Q&A with Gabrielle Blackman

Interior designer and regular on BBC1's DIY SOS Gabrielle Blackman answers your questions on how to create the perfect scheme for your space

TODO alt text

Planning on decorating your home this summer? Interior designer and regular on BBC1’s DIY SOS Gabrielle Blackman answers your questions on how to create the perfect scheme for your space.

Q: I have a beige and almost sage green colour scheme in my living room with bleached wood furniture, and I’d like to create a feature wall. The walls are all currently Almond White by Dulux – have you any ideas on how I can create something a little more exciting than just painting the wall a contrasting colour?

A: There is a stunning panoramic wallpaper at Anthropologie – it has grey etched trees and a sky printed on it, which would look amazing with sage green.

Q: My living room is quite small but I want to be able to include enough seating for a family, as well as plenty of space for a bookcase and media unit. How can I create a sense of space while also keeping the room practical?

A: If you have the budget, it would be great to get a good joiner in to create a shelf-lined wall to house your TV, media unit and books, plus two table lamps and some upholstered cubes for extra seating. This will leave the rest of the room free for your sofa and a rug. A good tip is to keep everything off the floor, which will make the space feel uncluttered and therefore larger.

Q: What trend should I look out for this season? I want to update my bedroom and need some inspiration on where to start.

A: Soft pinks are really hot right now, as well as dip-dyed linens in pastel colours. Team the pinks and soft pastel shades with white painted floorboards and accessories with abstract handpainted prints for a relaxed scheme that feels light and airy.

Q: I’d really like to create a feature wall in my bathroom using wallpaper, but am concerned that the steam from the shower will cause it to peel off. Is there something specific I can do to prevent this?

A: I love wallpaper in a bathroom – it can look wonderful. You can protect it with a matt varnish, but the best protection is good ventilation. Investing in a really good (and quiet) heat circulating extractor fan will ensure damp is kept at bay.

Q: My husband and I can’t seem to agree on bedlinen – he would be happy with plain, dark bed sheets, but I think they make the room too dark, and prefer lighter and brighter, patterned ones. Can you suggest a happy medium?

A: There are some great geometric prints around at the moment that would keep the light and fresh feel you would like. Why not try mixing a printed style with a dark plain knitted throw? West Elm has some great bedlinen and throws that will please you both.

Q: I have a couple of old armchairs that are getting a bit tired, so I was thinking of reupholstering them. I have a few basic sewing skills; how hard would it be for me to do this myself, or would you recommend I call in the professionals?

A: Upholstery is a real art, and there are lots of great upholstery courses where you can bring your own project along. I would recommend making some lovely loose covers instead. If you use a pretty French linen, it will be much more forgiving of any mistakes. Failing that, I would take them to a professional upholsterer.

Q: I’d like to make my kitchen feel bigger and brighter – can you suggest the best colour schemes and lighting?

A: Lighting is crucial to a successful kitchen scheme. Use under-unit lighting, which will make the room look wider and deeper. Pair these with dimmable recessed downlighters in the ceiling and, if you have room, a pretty pendant over a small dining table. I would be inclined to keep to a fresh white scheme and keep the colour in your accessories.

Q: We’re converting out basement into a lounge. It’ll have a bay window but it will be half-way below ground so will be darker. How would you make it still feel warm and inviting?

A: Sounds like a great project. Rooms like this will never be bright but they can be the most cosy and welcoming spaces. Don’t use an overly harsh lighting scheme to compensate – I would use lots of table lamps, maybe build a window seat in the bay, and use a timber floor, as this will reflect natural light but still be cosy.

For more expert advice and to get your question answered by a professional designer, keep up to date with Real Homes‘ regular live Facebook chats.