Author Archives: Caroline

  1. How to choose the right paint colour for your room

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    How to choose the right paint colour for your room

    Too much choice?

    One of the questions I’m asked most is “what colour should I paint this room?”

    The person asking the question is often at their wits end. After spending a small fortune on sample pots of not-quite-right shades, the walls are a complete mess and a decorator is arriving tomorrow…and it’s still not clear which is the best colour.

    Choosing the right paint colour for your room can be quite a minefield and that’s before you start thinking about the ceiling, skirtings, doors and door frames and windows!

    Here are 4 simple questions to ask yourself that will make choosing colour uncomplicated, stress-free and exciting.

    What direction does my room face? Simple rule of thumb-if your room faces North or East, choose a warm toned paint. By this, I mean one in the red/orange/yellow end of the colour spectrum. That also includes pink, blush, terracotta, peach, lemon, and sand.

    Pink and plum hues add warmth to this North East facing room

    It doesn’t have to be a full-on colour unless that’s what you want. Many off whites, pale neutrals and some greys have a warm base. I’ve listed some of my favourites at the bottom of this post. 

    On the other hand, if your room faces South or West, choose a cool toned paint with a blue/green/violet base. Think sky blue, sage green, and lilac grey. Again, I’ve listed some of my favourite cool based off whites, neutrals and greys below.

    How much natural light does it get? If it’s lots, then I like to make the most of this and keep a room light, bright and airy with a pale to mid-tone wall colour.

    Pale colours make the most of a naturally light room

    If there’s not much natural light, why not embrace the dark side and paint it in a darker, richer colour to feel more dramatic and cocooning. This works particularly well in a hallway, snug, or study.

    Dark blue paint makes for a dramatic entrance

    What colours are the other items in my room? It’s easy and simple to stick to either mainly cool or mainly warm colours in a scheme. So ask yourself if the colours of your flooring and furniture fit with the warm or cool colour scheme that you decided on, based on your answer to question 1. If not, can you change them? Think about selling, re-covering or moving items that don’t fit. 

    If you’re feeling more confident about colour, then mixing warm and cool colours can really work. A deep blue velvet sofa will look amazing against blush pink walls for instance. Trust your gut feel when combining colours, if it feels wrong then it probably is, so move that clashing sofa or rug somewhere else!

    How do I want my room to feel? If it’s a small room that you want to feel more spacious, my tip is paint as many surfaces as possible in the same colour. That’s the walls, skirting, doors, windows and even the ceiling. This will blur the boundaries and make the room feel bigger. It’s an optical illusion but a useful trick.

    Using the same paint colour on the units and walls makes this kitchen feel more spacious

    If on the other hand it’s a lovely big room, with handsome architectural features such as decorative cornicing, skirtings and ceiling mouldings, paint these in a contrasting colour to highlight them and enhance the proportions of your room. Keep the contrasting colour in the same warm or cool colour family that you have settled on for a cohesive look. 

    Remember woodwork doesn’t have to be white, or even lighter than the wall colour. In fact, darker woodwork against paler walls looks fabulous and is space-enhancing too.

    The contrast between darker woodwork makes the pale walls appear lighter and brighter

    Accent or feature walls painted in a contrasting colour will make your room feel smaller because the contrasting colour advances towards your eye. It will literally feel like the wall is closing in! If it’s a colour you love then go bold and put it on all the walls. I would only use contrasting colour on a single wall as a useful trick to help “zone” really large, open plan spaces. 

    And finally, don’t forget your ceiling, or the fifth wall! It’s traditionally painted white to reflect light into the room, but paint the ceiling in the same colour as the walls to make a room feel more spacious. Or paint the ceiling in a bold, contrasting colour or finish to really make a statement. It’s is a fun way to experiment with a bold colour in a way that’s less full-on than using it on the walls which are in your direct line of sight all the time. It’s just worth remembering that a bold, bright or shiny ceiling will feel a little lower than it might if painted a light colour.

    I hope you have found this helpful and if you identify with the stressed person whose wall is covered with paint patches that you are now feeling calmer, more confident and even excited about choosing the best paint colour for your room. 

    If you need more advice, please get in touch, I’d be delighted to help you.

    Caroline X

    Warm based off whites and neutrals 

    Farrow & Ball Dimity, String, Charleston Gray, Dove Tale, Elephant’s Breath, Joa’s White, Jitney, Matchstick, Savage Ground, Shadow White, Shaded White, White Tie, New White

    Cool based off whites and neutrals

    Farrow & Ball Wevet, Strong White, Great White, Blackened, Dimpse, Cabbage White, Skimming Stone, Cornforth White, Worsted, Borrowed Light, Ammonite. 

    Images Dulux, Farrow & Ball, Pinterest, Neptune

  2. Interiors | Where To Spend & Where to Save Part Two

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    Interiors | Where To Spend & Where To Save

    Part Two

    In my last post I talked about where to focus your home interiors budget and now here’s my guide to where you can save money!


    Kitchen Units

    A new kitchen can really eat into your budget and although it’s likely to be the most used room in the home it doesn’t have to be the most expensive!


    Most kitchen units are a standard 600mm wide so save money by buying basic melamine carcasses from one of the big retailers at the cheaper end of the market (IKEA, B&Q, Homebase).


    Splash out some of the money you save on the carcasses for more unusual doors from one of the many door-only suppliers. Naked Doors has a great selection for IKEA Metod units.


    Or ask a local carpenter to make you some MDF doors that can be painted or sprayed in any colour you choose and can repainted for a new lease of life later on.


    Upgrade the look with specially chosen handles; Ironmongery Direct have a good range and Chloe Albery has some unusual designs. If your cupboard handles feel and look fabulous no-one will notice that the units are simple and inexpensive.


    Save money with open shelves instead of wall cupboards. While some closed cupboards are useful, open shelves are on trend and make a kitchen feel larger too.


    Kitchen appliances

    Be realistic about what appliances you really need. Resist the over-sell and don’t be tempted to splash out on warming drawers, steam ovens, coffee machines and boiling water taps if you won’t use them regularly.


    Splash backs

    Save money by only having a splash back where you really need it; behind the hob and perhaps the sink if you wash up regularly. Everywhere else, a narrow upstand on the worktop and paint above will be enough.


    Save on materials by choosing inexpensive waterproof MDF paneling or tongue and groove. This can look stylish in kitchens and bathrooms. Look for a waterproof version and use a gloss paint intended for kitchen and bathroom use to seal the surface.


    If you’re after a more contemporary look, consider sheet metal from a metal fabricator, it’s often less expensive than it looks.


    Bathroom fitting

    Save money on bathroom sanitary ware and buy unbranded fittings from a large high street retailer like Bathstore or from a local plumbers’ merchant.


    Wall hung WCs and basins are particularly expensive so opt for pedestal types which are no longer just limited to just traditional styles. Vanity units are expensive, ask a local carpenter to make you some built-in storage or open shelves.


    If your bath is only going to be used occasionally, a lightweight acrylic bath is perfectly good and there are some lovely designs to choose from that don’t cost a fortune.


    It’s sensible to invest in a more luxurious shower if it’s going to be used every day. Opt for a low-profile shower tray which is much cheaper than tanking the walls and floor for a wet room shower.


    Framed shower screens are much cheaper than frameless styles and can look very stylish especially if the frame is deliberately chunky.


    Interior finishes

    Save money on flooring by choosing stone-effect or wood-effect tiles rather than real stone or wood. Not only are they much easier to maintain and more hardwearing but it can be hard to tell them apart from the real thing.


    Smaller tiles (30-45cm) are generally cheaper than large ones, both to buy and install. Very small tiles such as mosaic are expensive so only use these in small quantities and in a position where they will create maximum impact.


    Paint doesn’t need to be expensive, choose a colour you love from any range and have it colour-matched at your local DIY store. Dulux has a huge range of colours; classic neutrals and on trend colours too.


    Home furnishings

    When it comes to furnishing your home, save money by checking out local charity shops, Ebay, auctions and second hand shops. These are good hunting grounds for inexpensive and original tables, chairs and storage furniture. Unite mismatched chairs by painting them in a unifying colour. Recover chairs easily using a staple gun.


    If you prefer to buy new, Next Home has some excellent furniture ranges and IKEA remains a firm favourite-look out for the Stockholm range. To add a personalised touch, check out IKEA hacks on Pinterest for imaginative ideas.


    There’s no need to spend a fortune on the latest designer fabrics; John Lewis has a fantastic selection of fabrics by the metre for curtains, blinds and upholstery. I also really like their simple, plain roller blinds for a quick, easy and inexpensive window solution.


    Be creative, have fun and save money!


    Image credits; with thanks to Naked Doors, Pinterest, Bathstore, Dulux, Annie Sloan














  3. Where to spend and where to save on your interiors project

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    Interiors | Where to spend & where to save

    part one

    Most people have some sort of budget in mind when starting an interiors project, an idea of how much they are able, or willing to spend overall. But with so many demands on that budget that it’s often difficult to decide where to spend most effectively and where savings can reasonably be made.

    Here’s my guide to where it’s sensible to focus most of your budget and in my next journal entry I will be sharing my advice on where you can make savings.

    Buy cheap, pay twice

    You have probably heard this old saying, which is true in many areas of interior decoration. We all want to avoid false economies, and the inconvenience of having to replace things soon after they were bought, especially if they are part of the fabric of your home.

    From the floor up

    Flooring is the part of your home that gets the most wear so quality materials will really pay off. If you are choosing wood, remember that solid wood can be sanded time and time again to remove any wear and tear. A solid wood floor really is a floor for life.

    Engineered wooden boards only typically have a 3mm top layer of real wood which will be worn away with time and by sanding, revealing the unattractive central core.

    It’s also definitely worth paying for a specialist flooring fitter as it’s hard to put right any mistakes later.

    Bathroom flooring will likely get quite wet so has to be durable; stone or porcelain tile is ideal but avoid vinyl which will lift and curl.

    Show your home in its best light

    As I explained in my last journal entry, great lighting can make a huge difference to how your space feels and functions. It therefore makes sense to plan ahead and spend generously here to get the best functionality and maximum effect.

    Lighting is also devilishly difficult to change, and will involve all sorts of expensive rewiring and redecoration if you want to add or reposition lights, sockets and switches later.

    The heart of the home

    The kitchen is often the most used area in a modern home so it makes sense to spend a good proportion of your budget here.

    Choose a simple kitchen that won’t date quickly and avoid fashionable finishes and colours. A white or cream kitchen is always going to look good and can be updated and accessorized relatively easily as fashions change.

    Spend time planning your perfect layout and be prepared to pay for specialist or additional design services. A carefully planned and professionally installed kitchen will be a joy to use and well worth the initial cost.

    Buy the best quality kitchen worktops you can afford as this is the part of your kitchen that will get the most wear and tear so it needs to be durable and long-lasting. My favorite is composite stone which comes in a huge range of colours, textures and prices. I also often recommend natural granite; colour choices are more limited but quality and value are excellent. Avoid real marble as it’s porous and will stain.

    Always buy the best quality kitchen and bathroom taps that you can afford. I like Hansgrohe and Franke. Cheap taps never work as well or last as long.

    The importance of storage

    Central London

    Built in storage is expensive but will give you so much more space than freestanding furniture as it can be built to make the most of the full wall height and width and tricky spaces. Creating an architectural look in this way will also make your room feel less cluttered than having separate pieces of freestanding storage furniture.

    Built in furniture represents good value if you plan to stay in your home for several years and it can also be customized to your own personal needs and requirements.

    Sweet dreams

    We spend a third of our lives in bed and sleep quality is vitally important to our wellbeing so it makes sense to spend generously on your mattress. Manufacturers recommend changing your mattress every 10 years so think of the cost as a per night spend; every £1000 you spend is less than 30p/night! My favorites are Vi-Spring and Duxiana.

    Many manufacturers offer a money back satisfaction guarantee once you have bought their mattress and some such as Duxiana are showcased in hotels around the world to try before you buy. What a great excuse for a mini-break!

    Spending a bit more on good quality bedding just increases the sleep and wellbeing benefits. The White Company and John Lewis are my go-to suppliers for duvets, pillows and bed linen. I can highly recommend The White Company goose down duvet which is beautifully light and cosy and their goose feather and down pillows. I love John Lewis 800 thread count Egyptian cotton bed linen which is gorgeously soft and silky, and not too expensive.

    Are you sitting comfortably?

    It’s worth investing in upholstery; buying a classic, quality sofa will last many years and be really comfortable. For durability, look for a hardwood frame that’s glued, screwed and dowelled, with feather-wrapped foam seat pads which will give support and softness and feather-filled back cushions for a luxurious feel. I love Wesley Barrell, for their excellent quality, longevity and after sales care.

    Fabric is also important; linen and cotton mixes are timeless, stylish and hard-wearing. Choose a loose cover style in a darker shade if you’re prone to spilling and fabric protection is a must if you have small children or pets!

    Frame your windows

    Ready-made curtains never have the same luxury look or longevity as custom-made ones. For the amount of work involved, handmade window treatments are definitely worth the investment. Choose interlined curtains if your home has draughty windows-they will pay for themselves in terms of energy savings and comfort. Blackout lining is vital if early morning light wakes you or your children too early. For a timeless and stylish look, choose a plain, neutral coloured linen and have them made to fall to the floor.

    Check back soon for my top tips on where to save!

    Photo credits; Image 1 AH Peck Flooring, Image 2 John Cullen Lighting, 5 The White Company, 7 Sue Whimster Curtains













  4. Top Tips for Lighting Interiors

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    Top Tips For Lighting Interiors

    Lighting is a subject I love; a carefully designed and well-executed lighting scheme has the power to elevate great interiors to the really exceptional-it literally shows your home in it’s best light! Great lighting can highlight design features, create drama and mystery, heighten the effect of your colour scheme and disguise any unavoidable defects.

    However lighting is an area where you can easily go wrong or simply miss great opportunities in the design of your home so it’s worth seeking professional help on a large-scale project and it’s always vital to plan lighting as early as possible in a project as the electrics are one of the first tasks. Remember that it is very difficult and expensive to change the lighting later on!

    Carefully planned lighting is a hallmark of my interior design work and a specialist area that many homeowners just don’t feel confident tackling themselves but here are my top tips to guide you.

    Avoid placing lighting only in the middle of a room. The eye is naturally drawn to light so this will make your room appear much smaller. A central pendant or chandelier can be a beautiful decorative feature but don’t rely on this alone.

    Try lighting the edges of the space with wall washing downlights, wall lights or lamps. This will make your space feel much larger.

    Caroline Browne Interior Design Wimbledon London

    Aim to use as few downlights as you can and always choose the adjustable sort so that you can decide on the angle of the light and where it falls. The best ones are deep enough that the bulb can be recessed in the fitting itself so you don’t see it and there’s less glare.

    Don’t overlight a space. Rows and rows of downlights are boring, much better to place light only where you need it. Pools of light are much more dramatic and draw you into the space, while more shadowy areas create intrigue and a pleasing contrast to more brightly lit spaces.

    Plan for as many circuits as possible, each with their own separate switch and dimmer so that you can vary the lighting combinations to create ambience and mood lighting for different times of day.

    Plan lighting at different heights to create a subtle layered effect. Aim to have some ceiling lighting, some mid level lighting from wall lights or under cupboard lighting and some low level lighting from table lamps for example. Floor level lighting under furniture or stair edges takes your lighting scheme to the next level!

    Try to hide the light source wherever possible, visible bulbs are really unattractive and create glare. Unless the light fitting is a decorative one, try to only see the effect of the light not the light source itself. LED strip lighting is very discreet and can be built invisibly into recesses in ceilings, slots in walls, into stair treads and edges and into built-in furniture.

    Buy the best quality light bulbs you can. LEDs last several years and use much less electricity so will save you money. LED light tends to be rather cold and blue-toned so look for a bulb that has a colour temperature of 2700K-2900K (degrees Kelvin). If the colour temperature isn’t shown then always go for the warmest white available.

    If you would like help designing a lighting scheme for your home I would love to hear from you. Contact me here