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

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HOT SHOP: Zara Home

May 26, 2011

So, Cheryl’s been dropped from the X Factor, Sam Cam has a mustard-coloured Graham and Green sofa, and Marmite has been banned in Denmark. It’s clearly a slow day in the UK news-wise, so let’s entertain ourselves instead with a little look at what the lovely Zara Home has to offer…

The answer is: some bloomin’ brilliant bargains. This small Danesh rug (above) is just £19.99 and perfect for a hallway or landing. I love this new Melita rug (150cm x 200cm), too, which looks pricey, but it’s an absolute steal at just £99.99…

The rug joy doesn’t end there – check these babies out, too:

I love this navy Ikat-effect rug – It’s 170cm x 240cm and just £99.99. Hurrah! Worth noting that the whole Ikat (eye-cat? eee-cat? Help me…) trend has kicked off big time in the AW11 high street home collections, with the likes of M&S, Toast and BHS all releasing new Ikat-style ranges, but Zara Home is one step ahead with these beautiful cushions:

Elsewhere, there are beautiful accessories to be found: glass decanters and lab flask vases, quirky magnifying glasses, rustic tea towels, new golden cutlery and pretty napkins-on-a-roll…

The one item that’s got me really excited is the CECIL runner rug. It’s 70cm x 200cm (so perfect for my hallway!) and just £35.99. Perhaps my quest for a stylish but affordable runner is at an end…!

Now, pass me that marmite; I’m going to overdose on B vitamins, buy a shelving unit at OKA for all my very normal DVD box sets of ’24’, and blow-dry my hair like Daphne from Scooby Doo. It’s so hard to keep up these days… – Ellie

HOT TREND: Cassettes

May 10, 2011

Ah, the humble cassette tape. In case you’ve been living under a stone (or have better things to think about), FYI: The 1980s revival is in full swing and cassettes have never been cooler.

Exhibit A: The classic cassette wall sticker, from Danish style gurus at Ferm Living. (Did you know that Ferm means clever? Me neither.) Sure, I’d clocked the cool kids drinking out of old jars in the Hoxton Pony (or somewhere similar, probably, possibly, actually not really), wearing their retro-yet-ironic cassette tape jewellery. Yeah, I’d spotted the Hackney hipsters hanging out in TopShop, protesting, shopping, wearing their ‘Mix tape’ slogans on their skinny chests. Exhibit B: ‘Something retro on my necklace‘ from Truffle Shuffle:

But now this trend is creeping in to our homes, too. Press PLAY:

Exhibit C: (From the top) Monochrome cassette cushions and bags from the magical Mini Moderns; Evidence of indie-crafters going crazy for all things cassette-related on Folksy; Retro iPhone 4 cases and MP3 players from Accessory Bee and Littlewoods. Of course, the trend-hunters at Rockett St George are on the CASE already….

Exhibits D and E: Rockett St George’s arty prints from illustrator Hanna Melin. The one below can be personalised with your own ‘mix tape labels’…

Ah, cassettes. It’s impossible not to get nostalgic. They symbolise the pre CD, pre MP3, pre-GCSE era. As the Top 40 played, you’d hover; Listening, poised, finger at the ready to press RECORD and capture That Song on your tape. You tried to hit the STOP button before the DJ started speaking. You never managed this. You never actually caught the beginning or the end of any song EVER. But you persevered, and enjoyed sticking the pleasing little labels on it afterwards. You gave your new ‘mix tape’ a catchy name such as: ‘My Pop Music Album III (Ace of Base etc)’. You listed the songs and artists carefully on the little card in biro. Sometimes, you recorded yourself singing. Badly. Or you recorded your own ‘radio shows’ and made your little sister play all the jingles on a glockenspiel. Well, I did. Enough. Some designers have taken this trend one step further and are recycling (UP-cycling?) cassettes in to designer furniture and lighting. Exhibit F: The range from Ooomydesign:

Random DID YOU KNOW box: Apparently, when you see cassette tape wrapped around a lamp post or a tree it means a witch has recorded a spell or a curse on it. Hmmm. Moving on. Exhibit G: The Cassette Tape Closet:

You can find out how to make your own at Creativebarn. No, really. Obviously, this only applies to you if you’ve got oodles of time, a massive wooden frame thingy, some serious DIY skills and about a zillion old cassettes knocking about. And a lot of PVA, presumably. But before you hurry home to staple-gun cassettes to your coffee table, just remember: the 90s trend is next, so save a bit of space for CDs. eh. Or video tapes… – Ellie

(VHS notebooks, just in at Pedlars…)

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

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

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


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