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I'm taking you backstage again! This time at Orlebar Brown's Covent Garden shop where the SS15 collection of tailored beach and resort wear was shown both in in the shop, and to the delight READ MORE...
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Each season Showstudio invites their favourite fashion illustrators to create their own unique view of the collections, then they present each series READ MORE...
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I opened the cover of a new landscape photography periodical I had just received called Land/Sea and began browsing the photos and words as I walked into my kitchen READ MORE...
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Here's a little horror-inspired fashion viewing for your Monday morning! Directed by Trevor Undi and styled by Takafumi Kawasaki, the film follows model Jun READ MORE...
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Yes, this is a men's fashion post. And it feels right. This season's London Collections: Men was my first ever thanks to an invitation from long-term London Fashion Week sponsor Toni & Guy READ MORE...
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One day in Stockholm we took the ferry to the island of Djurgården to visit the Vasa Museum, one of Stockholm's most popular attractions. 'Vasa' refers to the Swedish warship READ MORE...
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Miss Kiki Salon is a collective that creates wearable art inspired by the beauty the find in their every day lives. Their latest designs form the Inui capsule collection READ MORE...
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December 19, 2013

Sideboard Daydreaming

Sideboard_Punt_SussexThe Punt Sussex Low Sideboard in blue, c. 2000, is my current lust. The design is inspired by the shingled, angled roof of an English cottage. It reminds me of sunny days at the beach. 

Never underestimate the potential power of storage furniture. Take the sideboard, or credenza if you must, a feat of form and function. It provides storage while offering a major feature piece for a space, it can anchor a room, and it will reveal much about its owner. I think opting for a sideboard in the first place, say over a hutch or cabinet which seem to be more traditional choices, reveals a love for design. It's really incredible how two or three boxes on a stand can be endlessly reinterpreted to provide a practical solution to clutter while dramatically enhancing the look and feel of a space.
The designs I've featured here are from Nest who have a selection of sideboards that make me tingly. (Yes, I get tingly for sideboards and I'm ok with that.) Right now I'm selling my huge, ornate French sideboard and hoping to replace it with something sleek and contemporary in the new year. Good design can be prohibitively expensive, particularly from the icon-producing brands. I'm eternally frustrated from finding interior pieces I want to live with forever but happen to be thousands of pounds - most of what you see here, remember this is daydreaming! (And you learn from the icons what makes good design, which helps you develop an eye and recognise desirable features in the lower-priced products). However, there is a lot of good design made with accessibility in mind, so much so that there is always something that will fit with what you're looking for and won't feel at all like a compromise. If you're also looking for value, have a browse of voucherbox.co.uk to find offers from UK furniture and homewares shops.  

If you want to see more products that help you to organise and beautify your space, take a look at the favourites from my Houzz Ideabook Fabulously Decorative Storage.

November 25, 2013

Stockholm: Östermalm and the Waterfront, Part 2

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Carrying on from Part 1 with more scenes of the waterfront and the shopping area of Östermalm, we begin with shots taken from the river. I took my daughter to rent some peddle boats. After choosing one that was impossible to get away from the dock (brilliant!) we moved into one on the end and took off. I forgot how much work it is to get down the water in those things! 

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Once we cleared the bridge we came upon a huge park that we didn't get to see on foot but was certainly pretty enough from the water:

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There was a beautiful house in Scandinavian style, or maybe it was something else - I'll investigate the park more thoroughly next time I'm in Stockholm which will be in May.

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Kind of surreal was this gate that was attached to nothing!

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The entrance to the park was this beautiful electric blue and gold gate:

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I decided we should head back so we didn't go over our hour and have to pay another 200 krona (the equivalent of about £20), but when I turned us around we fell into difficulty. I couldn't steer us and we ended up alongside the rocky bank as if magnetised, and nothing I did to get us away worked. After a good 15 minutes and getting rather sweaty and angry trying I nearly lost my mind! I humbly apologise to Stockholm for the terrible words I called the boat and the rocks. The rocks were completely innocent in the matter, but I'm not so sure the boat was. I honestly thought we were stranded on the river. Still, it probably didn't deserve the Yngvie Malmsteen-esque fury I unleashed upon it. 

Somehow we got righted - the fury worked! - and made our way back to the dock with a few minutes to spare:

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After that interesting outing we headed over the bridge and walked along the seafront toward the shopping district:

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There were lots of houseboats docked along the river:

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We had pistachio gelato on waffle cones and it was probably the best pistachio anything I've had: 

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Stockholm is a very clean city, so I found it funny that the one blatant piece of litter I did see in the Östermalm streets was an Ikea bag. I did not actually see an Ikea, however! 

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I loved the happy mailboxes all over Stockholm in light blue and yellow:

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The guys kind of do look like Alexander Skarsgard, in case you were wondering:

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This was an ad on a bus, but I did wonder for a split second if it was a mobile Abba museum. It's Sweden, you never know! 

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Swedish girls watching the koi in the pond in the city centre:

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There was a marathon in Östermalm that day. If we didn't already get the impression that Swedes are supremely fit and healthy, this certainly demonstrated it. This was their home base where the runners wait to start the race. 

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This cutie wasn't concerned with the race and took a rest in the shade: 

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I know it's immature, but the names of their chocolate bars were funny to me. I bought one each of Kex, Sport Lunch and Plopp for my daughter and had a bite, and have to admit that for cheap chocolate they weren't bad!

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Photos © The Swelle Life

November 01, 2013

A Look at 50 Years of the Mathmos Lava Lamp


I had a lava lamp in university. I bought it during the revival of the trippy 1960s ornament when they seemed to be everywhere. A lot of the styles were kind of big and clunky, and then I saw one that seemed more 'me', a slimmer model with a brushed silver base and top and the coolest colour of purple lava, a soft hue that looked gorgeous when the light was on. It was a Mathmos 'Astro' lamp and I got compliments on it all the time because it was different from the others. I loved that thing. It became kind of a night light because I'd fall asleep staring at it on my desk. 

Mathmos is celebrating 50 years of the lava lamp this autumn , and in reading over the history of the company I've learned some things about this iconic piece of pop culture. It's a British product, invented by Edward Craven-Walker who went on to found Mathmos in 1963. And all of the compoments are made in Britain, even today. Mathmos has committed to keeping the manufacturing of their classic on home turf and the company continues to be entirely British owned and run.

Here's a charmingly retro video (love the 'Barbarella' soundtrack) - showing us how each part is made - the bottle production in Yorkshire, metal spinning by hand and robot in Devon, and the formulation and final assembly in Poole, Dorset where it all began - with some lovely scenery shots from each location:


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To celebrate their 50th anniversary, Mathmos have launched a limited edition Astro with commemorative certificate signed by Christine Craven-Walker, the wife and business partner of the inventor. Alongside the limited edition is the new Heritage collection inspired by vintage colours and finishes in celebration of Mathmos’ long history:

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Here's a look at some vintage images from the early days of Mathmos:

Craven-Walker traveled the country selling from the back of an ex-postal van known as 'Smokey' - how neat! I wonder if it still exists?
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One of the first adverts for the Mathmos 'Astro' lamp

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Inventor of the lava lamp, Edward Craven-Walker. He is quoted as saying, "If you buy my lamp, you won't need drugs... I think it will always be popular. It's like the cycle of life. It grows, breaks up, falls down and then starts all over again".  

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The prototype of the 1960s Astro, created by the founder of Mathmos. It was inspired by a design for an egg timer that Mr. Craven-Walker saw in a Dorset pub!

I'm feeling nostalgic now, are you?

All Mathmos lava lamps are available to buy direct Europe-wide from www.mathmos.com

October 19, 2013

More Painted French Furniture Lust!

What would you display in your Mademoiselle Versailles Display Cabinet?

I don't know why I waited this long to do a follow up post to the original Painted French Furniture Lust, which was very popular if Pinterest referral links are anything to go by, but here it is! I'm moving away from the style in terms of what I'm doing with our house, but if I had a huge budget, large hallways and empty rooms to decorate any way I wanted, I'd be right back there. Hey, it could happen! (Please tell me how to make that happen.)

I've been collecting images for a while and these all happen to be from the UK's Sweetpea & Willow. There's a lot of painted furniture around in the French styles, but these stand out due to their particularly pretty detail and soft pastel shades, and they have something unique about them. 

How nice to be greeted by the Painted Entrance Cabinet (left) - love the pops of saturated teal against the washed out aqua. The blue of the Artus Corner Cabinet is just gorgeous and I like that this piece is minimally ornate. You can have it custom painted in your choice of 27 colours and finishes, a different one for the main body, interior, and edging, if you want. 


The hand carved Josephine Pearl Dressing Table is just a dream. What puts it over the top for me is the surprise of the pastel painted boxes inside; I would probably never put the mirror down so I could always see them. 


The traditional writing desk is such a luxury item because it's a non-essential piece of furniture that is more about elegant beauty than function. It's not exactly designed for working, unless your job involves penning romantic letters all day (that probably is a job if you replace 'romantic' with 'dirty'). The acid hues of the Zesty Lime Secretaries desk turns what could be a demure and delicate piece into something bold and edgy. If you still prefer the powdery pastels, the Aqua Bon might be more up your alley:


More to come when I find others as beautiful as these!

September 20, 2013

LFW: The Florals, Pastels, Textures and Shoes



London Fashion Week tends to have some sure hits when it comes to the can't-get-it-anywhere-else details and also perfectly collection-matched, fantastic shoes. So I've grouped together some of my favourite pieces from the shows for which there's a lot of overlap, as many were textured/pastel/floral. The thing I've loved about LFW when I've attended is the exhibition where collections that have already showed can be inspected up close (or until then you might see the current season in its place) so you can witness the glorious detail for what it really is. (However, I once found out the hard way that one especially exquisite designer's rep doesn't appreciate too many questions and just may be a bit paranoid that you're asking not out of gleeful curiousity but with the intention of stealing techniques! I thought that was rather paranoid, especially as the collection on display at the time was currently in stores, as next season's was showing later that day, and could be investigated at one's leisure; I don't think people attend LFW with their names on visible badges and then attempt to rip off by specifically asking about fabrics, etc! Especially when it comes to a designer who is so special no one could really come close anyway; it would be like finding out what paints and brushes Leonardo da Vinci used and then attempting to recreate the Mona Lisa. Contrastly, the next designer room I visited, which was another favourite for indulgent detail, invited me to touch the clothes and were generous and encouraging with the questions and even invited me to next season's show (which in the end is up to the PR team who handles the guest list and you never know what will happen with that, but the gesture was redeeming!) Either way, I respect the rules with each designer; I had just wished that the people of one of my most loved hadn't left me feeling dirty!) 

I wish I had some information to accompany the photos as I'm sure there are interesting collabs and other neat tidbits to note,but I've spent all of my time on the collages and have come up short on research time now that I'm on my way to the London Design Festival. But at the very least we can do some safe oggling at a distance!









Photos: Style.com

September 16, 2013

Tim Walker: Models and Treats


A while back we looked at Tim Walker's still lifes of desserts, and now here are his portraits of models with treats or dressed up as them. Mostly. (Some are with bread or toilet paper. Yes, toilet paper can indeed be 'Vogue'.)







September 08, 2013

Fashion Week Favourites Pt. 2: New York SS14

Kate_SpadeKate Spade New York's girls are back with their usual vivid sixties-influenced style worn with matchy shoes and quirky bags

We're carrying on highlighting the sunny looks set to take us out of the winter doldrums next spring, from New York Fashion Week. See Part 1 here


Getting back to the advantages of the staged photo/presentation format, Jenni Kayne showed resourcefulness in using her backdrops in their entirety to frame each look within an open cube. The peachy paper matched or complented tones in the garments while the black structure punctuated the linear and geometric black elements. 


Yes the skirts are truly lovely, but it's Gregory Parkinson's cardigans, a collaboration with cashmere company Parker Blue, that really steal the show. Their unique, custom-created looks come from sponging techniques which give them their bright splotches of color and clusters of tiny dots. Combined with horizontal stripes and a candy palette, they make for very special pieces that offer something far beyond the traditional cardie. 


Rebecca Minkoff looked to Latin women - some models channeled Frida Kahlo through wigs and (almost) monobrows - and their traditional dress to embellish her collection, finishing the looks with rather dramatic gladiators that echoed the delicate embroidery in the clothes. 


Noon by Noor is Shaikha Noor Al Khalifa and Shaikha Haya Al Khalifa, a design duo from Bahrain who took their inspiration for spring from the Tree of Life, translating the nature theme into contrasting floral and leaf printed pieces with rosette embellishments.


Just her second time out with her label Novis, Jordana Warmflash is already one worth looking out for each season. Her affinity for mixing textures and a fearlessness of colour with a little transparency thrown energise her classic styles and cuts. And I like the lacey chairs. 


Suno is a favourite of mine, and although I love them best when Erin Beatty and Max Osterweis go print-wild, because it plays up the contrasting textures in the fabrics so well, I can appreciate the spring solids just as much thanks to visual tricks like laser-cut detail and techno fabrics that incorporate pattern, offering a more subtle and rather 'clean' alternative to the print. 


Florals were also to be seen at Nicole Miller including a gorgeous, painterly trench, along with vivid kaleidoscope patterns in a variety of configurations and proportions. 


I am such a sucker for pastels. Prabal Gurung is too, it would appear. Unabashedly, he made the most of his sage, pink and lilac silks and crepes, working them into nearly full-length monochromatic outtfits, sometimes with jackets. The outfits here are the more restrained versions - the one coming up behind Karlie Kloss in the middle, as one example, was too much for even me!


It turns out those mesh gym shorts are good for something. They appear to have inspired a wonderfully sport-luxe collection from Rebecca Taylor in the form of perforated leather and cotton pieces mixed and matched with sheer panels and summery floral prints. 

Images: Style.com and WWD.com

September 07, 2013

Sweet Paul Summer: Gelato, Happy Homes & Sri Lanka


Technically it's still summer, right? Again I'm late, as this is the Sweet Paul summer issue and we're just a couple of weeks away from autumn, but as always there's too much of the (really, really) good stuff not to mention. So let's not waste any more time and get to it with a scrumptiously styled story on Gelato:



Charlotte Gueniau tells us all about her passion for colour, evident in photos of her harmonious, rainbow home, in the story Color Me Happy! I thought I was great at living with colour but Charlotte is giving me serious house envy; I would love to visit and never leave! She sought to create a joyful home and clearly, she's achieved that. Notice how she's cleverly grounded the rooms with white so the colours pop and flow rather than compete for attention and make us cross-eyed: 


Lotta Jansdotter takes us to her native home of Sweden and shares some of the traditional recipes she made for a special Sunday lunch in the garden for her friends and family:


While amenable, I'm not a huge shrimp person (that sounds funny together). But these seafood recipes look so delicious they have me wanting to devour pounds of the meaty little creatures. If you love your fruits de mer you must take a look at Sun, Surfers & Seafood:


 How gorgeous is this deco-styled summer cocktail story? Heaps. 



If that Pancake Cake with Wild Blueberry Jam, from Nordic Summer Cooking, made you salivate (I literally did each time I saw that photo, and by 'literally', I do mean literally) and you need to switch to savoury temptations to save shorting out your keyboard with drool, there's also a gorgeous Sri Lanka curry story, with recipes of course:


You can read the whole issue here, and get ready for fall - I've just seen a preview and it's already got me feeling better about the shorter days and chilly weather. 

Also, there was the loveliest peony story in this issue which I had planned to feature separately for Floral Friday, then I saw the fall issue flower spread (Sweet Paul never forgets the flowers regardless of the season), so it will join the peonies for double gorgeousness when it's out, which is very soon! 

September 06, 2013

Fashion Week Favourites Pt. 1: New York SS14

RedValentinoOnce again set in an illustrated garden, Red Valentino stay true to their mandate to dress the sweet and petite

New York Fashion Week has just kicked off and it's a beautiful start. Much like past seasons, I'm already more drawn to the creative presentations and embellished staged photos over the traditional runway procession. They tend to offer far more punch in terms of the visual packaging and in my opinion, get us more excited about the clothes. (Notice I said 'traditional runway' so that this would exclude those dramatic productions that transform the catwalk into theatre, such as Marc Jacobs' 'Over the Rainbow' show, and of course the master of emotionally engaging stunners so artful that they reduced some guests to tears, Alexander McQueen. Still stings, eh?)

Here are my favourite collections of the first day: 


Erin Fetherston's pretty, dress-centric collections are always at home in the garden. This time, some of the floral details in the pieces were inspired by her summer Barbados wedding, and the dresses themselves were based on some of the designs she created for her ceremony and parties. 


Creatures of the Wind have been a favourite in the past for a kind of homemade look to very feminine clothes, not referring to the quality but rather a casual, unfussy approach that made these very youthful clothes appear even more so. For spring, Shane Gabier and Chris Peters have further developed what some may call a 'maturation' or refinement of their designs which feature tailored looks and techno fabrics and are therefore more likely to appeal to a wider market. Yet the beloved COTW fun is ever-present thanks to the vivid reds and pinks, colour-blocking and patchwork which brought life to the collection. 


Robert Rodriguez' mostly monochromatic, exquisitely structured collection is something of a palette cleanser amongst the more sugary interpretations for spring.

Ok, ready for more sugar!


Tanya Taylor is a new designer on the scene, this being her third NYFW showing after a strong rookie and sophomore season, and I just love what she's doing. Spring is one very happy collection with lots of uplifting pastels and brights, stripes and florals - the latter of which are provided as custom prints created by the paintbrush-proficient Taylor, who also handpainted all 600 mini canvas invitations to mark her first runway show after two presentations. I love the striped sandals and bags which contrast or match depending on the outfit. 

More to come...

Images: Style.com 


August 15, 2013

Choosing the right colours for your home


What colour are the walls in your house? Are the colours left over from the previous occupant? Perhaps you’ve gone for plain white throughout to be on the safe side, or maybe you change your walls as often as you change your wardrobe, according to trends?

Whatever inspired your choices, have you ever given any thought as to how the colour in any individual room might impact on your mood? Different colours can inspire different emotions and hence what works in the kitchen for instance might not be right for a bedroom. If you’re planning some decorating then you might want to think not just about the space and light in your house but also how you want each room to make you feel.

If you don’t feel confident about choosing on your own, you can always enlist the help of one of the many interior design specialists in London and across the UK. Professional help can be pricey but if you lack the skills yourself it can make a massive difference to the end result.


Red is an intense and dominating colour and creates a really powerful energy in a room. A living room painted red can help to bring people together and stimulate conversation. Because it has been shown to raise blood pressure and heart rate it’s probably best avoided for a bedroom where you want a colour that will soothe and relax you ready for sleep.


You might think that yellow, being so positive and sunny, would be a great colour scheme for a room, but actually research has shown that a completely yellow room can be very over stimulating, leading to feelings of frustration and anger – babies have even been shown to cry more in yellow rooms! It is energising and uplifting though, but just use as a complimentary colour or in bold splashes in rooms like kitchens and bathrooms.


Blue has been shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure and this is where it gets its reputation for being soothing. Blue is a good choice for a bedroom for this reason, or any room where you want to create a relaxed vibe. But make sure it’s a room that gets lots of natural light so it doesn’t end up feeling too cold, and use a warm shade where you can. Bright blues and turquoises make excellent complementary colours.


Green is one of the most versatile colours for your home as it combines the warmth and energy of yellow with the calming properties of blue. It’s very restful on the eye and a soft sage shade is a perfect choice for a bedroom, especially as it’s also thought to have a positive effect on fertility!



Cupcake Monday!

Interiors & Exteriors

Floral Friday

London Fashion Week

Fashion Illustrator Series

Artist Series

Paris & Cities

Painted Houses Project

Colour Colour 



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