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Category: Trends (page 1 of 5)


My mum arrived at my house this week to stay for the Easter break. On walking in the dining room she exclaimed “show off”!

Of course, being my mum, I couldn’t argue with her and it is perfectly true that I have followed the trend for “showing off” my colourful array of alcoholic beverages.

Show off!

I’m not entirely sure when if first became fashionable to have a drinks cabinet or trolley.

Ironically, my parents did indeed have a trolley in the 1970’s, and I was reminded of this when I recently stumbled across it in their loft.

Similar in style to the one below (although not quite as glam) it was home to the go-to drinks of that era; Babycham, Advocat, and Cinzano Martini.

Coach House drinks trolley

I suspect the trend for these fabulously showy items of furniture started long before my parents’ days. In my mind these images conjure up bygone days of the roaring 20’s and fabulous cruise liners.

A good friend of mine has actually inherited her parents’ cocktail books which date back to pre-war days.

I love this circular art deco style. The mirrored shelves add a reflective quality to the glitzy display.

Julian Chichester offers a more masculine style trolley. With its solid dark wood frame it looks like it means business.


Of course it’s not just these items of furniture that have once again become fashionable but the drinks that adorn them too.

Gin has made a serious come back and gin cocktails appear to have taken over from the much loved Aperol Spritz.

Many independent distilleries have appeared in recent times and offer a vast selection of colours and flavours.

Sherlock & Sons

Only recently I attended a gin tasting evening hosted by my favourite off licence in Burpham on the outskirts of the Surrey Hills. Here we sampled gins distilled by Simon Sherlock who has a small distillery in Ripley, Surrey.

Sherlock & Sons Valentine gin

Without doubt my favourite was the limited edition Valentine gin which changed colour from blue to pink once tonic was added.

Funnily enough my new found fondness for this botanical delight has lead to me trying a variety of tonic waters and as a consequence I often choose these over an alcoholic drink.

Presented in a gin glass, with the addition of fresh orange slices, juniper berries and ice cubes, Fever Trees’ pink aromatic tonic is currently my favourite guilt free tipple. It is sugar free, refreshing, and 100ml contains a mere 25 calories.

Turnell & Gigon

If my mum thinks my modest display of bottles and glasses is a little pretentious I’m not entirely sure what she would make of this Great Gatsby inspired bar at Turnell & Gigon.

Complete with ostrich feathers and the finest champagne I think it she might describe it as a little ostentatious.

In the same room-set at Turnell & Gigon this sleek trolley was prominently displayed in the showroom window.

I can’t help but think that the drinks’ trolley is merely a passing phase. A drinks cabinet might provide a more permanent place for one’s home bar.

I photographed the one above in a bar in Amsterdam. It has the air of a much more classy piece of furniture which could be adapted for use in a domestic situation.

Chin chin!

Faux Fever

This stunning flower arrangement was the centrepiece at Tunsgate, Guildford this week and it inspired me to write this blog about faux flowers and house plants.

With the emergence of plants being a decorative addition to the home many high street and on-line stores have a wide selection of artificial flowers and house plants.OKA, in Guildford, is a good example as they have some of the most lavish displays. For example these gorgeous magnolia boughs (above) and these enormous white hydrangeas mixed with lambs ear leaves (below). 
On a more modest scale Marks & Spencer have a comprehensive range of “evergreen” house plants and flowers. 

One of my favourite high street and on-line stores, Neptune, use faux foliage blended with real flowers for dramatic effect in their room settings.

This is a trick that can easily employed in one’s own home changing displays to match the season.

Anyone who reads my blog regularly will know that I enjoy growing and cutting my own blooms for indoor decoration. That said, I too have permanent arrangements of realistic looking silk flowers to add colour and texture all year round.

This permanent mix of cornflowers, lavender and scabious adorn a dressing table whilst the freshly cut blue hyacinths add an evocative scent in the spring.

Gazebo Makeover

Now that summer is in full swing I decided it was time for a gazebo makeover. Having endured the Beast from the East, heavy snowfall, and howling gales, the gazebo’s canopy was looking a little worse for wear.

Fortunately, good quality replacements are readily available on-line and, as long as you know what size to order, a brand new cover arrives in no time at all.

Removing the old cover took little effort and whilst the frame was stripped bare I took this opportunity to remove the old decorations and replace with new. 

Using two strings of fairy lights that I bought from Tiger, and two more strings of coloured solar bulbs that I bought from Sainsbury’s Home , I set about illuminating this idyllic garden shelter.

With the new canopy securely in place, swags of orange, purple, green, yellow, and pink miniature lampshades decorated the inner surface, whilst festoons of tiny pastel bulbs lit up the outer edges.

With the lighting complete I wanted to add more volume to the ornamentation.

Inspired by a wedding scene in a recent TV drama I scoured the internet for some paper lanterns. I was delighted to find on Ebay a pack of 12 honeycomb balls in varying sizes and colours that matched my summer scheme perfectly.

Arriving as flat packed semi-circles made of tissue paper and card they were quickly assembled and held together with pre-applied double-sided sticky tape.

What could be easier!

The next step was to hang them inside the canopy. To do this I used varying lengths of strong, virtually invisible fishing line.

I was delighted with the outcome.

Alfresco dining has now reached a new level in our household as, regardless of whether we’re sitting out in the blistering heat of the midday sun or under a cooler, starlit sky, every meal is a celebration.

Happy days!

Italian Inspiration

Lake Iseo

Whilst strolling along the shores of Lake Iseo in April I was struck by the decorating detail applied to the exterior of the lakeside homes.

The one below was the first to catch my attention with its perfectly symmetrical fleur de lys symbols. It was so neat that it looked as though the facade had been wallpapered.

To complete the perfectly executed design an elaborate frieze had been applied just below the rooftop.

As my walk progressed I realised that this house was not a one-off; in fact the more I wandered the more I realised that this attention to external decoration was the norm rather than the exception.

Above, this lemon walled house with turquoise shutters was elaborately decorated with two different friezes, one below the rooftop as before, and one at first floor level – both different in design.

Across the road this imposing three storey abode in pastel pink with chocolate brown shutters again boasted an elaborate lattice detail frieze.

The house next door to our accommodation was in the middle of a major refurb which looked as though it was nearing completion. With its formal gardens, uncompromising perimeter fencing, and stunning temple-like roof its appearance was extremely foreboding.

The cream painted walls were the perfect backdrop for the grey-green shutters and delicately detailed frieze.

The house on the other side, although less grandiose, displayed a similar sense of pride in its exterior decoration. On each window ledge a bright red geranium sung out from the pared back colour scheme.

Casa Salini, our holiday home, was unique in its own right. Nestling alongside Lake Iseo it did not have a roadside aspect. Instead it was accessed via a gated garden to one side of the building.

The entrance was modest and led to a two storey flight of stairs. It was only as we ascended the staircase that we noticed the framed Sting poster with a used concert ticket tucked into the corner and as we arrived on the landing we clocked a multitude of house plants in handcrafted pots.

Stepping into the inner sanctum of the first floor it became even more apparent that the owner had a keen eye for detail.

Book shelves cleverly curated with an assortment of books and miscellany covered one of the walls whilst works of art were displayed above doors and tables.

I particularly liked the fact that each of the doors, leading to each of the guest rooms from the hallway, were painted a different colour.

Red, teal…


….and green.

This striking combination added colour and interest to this welcoming space.

As well as the guest rooms the visitors’ lounge could be accessed from this area.

Here again, immense attention to detail had been applied to the furnishing of this room.

The natural light flooding in through the picture windows played a major part in emphasising the reflective qualities of the picture frames and glazed surfaces.

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London Design Week 2018

There is more to London Design Week than meets the eye and it is the reason I return each year.

An important element of London Design Week is “Access All Areas” which incorporates a number of showrooms outwith the Chelsea Harbour complex. This year, my first port of call was Osborne & Little on the Kings Road, to view the cake, and to do a little research….

Standing six feet tall, and constructed from O&L’s iconic fabrics, the cake had been made to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

Birthday cake

Aside from the cake, the showroom paid homage to Osborne & Little’s heritage with an exhibition of archive designs. I was thrilled to find an original pattern book that contained a hand printed paper that I had used to wallpaper the walls of my sitting room back in the early 80’s. It made a huge impact on me at the time as, until then, I had been living  with my parent’s painted anaglypta!

Osborne & Little archive print

Chelsea Harbour opened its doors to London Design Week 2018 at 10 o’clock on Sunday morning. Anxious to spend a full day absorbing the atmosphere and embracing the event I rocked up in time to attend the first Conversation In Design Event.

London Design Week isn’t just about the showrooms and their products but, as much, if not more so, about the glitterati of interior designers who put in an appearance at the show. Whether it be in person, or as part of a collaboration that put the amazing 2018 Legends window displays together, they were there in force.

Having done my homework prior to my arrival I headed up to the Design Club on the Third Floor of the South Dome to listen to words of wisdom spoken by Sir Peter Osborne, co-founding partner of Osborne & Little.

Interviewed by Deborah Barker, Editor in Chief of Homes & Gardens, he spoke candidly of his 50 years working alongside Antony Little. He happily answered questions raised by his attentive audience and even offered fatherly advice to a new generation of designers.

I was surprised to learn that his background was in banking, rather than design, and has therefore shaped the commercial side of the business. His sage advice was to start your own business as it can be very rewarding but, that said, he added that watching the cashflow is key to success.

Sir Peter Osborne in conversation with Deborah Barker

Also present at the event was legendary designer Paolo Moschino.

As another commercially astute man he had taken a brand and made it his own. His Nicholas Haslam showroom was the first stop on the afternoon’s Design Discovery Tour that I had joined to gain insider knowledge! Exuding charm and charisma Mr. Moschino hosted an impromptu Q&A session with our entranced group.

His secret to success …. make it commercial.


Another interesting venue on the Design Discovery Tour was the showroom of McKinney & Co where we viewed an extraordinary collection of curtain poles, finials, pelmets, coronas, tie-backs, door knobs, hooks, and handrails.

I was particularly taken with the transparent poles that were filled with everything from tiny white teddy bears to feathery down. I could imagine these being used in a nursery to create a gorgeous whimsical effect.  Add to them  The Gainsborough Silk Weaving Company’s “The Bunny Gets It” range of fabrics and you would have a child’s room fit for royalty.

McKinney & Co

During a brief break from organised events I took the opportunity to walk the show.

Attracted by the floral arrangement in the window of  Sutherland Perennials Studio I dropped in to take a closer look at the colourful range of fabrics on display.

Window Display by Phillip Corps Exquisite Flowers

I learned that these are 100% solution-dyed acrylics which are high-performance luxury fabrics which can be used outside as well as inside. Technically superior, the fabrics are fade resistant, mildew- and mold-resistant, bleach cleanable and easily maintained.

Kelly-Anne Bailey

Kelly-Anne Bailey took time to demonstrate the ease with which a red wine stain could be removed from a Perennials fabric with a regular household cleaning agent.

Perennials Fabric topiary tree

I was particularly struck by the topiary trees constructed from a selection of Perennials’ luxury fabrics which include prints, wovens, jacquards and velvets.

One of the most informative and popular Access All Areas events was held at the Evitavonni showroom on the Second Floor of the South Dome.  Here a panel of experts, moderated by Sophia Salaman of the World of Interiors, discussed how to find inspiration to enable themselves, as designers, to evolve and grow.

One of the most encouraging tips I took on board was to collect and catalogue images that personally inspire me. With today’s smart phone technology that is a no-brainer, but personally, I still like to collect magazine clippings and fabric swatches for my own use.

Sophia Salaman of the World of Interiors moderates

Leaving the show a little before closing time I felt uplifted and motivated and, I can honestly say that it wasn’t due to the endless glasses of champagne on offer as, on this occasion, I had chosen to drive and park at the harbour!

If time allows, I would certainly like to revisit the show before it ends on Friday as notable names such as Kit Kemp MBE and Lord Snowdon will be in attendance.

For more information about previous LDW’s visit my blogs at:

The Perfect Knob

The perfect knob can elevate an ordinary piece of furniture to the extraordinary!

Painted and waxed bedside cabinets

My recent experimentation with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ was to transform two bedside cabinets. Using two completely different techniques I managed to obtain two quite different looks.

Ikea unit prior to painting

The first cabinet I set about transforming was a small Ikea unit which I had been given some time ago. I had been using it in my studio to store a collection of magazines which I never seemed to have time to read. Inspired by a project in the Annie Sloan Quick and Easy Paint Transformations book I decided it was time to recycle the unread journals and give the cabinet a new lease of life.

Masked a painted with first coat of Giverny blue

The first obstacle I encountered was that the colour used in the book, Monet Blue, was no longer available. Not to be deterred I chose to substitute it with Giverny Blue, a bright, cheery, clean, cool blue, which I would later tone down with the application of dark wax.

Second coat of Giverny blue applied thickly

To achieve the desired finish it was necessary to apply two thick, unevenly applied coats. I was hoping that one small 100ml pot would suffice, but as the paint has to provide a textured surface for the wax to stay in, I quickly realised that it would be necessary to buy a second 100ml pot. Once applied, I left the second coat to dry thoroughly overnight.

The next morning I applied the dark wax with a brush and wiped off the surplus. Any areas where the wax was too dark I removed it with an application of clear wax before it dried.

Dark wax applied and new knobs added

The final transformation to this cute little cupboard was the addition of these colourful knobs. I had picked them up in a closing down sale and had kept them in stock awaiting the perfect opportunity to make use of them.

Graphite paint and black wax

The second cabinet was a small pine cabinet which was being used to store stationery in my study. It looked perfectly at home with the other pine furniture but, once again, I decided it was time for a complete transformation.

Using Annie Sloan Graphite Chalk Paint™ I applied it in a way that would create a smooth finish. This time one coat did suffice, but I was careful not to apply it too thickly, and to brush out the brush strokes to get as smooth a finish as possible.

Once the paint was completely dry I applied a coat of black wax. This had the effect of darkening the graphite to a lovely rich black and to provide a protective sheen.

Once I put it back in the study it inspired me to upcycle the other pieces of pine furniture in a similar style. Time allowing, I hope to have these pieces finished during the course of the summer months. Wish me luck with that!

Discovery Trail

Notebook and camera in hand I eagerly joined the Discovery Trail at DCCH on the last day of London Design Week.  Hosted by Ben Spriggs, deputy editor of Elle Decoration, the trail would take in some of the biggest names in the industry.

GP & J Baker

Our first stop was at GP & J Baker where we were introduced to Threads, a range of soft, gentle, urban coloured fabrics in velvet, jacquard weaves, and sheers. Next we were introduced to Baker, a collection of fabrics with a royal influence. Images of royal palaces, courtiers waistcoats, and Hampton Chimneys were just some of the designs that adorned these heritage prints.

Zimmer + Rohde

Moving on, our next port of call was Zimmer + Rhode. Here we viewed an extraordinary range of contemporary fabrics and wallpapers; deconstructed florals, raffia weaves, and fifty-seven different coloured silks.

From here we were lead, crocodile style, to Poliform to view their chic, modern, Italian designed Mondrian furniture. The expansive modular sofa sat in perfect harmony with the dark wood and marble Cosmos tables. The whole set was lit by stunning sculptural ceiling pendants.

Larsons at Colefax and Fowler

At Colefax and Fowler we were given a curated tour of their two new collections; Larsons and Manuel Canovas. The first, a collection of cool colours inspired by nature contrasted sharply to the second, which was a riot of exotic colour combinations inspired by countries linked by the Silk Road.

Manuel Canovas at Colefax and Fowler

Front was our next on the trail where we viewed their latest range of flooring which was a collection of rugs with patterns based on those of men’s suits; imagine large scale herringbones and tweeds in soft muted colours.

Soho Home at Turnell & Gigon

To round off the Discovery Trail we made our way to Turnell & Gigon where we were immersed by the eclectic British style synonymous with Soho House. Soho Home is a range of fabric, furniture, and accessories, based on the Soho House brand.

Soho Home tie-backs

Blush pink, greys, and teals, dominated this range of luxurious soft furnishings. Tie-backs, trimmings, and fabric wall-coverings were especially striking.

Soho Home fabrics

Laden with gift bags from each of our stops, and dizzy from champagne, I reluctantly said my goodbyes and thankyous and awaited my lift home.

Postscript: Soho Home has opened its first retail space at Liberty London.

Mid-Century Madness

After scraping ice from the windscreen of my car I left home at 6.30am on Tuesday to visit the Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton Park. Despite the chill the market was buzzing with visitors and traders alike on this bright, sunny morning. After an initial recce it was time to grab a bite to eat and a hot drink to thaw our freezing hands. It quickly became apparent that the current trend for mid-century furniture and artefacts is alive and kicking.

Cheese and ham toastie

Not beautiful by any stretch of the imagination, but immediately recognisable as a particular moment in time, comprising of curvaceous shapes, colours, and textures, of a bygone era.

Mid-century sitting room

Psychedelic patterns and conical shaped lampshades, synonymous with this period, were also available to buy.

Conical lampshades

….as were these colourful jugs and vases reminiscent of the 1970’s.

Brightly coloured china and leather chairs

Amongst the abundance of leather chairs these two upholstered chairs caught my eye with their lime green cushions contrasting with their dark wood frames.

Matching chairs

This folding picnic table reminded me of the days when my family had a collection of Formica occasional tables in all shapes, colours, and sizes.

Picnic table

To get your fix of mid-century madness why not pop along to Kempton Park at the crack of dawn on the second or last Tuesday of the month when you’ll find the market in full swing.

London Design Festival 2016

Historic Syon House grounds

Historic Syon House grounds

Decorex 2016 opened this year’s London Design Festival. Driving to the historic Syon House on a still, warm, autumnal day was not a hardship. Spread across two enormous marquees the show was extremely easy to navigate, and I still had enough time to enjoy the excellent selection of eateries, which ranged from street food stalls to the 1508 designed champagne bar.

Bluebell Grey wallpaper adorning the walls of the café

BluebellGray wallpaper adorning the walls of the show’s café

The recurring theme for the Decorex exhibition, now celebrating 10 years, was the roots of design. 400 exhibitors, some new, some well known, were highlighting their latest work.  Visitors could also attend a variety of seminars and enjoy curated talks.

A place to meet like minded people

A place to meet like minded people

More than anything the London Design Festival is a place to meet like minded people and to view shiny new products and to observe new trends.

ottoline wallpaper and fabric

ottoline wallpaper and fabric

Colourful wallpapers and fabrics were very much in abundance. I loved the SWINGING collection exhibited by ottoline which comprises six designs inspired by work of some of the best pop artists including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and David Hockney.

BluebellGray's first wallpaper collection

BluebellGray’s first wallpaper collection

BluebellGray were also taking this opportunity to display their stunning new wallpaper collection. With a strap line “spreading happiness and colour” to their brand; what could be more appropriate.

Exquisite collections from far and wide

Exquisite collections from far and wide

Many stands displayed exquisite collections from home and abroad; again adding colour and vibrancy to this amazing event.

Cotswold collection

Cotswold collection

I felt privileged to be in attendance on the very first day of this year’s London Design Festival which includes London Fashion Week. Many events are open to the public as well as the trade and I would highly recommend a visit.  For more details visit London Design Festival.

Autumn/Winter Seasonal Trends

As the summer holidays draw to a close the High Street is anticipating the autumn/winter season. Their brand new catalogues have been landing on doorsteps whilst their customers have been sunning themselves on sandy beaches in faraway destinations.IMG_7612

Marks & Spencer have gone a step further offering big savings on home accessories, and even bigger ones on furniture during their seasonal Home Event which is on in store and on-line at the moment. Laura Ashley are also offering 30% off everything until Monday, August 29th.

Common colour schemes are being promoted by many of the High Street retailers but each one using a different design concept. From the M&S contemporary loft collection, to Laura Ashley’s Arts & Crafts interpretation, to Next’s cosy Norway offering – pinks, mauves, and purples abound.


There is also a strong woodland theme being promoted by M&S, and also by design house, Designers Guild. Beautiful birds and cute creatures adorn crockery collections, home furnishing fabrics, and a whole host of cushions. These gorgeous illustrations below are part of the new season at M&S and more botanical illustrations can be found at Designers Guild in their AW2016 range.IMG_7552

To bring these seasonal colours and textures into my own home I filled storm lamps with autumn leaves as they have fallen from my apple tree. Varying hues of bright green/yellow through to the darkest green/brown fill these etched glass vestibules in my sitting room. IMG_7812

So for all of us enjoying our homes this weekend, rather than basking on a beach, there is no better time to shop the High Street for some seasonal bargains, or just to window shop the new season’s trends.

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