Margot Paton: Interior Design Expert

ask the expert - chelsea mclaine banner

Your interior design questions answered


Q: We have a great little study in the house and we’d like to give it the look and feel of a bygone era. We want lots of leather furniture and a leather topped desk and would love the walls covered in leather too but, wearing our sensible heads, question the functionality. Any suggestions?

We’re working with an amazing new speciality wallpaper supplier called Phillip Jeffries, based in America. We particularly have fallen in love with their vinyl collections – giving clients the opportunities to have wallcoverings with all the aesthetic benefits of ‘fabrics’, ‘natural products’ and ‘textures’ such as silks, wood, mirror, bamboo, linen etc but with all the functionality benefits of vinyl. The company talks about how they’ve merged nature’s beauty with ‘the durability and technology of performance wallcoverings’. We reckon they’ve hit the bullseye. Our photo shows the leather looks that are available. So in effect you can have that striking leather effect but be able to look after it well as it has all the attributes of a vinyl covering.

Q: To frame or not to frame. We’ve moved house and we feel our old collection of artwork doesn’t work as it’s all been framed in black and some now is just too heavy looking for a couple of the rooms. What are your thoughts on framing?

Changing the frames can bring you a quick, effective and eye-catching makeover to any room. We do like the idea of different types of framing in a single room. It can deliver a really dramatic effect and minimises that overly ‘done’ look. Monochrome frames en masse will work but some complementing colours and even textures – carved, embossed or gilded – will enhance the overall effect. Hark back to the Victorian days and a room would often have a pot-pourri of art styles as well as framing and the impact could be impressive.

Q: We struggle with colour choices and are about to redecorate our master bedroom. How do designers get inspired on the colour front?

As designers, our team and I are constantly looking for colour inspiration. Mother Nature is a great source and we love seeing colours that complement each other well.  Check out the colour experts at Pantone Colour Institute who this year – for the first time – have named two shades as their ‘colour of the year’. They’ve opted for what they call Rose Quartz (labelled as a ‘warmer embracing rose tone’) and Serenity (described as a ‘cooler, tranquil blue’). Together, say Pantone, the colours reflect ‘connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace’. Check for more info’ and inspiration.

Q: We’ve a draughty front door and I’m planning ahead. I want some sort of curtain that will look fabulous and double as a draught excluder. What advice can you share please?

We recently worked on a project where the client needed much the same – but the ‘coverup’ was selected as the door in question wasn’t the prettiest.  We used a very generous width of Jim Thompson fabric and had it lined and interlined to add to the volume effect – and, of course, this process also enhances the insulation benefits you crave. We then fixed the curtain to the ceiling above the door via the excellent Silent Gliss track system. The effect, as the photo shows, is pretty impressive and easy to open and close as necessary especially if it’s a main entrance.

For interior inspiration and further information visit Chelsea Mclaine’s website at