Go continental - chic and casual living spaces

The continental style looks glamorous but it doesn't have to be untouchable. There is an element of luxury but it can be more casual than opulent and grandeur. We are not trying to replicate the homes of the royals - we just want all of the beauty but in an understated way that is more homely than stuffy. Continental can be chic too when you mix it in with some contemporary styles - you will be surprised how well the old looks alongside fresher pieces. We are taking a look at living spaces and how you can go continental with a chic and casual approach.
  • In the living room you could transform an otherwise contemporary design into a more traditional one by paying attention to the shape of your main feature. This could be the sofa that swaps clean lines with curved backs, buttoned detail, castor feet and scrolled arms. Don't forget the comeback trend of using metallics which will compliment both continental and contemporary styles - this can be done in decorative pieces such as vases or lighting.
  • In the bedroom you can achieve all three 'C's (continental, chic and casual if you had forgotten!) with a continental style sleigh bed which will always be a classic and offers comfortable super king sized bedding. On the walls, bring in one of the latest trends with sheer wallpapers baring a large floral print and/or a metallic print against a neutral shade.
  • Wood such as oak is very traditional for kitchens and used wisely it can also look very modern. The way to do this is by using free-standing units as opposed to fitted. Dress it up with more continental accessories and antique finds - blue and white china or old crockery will also give a very lived-in and casual atmosphere.
  • Any room that is absent of a more traditional look can be given a quick makeover with period style wallpaper. If you are afraid to go all around the room then choose one wall and have it as your focal point. Wallpaper is really on trend this year but if you want to achieve a more continental space you have to look out for those that have a print of stylised flowers or gardens, embossed wallpaper or designs inspired by William Morris.
  • If you look back to the Georgian era you will see how their use of colour was anything but shy. Preferred colours included rich burgundy, sage greens and a grey-blue - quite dark but in that sense they were very cosy to live with. You can bring it forward and make it more modern by using the colours alongside lots of white and using it sparingly.
  • Cheap Venetian blinds are a casual and contemporary alternative to ready made curtains in the traditional styled home. Look for those with classic stripes, floral design or in colours to match the rest of your interior.

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