Seasonal Self Care at Home // State of Liberty

I find the beginning of the year to be one of reflection, nurture, using the time to look after yourself, your body and mind whilst the daylight is scarce and the weather a little cold and bleak.

I have been lucky enough to get to know Lizzie Jones from State of Liberty, who runs her company with our well being firmly at the fore.  State of Liberty retreats are designed so that you can enjoy a retreat experience in the comfort of your own home, how wonderful is that.  The retreats are inspired by nature and aligned with the seasons, each season supports, nourishes and prepares the body for the next season creating a constant cycle of well being.  All very clear and simple, and something we all forget about in our face paced lives that we have chosen to live and consume.  If we stop and take the time to think and compartmentalise we can often see the simpler picture.

Based on the the five seasons used in traditional Chinese medicine, each season correlates to one of the five elements, wood, fire, earth, metal and water.  Influenced by these  five elements, Lizzie has created a retreat, a pamper box and an essential oil blend for each season.

The Seasonal Pamper Box compliments the online retreat content and has been designed specifically to deliver an overwhelming sense of calm directly to your door.  Every purchase you make comes with access to exclusive online content that is there to help you effortlessly incorporate State of Liberty products into you self care routine with ease.

I can honestly say that the Winter Pamper Box is one of the most wonderful gifts I have ever received.  The older I get the more aware I am of looking after myself so I am pretty good at early nights, sleeping well, reducing my screen time and cooking nourishing home made food.  I also swim regularly and walk as much as I can.  One of the nicest things to my routine is bathing and looking after my skin.  So the Winter Pamper Box is perfect for me, I have thoroughly enjoyed the process of making my own simple face mask, lighting the candle and having a hot soak in an epsom salt bath, being intoxicated by the wonderful aroma of the winter blend essential oil of Frankincense, Patchouli and Pettigrain.

To me it’s dedicating the time, going through the ritual of preparing that face mask or bath, switching off from the world and creating your own retreat that is just for you.  Emptying your thoughts concentrating on your breathing and giving yourself over to the sheer bliss of being relaxed and calm.  All of which we are capable of doing if we choose to notice and make an effort to do so.

What is also so delicious about State of Liberty is their attention to detail, the boxes are beautifully designed and crafted with care, all packaging used is eco friendly all bespoke and handmade in the UK using recycled materials.  It is also designed to be reused and you can refill any of the base ingredients in your box by simply returning your empty glass bottles or canvas bags, they will be refilled and posted back to you.  Along with this dedicated service you also have access to the Wellbeing Resource Library where you can get regular updates with expert advice on seasonal living, self care, meditation, yoga, mindfulness, seasonal food, pamper and sleep.  Its good to know if you are finding anything a little stressful that help is just a click away.

If you do find self care difficult you can sign up to the weekly wellbeing toolkit that will guide you gently into integrating wellbeing into your everyday.  What is not to like about having that friendly hand to hold to bring a moments peace and happiness to counteract the busy.

As a thank you State of Liberty are offering my readers a 15% discount on the Winter Pamper Box using the code SOL-TEAWITHRUBY a perfect gift to yourself for the New Year don’t you think?

Jx

With thanks to State of Liberty for gifting the Winter Pamper Box for the purpose of this post.

 

 

The Art of Giving with Edge and Company

Sometimes I think I’m the luckiest girl it the world doing what I do, meeting the talented, amazing people that make my everyday so special.  I would like to introduce you to Edge and Company a well being and lifestyle store selling ethical and innovative products for the home and outdoors with a twist.  This wonderful new company crowd funded to get it off the ground with great success.  All the products you can purchase are handmade, crafted in the UK and worldwide by people living with disabilities, mental health issues and addiction and homelessness, who find it very challenging to access and maintain employment.

Edge and Company have an ethical buying policy which to you and me means we can filter their product range by their five categories, Organic, Upcycled, Eco Friendly and Made in the UK, a simple and effective way of finding the things that are most important to you when shopping.  Along with the filters you can find what you are looking for in the categories, Well Being & Lifestyle, Pantry, Homewares and Art & Culture.  Everything in its place from soap pebbles and ceramics to chocolate and coffee there really is something for everyone.

I absolutely love their tag line Radical Giving something we should take into account every time we invest in something new.  The reasoning behind Radical Giving is that every product sold will help to support organisations that are striving to break perceptions and social stigma, to help build acceptance and provide employment opportunities for  people living with life challenges.

Milly and Steve kindly sent me a gift box that showcases some of their wonderful suppliers, they know me well and chose some of my favourite things to keep me cosy over the holidays, from the toastiest slippers, to candles and hand blended herbal tea to add a little calm over the festive season.

The slippers have been a huge hit and my husband wants to steal them NAUSENI’s handmade felt slippers take their inspirations from the rich cultural heritage and dramatic natural landscape of Nepal.   The brand was founded in response to the Nepal Earthquake of 2015, with a mission to empower women by providing skill development and income generating opportunities for those affected by the Earthquake.

I love candles in any shape or form, these 100% naturally sourced beeswax dinner candles will have pride of place on my Christmas table made by Camphill Village Trust who provide a home within a supportive community for  people who have are living with a range of different disabilities.   The Calming hand poured candle will help me unwind and relax with its heady scent of jasmine, lavender, rosewood and bergamot, it will be perfect when I’m taking a well earned soak in the tub.  Made in collaboration with Beacons Creative who also produce beautiful soaps  all hand made made by people with learning difficulties providing them with a secure environment and employment.

I love a good cup of tea and I can’t wait to try this calming blend by Hackney Herbal who are a social enterprise promoting well being and healthy minds through herbs and nature based activities. The scent as you open the bag is intoxicating and I’m savouring the moment to make a brew.   I also fell in love with the perfect ceramic pot because you all know that ceramics are my weakness.   Hand thrown and glazed by Studio 360 a creative space for those recovering from mental illness.   This beautiful pot has found a home on my table and I found the perfect winter plant to put in it, this tiny white cyclamen fits in wonderfully well with my natural theme this year.

So if you haven’t quite found that elusive Christmas gift yet please do take a look at Edge and Company I’m sure you’ll find that special something, not only will you be giving a loved one a unique gift but also a boost to someone that has faced challenges in their daily life which makes all the difference in the world.

Jx

Made of Wood // A Review

This book is the perfect book for this time of the year, filled with warm inviting homes that feature wood in many forms and styles and I adore every single one of them.  I can never resist a book written by Mark and Sally Bailey their effortless style and ability to fashion anything out of things they find fascinates me.  I have long been an admirer of their store Baileys Home in the heart of Herefordshire I have visited once a few years ago which is definitely not enough, I need to go back.  I have of course got a few things in my home from them, purchased over the years from chapel chairs to mirrors, Parfait jar lights, our loo seat oak of course and yes even my kitchen sink!

When Ryland Peters & Small asked if I would like to review Mark and Sally’s new publication Made of Wood I jumped at the chance.  I love wood but didn’t really realise how much until I read the book, I started to look around my home and truly noticed all the pieces I have that make our house a home, from Victorian striped pine doors to a French window shutter mantle shelf, hand made bath panels from scaffolding boards and painted floor boards in all the bedrooms, old tables and chairs and the list goes on.

The versatility of this wonderful material is endless and the book focuses on it in all its glory the warmth it brings to a home making it feel grounded either through a homes structure or the items curated within it.

“Made of Wood is a celebration of recycled pieces, age old crafting techniques, clean modern lines and global influences as well as art and tableware with a handmade feel.

The first half of the book Wooden Elements explores the many ways in which we can use wood in our homes, sculpted, left in its natural state, roughly sawn or smoothly planed, recycled or painted.  The second half of the book Wooden Stories contains 12 case studies, each one offering a glimpse into the homes of people who have used this most ancient and versatile of materials in creative and inspiring ways.

Living with wood brings tactile comfort to every day, warms any interior, and will give your home a sense of soul that is so often lacking in this age of mass production.”

I wish I could live in each and every home in this book, each so different from the next but with the one continuous link between them all that being the material that makes them special, wood.  Mark and Sally have such a way with words you understand their passion behind what they do and why, also the elements that make their homes so evocative and inviting from the Welsh Farmhouse to Whitecross Farm both homely and unique.  They believe that surrounding yourself with natural materials is a way of achieving a balanced and peaceful atmosphere in the home, wood being a principal element for harmony and I couldn’t agree more.  It is such a versatile element you can create almost anything from it with many finishes in its raw state, painted or polished, rough, recycled or reclaimed.  I would love to clad the outside of a house in it but that’s another story.

One of my favourite homes featured is The Plough to me its simply perfect with a pared back feel, no fuss just simple and honest, things have been chosen for their patina or sculptural qualities and elements have been left alone and untouched to reveal the history of this beautiful home that once was a pub.

This is definitely a book to invest in, you can get a copy from here directly, it would make a perfect Christmas gift for a loved one or a treat for yourself.  To own a copy to pick up and indulge in whenever you feel like, it will make you feel warm inside and inspire you with ideas to transform parts of your own home with wonderful wood.

Jx

  • Images 4, 6, 7, & 9 kindly supplied by the publishers Ryland Peters & Small, taken from the book Made of Wood written by Mark & Sally Bailey and photographed by Debi Treloar

 

When the Week Goes Awry

Some weeks just have you beat, this being one of them.  All my grand plans for my post this week have gone out of the window.  The week started with me having a huge social conscience dilemma and has ended with one too.

I watched the BBC documentary Drowning in Plastic and it caused me great heartache and sadness that turned slightly to helplessness and despair.  I wrote about my thoughts on instagram which caused a large debate, fortunately everyone seemed to be in the same boat as me but I must admit I felt rather drained by it.  The discussions my husband and I had and the endless  research into how else we can reduce our plastic took many hours.  I have also been doing paid work for brands this week that I don’t shout about much. Along with this we decided to completely trash our bathroom.  Making a new bath panel and repainting the floor, eradicating DIY horrors from the previous owners (the bathroom is still not finished). Scrubbing dirt and fixing pipes wasn’t so pleasant.

My second dilemma of conscience came in the form of a fashion brand that launched a new collaborative collection yesterday.  My gorgeous 13 year old daughter Ruby has been waiting patiently for months for a certain dress in the collection in the morning before I had chance to wipe the sleep out of my eyes it was out of stock.  This on top of my conflict about whether I was buying fast fashion for my teenager made me really evaluate my beliefs.   It’s easy for me to buy ethically as I am an adult and I do try to increasingly live in a sustainable way but buying clothes for teenagers is so very difficult.  It bothered me hugely that I had been sucked in by this crass marketing ploy that left me feeling rather confused.

So a big sorry from me for getting this all off my chest, if you have any solutions for me I’d love to hear them.

Jx

 

Designer Jewellery with a Conscience // Sacet

I’m quite partial to jewellery, I’m not into flashy or ostentatious pieces, nor am I fussed about the bling.  I like a well crafted piece that reflects my mood on that day, I do feel rather under dressesd if I forget to wear any.

To be quite honest I really don’t know much about the jewellery industry on a whole so I was fascinated to find out more from SACET.

Their motivation started with the awareness that designer jewellery is extremely expensive and that isn’t down to the cost of materials.  Many brands run very steep profit margins, in most cases the products are bought from factories, where fair pay and working conditions often take a back seat.  In the end its the consumer, crafts people, their communities and the planet that suffer.  SACET set out to find a solution that works, they believe that buying designer jewellery should be a good experience not only for you but knowing that your purchase is also doing good for others.  Their mission is to move the industry forward towards a more sustainable approach, focused on three words: people, planet, profit.

All their pieces are ethically and consciously crafted to a very high standard, it most certainly is jewellery with a purpose. The SACET collections are stunning, there is a collection for everyone from bold statement pieces such as Ornate to the fluid lines of Wave, each piece different from the rest.   What I like about SACET is the transparency from knowing who designed your piece to who made it.  Knowing each stage from start to finish makes owning their jewellery even more special.

The bracelet that I am wearing for this post is so delicate but beautifully made, I usually like big and chunky pieces as you probably all well know but this bracelet looks so elegant and pleasing to the eye, so lightweight that you don’t know you are wearing it like spider silk.  It comes from the Marque collection designed by Andrea Tan who practised her craft at the likes of Shaun Leane before being awarded for her intricate and unique designs by the Goldsmiths Craft and Design Council. Andrea was instantly excited by the challenge posed to her by SACET to create a capsule range for the sophisticated, new millennial.    I think she has most certainly succeeded, the small hoop chain bracelet with its delicate twisted design on a fine chain is crafted from 100% recycled silver with an ethically sourced stone, hand finished in an artisan workshop to reduce their carbon footprint.

If you are as passionate as me about ethical shopping then please do take a look at SACET, they would make wonderful birthday gifts or treats for yourself but knowing you are helping the welfare of the industry and the environment with every purchase is rather a good thing and needs to be applauded from the roof tops.

  • with thanks to SACET for gifting the small hoop chain bracelet for the purpose of this post (Image 7 sourced here)

 

 

 

Make Waste Beautiful with Brabantia

We all need them so why does your household waste bin need to be ugly and something you want to hide?

I’m not lucky enough to have an integral bin hidden away in a fitted cupboard and I didn’t want a nasty cheap looking bin to sit lurking in the corner of my ktichen so I chose something that was aesthetically pleasing and large enough that it only needs emptying once a week.  As a family we try very hard when it comes to waste management, everything is sorted and recycled to the best of our ability, plastic waste has been reduced hugely but sometimes you still need the dustbin for things that just can’t be recycled.

Brabantia waste bins are leaders in modern, contemporary, sustainable waste bins that come in all shapes and sizes but most they all are design led and technologically savvy.   I have my eye firmly on the Bo Touch bin which not only combines beautiful design credentials with easy waste separation with clever removable inner buckets to keep everything in its place.  It is designed to fit perfectly against a wall and with its stylish legs you can clean around it with no hassle.  The plus side is that the design is modern and contemporary coming in a range of colours that make it hard to resist.

Their newIcon pedal bin is greener than ever, these sustainable bins are made of 40% recycled materials and after use 98% of the bin and packaging is recycable how amazing is that.  Not only is this fabulous pedal bin nice to look at it’s green credentials are punching above their weight.  On top of all that for every newIcon pedal bin purchased you will be supporting The Ocean Cleanup helping towards its mission to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.

After choosing the handsomest waste bin to compliment your style and taste you have to empty and clean it, this is one of those jobs you and your spouse bicker about right, who’s turn is it this week!    Instead of using harsh chemical laden concoctions why not use natural ingredients to keep everything clean and smelling rather pleasant.  Bicarbonate of soda removes unpleasant odours.  A spray infused with distilled vinegar and lemon will keep your bin sparkly and clean with no impact on the environment what so ever.

So next time you think a bin is just a bin think again, lets make waste beautiful.

Jx

Images 2, 4 & 6, all others taken my myself or Brabantia

 

Well Being For You and Your Skin // La Eva

Being mindful of how you are living and taking care of your self come hand in hand.  We as a family have been making big changes over many years to be better in our every day lives, reducing waste, being careful in what we buy and where from ,creating a balance that we are comfortable with.  Now I am focusing on my well being through daily exercise and looking after not only what goes in my body but what goes on it.  I am very lucky that what I do brings me into contact with some fascinating people and today I would like to introduce you to LA-EVA who are definitely transforming the way I am going to nourish and look after my skin.

LA-EVA  a juxtaposition of lae.va meaning left of centre and e:va the female name meaning life, living one, mother of life or full of life.  A natural evolution from specialising in cold process soap making in an artisan studio on the edge of a saw mill in Oxfordshire, owner Louise gradually worked on exploring palettes of scents and the care and attention needed to create something beautiful using natural raw ingredients.  Building relationships with farmers, suppliers and the Soil Association along the way.

By bringing in new elements, blending them with inspiration and collaborations with artists works who’s ethereal textured paintings now decorate the amber glass bottles that LA-EVA produce.  Through this creativity ideas were generated and a careful range of products has emerged, beautiful, organic, universal units of well being. All inspired by sensory experiences and a deep love of art.

I couldn’t put it more perfectly than this quote.

‘LA-EVA stems from a spirit of joie de vivre, builds on artisan roots, and aligns naturally with the organic movementLA-EVA comes together where the senses meet skincare, where luxury is aligned with simplicity and where body & mind are treated as one.’

Not only are the bottles extremely beautiful to look at the elixir inside them is wondrous.  I have had the pleasure to sample the Rosēum wash and lotion along with the Jasmīna oil or liquid gold as my friend describes it.  Both scents are intoxicating, you don’t rush when using them, you slow down, breath and enjoy the process of applying these lotions to your skin.  The integrity of caring for yourself and your overall well being in the knowledge that you are also caring for others and the planet is rather a wonderful thing.

The combination of wash and lotion work so well together, the wash leaving your skin deeply, naturally cleansed and the lotion to soften and hydrate the skin nourishing you with the gentle hue orfrose geranium and citrus notes of petitgrain fusing with warm clove awakening the senses.

I think my favourite is the lightweight oil, I never thought oil would work so well but it soaks into your skin leaving behind its wonderful more masculine scent of jasmine, green thyme and warming black pepper.  It is an amber bottle of joy that has many uses, not only hydrating the skin of your face and body but also can be used to nourish dry hair and nails.  Liquid gold indeed, with many talents.

There are two other scents in the collection, Blū which comes in wash and lotion has woody, smoky undertones of cedar and vetivert fused with the herbaceous aroma of chamomile blue a soothing combination offering peace and clarity.   Spīce is the scent available in shampoo and conditioner, with vitalising ginger blending with amber tones of patchouli and the warming aroma of cinnamon leaf, an invigorating treat for your hair and scalp.

The philosophy behind LA-EVA is simple, that delight can be found in everyday experiences and self care.  Their products are units of well being and recognise that they link body and mind via a sensory pathway.

I wholeheartedly agree with everything LA-EVA are achieving and urge you to take a look and try some of their beautiful, organic, universal units of well being, you’ll thank me for it.

Jx

  • with thanks to LA-EVA for gifting the products that made this post possible.

 

 

The Wood House

Every now and then you come across a store that stops you in your tracks.  This happened to me earlier this year when I discovered The Wood House.  The owner Kirstie and I struck up a friendship through good old instagram, we have many things in common especially the love of interiors and clothes!

So if you haven’t come across this delicious store through social media or the internet then let me introduce you, I know like me you are not going to be able to resist.  Welcome to The Wood House the on line store where you can find beautifully curated home and lifestyle goods all with a natural hand crafted touch in a simple colour palette that makes me want to purchase every single thing.

I asked Kirstie how The Wood House came to be and this was her reply.

“For as long as I can remember I have had a passion for interiors, architecture and generally lovely things.

I studied interiors for a while and thought that my career would at some point take me into it in some shape or form.

I opened a little shop in Somerset fifteen years ago selling fireplaces and wood burners and it was always a dream to offer an interior design service. Having a busy life with a shop and children this never really came to fruition so I continued living my dream through renovating our 16th century home and helping friends with their home interiors.

This really has brought me to where I am now and in November I decided to make my dream happen and open a little on line store selling a selection beautifully curated home and lifestyle goods.

The wood house is evolving all the time and naturally progressed into selling mainly products that are natural and hand crafted with muted tones throughout.

I buy what I love and would have in my own home which makes buying for the wood house a real pleasure.”

What resonates with me the most is Kirstie only buys items that she loves and would have and use in her own home, knowing everything is curated with thought is something I admire and one of the reasons why each product compliments the next so very well all in the tones and colour palette that I adore, soft muted calming hues.  Also as you all know by now I am passionate about hand crafted sustainable pieces for my home and each and everyone that you can purchase from The Wood House is just that.  From the natural skin care products such as Grown Alchemist and Magic Organic Apothecary to candles by The Nomad Society through to hand made raw clay glazed beakers hand made in small batches in Wales, The Tea Lab teas and organic chocolate to cutting garden seed packets by Grace Alexander.  There are stunning textural handwoven hemp rugs to chunky knit lambswool throws and cushions to reclaimed unique one off pieces. Once you have created your haven of peace and calm you can even purchase tranquil reading material such as In Clover and Cereal magazine.

I am lucky enough to have been sent a care package of sorts filled with all the things I love and will treasure, hand cream, tea, beaker, seeds, In Clover magazine and a sample of the delicious chocolate.  They would all make perfect gifts for the ones you love, who cherish the simpler kinder way of life, those who make time to slow down and nourish by surrounding ourselves with beautiful things that fulfil our everyday.

So please do call in and say hi to The Wood House, its a rather lovely place to browse for a while, new stock is arriving all the time and the owner is just fabulous.

Jx

  • With thanks to The Wood House for gifting the pieces for this post.  You can find them on instagram here or click on the link above to take you to the store.

 

 

 

The Perfect Night Sleep with Leesa

I think you all know by now that I love my bed. I like being asleep, I like sitting with a cup of coffee first thing in the morning waking up slowly, and on a weekend spend hours sat there watching the clouds out of the window or reading books.  So yes I really really do love my bed.

I’m quite lucky when it comes to sleep simply because I can get to sleep very quickly and stay asleep most of the night for at least 7-8 hours; annoying right?   I do think that routine is a big factor. I stop work at 6pm, eat a healthy home cooked meal most evenings, relax and unwind in a warm bath, ignore all technology in the evenings and often read a while before sleep, usually I’ll be in bed before 10pm and never have mobiles or laptops in the room.  Simple things really that are conducive to switching off and relaxing before bed.   I’m also a stickler for preparing for the next day, clothes ready and everything tidy so there is no running around like a crazy thing in the morning!

All this aside you can do all of the above and still not get a good night sleep if your mattress is wrong, get that bit right too and slumber is guaranteed.  Our old mattress was getting up to its recommended change date of 8 years (it was still in good condition so we donated it to the British Heart Foundation rather than put it in landfill).   I have heard many good things about the Leesa mattress not only on the comfort front but their environmental credentials too, so was rather excited to give it a whirl to see if it makes any difference to my sleeping.

Firstly can I tell you when the box arrived I was quite astounded that something that will go on your bed can possibly fit into it.  It’s a lot easier carrying a box up stairs than negotiating every corner and trying not to cause any damage to the house or yourself in the process.  Positioning the compressed roll is quick and easy then it’s the fun bit, slicing open the packaging and watching the Leesa mattress appear before your eyes, truly amazing.  I made a little video for you to see how darn easy it really is.

Now for the techy bit which is also rather fascinating. The Leesa mattress was designed to help you get a better night’s sleep, what makes it different from others on the market is the top layer of Avena foam.  It is a responsive material that allows airflow through the mattress for a cooler night’s sleep and provides just the right amount of bounce for freedom of movement.  There are two more layers in the unique combination of foam that make up these mattresses. Joining the Avena are memory foam and support foam which adapts to your body providing optimum support and comfort.  All the mattresses are also made in the UK and not shipped in from abroad.

The next important factor and another reason I wanted to get involved with Leesa is their ethical programme.  If you are not happy with your purchase the mattress can be returned within a 100 day period and will be donated to a local charity.  Their One-Ten programme also donates one mattress from every 10 sold and the One Earth programme sees a tree planted for every mattress sold to help off set their carbon footprint.   All of this is exceptionally close to my heart and highly commended.

So after all that information the big question, did I sleep well?   The answer is a rather resounding yes.  I can’t tell you how comfortable it is, you feel like you are lying on a cloud that supports every curve, not an ache anywhere when I woke in the morning.  The down side is that you really don’t want to get up when the alarm goes off its simply too good!

Jx

  • with thanks to Leesa for providing the mattress for the purpose of this post

 

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

 

 

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

Freight

If you’ve ever visited the East Sussex town of Lewes you’ll know that it hosts many stylish independent stores, ones that you won’t find on every high street.  I love the diversity that Lewes has, it is a beautiful place to visit.
One of these stores is Freight,  a favourite of mine not only because the products that they sell are exceptional and work perfectly with my pared back style, but the atmosphere created is one of calm, like spending time in a friends home.  Also I never leave empty handed, the well curated house-hold goods are exquisite and I really can’t resist having them in my own home.  They have an on line store too, perfect for when you are wanting that unique item that only Freight can deliver.
I had a chat with owner Helene who runs the store with her daughter Adele about how Freight came to be.
Helen previously had a shop in Lewes called ADAMCZEWSKI that she opened in 1999.  With similar principals to those Freight has now, the shop was all about finding useful things for the home that weren’t so easy to find pre-internet days. She sold products such as string, brushes and ceramics; anything that worked with the shops ethos with it’s own classic style. This chapter closed in 2010 to explore greener pastures.
 Fate took a guiding hand and in 2014 the shop which Helene still owned   became unexpectedly vacant again just before the Christmas period.  Helene’s daughter Adele thought it would be wrong to just leave it empty and sad looking due to it’s prominent position on the high street.  An opportunity not to be missed they quickly put together a temporary store naming it POPINSKI,  partly in homage to the old shop that had previously been there and the fact it definitely was a pop up.
 Having worked so hard to set up the temporary store full of new products they found themselves discussing and analysing the nature of shop keeping. They came to the conclusion that just filling shops from trade fairs was a bit boring and that the more interesting and challenging route to take would be to design and commission their own products by working with makers and manufacturers. They wanted a collection that would stand the test of time and that would be an ongoing response to how they wanted the collection to grow.  Recently they have added a knitwear collection which couldn’t have been further from the original concept but after meeting with some knitters and really liking  the Shetland yarn they used, they were inspired to trial it.   A decision well made as the knitwear has proven to be rather popular and Freight are now in the process of adding to the current collection. 
  It’s also so important to this dynamic Mother and daughter team that they are not designing for design’s sake. Freight products have to be functional, durable and of a very high quality.  They follow no one else’s rules, don’t follow trends or the latests fad fashions and subsequently their stock change is of a slower nature.  
This is why I love them, you know what you are investing in when you buy anything from Freight. I cherish the items I have, all of which enhance my home enormously. Simple earthenware storage jars made in Stoke on Trent, Spanish boxwood carbon steel knives that are sharpened by hand using artisanal techniques established by the original founders, a deliciously scented soy wax candle with scents from narratives drafted and worked on with a perfumer, making them unique to Freight.
 I can’t recommend this beautiful store to you highly enough, if you get the chance to pay a visit and experience it yourself then all the better but for now do drop in on line to see their wonderful products, I know your shopping basket won’t stay empty for long.
 *  with thanks to Freight for letting me put this post together. Product photography by Susan Bell and Benedict Stenning

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.

 

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