relationship status- first time buyers

How Relationship Status Is Affecting First Time Buyers

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Single men are 16% more likely to be actively saving for a mortgage

Our survey into the accessibility of the housing market has found that there isn’t just a gender divide in the way we save money- it’s a difference between the way men vs. women save when they are in a committed relationship. Women are more often putting aside large sums of money each month towards saving for a house, whereas men who are married or living with their partner are more likely to be saving low amounts, or not saving at all.

Being in a committed relationship seems to incentivises women to save for a house, but makes men less likely to be putting aside money for a house- and those that are putting aside money are often putting aside a couple of hundred pounds less than their female counterpart. Women are likely to be making some savings for a deposit regardless of their relationship status; only 0.22% more single women reported
currently saving for a house. Conversely, men become 14% less likely to be currently putting money towards a first home if they have a partner. Men are still earning more but contributing less to mortgage savings.

A Gendered Contribution Gap

The Office for National statistics reported that in 2018, men were still receiving 8.6% higher pay than women when in full time employment. However:

  • Women are 21% more likely than men contribute over £350 a month to saving for a house when in committed relationships. (16.58 vs. 13.73)
  • Women are 42% more likely than men contribute over £250 a month to saving for a house when in committed relationships. (17.11 vs. 12.02)
  •  Men are 15% more likely than women contribute under £50 per month toward the cost of buying a house when in a committed relationship. (26.2 vs. 30.04)

While the differences are small, they highlight a consistent gap between contributions towards a jointly owned property. This “contribution gap,” combined with the gender pay gap means that women who are in committed relationships with men are likely to be contributing a higher percentage of their wages each month to achieve a shared goal.

%
Increase for men in committed relationships

16% more single men are currently saving for a house than men in a serious relationship, whereas this difference is just 0.22% for women. Despite this, 39.91% of men who are married or live with their partner believe they are ‘very likely’ to become a homeowner in 3 years, compared to just 18% for single men. That’s a whopping 122% increase for men in committed relationships. Men in committed relationships are less driven to become a homeowner, but feel far more likely to achieve this goal.

Where Does this Leave Singles?

Single men are 15% more likely to receive money towards a deposit from family members than men in a committed relationship. Conversely, it is women in committed relationships who are 16% more likely to receive financial assistance than single women.

Despite being more likely to receive financial support from family members, across the board single men are most likely to report that they find the property ladder ‘not accessible’ (28% of single men) and least likely to report finding it ‘very accessible’ (just 6%.) Single men are also most likely to report the cost of buying a property as a barrier to purchasing, and are least likely to be concerned about the implications of
reselling a property. This difference is reflected by female respondents, highlighting the significance of a dual income.

how accessible is the property ladder

This research underpins just how tough it is to get on the property ladder. Women, especially single women, face the most difficulty buying their first home. However, even with keen dedication to saving for a first home, alongside family support- many single men find the prospect of becoming a homeowner incredibly remote. Even with the gender contribution gap, women and men in committed relationships are
both more prone to feel ‘very likely’ to become a homeowner in the next 3 years; highlighting the necessity of a dual income to property purchasing. It’s no wonder so many single respondents reported feeling that this goal was unattainable.

Methodology

750 respondents from the UK were asked 17 multiple choice questions relating to lifestyle, saving habits and feelings towards buying a first home. Results were then cross filtered by gender and relationship status. We have defined ‘committed relationship’ as those who are living with a partner or married. Sexual orientation was not reported on our survey, so results include all relationship types.
View the data, sources and full methodology here

The benefits of natural light

Natural Light: The Benefits of Brightening Up Your Home

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Natural light simply cannot be rivalled by artificial light. Natural light can have an effect on both your mental and physical health, as well as playing a critical role when it comes to your overall wellbeing. Therefore, learning some of the best ways to let more sunlight into your home is invaluable.

Natural Light Sources

In order to establish the best ways of letting more light into your home, you’ll need to first understand the differences between natural light and artificial light. Natural sources include the sun, stars, moon, fire and lightning, where sources of artificial light include candles, lamps, electric bulbs, smart phones, tablets and computers.

Although artificial light can also have its benefits and advantages to our lifestyle, natural light really cannot be rivalled and letting more sunlight into your home wherever you can will help you reap its many rewards.

Health Benefits of Natural Light

When the sun’s out it makes us feel good, uplifted and wanting to get out and about. Sunlight and Vitamin D go hand in hand. Vitamin D helps to lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease. As well as this, natural light helps support the regulation of Serotonin and Melatonin levels, helps to reduce stress levels, and helps regulate Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

As well as all the above health benefits, sunlight is also known to improve productivity levels and improve sleeping habits. Natural light has a profound effect on our sleep and waking habits, and is vital in regulating our circadian rhythm. Did you know that people exposed to greater amounts of natural light during the morning (8am – noon) often fall asleep more quickly at night and have fewer sleep disturbances?

The following infographic, designed by the team at Cool Shutters, outlines some of the main benefits of letting more sunlight into your home, as well as some key ways in exactly how you can let more natural light into your home. From windows, sky lighting and doors to mirrors, paint choices and flooring, there are plenty of opportunities to brighten up your home or even your office space.

In an easy-to-follow layout, the infographic starts off by pinpointing the key differences between natural light and artificial light and the various sources of each, the infographic then goes onto explaining blue light, the Lux levels of different types of lighting and then some key facts around energy savings. Going into in-depth detail, the infographic shown below also explains the many health benefits of sunlight, and then concluding with some top tips on how exactly you can increase the natural light exposure in your home.

The Benefits of Natural Light

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41 ways to Decorate Your First Home

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Some people are born with a great eye for interior design. For others it can be quite the challenge and quite frankly – an overwhelming task. The pressure to think outside the box, achieve a specific look or simply just decide where you’re going to place all your belongings is quite the daunting task.

We believe our decorating tips don’t get much easier than our simple yet effective infographic to help with your home’s blank canvas. From your kitchen to your bedroom – our tips and techniques will make your decor choices go a long way. Whether you’re after a few new additions to your existing decor, or you’re staring blankly at the walls of your new home – our simple tips and tricks can help you create a home you’ll love.

If you know others who could benefit from our easy decorating tips – give this infographic a share.

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Q&A With Hannah Barnes

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We are delighted to present interior designer Hannah Barnes to our series of Q&A’s. Barnes has nearly 10 years in the industry and an extenstive amount of arts and interior-based qualifications under her belt. Her designs are built on creativity as well as functionality which highly evident in her interior solutions.

In addition to offering interior design services, Barnes also offers art and design workshops which aims to provide people of all ages the skills to create their own mood boards, draw up plans and learn techniques of lighting and colour schemes.

Her work over the past ten years has landed her coverage in InCheshire & Prestbury Living Magazine, as well as winning an award from HOUZZ for best customer service in the industry.

How did your interior design career begin and what sparked your inspiration?

I’ve always been interested in art and design and followed a creative path in college but my paid work began in the 90s when paint techniques were all the rage. I was great at creating colour washes and rag rolled finishes (not so popular in 2017!)  Jobs for family and friends developed into new clients who’d been recommended and I soon discovered these clients also needed joinery work, soft furnishings and more. So I built a team of trusted contractors around me and the business was born from a mixture of artistic passion and my own hobby.

What inspired you to start up Hannah Barnes Designs?

I am a firm believer that interior design is for everyone and not just the affluent and the footballers of this world.  Many of my clients are a “average” family who simply don’t have the ideas and mostly the time, to create the home they need and want. 
 
Hannah Barnes Designs takes all the hassle away from these clients to allow them to spend their time elsewhere. We advise on what furniture and fittings fit where and how each piece will look in the overall scheme and then we organise the whole project from start to finish. 
There was definitely a gap in the market for a turn-key service like this for busy families, which was accessible, convenient and affordable…. with a little bit of luxury thrown in.  We have built on this ethos for the past 15 years.

What's the most exciting and/or most successful project you've work on to date?

We are asked to design and renovate all kinds of properties for lots of different people. The most successful are when we are working with brave clients who love the process and really trust our vision and experience.  It’s so lovely to impress them and leave them with a home they really love.
 
One of the most interesting and challenging projects was a PR campaign for Intu Trafford Centre around three years ago,, to help promote the first Ideal Home Show in Manchester. I was selected to create two rooms sets in the middle of the shopping centre, using only products found in the Trafford Centre stores. One room was Red and one was Blue to represent the opposing Manchester football teams.
 
The design scheme was fun and unique and it was certainly an experience dressing a room set at 3am in an abandoned mall! We got some great responses though so the experience was fantastic… the most popular room was then recreated at the Ideal Home Show.

How often do you incorporate seasonal trends into your interiors? If none, what inspires you in the process?

As designers, our job is to be ahead of the trends so we try to introduce our clients to brand new ideas and schemes all the time.  I think everyone is getting a bit tired of seeing grey interiors now but I personally love the current trend of deep green velvet sofas.  Most of our clients desire a timeless home they will love for many years and can add to easily to freshen the look, rather than a on-trend style which will age quickly.

What's your take on plantation shutters for interior design?

I love plantation shutters and we are seeing more requests than ever for these installations. I think they offer a practical solution to controlling light and privacy and the contemporary ‘Hamptons’ style trend really suits the clean lines of shutters.
 
I’d like to see people being a little braver with colours and textures as we see so many simple white styles.  Painted coloured shutters can look fabulous and can make the whole window come to life.

Do you have anything exciting coming up for 2018?

We have spent 15 years renovating private homes all over Manchester and Cheshire, but our very first project of 2018 is a restaurant in Manchester.   We don’t often have the opportunity to design commercial interiors and it’s been such fun to feature more daring materials and finishes this time.  

Q&A with Ongl | Interior Design Interview

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Ongl Design+Make was founded in 2014 by Sarah McCall-Morgan. They’re a Cardiff-based contemporary interior design company that develops and delivers custom interior solutions for commercial and residential clients nationally.

We were drawn to Ongl due to their ability to cater for a variety of styles from clients such as high schools all the way through to notable names throughout the country. Their client base includes some big names such as Evan James, Cardiff Caerdydd and On Par Productions. Ongl have a great team that combines art, design, carpentry, joinery and most of all – a passion to deliver the narrative of a space.

How did your interior design career begin?

My focus at school had always been on the Sciences with a view to going on
to study to be a Doctor. I got the grades I needed at A-Level and had
secured a place to study Medicine at Univeristy; but something didn’t sit
right. I wasn’t excited about it at all, and soon I realised that the real
problem was that I wasn’t truly passionate about becoming a doctor – I was
just kind of going along with it, because I could. At a loss of what to do next,
I decided to spend a year at art college, doing a Foundation Diploma in Art
and Design. As a kid I was always doing arts and crafts – I loved being
creative but had put it on the back burner to focus on the more ‘academic’
subjects at school. That year was a game changer for me. I found what I
was passionate about – 3D Design, Sculpture, Architecture, Making,
Creating. So I went on to study Interior Architecture at Cardiff, loved every
second of it, graduated with a first class honours and then, well, the rest is
history!

What inspired you to start up Ongl?

After graduating, and before Ongl, I spent 6 years working for various
companies to build up experience in the Interior Architectural Design
industry. I worked as an Exhibition Designer for a company in Bordeaux;
went on to work as an Interior Designer for a commercial Architecture firm
in Cardiff; then a small experimental design studio in Tenby; and finally
settled back in Cardiff as a Design Draughtsperson for a set production
company. The thing with Interior Architectural Design is that it’s such a vast
field; and I’ve been lucky enough to experience so many facets of it; so that
when it came to setting up Ongl I had a really clear idea of what approach
we would take. My family have also been crucial in inspiring the way Ongl
was formed. My husband is also a Designer, my brother a Carpenter, and
my father a third generation Director of a Builders’ Merchant, Towy Works,
in my home town of Carmarthen. Ongl is the culmination of all of the above
– a desire to apply learnt skills; a honed design approach and ethos; and
collaborate with others to design and implement meaningful, functional,
beautiful spaces for people and businesses to thrive in.

What's the most exciting and/or most successful project you've worked on to date?

Since setting up Ongl in 2014 we’ve had the opportunity to work with a
wide variety of clients, designing all sorts of spaces – Cafes, Bars, Shops,
Exhibitions, Installations, Community Spaces, Homes. I can honestly say
that every project we have taken on holds a special place in our heart, but if
I had to pick out the pivotal ones then Home byKirsty, Yr Hen Lyfrgell and

the Learning Lounge at Willows High School are up there. Home byKirsty
was the first official Ongl project – a retail interior design and fitout for a
design-led homeware and lighting shop. Yr Hen Lyfrgell was the biggest
project we’d taken on at the time – a full interior scheme for a multi-use
venue (Café-Bar, Shop, Offices, Conference space, Teaching Rooms) in a
Grade II listed former library in the heart of Cardiff city-centre. The Learning
Lounge at Willows High School has been one of the most humbling – a
design project that began as an educational tool to inspire pupils with an
interest in perusing a career within the built environment – and culminated
in the full refurbishment of the community centre attached to the school.

How often do you incorporate seasonal trends into your interiors? If non - what inspires you in the process?

I wouldn’t say we follow seasonal trends. Our approach is founded on the
premise that aesthetic beauty evolves from a thoughtful response to the
functional requirements of a brief, the narrative of spaces, engagement
with their users, and the use of honest materials, finishes and details.
Whenever we’re designing something, we’re always thinking about how it
can be achieved, how it will be constructed, what the junctions and the
fixings will be. Over the years we’ve become recognised for our distinctive
Ongl style – bold, contemporary, honest interiors; using shape, form, colour
and texture, letting the qualities of materials do the talking – teaming our
custom designs and makes with carefully curated selections of products,
furniture and furnishings; resulting in clean, cutting-edge interiors that fit
and evolve with their users.

What's your take on plantation shutters for interior design?

Things we look for in the products that we choose for our interiors are
simplicity, contemporary, refined design pieces, that aren’t trying to look like
something they’re not – fixtures, fitting and furnishings that know and are
confident in their function and so ooze beauty thanks to their carefully
considered form, materiality and fixing details. Plantation shutters fall
comfortably into the Ongl criteria!

How would you sum up your individual style in a sentence?

Contemporary, Abstract, Scandinavia inspired design that looks as good in
reality as it did on the drawing board.

Do you have anything exciting coming up for 2018?

2018 is set to be our busiest year yet, with lots of exciting projects in progress
and on the horizon – including a Dental Practice, a Live Music Venue, an office
refurb and private residences – all awaiting the Ongl touch

How Social Media, Bloggers and Apps Can Help You Decorate Your Home

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social media iphone cool shutters

Social media over recent years has experienced exponential popularity and is utilised by many for the most niche of industries. It offers us all a never ending mood board, exposing us to interior options we may not have known about or considered otherwise. As well as the obvious benefits such as visual inspiration – social media also acts as a place for people to discover ways to work smart, reduce environmental waste and save money when undergoing a renovation project. It’s these benefits that drive the need for new and exciting synchronocities between interiors and digital media.

When it comes to creative industries such as art and interior design, you’ll find that there’s an abundance of imagery and resources available on multiple platforms posted by bloggers, influencers and brands alike. These sources of imagery serve the purpose for interior design inspiration, whether you’re moving into a new home or updating your existing decor.

Decorating your home previously involved collating piles of interior design magazines together and sourcing a wealth of textiles from your local interiors stores. The process generally involved cutting and sticking pictures of furniture and fabrics together, which was both an artistic and time-consuming process. In our digital age however – we’ve taken a liking to decorating our homes from the palm of our hands. A simple capture of an image, upload or search into the various social media channels and apps can retrieve a plethora of results, eliminating any need for scissors and glue to collage your dream home.

Bloggers have also taken note of rising interior trends and have begun to incorporate this into their own content to both inspire and inform. They also make use of social media to expand their reach and share insight into how they decorate their homes. Bloggers give a personal opinion which many viewers opt to read due to its ‘humananised’ view of interior design.

Whether you’re a first time home owner or are in need for an interior refresh – our comprehensive guide will show you just how and why utilising social media platforms, bloggers and home planning tools will take your home decoration planning further than you’ve ever envisioned:

magazines cool shutters

How significant is social media for interior design?

Social media is a hub for quick shares and updates on every topic imaginable. This also means that account users are posting updates on new home purchases and finished results of their home decor. Social media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram provide a great place to store such imagery and encourage social sharing, connections and feedback, making them great resources for quickly collating inspirational imagery on your desired home.

What social media platforms should I be using?

There’s a myriad of social media platforms that exist, but using the right ones that provide an easy and user-friendly interface is the best way to get the most out of your search for interior design inspiration. Below are three of the most commonly used social media channels that are highly worth utilising for inspirational purposes:

Pinterest - A visual pinboard of design inspiration

‘Pin it’ is a phrase most commonly associated with the platform Pinterest. It’s a platform that very much works like a pin board you might already have in your own home or in the office. This virtual pin board allows you to create several boards in relation to your own goals (as well as keep your ‘pins’ organised). Your boards can be shared with other users should you wish to get an opnion from fellow followers, friends or family.

If pinning isn’t quite up your street, then Pinterest allows you to follow other boards that come up on your news feed, giving you an abundance of inspiration everytime you open the app.

Instagram - A visually powered platform

Instagram drives the most engagement per post. Users utilise ‘hashtags’ (#) to encourage other users searching their hashtag to discover their images. One of the many wonders of using platforms like instagram and pinterest is that they’re both visually powered. An endless amount of brands, bloggers and influencers live on instagram and share photos of their most appealing images to appeal to the masses. If you have a favourite interior magazine, designer or brand, it’s very likely they’ll have an instagram that you can follow for updates.

Instagram has a specific feature that allows you to follow hashtags (for example: #homeinspiration or #nordicinteriors) which will alert you of when new posts are added to Instagram with these hashtags added to users posts.

Twitter – Speedy updates from brands and consumers alike

Twitter is another platform that makes use of hashtags, its home to a wide range of interior designers, businesses and bloggers who share both visuals and articles on all things interiors. Tweets with images are 150% more likely to get retweets – increasing your chances of exposure to other sources of inspiration,

For even more inspiration, search through some relevant hashtags. #Decorating, #Textiles, #InteriorDesign, and more are easily searchable. Get creative with your searches, too. If you’re looking for some seasonal trend inspiration, for example, try searching the hashtag #seasonaltrends

How blogs help us with home decorating

Blogs are a major outlet tool used by independent bloggers and corporate brands alike. They’re an extended platform to share tips and views in great lengths that social media doesn’t allow the room for.

There’s a vast amount of interior design blogs all over the web ranging from vintage to modern interiors. No niche is too small and you’re guaranteed to find the most specific styles with a simple search on social media or Google.

Their ‘influencer’ persona inspires others to mimic their own home decor style

A realistic home space from an independent blogger with a knack and strong interest in interiors is guaranteed to give you a more realistic perspective on how to decorate your own home. A blogger might promote symmetry, asymmetry, quirky or balanced interior design (or maybe even fuse some of these ideals to give a unique spin on home interiors).

A blog on a corporate page on the other hand can offer you with expert tips on how to style their own products in different ways, inform you of their latest offers and gives you insight into their design processes.

They’re always on the hunt for the latest (or oldest) interior design inspiration

Bloggers are highly active on social media which exposes them to an array of online sources to derive inspiration for new interior-related articles. Bloggers are content creators which means they have to come up with new ways to stand out from the sea of other bloggers, meaning their content is innovative and fresh. They may even have a new spin on a classic interior trend that you haven’t thought of, which might end up being the basis for your own home.

It offers a more human perspective on interior design

It’s common knowledge that brands and designers want a heightened and sleeker look of their interior design products and ideas. As lovely as these may appear, it can often give unrealistic expectations to viewers and discourage those looking to refresh their home – due to their inability to completely emulate these images.

Bloggers on the other hand are highly adept to taking their own photos. This generally means their own interior design isn’t shot in a professional studio with expensive lighting and equipment – and it’s this DIY aesthetic that can give a viewer a far more realistic expectation of how to decorate their own home.  Bloggers are more likely to offer ‘tips and tricks’ to decorating your home in an easy manner compared to a brand that might be styling a set with unrealistic or highly expensive interiors.

The rise of virtual online tools and mobile apps for interior design

Virtual online tools for home planning completely replace the need for stacks of pictures and magazines of home decor. From the click and drag of a mouse you can completely style a desired image of your dream home or room, with some platforms even integrating total planning costs to give you an idea of investment.

However for the purpose of easy home decorating, a mobile app or two can be all you need to synergise the inspiration you’ve collated across your desired social media channels and bring your ideas to life. Mobile apps have become highly sophisticated over the years, so much so that you can completely plan a room from the palm of your hand and a swipe of a finger. A synergy of apps can be used to collate textures and colours whilst you’re away from a desktop – and can later be used to integrate into one of the virtual online tools previously discussed.

Mobile Apps for Interior Design

Home improvement can be an overwhelming process for even the most experienced designers with a big project on their hands. However it is now far easier with the use of specifically designed mobile applications to aid with furniture/interior placement, find patterns and pantones and ultimately help you decorate your home by yourself, eliminating the need of a professional.

The IKEA Catalogue is a free extension of its infamous home planner and is available on tablet and mobile devices. Its augmented reality makes it great for quick placements of products you might be interested in buying thanks to is 3D feature – bringing the IKEA catalogue even closer to your home.

It works by allowing you to search through their print catalogue and scanning the plus signs next to certain products with your phone, allowing you to place these products in a room of your choosing – as well as having a 360 degree room view and product videos to keep you informed.

Known in the interior design world as the “Wikipedia of interior and exterior design” – Houzz has a comprehensive database containing millions of home images at high-resolution, organised according to style, location and room.

To compliment these apps intuitive functions, it also provides advice from existing interior designers and its own social platform that encourages you to share, like and follow other users on Houzz. This functionality encourages discussion and can give you insight into different opinions (and even more inspiration for home decor).

Curate is considered rather niche on this list of recommendations due to the fact that its intended to serve a purpose for art-goers. With Curate you’re able to display a piece of art (should this be part of the home decor you’re going for) by simply uploading it and ‘placing it’ on a wall in your existing room.

An advantage of this app is it eliminates the risk involved with trying to imagine what a piece of art will look like on your wall. Though Curate is not quite augmented reality, it can be seen as ‘photoshop’ in mobile form due to its intention of providing a fairly concrete idea as to how a piece of art will display in situ.

10 ways to be eco-friendly around your home

10 Ways to be Eco-Friendly Around Your Home (Infographic)

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With the world’s ever-growing awareness in sustainable living – it’s no doubt that its sparked a plethora of articles ascertaining how we should reduce our carbon foot-print and live a ‘green’ life. Generally speaking, it’s hard to invoke change without others seeing the benefit for themselves which is why some are reluctant to make even the smallest of changes, as some people believe their actions won’t really make much of a difference.

In this post we’ve put together 10 tips and some fascinating research to help you make small changes in your home and lifestyle. These small yet simple steps can make all the difference in reducing your carbon footprint, saving energy and most importantly – encouraging a green, eco-friendly lifestyle.

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1. Don't heat an empty house

By programming your thermostat to turning on when you wake up, get in from work or just before you go to bed are sure fire ways to cut down on your energy bills (anywhere between 5%-15% a year) and conserve energy that wouldn’t otherwise be made use of.

2. Turn off unused electronics at their source

Having your TV or desktop on standby unfortunately still conserves energy that you could, lets say, use to heat up your home (or save an additional £80 a year on your electricity bills).

3. Insulate your house by starting with your floors

Carpets and rugs are often favored over hard-wood floors in times of cold winters, especially as solid, exposed flooring aren’t very useful for insulating heat.  If you don’t want to sacrifice the look of your hardwood floors by installing a carpet then a simple rug can make all the difference in insulating heat in your home (and tie your interiors together for a uniform look).

4. Make room for natural light

Natural light not only looks aesthetically pleasing and offer an array of mental and physical benefits. But it also means you’ll be less likely to turn on unnecessary lighting in your home. 

5. Cook with residual heat

Residual heat keeps things cooking even when the oven is off. (also known as “carry-over-cooking”). It’s a common method for gentler cooking and equalizes temperature throughout your food. Little did we know that it’s actually perfect for reducing energy usage whilst still cooking your food perfectly.

6. Use "green upholstery"

Foam filled sofas contain toxic flame retardant chemicals which is a real cause of concern. Look for materials such as recycled polyester, organic wool and organic cotton fillings – all of which are safer materials for your home furnishing.

7. Go paperless with your billing

Going paperless can reduce the demand for paper production in the long run – not to mention digitized statements are easier to track and have no tendency of being misplaced. Paperless billing also means you’ll have less to process for your recycling bin, keeping you organised and clutter-free.

8. Change your electricity-powered lighting choices

Halogen incandexcents, Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) typically use anywhere between 25%-80% less energy than traditional household lightbulbs. They come in a wide range of colours and last significantly longer too – meaning less trips to buy new light bulbs and changing them altogether.

9. Install a low-flow toilet fixture

For low-impact living, a low-flow toilet is an obvious choice to reduce water consumption. It is averaged that a family of four could save anywhere up to 22,000 gallons of water per year by using a low-flow toilet. It’s both advantageous for water conservation and household energy bills.

10. Fill your loft and wall cavities

Cavity wall insulation  fills gaps found between external walls in homes, trapping the warmth in to save energy on electrical appliances to heat the home. We highly recommend looking for suppliers that have anti mold, rot, sag or decay insulators as to not cause any issues for the future.

Q&A with Monica Lenore

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Based in Gloucestershire, Monica Lenore Designs is an award-winning interior designer featuring bold, textured and wonderful solutions for both commercial and residential use.

Originally born in the US – Monica’s authenticity comes to life in her interior designs due to her beliefs in injecting her own persona style to make any home truly stunning in appearance and functionality. She collaborates closely with architects, artisans and suppliers from around the world to bring your interior design ideas to life. She is passionate about renovation and communicates with her clients in every single process.

How did your interior design career begin and what sparked your inspiration?

I love surrounding myself with beautiful things and love good craftsmanship, colour and texture. I found it fascinating how easily my mood could change depending on my surroundings. I began to develop my interest formally and started with a small interior design firm who took me on as their first work experience candidate while I was still in school.

What inspired you to start up Monica Lenore Designs?

Most of my career was outside the industry. I qualified in Canary Wharf as a stock broker and opened my own office. It was a gorgeous Grade II listed building in a lovely small village but I found myself more interested in decorating my offices and meeting new clients than discussing inheritance tax planning. It was then that I returned to my true passion, changed career paths and opened my own design firm. It took time to retrain but was the best decision I ever made.

What's the most exciting and/or most successful project you've worked on to date?

We have purposely cultivated a diverse portfolio of commercial projects, among them include restaurants, bars, a coffee house and wine bars. Our luxury residential projects range from a Regency style penthouse to a Spanish Villa and everything in between. We couldn’t possibly choose one but we are incredibly excited and honoured to be chosen as the interior designers for the Sir Peter Scott House at the Slimbridge Wetlands Centre.

How often do you incorporate seasonal trends into your interiors? If none - what inspires you in the process?

Our designs are rarely seasonal and almost never trendy. Yes, we like to switch out cushions and throws depending on the season and certainly like to refresh a room occasionally, but we prefer design classics. We choose items that have stood the test of time and add in a mix of contemporary artwork and designer lighting to create a space that is timeless and reflects our client’s personality.

What's your take on plantation shutters for interior design?

Window treatments are a hugely important part of the design of a room. This offers the designer a chance to introduce another texture and layer to the space as well as control the lighting.

The importance of lighting in a room is fundamental to interior designers and a huge advantage of plantation shutters is that they allow you to create nuanced lighting. Using natural light can create dramatic shadows and gorgeous streams of light that you simply cannot achieve with curtains. We also love their timeless design.

How would you sum up your individual style in a sentence?

In every design we create, we bring a modern elegance and sophistication that focuses on simplicity but always with an eye to function.

Do you have anything exciting coming up for 2018?

We have a number of exciting projects coming up in 2018 but two that are really special. The New Year will see us be part of Phase 2 of a £500 million commercial development at the Gloucester Quays. We won a national design competition in Phase 1, for the design of the Provender reception and will now continue and expand our role in Phase 2.

The second will be working with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at the Slimbridge Wetlands Centre to convert Sir Peter Scott’s home into a luxury holiday let above his studio and to create a conference centre. A production crew will be following the Heritage Lottery Funded project and will capture our work along with others to create a documentary for television. It is going to be an incredibly exciting year for us!

Svetlana Filippova Interview with Cool Shutters

Q&A With Svetlana Filippova

By | Interior Design, interview | No Comments

Svetlana Filippova (Lana) was born in St Petersburg, Russia and is both an interior designer and painter.  Her talent for interior design began at an early age due to her natural interest in art by using paint as her chosen medium.

After graduating from an Aircraft Design course in her home city, she entered a variety of model aircraft competitions across the world before settling in the UK.

She was inspired by the textures of home furnishing and gained a new love for textiles. Her business now caters for all areas of interior designs from curtains to kitchens – and her well-traveled and cultural articulation gives her a unique edge to her approach in interiors.

How did your interior design career begin and what sparked your inspiration?

I have always been arty and creative from an early age, painting and re-designing my bedroom. But after school I took a more technical path and studied electronical and mechanical aircraft systems design. I still use my technical education in my current job on a daily basis. Once I moved to the UK in 1992, I pursued my interest in interior design having completed a two year course at College. After that I started working in the industry straight away. Now 20 years on, I also carry on with my artwork too, complementing interiors I create. 

What inspired you to start up Lana Filippova Interiors?

I have worked for other companies for a long time but I always felt constrained. I wanted to create a whole shopping experience with a beautiful showroom to match my ethos and my approach to design and lifestyle. I am pleased to say I have achieved this. I have a very good team working alongside me reinforcing my philosophy. 

What the most exciting and/or most successful project you've worked on to date?

The largest project isn’t always the most exciting. I find satisfaction in every project I do, to be honest. Just recently I completed a design and a fit out of a high end apartment on Buckingham Palace Road in London which is not “just round the corner” from us in Cheshire, presenting certain challenges especially that the client lives in Sydney. So there was a lot of e-mails going back and forth, but the project was successful and the client left me a lovely review on Houzz.co.uk Overcoming challenges and happy clients make the projects exciting. 

How often to you incorporate seasonal trends into your interiors? If none - what inspires you in the process?

I attend trade shows in Paris, Milan and London searching for the best and the newest products from around the World. I don’t follow trends, I feel I am ahead of them usually and I follow my instincts when deciding what products or manufacturers to take on board. 

What's your take on plantation shutters for interior design?

Plantation shutters can look very effective, uncluttered and chic. The space available for them must be considered but with unusual shaped windows they are sometimes the only option. 

How would you sum up your individual style in a sentence?

I would say that it is definitely not “shabby chic”, as I feel uncomfortable with clutter and chaos. In one sentence, my style is sleek, contemporary, elegant and timeless, but pushing boundaries at the same time, full of textures plaid against each other, where every item in the interior is an integral part of it. I take inspiration from my clients and at the end of the process, the interior I create belongs to them as much as it belongs to me. 

Do you have anything exciting coming up for 2018?

I have just got to the Final of the Northern Design Awards in several categories and with this in mind, I am excited to see what 2018 will bring. I always look forward to January and going to the trade shows in Paris and Milan. It’s the best shopping experience ever, as I can sours and order products from anywhere in the World, if I think they will work for my clients and will enhance interiors I will design next year. Great! 

The Top Autumn Trends To Replicate At Home

By | Interior Design | No Comments

Choosing a colour scheme or theme for your interiors can be challenging, especially for first time buyers new to the world of decorating their own home. Fortunately there are some exciting home interior trends that are not only incredibly chic, stylistic and functional, but are also very achievable regardless of your budget.

We’ve created a simple guide on selected winter trends that we think will be here to stay. Here are the top autumn trends for your home:

Bold colour and texture blocking

“Although ‘Greenery’ was Pantone’s 2017 Colour of the Year, for autumn/winter, dark shades of green, touching on emerald, will be more evident and are a great contrast with light floors or walls.”
The Emporium Somerset
colour blocking trend cool shutters

If your room is fairly neutral in colour –  add textured, patterned or coloured throws onto beds or sofas, or try dotting contrasting cushions or ornaments together can work wonders for detail If you’re a little scared to experiment with this popular trend, try adding neutral colours between your bold ones to keep overpowering colours at bay.

Geometric details

Chequered tiles have since been replaced by beautifully intricate geometric designs. Think mosaics, herringbone or basket-weave patterns in subtle accent colours like gold and silver. The most beautiful thing about this trend is it can seamlessly fit into any style of decor you choose.

Make it a statement or tone it down for those tiny but decorative features to your home.

Velvets

“Featuring predominantly on sofa and armchair upholstery, velvet brings a touch of opulence and luxurious comfort to both classic and contemporary interiors. Its thick pile and decadently soft finish works particularly well with black and rich jewel tones and is perfect for softening the striking silhouettes of Art Deco-inspired interior design schemes”.
Houseology

If you’re after contemporary textiles that are super soft to the touch and add that glamorous feel, then the velvet trend might just be for you. The dense pile of this fabric can come in a variety of bold or pastel colours, though for this season we recommend sumptuous warm colours like burnt orange and browns. If cold-colours are more your thing, then invest in jewel tones like sapphire, emeralds or fresh blush hues.

Monochrome

Monochrome made it to this list due to its timeless and neutral aesthetic, making it one of the strongest and most common trends of the season.

It’s a great theme for homeowners who aren’t keen on colour and are after a chic, clean yet strong and bold look. Over time this trend can easily be accented with tiny splashes of colour through other ornamental or functional decor.

Parisian

The French are known almost exclusively for their timeless style. It’s no wonder their interiors are a trend setter. You can imitate this look using blue jewel accents and ornamental lighting, filled with lots of neutral white and/or beige tones (especially on the walls).

The French love to mix the old and the new, so if you have any statement wooden drawers or decorative mirrors to hand then they’ll make fantastic center pieces in any room.

Nature-Inspired, Earthy Elements

“Natural materials and handmade artisanal products are key – such as rustic looking glazed ceramics in softer colours. And also beaten or antique-looking metals: brass, copper, nickel, gold and silver. A different, softer lighting suits this kind of theme – lanterns, lanterns and more lanterns are really on trend in all shapes and sizes – wood or metal.”
Azalee Interiors
nature inspired cool shutters

If you’re after a bright, pale and naturist feel imbued with soft creams, beige and various grey tones then this trend is right up your street. Pinecones may spring to mind however if you’re really wanting to channel this naturistic trend then we highly encourage thinking outside the box. 

Nothing quite beats the look of natural forms and materials in your home for a rustic, cosy feel. This trend speaks earthy elements, hand-woven textiles, ceramics, plants and a variety of wooden materials used in harmony.

Plants not only give an accent of decorative colour to your interiors, but they’re also perfect for purifying the immediate air around you of toxins. Consider easy-to-care-for plants like succulents for the bathroom or a statement weeping fig tree for the living area.

Accentual

accent pillows on neutral couch

We’ve mentioned this word a lot – however we don’t want you to think this limits purely to colour accents. This trend can be achieved by adding tiny details through various textiles and ornaments such as gold accents in drawer pulls or table legs, flower pots, shades, textured rugs, chunky knits or art-work placed at eye-level for easy viewing.

Nordic

nordic scandinavian cool shutters
“Scandinavian interiors are famously simple, neutral and uncluttered”
Rebecca Snowden at Furniture Choice

Yet another trend taking the world by storm and will be here to stay for many seasons to come. The Nordic lifestyle synergises cosiness and simplicity. Think simplistic organic materials such as wood and chunky knit – they also love to mismatch their pairings to add simple yet effective interest to a room. We recommend the ‘Lagom’ practice – the Swedish word for ‘just about right’, making it a great trend for minimalist enthusiast that want to step up from a monochromatic theme.

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