Jan Constantine, Queen of Embroidered Cushions, has only gone and published another book. I know. And the good news is, in between scratching my mosquito bites, I’ve got hold of a copy to give to one lucky HomeShoppingSpy reader…

Love Stitching is full of decorative appliqué and hand-embroidery projects from Jan, featuring some of her best-selling designs for cushions, throws, wall hangings, aprons and bags.

While her first book (Heirloom Embroidery) focussed on traditional embroidery, Love Stitching takes a more modern approach, with bright colours and strong shapes in a series of graphic, bold designs. I like the anchor cushion project best:

To win Love Stitchingsimply leave a comment on this post including your email address and we’ll pick a name out of the (hand-embroidered) hat at 6pm on Thursday 4th August. There are some helpful Terms and Conditions, here. (In case you’re not feeling lucky, it’s published by Jacqui Small and costs £20. You can buy it here.) – Ellie 

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Do you like vintage educational charts from the 19th and 20th centuries? Oh, you do? So does author Katrien Van der Schueren. So much so, in fact, that she’s collected over 100 for her beautiful new book called The Art of Instruction, due out this October in the UK, published by Chronicle Books.

From the anatomy of a tulip to a French poster about ‘Les Fruits’, every page features beautiful vintage zoological or botanical diagrams. As the proud owner of a creepy bat poster and a university lab bacteria wall hanging, this is right up my rue, innit. I might accidentally lean on my mouse – squeak – and order two copies – one for the coffee table, and one to cut up so I can frame my favourite pages. HOW EXCITING. – Ellie

Today, I’ve got campervan envy, BIG TIME…

Just out in the UK, My Cool Campervan (published by Pavilion) is the new book from the My Cool Caravan duo, Jane Field-Lewis and Chris Haddon. Tina Hillier’s photography is top notch, and the team has managed to find an amazing array of quirky campervans and campervan owners…think patchwork quilts, fold-out formica tables and fish and chips beside the seaside…

Oh, how I would LOVE a campervan. (And a bell tent, actually, but that’s a separate ongoing eBay search.) My favourite van in the book has got to be this fully-carpeted 1960s super-sleek pad:

Avocado green upholstery, walnut tables and rotating chairs? Yeah, baby, yeah!

As well as exploring the retro interiors and campervanning characters, there are some beautiful shots that show the real attraction of life in a van. Yes, apparently there’s more to it than sewing little curtains out of vintage fabrics and playing house with thermos flasks. It’s about the call of the wild – the open road – freedom – and being at one with nature, maan. Sigh.

Retro interiors fodder combined with escapist adventures – what more do you want from a book? – 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


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

Having a book day today! This one’s due to be published in September 2011 – yes, it’s the lovely (I expect!) Liberty Home Sewing Book. My prayers have been answered:

Good old Quadrille. This looks set to be a veritable Liberty-fest, packed full of sewing projects for the home, all designed to show-case the beautiful Liberty print fabrics. Elsewhere at Quadrille this year…Cath Kidston‘s been busy – following on from ‘Stitch!’, ‘Sew!’ and ‘Make!’, she’s launching ‘Patch!’– a collection of patchwork projects, as well as ‘Knit!’ and ‘Crochet!’ kits. The exclamation marks really motivate me…I feel as though Cath herself is barking crafting orders at me. Whatever next? COOK! BAKE! CAMP! DANCE! PLUMB?!

Another Quadrille highlight on the horizon (due out in September 2011 again) is ‘A Place to Live’, Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway’s ‘Manifesto for the Modern Home’ in association with Charlotte Abrahams. Described as ‘a call to arms’, this book contains essays, case studies and fact files, exploring the relationship between design, home and community. It calls for a new attitude towards design and ‘aims to kick-start a creative insurgency’ that will result in homes and communities designed to benefit all of us and change the way we live forever. Deep stuff. – Ellie

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, here’s a little look at the latest Paumes offering – Paris Creative Couples. It’s full of 18 trendy young brogue-wearing couples – elegant Parisians with His ‘n’ Hers Apple Macs and fun-sounding job titles. A bit sickening perhaps – in the same way that commuting couples who snog at the station are – but if you can see past the pink love hearts, this is a beautiful book packed with inspirational interiors that are achievable with imagination and effort – not just bags of money…

“As the pigeons pecked at his head, which poked through the sky-light, David realised Cheri always gave him the smallest screen AND the worst seat…” This isn’t a quote from the book, by the way. As we’ve discussed before, it’s in Japanese, so you have to make it up yourself. This is the lovely attic flat belonging to Stylist and Designer Cheri Messerli and her OH, Creative Director David Rager. (Incidentally, you can see photos of their old home and a sketch Cheri did of David’s head on a dog’s body at over on The Selby.) Of course, I’m jealous of their ceiling beams and general gorgeousness. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

Here’s the stylish parquet-floored flat of Aurélie Dorard and Romuald Stivine, creators of The Lazy Dog. I love the grey walls – doesn’t the blush (or are we calling it salmon pink? pale coral?!) painted mirror frame look fabulous in front of them? I also like the Elephant Grey vintage Eames rocker…and the vintage chairs…and the hanging wicker chair (just visible in the mirror’s reflection!)…and the wooden lampshade…and the advertising sign…and, let’s be honest, Romuald is rather nice, too…

You can pre-order this stunning book direct from Paumes using PayPal (here’s a link to a page that ISN’T in Japanese!) – or keep your eyes peeled at Bodie and Fou, or Ella Doran – two of the main UK stockists – as no doubt this new Paumes addition will be arriving soon! – Ellie