Playing the (interiors) game

I am always very flattered to be asked for advice: I do see a lot and I have collected a mine of design information and knowledge over the years, so friends often ask me for my decorating thoughts. I have actually put together a decorating ‘game’. People seem to love it, so I should really try and publish it, I could probably put something together online actually.

Delighted when people find it useful: there really is nothing more satisfying than seeing someone putting their home together with a knowing flair and avoiding expensive mistakes and they often, very kindly, assure me that it is thanks to my game.

One such friend is the beautiful Kate Brown, her attractive house in Haddington has been home to her and her daughter for a number of years now and she knew that it needed a radical makeover. Tired and edging towards shabby rather than chic, she was starting to panic and planning to wildly overspend as she felt desperate measures were required.

She invited me round and we played my interiors game. It got us off to a flying start and enabled Kate to see her home with a fresh and much more informed eye.

The TV corner needed a cosying up with a fire. The dining room was cluttered and cramped. The hallway was rather gloomy and ‘bitty’…

Kate had been despairing of her pine clad stairwell and was seriously considering tearing a wall down and having the living room open to the hall.

Instead, she simply painted the pine cladding with a chalky off white paint. It looks so cool and ‘meant’.

The internal window that brings light into the stairway, no longer seems like an oddity, cleaned up, it is a useful spot for display.

Kate realised that she did not need to start knocking walls down and undergo a really expensive overhaul: complete overkill. A hall open to the living room is not nice in our chilly Scottish climate: movie nights, under a snugly blanket with the fire on should NOT be open to the front door, nor should intimate dinners. A drinks reception could be held in a drawing room open to the hall, but you can hold a drinks party in your living room with the door open for the night – you don’t need to rip a wall down!

All she needed to do was to carefully ‘edit’ her home and use the correct style choices to achieve a really effective finish with minimal effort and expense: do it right, do it once.

I have been back for a visit now it is complete and was stunned by the results.

The living room had great elements already – a huge sofa and a gorgeous painting, Kate kept the curtaining plain and added a voile layer to protect her against the sun, a solution that was easily compatible with the new patio door.

Kate could not stretch to a wood burning stove for the time being, so installed this very simple, electric fireplace for cosy nights watching movies. She invested in a super stylish coffee table and media unit from the brilliant Scaffa, who specialise in making furniture from reclaimed scaffolding planks.

The dining area has been hugely improved by a thorough clear out and Kate has painted the dated, but good quality, chunky pine furniture in a soft palette of Annie Sloan ivory and white paints.

The bookshelf, no longer overflowing, has been moved and also benefited from a good paint – so easy!!

The hallway is probably the piece de resistance, unified, bright and welcoming.

Kate’s bedroom is now a stunning sanctuary, with her state of the art storage system from Sharps and some really cool, ethnic textiles picked up in TK Maxx. You can see it before in the thumbnails above.

A bathroom makeover was a bit of a ‘must-do’ as well and her luxurious solution completes her home perfectly…


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