Month: March 2014

The 1960s was all about cultural change and rebellion, this was true in all aspects of life including pop music, fashion and design. Historical influences were rejected by many new modernist designers who adopted new ways of thinking, they looked forward rather than backwards and the results are still extremely distinctive, half a century later. Continue Reading

Cheers – the bar stools and the chairs

We’ll start things off with perhaps a less obvious choice. The American sitcom Cheers suffered poor ratings when it first started out in 1982 – which almost resulted in it being cancelled during the first season – but it soon quite rightly became highly popular and it survived, running for 11 seasons until 1993. It starred a number of well-known American actors including Ted Danson, Shelley Long and Rhea Perlman, and it also launched the career of then-unknown Woody Harrelson, who went on to become quite a star – starring most recently in the 2014 HBO series True Detective alongside Matthew McConaughey.

Continue Reading

Interior design has become one of those ‘buzz words’. We talk about it a lot, we all want a home that has wonderful interior design and we have all seen the numerous interior design daytime television programmes that seem to be on every channel.

But when did our interest in interior design start? Where did it all come from and just what does ‘interior design’ actually mean?!

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In fact, it all began with early man in the prehistoric period, before the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans started a trend for religious artefacts as decoration. The Industrial Revolution meant that the middle classes were able to afford the trappings of wealth and interior design before it became affordable enough for everyone in the late 19th century onwards.

There’s a lot to take in but we try to get to the bottom of it all in this blog!

What is interior design?

Interior design is (according to Wikipedia):

“a group of various yet related projects that involve turning an interior space into an “effective setting for the range of human activities” that are to take place there”

Throughout history, interiors were put together as an instinctive process during construction. Interior design as we know it has come about through society’s development and the increase and advances of technology which have added to our architecture.

Interior design as we know it today – ‘use of space’, ‘ambience’, ‘functionality’ and ‘user well being’ – has come from interior design as a profession, and marketing buzz words that are used to sell it as a product.

However, interior design as a human concept has been around for centuries – although we seriously doubt that the earliest adopters would have known what they were doing would become the industry that interior design is today!

In the beginning

It is a lot earlier than you would think that we first saw evidence of interior design.

In prehistoric times, early man began to build their own communities – they started to settle and live in caves, the earliest form of shelter / homes in evidence.

The caves were obviously very functional, however cave paintings have been found on the walls, dating back many thousands of years. As the SBID (Society of British Interior Design) point out on their blog this:

“…could lead us to believe that interior design and looking after our homes is actually a primal instinct as well as a sign of our intelligence.”

Over time, dwellings moved away from caves and became free standing shelters, similar to those that are still built and lived in by many tribes today. These basic huts were purely functional in design and build. They were / are normally constructed from materials that were easily found at the time – mud, animal skins, branches. The outside of the huts today are commonly decorated with tribal symbols and art. We have no way of knowing if ancient tribes did the same thing to decorate their shelters but if we take cave paintings as evidence it can probably be assumed that they did.

The Ancient influence

We know that Ancient Egyptians covered the walls of pyramids with intricate designs and hieroglyphics. They also adorned the insides of the pyramids with statues and ancient religious icons – with that in mind they could very well be some of the world’s earliest interior designers!

Interior design in Ancient Egypt was a way of both signifying wealth and pleasing their gods. They started the trend for ornate and beautiful interior design to signify / honour religion – something which played a huge role in interior design history and that still plays a part in today’s society.

Even less wealthy Ancient Egyptians decorated their homes to an extent using animal skins and painted vases.

Greeks and Romans

The Ancient Greeks and Romans invaded (and ‘won’) Egypt. They began to drastically change the architecture of the country’s cities to reflect their own tastes.

The slightly more civilised way of life under the Greeks and Romans meant that people were more willing (and less scared!) to show their tastes off through interior design. The Ancient Greeks loved showing off their huge, ornate and pillared buildings. They used beautiful vases, mosaic and fine artwork and paintings in their homes.

The Greek and Roman design styles led the way for the Byzantine era. Still very much religious in style, this period was noted for its lavish decorations.

Europe, the Renaissance and the Gothic era.

Distinctive and contrasting design styles began to appear all over Europe. The opulent beauty of the Italian Renaissance (tapestries, velvet and ornately carved furniture) sat alongside the figurative decoration and murals of the opposing Gothic architecture and design.

The interior decoration of many buildings, particularly large and important ones, was based around religion. Carvings and tapestries became popular and religious murals were painted onto walls. Beauty was combined with function.

It was around this time (the 1500s) that one of the most famous interior decoration jobs in the world was started…and completed four years later! Michelangelo’s painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

The grandeur of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries

Prior to this period, artistic and lavish interior design had been the realm of the wealthy and religious. The popular Baroque styles were exaggerated and dramatic, making use of chandeliers, and grand mirrors. The Regency period was an interpretation of Ancient Greek styles, emphasising classical design. Red was a hugely popular colour.

Interior design by outside companies began as well. An upholsterer or craftsman, employed by the wealthier upper classes would advise homeowners on the artistic style of their interior space. During the construction of buildings architects began to employ artisans to work on the interior design for their work.

The Industrial Revolution, however, brought about many changes in the interior design world. The middle classes began to prosper – with their new riches came new desire for the trappings of wealth, they wanted to show off their status.  Interior design was just one way they began to do this – it opened up to ‘the common people’.

Fashion magazines became readily available and, with the increasing accessibility of travel, interior design became influenced by a huge mixture of styles from all around the world.

With the growing popularity large furniture firms began to offer house furnishings in an array of styles. Upholsterers began to adapt their businesses and advertised their increasingly artistic furnishings to the general public.

Interior design work became more popular within the workplace. Upholsterers and furniture firms grew steadily in size, employing builders, plasterers, textile and furniture designers and artists to work on projects for hotels, public buildings and places of work.

These (now) large firms began to advertise, attracting the attention of the middle classes. They created and circulated catalogues and brochures, advertising the array of, often lavish, styles they offered.

The business model did extremely well from the middle of the century until the outbreak of World War I in 1914. Independent (and amateur) designers began to offer their own services. The early interior designers, paved the way for the era of the professional interior designer from the middle of the 20th century.

Large department stores began to spring up throughout the 19th century. Their increase in both number, size and popularity meant that shops began to vye for customers. One method to attract them was to furnish the spaces within the shop in different styles – a trick that modern department and furniture stores still use to great effect today.

Traditional furniture firms began to set up model rooms at national exhibitions for the public to look around. The higher quality companies began to take on a new role, advising the wealthy middle classes on interior styling. They even took on contracts to design, style and furnish the interiors of important British buildings.

Today’s craze for interior design

Slowly but surely designers began to come to the forefront, rather than being a ‘behind the scenes’ worker for a furniture or upholstery firm popular designers became famous faces in their own right.

As the world began to recover from the two great wars of the early twentieth century there became an increased need for ‘nice’, ‘pretty’ things and beauty as people began to return to prosperity.

After the First World War came the art deco, stylised patterns of the 1930s and during and, after the Second World War, suburban sprawl and increasing economy meant that more and more people had their homes, which they could decorate themselves. Post modernism, linked to fantasy and freedom, became popular and a revival of the more traditional designs came about, with modern twists on classical design trends.

Interior design became escapism and with that a new kind of television show hit the airwaves…

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TV and celebrities

The home makeover show became one of the most popular daytime television genres, starting with the broadcast of Changing Rooms in 1996. This led to a whole host of other programmes being commissioned – 60 Minute Makeover, DIY SOS, Extreme Makeover, The Great Interior Design Challenge and many more.

From the 1990s, interior design had became a hugely popular concept all over Britain, regardless of wealth. The makeover shows were aimed at getting people to ‘do it themselves’ and on a budget. Books and designer lines were released and interior design (and probably MDF sales) reached its peak. Along with the rise in popularity of the home makeover show, interior designers started to gain celebrity status.

Designers like Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, Linda Barker, Kelly Hoppen and Rachel Ashworth have become household names because of the public’s popularity and interest in interior design and home decor.

Due to their fame all of these interior designers have been able to pioneer popular trends and styles.

“My philosophy has always remained the same, it’s about creating calm, balanced environments based on Eastern cultures…”

Kelly Hoppen

Kelly Hoppen is well known for her love of neutral colour palettes in interior design as well as her appearances as a Dragon on Dragon’s Den. Interior designer to the stars – Madonna and Jennifer Lopez to name a few – Rachel Ashworth, made the mainsteam ‘shabby chic’ look as famous as it is today.

Since Changing Rooms and numerous other television appearances Laurence Llewelyn Bowen has become one of the most well known interior designers in the UK. He has made significant contribution to famous design projects around Britain, including at the Royal Albert Hall and inside Buckingham Palace. He has also written many best selling books about interior design.

The world of interior design today

We’re an eclectic bunch when it comes to interior design today. Old vintage styles are hugely popular but they are teamed with modern, minimalist features.

People aren’t afraid to experiment, to try mixing styles together from all the eras of the past in order to decorate their homes.

Bright, bold colours are teamed with neutral lines and the ever popular minimalistic look to create vibrant designs. Household furniture and design stores – ranging from Ikea to John Lewis and Selfridges – are still increasing in popularity and interior design has become something that everyone can take part in. Thanks to the wide variety of household decorations on offer – catering to all budgets – it’s no longer the sole realm of the wealthy upper classes.

The world of interior design is fast paced and ever changing. Trends are adapting both seasonally and annually now rather than over longer periods of time. This is due in no small part to the media and internet. Everything in the world – design ideas, cultures and innovations – is accessible to almost everyone now and that is playing a huge role in interior design influences and trends. Add to that the ‘cult of celebrity’ and the glossy magazine market which invites people into celebrity homes and it’s no wonder that everyone aspires to have the very best designs within their homes – whether they buy them or try to create them themselves.

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What do you think? Are you inspired by any historical periods in your interior design choices or do you prefer the more modern, minimalistic look?

 

Let us know in the comments!

 

One of the best – and cheapest – ways to get some serious inspiration and ideas for your furniture choices and your home’s interior design in general is quite simply to check out some of the well-respected design blogs – there are countless. You should, of course, also look into getting some interior design books, but do not underestimate the usefulness of blogs. They can be full of information, and what is even better – they are free! As with anything, though some are better than others. Here are some of the best ones we know of:

Furniture Fashion

They quite rightly pride themselves on being the ‘modern interior design blog’. Furniture Fashion is a fully comprehensive interior design blog, which is a great point of reference and equally useful for picking ideas when you are decorating or re-furnishing a room in your home. They have lots of blog posts for each major area of the house – bedrooms (including great ideas for kids’ bedrooms), kitchens, bathrooms and dining rooms. With advice on accessories, too, they leave no stone unturned. They also talk quite a lot about home offices, which is becoming increasingly relevant as more and more people are working from home nowadays. Furniture Fashion do not neglect outdoor furniture either – they have tons and tons of articles about decorating the garden and maximising your outdoor space.

Furniture Fashion

My Friend’s House

My Friend’s House is run and contributed to by two extremely clued-up ladies named Ros and Jill, who have many years experience in the interior and design industry. Their wonderful blog has been going since 2009, and it is regularly updated with engaging articles covering a wide range of design topics. By day, both Ros and Jill work for design magazines, and have both done work for newspapers, which include The Independent, The Guardian and The Telegraph (their Stella magazine). They pride themselves in the quality of the content they can produce for both their own blogs and other brands. Check My Friend’s House out – it is a really intriguing blog and you may just lose an hour flicking through before you know it!

My Friend’s House

The Beat that My Heart Skipped

Though nothing to do with the fantastic 2005 French film by Jacques Audiard, this brilliant design blog is, like said film, rather engrossing. It does not only cover interior design, but other things as well such as food, books and shopping. The interior design section is particularly wonderful, though; it is very photo-heavy – which is great for visualisations and giving you ideas for your own home. The interiors section seems to have a new post about once every two weeks, which is not very frequent, but do not forget that there are other things happening on The Beat That My Heart Skipped other than just interiors. Anyway, it is the quality which matters, not the quantity, and this blog is certainly one of rich content!

The Beat that My Heart Skipped

decor8

Founded and edited by a lady from the United States called Holly Becker, decor8 is a superb design blog which reels in just under 50,000 reads every single day of the week. Now that is truly impressive. Holly Becker comes from a corporate background, but in 2006 she decided to drastically change her career path and pursue her passions – something we would all surely do given the chance – and establish a blog all about interior design and the home. And what a clearly evident passion it is. She is a highly accomplished author, having won awards for her design books and also sold a great many copies of each. Her ultimate goal with the blog is simply to share and exchange new decorating ideas, celebrate nice interior designs and offer advice. Her best-selling book is called Decorate: 1000 Professional Design Ideas for Every Room in the House, which is widely available.

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Room Envy

Run by the folks over at 25 Beautiful Homes magazine, Room Envy is a really cool side project blog which has been going since the summer of 2008. It is a very simply-laid out blog, which is quite attractive actually, and is not to say that there is not much to it – there certainly is a lot of substance here. Each category is nicely titled, with alliteration where possible – such as ‘desirable dining’ and ‘beautiful boudoirs’ – which adds a nice pleasant feel to proceedings, and even for a blog that is supposed to have incredibly enticing photographs, this one is astounding. You could – and probably will – spend hours looking through them! Check it out. Their archive bar allows for very easy access to their posts from each month since they started.

Room Envy

Design Shuffle

Design Shuffle are probably the youngest of the blogs mentioned so far in this list, but even still it has been going since spring 2010. The idea behind Design Shuffle is to serve as a place where virtually anyone who has anything insightful to share about interior design can do. They encourage people to get in touch about writing for the blog, which is always nice to see. People share their own home’s designs and designer share their projects on there. There seems to be a system in place where every so many words there is a photo or a picture to break things up, which is well-thought-out and does so nicely. Obviously what you want with an interior design blog is a nice balance between visual content and textual content, and Design Shuffle is doing rather well, we think!

What’s In Your Bedroom?

This one is probably the most specific one on the list, but it is a blog worth checking out because it is an interesting idea – basically it is just posts about people’s bedrooms, with between half a dozen and a dozen photos or so. There is an accompanying interview with each person talking about their bedroom and what it means to them, which is quite engrossing actually, but this is also a good blog for when you are not in the mood for reading and just fancy a nice little nosey. It is more interesting than it sounds, honest! Have a look through and see if you like the vibe of it. Who knows – you could get a few ideas from it nonetheless!

What’s In Your Bedroom

Katy Elliott

Though not specifically covering the topic of interior design all of the time, this blog is still well worth looking at. It is written and run by an interior designed called (yep, you guessed it!) Katy Elliott, in which she keeps us up to date with her everyday goings-on and the on-going restoration of her home in Massachusetts which is over a quarter of a millenium old! As said previously, specific interior design posts on Katy’s blog are more few-and-further-between than you might expect, but it can inspire when not even on the subject of design – the New England landscapes and her house in general sort of make you want to go for the whole New England/Maine look!

Katy Elliott

Home Design Find

Dedicated to throwing design ideas out there for all to take advantage of, Home Design Find is definitely a blog to keep an eye on. They just want to showcase nice furniture and home accessories, in essence. Some of the designs it shows are outrageously bold and really get you inspired. Their posts are a bit more picture-heavy than most of the abovementioned blogs, but that is not a bad thing at all. Sometimes you do not need a lot of words. The pictures to the talking.

Home Design Find

The Selby

Rather like the Katy Elliott blog, this is another blog that you could say inspires more than it instructs. The guy behind The Selby is called Todd… Selby, and he is a photographer, director, illustrator, author – an all-round creative genius, basically. Anyway, what he does is goes to the homes of all different types of creative people – writers, artists, film and television directors, fashion designers – you name it – and photographs them (a lot) in and around their home, often with their family and loved ones. All of these photographs are really cleverly presented in each post: they are all collected together in a grid and you can click on them to enlarge them. The photographs, as you would expect from a pro, are amazing. Featured people include American maverick author Tom Wolfe, rapper Pharrell Williams, and New York-based interior designer Rita Konig.

The Selby

ArchInspire

As the name would suggest, this is a blog which definitely serves as an inspiration tool. It is extremely well organised and laid-out: it has specific sections for houses, another for apartments, and another for garden and patio areas. That saves a lot of time and is a nice touch, though you can just scroll down the chronological feed if you want, which gathers all the posts in one big feed. It is up to you. The content is very engaging and finds the right balance between wording and imagery. There are over 900 posts in the ‘houses’ section, so there should be a thing or two in there which you will find useful or inspirational, so fill a bowl full of crisps, grab yourself a nice hot or cold beverage, and have a good thorough browse through it!

ArchInspire

The Inspired Room

Having been a leading home design blog since 2007, The Inspired Room is quite aptly-named. The lady who created it, Melissa, basically posts about her home and the various changes she makes to its layout and decor. In the ‘about us’ section she says that her main motivation for running The Inspired Room is to motivate people into making the most out of the homes they have by way of ‘DIY decorating’, and inspiring them if they need any help with ideas. Definitely worth a look. The Inspired Room

Home-Designing

This is really a very easy blog to navigate through as it has a grid set-up on the homepage. From there you can click onto various specific categories, such as ‘Kitchen designs that pop’ and ‘Black and white graphic decor’, which is very handy if you have very specific tastes. It is also good for people who want to find inspiration, too, as you can simply browse through endlessly. In the ‘about us’ section, Home-Designing say their mission is to provide readers with ‘a steady set of resources that would help them visualise, create and maintain beautiful homes’. They also have clear sections across the top bar where you can browse specific room designs like bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and so on.

Home-Designing

The Peak of Chic

‘Musings on stylish living’, it says at the top of the blog, which has been going since 2006. Most of the pictures featured are from old interior design magazines – some decades old – and they still serve as great inspiration now. With an extensive list of ‘labels’ and categories down the left hand side, you should be able to navigate through The Peak of Chic fairly effortlessly.

The Peak of Chic

A Library of Design

Jane McCulloch, who runs the blog, has a massive wealth of knowledge and experience in a great many areas, one of the main ones being interior design. She is a published author, a keen photographer and a former journalist and editor. Her Library of Design has a wide variety of design-related posts on there, so there is an awful lot to have a look through and get inspiration from.

A Library of Design

Amy Merrick

This is more a floral blog than anything else, but it could be exactly the point in the right direction you need to spruce up your home, with a little help from some flowers and plants. Perhaps one to watch if you have a conservatory.

Amy Merrick

Hopefully this little list has given you a few good interior design reference points. Do you know of any other interesting furniture or interior design blogs? If so, we would love to hear from you, so please share them in the comments section below!

You’ve had your conservatory built for whatever reason; whether to add value or an extra room to your home. You are now at the stage of adding the finishing touches to it, there are many things to consider; décor choices, furniture options and accessories.

In today’s article I will give you five great tips on adding the finishing touches to your conservatory.

Colour choices in the conservatory

The first thing you need to think about when decorating your conservatory is the colours you want. You should think about what sort of style you’re looking to portray. For example will your conservatory change with the seasons?

Perhaps you are looking to use your conservatory as almost a garden room in the summer months? If so you should be looking to paint your conservatory walls with bright, airy colours. Cool blues, greens and yellows all give a summer feeling to a conservatory.

However if you’re looking to use your conservatory as an extra living room space you may want a warm, cosier feel. Bold and dark colours will be more appropriate such as browns and reds.

The use of your conservatory will also dictate what flooring option you choose.

Flooring options

There are many different flooring options for your conservatory, just like any other room in your home. However there are a few things to consider. Firstly the usage of your conservatory, as I mentioned above it depends on whether you want a cosy or airy feel around the room.

Another huge thing to think about when making the decision on what flooring you will be purchasing is how easy it is going to be to maintain. I say this because your conservatory will be an entry/exit point to your home, do you really want muddy shoes on your expensive carpet? I would guess not.

This is why I would advise going for either a tiled or laminate flooring option. There are so many different flooring tile choices available to fit every price range and colour choice. Just like tiled flooring, laminate flooring comes in a range of prices and styles. They are both easy to maintain too.

You may be worried about how cold a tiled floor or laminate floor choice could become over time. There are two things you could do; why not purchase a small rug to place in the centre of the room? Or perhaps take a look at having underfloor heating installed.

Your conservatory furniture

By now you should have established what you will be using your conservatory for. Another major factor when deciding on conservatory furniture is how much space you have to work with. Conservatories aren’t always large enough rooms for a complete sofa set.

Perhaps you’re going to use your conservatory in the summer as a room to sit and enjoy the weather while entertaining guests? If this is the case you could look at purchasing some rattan furniture, perhaps a dining set? They’re great for indoor and outdoor use and can be moved about with ease.

For those of you who are looking to create a cosy living space you would want at least a sofa; if space allows, why not purchase a 3 seat sofa and a couple of comfy chairs too?  There is no need to go overboard though, for example if there is only you and your partner in the home purchasing a two seat sofa will be ample. You can then spend more on other facets of your conservatory.

One important tip is to avoid leather furniture. I say this because it is likely your conservatory will be subject to plenty of sunlight, over time leather furniture will fade and also it attracts heat; making it uncomfortable to sit on and in some cases impossible.

Lighting your conservatory

The conservatory is probably the room in your home which is subject to the most natural light, it really depends on how you want to utilise this. Blinds are always a good option in the conservatory, they allow the owner to either shut out or control the amount of light they need in the conservatory.

For those home owners who are looking to create a cosy living room with their conservatory, you may want to purchase a good pair of curtains that match your décor. You should also think about installing some form of mood lighting.

You can add a lamp shade in the corner and purchase some lights that can be adjusted for specific moods and you will be able to create a cosy conservatory for those cold winter nights.

Accessories you can add

Once you have added all the fundamentals to your conservatory you can finish your conservatory by adding some accessories, fitting to the theme of the room. There are many different accessories you can include in your conservatory, some of my favourites are:

  • Rugs

  • Cushions/Cushion covers

  • Ornaments

  • Pieces of art

  • Family photos

  • Ornaments

  • Plants

The main thing to think about is the mood and the purpose of your conservatory; as I have tried to state throughout this article. Whether it is your furniture fittings or the whole décor of any room in your home, here at Eurofit Direct we blog about all of these topics and more.

This article was provided by Ryan Hirst, Ryan is the marketing and media assistant at Eurofit Direct, an office and kitchen furniture manufacturer in the UK, His role within the company includes running the company blog and handling social media portals.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock