Nicola Holden Designs – Contemporary Interior Designer, London.

It seems like forever since I last blogged. I am pleased to say that my interior design projects have been keeping me very busy of late, but there seems to be a bit of a lull in the office today, so I am taking advantage of this to catch up on some much planned blogs.

So, before October is out, I thought I would start by telling you about Little Greene’s ‘Pink’ collection which they have launched to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month – October 2016.

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Little Greene is one of my favourite brands of paint, and I often specify their colours in my projects. Their new ‘Pink’ collection comprises eight related pink shades, providing a delicious choice from soft delicate tones associated with femininity and sensitivity to bolder, seductive hues.

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As a colour, pink comes across as being nurturing, caring, warm and romantic. Too much pink, however, can leave us feeling needy and physically weak. Soft pinks are soothing colours, and I have to say that my eyes are constantly drawn to the first image in this post – probably for exactly those reasons.

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In keeping with Little Greene’s heritage links, ‘Pink’ has its roots in history. During the Renaissance period, pink was used in paintings for the flesh colour of the human body, the ‘skin’ colour being created from a combination of two pigments – ‘Sinopia’, also known as Venetian Red, and Lime White. Whilst pink colours had been used in artists’ work for centuries it was only during the 18th Century that pinks became popular in fashionable clothing and porcelain, with architecture following across Europe soon afterwards. The name ‘pink’ derived from the flower of the same name and was adopted in the late 17th.

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Pink fell out of fashion in the 19th Century and only with the introduction of lightfast chemical dyes in the 20th Century creating bolder, brighter and more powerful pinks was there a resurgence in popularity. It was in the 1940s that pink truly became associated with girls; before that, pink had been for boys too.

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Little Greene have also launched a new colourway of the Paradise (c1940) wallpaper design, re-coloured in a gentle pink, with a subtly shimmering mica ground. The English Heritage-owned document from which this paper is drawn is actually a 20th Century piece, but the subject – exotic flora and the familiar oriental ho-ho birds – is classic ancient Chinoiserie.

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During the month of October, 15p of every can of paint and roll of wallpaper sold will be donated to Breast Cancer Haven, a charity providing one-to-one support to improve the quality of life of anyone affected by breast cancer.

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A while ago I was approached by Ronseal asking if I would be interested in collaborating in a DIY project. As I am in the middle of my own home renovation project, much of which I am doing myself, I said yes.

My husband had inherited a mid-century Swedish corner cabinet from his Swedish family that I thought would make a good project. A lot of Swedish furniture is painted but this was plain varnished pine, and the yellow tones and country-cottage feel of the piece didn’t work with the scheme in our home, so I was only too pleased to attack that with paint.

Before

As with most projects, preparation is key. I could have just painted over the varnish but the paint probably wouldn’t have stuck very well and would have chipped off as we used the cupboard. So, the first steps were to give it a good clean with sugar soap and then to get rid of the varnish. I thought the varnish might just sand off but that was wishful thinking and I had to resort to Nitromorse which is not very pleasant to work with.

Products

As part of the collaboration I needed to use a Ronseal product and as Ronseal don’t do a wide range of paint colours I decided to use their undercoat which I had had a good experience with on my office shelves. It is a one-coat undercoat which obviously saves time too!

Then it was time for the main paint colour. After much deliberation I had chosen to use Jazz Cafe from Fired Earth – a rich and gorgeous cobalt blue that will really ‘pop’ in the finished room scheme, and totally transform the corner cupboard from a very bland piece of furniture into something bright and fun. (My mother-in-law thinks the colour is very Swedish which is an added bonus!)

The penultimate step was to stencil a pattern into the panels in the doors. I have long been wanting to find an excuse to use a Royal Design Studio stencil, and this was the perfect opportunity. The pattern we selected is actually a traditional African pattern which links to my African heritage. I painted the white bits in some very matt ceiling paint that I had lying around. I wanted the matt finish to add texture to the unit. And then, to add a final layer of interest and texture, I sprayed on some Rust-Oleum Metallic Bright Gold paint to bits of the pattern to add a bit of pizazz.

After trawling the internet I came across some brass knobs whose size, shape and style worked with the African pattern on the Swedish mid-century unit. They’re a bit cheap and cheerful, but they will work fine until I see something else more suitable.

SwedishCollage

I have put together a video of the transformation process. Please be kind as being on camera is not my favourite thing to do!

So there you have it – a totally transformed piece of furniture! My still plaster pink dining room walls don’t do it quite justice but I have an image in my head as to how it will sit in the finished scheme, but you’ll have to wait a while for those photographs. But in my mind the colour of this unit will be an unexpected pop of colour, and I for one can’t wait to see the whole room come together!

Swedish Unit

What do you think? Do you love it or loathe it?

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, in partnership with Ronseal.

Back in September last year I posted about a mood board that I have recently put together for a petite flat in the West End. The couple wanted their interior to be modern and elegant, but with a homely feel to it.

Well, it has been a long time coming, but I have finally had the apartment photographed, and I am very pleased to say that I am absolutely delighted with the results. This apartment is a little bit of luxury, right in the heart of the West End.

Luxury West End Apartment

The apartment consists of an open plan living / dining / kitchen, a bedroom, a bathroom and of course the entrance hall. My clients wanted a largely grey and silver colour scheme, but I have added pops of mulberry and lilac to lift the monochrome scheme.

Luxury West End Apartment

I have introduced interest into the scheme through texture – a beautiful watermarked gravure wallpaper, luxury velvets, silk curtains. The rugs in the living room and bedroom were made bespoke to my design. I chose clear Perspex curtain poles so as not to detract from the beautiful architectural shape of the living room window, and I introduced layers of light for effect.

Luxury West End Apartment

The kitchen units already existed, but I added a matching breakfast bar and stools to replace the oversize dining table that was there previously.

Luxury West End Apartment

I replaced the old worktop with a beautiful marbled composite stone.

Luxury West End Apartment

In the bedroom it was all about luxury – soft tactile velvets and shimmery silks and wallpapers, and Mongolian lamb cushions whilst retaining the modern, architectural elements through a pair of Tizio lamps on the antique mirrored bedside tables.

Luxury West End Apartment

Luxury West End Apartment

In keeping with the scheme, the bathroom is largely tiled in a beautiful warm grey marble, centred on an elegantly curvaceous basin. Antiqued glass tiles in the niches, sparkling crystal mirror lights and a delicate Moroccan mirror complete the look.

Luxury West End Apartment

More images of this project, and others, can be found on my website.

“Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.”
Coco Chanel

Photographs © Fiona Walker-Arnott.

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It has been such a long time since my last blog post, and it’s not for lack of content. My head has been full of ideas, but I just haven’t been able to find the time to write. The end of March and beginning of April saw me incredibly busy finishing off a client’s project in Covent Garden (more on that to come) and then I had a much needed holiday in Morocco which I will share with you soon.

But, before things got so busy I was invited to a screen printing demonstration at Clarissa Hulse. I have long been a fan of Clarissa’s gorgeous fabrics, and have used them in my own home and on clients’ projects.

Clarissa Hulse Products

The evening started with a talk by Clarissa herself, explaining how she fell in love with painting on silk as a child, and the way that silk plays with light. Clarissa uses botanical patterns in her designs, and prints using opaque, matt colours. This ensures that the base colour doesn’t show through, allowing the printed colours to ‘zing off the silk’! Clarissa loves using clashing colours on the opposite side of the spectrum to dramatic effect.

Clarissa's talk

To create her designs, Clarissa gathers plants which she then presses and photographs, rather than sketch. I like that sort of art! The images are then manipulated slightly to get the finished design. Hundreds of swatches of different colours are then printed before the final combinations are selected.

Swatches

Fabric by the meter is printed in India due to the lack of decent printers in UK, and because the hand printing process is more common in India, allowing smaller runs to be printed. The patchwork cushions are made up by an East End charity for people with mental health problems. Clarissa also sells bags made by upcycling the backing cloth from her print tables.

Fabric colour

After her talk we were all treated to a demonstration of the screen printing process. I wish we had been allowed to try our hand at screen printing. Maybe next time…

Screen printing

I think her products are a wonderful way of adding those splashes of colour to your scheme, and the zingy colours and botanical shapes will certainly add life to your design.

So are you, like me, a Clarissa Hulse convert, or do your tastes lie elsewhere?

“It is the eye of ignorance that assigns a fixed and unchangeable colour to every object; beware of this stumbling block.”
Paul Gauguin

Images © Nicola Holden.

If you have enjoyed this post why don’t you head over to our Facebook page, or follow Nicola’s updates on Twitter or Pinterest. Full details of our Interior Design services can be found on our website.