Tag Archives: design

Raise It Up

I like embossed items (I’m still hankering after that embossed cherry purse I showed you recently), but embossed card has a particularly luxurious feel to it and the raised design begs to be stroked. These square hand embossed cards by Lino King Cards are wonderfully luxurious but are a snip at £1.50 each.

They are brightly coloured on the outside with a serene grey inner and come with a contrasting envelope.

You could choose the cream or mustard yellow floral design:

Hand Embossed Coloured Cards, Floral Set - Lino King Cards

The green or grey pattern design:

Hand Embossed Coloured Cards, Pattern Set - Lino King Cards

Purple, blue or brown circle design:

Hand Embossed Coloured Cards, Circle Set - Lino King Cards

Or bright yellow, red or turquoise flower design:

Hand Embossed Coloured Cards, Flower Set - Lino King Cards

Can’t choose? Then buy all ten designs for £13.50, which is what I’m going to do. I hope I can keep the stroking to a minimum so they’re not all grubby by the time I send them to people. If I can’t bear to part with them I may group three or four together in a frame as a bit of inexpensive art.

Have you seen any nice embossed things recently?

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Splendid Stamps from Yellow Owl Workshop

I’ve written about the LCD card from Yellow Owl Workshop before but I had to mention their stamps. There are some nice scenic stamp sets which would be great for kids but there’s lots of grown-up stamps too, I’m particularly hankering after the ones in their stamp activity kits section.

Make sure you take all the credit for your culinary creations and label your food gifts with this lovely red ‘From the kitchen of…’ stamp set.

From the kitchen of stamp kit - Yellow Owl Workshop

If you like to share a good book but also like to get them back, stamp your books with this bright green stamp. That owl will give any greedy book borrowers a stern look.

Book plate stamp kit - Yellow Owl Workshop

Or stamp your own place cards, gift tags or noughts and crosses game. These are all $19.50 and include a natural rubber stamp mounted on a maple block, ink pad and coordinating coloured pencil. I may have to explain the mix-tape gift tag to my younger gift recipients but I’m really hankering after this one.

Mixtape stamp kit - Yellow Owl Workshop

Yellow Owl also have some cute place stamp sets. London features stamps of Big Ben and a double-decker bus, and just look at the Paris one below with the Eiffel Tower and café table and chairs. There are also sets for New York, San Francisco and Italy.

Paris stamp set = Yellow Owl Workshop

If you want to have a go at carving your own stamp Yellow Owl Workshop sell a kit to help you do just that. It comes with a Print Workshop book autographed by the author Christine Schmidt, a lino cutter and blade set, rubber block to carve your stamp from and an array of envelopes, cards and gift tags for you to show off your stamp creations. If you’re not confident carving freehand there are some templates included to help you. All this for $40 which I think is pretty good.

Carve a stamp kit - Yellow Owl Workshop

What stamp would you create?

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Swallows & Bees

I have some long-held hankerings about wallpaper. I’ve told you about my Florence Broadhurst wallpaper hankering which is yet to be realised. Here are another two designs I first saw about seven years ago and am still hankering after.

‘Swallows’ has circles of a repeat design of falling leaves which become birds and then become swallows as they reach the edge of the circle. I’m still torn between the black on white and the red on white versions but it also comes in the more subtle lacquer on blue and lacquer on cream. I love the chaotic feeling of this design but have just never had the right place to put it.

Swallows Red from Places and Spaces

‘Bees’ is a similar design with honeycomb in the centre of the circle which turns into bees and butterflies, a more orderly and feminine design which comes in aqua on mole, mole on aqua or my favourite black on pink. I saw the black on pink version in the ladies toilets of a pub in Battersea call The Duchess, they had decorated with gloss black bevelled-edge metro tiles and Venetian mirrors and it looked fantastic. In the flesh this one has a hand-stamped feel to it.

Bees Wallpaper from Places & Spaces

Both wallpapers were exclusively designed for Places and Spaces by Absolute Zero Degrees, are £60 per roll and available from Places and Spaces online or at their shop in Clapham, London.

Which would you choose?

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Sofa City Sweetheart

When my husband and I moved in together we tried to cram our furniture from our two separately owned flats into our one jointly owned house. We had far too much stuff. One year, eleven months and three weeks later we have slowly sold, donated, swapped or binned almost enough furniture so we can move around the rooms without bashing shins and thighs on furniture corners. There have been battles though. Things we both couldn’t bear to part with, our beds for example.

I love my old bed, it was the first piece of furniture I ever bought nine years ago and I got it in the sale with a matching ottoman. It’s massive, heather-purple and upholstered so if you bash the corner of it as you walk past you don’t get a bruise. My husband also loves his bed, which is huge and so high that when I sit on the edge my feet just touch the floor. It is dark wood, square and regal looking with a chest of drawers to match.

But we compromised, my bed and ottoman went in the spare room and his bed and chest of drawers went in our bedroom. The thing is that we rarely have people to stay, or not often enough to warrant a queen-sized bed taking up a whole room anyway. So we’ve agreed to get rid of one of the beds (which one is still in discussion) and put a sofa bed in the spare room so we can use it properly as an office, but still accommodate people when we need to.

Two things I’ve discovered in my sofa bed search; sofa beds are expensive and sofa beds are ugly. Generally speaking of course. I’ve found some exceptions…

Not particularly inexpensive at £1300 but still cheaper than anything nice from Sofa Workshop and oh so beautiful is the Matilda Chesterfield Sofa Bed from Love Your Home For Less.  The colour. The buttons. The shape. I love it. Nearly as much as my old bed.

Matilda Chesterfield Sofa Bed - Love Your Home For Less

This sofa bed from Duffy London is £1545 but it is three products in one and deserves a mention as it’s so clever, useful and beautiful that it might be worth saving up for. Use it as a three-seater sofa (there’s also a four-seater version), fold it out into a sofa bed or take the cushions off and use it as a low dining table with floor cushions. This would be great for a small living room or studio.

Duffy London Sofa BedThe Copperfield Sofa Bed from Fashion For Home isn’t as pretty but does loads. Push the seats together as a sofa or pull apart as armchairs with a coffee table in-between, pull out as two single beds or a double bed, one person can recline while the other sits upright. The covers are loose so can be washed easily and come in beige-grey, grey-black or ugly silver-black. For £749 I think this is a great balance between design, versatility and price.Copperfield Sofa Bed - Fashion For Home

Made’s Yoko Sofa Bed is a bargain at £189, it’s really designed for one person so not quite as useful, although it’s got a similar amount of bed space as others I’ve seen sold as ‘small doubles’. It comes in five colours. Delivery from Made can take a while but is definitely worth it for the savings you get.

Yoko Sofa Bed Cream - Made

This next one is definitely more at the ugly end of the scale but it’s pretty inoffensive and cheap at £89. I had to include it because of this. Good old Ikea. You may not want to give it pride of place in your living room, but as an occasional bed in a spare room or kid’s bedroom it’s fine and nothing that a gorgeous throw and cushions couldn’t cheer up a bit.

Solsta Two Seat Sofa Bed - IkeaCan I make this Max the Bath Tub Chaise count as a sofa bed? You could sleep on it couldn’t you? Sort of?

Max the Bath Tub Chaise- Reestore

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Hopeful Doves

This morning I’ll bet there were more than a few people relieved that January is out of the way. It doesn’t usually, but this year January got to me.

But it is February today and I have high hopes for this month. So high that I may need some help from some hopeful doves.

A dove necklace but not like any other, the Paloma: Dove Hand Shadow Puppet Necklace is really different and will have you trying to remember shadow puppet shapes from childhood memories. This sweet shadow puppet website might jog your memory (I particularly like Grandpapa and Boy – I thought it was only animals that could be made! Anyway I digress…). This necklace in either finish is £50 from Bouf.

Paloma: Dove Hand Shadow Puppet Necklace - Bouf

I bet the black doves (not ravens!) on this acrylic ring by The Mesh would cast a good shadow too. Gorgeous and even including shipping costs from Portugal you will be left with change from a tenner.

These Are Not Ravens, Are BLACK DOVES ring - The Mesh

The Dinky Dove is a new greeting card seller on Etsy, she makes cards from her nest in Surrey. The cards are deliciously simple in their designs, I love this ‘Dove Flying to Heart’ card. All the cards are £2 plus postage.

Dove Flying to Heart Card by The Dinky Dove

I wonder if The Dinky Dove’s nest looks like this ‘Ménage A Trois’ Boutique Hotel for Birds by Doveshed?

'Ménage A Trois' Boutique Hotel for Birds by Doveshed

You can choose your choice of Farrow and Ball paint and with the optional copper tropical love birds and monogrammed lead heart this could be a beautiful wedding or anniversary gift. This three-bedroom version is £109 and the six-bedroom ‘Le Petit Chateau’ is £129.

Our cats would get very fat very quickly if we put this in our garden so, unluckily for our cats, I may instead opt for the wine rack or cupboard that Doveshed do in similar designs.

Here’s hoping to a fantastic February!

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Pineapple Ice Bucket Retro

I love, love, LOVE this shop. I found it when I was looking for an actual pineapple ice bucket, but there are so many amazing things in this shop apart from bar-ware. There’s kitchen equipment, furniture, fabric, clothes (for men and women), greetings cards, Christmas decorations and loads more. Most items have free UK delivery and really reasonable price tags.

I want to show you practically everything, but let’s start with the unused 1970s greetings cards. This mermaid card is so gorgeously retro and just £3.

1970s Greetings Cards - Pineapple Ice Bucket Retro

I used to have a small suitcase like this in cream that belonged to my grandmother. Perfect for storing things in at home if you don’t want the baggage handlers to bash it about. Did I mention it has pink lining? It’s only £25.

Navy Case - Pineapple Ice Bucket Retro

I want this plastic 1960s mirror for our bedroom, it will match perfectly when we finally get around to redecorating. But that’s a while away and I’m sure one of you will snap it up before then.

Red Mirror - Pineapple Ice Bucket Retro

 Always a fan of animals stampeding, the running horses on this dish grabbed my eye immediately. Look at their beautiful tapered legs.

Beswick Black Horse Dish - Pineapple Ice Bucket Retro

Pineapple Ice Bucket Retro have loads of lampshades that would match their beautiful 1960s turned wood lamp base.

Cream Turned Lampbase - Pineapple Ice Bucket Retro

Finally, this blue 1970s Herbert Terry anglepoise desk lamp is refurbished with a blue fabric flex, the most expensive of the things I have shown you at £110, but possibly the most hankered after?

Blue Anglepoise Lamp - Pineapple Ice Bucket Retro

If you want to have a rummage through their stock, Pineapple Ice Bucket Retro have a shop in Brockenhurst in Hampshire. Or look out for details on their blog of the vintage and retro flea market they will be doing one Saturday in Lymington.

Seriously, go and look at the site. When you’ve had a look, come back and tell me what your favourite item is – I’d love to know!

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Travelling with Glass

I’ve just returned from a long weekend in San Francisco visiting my brother and whilst I was there he asked me to come along to Crate & Barrel to help him pick up a dining table and chairs for his new apartment. It’s only a short walk from his apartment but with no car we had lots of comedy moments negotiating the equivalent of London’s Oxford Street with a well over-stacked sack barrow we borrowed to get the three massive boxes home and up to the fifth floor. When we returned the sack barrow to the shop I spotted this cold beverage jar with stand.

Cold Beverage Jar & StandI’ve never seen anything like this in the UK and immediately had romantic notions of serving traditional lemonade on the patio in summer out of this. I also thought my husband would really like it as he loves all things decanter-y.

Imagining the nightmare of getting a large glass item home on the plane I didn’t get it. But as I’d been hankering after it all weekend, just before leaving for the airport I decided I’d go back and see how safely they could package it up for a plane journey.

I didn’t know Crate & Barrel did UK delivery. I didn’t even think to ask. That knowledge would have saved me buying a cheap carry-on bag and a breathless sprint through Heathrow airport chasing the man who had accidentally taken it with him when he got off the plane.

But I got it back in one piece and proudly presented it to my husband to the underwhelming response of… “Meh”. He’ll change his mind when he pours himself a glass of traditional lemonade on the patio…

Have you seen anything similar to this?

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Beautiful Bell Jars

Following on from my last post on the book ‘The Bell Jar’ I move onto my next hanker, actual bell jars. Or, as I’ve nothing I need to keep in a vacuum, decorative bell jars.

For our wedding table centrepieces I had the idea to name each table the traditional anniversary materials and put a little something made of that material within a bell jar.

Table one was going to be a paper rose, table two a wooden heart, table three – well you get the picture. This was a great idea until I added the cost up and factored in setting it up in the morning and packing it all away at the end of the evening.

In the end we went with dahlias within upturned bowl vases that we could hire from the florist.

Our Wedding Table Centrepieces

They were nice, but in hindsight I wish we’d gone with our original idea and saved the money elsewhere.

So now I’m looking for a bell jar to display some little reminders of our wedding in. This one from Cox & Cox is one of the more reasonably priced ones that I’ve seen.

Cox & Cox Bell Jar

The bell jars at Brighton Pod are also reasonably priced and include a base.

Brighton Pod Bell Jar

I really like this one with the mirrored base by I Love Retro.

Bell Jar with Mirrored Base - I Love Retro

What would you put in your bell jar?

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I Heart Sylvia Plath

I’m reading Sylvia Plath’s semi-autobiographical novel ‘The Bell Jar’ about Esther Greenwood’s year when she finds herself under a metaphorical bell jar suffering from a mental breakdown. The description of depression as “struggling for breath under a bell jar” really resonates with me. Unable to make people hear her soundless screams from within the vacuum of the bell jar Esther is driven to act out her feelings to communicate them.

Earlier this year I heard a recording of Plath reading her poem ‘Lady Lazarus’ and her voice, both staccato and drawn out in turn seduced me with a wonderful tone that I associate with a time gone by. While reading, I can hear this voice coming out of the pages of ‘The Bell Jar’, drawing me into the story.

There is a remake of the 1979 film coming out next year starring Julia Stiles and Rosie McGowan which I’m interested to see. I hope I won’t be disappointed by it, which is so often the case with film versions of books I’ve read (‘The Golden Compass’ was a particular let-down in contrast to Philip Pullman’s amazing ‘Northern Lights’).

The imagery on the original front cover of The Bell Jar, published in 1963 under pseudonym Victoria Lucas, is so perfect for the book and if you were to judge the book by its cover, gives a real sense of the story within. In fact, I’m hankering after this first edition available at Abe Books so much that if I had a spare £7000 I would surely make it mine (is there such a thing as a ‘spare’ £7k?).

The Bell Jar - Victoria Lucas, 1963 First Edition

I may have to make do with this £10.95 poster of the 1966 cover design instead from The Literary Gift Company.

The Bell Jar Poster - The Literary Gift Company

I’ll leave you to be hypnotised by Sylvia Plath’s wonderful voice reading her amazing poetry.

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Coat attack!

Now winter is well and truly here, coats have been reproducing on our newel post to the extent that when we go up or down the stairs we have a choice. Either turn sideways against the wall and squeeze past the mass of coats or knock them all on the floor. Of course any teenagers in the house knock them on the floor without thinking… and leave them there. Not annoying at all.

A near miss this morning involving an armful of washing, two cats and a jumble of coats on the floor got me online looking at coat stands.

The first one I’m hankering after is of course way out of my budget at nearly a thousand AU dollars, and in Australia. The Stoby Pole designed by David Potts was inspired by stencil graffiti.

How about making your own more affordable 2D version of the above with this Power Pole wall sticker from Rockett St. George and some black hooks? At almost a tenth of the cost you might be left with something to pay your power bills with.

Power Pole Wallsticker -Rockett St George

The genius of this ceiling-hung Wardrope Coat Rack by Authentics is its simplicity, you can move the hooks to the height you want and the weight of the coat fixes them in position. Perfect if you’re short on space.

Wardrope Coat Rack - Authentics

If you’ve already got coat hooks and just have too many coats, quadruple the capacity of your existing coat hooks by adding this leather ball Coat Stand by Eno. I bet these smell nice too…

Coat Stand by Eno

This Tree Coat Stand from The Holding Company looks so smooth and strokeable and has plenty of capacity, but will also stand around looking pretty when it’s got nothing to do.

Tree Coat Stand - The Holding Company

For a classic bentwood coat stand the HND Cafe Coat Stand has been brought up to date in red, white or black and there’s even space for an umbrella or two.

HND Cafe Coat Stand - John Lewis

Which do you like best? Have you got any coat stand recommendations?

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