The Abode

Simple ways to personalise a new home

24 June 2016 11:11

When you first move into a new place it can be hard to make it feel like your own. You leave the big paint jobs and renovations until you’ve lived there long enough to know what you want, so how can you put your own stamp on your property in the meantime?

Here are some simple ways to express your personality and make your new place feel like home. These are also great ideas for people who are renting and don’t want to invest money in renovating someone else’s property.

Spring clean: Hopefully the previous residents cleaned before you moved in, but it always seems to smell a bit too clinical and never really feels like they’ve left until you’ve cleaned it yourself. Find some new some scented products use a familiar brand and it’ll start to smell like home.

Storage: As soon as you’ve worked out where it is you drop your bags and leave your coat when you enter the house, put up some coat hooks. Set up a rack or a box for your everyday shoes and work out how much wardrobe space you need in the bedroom. Well placed storage prevents clutter and makes life easier!

Switch up your window treatments: Curtains and blinds are a great way to make a room “yours” without having to paint. In a plain room, the curtains can be the thing that either inspires or pulls your existing colour scheme together.

Make it cosy: Have a blanket next to the sofa, frame some pictures of your family, put out vases of fresh flowers, some candles on the dinner table, and a big fluffy rug in front of the sofa – it’s these little things that take a home and turn it into your home.

Paint the front door: There’s not much you can do to personalise the outside of your house, especially in areas that don’t have front gardens, but painting the front door can really make a difference.

Art: Art pieces are a great way to put your stamp on a property without committing to doing any more than putting up some hooks. Bring your existing art or trawl the internet and shops for some new pieces.

Statement light feature:  Look into putting up some statement light features.  This will be a lot easier if you have a standard hanging lightbulb, but can be done with other types – although you may need to get someone in to install it if you’re not gifted with DIY skills! 

If you’re looking for a tradesman or decorator to help you with any of these ideas then use our find a builder service to find one in your area.

The Abode’s top 10 design tips for 2016

26 February 2016 15:53

Candle lit roomYou don’t have to move houses to make a new home and the new year is a perfect time to plan your interior transformation. Here’s the Abode top design tips for 2016.

Don’t be afraid – be bold

Given that house prices are continuing to climb, increasing numbers of people are opting to invest in refurbishing their current home rather than moving house. One of the big benefits of this is it gives you a chance to really pursue what you want. If you’re staying for the longer term, don’t obsess over keeping the place neutral in order to flip your property in the future. Have a real think about how your interior spaces can reflect your personality – while a 1920s speakeasy living room may not be everyone’s cup of tea, if it’s your style, go for it.

Pinterest/Instagram can be your guide

Pinterest is laden with top quality designers who can inspire you (including one rather excellent account you can find here) and you can use it to create a concept board. Instagram, on the other hand, can give you more ‘real’ interiors, making it easier to imagine how ideas work in practice. Find some designers or bloggers you love and follow them religiously.

Eden project

Do you have a spare corner that looks a little bare? Wondering what to do with that extra bit of shelf space? It’s time to turn your home into a mini-Kew gardens. Aside from the cliché that it’s good to learn to look after something, having plants in your house has been proven to improve concentration and happiness.

Turn out the lights

It’s 2016, and you need to ditch the ceiling lights. Candles and lamps create a more pleasant, softer ambiance rather than bathing your home in an excess of candescence.

Fire place in living room

Declutter

This may stray into typical New Year’s advice territory, but it’s time you ditched some of the unnecessary knick knacks and ornaments. The Abode balks at recycling the adage ‘a cluttered room is a cluttered mind’, but it remains a great advocate of internal order to soothe the soul. Reducing your junk content should also make finding your keys first thing in the morning that bit easier.

While on that subject, storage

Benjamin Franklin had it right: ‘a place for everything and everything in its place.’ Although interior design was not one of his many occupations, his philosophy on order is a must for any home. Acquiring some good quality storage is an easy way to really improve the quality of your life. Why not hire a carpenter to install some bespoke built in wardrobes or shelving units? You’ll be amazing at how much better you feel once you have the ability to stash stuff out the way.

If you’re going to invest in something, make it a dinner table

As the real centre piece to your house, it pays to invest in a high quality dinner table. You’ll feel obliged to skip the TV dinners and compelled to start cooking proper meals (therefore helping realise two different New Year’s resolutions.) Plus, you get to impress your friends as a dinner party host par excellence.

Heated floors and walls

Heated floors have been all the rage for a while now but a big innovation that is starting to prove popular is heated walls. It’s not applicable to all homes and not all builders with have the tools to do it, but if you can pull it off, it’s a big game changer.

Cushions

Time to stock-up! You can (almost) never have too many.

Keep it seasonal

Try not to think of your internal spaces as being fixed in their appearance – take inspiration from nature and the seasons. In the winter, you want a decidedly cosy aesthetic, with throws and warm lights galore. Summer time lends itself to a more airy, sparse feel. Picking out the colours of the season is an even better way of keeping your home refreshed and interesting.

Doing more with less

26 February 2016 15:03

Beck house

Unfortunately, small living rooms are a fact of life, especially for you city dwellers. We can’t all live in palatial places like this.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make your more confined living area work. In fact, you can turn its size into a strength and achieve a homeliness that’s often beyond the reach of a grander-sized room. Here are some tips on designing a living room that makes the most of a limited amount of space.

Let’s start with the basics – be smart with the colour of wall paint you go for. White paint may seem like a conservative choice but it will really open up the room – it will also provide you with an empty canvass to work on personalising a smaller space. You can instead add colour and personality with wall prints and soft furnishings without undermining how the room-size is perceived. At least one large wall mirror is an absolute must as it will instantly give the impression of a much larger space.

You need to make every square inch of practical necessities work. That doesn’t mean you have license to cram, but it does mean you need to be clever, meaning anything from floating shelves to bookcases built into awkward spaces.

Slim-line furnishings. Keep things svelte, simple and clean. Bulky furniture is your enemy when working with limited space and must be avoided at all costs. For example, instead of a coffee table, why not use to end tables? Using smaller furniture may mean you can’t purchase the tanking four seater sofa of old, but you can get something just as comfortable (and likely more modern and stylish) and which works much better for the space you have.

Living room

If your living room also doubles-up as a dining room, an extendable table is your best bet. That way you can maximise floor space when not eating or entertaining guests but still enjoy the flexibility of a larger table when necessary.

And whatever happens, when going furniture-shopping, don’t leave home without a clear idea of the minimum and maximum measurements of the space you want to fill. We all know if people who have naively purchased furniture on a whim that looks ideally proportioned in the shop but when taken home, it looks bloated and out of place in their modestly-sized living room. Don’t fall into this trap!

Cluttered lounge

Top 5 blogs for interior design inspiration

10 November 2014 13:31

Tired of living in a magnolia dream? Fed up of drab drapes and blinds? We've complied a list of our favourite blog sites from around the internet for interior design inspiration. Enjoy!

1. Apartment Therapy

Apartment Therapy’s Mission is to “help people make their homes more beautiful, organized and healthy by connecting them to a wealth of resources, ideas and community online” and it certainly hit’s the spot. From how to renovate old furniture to tours of real people’s homes, Apartment Therapy offers inspiration for every space, big or small, indoors or outdoors. Although Apartment Therapy started in the USA, over the last 10 years word has spread and it’s gone global with posts from members world wide. For inspiration closer to home check out their mini site dedicated to homes from around the UK.

2. Design Tripper

If you want inspiration from around the world then Design Tripper is the blog for you! Showcasing the best of the worlds most stylish hotels, B&B’s lodges, hostels and even tents, Design Tripper focuses on the beautiful interiors that have been created as a space for people to escape to. Perfect not only if you’re looking for inspiration for your next interior design project but also if you’re looking for a holiday destination as well!

3.Hop Interiors

Hop Interiors bills itself as “Eye Candy for the Interior Hungry” and we couldn’t agree more. While a lot of blogs focusing on interior design come from the USA, Hop Interiors is written by a UK based blogger and features not only design inspiration but also interviews with design experts and reviews of the latest interior design bibles. A fantastic first step if you’re looking for ideas that you can adapt and make your own. 

4. Design Milk

Design Milk brings together a whole assortment of design inspiration – from architecture and home styling through to fashion and technology. Our favourite section is Architecture which as you might expect features stunning buildings from around the world and is sure to offer inspiration to those planning major renovations or even a self-build project, while the interiors section is brilliant for easy ideas to spruce up your living space. 

5. Design*Sponge

With over 75,000 daily readers Design*Sponge offers fantastic tips for projects of all sizes on a global scale. The Before + After section of the website is especially addictive with hundreds of projects showing how easy it can be to revamp just about anything, from a plain bookcase or chest of draws to a huge studio space, while the DIY section offers quirky ideas for around the home. We especially like the fact that each section can be filtered by difficulty and cost along with other key descriptors so you can find exactly what you want. 

Add a splash of colour this Spring

17 April 2014 14:30

Thinking of giving your home a new lease of life this Easter weekend? Why not take a look at the Pantone website for colour inspiration? Every December Pantone announces a ‘Colour of the Year’, designed to reflect current and emerging colour trends in the world of fashion and design.

This year’s colour of the year is Radiant Orchid. As Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute® explained at the launch in December 2013 “Radiant Orchid encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society.”

Take inspiration from the Pantone colour of the year and combine a vibrant purple with more muted greys and creams to create a striking feature wall that really stands out, or use alongside different tones of violet to add warmth to a larger space.

For more information or to be inspired click here.

Image: Pantone

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