Maria Speake runs salvage company and design practice Retrouvius with partner Adam Hills. They skilfully blend reclaimed pieces into modern settings. Here are the top tips from this decorator:
- Do have plants in your home – not stiff flowers in vases, but living plants.
- Do try outrageous decor in your ground-floor loo. Lose your inhibitions and go for something really bold and fun.
- Do remember that small rooms can be wonderful, so opening up a space isn\’t always the best solution. Color, wallpaper and fabrics can have a much greater impact when they\’re not competing.
- Don\’t be half-hearted when it comes to materials -commit yourself to them. A whole wall in one material can look calmer than several individual sections.
- Do learn when to leave an edge rough and when to sand it smooth. The clean profile of a piece of stone is beautiful, as is the original, worn edge of hardwood.
- Do use familiar textiles in unexpected ways: corduroy for curtains, perhaps, or lengths of velvet as wall panels.
- Don\’t blast spaces with artificial light. Task lighting is environmentally friendly and can provide the spirit that oil lamps once brought to Georgian homes.
- I love the flicker of candlelight, too.
- Don\’t forget the power of organic materials such as tiles and leather. Use tiles as you would paint: have more rather than fewer. They\’re cheaper than a good piece of artwork and have a bigger impact.
- Don\’t scrimp on spatial or structural alterations. Theycan be a cost-effective redesign choice.
My spring updates. It\’s easy to overlook the change of the seasons – particularly in London, where winter and summer merge – so I\’ll bring spring bulbs into my home. I\’ll swap my textiles from wool and cashmere to linen and voile, and flip my velvet cushions to show their linen backing. I\’ll also move furniture nearer to the windows to take advantage of increased light levels.