Friday, 31 July 2015

Brit Decor: Easy ways to style a bedroom down - with Sealy

Images (from top) / 1/ Blog Milk 2/ Aura Home 3/ B&B Italia 4/ Lovely Life 5/ Poliform

These days the style-stakes are higher than ever before in our homes; around every corner, or with every new Season, there's more inspiration waiting to pounce upon us. The notion of a bedroom being merely functional - a space to sleep and get dressed in, has long since disappeared. On the contrary, bedrooms are now places where we can read our favourite books and magazines, watch TV, or escape from other nosier zones in the home. (Maybe those of us who used to frequently skulk off to our bedrooms as teenagers, had the right idea after all...?)

However, one thing that I didn't have as a teen was the design knowledge that I have accrued today. Crucial to the success of any room design is it's ability to simultaneously deliver both style and comfort. Therefore, I have excitedly teamed up with the world's biggest bed brand, Sealy, to bring you some easy win-win tips on how to 'style a bed down' by mixing comfort and aesthetics to create the bedroom of your dreams.

There is also cause for celebration - as Sealy has recently and very deservedly won their second award from Which? magazine, for their Teramo 1400 mattress - Congratulations!

My number one mantra when styling my own home is - keep it simple. This is particularly relevant for the bedroom, which doesn't need to be overcomplicated in its design, especially if we are searching for a relaxed feel. 

However, this doesn't mean that all bright & energetic colours should be barred from the bedroom, merely their inclusion should be carefully considered and applied. Take for example the bold wide stripe duvet cover (image no.2 'above') which brings instant warmth and a fun feel. Natural cotton and linen sheets help to tone down formalities and crumpled textures can accentuate this informal style. Upholstered beds are also huge right now, so embrace textiles as your friend and invite them into the bedroom - layer up where required for maximum comfort, as in image no.7 'above'.

Achieving the correct balance of light is also hugely important. For daytime, if you can, allow as much natural light and fresh air into a bedroom to re-oxygenate and breath new life into the space. Open the windows, let the daylight  pour in and consider taking a mini-break in bed! Alternatively, introduce scented candles to suit your mood. For after-dark, apply softer lighting to help you mentally shift down a gear.

Books at bedtime are definitely not just the reserve of children - I love to see books in bedrooms, as they create a relaxed-look and are an easy means of adding subtle colour, detail and interest. Reading in bed is also a tried and tested way of winding-down before sleep, so make sure you have a good bedside table within easy reach, on which to place your book down when your eyes become heavy.

Feeling relaxed yet?

*This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Sealy 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Brit Decor: Loves/ Brand new Bert & May paint range!

Images / Bert & May

The iconic tile designs of Bethnal Green's very own Bert & May have long been at the top of my decorator's black book of go-to materials suppliers, so imagine my delight when I discovered that this British store will be launching a brand spanking new range of paints!

'Above' are some tantalising taster images of the new paint in its full glory, which has been created to compliment Bert & May's beautiful range of tiles, including 7 palettes in 35 colours - all in a dreamy lime-wash finish.

We know from ancient printmaking methods that lime-washing is the end product of crushed limestone which has been burnt and slaked with water, resulting in a lime putty. This is then left to mature over a number of months before it's thinned-out with water.

Lime-wash is great for that chalky, worn look, and looks incredible in old and new properties alike. The full colour range will be available in emulsion and we will be able to purchase online at Bert & May. My finger will be poised on the 'purchase' button!

RRP: 5 litres from £69.50

Monday, 27 July 2015

Brit Decor: Loves / San Giorgio hotel, Mykonos

Images / 1 / Design Hotels / 2-6 / San Giorgio Mykonos

Today I feel it's my duty as a Brit who is currently enduring, along with millions of others, a very damp July with heavy and, at times, torrential rain in many parts of the UK, to divert our attention to sunnier climbs. In fact, wherever you are in the world right now, even if it's sunny but you just can't get into your Monday, I'd like to take us all on a journey that will combine relaxed interior styling and traditional Greek sugar-cube architecture, and of course, some golden sunshine...let's kick-back.

I don't know why this trip has not yet happened, because I remind myself every year that Mykonos is on my must-see list of places to holiday, but it just hasn't materialised. Once made famous by the likes of Jackie Onassis and the world's glamour-atti, this golden island offers textbook classic architecture and styling along with some surprisingly contemporary finds too. And of course, with the current dire financial crisis gripping many of our Greek friends, little islands like this need our tourism more than ever before.

So here we are, you and I standing in the instantly soothing reception at San Giorgio Hotel, Mykonos.   The outside is a whitewash of classic Greek goodness with palms and olive trees cutting their dappled silhouettes against the white rendered sugar cube buildings. Whilst the interiors do bear the hallmarks of the grecian style, there are plenty of contemporary twists to be found in this design hotel.

Take the on-trend seat swings in the foyer, the raffia weave rugs, or perhaps the striking silhouette chairs - this hotel is not short on detail (so important in interiors styling) but it's all cleverly delivered within a neutral and calming context, one that instantly transports its guests into 'holiday mode'.

Did it work, are you feeling the holiday vibe?

I'd love to hear from you if you have visited Mykonos, where is good to go on the island...?

Friday, 24 July 2015

Brit Decor: Loves / Place in Print

Images / Place in print / Graphics /Mike Ahern

So here's the thing; I recently stumbled across Place in Print - a South London based design studio, designing a range of prints and products that celebrate the unique identities of the UK's neighbourhoods. Plus these guys have a really cool website - for any of you graphic design geeks like me! Quite simply, their aim is to bring beautifully designed, modern and affordable products to people's homes. Amen to that.

I was naturally thrilled to learn that the team at Place in Print have been big fans of Brit Decor for a while, and without over-egging the compliment, I have to confess that the feeling is mutual. 

In particular, I'm a huge fan of their aptly named 'Neighbourhood Puns' range of prints, created in collaboration with graphic designer Pâté. The puns are some of the store's most popular designs, and the full range can be explored by clicking here

I hope you enjoy these prints as much as I do!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Brit Decor: Bedside Manners

Images / Mike Ahern

As a creative-type, my aesthetically trained eyes are always wide open and looking for the next beautiful thing, something that inspires my senses and makes me want to create new interiors. During my recent travels in London I just knew I had to steal the 'above' shots and share them with YOU.

This bedroom setting has everything - all the essential styling tricks have been played out, and an exotic palette of exciting blues (with a few colour surprises) has been executed to perfection. But the beauty of this room doesn't stop there - the imperfection card has also been played, with the mis-matched and shabby vintage side tables adding an informal Boho feel.

By contrast to the paired down elements of the room, this North London homeowner has also added a glamorous touch with Florence Broadhurst's quintessential Shadow Floral wallpaper - perfect for the vintage boudoir look. And from here, there is layer-after-layer of blue, from deepest navy with paler floral detailing, and rich marine blues extending into lighter and brighter aquas. However, don't you just love the surprising twist to this narrative created by the silk coral cushion emblazoned against the navy damask upholstery!?

Colour isn't the only design element manipulated to its fullest potential here; like a storyline gathering pace, the design narrative  allows texture to be explored too, with shiny silks encountering crushed neutral linens and the texturised blanket, which is kept fresh-looking by the contrasting white and turquoise design.

Back to the here and now - 'below' I have created my own interpretation of this scheme with a typical Brit Decor 'get the look' palette of inspired buys, following the same design principals as those used in this stunning bedroom.

I hope that you have been inspired too.

1/ Shadow floral wallpaper £368 per roll Fabrics & Papers 2/ Aqua Spectrum lambswool throw £89.95 Liberty 3/ Marine Blue (95) absolute emulsion £18.75 Little Greene 4/ Tribal Aztec Kilim Geometric cushion cover £12.99 Etsy 5/ Signal S1333 table lamp £204 The Conran Shop 6/ Amy Sia Aegean Sea cushion £70 Amara 7/ Garland ceiling light shade £20 Habitat 8/ Cabinet £450 Beholder 9/ Tommy green metal desk lamp £18 Habitat 10/ Skye Oatmeal Egyptian cotton pillowcase £12 Habitat

Graphic / Mike Ahern

Monday, 20 July 2015

Brit Decor: Loves/ Olio Collection at Royal Doulton

Images / Barber & Osgerby

Simple living and a plethora of perfect pastels are never far away from the pages of Brit Decor, and with collections like this aptly named Olio range from the talented design duo, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, it's no wonder.

This alluring assortment of tableware was designed for classic British brand, Royal Doulton, and comes in the form of ceramics, including unglazed pieces, wooden serving boards and stainless steel cutlery. And not badly priced either!

Aside from the natural look of these pieces, I love the 'pick and mix' element of bringing together a variety of neutral tones and finishes for an altogether more relaxed dining experience.

Oh and in case you are wondering - Olio means; a miscellaneous collection of things.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Brit Decor: Coastal Cottage/ Get The Look

All Images / Copyright Mike Ahern

Last but certainly not least - this is the final in my three-part series looking at the stunning Gower coastline in Wales. These cuter than cute chocolate box cottages pepper much of the rural landscape in Wales, with their pristine whitewashed exteriors competing more than adequately with the stunningly rugged landscape. At times, especially during those sunnier moments, I found myself transported to the sugar cubed houses of the Greek islands with their own variation on whitewash. 

One of my favourite coastal homes spotted during our trip was a tiny former fisherman's cottage in Port Enyon, which literally faced out onto the beach with just a scattering of terraced rocks for protection from the elements (images 2 & 4 above'). However, I guess part of the charm and appeal of  these buildings is their exposure to nature and the weathered-look this inevitably creates.

So what's the key element to coastal living style? This has to be simplicity, life uncomplicated, and a core relaxed feel. Simple pastels are the order of the day for that soothing and faded look, with an abundance of blues and whites. For a more contemporary vibe, consider introducing some stripes and contrasting geo patterns like the eye-catchingingly good Mariska Meijers Bold Cubism wallpaper £69 Amara (no.1 'below') and the Linum Camargue cushion £39 Salcombe Trading (No.3 'below').

For a lighter and more natural look, I have chosen Luna Larch white oil lye wooden flooring from Element 7 (No.7 'below) which provides the perfect neutral backdrop. The beautifully understated elegance of the Pencil Salon tile £6.80 from Bert & May (no.8) delivers on the simple, rustic and contemporary elements in one hit. 

In terms of paint colours, I have considered a coastal contrast with the darker stormy Juniper Ash 115  (No.5 'below') absolute emulsion, against the lighter dreamy pastel Gauze 106 (No.6) absolute emulsion - both paints start from £18.75 at Little Greene.

Of course, no home is complete without the all-important accessories; 2/ Blue Lobster print £39 Clare Loves  4/ Whitby Pop Maxi DAB portable digital radio £109 Mini Moderns and 9/ Nordic Sea stoneware mug £6.00 House Envy.

Shopping graphic / Copyright Mike Ahern

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Brit Decor: Loves/ H&M's AW15 Home Collection

All Images / H&M Home

I make no apologies for my frequent raving about H&M's homeware range. It's quite simply a win-win source of value for money, on-trend accessories and interiors inspiration. For someone like me who is constantly updating and refreshing my home with new accessories, H&M is an easy go-to resource.

Quite frankly I am already sold on this Swedish brand's new AW15 collection (not that I'm wishing away the remainder of Summer!) Comprising of moody charcoals and alluring teals fused with bold patterns and copious amounts of eye-catching textiles, this is definitely a collection to pad out our Autumnal nests with.

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