Monthly Archives: December 2012

A vibrant red to warm your walls; and Happy Christmas

Red wall paint is hard to get right – I know, as I bought many a taster pot in my hunt for the right shade: the walls as I mentioned before ended up looking like this:

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as I struggled to find red and neutral that worked for both walls and bookshelves. The neutral is Little Greene‘s versatile Pearl (for more info see Neutral Paint) but the red proved problematic, working my way through Fired Earth, Designers Guild, Farrow & Ball reds till I settled on Susie Watson‘s Ramsbury Red emulsion, which is manufactured for Susie Watson by Scottish paint experts Craig & Rose.

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The two images above show the finished walls and a glimpse of bookshelves; whilst below is Susie’s own shot, looking suitably Christmassy….

 

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And on that note, with the last Christmas image for this year, I wish you all a very Happy Christmas, and here’s looking forward to a great 2013 (especially as the world didn’t end this morning as planned!)

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Geometric patterns, Natural angles

Two wintery walks in completely different environments today and yesterday gave me the opportunity to take these images… The first is along a disused railway track in rural Sussex….

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The second just outside London Bridge station, looking upwards on this sunny day at the brand new Shard building….

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A reminder of whether natural or man-made, sometimes the world around us can be more similar than it originally appears.

The angles in both pictures got me thinking about the popularity of geometry in homeware product design currently: there are lots to choose from, but my current favourites include those by Mini Moderns and FermLIVING.

Mini Moderns new cotton dhurries come in fab, zingy patterns and shades:

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Whilst FermLIVING’s geometric patterned homewares, including trays, ceramics and cushions, are styled in muted shades: find them at Cloudberry Living.

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Keep Cosy this December

IMAG0610On days like today, my woodburning stove is definitely my favourite part of the cottage. I’ve mentioned it before (Candlesticks) but it’s -8 degrees outside, and doesn’t feel much warmer indoors, so the stove is both much loved and needed. Even with it going full out last night (here it is – with an empty log basket, help! More chopping required I think) I was feeling the chill: I’m going to ask for a blanket for Christmas, so I can cosy up by the stove, watch telly (current favourites go from one extreme to the other – The Killing and Made in Chelsea, both on catch up) and attempt to hibernate till spring time….

Cornwall’s The Atlantic Blanket Company is a blissful place to browse for blankets: just looking at these images makes me want to reach out and touch them.

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Blankets and throws above by The Atlantic Blanket Company 

Indigo & Rose  stock throws with a traditional Nordic Pattern: in both ice blue and rosy red, two of my much-loved decorating shades.

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Whilst bargain hunter extraordinaire Alison Cork’s lambswool throws from her online boutique Alison at Home are well-priced and soft to the touch: these two, with their relaxed checks and soft grey hues, are both tempting…

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All you need to buy this Christmas* – gift shopping sorted in 10

If, like me, you can’t move for pages of gift suggestions falling out of this weekend’s newspapers, then don’t despair… here’s a capsule collection of 10 modern classics to solve your Christmas shopping angst.

These (subjective, obviously) fabulous, mainly design-led products for should cover ideas for most of the family: some come with a little country-twist, but most are good for townies too….

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1 – Zeena Shah cushions: Zeena is one of the hottest textile designers around right now. Her cushion motifs are fresh, current and just a little bit folksy.

Buy for: yourself!; textile lovers, anyone who likes to sit comfortably… 

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2 – Paul Cocksedge Invisible Bookend: This is such a brilliant piece of design. It’s functional, witty, it doesn’t require any fitting, and yet holds around 1.5 metres worth of books. For me, just what modern design should be about.

Give to: cutting edge design enthusiasts, DIY avoiders, keen readers… 

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3 – Cambridge Satchel Company satchel. I grew up in Cambridge, and when I started school my mum gave me a (brown) leather satchel which I LOATHED. Complete with brown uniform, brown satchel, and topped off with pink-framed NHS glasses, I was a true child of my time.

Now I’ve grown up and so has the satchel: I love it in red, but the metallic ones are covetable too…

Give to: yourself, again! Your sister. Grown up nieces. Anyone who travels by bike. 

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4 Makers and Brothers Owls – I keep wondering when the owl as a motif will stop being popular, but till then you’ve got to love these owls by Cleo. Made in Ireland using Irish tweed and felt, they look just as cute individually as they do shown here in a group.

Give to: you could give them to others, but wouldn’t you miss them? 

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5: Opinel knife: Made in France, outdoorsy company Opinel have designed this round-tipped knife specifically for children  it’s the perfect whittling knife for boys and girls who love the outdoors and comes in several colours from red to pink, green and blue. My 10 year old loves the responsibility of having his own pen knife (yes it too took me a while to adjust from the knee-jerk reaction – a child, with a knife – I have only just moved from sarf-east London!). Picnic-loving or camping adults will also enjoy it. A safety catch keeps it either open or closed, and the round tip is also a safety aspect. (Opinel say from 7+ but for common sense reasons, only give to responsible children).

Give to: sensible older boys and girls, outdoorsy types, al fresco diners, glampers 

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6 – Beesnees by EsterComunello from TwentyTwentyOne: One of my favourite contemporary design stores stocks these quirky bee houses: sold as a set of three. Encourage solitary bumble bees to live in your garden and help our ecosystem. Made from wood and steel, they’re small enough for even the tiniest town garden.

Give to: gardeners, nature lovers, town and country dwellers 

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7 Capital Spice cookbook: We all love a currry, and this newly published cook book is a brilliant gift for anyone who – loves to cook, and/or loves curry, and/or loves London and/or loves to eat out at Indian restaurants.

Top notch London-based chefs share inside info and recipes, so we can recreate these tastes at home. (Ed.Chrissie Walker, published by Absolute Press).

Give to: A great gift for men who love to cook 

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8 Hampson Woods chopping board. Suddenly the humble chopping board has become a designer item, and there are plenty to choose from, but these are my favourites. Hand-carved in their Hackney workshops with wood from the London Plane tree, the boards are beautifully smooth to the touch.

Give to: lovers of contemporary design, keen cooks 

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9 – After Noah House of Marbles  62 piece marble run. After Noah was one of the first shops to stock unique pieces of retro and vintage accessories. They also  choose their toys well: classic in design, but most importantly, fun to play with!

Give to: boys and girls from 3+

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10 Baker Ross  Scissors Carousel: Not a great image but a perfect present for any child who loves to make and craft. Each pair of coloured scissors cuts a different pattern. Again, for common sense reasons, supervision will be needed for little ones.

Give to: boys and girls from 3+ 

 

 

Let me know what you think: Happy shopping!

(*FYI none of these are sponsored links, they’re just lovely products, in my opinion, which I’ve discovered this autumn whilst researching  for my ‘real’ job) 

Silver and metal Christmas decorations; Winter morning

This beautiful frosty morning here, with clear skies and icy air, has prompted me to indulge in my fondness for silver and worn, but delicate metals.

I took these images not even first thing – around 7.45am I guess – but the light was amazing. They aren’t altered: just as nature intended.

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Two inspirational companies, Northumberland’s RE and Denmark’s House Doctor, have decorations that successfully mix this year’s key trends of vintage / industrial / recycled and still keep the look pretty enough for most interiors.

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From the top: Bells from RE, candles from House Doctor, decs from House Doctor; jewelled crosses, metal crosses and mix of decs, all from RE.

Get Organised

Urgh: being organised. Who manages it? The whole idea of a Mums Organiser just makes me feel like a complete half-wit who can’t even source a decent pair of elasticated-waist trousers. (Why Mums? I don’t know who should feel sidelined or patronised the most – mums (so hopelessly disorganised they require their own stationery? or, alternatively, the only kind of adult trusted with organisation?), dads, those without children (whether thankfully or otherwise), grandparents? Or maybe these lucky people are just tip-tapping their dentists appts into their ipads and merrily remembering everything at a touch of a screen…)

But hey ho, rant over – there’s not getting away from the fact that I need some organising so here are two products I’ve found recently that should help me on my way….

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Cachette is a French-based company selling an interesting mix of interiors products – do take a look – I love their product selection; great for a ‘where did you get that’ present. Their wall planner (above) is both practical and attractive – (quite an achievement – take a moment to search for others and you’ll see what I mean).

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I’ve also spent far too much time this week putting off working by browsing the lovely Nordic Elements site: I think this magnetic steel organiser was created for children’s rooms but I love its design, with its romantic St Basils-esque turrets. Nordic Elements is a great place for sourcing excellent Scandinavian design (which we all know we can’t get enough of right now, here in the UK). Happy organising!

Natural Wood

With my return to country living comes an increased awareness of how natural, untreated wood is making an appearance in interiors. SCP, Cox & Cox, House Doctor and Garden Trading are all places to head to for beautiful wood furniture or decorative pieces, and/or decorations to transform your homes this December.

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From the top: Decorations from House Doctor, heart from Cox & Cox, shelves from Garden Trading; stools and decs from Cox & Cox, vintage sleighs from SCP.

These wooden animal boxes by Karl Zahn at SCP are my favourites: they double up as artwork whilst storing bits and pieces, and can be a toy as well (if you can bear (no pun intended)) to part with them….

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