October 10, 2011

Marianne Lamberth was born in Norway. Her mother is Danish. Her father’s Norwegian. She’s married to Andreas – a blond, blue-eyed Swedish chap. It’s fair to say that Marianne couldn’t get much more Scandinavian… Now, the good news for us: Marianne moved to the UK five years ago, and missed Scandinavian homeware so much, that she decided to start Nordic Bliss – her own mail order shop to bring some of the lesser-known Scandi brands to Britain. She and Andreas started work in June (he’s in charge of the business side, she’s the creative force behind the website, the blog and the brand), renting out an extra flat to store the stock in and carefully selecting their favourite Scandi designs.  Nordic Bliss will open this Friday, selling textiles from Swedish labels Shyness and Klippan, and beautiful home accessories from Danish companies such as Hübsch and Madam Stoltz. I’ve had a sneaky preview and it’s well worth a visit… You’ll find chunky knitted cushions and throws, antique-style glass accessories, folk-style buys and Scandi chic galore! It’s all VERY exciting. Nordic Bliss is the latest addition to a veritable smörgåsbord of Scandi shops we’re lucky enough to have in the UK; Gone are the days when I’d flick wistfully through the Bloomingville catalogue, wishing such wonders were within grasp. Now, we’ve got Ferm Living at Heal’s and Cloudberry Living, the House Doctor DK range at Bodie and Fou, the lovely Nordic Elements collection (UK agents for By Nord CopenhagenRoomMateNeon Living and Casalinga) – all just a click away. So so so Scandi-lous. – Ellie 

Let’s go INDIGO!

January 7, 2011

Got the January blues? Me too. It’s so wrong to leave a warm duvet to face the cold drizzle outside. But cheer up. Think ink! Dark twilight blues are everywhere this season – so our stylish stylists have been busy creating stunning saturated schemes for our fabulous February issue. Mix dark blue with, erm, more dark blue, with accents of, er, blue, for a dramatic, designer-style look that’s DRENCHED in colour. Just don’t befriend a Smurf. You’ll never find him.

If I had this cool TIME TELLS clock (from Heals), I’d never be late again. Perfect for people who prefer words to numbers!

This rich midnight blue paint shade is ‘Sapphire Springs 1’ from Dulux, and the pendant lightbulbs are from SCP. If you’re into your Eurodance, you might like to start humming Eiffel 65’s ‘I’m blue, da ba dee‘ round about now. Then again, that might be a step too far.

Wow – this incredible digital wall mural of a moonlit forest is £172 from Udesign – I love the elegant tree branch silhouettes:

“When Margaret would only read books with blue covers while wearing denim, Terry began to worry.” – Ellie

Heal’s & Jeremy Hutchison

December 22, 2010

Take your elbows off the table and listen: Heal’s has teamed up with an innovative young designer to create a stunning new collection of ‘Heal’s Rules’ homeware…

Earlier this year, Slade School of Art student Jeremy Hutchison cheekily took Ambrose Heal’s 1915 logo: ‘NOTHING NEED BE UGLY‘ and turned it into ‘the iconography of a totalitarian state’ for an Artist-in-Residence window display at Heal’s. “I wanted to critique the way that modernist design makes us behave: like polite robots,” he explained. “Curiously, my critique was licensed by the brand itself. An institutional critique – assimilated by the institution itself. I’m still getting my head around it!” Heal’s has now commissioned Jeremy to create a whole range of products and has plastered his designs across mass-produced tableware, doormats, framed prints, postcards, bags, mints and cushions. Oh, the irony!

The collection launches in February, but the charming Mr Hutchison gave me a sneak preview. “I consulted my granny when I was designing it,” he told me. “The pieces feature rules that we’re all familiar with – ‘elbows off the table’, ‘eat your greens or get no pudding’– the range mocks the rigidity of British manners and etiquette.”

Jeremy started his career in advertising (working for brands such as Coca Cola) which he regarded as “research” and has likened to “working in the upper management of a well-run religion.” According to his website: “The ability to co-exist in multiple fields is essential to his work – he slips in unnoticed, and politely moves the goal posts.”

His designs remind me a bit of of washing instruction symbols on clothing labels – logos you can just glance at and instantly understand their meaning. We absorb so many ‘rules’ as we grow up – perhaps their meanings are similarly ingrained in our brains? Hutchison’s rather sinister vision is a prison-like domestic space filled with rigid rules, regulations and conventions, from which there is no escape…

Jeremy Hutchison is definitely ONE TO WATCH. He’s been a busy boy of late, collaborating here, there and everywhere – check out his digital CCTV-themed Christmas window display at Browns on South Molton Street in London:

Of course, rules are there to be broken – just looking at Jeremy’s ‘fascistic iconography’ makes me want to rebel. My elbows are definitely ON the table. – Ellie

I know, I know, we’re spoiling you today. It took a lot of persuasion, a few bribes here and there and perhaps a little bit of cheek, but we have it. Le scoop: Lisa Stickley‘s new bed linen designs for Heals (launching on 8th December). Regardez:

HURRAH for Lisa who, despite a punishing schedule churning out Debenhams designs, craft books and beautiful handbags, still manages to come up with such a fresh, pretty collection. I particularly love the trees design (which would look oh-so-cute in a kids’ room with the new Harlequin Boutique trees wallpaper but that’s by the by…) and also the orange set below, which is called Tangerine Hankie Flower:

As the youngsters round my way say, this is bare good, innit. – Ellie

Heal’s 200 Years of Design and Inspiration is a romp through history, telling the story of London’s most iconic furniture store from 1810 when it first opened to the present day. Being a complete interiors addict, this is just the kind of coffee table tome I love – full of retro adverts, beautiful furniture and brilliant design splashed across every page.

heals1There are fascinating photographs from the past, showing mattresses being stuffed and delivered in the 1890s, Heal’s wartime Home Guard lining up in the 1940s, and photos of machinists sewing parachutes during the war.

heals2I really enjoyed looking at all the 1950s and 60s images in this book – there are Lucienne Day fabrics to admire and stylish adverts that ooze sophistication.



The book looks at key people who have contributed to Heal’s over the years, from John Harris Heal, who launched a mattress-making business back in 1810, to Terence Conran and Orla Kiely who have designed for Heal’s in recent years. The design of this book is perfect – there’s enough text to convey a good amount of interesting information, but it’s the images that take the lead so the balance between words and pictures is bang on for a design book. I particularly like the black silhouette illustrations, borrowed from the V&A archive.

Picture 1But I think my favourite thing in the whole book is this little plate about ‘good taste’ from a vintage Heal’s leaflet. It’s such a good motto! Heal’s 200 Years of Design and Inspiration will be launched on Monday. – Ellie


Anorak, Showpony and Roddy & Ginger are TOP OF THE SHOPS for me this week, and if you’ve not heard of them before, now’s the time to add them to your little black book, filed under: ‘GORGEOUS THINGS’. Let’s kick off with a quick look at Roddy & Ginger.

roddyandginger2Based in south east London, graphic and textile designer Virginia Armstrong designs retro bags, cushions, clothing and prints, and also stocks cute vintage items. Her latest design, Spanish Village, comes in two colourways and is inspired by family holidays in a tiny village in Catalonia and the Sardana, a traditional Catalan dance performed by young and old at village fiestas and holidays. Virginia’s designs are full of colour, warmth and fun. Check out the rest of her collection – I’ve got my eye on the cute folkdance print…


Next stop is Anorak, run by designer Laurie Robertson. Having both been made redundant from their jobs, Laurie and her boyfriend decided to put her Royal College of Art print textiles Masters to use and launched a company they’d been dreaming of for some time, specialising in stylish homewares and outdoor accessories inspired by retro 70s camping holidays. Now, Laurie’s brother works with them too, and the company’s going from strength to strength.

anorak1I love the first range – called the ‘Kissing Animals’ collection for obvious reasons – and it’s the stags oilcloth that’s top of my wishlist. By the way, check out the horse prints – bang on trend!!


I’m also a huge fan of Showpony. Based in Glasgow, designer Emma Henderson creates stunning screen-printed bags, tea towels, cushion covers and accessories, all with a quirky feel. I adore the ‘Hot Dogs’ cushions, but it’s the Alphabetti circus font badges that I’d really love to own.

showponyEmma makes personalised commemorative teatowels for weddings that are so lovely – mental note! There are so many designers in the UK at the moment creating fabulous, fresh work, it’s a really exciting time. From the future of design to the past…here in the office, we’re gearing up for a big party. Myself and the other Ideal Home girls are heading over to Whisky Mist soon to celebrate Heal’s bicentenary furniture collection and the new book Heal’s: 200 Years of Design and Inspiration. Tune in tomorrow for a sneaky preview of the book before it’s launched…expect a visual feast – vintage adverts, retro furniture, fascinating black and white photos and style icons galore. – Ellie

Iconic British department store Heals is celebrating it’s 200th birthday next year, and the good news is a collection of lovely vintage posters from the Heals archives will be released to mark the occasion. Available as prints, or packs of postcards, these retro adverts are completely and utterly gorgeous!


The prints start at £12, but there are a few limited edition ones which will be £195. The postcards come in a pack of 10 for £6, and would look great in white IKEA frames in a group. – Ellie




Entomology is the buzz word on the lips of designers this season – butterfly motifs swarmed all over the spring summer 09 fashion catwalks, and now insects are invading our homes, too.


Butterfly teacups, £30 for four; butterfly tealight holder, £10; Laura Ashley

The Laura Ashley design team has really embraced the trend, scattering butterfly patterns liberally across its entire summer collection – there are butterfly magnets, butterfly lolly pop moulds, butterfly lights, butterfly jewellery boxes, butterfly mirrors, butterfly lamp shades – you get the idea.

Picnicware, from £2.50 for a tumbler, Laura Ashley

Picnicware, from £2.50 for a tumbler, Laura Ashley

Butterfly lights, £22, Laura Ashley

Butterfly lights, £22, Laura Ashley

Susanne Philippson’s iconic Butterfly clock (£120 at Heals) has never been more popular, and Matalan has just introduced a similar clock for recessionistas with a credit-crunch-busting £18 price tag.

Picture 13

Butterfly clock, £120, Heals

Chatting to artist John Dilnot at the recent Brighton Artists Open Houses festival, he told me that his butterfly and bug prints are selling particularly well at the moment. I’ve spotted John’s lovely entomological screen prints on the American Decor8 blog recently, too, so it seems the insect trend is going global!

Garden Pests print, John Dilnot

Garden Pests print, £110, John Dilnot

If you’re after the real deal, Bugs Direct sells framed butterflies and insects in museum-style cases…

Swallowtail butterfly in frame, £17, Bugs Direct

Swallowtail butterfly in frame, £17, Bugs Direct

…or you can just get the look with a striking cushion from Barker and Stonehouse instead.


Red admiral cushion, £75, Barker and Stonehouse

Designer Clarissa Hulse has designed a new Dragonfly pattern blind for Eclectics, which is really delicate and pretty – perfect for a bedroom:

Picture 12

I’ve also been admiring this lovely butterfly print fabric from new shop Runaway Coast. (Look out for our Runaway Coast post tomorrow!)

Butterfly fabric, £34 per m, Runaway Coast

Butterfly fabric, £34 per m, Runaway Coast

If you’re not a fan of creepy crawlies, look away now – Queen of Posh GraffitiEmily Readett Bayley, has just launched a range of giant wooden bugs…

Beetle, £15, Emily Readett Bayley

Beetle, £15, Emily Readett Bayley

So, why are butterflies and other insects in vogue this season? Perhaps they’re welcome positive symbols for troubled times? Butterflies are seen as cheerful, carefree creatures, while other insects are usually tough, adaptable survivors. Insects have been around for 175 million years (ish!) and they’ll probably be around for another 175 million, so maybe they represent reassuring continuation in our ever-changing world? Whatever the seed for this trend was, I’m quite content to be surrounded by butterflies this summer. I’ve been admiring artist Tracy Bush‘s wall art for a while, and now I’m making my own version by cutting paper butterflies out of vintage magazines using a stencil and pinning them in an IKEA Riba frame. It’s budget art, but time consuming and now my house is full of paper butterflies! – Ellie

Paper butterflies by Tracy Bush

Paper butterflies by Tracy Bush

Credit Crunch lingo

March 31, 2009

The new Heals spring/summer brochure landed on my desk last week with the word ‘Chiconomics’ proudly splashed across it, while ‘Recessionista’ (a frugal fashion follower who scouts around for bargains to save money but still manages to dress fabulously) was word of the week recently on the Macmillan Dictionary website. If you want to be cool, you need to get down with the Credit Crunch kids, tap into the zeitgeist and learn the lingo.

picture-13Over the past few months, as economies have collapsed and banks have gone bust, new Credit-Crunch-related words have been popping up all over the media in TV programmes, press releases and newspapers. This new recession slang heralds the beginning of a global thrift trend; it’s no longer cool to spend big bucks – which is just as well, as most of us are feeling the pinch and counting our pennies.


Last month, American paper The Financial Post declared: ‘Ostentatious consumption – even for the well-off – is beginning to appear gauche’. So, it’s official – it’s cool to be frugal. I’m finally fashionable! This year, instead of complaining that I can’t afford to go abroad, and moaning about camping in Wales (again), I’ll be showing off at dinner parties (remember: staying in is the new going out) and telling everybody I’m taking an über-cool ‘Staycation’ in the UK instead – it’s all the rage for a Recessionista Frugalista like myself who’s embracing Chiconomics, darling. – Ellie

For more on ‘Chiconomics’, buy the June issue of Ideal Home magazine 🙂



When you can’t get to a computer, why not jot it down the ‘old fashioned’ way:

Something vintage:

Vintage Notebook French Letter, £6.95,

Vintage Notebook French Letter,

Something fun:

Comic Covered Notebook,

Comic Covered Notebook,

Something retro:

Set of notebooks,

Set of notebooks,

Something designer:

Orla Kiely Flower Abacus ruled notebook,

Orla Kiely Flower Abacus ruled notebook,

Something recycled:

Recycled Thoughts in Recycled Leather,

Recycled Thoughts in Recycled Leather,

Something to dream about:

I'm going to be a rockstar,

I'm going to be a rockstar,

If you find any more worth shouting about, email us at and let us know – we’d love to hear from you – Emily