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384 posts categorized "Design matters"

20 July 2010

Things I Am Loving - Crochet Car Cosy

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{Image by Flickr user StartTheDay}

Isn’t this just the business? 

It was apparently created by Magda Sayeg for the Il Lusso Essenziale art festival in Rome and I’m very tempted to start making one for my Beetle, except a) I don’t think it’s terribly suitable for the Seattle winter (or indeed the Seattle summer, of which we would rather not speak, thank you very much) and b) I have no idea how you open the doors.

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.

14 May 2010

Cakespy HQ

 

For a spy Cakespy really isn’t very discreet. Jessie Oleson was the toast of Seattle society last week as she opened her new gallery and shop featuring some fabulous indie art together with her own original ‘Cuppie’ artwork and a variety of other cute dessert-related products.

 

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We went along to the opening party last Saturday and the place was heaving with partygoers, spilling out onto the pavement outside in the evening sunshine.

There were custom cupcakes from Trophy  featuring edible artwork by Jessie, her husband Danny’s band Exohxo played a fabulous set and we got to see Jessie’s new mural in person.  The Husband and I hung out with Megan Not Martha and Carrie Cupcake in the upper gallery, while the Minx, wearing her best cupcake-themed sandals for the occasion, mingled with the partygoers below and got very indignant when we went down the stairs to join her, telling us in no uncertain terms,  ‘Go away, I’m talking the grownups.’

If you didn’t get to the party, I highly recommend that you check out Jessie’s shop which is a very sweet addition to Capitol Hill. All details and Jessie’s online store are here at www.cakespyshop.com.

 

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05 May 2010

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

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If you’re still looking for Mother’s Day gifts, rush over to Shelterrific where I’ve put together a gift guide. Don’t forget to rush back though.

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

 

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

15 April 2010

Out and About in Palm Springs

We found Palm Springs to be a surprisingly fun, lively and pedestrian-friendly place to stroll about in, especially early in the morning and in the evenings when it wasn’t too hot.

 

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There’s quirky art to be found and palm trees (of course) and enough blue sky and bougainvilleas to make up for months of grey Seattle skies.

 

 

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Foodwise we can highly recommend Cheeky’s for breakfast, Matchbox for pizza and Las Casuelas for Mexican (with ENORMOUS portions) and Palm Springs Fudge & Chocolates for great ice cream and the most superb date shake (how did live without date shakes in my life? must try and recreate them in Seattle).

 

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I regretted not seeing more of the architecture than we managed. We bought a $5 selfdrive map of Palm Springs Modern architecture at the (gorgeous) Visitor Center and drove about the town for an hour or so one afternoon. It was all faintly frustrating though, as many of the nicest looking properties were on private roads and of course we couldn’t get to see the insides of the houses beyond the bougainvillea hedges. 

Highlights included the former Wamu (now Chase) building, the Del Marcos hotel, City Hall, the Visitor Center, the Bank of America building and the Visitor Center itself, which is a converted mid-century gas station. I’ve also no idea how authentic it is, but the KFC (with the red struts below) was the coolest we’ve ever seen.

 

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{All photos copyright Paola Thomas 2010}

 

When the Minx is a little older we’ll try and plan a trip for Modernism week. In the meantime there’s a fabulous review of Elvis’ honeymoon hideaway (which we didn’t get to this time round) here and a discussion of the whereabouts of the fabulous Palm Springs house shown in Mad Men (with great screen caps), which sadly doesn’t seem to be in Palm Springs at all, here.

(See my review of the Ace Hotel & Swim Club, Palm Springs here}

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.

18 March 2010

Speaking of the Cherry Tree

I’ve been thinking for some time of putting a tree house in the cherry tree for the Minx. Does anyone know of any companies in the US putting together fab modern treehouse kits?

While I was having a desultory wander round the Internet in search of kids’ treehouses (instead of working I might add), I came across this fabulous restaurant in a treehouse from New Zealand.  The award winning Yellow Treehouse, was designed by architects Pacific Environments, and makes me want to go to New Zealand as fast as my little legs will carry me. Can someone in Seattle please do something this cool? After all there are plenty of trees here.

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I had this post all ready to go and then found that my blogging heroes, the always hilarious Tom and Lorenzo beat me to it. Looks like Project Runway is going to be good tonight!

17 March 2010

Fabulous Wallpaper

 

If I were the sort of person who had a cosy kitchen breakfast nook, which sadly I am not, I would be shopping for wallpaper at Studio Nommo.  Yep, really cool wallpaper from Turkey, available online {via India Knight’s blog}.

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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.

11 March 2010

Today I Am Mostly…

 

…admiring my new shoes.

 

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Very happy with my new pink Birkies.  I have recently been shopping until I drop at RueLaLa, a invitation-only website featuring 2-day designer boutiques at private sale prices.

I haven’t been given anything to shill for these guys (unfortunately as they’re backrupting me) but they do have some great names on here – homewares and menswear as well as womenswear and accessories -  and the prices are amazing (I picked up a DwellStudio duvet set yesterday for $90).  The good news is that I’m inviting you lovely blog friends. 

Just click HERE, sign up and start shopping. The bad news is that you too will soon be bankrupt. The other bad news is that this appears to be US only for the time being.

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}

01 March 2010

Get Your Bitchpants On!

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So, this Blogging Your Way course I’m doing with Holly Decor8 (highly recommended BTW) wraps up this week and we’ve been divided into teams to critique each others’ blogs. 

I have been getting A TON of hugely useful feedback, which has got me thinking about a full redesign in the next month or two. And then it struck me that you, my lovelies, are also the perfect source of intelligent, thoughtful, insightful blog critiquing.

So could you please put your bitchpants on and let rip?  If you were me, what would you change about the blog?  How can I improve the layout? The content? Are there things you find distracting? Are there features you particularly love or hate? Why do you come here in the first place? What would you like to see more of? How can I make you love the blog more?

Please don’t pull any punches. I’m a big girl and can handle it. And if I’m doing a redesign, I want to make it as effective as possible.  I promise not to hate you (much, haha!) though feel free to go anonymous on this if you prefer.

26 February 2010

REALLY Cool Printed Fabric – ManoAllaMano

 

Or Benetton ads in quilting cotton.

Goodness but you guys are clever sometimes.

A regular commenter round these parts is Designer Mama – ManoAllaMano who lives in Seattle and has a young daughter adopted from Haiti. She is also a very talented photographer and graphic designer.

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She couldn’t find any fabric that reflected her particular situation, and so, as you do, decided to design some of her own. It was such a big hit with her daughter, that she has come up with other permutations reflecting other variations of ‘non-typical’ American families – two mommies, two daddies, adoptive families, single parents, multi-racial etc.– and has just launched an Etsy shop, selling both quilting and upholstery weight fabrics.

This fabric seriously makes me want to learn to sew. I’d love to make the Minx something with this. It would also look fabulous framed (which may be the route I decide to go). Isn’t it just too cool?

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H 3 small for etsy

I small for web

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?

08 February 2010

Is This My Blog?

 

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Oh but I’ve had a fun morning. Our homework for Holly Decor8’s ‘Blogging Your Way’ course this week was to put together an inspiration board that summed up our blogs.  We weren’t allowed to put it together on our computers but instead had to use things we had to hand. 

As you’ve probably realised I fight continual battle between my childish love of bright colour and my desire to be more chic and sophisticated.  On this occasion I just thought, f*ck it, and let my inner child take over.

Here are some individual elements.

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Funnily enough the board began with this moody shot of Pixie Geldof from a recent British Vogue. I’ve always wanted to have very short platinum blonde hair (I have the short hair and have been blonde, but never done both at once).  I think I’m too old for it now.

I cheated a bit and printed out some photos. I know this wasn’t supposed to be a digital board, but I thought it would be OK since photography is becoming an increasingly big part of the blog/my life.

I also wanted to include some mirrormirror products – the Interiors Colouring Book, Karin Eriksson small bowls and Abigail Percy earrings.

The Illy coffee cup and picture of spaghetti speaks to my Italian heritage and my love of Italy, Italian design and PASTA.

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I included some favourite room shots, including some favourite chairs. I do love chairs. And the paint chip is supposed to encourage me in my home renovation endeavours.

The cookies cutters, dayglo cake candles and sprinkles reflect mine and the Minx’s love of tasteful baking.

And have you noticed how much I love graphic daisy shapes? I’d never really realised how much until now.

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And if nothing else this exercise has made me realise that I need to hang the beautiful Mexican embroidery I brought back from our trip there two years ago, which is currently just folded up in a cupboard.

And here are more daisies, a cute Ossie Clark sketch on a postcard from the V&A which I absolutely adore, and a photo of houses in Portobello Road, because a little piece of my heart will always remain in Notting Hill.  And a cute Marimekko tin.

And there’s yarn. Because at the moment there has to be yarn.

All pics also on Flickr. I’m reviving my commitment to getting stuff up on Flickr, so do come and be my friend. I’d love to see your pictures too.

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

Separated At Birth

 

I’ve just caught up with Glee (I LOVE it – have become a total Gleek) and all I can say is.

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                               Sue Sylvester                                                              Candice Olson

 

This will of course mean beans to anyone who is not a watcher of dreadful HGTV decorating shows.

31 January 2010

Sandra’s Studio

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Remember the Wrist Worms?

Isn’t this just the perfect place to create them? It makes me want to dive for my crochet hook.

{Image of Sandra Juto’s studio from her blog www.sandrajuto.com }

29 January 2010

Unhappy Hipsters

It became their routine. And so the evenings stretched out before him: still, gray, and gravel-strewn.
(Dwell, November 2006)

‘It became their routine. And so the evenings stretched out before him: still, gray, and gravel-strewn’

From Unhappy Hipsters, the most fabulous new blog since Stuff White People Like. And yes, I know this has been three times round the design blogosphere already.

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?

25 January 2010

The Right Sort of Yellow?

Those of you who’ve spent a long time around these parts will remember that when we moved into our house the living room was painted a rather gaudy egg yolk yellow (with a bright red fireplace, but that’s another story) that turns into a rather nasty mustard-y colour in the evenings under electric light.

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For the past three years I have been agonizing about what colour to paint instead. You may remember that I’ve considered every permutation of pink and green but couldn’t find anything that worked. 

A big problem is that we’re contending with three very different sorts of light – bright, bright sunlight throughout the summer (the room faces southeast and has windows on two sides); the sort of grey murky gloom that only Seattle can produce the rest of the time and yellow tungsten light in the evenings.

I finally got to thinking that maybe yellow was actually the way to go, just not that egg yolk-y yellow. So I looked for a yellow the colour of lemongrass, just on the cusp between yellow and green.

And we came up with Benjamin Moore’s Cypress Grove – which is a cool lactic yellow, the colour of unsalted butter, in the tin

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but ends up having a distinct greenish tinge on the wall.

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The green looks particularly pronounced in the soft grey light Seattle does so well.

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And it looks sophisticated and interesting in tungsten light

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And not too overwhelming in bright sunlight.

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What do you think?  The Husband loves it but I’m not 100% convinced, though I can’t quite put my finger on why.  It seems a little too wishy-washy for me, though I have absolutely no idea what I’d replace it with. 

I’m going to keep going with it for the moment as at least it’s hugely much better than what was there before. And it’s difficult to tell as the ceiling is now all wrong and needs to be painted urgently and I think the white of the woodwork is too bright a white.

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Anyway, questions for you

- What do you think?

- And would you take that same colour into the seating area or paint the walls there some sort of white?

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21 January 2010

Ask Auntie P – Where Do We Stand on Feature Walls?

A real life friend of mine is wondering whether to do a wallpaper feature wall, and I thought I’d put it to you guys as well to see if you could help.

Said friend is doing up a sixties cottage in Northern Ireland and is wondering whether to do a feature wall with wallpaper.

First up, I much prefer feature/accent walls with wallpaper rather than paint. A painted feature wall often looks like you’ve just run out of paint. But wallpaper feature walls are a good way of using pattern without getting too overwhelmed, and can let you indulge in expensive wallpaper on a budget.

For me a feature wall can be great as long as they’re used sparingly and for a reason.  I grew up in London suburban semi-detached house with psychedelic seventies feature walls in every room, and that was definitely overkill.

Feature walls draw attention, so I think the key point is to think about what you’re drawing attention to and whether it’s actually worth focusing on. And of course they’re great ways of injecting colour and pattern into a room (though they might make it more problematic to use colour and pattern in other ways such with curtains or cushions).  And you can use them to delineate space – such as separating out a dining area.

Here are some feature walls which I think work. 

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From Elle Deco UK (Jan 2010). I absolutely LOVE this New York loft.  The feature wall here draws the eye upwards to emphasize the ceiling and injects a splash of beautiful colour.  But note how minimalist everything else is.

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From Ideal Home (Nov 2009).  It delineates the dining area beautifully. But again everything else is incredibly spare.

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From Graham & Brown’s website.  This is quite subtle and mostly adds texture rather than emphasis.

 

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This accent wall from Living Etc is reflected in a mirrored wall. It probably looks like a brothel in real life. But everything else is plain, uncluttered and subservient to the paper.

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This comes from Decorpad.com though I’m not sure where it was sourced originally.   The feature wall is nice, but it’s starting to clash with all the other clutter in the room.

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This last is fabulous. It works because it is subtle despite the scale of the pattern, and again because everything else is kept so neutral and uncluttered. {From Colour Me Happy}.

What do you think? Would you do a feature wall in your home? If you’ve got a feature wall, do you have any advice for my friend? 

20 January 2010

Small But Perfectly Formed

As you may have noticed I’ve become slightly obsessed by all things tiny and dollshousy recently, so I was thrilled and delighted to see a dolls house, would you believe, get a full editorial spread in last month’s Elle Deco UK.

Of course in order to hold its own against the fabulous full size apartments on show, this was of course no ordinary dolls house.  It’s a pretty vintage 1960s house full of lovingly collected vintage furniture and showcasing miniature versions of designer Deborah Bowness’s handprinted trompe l’oeil wallpapers, put together by Bowness and her friend Emily Chalmers of East London vintage store Caravan

I sort of want to move in immediately.

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18 January 2010

Adventures in Knitting - I Saw Three Gifts

 

Just a quick and very belated knitting update. I thought I ought to knit the Minx and the Husband something for Christmas seeing as they’re always watching me knitting things for myself.

I made the Minx something called a Calorimetry from some novelty handspun I found on here on Etsy.

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The Husband got a Windschief cowl to match his eyes in DK Silky Cashmere in the Limited Edition Old Jade colourway (and yes, he is spoilt) from Sundara (this is so he can’t complain about the amount of money I spend in that woman’s direction).

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And I, because of course I can only knit unselfishly for so long, treated myself to a pair of fingerless gloves in merino silk Opulence in the completely stunning Chocolat Chambord colourway from the Woolen Rabbit.

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I have promised myself I won’t start anything new until I’ve finished all my works in progress from last year. So I’m currently plodding through my Lace Shawl, my Interminable Blanket and a sweater I started knitting at the tail end of lat year.

All details as before on my Ravelry page – come and be my friend.

Today I Am Mostly….

 

…painting the living room.

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Actually that was yesterday.  And yes, we need to discuss paint colours as a matter of urgency, probably tomorrow.

15 January 2010

Go Love Your Room? Jean-Christophe Aumas

 

I’m genuinely torn about this apartment which I found in last month’s Elle Deco – UK (yep, I’m only now getting the chance to go through my Christmas magazines, so look out for lots of ideas for Christmas decorating and table settings etc in the coming weeks). The apartment belongs to French art director Jean-Christophe Aumas, who creates window displays and events for big names such as John Galliano, Chloe and Diptyque.

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At first I didn’t really like very much – the colour scheme, all baby pink, acid lemon, teal, black and grey and red seemed incoherent and unpleasant and the whole thing felt somewhat bitty, disjointed and just plain messy.

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But the more I looked, the more quirky, fascinating details I saw.  I love the way he plays with and echoes geometric shapes,

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the blocks of colour, the way he hangs his pictures and sets his tables on an angle to reflect the diagonals in the herring bone flooring,  the interesting objects such as the domes on the mantelpiece, the light fittings, the three triangles painted where the wall meets the ceiling, the turquoise shower, the brightly coloured accessories.

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I wouldn’t necessarily want to live here, but I’d love to visit and look around and pick up the objects and ask where they all come from. It’s interesting and fascinating and quirky, and for that I forgive it much.

What do you think?

 
By the way, this has reminded me how much I love the Alexander Girard wooden dolls.
 
If only they didn’t cost $160 EACH.  Or a mere $1,600 for all eleven. Ha ha ha.  If you’re feeling disgustingly rich, then go buy them here.
 
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Today I Am Mostly…

…lighting candles

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Actually this is me playing around  with the January challenge for Holly Decor8’s Interior Styling group on Flickr. The challenge is 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’

The weather has been horribly grey and rainy for the past few days here in Seattle, so I decided to play with candlelight instead. I don’t think this really works for the challenge as the area I was styling (our built in bookshelves ) meant I had to take it from the side. And it has absolutely no ‘wow factor’ .

This interior styling malarkey is really difficult. What would you do to make this photo better?

12 January 2010

Gigantic Granny Square Afghan

 

Today is the Minx’s fifth birthday.  And so of course she comes bounding into our bedroom this morning full of energy and excitement and shouts about presents. 

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For some reason it seemed particularly dark and I felt even crapper than I usually do when it’s time to get up, but it had been raining all night, which would explain the darkness, and when I asked the Husband what time it was (he keeps the alarm clock on his side of the bed) he said ‘oh, it’s twenty past seven’.  I felt so dreadfully unrested that I asked him to double check but he reassured me about the time and we hauled ourselves out of bed and downstairs to begin the unveiling of half a ton of Disney Princess/Calico Critters/My Little Pony crap tempered with the occasional improving book.

This process had been going on for about ten minutes and I was just about to start making birthday waffles when I happened to glance at the clock on the VCR. Which said 3:52.  Yes, my Cambridge-educated Husband had got his long and short hands mixed up and we’d all got up at 3.35 am. And of course after that the Minx was so excited it took her ages to go back to sleep, and she woke up again for the final time at 6.30 am.

So if you thought that today there would be a moving eulogy to my five-year old daughter or even any substantive blogging at all, then, dear readers, you are very much mistaken.

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Instead here are a few pictures of the Gigantic Granny Square Blanket I crocheted for the Minx’s new dolls house.

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She had expressed some disappointment that the blanket provided (a thin scrap of dark blue jersey) was too small for the sofa bed, so I decided to make the dolls their very own gigantic granny square afghan. I was very pleased with how well the yarn went with the decor and it seems that the (rather creepy) dolls are too.

This is another step in my ‘teach yourself to crochet’ campaign. After a few false starts I can now granny square along fabulously thanks to the Purl Bee’s excellent instructions. I’m almost tempted to start on a full-size gigantic granny square blanket just for us.

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The yarn is the scraps from my first ever pair of socks. It’s fascinating to see how differently the yarn works up in different patterns.

Carolina Leon Firrell – Hand Painted Porcelain

It’s about this time of year that I start getting inundated with invitations to attend Maison & Objet in Paris. I’m not able to go this year, but as the business is growing it’s still very much on my to do list for next year.

Here’s who invited me today.  Just loving the colour story on these. I’ll have to get a catalogue I think.

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07 January 2010

Nook Review

So this year I decided to ask for the new Nook e-reader from Barnes & Noble as my Christmas present. I’ve been avidly using both Amazon’s Kindle for iPhone app and Barnes & Noble’s E-reader iPhone app (both available for free) and decided it was about time I got the real thing.

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After reading many reviews we decided to go for the Nook rather than the Kindle 2, though it was a bit of a gamble as the Nook is brand new and was only delivered to stores just before Christmas so it was impossible to do any sort of real-life comparison.

I chose the Nook mainly because a) it wasn’t Amazon, with whom I have a love/hate relationship b) its Android operating platform allows for future software updates which means it can be upgraded without buying a new machine c) it allows you to ‘lend’ books out to someone else (though only for two weeks) d) it reads PDFs, which will be great for knitting patterns and other stuff.  Synching with the Barnes & Nobel iPhone e-reader is apparently coming soon, and will be delivered via a software update.

I don’t have a Kindle 2, so can’t compare it with that, but I can compare it with er, an actual book. And so far I’ve been very pleasantly surprised.

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The Nook screen comes in two parts. The upper ‘e-ink’ screen which is where you do your actual reading and a colour touch-screen below which is where you navigate.  To ‘turn the page’ you push small buttons on the sides. There has been some grumbling online about how slow everything but this was apparently solved by a software upgrade that was waiting for me when I unpacked my Nook. Certainly I have no complaints. The touch screen is pretty good, though not quite as responsive as the iPhone and ‘page-turning’ is MUCH quicker than turning the page on an actual book. 

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The grey e-ink screen is at first somewhat disappointing for someone who is used to spending all day gazing at a bright computer or iPhone screen, but it is designed to be easy on the eyes, easy to read and economical on battery life. I have to admit that when I’m reading it I sometimes forget that I’m not actually reading a real book – I’ve even caught my eyes wandering to the left to see what’s on the ‘other page’.

Another huge advantage is the size and weight.  It’s about the same size and weight as a small old-fashioned cloth-covered hardback (an illusion which is also fostered by the cheap cloth-covered cover we gt for it).  I like to read in bed and it’s really easy and manageable, moreso than the actual book would be – I’m currently reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, which apparently clocks in at 560 pages and 1.9lbs in real life.

In short, I’m a complete bookworm and I’m sold.

22 December 2009

Christmas Decorations on Tour

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You’ve seen mine! Now show us yours.

This is a very lazy on vacation post with the idea entirely stolen from Liz at Violet Posy

If you’ve done a blog post about your Christmas decorations, lack of decorations, other holiday decorations, beautiful decorations that you’ve seen round and about or anything else festive that you’ve done and want to show off then use the fun widget below to post up a link to your blog.

It will be running from now until 6th January or Twelfth Night or the Epiphany, the day when decorations are traditionally taken down in the UK (or else you face a year of bad luck).

I’ve added a link to my post and to Violet Posy to get you started and show you what it will look like.

 

16 December 2009

The Hello Kitty Plane

You would not believe the amount of Hello Kitty crap the Minx is going to get in her stocking (or if you’re in possession of a five year old girl maybe you would).

I do have to question the business logic behind this Taiwanese Eva Airways Hello Kitty plane though – is your average business class passenger really in Hello Kitty’s target market?

Please don’t show this post to the Minx, she will be demanding we go on holiday to Taiwan.

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Fortunately too big for the Minx’s stocking

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You’d think they could do a Hello Kitty butter pat too. 

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I’m sure Mr Taiwanese Businessman is THRILLED

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Actually I do think most of the branding stuff here is rather lame. But the Minx would have exploded with excitement at this point.

13 December 2009

Oh Tannenbaum

Just when you thought there was nothing new under the sun in regards to Christmas trees, here is the extremely beautiful and, as far as I know anyway, very original ‘tree’ outside the Space Needle here in Seattle.  It’s made of interlocking spherical ‘cages’ wrapped with thousands of tiny white lights.

{I was going to say, please excuse crappy iPhone pics, but actually it’s really rather staggering what you can do with a little mobile phone camera nowadays}

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11 December 2009

New Products, Lovely Mentions and FREE International Shipping

 

We’ve just had a new delivery from French design studio Atelier LZC and I will be adding several new products to the site over the next few days.

First up are two stunning new sets of teatowels – the Potager set, featuring vegetables and kitchen utensils

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and the Nature set, with birds, butterflies and foliage

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All four of these teatowels would also look wonderful framed (the Potager ones would look great in a kitchen I think) and I love the idea of using a pretty teatowel to wrap round a bottle of wine for a VERY acceptable hostess gift.

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I’ve been having a mini blog PR blitz recently and the store has been mentioned by the following utterly fabulous and extremely discerning blogs Not Martha, Shelterrific,The Bedlam of Beefy and Violet Posy. Thank you all SO much for your help and support.

Stupidly I was so busy offering their readers FREE INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING on all orders that I forgot to offer the same to you, my lovely and very much appreciated readers.  So go to mirrormirror, place your order choosing ‘free shipping with offer code’ when you come to check out and then use the code ‘jingle bells’ in the ‘how did you hear about us box.

(Any overseas orders placed over the weekend will be shipped on Monday and should be with the recipient in time for the big day.  UK readers you still have the rest of the week.)

09 December 2009

Fancy Hotel of the Week – the Scarlet

 

A UK friend of mine and occasional blog commenter stayed a couple of weeks back at this brand new hotel in Cornwall and thought I would love it as much as she did. And from the pictures she was right.  We used to go down to Cornwall nearly every year when we lived in the UK and it’s another place I miss horribly.  I MUST get to this hotel sooner rather than later as it looks amazing (though annoyingly it doesn’t appear to take kids).

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The building itself is a fabulous purpose built affair, making the most of sea views and built to the highest eco-standards by architects Harrison Sutton.

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This is the wonderful bar area.  Love the colours and the mix of chunky wood and leather.

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Like the seating and the low hanging lamps, though wonder if they’d be annoying if you were actually in the bed.

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Pretty colours, though the big wooden boat is a bit of a Cornish cliche. Kelly Wearstler should look here to see a more successful use of statuary though.

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More lovely colours, prints and unusual lampshades in the library and lobby.

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And everywhere fabulous sea views. Why are there no hotels like this close to Seattle?  Cornwall does actually remind me of the Pacific Northwest a lot. Maybe I should open one. 

{All images from The Scarlet’s website.  Check out more from their gallery here.  And they have quite an interesting blog here about the trials and tribulations of building a hotel. Interiors by Max Bentheim Interior Design}

Get Your Holly On

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Design bloggeuse extraordinaire Holly Becker over at Decor8 is running an e-course in January called Blogging Your Way  which will talk about becoming a more successful blogger and include tips on photography and styling. And I’ve signed up!

I really want to take this blog to the next level in the new year and work on my photography/product styling, so it seemed like a great way to do this in a focused way and kickstart the year. And get to meet other bloggers online.

There are apparently a handful of places left if you want to sign up  - all you need is a blog, a camera and $119 for the seven week course. All deets and registration here. I’ll keep you updated with how it’s going in January and maybe share some of the assignments on here, if they’re shareable.

{image via Decor8}

05 December 2009

Christmas is Coming…

 

The air is buzzing with excitement (the Minx) and panic (moi).

The enormous Advent calendar stuffed full of tantalising little packages, which was sent by the Minx’s lovely godparents, is hanging up and revealing its secrets.

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Christmas decorations courtesy of the Minx (with help from me on the actual cutting) are starting to go up

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(for real proper grown up snowflakes check out Uncle Beefy, take a look at this incredible gallery of real snowflakes or make some on your computer here  - the Minx and I have been having tons of fun with this little program and there’s no little tiny bits of paper to clear up afterwards).

New papier mache baubles from Crate & Barrel are on display.

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And the snowflake garland I’ve been crocheting for the fireplace is now finished, blocked and ready to be starched and hung.

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We’ve got a fun and festive weekend lined up. Our friend is visiting from Victoria and tomorrow we’re going to decorate the tree, do some Christmas baking, hopefully get to Urban Craft Uprising, go to a party in the evening, and then off, weather permitting, to Leavenworth on Sunday.  

I hope you’re all less panicked than I am.  What special things are you doing for the holidays?

04 December 2009

Contemporary Dolls House – the Lundby Stockholm

 

One of things I like best about Facebook is how it lets you tap into your friends’ collective brains for ideas. Having reached a bit of an impasse on contemporary dolls houses – either too expensive, too not available in the US, too discontinued or too babyish, I made a plea on Facebook as a last resort before buying something a little more traditional.

Eliza Truitt, Seattle photographer extraordinaire, mentioned how much she’d enjoyed playing with her Lundby dolls house as a child, which she thought was still being produced.  A quick search online revealed this, the Lundby Stockholm, an extremely desirable residence with lights (I would have KILLED for a light up dolls house as a child), two decks and a swimming pool in a drawer.

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The absolute coolest thing is all the fabulous furniture which is available. Come and have a look around.

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Lundby is a Swedish company that has been going since 1947.  They make two other houses, each with their own furniture and lights, though you can also swap furniture between the houses. (I see the Gotland summer house in the Minx’s future).  There’s even fabulous vintage furniture available on Ebay. 

Lundby stuff is available in the US at Cheeky Monkeys, but it is ferociously expensive.  A better bet is to do as I did and buy from the UK. Lundby stuff can be found on Amazon.co.uk though they won’t ship the actual house to the US.  I ended up buying a ton of furniture from Creative Toy Den here. There’s even an Lundby advent calendar with dolls clothes, accessories and Christmas decorations for the house which I am itching to buy.

So that’s me sorted for Christmas then.  If she’s very, very lucky, I might even let the Minx play with it occasionally.

Abigail*Ryan Homewares

Our favourite jewellista Abigail Percy and her beau Ryan Bell of Chick Stud Earrings fame have been working day and night (at least according to their Facebook status updates) on their new range of home textiles, based on Abigail’s stunning botanical drawings.

Their beautiful and unusual teatowels and scatter cushions are made from 100% cotton or 100% Pure Irish Linen, hand printed in the UK and hand-sewn in the duo’s Belfast design studio.

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I love the colours they’ve used and they’ve done a fantastic job with the styling the images as well. Definitely thinking about getting some of these in the shop after Christmas. In the meantime they’re available online from Abigail*Ryan.

30 November 2009

Better Late Than Never - Hella Jongerius Jonsberg Vase

 

These Jonsberg vases by Dutch design legend Hella Jongerius for Ikea PS have been all over the design blogs for years, and though I’ve always loved them they never seemed to have them in stock when I’ve been to Ikea (and I really couldn’t be bothered to make a special trip).

 

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This past weekend we somehow found ourselves in Ikea and there was the pink one in stock, so I snaffled it up, all $39.99 of it. They also had the black one, but somehow I didn’t like it as much in person as I thought I would.  I still would love to get the white one and also the terracotta, though I’m not sure they’re producing that one any more.

But the pink one makes a cheerful addition to the fireplace.

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We are still in our pumpkin phase as you can see, though the Minx and I are making extensive preparations for the grand Christmas decorating day next Saturday.

The other two bits of incredibly thrillng house news (honestly how can you guys cope with the excitement?) are that  (i) we appear to have chosen a colour for the living room walls.  No more egg yolk yellow! (We will be discussing this more extensively later).  And (ii) this afternoon we have an appointment with the architects to talk about remodelling the basement and doing something about our two kitchen dilemma.  Will let you know what they have to say.

19 November 2009

Fancy Hotel of the Week

 

I know, another one.

But I made the mistake this morning of flicking through a Maison Cote Sud which was lying around the house, which immediately made me long for the South of France in all its decadent beauty.  And if you could see how grey and wet and utterly MISERABLE the weather in Seattle is today you would understand why that was a mistake.

Parisian architect and designer India Mahdavi has recently completely the renovation of the iconic 80-year old Monte Carlo Beach.

I love how she has tipped her hat to the hotel’s heyday in the Thirties and kept it firmly rooted in  Provence and the Mediterranean, but made it resolutely modern in feel at the same time.  Very, very clever.

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That chair just sums it up really – 30s shape, beachy materials = something new and fresh.  And that boat in the distance is just perfect somehow. As are the icy glasses on the table.

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I want that lamp. Badly.

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I like how the lamp echoes the one above and how the prints – which are graphic and modern, but somehow deeply Provencal - work with the walls and lampshade. And the Matisse-like sketch on the wall and the 1930s B/W prints everywhere are cool touches. 

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All images from Maison Cote Sud and the hotel’s website.

13 November 2009

So-Fantastic

This loveseat in a recent Elle Deco UK really caught my eye.

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Beirut-based brand Bokja specialises in taking vintage furniture pieces and re-vamping them with gorgeous and unique 60s and 70s textiles and tapestries.

Matthew Williamson is apparently a customer – I’m wondering whether Williamson’s tapestry sofa and mirrored armchair are from here.

Bokja’s one-off pieces are available from The Quirico Company. Here are some more stunning pics from their website.

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New In Store – Chick Stud Earrings

 

We’re starting to get some new things in store for Christmas.

First up we’ve now got stock of those cute Chick Stud Earrings from DesireLines in 24k gold-plated silver, sterling silver and oxidised sterling silver.  They’re only £27 and make gorgeous gifts, or else get a pair or two for yourself (they’re great fun to mix and match).

Buy some here, enter MIRRORMIRROR BLOG in the ‘how did you hear about us’ box, choose the Free Shipping (With Offer Code) option and you’ll get free shipping on your entire order, anywhere in the world.

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11 November 2009

Fancy Hotel of the Week

Actually it’s the fancy hotel of a couple of weeks ago, but hey, who’s counting…

On our recent trip to Vancouver we were lucky enough to be able to get a corporate rate to stay at the newly-opened Shangri-La via the Husband’s job.

Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver

The hotel was fantastically comfortable and luxurious, though to be honest the decor was not exactly my cup of tea – very luxe, very Eastern-influenced (which makes sense as it’s an Asian hotel chain) and very safe -  with lots of textured brown and beige, wood veneers everywhere and the very occasional pop of red.

The most special details were the utterly spectacular chandeliers sprinkled throughout the hotel with gay abandon.  There was even a chandelier in each cubicle in the bathroom next to the bar.

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The hotel has been opened ahead of the 2010 Olympics and occupies the first 15 floors of the tallest building in Vancouver (seen here on a typical Pacific Northwest autumn day. ie. pissing it down with rain).

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The rooms were large and filled with every technological device you could imagine, which thrilled the Husband no end.

See that slightly grey patch in the bathroom mirror (reflecting the marble shower)?

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Well, it’s actually a telly. So you can watch children’s programmes while brushing your teeth.