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Interior designer Charlotte Starling on giving your home a makeover this New Year

PUBLISHED: 15:46 22 January 2014 | UPDATED: 15:46 22 January 2014

Katharine Davies

Wanting to give your décor a makeover? Interior designer Charlotte Starling tell you how to achieve maximum impact for minimum outlay

With the bleakest winter months still ahead, and the Christmas decorations packed away, settling back into reality after the festivities can be tough. In an attempt to kick-start the New Year and re-energize, some find this a good time to detox or join a gym. Personally, I like to re-arrange the furniture and give my home a mini makeover. With a little ingenuity and imagination, you’d be amazed at what can be achieved on a shoestring budget.

One of the easiest ways to re-invigorate a room is to move the furniture around. Given some thought this can dramatically change the look of a space and the process will throw up all sorts of other possibilities.

Before you start, it helps to draw up a simple plan and place all your existing furniture, lighting and rugs. Be brutal and ditch anything you don’t love anymore or you feel you are shoehorning in. This will give you an idea of what you have and what else you might need - maybe you could install a new bookshelf, or change the curtains? Don’t be afraid to move large pieces like chairs and sofas away from walls. This will create flow and make the room instantly more inviting. A room with all the furniture pushed against the walls feels bland.

For a room to feel enticing, it needs to be visually stimulating. You want the eye to be led around, not focus on one thing. Add variations of height with lamps, furniture and accessories at different levels. Make use of natural focal points like fireplaces or windows, for example by placing seating either side of a fire. If you’re struggling with a featureless box-like room, try defining an area with a rug, or a statement piece of furniture. Or create a feature wall by hanging a large painting or wallpaper.

Adding pattern, colour and texture will result in a warm and welcoming room. Layering up cushions and throws is a good way to change a space. Lie sheepskins along the back of sofas or across beds to cosy-up to.

“The easiest way to change your look is with accent cushions and accessories,” says Henriette von Stockhausen of VSP Interiors. “I advise my clients to have their cushions with different sides, either colour or fabric, that way they get variety by just turning them round.”

Big bunches of flowers in vases are another simple but effective way to take the colours of a room in a new direction. Pay attention to lighting. Use lamps to throw soft pools of light and add glow with candles. A selection of mismatched candlesticks pulled together with candles in the same colour is a glamorous addition to a mantelpiece.

To turn a house into a happy home, what is in it should reflect your personality. If you’re uncertain of how to define your style, buy some magazines and rip out anything that catches your eye. Before long you will notice themes start to emerge. Another great source of inspiration is Pinterest. ( This online scrapbook is fantastically addictive and a fun way to compile ‘boards’ of ideas you love. My general rule of thumb is that if you run with your instinct, you won’t often go wrong. Have a look at some of my boards at To see the Pinterest board for this piece click on New Year, New Room.

It’s not realistic to endlessly change the look of your home, but it’s good to remember you can alter the details regularly. And it’s the details in a room that make it special.

About Charlotte

Charlotte Starling is Creative Director of Velvet & Dash Interiors based near Dorchester. A keen supporter of local businesses, she works with Dorset-based designers and artists to offer styling and sourcing services for the home. Find out more at or call 01300 320 657.


Colour Trends for 2014 with Farrow & Ball

While most people are turning their attention to Christmas, we’ve been thinking about the New Year and what new trends we’ll be seeing in 2014.

Instead of picking just one colour, we decided to give people a choice of four - Cooking Apple Green, Mole’s Breath, Purbeck Stone and Stiffkey Blue. While all these colours have been chosen to be used individually, the one thing they do have in common is that they all draw their inspiration from the natural world.

The first two of our new key colours, Cooking Apple Green and Mole’s Breath, are inspired by the natural landscape which they inhabit. Cooking Apple Green is an extremely organic colour which can create a relaxing environment, especially when paired with Green Ground and All White. Alternatively, Mole’s Breath has an earthy feel about it and really comes alive when combined with Shaded White on the ceiling and Off-Black as an accent colour.

Our two other key colours - Stiffkey Blue and Purbeck Stone - take their inspiration from the British coastline. Stiffkey Blue is reminiscent of the extraordinary colour of the mud found on a beach in Norfolk and is perfect for use in both urban and country settings. The strength of this blue can create a fashionable, dramatic interior which is contemporary and relaxed. Purbeck Stone, inspired by Dorset, is one of our slightly stronger neutrals and is brilliant for creating a relaxed and versatile scheme. Try using Purbeck Stone walls, Cornforth White woodwork and Ammonite on the ceiling to create a scheme that really flows.

After a busy year and hectic December, these four colours are just what you need to create tranquil schemes that you will be able to relax in for 2014.

Sarah Cole, Marketing Director (


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