Small Changes to Revamp an Interior
A Conversation with Frank Newbold
At Arlo & Jacob, we’re fans of the big and the bold! We commend anyone who lets an idea sweep them away and chooses to take the leap. Though, there’s a time to go grand, and a time to tinker. We often overlook how much can be achieved through small, targeted updates. In honour of the small, unsung heroes of the home, we’ve connected with interior designer, Frank Newbold to shed some light on minimal tweaks you can make in an interior to reap maximum rewards…
What small touches do you think make the biggest difference in shifting the ambiance of a space?
In this case you really need to think of your senses, so texture and lighting are the two key points here. They're areas that you need to pay attention to right from the start of designing your scheme. Every surface is an opportunity to introduce texture. For example, when it comes to walls, instead of painting them in flat matte emulsion, why not think of colour blocking in a two-tone paint finish with matt emulsion above and gloss below? You can apply this across any woodwork as well. It’s very effective in a hallway area, for example, and extremely practical in high traffic spaces that see a lot of mucky paws and so on. I’ve also seen gloss painted onto ceilings and it's a game-changer when it comes to reflecting light into a space.
Textured wallpapers are one of my personal favourites as well, from grasscloth to more raw linen and hemp finishes. These can be quite expensive so if you're looking to achieve the look and texture for less then there are great textured vinyl papers on the market. An added bonus is that they’re often that little bit thicker, so can cover a multitude of sins should you not have the best walls beneath!
If you’ve already completed the ‘bones’ of your space then fabrics are your go-to to achieve that important layer of texture and change of ambience of your space. If you’ve got a velvet sofa or armchair then styling cushions in heavy jacquards and lux silks will balance the depth and richness of the velvet beneath. If you've got a more light and breezy feel to your space and have opted for a statement furniture piece in linen or cotton, for example, then bouclés, wools and weaves are your best bet.
If you get stuck working out whether fabrics marry together well, I live by the rule that if one has got luster to it then go a little more lux with the rest, too. If it’s matte then stick to matte across the board, but vary your textures in the weave. It also works well to add trims and contrasting pipes for more texture and to personalise your scheme. The possibilities are endless!
Window treatments are also a great opportunity to shift the ambience of a space. Going for a double-track curtain pole that has a sheer curtain closest to the window and a second heavier drape atop will not only bring real depth and framing to your window, but will give you complete control over the ambiance! For example, drawing just the sheer curtain on a summer’s evening can bring a real whimsical, blousy feeling to a space, whilst having the heavier drapes closed on a winter’s night will give you the feel of battening down the hatches. And ultimately, if neither are drawn at all, seeing a double-curtain stacked back with the sheer peeping out beneath, I think brings a real finish and extra layer to your interiors scheme!
Could you provide a bit of guidance on selecting the right lighting for a room?
Lighting is so, so important and as you know from my home tour, one of my biggest passions! Layers of light plus the ability to control them are the keys to a successful lighting scheme. The three types of lighting to include in your ‘layers’ are ambient, task and accent/decorative. Don’t be scared - it sounds more complicated than it is…
Start with your ambient lighting. This is the foundation of the lighting in your room which, in my opinion, should always be controlled by a dimmer switch so you can tailor it to suit the occasion. Ambient can include your main light fittings such as pendants, wall lights, and spot lights. A quick note on spot lights: I’m becoming more of a convert to recessed or directional spots which avoid that glare you get in more standard versions.
Next up is your task lighting. Where do you need a focussed light? Is it over an armchair to read, or above a countertop in the kitchen? It is what it says on tin - where do you need light to carry out the tasks undertaken in the space?
Last is your accent/decorative lighting. This could be ornamental lamps, strip lighting below shelves that gives a warm wash of light, or directional light at a low temperature to highlight elements of a room such as artwork, objects or architectural features. Think of this layer as the jewellery on an outfit. It’s the finishing touch that makes all the difference!
How do you determine the best colours to suit a space?
It’s all down to the natural light that you have in the room. If your room is north facing then choosing colours with a warmer tone is really important. They can still be light colours, but you need to have a warm undertone of orange, yellow or red. Going for this side of the colour spectrum will counteract the cold northern light your room receives. On the opposite side, if your room is south facing then you have a little more wiggle room. Colours with undertones of green, blue or purple can be goers as your room already benefits from that warm direct sunlight!
Obviously the above is a base rule that I, and many other designers, stick to - but if you go for any scheme with full vigour then the results can always wow! Be purposeful with your interior decisions, and you’ll reap the rewards in abundance!
What are a few of your favourite small objects that pack a big punch in your home?
I’m a lover of vessels! No matter how big or small, adding an urn or vase is a great way of injecting texture and interest. I have a large antiqued urn on my sideboard and love the raw, imperfect texture to it. Above the cantilevered storage cupboards in the alcoves I added a lighting strip, in front of that I display various vases and trinkets that are constantly changing and I just adore how the wash of light behind creates the most gorgeous silhouettes.
One of the best and most impactful small pieces you can invest in is a good tray, be it wicker, wood, or lacquer, for example. There’s so much choice! The unassuming tray can often be underestimated, but it’s your best friend when used to group items and ground ‘zones’ on larger pieces of furniture such as coffee tables or sideboards.
What are some impactful seasonal updates you would recommend to bring a spingy feel to the home?
One thing I love to do this time of year is to pot up bulbs and bring them inside. You can have so much fun with it! I love to mix things up and use different and unexpected vessels such as vintage bowls and platters. The bulbs don’t need to be in a deep layer of soil so seeing the tops peak out through just a layer of moss can really bring that spring feeling indoors.
Another quick seasonal refresh is changing up cushions and throws. Instead of your more cosy knits and sumptuous velvets, swap in linens and cottons to bring a lighter, more springy feel!
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