Category Archives: Luxe Living

Dreaming of sunshine…

Huge apologies for the radio silence. It’s literally been months. Well I have had my third little bundle of joy. He arrived safe and sound in May and has been eating his way through day and night ever since. He is a robust little monkey and adored by the whole family. But I won’t waffle on about my beautiful little baby boy too much, promise. Suffice to say the house is a tip, every job is half finished, the garden is a jungle and I have just about learned not to get anxious as a result! It won’t last forever is what I keep telling myself.

So as I seem to spend most of my time of late in a sleep-deprived, fairly hallucinogenic state I do a lot of daydreaming. Pretty much all my poor baby brain can deal with right now. And what I am dreaming about is sunshine… yes lots of sunshine. What is going on with this so-called summer of ours?! I am not impressed. And as I am cultivating a jungle outside at the moment, I am also dreaming of beautiful outside spaces. So here are some gorgeous pics to help you mentally escape the greyness currently gracing our British skies. Blah to grey is all I can say! Enjoy. (All images from pinterest)

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For the love of NEON!

“One might not think of light as a matter of fact, but I do. And it is, as I said, as plain and open and direct an art as you will ever find.” Dan Flavin – American minimalist artist famous for creating sculptural objects and installations from commercially available fluorescent light fixtures.

I’ve always had a thing for lighting, in particular neon… In my first year at art college I went on a trip to Blackpool to see the lights in November. I was totally blown away by the gaudiness, the colours, the assault on the senses. I was in neon heaven! Neon has come in and out of fashion, and to a certain degree has become a bit of a design cliche of late. I haven’t let this deter me though. I still have a massive soft spot for all things neon.

It’s been used as a medium of expression over the years by many artists – Tracey Emin, Jason Rhoades, and Dylan Neuwirth to name but a few. It smacks of Soho and many an insalubrious area; circus tents and theme parks; Las Vegas and excess… and I love the fact that neon has a seedy edge to it. But it is also a thing of upmost beauty and the art of neon is incredible. My neon hero is Chris Bracey of God’s Own Junkyard, who sadly passed away in November 2014. I had the pleasure of various email communications with Chris prior to his death. If you have never heard of him I urge you to investigate his vast collection of work. “His work can be seen in films as diverse as Batman, Blade Runner and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The Rainbow Fancy Dress and Sonata Jazz Café signs in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut are both his: they now form part of the 700-strong collection in the Walthamstow workshop-cum-neon-museum.” The Guardian online, November 2014.

And if you are like me and dyeing to make something in neon yourself, then have a look at The Neon Workshop company based in Yorkshire. Set up by artist Richard William Wheater with the aim of teaching and exploring neon, it offers a number of different workshops. If you would like something closer to London, then why not try the fabulous Indytute – brainchild of the highly talented Calypso Rose – which offers neon-making courses delivered by The Neon Workshop.

With all this rain and grey sky, it’s a perfect time to be thinking about bringing a little light and colour into your home.

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Neon by artist Chris Bracey. (mbds.com)
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Saatchi Art Artist: Darren West; Neon 2014 Sculpture “Neon Stag”
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(pinterest)
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Lips S3 – Steel Kiss Oil on board with neon light outine, 60x80cm http://www.sarapope.co.uk/
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(pinterest)

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(pinterest)
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KATE SPADE NY shop display (pinterest)
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Moschino Cheap & Chic LFW Debut – ‘Make up Your Life!’

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Todd Sanders uses time-tested methods and no computers to hand-build his custom neon art. (pinterest)
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Airan Kang – “109 Lighting Books” Photo by Gerard Dalmon on Flickr.com
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Design Milk Jung Lee, I Want To Be Your Love, 2012
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Jason Rhoades at Institute of Contemporary Art (pinterest)
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By Tracey Emin (Bloglovin’)
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(Pinterest)
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(pinterest)
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Gods Own Junkyard | Neon ‘On Air’ Angel sculpture (godsownjunkyard.co.uk)
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Forever in My Heart, by Chris Bracey. Beautifully kitsch neon art.

Who is the fairest of them all?

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.

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A series of large round fisheye mirrors arranged over a seating area work to reflect light around the room as well as providing an interestingly distorted view of the space. (pinterest)
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A mirror doesn’t have to be centred or wall-mounted. (pinterest)
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Playing with the illusion of space. A mirror can double or even triple the size of a room. (pinterest)
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Mirror tiles arranged to create the effect of a faux window work beautifully here. (pinterest)
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“Antique mirror made from Moroccan Zellige tiles – They are beautifully translucent, super irregular but rather breathtaking.” (abigailahern.wordpress.com)
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Esher Églomisé Glass. Handmade & installed by Stuart Fox Ltd. (stuartfox.co.uk)
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Mismatched mirror gallery. Mirrors don’t have to be uniform. (snitchsnotch.blogspot.com)
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Doshi Levien’s jewel-like mirrors for Danish brand for Hay. (dezeen.com)
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A collection of hand mirrors mounted on the wall. Works beautifully. (howtodecorate.com)
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A mirror can give the illusion of an endless space. (pinterest)
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There are no rights and wrongs. Go with your gut. (pinterest)
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Simple little details can elevate a space. (pinterest)
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Why not be as over the top as possible! Dodie Rosenkrans in her crazy coral encrusted palace. (loveisspeed.blogspot.com)
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Mottled, tarnished, aged mirrors look fabulous. (pinterest)

Boutique bolt-holes

I don’t know about you, but it’s at this time of year that I like to whisk the other half off, sans children, for a night or two of “boutique-hotel” stay yumminess.

I’ve found fantastic deals on Groupon; truly stunning accommodation on a par with any boutique hotel on airbnb; riffled through the virtual pages of Mr & Mrs Smith for a super-cool destination; or trusted the word of friends and family… And I can’t say we’ve experienced a dud yet. In recent years we’ve visited Prague, The George in Rye, The Tunbridge Wells Hotel, Hastings Old Town, Barcelona, London, Paris, and Castell Deudraeth in Portmeirion in Wales, to name but a few.

And it’s not just about grownup time away from the kids. I get so much inspiration from the places we’ve stayed in that I come away bursting with ideas of how to add a touch of luxe living to my own home. So why not treat yourself to a night away from home and steal some fantastic home styling ideas while you’re at it! Here are some visuals to inspire you. It’s all about creating an indulgent and intimate space, full of layers of lighting, sumptuous bedding, and the odd roll-top bath for good measure.

Next stop a riad in Morocco! Well El Fenn to be precise. It’s on my Christmas list…

A page from one of my scrapbooks.
A page from one of my scrapbooks.
Create an intimate environment with clever lighting. (Photo: Natalia Price-Cabrera / Location: The Tunbridge Wells Hotel)
Create an intimate environment with clever lighting. (Photo: Natalia Price-Cabrera / Location: The Tunbridge Wells Hotel)
Dark walls and aubergine velvet upholstery, together with a gallery wall work beautifully to create an intimate corner. The Palladian Hotel in Seattle. (lonny.com)
Dark walls and aubergine velvet upholstery, together with a gallery wall work beautifully to create an intimate corner. The Palladian Hotel in Seattle. (lonny.com)
The gorgeous Artist Residence Hotel in London. http://artistresidencelondon.co.uk/
The gorgeous Artist Residence Hotel in London. http://artistresidencelondon.co.uk/
Artwork in Prague.
Artwork in Prague. 
A bathroom to hide in... for hours!
A bathroom to hide in… for hours! El Fenn. 
Statement lighting in Barcelona. (photo: Natalia Price-Cabrera)
Statement lighting in Barcelona. (photo: Natalia Price-Cabrera)
Aim high. The foyer at St Martin's Lane Hotel, designed by Philippe Starck. http://www.starck.com/
Aim high. The foyer at St Martin’s Lane Hotel, designed by Philippe Starck. http://www.starck.com/
Barcelona.
Barcelona.
The tiny Alma Boutique Hotel in Tel Aviv features boho-chic rooms inspired by the 1920s. (travelandleisure.com)
The tiny Alma Boutique Hotel in Tel Aviv features boho-chic rooms inspired by the 1920s.
(travelandleisure.com)
Lighting ideas to steal. Cluster pendants at The Tunbridge Wells Hotel.
Lighting ideas to steal. Cluster pendants at The Tunbridge Wells Hotel.
Why go for understated?! This is an amazing riot of pattern and colour, but the restricted palette means it works beautifully. Toronto-based The Design Agency designed the Generator Hostel in Barcelona, Spain. (contemporist.com)
Why go for understated?! This is an amazing riot of pattern and colour, but the restricted palette means it works beautifully. Toronto-based The Design Agency designed the Generator Hostel in Barcelona, Spain.
(contemporist.com)
Bold statement lighting in Prague.
Bold statement lighting in Prague.
A bedroom fit for a Queen. Coqui Coqui Mérida Hotel in Mexico. (bloglovin.com)
A bedroom fit for a Queen. Coqui Coqui Mérida Hotel in Mexico. (bloglovin.com)
Add a little hotel glamour to your home with bespoke lighting by Mols & Tati-Lois. http://www.molsandtatilois.com/
Add a little hotel glamour to your home with bespoke lighting by Mols & Tati-Lois. http://www.molsandtatilois.com/
Designer Ilse Crawford and her team realise a passion for ‘homeliness’ in the creation of Stockholm boutique hotel Ett Hem. Vogue Living November/December 2012. Photograph by Magnus Marding. (voguelivingmagazine.tumblr.com)
Designer Ilse Crawford and her team realise a passion for ‘homeliness’ in the creation of Stockholm boutique hotel Ett Hem. Vogue Living November/December 2012. Photograph by Magnus Marding. (voguelivingmagazine.tumblr.com)
More El Fenn, Morocco. (sfgirlbybay.com)
More El Fenn, Morocco. (sfgirlbybay.com)