May 21, 2014 in interior styling, news
I had the pleasure of being asked to style this month’s Style Steal for Elle Decoration magazine as part of their 25 year anniversary celebration. My brief was to scour the major brands from the British high street for the best 100 finds under £100 and to celebrate accessible, affordable and stylish products for our homes in a unified photo story. We all need a fix of newness in our home every now and again and most of the time practicality calls, but sometimes a new piece of beautiful crockery, some storage, a cushion or new light can give our home a lift especially when they don’t break the bank.
I shot with the talented Danish interiors photographer Heidi Lerkenfeldt who flew over to shoot the story especially for Elle Deco.
I divided the story into, shelving, kitchen/dining, living/study, bedroom and bathroom over 9 pages and found lots of great products that belie their super value.
The products featured are high street brands including Anthropologie, BHS, The Conran Shop, Debenhams, French Connection, Habitat, H&M, Heal’s, House of Fraser, Ikea, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Muji, Next, Toast, The White Company and Zara Home.
The June issue of Elle Decoration magazine is out now.
What would you choose?
April 21, 2014 in flowers
I have so many favourite flowers but one that comes up very high on my list is the snake’s head fritillary – Fritillaria meleagris. I have been fascinated by this spring bulb ever since I was at art college in Edinburgh and came across a beautiful drawing of one made in 1915 by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The pattern fascinates me, as I’m sure it did Mackintosh, and they really are a miracle of nature.
As a long-time member of Kew Gardens there are swathes of them located in an area that I hunt out each Spring to see them growing en masse. Some are pure white with the faintest trace of a pattern, but mostly they are the richer shades of purple with their contrasting chequerboard.
I photographed them against simple backdrops devoid of fuss. The vase above is by Akiko Hirai and the black cup in the last photo is by Kaori Tatebayashi, both from Flow Gallery. In the photo below you can see how these flowers get the name snake’s head from their shape and pattern just before they open up.
I grow them each Spring in my own tiny garden and always get excited to see their little heads poke up in the flowers beds or in pride of place in pots on the garden table. Nature is amazing.
March 30, 2014 in inspiring places, my london
The Tate Modern gallery is one of my favourite places to visit. I am not alone in thinking this as it is the second most popular musuem attraction in the UK after the British Museum and the 4th most visited art museum in the world. Five million people visit it every year. Not only is the art it houses world class, its industrial architecture is stunning too. The galleries are housed in the former Bankside Power Station and the scale of the Turbine Hall is awe inspiring and the views from the sixth floor overlooking the Thames, St Paul’s Cathedral and the London skyline are breathtaking.
The enormity of the building and the views from the upper floors looking downward to the Turbine Hall floor captured my imagination. I photographed the concrete to lose its sense of scale and confuse the eye, making the people below seem like ants at my feet. A fun photographic trip to Lilliput.
If you live close enough to make regular visits, annual Tate membership is brilliant value as you can access all the big name exhibitions for free, the members’ cafe and get discount at the great shop. We’re looking forward to returning soon for the Matisse Cut-outs show which opens on 17th April. Can’t wait!
March 13, 2014 in books, flowers
Today I’m featuring a new book written by friends Holly Becker and Leslie Shewring: Decorate with Flowers – creative ideas for Flowers and containers around the home, as part of the UK blog book tour.
Books started my friendship with Holly four years ago after she wrote the sweetest review of my first book The Homemade Home and I emailed to thank her. We kept in touch and met for a drink a few months later when she was in London. A year or so later I helped Holly with the London launch of her first book – Decorate. That is where I first met Leslie and we, and our respective husbands, had lots of fun for a few days in London – they are the ones who talked me into starting this blog! So as books have featured so importantly in connecting our lives it seems fitting to post about their lovely new book and congratulate Holly and Leslie on the fruits of their collaboration.
Decorate With Flowers is packed with images, ideas and useful information and tips to keep your home full of life and scent with the addition of flowers. It really reflects Holly and Leslie’s personal styles and their love for flowers, craft and decorating – it is bright, light, fresh, colourful and pretty.
The book is divided into sections to suit different interior styles, such as happy brights, neutral pop and girly glam and has a craft section in each chapter showing you how to upcycle vessels for displaying flowers. There are pages showing you how to create large flower arrangements in easy-to-follow steps, so you too can create a large impressive centerpiece, but really what shows through is a love of flowers from both of them. They mix shop bought with sprigs snipped from the garden, showing you that you can bring flowers into any space with any budget.
The book itself is also well designed on tactile, uncoated paper and there is always something new to grab your eye as you flick through.
You can see lots of colourful photos and spreads from the book over on the Decorate With Flowers website.
The chapter that appeals most to my own interior design aesthetic and the way I live, is chapter 8 – Black & White. I photographed some of the pages to show here.
In this section Leslie and Holly present graphic and organic schemes influenced by Scandinavian style. Black and white interiors with flowers and foliage in whites and creams with greens and touches of yellow and deep purples.
One of my favourite projects is the graphic stamped bags, seen above.
After reading through the book I couldn’t help but nip outside to add a few cuttings from my own garden to my photos, all in the spirit of the book!
My husband helped me film a little flick-through video to give you a peek inside, although by coincidence my friend Caroline posted one on Tuesday but I thought I would share this one too as we had already filmed it. Click the settings cog to HD for better quality.
A huge amount of time, thought, love, work and energy goes into creating a book like this with so many photographs, ideas, projects and information and my congratulations go to Holly and Leslie for producing a lovely book they can be really proud of.
Decorate With Flowers is available from March 21st. You can order now at Amazon or for more details on where else, when and how to purchase, click here.
February 27, 2014 in interior styling
These images are from a collaboration with photographer Joanna Henderson, taken last Autumn. I worked with Jo on a few projects last year, firstly a perfume book by Karen Gilbert which I will post about another time, another title for Cico Books that will come out later this year and also the Liberty Christmas stocking images. We ended the year off with this shoot – an experiment with paint and paper.
Objects were sourced from around my house: my Croatian grandmother’s trinkets, a glittered leaf purchased at Sibella Court’s shop The Society Inc in Sydney last year, a pile of vintage labels bought at Kempton Park antique fair. I painted canvases, wooden cubes and discs in a selection of coloured emulsions and Jo and I created the still life images up in my loft room. The paper adds great texture, crinkled up sheets or in piles like the labels.
Paints included Little Greene‘s Heat (rust orange), Roman Plaster (biscuit/taupe) and Pink Slip (dusky pink) and Farrow & Ball‘s Downpipe (dark grey), Pelt (dark aubergine) and Strong White (the wall colour).
With Spring approaching I am ready to embrace softer colours, pinks with taupe, aubergine with rust, cream with bronze and a little sparkle sprinkled on top for good measure.
February 18, 2014 in flowers, food, handmade goodness
I took these pictures last year. I had popped into Made London, an event held at One Marylebone where European designer makers exhibit, to see my friend Grainne Morton who had a stand there. After we caught up I browsed the show and bought a few new objects. I still had my favourite hired photo shoot surface at home and couldn’t resist taking some photos before it was returned to the prop house the next day. My new purchases all had a monochrome, geometric and graphic quality that I contrasted with a handful of natural items picked from the garden.
This glass and ceramic mini vessel is by ceramcist Jill Shaddock who was part of the Crafts Council‘s exhibition stand, promoting their 2013 Hothouse designer makers.
This asymmetric, blackened wooden serving board is by Pacha Design. I also used it in my recent styling story for Elle Decoration.
This delicate metal ring is by jeweller Kirsty Pearson, another of the Crafts Council’s Hothouse designer makers in 2013.
Craft shows are a great way to buy unique, hand made items for your home or to wear and to support designer makers at the same time.
Made London is being held at the same venue this year on 24-26 October 2014.
February 9, 2014 in interior styling
Even now, after more than 12 years of working for Elle Decoration magazine, I am always excited to see a story I worked on in print and my latest story is in the new March issue which dropped through my letterbox this week. This story – entitled Modern Minimal – was inspired by a trip to Zagreb’s Museum of Contemporary Art which I visited just after it had opened. I loved the newly-opened gallery space, the art hung there and the way it was displayed. Having been inspired by a gallery I wanted the style of this story and arrangement of furniture to look like a design. The furniture is boxy, graphic and monochrome, with hits of bold colour in amongst this. I styled the shoot just before Christmas and it was shot by the talented Uli Schade.
“Modern Minimal – For strong Spring style contrast clean lined monochrome pieces with blocks of bright colour and bold geometrics…”
The location we used had a great balcony which meant we could look at shots from directly overhead, like the table shot above.
The Modern Minimal shoot is in the March 2014 issue of the UK’s Elle Decoration magazine which also features a catwalk to couch article and ideas to update your kitchens and bathrooms.
Have a peek inside the magazine in the video below:
For a full credit and contact list of the fab furniture, products, decorating materials and artworks I used in the shoot please look in the magazine.
The magazine is available at all good newsagents now.
February 4, 2014 in flowers, interior styling
There is something about the intensity of a really electric blue in a paint or a flower that just sings when placed against a pure deep black. Recently photographer Beth Evans and I spent a day testing some ideas we wanted to explore for still life images, one of which was using this vivid but moody combination of blue on black. Here are some of the results.
I used some of my paintings on canvas that I had done previously using oil, acrylic, spray paint and household paint as as backdrops. The flowers in such dramatic colours were purchased at Scarlet and Violet and Beth worked her magic creating a richness with her camera.
There is another food-related series we shot that I will share soon, so do pop back.
January 29, 2014 in inspiring places, my london
London is such a busy, vibrant city with so much to see and do that we don’t always have time to do everything that is on offer, especially with young children. As an interior stylist living in London I travel all over this wonderful city and know the shops well, it is part of my job after all, but when it come to relaxing and enjoying the other side of London to where I live I am always in a bit of a rush. So one weekend, when the children were on a sleepover with their grandparents, my husband and I headed East for our own Saturday night sleepover and saw our city in a different, relaxed way. Rather than jumping on a plane to another city, we hopped on the tube in West London and an hour later we were there, perfect. We saw sights, shops and restaurants that we had meant to visit for a while, but simply had not got round to.
We stayed at the newly opened Ace Hotel on Shoreditch High Street. It was the perfect bolt hole – well designed with a really good urban aesthetic, great service, a buzzing bar and a spacious lobby with a coffee bar and restaurant called Hoi Polloi. Our room was creatively designed in a cool colour palette of greys with indigo and a splash of mustard. It also had their signature old school record turntable and selection of LPs, I just couldn’t help myself dancing away to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The pricing is very reasonable for London considering the quality of the hotel and I would recommend having a look if you’re considering a stay in London and want to visit the creative hub that is the East End.
The Ace have collaborated with a number of brand names to produce items you can use during your stay or purchase as mementos, such leather goods with Ally Capellino and the bicycle above with Tokyobike who have a stylish store in Shoreditch too.
The hotel’s interior is by London-based interior design and architectural practice Universal Design Studio.
On Saturday afternoon we meandered down Redchurch Street, popping into Tracey Neuls (my favourite shoe store), APC, Hostem with its inspiring interior and couture womenswear upstairs, Aesop and Labour and Wait. We wandered around Arnold Circus and into Ally Capellino (my favourite bag store – can you spot a trend here?), the sweet Luna and Curious and Leila’s Shop. We stopped in at fab interiors store SCP, Artwords Bookshop and went on to Brick Lane market and the various vintage stores. Saturday evening we started with a drink at the Electricity Showrooms (a bar we frequented when it first opened in the 90s and was something different, although now it is more of a traditional pub unfortunately), followed by a wonderful dinner at renowned The Clove Club and finished off with drinks back at The Ace Hotel bar which was busy with Saturday night revellers and DJ playing.
On Sunday we began with brunch at Terence Conran’s Albion, followed by a wander down Columbia Road for the flower market, shops and stalls. We popped in to House of Hackney, Present and even managed to buy a new sofa on the spur of the moment – a 1960s Danish design 3-seater in grey felt from the always excellent Atomic Antiques. We took time to wander around the streets near Spitalfields, where there are beautiful old Georgian silk weavers’ houses. One of the weekend’s highlights was visiting Denis Severs’ House at 18 Folgate Street, which has been on my to-do list for years but with limited opening hours I had never quite made it. It is a recreation of a silk weaver’s house in the 18th century and part historical re-enactment, part art installation, part stage set. You walk around in silence while candles and fireplaces burn, and food and drinks are out on tables as if the residents have just left the room. It is filled with atmosphere and character and after a short queue to get in it was a wonder and really quite magical. So much so we returned at New Year with our children.
Shoredtich, Hoxton, Brick Lane, Spitalfields – they are all filled with amazing Georgian buildings in varying states of repair and surrounded by street art and a mish-mash of newer architectural styles, from bland 60′s offices to cutting edge glass towers. I love that contrast.
It was great to have a little holiday in our own city but it has given me a hankering for an urban city break further afield.
Hmm, The Ace Hotel New York… now there’s an idea!
December 29, 2013 in food, interior styling
With New Year’s Eve coming up, I wanted to share a shoot I worked on recently with the talented photographer Beth Evans for The Observer Food Monthly in conjunction with John Lewis. Although this was Part 2 of ideas for a stylish Christmas it’s also perfect for New Year. The theme was cocktails in the jazz age, so think The Great Gatsby to get you into the party mood.
Drinks were served in cut glass tumblers and hi balls, food served in stainless steel bowls, set on geometric fabric tablecloths to set the scene. Cocktail shakers with their timeless and elegant shape were necessary to make the drinks and added a sculptural shape to the images.
I wrapped gifts in silver paper with strings of sequins wound round them and topped with feathers. Party food was luscious and luxuriant; deep, dark velvety grapes, devils on horseback, smoked salmon blinis and juicy vibrant olives, pomegranates and Pavlova all set in low light with twinkling candles. Recipes include Between The Sheets, Gin Rickey and Mint Julep. All quite potent from the small sips I tried!
As part of the overall feature I also styled and prepped the set for three short films for John Lewis with writer and presenter Felicity Cloake. Here Felicity shows you how to mix the perfect cocktail:
Have a look at Beth Evans’ food, interiors and still life photography in her online portfolio here. Chrissie T Holden assisted with food and styling.
You can read the full story and see other images, ideas, tips, recipes and a competition to win a cookery class and a set of copper cookware! now over on The Guardian Online. There is also a great interactive version with high res images and videos:
All the props are available to buy at John Lewis so if you want to know what any of the products featured are the click on the main image on that page and you can see the product names and prices.
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and wish you the very best for the new year!
December 11, 2013 in news
I am excited to tell you that the baubles I designed last Christmas are available to buy exclusively at Not On The High Street.com. Made by The Letteroom, they are available in neon pink and neon yellow/green with sequins or snowflakes inside and you can have the message customised to something personal to you, or give them as a gift to a friend or loved ones with their name added. It’s up to you. And if you choose the right message I think these would look perfect hanging up all year round!
As seen on TV! The baubles also appear in the fab NOTHS Christmas TV advertising campaigns too, which was a lovely surprise, as well as on the cover of their Christmas catalogue. There’s a twinkle in the air and everything’s more interesting…
If you would like to give your tree a neon pop sparkle this Christmas you can order them now at notonthehighstreet.com.
If you prefer a more traditional Christmas colour scheme I also designed the red and white version below. These are also available at Not On The High Street as well as directly from The Letteroom (whose Christmas catalogue I styled). This one is filled with paper snowflakes and you can choose personalised tape or a written tag with your very own unique message.
We will be putting up our Christmas decorations this weekend, something the whole family gets involved with. My children love pulling the baubles and lights out of the storage box and hanging them on the tree and we all smile as the lights get switched on for the first time.
Christmas is coming and I hope you have a wonderful time. x
Order neon baubles >
Order traditional baubles here or here >
Top photos courtesy notonthehighstreet.com and The Letteroom, other photos by Sania Pell.
November 29, 2013 in homemade, interior styling
A few weeks ago I was asked by Liberty to make a Liberty Christmas stocking for Sew Liberty and their blog. I came up with and made a few different designs and worked with interiors and still life photographer Joanna Henderson on the photos. We had a fun few hours shooting them up in my loft studio.
These festive stockings are easy to make and add a little Liberty style to Christmas. Mix and match different patterns, buttons, trims and motifs to add visual interest. The memories associated with these hand-made pieces, will be treasured for years to come, they could easily become family heirlooms passed down to future generations of children to hang on Christmas Eve.
Materials and equipment:
Fabric that won’t fray when cut – such as suiting wool, felt, finely woven linen.
A mix of Liberty print fabric in different scales and patterns
Pencil and paper to draw a larger template
Ribbons and trimmings
Needle and thread
Buttons for covering, lace flowers and beads (optional)
Wool and cardboard to make pompoms
To make a stocking:
Step 1: Measure your base fabric to make your stocking, either with one piece folded in half or two pieces pinned together. The stockings are 60cm long by 25cm wide from heel to toe with a top opening of 17cm diameter. You can adjust the sizing to suit the size of your fabric or make the stocking wider to accommodate larger gifts.
Step 2: Print out my template for reference and draw out a template on paper to the appropriate size. If you do not feel confident drawing then a photocopy shop can scale it up for you. Then pin the paper shape to your base fabric and cut out, so when you cut you end up with two pieces of stocking shaped fabric.
Step 3: Iron bondaweb onto the reverse of your chosen Liberty print fabrics.
Step 4: Cut out a toe, heal, top band and stars or flower shapes to the appropriate sizes and pin them in place, bondaweb side down.
Step 5: Iron them in place on a medium heat. You only need to do one side of the stocking if being hung, but you could do both sides of the stocking if you prefer.
Step 6: Add Liberty print covered buttons, vintage lace flowers, beading and vintage buttons to add interest.
Step 7: Pin the two sides together and stitch with a small border of 0.5cm using the sewing machine.
Step 8: Stitch a 15-20cm length of ribbon in a loop on to the top band to hang the stocking and embellish with extra trims.
Step 9: Sew on optional pompoms and tags to make the stockings more personal.
To make the pompoms:
Cut out two circles of card 8cm in diameter with a 3cm hole in the middle. Wind the wool round and round until the hole in the middle becomes small. Cut through the center of the two pieces of card and tie a piece of wool securely around the two and pull. Trim the length of the wool down until a thick pompom is achieved, stitch onto the stocking.
To make the tags:
Cut out a rectangle of fabric, snip off the corners and make a hole for the ribbon. Cut out letters or shapes such as birds from the fabric and iron into place with bondaweb.
As the fabric I was using had a little bird motif within its design, I cut out the bird shape and used it as a decoration amongst some rosehips.
I first met photographer Jo Henderson on a shoot a long time ago when we were still both assisting and we worked on some test shoots together to start our portfolios. We recently worked together styling and photographing a book for my publisher Cico Books. It was lovely to see Jo again and we have continued to work together on some other projects.
See Jo’s work on her website here.
It makes things a little more interesting if all the designs are slightly varied. I made fabric covered buttons for the pink stocking above creating little spots of pattern dotted down its length. You can see the original post over on the Liberty blog.
Liberty print fabrics used:
Joyce A Tana Lawn, Capel F Tana Lawn, Wiltshire S Tana Lawn, Mitsi Valeria C Tana Lawn, Mitsi D Tana Lawn, Marco A Tana Lawn, Glenjade in red Tana Lawn.
Left over strips of fabric can also be used as ribbon to wrap around gifts and make them look extra special like in the image below.
I made stockings for my own children when they were babies and they still get so excited as they hang them up, imagining what Santa will fill them with while they sleep. I hope they’ll keep the stockings and use them for their own children one day.
Happy making x
This design and project is for non-commercial, personal use only. Design © 2013 Sania Pell.