I’m a huge fan of the lovely new Living Etc paint collection, launched this summer. It’s a beautiful, contemporary palette, with some fantastic colours. And check out their fabulous names!

Picture 6Pavement, Spire, St Paul’s, Rush Hour, Statue, Siren, Wharf – these words instantly conjure up a fast-paced, urban, London mood – it’s basically a list of everything I see or hear on my daily commute to the IPC Media offices! There are also a few telling lifestyle references which are oh-so-London… note: Chai (not Builder’s or PG), Plimsoll (presumably the white retro Converse variety favoured by graphic designers and creative city types, rather than the manky black Woolworths pumps you wore for PE) and Paperback (no doubt a stylist’s vintage Penguin Classic, not a dog-eared Danielle Steel).

I’ve always been fascinated by paint colour names. Who makes them up? How do they choose them? And, more importantly, please can I have a go?! According to the press office, Dulux has a panel of experts who meet regularly to decide what new colours should be called, brain-storming to come up with names such as Wellbeing and Babe, while Crown thought up Prom Night, Cheeky Wink, Lunch Date and – my personal favourite – Celebrity, a deep, fake-tan orange.


Our friends at Farrow & Ball have got the right idea with names such as Dead Salmon, Pigeon, Arsenic, Cat’s Paw, and Mouse’s Back. They’re quirky, but at least they all convey the colours exactly (let’s ignore the fact that Elephant’s Breath doesn’t strictly speaking HAVE a colour because I love F&B and will forgive them on principle). Much better than The Little Greene Paint Company‘s random collection: Boo, Button, Peep, Jack-in-a-Box, Mischief, Julie’s Dream, Attic II, Clockface (not to be confused with another shade, Clockwise) and, perhaps the most mysteriously-named paint of all time, Three Legs. It’s impossible to work out what kind of colours these are from the names alone, which all seems rather silly. But, I suppose there are only so many names one can reasonably think of for ‘dark green’ and repetition is a definite no no. Click here to play an online game to see if you CAN work out what colour a paint is, just from it’s name. I scored 5/10, so it shouldn’t be too hard to beat me!


Lots of paint is named after food. While I find colours such as Crown‘s Choc Chip, Frothy Coffee, Tiramisu, Rum and Raisin, and Cocoa easy to stomach, I’m fairly certain I’d have some sort of allergic reaction in a room painted in Behr‘s Parmesan paint or, even worse, Benjamin Moore‘s Nacho Cheese. I’m not winding you up – this is a real paint name! Although, in their defence, this nauseating shade is such a hideous orangey-yellow that there really is no better way to describe it.

nacho cheese paint copy

I’ve just painted my kitchen in a soft grey-green Crown colour called Crochet, which is definitely a paint name that bears no relevance to the actual colour it’s supposed to convey – but it’s so GORGEOUS, changing in different lights and providing a restful, calm atmosphere, that it could be called Celery, Janet, Bob Sleigh or Manicure and I really wouldn’t give a damn. ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…’ – Ellie

Chalkboard calendar wall

July 30, 2009

Turn your diary into a style statement with this amazing feature wall idea from our September issue. Our cunning stylists mixed blackboard paint (£10.99 for 750ml, International Paints) with white matt emulsion to achieve different shades of grey for a chequer board effect – fabulous!

BlackBoardWall_00011I’ve recently painted a blackboard panel in our kitchen and it’s the best decorating decision I’ve ever made. It’s so handy for recipes, shopping lists, reminders and romantic messages to my other half such as: ‘Empty the dishwasher!’ Blackboard buys are everywhere at the moment, so you don’t have to limit yourself to writing on walls…

chalkyI like the mugs above from Really Linda Barker – good for labelling mugs in offices so you can remember how everybody likes their tea and whose is whose! The blackboard Matryoshka dolls are going to be on sale in Muji later this year in time for Christmas – what a great stocking filler – and the storage boxes with blackboard panels are available now from Store. – Ellie

Those clever people at Bold & Noble have just this minute launched a brand new collection of screen prints… I am in love! I had to share them with you straight away. Enjoy!

Picture 1

They’re all £38 each and fit into standard IKEA frames. I absolutely adore the Great Britain map… I have just the spot! – Bethan

Hooray! The sun has just managed to break through the clouds and is shining through the windows of Ideal Home HQ, so I’m feeling optimistic enough to post some beautiful images from one of my favourite shops of all time, Cabbages & Roses. Their sale started on Wednesday (don’t you just love this time of year?) so I might actually be able to afford to treat myself to something pretty for my new house. And if the rain does persist, there’s always this gorgeous Hatley umbrella to keep me dry in style! – Bethan

Cabbages shoppersShopping bags £19 (reduced from £32)


Cushions £25 (reduced from £40)

Cabbages bed-laundry

Double duvet covers £100 (reduced from £130); Laundry bag £29 (reduced from £38)

Cabbages umbrella

Umbrella £20 (reduced from £46)

Camping… c’est chic!

July 23, 2009

Holidays at home are the recessionista’s summer break of choice… and boy, do we know how to do it in style! Nearly all my childhood holidays were spent under canvas, but I’m sure camping never used to be this cool…

CK tentA little birdie’s just told me that this fabulous Cath Kidston teepee went into the sale yesterday – you can snap yours up for a bargain £75 down from £100… unless I get there first that is!

JollydaysBut if pitching your own tent sounds too much like hard work, why not try a trip to North Yorkshire and book one of these gorgeous fully-equipped bell tents from Jollydays? Kitted out with floral bunting, vintage china and pretty painted furniture, this is the kind of camping dreams are made of. Bliss! But if retro’s more your thing…

Snail Trail Betty

Elsie and MatildaBetty, Elsie and Matilda are waiting in all their pastel-coloured glory to whisk you away to a destination of your choice! Snuggle down on a heap of stripy cushions, wrapped in a crochet blanket for a good old fashioned night under the stars. Betty and friends live near London with Snail Trail when they’re not chugging around the British coast and countryside – I bet you won’t be able to decide which of the girls to take!

Beach Hut cropHow cute are these VW camper tea towels and mugs, available from The Beach Hut? And of course, just in case, you’ll be needing a pair of these from Joules

Joules wellies… we’re still holidaying at home after all! – Bethan

There may still be plenty of summertime left (at least I hope we haven’t had our annual quota of sun already) but Laura Ashley has already launched its autumn collection and put all its gorgeous summer stock in the sale – hooray! There’s 50% off homeware, plus an extra 10% off everything, so make it snappy and get buying before the best bits sell out. The Cornwall collection is my favourite because it reminds me of my native Westcountry – perfect for decorating the beach hut I’ll own one day. I can but dream… – Bethan




The ‘hot off the press’ autumn/winter Jme catalogue has just landed on my desk… let’s have a peek!

jme_kitchen_linensOooh! I love these quirky kitchen linens. I’m definitely an all-white kitchen kind of a girl so I’m always on the look out for accessories to brighten things up. I reckon the ‘don’t forget to eat your greens’ teatowel is my favourite – I might buy a couple and staple one onto a cheap artists’ canvas for a bit of budget wall art.

jme_mixing_bowlsThese mixing bowls are a real bargain t00 – the smaller one is only £8, and by the look of all the eggs the stylist has crammed into it, it’s plenty big enough for whipping up a batch cupcakes!

jme_storage_jarsI’m a big fan of open shelves in kitchens – mainly because it gives me one more place I can accessorise! And how cute are these candy-topped storage jars? Yum! If Jamie really did have something to do with choosing this stuff, the boy’s got taste! Some of these bits are available to buy now via the website or by hosting a Jamie at Home ‘Pukkaware’ party (as a host you’ll get a nice discount on your order too) – but you’ll have to hold out until 2nd September for the newest items in the range – Bethan

Look out Rob Ryan!

July 20, 2009

Well, maybe he’s got a bit of a headstart, but after my first attempt at paper cutting I’m hooked! I’m a big Rob Ryan fan and have been meaning to have a go at something similar (simpler!) for a while, and a blustery Sunday in London seemed the perfect opportunity. I started off looking at some work by the master himself for inspiration…

Rob Ryan 4

How intricate are these?! I thought it was probably best to start off with something slightly less ambitious, so decided to have a go at a design inspired by these gorgeous lino cut prints and textiles by Angie Lewin.

Angie Lewin

I loved the stylised seedheads and reckoned there would be plenty of bits I could link together so the whole thing wouldn’t fall apart. So, I dug out my cutting mat, craft knife and card, got a bit of Cat Stevens going on the ipod, and started doodling away. I used a white pen to draw on the reverse, then got to work cutting away the negative shapes. The straight lines were easy, but I wish I hadn’t put in so many fiddly circles! It was really nerve racking towards the end as I knew one false move could ruin the whole design (or result in a lost finger for that matter!) Finally, all the shapes were cut out and it was time to turn over and have a look…

Paper cuts cropThree hours and four albums later, voila! The finished article is on the left with close ups of the front and back on the right. I definitely want to have a go at another one, and thought I might try a London skyline inspired by the work of super-talented textile artist Charlene Mullen using paper instead of embroidery.What do you think? – Bethan

To Billy or not to Billy – 41 million people since 1979 have chosen IKEA‘s most famous bookcase for their homes, and the reliable Billy design is 30 years old this year. To mark this historic occasion, IKEA is releasing, rather randomly, some limited-edition Billy ‘Jader’ bookcases, covered in quotations from the works of William Shakespeare, graffiti-style.

Picture 17

These designer-style shelving units will cost £39 each. Or, you could just let your kids get creative on your Billy shelves with a permanent marker for a similar effect! – Ellie

What do you get when you cross a tea towel with a striking tree-themed piece of modern art? A tree towel of course, as designed by Paul Farrell and stocked at Rockett St George. It all looks a bit Blair Witch but it’s the latest trend…


At £60 each, they’re way too posh to actually use when you wash up, but HEY, they look spectacular.  And you could always frame one! Or go for the postcards, which are £13.75 for a pack of six, and frame them instead.


Paul Farrell‘s work is well worth checking out – I love his little bird designs and gorgeous silhouette wall stickers. Seeing his little badges makes me want to buy a badge making machine, £8 from Cox and Cox, and make some with my own designs.


Paul joins Lindsay Marsden AKA The Black Rabbit, John Dilnot and friends in my folder of Great British artists! – Ellie