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The hottest interior design ideas, fab finds for the home and the latest in interiors trends. We're always looking for new finds, designers to feature or anything else lovely for the home, so if you've seen something gorgeous and would like it featured in our interior design magazine, please get in touch!

Quick Shop: Wine Racks

by Mica Kelly on June 10, 2011
wine rack
Our selection of the best wine racks around

Check out our selection of the best wine racks around

Unless you live in a mansion and have room for a wine cellar, you’re going to need a good quality wine rack. Personally, a bottle of wine rarely lasts long enough to get it in one at Furnish HQ but if you’re more restrained than us, we’ve put together a selection of the best around.

From wall-mounted sleek and FSC wood designs to a quirky cactus design to give your dining room a touch of the Wild West, we’ve got it all.

Now all you need is a decent bottle or six of plonk, a couple of wine glasses and a corkscrew and you can start the weekend countdown.

From top: Wall Mounted Wine Rack, £20, Utility; Cork Wine Rack, £35, Habitat; FSC Wooden Wine Rack, £95, John Lewis; Cactus Wine Rack by J-Me, £86, Pelican Pear; Stack Em Up Wine Rack, £95, Sweetpea & Willow; Umbra Grape Vine Wine Rack, £20, Red Candy

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Trend Watch: Oriental

by Meg Lucas on May 30, 2011
furnish
Dries Van Noten, Spring/Summer 2011, www.elle.com

Infuse your home with Eastern influence by channelling the Oriental trend.

Forget gaudy combinations of red and gold often associated with questionable Chinese restaurants; these days the Oriental trend draws influence from a range of sources to give stylish and workable interiors inspiration. Comprising Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean traditions, amongst others, Asian style has been identifiable as an influence of Western décor for centuries. The ball and claw foot, for example, was inspired by a Chinese motif, and small touches like this are ideal for adding subtle Oriental references to your home.

Asian design has a heavy focus on texture and is often either smooth and shiny, for example lacquered wood, or highly tactile like bamboo, raw silk, paper and jute. This striking set of Rectangular Lacquer Boxes from OKA make a perfect Oriental inspired storage solution, and are a great contrast against rougher textures and muted colours. Plus red is the colour of good luck and happiness in China!

Cushions are perfect for adding an Eastern feel to a bedroom or living room. Opt for luxurious silks hand printed using traditional techniques for an opulent feel, such as Clarrisa Hulse’s Potentilla Chilli and Zinc Silk Cushion from Heal’s. Alternatively try this ginkgo leaf inspired Florence Broadhurst Japanese Floral Cushion from John Lewis.

Whilst sumptuous silks may not be appropriate for the floor, there are plenty of Asian inspired rugs. This Calvin Klein Lustre Wash Rug from John Lewis, has a special lustre wash that gives it an subtle patina reminiscent of Oriental watercolours, and is handcrafted from soft New Zealand lambswool.

side table
Cube Side Table, £350, Orchid Furniture.

Orchid Furniture is a fantastic place to look for Eastern inspired contemporary furniture. They stock a wide range of dark wood furniture with simple lines and an uncluttered appearance, such as this Bedside Cabinet, constructed from mid-brow American walnut for an elegant appearance. Another contemporary take on the Oriental trend comes in the form of the Vitra Butterfly Stool from Utility. Designed by Sori Yanagi, the Butterfly Stool blends Eastern shapes with the plywood shaping technique developed by Charles and Ray Eames and comes in two finishes – Maple plywood or Palisander plywood.

Whilst black and red are synonymous with Oriental décor, the look can be achieved more subtly through the use of neutrals and muted Asian inspired paint colours, such as jade greens and bluish greys. These colours provide a more modern feel and create striking contrast against dark wood or lacquered furniture. Screens elaborately painted with Chinese inspired scenes are another way to bring Eastern inspiration to wall spaces, but a more minimalist effect can be achieved with this Cocostick Screen from Puji. Beautiful as well as functional, it can be used as a room divider or to add interest to a drab corner of the room.

cushion
Sapporo Cushion, £35, ALSO Home.

Perhaps the easiest way to add an Oriental feel to your home is through accessories. Lanterns are synonymous with Eastern culture, but this Chinoiserie Lampshade from OKA, hand painted with antiqued Chinese scenes on a dark background, is an understated way to channel the trend in just about any setting. Alternatively opt for traditional Oriental materials, with contemporary functional uses, such as this Bamboo Hang On Magnetic Memo Board from Heal’s. Tea is an ancient Eastern tradition, so naturally kitchenware is also an ideal way to add some Oriental influence. Japanese porcelain has been imported into Europe for centuries, much of which came from Arita/Imari, in Nagasaki. We love this Small Japanese Porcelain Teapot and Set of 4 Japanese Porcelain Tea Cups, from Lemonlu London. This range of porcelain comes from nearby Hasami and the designs are taken from Edo-Komon, elaborately dyed kimono fabric.

With any luck this selection of Eastern influenced products will have provided some ideas about how the Oriental trend can be worked into your home in a subtle and stylish way. So even if you don’t have a luxury holiday to Asia booked this summer, you can still be surrounded by the opulent simplicity of Oriental décor in your own home.

Buyers Guide to Wallpaper

by Mica Kelly on May 23, 2011
wallpaper
Barneby Gates Deer Damask Wallpaper, £75, Rockett St George

Brighten up your walls with this fabulous guide to using wallpaper in your home.

Planning

Before you begin to wallpaper, it is important that you take accurate measurements of the walls you want to paper to work out how much you will need. It’s also a good idea to check that the batch numbers or codes on each role are the same, as there can be slight variations in shades and patterns depending on the time of manufacturing.

Once you’re ready to begin make sure that all furniture is removed from the room, of course this is not always possible but it will make your job a lot easier when manoeuvring on a ladder, and spread dustsheets over the floor to protect them. If you are wallpapering the ceiling then it is also advisable to remove any light fittings which might cause an obstacle. Finally, if there is existing wallpaper on your walls then this must be removed using warm water and a scraping knife to strip the wallpaper away; alternatively, buy or hire a steamer which will do most of the hard work for you! If there are any holes on the surface of the wall then use some plaster filler to create a smooth surface.

Installing it

Learning to wallpaper can seem like a daunting task but if you perfect the skill of hanging then you can create a professional finish easily, without the cost of hiring in an expert to do the work for you. To work out how long you should cut each piece of wallpaper, measure the height of your wall and then add on four or five extra inches. This way you can neatly trim the bottom of the wallpaper as it reaches the skirting board for tidy finish. Mix your wallpaper paste following the manufacturer’s instructions and coat the strips of paper evenly and generously to prevent peeling; you will need a pasting table to do this.

Carefully fold the piece of wallpaper, concertina style, to make it easier to handle when hanging up. Generally, it is best to hang the first piece in the corner of a room where joining seams will be less noticeable. Hang the paper from the top of the wall and use a paste brush from the centre of the piece towards the edge to prevent bubbles from forming. Don’t rush; if you have soaked the wallpaper well then there is plenty of time to work on each piece and prevent mistakes. Repeat this process, considering that you will need to match the pattern with the previous piece depending on your choice of wallpaper.

wallpaper
Westwood wallpaper, £128.17, BODIE and FOU

Pattern

Wallpaper is a quick and easy way of adding pattern into your home, and with so many patterns, colours and textures to choose from there is sure to be something for everyone’s tastes. This gorgeously luxurious damask wallpaper from Barneby Gates, uses a gold stag skull and thistle pattern on a duck egg blue background for a contemporary twist on the traditional damask style pattern. Similarly, this stunning westwood wallpaper from Bodie and Fou uses a baroque inspired serpentine design with a colourful punk inspired twist.

Patterned wallpaper is also a great idea for children, as it can add some real excitement to their bedroom. 95% Danish have some great options that are extremely durable with a wipe clean surface; perfect for sticky fingers!

wallpaper
Family Tree Wallpaper, £59, Rose & Grey

Using two wallpapers together

By mixing and matching two wallpapers within the same room it is possible to create a range of stunning effects; if you’re feeling brave then mix two clashing patterns for a bold statement, or if you prefer a more subtle finish then choose a daring print for one key wall and a wallpaper with a smaller intricate pattern to complement.

This striking tree print wallpaper from Rose & Grey has a wonderfully quirky feel that would look great hung on a feature wall with a plain or embossed wallpaper to complement it. If you prefer a more retro inspired look to your interiors then why not try clashing two bold prints. This kitsch floral wallpaper from Rose & Grey takes its inspiration from the print of a vintage fabric, and the mustard yellow base harks back to the 1960’s. Clash with another floral print, or another bold colour like this retro turquoise wallpaper from Oliver Bonas.

Wallpaper is an incredibly versatile and stylish way of updating your home and creating an impact. Although the techniques needed for a professional finish are often perceived as being fiddly and, let’s face it, a bit too much like hard work; our handy tips should help to take the hassle out of hanging and have you wallpapering like a pro in no time!

Interview: Annick L Petersen

by Mica Kelly on May 22, 2011
rug
Circular rug with stitched writing, price on request, alp.

We interview interior architect, designer and owner of Alp, Annick L Petersen.

Swiss born interior architect, Annick L Petersen, runs design studio Alp from her base in London. Having worked in residential, hotel and furniture design for more than 15 years, Annick now designs a contemporary range of furniture and accessories that combine functionality and classic style as well as offering a full interior design service.

We caught up with Annick to find out the inspiration behind Alp, and what’s next for the studio…

What made you decide to create the brand and what was your first design?

It started when I was looking for a coffee table for our living room and couldn’t find what I was looking for, so decided to design one and my husband and I built it. It was the rectangle coffee table with storage for remote controls and magazines.

Where do you take influence from when designing your range?

I mainly design for myself, create furniture, lighting, rugs, etc that I would like to have in my home. I also love Indian design and patterns. I have recently visited Rajasthan and the architecture of forts and Maharaja’s palaces were the most beautiful. The intricate marble or wood carvings, patterns, fabric and colours were just amazing. I get inspired by these patterns for my cushion designs at the moment.

Do your Swiss roots have a part to play in the functional and contemporary style of the range?

I am not sure if it is due to my Swiss roots, but I do like simple lines for furniture and if possible some sort of storage. I suppose the Villa Le Lac by Le Corbusier and Jeanneret in Vevey where I grew up was an early influence for me as I visited it a few times. It is a small and simple house that Le Corbusier built for his parents in 1924.

coffee table
Coffee table with 2 drawers and 1 box storage, price on request, alp.

You use fairly ornate prints on your soft furnishings. How do you feel this works within the simplicity of the Alp range?

I love intricate patterns and calligraphy for small items like cushions. I think it gives a good balance with the simple lines of the rest of the range. It is good to mix different styles together.

How does Alp fit in with today’s style obsession with shabby chic furnishing, and a more is more approach to accessorising?

Alp has a wide range of cushions, with new designs coming soon inspired by my trip to India.

What draws you to contemporary/minimal interior design?

It is peaceful on the eye and the mind and you don’t tire of it. I enjoy simple lines in interiors but also mixed with different styles. I don’t think it should all be minimal as it would create quite a sterile environment.

Where does your passion for interior design come from?

I wanted to do something creative from a young age, hesitating between graphic design and interior design. I loved the idea of creating new spaces and making people happy in their environment, being at home, work or travelling.

What do you enjoy about designing interiors for other people’s homes?

You have to listen to your client’s needs and then suggest ideas, which they might not have thought of. When the project is done, seeing your client enjoying their new environment, is very satisfying.

What is your thought process when creating a space for others?

Take into consideration all your clients’ needs and requests and then come up with a solution that will satisfy them and yourself too.

mirror
Mirror, price on request, alp.

How do you work with your clients to ensure you are creating a space they will enjoy?

It is a close relationship between the client and myself with a lot of meetings and discussions.

Do you prefer designing your product range or designing interiors?

I really enjoy doing both, they both bring me a lot of fulfilment.

What current home interior trends are you inspired by?/What is your favourite home furnishing brand?

I really enjoy the mixture of natural wood finish and lacquer finish as used in my console tables and I have a new product coming up soon following that style. I like Tom Dixon’s work, we have his Jack Light, which I still love after all these years. He is always coming up with interesting new designs and materials. I also like the Bouroullec brothers, we have their Algue which has a great 3 dimensional texture. Their designs have beautiful shapes.

What is your personal style at home?

At home, I have a mixture of my pieces, a few designer items, some finds from our travels and markets, some pieces from my grandparents house in Switzerland, so it is very relevant to me and my family.

How would you sum up the Alp style?

The alp style is contemporary, elegant and functional with a bit of fun.

What plans do you have to develop the brand in future?

We have just opened a showroom in Camden, which is great to view the alp range. I am working on new projects for furniture, rugs, soft furnishing, which should be ready soon.

You can find out more about Alp, including the range and Annick’s services, by visiting www.alp-design.co.uk.

Trend Watch: Folk

by Mica Kelly on May 17, 2011
furnish
Anna Sui, Spring/Summer 2011, www.redonline.co.uk

Get your home ready for festival season with a touch of folk.

With Summer feeling like its already arrived, it’s time to dig out those ditsy floral print dresses, dishevelled denim waistcoats and cosy fringed ponchos ready for festival season! But, if spending the weekend up to your knees in mud and sleeping in a damp tent isn’t your idea of fun then worry not as this trend can work just as well in your home. Think fringed throws, embroidered rugs and colourful lanterns for adding that touch of folk to your interior.

Look for throws in deep autumnal colours to scatter across armchairs, or drape at the foot of the bed, to create a laid back bohemian feel. This gorgeous paisley throw from OKA uses lovely rustic colours for a vintage inspired finish, and it’s made from 100% wool; perfect for snuggling under when the summer nights turn chilly!

This lovely lambswool folk blanket from Primrose & Plum also follows the vintage theme with the lovely border detail inspired by traditional Swedish carvings. In keeping with the eco-friendly folk ethos, the blanket has also been responsibly sourced and produced with care for the environment by not using any harsh pesticides or harmful chemicals.

throw
Ultimate Paisley Throw, £149, OKA

Stripped floorboards work really well within the home when creating a folk inspired look, but it’s lovely to introduce some colour to your flooring with the addition of a rug. This quirky ribbon rug from Plumo is made from woven recycled ribbon strips for a beautiful mix of colours, and has lovely tassel detailing along the edge for a real arts and crafts feel. Plumo can also customise rugs to your specific colour preferences.

OKA is a great brand to consider if you are looking for a high quality rug with an antique feel, as they have a great range of colours and styles available. This cimkent rug from OKA is made from 100% wool for long lasting quality, and the deep earthy red colour gives it a timeless quality that is sure to look stunning in any setting.

Mixing and matching different colours and textures is the best way to create an authentic folk feel in your home. If you have selected a fairly rich colour palette for your rugs and throws then a great way of lifting the trend is to add a colourful selection of cushions. These mexican bird cushions from Plumo are beautifully bright, using lovely embroidered patterns of birds and flowers with colourful fringing and tassels for a lovely handcrafted feel.

Choosing cushions with embroidered patterns really helps to add a vintage feel to your soft furnishings, and helps to make your home feel unique. The bright colours of this embroidered folk cushion really add a contemporary twist to the style, and contrasts beautifully with the very traditional pattern of the stitched detail.

outdoor lighting
Little lanterns (2 assorted), £17.95, Plumo

Don’t forget accessories for adding the perfect finishing touches to this trend. Candles and lanterns are the perfect folk accessory as they help to recreate the warm glow of a bonfire inside your living room. These Fairtrade painted lanterns from Plumo come in an assortment of gorgeous colours with a variety of pretty floral detailing. Add tealights and dot them around your home, or even in the garden for your own mini festival! This candle lantern from Habitat is another great lighting option, and uses a wire frame wrapped in recycled magazine paper for an unusual design feature.

Finally, we couldn’t resist taking a look at this stunning pitcher and mug duo from Plumo, which would add an authentically rustic feel to your kitchen. The red clay tableware is made by local artisans using traditional methods, and is glazed in traditional Romanian folk patterns; a genuine touch of folk.

Hopefully, this fabulous selection of products has provided you with the inspiration to mix and match the accessories in your home this season for a wonderfully authentic take on the folk trend; and with a few cosy throws and some twinkling lanterns you can enjoy watching the festival coverage from the comfort of your sofa!

Buyer's Guide to outdoor lighting

by Mica Kelly on May 11, 2011
outdoor lighting
Rusty Metal Hurricane Lamp, £24.95, Nordic House

Illuminate your outside space with this handy guide to the best outdoor lighting

When adding the finishing touches to our interiors, lighting is one of the most important considerations. Most of us will spend hours choosing the perfect light fittings, finding gorgeous lamps to fill dark corners and adding cosy candles to the dinner table. Yet, many people completely forget about lighting one of the most important areas of the home; the outside space. Whether you have acres of land or just a tiny balcony making sure your outdoor space is given the treatment it deserves.

Planning

It is really important to plan properly for new lighting additions to your outdoor space to ensure that you create a unique living area that is accessible after dark. Safety-wise, consider which areas it is crucial to light well; stairs and pathways may benefit from some brighter lighting options, for instance. When it comes to more decorative lighting think about what sort of atmosphere you wish to create; colourful fairy lights are perfect for creating a fun sociable atmosphere, whilst lanterns will help to create a much more intimate feel. Most importantly, ensure that all lighting is waterproof, and any additions which are not low voltage should be installed by a qualified electrician.

Candle lighting

Adding a few candle lit lanterns and pretty tea lights to your garden is the quickest and most effective way of creating a warm and cosy area for relaxing in. These hurricane lamps from Nordic House have a gorgeous rustic finish which means they will look as if they’ve been in your garden for years! Lamps and lanterns are particularly versatile as they can be used as a lovely table centre piece, when dining al fresco, hung from hooks on the patio for effective mood lighting or scattered across decking and pathways for a pretty night time twinkle.

These bamboo lanterns from Garden Trading are perfect for recreating a relaxing holiday atmosphere. The lantern sits on top of a long pole which can be pushed into the lawn or flowerbeds for a quirky way to light your garden.

outdoor lighting
Barn Large Clay Outdoor Wall Light, £52, Heal's

Wall-mounted lighting

Wall lights are a great option if you have limited outside space, as well as being an ideal way to illuminate your porch or the area immediately outside your door. Based on a traditional stable lamp this outdoor wall light from Heal’s would be perfect for lighting an outdoor eating area, and can also be used inside as a porch light or over the back door.

This contemporary style aluminium wall light from Heal’s uses a unique circular design with a glass and aluminium finish, for a sleek and modern addition to the garden.

Path lighting

If you have a path in your garden, or leading to your outside space, it is important to provide some lighting in this are to ensure that you and your guests can move about the space easily and without any risks. However unlike deck lighting, which is usually bedded into the floor, there are plenty of free standing options available for lighting your path which means you can really make a feature of it.

These completely unique tulip lights from Garden Beet will provide a giant pop of colour to your outdoor space, and would look absolutely stunning positioned along a dark pathway. Although they are slightly on the pricey side the tulip lights are a great way of injecting colour into a space that perhaps doesn’t have the luxury of flowerbeds or a lawn, and will certainly make your outside space a real talking point.

These tall oil lamps from Nordic Home, are a touch more subtle in their slate colour scheme but will certainly still make an impact on your path. Available in two sizes, depending on your space requirements, these lamps will look striking in any garden; and with the long lasting nature of oil burning, you can have fun outside for the whole night.

furnish
Tulip Light, £499, Garden Beet

Solar lighting

For the eco-conscious amongst you, it might be important to consider the ways to light your outside space using solar or eco-friendly lighting options; and as well as being good for the environment it can often be up to 80% cheaper to run than traditional lighting methods. Solar lights require no electricity as they use specially designed batteries which stores energy from the sun in order to automatically provide soft lighting after dark. There are solar lighting options available at all good DIY stores, such as Homebase but it is important that you position lights in a sunny spot to ensure they acquire enough energy to run in the evening.

There are plenty of great outdoor lighting options to choose from no matter what kind of outside space you have, meaning you can utilise every nook and cranny to make your garden a cosy and intimate, or colourful and sociable, place to be. So dust off those fairy lights and get ready to enjoy the long summer evenings in your new living space!

Quick Shop: Bookcases

by Meg Lucas on May 10, 2011
bookcase
Have a look at our pick of the best bookcases

Take a look at our library of the best bookcases

I can’t think of anything in the home that gives away the owner’s personality quite as much as their book collection. It’s certainly the first thing my eyes drift to when I’m at a friend’s house - but then I am a self confessed bibliophile. So as well as agonising about what your books are saying about you, make an equally good impression with a well-considered bookcase.

Alongside storing, organising and displaying your tomes and curios, many bookcases are even more multipurpose - try one that is accessible from both sides for a perfect room divider to break up open plan spaces.

Clockwise from left: Missouri Low Shelving Unit, £439, from fashion4home, Reedy Bookcase, £2,262, from Utility, Henry Low Bookcase, £495, from Puji, Edith Shelving Unit by Kay + Stemmer, £320-£400, from Heal’s, Kartell Modular Bookshelf, £864, from A White Room, Bric A Brac Oak Shelving Unit, £1,295, from Heal’s, Hinged Low Shelving Unit by Leonhard Pfeifer, £495, from Heal’s, Chateau Small Open Bookcase, £230, from The Orchard, Shoreditch Industrial Narrow Bookcase on Wheels, £495, from Alexander and Pearl.

Tall Jute Baskets from Also Home

by Alexandra Thomas on May 10, 2011
baskets and container
Tall Jute Baskets, from £38, from Also Home

Make sure you're clutter free with these Tall Jute Baskets from Also Home. From £38

As regular readers will know, I have a slight obsession with keeping my flat clutter free. Possibly because I have ridiculous amounts of stuff1 which I refuse to get rid of – which means I am constantly on the hunt for storage ideas.

My new favourites are these Tall Jute Baskets from Also Home.

Made from renewable jute, these baskets are also Fairtrade and extremely handy. Available in two sizes, small and large, they’re perfect for stashing away everything from clean washing and bed linen to towels and magazines.

Much more attractive than plastic boxes, they also have useful carry handles which means they can easily be moved from room to room.

baskets and container
Tall Jute Basket, from £38, from @alsohome

Focus on Pattern: Retro

by Mica Kelly on May 08, 2011
bed linen
Orla Kiely Stripe Petal Duvet Covers, £60, John Lewis

Step back in time with our guide to making retro patterns work in your home.

Seek inspiration from the past when choosing patterns for your home for a touch of cosy nostalgia or a quirky twist on contemporary design. Think pretty polka dots for a hint of 1950’s kitsch, psychedelic floral prints for a funky 1960’s inspired interior or bold blocks of colour for a touch of 1970’s glamour. Whatever your decade of choice, we’ll show you how to turn the clock back to create a timeless home that you’re sure to love forever.

Fabric

A funky duvet cover can transform your bed into a dramatic style statement, and the 1960’s seem to be the go-to era for eye catching designs. Orla Kiely is a name synonymous with contemporary pattern design, but her fun floral prints undoubtedly take influence from the wonderful swinging Sixties. This Orla Kiely duvet cover from John Lewis uses a monochrome base with a bold and colourful daisy print for the perfect way to freshen up a dull bedroom.

Continuing with a similar style, a pattern made with one boldly repeated print, this retro elephant bedding from Hunkydory Home will look gorgeous in a child’s bedroom; the bold red and pink elephants and swirling floral pattern are sure to brighten up early school mornings.

Furniture

Choose one bold stunning piece of retro furniture to set against more contemporary pieces, for a quirky take on pattern rather than creating an exact replica of homes from a bygone era. This gorgeous upholstered chair from Graham & Green uses an iconic 1950’s chair design with an almost 1970’s inspired colourful fabric to create a funky statement piece that transcends decades.

For a fun flashback to the 1960’s, this globe chair from Lover’s Lounge is a fantastic replica of the iconic 1960’s design by acclaimed designer Eero Aarnio, and is the perfect place to curl up and relax after all that disco dancing.

For a more subtle take on retro design, this home desk from Utility has been created to replicate the shape of a classic ladies desk, but with retro design features for a contemporary update. The sleek chrome legs and colourful compartment separators contrasts beautifully with the classic walnut frame; this would make a welcome addition to any home office.

chair
50's Suzani Fabric Upholstered Chair, £495, Graham & Green

Flooring

Take inspiration from the 1980’s craze for slogans, by adding a bold doormat to your entrance. This retro doormat from Utility uses a natural background with the word ‘HOME’ boldly printed across it for a dramatic welcome home.

If you prefer to take the more colourful approach when decorating your floorboards then get hippy chic with this colourful love rug from The Plantation Rug Company. With bold colours and swirling paisley prints this rug is sure to bring the vibrant festival feeling into your home

Wallpaper

Update your walls with some boldly patterned wallpaper that will transform your home into a stylish retro pad. This stunning fifi wallpaper from John Lewis is a replica of an original 1950’s Sanderson print with a cute design depicting the hourglass silhouette of the era, pioneered by Christian Dior; this is definitely one for a fashion obsessive!

If music’s more your thing, then this cassette print wallpaper from BODIE and FOU uses hand drawn designs for a truly retro style that will create a cool and quirky statement wall for your teenagers.

wallpaper
Sanderson Fifi Wallpaper, £29, John Lewis

Accessories

Add the perfect finishing touches to your home with some cool retro accessories. Wake up in style with this classic alarm clock from Bloomsbury that uses the traditional bell top design for a stunning way to start the day.

Brighten up your kitchen with these gorgeous polka dot tins from Lover’s Lounge will keep your tea and coffee fresh while adding a touch of kitsch to your worktops.

If you prefer your kitchen accessories to be more chic, then you’re sure to love this sophisticated 1940’s glass bowl from Serendipity Street. It’s gorgeous cut glass detail means it’s sure to make a real statement on your dining table.

Retro patterns are a hugely versatile way of introducing print to the home, as style varies so widely across the decades. Choose an era that you love and add statement pieces of furniture and hints of pattern from this time for a quick and stylish way of updating your contemporary interior. For braver individuals, why not try mixing matching styles and patterns from across the years for a wonderfully quirky way of making a bold impact in your home. However you decide to turn back the time in your home, have fun experimenting!

The Buyer’s Guide to Garden Furniture

by Meg Lucas on May 03, 2011
garden table
Foldaway Garden Table and Chairs , £110, from Graham & Green

Whether you have a postage stamp patio or ample acreage, smarten up your garden with our Buyer’s Guide to Garden Furniture.

The consecutive sunny Bank Holidays have got us thinking about our gardens. With so much focus on interiors it is easy to forget that, clement weather permitting, the garden really is an extra room of your home. Whether you consider it as an extra dining space or just somewhere to recline, relax and watch the clouds go by; we’ve compiled this helpful guide to help you find the perfect furniture for your garden.

Planning and space

There is plenty to think about before deciding on outdoor furniture. Consider what look you want to achieve; a cottage style garden may seem a natural fit for traditional wooden furniture, but a striking look could be achieved by playing with modern designs and textures. The smooth surface of the Bubble Garden Chair Range from Heal’s, would lend a contemporary feel to a country garden whilst reflecting the plants around it.

Think about how you want your furniture to function and how this might affect its placement. In a typical British summer you may want to avoid positioning outdoor furniture in areas that are predominantly shaded, so work out if there is a suitable surface in sunnier spots, as some garden furniture requires hard standing.

A final factor to consider is storage. If space is limited, or depending on your choice of material, your garden furniture may need to be stored when not in use. If you do not have suitable internal storage opt for weatherproof materials or think about folding or stacking furniture.

Wooden tables and chairs

Wood garden furniture is the perfect choice if you want a more organic, tactile look and furniture that will acquire character as it weathers and ages. Choose hardwoods with naturally high oil content, such as teak, cumaru and eucalyptus, as this makes them weather resistant. Best of all wooden furniture can be left outside all year round and washing once a year with soapy water is usually sufficient to remove algae and pollution.

John Lewis has a wide selection of wooden garden furniture approved by the Forest Stewardship Council, making them an environmentally responsible choice so you can make your garden even greener. The Verona Outdoor chair from John Lewis have an almost 1930s appeal, constructed from hardy dark stained eucalyptus in an attractive curved shape.

furnish
Ami Ami Chair, Tokujin Yoshioka for Kartell from John Lewis, £137-£274

Resin tables and chairs

Synthetic resin furniture is often categorised as the budget option, but this doesn’t mean it can’t be stylish. Resin gained popularity for its strength and weather resistance, but it is also an ideal material for moulding unusual shapes and textures. The driade tokyo pop stool from A White Room, is made using monobloc polyethylene and is available in a range of neutral colours that make us think they would look rather enchantingly fungi-like dotted around a modern garden.

Plastics needn’t only be contemporary however, as demonstrated by the charming stone effect Corinthian Round Dining Table from Sweetpea and Willow.

Woven tables and chairs

Whilst natural wicker and rattan is appealingly tactile and traditional, it does not make for the most hardwearing of outdoor furniture. However if you want the texture and feel of rattan but with added weather resistance, try the Sublime 2 Seater Canape garden chair from Sweetpea and Willow, which is constructed using traditional craftsmanship methods and a 100% recyclable synthetic fibre.

lounger
Eucalyptus Rocker Lounger, £199, from John Lewis

Loungers and Sun beds

If you want to make the most of the summer rays, invest in a couple of loungers or sun beds. If you’re serious about comfort, the Bikeezy Flow Lounger from Occa Home is a great option and best of all it is maintenance free leaving more time for, well, lounging. The elegantly shaped Alanda Black Lounger from Sweetpea and Willow would look striking in both contemporary and classic style gardens.

Alternatively, if you want more flexibility opt for an adjustable sun bed. Many designs, such as the Mallorca Garden Lounger from Heal’s, have adjustable backrest and leg rest angles and the Mallorca Garden Lounger even has a handy drinks table.

Ideas for small gardens

If you have less space, but still like the idea of alfresco dining this summer, the Plus 4 Garden Furniture Range by John Jenkins for Heal’s may be just the thing. If you aren’t keen on stacking plastic or folding chairs, these chairs have all the solid appeal of wooden outdoor furniture but nest neatly around the table when not in use, taking up just over a tiny 1m2 of space.

A small garden doesn’t mean you are limited to chairs. Even the smallest of suntraps could house the Indian Summer Floral Sun Lounger from The Contemporary Home, which folds into a beach bag sized rectangle.

Another option when you’re pushed for space is a bench. Simple modern styles allow plants to grow around and beneath them, allowing you to recess the bench into flowerbeds to maximise space. The Foras Outdoor Benches from John Lewis come in a range of sizes from 100cm to 180cm.

Stacking garden furniture

If folding furniture seems a little flimsy for your needs, but you want an easy storage solution, look into stacking furniture. The Gloster Roma Stacking Outdoor Chair from John Lewis is made from powder coated aluminium, making it very lightweight and rust resistant so an ideal candidate to be stacked in a spare corner of the garden when not in use.

Deck chairs

If none of the above ideas have captured your imagination we may have just the thing – the ultimate in flat pack furniture. If you want something practical (for lounging with a book in one hand and a Pimms in the other…) then there is nothing more quirkily British than the deck chair. With a staggering choice of bright yet durable fabrics, in just about every design you could want, the deck chair is the ultimate opportunity to inject your personality into the often forgotten extra room of your home. Drop a hint to the fickle summer sunshine with Rockett St George’s ‘You Are My Sunshine’ Deckchair.

So fingers tightly crossed for a barbeque summer, and if all else fails make sure you also invest in the ultimate in garden furniture…a water repellent parasol, such as the Quadrant Parasol from Heal’s!

Spotlight on Primrose & Plum

by Meg Lucas on April 27, 2011
print
London Map Print in Slate Grey, £39, from Primrose & Plum

This week we take a closer look at the beautiful home accessory offerings of Primrose & Plum.

Primrose & Plum was set up by friends Selina and Lisa, when they started to gather suppliers of all things lovely to produce a beautifully curated selection of high quality home accessories and gifts. Their collection offers an eclectic mix of old and new, contemporary and classic, in a range of neutral alongside bold colours.

A small independent business, Primrose & Plum pride themselves on their attention to the details that make a difference and there is even a real human voice at the end of the phone! Furthermore, they promise, should a problem arise, to try to sort it out quickly and without a fuss.

spotlight
Seagrass Floor Seat, £125, from Primrose & Plum

Their beautiful items make me long for an airy cottage surrounded by birch trees, but for the time being I’ll be trying to inject the look into my distinctly less whimsical east London abode, with their Large Jute Basket. These huge, hardwearing baskets are ethically sourced and made by Fair Trade co-operatives in Bangladesh, so you can assuage your conscience as well as your household clutter – perfect if you’re planning a spring clean this Bank Holiday. They would make chic storage for toys or linen, but I think they’d be perfect to store my ever-expanding collection of fashion and design magazines that I can’t bear to recycle.

Primrose & Plum make the everyday just that little bit more chic, as demonstrated by their charming Retro Glass Bottles. With cream ceramic stoppers, they are ideal for milk or juice, or dispose of the clutter of plastic bottles in the bathroom and decant bath salt or soak.

tea pot
Bone China Teapot, £40, from Primrose & Plum

Fresh in for spring, Primrose & Plum have a beautiful range of Lisa Stickley tableware, as well as a fabulous collection of soft throws, luxurious bedspreads and decorative cushions to brighten up even the saddest of bedrooms. If you’re planning a spot of Easter baking, have a look at their kitchen linens and kitchenware, like the beautiful Hammered Heart Cake Stand.

With so much choice these days, it is wonderful to see such carefully selected and highly appealing items gathered together in one place. Primrose & Plum will certainly be my first stop next time I’m searching for that perfect gift for a birthday or wedding!

Focus on Pattern: Spots

by Mica Kelly on April 26, 2011
bed linen
Blue Spot Organic Cotton Duvet Cover, £42, The Fine Cotton Company

Go dotty for spots in your home with our fabulous guide!

Spots are the perfect pattern for bringing a touch of playfulness and fun to your home. Cute polka dot crockery is great for adding some 1950’s kitsch to the kitchen, whilst vibrant spots in vivid colours are sure to brighten up any room in the home. We show you how to make this brilliant pattern work beautifully in your space.

Fabric

A new set of bedding can instantly transform a bedroom, and is therefore an ideal place to start when considering introducing a new print to your home. This blue spot duvet cover from The Fine Cotton Company has a very subtle spot pattern that will look equally as gorgeous in a child’s nursery as it will in a teen bedroom; we’re sure the luxurious 200 thread count organic cotton will ensure that you sleep like a baby whatever your age!

This gorgeous throw from Occa Home will add a lovely finishing touch to your bed, or a cosy addition to your sofa, and is made of extra soft lamb’s wool for long lasting quality.

This lovely aqua coloured shower curtain from John Lewis will add a touch of the ocean to a boring bathroom, with a mosaic inspired pattern of cream and turquoise dots.

wallpaper
Retro Circles Wallpaper, £44.04, Oliver Bonas

Wallpaper

Have fun with your walls with a boldly printed wallpaper. This retro circles wallpaper from Oliver Bonas has an almost psychedelic 1960’s feel to it with the bold turquoise and silver print. For those of you wary about incorporating such an eye catching pattern into your home, try just wallpapering the main wall of your room then using a plain complementary colour on the remaining walls.

Wall stickers are another great way of introducing a hint of pattern to the home. These circle tile stickers from Spin Collective are a quick and easy way of adding a touch of excitement to the tiles in your kitchen or bathroom, and can even be used inside your shower cubicle.

Furniture

A quirky way of reflecting spots in your furniture, rather than choosing pieces that are plastered in pattern, is to select round items that will be complemented by the round spots on your soft furnishings or walls. A round coffee table is a great place to start as there are lots to choose from, and a round bed might be a step too far in the retro direction! This <a href= “http://furnish.co.uk/items/109464-deco-mirrored-venetian-round-coffee-table”>mirrored coffee table from Alexander and Pearl will add an extravagantly chic touch to a living room.

For those of you that prefer your furniture choices to be more subtle, or who simply love spending time relaxing in the garden, this metal outdoor chair from John Lewis has a lovely ring design moulded into the back of the chair.

serving plate
Retro spotted cake stand, £32.50, Lover's Lounge

Accessories

With the shabby chic look still hugely popular within interior design, there is a wide range of retro polka dot accessories available for your home. For any avid bakers, or avid cupcake eaters, this spotted cake stand from Lover’s Lounge is perfect for displaying yummy treats for afternoon tea. For other matching accessories, check out the rest of the Lover’s Lounge range.

For a more contemporary accessory, and a very stylish alternative to the standing coat rack, this <a href=“http://furnish.co.uk/items/14315-multi-spot-coat-rack”multi-spot coat peg from Rockett St George has five hangers made up of multi-coloured spots, to brighten up the hallway.

Flooring

A great way to brighten up your flooring with ease is to add a patterned rug. This sorbet spot rug from Great Little Trading Company will add a pretty touch to a little girl’s bedroom, and is made from 100% wool to ensure durability so the little one’s can play for hours on it.

This fun fun door mat uses bright circus colours in blue, red, green and yellow for a bold and colourful entrance to the home!

If you’re looking for a way to liven up your home, then spots could be the perfect choice. Whether you like bold multi-coloured prints inspired by the playground, cute and kitsch polka dots, or psychedelic circles, there is a great range of spot print products to choose from. Have fun introducing them to your home!

Shop the look...

Chloe Metal Sideboard from Love Your Home For Less

by Alexandra Thomas on April 25, 2011
sideboards and display cabinet
Chloe Metal Sideboard, £595, from Love Your Home For Less

Add a touch of industrial chic to your space with this Chloe Metal Sideboard from Love Your Home For Less. £595

I absolutely adore sideboards and while you’d struggle to part me from my 60s G Plan beauty, you might just about be able to convince me with this little gem from Love Your Home For Less.

The Chloe Metal Sideboard offers the perfect way to tap into the industrial trend without making your interior look too austere.

Made from distressed metal, I adore its retro shape and simple styling.

The generous size means it’s big enough to stash away all your stuff and will become a truly useful piece of furniture.

Try using in the dining room to stash crockery and table linen or your living room for magazines and other bits and bobs you want to keep out of sight.

Five Of The Best Doormats

by Alexandra Thomas on April 25, 2011
door mat
Make sure your guests feel right at home with our pick of the best doormats

Give your guests a warm welcome with our pick of the best doormats

Everyone knows that first impressions last so what better way to welcome your guests to your home than with a gorgeous doormat?

Long gone are the days of a doormat just being there to wipe your feet on, they are the perfect way to give the entrance of your home a warm, colourful and welcoming feel.

We have everything from dramatic tattoos and pretty birds to a very romantic slogan, so whatever your style, there’s bound to be something that will fit your home perfectly.

Left to right: Welcome Tattoo Doormat, £25, Utility; Birds Kissing In The Tree Doormat, £22.50, Bombay Duck;Multi Colour Coir Doormat, £17.50, Oliver Bonas; Orla Kiely Stem Print Doormat, £30, Heal’s; Just Married Doormat, £22.99, The Contemporary Home

Buyer's Guide to Sofas

by Meg Lucas on April 20, 2011
sofa
Snug Velvet Sofa, £1,050, from Rose & Grey

Buying a sofa can seem a little daunting so we've put together a handy guide to help you find your perfect match.

Buying a sofa can seem a little daunting; with a constantly expanding choice of styles, fabric, filling and function the combinations are practically endless. We've put together a handy guide to help you find your perfect sofa.

Planning

Sofas aren’t cheap but if properly maintained a good quality sofa will last for decades, so take some time to plan how to make the most of your investment. How will the sofa need to function? Do you have kids or pets that may alter your fabric choice?

It may seem obvious but be precise with your measurements. We have heard a surprising number of tales from design aficionados who found the sofa of their dreams, the perfect size for their space, only to get it home and discover it will not fit through the doorframe. A narrow hallway or doorframe may limit your options unless the sofa can be dismantled or you have another access route.

Many suppliers recommend laying out the space that your chosen sofa will occupy with sheets of newspaper to get an idea of how it will function with other pieces of furniture. In a spacious room, a grand sofa can act as a focal point as well as a functional item of furniture, but it is worth considering two smaller sofas if your living room is smaller as this can provide the illusion of more space.

Sofas, like mattresses, have a range of fillings and firmness. If you like to curl up on the sofa, consider feather-wrapped foam cushions, which are soft and comfortable. Foam filling is generally firmer but will maintain its appearance and shape to give a more tailored look than feather cushions. It is worth bearing in mind that foam is also ideal if you have allergy sufferers in your family. Fibre, or foam with a fibre wrap, may be the perfect compromise for your home, providing a softer look but with the durability of foam.

As well as the dizzying choice of fillings, there is also the task of fabric choice for your sofa: tightly woven fabrics will wear best, leather is durable and available in a number of finishes, Alcantara is an easily maintainable man-made microfibre and perfect for busy households. Do be aware that direct sunlight can cause sofas to fade and appear worn, so avoid darker colours if you can’t avoid positioning your sofa in sunlight.

sofa
Theo 2 Sofa and Chaise, £3,600, by Matthew Hilton for Case from John Lewis

Corner sofas

If you want to make the best use of your available space, you might want to consider a corner sofa. Also referred to as modular sofas, many suppliers offer a range of seating combinations to suit your lifestyle and maximise corner space that may otherwise be wasted.

A simple, timeless corner sofa like the Hay Mags Modular Sofa from Utility, is perfect for those who like to stretch out. The sofa has no detachable cushions, making it supremely flexible as cushions and blankets can be moved around and changed to freshen up the look.

Contemporary sofas

Contemporary sofas are perfect for smaller spaces as they often have narrower arms, to give the illusion of a more compact piece, and one or two cushions provide a clean, modern look.

A modern sofa is the perfect canvas to inject a burst of colour into a space. Alternatively the clean lines of a contemporary sofa, such as Madame Coco from Sofa Workshop, is ideal to showcase a quirky pattern.

Nod to mid-century design by choosing a sofa with simple legs, such as the Barbican Medium Sofa from John Lewis.

sofa
Chatsworth Medium Leather Sofa, £1800, from John Lewis

Classic sofas

Classic sofas are perfect for adding a touch of functional luxury to a room. They generally command a larger space than more contemporary styles due to traditional design features such as three seat cushions and rolled arms. However don’t let this put you off, as classic sofas are often analogous with comfort and look good in just about any space. Two smaller classic sofas may provide more flexibility in a smaller space, such as the Miss Firefly sofa from Sofa Workshop which is available in over 2200 fabric and leather choices and, helpfully, has removable arms for delivery.

If you’re really pushed for space, or need a small but exceptionally comfortable sofa for a study, consider the Louis Compact sofa from Habitat.

Iconic Chesterfield styles make an extra impact when given a fresh twist with bright or luxurious fabrics, such as the Lush Black Velvet 3 Seater Chesterfield from Sweetpea and Willow. Alternatively try a classic French style, such as the Parisian French Settee from Alexander and Pearl, which looks chic but unfussy in hardwearing linen, perfect for a neutral bedroom.

Sofa beds

If you need a sofa that really justifies the space it occupies, opt for a sofa bed. Ideal for studies or spare rooms sofa beds have come a long way since the days of creaky, lumpy contraptions that sprung startlingly from not particularly comfortable sofas.

It is worth considering how much the sofa bed will need be used for either function. Sofa beds predominantly come in either hinged foam, for lighter use, or mattresses, which may be more suitable for a sofa that may be used more often as a guest bed.

For a small space, such as a study, the Louis Compact Sofa bed from Habitat has a 15cm mattress suitable for everyday use as well as being a supremely comfortable reading chair.

With such an extensive choice of sofas, in a cacophony of styles, upholstery and colours, you are sure to find one to suit you.

Trend Watch: Lace

by Mica Kelly on April 19, 2011
furnish
Dolce and Gabbana, Spring/Summer 2011, harpersbazaar.co.uk

Lace is set to be huge this Summer, so add a touch of romance to your interior with delicate frills.

Lace looks set to be hanging around for another season but, unlike many of the Winter collections, this time around it’s less gothic and more Little House on the Prairie; think soft colours, floating fabrics and feminine shapes. Luckily, for those of us who don’t feel entirely happy about the prospect of leaving the house in such delicate garments, lace is a trend that translates beautifully to interiors!

furnish
Ribbon Damask Paper Lace, £74, Occa Home

Lace wallpaper makes an eye catching feature of otherwise boring walls, and can transform a bedroom into a girly boudoir or a living room into a luxuriously grown-up space. This lace wallpaper from Occa Home is beautifully chic, and comes in a variety of colours. For those of you that prefer an even more dramatic look, their embossed vinyl version is a darker, even more sophisticated, version and featured in Carrie’s apartment in Sex and the City 2!

Curtains are also a great way of making an impact, and help to add some excitement to your windows. Traditional net curtains are widely available on the high street in a variety of lace designs, and are great for adding a delicate vintage touch to your home. Rockett St George has taken inspiration from those classic designs, and created a stunning range of lace curtains with a contemporary twist. Available in a variety of colours, including hot pink, aubergine, blue and ivory, these antique style curtains are sure to create a beautiful effect at any window.

lamp shade
Indigo Lace Drum Lampshade, £62, Heal’s

If you’re not feeling brave enough to embrace a full-on lace print wall, there are plenty of lace inspired accessories to add a touch of the trend to your home. This indigo lace lampshade from Heal’s has delicate lace cutwork that will add a feminine touch to any room of the house. For a more quirky way to light the room, this lace pendant lamp from Occa Home uses bold cut out effects, with a an unusual lace-up detail at the side.

For those of you searching for a unique take on the trend, or for those that simply like to have something cute to snuggle under during the cold evening, this lace felt throw from Room39 uses a precision die cut lace pattern for a geometric approach to lace.

Whatever your taste, be sure to embrace your feminine side this season to enjoy a chic summer at home.

Benchmark founder Sean Sutcliffe shows us around

by Catherine Gregg on April 18, 2011
furnish
Inspiration in the showroom

Find out what Furnish got up to on a tour of the workshops at Benchmark

On a bright spring day last week, Furnish travelled to Berkshire to be shown round the workshops at Benchmark. The welcome was as warm as the weather, and after a quick cup of tea (the builders’ variety), we set off to take a look around. Despite being in the middle of hectic preparations for April’s Milan Furniture Fair, Sean Sutcliffe (Benchmark’s founder, along with Terence Conran) took the time to act as our guide. Set in beautiful countryside Benchmark’s home is a collection of converted, formerly derelict, farm buildings. First stop was the showroom, or ‘what I like to call the farm shop’, says Sean: ‘we’re on a farm, we make everything here…it just happens that it’s furniture and not food.’ And it’s just as tantalising to the senses. You want to run your hand along tables and chairs, open up elegant desks and dressing tables and sink into plump sofas. A log fire burns away one end of the light filled and calm showroom, and miniature scale models of Benchmark designs stand on a Singer shelving unit in the window. Dotted around amongst furniture of different timbers, hues and textures are tactile duck-egg blue ceramics by Garath Mason and chunky great burr-oak and elm bowls.

furnish
Processing raw wood in the workshop

‘I’m passionate about wood’, says Sean, confessing to being a bit of a hoarder and collecting unusual specimens. When we visit the timber barn, he clambers over the stacks to show us a recent acquisition that he’s had his eye on for a year: a single piece of timber that must be at least six metres long, sourced from a forest in Scotland. ‘This is what visiting Benchmark is all about,’ he says – ‘to see the raw wood at one end and the finished product at the other’. Witnessing the workshops in action, you get a feel for how these raw materials become expertly finished pieces of furniture, and the precision craftsmanship involved in their production. Huge slices of tree trunk are first processed and assessed to see which pieces of furniture they might be used for. Then it’s on to the former cowshed, a hive of activity with all sorts of projects in progress at any one time: from tables for Carluccio’s restaurants, fittings for King’s College Library and bespoke commissions for private houses to Benchmark furniture you’ll see on Furnish. In the upholstery studio a rainbow of colourful leathers hang from the old oak beams and in the metalworking room one of Benchmark’s famous zinc bars is under construction for the London Bridge Hotel.

Everyone downs tools at the same time each day to enjoy a communal lunch (gorgonzola, leek and onion tart on the day we visited) prepared by Roux-trained chef, Jo. It’s an inclusive, almost family atmosphere, and the dedication that goes into the making of each piece of furniture really shows through. Most of the craftsmen come from the local area and many of them have been trained through Benchmark’s award-winning apprenticeship scheme. Sustainability, in terms of both materials and skills, is at the heart of Benchmark. Only certified timbers are used and the company invests in the rural community, turning apprentices into experts and employing the latest technology while also preserving traditional craft skills. Pointing out the cheeky little Puck side table by Simen Aareseth that’ll be showcased in Milan, Sean says, ‘It just made me smile’. It’s this kind thing – a sense of the personal and of personality – that makes Benchmark furniture so appealing.

side table
The perky Puck Side Table by Simen Aarseth for Benchmark

The ethos of Benchmark and its dedication to British manufacturing reminds me a lot of the Arts and Crafts Movement. From the apprenticeship scheme, to the emphasis on quality, expert craftsmanship and respect for natural materials, Benchmark seems to be continuing the legacy of the movement. So it’s not surprising when Sean explains over lunch that in fact there’s a direct link with the movement. He was trained by furniture designer Alan Peters, who in turn was an apprentice under one of the key figures in the Cotswold Arts and Crafts group, Edward Barnsley. The Cotswold group formed around Rodmarton Manor, not far from where Benchmark stands now.

Just like arts and crafts designers, it’s clear to see that Benchmark understands the impact of environment on wellbeing and that good design improves quality of life. Sean gestures to the daffodils bobbing their heads in the breeze and the fig trees climbing the side of one of the workshops: ‘We want customers to experience Benchmark and to understand what we’re about.’ And pointing to the hundred year old oak at the centre of the site, ‘it presides over us’, he says, ‘with its arms outstretched, and stands as a symbol for what we do.’

Well we’d definitely recommend a visit. And about that amazing lunch: anyone on site is invited so make sure you’re there around one.

Living with White

by Meg Lucas on April 17, 2011
desk
Barjac Writing Desk,£685, from Brissi.

Forget the bland and clinical; make white work for you with our guide to Living with White.

A monochrome white palette provides ample opportunity to experiment with pattern and texture. We show you how to transform even the smallest rooms by maximising the space enhancing, calming and, believe it or not, cosy properties of white. Best of all white can suit almost any taste or space, from white-on-white minimalism to a whitewashed New England-style. Each texture absorbs light differently creating a wealth of different tones with minimal effort.

White furniture

White furniture needn’t be impractical. Many design classics are at their most versatile in white, such as Vitra’s Eames Daw plastic armchair. Similarly, taken out of their industrial context and softened with white, filing cabinets can become practical, contemporary storage for a study space.

For a more vintage appearance, try antique-style furniture in white. The soft lines of this Willows White Scroll Bed from Sweetpea and Willow, combined with a soft grey headboard prevent any possibility of a stark or clinical appearance. Finish the look with a mismatched white console table for a not-too-polished but distinctly French appeal White bookshelves make fantastic foils for the potentially clinical nature of white. Filled with books of varied textures and colours, a white bookshelf will allow the book spines to become a work of art in their own right.

Wallpaper

White wallpapers are perfect for adding subtle texture and pattern to walls. If you don’t have your own extensive library, or have perhaps ‘gone digital’ in pursuit of minimalism, consider a feature wall using an unconventional but understated wallpaper, such as the Vintage Bookshelf wallpaper by Y & B from BODIE and FOU, providing interest whilst still maximising a sense of space and light.

screens and divider
Hand Carved Wooden Decorative Screen, £229, from Graham & Green.

Paint

Choosing the right white for paint colours is all-important, colours with a yellow or grey undertone will appear warmer, slightly aged, and not as harsh, whereas whites described as crisp or brilliant are likely to have an icy blue undertone. Alongside your choice of shade, consider how the paint’s finish will diffuse light. Matte paints will appear softer, whilst gloss can add a sleek contemporary feel. Similarly Farrow & Ball has a fantastic selection of heritage white paints with a low sheen to flatter most rooms. Their paint named James White #2010 is a soothing off-white with a subtle green undertone, which would complement a modern bedroom.

If you can’t or would rather not paint your walls, try introducing large areas of white through moveable furniture, such as this hand carved wooden decorative screen from Graham & Green.

Flooring

If you are lucky enough to have intact exposed floorboards painting them white makes for an economically sound and easily maintainable décor decision. Try Farrow & Ball’s floor paint in Pointing, a warm white named after the lime pointing of traditional brickwork. Alternatively utilise the undertones of white walls to match textured carpets in shades of grey and off-white, or consider pale wood flooring such as Ash.

Accessories

Predominantly white colour schemes are the perfect canvas for striking coloured accessories. However we think the scheme has perhaps the most impact when varying the texture rather than the colour of your accessories: think white ceramics, enamels, linens, baskets, leather and papers.

Make a bold but unfussy statement with a modern and dramatic pendant light in white. Alternatively white looks striking against dark wood but for a softer, Scandinavian look consider paler woods such as birch or ash like Heal’s stunning White Ash Veneer Lampshade.

Take the edge of a minimalist white look with quirky touches, such as these white rabbit coat hooks.

White kitchen appliances make a refreshing change from black or stainless steel and can often be found in softer off-white and cream shades. Likewise off-white enamel tableware lends a lived in vintage feel. The combination of wood and matte ceramic of these Square Ceramic storage jars from Occa Home create a modern but soft look.

Textiles

Whilst a white rug may not be the most practical choice for areas of heavy traffic in the home, you don’t have to banish white textiles. Consider layering a design classic white plastic or wire chair with a fluffy sheepskin for added texture and comfort. Alternatively, adorn sofas and beds with a generous quantity of throws and cushions in varying shades and textures for a lived-in feel. Our favourites are the Cream Wool Throw and Felt Petal Cushion, both from Primrose & Plum.

Diaphanous curtains, such as John Lewis’s Plain Slot Voile panels, provide an almost ethereal diffusion of light. Maintain a sense of serenity without forgoing practicality in the bedroom with simple white blackout blinds.

So, why not make the most of the decidedly sunnier rays (finally!) creeping through the windows by brightening up your décor with white?

Ribbed Coloured Glass Candlesticks from Primrose & Plum

by Alexandra Thomas on April 15, 2011
candle holder
Ribbed Coloured Glass Candlesticks, £14, from Primrose & Plum

Add some style and colour to your mantelpiece with these Ribbed Coloured Glass Candlesticks from Primrose & Plum. £14

I have a thing about candlesticks, much like I have a thing for cushions, chairs, rugs….

…oh ok, we all know by now I’m an interiors nut but I really do love candlesticks.

My favourite one is a gorgeous, twisted iron one that’s been handed down through the generations in my other half’s family. It now takes pride of place on our dining room table.

I also love these Ribbed Coloured Glass Candlesticks from Primrose & Plum. Available in Amber, Lavender and Damson, they’re just the thing to bring some style and colour to your scheme.

Line them up on a mantelpiece or group several of them together on a dining table for an instant touch of chicness.

candle holder
Ribbed Coloured Glass Candlesticks, £14, from Primrose & Plum

Focus on Pattern: Checks

by Mica Kelly on April 12, 2011
chair
New England Checked Armchair, £515, Sweetpea and Willow

Think outside the box with our guide to how checks can work in your home

From gingham to tartan, checks are one of the most versatile ways of bringing pattern into your home. Whether you’re looking for a pop of pattern with a checked cushion or bed cover, or for the bold impact of a checked floor or statement piece of furniture, we’ve got everything covered in this guide on how to make checks work for you.

Furniture

Checked furniture often works well as an isolated statement piece set amongst plainer items of furniture. This stunning checked armchair from Sweetpea and Willow uses a classic check and elegant mahogany finish, for a quintessentially English feel.

For a more contemporary take on checked furniture, this bedside table from Coco Male uses a simple linear checked door to add interest to the simple white design.

Flooring

A vibrant doormat is a cost effective way of injecting pattern into your interiors, as well as providing an eye catching entrance to your home. This multi-coloured doormat from Heal’s is perfect for making a technicolour statement.

Similarly, rugs are a great way of trying out a new style without having to completely redecorate. This sisal rug from OKA, is great for bringing pattern to your floors without the bold splash of colour. The soft colour, and gentle square pattern is sure to blend seamlessly into any room. Contrastingly, this bright pink gingham rug from Great Little Trading Company would look lovely in a little girl’s bedroom or a child’s playroom.

One of the most classic examples of checked flooring has to be the black and white checkerboard tiles, often seen in the bathrooms or kitchens of period townhouses. You can buy tiles individually in your chosen colours to tile the floor yourself or, alternatively, there are plenty of checkerboard lino’s available in home interior stores. If you are after a timeless marble finish, then check out these checkerboard tiles available from Living House.

wallpaper
Squares Wallpaper, £59, 95% Danish

Wallpaper

Heavily patterned wallpaper is perfect for making an impact but can often be overpowering in the home. When going for checked patterns, it often works well to choose one statement wall to paper and then go for a plain but complementary colour on the surrounding walls.

Inspired by checks, this

Fabric

Checked fabric looks gorgeous as bed linen or curtains, and there are plenty of options to choose from at the moment. This check bed linen from Heal’s uses a modern check, with warm tones of plum and pistachio, for a crisp contemporary feel.

If you prefer your checks to be more traditional, then this tartan throw from Occa Home will provide some comforting warmth on chilly evenings; being made from 100% lambswool means it’s extra cosy!

Gingham is another traditionally popular choice of checks, and this gorgeous tablecloth from The Contemporary Home has a lovely large gingham check in a practical grey colour, with a white ric rac trim for a cute finish.

door furniture
Cake UK Stewart Tartan Dog Door Stop, £29.95, John Lewis

Accessories

Accessories are the place to really experiment with pattern and colour! This cute dog door stop from John Lewis is made from a vibrant tartan material; adding a homely touch to your doorway.

If your little ones are known to leave a trail of disaster behind them, this gingham bed tidy from Great Little Trading Company, available in navy or pink, is perfect for hiding away their bits and bobs as well as adding some colour to their bed frame.

For just a pop of colour, why not try a colourful lampshade. This yellow gingham shade from Hunkydory Home will add some sunshine to your room on even the most dull days! Or use this blue gingham jug from The Contemporary Home as a quirky way of displaying fresh flowers.

Checks work well in every home, and come in a great array of styles to suit all tastes. Try traditional tartan to create a warm and cosy space, or girly gingham for the ultimate shabby chic palace. For those of you that might be wary of pattern in the home, try adding a few checked accessories for a nod to the style, or try out a statement wall for a bolder interior! No matter what your taste, checks are incredibly versatile so have fun experimenting!

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