Welcome to our Blog!

This blog is held by Anne Stuart and Emmanuelle Lemoine, both Interior Designers working from their own practice.
This is a space where to communicate about Interior Design issues, with a special emphasises on the importance to be environmentally responsible.
Please do leave your comments, we are looking forward to reading you soon.

Tip of the day

A north facing and a south facing room don't need the same colours or lighting. Always check before the orientation of the room before planning your new design.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Tips to get through the winter

Its February and that time of the year when thoughts turn to sprucing up our homes. The weather may have other ideas but it is nice to make small improvements ready for when the sun does eventually make an appearance.

So, it time to get cheerful! Small changes even at this time of the year will help to get rid of the winter blues and get ready for the warm sunshine of spring.

Here are some inexpensive quick tip ideas to get ready for spring.

  • rearrange and wash ornaments. Now I am not a fan of many ornaments but some people feel more secure with all their paraphernalia around them, so if some prefer it that way, that’s ok. Most of my ornaments are tucked away in cupboards so when I feel like a change I swap the odd one or two, it makes a world of difference.

  • New fresh pillowcases on the bed.

  • Buy a few fresh potted herbs from the supermarket and put them on the inside windowsill, when the weather gets warmer they can go on the outside.

  • Buy or make a couple of new cushions to put on the settee. Orange is making a comeback, would look gorgeous teamed with turquoise.

  • Rearrange some furniture, if you have too much furniture sell it.

  • If you are lucky enough to have parquet floors, remove the carpet.

  • It is not a big job to repaint the kitchen cupboard doors, you will feel like you have a new kitchen – I did!

  • Quick fix for the bathroom, bleach or re-grout the tiles.

  • Clean the inside of the windows, its amazing how much more light will come in.

  • Consider investing in under bed storage.

  • Buy a mirror, brings the outside in, makes rooms bigger and brighter.

  • instead of filing favourite photos in an album, frame them. New wall hangings will freshen your walls.

If anybody has any other tips, please share them! We would love to add them to the list.

Anne Stuart

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

How to green up your house in 6 steps

Greening up your house doesn't mean making big expenses, even though you would save energy and have a more efficient house by adding extra heat insulation for example, or  you could install solar panel and many other things. Here I only want to focus on very simple things that we don’t necessarily do, just because we are taken by our very busy lifestyle, and we just didn’t think about it. Following are 6 very easy steps to follow in order to start being more environmentally responsible.

1. Make sure you recycle easy to re-cycle things such as paper, plastics, glass, metal etc. Have an extra bin in the kitchen to gather all these clean “rubbish” and give put them into your green bin outside (Here in London, there is now an active collection of recyclable items, once a week, same time as normal rubbish)

2.  Make sure you switch all un-necessary  lights off, and talk about it with your children, they will be much more inclined to help out with this when they know it is important not to waste any electricity. Try to switch off any TV, Hi-Fi, and Computer that stay on standby all the time. If you can’t switch them off and on all the time, why not use a timer that will save you from doing it all the time.

3.  Have the WIFI on timer as well: you don’t need the WiFi at certain times of the day, such as night time or when you are away. It saves energy, and if you switch the device at night time, it gives the whole family a break in receiving all these additional electronic waves…

4. Replace the washer of any dripping tap as drop by drop, there will be a lot of water wasted if you don’t take action.

5.  Draw your curtains at night in order to keep the warmth in.
6. Set up the heating of the house to the minimum temperature you are comfortable with, in winter, and add an extra jumper on

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

New year resolutions: What about de-cluttering?

With the New year we all make many sorts of resolution and one of them should be about getting rid of our clutter: if there is a bad word in a house, “Clutter” should be one of  the worst!
Haven’t we all been invaded by clutter at least once… or more? How can we fight with such an insidious enemy?
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Whenever I am called by new clients, they always mention that they don’t want the clutter anymore; they want clever and spacious storage and feel the space in their house. And I agree that clever storage is important, but sadly even with the biggest storage available, clutter might still win the fight if actions are not taken. I still remember that after creating a new living space for a client, with adequate and hidden storage, I almost cried when I visited her after the project was finished and she had gone back into her house, as the lovely décor was again viciously spoilt by clutter…

So, let’s accept it, Clutter is watching us and always ready to spread in our life. Knowing this we have to take actions, as it is recognised that being surrounded by clutter is not good in many different ways: first of all it doesn’t look good, and secondly it affects the whole energy of your space (to know more about this, read some books about feng shui for the home).
Clutter can also spread inside our cupboards, where it is hidden, but it is still there. SO let’s take some actions:
 We have to think about what we want to be surrounded with. If our drawers are full of items we haven’t used for a long time, the question is: “Do I really need this?” And if you are about to answer “Oh, but we never know, just in case…” then it means that you should simply get rid of this object as it is a disguised soldier of Master Clutter.
We sometimes feel we should keep an object, such as the hideous vase given by Auntie A.  I believe that we should only surround ourselves by object we like, objects we find beautiful, and get rid of any disgraceful item.
Now, when you decided to de-clutter a space in your house, take at least three sorts of boxes: the one to throw with the main rubbish, one for re-cycling and one for the charity shop or the things you can give away or, why not, re-sell. You don’t like these object (or don’t use them anymore), but they might suit somebody else perfectly and get a second life.
After you have managed to de-clutter, it is good to have a strategy to prevent the return of any clutter. For this purpose, you can have a special basket or box, that you keep in the same place, and that you fill with items that have gone into the clutter pile. And then once a week (or second week, or more if you want) you can get rid of these either by throwing them away or recycling them or giving them away.
You will notice straight after you have de-clutter a space in your home that you feel so much lighter, better, full of renewed energy! So, why not giving it a try!

Monday, 25 November 2013

When an Interior Designer Designs her own home Part 5

Trials and tribulations Part 5

It has been a wonderful summer in our new home, so much so, we have not even felt the need to go away on holiday. In our previous house it was necessary to get out of the country twice a year!

There has been one lurking issue – the continuous smell of damp/drains in one of our en suite bathrooms. Try as we might, noses in cupboards and bottles of bleach, although we did notice a patch of damp at the back of one of our cupboards. We just could not locate where it was coming from so the builder was duly called to refit all the toilets and seal around the pipes. Husband purchased an expanding foam gun, every gap now looks as though yellow candy floss is oozing, we are now hermetically sealed!

Still the smell persisted, it even got worse.

About a week ago I noticed one of the LED brick lights in our shower cubical was developing a brown 'bloom' inside. We called the electrician. He was not available so my husband removed the lights and to our horror discovered that they had NEVER been correctly sealed into the wall and incorrect non waterproof cables connections had been made. This also explained why the electricity supply had tripped out earlier in the year. Quite a substantial amount of water had entered the light fitting and the wall and this was causing the damp smell. The fittings have now been correctly wired and resealed and our bathroom now smells beautiful.

Be warned that lights installed in a shower cubicle MUST be correctly connected and sealed!
Anne Stuart

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Advice on a living room

I am always asked to show before and after photos, and until recently I didn't have either the before or the after photos... So here is a time I have a before photo of a living room window:

As you have noticed, it is a bay window that needs help in order to show what it really is, a beautiful bay window. The windows looks to a quiet road, and the owner is not keen on voile curtains, which are not really needed either. There is a radiator, that shouldn't be covered, so we make sure the room will be heated properly in winter, and energy won't be wasted. There is a settee in front of the window that needed attention as well.
I propose the owner to have roman blinds, lined with an insulating fabric, in order to keep the heat inside the house in winter when the blinds are drawn. We chose a fabric with a pattern in warm colours to keep a feeling of warmth in the room, even in winter.
As it is a space to relax as well, we didn't want to add too much red, which is a stimulating colour, but just enough to keep you warm
The settee was dressed in a stripy fabric to match the blind fabric, and here is the result:

I think the space looks now comfortable and warm, and makes justice to the window and the rest of the room.
Emmanuelle Lemoine

Monday, 14 October 2013

Eco-friendly Refurbishment of a Ladies powder room - The green credentials

The green credentials

Very often when we hear about green design, only one image comes to the mind, some dodgy looking room made out with old rubbish. I remember a show I went to where the eco-friendly room featured old cans of coke, crushed and used as tiles, and all sorts of similar things. This made me angry as it didn't convey the right sort of message. Eco-friendly, or green, doesn't meant the hippie or trash look. And I am going to prove it to you with this project we just finished in London.
Here is a photo showing the downstairs space of the Ladies room, the following one shows the upstairs.

 You will agree that it doesn't have a very "green look". But this refurbishment has many green credentials, that we can divide into three groups, the made in UK, energy and water saving and the recycled.

Made in the UK:
Using local products (here made in the UK as it is a London project) makes sense in many ways. First of all it reduces the carbon footprint of the product by reducing its transport. Getting a piece of furniture from the other side of the world might be cheaper (or is it?) but means a lot of carbon was produced to bring the furniture to the UK.
Another important fact is that local products are also good for the local economy.

In this particular project we used many products made locally including the wall paper, the electrical accessories, the furniture (made from responsibly farmed wood), the mirrors...

Energy and water saving:
We used a lot of lighting in this project, which resulted in a bright and interesting room. Many of the fittings we used are energy saving fittings, including LED lights. We used LED recessed down lighters, LED stripes, and replaced the bulbs of the Hollywood mirror with LED bulbs.
There is a PIR (Passive InfraRed sensor) system downstairs and in the fourth cubicle area. This PIR system is set up so that after a certain period of time, when there is no movement in the room, the background light switches off, and will switch back on as soon as movement is detected.
The taps are automatic, meaning that only the right amount of water is used, and there won't be any tap, leaking for hours, forgotten by a forgetful user.

When the room was dismantled to allow the refurbishment, as many items as possible were put on side (this includes the taps, mirrors etc.) in order to be either reused somewhere else in the club or to be sold for a brand new life.
After their life time, there is not a lot you can do with an old carpet, and they normally end up filling up landfill... and here we are talking of an enormous quantity of carpets. For this project we have sourced a cradle to cradle certified carpet. This means that the carpet was designed in such a way that after its life time, it will be taken back by the manufacturer who will dismantle the carpet and re-use its components in order to re-make a brand new carpet. This means, no filling up of the landfill and no depletion of natural resources.

The chairs that were already in use in the Ladies room were renovated and re-upholstered, so they would be perfect for the new décor. By doing this we re-used what we already had instead of getting rid of it and getting a new one.

So, you will agree that this projects contains quite a good list of green credentials!

A special thank you to Peter Schneiter who took all the after photographs http://www.peterschneiter.com/ 

Emmanuelle Lemoine

Monday, 7 October 2013

Eco-friendly Refurbishment of a Ladies powder room - The lighting

Lighting is one of my favourite subject, the lighting makes or brakes a scheme! however much you spend on a design scheme, if the lighting is not right, then you wasted your money! When I go to shows, I always spend a lot of time to look at the lighting and see what is new. I have been following the progresses made by LED lighting this last 8 years, and I am now quite happy with their performance.

LED lighting can be extremely white, and when you look at yourself in a mirror lit by white LED, you won't be very happy with the result as what you will see is a ghost version of yourself. I have tried it, and I promise you, it is scary!
If you want to use LEDs, always make sure you use the warmest light possible, as LED still are quite cold.
LEDs can now be used for background lighting, when you choose a warm white, and this is what we did for the Ladies room. All the background lighting is done using LED recessed down lighters. The result is absolutely perfect. I knew it would be as I already had used these fitting in other projects and was very happy with the result.
Not only LED can be used for the background lighting, but they also can be very useful for emergency lighting. As the Ladies room is in a public space, we had to comply with all the rules and regulations, including emergency lighting.
Here is a photo of the old emergency light:

Quite big and ugly, I am sure you will agree! We have fitted very efficient recessed LED emergency lights that you can spot... if you see the green light...
Can you see the green light? Yes, this is the new emergency light, and I have seen it working, it is incredibly efficient for such a small and sleek fitting! (and of course comply with the rules and regulations!)
If you look again at the above photograph, you will appreciate how much fun we had when creating the lighting scheme. The Hollywood mirror does sparkle a lot, and its sparkle is echoed by the LED strip we installed under the stair case to light up the mirror fitted on the wall.


Some wall lights lead us to the upstairs area, and add interest to the wall.
A safe path is built following the LED stair lights, that we installed in the skirting of the stairs.

Upstairs we used the same recessed down light fittings for background lighting. Interest was given to the cubicles by adding a LED strip, which created a dramatic effect.
The recess down lighters were placed so they would provide enough light to the ladies at the hand washing basins, and we made sure there would be no dark corner at all in the room.

 More wall lights were used to finish this focal point, surrounding the mirror and giving light to the ladies when looking at themselves in the mirror.

The ceiling was lowered the space leading to the fourth cubicle, above the hand washing basins. Installing recessed lights was not an option, so we used another LED stripe, to light up this corner, which added interest to the room. The strip is positioned in such a way that it pushes the wall away and creates an impression of space. 

In every projects, lighting is of the utmost importance, and what I can say for this project is that there were many challenges that we enjoyed taking, and you can see the result is an absolute success.

For this project I want to give a special THANK YOU to my electrician who understands what I want to realise and always supports me in my wildest idea. Thank you Graham! Graham Simmons Luxelex http://luxelec.co.uk/portfolio.html
 And of course special thank you to Peter Schneiter who took all the after photographs http://www.peterschneiter.com/ 
Emmanuelle Lemoine