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Living, Homes

The Do’s and Don’t’s of Decorating

Derwent House

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Juliette Barrell, Creative Director at Derwent House shares her advice and top tips for creating beautiful interiors.

When it comes to furnishing your home, investing in well-made pieces using excellent materials will pay in the long run. Choose timeless classics and these will date less than any on trend or designer find.

Invest in the Best

The mainstay pieces to save for and invest in are a sofa, a bed and a dining table. It’s essential to do your research – discover how and where your chosen item is made, and then make sure you spend time trying it out and looking at the detail of finish; you can tell a lot about how well made a piece is by the attention given to the finishing. Check your chosen supplier sources materials sustainably, and offers a renovation service, so that when the time comes you can avoid landfill and have your piece refurbished.

Sofas So Good

A well-made sofa should have a hardwood frame built to your order to cater for any slight variations on seat depth and back height which will ensure proper comfort. A well-made frame will be glued and screwed and many suppliers provide a guarantee on the frame construction. This is important, as the frame is the skeletal structure of your sofa: the longevity of the frame will ensure your sofa can stand up to the rigours of daily use. Check to ensure the seat platform is coil sprung, and that layers of good quality padding materials are used, so you don’t feel the edges of the frame. When it comes to the final fabric covering check all patterns are carefully matched, and pleats on the scroll of an arm or the buttoning to a back is neatly finished. Choices of seat cushions and leg options are all essential to ensure your needs are met exactly.

Delcor have been manufacturing sofas and armchairs since the 1960s, quietly flying the flag for British craft and manufacturing. They have been awarded the Manufacturing Guild Mark (a mark of excellence awarded to Britain’s top furniture manufacturers). Their frames are guaranteed for 50 years and they offer full re-upholstery and renovation on their sofas and armchairs to ensure that your investment really does last a lifetime

Sleep on a Natural Mattress

Traditionally beds and mattresses were made from natural materials and many companies are returning to this fine tradition where layers of wool, cotton, coir and springs are combined to offer the perfect night’s sleep. Wool is an exceptionally comfortable and wonderful insulator, almost magically trapping heat when you need it and dispersing it when you don’t. It is also naturally fire-retardant and antimicrobial, making it free of chemical and dust-mites for the most natural night’s sleep you’ve ever had.

Naturalmat are makers of organic natural mattresses and beds. Each key material that goes into a Naturalmat mattress or bed has been carefully selected from certified, regenerative and sustainable sources to minimise environmental impact. Things are done differently at Naturalmat who have recently launched their Mattress for Life Initiative™. When the time comes, a Naturalmat mattress can be broken down into its component materials, each of which can be either composted, reused or recycled. With over five million mattresses going into landfill in the UK each year, it is reassuring to know that absolutely nothing will go to landfill when a Naturalmat reaches the end of its lifespan.

What’s in a Table?

Many people are looking for meaningful furniture pieces whose provenance they understand – rather than a standard item from a factory production line. The tables we use every day can be a celebration of some of the most talented furniture designer-makers working in Britain. Choose tables that demonstrate both excellence in design and the skills of the maker; where furniture making details are visually expressed as part of the overall design, be it the routed edge of a table leg; the exposed end grain of the timber; or the steam bent shape of a curve.

Buying from individual makers allows you to be able to interrogate the sustainability of the woods used – timbers should be from sustainable sources with certification from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

Heritage and Longevity

Resist the quick fix purchase and don’t compromise – it will be much more satisfying to gradually furnish your home with classic pieces which you love and cherish, that will last a lifetime, and which you can pass onto the next generation.

Where to Start

Take time to consider how you want to live in your home; what is important to you, how will you use the rooms and what are your priorities.

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Make a mood board to help you focus on working out what you like – colours, shapes, patterns textures and materials. Pick up samples and images and simply pin to a corkboard. This will help you build a picture and allow you to add and delete as plans develop. A top tip with fabrics is to place these on your board in proportion to how much is to be used – the sample for a scatter cushion needs to be small compared with the fabric for your sofa. This should give you a better idea of scale and impact. Existing furniture, antiques or reclaimed pieces can be worked into your scheme, take pictures and add to your board. Layering new with old adds personality to a room and avoids an over co-ordinated look.


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