Tuesday, 10 March 2015

More tea Vicar?

Trend is a funny word. What does it mean to be 'trendy'? Does it mean you are good at following trends and implementing them or does it mean you are forward thinking and create your own?

I was recently asked by a friend if Orla Kiely (the design, rather than Orla herself...) was ok or....a little too try hard.....a little last year?

I guess my honest answer would be 'yes' to all of those three from a 'trend' perspective....but who gives a fig about that?

I didn't want to reply in the style of a man/husband/partner by saying...'If you like it, I like it.' Or....'If you like it, that's all that matters.' That would be just plain annoying as we all know!

Though, in actual fact, that is all that matters.  If you like it, go with it.

I do appreciate the dilemma though. There are certain designs/designers around at the moment that have dominated the high street for some time meaning that if you have an eye for originality, you should probably steer clear as it is bound to niggle visiting houses and seeing the same quilt cover, cake tin, apron, bag or hand painted animal mug!

On a slightly more mundane topic, I have been tasked with finding some storage containers  on the high street for tea and coffee. Not that easy for someone who doesn't drink either on a regular basis and therefore hides them away in a cupboard.

So these are the ones I came up with and they vary in price to nice but not so reasonable to not so reasonable in my opinion!

I'm a fan of colour, especially if your storage jars are going to be out on display. The ones below are definite display items....not to be hidden away in a cupboard.

 The two below from Habitat are possibly my favourites, with the Balham on the left coming in orange, yellow and grey and the Tira on the right in orange and white with the stripes. Range from £10.00.

The Alessi 'Gianni' jars below left start at around £12.00 and are both a bit of fun and a design classic.
Going back to Orla Kiely, I do happen to like the colours of the raised stem canisters below and this range starts at £10.00.

 For a more classic, country look the jar below is by Denby with a starting price of around £27.50 and in a variety of colours. Morphy Richards range start at approx. £12.00.


Very nice, but a little bit of a budget buster are the ranges above, both from Not on The Highstreet.com. The first range is by Tom Gloster and are £89.50 for a set of 3 (ouch!) and the white coffee, tea and sugar jars are £26.95 each.

And finally,  on a completely different note, before I run off and do the school run, this is  Lottie's Interiors reader Sue's newly painted front door. Inspired by reading one of my most popular posts yet on front doors! It looks the great, Sue. Very smart! For anyone interested, the colour is Farrow and Ball 'Pitch Blue'.

 Feel free to send me your front door pics. I'm looking for inspiration!


Friday, 6 February 2015

Lottie's Interiors and Paint by Conran

There are few names more synonymous with British design than Conran.

Sir Terence Conran is one of the world’s best known designers, restaurateurs and retailers. He made modern design accessible to many when he opened the first Habitat shop in Chelsea in 1964.

Today he heads up Conran and Partners, an architecture and design studio as well as owning shops, restaurants and hotels across the globe.

One of my most memorable experiences is of a trip to London in the early ‘90’s and marvelling at the flagship Conran Shop which opened in 1987 in the historic Michelin House on Fulham Road. I think I spent most of the afternoon in there before eating in Bibendum, one of the few times I have eaten in a ‘proper posh’ restaurant! Still today, no trip to London for me is complete without a visit to Peter Jones, Divertimenti on Brompton Road and the Conran Shop.

The Conran flare for design didn’t stop there, with the Conran children following in their father's footsteps. Jasper (fashion and design), Sebastian (design), Tom (restaurateur) and Sophie (cars, design and pies!)

So, you can imagine my excitement when I was approached by Paint by Conran asking if I had any projects with which they could be of assistance.
It just so happened that I had met a family living in the village we had moved in to who were in the process of renovating their beautiful Georgian farmhouse nestled in the centre of the village. Sarah asked me if I would help her transform their dining room in time for them to use it at Christmas. The perfect opportunity to look at Conran paints.

 A little bit about Paint by Conran
Paint by Conran is the culmination of 2 ½ years’ work and is a dedicated paint range developed in conjunction with The Conran Partnership and Sir Terence Conran. The range currently has 96 colours split into 5 collections, for ease of colour matching, as illustrated by the 5 images above and draws inspiration from the glorious British countryside. Paint by Conran has been created in partnership with Master Paintmakers who, as part of an international paint group, have been making paints for 120 years.
"I have always been passionate about colour because it adds flavour to life and can have a profoundly positive impact on our mood. (Sir Terence Conran)
The brief was to create a country look and not stray too much away from that but with an injection of colour to add depth and interest. Sarah had already chosen curtain fabric, the delicious Voyage ‘Hedgerow’ fabric. We set about creating a mini mood board which, to be honest, was not too difficult as when we opened up the Conran paint chart and set it against the fabric, the colour we selected pretty much jumped off the page like it was meant to be!
We picked out a colour in the fabric and matched it to Midnight Thyme from the Highland collection. As this is a deep, fairly rich colour, we then selected Pastures New from the Harvest collection to work alongside this.
And here’s the result.
And after....
I’m now trying to decide which colours and where I can introduce some Conran colour in to my own home!

For more information and to visit the website, click on www.paintbyconran.com

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Snow Designs and Interiors, Stamford.

Husband and I took a little trip to the picturesque Lincolnshire town of Stamford yesterday.
A couple of Stamford factoids.....
Stamford was the first town in the country to create a conservation area in 1967 and as a result has retained a rich architectural heritage. Stamford provided the backdrop for television costume dramas such as Middlemarch and the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice and it regularly features as a finalist in the Sunday Times list of the best places to live!
As well as being generally  a pleasant place to have a wander and a spot of lunch, Stamford also boasts a number of lovely interiors shops and Snow Designs is one well worth checking out.
Snow Designs and Interiors offers a veritable feast over four floors of interesting and unique products all sourced from independent British designers.
I've fallen in love with this place! It's crammed full of things I could buy. Lighting, furniture, prints, ceramics, mirrors, decorative bits and pieces and more. The shop frontage is really promising and inviting and stepping through the door just delivers on that promise.
Rather than pick out individual items (I would have struggled to narrow it down) I've just included a number of in store shots and would just urge you to pay Snow a visit if you are any where near by. Visit their Facebook page or take a look on the website.
Snow Designs and Interiors, 32 Mary's Street, Stamford. www.snowdesignsandinteriors.com




Sunday, 18 January 2015

Sundays - The fantasy versus the reality!

Sundays, in my head, are all about lazing around in comfy clothes, reading the Sunday papers and then lighting a fire and curling up on the sofa watching a good film.....possibly Great Expectations ( John Mills version) or something like that. The children will be playing together harmoniously or sitting doing their homework, unaided.

The reality is not quite this. We did watch a film. Postman Pat the Movie. Quite good....but not my choice. Scruffs? Not quite. Half way house with that one. I'm not dolled up to the nines, but with the possibility of a visit from friends, I thought I'd better make half an effort, at least.

In this respect, I have not learned from my mum. I once turned up at my parents' house, unexpectedly, to find mum in the garden wearing what I can only describe as the outfit of a mad woman. This consisted of short wellies, knee socks, cut off trousers and my dad's jumper. The piece de resistance was a scarf tied round her head with her hair poking up above like an erupting volcano. Not exactly The Good Life's Barbara! I was accompanied by a friend  (male) who had not met my parents before....Goodness knows what he thought.

The homework challenge is always something we look forward to. It's a battle of wills really. The combination of a  nearly 11 year old who will not be told when her answer is not quite (completely wrong) right and a 5 year old who is just not interested, full stop. (Unless it is crafting an imaginary creature out of toilet rolls and paint.) Harmonious it never is! I rarely feel as hot and bothered as I do than after homework sessions.....and I know I am not alone on this one!

I did get to have a quick glance at the property section of the paper. There was an article on range cookers which caught my eye.

I have never hankered after a real range....of the Rayburn, Aga variety. Always makes me smile (inwardly, of course) when, on property programs, house viewers enter a kitchen and coo the minute they spy a range or a Belfast sink....both, and they are unable to contain themselves!  Those I know that have ever owned a range (the real deal...not an electric version) complain of the inefficiency of running one in terms of fuel costs and the impracticability of having them on all the time.

The article concludes with a section on  quick and easy ways to cut your bills, in addition to ditching the range, taken from Good Housekeeping. Always of interest. I'm stealing their pointers....but they sounded like sensible ones.

  • Put foam strips on draughty windows and doors and this claims to save £35 - £50 per year. Secondary glazing also a worthwhile and cost effective solution.
  • Turn off the television instead of leaving it on standby. Claims to save £50-£90 per year.
  • Install a water efficient shower head for as little as £30. Could save a family of 4 £75 a year plus a further £90, if, like us, you are on a water meter. And/or, for a couple of pounds, add a shower timer.
  • Turning down your thermostat by just 1ÂșC can cut heating bills by around £75 a year according to the Energy Saving Trust. Save even more by turning off the radiators in rooms you rarely go in.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Post Christmas blues...and greens and neutrals....

Well. It's all over for another year. The tree is down and all the dec's are wrapped in tissue and back in their boxes,  tucked up and hibernating until next year.
The one good thing about de-Christmasing the house is that it is never cleaner!  Dust, like tumbleweed appears from behind the tinsel and in corners where furniture has been temporarily moved in order to house the tree.
With Christmas bringing a much needed respite from all things decorating related (in my own home at least...), I am now refreshed and ready to launch into 2015's projects.
A possible wallpapering of the downstairs cloak maybe?
Here are a few choice examples of contemporary wallpapers that I think would look great in a bathroom, downstairs loo or anywhere else for that matter!
Papers chosen from Zoffany, Cole & Son, Farrow & Ball, Sophie Conran for Arthouse and Harlequin.




Thursday, 4 December 2014

My Next-ra special Christmas wishlist!

As with many parents of young children at this time of year, I always think it's a nice touch to sit down with the littles and get them to write a letter to Father Christmas.  

Now, Father Christmas always replies...though he has somewhat made a rod for his  own back I feel,  in so far as he always hand writes the reply in a style very reminiscent of the writing in JRR Tolkien's 'Letters From Father Christmas'!  

It is mere coincidence that we have that book!  I can recommend it.
A friend pointed out that, on request, Father Christmas will type a reply!  Wish I'd known that 3 years ago!
Neither of my two have any particular requests this year. Phew. The 'requests' have tended to be costly and often end in disappointment...particularly with the 10 year old. Mobile Phone? No! My own iPad? No! Horse? No! Alpaca? Errr. No! Ad infinitum. 
No requests means a letter to Santa asking him to use his imagination. Fantastic. I know Santa enjoys shopping for little, inexpensive items that will bring as much pleasure as all of the afore mentioned budget busters!

With that job done and dusted I was approached by Next to compile my Nextmas Wishlist top 10. How could I refuse? I put on Sinatra 'The Ultimate Christmas' and off I wandered in to fantasy Christmas wish list land!

So. Here goes. My list, as you might expect, is compiled from the Home and Furniture range. In no particular order, my Nextmas Wishlist top 10 is as follows....and I will be writing to Father Christmas in due course!
            1. Classic Velvet silver Westcot bedstead.....for elegance in the bedroom.
            2. Textured panel cotton bed set......who can resist crisp, white bedlinen? 
            3. Brooklyn TV unit......contemporary, smart yet functional. The perfect balance.
            4. 7ft Grove Pine Christmas tree.......for a real look without the dropping needles.
            5. Silver luxury fur throw........for cosy cuddles by the fire.
            6. Large Curve Arm floor lamp.....stylish lighting in on trend grey.
            7. White Geranium and Jasmine fragrance 3 wick candle.....Mmmm. The scent....
            8. Pewter beaded mirror....metallics are bang on trend.
            9. 200 LED bright white fairy lights.....never have enough of these!
           10. Silver Chrysanthemum wallpaper.......perfect for a feature wall.

Follow this link to see all of the above and many, many more delicious, stylish, festive products that could so easily have made my top 10.

Have a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2015. xxx


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Batman! You've been framed...by eFrame.

We have recently tackled the children's bedrooms which was a relatively simple task. Carpets are being replaced later this month, but the rooms are stripped, lined and painted (white).

Both children chose blinds for their windows. This is not a curtain household, as you may have gathered. The five year old chose a lime green blind and the ten year old a raspberry pink blind. She is revisiting pink at the age of ten, having abandoned it for three or four years in favour of less 'girlie' colours.

Five year old then chose to replace his Mr Men framed poster with  more 'grown up' subjects, namely, Batman and his other superhero friends. I was happy to consider anything that wasn't Ninja Turtles! I actually think the old superhero posters have a strong design element....great colours. Captain America graces the playroom wall.....a particular favourite of the 'adult boy' in the house!

The Batman poster came from www.allposters.co.uk and I was lucky enough to have been approached by eFrame offering me a custom made frame at a discounted cost.  (Click on the link below to take you to their site.)

As this was for my son's superhero poster and not an inherited work of art, I chose a simple black reflective lacquer frame which lets the poster do the talking.

This photograph doesn't really do the framing justice. The frame perfectly suits the poster!

The eFrame service was excellent, I have to say. I asked a number of questions prior to ordering and the response was prompt and useful.This frame cost just under £50. Yes. You could go to Ikea and spend £20, but in actual fact I couldn't get the size required and also the general quality of construction (no gaping joints at corners...), backing and fixings is well worth the extra. The frame arrived well packaged and very quickly.  I was slightly surprised that the frame did not come with glass rather than plexi glass...but, again, eFrame came back to me straight away with a comprehensive response.

The frames come with what is called Clarity+ Glazing - Also known as plexi glass. It's 1.5mm thick and is sent out with 95% of eFrame frames.
This glazing has many advantages over and above traditional glass and actually costs  more money. eFrame swallow the additional cost as a company though because this is what they prefer the product to be shipped with.
They deal with many Top London Galleries and most of them choose to take this glazing over and above the 2mm float glass option (available on custom frames below 600mm x 600mm in size). Even the world famous auction house Christies takes this glazing option! I'm in good company then!
Not only do eFrame offer a comprehensive choice of custom and ready made frames but their site also has a 'design your own' section where you can upload a photo of your picture and then design your own frame and mount and see how it will look prior to ordering. A really useful tool. 


For more information on eFrame and for some great pointers in what to consider when framing pictures follow the links below.