This month we welcome Rachel, the mastermind behind The Ordinary Lovely - an award-winning blog about interiors and family life. We share a love of colour and are keen on showing off personality in the home.
1. Tell us about yourself and what you do.
Hi, I’m Rachel, former automotive communications professional and mum of two boys, aged seven and five, living in the North Wales countryside. I gave up writing about engines, exhausts and manufacturing processes after my second son was born and I now work mostly from home - part-time writing and editing the blog of a children’s interiors company, and also writing my own family lifestyle and interiors blog, The Ordinary Lovely. I also run introductory blogging and social media courses for small businesses in North Wales.
2. Where did your passion for interior design come from?
Despite my parents building their own house when I was younger and buying my own home nearly twenty years ago, it wasn’t until we moved to Switzerland in 2006 that I first became interested in interior design. The Swiss favour a more Scandinavian wood/texture/white walls/warmth feel, and it was probably the first time that I’d seen so many homes and houses not adopting the carpet/curtains/matching three-piece suite look that’s so prevalent in the UK (not so much anymore, admittedly). And because we were renting over there, it made me more creative in terms of adding personality to the different rooms by buying versatile furniture and accessories. Actually, a lot of things that I bought then are now sitting happily in our countryside home in North Wales … and they fit in equally as well as they did in our contemporary Zurich apartment.
3. What is your design mantra?
Add the colour and the personality with accessories. Always. And buy the best quality basics that you can afford. We’ve been using the same kitchen table, coffee tables, TV stand, bed, and sideboard for nearly ten years now and I can see us using them for at least another ten years. We invested in a wood and a style that will stand the test of time and serve as a perfect backdrop for more colourful accessories… things that are cheaper and easier to source and change than a 10-seater table!
4. How does this reflect in the design of your house?
For the most part (although not yet, as we only moved a few months ago), you’ll find white walls, neutral flooring, solid wood furniture, and cool and colourful artwork (chosen by me) and drawings (created by my children). It can probably be summed up as Swiss-inspired calmness and functionality mixed with a touch of the modern British countryside. I promise you, it’s better than what it sounds. We’re currently living with the kitchen put in by our predecessors – solid oak units, grey worktop, tiled floor and magnolia walls. It fits the farmhouse-style of the house (a little too much wood and magnolia for my liking) but we’re planning a radical overhaul … knocking down walls, building an extension, introducing more glass to bring in the light (it’s so dark, at the moment … I can’t be in the room without ALL the lights on), and looking to create a space that’s multi-functional with the kitchen element being just part of it rather than taking over the whole room. I love Harvey Jones’ Linear Edge kitchens. That exceptional quality and seamless, minimal look and feel is exactly what we’re after.
5. Have you noticed any new trends in the kitchen?
Dark kitchens seem to be massively on the up, even though they’ve been featuring on Instagram for quite a while now. I keep spotting more and more Farrow & Ball 'Stiffkey Blue'-painted cabinets. It’s not a trend for me, but it’s become more and more popular. And with everyone loving a good #shelfie, I’m spying open shelving a lot more than I used to. I think social media plays a huge part in informing and influencing when it comes to interior design. I’m also seeing more and more wallpaper in kitchens, perhaps because we’re increasingly living in the space rather than using it as a room simply to cook in.
6. If you had £250 to spend in the kitchen, what would you buy?
Without a doubt, it would be the Stelton Emma kettle and the matching coffee maker. They are so beautiful. My heart says go for the nude but my head is telling me that I’ll like the black for longer. I work from home, so I consider a good kettle that’s also easy on the eye to be essential.
7. What colour(s) should we be using in the kitchen?
Like I mentioned earlier, darker kitchens are definitely having a moment with people braving blues and blacks, and in matte rather than a gloss finish. Both go incredibly well with beautiful blush pink tiles (a colour that doesn’t seem to be waning in our affections despite the interiors media telling us it’s all about generation Z yellow, now).
8. What are your three top tips for decorating shelves in the kitchen?
I love this question!
- One, you absolutely have to have a mixture of the beautiful and the functional … top marks for accessories that are both. So, things that you use on a daily basis but that are pretty, too.
- Two, decant things from their ugly packaging into more attractive containers, for example, cereal and pasta into beautiful glass jars, or tea bags into a stoneware canister.
- Three, add a jar or two of fresh flowers or greenery. It doesn’t have to be an expensive bouquet. A cutting or two from the garden and placed in a jar is ideal, or even a mini herb garden in plain white pots would look amazing.
9. What are your kitchen must-haves?
I spend a lot of time in the kitchen so natural light is essential … and one of the reasons we’re going to knock down walls and add more floor to ceiling windows … I need more of it in here. Well-thought-out storage is also super important. We lived in a new build before moving here in February and the kitchen looked great but didn’t have that much storage. And some of the cupboards were so high that I couldn’t actually get to everything without standing on a chair. In a room that has to work hard for the whole family, functionality is key. Finally, a good spice rack and a place to store all of my cookery books. I use both a lot!
10. Where do you go for design inspiration?
Although I spend a lot of time online, I still love a good interiors magazine. I can’t walk past Ideal Home without picking it up. Instagram can also be an inspiring place but I think you have to be careful not to allow someone else’s aesthetic persuade you to change yours. At one point, I considered painting my walls a colour other than white because so many were switching to dark blues and greys. There’s no way I could live in a dark room but Instagram almost had me thinking I could. Be inspired but follow your own path.
- Pastels or primaries? Primaries (mostly)
- Plain or patterned? Both … they work better together
- Chairs or stools? Stools
- Wood or stone? Wood
- Aga or oven? Oven
- Industrial pendants or decadent chandelier? Industrial pendants
- Larder or utility room? Larder (I swooned when I discovered our new house had a pantry)
- Cooking or eating? Eating
- Instagram or Pinterest? Pinterest
- Minimalist or maximalist? Minimalist
Inspired by Rachel's interior design ideas? Visit her blog, The Ordinary Lovely, here.
Looking for more inspiration? Request a copy of our brochure here.