Mr James ‘Jimmy’ Fiction Esq – a ‘purveyor of the very finest letters of extraordinary size’ – has just launched a rather splendid online shop to sell his larger-than-average alphabetical wares…

His name might be fictional, but here’s a fact: His free-standing 3D letters, numbers and symbols are, as he points out, ‘POSITIVELY HUGE’. Jimmy’s welded steel frame letters are suitable for indoor or outdoor use, so you could spell your name in a field, or prop an initial in your living room. Whatever takes your fancy.

Obviously, because of my ongoing problem, I am vEry Excited about this. Oh yEs. – 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

Do you have a ‘Hamster Vorace’ or a ‘Lapin Lunatique’? Well, now you can warn people about your crazy pets with a French sign from lovely mail order shop, Willow and Stone!
Even if your pets are relatively sane, there’s plenty to amuse you. You’ll find antique glass bottles, cute buttons, vintage packaging for dried peas and beautiful buys from stockists such as Cavallini (bird wrapping paper / poster for £3!) and Price’s (retro candles). Based in Falmouth harbour, Cornwall, Willow and Stone is run by former Lassco antiques dealer Sarah Willshaw and her artist husband, Nick Williams. The accessories and gifts are gorgeous…

…but it’s the ironmongery that’s got me excited. Sad, I know. But if you’re renovating a house and looking for authentic period door furniture, this is the place to go. Rim locks, sash window catches, letter plates, door bells, finger plates, bolts, house number plaques, drawer pulls and escutcheons – it’s all here. If only I could say the word ‘escutcheon’…

Lovely knobs and knockers. (Apologies for tacky Carry On pun, but I had to include it to boost the Search Engine Optimisation. You’d be surprised.) – Ellie

I was going to use the word ‘severed’ in that title but thought the animal rights people might be concerned (as they were with The Regrettable Glowing Rabbit Lamp Post AKA Bunny-gate)…

This resin horse head wall light is new at Rockett St George. What? Yes. I know: We’ve already seen horsey designs. (I think we called it ‘Equestrian Chic‘ at the time. How pretentious). In fact, ever galloping ahead, we covered this topic in 2009, in the mane. BUT. We were somewhat aHEAD of ourselves. The trend’s evolved. Think: The Godfather (Khartoum). Think classical influences such as the Trojan horse (Why not? After all, Roman and Greek architecture was a huge story at Milan this year: check out the new Intaglio collection from Zoffany featuring architectural columns and pillars…) Think wild west, pioneer, ranch style. Think…erm, chess. Yes! It’s horse HEADS that are all the rage right now…

There’s plenty of horsing around on the high street this season. 1: Dwell‘s new wall trophy horse head is due in-store this June. 2: But, if you can’t wait, you’ll find this silver horse head at Dwell now. 3: Next is selling giant chess pieces to perch on your mantel, including this horse ‘knight’ objet. 4: You can find horse head hooks, here. 5: And fun horse head magnets at Crowbiz.

Everybody needs good NEIGHbours: This striking golden horse head ornament is about to pop up in Habitat’s AW11 range. (And don’t even get me started on magnifying glasses. That’s a whole new post…) – Ellie

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

NEW: Habitat AW11

May 19, 2011

Dust off that decanter – Victoriana drama is BACK:

Ten times stronger than the Spring/Summer range, Habitat‘s new Autumn/Winter collection is inspired by all-things-gothic; Think smart leather Chesterfields, plump velvet armchairs, cameos, taxidermy, and dark glamour…

My favourite piece of furniture at the show was this fabulous ORSON wing-back chair – such a sexy shape, and beautiful in a fretwork patterned fabric:

The faded grandeur of 68 Dean Street was the perfect setting for this elegant, decadent look…

It was hard not to weep with joy when confronted with the new GIFFEN desk. With an ultra-modern high gloss lacquered top and traditional-style black wooden spindle legs, it’s the ultimate old-meets-new piece. It’s hard to actually SEE it in this gorgeous, moody, yet really-rather-dark shot. But trust me, it’s a STUNNER in the flesh.

Elsewhere, there were beautiful textiles from Linda Florence – lampshades, rugs, cushions and curtains. I also loved the rattan WILBUR pendant light, the geometric wire GEESE (ducks, surely?), and the quirky illustrated KUJA and SEYMOUR accessories featuring foxes, horses and peacocks…

There’s nothing plain about the new JANE mirror with a striking, silhouette  frame featuring characters from Austen’s novels. It would look amazing on a brightly coloured wall…

But the star of the show for me was the KUBRIK dark grey high-gloss range. Check out the practically-edible sideboard…(please excuse my rubbish iPhone photo – not great, but you get the idea!)

Ooh, and the knitted BRAID rug it’s sitting on is pretty tasty, too… – Ellie