Diversity in the Interior Design Industry

The last few days have been extraordinary. The Black Lives Matter movement that began in 2013 has been brought back to the fore by the death of George Floyd and for some of us, including me, it is the first real awakening about what it means to be anti-racist. A huge amount of discussion and sharing of resources has been going on over on Instagram but I want to use my platform here to share what I have learnt and my intention to continue to learn in the hope that we can work together to bring about change.

What does this all have to do with Interior Design? Everything is the answer. For real change to happen every single facet of life has to be addressed as well as every industry. There is a very real lack of diversity in the interiors industry, especially in the UK as far as I can see based on my research over the last few days, from Interior Designers, to stylists, to influencers. Michelle Ogundehin, former Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Decoration UK, wrote a piece yesterday Let’s Talk About Diversity… and her insights on the topic are fascinating. I am very ashamed to say that I haven’t questioned it until now. That is white privilege. The drip feed effect of the lack of diversity is extremely harmful. I looked around my home at the beginning of the week when I started writing this piece and I made some shocking realisations. All my artwork is done by white artists and represents white people, most of the coffee table books are written by white people, the majority of the ornaments and one off pieces are made by white people, the textiles are designed by white people. Not only have I not supported black people and other people of colour in their work and spent my money on their products and services but I have also sent out very strong messages to friends, family and my daughter through what I share in my home. Yes, I’d challenge any one of them if they shared a racist joke or made a racist remark without hesitation but that’s not enough. We need to be reaching further than that and going deeper.

I make no assumptions but my guess would be that that pattern, of white buying and supporting white, must be repeated throughout a lot of homes. A bit like high street fashion being influenced top down from the catwalk, if the majority of the interiors industry is white the drip feed on normal every day homes will be that they are not filled with a diverse range of designers, makers and artists. This is where I can make some change as someone in the interiors industry, as someone who recommends products, showcases art in my home, shares other blogs, designs other people’s homes. I commit to diversifying my feed, my choices, what I present to you here, what I buy for my own home. Awareness is the start, doing it today is something but making it a structural change long term and forever is what is needed.

I want to share a few of the black interior designers and stylists, blogs and Instagram feeds that I have followed for years or have only just discovered in the last few days to make a small start on diversifying the influences around us. As well as following these designers if you would like to donate to support black designers you can do so through the Black Artists and Designers Guild: DONATE HERE.

Clare Gaskin: A London based interior designer that is very close to home. This commissioned piece representing Wimbledon Common is just amazing.
Hill House Vintage: I have no idea how Paula and her wonderful English country style has not been on my radar until now!
Curate and Display: Tiff is a wonderful stylist and her own home is beautiful.
Ishka Designs: A Brooklyn based design firm specialising in vacation properties around the world.
Justina Blakeney: Justina was one of the first designers I started following when I began my blog in 2013. Justina put some of her own artwork up for sale yesterday – it sold out really quickly but keep an eye out for more.
Romanek Design Studio: A hugely successful US based design studio founded by Brigette Romanek.
Grillo Designs: Medina is a DIY genius with loads of inventive and stylish interior hacks and ideas on her blog.
Nest Twenty Eight: Lucinda’s interiors and DIY blog is new to me and I look forward to exploring further.

There is a wealth of interiors inspiration on Instagram too. I found Africa’s account because her kids’ room is so beautiful and I have also been following the play area she’s been making in their garden with very keen interest as I want to do something similar for Mimi. Isa’s account is new to me and that garden is amazing! Ash, Jaz and Alison are also new to me – be sure to check out Jaz’s online art gallery too.

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Going forward with new awareness I hope I can do better. This is just a very small start.

Katy x

Children’s bedroom inspiration

As I said last week I am making some changes to Mimi’s room to make it work better for her age and I wanted to show you some of my favourite children’s bedrooms that I will use for inspiration. The only real change we need to make is the colour of the walls to pull the room together as we have already made changes to the storage and play space. Have a look at these rooms and I’d love to know which colour scheme you prefer…

Image via Alice in Scandiland

Mimi has been saying she wants a pink room since she was two – ha! I’m not completely sold on the idea as I love the current colour of the woodwork in her room but it won’t work with pink walls. However, if we were to make that change I just love these examples of soft pinks above and below.

Image via Mini Und Stil

Kerry has used Cinder Rose in her daughter’s room and I think that the darker pink in combination with the jute rug is really lovely.

Image via Kerry Villers

I just love this clever set up that integrates an IKEA Trofast unit and desk space using the wall colour.

Image via My Scandinavian Home

The other idea that I have is to keep the woodwork Light Blue and paint the walls Slipper Satin to make the room feel warmer and cosier. I imagine having a neutral base will have more longevity and I could pick out her wardrobe and paint that a bold colour – maybe the Cinder Rose from above. It would be a very similar feel to Siobhan’s daughter’s gorgeous room.

Image via Homestead

I’ve wanted to add wallpaper to the room since the beginning as I had wallpaper in my childhood bedroom and I just loved all the little characters and tracing the patterns with my finger. However, it is very expensive to buy and I’m not sure I’d be able to hang it myself very well. I do love this Farrow & Ball paper that would at least grow with the child.

This is a very beautiful example of using a neutral colour as a base and layering it with tonal pinks to give it just enough colour to make it interesting for a child.

Image via Blogga i Bagis

I’m not going to make any changes at this stage as we’re so busy with the garden and having Mimi at home full time doesn’t leave much time or energy for decorating jobs! I’ve got a quick fix planned just to make it look less of a muddle as we went into lockdown just as I’d started making changes. I’ll show you what I do on the blog soon!

Katy x

Garden design

I’ve come to realise that garden design is incredibly difficult! Unlike interior design where I find it easy to visualise the end result and how to get to that point, I could not for the life of me figure out what we should do with the space that we have let alone how to get there. I know in vague terms what type of gardens I like as well as the type of planting, materials and colours. However, translating that to a real garden is very difficult!

In an ideal world we would commission a garden designer as I think that’s a very worthwhile investment and can potentially save money in the long run but it just very simply isn’t within our budget. We also don’t have the money to fill the garden with plants immediately; it’s going to be an ongoing project for years and hopefully a very satisfying one.

Instead, I have turned to some really great inspiration from Houzz, which is a really useful resource for both interior and garden design ideas. I got it into my head that an oval lawn would be a good idea as our garden is rectangular and the idea of a rectangular strip of lawn with two beds running up the sides does not appeal to me at all. Therefore, I typed ‘oval lawn’ into the search box and I found two really lovely examples of rectangular gardens that have been transformed using this shape. Our garden is quite a bit smaller than these examples and with our new deck there is no where near as much lawn as there was but using images like these is all about identifying what you like and making it work with the space that you have.

I really love the way the oval lawn gives this rectangular ‘London Country Garden’ a whole new shape and the beautiful natural planting is gorgeous. Perfectly manicured gardens with lots of structured planting and built in planters is not my bag so I will definitely aspire to create something more similar to this. I think it’s really clever the way the shape of the lawn leads your eye around the space and then off into the distance and instead of making it look smaller, which would be the assumption when making a lawn smaller, it actually creates so much more interest that the space feels and looks larger.

This next London garden is much more similar to our space in terms of length and narrowness. The double oval is a such a brilliant way of softening the edges of the rectangular garden and introducing lots of beautiful planting. I think this is a really good example of making a very basic space a real beauty without the expense of things like swanky new fencing but real attention on planting that can be done over years to come.

Yesterday I started the process of creating beds on the right hand side of the garden (the left can’t be done yet as the turf was only laid a week ago). I want to try to create the figure eight lawn of the above garden, which will hopefully soften the rectangular shape of the garden and detract attention away from the ugly stark fencing. I want to plant as much as possible over time to cover all of those horrid gravel boards and add as much height and texture to the beds of the garden as possible. We really do want to keep as much lawn as possible, especially whilst Mimi is so young as she loves the space so I hope this design will strike a good balance.

So this is where we started eight weeks ago.
This is where we’d got to a couple of weeks ago when we found out the deck boards were delayed so we got the house painted in the mean time.
Last week we laid some turf over the patch where the concrete had been. In an ideal world we would have re-turfed the whole garden but we just couldn’t make the garden a no-go zone for up to four weeks whilst the turf beds in. Hopefully we’ll be able to do that at some other point when not in lockdown. I’m focusing on the right hand side of the garden for now whilst the patch of turf takes root so I laid out some bits of wood to roughly mark out the beds I want to create..
My wood markers helped a lot actually!
A lot of digging later…
I’m really pleased with the shape it’s already given the garden just digging those beds on the right side! Mimi says it looks like a heart and Jules says I’ve made a bum in the garden so they’re both pleased… (sorry about the terrible photos but the scaffolding for the house painting is still up).

What do you think? I’ve ordered some evergreens that we can put in this year, as well as a few perennials for some colour over the summer. We’ll patch up the lawn as best we can with grass seed and we’ve decided to lay stone under the pergola but we won’t do that now as the last eight weeks under lockdown with all this upheaval has been a bit trying at times and we’d quite like some time to just sit and enjoy the garden for a while once the deck is finished.

Katy x

Transforming the exterior of a 1930s terrace

There are lots of 30s houses that have interesting features, pretty shapes, beautiful brickwork or quirky windows. However, our house has none of those; it is a pebble dash square box with uPVC windows. Therefore, the white paint we are using is intended to create a very plain backdrop that I can layer with pretty plants and additions that will be the focus of attention rather than the house itself.

This may sound funny but I want to transform this small 30s terrace to look more like a cottage! I don’t want to try to make it look smart or modern as I think this would end up in a horrid mess and highlight the ugliness of the house rather than disguising it. I want to add softness and prettiness that will work well with white walls and use touches of black for contrast as we have a black side access gate (a new addition that our neighbour organised) and the bottom band of the house will be painted black. Basically, I don’t want the house to look too newly decorated or ‘done up’ – I want it to look as unassuming as possible.

Scalloped Antique Rose Plant Pot | Blackened bronze door numbers | Swan neck light

Eventually we will add a new wooden front door that will be a lovely bright colour and the only other colour will come from flowers. I would like a climbing rose around the door and some very muted tiles leading to the door – something with a period feel but nothing too flashy or attention grabbing. I haven’t sourced any of these things yet as we don’t plan to do it yet as we focus on the back garden. I also don’t have it clear in my mind what type of fence we should have at the front but Jules would really like to build a large planter behind it into which we can put our wisteria arch (it’s currently in two separate horrible silver planters) and add flowers and plants that will be seen above the fence to grab the attention rather than the large uPCV window at the front of the house. Our wonderful wisteria arch already does a good job of drawing attention away from the house.

This is my general vision that I hope will work out in the future. Getting the house painted is the most important piece of the puzzle so that is going to be a great motivator to transform the exterior over the coming months. Do you think I will be able to make it look more cottage than pebble dash terrace?!

Katy x

Painting the exterior of our 1930s house

Two months ago we planned to spend around £1000 on removing the concrete in our garden and replacing it with some sort of seating area. It was just supposed to be the beginning of improving the exterior of our house. As it became clear that lockdown was here to stay and we realised how much money we could save this spring and summer our plans began to snowball. We decided to spend more and do more: we repositioned the garden fence and added a side access gate, Jules dedicated himself to building a big deck, we created a pergola in the garden and then there was a pause…

Basically, Jules has finished the deck base (which is the biggest part of the process) but we heard that the deck boards we ordered were delayed by three weeks. At the same time we were discussing the fact that we need to fix the guttering on our house and that led to the idea of painting the house at the same time (I’m not sure what the connection there was!). As soon as we saw this house it was something that we have been very keen to do – Jules in particular finds the brown pebbledash very depressing. In fact, I still look at the estate agent details of our house which led with a picture of the exterior and I can’t believe I clicked through to look at more!

The estate agent pic of our house

Anyhoo, it makes perfect sense to paint the house before the deck boards go on as the house will need to be scaffolded and putting that on top of a deck is tricky because of the weight plus the risk of paint spattering on it.

The brilliant Jimi from J A Whitney Building Contractors, who painted the interior of our house, is doing the paint job. The scaffolding will be erected today and we will get the guttering fixed at the same time as the drips will ruin the new deck at the back.

It is a very big expense at £2200, including scaffolding for three sides of the house. However, I think the impact of the change will be huge and it would be such a shame to live here for another five years, get it done then and look back and wish we’d done it now when we had the chance.

I’m really excited to see the beginnings of the paint job. I think I will paint the front door as a temporary measure as the white paint makes the old uPVC door look worse in a way.

I will write another post to show you what we will do to the house to soften the white and the plans for the front garden. I can’t believe how many changes we are making at this crazy time – it is certainly a good distraction!

Katy x