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A Genteel Town: Royal Leamington Spa


I'd only ever paid a very fleeting visit to Royal Leamington Spa many years ago but had a vague memory of a very pretty town with lashings of Georgian architecture.  It was good to have an excuse to go and have a proper look round in the company of my lovely niece who moved there several years ago to study acupuncture and has enjoyed its charms. 

It is indeed a very attractive genteel town with an abundance of Georgian architecture with some Victorian classics thrown in for good measure.  It has the usual collection of high street shops but they all seem a bit more interesting accommodated as they are in beautiful Regency buildings.  There are also a large number of independent stores right in the centre, something you don't find in every town as rents and rates are often too high for them. 

The Royal Pump Room, The Town Hall, and The Bath Assembly Hall are especially striking:

A Georgian Terrace is a thing of beauty, shame about the cars but modern life must go on:

You don't have to leave the town centre to take a walk in a delightful park...

Or a stroll by a river:


And if you have to wait for your train home there are worse places to wait than this station waiting room straight out of the 1930s:

Just lovely for a change to be in such a quintessentially English town and enjoy it for its own sake.


P.s. You may be struck, as I was, by the number of people walking around with guide dogs.  It's because the town is home to the Guide Dog Training Centre.  Well I never knew that!


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Behind The Curve


Hope you're having a lovely Easter break.  Easter is one of my favourite times of the year.  You get a good few days out of your work routine, if not completely work-free, permission to eat lots of chocolate and a chance to spend time with friends and family with none of the pressures that come with Christmas. 

It's been a busy time for me as I was out of town on a couple of days so had to squeeze work into a very short week.  Wednesday was spent in London where I was lucky enough to attend a talk and book launch by Abigail Ahern, one of my favourite designers and bloggers.  More on her in the near future.  

A trip to London is always inspiring and I always come across something I've never seen (or maybe just not noticed) before.  On this trip my "discovery" was in Designers Guild on Marylebone High Street  where I came across some gorgeous plaster busts by kathy Dalwood.  I was delighted by them and could immediately think of a couple of clients who would love them.  They are priced between £280 and £320; expensive ornaments but very reasonable for works of art, which is what they are.

They look so whimsical and delicate.  They are actually quite weighty and solid.  I loved seeing them on these mirror-backed shelves where you have a view of  them from all angles. (The one with Bonaparte in her hat is called Josephine!):

If you're not sure they'd work in your home, take a look at the image below.  How fab would one of those look on your coffee table? Ok, if they'd obscure your view of the tv as you sit slumped on the sofa (or is that just me?), you could always put one on a console or on your mantelpiece, or go the whole hog and place one on a plinth just for fun. (The one on the right has a horse and carriage on her head and is called The Highway Man's Girl):


If you don't love the fresh crisp whiteness of the plaster casts, you may prefer these figurines in concrete:

Of course, when I got home and checked out Kathy Dalwood on the internet I found that she is a long-established, successful artist who's had lots of press coverage - much of it in magazines I subscribe to.  I just hadn't  taken it in until I saw these lovely pieces in the flesh - very behind the curve on this one.

You can see and buy the examples in my photos at Designers Guild, a shop that has been around for so long it's easy to take for granted, but it is an excellent store and well worth a visit if you are in London.  Visit her super informative website for other examples, such as Miss Chatanooga who has a choo choo on her head!

Kathy Dalwood also has a really interesting blog that is well-worth a read.  You can access her site and her blog via this link:


Just off to pick my favourites from the spoils of yesterday's easter egg hunt.


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Those of you who read my tweets will be well aware that I have recently started to get to grips with Pinterest - hope my beginner's enthusiasm hasn't been too irksome.  I'm a long way from having mastered it and feel that I have only a superficial grasp of how best to use it but you have to start somewhere.

I'm slightly wary of it because it is one of those internet activities that could lead you to while away a lot of time and become a little bit addicted.  However, if used more wisely it can be a great source of inspiration.  If you don't have the money or inclination to buy magazines but you want to get ideas for  a look for your sitting room, say, you'll find tons of images.  Some very attainable and desirable, others perhaps less so.  All of them will help you to hone your ideas and work out what you really do like.  I like the way some people will create boards of looks they might reasonably expect to achieve and then boards of looks they just want to dream about.  A cat may look at a queen (a saying that I've always found uplifting).

I'm constantly surprised by the things I like but am hardly aware of liking.  I can be flicking through past photos I've taken or images I've torn from magazines, looking for something, and I start to become aware of a bit of a theme.  One such moment occurred yesterday when I started noticing flashes of red in some of my photos. It would never occurr to me to create a scheme for a client with red as a key colour and yet, the photos reveal, I have used it and clearly like it. 

Pinterest offers a kind of shortcut to such discoveries.  By creating pin boards on specific themes using images you see on Pinterest or on websites that allow pinning or from your own photos, looks you are really attracted to quickly emerge.

These are some of the images I discovered amongst my photos that I then pinned onto a board I imaginatively named Red

These striking red and white flowers were in the beautiful Augustus Gardens on Capri where I visited last summer.  The gardens were created, or at least funded and commissioned, by Friedrich Alfred Krupp, the German industrialist famed for all those electrical goods. Good to see he put some of those profits to good use.

For the desk in my study in this house I decided to use a red glass top from Habitat that had previously formed part of our kitchen table. It is a lovely deep shade of red that looks pleasingly modern encased in glass. The other touches of red then just emerged as small highlights - with red, I do feel a little goes a long way. You'll have seen this image in a previous post (Not a Boot Camp Kind of Girl, October 2012)

This little collection of mirrors went up as a very quick fix when we first moved in to this house almost two years ago.  The clock ended up in there because I needed one of the mirrors for something else. (I showed this in my post Mirror, Mirror in July 2012).  I do rather like the pop of, mostly red, colour that you can spy from my front doorstep if you care to look up.

These anemones on my mantlepiece mix reds and pinks and purples really beautifully.  As ever nature is the best at colour palettes. I love the artlessness of anemones and, according to my mum, they were my granddad's favourite flower.

This bedroom was a good example of working with existing red pieces.  The client had the rather nice red Chinese-style cabinet and wanted to use it on this mezzanine - it fitted that space perfectly.  We just picked it up a little, just enough I think, in the muted red tones of the cushions. (Treated myself to a couple of those cushions and they work in lots of different spots in my house at different times - they are rather un-Laura Ashley Laura Ashley).

A recent issue of Homes and Gardens had a feature on pomegranates.  I thought this image was so special I took a snap and tweeted it.

My final image is a snap I was moved to take last November, not because of the red in the post box but that is a happy feature of the photo.  I was just struck by how sweet it looked, waiting expectantly for carefully composed handwritten letters between friends and lovers - not a box for posting bills!

If you've never looked on Pinterest, it is very easy to join and costs nothing so you might want to give it a go.  You are allowed to just look and not create boards if that is what you prefer.  If you are a devotee do please share any tips you might have via the comments link below - it's easy, you just fill in your name and email address (which is not published, of course)  I'd be delighted.


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Ok, so you've not got the budget and/or bottle to plump for the Fornasetti wallpaper and you can't quite stretch to any real pieces as seen on http://www.sweetpeaandwillow.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=fornasetti and http://www.hollyjohnsonantiques.com/fornasetti-gillows-objects/fornasetti but you would like to add a bit of Fornasetti wit and style to your home, well here are a few items that can help you do that on a titchy budget.

When I bobbed into Next the other week I came across a surprising selection of interesting pieces.  These boxes, for example, look quite striking piled up and could be put to good use too.

I liked this square plate so much I bought one to take home.  At the moment it is sitting in the dining room with a decanter and glasses on it.  Its final destination is David's study,  together with the printed canvas I think they look quite smart and masculine.


If you do fancy a Fornasetti style wallpaper but can't stretch to the lovely Cole & Son papers, you might find you can do something with this Architecture Wallpaper at £15 for a 10 metre roll:


In January I blogged about bookends and showed off my Fornasetti-style bookends that I got from Rockett St George for £12 - still delighted with them:


These tealight holders that I recently spotted in the homewares section of Selfridges cost just a few pounds but feel like fine porcelain and look super smart:

If you have a little trawl of the internet and get a feel for Fornasetti, I'm sure you can spot many more items that are affordable but help to create a similar vibe.

In my last post I suggested that if you could get your hands on a wallpaper roll end you could frame sections to good effect.  If you click on the link below and scroll down you will find a stunning example of that.  It is on a designer's blog that looks really interesting (must have a closer look when I get a minute) and is an image of a shop window in Paris, L'Eclaireur.  The wallpaper is Nicchie which lends itself perfectly to this treatment.

Bye for now, 


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Since I set eyes on the new Fornasetti wallpaper collection from Cole & Son a few weeks ago, I've been meaning to see if I can persuade you to let a little Fornasetti style into your lives.  In some cases I'm sure I'm preaching to the converted, but others may be more reluctant.  When I suggested some Fornasetti pieces to one client a couple of years ago she was very anti - oh, no, she said, all those Roman heads everywhere.  She did have a point.  Some Fornasetti motifs are so ubiquitous that they seem quite cliched and lose their power to delight, like the Roman heads.  Others are seen just as often but still don't fail to please.  I've seen the Ex Libris book wallpaper from Cole & Son's first collection in 100s of images but I still love it. I'm sure many of the newly created papers will have the same longevity.

This Promenade paper is a no-brainer in a hall or entrance, bootroom or cloakroom.  The price will put a lot of people off (around £350 for a 10metre roll) so you aren't likely to spot it on Coronation Street anytime soon.  However it is 68.5cm high (compared to the usual 52cm), so if placed above the skirting board it ends at dado rail height.  10 metres can go a long way and if you can be imaginative with how you use a roll you might find that you could split one with a friend and share the cost:

(Monkey not included)

The Pennini  paper depicting these lovely nibs may be a bit obvious for a study but I wouldn't let that put me off.  The colours are absolutely gorgeous and the over-sized scale of them adds to the impact.  If you have a desk in an alcove or on a landing I can picture this paper looking super forming a border at desk height.  It would also work beautifully in the bedroom of a bookish young person:

The way Cole & Son have styled this wall with the Nuvolette wallpaper is inspiring but it does also look great on a ceiling.  Shown below in David Gavin Design on Burton Road in West Didsbury.

The Nicchie wallpaper 

 The Nicchie wallpaper is the kind of paper that you can have a lot of fun with.  It would work really well just in the alcoves of a room if you wanted to just buy a small quantity or to give a pantry look in a kitchen or utility.  Some strategically positioned floating shelves and carefully chosen objects would add a great 3-D detail to this paper. 

All of the Fornasetti papers add drama and interest to a room.  Furniture that looks good against a painted wall can look stunning when teamed with the right wallpaper.  This lovely vintage French desk that I've just sold is a great piece in any setting but it looks really fabulous with the unexpected Acquario paper:

Most of these papers, but especially the Nicchie, Acquario and Pennini, could be framed to great effect.  It would be a super way to use up left over roll ends if you can get your hands on any. 

The full collection contains some other lovely gems and you can view them all on the Cole & Son website http://www.cole-and-son.com/Wcollection_detail.asp?CollectionID=126  You can't beat seeing the actual paper though so much better to pop into your local interior design showroom and ask to see their book.  You can find suppliers on the Cole & Son site.

Now I shall leave you so you can go and persuade your other half that you really ought to have some nibs on the wall and clouds on the ceiling....



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A Buzz Around Barton Square Part 2


Hope you enjoyed the last post on some good lighting options from BHS.  Today's post is going to feature the other accessories that popped out at me on that visit to Barton Square, the homewares section of The Trafford Centre near Manchester.  To start off with I'd like to stay with BHS and show you a couple of small items I think you might like. 

Firstly, I spotted these photoframes which I don't think would look out of place in The White Company where the price tag would be more than £16, or even £12 as it is at the moment.  The edging is silver plated and the mount is linen.


I was also drawn to these ceramic birds.  At £3 and £6 they are a very inexpensive way to buy into the current penchant for birds in interiors without much of a financial investment.  They could easily have come from Anthropologie which would immediately lend them more credibility in the style stakes:


My next finds were in M&S.  I didn't focus on the Conran collection in there.  I rather like quite a lot of those pieces in the right setting and if you think you might too, you could do worse than spend 2 minutes 21 seconds watching their Editor's Picks video - obviously, I can't be held responsible for the use of the phrase "storage solution" to describe some shelves.


A couple of their crockery sets made me want to re-set my table.  My favourite was the stoneware Cross Hatch dining set in their latest colour.  They do one in blue but the new set is a lovely shade of grey with goldy metalic lowlights.  It would all look quite glam and lustrous on a candlelit table but it also seems quite robust.  You can buy pieces individually or a 12 piece set for £59:

If that's much too tame for you, you might be more drawn to the Painterly Florals set which is colourful, but not at all garish, and extremely pretty.  It is more robust than it looks, being dishwasher and microwave safe, and is available individually or as a set.  The set is a bit pricier than the Cross Hatch, at £95:


If you're fan, as I am, of http://www.grahamandgreen.co.uk/ you might like these M&S pieces that would fit nicely into that kind of look.  A simple mirror made more interesting with the addition of a pocket-watch type detail as a kind of crest and a ramshead.  Each of these items are priced at £45.  The animal head thing has been around for so long now that you may start to grow tired of it and don't want to invest too much on a piece at this stage:

It doesn't seem to be on their site at the moment but they did have them in store.


The last stop where I had some success was at Next where I espied this lamp.  If you fancy the idea of buying into the fashion for animal lamp bases but can't stretch to the striking examples from http://www.atelierabigailahern.com/collections.asp?cid=4&sid=9  then consider this ceramic Ollie Owl Lamp at £35.  It is a great deep taupe colour with an undertone of grey.  The shade is included in the price and looks just fine but it might be nice to pick out the grey a bit more with a grey shade - there are a couple of good options for £18 at BHS. 


These double-sided photoframes are a great buy as you can show two images for the price of one.  They look good in both the pale colour and the black and are £8 and £6.  They look rather Kelly Hoppen style but would look good in almost any setting.  Can't see them on the website though.   

These two cushions in lavender tones would give your sofa, bed or chair a real Designers Guild look.  They cost just £14 each.  I was quite happy with the feel of them but I don't know how well the fabric would bounce back once sat on.  I'd just use them in a spot where they just need to look the part but don't get squished. They are the Fleur Stripe Edge cushion and the Floral Frame cushiion. 


The final image is of some Fornasetti-style accessories that I was delighted to spot but that is for another post.  Coming soon!


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A Buzz Around Barton Square Part I


It's been some time since I went into some of the less trendy homewares stores to see what's around (I realize the use of the word 'trendy' is very untrendy but I like the way it encompasses the word 'trend').  I love going in each season to see if they've come up with any good interpretations of the things we're loving in more fashionable stores.

I got off to a bad start in Laura Ashley as they don't seem to have come up with much to inspire so far this season.  They did have some examples of an old favourite, their black Henshaw furniture range, and a pleasing set of Owl bookends but not enough to warrant photos.

Things rather picked up in BHS.  Unsurprisingly it was the lighting department that really came up trumps so for this post I'll focus on their lights.  They have a selection of subtley coloured glass pendant lights and glass lamps that look totally designer.  They remind me of the lights I adore from curiosaandcuriosa.co.uk and could be used in similar settings.  My favourite, the Grey Malik Electroplate Pendant, is the most gorgeous colour and finish and priced at £50, less when they have their frequent sales.  The table lamp version is £40.  The Green Whitney Pendant light at £40 is also quite lovely.  The lights in this collection are beautifully luminous and lustrous.  I'm planning to put one of the table lamps in my partner's study.  I think it is much softer than  a straight industrial look and hints more at eccentric inventor.

Some links as examples but do check out the full Illuminate range in store if you can.  Otherwise P&P is free over £30 so they are easy to try at home:






If glass isn't your thing you may like these incredibly well-priced  pendant lights.  The Reno pendant, £35, comes in a variety of colours.  There are no dud colours but I'd say the grey and mustard are particulary smart looking.   


If you've got plenty of room and want a striking floor lamp check out the Camera Tripod Floor Lamp at £130.  It does look smart with its burnished metal details and black wood base.

Hope there is something amongst those suggestions that appeals to you.  I spotted quite a few other noteworthy items in the chain stores and I'll show them to you in a post later this week.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday,


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A Fond Farewell


January is a time for fresh starts but before new things can begin other things have to end.  I like the positive side of change where you're going to new places, working with different people and finding a new routine, but I'm not so keen on the flip side:  I don't like leaving places where I've been happy or comfortable.  It sometimes leads me to stay too long because I'm reluctant to move out of my comfort zone.

I've known for quite a while that I simply wasn't going to be able to  devote enough time to the retail side of my business all on my own and maintain my interior design work.  I kept resolving to make time for it, imagining that at some point in the future I would have more time.  Predictably, I never found the time!  As you may remember, in November I moved some of my stock into David Gavin on Burton Road in West Didsbury (http://www.davidgavindesign.co.uk/theshop.html )   and things have been going rather well there.  This has made moving out of my showroom a much easier step.

In case you never made it to the showroom,  I thought I'd show you a couple of photos of the beautiful red brick building where it was located.  It was built at the end of the 19th Century next to the Bridgewater Canal to house the offices for the factory behind, which manufactured Linotype printing machines.  It is grade II listed so should be around in some form for centuries to come.

Can you believe I took these photos today (Monday, 28th Jan, 2013)?  Looking at the image it could be spring or summer.  It has served me well for the past two and a half years and I feel lucky to have been part of it for that period. I'll also miss my dedicated parking spot.  I've never had one of those before and don't expect I will again - what a hoot!

Finished moving the last of my stock from the showroom today (Wednesday) and took a few more snaps of the lovely building.  The terracotta frieze sections are holding up pretty well to the beating they get from the weather in their exposed location:

I love the windows particularly:

You can't fail to be charmed by the idea of having the company name incorporated into the stained glass windows - in case my photo isn't up to scratch it reads: Linotype Company Limited:

It's a rather nice example of our industrial heritage looking pretty good for its age. 

Looking to the future, I'll show you more of David Gavin and the great road it is on just as soon as I've unpacked all this stuff!


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I don't know how you feel about books as decoration but I've always been in two minds about it.  I've always been an avid reader and I do love books.  I like to have some to hand so I can dip into them as the mood takes me (barely leaving the sofa if at all possible),  but feel slightly uncomfortable about the contrived nature of coffee table books.  They often seem to be the kind of books that make their owners look interesting - you rarely see coffee table books on accountancy or trainspotting.  Personally I only own books I actually read but I am definitely guilty of only allowing attractive books onto my coffee table.  However fabulous a book is, if it isn't good looking it doesn't get to stay on the coffee table or the sitting room shelf.

The advent of ebooks has led to a slight shift in my opinion on the matter of books as objects.  I read a lot of novels on my ipad but I wouldn't dream of buying a "picture" book to read on a device.  Books on interiors, art, antiques etc. really do have to be in print.  The ebook has made me yet more aware of how important the appearance, heft and feel of a book is.  I don't expect I'm alone in this feeling and in any case I know that many people love to decorate with books and do it really beautifully.  Today I thought I'd just focus on some of the many great bookends that are around and pick out a few of my favourites.

I treated myself last week to these fun and affordable (£12 a pair) pointing finger bookends from Rockett St. George that I think give my books a bit of a Fornasetti style injection:


One of my favourite things is to use a pile of books laid flat to support other books.  That way you can put any object you like on top of the pile and ring the changes whenever the fancy takes you.  I've been enjoying these outsized mercury baubles on my sitting room shelves for quite a while now:

If you have £128, or better still £256, to spare to spend on bookends at the moment I'd put that money on Anthropologie's utterly beautiful petrified wood bookends.  Each pair is unique in colour and shape so probably best to buy in store if you are really fussy (as I would be, I'm afraid), but they are available on line:


If you want to make a splash (sorry, weak pun) you could go for the Uprising bookend available at Paul Smith.  Just one of these would make quite a statement:


I hadn't spotted these on Jonathon Adler's site but I knew if I looked on there he'd have something interesting to offer.  I think these would make an otherwise slightly stuffy looking desk look that bit more interesting even if the books were dry technical tomes.  They would certainly be a much more imaginative gift than the usual executive toy, although at £195 each it would have to be to a very special person:


If you like to keep your cookbooks in the kitchen, it might be fun to flank them with these silhouettes of cooks:


 I've specified these a couple of times, each time for a young person's room but they'd suit music lovers too.  They have retro appeal and green credentials because they are a clever way to reuse old vinyl:


I'm off to bed now with a good book on my ipad.  Night, night.


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A Life More Ordinary


Hope you're not feeling too deflated by the onset of normal life.  All my Christmas decorations are down and the house is restored to its normal self.  I can't decide whether it all looks less-cluttered and more tasteful or a bit lacklustre and, dare I say, slightly boring. 

In the interests of economy and time-saving, I have fully embraced the trend for just decorating a few key surfaces and grouping things together to increase their overall impact.  Here are some images of key areas in my sitting room with and without their Christmas dressings.

For the mantelpiece this year I went all out for a bower bird look mainly using pieces I already owned, with the odd new purchase or gift thrown in for good measure.  I was aiming for a glowy, bronzy, goldy look with little hits of white.  I was quite pleased with how this turned out.  I think the key to its success was having a limited colour palette and a variety of finishes (mercury, glitter,rough, smooth, shiny, matt etc) as well as a fairly generous garland so that my ornaments could nestle, some being partially obscured and others wholly revealed.  When I lit the candles and tealights in the evening it all glowed and shimmered beautifully:

Below is the mantel as it is today.  It is still quite glowy but seems a bit lacking.  Maybe I just need to get used to it:

I've really enjoyed the few Christmas additions I made to the shelf in the image below.  The chandelier garland lights and the little figures really made me smile and the open boxes hinted at treasures within:

Here's the shelf without its more magical elements.  I might still like it when it is bathed in candle light:

When I dug out and set up my pink tree on a table in the bay window of the front room just before bedtime one night, I thought it no longer passed muster.  I was comparing it in my mind to a more lovely look I'd seen in a magazine.  I decided to sleep on it.  The next morning, with my more sensible, less sleep-deprived head on, I decided to settle for something that looked fun and pretty good rather than splurge a good deal of time and money on something fabulous - maybe next year.

The table in the window is definitely lacking something now.  The fairy lights in the vessel give me the glow I like to have in winter but I miss the height of the pink tree.  I think a visit to the florist is in order.  Flowers are a great way to ease the transition from the highly decorative look we go in for at Christmas to the more pared back look of our everyday homes:

Hope your first week back to normality turns out to be a good one.


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Happy New Year and Some Christmas Cheer


Hope you all had a really wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to the year ahead.  I always feel very optimistic at this time of year and life feels full of possibilities.   The feeling springs not just from the arrival of a whole new year but also from spending time with people I really want to be with and who are so supportive.  I'm so lucky with my family and friends.  It's a feeling I want to hang on to for as long as possible.  My main resolution this year is to make more time for friends and family and be resolute in my policy of only accepting work for people I feel in tune with: A policy that has stood me in good stead so far. 

I won't bore you with my other New Year's resolutions that essentially equate to a goal of becoming perfect in every way, instead I shall show you some images of the home of a client who I think always does Christmas beautifully.

There were so many other gorgeous Christmas delights I could have photographed in this house but Christmas Eve was not the time to be getting underfoot.  The lovely arrangements on the mantelpieces and the window sill were all created by the super  talented Heather at http://www.barkerstheflorist.com/  in Altrincham.  Their website does not do them justice and I'm afraid the quality of my photos doesn't really show you quite how lovely the arrangements looked and smelt! 

Very Best Wishes for 2013!


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Living Etc Jan 2013


I'm sure  I'm not on my own in having had an excessively hectic time lately.  Only just managed to pick up and read a copy of Living Etc.'s January issue.  As I was reading through it I thought I'd tweet a couple of images, but as I read on I decided it was such a good issue that I'd do a little post on it.  Some of you will already be readers of the magazine and it'll be interesting to see if some of the favourite bits I've picked out chime with your own, others may not yet have given it a go.  I'd like to encourage you to try it as I think you might find it quite inspiring.

The Cool Yule strapline is borne out by the lovely cover image:

The cover shows an image from the home of  interior designer, Paula Gower, who has created a beautiful family home that is wonderfully glamorous, quirky and colourful.  Here's another image of the same home (especially love that light they are sitting under):

You can see more of Paula Gowar's home in the magazine and on her website:
Some of the products that are featured are to die for.  I will be looking out for an opportunity to use one of these tear drop pendants with tassles from Curiosa and Curiosa:

Those aren't the only beautiful things Curiosa and Curiosa do, look for yourself:
The magazine features beautifully some of the bottle-shaped candles from Anthropologie that I highlighted in my blog post on home bars a while ago.  Wish Father Christmas would bring me one of those, that is unless he'd rather bring me the Windsor Sofa in lilac grey velvet  (gotta be the velvet) from http://www.aram.co.uk/sofas/windsor-sofa-246cm.html  pictured on the facing page....

The massive fashion for New York-style tin ceiling tiles has been embraced for good effect in the image of this extension.  A space like that needs an injection of character and this ceiling does that well.  It is in the home of interiors writer Kate Watson-Smyth whose blog I think you might enjoy:

This reading nook for kids is one of my favourite spots.  Who could resist snuggling down on one of those beanbags with a good book.  Would love to see those shelves brought up the walls to flank that window - maybe as their collection grows!  There is a rather good feature on different styles for kids' rooms that could just start you off in the right direction if you're considering doing up a child's room at the moment.


I'm going to enjoy reading this issue in deeper depth over the Christmas break.  Perfect, as I intend to spend lots of time lounging on my sofa.

Hope you have a truly fabulous Christmas,


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Display: Learning from the Experts at The Manchester Museum


One of the lovely things about having visitors is that they make you look at your home town in a different way and visit places you take for granted.  I haven't stepped foot in The Manchester Museum since I was at school and came with my class.  It was a wonderful, imposing and impressive place then and it still is now.  On this visit I was overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of many of the objects on display - don't remember thinking that back then.  I was probably more agog at the dinosaur skeleton frames and the improbable animals. 

The Museum is housed in a suitably significant building on the main drag into the city centre.  I admire this building every time I pass it and it is a wonderful thought that you can go inside for free any day of the week.   

What really struck me on this visit, looking at it from an interior design point of view, was how well displayed the exhibits were and how well their display methods would translate into a domestic setting.  The huge cabinets are fabulous and I love the way they are set out in rows like a lovely old-style shopping arcade.  Having the cabinets painted in black, rather than the more expected polished brown wood, creates a more contemporary look.  So many homes have cabinetry that would benefit greatly from being painted black or nearly black - Farrow and Ball's Off-Black and Railings are both great colours to use.  I'm thinking particularly of the kind of built-in cupboards and shelves that you often find in the alcoves of Victorian houses.

The cabinets are, of course, also well-lit.  Lighting shelves and cabinets from scratch can be an expensive business but you can have quite a bit of impact with simple, cheap battery-powered LED lights that you can pick up in Ikea or B&Q.

Look at the image below for a great way to display found objects (sea shells you picked up on your hols maybe).  If you're not handy yourself many framing shops would easily create simple partitioned boxes like these for your treasures.

Similar objects grouped together on shelves will have impact purely because of the repetition:

Place them on plinths (just simple blocks of painted wood afterall) of differing heights and you will add a touch of gravitas to the objects: 

If you really want to have a gallery/museum feel you can number your pieces and add some informative labels.  You can make it serious or humourous depending on what you write in the text, e.g. Shell of a crab that bit me on the toe - it won't do that again.

For a bit of variety you could mount your objects on prongs:

These fossils are held in place by small metal brackets:  

The Mummy Portraits below date from around 30 BC - 395 AD, are among the earliest realistic depictions of the human face in two dimensions and are, I imagine, extremely valuable.  Some sepia photos of your own dearly beloved arranged and lit in a similar fashion would look pretty impressive too - tongue firmly in cheek of course!

I hope this post will prompt you to go to the museum, or another museum, to really look at the amazing things on display and learn more about them than how wonderfully displayed they are, interesting as that may be.

Check out the Museum site:


Do take the kids, or your folks.  They'll all love it and the shop and cafe too.  The many children I saw were having a lovely time.  Babies in the City are very positive about how child-friendly it is and they should know.



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Feeling at Home


Just wanted to let you know that I've now moved quite a bit of my stock into David Gavin on Burton Road, West Didsbury in Manchester.  My vintage and antique pieces sit very nicely in Matt's beautiful decorative interiors shop.  Matt, the proprietor of David Gavin, is so welcoming I already feel quite at home. 

It does mean that people will be able to view my chandeliers, lamps and other delights without having to make an appointment to meet me at my showroom.  I'll be keeping some of the bigger pieces there for the time being and a quick call to me will help to ascertain where you can see what.

David Gavin is a lovely shop and I'll be doing a more detailed blog post on it in the near future.  For the moment I thought I'd show you some images of my wares in their new setting. 

Below, image of David Gavin shop front as it looked this afternoon.  What a beautiful fresh November day it has been.  My 1960s Swiss desk and my amber glass and copper pendant light look super with the Orla Kiely wallpaper:


Below is the side view in the window:

A few of my vintage light fittings gracing Matt's ceiling space:

 The one on the left in the image above is on the Kitty Fisher's Finds site.  The others will follow but you can email or phone me for details.

This Italian light in the window (above) has the most exquisite fine porcelain flowers on it in lovely delicate colours.

My vintage German desk lamp looks perfect on Matt's zinc-topped wrapping table (or The Pack and Wrap Department as we call it) with that beautiful paper behind:


This pair of French antique glass lamps may look a bit too cosily ensconced in this setting:


Below is a super vintage French standard lamp.  It gives off lots of light when required but add a dimmer and it is beautifully atmospheric.  Had it in my dining room for a few short days and loved it.


So that's how I've spent my Sunday.  It's work, but maybe not as you know it.  I'll keep you informed on how things go in my new home.


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