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

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Candle Lights for Summer Nights

I, for one, have certainly made the most of the few warm and lighter evenings that we have been enjoying recently. It always seems a shame that any summer event in the UK seems to have to be a last minute event.

There really is something magical about an evening under the stars with the company of good friends, a good bottle of wine (and in all probability a light jersey!). We keep a couple of old Kilims and some faded, but plump cushions in our Summer house and drag them out into the garden as it begins to darken to create an impromptu lounging and dining area – the perfect reminder of a terrific holiday in Marrakesh.

If you want to create that Moorish feel the trick is all in the type of lighting you use. Without a doubt, the soft glow of candle light is the perfect mood creator – and it also means that you do not have to go to the expense of installing electric cabling through out the garden or relying on solar powered products which can sometimes be a little disappointing.

I love the look of lights suspended from branches in the trees and one of the simplest effects can easily be obtained by placing a tea light in a jam jar and creating a handle with thin wire. These not only look great (particularly if you are using a more decorative jar such as Rose’s Lime Marmalade), but they are also wind resistant.

If you are looking for the same effect, but with the added allure of different colours then head to the Contemporary Home (; 02392 469400) who sell a set of four coloured jar tea light holders in pink, green, blue and red for £12.99.

Alternatively, you can create a hanging tree sculpture that looks great in the day and transforms at night using the ceramic Round Garden Hanging Tea Lights from Stylish Life Ltd (£16.68 -; 01269 822288). Available in 5 different inner colours and 2 shapes (round or teardrop); these also make great bird feeders.

When it comes to creating a party atmosphere I feel that Chinese Lanterns win hands down. I am delighted to see that they seem to be available everywhere this year with Tesco leading the way offering a set of 2 in Pink and Orange at £7 (; 0800 505555).

Low level lighting also creates an intimate atmosphere and a product that I find terrific for this is a Candle Bag (or Luminaria to use its proper name). These are simply open paper bags lit from within by a tea-light, great as a one off or really effect when used en masse around a patio or up a drive to guide you to a party. Personally, I would only use them outside and always purchase a candle bag product rather than making my own, just to be on the safe side.

Visit (01205 317520) for a good selection of bags featuring star and heart designs for extra atmosphere – from £7.99 for 10 including delivery.

For a really contemporary look, more reminiscent of an electric garden light, but powered by a canister of standard “blow torch” gas giving up to 15 hours light a glow I would opt for the Hotspot Gas Garden Light (a finalist in the British Design awards) - £29.99 (; 0845 313 33 52). The units are made in rust proof aluminium and are totally portable. The Hotspot is reputed to be one of the best selling British designs abroad and Europe knows a thing or two about al fresco living.

Jamie Hempsall is a member of the British Institute of Interior Design. To contact Jamie with any queries call him free on 0800 0321 180 or visit his website