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How to… style a mantlepiece or sideboard


I often get asked for styling tips so I thought I would share some ideas for styling surfaces such as mantlepieces and sideboards today. Most of us have a surface like this at home and it’s all too easy for them to become a dumping ground for piles of post, empty coffee cups and bunches of keys. Style them in the right way, though, and they can become a fabulous focal point.

My first tip is to think about how you group objects. Never place things in uniform rows and try to arrange them by using items of different heights. This will give your display energy and interest. Vary the heights of objects and try placing the tallest object close to the middle.  Also, by using objects of differing heights, it will look artfully styled rather than things looking as though they have been left there accidentally.

Try to keep the number of objects you use odd. For some reason, odd numbers of things are always more interesting and it is an age old stylist’s trick to always place objects in groups of three or five and never two or four. It just looks so much better.

Try to place things together and in front of each other, without leaving big gaps. Play around with them until they feel right. We all have objects at home that can be transformed into really cool displays once they are placed next to the right thing. For example, place a vase next to a photo frame, a candle, a picture and a small pile of books. Use something random and unexpected! This will add cool factor. Place photos or artworks leaning against the wall, slightly overlapping. You get the idea.

Here are some images from the homes of stylists Marianne Cotterill and Sarah Fry, artist Annie Morris and stylist Claire Durbridge from my book Creative Living London (photographs by Ingrid Rasmussen), which I hope will inspire you:

MARIANNE  060SARAHFRY  201MORRIS  119SAKOUI  013

Cool rooms for kids


I had a baby boy a few weeks ago and while he is sleeping with me at the moment, my thoughts have turned to decorating the nursery where he will join his big brother in a few months (hopefully he will be sleeping through!). I’ve been really lucky to have styled some homes where there are super cool kids rooms, so I thought I would share some of them with you here. I hope you find them inspirational and fun. If you’d like to see more of the lovely homes featured here, you can read about them in my new book Creative Living London. (Photographs by Ingrid Rasmussen)

LONDONFIELDS  904This room is filled with bright colours and plenty of spaces for the kids to hang out, such as this tipi. What I loved about this kids’ room though is that it is also home to some very grown up art, which the owners were not afraid to hang in the children’s space. On the contrary, they chose some great art specifically for the room and the kids loved it.

SAKOUI  191SAKOUI  200This adorable room belongs to fashion stylist Claire Durbridge’s two young children. Claire has used lots of clever styling tricks to personalise the room, making it super cool without being too cutesy or obvious. The gorgeous animals on the walls were cut out of some gift wrap and glued to the walls, while Claire took an old vintage lamp and added a black pompom trim. The black and white monochrome theme gives it a sophisticated finish, while Claire’s little flourishes and plenty of vintage keep it quirky and fun.

GOODHOOD  034GOODHOOD  045How cool is this for a nursery?! This super stylish space belongs to Jo and Kyle’s adorable little boy. Jo and Kyle own the lifestyle and design store Goodhood and they have decorated their nursery with the same eye for detail and design as the rest of their fabulous home. Jo found the Burger King sign at a flea market, while the other artworks are part of the couple’s own collection. Filled with colour and a mix of modern and vintage, this is a very stylish space indeed.

MARCNEWSON  107Last up, designer Marc Newson and stylist Charlotte Stockdale’s nursery, which has its own bathroom. The vivid red is vibrant and fun while the wall sticker keeps the space child friendly.

My top tips for kids rooms:

1. Think long term. You don’t want to be redecorating in a year’s time, so try to choose a scheme that can grow with your child. Consider using wallpapers or furnishings that would work equally well in 1,3 or 5 years’ time or even using grown up styles that can work for kids. Cole and Son have several great wallpapers that will grow with your child, for example.

2. Think practical. Kids’ rooms get a real bashing, so don’t put anything fragile or precious in there! It seems obvious, but it’s tempting to splash out on those beautiful items, only to be horrified when your little angels take a pair of scissors or a felt tip pen to them.

3. Try adding some vintage. Vintage furniture is often cheaper and better made than new and will withstand the most boisterous toddler as well as adding a timeless and personal element, more popular with older children. Online auctions, car boot fairs and antique markets are all good places to look.

4. Encourage their creativity. Children love to get creative and they will love their room even more if they are allowed to be creative in it. While you might not want them splashing paint around, consider painting out a wall, piece of furniture or even a small design on the wall in blackboard paint so that they can scribble away to their heart’s content.

5. Create a den or hiding place. Children love to hide themselves away sometimes and adding a canopy over the bed, a tipi or a den will give them a special place to hang out, read and make believe.

My favourite stores:

1. Kidsen: Clothing, shoes and nursery decor from the coolest Scandinavian brands. Really worth checking out.

2. Cole and Son: Fabulous wallpapers that suit all ages and styles.

3. The Modern Baby: A treasure trove of decorative accessories and ideas with a contemporary feel.

4. IKEA: IKEA offers great design at great prices. Think outside the box – for example in our nursery I have repurposed their £3 spice racks as bookshelves and they look fantastic (more on this and other ideas another time…)

5. Auctions, antique fairs and car boots: Absolutely the best places to buy pre-loved nursery items, quirky artwork and unique pieces of furniture.

In the pink


pink flamingo

moises_esquenazi_pink_front_door_palm_springs

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pink living room

dressing tableTrends in interiors often follow the latest catwalk looks and this season it has been all about pink. Now, I love a bit of pink and my shade of choice is a dusty rose, but many shy away from this pretty colour because they are worried it will look too cutesy and too girly. A shot of pink in an interior can actually inject a bit of fun and warmth and you don’t have to go the whole hog – just a cushion or bunch of pink blooms will elevate a space and choosing a stronger shade will keep the look fresh and modern. It is also well known in the trade for being the most flattering colour against all skin tones – it makes you look younger and healthier into the bargain and what’s not to like about that?!

My new book is out now!


Book Cover

 

I’m immensely proud and excited to announce that my new book, Creative Living London, was published on 2nd September! It features 34 homes belonging to creative people in London including Ally Capellino, Marc Newson and Charlotte Stockdale, Lisa Eldridge and Robin Derrick, Zandra Rhodes, JamesPlumb, Jo Wood and Kate Halfpenny as well as loads of up and coming artists, designers and makers. We hope it provides you all with plenty of inspiration! The feedback from the press has been incredible and I would like to say a huge thank you to all the magazines that have featured some of the homes in the book. I hope you enjoy it!

Sneak preview of my new book – out September 2nd


CLL_Cover

 

After months of hard work, my book is now available to pre order on Amazon! I am extremely proud and can’t wait to see it. I still haven’t actually held a copy in my hands! I hope you will all rush out and buy it – it showcases the homes of some of London’s top creatives from Ally Capellino and Zandra Rhodes to Kate Halfpenny, Marc Newson and Sebastian Conran. There’s plenty to inspire and delight. Out September 2nd…. x

Sofa so good


So you’ll have to bear with me at the moment with the lack of posts. Things are a little bit crazy. Luckily I am busy with work and flying off here, there and everywhere to photograph lovely houses, but my main preoccupation at the moment is decorating our new home.

We recently moved from East London to West London. In London terms, this is rather like moving from New York to Los Angeles. Or something. It has been like arriving in a different city altogether. Gone are the creative hipsters on every street corner, brandishing their organic coffees and art-zines, vying to appear in the latest fashion blog as they parade down Broadway Market  – they have been replaced by yummy mummies in black four-by-fours all wearing fur trimmed parkas and converse trainers while pushing double buggies towards Queen’s Park. I am struggling to adjust!

We have rented out our London Fields pad and are renting a larger place over here. We have traded in achingly cool street markets, parks and art galleries for more space and a garden with a pear tree. I think it was a good move, but only time will tell. However, our new flat is rather stuck in the 1990s and needs some updating – but how to do this in a rental without seriously upsetting our landlord? He has given me carte blanche so long as I can restore it completely to how it was when we arrived… Hmmmm.

So far, I am planning to paint the walls in soft greys (luckily everywhere is white at the moment), add patterned rugs (I am into geometrics at the moment) and plenty of lovely sparkling chandeliers as well as huge mirrors. I am going to balance these with some modern furniture to keep it fresh as well as a few upcycled and refreshed pieces that I already have knocking around. Being unused to living in a rental property it is frustrating not to be able to do what I want (paint the floorboards, plaster over the exposed brick chimney breast, wallpaper here and there, replace the windows…) but I am going to do my best. It all seems to be taking me a very long time to sort out!

Our first major hurdle is actually getting a sofa to fit through the ridiculously tiny front door. We have tried three so far without success! Our sofa from our last place has gone into storage destined for eBay and yesterday the latest epic fail was a lovely modern chesterfield from made.com (the Flynn, see below).

Flynn sofa

I was sure it would fit in, but it just wouldn’t budge, so away it has gone. Sigh. I am now thinking of ordering the Margo from Sofa.com as it comes in four pieces so this will surely come through the Alice in Wonderland miniature door?

Margo sofaI have rather fallen in love with it in sky blue soft wool (which I couldn’t find an image of) but which is probably highly impractical with a small boy in the house, but I do love it. It will look lovely against grey walls with some fabulous antiques to really contrast and set it off. Fingers crossed. So, another six weeks with no sofa for us.

I do hope I haven’t bored you to death, but I wanted to keep you lovely readers in the loop! I will be posting some photos soon of the flat and my efforts to make it into a safe, stylish and comfortable family home for us. Stay tuned. Hopefully I will uncover some great new products and be able to share some really cool design tips. Especially if you are living in a rental. Watch this space.