In our interview series, we talk to our favourite bloggers about their trend predictions and styles. Here, we meet Lotte Brouwer...
1. Which trend would you like to see the back of – and why?
Let’s just say if I never saw another pineapple shaped object, pineapple shaped lamp, or flamingo patterned scatter cushion for the rest of my life I wouldn’t miss them! I think the interiors world has somewhat overdosed on the tropical theme – which is a bit cringe in itself, as anything ‘themed’ should be banned from interiors! A silly pineapple or flamingo object might be fine for a tropical ‘themed’ party, but there are more subtle ways to introduce the tropics to your home.
2. What’s the one styling trick or tip you couldn’t live without?
Symmetry, symmetry, symmetry. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you spend on your furniture and home accessories, if you space them out well and create symmetry you’re already halfway to creating an interior-designed looking space. It’s been proven that the most striking and beautiful faces in the modeling world are also the most symmetrical ones, and the same applies to the layout of a room. If one half of a room more or less mirrors the other half, the room will look balanced and beautiful. If you’re short on space (like I am), you can still create symmetry by having identical side tables on either side of the sofa, with identical lamps on each side.
For a bedroom design, wall lights on either side of a headboard look grown up and sophisticated, as do two identical bedside tables with identical lamps, and possibly even two cross legged stools at the foot of the bed. Then it doesn’t really matter where you source your furniture from or how much it costs – it could be reclaimed, handed down, or bought at auction on eBay, but with the help of symmetry you’ll create an interior-designed feel.
3. Paint or wallpaper – if you had to choose?
Wallpaper, hands down! Although it has a bit of a reputation for being old and dated, people often imagining chintzy rooms and floral patterns, wallpaper has had a modern facelift – and the latest prints and patterns revive and lift bland, dated rooms. And wallpaper isn’t limited to walls either – if you’re not feeling brave enough to dive in and cover an entire wall with pattern, you can just dip your toe in and wallpaper the inside of cabinets and cupboards and the back of shelves, or even the front of wardrobes.
4. Do you have any useful tips for getting your home or garden ready for summer?
We completely renewed our garden last year; laying down new patio slabs and new grass made a whole world of difference, as did the new fence panels. But even investing in some new garden furniture (keep an eye open for great deals in the sales) and an outdoor rug can revive a space. For something even more instant, make a hammock, swing seat or outdoor sofa even more appealing by swamping it in plump outdoor cushions and throws. You’ll never want to get up! Some festoon lights or outdoor fairy lights also add istant wow-factor in the evenings. These days you can get plenty of solar paneled lighting too, which you can stick in the ground to light up the path or driveway or fence or trees. I also tend to bring out potted plants during the spring and summer months, which I keep indoors during the winter months. A fire pit or chiminea creates such a cosy, intimate feeling in the evenings and is a must-have for outdoor evening entertaining. And drinks dispensers are a must! I’ve hosted a number of barbecues and drinks parties already, and each time I’ll just bring out the dispensers and fill them to the brim with easy-to-make big-batch party cocktails which the guests can help themselves to and keep themselves topped up throughout the evening.
As for your home – no need to buy anything extra. If anything, now is a great time to get rid of stuff! I’ve just finished my spring clean and dropped 11 bags and boxes of stuff off at my local charity shop. I feel so much lighter, happier, fresher and more organised because of it! It’s a bit of a pain to do – but also indescribably therapeutic.
5. What’s the most common decorating mistake you see?
Diving in with every trend. Yes, it can be tempting to cave with every trend and fill your home with yet another copper item, but these trends (copper, rose gold, tropical prints etc) will very quickly go out of fashion and you’ll be left with a room full of stuff you no longer want. It’s better to spend time discovering what your true style is – Pinterest is a great source of inspiration for this – and creating a moodboard that defines your style, and sticking to it as much as you can.
6. When decorating a room, where should you spend your money and where should you NEVER cut corners?
I love a good bargain, and luckily the internet is full of them (you can also find some on my lust list), and when it comes to furniture and accessories, I think it’s fine to cut corners and snap up a bargain. Why spend £5,000 on a sofa when you can find something similar £500? But when it comes to the physical structure of the house – the kitchen, the floors, the bathroom, the walls etc – you must NEVER cut corners. I’ve learnt the hard way by using cheap builders and cheap materials, and already everything is coming undone at the seams. The tiles in the bathroom are starting to wobble and come loose, the vinyl floor (which looked like real herringbone when they put it down) is starting to come loose and stick up at the seams, and the kitchen already needs replacing. It’s going to cost us more just to fix everything and get it done properly, than if we had just gone and done it properly in the first place!
7. What’s your favourite room in your home and why?
My study. I feel that I can get away with more colour and sillyness in this room as it’s my own and not used for entertaining, eating or sleeping. We consciously chose a very soft and neutral colour palette for our bedroom, and tried to make the living room fairly grown up and put together (the cushions matching the furniture and the art, whilst the walls and curtains match the ottoman etc), whereas in the study I’ve not followed the rules, and put down a bright pink rug that I loved and hung up a big papier mache giraffe head that I also love. It’s where I spend most of my time at home, so why not make it a room you love to spend time in?
8. Describe your style in three words:
Bright, homely and fun.
9. How would you give your garden/home a new lease of life without breaking the bank?
Do things yourself! Spend a weekend in the garden and invite friends or family over to help dig up the weeds, cut the grass, plant new bulbs, put down a patio, build your own barbecue, paint the fence, etc. It’ll keep costs down, it’ll be fun to do, and at the end of the day you’ll learn something and you can feel proud to say you’ve done it yourself!
Another way to decorate without breaking the bank is by replacing and redoing things that take up the most space. For example redecorating a bland or tired wall by putting up a gallery wall (this can be as simple as framing photographs and cheap posters or prints, or snapping up a few bargains in the sales on artfinder.com), or just painting the walls a new colour, putting down a new rug, or reupholstering tatty sofas in a new fabric.
10. Ever had an epic DIY disaster?
Most of my DIY projects have involved paint – and for good reason! If it looks rubbish (often the case, haha!) or ends up streaky or the wrong colour, you can just sand it down and paint over it. I’ve upcycled the pillar stand and a chest of drawers in my bedroom, the sideboard in my study, and the table and chairs in my dining area. If I get bored with anything I’ll just paint over it or give the chest of drawers or sideboards some new handles. You can’t go wrong!