I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. And Instagram. Well, with pictures on social media generally, if I’m honest.
I have two character traits that have led to this sorry state of affairs.
First, I’m compulsively nosy and can’t resist peeking inside other people’s houses.
Second, I’m completely style-blind and while I swoon over cool interiors on Pinterest boards, I have no ability to pull that sort of look together myself. Please tell me it’s not just me who does this?
So I was pretty excited when Dulux got in touch and invited me to try out their new Amazing Space service.
Amazing Space is an online service which gives you the opportunity to have a one-to-one consultation with an interior designer – at a fraction of the cost.
The service works in a few key stages:
First, sign up on the website and create your project, by uploading photos of the room you want to transform, along with any inspirational images of items you love, Pinterest boards, web links etc. The website will ask you want you want to change, and what you’re looking to spend. You’ll also be asked to look at a series of inspirational room photos and asked to say what you like and don’t like about them.
Next, schedule your 30-minute consultation with an interior designer. Appointments cost from £75 for one room, and use video-conferencing system that works on laptops, tablets and mobile devices. If your system isn’t up to spec, don’t worry – designers can also work with you over the phone, if needed. Appointments are available during the day, evening and weekend, so it’s really flexible.
During the consultation, your designer will run through a personalised mood board with ideas for your space – with options for different colours, products, furnishings and accessories. This is a collaborative process – you can give feedback on the mood board and the designer will make changes to the selections.
Within 48 hours of the consultation, you’ll receive a full project plan from your designer. The project plan is pretty cool and includes:
- A mood board that helps show your initial ‘wants’ for the room and some inspirational images
- A flat plan showing the suggested layout of your room
- A clickable shopping board including all the items the designer suggests for the room – my designers included two options for lots of products because they picked up on the fact that I’m a bit completely indecisive.
I tried three consultations with three designers – looking at my lounge, bedroom and dining room.
- £75 is brilliant value for money if you consider a) how many expensive mistakes we typically make when doing a makeover and b) the cost of hiring your own interior designer
- All the designers were really happy to chat, to listen to my ideas and take on board when I hated something they loved! They all listened when I said that we have a colour scheme that runs through our entire house – off-whites, greys, soft greens with very occasional pops of colour – and didn’t try to change my mind!
- I gave the three designers different budgets – low, medium and high – and in each case, the designer’s project came in under budget – which I thought was fantastic. The designers aren’t going to pressure you to spend beyond your means.
- The clickable shopping list at the end of the project is nothing short of genius – knowing I could buy everything on a list, and it would all match, and look good together – WOW. I could never achieve that by myself.
- Having said that, designers are keen to point out the list can just be a starting point – they all offered tips on finding similar items elsewhere, if I wanted to look around a bit more. Everyone recommended using tester pots and the Dulux app to visualise colours in my rooms before committing!
- Finally, every single designer offered me options to do things in stages – “This table will work great if you don’t want to replace your chairs quite yet,” or “These colours will all work really well if you want to live with your current wallpaper a bit longer.” It really helps ensure that Amazing Space doesn’t feel like a hard sell, but a proper consultation. Big props to Dulux for that.
- The service is new, and prone to the odd glitch. On two of my three calls, we had to use the phone because of audio delays, and the Amazing Space site briefly told me that one of my projects had been ‘eaten’. But there’s no problem using the phone for audio – it worked just as well as the laptop.
- If you want to do a project NOW, you might want to brief the designer – some of the items on my recommended shopping list had a 16-17 week lead time. I can’t wait that long for a chair! (impatient, moi?)
The Bedroom Makeover
I was so happy with the results of my consultations. First up was my bedroom. I’m using a motley collection of furniture from previous houses, none of which quite matches. I have a lovely new bed, and I wanted some inspiration for new furniture and soft furnishings that would pull the room together.
My designer, Imogen, suggested keeping my light fitting and curtains, my gorgeous new bed, and the trunk and rocking chair I inherited from my grandparents. She then suggested some warm elm furniture from Made.com – a wardrobe, drawers and console table which could be used as a dressing table. She then suggested painting one wall in the room a soft sage green, and using a deep charcoal on the fireplace to tie the whole colour scheme together.
I liked some of the clever ideas too – using small side tables in place of bedside tables to give a cleaner look and more floor space; and using regular paint with the Difficult Surfaces primer to cover my fireplace. Smart!
The Lounge Makeover
I have a small lounge, considering the size of my house, and it’s easy for it to feel crowded. I was looking to give the room a more cohesive look – again, it’s currently a mixture of old furniture, some second hand pieces I bought just after we moved in, and a leather sofa that needs replacing.
My designer Beth came up with a really pretty scheme, with a softer wallpaper and paint combo that could be tweaked to be just paint if I didn’t want to hang wallpaper (it’s like she could see into my soul). Furniture-wise, I liked that the sofa she recommended was almost identical to the one I have (and love) and HOW cute is this chair from Made.com?
The lead time on it is ridiculous, but I’ve found something very similar at Ikea which I hope to have before Christmas.
Of the three schemes, though, this is the one I’m least likely to implement – all that white means I think it lacks the warm feeling I’m looking for. Also, I don’t want to repaint my fireplace (it’s not something the designer discussed with me) or the TV cabinet, and looking at the picture makes me realise I messed up the room dimensions – it’s tricky when you’re trying to add in alcoves and bays, which kinda sucks if you live in a Victorian house – so it’s made my room even smaller than it is in reality. Oops.
The Dining Room Makeover
Our dining room is a big source of interiors stress. Until recently, it was my office, and the priority was a big table we could work at, and my desk, with a big Mac and an even bigger ergonomic chair. Now we’ve moved into a dedicated office, the dining room feels a bit bare, and in need of love. I told my designer I wanted a new, smaller table and four chairs, some colour to warm it up, a window dressing, some fun accessories – and I only wanted to spend £900 all in.
I really love the design that Ashleigh came up with. She suggested colour blocking the shelves in the right alcove using a soft green and then painting the remaining wall in a soft grey to bring some colour into the room. A bargain wooden dining table from John Lewis costing less than £200 (which you can see in the collage at the top of this post) would add some warmth, while Eames-style chairs would keep the room looking light and airy.
Ashleigh didn’t change my layout, thinking it already works pretty well, but she did add a soft voile at the window, and found a table centrepiece that perfectly complements my existing light fitting (which I love, and which we use multiple versions of throughout the house). Big thanks also for finding these awesome storage boxes that will fit perfectly under my floating shelves – we used to have lovely baskets but they’re magnets for puppy teeth – as a fellow Westie owner, the designer felt my pain!
Honestly, I think this service is a no-brainer. I’ve already bored my family half senseless about it. Such great value for money, works brilliantly and with a bit of luck, once I’ve finished buying up all the things the designers recommended for me, I might even get over my Pinterest-envy. I make no promises about the compulsive nosiness though.