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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.





October 23rd, 2017


Creative Journeys – bring design inspiration back from your travels

Some of the loveliest houses are ones that evolve over time and tell the story of where the owners have been. I’ve been lucky enough to travel a lot this summer, both for business and pleasure. Trips abroad always bring me home buzzing with ideas, whether it’s new colour combinations, local artwork, quirky details or a favourite iconic view that can be translated into a clever and unique fabric pattern. Much to the annoyance of my family and travel companions, I’m forever capturing these on film to use in future designs. When the UK is so grey, it’s a real pleasure to curl up at home against the shrinking daylight and hark back to days of summer when you were happiest with sand between your toes and a sunburnt nose.

So this post is a roam around the different ways you can use your travels to inspire your home and revisit some fabulous moments in the process. If you’re lucky enough to be blessed with great photography skills and large white walls, why not transpose your finest images onto canvases for a guaranteed feelgood boost every time you pass them?

Canada 2017

British Columbia, Canada

Or take colour ingenuity from stunning landscapes. Nature offers up irresistible colour schemes. A sunset over the sea inspires smoky rose and grey base colours with accents of amber, yellow and Wedgewood blues. No need to be too literal with your interpretation. Take what works for you…

tinekhome AW17 Collection

tinekhome AW17 Collection

and go easy on what doesn’t. Sunset yellows can be tricky to incorporate successfully into room schemes, so maybe these are best kept for reminiscing.

Pego Beach, Carvalhal, Portugal

Pego Beach, Carvalhal, Portugal

Pick and choose what works for you. It’s not the intensity of contrasts between sky and sand that intrigued me here… but the subtler resonances of the sea’s glassy greens against the ochre, which gave me some great palettes to experiment with in these fabric swatches.

Comporta beach Portugal and Linara Fabrics by Romo

Comporta beach Portugal and Linara Fabrics by Romo

When we travel we get a child’s sense of fun back. I came across these old photos in a basement gym in Tuscany. The theme of women playing sport gives a brilliant and witty twist linking the antique eclectic to the contemporary setting.

Villa La Massa, Florence

Villa La Massa, Florence

In the same hotel, these turn-of-the-century fashion sketches were artfully displayed using the dark teal wall instead of a mount to make them stand out. The uniform frames pull together the motley shapes of the cut-outs. There’s no glass – that’s just a reflection from the nearby window. Super effective and different.

Villa La Massa, Tuscany

Villa La Massa, Florence

Travel stimulates wonder and curiosity. So do great interiors. I loved this lady presiding over the reception desk in a Portuguese hotel and was intrigued to find out who she was, but no one seemed to know. Artwork with the hint of a story behind it injects energy into the overall design.

Palacio Ramalhete Hotel, Lisbon, Portugal

Palacio Ramalhete Hotel, Lisbon, Portugal

On your voyages, let your magpie mind roam free and pick up ideas worth reproducing back home. For anyone planning restrooms in a public place, this one is a must. A fun beachside lunch spot used Barbie and Ken dolls in swimwear to illustrate His and Hers. (Ken was in Speedos, but unfortunately I overexposed his photo. Spare me the puns!)

"Sals", Pego beach, Portgual

“Sals”, Pego beach, Portgual

From the ridiculous back to the sublime. Iconic views will never fail to inspire. Many will know this view taken from the top floor of the Paris Musée D’Orsay with the white hill of Montmartre in the background.

Rooftop view over Paris

Rooftop view over Paris

And here it is translated into a fabric design by one of my favourite fabric houses, Manuel Canovas.

Les Toits de Paris by Manuel Canovas (Colefax & Fowler)

Les Toits de Paris by Manuel Canovas (Colefax & Fowler)

I love the rich colour saturation in their cloth and the imaginative interpretations they put on travel. You can find this fabric here.

Or browse Rubelli or Zoffany for Venice-inspired design.

And finally, if you simply can’t resist bringing something back from abroad more three-dimensional than inspiration alone, enjoy a virtual wander through two recent discoveries in Portugal, the gorgeous home stores of Avida Portuguesa and Tine K Home – they both ship to the UK.

August 21st, 2017


A weekend on the tiles…

Have you ever arrived in a European City, ready to go, but wondering where to start and wishing you had read the relevant guidebook in advance? Last week I was tempted to tack on two days in Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, before heading south to the beaches. It seemed like a good idea, but I hadn’t read the guidebook. Fortunately, I was quickly distracted by this interiors store http://www.avidaportuguesa.com/. It was so beautifully laid out, it made me want to own a shop.  Above all, it stocked a very helpful small book which suggests you can get to know Lisbon via its most important and well-known artistic legacy, ceramic tiles!

A Vida Portuguesa

A Vida Portuguesa

I chose the route through the old Baixa Chiado district and here is a taste of what I found….

Since the 16th century no other city has produced tiles like Lisbon has. Walking down narrow alleyways, plenty of laundry hanging out to dry in the warm air, it’s hard to not notice the tiles and colours that make Lisbon unique. Almost every building, new and old, is covered in them.

Baxia Chiado "tile trail"

Baxia Chiado “tile trail”

The older and non-restored ones are faded, yet still colourful, the glory of their bygone days showing through.

There are so many patterns and colours you can almost believe that you could cross the city without finding two of the same kind. They are buildings with stories to tell.

Nave panels (1762 - 1766?) in an old church in the Baixa Chiado district

Nave panels (1762 – 1766?) in an old church in the Baixa Chiado district

Even the pavements are beautifully tiled.

A Vida Portuguesa

Pavement detail Lisbon, Portugal

The train stations take a more modern approach to tiling, the ones on the left adorn the metro station next to the main “Commercial Square” and the right-hand image is one of the entrances to the Baixa Chiado shopping area.

Metro stations

Tiling detail on Lisbon Metro Stations

Sometimes the best hotels are the ones which are slightly off the beaten track. I came across this “old palace” on the outskirts of Lisbon, now a hotel, with many original tiles intact. Perfect!

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Hotel Palacio Ramalhete, Lisbon

IMG_6381

Hotel Palacio Ramalhete, Lisbon

October 30th, 2016


The Fabric of Time: Antico Setificio Fiorentino, Florence’s oldest fabric mill

Tucked in the middle of a Florentine back-street, away from the hustle and bustle of tourists and around a 15 minute stroll from the Ponte Vecchio, lies Antico Setificio Fiorentino, the last mill where silk weaves are still produced in the same way as they were during the Silk Road.

Antico Setificio Fiorentino in the ancient San Frediano neighbourhood

Antico Setificio Fiorentino in the ancient San Frediano neighbourhood

To my delight I discovered a workshop straight out of the 18th Century, with 12 pre-industrial looms, 6 hand looms dating from 1786 and 6 semi-mechanical looms dating from the nineteenth century. In the middle of the eighteenth century, several Florentine noble families made the decision to link their fine fabric designs, detailed patterns, weaving looms, warping machines, and energies into a single silk fabric workshop, today’s Antico Setificio Fiorentino.

12 pre-industrial looms, 6 from 1786 and 6 semi-mechanical from the 19th Century

12 pre-industrial looms, 6 from 1786 and 6 semi-mechanical from the 19th Century

The silk yarn, naturally hand-dyed outside Florence (often to customer-specific requirements) is still sorted and then loaded onto bobbins for the warp and weft of the loom on the premises.

Pre-sorting of the silk for the weft and warp of the looms

Pre-sorting of the silk for the warp and weft of the looms

The machine which then prepares the “warp” (the threads on a loom over and under which other threads (the weft) are passed to make cloth) ready to be transferred onto the looms was in fact designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

Designed by Leonardo Da Vinci himself!

Designed by Leonardo Da Vinci himself!

Intricate designs are made possible using punchcard technology which was later copied to programme computers; IBM used it for its first arithmetic machines. Each noble family had their own pattern, assigned at birth and made possible by the encoding on the punchcards. Supporting all this is an onsite “loom technician”, the equivalent of the modern day “VIP IT support” in the office!

The punch cards control the movement of the heddles and hence the manufacture of the design

The punch cards control the movement of the heddles and hence the manufacture of the design

One of the smallest looms is devoted to the creation of intricate fringes and braids.

Loom producing trimmings

Loom producing trimmings

The result is some of the most densely woven and beautiful fabrics I have seen.. the Broccatelli (with its 3 dimensional feel), the Lampasso, the Turkish satin, the pure silk grosgrain…

Whilst staying true to the traditional designs and methods, the addition of vibrant colours brings a contemporary feel to some of the weaves as tastes evolve.

Vibrant colours bring a more contemporary feel to traditional designs.

Vibrant colours bring a more contemporary feel to traditional designs.

The factory was recently purchased by Stefano Ricci and is working on the launch of an online digital catalogue for designers, hopefully we’ll still have an excuse to visit personally. Thank you to Antico Setificio Fiorentino for their hospitality and taking the time to show me around this amazing mill.

August 7th, 2016


The summer slowdown; inspiration, colours and textures from Italy

Late summer and early autumn can be a crazy time for the Interior Design industry. September typically sees the launch of the new season’s products and designs with trade shows such as Decorex and Focus and everything gathers pace rapidly as the schools go back and we all want the decorating to be done before Christmas. I’ve therefore learnt to make the most of and appreciate the summer slowdown. Without time to properly switch off, creativity is stifled. As for inspiration, well that’s nowhere to be found without some sort of break to restore and refresh, being able to truly appreciate your surroundings and drink in the sounds, smells and sights that come with a week away, preferably somewhere warm.

Taking plenty of photos is always on my agenda as that’s one of the things I’ve grown to love through the process of blogging and being able to refer back to them time and time again, when I’m stuck for inspiration.

This summer I was lucky to visit the Italian lakes and also manage “Venice in a day” ahead of a longer trip in the autumn.

I am always mesmerised by the colours and reflections of water…

Colours and reflections of the Italian Lakes and Venice

Colours and reflections of the Italian Lakes and Venice

My lightening trip to Venice, ahead of a longer stay in October, was amazing. Every little corner looks like a painting and if you ever need inspiration for architectural details, colours, textures or a new lantern design, you’ll definitely find it.

Rooftops and Lanterns in Venice

Rooftops and Lanterns in Venice

I was also able to indulge my passion for Italian paper, pasta and window arches!

Arches, Pasta and Italian Paper!

Arches, Pasta and Italian Paper!

July 20th, 2015


Travel Inspiration from Provence

This week I have been lucky enough to have a mini travel adventure around Provence. The lavender fields, roman ruins, sleepy villages and dramatic mountains not only meant endless photo opportunities, but also endless inspiration for colours and textures. A weakness for French Grey and Terracotta has ensued! But clichés aside, its beauty has inspired a number of artists, from Cézanne and Van Gogh to Picasso. I found much of the scenery breath-taking and hope to be able use the inspiration from the landscape one day. For anyone lucky enough to be working on a property in the region or just wanting to add some Provençal touches to an interior design scheme closer to home, here are some of my favourite buildings, views, food and furniture…

Favourite buildings…

Interior design inspiration from Provence

Favourite buildings…

Favourite views… you need to work quite hard to find lavender fields like this one

Interior Design Inspiration from Provence

Favourite views… you need to work quite hard to find lavender fields like this one

More favourite views, this time including Sunflowers, not quite fully blooming yet, despite the daily 36 degrees and cloudless skies

Interior design inspiration from Provence

More favourite views, this time including Sunflowers, not quite fully blooming yet, despite the daily 36 degrees and cloudless skies

Missing this…

Interior Design Inspiration from Provence

Missing this…

A few favourite furniture styles, too many to feature all here

Interior design inspiration from Provence

A few favourite furniture styles, too many to feature all here

And a few favourite “miscellaneous” …

Interior Design Inspiration from Provence

And a few favourite “miscellaneous” …

Finally, last but not least, some of my favourite French signs and advice together with a rather unfortunately named café!

Interior Design Inspiration from Provence

Finally, last but not least, some of my favourite French signs and advice together with a rather unfortunately named café!

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