Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Brit Decor: Pastel Perfection

Images (from top) 1+2/ H&M Home 3/ Dulux 4/ Ferm Living

I am thrilled that pastels are still riding high on the interior waves this year - as one of my all time favourite palettes, this look is surprisingly versatile and in 2015 we can totally immerse ourselves in a candy shop selection of pastel pinks, sherbet oranges, pale mints and chalky greys - to name but a few. So today I have the perfect pastel palette in my sights!

I tend to view the pastel 'look' as one of the easier styles to replicate at home, with a very simplified approach we can lap-up this soothing yet energised palette in no time at all. Pick a pale neutral base colour (greys work extremely well) and apply coloured pastel tones liberally, like this classic Kensington Rose pink emulsion from Mylands (no.5), paired for perfection with Mini Modern's Pale Verdigis (no.6).

To add focal points to a pastel scheme, I find that incorporating pattern, especially geometrics, really hits the spot like these stunning chalky striped tiles from Bert & May (no.4 below) and the eye-catching Jasmin geometric rug from Woven Ground - for that high-contrast in textures.

For added structure, I like to see the incorporation of natural woods, if only in glimpses, as a warming partner to the pastel tones. The Hello floor lamp from Normann Copenhagen (no.9) is perfect for this, whilst the darker grey ensures that this piece will not get lost in the crowd, and again, this provides a strong focal point.

Moving towards the more energetic end of the pastel scale, check out the angled design of this super-sweet cushion (no.8), also from Normann Copehagen. These colours will work beautifully with the washed Peony fabric on Loaf's fab Berlin armchair - for an irresistibly fun look.

In terms of artwork, black and white prints work well in this setting but your scheme will be even better rewarded if you can bag some melt-in-your-mouth pastel prints like this retro-style Koenig Shulman print from Tom Pigeon (no.1).

So this is how we perfect the pastel look - has it tickled your fancy?

1/ Koenig Shulman print £65 Tom Pigeon 2/ Berlin armchair in Peony £795 Loaf 3/ Duvet cover set £19.99 H&M 4/ Light grey Salon tile £6.80 per tile Bert & May 5/ Kensington Rose emulsion (from) £4 Mylands 6/ Pale Verdigris emulsion £30 Mini Moderns 7/ Jasmine Rug £645 Woven Ground 8/ Angle cushion Rose $100 Normann Copenhagen 9/ Hello floor lamp $830 Normann Copenhagen 10/ Woven blanket £14.99 H&M

Friday, 20 February 2015

Brit Decor: Bakes/ Rocky Road Doughnuts

All images / Mike Ahern

There is just something so cheerful and comforting about doughnuts. These sugary gems take me back to days spent at the British seaside - the sweet smell of freshly cooked doughnuts for sale in painted wooden huts on the seafront, or temptingly lined up alongside fluffy pink candy floss at the fairground. I love to reminisce!

I was recently asked to reveal the contents of my coffee table for an article (more to come on this soon) and one of the things I included was my 'food of the moment'; a doughnut. Although it's not one of the healthiest food items I could have chosen (that's an understatement), doughnuts have always been a favourite 'pick-me-up' treat of mine, and who can deny that the glazed and icing topped versions look particularly fun and vibrant.

In technical terms, the doughnuts I am sharing with you today are not, strictly speaking, Rocky Roads, due to the lack of crunchy ingredients, however, the flavouring is very much there - thanks to my recent discovery of Whittard's Rocky Road hot chocolate powder (yes it's an easy option) and the all important marshmallows of course.

Difficult to resist, right? 

Sunflower oil (for deep frying)
250g strong white flour
7g instant yeast
30g caster sugar
20g unsalted butter (softened)
1 egg
Pinch of salt
80ml warm milk

For the topping:
2 tsp Whittard's Rocky Road hot chocolate powder
1-2 tbsp water
150g icing sugar
Chocolate sprinkles

How to make:
Mix half a teaspoon of sugar with the yeast, along with a couple of teaspoons of warm milk. Leave to froth-up for around 15 minutes. 

Then sift the salt and flour into a mixing bowl with the remaining sugar. Into the middle of these ingredients pour the yeast mixture, adding the egg, softened butter and the remaining milk. Knead all of these together to form a soft and springy dough. Leave the dough in the mixing bowl and cover with a damp tea-towel for up to one hour (in a warm place) until the dough has doubled in size.

Lightly spinkle flour over a work surface before rolling out the dough to a thickness of approximately 1cm. Use an 8cm cutter to cut out the doughnut circles and a 2cm cutter for the inner circle. Lay the dough circles onto a baking tray and cover with cling film. Leave for a further 20-30 mins until the dough has risen.

Heat the sunflower oil in a pan - I used 1litre but could have used less. Once the oil is fiercely hot (be very careful!) gently place the doughnuts into the oil (2 or 3 at a time depending on the size of your pan) cooking each side until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked doughnuts from the oil and place onto some kitchen towel to drain. Leave to cool.

For the icing, mix the icing sugar with the water and then add the chocolate powder. Mix these ingredients together until you have a thick(ish) paste. Place this onto each doughnut and then top with finely chopped marshmallows and chocolate sprinkles.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Brit Decor: Sideboard Savvy

Sideboards are simply one of THE furniture pieces of the moment and are fast becoming a staple item for stylish living spaces across the globe. These slimline pieces not only bring style to a room, they can offer vital storage and functionality too. But which style to choose?

I've selected some key sideboard 'looks' (above), with my personal favourite being mid-twentieth century design classics. If you have the space to spare, consider going all-out by placing two small or medium sideboards together, such as IKEA's white 'PS' cabinets (image 2 'above'), to create an impressive feature that will provide double the amount of storage space - but be careful not to over-clutter surfaces.

Meanwhile, image no.3 shows us that colour-blocking with sideboards can be highly effective with this Spring fresh green version, especially if you are looking to make a bold colour statement.  In contrast for those minimalists amongst us - I love the streamlined look created by these low-level sideboard units in image no.5, which almost look like they belong to the fabric of the building.

Up-cycled and vintage furniture pieces are ideal for those of us who are keen to break away from the high street, because these bring a unique touch to an interior. The stunning up-cycled sideboard in image no.4 is simply oozing charm and character. I love how the natural appearance of the wood is echoed elsewhere in this scheme with the accompanying swoon worthy selection of earthy ceramics.

Need to keep it small? Image no.6 'above' proves that small really is beautiful with this stunning compact vintage sideboard, which is perfect for those smaller rooms. Consider crowning with some eye-catching artwork to create a visual feast for onlookers to chew on.

To further explore this trend, I have scouted the stores of the UK to bring you some of the key sideboard styles 'below', from bold colour, up-cycled, to simply stunning. Which is your favourite?

1/ One Collection Finn Juhl Sideboard £5,466 Nest.co.uk 2/ Ligne Roset Kermes sideboard £1,228 Heals
3/ PS Cabinet £70 IKEA 4/ Vintage Scandinavian Sideboard £1,250 The Old Cinema 5/ Eben up-cycled sideboard
£795 Ruby Rhino 6/ Alton sideboard £250 Habitat

Friday, 13 February 2015

Brit Decor: Story Time

All images / Mike Ahern

Successfully styling a home isn't just about creating a style statement. We all know that without those all important personal touches feeding into a scheme, a space can appear very impersonal and lifeless. 

Thankfully, adding threads of personality into a room is the really fun part and we all have different ways of doing this - from proudly displaying our favourite holiday souvenirs and personal photos, to showcasing items that we may have even created with our own clever hands - all of these and so much more can help to make a house feel truly like a home.

One of my favourite things to do, especially during the duller Winter months, is to peruse our photo collections in iPhoto and search for those that inspire me enough to want to print and frame them. However, with our recent trips to both Venice and Rome, we literally have too many beautiful pics to choose from, which is the reason why I decided to turn my hand at creating a photo book.

Photo books can serve as charming visual reminders, and look great placed on a coffee table, so that visitors can instantly get a flavour of your own creative identity. I also love the idea of fiends & family visiting our cottage and being able to root through our book and share visually in our wonderful holiday.

In this instance, I opted for Polagram for my photo book - this is not for any promotional purposes, but simply because I have the app and it works for me, simple. The process of selecting the chosen images from our trip to Rome and my desired layout was oh-so straightforward, and before I knew it, my hardback book had arrived!

Have you recently made a photo book? Which brand did you choose and were you happy with the final result? I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Brit Decor: Explores/ Raw Rustic

Images (from top) 1/ Petra Bindel (Ahlens Magazine) 2/ Digs Digs 3/ DZine Trip  
4/ Petra Bindel (Ahlens Magazine) 5/ Paul Massey

One of the most alluring elements of the 'Raw Rustic' style is its close affiliation with the still hugely popular trend for industrial chic. Both 'looks' are typically raw in their use of materials and surfaces such as wood and stonework, with a strong emphasis towards texture. 

Raw Rustic schemes tend to give wood greater prominence due to its association with nature and the countryside, rather than the concrete favoured by Industrial. Bare wood is stunning and brings a warming palette into a scheme and can make a great partner to rough plasterwork and fading paints -ultimately creating an explosion of texture and pattern. 

In terms of textiles, shabby chunky knits and Scandinavian rag rugs are the order of the day, especially when combined with crushed linens for a highly tactile feel. Raw Rustic can also have an eclectic element to it with a selection of handmade ceramics and stoneware peppered throughout, and a collection of unique and reclaimed furniture pieces add to what is a highly original look.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Brit Decor: Makes/ Crochet Throw

All images / Mike Ahern

It feels so good to 'make' doesn't it? High on my to-do list of 2014 was to learn how to crochet and not only that but to actually have something to show for my efforts. An interiors related project perhaps...?

Many years ago as a child, my dear Gran taught me how to crochet and much to everyone's amazement I created a multi-coloured granny blanket, no pun intended. Frustratingly, by 2014 I had completely lost any ability to crochet, so it was a case of starting all over again with the help and, crucially, patience of my awesome friend, Cath Foxwell.

After many attempts I finally cracked it and from that moment onwards there was no stopping me, well almost! Once I had a rhythm and fairly decent speed, I felt confident enough to begin crocheting my throw using a UK double stitch with a simple neutral coloured wool and a striking royal blue for contrast and impact. 

The finished throw now takes pride of place in my office at the cottage and makes a great vibrant addition to my Stiffkey Blue feature wall. Best of all is the sense of satisfaction that this project gave me, where I can say 'I made this'.

I hope you feel inspired to make something or learn a new skill this weekend...

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Brit Decor: Tend/ Cosmic Cool

Images 1/2/3  Urban Outfitters 4/ Refinery29

The Diesel Living range in partnership with Seletti recently caused rather a stir at Maison et Object  in Paris, with an eye-catching collection of cosmologically inspired  dinnerware. The sheer number of colour combinations and patterns found in this theme creates a heavenly feast for the eye so it's no surprise that we are looking to the skies today for what is set to become an eye-catching interiors trend for 2015 - Cosmic Cool.

One of my favourite phrases to pull out when styling interiors is 'Go graphic' because this really does work. Bold and colourful graphics in the form of prints, textiles or wallpaper, can create instant energy and detail which then allows us to pick-out threads of colour and weave these into our scheme as accents. A strong wallpaper print or mural can be a great starting point to kick-start a scheme, such as the slightly sci-fi sounding 'Spiral Planetary Nebula' mural (no.1 below). Note how it is then possible to bring in our accent colours with accessories such as the striking 'Venus' cushion (no.2) and the gorgeous turquoise 'Dixie' sofa (no.4).

To help reinforce our planetary scheme I have incorporated strong design elements such as the sun-like 'Gold' mirror ball light (no.3) - sure to make a seriously grown-up style statement and ensure that this scheme doesn't descend into a kitsch mid-20th century sci-fi set! Other graphic statements such as the 'Trompe L'Oeil' rug (no.8) serve to reinforce the cosmic-look and creates the illusion of texture.

The more that we learn about the universe, the more eclectic it is increasingly looking, so don't be afraid to be playful and have some fun by incorporating your own galaxy of colour, pattern and texture.

Will you be exploring this look in 2015?

1/ Spiral Planetary Nebula Mural from £23.40 p/m  Murals Wallpaper 2/ Venus Planet Throw cushion £25.95 Zazzle
3/  Tom Dixon Gold mirror ball from £233 Heals 4/ Dixie sofa £599 Made 5/ Callisto dinner plate £19 Amara 
6/ Jupiter dinner plate £29 Amara 7/ Albany Galaxy emulsion £12.30 Designer Paint 8/Trompe L'Oeil mat 

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