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.
“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.
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.
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!
In the face of the devastating terrorist attacks that took place in Paris on Friday evening, The Maximalist is paying tribute to the people of Paris with a simple, photo-led celebration of the three colours: red, white and blue.
Well I would beg to differ! A door can be so much more than just a door. So can a doorway.
Abigail Ahern suggests removing doors to open up space and allow for greater design fluidity in the home. I do agree with her to a degree, however, I also quite like a door myself. So to all my fellow door fans, here are some of my favourite doors together with fantastic ideas as to how to make a feature of a door and/or doorway, and ways of repurposing the ubiquitous door. I hope you enjoy!
What do you get if you throw eccentricity, britishness, a predilection for all things Baroque, and a hefty dose of wit into a bag and give it a thoroughly good shake up? Why, you get seriously exciting design ideas…
I would also like to point you in the direction of Mister Finch – the super-talented textile artist whose exquisite oversized insects should adorn every interior in my humble opinion; Alex MacArthur Interiors – a veritable cabinet of curiosities; and Melody Rose – bone china “marrying the unexpected with the traditional; images that shock and please in equal measure; the juxtaposition of quaint and quirky.”
So as winter approaches and we get ready to hunker down for a cold spell, why not inject a bit of good old-fashioned drama into your home interior. Surround yourself with unusual objects and create a cocoon of design statements. Think open fires, rugs, lots of texture, dark walls, creative lighting, kooky accessories, witty artworks, and a large dollop of weird and wonderful eccentricity. If nothing else, it will make you smile as you sip your mulled wine and listen to the wind and rain beating down outside. Home should after all be a sanctuary…
Kitsch (/ˈkɪtʃ/; loanword from German, also called cheesiness and tackiness) is a low-brow style of mass-produced art or design using popular or cultural icons.
Who doesn’t love a kitsch interior? I can’t get enough of it. I don’t care how naff it is. The naffer the better. Festooned with plastic flowers, pseudo religious iconography – shrines are cool, faux taxidermy, flamingos, neon lights, stuffed animals, cocktail bars, a miami palette, disco balls, and as much paraphernalia of mass-produced popular culture as you can muster.
In my opinion the King of kitsch, albeit very tastefully done, is without a doubt Jonathan Adler. With his origins in pottery, Jonathan Adler is now an iconic interiors brand and worldwide phenomenon. The man himself is potter, designer, author, and personality dedicated to bringing style, craft and joy to your life. “Jonathan’s creativity is fuelled by various sources of inspiration: Mid-century modern, art and global pop culture combine to create the signature Adler aesthetic.” And boy does he pull it off with sophisticated aplomb.