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GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR INNER STYLIST; GABRIELLE FAGAN CHECKS OUT A BOOK FULL OF INSPIRATIONAL IDEAS FOR THE HOME.

Byline: GABRIELLE FAGAN

Are you the sort of person who has the magic touch when it comes to your home? This doesn't mean you wave a wand to get rid of the mess and clutter - rather that you have the happy knack of being able to put a few unrelated objects on a shelf and make it look an eye catching arrangement.

Those little "finishing touches" can turn even an ordinary room into a show stopper.

Professional stylists use these tricks and techniques to create the enviable homes pictured in glossy magazines.

Now Julie Savill, former editor of Good Homes, is unveiling some of those secrets in her new book, Finishing Touches.

"While we might have an eye for a nice buy it's not enough to fill your home with attractive bits and pieces," she says.

"What makes the difference between clutter and a collection is the way you choose to arrange and display the items. It's knowing what will grab attention and how to give extra oomph to treasured but tiny things that, alone, would be lost and overlooked."

STYLING TIPS

You already have all the ingredients for finishing touches - bits and pieces bunged in cupboards, old picture frames, and bric-a-brac in the loft.

"Designer" touches cost only pennies. Simply add a ribbon trim, a fake flower or some pretty beads to a plain cushion, throw or curtain.

For a quick fix: A fresh throw hides a shabby sofa, a few pieces of china dress a mantel, and a montage of photos makes a wall special.

BRIGHT IDEAS

THE BIGGER PICTURE

A picture shelf gives you the flexibility to change the display as often as the mood takes you. Frames of different sizes look effective displayed together.

Show off mementoes or favourite photos - a holiday snap and some seashells from the beach - in a box frame.

Alternatively, create a striking "wall frame" for a collection of favourite pictures by using strips of dado rail to make a square. Paint the "frame" and the inside square a couple of shades darker than the wall for effect, then hang the pictures.

SOURCE: Ikea's selection of frames includes a Bas box frame, pounds 2. Woolworths' range also starts from pounds 2.

ON REFLECTION

Make an eye-catching mirror by using an old slate roofing tile sliced into four and stuck around the edges of a single bathroom mirror tile. Prop it on a mantelpiece or add a square of plywood glued to the back and small screw eyes if you want to hang it.

Or put mirrored glass into a selection of mismatched picture frames and hang a selection in a group.

SOURCE: Single slates are available at salvage yards for about pounds 1 each. Find picture frames at car boot sales or in second-hand shops.

GREAT CRATES

An old wooden crate, weathered and worn from years of use, makes an ideal container for an indoor display of herbs or aromatic plants.

Line it with black polythene, pack the still-potted plants inside, then surround with moss. Lavender or geraniums are especially suitable. Avoid putting the box on varnished surfaces in case of water damage.

SOURCE: Check out wine wholesalers or garden centres for crates.

HANDLE WITH FLAIR

Stir in some style to your kitchen by using ordinary wooden spoons as cupboard handles.

Use long screws, and screw lightly into the spoon to leave plenty of free space to get a good grip on the handle. Varnish or seal handles with olive oil.

SOURCE: Collect interesting shaped spoons from charity shops or fairs or use Bombay Duck's excellent range of hooks and handles, which includes ones shaped like sea shells, leaves or dog bones. Priced from pounds 2.50. 020 8749 3000/ bombayduck.co.uk

PRAM POWER

First impressions of your home are important, so give your front garden a wow factor.

Unusual containers brimming with summer plants are show-stoppers, and none more so than a traditional old pram, full size or a toy one, which could be filled with petunias or daisies.

Line the pram with black plastic, use a water retaining compost and plant into it or pop in bedding plants still in their pots. Geraniums, pelargoniums and pansies would be ideal.

SOURCE: Car boot sales, charity shops or auctions.

UNLOCK YOUR STYLE

Collections of antique objects, such as old keys, hand mirrors or hats, make an eye-catching display.

Hang a collection of keys on a wall - paint a pale stripe or panel on the wall and arrange the keys within, to give them prominence.

SOURCE: Check newspapers for details of car boot sales or auctions.

SPELL IT OUT

Oversized letters in gold or silver are a popular mantelpiece decoration, but there are other ways to use them.

Spell out words like "Splash" for a bathroom and nail the letters to a wall, or use initials for a child's door.

SOURCE: Linda Barker's homeware collection includes gold or silver letters, priced from pounds 7.50. 0870 242 0651/reallylindabarker.co.uk

Re homeware company has weighted 3D letters made of cardboard which can be painted or left natural, and used as wall decoration, or for bookends or doorstops. Letters cost pounds 11 each. 01434 634 567/re-foundobjects.com

ADD SOME SPARKLE

Fairy lights are for life, not just for Christmas. They have a magical effect so find a place to enjoy them year-round. Loop around a mirror, over a bed head, or round a picture. Alternatively, make a "light board" by taking a piece of 9mm MDF and drill a grid of holes just large enough to poke one of the bulbs through.

Sand, prime and paint the board with emulsion then pop the lights through the holes from the back, holding them in place with pieces of electrical tape.

Fix a screw eye to each side at the back for picture wire and hang the panel on the wall.

SOURCE: Woolworths has strings of lights for use indoor and out, and a "light curtain" with six ropes of coloured lights, pounds 9.99. 0870 333 7111/woolworths.co.uk

COLOUR UP

Neutral schemes may be fashionable but splashes of colour will stop rooms looking bland and boring. Add cushions, throws and bright lamps for the perfect finishing touch.

SOURCE: A new online company, Samuel Home has a brilliant collection of accessories including the Modern Twist Chocolate and Orange range. Cushions from pounds 15, candles from pounds 9 and a bedspread, pounds 110. samuelhome.com

101 FINISHING TOUCHESIS PUBLISHED BY BBC BOOKS, PRICED pounds 4.99. AVAILABLE N OW.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 14, 2006
Words:1087
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