Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Bella Freud's London Home designed with Retrovious

I always suspected that designer Bella Freud's home would be amazing, brought up as she was surrounded by culture and stylish people.

When I read that it was the property that those, now famous, first images of kate Moss in her underwear, were photographed in, by Corrine Day and that it had been remodelled and designed with the help of an interior designer from Retrouvius, I knew it would be special. However, I can say, after seeing the images in this months edition of World of Interiors, it is probably my dream house.

It is a perfect reflection of its owner, undeniably cool but subtle and classic, with a beautiful choice of materials and colours flowing throughout, like the clothes Bella designs.

All images by photographer Simon Upton

The interior designer, co founder of retrouvius, Maria Speake ,has perfectly mixed the owners paintings and possessions with reclaimed materials such as wardrobes in the master bedroom made from old school desk tops and industrial factory lights, together with antique country house furniture and a muted palette of greys, olive green and deep red velvet upholstery with a mustard carpet which runs throughout the top floor.
There's not one thing I would change, I want it all!!!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Amazing White Interior - Hueso Restaurant Mexico

I've just been catching up on reading some blogs I follow and came across images of this amazing restaurant Hueso in Mexico.

The restaurants name translated means bone and the walls are suitably decorated with cast aluminium  animal skulls and bones, set within timber boxes, painted white, to make one huge art installation. The inspiration behind the theme was Darwinism and the idea was created and formed by celebrity chef Alfonso Cadena and his brother's design studio. What an amazing space it must be to dine in?
 Pictures ©Jaime Navarro

Friday, 9 January 2015

Farrow and Ball Paint Colour Trend 2015 Pink Ground

Farrow & Ball have recently revealed their predictions for our colours of choice this year and as always in times of uncertainty we yearn for calm soft colours with which to embrace ourselves within our homes. It's no surprise then that within their trends are soft greens, blues and greys.

Amongst their suggested and chosen colours there is also a personal favourite of mine, pink ground which is a soft almost nude pink colour and so delicate that it could almost be described as a neutral. Our bedroom has been painted this colour for a few years now and was featured some time ago on Design Sponge together with a design board they put together to achieve the look, should you so wish? Its always lovely to see images of your home or work on other blogs or websites but as time passes you sometimes wish they weren't so readily available to view, as what you liked then isn't always what you would choose now. I must say though that the one room in our home that has remained pretty much unchanged is our bedroom, as we both still love the pink ground colour so much, giving a softness in summer and warmth in winter.

Here is Farrow & Balls press shot of how to use the colour. Complementary colours are also chosen for you, by their expert colour consultants, to make achieving the look easy, which you can view here.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Art Exhibitions 2015

At the start of the year I always open my new calendar and then try and plan a few things to look forward to that I can scribble onto the blank dates.

2015 already looks like an exciting year for exhibitions with a major retrospective of sculptor Dame Barbara Hepworth's work showing at Tate Britain from June until October and a Jackson Pollock Exhibition at Tate Liverpool, just up the motorway from me. Both of these will be on my must see list.

These artists were giants of the mid 2oth century scene, making waves in different ways. Hepworth was, and still is, the most well known and celebrated female sculptor of her time, starting out carving small marble works from her studio in St Ives Cornwall, progressing to huge monolithic pieces in bronze and steel with commissions from all around the world. Although I've been lucky enough to visit her studio in St Ives and view her works there, this exhibition will be the biggest of her collection and range of works, from sketches, textiles and sculptures in almost 50 years.

Jackson Pollock's work was groundbreaking in its direction and he was the pioneer of what is now known as action painting, with his dripped paint works we are all so familiar with. He was one of a generation of artists, mainly American, who were inspired and influenced by commercial and graphic art, or what we call pop art. I've never seen any of his works up close and although they look simple in their execution, I can imagine they are very emotive when viewed? I remember watching a documentary about him many years ago and he seemed like a very deep, enigmatic character which I'm sure will come through in his paintings. We'll see?
I always think its a great idea to buy tickets for events, films or exhibitions for friends or family who are difficult to buy for. My mum, who insists at her age she has everything she needs, loves watching Downton Abbey, so for part of her Christmas gift I'm taking her to The Lady Lever Art Gallery at Port Sunlight on The Wirral, where they have an exhibition of a range of original dresses that inspired the costumes for Downton Abbey and then the actual costumes alongside. The gallery is only small but has a great collection of pre Raphaelite paintings collected by Lady Lever and Port Sunlight itself, is worthy of a visit. The village was built by Lord Lever for his Sunlight Soap factory workers in 1888 and remains as it was, preserved and protected by its residents.

The exhibition is free and only runs until 18/1/15 so if you're a Downton fan, get your skates on.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Happy New year 2015

I hope everybody reading this blog post had a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. I can't believe its all over for another year and for most of us,tomorrow, it's back to work, school or normality, whatever that means to you.

It always feels so full of possibilities at the start of a new year, as though anything could happen, like starting the first page of a new note book and making a list of wishes?

Its also a good time to reflect on the year that has past and what has been achieved? Some of my highlights have been travelling to Paris, Amsterdam and Palma and experiencing different cultures, especially Amsterdam which I had never been to before and totally fell in love with. Now that our children are getting older and it's possible to travel to cities more, thats exactly what I intend to do this year. One of the best companies I found for hiring accommodation is One Fine Stay, who have some the most stylish homes available for hire. You can register with them here and they send out regular newsletters with stunning images of their accommodation.

Also visiting some great exhibitions and gigs. The Matisse Cut Outs exhibition at The Tate Modern was a highlight and finally getting to see one of my all time musical heroes, Burt Bacharach, so memorable and emotional.

As well as continuing to blog and featuring as a guest blogger again for Laura Ashley back in January, which you can read here, if you missed it, I attended my first bloggers convention, Blog On 2014 at The Manchester Science and Industry Museum. Although it made me question how relevant my blog was, compared to others out there or how successful it's ever going to be, or not as I have now realised, it opened my eyes to the power of social media and introduced me to Instagram which I love, have had so much pleasure from and have connected to so many like minded people through. It has also made me realise that after a hiatus from writing my blog, I actually missed being part of the blogging phenomenon,just simply from the writing and sharing experience and the pleasure that gives me alone.

So for 2015 my to do list will start with

  1. Continue to blog and instagram simply for the pleasure
  2. travel wherever and whenever time allows
  3. continue absorbing culture what ever form that takes
  4. continue to enjoy my work as a stylist and an interior designer, but maybe spread my wings a little and try and work on smaller brands rather than just the big commercial work? 
  5. Learn to use my sons digital SLR camera other than on the manual setting!
What will your 2015 plans be? I'd love to hear from you with your wish list.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Quick and Simple ways to make your Christmas Gift Wrap look special

If like most people around the world tonight you are still busily wrapping gifts for loved ones, here a few quick and simple ideas to make your parcels look like you've given them the 5 star treatment.

I always try and stick to a simple colour palette. This year its been red, but black & white or brown paper always look stylish and you can add elements of nature from your garden or gathered on a walk which will beautifully enhance your gift wrap.
I tend to use brown luggage tags to write the receivers name on and then swap the plain string with red and white butchers twine. Any small parcels can be put in a paper bag and tied again with decorative twine. I've used red and white humbug striped bags from Papermash but small brown paper carrier bags look just as good and you can trim the handles off and fold the top over and thread the string through two holes using a hole punch.
This year, for the childrens parcels, I bought a pack of red and white jingle bells for £1 from the pound shop and again replaced the cheap silver string with the red and white twine. marshmallow Christmas Lollipops are a fun thing to add on the top of your parcel too. Waitrose have some lovely snowflake ones for £1.
For a fragrant and festive addition to your parcel add eucalyptus branches, circles of rosemary, branches of berries or thread string through these orange zest stars, made using a cookie cutter and tie around your parcel.
Excuse the bad lighting, theres not much natural lighting around these days!

For a very quick and easy personalised gift wrap, I made this paper last year for my daughter. Simply made in PhotoShop or Word, choose a font and colour and arrange the name of your choice all over an A4 or A3 template, depending on your printer. Finish with ribbon. I keep a box of humbug striped ribbons for Christmas gifts. Simple stripes in black & white or red & white always look festive.

Have fun and enjoy your last but one evening before the big day! 

Monday, 22 December 2014

Eat, Drink & Be Merry - Christmas Cocktails

On Friday night I went out with some girlfriends for a pre Christmas get together and as Christmas is a time to celebrate like no other time of the year, we started the evening with cocktails.

There are no shortage of bars serving cocktails, they seem to be having a moment and our choice of bar, didn't disappoint. The Violet Hour in Didsbury Manchester, specialises in cocktails and mixology classes, whisky tasting evenings and is generally a great little venue for sampling alcoholic drinks with a difference.

My choice was called "The importance of being Earnest" and was a mix of rum and citrus juices, including, grapefruit and lime and came with a side order of citrus popcorn which was much more delicious than it sounds and highly recommended. Simply add strips of grapefruit zest and mix into your popcorn for a marriage made in heaven,

In our house on Christmas morning, we start as we mean to go on with a bucks fizz for breakfast but this year for a change I have found a few recipes with a slight difference to add to your fizz.

First up is Pomegranate Champagne Punch


1.5 cups of pomegranate juice
1 cup Pear juice
0.25 cups Grand marnier or Cointreau
1 bottle of champagne

Mix together and pour over ice. It should make about 6 glasses from this quantity.

This is also a great drink for New Years eve. If its too strong for the day time, you might find this next one less so?

Ginger Sparkler


2 Teaspoons finely grated ginger
0.5 cup of sugar
1 bottle of prosecco, cava or champagne

Boil the ginger, sugar and 1/4 of a cup of water until a syrup forms. Drain the syrup through a small sieve to discard the ginger. You can keep the syrup for up to a week in the fridge.
Pour 1 teaspoon of syrup into each glass and top up with fizz of choice.
Ginger is very good for digestion and an upset stomach so this is a perfect hair of the dog if you overindulge on Christmas eve?

Hot Buttered Toddy


1 teaspoon brandy butter
Pinch of ground allspice
2 teaspoons Vanilla syrup
25ml whisky
Orange peel with cloves
Hot cider to top up

Place all the ingredients in a tall glass or latte type glass and top up with warm cider. 
This is a perfect boxing day drink after a long winter walk.

Just a recommendation from one cider drinker to any others out there. Waitrose supermarkets have a bottle of mulled cider by Heston Blumenthal. All you need to do is heat and enjoy.