Monday, 21 February 2011

The Mysteries of a successful Oriental Interior revealed!

February 3rd saw us enter the Chinese Year of the Rabbit which according to some interpretations is a year when good taste and refinement shine on everything and people will acknowledge that persuasion is better than force. So we can remain ever optimistic!

The East has influence interiors from virtually the moment that trading routes opened, from the blue and white patterns that have become a staple of porcelain design to the Toile de Jouy wallpapers and fabrics beloved of Country House and French themed interior design.

I adore the opulent colours found in classic Chinese design which has a strong link to nature and natural beauty. Each colour has specific meaning and is thought to help influence the lives of those in the household.

Of particular importance is red which features heavily at New Year and also other key celebrations. Red symbolises fortune, happiness and joy. Not a bad thing to introduce to any home.

If you want to add some Oriental influence there are no shortage of options, but ensure that it is not a half-hearted effort. The key to success is a bold, imperial colour palette (including red, emerald, gold and black).

Lacquered cabinetry with strong, clean lines makes an immediate statement (and often provides practical storage). There are varying qualities around, but a bit of investment will result in more longevity and enjoyment of your piece. Simple one colour designs with good brassware are classic, but why not embrace the rich depictions of nature which are a key feature of good pieces. Two of my favourites are the Red Butterfly cabinet from Artefact Interiors (£698 –; 0845 017 8275) or the Chinoiserie Red Lacquer Small Bedside Cabinet from Supatra (£325 -; 01753 858885).

Fabrics and soft furnishings are vital to create a warm, welcoming environment. Comfort and feel are key so include soft finishes and silks. John Lewis stock a wonderful range of items in their Pip Studio Chinese Rose Range (from £20 -; 0845 6049 049).

Choose a warm wallpaper such as Toile de Jouy Palais Chinoise from Osborne & Little (£52 per roll -; 020 7352 1456) which is available in key red or emerald and has a shimmering background that reflects light in the room. Alternatively, consider the Willow wallpaper from B&Q in striking black, green or red (£12.48 per roll -; 0845 850 0175).

Dress the room with Chinese influenced painted panels which often feature stylised depictions on a strong single colour background. Landscapes are particularly good to add the important element of nature. Alternatively, add some imperial style in the shape of a pair of hand painted Ancestor portraits from Gong (£275 -; 020 7370 7176).

May your year be filled with plenty of refinement and good taste!

Jamie Hempsall, BIID is an award winning Interior Designer. Contact him at or on 0800 032 1180.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Add more passion to your interior this Valentine's Day


No doubt you are extremely well organised and have already delivered your loved one a special gift & card this morning.  However, if you want to ensure that your interiors are as loved up as you are feeling this morning, then how about these ideas to inject some extra passion throughout your home.

For an intimate indication that should provide a warm glow for your loved one every time they enjoy a cuppa, how about a mug with a difference? The “Personalised Sand Hearts Mug” is perfect for anyone who dreams of tropical beaches. You can personalise with any name drawn into the sand next to the double heart design (£9.99; - 023 92 342465).

Alternatively, if you want a gift that marks you out as both a passionate and compassionate individual I would go for a beautiful Hand-stitched Heart Cushion, fair-trade produced in Kashmir, which combines a contemporary design with traditional methods of production (£20; – 0845 196 0256).

Mind you there is nothing that says you cannot be both romantic and practical at the same time. I think the Vintage White Heart Chalkboard cabinet sums this up perfectly, by allowing you space to store bits and bobs as well as scrawl your messages of love. Place it near the back door for a key store and last minute reminder board (£29.99; – 02392 469400).

The Banksy Balloon Girl wall sticker is perfect to make a more permanent bold, avant garde protestation of love. The wall sticker (inspired by the famous graffiti artist) can be placed on any wall to create a large focal point. Hopefully, it should never need removing, but if you plan to re-decorate gentle heat from a hair dryer should allow this sticker to be peeled off. This is one of a number of designs available from BrightonPOD which seeks to promote the work of Britain’s most talented independent designers and craftspeople (£24.99; – 01273 890990).

Should you be planning a gesture on a grander scale (or a hidden surprise to help pop a certain question) then you might consider the Red Heart Roller Blind from DigitexHOME. The blind features a vibrant, contemporary scrawled heart that shouts out “I LOVE YOU!” and is sure to lighten anybody’s mood no matter what the weather is like outside. Prices from £119.00 ( – 0161 873 8891).

Of course, if you really want to crown someone the King or Queen of your heart then you need a throne to place them upon. I would be hard pressed to find a better (or more comfortable) solution than the Tonon Heartbreaker Chair – in my eyes the perfect modern love seat!! (£1,885; – 01252 717771).

Jamie Hempsall, BIID, is an award winning Interior Designer and a member of the British Institute for Interior Design. For more inspiration visit his website or contact him on 0800 032 1180.