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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!

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.

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
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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.

Interview: Mini Moderns

by Emma Foale on January 24, 2011
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Pet Sounds Cushion (from the Folk Rock Cushion collection), £35, Mini Moderns

From quirky 1950’s textile designs to vintage toys and games, Mini Moderns has it all.

British design duo, Keith Stephenson and Mark Hampshire of Absolute Zero Degrees, a graphic design based outfit, are behind the wonderfully quirky Mini Moderns collection.

We interviewed Keith Stephenson to find out more about their exciting, retro collection….

If you had 3 words to describe your collection what would they be?

Contemporary, Soft, Modernism.

How would you describe the idea and aim behind your slogan: ‘Homeware for design conscious families’?

When Mark and I created the Mini Moderns wallpaper collection we wanted it to appeal to kids and, what we were calling then, “kidults”. No one else was appealing to a cross generational market at this time. We wanted the consumer to be able to buy something cool that their kids would love but that they could also live with happily.

Despite having a fantastic following and reputation with the kids products, we have always created products that we’d love too. This, I think, gives our print designs a lot more depth than papers produced purely for adults – which are usually trend driven – or pure kid’s patterns, which are often twee. I think it is very easy to spot a Mini Moderns design.

What would you choose as one of your favourite design classics of all time?

Mine is the Eames rocker; Mark’s is the original Mini car.

What inspires you to combine retro and modern styles and what do you feel this brings out in your products?

We’ve always had this mix in our collection – there’s something optimistic about mid century modern designs in print – so we wanted to capture some of that – but giving them a contemporary edge – not a rose-coloured vision of the past.

You operate a predominantly ‘Made in the UK’ policy, how important do you believe it is for the future of interior design to become more eco-friendly?

We’ve always produced in the UK – it has been our policy from the word go. We wanted to utilize the amount of great UK producers and build good relationships with them, that way we know that our products come from sweat shop free environments. It also means the products travel less so we try to keep an eye on our carbon footprint so even when we export the amount of journeys is limited. The only products which we don’t produce in the UK are our rugs. These are a license product and are produced with a company who approached us. However, we make sure that the rugs are delivered direct from the factory to the customer so they don’t arrive with us and get dispatched again on an extra unnecessary journey.

What’s the most popular design from your collection and why?

We have several ‘hits’ in the collections which shows the cross generational appeal of our products. The ‘Town’ print still continues to be popular even though it was produced in 2005, and has been influential to other designers. This has been used in dining rooms and children’s rooms. Our ‘C60’ retro tape cassettes wallpaper has also been a hit with dads and older children – and has recently been used in the refurbishment of the BBC Radio 6 studios.
Recently our ‘Pet Sounds’ wallpaper has had great success – which I think is indicative of a Mini Moderns design – no-one else would have even thought of using the imagery and combination of imagery we used. It’s easy to produce something ‘out there’ but the skill is making it still something that people want to spend everyday living with.

Can you tell us a bit about your new ‘Festival’ wallpaper and what the story behind it is?

We’ve collected festival of Britain memorabilia for a long time now. The Festival of Britain in 1951 was an exciting glimpse into the future, celebrating the new wave of British design, with design for all available via the introduction of Hire Purchase schemes. New design was everywhere. It’s the optimism we love, and over the years we’ve amassed a number of items celebrating it. The C.O.I.D. book Design in the Festival is a particularly inspiring find. Having been huge fans of the Festival of Britain, it was an honour to be commissioned in 2008 by the Southbank Centre to reproduce as wallpaper, one of the Festival’s signature patterns, Net and Ball. This had been designed in 1951 by the architects of the Royal Festival Hall, Peter Moro and Leslie Martin, as a carpet pattern for the Hall. Our obsession culminates in our new wallpaper in commemoration of the Festival’s 60th anniversary, featuring our favourite pavilions and sights.

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Six of One Rug, £495, Mini Moderns

How do you experiment with colour and how important is this to the finished print?

Colour is very important to us and Mark is a great colourist. Because we’re fundamentally print designers more than product – it’s this aspect of our designs that excites us! The prints tend to be rich and dense with imagery so getting the balance right with colour is very important. We don’t work seasonally or are trend driven with colour, instead we go with what works with the print. These colours then go into our Mini Moderns colour book, and are used in future ranges so that you can mix up our patterns and there is still a synergy across all our collections. We also have fun with the names of the colours too – like “milk chocolate” or “powder paint blue” etc, most of which relate to a collection or product. Our ‘Harvest Orange” colourway was an homage to the Neil Young album ‘Harvest’ as it was first introduced in our Folk Rock collection last year.

I love your Folk Rock cushion collection (If I had a camper van, which I’ve always wanted, then I’d fill it with these!). What inspired this collection of prints?

The ‘Folk Rock” collection was inspired by a very rare holiday for us to the West Coast of the US. We spent time in LA, the Big Sur and San Francisco. Pet Sounds was a mix of two concepts for prints we’d been working on and the time away helped us to focus and consolidate it into one. We had been working on a musical instrument print and a British wildlife print and then decided to combine them to make our Woodland cacophony – which was originally called ‘Fanfare’ – but when we realized where the collection was going – a nod to the Beach Boys seemed appropriate. After all we were in California. ‘Alice’ was also a print which, finding a section of a dirty piece of vintage barkcloth fabric in a thrift store in California, took on a life of its own. Our friend Alice had asked us to design a wallpaper for her house – and we had always thought – ‘if Mini Moderns did a floral – what would it look like?’ so we used the vintage fabric as inspiration and created the print. As it was part of the Folk Rock collection we thought Alice was a good name for it, and as Lewis Carroll’s heroine had long been an inspiration for 60’s West Coast psychedelic artists – like Jefferson Airplane – so Alice it was. We supplemented the cushion collection with our ‘International Cocktail Hour’ range of found vintage fabrics with a Trader Vic’s atomic/Tiki edge.

How do you think your prints can transform a room?

Prints give a room more character and depth.

How do you see print design progressing in the future?

Our prints develop from season to season. We’re more confident in our aesthetic now. Initially it is daunting as you have no audience for your product, so it’s easy to lose your direction and then you stand back and can’t quite understand what your designs are trying to say about you as a brand. We had to have the courage to just put our ideas out there and it has seemed to work.

What did you last buy for your own home?

Our last two purchases were two lamps: One is a “base lamp’ by Tom Dixon – it was rather expensive but beautiful! The other was by Group Design and it’s a sleek white reading light – which wasn’t as expensive but is by no means less beautiful…

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of introducing print to their home?

Most people will send out wallpaper samples but be focused about what colours you want for a room. Otherwise you end up with a confusing mess of hundreds of pieces of paper. The process should be fun. Also, try and go with an independent designer, there are more like us out there, and most wallpaper is produced in a handful of factories across the UK. Even the smallest independent designer will have the same high quality as a larger company. That way your room will have individuality.

wallpaper
Sitting Comfortably? wallpaper (from the Family Album collection), price on request, Mini Moderns

If you could collaborate with any designer who would you choose and why?

I’ve previously worked with Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway when I was a print designer at Red or Dead. Also, recently both Mark and I have worked with them as part of a team curating areas for their Vintage festival – they are great to work with and when you do you become almost part of their family. We will be working with them again for Vinatge at the Southbank in July.

Other designers that we would work with would need to be someone who didn’t overlap with our skills, like product designers, that share our philosophy and aesthetic. Mark would love us to work with someone like Terence Conran – as he is a lifelong hero of his, and Russell Pinch is also fantastic. We were extremely excited when the Conran Boundary hotel specced up our wallpapers for a number of their rooms. A forgotten vintage brand would also be good to work with – we had always wanted to work with someone like Ercol – but someone like Gplan or a company like Ercol who have embraced their heritage would be great.

What new projects are you working on and what do you hope to achieve in the future?

We’re currently getting our new collection together. “Festival” is the first in this collection which launches as a whole in September. The collection is called ‘Daytripper’ and celebrates British holidays, hobbies and pastimes. We’re also creating new accessories designs for mugs and bags. We have a wealth of prints now in our back catalogue and are able to pull these into different products – so as well as new prints – there will be some old Mini Moderns favourites on other items too.

Interview: Ghost Furniture

by Emma Foale on January 18, 2011
chair
1920's collar chair, £495, Ghost Furniture

Hauntingly beautiful: The Ghost furniture collection makes a striking impression

We caught up with Di Overton to find out more about the collection and what gives it its ghostly beauty.

If you had 3 words to describe your collection what would they be?

Eclectic, eclectic and eclectic.

How would you describe the idea behind ‘Ghost Furniture’ and what makes it ‘hauntingly beautiful’?

The original idea was to create something new from discarded items. Not shabby chic but eco chic. I’m no eco warrior but it saddens me when I see formerly beautiful items cast aside when they still have some life in them. We use the term ‘hauntingly beautiful’ because we always try to let the original piece show through the new design making it somewhat ghostly.

How did you first become interested in creative design?

I think I was born creative. No doubt I would have re-designed the labour ward had I had the skills. I think it’s in the genes. I seem to have spent my life re-creating things.

What would you choose as one of your favourite design classics?
The Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen without a doubt. It wraps itself around you; will sit in any interior design scheme, and it’s timeless.

What inspires you to take vintage designs and turn them into something that’s eco-chic?

I’m inspired every time I look up. I live in The Northumberland National Park and am surrounded by beauty. That beauty is not manmade but I do believe it can be translated into product design. I seem to have the sort of brain that takes in a view and turns it into a design, how I do not know but it seems to work.

How important do you believe it is for the future of interior design to become more eco-friendly?

Landfills can only take so much. It can only go on for so long this throwaway society of ours. I like to think that interiors can be treated like fashion – take a little black dress, add an accessory and you get a totally different look. So why not do that with interiors?

What is the most popular design from your collection and why?

There are two – Chairs and Blackboards without a doubt. I think chairs are popular because we
design them to fit into any room in the house; they make a statement about the people who buy them and blackboards because they’re so useful. Chalking up a message is so much more
glamorous when in an ornate vintage frame, don’t you think?

tea pot
Gold and white teapot, £45, Ghost Furniture

You use dead flat matte paints which are sourced in France and that are specially mixed for you. How does this paint make your furniture unique and what look does it create?

In the UK there is no such thing as a dead flat matte paint for wood and metal, the flattest we can get has 5% sheen. Dead flat matte hides a multitude of sins and needs no preparation which means we can keep the price down. It’s like applying double cream to the furniture, sometimes I have to stop myself licking the paint brush it looks so delicious. It creates an antique look without all the chips and scratches that have to be done when creating shabby chic. I’d like to add here that I do love shabby chic but only when it’s shabby with age not with a paint effect. I want to see the history of a piece shining through.

I particularly love the Marilyn chair, could you explain how Marilyn’s famous photo pose inspired this furniture piece and what materials you used to create it?

I found a 1930s satin pillowcase at a brocante in Paris on a very windy day and immediately thought of the famous photo of Marilyn Monroe when it was billowing up in the wind. The only way I could think of re-creating that effect was to fill the back panel of a salon chair with of much of the fabric as possible. My mind works in mysterious ways.

What do feel your furniture and accessory pieces can bring to a room?

A story. Every piece has a history and its story is told to the buyer when they purchase it. This is most important to me and, from what I can gather, to them also.

What did you last buy for your home?

A huge spiral staircase made from cast iron with lattice work treads. The light casts down on it from a roof light above and creates a beautiful pattern on the floor.

What advice would you give to anyone shopping for a unique furniture piece?

The same advice I would give to anyone buying anything – KNOW THAT YOU LOVE IT – any doubts don’t buy it. A piece of furniture should be a reflection of you and your life so you can live in harmony with it.

office accessory
Green lace blackboard, £75, Ghost Furniture

If you could collaborate with any designer who would you choose and why?

I think I’ve already done that. In 2010, I collaborated with Kathy Dalwood the sculptor of fabulous concrete busts. Together we created a range of Concrete Tassels cast from vintage originals and trimmed with vintage passementerie from the merciers of Paris. It was a fabulous experience and I doubt whether anyone else could surpass it.

What new projects are you working on and what do you hope to achieve in the future?

I have just created a new effect by using a lace stencil and creating two different textures but in the same colour. I’ve just finished the first piece which is a Regency console table and have used the effect on the table top which has made it look as though it is made from lace. The whole piece is black and looks very dramatic.

A future achievement would be to be able to continue creating new and innovative pieces at a pace that is pleasurable, up to now I have achieved that and would love to keep it that way.

View the whole collection...

Trend watch: Chunky cable knits

by Emma Foale on January 17, 2011
furnish
Autumn/Winter 2010 catwalk collections, (left to right) Chanel, D&G and Prada (image from www.harpersbazaar.co.uk)

Cosy up with chunky knits

Fabulous textures are in style, so don’t drop a stitch; treat your home to some cosy chunky knits. We show you how the knitted look can bring a cosy charm to your home.

Chunky cable knits are no longer just a catwalk fashion trend; you can bring them into your home in the form of cosy cushions, luxurious throws and even stylish stools. Whether you want to bring texture, warmth or colour to a room, a knitted accessory is a great choice. This trend celebrates an oversized, voluminous style, and what’s great is that you can introduce knits to any room of your house.

The Knitted Floor Cushion in yellow from 95% Danish can bring bold colour into a room and provide versatile but comfy seating for you and your guests. You can sit on them, lean against them or simply stack them to suit your needs. Or try their Knitted cylinder cushion, available in green and coral, to give a splash of colour to an otherwise neutral scheme.

Knit one, purl one…knitting has always been associated with grannies but the tradition of crafts lives on and in fact, the world of interiors has taken on a whole new knitted perspective. There’s a renewed interest in crafts, particularly knitting, and the traditionally loved style of the cable knit is being used in more ways than one to bring a homemade element into your home.

Who needs chandeliers and extravagance when you can have something with a personal touch? I adore the hand-knitted thick, woollen threads of the ‘Granny’ pendant lamp by Pudelskern for Casamania. These lamps are made from pure natural sheep’s wool and each lamp can be traced back to the flock where the wool came from. A natural treatment is applied to make the wool flame resistant and to avoid moth and mite infestation.

stool
Stools, price on request, Claire-Anne O’Brien

If you’re looking for a stylish furniture piece, Claire-Anne O-Brien’s statement collection is inspired by elements of the knitted stitch itself such as rings and loops. Her chunky knit stools are all handmade in ash with hand-knitted seats in either lambswool or a merino wool and mohair mix. The stools are also available in chunky British sheep’s wool which are all undyed in their natural colours. One of these stools would be a fantastic way to introduce the chunky knit trend to your home, combining style, colour and comfort.

Layer beds and sofas with knitted throws and cushions for a luxurious style that will mean you’ll never want to venture outside again. One of these chunky knit merino wool blankets from The Wool Company would be perfect for a cosy evening in. Or the chunky aran knit throw is perfect to cuddle up to; the pure new wool gives it a chunky, warm look and feel.

furnish
Knitted Cylinder in green, £74.95, 95% Danish

Add texture to your pencil pots and vases and bring a warm and comforting feel to your living room or study with a Ferm Living Knitted Vase from Stylish Life. And if your home is in need of added storage, why not choose these knitted storage baskets, available in three sizes, from Rockett St.George. These gorgeous knitted baskets are made from 100% cotton rope and come in three different colours to suit your colour scheme.

With interior design becoming more eco-friendly, it’s no wonder that the knitted trend is proving popular. Wool is naturally flame retardant, it helps control humidity, and it’s even good at absorbing sound. So go for a luxurious rug to make the perfect feature piece on wood flooring in a living room.

This is certainly a popular traditional trend that can be kept alive with a little imagination and a modern twist.

Coo Clocks Cuckoo Clocks by Heads Up Design from Pelican Pear

by Alexandra Thomas on January 11, 2011
wall clock
Coo Clocks Cuckoo Clocks from Pelican Pear £38

Get little ones up on time with these super cute Coo Clocks Cuckoo Clock from Pelican Pear. £38

Not being a parent, I couldn't possibly comment, but I have heard on the grapevine that raising little ones from their slumber can sometimes be tricky.

And who can blame them? I know I don't exactly relish getting up when it's freezing cold and pitch black.

However, these cute Coo Clocks Cuckoo Clocks from Pelican Pear will make sure all day snoozing is a thing of the past.

The traditional cuckoo clock has been given a makeover with bright colours and instead of the usual bird heralding the start of a new day, you can choose from a cow, dog, sheep, orang-utan or elephant.

So, if the usual alarm clock isn't doing the trick, give one of these a whirl.

Colour watch: Coral

by Emma Foale on January 10, 2011
cushion
Pasadoble Dahlia cushion, £70, Lorna Syson

Bring optimistic coral hues into your home

Start the year afresh in your home with the vibrant, optimism of coral hues. This soft orange tone has a cheerful and feminine feel that will bring warmth to any room. It’s the perfect shade to banish those winter blues and prepare your home for the spring.

Coral easily pairs with other colours and it works well within existing schemes that simply need a fresh splash of colour. Choose a coral shade of paint to bring warmth to a cooler room which will also create a more welcoming feel. Fired Earth offer a selection of natural and organic shades from Coralline to Cinnabar red which evoke colours found in exotic coral reefs.

To instantly add a splash of coral in your kitchen, try these quirky Orange ceramic tiles designed by Rob Ryan from Liberty. Or pick a bold feature piece such as this Tolix Square Table from Pedlars. This design is practical and stylish; the electric orange shade gives this table a striking and modern appeal.

furnish
‘This Bell Will Ring’ ceramic tile by Rob Ryan, £35, Liberty

Tonal scheme


With its spectrum ranging from deep pinks to reddish orange tones, coral is a very appealing and positive colour to decorate with. Mix it with earthy tones or pastel shades for a stylish look; this sea anemone shade brings a warm ambience to a room without being as harsh as red can be. Coral also complements wooden floors and works well in living and dining rooms.

If you want to go for a dramatic statement, go for a coral colour scheme that is highlighted by black accents. I absolutely adore Lorna Syson’s Pasadoble Dahlia cushion which has a vibrant coral orange floral sculpture. Floral cushions are a great way to add pattern and texture to a room and they will also accentuate and enhance the colours in your scheme.

Combine coral with white to give a clean, crisp look; this monochromatic scheme would work well in a dining room, bedroom or bathroom. Colour blocking is a great way to get this style, so try painting with a bold coral shade and create a pleasing contrast with some white curtains or a white picture frame.

Complementary scheme


Teal and green are opposite red-orange coral on the colour wheel meaning that together they work well to create a big impact and an exciting combination. The Teal Turned Wood Table Lamp from Heal’s has a velvet shade which will add texture and colour. A teal vase, ceramic bowl or a set of coasters can simply set of your colour scheme without making a loud statement.

furnish
Coral colour palette, Benjamin Moore, www.benjaminmoore.com

Accents


You don’t have to complete redecorate to introduce coral shades into a room; use smaller accessories and accent pieces for the finishing touch or to give a room a new lease of life.

Choose some gorgeous blooms such as coral coloured roses for an uplifting and feminine touch. Or bring stunning orange and pink coral shades into a room by scattering a few of Clarissa Hulse’s Silk Cushion from Heals’. Or try this interesting cylindrical shaped table lamp from Habitat to add colour to your room.

Coral can be a dominating colour in a room, so use it in moderation. Try this painted metal coral candle holder from OKA on your dining table for an ideal conversation piece. A framed piece of artwork is an excellent way to inject colour into a room; a dreamy sunset canvas, for example, could be the perfect personal touch.

Cosmo mirrors from Omelo

by Alexandra Thomas on December 30, 2010
mirror
Cosmo mirror from Omelo

Brighten up your room with one of these Cosmo mirrors from Omelo. £355

Omelo is a new interiors company to me but I am sure glad I’ve found them as sell some of the nicest mirrors around.

All of Omelo’s mirrors are convex which means they’ll bounce even more light around your room, which is perfect is you’re lacking in natural light.

There are a whole host of designs to choose from classic to contemporary but my favourites are these Cosmo mirrors.

Deliciously simple, these round, thick-rimmed mirrors make the perfect choice for hallways, bathroom and bedrooms alike.

mirror
Cosmo mirror from Omelo

Available in Orange, Off White, Black and Red, one of these mirrors will instantly add a pop of colour to your room’s scheme.

But that’s not all, Omelo also offers a bespoke service which allows you to choose from a range of colours and finishes and even flat mirrors if convex ones aren’t your thing.

All they need to do now is introduce a wedding list service, as one of these mirror would definitely make it on to mine.

See these products at Omelo…

(We don’t list these products yet but sign up to our newsletter and we’ll let you know if/when we do)

Spotlight On: Tom Schneider

by Emma Foale on December 29, 2010
dining table

Serpent Dining Table, £1640.50-£3051.50, Tom Schneider

We take a look at Tom Schneider’s curvy, contemporary designs...

With a passion in creating distinctive bespoke furniture, Tom Schneider succeeds in bringing a new look and feel to contemporary interior design.

Furniture designer, Tom Schneider began his career working in a small workshop, making bespoke furniture for individual clients. His first collection which was launched in 1996 includes the Swirl coffee table and the DNA shelves which have become his most popular designs to date.

The collection includes contemporary, curved furniture which is available in a selection of veneers to suit any interior. Every piece is individually handmade by a team of craftsmen, ensuring that the final product is unique and unlike any other.

We asked Tom what he hopes his designs achieve and what inspires him, and he told us that “the aim is to create contemporary classics. The designs should give pleasure and enhance the look and feel of the customers home or office space. My inspiration comes mainly from nature with the female form featuring frequently.”

The Eclipse Sofa is a prime example of Tom’s work. This beautifully shaped piece, available in a two or three seater and would work equally in any classic or contemporary home. The Eclipse collection also includes a console table, dressing table, and shelves, epitomises the beauty of Tom’s work and proves that their simplicity will ensure it remains a contemporary classic for years to come.

The fluidity in shape and form of Tom’s furniture can be closely compared to the modernist design which emulates organic forms found in nature. Tom’s work boasts flowing curves which are created by laminating plywood to form strong shapes, and then these are skilfully veneered by hand.

sofa

Eclipse Sofa, £3034.50-£3752.75, Tom Schneider

Tom claims that his “most loved” design is “the Serpent dining table because it’s a beautiful sculpture and a practical dining table, many people would not be able to accommodate the two but with this table they can have both!” Another reason why this design is a popular choice is because its versatility allows you to combine two serpent bases to create a stunning large dining table to accommodate for dinner parties.

One of my favourite pieces is the Empress Dining Chair because it combines style and comfort in an extremely modern and sophisticated look. The fan shaped back covers the full length of the chair giving it a graceful elegance; these dining chairs perfectly complement any of Tom’s dining tables.

The Indulge Chaise Longue brings a new perspective to a classic eighteenth century design. The curvature of the design shows how it has been influenced by Tom’s love of nature and architecture. Its soft curves make this a very attractive piece of furniture that expresses continuity and fluidity, emphasising Tom’s intention of creating a feeling of movement with his work.

dining chair

Empress Dining Chair, £429.25, Tom Schneider

The stylish chair is not only a pleasure to look at but also to sit or lie on, making it an ideal feature piece for any living room or study. You can choose from an array of veneers and also have the chair upholstered in a selection of complementary fabrics to suit your interior needs.

Tom believes that “it’s essential that all designers are aware of and are using environmentally responsible materials. Designers are helping to make the decisions with their clients and these decisions must be environmentally friendly.” The team source their wood from parts of the world where they’re confident that there is no illegal logging.

Tom is excited to announce that he will be launching many new products and some new ranges next year, kicking off with a lounge chair which will be launched in January. All of Tom’s furniture is made in the UK and you can even choose and customize your own unique piece of contemporary furniture which will be designed especially for you.

Shop the look...

Wave bed by Tom Schneider
From £2879 £2447.15
Swirl Coffee Table by Tom Schneider
£1150 £977.50
Wave Coffee Table by Tom Schneider
£1105 £939.25
Wave console table by Tom Schneider
£930 £790.50
Serpent Dining Table by Tom Schneider
From £2360 £2006
Wave shoe tidy and storage by Tom Schneider
£1690 £1436.50

Spotlight On: Rose and Grey

by Alice Stride on December 28, 2010
wall sticker

Jazz up a plain room with a witty wall-sticker.

We take some time to find out more about the wonderful world of the brilliant Rose and Grey.

For all interior-design mavericks who want something quirky and individual for their home, Rose and Grey should be the first port of call. The company is run by husband and wife Lyndsey and Guy, who launched Rose and Grey after finding it difficult to find beautiful things that weren’t incredibly expensive for their own home. So, instead of shrugging their shoulders and having a KitKat (like most of us would), they decided to do something about it. Lyndsey and Guy began to source lovely furniture and decorative accessories themselves and sell them online, and so Rose and Grey was born.

Rose and Grey is a small, family-run business which is reflected in the obvious care and dedication that goes into selecting the products that are sold – this is no big mean corporate machine. The website features a veritable Aladdin’s cave of delights, and even though every item is extremely eclectic you still feel that you could buy every single thing on it, scatter it around your home and it would somehow still look stylish (if a little crowded). This is the key the success of Rose and Grey – they clearly love every product they sell, and have the knack of knowing that their customers will too. There’s no pretension to the company at all, reflected in the extensive Kids section on the website. Lyndsey and Guy have two young boys themselves so understand the need to have stylish but child-friendly home. Even things like dog bowls are made tasteful with the brilliant Ornate Iron Stand.It’s the ability to turn products that are usually dull/ a little gross (come on, you’d hardly want to party in the dog bowl) into something quite charming and lovely, combined with great attention to detail, that is what I really love about Rose and Grey.

office accessory

Treasure some memories with the lovely antique-style memo board.

There’s a product for everyone to be found on the website, and they’re also environmentally-aware – very important in this day and age. They ensure that they group deliveries together into as few as possible, use biodegradable and recycled packaging, print their leaflets and letterheads on recycled paper and send all their paper, cardboard, plastic and glass for recycling. So, not only do Rose and Grey pave the way for stylish living, they also set an example for being eco-conscious. This should be very annoying as Lyndsey and Guy do seem to err on the perfect side, but they are so darn good at what they do that we forgive them. The masses of press attention they’ve received, from magazines as diverse as Livingetc, Red and Harpers Bazaar confirms this. Rose and Grey are a great company, and should be celebrated.

I find it hard to choose just one product from the exquisite range of delights on offer, but I do think that the selection of stylish storage boxes and trunks available is second to none. Too little storage in the home is a problem that most of us have, but nobody wants to use those hideous plastic boxes that belong on a budget airline. I love these Retro Storage Trunks; they put me in mind of gorgeous vintage suitcases, and will be a great place to pop all your bits and bobs. I also adore the Rustic Wooden Storage Box on wheels – tasteful and practical, the winning combination. If you’ve got children they’re an excellent place to store toys. I would use mine to house my extensive DVD collection and prevent my boyfriend from whinging about the mess; there’s no clutter with one of these around.

blanket and storage chest

Hide clutter stylishly with these brilliant retro storage trunks.

Rose and Grey also have a deep appreciation for the importance of nostalgia, which really appeals to me. Their fantastic Antiqued Wooden Memo Board is a wonderful way for you to treasure some of your most important memories, be it an old photograph, letter, or a picture one of your children drew for you. It’s truly the sweetest thing I have seen in a long time, and would make a beautiful present for a loved one.

Finally, I’d say that the the amazing selection of vibrant and quirky wallpaper and wall stickers available is another one of Rose and Grey’s USP’S. I love the brilliant Birds on a Wire Wall Sticker; it’s an excellent way to give a plain room a lift without spending a fortune, and it looks so very cool. The selection of wallpaper for kid’s rooms is fantastic, and hammers home the family-focus of Rose and Grey. Simply put, Rose and Grey are a gorgeous company, and deserve every success.

Shop the look...

Antiqued Wooden Memo Board by Rose & Grey
£42

Spotlight On: Designed In England

by Alice Stride on December 27, 2010
mug

A fantastic ‘Sayings In Stitch’ mug will add a touch of humour and heritage to your morning cup of tea.

Check out our feature on the genius Designed In England brand for style inspiration.

Designed in England is an innovative and vision-led company that cherry-picks and brings together the best of British design and manufacture to sell from their online boutique. Their ethos seems particularly fitting at this moment in time, thanks to the widespread feeling of patriotism the Royal engagement has sparked. An off-shoot of Andrew Tanner Design, it is the only place to sell the entire collection of Tanner’s brilliant work, as well as showcasing specialist designs through ‘Designer’s Row’ and ‘To Die For’. It’s the Burberry of the online interior-design world, and a force to be reckoned with.

Even if you don’t know who Andrew Tanner is, it’s very likely you’ll have come across his work. His products are stocked in all sorts of trendy and traditional places, including Paul Smith, Westminster Cathedral, Liberty, DKNY and The Royal Festival Hall. Ridiculously talented and brimming with ideas, Tanner was one of the founders of HUB, a design house that embodied the movement of the British-Design-Maker that was emerging in the late ‘90s, before he launched Andrew Tanner Design in 2002. He’s created bespoke ceramics and glassware collections for clients such as the powerhouse Crabtree and Evelyn (who wanted to attract the ‘design conscious buyer’), won Designer of the Year in 2005 (as well as dozens of other accolades), launched his own design book this year – Batch; Craft, Design and Product – and won the prestigious Young Entrepreneur in Design Award from the British Council. He’s also been described (by Elle magazine, no less) as the ‘William Morris’ of his generation. That sums it up, really: Tanner is as synonymous with contemporary British interior-design as Morris was with Victorian wallpaper. However, his feel for the traditional and the importance of heritage is highlighted by his roles as Head of Design for the historic Poole Pottery, as well as Head of Design for the British Ceramic Manufactory, Royal Stafford. Tanner aims to bridge the gap between traditional manufacturers and contemporary design whilst celebrating the best of quirky Britishness.

wall art

Hang some Flying Ducks in funky colours for a cool addition to your home.

So, take all that Tanner talent and vision, weave it into a fantastic online boutique and you have the sublime Designed in England. If a product is exciting, beautiful and created on the British Isles, it will be featured. The company aims to include the stories and backgrounds of the designers and makers of the products they feature to make sure they’re ‘bringing the pieces to life’. I think that’s a great sentiment; we want to know where our food is grown and how it was treated, why not the objects we have in our homes? Designed in England have tapped into Britain’s eco-consciousness in a super-stylish way, satisfying the desire to be as ethical as possible without a hemp rug in sight. Instead, we have gorgeous products and lovely designs.

The company stock wonderful home accessories from a variety of great British designers, including fantastic cushions, bone china wall-plates, retro ’50s-inspired flying ducks and a staggering selection of ceramics. They’ve also got cool fashion accessories and lovely children’s wear – truly something for everyone.

pendant light

An unusual cluster light will look brilliant in a trendy home.

I adore the kitsch ‘Sayings in Stitch’ Collection, designed by Tanner and supported by The Arts Council. It features a range of mugs, decorated with funny regional sayings from across the British Isles in a cross-stitch pattern. It appeals to my whimsical nature and Luddite tendencies; don’t we all occasionally wish that life was a little simpler, a little less technology-driven, that we all had time for some sewing, a cup of tea and a really good chat with an old friend? Tanner has recognised the modern-day desire to switch off and the importance of British heritage, and ingeniously found a way of bringing it into our homes in mug-form. So simple, so smart, and so effective. The next time you’re feeling particularly stressed, make sure you’ve got one of these mugs to hand. It’ll make you smile and things suddenly won’t seem so bad after all.

I also love the brilliant bone china cluster light by Kathleen Hills. The contrast between the old-fashioned china (it looks like the sort your grandmother would have her elevenses from) and the ultra-modern, slightly OTT cluster is genius. Hills has fused together the old and the new to brilliant effect; I have seen these lights in many a trendy London home.

It’s this striking paradox I find in these products that is at the heart of Designed in England; it will always surprise, and I hope it continues to do so for a long time.

Getting ready for Christmas: How to create the perfect dining room

by Emma Foale on December 14, 2010
napkin ring

Metal Star Napkin Rings (available in crème or silver), £23.50, Nordic House

Bring some winter magic to your dining room for a perfect Christmas dinner

Hosting Christmas for your family can be an exciting challenge (not simply a hectic rush to get prepared and organised) So, we’ve found plenty of festive-inspired furnishings and accessories to help you create the perfect dining room.

The dining table

Remember that your table will be the focal point of your dining room, so it should shout style and elegance. We aren’t suggesting that you buy a brand new table just for Christmas, but you might need to think about extending and extra tables if you’re expecting lots of guests.

Lombok’s Canton Black Lacquer extending dining table has a distressed finish, and its grandeur will make it a perfect feature piece in your dining room (this is a keeper for all year round, not just for Christmas).

The dining chairs

Sitting down to a delicious feast at Christmas is the one time of the year that allows us to eat as much as we want, but one which means we cannot move for a long time afterwards. So when considering your dining room seating you should be thinking of comfort and style; don’t consider compromising one for the other because you’ll only regret it later.

If you’re looking for a new set of dining chairs, why not consider Tom Schneider’s distinctly curved Poise Carver Chair, which looks fabulous and provides comfortable support.

Most importantly, make sure you have enough chairs for the number of guests you’re expecting, and extend your table if necessary. If it’s a squeeze, try stools or benches as a space saving solution.

candle holder

Nickel Plated Reindeer candle holder, £39.99, The Contemporary Home

The table linen

Be sure to have your best linen on show to impress your guests. Firstly, wash and iron your tablecloth, runner and napkins, and then lay your table. Check that your tablecloth is large enough to cover the table; do this a couple of weeks before so you don’t have a panic on Christmas Eve.

This Star Bright Runner from John Lewis will spruce up a plain tablecloth with its rich burgundy colour and gold star design. Top tip: make sure that your runner hangs evenly at either end of the table for a perfect look.

Your napkins should be folded neatly on top of each main plate; you can fold every napkin into a pocket and insert a name card just inside so your guests know where they can sit. Or why not use these pretty metal star napkin rings from Nordic House for a lovely addition to your table.

The tableware

Your tableware checklist should include some pretty plates, bowls and dishes, along with plenty of serving spoons. Why not serve up your Christmas cake on this Robin plate by Emma Bridgewater.

This is the perfect time to get your finest cutlery and china out; lay these first so that you can see how much room you have for decorative pieces. Remember to lay your cutlery in order of use, working from the outside in.

Allow for a water glass, wine glass and champagne flute for each adult guest. A Champagne flute is a tall, thin and elegant glass which will ensure you get the best from your bubbles. This set of four flutes, made from mouth blown glass by LSA from Pelican Pear, is certainly no exception. If you’re celebrating with red wine, go for glasses with a wider bowl to release the bold aromas, and choose a narrower bowl for white wines.

furnish

‘Charming Crackers’, £17.95, Pedlars

Decorating

The best tip for decorating your table, especially for when you’re expecting plenty of hungry people, is to keep the look minimal. Large centre pieces and lots of unnecessary table decorations will only spell trouble with a capital ‘T’. Add small, decorative touches to your table with festive candle holders such as the Nickel Plated Reindeer candle holder from The Contemporary Home. This will truly bring character and a majestic charm to your table, leaving your guests in awe.

With a few inexpensive but impressive table decorations, you can create a beautiful table display. Try a few sparkly baubles in decorative bowls lined along the centre of your table, or a sprinkling of glittery stars on the tablecloth for an effortless look. We think you’ll love these silver Scatter Stars from Cox and Cox because they will instantly bring glitz to your table and you can also get creative and stick them to your place cards to bring your theme together.

These handmade, silver plated snowflake crackers from The Conran Shop look absolutely stunning and they’ll add a glamorous sparkle to your table. However, I have fallen in love with these ‘Charming crackers’ from Pedlars; the vintage and illustrative design features animals such as cats, rabbits and mice humorously pulling crackers and enjoying the festivities.

Fill your glasses, pull your crackers and tuck in! Merry Christmas everyone!

Getting ready for Christmas - How to create the perfect hallway

by Alice Stride on December 12, 2010
door mat

Merry Christmas Doormat, £16.95

How to create the perfect festive hallway.

The 25th of December comes but once a year, and in the bleak midwinter (carolling, anyone?) it ‘s important to keep our spirits high in lieu of freezing conditions, cancelled trains and general low spirits. Everyone knows that first impressions count, which is why we’ve put together this indispensable guide to giving your hallway a festive makeover. Merry Christmas!

Flooring

One of the cheapest and best ways to create a festive-feeling entrance is with a welcoming doormat. I adore this (above) delight from the Dotcom Gift Shop It has a simple, old-fashioned charm about it, which is a refreshing antidote to the ‘spend spend spend’ culture that surrounds us all at this time of year. Your guests will feel jolly the moment they set foot in your home.

If you have tiled-flooring in your home and want to give it a Christmas makeover, try some brilliant Stars Tiles Stickers from Spin Collective, available from the Furnish website. They come in 20 different colours, including festive red, silver and gold.

candle holder

Puji Christmas Gift Tealight Holders, £29, available from Furnish.

Lighting

The correct lighting is essential to make the festive entrance to your home perfect (especially if you want some romance under the mistletoe). I personally believe that you can never go wrong with tea-lights; they are extremely cheap and create a wonderful atmosphere. Buy a packet, pop them in these beautiful Puji tea-light holders and place them around the entrance. If you want something a little funkier, you need fairy-lights. String them around the doorway, the banisters – anywhere you can! Try this brilliant garland-light. It has 8 multi-functional settings and can be moulded to fit around anything.

Or, check out the excellent table-top lights.They are battery-operated, so if you’ve run out of sockets it doesn’t matter. Try draping them along a console table to add some festive cheer.

Paint and Wallpaper

Now, I’m not going to suggest that you completely redecorate your home just for Christmas, but with a few little tricks you can make your entrance spectacular. Why not buy a length of claret and gold wallpaper from Rockett St George and pin it on one wall to make your entrance feel super-decadent? The design is the epitome of quirky-British, and the colours are gloriously festive: the perfect backdrop for Christmas gluttony. For a less expensive wall decoration, buy a roll of brown paper, some Christmassy stencils and pot of glitter-glue or paint and unleash your inner artist! Your finished paper will look so very retro and charming, and any that you don’t use to decorate can be recycled as wrapping-paper.

Furniture

A console table is the perfect place on which to scatter your candles, or your nibbles, or glasses of mulled wine to greet your guests with. If you don’t have anything suitable, try this stylish black console table from The French Bed Company. Decorate it with table-lights or a sprinkling of Christmassy confetti. Even when the festive season is over this table will look great in your home.

furnish

Large Olive Tree, £34.99

Decorations

Now, for the best part of all – decorations. First and foremost, you need a great wreath. Without one, you’ll look like Ebenezer Scrooge. I love this simple wicker wreath. You can personalise it with your own baubles or place holly on for a more traditional vibe – whatever takes your fancy.

A lovely little tree in the hallway is a must, but it’s hard to get hold of small Christmas trees that aren’t fake, and therefore very tacky. As an extremely stylish alternative, buy this beautiful Large Olive Tree . It will look wonderful if decorated with some burgundy ribbon.

I love a good paper-chain, but like fake trees, they can err on the vulgar side. However, the Dot Com Gift Shop comes to the rescue with their charming 50’s vintage-style paper-chain kit. You can loop these around anywhere you feel needs a touch of retro-festive charm.

If you fancy a very old-fashioned feel to your hallway, buy some cheerful Christmas bunting from Laura Ashley, available from their online store. The range is brilliantly kitsch and will look fantastic in your home.

Next up: baubles. The wonderful thing about these is that they can go on the tree (obviously), or you can tie some to a length of twining to make your own personalised garland. My mother hangs them around mirrors, which looks stunning. I love this antique-style glass-ridged bauble,it has something of the 1930’s about it. I like to mix up bauble styles, so will be placing this alongside something sweet like a scattering of felt robins from The Contemporary Home. They look adorable; I’d like to eat one up, and I imagine your guests will too.

Getting ready for Christmas: How to create the perfect guest room

by Emma Foale on December 06, 2010
bed linen

Riva Paoletti Chelsea duvet set, £22.10, The Pole House

Take pleasure in making your guests feel really welcome over Christmas with an inviting and homely guest room.

From storage and lighting to the smaller touches, you don’t have to worry about finding the best pieces because we’ve done it for you.

Bed linen

Ensure that your guests are comfortable and get a good night’s sleep with fresh, clean bed linen. For Christmas warmth, choose a warm colour scheme that includes ruby reds with gold and silver accents. A gold duvet cover like the Riva Paoletti Chelsea duvet set from The Pole House will bring an opulent feel.

Blankets and throws are a great idea for added warmth so keep them in an easily accessible place such as a wardrobe or chest. Go for luxurious fabric such as Egyptian cotton, merino wool or cashmere to bring texture and comfort to the room. This Soft Blue Lambswool Throw from Graham and Green is perfect for snuggling up with on a cold winter’s evening. Scattering a few colour co-ordinating cushions on the bed will help create a cosy feel.

Home comforts

Make your guest room feel like a home from home with a couple of traditional furniture pieces such as an armchair or an elegant chaise longue. Rococo influenced designs with soft, curved edges and intricate details will bring an enchanting charm to the room. For example, the Parisian Foot End from The French Bedroom Company is a stunning piece, hand finished and upholstered in pale cream fabric. Or the Gold Gilt Emmanuel Ribbon chair from Sweetpea & Willow, made with real gold leaf, will instantly lift a corner of the room.

table lamp

Fluted Drop Grey table lamp, £180, Heal’s

Towels

Place some towels on the end of the bed for your guest’s arrival. The luxury organic cotton towels from The Fine Cotton Company will impress your guests with their plush feel.

Storage

Your visitors will need suitable space to store their clothes and luggage so make sure that the room has a wardrobe, chest of drawers and a dresser. For a fabulous feature piece, choose the large Colonial chest from Sweetpea and Willow with beautiful leaf handle details.

If you have space for a dresser, choose one that has a sleek and sophisticated look and one which will complement your wardrobe and drawers. The Orchard’s Classic two drawer dressing table offers a vintage inspired look that will add character to your guest room. It’s a perfect place to display pretty trinkets and perfume bottles.

Lighting

Lighting is an essential part of creating an inviting and cosy ambience in a bedroom, and it will also serve a functional purpose, allowing your guests to read before they go to sleep. A bedside lamp with a highly decorative base can be an ideal talking point in your guest room. The Stockley brass table base from Lombok can be mirrored on both sides of the bed for a balanced and desirable style. Or create this look with the super stylish Fluted Drop Grey table lamp from Heal’s. Its smoky glass base with the gorgeous co-ordinating silk shade gives it a stunning look.

Magazines and books

To take the pressure off yourself and keep guests entertained by providing some books and magazines that you know they’ll enjoy. A magazine rack or holder is one of the best ways of keeping your guest room clutter-free and it provides neat and stylish storage. Choose this Faux leather magazine holder from John Lewis, or if you want to save on floor space, try these Bark Floating shelves from Mocha for displaying your favourite paperbacks.

bedroom chaise

Parisian Foot End, £445, The French Bedroom Company

Little touches

Attention to detail will give a sense of personality to your guest room and tie your colour scheme or theme together. Choose gorgeous scented votive candles, such as the Home for Christmas Jar candle from Puji, to fill the room with a sweet vanilla and cinnamon aroma. Place a couple of candles on the windowsill, and choose from cranberry and orange or mulled wine to fill the room with a warm, festive feeling.

A decorative mirror on a dresser will ensure your guests can get ready without having to leave the room. Try the Vintage Dressing Table Mirror with corsage flowers from Bombay Duck for a beautiful, decorative touch.

A stunning vase can be a perfect focal point, so try the Silver Drop Vase from Mocha to complement warmer colour schemes that include reds and chocolate browns.

A carafe of water on a bedside table shows that you have really thought about your guest’s needs. If you’re looking for something that has elegance then go for the handmade LSA Grand Malika Carafe from John Lewis with its beautiful clear glass and artistic fluid swirl.

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