We’re excited to introduce interior design guru and influencer Helen @claytoncorner, who has kindly taken part in our latest Blinds Direct interiors interview.
Helen’s super stylish Leeds home has built a large and loyal following on Instagram, as well as earning an award nomination. Modern, monochrome and with the most attention to detail, Helen’s home blends Scandinavian style with mid-century modern accents, complete with a warm, country chic feeling.
We sat down with Helen and asked her some questions about @claytoncorner, her sources of inspiration and her next interior design plans…
How would you describe your interior design style?
Monochrome everywhere! And plenty of plants, mirrors, metallics, wood and clashing patterns. I think we’ve got quite a recognisable style now but it’s evolving all the time.
What was your first design project?
The first area we decorated was the downstairs toilet. And it’s been done several times since! I wanted something dramatic in the downstairs toilet so visitors would come out amused. The first iteration was certainly bold – I painted it navy blue and went for a train station theme with a metal sign, industrial style toilet roll holder, mirror and towel hook and some quirky accessories.
Who and what inspires you?
Instagram has given me so much inspiration! I started following @restoringlansdowne around late 2016 and loved her style and bold use of dark colours. If I was going to trust anyone to decorate my entire house changing rooms style it’d be Aileen from @visitnumber7 as she’s super stylish and always making me want to go shopping. She’s also a prolific decorator and can transform a whole room in a matter of hours, so I know she’d finish the job!
Aside from Instagram, I love to take inspiration from bars and restaurants and also love to see trends in shops and then work them into our home. For instance, when we first reserved our home we visited Redbrick Mill and it was around the time that the hairpin leg trend was beginning to take off. We realised that our old oak country style table that my father in law had passed on to us was actually worthy of a makeover, so my partner Mark gave it a new lease of life with some hairpin legs and made a bench out of the excess wood. The legs for both the table and bench were £80 in total and if feels like a brand new item of furniture.
Where do you shop for homeware?
I think I’m single handedly responsible for Homesense/TKMaxx’s profits for the past three years! It’s my favourite place for random bits and bobs, but I’ve definitely managed to rehabilitate myself since we got engaged last year and have a wedding to pay for.
I also love H&M Home, JYSK, Sostrene Grene and Iconic Lights, and I love to surprise people with supermarket bargains. Instagram is fantastic for finding out about Aldi Special Buys – I’ve got lamps, side tables, towels and kitchenware from Aldi over the last few years. When people find out I have a home Instagram account they will sometimes assume I’ve spent a fortune on individual pieces but I think it’s just how it all comes together – something can cost next to nothing but look great in a well styled room.
What are your next home plans?
We’re slowly working our way round the house, upgrading things that come as standard in a new build. These were things I didn’t even think about when we first moved in, but when you look at stuff daily, you notice the quality and practicality of it. We’re getting married next month but once that’s all over I’ll be distracting myself with bathroom upgrades – starting with the utility room and downstairs toilet.
How do you choose new window treatments?
We’ve recently got rid of our curtains in the living room and replaced them with wooden Perfect Fit blinds from Blinds Direct, which are superb as the room feels bigger and cleaner and they’re so much more practical. Our patio doors face south and the front window faces west so the sun can be unbearable on an afternoon. It’s great to have the versatility to shut one part of the sun out but still have the other blinds open.
Our house is a ‘corner’ version of a standard design so it has a lot of extra windows. It was difficult finding curtain and blind combinations to match, as several rooms have more than one window, and some of them are only 63cm wide, so it was expensive and annoying to dress them all straight away.
If you had £10,000 to spend on a piece of furniture or interior design, what would it be and why?
I don’t think I could ever spend it on one item! I’d save it for my dream extension. Not a very exciting answer – maybe I should be bold and say a gold unicorn for the living room?!
I’m getting a bit obsessed with smart tech so maybe I’d have a robotic house from the future with sliding doors and holograms.
Do you have any advice for someone considering buying a new build?
It’s easy to be bowled over by incentives and shiny show homes. My advice is to pick your plot carefully. We chose our home based on the plot, the outlook, the fact the garden is south facing and isn’t blocked to the west by another property and overlooks the public space on our development.
Also, don’t be put off too much by other people; everyone has a story about a friend of a friend who bought a new build and the roof fell off the first night/the bath fell through the floor/the front door was made of cardboard etc. People love to exaggerate and new builds generally get a lot of stick for not being robustly built. The truth is that builders HAVE to follow building regulations and be up to standard; your house will come with ten year guarantees on things like windows and the roof. Our house has been built with modern life in mind and with the most modern building techniques.
Also, I think it’s easy to add style and character to any home with decoration. Some rooms are naturally trickier than others and take a few times to get right – but be true to your own style and you’ll get there. Transforming a blank white home is daunting but so rewarding.
I’d also advise anyone to check your door locks are robust as soon as you move in and change them to anti snap locks to prevent break ins. You can do this easily as a DIY job!
Which part of your home are you most proud of?
Without a shadow of a doubt – the garden! It was a sloped square of soil when we completed and we’ve slowly shaped it into a beautiful relaxing space. My partner Mark is the most logical person I’ve ever met and has picked up so many skills as we’ve gone along. He laid our patio, built decking, planters and steps. I was responsible for fence painting (which took approx 52 years!), ordering about a hundred tile samples for step risers and also all the planting. We bought an electric rotivator for £60 from Argos which helped loads with moving earth around to level it. We also hired a cement mixer and whacker plate from our local hire shop to make laying the patio easier.
My biggest tip with a new build garden is to be very nice to any gardeners in the family, as most of our plants came from our mums! They’re both keen gardeners and have saved us a fortune by taking cuttings from their own gardens. It feels like a really personal touch too as we’ve also got plants that were originally cut from our grandparents gardens, which I love.
A huge thank you to Helen for sharing her house tips, humour and some lovely snapshots of her home. We are delighted that she and her partner chose us to provide their window treatments. Be sure to visit Helen’s Instagram account, @claytoncorner, give her a follow and let her know we sent you over!
Are you looking for a new window treatment or home accessory? Take a look at our collection of blinds, curtains and interior products at Blinds Direct.