This past week has been the industry hotbed that is Clerkenwell Design Week. I spent a day perusing the offerings, and some of these products caught my eye:
The lighting show was held in Fabric nightclub, which meant that they could be displayed brilliantly. There were a lot of ‘repeat’ concrete shades around, but a few designs stood out:
This beautiful light by Lomas Furniture has a shade of pierced ceramic and looks like the moon…
More lighting which caught my eye came from Pad Home. This was totally organic in shape, made from cardboard and reminded me of large wasps nests (in a beautiful way)…
I found some gorgeous surface textures at Solus, some were slate with what looked like lasered patterns on them:
They also had gorgeous 3D hexagonal tiles, and can supply simple ones in a huge range of colours.
The highlight of my visit was finding this sink, however the price tag is eye watering .. it is the Brockway by KOHLER.
It comes as 1/2 or 3 tap sizes, and reminds me of a cattle trough. Prices in the UK where I can find it are £2K plus, so maybe not for now… I am devastated! Maybe I can convert a real cattle trough instead?
I also saw this beautiful building in Clerkenwell, it looks like Fred Flintstone built it with rough hewn stone frontage in areas. Absolutely smitten!
A couple of weeks ago I was up really early doing an MOT on the car, and I had to wait a while for them to do it, so I went for a walk around my town. There is a furniture junk shop, which occasionally has some OK bits in it, and I meandered in for a nosey. At the back of the room, on its own was a chair. Not just any chair, but a Chinese Chippendale one.
For those that follow the blog, you may remember my lustings for a set of Jonathan Adler Chippendale chairs. I managed to find a set of similar style bamboo chairs when I revamped my dining room and gave them a makeover, you can read about it here. Whilst they are lovely, they are quite large and not totally the real thing. The real ones are wood carved to look like bamboo with grooves and notches.
But this morning, this was the real thing. It is made in solid carved maple with a very girly upholstered seat, and I think it is late 20th century. Incredibly well made and sturdy, and the shape was totally the one it should be.
The man in the shop told me it had come from a very smart house in a very smart village nearby. And I could have it for £15. I kept a straight face and asked him to set it aside. He then mentioned there had been another 5 but they had already been sold individually…. GAH! I could have wept, but never mind I still got one at least. I then skipped off to collect my car, and didn’t even mind that it had failed the MOT and needed new tyres. As I waited to get the car fixed I was already scheming on what to do with my new chair when I got it home.
So here it is on its arrival home. It is very 80’s looking in colour and fabric. So straight away I removed the seat and stripped it back. Underneath is another fabric nasty, but I will leave it as a base for new upholstery.
Colours for upholstery
Previously I did my dining room chair versions painted white with groovy Thibault orange, orange and green irate fabric and cut velvet cushions. But this new chair needs to be moved around the house, where colours are darker and more traditional. It will probably start off in the sitting room. I am having an armchair upholstered at the moment for the same room in a large scale raised velvet damask and velvet, so I have some spare fabric available. The colours are spiced orange and neutral taupe. Thus it makes sense to use some of it on the chair as it will live in the same room.
Colours for the wood
Again, I don’t want it to look like the dining room chairs, although these chairs do look great in crisp white or a zingy bright colour. I have a few pieces of painted dark charcoal furniture which I really like so I decided to do a modern take on an ebonised Chinese chair.
And so, out comes the trusty Annie Sloan chalk paint. I have a pot of Graphite which is like the magic porridge pot in the fairytale.. It just keeps coming and never runs out.
A good sand was done all over first, as although chalk paint doesn’t really need it, this chair will get used a lot, so key areas that will be handled such as the armrests need to be have the paint really well attached.
A wipe down, and coat number one was put on, diluted 20% with water to get a smooth finish.
This paint dries very fast and looks very matt and chalky. After a couple of hours it was bone dry so I applied another coat which was not so diluted. Once that was dry, I applied Annie Sloan clear wax all over the painted areas with a brush so I could get it into all the nooks and crannies.
Once that it done it is buffing time. This is where you can chose how much lustre you want with the finish. I use a simple J-Cloth and polish away. You can almost feel the wax harden as you go. Once polished, leave it to harden more overnight.
Reupholstering a drop-in seat
This is where staple guns are the most amazing invention. I simply cut a square of fabric about 3″ larger than the seat pad, and made sure the design was centred on the fabric that will become the cover. Then you place that face down on your working surface, put the seat upside down on top and start pulling the fabric over and stapling it. I always start on each corner first with a holding staple and work diagonally so the fabric is pulled tight. Do the sides first and leave the folding corners until last
When you get to do the folded corners, its a bit like doing a hospital bed sheet. My seat had a shaped corner to the front so it was a little tricky, but you can always undo the staples if you are not happy until you get the neat edge you want. Pull it really tight as you staple. You need to get the seat to drop back into the chair frame so it cannot be too bulky.
The finished chair
Here she is… the whole project took a weekend, and out of that only about 6 hours was working on it. Much of the other time was waiting for the paint and wax to dry, interspersed with some Netflix box set bingeing…. I love it, and when I get bored with it , it will be really easy to repaint and re-upholster. Long live junk shops!
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:
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?
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.
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.
You can also apply this principle to a gallery wall.
Plaster and Gold Leaf Feathers
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.
Today I have been looking back at last years blogging, sometimes done a bit intermittently I must admit, and noticed that the most popular posts always seem to be the DIY ones, so here is a round up of the ones that still get the most hits, and I only hope that as a result there are many Ikea hacks, Plaster Flowers and No-sew curtain pelmets floating out there now! More DIY ideas coming soon as I tackle a spare bedroom in the coming months.
Click on the photos to take you to the posts and tutorials…
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.
This is my earlier bamboo chair makeover
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.
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.
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.
Until 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.