Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Brit Decor: Summer living room update with Dwell

Images / Copyright of Mike Ahern

I had been feeling the need to update the cottage for some time - this is a seasonal thing for me with the onset of every Summer and the prospect of brighter, longer days. This time of year allows me to literally see each living space in a new light and assess what does and doesn't work so well within each decorative scheme. So imagine my delight when the team over at Dwell asked me if I'd like to update my home with some of their key products, to show how easy it is to re-vamp and re-organise our living spaces with a few choice items! 

For my mini-makeover I began with the living room, which is the hub of the house and my favourite place to kick-back and experience some downtime. Apart from the fireplace mantel, I had become acutely aware of a lack of shelving in this room, as these offer a means of displaying favourite items and can provide additional storage space. 

I opted for Dwell's 'Escala' shelves in white because I knew that the matt finish would blend seamlessly into the brilliant white walls without appearing to intrude upon this modestly-sized space. These bring a subtle chalky architecture to the room and I love how the white gives a fresh look which really enhances the bright colours of my chosen objects of interest, now proudly on display.

For the shelving I have also added two further products from Dwell's collection - the charming 'clay vase' (bottom shelf) for that artisan/handcrafted look, and the white 'marble toothbrush holder' (second shelf from the top). Sometimes it pays to think outside of the box and I really wanted to add one of 2015's hottest materials, marble, into my living room. Here, I've ditched the toothbrush and instead utilised the holder as a stationery pot, although I may even use this as a vase at some point!

Finally, I chose Dwell's 'Aztec cup tower' to bring a touch of pastel geo-goodness into the mix and liven up my coffee table. These colourful espresso cups give just the right balance of energy and calm through a combination of chalky greens, pinks and greys in an exciting array of patterns - perfect for some lively coffee table talk with friends.

Key to my choices were how well each product would work in harmony with the existing scheme (without having to redecorate) and their functionality within the room. For a closer look at my product picks from Dwell, please see 'below' and of course, you can view much more at their online store.

The 'upstairs edit' in my home makeover with Dwell will be coming soon!

This is a sponsored post

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Brit Decor: Up close & personal

It's been an exceptionally busy whirlwind of a month here at Brit Decor, so I just wanted to share a recent interview that I did with Posh Flooring Supplies, which gives a bit of an insight into me, how I work as a designer, and the history of Brit Decor. 

In reality, I couldn't have done any of this without the support of YOU, so I think this is definitely the perfect moment to share the love - thank you for reading!


Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a thirty-something designer living in the beautiful Somerset countryside with my partner and two cats. I began my career as a Graphic Designer after graduating with a BA Hons in Graphic Communication, but since then I have gradually shifted my focus towards interior design in order to fulfil my dream of creating beautiful interiors - a passion which I share on my blog, Brit Decor. That's me in a nutshell!
How long have you been blogging?
I created the blog back in 2010 but it wasn't until 2013 that I began to post regularly and develop a readership. It was amazing to reach a point where I realised that this was the perfect vehicle for my creative output.

What made you start blogging?
Creatively I felt there was something missing in my life and I realised that blogging could be the perfect way of exploring my own creativity and sharing this with other like-minded people. Being completely in control of your own creative output is also hugely empowering!
What advice would you give to people looking to start a blog or magazine?
Quite simply - go for it! You can create a blog for free and it's a very user-friendly process. Even if you are not planning to make money from your blog, think in advance about your unique selling point - what will make your blog worth reading?
Where do you look for design inspiration?
Everywhere! I am constantly looking for inspiration and soak it up like a sponge - this might be through targeted exploration of interiors, shops, museums, architecture, magazines, or just day-to-day inspiration that I might take from looking around me - like an autumnal tree, or a moody grey sky.

Who are your favourite all time designers?
It's hard to avoid mentioning Sir Terence Conran - his contribution to British interiors has been pretty epic and I have always been a huge fan of his simple style aesthetic, right from the Habitat days. In terms of stylists, I'm a huge fan of Aussie stylist Mr Jason Grant. I just love his relaxed & utterly cool way of styling interiors.
What is your favourite interior design trend right now?
Always at the top of my trend list is Scandi-style minimalist neutrals, because this 'look' is always going to be successful due to it's versatility and uncomplicated aesthetic. Additions to this style which have really caught my eye this year are herringbone wooden flooring, for it's chevron pattern and rich texture, and the emergence of plywood as an interior feature. Although the latter was previously considered a bit of an under dog in the design industry, in 2015 we've seen just how successful plywood can be when applied to a minimalist kitchen, for example.

Are there any trends you feel will get a lot of attention in 2015?
Yes, bold and graphic prints are are bursting onto the interiors scene everywhere!
What are you interior design ‘pet hates’?
Hate is a strong word - I prefer not to be overly judgemental when it comes to interior styles because I think it's healthy, creatively, to keep an open mind. That said, I would probably draw the line at Lilac!
What would your dream home be like?
I'm torn on this one, having lived in and around the Georgian city of Bath for much of my life, I am inclined to go with a sensitively restored Georgian townhouse complete with original architectural detailing. However, if I could split my time between two countries, I'd probably choose a white sugar cube house somewhere on a Mediterranean island.
What are your favourite blogs right now and why?
One of my top reads has to be Curate and Display by the very talented Tiffany Grant-Riley - I'm always hugely inspired by her work.
What article on Brit D├ęcor would you consider your favourite?
Wow, now that's a difficult one! Probably one of my 'Brit Decor makes' projects, where I get to explore a creative idea from conception through to creating the final item - and then share the entire journey with my readers, and hopefully inspire them too. A recent favourite was my attempt at making a Shibori dye cushion.

Please don't forget to check out the Posh Flooring Supplies website by clicking here!

Friday, 22 May 2015

Brit Decor: It's a green thing

Images / Copyright Mike Ahern

With the whirlwind of horticultural excellence that is the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, about to be dismantled again for another year, it has been all about green here at the cottage. I make no secret about my passion for gardening and in many ways I am living the dream with my very own cottage garden to play in and, of course, to relax in also.

Inspired by Chelsea's amazing display of creativity and expert know-how, I decided to give our living room a little green-themed update this week. This is the beauty of interiors styling - in many instances it only takes a handful of considered objects to totally transform the look and feel of a space. You can turn a scheme's palette from hot to cold or from neutral to multi-colour in an instant.

For the living room I wanted to keep my theme fresh and zingy with a palette of greens in an array of shades, shapes and textures. I find that books, asides from a good read, also offer a great quick-fix for adding colour and interest whilst houseplants, a big favourite here on Brit Decor, bring architectural shapes and texture into the mix. The fresh green tones also work well against the brilliant white walls to create a light and uplifting scheme.

Who knows what my next theme might be...happy styling folks!


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Brit Decor: Fifth Wall

How often do we look up at the space above us? Ceilings can sometimes fall short of our attention when considering decorative schemes, and despite covering a huge swathe of space, this frequently white area is often overlooked as a potential source of colour. We all know that colour can totally transform a room, but if we include the ceiling in this, and effectively treat it as a fifth wall, the potential impact can elevate a room to a whole new level.

White is the paint of choice for the majority of ceilings because of its tendency to lift a space and create the illusion of additional height in a room. However, particularly in smaller spaces and those with limited natural light, the white will become a lacklustre grey and subsequently lack any light-emitting qualities. I'm a huge advocate of painting small box rooms, including the ceiling, in dark and alluring shades, rather than fighting to create light that just isn't there.

Matching the ceiling and wall colours can create instant depth and richness as the chosen colour is then able to envelope the room in what can become a seamless scheme. Ceilings can appear lower, which lends to a cosier and more intimate feel - this technique is particularly useful for rooms with double-height ceilings. For even greater depth, consider a slight variation in ceiling colour i.e. one that is just a shade or two away from the wall colour.

For the braver amongst us, making the bold choice to paint the ceiling in a different colour entirely can really pay off as this introduces a strong graphic statement and can instantly turned what was once an overlooked area into something amazing.

Have you painted a ceiling in an interesting colour? I'd love to know how it looks?

1/ Anglepoise giant floor lamp £2,400 Heals 2/ Juniper Ash no.115 emulsion from £18.75 Little Greene 
3/ Tom Dixon wingback sofa in Dark Blue £6,900 4/ Copper seagrass baskets (set of 3)
£63 House Envy 5/ Khampla rug £750 Clippings 6/ Hay DLM XL table in Lavender £169 Cimmermann 
7/ Pewter moss stitch throw £69.95 House Envy 8/ Lakir cushion cover £24 Clippings 9/ Silk hand loomed 
cushion cover (Apricot) £29 West Elm UK

Friday, 15 May 2015

Brit Decor: Loves/ Brintons City Plaids Collection

Images / Brintons

A classic in the making: Since I first caught a glimpse of the brand new eye-catching City Plaids collection from Brintons Carpets, I have not been able to take my eyes away from them. The really striking element to these images is just how well the classic Welsh Plaid and Harris tweed patterns sit within a contemporary setting.

As has been the case recently with many design savvy interiors-related businesses, the inspiration for this latest collection has come from the Brintons archives. The result is a thoroughly modern re-take on iconic designs with this selection of vibrant tartan-style grid patterns in soothing blues and gentle greys.

The collection, with its distinctly urban feel, is available in a total of five colour options - each named after five of the most iconic areas within London; Kensington, Belgravia, Chelsea, Mayfair and Knightsbridge. Quite frankly - I love all of the colours in this range!

Brintons will also be hosting a range of talks as well as showcasing their designs at Clerkenwell Design Week

Prices for the City Plaids collection are £80 per sq metre. 

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

B r i t D e c o r : Photojournal / Bath #2

 All Images copyright of Mike Ahern / Brit Decor

In terms of narrative, this is a brief one from me today folks as I'm busily working on several client briefs this week, including a colour scheme for an old converted school building. 

Back in early April I promised to share more photos from my beautiful home city of Bath, here in the UK, and today I'm doing just that. Since downloading the #VSCO app, I've been snapping even more pics and busily uploading these to Instagram. Have you been using VSCO and if so, what do you think of it?

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this visual walk around Bath with me!


Friday, 8 May 2015

B r i t D e c o r : Simple Study/ Get the look

Images (from top) 1/ The Design Chaser 2/ Decor Dots 3/ Grenes

The formula for re-creating an uber-cool minimalist workstation at home is as simple as the 'look' itself. My advice to clients is always the same when it comes to workspaces; keep it simple. Making the decorative scheme too complicated or over-accessorising a desk can have a negative impact on both productivity and creativity, even for those of us who aren't easily distracted. I prefer to begin with a simple palette and then 'layer-up' the scheme with personal touches such as prints and desktop accessories. 

I have chosen the 'above' schemes today because of their simplistic styling and watered-down monochrome palette. Whilst the monochromatic trend has continued into 2015, there's now a tendency for white to be the dominant colour, with the darker of the two taking a back seat. 

Houseplants can be applied to bring architectural height and subtle green colouring, not forgetting an air of clam too. If you are not enamoured with the prospect of caring for plants in your workspace, there are plenty of artificial options that don't compromise on style (see no.8 on my shopping picks 'below) yes it's true! Gold and copper accessories and plywood materials are great for bringing a hint of warmth.

The subtle white and palest grey chevron wallpaper in image 2 'above' creates the illusion of texture, and the sharply defined black metal frame of the typographic print adds a clear focal point. It's also easy enough to create your own wallpaper (of sorts) with a simple notice or pin board adorned with your favourite prints and images (see no.1 'below) - this also means that you can constantly change your style depending on mood, season, or just for the fun of it.

The all-important task lighting is another area where style need not be compromised in order to get the job done. Metallics are red hot - matt finishes can give a smooth pastel look whilst glossy surfaces  bring an air of luxe-glamour. Personally I'm a big fan of desktop lighting, but it's hard to ignore the  the slightly epic statuesque angle poise floor lamp featured in image no.1 'above'.

The final point to consider is the comfort factor - yes workspaces should be comfortable too! In reality a large number of the most stylish chairs don't necessarily provide vital back support, in which case, cushions can be drafted in to help compliment the scheme and add a relaxed feel. Equally, I find there is something quite liberating about the feel of kicking off my shoes and the feel of soft textiles underfoot when I'm sitting at my desk, and I am a huge fan of the 'Sketch' rug from Rockett St George (no.5 'below').

Happy working - we deserve it!

1. White pegboard with pegs £30 Not on the High Street
2. Cinematype 'M' print £12.50 Tom Pigeon
3. Hexagon table lamp £269 BoConcept
4. Esme desk £279 Made
5. Sketch hand printed rug £25 Rockett St. George
6. Kartell Comback swivel chair £398
7. PS Wall rack £33 IKEA
8. Cactus Arizona £25.50 Eastern Biological
9. Recycled leather envelope £20 UndercoverUK

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

B r i t D e c o r: Cafe Culture

Images / Mike Ahern

Every now and again I realise that certain areas of my life may need a little 'tweak'. My current adjustment has to be factoring in more rest breaks to a working pattern that is simply over-embroiled in work - not that I'm complaining about having plenty of work on the books!

At this time of year I find it far easier to at least strive towards a different work ethic and to literally just step out of the cottage and into the fresh air for a break from my computer screen and the phone. With the bank holiday weekend,  the opportunity for a lengthier 'time-out', meant that I recently stumbled across a cool new cafe/bar, Colonna & Hunter, in Bath's Milsom Place.

If I am honest, the first thing that usually draws me to a new cafe is the design aesthetic rather than the smell of freshly brewed coffee and the gentle clinking of spoons, but that's why I'm in this line of work as a designer. However, before I inadvertently label myself as a completely un-cultured coffee drinker, the quality of the coffee (and cake) is pretty crucial for that return visit to happen, even in the hippest of hangouts.

No problem here then - the styling of Colonna & Hunter's new venture is a minimal mix of chalky whites and greys, peppered with bold sprinkles of dark earthy greens - a palette that lends itself perfectly to the slightly raw and industrial edge of the interior with its large roof beams, breeze block inspired table legs and a quirky selection of vintage seating.

Throw in some easygoing and friendly bar staff, some darn fine hot chocolate, and dare I confess, a divine chocolate brownie, and I'm sold! There's also an array of speciality coffee and craft beer to help while away a leisurely break. Thoroughly recommended!

Back to work...until next time.

Friday, 1 May 2015

B r i t D e c o r: Outdoor Living/ The Colour Edit

Images (from top) 1/ H&M Home 2/ Pinterest UK 3/ H&M Home

With the May Bank holiday bonanza about to begin here in the UK, many of us will be relishing the thought of an extended three-day break from the regular routine, whatever regular might be these days? 

At around the same time, DIY stores and garden centres will become completely awash with consumers, all keen to buy up a slice of the home-making dream pie, fuelled by the on-set of warmer weather *Mike types with fingers crossed* or at least the prospect of sunnier climes. 

For me the Bank Holiday also evokes a sense of party, a celebration of the fact that I can sit back and enjoy some of the finer things on this extended weekend, and share good times with good friends. It's this sense of fun combined with the vibrancy of Spring/Summer, which has inspired today's outdoor living feature and it's all about having fun with colour. 

Recently here on Brit Decor, I focussed on dreamy neutral outdoor living with the soothing 'Simple Style' feature - so today's spotlight throws a multi-coloured ray of light onto a more playful, colour-driven style, perfect for outdoor entertaining. My top tips for this 'look' is to either choose one bold colour and pull this through the scheme with the use of varying patterns and textures, or opt for an explosive array of colours (contrasting is good) and run with it!  

To help you achieve the colour-burst look in your outdoor space, 'below' is a selection of some of my favourite picks...

1 Loom black & orange lantern £20 Habitat

2 Gnome candle £7.50 Rockett St George
3 Patterned seat cover £7.99 H&M Home
4 Pampas large linen cushion £148 House of Hackney
5 Ceramic egg cup plant pot £8 House of Hackney
6 Linea Pineapple bowl £14 House of Fraser
7 Striped fringed picnic towel £39.99 Zara Home
8 Decode Shelltwo wire chair £264
9 Kiwi wooden parasol £29.99 Homebase
10 Concentric stripes cushion £19.99 Zara Home

Wishing you a colourful and vibrant weekend, wherever you are in the world!

Graphic / Mike Ahern

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