Amanda Hanley by Design |  Interiors, kitchens, furniture and fabric | Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire
01993 822 385 | M 07976 353 996 |   

Style Counsel Style Counsel Style Counsel Style Counsel

Style Counsel

Fancy redecorating your home with beautiful Continental furniture? Go straight to the source: Cotswolds interior designer Amanda Hanley gives you the inside line on buying trips to Europe.

Ever wondered how designers and decorators can pull original-looking projects together so quickly' It's because they've spent months (or even years, as I have) tracking down exclusive suppliers and scouring markets across Europe for all those covetable vintage-style pieces and quality reproductions: it's almost impossible to do this yourself unless you have limitless time and resources. Buying direct from the source rather than a third-party boutique you can save time, and money, but unless you're an industry insider, it can be hard to access the best showrooms and dealers.

On my frequent buying trips to France and Belgium I've developed a unique rapport with some of the Continent's foremost furniture suppliers. One of my personal favourites supplies London dealers and some of the bigger department stores with a fabulous selection of wonderful European furniture and objets. They're based in the middle of the Flemish countryside, in a vast purpose-built warehouse filled with stunning room sets, vintage finds, retro lighting and stylish inspiration.
Among the thousands of individual items, pretty Gustavian dressers sit beside washed-oak dining tables; baskets overflow with quirky ornaments; dramatic chandeliers throw light on butter-soft leather sofas and linen-covered armchairs, everywhere you look there's something desirable. I visit to get ideas, to check out the latest interiors collections and source special pieces for clients; and, since I go regularly, I often invite clients to join me.

There are so many ways to plan your own itinerary, but on my escorted visits, we tend to go via Eurostar, this is the only outlay, as a Mercedes transfer is arranged from the station to the showroom at the other end; some couples opt to make a weekend of it, flying in and perhaps overnighting in Bruges. I love these trips, and so do my clients: we'll spend a few hours browsing the maze of furniture and home accessories, have a relaxed lunch, and then map out which pieces will work together in your home.
If you're undertaking a big refurbishment, it's a good idea to bring your architect's plans along; I can help you refine your shopping list, make sure the larger items are going to work in the spaces for which you need them, and provide the expert advice to tie the whole look together. I'll also manage the ordering, oversee safe delivery to my warehouse, and then come to your home to unwrap, check and position all your beautiful new furniture with you. The whole trip is huge fun and inspiring, and you'll get a unique inside perspective, I don't charge for my time, either. Best of all, You'll have a home full of original, uplifting new pieces that will give you pleasure for years to come.

Q I want to update my home interior with new furniture but I'm not sure where to begin ? and I'm worried about choosing pieces that might date. Advice -
A Pale woods, off-whites and creams are current trends that will never go out of fashion, so they're a fantastic way to keep your interiors looking stylish, long-term. Invest in a few larger pieces in neutral shades and classic shapes (Scandinavian, Flemish and French furniture is timeless), and set them against strong natural flooring or neutral carpets Then you can freshen things up seasonally with one or two new touches a picture, some new fabrics, a colourful rug or stool. Even something as simple as a bunch of flowers can update the look and give your home contemporary appeal, year on year.

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