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Mida's touch; NAN ENSOR meets the woman whose golden touch put the sparkle into the showhome at the Ideal Home Show.

WHEN people plan to give their des res some new designer decor, one of the best ways to source ideas and see the latest trends is to visit a showhouse.

And at this year's Ideal Home Show in Glasgow, Persimmon Homes really put on a stunning display of what's new in colours, textures and gadgets.

From the massive kitchen to the smallest bedroom, every room in the showhouse was filled with the latest fashions in home furnishings.

But what really made this showhome so attractive to the queues of visitors was that designer Mida George of HQC in Glasgow also showed how to create a high fashion look on an affordably low budget.

Mida said: "It's easy to design a dazzling showhouse using all the latest designer wallcoverings and fabrics.

"But although we all like to dream about what we'd do if we came into a fortune, there's not much fun touring round a house looking at things you know you can't afford."

Mida's brief from Persimmon sales director Patsy McLaren was to decorate a showhouse with things that didn't come with a crippling price tag, and the designer really pulled out all the stops, producing some fabulously chic ideas on the cheap.

She added: "One of my favourite things is the border in the hall. I've been inundated with calls from people who want to copy the idea, which is really nice. It cost next-to-nothing to do. All I did was stick up a collage of dried leaves, which were just pounds 1.35 from the Glasgow Flower Market for a big bag of about 100 leaves.

"I used a spirit level to chalk off a straight line for the border, about one foot down from the ceiling, then lightly sprayed the back of the leaves with adhesive and pressed them into place.

"It couldn't be simpler. For more impact, you could have a whole forest of leaves tumbling down the wall. They'd also look brilliant running down a staircase wall."

Paint effects are another great way to give your decor that designer look on the cheap.

Mida said: "If there's a pattern in a fabric you really like but you can't afford the matching wallpaper, it's quite easy to make a stencil and paint your own copy of the design round the walls.

"The easiest way to do this is to buy a sheet of mylar - a transparent stencil paper - then put a piece of glass over the fabric to protect it, lay the mylar on top, and cut round the pattern with a craft knife or a heat pen."

Other top tricks of the trade are to avoid too many heavily-patterned fabrics and fussy curtain treatments.

Mida explained: "These days, there are so many really stylish curtain poles, finials and tiebacks around that the cheapest readymade tab-top calico curtains can be made to look really stylish and expensive.

"And it's simple to dress up your drapes and give them an individual look. In one of the showhome bedrooms I used a lovely touchy-feely material for the curtains called Loopy Jute.

"It's by Richard Barrie, and is decorated with pebbles, but you could get the same type of designer effect for a lot less money by stitching big natural stone buttons on to ordinary hessian curtains."

You can also use buttons to make your own unique works of art, Mida told us, adding: "In the same bedroom with the pebble curtains, the walls are just painted with a natural eggshell, so I made a series of display prints to hang round the room.

"To make these, I bought some lovely textured hand-woven paper and just stuck some lovely big buttons I bought in John Lewis on to this.

"Postcards and photographs can also look really good when they're framed and grouped together. The important thing is to get the colours and textures right to complement the rest of the room."

Another trick of the trade to make a small room look more spacious is to hang striped wallpaper on its side so that the stripes run round the walls horizontally instead of vertically.

And, says Mida, it pays to plan ahead when you're planning to redecorate. Don't waste money on things you're likely to get fed up with in a few months.

"If you stick to neutral colours for the major purchases it's easy to ring the changes with a couple of accessories.

"There's an incredible range of colours and textures around, from feathery lamps to fun fur cushions

"And if you want to put on a new floor show and fancy wood laminate, rather than buying the tongue-and-groove boards that have to be glued down, there's a product called Uniclic from Hercules that's worth checking out.

"It just clicks together and you get a guarantee that you can lift and re-lay it at least three times.

"So if you move house, or want to change the wood laminate from the kitchen to a bedroom, it's no problem."

Of course, it's not always easy to track down these wonderful money-saving products - but that's where showhomes come in, said Mida.

"If visitors see something they like, Persimmon Homes and all the other new home builders are always happy to supply details of the designer or the supplier," she said.

"And now with the Internet, practically everything, such as the Uniclic flooring, is just a click away."

Even if you missed the Ideal Home Show, you don't have to miss out on a tour of this stylish showhouse.

Persimmon Homes were so pleased with the response to Mida's designs that they're going to duplicate the showhome at their new development in Penicuick. And if that's too far to travel, Persimmon now have a grand total of 45 developments across Scotland, building a wide range of homes from apartments to bungalows, and from two-bedroom terraced houses to luxury five-bedroom detached villas. For details of your nearest site, call the Persimmon 24-hour hotline on 0645 101011.

Mida George can be contacted at HQC on 0141 226 2442.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Ensor, Nan
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 3, 2000
Words:1005
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