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Decorating and DIY TIPS

  1. The Handmade Fair 2017

    The Handmade Fair 2017

    The Handmade Fair are bringing their weekend of creative fun to Ragley in Warwickshire on 12th-14th May and we are delighted to be involved as sponsors.

    Hosted by Kirstie Allsopp (Friday), Liz Earle (Saturday) and Patrick Grant (Sunday) - you'll be learning from the best in the business!

    There will be live craft-offs and talks in the Super Theatre and feed your creative cravings with interactive Skills Workshops and Grand Makes sessions. With a Shopping Village packed with beautiful handmade products there's everything you need for an unforgettable day out!

    Tickets start at just £10 and as a special offer for our customers quote code HMFINTERIORS when booking to save £3 on Full Experience Tickets.

    Find out more here >

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  2. The Homebuilding & Renovating Show

    The Homebuilding & Renovating Show

    Wesley Barrell Interiors will be exhibiting at the Homebuilding & Renovating Show in March at the NEC, Birmingham.

    Self-build specialists, renovation experts and leading brands are all under one roof. Discover the latest products, understand how to maximise your budget or seek an architect's opinion. From small plots to big builds, the show is the place to pick up tools and tips from the brightest and best in the business.

    Find out more >

    Free Tickets - to receive 2 free tickets for entry to the show simply register your details on the website at the link below (terms and conditions apply)

    Register now >

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  3. Wallcoverings and decorating tips

    Wallcoverings and decorating tips

    Consider the quality of the walls to be covered - are there cracks or uneven areas?

    Consider the shape of the room - are there any awkward corners - are the walls level and true - do the corners meet at right angles (if not, forget striped wallpapers!) Always paint at least a square metre area of wall in your proposed paint colour, and look at this at various times of the day, to see it in different lights. Likewise with wallpapers, obtain the largest sample you can, and then pin this to your wall.

    Wallcoverings are returning to favour again, particularly the use of striking designs for feature walls. Combine these with coordinating plainer wallcoverings or a paint finish in the rest of the room. Consider carefully the size of your room, in particular the height of your walls, when choosing the scale of the pattern of your wallcovering.

    How do I calculate how many rolls of wallpaper I need?

    1. Measure the width of your wall and then divide this figure by the width of your chosen wallpaper. Round this number up to the nearest whole, and this is how many drops of wallpaper you need to cover the wall. Please check with your decorator though, as often they start in the centre of the wall and so you may need an extra drop per wall.
    3. Calculate the height of the wall and divide this by the pattern repeat of the wallpaper. Round the number up to the next whole number, and this is the number of pattern repeats per drop you will need.
    4.Divide the length of the roll of wallpaper (usually 10.05m, but check as this varies) by the length of the drop (in whole repeats) and then round this number down. This is the number of drops you can get from each roll of wallpaper.

    With regards adhesive, as a general rule of thumb, one kg of ready mixed paste is usually sufficient to paste one standard size roll.

    Can I use ordinary packet wallpaper paste rather than the ready mixed adhesive the suppliers recommend?

    Most wallpaper companies will recommend their own ready mixed tubs of adhesive, and we confirm that it is very important to follow these recommendations.

    Ready mixed tubs of adhesive contain a far greater percentage of glue than the standard packets of paste which contain mainly starch.

    Some manufacturers also recommend different types of paste, depending upon the composition of their wallcoverings.

    Hanging instructions are included in each roll of wallpaper, and if these are not followed or you do not use the suppliers recommended paste, you may not achieve the finish you were expecting when hanging your wallpaper, and there would be no recourse to either ourselves or the wallpaper manufacturer.

    If no particular paste is specified, we would recommend a good quality, ready mixed wallpaper adhesive.

    What is reverse hanging of wallpaper?

    This is when every alternative strip of wallpaper is hung in the opposite direction. The first strip is hung as it comes off the roll, then the second strip is hung 'upside down'. The third strip is hung the same as the first, the fourth hung as the second and so on. Reverse hanging is done to minimise any shading variances that may occur when hanging plain paper

    How to hang wallpaper

    • Remove old wallpaper with a stripping knife and warm soapy water. Thicker wallpapers will require scoring to break the surface and allow water to penetrate. For best results, soak the wallpaper, let it dry and soak again. Work from the top down as the water will run down the wall soaking in as it goes. Use a stripping knife to remove the soaked wallpaper. Once the majority of paper is removed, allow the walls to dry before going over again with a stripping knife to remove any remaining backing paper.
    • If using a steam stripper, work from the bottom up as this allows the steam to rise, loosening the paper at the top. Use a stripping knife to remove the paper when loose.
    • All holes and cracks should be filled and smoothed flat. On particularly bad walls, lining paper should be hung horizontally to provide a base.
    • As many walls are never truly square, a plumb-bob should be used to mark a vertical line. Hold the string on the wall and, once steady, mark the wall with a pencil using the line as a guide.
    • Mix paste according to manufacturer's instructions in an appropriate container.
    • Place a length of paper, measured to overlap at both ends, design face down on a suitable pasting table. Allow a small overhang over the nearest edge and one end.
    • Cut the paper to size allowing a 50mm overlap at both ends.
    • Apply the adhesive with a large paste brush spreading evenly over the area except for 300mm away from the far edge of the table. Reposition the paper to overhang the other edge of the table and paste the remaining area.
    • Now fold the paper onto itself leaving the remaining area to be pasted, then fold the bottom length onto itself so that the two edges are almost touching. You can then pleat the large section of paper so that you can move and transfer it without fear of damaging it.
    • Slide the paper onto the wall against the line then unfurl the folds you made when pasting.
    • Smooth out the paper using a paperhanging brush or sponge by brushing outwards from the centre. It is preferable to work from the top down.
    • Push the paper into the edge of the skirting board and at the ceiling making a crease along the paper.
    • Then peel back and cut along the crease with paperhanging scissors or a trimming knife.
    • When hanging a patterned paper measure the second piece on the wall against the first. Match up the pattern against the first ensuring the edges are butted against each other.
    • Subsequent pieces should be butted against the previous but not overlapped and the edges sealed by lightly rolling them with a seam roller.

    How do I calculate how much paint I need?

    To work out how much paint you will need to paint a room, follow this simple calculation:

    Measure the length of each surface and multiply by the height.

    This will give you the square metre area (e.g. a wall which measures 5 metres long and 3 metres high will give you a wall surface area of 15 sq. metres).

    Add all the wall and ceiling areas together to calculate the total surface area for emulsion. Add all the metal and woodwork areas together for gloss. Then refer to the chart at the back of this booklet to see how many litres of each you require.

    Don't forget to deduct doors and window areas and remember that you made need two coats of paint.

    How to paint walls & ceilings

    • The easiest way to paint a room is to work from the top down. Start with the ceilings then paint the walls before finally the woodwork. Your project will look more professional if you complete each section in one go, a half-finished wall or ceiling will leave a drying mark which will remain visible even when painted over.
    • When painting a ceiling it is important to consider how you are going to safely reach the surface to be painted. Where you need to paint into the corners or 'cut in' with a brush, you will need a sturdy pair of step ladders which allow you to paint without the need for any over reaching. Paint around edges and into corners with a suitable size paint brush.
    • Once the brush work is complete, the safest and quickest method for painting a ceiling is to make use of a roller with an extension pole incorporated into it or a roller frame which will accept a separate extension pole.
    • Paint the ceiling in strips making a particular effort to ensure even application near windows, which can accentuate any faults in the finish.
    • Painting a wall is much the same as the technique used for a ceiling. Cut into corners and edges with a paint brush first to ensure neat and straight lines.
    • Using a roller with an extension pole attached makes the task much easier and allows extra reach if you are painting tall walls. Paint the wall using multi directional strokes to achieve even coverage. 
    • Brush painting with an emulsion or wall brush is slower and tends to create a finish with brush marks present. If application by brush is preferred, apply even coats to the wall using long vertical strokes.

    The professional advice above is from the experts at Harris. For more information on Harris and Harris products please visit or follow Harris on

    Disclaimer: The information on this website is provided free-of-charge, and you acknowledge that it would be unreasonable to hold us liable in respect of this website and the information on this website.

    Whilst we endeavour to ensure that the information on this website is correct, we do not warrant its completeness or accuracy; nor do we not commit to ensuring that the website remains available or that the material on this website is kept up-to-date.

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  4. iliv blog post - Become a new master of old French country

    iliv blog post - Become a new master of old French country

    Inspired by the rolling French countryside, the French country guise is understated yet refined. It’s not hard to see why those with a sense of style from across the UK are mirroring the look with distressed furniture, layered fabrics and neutral colour palettes.  

    This style appears welcoming in autumn and winter and fresh in spring and summer so it’s a look which can be amended all year round. Here’s how to introduce into your home.

    Faded charm

    Use fabrics in neutral colours such as whites, nudes and beige and team this with some warm coloured throws and cushions in winter. Opt for vintage wallpaper to create a feature wall, cornflower blues, warm reds and pastels all go well with off white or beige furniture. 
    To create the perfect French country bedroom select linen pillowcases with hand crocheted edges or ruffles. Use stone and light wood rather than marble and mahogany, this style is all about letting the light in with items faded and worn.

    Well worn

    If you have a chunky dark piece of furniture, it’s easy to make it appear distressed. To prepare the wood, spray and clean with sugar soap then use Owatrol ESP, available from Brewers. Following this, select a Chalk Paint which is water-based and formulated specifically for painting furniture and floorboards. Allow two coats so you can shade. You’ll also require a layer of wood-finishing wax to allow the paint to absorb. Finally to create the ‘shabby chic’ look rub glass paper on the naturally softer areas, you’ll have a worn piece of furniture as a result.

    Vintage rose

    With your space now looking light and airy it’s time to bring in some pastels. Look for old vintage baskets, wrought iron shelves and distressed wine boxes then fill with fresh or fake roses in creams, dusky pinks or light mint. 

    French script 

    In terms of accessories, try adding a hint of French calligraphy to really put a stamp on the style. Subtle French script cushions or framed script or sheet music will complement the neutral tones. If you would prefer adding more texture, this calligraphy rug.from iLiv really makes a delicate French Country declaration. 

    Home sweet home

    French Country works well in kitchens and bathrooms too. Think roll-top pedestal bathtubs, elegant towels and off-white walls to create a luxury bathing setting. To mimic a French country kitchen, team light painted units with wooden worktops. The focus of the room should be a light worn or grainy dresser complete with ornate bronze or metallic handles. Try adding wire grille panels to give it a real live-in feel. Bon apetit!

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  5. iLIv blog post - Cosy up your home for winter

    iLIv blog post - Cosy up your home for winter

    During the winter months, we love feeling cocooned from the cold in a room that’s cosy and welcoming. It’s surprisingly simple to kick the winter chill using your décor, so stoke the fire, snuggle up, and read our favourite ways to warm up your home for the winter.


    Work with warm colours

    It may sound obvious, but warm hues go a long way in creating a sense of comfort. You don’t need to redecorate your entire room for winter though – bring in warm and wealthy colours using decorative pieces, accessories and throws to develop an inviting, snug environment. Neutral colours with accents of other warm colours work well, and shades of brown in particular invoke a natural, earthy sense of security. Mix with pumpkin orange, moss green, slate grey or even plum purple, as well as shades such as burgundy, mustard yellow, blue-grey and khaki. Be careful to use strong colours sparingly though, otherwise your space could feel more dark and dingy than warm and welcoming.


    Layer textures

    The words ‘winter fabrics’ probably conjure up images of chunky knits, soft cashmere and faux fur – and with good reason. These textiles are practically synonymous with cosiness and create instant winter warmth, especially when contrasted against ‘colder’ fabrics such as linens, leathers and silks. Accent a cool leather sofa with knitted cushions, inject immediate snugness to your linen bedding with a cashmere throw, and add a plush rug to a hardwood floor. Remember textures aren’t limited just to fabric, a textured wallcovering like iLiv’s Imperio wallpaper will create a multi-dimensional look and is a great option for those people who don’t like to overload on accessories.


    Get the perfect glow

    Clever use of atmospheric lighting can create a cosy feel in such a subtle way that you aren’t even aware of it, especially as the nights draw in and natural light is in short supply. Layering is crucial to effective illumination, so create pools of light by complementing your overhead lighting with table lamps, wall sconces and even floor lights. For a warmer look, make sure you choose bulbs which give off a softer, golden light rather than stark white, and invest in dimmer switches to really control the mood. Finally, there’s no better way to create that inviting winter glow than through firelight. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a real fire then fill your fireplace with a few pillar candles and vintage candelabras, and position glass hurricane lanterns around the room


    Stimulate the senses

    Hands up who loves the smell of a pumpkin spiced latte in the crisp wintery air? You can use scents in your home to create the same sensation for the senses. Choose air fresheners, scented candles and burners which have notes of spice, fir, ginger, orange, cinnamon and nutmeg (we love The White Company’s Winter Collection.) Even better, you could make your own home fragrance by popping herbs, spices, fruit and essential oils into a pan of warm water and heat on a low setting for a few hours. The end result will be a house which smells divinely wintery and welcoming. You could also collect pinecones and berries and arrange them in a vase for a natural, seasonal look.

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  6. iLiv blog post - Create a cosy kitchen for autumn

    iLiv blog post - Create a cosy kitchen for autumn

    The return of The Great British Bake Off means autumn is on its way (and you’re already treating friends, family and colleagues to your attempts at channelling Mary Berry). It also means it’s a great time to transform your kitchen into a cosy haven, the perfect place to spend your days rustling up comforting recipes as the dark nights draw in.

    Seasonal hues

    For colour inspiration this autumn, look to the trees as their leaves change colour and begin to fall to the ground - think berry reds, rustic oranges, golden yellows, moss greens, bronzy browns and plum purples. Pattern wise, traditional check, plaid and tartan all go hand in hand with the cooler months, and for materials and textures, wood, wicker and wool work well – anything that brings to mind a stroll in a forest on a crisp autumn morning. 

    Cosy comforts

    You’ll naturally spend more time in the kitchen and less in the garden as cooler temperatures set in, so you’ll need to make sure the engine room of your home is suitably toasty. Keep the heat in by hanging thick lined curtains in autumnal tones. As a real treat for autumn and winter, you might consider installing a log burner which will add an extra touch of comfort and help you save on the cost of central heating. It will look great too. 

    Autumn accessories

    It’s the important little touches that bring a seasonal look together, while there’s no need to go overboard (it’s not Christmas just yet) you can give subtle nods to the time of year. Try creating a centre piece for tables or windowsills; make use of pumpkins during Halloween, collect fallen leaves from the garden and display in a glass jar, or arrange pine cones, conkers and autumn berries in a wicker basket for a truly rustic look. Warm up your dining table with a runner in a seasonal colour, and if you’ve got wood or tile flooring (but not the luxury of underfloor heating), treat your feet to a thick piled rug. 

    A warm glow

    There’s nothing like the glow from the oven as a hearty casserole or a fresh fruit crumble bubbles away inside – complement this with some cosy lighting. Lanterns are perfect for brightening up a dark, cold evening, with the flicker of candlelight creating a tranquil atmosphere. Collect twigs or branches while out on a woodland walk and entwine with string lights for a stylish seasonal look. Don’t forget the clocks go back on October 30, too. 

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  7. iliv blog post - Decorating with cushions

    iliv blog post - Decorating with cushions

    Cushions are the perfect way of giving a room an instant makeover, or acting as the final touch to your interior masterpiece. Here’s some top tips on how to achieve the wow factor with your new favourite accessory. 

    1. Consider colour

    Adding a few bright cushions is one easy way of quickly transforming a space, by splashing a pop of colour into a sea of white, cream or magnolia. Linking up with other accessories in the room, such as a pair of curtains or a piece of art, will pull the whole room together in harmony. Don’t forget that colours can dictate the mood of a room, so choose wisely - blues and greens are calming and relaxing, so perfect for bedrooms, while reds and oranges are lively and warm and therefore more suitable for social spaces such as the living room.  

    2. Play with textures 

    If your heart is set on sticking to cushions in exactly the same shade, it’s a good idea to use different textures to break up block colour. Mix ruffles, suede, sequins, fur, velvet and tassels – this isn’t just aesthetically pleasing but will also add a new dimension, make the eye dance and keep you out of the boring zone. 

    3. Location, location, location 

    There are a plethora of places to display cushions – sofas, chairs, beds, footstools, window seats, even on the floor. Fewer large cushions are suited to sofas or chairs, while several smaller cushions work well on beds. We think this chaise longue would look even more stunning with a couple of cushions. When it comes to arrangement, this says a lot about your personality; loosely scattered suggests an eclectic nature, while a perfectly poised line-up represents a more conservative approach. 

    4. The clash

    Your personal style will no doubt determine how brave you are when it comes to mixing patterns. Ease yourself in gently by using fairly similar colour palettes and limit yourself to two print schemes, for example polka dots and florals. If you’re feeling more rebellious, be bold and break all the rules by combining a whole array of colours and prints. Cushions with alternative prints on either side mean you can change things up depending on what mood you find yourself in too. 

    5. Shape up 

    A selection of different shaped cushions on your sofa can make it look less intimidating and regimented, and more inviting – less for show and more for snuggling up on with a cup of tea and your favourite hardback. Try teaming a rectangular, circle and a square cushion together for maximum shape shifting impact. 

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  8. iliv blog post - How to light up your home

    iliv blog post - How to light up your home

    As winter draws in and the nights grow longer, many people are keen to discover how to use lighting effectively in their homes. In fact, lighting is a key element of interior design all year round and can be used to transform a space. We’ve shared our secrets of fabulous lighting below.

    The art of layering

    Layering plays a key role in all elements of interior design, and lighting is no exception. Ideally, a room should have three types of lighting which can be blended for both mood and practicality. Layer ambient lighting (which is soft and illuminates large spaces) and task lighting (bright, focused light fixed on one position) with accent light, (such as a sconce or lamp) to create interest. Accent lighting is great for making a room appear cosy and welcoming too, use table lamps to create low pools of light in a large room.

    Create optical illusions

    The phrase ‘trick of the light’ was coined for the simple reason that light can be used to manipulate what we see. Make a room appear taller by using vertical light beams, or larger by using uplighters to bounce light onto the ceiling and walls. Lighting all four corners of the room will also make your room seem larger, and creating panels of light at one end of the room will make it look longer. Using a strategically placed statement mirror is the oldest trick in the book – not only will it look great but it will bounce light around the room to create the illusion of space.

    Position carefully

    Shade is necessary to achieve variation and atmosphere, so position fittings in a way that allows you to use shadow and reflection to your advantage. The eye is always drawn to the brightest point of a room so you can create a focal point by highlighting a fireplace, artwork or a statement piece using recessed lighting. Lighting should be functional so beware of any fittings that don’t have a purpose, but remember that a single light at the centre of your ceiling won’t do much to brighten an entire room. Lamps next to your sofa will create a soft glow without causing a glare from the television.

    Enhance natural light

    Flooding your room with natural light can lift spirits and has the practical and economic benefits of saving electricity. If your room is north-facing or naturally dark, there are ways you can enhance the light. Paint walls in light colours and highlight with slightly darker shade to create space and light. It’s a good idea to use paint which has a glossy or satin finish, as matte paint tends to absorb the light. Complement the paint with printed fabrics to add interest, in colours that are pale yet warm such as the iLiv Aquitaine fabric in Dusky Rose. Dark curtains will restrict the flow of light from windows so use a lighter coloured fabric here too, see the iLiv Shabby Chic collection for inspiration.

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  9. iliv blog post - How to create the best seat in the house

    iliv blog post - How to create the best seat in the house

    Whether you’re giving a new lease of life to a forgotten favourite or working your magic on a flea market find, reupholstering is the perfect way to get old furniture looking fabulous. Here’s what to think about when styling your seat.

    Choosing the chair

    Before you can even think about reupholstering you need to pick your perfect chair. Start by considering the role it’s going to play in your home. Is it going to be a statement piece that’s more style than substance? How about a sofa sanctuary where you can curl up with a good book? Maybe it will be a communal couch, playing host to movie nights and popcorn. If it’s going to be mostly decorative then push the boundaries and go for something that will start a conversation, but in all other instances you’re going to want comfort and function. Think too about who’s going to be using the chair: if it’s going to be your own personal haven then find one that fits you perfectly, but if it’s for the whole family to enjoy then it might need to be more practical – not to mention durable. Make sure it’s not too big for the room, and always go for quality.

    Choosing the colour

    While admittedly a statement piece of furniture like a chair can make a good focal point to build a room around, when it comes to reupholstering it’s usually safest to decide on a room’s overall colour scheme first. The reason being is that, with the entire world’s fabric to choose from, it’s useful to have some influence to help you narrow down your favourites. The good news is that you really do have complete freedom to find your perfect colour match, so it may as well be one you love, right? A word of warning though: try not to be swayed too much by the latest trends. It can be tempting to opt for Pantone’s colour of the year to show you have your finger on the pulse, but only do that if you really, truly like the colour. If you’re just following fashion you might find it much less appealing once its ‘colour of the moment’ popularity wanes.

    Choosing the design

    Solid colours or subtle patterns are what’s most commonly used for upholstery, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule. If you want something a little more adventurous then that’s fine, so long as you’re careful to make sure the fabric is right for the furniture. Stripes and certain patterns can be a challenge for some shapes, especially if you’re reupholstering yourself and have limited experience. You also need to make sure the fabric works for the era of the piece – an antique Victorian armchair probably wouldn’t work in outlandish geometrics, whereas florals might look out of place on a modern and edgy lounge chair. 

    Choosing the fabric

    Remember that design is as much about function as it is about style. The fabric you choose needs to be durable: woven patterns last longer than printed ones, and so do higher thread counts and tight weaves. This is another instance where you need to think about who will be using the sofa, for example if you have pets or young children the fabric will most likely need to be able to withstand extra wear and tear. On the other hand, if the chair is going to be placed in your bedroom then it won’t need to be quite so heavy-duty. It needs to feel good to touch too, so don’t choose anything scratchy and make sure you like the texture. If you can’t stand the feel of velvet, you definitely don’t want to curl up on a velvet chair!

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  10. iliv blog post - The window treatment

    iliv blog post - The window treatment

    With the window being the focal point of any room, you’ll want to take pride in yours being perfectly presentable. Here’s what you should consider when giving your home the window treatment.

    Raise the curtain

    Think of a beautifully dressed window and it will almost always incorporate a stunning pair of curtains. The perfect framing accessory, they’re about far more than just privacy. Before you get started, be sure to read our blog on how to measure for curtains.

    Floor length curtains are dramatic, have high visual impact and carry an air of luxury (though be wary if they fall in front of a radiator as they’ll trap heat) whereas mid length curtains are considered classic and aren’t as high maintenance. Adding a pretty valance at the top of a window will increase visual interest, or you could try draping voiles over a curtain pole – the sheer, airy material results in a relaxed, bohemian feel. Coordinate patterns with a sofa, armchair or cushions, or choose a colour which will link up with the décor of the whole space. Alternatively, make your curtains the star of the show in a plain room - we think the iLiv meadow pencil pleat curtain would add a country cottage feel to a home in even the most urban location.   

    Blind faith

    Blinds tend to be more practical than curtains, and enable you to easily control the light in a room, handy for those days when the sun’s rays are hard at work but you don’t want to sit in complete darkness. Don’t let the word practical put you off though, it doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice style. There’s a myriad of styles to choose from – roller blinds are easy to maintain and keep clean (without slats for dust to gather in) and are available in a wide range of colours and prints, while roman blinds are made from a softer fabric and offer a more sophisticated, elegant look. Venetian blinds are particularly popular for controlling light because you can raise, lower and tilt the slats. 

    Finishing touches

    Drapes decided, it’s time to add some finishing touches to complete the look. Place cosy cushions on a window seat to create the perfect comfortable spot to sit and watch the world go by or curl up with your favourite book. As for the window sill, a vase filled with fresh flowers and a framed treasured photograph make for perfect companions. A classic table lamp allows a super cosy feel at the flick of a switch, once the sun has set. The humble curtain pole doesn’t always need to take a back seat, while tie backs can add a touch of personality – think satin sashes, wooden hearts or rope and tassels. 

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