These cute retro ceramics from Netherlands-based Etsy seller Ninainvorm are topping the Ideal Home wish list today. Nina produces stunning hand-shaped screen-printed ceramics, screenprints and collages, as well as some vintage ‘redecorated’ ceramics – pretty china pieces that she applies her hand-made screenprints to.

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Nina is now up there with Lou Rota and friends in my ‘cutest ceramics’ brigade. And how sweet is her ‘Dear Pear’ collage? It would be a lovely piece of wall art for a child’s bedroom.

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Thinking about decals on vintage ceramics…I’ve just written a feature for Ideal Home about the amazing A4/A3 sized fabric papers available from Crafty Computer Paper. The sheets go through a normal inkjet printer so you can print any digital image you like on to fabric – just wait for the ink to dry before peeling the backing off, like a sticker, and you’re left with washable, printed fabric. I saw lovely vintage-style cushions from Rosie’s Armoire at the Country Living Fair a few months back, which were made with these sheets. ANYWAY, Crafty Computer Paper also sells decal paper, designed to transfer images easily to ceramics and candles etc, so I’ve ordered some and I’m going to have a bash at updating some vintage tea plates next weekend! – Ellie

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After last year’s successful ‘MAKE!‘ book, we can reveal that Cath Kidston is publishing another craft book later this year. ‘SEW!’ is due to hit shops in early October, but we can’t wait until then, so here’s a sneaky peek at what to expect…

CATH1The book will come with a length of Cath Kidston fabric, a label and buttons so you’ll have everything you need to sew the pretty bag shown on the front cover. When you consider that Cath Kidston‘s bags start at £16 in her shops for a basic cloth bag, and this book is retailing at £14.99 – plus, you get loads of other sewing patterns and projects too – I think this is an absolute bargain!

CATH2Pia Tryde‘s colourful photography is cheerful and bright in truth Cath spirit and the styling is as gorgeous as ever – how cute is the little red vintage sewing machine on the back cover?! Love it! There are some lovely projects in this book, guaranteed to keep us all stitching and sewing for quite some time – expect hot water bottle covers, kitchen aprons and clothes hangers.

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cath4Even if you’re not a sewing expert, you’ll be OK – there’s a handy step-by-step section at the beginning of the book where all the basic stitches and techniques are explained nice and clearly.

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Craft and sewing has taken the country by storm this year. TV show Kirstie’s Homemade Home has proved so popular that Channel 4 is filming another series, where Kirstie Allsopp will transform real people’s homes (apply online here!), and it has been announced today that a new sewing magazine will launch on 29 May in the UK, called ‘Sew‘ (not to be confused with CK’s book, ‘SEW!’)

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With the strapline: ‘Join the sewing revolution’ splashed across the cover, it’s aimed at a new generation of younger sewing fans. If you’re embracing the craft movement, check out the easy-sew cushion projects in the June issue of Ideal Home, out now. – Ellie

When ultra-cool fashion label English Eccentrics launched a range of scented candles with St Eval Candle Company last year, candle-addicts, such as myself, rejoiced. Now a new scent has been added to the collection – Tiger Lily.

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These candles tick all the boxes; they have beautiful packaging – the pretty designs are reminiscent of Rob Ryan‘s quirky and delightful paper cuts – and they have wonderful scents with names such as ‘Eccentricity’, ‘Tea with the Queen’ and ‘Wintergarden’. At £25 each, they’re special treats but cheaper than the likes of Jo Malone and Diptyque, and the colourful boxes are much more fun! I love the fact that the scents are described very specifically on the boxes to conjure up a real mood – for example, ‘Eccentricity’ apparently smells like: ‘Riding in London’s Hyde Park on a spring morning, a fresh breeze of bergamot, petitgrain and herbs mixes with saddlery leather to create an eccentric, English cologne.‘ The ‘Tea with the Queen’ fragrance has a similarly epic description: ‘The table is set with fine linen and bone china. Scent from a vase of Devon violets mingles with freshly brewed Darjeeling tea. A delicate and perfectly regal aroma.‘ Love it!

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The new Tiger Lily candle is described as: ‘a passionate bouquet of ylang ylang, known in the South Pacific as an aphrodisiac, and jungle hot tiger lily blended with tropical spices.’ I’ve had a quick sniff of a preview sample and it smells lovely! More to the point, it’s pink, which makes it a winner in my book. If you’re feeling crafty and fancy having a go at making your own candles, follow the simple instructions on the Ideal Home website. – Ellie

Pedlars magic

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Quirky mail order company Pedlars has a knack of stocking everything that I dream of owning, and the new spring collection is as lovely as expected.

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Branches wall sticker, £29.50, Pedlars

The ultimate designer desk for 2009. Anglepoise lamp? Check. Vintage globe? Check. ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ mug? Check. Funky wall sticker? Check. Vintage marmalade jar used as a pen pot in an oh-so-cool way? Check. If my desk looked like this, I’d get more work done, I’m sure…

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FUN print, £75, Pedlars

Following on from yesterday’s post about circus fonts, this new FUN print couldn’t be more on-trend. Love it! Even though it’s May, I’ve got a thing for this fabulous reindeer oil cloth too, which proves that reindeers are for life, not just for Christmas:

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Oil cloth, from £32, Pedlars

More Cool Britannia buys here for flag fans. Like them or loathe them, you can’t escape Union Jack designs this summer! Luckily, I’m loving this look and have even draped Union Jack bunting around my bedstead, much to my other half’s chagrin. (He muttered something rude before sulkily accepting the shabby chic vibe and the fact that his home now resembles some kind of crazy village fete, circa 1950. He’s well trained.)

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Union Jack tea towel, £11.50, Pedlars

    

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Enamel tea set, from £4.95, Pedlars

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Bunting, £14.95, Pedlars

So many lovely things. Have a look at the full collection on the Pedlars website, and you can ogle the lovely cluttered home of founders Charlie and Caroline Gladstone in this Guardian article. – Ellie

 

 

 

The first episode of Kirstie Allsopp‘s eagerly-awaited new Channel 4 TV series, Kirstie’s Homemade Home, aired on Thursday. It’s received mixed reviews – writing for The Times, AA Gill called it ‘monstrously patronising’ – so I watched it to see what I thought. In this opening episode, Kirstie introduced us to her mission: to transform a dilapidated country cottage in Devon into the ultimate ‘homemade’ home, with everything either made in the UK, or made by her. Week one followed the transformation of the kitchen.

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Kirstie's kitchen

Kirstie started by visiting the National Trust’s Lanhydrock House for ideas, which has one of the finest Victorian kitchens in the country. So far, so good – she admired the enormous Welsh dresser at Lanhydrock and vowed to find a smaller, second-hand dresser for her own kitchen to recreate the look. Then she got designer Cath Kidston‘s advice on table settings, which was a strange part of the programme. I was looking forward to seeing the interior of Cath Kidston‘s home, but all we got was a fleeting shot of her home office and then filming took place in her modern, unexpectedly-clinical kitchen. Cath herself appeared for just a few moments, and the table she had styled was just a collection of colourful Cath Kidston products and very disappointing. Where was the vintage tablecloth? Why was there no vintage china mixed in with the brand new Cath Kidston pieces? I can’t help thinking this was pure product placement – there were no new ideas or vintage finds to be seen, and the chrome bowls of crisps looked suspiciously like emergency and inappropriate space-filling props!

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Cath Kidston's 'inspirational' table settings

The message of this section seemed hazy, too. One minute, Kirstie was explaining that the table might seem random, but it was carefully put together and followed certain rules; Cath picked four colours from the plates – pink, blue, green and red – and reflected them across the rest of the tableware in the glasses, place mats, flowers and cutlery. Then, the next minute, Kirstie said Cath taught us to ‘forget all the rules – if you think it’s pretty, just do it.’ So, do we follow colour rules or not?

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The section in which Kirstie visited her parents’ palatial home ‘to reveal the inspiration that has shaped her take on interiors’ was bizarre and unnecessary – it was a cluttered stately home belonging to wealthy antique collectors, who had no need of thrift. Indeed, the only idea Kirstie could manage to take away with her was the notion of hanging decorative plates on walls – hardly ground-breaking, but at least her mother’s interior design business got a plug.

Finally, Kirstie had a go at making bespoke items – crafting a bowl on a potting wheel, turning a lump of glass into a beautiful tumbler, and sewing a very basic cushion using a sewing machine. These adventures were jolly, but seemed to be part of a different programme altogether really. There was a quick and quite random lesson in flower-arranging, then Kirstie finished the show by bagging some gems at knock-down prices when she bought antiques at her local market, and searched for freebies by ‘skip-diving’. Raving about the environmental benefits of re-using a mirror from a skip rather than buying a new one was all very well, but Kirstie was driving a huge gas-guzzling 4×4 Land Rover at the time, which rather undermined her eco message.

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WOW indeed – where did all this stuff come from!?

The end of the show was nothing short of a miracle. Suddenly the kitchen was transformed – an enormous AGA had appeared out of nowhere (there was no mention of a budget at any time!) as had several beautiful pieces of furniture which Kirstie briefly mentioned she ‘bought at auction’ and a few vintage armchairs she ‘had re-covered’. The kitchen looked OK, but there was no real sense of how it was created, or, more importantly, how much it all cost!

This show had some nice ideas floating around in it, but the programme makers tried to do too many things at once. The overall effect was a schizophrenic programme that flitted confusingly from one thing to another, without properly focussing on the original concept. It would have been much better to see Kirstie physically put together the room from scratch, instead of watching her blowing glass and visiting her parents’ house – we should have seen her bidding for the dresser, sewing the curtains (where did they appear from?!) and transforming second-hand pieces of furniture with paint and good old-fashioned elbow grease. – Ellie