When I first started writing this post I was optimistic the children would be back at school tomorrow and we would be back in the office catching up on the festive madness. But nothing has gone quite to plan the last 12 months so it’s not surprising that I’ve re-written this introduction at 9.08pm after a large glass of red wine (breaking dry January) and the news that we are back in dreaded ‘lockdown’.
Lockdown 1: I had this whimsical expectation that I would have days to clean my house, hang pictures that had propped against walls for months, sort out drawers, deep cleaned the patio and the list goes on. The reality is that I achieved only one of these between work and home schooling. In fact, it was my husband who achieved the ‘one’ and that was to jet wash the patio, which now looks like it needs doing again!
Lockdown 2: When the tree comes down and house looks bare I, like many of you, feel like this is the time to freshen up the house, re-decorate or have a complete change of style. Whilst it would be wonderful to have the luxury of re-decorating every January, there is very little chance that this would be financially or practically possible.
However, here are some Charlested tips to giving your rooms that fresh feel for 2021…
Let’s look at your living room space;
First things first, remove all accessories from the room and move them into another room or space, including coffee table books, plants, cushions, photo frames, candleholders, rugs, in fact everything that sits on top of surfaces. Clear the room as much as possible to its bare bones.
Now, where possible take down mirrors and art work on the walls. There will be lots of hooks and drill holes but don’t panic it maybe that some of these pieces will return to their original home but if not it maybe that other items will replace them.
It’s not always easy to remove furniture but if you have help, and room to do so, take out small pieces like coffee tables, occasional chairs, side tables.
Time to Mrs Hinch...
Now it’s time to clean, get the hoover around the ceiling to wall corners, skirting boards and hidden corners. Give remaining surfaces a clean and a final polish. Use carpet cleaners for any area that are particularly bad and freshen up upholstery where necessary. Launder cushion covers and steam clean or hoover blinds where you can.
Colour & Decoration
If you’re feeling brave for a change but can’t manage a whole room re-decorate then altering the colour of woodwork in a room can instantly give a lift. If a room is small with low ceilings and you are trying to achieve a feeling of space then ensure the skirting boards and ceilings are the same colour as the walls. If you have a larger space then changing up the colour of the woodwork to contrast your walls is a great option. Going a tone two or three shades darker than your wall colour is a safe option. We like to use eggshell for a less shine finish as opposed to gloss. If painting isn’t an option then give woodwork a good clean down as this area often makes a room look tired.
Now is the exciting bit… clear your head of everything you have taken out of the room and spend some time imagining how you would like the room to look.
Here are some tips to planning:
Putting small pieces in a small room doesn’t necessarily make the room feel spacious. Don’t be afraid to try larger pieces in a small room. It will give the room a sense of scale. If you imagine lots of small pieces in a small box it will look busy and can look messy but some key larger pieces spaced well will make the box look larger and have more impact.
Maybe things will work better elsewhere…
Before you start putting pieces back into the room remember that not everything HAS to be moved back in to the room. It maybe that now the room is empty you can see that things will work better elsewhere.
Styling your furniture
Before anything else returns to the room start by moving around existing larger furniture and remember that its ok to try and move sofas and chairs away from walls rather than pushing everything up into corners or snug to surfaces. Most importantly, ensure there is a comfortable walk way around and through the room.
Rugs & Cushions
If you have a rug to return to the room consider if its large enough for the space. Again a rug that is too small will draw the room inwards and make it look smaller. If this is the case it maybe worth leaving the rug out or using elsewhere in the house. Rugs will ideally sit slightly under seating within the room.
As you begin building back cushions onto your sofa be really selective of which cushions and textures of material work with your sofa and seating. This maybe an area you refresh with some new additions. Take the colour of your seating as a base and mix and match cushions with this running through. Depending on the depth of your seating, we use 2 – 3 cushions of varying sizes on each corner, mixing in oblong or lumbar cushions for very large sofas.
Table Top and Lighting
Side tables are fabulous for styling lamps. We always go big with our lamp bases and we like lighting to provide variations in height within the room whether it be a floor or table lamp. If space doesn’t allow a coffee table then we recommend a nest or nests of side tables so that you dress with books and accents.
Image credit: @clairetotmandesign instagram (right)
If you are lucky enough to have the space for a coffee table dress with a tray, candle, coffee table books and our must-have greenery or fresh stems. Keep coffee table accessories low to the eye. When thinking of shapes try to mix up sharp and soft edges. If your coffee table has sharp edges then keep side tables to rounded shapes and vice versa.
Image credits: @burbeckinteriors
Alongside lamps, candlelight is key to atmosphere during the winter months. Accessorise a mantle, side tables or coffee table with candles and burn as soon as the natural light starts to disappear. If we don’t have time to light a fire then candlelight offers a perfect compromise.
Mirrors and Wall hangings
Hanging a mirror in your room will create a feeling of light and space. As a rule of thumb if a mirror hangs above a piece of furniture whether it be a console table, a sofa or mantle it will ideally sit slightly smaller than the piece below it so that it doesn’t take over the space and drown the furnishing below. Don’t be afraid to hang or prop a mirror lower than you think to ensure it is within your eye line. Often mirrors are hung too high. If you have mirrors in other parts of the house maybe try these in your living room and play around with different frames and edgings to see which best suits this room. It may be the one you least expect.
Like with mirrors, artwork above furniture should be slightly smaller than the furniture below it. We love hanging artwork in pairs vertically but for projects it is often easier to use larger pieces that fill a space and have a big impact. For single pieces hang at eye level and again make sure they aren’t too hung too high. For hanging pairs vertically aim for eye level at the base of the top piece of art. The key to artwork is to be brave and get it hung up rather than propped on the floor as I do!!!
Similar to tables and furniture the shape of mirror we choose depends on the furniture it sits alongside or above. If the furniture has sharp, squared edges then the mirror we chose will be rounded, oval or arched. If the furniture, console or sofa has soft rounded edges then we choose a squared edge mirror.
After the tree comes down…inject green back into your life
Image credit: @vickiejoneshome instagram (left)
Green is everywhere for 2021 but we’ve always included an element of green in all our schemes. Whether it be faux or real or a mixture of both, green brings life into a room. As you know we love eucalyptus, olive trees and soft green stems. When we design a scheme we usually introduce fresh stems in one area and then a preserved moss bowl or faux trees and plants to maintain key pieces that don’t require maintenance in other spaces around the room. Group smaller pots and bowls to make more impact rather than lots of different pieces around the room. A larger tree or plant in a basket or rustic pot will break up the strong lines of furniture, mirrors and artwork. Use small pots like single bookends or place onto of simple stacks of books.
Happy Re-styling…be brave and experiment!