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interior design

Book Review: Mad About the House by Kate Watson-Smyth

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell

With a big move coming up I was more than delighted when a review copy of Mad About The House by Kate Watson-Smyth arrived. With over 15 years writing about interiors there’s not much journalist Watson-Smyth doesn’t know about putting together a great interior. It’s a complete, how to on defining your own unique interior style to make your home work for you. Between the covers there a mine of practical good sense tips as well as advice on how to bring that extra edge of wow to your interiors.

Though I’m a designer, stylist and have forever been involved in interiors it certainly doesn’t mean I‘m not still hungry for new ways to make a house into a stylish home. Rest assured this is not glossy coffee table book packed with out of budget fashionable interior images. It’s rather more a work book, future proofed with drawings and carefully chosen photographs, coupled with good solid classic interiors advice to guide you towards defining your interior style.

The book is divided into three sections, the first leads you through the minefield of finding inspiration on the way to defining your style, which includes invaluable information on using colour. To guarantee the success of your interior projects the middle section contains a chapter on every room in the house, each covers details specific to the function of the room, along with lighting, storage and furniture. The crowning glory is found in the last section where Watson-Smyth gives the low down on top design hacks gleaned over her many years of experience.

Creating a stylish home to feel proud of doesn’t necessarily mean splashing the cash and expending eye wateringly large sums of money. This book is there to guide you through sometimes difficult style and decorating dilemmas. It helps you target the look you want to achieve in your home to reflect your own personal style while spending your budget wisely.

Mad About The House by Kate Watson-Smyth is published by Pavilion.

Here is another book review you might like, go take a look: Book Review - Making Winter: A Creative Guide for Surviving the Winter Months by Emma Mitchell

Easy, DIY Roman Blind

CraftsAmanda Russell

I couldn’t resist this print fabric and a roman blind is the perfect canvas for showing off the mid century design. Below I show you how to design and make your own really simple roman blind, lets do it right now!

You will need:

  • Pre-corded Roman Blind kit, I used one from John Lewis

  • Pins, needles, thread

  • Dressmaking scissors

  • Fabric, I used Villa Nova fabric

Measure the width and drop of your window for finished blind size. Add 1.5cm to the both sides and 6cm to the length, then cut out the fabric.

Wrong side up turn in the sides, fold the fabric over by 0.5cm and then a further 1cm, pin in place and sew down.

Take the loop tape off the head rail, turn the top of the blind over by 1cm, then pin the loop tape in place 0.5cm below the turn. Sew the loop tape in place along both edges.

To make the pocket for the bar on the lower edge fold the fabric up by 0.5cm then again by 4cm, sew in place.

To find the positions for the rod channels measure the length of the blind then divide into 6. Mark positions for the rod tape on the reverse of the blind, draw a light line from one side to the other.

To calculate the length of the channel tapes add 2cm to the width of the blind measurement then cut the channel tapes. Turn the side of the channel tape in by 1cm then using the lines you drew on the blind sew in position leaving one end of the channel open.

Cut the rods 2cm shorter than the width of the blind, insert into the channel through the opening. Turn in the tape by 1cm then close the opening by sewing onto the side of the blind, repeat for each rod.

Once you’ve made your Roman blind install it following your kit instructions, I used a pre-corded kit from John Lewis.

If you like this post check out my post on Quick Revamp for Drop-in Seat Chair

How to make Mattisse inspired wall art

CraftsAmanda Russell

Create a bold Matisse inspired fabric wall art. Use simple motifs to make an impactful piece of wall art.

You Will Need

  • Canvas, £8, Hobbycraft
  • Tracing paper
  • Bondaweb £3.90 Akaban
  • Fabric scraps
  • Stapler
  • Pencil, paper and tracing paper
  • Command Strips from £2.70 B&Q


  1. Place the canvas on a large piece of paper and draw around the edge of the canvas, add 10cm to each side.
  2. Draw your design on the paper and mark each colour. Using the tracing paper trace the shape for each colour.
  3. Iron paper backed Bondaweb to the reverse of fabric scraps. Cut out the shapes, then remove backing paper and iron to bond in position. Use a sewing machine to sew around the edge of the fabric shapes.
  4. Place the fabric image on the canvas and stretch the fabric over the edge, use the stapler to secure the fabric at the back.
  5. Hang on the wall using Command Strips


  • When stapling the fabric on start from the middle and work towards the outer edge so there are no creases in the fabric
If you liked this post why not read my post on making your own   Bang on Trend Super Easy Picture Shelf

If you liked this post why not read my post on making your own  Bang on Trend Super Easy Picture Shelf

Get Yourself an Asymetric Coffee Table

CraftsAmanda Russell

Have yourself an enviable conversation piece coffee table by transforming a very ordinary coffee table with a new asymmetrical top and a lick of paint.

You Will Need

  • Lisabo Tabe Ikea
  • 20mm MDF 
  • Black and Decker electric jig saw and drill
  • Paint 
  • Varnish
  • Wood filler 
  • Screws
  1. Using the jig saw cut the table top over hang off the table. Draw the shape of the new table top on the MDF. Cut out with the jigsaw. Sand the edges of the table and MDF.
  2. Paint the MDF table top blush and the legs graphite.
  3. Place the MDF table top on the table, drill through the new top into the old top then screw down.
  4. Fill screw holes with two part filler when dry sand and retouch paint.
  5. When dry paint the whole table with quick dry


  • This table gives lots of space for styling a table scape, I love the zingy saffron I chose. For a new look, change your styling accessories with the season.

If you like this post why not check out my post on Stamping your own Floral Lampshade

Unique Space Saving Ladder Plant Stand

CraftsAmanda Russell

Have you noticed the great plant invasion in every interior recently? They can take over all your surfaces so here's a project for a handy ladder plant stand that makes a gorgeous tired indoor garden. Use it to grow plants on as well as herbs for the kitchen. With bags of handy storage you can't help but make space for it in your life.

You will need:

  • Saw
  • Screws
  • Black and Decker drill and jig saw
  • Paintbrush
  • Dulux Matt Emulsion paint
  • Spirit level
  • Scrap wood selection for shelves and battens
  1. I used all my scrap wood for this project, a couple of old boards for the shelves and stripwood in a variety of dimensions for the supports. It was a very mixed bag of scraps so to start with I painted the ladder and all the wood with emulsion for a uniform colour.
  2. To make the ladder lean against the wall you need to adjust the back legs. Put up the ladder, then lean the back legs against a wall so they are perpendicular to the floor. Hold in position, this will raise the front legs off the floor. Measure the distance between the floor and the front legs. Measure and cut this amount off the back legs, now the ladder will hold its position against the wall.
  3. Next add battens on the back legs for shelf supports. Place the spirit level on the bottom step, then use a pencil to mark the position on the back legs. Measure the distance between the back legs, cut a batten from strip wood and screw in place. Repeat for the remaining steps.
  4. Measure for shelves then cut  wood to length. Screw each shelf in place on the step and batten. Touch up the ladder shelves with emulsion.


Emulsion paint is quick and easy to use, surfaces need minimal preparation, it gives great cover and the brushes are easy to wash clean.

If you liked this post check out my blog post on how to make a retro tiled coffee table 

Book Review - IN THE MOOD FOR COLOUR Perfect palettes for creative interiors by Hans Blomquist

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell

We’ve been stuck in a neutral colour rut for so long, how can I resist the lure of this book title In the Mood for Colour by Hans Blomquist, everyones all time favourite interior stylist, art director who recounts his story of colour, which is a major interest for me. To find all this rolled into one generous tome means well established books at the top of my extensive must have list have been bumped off in favour of this colourful newbie.

The book opens with A World Full of Colour, a lush mosaic of mainly polychrome images from around the world, its grid format is very familiar to Instagram users. It is then divided into chapters, Dark, Pale, Natural, Soft and Bold. Each chapter is layered with a visual feast of colour images illustrating ways to bring colour into interiors. Running through both text and images the constant message to remember is 'designed by nature' when using colour in interiors. In order to grow your confidence combining different hues, take note of  the many ways nature successfully combines colour. This is a personal account of his relationship with colour, his response to the different colours is engaging and effervescent particularly when he discusses how his mood responds to different combinations. 

The eclectic schemes illustrating ways to use colour are summed up with delightful names like Pistachio, Duck Egg and Faded Denim, hinting at a layered experience that engages all the senses. The double page spread, Rose, Powder, Petal, like a mood board, uses a variety of illustrations, paint, fabrics and flowers, with the main image demonstrating how to layer up with style and confidence. 

With its wealth of eye candy still lifes and dreamy compositions it’s an invaluable tool for anyone wanting to find ways to launch into the colour zone and on their way to creating confident colourful interiors. In the Mood for Colour is now my go to volume for inspiration. I’ve worked on many rewarding projects where colour has been pivotal. As lead colour expert on an innovative government research project, colour was used to show how environment affects children learning. Further projects have used colour to develop rooms for teanage cancer care as well as psychotherapists consulting rooms.

IN THE MOOD FOR COLOUR Perfect palettes for creative interiors

Hans Blomquist

Published by Ryland Peters & Small £19.99

If you like this post check out my post on 'The Flower Farmers Year' 

Spring Flower Living Wall: Kokedama Inspiration

Interior, Crafts, StylingAmanda Russell
Photo 08-01-2017, 09 23 19.jpg

Can't wait to get out and see what's growing in the garden but feeling a bit cold? Bring outside into the house with moss wrapped bulbs. When I'm styling I'm always trying new ways to bring life, colour and texture to the home.  These moss wrapped hanging Kokedama bulbs are great to bring a fresh twist.  Suspend them to  make a stunning interior living wall, move them around to create a  lush planty corner. Everyday beauty, mixing plants with vintage crockery and contemporary ideas. 

Lots of vintage contemporary ceramic finds for your home over at the shop, take a look. Happy hunting!

If you liked this post check out my post on working with contemporary and vintage