Marrakesh Moments 3 -Jardin Majorelle

Decorating, Inspiration, Travel

No trip to Marrakesh is complete without a visit to these famed gardens, initially created by the French artist Jacques Majorelle, and then later purchased by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé in 1980 to save the gardens from redevelopment.  After Yves Saint Laurent’s death in 2008, the gardens were donated by Pierre Bergé to the YSL charitable foundation.  On November 27, 2010, the street in front of the Jardin Majorelle’s entrance was renamed the Rue Yves Saint Laurent in his honour.


The famous Majorelle blue and vivid lemon colours dots the site, and the selection of cacti, palms, bamboo and exotic plants creates a shady oasis in the heart of the business of the city.  Water creates reflections and sounds, and it is a garden to sit and while away the hours in contemplation.

I first visited these gardens in 2007, when I was a bit disappointed at the time if truth be told, the gardens seemed shabby back then and had graffiti scratched into all the bamboo canes by eager tourists.  Then last week I revisited them, and they have been transformed, along with an amazing museum set inside the original house.

The area near the former Art studio, which now is a new museum of Berber Art opened in 2010, has wonderful ponds and terraces in vivid blue and yellow colours.


Marrakesh Moments 2 – Carpets

Carpets, Decorating, Inspiration, Interior Design, Travel

When in Morocco…

You cannot avoid the fact that there are a lot of carpets and rugs in this country…  They hang all over the souks in the Medina in Marrakesh, and each one seems different in pattern, colour and style.  I spent some time at one carpet shop where the sheer amount of carpets was astounding, and it was just one of hundreds in the city and surrounding area.  Rugs were stacked floor to ceiling through the whole building, and even hung on the roof.

Types of carpet

Moroccan carpets can be grouped into rural or urban, Berber or Arab. Urban carpets are influenced by the fine, oriental designs of the Middle East and are intricately detailed.

Rural Berber carpets are handwoven into abstract patterns and symbols that tell the stories of a tribe. Carpets from the Middle Atlas – zanafi – have a deep, woollen pile to keep out the cold and are usually long and narrow.


Marrakech moments…

Exhibitions, Inspiration, Interior Design, Travel

Last night in this exotic city, and after a ride home in a Caleche it is time to share some lovely photographs of the palaces and museums that I visited today.

Starting at the Dar Si Said palace, I saw amazing painted ceilings, carved plaster and mosaic work .  This place is not for people who do not like symmetry!  The museum is in a bit of a bad way, with some floors missing tiles and crumbling.  Some western conservation would not go amiss so that preservation and conservation rather than replacement happens.
However the museum staff were lovely and let us peek at the out of bounds harem’s courtyard as a treat.  They were very proud of the museum and gave us lots of information, which my schoolgirl french just about managed to intepret.

The Marriage of Figaro – Is Opera a dying art?

Inspiration, music, Opera

I am digressing from my normal posts of design and making things, due to inspirational event  activities.  Last night I attended a live stream of the Royal Opera House’s performance of The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart.  My eldest daughter is studying Voice as a Junior member of the Royal College of Music, so it seemed a very nice idea to be able to pop to the local cinema with her rather than heading to London for the evening in the middle of term time for the screening.

Mozart is a good introduction to Opera generally for a young person , and this opera is comic and with very well known and memorable refrains, so I though she would enjoy the piece.  In fact, it is sort of like the Jeremy Kyle show on speed in terms of content!  Twisting plots, confusing cross love affairs and more, and all executed beautifully in this David McVicar production.  It has been said that Opera is elitist, expensive and a dying art form, but this recently started live streaming format is proving incredibly popular worldwide and making it accessible to everyone.  Opera is just an earlier form of the Musical, and I don’t think it should be relegated to the elitist bin as such.

The set design and lighting are what really stood out for me visually in this production.  A lot of operas and theatre directors tend to reimagine the action into current day, usually some sort of civil war is popular.   I recently saw the RSC’s Othello at Stratford where the main uniform seemed to be combat gear and riot police clothing.  I was a bit disappointed honestly, as I wanted to see the pomp and splendour of Venice in which the play was originally set, not what looked like an Afghan outpost.  That said, it was an amazing production with spectacular acting, but I don’t think it necessary to always try and modernise theatre and opera to make it ‘new’.  If the plot is solid, it will sustain.

The Marriage of Figaro I watched was set in the past, in a cross between French Romanticism, Victorianism and a little bit of Baroque.   The stage design was very simple, with huge tall rooms of faded grandeur, that cleverly slid and flew into different set ups so that transitions became fascinating rather than distracting.  The predominant colours were buff, others and dreams and it all conspired to create a very elegant visual composition.  The furniture was large scale, minimal in amount and slightly shabby, furthering the impression of a faded Palazzo.  I was also furtively coveting the aged paint effects in the wall panelling and wondering how to replicate them at times…you just cannot take the decorater out of the girl….

The lighting design furthered this impression of faded grandeur, with the most realistic use of dappled daylight lighting.  There is a scene when Cherubino jumps out a window, and I could have sworn it was a real sunny day beyond the frame the way the scene was lit.  The night scene in the wood was very effective, with tree shadows simply cast across the stage.

The singers were all, of course, top notch performers.  Figaro was performed by Erwin Schrott with perfect execution, and Suzanna’s part was take that night by Sophie Bevan who did a masterly job in captivating the audience.  The character of Cherubino, the young page, was the most memorable for me.  The singer Kate Lindey managed to come across as a hormonal teenage maniac, literally itching in her pants to jump any available female.  Her comic timing was hilarious, but she also avoided pastiche and sang the pathos notes in Non Si Piu so beautifully that the hairs stood up on my neck.  The ensemble opera company played all of their roles to perfection, bustling around as servants, changing the sets,  eavesdropping on their Master and developing strong characters of their own whilst not in leading roles.

We left the cinema elated, and humming Mozart refrains, (in my case appallingly out of tune which my daughter kindly tolerated).  I so hope that these productions do not die a death whilst young people move into pure poptastic realms.  We were the only people in the cinema under 60, and the only ones who applauded, laughed, gasped and more.  These live streams could be so good at introducing younger people to Opera if they keep going, in fact I think they should be made compulsory as part of the curriculum.  Any 14 year old boy would identify with Cherubino as a starter….in a sort of Kevin and Perry/Beavis and Butthead way.

It’s Official. I don’t get a kick out of neutrals anymore….c

Colour, Decorating, Inspiration, Interior Design

Something has changed – it could be hormonal, or maybe I have had a small stroke and a part of my brain has switched to a new dimension, but I just cannot get enthused at the moment with natural shades and calm interiors. Neutrals are great for making things look spacious, calm and restful, but I just don’t seem to want them anymore.  I want drama, colour and eclecticism.

Genius quick fix that looks good!

Decorating, DIY, Inspiration, Makeover, Uncategorized

I saw this link today for the most amazing backsplash, way easier than tiling, and it looks great… Thanks to Remodilista for sharing!

Good news for renters and rehabbers: Kitchen Walls, a new company out of the Netherlands, has developed a heat- and stain-resistant wallpaper that can be applied to almost any surface, creating an instant kitchen backsplash.

Made of PVC, the wallpaper is also impermeable to water, “so it’s usable behind your stove,” they say. “It can be cleaned with warm water and even the most terrible stains, such as grease or tomato sauce, will disappear without effort.” What’s more, it’s not only easy to apply (it comes with a special glue) but also removable—and reusable.

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Tattoo Parlour Reveal Part Two – Tattoo Studio

Decorating, DIY, Inspiration, Shop refit, Tattoo Parlour

IMG_1758The day has come and Rocket Queen is now open for business with Charmaigne and Danny inking creatively in the fabulous new premises. Here is the tattoo studio makeover story…


Textured walls, uneven floors and in a mess

When we started the room was large and full of shelving with bumpy concrete walls, a rubbish ceiling, uneven floors and generally in a very sorry state.  It took ages to clear it, and a full skip load of rubbish had to be taken away.


The floor needed a total overhaul.

The room has 3 windows, all with security bars which need to stay as part of the lease, which then led to ‘Inspiration No 1’-  a prison cell.

This room has to be highly functional, and also very sterile for Health & Safety standards.  Bearing this in mind, we decided to go for non-porous surfaces which are easily cleanable.   I kept thinking about the film ‘Dead Ringer’s with Jeremy Irons in his operating room, so took the tiles idea as ‘Inspiration No 2′ – an operating theatre.

I did want to bring in an abbatoir feel as ‘Inspiration No 3’, and use chains from the ceiling to hand screens from, but was rightly persuaded that it might scare off the clients!

We tiled all around the room with metro tiles and used black grout to make them stand out.  A new ceiling and plasterboard was added to make the rest of the surfaces smooth and hygenic:


A huge amount of tiling was needed


Ceiling before replacement and the inspirational iron bars!

The new upper walls were painted in dark charcoal grey paint, (washable but with a matt finish), and the lowered new ceiling was painted white to reflect light.  The floor is high grade linoleum for hygiene in a dark grey with a slight sparkle finish and it is non-slip.  To keep the room very clinical, we installed a stainless steel medical sink, and chose a variety of storage furniture in enamel which continued the sterile look. The white cabinets came from Ikea, and the black trolleys are actually mechanics’ garage storage systems.  The tattoo benches are adjustable so that clients can sit or lie any which way for tattoos on any part of the body.

best wide

Dark floors and paintwork on the walls


Medical sink

As two tattoo artists work in this room, we bought and installed two medical privacy screens in case people want a private area during their sessions.  I changed the very dull plastic white pvc panels on these for new waterproof and wipeable fabric, (aka shower curtain fabric sewn into panels, and which is as slithery as hell when you sew with it!).  We used really cool retro patterns of tattoos and tattooed people for these.



Love this fabric!

As the room is predominantly grey, black and white we added some punches of much needed colour, with posters and original artwork by artists like Jacknife’s Chris Hopewell.






Before & After: really pleased with the transformation…..






There are two separate treatment rooms, which have been decorated in much calmer colours; one for laser removal and the the other for reflexology and beauty treatments:

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You can see the first makeover on the reception and shop area here

Breakfast room planning

Decorating, Inspiration
I am planning to overhaul my breakfast room, which is has a botanical theme, as I have had the palette of colours for so many years that I think it needs an update. The room currently is a pale sage and has lots of botanical prints, flowers and my Portmerion Botanic Garden china.

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Then I saw these amazing botanical prints, I think they will set the tone for a much stronger room if I take them as a starting point:

Botanical-Educational-Plate-Black-Palaquium-Gutta Botanical-Educational-Plate-Black-Olea-europaea-L.

I came across the below by Charlotte Brown at Interior Design It Yourself, and I think it is great advice for what will hopefully be a much more intense look:

interior design botanical prints in a dramatic style with vibrant colors against a black bakground - simply stunning!

This is the perfect interior design with botanical prints look for anyone who loves a sense of drama, deep, velvety-rich walls and vibrant pops of color.

It’s the polar opposite of the previous schemes where we saw the botanical designs set against a pale (white) backdrop – here colorful flower designs are given maximum impact against deepest, darkest black.

Color Essentials

  • Dark background – black is ideal – you could also use darkest gray, plum, navy or bottle green
  • Splashes of ‘wow’ color – fresh (lime) greens, oranges, golds, pinks
  • Lighter touches – small amounts of paler colors are essential to keep the look fresh and not too dark and dreary
  • This is essentially a modern look – ideal for bedrooms, dining rooms, or living rooms.
  • When using darker colors, it’s always best to be aware that the colors will make the room feel darker and smaller, but this can be compensated for (but not for everyone) by your end-result feeling more cozy, warm and also more dramatic.
  • Just like the dining room look, earlier on, this is a great look for evening rooms where the dark colors will end up looking very velvety and luxurious in the dim lights.
  • A cheeky idea for this look is to use it in your smallest room (WC or bathroom)!  Although it goes against the ‘normal’ interior design rules (which try to keep everything nice, spacious, bright, light and airy), such dark and strong colors in tiny rooms can give a very dramatic impact – and a great result! (Plus, if you’re not sure about the impact, you won’t be spending too much time in there, anyhow!)

Essentials for this style

  • Keep backgrounds dark for maximum ‘wow’
  • Use as much botanical pattern as you dare!
  • Mix in vibrant colors, such as upholstery, bedding, curtains – these do not need to be tiny splashes of color – think of a whopper splash that you’d make off the 30ft high diving board – that’s what we’re looking for
  • Use 2 or 3 bright colors together – green, plus red, orange, pink, gold
  • Don’t forget some smaller accents of white or cream – we’ve still got to lighten it up a little to keep it feeling fresh
  • There’s so much going on with the color and pattern you need to keep everything else as simple as possible
  • Use dark or pale furniture, as your scheme requires
  • Very modern, striking look
  • Wow!