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

 

Simple Aesthetics with Murmur

I love it when I come across a brand that has all the right aesthetics that resonate with me and my style.  Let me introduce you to Murmur a lifestyle and interiors brand that I know you won’t be able to resist when you see their beautifully designed products.

Murmur is more than just a home ware brand they want to capture a renewed desire for hand crafted simply designed pieces, bringing with it a fresh approach and attitude to how we live today.  Their ethos is simple based on one that is influenced by Scandinavian and Japanese design; elegant natural materials are paired together with geometric patterns inspired by batik style dyeing techniques.  Texture and colour palettes marry together perfectly but by then adding in a simple stripe or pattern, layering each piece becomes effortless.   The combinations simply work beautifully creating a coherent home.

Each product has been designed in house at their Northern Irish studio space.  Pieces have been sourced and hand crafted by the talented design team who have travelled from India to Scandinavia to gather inspiration bringing together this collection, making sure each piece can be mixed and matched to create harmony for your interiors.

From soft cotton bedding in soothing tones to beautiful cushions and throws.  Adding texture through cotton, linen and wool layering in a mixture of scale, pattern and colour palette to create a haven of comfort.  Their ceramics collection of Portuguese stoneware will add that artisan twist to your dining table.  Organic shapes with hand finished details coming in three complimentary shades are designed to be mix and matched creating a unique look.

I have a selection of their stunning towels, so soft and lightweight make bathing a great pleasure.  They bring a little bit extra to my bathroom, the deep geometric pattern of the Japanese floral towel contrasting with the small print of Hama towel adding texture and tone to my all white room.

I can’t stress highly enough that you should pay Murmur a visit to bring a little of that pared back style into your own home.

Jx

  •  with thanks to Murmur for gifting the towels in this post

 

 

 

 

Design Classics with Fenwick

I find in today’s world we are so used to browsing and shopping on the internet that we forget to go into stores to really look at products in the flesh, to touch and feel something before making a purchase.  I am very guilty of doing this for ease and time saving but sometimes you are reminded and surprised by what you can get on the high street.

I had the opportunity recently to work with the department store Fenwick in Newcastle.  To my shame I don’t go to the city very often and I really should as it’s only half an hour away!   I shall also confess I’m not normally a department store kind of girl either but this is definitely about to change.  Visiting Fenwick opened my eyes to what this elegant store has to offer in the interiors market, walking around slightly opened mouthed spotting brand after brand that I covet. I had been totally oblivious that it was all there under one roof.  It was like visiting the directory of Elle Decoration!

From chic Italian designs to Scandinavian and Danish classics I was mightily impressed.  Did you know that BoConcept have an interior design service in house, you can come away with Eames and Vitra chairs and Natuzzi Italia sofas.  Hay has a capsule collection in store including their iconic paper porcelain range.  There is also the trend setting Danish design brand house Stelton, their Emma kettle being big on my wish list.  I even spotted Georg Jensen stainless steel pitchers.

I came away buzzing with excitement, knowing I was going to create some work for them using some of these innovative brands both in my own home and on a shoot to be featured in an in house magazine which you can browse through below.

So if you are looking to add some new pieces of furniture or accessories to your home I highly recommend a visit to Fenwick there are some amazing offers taking place in store with their Autumn home event up until 10th September.  Seek out good design that will enrich your home for the better, contemporary innovative pieces for sustainable modern living.

 

  • With thanks to Fenwick for gifting the items in this piece.  Other images as follows  1, 2, 3, 4 & 5

 

 

 

 

 

Inspired by the Sea

 Influenced by the sea to create beautiful textiles that resonate with the ever changing big skies and sandy shore lines must be a joy but for Camilla Thomas that is exactly what she does. Tidal Sands is Camilla’s first collection, the designs of each piece have been woven inspired by the light, movement and structure of the unique coast of the beautiful island of Anglesey in North Wales.  The aim was to capture the essence of what it feels like to be part of the very fibres of each piece.

Camilla has always enjoyed being creative from being small, free hand knitting, stitching and making projects, it was only when she decided to turn that hobby into a working practise did she realise that she had to narrow the field down and focus on one discipline that she was passionate about.  It was while at university that weaving came to the fore, the realisation that making a fabric from the starting point of yarn and loom was fascinating and totally immersing.  The slow intricate nature of the weaving process with the added element of experimentation can bring surprising results even after careful planning.  Using a hand operated loom brings Camilla a sense of connection to each piece she creates and a constant reminder of the historic routes that this craft has.

 Like me Camilla believes in simple living, investing in pieces for your home that you can cherish, handmade not mass produced, products that you can touch and feel a connection with.  To have a beautiful throw that you can curl up in when the day is ending is one of life’s simple pleasures especially when the seasons start to slowly change from Summer into Autumn.
The capsule collection of Tidal Sands are made using natural fibres, particularly Merino lambswool which add that luxurious softness, lightness of touch but with warmth.  Samples are hand woven by Camilla but are turned into the finished throws and cushions at a family mill in Lancashire that has been weaving for over a hundred years.  Each piece is unique with wonderful titles such as Sea Fret, Sea Front and Sea Glass, the colour palettes flow from subtle greys to pale blues with a contrasting burnt orange band at the bottom edge connecting sea with sand.  Slight difference in the patterns  mimic the impressions left behind on the soft sand as the tide goes out or the tracks left behind by a tractor after it’s pulled the boats to shore.
My favourite piece from the collections is the Penmon, with it’s bold black stripes inspired by the lighthouse after which it’s named.  Camilla created this throw to raise money for the Air Sea Rescue services on the island of Anglesey, following their rescue of one of her closest friends from a fall on the rocks at Penmon Point. This throw has a special price point and all proceeds will go to the charity.
If you want to see the stunning collection for yourself Camilla will be exhibiting at all three Handmade in Britain fares this Autumn (Kew, Edinburgh and Chelsea) find the dates below. If like me that’s too long to wait then the collection is available here.  I highly recommend that you do, each piece is a future heirloom that will bring something extra to your interior.
As the nights are starting to draw in I can’t wait to have a soak in the tub, pour a glass of wine and snuggle under my throw with a good book, sheer bliss.
*  With thanks to Camilla Thomas Textiles for gifting the pieces for the purpose of this post.  Here are the dates for the Handmade in Britain fairs, links above.
Contemporary Craft Fair Kew / 12th – 15th October 2017
Contemporary Craft Fair Edinburgh / 27th – 29th October 2017
The Contemporary Crafts & Design Fair Chelsea / 10th – 12th November 2017
 
 

Let in the Light

It’s Summer and there is nothing nicer than throwing open the doors and windows to the garden letting in a warm breeze and dappled light.  I’m lucky that I have French doors but I don’t like their design, the frames are dark and PVC as are all my window frames.  The light reduction it causes due to heavy frames is quite remarkable.  We replaced both our entrance doors last year for bespoke alternatives and it has made a huge difference to the light in the hallway and kitchen.

We dream of self building one day, creating a contemporary light filled home with large floor to ceiling windows, open spaces leading from room to room letting in maximum light but with all the right green credentials making the house self sufficient when it comes to energy saving.

For now that is still a long way off so we are considering updating our nasty frames for better version to maximise the light and stop the heat escaping.  Maybe a side extension to create more precious space off the kitchen with skylights to focus the light over that specific area.  It’s remarkable what choice you have today when it comes to updating your windows, Roofwindows.co.uk are a super place to start with a huge range of innovative well priced windows by Solstro to choose from with an excellent advice service on hand so you make the correct decision.

Another great way of maximising light in a small dark space is internal glazing, replacing heavy wooden doors with glass ones, if privacy is an issue frosted window film is a great alternative than etched glass.  Painting your walls in paler colour tones helps lift the space,  placing mirrors opposite a window also bounces light perfectly.  Even down to choosing lightweight fabrics rather than heavy drapes when dressing your windows or maybe if you are lucky and not overlooked perhaps no curtains at all.

For now I shall keep saving to replace my brown PVC horrors and keep dreaming of my white, bright contemporary house with floor to ceiling windows!

Images 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 & 13

  • This post was paid for by Roofwindows.co.uk

Dining in Black // Also Home

When dining goes dark, I have fallen head over heals for dark ceramic dinner plates they just make your culinary efforts sing.  Also Home recently got in touch with me to see if I could coordinate some of their dining range with flowers.  My eye was instantly caught by their matt black glazed  Kuro Scandanese (Scandinavian & Japanese) inspired ceramics.  They are the perfect blend of simplicity and natural design that is often found in  Scandinavia and Japan.   The very nature of the way these ceramics are made is the very ethos behind Also Home and all their products. Every item is beautifully made in natural and tactile materials, the pared back Kuro collection focuses on shape and form to create these simple hand-crafted style ceramics.

The soft matt black glaze of these tactile plates work beautifully placed on soft slubby linen, surrounded by pale Summer stems.  I’m not one for brights as you all well know but I am quite partial to pale pastel seasonal blooms.  I don’t think any table setting is complete without a floral display be it in a big full vase or jam jars dotted down the centre of the table.  I felt that the plates needed to do the talking so gently laid a few simple selected stems with an easy knotted napkin.  The rest of the flowers I placed in different sized vintage bottles to soften the look.

To make the setting complete I used a unique pressed bamboo lacquerware bowl in matt black, the contrast of the lacquered outside to the smooth pale pressed bamboo inside is stunning.  I don’t think any salad could look bad in one of these artisan made bowls.

Also Home are a wonderful brand who believe in uniqueness, quality and individuality.  Every item is designed and sourced to support talented artisans across the world.  The unique nature of each piece has real beauty in its simplicity, every home needs a little bit of their simple well crafted style to create an truly inspiring interior.

  • With thanks to Also Home for the plates and bowl that are featured in this post

Iconic Lights // Lighting the Scandinavian Way

Lighting can be a tricky to get right and the costs can add up if you don’t get it first time.  So it’s great when you come across brands like Iconic Lights who not only have cutting edge designs featured on line but they come at the fraction of the cost of the designer alternatives.  Don’t think because the price is lower the quality is as well; far from it.  I have many lights at home by them and I’m utterly impressed.

I’ve been having a shake up at home, paring back and changing elements to make it more streamlined so the next thing on the list was the lighting in our spare room/dressing room/everything else space.  I’m very much into Scandinavian design, the choice from Iconic Lights is just superb, I chose the adjustable Roscoe floor lamp and as it is exactly right for my room.  I like the fact that I can move it about without having to have a surface to place it on, also the lamp head is adjustable so you can have it positioned just where you need the light to be.  Not only is it practical it is rather stylish too,  the simple design is perfect, compact and I’m super pleased with it.

With any Scandinavian design you will find quality, style and simplicity everything the Scandinavians are renowned for.   The range by Iconic Lights include their own in house designs of which the Roscoe is one along with reproductions of iconic designs by leading Scandinavian designers such as Verner Pantan, Poul Henningsen, Poul Christiansen and Holger Strom.

Not only do Iconic Lights have an amazing range of lights they also source the very best in bulbs with the latest energy efficient technologies.  Their range is constantly developing and expanding making it easier to find the right bulb for the right lamp.  The MiniSun range is brilliant, you can get an array of  filament bulb styles but using the latest LED technology.  Not only can you incorporate a unique design into your home it’s also cost effective, eco friendly and reduces your carbon footprint significantly.

To give you some lighting inspiration I have a Pinterest board dedicated to just that, find the style and then go take a look at Iconic Lights I’m sure you’ll find what you are looking for and have a healthier bank balance at the end too.

  • With thanks to Iconic Lights for supplying the Roscoe Floor Lamp for the purpose of this post.

 

 

Room to Grow with Rooi

My little or should I say not so little girl turned 12 this year and she decided that her bedroom needed a make over.  She wanted to create a space that she  could hang out in, a more grown up room that reflects her taste and style as she grows into a young woman.

She was adamant that she wanted a black wall, painted floorboards and a desk.  Not to hard for me to get my head around at all,  quite straight forward and easy to put the look she wanted together.   Of course I used Farrow and Ball for the paint, new compact furniture with excellent storage from Ikea which has made a huge difference and created more floor space than before.  The key that brings the scheme together is a beautiful monochrome rug from Rose and Grey, it is amazing how just that one piece completes the space to perfection.   I’m so pleased with the result, it’s worked very well considering it’s the smallest room in the house and she is now spending far more time in there just relaxing and enjoying her space.   I have a dedicated Pinterest board filled with cool ideas for kids spaces.

Creating a more grown up space has been fun but it’s the little elements of carefully selected accessories that make it personal to her.  Gone are the dolls and cuddly toys that have now being replaced by  funky stationery, scented candles and clever technology.  We are trying to steer Ruby into appreciating good quality design not amassing lots of stuff, that’s where Rooi come in.  Their philosophy states that when they select a product, they ask three questions. Does it say something? Does it delight the senses? Does it make us happy? If the answer is yes, it finds a place on their carefully selected online store full of stylish contemporary home wares that have an element of fun about them too.

Rooi was the perfect place to go to add those finishing touches to her space, fabulous notebooks and pens with quirky eye catching designs by Ban.do . She loves nothing more than using new but different beauty products, I’m quite jealous of her hand cream collection especially this one by Meraki a Danish skin and body care brand inspired by Scandinavian aesthetics. The simple design of their products work so very well.  Their scented soy bean candles come perfectly packaged too,  with fabulous names like sandcastles & sunset.  Her room is filled with the delicate scent of coconut and tropical fruit, perfect for balmy summer evenings curled up in her newly created reading nook writing stories in her quirky notebooks, listening to her tunes streamed through her funky blue tooth speaker.

I think I want to be a teenager again or maybe I just need to treat myself to some stylish accessories from Rooi too.

  • with thanks to Rooi for gifting the products used in this post.

Working with Wool // Solidwool

Wool a natural commodity,  a sustainable resource, one that is plentiful but so very much underused and under valued.  Can you believe that one sheep’s fleece commands a shockingly low price of 40p.  This is where Solidwool come in, this innovative brand are championing a new way of working with wool in a diverse and contemporary environment.   They are modern day manufacturers of a by product of sheep farming, turning it from something unwanted into something beautiful and unique.

The items designed and made by  Solidwool can be considered in place of Injection Moulded Plastics and fibreglass. Wool is used as the reinforcement, bio-resins as the binder. Their manufacturing methods are designed to have the lowest environmental impact that they can.

The Hembury collection is simple, clean lined and practical, a design with longevity in mind, a range of everyday products for the home or creative space.  With a chair to sit on, a table to rest your book and coffee on and placemats to make your dining table more stylish the collection is just right.  The beauty of the wooden legs of the chair and table contrasting with the dark smooth Solidwool top are a master stroke, tactility in the utility with sustainable values.

I spoke to Hannah, one half of the Solidwool team and asked her about their vision for the business, where it started and where they see their vision going in the future.

About Solidwool

We started Solidwool to find a new way of working with wool, in the hope that we could bring some wool manufacturing back to our home town, create fulfilling jobs for ourselves and maybe a small team of people.

We were inspired by our home town and an old industry in decline. Buckfastleigh was once a thriving part of the woollen industry but it had grown quiet since the key manufacturing had left.

We learnt that the coarse wool from hill-farmed sheep had dramatically lost its value in recent years. Historically used in the UK carpet industry, the demand had declined and the wool was now considered worthless, a by-product of sheep farming.

So we started to play, to turn the way we have always worked with wool on it’s head. To take the unwanted and make it beautiful, give it value once again.  The end result is what has become Solidwool.  A strong, beautiful and unique composite material. Think of it like fibreglass, but with wool.

The Hembury Collection came from this. We had a material and wanted to create a product to showcase the material.

Currently, we use wool from the Herdwick breed of sheep. This wool is wiry, dark and hard. An itchy scratchy type of wool. It’s also one of the lowest value British wools. Once a major part of a shepherd’s income, the wool sells for about 30-40p per kg. It costs more to shear the sheep than they get back in sales.  When used in our products the Herdwick wool is beautiful. It produces a dark grey composite with the lighter guard hairs standing out.

What’s Next

At the beginning of the year we moved into a new factory space in the centre of Buckfastleigh, in one of the old disused woollen mill buildings. The space is amazing, light and airy. We’ve been busy fitting the space out in a manner fit for a modern manufacturing company, whilst working out what that is!  For us, 2017 is about working on the next generation of Solidwool technology. Really getting to grips with understanding the material and its capacity. Once we have done this we will be expanding our range of furniture.

We also hope to begin sourcing our own wool direct from farmers. Currently we source wool that has gone through the British Wool Marketing Board auction system. This system works, but buying direct from farmers, enables us to be more transparent about our supply chain. It also means we can pay above market price for the wool we source. Giving part of the value we create back to source.

We are also playing with lighter wools, such as the Scotch Blackface sheep on Dartmoor. It is another lower value wool, but can be used with a coloured resin to create a material which is very similar in appearance to coloured fibreglass.

So if you are on the hunt for a unique piece of contemporary furniture with a sustainable twist then please do take a look at Solidwool.  Just think how cool your kitchen table will look surrounded by the Hembury chairs, I know I am!

  • With thanks to Solidwool for providing the images for this post

Custom Fronts // Scandi Ply Chic

A few weeks ago I mentioned having commissioned custom made fronts to fit an Ikea Besta sideboard we had recently purchased.  Well my beautiful doors, tops and sides arrived, they fit like a dream and are beyond any pre conceived ideas that we had before they arrived.I am so pleased that I found Custom Fronts, not only that they are UK based but I support their sustainable, hand crafted, design led ethos.  The attention to detail is exceptional, I have a bespoke piece of furniture for the fraction of the cost of a designer brand but with huge eco credentials.During the process of choosing the finishes and final dimensions for my cupboard doors, I had a chat to Ian and Rachel, the husband and wife team behind the brand and asked a few questions about how Custom Fronts came about, the sustainability behind the craft and where they see the business going in the future, this is what they told me.“We wanted to re-invent how kitchens and furniture should be.  We don’t want to do what everyone else is doing.  We want to offer something extraordinarily simple, yet extraordinarily difficult to find.  Kitchens and furniture that are beautiful, sustainable, made locally, design-led, AND affordable.  No-one else seemed to be doing it.  Why couldn’t we? We come from humble backgrounds, and don’t have deep pockets. But we love art, design, creativity, the planet…and there are many more like us.  We know it’s not just those who can afford it that want beautiful and healthy design in their homes!

 We had a number of questions that we felt the interiors world just didn’t have answers to. So we decided to answer these ourselves.
Why can’t high-end design be inclusive, not exclusive?
Why shouldn’t beautiful, sustainable AND affordable design be available to everyone?
How do even high-end manufacturers get away with making their products from toxic MDF and other unsustainable materials?
Why must everything be wastefully spray painted with toxic paints, or wrapped in laminate and vinyls?
Scandinavian birch plywood is THE ideal materials for kitchens – why are so few using it?
Why should those without deep pockets have to settle for bland, shoddy products without beauty and creativity?
Why is everyone playing it safe?
 We felt perfectly placed to provide these answers.  We have the skills, we had the vision.    But we felt scared, unsure…did other people have these questions too?  Did other people want what we wanted? We still don’t know for sure.  But we did know that we didn’t want to play it safe.  We wanted to take a risk.  Sometimes you have to trust your gut, so we went for it!
 We love nature and beauty.  We use gorgeous FSC certified birch plywood or bamboo for all of our products.  Birch plywood is fast-growing and abundant meaning it is easily replenishable.  It is low-toxic, and because it consists of several very thin layers of birch ply together, immensely less wasteful than solid wood.  Beautiful bamboo is incredibly fast-growing, has a fascinating grain structure and is another perfect material.  All our wood veneers are native species from FSC certified suppliers.
We use ultra low toxic and durable paint, an American brand “Mythic”.   You could drink it, although I wouldn’t advise it!  It’s not a fashionable brand, they don’t shout about themselves but we know this is the best on the market.
We make everything ourselves in our workshop in Sussex, we want to be proud of what we make with a simple, timeless aesthetic but also push the boundaries a little, we like using interesting colour palettes, woods and metal finishes.  It might surprise customers, but we won’t say “yes” to everything.  We have strong environmental and design principles and everything we do stays true to that.  We won’t spray paint – it’s wasteful, usually toxic, and lacks the subtle texture and crafted look of hand painted.  We will never use MDF and particle board.  We won’t use tropical hard woods.
 We have so many plans.  Our only problem is time, not ideas!  Our plans are to introduce our own bespoke furniture, Custom shelves, Custom tables, Custom stools, with very interesting “customisable” options of course.
 We will also be moving to a beautiful rural workshop only 50 miles from London over the summer where we will have a showroom, we’d love you to come and say hello.  It is just across the road from one of the most beautiful riverside walks in Sussex, which handily ends up at a scenic pub where you can enjoy a lovely pub lunch, a perfect day out.
And finally there is the possibility of a collaboration with a fascinating design firm so watch this space.”
 Take it from me the finish is exceptional and I’m bursting with pride that I now own a Custom Fronts cabinet, I don’t think it will be long before I hear of many more of you owning a slice of of Scandi Ply delight too, or how long it will take before I want to update my kitchen!!
* with thanks to Custom Fronts for providing images for this post.  Taken by Sarah Weal and styled by Emma Harris

Happy + Co

I think you are all well aware by now that I like to champion independent brands that not only supply stylish well made products for your home but also ones that have huge ethical clout.  So this week I would like to introduce you to Happy + Co.

Their philosophy is that happiness starts at home, this transfers into everything they do and into each design that they produce.

“All our products are designed to be noticed but, above all, to be loved”

I couldn’t put it better myself,  I have kindly been sent two Happy + Co cushions that blend wonderfully on my grey wool sofa. Who doesn’t love a good cushion? They finish a room, making a seat inviting and a bed that you want to curl up on.  These large steel grey pebble cushions are made from 100% recycled cotton, the texture is fabulous, so tactile but soft to the touch and they come with a feather cushion pad too. Many more designs caught my eye, the midnight  black Bondi and Palm Beach designs are so fresh with a hint of Scandinavian chic all of which would add a playful touch to a monochrome scheme.

Happy + Co design their homeware products to be different, bringing a splash of happiness to the room they reside in.  A lot of time and effort is put into getting to know each and every single one of their suppliers.  To make sure that the products and designs are of the highest quality they visit the suppliers regularly to guarantee that everyone is happy.

Little things make a big difference and that is exactly what this innovative brand achieve, for each product that they sell 10% of the profit is invested in their Farm in Cambodia.  This investment provides employment for young men and women, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables for the whole community.

Happy + Co have a perfect and simple collection of products, cushions, table linen, bedding and the most super stylish furniture covered in their distinctive fabric.  A little bit of something for everyone, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t love them as much as I, so lets spread a little bit of happiness with this outstanding brand.

  • With thanks to Happy + Co for the cushions featured in this post.

 

Spring Blossom with Radley

I do love it when Spring finally comes around and you can start introducing new items to your capsule wardrobe, start packing away the bigger bulkier jumpers and boots to  make way for new pieces.

I’m not one for having lots and lots of handbags or shoes for that matter but I do like a considered collection that will take me from season to season.  My new addition this Spring is this fabulously buttery leather large zip top Hobo bag by Radley.  It is simply the perfect choice to take me into Summer.

Monochrome is definitely my thing as I think you are all aware so the natural colour of the leather works very well for me and compliments my wardrobe brilliantly, the pudding lane bag’s slouchy style simply goes with everything.   Not to big or too small, it fits all my daily essentials in with room to spare but the handy zip around base means you can make it bigger or smaller depending on how you want to use it.  Another super feature that I always find handy is an internal zipped pocket and two slip pockets, perfect for your mobile so it doesn’t get lost and scratched at the bottom of your bag.  It also has a nifty slip pocket on the front too, great for access to things you may need to get to in a hurry rather than having to unzip the top and scrabble around for them.

Needless to say this beautiful bag has been everywhere with me over the Easter break, days out visiting National Trust properties and a short break away in our caravan.   It is so very simple and stylish, the laid back style is certainly my look and it is  excellently made.   The padded strap is just the right length, there is nothing worse than a strap that is either too short that you can’t wear it on your shoulder or too long that you can’t carry it by your side.  The latter option is normally the way after a while because everyone else seems to give me things to carry as I’m always the one with the bag!  I’m sure one of my arms is longer than the other.

So if you are at the point of updating your wardrobe from Autumn/Winter to Spring/Summer then I think this would be a perfect choice for you to check out.  I know mine will be going everywhere with me.

  • With thanks to Radley for gifting this Hobo Bag for the purpose of this post

LinenMe

The Easter weekend is finally upon us and I’m really ready for a break, time to spend with the family and thoroughly enjoy these long lazy days of the Spring holiday.

This week I’ve been decorating my daughters bedroom and its been rather a mammoth task when every single surface needed painting but I finally put down the paint brushes yesterday, now the fun part happens putting it all back together.  I did manage to take a few pictures in there whilst it’s completely empty as the light was so perfect.

That aside with it being Easter we like nothing more than being together as a family, one of the most important things that we do typically on a Sunday is to prepare a slow cooked meal that we take our time over.  Enjoying the process of cooking something delicious and hearty with fresh ingredients.  To make it even more special I like to dress the table, nothing over the top or ostentatious but homely and seasonal.  It makes the enjoyment of sharing the meal even more pleasurable, to stay around the table that little bit longer talking and laughing together.

I think you are all well aware that I simply adore linen in all it’s forms, there is nothing nicer than a linen tablecloth and napkins to create the perfect backdrop for any occasion.  The tablecloth and napkins I have used are from LinenMe, their pure linen has a gentle drape and is so soft due to the prewashing process, it is perfect for the look I like when setting a table for those easy gatherings.

Not only do Linen Me supply the most luxurious hand made table linen they have all the other bases covered too, from the softest bedlinen to hukaback towels for the bathroom.  This family run business takes great pride in producing the highest quality linens for us to cherish and become an integral part of our every day lives.

I certainly couldn’t have a home that didn’t have  linen in it, so versatile yet hard working nothing else really compares for giving your home that perfect lived in look.

  •  With thanks to LinenMe for supplying the linen that features in this post