Autumn Fair 2019

This week I visited the NEC for The Autumn Fair, which is an exhibition for buyers covering homeware, gifts, fashion, retails solutions, home decor and more.

HOME DECOR

It is a vast space and was packed with exhibitors from across the globe.  There was colour trend forecasting also on offer, with 4 distinct trends and co-ordinating colour palettes – Dome, Scarcity, Gorge and Ritual were the themes:

Moving through the exhibition, in which there were literally hundreds of stalls, the next stop was home decor and lighting.  There were some lovely companies showing.  Coach House were particularly elegant and had a wide range of styles with a strong emphasis in oversized lighting:

I discovered a new brand called One World, and love their oversized furniture and accessories:

Plus I found a fantastic lighting company called Light & Living from the Netherlands, featured below.  Every light was beautiful, and I love the mesh pendants (which incidentally a lot of brands featured so they will be a big thing in 2020).  Their lights were beautiful, although very heavy so the practical designer in me popped out as I pondered the way to hang them safely on a standard British light fitting..

So looking at trends for 2020 home decor, colour is definitely creeping back in, even if the sophisticated greys/blush combos and Hygge remain popular.  I am really happy to see some colour after years of pale greys though….

SUSTAINABILITY

On another positive note, there was a large emphasis from exhibitors on sustainability.  I spent ages talking to a Chinese manufacturer from the Shaoneng Group about their products made from sugar cane and bamboo waste pulp.  They apply it to disposable food retail products, but it could also apply to many other home items.  It is biodegradable, water and oil proof and much more.  A wonderful product, especially for take aways and similar food outlets.

xunhuan

So definitely an interesting place to visit and see what is on offer, how it is made and what some companies are doing to help sustainability and recycling.  This month I also will be visiting 100% Design & The London Design Fair, so watch this space for more ramblings…

Dressing for Success

Styling accessories in your home is something which creates mood, can turn a bland spot into a point of interest and enhance your decor.  If you know this site, you know that ‘things’ abound in my own house and I am forever arranging vignettes and little corners. People spend hours looking at them when they visit, and say they could never arrange things and create the same effect.  But that is where they are wrong, it can be easily done…

Here are some basic simple principles to styling your home effectively:

LAYER FABRICS

If you have a sofa or armchair, add cushions and a throw or two.  Chose contrasting and complimentary fabrics, and different textures also work really well.  You can change the cushions easily for seasonal changes; think chunky cable knit for winter and silks for summer.  Never place cushions on their points in serried ranks, it makes it look as if you can’t sit on the sofa for fear of upsetting it.  You want people to feel welcome to sit down and relax.

 

The same principe applies to windows.  You can ring the seasons changing by using thicker curtains in the winter, and switching to lighter ones in the summer.  Luxe looks can also be created by layering blinds, pelmets and curtains.

SYMMETRY OR NON-SYMMETRY?

SYMMETRY

If you are going for a formal look and like order and calm, symmetry works really well.  A chimney breast wall for example will usually have the fireplace centralised, and alcoves ether side.  Work in two’s from the centre point of the wall outwards as you place items.  Anouska Hempel is the master of this approach in a very formal, rich-toned style:

 

But the same approach by Kelly Hoppen has a lighter touch and is more contemporary, while still sticking to the same principles:

 

Work in even numbers for placing everything, centralise them, and you can’t really go wrong.

 

NON-SYMMETRY

This asymmetrical approach creates a much more modern and relaxed look.  This time stick to odd numbers for items that you are placing.  Work from left to right, or vice versa.  This looks really good on areas such as shelves and mantlepieces.

 

 

IMG_6091 2

You can also apply this principle to a gallery wall.

 

WHAT TO USE?

Anything and everything that you have to hand can be used to style a home.  You can make interesting visual displays of anything from mis-matching mugs to coats & wellies.  Books look great colour-coded, or go neutral as the person below has done by turning them back to front, although it might take you ages to find the actual book you are looking for!

 

 

Also, a great tip is to keep your eyes peeled for bargains whenever you are out and about.  Some of my best styling items have been picked up in sales, charity shops and high street pound shops.  Sometimes you can find great items at knockdown prices that can be used to style your home and have a high end look.  These baskets were picked up for  just £1 each in a sale, and can be used all over the home in styling with an industrial look; in a kitchen as below, in a bathroom for toiletries and towels, as pot plant holders and so on.  They look great as a group.

 

Some high street retailers such as H&M, Zara Home and Primark also have seasonal collections of very well priced and designed accessories.

WHAT NOT TO DRESS A HOUSE WITH!

There are some items which should always be hidden away as they are hard to use as display items when dressing and styling a house.  I have yet to find a way to make hairdryers and straightening tongs look beautiful… The same applies to dirty laundry,  cleaning products and mainstream packaged foods unless they are from a smart deli and have amazing packaging.

Also, unless you own immaculate shoes as in the picture below, always store shoes and trainers away.

4becf40e4c3c40f6809b19a23fc420b2

600-02200700

 

SaveSave

Retro Bedspread Repurpose

img_0707

Not quite sure what is going on with me, but my recent redecoration of the dining room with pinging accents of orange, has created a need for hunting out more orange bits and pieces ready for the festive season.  Tablecloths, candles, candles and so on.  This is quite a hard colour to source, especially with good quality table linens.  I never even liked orange much before I did this room, so finding things is quite hard as I don’t even have a mental stash of where I have seen things in the past that are appropriate.  With Christmas approaching I also wanted to spend as little as possible as there is lots of other shopping ahead to do.

img_3840

Some serious hunting for a table cloth online resulted in either horrible poly cotton banquet plain tablecloths which headed into neon territory, or 100% Irish linen dyed to order at eye watering prices.  I also looked at buying fabric directly, but I kept choosing the most expensive fabrics and £120 a meter is not really budget-friendly.   I also need an ENORMOUS tablecloth, as at Christmas I have my cunning extra large tabletop that comes out of storage and sits on top of the existing table.  It seat 14 easily, and in the past I have had to either make cloths for it or adapt king size bedspreads.  All were tastefully neutral, and not at all suitable for the colours in the room now.

I needed something to ping, and this is the sort of orange colour I needed.  Really pumpkin-like.

img_3949

 

And lo, along came ebay.  I have not used it for a while, mainly as postage has got so expensive in the UK that people seem to have stopped selling on it so much.  But I started to hunt for anything orange, and then this original 1970’s St Michael (M&S) bedspread appeared tucked away in the bedding section.  It is woven damask in shades of orange, perfect for a pop of colour, and looks like something from dressing a 70’s TV sitcom.  And Reader, I bid immediately.  In fact no-one else bid on what looked frankly pretty awful in the picture, so I got it for a song. Here it is, looking a bit grim and dated on ebay.

bedpsread-jpg

It turned up yesterday, and actually it really works in the room!

It is really bright orange and yellow with lovely fat bullion fringing.  It works with all the other soft furnishings in the room.  And it is massive and will easily fit the Christmas table top.

img_3962Until then, I have used it in the corner of the room on a round table, replacing a ‘tastefully beige’ one.  It would not work anywhere else in the house at all, but it does suit the dining room scheme.  Job done, total cost £8.50.

Creating a Gallery Wall

Once Upon a time…

I used to help out at an Art Gallery where the positioning and hanging of the art was as important as the pictures themselves.  I think that apart from basic hanging ‘rules’ about eye levels not being too high, hanging pictures is a very personal thing.  However some people get very nervous about putting up art, so here is hopefully a helping hand…

gallery-wall-title

Here is my latest area where I am going to create a gallery wall, a finishing-off part of a dining room makeover.  You can read about the main bulk of work doing the room here.  After finishing the room I was left with a really large wall which has a mirror and two very large formal prints on it placed very formally.  I do like them, but wanted to create more interest and jazz it up a bit.  In fact, I noticed that when I was trying to find photos of that wall, I had hardly any as it was never that inspiring, so that is a bit telling!

I want to create a gallery wall that is much more contemporary, and uses a variety of artwork and interesting pieces.  I find I always lean towards hanging art very symmetrically and I suppose that is my comfort zone, but this time I am intentionally going to offset the pieces and push the boundaries for myself.

Can I apologise in advance for glare on the photos, the wall faces a large french window and the reflections were murder in my pictures!

So you can sort of see the wall in the back of the pictures, and it is definitely time to make it more interesting.  It is nearly 4 metres wide and has 1.7 metres clear vertically in the dado to picture rail space  There is a radiator below the dado rail bang in the middle, and I might have get a cover made for it as it does stick our like a sore thumb, but that can be a later project.  I know some people paint their radiators in the same colour and paint as the wall behind, so that could be an option…

STEP ONE

Continue reading “Creating a Gallery Wall”

Heals – A rather fabulous shop

I was in London yesterday, whiling away the time whilst my eldest daughter was singing in a concert.  Heading to the Tottenham Court Road, I visited Heals, a fantastic furniture emporium which I have not been to for at least a decade.  A lifetime ago when I lived in London and was furnishing my first apartment,, it was THE place to get your cool, edgy statement pieces.  Happily, it is still just as cutting edge in design as I remember.

Heals-London-740x548

The first thing I saw on entering was Abigail Ahern‘s flower shop.  These are the most realistic blooms and plants I have even seen.  The cactus’ especially intrigued my youngest daughter who was with me.  She could not believe they were not real and kept stroking them, with no spines and spikes to hurt her little hands.

IMG_0553

 

1 (3)

You can order these on-line if you cannot get to London from her on-line shop, and I guarantee they are worth getting.  They are amazing, and you would probably end up watering them by mistake.

We then headed into the shop where I was assailed by the most beautiful lights, they are like huge teardrops in hand blown glass.

IMG_0554

There are well priced selection of wall lights.

IMG_2320IMG_2321Then on to the scented candles to smell some delicious scents, and where the Tom Dixon candles are sublime, if not unbelievably pricey.543205Every item is chosen carefully to represent the best in design in Heals.  This new cinema chair is very sweet too…

chair heals cinema

And I feel that the Pinner bed would look great in my spare room.  Like a modernist colonial upgrade.

15.05.07_Heals_02_0117

This is tableware called ‘Ink’.  Each blue and white motif evokes classic Delftware porcelain and 1950s Midwinter ceramics.

Ink-067A_Med

I recommend a visit to anyone who loves interiors when in London.  And if not, the website is well designed and ships internationally.  A final swoon over Abigail Ahern flowers designed into a huge hanging beast of beauty….

 

IMG_0555

 

 

 

 

Vintage Bottles – Labels Freebie

Well, sort of vintage bottles…. they will look it when you are finished.

lightbox - 6

lightbox - 2

I was given a collection of clear glass bottles with corks, (without labels), and was wondering what to do with them.  Perusing online, I found some great old labels which were a whizz to download, print out and use on the bottles.

lightbox - 7

Some of the titles are hilarious, I am especially fond of ‘White Oil – For Man and Beast’, what this was used for once upon a time I have no idea?!

lightbox - 11

I enclose the files that you can use below, they are jpegs and good enough quality to print out and use yourself.  What will you use them for?

Old Chemist Labels 1Apothecary style labelsOld Chemist Labels 2Old Chemist Labels 3

My latest find…

And how to communicate with teenagers successfully…

After Christmas I received hundreds of sale emails from various interior shops.  One of them was from Cox & Cox, a great online retailer with quirky items.  I was not planning to buy anything, especially after Christmas, but this little beauty caught my eye, and it was also reduced so it would have been rude not too really….

monochrome-light-box-c-lightbox.png

It’s a light box that come with lots of letters, and you can either wall-mount it or have it freestanding.  This has become the key way of communicating with my teenagers at the moment as they shoot in and out of the house, and they also love to leave messages too, so it is a two-way thing.

I have mine in the hall, so they can see it the minute they enter the house.  There is NO WAY they cannot get the message.  Unlike a phone that they can say they did not have on to receive a text or a voicemail, this sign is in your face and unmissable.

new signs-4

hack - 2

 

When I first got it, I did a cheery message to get them ready to go back to school after the Christmas holidays:

new signs

 

By the end of day one at school, it had been changed to this by a child…

new signs-1

But generally it is a lovely sign to greet people and you can personalise it too if you want.

new signs-2

But it also has brutal usages if so required…

new signs-3

Genius, thank you Cox & Cox!

Grabbing yet another bargain…. sorry OKA…

Following on from the sideboard makeover last week, I had a niggling feeling about it not being quite right in that my lamps looked a bit too small.  In fact they looked like they were lilliputian and Gulliver had lent them to me.  The sideboard is so big that it needed some REALLY BIG LAMPS. See here…. weeny!

IMG_1207

So I started to hunt for some that were a) big in scale and b) a bargain as is always preferred. I found these by OKA, I just love all the things that they sell and wander their shops salivating a lot and buying far too many trinkets and flowers for the house.. but they are whopping £327 each with a shade included, and I wanted a pair as I get a queasy tummy if I don’t see symmetry!  So, over £650 for two lamps, I just cannot justify it, especially with two teenage girls who have their mothers’ clothes shopping habits already!    But the OKA lamps are so lovely with the weathered wood, and I liked the neutrality of them in case I feel like moving things around in the house at a later date, (which is a dead cert really).  Here is the lamp:

oka lamp

So I started the usual trawling grounds; ebay, gumtree, local charity shops.  Nothing that I liked, and certainly nothing that was a bargain if I started to count postage costs.

But then today by absolute FLUKE, I was passing a shop called The Range that I remembered had some lighting that was incredibly well priced, but with some occasional hidden gems that I think look very upmarket and well designed.  So I popped in, rooted around and found this lamp: Continue reading “Grabbing yet another bargain…. sorry OKA…”

Top 10 Home Accessories That Show You Are A Grown Up

Following on from my Top 10 decorating mistakes to avoid, I started wondering about what objects signify that one is finally being a bit more mature and can be classed as a grown up.  Here is the list… what remains a secret is whether I have all 10.

1.  A proper coffee machine

Not just a percolator or stove top job, but the whole branded Gaggia/Jura/Dualit gizmo with bells and whistles on.  Starting at over £200 and heading into the thousands, these objects of desire channel a mature attitude to coffee, with a hefty helping of ‘I am actually a secret Barista’ thrown in.  You get 1000 extra grown-up points if it is a built in coffee machine by Miele.  Those who have any of these mentioned are obviously smug, and those who don’t are envious.

2.  A present/gift drawer

It’s that awful moment when you remember that someone’s birthday is NOW! and you have forgotten a gift, and need it pronto.  This results in a mad dash to a local shop, mainly for me the local petrol station, to get a not very good choice of wine.  Or cash if it is a child, (not good to waste wine on a child).

You know you are grown up when the above scenario does not happen, but you can stroll to an allocated drawer and pull out one of a variety of choice presents.  It will be niche, stylish and perfect.  Inside that drawer will be scented designer candles, leather goods, beautiful stationary and so on.  There is probably also a selection of droll New Yorker cards, and some rather nice assortments of wrapping paper to choose from.  Continue reading “Top 10 Home Accessories That Show You Are A Grown Up”