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Are You Going To Albury Fair?

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme…

I couldn’t help but think of the opening lyrics of the famous Simon & Garfunkel ballad, Are You Going To Scarborough Fair?, as I wandered around Albury Heath yesterday afternoon on what seems to have been the first proper day of summer this year.  It’s not the first time I’ve visited the Albury Produce Show and on each occasion I have been really impressed. Held on the Cricket Ground in the middle of July each year it has something for everyone.

Plants

Plants

Children were entertained on the roller coaster which consisted of a child’s slide, welded metal pipes, and a plastic tray on wheels manually operated by two conscientious gentlemen who ensured each participant had a safe but exhilarating joy ride.

There was terrier racing for dogs of all breeds and sizes. They chased a mock “hare” that  raced back and forth along the course. Mayhem ensued as the dogs leapt back and forth trying to catch the toy.

Vintage cowboy

Vintage cowboy spectator

Booty

Booty bag

Vintage

Vintage

An array of stalls sold plants and produce, bric-a-brac and vintage wares.

Stuff

Stuff

In the show tent there were flower arrangements, and vegetable competitions, alongside beautifully crafted exhibits and photographic artworks.

Knitted wedding cake

Knitted wedding cake

Knitted Gardener

Knitted Gardener

Steamer

Steamer

Photograhic competition

Photograhic competition

There was tombola and hoopla, football and egg throwing, and an array of other challenges to keep the young and old amused.

Catering stalls offered hotdogs and burgers, tea and cakes, ice-cream and candy floss as well as Pimms by the glass.

In the background a hog was being roasted on a spit in anticipation of the evening barn dance which would be followed on Sunday by the Albury music festival.

Not wishing to come home empty handed I couldn’t resist a framed papier maché dung beetle made by a local artist. With its gorgeous pearlescent body and bright yellow eyes the Ignotus Scarabeus will sit proudly on my mantlepiece. Despite there being a full complement of parsley, sage rosemary, and thyme, I was only tempted by a catering size tomato tin that was home to a rosemary plant which now looks very much an integral part of my kitchen garden.

Papier maché beetle

Papier maché beetle

Rosemary

Rosemary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Save the date for next year’s show. You won’t be disappointed!

 

Superyacht Design Week 2016

Expert Panel

Expert Panel

On Day 2 of Superyacht Design Week I had the privilege of sitting in on a Q&A session hosted by Crestron at their experience centre situated on the second floor of the Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour. Making up the panel were three of the marine industry’s leading technology experts; Patrick Coote of Blohm+Voss; Neil Grant of  Harris Grant; and Ameet Sarvaiya of Van Berge Henegouwen. Paddy Baker, Editor of Installation Magazine moderated.

The session,  DESIGNING WITH PEACE OF MIND, raised the question  “When building a superyacht, what security challenges do we need to consider?”The experts were asked to discuss the options available to designers, shipyards, owners and crew, as well as technological advancements in the market.”

I quickly learnt that the superyacht owner’s greatest fear is that of unwelcome intruders making their way on board. Patrick Coote was quick to demonstrate, with a series of images, that the shape of the hull can itself act as a significant deterrent. Particular attention is also paid to the shape, position and operation of the transom doors as well as that of the swim platforms.

As well as physical intruders a member of the audience raised the owner’s fear of cyber attacks and the hacking of on-board networks. Neil Grant said that the IT systems Harris Grant design and install are of the highest standard, are robust, and are stringently tested and monitored. Aside from the IT network HG also install CCTV and comms as part and parcel of the on-board security system.

Asked about the challenges of working in such a demanding industry Neil explained the complexities of streaming live broadcasts to a vessel that could be anywhere in the world. As part of their remit as system integrators, HG have to provide seamless audio visual facilities throughout the vessel, be it to the crew mess or the owner’s private suite, and they have to be operational 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.

Another question from the floor asked at what stage of a superyacht build would a company such as HG or VBH need to be appointed. There was a reverberating response of “not soon enough”. The very infrastructure on which every item of hardware has to hang needs to be included in the design from the very outset. A combination of space limitations and Lloyds codes require the correct cables to be specified, installed, future proofed, and terminated prior to areas being closed off, which means that the final design needs to be agreed very early on.

This timescale also impacts on the positioning of the hardware as much of it is required to be hidden away. Discerning owner’s do not want to see racks of equipment or bulky screens and loudspeakers, and as such these are often built into exquisitely made bespoke pieces of furniture. Screens rise and fall on near silent motorised lifts and hoists, while centralised racks of equipment disappear into temperature controlled voids or cupboards.

As such these industry experts often work hand in hand with a naval architect and interior designer. This combination of skills ensures that the client benefits from the best possible on-board experience; aesthetically, technologically, and securely, giving him the utmost peace of mind.

Birthday Treat

Magnolia is not a word that you will hear at a presentation by F&B colourist Joa Studholme.  What you would hear though is a brilliantly comprehensive talk based on Joa’s twenty year’s with Farrow & Ball and her enthusiasm for colour and how to use it successfully.

As a birthday treat I was lucky enough to be invited to a talk hosted by Great Fosters‘ dining club yesterday lunchtime. Set amongst fifty acres of Surrey parkland this Grade 1 listed building was the perfect setting for this informal event.

The talk commenced with an introduction to a series of neutral colour groups. The first group, Traditional Neutrals, is exactly what they say on the tin. These were some of the earliest colours formulated by F&B for mainly historic properties. The underlying tone is green.

Yellow Based Neutrals and Red Based Neutrals are again some of the original formulations but have a slightly warmer tone than the green based ones.

The next three groups are the more modern colours which are more sympathetic to contemporary surroundings.

Farrow & Ball neutral groups

Farrow & Ball neutral groups

When presented with so much choice it is often difficult to choose a colour, or combination of colours, that will work in a particular space. Joa was keen to undo some of the mystic that seems to arrive with a colour chart.  Her overwhelming enthusiasm and hands-on experience is a brilliant source of knowledge and one of the first aspects to consider when decorating is how an area is lit. So often a colour will look completely different whether it is in a north, south, east or west facing room, or even in natural or artificial light. Her advice, and something I’m sure many of us do as a matter of course, is to sample the paint of your choice in the room where it is intended to be used. This doesn’t necessarily mean painting it on to the wall but better on an item that can be moved around to different parts of the room. I usually use a piece of lining paper so that I can paint a reasonably sized sample and move it from place to place and see how it looks in different lights and with different elements in the room.

Again, to dispel some of the mystery Joa had compiled each set of neutrals from colours that would work well together. Regardless, of whether they were in the same room or as part of an overall scheme, success would be assured if the essence of the group remained constant. Having studied colour and decoration myself for a number of years I fully appreciate this discipline but also love the evolvement of this idea as promoted by F&B.

Joa showed photographs of historic houses where, traditionally, a room would be painted with one colour. Walls, skirting, doors, window frames, architraves, picture and dado rails, would all be finished in the same way. And it worked. Like all good design this type of scheme is experiencing a revival and coming back into fashion. During the talk our conventional way of thinking was turned on its head when we were shown schemes where white woodwork and dark walls had been reversed. There were also tiny rooms with no natural light that were painted from top to toe in the deepest darkest tones, and in contrast brightly lit spaces that were painted completely white. Joa’s advice – don’t fight nature. If a room is dark and gloomy then run with that and make a feature of it. If it is bright and light then make that a feature of that too rather than try and turn it into something that it’s not meant to be. There were far too many ideas and inspirations to mention here but these can be found in a new book, How to Decorate by Farrow & Ball, which was co-written by Joa Studholme.

Farrow & Ball future trends

Farrow & Ball future trends

It is always good to attend an event such as this as so much information can be gleaned especially with regards to future trends.  Going forward Joa was of the opinion that greys are making way for a warmer palette of pinks, reds and browns. I think this is probably driven by the mid-century/70’s revival that has been growing in pace and is a style that is becoming more and more evident in hotels and on the High Street. For examples of this refer to my recent blogs Penchant for Pink, FCUK Home Arrives in Guildford, and Hoxton Hotel Amsterdam.

FCUK Home arrives in Guildford

A midday stroll around sunny Guildford revealed a new addition to one of my favourite High Street boutiques. French Connection, which, until last weekend focused purely on clothing and accessories, now has a small homeware section.

FCUK Home Guildford

French Connection Home Guildford

Its clean lines and minimalist style is very much in keeping with FCUK’s image. In the French Connection Home Spring/Summer 2016 catalogue an eclectic range of furnishings is grouped under headings such as Modern Industrial and Undone Elegance which I feel are valid descriptions. I think there is also an African influence which manifests itself in the geometric patterned rugs, the oversized clay bowls, and the rich dark wood furnishings.

Eclectic Edit

French Connection Eclectic Edit

Very much a low key feel with rugs in muted shades, distressed leather chairs, and antique copper pendants.

FCUK rugs in muted shades

French Connection rugs in muted shades

Parquet console tables and coffe tables exhibit an array of modern accessories. Pots and bowls made from marble/soap stone, hammered metal, and clay, and table lamps made from glass, metal and stone.

Mirrors in all shapes and sizes adorn the walls.

Room with a view

French Connection mirrors and accessories

These stylish furnishings would look equally at home in an office, residence, or even a hotel lobby. The overall styling reminded me very much of the lobby at the Hoxton Hotel, Amsterdam, which I had visited earlier in the year.

To get the look FCUK has a handful of High Street Homeware stores, located in London, Newcastle and, of course,  Guildford. FCUK Home also has an on-line presence at www.frenchconnections.com/homeware.  Their range of sofas can be seen in selected DFS stores or at www.dfs.co.uk.

From Shabby To Chic

Before

Before

When I bought my first home I inherited a Mr. Toad wicker chair which I absolutely adored. Many years later I still have a fondness for wicker furniture and have an assortment of pieces. Not that long ago I was asked to renovate a very sad armchair that belonged to my friend’s mum. When I returned it to her she was absolutely delighted with her “new” chair which I had transformed from shabby to chic.

Half way

Half way

For this particular project I used a Farrow & Ball water-based eggshell in Brassica™. Using a paint brush to apply the paint it was quite difficult to cover the original shade of red. Applying two coats eventually did the trick. To finish the transformation I used a lovely linen mix upholstery fabric that I had in stock to cover a two inch thick piece of foam to make a seat cushion.

After

After

More recently I wanted to try out a shade of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ so I decided to give my tatty white linen bin a makeover. Again, using a paint brush to apply the paint to the wicker I transformed this little piece of furniture in no time at all.

Before

Before

Inside lid

Inside lid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used Graphite for the exterior and Barcelona Orange for the inside of the lid. To bring the colours together I added a silk Linum scatter cushion with a pompom trim.

With Linum cushion

After

With pompoms

With pompoms

A quicker and easier way to renovate wicker furniture and baskets is to use an aerosol spray. Cans of car paint are very effective although the range of colours quite limited. Alternatively, conventional paints can be applied using a spray gun, and although quicker to apply, the necessity to thoroughly clean the equipment after use can be really tedious. For bigger projects this would probably be worth the trade off.

Cox & Cox rattan baskets

Cox & Cox rattan baskets

To achieve a more frivolous look why not cut a stencil and spray a shape onto a piece of furniture. These rattan baskets from Cox & Cox provide ideal storage in a child’s bedroom. For more details go to  http://www.coxandcox.co.uk/home/kids/nordic-star.

The Best Of LDW 2016

The Design Club

The Design Club

On Wednesday I pootled off to The Design Centre at Chelsea Habour for a quick update on all matters of interior design. My first stop was the Design Club on the 3rd Floor of the South Dome to listen to a talk entitled “Work, Rest and Play – Hospitality Design Redefined”. This was a conversation between three of the hotel industry heavyweights chaired by Catherine Martin, Editor of Sleeper magazine.

In Conversation

In Conversation

I was particularly interested as Sharan Pastiche, CEO of Ennismore, which owns the trio of Hoxton hotels, the newest of which I had stayed during my recent visit to Amsterdam, was talking. His focus was very much on making more use of the hotel lobby which is inclined to be dead space for much of the day. Ennismore’s thinking is to entice local residents to make use of the facility by providing an atmosphere akin to someone’s front room. The provision of comfortable furniture, free wi-fi, and refreshments from the bar or restaurant encourages non-residents to go into the lobby to work or to play. This in itself promotes the hotel and makes it warm and welcoming to other passersby. The hustle and bustle plays an important part in its public persona.  This philosophy has been adapted by many more hotels, both independent and large chains, as they realise that by unzipping some of the formal structure of the lobby space more people are likely to spend time, and ultimately money, in their gaff!

Espresso heart shaped pancakes

Espresso heart shaped pancakes

Next on my agenda was to check out the new showrooms in the Design Centre East. This wing is the home to KLC School of Design as well has the HQ of BIID (British Institute of Interior Designers). This year has seen more of the space being dedicated to specialist design practices and more showroom space. One of the major players in this space is Arte who have a fabulous display of fabrics, wallpapers, lighting and artefacts. Unfortunately, my time here was cut short as I was seduced by the smell of freshly baked cakes and coffee. Specialist design company Espresso were holding a series of demonstrations in their stupendous kitchen. I was offered heart shaped pancakes, cubes of lemon drizzle cake and Earl Grey tea. Yum!

Espresso Design

Live, Cook, Sleep at Espresso Design

As I was enjoying the last of these delicious morsels an announcement was made over the public address system inviting show attendees to an ad-hoc workshop. In the link between the South Dome and Design Centre East Alison Coates from KLC set up shop to give a presentation, “Ten Steps to achieving Big Ideas in Small Spaces”. The twenty-five minute presentation extolled the virtues of clever lighting, informed colour choices, scaleable furniture and nifty storage. I left with my handout and headed on to the main lobby. Here a number of well known publications, including Homes & Gardens, Wallpaper and Living etc. were offering reduced price subscriptions. I quickly signed up for a six month subscription to Wallpaper and was given three free city guides to New York, London and Paris, and a tote bag as a gift!

My last assignment of the day was back to the Design Club for a talk by the founders of Patternity, Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham, in conversation with journalist and author Charlotte Abrahams. This impressive duo talked about their meteoric rise to fame and their future aspirations. Having being brought together by their mutual interest in pattern their first venture was to launch a blog which focused on their research and has since led to global recognition.  Mindfulness has been at the heart of much of their work as they believe that by opening one’s eyes to see the pattern all around helps one to see the world more clearly. Going forward they hope to apply their passion in pattern to designing environments that are genuinely beneficial. Definitely, a pair to follow.

Today is the final day for London Design Week at Chelsea Harbour and is open to all so why not pop along.

Painting By Numbers

Following Annie Sloan’s illustrated instructions from her book, Quick and Easy Paint Transformations, is just like painting by numbers.

My most recent project was this chest of drawers which I rescued from my daughter-in-law. The first thing I had to do was remove the note that read “FOR THE DUMP”!

Destined for the dump

Destined for the dump

Armed with my Annie Sloan tome, two colours of her Chalk Paint™, Paris Grey and Old White, a tin each of Annie Sloan clear wax and dark wax, and a set of Annie Sloan brushes, I embarked on the transformation.

Starting with the drawers I first painted the fronts and pulls with Paris Grey. Once dried, I painted the top and bottom edges with Old White.

Drawer front

The next step was to apply a layer of clear wax to protect the colour. Whilst still sticky I applied a layer of dark wax.

Layer of dark wax

Layer of dark wax

Immediately afterwards I removed some of the dark wax with a cloth leaving a discernible colour difference and some dark wax in the little nooks and crannies in the paintwork and wood.

Dark wax finish

Dark wax finish

Once all four drawers had reached this stage I turned my attention to the cabinet. I repeated the same process but this time, as per the instructions, I removed less of the dark wax.

IMG_0590

Painted and waxed cabinet

I was absolutely delighted with the finished article and couldn’t wait to put it in the guest bedroom to set off my new Laura Ashley pillow cases.

Transformation complete

Transformation complete

The book I used for reference covers many different techniques. This particular one was to age and distress a piece of furniture by using wax to change the paint colour.

To preview or buy the book go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Quick-Paint-Transformations-Annie-Sloan/dp/1906525757

London Design Week 2016

The focus of London Design Week 2016 is how catwalk fashion overlaps/collides/moves ever closer to interior style.
IMG_6345

 

On Sunday March 13 The Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, opens its doors to this year’s London Design Week. Trade visitors are invited  from this day through to Friday March 18; non-trade visitors are welcomed from March 16.

Having received my invitation by post earlier this week I immediately registered on-line and booked tickets for two of the  “in conversation events” which, in my experience, sell out in advance.

This year’s theme, Couture for the Home, is brought to life with fascinating talks, lively panel discussions, demonstrations with KLC School of Design and access to over 600 international brands in 116 showrooms.

One talk of note is hosted by editor Suzanne Imre. In conversation with interior architect and designer Christopher Dezille, interior designer Jo Berryman, and João Botelho, most recently with Donna Karan, Suzanne aims to discover how home style and catwalk fashion are becoming more and more entwined.

To pre-book tickets for this and other LDW events visit http://www.dcch.co.uk.

Hand-Painted Furniture

Painted furniture is by no means a new idea yet it continues to remain in vogue. The advances in paint formulas have virtually removed the need to do any preparation whatsoever, hence the rise in popularity of hand-painted pieces. Effects tend to ebb and flow rather than the concept itself and the current trend seems to be moving away from aged and distressed finishes to that of a more refined contemporary look. (Mid-century pieces are ideal contenders to be brought bang up to date with the use of a strong flat colour. Whether it be chairs, tables or sideboards these can be given a new lease of life with a coat of paint.)

IMG_6333IMG_6319 (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pieces I have been working on of late have been inspired by the strong primary colours used by Joules in their range of bed linen. I chose an Annie Sloan chalk paint to overhaul these two antique-pine bedside tables.

IMG_6332IMG_6329

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The drawers have been painted inside with a pretty pink F&B eggshell that I had in stock and lined with a floral pattern paper which I copied from a Joules carrier bag. I chose to leave the drawer pulls and feet unpainted as I wanted the cabinets to reference the natural pine furniture that they were to sit alongside.

IMG_6316IMG_6310

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both units were given a coat of clear wax to add a soft sheen to an otherwise very flat finish; it will also add a layer of protection to the paintwork. Another benefit of using chalk paint is that you’re not limited to the surfaces that can be covered. I have seen it used successfully on wicker and melamine furniture as well as wood. I gather it can also be used on walls.

Moving forward I have a stock of furniture and accessories that I want to paint. I’m keen to experiment with more unusual finishes such as crackle glaze, image transfer and découpage, as well as some interesting colour combinations! I will use this blog to keep you updated with my progress and to post any interesting ideas that I come across in the meantime.

Visit http://www.anniesloan.com for tips, techniques and tutorials on how to update your  furniture and accessories.

Spring Greens

Anthropologie’s botanical garden scene

Is it too early to be talking about Spring, I wonder?The days are certainly drawing out, and as I sit in my office, overlooking the churchyard, the afternoon light is definitely changing. The exceptionally mild weather has tricked the bulbs into bursting into flower in January and I even saw a Magnolia tree in bloom at the weekend.

The High Street is coming alive with new collections as the sale rails are repositioned  into the dark recesses of the stores.

My attention was drawn to this new colour trend by a couple of articles published in Homes & Gardens featuring Farrow & Ball’s new colours for 2016.  There are nine in total ranging from the palest chiffon pink through to the deepest, darkest teal.

Visit www.farrow-ball.com for an up to the minute preview.

IMG_6167

Laura Ashley’s spring green fabrics

Marks & Spencer, Laura Ashley, House of Fraser and Anthropologie are all flying the green flag with their new ranges of bedlinen, soft furnishing fabrics, china and glass. The M&S collection of bedding seems to have taken on a Designer Guild style with lots of dense floral patterns and delicate silk butterflies. Laura Ashley have an incredible range of industrial style furniture and lighting which is set against a background of the palest green wallpapers, fabrics  and paint finishes.

HoF's Linea glass collection

HoF’s Linea glass collection

House of Fraser are championing their Linea collections of tableware and bathroom accessories whilst Antropologie’s collection of glazed plant pots and beautifully illustrated books has the look and feel of a botanic garden.

I may be wrong, and it might well snow before the clocks go forward at the end of next month, but in the meantime I am enjoying this brief spell of newness and optimism.

To check out the latest trends visit www.marksandspencer.com, www.lauraashley.com,  www.houseoffraser.co.uk and www.anthropologie.com.

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