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Green & Black…and Pink

So it’s a somewhat delayed post Christmas and New Year ditty from me… Huge apologies, but the family Christmas was a bit of a washout due to the nasty sickness bug going around and the New Year has been a flurry of getting the latest addition to the family, ie the baby boy bubba, ready and settled in nursery. And so it’s done. Another year started and lots of projects in the pipeline, events to attend, plans to consolidate, and hopefully horizons to broaden (my own of course).

I always get twitchy at this time of year. As though I can’t wait to shed some wintry, heavy mantle and skip off to challenges new. And I do have some new challenges afoot… Last Monday I returned to work after 10 months of maternity leave. This may be third time down the line, but it still filled me with a mixture of abject terror and ridiculous elation… what, I can go to London on my own, by train (well hopefully), read a magazine, determine what I do when (well within reason, I still have a line manager), have unbroken adult conversations, wear clothes that aren’t covered in snot and baby food, eat my food sitting down and at a leisurely pace?! Yes, and what a treat it was. I got to peruse several of the magazines I have been piling up over the last half a year and I have been left full of bouncy inspiration. Not least from the fantastic colour combos that are being championed at the moment. My favourite of which is the green, black and pink combination. So for my first post of 2017 here are some visuals to whet the old appetite. I hope you like them. (All images are courtesy of pinterest)

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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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Faux flower fix

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.

Here are some visuals to help inspire you! Enjoy.

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My Mother’s Day present and current obsession!
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Pinterest
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Fauxs from Hobby Lobby.
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Felt flower creations. (pinterest)
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Sumptuous plants from Abigail Ahern. (pinterest)
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More Abigail Ahern gorgeousness. (pinterest)
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Cacti galore. (pinterest)
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Inside Abigail Ahern’s Atelier. (pinterest)
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(pinterest)
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(Pinterest)

 

 

 

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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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.

The pitter patter of tiny feet…

Happy New Year to all you lovely people. I hope you and yours had a wonderful festive period and that 2016 will be filled with loads of good stuff for us all. I am personally not-so-secretly delighted…

In a little over three months I will be welcoming baby number 3 into the world. It’s a boy this time. I am filled with a mixture of excitement and apprehension at the unknown quantity that is a small boy-child. I have two gorgeous daughters so all things girl-related I am highly versed in, but a boy…? It’s going to be a whole new adventure and one I am sure I will find incredible if at times nerve wracking.

So with the joys of a mostly wet and grey January ahead of me, I have started to turn my head to something not remotely drab and dreary… the design of the nursery. My wish-list is currently: bold, kitsch, quirky, bright, snug, surprising and as eclectic as possible to incorporate things we already have in our home. I am drawn to the colour yellow at the moment, but a 1950s yellow a la extraordinarily talented Lucienne Day or modern-day MissPrint, whose Dandelion Mobile fabric I just adore.

I am sure the design and scheme will morph organically over the coming months, but for the moment, here are some visuals that are inspiring me. Hope you enjoy.

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Loving the colours used here and the kitsch prints are inspired. (retourdechine.canalblog.com)
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Perhaps not pink for a boy’s room, but the different scale of items works really well and I love the shelves/letters. (petitspetitstresors.tumblr.com)
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This mustard yellow pouf is spot on and I love the suspended lamp too. (petitandsmall.com)
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This vibrant print is stunning… (shelleysdavies.com)
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MissPrint Dandelion Mobile print.
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Great shelving ideas. (handmadecharlotte.com)
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Animal alphabet cards for the nursery – educational and also look adorable on the wall! (etsy.com)
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Loving this DIY cloud light from handmadecharlotte.com.
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A room full of colour and character. (flickr.com)
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Bold wallpaper really works for me. (petitandsmall.com)
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How to make a statement! (diyordie.elleinterior.se)
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Habitat 1964 (handmadecharlotte.com)
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Cute hanging solution. A beautifully organised and bright nursery. (chalkkids.co.uk)
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A simple and effective way to create a quiet snug area. Love the colour of the side unit too! (dig-mig.blogspot.nl)
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Great colour combo. Am particularly loving the roof pattern. (mommodesign.com)

I’ll let you into a little secret…

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.

For something a little more unique, personalised and hand-crafted consider NotOnTheHighStreet, etsy, and folksy. From a quick cursory look, I particularly like the mini kiko frames and the Bombki range (you’ll see a crossover with Liberty) on NOTHS; the fused glass Christmas tree decs and gold ceramic bird decorations from etsy; and the button tree decorations and the laser-cut reindeer dec from folksy.

So get exploring and do that Christmas tree proud with glorious decorations this year! Happy decorating.

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Love Has Wings from Rockett St George.
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Vintage-style coloured glass baubles from Tinker & Toad in Heathfield, East Sussex. http://www.tinkerandtoad.co.uk
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The Maximalist christmas tree festooned in an eclectic mix of festive decorations.
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A beautiful Russian doll from the Bombki range on NotOnTheHighStreet.

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Cactus and Day of the Dead skull decorations from Rockett St George.
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A gorgeous whale from Rockett St George. I am definitely getting one of these!

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Christmas isn’t christmas without a few flamingos! From Paperchase.
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Christ effigies in bright pops of colour from Paperchase.
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Cute animal heads from Paperchase.
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A gorgeous scarfed critter from Anthropologie.
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Forest Soiree: Fairytale creatures from Anthropologie.
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A golden antler. Every tree should have at least one! From Anthropologie.
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The glorious glass hummingbird from Liberty… I must have one!
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Who doesn’t love a corgi. From Liberty.
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Kitsch blue crested bird from Liberty. In a glass globe no less!
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A stunning Faberge-esque Liberty bauble.
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A crown is a must! From Liberty also.

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Gorgeous glass Mexican baubles. From Rockett St George.
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Porcelain bling. Just perfect for any tree. Rockett St George.
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Oversized tassels. Love, love, love. Rockett St George.
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Pineapple fairy lights. Add a tropical twist to your festive decorations this year. Rockett St George.

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)