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.

imags spa

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.

Artwork Lisbon 1

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!)

IMG_6428 Barbie ladies loo sign

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.

Manuel Canovas 1
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 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!


Hotel Palacio Ramalhete, Lisbon


Hotel Palacio Ramalhete, Lisbon

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