5 Things I’ve Learnt About Interiors

georgian modern interior

I’ve had a bit of a eureka moment with my house. After a year of dithering and not quite feeling confident about what I wanted to do with it, I feel as though I’ve finally found my furnishing and decorating groove. I’ve embraced the Georgian architecture with its ornate cornicing and big fireplaces and all of the stuff that was a bit out of my comfort zone, and I’ve started to make it work with my vintage furniture and my penchant for outré ceiling lights. In fact, it’s almost as though the elegant Georgian features are starting to form a sort of backdrop for my collection of modernist bits and bobs. A kind of gallery. And I really really like it.

But – as I say – I’ve had a year of painful dithering and I’ve made a few mistakes, so I thought I’d tell you about the five things I’ve realised about interiors. The most important being (and this should be my finale but I’m going to put helpfulness over suspense-building here):

georgian modern interior

1 – It’s only bloody interiors, none of it really matters that much on the scale of things, unless your job is actually styling interiors or renting your house out as a shoot location. If you do either of those things then you’ll probably spend quite a lot of time squinting at various rooms in your house and wondering what’s “not quite right”, but for the rest of us, those who are into interior styling and decorating because we just love houses or have a passion for design, it should be enjoyable. There’s no rush. Instagram has a lot to answer for with its Keeping Up With The Joneses effect! In reality nobody is closely monitoring your decorating progress; there’s time to collect, curate, change your mind, change your taste, mull it over, and if all else fails then close the door on it all and leave it until next year.

2 -Tip two comes from design king Martin Waller, who founded the Andrew Martin store many decades ago. (If you want to see a video interview with Martin then it’s here – he’s an absolute legend and a font of interiors knowledge.) Martin says “always buy the things you love“. Easy rule to remember. If you don’t love it, don’t buy it – tomorrow is another day. When we moved we had to buy a kitchen table and chairs, a new bed and some bathroom mirrors straight away and I regretted some of my purchases – bed and mirrors – because I rushed the decision. I bought stuff because I needed stuff and I should have just hung on. Mattress on the floor, boxes to sit on, iPhone as a mirror, that sort of thing.

georgian modern interior

Also related to this tip: if you buy stuff that you love – really love – then it will all fit together one way or another because you love it. It’ll be a big eclectic mix that hopefully shows a bit of personality. So, for example, in this picture of the formal end of my living room (wanky name for it, but I can’t think of another phrase for “it’s not the telly end”) I have a very traditional buttoned sofa sitting between two rosewood Archie Shine chests and then I’ve placed huge glass Doria Leuchten lamps on top of the chests. The carpet is crazy, but I love it, the sofa is classic, but I love it, the chests are my all-time favourite furniture purchase ever (probably) and the lamps make me go funny inside with design lust. There’s a lot going on, but I love it all so who the hell cares?

interior design mid century

3 – Ooh, that was my next tip/learning curve: don’t care what other people thinkyou need to be comfortable in your home. And other people who live there – don’t forget them. You and your kids/pets/partner/all of the other people who live in your home and who aren’t interiors obsessed: they just want to bloody well live in a house. So you have to kind of temper your interiors passions and enthusiasms slightly and remember that kids will swing on curtains and dogs will lie on footrests and cats will knock expensive pottery things off shelves and you have to find a happy medium. (This was another wise lesson from Martin Waller.)

I mean if everyone tells you that plastering over your original Georgian panelling is a bad idea and that you might at some point go off neon pink ceilings throughout, then maybe stop to consider whether you’re being a bit hasty; but in general, do what pleases you. After a bit of light research. (Can highly recommend the book Mad About The Houseif you don’t know where to start with interiors but prefer words to pictures.)

georgian modern interior

4 – Don’t swing wildly between styles you’ve seen in glossy images – live with things before you make rash decisions. Instagram and interiors magazines are actually the worst for making you think that you want one thing when in fact you should have stuck to another. There’s just so much gorgeous content out there, but you have to really try and blank it all out until you things that truly make your stomach flip. For me, stomach-flips tend to be over images of Soho House hotels – the sixties accents in White City House, the laid-back country house chic at Babington House. Don’t get me wrong; I adore real design statements, architectural wonders and interiors that are unfathomably cool, but do I really want a bedroom with mezzanine bathroom entirely moulded from one piece of clay? No. Stay on target.

interior design mid century

5 – You Like To Move It Move It: it wasn’t until I started physically moving pictures, furniture and lamps around the house that I really got into the swing of things with knowing what I wanted. It’s easy to be dismissive or deflated about a possible change when you can’t properly envisage it so – within reason – moving the actual things to the actual places you’re considering really forces you to look at your spaces and work out not only how you want them to look but how you want to use them. Whether your bedroom feels cramped because your king-size is right next to the doorframe or you’ve got a sneaking suspicion that the end of your lounge could make a great little dining area, just bring on the muscle and get moving. (But be careful because beds are well heavy and I’ve pulled many a hamstring.) (I only have two hamstrings, actually; I suppose I mean that I’ve pulled those two hamstrings many a time.)

So, this was just a little pitstop to tell you about what I’d been mulling over – and an opportunity to show you the “bit of the living room that doesn’t have the telly”. A mix of vintage/mid century and the more traditional – some pattern, some plush fabric, some warm wood and some fancy glass. Pretty much the palette for the whole house, although here the lamps have chrome fittings whereas the rest of the lights in the house have brass. (Chrome is coming back in, apparently, not that I ever take much notice of trends.)

The sofa has a very traditional sort of shape with classic buttoning and turned wooden legs but the vintage chests are angular and modern-looking, despite their age – all quite elegant in its own way. I find this combination so very pleasing. You know when suddenly something feels right and you can’t stop looking at it? I feel like that. It’s like I’m home at last. And the best thing is that I don’t even care whether it looks like the magazine pictures or the Insta-inspo – I couldn’t really give two hoots whether or not anyone else likes it, because love it. Which has to be the best litmus test when it comes to whether something is right.

interior design mid century

On a sidenote, you can see my – quite marvellous – Timorous Beasties for Brintons carpet. There’s a post coming up on flooring and what I’ve learnt about pattern, but it’s worth noting that as I’ve added furniture and interest to the rest of the room, the pattern – which at first felt overwhelming – becomes quite welcoming and cosy. There’s something rather grounding about having a bold pattern on the floor – I love the contrast between plain, clean walls and busy, brave carpet.

More on that soon, but in the meantime do remember to follow my new interiors page on Instagram if you’re not already – it’s @casacrilly and you can find it here!

georgian modern interior

Sofa is the Real Charmer (size large, 190cm)  – online here

Chests are vintage rosewood Archie Shine bought from a dealer in Hertford (I’ve bought a few bits from her, she’s excellent): Funky Junky

Table lamps are vintage Doria Leuchten bought at Vinterior – their lighting category is here

Wall lamp is FLOS at John Lewis here*

Carpet is Athol Gardens by Timorous Beasties for Brintons here

DISCLOSURE POLICY. Posts published after 24th January 2019: if the post contains gifted items or affiliate links then it is indicated clearly beneath the title. Posts published prior to this will have a disclosure within the body of the post and then an asterisk * marking all affiliate links. If the content is a paid-for AD then it is marked as an AD in the title. For more information on disclosure please read here. 

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33 Comments

  1. May 30, 2019 / 9:59 am

    Love your house. I agree with you about only buying the things you love. My silver bling curtains probably clash horribly with my red sofas, but I love them and that’s all that matters :-)

  2. April 20, 2019 / 10:54 pm

    Oh my days, gorgeous! Also that cat is so cute.

  3. Jo
    April 15, 2019 / 4:35 pm

    Ooh ooh ooh, I have a pair of rosewood Archie Shine chest of drawers too! Slightly different handle to yours, but pretty bloody similar (and a total steal on eBay). Unfortunately my living space size does not lend to them being in the same room, let alone as symmetrically laid out as yours, but now I have interior styling goals for whenever I do finally graduate to a bigger abode.

    Loving the general look – thanks for sharing!

    • April 15, 2019 / 4:37 pm

      Don’t say a steal on eBay or I might cry!! *cries*

      • Jo
        April 17, 2019 / 2:42 pm

        If it’s any consolation, mine are not as nice as yours and the drawers aren’t as well proportioned.
        Does that help…? :-)

        • April 18, 2019 / 11:03 am

          Excellent, thank you. I can rest easy! : )

  4. M. K.
    April 12, 2019 / 1:01 am

    Love it when Mr. Bear makes an appearance! Lovely room as well…

  5. Diane
    April 11, 2019 / 4:06 pm

    Hello again Ruth. Do you have an email address where I can write to you about a particular subject please? Longtime OG commenter here, from the Land Down Under. Much appreciated x

    • April 12, 2019 / 9:40 am

      Yes, go to the contact form (menu at bottom of page on desktop) xx

  6. April 11, 2019 / 4:00 pm

    I love that the couch looks so comfortable as well as a tiny bit traditional/in keeping with the style of your house. The second piece of advice will hopefully be one I can put to good use someday, it’s something I imagine most people do though as it’s so tricky. I have never understood why it takes months for some companies to deliver furniture, either you have it or you don’t, so annoying! Like others have mentioned the lamp is a real bobby dazzler, everything does look lovely and natural together, including Mr. Bear, of course!

    • April 12, 2019 / 9:41 am

      Do they maybe ship it in to the UK all in one go and wait until they have enough orders? I’ve always wondered that about West Elm actually because their waiting time is MONTHS!!!

  7. Diane
    April 11, 2019 / 3:52 pm

    Wow, talk about just in time! My eldest son is home briefly from an overseas post, and he is completely minimalistic and loathes the decoration of our longtime family home. I must admit that I have become complacent, but looked at our home with fresh eyes today. Yes, we have a beautiful home, my dream home, but I went through an awful ‘crafty, shabby chic’ phase, and just left it at that. Tomorrow with his help, we are transforming the family room. The whole chintzy crap is heading to the charity shop. I have made the most beautiful curtains for the vast French doors and huge windows, out of vintage French linen, and he is going to put them up tomorrow. So very excited could almost wee myself! Our formal sitting room and dining room are beyond help at this stage he says. He thinks it’s time that the antique Great Granny stuff belongs at an antiques roadshow. Hah! Just going to tackle one room at a time right now, while recovering from life altering surgery. But his enthusiasm is contagious, and just the fact that my darling firstborn is spending his precious free time to pick his mummy’s spirts back up is priceless to me. He even said to me tonight, Mom, you are just so perfect, you are beautiful and look a million bucks. Simply burst into tears at his words to me. So your OG subscriber is heading straight to your new instagram page. Love you and all that you share with us Ruth x

    • April 12, 2019 / 9:41 am

      Ah, how wonderful!! And yes, you really are an OG subscriber! Hope you’re well – glad the granny chintz is going out! : )

  8. Rachael
    April 11, 2019 / 12:24 pm

    I am drooling! Of course at Mr Bear He’s so beautiful though, to be fair.
    Great advice Ruth. I love houses and interiors and love what you are doing. Your Georgian house is stunning. The fancy end of your living room looks perfect. Oh please write an interiors coffee book sometime!
    Sometimes I just wander around my house looking at the interior pieces I love. It helps me understand the gaps and when I see something I love, I instantly know if it will fit and where. Maybe I’m weird!
    As you say, if you buy things you love, it will work together. Also, you have inspired me to be a bit more adventurous with my rug purchases. We have hard floors throughout and I have been putting buying rugs as I just didn’t quite know what I thought would work. Loving your interiors Insta too!
    Looking forward to the next interiors blog already.

  9. Lydia
    April 11, 2019 / 11:37 am

    It’s all so beautiful, aren’t you afraid of children jumping on the couch / sticky fingers / suddenly sick all over the carpet or couch?

    • April 11, 2019 / 11:48 am

      They are currently banned from this room – they have a play room with the battered sofas in! LOL x

  10. Rachel
    April 11, 2019 / 11:27 am

    You have major lamp game.

    • April 11, 2019 / 11:48 am

      Lighting game is strong at the moment. : )

  11. Rosie Jones
    April 11, 2019 / 10:24 am

    What a gorgeous house! I love the sofa, is it covered in a velvet fabric and if so, how do you keep the fabric looking smooth?

    • April 11, 2019 / 11:49 am

      Thank you!! It’s one of the clever, hard-wearing velvets. Seems to be quite durable, though we don’t sit on this one as much as the one that’s at the other end of the room. I need to do a sofa post! x

  12. Marta
    April 11, 2019 / 10:10 am

    Damn! The Cat is really big if sofa is almost 2m long.
    Ruth I love your taste and enjoy reading your posts, interiors are one of my favourite topic. Have a good day!

  13. Soph
    April 11, 2019 / 9:49 am

    Totally agree with buy what you love. But after 5 years in our home a few things we LOVE don’t quite work for us anymore. I’m okay with switching out a pair of large vintage armchairs for more space and losing a 7ft long sideboard that stores nothing! The use of rooms change and I’ve found what’s in them is the issue and not the colour on the wall.

    P.s Love mr bear posing away. More prawns?

  14. April 11, 2019 / 8:45 am

    I used to be doubtful when it came to patterned floors and carpets, but you are right, it doesn´t look busy in your pictures, but very welcoming.

    Anne|Linda, Libra, Loca

    • April 11, 2019 / 8:47 am

      I have moments of doubt, but the more stuff that goes into the room the more glorious it looks! : )

  15. April 11, 2019 / 8:27 am

    There is something so pleasing about the turned sofa feet with the shape of the lamps. And those chests! Gorgeous.

    • April 11, 2019 / 8:47 am

      Didn’t even notice the foot/lamp connection! Well spotted! : )

  16. Farah
    April 11, 2019 / 1:46 am

    Thank you! These are wise words and things I know deep inside to be true and yet I have been getting a bit desperate about decorating the much larger home we moved into last August. I love design and interiors but more than anything want my home to feel cozy and beautiful and comfortable for family and guests. It’s so easy to get caught up in AM I DOING THIS RIGHT?! and WHY IS THIS TAKING SO LONG?! when really making a house a home should be a slow and fun process. Thank you for the helpful reminders and the virtual hand holding I really need right about now. Now tell me, what the hell do I do about curtains?! Should I hire someone to come in and tell me what to do or buy the curtain rods and curtains as i go along? Advice much needed and appreciated!! I’m fairly certain the distant neighbors can see me showering (though binoculars would be required…. but why wouldn’t they have binoculars, right?) so I should probably get on this bit rather urgently……

    • April 11, 2019 / 8:50 am

      OK. So the first curtains I got were handmade and bespoke from Winser & Hill and they are AMAZING!!!!! But they couldn’t do the ones for my dining room in time for Christmas and I had three windows to do so bought off the peg at John Lewis and I have to say….they feel like thin velveteen dishcloths by comparison. I mean there’s really NO comparison. But the JL were about an eighth of the price! It was £1000 for one window handmade (hugely thick lining, like a duvet, gorgeous pleating, amazing fabric) but only £150 ish per pair for the JL. They are lined but honestly, SO thin and the pleats are just pleats that you do yourself by drawing the draw string. It all comes down to budget, but in future I’m saving for the good ones.

      • Farah
        April 11, 2019 / 9:28 pm

        Thank you! I actually have lots of really good curtains from the previous house and they are all too short for the new windows. So painful to part with them and buy new ones! And the previous owners left all their bespoke curtains but they must be at least 30 years old and also too short as was the style of years past …but kind of crazy and amazing fabrics which are also hard to get rid of! I really need to get a grip and move forward! Thanks again!!

        • April 12, 2019 / 9:39 am

          Oh that’s so annoying!!!!!! You couldn’t have a trim added to the bottom of them or something? x

          • Farah
            April 12, 2019 / 5:32 pm

            Ooooooooh that’s interesting! Thank you for the idea!! xx

  17. S
    April 10, 2019 / 11:13 pm

    You could put all sorts of sh*t in there, and it would still work… because the backdrop is wonderful. The Georgians really knew what they were doing.

    Could you make an updated interiors video, Ruth?

    We’re about to start the decorating and dressing part of our renovation – i.e. the fun part after the dusty, hellish parts – and it would be good to have inspiration.

    S x

    • April 11, 2019 / 8:51 am

      Haha so true!! Although I have to say that anything too fussy – Victoriana – looks a bit wrong, I always think.. Yes, will do an updated video! x

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