uniquely curating your life

How to get the Harp Cottage Look workshop


Stone Cottage - Harp Cottage interior - landing spot, raw linen 1930s bedroom chair, painted floorboards

Last Saturday was a little bit different than normal at Harp Cottage.  Instead of guests staying for the weekend relaxing and enjoying the decor and scenery, we ran a workshop on ‘How to get the Harp Cottage look’ so everyone can create their own personal curated considered space.  It was a real treat for me to spend time in a home that I had created and I’m happy to report it is as restful and serene as everyone says!

I was so nervous as I haven’t ran a workshop for a long time and the last one was a week long one for art students looking at how to create site responsive art work in the environment at the National Trust property Croft Castle in Herefordshire!  So slightly different…however, I still approach creating a room in the same way as an installation – as a whole, looking at all the elements and making sure that each part is having the right conversation with everyone else.  No loud shouting going on over here!

The Workshop

As we were a small group – any bigger and I get stressed as I feel I can’t give enough to each person and help them as much as I can in a few short hours – we were able to chat and find out what everyone was there for and then spend time addressing their own personal needs.  I much prefer this way as it is more like a consultation, the conversation is always centred on the problem in front of us instead of generic themes.  But generally we looked at the same issues that come up time and again when looking at creating a calm interior.

So how do I create a calm space?

The discussion throughout the day kept coming back to one thing; Focus.  This is the hardest part of creating a calm space.

There are key elements I always ask my clients –

1. What do you want to use the room for?

2. What do you actually want from the room?  Often different from number 1!

3. How can you combine these?  Can you combine them?

4. Think about practicality (boring but essential), will that open shelf look in the hallway work with three children flinging boots, bags, sweet wrappers etc onto it?

Once you have considered the boring but essential bits you can then move onto the more exciting part.


Inspirational sources, interiors books

What inspires you?

Everyone at the workshop left with a notebook/scrapbook and folder to start their own ‘curating’ – somewhere to store thoughts and images to help them always come back to their central aim of how they want the space to look.  I feel this is essential to pinning down exactly what you want and so much fun!  This can be down on Pinterest just as easily and/or combined with your own analogue images and musings.  Just create a board for that specific space and start to add to it but everytime you add to your folders ask yourself specific questions –

1. What do I like about it?

2. Why do I like it?

3. Does it fit with the mood I want to create? – This the hardest question when you start out.

4. What is it adding to the space?

5. What impression do I want to create with the space, does it work with that?


What else to consider?

Alongside these questions, you need to keep reminding yourself, it’s not just what you like but what will work in this room and achieve the overall look you’re aiming at.


  1. What tonal effect do you want the room to have?
  2. Do you want to use mostly colour or pattern or both to achieve this?
  3. Do my saved moodboard images support the idea or am I drawn to something different?
  4. Do all my colours, wallpapers, fabric size have the same tonal base?

Keep looking at all your inspiration sources until you really feel that you have achieved the best look for that room.  Keep going until you’re really happy with the look you’ve pulled together.

Putting it all together

Now that you have found what you want to chieve, you should just have a single mood board page that alludes to every element of the design.

Then live with it – put it up somewhere you will see it all the time (in that room if you’re already living there) especially the paint colours you’ve chosen.  Look at it during the day – when the light is good and on a dark day.  Does it still work.  If it doesn’t, just keep reviewing it and changing it.  This fine tuning is what will really pull the focus together.


Then the search begins!  You can shop, upcycle, until your heart’s content.  Happy designing – any questions, comments please just ask.


Harp Cottage mood board- pale muted, natural tones


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