All wrapped up

Q. I’ve bought my new girlfriend a small present for her birthday, but I’m rubbish at wrapping — any tips to impress?

A. With a little creativity, you can wow your new girlfriend with your thoughtfulness. When it comes to gift-wrapping, you can’t beat the classic sophistication of a simple white box. Wrap with two co-ordinating red ribbons for an understated yet stylish look.

Instead of setting your gift into Styrofoam pieces, lay it on a bed of hard-boiled sweets. Although this only works well for small gifts, otherwise you’ll end up spending a fortune on sweets. Wrapping gifts in fabric is quite popular at the moment. Not only is it more environmentally-friendly, it looks luxurious too.

I always wrap gifts that can leak, melt, or drip with cellophane and keep gifts where the scents can transfer separate. Finally, don’t forget to remove the price tag.

Q. I’m redecorating my bedroom and my friend suggested I use ‘Pinterest’ — can you tell me more?

A. Quite simply, Pinterest is an online scrap book. You create boards and then “pin” an image or video you like to them. You can pin cool stuff you find online to your own board or browse boards created by other users who share your interests.

But Pinterest is particularly useful when you’re planning a project — whether it’s redecorating your bedroom or a girls’ night out. For instance, if you’re redecorating your home you can create a board for each room and then pin decorating ideas, mood or colour boards, or photos of rooms you find inspiring.

And the best bit is that when you pin a photo, the source where you found that photo is also linked so you can revisit the website any time.

Q. I fell in love with the colour of my friend’s living room walls — but when I painted my own living room with the exact same brand and shade, it looked different. Why?

A. It’s all about lighting. Colour and light are interdependent — so changes in one will create changes in the other. Always view your chosen colour under the light sources which they will be displayed.

Here are a few tips to make this process easier. Play it safe by buying a few sample pots in one or two shades lighter than the one you think you want. Apply the paint to large pieces of thick white paper, not the wall, to prevent the existing wall colour showing through.

Remember that the light will fall differently on different walls in the same room, and under different light sources, so stick several pieces of painted paper to all four walls to see how the colour looks during the day and at night.

Set the swatches against existing furniture and accessories to examine its impact on the colour.

Interior designer Karen Hughes of Emerald Interior Design, Dublin ( answers your questions Email:

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