Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Brit Decor: Palette/ Split Conscience Combo

Images / 1/ Mike Ahern 2/ Desire to Inspire 3/ Elding Oscarson 4/ Aura Home

Whilst creating a post for Brit Decor, it's not often that I laugh out loud but I have to admit that this palette really did make me do just that! I should explain - in thinking about the relationship between white and red, I managed to conjure up images of the old fashioned cartoon-stlyle characters; a red devil resting on one shoulder and an innocent white angel on the other, both wrestling over a person's conscience. Cartoons aside, the relationship between these two colours has often been of a symbolic nature with white symbolising purity and peace, whilst red is recognised for it's sinfully seductive warmth.

However, cartoon related anecdotes and stereotypes aside, red & white really do make for a striking colour palette in fashion and interiors. Think of the iconic barber shop or a classic Parisian cafe and you can see why this combo really works and is so deeply embedded in the colour matched world around us. 

One of the things I love the most about interior trends is their ability to adapt, evolve and reinvent. The red & white palette is a great example of this - whites can be replaced with chalky greys which accentuate the heat of the red and in turn this teases out the warmth of the greys without compromising on the contrast.  

The easiest way of achieving this look is to apply the white as a base colour, then introduce reds through accessorising and accenting. I have selected some of my favourite picks below - happy hunting my friends.

1/ Sonoro GoNewYork portable wireless speaker £119 Amara 2/ Brockley Cross cushion £65 Clippings 3/ Pantone stapler (Tomato 1660) £8 Bloomsbury 4/ Tarvine wallpaper £148 House of Hackney 5/ Lane twin tone lampshade £65 Lane 6/ Jean Paul Gaultier reversible laque cushion £110 Amara

Friday, 25 July 2014

Brit Decor: Makes/ Cupboard Love Jars

All images/ Mike Ahern

Isn't it a great feeling when you turn a page in a book or magazine and there, right in front of you, jumps out a huge dose of inspiration? This pretty much summed up my own experience recently whilst I was perusing a 'Summer Homestyle' pull-out from Mollie Makes magazine, which featured a series of painted jam jars created by Hollie Becker from Decor8 and Leslie Shewring

I can still vividly picture the chalky collection of candy store-like colours married to the glossy-effect of the outer glass. Of course the real beauty is you can choose any size or colour whilst mixing and matching your way to accessory heaven. This is also a very eco-friendly way of recycling those unwanted food jars, hence the 'cupboard love' title of today's post; take an unwanted object, give it some love and create your very own unique interior accessory.

Naturally I had to include a touch of grey in my own trio of jars, which also happens to be my favourite one. I love the chalkiness of the grey - perfect for showing off some of those richer coloured flowers. This neutral-chic colour also looks great as a standalone object for those minimalist areas in the home - perhaps try mixing up a chalky white jar for the perfect partnering! 

Here I have used my jars to display some favourite florals from my cottage garden but I can also envisage at least one of these being used as a chic desk tidy!

How do you indulge in your own cupboard love project? With truly minimal effort! Choose a jar, simply wash it out thoroughly and add a drop of your chosen paint colour. Roll the paint around gently in the jar until the inner glass is completely coated then tip out any excess paint and leave to dry (this can take several days). 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Brit Decor: Into the Quiet Zone

Images (from the top) 1/ Sean Fennessy / The Design Files  2/ Houzz 3/ Casatreschic

After a ferociously noisy start to the previous weekend with angry electrical storms booming around the UK, I seemed inclined to gravitate towards some peace and solitude in the days that followed. In reality, many of us need some quiet time at various intervals, whether this is to escape from a stressful day at work or simply chill.

I tend to get my fix of calm in the solace of our cottage garden during the Summer months but I also see the importance of creating a 'quiet zone' of calm and tranquility in the home, somewhere for me to escape and relax, an uncomplicated design with plenty of pale neutral - my very own Switzerland!

I love the idea of a fuss-free kitchen like the one above, I imagine it would feel like working on a blank canvas with plenty of room for a clear head - perfect for dreaming up new recipes for Brit Decor Bakes! I'm a huge advocate of using open shelving in kitchens, its a great way of displaying your favourite crockery and glassware.

Simple monochromatic detailing can also be an effective tool for adding definitive detailing but for your quiet zone, keep it to a minimum adding flash points of contrast. Simple black & white stripes or a graphic black font on a print can bring just the right amount of interest to a scheme, without over-complicating, like this stunning bedroom in image two (above).

The third image shows us how a quiet zone can also become a centrepiece; an oasis of calm against a bustling Manhattan backdrop, in this instance. Try forming a cluster of neutral-coloured objects, light pendants, vases, etc in one area for interest and focus but go easy on numbers and don't over do it!

Check out some of my top 'get the look' picks below - it's a close call but I think my absolute favourite has to be the watercolour dreamy blue '1815' mug from Royal Doulton. Which is yours?

Shopping list: 1/ Long Olive wood chopping board £29.95 Handpicked Collection 2/ 'Do Small Things' poster £50 The White Company 3/ 1815 Blue mug £6 Royal Doulton 4/ Three Six Five single date calendar $20 ebay 5/ Kitson stool (set of 2) £89 Made 6/ 'Rest' cushion £83 Skandium

Friday, 18 July 2014

Brit Decor: Bakes/ Rocky Roads

All images / Mike Ahern

Sometimes it's too hard to resist whipping up a treat when all you have to do is follow the simplest of recipes, right? Rocky Roads are often my naughty snack of choice when I'm having one of those 'cupboard love' moments - rooting around in my kitchen cupboards looking for spare sugary ingredients. This is such an incredibly versatile treat too because you can add or subtract the ingredients that you like or don't, such as nuts, cherries or raisins, but the end result is always the same; a chewy crunchy workout for the mouth!

For this version I have broken the ingredients down to the minimum, just how I like it, but I'd love to hear how you like your Rocky Roads...

125g Unsalted butter
200g Digestive biscuits
300g Milk chocolate
150g Mini-marshmallows
A sprinkle of Icing sugar for dusting

How to make:
Melt the chocolate and the butter in a pan. Meanwhile, place the digestive biscuits into a small bag and beat with a rolling pin (you don't need fine crumbs, broken chunks are perfect). Slowly add the biscuit pieces and the marshmallows to the melted chocolate mixture.

Tip the entire mixture into a small tray or baking dish lined with greaseproof paper and place in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. Finally remove from the fridge and dust with icing sugar.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Brit Decor: Plant life - A new dimension

All images  / Plantillo

With the current rage for adding a touch of Co2 into our homes with the architectural elegance of succulent plants, no wonder that this range of incredible 3D effect cushions from Plantillo caught my eye recently.

These captivating designs are the brainchild of Sabine Herrmann in sunny California, who uses her photography skills to firstly capture a piece of nature before transforming each image into a cotton canvas cushion.  The entire range is made to order and available from Plantillo's Etsy store - I really can't decide which is my favourite - can you?

One thing I am sure of is that these cushions are perfect for adding that very special kind of wow factor to any room.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Brit Decor: Weekend/ #Internationalairtattoo

All images / Mike Ahern

Planes on Brit Decor? Well just this once because I couldn't resist sharing my first ever viewing of the Red Arrows in a blaze of red white and blue at the International Air Tattoo during the weekend. I also love the iconic red, white and blue palette in these photos.

Following an invite from friends, this was my first ever air show at Fairford and I was unsure what to expect. I possibly even felt a tiny bit 'geeky' about attending but those thoughts were quickly obliterated the moment I saw the first aircraft skilfully manoeuvring its way through the sky above me amidst gasps from the crowds.

I can only describe the deafening roar of the fighter jets that followed, as they sliced their way through the sky overhead, as totally awesome. Perhaps predictably, the absolute highlight of the show (strawberry ice cream aside) had to be the Red Arrows with their supreme mid-air wizardry and iconic plumes of red white and blue smoke trailing behind them like colourful ribbons. Watching these guys actually gave me goose bumps in what was a very patriotic moment.

I hope that whatever you did over the weekend, it was awesome too!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Brit Decor: Travels/ On a Canal Boat #2

 All images / Mike Ahern

So I'm back from a week on a narrow boating holiday in North Wales along the famous Llangollen canal. And I was definitely in good company with @simonwatsonpt, @micholoughlin, @rbreid1 and Rolo the adorable Dachshund.  We had all been contemplating a very relaxing slow-paced break, blissfully cruising along beautiful canals, which admittedly did happen, however, I don't think that any of us were prepared for the sheer hard work involved; mooring, navigating, cooking, negotiating locks, narrow boat traffic jams, and a magnificent aqueduct. In short, we all came home utterly exhausted and I was so glad to see my own bed again!

Our home for the week, a 60ft narrow boat was modestly decorated with few creature comforts, although the gas oven and heated shower were gratefully received by all. Anticipating this, before embarking on our holiday I had made sure to pack a few of my own home comforts such as a pillow (to add to those already provided), some of my favourite scent and a book 'My Greek Island Home', which I have been meaning to complete for such a long time, also its fresh blue and white cover brought a welcome splash of colour and pattern to my cabin.

Of course, in terms of my wardrobe for the week it could only be nautical stripes for me all the way, in fact, I wasn't aware just how many stripy T's I had until I began packing for the trip! However, my stripes were no match for Rolo's mini doggie life jacket, which pretty much stole the show all week and I can confirm that I now have a Sausage dog crush too.

Speaking of crushes, it feels so go to be back at the cottage again - Home sweet home.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Brit Decor: Previews/ Habitat AW14 Collection

All images / Habitat 

I think anyone who regularly reads my blog will know that I am a huge fan of Habitat, and I always have been. I just seem to have a natural tendency to fall in love with the majority (but not quite all) of their design-led products. I even still proudly own some of their accessories from as far back as the 1990s. However, today is all about looking forward, to Autumn/Winter to be precise, with some key looks for next season (I love to plan ahead, don't you?).

Available in-store from September, this collection has a strong leaning towards vibrant warming colours - perfect for when those colder temperatures kick in. There's also some of my favourite style ingredients such as coppers (for that shiny luxe-look) glowing walnut woods for warmth and texture and defined geometric shapes, not to mention some awesome chunky knit textiles - I really do need to learn how to knit!

Creative Director at Habitat, Polly Dickens, explains that the design team focussed on the concept of 'variations' through an exploration of different materials and shapes, and how these can be playfully put together, fragmented, assembled and then re-assembled.

 I don't like to will away time but I really can barely wait for September when I know there are design treats like this on the horizon...

I'd love to know what you think of the new collection?

Friday, 4 July 2014

Brit Decor: Makes/ Origami Lampshade

All images / Mike Ahern

I've concluded that one of the financial perils of being a creative is the constant desire to create, style and then re-style my home on a regular basis. However, my bank manager will be pleased to learn that these makeovers are usually small and involve minimal but highly effective changes, which nonetheless create a big impact. 

Therefore, it came as absolutely no surprise to my other half when I announced my latest project; to re-vamp our home study (I think he's come to accept that this is the way I roll). For some time I have been feeling the urge to introduce a high energy colour wall to inspire and get my creative juices soaring whilst I'm rooted at my desk, and I think I've found my perfect colour-match! So over the next few weeks I will be sharing some simple 'make' projects and then incorporating these into the final room design.   

Accessories are a great way of achieving a fresh new look and I am increasingly finding that projects I can make myself offer a huge amount of satisfaction and self-reward. I decided to kick-off the design and make process with an origami light shade from a template in my favourite crafting book, Mini Eco by Kate Lilley - Can you remember my attempt at Kate's Geo-pots?

Getting the right shade is crucial for this particular scheme because like so many rooms, the light fitting is central and framed by the doorway as you look into the room, so it's imperative that I get this right. Whilst the measuring and scoring part of the origami making process was relatively easy, the careful folding of the card was rather fiddly, however, the frustration soon faded away when the paper structure finally concertinaed into its final and beautiful shape.

In order to keep the design and look of the shade as simple as possible, I opted for the moody  coloured 'Elephant Grey' electrical cable (pictured above) from HFS Specialities Ltd on eBay, which creates a very simple contrast with the off-white card. Be sure to use either an LED bulb or a maximum of 11 Watt bulb with this shade. Now I just can't wait to plough on with the rest of the redesign!

I would love to hear from you if you've recently made any Oragmi, was it challenging?

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Brit Decor: Travels/ On a canal boat

Image / Mike Ahern

I am about to set off on a short break with @simonwatsonpt, two dear friends and a Sausage dog! To elaborate a little further, we're all going on a canal boat holiday in Llangollen, North Wales. 

I have packed a selection of nautical striped clothing (how could I not?) plenty of my favourite navy blues and the famous cobalt shoes (Zara Man). There will of course be the obligatory boat themed notebook for jotting down inspiration (Paperchase) and I couldn't resist this cute little note card from Rifle Paper Co.

Apart from a brief day trip on a canal boat in 2013, I have no idea what to expect from this holiday. Between you and me, there are one or two reservations playing around in the back of mind, not least  'will there be a phone signal?' but hey, signal downtime is not always a bad thing. Because of the remoteness of this holiday destination, I'm going to have to face the challenge of shifting down a gear and quite literally letting the world sail by with oodles of time for relaxing, eating and friendship, which can only be a good thing.

So I'll do my best to post some holiday pics and updates via instagram depending on my phone signal, and there are one or two exciting posts coming to these pages whilst I'm away.

Miss you already guys!

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