A spring clean, a summer refresh or just a little weekend DIY – whatever project you’re planning, it won’t hurt to hear how the experts approach decorating before you dive in.

Interior designer Amelia Wilson

Amelia owns Amelia Wilson Interiors based in Asby. She has transformed private homes, holidays homes and businesses and her work is featured in Real Homes, Cumbria Life, and on Houzz.

1. Most people know that using mirrors will reflect more light into the room, but they can also be used to increase your views of the outside. Look at where you have a garden view and consider strategically hanging a mirror at an angle so you can catch that view from other areas of the room.

2. As an interior designer, one of the most difficult things to choose for a customer is artwork as it’s often so personal. If you have bare walls and are struggling to find artwork you like, then consider wallpaper, which to me is just large-scale artwork. I use it on feature walls and throughout a room to make a statement.

Bring the outside in with mirrors. Amelia Wilson
Wallpaper as large-scale artwork. Amelia Wilson

Frank Holmes, painter and decorator

Frank owns Frank Holmes Ltd in Lancaster and is celebrating 30 years of painting and decorating. Frank’s skills range from full refurbishment to a feature wall, in period or contemporary properties.

3. Painstaking preparation leads to a flawless finish so use quality tools. My top two are the Purdy Paint Brushes and the Mirka Dustless Sander.

Purdy Paint Brushes are good quality synthetic fibre bristles that don’t shed or leave brush marks. They are quite stiff too, so don’t spread the bristles; perfect for cutting in to create a nice straight edge, as long as you have a steady hand.

I wouldn’t be without the Mirka Dustless Sander system, which has a vacuum attachment to collect dust as you work, creating a cleaner working environment for me and happy customers too.

4. A feature wall is a great way to make a statement and create a focal point. For example, this feature headboard was created for a boutique bedroom at Quite Simply French in Lancaster. It is made with Lincrusta (Elizabeth design) a heritage, deeply textured wallcovering, made in Lancaster for over 100 years. 

First, I installed the Lincrusta, which needs to be hand trimmed. Then I applied a metallic paint effect, a dark base with copper and silver highlights, which is beautifully set off by a gold frame, which I also gilded, and clever lighting.

Mirka dustless sander. Frank Holmes
Statement headboard. Frank Holmes

Furnishings expert Ashlea Ginesi

Ashlea produces quality hand-sewn soft furnishings. She studied art and design at Cumbria Institute of the Arts, and contemporary craft at Manchester Met. Ashlea’s Fine Furnishings is based in Penrith.

5. When choosing fabrics for your interior pieces, try not to go towards fashion and trend-led pieces as these will date. Think about the general style that you gravitate towards such as smart and sleek, cosy cottage or grand and bold. This way you will not tire so easily of the choices you make. 

6. Tempting as it is to buy off-the-peg curtains or blinds to ‘save money’ it’s best to think about your choices for a little longer. Choose something you love rather than like. Handmade items are more affordable in the long run. They are made to last and will look as good as the day you bought them in 10 years’ time. You can choose a cheaper fabric and if it is made up well it will be beautiful.

Roman blinds. Ashlea Ginesi
Patchwork quilt. Ashlea Ginesi

Interior designer Julie Shead

Julie launched Satu Interiors in Penrith in 2001. Her commissions include homes in Cumbria, Washington DC, Chelsea apartments and villas in Spain.

7. Always remember the ‘fifth wall’ – in other words the ceiling. You can have great fun with either a fabulous decorative wallpaper, or paint or paper in a softer, more simple design. Remember it’s important to contrast. Painting your woodwork a darker colour than the walls can give real definition to a scheme.

8. Be BOLD. If you are uncertain about choosing a bold wallpaper get a large sample and pin it up in the room.  Choose plain soft furnishings to soften the look.  Try a cloakroom or any small room to start as this gives you the high impact without it being too overpowering to live with all day.

Fifth wall. Julie Shead
Be bold. Julie Shead
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