Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Be our guest


Ensuring your visitors feel at home can be a tricky business. Interior designer Jamie Hempsall offers some ideas.

It can be a bit of a luxury, but I know that many of us like to keep a bedroom as a guest room. I find the problem with many such spaces is they never lose the tag of spare room and get treated more as an after-thought.

For your guest room to be an attractive feature in your home, consider it an extension of your family’s living area. View it as somewhere you may want to sleep and you will come up with a considerably different design perspective.

A successfully-designed guest room should create a space where visitors feel instantly embraced by your home, but also have a sense of privacy. Think of a relaxing hotel feel, comfortable and neat, but with some more personal touches and you will not be far off the mark when creating the perfect guest space.

Start by mentally assigning your room its proper function and treat it as that at all times – work on the basis that someone could be staying at a moment’s notice and you will quickly overcome the “box room” concept.

The biggest rule is that your guest room must not become a dumping ground. If you need to store things make sure that you provide enough discrete storage and drawer space so that things can be hidden away, avoiding piles of clutter on the floor. Divan bed drawers are brilliant for this and the inclusion of a chest of drawers is always useful.

When designating the storage space, spare a thought for your guests’ needs and ensure that they have provision of the following:

* Drawers for underwear and tops
* Hanging space for coats, jackets and dresses
* A flat surface for toiletries and make-up
* Somewhere to store their overnight bag

This will ensure that they can unpack and relax without dealing with crumpled clothes or falling over luggage.

When it comes to beds and bedding do not skimp, but treat this as you would any other room in the house and budget for new additions, rather than depositing “hand me downs”.

The average life of a mattress should be 10 years with regular use; bear that in mind if you are “assigning” an old bed. If you would not be happy sleeping on it, should your guests be? Investing in a proper bed is vital, it need not cost the earth, but should at least be comfortable to inhabit for a few nights.

The size of bed should reflect the profile of your guests for the next three to five years. If the majority are single or children then two single beds make perfect sense and add extra flexibility. However, if they are more likely to be couples, then a double bed is the obvious choice. If your room can cope with it invest in a king size which will give your guests an extra six inches of sleeping space (still only equivalent to two standard single beds) as this is now the generally accepted minimum size for two adults to inhabit.

You should regularly invest in new duvets and pillows. Purchase good quality washable pillows and duvets so that your bedding not only looks inviting, but also is hygienic. The general rule of thumb on a pillow is it should be replaced after two years. You can extend the life of your bedding by investing in pillow and mattress protectors which can be easily washed on a regular basis.

I would always advise ensuring that your sheets, pillow cases and duvet covers are 100 per cent cotton – exactly as you would have on your own bed – with a thread count of 200 or more, to avoid allergic reactions. Again, design these into your scheme and do not hand down old bedding to your guests. Keep to plain colours, rather than patterns to avoid limiting any future redecoration and introduce interest into your scheme in the form of cushions and throws.

When it comes to bed dressing try not to overdo it. A plethora of cushions and bedcovers may look magazine-perfect, but can be a nightmare to get into and often have to be deposited all over the floor to allow your guest access to the bed. It also gives them the additional challenge of recreating your display when they get up in the morning. As a rule of thumb three cushions is a maximum on a double bed and one throw is sufficient.

For the finishing touches ensure your guests have access to a mirror (ideally full length), a clock, a reading light each and bath robes (to avoid an awkward streak to the bathroom).

Finally, do not forget to give them somewhere to hang wet towels to avoid damp bedding or damaged walls (as often happens when they are draped over radiators).

Applying these guidelines will ensure you make your guests feel perfectly welcome, how you get them to leave is up to you!

* Jamie Hempsall, BIID is an award winning interior designer. Visit www.jamiehempsall.com or contact 0800 032 1180.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Wallpaper Wonders

Interiors Tips - Wallpaper

Now that Spring is firmly in the air Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall looks at the latest wallpaper trends and offers you his top tips for successful decorating.

It seems that the interior world’s appetite for wallpaper continues to grow and grow.  The last decade has seen it transform from something vaguely passé to a key element in many design schemes.

I favour wallpaper over a painted finish in my room designs as I consider that the overall effect is generally much softer and, if treated correctly, wallpaper is incredibly resilient giving a good finish that will last for years.

One of the emerging themes in wallpaper this Spring are recollections of the “Grand Tour” and early explorers.  Several ranges feature soft graphics reminiscent of historical printing techniques or the pencil drawings of the pioneering travellers who first began to map the globe and report on their amazing findings.

Cartography, calligraphy and mathematical symbols also feature in a number of collections which nod in the direction of early scientific discoveries.

The Intaglio Collection from Zoffany (www.zoffany.com - 0844 543 4748) is named after an early method of printing where ink is wiped into recesses or troughs on the printing plate – in contrast to relief printing where raised surfaces are inked up for printing.  The collection features a range of non-woven papers featuring exquisite maps of London taking from an original design on a silk handkerchief dating back to 1832, which build to form a beautiful pattern that only reveals its origins on close inspection (£48 per roll).  

There are also a number of beautiful architectural representations including Facade which was inspired by the pen and ink drawings of the great Renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio (£48 per roll).

The Navigator Collection from Andrew Martin (www.andrewmartin.co.uk - 020 7225 5100) also features wonderful early UK maps in their Traveller design (£39.90 per roll) and an intriguing array of handwritten mathematical calculations in Pythagoras (£39.90 per roll) which is available in a selection of muted backgrounds – the perfect solution for a home study.

Osborne and Little (www.osborneandlittle.com - 020 7352 1456) has introduced the Grand Tour collection inspired by the artistic and architectural treasures of Italy, as reported by aristocratic Englishmen on the Grand Tour of Europe.  Laguna features monochrome storks, straight out of an artist’s sketch book (£46 per roll). 

In contrast Loggia is an innovative holographic foil print of an Italianate staircase rendered in black and silver which results in a design, initially puzzling to the eye, but ultimately visually stunning (£78 per roll).

The Linnaeus collection from Designers Guild (www.designersguild.co.uk - 020 7351 5775) returns to the sketch books of the early tourists with finely drawn graphics and restrained elegance.  The topiary sketches in the Linnaeus design are restfully simple single colour renditions on a plain white background (£45 per roll).  Bergius features a strong contemporary classical design (£45 per roll).

In general, I use wallpaper to contribute to a scheme, rather than dominate it: choosing colours or designs that pick up on the key elements of the room, without imposing too much of their own personality.  That being said, if you are opting for plain fabrics for your soft furnishings these can be artfully framed by an oversize print with plenty of contrasting colour.

When choosing a design, it is important to consider the overall proportions of your room.  If you are opting for a large pattern, ensure that your room is big enough to cope with it.  You should be able to stand far enough away from a design to appreciate it in its entirety or if this is not the case, visitors to your room can feel disoriented.  Be aware that large patterns tend to make a very bold statement in a small environment; one that most of us would find difficult to live with.  

If you are worried about wear and tear in high traffic or areas with limited space (such as staircases) then it is a good idea to opt for gloss finish or vinyl wallpapers that tend to be more hardwearing.  However, you can also 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. 

Hanging your wallpaper correctly is vital – edges need to butt together and it is important to pay attention when matching the pattern repeat to ensure that the end result is seamless, rather than appearing to be a selection of disjointed panels.   Never skimp on wallpaper paste – it is worth paying for a good quality solvent that will stand the test of time. 

If applying paste strikes the fear of dread into you, look for non-woven wallpapers.  These allow you to put the paste directly on the wall and then apply the dry paper making the task considerably easier (and allowing you the flexibility of manoeuvring the paper a little more on the wall).

Ultimately, wallpapering is one of those tasks where it really is worth getting in a professional if you are unsure of your capability.  After all, when you look at the cost of each roll it really does make sense to get it right first time.

Jamie Hempsall is an award winning interior design and member of the British Institute of Interior Design.  Contact him via his website www.jamiehempsall.com or call him on 0800 032 1180.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Gifts fit for a future king - and queen

After a quiet run up over the last few months Royal Wedding fever is finally beginning to build. It is clear this will be a very modern marriage celebration reflecting the young and vibrant personality of our future Monarch.

Many companies have picked up on the dynamic of this Royal partnership and developed more modern memorabilia to adorn your home.

The combination of quality workmanship and, in some cases, the ability to raise a smile makes these items my pick of the crop for adding Royal Wedding glamour to your interior!

W2Products, the home of the legendary Pantone range, have designed a pair of Right Royal commemorative mugs which could become iconic. Available in Pink for Catherine and Blue for William, they are crafted from Bone China, manufactured in the UK and feature a regal love-heart crown on both front and rear. Perfect for taking afternoon tea to celebrate on the big day! (£10 each; www.w2products.com - 020 7922 1444).

Once you have finished supping you will need to wash up and hunkydoryhome have the perfect article for drying your mugs in the shape of their “Love Is In The Heir” Royal Wedding Tea Towel. This cheeky design is available in Royal blue and regal red. (£10.50; www.hunkydoryhome.co.uk – 0191 645 4004).


Then you can settle down to watch the event in style from the William & Catherine Commemorative Chair by Metal Design Furniture which features the couple’s names and wedding date and is available in white or gold. (£185; www.metaldesign-furniture.co.uk – 020 8144 6621).

Add extra comfort and style to your seating with the Royal Wedding Cushion by Jan Constantine. This features an exquisite hand-embroidered and appliquéd design: truly modern memorabilia with a traditional twist. (£93; www.janconstantine.com – 01270 821194).

Why not extend the celebration to your bathroom and experience the feeling of an actual Royal wedding gift, by purchasing the same limited edition souvenir towel set which has already been sent to Clarence House. The set, designed by internationally acclaimed luxury linen and home accessories company Yves Delorme, includes a hand and guest towel embroidered with the names of the happy couple, a regal crown and distinctive pairing of Royal swans. (£99; www.yvesdelorme.com – 01296 394980).

Of course if you want to invite the Royal couple permanently into your home, you will have to act quickly to secure a pair of Royal Wedding Sliding Doors. They have been specially produced by Spaceslide and feature a funky modern negative image of the Catherine and William. Available in a variety of hues from now until the big day (from £448; www.spaceslide.co.uk – 0800 980 3499).

Jamie Hempsall is an award winning interior designer. Visit him at www.jamiehempsall.com or call 0800 032 1180.