The Grand Designs Live show took place in London recently, and this season is the most popular for home improvements and decorating. But before you head to your local DIY store or pick up a paintbrush, take some top tips from Lizzie Chambers, leading freelance interior stylist who was a speaker at the show. This interview was conducted on behalf of LG, purveyor of innovatively designed appliances, from smart TVs to steam washing machines for every home. How would you describe your interior design style? I would describe my style as eclectic. I love to use furniture and accessories from a variety of styles and periods and mix them up to create an interesting and personal interior space. I love to use an interesting accessory or fabric as a starting point for an interior then work a colour palette and interior plan around it.
From where do you get your influences from? I would love to say I get my influences from travel, but restricted by time and funds I like to look through travel books and websites with beautiful interiors from around the world, historic houses, details from clothing and colours from fashion. Sometimes, just a pattern on a tile or fabric swatch can make you think about how that could be translated into a complete interior.
How do you make a house a home? By drawing on the owner's personal mementos and photographs you can transform an anonymous and generic space, no matter how lovely that can be, into a space that becomes an extension of their personality and somewhere they can emotionally connect with. There's a fine line between a home with personality and a house with filled with clutter, but by selecting key pieces you can make a space feel like home.
How do you add personality to a room without adding clutter? Be selective with your choice. Hang photographs and pictures on walls rather than cluttering surfaces; this will also help to create a feature. Choose select items to decorate, keep day-to-day living bits like paperwork in one place and ideally in a storage box (it'll be easier to find that way too!). Have a life laundry every now again, you might not need everything you've collected over the years, and only have an emotional connection to a few items. If areas are gathering dust and clutter then decide what's necessary and get rid of the rest.
How would you advise arranging furniture in a small front room? Firstly, always choose furniture that is the correct proportion for the room. Often small rooms get filled with oversized sofas and armchairs that are chosen for comfort but without thought for the space. Keep wall and floor colours to light and pale shades, anything too bright, dark or patterned will only make the room feel smaller. Use cushions and accessories to add colour and detail. Light up corners to maximise the size of the room, so if you can't squeeze in a side table then use a slim floor standing lamp to give atmospheric and soft lighting. Never block windows or doorways with furniture if you can help it.
Is it true that most people still have the TV as the main focal point in a front room? How can you avoid it? Yes, I think most people centre their focal point towards the TV; homes have to be practical not unrealistic. I think it's pointless denying the reality of what most living rooms are used for, watching TV, playing computer games and so on, but I think you can find a happy medium. If you can house the TV in a cabinet then at least it can be out of sight when it's not in use. Or choose a TV stand that works with the rest of the room. Use other focal points in the room to draw attention away from the TV by using wallpaper, colour and accessories. Also, buy a television that is proportionate with the size of the room, not all rooms need to be cinemas, and like with the furniture, it's always best to be modest with size so the screen is not too dominating.
What’s the best way to choose a colour to paint a room? Think about how much light you'll get in the room and which way the room is facing. A north-facing room will be coldest, so try and stay clear of cold colours. Think about what the room will be used for. Don't go for anything too bright and bold if you want something relaxing and calming, strong colours can always come from furnishings and accessories.
Always choose a colour you like and are drawn to but decide if it should be used in a small quantity, for example, a painted piece of furniture if it's a strong colour, and combine with paler and neutral shades to create a harmonious space. Wallpaper can work well when combined with a paint colour; use it on a couple of walls then take a colour from the paper for the remaining walls.
Think about woodwork too, make a feature of traditional details in period properties by using a slightly darker colour eggshell to compliment the walls. Painted ceilings should be kept to white to reflect light and to emphasise height.
If you have furnishings and furniture already then look to work with those as a basis for choosing the right colour.
Do you advise people to follow design trends or stick to traditional looks? Is it ok to mix old and new? Your home should reflect you, so if you're interested in the latest trend and want to reflect that then choose pieces that are of the moment, but, as always, it's about balance and about being selective in your choice. By keeping the background materials simple like wall and floors, it will allow you to play with accessories, fabrics and lighting – and won't be too expensive to replace if you get tired of them. I would always advise clients to choose classic materials for the expensive elements for fear of regret, then as your taste changes you'll always have a versatile space for experimenting.
Think about your type of property and what will compliment it. A period property can look great with modern and eclectic pieces but the structure should be classic to allow those pieces to be shine through.
What are your final top tips for styling and decorating a living room space? Keep the background simple, then use textures, colour and lighting for interest, but, ultimately, create a space that you can really connect with. Don't be scared of mixing fabrics, decorative pieces and furniture, but think of the overall balance of the room.
Create focal points with colour and pattern, and compliment with colourful details to draw the scheme together whilst considering balance of materials to make the space interesting.
Lizzie has over 10 years’ experience in the industry and consults on design solutions to create beautiful and inspirational homes. If you’d like to contact Lizzie, visit www.lizziechambers.com.
All Images via Lizzie Chamber's website..