The Wood Window Alliance’s ambassador is the lovely Pearl Lowe, an English fashion and textiles designer, who doesn’t like PVCu windows and is encouraging home owners to choose wood as the most aesthetically pleasing and sustainable material for windows and doors. The Alliance asked Pearl a few questions about her inspirations in terms of interior design, and her thoughts on wood windows.
Can you tell us about how you got into interior design?
It was years ago when we started buying and selling houses in London. We’d often have to do them up to either sell on or just so we could live in them ourselves, so I gained a lot of experience in interior design through trial and error.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently interior designing a house in Somerset and two in London, with possibly two more in the pipeline. I’m also working as an ambassador for the Wood Window Alliance to encourage more people to choose wood windows to enhance their home, which I’m very excited about. I’m a huge fan of wood – I recently finished working on a gorgeous log cabin, which of course was all made of wood and looked wonderful, I’m very proud of it.
Can you tell us a bit about your home – what period/style is it? What are your biggest inspirations in terms of interior design?
My home is a 1800s Georgian house. It’s quite unusual as it has all sorts of gold cornicing and is very decorative.
It’s hard to narrow down my inspirations as there’s so much that I love, but my absolute favourite era is the twenties, I love art deco furniture. I also like the ‘boudoir’ style and tend to throw in a lot of lace when I’m decorating. In terms or colour I like pastels – so pinks, whites and pale greens.
What’s your favourite feature about your home?
I have a Victorian conservatory that has all of the original black and white tiles on the floor and it has glass everywhere. I’ve styled it with lots of fringe lamps and piano shawls and I love being in there, the light comes through the glass beautifully.
What are your thoughts on wood windows vs uPVC?
There is just no comparison! Whenever I have worked on a house that has uPVC windows, one of the first things I do is to change the whole lot to wood. I really love wood and it upsets me when I see a house that has had the original wooden windows removed. Windows play such an important role in the home and not just with regards to the look – double glazed wooden windows also add warmth so they are definitely the way to go.
How do you like to dress your windows?
I have always loved lace curtains but I’m also really into linen curtains at the moment. Whatever fabric you choose, the key is not to overdress the windows. I love wooden shutters as they really compliment wood windows, and you can paint them to match the colour scheme in your home too, which always looks great.
What are your tips for maximising light in the home?
If you want to lighten up a room then keep it as white as possible. It can easily be done by getting pale linen curtains, white floorboards and adding skylights which will also help to lift the space. That being said, I do love dark so sometimes if you can’t change a dark room then make it a feature. Add dark or floral wallpaper and keep it rich with velvet curtains or fringe lamps.
What design trends do you think will be the most popular for 2016?
I think prints are coming back, especially in cushions, curtains and bed spreads. There are lots of floral prints and bright eclectic colours around and it seems that people are definitely more willing to experiment with bold, rich colours. One of my current favourite trends is duo colour wood windows and I always use a beautiful spring blue colour as it looks wonderful from the outside. I recently worked on a house once where the client didn’t like the plain white windows, so we painted them an aqua blue and added wooden shutters and it looked fantastic, very French.
Have you got any styling tips for making a small space look bigger?
Painting a wall white gives a room the feeling of being bigger as does keeping the décor as minimal as possible, because adding furniture can clutter a room and make it look smaller. Mirrors always work – I’m really into Venetian mirrors at the moment. They can be expensive but you can get them from flea markets for a more reasonable price.
Can you recommend any low costs design tips that make a big difference to the look and feel of a room?
I always do everything on a budget. EBay is great for lower cost bits & pieces. Painting can also make such a big difference to a room, as can upholstering furniture. You would be surprised by how lovely something can look with just an extra piece of material!
What aspects about the exterior of a house do you think matter the most?
It’s really important to make sure the property is well painted and that all the guttering is perfect. Windows are crucial and should be wood-framed, well looked after and clean. Also make sure colours are combined – for example, I recently saw a house that was painted pink with grey window frames and it looked lovely.
What are your interior design no-no’s? Have you ever seen anything really terrible?
I am not a fan of carpet as I just love the look of bare floorboards. Curtains that don’t fit properly also drive me mad and so do dead plants – throw them away!
The Wood Window Alliance was set up in 2007 with one objective: to increase timber’s share of the windows market. We’re run by our members, for our members, ably supported by the BWF. So, if you want to be at the heart of the industry’s future, to get things done, make your voice heard, learn from your colleagues and maybe even increase your company’s market share, membership of the Wood Window Alliance will be the best investment you will ever make.