A change of Plan
This wonderful season of Autumn is usually the time that almost all of the major design manufacturers launch their main collections of the year. Those of you who regularly read this editorial will know that there’s a great feeling of excitement and anticipation both within the interior design trade in general, and more specifically here at John Charles Interiors.
We would normally all bundle into my car and whizz off to London to attend Decorex, and/or the equivalent show at Chelsea Harbour (whatever it happens to be called that year), eager to immerse ourselves in all that is new and lovely.
However . . . Along with all things grand (including my BIG birthday celebrations !!!) the exhibitions have of course had to be cancelled. Well, I say cancelled, but in true British (or is that entrepreneurial) tradition they have tried to soldier on, and have held various presentations and seminars virtually. I’m sorry, and you can call me old fashioned (refer back to BIG birthday), but it really isn’t quite the same. Yes, you can get the flavour of a collection, you can see where the manufacturer is going with it, but you can’t engage one of the most important of the 5 senses – you can’t FEEL it!!!
So, instead of trying to wax lyrical about something I haven’t yet seen, I’m going to wait for our new pattern books to arrive, and postpone the oo-ing and ah-ing until next month.
This month, I’m going to talk about lounges, although as somebody famous once said “Only hotels and airports have lounges” At John Charles Interiors we usually refer to it as the living room, although it has been called many and various things over the years, such as the sitting room (a fair description), the drawing room (nobody seems to do much drawing these days, apart from my son-in-law who’s a really good artist, and who also happens to be my curtain fitter – but I digress), and the parlour (possibly implying that it’s the best room in which to hold a conversation ??). When I was a lad my mum and dad used to just call it the front room, which always seemed a bit odd to me, because as we lived in a flat we didn’t actually have a back room. Ah well, whatever you care to call it it’s probably the most used, and certainly the most important room in the house.
Although there is an ever-growing movement towards open plan kitchen / diner / family area living spaces, in many homes the living room is still the hub of the house; a space in which to relax, converse, watch TV and entertain friends. It does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a room to live in, and shouldn’t look or feel like a sterile showhome. More than any other room in the house, with the possible exception of the main bedroom, a living room should reflect your personality, your style, your way of living.
The calm, classic look that has been in vogue for many years now is usually created by painted walls in soft neutral colours such as stone, mole or French grey and a wood floor with rug, or a simple loop or velvet pile carpet (my personal preference), teamed up with sofas and chairs in plain textures or self patterned weaves. However, thank the Lord, colour - and beautiful, rich colour at that - is now completely back on the menu. Gorgeous hues of bluey greens, greeny blues and even dark navys and greys really give a room the Wow factor. Check out the Little Greene Paint Company’s Tea with Florence, Ambleside, Royal Navy or Knightsbridge to get a flavour of what I mean.
When it comes to good quality paints, I believe the Little Greene Paint Company have got it pretty much sewn up. The paint itself is of vastly superior quality to other designer paints available (perhaps beginning with an F and a B), and a great favourite with the decorators, as it goes on really well and covers superbly. It’s a bit more expensive than your Dulux type brands, but the colours are more subtle, and as it contains up to 40% more pigment, it can actually end up saving you money by needing less coats.
As for window dressings, Roman blinds look smart and chic, but for me curtains are still king (or queen – no sexism here). A pair of elegant curtains, beautifully made, lined and interlined add a touch of opulence and style that blinds alone cannot equal. Whether finished with a deep hand pinch pleated heading and hung from a substantial pole, or a wave heading under a crisp modern pelmet, they really do complete the look and add a touch of softness.
For a more flamboyant look add splashes of colour with fabulous cushions, lamps and accessories, or go for patterned curtains. One more word about curtains: please, please, pretty please wherever you can (and I firmly believe you can in around ninety percent of cases) opt for full length curtains. They will add style, balance and substance to the room, as opposed to just looking like something that’s there to merely cover the window.
As we begin to move forward from the neutrally grey look, you’ll find there is so much wonderful product out there at present that simply oozes style using colour, pattern and texture. Fabulous wallcoverings, gorgeous printed fabrics, amazing carpets and rugs. Call us for an appointment at our Edgbaston showroom, and we’d be pleased to tickle your design taste buds.
If you already have a neutral room but fancy cranking it up a little, think about adding a one-off quirky chair, covered in something show-stopping. When planning the seating requirements for your living room by all means take into account the number of bums on seats needed, but only those bums that are regularly seated. I have sometimes been into houses and thought I had mistakenly walked into a doctor’s waiting room, as there were so many and varied chairs and sofas crammed into one room. Keep it simple and not overcrowded, then have several occasional chairs that can be brought in for large family gatherings (and yes, assuming we’re all sensible, one day we will be able to enjoy these again). These can be upholstered in relatively neutral fabrics so that they will happily sit in a bedroom or on a landing until needed.
Finally, and while we’re on the subject of size, let’s talk about the biggest bone of contention in any living room – the TV. Now I know that you lads are going to tell me that it’s absolutely essential to view everything from the Cup Final to CBeebies on a screen that wouldn’t look out of place in Trafalgar Square, but come on guys let’s be reasonable. Any TV is a designer’s nightmare, as it usually throws out the focal point of a room – traditionally the fireplace - and more often than not dictates the way the furniture is to be laid out, so let’s at least keep it in proportion to the size of your room.
As with all aspects of interior design, the key to a successful living room, or indeed any other room, is balance. Keep that in mind, use the right people for the right jobs, and you won’t go far wrong.
John Biddell, John Charles Interiors
Live 24 7 magazine editorial - October 2020