PUBLISHED: 17:30 08 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:09 20 February 2013
Cool spring light highlights all your home interior flaws, but luckily it takes just a few simple updates to refresh, revitalise and breathe new life into every room
Reupholster a tired sofa to bring new vitality to a love-worn favourite. When the fabric covering of a sofa shows the first signs of wear and tear, the base, springs and structure of the piece might well remain perfectly intact. Rather than opting to replace upholstered furniture entirely, the most economic and environmentally friendly solution is to employ a professional to re-cover the piece in a fabric fit for the purpose. Why not consider a fabric with big blooms in fresh colours to add a pretty and cheerful mood to interiors that are reminiscent of English country gardens? Contrasting cushions in complementary patterns and colours prevent the look from becoming too uniform, and enable you to carry the theme over to occasional or plainly upholstered chairs. Employ a professional and remember tospecify loose, washable covers for homes where children and pets feature.
Feminine, not frilly
Exuberant blooms on bedlinen are the height of prettiness but not always to the taste of ones other half. If your aim is a tranquil bedroom with feminine notes rather than a sumptuously womanly boudoir, the clever thing is to add in not only forgiving plains but also crisp, more masculine checks in toning shades. Here a romantic French bed is also kept suitably restrained with neutral upholstery. The end result is a look that should smooth its way under the radar. Conveniently this collection is pre-matched.
A posh dogs life
Give a dog his own bed and theres a chance you can save your sofa from moulting hairs and muddy paws. It can be tricky to find a resting place for mans best friend that is both comfy and cosy for the dog, yet stylish enough to suit your home. These lovely donut beds are rather cute and are made with canine comfort in mind. For dogs with creaky joints there are also memory foam flat beds that give added support. Both are available in either floral or doggie patterns in cotton, and one lovely linen Hound print by Emily Bond. And best of all they are machine washable to keep your home smelling fragrant and not of wet, muddy dog.
When updating the bathroom few people consider using a wallpaper as historically vinyls were the only option. This was because the PVC layer would protect the adhesive from moisture attack, which would mean the adhesive reactivated after getting wet, turning black with mould and then failing... so the paper fell off the wall. However, modern tub adhesives (rather than traditional powder-mix types) are much more resistant to moisture, so a top layer is no longer needed for protection. This opens up a world of creativity and leaves you free to decorate with some of the beautiful papers available, eschewing the usual clichs of vinyl options. Here a pretty paper has been used from Little Greenes new 50s Line collection (littlegreene.com), which has revived gorgeous archive designs.
A place for everything
If youre constantly fighting clutter in your home, regain control this spring with a thorough clear-out. Send unwanted items for recycling or to your local charity shop and then examine how to make best use of what remains. Off-the-peg storage accessories may accommodate items in the short-term, but for a long-lasting solution it is worth investing in built-in units. Customised, built-in storage, though more costly,offers tremendous adaptability and is especially suitable for older houses carrying architectural irregularities such as sloping floors or rough walls. In addition to using every last inch of space, its possible to blend built-in storage seamlessly with your interior, matching it with existing detailing, skirting, paint or wallpaper. For the ultimate storage solution, consider a boot room like this one (above) from bespoke joiners Plain English.
Kitchens, too, tend to look cluttered, but refitting the entire kitchen can be a major (and costly) task. By changing key elements such as worktops and introducing a free-standing storage unit you can transform the look with relatively little upheaval. Colour is an important factor of course. Black granite has been in fashion for worktops, but can look rather domineering; a dark grey shade is softer on the eye and can take the minimalist edge off a crisp white kitchen for a more timeless setting. Warm-toned wood is also appealing, as are warm but subtle shades for walls and paintwork.
Make an entrance
With so much focus on more prominent spaces in the home (sitting rooms, bedrooms or kitchens, for instance), it is easy to overlook the hallway. As the primary arteries in the home, they endure the most traffic of all living spaces yet they are often neglected. Fortunately youneed not go to great lengths to improve appearance of a hallway. Simply refreshing a stair runner and replacing scuffed or loose stair rods will make an immeasurable difference to its look and feel. Although neutral colours are a safe choice when it comes to floor covering, you can afford to be adventurous when it comes to this part of the home. Try bold colours such as crimson or aubergine for dramatic effect (opposite, far left).
Although we yearn to finally pack away the thickest woollen blankets and herald the arrival of bluer skies, it is wise to have warmer covers on hand just in case chilly nights descend. With ample space, store spare blankets in this large trunk (bottom left: dimensions 92cm length, 58cm height, 53cm diameter). Ideally suited for a guest bedroom, the handsome leather trim and brass stud detailing will add classic antique appeal. Place at the bottom of the bed and take advantage of extra display space: style with a welcoming vase of bright, spring flowers.
Celebrate the official start of British summertime (27 March) by investing in an eye-catching new clock. This replica period design (opposite centre) has been created using a special resin to emulate an enamel-domed wall clock. The eye is in the detail, with stressing and patina typical of a century old dial. Hang in the sitting room where its vintage yellow tones and artistic roman numerals will strike an elegant note, or create a refined finishing touch in pride of place on the kitchen wall.
After months of hibernation, it is nice to open our homes again to visitors, although looking at your dcor through prospective visitors eyes may suddenly bring on the urge to redecorate. As your hallway sets the first impression, this can be a good place to begin. With patterned walls increasingly in vogue again, wallpaper is a stylish update to consider. As this entrance (above right) shows, bold patterned paper can create intimacy without being overwhelming. The beauty of paper is that you dont spend hours (and pounds) on multiple tester pots, and if you call in a professional to hang, you can enjoy the benefits in just a day or two.
Old and new
Spring is a wonderful time for browsing for antiques at some of the nations biggest fairs, and in the current economic climate there are some very affordable buys around. If you seek an antique grandfather clock to bring instant charm to a hallway, the British Horological Institute can provide a list of members of registered dealers and restoration experts.
These ideas are adapted from The English Home magazine. The April edition is now on sale. For
a whole year of interior inspiration, subscribe online at theenglishhome.co.uk and receive five issues for just 5 when you pay by direct debit.