Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Your Interior Design questions answered!

Yorkshire Post Mid-Week Life & Style Section 17th March 2010


Interior Design Expert Jamie Hempsall answers readers questions


We have a Victorian House with a tall narrow hallway which we are looking to repaint. We know what colour we want on the walls, but are unsure about what tone and finish to paint the ceilings and woodwork? AC, Easingwold

When decorating any room, I always recommend continuing the wall colour on to the ceiling; regardless of the pigment you are using. This ensures that your sight lines are not artificially halted by a change of colour. It helps to standardise proportions of the room lowering the effect of overly high ceilings, but counter intuitively adding a feeling of height to low ceilings. It also helps with painting as there is no difficult cutting off to contend with.

In a hallway, the normally narrow proportions are best served by painting the woodwork in a lighter tone than you use for the walls. Avoid brilliant white, as this can be very harsh. If you do need a really light, neutral colour opt for something such as Zoffany Architect’s White, which has subtle hints of grey (; 0844 543 4748).
 Use Flat Emulsion for ceilings and walls and Eggshell for woodwork; this has a slight sheen which gives a softer finished than Gloss, but is still durable.


I am upholstering an occasional chair for use in a bedroom. I would like to use silk, but am worried about it being easily damaged. Can you recommend a fabric that I could use? TF, Bedale

Silk creates a beautiful look in a bedroom, but can be difficult to maintain. If this is not a piece that will be sat on regularly you do not have too much to worry about, but you will need to be careful about fading and weakening of the fabric if it is regularly exposed to sunlight.
 There are a couple of options open to you that are more specifically suitable for domestic upholstery. Kediri Silk by Osborne & Little is a Silk/Cotton blend which comes in a great range of contemporary shades (£61.10/m –; 0207 352 1456). Alternatively, the Sateen Range from Casamance is actually a Cotton/Polyester blend, but you would be hard pressed to tell it from silk (from £35/m -; 0844 369 0104).


We are re-decorating the bedroom for our five year old son, who wants something a bit more grown up. His is mad about robots - can you suggest a suitable duvet set? LG, Driffield
 Aspace are a terrific company who specialise in good quality, hard wearing products for Child friendly areas. As well as a comprehensive range of furniture, they also have some extremely nice bedding accessories with duvets, throws and pillows that feature classic, contemporary designs and which are finished to a high standard.
 They have a great cotton duvet set featuring an applique robot design (a single duvet and pillow is £50). They also sell a range of matching accessories including curtains, a rug, pin board and cushions. (; 0845 872 2400).


We really loved the wallpaper that was pictured behind a mirror and chest of drawers in your article on March 3rd. It featured stylised gold/ silver fish on a grey background. Could you tell me who it is by? TK, Wakefield

So glad that you like wallpaper, it is one of my personal favourites: it works particularly well in bathrooms. The design in question is from Osborne & Little and is called Derwent. It actually comes in 6 different colours, so can suit a variety of interiors schemes. The wallpaper is £49.35 per roll (inc VAT); the rolls are 10m long and 52cm wide, with a 61cm pattern repeat.
 To find your local stockists either visit or call their London showroom 0207 352 1456).

Jamie Hempsall is a member of the British Interior Design Association. Send your queries to him at or contact him on 01777 248463.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Turn on the light and transform your home!

Yorkshire Post Mid-Week Life & Style Section - 3rd March 2010


"How do you brighten up a gloomy room?"  Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall comes up with some bright solutions to dark problems
We are frequently faced with rooms that suffer from a lack of light. Hardly surprising given that England is not blessed with sunshine for most of the year. If designing from scratch I opt for big windows, but this is not an option on most of our projects!

Dark rooms are actually not too difficult to work with. Whilst I do not profess to be able to make each one feel like a sun-drenched lounge in LA, I know that a few tweaks and a bit of investment ensure most rooms can be made to feel comfortably light.

Before investing a penny look at your light source. It may seem obvious, but keeping your windows spotless inside and out has a dramatic effect. Prune back overhanging foliage to maximise the light let into the room.

I know curtaining really makes a room and dresses a window, but the finish has a major effect on the light available. In rooms that suffer from lack of light, you need to ensure that as much of the window is exposed as possible.

A traditional curtain finish, such as a pencil or goblet pleat, results in a very full curtain that will cover the window. Try opting for dress curtains coupled with a blind to allow you privacy. The dress curtain will give you the same look, but block less light and be considerably cheaper.

Alternatively, an Eyelet heading will allow your curtains to stack back into a relatively small area. Combine these with a pole that extends beyond the extremes of your frame to allow the curtains to be drawn back away from the window; maximising light and still providing a terrific finish.

Colour is next on the list. Decorating in a dark hue will aggravate your problem as it they absorb light. However, you should also avoid beige, cream or off-white as these can feel cold and stark in poor daylight. Choose something with a definite colour in it (such as light green or earthy stone). Do not be afraid of adding interest with details in deeper colours as these will add warmth to the room.

It is important to decorate and furnish your room in a way that will make the most of any natural light that you have available. Consider wallpaper and fabrics with sheen finishes to them as they pick up any lighting (natural or electric) that you have in the room adding a comforting reflective glow. I am not talking Dynasty glitz (unless that is the look you hanker for!), just something with a softer finish.

Mirrors (and mirrored or eglomisé furniture) are a particular interior designers friend in this circumstance. Place a mirror opposite your window or light source (be that a doorway or even a fireplace) to amplify its effect.

Of course, electric light is always a helpful (if sometimes costly) solution, but is something you ideally want to use in the evening, rather than throughout the day to avoid oppressive, forced light.

Create pools of light with reading or table lamps strategically placed around the room at different levels to add interest. Couple these with picture lamps which are a great way of adding indirect light and highlighting individual pieces of interest. Also consider wall lights for general glow that is less harsh than overhead lights.

Placing uplighters in dark corners will give a soft, comfortable glow reflected from the ceiling. Alternatively, if you have cupboards, consider fitting hidden recess lights that create colour wash over the wall above, emphasising the illusion of natural light.

With these tips in place the light in your room should feel comfortably natural.

Send your interior design queries to Jamie Hempsall, BIDA at or call 01777 248463