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; http://www.wguk.com/).

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; www.julianchicester.com – 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; www.puji.com – 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; www.purves.co.uk - 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; www.haloliving.co.uk 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 www.jamiehempsall.com

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 www.jamiehempsall.com

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. www.jamiehempsall.com or contact him on 01777 248463