Features: April '11

Spotlight on Primrose & Plum

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

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

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

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

Seagrass Floor Seat, £125, from Primrose & Plum

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

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

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

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

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

Focus on Pattern: Spots

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

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

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


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

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

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

Retro Circles Wallpaper, £44.04, Oliver Bonas


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Chloe Metal Sideboard from Love Your Home For Less

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Unfortunately, this item is no longer available, however, this Rivet Industrial Metal Sideboard would make a great alternative.

Five Of The Best Doormats

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buyer's Guide to Sofas

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Corner sofas

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

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

Contemporary sofas

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

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

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

Chatsworth Medium Leather Sofa, £1800, from John Lewis

Classic sofas

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

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

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

Sofa beds

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

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

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

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

Trend Watch: Lace

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

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

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

Ribbon Damask Paper Lace, £74, Occa Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benchmark founder Sean Sutcliffe shows us around

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

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

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

Processing raw wood in the workshop

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living with White

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

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

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

White furniture

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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Focus on Pattern: Checks

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Squares Wallpaper, £59, 95% Danish


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

Inspired by checks, this


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Shop the look...

Barcelona Bedside cabinet by Gillmore Space
£199 £159.20

Focus on Pattern: Stripes

by Mica Kelly on April 05, 2011
bed linen
Cath Kidston Sherbet Standard Pillowcase from £11.20, John Lewis

We show you how stripes can add a dash of excitement to your home.

There is no denying that stripes can certainly make an impact. If you’re looking for a way to add some interest to your interior then painting a stripy wall, or adding a striped lampshade, is a great way to add interest and excitement. Whether you prefer the big impact of bold stripes or the simple elegance of narrow ones, we’ll explore all the ways to make the pattern work for you.


Fabric is a great way of adding a hint of pattern to a room, whether you go for pretty striped bedding or a funky print curtain. Cath Kidston creates a great range of patterned products, that often work particularly well in vintage inspired homes, and these striped pillowcases available from John Lewis are no exception. The candy coloured stripes look equally as cute in a little girl’s bedroom, as they would in a stylish boudoir.

For decidedly grown-up stripes, this Moroccan inspired silk throw from Rocomara is sure to add a touch of luxury to a bed or sofa; using rich jewel tones and a sumptuous fabric it would make an extravagant addition to your home.

Stripes can also have a practical design purpose. This nautical shower curtain from John Lewis uses shades of red and blue that are bathroom friendly, in a practical polyester finish.


When deciding on how to decorate the walls in your room, it is important to consider what kind of effect you wish to achieve with your stripes. Vertical stripes make a room seem taller, and would therefore work well in a room with particularly low ceilings, whilst horizontal stripes should make a small room feel larger. Similarly, wide stripes make a dramatic impact and might work better in a larger space, or one with limited furniture, whilst narrow stripes work well in smaller rooms as they give a subtle hint of pattern.

Create a unique wall by painting a base colour before taping off your desired size stripes and filling in with a contrasting paint colour. When you peel off the tape you will be left with a perfect finish, and a completely individual design! If paint isn’t your thing then this gorgeous stripe wallpaper from John Lewis uses lovely deep shades of green and purple for a warm effect; and it works equally well hung vertically or horizontally.

Row Row's Stripe Bed, £915, Sweetpea and Willow


For gorgeous striped furniture check out Sweetpea and Willow, who combine elegant French inspired designs with quirky finishes. This nautical inspired children’s bed will bring a touch of the seaside to your little one’s room, with deck chair striped fabric used to modernise the antique style head and footboard.

They’ve also given this classical armchair a contemporary flavour with the bold pink striped fabric that is sure to bring a burst of colour to any room. For those of you that prefer traditional elegance, this chaise lounge uses subtle stripes in beige tones for a classic finish.


Incorporating stripes into your flooring choices can be a great way of adding a splash of colour and style, without having to redecorate the whole room. Doormats are a great way of personalising the entrance to your home. This cute doormat from Utility provides the perfect welcome home to you and your guests; it would almost be a shame to wipe your feet on it!

There are a huge variety of striped rugs to choose from, and not all of them are as bold as the doormat! This luxurious <a href=" http://furnish.co.uk/items/151256-designers-guild-ullswater-striped-natural-rug"striped rug from Heal’s uses a variety of brown tones and varying stripe sizes, to create a statement piece that would look stunning in even the most neutral interior.

door mat
Doormat - Welcome Stripe, £25, Utility


Choosing the right accessories can make a big difference when creating a properly finished room, and can help to create a cosy feel. Animal lovers are sure to adore this cute doggy doorstop from Graham & Green which provides a colourful way to keep your door open, and even has its own collar! Continuing on the animal theme, this

Cushions are one of the best ways of adding pattern to a home, and can make a colourful feature of a bed or sofa. These Paris inspired striped cushions from Megan Quinton will sweep you away to the city of love with their kooky embroidered detail. Whilst this romantic table runner from John Lewis combines heart print stripes and woven detail for a dreamy dinner setting.

Stripes can work in your home no matter what your style preference; bold, elegant, nautical or girly there are plenty of options out there to work with your interior. As one of the most readily available patterns, stripes make an exciting yet versatile addition to any home so be sure to have fun with them.

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

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

Blogging Brilliant

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


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

A snapshot of gorgeous Modern Country Style.

Modern Country Style

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

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

La Boheme

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