Small rooms are usually seen as a bit of an interior design nightmare, with not enough space to fulfill their decorating potential. This doesn’t have to be the case though; small rooms can still look stylish and spacious, with just a few tweaks. Here are our top tips for maximising space…

Pale colours

Lighter colours will open up a space, and make it seem a lot brighter. The best colour to go for is therefore white, but soft pastels will also help create the effect.

Paint the ceiling

One of the key ways to make a space look bigger is to attract attention upwards. Painting the ceiling a different colour or applying wallpaper will draw the eye upwards, giving a feeling of more height.

Hidden storage

Of course, it’s important to declutter (even if you aren’t trying to maximise your space). Hidden storage spaces like hollow coffee tables are key – keeping things out of view will free up more space in the room, making it appear less cramped.

Avoid heavy curtains

And if possible, make them the same colour as the walls so that it all blends together seamlessly. The best option is blinds, as these can be neatly rolled up out of the way during the day.

No rugs

Floor space is essential – rugs tie a room together, which is great for bigger rooms that need to feel more cosy. For smaller rooms however, rugs should generally be avoided.

Mount the TV

If it’s a living room that you’re trying to enlarge, putting the TV on the wall will free up some crucial floor space and create a sleeker effect.

Spread the light

Consider having a few different small light sources dotted around the room, instead of one large overhead light. One big overhead light creates a top-down effect, and highlights the centre of the room – which makes it seem smaller. Spreading the light out will illuminate the whole room, therefore making it seem more spacious.

Furniture with exposed legs

Exposed legs create a gap between the furniture and the floor. Creating gaps = creating space.

Get away from the wall

In the same vein, keep some furniture (e.g sofas) away from the wall slightly. The gap effect will make everything seem a lot less crammed in.

Less is more

The fewer items of furniture you have in the room, the better. Opt for larger but fewer items, instead of lots of little decorations.

Floor to ceiling shelves

As mentioned previously, one of the key ways to make a room look bigger is to draw the eye upwards. Floor to ceiling shelves will elongate the room, and if the contents are neatly organised, it will give an overall minimalist effect.

Keep some furniture low down

The rest of the furniture, however, should stay lower to the ground. Keeping furniture lower down allows for more exposed wall space.

Clear furniture

Glass or lucite furniture don’t take up too much visual space, and give an overall de-cluttered and contemporary effect.

Ditch the door

A bit of a bold move, but if it’s a communal room that you’re decorating (e.g a living room), removing the door altogether and creating an archway will open it up a lot more.

And of course, mirrors

We couldn’t forget the age old effect to making a room look bigger – mirrors. Reflections create more light and the illusion of a bigger space.

 

Your hallway is the first thing you and visitors will see when you enter the house – so it’s important to get it right. Make guests feel warm and welcome with our ten top tips for jazzing up the space.

Make an impact

Dividing up your wall with a band of colour will add interest to the hallway, especially if it’s a strong contrast. Tip: paint the skirting board the same colour for both a smoother look, and to reduce the appearance of scuff marks.

Raise the temperature

If you’re struggling to decide on a paint colour, opt for a warmer shade that will make guests (and you!) feel instantly at home. Don’t go for anything too bright or garish, or it might be a bit overwhelming.

Clutter control

Hallways often become cluttered, being used as a dumping ground for shoes, coats, and umbrellas etc. Opt for some clever storage to make sure this area stays neat and tidy – seating with cushions both looks inviting, and is practical for shoe changing.

Put your best foot forward

As this is the part of the house that gets the most footfall, it’s important to invest in some strong flooring that won’t wear too easily. Tiles are the best option as they can be cleaned easily (think muddy walks and wellies, and you’ll instantly remove the carpet). Wood-effect porcelain tiles will give you the rustic, homely feeling of having wood flooring with the ease of tiles.

Add a runner

Draw the focus upstairs and add a bit more interest to the staircase with a central runner (it’s also great for covering any scuff marks).

Flower power

Seasonal flowers are a great way to set the tone and make your home feel clean, fresh, and colourful.

Mirror, mirror

As hallways can be quite narrow and dark, mirrors are a great way to open up the space, with their light-reflecting surface adding a bit of brightness and making the room seem bigger. Of course, it’s also handy for last-minute appearance checks before you leave the house!

Be scent-sational

There’s nothing worse than entering a house and being hit with a bad smell. For the ultimate first impression, make sure your home is smelling sweet and pop a reed diffuser on the cabinet.

In honour of Pride month, we interviewed David Gwinnutt, Senior Valuer at our Islington office. As well as being a prominent photographer that was recently featured in the National Portrait Gallery, David was voted no.16 on The Independent’s Pink List of top 100 most influential gay men for creating the Pink Jack.

What inspired you to become such an active ambassador for the LGBTQ community?

Despite growing up gay in the 60’s & 70’s, which was a much more prejudiced era, I was extremely fortunate and had a fairly easy time. I never doubted that being gay was OK. I always thought it was pretty cool, especially around the time of punk, when being different was a badge of honour.

What was your inspiration for the Pink Jack, and what was the response like?

I was trying to express my positive experience of being accepted, as well as my pride for being British. I think British people are really cool, especially when it comes to being gay. For example, on my travels as a young man, I’d find myself chatting to people and eventually they’d ask, ‘so have you got a girlfriend?’ and when I said ‘no I’m gay’, they’d always say, ‘oh we know someone who’s gay and he’s really nice!’. I realised that most people in the UK are cool with it on a personal level, it’s just some haters and bigoted press that try to spin it another way.

You’ve also designed a flag for the World Cup, and LGBTQ people attending in Russia. How did this come about?

I recently got in touch with the FA to see if I could help with their campaign to rid homophobia from the game. Through them I met Di Cunningham, who heads the LGBTQ England Supporters Club. Di asked me to create a design for them to take to Russia. I jumped at the chance as I’d had some ideas already.

For me, these designs are about celebrating the similarities between gay and straight people, not highlighting differences. With all the recent issues about homophobia in football and the lack of visible gay players I felt I wanted to challenge the more negative stereotypical perceptions about gay people (that they are weak, can’t catch a ball, can’t play football, etc). So I took the core element of the England badge, the Three Lions, which represents all the strong elements gay people are supposed to lack, and give them a gay twist. After all, what’s more fearsome than a rainbow lion?

Where did you first develop your passion for photography?

David’s portrait of Cerith Wyn Evans

In the studio of artist Brian Clarke in Moorgate, where I was crashing on the sofa and being a general layabout and freeloader. He had lots of photography books and I was fascinated by them. I thought I understood it as an art and felt I could do it.

My mum got me an Olympus Trip Instamatic camera, the one David Bailey advertised, and I started taking pictures. I did a series of images of a shower hose laid out in the bathtub looking all arty with the organic natural line of the hose in contrast to the more rectangular non-organic shape of the bath. Brian saw them and said he thought they showed potential and he encouraged me to take it further. So I applied to art school and went to Hornsey School of Art, which coincidentally is not far from where I’m now working.

What would you say are the most important or prevalent issues affecting the LGBTQ community today?

There’s still a lot of prejudice, whether it’s being rejected by your family or being hanged in Iran. I, or any LGBTQ person, can still be legitimately killed in Nigeria just for being who we are. There’s a long way to go for basic human rights around the world but in the UK, which is more culturally liberal, it’s mad to think some kids still can’t come out to their parents without fear of being abused or made homeless.

What advice would you give to a young person struggling with coming out?

Start slowly, and tell maybe just one very trusted person. And never think that it’s a negative thing.

With famous artist Maggie Hambling

How much have attitudes changed towards LGBTQ people in the past 20 years?

Hugely! We have equal rights at work – you can’t be sacked for being gay. We can get married and we’re more visible and therefore ‘normalised’ on TV. I meet gay couples on property viewings who have their adopted kids with them and I see gay couples holding hands or kissing around Islington. What’s weird is that I see this is society moving ahead of me, as I’m from a different era. I can enjoy it and enjoy seeing it, but it’s moving forward regardless of me and it gives me hope for the future.

The past couple of years have seen a massive resurgence in eco-friendly shopping, and a dedication from many to start living a more sustainable lifestyle. If you’re looking to live more green- where better to start than at home? We’ve scoured the internet for our top picks of ethical homeware…

Soy Candle, Be Good Shop

Vegan friendly, chemical free, and made from 100% natural soy wax, this Nathalie Bond Organics candle fills your home with the sweetest scents, totally guilt-free. Even the container is green – the candle comes in a recycled glass jar, and is handmade in the UK.

Shop here.

Deep Sea Lampshade, The Maker Place

Designed and handmade in Kent by illustrator Emily Jepps, this beautiful screenprinted lampshade is made from 100% organic cotton. It’s also suitable for both pendant and lamp bases.

Shop here.

Geo Vessel, Secrets of Green

Secrets of Green’s geo vessels are individually handmade from sustainable and responsibly sourced plywood. They ensure that waste is kept at a minimum and use non-toxic paint and varnish.

Shop here.

Ceramic Coasters, Lusophile

This set of six ceramic coasters are hand crafted from pure white clay, and individually hand painted. The colours are perfect for a fresh, spring look – a perfect addition to any coffee table.

Shop here.

Organic Cotton Duvet Set, Ethical.market

Ethical.market’s duvet covers are fair trade, ethically sourced and produced in good working conditions in Jaipur. Staff here are on permanent contracts, with pensions and many additional benefits. They’re made from 100% organic cotton, and are of high-end hotel quality – so both your body and conscience can rest easy.

Shop here.

Stainless Steel Straws, Buy Me Once

Straws are one of the most widely consumed types of single use plastic, which many people and businesses are opting to stop using. Introduce this into your home with these stainless steel straws, which are BPA free and non-toxic (with no metallic taste!). They also come with a handy cleaning brush, and are dishwasher friendly.

Shop here.

Chai Organic Soap, The Future Kept

Made by the London Fields Soap Company with a beautiful combination of essential oils and black tea, this bar smells good and does good. It’s palm oil free, vegetarian, and 98% organic. It also comes in plastic-free packaging, and is manufactured in Hackney.

Shop here.

Linen Cushion, Aerende

Each of Aerende’s cushion covers (designed by Rosie Birkett) combines style and sustainability. They’re made from upcycled velvet and linen, and are cut and sewn at home by refugee women who have been rehoused in the UK and are receiving support from the Refugee Council (more info about this here).

Shop here.

Hexagon Mirror/Terrarium, House of Kind

These mirrors can also double up as terrariums or storage for make-up/jewellery. Each one is designed and made by an independent artist (called Fiona), and is handcrafted using glass and copper, which can be recycled and reused.

Shop here.

The bank holiday weekend is fast approaching. Whether you’re throwing a barbecue, cocktail party, or just looking to get your garden ship-shape for summer – we’ve got some tips to quickly fix up your green space.

Take a seat

Updating your seating area with new cushions or a parasol can give it a fresh look, especially if you add a pop of colour. Don’t forget to scrub down the tables and chairs, too.

Hang out

Hanging baskets are back into fashion in a big way. Opt for a traditional basket, or a more trendy terrarium for a quick floral fix without having to get your hands too dirty.

Light it up

As the evening draws in, nothing adds a more homely vibe than some tealights. Reuse some jam jars for a free and planet-friendly option.

Spruce up the shed

If your shed’s looking a bit worse for wear, don’t let it ruin the atmosphere. Have a declutter and a spring clean, and give the outside a lick of paint – we’d recommend a soft pastel for summer. Once the inside’s spick and span, and depending on how many power tools you own, you can even decorate indoors to create an additional seating area.

Loving lavender

Lavender provides the perfect scented backdrop for summer evenings outdoors. If you don’t have time to plant some, buy a few sprigs and wrap them in string. Add this to a jar or basket for a summery centrepiece that looks and smells good.

Don’t forget the front…

Take a photo of your front porch, and you’d be surprised to see how many little details you notice as you go past every day. Make sure you tidy up, mow any lawn space you have out the front, and decorate with a pot plant or a new welcome mat.

Islington has been home to a fair few celebrities over the years, from actors to writers and radio DJs. We’re still yet to spot anyone walking down Upper Street or brush shoulders with an A lister in the Angel Centre, but we’re keeping our hopes up and our eyes peeled. Here’s some of the most notable names to have graced the borough.

Emma Watson

The Harry Potter star rented a flat on Canonbury Place in 2015. Maybe she was inspired after filming on location on Claremont Square for the last two Harry Potter films…

Lily Allen

The pop singer and daughter of actor and comedian Keith Allen was born and raised in Islington.

George Orwell

1984’s famous author lived on Canonbury Square between 1944 and 1947 (although his original plaque said only 1945 – his adopted son unveiled the corrected plaque in 2016).

James McAvoy

According to the Atonement actor, who moved to the area in 2004, “it’s got a nice mix of people – they’re not all white middle class – and an excellent selection of bars and restaurants.”

Heath Ledger

The late actor spent some of his final days in Islington while filming Batman in 2008. He stayed in Pearl House, a luxury residence just down the road from Caledonian Road & Barnsbury station, on Roman Way.

Boris Johnson

Boris bought a £2.3 million townhouse on Colebrooke Row in 2009. At the time, he was forced to remove a wooden shed he built on the balcony of his home following complaints to the council.

Colin Firth

Our very own Mr Darcy has also graced the borough – I’m sure it was much nicer than Pemberley.

Alexandra Burke

Alexandra Burke, X Factor winner and singer, grew up on an estate near Caledonian Road, and attended the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School.

Helena Bonham-Carter

Also walking the halls of the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson school is The BAFTA winning actress Helena Bonham Carter, who was there last year as part of a South African exchange programme. Helena was born in Islington, but attended a different school in Golders Green.

Tony Blair

Before he moved into Downing Street in 1997, Tony Blair lived on Richmond Crescent – and should have held onto it. After selling it for £615,000 in the nineties, the value has now almost trebled to £1.69 million.

Oscar Wilde

In 1895, famous writer Oscar Wilde was also briefly a resident of Islington – at Pentonville Prison, where he was held after being convicted of “gross indecency with men”. He remained there from May until July, before he was transferred to Wandsworth Prison. To this day, he remains an iconic part of the LGBT rights movement, and his grave in Paris is adorned in lipstick kisses.

 

Could you be next? Take a look at some of our properties for sale in Islington.

The City isn’t just filled with briefcases and bankers – it’s also home to Clerkenwell, an area that boasts an array of independent shops, bars and restaurants. Here’s our pick of the best places to eat and drink in the heart of London…

The Modern Pantry

The Modern Pantry caters to a range of dining options, with breakfast, afternoon tea, cream tea, weekend brunch, and an all day menu. Their bar also serves an eclectic mix of wines and cocktails, which can be enjoyed on their sunny outdoor terrace on St John’s Square.

Dans Le Noir?

Dans Le Noir provides a sensory experience aimed to heighten your tastebuds, as everything is served “dans le noir” – in the dark. This also brings a new way of socialising, with the entire restaurant comprising sharing tables. Guests share meals in darkness and engage in conversations with people they’ve never met nor seen, while learning about blindness and disability.

Upon arrival, you must choose from a series of Surprise Menus – one meat based, one vegetarian/vegan, one pescatarian, and one a mixture of seafood and meat. The menu will be revealed after the meal.

19:20

19:20 is an American style bar with an informal, relaxed style for pool players and non pool players alike. Their basement bar is home to a 15m long zinc topped bar serving cocktails, beers, and classic American diner food.

Bleeding Heart Tavern

If you’re looking for authentic French food and wine, look no further than the Bleeding Heart Tavern. Voted the most romantic restaurant in London by The Times, the tavern, bistro, and restaurant is an ideal place for a date or catching up with friends and colleagues. Be sure to try their famous Cheeseboard.

Iberica

Following the European theme, Iberica takes Spanish tapas to the next level with their amazing ‘Croqiuetas de Jamon’ (ham croquettes) and chorizo lollipops. They cater for all types of relaxed dining – from paella lunches, to sharing tapas, to just small bites to eat at the bar with a glass of wine. They also have restaurants in Marylebone, Canary Wharf, Farringdon, and Victoria.

Look Mum No Hands!

LMNH is a combination of cafe, bicycle workshop, exhibition space and bar. A packed program of exhibitions, film screenings, live cyclesport and even cycle speed dating ensure that LMNH is always buzzing with all the different elements of London’s cycle culture.

Briki

Deli and coffee brewery Briki offers new, alternative choices with traditional recipes and quality coffee. Located in the popular Exmouth Market, their recipes come “straight from grandma’s cookbook”.

The Dovetail

Traditional Belgian pub The Dovetail serves the finest Belgian beers and traditional dishes like waffles, moules frites, and croquettes. Tucked away in the quiet  Jerusalem Passage, The Dovetail is an intimate, relaxed setting – perfect for a romantic meal or drinks with friends.

Caravan

Another Exmouth Market staple is Caravan, home to a deliciously varied menu from breakfast to brunch to main plates and freshly roasted coffee. Come in the morning for a hot cup of joe with the papers, or head there after work for cocktails and small plates.

Nestled between the buzzing vibes of Shoreditch and the quieter Victoria Park village is Bethnal Green, which like many places in east London, is now one of the city’s trendiest neighbourhoods. If you’re out and about near Bethnal Green this weekend, here are our top picks of bars and restaurants to try:

Sager + Wilde

Tucked under the railway arches of Bethnal Green station is Sager + Wilde (and the next two places on our list, too!).

Working with local, seasonal produce, Sager + Wilde’s main dinner menu has a strong Italian influence – grab a bowl of pasta and a glass of house wine for £10 every day from 5-7pm. Or alternatively, they offer a group menu of three courses for £29 a head. Of course, like any good east London restaurant, there’s also a brunch menu and a selection of house cocktails.

Find out more here.

Mother Kelly’s

Perfect for a relaxed drink after work, Mother Kelly’s is a New York inspired taproom and bottle shop. They work with independent breweries all over the world with a wide variety of beers – from the affordable, familiar brands to the more limited edition bottles. They also serve sharing boards of cured meats and cheeses prepared in-house, and street food from local vendors on the weekends.

Find out more here.

The Japanese Canteen

After a few drinks at Mother Kelly’s, head next door to The Japanese Canteen if you’re in the mood for quality yet inexpensive authentic Japanese food. Their sushi is always served fresh, and is from sustainable resources.

Find out more here.

The Larder

Just a few minutes’ walk from Bethnal Green station is The Larder, a bright and airy cafe serving a wide variety of vegetarian food and drink, including a vegetarian afternoon tea and a large selection of juices and smoothies.

Find out more here.

St Margaret’s House

St Margaret’s House is a local charity supporting creativity, wellbeing, and community in Bethnal Green. Their buildings are home to more than 27 community organisations and charities, and their Gallery Cafe.

The cafe offers low-cost vegan dishes, locally ground Fairtrade coffee, and healthy juices as well as a programme of events and monthly art exhibitions – plus their back garden is the perfect sun trap in summer months. Oh, and they’ve also won Best Cafe in Bethnal Green at the Time Out Love London Awards for the last three consecutive years.

Find out more here.

Star of Bethnal Green

The Star of Bethnal Green is a little gem on Bethnal Green Road, with a selection of locally brewed beers, a legendary Sunday Roast, and DJs and disco nights in the evenings. They also offer a loyalty card for locals, 2 for 1 cocktails on Thursdays, and 20% off all food and drinks on Wednesdays.

Find out more here.

Islington may be the second smallest borough in London – but there’s plenty going on, especially this April. Take a look at our pick of the upcoming events this month to fill your diary:

Portrait Painting at Candid Arts

Feeling creative? Candid Arts on Torren Street (next to Angel Underground station) are running their popular portrait painting course on 7th April (and throughout May). The class is suitable for all levels, so beginners are welcome, and the course includes plenty of demonstration and one-to-one tuition.

Find out more and book here.

The Writer at the Almeida Theatre

Running from 14th April – 26th May is The Writer, a powerful new production from director Blanche McIntyre. The story focuses on a young writer looking to challenge the status quo, who discovers that creative gain comes at a personal cost.

Find out more and book here.

St George’s Dinner at Harry’s Bar

The newly refurbished Harry’s Bar & Brasserie on Ironmonger Lane is holding a St George’s Day Q&A session with boxer Frank Warren. Tickets are £75, to include a four course meal, tea or coffee, a pairing wine, and a donation to Frank Warren’s chosen charities. These are Debra, that supports individuals and families affected by the skin condition Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), and Nordoff Robbins, a music therapy charity.

Contact Claire Hooper on 020 7600 0300 to book.

Plastic at the Old Red Lion Theatre

Plastic is an emotional new drama showing throughout April at the Red Lion Theatre on St John Street. The play is about time, memory and escape by BAFTA nominated playwright Kenneth Emson and directed by 2017 JMK Award winner Josh Roche.

Book tickets and get more information here.

London Art Fair

The 31st annual London Art Fair is returning to the Business Design Centre in Angel. Bringing together more than 100 galleries with sculptures, paintings, photographs, ceramics and more, the event showcases contemporary artwork from the 20th century to today. As well as the main fair, there are also two smaller, specially curated exhibitions showcasing less established galleries with new works and contemporary photography.

Find out more here.

Comedy at the Union Chapel

West Yorkshire comedian Daniel Kitson hosts April’s edition of Live at the Union Chapel on 7th April, with some special guests to get your ribs aching. These include 8 out of 10 Cats and Taskmaster guest Sara Pascoe, five times Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee James Acaster, sketch trio Gein’s Family Giftshop and Tom Parry of the three-man comedy act Pappy’s.

Book tickets here.

The Singing Mermaid at The Little Angel Theatre

The Little Angel Theatre’s puppet show adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s classic picture book, The Singing Mermaid, is sure to keep the kids entertained this April – and maybe the grown ups too! Running until the 22nd April, the show follows a singing mermaid who is tempted away from all of her sea creature friends to join a travelling circus.

Book tickets and find out more here.

Now that the Beast from the East has cleared and the daffodils are blooming, this only means one thing – spring is on its way. OK, it’s not exactly warm yet, but soon it will be; which means it’s time to decorate accordingly. There are some fantastic new interior design trends emerging (or re-emerging) for spring, so here are our top picks to try out at home:

1. Gelato walls

Pastel pink, mint green, a light coffee – keep your wall colours soft and delicate this spring to add a fresher feel. If there’s a flavour of ice cream in the same colour, you’re probably on the right track.

2. Jungle fever

Tropical motifs and plants have been a popular trend for a while now, and spring is the time to follow this to the full. Pair larger potted plants and hanging succulents with brown leather furnishings to give your home the ultimate dose of jungle fever.

3. Shine on

Another trend that looks like it’s sticking around for a while is metallics, specifically copper and rose gold. Adding accessories with brassy tones gives your room an instant modern upgrade.

4. Wall plates

Do you have a set of plates that are too nice to use every day, but you still want to show off? This is the solution. According to Lucy Currell of interior design company Studio Iro in a piece for The Times, “the ceramics add depth, texture and pattern, either singularly or as a collection”… so put them on display immediately!

5. Shape up

Along with tropical motifs and metallics came a trend for geometric shapes and furniture. A great place to show this off quickly and easily is with light fittings – swap a lampshade for a geometric shell (bonus points if it’s in copper or rose gold). Geometric patterns are also a great design for tiles, so if you’re redecorating the kitchen or bathroom, this could be a style to consider.

6. Add pops of colour

Gone are the dark days of winter – it’s time to come alive and shake off the gloom and cold. What better way to do that than with colour (and lots of it)? Adding small pops of colour with cushions/throws can really boost the whole feel of the room – especially if interesting materials and designs are used; pom-poms and fringing are always a fun addition.

7. Back to basics

Spring is all about getting back to nature – with the weather cheering up, the daffodils coming back and blossom filling the trees. It’s therefore the best time to incorporate natural elements into your home; go for wooden utensils, sideboards, and decorations as well as animal prints and soft, earthy colours.

8. Go sustainable

With a fresh start comes a fresh outlook – if you’re looking to be more eco-friendly, Artisan Lifestyle have a fabulous range of 100% recycled glassware that looks amazing and also help you do your bit for the planet.

9. Get clever with storage

De-cluttering is one of the first things to do in a spring clean – and a great way to get your stuff in order is with clever storage. Think Scandinavian minimalism and opt for an interesting console. Clear your belongings out of the way whilst also adding an interesting new piece of statement furniture to the room.

10. Add some texture

Ceramic vases, pots, and bowls add an extra feeling of homeliness – especially if they’re handmade. Opt for a smooth white with a subtle pattern or interesting shape to bring some minimalist but cosy sophistication to your living room.