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Ask Your Friendly Neighbourhood Decorator

January 14, 2011 by admin

Please send your decorating questions with images to and I’ll do my best!  For rates and  consultations, drop me a line at

Back by popular demand – it’s Ask Your Friendly Neighbourhood Decorator!

Oh my gosh guys, I’ve gotten so many submissions (you’ll have to be patient with me)! I’m so excited about this section of the blog and hope I can help a few people out as we go along.

Next up, a proper ‘flat’ in jolly-old-England! Maretta writes from London with questions about her living/dining room combo.

First off, I LOVE the architecture of the space, especially the fireplace mantle and the curved arches. Maretta already has a fantastic Madeline Weinrib flatweave carpet and that will be the perfect ‘jumping off point’ for this space.

Maretta says she wonders about replacing the green sofa (seen in the bay window above) with a pair of chairs. That is exactly what I would do, and you can definitely find shapely, stylish and comfortable chairs – especially in London! The examples I’ve included here are from Restoration Hardware, since I don’t know too many UK sources, but they’ll give you the idea. They’ve got a neo-romantic vibe that will suit your flat, but are totally modern.

I like how you have a mix and match approach to your style and I think that suits that sort of Brit come-what-may nonchalance. I’d run with this and add some quirky lighting like this decoupage lamp from John Derian. It is an absolute fortune, but again you get what I mean style-wise. Maybe it’s time to do some crafting yourself? Hmmmm?

I find the mirror you’ve got above the fireplace distracting. I think if you like the whimsical curves you’ve got going on, just loose the black iron frame and do something like this one (example from Pottery Barn). I see vintage examples of these at yard sales all the time. I especially like if they have those mirror ‘liver spots’ of age.

The white walls are certainly working and the white painted trim is fresh and clean. But if you want to tie a whole bunch of different pieces of furniture together, paint is a great way to do that. I’d recommend either a soothing, dreamy grey-blue with a touch of green, OR a classic putty neutral. The blue doesn’t have to match your other pieces, it will continue that eclectic, boho style a little further and wrap all of the disparate elements up in to one whole.

Maretta also wondered about her dining table, which needs to seat a few people for dinner parties. She dreams of a Saarinen tulip table, but it’s not in the budget. I actually think your rectangular table functions quite well and helps divide the space. A round table might take up too much real estate. One of my favourite clean modern tables comes from Ikea and costs under $70! I’ve used it on photo shoots with very expensive chairs to great effect – you’d never know it was a bargain.

For dining chairs, I think you should mix it up. You could either paint your existing chairs in some glossy paint OR you could add a nice natural note with woven grass chairs like these from Ikea.

Finally for the coffee table requirement, Maretta, I would avoid something too big and bulky. I’d consider a pair of stools with flat tops so you can still place down a good cuppa. These mirrored stools are from West Elm and they would add a nice sparkle and contemporary element to your flat. They’d contrast nicely with the vintage looking chairs and they wouldn’t cover up your beautiful rug too much.

So there you have it! Hope that helps you Maretta, and in case you’re wondering how I know about a cuppa, it’s because Sara and I (and our friends Samantha, James, Kristin, Ryan, Anne Louise and Jon all) watch Coronation Street! We’re like a million years behind and Gail is just going to prison! Bah!


  1. Maretta says:

    I just got the surprise of my life when I clicked onto this post and saw my living room. Thank you so much and sorry about the terrible photographs!

    I haven’t had a chance to read this in detail (I’m supposedly working) but am hugley looking forward to having a proper look tonight (over a cuppa 😉

    Thank you!

  2. great suggestions! i need to find myself a madeline weinrib rug…

  3. Mary says:

    Window treatments & getting rid of all the clutter would go a long way also.

  4. Irene Szabo says:

    Hi Michael,
    I have a question for you and am still wondering what I need to do to send you pictures.

  5. Erin says:

    And Molly’s pregnant! Love Coronation Street!

  6. Maretta says:

    I love that you’ve been so kind as to call what’s going on in this room Boho.

    I really like the lamp but definitely won’t be spending that much! Craftiness here I come….

    Totally agree about the mirror, I’ve been trying to convince my husband to get rid of it and I’m just going to go ahead and do it!

    I wish we had West Elm here those stools are sensational!!!

    Mary -I agree the clutter definitely has to go. I inherited most of the furniture and ALL of the clutter from my husband and it’s a battle to get rid of it but that’s what I’m attempting to do now…

    Sundeep – the rugs are a bit pricey but so pretty.

    Huge thanks for the suggestions, I see a trip to Ikea coming up and I’ll try and send you some after pics…or maybe during so it doesn’t take too long!!

    I’m afraid I don’t watch Corrie but I’ll give it a go!

  7. Michael, I’m so excited to discover that you have a blog! I love your work at house and home (I read the blog and watch the online TV). Your new blog is great and I love your portfolio. Looking forward to reading more!

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