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 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

Bonjour, blog-browsing buddies. Ever since I became obsessed with the Cow Parsley print (but black or yellow?! THAT is the question!) I’ve been a huge fan of Cole & Son – a great example of a British company that continues to push the boundaries every season to remain ahead of the game. This autumn/winter, you won’t be disappointed…check out this little preview of the new FRONTIER collection, due to be released this September:

Based around a theme of adventure and discovery, the designers drew inspiration from Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days. The collection consists of 12 new designs, based on archive patterns from the 18th, 19th and 20th century. I particularly like the elegant black and white bird design – what’s your favourite? – Ellie

What do you get when you mix fashion with interiors? Spooky wooden mannekins dressed in beautiful clothes made of wallpaper, of course. Vivienne Westwood has teamed up with Cole & Son to design her own collection of papers, all based on her signature fashion designs.

INSECT_ROSES_4Keep your eyes peeled for her iconic ‘Squiggle’ print – as seen in autumn-winter 1981/82, (her Pirate collection, dahling,) as well as a pretty ‘Cut-Out Lace’ design inspired by her spring/summer 2007 collection, and ‘Insects’, which is based on Elizabeth I’s wardrobe.

vivienne westwood cole sonThis new collection’s due to be launched on 27 September at Focus, so it should be available later this autumn. I quite like the new designs, but I’m more intrigued by the way they’ve shot them – who knew that paper clothes could look so good? Now we can finally make use of the thousands of rolls stacked high in the Ideal Home office… – Ellie

Move over magnolia

April 7, 2009

New research released today reveals we’re injecting more personality into our homes than ever before, as the recession means we’re decorating for ourselves, not potential buyers. The survey, conducted by B&Q, showed that nearly a third of us (32%) are already using braver and bolder prints and more vibrant colours, while almost two thirds of us (62%) are planning to bring personal style into our homes. Perhaps we’re using bright colours and cheerful patterns to cheer ourselves up and beat the Credit Crunch blues, too?


Cole & Son's Automania wallpaper is bold, bright and bursting with personality. It harks back to the swinging sixties when daring colour combinations and funky patterns were all the rage.

Industry experts have already picked up on this shift towards colour and personality. Speaking at London Design Week recently, designer Nina Campbell declared: ‘The Age of Beige is officially over. Hotel-style homes are a thing of the past – as the housing market has collapsed, fewer of us are moving, so we’re decorating for ourselves, not future buyers.’ She likened teenagers who have been brought up in the magnolia-drenched neutral homes of the Nineties and Noughties to moles ‘…emerging, blinded and blinking into a 2009 world of bright, bold colours and patterns.’

Personally, I love bright colours – even in smaller spaces, so this trend is right up my street. Check out our brilliant Ideal Home galleries for great ideas about how to use colour and pattern successfully in your home. – Ellie