Friday, 28 August 2015

Brit Decor: Inspires/ Kitchen Kewl

All Images / Robson Rak Architects

Over the years I have learned an easy way of confirming if a minimalistic design has worked, or not:, by asking this very simple question: Does the finished scheme require accessories? By the very nature of the term 'Minimal' we are looking for clean lines, simple no-fuss designs, and smooth seamless surfaces, or thereabouts. Accessories, should these even need to make an appearance in such schemes, should take a backseat. 

As you can see from this 'sex-on a drawing board' kitchen design by Robson Rak Architects, the strong and clean lines created by the warm-meets-cool contrast of the wood and marble delivers colour and texture in one big hit. Light is flooded into this space via a long rectangular skylight which sits directly above the kitchen island, and through the charcoal framed bi-fold doors. The cabinetry has no protruding handles, only concealed ones, and the utilities in brushed stainless steel, are tidily recessed.

Although by nature I am a bit of an accessories addict, I can't help but draw a deep breath of inspiration from minimal no clutter designs such as this. It's refreshing to see the interior architecture doing all of the talking here.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Brit Decor: Loves / New AURA by Tracie Ellis Ceramics Collection

The 'Crosses' range

'Double-dip' bowls

'Double-dip' plate in Peppermint & Charcoal

'Patch' bowl in multi.

'Kami' plate in fiery coral

'Nio' plate and mug in 'Maize'

All Images / AURA by Tracie Ellis / Graphic Compositions by Mike Ahern

It's Wednesday and I am in need of a colour pick-me-up, are you? Fortunately, this brand new collection of vivid ceramics from one of my favourite Aussie homeware brands, AURA by Tracie Ellis, is serving up some midweek cheer in abundance.

This exciting new range has got my creative pulse racing and comes in all of the signature AURA designs, each emblazoned onto high-fire porcelain pieces so I can now enjoy this label in my kitchen too (bank balance beware!).

Apart from the array of mouthwatering colours on offer here, what I really love about this collection is its versatility - any combination of these designs will partner up for an eclectic fusion of colour and pattern, pick 'n mix style!

There are a total of 12 designs to choose from in mugs, side/tapas plates and stacking tapas bowls. The full range is available to buy now at

Wishing you a colour-fuelled day!


Monday, 24 August 2015

Brit Decor: Travels/ Vienna

 All images / Copyright Mike Ahern

How many times must I get caught out by a pre-booked trip sneaking up on me? Or maybe I am just in denial that I am finally travelling to Vienna? Either way, I'm hopping onto a British Airways plane today, with or without everything I intended to pack, but at least I have Brit Decor with me.

Speaking of packing - I thought it might be fun to share with you some of the items I will be taking with me (see 'above'). One of my travel essentials, wherever the destination, is a pair of chinos for comfort and style. I picked this particular pair up in a grey flex from newbie on the block; Spoke menswear, London.

Lately I haven't been anywhere without my new favourite 'Spicebomb' scent by Viktor & Rolf, and for my weary traveller's skin, I'm taking along Dr Jart+ BB cream to keep those dark circles concealed - after all, first impressions count, right?

Vienna, Austria's capital, has been on my wish-list of must-see cities for as long as I can remember, not least because of my penchant for fine cakes and pastries. But the sweet culinary delights of the glamorous cafes won't be the only rich ingredient sampled during my time there. At the heart of Europe, Vienna has one of the world's most beautiful ensembles of architectural styles, which I can't wait to lap up like a cat who has discovered the cream!

For those of you instagrammers amongst us, I'll be posting as many pics as I can of my trip so please do come and join me!

Wishing you all a great week,

Friday, 21 August 2015

Brit Decor: Updates/ Ikea Vaggis Pinboard

All Images / Copyright Mike Ahern

Last year whilst on a trip to Rome, I picked up a fun and rather striking cork pot stand with white geo-pattern detailing, from a Tiger store, as a little gift for my wonderful Sister. Nearly a year later  this stylish cork cutie was such a hit in my Sister's home, that she really wanted a larger pin-board version to stand above her desk.

With her birthday fast approaching, and in a light-bulb moment of inspiration, I thought I had decided on the perfect gift. Despite my initial confidence in sourcing such a pin-board, with cork being very much in the limelight right now, it quickly became apparent that this early buoyancy was a little premature. There were one or two 'nearly' finds but nothing delivered the specific brief of white detailing on cork, so it was time to draw upon my own creative skills...

Unsurprisingly, plain cork pin-boards are far easier to source - I opted for Ikea's 'Vaggis' board because I liked the plain white frame, which I knew would match perfectly with my design. The next part was so simple to achieve, it was unreal! I used masking tape to achieve the desired pattern leaving a 2mm gap between each piece of tape. Finally I applied bright white emulsion to the masked-off areas (taking care not to overload the brush) and waited for the paint to dry.

As always, the big reveal was both exciting and a little tense, but the end result was just what I had hoped for!

Will you be getting creative this weekend...?

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Brit Decor: Fixtures Edit/ Eye for Detail with

Images (from the top) 1/ My Furnished Home 2/ Domaine Home 3/ Archiproducts 

There is no doubt that to many of us, kitchens and bathrooms are at the pinnacle of our dream home wish-list. I remember the roller coaster ride that took me to a brand new bathroom at the cottage last year, from the initial buzz of the designing and purchasing stage, to the waking nightmare of having builders traipsing through the house, copious amounts of dust, no shower for a week, (did I mention the dust!?), and finally to that extra special moment when I walked into the completed bathroom and stepped under the new shower for the very first time - Bliss!

When online brand Superbath got in touch and asked me to work with them, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to seize my designer's soapbox and focus on the importance of choosing the right fixtures and fittings, one's that don't just suit the design of your kitchen or bathroom, but also suit your lifestyle needs too.

I am always at pains to advise clients not to fall down a metaphorical manhole during the design phase by overlooking the finer details - those all important fixtures and fittings. These hold a dual importance to every final scheme, one of aesthetics and functionality. I pose the question; wouldn't neglecting to choose a suitably fabulous bathroom tap to match an already stunning basin be tantamount to a design crime?

*This is a sponsored post*

Get the look: 
1/ Hansgrohe Logis Classic Concealed Shut-off Valve £23.68
2/ Hansgrohe Logis 3-hole Basin Mixer with Pop-up Waste Set £170.33
3/ Grohe K7 Kitchen Mixer with Professional Spray £578.32
4/ Hansgrohe Raindance Connect Eco Showerpipe £491.43
5/ Geberit Bolero Satinox Dual Flush Actuator Plate £171.43
6/ Grohe Concetto Kitchen Mixer with pull out Spout Supersteel £185.18
All products from

Monday, 17 August 2015

Brit Decor: Talks to Collett & Holder

As Brit Decor's regular readers will know, I am usually the one asking the questions to exciting new Creatives, Designers and some genuinely amazing people. However, it's a bit of a shock to the system when I'm the one on the receiving end of the questions, including a 'quick fire' round!

Actually, I really don't mind 'spilling the beans' about what it's like to be a blogger - after all, the blogging community, in particular, is one huge caring and sharing family. Along the way I have always been inspired by reading about other bloggers' journeys, so when quirky homeware brand, Collett + Holder invited me to a Q&A session, I thought it high-time that I should help shed some light on what makes me tick and why Brit Decor is the way it is.

The team over at Collett + Holder have kindly let me share their interview here on Brit Decor, but please hop on over to their fab online store and say 'hello'. You can also see their full interview by clicking here.

Tell us a little about yourself and what your blog explores - 
"I'm a thirty-something guy living in the countryside just outside of the beautiful World Heritage City of Bath. I blog about interior design, styling and 'making' projects, and not forgetting the occasional bake."

What inspired you to create Brit Decor?
"I graduated from University with a BA in Graphic Communication and then later developed a passion for interiors - today I combine both of these skill-sets with Brit Decor. I initially saw blogging as a great vehicle for exploring this creative passion, but at the time I didn't envisage that it would also enable me to meet and to work with some amazing people along the way."
If you could choose just ‘One Interior’ where would it be and why?
"In all honesty, I couldn't! There are too many different styles and brilliant interior designers out there to narrow it down to just one. However, I do remember buying my first ever copy of World of Interiors in my late teens and feeling utterly inspired by a renovated Majorcan villa by Min Hogg. I fell head over heels for the white-on-white interiors and it definitely left a lasting impression - I'm sure I still have the magazine clipping somewhere!"
What is your favourite piece in your home and why?
"That's an easy one - my mid-twentieth Century armchair. Luckily this 'look' is very much on-trend but it wouldn't matter anyway as the chair is an heirloom which used to belong to my amazing grandparents. It will always stay with me, wherever I live." 
What does your typical day as a blogger look like?
"No day is the same - If I don't have any appointments, it's a case of taking a large coffee (in my favourite Vera Wang 'naturals' mug) and firing up my Mac. I go through emails first and check my social media channels before buckling down to creating some visuals in Photoshop. Once I'm happy with the graphic elements, I move over to Blogger where I write and schedule my posts. I should point out that this process is constantly interrupted by my two cats!"

What projects are you currently working on at Brit Decor?
"I'm currently working liking a maniac so I can take a much needed holiday but my latest project is actually a bit of a new direction for me - smoothies! I want to incorporate these into my 'bake' section because I love the colours and textures, and they taste great too. Other than this, I am working like crazy just so I can schedule in some time for a much needed holiday."
Outside of Brit Decor do you also work on other projects?
"Yes, I carry out interior colour consultations and styling work. It's really quite a humbling experience to be invited into somebody's home and asked to re-style it. My favourite part is helping clients to create a home they are really excited about."
What are your greatest influences?
"My parents - they brought me up in a really loving home, which in turn has influenced many of my choices in life. Stylistically, I'm a huge fan of Aussie interior stylist Mr Jason Grant - I love his relaxed aesthetic and his innate ability to throw together a beautiful composition." 
How does living in Somerset influence your work?
"Massively! I love the mix of the formal Georgian architecture in Bath and the contrast between this and the un-wielding natural beauty of the countryside. Whenever I can, I like to to use a similar contrast in my work. I think it's hugely important for everyone to look around their surrounding environment and soak up all of the sights and sounds - there's inspiration all around us, but Somerset has a special place in my heart."
What do you hope the future of Brit Decor will be?
"That's a tricky question - the blog is very organic and moves with me on my creative journey so I don't envisage a specific 'end product'. However, if it could be something of a household name, I think that would be pretty amazing"
What advice would you give to an aspiring blogger starting out today?
"Just do it! Start today and don't be afraid to experiment until you find your own unique voice."

For a little fun and to get down to the important stuff - here is our quick fire round! 
3 words to describe your blog
"Graphic, Interiors, Sincere" 
Your favourite holiday place to visit?
"Italy - enough said!" 
Your favourite colour?
"Chalky grey" 
Your favourite texture?
Your favourite scent?
"On myself - SpiceBomb by Viktor & Rolf. For my home, 'Tranquility' by Essence + Alchemy." 

As a keen baker what would be your signature bake?
"My Malteaser cake, just because it's insanely chocolatey and begins with an 'M'!"

Friday, 14 August 2015

Brit Decor: Two colour walls / Monochrome

Images (from top) 1/ Michiarchitecture 2/ Weekday Carnival 3/ Nineteen Whales 
4/ Sketch 42 5 & 6 / Desire to Inspire

It's difficult not to overlook the growing number of interiors sporting the latest trend in paint decoration; two colour, or half-painted walls. If like me, your approach to paint shopping is akin to that of a kid in a candy store due to the vast library of paint choices available, then this may be the trend for you! Let's indulge.

One of the many aspects I love about this amazingly simple trend is that you don't need a dado rail to achieve the 'look'. In fact, one of the big visual draws to this style of decor is the clean-cut dividing line between the two paints, which can be achieved merely with some masking tape. It is so simple, it's beautiful.

Today I've honed in on one of my favourite colour-combos to explore this style - monochrome. This classic black versus white palette delivers such a decisive contrast, it is guaranteed to get pulses racing. It's also a great way of breaking up a wall space and creating a more intimate feel. Maximum impact here we come!

As with many key styles, it's easy to bring your own creative identity to the mix with variations on this trend, as shown in image no.3 'above', with a more dashed roller finish. Equally dramatic but slightly softer, is an ombre effect, which gives a more gradual tone between two colours. But for now my money's on the cleaner line for that uber-sharp contrast.

I am seriously tempted, are you??

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Brit Decor: Powers-up/ Banana & the Gang Smoothie

Images / Copyright Mike Ahern

Midweek slump? I suffer from these most weeks, in fact, probably most days. I attribute this frequent occurrence to a theory that I am burning off so much creative energy, it's leaving me drained! However, I think I may have found the perfect antidote after re-discovering the merits of smoothies, following an impulse purchase of a Nutribullet. Since then I have noticed a distinct boost in my energy levels and a greater sense of feeling good about myself.

I want to be clear, this is not a promotional post and there are other brilliant smoothie-makers available, but I just happened to choose this brand because of its incredibly straightforward function. Having seen my amazing Sister demonstrate just how easy it is to clean after use (my old smoothie machine literally required complete dismantling) - I knew that a Nutribullet was the right brand for me.

I have been through countless phases of obsessing about my 5-a-day intake for as long as I can remember, with varying degrees of success. The bottom line is that I don't always enjoy munching on a piece of fruit, and ashamedly, there are occasions where fruit & vegetables, still edible, have been confined to the composter for early retirement because I have simply lacked the inspiration to eat them!

However, onto a new chapter of healthy intakes, and I've not only cut-out the wastage of fruit & veg, I have even bought additional ingredients that I wouldn't normally eat on their own, such as nuts and seeds.

So I thought today would be a good day to share one of my favourite pick-me-up smoothie recipes - brilliant for that mid-week or mid-afternoon dip in energy levels and perfect for staving off those niggling urges for a naughty snack. This is also a vitamin powerhouse with the addition of the Vitamin C-oozing Kiwi fruit!

I've called this particular concoction 'Banana + the Gang' because there are too many ingredients to fit into one name and, you've guessed it, Bananas are the predominant fruit here. I also like the sound of any name that has a hint of a 1980's pop group about it!

2 Bananas
1 Kiwi
1 apple (cored)
4 Raspberries
4 Grapes
1 Date
6 walnuts
1tsp honey (Manuka)
1tsp mixed seeds
Add water or Almond milk


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