I’m sure you remember Ellie mention Sparrow & Co. earlier on this year. Well, things have been very busy in the Sparrow household of late and Samuel Sparrow (great name!) has been creatively slaving away and his lovely on-line shop is now officially open. Once an interior designer for Habitat and Ikea, Sam now runs his own little homeware business with his wife, Laura, from their home in Glasgow. The photography and styling is beautiful and all done by the man himself:

Sparrow & Co, Samuel Sparrow, textiles, Glasgow, homeware, interiors, on-line, Moroccan, Ikat, artisan, ideal home, homeshoppingspy,1. Cableknit throw, £150; 2. Campfire candles, £20; 3. Ikat cushion covers in mustard and slate grey, £35.

Inspired by traditional crafting techniques, the collection includes handmade pieces designed by Sam and made by artisans around the world from bonnie Scotland to Morocco. Sam tells me the candles have a unique fragrance of leather bound books and gentleman’s cologne (hmmm..!) and the packaging, designed by illustrator Debbie Powell, makes me very happy indeed. You may recognise her designs from the M&S savoury snacks packaging!

Sparrow & Co. Samuel Sparrow, textiles, sheepskin rug, tealight holder, candlestick, artisan, welsh tapestry, ideal home, homeshoppingspy4. Welsh tapestry cushion, £50; 5. Tin lantern, £15; 6. Spool candlestick, from £45; 7. Sheepskin rug, £75.

handblown glasses, sparrow & co, samuel sparrow, artisan, ideal home, homeshoppingspy

Notebooks, Sparrow & Co. Samuel Sparrow, artisan, Scotland, ideal home, online, hopeshoppingspy

If you are a fan of Toast, love texture and warming autumnal colours – the site is well worth a visit. Look out for some of his designs in Urban Outfitters too. Sam plans to introduce two seasonal ranges a year and hopes to launch a Sparrow & Co. dining range (handmade in England). Can’t wait to ogle over that! Personally, I will be re-visiting on a regular basis. This man knows a thing or two about tasteful design. – Alice

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On the 1st day of Christmas…

November 26, 2011

Ok, it’s almost countdown to Christmas time! Alas, I always feel a little disheartened when I see the shops stocked with tacky, commercial Advent calendars with synthetic pressed chocolates, that taste like plastic. Who buys those?

So, i’ve scoured around to seek out a few creative alternatives that I like and wanted to share with you. And they’re calorie free. Justification #327 for eating lots on Christmas day.

First up: The eco-friendly stationary people, Lollipop Designs. Create your own poster with this graphic Advent calendar and sticker sheet, a different sticker for each day. Why not?

advent calendar, Christmas advent calendar, lollipop designs, stationary, ideal home, homeshoppingspy

Lollipop Designs, Christmas, advent calendar, poster, craft, stationary, ideal home, homeshoppingspy

Lollipop designs, advent calendar, alternative advent calendar, stationary, graphic, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, idealhomemagazine

And I love this idea from The Spotted Sparrow at notonthehighstreet.com. 24 pre-dated blank library cards that you can customise with a suggested festive activity for each day (eat a mince pie, adopt a reindeer, practice Auld Lang Syne, take your hands OUT of the Quality Street tin…). They sit in cute brown paper pockets and come with bakers twine and wooden pegs to hang garland-stylee over a mantlepiece or banister. Ooh er!

advent calendar, alternative advent calendar, notonthehighstreet, stationary, Christmas, ideal home, ideal home magazine, homeshoppingspy

advent calendar, original advent calendar, Christmas advent calendar, notonthehighstreet.com, ideal home, homeshoppingspy

Next up: The lovely Bodie and Fou. Ok, so this idea is slightly more aimed at kids but I wouldn’t say no to a cube a day filled with ‘toys’ and other small but useful things! It’s a bit more pricey at £35.50 but it can be re-used year after year. (please note: toys not included. The idea is you get creative and fill it yourself).

advent calendar, alternative advent calendar, bodie and fou, children, Christmas, ideal home, homeshoppingspy

advent calendar, noix de Coc, bodie and fou, christmas, craft, alternative Christmas advent calendar,ideal home, homehoppingspy

And lastly, but by no means least is a charming DIY Advent calendar from the creative genius that is Lucy Jane Batchelor. It comes with 25 dated illustrated stickers to create your own wintry scene. Such lovely retro colours. Jolly delightful! – Alice

Advent calendar scene, Lucy Jane Batchelor, Christmas, Devon, staionary, alternative stationary, craft, ideal home, homeshoppingspy

Lucy Jane Batchelor, Advent calendar scene, Christmas, advent calendar, craft, devon, ideal home, homeshoppingspy

For years now, I have hankered after the Bluebell Sofa from sofa.com and now they’ve only gone and bloomin’ collaborated with the talented textile designers at St Jude’s Fabrics – offering even more tantilizing designs to their range.

The project is the first in a new initiative called ‘Design Lab’ which sofa.com launched as a way of supporting and promoting British design. Together they have chosen three different prints in three colourways by well known artists and printers. Mark Hearld is known for his nature inspired lithographic prints and Angie Lewin is the co-founder of St Jude’s Fabrics and creator of the lovely skeletal plantform designs:

st judes, sofa.com, ideal home, upholstery, textiles, print, limited editionLook how well they translate onto upholstery! Available on six different models from sofa.com, these are limited edition pieces and only available from their showroom so if you like what you see, don’t dilly dally! Great chair but there’s room for improvement with the shelving:

st judes, sofa.com, interiors, angie lewin, simon lewin, textiles, printed textiles, upholstery, limited edition, ideal home, homeshoppingspy

and the wingback chair (below) showcases Angie Lewin‘s fabulous hedgerow design. I love it’s mid-century style, blending in nicely with the sludgy green paint colour and retro enamel lighting…

st judes, sofa.com, interiors, angie lewin, simon lewin, textiles, printed textiles, upholstery, limited edition, ideal home, homeshoppingspy

st judes, sofa.com, interiors, angie lewin, simon lewin, textiles, printed textiles, upholstery, limited edition, ideal home, homeshoppingspyIt’s all VERY lovely. So VERY comfy and perhaps far too pretty to sit on. – Alice

SO! I’m sure you’re all aware but Christmas is less than 6 weeks away. 6 WEEKS, I cry! To make things easier in the madness of London life (we must do what we can) I have vowed to buy all my shopping on-line this year. Everything. Including decorations and suchlike, which is why I’m most excited to discover that The Original Pop-Up Shop have gone on-line. Ding dong! Two years ago the lovely interior stylist, Louise Rastall and her mum, Carol, decided to transform their family run ice-cream parlour in Newark into a little festive pop-up shop, chock full of handcrafted Christmas delights. Think Cox and Cox crossed with Papermash

Christmas, the original pop-up shop, decorations, festive, on-line, louise rastall, handcrafted, scandi, alice humphrys

Their natural, Scandi-style decorations include porcelain keys and handmade crochet snow flakes. Their ribbons and patterned tape work really well with brown paper wrap and how cute is this felt acorn garland!?

handcrafted, Christmas decorations, garland, Scandi, rustic decorations, country styleThe traditional wrap packs are perfect for homemade mince pies which include Kraft bags, bakers twine, vintage style paper doilies plus hand stamped tags..(you just have to make something tasty to go inside)

kraft bag, bakers twine, mince pies, Christmas ideas, Christmas, pop-up shop, Ideal Home, The Original pop-up shop, doilie, handmadeand last but by no means least are these folky style cards from boutique stationers, Rifle Paper and Co. Scrum!

The Original Christmas Pop-Up Shop, Christmas, online, boutique stationery, folkTra-la-la-la-laaaa-lala-la-la. – Alice

GOODBYE and HELLO!

November 8, 2011

Well, folks, the time has come for me to say goodbye. I’ve loved blogging for Ideal Home’s HomeShoppingSpy, but I’m off to pastures new. I leave you in the very capable hands of the lovely new HomeShoppingSpy, Alice Humphrys – Deputy Interiors Editor at Ideal Home and a shopping expert! She’ll be keeping you up-to-date on all the latest buys and trends. Thank you all so much for your support, comments and tweets these past few years – it’s been an absolute pleasure to spy for you! – Ellie Tennant x

Letter press hello card | present and correct | bespoke stationery | unusual stationery | homeshoppingspy | alice humphrys

Hello! I’m Alice, your new HomeShoppingSpy blogger and I can’t wait to get started; especially at this time of year when the joys of Autumn are in full swing, festive fever is breaking out and here at Ideal Home HQ we’re previewing and planning for SS12. I feel giddy with the delightful, seasonal mix! Looking forward to blogging, spying and marvelling with you over all things lovely for the home. Oh and the letterpress ‘Hello’ card was brought to you by one of my favourite on-line stationery shops, Present and Correct. A lunch-break browse on their website helps sooth my mild obsession with paper objects.  – Alice Humphrys