Eee by gum, our first ‘Book of the Week’ for 2011 is a real stunner. Packed full of beautiful photographs and printed on expensive-looking thick paper, it’s written by two Norwegian stylists: Ellen Dyrop and Hanna Kristinsdottir, and out on February 7th. Rediscovered Treasures: A New Life for Old Objects is an absolute treat from beginning to end. And it goes a little something like this…

This beautiful book shows you how to transform old curios into shabby-chic homewares for every room of the house…so start collecting cutlery, biscuit tins and the like, and stock up on super-glue:

I like the idea of using stencils to update old tableware – ‘CARPE DIEM’ in an Emma-Bridgewater-esque font scrawled across a vintage metal teapot filled with fresh flowers– what could be more pleasing?

It’s got a step-by-step ‘how to’ section at the back, with stencils to trace and a useful list of shops you might need, too. It’s out on February 7th, but you can pre-order it on Amazon now for under a tenner. – Ellie

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Sunbury Antiques sesh

December 7, 2010

To quote Ariel (no, not The Tempest. The Little Mermaid. No, not Hans Christian Andersen. Disney. Groan.) “I’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty, I’ve got whozits and whatzits galore. You want thingamabobs? I got twenty. But who cares? No big deal. I want mooooooore.” Although the similarities pretty much end there – I don’t have a tail, red hair or a shell bikini, alas – when confronted with Vintage Tat, much like the dear Ariel, I can’t help myself. (What AM I on about!?) Anyway. I went to Sunbury Antiques market at Kempton Park last week and, despite the snow, it was wonderful, with whozits and whatzits galore…

There’s no rhyme or reason to this post. It’s just a bunch of photos I took on my iPhone. So log off now if flea markets ain’t your thang! I saw: Victorian ‘poison’ bottles for £3, beautiful old bicycles, suitcases, sewing machines and scissors…

Only the hardcore (AKA insane) shoppers were out as the temperature plummeted and snow started to fall. I spotted: a kitsch framed Tretchikoff print, a beautiful old Struwwelpeter book (shame it was getting snowed on and wet!), pretty vintage baking trays, industrial-style filing cabinets, a 1950s teapot, and a shopper who had clearly been out in the cold for a bit too long…

I lusted after: these lovely ceramic pots for toothpaste, anchovy paste, and cold cream…

I saw: religious statues, old advertising signs, frozen Victorian glass bell jars, macabre taxidermy, and some crazy stall holders…

I loved: vintage cutlery, lab flasks and scientific equipment, and bee hives…

I chuckled: when I saw this not-very-politically-correct children’s book:

I wanted: to buy all of the bell jars and stock up on spindles. But WHY?! Indeed. Dear reader, I resisted.

I liked: statues of Jesus, pots for ‘Sainsbury’s Bloater Paste’ – eurgh! Made of fish apparently – globes and antlers and medicine bottles and a table covered with a map and chandeliers and vintage magazines and barn stars and bones. Phew! Although I wouldn’t want a skeleton in my cupboard…

I admired: stacks of old leather suitcases dusted with snow…

I bought: two mirrors (not shown because they’re huge!) and…

…a book called ‘British Earthworms And How To Identify Them’ (hours of fun), a Ridgway Homemaker saucer to add to my collection, an old ruler, some glass bottles, some potted meat pots (for Christmas homemade paté gifts), a ‘Bloater paste’ pot to use as a tea light votive and an American toothpaste pot prescribed by a ‘Dr Cofein’. Which sounds a bit like coffin. Not the best name for a doctor! – Ellie

It launches a week today, but we’ve tracked down the spring/summer H&M Home collection to bring you an exclusive preview! It’s really cheered me up on this grey November day…

Check. Out. This. Bed linen. The colours are so gorgeous, I had to pop to the Dulux website to create a matching springtime palette. Delicious. This colour combo reminds me of Mulberry’s Sobrani design – see the H&M cushion bottom right and the Mulberry one bottom left! (FYI: The H&M one is £2.99. The Mulberry one is £100.)

Elsewhere in this collection, there are doormats…

Beautiful bed linen sets…

Cute botancial and zigzag cushions…

Towels and bath mats with a vintage look…

Fun vegetable table runners and tea towels (perhaps it’s because of my new allotment, but these have got me VERY excited!)…

And lots of other lovely little things such as storage containers, tea-themed and floral tea towels and vintage-style table runners to die for…

Eee by gum, there’s nowt like a new collection. On Tuesday, we checked out the new Oxford Street H&M Home store (at 174 Oxford Street if you’re in London) – well worth a visit. The system in-store is a bit like Argos – you collect little magnetic photos of the products you want as you go round the store, and stick them to a magnetic board (your shopping trolley) then collect your goods at the till when you pay. Genius! – Ellie





Flea market finds

September 7, 2010

Last weekend my vintage-geek friends and I put on our flattest most comfortable pumps, grabbed our swag bags and hopped on the speedy Eurostar for our annual pilgrimage to Lille in France for La Braderie – the mama of all flea markets. The vintage shopping was better than ever, and we haggled for some brilliant bargains at the stalls…

I loved these vintage milk churns (sadly too heavy and bulky to carry home) and spent a lot of time leafing through old books and magazines. I’ve never seen so many broken but GORGEOUS old alarm clocks – perfect for styling purposes, but purely ornamental!

I couldn’t resist this little bird vase – such pretty colours.

If you have a craving for a vintage tin, there are about six billion to choose from on the cobbled streets!

I had to be dragged away from this very cool vintage Louis Vuitton suitcase complete with lovely luggage labels and stickers. SIGH. At 300 Euros (presumably because it’s a genuine LV) it was a bit out of my price range sadly, but I can always get the look with the Cavallini reproduction luggage sticker set from Papernation!

There was so much beautiful brocante, I thought I would burst with joy!

Needless to say, we sampled the moules frites and vin blanc at lunchtime and watched the piles of shells start to grow…

I picked up a few gems along the way. One of my favourite finds was this huge metre-long 1950s French school biology poster about ‘les insectivores’. I am still trying to explain science-lab-chic to the boyfriend, but I framed this and put it up on the wall last night and he didn’t seem to notice it. So far, so good. It was only four Euros!

I also picked up a massive two metre university biology wall hanging – hand painted and very cool. I thought it was possibly coral. But then I got my dictionary out and found out it’s a bacteria of some sort! It’s going to hang in our dining room eventually:

I love the way it’s been so painstakingly labelled using stencils and ink, then somebody at a later date has just scribbled out one of the words and amended it in marker pen!

I also bought this cute china ‘Confiture’ jar, which I will fill next time I make jam, then give to somebody at Christmas. All in all, I left Lille feeling as though I could quite happily spend a week mooching around, bartering in Fr-anglais, admiring tat. In a day we probably only covered a quarter of the rues we intended to! But we kept getting distracted by vintage treasure! – Ellie

Pretty, pretty peonies

May 24, 2010

It’s Monday, it’s HOT, and my sexy new sandals have already given me a blister the size of a golf ball. How very GLAM. It’s too hot here to do anything really except sit back and drink in a load of lovely pictures – here are some to quench your thirst for loveliness…

This is a shot from Debbie Bliss‘s gorgeous new craft book, The Knitter’s Year (£18.99, Quadrille) – well worth a peep.

And here are some gorgeous pictures from Ideal Home‘s sister site, House to Home. Oh, to be gathering fresh peonies in the sunshine, today! Perhaps though, what with my blister and sunburnt nose and all, it’s just as well I’m not…sigh.

On a scale of one to ten, (one being not-at-all-excited, and ten being about-to-lit-er-ally-pop-with-excitement), how excited do you think I was when I spotted this stunning vintage Chinese Peony tea tin in an otherwise bleak junk shop at the weekend for less than a fiver? Erm, yes. Ten. Of course, then I had to treat myself to an actual peony at the florist’s – for important work-related styling purposes:

Our stunning new July issue has just appeared in the office and, appropriately, the cover is a lovely rich raspberry/peony pink – beautiful! Now, where’s that Elastoplast…– Ellie

Detling Antiques Fair

March 2, 2010

You sacrifice your lie-in and get up at crack of dawn in the dark. You lug around bags of heavy coins. You have to endure cold wellies, freezing fingerless gloves and muddy burger-van coffee. And let’s face it, it’ll probably rain. But bargain hunting at an antiques fair is well worth the effort if you want to pick up some quirky one-off items to make your home look extra special…

At Detling IACF over the weekend I spotted so many lovely things. Check out these gorgeous vintage sewing storage drawers (sadly a bit out of my price range!) and pretty ceramic lids for tooth paste and anchovy paste. How amazing would the sewing drawers look in a craft room? And the lids would make cute coasters…

Haberdashery fans beware: there was a great range of vintage fabrics, old buttons, lace and needlework tools. I bought a delicate tape measure for styling purposes (it only has inches on it!) and some pretty buttons to add to my collection.

There were plenty of wooden printer’s blocks, and lots of elegant bottles and jars, and I spotted a beautiful vintage paint-box. I was really impressed by the range of stalls (although in addition to the vintage stalls there were a lot of traders selling collectable china dolls, lobsters, Disney characters etc which weren’t really my thang) and it only took an hour to get to Detling from London by car. I came home with: a pair of wonky antlers, some Observers books, a bag of pretty stamps (for craft purposes!), some buttons, and an old milk bottle with ELBOW FARM written on it to use as a vase. The boyfriend was delighted as always (NOT) with the latest batch of vintage tat, but I managed to smuggle most of it in except for the antlers. He just doesn’t GET it. I showed him the antlers trend page in the March issue of Ideal Home, and pointed out that antlers are everywhere now, even in high-street shops he’s heard of like M&S:

But he still doesn’t seem to appreciate One-Horn-Big, and says he’s not living in ‘a trophy-filled hunting lodge’. We’ll see. Remember, he said he wasn’t going to live in ‘a 1950s flipping village fete’ but that Union Jack bunting’s been up for almost a year now… – Ellie

HOT SHOP: Bhs

February 26, 2010

Bhs has been producing fabulous home accessories for a while now, but I think the new summer range is the best yet. Check out the Bohemia collection – all very pretty and feminine:

I’ve always wanted a bedroom with a door onto the garden like this…so airy in the summer. Love the shell pendant light fitting, too…

Turquoise, hot pink and bright yellow – what a fabulous combination of zingy colours! It’s a mix we were chatting about earlier today actually, in a live interiors surgery for the Times Online.

Cute towels here with a birdy theme (see more about Garden Birds in the May issue of Ideal Home!)…and what a crisp, beautiful bathroom. Shots like this make me want to paint everything in my house white and just have colourful accessories. Sigh.

Sweet appliqué cushions here – and a fabulous butterfly rug!! I’m sure we’ve admired the wallpaper collage in this location house before, but isn’t it lovely? I knew there was a reason for my obsessive stash of wallpaper samples! Have a lovely weekend. I’m off to an antiques fair in Detling, so I’ll be sniffing out beautiful things for my home and sorting through the weird and wonderful, too. I’ll take some pics for Monday. I can feel a photo-montage coming on already… –Ellie