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216 posts categorized "Inspiration"

13 March 2012

Blogging Your Way : NYC Road Trip Part 1

 

Very early a couple of Fridays ago I crept out of the house and set off on a little adventure

 

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When Holly Becker first announced that she was coming to New York to teach her hugely successful online Blogging Your Way’ class in person, my initial instinct was to think that it was a crazy idea; then I remembered how much fun I’d had at Holly’s book signing; then Holly started a persuasion job on me on Facebook (and goodness that woman can be persuasive) and before I knew it I’d booked a place on the class, a ticket to New York and a room at the Ace Hotel.

The weekend was split into two parts: Holly taught the ‘Creative Business of Blogging’ on the Saturday and then Leslie Shewring of A Creative Mint followed on Sunday with a more active workshop on styling and photography.  Since one of my goals for the year is to finally get serious about both my blogging and my food photography, it seemed like a great way of killing several birds with one stone. The fact that it was in NYC might have influenced my decision a leeetle bit too.

One of the things we talked about a lot during the Saturday workshop with Holly was uncovering and keeping true to your own personal style, aesthetic and voice. The quote on the slide above Holly’s head in the above picture is ‘to thine own self be true’ and she certainly practises what she preaches, as I discovered on the Friday night.

 

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                       Friday night                                                                                      Saturday morning
   

Since I was three hours behind New York time and wide awake on Friday evening, I was happy to help Leslie Shewring as she styled Divine Studio in the East Village to turn it from its bare white bones into a creative and inspirational space.  We moved tables, covered them with plain white paper, hung rolls of crepe paper, decorated jars with washi tape, arranged tulips and pretty notebooks. By the time Holly had added Liberty print ties and round tags and floral banners she’d made herself on the plane, being in the studio was like being within the pages of Holly’s blog – all white with pops of colours, lots of pretty pastels and florals, with the odd homespun, crafty touch. 

It’s not exactly my aesthetic, but seeing a coherent look being pulled together with some cheap accessories, a deft touch and a focused styling eye, was one of the most fascinating aspects of the weekend for me.

 

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                                                                                   Holly-isms everywhere
   

Aside from lots of practical advice about blog design, how to build readership, how to use social media successfully and how to monetize your blog, there was lots of stuff on finding your own authentic voice, focus and niche.  Focus is one of the things that my blog has suffered from a lack of over the years (you don’t say! – Ed) so this really resonated with me. I did a lot of soul-searching, both during the class and on the plane on the way home and I think I came to some conclusions.  I’ll share them in a separate post.

 

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Even the food, from City Bakery, was both beautiful and delicious
   

The thing you need to know about Holly is how authentic she is.

She’s had a lot of success but that has come about because she has stayed true to herself, her passion and her vision.  The whole weekend was an object lesson in ‘walking the walk’. From the décor, through the food, to the one-on-one attention, the course materials and the great team of helpers Holly had pulled together (Leslie, Michelle and Melissa below and Julie, whom I sadly don’t have a picture of), everything reflected Holly’s style and the fact that she is so utterly and ridiculously nice. This is a woman who really cares about her readers and the people who attend her classes and workshops, which is why they are so darn fun, creative and inspiring.

And that was probably the most inspiring, thought-provoking and fabulous thing of all.

 

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I’ve got so many pics that I’ve decided to split this post into two parts.  Tune in tomorrow for more about Leslie Shewring’s fabulous styling and photography class.

   

10 March 2012

Pinterest Take Five

 

This week on Pinterest we’ve been getting ziggy with it.

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Source: Chevron iPhone case from Society6 via Leah Dent

   

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Source: Faux Feather Neon Aztec Earrings from lovesexton via Marcia Prentice

   

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Source: Design Crisis via Hammocks & High Tea

   

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1. Paint the canvas all crazy like 2. Use painter's tape to create a herringbone pattern with some missing  3. Paint over the canvas in white 4. Remove tape and voila!

Source: Cozamia via Melanie Hernquist

 

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Source: Pattern of the Day from Karina Maranin via Poppytalk

 

Oh and have an extra one this week. You guys are so SPOILT.

 

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Source: How to Make a Chevron Pattern in Photoshop from Ashli Nixon via Uncle Beefy.

   

09 March 2012

Go Love Your Room: Circles, Rectangles and Stripes Edition

 

One of the things we talked about at the weekend was the idea of constantly exploring and questioning and thinking about your aesthetic and why you are drawn to certain things – using your blog as a way to explore your own creativity and as a catalyst to live your best life.

I saw this apartment a few weeks ago, and it really resonated with me, so I thought I might try and work out WHY I like it so much.

 

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This room is gorgeous.  The beautiful focal point of the paintings sort of goes without saying, but the designer has also used texture subtly and cleverly–  the smooth table and hard metals contrasted with soft leather rug and pouffe and the natural wooden floor. 

I’ve noticed in my photography that I’m really drawn to complementary shapes and I love how the designer has used  the large square art pieces to emphasise the rectangles of the doors and walls, while the circle of the ceiling rose is echoed by the cylindrical light, the round table, the cylindrical pouffe and even the spots and circles on the paintings.

 

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Pull out into the lounge area and you’ll see more use of shape and texture.  More rectangular pictures, more circular tables and a Tord Boontje metal light shade (which I don’t think is quite big enough).  You’ll know through all my ‘Go Fug Your Room’ rantings that I don’t like uncomfortable chairs, and I think the seating in here could be a little more cosy (and maybe a rug would have helped), but my goodness, it’s still a lovely space.

 

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Looking in the other direction the stripy art picks out the lines of the floorboards (love how they go in opposite directions), and echoes the stripy art and crib slats in the nursery. I also like how the curved top of the mirror reflects the curves of the Eames rocker and stops everything from feeling too square and boxy. And there’s a most beautiful stuffed owl with circular owly eyes.  And we all know how much I like those.

 

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Rectangular shelves, a round stool and a stripy rug complete the nursery and there are more circles and a whole family of round-eyed owls in the entrance hall.

 

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More stripes in the bed cover and through the kitchen cabinets and more circles through the art, the cushions and in the Nelson coat rack.

Wow. To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t noticed how thoughtfully the designer had organised the shapes in the apartment until I was half way through writing this post.  I thought at first it was the colours everywhere speaking to me, but I think it’s the underlying sense of organisation that is making my soul happy (unfortunately this is not reflected in my own home).  This house makes me want to tidy up and buy art.

What do you guys think?  Do you like it or is it too structured and sterile for you?  Does anyone know who did those amazing paintings or where I can buy those FABULOUS owls?  And where do the people who live here put their stuff?

This apartment belongs to Norwegian jewellery designer Stine A. Johanssen. More details are here, translated from the Norwegian.

   

07 March 2012

Teeny Trend: Pixels

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No, you don’t need new glasses, though I’m curious to know if anyone out there would dare to wear the shoes.

Cushions are available here and shoes here.

   

06 March 2012

That Was The Week That Was: NYC Edition

 

This has been an Instagram week of colourful shopping, tall buildings, funky hotels and yellow cabs.  With just a bit of blogging inspiration thrown in.

 

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On the 1st January I started posting daily photos to Instagram. I’m @mirrormirroxx. Come and be my friend.

I’ve had the most wonderful weekend. My head is full to bursting with ideas and inspiration, as is my cardholder with friends old and new.  Unfortunately my email inbox and laundry basket are also in danger of exploding and my fridge is very, VERY empty. 

I’ve got tons of ideas and thoughts and photos to share with you all but need to get myself straight today. New and improved blogging service begins tomorrow.

   

02 March 2012

Packing and Panicking : Blogging Your Way NYC

 

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PANIC!

 

This is what’s going down currently chez moi.  Early tomorrow morning I’m flying off to New York to attend Holly Becker of Decor8’s first ever in person Blogging Your Way workshop, which will include a day of photography and styling tips with the lovely Leslie Shewring of A Creative Mint.

 

 

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I’ve long wondered what could happen if I took my blogging a bit more seriously, so I’m hoping to get a ton of tips and tricks to take this blog to the next level and beyond, now that I’ve got my mad Photoshop skillz in hand. (Haha! – Ed)

I’m back on Monday night so there won’t be any blogging over the weekend.  However I’ll be taking pictures like crazy, so follow me on Instagram (@mirrormirrorxx), Twitter or Facebook.

In the meantime, tell me all your favourite unmissable shops in NYC, I’ve got a free day of mooching around on Monday.

   

01 March 2012

Go Fug Your Room? - Ines de la Fressange in Provence

 

Does that title send shivers down your spine?  

Given that Ines de la Fressange is the person I’d most like to be when I grow up, and Provence is the place in the world that I’d most to live (yeah, how original am I ), and her apartment in Paris has already been given the coveted mirrormirror seal of approval,  I can’t express how excited I was to see that my Elle Décor international edition was featuring Ines’ house in Provence.

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Until that is I actually opened the magazine. Was this cold, spare, almost industrial, snoozefest of a space REALLY the home of the most stylish woman on the planet?  Or has my beloved Ines been kidnapped by space aliens and replaced by some sort of robot?

 

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My first issue is with all the white.  I spent one of the happiest years of my life living in the South of France and the light there is warm and golden and oozes like butter, made for the sunset colours of painted plaster, terracotta tiles and warm, rich woods.  This harsh, clinical whiteness might work in Scandinavia, or Britain, or even Paris, but it doesn’t begin to say Provence to me.

 

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And then there are the chairs.  Is it me, or does every single chair with the exception of the daybed look supremely uncomfortable? Either the sort of chair you have to perch on or a somewhat creaky flea market sofa with the sort of smelly upholstery you have to cover with a throw?

 

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I could almost cope with the white if it had been enlivened by some brilliantly contrasting colours, but black?  I think black is quite difficult to live with at the best of times, but the black and white, with the stiff metallic lamps and stark, shiny floors, just seems cold, uncomfortable and unfriendly in Provence.  And I can’t even begin to explain how many sorts of wrong the depressingly coloured Union Jack cushion is.

 

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The kitchen is by far the best room in the house and shows what might have been if more colour had been included.  But it still all seems rather brutal to me.

 

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But what do you guys think?  Is this house fugly or not? As usual tell us how you reached your decision in the comments.

 

 

I was astonished to find out that an amazing 74% of you agreed with me about Diane von Furstenburg’s Manhattan penthouse. I do hope you’re not just sucking up. 

   

28 February 2012

What Do You Think? – Open Kitchen Shelves

 

One of the projects we’ve got lined up for this year is remodelling our horrible downstairs kitchen. 

The good news is that we have two kitchens in this house.  The bad news is that they’re each as ugly as each other – the downstairs one is a relic from the seventies, complete with crumbling cabinets, laminate countertops, ancient linoleum, probably an asbestos problem. I’ll show you pictures one day when I’m feeling especially mean.

I’m starting to consider design ideas and am very tempted to include lots of open shelves. They look good and of course are WAY cheaper than cabinets. openkitchenshelves

From a gorgeous house tour on Design Sponge. My kitchen is NEVER this neat..

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I’m loving these open steel shelves shown in last month’s Livingetc. I suspect they only look this good though, because they’re carrying half a ton of gorgeous vintage tea plates and spoons.

 

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Source unknown.  Love the juxtapostion of white shelves with dark wood counter tops.

 

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I could never keep shelves as tidy and uncluttered as these. From a this tour on Houzz.

 

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It would be nice to have a least some of my two hundred and fifty-odd cookbooks on display. From The Kitchn.

 

I am, however, intrigued to know what open shelves are like to live with.  How easy is it to keep everything clean?  Do you have to go out and buy tons of fancy plates and crockery to make them look good?  (This is not necessarily a problem).  Is it easy to keep them tidy or do they end up with piles of stuff just shoved on them? What are your tips and tricks for keeping them organised?

Tell me all your deepest, darkest, most sordid secrets.  No one reads this blog anyway.

 

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The above is from the Seattle house of the architects we’re hoping to use, which I previously blogged about here.

 

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This pantry makes my inner Martha squee with delight.  However I have more chance of flying to the moon than achieving such perfection. From here.

   

Nuns on the Carpet: Gwyneth Paltrow and Shailene Woodley Oscars 2012

 

A couple more Oscars posts I think and then we’ll get back to talking about knitting.

What was with all the nuns on the Oscars red carpet? Are they doing a remake of the Sound of Music or something?

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Gwyneth went all Mother Superior on us – an utterly gorgeous dress though she’s not a good enough actress to make the born again virgin stuff convincing.

While Shailene Woodley turned up as the demure young penitent.

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Gloriously, and rather randomly there was even a real nun walking the carpet.  Mother Dolores is a former co-star of Elvis’ who now stars in a documentary about her life as a nun.

 

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And speaking of the Sound of Music there were huge cheers at our Oscar party when Captain von Trapp FINALLY received his Oscar – a moment spoiled only by his refusal to lead the auditorium in a rousing chorus of ‘Edelweiss’.

   

Dressing in Adversity: Vicky Beckham, Melissa McCarthy, Anne Sophie Bion Oscars 2012

 

(With honourable mentions to Princess Charlene and Gwen Stefani).

Appalling things obviously happened to the original dresses the following three ladies were going to wear, but adversity couldn’t dampen their determination to attend as they fashioned replacements out of stuff they had lying about round the house.

Fortunately Vicky Beckham is tiny enough to fit into one of David's knee bandages without any need for alterations.

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Melissa McCarthy did extraordinary things with waxed paper lunch bags, unbleached of course for added eco-friendliness.

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Anne Sophie Bion resorted to that old friend the bin liner (trashbag if you must) and didn’t even try to disguise it. She’d be terrible on Project Runway.

 

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Princess Charlene must have suffered some sort of awful accident as she made yet another attempt to escape her loveless marriage, but she still made it to the ceremony while wearing a neck brace.

 

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And poor, poor Gwen Stefani clearly had a terrible accident with the ketchup bottle at the Vanity Fair party itself but still soldiered womanfully on.

   

27 February 2012

Separated at Birth: Jane Seymour, Natalie Portman, Mena Suvari Oscars 2012

 

Every year many starlets model themselves on other, more successful, movie stars, hoping that a little of the magic will rub off on them.

 

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Mena Suvari covers as many bases as she can by copying both a cartoon character AND a bird.

 

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Separated At Birth: Michelle Williams and Angelina Jolie

 

Some of the ladies took their inspiration from further afield.  Both Michelle Williams and Angelina Jolie decided to channel icons of 19th century British literature.

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It sort of doesn’t matter what Michelle wears, while she keeps with that gamine cut she will always be Oliver to me.

Angelina, poor girl, tried at every opportunity to divert attention from the wooden stump under her black velvet gown. Seriously, what was she thinking with all that ridiculous posing? Please tell me she was having a laugh.

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Separated At Birth: Heidi Klum and Anna Faris Oscars 2012

 

Many ladies of course take their inspiration from birds for their Oscars attire.

Heidi Klum would be all kinds of useful if you were trapped in a coal mine.

 

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While Anna Faris had struggled her way through an oil slick to be with us.

 

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Unfortunately for Anna, Rose Byrne did oilslick black sequins much better than she did.

   

Separated at Birth: Jennifer Lopez and Rooney Mara Oscars 2012

 

Yay it’s that time of year again, when we break off from the normal serious business of this blog and have fun at the Oscars.

First up, two ladies who this year took inspiration from the kitchen.

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Jennifer Lopez decided to pay homage to the great British baking revival by coming as a cottage loaf, albeit one who needed who needed stronger tit tape.

Whereas Rooney Mara clearly had a team of Michelin-starred waiters fussing over her bosoms for days.

 

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23 February 2012

I Heart Blogshop

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It’s taken me ages to put together my Blogshop review, mostly because I thought I ought to use some Photoshop to put it together and Photoshop still takes me an agonisingly long time. But the fact that I can do any Photoshop at all is a testament to the teaching skills of graphic designer and blogger extraordinaire Bri Emery and commercial photographer Angela Kohler, who together are the team who make Blogshop happen.

This workshop is billed as ‘where blogging and Photoshop totally make out’ and if you write any sort of visual blog, you’ll find the skills you learn here invaluable – from putting together photospreads and mood boards, to designing blog headers and social media buttons, to creating animated gifs and retouching photos (which is taught using professional photo portraits of the participants, taken by Angela). It’s the only course out then which focuses on Photoshop from the perspective of bloggers, so while it’s expensive it is so, so worth it.

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It was great to meet up again with some groovy local bloggers - Cassandra from Coco+Kelley who hosted the whole event, Erin from Apartment 34 and the inimitable Uncle Beefy, who made us some utterly delicious churros (of which more hopefully next week).  It was also a chance to make some new friends – Jennifer from Art & Lair, Lisa from With Style & Grace, Alisa from Alisa’s Garden and Shannon from Happiness Is… (who both sat at my table and were incredibly patient with my thousands of questions).

The amazing space (that turquoise wall is to die for) is the Fred Wildlife Refuge, a fabulous photography studio and event space on Seattle’s Capitol Hill; with all the props and accessories being provided by Scout Vintage Rentals. And I’ve already told you about the great goodie bag

The one downside, and this is just a very personal opinion, is that, although the course is billed as being for beginners, it’s really quite challenging if you’re as much of a Photoshop ignoramus as I was.  Bri and Angela and their two interns were patience personified, but I would have got more out of the course if I had previously been familiar with the layout and the buttons and the concept of layers etc.  I feel like I do understand a lot of the basics now, but I’ve looked at the notes for some of the more advanced techniques we were shown, such as masking, and I am still deeply confuzzled.

 

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But we’ll see, you may have noticed me using Photoshop in some previous posts and hopefully you’ll see things getting prettier round here over the next week or two. Just promise me that if you’re a complete Photoshop beginner and are thinking of doing this course that you’ll have a little play to familiarise yourself with the program first. This set of beginners’ tutorials from Mashable looks like it would be a great place to start .

Photoshop experts out there, how did you learn?  Are there any books, courses or online tutorials you can recommend? I really want to get this thing LICKED.

 

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On a final shallow note, Bri is just the most ridiculously photogenic person EVAH, thanks to her translucently pale skin, shock of platinum hair and the cute bright colours she wears.  Here she is with Jennifer from Trophy Cupcakes, who was here to do the course and also injected cupcakes and gift cards into the proceedings. .

Oh, and I was just about to hit ‘publish’ when I found this video of the Seattle workshop on the Blogshop page.  See if you can spot me peering in deep confusion at my screen (the silhouette above will give you a clue) or, if you’re really quick, the shot of me in a long ginger wig (additional clue below).

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BLOGSHOP - Seattle from GMP on Vimeo.

   

21 February 2012

Mary Katrantzou for TOPSHOP

 

Well I tried but all that was left on the website was a scarf and a pair of floral leggings and I think floral leggings are a bit too mutton-dressed-as-lamb even for me. 

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I’ve blogged about my love for Greek designer Mary Katrantzou before, so I was thrilled to learn that she was producing a limited edition capsule collection of nine pieces for TopShop.  And my goodness they’re beautiful and so surprisingly WEARABLE, particularly the figure-skimming silk tunic and blouse. 

I’ve started stalking eBay, but the prices are absolutely cray-cray. Please TopShop make some more!

Did anyone out there get any pieces?  Are they as lovely as they look?

   

17 February 2012

Go Fug Your Room? – DvF’s Manhattan Penthouse

 

I hugely admire Diane von Furstenberg’s fashion style and her inspired use of prints and colours, even though, as I don’t have much of a waist, her iconic wrap dress is just not flattering on me.

So I was fascinated to see online previews of a spread in March’s Architectural Digest featuring her incredible penthouse apartment in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.

 

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The penthouse, built over DvF’s design studio and flagship store, is absolutely stunning, with apparently incredible views through its transparent glass walls.

 

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But inside? Well, it all strikes me as just a bit too MUCH.

 

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Those chairs are gorgeous, the art is apparently priceless, but it all feels as if it just can’t breathe. The backdrop of the leopard skin rug really doesn’t help matters.  And who sticks art, however exquisite, on the windowsill, thereby obscuring the billion-dollar views?

 

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I love the Andy Warhol portrait, dislike  the table and am meh on the clashing animal prints. Again, I think this would have looked a whole lot better with a more neutral rug.

 

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I sort of admire her for attempting to recreate a pasha’s boudoir in her big glass eyrie -  just because the structure is ultra-modern, you don’t necessarily have to go ultra-modern with the décor. But I just don’t think this works, the attempted grandeur is overwhelmed by the ceiling and it just looks incongruous.

 

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Those screens round the bath are lovely, as is the bathtub itself, but I would be terrified of knocking over all those little tables and stools when I emerged dripping wet from my ablutions.  But maybe DVF is not as clumsy as me.

Although I can see that one would want to create private areas in such an open space, overall all the clutter and clashing patterns and different styles and objets seems to fight with the open space rather than celebrating it.  She’s tried to make it cosy, but I don’t think it’s the sort of space that works with cosy.

But what do I know?  She’s is DvF after all.

What do you think? Please show your workings in the comments.

   

06 February 2012

That Was The Week That Was

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It’s been an Instagram week of blue skies, sunshine and hearts, with a bit of bread baking and crochet thrown in.

It’s also been a weekend of attending Blogshop here in Seattle.  My brain is fried, by backside is numb and my Photoshop skillz are still frighteningly amateur as you can see.  But at least they exist, which they didn’t before the weekend.  I’ll tell you more about it during the week. (Above images are all Instagrams as usual, but silly old Photoshop doesn’t have a Polaroid frames tool such as I have on my usual blogging software).

Happy Monday!

29 January 2012

That Was The Week That Was

 

It’s been an Instagram week of sunshine and baking, turquoise, spring green and yellow.  Come and find me. I’m ‘mirrormirrorxx’.

 

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28 January 2012

Hotel Pelirocco – Knitted Hotel Room

 

I nearly put my back out straining to love this hotel room, which has received a bunch of publicity in recent months, but somehow I just CAN’T. 

The hip Hotel Pelirocco in Brighton commissioned fibre artist Kate Jenkins of knitwear and crochet brand Cardigan to create a knitted hotel room, and this is what she came up with.

 

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The ‘Do Knit Disturb’ room features a hand-crocheted bedspread and curtains, knitted cushions, a crocheted lamp and telephone and other whimsical crocheted artifacts appropriate to the seaside location, such as seagull soft toys, a knitted picture of fish and chips above the bed and a crocheted full English breakfast.

 

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I don’t like it because it just seems so expected somehow – all cosy and grannyish and whimsical and about as sexy as a pair of well-worn bedroom slippers.  Heck, the room is even a tiny single room because of course someone who liked knitting would never have a boyfriend.

 

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When you think of some of the cool and innovative knitted homewares other craftspeople are making out there, I can’t help thinking that they really missed an opportunity to do something contemporary, textured and elegant; something modern and abstract or even something downright sumptuous and glamorous. 

What do you think?  Do you like it? Would you stay there?  Is it the best job they could have done with knitting and crochet?  What sort of thing would you have done?

23 January 2012

That Was The Week That Was

 

Some favourite Instagram photos from last week. Come and find me, I’m ‘mirrormirrorxx’.  (Going to try and do this every weekend).

As you can see it’s been a week of snow and soft pastel colours.

 

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We had a massive snowstorm in Seattle last week which meant that the Minx and I were both trapped at home.  What with that and going away on a jolly with the Husband’s job last weekend, I’ve still trying to catch my tail after Christmas.

Normal, hopefully better than normal, blog service will resume tomorrow.

10 January 2012

Instagram – My New Obsession

 

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Over the last few months a lot of people have asked me whether I was on Instagram or not. 

I wasn’t because I couldn’t really see the point – I was already taking plenty of iPhone photos and sharing them on Twitter and Facebook and I didn’t really need to be on another social media time-sucking platform, did I?

 

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How wrong I was.  As I mentioned before, one of this year’s resolutions was to try out Instagram, mostly because I thought it would be an easy way to do a ‘365 project’ and post a photo a day.  On January 1st I posted one solitary photo from our New Year’s Day walk in Gasworks Park and thenceforth I have become gently obsessed.  Instagram is like Twitter for photos. Follow some great photographers and you’ll have a constant stream of scrumptious eyecandy delivered direct to your phone. Take a photo with your phone (iPhones only at the moment unfortunately), or a upload a picture you took earlier, apply a suitably retro filter and then have it delivered to the Instagram network and also to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flick.

It’s been a great way to reconnect with blogger friends away from the noise of Twitter and Facebook and of finding new creative and imaginative people online as they go about their beautiful business.

 

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And it’s easy to produce lovely images.  The camera on the new iPhone 4s is crazy good and the various photography apps and filters available (I’m using Camera+ and Picfx as well as the Instagram filters) make it fun to create all sorts of effects. 

I’m enjoying the challenge of working within the iPhone’s limitations – wide-angle lens, tiny aperture, rubbish in low light, square format, not many pixels - and love the fact that the phone is usually to hand, when you see pretty lightshades at the opticians or a pile of soggy, but colourful leaves on a rainy trip to the dentist.  It’s not a substitute for a fancy camera, but a very fabulous adjunct.

Already my Instagram feed is proving to be a cool visual journal of January 2012, and seeing all the photos grouped together has shown me that I do in fact have photographic style – colourful and graphic yet dreamy – which has never leapt out at me before. 

Rest assured you’ll be seeing more Instagram photos on the blog in the days and weeks ahead (I’ll format them as Polaroids here so you can spot them).

And of course the whole network is riddled with cute pictures of cats.

 

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Are you on Instagram?  What do you like about it? Which apps do you use? What’s your username so I can follow you? I am mirrormirrorxx.

   

05 December 2011

Picture the Holidays – All You Need is Love

 

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I think this one’s pretty much self-explanatory.  Not exactly creative, but I couldn’t pass this one up.

02 December 2011

Picture the Holidays – Holding on to Gratitude

 

This December I’ve decided to try my hand at putting together a ‘Picture the Holidays’ photo prompt book put together by Tracey Clark of Shutter Sisters via Paper Coterie.

Every day I am emailed a photo prompt to inspire me to take a photo, which I then upload into a photobook on the Paper Coterie site, which I can then have printed if I wish. I know I’m crap at following through on these sorts of projects, but a month of photos seems just about manageable.

 

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Yesterday’s prompt was entitled ‘Holding On To Gratitude’, encouraging us to think about what we’re grateful for. Funnily enough the night before I had gone to sleep thinking particularly grateful thoughts as I’d been reading a thread on Ravelry where people had been asking for good wishes and prayers because they were going through some particularly horrible things in their lives. I know I am insanely lucky in so many ways.

Unfortunately, the things I am most truly grateful for – my health; my bright, beautiful, healthy daughter; my lovely husband and his lovely job; my wonderful friends; even my fabulous blog friends, were either too abstract, or too absent at school or work to be photographed yesterday. 

Instead I hit up on something rather random. When you’re doing the Dukan diet you do become incredibly grateful for that morning cup of joe, which is permitted – oh joy! – if made with non-fat milk.  This photo for me sums up the warmth and comfort of home; reminds me how lucky I am to be able to afford a fancy coffee machine to make fancy coffee in a fancy mug; makes me think of my husband, and of Seattle, where I’m so lucky to be able to live. And in a literal interpretation of ‘hold on’ I like that this pictures is full of handles.  Oh well, it made sense to me.

What would you photograph given that prompt?

In a spectacular photography fail yesterday, I took my camera out last night to see the Christmas Ships without its SD card. So you’ll just have to image the fabulous pictures I would have taken of my daughter’s shining face as she gazed at the lit-up boats, next to blazing bonfires, against the sparkling backdrop of downtown and the Space Needle.  They might have been a little more appropriate for the above challenge too. Grrrrrr.

Oh and Dine & Dish is doing this too, go to her blog for a different perspective on things.

Advent Calendars

 

It’s the first of December so we’re allowed to start talking Christmas (or ‘the holidays’ if you prefer).

     

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The Minx’s advent tree, which is yearly supplied with small treats by one of the Minx’s godmothers, will go up tonight and I thought it might be fun to round up some other advent type things I’ve come across in the last few days.

One of the Minx’s other godmothers (yep, we did a good job picking those) has sent her a link to this gorgeous-looking online advent calendar by Jacquie Lawson featuring Christmassy London scenes. I don’t seem to be able to share the demo, but do click on it, it’s really charming.  I don’t care about the Minx, I’m excited enough to start open the first link when she comes home from school tonight.

Also tonight, we’re off to see the Christmas Ships as they set off on their nightly December odyssey round Seattle’s waterways. Rain has always conspired to stop us seeing them before, but it looks like it will be OK tonight.  Hopefully pictures tomorrow.

The Daily Suze found two beautiful, more grown-up, advent calendars.

     

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This from the White Company (how I miss that shop).  I love this idea of having a tasteful tree decoration for every day and transferring them one by one from the calendar to the tree. Maybe when we get back to having tasteful trees again we’ll do this.

This calendar is also minimalist and lovely, and even I wouldn’t have trouble making it.  It could be made to fit into any décor too, if you changed the colour of the boxes.  I still don’t quite see the Minx appreciating it yet though.

 

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If you want an advent calendar for yourself go along to Paper Coterie where they are doing a project called ‘Picture the Holidays’. Every day you will be emailed a prompt to take a photograph and at the end you will get the chance to put all your gorgeous images together into a photo book.  Facebook friends who have done one Paper Coteries’s Prompt Me projects before have said that it’s very fun, so I’ve decided to sign up.  Let’s see how it goes.  I’ll put more details up in dedicated posts as the month progresses.

Finally, if you’re into shopping rather than photography, Abigail*Ryan, purveyors of beautiful homewares, are doing a 12 Days of Christmas Sale. Search for the snowflakes on one of their gorgeous handprinted teatowels or cushions and get it on sale for one day only. And if anyone wants to buy me one of their teatowel gift boxes, please feel free.

01 December 2011

Can You Tell What It Is Yet?

 

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After last year’s tiny little needles and tiny little stitches for Carmen Banana, I am treating myself to chunky size 15 needles and chunky weight yarn to make the Minx’s knitted Christmas present.

I’ll post regular updates before the big day and the first person to guess what it is wins my undying admiration.

10 November 2011

Autumn Leaves

 

Today I went out for a stroll to grab a coffee.

 

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I really must admit that Seattle does trees extraordinarily well.

20 October 2011

Desperate Housewife

 

As an often frustrated stay at home mum who loves colourful things, this gorgeous editorial from Vogue Italia spoke to me at a visceral level.  After all I do spend an awful lot of my time hiding under the sink wearing killer stilettos and a cocktail dress.

Welcome to my world.

 

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Thanks to the ever fabulous Tom and Lorenzo for this dose of pretty.

21 September 2011

Yellow Goes Surprisingly Well With Everything

 

In her eyewateringly hilarious neo-feminist diatribe How To Be A Woman, UK journalist Caitlin Moran mentions in passing that ‘yellow shoes go surprisingly well with everything’.  And, though I’ve never owned a pair of yellow shoes in my life, I can see that this may very well be the case.

I’m also wondering if that is also case for interiors, but I suspect that is mostly so I can have an excuse to buy this – the IKEA Trollsta sideboard (which is apparently now only available in black instead of yellow, seriously guys, the yellowness was by far the best thing about it).

 

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{From Planet Fur via Designer Junk Finder}

 

Perhaps fortunately for the people who have to live with me, we have absolutely no space for this – otherwise I’d be sorely tempted to drag home the black version and a pot of yellow paint.

So is it true? Does yellow go with everything? Should I buy yellow shoes? Do you want to sell me your yellow sideboard? Got any other examples of fabulous yellow accent pieces?

15 September 2011

Fancy Hotel of the Week – Hotel Monaco, San Francisco

 

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For my recent escape to San Francisco, I was looking for a hotel that was not TOO pricey, centrally-located and yet still a luxurious treat.   Through various Seattle foodie events, I’ve had the great good luck to get to know the wonderful Sheri Doyle of Pacific Northwest Journeys, who specialises in travel-planning throughout the Pacific Northwest.  What she doesn’t know about travel throughout the region and booking hotels in San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver and Victoria really isn’t worth knowing.

So I followed her advice and booked the Hotel Monaco (a sister hotel to the Hotel Triton, where we’d enjoyed staying before).  Sheri made the arrangements, got me a great rate, asked if I wanted a goldfish in my room (!), and passed on a secret password which would get me a ‘nice treat’.

The treat proved to be an upgrade to a Junior Suite, the goldfish was delivered to the door of my room with a note telling me his name was Speedy, and I spend the next 24 hours just WALLOWING in the hotel. The staff were all delightful – friendliness and helpfulness personified - which is great if you’re travelling on your own.

 

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I have to admit upfront that the décor – like the lovechild of a louche gentlemen’s club on acid and a fantasy French chateau - wasn’t really my thing and seemed a little dated, but it was bright and supremely comfortable and had that touch of crazy fantasy that characterizes all the best hotels. You may not want to try this at home, but goodness it’s fun to visit.

 

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My room was very, very, very stripy. No other adjective seems appropriate somehow.

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As for Speedy the goldfish?  Well, he’s about the weirdest gimmick I’ve ever encountered at a hotel and I only said I wanted one so I could blog about it, but there was actually something strangely companionable about having a fish in the room. And he did have the most excellent manners – no snoring, no farting, very quiet.  I was sad to leave him behind.

 

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If ever you’re thinking of travelling around the Pacific Northwest, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Sheri. You’ll end up with a detailed itinerary, the best recommendations out there for accommodation, eating out and things to see and do, and the savings that she’ll get you on room rates will probably more than pay for her services. Oh and she is incredibly organised, friendly and helpful and a pleasure to do business with.

07 September 2011

Decorate!

 

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Holly Becker of Decor8 fame has been an online friend for the longest time. I started blogging a little after she did and she was one of the very first people to comment on this blog nearly six years ago. 

I’ve done her Blogging Your Way course and cheered her on from the sidelines as she has gone on to her incredible and very much deserved success.

Holly is one of those people who is always generous with her time, her encouragement and, latterly, with the enormous reach and power of her blog.  She’s one of those people who always seems to have time for a friendly word or blog comment, however phenomenally busy she is and has created a huge network of friends, followers and devoted admirers across the globe.  And I’m not sure whether she ever sleeps or manages to have any leisure time as her output and the number of projects she’s involved in has always been prodigious.

I find her inspirational on so many levels and have always been sad that she managed to skip to Europe not long after I arrived in the US.  We’ve never been on the same side of the Atlantic for very long.

When plans for her book tour were finalised, she invited me to come down and see her in San Francisco. And at first it seemed like a crazy idea to fly down just for a book-signing and a dinner.  But a little voice in my head kept saying ‘why not’ and then Virgin America was offering great deals on flights from Seattle and before I knew it I’d booked flights and a hotel and was lined up for my first night away from the family in ages.

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Holly and yours truly

And, all you mothers out there, I seriously don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner. I had totally forgotten the joys of plane travel without a fidgety six-year old; of mooching aimlessly round shops without being in a terrible rush or having to march a six year old to the toilet; of eating a most amazing lunch (thanks Boulette’s Larder) without having to worry whether the Minx had brought her DS or a book.  For 36 hours I was single again, and goodness it was BLISS.

Holly’s book signing was at Anthropologie (beautifully decorated with these garlands and bunting from Paper Source. Note to self, must buy for the Minx) and she was accompanied by Leslie Shewring from A Creative Mint, who had also taught on the Blogging Your Way course.  I also got to meet the very charming Victoria, of sfgirlbybay fame; the delightfully effervescent Alix (who had been a very fun team mate on the Blogging Your Way course) and Dottie from Modern Kiddo; the lovely Maja Brugos from Tikoli and Crystal Gentilello of Rue Magazine among other luminaries of the San Francisco design and blogging world.

 

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Leslie Shewring and Alix from Modern Kiddo with Holly

All in all I had a fabulous couple of days and came away tremendously inspired to work more on this blog and throw myself more fully into the design world.  It’s time for this Mamma to have some ‘me’ time. 

Oh and the book?  Well, it’s fabulous of course.  Unlike many decorating books which are all about recreating the author’s own style, Decorate is all about uncovering and developing your own personal style and vision.  It is chock full of gorgeous pictures, inspirational quotes and tons and tons of innovative, accessible and eminently do-able ideas for every room in the house.  The book is sitting on my nightstand and is perfect way to unwind with a little bit of pretty at the end of a long day. And my house will definitely benefit in the long term. 

As for Holly herself, well, she is as warm, charming and thoroughly lovely as her online persona. But then you knew that already.  And also very tall.

And now I really must stop gushing and have a lie down. All this being nice does not come naturally at all.

19 August 2011

Postcard from Orcas Island


Postcard from Orcas Island

17 August 2011

Beautiful British Food

 

Funnily enough, given that I was brought up by, and learned to cook from, an Italian woman and cook in a very Italian way myself, I have found myself being a bit of an unofficial ambassador for British food here in Seattle, where it’s as much maligned as it is everywhere else on the planet.

I tend to make classic British dishes for potlucks and gatherings (people are so surprised that British food can actually taste good) and really want the Minx to grow up understanding her culinary heritage in the land of mac 'n’ cheese and pumpkin pie.

New Zealander Joel Penkman moved to the UK and started painting beautifully detailed portraits of classic British foodstuffs which make me want to weep with nostalgia.

Every British kid grew up on these biscuits.

 

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No trip to the seaside was complete without a stick of rock to take home.

 

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My favourite ice lolly.  At least until they invented Magnums.

 

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No kid’s birthday party was complete without Fondant Fancies, though my mum had enough of a fear of food colouring that we never had them at home.

 

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Custard tarts.  Always hated those.

 

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And pork pie. One of the top five things I miss most about the UK here in Seattle. I think I would cry if I had this picture on my kitchen wall.

 

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Joel’s website is here. Buy her prints here.

16 August 2011

The Story of the Cake - Part II

 

The day before the party the Husband and I set to work assembling all the various cakes I’d been making and freezing over the previous week.

 

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The top tier was a classic Victoria sponge filled with chocolate buttercream. The rainbow cake filled with vanilla buttercream formed the middle tier and the bottom tier was yet another Macrina Bakery ‘Mom’s Chocolate Cake’, which I’ve been using for birthday cakes ever since the Minx was two, as it is very moist and forgiving, and much beloved by the grown up kids in attendance.

Stupidly I’d made my cakes in 9”, 8” and 7” sizes which didn’t really make for enough of a tiered effect and also left  nowhere for my fairy cake toppers to sit. Fortunately I’d made a big batch of cupcakes ready for a cupcake decorating activity at the party so we used a few to create plinths for the fairies to sit on.

Here is the whole edifice covered in its crumb coat. (Please ignore hideous green kitchen countertops).

 

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And here is the finished article, covered with easy moulded flowers and chocolate bunnies, made using candy melts; vines and leaves iced on in green buttercream and a set of five Disney Fairy cake toppers. The Husband has asked me to point out that he is the person who actually wields the icing bag (under my direction) and he certainly did a fabulous job.

 

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I was however nervous for the final piece de resistance.  Would the central rainbow cake be sufficiently lurid and rainbow-like?

It seems I needn’t have worried.

 

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And the kids ADORED it.

 

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I am indebted to my father-in-law for the last two photos. Note the careful styling in this bottom pic, it took me ages to get the mustard bottle just so.

   

23 March 2011

Pirates Ahoy!

 

I’ve been receiving lots of lovely comments and emails – thank you all -  about the Minx’s new loft bed and slide (it was featured on Apartment Therapy’s Ohdeedoh kids’ site yesterday – hi Ohdeedohers!) and had been feeling smugly pleased with myself. 

 

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Until a week or so ago, when a friend posted a link on Facebook and my smugness instantly evaporated. Now, this is what you call a loft bed and slide.

WARNING: Don’t read this with any trainee pirates, or trainee pirates at heart, anywhere in the vicinity of your computer.

 

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The pirate ship was custom built for the six-year old client and features a rope bridge leading to a specially built ‘jail’. See that rope to the left of the crows’ nest?  Slide down it and you end up in the closet below.

 

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And as a final piece de resistance, see that intriguing orange hole in a secret hallway closet?

 

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Well that turns out to be a DOUBLE. STOREY. SPIRAL. SLIDE acquired after the refurb of a local community centre.

 

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Full details of the design and construction on MyModernMet.

Please don’t show this to the Minx.

   

22 March 2011

Fancy Hotel of the Week–MyHotel Brighton

 

Last week I was idly flicking through pictures of the MyHotel in Brighton, the English seaside town known affectionately as ‘London-by-the-sea’.

Designed by New Yorker Karim Rashid and opened in 2008, the design brief was apparently to create a space ‘where Freddie Mercury might meet the Maharishi’. 

I really wanted to hate it after reading that, but unfortunately I just can’t.  From the photos at least it’s a shiny, sexy, glamorous, somewhat pretentious shag palace, perfect for all the London media types that Brighton attracts and the sort of place that I adore staying in. 

I’m sorry, just shoot me now.

 

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I was very much enjoying my wander through Rashid’s trademark colours, curves and kitsch (and fishtanks) until I came across this picture.

 

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Isn’t this the scariest, most nightmare-inducing hotel room you’ve ever seen? Imagine waking up and seeing that across the way. They’ll be decorating rooms with clowns next.

   

11 March 2011

Owls - Yay or Nay?

 

As you may remember I’m rather inexplicably – given that in real life I’m a bit phobic about birds -  into owls round these parts.

Commenter eM, on the other hand, said in a post below that a surfeit of owls is one of the reasons she’s stopped reading design blogs.

 

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Twitwooshkas – fabulous papier mache nesting owls from Niki Jones in the UK. They’re handpainted in Northern India and cost £100. I’m sorry but I still like these.

 

What say you? Has the owl motif reached overload? Are other birds acceptable?  Do I have to give up my dream of ‘Aviary’ wallpaper? Are we all just hipsters with scarcely an original thought?

 

All profound thoughts for a Friday. I’m still rather shaken by news from Japan. Sobering to think how fragile life is around the Pacific Rim. Count your blessings today. Every. Single. One.

09 March 2011

Go Fug Your Showhouse – Elle Decor

 

Elle Decor recently created its first showhouse in a San Francisco suburb – working with ten different Bay Area interior designers to ‘turn a classic 1920s Mediterranean-style home into a showcase for contemporary style’.

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That’s some beautiful house isn’t it? Unfortunately these designers seemingly run the gamut of decorating styles from boringly humdrum, via fussy and old fashioned through to suicidally depressing, and managed to transform the house into something not only monstrously ugly, but, to my eye at least, not remotely representative of San Francisco style.

I’m really interested to here what Bay Area peeps in particular think of this. 

 

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The living room was created by Gary Spain, and all the heavy, gloomy clutter, weird artifacts and strange cross-cultural references makes it look like a junk room at the British Museum.  And those dark wing-backed chairs would make even the Dowager Duchess of Downton uncomfortable.  In fact the whole thing looks about as relaxing as a dentist’s waiting room. Like the black fireplace though.

 

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The TV watching area of Erin Martin’s media room below at least has some wow factor – I like the screen and that curved chair -  but all the darkness is making me want to switch on my lightbox.  Does all the black really say San Francisco to you?

 

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The other end of the room with its huge spider (is that what it’s supposed to be?) light fitting  and hideously uncomfortable seating area and mirrored fireplace is, however, the stuff of nightmares.

 

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If the unremitting terror and gloom is getting too much then you can always escape to Will Wick’s library. Except that is probably the most scarily gloomy and depressing room of all. AND it has a zebra-stripe rug. Seriously didn’t that decorating ship sail a very long time ago?  But no matter, it also features a helpful saw thingy in an alcove, making it super easy to kill yourself, or at the very least add authenticity to games of Cluedo.

 

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Steven Volpe’s dining room is another unremittingly cheerful place – you can just hear the stylist yelling for ‘oranges’, ‘maple leaves’ ‘ANYTHING’  to relieve the gloom.  But at least you know that extra light bulbs would make a thoughtful hostess gift.

 

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The house’s vampires should avoid the breakfast nook decorated by Palmer Weiss, as here at least the sun is visible and the chairs are lovely.  But the birdcage light, ferns on columns and busy curtains make this look contemporary to 1911 rather than this century.  Or is Downton Abbey spearheading an Edwardian revival?

 

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And I’m so relieved to see a little bit of colour in this home office designed by Kendall Wilkinson, that I’ll forgive it its totally impractical and uncomfortable seating.

 

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I suppose Jay Jeffers master bedroom is not too bad in a personality-free luxury hotel sort of way.  I do like the artwork above the bed and the interesting bedside lamps. Note that the turquoise bench at the foot of the bed provides a little pop of colour, but mysteriously disappears in the image below.

 

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While the Dowager Duchess would be right at home in this guest bedroom by Suzanne Tucker. Contemporary style, really? Really?

 

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The decorating cliches are back in force in this room for a teenage girl, with more zebras, and a brightly coloured Moroccan pouf. And I’m sorry, but covering up a stunning De Gournay wallpaper with framed pictures of RPatz has to rank as one of the worst possible decorating crimes against humanity.

 

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So what say you?  Does this house showcase the best contemporary design in San Francisco and the US? Or is it just fugly? 

 

 

Pictures from Elle Decor, Casa Sugar and Merida

04 March 2011

The Minx’s Bedroom

 

Pssst!  Want to peak inside the Minx’s newly painted bedroom?

 

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In the end we decided to go for a Maxtrix loft bed with girly playhouse panels and a slide.  It’s not as cool and funky as those other loftbeds, but it was within our budget and has potential to be raised higher with a desk underneath when the Minx is older.  The full interchangeable Maxtrix system - comprising beds, slides, ladders, playhouse and castle panels, desks, shelving, trucklebeds and underbed storage is available here. We ordered online and were delighted with their quick delivery and excellent customer service. The bed arrived in eleven separate boxes, so you need to have someone who’s handy with a screwdriver in the house, but is sturdy and well made for flat-pack furniture. Most importantly the Minx and her friends absolutely adore it.

 

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The colour scheme for the rest of the accessories is a bit more pastel and girly than I would necessarily like, but it was somewhat dictated by the pastel bed curtains. I was ecstatic with how well her old accessories fitted into the scheme.

The cool lights above the bed are from Ikea, the sheer curtains with pink ribbon details are from the Land of Nod, the quilt and pillow is from Pottery Barn, the green circular rug and the daisy rugs were, I think from Target, but I can’t find them online, and the family portrait was commissioned from Auntie Cookie.  The knotty pine chest of drawers was bought at a junk shop in the UK years ago though we added glass knobs from Chloe Alberry on Portobello Road. The embroidered sampler above was picked up on Ebay.

 

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The chandelier was another Ebay find. You can’t see very well, but it has little green and pink glass daisies on it and it makes a super cool shapes on the ceiling. The pink daisy flowers make everything glow pinkly when lit.

 

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The pink rocking chair by NurseryWorks came from Tottini in Seattle, though I don’t particularly recommend it as it has a very violent and potentially dangerous rock.  The daisy cushion came from some sidewalk sale and the pistachio green beaded cushion featuring a fluffy Westie with a pink diamante’ necklace is from mirrormirror. The fairy wings are from the Minx’s extensive collection.

 

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The Minx is a voracious reader, so underneath the bed we put the mattress from her old bed, her Land of Nod bookshelf, various blankets and cushions and another Ikea Smila Blomma light, this time in white.

I love this because it hides the not very aesthetically pleasing bookshelf (we’re lucky enough to have a separate playroom for her, so toy storage in the bedroom is not an issue). 

The Minx just told me that she loves it because she gets to read in peace without having to listen to me yelling.  The cats also love it, but they haven’t told us why.

 

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It also glows very excitingly in the dark.

 

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Before pictures are here.  

01 March 2011

Things I Am Loving - Aviary Wallpaper

 

Phew! I think I’ve just about got the Oscars out of my system.  I was on the brink of comparing Nicole Kidman to an armadillo, but stopped myself just in time.

In other news, Liberty London Girl just tweeted about the fabulous wallpaper in the bathrooms at the Soho Grand Hotel in NYC.

 

Steinberg Aviary Wallpaper

 

It’s called Aviary by F Schumacher, and the pattern was designed by Saul Steinberg, who was a cartoonist for The New Yorker in the 1950s.

Here is is in situ at the Soho Grand.   I may have to stay here next time I’m in NYC, just so I can sit in the bathroom.

 

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This wallpaper needs to be in my life somehow as a matter of urgency.  Time to work on the downstairs bathroom? It’s also available at Decorator’s Best.

{Found via Liberty London Girl’s Tumblr.  Additional pictures via Remodelista and Tea For Joy}

   

26 January 2011

Downton Abbey – On Location at Highclere Castle

 

Late last autumn the UK part of my Twitter feed started buzzing with chatter about Downton Abbey, a new ITV period drama, set in the halcyon years of the Edwardian era just before the outbreak of the First World War.

 

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We managed to er, acquire it just after Christmas and loved it, though it hit every single ‘missing England like crazy’ button I possess.

It’s a typically English class-ridden frothy costume drama, about the fictional aristocratic Crawley family and their servants, with a fine, witty script by Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park); Maggie Smith, being Maggie Smith at her most imperious; a stellar cast of well-known British actors and ridiculously exquisite costumes.  It’s currently being shown in the US, and the US part of my Twitter feed is now similarly alive with love for it.

The star of the show though, is Downton Abbey itself, or more properly the splendidly overwrought Highclere Castle in Berkshire, the seat of the Earls of Carnarvon, which was rebuilt in 1842 in High Elizabethan style, by Sir Charles Barry after he’d finished building the Houses of Parliament.  The gorgeous park is by Capability Brown.

Here are some of the spectacular locations – the costume designers and camera folk must have thought they’d died and gone to heaven.  Literally every frame is a visual feast.  The last episode airs on Sunday in the US, but I think it’s available to download from iTunes and from PBS.org.  A new series is coming this autumn.

 

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More stunning photos of the locations are here

20 January 2011

Life Calendars - BrigadaCreativa

 

I’m trying to work out whether these ingenious poster-sized Life Calendars from BrigadaCreativa are a fabulous or downright scary idea.

 

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You can start on any day of the year, and every day you fill in the appropriate emoticons until you end up with detailed pictorial record of your year, before your eyes.  In black and yellow.

 

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Even more terrifying is the The Love Calendar, where you’re supposed to fill in portions of the hearts according how much conversation, caresses, time together and sex you've had with your partner that day.

 

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I can see this becoming exhibit one in divorce cases the world over.

 

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If you’re brave enough to get one of these, (and I’m actually tempted to get the emoticon one, as it would certainly be extremely revealing), they’re available from Brigada Creativa’s Etsy shop. Go on, I dare you!

   

12 November 2010

Go Love Your Trailer Park – Hicksville Trailer Palace

 

You already know how much we love Joshua Tree, but the person who decided to build a trailer park motel there with themed trailers, secluded swimming pool and recording studio (just in case you have an album to make) was clearly a genius. Hicksville Trailer Palace, I salute you!

 

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amenities.courtyardThe Fifi would definitely be the Minx’s trailer of choice, though the Husband would need to keep a firm grip on his masculinity. Though glowing wig heads would make up for all the frou frou I suspect.

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I could live out my fantasy of living in an Airstream in the Integratrailer, though the interior does seem a little subdued. It apparently comes with its own alien communication system though.

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And I also like the look of the Lux, which apparently comes with its own library of horror movies, which I would NOT be watching stuck in the middle ofJoshua Tree. At night.

 

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The other amenities look more fun than normal camping too.

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And can you imagine how spectacular it would be sitting out under all those stars?

 

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{All images from www.hicksville.com and their Facebook page. Found via the Divine Ms T at Whorange}

04 November 2010

Go Fug Your Room? – Paola Navone

 

Oh we haven’t done one of these for ages, have we? So let’s get our bitchpants critical thinking caps on and get to work.

 

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My first name, courtesy of my Italian mother, has always been a source of great consternation to me – as so few people in either the UK or America have any clue how to pronounce or spell it (for the record, say ‘Pow-la’ in your best Italian accent and you’ll come pretty close) and I’ve had some pretty creative versions of both over the years.

Because my name is so unusual in English-speaking countries (Paolas are ten a penny in Italy) I’ve always had a soft spot for famous Paolas such as er, Queen Paola of Belgium and Italian product designer Paola Navone.  In the latter case, it’s not just because of her illustrious name, but also because she designs some super cool stuff.

So I was very excited when September’s Livingetc featured her Milanese apartment – an old Parmesan cheese warehouse that was apparently in miserable condition until Navone recently rescued it.

 

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The problem is that I’m not exactly thrilled by the interior design. The overlapping blues and greys, are beautiful in and of themselves, but there’s just too darn much blue everywhere and, coupled with all the hard tiling on floor and ceiling, it just looks so cold and uncomfortable, like living inside an icecube. 

That might be appropriate in Morocco, or Greece, but I’ve spent a lot of time in Milan, and in winter it is often as dank, cold and foggy as Sarah Palin’s brain.  The ceramic Moroccan stools;  smooth, shiny Moroccan pouffes and Asian ceramic busts only add to the chill. Am I the only person who wants to add some snuggly orange cushions or thick, shaggy deep red rugs to the mix?

Also, and this is probably just me, there’s just a bit too much Moroccan going on in here.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Moroccan design in and of itself and I love combining elements from an eclectic mix of cultures in a single space, as Navone mostly does to great effect. But the pasha’s boudoir above has strayed into ‘theme-bar’ territory and the Asian busts just seem incongruous and out of place.

 

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But the real story here is the monotone colour. The blue is absolutely unrelenting, permeating every room in the apartment, though she goes wild and adds a little green to the kitchen, which, I’ll admit, I would kill several close family members to have in my house.

 

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In isolation, each of these rooms is beautiful, as are many of the pieces in them. It’s just that the whole just seems so chilly and hard and the monotones are just well, monotonous.  I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the stylist had to, both literally and figuratively, turn the fire on, so as to liven up the spread.

 

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You may be interested in Paola Navone’s other houses. Her Greek island home, which is a study in white,  is here and her stunning Paris apartment, which is mostly white, with pops of colour, is here.  I am obviously not remotely insanely jealous of anyone who has homes in Paris, Milan and Greece.

03 November 2010

Things I Am Loving – Cheryl Maeder Photography

 

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Cheryl Maeder carefully controls focus, blur and colour in her photos to create impressionistic but fleeting glimpses of an idyllic world – childhood nostalgia in art form.

I have no real idea how she does these. But they make me want to grab my camera and start experimenting right away.

 

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You can buy Cheryl’s photos or check out her ‘Dreamscapes’ portfolio here.

29 October 2010

Fancy Hotel of the Week – Hotel Triton, San Francisco

 

One of the very nicest things about the Husband’s job is that he occasionally gets to travel to San Francisco on business, which makes it much cheaper and easier for us to organise a long weekend.  So that’s where we were at the beginning of the week.  Yep, lucky doesn’t even begin to describe it.

The Hotel Vitale was fully booked this time, so we instead got a room at the fabulously located Hotel Triton – just steps from the Chinatown gate and three minutes walk from Union Square.  It’s a smallish hotel with limited amenities and doesn’t even have a restaurant, though it shares its building with the excellent French-style brasserie Cafe de la Presse, which serves thick frothy cappuccinos and French patisserie as good as any I’ve had in France, as well as authentic-looking French brasseries staples such as French onion soup and croque monsieur. 

 

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Architecturally the building isn’t anything to write home about but, boy, have they made the most of what they have – going wild with vibrant pop art wallpapers, crazy colourful upholstery and weird and wonderfully shaped accent pieces (though the rooms themselves are a little more restrained).

It was as if it had been designed by Mondo from Project Runway while high on the waccy baccy (and speaking of whom, what the bloody hell happened last night?)

Needless to say the Minx and I both adored it – particularly as the reception area came complete with Romy the very cute puppy, whom the Minx insisted on ‘training’ by throwing his ball around the lounge, chasing round all available pillars and grossly overfeeding on dog biscuits.  The little rubber ducks in the outside water feature were another Minx-friendly addition.  Such a kid and dog friendly design hotel is a rare gem indeed.

 

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All in all we loved this enough to go back, despite a mix-up at the beginning which meant that the kid-friendly room we’d booked was not available when we arrived amid torrential rain and all very tired after an early start. 

To be fair to the hotel they did offer us one of their ‘celebrity suites’ – the Haagen Dazs room, but it didn’t have a sofabed for the Minx (why don’t all hotels automatically put sofabeds in all their rooms?) And also, to be honest, my waistline does NOT need a hotel room where the key attraction is a huge freezer full of unlimited FREE Haagen Dazs.  You however, may disagree.  The Minx probably would too if she’d had any idea what we turned down.

In the end we got the more spacious kid-friendly room we wanted (space is such a premium when there’s three of your in a room), the hotel apologised, we thoroughly enjoyed the rest of our stay and I’m happy to recommend the hotel as a great place to stay in San Francisco.

Enjoy the crazy pretty.

22 October 2010

Go Love Your Shop – Kate Spade Pop-Up Shop

 

The Kate Spade brand is not well known in the UK, but that should all change with their new month long pop-up shop in London’s Covent Garden.

If ‘mirrormirror’ were ever to turn into a physical bricks and mortar shop then this is exactly how I envisaged it in my mind.  In fact forget about shopping, I just want to move in and live there.

Of course the stunning Georgian house with a its gracious staircase and light, bright rooms provides the perfect backdrop to all the pretty – does anyone fancy lending me £10 million?

 

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More pics here and fab vid below.

Have any of you Londoners been yet?

14 October 2010

Go Love Your Office - Etsy HQ

 

Once upon a time when the Internet was still young and I was working as a management consultant, I remember musing with a few folks that it would be a great idea to set up a ‘shopping engine’ for craftspeople and artists to give them a standard template shop under one umbrella and save them the hassle of setting up their own websites and doing their own independent marketing.

Yes, things would be very different round here if I’d held that thought and founded Etsy, rather than just sitting on my arse.

Perhaps I would be working in gorgeous offices such as these. Etsy’s HQ in Brooklyn has been designed by Hangar Design Group to reflect the quirky, colourful, handmade nature of the brand and decorated using many pieces commissioned or bought from Etsy sellers. 

 

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Those lamps are incredible, does anyone know where they were sourced? I’ve been searching everywhere. And I love the crochet granny blankets on the wall.

 

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The combination of geeks and gingham is such a winner I find.

 

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Junkprints installed the record wall

 

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The desks are all handmade. And see the ‘Craft’ area to the left below? Every office should have one.

 

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Plush toy makers Zooguu designed the individual phone rooms. This has made the Husband and I are consider installing a British phone booth door chez nous, though for the full authentic touch I hope the room beyond stinks of stale urine and cigarettes.

 

 

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Seriously, there are about a thousand fabulous ideas to steal in all this, though I am left wondering whether all the geeky programmers feel comfortable in this space – in the startups I’ve worked at, the geek squad seemed to think pizza boxes and beer cans were decorative objects.

{via SwissMiss}

09 October 2010

Brunch at the Corson Building

 

A few weeks ago the Husband had a rather big birthday, so in the course of what felt like weeks of celebrating we went for brunch at the Corson Building here in Seattle.

The Corson Building does its best to feel more like an underground dining experience than a standard restaurant. There is a changing calendar of events and no fixed menu, just whatever the kitchen feels like cooking that day from fresh seasonal and local ingredients, many picked from the kitchen garden.

The building itself is old, quirky and beautiful, the likes of which you see only rarely in not-very-historic Seattle. The food is by and large delicious, though be warned that you don’t get traditional egg and maple syrup-laden brunch fare (much to the Minx’s chagrin).  Instead are salads and cake, yogurt, cheese and fruit, with a small menu of main dish options – I had a roasted tomato tart which was one of the best things I’ve eaten in a long while.

But for me it was all about the space and the decor – the prettiest restaurant in Seattle and the sort of place where you could point your camera in any direction and feel like you’d painted a watercolour.

Sit down and enjoy the pretty.

 

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21 September 2010

Things I Am Loving – Mary Katrantzou Spring 2011

People often say that what’s seen on the catwalk will show up pretty soon in interiors, but it’s not so often that interiors inspiration shows up on the catwalk.

Greek designer Mary Katrantzou gave her first stand-alone collection at London Fashion Week, taking as her inspiration old pictures from The World of Interiors and Architectural Digest.

 

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Katrantzou heightened the colour and symmetry of the images in creating her digital prints, ending up with surreal but stunning patterns, colour combinations and abstractions.

She then went a step further by embellishing her prints with interiors-inspired accessories – chandelier necklaces, pelmet shoulders and curtain-like drapery, though it does start getting a bit silly when she goes into lampshades-as-skirts.

I adore these to pieces and would wear one of those little suits in a heartbeat if I were much taller, younger and skinnier and had been invited to a swanky gallery opening or some such. I’d also love to be able to buy the prints themselves to hang on the wall, or maybe made into separates or bags. And I bet Katy Perry is wetting her knickers just looking at these pics.

Magical stuff.

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The whole collection is worth looking at here. I first found it on my beloved TLo. {All images by Yannis Vlamos / GoRunway.com via Style.com}

Oh and it’s lovely to see from all the London Fashion Week reports, that the old Eurostar terminal at Waterloo is being put to good use. I loved that architecture.