How to Authentically Make Your New House Feel Like Home


Without going completely mad, pulling all your hair out or feeling like you just copied your friends


Buying your first home is an incredibly exciting time. Not only have you made a step on the property ladder, but you are also going to be able to take that space and make it all your own.

The trouble is, where do you start?

How do you tackle a refurbishment or freshen up project without having any knowledge on decorating a home, the potential pitfalls that may arise or which order things need to be completed in?

To help you to achieve your Freshlook and to make sure that your home is all yours; we have put together the things to keep in mind when it comes to decorating your own space.

To create a space that you live in each day where you, perhaps you and a partner or even you plus the whole family have had input as to how it’s been styled, painted and dressed will create a much more welcoming and personal home.

Sure everyone may have different ideas, especially the kids if you have them, no doubt they’d want to decorate the halls in unicorn paint and glitter! That would certainly add a touch of personalisation.


Work within your budget


It can be all too easy to get carried away when refurbishing and decorating a property, spending far too much money and ending up blowing your budget.

However, it is important that you work within your budget. Figure out the things that are a must have and those that you can only have if the budget allows, as this will help you to figure things out.

Being true to your numbers, having a realistic grasp on how much things may cost will definitely help you out here, over our years of helping clients to renovate their homes this one area should be the first major consideration, especially when on a tight budget.

When shopping around for decorative features or getting quotations for scheduled works there are other variables at play that shouldn’t be ignored when the costs are being looked at, they are of course our old friend’s quality and timeframe.

Sure you may save a couple of quid using option A over option B but a longer delivery time could really hold up other essential works from moving forwards, or what about the conundrum caused when you decide to opt for the cheaper item and it doesn’t fit properly meaning the workers have to back track a few steps in order to make adjustments so that it can?

See these are just two examples of things we have experienced ourselves, having helped our clients to navigate their way around such pitfalls is all part of our service, naturally it would be easier for everyone involved if we’d been able to oversee or be able to help at an earlier stage.

You can still create an authentic home of your dreams, but you may have to make some compromises along the way if funds are somewhat limited, consulting with a professional company such as ourselves can help you to get insights into what could be tweaked or swapped without too much noticeable difference, if at all.


Take inspiration from friends but never copy


We all take inspiration from other places, even when it comes to decorating our homes.

There is no shame taking inspiration from your friends who already own their home, but you should never ever feel the need to copy what they have done in their entirety. After all, their house is theirs and yours should be all yours.

Outright plagiarism of their furnishing styles would surely lead to some disgruntlement and tension in the air, a much better approach would be to inquire where they had found such and such an item, or who had provided the service that you were particularly keen on, such as the decorating and wallpapering.

Like anything in life there’s a right and a wrong way to go about it.

Compliments can go a long way, but be genuine.

Also if you really like a particular colour that has been used by your friend, no need to be shy about it, but when looking to apply it to your own home perhaps use it in a different modality. 

For example: you really like their choice of Farrow and Balls’ Elephants Breath paint (which subsequently was one of our top picks from 2018), they’ve used it in a hallway, whereas you could make use of it in a study or lounge, perhaps adding in a contrasting feature wall to break things up a little.

You get the colour you wanted thanks to your friends’ initial discovery, but used in a different modality so that you have sought inspiration but not copied, job well done. 

Of course you can always attribute the source of inspiration back to the original place where it was found (your friends’ hallway).

So when you decide to decorate the bedroom of your flat in Epsom, or wallpapering the lounge of your 3 bedroom house in Ashtead, then remember where inspiration was found.


Don’t be afraid to be yourself


Your home is all for you and those you choose to share it with which means that you should never be scared to put in place the things that are totally yours.

Take ownership of your tastes.

Be Bold, Be Audacious if it fits with your personality.

Bit more reserved and introverted? No problems.  Just find the understated colour scheme to match

What colours do you like?

What style do you like?

Do you have a preference on prints or textures?

Think about what you have in mind when you imagine your perfect home and go from there. There is no-one else who needs to like your home as much as you.

Not everyone would enjoy their bathroom to be painted in flamingo pink, but if it floats your boat then who cares, just do it.

After all it is going to be you that live there so make it look like this is the case.


Be realistic with your timeframe

Renovating and refreshing a property can really take some time. If you have never done this before then you may find it all too easy to under-estimate the amount of time that it takes.

 Be sensible and realistic with your timeframe, not only will this help stop disappointment, but will also stop you rushing decisions later on in the process.

From our own experiences this can be the source of many headaches that are avoidable entirely or at least reduced significantly when it comes to planning.

You might allocate 1 week to decorate an area such as the hallway, landing and stairs but due to the current state they’re in a 10 day timeframe may be more realistic.  Knowing this is advance can really help you out; a professional decorator will be able to give you insights like this during the initial consultation phase.

By getting a good handle on how long things may take will only serve you well, if you’re lucky enough to be managing and co-ordinating  the project yourself don’t forget tp allow a little extra ‘cushioning’ in your timings just in case.

We would advise a buffer of around 10-15% just so that best case scenario you’ve got yourself to completion with a few days to spare or worst case that extra time you’ve allowed gets used up by unforeseen issues that no doubt arise.

Don’t forget about the snagging!


Opt for quality

Chances are that you are going to own this property for some time, whether you plan to keep it for yourself or outgrow it and decide to rent it out , I’m sure you are going to want to make sure that it lasts as long as possible.

Obviously there could be more cost involved but the extra investment is usually worth it, think of the time saved and a better overall finish, you can actually save money in the long run by seeking more expensive better quality items & materials to begin with.

As the saying goes “you get what you pay for”

If you’re unsure on exactly which areas you can scrimp a little on and get away with it and where it’s not advisable then contacting a knowledgeable local professional company such as ourselves can assist you in making informed decisions.

A good example can be paint for your walls and ceilings, commonly referred to as emulsions, which is readily available in 2 options; matt or silk.

Both are nice finishes but for different reasons, we covered this in another blog post so if you’d like to know more about the paints go check it out.

If you were to buy cheaper lower quality paint then you could expect to have to apply many coats to get a good even coverage, whereas the slightly more expensive paint will cover much nicer in fewer coats and to boot sometimes you may even find a quicker dry time.

Also consider that the better paint will also tend to be more durable for spills and clean ups, keeping it looking fresh and clean for longer time.

So as you can hopefully understand more thoroughly now that cheaper can actually result in higher costs in long run or more time spent which is of course the most precious of assets.


Make the space as functional as possible (for maximum meterage utilisation)


By this we mean you should make best use of all available areas so that you are literally getting your moneys worth from every inch of your new home.

Space under the stairs?  Shoe storage or somewhere to keep the hoover and other cleaning supplies so that your not forever tripping up over them.

Build or buy storage solutions to utilise wall space and the height of rooms, there are lots of surprisingly creative yet stylish options out there on the market that will satisfy most of our demands.

If you’re still stuck you can always get ideas and costing from your contractor, which can meet your exact requirements and is tailored to your space, stuck for ideas here? Give us a shout and we’d be more than happy to take a look for you.

Keep in mind though what the room was originally designed or built for, what you’d like to do with it and how that could be achieved.

For example:

You have a small area in the downstairs of your house at the back that was once used as a washroom/ laundry area, due to the fact you’ve now got 2 machines in your kitchen that take care of all your washing and drying needs  this empty space can be repurposed.

Due to the lighting and location of the room it tends to be a bit cold, has low natural light and is subject to potential damp issues.  Now what could the room be used for?

Well if you were prepared to add in some more windows, get rid of the plumbing features and update the electrics this could well make great home office area, or space to produce some creative side projects.  Alternatively if space is already a hot contention within your home then an additional bedroom or living space may be better suited to your requirements.


Storage is always a welcome addition to the home and can help you keep things organised and stored away correctly, so getting a bit creative with furnishing and built in features can really make best use of your space.

Think ottoman beds, foot stools or coffee tables that lift up to reveal a void, or dining tables that fold away when not in use.

There’s a solution out there for each scenario, you just have to find it, working alongside an established company such as ourselves can really pay dividends as we can show you what others have done previously for inspiration and tell you what could work in your home, that matches your tastes, budget and timeframe.




To D.I.Y or Just to Try?

The age old debate, our favourite, surely has no other area come under so much attempt by the home enthusiast than decorating their own home.

Hats off to those of you that have a go, especially if you’re working full time still and/ or trying to juggle a family around it.

The extra stress that you’ll be under whilst attempting to tackle as many tasks as you can yourself will be immense, not only will you have the watchful eyes of your family but also prepare to have your work examined by professionals.

This beady eye will be trained even more so in your direction if you have opted to tackle some of the more intricate jobs, areas that can have a knock on impact on the next job in the chain or if other work you’ve done in the property didn’t exactly live up to expectations.

Here’s one scenario of how it could play out:

So you decide to rip out the old fireplace yourself, making it into a much more useful feature by putting a shelves into the void and finishing it all off with some nice plastering and fresh paint to complete.

In your head it seems easy enough, rip out old one, make good, mix up some plaster, apply, wait to dry then put in shelves before paint. Voila the masterpiece will be complete, I mean it’s not quite the Sistine Chapel but it’ll do.

One Saturday is all you had budgeted for timewise as the guys are back in Monday to finish off the rest of the room, plenty of time you say.

However your heightened spirits are soon dampened when you realise it’s a cast iron fireplace that will be heavy and brittle scuppering your hopes to remove it intact and sell online to get a little cash back in the kitty.

Next up you’re alone and have to wrestle this beast downstairs into the garden on your own.

Several hours later having worked your way through what looks like the toolkit of a underworld torture king, you emerge victorious.  The fireplace is out, major milestone has been reached.

After a quick break and celebratory dance you return to finish off the task in hand, surely the making good and plaster will be a breeze in comparison!

It is at this point that you realise that you have no idea what the benchmark for good is, nor how you will make it, but fret not a quick search on the old internet turns up some useful advice and videos of what to do. 

With renewed confidence you dive straight back to it, plastering like a pro to get the job done, you’re reasonably happy with the end result but come Monday morning the other guys have got something to say.

In your efforts to save time/ money you’ve just created some setbacks by using the wrong type of plaster, your ‘making good’ wasn’t as good as you may have thought and the paintwork finish is atrocious.

Basically most of your weekends work will need to be redone, at additional time and cost to your original planning, not only a setback but also a kick in the balls.

Let’s hope news doesn’t reach your significant other!

We said ‘hope’

There’s also considerations that need to be made for disturbing old materials and dust when working on older houses as they may have used materials that were popular years ago but have since found to be dangerous to health.

Keeping yourself  and your family safe should always be your priority, therefore if you’re unsure of something when trying to D.I.Y then get a professional opinion to put your mind at rest.

Having professional guidance from start to finish to help plan, design and deliver the home of your dreams can make such a huge difference to the stress, time, budget control and overall quality when you decide to put your mark on your new home, you can reach out to us by clicking on the email address below.

Freshlook’s Farrow & Ball Firm Favourites From the Year just gone


Farrow and Ball elephants breath in hallway
Farrow and Ball elephants breath in hallway

Fresh start to a new year and as the year begins it can give the perfect opportunity to reflect on choices from the past year, what went well, what could’ve gone better, and of course which colours you’d selected to decorate your home!

Each year we bear witness to a multitude of colour palettes, some are executed perfectly and are a delight to look at, whereas others may evoke a little morsel of nausea and feelings of unease.

I’m sure you can relate.

Throughout 2018 we have seen Grey dominate across each and every surface it’s come up against, from bedroom walls to skirting boards and wooden features.

For the best part you’d pushed to make the colour grey seem uncool at the moment it would seem, gone is the dull boring and ‘beige’ attitude that it carried not so long ago.

Being the Pioneers of all things paint, Farrow and Ball have once again deliver

ed some fantastic tones to tempt our clients into bringing a Freshlook to their home in 2018, this is our overview to hopefully help inspire or give you ideas for your own decorating project.

So without further ado let’s dip into our top picks.

1- Elephants Breath (No229)

Elephants breath hallway good natural lighting
Elephants breath hallway

A warm and uplifting mid-grey which according to Farrow and Ball can appear “almost lilac” in certain lighting conditions, and you know they are perfectly on the money there, having used this for a few clients this year we’ve had the privilege to observe it on a multitude of surfaces.

Having seen and used it first-hand this colour really can be taken down a few routes styling wise, whether going for a minimalists’ dream or heading down the route more contemporary, we’re sure that you can find a place in your homes and in your hearts for what is sure to become a timeless choice.

Grey has been a prominent colour choice for homes around the world this year in particular what we like to call ‘versatile’ shades, ones that can feel equally at home in a living room as it would a landing, a bedroom as much as broom cupboard, you get the point.

Just hearing the name ‘Elephants Breath’ conjures up for me the sight of steamy morning mouth exhaling an almost vape cloud puff that is caught by the sun rising hazily on the horizon, full of mysticism.

This natural shade comes across particularly majestic when used alongside natural woods, living house plants and the like.

Why we love it…

The depth that this colour contains doesn’t become apparent until applied over a surface when you’re able to fully grasp the almost chameleon like shade change from a grey to blue grey lilacish, hues of elephant skin and fond memories are sure to put a grin on your chin.

Opens up the space even in areas notoriously dimly lit such as stairwells and small washroom areas, any source of natural lighting will only add more beauty to it’s effect and welcome you home each time you arrive back from a tiresome day, adds a homely modern feel.


2- Downpipe (No26)

A daringly dark hue that encompasses the depth of blue undertones resulting in this dramatic lead grey, originally a colour which would have featured on guttering and downpipes but that has now found its way onto surfaces inside the home with ‘fanatical zeal’

This colour can be used to great effect on statement walls or by incorporating onto detailing’s/ woodwork and decorative features, both with a white back drop or complementing lighter shades or greys & blues.

Really sets off the old ‘curb appeal’ factor when used externally on front doors, window frames, porches and wooden features also fresh paint and regular upkeep will help extend the overall lifespan of the wood.

Why we love it…

A real stand out colour which sits beautifully on wood details and mouldings to provide effective contrast to any white or off white backdrop.

It’s versatile enough to also be used as full on wall covering to make a statement, or just to enhance a space when used sparingly across the canvas, we really liked it when used on woodwork and decorative features against a lighter or whiter backdrop

3-Cornforth White (No 228)

Seated as a Mid-tone in the easy neutrals section, we like to think of it as a bit more of safe bet with clients that could be a little risk averse normally opting for magnolia or white. farrow and ball Cornforth white in hallwayFarrow and ball cornforth white in hallway

The finished colour sits pretty light and bright under most conditions, and brings about an uplifting ambience that can really transform once gloomy areas especially when adding more lighting into the space.

We’ve found the classic white ceiling and skirting to be favoured choice when using throughout the home, if used in the same home as colours from nearby colour families or groups it can seem like the theme remains and flows room by room.

It’s almost pastel like complexion is sure to bring a touch of sophistication to any surface it covers.

A great choice to brighten up your stairway, long corridor or high ceiling rooms.

Why we love it…

The colour configurations within this paint can lead you to gaze blissfully into walls, making the chore of watching paint dry a splash more entertaining, but the real magic happened once its set and cured.

Behold the spectacle; the series of events that will play out on your walls is almost akin to the changing of the seasons, giving so much more variety and in our opinion the ability to impact how you feel.

Picking up you spirits on a gloomy winters day when basted onto the surfaces in your main living areas, but also relaxing you for an afternoon slumber if adorned on the bedroom walls, as with our ‘firm favourites’ we can recommend making them work in most scenarios you’ll come across from a decoration perspective.

4-Ammonite (No 274)

A perfectly light and subtle grey that sits beautifully in areas with low natural lighting, if you are able to see it in a well lit area for comparison we can recommend doing so and you can then fully appreciate the greyness of it and not as hint of blue in sight! This can be a challenge in our current climate and lust for all 50 of the shades of grey available on the market.

As with most Farrow and Ball colours, applying this to your homes surfaces will bring about a refined feel to the space. One of the lighter shades that can easily substitute your predisposed penchant for white especially when it comes to ceilings, if your inner trail blazer really would like to show off then do so by applying liberally to covings or woodwork, be warned though this could really shake the canaries cage.

Puts a note of distinction onto cupboards, wardrobes, bookcases and built in functioning storage areas, it’s light enough to basically use anywhere that you would a white, so whip out your creative pants and get going.

Why we love it…

So light some wouldn’t even notice if this were applied to some surfaces, however if a closer inspection was warranted you’d be glad for doing so, it has been referred to as having a “fantastically understated quality “and I must say that it truly is, and would do well in a minimalistic environment & feel equally at home across your office walls.

5-Railings (No31)

You’d be hard pushed to find a shade of black that can be so dramatic yet also retain an alternative softer side than this, which the maestro’s at Farrow and Ball would say it’s “a soft black with blue undertones”

Just as they achieved with ‘Elephants Breath’ Farrow and Ball have whisked up another ‘shade shifter’ of a colour, which

subtly shimmers from one shade into another transforming before your very eyes bringing a depth of colour achieved by no other manufacturer.

It can be just as stunning when used to make a statement from the kerbside, front doors, window ledges, garden gates or even a garage door can really have that visual impact to set you apart from the neighbours but in a tasteful manner.

From the inside of the home using it in spaces that are bathed with natural lighting can work really well, if you’ve got the courage to painting a whole space in it then decorating accordingly will surely create a powerful space yet is still soft to the eye, some may say ‘dramatic’

Why we love it…

The boldness blended with a taste of cold hard iron, you can imagine it as the colour of choice for both a cast iron handrail decoration from a Victorian seaside town and your bannisters at home, a real nod to the traditional railings and handrails from yesteryear.

Having this gently brushed across the skirting’s, architraves and window ledges inside your front room will add a perfect and slightly daring approach to contrast lighter shaded colours such as Ammonite.

Railings on feature wall
Railings on feature wall


Creating a timeless look, or more realistically an interior project that could last 7-9 years needn’t be so hard, use our Farrow and Ball Top Picks for the year to splash a little inspiration, fresh energy and new beginnings into your home this winter

As you’ll see the colours we selected to be our firm favourites are all quite easy on the eye, would fit in well within most homes and offer more than just a flat regular colour which can be picked up anywhere, instead with our expert guidance throughout 2018 our clients have been shown options that fit perfectly with the look they are trying to achieve.

By assessing natural light patterns, current tastes and what would be possible within budget we are able to provide you with our recommendations that have led to many a happy customer.

And how you can introduce these into your own home, bringing a modern twist to the feel of your home and hitting the sweet spot for visual impressions.

Perfect if you have visitors due round that haven’t visited in a while and you want to impress, or end the gentle jibes about you needing to freshen up the place.

By selecting the right colour combinations you can adjust to your own perfectly suited tastes, staying on trend yet not seeming samey, there’s a fine line between inspiration and copying depending on the perspectives drawn.

Throughout this last year we have seen our top picks feature in a variety of spaces and work just as well in bedrooms as they could in through spaces and lounges, so in essence you’ll have a palette full of colours that will bring your property right up to date

Each of the handpicked colours have been used directly by us throughout this year, bringing a modern look and feel to homes across Surrey and London.  Our clients have been thrilled with the finished projects, sophisticated finishes and overall vibe exuded.

So this concludes Freshlook favourite Farrow and Ball for 2018, we wonder which colours will remain just as popular in the upcoming year and what they have up their sleeves from the colour mixing magicians….

Tell tale signs you’re in need of a decorator!

Today’s post will shed some light on scenarios when you’re probably best leaving it to the professionals, even with D.I.Y being so prevalent as a hobby, a way to save a few pennies and spend your free time doing bits it can be easy to get out of your skill remit.

So in no particular order:

  • You decide to tackle the redecoration of the spare room, in free time obviously, 2 years later it still bares resemblance to a half written off dungeon that no sane guest would ever sleep in.  Subsequently it is now the dumping ground for all manner of goodies, including the home gym kit you promised yourself would get used this year.
  • The state of your wood leaves a lot to be desired.  Flaky, peely, lifeless and certainly out of shape.  The idea of making it look nice seems appealing.  The prospect of many hours of sanding, filling and making good does not, think of many other enjoyable things you could be doing with your free time.
  • Someone before has done a less than satisfactory job on the paintwork, with each inspection and layer that you peel back, just like an onion, the mystery seems to keep unraveling.  How long do you want to spend uncovering the previous owners bodges?
  • When assessing your previous painting attempts, your friend asks which child of yours done the job!
  • Each time you decide to tackle a job you end up cursing, instantly regretting it and not having very much fun in the process.
  • You decide to try your hand at patterned wallpaper…..


I’m sure there’s plenty of other scenarios out there, why not leave a comment with some of your favourites




Why choose a Professional Painter?

So if you’re like most guys out there you probably figure that free time could be spent doing D.I.Y tasks.

How much do you really enjoy home decorating, or painting?

A bit of painting, some wallpapering and if you are very lucky even some removal of that lovely old wood-chip wallpaper someone thought would be a good idea 30 or so years ago may seem like a good idea at the time, but isn’t always the case.

However I’m guessing that REALLY you’d prefer to have some time to relax, catch up with some friends for a beer, play outside with the kids, take the Mrs away for a weekend.

Probably a whole lot more activities you could choose as more fun and desirable than a weekend of sanding, getting dusty, having to clean up and potentially get paint places you don’t want to!

The point here is that your time could be better spent doing other things.

Having fun.

Enjoying life.

Chances are you probably work hard enough each week.

By getting a professional painter to come and do the job for you chances are you’ll receive the following:

  • A better finish overall.
  • A quicker job than if you were to tackle it in evenings and weekends.
  • Less mess and disruption to your life.
  • Longer lasting results.
  • Happier family.

Another way to think of it may be if you own a nice car, say an Aston Martin, who doesn’t want one of those right?!

Well if it needed servicing or fixing would you take it to the local greased up guy down the road, he’s most likely not worked on one of these or if he has it’s not an everyday affair.

Or do you take it to the local Aston dealership that specialises in this make of car?


The same applies to painting, wallpapering and most other jobs around the home.

If you are in need of a freshen up, a complete home redecoration or perhaps you have a list of little bits and bobs that’s been building up for a while now.

Give us a call and we can help you out!