I treated myself to something new last weekend.
Normally I try and make cushions myself. It’s so easy to do (as long as you’re not a total perfectionist) and a quick way to update a room. Plus it’s much cheaper to buy some fabric and do this yourself. However, this one I couldn’t easily make and I liked it = I justified the purchase.
I found the image really quite striking. In the East Dulwich shop Mrs Robinson where I bought mine they had this lady and another version showing a Geisha. I later found the same cushion I bought plus another alternative on Graham and Green (and a bit more expensive – I felt good about that).
They are made by Danish company Au Maison and they reference the range of Tibetan images as being by Steve McCurry whom I assume is the same Steve McCurry who works as a photojournalist. His site is well worth a look as it has a host of images from his travels, he is also known for his striking and very very famous image generally referred to as Afghan Girl. So there you go, photojournalism in cushion form.
In a total change of tone I have also started trying to sort out the garden. Spring has finally sprung and plants can be planted. Last year there was some success with sweet peas rambling up a grill on the patio. So I am growing some more.
The garden, despite quite a bit of planting, is still pretty barren in places. This year I hope will be a year that really changes that. It’s top of my list.
And finally a bit of exciting news, I found out earlier this week that this blog has been listed by The Telegraph as one of the Top 50 Interior Design Websites. I’m very surprised…but pleased.
You know the idea that things come in threes (good or bad depending on your disposition)? Well that’s sort of happened to me.
A few weeks ago I noticed a rather stylish infographic that showed just how tiny our houses are compared to our European and American cousins. Frustratingly I can’t remember where I saw that or I would post it here. However, it stuck with me, I knew our houses were small but I didn’t realise they compared quite so unfavourably.
Then last weekend I was on the train out from London to visit Bath for the day (very beautiful – I recommend it) with an American friend and they commented on how surprised they were that even outside London the houses remained quite small. I didn’t really have an answer for that.
So, when earlier this week I received an email from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) about a campaign they have started that aims to improve the space and light standards in new build homes in the UK I thought ‘interesting’.
The campaign is fronted by the ever popular Kevin McCloud. Here he is – hello Kevin!
Basically RIBA are concerned with the size of new build properties and have worked out that the average one bed flat is the same size as a tube carriage hence this short film to highlight that.
They have many other facts like ”If left to the minimum regulations, 1 window per room at just 45cm x 45cm could become commonplace, the same size as the average cushion!” which think is intended to ensure you have an escape route in a fire rather than anything to do with light and space.
Anyway RIBA are encouraging us to visit their website read the facts and contact our MPs in order to try and introduce some minimum standards. Have a look….
Recently I received an invitation to a seminar at Anthropologie on Regent Street (this is no special treatment – I’m just on their mailing list and keeping the company afloat with my spending habits). It’s pretty close to my office so I went after work.
The event was very well attended, I was lucky to get a seat. I’ve never been to a do like this before and it was hard to avoid noticing that almost everyone was female, incredibly well-groomed with fashionable (but not too fashionable) clothes and quirky jewellery that showed her creative side. We tip our hat to this cliché, gently side step it and move on….
The evening was based around a talk given by Abigail Ahern to support the launch of her new book Decorating With Style – and yes I bought one, in one stroke doubling my collection of interior design books.
I wasn’t sure what to expect and whilst I have heard of Abigail I wasn’t that well-informed about her style. So I was pleasantly surprised to find it really interesting. Abigail made a few points that resonated with me, things that I felt I had stumbled upon in some of my more successful projects which Abigail helpfully explained making it much more likely that I will now remember them and use them again. Thanks Abigail.
Here are a few things she said which made me think…hmm…yes I’ll remember that.
- Create multiple focal points. Rather than settling on one major focus to the room you can actually have a few points of interest, so a big mirror, a cool lamp, a crazy rug etc. It draws the eye around the room, creates interest and is generally a more pleasing space to look at. Abigail recommends going for at least three but to avoid sensory overload limit the colour palette that you use.
- Don’t paint small spaces white to make them appear bigger. You often hear people say that you should paint a small room a light colour to make it bigger. I’ve thought before that makes no sense, pale doesn’t really mean big and actually small rooms can be cosy, attractive places to be, particularly if you use cosy dark colours, so why fight it. If you create an interesting and beautiful room no one’s first thought will be “small” when they walk in, or at least that won’t be the first thing they think.
- Paint boring stuff in the same hue. That includes ceilings, doors, skirting, shelves and even flooring. Abigail makes the point that this allows what you put into the room to really stand out. I think it makes the room feel coherent in a way you can’t quite put your finger on when you walk in. Once you start looking plenty of rooms have the ceiling the same colour as the walls you just don’t particularly notice it. I’ve tried to convince people before to do this, with no positive results so far. So here I am giving it another go…
Bedroom in the basement flat with walls and ceiling the same shade of green
- Don’t forget practical rooms. Abigail points out that people often ‘stop’ decorating when it comes to bathrooms, halls and kitchens as they are functional spaces. What I really liked was her attitude to kitchens in particular. She keeps the standard elements of fitted cupboards to a minimum and spends her budget on interesting elements, like lights – why not have an over the top chandelier in a kitchen? She’s also a fan of open storage on the basis that a wall of blank cupboards is dull whereas a space to show interesting plates or even everyday items can be quite lovely.
- Level of madness should be 80% normal to 20% odd. Pretty simple really, having lots of eclectic items together adds interest, too many and it’s not fun anymore
- Have confidence with colour. It’s transformative and cheap. Just paint it back if you don’t like it.
- Use pattern and texture. Rugs are the best way to add pattern and don’t be afraid to contrast patterns and textures as long as you restrain the palette you’re using.
- Decorate for less. Paint cheap furniture to add interest or paint a rug on the floor or panels on the wall. Cover cheap blinds in wallpaper or the risers on your stairs. Shop vintage (but not all vintage).
- Don’t stop too soon. Accessories create the interest within a room.
She said a lot more, but those were the bits I remembered.
And here’s a link to Abigail’s Pinterest page which is well worth a look. And some pictures that she shared on the night.
I recently decided to paint this dresser.
In many ways it’s nice as it is. But it’s soon going in another room where I think being painted a light colour will fit better. Plus it’s not in amazing shape (the wood on the front door for example has bowed) and my dad advised that a lick of paint would help keep it all together. And I always listen to my father!
So I chose Pavilion Grey by Farrow from Ball as base colour and then a highlight colour of India Yellow. I wanted to pick out some of the edges and this colour links with the yellow/oranges in the small pieces of glass in the top windows.
And this is how it turned out.
I went a bit crazy and freehand painted some decoration on the drawers. I’m not sure it goes with the total look of the cabinet but I like it.
I also spotted these pom poms on the Graham and Green site and bought them on a whim. They’ve gone in the bedroom.
A little ridiculous but they somehow seem to make the room more complete and they’re fun. At least I think so.
I’ve been on been on the search for a large lamp to go in the flat for some months now. I couldn’t make up my mind what I wanted, super modern, a kind of Victorian fringed affair or a rather kitsch fellow like this. I decided on kitsch as you can see.
I’ve been stalking lamps like this on online antique/retro shops and ebay for awhile now. At first I couldn’t decide if I truly wanted something with quite this much of a sixties vibe (I assume sixties) in my home. However, once I had noticed them I started seeing them everywhere, in magazines, as props in TV shows etc and I thought they looked quite cool. This beast I finally found on ebay from a private seller outside (expensive) London. I think it was a total bargain and now that I have it in place and really pleased with how it looks. Much more interesting than anything I’d have bought in Habitat or John Lewis, and cheaper.
These lamps are from a era of West German pottery known as Fat Lava. While I was searching for my perfect lamp I became aware of the pots and vases also available from this era. I’m no expert but I do know that period extends from roughly the 50s-70s and includes a number of factories based in West Germany that produced a range of signature shapes and glazes. Some of them are truly wild, and apparently are becoming quite collectable. Although obviously not that collectable yet as I have acquired a few for very little cost.
They remind me of the kind of thing you might buy in Anthropologie.
If you’re interested there is a lot more information on the Pots and Pots website.
Some time ago I inherited a thimble collection from my Grandma. For awhile I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. They are perhaps not the coolest thing to collect….
She had them displayed in a glass case but they were all stacked up and you couldn’t see them so clearly. So eventually I bought this printers drawer in a second-hand shop for a tenner and popped them in that.
Then I started adding to it firstly by covering off all the things my Grandma had started (Royal Weddings and British seaside towns featuring quite heavily). Once you start looking out for them they really are everywhere. And my friends have kindly sent me the odd one as well.
Then I realised you could get all sorts if amusing ones, like these.
And now I’ve started I guess I’ll carry on….
This time it’s the bedroom / office area.
Here’s the before.
And here with a few things added.
I picked up this side table from John Lewis.
I also have some work stuff in here. Dressmakers dummy for alterations and the like (heavily underused if I am honest). This had to be positioned carefully so you don’t wake up in the night and freak out thinking there is an intruder in the room.
And a desk/work area by the window.
This desk also doubles as dressing table, the centre section opens up to reveal a storage area and mirror inside the lid. It’s also from Made.
And general bits and bobs.