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Material Lab

On a hot Tuesday in central London there  are few better places to find yourself than Material Lab on Great Titchfield Street. Material Lab is a design resource allowing you to explore hundreds of materials such as ceramics, glass, wallpaper, wood, carpet, and eco-resins. I visited yesterday to source for a couple of projects, a live one and my KLC hard materials project and discovered the place was cool in every sense of the word.

Material Lab playing with samples

Material Lab is a relaxed and creative space where you can research materials and play with combinations at your leisure.

It is an initiative by Johnsons Tiles and obviously there is emphasis in their ceramic products with a newly converted basement showroom and a material specifier wall of samples.  There is also an array materials on hand from partners Formica, Karndean, Modulyss, Tektura and Armourcote.

Material Lab samples

In addition, there are complementary materials to explore from lesser known decorative fused glass and resin manufacturers, better known contract material suppliers and artisan-designer products such as etched upcycled slate roof tiles.

Samples at Material Lab

Material Lab is a really inspiring handy resource and its so refreshing that staff are happy to let you peruse at your own pace. For more information contact Material Lab or drop in at 10 Great Titchfield Street, London, open between 9am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday

Images 2 & 3 thanks to creativeboom


Barn doors

Whilst poring over pictures of barn conversions, I discovered this intreaging rustic trend; sliding barn doors used inside the home. How nice are these?

Not only to they add wow factor and a punch of industrial rustic chic, they are space saving so useful for small spaces or tight corners.








Possibly best suited to industrial or agricultural buildings, but if you aspire to living in a barn, why not?

For a tutorial on making and fitting a barn door visit where Dana desribes how she made the yellow one above.

Image credits: Main image with yellow door All other images sourced from Pinterest.

Preserving preserves

Apparently according to The Guardian, larders or pantries have come back in from the cold. The resurgence in home cooking and our revolt at wasting one-third of our food means larder cupboards are doing a roaring trade.

There is something wistfully nostalgic about the pantry and for me they have always been a room of yearning.  I remember my Grandma’s 1920’s store-room well. The chill obviously, and the faint aroma of lard. I recall the old tins, cakes under tea towels and jars of strange contents on wallpaper lined shelves. I also remember feeding the rhododendron with tea leaves, a peeling gazebo with flutterbys and a bomb shell amongst the rhubarb… but that’s all another story.

Cutting to the point, I think nostalgia is the root of the nations pantry fascination. For our generation, surely the idea of food organisation is much more appealing than the day-to-day reality, but perhaps meal time planning could be one of organised gleaming jars and deli ready baskets in a purposefully decorated room?

Where better to look for pantry inspiration than Daylesford Organics (above). Wouldn’t you love to grab your necessities from these bespoke top lit shelves? Whilst these stacked crates with pull out boxes offer an amiable utilitarian option.

Organisational basket heaven from H&M, but screenprinting your own baskets could prove the tipping point towards OCD. Alternatively pamper your preserves with their own wallpapered room, I agree not entirely necessary, but why not show your food some love?

This integral chalkboard is very useful especially the separate lower board to avoid your shopping essentials being wiped out for a bespoke ‘artwork’. Whilst this larder cupboard is a much more realistic option for many homes.

Unfortunately, I suspect many of these approaches would still not have the charm of my Grandma’s post war pantry and as I don’t presently have the space for my own personal Daylesford,  I shall dream on and preserve the memory of my Grandma’s preserves.

What features do others dream about in their perfect pantry I wonder?

Images top to bottom, left to right: Daylesford Organic; Daylesford Organic; H&M; ;;

The patterns of Wat Phra Kaew

Searching for some pattern inspiration, I came across these photos that I took at Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok’s Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

Wat Phra Kaew is located in the historic centre of Bangkok and is considered the most sacred temple in Thailand. It really is a feast of Thai workmanship.

wat phra kaew bird pattern

Amongst the gold and mosaic was a wall of these beautiful jade hand painted tiles.

wat phra kaew bird pattern 2

wat phra kaew bird pattern 3

wat phra kaew bird pattern 4

It seemed every surface was embellished with tile, mosaic, paint or gilt.

The temple consists of over 100 buildings within the precincts of the Grand Palace which covers an area of 234 acres. We visited some years ago now, but I recall it was a welcome tranquil retreat from the chaos of Bangkok.

A definite source of inspiration and a must see if you are ever in the locality.

Off the scale Tretchikoff

At InteriorsUK I was halted in my tracks at the sight of G Plan’s stunning exhibition space including this amazing supersize mural by Vladamir Tretchikoff.

G Plan Vintage at InteriorsUK

Hmmm I had a feeling I had seen this somewhere before…

Wayne Hemmingway's home featuring Surface View mural.

Wayne Hemmingway’s home featuring Surface View mural. Image thanks to

Yes, in none other than Wayne Hemmingway’s home.  But all was easily explained. Iconic furniture makers G Plan have collaborated with the celebrated Hemmingway Design team and John Lewis to produce G Plan Vintage  a capsule collection of five furniture ranges, each inspired by one of G Plan’s originals from the 50s, and all handmade in Melksham, Wiltshire.

I like Wayne Hemmingway’s approach, can’t get enough of vintage G Plan, and have a bit of an addiction to John Lewis so I am very excited about this elegant, iconic, British made furniture range.

Each style is named after the year in which it was originally released, and all are available in a selection of 17 textured fabrics. For more information visit G Plan Vintage’s website.

On a related note, Hemmingway Design collaborate with Surface View to produce a cracking range of customisable products and murals available to buy, including this supersize Tretchikoff.

Designersblock & Co

What an unexpected treat Designersblock & Co was at Interiors UK this week.

Penned as ‘The department store you will never see’ the event included a mix of exciting finds sourced from Designerblock’s network of new designers and makers.

There were some beguiling displays including experimental technology kits from Technology Will Save Us, wall mounted ceramics from Myung Nam An and Tartan Paint, which I am still pondering.

More comprehensible were the collectable edgy ceramics from New English who hail from the old potteries of Stoke on Trent, the china crockery from Max Lamb also made in Staffordshire and the experimental embroidery from Coralie Bonnet.

Sustainability was  a big theme, I liked the innovative approach of DeGross who create thoughtful and sustainable, yet beautiful products on a small-scale including these lamps made from glass bottles. With a similar approach, Jon Males ‘Rebay’ upcycled lights are built from materials from yes, ebay.

I think my faves were The Three Bears from Cristiniana Ionescu. Despite manufacturer’s obsession with bright coloured plastic, I think most small kids would prefer these tactile and versatile objects over cold hard plastic ride on toys. I also liked the laser cut Lovelace light from Elsa Sandy inspired by lace wallpaper from the Victorian Arthur Silver Studio.

I loved the potential of Paper Knot-wood from Helen Dugdale. This is a new hard material developed from waste coloured paper. It can be used like wood but each piece can be made in bespoke colour patterns dependant on the paper used. It can be used for any kind of surface coverings from furniture to accessories and changing the direction of the cut reveals different layers of colour altering the grain pattern of the material.

A bedroom with four legs and wings

A current real life project that I have on the go is to design a bed and accompanying bedroom scheme.

The evolving design is based around a bespoke upholstered bed influenced by the winged furniture of the 1930s. The overall line of the bed is contemporary with a reasonably low base and I rejected a french curve to the top in favour of overall clean lines. The features that really make this bed sing are the luxurious deep buttoned upholstery and curved wings which create a statement in proportion to the space. The effect of the upholstery can be seen in this photo taken from another design project I undertook a while back that incorporated an upholstered wall.

Velvet would have been the obvious choice as an upholstery fabric, but I wanted to add a fresher and slightly rustic edge to the bed so instead have chosen a hardwearing linen. The bed contrasts against the adjoining wall which I am proposing is covered in this Harlequin Clarissa Hulse paper. The brighter plum shade in the bedding makes the scheme pop. The beautiful Rosa fabric by Imogen Heath pulls together the colour scheme and is married with this stripe from Clarke & Clarke in the blind.

Proof you can’t get anything done with a dog around…although he does coordinate rather nicely!

My proposal is to include accessories and trimmings that add further accent colour and glimmer whilst a dressing table is to be set off against this small scale geometric paper by Romo providing further interest and contrast. I am loving the way this scheme is coming together, but still lots to do.

Hopefully, if Bertie allows, this will be a scheme I will have ‘after photos’ for sometime this year!

A wedding planner’s home office

I was pleased to recently be asked to design a home office for a wedding planner. Kerry Louise Clarke* has a wedding planning business which is really taking off. She creates amazing wedding themes and makes them happen working with a host of other professionals to deliver dream days.

*OK, before we go on I must admit that this time it is not actually a real-life brief, more of the KLC sort. Never-the-less I find it helps to keep a real client in mind, so…

Kerry’s home office is currently a shambles. She needs a productive office space that she can invite potential clients to, that also acts as an occasional guest bedroom. But to me when interpreting this brief, the first and foremost requirement was that was an impressive consultancy space that wows as much as the weddings she creates, one that wins business and facilitates productive meetings.

With this in mind, my conceptual musings were based around Kerry’s clients. What would impress them when seeking their perfect big day? I defined some words to drive the concept; modish, effervescent and romantic. I then chose concept images to drive the visual direction of the design (excuse the istock comps).

Concept and initial drawing

Concept and initial drawing

Lots of thought was given to the practical and functional aspects of the design, experimenting with various layouts. The resulting plan is a step away from the usual home office, it places consultancy seating in prime position in front of a real fire (for the many winter consultations) a coffee table for inspecting  sample books and wall mounted screen for viewing photographs and presentations.


Perspective on entering the room



The mid-century style furniture was chosen to add a modernist twist to the classic symmetrical layout and the plush of cotton velvet and shimmering linen add luxe and lift the scheme.

The colour scheme of taupe, grey and pink was chosen to evoke contemporary romance and is helped along by this effervescent artwork by Loughborough University graduate Georgina Vinsun. The modish geometric wallpaper by Osbourne and Little works with the larger scale graphic rug and finer scale voile to add pattern and textural interest throughout the space. The grey wooden floor earths the scheme.

The oval chandeliers sourced from Franklite act as decorative and accent lighting, adding sparkle and drawing the eye to the focal wall.  Additional concealed rope lighting runs around the upper edges of the room providing soft general light. Task lighting is provided by Original BTC, the etched mirror reflects daylight and a love poem.



Art lighting and mirror

Art lighting and mirror

Occasional guests are accommodated in a bespoke sofa bed. A modular coffee table on wheels becomes two bedside tables and the chairs push aside. Bedding and guest supplies are stored in alcove cupboards.

Practical work space is not forsaken, work takes place on this large bespoke sized desk by Dare Studio. Office devices and files are concealed in a wall of storage that is broken up with a display area.

Desk and storage

Desk and storage

Window treatment

Window treatment

The project is still work in progress, I need to do a few more sketches, draw in the dreaded office chair plus some accessories and do a bit more scheming for the adjoining hallway. And then final presentation to my client Kerry Louise… ahem, I mean KLC.

Choccywoccydoodah and sociable pendants

If you ever manage to find Chocccywoccydoodah’s  London Secret Room, then you are in for a treat. Although just off Carnaby Street, this decadent chocolate shop is quite innocuous with its black facade and elusive signage.

But inside is a wonderland of chocolate sculpture and luscious rococo furnishings set against a dark chocolate and raspberry backdrop. Aside from the chocolates, what really caught my eye were these convivial shades clustered together in the centre of the shop.

This got me chewing over the idea of friendly groups of shades and pendants. How scrumptious are these vintage shades in Kit Kemp’s Crosby Street hotel? Together they add an eclectic charm and an eye-catching focal point.  This chummy group of woven shades from Jenny Bland blogged about at Radiance lighting work together in a similar way but are gathered into one point.

It is not just fabric shades that get on well together. These expressive globe chandeliers at the Arla restaurant in Toronto designed byMoooi look like fireworks exploding and create a dramatic effect.

Whilst the modesty of these Firefly pendant lights fromCB2 add an understated glamour to this dining setting.

What’s more, it is relatively easy to create a unique cluster with vintage shades or new fittings, with shapes, textures and colours chosen to suit your space. Take a look at these beauties for inspiration…

Pendantspendant key

1. Smoke Mini Crystal from Tigermoth lighting; 2 Concorde Hangar light from Trainspotters;  3 Rippled glass pendant from Lighting Styles;   4 Beat White Stout pendant by Tom Dixon for Heals;  5 Shelby pendant by John Lewis;  6 Stanley large pendant by BTC at Lighting Matters;  7 Rodeo pendant by Dar Lighting; 8 Chloe pendant from BHS; 9 Closed Flower lampshade from Radiance lighting; 10 Alida Ball pendant from BHS.


What a great piece about the subtle colours used in English country estates by Kendra for Gardenista. I was very happy to provide my photos of Cottesbrooke village hall for the article.

Gardenista together with sister blog Remodelista form a transatlantic design blog reporting on trends, interiors and gardening. Gardenista was named as one of Time magazine’s top 25 blogs.

Check it out to see why…

Gardenista post