When I was younger, my sister and I had a big plastic globe, which we never used. It was fun to spin it furiously, but geography was never really our thing, so it sat on a book shelf gathering dust. I suspect the globe was eventually taken to a charity shop when I reached my teens, and I haven’t thought of it since. Until now. Today, I find myself scouring eBay for a ‘retro globe’ – and kicking myself for chucking out a fabulous one twenty years ago.

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City globe, £64.40, Graham and Green

Globes are officially cool – everyone from Graham and Green to Dwell is stocking them, and every self-respecting designer has one perched on their desk, next to the obligatory stack of design bibles.

Swedish designer Cathy Gedda Westrall's home, from Design*Sponge

Swedish designer Cathy Gedda Westrall's home, from Design*Sponge

I wonder why globes are fashionable again? Perhaps in troubled times, having a pretty little plastic planet you can completely control is reassuring – it reminds you of your place in the bigger picture. Maybe it’s also an example of people craving comforting symbols from the past. Recent research reveals that when we’re faced with an uncertain future, we return to the familiar household brands we grew up with – from Bisto gravy to Bird’s custard, a recessionary revival is under way. Heinz traditional tomato soup is selling at twice the pace of its newer Farmer’s Market label and some traditional labels have reported sales rises of up to 40 per cent in just six months. Perhaps globes are symbolic of happier times – cosy old-fashioned studies, school days and childhood – and their presence in our homes is comforting on some sub-conscious level. I like these faded antique globes from Pedlars best:

Antique globes, from £69 each, Pedlars

 

Antique globes, from £69 each, Pedlars

If your style is a bit sleeker and your look is contemporary, take a look at these smart metallic globes from Dwell. All very urban, and not my cup of tea, but perfect for a striking, modern home.

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Desk globe in black, £45; large silver desk globe, £65; both Dwell

Popping into Paperchase the other day, I realised that a quick way to bring globes to my home is with a cheery 50p postcard, so I’ve propped this one up on my desk until eBay comes up with the goods!  – Ellie

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We’ve all seen the Keep Calm and Carry On poster, discovered by Barter Books and copied by just about everyone since…but this little mug from Mclaggan Smith Mugs seems more fitting for the economic crisis and it made me chuckle today! – Ellie

Now panic and freak out mug, MS Mugs

NOW PANIC AND FREAK OUT mug, £7.10, MS Mugs

I’ve just seen the new collection at Rose and Grey, and these cute bird and bicycle designs blew me away! Check them out…

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Birds on a wire wall sticker, £69, Rose and Grey

Bird cage cushion, £62, Rose and Grey

Bird cage cushion, £62, Rose and Grey

Velo tea towel, £9.50, Rose and Grey

Velo tea towel, £9.50, Rose and Grey

Bird cage tea towel, £9.50, Rose and Grey

Bird cage tea towel, £9.50, Rose and Grey

Mmmmm, I’m just fantasising about how cool the Birds on a Wire sticker would look in my bedroom… sometimes this job is so hard. Too much temptation! Let me know your thoughts…are you bird-obsessed, too? – Ellie

 

We’re big fans of the Keep Calm Gallery here, and this new print caught my eye on their site today. Inspired by the song written by Buddy G. DeSylva and Lew Brown for the Broadway musical ‘Hold Everything!’, this lovely screen print is handmade using white ink and recycled brown paper. We like!

picture-32Not only is it gorgeous – it’s affordable too at just £22. I’ve got my eye on this print for my new kitchen…!  – Ellie

Cute Crayola mugs

April 27, 2009

We all love the classic Pantone mugs, but check out these cool new Crayola ones – they’re conjuring up happy memories of nursery school for me!

mugsLove at first sight? These colourful cups are £5.99 each, at eclectic shop Totally Funky. – Ellie

Yesterday I went to check out the new Tesco Autumn Winter collection, and spotted these gorgeous Fifties-style ceramics and accessories. So retro and cute – these pear and apple patterns remind me of Orla Kiely‘s ‘Green Apples and Pears’ design, and there’s nothing I like more than designer style at bargain prices…

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Apples and Pears collection, from £2 for a mug, Tesco

There were several other Fifties-style designs in the new range, with patterns reminiscent of classic Midwinter pottery designs, but given a modern twist. The colour palette is retro too – think dirty teals, greys and mustard greens:

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Textured leaf range, from £2 for a mug, Tesco

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Shadow Floral range, from £1.50 for a mug, Tesco

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Deco Circle range, from £1.50 for a mug, Tesco

I’m a bit of a polka dot addict, so I got very excited when I saw these pretty spotty cake tins at the Tesco show. They’re just £4.50 for two – what a fantastic deal! I’ve seen similar tins recently for twice the price in posh shops such as Portmeirion.

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Red spot cake tins, £4.50 for two, Tesco

All these lovely things are due to hit Tesco stores in September, so sadly I will have to wait for my polka dot fix. – Ellie

 

Be the first to see the new summer collection from Graham and Green

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sum09_wall-of-letters…so much gorgeous-ness, so little time. Keep your eyes peeled – these lovely things are due to hit the Graham and Green website and shops in June. – Ellie

The first episode of Kirstie Allsopp‘s eagerly-awaited new Channel 4 TV series, Kirstie’s Homemade Home, aired on Thursday. It’s received mixed reviews – writing for The Times, AA Gill called it ‘monstrously patronising’ – so I watched it to see what I thought. In this opening episode, Kirstie introduced us to her mission: to transform a dilapidated country cottage in Devon into the ultimate ‘homemade’ home, with everything either made in the UK, or made by her. Week one followed the transformation of the kitchen.

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Kirstie's kitchen

Kirstie started by visiting the National Trust’s Lanhydrock House for ideas, which has one of the finest Victorian kitchens in the country. So far, so good – she admired the enormous Welsh dresser at Lanhydrock and vowed to find a smaller, second-hand dresser for her own kitchen to recreate the look. Then she got designer Cath Kidston‘s advice on table settings, which was a strange part of the programme. I was looking forward to seeing the interior of Cath Kidston‘s home, but all we got was a fleeting shot of her home office and then filming took place in her modern, unexpectedly-clinical kitchen. Cath herself appeared for just a few moments, and the table she had styled was just a collection of colourful Cath Kidston products and very disappointing. Where was the vintage tablecloth? Why was there no vintage china mixed in with the brand new Cath Kidston pieces? I can’t help thinking this was pure product placement – there were no new ideas or vintage finds to be seen, and the chrome bowls of crisps looked suspiciously like emergency and inappropriate space-filling props!

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Cath Kidston's 'inspirational' table settings

The message of this section seemed hazy, too. One minute, Kirstie was explaining that the table might seem random, but it was carefully put together and followed certain rules; Cath picked four colours from the plates – pink, blue, green and red – and reflected them across the rest of the tableware in the glasses, place mats, flowers and cutlery. Then, the next minute, Kirstie said Cath taught us to ‘forget all the rules – if you think it’s pretty, just do it.’ So, do we follow colour rules or not?

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The section in which Kirstie visited her parents’ palatial home ‘to reveal the inspiration that has shaped her take on interiors’ was bizarre and unnecessary – it was a cluttered stately home belonging to wealthy antique collectors, who had no need of thrift. Indeed, the only idea Kirstie could manage to take away with her was the notion of hanging decorative plates on walls – hardly ground-breaking, but at least her mother’s interior design business got a plug.

Finally, Kirstie had a go at making bespoke items – crafting a bowl on a potting wheel, turning a lump of glass into a beautiful tumbler, and sewing a very basic cushion using a sewing machine. These adventures were jolly, but seemed to be part of a different programme altogether really. There was a quick and quite random lesson in flower-arranging, then Kirstie finished the show by bagging some gems at knock-down prices when she bought antiques at her local market, and searched for freebies by ‘skip-diving’. Raving about the environmental benefits of re-using a mirror from a skip rather than buying a new one was all very well, but Kirstie was driving a huge gas-guzzling 4×4 Land Rover at the time, which rather undermined her eco message.

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WOW indeed – where did all this stuff come from!?

The end of the show was nothing short of a miracle. Suddenly the kitchen was transformed – an enormous AGA had appeared out of nowhere (there was no mention of a budget at any time!) as had several beautiful pieces of furniture which Kirstie briefly mentioned she ‘bought at auction’ and a few vintage armchairs she ‘had re-covered’. The kitchen looked OK, but there was no real sense of how it was created, or, more importantly, how much it all cost!

This show had some nice ideas floating around in it, but the programme makers tried to do too many things at once. The overall effect was a schizophrenic programme that flitted confusingly from one thing to another, without properly focussing on the original concept. It would have been much better to see Kirstie physically put together the room from scratch, instead of watching her blowing glass and visiting her parents’ house – we should have seen her bidding for the dresser, sewing the curtains (where did they appear from?!) and transforming second-hand pieces of furniture with paint and good old-fashioned elbow grease. – Ellie

 

It’s worked for Tupperware since the Sixties, it made millions for Ann Summers in the Nineties, and last year Richard Branson gave it a go with his company Virgin Vie. Now, Jamie Oliver is having a bash at throwing private shopping parties to flog his new collection of kitchenware and garden kit – and he’s timed it perfectly. After all, staying in is the new going out…

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'Jme' with his party hostesses

The new Jme range (geddit? Jamie, Jme, genius) is sold online and through a nationwide network of self-employed hostesses who pay £100 for a starter kit and then make extra money in their spare time selling the collection to members of their social circle and at special Jme parties. According to Jamie’s public relations team, there have already been over 800 Jme parties around the UK since the party concept launched just four weeks ago, and more ‘reps’ sign up each day.

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There’s a huge ‘back to basics’ shift at the moment. With so much economic uncertainty, we crave a simple, more fulfilling home life. We dream of ‘the good life’ – gathering organic vegetables, plucking fresh eggs from a rustic hen coop and skipping joyfully around a sunny orchard holding hands, eating healthy meals and living a wholesome, idyllic existence. Basically, we crave Jamie’s seemingly perfect lifestyle – (as seen on the old Sainsbury‘s adverts and on the drool-inducing Jamie At Home TV series, where Jamie waxes lyrical about Mother Nature’s bounty and cooks up treats in his stunning wood fired oven to feed his beautiful wife and three gorgeous but strangely-named children) – and the Jme products allow us to bring a slice of that lifestyle into our own homes. Rustic, simple cookware, packets of seeds and chic-but-useful kitchen tools let us buy into the Jamie dream. The products are chunky and utilitarian and have a reassuring ‘built-to-last’ quality that appeals to us when money is tight.

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My personal favourites in the range are Jamie’s cheeky tea towels with amusing pro-allotment slogans on them such as: ‘Digging potatoes is always an adventure’. I’ve ordered one already! – Ellie

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Welsh wool treats

April 16, 2009

I visited the Melin Tregwynt woollen mill in Wales this week, and was bowled over by the gorgeous collections on display.

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From polka dots to traditional woven patterns, there’s a design to suit every style and taste. I spent many happy hours browsing the blankets and cushions in the lovely gift shop – much to my boyfriend’s chagrin!

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It was fascinating to watch the old weaving looms in action, and nice to see the local sheep literally on the door step of the factory enjoying the sunshine. If you’re in the area, it’s well worth popping in to visit this lovely mill, and check out the Solva Woollen Mill close by, too. If you’re nowhere near Wales, both mills do mailorder, so don’t despair! – Ellie

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