Decorating

Our favourite Planet and People Friendly Products!

Whether you’re renovating or building from scratch, nowadays there is an emphasis on ‘eco-construction’ and how we can reduce the impact our homes have on the environment.

From using environmentally friendly building materials to renewable energy and green technology within the home there are many alternative products out there which can make your home more ‘eco friendly’.

Here we take a look at the alternatives and their eco friendly properties.

Calcium silicate Bricks

Unless you’re able to use re-claimed bricks, use calcium silicate bricks which use of less energy and do not produce the same amount of air pollutants associated with firing clay. Calcium silicate bricks therefore are considered to render significantly less impact on the environment than clay bricks. Notable uses of the brick in London include Battersea Power Station and the RIBA building in Portland Place.

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Timber

Wherever possible the use of sustainable timber is the ‘go to’ option for any ‘eco home’. Using sustainable timber such as that which is FSC or PEFC certified stimulates the expansion of managed forests to absorb CO2. FSC certified forests support biodiversity and protect the rights of indigenous peoples. The UK is the biggest importer of FSC certified timber.
Using UK grown timber reduces embodied energy and contributes to the local culture and economy - Milling logs has a comparatively low environmental impact.
Timber is a very safe material to handle. It is non-toxic and does not break down into environmentally damaging materials.

Natural clay plasters

Non-toxic and made from sustainable raw materials, natural clay plasters have breath ability to prevent harmful mold and reduce allergies and asthma plus they are recyclable. (clay works)
Clay expands when wet, the wetter it becomes, the more it resists moisture. This makes it an ideal plaster to use in contact with wood or straw. Clay plaster also regulates temperature and air-moisture.

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Eco friendly insulation

Recycled newspaper, sheeps wool, hemp and plastics are alternatives to mineral based insulation materials and are safer to handle and reduce the homes carbon foot print.

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Hempcrete

Hempcrete is a building material that incorporates hemp into its mixture. Hempcrete is very versatile as it can be used for wall insulation, flooring, walls, roofing and more. It’s fire-proof, water-proof, and rot-proof as long as it’s above ground. Hempcrete is made from the shiv or inside stem of the hemp plant and is then mixed with a lime base binder to create the building material. This mixture creates a negative carbon footprint for those who are concerned with the carbon side of things. Hempcrete is much more versatile, easy to work with and pliable than concrete. In fact, earthquakes cannot crack these structures as they are 3 times more resistant than regular concrete.

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Timbercrete

Timbercrete’s thermal insulation properties out-perform many masonry products by up to 6 times. It’s made from timber waste products and actually traps the carbon that would otherwise end up as greenhouse gas. You save energy for heating and cooling, and each brick, paver and block takes a lot less energy to produce. Timbercrete has excellent sound absorption and acoustic qualities

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Ferrock

Compared to Portland cement (made from chalk and clay and resembling Portland stone in color), which is one of the leading types in use throughout the world today, Ferrock is actually five times stronger. It can withstand more compression before breaking and is far more flexible, meaning it could potentially resist the earth movements caused by seismic activity or industrial processes. One of the unique properties of Ferrock is that it becomes even stronger in salt water environments, making it ideal for marine-based construction projects. And rather than emitting large amounts of C02 as it dries, Ferrock actually absorbs and binds it! This results in a carbon-negative process that actually helps to trap greenhouse gases.

Solar panels


Energy bills have in the past years increased by at least 7% per annum. You can protect yourself from the rising utility bills by incorporating solar panels into your energy mix. This will reduce your electricity bills significantly. Plus through Feed-in Tariffs (FiT) you can get paybacks for the electricity you produce. The Feed-In Tariff is an initiative by the UK Government aimed at helping you to become more self-sufficient and sustainable in your use of energy, whilst earning some extra income. Plus if your system produces more energy than you need, through the generous tariff schemes, you can sell the surplus back to the grid.
Solar panels work all year round. Their full potential is released during the sunny months, but they also produce a considerable amount of electricity during the winter, as well as on cloudy days.
Solar panels need almost no maintenance. Once the panels are installed, you need to keep them clean and check whether any trees begin to overshadow the solar PV array.

Solar water heating systems use solar panels, called collectors, fitted to your roof. These collect heat from the sun and use it to heat up water which is stored in a hot water cylinder. A boiler or immersion heater can be used as a back up to heat the water further to reach the required temperature.

Double Glazing

Double and Large glazing reduces the need for lighting and reduces the cost of heating homes.Traditional windows, with a single pane of glass in them, have a U value in excess of 5. Double glazing used to score over 3, but, over the years, the manufacturing process has undergone a number of improvements and currently the Building Regulations insist that any window you install today should have a U value no worse than 1.6. Some countries like Sweden and Norway use triple glazed windows which have a U value of 1.8 (impressive). However the cost of installing triple glazing and each windows weight means it has an embodied energy* approximately 50% higher than double glazing.

*Embodied energy is the energy consumed by all of the processes associated with the production of a building, from the mining and processing of natural resources to manufacturing, transport and product delivery.

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Wool Carpets

Allegedly, flooring products account for around 40% of a building’s environmental impact and soft flooring will be changed between 6 and 12 times during the 60 years of a building’s life. Whatever the source of these figures, they are a useful prompt to consider the importance of specifying products such as carpeting with an eye to minimising environmental impact. Our thoughts on carpet…. don’t buy carpets but if you do want carpets then go for wool or buy a wool rug.  It is very durable and can last centuries. In some families wool rugs have been passed down from generation to generation making them  family heirlooms.   Other natural materials used to make carpets or rugs are sisal, jute and cotton.

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Pure Glue Eco Plywood

Pure Glue Eco Plywood combines the lightweight nature and decorative face of plywood with a non-toxic, formaldehyde-free glue for improved air quality.

Little Greene Paint Co.

This company produces waterbased paints that carry the industry's lowest eco-rating, with VOC content now virtually zero. This means you don't need to worry about solvent contributions to the atmosphere or any respiratory issues, or the smell; they are virtually odourless.

Oil based paints are traditionally favoured because of their renowned longevity and superb finish. Little Greene oil based paints have been reformulated using sustainable vegetable oils, without compromising on their unrivalled quality.

The paper used in their wallpapers comes from FSC or PEFC certificated sustainable forests; so for every tree used another four are planted. The pigments used to print them are completely non-toxic and the excellent wallpaper paste contains no solvent.

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Air Source Heat Pumps

Air Source Heat Pumps use refrigeration technology to provide heat from a condensing unit. The evaporator side of the heat pump absorbs energy from the air outside the house using it as a source of heat for a properties hot water cylinder, radiators or underfloor heating. If the right unit is installed in the property, an Air Source Heat Pump can provide all the hot water and heating a property requires for 365 days a year.

Grey Water/ Rain water Harvesting

Grey water recycling within domestic homes is the process of taking used water from showers, baths and hand wash basins, filtering it and storing the filtered water for re-use.

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Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP) utilise the heat energy stored in the ground to heat water that can be distributed to the heating system, domestic hot water system and appliances within a building. The GSHP works by passing heat from the ground through buried pipework that carries a brine mixture which converts the heat into higher temperatures for use within the home.

So if you want to make your home more eco-friendly or you would like a free quote on any home improvement project then contact us today!!

Oh and one last note… When sourcing materials take a good look at what constitutes the product or material. If you are unsure about the provenance or ingredient of some product, ask the manufacturer to state where it comes from and what it is made of. If the manufacturer is on top of their game, they will make available an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). If a declaration isn't on offer, at least check the health and safety sheet for any human toxin content.

Here are a list of ingredients to stay away from:

Alkylphenol
Alkylphenols are a component in phenolic resins, but they can also be found in adhesives, paints and coatings and high performance rubber products..

Asbestos
The history of the use of asbestos culminated in one of the greatest public health tragedies of modern times. Exposure to the former wonder mineral continues to be the cause of one of the most pernicious forms of cancer.

Bisphenol A
Bisphenol A is used as a hardener in making polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Common BPA products include water bottles, baby bottles, food storage containers, household electronics, plastic lenses and DVDs.

Cadmium
Most commonly used in the production of nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) rechargeable batteries and as a sacrificial corrosion-protection coating for iron and steel. Other uses include alloys, coatings (electroplating), solar cells, plastic stabilisers, and pigments.

Chlorinated Polyethylene (CPE)
CPE is a versatile material that when compounded with other materials, achieves different properties and products. It is widely used as a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), rubber and modifier for resins (PVC, PE and ABS)

Chlorobenzene
Chlorobenzene's most high-profile application was in the production of the pesticide DDT. Modern uses are as a solvent in the manufacture of adhesives, paints, paint removers, polishes, dyes, and drugs.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
CR is used mainly in the rubber industry but is also important as a raw material for adhesives and has different latex applications such as moulded foam, rubber sheeting, sound insulation and gaskets.

Chloroprene
CR is used mainly in the rubber industry but is also important as a raw material for adhesives and has different latex applications such as moulded foam, rubber sheeting, sound insulation and gaskets.

Chlorosulfonated polyethylene (CSPE)
CSPE’s weatherability, UV stability and adhesion capability have made this material very popular as a commercial roofing material. Other applications include wire and cable sheathing and paint.Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde is used in a wide spectrum of products.  In construction, formaldehyde is still widely used as a binder in insulation products as well as commonly as an adhesive in wood panel products.

Halogenated flame retardants
Flame retardants (FR) are compounds that when added to manufactured materials, such as plastics and textiles, and surface finishes and coatings that inhibit, suppress, or delay the production of flames to prevent the spread of fire.

Hexavalent chromium (aka Chromium-6 )
It's corrosion resistance make it a first choice as an alloy or plating in the production of stainless steel. Hexavalent chromium is used to produce CCA (chromated copper arsenate) that is applied as a preservative in the treatment of structural timber.

Lead
Lead comes with a long history of use, but in recent times we have become aware of its potential to render harm to humans. However, it still plays a role in the construction industry, primarily in roofing applications.

Mercury
Though previously applied to a wide spectrum of products and processes, mercury's toxicity has become highly restrictive of general useage.

Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs)
PFCs are used to make stain, heat and water-resistant products including fire protection agents, floor polishes and paints. They are also used to manufacture non-stick coatings.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
PCBs are synthetic organic chemicals that were manufactured for use in various industrial and commercial applications - including oil in electrical and hydraulic equipment, and plasticisers in paints, plastics and rubber products. Useage has become severley restricted in recent years.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
Such is the height of the PVC industry's econmic profile, that critiicism from GreenPeace and others has provoked the producers of PVC into a series of intense and acrimonius confrontations.

Polyvinylidene Chloride (PVDC)
Polyvinylidene Chloride is synthesised from ethylene dichloride. Introduced by DOW Chemicals in 1939, the PVDC monomer is used in the manufacture of barrier coatings, fibres and plastics.

Pthalates
Phthalates are esters of phthalic acid and are most commonly found in plastics, and primarily, in PVC as plasticisers to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity.

Short-Chain Chlorinated Paraffins (SCCPs) (aka Chlorinated alkanes)
SCCPs are found world-wide in the environment, wildlife and humans. They are bioaccumulative in wildlife and humans, are persistent and transported globally through the environment

 

Top Trends for 2019!

Oh we are excited for what’s in store for 2019. So here are our top tips for what’s IN and OUT in 2019.

IN - LIVING CORAL.

Pantone announced its “colour of the year” for 2019 is Living Coral, a bright, cheerful peach. This 'animating and life-affirming shade of orange with a golden undertone' will bring a vibrant and happy tone to your home, guaranteed!

Pantone colour of the year ‘Living Coral’.

Pantone colour of the year ‘Living Coral’.

OUT - GENDERED ROOMS

Gone are the days of blue and pink rooms. It’s time to mix it up with gender neutral colours so as not to dampen creative potential and reinforce hidden biases.

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IN- SUSTAINABILITY

Society is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of environmentally responsible building and interior design. So the next time you buy a piece of furniture make sure it is sourced from a sustainable resource, so your home doesn’t have a negative environmental impact on our society.

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OUT - GREYS

Grey was the 2016's color of the year according to Pinterest, but since then, warmer tones have begun to enter the minimalistic homes, like natural hues.

IN- BIOPHILIA

Biophilia emphasises the relationship between humankind and nature, and the connections between the two. So try and bring the outside and nature into your home by incorporating natural, organic materials–such as wood floors, stone, and daylight and plant life.

Our favourite Christmas Interiors!

Well Christmas day is nearly upon us and we cant contain our excitement! So we've put together our favourite Christmas interiors of this year (we hope you like them) and we wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Alternative Christmas tree ideas.

Real evergreens and artificial trees aren't the only Christmas tree options available. If you're short on space or if you're just looking for a unique tree this year then check out these alternatives!  

The best indoor trees!

When it comes to making design statements at home, large indoor plants is our favourite trend so far! Most of us know instinctively that being close to greenery makes us feel more at ease with our surroundings. We experience less stress when there are plants around us. Buildings are quieter and more relaxed but, at the same time, more stimulating and interesting. Indoor trees and plants can also

  1. Increase humidity 
  2. Reduce levels of certain pollutants, such as benzene and nitrogen dioxide 
  3. Reduce airborne dust levels 
  4. Keep air temperatures down 
  5. Reduce carbon dioxide levels

 Indoor trees can work beautifully so long as the tree receives the essentials: air, water, soil and sunlight. It’s also important to consider the tree’s growth habits, requirements and ongoing maintenance.Stay away from trees that produce messy fruits, or need to be constantly fertilized or pruned. Of course, you also want to be mindful of plants that have poisonous parts and opt for nontoxic ones if you have kids or pets.

So check out the different styles below and decide which one would complement your home.

What's in or out in 2018!

So we have been looking at the trends for 2018 and here are our ideas for what's hot and what's not in 2018.

IN: Statement Art             OUT: Gallery wall

Is it time for busy (slightly chaotic) gallery walls to be replaced by bigger statement pieces? 

IN: Brass                         OUT: Copper

With copper everywhere nowadays we think the more subtle sophisticated tones of brass will be a massive trend in 2018.

IN: Lavender                      OUT: Millennial Pink

We love millennial pink and we think it will still stick around for a while to come but it looks like shades of lavender are now one of the front runners for 2018!

IN: Terrazzo                        OUT: Carrara marble

We love marble as its classy and long lasting but it looks like Carrara marble is a big hit in the interior design world... lets see what happens!

IN: Herringbone floors       OUT: White painted floors

We love painted floors as it's cheap and transforms the look of any room but it looks like herringbone floors are coming back as the more stylish and longer lasting choice.

IN: Green                             OUT: Indigo

You can't go wrong with indigo as its a classic colour but for an edgier more modern look make sure you go green as this looks like a major colour trend for 2018.

Christmas decorating ideas for small spaces.

Christmas is coming and we are getting pretty excited. So check out our favourite ways to add that festive spirit into your home even if you don't have much space.

If you're short on space then swapping your decor is a simple way to add that festive feel.

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Use wall art like this painted Christmas tree to display your decorations, presents and Christmas lights.

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Improvise your mantel piece to create a real focal point in your room... think candles, greenery, fairy lights... the bigger the better! 

 

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Substitute a Branch for a tree for that simple Scandinavian style - hang decorations from it to create a magnificent centre piece at your dining table.

 

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Why not make your wrapping paper the decor by adding festive greenery and handmade tags to your presents and make them the focal point of your room.

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Use furniture you have in your home as displays for festive decorations and ornaments.

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Try a mini tree which you can display on a cabinet to give your home that holiday cheer.

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Our favourite red interiors!

With red being the colour of the moment we've put together our favourite red interiors. Whether you go for red walls, red furniture or red accessories, chose a hue you love and incorporate it into your home this winter!

 

Dark and stormy interiors!

We're getting our spook on for Halloween and we have put together our favourite black interiors. 

Colour trends you need in your home!

Pinks'n'blues 

For a calm and trendy look combine duskier pale pinks with blues and layer with more brighter tones to create a cool, modern interior. 

Greens

Rich, leafy greens combine two of this season’s key trends – jewel tones and natural finishes. Pair soft green accessories with plenty of wood for a relaxed and welcoming space.

Reds

From terracotta hues to scarlet red, this colour scheme will be a real show stopper.  Try a Chinese red which has quite a bit of orange in it, for a pretty intense statement. Or try terracotta in combination with other cooler (literally) shades to keep it completely contemporary. 

Blues

Dark blues have great depth and are gorgeous in a room from floor to ceiling. This calm confident colour oozes class and style.

Now decide on your favourite and let XI Projects transform your home with the newest colour trend - call us for a quote today!

Handmade tiles - the hottest trend!

We can't get enough of handmade tiles at the moment, especially the matte varieties. The texture of each tile makes the most boring of rooms super stylish. Whatever shape you prefer - scales, scallops, kit-kat, hexangonal or square, make sure to use handmade tiles somewhere in your home for that super luxe look. Check out our favourites below and call us for a quote!

Wallpaper trends to follow now!

We're using wallpaper more than ever before as a relatively cheap way to transform an ordinary room into a showstopper. Now with limitless patterns available wallpaper is no longer reserved for just a feature wall. So check out our favourite wallpaper trends, decide on your favourite and embrace wallpaper in your home! 

MURAL - Large scale mural wallpaper designs can change the atmosphere of a room dramatically and immediately give that WOW factor!

GEOMETRIC- Geometric wallpapers create a bold, fresh feel and provide a dynamic, modern look.

FLORAL- Traditional floral wallpapers are not only for country cottages as they are surprisingly versatile and create a dramatic statement in any room. 

DIGITAL- Today, digital wallpaper comes in every look you can think of. With unlimited colour palettes there are no restrictions when it comes to pattern size, resulting in designs that are big and brilliantly vibrant.

FAUX FINISH- Faux finish wallpaper such as brick, concrete, or wood-inspired patterns create a focal point in any room as well as some serious style.

METALICS- The slight shine these wallpapers give off is enough to add a luxe feel to any space...winning!

Plywood love!

Nowadays, you’re likely to see this engineered, layered wood used on construction sites, or as an alternative to MDF but plywood is cropping up as a star material, unpainted and proud around the home.

Though pricier than MDF, plywood is still generally much more affordable than solid wood and has the benefits over MDF of being stronger, better at holding screws, suitable for exterior jobs (depending on the variety) and, arguably, better looking in its raw state.

From super-strong, humidity-proof and good-looking marine ply to easy-to-cut-and-drill softwood ply; rugged and ready hardwood; pale, smooth birch ply, or thin, bendable sheets, there are many plywood varieties to choose from, as well as multiple thicknesses. 

So now you've had a quick run down check out our favourite ways to use plywood around the home for that super stylish modern look and call us for a quote today!

Lagom- how to bring the lifestyle concept into your home.

Lagom, a Swedish word which literally translates to ‘just the right amount’, is about keeping life simple. Focus on moderation to create fairness and balance, and don’t overcomplicate life and you will achieve far more. 

This can of course be translated into our homes to create a sense of harmony and wellbeing. Lagom translates to “enough, sufficient, adequate, just right.” Unlike hygge, which aims to capture a feeling, lagom is an ethos of moderation. Now follow these easy steps to get more Lagom in your home...

1. De-clutter

Create a simpler and more curated look by de-cluttering and selecting only those home accessories that you truly love and will stand the test of time. Clutter free surfaces also help us to enjoy our space more - there should be a place for everything. 

2. Keep it classic

Form a scheme that is classic and will not date with a pared back, practical approach to design. Consider the true purpose of a room and whether your layout and furniture meets its needs without being overcomplicated

3. Narrow your colour scheme

Edit your colour palette at home to include just a few key colours. Complementary groups of neutrals are idea for Lagom as they provide elegance and simplicity, and most importantly will not date.

4. Go organic

Choose natural materials that are organic and are long lasting. Solid wood, soft cotton and woven linen are ideal for Lagom as opposed to more decadent finishes.

5. Add a green touch

Add some indoor plants to your home as they offer an element of nature and sustainability which is perfectly aligned with the Lagom outlook. They will also bring energy to your space and help to remove pollutants.

6. Ample lighting

It seems obvious that adding ample lighting will brighten your home, but by installing LED bulbs, you will drastically brighten your space whilst cutting down your electricity bill and avoiding wasted energy.

7. Mirrors

Mirrors are a brilliant way to visually expand a room. By reflecting light, mirrors will open up your space making it feel bigger and brighter, so you can appreciate and make best use of the space that you have.

Ombre - the hottest trend!

Ombre, literally translates to 'shaded' in French, and has become a super trend throughout fashion, beauty and now interiors. The smooth, satisfying gradient of ombre technique calms the soul like no solid shade can. So whether you're using paint, tiles, or wallpaper to create your ombre effect, embrace this trend in your home ASAP! For some inspiration check out our favourites below.

Tropical decor - our favourites!

Tropical decor is bang on trend now summer is approaching. So we have rounded up our favourite ways to use a tropical theme in every room of the house! So whether you use tropical themed murals, wallpaper, artwork, cushion covers or plants just make sure to incorporate this style somewhere in your house! Enjoy!

Creating a gallery wall - top tips.

Creating a gallery wall in your home can be a unique and affordable way to transform a room with the paintings, photographs, illustrations and personal pieces that matter to you. Whether you want to create a statement in your living room or simply make a staircase or blank wall come alive, a gallery of images is a fun way to express yourself and showcase your favourite artworks. 

Hints and tips:

Tie your gallery wall together by a theme, frame colour, style or colour palette. 

In a busy room with lots of patterns and textures, the key is to stick to a single hue, with the option of adding small splashes of colour into the mix.

Balance and symmetry are key for creating a gallery wall that works. Start with the largest piece you intend to hang on your wall and use this as the focal point. Work from the centre out. 

Using a shelf is another easy way to create a gallery wall that can be updated frequently without the need to rehang.

Now for some inspiration check out our favourite gallery walls below and have fun creating your own!

Why we love Crittall!

Crittall metal-framed windows were first invented in the 1880s, and enjoyed a heyday in the art deco era. Today, they are having a resurgence as doors onto a garden, a room divider or good old-fashioned windows. Metal framed glazing has never looked so good. Scroll down and check out our tips on how to use them in your home!

The use of crittall to separate areas of the house and creating two separate entrances just looks so impressive!

Crittall is a great way to add light to a small dark space like a hallway.

Crittall allows you to frame the outdoors and bring some ultra cool style to the living areas.

Crittall is a great way to separate living and dining areas whilst still keeping that open plan feel.

Crittall adds some classic and contemporary style to any room.

Use crittall to show off your personal collections whilst still giving you the option to have some privacy.

Crittall is a great way to frame an interior courtyard and create a dramatic look.

Crittall doors can be used as wall replacements to separate the bedroom from the rest of the house keeping the house light and airy.

Crittall is a great way to separate a little space like a utility from the rest of the home.

Use crittal doors to separate the dining area from other parts of the house whilst still letting the light in! 

Now you know how crittall can make your home super stylish contact us for a quote and let us design the house of your dreams.

Decorating with jewel tones!

Jewel tones are great at adding drama to a room. We love rich jewel tones and the different ways they can be used to decorate a room. Use small cushions, statement sofas, painted floors & rich wall paint to add depth and texture to a room and make it look super luxurious. Check out our favourite jewel tone decorating ideas below!

Millennial pink - how to use it in your home!

Now Spring has finally sprung we are totally loving 'Millennial Pink'. Millennial Pink is currently one of THE colours to use around the home. With its gender neutral tone this colour will make your home uber sophisticated. So check out our favourite ways to use millennial pink around the home.