Reupholstery and choosing a fabric

When my grandmother died nearly twenty years ago I was given the little chair that had always been in her guest room and that she herself had upholstered many, many years ago with Sanderson’s Chelsea fabric (she also made a matching headboard and Lloyd Loom laundry basket top). After moving around with me from home to home the upholstery on my precious chair has finally fallen apart. It is my 40th birthday next month so I thought a perfect present would be to get the chair re-upholstered to give it many more years of life.

I have found a local to me upholsterer Sharp & Simpson so Micaela and her team will do the upholstery but I have decided to source the fabric myself. Now, if we had an unlimited budget sourcing fabric would be a very lovely task BUT all of the fabrics that I like best are soooo expensive and the chair requires 3 metres of the stuff! Therefore, I thought I’d share some of the fabrics and stockists that I have been looking at as I know it is something that can prove to be a minefield. A couple of tips I will also offer are, firstly, do always, always order fabric samples. The two things that you need to be sure of and can check with samples are the texture of the fabric and scale of the print. The scale, in particular, will have a huge impact on which fabric you choose for which project. And secondly, try and find an image of the fabric on a chair, cushions or curtains to help you visualise it as a 3D object.

My grandmother’s chair that she upholstered in Sanderson’s Chelsea fabric sixty plus years ago. It used to be in our bedroom in our last flat and it was a bit tattered but still looked lovely but when we moved I put it on Mimi’s room and it got wrecked!

I would say that I have always found fabrics and textiles a stumbling block for me price wise especially when hand printed and made on small print runs. It is very hard to replicate beautiful textiles on the cheap, which is what I try to do with a lot of other aspects of an interior. So what I advise is to use nice plain fabrics (generally much, much cheaper) for large pieces such as sofas and curtains and maybe save up to buy one metre of an amazing print to make a couple of cushions, a lampshade, adding an edge or hem to a pair of curtains, a footstool or tablecloth.

I feel very lucky to be able to get my chair done and it is currently in our living room but I am prone to moving furniture around often and it is a perfectly sized bedroom chair so I want to choose a fabric that will work in any room. That being said I do want to choose a pattern for the chair as we have lots of plain fabrics in our house and I want to slowly build up more prints.

The chair now sits where this cane rocker was (I had to return the rocker as it broke shortly after buying it) so it sits on quite a busy rug but otherwise the only colours it needs to work with are Light Blue (on the woodwork) and Railings (in the kitchen).

The two prints that I am drawn to most are William Morris & Co’s Willow Boughs and Guy Goodfellow’s Olive Sacking in Rosewood. I think both would work really well in the room and the other colours/patterns and they are also very classic so the chair could move around rooms pretty easily.

Guy Goodfellow’s Olive Sacking

The Olive Sacking stripe is too expensive at £80 per metre so I found a cheaper alternative from The Cloth Shop, which is an Oxford Stripe, and it is double width so would cost about £50 for three metres. I ordered a sample and it is really lovely quality but I don’t love it as the fabric doesn’t have much texture and I think I’ll be disappointed with the final result. Therefore, I feel more inclined to go with the Willow Boughs as I have loved that print forever and I know I will never bore of it.

Some of the other traditional fabrics I considered are relatively traditional as it is a very old chair.

And then the way out of price range more modern block prints from Virginia White, Molly Mahon, Penny Morrison, Mimi Pickard and Rapture and Wright.

Virginia White – Three Lines
Virginia White’s Three Lines as seen in Laura Jackson’s home featured on The Modern House. Love, love, love these chairs. I really like the idea of salvaging an old sofa or chair and getting them covered in something gorgeous and classic like this.
Rapture and Wright – Cloud Garden
Molly Mahon – Bindi Pink. This chair looks so sweet but I definitely want something bolder in my living room as it’s an open plan room and I reckon this light print would get lost.

The fabric libraries can be so overwhelming with thousands and thousands of fabrics to choose from so do check out Pattern Spy for more inspiration and introductions to designers. If you know of any fabrics that you think would work on my chair do drop me a line too!

Katy x

Wall art for a child’s bedroom

Since making changes to Mimi’s bedroom I have been thinking about re-jigging the wall art in there and adding a couple of bits. I still remember what was on the walls in my childhood bedroom and children spend so much time looking at and absorbing their surroundings so wall art is very important. There are a few artists and makers that we have bought from before or known about for a long time but I would also like to tell you about a couple of artists that I have found more recently as I personally try to support more black-owned businesses and reflect their work here on the blog.

This is the main piece that we have in Mimi’s room that will be staying. It is by Christian Jackson and is now available from Wayfair (I had to get my copy from the US as I bought it so long ago).

I’m going to buy Mimi a ballet themed print by EmmaMakeStudio as I know she will adore it as she has really latched on to ballet and loved her lessons before lockdown started. I also love Emma’s Alphabet series, particularly the Lobster.

I have found the work of Christa David on Instagram recently and I love her collage prints. I think this would be a wonderful piece for a child’s room.

‘I will not give up’ by Christa David

I just love these very sweet prints with lots of details for children to study.

Two very local and lovely artists that I know and I’m sure you will have seen them here before are Max Made Me Do It and Lisa Stickley, both of whom do wonderful children’s prints.

And here are a few other really lovely bold prints to brighten a child’s bedroom…

If you want a larger range of prints to choose from check out King and McGaw (the Molly Brett prints kill me with their sweetness!) as well as the V&A’s children’s prints. And for something a little different have a look at the Fine Little Day selection of children’s prints.

Katy x

Budget friendly ways to make changes and add value to your home post-lockdown

AD – This post is a paid collaboration with Trussle

I think you probably know this by now but I spend the majority of my time thinking up ways of making homes look and feel as good as possible on a budget; you could say I am a little obsessed. At home instead of watching the TV, I’m actually staring at the alcoves thinking about budget-friendly storage, instead of chatting at the dinner table I am most probably staring out into the garden thinking of DIY projects to do next year. During lockdown the ideas have been racing around my mind at record pace; the list of projects to update my home is very, very long but the budget is very, very small! It is far too easy to get used to things looking and working a certain way in our homes but with just a few tweaks we can make a dramatic difference.

We worked very hard to create this kitchen for just over £1000. There are so many ways to make your home feel better without spending a huge amount of money.

In my work as an interior designer, I am constantly handing out little interior design tricks here, bits of advice there, as well as putting them into practice in my own home. That is why I am very excited to be pulling all of my tips to update and renovate on a budget into one piece for fee-free online mortgage broker, Trussle. Now more than ever after months of lockdown, we want to make changes after spending so much time at home. You can read my 9 Ways to Update your Home Interiors on a Budget now.

However, it is an uncertain time – with 1.8 million homeowners on a mortgage holiday and the end of the furlough scheme approaching – so many of us are looking to cut down on our outgoings where we can. Since the lockdown began, Trussle has seen a huge leap in enquiries for remortgages, with Trussle’s customers saving an average of £344 a month by remortgaging to a more suitable deal.

If you’re a homeowner wanting to make some improvements to your home but need to make some savings, why not see if you can remortgage to a better deal and cut down on your monthly outgoings? Trussle’s new remortgage calculator for homeowners shows you how much you could save and it compares the latest deals on the market every day,  alerting you if it’s time to switch your mortgage to a more suitable deal.

Some quick and easy updates will help add storage and personality to your home like these cabinets I hacked by adding cane panels.

And what if you want to sell? There have been reports of a rise in property searches since the end of the property market freeze and with the stamp duty holiday announcement. With this in mind, homeowners need to make changes to add as much value as possible to their property, ensuring it looks great whilst spending as little as possible on renovations.

A really effective way to dramatically transform a room is to change the colour of the woodwork whilst leaving the walls neutral.

This is where I come in. I have shared lots of ideas for updating our homes post-lockdown to make them feel more spacious and more organised, as well as things we can do to make our homes feel more like us and less generic. I’ve also been looking at ways to fit in a home office whether that’s in a bedroom or living room. And for anyone who needs to do some budget friendly DIY to add value in order to sell, I have lots of advice on the best ways to do that, from quick and easy kitchen updates to bigger DIY projects that will make a dramatic impact when it comes to putting your house on the market. You can read my guide here.

As for me, I plan to carry on with our renovation inside after our huge lockdown effort in the garden. First up is a quick update in the living room by painting inexpensive laminate cupboards, next comes sanding the hallway floor and maybe the stairs (I’ve been dreading that job!) and then I will be moving on to some DIY wardrobes for the bedroom.

One of my first post-lockdown DIY projects will be to sand and paint our stairs – I’ve been dreading this job!

I hope my guide to budget friendly ways to improve your home will be useful for you whether you are planning changes to make your home work better for you or whether you want to sell. There are also lots of ideas that can be used if you don’t own a home and rent so please do take a look.

Katy x

Wallpaper – love it or hate it?

Where do you stand on wallpaper? I feel like it’s something people either love or hate. I absolutely love it and have been longing since we moved here to wallpaper all of downstairs, the hallway above the dado rail as well as the spare room. However, wallpapering is not something I would feel confident about doing myself – I’m quite a slap dash DIYer and I don’t think that would work well with expensive wallpaper. It costs a lot and it can’t be changed anywhere near as easily as paint can be. I am 100% sure that I want a beautiful bay leaf design paper from Sandberg for our living room. I ordered samples last year and I still love it and have even started making decor decisions in my living room based on the idea that I will one day have it!

Karolina Green

The Karolina paper is similar to the William Morris paper Willow Boughs that I have always loved and Brigette Romanek’s bathroom is up there as my favourite ever with this gorgeous wallpaper:

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I stopped in to my sister’s new house that is being renovated this week (see the post I wrote with the before photos and floor plan here) and she has chosen some very bold wallpapers. I particularly love these Ottoline wallpaper designs; the black and white paper is in my sister’s bedroom and the colourful pattern is in my niece’s bedroom. I can’t wait to see these rooms finished.

Elsewhere in the house a soft chalky pink with a good dose of brown has been used downstairs and that also runs upstairs into the bathroom, which creates a lovely warm ambience.

The other place my sister has chosen wallpaper is above the dado rail in the hallway, which is something I have always wanted to do in my own home. I love the idea of something dramatic to go with the Inchyra Blue on the woodwork (you can see some very early pictures of our hallway in this post, which was shortly after we moved in so it looks a bit different now). I recently discovered Mitchell Black designs and I think his Orange Grove wallpaper would be amazing in our hallway. I’ve also lusted after this print for ages:


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Anyway, just some random wallpaper rambling for you this week until the day comes when I can actually get it up on the walls!

Katy x

How to do a half-painted wall for a child’s bedroom

Hello, hello! I have to be honest and say that I have completely dropped all of the balls in the childcare/work juggle of late and the thought of painting a wall (albeit just half a wall) would tip me over the edge right now! I actually did this mini-makeover a few weeks back when I was pumped with motivation for the garden and we were in the middle of a long break waiting for deck boards so I turned my hand to Mimi’s room in my frustration to get things moving. I do not predict any more projects until schools re-open, believe me.

Ahyhoo, if you remember I had started doing a big shift around in Mimi’s room pre-lockdown to transform it from a baby’s room to a toddler’s room. I am SO pleased that I did do this because her room has been a little sanctuary for her over the last months of being at home all of the time and it has worked perfectly as a place to play rather than just a place to sleep and dress, which it had been before. I had intended to do a big re-decoration project in here BUT I decided a quick fix would have to do using only what I had at home already (as this was during full lockdown) just to make the room feel more ‘finished’ after changing up the furniture.

Light Blue estate emulsion from Farrow & Ball to match the estate eggshell woodwork.

I had a load of holes to fill where I had removed shelves, which meant getting paint out so I decided to paint half of the wall in the same colour as the woodwork as I had left Light Blue Estate Emulsion from my bedroom. I hoped the colour would unify the room more as it felt disjointed and jumbled since I changed the furniture around (often a problem when you disturb an existing ‘scheme’). So, this is how I did it…

This is the wall where I had lots of holes to fill and would need painting one way or the other. This wall has the door on the left and the window on the right so it is naturally divided from the rest of the room so just painting this wall would not look out of place.

Use frog tape (the green) to mark where you want your line to reach. I used a tape measure to mark the height of my line at several points along the wall and then used those marks to help me place the tape.

There is no right or wrong on how high the line should be – I was guided by the IKEA Trofast cabinet on the wall as I didn’t want to paint too near that and it ended up 105cm from the top of the skirting board. When you are in the middle of lockdown and you run out of frog tape switch to normal decorator’s tape (blue) and it will work just as well! Make sure the tape is stuck down really well to the wall on the bottom edge where you paint up to as this is where you don’t want paint to creep beneath. Good tip for painting is to line your roller tray with foil so you can throw this away at the end and avoid cleaning out the tray.

I always think three thin coats in better than two thick coats – the first coat you can see above is very thin as I think my old paint was watered down for the last job it was used for – and thin coats dry much quicker too. Roll or brush down the wall so you don’t end up pushing paint beneath the tape.

It took me a total of about two hours start to finish (I’m not one for leaving paint to dry as long as it should do!) and it really has helped to unify the room and make it feel a bit more interesting.

There was a play kitchen here but I swapped it out for this children’s table and Olli Ella Pollie shelf that had been in our living room and since relegated to the loft. Mimi wasn’t playing with the kitchen at all but she’s suddenly really into colouring in and drawing so this works perfectly. I’ll get the kitchen down from the loft in a few months time and it will be like Christmas 😉

The other big change was swapping the white rug that we had in here that was from her first nursery in our flat for this round jute rug (PR sample). There were two reasons for this: firstly, the colour and texture is much more forgiving and doesn’t show up mess and dirt and secondly, I think it helps make the room feel more grounded and less airy fairy baby style.

I layered the jute rug with another mat that I bought from H&M a while back and had downstairs in Mimi’s play area just to add a bit more interest (it is no longer sold in H&M but try this one). We also took down her fabric canopy as she asked me to (sob!) so I took the opportunity to put up some shelves in the alcoves using some old inserts from a book shelf that we had in the loft and some very old brackets (don’t look too closely as they have been in the outdoor storage boxes and are very stained). I kept a bit of pink with the OYOY duvet cover (PR sample), which is currently out of stock but try this blush pink duvet cover set instead if you are looking for something similar.

The thing that has kept her occupied more than anything the last few months is this fancy dress corner. By positioning one of the IKEA Trofast units at a right angle to the wall I created a cosy corner for her fancy dress bits, which are in the drawers as well as the rail. She chose this cute OYOY leopard rug (PR sample) to go in this corner (it’s actually out of stock but this lion rug is similar) and it’s nice to have more neutral colours instead of all the sickly sweet pinks that had been creeping into the room 😉

I would still like to paint the secondhand wardrobe a nice vibrant colour maybe taking a colour from the princess and pea poster but the change of rug has really helped to make the room feel more grown up.

I’m really pleased with how much more functional the room is for her now; there is space to play, storage for toys, and everything is accessible so she has complete control.

Mimi now has a completely accessible bookshelf, a desk for drawing, a storage unit for toys and a dressing up corner whereas before it was just a big chest of drawers along this wall for clothes.

I’m quite pleased with that for two hours work and I think we’ll leave it at that until she’s five or so other than adding some prints for the walls. We will then pass her bed onto my new niece and get her a bunk bed so that she can have sleepovers…eeek!

Katy x