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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!

Buyer's guide to Blinds

by Mica Kelly on March 08, 2011
blind
‘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.

blind
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.

blind
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
sofa
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
throw
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.

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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 Toy Box by John Lewis
Boori Toy Box by John Lewis
£229
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.

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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.

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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.

wallpaper
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.

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Interview with Amanda Talbot

by Alexandra Thomas on February 15, 2011
furnish
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
mirror
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
furnish
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.

Trend Watch: Pleats

by Alice Stride on February 06, 2011
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Picture by Burberry.

Pleats are as big a story on the catwalk as they are in the home. We show you how to take them into the fold.

If you type ‘pleats 2011’ into Google, it will throw up over 3 million results from a plethora of magazines, websites and fashion blogs, all decreeing that pleats are big news this year. Pleats are all grown-up now, and are being used in fresh, innovative ways on the catwalk – a major departure from the drab grey skirts many of us wore as part of our hideous compulsory school uniform. Instead, think elegance and refinement as we show how the pleats trend can be brought into your home.

Pleats are a wonderful way to introduce some sleek sophistication into the home thanks to their olde-worlde traditional feel. How luxurious it must be, to sleep in a bed surrounded by pleated draperies – it’d be like being a member of the Royal family. The home-styling stalwart Heal’s stock a fantastic range of pleated curtains in an array of brilliant colours. I’m a big fan of the Faux Suede Parchment; the soft, neutral colour evokes stylish French living and will add a touch of class to any room. Not only do pleated draperies look fantastically elegant, they also help insulate the home if you hang them over windows. Beautiful and practical – what could be better?

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Luxuriate with the beautiful Richmond Organic Cotton Pleated Bed Linen range from £15 from The Fine Cotton Company

But, pleats shouldn’t be confined to the bedroom- they’re also a fantastic way to add a splash of interest to an otherwise dull object. Check out the delightful Pleat Table Lamp from Heals, or the wonderful Scala Glass Floor Lamp with a gorgeous charcoal-grey pleated shade from Brissi. The pleated lampshades will update your home without you having to sweat over any window-measurements for new curtains or draperies: a simple way to nod to the trend. Pleats can also infuse new life into a chair that’s been looking sorry for itself. I love the peek-a-boo cheekiness of a chair with pleats, with its bit of leg showing under the skirt. The pleats infuse it with a whole new level of sauciness – who’d have thought it possible? If you want a pleated chair that’s incredibly directional, check out the amazing Peacock Chair by Studio Dror. It truly highlights the remarkable ways pleats can are used today, and how very modern indeed they are.

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Scala glass floor lamp with grey pleated shade, £1,250 from Brissi

However, as we all well know, we are living in an age of austerity. 2011, for many, is the year we rein in our spending, and thus buying new bits and bobs for the home might seem extravagant. However, pleating is not a difficult skill to master, and if you’re cutting back on your socialising and want something to do to fill the time, why not unleash your inner Martha Stewart and learn how to do it yourself? If that tickles your fancy, check out the brilliant www.e-how.com for straightforward instructions on sewing beautiful pleated curtains. The website covers a variety of pleats, from French Pleats to Box Pleats to Pinch Pleats, and has a step-by-step guide to help you along the way. If sewing curtains sounds too much like hard work, have a look at the gorgeous www.makeit-loveit.com for a simple tutorial on how to make your own pleated cushion cover.

So remember, this year: straight is out and glorious pleats are the way forward.

Trend Watch: Retro

by Emma Foale on February 01, 2011
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Prada Catwalk collection Autumn/Winter 2010, (image from www.focusonstyle.com)

We show you how to go retro...

The retro look returns to the catwalks and the Prada collection for Autumn/Winter 2010 boasted elegant 50’s inspired dresses in dark prints, beehive hair and high-pointed shoes.

A retro colour scheme will embrace bold geometric patterns in clashing shades such as brown, orange, silver, lime green, teal or turquoise. This is the one trend that allows you to break all the rules and have fun. One way to bring an abundance of colour to a room, if you’re willing to be so bold is with a feature wall or by papering all four walls. Retro wallpaper is in vogue and anything from abstract and bold floral designs is acceptable with this trend. Try Graham & Brown for an excellent selection of Retro and Geo print wallpaper.

Decorating a room with two different wallpapers was a popular theme in the 50’s; clashing designs that are vibrant and heavily patterned can work in larger areas and in rooms that have no other dominating colour scheme. We love the Alice wallpaper in kitsch mustard yellow from BODIE and FOU. This is part of the “Folk Rock” collection from Mini Moderns and it was inspired by a piece of vintage barkcloth fabric from a Californian thrift.

Retro furniture reflects how 50’s and 60’s interiors were influenced by sculptural organic design. With intuitive modern designers Charles and Ray Eames experimenting with new materials such as fibre glass, plywood and aluminium, furniture of the time was beginning to shape the future.

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Mixed Up Side Table, £425, Rose & Grey

The gorgeous chocolate brown Lusk armchair, designed by Orla Kiely and available from Heal’s, draws inspiration from vintage mid-century furniture design. It’s crafted from a hardwood frame and finished with walnut stained, beech tapered legs. Its smooth, curved and sculptured appearance draws similarities with the Eames chair. Even, the iconic 50’s style Suzani Fabric Upholstered Chair from Graham and Green looks funky and fresh with its psychedelic fabric. Don’t be afraid of bright pops of colour; with a retro room you can playfully mismatch your furniture so try a bright orange pouffe or a luxurious green shag pile rug to contrast this chair.

Fluffy throws and cushions will soften geometric patterns and bold colours; you can even try floor cushions and bean bags for an ultra comfortable and relaxed feeling. I love the Great British Biscuits cushion designed by Martin Wiscombe. It has a vintage feel that all tea lovers and biscuit dunkers will adore.

Keep your decor quite simple, nothing too fussy, because retro is all about dramatic, bold statements. Pack up your troubles with this set of two Retro storage trunks from Rose & Grey. They’re bright, fun and an ideal simple storage solution.

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Great British Biscuits cushion (Martin Winscombe art print cushion), £34.95, Rustic Angels

A retro dining room can be inspired by some smaller touches such as the 60’s inspired floral Sugar or Flour Shaker from Serendipity Street or Orla Kiely’s colourful Cross Hatch Placemats and Coasters from Heal’s.

For some stylish, retro chic, I’d choose the Pink Trim Phone from Oliver Bonas for my living room. The newly re-released TRIM phones are made by Wild and Wolf and they feel decidedly lighter compared to the heavier original. You’ll find them in a variety of different colours to match or indeed clash with your retro inspired room. Or why not opt for a lava lamp; a retro classic that’s not to be forgotten. Alternatively, brighten up your room with a quirky pendant or table lamp such as Original BTC’s Stanley Copper Ceiling Light or the London Desk Lamp, both available from John Lewis, for that retro chrome look. These designs bring an interesting, modern twist to some traditional, practical and stylish designs.

Give your home a retro revival with some bold choices in colour and key accessory pieces and they’ll be no looking back.

Trend Watch: Texture

by Emma Foale on January 31, 2011
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Louise Gray Spring/Summer 2011 collection at London Fashion Week (image from fashionistabarbieuk.com)

Experiment with and combine playful textures in your home for a look that is right on trend.

Experiment with and combine playful textures in your home for a look that is right on trend and an ideal way to give your home a tactile and interesting look.

If Louise Gray’s Spring/Summer 2011 collection is anything to go by, we can expect bright and playful textures and colours to inspire the world of interior design. Make this on trend patchwork look work in your home with some gorgeous textures such as Johnstons Patchwork Berry Striped Lambswool Throw [http://furnish.co.uk/items/107513-johnstons-patchwork-berry-striped-lambswool-throw] or Clarissa Hulse’s handprinted Silk Patchwork Cushion http://furnish.co.uk/items/45239-clarissa-hulse-briar-neoncobalt-silk-patchwork-cushion, both available from Heal’s.

Wallcoverings

The Ribbed wallpaper from 95% Danish in turquoise and gold will give a stunning look to any room. The look and feel of the wallpaper appeals to your senses making it great for a feature wall.

Or why not try wallpanels; they’ve recently become an exciting way to create a statement in any room. They’re ideal for defining areas in open plan spaces, for creating a tall headboard in a bedroom or for highlighting an alcove. Leila is the newest intricate felt wallpanel from Selina Rose. It’s made from 100% wool and it can be used as acoustic wall panelling. The specialist acoustic foam in Selina’s innovative wall panels is made from recycled glass bottles. The felt is sourced from renewable and sustainable sources and there are 26 environmentally friendly dye colours to choose from.

I love Scandinavian Surface’s Magpie Panel Piece, available from Garrendenny Lane interiors. It’s made from a beautiful grey silk and it features a number of magpies against a grey leafy background, creating a quirky and interesting textural backdrop.

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Grey Silk Wall Panel by Scandinavian Surface, £65, Garrendenny Lane Interiors

Flooring

Carpets and rugs are a great way to bring texture to your home, especially if you have wooden or laminate flooring. Floor Couture offers a selection of sustainable floor coverings such as seagrass, coir, wool, jute and sisal. Seagrass, for example, has an even, geometric texture and natural colour which makes it an effortless and practical addition to any room. Natural flooring is a good choice all round because it offers good durability and it’s hardwearing as well as maintaining an inviting appearance.

High pile rugs are ideal for bedrooms and living rooms, whereas low pile rugs are more suited to high traffic areas such as hallways and living rooms. The delicious dark Chocolate sheepskin rug from Coco Male has a luxurious appearance and feel. Scatter a few sheepskin cushions on your sofa to complete this cosy look; I would love to snuggle up on my sofa with one of these Round Sheepskin Cushions from Heal’s.

Accessories

Texture is all about playful fun and experimentation; you can mix different textures in one room and layering is a fantastic way to create visual impact. For example, you can really bring a warm and welcoming feel to a bedroom or living room with some textured and luxurious throws, cushions and window treatments. The Pebble cushions from Found Home Store are made from a super soft chamoise fabric and they are also hand stitched on a non slip backing making them incredibly tactile.

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Bespoke Scale acoustic wall panels, POA, Selina Rose

If you’re decorating a bedroom, it’s important to use plenty of textures to create a warm and snug feel. It’s perfectly acceptable to splash out on some luxurious bedding, so why not choose this gorgeous silver blue Velvet bedspread from Primrose & Plum. Or become inspired by traditional Swedish folk art with the quirky design on Bird Blanket, also from Primrose & Plum. Perfect for a chilly evening, this blanket would be perfect for a children’s room with its bold, playful print.

Balancing soft and hard textures in the kitchen is often tricky when you have lots of cold surfaces and hard angles and edges. However, you can introduce softer textures such as tea cosies, tea towels, tablecloths and blinds. This adorable Embroidered Elephant tea cosy from Cocoboat is the perfect addition to a busy family kitchen.

So, experiment with texture to give your home a welcoming and warm feel; combine different accessories and furnishings for a fresh, modern and tactile style that will make your house feel like a home.

The Colour of the Year 2011: Honeysuckle

by Alice Stride on January 30, 2011
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Honeysuckle - from the colour chart to the catwalk

Pantone Colour of the Year - Honeysuckle 18 - 2120

Pantone, the emperor of the colour world, has decreed that Honeysuckle 18 – 2120 is the colour of the year for 2011 and it’s little wonder why. It’s not even February yet and we’ve already been hit by increased VAT, atrocious weather and depressing stories in the news. But, fear not – Honeysuckle can help us through the horrendous winter mire.

“Honeysuckle is a captivating, stimulating colour that gets the adrenaline going – perfect to ward off the blues,” says Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute. “Honeysuckle derives its positive qualities from a powerful bond to its mother colour red, the most physical, viscerally alive hue in the spectrum.” This makes it perfect for beating the January blues and providing welcome distraction from failed New Year’s resolutions.

Honeysuckle has the power to uplift and embolden, and as the importance of environment for one’s wellbeing is undeniable, it’s well worth introducing a dose of this vibrant beauty into yours. Eiseman also says that the “intensity of this festive reddish pink allures and engages. In fact, this colour, not the sweet fragrance of the flower blossoms for which it was named, is what attracts hummingbirds to nectar.” If we apply this principle to interior-design, honeysuckle in the house means that your home will become a hive of social activity – perfect for boosting the spirits in troubled times.

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A close up of Pantone's Honeysuckle swatch.

Honeysuckle is, essentially, a glorious meshing together of red, the colour of passion and courage, and pink, the colour of softness and femininity. This means that it’s perfect for men and women alike, and its cheerful, reddish-pink hues will look great in both male and female homes. A splash of honeysuckle is just the ticket for a dash of dynamic decorating: rose-tinted spectacles for the interior. It is, says Pantone, the colour of “verve and vigour”, and will instil in us the “confidence, courage and spirit to meet the exhaustive challenges that have become part of everyday life”.

And, despite its strong and vibrant tones, it works fantastically well with a huge variety of other colours. Setting it against a neutral palette will make the colour really pop – imagine this Mosaic Silk Cushion from Heals on a pale sofa or chair. The contrast between the two would be fantastic, and as we’ve all got a piece of furniture that could do with a lift, choose honeysuckle as the colour to reinvigorate yours. It also looks brilliant set against a punchy turquoise (ironically, turquoise was Pantone’s colour of 2010). That might sound a little over the top – but trust me, it looks fantastic. Turquoise is, says Pantone, the colour of “escape”, whereas honeysuckle is the colour to spur us on through the challenges of modern life. So, the two together are a great combination for the home that demands both calming and energising. I also think that honeysuckle and orange look brilliant together, and as colour-clashing is set to be huge this year, very on-trend too. Again, you might think that the combination of the two could be hideous, but it truly works (probably because they share the same mother colour). If you’re still not convinced, check out the amazing Clarissa Hulse Larch Amber and Fuchsia Silk Cushion from Heal’s and you will be very surprised indeed.

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Andy Warhol Flowers Red/Pink from Heal's, £150.50

If you’d rather have your honeysuckle in a more artistic form, consider introducing a print of the fantastic Andy Warhol Flowers Red/Pink into your home as a great focal point for any room. Warhol is synonymous with being utterly cool, and he clearly recognised the power of honeysuckle hues way back in 1964 – thus, we know honeysuckle belongs in trendy interiors. Pantone also say that honeysuckle is “guaranteed to produce a healthy glow when worn by both men and women”. This is the perfect reason to paint a wall of a room or your hallway with this delicious colour; it’ll be like an instant detox (never a bad thing after the excesses of the festive season).

So, there you have it. Honeysuckle is the colour of the year, and it’s a rather wonderful thing too. A colour to elevate, soothe and inspire; what more can you ask for? In the words of Pantone, it’s “a colour for everyday – with nothing ‘everyday’ about it”.

Shop the look...

Mixed Up Side Table from Rose & Grey

by Alexandra Thomas on January 29, 2011
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Mixed Up Side Table from Rose & Grey £425

Keep your storage stylish with this Mixed Up Side Table from Rose & Grey. £425

I’ve been searching for a bedside table for what seems like an age but nothing has seemed quite right.

I want drawers but not too many, something stylish but not overbearing and most importantly enough room to rest a glass of water and a good book.

I had almost given up all hope but then a quick tour around Rose & Grey and I found just what I’d been looking for in a matter of minutes.

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Mixed Up Side Table from Rose & Grey £425

The Mixed Up Side Table is a truly eclectic piece of furniture comprising of four differently-designed drawers stacked together.

I love the off-centre arrangement which makes it feel like a vintage-shop find and this table isn’t just perfect for the bedroom either; try it as a telephone table in a hallway, or even as stylish alternative to a filing cabinet in your home office.

Filisky Pear Pendant Light from Liberty

by Alexandra Thomas on January 28, 2011
pendant light
Filisky Large Pendant Light £125 from Liberty

Add some Eastern charm with these Filisky Pear Pendant Lights from Liberty. From £65

If there’s one shop in the world I could happily wander around all day, it’s Liberty.

I adore everything about it, from the wonderful service (even Mary Portas would be hard pushed to find something to moan about in here) and the bag department (where I lose my heart each time I go) to the brilliant interiors floor.

Here you’ll find rugs that cost the same as a small car next to affordable bits and bobs for the home; which is what I think I love about Liberty the most – its inclusiveness.

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Filisky Little Pendant Light £65 from Liberty

So as impossible as it is to choose a favourite from Liberty, these Filisky Pear Pendant lights have definitely caught my eye.

Available in two sizes, they’re made from punched, silver-plated copper and will add a touch of the East to any room.

Trend watch: Nauticals

by Emma Foale on January 26, 2011
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Christian Dior Spring/Summer 2011 Collection, (image from shoppingthetrend.com)

This year’s Spring/Summer catwalks have revealed a refreshing nautical look to bring the seaside home.

The latest Christian Dior collection brings together a mixture of marine themes with bright tropical colours such as turquoise, orange and fuchsia pink. A new spin on seaside chic perhaps? Well, never fear as alongside this are the more conventional nautical favourites of red, white and navy with a good smattering of Breton-chic.

I love the Alejandra cushion from Occa Home with its fresh summer lime shade which would pair nicely with navy accessories, and creates a clean modern look when combined with white fabrics. Or try the gorgeous peacock blue Ripple throw from Primrose and Plum; this soft textural wavy throw would brighten up a plain bedspread or sofa and gives the impression of ripples in the water or soft waves in the sea. Perfect for dreaming about the long summer days to come.

The skinny stripe is out and broad bands of colour are in. We think you can give your living room or bedroom an instant lift with the Briscoe aqua striped rug from Designers Guild. Or if you want to sail away with a traditional blue stripe, the Duffy cushion from Occa Home is stylish and will add depth when contrasted against pure white.

Create a laid-back, coastal look with white-washed wood combined with fabrics in ticking stripes. For natural woven fabrics with a ticking stripe, we suggest you choose Ian Mankin for a great selection. Go for lightweight fabrics such as linen and cotton to replace your heavy winter tablecloths and throws and to give a fresh summer look.

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Sea Shore Grand Chest, £355, The French Bedroom Company

Bring pastel shades to your nautical theme; anything from candy floss pinks to turquoise sea blues will evoke holiday memories and give summer sunshine warmth to a room. We love the beautiful stripe upholstered dining chair in whitewashed oak from Sweetpea & Willow It’s perfect for laid-back dining, and the cabriole legs suggest a French elegance. Or the Sea Shore Chest from The French Bedroom Company has a gorgeous aqua blue finish to its Provencal style.

For a stylish but easy to maintain look in living and dining areas, choose wood flooring with natural fibre rugs. The Natural Rug Company has an exclusive collection of Roger Oates stair runners, famous for their colourful stripes. This will add texture and interest to any hallway and can also draw the eye into your home.

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Anchor Doorstop, £16, Hunkydory Home

Accessorising the nautical look is easy; with navy or pale blue, pillar box red, white and ivory are the staple nautical colours you can’t go wrong. If you want to add some fun to a kids bedroom or for a nautical themed bathroom, choose the Pretty Anchor Doorstop from Hunkydory Home. It features a navy stripe and pink polka fabric design with plaited hessian handle.

Bring a homely feel to those cosy evenings in with the white Nautical lantern from The Contemporary Home is based on the design for old ship’s lanterns. Or place a few of these lovely painted pastel blue Hurricane lanterns from Nordic House at the bottom of your fireplace. They have a heart cut-out and a rustic twisted handle giving them a perfect feminine nautical touch.

Artwork and prints are a simple and brilliant way of bringing the seaside into your home. Get lost at sea with the Driftwood canvas wall art from Nordic House.

You can easily go overboard with this theme so keep your accessories simple; introduce bold stripes, and opt for sophisticated, whitewashed furniture so your scheme is more Riviera Chic than Captain Pugwash.