Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Downtime with Denby Pottery

 





Downtime, computer sleeping, phone switched to Airplane Mode...

You don't have to ask me twice to take some mindful time out, in fact, this is now an established feature of my daily routine - call it 'medicinal rituals' if you will. This doesn't necessarily mean you'll find me contorted into a sequence of tricky Yoga poses every day (although it has been known), merely it's about enjoying the simple things for periods of time each day. 

As a professional collector and curator of 'things' my downtime will usually feature a cup of something warm and comforting whilst I potter, rearrange or 'faff' with some of my favourite homeware, because this is my 'thing' and it calms me. I guess you could say that my years spent working as an Interior Stylist has been a therapy of sorts.

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to get my hands on some quintessential British homeware to incorporate into my homely meditations courtesy of Denby, a British brand steeped in history and currently writing a new chapter with a handcrafted Porcelain collection lovingly made in England and designed to last.

I've been reading up and the Denby Porcelain Collection includes four designs featuring Denby's unique glazing techniques. The subtly textured mugs and highly versatile serving platter featured here on Brit Decor are from the Arc White range. There's something about a tactile & textural mug which I cannot resist  - is anyone else with me on this? I also love the way the light gently captures the arc texture of the platter, especially good when adorned with my homemade nut butter cookies, but enough of those.












Downtime gently placed to one side, it's now time to switch things up as I head back to my cosy desk 'nook' which is set within a very old fireplace in our hallway - I definitely opted out of a 'standard' office space here! This isn't to say the creative fun is over, I've merely switched things up with the help of my new Denby accessories...

The Arc White platter has now become a textural desk tidy with the addition of a Modern Deco tumbler, also by Denby, which adds a moody blue accent to my desk-scape in the form of a pen/pencil tidy, along with another obligatory coffee in my Arc White mug.

I guess the underlying point here is that how we utilise our time can be just as versatile as the objects we incorporate into our work and play routines. 

For more info about this beautiful range of versatile porcelain homeware you can visit www.denbypottery.com and there will be a very special giveaway over on my Instagram page!





All images property of Studio Mike Ahern


















Saturday, 15 January 2022

2022 is looking colour-rich

 





Top right, Betsy Smith, Graphenstone Colour Consultant



In my line of work I frequently use the term 'hues make a home' because in the same way in which we might choose a particular colour or style of clothing to express who we are, dressing our homes in colour can serve as a very personal mirror reflection. An informed choice of paint colour will make an impactful personal statement.

As someone who not only works in the interior design industry but is also openly obsessed with paint as a past-time, I often find myself pouring over (did you see what I did there!?) the latest paint collections for on-point trends, inspiration and new colour concoctions. 

Despite the growing multitude of paint brands available today, choosing one doesn't have to be complicated...I tend to only seek out those companies who can demonstrate a high quality product (trust me these are so much easier to apply to your walls and really do give a superior finish) and of course sustainability is also key. Graphenstone is definitely one of those brands with some rather impressive credentials - made from natural elements without any nasty chemicals and all packaging is 100% recyclable. 

Graphenstone's colour consultant, the talented Betsy Smith, adds her take on meaningful interior decorating. "A successful interior should have soul and personality. Environments are becoming increasingly multi-sensory as we long for and embrace the restorative properties of nature - natural textures and strong colours that reduce stress and create calmness and clarity of thought". 

The Spring / Summer collection of hues by Graphenstone are intended to easily partner with the 'beauty and honesty' of natural materials and enhance our experience of home through their earthy affinity with natural materials.

Betsy has compiled some beautiful key colour combinations 'below' and I would love to know if you have a favourite? I'm particularly smitten with Bengal!



Whisper (walls) and Duck Egg (panelling) chairs from The Conran Shop



Walls in Dijon and door in Grape


Damask (wall) and Persimmon (square)


Lovat (walls) and Bengal (doors) 


Lovat (walls) and Bengal (doors)
                                             

*This is not a sponsored post. All images Graphenstone / Byrne Comms








Thursday, 9 December 2021

Festive Forage

 





Festive Forage has an 'easy' tone doesn't it? It also aptly captures the gentler approach I've opted for this Christmas along with other fellow advocates of the 'slow living' movement. 

Rather than expend a load of energy battling crowds of shoppers and spending unnecessary £££ on off-the-shelf decorations I may or may not need, this year I chose to head out into the great outdoors and forage for our Christmas decor here at the cottage. What I couldn't find outside I either made (cue the faithful 3D paper gems) or rummaged through our existing decorations.  

This time last year we were sitting on a knife edge of 'will we, won't we' complete on our house sale and purchase so there was little time or headspace for Christmas decoration, especially as we eventually moved one week before the big day. 

I knew I wanted our fireplace to play a starring role in this year's festive styling (every cosy cottage stereotype intended) but I also wished to avoid the temptation to go for a classic mantel garland, this year at least, and so I looked to our Farrow & Ball adorned beams for inspiration.

Surrounded by countryside it didn't take long for my forage to bear fruit, or a branch at least, which I suspended from the ceiling using some nordic inspired decorative twine. I then began the easy construction of some 3D paper gems in copper, silver and pearl finishes - I love how these appear to serenely float in mid-air.

A few more foraged twigs be-jewelled with the same decorations and dotted around the house in earth toned vases, plus some Holly sprigs freshly cut from the garden, and we're good to go.

Here's to an easier Christmas.
























All photography property of Mike Ahern








Tuesday, 12 October 2021

New Artwork Reveal



It feels a little like a 'Transformation Tuesday' moment here at our Welsh hilltop home today. We've been here for 10 months and the white washed stone wall in our dining room has been crying out for a focal point, but you just can't rush these things, right?

My initial design priorities for this space was to create some banquette seating (for seating and storage) and then whipping up some made-to-measure cushions and choosing wall paint treatments, whilst keeping an eye out for the perfect artwork.

This is the point at which The Future Mapping Company came onto my creative radar. Who knew that maps could be so beautiful?  To confess I've always been rather obsessed with horoscopes, "which star sign are you?" is a question you'll often hear me ask - so it seemed only fitting to opt for The Constellations.

Intricately illustrated with original 17th Century illustrations by Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius, the artwork depicts all of the creatures and characters that inspired us to identify the constellations. Add into the mix some striking fluoro detailing for a contemporary twist, midnight blue and shimmering metallics, and we now have a stunning focal point for our dining space, not to mention a prime talking point too.

Warning: Now I have the perfect excuse to quiz dinner guests over their star sign! 





 All images / Mike Ahern / This is not a sponsored post



Wednesday, 6 October 2021

New Project: Coastal Airbnb






It seems a smidgen strange to be writing about holidays on a stormy Autumnal day. However, there's no skirting around the subject for today's post so I'm just going to go for it! 

For those of you who don't know about my work outside of Brit Decor, I've been busily launching a new service under my Studio Mike Ahern business after relocating to the West coast of Wales and dealing with all of those initial 'nesting' issues, to put it mildly!

Since settling in and exploring, one of the key observations I've made is a.) the key importance of tourism in the area and b.) the lack of holiday lets suited to the interiors savvy tourist *deep sigh*.

I'm sure many of us would confess to at least one holiday where we settled for less than ideal decor just to secure a sea view? In reality we shouldn't have to compromise aesthetic over location, but we do, despite soaring holiday rental costs.

As well as my 'regular' interior design clients, I've been reaching out to holiday let owners to see if we can work a little interiors magic to enable their accommodation to stand out for all of the right reasons. (A little side note, I also offer a social media and photography staging service for maximising the holiday 'brand').

So without further faffing, I'm really thrilled to share a completed guest Airbnb scheme which I've been working on recently. 

I consulted with the client in detail about including all of those important coastal references but without a glaringly clichéd result, instead something more relaxed and subtle, focussing on mood and the finer details.

Farrow & Ball's Purbeck Stone, a calming and easy neutral seemed the perfect choice as the base colour for this room. Wishing to put a more memorable stamp on the scheme, I opted for a feature wallpaper with calming waves which elevates the space. White washed floorboards topped with a cosy pure wool rug radiate cosy coastal vibes, whilst locally sourced coastal lino print artworks add authenticity. 

For this project I kept pops of colour to an absolute minimum for an ultimately restful escape, with the exception of a gorgeous two-tone throw to evoke a sense of the nearby ocean.

I hope you've enjoyed today's little share!  

 























Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Brit Decor: Master Bedroom Makeover











Hands up if you are currently locked-down and lusting after home decor + DIY projects that you never thought you'd have the time for? *Both hands raised here*

Approximately two and a half years ago, as part of a sponsored collaboration, I applied a feature mural to our master bedroom wall, which I've loved ever since. However, there was always going to be a 'shelf life' to the mural as the bedroom is south facing with two windows which allows the sun to pour in from multiple angles (south & west) with an inevitable bleaching effect. As a result the mural had recently begun to look a little tired, and the once gorgeous grey tones had taken on a slightly faded and greener shade - cue a lockdown inspired re-think!

For this totally inexpensive makeover I wanted to incorporate a new hue from our extensive collection of opened paint tins in the garage (are you one of those people too?) for a pop of colour to lift the existing grey scheme without re-painting the entire room. The final colour choice would have to either pair or 'pop' with our cobalt blue HAY chair, situated to the right of the bed.

After painting a handful of cardboard sample squares, including Black Heron and School House White, I opted for Dead Salmon by Farrow & Ball. It's a rich pink grey/brown otherwise known as a 'buff neutral' which already blankets our living room in a dreamy calm hug of warmth. As the bedroom is a much lighter space, I wanted to accentuate the light further with a half-painted feature wall pairing Dead Salmon with a crisp white.

The neutral components of Dead Salmon work beautifully with the surrounding grey walls and the pinky tone empowers the HAY chair to provide a contrasting twist. During the midday sun the feature wall takes on an elevated warmth whilst the evenings sees it transformed into a more tranquil space.

Mission makeover complete!












































All images / Copyright Mike Ahern

Friday, 3 April 2020

Brit Decor: Lockdown First Aid















If, before recent world events unfolded, anyone had suggested to me that we would all be asked to remain at home for several weeks, possibly months, I probably would have whooped at the idea of all those hours of quality nesting time, and trust me I am one hell of a nester! However, skip forward to the very real present and it all seems a little different...

It's clear that many of us will be searching for, or will have already found, our own tools to deal with this surreal situation. Like millions of other stranded human beings I was very quick to engage with video calls to family & friends, despite it being a medium I've always shied away from. Again, to my surprise this has proved to be a major source of comfort and connection in what became a physically disconnected world almost overnight. 

But away from the tech I still found myself missing some kind of connection with reality, perhaps anxious thoughts were clouding my usually grounded nature? So I began to think of simple ways to distract & comfort.

After rummaging through some of my many 'bits 'n bobs' packed away in cupboards and nooks I decided to piece together a capsule collection of useful but also mindful objects, easily accessible and able to administer instant calm.

My handy little quilted HAY zipper case is very soft and tactile and seemed like the perfect starting point to house my lockdown goodies. Part of my stay at home therapy has included lots of 'making' and so I've whipped up a completely natural scented balm to promote calm & uplift the senses at the same time. There is also a very handy little bottle of hand sanitiser made with essential oils and Aloe Vera, with a dash of Vodka!

Ever the organised geek, I'm always making to-do lists on my phone, but for the purpose of mindfulness and the temptation to look at the BBC news App, I'm using this Greek notebook I picked up in Crete, a trip which holds many happy memories and, personally, I find the process of scribbling away to-do notes onto paper very therapeutic - in comes the HAY pencil with gold lid for a touch of luxury!

With all this extra time on my hands I have also found myself reading up on various topics a lot more, so handy mini post-it notes are a must-have tool for me to bookmark recipes, articles etc. And if I need to relax a little more, I keep a constantly updated art postcard to remind me of my creative roots. 

I've no doubt that the entire contents of my lockdown First Aid kit, even the HAY case, will soon be switched in order to keep up my interest levels!



























All photos / Mike Ahern

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Brit Decor: Tools of the Trade / ColoReader Review










Boy is it frustrating when you just have to know the official colour of a particular hue, but no amount of colour cards from your favourite purveyors of paint can identify a true match!? Well I have been there and it's not a happy place - Cue a welcome email from from the folk at datacolor, asking me if I would like to review their professional colour matching tool which goes by the name of ColoReader

Whilst I've learned to live in this predominantly technical world, I would not describe myself as being particularly adept when it comes to gadgets, but nonetheless I braced myself for a mind boggling learning curve when this neat little package arrived in the post...

How wrong was I!? The ColoReader (just under 7cm in length) is stupendously easy to use - I literally downloaded the app onto my iPhone, switched on the reader and laid it on top of my first colour surface. Within seconds an exact colour match, along with some near matches, appeared on my phone screen. 

From there the App allowed me to co-ordinate colours, suggesting complimentary shades and it also enabled me to name and build my own palettes, complete with note-making facility. You can view the easy steps to identifying colour via the photos & screen shots below. 

This is actually quite the perfect little pocket tool for accompanying me on my travels and from now on, I won't be wasting time scrambling for those colour charts. If you would like to find out more about the ColoReader, you can visit the website by clicking here.


  
































All images / Mike Ahern


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