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Harvey Jones Guest Blog Q&A: Amble & Ash

Where did your passion for interior design come from?
It started when we bought our first home, and then renovated our second, but really ramped up when we began to design our build project together. My husband is an architect, so implementing ideas right from those initial sketches on paper was very exciting. When we reached the final stages and moved to the interiors I was like a child in a sweetie shop. It was daunting and overwhelming at times, but ultimately, I think we made some great choices in the finishes we chose. There’s not too much that I would do differently given the option again.

What is your design mantra?
Create a haven by surrounding yourself with things that make you happy. For some people this will manifest itself in lots of eclectic clutter, busy fabrics and bright colours. For others it will mean restful spaces, minimalism and a soft palette. I am definitely the latter (with a bit of plant clutter thrown in!) but I can totally appreciate the former too. A home should be somewhere you feel cossetted, comfortable and at ease. That will be different things for different people.

How does this reflect in the design of your house? 
We have a busy, growing family, and for us big spaces that we could share easily were very important. We designed an airy kitchen, dining, living area specifically for that reason, and enjoy a space where homework can be happening at the same time as cooking, reading and relaxing. It’s functional but the flow is really lovely too, within the different zones. There’s also a big connection to the outdoors, and the countryside setting that we live within. Light, for me, is always a huge factor in design and we specifically incorporated huge windows to maximise on this, as well as the rural views. Because I like clean lines and organised spaces, we also added big floor to ceiling larder cupboards into our kitchen, in which we store all the detritus of everyday. Things that would previously have occupied worktop space, such as our toaster, microwave, food processor, utensils, are all safely stored away in here. Easy to access but tucked out of sight when the doors are closed over!

Have you noticed any new trends in the kitchen?
There has definitely been a move towards dark colours in kitchens, and I really love all the new imagery of more moody shades. When we built our house, five years ago now, it was still in the high season of the cream shaker style kitchen. I remember thinking we were quite fashion forward in choosing our sage green island unit! I think the country kitchen still has its place, but there’s a new wave of more industrial, contemporary looks which are equally as beautiful. I love the clean, fuss free lines and integrated appliances.

If you had £250 to spend in the kitchen, what would you buy?
Some new saucepans! We have ones that we use repeatedly and for some reason have never gotten around to getting any more (that maybe tells you something about our cooking prowess!)  I really love the look of copper or brass pans. Pretty enough to keep on show too!

What colour(s) should we be using in the kitchen?

I think it’s really down to personal taste, isn’t it? We have chosen a soft palette and if we were planning another one I think I’d stick to the same soft tones, but perhaps incorporate a chalky, stone colour on cabinetry with a darker grey island unit. And I’d definitely choose Quartz worktops throughout. Our wood is beautiful but difficult to maintain. You can’t beat stone for the look and for practicality.

What are your three top tips for decorating shelves in the kitchen?
I would always go for styled clutter! It might look like there’s lots going on, but everything has its place. I would say firstly, stick to two or three colours or tones. I have gone for a bit of a country ‘potting shed’ look, with lots of green, and natural materials like terracotta and wicker.

Secondly, mix sizes of objects. When grouping things work in odd numbers and, if in doubt add glass. It is translucent so will never be too in your face!

Lastly, incorporate things that you will actually use!  I display pretty cake stands, plant misters, herbs and bowls on my shelves. They are beautiful to look at but also really close to hand if I need them!

What are your kitchen must-haves?
My eldest daughter loves to bake, so definitely our KitchenAid mixer. It is non-stop on the weekends!  We couldn’t do without an island unit now either, as it really centres the kitchen and we do all our preparation and washing up at it. I love that the sink faces into the dining and living space, so even the more menial jobs become a bit sociable. We also had the foresight to put plug sockets into our island unit cupboards and these have been such a good addition to the space. So handy if you need to use the electric tin opener or juicer close by to the sink!

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