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 www.jamiehempsall.com.

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; www.creative-tops.com – 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; www.emmabridgewater.co.uk – 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 (www.asda.co.uk – 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 www.berryred.co.uk – 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; www.objects-of-design.com – 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; www.bethstevens.co.uk – 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 www.jamiehempsall.com.