6 Reasons Why an Interior Designer Saves You Money

According to trend expert Li Edelkoort, our homes and the way we live in them are becoming increasingly important. The idea of the home as a haven away from the daily onslaught of modern life is more prominent than ever. We are more prone to entertaining at home and spending time at home than before. Most people feel that they are not able to afford a professional to help them make the most of their home. But what if I told you that a having an interior designer saves you money while creating a beautiful home environment?

All the pressures of beautiful homes in magazines, home tours on blogs and makeover shows on TV can make you feel that you lack in some way. Everyone has their strengths, and for an interior designer, that is being able to visualise a space and bring it to its full potential. Even if you do know how to put a colour scheme and textiles together and have a natural feel for the right layout, you can still benefit from having a trained eye assess your home.

how an interior designer saves you money

Before we go into how an interior designer saves you money, let’s first look at how a designer charges you for their services.

Let me start by saying that there are no hard and fast rules on this. While every country’s interior design governing body gives guidelines on reasonable rates, it doesn’t mean that designers have to apply them. Some celebrity designers may charge a fortune only to go to a client’s house and give a few ideas, but not all designers have quite reached that level of fame yet.

Most designers will work in one of four ways:

  • Hourly rate

If the project is quite small and requires a few minor adjustments and some technical drawings, your designer might charge you an hourly rate. This can range from R400ph – R1,200ph or more, depending on their level of skill and availability.

Why an interior designer saves you money

  • Project fee

When there is little or no procurement involved in a project, your designer might suggest a project fee related to a fixed scope. This might be something like layout and services drawings and specs for your kitchen and bathroom, and overseeing the installation or project management. The designer will then quote a flat rate for the work to be done. There is no real guideline on how much this should be, but it is usually related to how much time they think they will need to spend on getting it done.

  • Percentage of Project Cost

If the project involves a lot of procurement, then your designer will likely propose a percentage fee for purchases. There can be a lot of back-and-forths when it comes to choosing curtains and upholstery fabrics, paint and finishes, which means a lot of time spent. The designer gets a discount on most purchases (see notes below) and will charge you either the retail price plus a handling fee or the discounted price plus a handling fee. The exact details of this can be discussed on appointment.

  • A Smorgas Board of all of these

As I said, there are no hard and fast rules! Many designers prefer a combination of all of these: an initial fee for concept and design, a project cost fee for procurement and project management, and an hourly rate for anything that falls outside of the original scope. It is best to be very clear with your designer when you start the project, and also to have a clear contract that stipulates everything that forms part of the project. A clearly defined scope and fee structure will help to protect you both.

So now that you know how a designer will charge, let’s look at how an interior designer saves you money!

1) A designer can help you to avoid costly mistakes

You know that sinking feeling when that GORGEOUS sofa in the showroom arrives at home, and it can’t fit through the door? Or that imported carpet is laid down in the living room and what you thought is soft coral is actually bright orange? There you go. Avoid that sinking feeling with an interior designer that saves you money.

2) The Technical Details Get Taken Care of

A designer’s value is not only relevant to the furniture and its placement in a room. The correct electrical layout and plumbing positioning is also crucial in getting the most out of your home. A trained designer understands the technical jargon of the contractors on a job site. This makes them a valuable asset on your project. They will help you to think through the uses of the room to create the optimal layout for all components involved. That way you won’t have an extension cord to power a table lamp from the other side of the room!

how an interior designer saves you money

3) Discounted services and materials

One of the surest ways an interior designer saves you money is with a designer’s discount. This is a special rate that most specialist retailers of homeware, fabric, and related services offer to designers as an incentive to specify them on their projects. The discounts can range from 5 – 50%, depending on the retailer. Some designers do open invoicing. This is where they charge the client their discounted rate, plus a handling fee of between 8 – 13%. I go into more detail on that below. Designers can also be registered as contractors with hardware stores, enabling them to purchase building materials at a reduced rate.

So, by paying someone to help you source goods for your home, you actually pay less. Clever, isn’t it?

room makeover

4) The Latest and the Greatest

This might not seem like a cost-saving, but designers are regularly invited to trade-only product launches and events. This allows them to be at the forefront of new advances and technology in their field. Therefore, you won’t ever have something installed only to find that a better version is about to render yours obsolete next month.

how an interior designer saves you money

5) Time is – TOTALLY – money

Everyone wants more time and more money. The amount of time a designer can spend on a project is staggering. It can take days to put together a concept and a layout and do the detail design and technical drawings. Then they still have to find that perfect sofa, get the right fabrics, and try out different paint swatches. They also communicate with contractors and suppliers and spend their time with you to bring your vision to life. So, the interior designer saves you money and the time that you would have spent doing all of that.

6) Pre-Qualified Contractors

A designer is only as good as their last project, so it is in their best interest to only use contractors, tradesmen, and artisans that they trust. By allowing them to use and manage their own list of professionals you are set up for a beautiful result.

summer christmas tree

I hope that this has shed some light on the myth that interior designers are expensive. Your home is an investment. The right interior designer saves you money while helping you create a financial and lifestyle asset. Contact me here to find out more about our interior design services, whether for a single room or an entire home!

PS: the gorgeous feature image was taken at  Woodbender‘s new showroom in Strand. Just one of the many suppliers we LOVE to work with! g

How to Do The Tropical Trend for Grown-Ups

I love botanical prints and leafy greens – both on my plate and in my home. The tropical trend has been going for a while now, but I am a bit over the pink flamingoes, and banana-leaf scatters. That’s not all that this trend is about, however! Here’s my take on the Tropical Trend for Grown Ups, with a get-the-look shopping list and all!

Oversized with Velvety Coral

Kim Macumber Interiors via Cottage & Bungalow

This image screams gorgeous beaches and pina coladas! The large-scale wallpaper print is the hero of this room, with everything else carefully selected around it. The gold furniture and accents add a sophisticated touch to an otherwise light-hearted look, and the soft coral accessories contrast beautifully with the lush greenery.

PRO TIP: keep your floor finish in mind as well: sisal, coir and seagrass rugs add the perfect final touch to your tropical vibe.

Take It Literally

large leaves in vase on table

Turbulences Deco

Even if you have an otherwise minimalist or Scandi interior, add some large green leaves to celebrate the trend. Large banana and delicious monster leaves, as well as strelitzias, are on sale at most large retailers and florists now. So, even if you are not lucky enough to have them in the garden, you can still have them on the table. The amazing thing about leaves like these is that they last for months! Just make sure that you give them fresh water every week.

SIDE NOTE: see how the theme is subtly emphasised in the print on the wall? Clever, isn’t it!?

Go Blue

Decoholic

It may sound counterintuitive when you think of tropical green, but topaz offsets green stunningly! Use rich topaz paint on walls to support green prints, or in upholstery pieces and furniture. Topaz pops especially when set against white, so trim architectural features in white to get the most out of this colour.

Jotun

Another colour that gently mutes the deep green of the tropics is pale teal. This works especially well in a bedroom, creating a calming atmosphere conducive to rest and relaxation. Add subtle tropical touches with prints and plants, and keep the rest of the palette neutral with grey, olive and sandy colours.

Accessorize Boldly

Fashion for lunch

A tropical look is not only in printed flora; it is also represented by colour. Brilliant emerald green embodies the look, and should be used with reckless abandon! Create a statement with lush accessories in rich fabrics like velvet, set against a blank canvass. Choose gold accent pieces and keep the rest of the colours in the room to a minimum for maximum effect.

Get The Tropical Look With Some Local Shopping

SHOPPING TROPICAL LOOK FOR GROWN UPS

1. PARADISO RUG – HERTEX HAUS  //  2. SLUB TASSEL SCATTER – MRPHOME  //  3. OPEN WEAVE SEAGRASS BASKET – WEYLANDTS  //  4. HANGING ALOE KOKIDAMA – MRPHOME  //  5. INDIGI FRACTURE ARMCHAIR – ELEVEN PAST  //  6. VELVET PUNCH FABRIC IN BOLSHOI TURTLE – HOME FABRICS //  7. ALOHA IN MONSTER GREEN – GRALAN FABRICS  //  8. REGENCY VELVET CHAIR – MRHOME  //  ASHFORD TROPICS WALLPAPER – HERTEX

 

If you’re still unsure about how to put this look together for yourself, try our design service and let us do it for you!

7 playful interiors that don’t take themselves too seriously

When Did Interior Design Become Such A Serious Business? I remember a time when it was fun to move my room around. Or when I convinced my parents that I wanted to sponge-paint my room in bright azure (thanks mom and dad for the freedom!). I even painted a floral pattern on calico and used it to make a quilt for my bed. I loved design so much that I made a career out of it. But as it happens with these things, work took over, and deadlines and details killed the creativity. Interesting that. And it’s not just me, I know of many designers with the same dilemma. Where did it all go wrong then? When did interior design become so serious that we lost the joy and passion that drove us to become designers in the first place? This month, I want to focus on design that doesn’t take itself so seriously. Playful design, fun design – quirky and interesting interiors that have been put together with love. Because that’s ultimately what interior design is all about: the love of interior spaces.

Here are 8 playful interiors to inspire you to let go of the seriousness and have some fun with your home!

 

#1: The Den Bed

Domino 

This is any child’s dream – a bed and a den all in one! Not all playful interiors are for children, but this one is such a fantastic example of a space made with love and creativity in mind. Love the wallpaper on the side and the giraffe. Because everyone needs a giraffe 😉

 

#2: Tassels and Baubles and all things Cool

Design Hunter

A fabulously quirky house in Marrickville. How cool is the tassel and pom-pom curtain?!? Love the gallery wall as well. In a space that was designed with a clean, modern aesthetic, the splashes of pink create a happy and inviting wall.

#3: Mexitile

I know that Mexican-inspired tiles are hardly new, but if that is what you love, then I say go for it! These are tile stickers, but you could of course also paint, stencil or stamp your existing tiles to add personality and fun.

And while you’re at it, have some cake!

 

#4: The Curated Collection

Apartment Therapy

Lots of interesting things here: heavy textures in the carpets and scatters, candles, interesting sculptures and bright books and paintings. Looks like a great space to spend the day!

 

#5: Add Some Details

Apartment Therapy

LOVE this green bedside cabinet! See how they added some gold touches to the ceiling trim to make it tie in with the rest of the finishes in the room? And the bold combination of prints is awesome. What a vibrant and energetic room!

 

#6: Play Full Scale and Volume

Apartment Therapy

The mid-century architecture, super high ceilings and abundance of natural light softens the bright colours, large designs and bold patterns. The mismatched lights add a wonderfully playful element to the collection of prints.

 

#7: A Wall and A Horse

Rachel Whiting via Daily Mail

Another cool room working with a strong pattern, but this time on the walls. And a carousel horse. If you can get your hands on one, then you have to display it!

 

#8: Play With Paint

This is still one of our most popular projects. Create a fun and fabulous wall with syringes and paint – click here for the post!

I look forward to sharing some more playful projects and ideas with you – in the meantime, have a look at our fun DIY projects!

Happy Playing!

How to put together an interior design concept

One of the most significant challenges when starting a new interior project is getting the concept right. But where do you even start?! Use this handy step-by-step guide to put together a concept that looks good and works for your budget – without breaking a sweat!

Lets first look at what a concept is and why you need one.

An interior concept is the thought process or plan behind a room. Designers don’t just walk into a room and start throwing things around without a plan. There’s always something behind the look, and that is where your concept comes in.

A concept can be

a) a theme – tropical, ocean, stripes and florals

b) a look – vintage, period, midcentury, French, English cottage, minimalist, Scandinavian

c) a mood – laid-back, romantic, formal, playful

It could even be a combination of things, like a laid-back tropical vibe with mid-century touches 😉

Your concept will become your guide; it will help to create a cohesive design that works. You can of course also have a concept for your entire home, although I’ve never been able to stick to 1 thing throughout.

4 STEPS TO CREATING AN INTERIOR DESIGN CONCEPT

#1// What do you want?

Easier asked than answered, the first thing you have to determine is what you need the space to be. If it is a living room for example, how many seats do you need? What are your storage requirements? Are there any specific tasks or activities in the room like reading or gaming or movie night? Do you need a small coffee table or a large one? Do you need side tables and lamps? Whether you need new things or are reusing existing ones, list everything so that you can get a clear overview of the items required in the room.

#2// Be Inspired

Pinterest is a fantastic tool for grouping images. Don’t think about it too much, just pin anything that you like and pretty soon you’ll start to see a theme forming. Here’s my Pinterest board for a playroom that I’m the process of doing. I want to bring a travel vibe into the room, so I did a search for “travel inspired kids rooms” and started to pin away! The images gave me a great idea to do an oversized map on the wall and to use our old international currency as wall art. Love the globe-ideas too.

 

#3// Put things where you can see them together on a mood board.

Now that you have a few ideas it’s time to build a mood board. A mood board is a great way to get a visual of what a room will look like.  It doesn’t necessarily contain the actual items that you’re going to use, but it represents the look and feel of what you’re going to create. If you have things that you want to include, like an heirloom rug or vintage sofa, take pictures of it and include it on your board. You can also find images of new items that you like. Here’s a mood board that I put together for the playroom. Some things are existing, and others are ideas for new things that I think could work. You can either do it old-school with actual images and card stock or a pin board, or you can create a virtual one with an app like Roomstyler or software like Photoshop.

The great thing about using a mood board is that you will be able to start getting an idea of what the room will look like. Even if it’s not the actual items, at least you’ll see colours, textures, and combinations. You’ll also quickly see what is NOT going to work, so don’t skip this step! The other advantage is that you can source an image as inspiration from anywhere, even if you can’t afford it, and then look for something similar that fits into your budget. Save the image on your phone or take a picture of your mood board so that you can carry a copy with you and use for reference.

#4// THEN, start putting together the actual items.

The mood board serves as a roadmap for the design while a layout gives you guidelines for sizes and shapes of items. Whenever you want to buy something, put it next to the mood board and see if it’s going to work with the concept that you’ve created.

But before you buy anything, you’ll need to create a layout! A layout is essential as it will show you what you will be able to achieve in the space, without having to move heavy and bulky furniture items around. I’ll cover layout in a follow-up post, so make sure that you subscribe so you don’t miss it.

My playroom makeover is a project that I’ve been working on for a while, so I am really excited to share the big reveal with you in the coming weeks. I hope that this post has given you some insight into how designers do it and that you will start to build your home’s concepts with creative confidence.

Happy conceptualising!

Taking a long hard look at curtain hardware

Window dressing can make a massive impact on a home: it frames the windows and adds softness, colour, texture and pattern to a room. But window dressing does not only consist of curtains: the curtain poles have a huge impact on the overall look as well. There is a large variety of curtain poles, tracks and finials available and knowing what to choose, can be a daunting task. Let’s break curtain hardware down for you!

curtain hardware basics

Twofold Interiors

Poles

Curtain poles are perfect for both formal and informal rooms. They can be used with rings or with eyelet curtains that slide directly onto the pole. Curtain pole thicknesses vary from 16mm all the way to 93mm so that you can create a variety of looks.

Finishes include brass, chrome, pewter, dark and light woods, solid painted colours, beaten copper and cast iron.

curtain rail basics

You also get clip-on poles that look like a pole, but that has a track installed behind it. This is great when you want to use curtains without rings. The Alumina range by Finishing Touches has a track integrated into the pole itself, making it even simpler.

Finials

Finials are the bits that you fit onto the end of a curtain pole. Finial styles are practically endless: metals, glass, acrylic, wood. And they are fashioned into all kinds of designs and shapes to suit different styles of décor.

curtain rail basics

Brackets

A curtain pole will usually have a matching bracket, so there isn’t much to worry about here. If however, you want to hang a double layer of window dressing, like a sheer and a dress curtain, then you will need to choose your curtain pole based on the bracket.

There are lightweight cup brackets for 16mm poles, up to heavy-duty brackets for the thicker poles. For poles longer than 1.2m or heavy curtains like those with blackout lining, you will need to install a central bracket as well to prevent the pole from sagging. Ask your sales assistant to suggest the most appropriate one for your needs.

Also, consider whether your curtain pole will be installed on a back or a side wall. Not all poles have the option of end brackets, so if you require them, you will have to choose your bracket first.

Pelmet Pole

providence cottage

I have written about pelmet poles before, but they really are a great invention. It has the look of a wooden pelmet, with the functionality of a double track. They come in a variety of finishes to match the room.

Extendable & Telescopic Poles

curtain hardware basics

Fitted with spring-rods, these are perfect for when you have a bit of a space constraint and want to install a curtain inside the window recess. Extendable rods are perfect for non-standard window widths, and they don’t need to be cut down to fit.

curtain hardware basics

Serena & Lily

Happy Decorating!

This post is sponsored by Finishing Touches.

What is the best way to mix prints like a pro in your home?

When I think of mixing prints, I am reminded of the heyday of florals and stripes in the 90’s. Everything was pink, peach, and pale blue with touches of burgundy for a formal setting and splashes of soft turquoise to keep things light. Although terribly outdated now, this laid the foundation for many interior brands who kept building on that to bring you an abundance of patterns thrown together in a very structured but seemingly random way. I struggle to mix patterns in fashion – I have to have a particularly good self-esteem day to pull it off. But in interior design, I throw patterns together with reckless abandon! Here are 5 things to keep in mind when you want to mix prints like a pro in your home. Use it as a guide, and then throw all caution to the wind. Play a little this spring -what’s the worst that could happen?

1// seek inspiration

There are few places I go to for my patternal inspiration (yes, I just made up that word – but it works!).

  1. Missoni
Missoni Home Emme Collection

The mother and father of textile prints, this family-built design house is synonymous with mixing things up. I wrote about Madame Rosita Missoni’s talk at the Design Indaba Conference 2 years ago and was so inspired by this matriarch’s fierce passion for pattern. Here’s a designer that is truly fearless!

2. Laura Ashley

Laura Ashley Living Wall

I started my career with this amazing brand, and will forever love their homeware! They have been throwing together prints since post WWII, and doing so fabulously. Their online catalog has some serious pattern eye-candy! And while they are quite traditional, they do also have amazing contemporary ranges.

3. Anthropologie

Anthropologie Medina-printed Rivona Chair

It’s no secret that I have a huge design crush on Anthropologie. They have this way of doing a crazy mix of colour and prints and making it all work.

2// find a common thread

Voutsa for Anthropologie

Whether you choose a colour, a scale, a pattern, or a texture, as long as there is something tying everything together, it will work! Maybe everything has some botanical element in it, or there is a touch of blue in all of them. It could also be that you have a large painting, rug or wallpaper that is the unifying element in all of it.

3// play with layers

Liberty For Anthropologie Feather Bloom Shams

Start with an item and build from there: this will usually be a big piece, like a carpet, or curtains. Then gradually layer on top of that. A bedroom also offers ample opportunity to play with different layers of pattern. Use curtains, or a duvet cover or quilt, as the starting point. Then add a different print with pillows, followed by accessories like a throw or a scatter.

4// vary the scale

Anthropologie Edlyn Sofa

If everything is the same scale, things can get pretty hectic, pretty quickly. Have large patterns mixed with small patterns and dense prints with more spacious prints. White space or negative space is also very important here: there has to be some quiet in all the busyness to give your eyes a rest!

5// jump out of your comfort zone

Old Brand New

Unless you plan to redo all the walls with an imported wallpaper and have floor to ceiling curtains made, the risk in throwing prints together is actually quite small. There is no right or wrong: as with anything in your home, if you can live with it and it makes you happy, then it works! Buy a few cushions to start with, and see if they work together in your current living room. If they don’t, you can always take them back 😉

Happy decorating!

 

 

 

The modular sofa that will make you want to play with your furniture

Sofa shopping can really be a challenge: it’s too big, too small, not the right fabric, it’s just not flexible enough, or you just don’t know what you’re supposed to be looking out for. But then local design legend, Weylandts, came up with the Easy Living Modular Sofa that combines extreme quality and comfort with the ultimate flexibility. It’s one of those designs that you look at thinking: “Why are not all sofas designed like this?” It’s not often that I get excited about seating, but when I started to explore all the possibilities of these modular sofa units, I couldn’t help myself.

All 5 of the modular units in the range boast feather-filled cushions, 100% linen slip-covers in grey or white and gorgeous teeth-stitched detailing.

weylandts modular sofa

weylandts modular sofa

Putting together the different configurations is a bit like building a puzzle with multiple options. Determine how many bums on seats you need, pick your modules and start playing with your furniture!

Here are our top tips on what to consider when buying a sofa:

1// Weight

A sofa has to be heavy. If you can pick it up with one hand, that means that the frame has been made with lightweight materials which will not be durable in the long run. A heavy sofa means that the frame has been constructed using durable hardwoods. Even modular sofa units have to feel heavy when you try to lift them. If you can comfortably pick it up, it’s probably not a great frame.

2// Warranties

Any retailer should offer you a warranty on their product. Read their terms and conditions, but it will usually comprise 2 years and exclude reasonable wear & tear if the product was used in an appropriate environment. So, don’t buy domestic furniture and use it in a retail or commercial environment.

3// Upholstery

There are so many upholstery options out there that it can be difficult to know where to start. Natural fibers like linen, wool, bamboo or hemp are always a great option for their luxurious look and feel. To protect your upholstery, you can choose to have a professional application of a stain repellant coating. This kind of microscopic film on your furniture will ensure that it stays clean and looking like new. Leather is another great option that comes in a variety of colours and finishes to suit your home. If you take care of your leather furniture properly, it is sure to last you a lifetime.

4// Filling

Most sofas are made with foam on the seat and feather, foam or a combination of the 2 for the back cushions. Unless it’s an allergy issue, always go for feather. You can puff up feather cushions again and again where foam tends to compact after prolonged use and then have to be replaced. Feather is also incredibly comfortable.

Our Favourite Picks

Weylandts offers a fantastic selection of sofas to suit your home. Click here to have a look! Or have a look below at my favourite accessories from their range.

weylandts modular sofa

1… colourblock scatter camel  |  2… potted beacarnea |  3… ica vase – medium  |  4… handwoven throw natural blue  |  5… bone inlay stool  |  6… vedic leaf vase  |  7… basket patterned wire  |  8… 100% cotton duvet set  |  9… blue lily study scatter

 

Now, go and #playwithyourfurniture!

This post is sponsored by Weylandts.

 

Light Layers Of Window Dressing for a Small Cottage

A light-filled home is on most people’s priority list. Because let’s be honest, those amazing interiors that you covet on Instagram and Pinterest are never of dull, lifeless and dark rooms. But what to do then if you live in a place where it gets inappropriately hot in summer but you have beautifully light-filled rooms? I was faced with this conundrum recently while redoing the cottage that we have on the farm. The bedroom windows face both west and north, the open-plan living/dining room and kitchen have windows facing south, west and north. This provides for ample light but little in the way of reducing heat gain in the summer. Here is what I came up with to dress the windows of this small space with the help of Finishing Touches.

1// LAYERING

providence cottage

Especially for a guest bedroom, layering window dressings give the occupant ultimate control over the amount of light allowed into the room. Have blackout curtains on a separate track to dress curtains so that they have the option of completely blocking out the light, or just diffusing it. Using 105mm Fluted Designer Pelmet Poles gives you the option of having 2 layers of curtains with a wooden pelmet fitted to the front for a slick finished look.

2// BLINDS

providence cottage

Blinds are such a fantastic way to regulate both sunlight and heat gain in a room. By tilting a blind upwards, you allow the sun’s rays and heat into the room. By tilting down, you create a shadow which still allows light in without the heat. It’s basically the difference sitting under an umbrella versus not sitting under one. I chose white aluminium Venetian blinds in the living areas to blend with the walls. Darker blinds in the bedroom further aid blocking the light when they’re closed. The blinds are doing such a fantastic job in the bedroom, complemented by simple eyelet curtains on understated 35mm Designer Range wood poles.

 

3// KEEP THE FABRICS LIGHT IN THE LIVING AREAS

providence cottage

Heavy drapes are great for large rooms, but when it comes to smaller spaces it’s best to stick to lightweight fabrics. These faux silk curtains are light and airy while sufficiently diffusing the light when they’re drawn. For more on how to choose fabrics for a room, click here!

4// ADD A TOUCH OF GLAM WITH 20mm

providence cottage

Curtains can work at a variety of lengths, depending on your needs:

  • make them 20mm shorter than floor height to simplify cleaning underneath (this is my least favourite)
  • keep at floor level (standard)
  • make them 20mm longer so that they “sit” on the floor

By making them longer, it puffs up the curtain and makes it look much more elegant. Adding a darker border to each curtain will hide any dirt that may get on them at the bottom.

5// DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE BATHROOM

A small white aluminium Venetian blind ensures privacy in the bathroom while allowing for enough natural light to enter the room. Make sure that the window is always slightly open to prevent moisture from damaging the blind in the long run.

Happy Decorating!

All of the curtain accessories and blinds in the cottage were graciously sponsored by Finishing Touches.

 

Know your synthetics from your naturals: a quick guide to curtain fabrics

The durability of materials is always a consideration when you are furnishing a guest cottage or guest room. And when you start looking at rub-counts and coatings, things can get pretty overwhelming. Here’s a quick to curtain fabrics so that you can make an informed choice when it comes to your window dressing.

Natural Curtain Fabrics

Cotton

A natural and sensible choice, cotton is lightweight, durable and inexpensive. A thicker fabric will last longer, especially if your window is getting a lot of direct sunlight. Adding lining will make sure that light is being blocked effectively, and will also improve the fade resistance and longevity of the fabric. Cotton comes in a vast variety of prints and colours, so you really are spoilt for choice.

  • Pros: Available as both tighter and looser weaves to accommodate the required level of light
  • Cons: tends to fade in strong sunlight

Linen

curtain fabric

Style Lovely

A firm favourite, I use linen as much as possible. It is heavy so it hangs really well, and linen sheers have the most magical quality when hung in front in French doors, softly blowing in the breeze. While more expensive than cotton, it is a natural fiber that has great durability and a beautiful course texture.

  • Pros: Hangs extremely well and suitable to both formal and informal rooms.
  • Cons: Dry clean only and wrinkles easily

Silk

This is Glamorous via Flickr

Another gorgeous natural option, silk curtains are typically expensive and suitable to a more luxurious setting. Their airy, billowy fabric drapes well, especially when the curtains are made longer to puff up on the floor.

  • Pros: Extremely luxurious and stylish
  • Cons: The fabric will naturally degrade over time, especially when exposed to harsh sunlight. Silk is dry clean only.

Velvet

Cocon Decoration

While traditionally being made from silk, modern velvets are made from cotton or even wool to make it more affordable. A beautifully lush and thick fabric, velvet drapes beautifully and is perfect for formal rooms. Because of its thickness, velvet curtains have superior sound, light, and heat insulation properties making it perfect for bedrooms.

  • Pros: Great insulation properties
  • Cons: Velvet curtains tend to be very heavy. This fabric is dry clean only.

Synthetic Curtain Fabrics

Faux Silk

Curtains to Go

While it looks like the real deal, faux silk has improved durability and colour fastness.  These curtains drape equally as well as well as their natural counterpart and retain that shimmer that you want from a silk curtain.

  • Pros: affordable and machine washable
  • Cons: these curtains can sometimes look too shiny, which takes them from looking stylish to looking cheap. Rather choose silk curtains with a slight slub to avoid this.

Faux Linen

SF Girl by Bay

Another great alternative, synthetic linens has the lovely texture of linen without improved crease resistance.

  • Pros: Affordable and comes in tighter and looser weave for light control. Machine washable.
  • Cons: This fabric sometimes tends to pill.

Inspired By Charm

Polyester

Not pretending to be anything other than what it is, poly curtains come in a massive range of prints, colours and textures. It drapes well, is resistant to fading, stretching, wrinkling, and shrinking. It can be washed in the machine and is affordable as well. A lot of fabrics are being made by combining natural fibers with polyester, thereby marrying the best qualities of both and making it more affordable.

  • Pros: It’s virtually indestructible. Except for 1 thing (see cons)
  • Cons: Polyester is basically a type of plastic, so it is highly flammable, doesn’t breathe well and tends to retain odours.

  1. Multicoloured Paisley Print linen Curtain  |  2. Suede Eyelet Charcoal  |  3. Striped Lined Eyelet Curtain  |  4. Melange Slub Taped Self Lined Curtain  | 5. Iris Print Linen Curtain  | 6. Floral Print Cotton Curtain  |  7. Anna Duck Egg  |  8. Diana Multi  |  9.  Textured Karoo Eyelet Curtain  |  10. Floral Taped Curtain  |  11. Large Floral Print Linen Curtain  |  12. Longer Eyelet Sheer Curtain

While I tend to think that natural fibers are generally superior to synthetic fibers, you have to consider the level of care you are willing to offer your window dressings. If I have to take the curtains down to be dry cleaned every time after we have a guest in the cottage, it’s going to become a complete drag and stupidly expensive. I also don’t want to be ironing curtains (when was the last time you ironed a curtain? It’s a huge job!) so for me, poly and poly-mix fabrics are going to win hands down in guest accommodation.

A curtain doesn’t hang by itself though, so here is a roundup of the best curtain poles and tracks from Finishing Touches. For a reference guide on curtain headings, click here!

  1. Designer Pelmet Pole Range  |  2. Elements Range  |  3.  Half Round Double Track   |  4. Classic Wood Range  5. Designer Wood Range  |  6. Galaxy Range

Let me know what you have in your guest room – I’d love to know!

Happy Hosting!

This post is sponsored by Finishing Touches.

Feature image: Homes To Love

The Easiest Wallpaper Installation DIY EVER!

I love wallpaper. It has the ability to completely change the look of a room with fairly little effort. But installation can be quite messy since you need to apply the wallpaper paste to the back of the paper and let it soak for a bit before applying. So, when my Photowall wallpaper arrived and I quickly peeked at the instructions (I don’t HAVE to read it, because I KNOW how to install wallpaper, but I just had to make sure), I was totally blown away by a simple change in application method that made the world of difference! This was by far the easiest wallpaper installation I have ever done!

LockDown Nesting – it’s a real thing!

Like a lot of people, spending day after day in my home during lockdown has made my DIY fingers itch. So far, I have turned the playroom into a home school room, made a new vegetable patch… oh, and revamped the kitchen. But that was a completely unintended DIY. More about that later. Photowall contacted me BC (Before Corona – remember those days??) to ask if I would like to try out their wallpaper, but the lockdown prevented delivery for a couple of months.

So, when the boxes arrived a couple of weeks ago, I was more than excited to get going on a new project. Their range of available papers is truly astounding: there are thousands of prints and murals, ranging from subtle and safe to bold and brave. They even create custom prints from your own photographs. I enlisted the help of my bestie, sister, and my husband, and eventually decided on a busy tropical print in grey, green, and a dusty coral.

Photowall calculates the necessary quantity based on your wall’s dimensions, so I just had to measure the width and height and they did the rest. I also ordered the assembly kit which came in very useful during installation.

Why This is The Easiest Wallpaper Installation Ever

wallpaper installation DIY

So here is the revolutionary change in installation method: You apply the wallpaper paste to the WALL instead of to the PAPER 🤯. I know, it sounds so obvious, but this made a massive difference in installation time. The other thing that really simplifies the process, is that Photowall clearly indicates where you have to cut the paper. This makes getting the pattern repeat correct, a breeze – plus it minimizes wastage.

See below for a full video tutorial of TRADITIONAL wallpaper installation.

How to install Photowall Wallpaper

photowall wallpaper installation kit

Difficulty: mildly challenging

Time: 2 hours – depending on the size of your wall, of course!

You will need:

  • wallpaper from Photowall
  • wallpaper paste (this is included with the wallpaper)
  • wallpaper brush
  • craft knife
  • wet cloth
  • drop sheet
  • straight edge
  • spirit level
  • pencil

* You can get all the tools you need in the very convenient Wallpaper Installation Kit 😉

Step 1:

Make sure that your walls are clean and that any holes have been filled after you’ve removed fixings. Then you’ll need to determine how straight your walls are (most aren’t). Starting with the left side of the wall, use a straight edge (or long ruler) and the spirit level included in the tool kit, and draw a line one wallpaper-width from the edge (45cm in my case). Now measure from this line back to the corner in several places. This will help you see where there are any discrepancies. As long as nowhere is wider than the width of the paper, you’re good to go! If it is, move that line slightly closer to the corner.

Step 2:

Mix the wallpaper paste according to the instructions on the packet.

Step 3:

Paint the wall with the wallpaper paste using the supplied brush, a couple of panel widths at a time.

Step 4:

Cut the panels according to the guide printed on the paper and stick them to the wall.

Step 5:

Smooth out any bubbles with the paper hanging brush.

Step 6:

Smooth out join lines with the little seam roller.

Step 7:

  Trim away the excess paper at the top and bottom using the cutting guide and trimming knife. Repeat step 3 – 7 until all the panels are installed, carefully matching up the pattern as you go.

Step 8:

easiest wallpaper application

Stand back and admire your work!

Top Tip 1:

Start by installing the second panel (all panels are marked) along the right-hand edge of the pencil line. It’s super important to get this first panel completely straight in order to keep it the easiest wallpaper installation on the rest of the wall. Then work your way back to the first panel, cutting away any excess paper in the corner. 

Top Tip 2:

Carefully cut around any light switches and plug points, and ensure that you smooth down the paper around it afterward. It really is as easy as paint, cut and stick. I did an entire 5m wide by 3m high wall in less than 2 hours, including trimming the paper. By far the fastest revamp I’ve ever done!

easy wallpaper

The installation kit of course helps – the paper cutting guide works a charm, and the brush easily works out any bubbles. My wall was quite big and had a door and some plug points as well, so when the cutting tool lost its sharp edge, I used my good old Stanley knife to finish the job.

super cute wallpaper seam roller

Another handy little tool in the box is the seam roller. I’ve never used one of them before but now I can’t imagine installing wallpaper without it! My wall is completely seamless thanks to this little guy.

Can patterns actually make a room look bigger?

The interesting thing is that my kids walked in and wanted to know how I made the room bigger! It really appears that way. Often we are scared to use busy patterns and darker colours in a space for fear of making it appear smaller. This just goes to show that deep colours and smaller patterns can have quite the opposite effect.

More on that here!

Please remember to use your 25% discount code when you place your order with Photowall (valid until        ).

photowall discount voucher

Happy Lockdown Decorating!