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

Ah, moquette. The hard-wearing, patterned, furry fabric that the London Underground train seats are upholstered in. (I once went to a great lecture about the history of moquette and the various designs, but there were some rather gruesome details about the bed bug problem on various tube lines and I haven’t sat down since without a quick inspection first…) The London Transport Museum design team has already covered various objects with this practical retro stuff – pouffes, headboards, cushions, even handbags – and now, they’ve joined forces with those clever upholsterers at Shoreditch studio Squint to create  a collection of limited-edition moquette patchwork sofas, which will be unveiled during the London Design Festival at Tent London:

If you visit Tent, you could win a stylish moquette armchair…and the rest of the collection will be available from the London Transport Museum’s online shop from the end of September and their bricks-and-mortar Covent Garden museum shop. – Ellie

Ferm Living AW11

August 26, 2011

They’re a chilled out bunch, the Danes at Ferm Living. Not only do they close their offices for the entire month of August so they can all hang out beside the sea (how civilised), they also release their Autumn/Winter collections at the very last minute. Just to keep us all guessing. The new collection is finally out today – and it’s certainly worth the wait…

There’s new ‘Happy Harlequin’ kids’ wallpaper – tiny diamonds in a fresh AW11 Ferm palette of pretty pastel pink, tangerine and navy blue – and fun house-shaped ‘Village’ cushions that would look at home in a children’s room or on your sofa. Of course, there are plenty of new wall stickers to admire, including this cute rain cloud design…

…and the new accessories are a joy to behold…

1. Wooden cones. A bit like pine trees, they’d look cool on a window sill or mantelpiece; 2. Cork tablemats with funky geometric patterns. Yum; 3. Weird but cool diamond pouffes, with eight facets and a practically edible colour combo of mustard yellow, dark brown, navy blue, grey and tangerine; 4. Cute wooden candle holders; 5. The afore-mentioned ‘Village’ of cushions; 6. Awesome wooden wall lamps shaped like camper vans, trees and Bambi.

I love the new ‘Candleholder String’ with chunky wooden beads on a leather thread – it looks like a strand of DNA and you can move them around to change the order of the spheres or tie the string in a circle to get a different look. Very cool. I also like the ‘Wine Bottle’ candle holders, which would look fabulous lined up in a row down the middle of a dining table. There are even wooden bead Christmas tree decorations to admire. Check out the Ferm Living Issuu catalogue and their lovely blog for more information. Apparently, in order to find inspiration for this collection, Ferm took themselves, their designs and their house “…in to the Wild Woods, then climbed the trees, danced in the rain, laughed and felt like a bunch of happy campers.” They’ve definitely got the right idea, these Danes. – Ellie

Turkish delights

August 25, 2011

Ah, it’s been a while, friends. But I’ve blown the dust off the old WordPress dashboard and managed to locate the log in password lurking in the darkest corner of my holiday-addled brain. For the past few weeks, I’ve been pottering around Istanbul taking low resolution disappointing iPhone photos of cushion covers, admiring amazing architecture, loitering in markets and developing a serious apple tea (or elma çay) habit. Despite my best intentions, I returned to London with a suitcase packed full of beautiful Turkish home accessories, of course…

A metal tray and a set of six pretty little tea glasses were the first things that slipped in to my shopping bag as I tried (unsuccessfully) to haggle. Apple tea (which, if you have the powdered kind, is basically just sugar with four different e-numbers added – no wonder it’s so addictive) is drunk by everyone everywhere in Turkey, so, like typical tourists, we stocked up on a few boxes which will no doubt sit in our kitchen cupboard for the next ten years, alongside the suspicious ‘spices’ we picked up in Marrakesh.

Luckily, you don’t have to hang out in the Grand Bazaar to get the gear… 1. Idyll Home sells beautiful Turkish tea glasses and china saucers; 2. Dotcomgiftshop does a bargainacious hammered metal tray; 3. You can even get hold of the dreaded apple tea powder from Goodness Direct. Diabetics, beware…

The next thing I accidentally bought was a beautiful ‘Suzani’ quilt from Uzbekistan. Not strictly-speaking Turkish, but sold everywhere IN Turkey, so bear with me. Apparently, Suzani quilts are traditionally bridal dowry blankets – embroidered by hand by Uzbek women who start sewing when a girl is born and continue, with the help of family and friends, until her wedding day when the quilt is completed and presented to her. The bold, folk-style patterns and the bright colours are gorgeous – and every throw is unique so it took me about three hours to choose one…

Again, while it’s certainly cheap as chips to pick up a beautiful Suzani bedspread like this in a Turkish market, you can get the look in the UK, too… 1. Check out the Uzbek-inspired designs from the talented Niki Jones; 2. Shop at Yurdan for the real deal (but at highly-inflated prices).

Of course, no trip to Turkey would be complete without a visit to a mosque’s hammam – a traditional Turkish bath house where you lie on a slab of hot marble then get covered in foam and flipped about like a baby by a large Turk. It was all good fun and the full body massage was amazing – if a little painful at times. The hammam we visited had a whole room full of beautiful woven cloth towels (peştamalsin pleasing stacks – like some heavenly linen cupboard. Emerging like a mole, blinking in the daylight, weak, dazed and highly-polished, I marched straight to the local market and bought six for next to nothing.

Luckily, you don’t have to lie topless in a stone chamber having your shoulder knots kneaded by gigantic hairy elbows to get hold of a hammam towel, although they’re not cheap outside of Turkey. 1. Pop to L’Aviva Home to see a huge selection of designs and colours; 2. Head to Toast for beautiful loom-woven ones with knotted fringing. They’re Anatolian, dahling, yah, and you can even find traditional hammam olive oil soaps at tasteful Toast, too.

Luckily, easyJet is quite generous on the old baggage allowance front. – Ellie

Surrounded by baubles and tinsel, I eventually found my keyboard (buried beneath a heap of half-eaten mince pies) and decided to interrupt the madness that is ‘Christmas in July’, to bring you some VERY important news. Bold and Noble (our letterpress pals) have made the wise decision to print some lovely calendar wall charts. Drum roll, purlease…

Hurrah. They’ll be £43 each and online soon. But which to choose…?  – Ellie

HOT SHOP: BLUESUNTREE

July 1, 2011

Yes, it sounds like a Chinese takeaway, but bear with me…

It all started with a mild case of Eames DSW chair obsession. One day, I noticed that my ‘OFFICES TO OGLE’ desktop folder had begun to fill up with desks that had Eames DSW chairs in front of them. (The one above’s a new AW11 White Company shot. sigh.) Things got worse when I renamed the folder: ‘THE CHAIR I MUST OWN’, and I knew it was serious when, one drizzly day in a Croydon department store, I sat in a DSW for 53 minutes to ‘test’ the seat before being dragged away, tearful, confused, clutching at legs, wailing about my miserable bank balance. Ah me. An iconic mid-century Scandi-style chair with minimalist maple wood legs, black metal struts and a crisp white curved seat doesn’t come cheap. In fact, each chair is £302. Ouch. So, if you want six, that’s, (erm, calculator please, thanks) £1,812. OH THE PAIN AND THE INJUSTICE OF IT ALL.

So, imagine my delight, dear reader, when I discovered the most random-yet-useful Leicestershire-based website ever: Bluesuntree. For (ignoring the peculiar company name), me hearties, here be treasure. Treasure I tell thee!

Bluesuntree is THE place to go for designer-style buys on a budget. There are coffee tables. Sofas. Rugs. Mirrors. And Eames DSW style chairs for just £51 each. And honestly, you can’t tell the difference. I should know, I’ve sat on a few. In an ideal world I’d invest in the original and own an iconic design blah blah blah…but until then, this is the next best thing. – Ellie

HOT SHOP: Flora Dora

June 15, 2011

I’ve stumbled across a real gem today. Flora Dora is a brand new mail order shop, selling previously unseen archive prints from the late textile designer Sheila Bownas, whose career stretched from the 1940s to the 1980s. Her wonderful 50s, 60s, and 70s designs are vibrant, colourful, gorgeous – and still very relevant today…

Sheila studied at Skipton Art School in 1941, then worked as a textile and wallpaper designer in London in the late 1950s and 1960s – during which time she painted wallpapers for the German firm ‘PW Bruck-Messel’. After a stint drawing botanical diagrams for the Natural History Museum, she returned to Yorkshire in later life and lived for many years in a cottage near Skipton, until her death in 2007. Sheila was a modest person and her relatives were amazed to find she had left behind a large collection of unseen patterns and paintings in a dusty drawer…

Two years ago, Rugby-based photographer, art gallery curator and mum-preneur, Chelsea Cefai, picked up the entire archive at an auction and, together with her husband, decided to share the designs with the world in a sympathetic way. Sheila’s family has been very involved with the whole process and, despite conversations with large companies such as Graham & Brown and Osborne & Little, the couple decided to keep things small-scale. Flora Dora was born.

There are 200 designs in the archive, but just two collections have been released so far, ‘1959’ and ‘1963’. This is a truly British venture; the cushion covers are sewn by Chelsea herself, the stunning art prints are produced in Birmingham, and the fabric is produced just 20m a time in a London workshop.

Got a vintage chair that needs re-covering? These fabrics are perfect! Mmmm, check out the ‘Loretta’ fabric on the Ercol studio couch.

Flora Dora also sells mid-century modern ceramics and retro tableware. Keep your eyes on the website; Chelsea tells me new collections will be released on a regular basis. I’m completely and utterly smitten. How wonderful to discover such a treasure trove stashed in a drawer. – Ellie