Monday, 17 December 2012

Design Twenty

If you're a regular reader you probably know I was in Hannover two weekends ago for the Blogging Your Way Studio Workshop hosted by Holly Becker and Stefanie Luxat. On the Saturday afternoon we visited some lovely interiors stores in Hannover which were super inspiring and just plain gorgeous. The main aim was to find inspiration and different stories around us so that whatever shops and events we visit in whatever city/town/village we're in, we'll find an angle to blog from. It was a really fun exercise, not just because we got to go shopping, but it really made me think about where I live now in England. What's going on there? 

I lived in London for 7 years so I know there is always *so* much going on there, fun parties, great shops, events, trade shows, everything. Oh and it's the centre of the design universe during LDF. I now live (almost, renovation pending) in Blunham, Bedfordshire. Not exactly known for being the design destination of England. But actually, just like in Hannover, there are little gems tucked away that you just need a bit of time to search out. 

When my husband was home for R&R in November, we pootled around Bedford trying to find the coffee shop a friend had recommended. And that's how I found Design Twenty. It's a wonderful shop brimming with mid-century delights tucked away in the newly developed Castle Quay area of Bedford. I've been meaning to blog about Design Twenty for 4 weeks, oh the shame. Another positive effect of the #BYWStudio was getting some focus back in my life. Woot woot, thank you Holly!

Anyway, getting back on track... Design Twenty is run by Andy Nicholls who moved up to Bedfordshire in 2012 having spent the last 10 years running the shop from London. We had such a fun chat about moving out of London and it was such a pleasure talking to him. Hi Andy - I bet you had given up on me, right?!

I particularly loved the Jasper Morrison glo-ball lights (click here to see more images) because they don't cast a shadow and give the most incredible light. 

I was also completely smitten with this lovely range of cushions from the School of Craft, such pretty and delicate designs.

It was really interesting looking through the brilliant selection of design books for sale, I wanted to take them all and start my own little library collection.

I was just so impressed with the carefully curated selection of furniture and accessories available that I had to share it. If any of you readers out there happen to be in Bedford, take a stroll down to the Castle Quay area - there are some really brilliant independent retailers down there, as well as Design Twenty, and it's so worth getting off the high street. I'm so excited to have such a wonderful and inspiring shop right on my doorstep. Let me know what you think if you visit. 

Images: Louisa Blackmore, West Egg

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Video from Hannover || #BYWStudio

Wow, so it turns out the lovely Stefanie Luxat who co-hosted the Blogging Your Way Studio last weekend with Holly Becker, was actually secretly filming us...!

She has put together the most magical video of our weekend at Holly's studio in Hannover. Steffi can add stealth video ninja to her list of talents as no one had a clue what she was up to.

Take a look to see what we got up to, it's beautiful and I love, love, love the music by J. Lang: In Peace, The Love & Happiness Mix (ft. Snowflake).

It makes me smile so much watching it, such happy, happy memories of a weekend spent with such a brilliant, inspiring group of bloggers. Thank you again Holly & Steffi! x 

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Postcard from Hannover || #BYWStudio

This last weekend I went to Hannover to take part in the Blogging Your Way Studio Workshop hosted by Holly Becker who of course writes the legendary blog decor8 and Steffi Luxat who writes the wonderful Ohhh...Mhhhh....  blog amongst her many other talents. 

It was a weekend filled with fun, inspiration, know-how, discussion, laughter and support. There were 16 bloggers taking part who were all extraordinarily brilliant at what they do and it was such a pleasure and honour to spend the weekend with them. Guys - I miss you all so much already! We need to organise a reunion asap!

So, for my first blog post about the weekend, I thought I'd send you a postcard from Hannover and  share all the little bits and pieces we got up to. There is so much to share, I thought this would be a good starting point.

Images from left to right...

1. Friday morning, I caught the early flight from Stansted to Hannover. I love flying first thing because the sun rises are always incredible and the clouds just look so serene and perfect. I had my ipod on and listened to the Alt-J album An Awesome Wave which was so relaxing.

2. The goodie bags put together by Holly were so ridiculously exciting, it was like Christmas. Watching everyone open theirs up was such a great feeling, I'm going to do a separate post about all the wonderful gifts inside because there is so much to share! 

3. As recommended by Holly, I stayed at the Sheraton Pelikan hotel in Hannover with the majority of the other bloggers. After the last 6 months trekking between our army quarter and the cottage/barn renovation project, I cannot even describe how wonderful it felt to go and stay in a hotel and just r.e.l.a.x! I loved the lights over the desk area and I might try and get some similar ones for the kitchen in the cottage.

4. We went on a field trip to some of the lovely stores in Hannover and I fell in love with the displays of coloured glassware at Riva Maison. It's inspired me to do something similar with all the antique glass pots and jars I dug up when we were digging the trench at the barn. 

5. Twitter bird cake pops created by the amazing Nina at niner bakes - take a look at her website as she has lots of fun tutorials and tips on baking. 

6. Crazy, super-duper delicious lunch by caterers Onno Heeren and Malte Markert who run Wahre Gaumen Freunde in Hannover. Check out their website and page on facebook, these guys can seriously cook! The delicate flavours and simple, colourful presentation blew us all away. 

7. Snow! I woke up on Sunday morning to find snow falling softly outside. Although I was slightly worried about our flight home in the evening, I have to say it created the most wonderfully cosy feeling at Holly's apartment during the workshop. 

8. I fell in love, love, love with these paper pom poms at Gluecksmoment - a cafe in Hannover that Holly took us to for afternoon tea. Apparently it used to be a butchers so it has all the original tiles inside, the interior design is magical - it felt so wonderful to come in from the cold and relax with mugs of hot chocolate.

9. This bookshelf in Holly's apartment was one of my favourite spots. Everytime I walked past I spotted something new and interesting. I love the way her books are colour coded at the bottom, I have done this with my cookery books at home and it works so well. Holly has collected such a delightful selection of treasures, it is wonderful to see them all displayed around her studio and home. Holly's new book Decorate Workshop which we received in our goodie bags (signed!!) features her home where you can see more detailed images. 

10. Me and my good friend Geraldine from Little Big Bell blog - do take a look at her wonderful blog. It is filled with brilliant, original ideas and inspiration and I was so thrilled when I found out we were both going to Hannover, we had such fun together. This photo was taken at the welcome party at Kaffee Kann Ich which is a super cool little cafe in Hannover. Holly wrote a really lovely blog post about this little gem with accompanying pictures - click here to take a look at her post or check them out via facebook here.

11. Visiting Hannover got me feeling seriously festive and I loved these sacks filled with decorations at Coming Home. They stock a great range of vintage design and industrial furniture and accessories but I'll do a dedicated blog post to their store soon as there is way too much to cover here!

12. Geraldine and I had a lovely time on Friday afternoon wandering around Hannover, it was freezing but walking around really helped us get our bearings. We both fell in love with the store Raumformplan and spent some time chatting to Janin, the lovely lady who runs the store. 

13. Blog angels! I love this picture with Brigee from Little Star blog, Holly from Love, Thomas blog and Dani from And Cute blog. These girls are so talented and inspiring, I miss you all! 

14. Esplanade was a store recommended on Holly's list so Geraldine and I made our way there on Friday afternoon. It was gorgeous, like stepping into a magical winter wonderland filled with beautiful decorations. I wanted all of it! 

15. Well, lastly - you can't go to a German city in December and not see the Christmas markets. Wow, they were so fun! We had some lovely gluhwein in the specially created forest in the middle of the market. Rincy (from A Little Bird) and I felt like we had stepped into wardrobe from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (we only had 1 x gluhwein each I promise!) 

There is so much more to share, but I'll have to break it down into manageable blog posts otherwise I'll be here until Easter.

An amazing weekend, thank you so much Holly & Steffi x x 

Monday, 19 November 2012

Living the Scandinavian Way with Skandivis

Hello everyone, it's been a while! How are you? I'm sorry for the absence without notice that's been happening the last few weeks. Thank you to those of you who emailed to check I was still alive - that was sweet! My husband came home on R&R from Afghanistan and predictably I thought I could still do it all. Fail. The last two weeks have been a blur of family visits, seeing friends, working on the new house project together and generally catching up. It's been wonderful, like a holiday really but it caused a bad case of blog neglect.

Having time away from blogging was a bit of a bittersweet experience, it made me realise how much I enjoy it. Writing this blog is something I started because my web designer told me to do it. Really! That's the truth. I had no idea what I was doing but since I'm always most interested in the "behind the scenes" bits, that is one of the areas I decided to focus on. So far, I've posted about ideas, inspiration, people, antiques fairs, markets, trips, news, opportunities and experiences. When I look back to that first post I wrote in October 2010, I remember how much I didn't know and how scared and excited I was about this new adventure. One thing I definitely didn't know, was that blogging in itself could lead me to so many amazing opportunities or connect me with so many inspiring people. 

One of those inspiring people is Toni Kay who runs the wonderful Skandivis online interiors store. I first met Toni online through the decor8 blogging your way course (which I cannot recommend highly enough by the way). She is such a huge inspiration to me and I am thrilled to have connected with her through blogging. Toni's blog is really thoughtful and interesting, she always has some cool new finds and discovers new ways of doing things - like dip-dying cushions or painting pumpkins. Toni agreed to be interviewed for the blog so scroll down to check out her thoughts on Scandi design and living. Also, be sure to check out her amazing online store and blog.

Wall stickers are so popular right now and Toni has sourced these brilliant ones from Ferm Living. I especially love the birds and the map of the world and you never need to worry you'll get bored since you can just take them down and switch them. 

I love the simple design of these cute lab flasks, perfect for serving dressings or using as little flower vases. I also just love the light in this photograph.

I am completely smitten with this Moose tea & coffee cosy from By Nord. Super cool and also reminds me of that Woody Allen joke about the moose. 

This sparrow hook would look perfect by my new back door, so simple and pretty. I love how so many products at Skandivis incorporate nature to bring some of the outside inside. Okay, so over to Toni...

What inspired you to open Skandivis?

The simple answer is that I love shopping! Whenever I go back to Denmark I will always return full of inspiration and the suitcase packed with things I just had to buy. As a result friends were forever asking where I got this and that! So one day I decided to combine my love for all thing Scandinavian with my background in PR & marketing and open my own shop and this is how Skandivis came to life.

What do you look for when sourcing designers and pieces for your store?

First off the products have to have that unique Scandinavian look, secondly they have to be linked to the natural world in either shape or design. There are lots of web shops out there specialising in Scandinavian design so early on, I made the decision to concentrate on less know designers and keep an eye out for new talents graduating from the design schools.

How would you describe your own design style at home?

Our home has a definite Scandinavian feel, minimal but cosy.... white walls, wooden floors that kind of thing.

In terms of running your own business, what have been the highs and lows?

At the risk of sounding corny I haven't really experienced any lows, but continue to experience the highs, like watching my business grow, discovering new brands and taking them to the UK market.

What pieces would you recommend to west egg readers who want to incorporate a little Scandinavian living into their own homes?

I think your readers could give their home a touch of the Nordic by adding a few of our photo print animal cushions or bed linen for that instant nordic look.

All images: with kind permission from Skandivis

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Dream Getaway: The Beach Hut

Autumn is without doubt my favourite season and I've always thought the idea of being by the sea in these cooler months is terribly romantic. I have no idea why. But, if I had a week off in the next few months my dream getaway would be The Beach Hut in Cornwall.

I came across it a few years ago and from time to time I go back to the website and daydream about pootling down to Cornwall for a long weekend. I guess you can see why! It's remote and tucked away with amazing views, the interior design is so perfectly simple and laid-back: the perfect cosy hideaway.

Did I mention the view? 

Originally constructed in the 1920s it started life as a tea room and has been sympathetically restored and brought back to life. I just love it and it's top of my list of places to go once the house and barn renovations are done with (whenever that might be).

Uh. Dreamy. One day I will make it there. Do you have a dream getaway that you'd like to share? If so please make sure to leave a comment below I'd love to see.

Right, enough dreaming for one day, I'm off to visit a supplier and pick up materials for workshops this weekend but first I'm off on a lunchtime walk with mr pug.

Image credit: All images reproduced with the kind permission of Unique Home Stays.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Design Delight @ Daylesford Organic

After a busy day at Decorex 2012, we headed to Daylesford Organic on the way back to the car. Located in pretty Pimlico Road, I remember watching the building Daylesford is housed in being renovated way back in 2006-2007 because I used to walk past it everyday on my way to work.

I loved seeing the daily changes and developments of the property and it was such a thrill when it opened and I went inside for a look around. It seemed so fresh and smart with its marble surfaces and immaculate displays. I remember the staff being so friendly, and my friend and I enjoying tea and cake in the window seats watching the world go by.

I'm so glad to say I got the same feeling when I walked in on Sunday although this time we headed upstairs to sit down. 

When it's pouring with rain outside and you've been on your feet all day, a good cup of coffee and some earl grey tea loaf will really hit the spot. It was wonderful!

We sat at one of the long benches and started making some initial plans for West Egg in 2013 (I know we're running late; the renovation project has taken over!)

I'd actually forgotten how wonderful the interior design is at Daylesford. I love, love, love the clapperboard panelling upstairs. With those big windows and fabulous product displays, it's an incredibly calm and uplifting space.

The café seating to the right meant there was a quiet chatter and the wonderful aroma of freshly made coffee wafting over while we browsed the homewares.

So beautiful, their packaging design is so simple but very effective. I really like how they have used the crates to display products. While it's not a particularly "new" concept using crates, it does give a really lovely wholesome feel to the space.

I had a look through their website while I was writing this blog post to see if they still posted recipes on there, they do! Check them out here, the shepherd's pie in particular is delicious.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Decorex 2012 Highlights

After all my excitement in this post way back at the beginning of August, it was beginning to feel like Decorex 2012 was never going to arrive. And then suddenly it was upon us. I started the day in pretty poor shape after celebrating an amazing wedding in the Cotswolds the day before. And it was pouring with rain. But everything started to look up when I managed to park just near Starbucks in Pimlico Rd so after a hefty caffeine fix I was actually feeling pretty good. 

The foyer this year was designed by Vivenne Westwood which was incredibly dramatic. The dresses are made from wallpaper which I find just baffling really. I have no idea how they managed to do that. 

Here are my personal highlights of the day done very quickly using some of my Instagram photos.

1. Inspired by Prometheus at Andrew Martin got me on a power trip. 
2. Beautiful designs at The Rug Company had me at hello. 
3. In love with the new Kew fabric designs by IVO Prints and so excited about using some of these designs for West Egg soft furnishing products in 2013. 
4. Alfresco dining at Harlequin had me hankering after a glass of bubbly. 

5. More alfresco fun at Harlequin.
6. Chevron chic is everywhere but no one is doing better than The Rug Company 
7. Rapture & Wright had a brilliant video of the hand-printing process at their Gloucestershire print studio (check out their brilliant blog for great behind the scenes posts) 
8. Spotted this hammock at Daylesford Organic on Pimlico Rd (post Decorex debrief w/ tea & cake) and just wanted to climb right in. 

UPDATE: Although Decorex is a trade fair, it is open to the public tomorrow afternoon into the early evening so do go along if you get the chance. 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Look Inside: The Home of Nigel Barker

I came across the super cool West Village home of famed fashion photographer Nigel Barker and his wife Crissy in a recent issue of Page Six Magazine which is free inside the New York Post. However, since I live in the UK I get my fix online at which works just as well. I think it's really great to be able to access newspapers and magazine supplements from all over the world via the internet because it can give such a fresh perspective on interiors and styling.

Anyway, this feature on Nigel Baker really grabbed my attention. In tthe interview he talks about this treasured portrait of his mother “ my mama. Crissy said whenever she’s in the kitchen she feels like my mom’s staring at her.” The painting used to hang in the bedroom. “But she got put in the hall, which is far more appropriate,” says Crissy. I can kind of see her point.

Love love love this incredible arrangement of photographs. It's a pretty bold statement and such a great exhibition wall.

And this bedroom just looks so fresh and different. The room divider headboard is such an inspired idea and is so quirky and fun. I almost wish there was a zoomed out version of this photograph so you could see all the other art work on the wall as well. In the interview Nigel describes his home as  “colorful, and real. It has a heartbeat. Everything means something.” 

For me, I think that's exactly the point of home interiors, my most treasured home pieces are always the ones with a story behind them, bits and bobs I've picked up overseas or gifts from family or friends.

Reading this piece has also encouraged me to be braver with colour. As I start to think about decorating the barn space for West Egg, I always find myself erring towards the more cautious and muted side of the colour spectrum. I need to be brave! I'll keep you posted on how that goes...

The full interview and more images are available by clicking here if you want to see more.

All images: kindly permitted by Michael Edwards for Page Six Magazine

Monday, 10 September 2012

Astier de Villatte at Liberty

I was in London last week to see the play One Man, Two Guvnors with a friend - it was hands down the funniest thing I've ever seen and such a wonderful break from the house and barn renovations which are pretty unfun at times. I was a hysterical weeping mess (in a good way) by the interval and afterwards I could barely speak my jaw was aching from laughing so much.  

Anyway, before all that madness I was due to meet my friend on Great Malborough Street so I caught an earlier train so I'd have time for a spin around Liberty before supper. (We went to Ping Pong because for me, dim sum = heavenly yum yum).

Wow, it's been at least a year since I last visited and although I had less than an hour I had a wonderful time browsing through the beautiful homewares department.

I remember when my Mum took me to London when I was around 12 or 13 years old and said we were going to a very special London department store. I still remember walking in and being completely blown away by the mock Tudor architecture and design.

As I made my way round the homewares department, I was thrilled to see Astier de Villatte products are now available at Liberty. I'm not sure how long they have been available - I may be a little slow on the uptake? Who knows, it was great to see their beautiful designs in the flesh. 

I first came across Astier de Villatte ceramics about 3 years ago and while the price tag is still a little out of reach, it was lovely to window shop. They are definitely worth saving up for and I've got a few items written down now that I know I'll love and treasure so much. 

I am completely in love with the craft and attention to quality that has gone into the design of the crockery. They are designed by Benoit Astier de Villatte and produced using the old-fashioned handbuilding technique that was used prior to the casting method. I love the delicate and elegant detailing which is really quite subtle and low-key. The ceramic chopping boards are so fabulous, I'd love one as a cheese platter and the star plates are *just* amazing. I definitely need one or five of those in my kitchen / life.

Tivoli, Marienbad, Kobe and Delphi are just a handful of the incredible range of candles available. With wildly different and unusual scents it was such a treat to take off the glass lids and inhale these heady aromas. My favourite was the Cabourg, described as "très chic Normandy seaside. It was under the arbours flower gardens of the Grand Hotel that Marcel Proust wrote In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower. A delectable scent of wisteria, hot spiced creamy jasmine spray chills invade these places". Pretty cool that a candle description can whisk you off to a far flung place in seconds. 

Friday, 17 August 2012

Hermitage Road: Before & After

You might remember back in June I wrote about Hermitage Road, a restaurant/bar in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. Channelling industrial chic in a loft style building with huge windows I fell in love the minute I set foot through the door.

I was lucky enough to meet with Ellene Immelman who led the interior design of the project. She kindly shared with me the photographs of the project progress. Previously a nightclub, Hermitage Road was definitely in need of some TLC, possibly something a little stronger...

March 2011

May 2011

June 2011

July 2011

And After...

Take a look at the original post here to see more photographs of the finished project.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Inspired by... Emma Vowles Flowers

Do you ever find sometimes when you're looking for something on the internet that an image will just grab your attention and that's it, you forget your original purpose because your imagination has been well and truly captured? That's what happened to me when I stumbled across the website for Emma Vowles Flowers. I still can't remember what I was looking for now, hopefully it will pop back into my head at some point. 

I was so inspired by Emma's story because she started her business small like I did, from the spare room at home and it's grown steadily into a thriving studio with a loyal and faithful band of customers and fans. 

You can kind of see why from these images, can't you? I think sometimes floral displays can look so staged and flat in photographs, but these images are so fresh and about as real life as they get. 

I also love her little dog Gertie (amazing name!) I wish her shop was a little closer and then I could pop in with AlfiePug. Emma shared this photographs of a walk with Gertie through the Devon countryside, she gets lots of her own inspiration and ideas from the local flowers and foliage around her.

Her flagship store in Totnes, Devon also stocks some really beautiful accessories for the home and garden, I've added this to my must-visit list next time I am in the South-West and it can't come soon enough!