Friday, 18 December 2009

Setting Out the Perfect Christmas Dining Table

Yorkshire Post Mid-Week Life & Style Section - 16th December 2009


The look of the dining table is pivotal to a successful Christmas dinner. It goes a long way to create the perfect atmosphere for enjoyable family festivities.

Before you consider your decorating scheme consider how you will accommodate all of your guests. If your table is unlikely to be large enough, but your dining area is, avoid the dreaded “overflow table” and expand the top by visiting your hardware store and having them cut a piece of hardboard to the dimensions and shape you require. You will find that this extra large surface is surprisingly stable when placed on top of a normal sized table (although table dancing will be out of the question!). You can then just dress it with a table cloth or a large coloured bed sheet – it costs a few pounds and no one will notice!

If your family meals are anything like mine, then you are likely to be at the table for a long time, so ensure that you have a few extra seat cushions available for those who might not have as much “personal” padding! It can also be a boon for younger members of the family who need some extra height to help them enjoy the spirit of the adult table!

Keep a theme in mind and work this through the entire table. Start your decorating scheme with a centre piece to set the tone; a glass bowl or vase filled with glitter sprayed pine cones or assorted baubles in your chosen colours is a simple, but effective option. Alternatively, twigs and nuts sprayed in gold or silver, combined with wired ribbon and oranges pierced with cloves or coated with glitter look fantastic and need not cost the earth.

Choose the size of your decorations carefully to avoid blocking the view of other diners or taking up too much room needed for serving dishes. Follow this colour scheme through with table linen, candles, crackers and cushions – a handful of table glitter or a scatter of fake jewel beads add a delightful hint of indulgence.

For a rich, traditional and opulent feel then the classic deep red and gold has to be the order of the day. Heavy, warm colours will give your table a lovely cocoon feeling, gathering your guests together against the cold winter exterior.

Alternatively, for a look of cool sophistication that hints at understated luxury, dress your table in crystal and silver with in a dash of light sapphire blue.

For my money, starched table linen always feels extra special, so go the whole hog and let rip with the spray can when you do the ironing pre-Christmas. It also makes it much easier to create all of those incredible sculptures with napkins that every table should have at this time of year.

Over head lighting should be dimmed to enhance the feeling of cosiness. Remember, that there is nothing more romantic, or flattering, than candlelight, so invest in some interesting candlesticks and choose candles that complement your scheme. Small tea lights on the table also work well in votives or cut glasses, but do be mindful that they get hot and need care and attention if party poppers are in the offing!

Finally, beware the allure of a real fire in older properties. They are romantic and heart-warming, but you need to ensure that there is enough room between the fire and the table (or be ready to instigate a rotating seating plan) to avoid making the guests sitting directly in front of it wonder if they are actually being roasted for the main course!

Jamie Hempsall is one of the regions leading Interior Designers and a member of BIDA. For more information visit his website or call him on 01777 248463.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Check our the Private Fitness Studio we just completed for Outklass Fitness

We've just completed a fitness studio in Nottinghamshire for Outklass Fitness who specialise in one to one personal training.  The emphasis was on quality and practicality to reflect their core values.  The design included plenty of natural finishes (wood, stone & leather) with luxury changing rooms and discrete offices for mentor sessions.

See full details at:

Monday, 23 November 2009

Temporary bed solutions to beat the Christmas Crush!

Yorkshire Post - Wednesday 18th November 2009

Interiors - Sleeping Solutions

Christmas is a time for seeing friends and family, but sometimes the logistics can be a nightmare.  Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall looks at how to beat the crush.

If your family is anything like mine, then you will now be involved in delicate negotiations over who is going where for Christmas. The coming weekss can often lead to houses bursting at seams with a steady parade of friends, relations and well-wishers.

Critical to the success of any celebration has to be the sleep solutions to ensure that all of your revellers can settle down for a decent nights rest after a day of fun – to awake bright and early to help you with the clearing up (or at least make you a cup of tea when you have finished it!).

If you have more guests than bedrooms it can be a bit of a challenge, but there are plenty of stylish and practical solutions out there to help you provide superb accommodation; without having to move home.

One of the great inventions of the modern age has to be the inflatable mattress, which nowadays seem to have reached new heights of sophistication (quite literally with raised models the same height as a normal bed).

No longer the uncomfortable beach lilos that many of us were used to in childhood, these options now often come with “no roll together” zones and integrated motors so that no one need get a hernia trying to inflate them.

Their key advantage has to be that whilst offering sleeping room equivalent to a full size bed, they often fold up to the size of a small bag when not in use (perfect for storing in cupboards or the loft). Consider solutions from Aerobed (; 00 800 00 20 20 00 – from £59.99) or Scotts of Stow (; 0844 482 5555 – from £69.95).

Chair beds are another great solution, particularly in child or teenage bedrooms where they can successfully lead a double life as an everyday piece of furniture and a quick sleepover solution.

These are both practical and reasonable and are likely to see more use throughout the year as you welcome a few more school friends over. Most seem to favour colours and designs appropriate for a youthful decorating solution, so you may not be as keen to feature them in your living room.

Children’s furniture and accessory company, ASPACE, offer the terrific Dotty Chair Bed (£245; – 0845 872 2400) which is also available in Blue & White Stripes. On a similar vein B&Q sell the Pumpkin Teens 2 Bed Candy Stripe (£75; or visit your local store).

If you have a little more room and a bigger budget then the trusty sofa bed is the ideal solution. The key to choosing a great bed solution is to check the depth of the mattress that you will be offering, some are frankly too thin and you might as well let your guests sleep on the floor.

Additionally, check the width of the sleep area available as frames can often be a lot smaller than a normal bed and not exactly comfortable for two grown adults to share. If you are going to house this in a living room, rather than a bedroom or study, check that they are also comfortable to sit on to ensure you do not end up with a white elephant.

The Multy from Ligne Rosset offers a super chic solution for the modern interior (from £1,928; – 0870 777 7202).

Whatever your chosen solution, send your guests off to bed with a selection of warm hot water bottles and you are guaranteed to create cherished memories of family sleepovers that will last for years to come.

Jamie Hempsall is one of the region’s leading interior designers and a member of BIDA. Visit him at or contact him on 01777 248463.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Charity starts at your home for a minimalist makeover

Yorkshire Post - 4th November - Mid Week Life & Style Section


Give your unwanted furniture to a good cause and give yourself the gift of space. Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall reveals the best ways to declutter and donate.

Give your unwanted furniture to a good cause and give yourself the gift of space. Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall reveals the best ways to declutter and donate.

Over the coming weeks spare rooms across the country are likely to become filled with wrapping paper, tags and presents as the nation prepares for Christmas. Add the imminent arrival of garlands, trees, Christmas cards and decorations and you have a recipe for some pretty congested accommodation.

To help minimise feelings of reduced living space undertake an autumnal “stock check” around your home. Commence your de-clutter by stepping back and viewing everything objectively – have you hung on to odd pieces of furniture or perfectly good soft furnishings for years because “you might be able to use them somewhere”, but are never likely to? Are your shelves heavy with bits and pieces that you have never got around to sorting out? Setting yourself the objective to have a good clear out as the dark nights draw in can be extremely liberating as you open up your interior space – space that you will be seeing a lot of over the next few months when you get outside less!

Once you have cleared, why not do a bit of good by donating your treasured, but superfluous interiors items to a local charity – either for them to sell on or to use in shelters or other accommodation?

The notion of de-cluttering and donating is a trend that has celebrity endorsements with the likes of Barbra Streisand and Elton John “consolidating” their possessions and donating the proceeds of sell offs to charity.

If you go ahead bear in mind the charity donation mantra of Mary Portas and the Association of Charity Shops “Donate, Don’t Dump”. Look hard at what you are clearing out. If it has a useful life then donate it, but if it is very worn or broken consider the best method for recycling (although ultimately some things really do just have to go to the tip!).

Before loading the car and heading off to your local charity HQ or store, check what they can and cannot accept to avoid a wasted journey. Some charities are well set up to handle larger items of furniture (e.g. the British Heart Foundation has dedicated outlets). They may even be able to help with collections; however, not every shop can cope with them.

Whilst you are checking, find out whether you can “gift aid” your donation. If you are a standard or high rate tax payer the charity may be able to claim back tax on the estimated value of your gift (increasing its worth by 25%): no cost to you, but a great benefit to the receiving charity.

Giving is not only good for your chosen cause, but also for the environment as donating to charity shops means customers have a low carbon footprint: no further energy or resources are required to create the goods you donate. Reusing goods also prevents them from being sent to landfill and according to the Association of Charity Shops UK charity shops’ reuse activity alone helps reduce CO2 emissions by about 2.5 million tonnes p.a.

Of course, whilst you are in an outlet donating, you might well find a few vintage pieces that someone else has donated which fit your requirements perfectly. Elements of interior trends regularly re-surface and charity shops are a terrific and economical source of original treasures that can be re-used or adapted for inclusion in your latest scheme. Frequent visits may be required, but just one wonderful find can save you a fortune.

Everyone says that “charity begins at home” and this is a terrific way to make that a reality.

Jamie Hempsall is a member of the British Interior Design Association and one of the region’s leading interior designers. Visit him at

Monday, 26 October 2009

Get turned on to feature lighting

As the nights draw in, lighting becomes ever more important in any room we are living in: not only from a practical, but also a decorative perspective. The amount of light and its positioning will drastically affect the look and feel of any room – and during a long winter this can also considerably alter your mood for good or bad. A floor (or standard) lamp is exceptionally important as a lighting option in the home – most notably in general living areas where is can be useful in providing more general light than a table lamp, without the harsh glare often found from overhead lighting.

Uplighter floor lamps feature an inverted shade that, as the name suggests, cast light upwards making a great alternative to a ceiling light, giving a warm glow that provides a softer, more forgiving background for your room. These can be particularly useful in the working environment as an alternative to neon bulbs and may help those who suffer from headaches or eyestrain.
Floor lamps are particularly useful in dark corners or in areas that other lighting may not reach.

The Monochrome Standard Lamp from The Baobab Tree is a great example of an updated corner classic, using recycled lamp bases in black gloss teamed with traditional lampshades recovered with a patchwork of luxury fabrics (£165; – 0845 388 1475).

Where more direct light is needed, they also make practical task lamps: perfect for reading by. To give the best possible reading environment ensure that the light is cast from behind the reader’s shoulder to provide optimum light, with the bottom of the lampshade roughly at seated eye-level to minimise glare.

The Pimlico Tripod Boom Arm from Artemis is a beautiful example of an adaptable, contemporary task lamp. It comes in three metal finishes to suit any scheme and simply oozes modern chic (from £620; contact Jamie Hempsall Ltd for details – see below). For task, with a hint of “tongue-in-cheek”, look out for the 70 year anniversary edition of the Anglepoise lamp in Anthracite Grey. At three times life size it does require a little more room than your standard desk lamp, not to mention a slightly larger bank balance (£1,909; – 02392 224450: pictured at the top of the article).

If you have the luxury of re-planning your electrics consider including some floor recessed plug sockets in the main body of your room. These allow you to position floor lamps away from walls without the trip hazard of snaking cables. Hide your sockets under pieces of furniture for minimal visual impact.

A great floor lamp to use within a room is the Blenheim Wooden Standard Lamp which also features an integrated table top to hold mugs or your current favourite read (£185; – 01473 828989).

Of course, floor lamps can also stand alone as a tremendous piece of lighting sculpture serving no other purpose than to complete your scheme or to add an intriguing talking point. If this idea appeals you should consider the intriguingly named “Light Shade Shade” lamp from Rume. The outside shade is a one way mirror that reflects its environment when not illuminated. However, when turned on it reveals a hidden vintage lamp to give comfort and character to any room (£1,652; – 01273 777 810).

Alternatively, enthusiastic equestrians simply have to adore the Moooi Horse Designer Floor Lamp. At 16 hands it is about the size of a thoroughbred and is sure to keep everyone talking throughout those long winter evenings! (£2,980; – 08456 448022).
Jamie Hempsall is a member of the British Interior Design Association and one of the region’s leading interior designers. Visit him at or contact him on 01777 248463.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

The Key to Successful Monochrome Interiors

Yorkshire Post - 7th October 2009 - Life & Style Section : Homes


Throughout the last century there have been distinct periods when monochrome interiors have been very in vogue.

From the cutting-edge innovations of the 1920s and '30s, through the Woolworth Homemaker revolution in the late 1950s, to the hard lines of "me" generation excess in the 1980s, it's a trend that just keeps coming back. Monochrome might whisper of colour austerity, but it shouts cool, clear success.

This season sees the addition of monochrome designs from a number of fabric houses hinting we are about to enter a new age of pared-down design, offering more simple magnificence. If executed correctly, monochrome interiors offer the householder a chance for simple and subtle sophistication.

Current designs are a lifetime away from the brash 1980s, having a much softer feel to them – evoking the understated optimism of the 1950s.To achieve a successful monochrome interior apply the old adage "less is more". Keep window treatments very simple – use drapes or blinds in clean lines to frame your view of the colourful exterior world. Use plain pelmets to hide tracks or eyelet curtains to provide a straight drop for your drapes that will show off any fabric design at its best.

Monochrome is defined as a picture or painting executed in different shades of a single colour. If working with a black palate, incorporate various shades of grey to enhance the design. Plan your scheme with plenty of space to avoid any feeling of overcrowding – the look you should aim to achieve is light and airy.
The Multimedia range of printed cottons from Prestigious Textiles (; 01274 688448) sets the pace for some of today's designs. It includes a stylised floral, a grand-scale specimen peony and retro-negatives of urban architecture, echoed in a broad stripe and check. They have stuck to simple colour stories, led by the monochrome Granite. Fabrics range from around £9.60 per metre.

Black and white is one of the most recognised and easily executable forms of monochrome. Avoid an overblown scheme with a "visual treat" in your room by adding a feature piece in a strong, bright colour: a vase, cushion or a colour picture on the wall. Ensure this is a definite statement, not a timid hint; pink and turquoise are particularly effective when used in this fashion.Designers Guild show the impact of an additional colour to great effect in the images of their new Darly range which includes Padgett prints (£49/m) and wallpaper (£42/roll) featuring bold geometric designs with a neoclassical architectural inspired motif (; 020 7351 5775).

Black and white pictures look terrific in this environment (with the introduction of a single colour always adding impact – consider the sunflower in the original WI nude calendar): present with plenty of space around them on a bare white wall for maximum impact.Add interest to your scheme by introducing a variety of textures and finishes in both your furniture and soft furnishings.The Manzi collection from the Liberty Furnishing range by Osborne & Little includes classic wide black and white stripes or dog-tooth inspired checks in a pure cotton satin finish a luxurious feel with the advantage of a stain-resistant Teflon finish from around £45/m (; 020 7352 1456).Keep floors bare or covered in a plain colour, avoid patterns, but introduce texture with the addition of a single colour rug.
Remember you do not have to stick to black; brown also works well particularly if you are going for subtle chic (consider Persian Tulip wallpaper from Zoffany at £85 per roll –; 0844 543 4748), whilst red hints at night-time glamour; ideal for a bedroom or spectacular dining room.
Jamie Hempsall is one of the region's leading interior designers, see more of his designs at or contact him on 01777 248463.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Importance of a good brief

At Jamie Hempsall Ltd we know clients come to us because they want innovative solutions that are practical for everyday living and working. A good client brief is essential to guarantee an end result everyone is happy with. However, it can be difficult for a client to write one on their own as they often have little experience.

We find the best way to develop the brief is a collaborative process involving face to face meetings during which we guide the client with a range of questions, resulting in a document they review and amend where necessary.

We start by getting clients to find images in books and magazines that appeal to them. Not specific items, but general views or colours that they “just like”. This gives great incite into their subconscious loves.

We then establish the real use the room will have, both immediately and over the next few years; discussing the make-up of the household, who visits, who will use the room and the sort of things that will go on there. This avoids ending up with a beautiful room that the client dare not let anyone near! It also guides us through choices of finish – young families need attractive, but bomb proof fabrics, whilst more mature households can consider delicate options.

A lot of clients initially want to avoid discussing budget, but being open really helps. A firm budget avoids wasted effort on all fronts. We discuss the overall amount, but also where it should be concentrated. You can still get a great result without everything having to cost a fortune, you just have to be careful how you achieve it and not loose the integrity of the design.

A final signed brief, agreed by all, avoids nasty surprises and, in our fourteen years experience, always guarantees a successful conclusion.

Jamie Hempsall, BIDA
Jamie Hempsall Ltd
[; (t) 01777 248463;(e)]

The company undertakes domestic and commercial interior design projects throughout the UK. Recent contracts have included the complete redevelopment & refurbishment of a 27-room Victorian home in Oldham, the development of a 20 room Aparthotel in Chesterfield, the design of a new bar in Wickersley and various domestic developments throughout London and the local region.

The company is proud to support Macmillan Cancer Support, the Terrence Higgins Trust and the Bluebell Wood Hospice.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Jamie Hempsall Interiors transfer formal to fabulous

Yorkshire Post - Mid Week Life & Style Section - 23rd September 2009
It can be a wrench when you are considering re-decorating a room, particularly if you have spent considerable money on it in the past and it is wearing well.

I always advise clients to “leave well alone” if they have a room that they are regularly using and that is in good repair. However, I often find people are not making the best use of the space available in their homes by keeping entertaining space, such as a formal sitting room, when it would be better employed as an everyday area.

The idea of formal space is ingrained into many of us, but in this day and age is it really practical or pleasurable to dedicate rooms to your occasional guests at the expense of your everyday life?

With some of the amazingly resilient fabrics now on offer, you can ensure that a switch from formal, can still be fashionable and cope with even the hardest use by toddlers and young children – not to mention the odd careless adult!

I was recently invited to a home which had an attractive formal sitting room that the owners only really used at Christmas and the odd family gathering. It was still in excellent condition so the decision to change it was an important one and needed to have extra impact at the end.

The house had been extended in the 1970's which added extra length to the room, but meant the fireplace now appeared off-centre.My remit was to create a comfy sitting room for everyday use, with bomb proof fabric to accommodate heavy use by grown up children and grand-children. It had to be a room that everyone really wanted to go in everyday to relax; snug and cosy for winter was a must!

Firstly, I designed a warm colour palette - banishing the previous creams and yellows to make the room less intimidating (and more stain resistant!).

The room needed additional natural light, which was introduced by using Roman Blinds, rather than curtains and adding a large mirror at the furthest end of the room and behind the shelving in the library unit; reflecting light from windows directly opposite them back into the room.

New coving was used to disguise a difference in room height between the old and new house, as well as providing a channel for hi-fi wiring.

To avoid major re-development work the real fire was replaced with a remote control “living flame” unit: ending trips outside for logs and providing more interactive entertainment as the flames lit up at the touch of a button. The fire was housed in a bespoke library & storage unit, designed with a mixture of fake and real storage that allowed us to visually re-align the fire and re-position it back into the centre of the room.

More theatre was added by incorporating a flat screen TV hidden behind the fire and revealed by a remote control rise & fall system. Perfect for hiding the TV away when not in use.

Comfy and spacious sofas and chairs are critical to the success of any family sitting room. These were designed to specifically accommodate our clients’ leg and lounging requirements and were covered in soft, crushed velvet that is unbelievably hard-wearing!

Finishing touches included a tactile cushioned carpet, wall lights with silk shades to tone with the sofas and a console underneath the mirror.

The end result was a 30% increase in everyday living space and the transformation of a rarely used formal showpiece into a room that is now the heart of the home. Not to mention a very happy family.
Jamie Hempsall is a member of BIDA and one of the region’s leading interior designers. Visit him at or check him out on Twitter!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Do your home work and it will sell itself!

Yorkshire Post - Midweek Life & Style Section - 9th September 2009


In the past year or so, we have all felt the effect of the credit crunch in both our purses and the value of our homes and other investments. Whilst general indications seem to be that we are not yet out of the woods, there are apparently some green shoots in the housing market with buyers beginning to show interest again.

If you are looking to sell at present, you want to ensure that you get the best price in the quickest possible time. With a few simple tips and a modicum of investment you can ensure your property stands the best chance of enchanting your potential purchasers.

Many buyers make decisions based on emotion and do not see the potential in a home, unless it is staring them in the face. That spare double bedroom with an ironing board, sacks of rubbish and marked walls will be viewed as a box room unless it is presented tidily, with double bed – confirming how to use the room and that it will actually fit a double bed!

Start by taking an objective view about your house. Pretend you do not live there and see it through a stranger’s eyes. Do you see endearing charm or outright clutter? A shrine to minimalism or a sterile shell?

Remember the outside; no matter how great the interior, poor paintwork on the front door or unkempt grass guarantees the purchaser never even stops the car!
Exterior paint should be freshened to a good standard (scraped back, primed and filled – not just a quick coat over the top). The front door should be clean, in good condition, painted a welcoming colour such as green or brown (avoid red) with any door furniture polished to perfection. All garden areas must be neat and trimmed – it is a reflection on how well you maintain the rest of your property!

Show your home has space by getting rid of clutter – if you are not using something pack it away in the loft; it’s only until you move. However, avoid leaving things too sparse – personal touches like bowls of fresh flowers (local florists can be cheaper than you think!), well framed prints and co-ordinating soft furnishings make it feel like a home.

Keep your house tidy and spotless to ensure you can handle last minute viewings. Just because you have messy children, does not mean a perspective buyer must make allowances. Keep beds well made with pillows and duvets plumped. Fresh smells are a must, but don’t go over board with heavily scented room sprays (neutralisers are often the best bet). Air bedrooms every day and move dog beds out of small rooms. Using a steam cleaner can refresh the look of carpets and sofas, as well as getting rid of unwanted dirt and aromas.

Interior decoration is a valuable weapon. Surveys have shown that an “unfavourable” interior colour scheme can knock up to £3,000 off the value of a home. Remove highly personalised decoration schemes (vibrant colour choices or novelty themes) and present your home more simply. Favour light colours in your re-decoration, such as stone and oatmeal to give a feeling of warmth, space and cleanliness; avoid magnolia as this removes character and can feel cold. Woodwork should be scrubbed and touched up where appropriate.

Preparation takes time, a little money and can be a bit inconvenient until you sell. However, you will sell quicker than your ill-prepared competition, save valuable mortgage payments on a house you wish to leave and get on with the next stage of your life quicker. Now who can put a price on that?

Jamie Hempsall is a member of BIDA and one of the region’s leading interior designers. Visit him at or call on 01777 248463

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Make room to relax with a stylish conservatory

Yorkshire Post - 26th August 2009 - Life & Style Section : Homes


Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall looks at how to ensure your conservatory is a stylish and useful addition to your home.

We are frequently asked by clients how to ensure their conservatory is a space to be enjoyed all year round without being too hot in the summer or cold in winter. If we are working on a new design we deploy all of the latest technology (such as thermostatically controlled roof vents with rain sensors), but with a few adjustments any problem conservatory can be a wonderful addition to your home.Reasonable temperature and good ventilation are the keys to success.

Conservatories generate heat via solar gain; however, installing a heating system can extend the time you use it well into the evenings and winter months (particularly for a North facing room). Under-floor heating is especially useful, allowing a general flow throughout the room and ensuring your views and usable areas are uninhibited by radiators.It is also vital to have enough ventilation to prevent your room becoming stuffy, especially in South facing conservatories which tend to be exposed to longer hours of direct sunlight.

Jane Hindmast of Vale Garden Houses (; 01476 564433) advises that “you need to ensure cooler air enters the room through the sides, with hot air being expelled through the roof. Side ventilation can take the simple form of doors, side opening or top opening windows, with airflow being achieved through the use of roof vents, top hung windows or rising canopies.”

Ceiling fans also help control temperature. In the summer run them clockwise and reasonably fast to create a more directed down draft. In the winter reverse the direction of the fan and lower the speed to re-circulate warm air trapped at the top of roof without cooling it. Ensure your fan has blades large enough for the size of your conservatory; can run at variable speeds to allow maximum control and is not placed too near to the roof (to give it sufficient air to work with).

Blinds are not only decorative, but also help reduce heat and glare. Keep them simple so the focus remains on your exterior views and have blinds professionally made-to-measure to ensure the best fit. Sail cloth is a great fabric for ceiling panels and, if designed correctly, can be made to fold back so that they are barely visible when not in use. Roller blinds or wooden Venetian blinds are terrific for side windows and doors.

If choosing glass for a conservatory, opt for a specialist product such as Pilkington K Glass or Ultraframe’s Conservaglass which are designed to keep external heat out in the Summer, but reflect emissions from heating appliances back into the room in Winter. Both glasses also come in self-cleaning versions which will help preserve clear views and minimise maintenance.

Provide plenty of electrical points for flexible lighting from table lamps to maximise use throughout the year and add wall lights on dimmers to provide controllable ambience. A central ceiling hook that can carry considerable weight, with electrical provision, will allow you to include a feature chandelier (important if using your conservatory as a dining room) or a powerful fan.

To complete the look, furnishing should reflect the style of the rest of your home, with a nod to the outdoors. Remember it is a room, not an afterthought. Any furniture must be able to cope with rapid temperature change and heat. Avoid dark colours, especially reds, as these can quickly fade. Strong options are furniture made from Rattan (a climbing plant found in Malaysia) which is lightweight and durable or Lloyd Loom (a woven twisted paper wound around re-enforced wire) very popular in the 20s and 30s, but still cutting edge today. Consider the Babbington Range by Lloyd Loom of Spalding from £599. Upholstering your furniture in fabric designed for use outdoors will ensure both comfort and longevity.

Jamie Hempsall is a BIDA member and one of the region’s leading interior designers. See more hints and tips at his website or contact him on 01777 248463.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Pole stars add final touch to curtains

Yorkshire Post - 12th Aug 2009 - Life & Style Section : Homes


It's not just the drapes which make the window. Poles, tracks and pelmets are vitally important, as interior designer Jamie Hempsall explains

It is the attention to detail that makes the difference. This is particularly relevant when you are deciding on the design of your curtains and looking at how to hang them.

The final piece of dressing for any curtain is the pole, track or pelmet that is being used, combined with any method to drawer the curtain away from the window. It is no use just sticking with what was there in the first place – you need to consider your curtains and make bold design decisions.

A pelmet will cover the track and the top of the curtain, ideal for a plain heading. They can hide a variety of sins and add a significant decorative feature. We favour hard pelmets which keep their shape well over the long term. A simple design is preferable. Pelmets are best padded and upholstered in either the same fabric as the curtains or something that tones (for instance a plain fabric which picks up the feature colour from the main pattern).

Decorative headings such as pinch pleat or goblets work well with either a substantial pole (a minimum of 19mm diameter is essential) and rings, or the more decorative track systems available. The pole or track will be visible for the majority of time that the curtains are open, so the design is as an important a consideration as the fabric. Ensure you have enough hanging rings on a pole or gliders on a track to support your chosen design; there is nothing worse than seeing curtains hanging irregularly at the top because someone has stinted on the rings!

If opting for the modern curtain eyelet design the pole is definitely your only choice. Colour, pole width and eyelet size are important considerations. Never opt for less than 40mm rings and a complementary size pole, to ensure a substantial look. Nickel or gunmetal colours in a satin finish work best in modern schemes.

Eyelet curtains should hang straight to the floor, but other heading finishes benefit from the use of curtain tie-backs or hold-backs to sweep the curtain away from the window and create a dramatic feature. Tie-backs usually incorporate a loop that goes around the curtain and is then attached to a hook on the wall, where as a hold-back is fixed directly to a wall with curtains pushed behind it.

Many manufacturers produce co-ordinated ranges of poles & tracks that allow you to match finishes and finials with tie-backs or hold backs for a complete look.

The Soho range from Houles (see main picture) is very modern and super chic. It includes co-ordinated finials and tie-backs in rich, tactile finishes combined with a range of opulent colours to complete your look. Prices from £226.75 for a 180cm pole or £119.25 for a tieback ( - 020 7376 4430).

The Bradley Collection has a plethora of pole and finial designs to add a modern art feel to any room. Their Mio range boasts stainless steel finishes that will work in a variety of environments and finial choices that would not look out of place in a Barbara Hepworth Sculpture exhibition – prices range from around £236 for a 165cm pole with brackets, rings and two finials (www. – 0845 118 7224).

Finally, the modern home should also seek out the Lunar collection from stockists of Jones Interiors products. This 28mm pole collection features a beautiful array of wood, crystal and metal finials with co-ordinating hold-backs. Prices start at about £125 for a pole with brackets, rings and two finials and £40 for hold-backs (

Jamie Hempsall is a BIDA member and one of the leading interior designers in the region. Visit him at or contact him on 01777 248463.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Spice up your interiors with something on the side

Yorkshire Post - 29th July 2009 - Life & Style Section : Homes


Occasional tables, those little pieces that serve practical purposes in your rooms, can be one of the hardest things to find. When choosing a table you need to ensure that it meets both your practical and design requirements.

Before taking the plunge consider what the table will be used for and where it will sit in your scheme.

If you need a lamp table consider whether the base will hide electrical cables; if not, it can look extremely messy. However, a neat trick is to secure excess cable under the table with electrical tape. Run the remaining length to the plug down the outside of a leg situated against the wall, securing this in place at the top and bottom of the leg with an adhesive tape or poster tac that will not damage the finish of the leg if removed.

Consider the proportion of your table in relation to the lamp base, shade and surrounding furniture. Ensure that the table top does not swamp the lamp, but has a degree of visible free space to allow both pieces to work in harmony.

If it is holding a lamp, but also acting as a side table, the top must have enough additional space around the lamp base to fit the inevitable mug of coffee.When using a side table in conjunction with an armchair or sofa, it must be high enough for you to comfortably put down a cup without having to rise out of your seat. This will guarantee ultimate relaxation and no niggles! Sit on your sofa, height when making your decision.

To help you start your search, here is a small selection of my favourites.

The Lyon range from Willis & Gambier stockists reflects French rustic design, but updates it with clean modern lines in solid white oak and oak veneers (£419;

Bring a little of the outdoors inside with the quirky Twig Table by Julian Chichester which features a Cerused Oak table top and organic free form Golden Bronze legs (£1,017; – 020 7622 2928).

A more chunky wooden finish is evident in the exotic Ebony Side Table, which is part of the Puji Designer range (£645; – 020 8886 3000).

If you are looking for something different, how about the Acrylic Side/Lamp Table from Purves which is designed to resemble a floating cloth? Each table is original as they are all handmade in Denmark (£229; - 020 8893 4000).

Alternatively, why not embrace Napoleonic splendour with the new wooden or brass drum tables from Halo? Great fun and impossible to tell from the real thing! (£369; or contact Jamie Hempsall).

Look hard enough and you should find something to suit your needs. However, if you are still stumped, consider asking your local upholsterer to cover an MDF cylinder in a fire retardant fabric, personalise with a row or two of decorative studs around the top or base and add a glass top for a truly individual design.

Alternatively, seek out a local craftsman to design and manufacture a piece designed to your exact specifications.

Jamie Hempsall is a BIDA member and one of the region's leading interior designers. He is able to supply any of the above items. If you have any queries on furniture he is happy to hear from you. Contact him on 01777 248463 or visit his website

Tread carefully to choose a flawless floor

Yorkshire Post - 15th July 2009 - Life & Style Section : Homes


Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall explains how to avoid putting a foot wrong when choosing the best flooring option for your home.

Flooring is a make or break decision for any room. Choose well and you successfully set the tone for your scheme. Choose badly and you end up with a finish that jars and is expensive to replace; in terms of money, time and disruption.

Before parting with cash, draw up a list of key considerations, the most important of which are:

* The amount of wear the area will have.
* Is it subject to moisture?
* Does the floor need to act as a sound barrier?
* How slip resistant does it need to be?
* How much time are you willing to invest in maintaining your floor?
* Does anyone in the family suffer from allergies? Generally, the harder the surface, the healthier the floor.
* How durable is the product?
* Costs of material and installation?
* What sub-floor surface will you be laying on? For example, tiled floors cannot be laid directly onto floorboards, so you will incur extra cost for preparation.
* Budget. Generally you do get what you pay for.

Avoid being influenced by high fashion finishes, they may look great in the short term, but can quickly date and be an expensive short term indulgence.

Different floors have individual merits. Here are my guidelines to steer you in the right direction.

Resilient flooring – finishes that can bounce back to their original form after something is dropped on them; such as cork, linoleum and vinyl. A warmer alternative to hard surfaces such as tile. Flexible to lay (a good DIY project and helpful in difficult shaped areas), hardwearing and most finishes are bacteria resistant. Prices for most budgets.

Porcelain/ceramic tiles – easy to maintain and great in areas with moisture, or immediate access from the outside. Very hardwearing, but can be expensive. They require a level sub-floor and benefit from professional fitting. The overall effect can be harsh if not chosen well.

Wood – gives a rich, architectural finish and looks great stained or painted. It has a laid-back, rather than formal appearance. Not all floorboards look great, ensure yours are in good repair and of visual interest. Will require maintenance and show wear, but, if cared for, is a very durable surface. One of the most expensive options. Avoid if you have under-floor heating and opt instead for engineered planks. Requires specialist fitting.

Laminate – cheaper, quicker to fit for damp areas and can have a hollow sound when walked upon. Relatively easy to maintain, but needs care when installing.

Carpets and rugs – warm and help deaden noise. Not as durable as other surfaces and should not be installed in areas with moisture. Stain resistant treatments can help prolong its life. Probably the least hypo-allergenic option. Variety of price points, but a good underlay and professional fitting are essential for carpets. Rugs also provide a quick, cost-effective method to introduce contrast (such as texture or pattern).

Stone – the most permanent solution. Terrific for the minimalist look and excellent in wet areas. Cooler than other finishes, but good for underfloor heating as it retains warmth. Expensive and must be perfectly laid. Ideal for hallways in older properties and garden rooms.

Opting for a specific flooring type does not finish the design decision. For example, consider combining different types of hard surface, such as tile and steel, or break up a block of colour with borders or runners in a contrasting colour, material or pattern.

Alternatively, include contrasting textures in an area (such as carpet and stone), which can be both visually attractive and provide sensory stimulus.

Remember, preparation is paramount. A subfloor surface without lumps and bumps equals no trip hazards, easy installation and the longest life possible for your product.

Jamie Hempsall is one of the region's leading interior designers and a member of BIDA. He can be contacted on 01777 248463 or visit

Have bags of fun with cushions of many colours

Yorkshire Post - 17th June 2009 - Life & Style Section : Homes


They're practical, stylish and very underrated. Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall picks out cushions that could give your interior design scheme a real boost

Cushions are one of the unsung heroes of interior design. They are often overlooked or seen as unnecessary frippery.

However, a carefully considered cushion should be an extremely useful addition to your interior scheme.

The most frequent use for a cushion is to inject a blast of colour or pattern. However, it is essential to reference this colour to something
else in the room (a background colour on a piece of furniture or wallpaper; or a lampshade). This will ensure that the cushion provides a design focal point, rather than just being an after-thought.

You can give any room a quick (and cost-effective) facelift by replacing one set of cushions with another and then highlighting that change with accessories that pick up on the cushion's accent colour or design.

Using the cushion as a focal point can also help you bring an entire design scheme together. For example, in a bedroom you may wish to include cushions on the bed that draw inspiration from various areas in the room, maybe a combination of three fabrics or textures that relate to the headboard, curtains and the flooring.

The humble cushion also allows you to create an additional layer of texture to your room design.

Velvet works wonderfully when placed against a harder fabric (such as linen) as it gives a contrasting feel, but also a visual alternative.

Groups of cushions can re-invigorate furniture that has lost some of its original comfort.

Simply combine two or three cushions in different sizes at each end of the sofa (creating a symmetrical design) to create a cosy bolt hole to relax in. Remember not to overdo it though. Cushions should be there to enhance your furniture, you do not want so many that they appear overly fussy or have to be removed before you can contemplate sitting down or getting into bed.

Large cushions can also provide great "slouch wear" loved by teenagers (and quite a few adults) making a room feel informal and laid-back.

Oversized cushions can be a neater alternative to beanbags; perfect for lying around on, rather than sitting formally, when watching television or playing on games machines.

They are also relatively easy to store away should you wish to convert the room back into an "adult only" space.

The advent of "all weather" fabrics also means that you can now add comfort and introduce a feel of continental outdoor life to your external furniture, without worry of sun or rain damage. The addition of brightly coloured cushions will transform the look and feel of even the most basic garden furniture.

It is important that cushions look opulent. If making your own cushions or replacing the insides of cushion covers, ensure that they are filled to the maximum. You are far better using a cushion pad one size up to ensure a healthy stuffed look, rather than a limp, half- hearted pad of fabric.

An important point to remember is that cushions require maintenance to ensure they add, rather than detract from your room.

Saggy cushions make a room look unkempt. Feather cushions need regular plumping and all cushions should be replaced as they begin to flatten out with age. However, if your bedtime routine includes a quick cushion tidy-up, you will always be greeted with a great view in the morning.

Jamie Hempsall is a member of BIDA and one of the region's leading interior designers. or contact him on 01777 248463

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Discovering the fine art of clock watching

Yorkshire Post - 3rd June 2009 - Life & Style Section : Homes


Marking time, Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall reveals clocks which tick all the right boxes.

The wedding present season is upon us with many a June bride organising their list at high street stores.

It can be disheartening to opt for a matching cruet set, but I always find couples are more than happy for you to go "off piste" – provided you consult first and ensure it is a tasteful gift that reflects both your and the happy pair's personalities.

Make it something with a sense of fun, but also mildly practical.

Despite digital clocks featuring on everything, it is still nice to ensure that a home has a central time piece.

The hall clock has been superseded by the kitchen clock as this is now the main thoroughfare in most homes. A well-chosen piece excels as a wedding gift, marking time throughout the marriage and being used to remember special occasions.

It can grow in usefulness as the family develops – through late-night clubbing, midnight feeds, setting bath and bed times and marking the inevitable curfew imposed on most young adults.

A clock is not only a functional device, but a piece of wall sculpture. It should either complement the room design or, if dynamic enough, form the basis upon which the rest of the room can be developed.

To ensure that you give, or receive, a clock that will be on show and not consigned to the attic, consider some of the elegant, innovative or just amusing designs that I have found available.

For those setting up home for the first time, the Kitchen Utensils Clock makes fun use of stainless-steel implements that should be put to good use when creating a myriad of menus (£24.99; – 0845 373 1430).

A host of evolving memories can be created with the Family Time
Photo Frame Wall Clock; a lovely treasure to display images of special occasions, friends and family (£19.99; Hiccup Gifts – details as before).

For the eco-conscious, the Recycled Clock & Thermometer, from Boutiko, is made from vending-machine coffee cups (direct from the national Save-a-Cup scheme).

The innovative material has a lovely solid feel, very much like slate. The clock is designed to be weather-proof so it can be used inside or out (£26.95; – 0845 884 8511).

It can be nice to have a special place to pin important notes or write a love message as you fly out the door. All that is possible with The Time Square Blackboard Magnet Board Clock, from The Contemporary Home, which even allows the creative to draw their own clock face (£49.99; – 02392 469400).

Retro twists on home classics abound, with humorous updates for the modern home. Avoid three flying ducks and opt for the Pink Butterfly Clock, by Amode, that incorporates three separate butterflies for the recipient to incorporate in their home (£109.99; – 0845 867 8449).

Purves & Purves also offer a witty take on a hideous holiday keep-sake, the Walnut Cuckoo Clock, by Diamantini and Domeniconi, which should bring a smile every time it announces the hour and even goes to sleep at night, thanks to a light sensor (£215; – 020 8893 4000).

A classic home will be well complemented by the Lille Antique White French Clock which features a slightly domed centre surrounded by 12 domed segments – très chic (£69.99; The Contemporary Home, details as before).

Although the tea set may not feature on many wedding lists these days, the U+ Teatime Vintage Cups Clock, from Amaroni, would certainly top mine. Each hour is marked by a hand-picked vintage teacup (£344; 01205 260 384).

•Jamie Hempsall is a member of the British Interior Design Association and one of the region's leading interior designers. Visit him at or call 01777 249463