Friday, 18 March 2011

Answering your interior design queries from ugly lightbulbs to fab 50s

I recently answered some interior design queries for the readers of my Yorkshire Post column which I thought you may find useful

We love the current 50s revival trend. Have you any personal recommendations for wallpaper collections? CH, Harrogate

Trends are often cyclical and it is probably no co-incidence that this year sees the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Festival of Britain – which celebrated the re-emergence of the UK after a difficult post-war era. 50s design was innovative, elegant and simplistic and is perfect for the modern era which has moved away from conspicuous consumption and design excess.

Little Greene has collaborated with The Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, which houses one of the largest wallpaper archives in the UK to produce their 50s Line Papers collection. The papers are careful interpretations of the original archive documents, adapted in scale and detail to honour the spirit of the period.

My personal favourite is “Herbes” which, unsurprisingly, featuring outlines of herbs accented against a rectangle of solid colours (£38.00 for a 10m roll - 0845 880 5855;

Alternatively, Sandersons has produced a collection of archive patterns and new designs inspired by this era. The range features bold colours and strong lines. The “Mobiles” design simply shouts 50s! (£36 for a 10m roll - 0844 543 4749;

We are struggling with ugly low energy bulbs that can clearly be seen in our light fittings. Do you have any suggestions that will help overcome this problem?
BB, Tadcaster

Two thoughts spring to mind to tackle this thorny issue. Halogen bulbs are now being created in styles that replicate the traditional tungsten and candle bulbs with clear glass outsides. They are perfect for use in normal lights and with chandeliers; they give a clean light and are dimmable. These bulbs are currently around 30% more efficient than traditional bulbs.

However, if you are looking for an alternative to a true low energy bulb Hulger has just launched the Plumen 001. This stunning design looks good on its own, but also works beautifully when visible in overhead and table lamps. It has been nominated for Product Design of the Year and Overall Design of the Year by the Design Museum, London.

It is currently available only in an 11w version (equivalent to a traditional 60w bulb), but comes in both screw and bayonet fittings. Bulbs are £19.95 each (0207 650 7882;

We are considering wallpapering our hallway, but are worried that it may become easily marked. What would be your advice? ME, Thirsk

I personally love wallpaper and think it gives a rich and welcoming finish to any room. It is particularly important to create an immediate welcome feeling in your hallway as it sets the tone for your entire home, so I would always recommend a paper where possible.

You will tend to find that gloss finish or woven wallpapers tend to be more hardwearing in this sort of environment and will cope with a degree of “wear and tear” as they are usually able to be wiped. Some can even cope with washing – although ensure you have checked the manufacturers details before attempting this!

However, a lot of people prefer a matt finish (particularly those with a penchant for designs that look more hand printed). If this is the case – or if you already have this type – then, once you have hung your wallcovering, you can use a protective water based decorator’s varnish which can be applied on top of the paper to provide a surface more resistant to marks and scuffing. The varnish is available in three finishes – satin, gloss and dead flat and is ideal for wallpaper, plaster, fabric and wood (£9.20 for 500ml - 0845 017 1671;

We want to prevent our wood furniture from marking the floors in our home?
NW, Attercliffe

With more homes opting for natural, tiled and laminate flooring marks from the wooden legs of furniture are becoming a much bigger problem. The damage is actually not just restricted to your floor, but also to the furniture which may also show signs of scuffing over time.

The simplest solution is felt padding, available from most DIY outlets, which can be cut to size and fitted to the bottom of your furniture legs. Treating your furniture in this way also helps to ease movement of these pieces.

If you are looking for a more long term solution, I would consider the Quickclick multi-part system. This uses a base cup that you attach to the leg of your furniture which can then accept four different glider types (specifically designed for wood, tiled or carpet flooring with a fourth offering anti-slip). The gliders are easily removed and interchangeable so that if you alter your flooring you can swap the glider without making a mess of your furniture. From £2.99 for 4 gliders (08454 706670;

Jamie Hempsall, BIID is winner of the Best Interior Design - North Award 2010 in the UK Property Awards in Association with Bloomberg Television.

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