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coffees and art-zines, vying to appear in the latest fashion blog as they parade down Broadway Market  – they have been replaced by yummy mummies in black four-by-fours all wearing fur trimmed parkas and converse trainers while pushing double buggies towards Queen’s Park.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 (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 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.

When I met Zandra Rhodes

Last week I was honoured to spend a day with the legendary fashion designer Zandra Rhodes at her glamorous home and studio above the Fashion Museum in London. Zandra was an inspiration! Fresh off a plane from Los Angeles the night before, she was busy putting together her latest collection while still finding the time and energy to be a gracious and generous host. With her eccentric pink hair, vibrant rainbow-coloured clothes and infectious enthusiasm, she brought us sunshine on a gloomy London day.

Zandra has had an incredible career spanning more than forty years, which is an enormous achievement in the notoriously ruthless and fickle fashion industry. Ever the trail blazer, her bold and colourful designs have made her a true fashion icon and she has dressed everyone from Bianca Jagger and Debbie Harry to the Princess of Wales and Kylie Minogue. Her home is every bit as vibrant and colourful as she is and reflects her extraordinary artistic and creative talent.

Zandra showed us around her home and studio, which is an impressive space above London’s Fashion Museum, which she founded. Industrious pattern cutters and seamstresses were busy putting the final touches to her latest collection in her studio, while next door in her office original drawings adorn the walls while huge flight cases store her life’s work. Downstairs, Zandra’s vibrant textiles are screen printed by hand while the beautiful, colourful clothes that are the final product are kept on rails upstairs, ready to be shown. Zandra herself was full of energy, brimming with ideas and enthusiasm and quite an inspiration. What an amazing lady.

Massimo Vitali

I was on a shoot recently and although the house was full of incredible art, I came away determined that one day I would be able to own a print (or two) by this man, Massimo Vitali. Born in 1944 in Italy, he studied photography in London and began photographing beaches in 1995. He has since produced some stunning panoramic images of Italian beaches, revealing “the inner conditions and disturbances of normality: its cosmetic fakery, sexual innuendo, commodified leisure, deluded sense of affluence, and rigid conformism” as well as capturing the energy of the dance floor in a series of images of nightclubs and discos. Having been known to hit the beach, as well as the dance floor, and sometimes both at the same time, I find his images have a particular appeal and add a refreshing energy to an interior. Other more well known fans of his work include Elton John, Courtney Cox (whose home is pictured above), Cameron Diaz and Sasha Baron Cohen.

A stunning house in Sweden

I was surfing the web this morning, supposed to be doing some research for my book, when I stumbled upon this video about the home of the Swedish interior designer Marie Olsson Nylander, and I had to share it with you. Marie took a damp and dirty old house and transformed it into a stunning light filled space, filled with quirky antique and vintage finds and has made a dream family home. I particularly love the family’s open plan living space and Marie’s beautiful studio. Marie has thrown the rule book out of the window and just filled the house with things that she and her husband love and that is why it works so well.

Via House of Bliss

Google’s new offices by Penson

These are Google’s new London head quarters in Convent Garden. It’s great to see the designers, Penson, having a bit of fun and creating office spaces that treat people as human beings. The interior of the Renzo Piano- designed Central St Giles building is a nod to all things British and features roof-top allotments for staff to grow their own food, outdoor work spaces, a granny inspired ‘living room’ and plenty of comfortable work and relaxation areas.

Josephine Gintzburger’s Paris home

Following on from yesterday’s post about injecting a bit of glamour into your home, I thought I would share these images of Josephine Gintzburger’s super glamorous apartment in Paris. The reason it works, as I was saying yesterday, are the contrasts between the clean, modern lines, and the softer antique and vintage elements as well as lots of colour, texture, fabulous art and of course amazing chandeliers. I hope you feel inspired!

Think glamorous… my top 5 tips for a glamorous interior.

We all like a little bit of glamour in our lives. Well, I do, and if you’re reading this blog the chances are that you do too. Our homes need to be comfortable, practical, safe, cocooning and full of personality, but I also like interiors that ooze glamour. I just can’t help myself.

Whilst there is no doubt that creating a comfortable yet glamorous home takes time and patience, there are a few tips I can share with you to help lift your home to another dimension… To make your heart skip a beat when you step through the door.

1. Get yourself a sparkling chandelier and bring in a bit of gold or silver, even if it’s just a lamp base, vase or cushion. We are all magpies at heart and nothing says glamour like crystals, gold and silver. Try to avoid anything new or tacky and look instead on auction sites such as eBay or vintage gems or visit vintage and antique fairs to snap up a bargain.

2. Introduce a buttoned sofa, chair, bed or ottoman for instant luxury and style.

Again, these can be picked up on eBay or at auction but beware of buying something that needs reupholstering if you are on a budget as the cost will escalate to a whole other level once something needs recovering.

3. Don’t be afraid to use colour. Whether you love bright colours or more muted, pastel shades, make sure you use plenty of colour and whatever you do, resist making everything beige! Colour brings an interior to life and can make ordinary furniture or everyday objects look more expensive and vibrant.

4. If it’s full on glamour you’re going for, and for a more formal look, try to create symmetry. Buy pairs of chairs, lamps or tables and place them in a formal arrangement for a more sophisticated look.

5. Mix vintage and antiques with modern pieces for a more personal, glamorous look. Combining different materials, textures and colours will create a more interesting feel and don’t forget to add artwork. Push the boundaries and only use things that you love, that make your heart sing. This is the most important thing of all.

The fabulous David Carter

Today I met the utterly fabulous David Carter while on location in his extraordinary Queen Anne house in East London. David is a feted interior designer and is the ultimate flamboyant, creative genius.  A true dandy with an impressive intellect, an acerbic wit and an incredible eye for interiors, his home is an intoxicating experience. A heavenly mix of the old and new with some breathtaking pieces of art and sculpture, it is the ultimate in glamorous style and we had a wonderful time shooting there. Thank you, David.