TESCO SS12: THE QUIZ

October 27, 2011

Checking out the new SS12 Tesco home collection recently (all available in-store as from Feb 2012), I politely ignored the small ceramic meerkats, who now seem to grace every home collection on the high street (WHO IS BUYING THESE THINGS?! OWN UP!) and focussed instead on the new stylish designer-style statement cushions. SO. Let’s have a little quiz to see if you can sort the supermarket stunners from the costly cushions. ROUND ONE: DING DING…

Which of these attractive accessories is cheap as chips at just £8 from Tesco’s Florence and Fred collection, and which is £57 from talented textile designer Clarissa Hulse? ROUND TWO:

Which of these Uzbek-style padded pretties is bargain-acious at just £10 from Tesco, and which is £66.50 from trend-setting designer Niki Jones? Hmmm, these are getting tricky…. ROUND THREE:

Which of these Ikat (eee-cat, eye-cat, yeah, you know…) cushions in autumnal hues is a Tesco £10 trolley-filler, and which is an expensive woven beauty worth £50? ROUND FOUR:

Which of these gorgeous green mid-century scatter cushions is £8 from Mr Tesco, and which is the real deal and £50 from a vintage shop? Answers are below in a comment! All cushions are on sale as from February 2012. And that is the end of this exciting and no-expense-spent quiz. Good night. – Ellie

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Ahoy there, land-lubbers. Now, don’t get me wrong. The nautical look is usually a summer thing. Sailor stripes, hurricane lanterns, curious fish-shaped hanging decorations, drift wood furniture and she sells sea shells on the sea shore – you know the kind of thing. Here at Ideal Home, we embrace all things red, white and blue around July/August time in a gorgeous coastal issue, published at the height of summer when the UK seas are just about warm enough to swim in (not). But here’s proof that the designers at IKEA – those brave Swedes (fuelled by a diet of crayfish, meatballs and lingonberry jam) are not afraid to take a dip in the sea-faring trend as late as October, when the rest of us are shivering beside our radiators and reaching for our knitted knickers…

No pink sticks of rock or donkeys here, though. The new IKEA Benzy range of fabrics and accessories (which has just gone in-store this week) is elegant and antique-style – all faded linen hues decorated with charcoal-effect sketches of ships. It’s nautical, Jim, but not as we know it…

The new treasure map Benzy Land cushions (just £9.99 each for 50cm x 50cm size) feature vintage compass designs and whales’ tails – but you don’t have to turn your living room into a pirate ship; They work really well with IKEA’s other new Benzy additions – 1970s-style paisley and checked cushions (and fabrics) in rich, autumnal chocolate, navy and plum colours.

I foolishly cropped the ‘OCE’ off this linen-look cushion on my first attempt at re-sizing with unfortunate results.

As always, IKEA = strange gravy, confusing product names but BARGAIN price tags. The Benzy fabrics look expensive, but are just £6.99 per metre, so you can save your pieces of eight. – Ellie

They’re referred to as ‘the handbags of interiors’ – little accessories you can afford to change more often than the bigger elements of a scheme. Racing around the Autumn design exhibitions recently, I’ve noticed so many cool and crazy new cushions. My iPhone memory is just about full of the dang things, in fact. It’s tricky to narrow down favourites, but here are my top five picks…

Numero uno, beautiful new designs from our bus blind friend (that came out wrong, she’s not blind, you understand…) – dear Barbara Coupe. At Decorex, Barbara showed me her fabulous new Origami-inspired cushions, some psychedelic 1960s swirly ones in hot fuchsia pink and a few trademark wordy ones thrown in for good measure. “I couldn’t decide between HOUSE PARTY and PARTY HOUSE,” she told me. We discussed the difference between the two for some time, deciding HOUSE PARTY is more of a single occasion, whereas PARTY HOUSE is kind of ongoing fun. I’m freelance these days, so have time to think about such things. Hmmm.

In at number two, we find some extremely fun and funky designs from our Scottish pals at Showpony. They’re reversible, so if you lose your voice or are feeling lazy, you can hold them up to answer simple questions while lounging on the sofa. ‘Cup of tea?’ YES. ‘Can we watch Match of the Day instead of Downton Abbey?’ NO. That kind of thing…

In the number three slot, we find new cushions from Michelle Mason, created for record label DECCA and due to launch TOMORROW. Another swinging sixties theme here – with Michelle’s signature bunting of course – and some pretty groovy vinyl records, too!

Moving on to number four now…creepy cushions by Naori Priestly, launched last week at Tent London and inspired by the dark and sinister tale of Little Red Riding Hood…

Her appliqué felt cushions feature frightening wolves and blood-soaked woodcutter’s axes; Cute Uzbek-style folk pom-pom trims juxtaposed with jagged silhouetted shadow-puppet-esque shapes. She’s one to watch…

Finally, in at number five are some 1980s-style colour-blocked babies – ‘Technicolour’ wool felt cushions from the trend-setters at Room39. I love the colours here – fresh turquoise, sky blue, hot pink and orange – the next big thing:

Colour-blocking was a huge trend in fashion this summer, and it looks as though it’s trickled down in to interiors already! It’s a tough call, but I think these ones are my favourites so far this season. – Ellie

Dotcomgiftshop does VINTAGE

September 8, 2011

Check out these rather lovely reproduction wall art prints from the new AW11 Dotcomgiftshop collection (AKA Rex International, so you’ll spot these products popping up all over the place soon, too…) They’re all £14.95 each – framed! Bargainous. Do you own a ‘cycle’?

I like this village flower show print so much – it would look good pinned up in my allotment shed (my courgettes aren’t going to win any prizes in reality sadly, but I can always dream…!)

There’s a cute dog one, too:

Elsewhere in the new range there are some very stylish glass measuring beaker ‘Apothecary’ vases – they’re really huge and £29.95 each. Have a peep at the linen-effect cushions and the zinc accessories, too…

Last but by no means least, there’s a set of six tiny glass school milk bottles in a crate for £8.95. As somebody who once packed a whole suitcase full of mini milk bottles in Germany, and as a hoarder of retro striped straws, you can see why This. Makes. Me. VERY. Happy. Take them out of the twee crate and line them up on a window sill, with a single bloom in each! Great for wedding drinks/favours, too! – Ellie

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

NEW: Write boards

August 31, 2011

Not quite ready for a permanent blackboard wall? If you’re renting or just not brave enough for a wall of black paint, you might like these rather smart paper-effect wipe-able Write Boards (£24.99 for four) new for AW11 from The Contemporary Home:

Memo 1: ‘Call vet RE Danny the dove.’ Memo 2: ‘Finish hammering.’ Memo 3: ‘Remember to move vintage potty before sitting down.’ – 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