It’s not everyday you can walk into a shop and come out with a vintage jelly mould reinvented as a pendant lamp, a Mexican bingo set, moose shaped firelighters and a deckchair. But if you’re lucky enough to live near the market town, Corbridge in Northumberland, you can! (For those that don’t, you can of course buy online, phew!), Simon Young and Jenny Vaughan’s converted workshop (round the back of an old filling station) is a treasure trove of totally unique finds for the home. They named their shop RE after two giant metal red letters they bought in a Parisian flea market…

People, step inside and feast your eyes on these wonderful buys..

I would very much like these jolly, jelly mould pendant lamps. How lovely to hang a row of these above a kitchen table…

Vintage jelly mould pendant lamps, Re, jelly moulds, vintage, lighting, interiors, unique lighting, recycled, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys

Planning fodder for your Jubilee street party yet? Make sure you get yourself a set of these British Isles cookie cutters..

British Isles biscuit cutters, Re, cooking, bakeware, interiors, baking, british memorabilia, interiors, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys

Keep your teapot cosy with this cute pom-pom number, hand knitted in Northumberland..

Tea cosy, RE, knitted, artisan, homespun, interiors, kitchen ware, tea pot, tea, ideal home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys

This red, white and blue twine will come in handy for any Jubilee/Olympic crafty projects…

Red, white and blue cotton string, RE, The Queen's Jubilee, craft, twine, interiors, DIY, homespun, ideal home, homeshoppingpspy, alice humphrys

Elsewhere there are gorgeous linen cushions, inspired by American flour sacks…

Sack cushions, vintage flour packaging, vintage, rustic, sack cloth, cushions, soft furnishings, sack cloth cushions, RE, Ideal Home, homeshoppingspy, Alice Humphrys

original 50’s and 60’s mixing bowls in pretty on-trend pastel shades..

Vintage mixing bowls, RE, kitchenware, vintage, 50's, 60's, retro, kitchenalia, interiors, baking, ideal home, homeshoppingpsy, RE, re-found objects, alice humphrys

and this ‘waste not want not’ fabric is sold off the roll, for £16 a metre. It’s 44cm wide perfect for a table runner. GREAT idea..

Table runner, RE, waste not want not, linen, kitchen linen, table linen, Ideal Home, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys

Thank goodness it’s March! Spring had sprung and I’ve just bought 4 bunches of daffodils for £1 in my lunch break – hurrah! They’re currently bunged in a vase and just about surviving in our air conditioned office but what I’d really like to display them in is this…

Test tube holder, RE, vase, flower display, single blooms, Spring flowers, floral display, flowers, ideal home, RE, homeshoppingspy, alice humphrys

A test tube for each single stem. Ah Joy! Thank you RE. Delightful finds and next time I’m even vaguely heading oop north I’m going to take a detour and pop by. – Alice


Bookish? Like typewriters? Wordy? Me too.

The Literary Gift Company is a fabulous mail-order company selling everything and anything book-related. There are tea towels and bags, mugs and badges…there’s jewellery, stationery – it’s a treasure trove and no mistake. A great place to buy gifts for others or, cough, for oneself. I love the Mills and Boon paper confetti (the hearts above) which you could throw at a literary wedding or sprinkle on your table for a dinner party – what a conversation-starter.

After yesterday’s post about tape, I’ve got a bit of a thing for the Virginia Woolf tape above – it’s £3.99 for 60m, and there’s also some tasty alphabet tape. Have a peep. – Ellie

Bethan and I have just got back from a fantastic trip to Lille in France, where we spent many happy hours browsing La Braderie – a massive, annual flea market. We were lucky enough to be practically teleported from London to Lille in just over an hour on the wonderful Eurostar – one minute, we were enjoying breakfast at St Pancras – the next moment we found ourselves standing in Lille town centre, clutching a map and some shopping bags ready for loot.

la braderie1To begin with, I confess, we had a few map issues. Both of us are a bit ‘geographically challenged’, so we spent a while aimlessly wandering through the outskirts of the market, searching in vain for bric-a-brac. This area of the market was NOT very vintage – think pan pipe CDs, dodgy trainers, manky old nail varnishes, racks of velour tracksuits, smelly hot dog vans etc. Finally, we scraped together enough French (ish) to communicate with a local and were soon directed to the heart of the Braderie. We found ourselves surrounded by beautiful Brocante, and realised we were in Flea Market Heaven.

la braderie2We kicked off proceedings in the ancient Citadelle, which was full of vintage books, magazines and postcards. I bought a pretty French novel for styling purposes only (my A-Level French is a dim and distant memory!) and Bethan stocked up on gorgeous postcards covered in elegant handwriting. We spent ages admiring some printers’ blocks and found some wicked old hairdressing chairs.

la braderie3There were so many hundreds of wonderful things, it’s impossible to record, or even remember, them all! There was a lot of taxidermy – interesting, but gross – and we saw lots of lovely rustic wooden wine carriers and old metal watering cans. A gigantic chemist’s chest of drawers caught our eye, and we wished we had a van to transport a lovely cast iron bath back to the UK!

la braderie4

la braderie6Lunch at La Braderie is a civilised affair – all the restaurants serve moules frites, then collect the shells in massive piles on the pavements and compete to see who has sold the most. We had a delicious meal, a cheeky glass of wine each, admired our purchases, and then headed back into the throng for more bargaining.

la braderie5We each found some real gems. Bethan had her eyes peeled for a vintage, white bird cage – luckily, she struck gold and found the perfect one. I bought a galvanised wire log basket, and a 1930s clock. But the best buys of the day were two funky 1950s French learn-to-spell school tableaus, with retro lettering.

tableau1They were a pair, so we negotiated a deal with the stall holder and bought one each for 10 Euros. Bargainacious. By the time we were back on the luxurious Eurostar, we were completely shattered, but happily laden with vintage treasures. We’re already planning next September’s trip…  – Ellie

Emily Peacock cushions

May 19, 2009

Check out these lovely designs from cross-stitch craft queen Emily Peacock – follow the instructions in her cute kits to create these fantastic tapestries, then sew them into cushions.

kiss and hug

I spoke to Emily this morning, and she revealed she’s working on some new designs – so watch this space! Have a look at her retro rock chic patterns, too:

Pillows005shad-1

Pillows007shad

The great thing about cross-stitch is that once you get the hang of it, you can just do it while you watch TV…my kinda hobby! – 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.

7 candles

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!

candles

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

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.

picture-31

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!

picture-9

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?

kirsties-homemade-home-5-lg

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.

picture-11

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

 

Make do and mend

March 11, 2009

I’ve been writing a feature about thrifty craft for Ideal Home this week, and got sent this fabulous little book called Make Do and Mend. It’s a reproduction of a wartime Ministry of Information leaflet, first published in 1943.

make-do-and-mendIt’s packed full of great advice, a lot of which is still relevant today, particularly the cleaning sections. I love the way it’s written – from an article about banishing the ‘moth menace’ to a classic tip about using the tops of old woollen stockings to make ‘cosy underpants for a small boy’ – it’s wonderful!

Look out for our thrifty craft feature in the July issue of Ideal Home. – Ellie