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.