Unique & Handmade

I think you are all aware now that I like to find those special one of kind companies to shout about, ones that hold dear to what I believe in, how I like to shop and that I love to recommend to the similarly minded folk who are my readers.

I have recently been introduced to Emma & Louise. This on line store is exactly what I have just been talking about. Bringing an inspirational collection of carefully selected hand crafted objects for the home and selected fashion accessories, all made in the UK by talented female designers and craftswomen.  From jewellery to storage, throws to handbags, tableware to stationery, every item loving created to bring an extra dimension for you and your home to cherish.

This wonderfully unique store is based on creativity, the creativity of women who’s beautiful hand crafted original pieces fill the site offering distinctive gifts that should enrich your homes.  Each craftswoman has her own unique identity but each one supportive of the other, together in one authentic marketplace.

Emma & Louise is passionate about creating a true community of talented artisans.  Each product you will find in the store has a story, the details behind the maker and the inspiration behind the items crafted, making each piece unique and personal, not something mass marketed and soul-less.  I love the thought, when I reach for my mug to make coffee first thing in the morning, of the hands that have sculpted this wonderful piece of clay into the vessel I cherish drinking from each day, or the candle that I light on an evening giving off its distinctive scent and who loving poured the wax into each glass jar.

The beautiful pieces featured in my post today conjured up winter for me.  The simple pleasures of these colder months to make a pot of tea, serve it in a hand made ceramic mug, place it all on a serving board, light the heavenly scented candle and curl up with a book whiling away a happy hour in sheer contentment.  Taking the time to appreciate each piece, the tactile nature of the cup in your hand, the smoothness of the wood and the intoxicating aroma of the candle.  All simple pleasures that need to be enjoyed.

I’ve been a fan of Join for some time, made in small batches in a garden studio in East London.  Pebble is an intoxicating candle a blend of bergamot and black pepper, inspired by childhood memories of skimming stones on a Cornish beach.  I simply love the masculine aroma it exudes, my favourite kind.

I am so pleased I found Pottery West on Emma & Louise, ceramics being a weakness of mine. These guys make the most exquisite pieces, small batch and wheel thrown with an emphasis on simple, ergonomic form and tactile functional glazes.  Their sheer earthiness is stunning, the Brut pourer and large Brut mug are now used every day and bring a smile of joy.

One can never have too many wooden boards, they are eternally useful for many things, this walnut serving board is no exception.  Made from a single piece of walnut hand carved by Rosie Brewer in Devon.  Each board is different, carved and sized by hand making it even more special when placed as a centre piece on your table.

I do hope that you can find the time to explore this truly unique store, helping you find that perfect gift or treat for yourself and to find out a little bit behind the women who make these simply authentic hand made pieces for you and your home.

Jx

  • With thanks to Emma & Louise who provided the items for this post

 

Cabin Escapes

Winter mood, makes me turn to all my wonderful interior books that are filled with homes that encapsulate the cabin vibe, Scandinavian style at its cosiest.  This time of year makes me want to disappear into the woods to my fictional cabin and weather out these darker months before Spring returns in a cocooned state of happiness.

I wonder if like me you feel exactly the same, piling up the blankets and throws, snuggling up in your chunky knit jumpers and warmest slippers creating that little bit of cabin style in your own home.  So settle yourself down and dream with me. Bring on all the wood, texture, sheepskins, blankets, tactile concrete, picture windows with cushion-strewn seats and the obligatory log burner with neatly stacked log pile.

Simple pleasures of a layered bed to sleep in, a warm inviting bathroom to thaw out in after being outside in the forest, the squishiest sofa to curl up in with a warming mug of hot chocolate to indulge in and more wood, more and more!

The best publications to give you that cabin high and ones that I turn to at this time of year are Elle Decoration Country and The Scandinavian Home by Niki Brantmark,  let’s escape together.

Jx

Images ~ 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 & 11

 

January Skies

 

Well here we are January and I’m sat typing this still in holiday mode watching the rain pouring down outside and I have the lights on in the middle of the morning!    That said I quite like the feeling of hunkering down, laying low for a while gathering my thoughts not running head long into the year at a fast pace with a list as long as my arm of things I know I couldn’t possibly achieve.  I am a go slow kind of person, always have been but I get there in the end.  So no resolutions for me just keeping up with what I have been doing and improving on that.  Now that the Christmas decorations are packed away for another year I like the feeling of space and will take the time to stop and look around to fully appreciate all the wonderful things I have in my life and have achieved over the last year.

I find this month one of true reflection and self care.  I have planned to get outside more than ever this year, it truly helps clear ones head along with my morning swim.  I do pretty well on looking after myself, I make time on an evening to have a soak in the bath but this year I am definitely going to invest more in invigorating potions to add to the water, one of my favourite places to go is Magic Organic Apothecary, these guys really know how to self care the natural way.  Once out of the steamy bath I like nothing more than to wrap myself up in a luxurious gown and  Toast do the best ones around, one of my gifts this year was a Kimono style gown that I could honestly live in!  I adore anything from Aesop and have gradually over time added most of their products to my bathroom cabinet, a soothing face mask rejuvenates the skin especially at this time of year when you can feel a little sluggish.

Another great thing about the darker days is being able to curl up with a good book, wrapped up in blankets to lose yourself for a while.  Take the time to enjoy that pot of tea rather than drinking it on the go, things can wait. Nothing is more important than looking after yourself and one of the most beneficial things we can do is sleep, so after lingering over that cup of tea, taking a soak in the tub and wrapping yourself up in your linen gown, climb under the duvet and let your body rest, no phone, no laptop just pure sleep.  What are these darker days for if we can’t take time out to properly look after ourselves when the sun goes down.

I do hope that you are taking time out too to slow down and enjoy these winter days, simple and still is most certainly the way to do it.

Jx

 

 

 

Bringing in the New Year

Just popping in to wish you all a glitter filled New Year.  I hope that Christmas was magical and that New Years Eve will be a sparkly champagne fuelled affair.

Enjoy whatever you are up to, I will of course raise a glass to each and everyone of you and look forward to bringing you more interior joy in 2018 but for now I am signing off for the last time this year, happy and content.

Happy New Year

Jx

(Images via pinterest)

Sideboard Sparkle with Out There Interiors

I do love a bit of bling at this time of year, no need to go over the top but a few subtle touches makes all the difference.  I know it is a bit of a diversion from my usual monochrome paired back hues but it is Christmas after all and who can resist a white ceramic pineapple!

Let me introduce you to Out There Interiors, the place to go to get the Christmas look that you are after, be it colour coordinated accessories, retro glam or Nordic chic this on line store has it all.  Their easy to use site guides you to everything you need without the fuss.  You can find that perfect drinks cabinet and ultra stylish champagne glasses to the softest lambskin throws and luxurious cushions to create a cosy corner for these chilly winter days.

I thought I’d add a bit of glamour to my sideboard this year, a few little touches to create a subtle vignette of cool.  Whites with a hint of brass makes quite a statement on my white sideboard and dark blue walls.  The wonderful Too Glam to Give a Damn sign sums me up perfectly and one can never have too many candle holders, these perfect wire conical ones will look fabulous on my Christmas dining table on the big day.  I like creating different heights when it comes to grouping candles so these are an added bonus to my ever growing collection.  Nothing beats candle light at this time of year, creating all the magical sparkle within it’s flames.

It’s definitely not too late to get those last minute interior accessories to make your home even more homely and inviting than it already is, like I said at the beginning of the post who can resist a white ceramic pineapple!

Jx

Lighting the Way with Kovac Family

My passion for simple design is growing constantly along with sourcing brands that hold sustainability within their hands to create wonderful products that move forward with technology but keeping their integrity and ethos focused on the environment around them.

I can’t deny that I have been an admirer of Kovac Family for a very long time, such simple elegance in everything that they do.  The Sweden based multidisciplinary company is run by Camilla and Christopher Kovac, designing and running their business as environmentally friendly as they possibly can.  All their products are made in Sweden using sustainable materials and sold exclusively in their showroom and online store.

Their ambition is to create products that have the smallest impact possible on the environment by sourcing the materials needed and producing them locally.  The challenge was to be able to create something using a minimum amount of certified environmentally friendly materials as possible and also have the capacity to be easily recycled.

Their collection is simply called Numbers, each product named after the number of parts used to construct each form, yes as simple as that!   The inspiration behind it all comes from nature itself, the question asked is, how can we make this better in all aspects to improve the every day life and our environment, a question we should find ourselves asking every single day.

The versatility of these stunning lights is wonderful, the shape mimicking that of a shell can be placed anywhere, as well as hung creating a focal point where ever it is positioned.  They come with either 3 or 5 metres of cord giving you plenty of options to drape and hang to perfection.  I had great fun placing this stunning Ebonized Oak 25Lamp around my home, I think it’s final resting place with be hanging low over my kitchen table creating a delicate pool of light and added wow factor.

14Lamp is the new design, smaller than the 25Lamp but perfectly formed and still as striking, they would look fabulous hung low as bedside lights, hmmm now there’s an idea!

Each light be it oak, ash, waxed, striped, dip dyed, freckled or whitened comes delivered flat packed in a box smaller than one you would get a pizza in!   You ingeniously fold out the pieces to create the iconic shape, total genius.  Such simplicity in it’s beauty, bringing sustainability to our homes with clever design is something we should all strive for.

Jx

  • with many thanks to Kovac Family for the Ebonised Oak 25Lamp

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Considered Home

For a long time now as a family we have made a conscious decision to improve the way we live, taking into account every aspect of our daily life.  It takes no time at all to assess the every day things we do and make small changes to be more sustainable in our homes.

Arhaus featured a tip of mine in one of their infographics, quite proudly I could have given quite a few but this is the one I chose.

Arhaus are leading the way in sustainability striving to make the home wares industry more environmentally friendly for all as you can see above.  They make many of their products with organic fabrics and materials, including their earth-friendly sectionals.

So how can we make a difference, I say start small and build from there, the impact of just changing your your light bulbs to energy efficient ones has a massive effect, they don’t need to be utilitarian looking either the technology out there today is amazing, all my light bulbs are low energy led squirrel cage designed so look fabulous and use hardly any electricity.  As a family we made a choice to use a green energy company to supply our gas and electricity, they source all of their electricity from renewable sources and off-set the carbon emissions from the gas they provide.  We also have a smart meter which helps us keep track of the energy we are using.   Another great tip is to time yourself in the shower, it’s amazing how much water you can be saved by using what you need rather than squandering it.

When it comes to cleaning and washing think about the products you are using,  I use eco-friendly ones even down to my washing powder, no harmful chemicals involved at all.  I don’t have a tumble drier either, clothes dried outside in the fresh air is the best way, just takes a little more time but uses no energy other than what nature provides.  On those inclement days clothes airers in doors do just fine.

As a consumer try and think about the ethical benefits of all the items you buy for yourself and your home, even down to the clothes you wear, the bedding you sleep in, the towels you dry yourself on, the paint you use for your walls, the furniture you choose to have in your home.  Each and every one  of these small things add up to a larger picture, it’s not rocket science but a little time and effort can help change things for the better.  There are many wonderful companies out there today that are trying very hard to make a difference to how we live putting a great emphasis  on ethical values.  It’s the little changes we make that will most certainly have the biggest impact in the future.

I could go on and on, going into greater depth on each subject but for now, change your light bulbs, sleep in linen sheets, don’t use too much water in the shower and stop using that tumble drier!

Jx

  • Images 5, 7 & 9

 

 

The Natural Way to Paint // Bauwerk Colour

When it comes to decorating I like to try out new ways of doing so, exploring new ideas and colours, mixing it up a little rather than playing safe.  I have been a huge admirer of Bauwerk Colour for a long time, first seeing them in Hans Blomquist’s book In the Mood for Colour so it has been a privilege to be able use their paint in a room in my house.  Being able to introduce new environmentally friendly products into my home is becoming increasingly important to me and if I can then pass on this knowledge to others then I’ll be overjoyed.

It was a little daunting using this paint as it is totally different to what I’m used to. When you open the tub the consistency is like water but if you follow the instructions carefully it’s not so scary after all, it’s rather easy and very therapeutic.  I found my rhythm and the walls were covered in no time.  It was strange painting walls with a large brush but sweeping strokes are needed to get the effect you want.  Because the paint is made with clay, minerals and natural pigments it dries quite quickly so you can’t got back and go over where you have been which took a while to get used to. You just keep going with your strokes, not worrying whether you’ve missed a bit, this will get covered on your next application.  As long as you don’t load your brush too much and make each application stretch as far as you can the process is rather simple. Also keep stirring the paint to stop the pigment settling, you just can tell when you need to do this.

Once I got used to the whole process three coats were applied quickly and the finished effect is rather fabulous.  Yes you can see the brush strokes but that is part of it’s charm, it gives your walls depth and texture and I absolutely love it.  A friend on instagram said once I use Bauwerk I will never look back and I think she is right!   It has totally transformed the room, watching it change colour with the light is quite magical. I find myself drawn to this space to sit for a while and take it in, it was a room I hardly noticed before.

The joy of Bauwerk is their vision and ethos being able to produce modern lime paint in harmony with nature, they source the finest pigments to develop the most beautiful colour palette in collaborations with superb stylists such as Hans Blomquist and Lynda Gardener.   Established in 2000 in Australia they now supply in Europe which is great for us.

The environmental benefits from using Bauwerk paints are exemplary, here is why.

“We make our paints, following our belief that buildings and homes should not be disconnected from the materials they are built from. To create paints that are natural, that work with and are part of a building or home.

Especially important to us, is our environment, our paints are beautiful, do not harm the environment in their manufacture and disposal, and most importantly do not harm our health.

Bauwerk lime paints are made from natural materials which is different from being a conventional low or zero VOC paint-which just means it is made from plastics but with one toxic part removed leaving all the rest.

Our paints work differently, working with nature we make them with clay, minerals and beautiful natural pigments. You can paint without fumes, wash-up and disposal is safe and non-polluting, we leave no toxic chemicals in the environment in the production of our paints.

We use 100% green power in our production.”

If we can make our homes more natural without causing harm to our environment but in turn creating beautiful places to live in then I highly recommend investing in wonderful companies like Bauwerk.

Jx

The Joy of Tiles with Mandarin Stone

I have a thing for tiles, I simply love them, all their textures, patterns and shapes.  I have a collection of tiles that I just keep and display because I think they are beautiful.  One of the leading companies in the country to supply every tile option you can possibly imagine is Mandarin Stone.  These guys definitely know a thing or two about this fabulous medium and I am lucky enough to be writing about them today and I got to play with a diverse selection of their stock to create mood boards in my favourite colour palette for this post.

Mandarin Stone have just this week launched their new website making it even easier to browse and select the right tile for your particular need.  I know when I next carry out a big job in my home (the bathroom) they will certainly be the ones I will entrust to guiding me through the process, helping me choose the correct tile without making any costly mistakes.The attention to detail that Mandarin Stone go to to constantly bring the best range of tile to their customers is outstanding.  The extensive nature of their range and the versatility that is on offer leaves me quite speechless, always striving for new and innovative designs and sourcing the very best in interior design, constantly on trend.

A great pride runs throughout the company with the comprehensive knowledge and experience that they offer to ensure the right material is used for the right project be it linking your interior with your exterior using outdoor stone for a seamless finish, to tiny mosaics for the down-stairs loo.   Big slabs of marble for a sleek bathroom experience, or the perfect geometric monochrome decorative porcelain tile for the kitchen.  You can get wood effect, concrete look, stone effect and glazed, you name it they have it and virtually the entire range is in stock at their Monmouth warehouse (or should I say large industrial estate!).  This means that the majority of the stock can delivered within the week as you’d be surprised at how ordering tiles is one the things people forget to do and then need them in a hurry!

What I love most about Mandarin Stone other than their aesthetics in interior design and their ethos is that they are a family run business with their headquarters still in the rolling hills of Monmouthshire, Wales.  Here is a little bit more about how it all came to be.

“I never dreamt that selling a few slate tiles out the back of my estate car 29 years ago would lead to the Mandarin Stone we see today. In the early years we supplied predominantly tile shops and distributors until we opened our first showroom in Bath back in 2000. Nearly 20 years later, we now have 10 inspirational showrooms throughout the UK.  Alma Small, Founder & Managing Director

“Our over-riding passion for natural stone stands firm and there is little that we don’t know about this undeniably beautiful material. Our collection has grown considerably over the years, from tried & tested favourites, to brand new discoveries, meaning our selection of natural stone is unrivalled. Never ones to stand still, it has been our introduction of man-made porcelain tiles in more recent years that has allowed us to be at the very forefront of interior design, presenting the most innovative and exciting wall and floor surfaces to the UK market.”

So I shall keep planning for my bathroom revamp but it may take me sometime to choose as the selection is mind boggling, like a child in a sweet shop.  Will it be Carrara C Honed Marble or Cemento White Polished Porcelain, maybe with a quirky patterned and decorative tile as a basin splash back, who knows the world is my oyster with Mandarin Stone.

Jx

  • With thanks to Mandarin Stone for supplying the tiles for use in the mood board images

 

The Unique Lily by Jessica Zoob

To own an original piece of art is a rare thing but something that I whole heartedly recommend everyone should aspire to have no matter how big or small.  Something unique to you that will bring years of joy when you look at it, a future heir loom if you will.

I am lucky to call artist Jessica Zoob a dear friend, her work is breathtaking, filled with emotion, passion and the most beautiful colours.  I had the privilege to visit Jessica’s studio earlier this year to view her most recent collection and to take a look at a new idea that she was working on at the time: printing a selection of original paintings onto metals.

These rather special limited edition artworks are so very different to anything I have ever seen, to take an original painting and print it onto copper, brass, or stainless steel with a white ink layer is quite something, this amazing technology directly fuses the ink onto the metal giving the colours a wonderful depth.  The metallic highlights seep through to create a truly beautiful and unique piece.

I shall let Jessica explain why a print is more than just a copy of an original below and you can find out more about this stunning collection on her website.

I decided to create this collection when I discovered the innovative method of printing high quality images of my work directly onto metals. This offers a completely different and creative outlet to my primary working method of painting with liquid oils. I found this hugely exciting!

Although creating a print involves reproducing an image, a fine art print is so more than just a copy of an original. This project has been a close collaboration with my print studio the DPC in Greenwich, a team of highly skilled technicians. My metal lily prints will never be mass produced. A limited number (editions) of only eight of each lily on each metal have been produced. They will only be sold directly through me, from my online store. As a result they are true works of art.”

Now the wait is over the Metal Lily Print Collection launches on Thursday 16th November and will be available to buy from Jessica’s online store.  I am also honoured to be able to give my readers a 10% discount (plus free shipping in the uk) if you choose to purchase one of these unique pieces, all you have to do is use the code teawithruby10 at the checkout.  The perfect Christmas present for the one you love don’t you think?

Jx

 

The Sofa Dilemma

The sofa is one of the comfiest places to relax other than under the duvet so you have to get it right, it’s a big financial cost too, so any wrong choices can be a bit of a disaster.  All that being said it’s one of the pieces of furniture that I struggle with when choosing, it took me a very long time to pick or current sofa and I worried that I’d made the wrong choice for weeks on end.  Luckily for me it works for us and it’s comfort and elegance works in my current scheme.

So where do you start when contemplating that large investment piece, does the decor dictate the style and fabric choice?  Are you restricted with space or budget or does the sofa itself make you decide on everything else around it?

Only you can be the one that answers any of these questions but personally I found a lot of research helped me with my decision.  My one piece of advice is don’t buy straight off the internet, visit a showroom have a good sit on the one sofa that catches your eye, take the family and have you all sit on it as if you were at home.  Also invest in a piece that will last, don’t cut corners, try and buy one at the top of your budget because it will hopefully be made to last quite a few years.

There are so  many styles on the market but my favourites are the less in your face pieces, I like muted tones, wool fabrics that you can layer up with cushions and throws, clean lined but comfortable.   I wish I had the space for a modular model where we could all lay out but alas my living space isn’t so big.  I had to go compact in style but fabric choice was definitely no other than my own. I’ve always wanted a plain wool sofa and so that’s what I have.  I was ever so tempted by velvet but was scared that in every day use it would get a little worn far too quickly. The jewel toned velvets that are available are stunningly beautiful, maybe one day I will have a space for an occasional sofa that doesn’t suffer the rigour of everyday use.

Another hard wearing fabric choice would be leather, these fabulous leather sofa designs by the unique online store PIB are superb with a touch of a vintage vibe.  Buttery leather tones that will wear well with age.  I have a leather chair that we bought many moons ago for this very reason, an investment that will last a life time.

If money were no object a bespoke piece would be a dream, handmade to perfection to your specifications, I shall carry on dreaming about that one, or maybe one from here, my favourite designers.

So if you are currently looking to make that switch from old and tired to brand spanking new, hopefully some of these styles might take your fancy, happy sofa shopping.

Jx

Images ~ 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 & 12

 

A Week In Pictures

I thought rather than me ramble on this week I shall just let you see why I adore the Lake District so very much.  I think I have said a million times that I leave a little part of my soul there when I leave and this time was no different.

I had time to stop and breathe in the cool air and mind blowing vistas, spent precious hours with my family enjoying each others company without laptops or mobile phones.  I indulged in books when it got too dark outside to see the view of the lake.  We huddled in coffee shops out of the rain, ran along windswept beaches, got wet under waterfalls, kicked autumn leaves in the forest and didn’t want to come home.

What are half term holidays for but a bit of down time away from what you are used to, I have a few more days to hold onto this magic.

Jx

A Few Days Away

Autumn holidays to be truthful I think are my favourite.  I’ve been counting down the days looking forward to our break in the Lakes.  At this time of year they are breathtakingly beautiful, as are the colours that nature brings which we reflect in our home for our well being.

So on that note, not really a full post this week but some Autumn inspired mood boards that conjure up the smell of wood smoke, warming hands on mugs of steaming hot chocolate, curling up under woollen blankets.  Bringing those warmer tones into your homes creating rich interiors for you to enjoy over the coming weeks.

See you all in a week, I hope you enjoy the end of this glorious month as much as I am going to.

Jx

All images via pinterest

 

Reflection // Time to Hibernate

Some weeks you just have to slow down.  The world that I work in can be full on if you let it, you don’t realise that you don’t take time out to have a break, even on weekends you are working.  So for the next few weeks I’m taking a little time to myself and not feeling at all guilty about it.

I’m going to finish some things around the house before Winter arrives, make our home cosy for Autumn.  Enjoy the half term holiday, taking the time to eat well and have lots of sleep.  I’m also going to indulge in reading, not just my usual interiors based magazines and publications but books, ones that I can escape into another world, ones that I can’t put down.

Time to switch off the phone and laptop and take care of me, to recharge those batteries and come back full of beans and inspiration to take on the run up to the Christmas break.  I have a few projects coming up in the next month that I’m very excited about and I’m looking forward to working with these wonderful brands Bauwerk, Mandarin Stone and Kovac.

But for now, the kettle is on, the book is open and the throw is waiting for me to curl up under, heaven.

Do you take time off to recharge the batteries, if so what things do you do to make you feel rested and rejuvenated?

Jx

Images 9, 10 & 11 the rest are my own