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Join me here in explorations of the places and people who inspire my passion for interiors. I’m always on the hunt for outstanding design, ancient, modern, natural and crafted.





March 14th, 2017


London Design Week 2017: We’re talking Texture, Tweed, Spring Greens, Marbling and all things Exotic

Spring has just about sprung, London Design Week is in full swing, so we started the week with a visit to the Design Centre in Chelsea Harbour to see what the new season has in store.

London Design Week Spring 2017

London Design Week 2017

There’s a TEXTURE takeover…

“Texture” is huge this season and is being used across a wide range of products from fabrics to ironmongery. We love it, as it’s seeing the re-introduction of a range of muted, natural colours allowing the texture to do the talking. The new range from Larsen below does exactly this.

Lighting is also embracing the texture trend. Many pieces in the new collection from Porta Romana take inspiration from the cratered textures of the moon.

We also love NATECRU! This term apparently combines the two words: “naturel” and “ecru” and it’s the new Pierre Frey collection of various textures using natural fibres only and just a few neutral colourways. Hemp, linen, wool, cotton, silk, and cashmere are all embellished by the quality of the yarns, the weave and the finish.

From top left: New Collection from LARSEN; Lighting by PORTA ROMANA; PIERRE FREY new NATECRU collection of neutrals and textures

From top left: New textural collection from LARSEN; Lighting by PORTA ROMANA; PIERRE FREY new NATECRU collection of neutrals and textures

With texture comes a very modern TWEED…

Tweed is no longer conjuring up images of traditional country houses… it’s been reinvented in an array of colourful and interesting weaves, many of which would look equally at home made up for London Fashion Week. Manuel Canovas has taken its trademark colour palette of bright orange, pink, yellow, turquoise and applied it to this fun new range of tweeds and textures.

TEXTURE continued

New brightly coloured tweeds from Manuel Canovas; textured Coco Shell tiles from Elits; lighting from Remains

… and these unusual Coco Shell tiles

… which are both unusual and striking from Elitis. We spotted them in the Abbott and Boyd Showroom, beautifully made and in any colour you could imagine. The potential range of applications is huge, we’re thinking bathrooms, table top etc.

Spring Greens

With the Pantone Colour of the Year being “Greenery” there’s a lot of it about, in every shape and form. Our favourite this season is the collection from Abbott and Boyd, it’s easy on the eye, we love the patterns with an almost ethnic feel and the lack of palm-trees! The collection also comes in monochrome.

Pantone colour of the year Greenery at Abbott and Boyd, London Design Week 2017

“Spring green” collection from Abbott and Boyd at London Design Week 2017

Marbling

Marbling continues its renaissance and is working well in lighting design as well as on wallpapers and fabrics. These marbled shades at Porta Romana caught our eye, as did this “Italian paper” fabric by Beata Heuman.

"Italian Paper" fabric by Beata Heuman, Marbled lampshades from Porta Romana

“Italian Paper” fabric by Beata Heuman, Marbled lampshades from Porta Romana

All things exotic

A final theme this season is “Ethnic”.

Wallpaper specialist Cole & Son has launched a particularly “wow” range of wallpapers in collaboration with Ardmore Ceramic Art celebrating African traditions and culture. Below are “Khulu Vases”, “Leopard Walk” and “Singita”. It is matched in its vibrancy by another ethnic inspired range from Etamine, part of Zimmer & Rohde called Marché Dakar. We love its originality; the designs conjure up the atmosphere of a crowded marketplace in an exotic location, the perfect antidote to a grey London day!

COLE AND SON ARDMORE

New Ardmore collection of newspapers from Cole & Son

Zimmer and rohde etamine

Marché Dakar collection from Étamine

December 31st, 2016


My Top “Interior Design Titles” for 2017 – reading list for a rainy New Year’s day

Has your annual New Year’s Day walk been scuppered by the cold and rain? If ever there was weather to inspire us to pay more attention to the world indoors, it’s this. I’ve put together a design reading list and now is the season to curl up on the sofa and start planning your spring renovations.

First on my list for you is…

SHADES of GREY by Kate Watson-Smyth

Shades of Grey by Kate Watson-Smyth

Shades of Grey by Kate Watson-Smyth

Being a Brit and having lived in the UK all my life, I struggle with why so many people seem to want to paint their homes grey at the moment, when (according to Yahoo) the UK enjoys 255.5 grey overcast days per year! I watched in amazement as paint specialist Little Greene launched 28 shades of grey and paint giant Dulux apparently now has no less than 557 “greys” to choose from. I’m also amazed that anyone has managed to write 175 pages on the subject, but what a good read and visual feast this book is. It’s humorous and pacey, in the style of Kate Watson-Smyth’s blog, that many of us know and love.

If you want to embrace “Grey” in your next round of decorating, it’s a “must-read”.  Kate explores the best ways to incorporate grey into you home and guides you through the mass of options out there. There are lots of useful explanations on how to understand the science behind the undertones that change, depending on the light in the room and how to pick that perfect shade. The book also tackles the question of “will decorating in Grey make me depressed?”

Shades of Grey by Kate Watson-Smyth

Shades of Grey by Kate Watson-Smyth

Most of all, I liked this one as Kate offers up some theories, quite credible ones, as to what led to the trend to decorate in grey. Did you know that it was actually the combination of the humble light bulb and Ikea that forced magnolia and builder’s beige from favourite colours to hated ones? She argues that we have all been led to gradually replace our incandescent bulbs (which looked great with Magnolia paint) with lower energy halogen, LED or compact fluorescent lamps. With their harsher, cooler and clearer light magnolia looked awful and grey apparently looked cool! Ikea’s role was to sell the bulbs at an affordable price and grey took hold.

Second on the list is…

ENGLISH HOUSES  by Ben Pentreath

English Houses by Ben Pentreath

English Houses by Ben Pentreath

Regular readers of Ben’s blog will know that he’s primarily an architect and “shop-keeper“, with a more recently launched interior design arm to his bow. He has a flat in London and a parsonage in Dorset, where he lives with his husband Charlie and both feature in the book.

If you dislike “grey”, also minimalism and despair of many current design trends, this one is for you! The main theme of English Houses is “How to avoid decoration perfection”. To explain this, Ben considers some of the pressures currently facing the design industry to deliver designs on a plate, under intense deadlines. The inevitable result is a house that looks like a hotel (desirable for some). He advocates a way of putting rooms together that is calmer, more subtle, an approach to decoration that is unhurried and personal…”the true defining characteristic of the finest English houses.”

The book then features 12 such houses, two belonging to Ben and the other ten to friends, many of whom are leading figures in the design world.

The interiors are visibly lived in, the hearths have real lit fires, and there is comfortable worn furniture. In some of the rooms Ben has even gone to great pains to ensure that the owner’s junk remained in situ for the photography, breaking the usual styling rules!

English Houses by Ben Pentreath

English Houses by Ben Pentreath

It’s a beautiful book to enjoy and inspire, not a “how-to”. It also includes some very wise words “the qualities that make a building feel loved, generous and welcoming are more to do with the people than with architecture or decoration.”

And finally, if you are looking for a “how-to”, this is the one I would recommend…

THINK HOME by Judith Wilson

Think Home by Judith Wilson

Think Home by Judith Wilson

A bit like Ben Pentreath, Judith Wilson advocates taking things slowly, as all too often people rush into decisions about structural changes and/or new schemes; time spent thinking and planning is never wasted. The reader is encouraged to do just that; think.

Judith’s words and guidance encourage the reader to review carefully the task ahead and avoid rushing into the project without first considering the basics, the existing architecture, and the space and how they want to use it – at this point we would also recommend contacting an interior designer!

Think Home by Judith Wilson

Think Home by Judith Wilson

The book is packed with hints and tips with special sections on storage, art and lighting. The images focus on unusual and interesting interiors, less mainstream and rarely clichéd. It’s become an office staple.

September 21st, 2016


DECOREX 2016: A few of our favourite finds

Every year in September, at London Design Festival, professional designers and interior design enthusiasts alike have a chance to see the latest products being launched, often from around the world.

The festival is packed with events, exhibitions and presentations, where everyone who’s anyone on the international design and manufacturing scene comes together to keep up with the latest developments in the field.

We kicked-off the week with a visit to Decorex, which again took place in a vast tent in Syon Park!

Whilst we can only but touch the surface in this blog, the show included over 800 exhibitors; here are some of the highlights for us from this year’s show.

 It’s all in the detail…

We’re often advised to spend wisely on one or two pieces from this top end of the market, filling in the gaps from the mainstream and with a few fine details such as an intricate curtain braid, a door handle or handmade ceramic/glass.

Chloe Alberry, specialising in treasure-like door handles from exotic materials such as Druze Crystals and Agate, displayed an amazing array of designs including these fossilised wood and porcelain favourites. Guaranteed to transform most cupboards or doors.

Fossilised wood and porcelain/bone handles from Chloe Alberry

Fossilised wood and porcelain/bone handles from Chloe Alberry

Ways with wood…

We recently read an article “is wood the new white”? It would seem so. We loved the stand of Tom Raffield, who has produced a very timeless range of lighting and furniture, reflecting the beauty of wood in products that will stand the test of time.

Handcrafted in Cornwall by Tom Raffield Ltd

Handcrafted in Cornwall by Tom Raffield Ltd

And these handmade wooden lights from MacMaster Design

MacMaster Design

MacMaster Design

A new find this year, clean lines and a simple modern aesthetic from Harto in Paris.

New range from Harto in Paris

New range from Harto in Paris

Time for a statement piece…

If you’ve got your eye on a piece of furniture you absolutely love but it’s a bit of a statement-maker, don’t be afraid to buy it. Here are a couple of pieces that stood out for us, this vibrant rug from Ramezani (normally known for more classic and traditional pieces) and these decorative basins from The London Basin Company.

Ramezani rugs

Ramezani rugs

The London Basin Compan

The London Basin Company

If you missed Decorex, there are still a couple of days of FOCUS at the Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour with 100% Design and Design Junction still to come. We hope you’ll be inspired!

March 19th, 2016


Top 5 picks from London Design Week 2016 – “Travel, colour, curiosities, orange and a lot of geometric”!

The winter has seemed particularly long and grey this year so it was with some welcome relief that I headed up to London Design Week to check out the new season Spring/Summer ranges. I wasn’t disappointed, being greeted by this colourful and highly inventive floral display by renowned florist Philippa Craddock, which picks up on the season’s geometric theme.

Eye-catching floral display by Philippa Craddock

Eye-catching floral display by Philippa Craddock

Five hours later I was happily trying to distil the mass of colour, pattern and products into some key themes; here are my top five picks:

Travel

I loved the simple new range of washed linens from Nobilis and how the colours (and even the way the fabrics were hung) reminded me of one of my favourite places, Portofino Harbour. See the similarities below with a recent holiday snap! There is a coordinating range of wallpapers (right), with a more luxurious feel contrasting against the linen.

New range of washed linens from Nobilis and a recent holiday snap of Portofino!

New range of washed linens from Nobilis and a recent holiday snap of Portofino!

Continuing the theme of travel and holiday snaps, I also spotted this new fabric from Manuel Canovas with a “Rooftops of Paris” theme (left), this time reminding me of the view that I can’t resist snapping (see below!) from the Musée D’Orsay in Paris. The range also includes this fun fashion themed design, Le Parisienne Noir et Blanc (right).

Two new fabrics from Manuel Canovas "Les Toits de Paris Ardoise" and "La Parisienne Noir/Blanc".

Two new fabrics from Manuel Canovas “Les Toits de Paris Ardoise” and “La Parisienne Noir/Blanc

Colour

Colour continues its strong comeback, this time in the form of orange, pink, zesty lime green and turquoise…

Colourful geometric rugs from Mahout, a newcomer to the Design Centre, alongside fabrics from Jim Thompson and Manuel Canovas

Colourful geometric rugs from Mahout, a newcomer to the Design Centre, alongside fabrics from Jim Thompson and Manuel Canovas

Curiosities

Below is another striking set of new designs from wallpaper specialists Cole & Son, as beautifully and cleverly presented as always. It’s called “Curio” and is a knock-out combination of malachite and gold, inspired by the “rarities and objets d’art of nature”. The geometric feel of the hexagonal Mineral design and sharp edged Quartz contrasts with  the botanical Seafern patterns and the softly marbled Zebrawood design.

The new "Curio" collection from wallpaper specialist Cole & Son

The new “Curio” collection from wallpaper specialist Cole & Son

Orange

“Orange” is huge this season. We like it best when used sparingly, preferably with teal or dark blue! I loved this design in the Fox Linton/Jim Thompson showroom for impact. It’s a lovely recreation of an 18th Century Chinese embroidery, the pattern is traditional but the colour combination is contemporary and lively.

 Broderique   Bonsai of the vanities /  Jim Thompson       An innovative recreation of an 18th Century Chinese embroidery. The pattern is traditional but the colour combination is contemporary and lively; the peonies positively burst forth in four vivacious colorways

Broderique, Bonsai of the vanities by Jim Thompson

Geometrics

Last, but not least, the popularity of geometric designs continues. For maximum impact there are many in monochrome tones, such as this new design by Thibaut, which is part of a colourful range of graphic patterns in both large and small scales.

New range of large and small scale geometrics by Thibaut

New range of large and small scale geometrics by Thibaut

October 21st, 2015


The Midas Touch – Gold is the new Black

It’s been a while, but we can officially confirm that gold is back and taking on the role of the “new black”. It seems like the ten year love affair with chrome is finally coming to an end. Many are still wavering in the middle with the ever popular copper and grey, but here we take a look at the beauty of gold and brass, which by the way, look great with navy.

Winning combination of Navy and Gold

Image found on habituallychic.luxury

At Decorex last month we were relieved to see that both brass and gold finishes are more subtle this time around with warm rather than yellow tones and antiqued and brushed finishes being popular. We loved the warmer and softer shades of brass, burnished gold and hammered bronze. Gold still has a place, but it seems to be ‘affected’ in some way – hammered, brushed or blackened to give it a modern feel. It’s now also often used for pieces with an industrial edge, previously the preserve of black or silver metal.

If you want to follow the trend here are our top five picks:

First up is the Day Birger Et Mikkelsen Hammered Coffee Table from Amara, bang on trend with the hammered top and industrial feel to the legs. We also can’t resist the side table Golden Set from Mufti for its warm yet subtle tones.

Day Birger Et Mikkelsen Hammered Coffee Table -

Day Birger Et Mikkelsen Hammered Coffee Table in Gold from Amara

 

Side table golden set from Mufti

Side table golden set from Mufti

Next on our wish list are these bone china Gold Mugs from Alfred and Wilde, we like the combination of modern geometric and bright gold.

Gold and china mugs from Alfred and Wilde

Gold and china mugs from Alfred and Wilde

 

For a more traditional take (and moving onto the bathroom from the living room/kitchen) is this collaboration between the brassware specialist Samuel Heath and Royal Crown Derby. It combines hand finished brassware and hand moulded and intricately decorated fine bone china. We also continue to love the bronze collection from Samuel Heath.

New collection from Samuel Heath in collaboration with Royal Crown Derby

New collection from Samuel Heath in collaboration with Royal Crown Derby

Our fourth and favourite way to follow the trend is with a piece of artwork as your starting point, where better to start than with the colour combinations in these works in progress from contemporary impressionist artist Jessica Zoob.

Rich blues paired with gold in some recent works in progress by artist Jessica Zoob (image with kind permission from Jessica)

Rich blues paired with gold in some recent works in progress by artist Jessica Zoob (image with kind permission from Jessica)

And finally, if you can’t bring yourself to replace chrome  just yet; try introducing some warmer tones with lighting. These table lamps from West Elm are a nice nod to the trend without overdoing it!

Industrial Task Table Lamp - Black & Antique Brass from West Elm

Industrial Task Table Lamp – Black & Antique Brass from West Elm

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