Love Your Living Space
Your living and dining rooms are where you eat, entertain, chill out and sometimes work. So whatever your style, room size or budget, we’ve got design and accessory ideas for you…
In our throwaway culture, it’s a relief to come across a company that still cares about making good-quality furniture. The Painted Furniture Company is one such reassuring traditional furniture maker and builds their Just for You ranges, including cupboards, coffee tables and TV units, to order. Their Richmond furniture is in a beautifully balanced contemporary design and they use solid timber and traditional techniques. Each piece is hand-finished too – ah, the good old days, when things were made to last.
Talking of which, remember parquet flooring? Well, they say everything that goes around comes around, and parquet is back in fashion – all the best living rooms are wearing it this spring. And there’s no denying it, there’s something rather special about it. Elegant and sophisticated, it was once prohibitively expensive, and found exclusively in grand homes. But thanks to advances in modern manufacturing techniques, it’s now affordable to all of us.
In terms of colour, design and pattern, anything goes. Traditional golden honeyed oak hues are still popular but they are making way for more outgoing colours.
Peter Keane, Director of The Natural Wood Floor Company, says: “Homeowners are now more informed and visually inspired than ever before. If they see something on Instagram or in a magazine, they want to replicate the look in their own homes. This has made everyone far more creative. The trend for light whites and greys has transferred from wooden boards to parquet blocks, and the beauty of the lighter shades is that they don’t overpower, but instead work with the wood to the enhance the oak’s natural features.”
And if you really love the look, you can even buy a parquet coffee table from French Connection Home now.
Sofas With Style
Snuggler sofas (usually one-and-a-half times the length of a standard settee) are all the rage at the moment. Big enough to really curl up on, they’re a good option in place of an armchair and we love the Isabelle from Parker Knoll,  in bang up-to-date Mist Teal fabric that has a lovely hint of shimmer to it.
If you prefer to stretch out rather than curl up, a ‘chaise end’ sofa is perfect – it’s also a good option in a narrow room where a straight sofa against a wall can somehow make everything look cramped. Having one extended end on the sofa instantly breaks up the awkward linear feel.
Is a lack of storage your problem, rather than the shape of a room? It can be a problem for many of us whether our rooms are large or small, wide or narrow, and in a living room storage is particularly key because unless everything’s neatly tidied away, the most ‘public’ of our spaces can quickly look disorderly. Bespoke fitted furniture can be the answer and a specialist company like Neville Johnson is worth consulting – they can help come up with very creative solutions in even the trickiest of spaces.
Decadent Dining Rooms
Feature walls have had a bit of a bad press in the past, not least because they were so over-used in all those 1980s and 90s home makeover TV shows, putting them right up there with garden decking. But in a dining room, which can often be a rather austere, chilly space, a feature wall can be transformative. As someone I interviewed recently said: “I think of the dining room as the chilly room that my parents used to use when they entertained friends and wanted them to see their ‘best things’.” To help overcome that rather ill-at-ease feel to the room, picking out one wall can make the space seem more vibrant and energised. Paint it a darker shade, paper it in an eye-catching design or you could even opt for something really funky, like bold, hand-painted stripes of zingy colours.
If you go for the wallpapering option, we love Farrow & Ball’s Block Print Stripe. One of the company’s best-loved wallpapers, it has been relaunched in striking new colourways including Hague Blue, Vardo – and the rather worryingly named Arsenic! The paper can be hung horizontally, vertically or reversed to create a bolder stripe that’s double the width.
A Touch of Glamour
Or how about the pretty Paloma design by Harlequin? Inspired by ornamental architectural shapes and organic natural forms, Paloma features elegant motifs in a tranquil, calming palette. Lustrous finishes, highlights of silver and gold, beads and sequins all add a glamorous twist to the collection. And it’s not too expensive, either, at £39 for an upholstery-weight cut velvet.
Harlequin Studio’s Charlie Locking explains how the designs evolved: “Inspired by current fashion trends, we wanted to combine the softness and fluidity of modern lace with the angularity of architecture. We have tried to interpret these two concepts in a classic, accessible and highly useable way, whilst still retaining their ‘edginess’ and contemporary appeal.”
The colour palette was inspired by the trend for all things Danish and consists of sophisticated neutral and grey tones mixed with soft, pared-back shades: powder blue and silver, rose gold and pearl, slate and brass, seaglass and silver, putty and chalk. There are nine fabric motifs and seven wallpaper designs, six of which mirror the fabrics. The weaves are highlighted with glistening metallic threads, while the soft drapery products work well with luxurious velvet.
Lighting can have a big impact on the atmosphere in a dining room and is worth giving some thought to. It needs to be bright enough so diners can see what they’re eating, but soft enough to feel calming and intimate.
Take a bow, the Garrison suspended pendant light from Christopher Wray – it’s the ultimate lighting solution over a dining table. Inspired by bullseye fixtures on 19th century ships, the Garrison collection beautifully marries industrial chic with contemporary design. It comes in a choice of four finishes, black lacquer, copper, stain gold and white lacquer, and as an individual pendant or as multiples.
Images: Andy Gore Ltd