Gosh, it’s been a while hasn’t it! Apologies, I’ve been in a whirlwind of crazy work deadlines coupled with preparing for the new arrival of small person. My head is spinning there is so much to do, but I think I am top of it all. We shall see!
Anyway, just a short one today, but I wanted to celebrate the not-so-humble faux flower. Banish all thoughts of naff plastic or fabric floral concoctions of yesteryear, I am referring to the recent renaissance led mostly by the ever-fabulous Abigail Ahern. After stocking them in her own Atelier to now collaborating with Heals, Abigail is putting the faux flower firmly back on the interiors map as something beautiful and sophisticated for the home. And I am a huge fan!
I was the very lucky recipient of six huge deep purple hydrangea stems on Mother’s Day – the best present ever – which now have pride of place in the living room. I adore them! I fear this could be an obsession that spirals out of control. Not a bad obsession to have though. Good faux flowers really are a thing of beauty and can elevate a space beyond belief. I urge you to investigate Abigail Ahern’s single stems as well as the glorious bouquets and plants on offer… Grasses and cacti matched with hedgerow flowers really can pack a punch. And Abigail Ahern also offers a very competitively-priced flower school, which I will certainly be enrolling on as soon as I have some down time.
Abigail Ahern may be leading the pack, but she is not entirely alone. There are other faux flower outlets to snoop around such as Neptune, John Lewis, Cox & Cox, and a personal favourite – and a definite for anyone who likes to dabble in a bit of ‘craft’ – HobbyCraft.
I am a Christmas decorations hoarder! My obsession is getting a little out of hand I think… the Christmas tree is positively creaking under the weight of them this year. But this won’t deter me. I’ve been collecting them for years. My current favourites are four beautiful exquisitely delicate hand-blown glass birds that we picked up in Prague earlier this year after a particularly red-wine fuelled lunch… the next day I worked out how much I’d spent on them and let’s just say it was a lot more than I’d originally thought.
There has never really been a Christmas tree “theme” at home. It’s definitely a case of more is more – as it should be in The Maximalist home! – a veritable feast of heirloom treasures, handmade delights the children have made over the years, gifts from friends, charity-shop vintage finds, mementos from our travels, treats I’ve bought myself at designer-maker fairs, all mixed up with new decorations I inevitably buy during the course of each year. I love combining different textures such as glass, metal, porcelain, glitter balls, fabric, felt, beads, paper… it makes for an extremely tactile tree and one that conjures up every child’s (and grown-up kid’s) dream of a magical Christmas land where fairies hang out next to robots, sequined butterflies and fantastically feathered exotic birds.
So I thought I would share this decoration delight with you and point you in the direction of some truly gorgeous Xmas decs. This is by no means an exhaustive list, as there is so much out there at the moment. There’s still time to get hold of them, and there’s always next year after all!
For a magical twist on tradition head over to the frankly incredible Christmas Shop at Liberty. There are some wonderful tongue-in-cheek iconic decs shouting “London”, such as the double-decker bus, Big Ben, the Royal corgi dog, and of course a stunning crown. I especially adore the glass globe range of decorations, my favourite being the blue crested bird… might just have to get that one myself! There’s also the Queen in a globe, which made me chuckle. I am also loving the very striking glass humming bird on sale at the moment.
I’ve always been a fan of Paperchase‘s quirky, kitsch take on Xmas tree decorations: in the past I’ve bought robots, dinosaurs, and this year it’s the Jesus effigies that are really making me smile.
Rockett St George has an absolutely fantastic Christmas shop this year. I could very nearly buy everything there! I am completely in love with the glass whale decoration, the set of six glass Mexico baubles and the Love Has Wings dec… I strongly advise a virtual visit! They have some fantastic lights too.
Anthropologie has some beautifully unusual Xmas decs on offer. The scarfed critter ornaments are particularly inspired! And the forest soiree creatures are the stuff of childhood dreams…
If you would like something a little less fussy, have a look at the smooth lines offered by Jonathan Adler.
Today I want to talk about mirrors. I adore them. We currently have one whole wall of the upstairs bathroom covered in salvaged 1940s and 1950s mirrors. And why not?! Mirrors not only serve an obvious function, they are a wonderful device in the home for bringing more light into a room. They quite literally reflect and bounce light around an otherwise dimly-lit room. Or they can flood an already well-lit room with even more light. And mirrors can double the size of a room just by clever positioning. So, don’t think of the mirror as just a surface into which to see your reflection. They really are a thing of magic. Try and experiment and use them in the home in unconventional settings.
A mirror above a fire place is I imagine fairly ubiquitous in most homes, but why not place it off centre? Or arrange a collection of mismatched mirrors over the fire place instead. A mirror resting on the floor and leaning against a wall is a great way of bringing the eye down to floor level and then leading it up a wall. It’ll add height to a room.
And mirrors don’t have to be shiny and new to be effective. Tarnished, beaten-up mirrors are beautiful and add character to a space. And they will still bounce light around a room even if you cannot properly see into them. If you are feeling adventurous, why not try aging a mirror yourself. Follow this tutorial for fantastic results.
Consider scale too. An over-sized mirror in an unexpected setting can look incredible, so too can a diminutive mirror! If I have managed to whet your appetite for all things marvellously mirrored, then shop around as there are some fantastic finds to be had. Rockett St George has a beautiful current selection; for some truly spectacular mirrors check out Alex MacArthur Interiors; The Old Cinema often has some real treats available; and NotOnTheHighStreet offers a vast array of affordable mirrors, with some incredible starburst styles to pick from.
Apologies for the radio silence. I’ve been super busy the last few weeks getting things ready and setting up a new space in a retail outlet. All very exciting.
The 1986 film Pretty In Pink became a formative part of my teenage years. Yet, the colour pink in the home has never really done it for me. Well, not until recently that is. I confess to being a complete convert!
Pink in the home can be used in so many different ways. You can introduce subtle pastel pink hues or go full-on saturated in-your-face-pink, or somewhere in the middle. Whole walls can be painted or just well-chosen accent pieces… There is huge scope for experimentation. Combinations that work well are pink and copper, pink and black, pink and concrete, and if you’ve really got guts, pink and red. You can introduce colour through artwork, paint just a door, throw in a vibrant rug or some cushions. If you feel cautious start with soft furnishings as they are straightforward to change. Pink can be sensual or cosy, dramatic or subtle.
So if you are like me – basically turning my nose up at the thought of pink in the home until recently – feast your eyes on these visuals and hopefully you too will see the potential of pink!
a brief evocative description, account, or episode.
“a classic vignette of embassy life”
a small illustration or portrait photograph which fades into its background without a definite border.
In interior design terms, a vignette is a collection of objects displayed in such a way as to possibly create a ‘story.’ By this I mean the objects on display can go some way as to explain something about the person whose home it is – perhaps they love patterned crockery, or they are a voracious explorer, or they collect art, or they are passionate about shoes…
I am an ardent collector. I always have been. A veritable magpie, I freely admit. Over the years I have collected vintage bottles, coloured glassware, crockery, miniature chairs, postcards, tiles, religious effigies and artefacts, mirrors, brooches, scarves, paintings…and I could go on! And I am a great fan of creating vignettes. There are no hard and fast rules in my opinion, although objects do tend to work better if displayed in multiples of odd numbers. The beauty of a vignette is that you can change it as and when you feel like it. You can become your own interior ‘curator’. Don’t hide your possessions away. They speak volumes about who you are as a person and the experiences you have had throughout your life. I find great comfort in having objects that are dear to me dotted around the house… even if they do collect dust! At a base level they make me smile, and that’s never a bad thing in my book.
Possessions can spark wonderful memories of travels to far-off lands or ‘just because’ gifts from close friends. Why keep them in the loft? So I urge you to unpack your treasures and show them off with pride. There is no right or wrong, as you will see from the visuals that follow. Trust your gut. If you don’t like how certain objects work together, just swap them around a bit. It’s that simple. I particularly love out-of-context displays. For example, at home I have a collection of mismatched cups and saucers in one of our bathrooms just because the colours work well together. And why not…?
One thing to consider with any form of vignette is how to light it to create the most impact. This type of lighting is what is known as ‘accent’ lighting. You can achieve this by having table lamps dotted around next to any vignette you’ve created, or you could have directional lighting so you can angle lighting in a specific direction. Again, experiment to find out what gives the best end result. In my book a vignette should always have an edge of drama and that’s where the lighting can come into full effect. So go forth and rustle up a little bit of theatre in your home. I promise you’ll be hooked in no time!
The now ubiquitous pineapple was once a rare beast…
Indigenous to South America, the pineapple was introduced to northern Europe by the Dutch and the first successfully cultivated pineapple is recorded as having been grown in 1658. Catherine the Great was a huge fan and grew pineapples on her estate. Importing pineapples was expensive, so too was growing a tropical fruit in a temperate climate, so it wasn’t long before the pineapple was seen as a symbol of extreme wealth, becoming the subject of great rivalry between wealthy aristocrats.
Throughout history the pineapple has also been used widely as a design motif, symbolising warmth and hospitality. Incorporated into all manner of home furnishings – from furniture, ornaments, wallpaper, table linen, crockery – the popularity of the pineapple is alive and well. Currently referred to as a micro-trend within the world of interiors, the pineapple is still a curious-looking fruit, but with an undeniable big dollop of charm. I am a huge fan and I couldn’t care less if it’s become a design cliche! Long live the pineapple!
So here are some glorious ways you can incorporate the pineapple into your own home…