After a two week break I’m feeling quite rejuvenated, sunny and actually a little excited to be back at my desk at Ideal Home HQ. On my return our new September issue had just arrived and if you haven’t yet bagged yourself a copy, it is packed full of stylish storage solutions and ideas to help organise your life (it’s in the shops now, hint hint!). One quick flick through and I felt overcome with calm and order. A little something to share are these two home office shoots our stylish stylists did. The first is from our Cash Clever feature on how to create a work area for less than £215…

Chair, £39, Ikea + Picture frames, £65.96, Ikea + 5 magazine files, £45, The Holding Company + Lamp, £60, John Lewis + Two jars, £4, Sabichi = £213.96. Bargain!

You may have also spotted this fab industrial style home office from our ‘Class of 2012’ decorating feature. I love the metal school-style cabinet from The Old Cinema and the lovely Conran desk for Marks & Spencer and there’s a place for everything with wall mounted storage ideas galore! No excuse for a messy desk. – Alice 

It’s been a crazy day here at Ideal Home HQ as I tie things up before a two week holiday. I’ve had to set myself hourly deadlines, limit chat with colleagues and keep a steady supply of drinking water to hand. Before I go and enjoy sunnier climes on the Adriatic sea, I wanted to leave you with some very happy ceramics that I came across today from Pedlars.

I love these colour dipped plates! They’re so bright and sunny. They would look great hung on the wall or make meal times even more yummy! This is an exclusive collection for Pedlars designed by graphic designer, Gail Bryson and manufactured in Portugal where all the best ceramics seems to come from.

I think they’re pretty reasonably priced, starting from £19.95 for a set of four mugs. You will have to wait though as they’re not available from Pedlars until September. Right folks, I’m going to attempt to leave the office now. The air con is shutting down and making a right racket! I will be back blogging in two weeks, hopefully with a tan and a sunnier disposition after a good dose of vitamin D.  – Alice (notice how I’ve said ‘sunny’ 3 times in this post. I think I need some…)

It may be a grey and gloomy day but the new Autumn 2012 look book from Cox & Cox has arrived which is enough to lift anyone’s spirits (that, plus the fact that I’m off to sunny Croatia this week – yay!). Founders Fiona Cox and Lizzie Thornton-Allan have a great eye for practical and useful homewares. As a member of ‘generation rent’, I am often looking for ways to make my home more personal to me but I have to think carefully about what pieces to invest in as obviously I can’t rip out the kitchen, knock down walls or build fitted storage. So, it’s freestanding furniture all the way for me! Cox & Cox have some lovely offerings from their new collection that would do very nicely in a rented place. Here are 3 of my favourites…

French folding mirror, £75

The photography and styling is always so beautiful and gives me lots of ideas for displays around the house. I love this pretty mirror with folding shelf, it looks like a French flea market find. Perfect for the downstairs loo!

Vintage metal trolley, £145

This trolley on wheels would be great in my kitchen. Bread bin on top with wooden boards, filled Le Parfait jars on the middle shelf, vintage fruit crates on the bottom shelf for extra storage…

Wooden ladder shelf, £225

And finally, the ladder shelf. I’m looking for one for an alcove in my living room; a great substitute for fitted shelves and I love this natural unfinished wood that looks very coastal. If you’re also a Cox & Cox fan, keep an eye on their website later this month as there are tons of tempting buys. – Alice

Planning a camping trip in Wales this summer? You’d fit right in with this enamelware from Blodwen. I got a bit excited when I saw this! The classic navy and white has been given a wonderful Welsh twist, featuring the iconic ‘Caernarfon’ pattern that you normally see used in traditional tapestry blankets…

Blodwen has lots of lovely stuff. The founder, Denise Lewis, is passionate about supporting handmade Welsh craft. She designed this ‘Gwalia’ (Welsh for ‘homeland’) enamelware herself  and, although the enamel is sourced in Europe, the design and firing of the decals is all done in Wales.

1. Enamel jug, £35; 2. Mug set, £28 for 2; 3. bowl, £15.

Based in Cardigan Bay, you’ll also find woven baskets, wooden bowls, pottery, tapestry floor mats and homemade jam! Have a browse online at their delightful wares and the Gwalia is also available through Liberty. – Alice

For those wondering what Habitat have been up to of late, it’s been a bit of a year. After being bought out by the Home Retail Group (owners of Homebase and Argos) last year they have left us with only 3 London stores but thankfully, the UK website. From July this year, you will start to see an edited selection of the iconic homeware appear in over 200, slightly less iconic, Homebase stores across the country. Yes, it’s an unlikely pairing but as a result they’re launching a rather nice wallpaper and paint range that I previewed last week at their AW12 press show…

All designed in house at Habitat, there are 30 shades in the paint collection based on favourite colours taken from the Habitat design palette. The selection of neutrals and brights all have quirky names including ‘sprout’, ‘cumin’ and ‘dust’. The paint can be used on interior walls, metal and wood. The retro-graphic wallpapers are designed to compliment the paint range with 4 designs in 16 different colours. My favourite is the wood grain effect in mustard yellow…

The paint starts at £16 for 1.25 litres and £25 for a roll of wallpaper. If you live in London and can’t face a trip to Homebase they will also be available in the 3 London stores.

So, Habitat are busy and in addition to their paint and wallpaper the AW12 collections are pretty lovely too, with the comfiest sofa in the world and gorgeous tableware (post coming soon!) – Alice. 

Millions of people will be embracing all things Jubilee this weekend. B&Q have reported sales of 100,000 metres of union jack bunting and 3,100 gnomes (who buys those!?). 10,000 streets will be closed for celebrations and I’m gonna bake a Victoria sponge, eat it and wash it down with a jug of Pimms. Hurrah! For months leading up to this weekend we homes journos have been bombarded with patriotic memorabilia and homeware that’s not gonna be available for much longer, so buy it now! (Or wait til Tuesday when it’ll all be reduced). There’s a lot of tat out there but also some rather nice things that I felt worthy of a blog post. Here’s my pick of some of the best jooby booty. Have a jolly weekend! – Alice

Jubilee, Queen's Diamond Jubilee, homeware, patriotic, street party, bunting, The Queen, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys, B&Q, Sainsburys, Pedlars

1. Assorted vintage London postcards, £10.95, Rigby & Mac. 2. Queen’s Guard corkscrew, £45, Alessi. 3. Corgi apron, £22.50, Thornback & Peel. 4. God Save The Queen print, £210 (!), Pedlars. 5. British Jubilee ribbon, £4.99, Jane Means. 6. God Save The Queen shopper, £3, Cancer Research. 7. Union Jack wellies, £36.95, Joules. 8. Honeycomb tissue balls, £3.50, Papermash. 9. Queen egg cosy, £14.50, Poppy Treffry. 10. Press out London taxi, £4.50, Muji. 11. Jubilee teatowel, £12.50, Victoria Eggs. 12. Teapot, £12, Sainsburys. 13. London bus plant pot, £9.99, British Heart Foundation. 14. Trooping the colour tray, £20, Unique & Unity. 15.  Jubilee red & blue paper bags, £4 a pack, Not On The High street. 16. You Rule wrapping paper, £7.95, Nancy & Betty Studio. 17. Solar powered Queen and Corgi, £14.95, Pedlars. 18. Lizzie Allen directors chair, £89, Habitat. 19. Red striped straws, £3, Pearl & Earl. 20. Colour your own Jubilee bunting, £5.50, Art & Mable

I’ve struggled to sleep this week under/on top of my 13.5 tog goose down duvet. Suddenly it’s summer and my bed is not ready! Having just previewed the new Bedeck bed linen range in collaboration with Joules, I’m now feeling a little inspired to sort out my bedroom, dig out the summer duvet and change the sheets. Although this is an AW12 collection, I think the country-style prints are suitable summery and are available from mid-August. Take a peek…

Joules bedlinen, Bedeck, AW12, Joules, country style, homeware, bedding, bedroom, preview, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys

1. Sunbird cushion, £40. 2. Gold woolen beehive throw, £80. 3. Sunbird pillowcase, £15.

Joules bedlinen, Bedeck, AW12, Joules, country style, homeware, bedding, bedroom, preview, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys

Joules bedlinen, Bedeck, AW12, Joules, country style, homeware, bedding, bedroom, preview, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys1. Box stripe horse cushion, £40. 2. Ribbon stripe horse pillowcase, £20. 3. Ribbon stripe horse towel, from £10.

Joules bedlinen, Bedeck, AW12, Joules, country style, homeware, bedding, bedroom, preview, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys

Joules bedlinen, Bedeck, AW12, Joules, country style, homeware, bedding, bedroom, preview, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys

1. Salcombe throw, £85. 2. Coastal boats Oxford pillowcase, £15. 3. Boats cushion, £40.

Joules bedlinen, Bedeck, AW12, Joules, country style, homeware, bedding, bedroom, preview, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys

Joules bedlinen, Bedeck, AW12, Joules, country style, homeware, bedding, bedroom, preview, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys1. Deckchair stripe Oxford pillowcase, £15. 2. Deckchair stripe towel, from £10. 3. Jade green beehive throw, £85.

I love the bright colours and cheery prints, all inspired by the British countryside and outdoor pursuits. Which one’s your favourite? – Alice

Love, love, love the new collection from Random Retail. Always a sucker for a nice cushion and these screen printed beauties (all handmade on the Isle of Wight) are simply tip top!

Random Retail, festival collection, Joy Joliffe, cushions, screen print, mid-century, handmade, isle of wight, soft furnishings, living room, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys

Random Retail, festival collection, Joy Joliffe, cushions, screen print, mid-century, handmade, isle of wight, soft furnishings, living room, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys

Random Retail, festival collection, Joy Joliffe, cushions, screen print, mid-century, handmade, isle of wight, soft furnishings, living room, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys

Random Retail, festival collection, Joy Joliffe, cushions, screen print, mid-century, handmade, isle of wight, soft furnishings, living room, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys

Textile designer Joy Joliffe took inspiration from 1950s ceramics and her leafy garden to create these vintage prints. I love her attention to detail, even on the backs…

Random Retail, festival collection, Joy Joliffe, cushions, screen print, mid-century, handmade, isle of wight, soft furnishings, living room, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys

The three designs are called Four Rose Plates, Stalks & Leaves, Lines & Spots and cost £38 each (including a good quality feather pad). And if you have a hankering for yet another calico shopping bag, they’ve also relaunched these rather fetching, limited edition designs. Lovely stuff. – Alice

Random Retail, festival collection, Joy Joliffe, cushions, screen print, mid-century, handmade, isle of wight, soft furnishings, living room, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys

I have always been a fan of Vanessa Arbuthnott’s printed textiles and her new Swedish Collection is my favourite yet with its ’50s feel and Scandi-twist. Friends, feast your eyes on her pretty patterns that are launching later this month…

Vanessa Arbuthnott, Swedish Collection, textiles, hand print, mid-century, Scandi-style, Gustavian, Swedish design, country decorating, ideal home, alice humphrys

Vanessa Arbuthnott, Swedish Collection, textiles, hand print, mid-century, Scandi-style, Gustavian, Swedish design, country decorating, ideal home, alice humphrys

Vanessa Arbuthnott, Swedish Collection, textiles, hand print, mid-century, Scandi-style, Gustavian, Swedish design, country decorating, ideal home, alice humphrys

With four different designs in the range you’ll find stylised birds, whimsical trees and flowers, pinstripes, spots and trailing leaves. I love the mid-century sludgy colour palette with cutesy, country  names including pumpkin, sweet pea, mushroom, lime and dove.

Vanessa Arbuthnott, Swedish Collection, textiles, hand print, mid-century, Scandi-style, Gustavian, Swedish design, country decorating, cushions, ideal home, alice humphrys

I love the retro orange paint colour used in this kitchen, it’s nice to see how she’s introduced vibrant colours that merge well with her softer signature shades…

Vanessa Arbuthnott, Swedish Collection, textiles, hand print, mid-century, Scandi-style, Gustavian, Swedish design, retro, paint colour, country decorating, ideal home, alice humphrys

Ooooh now I could quite happily live in this shepherd’s hut decked out in teal and lime spots and stripes. It’s just the right size for me! Plonk me in a sunny field with chickens and bunting and I could invite all my friends round for tea and boiled eggs. Ah, the good life…

Vanessa Arbuthnott, Swedish Collection, textiles, hand print, mid-century, Scandi-style, Gustavian, Swedish design, shepherd's hut, bunting, country decorating, ideal home, alice humphrys

Vanessa Arbuthnott, Swedish Collection, textiles, hand print, mid-century, Scandi-style, Gustavian, Nissan Figaro, Swedish design, country decorating, ideal home, alice humphrys

All her fabrics are printed in the UK on 100% linen that is handwoven in Scotland from Belgium yarn. But MY goodness that’s A LOT of cushions for a picnic and I certainly wouldn’t advise anyone to drive their Nissan Figaro quite like that! But HURRAH for Vanessa because this is a very fresh and pretty collection, just in time for spring. Prices start from £39 a metre. Keep an eye on her website later this month. – Alice

If you’re not yet familiar with Gudrun Sjödén she is a Swedish designer who has a bit of a thing for colour and pattern. She loves to layer it up in contrasting, clashing and clever creative ways. She’s also a bit of an eco do-gooder with a lot of organic cottons and a strong green ethos. Her fashion and homeware range has actually been going for 35 years with stores all over Scandinavia and Germany where she has a cult following. She’s now come to London and last night I went to the store opening on Monmouth Street, Covent Garden.

Gudrun Sjoden store opening, Monmouth Street, Swedish design textiles, colour, pattern, hot shop, homeware, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys

It was a colourful affair that felt more like a garden party than a store opening. It was full of typically darn beautiful Scandi’s dressed head to toe in her collections, handsome men in floral aprons handing out canapés and summery drinks, fresh flowers in buckets and an enslaught of dedicated fans (where did they all come from!?) whom Gudrun greeted, one by one, on the door.

Think Anthropologie crossed with Designers Guild

I’m not sure I could pull off the bold, statement attire but the homeware I could happily live with. I loved the folky style rugs, ziz zag towels and gorgeous textiles and bedlinen inspired by meadows, wild flowers and sunshine…

Gudrun Sjoden store opening, Monmouth Street, Swedish design textiles, colour, pattern, hot shop, homeware, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys
I love the zingy citrus shades that feel so fresh and countrified. My bathroom needs a bit of colour and these bath mats would do the job nicely…
Gudrun Sjoden store opening, Monmouth Street, Swedish design textiles, colour, pattern, hot shop, homeware, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys
Gudrun Sjoden store opening, Monmouth Street, Swedish design textiles, colour, pattern, hot shop, homeware, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys
Gudrun Sjoden store opening, Monmouth Street, Swedish design textiles, colour, pattern, hot shop, homeware, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys
You’ll also find shower curtains with trailing floral prints, table linen, cushions, curtains and rolls of fabrics that can be bought by the metre. If, unlike me, you’re not trapped in the capital, then fret thee not as you can also buy on-line. Hoorah and happy weekend! – Alice