• My big green garden renovation

    by  • April 15, 2016 • 0 Comments

    In September last year my partner and I moved in to our first house and subsequently gained our first garden. The previous owners had lived there for five years but hadn’t touched the garden during that time, apart from to cut it back when it started looking more like a jungle than an actual garden.

    Jungle garden - the before

    When we moved in, it was overgrown to say the least – we had a grape vine (yes, grapes) growing all the way across the garden and into a tree, an apple tree (that while fruiting in abundance was very much diseased) and more weeds than we could shake a stick at.

    Garden full of weeds

    One afternoon we decided to tackle the garden (to the best of our abilities). With a little help from family we chopped, pruned, dug, strimmed and hacked our way through the afternoon and were left with a space that looked dramatically different and much, much bigger.

    Garden after strimming

    We left the garden for the winter in the hope that the frost would kill some of the weeds, with a view to tackling the garden properly come spring. Well spring has sprung, the weeds are growing with a vengeance and we’ve decided that rather than tackle the necessary rotivating, turfing and new fencing that is needed with our wholly insufficient skills, that it would probably be best to get someone in.

     

    The previous owners of our house were very much into their DIY, which wasn’t always a good thing. It’s a beautiful Victorian house but every room has at least one bodge job, from excessive plug sockets in really weird places to skirting boards too short for the room… So we have decided to do things properly (and by properly, I mean getting someone who actually knows what they are doing to do it for us).

     

    So this weekend we have several gardeners and landscaping companies coming round to give us a quote for the work we need doing. Initially we are just hoping to replace the dodgy fence and turf the lot, but I do really like the idea of raised beds down either side. When we moved in I planted up a load of tulips and crocuses in pots and I was amazed how much joy it brought me when they bloomed. So I think I do want some decent flowerbeds too. As ever, a lot of what we do to the garden will depend on the quotes that come back and the funds available, but we are certainly open to suggestions!

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    Driven by details

    by  • March 24, 2016 • 0 Comments

    Easter Bank Holiday is almost upon us. Those DIY jobs – of every shape and size – are sitting waiting to be started. At some point in the weekend’s work someone will inevitably utter something along the lines of ‘you missed a bit’, or ‘you know that’s not straight’, or ‘I think you might have that the wrong way up’, and you’ll turn, look, possibly glower a little bit and then continue, probably muttering the home decorator’s favoured line: ‘I’d like to see you do better.’

    At moments like this, we come to appreciate the level of love, care and workmanship that goes into certain pieces of design; the beautiful arcs created in seemingly unbendable materials or the perfectly formed detailing that takes something from ordinary to extraordinary. We’ve selected some of our favourite examples of this, proudly displayed within the Livingetc Edit at Clippings.com. Take a look, and then look a little closer…

    A little piece of perfection

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    Individually crafted from mahogany, oak and palette wood, hours of work go into each Unique Cabinet (£550) by FactoryTwentyOne. The precision is visible from a distance, and slightly mind-boggling when you see it close up.

    Dizzying simplicity

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    Catherin Aitken’s Fade Stool (£295) plays with materials to such an extent, that you start to question how it’s been constructed. Layers of cotton cord are stitched together before being wrapped around a wooden base to form a stool seat. Looks simple, definitely isn’t.

    That lightbulb moment

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    A truly whimsical design that makes us think of ships in impossibley small bottles: how do they do that? The King Edison pendant light (£480) from Mineheart encompasses utility and glamour in one fell swoop. And (when it’s not turned on, at least) we could stare at it for hours.

    The Magic Eye

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    Is it a cowhide? Is a Persian rug? Actually, it’s both. Young & Battaglia’s delicately patterned floorcovering, £688, is a fusion of two of the world’s most popular designs. We think it’s a winning combination, and we are mesmerised.

    Beautiful, naturally.

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    We adore the marriage of materials used by Pia Wustenberg in her Stacking Vessels, £185 each, for Utopia & Utility. The orb-like glass is perfectly offset by the smooth woodgrain that circles the neck and, if that’s not enough to sell you to its benefits, each piece disassembles to form a small bowl and a vase. Forward-thinking design.

    Good luck with your decorating endeavours this Easter. Once you’re done, maybe you can treat yourself to one of these detail-driven designs!

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    All the fun of the fair

    by  • March 23, 2016 • 0 Comments

    There are many events that we have come to associate with Easter weekend: the rustle of foil and crack of a chocolate egg at some unmentionable time in the morning, tailbacks down the motorway leading to the nearest IKEA or DIY store, classic Hollywood epics on the TV (that you start watching in daylight, and which finish long after dark!)…

    But our inspiration this week comes from the delight that is the family Easter Fair, which pitches up in a field, park or on village greens up and down the country for the duration of the bank holiday to help sugar-loaded kids burn off some hyperactivity. This collection of pre-loved and retro treasures from FurnitureEtc is a homage to the joys of seasonal childhood outings; the sheer delight stirred up by the dazzling colours, bold patterns, stylised fonts and madcap atmosphere that we can all clearly associate with the fun of the fair.

    Light up the night

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    Pointing the way toward retro style, the distressed red-and-black finish of this arrow light. The cabochon bulbs offer a unique glow that transports you back to the anitcipation felt when visiting the fairground at night. We can virtually smell the popcorn wafting on the spring air.

    Front row seats

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    Don’t underestimate the benefits of this bench seat. We can see ourselves inside a circus tent, mesmerised by crazy clowns whizzing about in tiny cars and acrobats flipping, twirling and spinning around the arena. Or maybe the kids climbing all over it. Either way, a good sturdy buy with a bit of nostalgia attached.

    The Lion’s Share

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    Vintage posters are just the best. The hand-lettered fonts, painted imagery and mineral colours… This one will liven up any wall in the house.

    Making shapes

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    Retro European glassware, like this distinctive collection, has a liveliness that captures the motion of whizzing rollercoasters, dancing dodgems and neon lights and music spiralling throughout the day. Plus, it generally makes for an intriguing display in the home.

    Don’t be shy

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    Something about this attention-grabbing cabinet says – or maybe shouts – ‘Hot dogs!’ ‘Candy floss!’ ‘Popcorn!’ ‘Beer!’ – basically, it’s a cocktail cabinet with a street-food-stall aesthetic. Very much of our time. Pour a drink, settle down, watch the fun unfold.

     

     

     

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    Balancing Act

    by  • February 23, 2016 • 0 Comments

    It may be a good few weeks since Pantone released its pairing of Rose Quartz and Serenity as the Colour(s) of 2016, but this week I’ve been honing in on those tones almost subconsciously. I have no issue with them picking more than one colour (really, why would I?) but now – looking at it properly – I think I ‘get’ it.

    The crisp, warm blue kissed with the optimistic glow of a powdery pink. Together, they’re like a soothing dusk sky. A place of balance between two states. Neither overly sweet/ romantic nor excessively cool and aloof. It’s neutral ground, but without being remotely bland!

    I love colour, am near-obsessed with texture (my Instagram feed bears witness to that) and do think that when it comes to décor a brilliant-white base is ideal. However, all-white rooms are not for me. A home always needs a burst of colour or a zhoozh of pattern to make it less clinical and more personal. With that in mind, I went on a little hunt for Pantone-acceptable homeware.

    Knowing that our friends at Livingetc are always on top of the trends, my first stop was their Edit at Clippings.com, where I happily discovered some beautiful pieces that loosely fit the brief for 2016 (and beyond).

    Painter Pink Navy

    These Painter Cushions by textile designer Kangan Arora have more than perfectly blended colours – their fluid, painterly pattern is infused with movement and energy. Perfect for perking up a living space.

     

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    Admittedly not the most quartz-like of pinks or serene of blues, but the terracotta and grey tones do feature in the swatches of hues that complement the core Pantone colours.  I love the 3-D abstract feel of these Nick Fraser pendants .

     

    Cobra-Yellow & Light pink (3)

    Like a cross between a flamingo and a cheery duckling, this Cobra chair puts that perfect pink to great use. It’s making you smile, isn’t it?

     

    tiipoi-jama-khan-rug-pink-angled

    Statement flooring like this Jama Khan rug would act as a perfect foil to Serenity-coloured paintwork or soft furnishings. I feel optimistic just looking at it.

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    That Seventies Showcase

    by  • February 16, 2016 • 0 Comments

    The Seventies: when flares had flair, shoes were as stacked as your shelving and no-one was scared of patterns so loud you could virtually hear them before you saw them.

    Like almost every trend going, Seventies style has ridden the rollercoaster downwards, and is now on the up-and-up again. And I, for one, am enjoying this revival.

    I’m not referring to the boho-macrame-peasant-crafts elements, more the glamour at the other end of the scale; the polished metal, wood-clad walls, soft leather and gleaming glass.

    Maybe it’s nostalgia (because I grew up in a Seventies-built house, with all its quirks and never-seen-elsewhere design features), or perhaps it’s the influence of TV shows and vintage magazines. Who knows. But I dare you to tell me that if you put these refurbished or pre-loved pieces from FurnitureEtc into the right space, they wouldn’t look truly incredible. Or, if you want to use Seventies terminology, totally rad.

     

    Beam me up

    Italian 70s glass chandelier

    This stalactite-esque chandelier with its oblong glass droplets originated in Italy, where style hit its stride in the Seventies. On sale for £875, think of it as a functional sculpture and make it a focal point of your living space.

     

    Divide and conquer 

    Avalon 1970s teak room divider

    This teak piece – known as the Avalon – is more than your average cabinet. It’s a room divider too. Ideal for the super-social dinner-party era it was constructed in, it should be right up the street of multi-tasking millennials.

     

    The lap of Luxury

    Mogensen style Danish leather sofa

    Something about this sofa reminds me off a well-worn, favoured leather jacket – it’s seriously comfortable and never goes out of style. It may have something to do with this Morgensen style seating being Danish, the nation that owns the idea of ‘understated luxury’.

     

    Totally bamboo(zled)

    Maison Bagues brass bamboo-effect tables

    With their smoked glass and bamboo-inspired brasswork (with an aged patina), these French Maison Bagues (attributed) side tables are the furniture equivalent of a pair of Farrah Fawcett’s sunglasses. The finishing touch to an iconic style.

     

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