I want to redecorate my flat in a way that means that when I move, I can take as much as possible with me. How do I introduce pattern and prints because at the moment it's all rather plain?
Give in to the power of prints
I want to redecorate my flat in a way that means that when I move, which I will do within the next couple of years, I can take as much as possible with me. Most of all, I want to introduce pattern and prints because at the moment it's all rather plain. I'd like to do so with soft furnishings and accessories as much as possible; I am happy to make some fundamental changes but would like to keep them to a minimum.
I don't think it's possible to have too much print or pattern. As daunting as it can seem initially, once you've tried pattern I think it's very hard to go back. It adds instant lively zest to anywhere. I can't think of any home, room or even surface that wouldn't benefit from the addition of a beautiful print - except, perhaps, cars. The best way to introduce colourful print in a way that's both quick and noticeable is with curtains. Even if you think, "ugh, curtains, I'd much rather have blinds", remember that this is about the form not the function - and it is the best way to use a material that you love. Unless you are very good at sewing - curtains are much harder to construct than they seem - employ a professional. Make sure they are lined and interlined, and make sure they are at least two to three centimetres longer than the drop to the floor. Curtains always look better when they sit on the floor rather than just meeting it.
Wallpaper is another great way to introduce warmth and colour to a room. If you don't feel brave enough to do the whole room, just do one wall and paint the rest in a co-ordinating colour (that is, the background or most dominant colour of the wallpaper). Another good ploy and a little insider tip is to cover your walls in fabric. This way you can take whatever you create with you, because the fabric remains intact after you've detached it from the wall. The technique is pretty straightforward but get a professional to do it for you if you have any doubts.
Make sure that there is padding between the wall and the fabric: cushion padding is fine. Any robust but flexible fabric will work with this. Fix wooden batons to the walls with furnishing glue and staple-gun the fabric to the wood. Hide the point where the staples join with any braid or trim. In a bedroom, there is nothing I love more than walls, curtains and bedspread all in the same fabric. Our toile de poulet fabric would be perfect here (it's like traditional toile de jouy, but with chickens.).
There are no dos and don'ts. The only rule for prints is simply to begin by finding patterns that you absolutely love. The rest will flow from there. Don't think about what you should buy or what goes; once you've started, the colours and prints will dictate where you go. Don't stop until you are utterly thrilled with what you have done. My favourite kinds of prints are faded sprig-prints, monochromatic quirky designs such as French toiles, and off-black floral prints. Either try our own Cabbages and Roses prints for inspiration, or go to Bennison or Colefax & Fowler for their beautiful, classic country-house florals.
I always start with a colour theme, based simply on what I like. I naturally err towards pinks and reds as they are both always warm and bright at the same time and I find that they work well in most homes, although we have a new black-print collection that I find really pleasing - it works really well with bright yellow walls with masses of black-framed pictures on the walls. Blue is also a lovely colour to work with, especially faded blues. They support any prints that you use alongside them especially well.
Remember, a lot can be achieved with the small and easy things too. Never underestimate the power of a few printed cushions. They can happily complete or change the look of a whole room. Rich, loud colours on simple plain backgrounds always work, for hardly any investment. A throw on a sofa or used as a floor-length cloth on a table can make a huge difference. These are incredibly simple ideas but they mean that you can both take them with you in the future and change your present home with very little effort.
Emily Davies was talking to Christina Strutt, the founder of Cabbages & Roses, www.cabbagesandroses.com (international delivery available).