Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Shopping: Guest ed Abi's picks

Today another guest post from guest editor, Abi.

I thought I'd ease myself back into blogging here by sharing some good things I've discovered recently while pottering around shops, the internet and various fairs, markets and exhibitions. It's an eclectic bunch – just lovely stuff that I'd like to put in my home. Maybe you might like some of it too. So here goes...

Yellow pouffe, £65

Now, I'm not a design snob – if it's well made, gorgeous and a reasonable price I couldn't give a fig where it's from. And this beauty – yes, a big, yellow, knitted pouffe – happens to be from Matalan. Aside from the fact that there exists a piece of furniture rather brilliantly called a pouffe this is just fabulous. Bright and bold and £65.

Wooden letters, £3 each

These little wooden letters, also from Matalan, are just three pounds a and offer a world of design possibilities. For under a tenner I could have a quirky name tag hanging above a coat hook.

Paint drip mug, £10

Giving good gift is an art. And being able to find unusual, stylish, and useable ones for around a tenner these days is pretty hard. But this is a winner: an artist paint drip mug from Tate shops, Design created by the creative agency Designers Anonymous. I love the quirkiness of it – and it's practical, too.

The whole range is rather brilliant, although prices rise up to £22.50 for the tray, below.

Paint drip tray, £22.50 

And now for the really quite extraordinary and fabulous ceramics of Katharine Morling. I came across her work at the Cockpit artists studios in Deptford and just love it. 

Pot of scissors £190

Tape measure £165

The pieces are beautiful and odd and unsettling; really eye-catching artworks. My favourite is the pot of scissors (top image). 

Butterfly drawers £330

They're not cheap (prices start from £110) but considering each piece is made in a series and is handmade, painted and signed by the artist I think they're well worth it. You can catch Morling at Decorex later this month, part of the London Design Festival. 

From one tactile wonder to another – these cushions are just so...squidge-able.

Pebble cushion, Silversoles, £88

Made from black welsh wool felt, these are the work of felter Emma Jackson. Again, not cheap but all handmade and unique and a welcome change from the millions of printed cushions out there at the moment. I'd like to chuck one of these on my Robin Day sofa among the more traditional cushions and wait for the squeaks of delight you'd get from people as they came into contact with it. Visit her work at Silversoles.

Bird prints are a bit ubiquitous aren't they? Once you've seen one groovy bird pic you've seen them all. But that's why these little beauties caught my eye: HATS. Brilliant.

Jamie Taylor Blue Tit print, £20 

Jamie Taylor Robin print, £20

I'd hang both the fat little robin with his flat cap and the posh blue tit in his bowler side by side. Jamie Taylor paints animals, both real and fictional (his unicorn is pretty magical) in bright, splashy watercolours. As well as the titfer-tastic birdies his stag and bumblebee are things of beauty too. 

Heron string dispenser by Matt Nicholls, £20

Now for more birds, by another Cockpits artist is Matt Nicholls. And I just love this 'Heron' string dispenser – stylish and cute it's one of things every kitchen needs (well, I need it in my kitchen). Each painted wooded box comes with string and scissors (choose between red, yellow or blue) and can be wall mounted (fixing plate supplied) or free standing. 

Scottie dog light, The White Company, £42

And finally: I love a bit of kitsch me; usually to lighten up all the more stylish midcentury stuff I'd fill my house with if possible. And this little chap is right up my street... In my extended absence from this blog, I've managed to acquire a gorgeous little Westie called Monty (bonus picture below) so how could I not include this lamp from White Company? So what if it's sold for kids – stick it on a sideboard and let the kitsch commence I say. Plus it's down from £70 to £42 at the moment.

And to round things off; the promised pic of Monty. Showing off his design credentials by snoozing on our skip-saved Robin Day chair. But he's not for sale I'm afraid...

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Object of the day: Stig Lindberg mugs

Late to the game, I've only just discovered these appealing mugs featuring the drawings of Swedish midcentury artist, Stig Lindberg, available exclusively at Skandium.

And I've got my eye on that chessboard horse...

...then again, this solitary sailor figure and his dog, floating on a wardrobe is good too.

The drawings are taken from Lindberg's 1959 children's book, Daniel Doppsko – which translates as Daniel Tip Your Toe (you can check out the book on the Fine Little Day blog). The sailor character is, in fact, Daniel himself – who floats across Lake City on a wardrobe, meeting all sorts of unusual creatures including, no doubt, the checked pony.

This is the first time Stig Lindberg's Daniel Doppsko drawings have been used in this way. The cups cost £12 each at Skandium.

Lindberg originals are highly collectible, while various elements from his archive have been reproduced, including Daniel Doppsko, recently republished, and various ceramics and fabrics. His designs are always whimsical and often witty, whether in the form of stoneware, paintings, textiles or, indeed, books for small people. Here are just a few more of his delightful designs.

Original Faience Vase (1stdibs)

Original Berså cups and saucers, made for Gustavsberg

Cover for Ikea sofa in reproduction Herbarium Deep Navy Blue fabric, by Bemz

Some of Lindberg's vingtage pieces have become serious collectors' items – this pleasingly spherical horse is on offer currently at 1stDibs for around £2,600...

Etsy is quite a good source for more affordable original Lindberg treasures too.

Cotton Pottery fabric

The man himself: Stig Lindberg, looking like he was a lot of fun. You can read more about Lindberg at the Skandium blog.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Guest post: cunning bunting

Today, a guest post from sometime contributor Abi, who has been missed! 

(I will be back very soon as well, in case you were missing me, too.)

I know it's been a while. But what better way to return to YHIL than with this... 

A few months ago it was my birthday. Yes, I turned 35 for the nth time. But that's not important. What is important is the spectacular gift I received from my friend Holly. Handmade and lovingly crafted this is quite possibly the best bunting I have ever seen in my life. As she unfurled it for me word by word (so I could get the full effect) I nearly popped. "Fuck the Patriarchy" it read. She knows me so well, and as a gift from one feminist to another it made me very happy indeed.

I think much of the joy comes from the fact that bunting is quite possibly one of the most benign forms of decoration ever. It's safe. It's nice. It's Mary Berry Bake Off safe and nice. So stitching up this art form with a subversive slogan gives it a lovely kick.

I hung it in our kitchen. Where I should probably get back to...

And you can see the same Holly show you how to make a romantic bedroom light out of sweet wrappers in this previous post.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Introducing... stylist, Jasmine Orchard & Collectie

I discovered Jasmine Orchard's style resourcefulness and good taste a few years ago – and loved it – when I interviewed her for a piece in the Independent. 

Jasmine is a stylist and I interviewed her because of her skill for repurposing unwanted or not very useful items into pretty and practical ideas for the home (you can read her tips on that in this previous post). We stayed in touch, and I was excited to hear recently she had a new venture brewing...

Above: Jasmine Orchard, left, and, right, items from her new online shop, Collectie, which means 'collections' in Dutch

Tomorrow, Jasmine launches Collectie, an online design shop with a bit of a twist that's perfect if you've ever looked at a photograph of a beautiful room and thought – 'I'd like all of that, thanks very much'. The idea is that rather than buying individual items, you buy a whole collection of complementary pieces, curated by Jasmine, which can be used in various ways to create a coherent look. It seemed like a good excuse to have a nose at some of Jasmine's favourite things. Over to her...

Above: A bedroom fireplace in Jasmine's Brighton flat

Where do you live?
'I am lucky enough to live by the sea in Brighton. I've resided in the same gorgeous little two-bed flat for ten years – a life record for me! It’s a top floor Victorian flat with period fireplaces in the bedroom and lounge, picture rails and sash windows.'

What's your favourite part of your home?
'I have two favourite spots. I have a corner sofa in the lounge which sits with the long part in line with my big sash window, it's a proper sun trap in the afternoons; you can sit with legs stretched out and people-watch out the window while the sun beams in. Amazing sun set views over the South Downs from there too.'

'My second favourite spot has to be lying in my bed with a view of my fireplace [pictured above], candles on the mantel and a fab Kitty McCall print framed above it. Cushions stacked behind me, cup of tea in hand and playing Cesaria Evora. Bliss!'

Above: Jasmine's dressing table, illuminated by one of her own lighting creations

Describe your home's style
'It's a combination of modern and retro furnishings, many of which have been upcycled by me. My TV sits on a beautiful rescued Danish cabinet – upcycled with a lick of white paint on the outside and similar era wooden legs. I have a bespoke tripod lamp – made using an old wooden surveyor's tripod – which sits next to the sofa, and there are various antique glass bottles and vases adorning the mantelpieces. A mostly white and grey palette is mixed up with bright cushions, darker Danish woods, flowers and candles. That and many wonderful foreign flea market finds!'

Above: A colourfully decorated mantlepiece in Jasmine's flat

Above: More from Collectie's Summer Drift collection

Who is your interiors hero?
'I look to different people to inspire me at different times. At the moment I've been taking some inspiration from Abigail Ahern, with regards to setting up a new store and her business advice, that and her wonderful styling. Oliver Heath has always been an eco interiors hero and I had the pleasure of meeting him and helping to style his house for a campaign once. And on a more architectural level my biggest hero is George Clarke – he’s so talented and creative and always seems happy!'

What is currently on your interiors wishlist?
'How long have you got? OK, here are my top 5:

1. Ball with handle copper light by Frandsenlighting.dk
2. Dutch ceramics by Lenneke Wispelwey
3. Charcoal linen bedding by The Linen Works
4. Porcelain vases by Elisabeth Barry as part of the new collection from Sheila Bownas (pictured above)
5. Large oatmeal Artisan linen cushion, which is part of my Hint of Mint collection for Collectie' (see top image)

Where did you come up with the idea for Collectie?
'I've been working as an interior stylist for years, which has involved working on tight budgets, sourcing interesting or one off pieces, being extremely creative, reinventing items for new uses. One thing I discovered was that people wanted not just the items I found but the way I had styled them and collated items together. Friends would often visit saying ‘Can I steal that idea?’ and clients would comment on how they would have never thought to choose a certain item or to place it in such a way.'

Above: Wooden and steel powder coated stool; hand printed linen and cotton cushions; white ceramic pendant light with (out of shot) grey flex and wooden hanging hook to hang; vintage science bottle vases; grey bulb vase and artificial pink dahlia and lambs ear, all part of Collectie's 'Hint of Mint' collection, which starts at £236 for the full collection

'Increasingly, people want beautiful homes with ambience and style, and items that do not all come from Ikea (sorry Ikea). With this comes a need for knowledge of what will look good and where, how to display accessories and most importantly a stack of time to search for all these lovely things, finding new talented designers and one off antique pieces. I have not found – though I’m sure they exist – anyone else in the UK offering pre styled collections, including every element – from candles to lightbulbs – you need to take out of the box and re-create at home.'

Above: Copper tray (also available in silver); recycled wooden candle holders and candles; French antique glass bottle vase and artificial white scabious flower, all part of Collectie's Natural Retreat collection, £95 for the full set.

So how would you describe Collectie?
'Collectie only sells curated and personally styled collections of interior goods. There are just three differently sized and styled collections, each one being a bespoke limited edition of 12 or 10. You can unwrap your bespoke box and re-create the look straight in your home, or have a play and mix up the collection to style as you desire.'

Above: Wooden and steel hairpin leg stools, choice of three eco linen or cotton cushions, pure new wool throw, wooden yellow candle holders and candles, antique apothecary bottle vase, artificial white hydrangea, all in the Summer Drift collection, which starts at £419

Where did you get the unusual name?
The word collectie means collections in Dutch. After leaving university I moved to Holland for a while and became so inspired by all the wonderful design shops there. It really sparked my desire to pursue interior design as a career.

What kind of stuff are you going to sell?
'I guess my taste is fairly eclectic, which is reflected in the choices of items that make up each collection. I gathered a mix of old and new, polished and raw, local artisans and foreign designers to curate collections that are unique, well made and work well together.'

Above: Images by The Design Villa, aka Australian stylists @villastyling, one Jasmine's favourite Instagram accounts

Who do you love on Instagram right now?
@aquietstyle – for her beautifully styled shots of flowers
@villastyling – wonderful, tropical styling from Australia, with plenty of plants
@DIYstop – for their brilliant creative ideas
@gypsies_and_debutantes – for their colourful embroidered accessories inspiration!

Find Jasmine/Collectie on Instagram @collectiehome

Visit the store at: www.collectie.co.uk 

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Japanese ceramics newsflash

A few weeks ago I wrote, with a heavy heart, about some very marvellous Japanese plates I'd discovered. Heavy hearted because I could find nowhere outside of Japan that sold them.

You may recall, they looked like this...

The plates are not only beautiful, but have an interesting 400-odd year old history and each design depicts a good-luck emblem. (Find out more about them in this previous post.)

How joyful, then, to receive an email yesterday informing me that a selection of these unusual ceramics is now on sale in a newish Japanese / Taiwanese shop in the UK.

Native & Co. is based in west London and opened last December. It is run by product designers, Sharon Jo-Yun Hung, originally from Taiwan, and British-Japanese Chris Yoshiro Green, pictured below. The shop looks like a cross between Labour and Wait, Folklore and Muji – in other words, it's beautiful.

Native & Co sell homewares, kitchenware, household goods such as Japanese brooms and palm table brushes as well as pleasing accessories such as Taiwanese canvas school bags, made the same way since the 1950s, and the style all-round at the shop is pared back, well-crafted and close to nature.

Chris Yoshiro Green also designed all the furniture in the shop, on which their wares sit or hang.

The plates start at £8 a piece. Find them online at Native & Co. or pop into their Notting Hill shop if you're in the city.

Here are a few more of the nice things they sell.

Tenugui cloths, £16 each

Bamboo picnic basket, £45

Hammered cutlery, from £7.50

Ayous round tray, £26

Monday, 1 June 2015

DIY: Sofa pimping with DFS

It's only a small pimp, but a significant one I hope you'll agree. And one not unlike switching the buttons on a high street coat to give it a posher edge.

So this is how my sofa looked before I got into the DIY lite zone during a holiday at home, last week.

My sofa, before

Ever since I bought my DFS green sofa, quite a few years ago now, I'd wanted to customise it. Had I had the upfront money, rather than around a tenner a month for the handy interest-free credit that DFS offer, I'd have gone for a swanky Habitat or Heal's number, or the wonderous emerald velvet design that Ikea was recently selling.

Most importantly, I'd have liked the legs. That was the only real downer on my DFS: it looked ropey downstairs. The shape of the legs is a little naff, in my opinion, but I could live with that. It was the pale, uninteresting wood and the fact that some of the legs hadn't even bothered to match that bothered me (look closely and you'll see the horrible black plastic feet in the corners).

My plan was always to paint the legs. Several years later – so much time has passed I've even paid off the sofa in full – and I've got around to it.

Initially, I was inspired by Pretty Pegs, an innovative Scandinavian company of which I'm a big fan. They make replacement legs for exactly the predicament I was in. I nearly went with one of their designs (above), in fact, but in the end thought that a couple of coats of paint would do the trick instead. (I have upcoming and exciting PP news though, concerning my new bed, which did involve a set of their designs.)

So here is the sofa after possibly the easiest DIY revamp ever.

Black's a pretty safe colour and goes with quite a few bits around the living room too. Plus – *bonus* – it disguises the plastic feet that were once so prominent.

I should mention that I've checked, and the sofas at DFS have improved in the leg department since I shopped there, so if you're in the market for some credit it's still worth a look.

But let me know what you think of the leg update. I think it makes a surprisingly big difference. Do you?

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