Planning a camping trip in Wales this summer? You’d fit right in with this enamelware from Blodwen. I got a bit excited when I saw this! The classic navy and white has been given a wonderful Welsh twist, featuring the iconic ‘Caernarfon’ pattern that you normally see used in traditional tapestry blankets…

Blodwen has lots of lovely stuff. The founder, Denise Lewis, is passionate about supporting handmade Welsh craft. She designed this ‘Gwalia’ (Welsh for ‘homeland’) enamelware herself  and, although the enamel is sourced in Europe, the design and firing of the decals is all done in Wales.

1. Enamel jug, £35; 2. Mug set, £28 for 2; 3. bowl, £15.

Based in Cardigan Bay, you’ll also find woven baskets, wooden bowls, pottery, tapestry floor mats and homemade jam! Have a browse online at their delightful wares and the Gwalia is also available through Liberty. – Alice

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If you’re not yet familiar with Gudrun Sjödén she is a Swedish designer who has a bit of a thing for colour and pattern. She loves to layer it up in contrasting, clashing and clever creative ways. She’s also a bit of an eco do-gooder with a lot of organic cottons and a strong green ethos. Her fashion and homeware range has actually been going for 35 years with stores all over Scandinavia and Germany where she has a cult following. She’s now come to London and last night I went to the store opening on Monmouth Street, Covent Garden.

Gudrun Sjoden store opening, Monmouth Street, Swedish design textiles, colour, pattern, hot shop, homeware, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys

It was a colourful affair that felt more like a garden party than a store opening. It was full of typically darn beautiful Scandi’s dressed head to toe in her collections, handsome men in floral aprons handing out canapés and summery drinks, fresh flowers in buckets and an enslaught of dedicated fans (where did they all come from!?) whom Gudrun greeted, one by one, on the door.

Think Anthropologie crossed with Designers Guild

I’m not sure I could pull off the bold, statement attire but the homeware I could happily live with. I loved the folky style rugs, ziz zag towels and gorgeous textiles and bedlinen inspired by meadows, wild flowers and sunshine…

Gudrun Sjoden store opening, Monmouth Street, Swedish design textiles, colour, pattern, hot shop, homeware, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys
I love the zingy citrus shades that feel so fresh and countrified. My bathroom needs a bit of colour and these bath mats would do the job nicely…
Gudrun Sjoden store opening, Monmouth Street, Swedish design textiles, colour, pattern, hot shop, homeware, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys
Gudrun Sjoden store opening, Monmouth Street, Swedish design textiles, colour, pattern, hot shop, homeware, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys
Gudrun Sjoden store opening, Monmouth Street, Swedish design textiles, colour, pattern, hot shop, homeware, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys
You’ll also find shower curtains with trailing floral prints, table linen, cushions, curtains and rolls of fabrics that can be bought by the metre. If, unlike me, you’re not trapped in the capital, then fret thee not as you can also buy on-line. Hoorah and happy weekend! – Alice

On the 1st day of Christmas…

November 26, 2011

Ok, it’s almost countdown to Christmas time! Alas, I always feel a little disheartened when I see the shops stocked with tacky, commercial Advent calendars with synthetic pressed chocolates, that taste like plastic. Who buys those?

So, i’ve scoured around to seek out a few creative alternatives that I like and wanted to share with you. And they’re calorie free. Justification #327 for eating lots on Christmas day.

First up: The eco-friendly stationary people, Lollipop Designs. Create your own poster with this graphic Advent calendar and sticker sheet, a different sticker for each day. Why not?

advent calendar, Christmas advent calendar, lollipop designs, stationary, ideal home, homeshoppingspy

Lollipop Designs, Christmas, advent calendar, poster, craft, stationary, ideal home, homeshoppingspy

Lollipop designs, advent calendar, alternative advent calendar, stationary, graphic, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, idealhomemagazine

And I love this idea from The Spotted Sparrow at notonthehighstreet.com. 24 pre-dated blank library cards that you can customise with a suggested festive activity for each day (eat a mince pie, adopt a reindeer, practice Auld Lang Syne, take your hands OUT of the Quality Street tin…). They sit in cute brown paper pockets and come with bakers twine and wooden pegs to hang garland-stylee over a mantlepiece or banister. Ooh er!

advent calendar, alternative advent calendar, notonthehighstreet, stationary, Christmas, ideal home, ideal home magazine, homeshoppingspy

advent calendar, original advent calendar, Christmas advent calendar, notonthehighstreet.com, ideal home, homeshoppingspy

Next up: The lovely Bodie and Fou. Ok, so this idea is slightly more aimed at kids but I wouldn’t say no to a cube a day filled with ‘toys’ and other small but useful things! It’s a bit more pricey at £35.50 but it can be re-used year after year. (please note: toys not included. The idea is you get creative and fill it yourself).

advent calendar, alternative advent calendar, bodie and fou, children, Christmas, ideal home, homeshoppingspy

advent calendar, noix de Coc, bodie and fou, christmas, craft, alternative Christmas advent calendar,ideal home, homehoppingspy

And lastly, but by no means least is a charming DIY Advent calendar from the creative genius that is Lucy Jane Batchelor. It comes with 25 dated illustrated stickers to create your own wintry scene. Such lovely retro colours. Jolly delightful! – Alice

Advent calendar scene, Lucy Jane Batchelor, Christmas, Devon, staionary, alternative stationary, craft, ideal home, homeshoppingspy

Lucy Jane Batchelor, Advent calendar scene, Christmas, advent calendar, craft, devon, ideal home, homeshoppingspy

Today, Crown has launched a new paint range called Vintage, in association with Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway. It’s a collection of 30 matt emulsions and will be sold in Homebase later this month (for £22.99 per 2.5l) coinciding neatly with the upcoming Vintage at Goodwood (well, actually it’s now at Southbank, London, cough) festival and the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain. The colours are ‘inspired by music, fashion, film, art and design from the 1940s to the 1980s’ – I like their retro, groovy names such as ‘Chelsea Girl’ and ‘Free Love’, maan.

Here’s the 1970s-inspired ‘Bell Bottoms’ orange shade…and the 80s-tastic ‘Shoulder Pad Purple’ colour:

And, just for fun, here are Gerardine and Wayne (holding daffodils, of course) in what appears to be Paddington Bear’s house– Ellie

Somewhere, on a soulless tarmac-covered, out-of-town retail park near you, waits a magical cave of wondrous home-related joy…

HomeSense is the sister of TK Maxx, but rest assured, there ain’t no comparison. Yeah, so every now and again TK comes up trumps and you stumble across a nice bit of Le Creuset or a bath mat you never knew you needed, but – it’s all so untidy. And homeware seems to be an afterthought, tucked away past the Calvin Klein pants, the peculiar soaps and the ‘decorative’ coloured olive oils with floating, erm, bits.

HomeSense is just homeware, no fashion, and although there are some great end-of-line products, there are also loads of new designs at low prices, as well as one-off vintage items that the buyers pick up on their travels. It’s a bit hit and miss – you have to pop in regularly to find the best stuff – and stock in every store varies, but it’s well worth a peep. I paid a visit to the Staples Corner store the other day and found Moroccan-style lanterns for under a tenner, pouffes for £29.99 and lots of affordable designer-style outdoor furniture, too.

I spent a long time playing with these hour glass timers – they come with natural, blue, pink or black sand and would look cool on a mantelpiece. The bird prints are gorgeous, too. I particularly like the bright, tropical-meets-tribal cushions and quilts in-store at the moment, all very Anthropologie SS11, and at such low prices…

I was amazed by the collection of blankets I saw, too. Row upon row of beautiful cashmere, angora and super-soft lambswool throws in a rainbow of colours. They could have cost hundreds elsewhere, but were all just £19.99 or less. Cue, the amateur photography…

I picked up a pale pink angora throw for just £8! Kerr-ching. There had just been a big delivery of vintage furniture from India, too, so I had a little look at that, then admired Tolix chairs for £39 each and French grain-sack-covered dining chairs for £99 each…

Note the little drawers! I resisted buying the metal E, although I WAS tempted. I might have to pop back for that bell jar, though. It was only £7.99…– Ellie

If you’ve been wise enough to pick up a copy of the new May issue of Ideal Home, you might have spotted the gorgeous bespoke wall art we commissioned British screen-printers Jane Tobitt and David Wardle at Bold & Noble to produce for our front cover:

These bespoke prints were made for our ‘Quiet Revolution’ issue (it’s in the shops now, hint hint!) – a celebration of British design, packed full of beautiful buys and fabulous decorating schemes.

They’re from a beautiful blue ‘back to basics’ shoot our stylists did – think lovely linens, retro wooden furniture and hand-thrown pottery. Doesn’t the white blossom look stunning against the inky blue walls? In fact, it’s so nice I might actually have to paint a room in my own house this colour – it’s Bamiyan Blue, from Fired Earth. SIGH. – Ellie

Ok, so it’s just yellow and purple. But remember: this is the world of magazines. More is more. Across the road from Ideal Home‘s HQ is Kirkaldy’s Testing and Experimenting Works – an austere Victorian building with: ‘FACTS, NOT OPINIONS’ engraved above the door. Whenever I see it, I automatically think: ‘OPINIONS, NOT FACTS’. Much more fun. Art over science. So, mimosa and cassis it is!

I love this huge wallpaper map mural (showing our local area!) – it’s from Printed Space. You can get 40% off the full price at the moment using the special discount code: VintageJAN. And that cassis satchel is from Pedlars. I think it’s definitely got my name on it…

Oh, I do love a good Niki Jones folk-style cushion cover!

This deep purple ‘aubergine’ Princess Alice armchair from John Lewis is electric – and it looks stunning with the white high gloss Pop stool from M&S.

Now, you know how I feel about bell jars. This beautiful ‘Beauties Hedgerow’ dome is from Helen Musselwhite. It’s £450, but you could get a similar look with a glass cloche from Wiggly Wigglers filled with a £20 Tord Boontje garland from Habitat. This magical paper scene reminds me of Su Blackwell’s work.

Harlequin is rocking this colour combo this season, too – check out the new Tamika collection above. Yellow doesn’t have to be mellow! Mix it with smoke grey,  cassis, fuchsia pink and black – as our stylist Sophie Robinson did – for a dramatic, glamorous look. That’s how we roll. – Ellie