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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!

This week’s pick of the best interior-design blogs

by Alice Stride on April 03, 2011
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A collage of lovely pictures from the Sanctuary blog scrapbook.

Blogging Brilliant

This week, check out an English woman’s quest for the perfect interior in the Cotswolds, indulge in some gorgeous Finnish style, and admire the fantastic eye of a blogger with an international outlook . Be prepared for serious inspiration!

Sanctuary

The Finland-based blog Sanctuary is something to turn to when life seems to be getting a bit too much. Rebecca, the blog’s creator, says that it’s a “scrapbook of inspiration and ideas – it’s about celebrating and cherishing the small, beautiful details in life.” Indeed, Rebecca’s lovely posts about coffee in bed, walks by the sea and enjoying a good film are so feel-good that it makes you want to switch off your Blackberry and listen to yourself breathe. Sanctuary reminds us that it’s fine to make time to be still in the dizzying chaos that is the modern world – and the pictures are stunning, too. Sanctuary is peppered with a plethora of snaps of romantic, vintage-inspired interiors that epitomise shabby chic; indeed, Rebecca says that she’s drawn to homes and styles with a ”’lived-in feel”. She also gives names of must-visit shops in Europe, including Noro in Paris and Carmen&Fantasio in Copenhagen: what a lovely, lovely lady.

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A snapshot of gorgeous Modern Country Style.

Modern Country Style

Modern Country Style follows the journey of the renovation of an English Edwardian home in the Cotswolds. Sarah, the brain of the blog, focuses on “gorgeous, pared-back interiors infused with the warmth of the country.” Modern Country Style is a delight to browse, littered with Sarah’s delightful, idiosyncratic musings and beautiful images of the progress of her home; the ‘before’ shots really highlight that interiors can utterly transformed. Her enthusiasm for renovating her home and making it perfect flows from the blog in waves, and she invites us all to share in the project by letting us in on her home-styling secrets (Farrow and Ball paint and The White Company bed linen to name a few). And, best of all are Sarah’s fabulous tutorials in home-crafting; I’m in the process of making my mother a Vintage-Style Button Heart Cushion for Mother’s Day, and will be following that up with some quirky Scrabble Magnets. Modern Country Style is absolutely gorgeous – make sure you have a peep.

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Anna shows off her brilliant eye, featuring this stunner from British Vogue on her blog.

La Boheme

The beautiful La Boheme is an eclectic mish-mash of interiors, architecture, fashion, photography, colours, textures and art: a design blog that’s truly got something for everyone. Anna, the woman behind La Boheme, describes her blog as “a very personal inventory of not only who I am, but also who I’d like to become in the world of interior-design”. Based in San Francisco and the Czech Republic, she takes inspiration from all over the world, infusing La Boheme with a fantastic, international-style vibe. There are pictures of stunning interiors from an array of different places, including a beautiful home in Barcelona, a stunning beachside property on Hamilton Island in Queensland and an exquisitely romantic little house in snowy France – perfect for anyone seeking interior inspiration from beyond their own country. Anna’s picks of fashion photography is amazing, too: check out her post on the extraordinary ‘Warrior Chic’ shoot by Thomas Schenk for Spanish Vogue. With an eye as good as Anna’s, I have no doubt that she will become exactly who she wishes to be in the glorious world of interior-design.

Style File: Arts & Crafts

by Mica Kelly on March 27, 2011
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Sanderson William Morris Thistle Wallpaper, £45, John Lewis

We explore the beautiful arts and crafts movement, which marked a return to handcrafted design in 19th century England.

The arts and crafts design movement originated in England around 1880, with its popular ideals later spreading across to Europe and America. Formed by English writers and designers, most notably being William Morris, the movement was formed in protest to industrialisation and the growing popularity of mass produced designs. The members set up their own companies to sell handcrafted, high quality goods and designs.

In terms of style the movement was inspired by a wide range of influences, from Gothic medieval to Japanese art and the Orient. Furniture would be of an exceptionally high finish, often made with natural woods and metals such as copper or pewter, and handcrafted with a focus on the quality rather than excessive decoration. Colour was an important part of the movement; rich tones and bright shades were incorporated through wallpapers, tiles and soft furnishings.

Colours

To create and arts and crafts feel in your home, you should opt for warm rich tones on the walls and in soft furnishings; deep reds and blues, mustard yellow and olive greens will all create a sophisticated finish when complemented by natural shades of cream and terracotta.

Wallpaper is key to this look and the most instantly recognizable option would be the William Morris patterns, which are still being manufactured today in original prints. This classic William Morris Wallpaper from John Lewis, features a classic print of deep purple thistles on a taupe coloured background. Cover all the walls with a boldly patterned wallpaper for a traditional arts and crafts finish, or just use the large scale prints to make a feature of one wall for a more contemporary take on the style.

Another great way of adding colour is through tiles, which were widely used at the time. Choose bright jewel tones in turquoise blues, greens and reds to brighten up the kitchen or bathroom. Stained glass was also popular due to its medieval origins but, if you don’t want to splash out on new windows, a tiffany style lamp would add a subtle touch of colour.

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Oak octagon coffee table, £127, Rocomara

Furniture

For this look most pieces of furniture should be wooden to create a handcrafted feel. Custom made pieces are ideal, but it is possible to find options that give a similar unique look. This oak coffee table from Rocomara features cut out detail, which was popular at the time, and reflects Oriental influences. Although it is slightly more ornate than would have been usual at the time of the arts and crafts movement, the dark oak means that it would still sit comfortably within the style for an eye catching addition to the living room.

Chairs should have leather or woven seats, although vintage style fabric covered chairs work equally well. This floral club chair from Puji has been designed in classic shape with a subtle pattern that would work well in contrast to a bold wall print. The delicate cream colour also provides the perfect complement to rich coloured accessories.

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Chinois Screen, £455, The French Bedroom Company

Accessories

Choosing accessories for this style provides the opportunity to add hints of colour, and style touches influenced by Oriental trends. This stunning wool rug from OKA blends perfectly with the arts and crafts colour palette, and would look stunning set against stained wooden floors.

Screen dividers are a great way of splitting up space in open plan rooms to create a more intimate space, and there are many Oriental inspired options that would look great when creating an arts and crafts feel. This < a href= “http://furnish.co.uk/items/30583-chinois-screen”>chinois screen from The French Bedroom Company has a striking black lacquered finish with a gorgeous contrasting floral print.

Choose soft furnishings in natural materials like cotton and wool, and in rich colours or patterns inspired by William Morris. This leaf print cushion from Heal’s has a beautiful muted colour palette and the Sanderson print blends perfectly with the style; Sanderson are the company which bought all of the William Morris printing blocks when the company closed down.

The arts and crafts movement is a style that translates easily to contemporary interior design, as its blend of influences and the rich colour palette means there is something to cater to everyone’s tastes. The prints of William Morris are timeless, and look just as good in a fully wallpapered room as they do hung in a frame as a piece of art. The focus on quality pieces of furniture is as relevant today, in our highly mass produced culture, as it was hundreds of years ago and makes for a quirky and eclectic interior style.

The ethos of arts and crafts is best summed up in the words of William Morris himself, who believed you should “have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”. Essentially, this is a style that allows you the freedom to create a unique living space that is beautiful to you.

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This week’s pick of the best interior-design blogs - Mar 23rd

by Alice Stride on March 21, 2011
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Cool European style from Freshome.

The Blog Beautiful

We’ve got two fabulous US-based blogs for you this week, along with a little treasure from Romania. Enjoy the international vibe, and get ready to be inspired!

Freshome

Freshome is dedicated to showcasing the latest trends in cutting-edge modern architecture, interior-design and furniture. The brain-child of the precocious Micle Mihai-Cristian, a 24 year-old Romanian living in Timisoara, Freshome has a chic, urban European aesthetic to it, and aims to inspire you to create the home you’ve always wanted. I love the fantastic ‘Best Of’ section, especially the ‘Most Popular Projects in February 2011’ post. It features amazing architectural projects from around the world - and whilst most of us can only dream of living in such incredible places, they are certainly awe-inducing. The ‘Ideas’ section is great, too: an eclectic mish-mash of tips for the home and interviews with innovative designers. For example, the work of eco-artist Tammy Roe, who takes scrap metal and fuses it into beautiful home accessories is feautured. It’s work like this that ensures that Freshome stands as out as the blog to go to for contemporary style-inspiration.

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Just one of many 'dream home' snapshots from Remodelista.

Remodelista

The exquisite Remodelista is dubbed as ‘The Sourcebook for the Considered Home’ - undoubtedly the perfect description. The blog’s sleek, neutral colour-palette reflects its aim to feature the best in streamlined interiors, with an emphasis on “classic and liveable over trendy and transient”. Remodelista focuses on quality, investment and thoughtful design instead of faddy trends and mass-marketed goods. However, despite their firm stance on quality, there is no snobbery here: Redmodelista believe that “a mix of high and low - and of vintage and new - animates a space”. The style-savvy women behind Remodelista are all friends, which explains the blog’s very personal feel; you can even peek into the homes of the team to see what makes them tick. They’ve also got a ‘Design Files’ section, making a visit to Remodelista a truly involving experience. Through the ‘Design Files’, you can save your picks from Remodelista’s stunning collection of products and inspiring ideas posts, ensuring that you’re well-informed when remodelling your own home. Redmodelista is classy, chic and grown-up, yet still remains accessible to all. It should be the first port of call for classic and simple tastes: an online muse for beautiful interior-design inspiration.

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Quirky but sleek: Chic Tip's design ethos.

ChicTip

ChicTip is one of the best daily design blogs around: “your ticket to stylish living.” It’s an online Aladdin’s cave, heaving with interior-design treasures and teeming with excellent design tips; and, the huge wealth of resources and content on the blog means there’s something for everyone, no matter what your budget, style , or interior-design project might be. The excellent ‘Inspiration Albums’ do exactly as they say - inspire. Divided into separate rooms (kitchen, bathroom, living-room, dining-room ), each album features alluring snapshots of extraordinary interiors, all of which seem to have the common trait of being beautiful and eclectic, yet highly functional, too. Michelle and Keren, the design-duo behind ChicTip, are keen to emphasise that the blog is a community for “like-minded people”, a place to share ideas and tips and generally have a good old discussion with others who are passionate about design. The blog also looks beyond the home for inspiration; there’s features on shops, hotels, and restaurant designs, as well as artists and trends-in-the-making. If you’re planning on having a peek at ChicTip, I recommend you clear your diary. You will undoubtedly be on the computer for a long, long time.

Style Focus - Shaker

by Mica Kelly on March 20, 2011
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Traditional Shaker Living Room - Art Institute of Chicago

A unique interior style full of beautifully handcrafted wooden pieces and a refreshingly neutral colour palette.

The Shakers were a religious sect who were founded in eighteenth century Britain and emigrated to America after being persecuted for their beliefs. A group with roots in Christianity, they were most known for their focus on the importance of gender equality and their communal way of living. Despite having very few members remaining in the modern world, the Shakers have left a great cultural legacy which continues to be reflected in contemporary interior design.

In terms of home furnishings the Shakers believed that every item of furniture should serve a purpose or have a function, and disregarded the need for unnecessary decorations within their homes. However, all furniture was carefully designed and built to perfection as it was believed that the quality of their handiwork was a testament to God.

Colours

The Shaker style is characterised by a very limited colour palette, as any paints or dyes used at the time were made with natural plant dyes and clays. Walls should be kept neutral with off-white or cream paints in a matt finish, or leave walls completely bare like the plain plastered walls that were favoured at the time. If you’re a fan of colour, and can’t live with a completely neutral palette, then choose soft furnishings in primary colours; reds, warm yellows and dark blues in natural fabrics will help to add a cosy touch to your home.

Furniture

This ladder back chair from Pavillion Broadway is a classic example of a Shaker style chair, with a beautifully crafted wooden back and woven seat. The ladder back chair was an extremely popular style and is perfect for creating a rural feel in a kitchen or dining room. The dining table itself should be equally simple, with a trestle table being the traditional choice. This rustic oak table from Lover’s Lounge is a gorgeous dining table that provides enough room for the whole family to sit down together.

In the bedroom, choose a well crafted wooden bed frame that will look timeless. Cherrywood and maple were two of the most popular woods at the time, but most kinds will work equally well within this style. This meridian bed frame from Heal’s comes in walnut or cherry, and has been exceptionally crafted to give an elegant yet clean finish.

Storage

Within a Shaker inspired interior it is important to have plenty of storage space in order to create a room which is uncluttered and open plan. Traditionally, peg rails would be hung around the room to provide a place to hang mirrors, tools, clothes and even chairs! This four peg shaker rail from Heal’s is available in light or dark oak, and is a great replica of a traditional Shaker peg rail. Of course we aren’t suggesting you hang your chairs on it, but it would be great in the hallway as a place to hang your coats and hats.

Wardrobes and chest of drawers should sit together on one wall, and be of a similar style. This oak chest of drawers from Alexander and Pearl makes a bold statement with its military style brass handles, whilst remaining uncomplicated in design. This full hanging wardrobe from Puji would pair perfectly with the drawers; the dark wood adding heaps of rustic character to the piece.

Accessories

Candles provide the perfect finishing touch to this minimalist style, by acting as subtle decoration. Plain candles would make a stunning centrepiece in these walnut candlesticks which have been elegantly crafted for a high end finish.

For a more contemporary take on the Shaker style, add some colour with soft furnishings. This check table cloth from The Contemporary Home will add a homely touch to a wooden dining table, with the grey colour ensuring that the bold gingham print remains neutral. This gorgeous cotton throw from Occa Home will provides warmth and style to a sofa or bed. The deep red colour is in keeping with the Shaker colour palette, and even the heart motif provides a subtle nod to the trend; a common image within Shaker design is a hand within a heart.

The Shakers had many great ideas when it came to home design; the focus on open plan communal living is an idea which transfers easily to contemporary homes where space is often expected to be multifunctional. Although the overall look is somewhat minimal, the importance of good quality pieces of furniture means that the look is timeless and can be updated with the addition of cushions and blankets for those that like a less neutral palette.

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Jonathan Charles Ladder Back Side Chair, £351, Pavilion Broadway
candle holder
Pair of Walnut Candlesticks, £152.95, Pavilion Broadway

Style Focus: Art Deco

by Alice Stride on March 15, 2011
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Patchwork Cowhide Runners, £101.50, from Graham and Green.

Deck out your home with art deco style

Art Deco has been influencing interiors since its birth at the turn of the 20th century. Even if you don’t realise it, your home has probably got smatterings of art-deco style – those bright, block-colour cushions you’ve got on the sofa? How about your chrome kitchen surfaces, the black and white chequered linoleum in the bathroom, or that reproduction of an of the old, ‘Golden Era’ Hollywood poster hanging on a wall? They’re all throwbacks to the eclectic art deco era. In fact, the offbeat, quirky look that we love to claim as quintessentially British really has its roots in Paris (but we won’t tell if you don’t). Despite being around for a century now, art deco remains as vibrant and contemporary as it did when at its peak in the 1920’s and 1930’s (its reign of glory ended following the outbreak of World War Two). However, despite Hitler halting art deco in its tracks, the glamorous, modern and functional ethos endured, and it’s still a huge influence upon interior-design, architecture, fashion and jewellery today. Here at Furnish, we’ve gathered a few ideas here for you to bring a dash of dazzling art deco style into your home.

Art deco was largely inspired by art nouveau, a movement that explored the imitation of nature. Art deco took on this aspect of art nouveau, but moved it into more modern realms (a bit like wearing a flowery dress with leather biker boots). Flowing, pastel colours and shapes were out and, bolder materials and colours were in, providing a beautifully paradoxical style-statement. The Delft Flying Ducks from Lifestyle Bazaar epitomise this idea; the birds are made from ceramic with smooth, clean lines, and the contrast between their traditional shape, bright colour and gloss finish, is delightful. The stunning Brink and Campman Butterfly Rug from Heal’s is fabulous for the same reason. The contrast between the old-fashioned depiction of natural images and its usage of bold, beautiful colours gives it an authentic art deco edge.

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For neutral, nature-centric art deco chic, check out Barneby Gates Wild Meadow Wallpaper, £75, from Rockett St George.

Art deco tends to be associated with very bright colours. Whilst bright colours were undoubtedly a huge feature of art deco style, neutral colours weren’t cast aside altogether. Bold colours, like silver, black, chrome, yellow and red were reserved for the hallway, to make a strong visual statement when people walked through the door, whereas more muted shades of creams, oysters and greens were used in living-room and bedrooms. This added to the quirky, mish-mash aesthetic that art deco was all about. The gloriously kitsch Dotty Wallpaper from 95% Danish would certainly give guests something to talk about when they came in to your home; plus, the charming, retro-style trees tie in with the art deco’s preoccupation with nature. For a more natural wallpaper to suit an art-deco living-room or bedroom, check out the beautiful Barneby Gates Wild Meadow Wallpaper from Rockett St George. This wallpaper would look brilliant as a backdrop to Orla Kiely’s funky and fantastic range, which has clear art deco influences; the lovely Stem Print Doormat has a real ‘back-to-nature’ feel – but the graphic pattern and vibrant colours offset this natural vibe in a perfectly art deco way. The fabulous Lusk Sofa could be straight out of 1920’s Paris: the curved yet sharp shape, the theatrical contrast between the shiny, stained wood legs and the roaring orange colour is eclectic style perfection. Fritz Hansen’s Egg Chair from Utility is fantastically art deco too, with its bold lines and vibrant red colour. It would add a touch of edgy art deco style to any home, and is a true contemporary classic. You can get it in brown leather, too, for a more muted but no less stylish piece.

Geometric, angular shapes were also a huge feature of art deco, thanks to the influence of cubism: painters like Picasso were experimenting with shape and proportion and created a whole new visual aesthetic, which became a popular feature of interior-design. The amazing Large Multi-Faceted Wall Mirror from Graham and Green has a real cubist feel to it, and is a fantastic statement piece, too; I’d prop it on a table in a room that needed a little more light (the multi-faceted angles of the mirror enhances its ability to make the room feel more airy and light). If you’re feeling outrageous and want to plaster your walls with a cubist effect, check out the extraordinary Monroe Special Surface Print Wallpaper from 95% Danish.

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The amazing Large Multi-Faceted Wall Mirror, £475, from Graham and Green.

If you’re after something art deco-esque for the floor, check out the Patchwork Cowhide Runners, also from Graham and Green and available in zebra-print or snake-print. They’d make an excellent focal-point for any floor that wanted some art deco decoration: the funky pattern makes for a visually-arresting effect. Furthermore, animal-print was a huge aspect of art-deco. By the 1930s, travel (particularly African safaris) became very popular, meaning that foreign artefacts like animal skins, ivory and tortoiseshell began appearing in the home. I love the Julianne Tortoiseshell Lamp from Decolight; it’s very glamorous, but would look great in an understated room, too. Decolight’s Opera Tortoiseshell Lamp is also fabulous, especially if you want something with a more unusual and less classic shape. The wonderfully kitsch Leopard Print Footstool from London Cows (also available in giraffe print) is pure art deco: theatrical, angular, and oozing Hollywood glamour.

The silver screen of Hollywood had a huge impact on art deco; people wanted to emulate a little bit of the tremendous glamour being portrayed in film, and this is still a hugely popular trend today. I love the stunning Hollywood Mirrored Dressing Table from Alexander and Pearl. Again, it’s a modern art deco piece: angular, mirrored and something I could imagine in Greta Garbo or Jean Harlow’s dressing-room – all that’s missing is a perfume bottle and a powder compact. The incredible Tiger Deco Chair, again from Alexander and Pearl, is pure art deco chic, too. Shiny, silver-flecked material was a huge part of the theatrical element of the movement – and, combining it with tiger-print makes it a true art deco dream.

Art deco has been in our homes for many years, and it’s no wonder why. Stylish, beautiful, functional and oh-so-cool, I expect to see it inhabiting our interiors for a long time to come.

Our pick of the best interior design blogs

by Alice Stride on March 14, 2011
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A vibrant snapshot of Bowie's eye for prints and patterns.

Be inspired by the creative brains behind these brilliant blogs

Print and Pattern

The cult, achingly cool pattern blog ‘Print and Pattern’ was created in 2006 by a UK-based designer who goes by the rather alluring alias ‘Bowie Style’. Celebrating surface design and pattern in all its forms, the blog’s objective is to highlight the fabulous, quirky designs found on the UK high-street and within designers’ portfolios. Bowie features the designs of all sorts of lovely stuff: fabrics, wallpaper, greetings cards, gift wrap, stationery, wall art. The site has had over 10 million hits – a testament to Bowie’s fantastic eye for for alluring surface design – and is popular with, buyers, trend forecasters, and anyone who gets a thrill from a surface with a gorgeous pattern. ‘Print and Pattern’ should be the first port of call for anyone seeking some exciting ‘pattern inspiration’ for their home. There’s even an excellent ‘Jobs Board’, listing art, illustration and design jobs for any creative-types out there.

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A gorgeous example of Kate's excellent stylist's eye.

The Fabric of My Life

‘The Fabric of My Life’ is, simply put, gorgeous; a mecca of stunning interior-design images and ideas, sweet, thoughtful musings and links to loads of cool websites and pictures. Interior-stylist Kate Baxter, the lovely lady behind the magic, says that her blog is “an inspiration blog, a place where I can collate all my design ideas, passions, thoughts and musings into one big magpie’s nest.” And, luckily for us, she shares it with the world. All of the posts have brilliant ideas within them; my favourite is ‘I Always Judge a Book by Its Cover’,teeming with tips on how to turn your books into decorative items. Browsing this blog feels like shopping in a lovely market – there’s so much to see, but you’re happy to have a relaxed wander around. If you’re seeking some style inspiration for your home, get straight onto this site and revel in Kate’s excellent eye for all things beautiful and fantastic design ideas.

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Team Work: Sofa So Good and Hair Cushions by Amelie Labarthe and Elisabeth Buecher of Puff & Flock in collaboration with Ercol.

Puff and Flock

The wonderful textile-centric blog,Puff and Flock, is quite the extraordinary group venture. Puff and Flock is an established collective of designers, united by their ambition to challenge common perceptions about textiles. The group formed in 2008 after meeting at Central Saint Martins, all graduates of the MA Textile Futures course. They debuted their eclectic spirit (to much acclaim) at Interiors Birmingham in January 2009, thanks to the support of Designersblock. Since then, they have gone on to entertain audiences at exhibitions in New York, London, Milan and Birmingham with a variety of ambitious textile installations. Blending craft with industry, and narrative with technology, each designer has her own unique take on textiles, meaning that the blog is a certified melting-pot for different types of inspiration and insights. The blog was a winner of the MyDeco and The London Design Festival Blog Awards 2010 and has contributors based in London, LA and Copenhagan, covering everything from exhibitions and fashion to new materials and science. It’s certainly got a worldly feel to it, with ideas and observations flooding in from all over the place. In fact, so successful is the blog that the Puff and Flock team have launched a gorgeous online shop,www.puffandflockshop.com, showcasing designers from Japan and Taiwan alongside homegrown talent from England and Europe. Most of the work is handmade, totally individual and unique – just like the fabulous blog itself.

Bijou Buttoned Chair from Rose & Grey

by Alexandra Thomas on March 11, 2011
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Bijou Buttoned Chair £485 Rose & Grey

Sit back and relax with this Bijou Buttoned Chair from Rose & Grey. £485

My Mum is absolutely obsessed with small chairs and they fill her house. It would appear that I too am also a fan as the more I see of them, the more I want occasional chairs.

This Bijou (the nice word estate agents are famed for using when referring to small properties) Buttoned Chair ticks all the boxes for me.

It may be diminutive but what it lacks in size, it sure makes up for in style.

I adore its buttoned-back and curved legs and its neutral linen upholstery means it will fit in with virtually any scheme.

Perfect for a living room, hallway or as a partner to an elegant dressing table, this chair is bound to become a future heirloom you pass down through the generations.

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Bijou Buttoned Chair £485 Rose & Grey

Buyer's guide to Blinds

by Mica Kelly on March 08, 2011
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‘Birds on a Wire’ roller blind, £64.99, BODIE and FOU

We've put together a handy guide fulll of the best blinds for your home

Blinds provide a great modern alternative to curtains, and look just as great in the kitchen or bathroom as they do in the living room; making a bold feature of an otherwise dull window. We’ve put together a selection of gorgeous blinds in styles to suite every home, in this handy buyer’s guide.

Roller Blinds

Roller blinds are one of the most popular window dressing options, are often the most economical choice. The blinds are made of a stiffened fabric that rolls up completely when open, allowing plenty of light into a room during the day. This stylish bird print roller blind from BODIE and FOU has a quirky design that would look great in a bathroom or kitchen. For a more classic look, this woodland roller blind from John Lewis, has a delicate leaf print that would suit a more neutral home.

Venetian blinds – wood

Venetian blinds add a contemporary finish to windows, and look great in an office or the rest of the home. Made from horizontal wooden slats, they provide a huge amount of light control. Most hardware shops and department stores offer a great selection; for a wide variety to choose from, in various colours and sizes, John Lewis is a great place to start. They offer wooden venetian blinds in a range of different colour finishes and widths, with prices starting from £35.

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Botanica Readymade White Blackout Roller Blind Range, £32-£42, Heal’s

Venetian blinds – plastic

Plastic venetian blinds are great in kitchens and bathrooms due to their wipe clean surface. They are easy to find on the high street, with the majority of venetian blinds being made from either plastic, wood or aluminium. Companies like Keeleys Blinds are also a good option, as they offer a wide range of colours and materials in bespoke sizes; you can even request free samples so you can check the style in your room before you purchase.

Roman blinds

Roman blinds are made from soft fabric that hang flat when fully extended, but gather into pleats when raised for a beautifully luxurious way to frame your window. These gerbera print blinds from John Lewis are a lovely classic cream colour, with a bold floral print that would look great in a living room or bedroom.

Black out blinds

Blackout blinds are made from densely woven fabric, and are perfect for completely blocking out unwanted sunlight; a great idea for your bedroom, or for a child’s room in the summer months. This <a href=” http://furnish.co.uk/items/24873-botanica-readymade-white-blackout-roller-blind-range”>blackout roller blind from Heal’s has a stunning floral print that would look great in any room. Heal’s also offer a wide selection in plainer fabrics, for example this linen blackout blind which would be ideal for putting underneath curtains, if you want to limit the amount of light entering your home but prefer the look of drapes.

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Georgia blind, £200, Elle Doran

Picture blinds

Picture blinds are a fantastic way of making a real feature of your windows, and make a funky alternative to wall art. This gorgeous Georgia blind from Elle Doran has a stunning print of a red peony flower, and would be perfect for brightening up a kitchen. Picture blinds are a great idea in small rooms when there is little wall space for hanging pictures or other images. This gorgeous forest print blind ,also from Elle Doran, would make an eye catching feature in any room; the serene image of the forest clearing creating a feeling of calm and space.

Before purchasing it is important to take accurate measurements of your window recess to make sure that your blinds will be able to fully extend, and that there is room for the operating mechanism that allows you to close and open your blinds. It is also important to measure outside of the window recess to decide how far you want the fabric of the blinds to extend on either side.

Blinds are certainly a great alternative to curtains, and with a wide selection of stylish and practical blinds to choose from in this guide you’re sure to find the perfect pair for making a bold statement in your home.

Quick Shop: Sofas

by Alice Stride on March 07, 2011
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A small selection of our fantastic range of sofas

Our amazing range of the best and trendiest sofas makes choosing one stress-free

The perfect sofa is an integral piece of furniture in the home. It’s somewhere you’re likely to spend a lot of time: drinking, watching films, gossiping on the phone or just having a good old-fashioned nap. So, it’s important that your sofa is just right. To help you choose, we’ve cherry-picked a selection of our favourites to take the hassle out of sofa shopping (it also obliterates the need for a trip to the dreaded D.F.S). From traditional black leather to lush velvet to bright and futuristic, we’ve got a sofa to suit all tastes.

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Mistral Sofa, £1,425 – £1,950, from Heals. Orange Harlem Three Seater Sofa, £1150, from Oliver Bonas. John Lewis Swan Small Sofa, £1,999, from John Lewis. Black Velvet Two Seater, £895, from Rose and Grey. Fritz Hansen Swan Sofa, £5,018, from Utility. Groovy Black and White Striped Two Seater Sofa, £625, from Sweetpea and Willow. Armstrong Sofa, £1,900, from Lockwood Design. Black Leather Sofa, £995 – £1,595, from Heals. Provencal Linen Sofa, £825, from The French Bedroom Company.

Easy Updates

by Alice Stride on March 06, 2011
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The delicious Chunky Slub Throw, £60, from Lombok.

Want to inject some life into your home without spending a fortune? Check out our brilliant guide to updating your interior without breaking the bank.

While you might be a little strapped for cash, it doesn’t have to mean you can’t give your home an update. With a little creativity and time, you can give your home a new look whilst still watching the purse strings. Have a look at our guide to see what you can do!

Painting a Piece of Furniture

We’ve all got a favourite piece of furniture. It’s been in the home for years – perhaps passed down from the older generation – and it’s been loved, enjoyed and, quite frankly, worn-out. But, parting with such treasured items, no matter how shabby, seems a bit heartless. Instead, why not infuse with a new lease of life with a little splash of paint? Plasti-Kote has a fantastic range of decorative spray paints that are easy to use and come in an amazing range of colours. Check out the fantastic Super Spray, available in three beautiful finishes – matt, gloss, and satin. Plasti-Kote paints can be used on most surfaces too, so it’s incredibly versatile, too; I treated myself to a can of Cameo Pink Satin to give a wooden chair I got from a flea-market a girlish makeover. The website also features a charming ‘Ideas Library’ for handy tips on rejuvenating tired furniture.

International Paints also stock a paint specifically developed for this type of mini interior-design project: the fantastic Furniture and Cupboard Paint. It comes in a range of beautiful muted colours with delicious names like ‘Mystical Mushroom’, ‘Lovely Olive’ and ‘Antique Cream’: the perfect paint for updating a home with a neutral colour-palette.

Adding Cushions and Throws

If you don’t want to part with your trusty old sofa or bed but feel that it’s looking a bit old-fashioned, you need some new cushions or throws (or both if you’re feeling particularly flush). A beautiful throw can cover a wealth of sins – wine spills, coffee stains, children’s hand-prints – for a fraction of the cost of replacing your furniture. But, beware: you might become so attached to your new throw that using the sofa/bed is banned. I adore the Missoni Home Erode Throw by Occa Home; the fusion of rustic Italian chic with bright stripes makes it a sure-fired contemporary classic. The Chunky Slub Throw from Lombok is perfect for something simpler but equally stylish (and its name is excellent, too). For something a bit cheaper, check out the excellent-value Cara Throws from John Lewis. In funky purple or classic navy, this lovely throw is wonderfully cosy – and an absolute bargain to boot.

We’ve got an incredible range of cushions to suit all styles and cater to all tastes, too. For all pattern-lovers out there, have a peep at this delightful selection: the sweet Embroidered Bird Cushion from Coco Boat, the stunning Emperor Red Square Cushion from Sweetpea and Willow, and the beautiful Niki Jones Samakand Suzani Crimson Rectangular Cushion from Heal’s. If you’re after a stylish but simple cushion to update your home, the sumptuous Velvet Cushion from Lockwood Designs in soft green might be just the ticket. The Silk Velvet Cushions from Primrose and Plum have a similar feel, and a beautiful oil-in-a-puddle style shimmer to them, too. For something a little more quirky (but still simple), check out the sweet Button Cushion from Rose and Grey.

cushion
Add interest to an old sofa with the sweet Embroidered Bird Cushion, £89.95, from Cocoboat.

Using Wall-Stickers

Wall-stickers are having something of a renaissance at the moment, and it’s no wonder. They’re a superb and cheap way to add a quirky touch or focal point to a wall, without the laborious task of re-painting, and they usually come with a humorous edge, too. The fabulous Fashion Wall Sticker from 95% Danish has a great ‘cameo’ feel to it, and despite the fact that fashion changes faster than I can type, it’s a wall-sticker that will remain stylish for years to come. If you’re a true fashionista, this sticker is the one for you.

I love the wonderful Donkey Wall Sticker from Rockett St George – perfect for kids’ rooms. For designs that are a little more classic, check out the Branches Wall Sticker and Falling Leaves Wall Sticker, again by Rockett St George. I also adore the simply lovely Love Birds Wall Sticker from 95% Danish. I find looking at it makes me feel peaceful; it may have the same effect on your home.

Covering a Canvas with Fabric

Covering a canvas with a fabric is a great way to add a totally original touch to your home. You can buy a cheap artist’s canvas from http://www.artistsblankcanvas.co.uk, and use any leftover fabric you may have lurking in a cupboard. Or, why not chop up an old dress or pair of curtains to use, for an eco-friendly splash of style? The brilliant website E-How offers a simple step-by-step guide on how to cover a canvas; they’ve also got a guide to re-covering headboards with fabric to give your bed a fresh look. When you’ve finished your handiwork, you’ve got a wonderful piece of homemade art to display anywhere you like; plus, craft-projects are indisputably good for the soul.

If you don’t have any fabric to hand, check out Ikea’s range; it’s very purse-friendly and there’s a wealth of choice. Now, roll up your sleeves, put some inspiring music on and get creative!

pendant light
A selection of John Lewis's amazing lighting range; the gorgeous Abi Pendant Shade, £110, is centre.

Adding a Rug

This might sound like a ridiculously simple idea, but a new rug can transform the character of a room that’s getting a little staid – especially if it’s a rug that’s quirky and directional, like Rockett St George’s brilliant 62p Stamp Rug. It’s a great way to add a little humour to your surroundings with very minimal effort.

The incredible Dahlia Rug from Caroline McGrath is a real statement piece, and will look fantastic on wooden floorboards. It’s available in Blue/Grey, Orange/Corn and Red/Pink, so you can pick a colour to suit your home. It’s got an amazing futuristic edge to it, thanks to the illusion of it being three-dimensional; however, it reminds me of compass patterns I used to draw as a child, creating a strange but extremely stylish paradox between nostalgiac notions and contemporary styling.

If you like your rugs classic, check out the Designers Guild range from Heal’s; the gorgeous wine-coloured Bernadini Damson and the rustic Amagansett Stripe rugs are perfect for simple contemporary chic.

Changing your Curtains

Changing your curtains is a great way to update a room, particularly as the seasons change. Try light fabrics for spring and summer, and for autumn and winter opt for a cosier feel with velvets and damasks. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you could even make your own.

The elegant yet quirky Peacock Paisley Curtains from OKA are a fantastic little investment; the colour is neutral enough to work well within most colour-schemes, and the pattern is simple enough to look great in any room. For a beautiful vintage feel, have a peep at the wonderful Vintage Inspired Lace Curtains from Rockett St George. Available in Lipstick (Hot Pink), Candy (Pale Pink), Blue, Aubergine, Pure White or Ivory, there’s a colour for everybody; they can also double up as stunning table-runners. Vintage and retro-styling is super trendy, so add a splash to your home for a modern nod to the past.

Changing your Lampshades

Less tricky than changing your curtains, but no less effective an update to your home, changing your lampshades is a simple way to achieve a new look. We’ve got a fantastic range available to make choosing one that little bit simpler.

I love the ’60’s vibe of the funky Leaf Lampshades from Primrose and Plum: modern shape meets with retro pattern and produces a beautiful result. For a truly stand-out lampshade, look no further than the glorious Abi Pendant Shade from John Lewis. It’s an exquisite piece; the way the shells cascade is simply gorgeous, and it’ll add a beautiful feminine touch to any room. For a lampshade that’s equally striking but more unusual, look no further than the extraordinary Twisted Rattan Pendant Shade from Coco Male. It’s an exotic fusion of earthy material and contemporary styling, creating a piece that is truly unique. Or, check out the incredibly directional Innermost Kapow White Pendant Shade from Heal’s. It’s an innovative piece that’s made from a mass of tubular mesh, but despite its modern material, it somehow works in any scheme.

So, there you have it: easy ideas for you to update your home without impoverishing yourself. Enjoy!

Quick shop: Coffee tables

by Mica Kelly on March 02, 2011
side table
Add the perfect finishing touch to your living room with these stylish tables

We've put together a great range of coffee tables, from the ultra modern to the super traditional

Adding a coffee table to your living area can be the perfect finishing touch; making a stylish statement whilst providing the perfect place to rest your cup of tea! These stunning coffee tables are sure to suit any home, whether you prefer contemporary glass pieces or the timeless nature of a mahogany table.

Clockwise from left: Lady Estelle Coffee Table from Sweetpea and Willow, £995. Albany Round Coffee Table from Tom Faulkner, £999. Eichholtz Oakwood Military Coffee Table Square from Occa Home, £1,450. PALONIA Coffee table from Habitat, £350. Mahogany Folding Coffee Table- Mahogany from Pavilion Broadway, £1,471. Embossed silver coffee table from Lover’s lounge, £275. Knoll Platner Large Coffee Table from Utility, £1,152. Oak coffee table from Rocomara, £726. Deco Mirrored Venetian Round Coffee Table from Alexander and Pearl, £395.

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Trend Watch: Nudes

by Alice Stride on March 01, 2011
furnish
Picture from www.vogue.co.uk.

Nudes are big news on the catwalks, so we show you how to translate them into your home.

The 2011 trend for soft, sweet nudes and fleshtones provides a feminine, elegant alternative to bold and brash brights. As spring approaches, and with the film Black Swan dominating popular culture, romantic ballerina-esque colours are firmly in vogue. Nudes and fleshtones are a palette of calm: neutral, girlish and very soothing. We show you how to take this beautiful trend and bring it to life in your home.

The nude trend is undoubtedly uber-feminine, but that’s not to say that there can’t be a masculine element, too. Take, for example, the brilliant Montpelier Armchair from Brissi; it’s fit for the king of the castle with its strong lines and earthy wooden frame. Or, why not consider the edgy Manhattan Sofa from the Manhattan 3 range by OKA. The feminine, almost bridal colour contrasts with the masculine, dark wooden frame and piping for a sofa that’s a striking balance of masculinity and femininity. Even the manliest of men will be happy to recline on this gorgeous piece. The Wellness Folding Screen from Metal Design Furniture has the same sort of feel, and is a lovely and practical piece too. You could use it to hide the mess in your bedroom, or to separate a large space into two smaller ones. It’s versatile, beautiful, and contemporary.

ornament
The Elk Stag Head Door Knocker provides a quirky take on the nude trend.

If you’d rather have a scattering of the trend within your home instead of larger pieces of furniture, look no further. Furnish has a fantastic range of home accessories in beautiful nude tones so you can sprinkle your surroundings with a touch of femininity. The beauty of the nude trend is its universal feel, no matter what your decorative taste or style may be. Even a room painted in neon-pink or lime-green would look fantastic with some sweet nude accents to offset its brightness. The Henley Cashmere Throw in ivory from The Fine Cotton Company epitomises all that is wonderful about nudes; it’s soft, comforting and will provide a much needed touch of tranquillity in the chaotic modern world. You can chuck it on your bed or sofa for some serene snuggling. The baby-pink Jacqueline Cushion from Coco Male is like a gentle kiss in cushion form, as is the gloriously girly Linen Heart Appliqué Cushion, again from The Fine Cotton Company. Some may think that, with its heart detail and pastel colouring, it borders on being too saccharine – but, to all naysayers, I would remind them that a spoonful of sugar helps the metaphorical medicine go down. We all need some sweetness in our lives – and these cushions help provide it.

If you want sweetness and light, look no further than the beautifully kitsch Pink Blush Chandelier from Sweetpea and Willow. It’s the colour of rosy cheeks flushed from the the wind and strawberry bonbons, and has a real feeling of childhood nostalgia about it – a must for those romantic at heart. If the pink is slightly too Barbie-esque for you, have a peep at the stunning off-white Fame White Chandelier from Alexander and Pearl, available in two sizes. I love the contemporary lampshade over the traditional decorative chandelier; it’s a wonderful fusion of modern and vintage for an eclectic take on the nude trend. The Large Oval Crackle Finish Mirror, also from Sweetpea and Willow, is another classic-meets-contemporary piece: vintage French styling with an edgy nude cream and gold finish. Their Cream French Cheval Mirror is also exquisite, for the same reasons. I’d love to see this mirror in a beautiful boudoir, scattered with make-up and perfume bottles (for some reason, the romantic nuances of nude tones seem to fire up the imagination).

chandelier
Mix classic and contemporary with the stunning Fame White Chandelier.

If you want something in a nude tone that is especially quirky, check out the extraordinary Elk Stag Head Knocker from Rockett St George. This type of door-knocker is timeless, but this little beauty still feels very contemporary. I love its quizzical, almost comic feel. It makes a fantastic statement and focal point, and ensures that all guests will be very sure that it’s your door they’re knocking at when they pop in for tea and cake.

For a bite-size touch of nude tones in your home, why not treat yourself to some beautiful candles and candleholders? I adore the unapologetically feminine Lotus Tea Light Holders from Graham and Green, perfect for scattering around when you’re having a girly night in with a glass of wine and a good book. Rose and Grey’s Facet Tealights provide an extremely subtle take on the trend, as the clear glass is simply tinted with hints of purple and grey. The Luxury Ivory Candle from Occa Home is also lovely, and the perfect nude accessory for those who don’t wish to commit too much to the trend. Imagine it standing next to the charming pink-blushed Rustic Photo Frame from Primrose and Plum; what a lovely little pair they’d make.

So, when life is getting tough, introduce some soothing nude tones into your home. They’re classic, trendy and simply beautiful. What more could you want?

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Buyer's guide to wardrobes

by Mica Kelly on February 28, 2011
wardrobe
Oriental Shanxi Wardrobe, £899, Puji

We've put together a handy guide of all the best wardrobe ideas for your home.

Wardrobes often act as one of the primary storage spaces in a home, and choosing a new one can be daunting. This handy guide covers all the important factors to consider when deciding on a wardrobe; from choosing the right style for your room to more practical elements such as the amount of hanging space.

Fitted wardrobes

Fitted wardrobes are often a popular choice in rooms which need a large amount of storage, or where the furniture is likely to stay in the same place. It is important to be entirely happy with the placement of the wardrobes as once they are fitted, the space for other furniture becomes less flexible. There are plenty of furniture, and interior design, companies that will design and install custom fitted wardrobes to your personal specification. Alternatively, for a fitted look without the permanence you could opt for a three or four door wardrobe. This beautifully solid Georgian wardrobe from Sweetpea and Willow has plenty of storage space, with two full length hanging sections, a shelved section and two drawers.

Freestanding wardrobes

The distinct advantage of a freestanding wardrobe is that you are able to move it easily around a room, making it a flexible addition to your furniture collection. The majority of ready to buy wardrobes on the market fall within this category, and it is important to take measurements correctly to ensure that your new addition will fit well within your space. This oak wardrobe from John Lewis would make a solid addition to most bedrooms. Despite the simple design, this wardrobe demonstrates an exceptional level of craftsmanship; with a shelf and plenty of hanging space inside, as well as three external drawers, this double wardrobe will have room for all your belongings.

wardrobe
Georgian 3 Door Wardrobe, £915, Sweetpea and Willow

Appearance

There are plenty of gorgeous wardrobes about at the moment, with companies such as The French Bedroom Company and Sweetpea and Willow offering a huge array of classically designed investment pieces. Mirrors are known for their ability to create a feeling of extra space within a room which provides an excellent reason for choosing a wardrobe with mirrored doors. This striking black mirrored armoire from The French Bedroom Company might not be to everyone’s taste but it’s bold colour is a quirky twist on French chic, and certainly makes a statement. This opulent <a href-" http://furnish.co.uk/items/172853-cleopatra-mirrored-wardrobe">Cleopatra mirrored wardrobe from Lover’s Lounge would also add a luxurious touch to any boudoir.

For those of you with love of traditional simplicity in their interiors, this oriental wardrobe from Puji combines practical details, such as the large drawer for bulkier items, with a high quality finish. The sleek finish gives the wardrobe a contemporary feel, whilst retaining other conventional features like the beautiful antique finish.

Shelves and rails

As storage is the main function of a wardrobe, and despite the importance of aesthetics when choosing one, it is crucial to find a piece that will meet your storage needs. Almost all wardrobes will have an internal rail where you can hang up all of your clothes, but shelves also prove useful for folding and storing bulkier items. Self-assembly wardrobes are often great places to start if you are looking for multiple storage options, as they often offer a freedom to decide on the number of shelves you require as well as their placement within the wardrobe. This wardrobe kit from Habitat offers a pack of four shelves and a hanging rail for use within their RADIUS wardrobe ,meaning you can effectively construct the wardrobe’s interior according to your specific needs.

This gorgeous oriental inspired wardrobe from Shimu offers similar benefits, but with a bespoke finish; you can request other colours and sizes to order. This solid wardrobe has two removable shelves, as well as a unique pull out hanging role to allow for easy access to your clothes.

wardrobe
Boori Junior Wardrobe, £899, John Lewis

Drawers

Drawers also provide an excellent extra storage space within a wardrobe, and are often a good idea if you don’t have the space for a separate chest of drawers in your room. This timeless timber wardrobe from John Lewis has three built in drawers, as well as internal and external shelving for a hugely practical storage unit. For a less bulky alternative, this sleek bamboo wardrobe from Coco Male offers designer levels of sophistication, with the two discreet drawers blending into the neutral design.

Hanging storage

Ample hanging space within a wardrobe is key when making a decision. This full hanging wardrobe from Puji offers plenty of height for hanging longer length items, and a sophisticated wooden exterior. For wardrobes which only offer a hanging rail, and no drawers or shelves, it is also possible to purchase lightweight canvas shelves which hang down from the rail to provide extra storage for bulkier items.

There are a huge array of wardrobes on the market to suit a variety of budgets and interiors, and to ensure that your clothes have a place to hang in style.

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Interview with Utility

by Alice Stride on February 27, 2011
chair
The beautiful Lamino Chair in grey.

We catch up with Dick Mawdsley of Utility, recently awarded the Telegraph Magazine’s Best Small Shop Award by the queen of retail Mary Portas.

You recently won the Telegraph Magazine’s Best Small Shop Award, chosen by none other than Mary Portas. Why do you think small shops are so important?

Small shops can be more creative in their approach to retailing so it’s possible to do things that are more locally orientated than a multiple. For example, our store in Liverpool One benefits from high tourist footfall and we have geared part of the merchandise to that specific market. It’s also possible to take a few more risks when it comes to buying which the multiples would be loath to do. Good small shops can be exciting places to visit, and are often what helps locations stand out from the norm.

Do you think that in these difficult economic times, consumers want to step away from the corporate big brands and move towards a company like yours?

I think that in modern retailing, things move very quickly, so there’s definitely a trend to look to new and smaller niche companies who do something unique; there has been a small but noticeable change towards products that are hand-crafted or made in the UK. I think smaller retailers like us can excel at customer service in a way that large corporate companies can’t, and that is how you can help create a strong point of difference when combined with good-looking store environments and great products.

When you source products to sell, what do you look for?

We look for things that are either useful, beautiful or just fun – or a combination of all three. In addition, we try to find things that are not too widely available, yet are commercial. If products are too experimental or extreme then customers won’t buy them. Plain and simple. We often find that we are first in finding products only for the multiple and department stores to pick them up a couple of years later.

chair
Be bold and beautiful with an Eames RAR and British Isles Print.

Describe Utility’s ethos in three words.

Clean, contemporary – but fun.

What is your vision for Utility? Where do you want to be in five years time?

We’d like more stores in various cities across the UK; we believe there is room for a small chain of design-led stores which doesn’t exist currently here. In addition, we’d like our website to continue to be at the forefront of modern design retailing.

What inspires Utility?

Our sector is exciting and there is a wealth of design talent out there waiting to be tapped. We’d like to bring some of our own products to market using some of the new young designers who are producing great things, or who are still studying. With that in mind, we have just teamed up with Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) to set a project for the 2nd year product-design students to design something for Utility. We hope it’s the start of further collaborations with LJMU, which will produce some exciting results.

What do you feel makes Utility stand out against other interior-design shops?

We don’t try to be elitist and we do sell products which are commercial; this is simply good business sense. We’re not afraid of colour and trying to inject a bit of fun or humour into things. Our stores will never be a homage to all things beige. Some of the things that we sell are undoubtedly expensive and we make no apology for this; we only sell original design products. We will not sell fakes, as we feel it undermines both the original product and the designer. If people who made copies invested the money in new design instead of plagiarising originals, just think how much more great products there would be out there!

What is your best-selling product, and why do you think this is?

Best-selling products change all the time – but currently our best-selling chair, for example, is the Wishbone Chair by Hans Wegner for Carl Hansen. It’s a truly beautiful piece of heritage furniture that will be passed on.

furnish
Add an eclectic point of interest to your home with the Curiosity Box by Hay.

What led to the creation of the Utility Boutique?

The gift boutique format is a way of presenting the beautiful gift ranges that we sell in a smaller format store, and allows us to expand our customer reach as not everyone buys furniture or lighting everyday – but most people have something or someone to celebrate every month.

How do you ensure that your products have a contemporary edge?

This comes down to sourcing. We always try to be mindful of existing products that we sell. Regarding furniture, we have noticed a trend away from the sleek contemporary modular look towards a more eclectic, considered look which is more evolved than ‘interior-designed’. We constantly edit our collections and look for new products or manufacturers and designers that we can represent in one of our stores.

What’s next for Utility?

We are looking for new stores at the moment (location is a secret though!). In addition, our website is undergoing some major changes, so watch this space.

What’s your favourite product?

The Lamino Chair in sheepskin (at the moment). But, because we sell great things and have access to so many amazing products my favourite does change!

How to create the perfect kids room

by Mica Kelly on February 22, 2011
beds and bunk
Tilly & George Bunk Bed, £800, Great Little Trading Company

We show you how to create the ideal space for your children to enjoy

Creating a fun yet practical room for your child to spend time in can be tricky and time consuming. Especially when you’ve already got your hands full looking after them! So we’ve put together a handy guide full of exciting ideas for your child’s room.

Furniture

There is a huge array of furniture available for your child’s room, depending on the kind of space you wish to create. This

Finding a good wardrobe is also important as this can provide valuable extra storage space in a small room. This junior wardrobe from Found Home Store has adjustable shelving as well as plenty of hanging space.

As your child grows up you might also want to consider adding a desk to the bedroom, to create an organised space for them to do their homework. This vintage inspired school desk from Ghost Furniture has space to store books inside, and one lid doubles up as a blackboard; perfect for keeping younger children entertained.

Storage

A bookcase is an ideal place for your child to store and display all of their books and toys. This eye catching doll’s house unit from Great Little Trading Company is sure to brighten up any little girls’ bedroom.

Alternatively, a toy box is the perfect solution for hiding away those piles of teddy bears and games. This chunky wooden toy box from John Lewis provides plenty of storage space, and comes in three different finishes to suit every interior.

bookcase
Doll's House Bookcase, £100, Great Little Trading Company

Textiles

The perfect time to get creative with your kids room is when choosing bedding and curtains. Textiles can be used to brighten up simple surroundings, and can be easily updated as your child grows. The Pole House has a wide selection of beautiful bedding in bold colours that children will love, such as this pink animal baby blanket.

Buying children’s bedding doesn’t mean compromising on quality either, as this luxurious organic cotton duvet cover from The Fine Cotton Company proves. The blue stars and moons design provides a perfect bed time theme, and with a 200 thread count you can rest assured that your child will have a comfortable night’s sleep.

Cushions are great for adding a cosy finishing touch to a child’s bed. These cute character cushions from BODIE and FOU, will add a splash of contemporary colour to the room as well as being perfect for cuddling!

Wallpaper and Wall Stickers

Prints and wall stickers will help to add the fun factor to a child’s room. This striking animal tower wall sticker from 95% Danish is perfect for animal mad kids, whilst these psychedelic fairground stickers from BODIE and FOU will make an exciting feature of a plain wall.

This funky penguin print wallpaper from Caroline McGrath will give a modern yet practical lift to a bedroom; its wipe clean surface makes it a perfect choice for a room full of sticky fingers!

Children love to put their own stamp on their bedroom and this bold multi frame from Oliver Bonas will offer them an opportunity to get creative. Let your kids pick their favourite photos to add to the 28 frames; you could even add old postcards and drawings for a homely touch.

wallpaper
Penguin Wallpaper in Turquoise, £37, Caroline McGrath

Flooring

Placing a rug on the floor of your child’s room can make the space feel warm and inviting, and there are plenty of fun options available at the moment to help add a colour statement to the space. This cloud shaped rug from Heal’s doubles as a play mat, and the bold helicopter and plane motif is sure to capture a child’s imagination.

BODIE and FOU offer more contemporary flooring options, whilst still using cute designs that children will love. This apple rug has been designed by Michele Masson for the range, and will add a bright quirky touch to a kids’ bedroom.

Lighting

Adding an eye catching lampshade to the ceiling, or a lamp to your child’s desk provides a lovely finishing touch to the bedroom. Hunkydory Home have a gorgeous selection of lampshades in different prints. This magic jungle lampshade will add some fun colour to a younger child’s bedroom, and is also available in a matching cushion, whilst this red gingham shade offers a more classic lighting solution.

Night lights are also a great idea if your little ones have trouble getting to sleep. These cute magic lanterns from Great Little Trading Company give out a gentle glow as the pictures slowly rotate for a soothing effect.

Your child will spend plenty of time in their bedroom as they grow up, making it important to create a bright and beautiful space for them to enjoy. Hopefully the ideas above will help you to create a multi-functional room where they will be able to play, learn and sleep.

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Boori Classic Single Bedstead by John Lewis
£399

Beautiful Bespoke

by Saima Kara on February 19, 2011
wall sticker
Name Letter Wall Stickers from Spin Collective

Want that unique look? Going bespoke needn’t break the bank, we show you how.

Bespoke is all the rage at the moment and it might seem like a unique look or piece is going to cost a lot more than something from a regular retailer, but just a few small personal touches can show off your personality and make the difference in your home.

Wall stickers are fabulous place to start.

These name letters are great, particularly for a child’s room. They can brighten up a plain wall and add real character, and come in various colours. No doubt your son or daughter would be pleased having their name up above their bed! Or for a kooky spin, you could spell out KITCHEN, LIVING ROOM, BEDROOM in each appropriate room to create a personal, playful feel.

Personalise your bed with a bespoke headboard.

The French Bedroom Company make bespoke headboards from £300 right up to £1295 depending on what you’re looking for, and these range from contemporary brights to boudoir luxury. They’ll make any bedroom feel original and lavish, additionally the excellent quality means they’re a great investment piece.

Want to design your own piece of furniture?

London Cows has an excellent range of bespoke furniture including chaise, chairs and footstools. Here you can choose your hide (own fabric, natural cow hide or zebra hide) as well as the furniture design (size and leg style). Prices for their bespoke range start at just £200. The unconventional cowhide and zebra print really would create an unusual, eccentric look.

Rocomara also make unique bespoke pieces. They produce their bespoke console tablein different colours and finishes at request, as well as the pricier bespoke coffee table, bespoke screen and bespoke turquoise side board.

Take it one step further by designing your own sofa or bed.

Sofa.com lets you do exactly that. From armchairs and the classic L shape, to divans and button headboards you can choose a style and fabric to suit you. Want more? They even let you choose your own fabric and offer customised extras on request. Prices start at £600.

sofa
The Jackson Three Seat Sofa in Claret Pure Cotton Matt Velvet from Sofa.com

Looking to jazz up your floor?

Crucial Trading, who specialise in natural flooring, offer a great bespoke rug service. On their website they have a tool where you are able to choose the size, pick the weave and fabric of the rug centre, as well as the optional inner border and outer border. You can even choose a background floor colour to see what your chosen design would look like on your floor. Great for those who want a long lasting piece, which suits your personality as well as your room!

Not an artist, but want a unique canvas?

55 Max offer a bespoke service where you can create single image or photomontage canvases which start at just £79. You can choose the images and submit them and they then come back to you with a design. 55 Max also create personalised roller blinds starting at £109 as well as bespoke wallpaper and fabric (starting at £45 per square metre).

Rockett St George also produce two bespoke canvases bespoke Name Tattoo Canvas and bespoke Name Bird Tattoo Canvas which are quirky and cost just £55 each.

print
Rockett St George Bespoke Bird Name Tattoo Canvas

For distinctive curtains and blinds go to The Natural Curtain Company. They make bespoke curtains, roman blinds and roller blinds. When choosing curtains (Starting at £52 for 1m x 1m) you choose the fabric (they send out free samples), heading, lining and any extra details, then simply pay. Roman blinds start at £148 and roller blinds at £125. It’s incredibly quick and easy. You can even use your own fabric if you want a really personalised pair of curtains or blinds. You can even order cushions and bedspreads to match or clash depending on your taste!

Feeling Inspired?

Fantastic! Get painting, designing, browsing and buying to create your very own bespoke home. Whether it’s a unique photomontage wall or a vintage piece of furniture found at your local car boot sale you’ve re-upholstered, be proud of who you are and show off your personal style in your home.

Trend Watch: Metallics

by Saima Kara on February 17, 2011
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Metallics on the Catwalk 3.1 Phillip Lim Credit: Getty Images

Metallics are big news on the catwalk again this season, we show you how to make them shine in your home.

Metallics have been on the catwalk for a few years now, and the good news is they are still bang on trend. During 2010 there was a distinct focus on reflective sequins as seen at Phillip Lim and Balmain, but for Spring/Summer 2011 we have seen the emergence of a more delicate, soft, metallic look. From the flowing shimmer maxi dresses seen at Jenny Packham and Victoria Beckham to textured metallic bags with a hint of a sparkle at Mulberry.

On first thought, metallics in the home may seem sterile and space-age, however, the metallic trend can easily be integrated into any home, maintaining a relaxed yet modern feel. The contrast of soft furnishings and strong metallic lines can create a really interesting look in any room, so get creative and start experimenting!

If you’re looking to make a drastic change, apply Barneby Gates All Star Gun Metal Wallpaper - Gun Metal to one wall, and apply silver shimmer paint to the rest of the room. This Wilderness White Gold Wallpaper from Danish is delicate and elegant, perfect for smaller rooms wishing to go for a metallic wall without it being too overpowering.

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Barneby Gates All Star Wallpaper - Gun Metal from Rockett St George, £75.

Mirrors are great way to make rooms look more spacious and fit in perfectly with this trend. Looking for a round mirror? Check out the Lombok Metal Plated Round Mirror and Silver Swirl Mirror from Alexander and Pearl. The Lombok Metal Plated Mirror is a fabulous full length option. Other metallic inspired pieces such as Medina Metal Stool from Coco Male and Lombok Walton Table Lamp would add to the look. The textured finish of these pieces make them less severe and both would add a touch of luxury and sparkle to any room.

For a hint of the trend add metallic accessories such as Lombok Decorative Stainless Steel Leaves. These beautiful metal leaves look great placed on a plain surface or in a vase. Metal Wall Art is another way to embrace the trend and Garden and Beet do some great pieces, such as Metal Wall Art Wild Flower. Looking for something a little bit more unique? Check out Chrome Dreyfuss Telephone from Oliver Bonas and Aluminium Greyhound Bookends from Sweetpea and Willow.

For an instant injection of the metallic trend, incorporate a feature piece such as this Chrome Silver Embossed Large Chest from The Orchard. With a unique look and texture, this attention-grabbing chest pays homage to the decadence of the catwalk. This Chrome Embossed White Metal Coffee Table from Graham & Green is a perfect example of a metallic piece which stands out yet remains stylised and homely. Compliment with Chrome Moroccan Metallic Fabric Pouffe from Coco Male for an ethnic feel.

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Embossed White Metal Coffee Table from Graham & Green, £195.30.

The trend could also be introduced into your home with a gorgeous metallic rug and Heal’s have both gold and silver rugs to choose from. The Mercury Silver Shaggy Rug is more of a statement piece whilst the Metallics Gold Rug is more subtle, leaving people guessing what you’ve changed without being too obvious. Slightly more expensive, either of these would work as an investment piece, fitting in with various colour schemes for many years to come.

So, step away from the space age, but embrace 2011 by integrating unique metallic pieces into your home. These shimmering tones will make it feel unique, trendy and comfortable.

Interview with Amanda Talbot

by Alexandra Thomas on February 15, 2011
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Amanda shows us how to work the gingham trend on her blog SnOOP

We catch up with interiors guru and editor of SnOOP Amanda Talbot

Amanda Talbot IS interiors, whether she’s writing about gorgeous homes across the globe or acting as a consultant for brands as diverse as Ikea and WGSN, if there’s one things Amanda knows, it’s homes and style. Previously Associate Editor for Elle Decoration UK and Homes Editor for Livingtc, Amanda now edits her own blog SnOOP.

We caught up with her for the lowdown on what it’s like to write about others homes and what makes her tick.

What made you decide to write about people’s houses?

I was already styling for magazines but I couldn’t get any jobs that took me outside the country. I love travelling so I was trying to think how I could see the world and get paid for it. House shoots was an obvious solution.

Which is the most famous home you’ve ever shot?

I guess Karl Lagerfeld at his new Paris minimal apartment filed with Zaha Hadid and Established & Sons. It would be Lenny Kravitz but my Editor at the time thought it was more important for her to interview him. “Yeah Right!”. I was a little gutted at the time because it took me four years to set it up.

I think you can get a real sense of personality from someone’s house? Have you ever come across someone who this wasn’t true of?

Every house I have been in gives me an amazing sense of the people who live there. For example I have been in minimal styled homes and opened a cupboard to find complete chaos inslde. Other times I have been in eclectic homes with a wardrobe filled with suits. SnOOping in someoes home for the day can say more about a persons character than an intimate conversation. I often walk away from a shoot and feel like I know a homeowner better than some of my friends. It still really amazes me how people open up their homes and their lives to me to let others have a look in.

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SnOOP covers everything from trends to clever ideas. This cool way to display bags comes courtesy of photographer Jason Busch

Being in someone’s home and taking pictures is an intensely personal thing – has anyone ever asked you not to shoot or write about a room?

The people who I have covered are usually so proud of their homes so are more than happy for all of their house to be photographed. However, if a room let down the rest of the house we would not shoot it. Funny enough it is very hard to find a house with a great bathroom. We would often leave this room out of a shoot.

Which house has surprised you most?

Fashion Designer and Top Design host Todd Oldham’s Tree House. I went to have his Pennsylvania house photographed and while we were taking his portrait he asked if I would like to see his tree house. When I visited Todd’s treehouse nestled sixty-feet up I was literally drunk! Not with spirits or by grapes but I was giddy with joy. I couldn’t stop giggling and I had a smile stretching ear to ear. I felt adventerous and found myself craking jokes I use to make when I was 12-years-old. Visiting Todd’s creation was one of the most magical days I have ever had.

Do you have a favourite and why?

It has to be the 60’s modernist gem set up in Mulholland Drive. The colours and architecture were amazing. It was my first house shoot in Los Angeles and I guess I have always been on the search to find a house to match it. I haven’t yet.

What’s your own home like?

I live in a modest two bedroom seaside apartment. It’s filled with colour and way too many accessories. I should say it’s eclectic but it just needs a good old edit.

Do you have a favourite era when it comes to design and interiors?

I’m fascinated by Japanese design and modern architecture. The design principals hold onto the country’s historical traditions and rituals but the designs and interiors are modern and relevant to us today. I love all design that connects nature to the indoors.

How do you keep on top of interiors news?

Blogs, twitter and magazines I look too daily. I don’t really follow one in particular because their are always new and exciting ones popping up. Sometimes I do feel like my head is about to explode with information.

What are your favourite decor magazines?

Apartmento is my absolute favourite. I look at British ELLE Decoration for current designers and homes, Livingetc for styling ideas, Wallpaper to see who and what is hot, RUE magazine for their videos.

To check out Amanda’s blog log onto www.heartanddesign.blogspot.com

Interview with The French Bedroom Company

by Alice Stride on February 14, 2011
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Traditional meets modern with the gorgeous Bubblegum Pink Mirror.

We catch up with Georgia Metcalfe at The French Bedroom Company for the lowdown on everything ooh la la...

What inspired you to start The French Bedroom Company? Pictures, films, experiences?

The French have a knack of getting things right in the creative department – cooking, fashion, art, ballet, interiors; they have a deep-rooted history of visual appreciation. After many years of family holidays to France I developed a real passion for French design – the rococo swirls, the carvings, the femininity of the designs and the soft muted tones – ivory, creams, pale blues. For my 30th birthday, I wanted to treat myself to a gorgeous upholstered French bed but couldn’t find the right one – and so The French Bedroom Company was born!

What do you love about the French look?

I love the sophisticated Parisian furniture, designed for the kings (the most well-known are Louis XIV, XV and XVI), the aristocrats and the rich bourgeoisie with its really over-the-top, flamboyant designs with touches of gold, ebony, ivory, marble and tortoiseshell. But, I also love the less glamorous French provincial furniture made in the towns and cities during the 1700s. It has a more distinct artisanal edge and an element of rural chic, made from woods and painted in a more rustic finish; the tables and chairs just seem to have been made purely for lolling about on lazy sunny afternoons drinking wine with the scent of lavender in the air!

Do you feel your products reflect a French way of life?

The French are synonymous with glamour and high-style. And, recently, French style has become about combining the most glamorous elements of historic and traditional designs with modern high-style. So, a traditionally-shaped French Bedroom Chair with signature French cabriole style legs and carvings is finished in a black velvet with a high gloss black frame, like the Sassy Boo Lady’s Chair, or a traditional shaped mirror is finished in a pale pink gloss, like the Bubblegum Mirror, or a bright purple and silver, such as the Passion Mirror. This mixing of style is reflected in French clothing, food and also architecture.

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The Sassy Boo Lady's Chair epitomises sleek French style.

Which elements of French culture can be seen in your products?

The French have a reputation for the love of fine materials: silks, marbles, precious woods, and classic design that with stands the test of time and stands well above the crowd. A Chanel jacket or a demi-lune console table; both items will look lovely for decades to come and be enjoyed your children and your children’s children. French style and culture is about buying precious things that are to be treasured, and are built to last – in both the style and the heirloom stakes.

What is your best-selling product, and why do you think it is a bestseller?

Our best-selling item is our Versailles Upholstered Bed. We love this item because it’s the height of decadence, and a real statement piece, but at the same time it doesn’t scream “Look at me!” The muted tone of the beige silk sits beautifully against the antiquated gold frame. It’s such a good seller because it sits so well in almost any room scheme – so it’s great in a traditional room with carpets and swagged curtains, and also wonderful in a more ‘loft style’ room scheme with painted floorboards and blinds.

Where do you see your company in five years time?

We like to think we really push the boundaries of design. The mix of modern and traditional antique styles is a current trend, but we intend to explore this even further by working with suppliers to develop furniture, lighting and mirrors with quirky colours and finishes. Without giving too much away, we are working with a supplier on a new plastic which contains hundreds of LED lights – so your bed can light up! On a more traditional note, one of our favourite pieces we sell is the Waterloo Chair – a French antique chair upholstered in vintage Union Jack Flag fabric for the perfect mix of French and British! It’s these sorts of pieces that we want to source and design to give our company a quirky and fun edge.

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The beautiful best-selling Versailles Upholstered Bed.

Where is your favourite place in France?

The Hotel Costes for its unashamed love of luxury. It has been a den of decadence for decades for the French aristocracy, the bourgeoisie, fashionistas and celebrities. The furniture, lighting, fabrics, and ambience all create a very debauched and self-indulgent venue where you can almost hear the adulterous whisperings of the past behind Louis XV sofas – and they serve the most delicious afternoon tea too!

If you could describe The French Bedroom Company’s ethos in 3 words, what would they be?

Inspirational, aspirational and timeless.

How do you ensure that your products have a unique edge?

We choose our suppliers really carefully. When we look to work with a new supplier we don’t just look at their product range; we also look at their quality of products, the ethics behind their furniture production (our largest furniture supplier is a big family business who only make furniture from wood from sustainable forests), their flexibility (we like to offer items in alternative sizes and colours where possible) and also their delivery timings (we know that when our customers want their new furniture they want it asap). We work with over 30 suppliers to offer a really comprehensive and also unique range of items that perfectly complement each other. All of our staff have interior-design training and backgrounds, to offer help and advice to customers. We aim to take the hassle out of choosing furniture, so all that’s left is the fun!

Trend Watch: Brights

by Alice Stride on February 13, 2011
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Picture by Jil Sander.

Say goodbye to dreary grey with our top tips for letting the brightest shades into your home

Big, bold, punchy brights are all the rage this season: a cacophony of colour to help power us through another uncertain British year. Your immediate environment is a crucial aspect of your wellbeing, so if you’re feeling blue (or grey), inject a hit of of rainbow into your home to lift your spirits, ease stress, and make you smile.

If you prefer a neutral palette throughout your abode but want a splash of beautiful brightness, have a look at the fantastic array of colourful home accessories on Furnish. I love the Summer Brights Egg Cups from Heals – twee in the best possible way and guaranteed to liven up your morning boiled egg. Plus, you can choose the colour according to your 7am mood: yellow for joy, orange for warmth, red for passion, and pink for sweetness. Lovely. If you like the egg-cups, check out the Red Summer Brights Colander, also from Heals.

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Brights can be used to bring life to a neutral wall.

But, if bright kitchen accessories aren’t your thing and you want some bold colour in other parts of your home without a trip to Dulux, why not get yourself a rug or a throw? It’s an easy nod to the trend without any drastic changes to the space, and a fabulous way to give a tired sofa or bare floor a new lease of life. After all, that’s what this trend is all about – infusing zest and making something ordinary that bit more exciting. The directional Botanica Rug from BODIE and Fou certainly ticks all these boxes: a delicious shade of punchy pink with quirky cut-outs of birds, leaves and butterflies. For a rug with a more classic shape – but no less unusual – have a peek at the sartorial brilliance of the bright 62p Stamp Rug from Rockett St George. It’s very appropriate for this year too, what with the royal nuptials fast approaching. Or, for a simple block of colour, take a look at the Tuareg rugs from Heals, available in bright pink, bright red and turquoise; they’d look fantastic against a stripped wooden floor. Throws-wise, I adore the brilliant Flata Throw from Occa Home. The vibrant shades of orange and red make me feel like I’ve had a truckload of fortifying vitamin C, whilst the textured cable-knit adds interest. Primrose and Plum also have a great Herringbone Brights throw, in vivid lime-green or turquoise. They’re made from 100% lambswool for an especially cosy dose of brightness.

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Andy Warhol's iconic image of Marily Monroe.

For a very quirky splash of colour, check out the brilliant Bright Cube DIY Clock from The Contemporary Home. You can make it particularly unique by positioning the squares on your wall any way you like: brightly coloured, functional, and fun – is this the best clock in the world? They also stock an outrageously colourful and kitsch Ornate Gypsy Chandelier, available in small, medium or large, with hanging beads and crystals that scatter rainbow light when its switched on. A similarly magical effect could be gained from the stunning Multicoloured Pendant Chandelier Shade; I simply don’t know which one I’d choose. My other favourite product from The Contemporary Home’s excellent array of brightly-coloured products is the charmingly-titled Rainbow Tower Espresso Stand. A morning espresso becomes doubly cheering with this gorgeous little set; team it up with the egg-cups from Heals and breakfast will be the happiest meal of the day.

If you’d prefer to see your dash of brightness in your home on your walls, check out the fantastic Kitsch Frames Wall Stickers from Bohemia Design. They’ll look great if placed around a favourite photograph, or just stick them on a bare wall for a very cool and quirky look. Spin Collective have also got an amazing range of coloured wall stickers for children and adults alike. For any devout Londoners out there, treat yourself to the wonderful Famille Summerbelle London Map Print in a bold Bus Red as an on-trend reminder of what you love about the old city.

When it comes to bright colours and art, there’s no escaping the legendary Andy Warhol. Check out 55Max’s equally vivid and fantastic version of the original Warhol print of Marilyn Monroe, depicting her with flaming orange hair. The Marilyn print is a landmark work of art that would make a brilliant statement piece in any home.

So, remember that the future’s bright: the future’s orange (and red, and yellow, and pink, and green). Infuse your home with some punchy colour power and feel your bad mood melt away.