If you’ve been wise enough to pick up a copy of the new May issue of Ideal Home, you might have spotted the gorgeous bespoke wall art we commissioned British screen-printers Jane Tobitt and David Wardle at Bold & Noble to produce for our front cover:

These bespoke prints were made for our ‘Quiet Revolution’ issue (it’s in the shops now, hint hint!) – a celebration of British design, packed full of beautiful buys and fabulous decorating schemes.

They’re from a beautiful blue ‘back to basics’ shoot our stylists did – think lovely linens, retro wooden furniture and hand-thrown pottery. Doesn’t the white blossom look stunning against the inky blue walls? In fact, it’s so nice I might actually have to paint a room in my own house this colour – it’s Bamiyan Blue, from Fired Earth. SIGH. – Ellie

HOT SHOP: Yaginoyama

March 29, 2011

Yaginoyama is Japanese for ‘mountain of goats’. It’s also the name of a very lovely new mail order company, based in Tokyo…

Founders Liam and Kay (he’s British, she’s Japanese – they met at Edinburgh University and are both sickeningly young) say on their quirky website that we can choose whether Yaginoyama means ‘a mountain on which goats reside’ or ‘a mountain made out of goats’. I prefer the latter. This entrepreneurial duo have hand-picked beautiful Japanese home wares – often handmade by artisan crafts people – to create an online showcase of Japanese design and make it accessible to the wider world.

There are so many treasures, here, but I really love the elegant tableware by Ryuma Matsubara. He and his wife gather clay from construction sites in the town of Tokoname and blend it with sand to create rustic, beautiful pottery:

I also like the sets of  Six giant wooden ‘hum’ magnets, too, for organising creative ideas on various bits of paper! (They’re by design studio Graf). Pleasingly, ‘Hum-Hum’ means ‘Oh yes, I see‘ in Japanese and, according to Yaginoyama, implies ‘a bit of thoughtful chin-rubbing’.

Elsewhere, there are Japanese postcards, teas, rucksacks and satchels, stationery and soy sauce jugs…

Following the recent events in Japan, 10% of the price of every product purchased will go to the Japanese Red Cross Society. – Ellie

NEW BOOK: Creative Walls

March 28, 2011

Selfridges Home Buyer, Geraldine James, has just published her first book with Cico Books: Creative Walls. It’s a winner; Packed full of beautiful photography (from Andrew Wood) and filled with loads of fresh ideas for weird and wonderful wall displays. We’re lucky enough to have an extract today, hot off the press…

Now, here are a few of my favourite things: a glass bell jar, a dried hydrangea, vintage floral postcards, the inevitable antlers (natch) and, presumably, a tonne of Blu-Tac. What a lovely, eclectic corner. Geraldine says she views every wall as ‘a beautiful blank canvas’ and she can’t wait to ‘get painting’…

This book is divided into chapters such as ‘Collectibles’, ‘Memories’, and ‘Children’s and Students’ Spaces’, but it’s definitely one to dip in and out of rather than a cover-to-cover read. I particularly like the cool fonts and typography throughout and the luxurious full-bleed pics to devour. There are lots of different homes and styles shown, but the general theme is a bit macabre and a bit rock and roll – think bones, crows and butterflies. All very Sibella Court. All very cool. This book isn’t just about wall displays – it’s about creating mini still-lifes around your home in front of the walls, too…

Ah ha, the blackboard wall. It looks as if this maker of very small shoes has excellent taste in the typewriter department, too. I have a panel of blackboard paint in the kitchen but I’m not quite brave enough to do a whole wall, yet. Are you?

As Peaches Geldof would say (with an auto-cue): ‘O to the M to the G’. I think I might have just found my dream shoe storage unit. A vintage ‘POISONS’ cabinet – wowzas. Love it! I really like the idea of hanging a slab of reclaimed, engraved stone on the wall, too – but I’m thinking it would require a pretty sturdy wall – and some extra large screws! Such a quirky hallway display. What a lucky fish.

John Derian‘s sinister plates look stunning grouped together here, with poison bottles and hammers in front. Macabre. Are these taxidermy tools?! I prefer to think they’re for bashing in picture pins, not stag skulls…

If you’re against the dead head trend, you might like this idea of displaying old family photos in a stag shape, instead. Creative Walls is £19.99, and available now. I’m off to buy some Blu-Tac. – Ellie

Is it a coffee table? Is it a tray? Is it a magazine rack? No! It’s all three…

The good news is – this gorgeous designer wire-work beauty from our friends at stylish mail order company Rockett St George could be yours! Just leave a comment after this post with your email address to enter. At 6pm on Wednesday 30th March, one lucky winner will be plucked from a hat at random. Click here to read the fascinating TERMS AND CONDITIONS. (This competition is open to everybody in the world. The type of hat used for the plucking part is TBC and weather-permitting, but early reports suggest it could be some sort of straw, floppy number.) – Ellie

HOT SHOP: Beg Bicycles

March 18, 2011

Due to launch next week, new UK mail order company Beg Bicycles has plenty of beautifully-styled images for us to coo over. Move over, Pashley

Set up by Catherine Turner, Beg sells pretty vintage-style Dutch sit-up-and-beg bicycles in beautiful colours with fun names – think Flirty 30s Green, Persephone Pink and Toad Grey. Of course, like all self-respecting style addicts, I harbour secret fantasies of owning a bicycle like this – of sailing through Borough Market of a morn, a pannier full of fresh cut flowers, the wind in my hair.

Of course, in reality, I’d: A.) Literally have to sit-up-and-beg to afford a bike as lovely as this. B.) If I did have one, it would be stolen from the bike rack at London Bridge station and/or pooed on by pigeons almost immediately. C.) Even if it survived the London criminals and pigeon poo, I doubt the reality would be elegant; Think sweaty red face, helmet pressure marks on forehead all day, pannier full of carrier bags, the Metro, smelly trainers…etc.

As well as beautiful bicycles, Beg sells lovely accessories which you can enjoy avec or sans velo – blankets, flasks, baskets, crates, and (my current unhealthy eBay obsession) leather school satchels. Ah, me. It’s enough to make you want to pack up a picnic and pedal off into the countryside forever…

The lovely Beg website is up and running now and I think it’s safe to assume these beautiful bikes are going to be gracing the pages of many a mag. The stylist’s prop of choice for SS11…? – Ellie

Get the Ken Barlow look

March 14, 2011

Firstly, apologies if you’re not from the UK or if you are from the UK but actually have a life and don’t watch trashy soaps. The following will make no sense to you at all.

‘There’s nowt quite like a trio of decorative flying ducks’, I thought, as I stood in Ken Barlow’s living room. On Friday, I had the pleasure of visiting a bizarre but accurate reconstruction of Ken and Deirdre Barlow’s terraced Coronation Street house inside Earl’s Court at the Ideal Home Show. (See a tour on Housetohome.co.uk). As I chatted to the stylists about the trials and tribulations of scouring eBay and junk shops to find exact replicas of sideboards, ash trays and the like, my eyes were drawn to the rather lovely (well, perhaps in grander surroundings…) William Morris Windrush wallpaper (available through Morris & Co, Sanderson) on the Barlows’ walls:

UK soap set designers have a whale of a time decorating, but, alas, there are no credits, so internet forums are full of confused, lost people trying to get that gorgeous soap set ‘look’ in their own homes and other people trying to advise them as best they can. Exhibit A:

Well, I am tragic enough to know that Phil Mitchell in Eastenders has new curtains made in Sanderson’s Dandelion Clocks fabric…clearly Shirley has better taste than I thought. In fact, the old Dandelion Clocks is a favourite design in the soap sets at present; Katie Sugden in Emmerdale has the wallpaper on her walls, as does that annoying Nancy girl from Hollyoaks. Although she doesn’t look very happy about it. Exhibit B:

Talking of Hollyoaks, I was pretty devastated to see my favourite Cole & Son ‘Woods‘ wallpaper in Warren’s house* recently:

(*This may or may not actually be ‘Warren’, I might have made that up. Also, this may or may not be ‘recently’. I’ve never really seen Hollyoaks. Thankfully.) Elsewhere in Chester, there’s some elegant B&Q wallpaper (inspired by Sanderson Pillemont?) going on:

Going back to Corrie, I know this has been keeping you awake at night: Before Ashley Peacock died in that tragic tram crash and the house he shared with Clare exploded and burnt down and she ran off to France (I know), what was that [INSERT ADJECTIVE HERE] watering can wallpaper on their kitchen walls? Answer: It’s Galerie Kitchen Concepts, £26.54 a roll. (Here they are, in happier times, when Ashley nearly choked to death on a Lancashire hot pot):

Meanwhile, over in Albert Square, as Kat and Alfie mourned the death of their baby (although, as we all may or may not know or care, said baby was actually pinched by Ronnie), I couldn’t help noticing Kat’s stylish walls, papered in Cole & Son‘s Rococo Leopard. I bet she didn’t buy THAT down the market:

Queen Vic chic…coming to a magazine near you? Or maybe not. – Ellie

WhEn I told my mothEr I was addictEd to Es, shE assumEd I had a drug problEm. ShE soon realisEd, howEvEr, that I was, in fact, still just a mild alcoholic, but obsEssEd with sprinkling lEttEr Es all around my housE.

It bEgan with a fEw old printing blocks, pickEd up in LillE for pEncE (or cEnts). Things got sErious whEn I trEatEd mysElf to a massivE rusty E from RE. Caravan stylist Emily ChalmErs sharEs my initial and hEr collEction of Es madE mE grEEn with Envy. I bought morE. And morE. I got grEEdy for Es. An Emily REadEtt BaylEy E or thrEE appEarEd, thEn an E from PaperchasE – morE Es for mE. ThE boyfriEnd dEspairEd. I bought him a big ‘R’ from Bo ConcEpt, but hE still didn’t ‘gEt it’. ThE vintagE ScrabblE tilEs wErE thE final straw. ‘Enough with all thEsE Es’, hE scrEEchEd.

‘At lEast I’m not writing ‘EAT’ in the kitchEn and ‘SLEEP’ abovE thE bEd and ‘WORK’ in the officE’, I said. (LovE If ThE LampshadE Fits post on that malarky, by thE way). OnE day, HE wrotE ‘mEntal stylist’ in big lEttErs on the fridgE. I stopped.

So, I was dElightEd, dEar rEadErs, to opEn an EnvElopE today from DEsign LEttErs, containing my initials: ET. I know. Extra TErrEstrial. PhonE homE. Etc Etc. Enough.

ThEy’rE just £3.95 Each from 95% Danish – and arE madE by Danish company DEsign LEttErs, foundEd by journalist MEttE ThomsEn. LovEly. – ElliE

As we’ve discussed, we’re big fans of illustrator Charlotte Farmer’s quirky accessories…so we love this new tea towel from her, designed for Found:

It features a tasty apple cake recipe from the founder of Found‘s own ‘Breton nan’, Annie. There’s a little baking project for the weekend! – Ellie


March 3, 2011

I have so many flamingos living on my desktop. First, there were two. One day, I looked away and when I returned they’d multiplied and become a ‘micro-trend’, the cheeky little beggars. So, I upgraded them to my ‘Miami’ file. Then, I accidentally dragged my ‘Miami’ folder into a ‘Neon’ folder – and lo, a trend was born. (It’s not rocket science).

Fluorescent colours are HOT on the catwalks this summer, and they’re just creeeeeping into our homes, too. (We’ll see pineapple lanterns at Habitat, palm tree and pineapple cushions at Dwell, tropical colours everywhere else.) Think palm trees, fuchsia pinks, electric yellows, eye-wateringly-bright tangerines…erm, sunsets, Miami beach-front neon signs and a big fat dollop of kitsch. This is Club-Tropicana-meets-Peckham-Nail-Bar-chic. For the first time in my life, I’m ‘bang on-trend’ as they say in the business. *Puts on reflective high-vis cycling vest and pootles off* – Ellie


March 3, 2011

London Fashion Week sealed the deal (well, I’ll be honest, Burberry Prorsum did a lumberjack jacket and I spotted a bit of sheepskin here and there but HEY humour me…) The new antlers: cow skulls. The new denim: erm, double denim. The hottest trend on the horizon: the wild wild west…

The words: ‘prairie’, ‘ranch’ and ‘moo’ are being muttered, nay, whispered in the hallowed circles of Those Who Are Fashionable. Think leather chairs with North American rugs (Fun on the Floor), ceramic cacti ‘objets’, dahling, silver cow skulls (Dwell), cow-hide accessories (Tesco and, well, everyone else), leather, gingham and ‘Broke Back’ checks…giddy up, cowboy, yeeeee haaaaa!

Oh, bless her with her little furry cow hat. I never thought I’d go there, but mugs with gun handles (Dwell and Play) and cactus candles (Penelope Tom) might even qualify for this one. It pains me, but sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Moo. – Ellie

(Carpet shown in top pic: Abingdon Trojan Stone, £7.99 per sq m, Fun on the Floor.)