Archive for February 2012
February 29, 2012 in diy craft projects, vintage finds
Over the last year I seem to have collected a rather large selection of old watch and clock faces from car boot sales and fairs. I love their graphic quality and can’t resist them, using them in projects, displays and as ornaments. Following on from my wristwatch post and the purchase of a new graphic tea cup while in Whitstable, it occurred to me that the larger ones could become a perfect coaster for my new cup and protect the surface of my freshly painted kitchen table.
I now have a large selection including some much larger clock faces too which would look fun in the base of a circular tray.
This time of year is my favourite for flowers, with beautiful new blossom available in my local florist. I couldn’t help but include it in the photos.
My pretty, striped new cup is a ‘tea bowl’ by ceramacist Vicky Hageman and was recently purchased from Frank in Whitstable, Kent – a little memento of our visit. In the top photo the sugar bowl is from Arne Jacobsen‘s Cylinda Line series by Stelton and the small spoon was from Muji. My well-used Ikea kitchen table that they are sitting on has been refreshed in Farrow & Ball No.46 Downpipe grey. The little milk jug in the image below is from Priscilla Carluccio’s Few and Far, a lovely store which is sadly closing.
A quick and simple idea for a little bit of fun at tea time. Now where’s the biscuit tin?
February 24, 2012 in inspiring places
It was yet another grey day that we chose to visit the coast during the school holidays last week. The sun hid behind the clouds all day, but it didn’t really matter as a visit to the coast is always a treat for us city dwellers, whatever the weather. Being by the sea with the salty, bracing air is refreshing and we all love the change of scene. We packed the car up with snacks for the journey, an optimistic blanket to sit on the beach, the camera and turned the radio up for our drive out of London to Whitstable on the Kent coast.
We had rented a little cottage for a week’s holiday a couple of years ago and the whole family loved it, so thought we would return for a spontaneous day trip. It is a charming fishing town, without being overly touristy or sickly seaside sweet, and its working harbour makes it feel real rather than just a summer destination. Wandering the side streets and along the beach wall reveals gorgeous shiplapped cottages, fisherman’s huts and buildings.
First stop was lunch at the excellent Whitstable Oyster Company restaurant overlooking the sea, a special treat. We all chose a different seafood – oysters, squid, crab, mussels, sardines – so we could have a taste of each others and they were all delicious. The children love trying different things and my son even tried an oyster!
There are some interesting vintage and antique shops at the top end of Oxford Street like Valentines Vintage and Warehams among others, as well as the usual myriad of charity shops you find in coastal towns. At the other end of town, Harbour Street has lots of great, independent boutiques to browse including The Sugar Boy old fashioned sweet shop, Sundae Sundae for a fun bit of everything, Buttercup for children’s toys and gifts and the fab Frank for British graphic screen prints, handmade stationery, books and other goodies. The harbour also has a fresh fish market and is great to wander around the black, wooden huts and watch the fisherman (grab a pot of winkles or cockles in vinegar or the delicious local oysters).
And the traditional British favourite, fish and chips, is a must-have; taken away, eaten from the bag, sitting on the harbour wall, over-looking the sea. Yum.
We hopped back in the car after dark, missing the traffic and returned home, the children drifting off to sleep in the back.
I’m already looking forward to our next family day trip to the seaside, but where next?
If you like this post have a look at my posts about Rye and Suffolk.
February 17, 2012 in new finds, vintage finds
I didn’t wear a watch the whole way through writing, making, styling and shooting my new book and it bugged me. I like to glance at my wrist and see how I’m doing for time and the strap had broken on my old one a while ago. I know I have a clock on my phone but when your hands are covered in wet paint or filled with needles/buttons/pen or camera then it’s just not the same. I love the simplicity of a watch strapped to your wrist that you can simply turn and glance at, with no buttons to push or codes to enter. So after I’d finished my book and handed everything over to my publisher I looked for a new one. I found this one whilst browsing in SCP, a favourite furniture and lifestyle shop of mine in East London. I bought a it as a gift to myself for finishing my book.
It is large and a definite statement piece on my wrist, like a practical piece of jewellery, and I have had lots of lovely comments whilst wearing it. I love its classic yet contemporary feel, the graphic quality, the grey of its face, the natural warm brown of the leather strap, the practicality of not having to wind it up and the date there in a little square.
It is a British-designed 200 Series watch by Uniform Wares, an exciting, young and stylish company, and their varied range come in many different faces, colour and strap combinations. You can get them at SCP and also from Uniform themselves.
I photographed it alongside some of my other favourite graphic implements of measurement– a selection of vintage rulers. I bought them over time at car boot sales, flea markets and one we even discovered under the floorboards of our home whilst renovating.
Now every time I check the time I think fondly and it reminds me of my book, the reward at the end of five months hard work.
February 14, 2012 in news
I had a play with some homemade and vintage love hearts and 19th century hand-written letters. I was only going to post one image but I couldn’t decide which one I liked the most, so I posted them all for you to choose which one you like best.
With love on Valentine’s Day
February 10, 2012 in books, news
Following my home being featured in the Liberty Chic book last year, I was asked by another Japanese publisher if it could be featured in an interior design book. I love Japanese books; their design, smaller size and they are always filled with creativity and style. I said yes straight away and am so pleased I did. A few days ago a package arrived out of the blue, containing a copy of the new book as a sweet surprise.
It is a guide to decorating called Wall Color Interior by Yuki Kubota and Chieko Tomita, part of an ‘Interiors of Europe’ series. It is packed with photos and features 21 homes from Berlin, Copenhagen and London. There are lessons, advice and how-to’s plus a case study of each home, although it is in Japanese only. The home on the front cover above belongs to Kristine Lavigne of Danish design collective Meyer-Lavigne in Copenhagen. Below are a few of the spreads of my home in London with images taken by photographer Teruyuki Yoshimura.
It is published by Graphic Publishing Co and you can find out about it and many others from the Interiors of Europe series here.
I couldn’t resist putting together a little Japanese-inspired display to photograph with the book.
The only problem I now have after receiving a copy is that I want to go back to Berlin, Copenhagen and Japan! I had better start saving…
February 6, 2012 in flowers, homemade
As I was finishing my winter flower post and looking at the hellebores that I had sketched with my camera, I had an urge to paint these beautiful flowers. I had been wanting to paint for a while and it gave me just the inspiration I needed. So this weekend I dusted off my acrylic paints, brushes, palette knife and palette and spent a few hours playing with paint. I had a few plain canvases around the house that I had previously painted with household emulsion in various shades of greys and greens, that I knew would work with my room decor, and used them as my base. I painted quickly and instinctively, rather than sketching anything on the canvas with pencil first, as I wanted to keep it free and use loose brush marks to make the shapes of the flowers.
As a full time textile designer in a busy design studio, I was always painting and drawing flowers in different styles and using different mediums such as ink, watercolour, acrylic, stitching and embroidery. That was a few years ago now but it felt good to get the paints out once again. The great thing with acrylic on canvas is that you can add to it later or paint over it and start again if you like, it just adds to the texture of the canvas.
I couldn’t resist photographing some of the flowers on the palette where I mixed the colours and on my desk – the splats, drips and marks making interesting combinations of colour and texture.
As well as the canvas, I painted on handmade paper and I also stretched fresh cartridge paper on a board and used water for a floaty effect.
As the natural base colours reflected my home I knew they would sit happily in my room, with the hellebores positioned next to them picking up the colour palette.
I now have so many ideas having painted this weekend I think I’ll need to stock up next time I’m at the art shop!
February 3, 2012 in flowers
I have several favourite flowers but I would have to say Hellebores are up there in my top ten, maybe even my top five. They are little patches of colour in an otherwise desolate winter garden, with their heads bowing down towards the earth. This particular one is especially dear to me as it originally came from my parents’ garden before they moved, the family garden where I grew up. I took these photos last week after a long day of phone calls and writing emails. I had had enough of technology and before the afternoon light faded I picked these from the garden and grabbed my camera for a little creativity.
The delicate colour, neither pink nor purple but somewhere inbetween, is just beautiful and the splashes of deeper colour add a beautiful texture. The beasties have nibbled them in parts making them imperfect, but I like that and it just adds to their character.
They also add ground cover all year round as their leaves are evergreen. I have other Hellebore varieties planted too, pure white ones and pale greenish too,which catch my eye as I look out from my kitchen.
They are a welcome sight in my garden but I will occasionally pick a small bunch like this to bring inside and enjoy. I love the simplicity of a sweet little posy on my mantlepiece. This year I planted them in pots on my window sill in the front garden too, to welcome me home. They will then be re-planted in my garden later to bring joy again next year.
I played about with the flowers, shooting them in a favourite vase at first, then against painted canvases, and finally dissecting one rather like in a Victorain botanical illustration.
Placed flat on this handmade paper, that I roughly painted with household emulsion, the flowers themselves look almost painterly…
Ooh, that’s given me an idea on where to take this next… now where did I put my paints and brushes?
February 1, 2012 in books, news
The first peek inside my new book The Homemade Home for Children is available on the newsagent’s shelves! The new March issue of Elle Decoration magazine in the UK features one of my projects as an ‘inspired idea’ in their decorating section, showing the ideas in my book aren’t just for kids and can be interpreted however you like.
I’m afraid that’s all I can share for now but if you want to be one of the first to receive my new book you can pre-order now at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk