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

Buyer's Guide to outdoor lighting

outdoor lighting
Rusty Metal Hurricane Lamp, £24.95, Nordic House

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

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


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

Candle lighting

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

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

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

Wall-mounted lighting

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

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

Path lighting

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

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

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

Tulip Light, £499, Garden Beet

Solar lighting

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

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

Quick Shop: Bookcases

Have a look at our pick of the best bookcases

Take a look at our library of the best bookcases

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

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

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

Focus on Pattern: Retro

bed linen
Orla Kiely Stripe Petal Duvet Covers, £60, John Lewis

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Sanderson Fifi Wallpaper, £29, John Lewis


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

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

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

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

The Buyer’s Guide to Garden Furniture

garden table
Foldaway Garden Table and Chairs , £110, from Graham & Green

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

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

Planning and space

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

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

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

Wooden tables and chairs

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

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

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

Resin tables and chairs

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

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

Woven tables and chairs

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

Eucalyptus Rocker Lounger, £199, from John Lewis

Loungers and Sun beds

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

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

Ideas for small gardens

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

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

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

Stacking garden furniture

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

Deck chairs

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

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

Spotlight on Primrose & Plum

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

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= “”>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=“”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

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

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

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

Dolce and Gabbana, Spring/Summer 2011,

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

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

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

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!

Focus on Pattern: Stripes

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=""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

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.

Style File: Arts & Crafts

Sanderson William Morris Thistle Wallpaper, £45, John Lewis

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

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

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


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

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

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

coffee table
Oak octagon coffee table, £127, Rocomara


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

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

screens and divider
Chinois Screen, £455, The French Bedroom Company


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

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

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

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

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

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

Cool European style from Freshome.

The Blog Beautiful

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


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

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


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

Quirky but sleek: Chic Tip's design ethos.


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

Style Focus - Shaker

Traditional Shaker Living Room - Art Institute of Chicago

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

Style Focus: Art Deco

Patchwork Cowhide Runners, £101.50, from Graham and Green.

Deck out your home with art deco style

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our pick of the best interior design blogs

A vibrant snapshot of Bowie's eye for prints and patterns.

Be inspired by the creative brains behind these brilliant blogs

Print and Pattern

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

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

The Fabric of My Life

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

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

Puff and Flock

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