Ask the designer: Decorating for summer and seasons

I have a charcoal grey sofa and would love to brighten it up for summer. What do you suggest?

A. Neon brights is one of the hottest interior trends for summer 2012. Although not for the faint-hearted, it will certainly brighten up your living room. And you don’t have to paint the walls a psychedelic hue to achieve the desired effect. Simply add some neon scatter cushions to your sofa — fuschia, tangerine, sulphur yellow or turquoise blue will really pop against the grey. Complete the look with a brightly painted coffee table or TV unit or rug, such as the stunning “Bouquet de 3” one from Roche Bobois in Sandyford, Dublin or

Q. Summer has been so dull so far. Do you have any advice for making our country-style kitchen feel a little sunnier?

A. Country-style kitchens are extremely popular this year and easily enhance with another key trend for 2012 — vintage chic accessories. Pretty floral tableware will set the tone. Check out Cath Kidston or Next. A colourful spotted or striped oilcloth will dress up a tired kitchen table and padded seat cushions ensure that the dining chairs are comfy. Add a vintage-style railway clock, storage jars, tea towels and vases for that nostalgic feel. If you’ve got room, consider a distressed painted dresser. Even if it’s pouring outside, your kitchen is sure to cheer everyone up.

Q. I’m considering decorating my apartment in a retro style. What do you think?

A. The retro trend is huge right now — and there’s a fantastic range of wallpapers, furniture and accessories available to help transport your home back to the swinging sixties. Large boldly-coloured geometric prints are a key feature, but this is best kept to one wall within a small apartment. Meanwhile, retro-style furniture utilises clean lines in light blonde, teak wood and rosewood. To complete the look, I’d suggest a playful sofa such as Marks & Spencer’s Conran Amis and accents of chrome lighting. Check out for inspiration.

Q. I’ve noticed a lot of pastel on the catwalk this season. How can I apply the trend to my home?

A. Pastels look great set against a neutral backdrop in the home. But the soft, delicate hues also look amazing grouped together. When it comes to colour combinations think sorbet and vanilla ice-cream, chalky blues with lavender, pale yellows mixed with soft pinks. Pattern-wise, combine spring florals with stripes or even check. If you feel your passion for pastel might be fleeting stick to pretty pastel cushions, tableware and other accessories.


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