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How to vamp up your home for autumn

'Tis the season for indoor hanging out, so it's time to make those four walls cosy enough to spend time in. Don't know where to start for an autumn home upgrade? We chat to interiors maker Nicky Blackwell for her essential tips on how to do it.

The ability to churn out reams of sumptuous soft furnishings is one of those skills I wish I had; dainty box pleats, perfect pelmets, pouffy cushions, contrasting piping! Let’s face facts, window dressing in any room just makes it, but getting it right can feel like some kind of mystical alchemy.

Step forward Nicky Blackwell, owner of Studio Blackwell, a specialist soft furnishings business based in a barn studio just outside of Cheltenham. Nicky took the plunge to turn her passion into a career in 2013 after spending 20 years as a midwife and now creates bespoke curtains, blinds, cushions and accessories to order.

Describing herself as the ‘link between what people dream but don’t know how to get’ she’s a one-stop shop if you need help with what fabric to buy, style of curtain to get, or how to make rooms link with each other. I loved her designs so much I even got her to pep up my own boudoir (complete drapery dunce alert, I literally had no idea what to choose). Keep reading to see the finished look!

Nicky Blackwell (r)

Want to know where to start with an upgrade on your interior? Here are Nicky’s top tips for a stylish autumn abode.

1/ Be confident with your colour palette

Having a colour palette is important. This doesn’t have to be one colour, it could be a range of colours that you like. If you don’t know where to start (because there’s so many pretty colours out there!) look for inspiration in magazines, Pinterest, or in other people’s homes (Rightmove is great for this!). At Studio Blackwell we help you brainstorm this even if it takes a few sessions to find ‘the one’.

2/ Choose your texture

Choosing the right fabric texture for your home may seem like a weird one for people who don’t know much about fabrics, but it is quite important. There is a huge difference between a soft floaty linen compared to a thick, heavy velvet, so first of all ask yourself what feel you want your interior to have? That’s your starting point.

3/ Think about pattern placement

Ask yourself where do you want pattern to be in your home, if at all? Scatter cushions in your sitting room paired with a plain fabric on the curtains and blinds or vice versa? It’s always good to have a mix between both plains and patterned fabric as the plain fabric creates a backdrop to make the patterns stand out more. Avoid the same pattern on cushions and curtains, it will look cluttered and too matchy-matchy.

4/ To trim or not to trim?

Trims can dramatically change a soft furnishing by making it look refined and ‘finished’ and adding a bit of flare. From pompoms and fringing to tassels. Adding a trim to your curtains and blinds can give them that extra ‘wow’ factor you have been looking for. Adding it to your scatter and box cushions can refresh your living space.

5/ Use contrasting colours

This creates a fun interior. Do this in a range of ways, by adding a contrasting border to your blind, piping, or choosing contrasting colours for your scatter cushions.

6/ Go timeless

When looking at fabrics to use for your curtains and blinds, it’s important to pick something that you won’t get bored of easily. You don’t want to end up hating them. Decide on something you really love and can see in your life for a long time.

7/ Scatter cushions matter

Think about size, fabric and trim of your cushions. Using different sizes creates depth to your sofa or bed, this may be through using big square cushions paired with smaller ones and rectangular ones. It’s important to think about where your cushions are going, if you want a cushion to sit on a single armchair, it may be nice to choose a long rectangular cushion or a bolster.

Nicky’s frilly cushions appeared at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year.

Using a range of fabrics for your scatter cushions is also a good thing as this adds depth. You can do this by making the cushions in separate different materials but also could achieve this by adding contrasting piping or trim. This may be through a colourful pom pom, rustic fringing or creating a frill using the same fabric.

8/ Curtain v blinds dilemma

It’s a common stumbling block, curtains or blinds! If you are in a space which has not got much natural light it may be best to go with a blind that sits on the outside of the window frame so when drawn up you are not losing any light. However, every room is different and what may work in one house may not work in another. Sometimes it’s good to get expert opinion for this.

Nicky’s top 5 autumn upgrades

Change up your cushion covers. I love this season’s trend of cushions with frilly edging in deep autumnal hues. Ours (below) were used at the Chelsea Flower Show this year!

Photo: @selinalake, Nicky’s cushions at the RHS Chelsea Show

Layer with throws and rugs. Nothing says autumn like snuggling up in a wool rug, use it on the sofa (save the heating for a few more weeks), around a firepit or over your favourite chair. They are lovely stored in a gorgeous basket by the fire, adding texture to the room.

These Missoni Home throws create a cosy Hygge

Change your scents. Change your candle and incense scents to autumnal scents, I love Bergamot and Black tea by Nostara Luxury Candles

Bring the outside in. Dried flowers in seasonal colours work wonders. Use dried flower arrangements or a handmade wreath on the door. It keeps everything colourful for a little bit longer.

Change your table linen. Another inexpensive and easy seasonal change. Colours clover, mango, driftwood, rock and indigo are especially good for autumn.

Studio Blackwell napkins in mango (l) and driftwood (c)

And you waited … so here they are. Ta da! The finished pencil pleat curtains made by Nicky in my own bedroom, in Ian Mankin fabric with piping.

Head to www.studioblackwell.co.uk to read more and fall in love with Nicky’s gorgeous drapery, or get in touch for a free consultation and estimate.

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