Gorgeous grey walls, rich red head board, retro accessories and pretty flowery bed linen – mix it all together, and this is what our style team got:

cottage-floralsHow cute! And it’s not an expensive look – the Bekvan stool is £7.82 from IKEA, the Barometer red lamp is £33.90, also IKEA, the bedlinen is £19.50, M&S, and the LOVE cushion is £45, Cox & Cox. I’ve recently bought some felt with the intention of sewing my own LOVE cushion in black and white…it’s on the TO DO list still sadly! There aren’t enough hours in the day sometimes. – Ellie

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Recession-proof Cath Kidston has defied the crumbling economy with her ‘kitchenalgia’ empire (apparently this is ‘kitchenalia’ blended with ‘nostalgia’, in case you are as confused as I am). This year she has sold more polka dot tea towels and chintzy fabrics than ever before and has smugly recorded profits of £4.6m, up from £2.9m in 2008.

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This is a big deal in the interiors industry. Other homeware brands have been hit hard by the recession – The Pier has disappeared. High street favourite Woolworths is a gonna (which of recent years was yawns-ville but in the past brought us such classics as the Ridgway Homemaker tableware collection) and MFI has tragically died. So, for Cath Kidston’s sales to rise from £19.2m to £31.3m is pretty impressive. She’s going from strength to strength and now has 27 stores in the UK and Ireland, with 10 new openings in the last year. And it’s not just us Brits who go crazy for her cute, floral style – she’s also huge in Japan and now has shops in Tokyo, Nagoya and Yokohama.

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There have been articles in both The Guardian and The Sunday Times recently charting Kidston’s amazing growth and discussing what the secret of her recession success is. Do women turn to her cheerful designs for comfort in hard times? Do her vintage patterns remind us of our grandmothers, idyllic childhoods and homespun rosy days? Is the CK lifestyle ‘a way to nest, but without all the hard work involved in nesting’? In the Daily Mail recently, Leah Hardy, a self-confessed Cath-addict summed up why she’s obsessed with the brand: “In Cath Kidston world, surrounded by my Cath Kidston things, I can believe I am the perfect housewife. I live in a mullioned rectory. There are perfectly behaved, rosy-cheeked children and well-trained dogs at my feet. Carrots are growing in my garden and there’s a homemade cake cooling in my kitchen. The reality, of course, is somewhat different. I’m a harassed working mother living in a South London semi, with cats and urban children, at whom I sometimes shout, especially when I’m on a deadline and they are fighting over the TV remote control. There are no roses around my door, I wince when my bank statements arrive and my ironing pile is a disgrace. In my retro-styled sewing box I have a Cath Kidston floral-print tin button box but I can’t remember the last time I sewed on a button.”

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So, Cath allows us to fantasise and escape reality. But can she peddle this dream forever? There have been rumbles in the press that she’s grown too big – that her ‘pinny porn’ has spread ‘like ivy’ – that fashion will turn against her as it did with Laura Ashley in the 1990s – that selling spotty bags in Tesco, phones for Nokia, tents in Millets and opening an outlet store in Bicester is a bit too much and somehow, well, chavvy. It’s like when you hear a song you like on the radio. Every day. Twenty four times. It soon loses it’s appeal and becomes a bit annoying. It’s overload. Controversially, a former Cath-fan recently referred to Kidston as ‘a bit of a tart’ in the Daily Mail. She explained: ‘Cath Kidston is everywhere now – and there’s nothing more annoying than finding your hidden gem is suddenly a cheap bit of costume jewellery available on every high street.’

While I’m sure Cath won’t relish being labelled ‘a tart’, she might be glad of all this convenient media attention, as there are rumours flying around that she’s planning to sell her empire… so, what do you think? Have you had your fill of sugary florals? Are you all Cath Kidston-ed out? Or are you a complete convert? Do the new CK  images here still give you a thrill? Will you be rushing out to buy the new Cath Kidston Roberts radio (above)? So many questions! Let us know what you think! – Ellie

Cool off during the British heat wave with these beautiful seaside shots from our friends at Greengate. Mmmm, so pretty. So, Greengate.

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I wish I could dive into that deep blue ocean right now! The whole Ideal Home team has been traipsing around London today visiting Christmas press shows to preview all the baubles, trees, cards and decorations that will hit the shops in November. It’s very surreal to be chatting about Christmas tree trends in soaring temperatures, but we got some great ideas for photo shoots and features, and saw some stunning new collections. Highlights include the beautiful festive products from Cox & Cox:

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Cute paper angels…paint-your-own cardboard NOEL letters…a family of owls sewing kit…a circus font stamp set…duck tape (tape with ducks on it, LOVE IT) and metallic birdies – the people at Cox & Cox have found so many lovely treats! Right, snap back to July…and it’s ice lolly time me-thinks. Again… – Ellie