What do you do when you’re doing up your house, but can’t find any fabrics you like? Design your own of course. At least, that’s what Ellie Harrington did when she moved from London to the countryside and was unable to find anything she really loved for her Victorian cottage. “After wide research I couldn’t find a fabric that had a vintage yet fresh feel and I started to create my own designs,” she explains. “Having previously taught Art and studied History of Art, I was keen to use my knowledge of print and design to create a bespoke home. Also I love upcycling, the shapes and pieces of older furniture and the appeal of chateau shabby chic, so I began repainting items I found.”
Her self-designed prints and upcycled furniture were such a success that encouraged by friends and family, Ellie went on to set up the brilliant interiors company Duck Egg Designs, which is the place to go for vintage-inspired fabrics, beautiful retro-style prints and gorgeous upcycled furniture. Ultimately, Ellie wants to turn Duck Egg into a one stop shop for all things for the home and they are currently expanding their line to feature stationery and a wider selection of homewares in their signature prints.
“I adore helping clients create a rooms and have worked on many nurseries,” she says. “Much of what I do is designed with my little boy in mind. He is the test for whether the design makes it or not. If he recognises what I have drawn and likes it the print is approved!” A classic kitchen-table success story, Ellie is a genius when it comes to updating interiors the inexpensive, yet stylish way. We’re thrilled that she has agreed to share with us her tips on how to refresh your home.
The most effective way to change your room’s dynamic is to use paint, instantly refreshing a tired interior.
“The wealth of colour and depth of pigments is often confusing amongst the brands. Colours can make a room seem more spacious, so try the same colour on skirting, walls and ceiling to add height. Or use a grey or soft brown on walls to lower ceilings and add intimacy, which is useful in family rooms or bedrooms. We are fans of the broad spectrum at Little Greene, where there is a large choice of paints offering excellent coverage along with heritage colours.
- Try Little Greene’s ‘Salix‘ if you want to give your bathroom a coastal feel.
- Use paint to update ageing floorboards. I love Little Greene’s ‘Clockface‘ for pretty off white floors.
- Farrow & Ball also have a delicious range of pigment heavy shades, and with their new colours launched this week (including the inky ‘Stiffky Blue‘) they lend themselves to period properties and making statement rooms.
Reinvigorate your furniture
Heavy, dark furniture or strong varnishes can date an interior and this is where Chalk Paint can make a huge difference. Without needing to do much prep you can paint over dark wood and create a fresh and reinvigorated piece. Try Annie Sloan for quintessential paints and waxes. Autentico also offers beautiful shades, such as ‘Bleu-Gris’ with a chateau boudoir grey that sits well in a variety of settings and changes beautifully with the light.
- Try clear and dark waxes to shabby chic your furniture, rubbing back the paint in a few areas to add distressed elegance.
- Chalk paint is so versatile and is great for stencilling on furniture.
- Be bold and you will be glad you didn’t throw out those less than beautiful pieces.
Experiment with a picture wall…
Another alternative that is inexpensive and adds personality and character to a room is to experiment with a collection of vintage frames. If you need to, you can repaint, distress or wax them. Then, hang in vertical and horizontal groups as if you are imagining a giant jigsaw puzzle!
- Collect favourite images and don’t forget to measure before you add nails!
- Amongst your frames you might like to add vintage mirrors. Look for them in charity shops and don’t be put off by heavy gilt frames as Chalk paint can easily transform them.
- Look for classic ovals and pretty detailing to add interest.
- Mirrors will add depth and light to a room and are the perfect makeover tool, we offer a variety of beautifully updated vintage mirrors.
Think about wallpaper…
If you want to make a bold interior comment, yet don’t want to commit all your walls, a statement wallpaper on a feature wall adds pattern without overpowering the entire room.
- Perfect for nurseries and sitting rooms, wallpaper has a vintage feel, yet choosing a fresh print will make sure this feels up to date.
- Either create your own with easy non-stick backing of your own print or favourite photo, or choose from exciting new designs as wallpaper experiences a rightful Renaissance!
- We love Jane Churchill’s ‘March Hare’ and her classic children’s prints such as ‘Thomas the Tank Engine‘.
Fabrics are wonderful…
Our final tip for instantly updating an interior is to use fabrics to add softness and print to a room. The print will add new dimensions and the fabric will create a warm setting.
- Experiment with the neat elegance of Roman Blinds and sweep of patterned curtains.
- We use our range of Duck Egg fabrics and bespoke blinds and curtains with their modern take on nostalgic designs throughout the house.
- We also love vintage linens and classically French striped tea towels for bistro style curtains to add ambiance to the bathroom.
- If you’re in London, browse through the gorgeous ‘The Cloth Shop‘ on Portobello Road.