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Demystifying The Interior Design Store


I've been meaning for a while to do a post on demystifying interior design stores.  Before I started considering interior design as a profession I had no real idea of how such shops operated.  I think I thought you'd only go into one if you wanted, and could afford, to have the owner do a full interior design job on your house.

A good example of how such a shop actually functions is David Gavin in West Didsbury, Manchester.  The owner, Matt, is an interior designer turned retailer.  He knows how to choose product for the shop and he understands how it will work in someone's home.  When you peer through his constantly-changing shop window, you will see shelves of fabric and wallpaper books.  The choice is so vast that it can be quite overwhelming.  If you can come up with a starting point for your search (you want something bold, blue, subtle, glamorous etc. or an image you've seen in a magazine), Matt can direct you to the sample books that might just hold what you want.


 Image above, David Gavin Interiors - those shelves to the left hold fabulous fabric and wallpaper books.

When you go inside you'll see papers and fabrics being used in settings, and that can help you to imagine how a small sample you like in a book could work in your home.  Not everyone would brave the Fornasetti Acquario (fish) paper on all the walls of their living room, but if you saw it here you might think it could be funky on the chimney breast in a study.  The Fornasetti Nuvolette (cloud) paper might be hard to picture on a ceiling in your home, but seeing it used in-situ might help you make the leap to putting it in your dining room:

You might be forgiven for thinking that the Cole and Son Flamingos paper was only really suitable for use in the kind of homes you see in magazines, but when you see it up close on an expanse of wall with a mirror on it you realize it isn't as wild as it might seem:

 It's a shame to limit the choice of fabrics for your home to those you can see in bolts of cloth in fabric outlets and department stores.  Those sample books hold some of the most beautiful fabrics you can imagine.  Some of them will be incredibly expensive but others are a more affordable luxury.  Most of the fabrics in a shop like David Gavin will be priced between £30 and £150.  You might only need two metres for a lovely blind and if you can make the blind yourself that's ok too.

With a bit of direction from the owner,  you can browse through the fabric and wallpaper books and give free rein to your imagination.  A good store will lend you books to try at home and even request samples for you. There is no obligation to buy, as long as you don't use their expertise, time and resources and then go and order on the internet, but then that's a no no with any kind of bricks and mortar shop.

You might find that spending £60 on a roll of wallpaper for the chimney breast, or even a couple of hundred pounds for a wall, is a great investment and finally helps you achieve the stylish look you've been trying for.

It's partly about choosing the right store and building relationships.  The shop round the corner from your house might not be the ideal one for you.  There's an interiors shop in Altrincham, I won't name it, where one of the owners is so hilariously snobby it would make a cat laugh.  More than one of my friends has been unceremoniously ushered out of that shop because some "VIP" celebrity or other was due to arrive!  Not my idea of great customer service.

Check out David Gavin Design here: http://davidgavindesign.co.uk/

I hope I've helped you to see interiors shops with fresh eyes and maybe even persuaded you to give it a go.



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St Pancras Hotel


Hope you've been having a lovely summer and are enjoying the prospect of September and the new beginnings it often heralds.  For me July and August tend to be extremely busy and I rarely take a break.  Clients are often away and it's a good time to get intrusive work done on their homes so I like to be around.  If you follow me on Twitter you'll know that I enjoyed a long weekend off in July to celebrate a 'big birthday'.  I did this in some style with a stay at the St. Pancras Hotel with my partner, David.  Here is the photographic proof:

I wouldn't always choose a big hotel over a chic boutique one but I really wanted to see what they'd done with this hotel and I'd found it reassuringly friendly when I'd popped in for a quick drink a while ago.  I thought I'd get lots of photos of great style statements but that was not to be and yet I wasn't disappointed.  The furniture and furnishings are very much standard hotel fare and you barely notice them.  What you do notice is the striking building.  The hotel's website has many professional quality photos that show it off rather well so do check it out (link below).  Here I'll share my snaps to give you a flavour of the areas you might be tempted to use.


The Booking Office Bar (above) manages to feel rather glamorous and cool but still casual.  The bar and the furniture is grafted onto the original ticket office hall so the architectural detail and history is still all there to see through the dim lighting.  A small gripe for me is that the oversized bland rectangular light shades hanging over the bar conceal some of the detail that it would be great to see.

The Gilbert Scott Bar (two images below), named after the hotel's original architect, is accessed directly off the street and felt slightly more serene than the Booking Office.  We popped in for a nightcap after the theatre and a dinner out which felt terribly sophisticated, even though I plumped for a hot chocolate (no marshmallows, that would be childish).

I feared the hotel's Gilbert Scott Restaurant would be a bit stuffy and overpriced but it turned out to be friendly and on a par with any other nice London restaurant.  We did roll our eyes a little when the guy from the couple at the next table, aged in their early twenties, asked to see the sommelier for the third time to show off his French and knowledge of wines - almost as entertaining as the lovely live piano music.


The corridor to the new part of the hotel is lined with life-sized images of people who could've staffed the hotel wayback when.  I thought this fellow looked quite ghostly until I saw this snap of me standing next to him and realized that I actually look rather ghostly myself (pale and interesting?).

If you have a chance to stay at the hotel I can highly recommend it.  Failing that you can still pop in and use the bars or the restaurant or even have tea and cake in the lobby.  The staff are lovely and if you are taking the train from St Pancras, King's Cross or even Euston (10 minutes walk away) you'll find it a relaxing place to wait and unwind.

For much better images and lots of info, check out the website:






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New Fabrics to Delight


Hope you're enjoying the lengthening of the days rather than dwelling too much on how wet it is much of the time - people who've been flooded can definitely be forgiven for dwelling on that.  One of the many positive aspects of working in interior design is that Spring seems to come quite early in the form of the launch of new collections of fabrics and wallpapers etc.  I've been devouring the sample books old and new in recent weeks because I'm looking for quite a few things for different projects.  There are so many gorgeous fabrics and I thought I'd share with you just a few of my favourites.  This is a fairly random selection in no particular order but they are all examples that I could see myself using in some context.

 The first example below is Florica Azalea/Turquoise by Harlequin from the collection Jardin Boheme.  It is a cotton chenille that feels lovely.  If you described it to someone listing all the colours it might sound garish or sugary and the second colourway below this (Coral/Indigo) could indeed have been quite brash.  The clever designers have anchored the whole thing on such well-chosen greys (and a dash of black amongst the coral) so that the overall effect is a fresh, bright and contemporary delight.



The Colefax and Fowler Celestine Old Blue linen below is a bit more traditional than my usual choices but I think the subtle colour palette is exquisite.  It is almost lovely enough just for the perfect shades of blue and grey and stone but then they've introduced a subtle but divine hint of mauve.  That's the colour I'd especially pick up on in the rest of the room.

 Another fabric from Colefax & Fowler, this time from the Manuel Canovas brand, is the on-trend Academia (bleu).  I love the cabinet of curiosities look and it underlines the current taste for clever display and arranging things into vignettes.  It is a fun fabric masquerading as something more serious.  Placing the shelves and objects on a toile de Jouy background challenges the user to add their own quirk to a room rather than just letting the print do all the work - or maybe that's just me!

 The Osborne and Little aptly named Butterfly Garden fabric below is quite special.  The beautiful big roses and the background are all monochrome.  Only the gorgeous butterflies are coloured so that each butterfly has a starring role.  This only comes in one colourway which suggests they think they achieved perfection and couldn't improve on it.

Jean Paul Gaultier created this ethereal design.  Of all the designs in this post this is the one I'm most keen to use.  It manages to pack a real punch and be very wow whilst remaining quite neutral and easy to work with.


Fabrics as lovely as these usually come with hefty price tags so are best used in small quantities.  In most schemes I would tend to use more modest fabrics for large expanses - they are lovely too but a nice plain linen doesn't photograph so well - and keep the more expensive material for smaller areas.  The sofa below was transformed using just two metres of Lelievre's Sonie Rykiel Rue de Visconti Dragee.

If I can find the time soon, I'll share with you some of my wallpaper picks of the moment.



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A Lancashire Lass Goes over the Border


I remember as a child being told that I was no longer to write my address as Manchester, Lancashire but was supposed to put the county as Greater Manchester.  I didn't like it then and I don't like it now.  Lancashire is a proper county with a history and a character that I relate to strongly.  Greater Manchester is a vague sprawl and a bureaucratic invention.  Part of the identity of Lancashire is tied up with how it relates to its neighbouring county,  Yorkshire.  I view Yorkshire as a good friend that I see too little of and whose company I greatly enjoy.

This is the beautiful old Blacksmith's Cottage we stayed in - don't you just love that stone!  It belongs to a lovely client and she and I renovated and decorated it two or three years ago.  You can see some of my own snaps of the interior in my Portfolio section on this website.

We kick-started the weekend with a trip to Bettys Tea Rooms in Harrogate.  I can't bear to go to Harrogate without going to Bettys.  It is a proper old-fashioned tearoom with a delightful resident piano player and friendly and professional staff all kitted out in black and white to add to the atmosphere.  The food is always delicious and it manages to be more glamorous than twee.  There is often a queue to get in but it goes down surprisingly quickly.  One section of the café is in a basement with no windows, not nearly as awful as it sounds but I always wait for a table in the main room as I love to peer out of the window and enjoy the town.



 The photos on the Bettys website are rather better than mine:

On the Saturday we had the unexpected bonus of meeting up with my sister and her husband who, by pure coincidence, had booked to stay in nearby Grassington for the Grassington Dickensian Christmas Festival.  I'd never been to the village before and would've loved it on any day of the week but it was a bit special with the morris dancers and carol singers, locals dressed in Dickensian costume,  vendors of hot chestnuts and market stalls.

You can get a flavour from my images below but also from the official website.   The festival is happening again on the next two Saturdays.



Yorkshire Grassington Dickensian Character




Not a cheery photo but it does give an indication that life in a picturesque Yorkshire village is not and has not always been totally idyllic:  The children listed on this grave stone all died before they left their teens, the youngest being an infant.

A small detour on our way home to Manchester on Sunday took us to Yorkshire Sculpture Park.  They recently won the Northern Design Award for best independent retailer but that really is the least of their talents.   Much as I love to visit the countryside I'm not a great one for country walks.  I have to know how long a walk is really going to take and what reward, in the form of delicious food, I'm going to get at the end of it.  This is one country park where I would make an exception because you are rewarded for your efforts every few hundred yards by the sight of some weird, wonderful or otherwise impressive work of art.

Ten Seated Figures by Magdalena Abakanowicz


Judas by Elizabeth Frink


Cloaked Figure by Lynn Chadwick

This piece by Sophie Ryder is a hare (no, not a rabbit you fool! Don't you know the difference!  Well, ok, maybe I did think it was a rabbit at first.....)  - The enchanting Camellia House and my obliging man in the background should give you an idea of the scale of this piece.

Crawling Lady Hare by Sophie Ryder

We were there at the end of the day for a couple of hours and barely scratched the surface.  Definitely a place that warrants repeat visits.  Go in the right frame of mind and you will love it.



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Lest We Forget


Whenever I go to Liberty Department Store in London I  take my time going up the stairs as the staircase, like the rest of the store, is so very lovely.  I don't know when I first really took in the meaning of this plaque.  It just formed part of the fabric of the building and didn't immediately jump out at me.  I think that is often the way with war memorials.  We become so accustomed to seeing them that we often bearly give them a second thought.

A couple of weeks ago I spent a happy afternoon in Clitheroe, Lancashire and took a walk up to the delightfully positioned Clitheroe Castle.  In the grounds of the castle I was very moved by this memorial that was erected by the people of Clitheroe to honour the men of the town who died in the First World War.  The size, bulk and stance of the figure is a powerful reminder that the names on such memorials represent real men and it is fitting that the statue occupies such a prominent position.

I don't know how many times I must've passed these plaques on the side of this building on Regent Street in Altrincham, Cheshire but I never before realised it was a war memorial.  Without the poppy wreaths it is very discrete which makes its inscription all the more shocking when you read it. (From 60 houses on what had been Chapel Street 161 men volunteered and served in the 1914-18 war.  29 of them lost their lives). 

 War memorials large and small are so interwoven with the architecture of our cities, towns and villages that it's easy to take them for granted, but I'm sure I'm not alone in being glad of them.  However busy our lives are there will always be times when we are brought up short by the significance of them.

The memorial below stands outside the Library in the city village where I live, Didsbury in Manchester.  I love the fact that it is in such a key spot in the village and imagine that for generations children will pass with adults and ask questions about it.

I'd taken the first three photos on this blog post before I even thought about doing a post on them.  I was prompted to post because of the timing, it being Armistice Day today.  When I decided to do a post and had a think about which local memorials I might pop and take a photo of, I was surprised at how many I had to choose from.  When you're driving around tomorrow, going about your normal business, take special heed of memorials and you'll see that they are many and quite varied.

For my final photo I chose the one below which is in a small park in Ardwick Green just a stone's throw from the centre of Manchester.  It is located just outside the local Territorial Army Centre.  Itself a reminder that the dead of war are not just a thing of the past.


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My Top Five Ikea Furniture Picks


I had to do a quick dash to Ikea the other night to buy a few rugs and blinds to make a client's new home a bit more liveable in for the months before the renovations happen.  By the way, the really inexpensive (priced from around £6 to £15) and very useful Tupplur roller blinds are being discontinued.  They just have what stocks are left in their stores so you'd best hurry if you think you might need some.

I took a few snaps of some of my favourite things in store at the moment and thought I'd share them with you in no particular order.

I love this glamorous armchair.  It feels lovely and luxurious and is comfy to sit on.  It also swivels which makes it more fun.  It isn't cheap at £250 but it looks more expensive than that.  Would be fab in a bedroom but would also add a nice vibe to a sitting room:


Stockholm Sandbacka Dark Beige Armchair

There were some really stylish and practical display cabinets.  This Stockholm Glass Door Cabinet wouldn't look out of place in Heals or The Conran Shop with a somewhat heftier price tag than £275.  It comes in a very nice warm beige or, for the braver amongst you, a bright zingy yellow.

Ikea Stockholm Glass Display Cabinet

The Fabrikor display cabinet is also glazed on four sides and comes in a powder-coated steel.  I love the rounded sides and slightly splayed legs.  It comes in beige, light green and dark grey.  It is £150.  Love the three together as pictured:


While we're looking at great display cabinets I'll just throw this one into the mix.  It is the Ikea PS 2012. I hesitated to include it because I think it is quite pricey at £395 but it is just a bit different and slightly intriguing - it's not at all obvious just how you're supposed to open it (it opens as a full door).  It would show off even quite humble items to good effect - see the link below for how Ikea have styled it.  It comes in white but would look even better in a solid colour or black:


Moving back to something more comfy.  I was quite drawn to this smart bed frame.    It can be difficult to find nice beds if you're on a tight budget.  This Nyvoll double bed (140cm x 200cm) is £185.  It comes in a contemporary-looking light grey and a medium brown - looks a bit too ordinary in the brown to me.  It is very neutral as a piece and could work in most interiors.  Ikea mattresses are also good quality and value.


Hope there's something on that list that is useful to you or someone you know.  I'm really tempted by the swivel chair, even though I know I could do a lot of damage if let loose on it.


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Cute Cars


Seems like a while back now but in the summer I was roped into taking a friend's 2CV to a vintage car show in Didsbury, Manchester.  I'm not normally terribly interested in cars but I do like a nice vintage number.  It struck me how much more attractive I find them than I do the cars of today.  They seem to have such personality, such lovely colours and, often, such glamour.

These examples are so cute to look at head on.  It's almost like looking at a face.  I'm sure the owners of these vehicles will have given them names because they seem to have personality.

I like the chrome and the grilles on the three below but I really love the  colours:

A car like this one would be quite exotic on the streets of Great Britain but it would certainly add some glamour: 

The interiors seem to me to be so much more glamorous.  These steering wheels are like works of art:

Below is the cutie that I drove to the show.  She looks cute but the challenge of driving her reminded me that looks aren't everything when it comes to cars.  Maybe today's cars aren't all that bad after all.

Perhaps I'll look at modern cars with fresh eyes at some point and do a little post on some modern day favourites.


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Architecture: Balcony Spotting in the South of France


August has gone by in a blur of work and deadlines with the odd oasis of fun thrown in, not that work isn't fun at times but it's a far cry from lazing in the sun and hanging out in cafes, my preferred summer activity.  I was looking through some snaps from my trip to France in July and I thought I'd share with you some examples of one of my favourite architectural delights, that is beautiful balconies.  

All the images are of gorgeous decorative ironwork that can be seen if you look up when walking the streets  of Narbonne, Beziers and Montpellier.  


Even a fairly modest apartment like the one we rented has a rather lovely balcony.  This is the view we woke to each morning, just so typically French and casually beautiful.

Looking up at buildings pays off in lots of ways.  The details below these balconies are also stunning, classic stone corbels and beautifully carved details such as cherubs and quite often a striking face.

This top floor balcony looks out on the centre of Montpellier. Can't you just see yourself in that apartment, popping out onto the balcony occasionally to watch the world go by?

Even quite modest small towns in France, and other continental cities for that matter, have exquisite examples of decorative ironwork.  Do make a point of looking out for such gems next time you're abroad.


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Antique Hunting: Pezenas, France


Here's a post for those of you who may be up for a spot of antique hunting in France, if not this summer then maybe sometime in the not too distant future.  When I first started trying to buy antiques in France in the late 90s I and my partner would often waste a good deal of time and fuel driving round trying to find antique shops with only the vaguest notion of their locations.  The advent of the internet and the SatNav has made life a lot easier when it comes to tracking down promising sources but you can still cover a lot of miles between worthwhile outlets. 

There are a few places where good antique shops spring up obligingly close together.  One such gem of a place is Pezenas in the South of France.  It's a lovely languid small French town.  Always hot, always a little dusty.  The buildings are casually beautiful and somehow fading without ever looking anything less than chic.

Pezenas is on the tourist trail even for those who aren't especially interested in antiques.   For a small town it has an impressive looking tourist office (Building below left):

Moliere, who spent his formative writing years in Pezenas, is made much of with at least one hotel and a restaurant named after him and a statue erected in his honour: 

The main attraction certainly is the many antique shops.  There are so many and they offer such an array of goods that you are bound to find something to take home with you.  On the whole the prices are pretty fair once you've bartered them down a little - they won't be offended as long as you don't suggest a ridiculously low price. 

I can't pass places like these in the images below without wanting to go in to see if they have any fabulous items that would really suit a client's home.

If you are into vintage and antique pieces you will love Pezenas.  Let me know if you ever get there.


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Standing The Test of Time - Part Two


I thought I'd get back into my blogging routine by posting the second part of my assessment of some of my old scheme/mood boards.  The image below shows a scheme for a sitting room in the same house as the family room in part one of this post.  The brief was to create a moody, glamorous room, mainly for grown ups, that could be used for socialising and watching films.

 Sitting Room Scheme from 2005

Initially the client was very keen to retain the large purple L-shaped sofa.  I wasn't at all keen on that sofa but sometimes you have to work with things you don't love.  The tactic I used then is the same as I use now in such circumstances, I created a look that would suit the sofa just fine but that was in no way dictated by it.  That way when the client decided that it would be better to change the sofa after all it was very easy to work a different sofa into the look.  

We never purchased the dark Louis ghost chairs that were intended for the bay window because the client spied a super vintage steel desk for the study and we both thought it would be unexpected and striking in the sitting room bay instead.  That's an item that is definitely standing the test of time:  A few months ago I placed a similar desk in a study area on a landing where it looks fabulous and just this month I "stored" such a desk in the bay window of my sitting room  - here is an image of it to give you an idea of how it looked in the room for the scheme:

You can see details of this desk here:  

The vintage French chandelier is timeless as antique lighting so often is.  I chose one with amethyst drops to tie in a little with the sofa but coloured drops in an original chandelier look good in almost any setting.  They add interest and the colours can be picked up elsewhere in a room or left to stand alone.

The antique French mirror will never date especially as it is not a style that is much copied and it is very evidently an original. 

The fabric sample on the board conceals the Malabar wallpaper in silver by Cole & Son which I chose because I loved the bold rich pattern.  We just put it on the main wall (chimney breast and alcoves).  The subtle colour kept it from overwhelming the space.  The paper is such a classic design that I would happily use it today.

 Cole & Son Malabar Wallpaper in Silver
The curtain fabric, Liberty Tuxedo Margarita by Osborne and Little, was chosen to be plush and luxurious.  I still like it but these days I would perhaps choose a lovely wool as that would be more contemporary but still classic, as I did in this room recently:

 The curtains I would perhaps choose for that scheme today

The popularity of mirrored furniture became so great that every high street retailer brought out their own range.  When something takes off like that I find the best safeguard against spending money on a passing fad is to invest only in pieces that have some age to them and are good examples of their kind.  The 1950s mirrored occasional tables will always be usable in a home even if they reach a point where they are no longer wanted in the main living area - that time has not yet come to my mind.

Mercury accessories have been popular for years and will be so for a long time to come.  Nonetheless these days I would mix them up a bit with other pieces to give them a bit of a twist.

For me the jury is still out on whether the Louis console table from Heals is truly a future classic, like the Louis Ghost chair, or whether it will really just be of its time. 

All in all I feel quite happy that the scheme has aged rather well.  I would definitely tweak it in the ways I've outlined but I wouldn't feel like the room yet needed to be completely re-done, unless the kids have been allowed in to trash it of course!


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We Blog Design: Home Slice


This week I came across a rather fun company called Home Slice  http://www.homeslicedesign.com/ after I signed up to a kind of networking and inspiration site for bloggers called http://weblog-design.com/  If you are a blogger you might like to check that out.

Home Slice is a company that creates products that evoke the tiny details of British life.  They make the kind of things that would be super gifts to take to friends abroad if they are anglophiles or homesick ex-pats.

When I saw these cushions I was immediately filled with nostalgia for childhood days at the seaside.  The Blackpool cushion is what really does it for me.  If you're from the South of England Margate may be more your thing.  

This lampshade is also really evocative and moody, especially if you are a Londoner:


If you have a soft spot for spam and golden syrup, you might enjoy a browse of their site.

Hope you're making some lovely memories for the future this weekend.



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Building up Provenance


If you, like me, have seen many episodes of The Antiques Road Show, you'll know that having a record of where an antique has come from and where it has been can make it more valuable as well as more interesting.

This glamorous and groovy 1960s dressing table is currently for sale in http://www.davidgavindesign.co.uk/theshop.html where I sell lots of my pieces.  I love it just for itself; its shape, proportions, fabulous veneer, groovy legs, lovely knobs - great 1960s style.  I love it regardless of where it's come from.  When I'm buying pieces for the shop or for myself or for clients I tend to choose items that are intrinsically attractive and that I would love regardless of origin or even of whether they are genuine antiques or not, but I do get more of a kick out of something with a bit, or a lot, of history.

This dressing table isn't an antique yet, though it is a bit older than me and it already has a history.  I was delighted when I was handed the original bill of sale showing where it was bought, who bought it and for how much:


Below is an image of the dressing table where it is today: 

This is an image of how it looked when I spotted it at a trade only antiques fair in France.  I didn't know if it had its mirror when I spied it so I was really pleased when the two cool young French dealers pulled it out from the back of their van - don't think display was their forte.

It did enjoy a bit of a stint in my home (perk of the job) where it was much loved but an antique dealer can't just hang on to all the good pieces!


I'd like to think that this blog post could form part of its provenance too.  If you own or buy any good pieces of furniture or interesting objects do make the small effort required to maintain its record of ownership.  Someone at sometime in the future may be very thankful for it.

If you're in the UK have a fabulous Bank Holiday weekend.


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Standing the Test of Time - Part One


I'm just carrying out one of my occasional reassessments of my working methods.  Ideally I'd undergo some kind of peer review but as I'm self-employed and don't have any colleagues that's a little difficult.  I thought perhaps a good way to proceed would be to consider the key things I try to achieve in my work and attempt to measure the extent to which I succeed.  One goal that most interior designers and their clients share is to create looks for rooms that will stand the test of time.  With this in mind I pulled out and examined the first ever scheme/mood boards I created around 8 years ago.  I wanted to see if I'd included things that would now look rather dated.  I'm only sorry I don't have images of the rooms that arose from those schemes.  This was from a time before I appreciated the value of a good photo.

I'll let you be the final judge (or can that only be the client?) but I was not too horrified.

The image below is of a scheme for a family room.  The brief was for it to be child-friendly but smart and light and airy. The L-shaped sofa was an existing piece that the client was keen to retain.  I agreed that was a very good idea given that it was to be used by 4 small children as well the adults.   We removed the wall that separated this room from the kitchen.  The client was a little unsure about how they'd cope with an open-plan layout so wanted to have in mind an option for doors should she decide they were necessary.  I still really love the look of those doors but as it turned out they weren't needed.  The armchair was previously used in a bedroom in the old house but I thought it fitted well in this scheme so it was promoted.

From the off the Louis Ghost chairs looked like being a future classic and I think that is being borne out over time.  I still specify them in certain settings.  I've had one in my own bedroom for the past 8 years and still love it.  However, I'm reluctant to use them in the main dining area of a home simply because they are so very popular.  I prefer to find things that are less ubiquitous but maybe I'm being picky.

The table was Ikea's budget version of the Saarinen tulip-style table.  Such a simple yet pleasing shape was a fairly safe bet - it is unlikely to ever look naff, even if it has been through a period of being a little overused. 

The capiz shell light was available at the time through Graham and Green (still quite a cool shop) and Laura Ashley (never cool and yet the source of the odd gem).  This is a lovely light and is wearing well, partly due to the intrinsic beauty of capiz shell, and partly because of its generous size.  It worked particularly well in this setting because I teamed it with a rather whimsical vintage French chandelier of similar proportions over the kitchen island, which was at the other end of this room.  I must admit I used the original French chandelier in part because in my interiors I like to use things that can't too readily be copied.  The scheme would still have worked well with a pair of the capiz shell lights but perhaps not be quite so interesting.

I'm really happy with the use of pink as the key injection of colour - as used in the classic Roberts radio, client's own deco lamp ( I snaffled it from a bedroom), the Habitat blossom lights and the lovely vase holder adorned with pink roses.  It's such a beautiful and cheering colour and, if not overdone, need not be sugary or overly girly.  I must admit I'm having something of a blue moment in my current interiors schemes and I'm loving that but I'm certainly not feeling that pink is passe.  As recently as December I used glorious pops of pink in a largely grey hall, stairs and landing. 

The image of the different coloured dinner candles was to demonstrate the use of some small injections of tutti frutti colours - could've illustrated that with an image of some actual tutti-frutti sweets but I would've eaten them, possibly before the photo was taken.

The gilt frame on the right in the picture and the gold coloured letters spelling CAKE on the left were my suggestions for the introduction of some gold.  People are often a little reluctant to use gold because they fear it will look glitzy but if used with care it just adds a little bit of glamour and gives a room a lift.  Gold never goes out of fashion, it just has to be handled with care.

The colour I used on the walls was Paris Grey by Zoffany.  It worked beautifully.  It is more of a stone than a grey and at the time I thought I'd use it a lot in the future.  As it turns out, I've hardly used it at all until last week when I specified it in two rooms of the same house because it is a perfect complement to the wallpapers I wanted to use. 

Well, that's my assessment of that scheme.  What's yours?  I'd love to have your impression via my comments section.

In my next post I'll examine a couple more of my first schemes and explain how my boards have evolved and, I think, improved over time.



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Clever and Creative Ways with Plants and Flowers


Hope you've got the same feeling as I have today of summer sunshine being just round the corner.  I really felt the sun beating down on my face while I was out on an errand earlier.  It was heartening to see so many beautiful flowers and plants that people had taken the time to nurture in the gardens in my area.  I was, however, hoping to spot a few examples of some clever and imaginative planters and displays but didn't spot anything that was at all out of the ordinary.  Including in my own garden, I have to add.

I thought I'd share with you a few ideas I've come across lately of original and interesting ways to display plants and flowers.  Flowers are so beautiful that you can really just stick them in any old container and they will look gorgeous but still it is doubly pleasing to introduce an element of the unexpected or outright quirky.  

Here's an idea I spotted recently at Toast on Marylebone High Street in London.  I find their homewares understated and stylish and their shop front reflects that.  I'm plannning to copy this idea in my garden.  I'm sure it can't cost much as hollow breeze blocks are cheaper to buy than most plant pots. Just add paint and plants:

Here's an image of the overall effect:

Liberty in London always surprise and delight with their displays and I found this use of old books enchanting at the same time as being slightly shocking.  Not a bad reaction from a shop display.  I think I might pinch this idea to use at home too - notice how I'm very drawn to the cheap and easy to do option (oh dear!):

This flower bed really made me smile.  It comes via Houzz from the blog Between Naps on the Porch -  http://betweennapsontheporch.net/ - which I think is a great name as it makes the hard work of gardening seem so incidental and optional:


The use of this moped in the impossibly chic Parisian shop Les Mauvaises Graines - http://www.lesmauvaisesgraines.com/ - just goes to show how you can plant up virtually anything that is hanging about in your garden:

Thanks for the above great image to:
Yelp Paris Elite Event Green & The City @ Les Mauvaises Graines, Paris, 17/02/2011 via:

Going back indoors, you might be tempted by this delightful chandelier.  It may be a bit high maintenance but if you love flowers you just may find it's worth it:


I hope this post inspires you to think of new and interesting ways to display plants and flowers.  If you have your own ideas or have spotted any good examples I'd love to hear them.  You can leave a comment describing it or email me a photo.  

Long may the sun shine on us all!






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