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?

Thursday, 14 May 2015

My radical radiator transformation

About a year ago, I put this radiator on eBay for sale. 

It had been in the kitchen (it looks old, but I think it's an Acova column design, which you can find in B&Q). Anyway, it took up too much space and got replaced with a tall, skinny one.


At the time, I wrote briefly about a man who'd come to buy it, because I'd been fascinated to discover he was planning to turn it into a chair.

And now, he has! Last week, I got an email with a photo of this beautiful looking thing. I can hardly believe it used to be fixed to the wall in the kitchen. What a wondrous piece of recycling.

The clever man behind this impressive transformation is Kent-based Mark Casswell, otherwise known as the Barefoot Welder. Look him up. www.thebarefootwelder.com




Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Homes: Porn for modernist architecture geeks

A while back I posted some photos of my kitchen, in which you could just see a little of my worktop...

And it inspired Adam Jacobs-Dean to post a comment and a link to some photos of his own kitchen on Pinterest. He was too polite to say so, but his worktops are how mine should have looked. 

My own kitchen work surface is a slightly bodged-together affair, constructed from a super cheap and ugly worktop (installed backwards; curved edge hidden by the wall and silicone) hidden with a covering of separately bought Formica – one of the company's reissued 1950s designs. 

Adam's, as you can see, are only similar in their pastel Formica-ness and square edges. But the worktops are just one detail of this beautiful kitchen, which Adam designed himself.

"The kitchen is my pride and joy," he explains. "I designed the units and then found a local carpenter to build the kitchen for me in beech furniture ply, laminated with Formica in three different colours." The walls are covered with hexagonal mosaic tiles.


Adam is lucky enough to live in a Span House, in Blackheath, southeast London. Again, Adam's done it properly (I live in my local authority's 1970s copycat version of a Span house). Span homes were built throughout the 1950s and 60s in London and the southeast, by Span Developments, a company co-founded by the British architect and designer, Eric Lyons to create affordable, well-designed housing. The houses are many a modernist architecture fan's fantasy dwelling, and some of the Span estates now have Conservation Area status. Light, open-plan and set within generous communal green space, they're a design classic.

But back to the kitchen: Adam explains that the houses originally had a partition wall with a serving opening between the kitchen and dining space. You can see how this looks, mid-refurb, in another Span House. In Adam's home, a T2 Span design, built in 1957, this had already been replaced with a stud wall when they moved in. "We pulled it down to open up the kitchen space, stealing some space from the dining area to have a larger kitchen," he explains.


This is how it looked before...

Have a nose around some more of the house. Below, the conservatory.

"We're also putting in a new garden," Adam says. "I want to replace the existing decking with exposed aggregate concrete pavers, to match the front paths and road finish. But they're not easy to source."

"We've furnished the house largely with eBay buys – Avalon and Tomado Ladderax shelving, an Ercol Plank dining table and repro Eames chairs – things we've picked up at the Dulwich Mid-century Modern Fair – dark green Cado modular chairs and Kandya bar stools – and new furniture – the light green corner sofa is from SCP and the orange and white wall unit in the conservatory is from Ikea."






"We have lived in Southest London since we graduated," Adam adds, "and were desperate to own a Span house – it took us three properties to get there, but we plan to stay put for the foreseeable future!"

Wouldn't you?

Adam's kitchen was designed by London firm, Christopher Davies Associates, in case you are in the area and after something similar.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Slow Wallpaper

An exhibition devoted to wallpaper designs is my kind of exhibition. 

W is for Wallpaper, at the Ruthin Craft Centre this September, is rather special for two reasons – most importantly, because of its focus on traditional hand screen and lino printing techniques, which many of the papers exhibited used. And secondly because it takes place in North Wales, one of my favourite places ever. I feel the excuse for a long weekend coming...

Meanwhile, a few highlights from the show. Above, Custhom design and fabricate some of the most innovative wallpapers around. I've written about their digital embroidery previously and their contribution to the exhibition is the Igneous paper, a luxurious looking design that resembles marble bursting with solidified gold. Made from carbon powder and hand-foiled, the non-repetitive design is named after the effect of crystalized igneous rocks, which are formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava. It's currently also on sale on the Custhom website for £159 a roll.

The exhibition features designs by Timorous Beasties, Sian Elin, Angie Lewin, Deborah Bowness, Kirath Ghundoo, Brigitte Zeiger,
Edward Bawden and William Morris among plenty more. Such as Daniel Heath, whose Heal's-stocked Perivale paper celebrates the art deco architecture of the Hoover Building.

Interesting wallpaper fact: in the early 18th century, a wallpaper tax was introduced that lasted until 1836, after which there was a boom in the popularity of papered walls, which suddenly became far more financially accessible to many.

I've already featured a couple of Eley Kishimoto's bold and bouncy wallpapers here before, but they're too good not to show again (above and two below).




Artist Hugh Dunford Wood painstakingly hand-printing one of his papers. Below, two more of his designs.



The designs are printed using lino blocks engraved by Huge in his studio, which overlooks the sea in Lyme Regis on the Dorset coast.

John Burgerman's innovative and kids' room-perfect colour-it-in-yourself design, 'Burgerdoodles'. 


Award-winning Tracy Kendall's extraordinary Another Colour wallpaper, above and below, is tantalisingly tactile. It looks beautiful – but what about the dusting?



A Claire Florey-Hitchcox woodblock, above. Claire, who graduated just last year and chose to take a step back from new technology, carves her designs onto woodblocks and then prints using her awe-inspiring 18th century Columbian printing press. You can see photos of it on her website.

Mini Moderns' graphic Gulls paper already feels like a classic.

W is for Wallpaper is on at the Ruthin Craft Centre, Denbighshire, North Wales from 26 September–22 November 2015. ruthincraftcentre.org.uk. Admission free. #WisforWallpaper
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