Ask the designer

Interior designer Deirdre Coleman ( answers your outdoor design queries. Email:

Q I’d love to try this season’s nautical trend in my living room, but am afraid it’ll end up looking a bit “Popeye”.

Any tips?

A. The key thing is not to go overboard with the maritime theme or it can end up looking contrived. The nautical of 2012 is much more laid back beach house than preppy yacht club. So draw on breezy stripes, whitewashed furniture and natural textiles to inject a little coastal chic into your living room. Avoid flashy blue, white or red stripes in favour of chalky shades of off-white or soft yellow, weathered browns and muted turquoise blues. Go for a beautiful print of fish or antique sailing map in a natural wood frame with rich red or navy mount instead of the usual boat print. And complete the look with rope knots, lanterns or apothecary jars filled with sand or shells rather than obvious anchor cushions.

Q. With the days getting longer, how can I make my home feel a bit more bright and breezy for summer?

A. Banish the winter blues by making a few simple additions (or removals) to your home. Start by temporarily replacing dark accessories such as wool throws, velvet cushions or leather placemats with more summery ones in linen and colours like lime green or orange. Switch heavy winter drapes with thin/sheer curtains to let more light in and swap cosy flannel bed sheets for breathable cotton percale or sateen ones. Summer duvets are generally around 4.5 tog. If you’re thinking about repainting your walls, keep it light and fresh — think yellow, orange or light blue. Or consider using a white table, curtains or just flowers.

Q. As an apartment-dweller, I don’t have a garden. How can I bring a little of the outdoors indoors?

A. Bring the outdoors into your apartment with some plant life. Try an indoor container garden for growing fruit, veg and herbs, or a mobile planter that can be wheeled into your living room for a splash of green and bathroom for watering. If you’re short on floor space, try an indoor hanging basket designed to keep your carpet clean. Alternatively, go for some outdoorsy accessories such as a terracotta pot used to hold a plant, kitchen utensils or fruit.

Q. I’d love to add some colour to my all-white kitchen for spring – but where should I start?

A. Kitchens can often become pristine all-white spaces. Consider painting any exposed wall in jewel toned red, green or blue or soft grey. You could also change the backsplash for something a little more cheerful such as a multicoloured tile. However, there are lots of colourful accessories out there to brighten up a stark kitchen on a budget.

Mix it up with bold, contrasting kitchenware, chair and towels, etc. Watch for Kenwood’s Boutique range in bright magenta and blue and Irish company Red Dog/The Store’s cheeky range of His ‘n Hers aprons and tea towels emblazoned with slogans including ‘God Loves a Dryer’. See


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