Interior design specialist Linda Barker’s passion for design is reflected in the inspirational finishing touches that she applies to every project. Linda is a well-known face on the nation’s TV screens, but she is constantly creating off-screen too. Writing design books, running her online interiors business, and proudly working as the Creative Director of Wren Kitchens, to name but a few…
The collaboration between Linda and Wren began in 2012, when the two forces met in a flooded house in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Wren Kitchens donated a kitchen to a family who had been left devastated by freak weather, and the two came to realise that they shared the same family values. Work began on an exclusive, contemporary kitchen collection, aptly named after design specialist Linda Barker, providing British consumers with the biggest choice of kitchen door styles and colours in the UK. The Linda Barker collection launched at the end of 2013 and has grown with the company of the last few years. There are eight door styles and 40 shades to pick from – chosen exclusively by Linda herself – each available in a gloss, eggshell or matt finish. Wren proudly boasts 54 showrooms nationwide, and 2016 is set to see that number improve further. Linda’s superb Wren Kitchens collection can be seen here: http://www.wrenkitchens.com.
Home UK Magazine caught up with Linda Barker to talk about key interior trends for the season and top tips for improving your home.
What are the three key interiors trends this season?
I am particularly liking the soft pastel colour palette for 2016. For a while I've been watching the nude, soft pinky tones used throughout the fashion industry and its wonderful to see the dusky calamine colour make it to interiors. I love it as an eggshell finish on a painted wall, as an upholstery fabric on feature chairs and curtains and I can't wait to work with the colour as a kitchen colour – on an island unit perhaps. In my collection for Wren Kitchens, I think that satin rose and mellow blush, are similar colour choices.
Geometric patterns are full throttle this year. I love the 20x20cm tiles as kitchen splash backs as well as for memorable kitchen and bathroom floors.
Soft metallic surfaces in brass or copper bring a subtle glamour to kitchens and bathrooms. Aged metal splashbacks are beautiful and don't require endless hours of polishing and keeping clean, and brass or copper handles will instantly revive a tired colour scheme and rev up a plain white kitchen. Having said that, if I were planning a kitchen from scratch I'd use mid grey kitchen cupboard fronts with generous quantities of copper. Let's keep the momentum moving forward, towards finding alternatives for knocking the ubiquitous white kitchen off top billing.
What are the three best ways to improve your home on a budget?
1. ORGANISE your possessions. A spring clean can be effective at any time in the year.
2. LIGHT will improve any room scheme – dimming existing lights or adding additional layers of light
3. COLOUR, for unifying a house scheme, making a focal point or creating zones within a space. Paint will always have instant impact and is inexpensive to do.
What are you three design tips for smaller kitchens; how can you make the most of the available space?
1. Even if the space is limited, don't over-crowd the kitchen. The space you leave behind is often as important as the space you choose to fill with units.
2. It's a myth in my mind that white units are best in small spaces. A glossy graphite grey kitchen will also reflect back light and improve a small space.
3. Aim to position a perching space for a couple of bar stools no matter how restricted the space – kitchens should always be sociable spaces which allow more than just cooking to take place.
Where do you take your personal inspiration from?
I learn a lot from being around or talking to other designers. Being on a judging panel recently with Johnny Grey for example, was both entertaining and insightful to the world of kitchens. I love online research, Pinterest can be a valuable source of ideas, and, I keep my design antennae switched on at all times, in a bar or a restaurant I'm always working out why a space works well and why people want to spend time there.
What are three simple things people can do to improve their kitchens?
1. Paint out-of-date tiles; it's amazing how by changing only one thing, it can totally revive a tired looking kitchen. Although painting the tiles rather than replacing them isn't as robust or as long lasting, it's a great stop-gap until you can afford the real thing.
2. Clear the surfaces and take unused stuff to the charity shop. A streamlined approach is always the best as far as kitchens go.
3. Grow generous pots of fresh herbs in long purpose built kitchen planters, fresh basil, coriander, mint and chives etc. will look and smell lovely as well as providing healthy additions for your salads and suppers.
Are there any other tips you would offer the budding interior designer?
When you are next in a bar that's buzzing – look around you to see what it is about the space that makes everyone so vibrant, happy and communicative. I can bet you all you like it's down to good design.