture for my living room at some point, so it was very interesting to see some of their furniture combinations and available colours close up. They also, as you can see, do bathroom vanity units with golden basins – and I do need a new bathroom!



And finally, after a busy day in Shoreditch, my secret place to relax, away from the busy cafes – something I discovered when we stayed in the area for the night – is Citizen M hotel, just around the corner. They have a large beautifully decorated lounge on the first floor where you can have a drink and some simple food or a cake away from the crowds and if you need to work on your computer, they have plenty of space for it too. And this is what I found at the entrance – part of the design festival!


Designers Guild Warehouse Sale!

Passing information about this warehouse sale to anyone who might be interested. What a shame I won’t be able to go! I hope you will pick up some good bargains!

Enjoy up to 75% OFF Fabric, Wallpaper, Bed & Bath and Home Accessories

Friday 21st September 10.00 – 18.00
Saturday 22nd September 09.00 – 16.00
Sunday 23rd September 10.00 – 14.00

FREE PARKING – Postcode for car park – NW10 7PS

Designers Guild, Unit 10, Matrix Park,
900 Coronation Road, London NW10 7PH


Trend Report: Fringe Light

Fringe lights are one of the biggest trends this season, but I first fell in love with them a few years ago when I discovered the original 1960-s fringe chandeliers by Hans-Agne Jakobsson.

Hans-Agne Jakobsson designs can be found for example on where they go for about £4,000 and more.

Another one I have later discovered that just took my breath away, is this one by Dimore Studio. This one is truly amazing, but judging by the picture at the top of the post, not only my budget would never stretch to it, my house would not be big enough either.


A few years ago before fringe became big again I also came across Curiousa & Curiousa. They specialise in handmade glass blown lamp shades in multiple colours – beautiful designs. And they have a model with a very long fringe – a statement light.


These are gorgeous lights, but how about something more affordable?

Not to worry, at the moment there are plenty of choice that can suit different budgets. I have researched the market and here is my extensive selection of what’s currently available. I hope you will be able to find the one for you.

Items clockwise:

Anthropologie Fela Tasseled Chandelier £228.00 | Anthropologie Fringed Chandelier £398.00 | Anthropologie Fela Tasseled Chandelier £228.00


Items clockwise:

Rockett St George All Over Velvet Table Lamp With Fringe £120.00 |Lampe de table Table lamp – / Fringed fabric – Bloomingville £99 | Oliver Bonas Nappa Fringed Table Lamp £115 | Nunido Pascha Pendant Lamp £115.00 |Rockett St. George Three-Tier Fringe Chandelier £165.00 |Wink Pendant – / Fringes – L 60 cm – Houtique £495.00


Anna Hayman Designs DecoFabulous Gold & Black Bibana Lamp Shade £295


Items clockwise:

House of Hackney MEY MEH ‘Tilia’ Blush Lampshade with Flamingo Lampstand £375.00 | Urban Outfitters Large Blue Bird Fringe Pendant Light Shade 85.00€ | Rothschild & Bickers Vintage Light £485.00 RRP