Oh, if only I was ‘chill-axing’ (groan) in a deck chair today, outside a rustic shepherd’s hut, bunting draped in the trees, lunch bubbling away over an open fire, an ice cold gin in my hand…

The sad reality is that I’m sitting in a cold London office, with cold coffee, a mouth ulther and deadlines a-plenty. But there are things to smile about: The four-day weekend, Bonjela, and Sarah Raven’s lovely shop. Don’t miss the exclusive Thornback and Peel deck chairs with chrysanthemum and beetroot designs, the old-school campfire kit for cooking outside, or the vintage-style wooden picnic crates (all photographed beautifully by Jonathan Buckley)…

I really love this massive ‘magnificent’ 25 litre water carrier – great for a camping trip. Or fill it with Pimms for a wedding party…? It’s hand-painted stainless steel:

Elsewhere, there are more treasures to be had. Enamel tableware, wind-breaks, Toast-style sarongs, Moroccan tea glasses, real confetti – take a look.

Have a lovely bank holiday weekend. – Ellie

Louise Body: Paper tiles

April 27, 2011

Designer Louise Body has just released a new collection of ‘Paper Tiles‘ – gorgeous tile-effect wallpapers, featuring digitally-printed Victorian tile patterns combined with her own illustrations and designs…

Louise designed some similar wallpaper for the toilets at Decorex last year, and was inspired to explore the idea of paper tiles further. The new patterns are really stunning – and no need for the dreaded grout whitening pen!

These papers would look lovely in bedrooms, living rooms or hallways – proof that tiles aren’t just for kitchens and bathrooms.

Each 1m x 70cm panel costs £25 and you paste-the-wall, not the paper (always a bonus for those of us who are a bit DIY-challenged). – Ellie


HOT SHOP: Double Merrick

April 26, 2011

In between careful applications of after-sun cream today, I have managed to reach my computer (despite the pain) and have been admiring the gorgeous buys in Merrick Angle’s little online shop, Double Merrick (his daughter Flora came up with the name – announcing that it sounded like her daddy, only better…)

Merrick’s a British illustrator, but now based in a ‘crumbly, vine-covered studio’ near Limoges, in rural France. Lucky him. Each month, he releases limited edition prints and accessories, all oozing quirky charm. They’re rather lovely. The ‘La Mer’ and ‘Le Ciel’ prints above are the latest additions – “Recall a time when travel meant more than low budget airlines and roll-on-roll-off ferries” – and don’t miss his new French sweet wrapper prints

Check out Merrick’s blog for new product releases and to follow his complicated relationship with Norma, “a Lovely Scottish lady”, who watches his blog: “like a Doberman watches a man wearing a ham vest”.

I love Merrick’s 1950s-style classroom wall charts of ‘La Lune’ et ‘Le Soleil’, and the ‘His ‘n’ Hers Meat and Cake’ aprons. If people in your house sneak off when there are chores to be done, drop an oh-so-subtle hint by whipping out (or whipping them with) one of Merrick’s tea towels:

They’ll soon get the message. Elsewhere, Merrick sells cute car bags, ideas notebooks, typewriter prints (swoon) and, my favourite print, ‘Clock in Bin‘.

I can’t wait to see what Merrick comes up with next! – Ellie

German window displays

April 21, 2011

Last week in Bavaria, I spotted loads of Royal Wedding themed shop window displays (possibly something to do with the Saxe-Coburg and Gotha connection). The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker (seriously) – everyone had a shrine to the happy couple. My personal favourite is this classy one:

I wonder what a ‘A Royal Wedding’ smells like? (Sweat mingled with fear, perhaps…?) I can’t wait for the next scratch-and-sniff press release. – Ellie

HOT TREND: BEES

April 20, 2011

Bee-hold: the latest trend to hit the high street. I’ve bee-n flying about, keeping buzz-y, finding this season’s must-hive buys (groan, groan). But, to bee or not to bee? That is the question…

Let’s kick things off with this cute Honeycomb print from The Spotted Sparrow. (It’s well worth having a peep at The Spotted Sparrow’s card collection while you’re at it – 80s song lyrics combined with Victorian newspapers. Nice.)

Designers are buzzing about hexagonal honeycomb patterns, bee motifs and golden honey colours. (I can’t bee-lieve I get paid to write this.)

1 = Honeycomb pendant light, Dwell. 2&3 = Honeycomb patterned table lamp and votive, M&S. 4 = Bee cushion, Dwell. 5 = Vintage print, Roost Living. 6 = Tea cosy, The Gifted Penguin.

7 = Honeycomb chair, Next. 8 = Hexagonal wall stickers, Ferm Living.

My dad’s a bee keeper, so I asked him for some honey (as usual) and an insider quote about this important trend. “Buzz off…” he said, “…with your trend-related nonsense, and stop stealing ‘vintage’ things from our house.” – Ellie

HOT SHOP: Laurette

April 8, 2011

Listen very carefully, for I will say zees only once: French shop Laurette is now online and shipping abroad, making small, quirky French brands much easier to access from exotic, glamorous, remote locations. Like Croydon.

There are cute BONNE NUIT wall stickers from Mimi Lou, bed linen and accessories from Airdeje, linens from Jack n’a qu’un Oeil and cushions from La Cerise Sur Le Gateau. I like the Russian doll cushions made using Liberty fabrics…

…and the vintage ‘Brocante‘ area, where there are retro lamps, sleek chairs and industrial filing cabinets…

I’m currently redecorating our dining room / home office, so this lovely desk caught my eye:

It’s a compact copy of the kind of retro desk I’ve been ogling on eBay for many months! – Ellie

Beetle tea towels, American aprons and plenty of stationery porn – the new Natural History collection has arrived. Think hummingbirds, handwriting and curious coral accessories…

(Homer Simpson:) “Mmmmm. Eames rocker. Blue coral cushion. Dark blue walls. Mmmmm.”

I spotted these hummingbird cushions and prints at Top Drawer earlier this year – don’t the prints look great grouped together like this? (Lloyd Grossman:) “The symmetry between the bars of the love seat and the bars of the bird cages is not to be ignored. This subtle allusion to issues such as imprisonment, freedom and the concept of escape is crucial to our understanding of this exquisite piece. The birds above the bench appear to have escaped their cages; they seem to be free, but on closer inspection, we realise they’re still trapped – framed forever behind sheets of cold glass. Yah.”

(Lady GaGa:) “N, N, N, Notebooks, N N N, Notebooks.”

I’ve admired these American Ice Milk aprons from afar for some time, so it’s great to finally find a UK stockist. They look more like cocktail dresses than aprons! Knowing my luck, I’d probably just slop lasagne down the front if I owned one…

There are so many lovely products here, but my favourite is still the beetle tea towel. So much so that I’ve turned it in to a cushion for my sofa! – Ellie

If you’ve picked up our May issue, you’ll have spotted our little round up of Festival of Britain buys (on page 15) – products created to mark the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain, 1951. After the dreary war years, the Festival was billed as a ‘tonic for the nation’ – a celebration of British design and creativity, centring around the Southbank area of London. The cheery anniversary designs (on display at the Southbank Centre shop from 22 April until 4 September) echo the optimistic spirit of the early 1950s, and are proof that we’re living in an equally exciting era for British design…

Lizzie Allen‘s Festival of Britain wallpaper (top left) is beautiful, but it’s £370 a roll, so perhaps I’ll be getting the tea towel (£10) or the tote bag (£15) instead! I love the little brass band, the pigeons, the collage-style sun beams – everything. We’ve ogled the Mini Moderns Festival wallpaper on here before, but I love the matching rug, too. I also admired ceramic Festival cake plates from Esther Coombs, and stylish Royal Festival Hall designs from People Will Always Need Plates. Let’s have a closer look at Lizzie Allen’s wallpaper design, some of the Festival of Britain paint shades from Fired Earth, and the lovely new book: A Festival on the River:

I think my favourite design of all is this silk cushion from RE, made using a vintage Festival scarf design:

Wayne Hemingway’s Vintage festival is coming to the Southbank this summer, too, and he’s curating an exhibition of Festival of Britain memorabilia which will be well worth a look if you’re in London. – Ellie


HOT SHOP: Betsy Jarvis

April 4, 2011

Back to the realms of reality today, (the bunny pills post was an April Fool so I hope the animal rights activists stop emailing me now. I love rabbits…) time to take a little trip to rural Lincolnshire, to a vintage emporium: Betsy Jarvis. Think linen. Think typography. Think dictionary definitions printed on grain-sack cushions and ‘Larder Labels’ tied to Kilner jars (even though they are generally see-through) with rustic string…

As a Sacks Addict, of course I like these industrial-chic cushions with definitions of words such as NEST, LOVE, COSY and PLUMP…

Elsewhere there are pretty Paris-inspired designs, accessories made using old advertisements for intriguing products such as Crab Apple Blossom perfume, and elegant heart decorations. Check it out. – Ellie

Are you a fan of the kitsch bunny rabbit lamps sold at the likes of Liberty and Caravan?

Well, now you can create your own at home, quickly and easily. We love the new GLOW™ pills (available from all good supermarkets), which taste like lettuce and use OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology – inspired by the fluorescent proteins in glowing jellyfish – to slowly make a real pet rabbit glow. Simply feed your rabbit four pills a day for a week and in no time at all you’ll have your own mobile glowing bunny lamp. Great on the patio for al fresco dining – or shove it in a vase and use it as a striking table centrepiece…

There are currently four colours available in the collection – orange, green, red or blue. At the launch party, where we nibbled carrot canapés and dandelion leaves, I saw a gorgeous Royal Wedding themed display with a troupe of red and blue glowing bunnies, trained to form the letters: ‘WC’ – like a gigantic toilet symbol. The makers of the pills assured me that there are no negative side effects for the rabbits involved – apart from a little fur loss, insomnia, and occasional fits. Rumour has it that the next step could be pills for larger mammals such as dogs, cats, and even deer. Gorgeous! – Ellie