Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Mirror mirror on the wall, let me have a spacious hall

Originally published in the Retford Times 23rd Jan 2014

In the dull January light, our homes can look a little lack lustre - Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall looks at putting the shine back.

With the Christmas Decorations packed away our homes can often feel dark and under-dressed at this time of the year.  To avoid the January blues it is important to try and maximise natural light wherever possible.

The ultimate way to bring more light in to your home is to knock down a wall to the outside!  However, you can achieve a similar effect by creating an entire mirror wall (using a mosaic of large mirror pieces to add interest). Visually extending your room not only adds light, but also promotes a feeling of space and wellbeing.

Antiqued glass helps to soften the look to make this feature work well in period homes. Work on a design with your glass merchant for an individual finish and incorporate off-cuts to keep the cost down.
If considering DIY installation be aware of sharp edges and handle your mirror with gloves whilst fixing. Ensure you have well prepared flat walls and only use mirror adhesive. Take your time and let each piece set in place before adding more. It may take a while, but the end result will be worth it.

The most important skill of any mirror in an interiors scheme is to reflect light. Placed opposite an existing window the mirror will introduce addition exterior light into the room. This is particularly useful in rooms with only one good natural light source.  It will also help brighten dark corners at the ends of long rooms. An added bonus from using mirrors in this way is the introduction of a window view on a wall that might otherwise hold little interest.
A light placed in front of a mirror will be amplified, throwing more light back into the room than the original source could give on its own. This light will possess a diffused, more forgiving quality that is useful for hiding a multitude of sins in older properties.
Placing a mirror on a wall opposite a door also increases the perception of space within a room as it immediately draws the eye of anyone entering the room when they see a moving reflection. In turn, they will get a feeling that the room extends beyond the end of the wall that they are looking at. You can use this effect to even out the feel of long, thin rooms (placing mirrors on the walls that are the shortest distance apart will lead people to assume that the room is actually wider).

You can also extent the feeling of a short or dark landing by placing a tall, ideally wide, mirror at its end. Add a contemporary feel by using a large mirror with a thick frame (think leather or high gloss) and merely resting this at an angle against the wall, rather than hanging it up - this also works well in any dressing area, where space allows, as a funky alternative to a free standing mirror.
On a final practical note, old houses always afforded inhabitants the courtesy of a mirror directly inside the front door - allowing guests arriving a chance to check their look was intact and anyone leaving to ensure they can face the world, head held high. These days it may be more practical in a downstairs cloakroom, but none the less it is a mirror worth re-introducing if you do not have one already.          

Jamie Hempsall, BIID, SBID is a multi-award winning interior designer.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Bright Ideas To Beat The Gloom

Originally published in the Yorkshire Post - 15th January 2014

Down in the dumps?  Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall offers advice to give your home a cost-effective spruce up.

Giving your home a mini-facelift is perfect to beat the winter blues so here are ten tips to revamp your home without breaking the January budgets.

1.      Give bulbs a clean

In winter gloom artificial light is exceptionally important and cleaning your light bulbs has an amazing impact.  Safety is paramount, so it is important that you unplug or switch off electricity before attempting this.  Then take a slightly damp cloth and wipe down the bulbs in your light fittings and any glass covers you may.  Wait to dry before turning back on.  It's a little thing, but makes a major difference.

2.      Refresh your paintwork

No matter how clean you keep it, paint colour dulls and darkens with age.  If your paintwork is over two or three years old invest in a tin of good quality emulsion and repaint a room for an immediate uplift.

3.      Replace your sofa or chair cushion inners

If your sofa or chairs are less than comfy, the problem may be your cushion inners.  Speak to your local upholsterer who should be able just to supply a cushion inner made to your required size and requirements, find a cushion filling you like (we prefer foam-feather wrap which gives the comfort of feather with the structure of foam) and order replacement cushions giving your sofa a new lease of life at a surprisingly low cost.

4.      Invest in some new scatter cushions

These are the perfect way to introduce a new colour or texture in your room.  Go the whole hog and add a co-ordinating rug for a total makeover feel.

5.      Add a Feature Wall

Create new interest in a plain scheme by adding a feature wall in textured or patterned wallpaper in a colour toning with your existing room. Remember when choosing to ensure the size of any pattern is not too large for the area.

6.      Clean and Polish Natural Wood Floors

Give floors a serious clean with a proprietary cleaning agent, then re-oil or re-polish dependent upon the original finish of the floor.  The wood will rejuvenate before your eyes, allowing you to fall in love with it all over again.

7.      Re-grout bathroom tiles and refresh silicone sealant

This will help make a tired bathroom look clean and refreshed!  Remember to remove all old silicone before reapplying to ensure the perfect seal and the perfect look.

8.      Invest in new bedding or towels

This is the perfect way to spruce up a bedroom or bathroom - giving it an immediate uplift and some sensory joy.   The Sales are the ideal time to get better quality for your money.  Look for at least 300 thread count to feel like a film star as you slip between the sheets and invest in bath sheets to avoid having to skimp on size.

9.      Re-upholster your headboard

Not only a great pick-me-up, but a great way to introduce new textures or colours into your room.

10.  Repaint your front door

Why just worry about “kerb appeal” when you are selling your house?  A properly and freshly painted door makes a home look instantly loved and should help cheer you up every time you walk through it.

For more inspiration visit www.jamiehempsall.com.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Beautiful Art of Energy Saving

Today sees the launch of the Plumen 002 (sister bulb to the original ground breaking Plumen 001 which won Brit Insurance Design of the Year 2011 and a D&AD Black Pencil).

The new bulb is a similar leap in the development of the humble light bulb with a new, chunkier design which appears to have been sculpted rather than drawn.  It is a little reminiscent of night lights of the past.   The beautiful shape, and the light it evokes, are extremely restful and actually produce feelings of comfort and...dare I say it...love.  Not a reaction you would normally expect to a household object.

The Designer Bertrand Clerc quotes sculptor Barbara Hepworth as a design inspiration.  He was looking for the right balance between an integrated and disintegrate construction and wanted to ensure that the bulb would present a certain dynamic while remaining gentle.  He has clearly been successful in this and created a form that is both beautiful and elegant from every angle.

The Plumen002 uses 75% less energy than a conventional bulb and should also require replacing far less often, making them the most cost efficient over their lifetime.

Plumen is launching on Kickstarter, the world’s largest crowdfunding platform. The company’s stated mission is to “Help bring creative projects to life.”

Launching any new product is very expensive and because Plumen enjoys such a passionate, global community, they wanted to invite supporters to join Plumen in helping to launch their first new bulb design in three years. 

It is anticipated that the bulb will retail for £20.

For more details visit plumen.com

Jamie Hempsall is a multi-award winning interior designer and a member of BIID & SBID.  For examples of his work visit www.jamiehempsall.com