Thursday, 30 December 2010

How to create a haven over the holidays!

Interior Tips

Every home needs a haven to hide from the bustle of everyday life. Award winning Interior designer Jamie Hempsall explains how.

When your house is absolutely full of people it can sometimes be essential for your sanity to have a “bolt hole” where you can get a few minutes privacy. This allows you to let off steam and calm down from all the frenetic festive celebrations. It is amazing how much work goes into a “relaxing family Christmas” – particularly for those domestic goddesses out there!

With this in mind, we try to encourage householders who have the room to always develop a television free space in their home. Having an area like this can feel a bit of a luxury, but it is amazing how life can be enriched by reducing background noise and sitting in a snug room just enjoying the quiet and taking time to read a book or newspaper properly.

This was very much the remit of this family drawing room that we developed for a client who had a large and boisterous household.

The area was created as somewhere all the family could retreat to. The emphasis was on “old world charm” – fashioning a design incorporating treasured family pieces to ensure the room looked as though it had evolved naturally.

We started by selecting pieces of furniture that were firm family favourites to ensure the room had an immediate feeling of familiarity. The two key sofas featured an incredible vintage William Morris print which set a wonderful tone for the room. One if its main colours is a rich peacock blue which we decided to reference for the main wall and ceiling colour. Peacock blue is an under-rated shade, but extremely useful in rooms such as this because it creates an instant feeling of calm: without being too harsh or cool which is a frequent problem with blue hues.

We then identified three armchairs that had been retired from use re-upholstered them to provide contemporary comfort; covering them in modern antique effect velvet for a long lasting luxurious finish that would be consistent with the overall feel of the room.

Floor length silk curtains were designed to frame the windows, but also to provide warmth and reflect fire and lamp light in the evening to create an especially inviting area. The leading edge trim in orange, turquoise and gold also referenced key colours in the William Morris print of the sofas.

In a room without a television it is important to create a natural focal point. One of the joys of working in a period property is that many rooms retain fireplaces which as well as being a source of heat were the television of their day!

In this room we created symmetry and focus by grouping furniture around the fireplace. This can be done by balancing pieces of a similar size, rather than slavishly mirroring an exact copy as you often see in modern homes. Creating visual harmony in this way avoids a room feeling too staged and works equally well in a contemporary design.

To help cut down on visual clutter, which can be as disturbing as background noise, we worked with a master carpenter to create a bespoke shelf and cupboard unit on the wall opposite the fireplace: painting it in the same peacock blue as the other walls. This helped to further balance the room and provided a neat home to hide books and journals as well as a display area for special family pieces.

As in many period properties this room had high ceilings which could make it feel less intimate. To overcome this we painted the ceilings in the same colour as the walls and installed a dramatic Venetian glass chandelier which casts a marvellously warm light of an evening.

The overall effect is calm and serene, but also warm and inviting. The perfect place to kick off your shoes, grab a glass of wine and spend time completing the crossword in front of a roaring fire.

Jamie Hempsall is the winner of the Best Interior Design – North East Award in the UK Property Awards in Association with Bloomberg Television. See more of his work at or call him on 0800 0321 180

This article originally appeared in the Yorkshire Post on 22nd December 2010

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Christmas tree alternatives for when space is a challenge!

Well after the last week we can safely say that Winter has made its presence truly felt in the last week.

Having been shut in more than usual I have been thinking about much re-organisation goes into many UK homes to accommodate the traditional Christmas tree (often requiring a revised room layout during December to accommodate this extra “piece of furniture”). In fact, one of the first questions we are often asked by clients after we have completed a sitting room is where should we place the Christmas tree?

In small homes where space is of a premium the area taken up by these trees can be a significant issue. The main problem with the traditional shape is that lower branches take up a considerable amount of space.

Unfortunately, a small traditional pine often looks like you are using the top that has been cut off a reasonably sized tree and can make a disappointing central piece. So if you want to add impact and a bit of seasonal cheer why not avoid a traditional tree and opt for something more thought provoking.

It is vital to keep a Christmas focal point, so even if your tree alternative is just a few centimetres tall the way you present it will alter the effect. Begin by choosing a location that gives the decoration prominence such as a shelf, mantle-piece or side table and place it centrally. Then clear away any other nearby items to ensure that the space your centre piece occupies is clear of other visual disturbance. This will ensure that your choice dominates the area; when space is a premium less is definitely more!

I have fallen in love with the Bright Button Tabletop Mini Tree which stands at 29cm. It is decorated entirely in tiny red, green and white buttons and looks like something Santa’s elves might have created (£21.99 – The Contemporary Home; or 02392 469400).  This will also make a great centre piece on your Christmas dining table. 

Alternatively, the White Metal Christmas Tree Decoration from Berry Red features tea-lights and bauble decorations in a modern design which retains a traditional feel. I am always a little nervous around lighted candles - particularly when there might be a lot of alcohol being consumed, but as long as you keep a close eye on things this should be a treat (£60 –; 01432 274805).

If you are feeling particularly creative and have limited floor area, but an area of wall space then a removable wall sticker can make a wonderful focal point. The look is definitely striking and works particularly well in a modern environment. Stickers or decals are also a fun option in a children’s bedroom if you want to make their space feel more festive.

The Christmas Tree Wall Sticker from Spin Collective, available in 16 vibrant colours, has a wonderful contemporary cartoon feel to it and is 100cm high (£20 -; 01242 255244).

If you like this idea and fancy making the tree a permanent fixture then Love Mae have launched the Decorative Christmas Tree vn a Re-usable Wall Decal – a bit of a mouthful, but a wonderful product. The tree can be left with leaves all year round and then Christmas decorations can be added for the Festive time of the year. The decorations can be removed, cleaned and re-applied again – perfect for creating your own look and for re-use (£50; – 00 353 86 1051007).

For a modern full size tree alternative that will not compromise your space consider a shape that is small at the base and large on top. Many shops have cottoned on to this and are creating slim line traditional trees.  However, my favourite solution this year ditches the traditional form as Asda presents its 150cm Cherry Blossom Christmas Tree - this really is understated elegance personified. Its blue lights add cool chic with a small trunk opening out to branches at the top. At £150 it is more of a long term investment, but is certainly one I will be looking to make (

Jamie Hempsall is winner of Best Interior Design – North East 2010 in the UK Property Awards in association with Bloomberg Television. Contact him on 0800 0321 180 or via

Parts of this article were first published in the Yorkshire Post on Weds 8th December 2010

Monday, 29 November 2010

Jamie Hempsall Interior Design Wins Top Award

Saturday night proved exceptionally eventful as Jamie Hempsall emerged victorious winning the award for Best Interior Design - North East at the UK Property Awards 2010 in Association with Bloomberg Television.

We won the award for our project "The Beeches" in Lancashire. 

This was a complete renovation project involving 27 rooms and completed over a period of two years. The project transformed an unloved residence with a large number of redundant rooms and a layout more suitable to a family with a large domestic staff into a stylish, modern family home designed to keep the family in easy proximity of each other despite its proportions. The design ensured that flows throughout the property became more logical for usage in the 21st Century and included an eco-friendly pellet boiler to power under-floor heating ensuring the residence remained a warm and ecologically sound environment for its owners.

Jamie collected his award from the chair of the judging panel, Helen Shield – Editor in Chief of International Homes Magazine, at the awards ceremony at the Royal Lancaster Hotel on Saturday 27th November 2010. Other members of the judging panel included Iris Dunbar (Past President – BIDA) and Diana Yakeley (Former Chairman of BIDA).

Jamie is a member of the British Institute of Interior Design and the interiors columnist for the Yorkshire Post.  Visit him at or call 0800 0321 180.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Time to add some seasonal sparkle!!

It seems too soon for Christmas to be upon us, but shops are now crammed with festive ornaments and decorations. I like to add extra festive sparkle by introducing items around the house to amuse and delight; reminding people that good cheer is a key part of Christmas.

A Christmas wreath sets the tone and this stunning brussels sprout version – the most festive of all vegetables – gives a modern twist to an old classic (£19.99 –; 02392 469400). Unfortunately, the wreath is handmade from paper, rather than the real thing – so has to be hung inside, but it certainly gives food for thought.

Fairy lights are also a Christmas staple. The light is cheerful and welcoming, particularly when every other light source is switched off. To add a bit of extra cachet this year, opt for these ice-cube shaped LED lights which come packed in their own ice tray. They are also perfect for dressing your bar area at a drinks reception (£19.99 -; 0845 226 9110).

As drink is likely to flow a little more than usual over the next few weeks, coasters can help protect all manner of surfaces and avoid any embarrassment for friends and family over where to place a glass. Practical and funky Donna Wilson Snowflake coasters are made out of 3mm thick wool felt to soften the blow of any glass and come in natural, lime, turquoise and magenta (£12 for a set of four – ; 01595 694 644).

I aim to use as many ethically-produced gifts and ornaments as possible to ensure the season is not all about mass consumerism. The charitable and fair-trade offerings now available make these choices really easy as they are not only worthy, but also incredibly well designed.

If you have a penchant for Father Christmas and wish to emulate the Russian theme adopted by Chatsworth House this year then consider a set of six nesting, stacking Santas. The jolly design is hand painted by fair trade artisans (£16.95 –; 0845 0099016).

The same company have an innovative version of an eco-Nativity scene, handmade using recycled paper. Each character is approximately 10cm high so will make an impactful display on a bookshelf or mantle-piece (£19.95; details as before).

It is also the time of year to make memorable gestures and I think a wooden heart decoration by eco-chic designer Emily Readett-Bayley which has then been personalised hits the spot.  The hearts are made by village co-operatives from sustainable wood and personalised by hand in the UK (£12.50 –; 01279 447615).

Jamie Hempsall is an award winning interior designer and member of The British Institute of Interior Design. or call 0800 0321 180.
This article was first published in the Yorkshire Post Mid-Week Life & Style Section on Weds 24th November 2010

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Yorkshire Post Readers' Questions

Every quarter I answer Yorkshire Post Readers' interior design queries as part of my column.  They can ask about any subject at all.  Here is what they came up with in the last couple of months.

Q: We have just inherited a 1960s Ercol dining table, it is finished in light wood and we want to get some dining chairs to go with it that are unusual. SH, Knaresborough.

Ercol was a huge name in furniture in the 1960s, but fell out of favour in later decades. However, prices are beginning to quickly increase as vintage rises to the fore. This furniture is beautifully made and their clean design lines are amazingly contemporary. If you want to avoid scouring specialist shops for a set of matching chairs, I would recommend the new Masters chair by Kartell. This stunning design was created by Philippe Starck and is a reinterpretation of the Series 7 chair by Jacobsen, the Tulip chair by Saarinen and the Eifel Chair by Eames. It is available in red, black or white and at £120 I think it is a bargain that will become a design classic in no time at all ( – 0207 739 9427).

Q: We are decorating our sitting room with an oriental inspired theme, but struggling to find a ceiling light that is not hideously expensive. We have high ceilings so would like something fairly dramatic if possible. TB, Harrogate

I would head straight for one of Gong’s eastern inspired ceiling lampshades. They have a range of light, oversized, interesting silk shades which will definitely complement an oriental theme. There are two different designs available (Lea & Lotus) which come in various sizes. The lamps are hand made in the Far East and covered in silk featuring two layers of fabric so you cannot see the bulbs. The Lotus lamp is available in white silk, whilst the Lea ceiling light (pictured) is available in a variety of finishes with the option of a black trimmed frame. Prices from £95, visit or call 0207 370 7176.

Q: We have just purchased a Period house and wanted to work with a traditional colour range, but are not sure if there are any ranges of paint that are particularly appropriate. Could you point us in the right direction? JL, Skipton

The Little Greene Paint Company has worked with English Heritage to develop a range that reflects the true historical colours used in decoration. The colours are split into five key time periods – Georgian; Regency; Victorian; 1930s and 1950s – which are marked clearly on their colour charts. Every purchase from the range also means a generous donation goes to English Heritage – so you are also helping to preserve some of our nation’s great treasures. The range is available in all of Little Greene’s standard finishes including their Ultimatt Emulsion (a matt finish, environmentally friendly and completely washable paint – ideal for heavy usage areas such as halls, kitchens and bathrooms). Prices from £13.50 ( – 0845 880 5855).

Q: We have a travertine floor which is really beginning to look grubby despite regular mopping. What would you suggest to bring it back to its former glory? BB, Todwick.

If you are seeing ground in dirt you need to get back to basics. Start by stripping off your existing floor coating using the appropriate cleaner which will have a dramatic effect. You will then need to re-apply a sealant to keep this look pristine. Natural floors do require regular maintenance, so I would expect to repeat this every year or so to keep things looking tip top. I prefer the range of products available from Lithofin which includes wax-off, multi-seal and anti-slip; as well as an easy care formula that is great for regular use throughout the year once you have taken the trouble to strip back and re-apply (; 01962 732 126).

Jamie Hempsall is a member of the British Institute of Interior Design and an award winning interior designer. If you have an interior query you need answering call him on 0800 032 1180 or visit


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Orange is the colour for change this season!

The approach of autumn means the gradual changing of our landscapes from vibrant greens to warm browns and oranges.

Orange in particular is also seeping onto our high street as the trend towards a resurgence of all things mid-century develops. Orange makes a bold, bright statement that shouts fun and hints at rebellion.

Unless you have a really strong passion for the colour avoid dedicating an entire scheme to orange as in large quantities it can be overwhelming.

However, orange works terrifically on an accent piece to base a room around (particularly when paired with brown and cream) – or on fun and quirky items to discover as your eyes travel round your home.

1. Bring a touch of autumn warmth to your sitting room with this George Smith Jules chair in Lulu DK Bloomsbury from £2,050 – 01423 563160.

2. Add a touch of nature into your home with these fun Three Owls Wall Sticker £39.95 ( – 01269 822288)

3. A twist on the classic coffee maker, this Francis Francis X1 Espresso Machine in orange will definitely make a statement in any kitchen. £399. (http://www.espressocrazy/. com – 01604 821 234)

4. The Aria Dining Chair, by Bontempi, is the perfect accompaniment to any modern dining suite. Made in Italy, the design will add vibrancy and colour toyour room.

Transparent chairs are also available ensuring that the contemporary polycarbonate chairs will never clash; even with the most outrageous interior design. Bontempi Casa Aria Dining Chair £164 ( – 0113 244 2288).

5. Sugar & Spice Wardrobe in Juicy Orange £595, www.the – 020 7737 7303.

This sturdy wardrobe is excellent value and provides masses of useful storage space from toddlers to teens. It comes in white and 12 stunning colours including Juicy Orange.

Award Winning Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall is a member of the British Institute of Interior Design. Contact: www.jamiehempsall. com or 0800 032 1180
Published in Yorkshire Post 27th Oct 2010 - Mid-Week Life & Style Section - Interiors

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Jamie Hempsall Interior Design joins an elite number of winners as the UK Property Awards are revealed

If you are wishing to find the ultimate property related professionals across the length and breadth of the UK, where better to look than the winners’ list of a highly acclaimed industry competition? The results of the UK Property Awards in association with Bloomberg Television have just been announced, putting a chosen few leading companies firmly in the limelight, both nationally and internationally.

One of these rightly proud winners is Jamie Hempsall Interior Design which has won an award in the category of Best Interior Design – North East. Winners will be invited to attend a high profile property networking event and gala dinner at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in Hyde Park, London on November 26th and 27th during which they will be presented with their awards.

The event is part of the International Property Awards, the world’s most prestigious competition dedicated to finding the best real estate professionals across the globe. The fact that Jamie Hempsall Interior Design has won one of these coveted awards is proof that the Midlands is not only capable of competing at this level but also triumphing within the highly competitive UK property arena.

Entries from the top scoring winners of the UK Property Awards are currently being rejudged as they compete against other winning companies from Europe & Africa, the Americas, Arabia and Asia Pacific to find the ultimate World’s Best in each category. The results of the grand final of the International Property Awards will also be disclosed at the gala presentation dinner in London.

Much of the judging has been carried by the International Property Awards’ esteemed panel of judges at the London offices of Bloomberg Television but entries were also outsourced to leading experts in each particular field throughout the world. This year’s judges included Luke McKend, industry head property markets of Google UK; Peter Bolton King, group chief executive of the National Federation of Property Professionals; Christopher Hall, president elect of FIABCI; Thijs Stoffer, International Consortium of Real Estate Agents Association (ICREA); Fiona Nixon, chairman of the Australia Institute of Architects, Hendrik Nelde, president of FIABCI Belgium; Helen Shield, editor-in-chief of International Homes Luxury Collection magazine and Sven Johns, CEO of the German Real Estate Association.

Jamie Hempsall, Managing Director, said of winning the award, “I am absolutely delighted, it shows that good design is alive and kicking outside the M25! It is always thrilling to get good feedback from your clients, but to achieve an accolade judged by your peers in the property industry is especially rewarding.”

Jamie Hempsall is the Interior Design columnist for The Yorkshire Post Mid-Week Life & Style Section and a member of the British Institute of Interior Design.  Contact him on 0800 0321 180.

Friday, 15 October 2010

The interiors retro love affair continues!


Directly on the heels of London Fashion Week comes its Interior Design equivalent, Decorex, where companies showcase new products and design for the coming year. Interior Design Jamie Hempsall presents his picks of the season.

There is renewed optimism in the world of interiors with fabric companies launching a wider number of collections than we have seen in the last couple of years.

The big stories this autumn are geometrical patterns, as design companies continue their retro love affair with all things 1930s and 1950s, and stripes which are returning with renewed confidence and gusto.

There is nothing boring about any of these retro chic interpretations which may take influence from the mid 20th century, but have been updated with injections of strong colour and daring interpretation. Texture and comfort are also very important this season with a range of geometric patterns being introduced in tactile cut velvet. Of note too are some new digital printed fabrics being introduced (in particular by Designers Guild) which are blending photographic quality large prints onto intricate designs. These are bold and brash statements that herald the onslaught of a potential design revolution.

Here are my favourite picks from this season's collections.

The Juniper range from Harlequin (pictured above) is pure 1950s with wonderful visions of leaves (Orletta, £59/mtr) and seed heads (Kerria, £34/mtr or Spirea £52/mtr) in a range of colourways including red, purple and orange on simple backgrounds (www. – 0845 123 6805).

There are brilliant re-interpretations of mid-20th century geometrical patterns in contemporary colours on plain backgrounds in the Casson Range from Romo which also features a series of relaxed woven stripes (from £42.50/m). The Ellise range of decorative weaves from Romo is a beautiful collection of soft contemporary cut velvets featuring almost art deco style patterns in bold, confident colour (from £129.95/m; – 01623 756 699).

The Mosaic velvet cut and loop pile range from Zoffany has a more muted colour palette, but provides a rich, plush feel. The striking designs are easy on the eye and would integrate well into any virtually any style of interior. Patterns have been cut and woven to create both visual and textural interest (£79/m; www.zoffany. com – 0844 543 4600).

More beautiful geometry is found in the Maharani range from Osborne & Little, a range of printed designs featuring interlocking cubes and handsome block stripes inspired by Armenian and Iranian architecture (from £34.08/m; www.osborneand – 020 7352 1456).

Leading the way in the introduction of the modern stripe is Designers Guild with their Bernadini collection (in particular the Phipps and Egmont patterns). These are available in a wide range of imaginative colourways and feature exciting new types of velvet (£70/m; www.designers – 0207 893 7400).

Equally appealing is the new Oscura stripe from Osborne and Little. This is a range of two-tone stripes blackout fabrics (ideal for blinds and curtains) with a companion striĆ© plain in 16 different colourways (£29.38/m; details as before).

If you are looking for more lightweight fabrics then I would seek out the new collections from Malabar. Their Kilo range features simple, but effective lightweight and sheer linen cotton stripes in an array of muted colours (£29/m).

For those wanting something bolder, their Inka range includes more dramatic stripes and some heavy linen herringbone plains in stronger shades from earthy brown to juicy raspberry (£29/m; www. – 020 7501 4200).

A lot of the fabric ranges produced this season come with co-ordinating wallcoverings which echo their geometric designs and contemporary colours. The exciting news for decorators is that new production techniques mean that many ranges are now being developed in non-woven finishes so that you apply paste to the wall making hanging them far easier – seek these out for a hassle free makeover.

•You can contact Jamie Hempsall for advice or more details on any of the new season's ranges at or on 0800 0321 180

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Finding a safe home for your wine!


As more people are buying wine as an investment Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall looks at solutions to wine storage.

A glass of good wine is one of the real pleasures in life and a lot of wine these days is meant to be consumed shortly after purchase, which some might say is quite fortunate. However, if you like to keep good wine a little longer (or buy in bulk) then the location and method of storage is an important consideration.

Wine constantly develops in the bottle so you need to ensure it is kept away from direct sunlight and constant vibrations, with corked bottles stored on their side to ensure the cork remains moist (screw tops and champagnes can be kept upright). You also want to use a method of storage that is both secure and efficient.

If you are only keeping a few bottles for a short time then the Menu Wine Runner will help turn any shelf into a secure location. The pleasant stainless steel and rubber design is contemporary and at £24.95 it is an inexpensive option ( – 01903 786148).

Alternatively, those holding a small stock under the stairs (or on the wall in the kitchen) might want to consider the Rosendahl Wine Tube Wine Rack. Wall-mounting a wine rack saves on shelf and floor space and this smart design allows bottles to be suspended perpendicular to the Winetube itself (£58.99; – 0845 313 3352).

Many wine retailers advise you to ensure your storage location remains at a fairly standard temperature (ideally around 13C) if you are keeping stocks for more than a couple of months. If your wine is kept too warm it will age faster, too cold and you are likely to see deposits developing. Once long-term storage is a consideration, there are a variety of options available to you depending upon budget and requirements.

The best option to store a few bottles at a constant temperature, but with easy access must surely be the John Lewis JLWF151 Wine Cabinet. The 15cm wide wine cabinet holds seven standard bottles and can easily be designed into the layout of your kitchen (£199; www. – 08456 049 049).

For those who have a location with a regulated temperature, but are looking for good racking, I would consider Cavicase wine racking from Wine Storage Solutions Ltd. This versatile system features three methods of storage from simple secure stacking of bottles, to pull out shelves and units to accommodate the glorious boxes that hold a fine vintage. Prices start at £82 for a standard element which will hold 72 Bordeaux shaped bottles on three shelves ( – 01608 645083).

Should you need assistance in achieving a constant temperature for your wine, then an electric wine cabinet will probably suit your needs better. However, these still need to be kept in an area that does not fluctuate wildly in temperature (so choose your brand carefully if you are going to store in the garage). When choosing a cabinet, consider the volume of bottles that you are likely to need to hold and the efficiency – glass doors might look more aesthetically pleasing, but they do not insulate as well as solid ones.

There are options to suit all pockets from most quality electrical retailers and specialist wine storage retailers ranging from about £700 to £2,500.

However, if you really hanker after a wine cellar, but never thought you had the room, then Spiral Cellars could be the answer to your prayers. These cellars are installed in the floor, need no planning permission and can be accommodated in a space only 2 sq m.

With prices from £13,400 for a 1,000 bottle cellar these are for the serious wine buff, but are a beauty to behold ( 0845 241 2768).

Jamie Hempsall is a member of the British Institute of Interior Design. He is available via his website www.jamie or on 0800 032 1180

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The perfect pre-teen room!

Yorkshire Post - 18th August


Too old for Thomas the Tank Engine yet not quite ready for teenage love of black.  So how do you create the perfect room for a pre-teen?  Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall tells us how.

When it comes to designing a room for pre-teens, especially boys, you have to be really careful to choose a theme that is not too grown up, but that they will not be embarrassed by within a couple of years.

As the excess of bulky, brightly coloured toys get put aside in favour of X-box and board games, this age range need a room that is relatively smart and a little more mature, but that also reflects their childhood interests.

Generally, I would advise if you are designing for pre-teens to avoid patterned character or theme papers (as these can date very quickly), opt for a subtle wall colour (blue is fine, but avoid shades that are cold, bland or overpowering) and then dress the room with wall-hangings, pictures and accessories. In this way you create a theme that can be changed with relative ease, but if done correctly will last quite a few years.

This room in a house we recently completed was designed for two brothers who fitted the pre-teen category perfectly. A flag theme based around the Stars & Stripes indulged their passion for all things Stateside and allowed the use of blue as a dominant, but not dominating colour though out the room.

The walls were painted in Zoffany La Seine, a subtle blue that is relatively light, but still has plenty of body. This was matched with a plain carpet, some terrific oak bedroom furniture from Aspace, and plain duvet covers and pillow cases. Bunk beds are terrific space savers (providing room for those sharing or a sleepover treat) and always seem to be popular with children of pretty much any age.

The blinds and pelmets were covered in Calvi Lacquer Red from Romo, a simple stripe which hints at the American flag. I opted for chain operated blinds, rather than curtains as they allow the more independent young adult to be responsible for opening their window covering without the need to dress them neatly. I find curtains also tend to be more at risk of being damaged by being dragged open from those operating them at a lower height than most adults.

This simple colour palette, furniture and blinds provided a basic bedroom design that could be adapted as tastes develop without any further major expense.

Flags were introduced in cushions and bed throws, a star covered blue rug and the great square Stars & Stripes trunk from Halo. The walls were dressed with USA themed art and a draped “antique” American flag (actually a brand new cotton flag that was left in cold tea for a couple of days) to provided a final, strong focal point.

Jamie Hempsall is a member of the British Institute of Interior Design and one of the region’s leading designers. Contact him on 0800 0321 180 or visit his website

Friday, 6 August 2010

This summer it's high time for high tea!

Yorkshire Post Life & Style Section - 4th Aug 2010


When it comes to eating on a beautiful summer day even the most fashionably decorated dining room seems stuffy and overbearing. Dining al fresco has to be the option on days like this, but you do not have to skimp on style when dressing your table for the garden.

With the school holidays in full swing, dressing a table for lunch or even afternoon tea can be the perfect family activity to while away a few hours – create the essential “Alice in Wonderland” experience with table clothes, napkins and fresh picked flowers displayed in jam jars to cheer up even the plainest of patio furniture.

If you want to avoid breaking your everyday dinner service (as eating outside always seems a little more precarious), then scour the charity shops and boot fairs for a wonderful array of mismatched patterned china. Nothing says tea party more than china and with retro, eclectic chic at it’s height an array of clashing items has never been trendier. Minimum investment means no worries about breakages and a patchwork of patterns ensures easy replacements.

If you need some inspiration consider the Pretty V&A Cake Stand which has a design taken directly from their archive – high fashion and a perfect centre piece to display cup cakes and sandwiches (£25; – 01536 207 710).

For the more accident prone or those with small children, melamine and plastic tableware is the best option, but you no longer have to skimp on style to create a breakage free environment as plastic versions of firm High Street favourites abound this year.

Fans of Emma Bridgewater’s well known ‘Black Toast’ design will be delighted to find her new melamine picnic range which includes a bowl, cup and dinner plate (from £8; – 0844 243 9266) and if you are looking for something stylish to drink out of Asda have the Swirl Tumbler and Wine Glass at £5 each, which have a hint of designer crystal about them ( – 0203 003 6555).

Personally, I avoid using stem glasses outside and serve everything out of tumblers – they seem much more robust and it feels very continental. I have a selection of old Duralex tumblers, but Berry Red are introducing a range in melamine featuring patterns such as the two tone animal print that will jazz up any table (£4.50; available from 30th August at – 01432 274805).

Of course, when you are traipsing across the garden to get a fresh bottle of wine, it would be terrific to have a mini-fridge to hand like Richard Branson has on his private island. Failing that there are a couple of more down to earth options. How about filling a large galvanised tin bucket with ice to provide a super alternative that is practically and stylishly cool? Alternatively, consider a little home luxury on the cool bag front such as a Champagne Cooler in Tan or Olive Green sturdy canvas with chestnut leather trimmings (£75; – 01488 71236) – perfect for the garden, a picnic or York Races.

Iced water is an essential item to have, but you can avoid the mess of a jug using the Eva Solo Water Carafe with a jazzy neoprene coat in a range of colours which has a flip top lid to stop ice cubes splashing out whilst you are pouring (£49.95; – 0844 888 9522).
For the finishing touch, add some sparkle and comfort to your chairs with a selection of brightly coloured cushions. Fashion shawls from heavy fabric off-cuts and drape over your chairs to complete the English eccentric look (and provide practical warmth once it gets a bit chillier). Finally, settle back to enjoy a long and leisurely meal. My idea of heaven!

Jamie Hempsall is a member of the British Institute of Interior Design and one of the region’s leading designers. Contact him on 0800 0321 180 or visit his website

Monday, 26 July 2010

Your Interior Design questions answered!

If you are having trouble with interior solutions, why not drop me a line and I'm sure I can point you in the right direction.  Here is a recent question and answer session I did for Yorkshire Post Readers.

I am looking to decorate a room using a flag theme and want to incorporate a Union Jack Carpet, can you suggest any interesting options? PT, Elmswell

The flag theme is very on trend at the moment. I have found two particularly nice designs which are also a little quirky. The Union Jack Rug from Hill & Co (; 020 3258 4100) features the flag at an angle which is more visually appealing than a straight reproduction and avoids looking like a front door mat. It is made from 100% viscose, measures 1.8m x 1.2m and costs £390.

If you have a bit more budget and are looking to make a serious design statement choose the VW Flag by Vivienne Westwood for The Rug Company (; 020 7229 5148). At £1,995 it is more pricey, but is a wonderful 100% wool Aubusson Tapestry rug that works equally well as a wall hanging.

We have converted the cellars in our Georgian home to create a day room. The ceilings are not high, but we need a central light fitting to incorporate into the room. Our decorating style is “traditional with a twist”. JW, Rotherham

With low ceilings you need to ensure you get impact from a light fitting, without it obscuring your view through the room. The ideal solution is a light constructed from glass to allow you to both appreciate the design, but also easily look beyond it to avoid breaking your sight line. Victoria Rothschild and Mark Bickers have developed a wonderful range of hand blown glass lights which are all made at the London Glassworks, one of the last workshops in the UK. Most of their lamps would be perfect, but I particularly favour their Vintage and Opulence designs with the cheeky interplay of glass and fringing: around £250 including delivery (; 020 8418 5900).

I have just moved into my first home and want to liven up the walls of my kitchen which are painted plain magnolia. I am afraid I have a very tight budget. Do you have any ideas other than a bright colour or feature wall as I want to do something more interesting? SS, Malton

When it comes to jazzing up a plain wall, you do not need to go mad to achieve something stylish. Less is often more and I would opt for one of the new wall stickers which you can easily apply to a ready painted surface. Spin Collective (; 01242 255244) offer a range of funky designs made in vinyl. They also have a “custom wall quote and sign” maker on their website that allows you to choose your own word or phrase and have this made into a custom sticker. There are a variety of fonts to choose from and 20 colours available. Prices start from £12. These will look very chic and a carefully chosen phrase should raise a smile each time you see it.

 We are looking for an eye-catching feature to include over our fireplace at home, but want to avoid a picture or mirror. EA, Halifax

I love incorporating really eccentric items above a fireplace to amuse both owner and any guests. They provide a great talking point and a good ice breaker at social occasions. My current favourite is the Silver Trophy Stag Head from Strawberry Fool (£69.99 -; 0845 226 9177) a witty take on the traditional hunting trophy. At 47cm height this is large enough to make an impact without being overbearing. It is made from light aluminium so should also be easy to fix in place.

Jamie Hempsall is a member of The British Institute of Interior Design and one of the region’s leading interior designers. If you have an interior query you need answering call him on 0800 032 1180 or visit his website