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)
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)
“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.
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!
“White… is not a mere absence of colour; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black…” Gilbert K. Chesterton
I will be honest, hitherto I have not been a fan of a lack of colour. In fact, the very absence of colour makes me get a tad twitchy. I thrive off colour, lots of it, and pattern in abundance. So, I thought I’d take myself out of my comfort zone and see what all the fuss was about.
Neutrals, whites, natural materials… plain, dull, soulless. Well, that’s what I used to think. I did some digging around and it’s quite incredible what you can create with a very restrained palette and lots of different textures – not just soft furnishings; you can source incredible textured wallpapers and tiles these days to add further dimension to your walls. Far from clinical and devoid of any personality, you can create quite wonderful, uplifting, almost spiritual spaces.
Two designers whose signature style is the very absence of colour are Alex Legendre and Zoe Ellison, owners and founders of the divine i gigi General Store in Hove, East Sussex. Alex and Zoe have embraced unique textures and a natural palette to create a haven of calm. They have also written a beautiful book called A Life Less Ordinary, which I highly recommend for anyone who wants to pour over gorgeous photography and interiors. Definitely one to curl up with.
Below I’ve collected some inspiration for you should you wish to travel down the route of natural palettes. It’s certainly a style that can be successfully applied to any room in the home. Just beware of small people with crayons and sticky hands is all I can say…I can’t say I am a complete convert, but I am certainly not quite the skeptic I once was! Enjoy.