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The Dos and Don’ts to Improve Your Home During Quarantine: Small Changes, Big Results


An interior needs to be a good mix. Design, colour, cheer, comfort and a bit of humour. As we are all spending so much time indoors, here are some of our top tips to make the most of your home…

1.Do think about your home.

Identify your favourite areas and think about why you like them and why they work. Do the same with the spaces that you don’t use or don’t like. Are there any dead corners or a room where you don’t feel comfortable? Check your needs. Do you need a space to read or to write? Install a comfortable chair next to a full height window with a standing lamp and a little stool to place a book or a cup of tea on. You can make it your special chair.

2. Do move the furniture around.

If you feel that you want to make some changes to the layout of a room, just try it! A change of scenario is refreshing and feels new.

In the Terrace Suite at Ham Yard Hotel, we swapped the living and the dining areas around. The seating area feels cosier, surrounded by a big bookcase and a fireplace.

The dining area is more spacious on the opposite side of the room. We reused many of the elements that were already in the room, the alabaster chandelier, the art and the dining table, the same chairs, but with the new layout and the new colours, the space has a very different feel.

3. Don’t be scared of painting rooms in different colours.

Using different colours in different areas, leading one space to another can make your home feel bigger and create a sense of adventure or drama. Even the smallest corridor or staircase can be given a personality of its own and become a delightful place to stand and dream.

The moment you arrive and look through the corridor in The Oak Leaf Suite at Ham Yard Hotel, it awakens curiosity and makes you wonder what’s next: a green and pink bookshelf, a yellow living room, a beige master bedroom and a blue bedroom. And of course some patterned fabric in the corridors. Heaven.

If you want to add a pattern or texture, use wallpaper or fabric lined walls. In this entrance to a London mews house, a burst of yellow comes from the walls covered in ‘Sirenes’ from Pierre Frey´s Jean Urcat collection. There’s no doubt that it is the star of the show.

If painting the whole room is too much, doors are always a good option, or paint just the frame as Amy Barfour has done here, painting this lovely architrave in a Bloomsbury style.

Paint or wallpaper also can be used in smaller doses: paint a piece of furniture or add wallpaper to the inside of a wardrobe.

4. Do add texture.

Whatever your scheme or style, texture always adds interest and depth. Texture can be added with different weights of fabric, for example linens on curtains with a heavier weave on upholstery. Use different hues of wood for furniture and objet d’art in the room.

The living room of this house in London is really very small, it’s incredible to think how many different layers we have been able to add to give it character and charm. The large painting by Juliette Losq, the sofa upholstered in my light and cheerful ‘One Way’ fabric for Christopher Farr, cushions made with different fabrics, an old Peruvian blanket, an antique Syrian octagonal wooden side table, a stone and glass sculpture, and a Swedish rug from Stephenson. It is a disciplined piece of work but looks very carefree.

5. Don’t get rid of antiques.

An antique always adds interest to a room. Remember a wooden piece of furniture can be sanded, or painted. Sometimes it is just a matter of making it lighter to make you fall in love again. In this warm living room, the XIX century bleached table makes the room feel lighter and more contemporary.

In The Whitby Hotel, an intricate gold mirror and console fits perfectly with the Katherine Cuthbert vases and the wooden table. The eclectic and fun fabrics on walls and curtains makes the space vibrant.

If you are sure you don’t want a piece of furniture anymore, be brave and sell it on eBay. Live with what you love.

6. Do the maths: less is less and more is more.

I like busy interiors, but I like them because they are full of things that I love. Try to do the same, surround yourself with things that mean something to you.

Nevertheless, a more minimal space can be just as powerful. The answer is to enjoy your character. Your living space should say a great deal about you.

7. Don’t underestimate small objects.

They can make the room. A lamp, a box, a little painting, some interesting books, these small objects and tokens say something about you and add character into the room.

Invest a bit in that little objet d’art that you liked, or make your own shell mirrors to decorate your house. Homemade things always add a personal touch.

8. Don’t think art has to be expensive.

A collection of prints from an antique book beautifully framed can be the perfect pairing for a wall. I framed some drawings from a fairytale book and I have used them in several interiors. An interesting frame can make all the difference.

9. Do embrace quirkiness and fantasy.

Unexpected, slightly eccentric details add a twist and makes the space fun. Rooms should not look too serious, they should make you smile as you enter.

10. Do invest in small textiles that bring joy and style to your house.

Some nice linen sheets to get a better night’s sleep, a set of embroidered cushions that you love, a colourful ikat lamp shade. These are all small adjustments, but they have a big impact.

11. Don’t be stressed.

Remember a home is an on-going project, it will never be totally finished, and that’s part of the magic, you will evolve, and your house with you. It’s a living space!

Stay home and stay safe.

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