NEW Livingetc blog

September 1, 2010

Check out the new blog Life.Style.etc, from the team at Livingetc magazine. It’s a gallimaufry of design inspiration – an online record of all the weird and wonderful things that inspire and delight the design addicts on the Livingetc team. Categories include art, exhibitions, TV and film, street style – anything goes…

Intrigued? Looking for an original way to store your All Star pumps? Fancy a visual feast to accompany your lunch? Pay Life.Style.etc a visit. – Ellie

Welsh dresser UPDATE

May 2, 2010

Every week, readers write to Ideal Home wanting tips on how to make dated but well-loved (often inherited) pieces of furniture work in their modern, re-decorated homes. Well, here’s a fantastic idea from House to Home for giving an old Welsh dresser a new lease of life…

No sanding down, no painting – the original character of the dresser remains intact, but some funky geometric wallpaper (from Brunschwug & Fils) behind the shelves instantly updates this piece for 2010. It looks positively fabulous here in a funky home office. And HOW much do I want a FLAP analogue clock…? A LOT! – Ellie

Feeling all-white

January 16, 2010

New White Company collection ahoy! Mmmm, feast your eyes on these luxurious, lovely, light rooms. These are so beautiful, I’m breaking the habit of a lifetime and posting on a Saturday!!

I love the ceiling/roof in this bedroom – and there’s something so decadent about just having your mattress on the floor like this. I could happily while away a few hours reading the weekend newspapers in this gorgeous house!

Lovely neutral bed linen here – and note the little ceramic sparrow on the bedside table – TREND alert! Perching sparrow birds are EVERYWHERE this season. This one looks like he’s from Comfort Station or Caravan to me.

This location house (owned by photographer Paul Massey) seems to be in every magazine or catalogue I open at the moment, and has been on lots of blogs recently, too. It’s very lovely.

Cow hide rugs… yay or nay? They’re very popular at the moment, but I’m just not sure about them myself. What do you think? I love this kitchen shot – you can’t go wrong with white brick-style tiles:

I really like these rustic wooden bowls – sometimes the simplest things are the nicest. – Ellie

There are few books in the world as lovely as this. According to the blurb, reading it is ‘like opening Pandora’s box’, or delving into ‘Darwin’s cabinet of curiosities’. Both of these claims are true – Etcetera is the biblio equivalent of pottering around a junk shop you’ve stumbled across in a back alley of Paris – there’s so much to see, and so much to inspire. Court is a creative curator with a magpie eye – her home and styled shots reflect her passion for colour, texture and fascinating ‘objets’. She’s like a magical chef, throwing together unexpected and wonderful ingredients from the past and the present to create beautiful interiors where every object tells a story. And her penchant for all things Natural-History-related is oh-so-NOW…

I could wax lyrical about the typography and design – the old typewriter-style fonts, the gorgeous transparent vellum paper pages that are utterly decadent – but this is the kind of book you have to see for yourself and hold in your hands to fully appreciate.

Postcards, letters, tickets – Court refers to herself as a ‘keeper of collections, or a bowerbird’ (a quick Google-search reveals this is a black crow-like bird, probably the Aussie equivalent of a Magpie!) – and her extensive stash of ephemera is evidence of her hoarding nature. It’s all so beautifully presented. But you wouldn’t want to be her cleaner!

Among the interior shots, there are pages of to-die-for paint swatches (Court is a part-time colour consultant for Murobond Paints in Australia) with enticing titles such as ‘Tales of a Sea Gypsy’ and ‘Travellers and Magicians’. One paint colour is called ‘Moustache’. What’s not to love?

Etcetera is out in Australia and the USA already and it’s due to be published in April by Murdoch Books here in the UK, with a £20 price tag. The good news is, the April issue of Living Etc magazine (out in March) will have a cover-mounted extract from the book, so we can all get our hands on a slice of the pie before the publication date. Until then, here are a few more gorgeous pics to whet your appetite…because I just can’t resist! – Ellie

Fairy tale time

October 26, 2009

Folklore, magic and homespun charm – flicking through the latest images in the lovely House to Home galleries today, I stumbled upon this gorgeous bedroom. It could be a room inside Snow White’s cottage, and sums up nicely the current vogue for fairy tales and all things folk.

BedroomAfter spying hundreds of toadstools and owls last week at the lovely Anthropologie, I’m getting quite into this trend now. Colourful patchwork, ribbons, pom poms and homemade, knitted accessories – it’s really growing on me! Note how the plastic squirrel, which in any other setting would look tacky, looks cool here. The magic of styling! – Ellie

100%Design – ones to watch

September 25, 2009

A breath of fresh air – I came back from the 100%Design show at Earls Court yesterday buzzing with positivity. It was a better show than last year in my opinion, largely due to the fact that the 100%Futures area was packed full of graduate designers, fresh from college, exhibiting for the first time and bursting with new ideas and enthusiasm. Their energy is highly contagious – just talking to them for a whole day made me feel creative! It’s impossible to mention everything I saw, but here are some people who stood out, and who are definitely going to become big names over the next few years.

transformer-collection1Firstly, I spoke to Chun Wei Liao, who grew up surrounded by his family’s cardboard packaging business and today uses paper and cardboard to create stunning lampshades. They come flat-packed and are very easy to construct – you can move the prisms to create any effect you fancy, and you can even spray or decorate the shades for a bespoke look. They looked so beautiful hanging up – and of course they’re eco-friendly as well as lovely.


Another young designer well worth a mention is John Green, a cheerful product designer from York, whose work really impressed me. Having graduated from York St John University, he’s now working on products in collaboration with Snow Home. His elegant plywood coffee table caught my eye – it’s basically two tables that slot together, so they can be used separately, or together for a storage shelf. Simple, stylish and clever.

john greenJohn Green also designs and makes funky flat plywood stag heads, which he screen-prints on to by hand. The graphic, pixelated deer faces look weirdly 3D from a distance and since antlers are all the rage at the moment, these quirky heads are bound to be popular.

john green antler

Textiles trio Print, Tuft and Fold was another highlight. Zoe Beck, Claire Alderdice and Kim Bassett are all graduates of Chelsea College of Art and Design and although their work is varied, it sits so nicely together that it looked great on a shared stall.

print tuft fold

Zoe Beck designs and makes brightly-coloured cushions and lampshades with urban prints and was showing her new London cab design, which I really liked. Claire Alderdice’s bold rugs and carpets were gorgeous, too, and Kim Bassett’s folded fabrics that are based on Origami techniques, equally beautiful.

print tuft and foldYoung furniture designer Charlie Davidson gave his metal mesh chair a very catchy name. It’s called: ‘Is this the coolest chair ever made?’ Check out the picture below and see what you think!

charlie davidsonAmidst all the inspiring graduate work, there were several names we know and love show-casing fresh designs. Selina Rose, who’s enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame in the interiors world over the past few years for her delicate cut felt items, had her own stand for the first time and showed her new ‘Cut and Fold’ felt wall-covering, which was really effective. You can create your own patterns in the felt by folding as many flaps as you want, so it’s a kind of interactive wall fabric.

Picture 4Elsewhere, Rachel Dormor was exhibiting her beautiful rippled ceramics – they’re so tactile and simple, they look as if they’re natural objects. I particularly like her elegant colanders.

inthekilnWhile I was in the mood for ceramics, I popped over for a chat with Kaoru Parry and to admire her pretty china teacups. Since launching Welovekaoru last year, her cups have been featured in a host of design magazines and are now stocked in Liberty. I think they’re gorgeous!

welovekaoruI also popped to the Paperboy Wallpaper stand to see some lovely new wallpapers designed especially for boys. I love the ‘Dya-think-e-saurus’ design, and the ‘Animal Magic’ one with skeletons on animals, but my favourite is the new design, ‘Hand Made’ with funky hand shadow shapes.

paperboy2paperboy wallpaperAll-in-all it was a very exciting and energising show with so many interesting designs to check out. And then, to top off a great day, I spent the evening chatting to Sir Terence Conran – oooooh, there’s nothing like a good name-drop for a Friday afternoon! More about that on Monday… have a lovely weekend. – Ellie

BIRD STRIKE: Owl-tastic

September 2, 2009

Slowly, but surely, they’ve been creeping into our homes. One by one. At first, there were just a few. There were rumours of glimpses…sightings…murmurs…myths…the occasional talon print seen fading in the carpet pile – but nobody really noticed. Then, we heard the soft rustle of feathers on the breeze…and sometimes a distant: ‘twit twooo’ – so quiet you could have imagined it. But they were there. And breeding. Their numbers grew day by day. And now it’s too late…the owls are OUT.

Picture 3Owls have been a fave with crafters for years and as such have a thriving population over at Etsy (see above), but they’ve had a makeover and gone mainstream this season. Like most random trends, this one was born in the world of fashion (if you’re interested in the likes of Jessica Alba wearing an owl necklace, yawn, you can read about fashionista owls here, or bag yourself an owl handbag at Topshop, or even some yummy owl socks…) but now the little feathered critters are ruling the roost and they’re nesting in our living rooms, too. Owls are sprinkled all over the pages of the new October issue of Living Etc magazine. Now, I’d like to emphasise that I’m not a complete geek, but I counted at least five owls including glass ones from Ittala, a blue ceramic one from Aldo Landi for Bitossi at SCP and a paper one from Muji (just £3.95!)


owls2Owls were trendy back in the 1970s…think small, creepy, wooden ornaments on your granny’s mantelpiece or manic, bug-eyed Girl-Guide-style brown owls for kids. Not very cool. In fact, in the 1970s, owls looked like this little fella. Thankfully, the owls of the Noughties are a bit more classy. Well, sometimes. Check out the lovely wall stickers from Rockett St George below:

Picture 4All very nice. But if you look at the selection below, all from ultra-cool American shop, Anthropologie, alarm bells start to ring. An owl light switch surround…an owl door stop…an owl lamp…oh dear. A trio of small cartoon owl sake pots anyone…?

anthropologieEven Urban Outfitters has a few dodgy owl-wares on offer. Try as I might, I just can’t get excited about an owl jug. Even in green. SIGH.

urban outfittersI can’t help but dislike owls generally. They look cute in pictures but in reality, they’re a bit spooky. It might be their bushy eyebrows. Possibly their beady little evil eyes. Or maybe their tufty ears. Something about them bothers me, but there’s no sign of this trend slowing down – there are owl designs littering the high street shops now (even my beloved Paperchase sells an owl gift bag) and I can’t help but suspect they’re taking over…you heard it hear first. Twit Twoooooo.  – Ellie


I’m a huge fan of the lovely new Living Etc paint collection, launched this summer. It’s a beautiful, contemporary palette, with some fantastic colours. And check out their fabulous names!

Picture 6Pavement, Spire, St Paul’s, Rush Hour, Statue, Siren, Wharf – these words instantly conjure up a fast-paced, urban, London mood – it’s basically a list of everything I see or hear on my daily commute to the IPC Media offices! There are also a few telling lifestyle references which are oh-so-London… note: Chai (not Builder’s or PG), Plimsoll (presumably the white retro Converse variety favoured by graphic designers and creative city types, rather than the manky black Woolworths pumps you wore for PE) and Paperback (no doubt a stylist’s vintage Penguin Classic, not a dog-eared Danielle Steel).

I’ve always been fascinated by paint colour names. Who makes them up? How do they choose them? And, more importantly, please can I have a go?! According to the press office, Dulux has a panel of experts who meet regularly to decide what new colours should be called, brain-storming to come up with names such as Wellbeing and Babe, while Crown thought up Prom Night, Cheeky Wink, Lunch Date and – my personal favourite – Celebrity, a deep, fake-tan orange.


Our friends at Farrow & Ball have got the right idea with names such as Dead Salmon, Pigeon, Arsenic, Cat’s Paw, and Mouse’s Back. They’re quirky, but at least they all convey the colours exactly (let’s ignore the fact that Elephant’s Breath doesn’t strictly speaking HAVE a colour because I love F&B and will forgive them on principle). Much better than The Little Greene Paint Company‘s random collection: Boo, Button, Peep, Jack-in-a-Box, Mischief, Julie’s Dream, Attic II, Clockface (not to be confused with another shade, Clockwise) and, perhaps the most mysteriously-named paint of all time, Three Legs. It’s impossible to work out what kind of colours these are from the names alone, which all seems rather silly. But, I suppose there are only so many names one can reasonably think of for ‘dark green’ and repetition is a definite no no. Click here to play an online game to see if you CAN work out what colour a paint is, just from it’s name. I scored 5/10, so it shouldn’t be too hard to beat me!


Lots of paint is named after food. While I find colours such as Crown‘s Choc Chip, Frothy Coffee, Tiramisu, Rum and Raisin, and Cocoa easy to stomach, I’m fairly certain I’d have some sort of allergic reaction in a room painted in Behr‘s Parmesan paint or, even worse, Benjamin Moore‘s Nacho Cheese. I’m not winding you up – this is a real paint name! Although, in their defence, this nauseating shade is such a hideous orangey-yellow that there really is no better way to describe it.

nacho cheese paint copy

I’ve just painted my kitchen in a soft grey-green Crown colour called Crochet, which is definitely a paint name that bears no relevance to the actual colour it’s supposed to convey – but it’s so GORGEOUS, changing in different lights and providing a restful, calm atmosphere, that it could be called Celery, Janet, Bob Sleigh or Manicure and I really wouldn’t give a damn. ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…’ – Ellie