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Get weekly updates on the latest interior design trends from our experts at Plumbs

Traditional is the New Quirky

Traditional decorating methods are experiencing a renaissance thanks to craft shows like Kirstie's Vintage Home and other instructional programmes celebrating the country's new 'make do and mend' spirit. Old crafts such as decoupage, patterned paint rollers, loose sofa covers, willow weaving and patchwork are helping to individualise our homes - vintage techniques that have been given a fresh charm by modern re-interpretations of pattern, style and quality.

Patterned Paint Rollers


A fresh alternative to paint or wallpaper,  patterned paint rollers are essentially a high quality stencilling method. Super easy to use, the carved rubber designs produce a high quality pattern and can be used to create other items as well such as wall designs,  lampshades, wrapping paper, birthday cards. The best thing about these rollers is their versatility - change the paint, whether that's a smooth matte chalk, a high shine gloss, or simple emulsion, and change the colour, and you have a brand new look. It's worth thinking outside the box as well; consider 'stencilling' wooden furniture, short pile rugs or even the floors (if you own your own home). Resist temptation to roller the cat though.

Loose Covers

Loose covers – also known as slipcovers – have been a traditional craft for generations.  Craftsmen make tailored covers designed to mould perfectly to furnishings like a good suit on a person, but can also be easily removed and washed for freshness and comfort. While big box stores have released cheap covers that have more in common with a draping sheet than a tailor made blazer, the traditional art of tailoring loose covers is still alive and well. There's a vast selection of colours, textures and styles available if you want a revamp which is more temporary than new upholstery.


Decoupage – a Florentine form of collage – can be edgy or romantic, an eclectic burst of colour or a moody black and white photo-scape. Usually,  papers are combined with paint, gold leaf and multiple layers of sanded varnish. Again the versatility and scope of decoupage makes it popular with young and old crafters alike. Crafters have lined bookcases with art prints, vintage posters and colourful paper scraps; map fragments, flowers and portrait photography have all been popular. I knew an artist who was fond of music; she would scan in armfuls of concert photographs, gig tickets and record sleeves, and use the resulting collage to decoupage tables and ornaments.

If you want to incorporate more traditional crafts into your home, contact Plumbs today for a free no obligation home visit, and get loose covers or re-upholstery today!


Be Inspired by… The Secret Garden

The classic children's book by Frances Hodgson Burnett has been a source of inspiration to children (and gardeners!) since its publication in 1911. The motif of a secret, secluded and private garden, where people are transformed and made happier, is an appealing one. The garden itself could have been labelled an experiment in wilderness gardening; bulbs, wildflowers and trees rejuvenate with a small amount of (non-invasive) human interest. You may not have outdoor space that can be sculpted into a miniature garden of Eden, but you can create a private nook that is just for you.

The Indoor Garden

This is a phenomenon popularised by the space-conscious Japanese, which has been taken up by city bound dwellers who wish to go beyond the usual house plants and herbs, with climbing plants, indoor planters filled with earth and hedges or flowers and some even with water features. A conservatory is often the best place to start if you want to reference this trend, due to the natural light and warmth they are privy to. To get that authentic, 'Secret Garden' look, grow winding, wild pink roses around an indoor arbour.

The Cosy Sofa


Our attractive 'Secret Garden' loose covers feature the trailing flowers and wild beauty that characterised the novel so well, and are fully washable if you want to use them in your conservatory space with indoor garden. This romantic floral can be highlighted to stunning effect as part of a window seat reading nook, and can be matched with curtains in the same fabric.

The Garden Table

An essential ingredient in the romantic, Victorian style idyll is a lacework iron table, either a vintage piece or a good reproduction, to use as a repository for books and drinks. It will complement the fabric of your sofa and the lush roses climbing around your indoor arbour, and the pattern of the metal is distinctive without being obtrusive.

If you want to create your own secret garden, contact Plumbs today for a free, no obligation home visit, or else browse our vast selection of re-upholstery fabrics for a new look today!


Be Inspired By… Monet's House

French Impressionist Claude Monet was one of the founders of impressionism. The limpid swirls that composed his work – as well as the strong, natural themes – have inspired countless designers, artists and poets throughout the world. His home, and the garden made famous by his Water Lilies series, provided much of the impetus for his work.


Monet's kitchen is a surprisingly beautiful place from which to draw inspiration – delicate blue and white tiles, probably inspired by Monet's love of the Orient; aqua and sunflower yellow paint; accented by polished brass pots, already a byword for chic in 2013. Note as well, the vintage light fittings, and the polished black and gold Aga.

Yellow & Blue

The romantic combination of pale yellow and dusky blue complements exquisitely tiled floors and neutral furnishings. There is an element of the riverboat in this room, with an almost concealed grandfather clock, discreetly overseeing the room, which showcases some of the artist's Japanese prints. Consider referencing this trend with rich golden curtains in our 'Francesca' fabric.

The Garden

Many say the garden is another room of the house, and for Monet this was certainly so. He lavished attention on it, resulting in a landscape of flowers, trees etc. This luxury Spring Blossom fabric evokes the gentle beauty of the artist's water gardens. The fabric, which is perfect for loose covers and features a soft ‘slub’ effect, can also be used in re-upholstery.

Take inspiration from these Monet inspired fabrics and contact Plumbs today for a free, no obligation home visit, or else browse our vast selection of upholstery fabrics for a new look today!


The Minimalist Guide to Florals

If you hear florals, you tend to think 'busy'. It conjures up country cottage gardens, bric a brac and cosily cluttered living rooms. Yet, like most patterns it can serve hundreds of purposes. You can incorporate floral patterns into a minimalist home; just remember to consider colour, texture and theme in your interior design. Think monochromatic, muted colours

Minimalist Colours

This chic silver grey is a minimalist dream. The elegant colourway ticks the monochromatic and muted boxes with a co-ordination friendly and subtle flower print that is available in loose covers, re-upholstery and curtains. Shown here paired with plain mustard and grey scatter cushions, which highlight the versatility of a good, subtle floral, you can see that this look has potential in spades.  Other great minimalist colours include:

    • White
    • Champagne
    • Black
    • Duck egg blue

Minimalist Accessories


Minimalist interior design isn't about being plain, or turning your home into a sterile white cube. As Leo Babauta, author of the seminal Zen Habits blog remarks, "the key is to remove the unnecessary stuff."

So think about where you can streamline. For example, sell or donate multiple gadgets and digitalise your music and films onto one multi-functional device. If you aren't very tech savvy, you can pay someone to do this for you (or learn – local libraries frequently have free or very cheap computer courses). Purchase dual use storage – such as ottomans and foldaway storage. And in order to incorporate florals, think white; you needn't spend vast amounts of money either.

Minimalist Art

Minimalist art doesn't have to be boxes, or lines, or a dreary emperors-new-clothes style travesty consisting of a scrap of paper stuck to a canvas. Mondrian created some beautiful 'compositions' that reflect the clean lines and orderly processes of the movement, accented by precisely delineated colour sections. Franz Kline, while not a true minimalist, worked in black and white, creating stunningly beautiful, textured abstracts that would grace any minimalist home.

Do you want to embrace minimalism? Then give Plumbs a call today on 0800 019 0505 and embrace a simpler life.


Five Beautiful Fabrics for Elegant Chairs

  • English Poppyfields

This gorgeous, on trend poppy upholstery fabric by Swaffer is a fashionable way to update your favourite armchair, and is perfect for tailored loose covers. Large floral motifs were in evidence on the Catwalk this spring and the 1950's inspired theme looks set to continue.

  • Zari Fabric

This attractive neutral jacquard upholstery fabric has an exotic feel, invoking the patterns of far flung cultures and giving the gentle hue of the base fabric a more striking ambience.  Zari is perfect for re-upholstery, and as shown, looks gorgeous with magenta toned accessories.

  • Titian Damask

Titian Damask is a beautiful golden furnishing fabric which looks sophisticated in loose covers or upholstery. It is a subtle yet interesting material, with an intricate pattern that follows a new path on the traditional Persian design. You can get matching curtains and blinds, or perhaps a footstool in the same fabric.

  • Windsor in Ruby

Windsor, shown here in Ruby, is a rich, opulent fabric designed for loose covers. The subtle, monochromatic pattern of the weave makes it an ideal colour for mixing and matching; as shown here with striped cushions, that provide pattern and contrasting colours whilst marrying in the burgundy with co-ordinating stripes.

  • Chelsea Velvet Teal

The soft, gentle texture of this Chelsea Velvet fabric (shown in teal) is a real delight. Elegant and luxurious, the fabric is versatile enough to be used in loose covers or re-upholstery. It also comes in 36 other colours, so can be matched with your other furnishings.

Remember, if you want to brighten your home, with a pair of
poppy print chair covers or new, velvet teal loose covers, Plumbs can offer you a free, no obligation home consultation, where we can offer you advice about colours, fabrics and styles for your dream home.


Open Plan Decorating Ideas

Open plan living isn't just for twenty-something Manhattanites with more money than sense. After all, it was pioneered by architectural genius Frank Lloyd Wright; his 'Prairie Houses' are known as the first example of open plan interiors. He favoured minimalist styles, long windows and low roofs; many modern interpretations follow his style, excepting that they favour high ceilings.

Dividing the Room

There are so many options for dividing up a room. Chic folding screens will give a room an Oriental or vintage theme depending on the style; and they can be bought everywhere nowadays - even budget shops like Wilkinsons stock surprisingly beautiful floral styles.

The other main option is using furniture to partition off mini 'living spaces'; for example a three piece suite to create a small living room area, or creating a PlayStation area for teenage grandchildren with a circle of beanbags.

Using colourful curtains to screen a window seat is excellent use of space, and makes for an elegant reading nook. This works particularly well with bay windows. These Sophia curtains, in rouge, are a bold and attractive trim for a neutral, open plan room.

The best idea is to keep the centre neutral, and accentuate with touches of vibrant colour at the edges of your open plan area. Textured neutrals, and brightly coloured accents, give a room life without making it look small or dark.

If your sofa is a deep or bold colour, remember you needn't buy new; instead, why not purchase some loose covers, and transform your furniture into an exquisite, yet subtle masterpiece? The woven, linen look of this Hampstead Ivory upholstery fabric is tasteful and hardwearing, as well as being machine washable.


Consider the materials you use in your open plan home very carefully. Luxurious, yet raw and unpolished is the look to aim for. The walls could be unfinished brick; the struts exposed and wooden. Floors should be tiled in Welsh slate, or else with floorboards that have had the barest polish. Re-upholster your furniture in natural yet tactile fabrics; think sheepskins, linen, woven cotton.

Remember, if you want to create a Frank Lloyd Wright style Prairie House, Plumbs can offer you a free, no obligation home consultation, where we can measure your curtains and sofa, so we can help you create the perfect open plan paradise.


5 Tasteful Terracotta Trappings

Used throughout history in sculpture and friezes due to its malleable, decorative properties, Terracotta has been a popular material for everyone from Ancient Greek figurine carvers, to Victorian tile merchants. The colour evokes Mediterranean cafes, amphora and stucco; a warm, peaceful hue which is perfect for both summer and autumn.

Terracotta Loose Covers


This beautiful sofa fabric, known as Maddison Trellis, is a soft, earthy terracotta, with a subtle pattern reminiscent of tiles. These exquisite decra loose covers are easy to care for (and machine washable!) as well as being neatly tailored specifically for your furniture. Accessorise with soft white cushions – and why not re-upholster your ottoman to match?

Terracotta Plant Pots

Terracotta (the earthenware, not the colour) is most often used in plant pots, to give crimson, gold or saffron coloured flowers a home, and a hint of Mediterranean charm. The planters are designed to be chic, but in an unassuming, unpretentious way. They showcase so-called wildflowers particularly well, as well as trailing plants and fragrant herbs such as thyme (originally cultivated in the Mediterranean area).

Terracotta Curtains

These elegant Terracotta curtains feature a raised floral pattern, in a breathable, cotton rich fabric. They are made to measure, with blind hems, mitred corners and weighted skirts to ensure a perfect drape.  Why not pair these opulent drapes with a mosaic side table, an inlaid lamp and a set of intricately carved bowls, for a taste of Marrakech under the blue grey skies of Britain.

Terracotta Blinds

Sleep can be difficult in warmer weather. These terracotta roman blinds, in an elegant stripe, will help keep the glare and the early morning sun out of your eyes. They can stand alone, or be paired with matching or contrasting curtains. These chic shades will keep insomnia at bay and keep you both happy and cool.

Hanging Terracotta Lamps

Suitable for interior or exterior use (and would be lovely in a summer house) these hanging lights incorporate both candle lanterns and traditional light bulbs. The delicate carvings in the terracotta provide an enchanting juxtaposition to the 'heaviness' of terracotta as a sculpting material, making them a delightful living room accessory this summer.

If you want to incorporate more terracotta into your home, contact Plumbs today for a free no obligation home visit, and get made to measure curtains, roman blinds or loose covers today!


Slip Into Something More Comfortable This Summer

Most of us have switched to our summer wardrobes by now – crisp linen, white cotton, light silks and even bamboo. Yet we keep our windows cloaked with thick velvet and our sofas covered in sumptuous wools – very comforting in Winter, and far, far too hot in Summer. We need to treat our furnishings the way we treat ourselves. We wouldn't venture out into the August sun wearing a synthetic quilted coat; nor should we dress our furniture for cold weather when things heat up outside.

Pure Cotton

These 100% pure cotton loose covers are ideal for accenting with interestingly textured and coloured cushions. The light colour of the 'Peru' fabric shown helps to reflect light and heat, while the fibre itself provides a comfortable, indulgent surface for relaxing on a hot summer evening.



The perfect complement to a calm, neutral room, this Lindow fabric, a luxurious, light linen, is ideal for re-upholstery. Linen is a soft, durable natural fibre, which is cool to the touch and has a silky lustre. It's the perfect summer fabric – and unlike clothing, properly fitted re-upholstery and loose covers won't wrinkle!


Bamboo is another natural fibre which is resilient, anti-bacterial and incredibly tactile. It is luxurious, especially when blended with silk or cotton, and can be dyed a variety of colours. It also co-ordinates with other natural fibres well; a textured rug, combined with the smooth yet attractive sheen of linen and the purity of colour and form that cotton has.

Want to re-create your home in natural, neutral furnishings? Get in touch with Plumbs today for a free, no-obligation re-upholstery quote and slip into something more comfortable for summer!


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