Tassels have a long history and are naturally created at the end point of a cord after tying a knot. Decorative tassels gained popularity when they were produced with expertise en masse in France, so much so that by the 16th century the first Guild of Passementiers was created. Finding these skills in the UK is rare and I was pleasantly surprised when I came across a workshop in Swansea that produces the most amazing ornaments for window dressings. The items produced are of such quality they are shipped to high calibre residences all over the world.
Following on from my first post about the four key Christmas 2014 trends identified by on-line retailer Etsy, which was called ‘happy and bright’, my second is ‘subtle shine’. If you like sparkle you might have to tone it down a bit to follow this idea for the festive season because it shifts away from the excessive use of gold and silver to a more subtle approach. This festive table setting has rustic charm and effectively combines the simplicity of the country with sophisticated city style. With metallic materials, cushions and textiles with sheen and shimmer you can make this trend work in your home all year round. Read More
Living in a country cottage is a joy but there are inherent problems especially if, like me, your cottage is pretty small. The property I live and work in, in Cambridgeshire, was built in the 1800s and comprised four farmworkers cottages. Over the years it’s been changed around but now the building is a pair of cottages and they both still retain bags of character. We have low ceilings, beams, chimneys, small windows, sloping floors and wonky walls. Dealing with the interior of a property like this inspired me to write an IdeaBook for Houzz UK. I hope you like it and let me know your hints and tips in the grey comment box below. If you enjoyed this post join my mailing list to receive the Newsletter for more great ideas straight to your inbox.
Online handmade and vintage marketplace Etsy has identified four key trends for Christmas 2014 by analysing new products being added to the 1 million+ active Etsy shops. I’ve taken the four ideas and developed them for you so you can decide which one would suit your style this year. First up is ‘happy and bright’, especially for those who love colour and want to decorate with a difference this festive season. The Christmas wreath, available soon, from Sainsburys Home is a steal at just £15.00 – the eye-catching collection of wool balls will make the children smile. Read More
Three lucky people have been invited by Annie Sloan* to be her Painters in Residence. It’s a concept inspired by ‘artist in residence’ programmes run in art galleries and museums. Every 3 months Annie invites creative individuals from the interiors world to join her programme and they are selected for their style and the interesting work that they create. Working from their own studios, whilst being supported and guided by Annie, they produce five or more projects.
A note received from a client…..
“Since you came to my house for an interior consultancy session I’ve been thinking about something you mentioned – that rooms may be used for different functions and that this changes as families grow up and lifestyle dictates.
We have two reception rooms one dining and one living room. When the children were small the dining room doubled as a playroom and this is where I entertained other mums whilst our children played yet this was still a dining room in the evening. It kept our living room clear and private for TV and relaxing.
Since our children have grown up now our dining room has been used for only one hour a day for our main meal, and I thought ‘what a waste of space’. Also, we tend to have visitors more often and since the dining room is actually the larger room of the two I decided to make it less of a dining room and more of a sitting room for entertaining. We bought two stressless chairs and are awaiting a sofa. This meant our dining table was too large and we replaced this with a console table that opens out to accommodate 6 people at dinner but folds back down lengthways and looks inconspicuous.
The point is, we have more flexibility; we now entertain in the larger room and still have the private living room for watching TV. The new lighter furniture allows for items being moved into either room more easily, so at Christmas when the visiting family want to watch films, we can quickly move extra comfortable chairs in and out again. I feel we are using the space better and have purchased the furniture to allow flexibility, a thing I had not fully appreciated before. I think your conversation allowed me to realise this, thank you.” Heather E.
My 2 hour consultancy service is ideal for clients living in Cambridgeshire and surrounding counties. It’s your opportunity to pick my brains at a time that suits you in the comfort of your own home.
(Image courtesy www.WallpaperDirect.com features Sanderson Poppies rug.)
By the way, you may have wondered what paint is being used in the TV programme, the Great Interior Design Challenge, currently airing on BBC2…. when one of the contestants says they can paint a chair without sanding it down, priming it and so on you just wouldn’t believe it, but the results are pretty remarkable, yes it’s Annie Sloan. Here are some screenshots – look out for more!
I’m going to be giving away some Annie Sloan paint in a fantastic competition on the blog very soon. Join my mailing list to receive the Newsletter so you don’t miss the opportunity to win a fabulous prize!
Things are changing and no longer do we design just for a speedy clean! We need to incorporate efficient showers in our bathrooms but also consider a more relaxing way with water; to consider health and wellbeing through aroma, sound and…… bubbles! Hop over to Australia and take a peek at my monthly article on the lifestyle website Best Home Ideas. Read More
Juliet Travers‘ Nakuru design is part of her Safari collection featuring animals and birds from nature. Juliet is an accomplished artist and captures common characteristics of the wildlife of South Africa. She portrays typical scenes in which those animals would be found and her hand drawings are the starting point for the designs which are manufactured in England using the gravure technique (a world class printing method for achieving maximum detail and tone). This collection takes us on an imaginary journey through East Africa exploring some of the most stunning wildlife found on the continent. Read More
Christmas has come early as I peek into the stylish bag presented to me at the Amara Interior Blog awards evening. I’m fascinated by the goodies and there are quite a few as you can see; some useful Christmas present ideas here. I’m sure you would love to receive or gift the…
Missoni Home Paul towels (I have a hand towel and it is jazzy without being too jazzy, if you know what I mean. It’s very stylish and suitable for both sexes and any age. A little notepad is included in the goodie bag which I’ve popped into my handbag.) Read More
Spending an evening in a fine hotel, wearing a super new number and squeezing toes into uncomfortable shoes has to be a highlight in any girl’s calendar. This is 5 November 2014 and we’ve been looking forward to the Amara Interior Blog Awards for several weeks since the shortlist was announced early in October. There are some very clever people in the design world using social media to share, learn and inspire others and I was absolutely thrilled not only to have my blog nominated for an award but to be shortlisted by public vote. Hence I was invited to the ‘do’ to enjoy the animated atmosphere of the awards ceremony in splendid surroundings. Read More
Many people ask me about my career in Interior Design, how I got into it and what it entails. Most often I’m asked by people who would like to get into the industry but don’t quite know where to start. Glad to have had the experience of running a company, of managing my time whilst dealing with several deadlines at once, I’ve had the right grounding. And I received the best training possible to set me on this career path on top of which I’ve been doing up properties for decades.
- If you are remodelling your home locate your laundry room near the bedrooms rather than next to the kitchen, especially if you rarely dry your washing outside. We are brainwashed (‘scuse the pun) into thinking that washing machines must go in a utility room or kitchen; they can be more usefully placed upstairs, under the stairs or in a purpose built laundry cupboard in the bathroom.
- Always divide washing into four piles: Whites, mediums, darks and downright muddy. 1) Whites will keep white for decades if they are never mixed with other items in the wash, particularly if they are natural cottons or linen. It really pays to keep this rule! I invest in quality white linen for the bed, it always looks and feels great. 2) My term, ‘mediums’, covers anything that isn’t white but also isn’t navy, brown or black. This includes clothes and coloured sheets. 3) Your ‘darks’ are navy, brown and black – you get the idea. 4) Muddy stuff is the outdoor gear, football kit etc.
- Dry washing straight away either on the line or in the tumble dryer. Try not to leave it in the machine long after the wash is completed as damp fabrics can attract bacteria. To keep energy costs down use the tumble dryer for a short time to get rid of most of the moisture then hang on an indoor airer to finish off. I find a short tumble dry really takes the creases out.
- Most items can be divided into two types when it comes to ironing: clothes and linen. It makes sense to iron in the bedroom or dressing room so you can hang clothes up straight away. Use a table top or other flat surface (the bed) nearby to pile your freshly ironed linen then take it all in one trip to your linen cupboard.
- Airing cupboards and linen cupboards are great if you have one. If you don’t I would advise including one in any remodelling you undertake. Make sure the cupboard has low level heating, to keep your linen dry, and good air circulation. Include lots of shelves so you don’t spoil your ironing in huge piles – how many times have you got something out from under a pile and had to iron it again? Now that isn’t fun!
Brabantia, the homewares and housewares manufacturer, contacted me for some ‘designer insights’ and it put me in mind to write a post because years ago I used to work with this company when I ran the UK’S National Institute of Hardware. Brabantia supported the housewares and hardware trade with great conviction so I was more than happy to spend a bit of time with Sarah, who works for their PR company Montage, and respond to some interview questions; you can see the interview on the Brabantia Blog. Read More
This house was ready for a new lease of life to provide a home for modern day family living. The couple who own the property planned to virtually double the floor area by adding a new wing which resulted in the front door being located in the centre of the building rather than on one side. With the work now complete can you guess which side is the new and which the original?
I introduced this property in a previous post (link here) which focused on the architectural style of the period between the wars. The front door plays a key role in setting the scene: here’s the before and after. Read More
Yes it’s back! With 16 episodes to keep us glued to the sets it starts on BBC 2, 7.00pm Tuesday 28 October 2014. With little fanfare it has slipped into the TV listings and you sure don’t want to miss it because it’s a fascinating insight into the world of interiors and the client – designer relationship.
I’ve noted the TV schedule times are irregular so advise you set your TV on series record if you want to catch every episode, or check the Radio Times.
Along with many of you I enjoyed Series 1 and was able to follow up with a review of the book. Since then I’ve been keeping up to date with some of the contestants and winner of Series 1 Sarah Moore. Judges (above) are once again Sophie Robinson and Daniel Hopwood and the programme is introduced by leading architecture expert Tom Dyckhoff.
“Daniel and I had the best year ever judging the designs from this years crop of passionate amateur designers. We’ve learnt a lot of new ideas and techniques from the designers as well as have a really good nose around some of the most interesting homes in Britain.” Sophie Robinson
Being interviewed for the Amara Blog Awards in the run up to the final gala night and Awards presentation adds to the sense of anticipation. I’m very interested to meet my fellow finalists, particularly in my own category of Best Stylist/Interior Designer.
Top five designers
And there are many bloggers in other categories, who I’m in touch with regularly, I will meet for the first time on the 5 November – the party can’t come soon enough! While I contain my excitement you might like to see who’s going and take a look at their blogs: links above!
Are you interested in design?
Robyn Parker is a young lady with a lot of talent. We connected on social media and then I went to see her for real at 100% Design London 2014 where she was exhibiting her home-wares. From cushions to lampshades, mugs to purses these items are a feast for the eyes but with a twist. Not only do you get the highest quality, which we expect from items made in the UK, but we get a hint of storytelling as well. Every pattern has a history and even Robyn’s transition into the design world comes with some nostalgia. The name of her company Archie Mac London is a reference to her great-grandfather who had artistic skills and her motivation to do him proud is clear for all to see. Read More
This project, A Home is my Museum, is part of the Curating Cambridge event: a series of exhibitions, workshops, performances and talks that runs from 20 October – 23 November 2014. Cambridge is an exciting City full of culture and creativity and I’m lucky to have it all on my doorstep.
Is your home full of curious, valuable and emotionally significant items? Do you have collections of memorabilia? From old photographs in shoe boxes to holiday mementos and treasured objects, I wonder what lies behind the doors of Cambridge householders…? Caroline Wright is leading the project and will explore and celebrate domestic, private museums through a performance and online collection. Some of the items are shown above:
- A piece of fabric with memories for the owner; it was once a child’s duvet cover and this is a remaining square.
- The snake skin is a reminder for the owner of the Boa Constrictor, of the size it used to be.
- Dogs ashes; these from much loved pets are going to be scattered with the owner’s when the time comes.
- The stone sculpture is a treasured holiday find that cost a fortune to bring home.
To curate is to select, to organise and to care for objects but what does it mean to you? What treasured memento would you include?
If you’ve got kids (of any age) then Hallowe’en is a good excuse for a party. As Hallowe’en falls on a Friday this year a super scary dinner with family or friends is the perfect end to a week. Make your home welcoming with this Autumn wreath from The Contemporary Home, £30.00. It’s faux oak leaf and should withstand the rigours of the weather; you never know who might come knocking on your door! And to make the party interesting I’ve come across some wonderful plates with a curious and contemporary twist.
Fashion couturier Oscar de la Renta died today after a long battle with cancer. It is sad that all the creative vision within this man is at an end but he has left a wonderful legacy. He gave colour and pattern a life of its own and created sumptuous outfits worn by Royalty, film stars and high ranking political figures.
Starting life in the Dominican Republic he moved to Madrid, Spain when he was 18 to study art, which must have been an exciting and inspirational journey. His talent was clear very early on as he soon got a job working with Spanish designer Cristobal Balenciaga and from there his rise to fame was meteoric.
I’m always intrigued by the commercial shift from fashion house to interiors and for Oscar de la Renta it happened in his later years although his ability to pull off a creative triumph was ever present. I understand that when he bought a house in Connecticut, and was on a tight budget, he went to Macy’s for sheets to cover the furniture and walls! Read More
20 October – 2 November 2014
Over 250 events take place all over Cambridge and there is something for everyone. The Festival of Ideas is an amazing mix of talent, thought, experiment and participation. Join in and book your favourite activity today.
A few of the events that interest me are:
7.30pm – 8.30pm, Wednesday 22 October: But is it art? Redefining ‘folk’ and the culture of collections and exhibition Museum of Cambridge, 2/3 Castle Street, CB3 0AQ. Join a panel of curators and artists from the Museum of Cambridge and Tate Britain for a lively discussion on the origins and influences of british folk art traditions. Pre-book tel: 01223 355159.
1.30pm – 2.30pm, Sunday 26 October: WHAT’S WRONG WITH PINK? Pink for girls and blue for boys, right? Wrong! Cambridge Junction, Clifton Way, CB1 7GX. Join neuroscientist Vickie Pasterski, Emma Moore from the Pink Stinks campaign and others as they explore pinkification, separate toys in toyshops and why it matters. Pre-book tel: 01223 511511
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