Sunday, 3 January 2021

Designing in a time of Covid

Well it's 2021

We should feel refreshed after the Christmas 'break' - right?



Yes you saw right - acceptance

This is my keyword for 2021. And when I feel myself thinking less than charitable thoughts about the year ahead I tell myself to breathe, think calm, think A-C-C-E-P-T-A-N-C-E

Exciting new design projects can still be exciting

They will have to be tailored to fit the new normal of course, meaning no 'home' visits

So how do you design a home when you can't fully inhabit it? same as always -

get to know your client and their design needs

by using the tools available to you.That's it - simple!

Of course this means continuing to embrace my words from 2020 - adaptability and flexibility

As designers we are creative problem solvers 

There is always a solution. There is no 'perfect' solution, compromise of some sort is always a part of it, but, equally,  there is a way forward - always

So, let's accept and then dive into 2021 together. I'm ready when you are

"acceptance leads to a fresh page with a myriad of opportunities to design the future" EP

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Painting in 'White'

 I was on a zoom call yesterday evening with a client undergoing a whole house renovation. She asked me about decorating with white. What did I think about using a bright white downstairs and a softer white upstairs?

Shades of white are often considered a go-to safe option when lots of decisions are being made and/or the budget is tight and/or a client would like to live in a space first before splashing out (decoratively and ££s speaking) on any colour additions

I was reminded when my client asked this seemingly straightforward question, that nothing is ever simple, especially when you're talking 'white' paint

So, as a follow-on from this conversation I thought I'd share a few tips and tricks in time for the weekend (in case any of you out there are planning a decorating fest before the clocks go back and we all spend even more time indoors 

Number 1 rule - as with any paint colour always test, test and test again. Money spent on samples may seem like an unnecessary overspend but, believe me, it'll be far more costly (include your time in this) to have to re-decorate post hasty-paint-colour-choice

Inexpensive lining paper (buy a roll or two from any DIY store) is perfect for paint swatches. Remember the following:

  1. go large on your swatches
  2. always paint more than one coat (most paint samples allow for two large swatch coats)
  3. trim off excess paper around your swatch so that you see just the colour
  4. write the name/make/serial number of each colour on the reverse of the sample
  5. look at your swatch/es in both natural (day) light and electric light / at all times of day / and, if possible, in all weathers / all over the room in question (flat against the wall unless it is a floor paint in which case lay it on the floor), including near any windows, the middle of each wall and also in the corners, to see as many variations of the colour as possible. You get the gist: the thing with light is that, as it bounces off surfaces in different directions, it adds to or detracts from the intensity of the colour. This is what provides the magic when done right!
  6. avoid, if possible, viewing your swatch against a strong colour as this will skew your swatch colour
  7. try out your swatch with all your samples - tiles, flooring, wood finishes, kitchen surfaces, fabric choices etc to check that it sits right in your interior scheme and, again, in all different lights; in particular natural and electric
  8. if you only have access to swatch cards, take the swatches off the card background (not forgetting to write the paint reference on the reverse!) so that the card colour doesn't influence the swatch itself

Which 'white'? -
There are now so many brands and so many 'whites' out there - every brand has a 'pure' white which differs from the other brands so there's that for starters. Hunting for a 'true' white amongst the options can be exhausting

Then there are whites with hints of - yellow, apricot, pink, blue, green and so on.
A rule of thumb is to avoid too yellow a white in a sunny south-facing room unless  you are fine wearing sunnies inside, and avoid using too 'green' a white in a north-facing room unless you really love green (the cold northern light exaggerates the green). And, as with choosing anything for your home, if there's a niggle of doubt when you view your swatch then ditch it and try another

There are some fabulous paint showrooms out there but keep in mind that what looks good in a showroom may not work for you at home - again down to lighting -Showrooms tend to be overlit compared to our own homes, so don't make any firm decisions until you've tried the swatches in your own home

Many paint cards helpfully place whites in their colour groupings to make life easier for you. This means that you can choose a whole colour palette, from dark to light, for your home safe in the knowledge that your choices come from the same colour family

Paint finishes -
Once you have chosen your 'white' please don't forget to take into account the finish of the paint which can alter (dramatically) how a colour looks, with different paint finishes having differing *sheen levels. The most obvious contrast here would be between a high gloss finish and a super matt finish

If the paint card itself doesn't show these different finishes (Little Greene do) then make a trip to the paint store, where there will usually be samples of different finishes displayed

Make sure to choose the right finish for the job so that you get the best out of your paint (for example a washable paint in high traffic areas such as a hallway and living area)

Thankfully, Eco credentials are pretty much a given in 2020, with new stringent rules about VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in place, but for those of you who are particularly sensitive to paint odours you should see how a paint sample smells prior to committing to a whole paint job. If in doubt opt for a low odour or even odourless paint. Make sure you do your research to avoid misery post paint-job

Lastly, if you really are totally stumped, invest in some 'colour consultancy' which is often available either in-store or in the comfort of your own home via a recommended interior decorator or designer

Have fun!

[* read this super helpful article by Dulux about different 'sheen' levels:]

Thursday, 20 August 2020

How's everyone doing in 2020? ☺

How's everyone doing in 2020? 

*Me looking pretty happy after some wider human contact last week*

Remember all the hype about the 'perfect vision' for 2020 before we hit the year running? 

I don't think 2020 turned out quite the way any of us hoped especially here in the UK

Firstly, the UK has been floating around in a little self-inflicted unclaimed bubble through 2019 and on into the 'new' year, due to be fully untethered from our nearest landmass - Europe -without a cohesive plan for when that happens (still under negotiation)

That was isolation number 1 

But hot on it's heels came isolation number 2 and it's a big worldwide affair - COVID

All those movies we've watched and said 'but remember it's not real life'? Right now it is 

'Plagues' of one kind or another are very much a part of real life. Extremes of being are the new normal. Yes humans are inherently adaptable (we have a strong survival instinct) but our increasingly planned and connected lives have suddenly come up against a bit of a wall, a big one

Instead of constantly forging ahead with conquering the planet will all of us finally understand that it really is past time we should be partners with it. It is surely time to stop and assess proactively rather than via damage control  

If there's one good thing to come out of all this it's just that - but I'm talking time to assess on a smaller, closer to home level

During lockdown we've been marooned with ourselves and those that live in our immediate space and that's been an enlightening thing. Time to appreciate what we have if we are lucky enough to have a place to call home. Time to look at the detail of our surroundings (the sky without vapour trails) and to rediscover our numbed senses whilst we assess 

There's been time for fear and what ifs too but also time to notice what is important to us on a basic human level 

We know this won't go away overnight and that there's no quickfire solution, but we are adapting and it's so good to appreciate the things we have perhaps taken for granted. To take time to stop and breathe (during lockdown fresher air without the traffic fumes). To make the most of what we have here and now

In 2020 more than ever home has very much become a tether point for each and every one of us who are fortunate enough to have a place to call home

We've realised we need contact and that we can still connect - albeit not with so many of those wonderful hugs or physical gestures (our smiles often remain covered out and about) - but through the technology we have created. It's been so wonderful to connect and share experiences of the past months with people across the globe. There's a sense of wonderment and gratitude over the smallest human contact that is heartwarming

Outside my own sphere of home, I have missed the wider contact with the Design community that usually comes with the gatherings at design fairs throughout the year. The recent Designscape was an enlivening breath of fresh air  - an online platform to meet and connect and share experiences with a view to the future and what that holds

Let's keep connecting in whatever way we can - a little *humanity can go a long way

*noun, plural hu·man·i·ties.

all human beings collectively; the human race; humankind

the quality or condition of being human; human nature

the quality of being humane; kindness; benevolence

Monday, 21 October 2019

2019 project by the sea

 Recent Project in Selsey

Such a fantastic *review* today from some lovely clients in Selsey Bill.

Their project involved a rethink of their main living space. Roz and Angus had restored the beautiful original 1920s parquet floor and wanted a smart new look to match.

Having not touched the room (apart from the floor) for 20 years or so, they didn't know where to start but knew they wanted a cosy and comfortable living room with a nod to the Art Deco which they love. (Poirot is a favourite for its incredible interiors with their sense of history and fun).

The living room had to appeal to Roz and Angus whilst also catering for grandchildren.

In line with the brief I put together some design boards and ideas and so it began.

Roz and Angus will be adding to this beautiful room by the sea over time but I am so glad that I have helped on this journey to provide a living space for all the family in their home by the sea.

The colour palette draws the outside in whilst providing warmth to the sizeable room. 
A stunning Cole & Son wallpaper nods to the Art Deco my clients love, without being too prevalent in the room.
We added bespoke soft furnishings in the coordinating Cole & Son fabric to complete the picture.

My clients have added super-comfortable Fizroy armchairs (as per my design boards) from the recent Collection 150 by Parker Knoll. They are just perfect for this space with their complementary Art Deco style prints.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Looking forward to 2020

Looking forward to 2020

With all the doom and gloom and craziness both UK and world-wide, this time of year should be a time of escape for me. London has been calling last month and this with Design Week/s and all of its/their wonderfulness. 

However, another year of truly bad health finds me recuperating at home and unable to attend 😒
That, however, is NOT going to damp my spirits since I can and will take the time to re-group my design mind and live vicariously through the posts of other design geeks out there 😊 When I'm back on form, my goodness will I be raring to go!

So, here goes. What have I missed? What am I missing:

London Design Week, in absentia -


FOCUS AT CHELSEA HARBOUR (September 15th-20th) -

Alongside luxurious brands there were prolific talks and demonstrations to pique your designer interest.
Focus is a good opportunity to catch up with suppliers and pick up ideas and samples for current and future projects.
This year was no exception with new Showrooms on the block such as Cotswold-based David Hunt Lighting and a pop-up by the truly inspiring Tollgard Design Group 

I always love this as it's small and contained, with places (with coffee) to just sit and mull and take it all in.


(If you ever have the opportunity to hear Staffan and Monique Tollgard (or either) talk design then go. Their wealth of experience and stunning creative talent is always apparent in the way they talk about design, from how to set up a design business to what makes them tick on a creative level. Always generous with their advice).



UK and global brands in an Uber-cool setting. What's not to love? 

The Italian Loft featured this year with 20 brands from across Italy represented.


DECOREX (October 6-9th) -


So Decorex had a new home this year which I'm sure was a welcome relief to those who, in past years, have had to factor in crazy travel time on top of crazy travel time.


Olympia hosted this year and it will be interesting to see what the take on this was. I'm already excited to attend next year at the same venue.

Seminars for 2019 looked up to par with past years and included 'Commissioning Bespoke Items' with the panel including the inimitable Beata Heuman - a topic I love as I am asked more and more to design bespoke furniture for my lovely clients; a way of making a home uniquely theirs 
(Bespoke Furniture Design EPI)



I'm a big fan of this (fairly) recently re-vamped area of London which is perfect for this event with Coal Drops Yard at its hub.

Lots of cool pop ups and talks including Elle Decoration's pop up cafe, Clippings-sponsored series of talks at Everyman Cinema (Britain Can (Still) Make It Matthew Hilton: furniture and product designer; Richard Blackwell:
Executive Director, Bisley - discussing the future of British Manufacturing / Wellness In The Workplace - Is It Anything More Than A Passing Fad? Mark Eltringham: Founder of Workplace Insight; Rosamund Pomeroy: Workplace Scientist and Co-Founder of brainybirdz; Sevil Peach: Interior Architect; Michelle Wilkie: Director of TP Bennett).

LDF 2020

So that just scratched the surface. Roll on 2020!

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Thursday, 27 April 2017

How to find Interiors Inspiration and channel it

Emma Painter Interiors

Inspiration can elude you just when you need it, particularly after months of exhausting building work during which you've pretty much lost the will to live. 

You start out with a clear idea of how you would like your home to look, how you would like your home to feel (just like that picture in a magazine you saw) but the grim reality of a muddy building site is guaranteed to send those images back into the realm of 'unobtainable'.

Stalling for time whilst you put together paint colours for the decorator or, before this, bathroom item final choices for the plumber and tiler, delays your build and costs money.

So, when you are stuck for inspiration what do you do to kickstart it again so that you don't keep the builders waiting? 

Here is a helpful how-to-find-it-again guide and, more importantly, how to channel it:

  • Focus - Write a list of what you need so that you can target your inspiration search.This will focus your mind and stop it flying about aimlessly when you have too many things to think about.

Imagine - In a word 'Pinterest'. This is a great place to start and to find inspiration. Set yourself up with an account and target images for each board (for eg. kitchen). Then look at your boards and ditch any maybes, just sticking with definites. 
Analyse why you like these particular images. 
For each room board also pin photographs of your actual room. Even in its unfinished state you will begin to imagine it as finished amongst all the other finished room images. 

Emma Painter Interiors
  • Search - Flip through magazines, anything and everything, to find home images you like or even pictures of things you like. Why do you like them? Why do they make you smile? Draw out items, colours and ideas from them -  could they be used in your home?
  • The 'Look' - Remind yourself of how you want your home to look and your likes and dislikes - colours, textures, patterns. Classic, contemporary, timeless. Do you want your home to be cosy, light-filled? Then choose things that fit in with this.

  • The 'Feel' - How do you want to feel when you're in your home? Snug, on trend, exciting, relaxing? Again, choose things that fit in with this feeling. Neutrals for calm. Splashes of colour for excitement.

  • Be practical - If you are choosing floor tiles for a bathroom then make sure you only look at bathroom floor tiles. ie. choose something 'fit for purpose' - a slippery floor in a bathroom is not a good idea.

Mosaic del Sur

  • Other homes - Think about people you know and the homes they live in. What do you (or don't you) like about their kitchen tiles for instance? Thinking in this way can channel your thoughts in the right direction.

Chelsea Design Harbour
Out and about - Visit shows (Grand Designs, The Ideal Home Show, London Design Week etc.) and showrooms - nothing beats actually spending a day looking  up close and touching tiles, finishes and fabrics; seeing room sets; getting ideas. 
Re-spark your interest. 
If you are able (depending on work commitments) aim for a weekday if you can to avoid the crowds. If not, allow for regular coffee breaks to assess and prevent inspiration overload. 
Ask if you can take photos of things you like and then when you are home compile a page of things you like to help guide your choices. 
If you are really time-short, take a list of requirements and measurements with you so that you don't get distracted. 
For example - I need a neutral wall tile for the utility room. 
Stick to it.

  • Putting it together - lay out any images, samples and items you love at home (even a mug or cushion) and ask yourself if they work together...or not? Do they achieve the look you want...or not?

    • Say yes - If you are offered help then take it. Have a decisive friend who knows you well? Then take them shopping with you. Don't be afraid to ask where something is from if you like it.
    • Time out - If you can, take a break. Keeping at something when you're just exhausted or not feeling it can be counter-productive. Deliberately hide samples etc. and forget about it all for a day. You will come back refreshed.

    First Aid - If you are really struggling and don't have time, call in the experts. 
    The money you pay for them to take the strain will be well worth it.

    • And finally - Remember that inspiration can come from anywhere. 
    • A day out, a film, a dress fabric, a notebook cover, wrapping paper......

    • Keep your eyes open and file images so that you can channel them for inspiration as required.

    Wednesday, 25 January 2017


    The icing on the cake at the start of 2017 is a 

    Best of Houzz Award for Customer Service

    Many thanks to all of my wonderful Clients and to Houzz itself, for being a constant source of inspiration.

    It's always a treat to look back at favourite projects from the past year and 2016 was no exception for Emma Painter Interiors
    From design advice to schemes to soft furnishings it's always a pleasure to see projects come to fruition. 
    Whatever size the client's project, that moment where everything comes together after lots of planning, discussions and decisions, is a delight.  

    Over the next few weeks I'll be sharing with you a round-up of Emma Painter Interiors' Projects 2016 starting with:

    No.1 - Master Bedroom and Bathroom Loft Conversion, 1960s home, Hampshire:

    This lovely lady called me in to help create an identity for the interior of her new home (a 1960s house) with her partner, after undertaking a loft conversion with a new Master Bedroom and en-suite Bathroom. The work was also to include refurbishing the entire house.
    My client knew that she liked 'ice-cream colours' and that she wanted to carry her 'look' throughout the house to make it feel spacious and inviting but, being a detail person, she was finding it hard to move forward and pinpoint exactly how to do this.

    My work for her (ongoing) has included Design Advice Sessions / Room Schemes / Shopping Lists of furniture, fittings and accessories to fit within the schemes / Flooring suggestions and samples (carpet, tiles, other) / Wall finishes (including tile suggestions and samples) / Paint Schemes (including an accompanying Shopping List, samples, instructions and schedule) / Bespoke Soft Furnishings (including fabric samples,Estimates and headboard design) to be installed by Emma Painter Interiors within the next  few months.



    Here is another Room Scheme put together for the downstairs Cloakroom/Shower Room which coincidentally perfectly channels this year's #Pantonecolouroftheyear #Greenery:



    Designing in a time of Covid

    Well it's 2021 We should feel refreshed after the Christmas 'break' - right? Hmm Acceptance Yes you saw right - acceptance This ...