Balance Design Featured on Houzz!

Balance Design was recently hand-picked by a writer for none other than HOUZZ –  to be featured in an editorial ideabook on their homepage!

6 Ways to Highlight Your Fireplace With Wallpaper

“Here are six of my favorite ways designers use wallpaper to highlight a fireplace, plus a few tips on installation.

Wallpaper the facing

The immediate exterior walls surrounding your fireplace are the easiest place to start.

When it comes to wallpaper, the cost can add up, which is why choosing to showcase a particular aspect of any room — a single wall, a nook or, in this case, the facing above a fireplace — makes a statement without having to deal with the cost of a wrapping the whole room in wallpaper.

By wallpapering the facing, you not only will make the fireplace the focal point, but you also will make it an even more enjoyable place to curl up with friends, family or a cup of tea.

Many of my clients search for a paper to match the room, but in the end, I find that most clients wind up being inspired by a particular wallpaper they love and then create the rest of the room around it.

The takeaway: There is nothing wrong with basing your whole room’s design on a wallpaper you find. In fact, it happens that way more often than not for me and my clients. And once you pick a paper, you can quickly move forward with the other fireplace accessories, such as mantel decor.”

See the entire article on HOUZZ!

Chevrons: point out a new direction


Looking round the new collections of the big interiors fabric houses there has been a quiet resurgence of an old favourite, chevrons are back in fashion.  This is a trend that has been growing from the floor up, with parquet making a return in both traditional and non traditional mediums such as vinyl, marble and concrete.  Oversized planks are a modern twist on this old favourite, with distressed or whitened planks a favourite in huge herringbone patterns.   The twist to a traditional look allows you to fuse old and new together to achieve a look that is both forward looking yet rooted in the past.

Chevrons look great on cushions and rugs if you just want a little of their cut and thrust in your interior.  Clarke and Clarke has some very reasonably priced styles or check out Etsy for some real budget finds in primrose yellow or peacock blue.

Curtains or blinds can look fabulous with chevrons, giving a very graphic, horizontal line across a room that works great if you’re looking to widen out a tall, narrow room by optically pulling the ceiling down.

And if you like the look but find chevrons a bit too sharp for your current style, then look at some of the softer versions with ombred or blurred lines that look great in boho or ethnic interiors.

Austerity Chic – Viva la Revolution!


The industrial look so beloved of hipsters from Hoxton and Brixton brasseries is a God send for those decorating on a budget or wanting a funky family-friendly home.

I often advise clients about choosing an interior design that will work with the inhabitants rather than against them.  One of the key considerations is ‘do they have children or pets’?  If the answer is yes, then industrial is a great look as it allows for all the eclectric stuff that children collect to sit happily within the overall framework without irritating parents who are trying to keep a home on message …  Families on a budget can trawl ebay or freecycle for preloved items of furniture and existing items can be recyled with a coat of paint, a bit of wallpaper added to door panels, that old battered leather sofa of Aunt Polly’s given a space, wooden stools from a car boot sale – all can be incorporated into this inclusive, low maintenance look.  Spilt Ribena, crushed up rice cakes, a patina of dog hair will simply enhance the ambiance and allows for less stressed border patrols between parents, children and the furnishings.


Substance rules style in this look.  Blackboard paint on a kitchen wall is easy to apply and hugely practical, combining shopping lists with toddler sketches that can be wiped clean at the end of each day.  Sack cloth cottons, hemp and faded Persian or Dhurry rugs mean your curtains and floor coverings don’t need to break the bank.  Light fittings are metallic and minimal with stripped wood floors or coir, sisal or jute to dampen the noise if you have a leasehold property and are not on the ground floor.


Colour palettes combine deep shades of grey, prussian blue, walnut or calico white with accents of mustard, citric green or burnt orange to give you a look that has depth and presence.  Areas that are light starved are embraced in these deep shades, or if the darker tones feel too full on, opt for a lighter tone of the shade with deeper tones in the furnishings.


Collections of framed pictures, postcards, plates or even a bicycle hanging on a hallway wall will make this look your own – the trick to keeping the whole design working together is to choose your colour palette with care and to think bold and old but with discretion – not everything deserves a seat at your table!




Cost Effective Interior Design – how to choose and use an interior designer

0810-016An interior designer used to be the preserve of the rich and famous.  However, as the design process has been showcased more and more in the media, people have become accustomed to seeing and wanting their homes to reflect their lifestyles and fashion preferences at whatever end of the social scale they currently inhabit.

Choosing an interior designer is similar to choosing a builder, architect or other home specialist.  You want to search for someone that works on projects similar to yours in scale and budget.  If you have a property in Belgravia which you are looking to completely refurbish, then someone that has worked on similar projects makes sense as they will have the contacts and contractors that specialise in high end living and finishes.  If you are more mid range, then choose a designer whose projects reflect the scale of your work or works in similar locations to that in which you live.
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Even mighty oaks grow from a single acorn …

If you are just starting out or in a rental property, a designer can still be a cost effective asset if you employ them to design a keynote room such as the sitting room, master bedroom or kitchen.  Your designer will help you set the design framework – the colour palette and overall style – and after the initial design project has been completed, you can use the lessons, colours and style choices made in the first room to work out the rest of the scheme for your home. Rental properties can also be given the wow factor with removable items such as cushions, wall decals, lampshades and throws that can be taken with you at the end of the tenancy.
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Relationship advice …

The relationship between designer and client is key and both sides need to play their part.  A good design starts with a good brief.  Think about what you want the designer to help you create.  Use resources like Houzz and Pinterest to pull together mood boards featuring colours you like, furniture styles you lust after, rooms that you wish to recreate.  These will all help at the brief to ensure that when you tell the designer you ‘really love peacock blue’, they know exactly the tone of blue you are thinking of.

Likewise, if there are interested parties that will have a say in the final approval of a design, get them involved in the initial briefing.  It will save on rebriefings which can cost money if the design is almost finished and your partner tells you they really don’t like the industrial chic you have commissioned.

Try and be as open as possible about what you like and don’t like. It is daunting sometimes to lay your home open to an expert eye, but any designer worth their salt should be looking at your home through the eyes of a professional, not judging your collection of furniture for style or colour fails – think of it like going to the doctor! You shouldn’t feel overawed by your designer but more like they are a trusted friend who will give your their best advice, even if they are telling you that the fabulous Smeg fridge you really, really want simply won’t fit in the space available in your kitchen.
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Budgets, timelines and all the numbers stuff …
A successful design will help you achieve the look you want at the price you can afford. Think of the likely pieces of furniture you want included in the design and a thumbnail idea of what each item might cost. Add these up and then add another 20% as a contingency for a piece that you might wish to spend a bit more on for exactly the right fabric. Work out how many rooms will need painting and make a rough estimate of the likely costs for getting a decorator in to do the work. Finally, add the design fees for your project which you should be able to assess either from the designer’s website or via an initial chat over the phone. Add these three totals together and you have an idea of the project budget. These figures won’t be exact, but it will give you a ball park figure to help you and the designer know what your wished for spend will be for the project.

Timelines are also important. If you want the work complete before a family holiday, its important to ensure you start the project early enough to allow all the elements sufficient time to be completed, preferably not at breakneck speed with handbrake turns at every junction! Stress is very often built into a project from the start, simply because enough time hasn’t been allowed to ensure that there is enough slack for small interruptions/delays and that all the elements have been booked well in advance. The best time to get a designer on board is when you are commissioning the architect if you are doing structural work. Having a designer to help work out the furniture layout will optimise design solutions such as pendant bedside lights that would be expensive to install after the build is complete.

For my part I usually work on around 2 weeks between brief and a directional meeting where initial concepts are discussed and the client chooses their prefered fabrics and furnishings. I allow a further two weeks to finish and mount design boards but these leadtimes can change depending on the volume of work going through my office at any one time. The same is true for bespoke items such as curtains and sofas which are normally around 6 weeks but can be more if you’re ordering in the run up to Christmas, with similar time frames on lighting if it is being shipped from Italy or elsewhere abroad.

Good planning, good briefing and a good relationship are the key to a hassle free design process. With those on board, you’re well on your way to a great looking home that hasn’t given you a heart attack getting there.