How to Decorate like Charlotte

I get asked so many times how I decorate a room and I just have not had the time to help everyone who emails me individually, so I decided to make this guide. I have created some room scheme ideas which will help you mix and match my fabrics to use in your own rooms. I will always be adding more so do visit my site again to see what is new.

When I decorate a room, I always start with the curtain and blind fabric, this is important because you must love it and if you paint a room first it is so much harder to find a fabric to match the walls, you will get very frustrated. There are more paint colours out there which you will like compared to fabric choices.

You will see in the schemes that I have made the curtain and blind fabric samples are larger than all the other samples. This is a reminder that this is an important starting point, and you will see more of this in proportion to the other fabrics we use in the room.

I find it very common that people just choose one fabric for a room and never think about all the other soft furnishings. For a bedroom you might have the headboard, cushions, lampshades and upholstery to think about. I am hoping these schemes will help show and teach you to think about the other soft furnishings in the room when you start to decorate.

Focal points are important in rooms, and in bedrooms for example you will find that the headboard and cushions are the main focal point. I have added in a padded/upholstered headboard and then a selection of cushions for the bed. If you had a large bed, I would suggest having 2 large cushions and then 2 smaller cushions in front. Cushions are worth spending money on and they help create colour, texture and interest to a room. They are easy to create or have made and you can have lots of fun adding piping, trimmings using different sizes etc. I have added quite a few trimmings to my cushions, and it really makes a difference to cushions and it will look so much more professional than having no edge. I have added pom poms, piping, fringes and frills. There are two companies you can visit who sell trims and these are and Samuel and sons. They are trade only but many curtain makers and interior designer will have an account with them. They can send you out samples so you can see what the colours are like. Do consider that they are not cheap and can often cost as much as the fabric. They make a massive difference to a scheme and are worth the money, a small amount can go a long way.

Headboards can be a bit of an investment, you can have them made especially for you out of any fabric or you can cover your own, I always use The Headboard Workshop. You can also buy calico covered headboards from The Dormy House and just used a staple gun to attach the fabric at the back, it looks amazing and is easy to achieve. There are lots of companies out there now who will make you headboards and ottomans etc. and you just need to send them your chosen fabrics. You can have fun with size and shape, add contrast piping, have button backed effect, there is so much you can do now with a headboard. Personally, I prefer the ones which are attached to the wall and not the bed, it creates a bit more of a solid firm look rather than seeing a bit of a gap behind the bed. I do get asked if you should have a contrast piping, I think if you are using a pattern then have a self-piped edging, if you are using a plain fabric then I would have a contrast colour. The pattern is doing the decorating and it doesn’t really need anything else added to it.

One reason why we all like using pattern is because we can see through a pattern, it opens the space. just using plain colours block the view and become a dead stop, you can’t see through a block colour. I think mixing plains and patterns is a great idea, the plains help to show off the patterns and help to tone down some schemes and helps to balance things out. Sometimes a plain headboard is a good idea and then you can go mad with lots of patterned cushions which you can chop and change, the plain headboard acts as a calming backdrop. Or have a wacky headboard and use plain cushions with colourful trimmings and a few smaller scale patterned cushions this would work well.

Adding details to a room also adds to a more finished look and lampshades are often overlooked but can make a real difference to the room. I do like plain shades, but I think you can make them look much more interesting these days. You can buy lamp- shade kits and make them yourself or have someone make one for you and it does not cost the earth. I am not too keen on the drum shaped lampshade, I would have an oval shape or empire shape, I think they look so much more sophisticated. If you own a glue gun you can attach all sorts of trimmings in a matter of minutes and create something totally unique. One thing I try to do it show some sort of uniformity with my lampshades in the room, to do this I either make them all the same size and shape and fabric or keep them all at the same height. I do quite like larger rather than too small when it comes to my lamp- shades because it creates the impact I am after and adds that comfortable and welcoming look in a room. I usually try and buy new lamp bases because I know they are safe and I can never seem to find what I am after in Antique shops, everything I like it always very expensive. I have discovered Scumble Goosie who sell great plain wooden lampbases which you can paint any colour you like. They have some good and large solid shapes which are great for drawing rooms and hallways. Lighting is important in a room, and you need to have three types of lighting, main overhead lighting, atmosphere lighting and task lighting. Table lamps can do two of these things, add atmosphere and be a task light, especially if they are by a bed or on a dressing table. You can never have enough lamps, and my house is full of them because they really set the scene especially in the evenings or on a dark winter’s night.

Pleated lampshades have become very popular, they are expensive and an investment because they use much more fabric and are very time consuming to make. Lighting is a good investment, and it is really something that makes a difference to a room and is a lovely detail which can make the room look so comfortable. All the lamps I have created I know will last me for years, it has taken me time to build them up, but they have been worth every penny.

People ask me if they can use my fabric for upholstery, the answer is yes but only on items which have occasional use, especially when it comes to chairs. I would not advise using my fabric on an everyday sofa. The fabric is digitally printed and is dry clean only so you can’t scrub it with a damp cloth. My rule of thumb is, don’t use it if it encounters food, pets and sticky fingers. Lots of people use my fabric for bedroom chairs and headboards which is fine.

One thing about upholstery is that is uses much more fabric than you think. I think bed valances are important and you will find it difficult to buy one off the shelf so often they are made to fit the room. They really compliment the headboard, but they do use up a great deal of fabric, for example 5m if using a small repeat pattern. It is worth spending on this item because it really finishes off the bed and no valance can really make a bed look naked. This only applies to a divan bed and not a framed bed. Valances really add the cosy factor to a room, I have started making frilly ones rather than straight, I found that straight ones can lose their shape and look messy quite quickly, frilly ones are more relaxed looking, so they don’t have the problem of losing their shape. Little upholstered chairs can use up lots of fabric too, I often buy little chairs from auctions for next to nothing, but I always check they don’t need a full upholstery job, they just need a change of cover which works out at much less expensive if you want to go down that route.

Paint is usually the last thing I choose after I have chosen my fabrics. The fabrics help me see a decorating direction for the room and the painting is the icing on the cake. Within the schemes I have added some colour suggestions. I would always advise buying a match pot and painting a large piece of paper with that colour and sticking it to the walls of the room. You can move it around and see what it looks like at different times of the day. When I do any decorating, I stick all my samples on the walls, hang my fabrics where I want them to go and then leave the room for a few hours. Come back and you see it all with fresh eyes, let it sink in and it will help you to decide which colour you are going to use. Don’t be frightened to use dark colours, I paint everything the same colour, doors, dado, skirting boards and I love this effect, it really helps to blend everything together. I think you can either have a light and neutral room or go for a dark room. If you don’t want to go dark all the way through then you can paint one wall or two opposite walls, sometimes this can make the room feel wider. You can also break it up by adding a dado/chair rail this will also break up the colours, add some more character and make the room feel wider.

Wallpaper is becoming much more popular; I still see people just using it for a feature wall but really you should bite the bullet and wallpaper the whole room. If you do this, it completely changes the atmosphere and feel of the room. Just doing one wall leaves the other three walls looking dull and cold and your pictures and artwork needs to do all the decorating. Using wallpaper means you don’t have to cover it with lots of pictures. I think fun wallpaper prints are great in small rooms, you can use a small print in a room which will give an extra texture and act as a sort of scaffolding to a room scheme. I always think when I do a room is to decide which is the star of the show, the fabric or the wallpaper! If it is the wallpaper then choose smaller print/plain fabrics and add lots of trimmings to these fabrics, they won’t fight for stardom from the wallpaper. If you want the fabric to be the star, then use subtle/small print wallpaper because it helps to fill in the room and connect all the elements together. Flat walls need to have things on them otherwise they look boring and cold. Patterned walls you can see through them, and the wallpaper does the decorating.

I think when you a decorating a room you have to try and see the bigger picture, sometimes you can look too closely at the paint colour and fabric, you have to remember there are lots of other things in the room doing the decorating, the floor, furniture, pictures etc. you are creating an overall feel and the fabric for lampshade might only represent a small proportion of the fabric in relation to the rest of the room. It is good to think about what you want in that room, and we are allowed to change our minds when we don’t think something it going to fit, or we don’t like it anymore. It is such a personal journey, and you need to use your gut instinct and decorate the room for yourself and not what your next-door neighbour likes. It’s good to be critical and show your friends your ideas you can often look at something in a different light when you hear comments from other people. Sometimes this can be a good thing and maybe helps you not worry or get too bogged down within one aspect of the decor. Often, we must work around things we can’t get rid of, if it all gets too much and you can’t decide or are not happy with the scheme, get rid of that item and start again. I decorate in stages, don’t rush it and a room evolves over time and is always changing when you add more decor or reorganise the room depending on what you use it for.

Lastly, I am not an interior decorator, I have lived in lots of house and decorated lots of rooms, and I have just learnt by having to do it! I now make it fun for myself! I am always decorating somewhere in the house it’s a good excuse to have a clear out and a deep clean and you feel so much better about that room once it has been refreshed. Your house is the Fourth road bridge, and it needs attention all the time. Hopefully these schemes will help you with your decorating plans and make it fun for you too!