Design Manifesto: Assessment Area 2, The Things

Take a look at what makes a home 'Plum' when it comes to the things within it, from seating and shelving to doors and lamps.

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Calathea, Plum Guide home in Kent, UK

Soft seating

Plum: Chic Mid-Century modern sofa shape in attractive green velvet 

'Plum' - a chic mid-century modern sofa

'Plum' - a chic mid-century modern sofa

Not Plum: Very generic, an Ikea-style armchair in uninspiring fabric 

Plum: Eames chair (one of the few examples of black leather seating that is appealing design-wise and the patterned ones are great too)

'Plum' - an Eames lounger chair

'Plum' - an Eames lounger chair

Not Plum: Very ugly, black leather sofa (both shape and material) – leather sofas should be avoided on the whole unless leather has character – i.e. shabby-chic, brown, worn leather 

Plum: Attractive armchair in minimal, unadorned shape, in a linen (natural material) loose cover – very relaxed and sophisticated look 

Not Plum: Ugly, dated, very 1990s shape and uninspiring fabric 

'Not Plum' - dated, 1990s-looking furniture

'Not Plum' - dated, 1990s-looking furniture

Plum: Traditional English sofa and armchair, upholstered in nice, expensive- looking fabrics 

Not Plum: Matching suites of sofas and chairs are to avoided in 95% of cases (unless white linen, minimalist look) 

Hard seating

Plum: Attractive director-style chair in good-quality brown leather and metal, nice clean lines 

Not Plum: Dodgy, generic hotel- look chairs – feel quite severe in black and design is ugly 

Plum: Hans Wegner-style ‘wishbone’ chair – class Danish style 

'Plum' - a set of Wishbone chairs

'Plum' - a set of Wishbone chairs

Not Plum: Dated and unfashionable shape – the black and mahogany combination is not attractive 

Plum: Industrial-style Xavier Pauchard-inspired metal chairs

Not Plum: Dated, high-backed chairs in cheap, shiny leather 

Plum: Classic Mid-Century modern dining chairs 

'Plum' - classic mid-century dining chairs

'Plum' - classic mid-century dining chairs

Not Plum: Tacky, chrome and black leather bar stools (bar stools should be either in natural wood or industrial metal) – this feels like a cheap 90s bar 

Shelving

Plum: Diffused shelving – i.e. spreads across whole wall as a design feature – books look very nice on coloured wall 

Not Plum: Very generic, 1990s-feeling, pine shelving unit, the contents of which are not very appealing and very haphazardly arranged 

Plum: Great example of open kitchen shelving working well – food in kilner jars, and all the things on display are visually coherent with the muted, minimalist aesthetic – i.e. no cheap plates, mugs etc 

'Plum' - thoughtfully arranged open shelving

'Plum' - thoughtfully arranged open shelving

Not Plum: Again, a very unfashionable unit, with uninspiring, commercial books (not art books etc) and lots of family photos

Plum: Industrial-inspired shelving for plants, ceramics etc – spacing of objects is well considered 

'Plum' - design-led shelving where spacing of objects is considered

'Plum' - design-led shelving where spacing of objects is considered

Not Plum: Ugly unit, filled with rather uninspiring things and also feels empty 

Plum: High wall of books as key design feature of the space which introduces extra colour to the room – a home filled with books makes it feel lived-in and indicates cultured, bookish hosts 

'Plum' - High bookshelves which add to the room's colour scheme

'Plum' - High bookshelves which add to the room's colour scheme

Not Plum: Contrived, twee arrangement on fiddly-looking unit – the objects would probably look fine if on a clean white shelf, give enough space – currently very on top of each other 

Art

Plum: Interesting (i.e. you haven’t seen the imagery a million times before) image in a good big size, simply framed and in a sophisticated colour palette that complements design of the room 

Not Plum: Awful cheesy motivational text art 

'Not Plum' – cheesy motivational wall art

'Not Plum' – cheesy motivational wall art

Plum: Bright abstract works on paper give nice pops of vibrant colour to an otherwise muted palette. They have been arranged by someone with a good eye – the spacing works well. Nice simple framing. 

'Plum' - bright, abstract works of art

'Plum' - bright, abstract works of art

Not Plum: Extremely generic ‘stock image’ style photography – anything that looks like a 1990s computer screensaver should be avoided (shows real lack of design flair/taste on part of host)

'Not Plum' - generic 'stock' image artwork on display

'Not Plum' - generic 'stock' image artwork on display

Plum: An attractive ‘cluster arrangement’ – nice mix of sizes (trick with these walls is not to have each element too small or looks twee), and coherence through the monochrome 

'Plum' - a cluster of pieces arranged tastefully on a gallery wall

'Plum' - a cluster of pieces arranged tastefully on a gallery wall

Not Plum: Twee example of a cluster-style hang – the works are too small and too tightly arranged. A cluster wall of images is often very busy in itself so on top of very fussy wallpaper is too much 

Plum: Original oil paintings, whose subject matter, colour palette, and style fit in well with the rest of the design of room 

'Plum' - an original oil painting

'Plum' - an original oil painting

Not Plum: Banksy-style graffiti artwork. Not good and almost always ruins a home’s design in one fell swoop 

Lamps

Plum: Nice chunky ceramic lamp base with attractive ikat fabric shade – casts nice cosy light 

Not Plum: Generic, chrome light fixture with white LED glare (not very cosy and not very attractive

Plum: Industrial- chic, articulated wall light with attractive, design-led shape

'Plum' - industrial looking bedside lamps

'Plum' - industrial looking bedside lamps

Not Plum: Very dated lampshade shape – shades that flick out like this should be avoided 

Plum: Industrial-inspired bedside light – feels clean and contemporary, not at all fussy

Not Plum: Again, dated lampshades that feel very generic and cheap hotel-like 

'Not Plum' - dated, cheap hotel-like bedside lamps

'Not Plum' - dated, cheap hotel-like bedside lamps

Plum: Attractive hand-blown, reclaimed green bottle lamps, pleasing proportion as a lamp and the irregularities in the shape add character and style 

Not Plum: Fiddly and dated design (something similar in a more industrial style would be fine) 

Soft furnishings

Plum: Cushions in natural materials (e.g. linen) and sophisticated palette 

'Plum' - cushions in neutral linen

'Plum' - cushions in neutral linen

Not Plum: Garish yellow sofa and clashing cushions in cheap-looking textured material

'Not Plum' - garish sofa and clashing cushions

'Not Plum' - garish sofa and clashing cushions

Plum: Bold red and white geometric rug gives an otherwise restrained room some character 

Not Plum: Cushions and carpet too matchy-matchy, and the silver and purple colour scheme not very appealing – cheap fabrics, and generic print on the carpet 

Plum: Lovely, natural-feeling indigo bedspread – looks like it’s been hand-dyed/printed 

Not Plum: Ugly print on bedspread and matching cushions and tacky sheen finish – feels very dated 

'Not Plum' - matching bedspread and cushions with a gaudy pattern and sheen finish

'Not Plum' - matching bedspread and cushions with a gaudy pattern and sheen finish

Plum: Wall hanging, bedspread, and rug all show appreciation of natural materials – coherent and unusual looking. Perhaps picked up on the host’s travels? Aspirational 

Not Plum: Ugly carpet – hard to deconstruct, just ugly.

Furniture

Plum: Attractive, nicely proportioned, rustic trestle table – good farmhouse/ industrial feel 

Not Plum: Ugly table base (both in terms of design and proportion) 

Plum: Panelled, bespoke fitted wardrobe in painted wood

'Plum' - panelled, bespoke-fitted wardrobe in sophisticated colour

'Plum' - panelled, bespoke-fitted wardrobe in sophisticated colour

Not Plum: Very dated unit and visually fussy

Plum: Minimalist, mid-century modern wardrobe

'Plum' - Mid-century modern wardrobe

'Plum' - Mid-century modern wardrobe

Not Plum: Generic, cheap-looking wardrobe with integrated mirror, feels very 1990s and Ikea-esque

Plum: Minimal side table (nice clean lines, unfussy)

Not Plum: Unfashionable shape in unfashionable dark wood

'Not Plum' - unfashionable furniture shape in unappealing dark wood

'Not Plum' - unfashionable furniture shape in unappealing dark wood

Doors

Plum: Beautifully proportioned, sturdy, good-quality, period Victorian door with attractive period handle 

Not Plum: Very generic-looking new door with oak veneer, and cheap- looking chroming handle. Proper wood doors always better than veneer things – integrity of materials etc. 

Plum: Bespoke painted timber door, very attractive period proportions and window section evokes proportions of traditional Georgian sash windows 

'Plum' - bespoke door with Georgian-style window

'Plum' - bespoke door with Georgian-style window

Not Plum: Very generic, cheap- looking wood veneer doors with generic office-style handle 

Plum: Attractively proportioned, double period door in characterful (but not garish) colour and with attractive brass ‘door furniture’ 

Not Plum: Very generic-looking door – proportions of detailing looks twee, the wood grain from wood veneer showing paintwork is not attractive, and the door furniture looks cheap

Plum: Attractive, chunky period door painted in sophisticated Farrow & Ball-esque colour that works very well against red brickwork 

'Plum' - Period door in stylish colour against red brickwork

'Plum' - Period door in stylish colour against red brickwork

Not Plum: Cheap-looking door with generic handle, ugly imitation frosted stained glass and ugly grain of veneer showing through paintwork So, now you know how we assess a home let's take a look at how we apply the Plum Test to case studies.

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