Leading interior designers weigh in with best practices for timeless home décor ahead of the coming years, as well as the current winter snap
Decorating a room in your home is a fun and exciting process that, when done well, will bring both comfort and happiness to those who experience it every single day. However, it's not exactly the easiest thing to do; aside from the technical know-how needed to pull off the more ambitious creations in the home, it's also knowing which trends to follow - especially to make it last over the long term.
With this in mind, and as a firm proponent of getting maximum value for money from any decorating project, Time4Sleep has liaised with three fantastic designers to help you approach any forthcoming plans to create the perfect bedroom, as well as other rooms in the house that could do with sprucing up.
Rachel Newcombe, from Fresh Design Blog, is the first expert on our panel. Taking her inspiration from fellow interior design bloggers, magazines, fashion, travelling and on location in other people's homes, she is always keen to combine elements of someone's personality with their living space, producing a happy medium that delivers comfort and warmth in any home.
With a similar approach to the individuality of homeowners through interior décor is Carolyn Parker of Carolyn Parker Interior Design - our second expert. Taking inspiration from architecture in cities around Europe during her travels - as well as closer surroundings from her base in North Yorkshire - Carolyn has built a comprehensive portfolio of projects from Manhattan apartments, Georgian farmhouses and listed buildings to exclusive villas on the Iberian Peninsula and the Middle East, earning her justifiable attention from the design press for her know-how.
Last but not least is Rosemary Ridgeway, who founded April Hamilton Interior Design in 1995. Based in Surrey, her expertise has been largely exhibited in high-end homes in London and the Home Counties. As a firm believer in producing a "soulful and organic" end product, her love of artistically injecting personality into a home is certainly highlighted in her impressive portfolio.
Present trends: Working a style for the winter months
Of course, living in the UK means that we're not exactly enjoying typical summer holiday-style weather all year round; in fact, it tends to jump from winter to spring and then back to autumn before we know it. If you're well aware of this, or you're planning to start your redecorating quickly, then what's best to go for - neutral shades, warm colours or something else?
Rachel Newcombe is a fan of the more traditional, familiar approach to winter décor. She said: "I love adding rich, warm colours to a room to help add a feeling of cosiness. Accessories, such as cushions, lamps, curtains or other soft furnishings can be used well in this way without having to do major decorating."
However, Carolyn Parker was a little more careful and recommended the longevity of less adventurous colours - unless, of course, you're that kind of person. "The great thing about neutral colours is that they aren't dated and work with most styles," she said. "However, for an added feeling of warmth and luxury, using dark rich colours – deep purples and plums, reds and navies mixed with bronze and gold – conjure up memories of comfort."
It was all about the accompanying touches for Rosemary Ridgeway, who preferred a more neutral approach to walls, allowing for personality to come out in other ways. "I tend to use a neutral palette and then add the accessories, which of course can move with the seasons," she said. "Scaling the colours is so important!"
Colours and patterns to choose for the cold months and beyond
And what of the colours that people should opt for in the home over the winter and beyond? Ms Newcombe agreed with Ms Parker's earlier choices for the luxe feel, choosing "rich warm red tones, as well as purple and plum" as they are "back and apparent in winter trends".
For Ms Ridgeway, it was more about getting back to nature. "I've been a designer for almost 20 years and have seen colours come and go with the fashion," she explained, “so as a more classical designer, I would look outside." But why? "Nature never gets it wrong – the historical palettes of greys and taupe are super-fashionable at the moment. I feel we are looking back to Mother Earth for inspiration."
Patterns seem to be making a comeback but, if you're going to use them in the home, it's worth being careful - especially with smaller rooms, Ms Newcombe advised. She continued: "Avoid large, bold patterns, which can be overpowering in a small space. Instead, choose designs with smaller patterns."
In fact, drawing attention to a feature wall through patterned wallpaper may be the best thing to do; she explained that this can "help prevent a small room from being overpowered by wallpaper". Ms Parker firmly agreed. "You could also just try papering a fireplace wall or chimney breast," she added, highlighting the comfort value of tartans and plaids as her go-to patterns.
Perhaps you're not a fan of patterns, but worry not - Ms Ridgeway was keen to offer an alternative. "Paint colour used cleverly can do the same thing," she said. "Text is very popular and used up into a corner, can take your eye to a point of interest. This allows the pattern to be layered, giving a great illusion of space."
Futureproofing: Being unique through 2013-14, and going local
So, what does the future hold for those who want to be unique and different in their interior design plans, yet last in the style stakes during 2013, 2014 and further into the future? If a style isn't broken, don't try to fix it, says Ms Ridgeway. "I hope we will recycle more," she explained, as "the antique industry has been doing that for years!"
Taking the lead from her recommendations for accent walls with patterns, Ms Newcombe favoured textured wallpapers as a "quick and easy way of creating dramatic wall designs". After painted walls became standard, the designer is excited that wallpaper will only continue to rise in popularity, leading to "great new designs" - and joining her once again is Ms Parker. "I think applique is the thing for me," she added. "You can make any fabric unique but there are some wonderful embellished wallpaper and fabric options that are ready made on the market."
Luckily, more money can be saved by seeing what's available in your area. Ms Newcombe believes that if it's possible, it's good to use locally-sourced products and materials, though it's not always that easy. Ms Parker added that while an ideal world would allow a budding designer to use nearby experts, the world of interior design is nonetheless "London-centric".
However, Ms Ridgeway believes that there are plenty of things that can help you seal that timeless, unique style, though you may have to wait a little longer. "Many of my suppliers are artisans creating beautiful things that take time," she said "We aren't an instant design company and are proud not to get caught up into the rush of now!" Perhaps this approach is best for many potential personal designers, even if an update is very important in the home.
Getting that perfect bedtime sanctuary for all ages
Of course, Time4Sleep is proud of helping people create the perfect bedroom, so as a final question, we decided to ask our expert panel as to the really important constituent elements of a boudoir that will stand the test of time. Carolyn Parker was first up, and she suggested a safe yet dependable colour scheme: using calming colours such as softer shades of mauves, pinks, jades and greens.
Ms Ridgeway was fresh from a project when she gave her tips. "For my own suite, which I've just finished, I used paint from Little Greene called Fog on the Walls, a paint colour called Pointing from Farrow and Ball on the paintwork, as well as white shutters and an open-styled bathroom with louvered doors hiding the shower and walk-in closet." As a firm fan of more traditional and vintage-style bedrooms, she emphasised the need for people to think things through based on lighting - after all, this factor is extremely important at the times the room is used throughout the day.
However, not every taste in colour, style or function lasts forever, and this is certainly the case for children. Parents often prefer not to redecorate their child's bedroom every few years to accommodate their different interests, mainly because they are so prone to change.
Ms Newcombe weighed in with a commitment to neutral colours. "They should be used as a base for the wall," she asserted. "Rather than using wallpaper that has to be removed once a child gets older, wall stickers are a great alternative to create a design."
Simple, innocent shades are more for Ms Parker, and those who may want a more gender non-specific bedroom for their youngsters. She continued: "I would go for warm whites on the walls and lovely linen curtains. Some linen has a self-weave design that you can add to the schemes with bedding, pictures and furniture."
Meanwhile, those wanting to inject traditional gender colours can easily bring pale blues and pinks into this look. Ms Ridgeway earmarked taupe and French greys instead, adding colour that fits somewhere between the usual colours adopted by boys and girls and their parents.
So, what are you waiting for? Get decorating! With these tips as a base, we're sure that your creativity will flourish and you'll have dependable and timeless unique styles that reflect your personality without being too overbearing.