Five Interior Questions I Am Most Commonly Asked On Instagram
As someone who spends at least 80% of their time on social media, I receive a fair amount of direct messages and e mails. Many of these are from men of a certain age, generally called Frank, Harry, Fred or David who appear to be under the impression that Instagram is a simple to use version of Tinder for the over 60s. Their profile pictures are often Trump quiffed and posed in full military gear; their posts are mainly of them expertly flying bomber jets back in 1985.
There are two types of ‘dating’ message. The first type is just the basic greeting. Short, to the point. ‘Hello dear’ is the most popular. What this says is, here’s a man confident in their own attractiveness, no need for further words. She’ll be falling at my feet within moments. The second type moves into full blown courting mode, the main crux of which is that they have NEVER BEFORE seen anyone as beautiful as me in their entire life. Which, judging by their profile pictures, could very well be since Victorian times. I was once sent a photograph via my Facebook business account of an erect penis, zoomed in with full colour, accompanied by the words ‘good morning’. I’ve had better starts to a Monday.
Erect penises and lotharios aside, I also receive many lovely missives from people who follow my account. One of the best things about Instagram is the engagement. No other social media can compare – Pinterest is inspiring, yet there is no opportunity to interact personally with like minded individuals. Finding and connecting with new people who have similar ideas and styles is completely inspiring. Personally, prior to Instagram, it was rare that I found anyone who was as obsessed as I when it came to interiors. Now, I can discuss the merits of paint colours and the joys of vintage shopping at length with friends who are equally mad. Sorry, dedicated.
Anyway, there are certain interior based questions that pop into my direct message box and on to my feed comments very regularly so I thought this would be a good opportunity to address these favourites in full. Despite Joe’s insistence that the most popular question is ‘why is your husband so great?’ (this question has never been asked, I can categorically assure you), I whittled them down to my top five. Here you go.
Q1: How Do You Source Your Persian Rugs?
Of all the items in my home, the Persian rugs are my favourite possessions. Two years ago, I caused controversy by placing a huge one in my kitchen which covered the whole floor and the post was regrammed by a large American interiors blog. There were many comments, mostly regarding my obvious lack of cooking skills (rude) and opinions were divided on the hygiene aspect of this decision. So, let me clear this up right now. It’s a very old rug, super battered (not the fish type, cleanliness freaks) and has virtually no pile whatsoever - I hoover it daily and have it cleaned professionally once a year. Take that, readers.
I bought the rug at auction on eBay for the sum of £120 including shipping from a company called A2Z Rugs, based on the North Circular. They are still in existence and you can find them on the internet. I was so pleased with the rug that I bought another from the same
company, which now resides in my bedroom. This one was deeper pile and slightly more expensive at £160 but a similar size. The rug which is currently in my dining room (which I believe may be Turkish but I’m not knowledgeable enough to differentiate) was an absolute steal from my local Community Furniture Warehouse for £20 and the runner in the hall (again, very low pile) was picked up at the local charity shop for £10. It’s always worth checking out second hand rugs in thrift stores – often they’re rolled up and it’s hard to see the full product.
Again, Gumtree and eBay can often turn up winners. Car boot sales, vintage stores. Patterned rugs aren’t everyone’s cup of tea and they are often low priced as they’re not regarded as high value items by people who aren’t quite as fond of them.
Q2: What Is The Paint Colour?
As the years have passed, my core interior style has evolved. Tellingly, when I look back on pictures of my home ten years ago, there’s not much difference colour wise than there is now. Over the last few years, I’ve dallied with colour – dark grey in the dining room, pale pink in the living room to name a few. However, I find myself always returning to the colour that makes me the happiest, and that’s white. For me, keeping the base of my house neutral enables me to add anything I want – colour, art, furniture – without fear of clash or dodgy contrast.
The majority of my home is painted in Valspar Blanc De Blanc. This is a warm white with a very faint touch of grey that works brilliantly in my spaces. I have also used Earthborn White and Frenchic Whitey White upstairs, both of which are excellent bases for adding your own style. Ella’s bedroom is another popular request – the darker wall is Plummet and the lighter wall Pavillion Gray, both Farrow & Ball. And finally, the doors. Earlier this year, I revamped my hallway and painted the inside of both the front and back doors pale pink – I used Valspar colour matched to Pantone Rose Quartz (this is an actual Valspar swatch in B&Q, they have the whole range of Pantone colours).
Q3: How Do You Plan Your Gallery Walls?
Simple answer to this one – I really don’t! Not in any sort of structured, measured way, anyway. First, I curate (posh word for pulling together, but it sounds good) the art. I like to mix it up – I use old family photography, framed modern prints, old favourites and charity shop buys, mixed with ad hoc bits such as favourite plates. When creating a single flat wall, I use a rug to lay them out prior to putting up. It sounds a bit odd, but it really works. Find a rug in your home that is the size that you’d like your wall to be. Place your art prints around the edge, moving them around until you get a good fit and you’ve filled the rug space. Then starting from a corner, hang them on the wall.
Now, for this task I mostly use Command strips – they produce various ways of hanging your pictures without having to actually use a hammer and therefore avoiding wall damage. They’ve got weight limits on the packaging and it’s important to read these before you decide to use. For bigger, heavier pictures I use small gold picture nails with wall hooks and for really hardcore pieces I use a drill to secure.
One of my most popular posts is my hallway gallery wall – this is on a slant so it wasn’t possible to plan in advance. I started at the bottom left hand corner and worked my way down, taking the art right to the floor. I made sure I mixed up the frame colours so they weren’t in one block – white, black, wood and gilt. Finally on this subject, a common question is how do I dust them and do I get concerned that they will look wonky? The answer to these questions are I don’t do dusting and no, I don’t get concerned, it’s a half second job to straighten. And for the parents who worry that the kids will knock them down, I find the odd knock far preferable to having what previously looked like a dirty protest of hand prints going up my stairs which is what was there before.
Q4: Where Do You Find Your Art?
Everywhere! I scour charity shops for little oil paintings, I frame favourite postcards, I blow up family photographs on to canvas (super cheap if you go on to Groupon). If I like it, up it goes. Instagram is a hot bed of independent art, both for prints and for limited edition specials. Try King & McGaw, RoomFifty, Gayle Mansfield, Quirk & Rescue, Nickie Kelly Interiors, Homeplace, Hilary & Flo, Diane Hill, Age Of Reason, Disko Kids, Curious Egg, Blank White Space, Eleanor Bowmer, Dom & Ink, Rockett St George, Tipperley Hill or Greenlili Art. There’s plenty of inspiration to be taken if you look for it.
For limited edition statement art, try The Art Of Protest, an art gallery based in York. If you are looking for large artworks, Surface View have a choice of thousands of different prints to choose from and can do them in any size (my favourite artwork in my home is a Slim Aarons photograph, Hotel Du Cap D’Roc, which came from their site – they no longer do this range but they do have similar).
Q5: Where Does Your Neon Come From?
I’ve got two different types of neon in my home. The first one I’ve had a few years and it’s made by the amazing Light Up North who are based fairly locally to me in Saltburn On Sea. They’re unbelievably creative and their work is extensive, custom made and they’ll work to any brief. I have a piece of their work in my kitchen – Shine On You Crazy Diamond. This was one of my Dad’s favourite songs so they created a neon on steel with pink wire that now sits above my cooker. Even though he’s no longer here, I like to think he’s looking down on my shoddy baking skills with a glass of wine.
The second neon in my home is the piece in the hallway. This is LED neon and it’s produced by super creative duo, Bag & Bones who are based in London. Again, it’s custom made to order – Kiss Me Beneath The Milky Twilight. This is a favourite song that was in the charts when Joe and I met – it’s on a dimmer so that you can have it super bright or a little more subtle. Gigi can even creative a custom neon based on your own handwriting – how cool is that?
Both of these neons are flexible, so if I decide I’d like to place them elsewhere they’re easy to move. From an art perspective, I love the fact that these two songs have real meaning to me and I will never tire of them. An investment, but a good one.
So there’s my top five interior based questions that I am most regularly asked. Oh, and the most popular non interior based question? That is undoubtedly the one about slogan tees. Smith & Webb, Cordelia Hearts, Muthahood and Wexbaby are all favourites and the Walkies one (which never fails to incur a flurry of messages) is from The Distinguished Dog Company.
The social aspect of Instagram is for me, the most fulfilling and I never tire of responding to the people who message me daily. So please keep asking! Unless, of course, you’re Frank, Harry, Fred or David in which case, thanks but I’m not interested. Ha.