Our new WEEKEND Newsletter is landing in subscriber inboxes across the city. If you haven't signed up (yet) then you can read it here:

Interior refresh

Plenty of time at home? Wanting to improve your interior space? The creative planning starts here, without DIY supplies, says Emma Clegg

Let’s consider the reality: you can’t go to your local DIY store, you can’t visit the woodyard, you can’t get the builders in, have a new kitchen installed, or new shelves and cupboards commissioned. Let this not stop you, as there is plenty you can do, not least with the amount of serious thinking time you have been gifted.

Interior vision

It’s not a revelatory observation, but magazines and design books can be a wonderful source of ideas for colour combinations and mood vibes – and while not as essential as toilet rolls, they can still be purchased as you shop. Or if you’re stuck at home (which we know you most likely are) and don’t have any appropriate material in the house then go for Pinterest and Instagram, which have an amazing range of ideas and visuals to tempt and inspire.

Your interior plans may well be more ambitious than Lockdown circumstances allow, but getting the right feel for a room is all in the planning, and hey, you have time right now. So use what you’ve got to create a mood board to transform one of your rooms into that personal space that you’ve always hankered after. Use magazines if you have them, or print out images of colours, wallpapers, fabrics and home products that you like, as well as complete interiors that rock your boat. As Dan Morris from local tiling company Mandarin Stone says, “It’s essential to keep our minds occupied during these challenging times and now is the perfect time to plan projects you may have been thinking about for a while. Utilise great images resources such as Pinterest and Instagram to gather ideas and produce mood boards.”

Following Dan’s advice, I’ve made three mood boards in Lockdown, and I’ve ordered some emulsion and chalk paints online to follow through the vision – I’m going for the Girl with a Pearl Earring mantelpiece with its resonant royal blue and I’ve found some vases and decorative objets – currently stuffed in cupboards or abandoned on bathroom shelves – to get the look. I’ve even made a secret online purchase, a slate blue vase with an asymmetrical bent that I can’t quite understand how I’ve previously lived without. I also have dramatic plans for bookcases, so they transform from your ordinary bookcase to a noteworthy design statement. In essence, I am now a woman of action, a designer, a doer, a mover and a shaker. I don’t just talk about ‘ideas’; my mission is to make them happen.

Dream of chill-out zones

Many of us don’t spend that much time at home in the normal run of things, so we might now need to create secret corners for working or reading or chilling or escaping the family fray, if you have the manoeuvre room. This will require some reanalysis of your home and some moving of furniture. What about creating a new space with a comfy chair and a coffee table in a corner of a bedroom? What about a desk in the conservatory among the plants? What about clearing out the shed in the garden and making a workshop? If you’re short of space, there’s usually an inventive solution. Repurpose, reorganise, reinvigorate.

Dan Morris from Mandarin Stone, an expert in bathroom chill-out zones, advises making your bathroom a space to escape to, using it just as it is now, as well as planning for future renovations. “Allow the bathroom to become your sanctuary. Run a bath, light some candles and treat yourself to a solo glass of wine.” You can also peruse pictures of ideal bathrooms – when cossetted in your bathrobe afterwards, otherwise they will get wet – so you can plan your future uplifting tiling choices for bathrooms and wet rooms with attitude. A selection of images shown here from Mandarin Stone show some of the bathrooms you might be dreaming of, and some of the elements that you might want to combine in a bathroom, in a tiling version of a moodboard.

Having the time to stop and think and look, especially if you have the key decision makers in the family in Lockdown with you, also opens up the opportunity of imagining that ideal always-wanted space, of discovering what it is you want, of agreeing on a concept. The dreaming stage of a design is a crucial one, allowing everyone to contribute and share different ideas.