To increase security, speed and for a better experience when using our website, we recommend upgrading your browser

See all results
Stories / 10-question Q&A with our interior designer

Log in

Log in

View password

Don’t have an account? Create one now to save your favourite homes, and save and share your own home designs from our configurator. It only takes one minute.

Sign me up!

Forget your password?

Forgot password

Forgot password

Enter your email address and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Create an account

Create an account

With your own account you can save your favourite homes, and save and share your own home designs from our configurator.
View password

Choose your style

loading

Make an enquiry

Make an enquiry

Please enter your details below and we’ll be in touch. We’ll try calling you first and then drop you an email. If your enquiry is urgent call us on 0161 839 2999.

Keeping in touch *

We'd like to send you details on events, news and homes you might be interested in from House by Urban Splash and our partners. We promise not to spam you. Opt-in to keep in the loop.

For more information, including how we use your personal details, please see our Privacy Policy.

Request brochure

Request brochure

Simply enter your details below and we’ll send you a brochure in the post.

Keeping in touch *

We'd like to send you details on events, news and homes you might be interested in from House by Urban Splash and our partners. We promise not to spam you. Opt-in to keep in the loop.

For more information, including how we use your personal details, please see our Privacy Policy.

Get on the list

Get on the list

Blog by Rachel Thomas

10-question Q&A with our interior designer

14 September 2021

Rachel Thomas answers your biggest interior design questions for 2021

In a recent interactive story on our @housebyurbansplash Instagram page, we asked our followers to send in questions for our interior designer, Rachel Thomas.

Rachel is the experienced, creative professional behind the looks of many of our House by Urban Splash and Urban Splash properties.

In our new Q&A feature, #AskRachel, your biggest interior design questions will be answered.

For the very first edition, Rachel tackled 10 of your questions on topics ranging from clever storage solutions to incorporating Japandi styles.

Our interior designer, Rachel Thomas, has answered 10 of your biggest interior design questions

01 — Which colour palettes are trending right now?

When it comes to trends, I don’t think there’s much place for them in the home.

Look to them for inspiration, yes, but focus more on making your home a place that you love to spend time in.

If you like maximalism – go for maximalism. If you want a pink wall – paint a pink wall. If yellow makes you happy – choose yellow.

Don’t worry about whether the styles or colours you choose are on trend or not.

Your home is your real life haven – not a square on somebody’s Instagram feed.

Go for whatever brings you joy!

Don't just focus on the walls, you can brighten up a rented property with colourful soft furnishings

02 — How can I decorate the walls of a rented property?

First and foremost, talk to your landlord. Never, ever, decorate a rented property without speaking to them first – we don’t want you to lose your deposit!

If your landlord doesn’t allow painting, there’s plenty of temporary solutions you can explore to make your rented property feel more like a home.

Vinyl coverings are great option. You can get buy them from shops including Manchester-based Jes Rose. They can be added to walls, bathroom tiles, and kitchen surfaces to brighten them up – and they can be removed as and when you’re ready to move out.

If you want to hang artwork or photographs on your wall without causing damage, you can also use things like Command Strips too.

And remember, you don’t have to just focus on the walls to add character and colour to your rented space – you could always use your soft furnishings like cushions and duvet colours.

For more inspiration, there’s a really good Instagram page called @howirent_, set up by home blogger Medina of @grillodesigns. She’s big on interior design and finding innovative ways to spruce up rented spaces.

03 — Best places to shop for interiors in Manchester?

Manchester is home to some fantastic home shops.

We’ve purchased items for the New Islington show home from Form Lifestyle Store in the Northern Quarter before. It’s a great brand that celebrates independent makers and mindfully-made goods.

Some other local options are Deadstock General Store, Oklahoma MCR, and Object Style.

We used the Arnie.M. modular workspace in one of our bedrooms inside the New Islington show home

04 — How can you create a home office in a dining room alcove?

In the New Islington show home, we featured the Arnie.M. – a beautiful, modular workspace, made in Manchester.

It would be great for a flexible dining room/home office set up as the work top neatly folds away so you can easily hide your working area when it’s time for dinner.

05 — How do I upcycle budget furniture to make it look more expensive?

I’m really into upcycling furniture, I take inspiration from Instagram ‘upcyclers’.

Instagram account @_homeofshade is a great page to visit.

It’s run by Shade Shannon – she does loads of DIY projects and has her own YouTube channel too. We also love @ikeahackersofficial for ideas on how to personalise that Kallax unit we know you all have in your spare room.

Rachel is behind the look of many of our House by Urban Splash properties – including this one, the show home at Port Loop, Birmingham

06 — Any clever storage tips for small rooms?

A great tip is to find furniture with built-in storage.

In the bedroom, look for beds with underbed storage or even with storage space in the headboard.

If you’ve already got your main pieces of furniture, stacking crates are ideal storage solutions as they look neat and tidy, are available to suit every budget, and they can also bring a bit of colour to your room too.

If you want to make a room feel lighter, review how you dress your windows – or if you even need to dress them at all

07 — What’s the best way to make a room feel lighter?

If you’re looking to redecorate, opt for a lighter colour and look for light reflective paint.

Include a mirror as a feature in the room (if possible, near or facing a window so it will reflect the light back in the room).

Think about how and if you even need to dress your windows.

Often curtains and blinds can impede on the window space, but if you do need them for privacy, use a lighter or translucent fabric like a voile.

Oh, and clean your windows – inside and out!

Brighten up your bathroom with playful, bold accessories

08 — What’s the best way to use bold colours in the bathroom?

The bathroom is the perfect place to go crazy with colour.

You can put fun, coloured flooring down (we’ve done this in some of our show homes) or go really bold with your accessories – things like towels, shower curtains, bathmats, rubber ducks!

Over in New Islington, we brightened up the previously monochrome bathroom with some vibrant pink and red accessories from donnawilson.com.

Incorporate Japandi styles into your home using Lick paints Japandi paint colour palette

09 — How do you do I decorate in a Japandi style?

This trend mixes the minimalism of Japanese design with the refined style of Scandinavian design.

Think clean lines, natural wood, and material finishes, paired with warm muted tones and a clutter-free interior.

Paint brand Lick has a Japandi colour palette which is great place to start for colour inspo for the walls.

Bring some nature into your space with plants or dried grasses and opt for ornaments with a matt rather than a glazed finish.

10 — Where’s the best place to buy inexpensive accessories?

One of my favourite places to shop for home accessories at the moment is JYSK.

It’s like the middle aisle of Aldi meets IKEA.

You can achieve some really expensive-looking spaces in your home with items from places like Dunelm, Home Sense, TK Maxx, and H&M Home – and don’t underestimate the home aisle of your local supermarket too.

Remember, an item may appear cheap when stacked on the shelves in budget shops, but it can look completely different when you find the right spot for it in your home.

Sign up to our newsletter

Want to be kept in the loop about everything going on at House? Then sign up for our newsletter.

Our monthly news round-up with the latest and freshest news on property development, place-making, new homes, architecture and design, events and careers sent straight to your inbox.

Looking for something else?