It may be a grey and gloomy day but the new Autumn 2012 look book from Cox & Cox has arrived which is enough to lift anyone’s spirits (that, plus the fact that I’m off to sunny Croatia this week – yay!). Founders Fiona Cox and Lizzie Thornton-Allan have a great eye for practical and useful homewares. As a member of ‘generation rent’, I am often looking for ways to make my home more personal to me but I have to think carefully about what pieces to invest in as obviously I can’t rip out the kitchen, knock down walls or build fitted storage. So, it’s freestanding furniture all the way for me! Cox & Cox have some lovely offerings from their new collection that would do very nicely in a rented place. Here are 3 of my favourites…

French folding mirror, £75

The photography and styling is always so beautiful and gives me lots of ideas for displays around the house. I love this pretty mirror with folding shelf, it looks like a French flea market find. Perfect for the downstairs loo!

Vintage metal trolley, £145

This trolley on wheels would be great in my kitchen. Bread bin on top with wooden boards, filled Le Parfait jars on the middle shelf, vintage fruit crates on the bottom shelf for extra storage…

Wooden ladder shelf, £225

And finally, the ladder shelf. I’m looking for one for an alcove in my living room; a great substitute for fitted shelves and I love this natural unfinished wood that looks very coastal. If you’re also a Cox & Cox fan, keep an eye on their website later this month as there are tons of tempting buys. – Alice

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HOT SHOP: Flora Dora

June 15, 2011

I’ve stumbled across a real gem today. Flora Dora is a brand new mail order shop, selling previously unseen archive prints from the late textile designer Sheila Bownas, whose career stretched from the 1940s to the 1980s. Her wonderful 50s, 60s, and 70s designs are vibrant, colourful, gorgeous – and still very relevant today…

Sheila studied at Skipton Art School in 1941, then worked as a textile and wallpaper designer in London in the late 1950s and 1960s – during which time she painted wallpapers for the German firm ‘PW Bruck-Messel’. After a stint drawing botanical diagrams for the Natural History Museum, she returned to Yorkshire in later life and lived for many years in a cottage near Skipton, until her death in 2007. Sheila was a modest person and her relatives were amazed to find she had left behind a large collection of unseen patterns and paintings in a dusty drawer…

Two years ago, Rugby-based photographer, art gallery curator and mum-preneur, Chelsea Cefai, picked up the entire archive at an auction and, together with her husband, decided to share the designs with the world in a sympathetic way. Sheila’s family has been very involved with the whole process and, despite conversations with large companies such as Graham & Brown and Osborne & Little, the couple decided to keep things small-scale. Flora Dora was born.

There are 200 designs in the archive, but just two collections have been released so far, ‘1959’ and ‘1963’. This is a truly British venture; the cushion covers are sewn by Chelsea herself, the stunning art prints are produced in Birmingham, and the fabric is produced just 20m a time in a London workshop.

Got a vintage chair that needs re-covering? These fabrics are perfect! Mmmm, check out the ‘Loretta’ fabric on the Ercol studio couch.

Flora Dora also sells mid-century modern ceramics and retro tableware. Keep your eyes on the website; Chelsea tells me new collections will be released on a regular basis. I’m completely and utterly smitten. How wonderful to discover such a treasure trove stashed in a drawer. – Ellie

HOT SHOP: Yaginoyama

March 29, 2011

Yaginoyama is Japanese for ‘mountain of goats’. It’s also the name of a very lovely new mail order company, based in Tokyo…

Founders Liam and Kay (he’s British, she’s Japanese – they met at Edinburgh University and are both sickeningly young) say on their quirky website that we can choose whether Yaginoyama means ‘a mountain on which goats reside’ or ‘a mountain made out of goats’. I prefer the latter. This entrepreneurial duo have hand-picked beautiful Japanese home wares – often handmade by artisan crafts people – to create an online showcase of Japanese design and make it accessible to the wider world.

There are so many treasures, here, but I really love the elegant tableware by Ryuma Matsubara. He and his wife gather clay from construction sites in the town of Tokoname and blend it with sand to create rustic, beautiful pottery:

I also like the sets of  Six giant wooden ‘hum’ magnets, too, for organising creative ideas on various bits of paper! (They’re by design studio Graf). Pleasingly, ‘Hum-Hum’ means ‘Oh yes, I see‘ in Japanese and, according to Yaginoyama, implies ‘a bit of thoughtful chin-rubbing’.

Elsewhere, there are Japanese postcards, teas, rucksacks and satchels, stationery and soy sauce jugs…

Following the recent events in Japan, 10% of the price of every product purchased will go to the Japanese Red Cross Society. – Ellie

Cox and Cox: SUMMER 2011

February 7, 2011

So I’ve numbed my throbbing wisdom tooth pain with prescription painkillers and it’s time to take a five minute break from the never-ceasing-hamster-wheel AKA The Ship of Dreams. I’ll have a little gander at the lovely new Cox and Cox look book. Ok, so it’s A3, which means it doesn’t really fit into an A4 folder unless you fold it in half and crease all the pages, which is one of my Top Three OCD Pet Hates (along with books that aren’t sorted by colour – ongoing issue – and press releases with the subject line ‘SNEAKY PEAK’ instead of ‘PEEK’, thus implying some kind of secretive mountain…) – but, all is forgiven because the huge A3 Cox and Cox pictures are SO BEAUTIFUL. The bigger the better, as the actress said…

…enough of this drug-induced twaddle. Let’s look at what’s on offer. There are glass bell jars and elegant tin barn stars – remember Amish-chic? Le Trend De Puritan? You heard it here first. I know – the irony. They’d be LIVID. But they probably aren’t shallow enough to read a shopping blog…no offence, like…

I love these numbered cards – perfect for tables at a wedding reception , or just to sprinkle around your home in a decorative-yet-boyfriend-baffling way.

Keep your eyes peeled for graph-paper-patterned cotton ‘Doodle’ tablecloths you can draw on – presumably aimed at kids, granted, but I won’t tell if you won’t. Imagine the fun you could have…you could draw a chess board…you could play noughts and crosses surreptitiously under your napkin at boring dinner parties when friends-of-friends become intolerably dull droning on about politics or religion or whatnot and all you want to do is play Pictionary and get drunk…you could write nagging reminders to hopeless family members…you could even draw a plate and then put an actual plate on top of your plate picture. Like an invisible place mat. Crazy, I know. The possibilities are endless…

I particularly like these Japanese-print paper-wrapped votives – so pretty, even when your tealight’s not lit. I also like the delicate lace candle – made of wax with a sheet of antique lace embedded inside it, so when it’s lit, the pattern shows through – and the gorgeous Maroq garland…

Before I dash, there’s just time to sneak a PEEK at the best of the rest – including teeny-weeny Borrower-style cutlery napkin charms (get the look: raid the nearest dolls’ house) and the fabulous ‘Cheesy Feet’ pastry cutter. I kid you not. Over and out. – Ellie

After a lovely trip to Italy for a friend’s wedding, everything seems a bit boring today in comparison. Then this beautiful postcard from brand new mail order company Bottle Green Homes landed on my desk and cheered me up!

Oooh, I do like a vintage bottle. Or five. And there are lots of other lovely things from some of my favourite stockists on the Bottle Green Homes website too – have a look!

Nice photography from Jon Day. I’m busy compiling our Christmas gift guide today and gathering all the entrants for the Anglepoise lamp give-away – 6pm is the deadline, so now’s the time to enter if you haven’t already! I’ll announce the winner tomorrow. – Ellie