Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Brit Decor: Pottery Crush/ Helen Levi

Large & thumbnail images / Helen Levi / Graphic Compositions / Mike Ahern

This post is purely fuelled by inspiration...well this and my ongoing crush for handmade pottery! There is something so simple and organic about this dreamy collection homeware goodies from NYC based potter and photographer, Helen Levi, that I just wanted to share it with you. 

Pottery is making headlines these days and Helen's pieces are no exception with high profile mentions in publications such as American Vogue (the September issue no less) and House Beautiful, to name but a few. And it's easy to see why. 

In an age of mass production it's good to see that many of us home-lovers are turning to uniquely handcrafted products to adorn our nests - each piece an individual work of art. It's for this same reason that I've fallen head-over-heels for Helen's collection of earthy-toned ceramics and quirky pieces, all of which are the kind of wares that I would like to leave on display in my kitchen, rather than tucked away in a cupboard.

I hope you enjoy this collection.


Monday, 28 September 2015

Brit Decor: Talk the Talk/ 5 Ace Accents

Images (from top) / 1 Pernille Kaalund 2/ Pop & Scott 3/ Bungalow 4/ Dulux 5/ Tom Dixon

Developing a fluency in accent colours is key to mastering interior design. This oh-so simple technique really can create a room scheme that is a cut above the rest. I crave for those moments when I stumble upon a room where accents have been given primary consideration - serving as a colour map, guiding my eyes around the scheme from hue to beautiful hue. Just like a colour chart where corresponding colours are grouped together for maximum effect - in an accented room, the palette will fall together perfectly.

I've been lapping up Habitat's series of videos and interviews with celebrities, called #HabitatVoyeur, and I was struck in particular by the home of Queen of the high street, Mary Portas, with its pitch-perfect application of accents, especially so in the ground floor day room. The plush green velvet of the mid-twentieth century arm chairs set against the corresponding painting behind make for an incredible focal point. Note how the earthy green in the artwork is pulled into the room via the chairs and surrounding houseplants, the same painting is also put to similar use as it's warmer tones pair-up with the rich orange sofa. 

For my colour accent inspiration today, I have pulled up five room schemes - each posing 'palette perfection' delivered through artworks, which serve as the key source of accent colours in each of these rooms. Strands of corresponding colour have then been threaded from each of these works and into the rooms via accessories and wall paints, to create a narrative of accented colour, with amazing results!

Whatever the colour, there's an accent just waiting to join the party!

Friday, 25 September 2015

Brit Decor: Sunday Slouch with Soak & Sleep

 Images / Copyright Mike Ahern

I literally couldn't wait for last weekend to arrive, comforted in the knowledge that after enduring a truly manic week, I had the perfect excuse to indulge in a 'slouchy Sunday'. A few days earlier I had received some very special treats in the post from one the UK's leading bed and bath brands, Soak & Sleep, also voted 'Top Rated Duvet Brand' by Which? magazine, and so Sunday was to be my 'test-drive' day.

My delivery consisted of a men's brushed cotton flannel PJ set and super-soft Egyptian cotton bath towels - I had all of the ingredients to kick-back and relax my way through Sunday. I began my day by perusing some of favourite magazines in bed, and a cup of peppermint, nettle and ginkgo tea, which always helps ease me into the morning. 

One of my treats, when I can afford the time, is a long soak in a hot shower, and this became my next indulgence, even more so with the aid of my new Egyptian cotton bath towel in dramatic 'Smoke' colour. At home I tend to opt for the more expensive blend of cotton towel because of the comfort factor and their longevity compared with more economical equivalents. The dark smokey-grey tone of the towels now also looks great against the white brick wall tiles in our bathroom.

Showered and refreshed, I then slipped back into my soft and dreamy brushed cotton flannel fabric PJ's in chalky grey, with accompanying white cotton t-shirt, and made my way downstairs for a cup of vanilla coffee on the sofa, where I love to gaze out at the garden.

It's amazing how a slow and relaxing start can really set the pace of your day, I felt utterly relaxed and ready to face a new week, thanks to my friends at Soak & Sleep.

What constitutes a slouchy Sunday for you?

This post is in collaboration with Soak & Sleep

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Brit Decor: Loves/ Cordello Home

Images / Cordello Home / Graphics / Mike Ahern

Today, the Autumn Equinox, the Season of fiery shades and colourful fireworks, seems a very apt point at which to share with you an exciting array of colour-burst designs. It is no secret that I'm not a huge fan of the Winter, however, in terms of the perfect antidote, this seems like a good moment to turn to colour and pattern as an interiors version of a flu-shot in the arm.

No surprise then that I was immediately drawn to the heart-warming new Signature range from Cordello Home. Check out their breakfast tray 'above' in a to-die-for marine blue and handmade in Sweden. Then there's the Seasonal must-have superfine Geelong lambswool throw, as well as Cordello's other fun and vibrant homewares in energetic shades of purple, cerise, emerald and yellow.

Relative 'newbie' to the scene, Cordello Home was launched by Kate Shaw in July 2014, and the collections are heavily influenced by graphic design, colour and pattern, which gives the brand it's distinctive look. Just in case you needed another reason to fall in love with this beautiful collection, each design is based around a heart shape!

Cordello Home will also be at Tent London.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Brit Decor: 5 Ways to Make a Killer Feature Wall!

Images/ 1/ My Scandinavian Home 2/ Bo Bedre 3/ Simply Selecta 4/ Notorious Mag 
5/ Blog Anthropologie 6/ Sarah Sherman Samuel

Have you ever looked around a room in your home, or somebody else's, and thought to yourself, 'this needs a feature wall'? If you answered 'yes', then today I have just the post for you, with five key means of transforming a wall into an eye-popping feature!

Personally I love a good feature wall and this tends to be one of my signature looks when designing and styling rooms. It's a simple and effective way of pinpointing attention to one key area in a room, and creating a feature can be dead easy too...

If you are a fan of Pinterest, you'll know how fun it is to pin your favourite images to handpicked boards. Well this is the 'real' version - gather together some favourite 'looks', be it images and artworks, wallpaper, furnishings or accessories, and apply to your chosen wall. For added impact, painting the chosen wall in a vibrant hue will really make a wall sing out!

1. There are so many gorgeous shapes, patterns and textures to chose from when it comes to tiles. A fast and effective way of creating an exciting display wall is to add randomly patterned patchwork tiles. Have fun and design your own tiles - there are many manufacturers who will print designs/photos onto tiles and these can easily be interspersed with plain ones (as shown 'above').

2. Practical doesn't have to be boring, in fact why not explore the new utility style with an on-trend pegboard? Adding some wall planters will immediately soften the look and bring some healthy colour to any tool collection.

3. Release your inner-disco dancer. Wallpapers are an excellent source of inspiration, and opting for a colour-burst design will really awaken the senses and create a show-stopping feature wall. This can also be an awesome starting point for accenting and co-ordinating accessories throughout a room.

4. Create a mini-jungle! Plants look incredible indoors too and are now an essential feature of many stylish homes. So why not exploit this look to the max by grouping together several plants in different shapes, textures and sizes. For added interest, why not mix-in a stunning foliage-inspired print?

5. Vanity project? Mirrors have long been a friend of interior stylists because of their space and light creating illusionary properties, and for this reason they can deliver a top-billing feature. Naturally for our feature wall, we'll be going oversized for maximum impact.

What makes your ideal feature wall? I'd love to know!

Friday, 18 September 2015

Brit Decor: Bakes/ Plum's the Word!

Images / Copyright Mike Ahern

Plums seem to be a bit of a family tradition for me, although I confess I don't grow my own at the cottage, my grandparents and great-grandparents were home growers, and I can distinctly remember my childhood curiosity at being able to pluck food from their trees and eat it!

Well today, I am turning to the good old Plum once again for some much sought after comfort eating.  This bake is packed full of flavours and textures with the chopped hazelnuts delivering a subtle crunch to the sponge, whilst the dark chocolate chunks bring a sweet and indulgent twist. The softened baked plums are divine and their juices released during the baking process, bring together the overall flavour.

A must-have Autumn bake!

5 Plums
170g Self-raising flour
170g Light Muscovado sugar
170g Unsalted butter
3 Medium eggs
50g Dark chocolate chunks 
50g Chopped Hazelnuts
1 tsp Baking powder
3 tsp Plum jam (or flavour of your choice)

How to make: 
Grease a 20cm cake tin and preheat the oven to 180oc. Take 3 of the plums, cut these in half and de-stone. Place the halved plums to one side. De-stone the remaining two plums and chop into uneven pieces. Roughly break apart the dark chocolate into uneven small-ish chunks.

Put the butter, flour, sugar, eggs, chopped hazelnuts and baking powder into a mixing bowl and using an electric mixer, blend these ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Add the chocolate pieces and chopped plums and gently mix in with the other ingredients. Add the mixture to the baking tin.

Position the halved plums on top of the mixture, pressing down lightly and then place the cake tin in the oven to bake for around 40-45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool slightly before removing from the tin and placing on a wire rack. Once the cake is completely cool, gently heat the plum jam until runny, and then brush this over the top of the cake.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Brit Decor: Volume/ Loud Vs Quiet Schemes

                           Images/ 1 Trust your Blood & Decor Dots 2/ Line T Klein 3/ Wander-lusted 4/ Fiona Lynch
5/ The Decorista 6/ Apartment 34 7/ Foter

Describing something, be it an item of clothing or an interior, as 'loud' can sometimes have negative connotations depending on the context in which it was said, of course. However, today on Brit Decor, loud is proud, as I explore ways in which to create high-volume interiors. But it doesn't end here, as we can easily switch the volume dial to the opposing end of the spectrum with 'quiet' and relaxing schemes. So today I am looking at both of these juxtaposing volumes in search of just the right pitch.

Colour is key; bold and vibrant colour choices will lift the energy of a room in an instant, so mixing together one or more of these colours, particularly in contrasting hues, can create explosive results. Chalky neutrals and pastel shades will soften the light and bring a relaxed ambience to a scheme - think Scandinavian-style!

Pattern versus plain; for increased contrast and volume, mixing multiple patterns can create a mind-blowing mix, for example, stripes and chevrons. Softer patterns such as the ultra-cool ombre effect or watercolours, create a softer and more dreamy look, whilst plain pastel fabrics will bring the volume right down to a calm-cool. 

Mixed-materials; high-vis graphic prints are a sure fire way of shouting 'interest' in a room, grouping these together in contrasting styles,colours and/or patterns will increase the volume dramatically. Equally, sharply defined framework furniture can show-off architectural detail whilst offering contrast with say, a geometric rug. For low-volume materials, white Marble is a key choice with it's calming swirls of grey and white. Wood is another natural material which can sooth a scheme into submission, particularly paler blonde woods.  

The big question is: Which volume are you?

Monday, 14 September 2015

Brit Decor: Loves/ A Splash of Colour

I think a colour-shot in the arm may be required to get this new week underway, and luckily, I may just have found the perfect tool!

I am always searching for new and exciting sources of inspiration and ways to shop for interior accessories online, which is why new British e-store, A Splash of Colour, really caught my eye when I recently stumbled across them on Twitter.

Whilst the influx of new web-based shops shows no sign of cooling down, the pressure is on for new and original concepts to stand apart from the competition. A Splash of Colour is the brainchild of PR and Comms professional, Natasha Brody, and is based on one very simple principal - Natasha's love of colour, furniture and design.

The site looks sharp, simple and is loaded with bold colours and attention-grabbing products. As a shopper, it's oh-so simple to navigate around the store by choosing a colour from the scrolling list of swatches, which instantly delivered a selection of furniture and accessories in my chosen hue. Alternatively, if you are looking for a particular product, say a coffee table, just select this from the scrolling list of line-drawn thumbnails, and an array of trend-conscious coffee tables will appear.

I hope you are inspired, Happy Monday.


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