This month we invited award-winning interior blogger and stylist Lisa Dawson to take part in our new series – ‘In Conversation With’. Lisa shares our passion for design and believes in the value of adding an individual touch to every interiors project.
1. Tell us about yourself and what you do.
My name is Lisa Dawson and I’m an interior blogger, writer and workshop presenter. I write a weekly blog and run monthly workshops across the country focused on Styling Your Home and Instagram workshops that help users and brands grow their accounts. I also produce tailored workshops for brands. I live in York with my husband, three children, our Lhasa Apso, Buddy and a kitten called Molly. I’m an avid home decorator, vintage addict and colour fiend and am always updating or restyling my home.
2. Where did your passion for interior design come from?
I’ve always loved thrift shopping and home decorating since before my children were born, but it’s only since we moved here to York four years ago that I’ve really been able unleash my ideas! My mum was always changing rooms around, adding and moving furniture and from her I’ve inherited my very transient decorating style. Nothing stays in one place for long in our house! I love vintage furniture and the idea that something can be reused time after time, giving it a new purpose. I started scouring charity shops for vintage items about 12 years ago and I’ve always loved the juxtaposition of mixing something old with something new. When we moved into our current home, a Georgian manor house, it was the perfect opportunity to really think about what I loved and how my home could reflect my own personality and ideas.
3. What is your design mantra?
Only have items in your home that you really, really love. If you get that right, then everything else will work around it. As long as you are passionate about your possessions, then the space they inhabit will always make you feel relaxed and content. When you walk into your own home, you want to feel as if the sun has come out!
4. How does this reflect in the design of your house? Particularly the kitchen.
When we moved into our house, the kitchen had been recently refitted. It was very lovely, but it wasn’t to my style and needed a rethink. I removed wall cupboards, repainted and added my own, non-traditional pieces such as a huge wooden chandelier and a full wall blackboard wall. I added wooden shelves as I wanted to have easy access to items that I use regularly, such as glassware and serving bowls. This was also an excellent opportunity to add lots of plants and display my favourite crockery. I’m a huge art lover so I added some quirky pieces to the wall and shelves to give the space an edge. I love cooking for family and friends so I added a range cooker plus extended the number of stools around the breakfast bar to seat five so that it became more of a sociable hub.
5. Have you noticed any new trends in the kitchen?
Texturing is a huge trend and it doesn’t have to stop when you reach the kitchen. One of the things that I brought into my space was a huge vintage Persian rug that almost covers the entire floor and it really adds an extra dimension, making it feel really cosy and more like a room than a utilitarian area. Tiles are also a fabulous way of adding individuality and there’s a big move towards using non-traditional styles in the kitchen and making them a feature by using colour and unusual shapes.
6. If you had £250 to spend in the kitchen, what would you buy?
A coffee maker! Always. I’m a coffee addict and I can’t function without two cups in the morning so a good coffee maker is an essential.
7. What colour(s) should we be using in the kitchen?
Navy is the new grey and it’s appearing everywhere as a popular alternative. Olive green is another new trend that I’m definitely going to be considering next year. The opportunity to team contrasting colours with these tones is fabulous. My own kitchen is currently navy blue and I’ve used gold framed vintage prints which blend brilliantly. Using a darker shade is both practical and effective because it provides a backdrop to any colour or greenery that you wish to add.
8. What are your three top tips for decorating shelves in the kitchen?
- Style your kitchen shelves as you would style a shelf in your living area. Use a half and half proportion of regularly used items and items that are there because they are beautiful and add interest.
- Art isn’t just for walls. Prop prints on your shelves for an eclectic look. The juxtaposition of every day items against a vintage painting or typography is hugely effective.
- Use plants in abundance. A plain shelf is immediately lifted by a pop of green. Trailing plants are the best and flourish in the kitchen, as do most varieties of ferns. And you won’t forget to water them as they are close to the tap!
9. What are your kitchen must-haves?
Plenty of cupboard storage is an absolute essential – the more, the better. I don’t think it’s possible to have too much storage in the kitchen. Deep drawers for pots and pans are another feature that I find really useful. I’ve always lusted after a larder, which for me is the dream – having all your dry stores in one handy area is my idea of perfection. From a practical point of view, I always insist on a blackboard wall. It’s perfect for writing instructions and notes when you are a family of five.
10. Where do you go for design inspiration? (websites, magazines, Instagram accounts etc.)
I find Instagram the most inspirational social media tool. By searching on hashtags related to your topic, for example #kitchendecor, you can harness every idea under the sun from accounts all across the globe. Pinterest is another fabulous source of constant inspiration and I also use Houzz for specific room ideas. I’d love to say that I use magazines as I always have done in the past, but I rarely buy them any more now that everything is online.
Quick fire questions:
- Pastels or primaries? Primaries
- Plain or patterned? Plain (unless it’s wallpaper in which case I love a pattern!)
- Chairs or stools? Chairs
- Wood or stone? Wood
- Aga or oven? Oven
- Industrial pendants or decadent chandelier? Decadent chandelier every time!
- Larder or utility room? Larder
- Cooking or eating? Cooking
- Instagram or Pinterest? Instagram
- Minimalist or maximalist? Maximalist forever.
Keep up to date with Lisa’s take on all things design related via her blog and Instagram page.