Sunday, 29 November 2015

Brit Decor: Copper/ Subtle Accents Makeover










Gold with its traditional connotations of being the material of champions, has taken second place in my design palette this year. Albeit a very closely run race, I've most definitely been coveting copper as my favourite and winning metallic of 2015.

No surprise then that I have recently been scouring the shops for a copper pendant light for our living room at the cottage, until eventually I found this striking beaten copper shade from online retailer, Ocado - to my surprise! 

I love the fiery warm tones emitted by copper, which like gold, takes on a luxurious reflective light-emitting quality during these dark Winter evenings here in the UK, particularly magical when placed next to dancing candlelight.

I decided to draft in some copper-toned accents to compliment our new pendant and to help usher in some warmth. I began by printing off a photo I took of the dashingly rich terracotta-coloured Kew Palace, to introduce a graphic and more personal element. I then added some more select warm and earthy tones, including my favourite clay vase (see 'below'), and as runner-up, gold got a look-in too with a tiny candle holder and the luxe-detailing on my Gatsby linen cushion.

So with just a few simple styling elements I was able to create a mini-copper makeover - don't you just love interior styling?
































All Images / Mike Ahern

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Brit Decor: My top 5 kitchen styling picks!









It's been one of those busy weeks filled with collaborative projects, which I love working on because it's a great way of meeting new people and topping up on inspiration - double hit! 

My focus today is turning to kitchen work surfaces and how to create a knockout scheme based around these. I've also drafted in the help of UK supplier Modern Worktops from where I have chosen all of todays granite & quartz materials, as examples of how to ace a kitchen scheme.

I love the scheme 'above' which I put together under the theme of Cloudburst due to the moody greys and how these seamlessly fuse with crisp whites - like a collection of clouds. There's a touch of Scandinavian influence in here too with the pale wood tones. My inspiration was driven by Modern Worktop's White Arabesque Granite.

My Purist scheme, immediately 'below' is for the minimalist seeking refuge from a hectic world. The clean white lines of the kitchen units are a perfect match for the chalky white and very subtle greys found in the Crystal Quartz White

In complete contrast to the previous scheme, I've upped the temperature with the Fire palette (also 'below). Indulging in rich copper tones inspired by Juparana Sol granite, this heartwarming material is crying out to be paired up with on-trend copper accessories, don't you think?

Monochrome gets me every time! But why the twist 'below'? Blend in some warmer off-whites and we have Cosmic Black granite, which looks incredible when styled with warm rustic woods.

Finally we finish off with some deep and alluring blues styled against Venetian Night quartz, which I have fused with some glistening golds. Suddenly I find myself transported to a Summer's night in Venice!  

There are many more stunning worktops to be found over at www.modernworktops.co.uk



















Images (from top) 1/ The Design Chaser 2/ Style Juicer 3/ Vtwonen 4/ Est Magazine
5/ Desire to Inspire / All granite/quartz samples from Modern Worktops

Brit Decor: Retail Therapy/ A flying visit to HAY












You know when it's been one of those busy weeks  - all about work and very little play? Well I'm having one of those weeks and it's only Wednesday! In these extreme circumstances there's only one serious contender as an antidote to this relentless work ethic - yep you've guessed it - retail therapy.

One of the many benefits of living near Bath is that it is now home to the UK's first ever HAY store. In fact, there's been a recent influx of interiors stores opening their doors on this awesome city, with India Jane, Brissi and now OKA just a stones throw from HAY. Perusing this haven of Danish cool really is one of my favourite things to do, not least because I can pretend that it's 'research', when strictly speaking, it's not! 

Anyway, I merely wanted to share with you my little pick-me-up purchase - a waffle cotton guest towel - brand new to HAY. Being the minimalist that I am, I opted for this smokey grey colour, but this uber-soft towel also comes in blue and light grey. And what's not to like about the monochrome tote shopping bag!?  So now I am scanning the 2016 brochure for the next time I'm in need of some retail therapy...

Have you indulged in some interiors-related retail therapy recently? Do share!




















Images / Mike Ahern

Monday, 23 November 2015

Brit Decor: 5 steps to the perfect living room with Arlo & Jacob









This was a pretty fun project to work on with the team over at Arlo & Jacob, who (if you don't already know) puts the 'C' into craftsmanship by producing some incredibly stylish sofas and chairs, right here in the UK.

As many of us will be aware, it's one thing to buy a piece of great furniture, but to really get the most out of it - the look and feel of its new home should be given key consideration too. So with five easy steps I am going to walk through how to achieve the perfect living room, with a little help from my friends.

#1 Social
As with any room, thinking about how the space will be used is really important. If you are a social butterfly and love having guests over to yours, consider positioning seating opposite each other for a more engaging atmosphere.

#2 Start Big
It's easier to place the larger items of furniture in a room first, such as a sofa. This will immediately identify how much remaining space is available for smaller items such as coffee tables and floor lamps.

#3 Make an Entrance
This may sound obvious but it's an aspect commonly overlooked in home decor. The entrance to a room is the first and last thing that you and your guests will, so be sure to lend this some creative attention.

#4 Form Follows Function
Say what? before positioning furniture within a scheme, plan the route of walkways through and around the room. Ideally there should be a flow of movement through a room whilst furniture around the path can be used to create natural room dividers.

#5 Layer-up
For me, accessories are just as important as the larger furnishings. These are, if you like, the glue that binds a scheme together and brings the all-important character and identity to a room. I prefer to begin this styling process by introducing textiles such as cushions, throws, and rugs to a scheme, followed by decorative accessories.

If you'd like to find out more about the full Arlo & Jacob range, please hop on over to their website: www.arloandjacob.com
























Images 1/  Design Milk 2/ Maria Killam 3/ Coco Crazy 4/  Apartment Therapy
 5/ The Design Files  6/ Dreambook Design

Friday, 20 November 2015

Brit Decor: Spotlight/ Furniss & May









Don't you just love that inspired feeling when you stumble across something that, aesthetically, hits all the right buttons? This is exactly what happened when I first caught a glimpse of London-based interior design agency, Furniss & May.

With a pretty eye-catching portfolio under their belts, this design agency headed up by Jayne Furniss and Simon May, has been busily creating incredible interiors for retail, leisure, corporate and residential clients. And not every interior designer can claim they have designed luxury WC's for iconic British store, Harvey Nichols, right?

With a refreshing approach to design and a total of 35 years of industry experience between them, Jayne and Simon created Furniss and May. Based in an industrial-inspired studio (images below), their philosophy is simple; to 'focus on the desired emotional response and work backwards'. 

So with creative inspiration in mind, I thought it was time to catch-up with this dynamic duo and find out more... 











How did it all begin for Furniss & May?
3 years ago Jayne and I decided the time was right (long overdue in fact) to take the plunge and establish our own design practice. We'd worked together before at a couple of places so things like trust and respect were already established. We also discovered we shared common ambitions and had similar ideas about the shape and design business of tomorrow would take. So we went for it. 

Can you walk us through a typical working day?
There isn't really such a thing as a typical day in the world of interior design and that's what keeps it so refreshing. We could be conducting a client presentation, surveying a new site or visiting a live site where works are underway, meeting with suppliers, networking, or briefing our team of amazing designers on the latest project in the studio. There's a lot a hum-drum daily grind too but the high points really make up for it. 















Which part of the design process excites you the most?
Without doubt it's the front end and for us the fun starts when we pick up a genuine lead for a new project. There's lots of stumbling blocks along the way and I see the approach to how we pitch our services and how we sell ourselves as a part of the creative process. All our principles and values need to be on display and clearly understood at this initial stage so that by the time the client is fully on board and the real design work begins they already have a good feel for what they can expect from the journey if not the end result. 

Do you have a current favourite interiors trend?
Every design we create is tailored for each clients individual needs, we research a lot and that can involve exploring emerging and current trends in say consumer habits or materials development, which can begin to feed into our work. So we tend not to follow trends as by their very nature, trends come and go, but take a look at our Pinterest as this gives a great snapshot of the mood boards our design team are currently creating to inspire our clients.














You've produced some incredible designs for Harvey Nichols - what's it like working with such an iconic client?
They're a brand with an amazing heritage and a first class reputation so the weight of the responsibility here is not lost on us. However we like to think we approach every project and every client with the same level of passion, enthusiasm and attention to detail so that everything we touch receives the same first class, tailored service. 

Are there any other iconic clients or buildings that you would love to work with?
I'd love to work with Macy's in New York. They're an Iconic business right in the heart of the Manhattan, offering amazing brands in a building with charm and interest. We'd love to layer some London-cool over all the great things they're already doing. It could be a great meeting of minds. Yup, it's Macy's for me. 















What was the inspiration behind the ultra-cool F&M studio design?
We're big believers in appealing to the senses through design as its a great way for a brand to make a real human connection with its audience. One way to achieve this is through careful consideration of materials, finishes, textures and styles. Old new, hard soft, rough smooth, light dark - we love these contrasts and have used them lightheartedly in our studio environment. 

Can you describe the style of decor in your own home in just three words?
Colourful. Playful. Eclectic. 











What do you hope the future holds for Furniss & May?
More of the same please just a little bit bigger. Clients, projects, opportunities, challenges. We're a young business but we're established now and can't wait to see how far we can take this amazing experience.   





Images

Simpson Carpenter
Granite
Photographer: Seb Barros www.sebbarros.com

Harvey Nichols
Photographer: John Stewardson www.johnstewardson.com

Hare & Hounds
Photographer: Jack Adams www.jackspiceradams.com

Map by The Future Mapping Company

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Brit Decor: Meets Function + Form












After a quick rescue mission from my overactive spam filter, I recently discovered that much to my excitement I had been invited to the first ever Function+Form event in London. The invite came from the lovely Annie Kruse from Style Juicer and the amazing Tiffany Grant-Riley, of Curate & Display, who after joining creative forces with sponsors, at{mine, launched what was to be a truly creatively-inspired gathering .

The venue was the industrial-look Forge & Co space at Heals. The concept; a relaxed and informal gathering of creatives from the blogosphere & instagram, along with two very talented guest speakers/makers. Throw in a delicious brunch around a beautifully styled table, and we had all the ingredients for a wonderful Saturday morning of creative chatter.

First up was Potter, Jono Smart who has been on an epic journey of discovery throughout his career and arrived at pottery as his latest creative output, as well as being the perfect antidote to the pressures of everyday life. True to form, Jono's pieces reflect an uncomplicated and organic approach with simple lines and colouring. 

At the event we were lucky enough to see some of Jono's work up close and personal. I loved the very tactile feel of his pottery - each piece had a slightly rough texture on the outside which contrasted with a smooth internal glaze. I need this collection in my life!

Second to share her creative journey with us was one half of Northern Ireland's Enrich & Endure, Sarah Quinn, with her infectious smile. Along with her brother, Lorcan, these dynamic siblings created a beautifully crafted range of 'Makers uniforms' using Irish linen, exquisite craftsmanship and reviving the local linen industry in the process.

The collection of aprons that we viewed and handled at Function + Form, not only looked stunning, but are also made to last - improving with every wash cycle, and testament to both the expert craftsmanship and the superior quality of the linen materials used.

What struck me most about both Jono's and Sarah's wares was how in this age of 'throw-away' they had both clearly invested a great deal of thought into creating products that will endure the test of time and only improve with age.

#WeAreFunctionAndForm





















































Images/ (from top) 1,2,3,5,7,10,11&12/ Mike Ahern 4&6 / Jono Smart 8&9/ Enrich & Endure


Friday, 13 November 2015

Brit Decor: Cool Christmas/ Simplified Festive Styling










Not everyone may consider themselves to be a stylist, but as we pick up the baton for the final leg of the race towards Christmas, many of us will be styling our homes with festive-inspired decorations. Quite simply put; it's seasonal 'bling'.

Undeniably there's a certain quintessential charm associated with the notion of 'decking the halls' for Christmas, with a traditional fir tree serving as the pinnacle for decorations and a dispensary of gifts. 

When we first moved into our cottage, I could barely wait for Christmas to arrive and when the time came I showered our living room in some highly traditional trimmings, complete with wood-burning stove for the ultimate in winter-wonderland cosiness, even if it was all just a tiny bit predictable.

Since then I have wanted to explore other styles such as last year's metallics with my 3D copper gem decorations and a selection of warming copper & gold trimmings to complete the glimmering look. 

However, this year has been a particularly busy one for me and I have a sense that it won't take too much to bring on a sense of festive fatigue. This December I am going to take a decidedly relaxed approach with some very simplistic Scandi-inspired styling. I will be looking to scale-back on the amount of decorations I choose to include and there will be an emphasis on natural materials (maybe I'll even embark on a foraging session for pine cones, mistletoe and holly?). 

Controversially, I may even omit the faithful fir tree from proceedings this year - less will definitely be more in our house this Christmas. So here are some of my top tips for a simplified celebration of Christmas in the home.





























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