Features: June '10

Trend Watch: Monochrome Furnishings

by Catherine Gregg on June 30, 2010
PPQ Spring-Summer 2010 collection. Image via elleuk.com

Interior designers go back to black for a sophisticated monochrome aesthetic that oozes style

Monochrome is a perennial favourite on the catwalks, epitomising pared down chic, and it’s long been a key element of the interior designer’s repertoire. A sleek and stylish combination for clothing, monochrome in the home is often used to highlight architectural qualities as well as the contrasts of light and shade. Graphic monochrome patterns, including animal print and geometric designs, add visual drama to a room without being loud. And colour experts will tell you that adding monochrome touches to a fusion of vibrant colours in a room not only moderates the look, but also creates a foil against which individual colours become more expressive. Try adding white and black to a pile of colourful scarves or swatches and you’ll instantly see what they mean.

A common misconception about monochrome is that it’s a boring, cop-out combination, associated with work clothes and office drones. But this couldn’t be further from the truth in terms of interior design (or fashion for that matter). Think about the Art Deco period, in which sharp angular shapes and a graphic monochrome palette created a sophisticated and high-energy aesthetic, expressive of modernity. Monochrome style is more than just black and white. Think about marble and mirrored furniture, silvery grey hues and the combination of glass, steel and chrome. Create a spectacle of surface with tactile animal skins, luminous glass and metallic finishes. Dressed up or down - a crystal chandelier with mirrored furniture, or a simple cowhide rug on a stripped wood floor - monochrome works to enhance feelings of light and space, with graphic prints creating a sense of movement and energy.

console table
Roman Console, £1811, Benchmark

There’s a huge choice of products on Furnish to dress your home in the monochrome mode. The Roman Console from Benchmark is a beautiful example of elegant simplicity, with it’s black lacquered oak frame, zinc wrapped plinth and limestone top. Florence Knoll’s iconic coffee and dining tables feature black and white or grey and white veined marble tops with polished chrome bases for a pared down yet luxurious modern aesthetic. Graham & Green has a fabulous range of mirrored furniture including the bevelled Art Deco Console with gracefully tapered back legs, and the Manhattan Console with an angular multi-faceted facia, which dramatises the contrasts of light and shade. The Carlton furniture range at The White Company is clad in beautifully glossy milk white glass, perfect paired with a monochrome cowhide rug. Try London Cows and The French Bedroom Company. The latter’s Glitz and Glamour cowhides have mottled silver and gold metallic finishes for a truly opulent look.

White studded Loft armchair, £367, Sweetpea & Willow

Sweetpea & Willow has a Corbusier-Perriand inspired black and white Hide Armchair, while the Anton cherry wood chair demonstrates just how well monochrome complements wood tones, with its calico upholstered seat and black lacquered backrest. Also at Sweetpea & Willow, the studded Loft armchair upholstered in black or white velvet offers perfect comfort and supreme style. The indulgent high-backed Vista sofa from Lover’s Lounge takes glamour one step further: upholstered in sumptuous black velvet it’s adored with crystal buttons. Occa Home’s De Le Cuona cashmere cushion with silver embroidery is similarly striking, while the black Rockerfeller cushion is highly textured to engage the senses. In lighting go for Peter Bowles’ classic Circle Line drop pendant, table lamp, and wall light in monochrome stripes, or for an opulent Art Deco look, try the Globe and Round Crystal chandeliers at Sweetpea & Willow. Complete your monochrome scheme with the humbug-like Omaggio Brush Strokes vase from 95% Danish.

Whether you choose striking monochrome accent pieces to set off your room or go for a coordinated monochrome scheme, this is a classically stylish trend that never loses its edge.

Trend Watch: Naturals

by Catherine Gregg on June 29, 2010
Vintage Leather Chesterfield, £795, Rose & Grey

Create a harmonious home with naturals.

With growing enthusiasm, since Modernist tropes of ‘bringing the outside in’ and ‘truth to materials’ formed a watershed in thinking about humane design, architects and interior decorators have introduced natural materials to bring warmth, harmony and sensuality into the home. Couple that with current environmental concerns and you have the makings of a major trend.

Central to the vogue for naturals in interior design is a desire to celebrate and elevate the inherent qualities of organic materials. But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on style. The natural trend is as much about an appreciation of craftsmanship and the beauty of good design, as it is with getting back in touch with nature. It’s through the intervention of design that the inherent beauty of organic materials is expressed and enhanced: a faceted glass bowl that refracts natural light, a sisal carpet with a textured weave, or a wooden table polished to bring out the grain.

The key to creating a harmonious environment is engaging the senses; the effects of natural light, the aroma, texture and aesthetics of natural materials all come into play. And while part of this engagement might be to embrace the rawness of organic materials, it’s also about enhancing the sensual appeal of those materials through design. The principle of simplicity unites these two approaches, and underpins the greatest attractions of natural materials: quality, practicality and longevity. Enhanced by the patina of age, natural materials not only wear well, but they have timeless human appeal. So although we’re talking about a hot trend for 2010, it’s sustainable in the long term.

Natural light is your essential tool when creating an organic interior scheme. Window dressings should enable light to filter through, such as linen curtains, bamboo matchstick roller blinds, or wooden slatted Venetian blinds. Accessories should work to enhance and manipulate available light; mirrors and glass will refract light and bounce it around, while anything highly textured dramatises the contrasts of light and shade. The form, tone and texture of natural wall-coverings, flooring, furniture and fabrics, should all play a part in enhancing feelings of light and space. But none of this means that you can’t introduce colour into your scheme. Just take a look outside. Nor does it mean that you can’t combine naturals with contemporary design and innovative materials. After all, Modernism was as much about the machine made - chrome, steel and concrete - as about the benefits of light and airy homes or the promotion of inherent beauty over applied decoration.

Solid Walnut Stools by Charles and Ray Eames for Vitra, £681-802, Utility

Looking around Furnish, there are plenty of different ways to interpret the naturals trend and suit your individual style. The Teak Chinese Stool and Modular bookcase from Puji recall the lightness and openness of Chinese architecture, whereby paper screens and open-framed wood allowed sunlight to filter through the home. OKA, Lombok and Orchid are also renowned for classic, Asian-inspired, natural furnishings.

Reissued by Vitra, Charles and Ray Eames’ solid Walnut Stools are beautifully turned and polished to bring out the rich grain. Another hero of 20th century design, Eero Saarinen’s Tulip dining table features an opulent marble top and aluminium base, while the similarly shaped Maiden table from Benchmark is turned from a single piece of solid oak. Drying out as it ages, the Maiden table develops splits and fissures, giving it a unique character. If you’re after that beaten-up, weathered look, Rose & Grey has a number of vintage leather sofas and vintage chairs. And the Arthur Chair at Graham & Green features a weathered oak frame with natural linen upholstery.

pendant light
Bright Pendant, bone china extruded clay, £85-90, Ulrika Jarl

At the Lollipop Shoppe, Tom Rossau’s sculptural wood-veneer pendant shades and floor lamps come in a range of curvaceous organic forms and diffuse light beautifully. Orchid’s elegant Ripple glass lamp base has a hint of sea-blue and comes with a Hessian textured shade. And for dramatic atmosphere, try the cocoon-shaped Filigrain Sky Drop pendant by Zenza, in lustrous silver-plated brass. Engage the senses further with a striking hide rug from London Cows or Puji’s super-shaggy Everest rug, in hand-knotted wool.

There’s a naturals style to suit your natural style. So go with your instincts to create a harmonious home.

How to….. decorate and be green

by Emma Foale on June 29, 2010
coffee table
Handcrafted Egw occasional table, price to be confirmed, SMC Furnishings

You don’t have to like green to be green, so use our tips to create an eco-friendly and stylish home.

Many people have the wrong attitude towards ‘going green’ because they believe it means changing everything about their lifestyle. It isn’t something we think about every day, but the way we decorate and our choice of furniture has an inadvertent impact on our environment. However, small changes such as thinking about how we can reduce our carbon footprint with the furnishings and other household products that we buy can all help towards creating a healthier and happier environment. In fact it has become increasingly easy to find suppliers of eco-designs and sustainable products, ultimately benefiting you and the environment with products that have a longer lifespan and that promote recycling.


Eco-friendly wallpaper features water based inks; these inks are printed on chlorine-free paper and do not contain harmful VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) or solvents. You will find a great selection at ecocentric.co.uk, which offers eco-friendly products made from sustainable, recycled or reused materials of a high quality. For a natural shimmering look in your dining or living area, try the Saplings hand printed wallpaper which is hand screen printed on PEFC paper to promote sustainable management of forests. This type of wallpaper will benefit your home because it contains no toxins, creating a healthy and pleasant environment to live in. To decorate your children’s bedroom walls use eco wall prints like this Little Acorns Height chart, which is printed onto 100% recycled card.


Allow your walls to breathe and absorb variations in humidity promoting a more comfortable and healthy living environment for you. Try the EarthBorn clay paints collection also from ecocentric.co.uk; these come in white or a selection of different colours and shades, and they are perfect for making special effects. EarthBorn paints openly list all their ingredients on their website to give you confidence in what you are buying. At valtti.co.uk there’s a wide range of paint that’s tested independently at the Finnish indoor air quality institute to ensure there aren’t any solvents or other harmful chemicals found in conventional paints. Taika pearl paint can be used on interior walls or furniture for a fancy effect. Using eco-friendly paints in your home will ultimately reduce the risk and damage to your health and the environment.

vases and bowl
Recycled green ball vase, £19.95, Natural collection


We all like to enjoy comfort underfoot, and this doesn’t have to be sacrificed for natural flooring. There are plenty of eco-friendly types of flooring to fit your needs, including bamboo, cork, recycled metal and glass tiles, linoleum, stone and sustainable and reclaimed wood.

Choose from a collection of natural fibre flooring which is sourced from around the world at alternativeflooring.com. This is available in a variety of interesting weaves that will create a natural textured feel to any interior. Bamboo is one of the world’s most renewable energy resources which make it superb for hard wood flooring. Urbane Living’s bamboo flooring is extremely durable and strong as well as stylish, and would look great it any modern interior.


To go green with textiles, some of your options include organic cotton, wool and hemp, which can be found on Pickering International or from Hemp Fabric who both specialise in textiles made from sustainable and organic fibres. The benefits of using these organic fabrics in your home are that they can be luxurious and comfortable with long lasting softness. Luma offer luxurious and stylish organic cotton products from bed linen to cushions. I love the Sasha silk bedspread which is hand quilted by the fair trade craft group in pure silk and filled with kapok. The Tesserae tablecloth from The Tea Towel Company is made from 100% organic cotton, with an intricate design inspired by mosaics made from pottery or glass. This is perfect for bringing a fresh look to any kitchen or dining table.


The beautifully handmade Mokimoe cushions from ecocentric.co.uk are available in pink, yellow and blue. They’re hand printed with eco-friendly inks, made in the UK using organic cotton and hemp for the covers, and filled with organic wool balls. They would really bring a flourishing touch to any living area or bedroom. For a perfect collection of eco-friendly decorative accessories that you can sprinkle around your home try the Natural Collection. Bring the lovely smell of fresh flowers into your home with the Recycled glass green ball vase, or create a relaxing ambience in a room with a set of four, tall Fair Trade glass candle holders which look elegant when placed either together or dotted around a room. The set of three colourful Organic bamboo baskets are made from 100% organic bamboo, and can be used for various uses around your home to hold accessories, jewellery and even fruit.

table cloth
100% organic cotton Tesserae tablecloth, £37, The Tea Towel Company


Manufacturing and shipping furniture uses a lot of non-renewable resources and a lot of energy. You can reap the benefits from natural and handmade furniture for many years to come so it is definitely worthwhile paying a little extra. Lombok use reclaimed timber for their furniture wherever possible and use wood from approved plantations. The Keraton dark teak bedside table is handmade from reclaimed and sustainably sourced Indonesian teak; it has an alluring appearance that will make it a strong statement piece for your bedroom. The egw occasional table from SMC Furnishings is a unique modern piece which is simple but attractive because it displays the handcrafted natural beauty of the wood. Most furniture pieces from this company use wood that is reclaimed from building timbers or locally sourced trees. It isn’t hard to find sustainable furniture in modern and stylish designs, and you may even find a bargain furniture piece in vintage or antique shops, or at a flea market.

With so many gorgeous eco-friendly products on offer to help you furnish your home, how can you resist indulging in the comfort of naturally soft furnishings or beautifully designed accessories? Go green and bring a hint of nature into your home.

Interview: Nick Fraser

by Catherine Gregg on June 28, 2010
coat racks and stand
Top: Pipework Coat Rack Single, £75; Bottom: Pipework Coat Rack Double, £120

Nick Fraser’s been taking the world of interiors by storm with his playful and subversive rethinking of everyday objects.

Since graduating from the University of Plymouth in 2005 with a degree in 3D Design, Nick Fraser’s been taking the world of interiors by storm with his playful and subversive rethinking of everyday objects. After an enthusiastic reception exhibiting with Hidden Art at the 2006 Milan Furniture Fair, Nick began manufacturing his designs from a small studio in Dalston. Made in the UK and finished by hand (his own), Nick Fraser products are now sold across Europe. You can find them at Paul Smith and the Barbican in London, Fleux in Paris and Moderna Musset in Stockholm. I seem to be banging on about Paul Smith a lot lately, but I must admit I was pleased that Nick’s designs have caught Sir’s glad eye as much as my own. Impeccable taste. Anyway, here’s what Nick had to say about his own design inspirations when we caught up with him at Grand Designs Live last month.

Which designers do you admire and which have been inspirations to your work?

Current designers I admire include the Hella Jongerius Lab, Committee and 5.5 Designers.

I always find this question difficult because I seem to remember products more than people…however terrible that sounds! A lot of my work is based on looking at various everyday objects and highlighting their visual or functional qualities through re-appropriation…I suppose this is where my inspiration comes from.

What’s your own style when it comes to interior design?

I like a room or space to be very simple and neutral in its foundations such as the furniture, layout and wall colours. It’s then objects that you put around the space, which will make it more unique and personalised.

I love the sculptural, architectural qualities of your work and especially the sort of Meccano/kit construction aesthetic of your industrial Pipework Series. How did the series develop?

When I was studying Art A level, I made a very large sculpture using plumbing materials. Referencing the illustrator Heath Robinson’s drawings of eccentric machinery that mock Modernism, the sculpture was designed to look hyper-functional but actually did nothing at all. My teacher at the time encouraged me to plumb it into a house as an installation but of course being 18, it never happened.

So once I had graduated from a design degree, I re-visited the idea but made it functional and ultimately more commercial. I started with the Hall Stand, which was an elaborate piece that I exhibited in Milan in 2007. It was received very well and since then I have created many variations, and these have become a large part of my business.

What struck me most at Grand Designs was your fork light. I really liked the faceted, geometric qualities of the bird, which I felt prevented the design from becoming twee. Could you say a little about the ideas behind the fork light and how it developed?

As you have probably noticed, I really enjoy the visual qualities of functional every day objects. This extends to the outdoors and I had my eye on the pitchfork for a while. Once I established the simple tripod structure to create a stable lamp base, it was a case of brainstorming what would make a relevant shade.

The bird seemed the obvious choice, depicting the quintessential English garden image, but as you have mentioned, it was important to maintain a contemporary result and avoid twee(ness). The creation of the bird required a lot of paper cutting and folding!

candle holder
Top: Pipework Candelabra, £35; Bottom: dramatic multiple use of the single candelabra

In a lot of your products you seem to be turning things inside out – for example, exposing industrial pipes, bringing the outside inside with your bird branch mug ‘tree’ and fork standard lamp. Would you say this is the common thread running through your work: a playful subversive approach to everyday objects?

Absolutely. It’s really important to me that people see my products and smile because they can understand the story behind them. By manipulating recognisable objects and placing them in a new context, it allows the viewer to enjoy them in a new light, visually and functionally.

Although humour and familiarity are important aspects in my work, it’s still necessary to create products that people can live with and use for a long time. I hope that I achieve this and can continue to do so as I don’t really want another job!

Find out more at www.nickfraser.co.uk...

Buyers guide: Surfaces

by Emma Foale on June 28, 2010
Brazilian black slate strips, price per m², Brazili Stone

Be inspired by stylish surfaces and elegant exterior appearances for your home with our buyers guide to surfaces.

Surfaces make a huge impression on a room, and their texture and appearance can determine the style and practicality of your interior. So, whether you are going for grandeur in your hallway or a clean and sophisticated kitchen, there are plenty of ways to decorate your home with the right surface to suit your needs. This guide will consider the pros and cons and what qualities different types of surfaces have to offer in terms of practical and aesthetic features, as well as texture and tangibility.


DuPont Corian is sold worldwide and there are lots of options available with this type of surface. Have a look at www.corian.co.uk for many designs in a vast range of colours including this year’s new eight metallic shades. It’s a non-porous surface making it ideal for worktops, splash backs, and integral sinks in a kitchen; try this versatile surface in your bathroom for vanity tops or shower trays. Bear in mind that darker, heavier pigmented shades will show scratches and general wear and tear more easily than lighter, textured colours.

Pros: easy to clean; nonporous; resists the growth of mould, mildew and bacteria.

Cons: Not as durable as stone e.g granite.


Stone surfaces are a popular choice because of their aesthetic qualities. Traditional fireplaces are often made from stone as it adds to the grandeur and charm of the feature. Hand crafted stone has an attractive look and feel, and you can find a vast selection of natural stone fireplaces, including marble and limestone, from Heritage Stoneworks. The Single sink unit with Flemish stone from Brissi is a superb storage and decorative piece for displaying your bathroom linen and beauty products. The dark stone top and the white porcelain sink are beautifully contrasted to create a dramatic and classic look. For a good selection of natural stone tiles try Mandarin Stone who supply limestone, marble, slate and terracotta tiles.

Pros: Beautiful surface; practical and durable.

Cons: Expensive; cold underfoot.


Slate is an extremely versatile stone that gives a rustic and natural appearance to any room; it has a dramatic texture but a less formal look than marble or limestone. Slate is an excellent choice for kitchen or dining room floors because it is anti-stain and slip resistant. Ceramica & Stone have a great selection of colourful slate flooring that would work well in any modern or country house kitchen. Stone Works Ltd supply metallic, honed and riven slate; the Riven slate oyster offers depth and colourful tones ranging from yellows to greens. For a different look, try the Brazilian black slate wall cladding from Brazili Stone for a striking contemporary effect.

Pros: Good abrasion resistance and high durability; comes in a variety of natural stone colours.

Cons: Some types have to be sealed to prevent staining; needs professional installation.

Circular stainless steel Japanese bath, price on request, HomePortfolio

Polished concrete

Polished concrete floors have a beautiful bespoke finish because the polishing process exposes the unique grain patterns beneath the surface. Poured concrete can give you a seamless and glossy surface. The Stone Carpet Company supplies flooring that will enhance your interior and add to the grandeur and value of your home. Choose polished concrete flooring if you have a grand entrance hall or kitchen area for a polished and elegant look. Concrete countertops are also a good option for your kitchen; try White+Reid for a wide selection of shapes and sizes of worktops tailored to your room.

Pros: Energy efficient; durable; aesthetically pleasing.

Cons: Costly; can get stained, chipped or scratched.


Wood flooring is one of the most common surfaces in contemporary interiors due to its practical qualities and low maintenance. Justwoodflooring.com and urbaneliving offer naturally beautiful hardwood flooring.

Wooden work surfaces will give a warm appearance and bring a natural look to your décor. At justwoodworktops.com you can find natural wood breakfast bar tops and hardwood chopping boards in all different types of wood such as beech, oak, and walnut. The Oak Beam Table from Indigo Furniture is solidly built with a chunky and rustic appearance, and it will provide you with a surface and furniture piece that will retain its natural look for many years.

Wall panels work particularly well to bring dimension to your walls, and they look striking against a bold backdrop. The Ana carved wood wall panel in dark teak from Lombok has a beautiful geometric design. Decorative wall panels are available in a range of finishes, designs and wood grains; the Hand carved wood wall panels from Kan Thai Decor create a stunning look.

Pros: Natural beauty and character; practical, durable and stylish in a modern or traditional home.

Cons: Natural wood takes a lot of care to maintain its look.

Bird wall panels, price on request, Kan Thai Decor.

Ceramic tiles

The Ceramic Tile Company supply practical yet stylish ceramic bathroom, kitchen and floor tiles. Ceramic tiles are a popular choice for bathrooms as they will keep your walls and floors free from moisture damage. Mosaic patterns work well for detail on a bathroom or kitchen wall; in your bathroom you will need unglazed tiles for slip-resistance, and if you want your tiles to be stain-proof choose glazed tiles. Ceramic mosaic tiles from mosaictileshop.co.uk are versatile; their glazes come in a range of colours to suit your interior, and you can add pattern or floor accents by using custom tiles. The Ceramic tiles from Armstrong would suit a country house inspired kitchen, and bring a warm and welcoming feel.

Pros: Heat and stain resistant, easy to clean.

Cons: Chips easily; all tiles have grout lines so they require regular cleaning.

Stainless steel

The physical appearance of stainless steel brings a sleek and finished look which would suit any modern home. Stainless Steel wall tiles are ideal for kitchen splashbacks, and their smooth finish makes them a perfect choice for matching them with other kitchen appliances. The tiles are available in a variety of different patterns and they come in a satin or matt finish. Bring a modern and unique statement to your bathroom with the Circular Stainless Steel Japanese bath from HomePortfolio.

Pros: Hygienic; very easy to clean; high resistance to corrosion.

Cons: Cold to touch; will scratch and show fingerprints easier than other types of tiles.

Our weekly pick of fave interiors blogs...

by Catherine Gregg on June 27, 2010
A beautiful 19th century bed, pictured on Topsy Turvy [www.topsyturvystyle.com]

It’s that time again, and we’ve found three more thought-provoking blogs, dazzling with interiors inspiration.

First up this week is Florida-based design blog, Topsy Turvy. The Home Tours section is a dream if you’re a bit of a nosy parker, full of fabulous photographs of the insides of stylish abodes. And, never mind the weather, the Shop Tours alone will make you want to live in Florida. Interviews with industry big wigs are consistently engaging, offering an insider’s perspective on the world of design. With envy-inducing photography, an eclectic approach and a great sense of humour, Topsy Turvy has lightness of touch that makes it both fun and inspiring.

A white plaster sculpture by Dutch artist Jan Schoonhoven (1914-1994), in the home of interior designer Steven Volpe, pictured on The Style Saloniste [www. thestylesaloniste.com]

Just down the road in California, doyenne of design, Diane Dorrans Saeks, holds court as The Style Saloniste. Having authored twenty books on style and design, Saek’s foray into blogging doesn’t disappoint. Intelligent and enchanting in equal measure, her elegant and evocative writing style combined with breathtaking photography, makes for a thoroughly enjoyable read. Informed on all aspects of design and architecture The Style Saloniste is a beautiful guide. This post on a new resort in Arizona had me totally floored. And there’s a wonderful piece on the fabulously flamboyant Dodie Rosekrans, San Francisco museum and arts patron.

And last but certainly not least is NYC interior decorator Jenny Komenda’s Little Green Notebook. Full of design ideas, covetable objects and thrift store finds this is a fantastic online scrapbook, all beautifully put together. I can’t get over the amazing chair Jenny found at auction. And the blog’s now been sponsored by Plexi-Craft, makers of high-design Lucite furniture. What’s so inspiring is the spontaneous nature of it all and the fact that blogging about a hobby has led Jenny to set up her own design company, Pearl Street Interiors. So, there’s another reason to get in touch if you write a blog of your own. Let us know and we’ll feature it next time…

Trend Watch: Turquoise

by Catherine Gregg on June 25, 2010
sideboards and display cabinet
Doux Billet De Clement cabinet, £925, Sweetpea & Willow

A colour suggestive of the sea and the sky, luminous turquoise is lighting up the world of interiors

A colour suggestive of the sea and the sky, luminous turquoise is lighting up the world of interior design. Pantone, the authority on colour standardisation for the design industry, has declared turquoise (15-5519 TCX to be exact) its colour of the year for 2010:

‘Combining the serene qualities of blue and the invigorating aspects of green, Turquoise evokes thoughts of soothing, tropical waters and a languorous, effective escape from the everyday troubles of the world, while at the same time restoring our sense of wellbeing.’

Although I can’t help thinking Pantone’s choice is as much to do with the financial climate as the tropical climate, turquoise has long held a special position in many cultures as a colour of healing and protection, associated with faith and truth, and inspired by water and sky; a colour with restorative powers, representing both security and escape. Created as a gift for his newborn nephew, named Vincent, and painted in the last year of his life, Van Gogh’s Almond Blossom, with its vivid yet calming turquoise background, epitomises the therapeutic associations of turquoise with renewal and hope.

It’s these colour associations along with the versatile combination of both warm and cool undertones that make turquoise such a fabulous colour in the home. It can be used to create zingy accents in a colour scheme of neutrals and browns; it complements reds and pinks; livens up greens and dark blues; makes a striking statement paired with yellows, and a luxurious atmosphere with gold. Both soothing and invigorating, turquoise is a beautiful choice for spa-inspired bathrooms and inviting bedrooms. It makes a stylish accent colour in the kitchen used for appliances or worktops, and will stimulate the senses for an uplifting living room.

coffee table
Daphne Coffee table by Johnny Egg, £595, Heal’s

A quick spin round Furnish reveals the extraordinary versatility of turquoise in terms of colour combinations, styling and room function. Starting in the heart of the home, Alessi’s Bird Kettle and Parrot corkscrew, and The Contemporary Home’s Carved Jug, Wine Glasses and Tumblers, will brighten up your kitchen, whatever your favourite tipple. And if you’re after a perfect colour match, Pantone’s Mugs and Espresso Cups are available in subtle Duck Egg and vivid Turquoise. The Orvetto Egg Recycling Bin from BODIE and FOU, in a striking yellow, brown, and blue colourway will make this (rubbish) task a pleasure. And to finish off the kitchen, a Kartell Fly pendant light in Petrol Blue would look fabulous over a breakfast bar or dinner table.

In the living room, add a splash of colour with Heal’s Tuareg Rug and Tullgarn Drum lampshade in turquoise and gold. The spectacular Fin Chair at BODIE and FOU, upholstered in turquoise velvet, is luxuriously large and with it’s dramatic feathered back, makes a stunning high-style statement. The iconic Eames RAR rocking armchair, DSW side chair and DAW armchair are all available in a beautiful Ocean Blue. And Johnny Egg’s Daphne Coffee Table and Lamp Table in Teal Blue from Heal’s have fabulously fun flocked legs and contemporary glass tops. But it’s in soft furnishings that the variety of colour combinations to be had with turquoise become apparent. Margo Selby’s Algarve and Bailey cushions in sumptuous silk feature turquoise teamed with oranges, browns and yellows, and with blues, greens and silvery greys.

chests of drawer
Sea Shore Chest, £345, The French Bedroom Company

For bedrooms and bathrooms, the Sea Shore Chest in aqua blue from the French Bedroom Company has capacious drawers to store towels or clothes. And the delicate Minima Jar with matching tumblers from 95% Danish is perfect for the bedside table. The Doux Billets De Clement cabinet from Sweetpea & Willow provides elegant storage for toiletries and trinkets, while the Aqua Marine furniture range includes console tables, chests and chairs. Accessorise with a contemporary turquoise City Vase or a traditional Crackle Bowl from Oliver Bonas.

This really is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to turquoise furnishings. There’s an ocean of choice to dip into, full of turquoise treasures to enliven your home and sooth your spirits.

Trend Watch: Pastel Colours

by Emma Foale on June 24, 2010
Luella Spring/Summer 10, elleuk.com

Soft pastel hues are on trend this summer to bring a pretty palette of colour to your home.

Sorbet shades will melt your heart this season with delectable pastel hues returning to the catwalks. With fashion influences filtering into interior design you have the opportunity to bring a soft and serene look into your home, with everything from fabrics and furniture, to wallpaper and lighting. Pastel shades are timeless because they are diverse and can be easily combined with bold patterns, colours or textures to bring an updated look to your home.

Duck egg blue in particular has become one of the most popular pastel tones used in interior design because of the innocent and delicate mood it creates. Bloom wallpaper from Graham and Brown combines pretty pink flowers with duck egg for a look which is inspired by beautiful vintage illustrations, absolutely perfect for a romantic bedroom. Pastel colours are an excellent choice for small bedrooms or bathrooms, or even narrow hallways, because their pale palette creates the illusion of space and will make a room feel airy and light. The tsuga wallcoverings collection from Designers Guild offers a wide choice of pastel colours such as patina blossom and patina aqua. These will create a tranquil atmosphere in any living or dining area. Alternatively, use paint in pastel shades to blend a theme together; you will find a variety of options from soft coral to spring blush at dulux.co.uk.

Bloom wallpaper, £23 per roll, Graham and Brown

Avoid making your interior look too outdated by using a mismatch of pastel hues with floral patterns to bring a fresh and modern twist. Fabric is great for this effect; try the English rose oil tablecloth from The Contemporary Home to liven up your kitchen or dining room. The Everyday blue linen duvet cover from Feather and Black made from Egyptian cotton will give a fresh and clean look to any bedroom. Pastels work well in bedrooms to create a relaxing and calming mood, and this is why they are popular choice for decorating children’s rooms in too. The Rosalina cushion from Laura Ashley also comes in a beautiful duck egg blue and the rose petal effect enhances this natural look and feel. The Victoria pastel cushion covers from Kaleidoscope are a perfect illustration of how mellow yellow can brighten up any white-washed room. Also, for those lovely summer evenings, try pastel coloured curtains let the sun shine into your room to give glowing warmth.

chests of drawer
Champétre Chest 3 drawer, £3950, Flemington Design

You can bring a nostalgic feel reminiscent of the Rococo period by combining powdered lilac and rose hues. The Champétre Chest 3 drawer from Flemington Design brings a ‘pretty in pink’ sense of feminine glamour to your bedroom with its powder pink lustre finish. Pastel colours bring a spacious feel to any room when used on walls and floors, but if you want to use pastels elsewhere try the Silk lampshades from Graham and Green. These will bring a sensual soft pastel glow to any bedroom or living area, and they come in three silky shades to compliment any decor. The white cherry blossom design enhances their natural finish and gives a modern touch to the style of your home. I love the Candy Flower rug from the Rug Company because its feminine florals and the beauty of its gorgeous pastel shades are perfect to bring summery warmth to your living area.

So sit back and relax; pour yourself a refreshing drink or devour a home-made ice cream in one of these popsicle pink Ice cream sundae bowls from Oliver Bonas. Amongst furnishings and accessories of the most calming and serene shades you will be all set for summer.

Trend Watch: Vintage Florals

by Catherine Gregg on June 24, 2010
Patchwork tiles from the Vintage Collection, from £4 per tile, Welbeck Tiles

Interior decor is flourishing with florals this spring, with vintage-inspired patterns in full bloom.

Vintage-inspired florals have been blossoming over the catwalks and clothes shops for a while now, and it’s no surprise that the seeds have been sown in the world of interiors too. Interior decor is flourishing with florals this spring, with vintage-inspired patterns in full bloom.

In interior design, as in dress, different floral prints are layered together, or teamed with anything from paisley swirls, to spots, stripes and geometric patterns. There’s plenty of scope to garland your home in the floral fashion. Embrace the nostalgic mood with muted colours and cottage-garden blooms, or give faded florals a contemporary twist by adding graphic pattern and vibrant hues.

Cath Kidston’s been sowing the seeds of this trend since the early ’90s, with furnishing fabrics and a whole array of home accessories in distinctive floral prints. Cabbages & Roses has quite literally made its name in this patch, with everything from bed linen to kitchenware in glorious garden blooms. And having been founded by Laura Ashley’s husband, it’s only natural that Elanbach should have a full crop of flowers this season. Try the Seaside and Vintage Floral collections for fabrics and wallpapers.

Constance Multi square cushion, £40, Cabbages & Roses

Another perennial source for prints, Liberty has a new range of cushions made up in its famous floral fabrics. And if you’re going for a combination of vintage florals and contemporary geometric patterns, check out the Pavilion and Darly collections at Designers Guild. But pick of the bunch has to be Welbeck Tiles’ fabulous Vintage Collection. Freshen up your bathroom or kitchen with the vintage Roses or floral Patchwork tiles. Tiles within each range are designed to mixed and matched, to create an eclectic and individual vintage look. I’m going to be picking my favourites to use as coasters.

Vintage florals are thriving on Furnish, with an abundance of designers cultivating the trend. The Contemporary Home has come over all nostalgic with a floral enamelware jug, pressed glass cake stands, and serving dishes featuring wild strawberries and roses. Available at Liberty, John Derian’s Geranium and Lily plates are divine, the faded floral centrepieces encircled by a silvered spider’s web, with the spider herself perched on the rim.

Constance Mono Pink, Cerise Stripe, and Paris Rose square cushions, £40 each, Cabbages & Roses

Also at Liberty, Burleigh’s blue and white earthenware celebrates English country-house style. But if you don’t feel that grown up yet, check out the playful Vintage Tea Party crockery at The Orchard. And you can forget breakages with Ella Doran’s melamine Vintage Plates tray. Retire to your boudoir with Graham & Green’s fabulous brown and blush pink Fifties Floral Print cushions, in sumptuous velvet. But if you thought the vintage floral trend was all about chintzy fabrics and girly colours, think again, with Selina Rose’s Bloom rug at BODIE and FOU. Striking cut outs of roses and foliage garland the edges of the black felt rug.

Spruce up your home and bring it into bloom with vintage florals. There’s room play around with patterns and colourways to get a look that suits your style.

Trend Watch: Block colour

by Emma Foale on June 23, 2010
Richard Nicoll, Spring/Summer 09, vogue.co.uk

From the catwalk to your home, try decorating in block colour to bring a fresh and vibrant look.

With block colour making a statement on the catwalk this season, designers have taken inspiration and brought a mix of bold and daring colours to the forefront of interior style. Not only can you now dress and feel confident, but you can bring a strong, sophisticated look to your home without the fuss of busy patterns or prints.

When it comes to blocking, normal colour rules don’t apply so there’s no need to be cautious with clashing colours. This season the colours on trend include oranges, red and hot pinks, bringing a lively and warm feel to your home.

Add confident colour blocks to inspire different moods or themes in the room you are decorating. The bright, tangerine orange Moroccan leather pouffe is one of a range of vibrant colours available from Rockett St George, and its leather exterior will add texture and comfort to your living area. The bold orange and red coloured Bute Tiree wool fabric offset the curvaceous shape of the 2010 Flow Sofa by Kay and Stemmer from Heal’s, making it feel like a warm and welcoming place to snuggle up on. Modular furniture like the Patchwork sofa collection by Pascal Mourgue for Ligne Roset helps build up layers of colour in your living room with its aubergine and raspberry tones.

Patchwork sofa by Pascal Mourgue for Ligne Roset, from £3,073

There are a variety of ways in which you can use colour blocking on your walls, for example choose from stripes, squares, rectangles, or circles to highlight a feature wall or to simply dress an empty wall. Graham and Brown’s rich plain Evita wallpaper will liven up and dramatise a bedroom, and can be effectively contrasted with the fabric on your cushions and blinds, or rugs and throws. Experiment with pinks and purples against a vibrant lime green like this Vermont Roman blind from Tuiss for an exotic warmth of colour. Break up colour blocks with cream, black or grey, for example use a couple of Black Montague Silk Cushions from Heal’s to give a mysterious look and contrast to your colour scheme.

Moroccan Leather Pouffe, £100, Rockett St George

Rothko famously experimented with block colour on canvas to give the viewer an intense experience of colour and emotion. For a colour blocking effect that can be easily removed use wall art, canvases or prints like this orange and yellow Rothko print from art.co.uk. Also, the calming and serene tones in this Striped blanket from Designers Guild, can be matched with the Cietti aqua cushion to bring unity and a contemporary feel.

Whether you want to update your style or introduce a new theme use colour with style and confidence to get the best from your interior.

Buyer's guide to sofas

by Emma Foale on June 22, 2010
B&B Italia Andy Sofa, £4465, Utility

Comfort comes in all shapes and sizes so read our buyers guide to find the right sofa for you.

Your sofa will be one of the biggest investments you make for your home, but there’s no need to worry because there’s a wide variety of versatile designs to accommodate your needs. You don’t have to sacrifice style to find something that’s both comfortable and cosy. Whatever design you choose it can enhance your space whether it’s a versatile modular sofa or a simple yet idyllic loveseat. This guide aims to help you make the right choices for your room as well as for your own personal comfort.

Large sofas

If you have a spacious living space then you have the perfect opportunity to indulge in a large sofa. Measuring your space is a good idea before you buy, and make sure that your sofa isn’t going to dwarf your other furnishings. Large sofas are great as corner units, for example The Flexform from the Long Island Corner Sofa Group. This has removable upholstery in either fabric or leather, which makes it easier to clean and more durable. The Ligne Roset Togo is an iconic design made from foam to provide a classic, cosy look and feel.

Pros: Good for families and they work well as a feature piece in a larger living area.

Cons: Difficult to move around and can take up a lot of space.

Small sofas

Small sofas will accommodate 2 people; and if you want to give your room a more spacious feel then consider a sofa that has narrower arms. The Heal’s House sofa range includes sofas with a slim arm profile and natural oak feet to give an understated elegance. For the cosiest of seats try a loveseat or ‘snuggler’ which is slightly smaller than a two seater sofa. For a wide selection try loveseats.co.uk, or the Loveseat or Showtime Poltrona Sofa from Leigh Harmer. This design of sofa is perfect for awkward corners and has an aesthetically pleasing shape.

Pros: They can make you room feel more spacious and they are ideal for a couple wanting to snuggle up in front of the TV.

Cons: Less seating space if you have guests; not ideal for lying down on.

Love seat by IPE Cavalli, £3184.95, Leigh Harmer

Sofa beds

Sofa beds are great for lounges, spare rooms or bedrooms, and they’re superb space savers. For a fabulous variety, Go Modern supply sofa beds suitable for children’s bedrooms, like the playful Fata sofa bed, or sophisticated styles like the Fusion Glam sofa bed for a glamorous living room. These foam beds are suitable for occasional use, and prove that style and comfort don’t need to be sacrificed for convenience and practicality. The Milano bedding collection from Bonbon Trading is great for sofas that are simply transformed into beds without any fuss.

Pros: Ideal for convenience; comfortable for either sitting or sleeping. They are functional and great space-savers.

Cons: Depending on how much you spend, they can be quite heavy and some with hard metal bases can be uncomfortable.

Fabric sofas

Choose fabric that will suit your lifestyle; textured fabric can give a warmer feel and can be more practical because it will show less wear than smooth fabric in the long term. Popular textured fabrics include chenille, velvet, micro-fibre and boucle. The Manhattan sofa from Black Orchid Interiors is upholstered in sumptuous black velvet and features contrasting black faux suede seat cushions. Choose the colour of your sofa carefully; neutral or pastel shades are a good choice. If you go for pattern, make sure you’ll love it in the long term, because styles of pattern can go out of date quickly. With a plainer sofa you can easily update the look and use bolder colour with decorative cushions and throws.

Pros: There are a wide range of colours available, and they have washable covers which makes them are a great choice for a family with young children and pets.

Cons: Stains will show up on plain fabrics.

Jaco sofa, price on request, Bonbon Trading Ltd

Leather sofas

Leather sofas are available in traditional or contemporary designs, and they have become an increasingly popular choice because they age well and they are easier to clean than fabric. If you have light coloured walls then darker leather, like the Lola three seat sofa from sofa.com, will make a statement, as brighter walls can often overpower furniture. Denelli Living also offers a collection of contemporary leather sofas in different styles and colours. Brown or light coloured leather will suit most rooms, and you can introduce colour with a scattering of cushions.

Pros: It is easy to clean, and although it can be expensive it is very durable. Leather is soft and it will keep you warm in the winter and cool in summer.

Cons: It needs to be treated, and they aren’t ideal for families with children or pets.

Modular sofas

This type of furniture is fashionable and impressive in large rooms. You can effectively choose your sofa to be tailor-made for your own living area, but you do need a big space to accommodate them. For a grand selection of modular furniture, Utility supply sophisticated styles that can be combined in different ways to furnish your room. Our practical advice would be to try before you buy because although modern low back styles look nice they may not provide you with the best back support. The B&B Italia Andy Sofa is designed to meet a host of comfort and posture requirements with a range of features that allow you to turn this sofa into an adaptable chaise longue or even a bed. Ligne Roset’s collection of upholstery includes modular designs from established and emerging designers, giving you a stylish and modern look combined with the luxurious comfort of a large sofa.

Pros: Flexible and multi-functional because it can be used in large or smaller configurations.

Cons: You need a large space to fit it in and they can cost a lot.

With such a wide range on the market, you are literally spoilt for choice when it comes to finding the perfect sofa for your home. From modular sofas to loveseats, leather to fabric there really are so many options to suit your style, and ultimately to enhance your way of living in the most comforting way possible.

Trend Watch: Oversized interior design

by Catherine Gregg on June 22, 2010
floor lamp
Giant Anglepoise, £2200, Heal’s

We all know about oversized handbags that make you look thinner, but what about oversized interior design?

The trend for large-scale furniture and accessories is huge for 2010. From headboards to mirrors, and lamps to chairs, interior designers are thinking big and playing with proportion. Home furnishings are entering the surreal, with designers taking an Alice in Wonderland approach to scale.

Anglepoise created an enormous floor-standing version of its iconic desk lamp for the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre (remember the Big Friendly Giant?). A second one sold at a charity auction to film director and all-round oddball, Tim Burton, and the Giant Anglepoise has now been put into full-scale production. Serralunga has commissioned some of the world’s leading designers to create a range of outsized vases and pots, for interior and exterior use. Standing at two metres tall, the supersized Holly All Vase by Philippe Starck is a sculptural statement as well as seat.

wall clock
Diamantini & Domeniconi Wall Clock, £380, Rockett St George

The enchanting appeal of these oversize objects, of escaping the real for the realms of fantasy, is as much to do with the world of hotels as the landscape of fairy-tales. Indulgent oversized furnishings are an established feature of luxurious hotel rooms, spaces synonymous with escapism. But supersized style is coming home, and there are big benefits to going upscale.

With the popularity of open-plan living, an outsized statement piece is a great way to add visual impact if your space lacks a natural focal point. Equally, an oversized mirror in a small room will instantly add depth and maximise on light, creating the illusion of extra space. An expansive armchair creates a welcoming retreat, and an extra-large lamp adds a sense of drama to a room. But the best thing about going large is the playful absurdity of bizarre proportions, introducing a quirky sense of fun to your interior scheme. With big pieces that’ll draw the eye it’s important to go for a good quality finish. And be selective; avoid a themed ‘house of fun’ look by choosing accent pieces and a complementary colour scheme.

Brands and boutiques on Furnish are playing with proportion in big way. Follow the White Rabbit into Wonderland with Heal’s giant fob watch alarm clock by Newgate Empire. You’ll never be late again. Or net two trends at once with an enormous knitted Wall Clock by Diamantini & Domeniconi Gomitolo at Rockett St George. Designed as a room within a room, escape from the everyday into Vitra’s Alcove Sofa by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec at Utility. Get into a spin on the Waltzer Loveseat at Heal’s or sink into the Nest Loveseat at the Lollipop Shoppe.

Princesse Mirror, £340, Brissi

Taking their cue from Anglepoise, you can find outsize floor-standing desk lamps at Graham & Green (the brilliantly named Hercules), Rockett St George and Oliver Bonas. Or go for another supersized classic with the Mega Tolomeo floor lamp at Utility. For overhead lighting check out the industrial Titan pendant from Original BTC and Sofie Refer’s Mega Bulb at 95% Danish. Step into a fairy-tale with Brissi’s Princesse Mirror or the supersize Soho. Not strictly oversize, a life size Horse Floor Lamp by Moooi from Utility is bound to make a big impression.

Scale up your style and make a supersize statement.

Buyers Guide: Garden Furniture

by Catherine Gregg on June 21, 2010
Ami armchairs by Francesco Rota, £1970, Exterior | Interior [www.exterior-interior.com]

Spruce up your outdoor space with our buyers guide to garden furniture

We’ve had our first taste of summer and with the Chelsea Flower Show opening its doors last week, our minds have turned to gardens. Clueless about plants and flowers, we’ve stuck to what we know best and put together a buyers guide to garden furniture to help you make the most of your outdoor space. Spruce up your garden and enjoy the sun in comfort and style.

Wooden Furniture

Wooden furniture is a popular choice, being sympathetic to the surroundings of the garden. A beautiful natural, tactile and warm material, there’s something really inviting about wooden furniture. But going for wood doesn’t mean you can’t get a contemporary high-style look. Encompass has some fabulously sleek wooden furniture, including chairs, tables and benches. Habitat is particularly good on wood this season with some fantastic chairs, tables and loungers. Softwood furniture requires regular sealing or repainting to protect it from the elements and wicker works best in covered areas. Hardwood is more durable but will still require maintenance and should be covered with tarp in the winter months.

Pros: Natural material in keeping with the garden environment; huge variety of styles and timbers

Cons: requires regular resealing, especially softwood; can be bulky and difficult to store

Metal Furniture

Metal furniture is available in traditional or modern styles and makes a lovely contrast with the natural surroundings of your garden. Ensure that whatever you buy has a rust resistant coating. Aluminium is a popular choice because it doesn’t rust. Wrought iron has a beautiful traditional look but can be very heavy and difficult to store. The Worm that Turned stocks a great selection of Fermob’s metal garden furniture, available in 24 colours from subtle greens to vibrant pinks. Comprising chairs, tables, swing seats and benches, each collection has its own style identity and each piece its own purpose. Mix and match the colours or use different styles in different areas of the garden. In powder-coated steel with UV and rust protection, Fermob furniture is built to last.

Pros: great range of styles and finishes; stain resistant and easily cleaned

Cons: often not as comfortable as wood; prone to scratches and therefore rust

garden bench
English Oak garden loveseat/bench, £1750, In Garden [www.ingarden.co.uk]

Folding furniture

Folding furniture is particularly good in small gardens and can be stored easily in bad weather. Deckchairs have a lovely nostalgic look to them and there are plenty of folding tables and chairs on the market in both metal and wood. The great thing about folding furniture is its versatility and portability. Heal’s folding Flip chairs and loungers are great. Lightweight and comfortable, they’ve got carrying handles so you can move them around the garden to catch the sun.

Pros: portable and easily stored; great choice of styles and materials

Cons: folding tables tend to be smaller than solid varieties; generally speaking, foldable furniture is not as strong as solid furniture

Synthetic Wicker

Synthetic resin wicker furniture combines the traditional charm of wicker with the durability and weather resistance of modern materials. Unlike wood wicker, the resin variety is designed to withstand the elements and will last for years with almost no upkeep. It’s available in all sorts of colours and, because the colour is bonded into the material itself rather than painted on, it won’t fade or peel. Exterior | Interior and In Garden have fabulous ranges of synthetic wicker lounge sets and daybeds with comfortable cushions. Synthetic wicker is available in traditional styles as well as the more contemporary modular lounge sets and sofas. Wicker furniture offers the luxury of real comfort outdoors.

Pros: durable and weather resistant; very comfortable

Cons: can be bulky and difficult to store; don’t leave the cushions out in the rain!

Handmade Indian parasol in Royal Purple, £165, In Garden [www.ingarden.co.uk]

Colourful Furniture

Even if you’re not in the least green fingered, colourful furniture will brighten up your garden and create an inviting outdoor space. Plastic, power-coated metal, and synthetic wicker chairs and tables are available in a great selection of colours. The sculptural plastic Disk chair at Exterior | Interior is fabulous. And there are plenty of colourful hammocks and weatherproof beanbags on the market. Cuprinol’s Garden Shades and Heritage Shades paints are suitable for all garden wood, including furniture. Or simply add some colourful cushions and seat pads.

Pros: brightens up the garden; available in all sorts of materials and styles

Cons: ensure to go for something fade resistant; wood will need regular repainting


Parasols, shade sails and garden lighting will add the finishing touches to your outdoor space. Trolleys and side tables are also great for barbeque parties. Encompass is really good on occasional furniture as has a fabulous range of barbeques and fires. Try Heal’s for hanging lanterns and garden flares. In Garden has a great range of parasols and shade sails, including decorative Indian parasols in jewel-like colours with aluminium cutwork fringing. Mirrors are also a lovely feature outside and have a secret garden feel. Try Graham & Green’s Arched Window mirror or the Rustic Louvre mirror, complete with shutters, at The Worm that Turned.

Let’s hope we’re in for a sizzling barbeque season and the sun is here to stay.

Our weekly pick of interiors blogs… Jun 19th

by Catherine Gregg on June 19, 2010
step ladder
Loving the ladder in this fabulous library/dining room on Brilliant Asylum

We’ve been trawling the internet again this week, netting a fine catch of interiors blogs to share with you.

First up, the brilliant, Brilliant Asylum, brought to you from someone, somewhere in Atlanta. That someone is female but, as far as I can tell, writes her well-informed posts anonymously. I really enjoyed this review of a new Barcelona hotel and whistle-stop tour of the architectural delights of the city. While it’s interiors focussed, you can find all sorts on here, from art, architecture and design, to books, music and fashion. It’s all written about with insider knowledge of the subject but in a really accessible way. Being slightly obsessed with the comings and goings of my own cat, I laughed at this post about hers.

A beautiful living room designed by Tom Whealdon on Elements of Style

Next up Elements of Style, put together by fashion and interiors stylist Erin Gates. Anyone who gets to meet prince of pots Jonathan Adler must be doing something right. She forgot her camera and had to use a disposable one but you can see the photos here. And here’s the write up, with a mini interview in which Adler confesses to idolising Paul Smith. I’m agog. I think I’d die of excitement if I saw them in the same room. Elsewhere, we get updates on Erin’s design projects, home styling inspiration, fantastic interiors and great new home furnishings. A bit too much fashion (and specifically Sex & the City stuff) for my liking, but then she is a stylist, and they are nice clothes.

An intoxicating bar interior on MA Belle

Although there’s been a lull in posts from this next blog, MA Belle, it’s still worth a look, if only for the totally fabulous photographs of interiors. A New York based blogger, Michelle Adams recently founded a new interiors and lifestyle magazine, Lonny, which is probably the reason behind the lull. And judging from the amazing photos, the new kid on the block looks like a great read. Michelle also runs textile design company Rubie Green, so you can hardly blame her for being a bit slack on the updates. And with all those projects on the go, there’s sure to be interesting posts to come.

As always, get in touch if you write your own interiors blog and we’ll flag it up next time.

How to create... a retro living room

by Emma Foale on June 18, 2010
Trippy wallpaper, £25 a roll, Graham and Brown

Create your own retro living room with our suggestions ranging from bold wallpaper to quirky furniture pieces and accessories.

If you often find yourself reminiscing and wishing that you could travel back to the 1950’s or 60’s, then a retro interior may be exactly what you’re looking for. Interior design during this period was very kitsch, and in interior design today, this style is reproduced but with a unique and quirky twist. Why not take inspiration and go all-out with the great range of retro products, available on Furnish and from other suppliers, to bring a retro feel to your own living room.

You don’t need travel back in time in order to give your living room a groovy, retro makeover. With a bit of imagination and the great freedom of choice there is with a vast array of products to help bring a burst of bold colour and dizzy patterns to your home. Bring an outdated but fresh and modern look to your lounge with Trippy wallpaper from Graham & Brown. The psychedelic pattern is symbolic of the post-war 50’s and 60’s when there was a transition in design to brighter and bolder colours. Or decorate your walls with Illuminate wallpaper, made by Harlequin at wallpaper direct which features a selection of stylised lampshades including the 50’s iconic Artichoke light.

Retro art was a huge inspiration to what soon became known as pop art; one of the most popular art movements that revolutionalised design in the twentieth century. The quirky Fat owl cushion from Hunkydory Home is an example of how iconic designs from Andy Warhol can inspire you to experiment with pattern and colour in your lounge. This handmade funky owl print in blue and mustard, and combined with apples and pears, is a perfect accessory to add some fun to your new retro décor. Unikko fabric from Marimekko uses a bold floral pattern in bright and vibrant colours which would work well as cushion covers or for an even bolder statement use it to cover your sofa. There is also more in the selection of fabrics and textiles from Marimekko that would suit this look.

Libby II Chair, contact for price, The Baobab Tree

Most retro furniture that you get today from markets are not authentic pieces from the past, however there are still some real vintage, classic pieces out there waiting to be found. The Old Cinema [http://www.theoldcinema.co.uk/] offers a collection of period antiques from around the world, and their 1970’s Retro G-Plan Sideboard, made from teak, is a must for anyone who loves one off pieces. This type of furniture doesn’t come cheap, but you get what you pay for and I certainly wouldn’t mind spending my precious pounds on the Libby II chair from thebaobabtree.co.uk. Abstract design, polished chrome and rounded corners all define retro furniture, so if you’d prefer to go retro with more of a modern twist, the Round art deco side table from Graham and Green could be for you. It is connected by four curvy, stylised mirror stems which modernise your room whilst also serving as a timeless glass furnishing, neutral enough for you to experiment with bolder colour elsewhere.

For a retro look with clean, finished modern lines for your living area then laminate surfaces and vinyl are great and practical materials to achieve just this. Why not try Amtico Linear Graphite effect vinyl tiles from flooringsupplies.co.uk, their warm palette and detailed stripes create a funky yet sleek retro feel making them the perfect choice for your living room. Add texture and dimension to your room with the Dahlia rug from BODIE and FOU. The design uses traditionally retro geometric patterns but gives it a modern revamp with vibrant colour and expression.

In my opinion, a retro living room would not be absolute without one of these; the 1950's Silver Dreyfuss telephone by Wild and Wolf from Heal’s which encompasses this iconic decade. It comes with an authentic heavyweight handset, and so as not to disappoint, it even has an original bell ring. If you like to be reminded of times gone by take a look at the Newgate Postmaster Architecture wall clock from Heal’s. This pop art inspired piece celebrates everyday objects and turns them into iconic symbols. It uses retro style numbers that aren’t fixed so you can choose any combination you would like, making it both a playful and kooky accessory for your home. These characteristics are typical of the retro style yet they emphasise how advanced modern technology has become. Products such as these illustrate how contemporary, retro design can be just as much about nostalgia and abstraction as they are about modernising your home in an inventive way. The Orla Kiely multi-stem rug from Heal’s is perfect for decorating your living room floor with a simple yet effective retro design. It has such a subtle yet intrepid colour palette which, with its mixed pattern design, creates a classic appearance for your living space. It is also made from luxurious soft New Zealand wool that feels incredibly comforting underfoot.

sideboards and display cabinet
1970’s Retro G-Plan Sideboard, £375, The Old Cinema

Light up your retro inspired lounge with Hunkydory Home’s Vintage flowers drum pendant lampshade. You can’t afford to be shy with pattern when it comes to being retro, and with this original 1970’s floral fabric in shades of vibrant yellow, orange and brown, your room will be transformed from dull and boring into something from ‘That ‘70’s Show’. If however, you’d prefer a more subtle approach, then you are bound to love the polished chrome used to produce the Floss chandelier 2097 from Utility, which is a common feature of retro designs. Its futuristic name is a reflection of its modern, sleek finish yet it also has a timeless appearance and its bold statement size gives it a real sense of belonging to a devoted 50’s retro living room.

Trend Watch: Nautical

by Catherine Gregg on June 17, 2010
Seaside Fabric Collection by Emma Shuckburgh, from £25 per metre, Elanbach

With sailor stripes and maritime motifs still riding high on the fashion waves, interior designers have dropped anchor and climbed aboard.

With sailor stripes and maritime motifs still riding high on the fashion waves, interior designers have dropped anchor and climbed aboard. Buoyed up by catwalk fashion, the world of interiors is awash with seafaring style this spring. Interior design is no galley slave, but when a fashion trend is this strong, for this long, it’s bound to influence the way we decorate as well as the way we dress.

Indigo blue is the mainstay of the nautical trend in interiors, with ticking stripes and maritime details paired with anything from washed-out florals to high-impact pattern. Go for a classic naval look with indigo, white, and gold, or channel the laidback calm of the seaside with muted stripes and vintage-inspired florals. From ocean-going glamour to pared down chic there’s a nautical niche to suit your style. And with everything from furniture and fabrics, to tableware and accessories following the trend, it’s easy to dress your home in the maritime mode.

For a laidback look, the first port of call has to be Ian Mankin. Renowned for relaxed stripes in cotton, linen and now oilcloth, Mankin fabrics are accompanied by a fabulous range of soft furnishings and kitchen accessories. The Union Jack cushions are sure to ward off pirates on the high seas. For bed linen, try the Newquay Collection at Jigsaw, available in a subtle dusty pink or smoke and white stripe. Elanbach [http://www.elanbach.com] is fantastic for wallpapers and upholsteries expressly designed to be mixed and matched. Try the Vintage Floral, Seaside, and Spa collections for shipshape stripes and cottage-garden blooms.

Clements Ribeiro Ready-To-Wear Collection, Spring/Summer 2010, at London Fashion Week, pictured on elleuk.com

If you’re more ocean-liner than sailing regatta, dive into Le Grand Hotel collection at Ralph Lauren Home. With classical furniture, fabrics and accessories in a refined maritime palette of navy, white, cream and gold, Le Grand Hotel is seafaring at its most sophisticated. If the Cannes Gueridon Table doesn’t inspire a fluttering heart and a ‘Hello sailor’, I’m sunk. But if you’re looking for something a little more rustic, try La Plage, Le Grand Hotel’s bohemian sister. In a palette of inky indigos and faded blues, vintage reds and chalky neutrals, this collection is barefoot in the sand rather than cocktails with the captain.

OKA is channelling the nautical trend through a global lens, with stripes sharing a platform with Persian, Indian and Oriental-inspired prints. Complete with carrying handles, OKA’s Chinese Wooden Trunks are finished in a range of maritime colours and lined with Chinese patterned paper. Perfect for the intrepid traveller. But don’t set off just yet because they’re available to view on Furnish. Pair with the paisley Chain Stitch rug in blue and cream, continuing the ocean-going theme and maritime palette with Ambala and Cimkent cushion covers.

Fish Eye Convex Mirror, £45, Rose & Grey

There are plenty of nautical-inspired pieces elsewhere on Furnish, whichever style floats your boat. Eat at the captain’s table with Sophie Conran’s tactile Portmerion dinnerware, or rule the waves with Royal Stafford’s Cool Britannia range, both at Heal’s. Add a splash of bold colour with the Neo Occasional Chair at Lockwood Design, upholstered in a fabulous fisherman’s yellow. And relax in ocean-going style with the Baroque Wing Chair in black mahogany and cream velvet, from Sweet Pea and Willow, or the Strasbourg Chair at Brissi, upholstered in storm grey.

The nautical trend has a definite feeling of nostalgia to it, but if modern’s more your style, check out Thomas Pedersen’s stunning Wooden Stingray chair at the Lollipop Shoppe. OKA’s tripod Shipper Floor Lamp and Garden Trading’s pendant Fishing Light have authentic nautical detailing and are perfect for stormy seas. Or summon the romance of Venus with the Shell Candle wall sconces at Rockett St George. Finally, make sure you’re fit to go ashore with Graham & Green’s fantastic black and gilt Porthole wall mirrors. ‘Land Ahoy!’

How to create... a romantic bedroom

by Emma Foale on June 16, 2010
Honesty wallpaper, £23 per roll, Graham and Brown

A romantic bedroom should evoke intimacy, passion, and most importantly charm. So, design your dream romantic boudoir with our ‘How to’ guide.

Fairy-tales and dreams can come true with a few striking furniture pieces, the right lighting and a little imagination. You don’t need to spend a fortune, and your bedroom doesn’t need to be lost in rose petals for this to work. In fact a romantic bedroom can be achieved simply by adding subtle accessories and personal touches which will create a sense of comfort and indulgence.

Your wallpaper can determine the overall romantic mood of your room, and using a feature wall can accentuate a theme or colour that will inspire a passionate feel. Eve and Honesty wallpaper from the collection at Graham and Brown use soft pastel colours and feminine floral patterns to create a sensual atmosphere. Or if you want to be more daring with colour, the Timorous Beasties Thistle wallpaper has a provocative texture, and its powerful fuchsia colour will ignite a sense of passion and beauty into your bedroom.

bedside table
Cream French Carved bedside table, £225, Sweetpea and Willow.

Furniture is essential for making sure you have somewhere to keep your personal belongings, and you can find many pieces that will make the perfect statement in a romantic bedroom. I love the collection of furniture from Sweet Pea and Willow, for example the Classical White Marianne Rattan bed is a beautifully carved and intricately detailed bed made from antique white rattan. Using white in a bedroom suggests innocence and purity and gives you the opportunity to use bolder colour elsewhere in your room. For a bed that exudes luxury, try the Pearl velvet bed which is made from gorgeous velvet upholstery. If you’re looking for an idyllic bedside table then Cream French Carved Jonelle bedside table is a fabulous choice. Inspired by Eighteenth century French art and rococo style, this bedside table in antique cream will give your boudoir a romantic fairytale ambiance.

Wool Love cushions, £60 each, Jan Constantine collection from Occa Home

Love is all about appreciating the little things in life, so fill your bedroom with lots of your favourite gifts and memories. Accessories can bring the overall theme or mood of a room together, for example share your love and comfort with Jan Constantine’s collection of cushions from Occa Home, including the Wool Love cushions available in red and cream. Remember the times you have shared with your loved one with the Silver heart crown photo frame from Graham and Green. You can also display flowers in this elegant, LSA Circa vase from Red Candy. Traditionally the colour of love, red symbolises desire and passion, so use this colour in your bedroom for romantic impact and a warm feel.

Romantic lighting will help set the right mood, whether it is sensual, or cosy and relaxed, there are plenty of ways to give your bedroom an enchanting look. The pink acrylic Shocking chandelier from The French Bedroom Company will bring fun and colour to your room even without the light on. For low key lighting try the Love heart tea lights from Oliver Bonas; these can be placed around your room for a romantic night in. The intricately perforated silver metal of the Zenza lamp from Plumo has large crystal facetted clear stones that are strikingly beautiful, and will give a soft star light effect.

Don’t be afraid to go with your heart in making decisions on the design of your bedroom, after all you want it to be the most private and personal place in your home.

Buyers guide to... Flooring

by Catherine Gregg on June 16, 2010
Wool Chicago carpet in Chocolate, £80 per sqm, Crucial Trading [www.crucial-trading.com]

Make the right choices with our buyers guide to flooring

As soon as you open a door and walk into a room, the floor is one of the first things you notice. Whichever flooring you choose, it’ll change the atmosphere of your space, whether it’s a bold statement in rubber or an understated carpet in natural seagrass. And because you’ll be walking on it everyday, it’s worth going for the best quality you can afford, whichever type you choose. Covering the most popular flooring types, this guide aims to help you make the right choices for your room as well as your personal style.

1. Wool

Wool carpet is especially good for bedrooms and living rooms, creating a feeling of homeliness and warmth. Stair runners are a great way to lead the eye and make a feature of your hallway, while carpeting only the upper floor creates a natural break from the hustle and bustle of your main living space and a more relaxed atmosphere upstairs. It may seem an unexciting choice, but there are some fantastic styles and colours on the market. Try Brintons Fine Carpet and Crucial Trading for excellent quality wool carpets, in a huge range of colours, patterns and weaves.

Pros: natural heat and noise insulation; soft underfoot; comforting and homely

Cons: spills and stains; collects dust and pet fur; requires regular vacuuming

2. Natural Plant Fibres

Carpets made from coir, sisal and seagrass are great for busy areas such as hallways and stairs, being tougher and more hardwearing than traditional tufted wool carpets. The exception is jute, which is softer, making it a good choice for bedrooms. Plant fibre carpets in their natural colours are subtle and understated, making it easy to furnish your room around them. The great thing about this type of flooring is the variation in texture and pattern produced by the different weaves. Crucial Trading has a fantastic selection of plant fibre carpets, including a herringbone weave in neutral seagrass with a green, blue or red weft, and a number of dyed sisal carpets, along with the usual natural colour palette.

Pros: hardwearing; understated; texturally interesting

Cons: limited colour range; less soft than wool pile; sensitive to moisture, making them unsuitable for use in bathrooms and kitchens

3. Rubber

Rubber flooring is so versatile it can be used almost anywhere in the home. Hardwearing and easily cleaned, it’s particularly good for busy areas such as hallways, and rooms where spillages are likely, such as kid’s bedrooms, studios, utility rooms, bathrooms and kitchens. A contemporary and stylish choice, rubber flooring goes really well with modern furnishings.

The Rubber Flooring Company has a fabulous range of vibrant, fade-resistant, colour options, available in smooth and soft sheets and tiles, round stud tiles with extra cushioning, and a fantastic new grid tile by Hemmingway Design. The vulcanised rubber is extremely durable, with a high level of impact absorbency. Another option is a resin floor with a cushioning rubber underlay. Puur’s [www.puur.uk.com] poured resin floors achieve a perfectly flat and slip-resistant surface, finished either matt or polished to a high lustre. For a natural alternative, try Marmoleum, which is made from linseed oil, wood flour, rosin, jute and limestone. Urbane Living has a great selection including brightly coloured chequerboard tiles.

Pros: huge range of colours; easily cleaned; extremely durable

Cons: ultra-modern - may not suit period homes

4. Luxury Vinyl

Vinyl is extremely practical, and can be great for kid’s rooms, bathrooms and kitchens. It has a bad reputation but if you go for a good quality supplier, such as Amtico or Karndean you can get great results. If, like me, you’ve got a problem with vinyl that mimics other materials, just stick to plain block colours. Amtico’s Abstract range is great and there are some really authentic plain tiles in the Stone range. Otherwise, there are plenty of effects that can be achieved in vinyl, from wood and ceramics to mosaic, marble and glass. These products combine the look of natural materials with the practicality and performance of vinyl.

Pros: durable; easy to clean; huge range of colours and styles

Cons: won’t add value to your home; doesn’t last like real wood or stone

Bubblegum Pink rubber stud tiles, £41.95 per sqm, The Rubber Flooring Company [www.therubberflooringcompany.co.uk]

5. Solid Wood

A solid wood floor is not only beautiful; it’s hardwearing and will add value to your home. It’ll improve with age and can be revived with re-sanding and refinishing to fit in with a new decorative scheme. Whether hard or softwood, parquet or plank, a solid wooden floor is the same material all the way through. It ages and evolves as you live with it and lasts for decades.

Solid wood flooring is available in a range of timbers offering a spectrum of natural colours, knots and grains. The most interesting timbers are Oak, Chestnut, Maple, Teak, Walnut and Merbau. A sensuous real wood floor brings natural warmth to a room. However, each timber has its own specific pros and cons. For example, Chestnut isn’t suitable for rooms entered directly from the outside, but is perfect for upstairs. Broadleaf Timber has a useful technical guide to choosing the right timber for your room.

Pros: long-lasting; improves with age; can be re-sanded and refinished

Cons: expensive; requires ongoing maintenance; light, temperature and moisture sensitive

6. Engineered Wood

Engineered wood flooring is a sandwich of plywood with a top layer of finish wood. The plywood is made up of several layers of Birch, laid at right angles with the grain running in opposite directions, giving dimensional strength to the sandwich. This also means that engineered wood stands up well in areas of moisture such as kitchens, bathrooms and basements. It won’t expand and contract like solid wood. Plywood makes up 80-90% of the board with a thinner layer of finish wood that you walk on. Engineered boards are available in the full range of solid wood timbers. The Natural Wood Floor Company has a great selection.

Pros: eco-friendly; won’t expand and contract; can be used in moisture prone areas

Cons: can be sanded only once or twice; prone to dents and scratches; light sensitive

7. Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood flooring has the distinctive patina of age, adding depth and character to a room. It’s also an environmentally friendly option. The same care should be taken as with solid wood, to ensure the timber is right for the room. Reclaimed wood is available in any number of styles, including parquet woodblocks. Often old growth timber, reclaimed wood has the advantage of being harder and more stable than younger wood. Urbane Living, Lassco and Retrouvius all have rotating stocks of reclaimed wood flooring.

Pros: characterful; eco-friendly; more stable than younger wood

Cons: often supplied unfinished; choice dependent on stock; supplied ‘as seen’ and not tailored to the size of your room

Navaho Collection by Neisha Crosland, £450 per sqm, De Ferranti {www.deferranti.com]

8. Stone

Stone is a hardwearing and practical flooring choice, particularly suited to hallways, bathrooms and kitchens, but equally attractive in living and dining rooms. Natural stone offers a broad spectrum of colours and surface details: from white to black, through beiges and greys, and from reasonably plain to extensively varied in tone and texture. Natural stones are given a range of finishes: a riven or antique finish will give a more rustic appearance while a polished or honed finish gives a classic yet modern feel to a room.

There’s little difference in durability between stones; the look you want from the stone is essentially more important than the type. Tile sizes range from the smallest mosaic to very large slabs. All natural stones are porous to varying degrees and must be sealed during the installation process to prevent staining and moisture absorption. Mandarin Stone has a fabulous range of natural stones, from limestone and marble, to granite, sandstone, travertine and slate.

Pros: beautiful natural material; will last decades; stain resistant when sealed

Cons: expensive, expert installation required; hard and cold underfoot; natural variation and ‘imperfections’ in the stones may not suit some tastes

9. Terracotta Tiles

From warm ochres, to rich reds and oranges, the inviting earthy tones of terracotta tiles make them ideal for hallways and kitchens as well as living and dining rooms. Low-maintenance and resilient, terracotta is another flooring type that improves and evolves with age. To ensure a long-lasting floor, the tiles must be sealed properly to prevent staining and moisture absorption. Fired Earth will professionally install a great range of terracotta tiles, including reclaimed, antiqued and handmade varieties. The square and rectangular tiles in the Romana range are used to create a geometric floor pattern.

Pros: hardwearing; rich earthy tones; warmer underfoot than ceramic tiles or stone

Cons: colour variation and rustic feel not to all tastes; hard underfoot; requires professional installation and sealing

10. Ceramic Tiles

Available in a huge variety of colours, patterns, textures and styles, ceramic floor tiles are a really versatile choice, suitable for any room. Ceramic tiles can be used to create breathtakingly beautiful floors and the design possibilities are almost limitless. Tough and easily cleaned, a ceramic floor is a great option for hallways, bathrooms and kitchens. Try Iris Ceramica for a fabulous selection of innovative textural tile designs. De Ferranti has a fantastic choice of patterned ceramic tiles, including a striking range by Neisha Crosland. De Ferranti’s ceramic tiles are handmade and hand-painted, many of them taking inspiration from historical sources.

Pros: huge variety in pattern, colour and texture; easy to clean; durable

Cons: cold and hard underfoot; requires professional installation; more expensive than terracotta

How to create... A Spa Bathroom

by Catherine Gregg on June 15, 2010
Original French double-ended copper bath with large roll, from £9500 + vat, The Water Monopoly

A Spa-inspired bathroom is the perfect retreat after a busy day, a haven of tranquillity. Shut the door and feel the stresses of the day drift away.

A Spa-inspired bathroom is the perfect retreat after a busy day, a restorative haven of tranquillity and calm. Shut the door, sink into a luxurious roll top bath and feel the stresses of the day drift away. Stand under an invigorating shower and emerge refreshed, with soft towels warming on a heated rail. A daily source of pleasure creating a sense of wellbeing, a luxurious bathroom is a worthwhile indulgence.

Bathroom Furniture

Nothing says luxury more than a glorious freestanding bathtub. A grand centrepiece for the bathroom, a freestanding tub offers total relaxation and indulgence. The Water Monopoly, Chadder & Co. and Drummonds all have fabulous ranges, including double-ended slipper baths, copper, stone, and traditional cast iron roll tops. If space is an issue, take a look at The Albion Bath Company’s diminutive ‘Tubby Tub’, a generously deep, capacious roll top bath only 4ft in length. Bathrooms International has an extensive range of space saving inset baths as well as invigorating whirlpool systems.

When it comes to blissful showers, Hansgrohe has mastered the art. Experience the restorative power of the Raindance overhead showers, with air infusers for a voluminous spray of water, and spray modes ranging from massage jets to the gentle patter of soft rain. And at nearly a metre square, with three different spray zones, the Shower Heaven ceiling plate indulges the senses with a totally luxurious drenching. For something a little more traditional try the fabulous freestanding Spittle shower at Drummonds or the Needleshower at Water Monopoly.

For beautiful basins and vanity units Chadder & Co., Drummonds and Water Monopoly specialise in elegant classic designs. A vanity unit with a double sink will give your bathroom an opulent feel. The Deco double basin at Water Monopoly and the Double Marble vanity suite at Drummonds are both stunning. If you’re going for a contemporary look, West One Bathrooms and Bathrooms International have a great choice of styles and materials, including stone, glass and metal.

Storage is important if you want your bathroom to be a tranquil and relaxing space. Fired Earth, CP Hart and West One Bathrooms all have great bathroom storage ranges. Bard & Brazier specialise in towel rails of excellent quality in modern and traditional designs. A heated towel rail is a luxurious treat, perfect after a long soak in the bath.

Free-standing Needleshower with spray bars and shower rose, finished in chrome, polished nickel or polished brass, £18995 + vat, The Water Monopoly


As well as creating a peaceful environment, neutral colours and soft shades will make the most of the available light from smaller bathroom windows. White tiles with black accents look particularly striking and marry well with traditional baths and basins. If you don’t want to tile the whole room, tiling halfway up the walls, creating a tiled splashback for the sink, and tiling up to the ceiling around the bath if you have an overhead shower, will protect the walls in areas most likely to get wet.

For ceilings and un-tiled areas choose paint designated for use in bathrooms, such as Farrow & Ball’s Modern Emulsion or Dulux Bathroom+. Wallpaper with a washable or vinyl finish is also suitable for use in bathrooms. Zoffany has a good range of vinyl wallpapers, which are more resistant to moisture. Putting wallpaper behind a glass or Perspex screen will provide extra protection.

Engineered wood, rubber, or tiles are all great options for flooring. Rubber floor tiles and sheets come in a huge range of colours and are suited to contemporary decorative schemes. Engineered wood floorboards won’t expand and contract like solid wood and look fabulous with freestanding baths. Tiles offer the widest choice in terms of material, colour and pattern. Fired Earth, De Ferranti and Villa Lagoon all have fantastic ranges.

Lighting is key to creating a beautifully relaxing space. If you go for overhead lighting, choose an enclosed glass shade rather than spotlights, and use a dimmer switch to set the mood. Wall sconces are often more atmospheric. Drummonds has a great selection of elegant bathroom wall lights, with a really decadent feel.

Double white arabascato marble vanity suite, from £5175 + vat, Drummonds


Create the perfect ambience for a tranquil retreat with candles, mirrors and softer than soft towels. Drummonds has a range of luxuriously thick super-soft towels in subtle colours. Water Monopoly has a particularly good range of bathroom accessories including soap dishes, sponge baskets and wall sconces to hold bottles. Rocket St George has a fabulous Shell Candle wall sconce in brass that would look beautiful with a copper bath. Decorative mirrors will reflect the flickering candlelight, creating a lovely relaxing atmosphere. And leafy plants will finish off the bathroom with a natural feeling of tranquillity.

Trend watch: Polka Dots

by Emma Foale on June 15, 2010
House of Holland, Spring/Summer 09, London Fashion Week, from marieclaire.co.uk

Go dotty with design and use polka dots to add a touch of fun to your interior.

When it comes to looking our best, we want to be spot on with the latest fashion trends. That’s right; polka dots took the spotlight on the catwalks, bringing with them a retro and playful feel. As ever, interior design isn’t far behind, and it has been influenced greatly by this classic, bold print.

In a fresh new approach, designers have rejuvenated the conventional dots by combining them with floral prints. Floral cushions from Cabbages and Roses in monochrome offer the perfect accompaniment to the Blue and Brown dot cushion from Hunkydory Home. They will create a flamboyant contrast, and prove that dots work well on fabrics to bring texture and a vibrant, summery feel to a room.

Another great example of how polka dots and floral designs can work well together is with the Poppy Liberty Fabric Cushion Liberty from Liberty and the Deckchair Spot cushion from Hunkydory Home. With their pretty pink colours, they stand apart as two dramatically vibrant cushions; these would work perfectly in a kitchen, living room or dining area to give a feminine and homely touch.

If you prefer the traditional polka dot style, why not opt for black and white polka dots for a classic Minnie-mouse inspired look. The Marimekko mug from Lollipop Shoppe is part of a new line of Marimekko tableware and pays homage to the polka dot style in its own unique way. Using these would be a great way to invite attention to your table. Also, monochrome dots give you the opportunity to use colour in other aspects of your room.

Poppy liberty fabric cushion, £69, Liberty, and Deckchair spot cushion, £18, Hunkydory Home.

Oliver Bonas has a quaint collection of gifts for the home that are available to view on Furnish. The porcelain china pale blue Tea bag tidy is an example of how pastel colours work well with polka dots. Using calm, subtle shades gives a contrast to the bold dots and creates a modern feel to your interior. The Retro milk pan in pink and white (also available in red and white) is an exciting and playful accessory for your kitchen.

We know that the best things in life are better enjoyed in moderation, and this is certainly the case with polka dots. However, Walldots wallpaper from Sheerhome takes its inspiration from polka dot design by repeating a bubble-like pattern on your walls. It provides an interesting backdrop to any room and is a slightly more detailed take on a traditional polka dot design.

Retro circles wallpaper, £44.04, Oliver Bonas

The Turquoise and silver Retro circles wallpaper from Oliver Bonas are stylishly vibrant. This wallpaper will provide a refreshing balance to an interior that has harsh modern lines with its aesthetically pleasing motif.

Red and white polka dots are definitely a must for this trend; this combination gives a feminine and flirty feel. Try this out in your home with the sand-filled Heart doorstop from Lover’s Lounge which has a cute carry handle, and serves as a handy yet chic accessory for your home.

Also, your household chores will never be boring again if you wear the Polka dot apron in red from Hunkydory Home; who knew aprons could be so flirtatious and fun?

If you want to bring a splash of colour to a room then Dot stools from Lollipop Shoppe are just the thing for you. Their charm and contemporary style allows you to introduce the polka dot style into your interior in a functional and tantalising new way. Also, have some fun with this wall clock from Sonodesign, which is suitably named The clock I can't see. As the name suggests, you may have to look closely to see the numbers, but there’s no doubt it will have you feeling fantastically dotty in no time at all. Whatever your taste, Furnish have found designs that are top of the spots, so you can choose anything from tableware, cushions, accessories, and wallpaper.