a way of life...

Month: January 2015 (Page 1 of 2)

On the shelfie

Design books

For those of us who aren’t into posting “selfies” I rather liked the idea of posting a “shelfie”, especially after reading this headline by Sadie Whitelocks on the Mail Online – ‘The selfie for intellectuals’: Rise of the ‘shelfie’, the geek-chic social media trend to show off your book collection’.

I have a collection of art and craft books that sit, for easy reference, on a painted pine bookshelf in my workspace. One of my favourite books is Tricia Guild’s Painted Country. It is vibrant with colour and texture, and fully embraces elements of home crafts, from painted furniture to the simplest soft furnishings. Tricia Guild, as many of you will know, is the founder of Designers Guild. I bought the book, which was first published in 1994,  from a garage sale relatively recently. Despite time passing, and fashions changing, the book is still a true inspiration for anyone who loves colour.  Visit www.designersguild.com for a range of colourful fabrics and home accessories, or buy a paperback version of Tricia Guild’s Painted Country from http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tricia-Guild/e/B000APOR36/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Last year, after having a new carpet laid on my stairs and landing I decided to rearrange my rather tired collection of reading books. I reinstated my hand forged  Baker’s Rack that had been neglected for a while and sorted through my collection of paperbacks.

Reading books

Favourite and unread paperbacks

The majority of books were taken to a charity shop and just a few favourites, and unread ones, kept. Rather than line them up in a conventional row I decided to sort them into their different colours and arrange them to sit decoratively on the metal rack. The paperbacks were easy to arrange and now sit neatly on the bottom shelf between a pair of wooden bookends.

Collection of blue and greens books

Collection of blues and greens

The remaining books, mostly greens and blues, were an eclectic mix of paperback and hardback novels, family photo albums and some aged reference books. I sorted these into size,  piled them high on the middle shelf of the rack, and topped them off with a vintage toy motorcycle and sidecar.

I love the end result – the Baker’s Rack and books are now a decorative feature rather than a dusty bookshelf full of books that needed dusting down and given a new home.

Home is where the art is…

I wish I had thought of this as a title for my pervious blog, Picture Perfect – part 1, as “Home is where the art is”  is the title of an article written by Kate Spicer, published in today’s Sunday Times’ “Style” supplement, about displaying works of art in a home environment.  Admittedly, it relates to showing fine works of art in a pseudo domestic environment as opposed to my missive about hanging pictures of a contrasting nature in my dining room, nonetheless it pleased me that it is a newsworthy topic.

The article focuses on the Heist gallery which occupies three floors of a roomy townhouse in Fulham.  Dining rooms are themed to house a chosen work of art thus allowing visitors to gain a greater understanding of the artist and to get an idea of how it might look in their own home.

Apparently, the concept of having “home” galleries is not entirely new, although, historically it would have been out of necessity rather than choice.  With the advent of museums in the 19th century have come the white walled galleries that are commonplace today. These more traditional establishments “have come in for criticism of late for being elitist, alienating and outdated”  so maybe this new trend for a more personal space will prove to be more appealing.




Picture Perfect – part one

Dining room picture collection

Contemporary monochrome collection

In a burst of enthusiasm this past week I finally got around to hanging some pictures in our freshly painted dining room. My “LOVE” print by Robert Indiana was a purchase from the MOMA in New York a number of years ago but I note with interest that it is still available to purchase.  Until now I had not regarded it to be of appropriate scale nor style to hang  in the dining room and it had been relegated to the garage!  In a fit of New Year energy and creativity I decided to see how it would look alongside the two farm animal prints that I had bought in San Francisco many moons ago and a very fine pencil drawing of a Cornish alley which had been a gift from a friend who is a very talented artist.  I tried several layouts before plumping for this for this final version, and I must admit I was very pleased with the end result!  I think in this instance the colours, the frames and the overall simplicity of the pictures help the collection hang together.  For more contemporary prints visit www.momastore.org


KLC School of Design

Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour

Christmas lights at the Design Centre

One of the first things I did in 2015 was to reserve a place on a one day course at the KLC School of Design at the Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour. The Colour Rendering course I have enrolled on is one of the many courses that offers advanced specialist training. This is not the first time I have attended KLC for a short course to supplement my formal Interior Design qualification and to aid my continual professional development. As well as CPD courses KLC offers intensive courses in interior design that are accredited, as well as a series of introductory courses. Not only have I found the course standard to be very high but that the school is friendly, professional, and above all a great place to meet similar minded people.  For details of all courses offered by KLC School of Design visit www.klc.co.uk.  Also look out for their special offers as, as I write, they are offering 30% off all 1, 2 and 3 day courses including CAD.

Homespun style

Last weekend I came across a feature in The Mail on Sunday’s You supplement promoting rustic and handcrafted pieces for the kitchen and dining room. The word “homespun” was used in the title which in this instance I took to mean a style that is “simple and homely; unpretentious”. The collections of wooden furniture, colourful china, textured glassware and copper accessories were very pleasing to the eye but I was disappointed to note that they were mostly sourced from large High Street stores or well known on-line shops. Undeniably these convenient outlets play a large part in providing our homes with a vast array of quality home accessories but occasionally it is really pleasing to buy a beautiful handcrafted object that has not been mass produced and adds to the uniqueness of an environment. Maybe not as readily available as those featured, but well worth looking out at craft fairs, farmers’ markets, one-off shops, galleries and exhibitions.

I am a regular visitor to the House & Gardens Spirit of Christmas Fair where many artists sell their wares.  One of my favourites is Beverley Hewitt Designs whose website is  www.beverleyhewittdesigns.co.uk.

Beverley Hewitt fine china

Beverley Hewitt fine china

Another fair I visited for the first time last year was the South Downs Wood Fair and Country Show.  Predominately promoting wood crafts I bought this lovely wooden heart and swag made by www.prettybeautiful.co.uk.  Visit  www.woodlandcrafts.co.uk for up and coming events in 2015.

"Happy Home" wooden heart

“Happy Home” wooden heart

Country heart swag

Country heart swag

Another brilliant source for finding genuine artisans and for championing fledging enterprises is Country Living Magazine. This year they are offering 30 readers the opportunity to sell their homemade items at their free pop-up market at the CL Spring Country Fair on March 18 2015.   Visit their website at www.kitchentabletalent.com to apply for a pitch before February 9 2015.

Is Blue the New Black?

I received an email this week from one of the High Street’s leading brands advising me that “blue is the new black”. This was slightly misleading as the goods they were promoting came in all shades of blue, from the palest baby blue suede to the darkest navy blue patent. It occurred to me, therefore, if it would follow that soft furnishing and paint manufacturers would be championing blue as this season’s colour.

Design Week Spring 2014

Design Week Spring 2014

Last Spring I noted that pink was very much in vogue. It was very prominent when I visited London Design Week and further echoed by Heal’s window display in Guildford. F&B even added a new colour to their extensive paint range called Nancy’s Blushes!


Grey and muted tones have been very popular in recent years and I wonder if these have finally lost their appeal or whether their versatility will ensure continued presence. With the long awaited release of Fifty Shades of Grey, which is due out in cinemas on Valentine’s Day, perhaps this will have some influence! Regardless, I will continue to study the popular press and specialist publications and report any significant trends that emerge as my blog develops over the coming months.

Eclectic style

Eclectic collection

Eclectic is a term often used when commentating on interior design. The dictionary definition is:

1) Selecting or employing individual elements from a variety of sources, systems, or styles

A person who derives ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.

When the term is applied to an interior design scenario I think these definitions sum it up perfectly.  One of the reasons that I regard myself as fitting this description is because I like to collect things to add to my home. This inevitably means that they are collected from different eras but sit comfortably alongside one another. An example of this is my kitchen where I have a set of three TG Green storage jars from the 70’s sharing my kitchen worktop with a 9093 Alessi kettle that is a style icon from the 80’s. Looking at them now it could be said that they share an Art Deco style with regards to the lettering on the jars and the shape of the kettle. To complete the collection is a set of Joules cake tins and coordinating bone china striped mugs which can be found in the current collection of Joules kitchenware at www.joules.com

Over the next few months I look forward to sharing more interior styles along with some ideas on how to create and develop a personal style.


Velvet & Linen cushions

One of my favourite on-line stores is Cox and Cox.  It sells a comprehensive range of home furnishings, gifts and toys.  I particularly like their kids section and have bought several items for the boys in my family over the years and specified into schemes as well.  More recently I have invested in six of these lovely linen backed velvet cushions for my living room.  The scheme I had developed over time was a mixture of greyish-greens, dark pinks and vintage mauves highlighted with a splash of Farrow & Ball Churlish Green paint on one of the walls.  I felt that the colours, and luxuriously soft texture of these cushions, added a subtle cohesion to the overall look and feel of the room to the point that a Christmas house guest actually asked if I had redecorated! You can find Cox and Cox at www.coxandcox.co.uk IMG_0955

Quirky elegance

Anyone who knows me well will know that one of my favourite High Street stores at the moment is Anthropologie.  It offers a vast range of both clothing and homewares.  Currently holding an on-line and in-store Sale one of the more quirky items that caught my eye was this hand crafted brass magnifying glass now reduced from £48 to £24.95.

Hand crafted magnifying glasses

Hand crafted magnifying glasses

Christmas clear-up

Christmas dresserI’m sure some people love it and some people hate it but it is a fact of life that the Christmas decorations have to be put away for another year.  On the bright side this means the days are getting longer and the bulbs are starting to push through the soil – a sure sign that spring is on its way.  This morning, before dismantling the tree and packing up the baubles, I have taken a photographic record of the decorative elements that I was particularly pleased with.  This doesn’t mean that the same format will necessarily be used next year but it will act as a reminder of some of the more pleasing aspects of my festive decor and will save a little bit of time when the boxes are brought down from the loft next  year and I don’t know where to start!  This year I’ve decided to “declutter” my collection of decorations that have not seen the light of day for a number of years now.  I’m not sure that I will be venturing to the Tip today as I imagine it will be busy with Christmas tree disposals but I will sort through my various bits and pieces and dispose of them as responsibly as possible.  Most will probably go to a charity shop whereas any electrical items will most likely have to go to the local amenity dump where they can be recycled in an environmentally friendly fashion.  The items that I love, and that will inevitably spend the best part of the year in the loft, will be carefully wrapped in tissue paper and boxed according to colour.  Purple baublesNow is a good time to be adding to, or replacing broken items, as many of the shops are selling them at greatly reduced prices.  I noticed that Heal’s had reduced some of their more elaborate baubles by 70%!

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