This week we invited Bianca Hall, the mastermind behind the French For Pineapple blog, to share her passion for interiors. Bianca shares our passion for making the kitchen the "heart of the home", and believes in the value of a coat of paint to easily lift and update any interior design.
1. Tell us about yourself and what you do.
I’m Bianca Hall, I write French For Pineapple – an interiors blog that documents my many DIY and redecorating adventures, and features products and brands that I love. I live in a Victorian end of terrace house in North London, with my husband, our two children, Edie (13), and Baxter (6), and Cleo the kitten. They no longer blink an eye when I announce that I’m about to completely change a room, be it by painting, swapping it with a different room or anything else I dream up. It literally never ends, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! I’ve dubbed it OCRD, which stands for Obsessive Compulsive Redecorating Disorder, which is always followed by a severe case of the DDE’s – the Decorating Domino Effect!
2. Where did your passion for interior design come from?
I think it was drilled into me from birth. My father was always mid-renovation, between being a commercial and film director and photographer when I was really young, and then my mother never stopped making a house more beautiful when we constantly moved from one rented home to another. It was, and still is, her hobby. The fact that we rented for years and years never stood in her way. So I look at it as my redecorating DNA – it’s just in me. It became more of a passion once I’d settled down and had kids and was therefore spending more time at home. I think the more you’re in your home, the more important your interiors become, and they can really affect your overall happiness, mood and state of mind - whether you realise it or not.
3. What is your design mantra?
Just do it. People generally have such a fear of changing or choosing the colour of their walls, but paint is without a doubt the easiest and cheapest way to dramatically transform a room. And it’s only paint! If you make a mistake, just paint it again. That said, never ever choose paint without getting tester pots first, because that really is asking for trouble. You simply can not tell what a colour will look like in a room from a tiny swatch in a paint chart.
Aside from that, it’s important to mix things up: High, Low, Old and New. Meaning a higher-end special statement piece – every room needs one, be it a headboard that’s been upholstered with beautiful fabric, an amazing light-fitting, a piece of treasured art, or a statement lamp. Something that not everyone on Instagram has! If you mix it up, suddenly that cheaper piece from the famous giant Swedish superstore is elevated and won’t be so obviously from there. A new sofa with a vintage coffee table, or a vintage sideboard with a really modern lamp, are great ways to mix it up even further. This creates a much more interesting, and layered look and feel to a room.
4. How does this reflect in the design of your house?
I think this comes across in all our rooms…
In the kitchen I’ve gone very neutral, which for me, felt almost risky, because historically I’ve been into very saturated colour. But recently I’ve felt more drawn to soft warm neutrals for walls, so that’s what I’ve gone for. We went with low-priced cabinetry, high end taps and sink, mixed with beautiful and affordable brass handles and a solid surface worktop.
In both the kids rooms I’ve gone with amazing statement wallpaper, and Edie has an affordable wardrobe, a vintage mirror and new bed and chest of drawers. Baxter has an affordable light fitting and furniture, with vintage toys on display.
In the living room we have a vintage 70’s coffee table, and Pieff chair, with a modern sofa, statement lighting and artwork, and affordable decorative objects.
The bedroom has a statement headboard, and chandelier, vintage side table, chest of drawers and sofa, and cheap divan base that I’ve covered to match the DIY headboard.
5. Have you noticed any new trends in the kitchen?
Yes, kitchens have always been considered the "heart of the home", which I completely agree with, and kitchen design is reflecting that more and more. There’s a trend for creating comfortable seating areas within kitchens, which is much more inviting than hard chairs, and something I was adamant we’d keep when we recently redid our kitchen.
People are opting not to have wall units which makes a space feel more open and airy, again encouraging you to spend more time in there. Shallow ledges rather than deep shelves are taking their place and wall lights are big news too.
Brass is still having a huge moment, with satin brass worktops, splash-backs, taps and sinks and units popping up, and mixed metals are encouraged, not frowned upon, and a general move towards kitchens that look less traditionally kitchen-like, and more like a room you’d want to hang out in.
6. If you had £250 to spend in the kitchen, what would you buy?
Ooh that’s a tricky one! I can’t decide between some beautiful copper pots, or a piece of brass sheeting for the splash-back…
7. What colour(s) should we be using in the kitchen?
For walls I think warm pale neutrals will be sticking around but we’ll see more pastels on walls too, like mint, peach even palest lilacs. For cabinetry, navy blue has had its day, and olive green will be the next colour to have a kitchen moment, and rich dark chocolate browns. But I think we’re going to see natural wood (or wood-look) making a comeback for cabinets too.
Personally, I’d like to see people having a bit more fun with kitchen design in general, and playing with different finishes like ebony cerused oak.
8. What are your three top tips for decorating shelves in the kitchen?
- Keep the clutter to a minimum: Easier said than done, but try to keep clutter behind closed doors, and use the shelves for more decorative, less messy items like nice glassware, and ceramics. Not only will it look good, but it will create a nice calm atmosphere.
- Add a plant or three: Trailing plants look so pretty on a shelf, or try a small virtually un-killable Snake or ZZ plant.
- Vary Heights: When you’re arranging your items, keep stepping back to see how they flow. Don’t group all the shorter things together, mix the heights to achieve an organic, balanced look.
9. What are your kitchen must-haves?
Beautiful glassware including champagne saucers, pretty ceramics and a few plants. I can live without most kitchen gadgets as long as I have the means to get the same result, so we don’t have a coffee machine taking up space for example. We stick to the old-school Bialetti Moka stovetop espresso maker instead. I wouldn’t say no to a KitchenAid stand mixer though. That’s one gadget I’d happily make space for.
10. Where do you go for design inspiration? (websites, magazines, Instagram accounts etc.)
Inspiration is everywhere! I’m an Instagram addict, and Pinterest is always an inspiration rabbit hole, but I do love interiors magazines the most. Elle Decoration and Living Etc obviously, but my favourites are Elle Décor and Architectural Digest. Boutique hotel lobby’s, bars, restaurants and bathrooms are always brilliant for inspiration, and there are just too many gorgeous restaurants and cafes in general with stunning inspirational interiors. I have a list a mile long of places I need to visit!
QUIRE FIRE QUESTIONS:
- Pastels or primaries? Pastels
- Plain or patterned? Plain
- Chairs or stools? Chairs
- Wood or stone? Stone
- Aga or oven? Oven
- Industrial pendants or decadent chandelier? Decadent chandelier
- Larder or utility room? Oh don’t make me choose, can I have both?
- Cooking or eating? Eating
- Instagram or Pinterest? Instagram
- Minimalist or maximalist? Maximinimalist!
Keep up to date with Bianca's take on all things design related via her blog and Instagram page.