Creating stylish, eclectic kitchens with colour

When choosing a kitchen, most people nowadays will play safe and buy a white one. Bright white, off white or cream. Either sleek and contemporary or a shaker style to create a more traditional look. A super expensive one or a cheaper version from Ikea. This is then usually combined with some neutral, grey or cream tiles, a slate floor and some rustic natural wood shelving and furniture. Nothing wrong with that, it’ll look fab for years to come. But how about stepping away from the white and throwing in some colour? A wall in a bright colour, a bright yellow vintage cabinet, colourful mosaic tiles or a mixed bag of old painted chairs. Colourful accessories like pendant lights, large framed posters and things like kettles and toasters in bold colours are great too for contrast. Be brave! You don’t want your kitchen to look like everyone else’s, do you?

A feature wall with colourful, patterned wallpaper can make a bold statement in a dining room or kitchen. Imagine the room with just a white wall…not quite the same, right?

Bold contemporary, graphic artwork can also add some real style to your kitchen-diner. It combines well with white furniture and a white washed floor.

Not strictly a white kitchen, but too gorgeous not to share. Fabulous choice of colour. 

Adding sliding (barn) doors to a kitchen can also add a difference to a room. How about adding one to an alcove you use as a store cupboard/pantry? Turn it into a blackboard for a real eye catching element. 


Another example of bold wallpaper and accent colours in a great space.


Want to see more eclectic and colourful kitchens? All images and more can be found on my Pinterest board. 

Rockabilly on a budget

Design project

As a give-away price on Facebook last year I offered to create a free design for someone’s room of choice and I was delighted to be asked to come up with ideas for a living room in a wonderful old house Laurencekirk. High ceilings, lots of character – and a very inspiring interior already. The owners, artists and musicians, had already decorated their home in a fabulously creative way, colourful and full of vintage finds, including a vintage radio collection and a 1960s record player. I found it quite a challenge to add to this! Probably the most eclectic room I have done so far, I decided to mainly focus on storage and making the room look a bit more ‘together’, using the pieces that were already there. I also wanted to change the wall colour to give the room a bit more wow factor without losing the wonderful bohemian vibe that was present in the house.

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Specs:

  • Colours: duck egg/teal and red (‘vintage rockabilly’)
  • Shelving in the alcoves around existing fireplace.
  • New sofa, table and possible accessories.
  • Storage for kids toys and books.
  • Piano, rug and fireplace artwork are staying.

Have a look at the Pinterest board and what I came up with: Pinterest board

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The budget was very low, more like next to nothing, so I had put my upcycling and second-hand buying hat on and do my best to come up with cost-effective solutions. As their old Ikea sofa was really on its way out, I managed to source a gorgeous vintage leather chesterfield sofa in the process for an absolute bargain, which is now taking pride of place in the room. The shelving in the alcoves are going to be scaffold planks. The walls in the design are painted a duck-egg/teal blue and on the wall at the far end I imagined a nice red floral wallpaper, as a contrast with some heavy blue velvet curtains. A wooden crate on wheels holds toys, with a soft sheepskin rug to play on and a couple of knitted pouffes as additional seating, that can be moved around the room. A slim drawer unit fits in between the piano and the sofa for additional storage and to put a plant or table lamp on. The artwork above the sofa could include a changing exhibition of kids drawings, framed vintage fabrics, photographs or prints.

 

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How to paint a dated traditional wooden kitchen

So I was tidying up the other day and stumbled across some photos of when my husband and I first moved into our house nine years ago. Our house is a detached 1930s granite house in an Aberdeenshire village. It has a kitchen extension built by the previous owners. The decor at the time was very dated throughout the house; terracotta walls, mahogany woodwork, pine staircase, green carpets and a traditional maple shaker kitchen. But the kitchen was solid wood, good quality, made locally and as moving house is expensive enough as it is we decided to try and live with it. We lived with it for six years! Today I will show you the before, the interim and the after.

So this how we found it. Oucha. Yellow walls and orange wood. But a good cooker!

Below: looking into the kitchen extension from the main house (the garden was also a little over grown, look at the windows! And what on earth are those light shades?). Excuse the poor quality picture – it is a picture taken of a print.

I thought about a colour scheme to somehow tone down the yellowness of the room and decided on steel blue-grey for the walls to combine better with the natural wood. We replaced the cheap sticky vinyl flooring with (also pretty affordable and very practical) dark slate look laminate, which is in fact still our flooring today. I painted over the 1990s yellow floral tiles with some grey tile paint and ordered some colourful tile stickers online. We also replaced the wooden door knobs with brushed steel ones and stuck a chalkboard sheet on the cupboard door. Oh yes, and that silly breakfast table went of course.

Here is the interim phase! Slightly better than it was.

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Below: the dining area. Looking pretty neat, I think, and much fresher in greys than yellow. (Those wishbone chairs? I sold those…I know, aren’t they nice?)

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We must have grown rather fond of our silly old kitchen, because six years later, when we decided to change things again, we amazingly still didn’t rip it out. We just hate waste and rather ‘upcycle’ something. The kitchen worked fine for us, so why not just update it a bit more? We also felt sorry for the kitchen – we are such a sad bunch! After all, it wasn’t her fault that she had gone out of fashion, was it?

So we took off the wall hung cabinets and another unit on the other side, painted the ones left, spent some money on a fancy big fridge, a freestanding dresser, oak shelving, new tiles and a slate worktop.

Of course, I would be lying if I said it all happened as by magic overnight. For a while I seriously doubted our decision. The dust, the disruption…trying to keep a baby out of the mess. You get the picture.

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In the end it must have taken us a good few weeks to paint the cabinets, organise tradesmen and redecorate. But the result was worth the effort. Hello contemporary country kitchen!

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So how do you paint an old wooden kitchen?

1. Prep & prime

You really don’t have to go and strip the cabinet doors before painting. Giving it a good sand to create a key – is key. Then wash off the dust with sugar soap and get the primer out. This doesn’t need to go on too neatly, but the bigger your brush strokes are, the harder to sand them smooth afterwards. Buy good quality soft brushes and do the brush strokes in the same direction. With the shaker style doors you will also have the beveled edges and corners to deal with. It worked well for me to first do the inside (lower) square in one direction (making sure to take away any surplus paint from the corners with the tip of my brush), and then the middle panel and outside frame. Once it is dry, use fine sandpaper to create a nice smooth base for your gloss (or eggshell). You may need more than one coat of primer, and remember to sand in between coats and wipe off the dust.

2. Top coat

For the final colour we chose Farrow and Ball Off White eggshell (water based), used on the cabinets on the right. A nice colour that looks neither white nor cream and sometimes even a bit grey depending on the light. For the ones on the left we decided to get that same colour mixed up as an oil based paint at a decorator’s trade centre (Crown). Why? Because it really makes a difference! Now, three years later the water based paint is starting to show some wear, whereas the oil based paint is still perfect. It maybe isn’t the most eco friendly paint to use but for a high traffic area like a kitchen you really don’t want flaking paint after a year or so. Oil based paint is good to work with, goes on smoothly, but takes longer to dry and can still feel a bit sticky for days while it is hardening. So don’t touch it! And don’t try and sand it when it is not hard yet. I must admit I did not sand in between the top coats, as the paint stuck fine and I was scared to ruin the previous finish. It worked ok.

For a more detailed how-to you can find plenty tutorials online including this one

3. Hardware and other upgrades

We reused most of the brushed steel knobs and handles we put on previously, which looked great on the newly painted cabinets.

Other alterations we made were moving the sink away from the window to create more work surface next to the cooker. Lethenty Cabinetmakers did an excellent job refitting the cabinets, placing a new worktop, tap and big cooker hood, steel splash back and the nice floating natural oak shelves.

Last but not least we had the wall above the work top covered in pastel coloured craqueled glaze metro style tiles and the room painted in a soft pale grey-white.

Do we still love it? Yes! The pretty slate work top proved a little bit sensitive to lemon stains and knocks…but hey, it is a work top after all so we just have to be careful. The kitchen overall feels lighter, brighter and more modern – but still very unique because of the choices we have made. We could have ripped it all out, but it feels so much better giving the kitchen a new lease of life. And we saved some money too. What we’ll do in the future? Oh, we are always full of ideas and no doubt there will be changes again in years to come. But the kitchen stays for now.

Below: a bit more of a ‘lived in’ and messy real-life picture after two years! (and oh, look, we also broke through to the lounge in the meantime! But that dusty episode I will leave for a future post…)

 

Oriental rug roundup. From fab to faded

Choosing a rug can be quite tricky. There are so many nice ones in a million different colours and styles. Plus, when they are large they have a big influence on the style and feel of your room, so it is important to think about the look you ultimately want to achieve. I am currently very much in love with the vintage oriental, or Persian, ones and I was lucky enough to find a giant red one for little pennies on Gumtree last year, including the worn patches for added ‘character’! I have gathered some great images for you below of fabulous oriental rugs and how to use them in your interior. Enjoy!

A beautiful rich oriental rug is looking great in a bright bedroom. Wonderful blue ombre curtains too.

The nice thing about traditional rugs is that they go quite well in a contemporary setting, combined with other vintage pieces but also in front of a modern sofa on your living room floor. Very versatile and timeless, making it a good investment.

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image: my Domaine

Don’t forget your hallway! A colourful runner can make a great statement. This should also be not too expensive as they are a lot smaller. A good place to find vintage rugs is your local auction house. Just browse their online catalogue and see what is coming up.

A way to add a pop of colour to a bright room with lots of whites is to add a vintage red rug. Goes very well with the Eames chairs too.

A vintage rug and a velvet sofa. You don’t need much more to create a beautiful, cosy room.

I also love faded blues and indigo patterns right now. If you are not really into the traditional reds, try and find an ‘overdyed’ rug in a blue or green shade. Great if you combine it with natural wood, greys and whites for a calmer look.

Kilim rugs are another traditional type of wool rug from the middle east, usually with geometrical patterns or stripes, but instead of the Persian rugs shown above kilims are flat woven. They come in fabulous colours and can really give your room a stylish boost if your looking to brighten up the space. A lot of high street shops now sell kilims in both traditional patterns and contemporary styles, including John Lewis, West elm and Ikea.
You can also try sourcing gorgeous vintage kilims on Etsy or other online stores such as kilim.com

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A modern style kilim by John Lewis

House tour: a small converted farmhouse in the Netherlands

On my travels through the Netherlands this month I popped into my friend Frederiek’s house in the tiny village of Huizinge, north Groningen, who lives there with her partner Wimer and their three-year old son Teun. Huizinge is a beautiful characterful village surrounded by endless flat green fields and far horizons. Frederiek and Wimer recently bought one of the old houses and brought it right up to date with a gorgeous interior full of vintage finds, contemporary art, minimalist touches and plenty of house plants.

Although the house inside doesn’t look anything like it originally was, Frederiek and Wimer didn’t have to do a lot of structural work to the building themselves when they bought it. “We bought the house casco (Dutch for a ‘shell’ building ed.), so it was mainly the inside that still needed to be finished. That way we were able to make the interior just the way we wanted which was great because we were looking for a blank canvas to work with”, Frederiek says. As a result the house is now much more suitable for modern living. The small rooms in the front of the house were originally living room and storage but are now the two bedrooms and the old animal barn got converted into a spacious and very bright kitchen-dining room.

Frederiek (here pictured with my husband)

The couple, who both work in the creative sector, have a keen eye for finding design on a shoestring budget and were lucky enough to salvage the large globe lights from a building in Groningen that was about to be demolished. Other vintage finds are the mid century dining chairs, sofa and armchair and the beautiful old tall glazed cabinet that came out of a cafe. Teun’s nursery is an eclectic collection of heirloom furniture from Frederiek’s family.



Despite the huge transformation there are still many original features which give the house a lot of character, such as the old barn windows, wooden doors and beams, now all painted in a fresh duck egg blue and warm greys. The seamless minimalist grey Egaline floor was poured throughout the house and forms a nice contrast. This type of floor is normally only used as under flooring but when mixed slightly different and coated it works well as a finished product too. Oh, and it is highly practical – what else would you expect from the Dutch?

A glass fronted extension looking out onto the garden and adjoining fields forms their bright ‘sitting room with a view’ including a wood burning stove, wall to wall book shelves and plenty of space for little Teun to play.

Their drive to make the house their own doesn’t stop here though. Having only moved in last December the energetic couple is already working on their next design project: the garden studio / guestroom. No doubt this will look just as stunning as the rest. I can’t wait to see it!

What inspired me this week: bohemian meets mid-century

I am currently working with a lovely family on the redesign of their living room in a new built home near Aberdeen. A wonderful project as they asked me to combine the mid-century modern and scandinavian style with a touch of bohemian. Right up my street, I love it! Needless to say I have spent a lot of time on Pinterest, finding plenty of inspiration. Here are some of the most beautiful images I gathered on my board this week. If anything, they show that mid-century modern or Scandinavian decor doesn’t have to mean minimalist at all.

If you want Nina’s Apartment to restyle your home, please find out more details here.

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Mid century modern furniture in a victorian house – how to get it right

mid century dining set in swedish cottage
image: The Vintage Cabin


I often get people telling me:”I love mid century furniture but it doesn’t suit our older style house. I disagree with that. I believe that the clean, simple design of mid century furniture suits most properties, whatever the age of the house and no matter whether you live in the city or countryside.
If you happen to live in an old house with lots of character, a minimalist, understated piece of furniture would create a nice contrast and compliment the features of the house rather than compete with it. Likewise, a Victorian property with high ceilings and large bay windows forms a perfect back drop to show off the clean lines of a mid century modern armchair, sofa or sideboard. So if you recognise yourself in that quote above, please don’t feel you have compromise on style, just because you think a country cottage doesn’t go with a sleek teak sideboard. Think outside the box! Be brave and mix it up, you might surprise yourself.

mid century modern furniture in victorian house

This beautiful Victorian apartment in Manchester features many mid century modern pieces, which look fabulous combined with the high ceilings and architectural features. A nice combination form the minimalist teak wall unit, the heritage colour green, herringbone floor and the oversized drapes. Very stylish. Image via Seeds and Stitches

mid century armchair and bookcase in georgian house

This bright Georgian house in Islington, London with its old shutters, decorative ceiling and original fireplace, gives a nice contrast with the 1950s design of the armchair and bookcase. Great little pop colour of the standard lamp too. Image via Design Milk

orange retro lamp above a mid century dining table in cottage
I love this little dining room with the old floor boards, bright orange retro pendant light and mid century dining set. This would look great in any country cottage. Image via Desire to Inspire

Small danish teak mid century sideboard in swedish house
If you live in a small cottage, apartment or your living room just isn’t very big, try finding a smaller mid century sideboard. Keep the room light and bright and combine it with  some vintage finds and a statement armchair for an eclectic, scandi look. Image via Desire to Inspire

For more ideas on how to create a beautiful interior using mid century modern furniture, have a look on Nina’s Apartment’s Pinterest Board.

Five easy ways to create a bohemian interior

Five ways to create a bohemian interior

Bohemian style is all about indulgence, decoration, oversized drapes, large house plants, and plentiful soft furnishings. Add the exotic furniture and souvenirs from travels far away and you get the picture. Romantic escapism, day dreaming, artistic flair and heaps of personality and soul. Few things are new, most are found, inherited or collected, lots reused and re-purposed.
I am probably too much of a mid century modern fan to go all floral and decorative in my own house, but I do have a weakness for the more exotic interiors and love taking ideas and inspiration from them. If you’re a monochrome kind of person, look away now, because here are my top five tips for getting the bohemian vibe going in your own home!

1. The Peacock chair

Decorative, feminine, exotic…the peacock chair is a true essential in a bohemian home. Surround it by lush plants in your sun room, drape your scarves on it next to your dressing table in the bedroom or create a cosy little corner with plenty of books, cushions and textiles.

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The Peacock chair, here combined with a shaggy rug, floor cushions, cactus plants, rattan accessories and a vintage swivel chair. Img: Moon to Moon

Vintage peacock chair
Could you recreate this private little jungle in your sun room? Image Sarah Kaye

2. Textiles

Do you love traveling to exotic places? Ever been to Marrakesh or Ecuador? I bet you came back with some pretty throws in your suitcase. Use them! Drape them over the sofa, hang them on the wall. Other essential textile items are rugs, shaggy or oriental ones, ideally slightly worn. Floor cushions are also great to add some bohemian style to your room. Click here for some pretty vintage rugs available in our shop right now.

Bohemian bedroom
A rug draped over the bed? Why not. And hang those guitars up in case you feel like serenading your loved one in the morning. Image Magic Dream Life

Layered rugs in bohemian home
Totally my style, mid century minimalist furniture combined with oriental kilim rugs. Love it. Image Sfgirlbybay

Bohemian textiles on a corner sofa with fig leave plant
Who needs matching cushions anyway? Great mix of textures and patterns going on here. Image The Jungalow

3. House plants

House plants are great to add a bit of bohemian style to your room, the larger the better! Hang them suspended from the ceiling in macrame hangers or just place them on the floor in a big ceramic planter or old tin or brass pot. Did you know plants clean the air in your house, making your living space extra healthy? Better than any artificial air purifier. Here’s some more useful info I shared on the blog earlier.

House plant in bohemian interior
Great combination of a large houseplant in an old brass pot, a vintage chest, natural wooden flooring, colourful art and layered textiles on the sofa. Image Pinterest


4. Vintage, antiques and curious collections

Love going to flea markets? Collecting weird and wonderful items? Show them off! Group your vintage finds to create little collections and displays, on a shelf on the wall, a table or in the window. We have some cool decorative vintage finds in stock too, so have a browse if you like. Lanterns are great to collect and display together, both inside and outside – because why stop indoors? Create a magical bohemian corner in your garden, on your balcony or decking. Oh and get that peacock chair out when it’s sunny!

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Oooh…this makes me long for summer. Gorgeous lanterns. Image Residence Style

 
ceramic collection in black vintage dresser
Ceramics and crockery! Mix and match, collect beautiful ‘orphan teacups’, bring back decorative bowls and dishes from your holidays abroad, find fabulous plates in the charity shop. They will look fab all together in your vintage kitchen dresser. Image via Life is in Everyhting Beautiful / Tumblr


bohemian interior glass bottles
Group fresh green leaves and a single pink rose in vintage bottles together against a dark painted wall. Image via Bloglovin

5. Art. Lots of it. And books. Lots of books.

I have a weakness for art, whether it is big oil paintings, graphic design, prints, black and white photography or sculpture. I LOVE art and when I see something that catches my eye and ‘speaks’ to me – I have to buy it. Well, if it is within budget that is… You’d be surprised though how often you may find something that would look great in your collection that isn’t expensive. A little bronze sculpture at a yard sale, a vintage oil painting in a charity shop or a cool film poster at an auction. You really don’t need to fork out thousands to buy original art by famous names to get a great collection going. Just do it. Try also going around exhibitions in your local area to discover artists in your own community whose work may be more affordable than you think. Or how about framing some of your children’s drawings to add to the mix? Or an illustrated page from an old book? To get the bohemian vibe going, group your framed art on a wall to create a colourful eye catching gallery. Lean them against a wall, overlapping even, or arrange them on a shelf if you like changing them around every now and then.

Bohemian art collection with mid century chair and books
Old paintings, framed prints, stacks of books, vintage furniture and oriental rugs. Oh…and that mid century chair…what a gorgeous mix. Image Lonny
Floral paintings gallery wall
These are the type of paintings you could easily come across at flea markets or charity shops. Group similar ones to create a colourful ‘themed’ wall. Image Happy Loves Rosie
Framed plants and curiosities
Not into paintings? Frame your plants and dried flowers! Collections are all about reflecting your own personality, so be creative and think outside the box. Image Our Southern Home

Inspired? Have fun giving your own interior the bohemian touch. And remember:

Bohemian quote

House tour: a mini tour around Nina’s own home

I love interior design, I love styling, my house is never finished. My style? I mix it up. A lot of customers ask if my house looks like my shop, full of vintage. Well, not quite! Of course we own some lovely mid-century furniture and quirky stuff, but I also have two little boys who like to run around with superhero swords and get their sticky fingers everywhere, so nothing can be too valuable and precious really. So I would call my style colourful, practical and vintage-meets-now. After all, I strongly believe that vintage furniture and decor should be functional rather than just to look at and not touch.

Built in bookcase, open plan living, wooden flooring, pappelina rug

We turned a 1960s dressing table into a small sideboard by taking off the mirror. A bunch of Ikea Billy bookcases got the ‘built in’ look by a local joiner (who also put in some awesome sliding pocket doors! NB: please ignore the absence of skirting boards, we’re on it!). A mid-century tea trolley makes a handy side table next to the sofa. A retro teak bookcase is now a great storage for my CD collection.

Last year we invested in a beautiful handmade wood and leather armchair by young Scottish designer Hugh Parsons.  Oh, and we LOVE art. We’re running out of wall space! I also collect mid-century ceramics, which are dotted all around the house. West German, Bitossi, Swedish pottery, I can’t get enough of it.

My interior often changes, but the style stays mainly the same. Being a vintage trader does help finding some cool things for your home, that’s for sure!

handmade wooden chair, grey wall, built in bookcase, wooden floor, oriental rug

Bitossi style lampbase with oatmeal linen shade