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96 posts categorized "Interior Styling"

02 December 2011

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.

09 November 2011

Scary Things In Bedrooms

 

Remember when I posted this nightmare-inducing room from MyHotel in Brighton earlier this year? 

 

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Well, I was reminded of it yesterday when I caught a glimpse of the nursery Christina Aguilera had decorated for her son Max. (I know this is old, but I didn’t see it when it came out).

 

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That child is going to need years of therapy.  Is this a trend?

05 November 2011

Teensy Wee Chairs

 

Now that we’ve got Halloween out of the way, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas.

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Ha! April Fool! (Or whatever the November equivalent is).  I refuse to even think about Christmas until the beginning of December.  However I was waylaid on my Facebook by these cute chair ornaments from CB2 and I was wondering how I could justify buying some.

They’re a bit too modern to go with our other tree decorations and to be perfectly honest don’t really say ‘Christmas’ to me at all, which might be a good thing as they can be used in other ways.  But how? Nicole at Making It Lovely is going to use them as porch furniture in the dollshouse she’s decorating.

I think they look great, if a little random, used here for table decorations.  I might get a couple just to sit on our living room shelves. redreedchairrarednrXMBH11

Anyone else got any bright ideas?

Here I am at 10pm on a Friday night writing a blog post.  NaBloPoMo is not getting off to a particularly auspicious start.  And I’m apparently supposed to be blogging over the weekend too. Whose silly idea was this?

01 October 2011

Corners of our House - Missoni Cube

 

I thought you might like to see how nice the Missoni for Target cube looks in situ. 

 

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I am so pleased with it.  It’s sturdily built and covered in printed cotton canvas with a cool contrast piping detail and provided a useful extra bit of seating at a recent dinner party.  If Target manages to get more in stock it seems well worth the money.  In fact I’d go as far as to say that it might even be worth braving eBay to get hold of one (or one of the other fabulous designs). Apartment Therapy agrees with me.

 

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Unfortunately there’s nothing like putting taking photos of a corner of the house to highlight stuff that still needs to be done. Highest priority currently is replacing the ugly-ass front door and I still need to do something about the jellyfish light fixtures and find a striking bit of artwork for above the sofa.  I’ve also been looking for a throw to cover up the huge telly (given that our basement with TV room remodel is not looking like it will be done any time soon).  This could be the perfect opportunity to actually start crocheting the Babette blanket, instead of just hoarding yarn for it.

 

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Still, it’s looking a heckuva lot better than it used to.

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.

18 August 2011

Fancy Hotel of the Week – Melenos Lindos

 

Ha! You thought you’d got away with no more Greek holiday snaps. Unfortunately it remains my intention to bore you all into submission. After all, what else is a blog good for?

I mentioned that we liked to stay in little unassuming hotels while in Greece, but we decided to break that rule for the first few days by booking into the Melenos Lindos, high in the acropolis of the ancient town of Lindos in Rhodes. This hotel gets so many fabulous mentions, that it seemed churlish not to try it out.

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Images from hotel website

Unfortunately they contacted us a few days before we left and said that there had been a double booking and they had no space for us.  They pulled out all the stops to secure alternative accommodation (which, thanks to its enormous swimming pool and spacious grounds was actually much more suitable for the Minx) and offered us a free dinner on their beautiful outdoor dining terrace.

Architect Anastasia Papaioanou and Australian artist-designer Donald Green worked together to recreate a traditional  multi-levelled, multi-terraced Lindian mansion, decorated in a timeless way using traditional local crafts and antiques.

Here are some of my photos from our dinner, supplemented by the couple above from the hotel’s website, as I didn’t have my wide-angled lens with me.

Enjoy the spectacularly pretty.

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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.

04 May 2011

Fancy Hotel of the Week - L’Auberge Del Mar

 

We wanted to go to Southern California this year to a) escape the miserable Seattle ‘spring’ (I use this term loosely) b) visit my elderly aunt in Dana Point, an hour or so’s drive south of LA and c) take the Minx to Disneyland.

I was told by friends on Twitter and Facebook that Del Mar was fun and it was suggested that we try the newly-refurbished L’Auberge Del Mar. When we discovered that my very favourite discounted fancy hotels travel site www.luxurylink.com was offering a deal, our fate was sealed.

And we had the most wonderful time.

L’Auberge Del Mar is a historic hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean and right on Del Mar’s attractive main street.

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The hotel was completely refurbished in 2008 by interior designer Barclay Butera who has done a great job bringing a historic building bang up to date.

We were lucky enough to have a room overlooking the main courtyard of the hotel, which was been designed as a series of little ‘rooms’, cabanas, terraces and courtyards centered around the small but luxurious pool and jacuzzi area. There’s the kicking Bleu Bar, a scenic terrace for breakfast and informal suppers, cosy hidden cabanas and even space for weddings, all with an ocean view.

 

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The themes of the décor are soft and muted sage-y greens, brown and white stripes and the most breathtakingly lush white planting – white roses everywhere you turn, undulating seas of fragrant jasmine, and hedges of rosemary and box.  

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To be perfectly honest we hardly left the hotel all week.  The place comes into its own at night, when the surfers come in from the beach and le tout Del Mar comes out to party. We dined one evening in the hotel’s top notch restaurant Kitchen 1540, where the cured meats, golden beet salad and frozen key lime pie will live on in my memory. We drank superlative cocktails at the Bleu Bar every night. The hotel is beautifully lit with fires and burners everywhere to take the chill off the evening air as the sun sets over the ocean.

The internal décor is luxurious too – all sage greens, soft browns, seashells and comfy seating.  I loved the ridiculously rococo shell-encrusted side tables, the beautiful mother-of-pearl smothered lamps, the green toile cushions and the enormous shell planters full of orchids.

There were little touches of wit and humour everywhere – the wait staff had foodie quotations printed on their tee-shirts and Sofie, Kristy the Marketing Coordinator’s pretty little dog, had a sign at the front desk telling us when she was ‘working’ and available for cuddles. 

 

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Finally, and most importantly for us, L’Auberge trod that extremely fine line between being super relaxed and kid-friendly (with unbelievably kind staff and a great kids’ menu) and sophisticated and happening enough for grown-ups – thanks to a fabulous bar, gorgeous spa and secluded lap pool. The Minx adored it and the Husband and I are longing to return.

Truly I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

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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}

   

07 February 2011

Goldilocks and the Sky Blue Ceiling

 

Welll, that was trickier than I thought it would be.

Last Friday the walls of the Minx’s room were painted in Benjamin Moore’s White Vanilla and from the picture rail upwards in BM’s Morning Sky Blue. However, when it was done, the ceiling read much lighter than the tops of the walls and looked more like a greyish white than a true blue. 

So then we painted just the ceiling and not walls in the next darkest colour- Benjamin Moore’s Tear Drop Blue. And this time the ceiling was very obviously a darker blue than the tops of the walls.

So finally we mixed Morning Sky Blue and Tear Drop Blue in about equal percentages and again painted just the ceiling. And this time it was just right. 

 

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It’s interesting how the angle of the light changes everything. 

Here’s a reminder of what the room looked like before. That purple (chosen by the previous owners) could look very dark and forbidding on a gloomy Seattle day, such as we have very occasionally in the winter months (hahahahahahahahaha).

 

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There’ll be more updates from the Minx’s room as we piece it all back together and assemble her super duper big girl loft bed.

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

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}

08 November 2010

All About Me – Jonathan Adler Mod Model Pillow

 

One of the things I enjoyed most on our recent trip to San Francisco was visiting the Fillmore neighbourhood (thanks Victoria SFGirlByBay for the recommendation!).

 

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It reminded me a lot of my adored Notting Hill (still my spiritual home) – the quirky restaurants and shops, the people milling about (unusual to see in the US), even the colours of the white stucco buildings.

Fabulous interiors stores included Nest, Zinc Details and Jonathan Adler. Yes, I finally got to visit an actual real life Jonathan Adler store, as such as thing has not yet materialised in Seattle.

I was doubly thrilled when I got there as they now have the ‘Mod Model’ cushions back in stock.  I’d added her to my Christmas list two years ago, but she she sold out too quickly, never to return until now. 

I’ve thought about her a lot in the intervening two years, so this time we snatched her up even though she is fiendishly expensive. I’m a great believer in buying stuff you’re slightly obsessed with, whatever the cost.  It works out more economically in the long run than buying a lot of cheap stuff that doesn’t quite float your boat. Or that’s what I tell myself anyway.

Here she is on our new sofa. She is very charismatic – like a portrait whose eyes follow you around the room.

 

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I thought you might also like to see some pics of the Minx really, really, REALLY enjoying shopping at Jonathan Adler. (Though we already know she is a great fan of JA’s hubby Simon Doonan).

 

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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.

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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05 October 2010

Things I am Loving – Living Dolls House

 

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Once up a time Canadian artist Heather Benning, then the local artist-in-residence in Redvers, Saskatchewan, decided to create a real-life dolls house art installation.

She acquired a derelict, isolated farmhouse on the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border, rolled up her sleeves and set to work.

 

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She had the interiors painted in 1960s pastels; furnished the house with vintage 1960s furniture from the time when the house had last been inhabited and loved; and had huge plexiglass windows installed to one side.

 

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And created the house of many a grown-up little girls’ dreams (except perhaps for the huge Plexiglass windows).

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                                                    THE END

{From the Jealous Curator, via sfgirlbybay’s Tiwitter}

29 September 2010

Thing I Am Loving – Erin Flett Pillows

 

What a shame my birthday has just passed, as I’m rather enamoured of these and can think of quite a few places they’d fit in our house. I may have to sneak one or two in.

The cushions are hand silk-screened on sturdy barkcloth by graphic designer Erin Flett in a variety of gorgeous on trend colours.

 

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I think this chair is crying out for one, don’t you? Going to see if I can get some in the shop too. Find Erin at www.erinflett.com and buy her pillows on Etsy.

 

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26 July 2010

Go Fug Your Room – Sebastian Conran

 

Or, when designers don’t decorate.

I opened my new copy of Livingetc with some excitement as the front cover promised me an ‘at home with Sebastian Conran’.  I knew he had one of those huge Victorian wedding cake houses in Notting Hill and this would surely provide some great material for a ‘Go Love Your Room’ post.

For those of you in the US who may be unaware of them, the Conrans are pretty much design royalty in the UK.  Designer Sir Terence Conran founded the Habitat chain and the Conran Shop, has published a series of seminal works on interior design and owns a string of beautifully-designed, fabulous food-serving restaurants in London. He almost single-handedly dragged Britain out of the chintzy Fifties into the fab Sixties interiors-wise and has been a giant on the UK design scene ever since.

His children from various marriages are also successful designers and foodies in their own right – fashion designer Jasper, Notting Hill restaurateur Tom, interior designer and foodie Sophie and product designer Sebastian.

Sebastian is well-known as a product designer, probably most famously as the design brains behind Nigella Lawson’s Living Kitchen range, though as you can see from his website he has a number of great products to his credit.

 

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And there’s no denying that he’s got some great STUFF.  Wink chairs, Le Corbusier lounger, antique rugs, Arco lamp, interesting art, iconic Sex Pistols  and the Clash poster artwork (designed by Conran as a student).

 

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AND there’s no denying that he has, as you’d expect, paid a lot of attention to detail. The units, for example,  are painted in a colour Sebastian created from a gouache of stainless steel, “I wanted a shade that had the same tonal value as the metal to give cohesion to the mix of materials”.  A lot of remodelling has been done – hallways widened, door frames raised, huge French doors installed at the back and the sightlines adjusted to make sure the vistas through the house were perfectly aligned.

 

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And yet, and yet, I can’t help feeling that this looks a bit like a student bedsit, with white walls, mismatched chairs, posters on the walls and rumpled rugs (albeit a student with access to a phenomenal amount of money).

Everything seems somewhat haphazard and studiously UNdecorated – no interesting curtains or cushions (except in the bedroom and you can bet they belong to the stylist), no unifying colour scheme or much colour of any description, no flashes of wit, no striking arrangements, no interesting light fixtures. It’s the home of someone who celebrates form and function over everything and as such seems both curiously sterile, strangely uncohesive and not particularly comfortable.

What do you guys think?

 

 
 
{All images and Sebastian Conran quotes from Livingetc August 2010}

23 July 2010

Things I Am Loving - Janne Peters Photography

 

Anyone who combines food, photography and yarn has to be all right in my book.

 

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Do check out the rest of her portfolio, it’s stunning.

21 July 2010

Things I Am Loving - Moomin Wallpaper

 

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The Minx and I spent a lot of time on our recent holiday reading Finn Family Moomintroll (which was aces, just as cool and fabulous as I remembered it) and I’m wishing I had the courage to decorate my kitchen with these gorgeous wallpapers from Photowall (though it looks like you’ll need to grapple with Swedish to buy them).

 

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As an aside, can anyone recommend good chapter books for a five year old ? We’re currently hugely enjoying Junie B Jones, who regularly makes us cry laughing, but I’m finding it difficult to find books suitable for a fluent reader, but age-appropriate in content (and no, not the vile Rainbow Magic fairies, which the Minx utterly adores, and which I couldn’t loathe more if I tried).

19 July 2010

Fancy Hotel of the Week – Hotel du Clos

 

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On this particular trip we didn’t set out to stay in fancy boutique-y hotels  - our criteria were mostly cost, space for us and the Minx and proximity to beautiful locations, but we really lucked out with the first hotel we stayed in, booked at the very last minute through Splendia, a website specialising in characterful hotels.

The Hotel du Clos is in the little postcard-perfect village of Le Rouret, about 15 minutes from Grasse and 25 minutes from Nice and the bustle of the Riviera, and so a perfect place to relax after our long transatlantic flight to Nice (via Amsterdam).

 

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The hotel – and this is the reason I loved it so – combines the very best in traditional French charm and style with the odd touch of whimsy here and there, which made everything seem lighthearted, modern and fun and added oodles of character. Though frankly the buildings were so beautiful that additional character seemed almost unnecessary.

The rooms are each individually decorated, the staff were absolutely delightful and extremely welcoming to the Minx, and the same people who own the hotel also own a fabulous Michelin-starred restaurant, five minutes away in the village. So, I really can’t recommend this one highly enough.

 

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The bedroom featured the most beautiful fireplace and was  decorated in those overlapping shades of dove grey that the French do so well.

 

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  I loved the wall sticker of ‘books’ stacked up on the bedside table

 

 

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the Roman faces fabric on the cushions and curtains

 

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and the Perspex angel light fitting above our bed (with another angel peeking out in the bathroom).

 

 

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The traditional Provencal garden – fragrant with roses, jasmine and lavender -  was a big hit with a certain someone, who particularly loved the fabulously UNtraditional sculpture lurking among the olive trees.

 

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We ate epic breakfasts every morning on the beautiful terrace

 

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- the fromage blanc with rose syrup was a particularly big hit.

 

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In the mornings when I woke early through jetlag, I would knit on our balcony shaded by an ancient olive tree and listen to the sound of church bells and the kids singing in the school next door. 

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After breakfast we would head to the small but delightful stone pool, made particularly elegant by the use of very dark green tiles, which made it fit much more naturally into the garden landscape.

 

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And we all appreciated little touches such as the antique jelly moulds used as keyrings (and were sad not to get one of the three bears)

 

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and the papier mache cow in the reception area. 

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More photos from the Hotel du Clos, Le Rouret and Grasse, on my Flickr here.

I’m back. Sort of normal service will be resumed, though it’s school vacation and a busy time for ‘mirrormirror’ so other things also need to take priority. I’ve been missing you though.

16 June 2010

Go Fug Your Room - Carrie and Big’s Apartment

 

Well, we all know the movie’s crap – two of the best reviews here and here –  but what did we think of the set design?  Most specifically what about Carrie and Big’s new grown-up married folks apartment?

Carrie confesses in the film that over the past year or two she’s been ‘cheating on fashion for furniture’ and she’s been working with same designer, Lydia Marks, who also revamped her apartment in the first movie.

So let’s take a tour.

One of my main bugbears with this new apartment is the colour scheme, which is basically blue and brown. I know Carrie is trying to create an environment that Big will also feel at home in, but it just makes everything seem rather dark and depressing and yet again very not Carrie. I know she’s grown up now, but where’s the fun, the liveliness, the inventiveness, the eccentricity and the bohemia?

 

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The entrance way sets the tone for the whole, some great pieces – love the wallpaper and green glass bottle -  but just a little too fussy and cluttered and somehow old fashioned. Would Carrie really have a glass case of dead butterflies on display?

Entering the living room, I like this view of it. The Rug Company rug is beautiful, as is the coffee table, though, as in her old apartment, the sofa and chairs still seem rather more for 'perching’ than truly relaxing, though much is made in the movie of Big turning into a couch potato.  I think I like the gold painting though I can’t help thinking that Big and Carrie would have a more striking piece of modern art. 

 

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Paul Smith got an excellent bit of product placement in here with his ‘Birdie Blossom’ cushion, which Carrie is seen cuddling like a new lover.  It’s lovely, though I’m not sure the pattern really works here, but it does seem more authentically ‘Carrie’ than much of the rest of the stuff.  It’s also great to see all the books everywhere. One of the things we all complained about last time was the lack of books in bookworm Carrie’s apartment.

 

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From here though things go downhill faster than an Olympic skiier. This view of the sitting room is a cluttered and fussy as a pair of Queen Victoria’s bloomers.  There are just too many little pieces of furniture, too many patterns and too many little splashes of colour against horribly dark and serious walls.

 

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This little seating area seems especially ridiculous. Are Carrie and Big really going to sit here as if they were in doctor’s waiting room taking afternoon tea? Isn’t this the perfect spot for a huge comfortable reading chair facing out towards the view?

 

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I like the lighter fresher feel in the formal dining area. The Lee Jofa fabric works well and the light fitting is wonderful, though shelves could do with a bit of editing. It goes through to what I think must be the kitchen, though it seems rather impractical to cook in, and I would never, ever, EVER put a rug, however pretty, in space for cooking.  But maybe that’s just me.

 

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Looking to the left from the entrance hall we catch a glimpse of the bedroom, with another fabulous light fitting in the small library and beautiful Cole & Son wallpaper on the bedroom walls, which echoes the paper in the hall.

 

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Carrie makes a huge amount of fuss in this movie about Big’s purchase of a big TV for their bedroom, thus confirming a) that we were right that the big TV in Carrie’s old apartment was incongruous and out of character and b) the TV product placement people have a lot of money.

 

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The bedroom feels a bit ‘hotelly’, but I do like the way they’ve echoed the pattern on the wallpaper with the headboard.  And below we’ve got another lovely rug/useless seating area/boring artwork situation happening.

 

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The piece de resistance is naturally the closet, with ridiculously twee ‘his and hers’ sides.  I know people have been charmed by this conceit, but to me it looks as ludicrous as having two different his and hers sinks, one ‘feminine’ and one ‘masculine’ side by side in a bathroom. 

 

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Not bad shoe storage though. 

 

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(By the way Habitually Chic has put together a great post on where to source many of these pieces, including identifying the books that Carrie and Big are currently reading.)

 

So what do you think?  Additional comments hugely encouraged.

 

15 June 2010

All About Me – New Dwell Bedding

 

So the plan was that on Mondays I was going to keep you updated on something that’s been happening chez moi but our routine is all discombobulated at the moment due to the beginning of the interminable school summer vacation, so this week you’ll have to make do with Tuesday instead. Do feel free to change channels at this point.

As you already know I’ve recently become addicted to shopping sale site RueLaLa, a lot because they not only feature great sale boutiques by a host of designer clothing names, but also they have fabulous homewares brands as well.

One of my recent triumphs was a set of Dwell Studio bedlinen (two pillow cases plus a duvet cover) for the incredibly bargainaceous price of $99 (down from approx $300).

 

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I’m loving how well it goes with the Emma Gardner rug too, but I’m basically horrified by these photos. When we first moved into this house I swore that one of the first things I’d address was the horrendous sauna-like cladding of unfinished floorboards in the bed alcove, but here we are three years later and I’m LIVING WITH THEM.  The light fitting’s pretty sucky too.

Which just goes to show that when you move house you should get all those horrible jobs done quickly otherwise you’ll stop noticing the flaws until the time comes to post up photos of your bedlinen on the internet.

Not quite sure what to do with them to be honest.  The boards themselves are rough and unfinished but I’m dreading what removing them would reveal.  I think a coat of light grey/blue gloss paint is required pronto quick.

 

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Our crazy-ass 90s bed isn’t a good fit for this alcove either, but I’ve had it for about fifteen years now and sort of can’t bear to get rid of it.

What deeply embarrassing ugly features have you been living with for so long in your house that you’ve stopped noticing them?  Anyone brave enough to send/post up a photo?

Oh and if anyone still needs an invitation to RueLaLa, just click here and you too can go nearly bankrupt.

09 June 2010

Go Fug Your Room - Meg Ryan’s Beach House

 

I opened the most recent copy of Elle Decor with some trepidation.

The front cover promised views of Meg Ryan’s Martha’s Vineyard beach house, and given what she’s managed to do to her face, I was worried what would happen if she managed to get her hands on an actual house.

 

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No, not a young Joan Rivers

I was fretting needlessly though, as the house itself is very, very white,  very, very bland, the very epitome of quiet good taste, utterly devoid of personality and not at all what I was expecting.  Maybe that goofy, quirky schtick that Meg does in her movies really is acting after all?

I can see how for some people this might be a haven of peace and tranquility and the house certainly has excellent bones; but to me all the white seems absurdly unimaginative and would make me feel PROFOUNDLY uncomfortable.

 

 

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Can you imagine trying to eat pasta with sauce in this dining room?  I would have a nervous breakdown. Though I must admit to liking the table and the overall architecture of the room. And aren’t ghostly chair covers very passe’ anyway?

 

And you can just imagine the stylist on this shoot screaming at her assistant, ‘Flowers! Leaves! Fruit! Throws! Bombay Sapphire! Just rush to the shops and get me some COLOUR, dammit!’ And you just know the stylist also brought in that metal ‘FLOWERS’ thingy, though I do like that very much.

 

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I love the textures of these shelves and the fabulous wooden bench in the kitchen. Of course I would be terrified to actually cook in there.

 

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So, am I being unnecessarily harsh?  I don’t hate it but it’s quite a long way from what I’d do if I had eleventy million dollars to spend on a beach house. The view’s very lovely though and has awakened a hitherto unsuspected yearning to go to Martha’s Vineyard.

 

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So, your turn. Additional comments always welcome too.

 

Ha! So that bit of dynamic bloggery didn’t last long. My computer has been taken away to computer hospital to cure its severe case of  ‘fighter jet fan’  so I’m currently working off the home server which the Husband has set up for me. I didn’t even know you could do such a thing. But it’s not a terribly efficient set up, so posting may be a little light over the next few days.

In future every Tuesday will be ‘Go Fug Your Room’ day IF I can find enough subjects. If you see articles which might be good candidates for GFYR then do let me know. They need to feature decor which is at least somewhat controversial, and of course being snarky about celebrities or celebrity designers is always much more amusing than making fun of people we’ve never heard of.

05 May 2010

Jonathan Adler at Le Parker Meridien – Palm Springs

 

The last day of our trip to Palm Springs was also the only day we had grotty weather. It was sunny enough for swimming in the hotel pool until lunchtime, but then we checked out and went for lunch at the Parker, with interior design by Jonathan Adler.

From the moment we walked through the enormous orange front doors it was obvious we were in the presence of decorating GENIUS.

 

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Even the Minx thought so.

 

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To be fair Adler is definitely a decorator, not a designer and he does make it easy for himself. The building is not especially exciting and he hasn’t done anything particularly original with the space. Pretty much everything is painted white with dark wood floors, and the whole would be incredibly boring if it were empty.

But he has created the perfect backdrop for his superb vignettes of furniture and quirky accessories all topped off with his incredible sense of colour.

 

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Everywhere you turned there were little Adler-esque touches.

 

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The restaurant – Norma’s – was quite blandly decorated but the food was good and it’s obviously worth it to come here and have a bit of nose around the hotel.

 

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The outside spaces looked like they might be interesting, but by this time the weather was really closing in and it was time to get the hell out of Palm Springs.

 

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Just a quick word here in praise of Virgin America. We flew down the West Coast with them and it was such a pleasure to travel with an airline that was on time, had superbly pleasant customer service, fabulous seatback entertainment for everyone, and, to the Minx’s utter delight PINK and PURPLE interior lighting. Truly the key to a little girl’s heart.

 

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In other tales from our trip to Palm Springs, check out

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club here.

The Colony Palms Hotel here.

Out and About in Palm Springs here

The Aerial Tramway here.

Joshua Tree National Park here

 

21 April 2010

Colony Palms Hotel – Palm Springs

The second hotel we stayed in was the newly refurbished Colony Palms Hotel, fabulously located close to the centre of downtown Palm Springs.

Again we’d been a little wary of booking here – a bit concerned that it would be a little too strait-laced and respectable for the Minx.

Again we needn’t have worried, the hotel was utterly different from the Ace, with a more glamorous and intimate vibe, but there were still plenty of other kids there, the Minx loved the pool and the staff could not have been friendlier or more welcoming.

 

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The hotel was built in 1936 by a Palm Springs mobster and used to house both a speakeasy and a brothel. It has recently been extensively and expensively refurbished.  The building is in a more traditional Spanish colonial style focused around a gorgeous swimming pool and restaurant area and surrounded by lovely gardens full of secluded nooks and crannies.

It’s not my favourite style of architecture – where is the reasonably priced funky modernist kid-friendly hotel in Palm Springs? – but it was certainly hugely comfortable and luxurious.

The interior is by Martyn Lawrence-Bullard.  He’s used a lot of Spanish influences – coloured tiles, bright colours, spindly wrought iron  – and mixed in some Turkish, Moroccan and Indian elements – with graphic embroideries, Indian statues and Moroccan tables tucked into the corners.

 

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The hotel also has a pretty swanky poolside restaurant, the Purple Palm, attached, and the food was really good, the best we had in PS and that’s saying something.

 

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Our room featured an incredibly comfortable bed, with padded embroidered headboard; big bottles of spirits in the mini-bar; an enormous bathroom with painted cement floor; embedded Spanish tiles (which I stupidly forgot to photograph) and a roll top bath.  The cheesy photos of airbrushed models cavorting round the hotel were hilarious. I’m not sure if that was intentional.

 

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The location was excellent, within walking distance of lots of great shops and restaurants and with the prettiest view we saw of the neighbouring San Jacinto mountains.

 

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All in all it couldn’t be more different from the Ace and yet I’d recommend it just as much, and combining the two made for a really interesting Palm Springs overview.

See also

Out and About in Palm Springs

Ace Hotel & Swim Club, Palm Springs

20 April 2010

May The Plates Be With You

 

I am SO tempted to get a set of these for the Husband. Of course, they would secretly be for me, but he would never know. Just so super fab.

 

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Buy them at Beat Up Creations Etsy shop. {via Whorange’s Twitter feed} Find me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mirrormirrorxx

13 April 2010

Ace Hotel and Swim Club – Palm Springs

So we got up very early on Thursday morning, caught a 7.15 flight to LA, drove along the dusty freeway and were in Palm Springs by lunchtime – 88 degrees, brilliant blue skies, slight breeze blowing through the canyon. Bliss.

And this is where we stayed for the first two nights.

 

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We’d been slightly reluctant to book a room at the Ace as we’d heard that the ‘douchebag’ quotient was high, but actually we loved it (though it’s entirely possible that we’re also douchebags – god I love that word, the best ever American addition to the English language).  But we took the plunge due to its reputation for kid-friendliness and were glad we did.

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It has the same tremendously relaxed feeling that I love about Babington House in the UK (still my most favourite hotel in the whole world) – everything is supremely comfortable and luxurious, with great food, powerful showers, free bikes, soft towels, comfortable beds, hammocks and loungers everywhere, night time fireplaces, well-equipped gym, really helpful staff, well stocked bar etc. but it’s not not in the least bit, prissy or intimidating or fussy, which is really important when you’ve got a small child in tow.

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If anything for my taste it was a little bit too unfussy – the building is nothing special, just an old Palm Springs motel with stained concrete floors, metal trim and a ‘diner’ aesthetic, on which they’ve overlaid a bohemian ‘California hippie’ vibe with some quirky art pieces (the Minx loved the stuffed wolf wearing necklaces and the rattan elephant), kaftans instead of bathrobes, photos just pinned up haphazardly in the bedrooms and sturdy canvas or leather furnishings.  To be honest too, our bedroom was a bit of a disappointment – a good size and close to the pool – but very dark and gloomy during the day (thank goodness we weren’t there much).

 

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There were some cute design-y touches though – canvas sunshades that looked like satellite dishes, a pergola adorned with misters, coloured perspex on the windows of the gym, an interesting rope ‘curtain’ hanging in the lobby which looked great at night, a cavernous bar and outdoor showerheads painted the exact same shade of yellow as the flowers that surrounded them.

 

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As for kid-friendliness, well, the Minx just spent all of her time in the large shallow area of the incredibly inviting pool, playing with all the other kids who were staying and giving mummy and daddy a chance to swim, drink excellent margaritas and read. It’s not explicitly a kiddie-place (no babysitting or kids clubs) but there are plenty of kids there and the relaxed vibe suits them perfectly (the hotel was also absolutely full of dogs – who even have their own dog park). 

Kids-wise the only thing we would have changed was the food. Someone in the kitchen has a gone a bit crazy adding spicy this and spicy that to things on the menu, to the extent that we found it quite difficult to find things for the Minx to eat, even though she’s not a particularly fussy eater (just not that fond of chili peppers).  And would it harm hotels and restaurants to at least offer vegetables and fruits for kids? My kid can’t be the only one who actually eats such things can she?  It was a shame as the food for grown ups was fabulous, with an incredibly tempting menu, and they did make a mean mac’n’cheese for the Minx.

 

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{All pics copyright Paola Thomas 2010}

Overall we loved our stay here and would definitely return, though we were pleased to leave on the Saturday morning as the hotel suddenly changed into a gay version of Jersey Shore as lots of short muscle-y suntanned men moved in.  The hotel had neglected to tell us that they were hosting a weekend of parties for White Party weekend (a gay event, not a neo-fascist convention). Not a problem per se but the hotel did become markedly less relaxing when the music started pounding at 11am. (The Ace definitely becomes a party hotel at the weekend, so it’s definitely worth double checking to see whether they are hosting an event while you are staying).

That’s part one from Palm Springs.  It’s going to be Palm Springs ad nauseam here this week, I suspect.

15 March 2010

Go Love Your Room – New York Townhouse

 

The clocks going forward always leaves me feeling totally jetlagged – don’t these people realise how fragile my post-insomniac sleep patterns are? So let’s ease into the week gently with a great house from April’s Livingetc.

These crazy people apparently have seven kids. but they also have a design and property business and an amazing modern townhouse in New York.

I love how they’ve taken an ultra-modern, quite boxy building and filled it with a mixture of modern and vintage furniture and lots of colour against a monochrome backdrop.  Nothing new here, but it’s well done. I’m also spotting lots of familiar trends. Are you?

 

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Numbers in decor are clearly a very big thing right now. I do think they make things look edgier somehow.

Loving the floors, the rug by Paul Smith for the Rug Company and the artwork here.  Love the effect of the striped cushions juxtaposed with the ultra-feminine rug. The huge window apparently rolls onto the ceiling like a garage door, which must be so fabulously cool. I would be moving it up and down all day.

NOT much liking the colour scheme or the enormous Kelly green box the layout designers stuck on this. Much as I adore Livingetc as a magazine I do think their layout people could take lessons from Elle Decoration.

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Love, love, LOVING, the Murano glass chandelier in the ultra-modern kitchen. I’m not normally a fan of kitsch chandeliers like this but in this context it is utterly PERFECT.

 

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And haven’t we seen a Pearly Queen button picture in Livingetc before? I still want one rather desperately though.  I also have to wonder about all these British artefacts in a New York townhouse in a photospread aimed at the UK market.  Call me cynical, but is it possible that the rugs and artwork were all brought in by stylists? Surely not.

 

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I adore this girl’s bedroom. How many years will I have to wait for the Minx to get over her horrendous Disney Princesses and Tinkerbell phase and be ready to appreciate something like this?  I cringe every time I walk into her room.

 

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  Loving the his and hers desks here.

 

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Can only assume that these guys have another large New York townhouse somewhere in which to house all the clutter that must surely come with seven (SEVEN!!!!) children.

 

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Another Rug Company rug, this time by Diane von Furstenberg, and NO CLUTTER. Not even drawers by the bed.  Where on earth do they keep the KY Jelly?

Whilst peering at the above picture to look for KY Jelly, I noticed that the ‘7’ on the table by the bed is now backwards, which presumably means the photo has been flipped. It’s making my head hurt anyway.

10 March 2010

Mad Men Barbies AND Furniture

Be still my beating heart. (And poor exhausted credit card).

It’s been announced that Mattel will be bringing out a range of four ‘Mad Men’ Barbie and Ken dolls to promote the show’s return in July.  Full details here and here. You just know these’ll be all over every blog by lunchtime.

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If you do buy some, why not get them some furniture they’d really enjoy as well? Designer Maryann Roy builds one of a kind interior room sets for her collection of vintage Barbie dolls, which she also restores. Full details from her website here. All roomset images also from her website.

 

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UPDATE:  They’ve just gone up for pre-order HERE.  I’ve just ordered a Joan to be mirrormirror’s new office manager.  Now I need to get her a suitable retro chair so she can sit on my desk.

04 March 2010

Go Love Your Room – Raina Kattelson

One of the very best things about the Blogging Your Way course has been the opportunity to ‘meet’ a bunch of really fab bloggers.

One such is Raina Kattelson, a fashion and interiors stylist from the Hudson Valley in New York state.

Her blog is full of interesting find and thoughts, but I was most blown away when I saw pics of her house. Which I completely adore.  It’s already been featured on Design*Sponge and Poppytalk, but I wanted to share it here as well.

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Loving the green on the walls – works because everything else is simple and monochrome.

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Well, except for the stunning collection of vintage ceramics. Absolutely loving how she’s styled these shelves. 

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Love the little touches such as the place settings drawn on the table.

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Another great collection of vintage knitting needles – MUST get myself on Ebay - and great desk inspiration for the Office Project.

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Next job for us is getting the radiators stripped, though these are much lovelier than ours.

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Favourite bit of the whole house = the stencil on the floor. 

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Her daughter’s bedroom.  First ever use of chalkboard paint I actually like.

 

Isn’t it fantastic? Go and say hello to Raina over here. I’m feeling most inspired to finish painting the living room now.

{all pics courtesy of Raina Kattelson}

22 February 2010

The Office Project

I’m horrified to admit that this is the current state of mirrormirror’s intergalactic headquarters.

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I’m the first to admit that I’m not the world’s tidiest person, but even I can see that this is ridiculous and severely hampering my productivity.

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I’m giving myself three weeks to sort this out and turn it into a haven of tranquillity and humming productivity and doing little blog updates along the way.  Does anyone care to join me?  Just think how much happier you’ll feel. Link to a ‘before’ post on your blog below, and let the tidying and filing begin!

If you need inspiration take a look at Nicole Making It Lovely’s office.  I’m just going to read that and weep. 

If this gets a lot of interest, I’ll see if I can sort out a prize for the tidiest and most beautiful office.

11 February 2010

Lonny Magazine – or The Art of Arranging Clutter on Trays

 

So I peeked at the latest issue of Lonny magazine this morning. The good news is that it is better than the first issue. The bad news is that it still isn’t very good.

The layout and general design has improved and is cleaner and crisper. They’ve got rid of the fussily ornate boxes round various paragraphs and all the different fonts.  The houses featured are perhaps slightly more varied and eclectic - though they’re not exactly ground breaking in their originality. The photographs remain fabulous, and now you can click through to the stockists. They’ve got rid of the execrable fashion pages and the cover is slightly more appealing. In short they’ve worked on many of the things we pointed out when it first came out

But some major problems remain.  Firstly no one is editing the photos. They’ve still got a bad case of the  ‘just because it’s online we’ve thrown in every picture we took and you can choose which ones you like best’. Caagapture

OK, so it’s Prada, but why exactly is this arty close up of someone’s makeup bag doing in an interiors mag? Are you inspired by it? Or could the fact that you can click through to Saks Fifth Avenue from it be making for some clumsy product placement?

And the stylist has been working overtime – everything has been ‘styled’ to within an inch of its life. And I use the word stylist in the singular advisedly, because, with the exception of the Kelly Wearstler hotel spread (which is actually, incredibly, almost OK), every house ends up being full of exactly the same stylists’ tricks.

First up there’s, ARRANGE PRETTY CLUTTER ON TRAYS.

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The stylist even points that one out for us, and yes, it can be useful trick round the house. But there is such a thing as overkill. (And yes, these carefully styled images of pretty clutter on trays are all supposed to be from different houses).

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Another trick is PILE UP BOOKS AND MAGAZINES, PREFERABLY ON SOMEWHERE IMPRACTICAL LIKE A CHAIR OR WITH SOMETHING HEAVY LIKE A PLANT ON TOP SO THAT THEY CAN NEVER BE READ. (On this basis my bedside table is a work of stylistic genius).  Again this trick is somewhat overused, and again these are supposed to be different people’s houses.

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Other tricks I noticed.

ARRANGE LOTS AND LOTS OF LITTLE PICTURES IN CUTE GALLERIES ON THE WALLS

COVER EVERY CHAIR OR SOFA THAT ISN’T COVERED WITH BOOKS WITH CUSHIONS

HANG LOTS OF NECKLACES ON THINGS

but I’ll leave you to find examples of those for yourselves.

In other amazing coincidences. Most of the people whose houses are featured seem to have a penchant for turquoise necklaces.

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And Lonny people have very similar drinking habits. (Bar trays or ARRANGE PRETTY BOTTLES ON TRAYS is obviously a subset of ARRANGE PRETTY CLUTTER ON TRAYS).

Here are three different bar trays in three different houses. Notice any similarities?

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Other spooky similarities include the astonishing love of Ikat shared by the owners of different houses (particularly for Madeline Weinrib Ikat pillows it seems), the love of lucite lamps and light fixtures,  and the fact that they share many favourite brands, such as Diptyque and Louis Vuitton.

And therein lies the crux of the problem – Lonny is the product of a husband and wife team (and kudos to them for putting it together), but ultimately it shows. It reflects one person’s taste in interiors, one person’s photographic style, one person’s (somewhat cliche’d) approach to styling, and one person’s hamfisted approach to product placement, which ends up giving it a very bland uniformity throughout. They desperately need to get other stylists and photographers involved pronto quick (preferably ones that don’t have such a love of clutter, even if it is arranged prettily).

Having said which flicking through the pages finding all the amazing coincidences has been the most fun I’ve had with a shelter mag in a long while.  What stylistic cliches did you spot?

04 February 2010

Interior Styling – January Challenge

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So here’s the photo I finally ended up with for Holly Decor8’s January challenge in her Interior Styling group on Flickr. The challenge was as follows

‘Put 3, 5, or 7 of your favorite things on a tabletop. Only 3, 5 or 7, no more, no less. Arrange them in a triangle style - highest in the middle and work your way down. Try using a framed picture leaning against the wall for the middle, or a tall vase, lamp, flower arrangement, or anything else that is tall and centered.’

I don’t think what I came up  with is too great – it’s trying too hard and doesn’t have that effortless throwaway chic that the very best stylists achieve. But it was fun to do and it’s making me realise how difficult styling really is. I’d welcome all constructive criticism. I want to get better at this and you’re all so discerning.

For the record, this grouping features a little bird picture by Amy Ruppel, a vintage teacup and saucer from a beautiful harlequin teaset we were given as a wedding present, a wooden candlestick from Jean Pelle, a vintage glass soda bottle and my knitting (see below).

01 February 2010

Today I Am Mostly…

…watching things unfurl

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It is ridiculous how excited I am that last year’s orchid has taken it upon itself to bloom again.  My orchids never ever ever rebloom despite a lot of cajoling. It has been overwintering in our bathroom and of course I have no idea what triggered it off this time.

If you’re not a green fingered orchid growing genius such as myself (ha ha!) then you may want to take a look at this comment thread on Shelterrific, which has loads of wonderful orchid advice.

For advice as to whether orchids have any place in interior decorating at all, I refer you to Decorno here.

And I can’t work out whether I like these Boskke sky planters available from Velocity – (I think I’m coming down on the side of ‘like’).

The images, from Sunset magazine, sure are pretty though.

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29 January 2010

Go Fug Your Windows

Well, I was very much liking the idea of a shop window decorating competition, until I actually saw the results.

Three designers, three windows in Bloomingdales NYC, three boring as hell rooms.

First up The Urbane Traveller by Eileen Joyce for Bloomingdales.

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What is it about Americans and brown interiors?  It’s something that has really struck me since I’ve been living here. In the UK brown went out with the Victorians – thank goodness as it really doesn’t work with British light – but here it still seems to be the safe colour of choice.

This so bland, so dull, and so generic that words fail me. Except to wonder why a ‘sophisticated travel magazine editor’ would want to have two highly impractical stone orbs on her highly impractical coffee table.  Let me know if you see anything interesting in this snoozefest because it’s eluding me.

Next up The Writer’s Romantic Supper, by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan for Apartment Therapy.

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This is where I destroy all my (fortunately nonexistent) chances of winning a ‘Homie’ next year.

It is criminal, yes, criminal, what Maxwell G-R, whose taste I normally quite like, has done to that absolutely gorgeous Neisha Crosland paper (speaking of which, we used to stock Neisha Crosland accessories in the shop and we must get some more in). 

He has totally ignored all the very wise advice on feature walls you give below – covering it up with two truly horrible portraits, overwhelming it with an astonishing amount of fuss and clutter and turning the whole into some dingy Victorian drawing room, complete with a quite spectacularly horrible repro armchair.  I know M G-R said he was going for a ‘steampunk-y’ vibe but honestly it’s because of rooms like his that minimalism was ever invented. And if my beau turned out to have an apartment like that I would feel too agitated and uncomfortable for any ‘romance’.

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And finally we have The Modern Woman by our old friend Eddie Ross

And, much as it pains me to say it, I like this window by far the best of the three, though that’s not to say that I actually like it. But at least we can be grateful to him for avoiding brown.

It’s a more modern style than we’ve seen from him before and I really like what he’s done with the cushions, (except for the Miles Redd-ish faux leopard skin), colours and artwork, though the paint speckled walls and everything else leaves me pretty cold.

And of course he has to include his signature Kelly Wearstler–esque bust which seems to follow him around everywhere (see the link above for his house in Lonny magazine). Somewhat unnervingly the muse for this room is described as a ‘media mogul and mother of two’ and yes, every mother I know would just love to have half a hundredweight of statuary teetering on a precarious pedestal with kids around. It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen. Do young gay interior decorators actually ever meet kids?

Anyway, I was too bored/disappointed to bother voting, but if you’re inspired, full details of all three rooms are here. Do you like them?

27 January 2010

Go Fug Your Room – Miles Redd Again

 

Our old friend, uber-hyped US interior decorator Miles Redd apparently designed this Manhattan apartment for a young couple with kids. And yes, the love children of Marie Antoinette and Santa would probably feel quite at home here.

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Miles, honey, there are, however, a few things I feel I need to point out.

a) Just because your surname is ‘Redd’, it doesn’t mean that firetruck red is necessarily the most calming or even attractive colour for interiors.  And believe me, interiors containing kids need calming.

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b) I know you’re American, but that still doesn’t make firetruck red, cobalt blue and stark white a particularly appealing colour palette.  Or were eyepopping primary colours your one concession to the ‘kids’ thing?

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c) I know you can’t be expected to know much about kids, but surely even a young gay man about town knows that lots of tchotchkes/knickknacks + silk upholstery and curtains + felt wall coverings does not an entirely kid-friendly environment make. I suspect they have a very ferocious nanny.

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Good to see that Miles hasn’t yet given up on hideous animal pictures

d) Have you realised yet that it’s the 21st century? The only thing that isn’t either an antique or some dreadful piece of repro is the kid’s Ikea bed.

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Nice Ikea bed. Actually this room isn’t that bad.

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I like the walls and colour palette in here. It’s all a bit granny’s old bloomers though.

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No, you can’t even escape the red by going to the bathroom. And no Miles hasn’t given up on whimsical animal prints either.  But I do quite like the wallpaper.

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Miles takes the American obsession with table lamps to new heights by incorporating them in the kitchen. This is the nicest room in the house though.

Elle Decor US calls the apartment an ‘ode to 30s elegance’.  I have noticed that in a US decorating context ‘elegant’ does not signify ‘quiet, spare, refined beauty in an Audrey Hepburnesque way’ as I used to think of it in the UK.  Instead, it is code for ‘we added as many frills and furbelows and trims and ornaments and shiny things and golden bits and things we think might look French as we possibly could before the credit card exploded’.

What do you all think?