Friday, 30 April 2010

A potentially excellent source of Design Inspiration on this weekend!

Yorkshire Post Mid-Week Life & Style Section - Weds 21st April 2010

It can be quite a personal and financial trial researching a home project as you often have to travel to a variety of locations to find just the right items or accept less mileage and a lot of compromise.

If you are in the mood for a little makeover inspiration this Bank Holiday weekend you may be faced with less of a dilemma as one of the biggest home design events outside of London will be taking place between the 1st May and 3rd May at Tatton Park in Cheshire. Not exactly on the doorstep, but may well be worth a journey!

The Design Weekend Home and Garden Exhibition will be celebrating its 12th anniversary this year and continues to grow from strength to strength. Originally involving 25 exhibitors it now boasts over 200 stands and is the largest event of its kind in the North, opening its doors last year to around 20,000 visitors over a three day period.

The Design Weekend aims to be a melting pot of interior and exterior talents and services and boasts exhibitors from throughout the UK who should be able to help you with just about anything you can think of for your home and garden. Everything from swimming pools to garden rooms, kitchens and bathrooms, to fabrics, flooring and fires, galleries to gazebos.

You can expect to encounter the likes of retailers such as Porcelanosa, Oxfordshire Garden Furniture, Portrait Pools and Charles Crowson Handrails and be able to seek out advice from the range of interior home professionals attending the Weekend.

For those of you who know that your other half is a little less enthusiastic about visiting an event like this, you might want to dangle in front of them the prospect of demonstrations by local chefs and barbeques on the terrace or perhaps the Pimms Tents and Champagne Bar (well, it is a Bank Holiday weekend after all) – which may make the pill easier to swallow!

Event founder, Joanne Beedles, conceived the non-profit making weekend to help the local economy and to showcase good design away from London and the South East. It is a cause that she is passionate about. Indeed, over the twelve years the show has been held Joanne has personally financed the event on occasions to ensure it continued to run when times got tough. “I must be crazy, I know” says Joanne, “but I love a challenge and the event is so good”.

In the current market, when consumer events often seem to have been cancelled or diminished in size and stature, Joanne has been keen to continue to run the event for the benefit of everyone involved.

In the last few years the show has developed its own Design awards for property and interiors with attendees at the weekend getting to vote for their favourite projects, as well as getting an incite into the inspiration behind the schemes. Joanne sees the public voted awards as instrumental to supporting the design industry outside of London, saying “I feel strongly that we should all work together to create opportunity and expose talent”.

Even those who are unable to attend the actual weekend can still get to review the short–listed design projects and vote on-line at So there is no excuse for missing out.

Tickets for the Design Weekend are available on the day at £12 for adults, £8.50 for concessions, with Children under 16 going free. For more details or discounted advance ticket sales visit the website (listed above).

Hopefully, I might see you there.

Jamie Hempsall is a member of the British Institute of Interior Design and one of the region’s leading interior designers. Contact him on 01777 248463 or follow him on Twitter.

Monday, 26 April 2010

My thoughts on how British craftsmen create great interior design solutions to suit all budgets

One of the joys of working in interior design these days is just how much good choice is available to suit households with budgets of all shapes and sizes.

The British passion for design has probably never been higher and the options to satisfy this have never been greater. Design shows on TV abound and demonstrate new levels of sophistication.

Our interest in design means people are becoming more confident in expressing their interior desires and realising that their homes should work around them and not the other way around.

I find that this is leading people to want to develop their requirements very specifically. However, clients are still surprised when we advise them that personally designed pieces are no longer the realm of the super rich and that local crafts people can offer a wealth of cost-effective, tailor made choice.

These days the option to develop bespoke solutions extends beyond large areas such as kitchens or bathrooms. We often provide clients with individual pieces of cabinetry and other furniture where designs are developed not just to satisfy physical needs, but also to meet their aesthetic desires.

I have the pleasure of regularly engaging local crafts people to create these items and know it can be a delight to see a concept develop into something tactile and tangible which satisfies an individual’s personal requirements; giving them an extra frisson of pleasure each time they walk past or touch the piece in question.

One of my favourite people to work with is Martin Holliday, Design Director for Chiselwood. Martin is a trained cabinet maker and has won a number of national awards for his kitchen designs which are truly innovative and naturally beautiful. His passion for wood is particularly infective and his designs for all manner of items including bookcases, wardrobes, study furniture, beds, dining tables and chairs are always right on the nail!

Martin started life as an engineer working with metal, but soon discovered that he could be far more creative in wood, which he says is “a living material I love”.

What might have once been a hobby has developed into a major family run business, which nurtures new talent at its Saxilby workshops, where Martin is able to tightly control all aspects of his business. The recent changes in the economy mean that he has also seen a marked increase in people showing an interest in taking up apprenticeships, guaranteeing these skills will not be lost for future generations.

Martin sums up his design inspiration as “to make something that looks beautiful, without sacrificing the practicality”. This is an important aspect to consider when designing something for your home – so ask around and do not settle on the first person you find. Personal recommendation or practical example is always the best solution and a good craftsman is likely to enhance your design to meet requirements you might not even have considered.

Modern materials mean that designs can be developed to incorporate much more flexibility, featuring a whole host of finishes. Although Martin Holliday has a passion for wood he says he is not fixed on any materials and chooses the right ones to suit the client also incorporating painted finishes, natural stones, acrylics and composites as the brief requires. “At the end of the day” Martin says,” it is about developing a design that works with both a client’s personality and property type”.

So if you are having difficulty finding that perfect piece for your room, or you want to create something to commemorate a special event, seek out the expertise local to you. Your investment could pay wisely for generations to come.

Jamie Hempsall, BIDA, is one of the region’s leading Interiors specialists. Contact him via or follow him on Twitter!

Contact details:
Martin Holliday at Chiselwood Ltd
Fossdyke House, Gainsborough Road, Saxilby, Lincoln, LN1 2JH
01522 704446

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Spring Trends for Fabrics & Wallcoverings

As British Summer Time starts, interior designer Jamie Hempsall looks at this season's trends for your home

The last couple of weeks have proved a breath of fresh air as we once again remember the joy of sunshine and a bit of warmth. I know that as I write this we are actually facing the prospect of a return to showers and even snow, however, let’s forget that for the time-being and concentrate on the fact that officially Spring has arrived.

Obviously, this means Design Houses throughout the Country are ringing the changes and introducing new Spring/Summer Fabric and Wall-covering Collections for 2010.

It is customary in Spring to see to introduction of flora and fauna and this year proves no exception. Perhaps in a reaction to the excesses of the early naughties, colour palettes appear more natural than we have seen in recent years. Many collections feature calm hues of soft light pink or blue, teamed with natural brown, green or ochre. As you would expect light backgrounds (such as simple ivory and cream) play an important part in many collections.


A simple, yet delightful interpretation of the Spring theme is found in Bloom from Prestigious Textiles (£25.50/m; – 01274 688448) in Polyester Cotton featuring large flowers on never ending stems against muted cream or duck egg blue backgrounds. Those seeking a classic English Country Bouquet should consider Oranienbaum from the Pavilion collection by Designers Guild in 100% Silk (£70/m;

When it comes to wall-covering, simple and natural is epitomised by the clean, elegant 18th century Swedish designs featured in the Gustavus Collection from Zoffany. Their Eleonora paper hits all the right spots with beautiful birds on blossom covered stems (£42/roll; - 0844 543 9600).

Flowers are further emphasised in a number of collections featuring large white blooms on coloured backgrounds. These designs introduce an air of calm into any room and are ideal used as fabrics or wall-coverings.

Imperial from the Majestic Collection by Prestigious Textiles (£43/m; details as before) is a viscose polyester blend which feels like linen and helps avoid excess creasing.

Alternatively, the soft sheen of Rosella Silk from Harlequin Fabrics conjures up images of period summer dresses and tea parties (£52/m or available as a wallpaper at £39/roll; – 0845 123 6815).

If you want a more vibrant silk option choose Watelet by Designers Guild (details as before) which features pastel drawn white roses with charcoal stems on a number of striking backgrounds; available in 100% silk as a fabric (£70/m) or as a wallpaper (£43/roll).

Spring 2010 is an incredible season for lovers of toile which features in many ranges. The Chantemerle collection from Zoffany is an elegant re-working of 18th Century Copperplate toiles, incorporating a variety of subjects from classical panels to floral trails.

My personal favourite “Au Pied Des Ruines” bucks the monochromatic tradition showing country scenes that incorporate pink, green and brown to slightly lift the overall effect (£65/m as fabric or £44/roll as wallpaper; details as before).

Etienne from Harlequin reverses the traditional toile coloured print on a plain background, picking out the main design in small white panels and showing them against a striking coloured background: a design that works particularly well when you use it in wall panels or to upholster a bedroom seat (£30/m as cotton linen fabric or £44/roll as a wallpaper).

My advice when using toile is not to be half-hearted about it. It is a statement so be brave and consistent. Use a matching design (never mix patterns or colours) on walls, curtains and soft-furnishings. The range of fabrics available this year that include nautical and architectural themes mean that you can finally achieve this look without it being over-feminine.

Jamie Hempsall, BIDA, is one of the region’s leading interior designers. You can contact him on 01777 248463 or

Yorkshire Post Mid-Week Life & Style Section - Weds 31st March - Interiors