10 tricks interior designers won’t tell you

10 tricks interior designers won't tell you | H is for Home

Whilst you may already have a few ideas for revitalising your home’s appearance, putting them into practical action could be difficult – and seemingly call for the services of an interior designer. However, we’re going to reveal some tricks such designers may prefer to keep secret.

Hang artwork at a suitable height

We may not know huge amounts about art, but we know what we like – pictures, posters & paintings hung in such a way that we can view them easily. Artwork is often hung too high; keep the bottom of each piece a mere 7½-20cm/3-8 inches higher than furniture. Leaving too much space in-between creates a distracting void.

Shelf with books stacked vertically and horizontally

Shelve your books horizontally & vertically

Have 60% of your bookshelves’ tomes stacked vertically and leave the remaining 40% stored horizontally. This is good for creating both visual balance and spontaneity, says Reader’s Digest. Intersperse the books with other objects such as vases, framed photos or potted plants.

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Position mirrors around 132cm/52 inches up from floor level. Opting for this kind of placement with your mirror can avoid, for most people, the stooping or tip-toeing that can happen whilst attempting to take a look at themselves.

Table and chairs with place settings and centrepiece

Set the table

If you’re planning on buying a new dining table, choose one that exceeds 90cm/3 foot in width. This should leave sufficient space for diners’ plates and cutlery along with, in the centre, serving dishes and centrepieces. If the room it’s going into is fairly small, a circular table might be a better option.

Colour a room happy

When bringing colour into a room, it’s good to give 60% of it over to a dominant hue, assign 30% of it to a secondary tone and designate the remaining 10% to an accent colour.

White-painted pallet coffee table on wheels

Get the measure of your coffee table

These days, a sofa seat is typically around 50cm/20 inches high – a comfortable height for sitting. That leaves the ideal height for a coffee table at approximately 38-50cm/15-20 inches. A convenient position for setting down and picking up your cup of coffee, book and remote controls.

Make fresh use of old pieces

Don’t assume that making your home look fresher automatically entails buying lots of new furniture and fittings. It may be far better to re-purpose existing items. Example ways of doing so are suggested by Freshome, which suggests turning an antique vase into a utensil holder or an old dresser into a bathroom sink and cabinet.

semi-sheer white Roman blinds at a kitchen window

Be flexible with your budget

Spotted some floor-to-ceiling curtains in a luxurious fabric? They might be outside your budget – in which case, cheaper Roman blinds made from the same fabric could be a more affordable option. Similarly, you could forgo pricey custom cabinets in favour of stock cabinets, the door fronts of which can be customised with a paint job or new handles.

Put familiar rooms to different purposes

A room you’ve long has as a little-used dining room could actually make a good home cinema or games room, while a living room could be re-imagined as an office, says NOLA.com.

Lantern roof installed over a kitchen

Create balance

This includes balance in colour, texture, furniture and lighting; the installation of lantern roofs could particularly assist you with the last of those.


Our custom-made roller blind from Contrado

Our downstairs cloakroom with new custom-made roller blind from Contrado | H is for Home

We’ve recently undertaken a programme of home improvements here at H is for Home. These range from quite major jobs like re-pointing gable-end walls and chimney repairs – to smaller scale tasks such as redecoration and general sprucing up of neglected corners.

The old white roller blind in our downstairs cloakroom | H is for Home

One room that needed some attention was our downstairs loo. The window area in particular was very tired – a bit grubby if we’re being honest!

Window sill with rust stains from plant tins | H is for Home

The old blind was dull and way past its best – and the sill had been stained by plant pot bases over the years. We discovered the lovely folk at Contrado on Instagram and they asked us if we wanted to try out one of their roller blinds. Perfect timing!

Vintage 12 Angry Men film poster | H is for Home

London-based Contrado offer a service whereby you can customise & personalise all manner of homewares, fabrics, gifts and clothing.

Pattern on our custom-made roller blind from Contrado | H is for Home

Customisable is a very apt word indeed. We measured the window and recess so the blind fitted perfectly. We chose which side we wanted the chain on, the material the chain was made of… even the pattern (and size of the pattern) printed on the fabric. We looked online and found a copyright-free design that we liked and Photoshopped it to get the exact colours we wanted. The blind was delivered swiftly and exactly as we specified. It’s very well made and the materials used are excellent quality. The large stylised flowers are reminiscent of Marimekko fabric designs we like. There are lots of house plants in our downstairs loo – and the window also looks out onto the garden – so the pattern picks up on all this natural vegetation. We went for a grey & orange colourway on a slightly off-white background. The room has an exposed stone wall with grey tones – also silvery chrome fittings and galvanised metal containers. There were already quite a few orange decorative touches in the room such as the vintage film poster and plant pots. The blind really helps pull it all together.

Our downstairs cloakroom with new custom-made roller blind from Contrado | H is for Home

Installing it was a straightforward 20-minute job. As we were changing the blinds we took the opportunity to touch up all the paintwork. We’re very happy with the results. It’s been a really good return on half a day’s work. It’s overall much brighter and fresher – and the blind really lifts our spirits when we enter the room!

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How to decorate your home on a budget

How to decorate your home on a budget | H is for Home

If you’re looking to give your home a new lease of life, but you don’t have the budget to spend a lot on materials or furniture, then there are still many things you can do to brighten up your home. However, if you’re staring at the walls and struggling to think of any ideas, then here are a few that can help get you started.

Paint and paint brushes

Use paint creatively

Using paint to bring some colour back into your house is ideal, whether you are staying in the house or getting ready to sell. It is a popular idea to add a splash of colour to just one wall to create a feature wall. It allows you to use vivid and bright colours without going over the top. If you are feeling particularly daring, you can paint the whole room in a bright colour, though the rest of the furniture of the room should be in neutral colours to avoid clashing. Using paint can work in any area of the house, though it is particularly effective in bedrooms and living rooms. Also, don’t forget about the exterior of your home, either!

Spacious living room

Switch things around

If your budget doesn’t stretch to new furniture, then that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a new look. Think about what you already have and see if you can change things around. Maybe something that has been in the bedroom for years can find a new lease of life in the living room. It doesn’t matter what it has been used for in the past; you can create new and exciting ideas just by using it differently. You should also think about what you no longer need, as a room that is cluttered can feel untidy and cramped. If you can identify some things you no longer want, then send them to the local charity shop or sell them online. You may even raise enough money to buy something else.

Sofa, pot plant, chest of drawers and tall floor lamp

Choose your lighting

You may not think so, but lighting can have as much of an effect on a room as decorating. By adding some side table lights or a standing lamp, you can create a nice comforting mood in the room. It’s perfect for the evening when you want to sit back and relax after a hard day at work. If you already have side lamps, then think about moving them to other areas of the room, or to another room altogether. Why not use some old fabric to recover the lampshade? It will need to be fire resistant, but you can easily create a lamp that will match the décor of the room.

Grey sofa with contrasting cushions

Add some cushions

Your budget probably won’t allow you to afford a new sofa, but you can still give it a new lease on life. Try buying some cushions in a colour that matches the walls; they can be scattered on the sofas to give them a new look. Get some of different sizes and colours so that it doesn’t look too uniform. You can apply the same trick to the bedroom, buy some cushions to go on the bed during the day. It will make the room look better, and it will be great to sit up in bed reading with them around you.

Sewing workspace

Try matching fabrics

If you are handy with a sewing machine, the possibilities are endless with what you can create. Buy yourself some material that matches your colour scheme and make some curtains to go along with some cushion covers. It means you won’t have to buy new cushions and it will be cheaper than buying ready-made curtains. You can even take it a step further and buy towels in matching colours for the bathroom and kitchen. If you can get enough material, you can even make bedspreads or bed linen with one side plain to offer a contrast.

Small, circular mirror above a side table

Add size and light with mirrors

One of the quickest and easiest ways to add another dimension to your room is using mirrors. They don’t have to be new; you can find interesting ones in charity shops. By placing them on the wall, they can make the room look a lot bigger. They can also reflect any light in the room to offer a brighter look. To add a little style, you can experiment with multiple mirrors in a room; go for different sizes and designs, which will make it look special.

Using a staple gun to reupholster furniture

Recover and reuse

Apart from just moving your furniture into other rooms, you can also redesign them to make them more contemporary. An old chair might look as though it needs to go, but with some fabric to cover the chair and some paint, you can give it a whole new look. You will need to sand down the wood and remove the old coverings before you start, but it isn’t as hard as it sounds, there are guides out there that can walk you through the process. Once you have mastered the idea, you can tackle any furniture in the house in the same way.

Monochrome framed poster above two white metal trolleys

Add some artwork

To add something a little different to your room, why not think about adding some artwork? It can be something you create yourself, or perhaps some pre-framed prints that you buy from the store. You can also find some nice examples in charity shops; there are often hand painted examples that have been donated. Another idea is to find a poster that you like and buy a frame for it. It can be a new or used frame, and you can then paint it to match the décor of the room. You can create a nice feature wall by assembling pictures of various sizes and placing them all on one wall or a room. It’s also effective to have family members on the wall of the hallway as you enter the house. With a little imagination and some reworking of old furniture, you can redesign your home within even the smallest of budgets.


Get their look: Black on black kitchen

Black on black kitchencredit

Most people would think it a bold move to decide on having a black kitchen. In fact, it can be a sensible, practical and downright attractive option. Just look at the results here! The owners of this London family home are architects, Jane Heath and Jeremy Walker.

We especially like the matt black tiled splash-back above the nearly-black gloss units. The stainless steel cooker hood, utensils and other accessories work extremely well against the Farrow & Ball painted wall. The white worktop offers a bit of contrast and reflected light.

  1. RINHULT kitchen components
  2. Poul Henningsen PH 5 pendant light, white matte
  3. UDDEN wall-mounted extractor hood
  4. Farrow & Ball Off-Black No.57 Matt Estate Emulsion paint
  5. Alessi Officina Richard Sapper melodic kettle 9091
  6. Chicken wire egg basket
  7. Georg Jensen Copenhagen Candle Holder
  8. Cornishware red & white stripe stoneware set of 4 egg cups
  9. Wooden mint-coloured pepper mill / grinder

Click here to see more of our ‘Get their look’ features

Get their look: Black on black kitchen | H is for Home

Home decorating tips to make life easier

Home decorating tips to make life easier

Decorating your home can sometimes lead you down a path of extreme design and striking pieces of furniture, with elaborate and confusing elements. The emphasis on making your home look stylish can sometimes be given priority over the need to make your house comfortable. There are ways of incorporating both style and function into your home to make your life easier and less stressful, whether you need to recover from a tiring day at work or you simply enjoy having a place dedicated to relaxing. Here are some simple home decorating tips to help you update your home with the focus on comfort.

Orange upholstered reclining chairs

Reduce pain

Home is about comfort, safety and contentment. Whilst people are often made to feel guilty or lazy for needing to rest at work or in public, home is where you’re able to do whatever you want to ease your aches and pains. Unless you feel the need to adhere to a strict design aesthetic, there’s nothing to be ashamed of when adding touches that serve primarily to reduce discomfort. Take a look at stressless recliner sales to find a comfortable, stylish chair to relax in after a long, exhausting day. It will make your home look and feel more inviting as well as taking the weight off your feet.

open-plan living space

Comfort food in a comfortable kitchen

Do you enjoy baking but can never find the space to store the proper equipment or gadgets? Do you love coming home to a delicious, stress-free meal? When decorating your home, don’t forget the vital role of the kitchen in everybody’s life. Unlike the cold and utilitarian kitchens found in schools or army barracks, your kitchen should exude warmth and relaxation. Food plays an important part in home life, especially with families and children. Design your kitchen to allow for better flow of movement and efficiency by carefully calculating layout and planning the cupboard space you’ll need. This will make cooking much easier and give you more time to enjoy your mealtimes. Keep your dining area as close to the kitchen as possible. Perhaps find a table that fits perfectly in the kitchen, so the food has less distance to travel from oven to plate. You’ll be less likely to burn your hands, and your food will be hotter when you sit down to eat.

open-plan living space

Tactical furniture arrangement

Houses with too much furniture feel cramped and crowded, difficult to navigate. Homes with a large expanse of space seem cold and uninviting. Strike a balance between these two extremes to achieve a stylish cosiness that both entices and impresses. Think carefully about how you move around your house and where pieces of furniture need to be in relation to each other. There’s no point keeping your bookshelf and your favourite armchair in separate rooms. Have a look at the practice of Feng Shui for more detailed information about arranging your home to better suit your lifestyle.


Get their look: Historic Welsh holiday cottage

Historic Welsh holiday cottagecredit

Have you ever noticed how in January, you begin to see lots of television ads for holiday companies? It’s a time of year when everyone has Christmas fatigue, cold weather fatigue and probably ‘Dry January’ fatigue as well! What better way to get ourselves out of that fug than booking a week away?

We were browsing one of those holiday company websites when we came across this historic Welsh holiday cottage. Located between the remote beaches of Abermawr and Aberbach in Pembrokshire, the cottage once served as a hut for storing cables back in the early days of international telephone communication. You’ll find little nods to its previous life in the cable spool coffee table and other vintage industrial homewares and furniture. Eye-catching, locally-produced, Melin Tregwynt woollen textiles are dotted throughout the cottage bringing flashes of colour and texture, whilst also softening the hard surfaces of the space.

Our finger is hovering over the ‘book’ button!

  1. Customised Welsh signs
  2. Vintage roadworks lamp
  3. Concrete table lamp
  4. Glass storage jar with rope handle
  5. Melin Tregwynt ‘Mondo’ cushion, red
  6. Melin Tregwynt ‘Madison’ cushion, red
  7. Metal basket on wheels
  8. Red & white stripe throw
  9. John Lewis The Basics Alpha bed frame, double, grey

Get their look: Historic Welsh holiday cottage | H is for Home