Author Archives: Gillian Forster


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How to update your bedroom in a weekend

Your bedroom is your sanctuary. A cosy haven to retreat to and relax in these challenging times.

If yours is feeling more blah than bliss, set aside a weekend to utterly transform this space with a few simple tweaks.

Pillow Talk

Too many cushions…No!

Cushions and throws are the interior design equivalent of accessories, they instantly elevate your look with minimal outlay and effort.

Choose cool fabrics for spring/summer such as cotton and linen in light fresh colours.

For autumn/winter choose warm fabrics in jewel hues such as velvet and chenille.

Throws co-ordinate again in cotton for warmer days, consider a faux fur throw for those chilly evenings.

Always spend as much as you can afford on bed linen and pillows to make your bedroom feel like a 5-star hotel. Silky smooth Egyptian cotton for soft breathable bedding, choose a high thread count. But, the thread count is not the only factor when gauging quality. Cotton is grown in Egypt often produces longer, finer yarns, the longer the threads the better the softness.

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Light Up The Night

If soft furnishings are the accessories, lighting is the jewellery. Bedside table lamps give a soft, warm glow. Pendant lights hanging either side of the bed offer a more dramatic look. To add a wow factor hang long, narrow mirrors behind lighting.

Choose individual interesting lighting. Details such as textured or coloured tall lamp bases. Pay attention to the shade to ensure balance and the power in the bulb. You may feel the need for bright ceiling lighting on a dimmer switch and softer bulbs in the lamps for quieter times.

Window Shopping

There is a wide selection of window dressings on the market from wooden shutters to silk fully lined curtains. When choosing the right item for your bedroom consider how bright the room is and how much privacy is required. Do you prefer the room to be completely dark when sleeping? If so choose blinds and curtains with black outlining or full height shutters. Soft linen or voile curtains look lovely bellowing in the wind but will not help a light sleeper!

Keep colours neutral for longevity, but find fabrics with interesting textures that catch the light and add interest to the room.

Gallery Chic

Nothing spells boring more than bare walls!

Bring personality into the bedroom with evocative art that expresses your style.

Don’t rush to buy art if you are not sure about the choice, you will be looking at it every day! What looks great in Antibes, may look out of place in Surrey.

It is often said that you do not choose art it chooses you. You may see the perfect piece when on holiday or passing a vintage shop.

Black and white photos in good frames make interesting and attractive pieces.

Family shots are the obvious choice, also consider favourite places or places with wonderful memories. The more artistic the better.

Mirrors can be much more than a necessary piece to check your hair. Consider aged or distressed mirrors in an interesting shape with a good character frame.

Finishing Touches

A new carpet always brings a relaxing aura to any room but falls under the title of a high ticket item.

Achieve the same effect by cleaning the present carpet or adding the right rug such as a pile or a soft fur rug in a neutral shade.

Finally, a small display of fresh or faux flowers will make you smile when you enter the room.

Lie back …. Relax with a good book and enjoy.

How to avoid dead front room syndrome

What happens to your living room if your new extension has a sofa in it?

Ten top tips on how to avoid a redundant room:

1. Don’t waste valuable space.

2. Give this room as much thought as you gave the new extension.

3. Older houses have a front and back room, 2 primary living spaces.

4. An extension at the back of the house typically combines kitchen, living and dining room. The area everyone hangs out.

5. Don’t close the front room off from the rest of the house, open up the whole of the downstairs living space giving a view from front to back

6. Openings do not have to be huge, but more than one way of entering the room will make it more usable.

7. One risk is that it will feel like one vast room, to avoid this zone and consider replacing a wall with double doors that you can have open or closed.

8. Don’t think of it as an open plan, but a series of interconnected spaces for different living needs.

9. Start with the middle room, put the kitchen in the centre section with the dining room at the back and the living area at the front.

10. This ensures all areas will be used equally and the house will have a feeling of balance.

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A Midsummer Table

A warm evening, best friends and delicious food. The three key ingredients for the perfect Summer supper party.

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For special occasions go the extra mile, incorporating elements that will make things feel genuinely special. Touches that make the atmosphere celebratory from the moment your first guests arrive.

A Midsummer Table

A fabulous display of flowers is enchanting and make a real first impression, not to mention a conversation piece. Making this arrangements is so much easier with life-like blooms. They are not going to wilt, they stay where they are put and can be organised in advance.

Begin with an old fruit crate from your local or farm shop or a rustic basket. Fill with large blooms such as Hydrangeas. Place at the entrance to the dining area to be enjoyed by your guests.

A Midsummer Table

Set the tone of your table with:

  1. Fruit and Flower centre pieces.
  2. Flower petals scattered across the table.
  3. Crisp white linen napkins elegantly folded and tied with coloured ribbon to match the centre pieces.
  4. Coloured wine and water glasses, use as many different glasses as possible.
  5. Large rustic bowls and servers for superfood salads
  6. Add coloured throws to the back of each chair. They give and endearing look and come in useful if the evening turns chilly.
  7. Candles – Hurricane Lamps
  8. Lastly sit back, relax and enjoy a memorable evening.
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Fantastic garden ideas for warm summer evenings

Warm summer’s evenings, friends and delicious food. The 3 key ingredients for the perfect summer supper party. Make it a special occasion, go the extra mile. Incorporate elements that will make the occasion feel genuinely special. Make the atmosphere celebratory from the moment the first guests arrive.

Flowers

A fabulous display of flowers make a great first impression, not to mention a conversation piece. Go grand! Use a super tall glass vase with extra long stems or a chunky urn type vase with lots of lovely roses. Don’t be afraid to use good fakes.

The Table

Now that you have set the tone carry this on to the table settings. Use a linen tablecloth tonal in shade to the flowers or fold it over a few times to create a runner. Use coloured casual tumblers for soft drinks and coloured glasses with stems for wine. Match napkins to the colour of the flowers to complete the look.

Flower Ice Cubes

Don’t stop with the table! Flowers are the theme extend them into more creative elements such as ice cubes. Miniature roses, pansies and daisies are all suitable. Put them into your ice cube tray with water and freeze as usual. Alternatively, scatter plucked petals along the length of the table.

flower ice cubes summer's evenings

Furniture

It feels right to leave a timber table partially uncovered for a Summer Supper. It conjures up images of harvests and fruit picking. Place “fun sized” apples and pears down the length of the table. Tie them with straw and tie straw to the backs of chairs.

Lighting

Summer’s last rays of sunshine will linger way into the evening. Clear skies and twilight on a balmy evening are very special. Have plenty of candles to hand including citronella to ward off bugs. Place on the table, surfaces near it. Fill the surrounding area with candles in tall holders and lanterns. Their fluttering glow will complete the atmosphere.

The Garden Picnic

You don’t have to eat at the table! Having a picnic in your garden or nearby field can be great Summer fun. Make delicious food the pack into a picnic basket with real plates, glasses and solid cutlery. Protect by wrapping in cloth napkins. Wrap sandwiches in parchment paper and tie with straw or string. Write on the paper what they are and it will be like receiving a present when handed out! Don’t forget to take a couple of picnic rugs and some plump cushions for extra comfort.

A picnic can feel like a mini holiday. Sit back and relax!

Gillian x

Garden Design – 8 ways to make the most of your garden

It is no secret (and research proves) that spending time outside boosts our mental health. There is nothing more calming and peaceful than unwinding in a private outdoor natural space after a hard day at work. This guide details 8 ways to make the most of your garden and help create a comfortable zone for you, along with your friends and family, to enjoy some fresh air this summer.

Build a Bench

The built in bench is fast becoming a principal feature in urban and country gardens alike.
You can either design and build your own unique design or alternatively, purchase a ready made style for a more affordable option.

Once part of your garden you will always have somewhere comfortable to sit at a moment’s notice. There will be no need to start moving and assembling furniture if you have a bench ready and waiting for you when you head outside with a book and a glass of wine!

The Shady Spot

We don’t always want to worship the sun and a shady corner of your garden can be a welcome resting spot to stay cool on a summer afternoon. Plan your seating area to be comfortable and sheltered from the sun. Planting foliage and palms that grow to a suitable height can offer a natural canopy – but while waiting for these to mature opt for a canopy or umbrella in the meantime.

The Leafy Oasis

Create a picture pleasant to the eye in your tranquil area. Arranging plants in different sized pots as well as in beds and borders can add an interesting feature to your garden and gives you an opportunity to add a personal touch. Top tip: Using some evergreen plants will keep your area fresh and colourful throughout the winter and will always make your garden look alive.

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Your 5 Star Comfort

Use your outside space to the full and make it feel like an additional room to your home. Where you can, make underfoot textures comfortable. For example, decking can provide a warm feeling underfoot. If your area is straight from house to garden the same tiles inside and out can give a wonderful flow and real bring the outside in and vice versa.

It’s all about practically and comfort

Seating and lounging should always be comfortable. Buy the best seating you can afford – it will last longer and be easier to maintain and add some beautiful cushions to finish the look. There are now so many interesting outdoor waterproof fabrics to choose from, just make sure the design fits your theme.

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Maintain your privacy

No one wants to be overlooked by nosy neighbours! Privacy will make you feel more relaxed when enjoying your outside space. However, this does not mean that you must erect a large, ugly division. Horizontal wooden strutted fences are a fantastic idea to keep a small seating area private. This will not give a solid feel and will look chic and modern.

Give fake grass a go

Artificial turf has had a revival in recent years and can be a particularly good option for smaller outdoor spaces. Importantly it’s hassle free and is a great alternative to dreary concrete. It is also soft to the touch, fun, attractive, fantastic for children to play on and there is no need to water or mow. It’s easy to see why it’s popularity has rocketed.

Dining Area

What can be better than eating al fresco with family and friends? Investing in a quality set of outdoor chairs and a table is often worth it. Always research before you buy. Certain woods do not last as long as others and it is crucial to check required maintenance with the supplier as they can differ hugely. For example, budget woods will need to be resealed every year.

I’ll take this opportunity to wish you a wonderful summer in your beautiful garden!

Gillian x

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Is Your Home Due a Spring Clean?

Is your home due a spring clean? It’s time to decide what stays and what goes.

Letting go of excess “stuff” will help you feel more in control and less anxious. This will improve your mental well being and that of your family.

1. Hallway & Stairs

Keep it clear! This area is the first impression of you home no one wants to walk into a mess.
Keep shoes and coats in a under stairs cupboard. If this is not possible invest in a bench with storage for shoes and hang coats in a wardrobe. Hallways are the arteries of your home. If they are blocked the flow of energy is affected.

2. Sitting Room

With the present preference for open plan it can be hard to keep clutter out of sight. Use storage solution furniture. Antique chests make wonderful coffee tables and can house children’s toys after bedtime. Storage cubes are great for extra seating as well as keeping paperwork out of sight. Baskets can also look pleasing to the eye and house many items of different shapes and sizes.

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To purchase these antique chests, please contact Gillian Forster: 07870 406613

3. Kitchen

The kitchen can become a dumping ground paper,post and sports bags. Keep clutter that can not be hidden to one area. Well used items such as oils and herbs can be decorative but keep to one side of the work surface. Having some areas totally clear is more aesthetically pleasing and gives more space to work.

4. The Home Office

Quick clear up tips… Tidy the desk and floor. Keep the desk as clear as possible. A clean and clear work space will clear the head and nourish the soul. Maximise shelving and title folders and files. Write a to do list and highlight priority items. Back up your computer!

5. Bedrooms

A chair in the bedroom can be inviting but it can also become a clutter magnet. It does not look so good covered in clothes! The bedroom should not be a dumping ground, take a minute to put clothes away. Keep work items out of the bedroom and limit electrical items. This will give you a more relaxing stress free environment to end a busy day.

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To purchase this antique chest, please contact Gillian Forster: 07870 406613

6. The Bathroom

It is important to achieve as much storage space as possible in the bathroom. Many basins come on cupboard or drawer units great for hiding all those bottles. A family will also benefit from a wall mirror cupboard. Again it is a place that will benefit from baskets… idea for keeping children’s toys and toilet rolls neat and tidy.

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To purchase this storage cube, please contact Gillian Forster: 07870 406613

Other Tips…

Look at the furniture in every room. Do you need it all? Is it all “doing a job”? Can any items be replaced with more use full pieces?

When organising shelves and other surfaces… Take every thing off, look at every piece with a fresh eye. Do you need it or want to look at it? If unsure donate to charity.

Is your home due a spring clean? An uncluttered home will create an uncluttered mind!

To purchase any items for in this article, please contact Gillian Forster on 07870 406613.

Gillian x

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6 Popular 2017 Interior Design Trends that YOU need to know about

As the world gets more chaotic and technical, 2017 will see us hunt for something more real and natural as we reflect far more on what we consume and where our products are from. Take a look at these 2017 interior design trends for your new years inspiration:

2017 Interior Design Trend #1

2017 Interior Design Trend #1

#1 The New Nordic

Scandinavian style is here to stay, but 2016’s cutesy will be replaced by graphic contemporary in 2017.

Traditional whites or soft grey woods complimented with worn tan leather and natural wood will keep your décor on trend. For the brave among you – adding a dark wall will really set this look off!

Earthy shades are in fashion, bold yet understated, providing a sense of honesty to our homes – think sandy beige, rusty reds, oranges and deep green tones.

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2017 Interior Design Trend #1

#2 Minimal Lines

Furniture that is slim, clean and has minimal lines will be a staple this year.

Think – sofas, chairs and side tables with light and slick skinny legs; then juxtapose with fabrics and materials of your choice (see #3).

#3 Vibrant Jewel Tones

Emerald, ruby and sapphire blend exquisitely with violet shades.

Choose plush pile fabrics such as velvet which is traditional yet surface detailed to compliment your minimal line furniture.

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2017 Interior Design Trend #3

#4 Round Mirrors

It’s time to move away from square and rectangular mirrors – round or oval oversized mirrors are IN!
On the topic of mirrors… grouping a selection of mirrors together (as many as possible) makes rooms feel larger and adds an impressive feature.

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2017 Interior Design Trend #4

#5 High Low Detailing

Match cabinet wood to a detail on the wall behind and paint them the same statement colour for a new look. Surfaces should be matte – gloss surfaces and woodwork are out this year (yes, even in the kitchen)!

#6 Rethink Bathrooms

Forget square and rectangular tiles this year and turn your attention to hexagonal tiles or metro tiles set in a herringbone design.

For fixtures and fittings, think beyond chrome taps – brass, copper and black give a unique new look.

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Happy New Year from Concept Designs – we hope you enjoy your home in 2017!

Gillian x

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3 Top Tips to Make Your Christmas Table Sophisticated

One of the most important elements of Christmas interiors is the dining table. Whether yours is set in its own room or within the hustle and bustle of the kitchen, here are some ideas for the tabletop and surrounding area:

1. Light

Candles are the staple of your Christmas table setting. Mix different sizes – pillar candles and tealights in holders spotted down the table.

Add fairy lights down the centre of the table – they will look magical as they surround the candles.

Enhance the atmosphere by dimming the main lights and use an assortment of hurricane lanterns scattered around the room to bring the look together perfectly.

2. Festive flourishes

Scatter small baubles down the table and mix with fresh greenery for an elegant look.

It’s all about balance – mix things up but not so much that it becomes messy!

3. Soft furnishings

The use of texture softens the table – a simple linen table cloth is the perfect backdrop teamed with co-ordinating napkins.

Add chunky wool throws and velvet cushions to sofas and chairs to make the entire room cosy, soft and snug.

And importantly… don’t forget the food will form part of the display – make sure there is room for the dinner you’ve been slaving over all day!

From everyone at Concept Designs – Interior Solutions we wish you a beautiful, memorable and relaxing Christmas.

Gillian x

3 Ways To Bring The Outside In This Christmas

We all want our homes to look magical at Christmas, from our front door and hallway all the way to our heavy-laden Christmas table. Bring your home to life this Christmas by adding a green touch to your festive display.

1. Flowers bring rooms to life all year long – not only though their visual beauty but also through their scent. Decorate your home with the traditional Christmas flowers – poinsettia.
Place in old urns from antique markets or bunch 3 together in a large pot and position on the floor in your hallway for an instant Christmas hit every time you walk through the door.

2. Pick fresh greenery from woodlands and hedgerows – it is a great festive activity that children will enjoy and will add an authentic touch to your home.
You can use some of the foliage to create unique decorations. Add the foliage to a cluster of baubles and hang on the back of chairs or door knobs.

3. A mantle draped with a long trail of ivy is quite breathtaking. Intertwining around a staircase’s spindles also creates a dramatic effect. Add more volume and texture by blending real and faux ivy together.

Finish by weaving strands of fairy lights through the ivy so that their twinkling bulbs are visible between the leaves. If you have time, velvet bows add an interesting twist.

And remember… decorations are there to make us smile – so play with them and think outside the box. Do something that your parents would never have dreamed of!

Gillian x

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Choosing Your Perfect Christmas Tree

With only 5 weeks left to go until Christmas, there’s no need to get your tinsel in a tangle over the festive decorations for your Christmas tree this year. Instead take a look at our advice and inspiration from our home interior experts.

Top 3 Tips

1. Always put the lights on first – it is best to turn them on as this helps with positioning. Choose a soft white light so they do not distract from the decorations.

2. Wrap presents in paper and bows to compliment your tree. These small touches add real finesse and will separate your tree from the crowd.

3. Sit back with a glass of mulled wine and admire your work!

Decorating your Christmas Tree

The first step is to choose a theme for your tree and stick to it. Make sure that your look is in keeping with the character of your home – especially the room that it is going to go in. Once you have a theme in mind, you can start the preparation!

Santa Clause Style

Use St Nicholas’s traditional style of red, white and gold to provide a rich and full look of interesting ornaments. Top with a beautiful star, angel or for fun a Santa hat!

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White Christmas

Decorate with paper doves, frosted pine cones and white snowflake ornaments. Add to this frosted, glass and silver baubles with a silver star on top to suggest a recent snowfall.

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We Three Kings

For a regal theme mix purple with gold and sapphire. Baubles decorated with gems and jewels complete the look. Top with a golden star.

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Woodland Tree

This is especially suitable for families with young children. Use owl, deer and bear decorations teamed with pine cones and bronze ornaments, raffia and natural ribbon. Set in a tree trunk and add a fairy on top to look over the animals!

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Multi Colour Tree in Stripes

Choose 4 colours and hang in colour blocks. Divide into quarters and only use one colour per quarter. For example, silver for the top quarter followed by pink and aqua and finish with gold on the bottom. Top with a large bow of silver, pink, aqua and gold ribbon.

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The Black and White Tree

For a strong contemporary look use only black and white decorations – in my opinion, more white than black is most effective. Add snowflakes, white bobbles of different textured finishes and black and white bows. Finish by wrapping the presents under the tree in black and white paper. Bows to compliment.

concept designs interior solutions black and white christmas tree

A Real or Fake Christmas Tree… It’s your choice.

Your tree is your canvas, so take time to select a good one. Gorgeous ornaments can only do so much for a scraggy tree! Try and pick a well shaped tree that’s as symmetrical as possible. Position in a low traffic spot(!) away from heat sources.

Need help with decorating your Christmas tree? We are always here to help