LFW
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LFW: BACKSTAGE AND BEYOND AT PAUL COSTELLOE

think we could all use a dose of soft, pretty and innocent right now. Paul Costelloe brought his unabashed femininity to the runway READ MORE...
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CARMEN DELL'OREFICE TO OPEN SINGAPORE FASHION WEEK

Carmen Dell’Orefice...if this is what being in your 80s looks like then I'm looking forward to it! The legendary model, who once declared to Vanity Fair, “If I die, it will be with my high heels on”, is set READ MORE...
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BACKSTAGE AT JEAN-PIERRE BRAGANZA

This is what 'sex on a motorcycle' hair looks like! Well, it does to Jean-Pierre Braganza. For his SS15 show, 'Architectonic', he asked the Toni & Guy session team READ MORE...
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#UNLOCK ART FILM SERIES ENDS ON A HUMOROUS NOTE

The film series, #UnlockArt, produced by Tate and supported by Le Meridien, concluded with the release of the last of eight films, What's So Funny?, decided by an online poll READ MORE...
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NET-A-SPORTER LAUNCHES 7-DAY BODY REBOOT

NET-A-PORTER has gone sporty with their 7-Day Body Reboot, a daily fitness and healthy diet program presented as a video series. I think this is brilliant for two reasons. First, it's a smart way to promote READ MORE...
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WeSC & ALTEWAI SAOME LAUNCH HIGH END STREETWEAR

Following the wrap-up of Stockholm Fashion Week is the launch of a new collaboration between two Swedish fashion greats, skate/street brand WeSC and design duo Altewai Saome READ MORE...
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MADE LONDON RETURNS TO MARYLEBONE

The Design and Craft Fair, MADE LONDON, returns to One Marylebone 24-26 October to present the very best in contemporary craft and design. Showcasing over 120 READ MORE...
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September 18, 2014

LFW: Backstage at Jean-Pierre Braganza with Toni & Guy

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This is what 'sex on a motorcycle' hair looks like! Well, it does to Jean-Pierre Braganza. For his SS15 show, 'Architectonic', he asked the Toni & Guy session team to create 'dishevelled, very beautiful, soft, flowing, long hair' to complement the strong look of the clothes. Some of the designs reminded me of drapey origami, while others incorporated motorbike engines in print. The makeup was created by M.A.C. with artfully lined eyelids in a shape that looked like a bird's wing when closed. The clothes, hair and makeup combined to create one the most beautifully complete runway looks I've seen. Edgy yet very wearable in the real world.

If you want the 'Ethereal hippy girl meets biker culture' look and there is no motorcycle to be found, here's the technique:

  1. Create a deep side parting, prep the hair with label.m Blow Out Spray and blast dry. 
  2. Take label.m Curling Tongs 28mm through the ends of the hair to create slight movement but not a curl
  3. Tuck hair behind ears with the top of ear peeking out for a fashion edge
  4. Sweep hair to the opposite side of the head over the forehead, finish off with label.m Hairspray

You can watch the video to see how it's done by the Toni & Guy team, lead by Global Creative Director, Sacha Mascolo-Tarbuck:

Here are my photos from the very energetic JPG backstage at the BFC Courtyard Show Space at Somerest House:  

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And the man himself, Jean-Pierre Braganza:

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Fans of JPB might want to add this to their Christmas list or keep it in mind for style-conscious family and friends: label.m's latest designer collaboration is a variety of gift sets featuring Jean-Pierre Braganza's bold and beautiful signature prints, including a gorgeous scarf in black, white and crimson: 

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September 09, 2014

#UnlockArt Film Series Ends on a Humorous Note

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The film series, #UnlockArt, produced by Tate and supported by Le Meridien, concluded with the release of the last of eight films, What's So Funny?, decided by an online poll.  It was a lighthearted end (though humour was present in each narrative) to a series that achieved exactly what it set out to do. Sharp-witted writers, charismatic presenters we all know, first class production and astute directors addressed topics such as How to Buy Art, Where are the Women? and Pop Art, making high art easy to understand and enjoyable. 

Clearly, I'm a huge fan of the series, I really can't say enough about it. I spent four years in university studying art and art history, and I thought performance art was, well, kind of rubbish to be honest. Misguided weirdos wanting attention and calling it art. That's how I saw it because I didn't understand it. Usually I take the attitude that something shouldn't be dismissed unless you do your part in trying to wrap your head around it, but in this case I felt my assertion was valid. It so happened that the debut film in the series addressed this very subject, and in a matter of five minutes I finally understood what I hadn't been able to get my head around for years. Performance art still isn't my thing, but I get it now, I've made friends with it, and I can appreciate its cultural influence and the place it holds in art history. What a great way to begin. 

And here is the room where the #UnlockArt series officially wrapped up, in Le Meridien's opulent, violet-tinged, Adams Room where all eight films ran on a loop on the wall, providing the backdrop to a fantastic, #UnlockArt-themed dinner, created by Chef de Cuisne Michael Dutnall:

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Franz served up his delicious cocktails, some of the molecular variety: 

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LM-8Le Meridien's Chef de Cuisine Michael Dutnall 

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Our sorbet palate cleansers (in this case it could be palette as well?) were served in mini shopping bags marked SOLD to tie in with the film How to Buy Art. 

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Dessert was served in a themed box, mine being...can you guess? Pop Art, of course.

KAPOW! to my glucose levels indeed, look what was inside:  

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I was too full to even think about dessert (I left out a couple courses in the photos because sweets and tiny food present a lot nicer than meat), but there was no way I was leaving it behind, so this box of goodies came back to my room and I got into it when I woke up. 

Want to know more about Humour in Art? Let's take the last of the tours that art historian and author Linda Bolton (how we will miss her!) designed to explore works associated with the film topic. Here's a selection from the works we saw at Tate Modern earlier that day, which illustrate how humour comes in many different forms, in Linda's words:

Niki de Saint Phalle – Shooting picture, 1961

She did what? Shoot stuff? That was her thing. Niki de St Phalle said she was angry. In her zip fronted white leather cat suit and hard attitude, she told everyone in her sexy French accent that she was angry with everyone and everything. She wanted to shoot everything and everyone. Niki made shooting paintings: she put liquid paint in a bag, sealed the bag, pinned it to the canvas and covered it in plaster. Plaster dried, she shot the plaster, punctured the bag below and the colour bled down the picture. 

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Thomas Hirschhorn – Candelabra with heads, 2006

Hirschhorn is known for his sculptures and installations made from everyday materials such as cardboard, plastic and paper, bound together with brown packing tape. This work was originally part of an exhibition called Concretions, a term from geology and medicine that suggests the gradual growth of a solid mass. Hirschhorn related the theme to a broader social and spiritual petrification. Here the faces of mannequins seem to be emerging from – or submerged into – larger biomorphic forms.

Thomas Hirschhorn – Candelabra with heads 2006

(I have to admit that every time I see this work I feel crampy. I don't need to explain why, do I?)

Stanley Spencer – The Centurion’s Servant, 1914

As we looked at this painting, Linda told us the humorous story (to us, but surely not him) of how Spencer fell in love with a lady called Patricia Preece, married her, yet took his ex-wife Hilda Carline on honeymoon with him. Preece began to manage Spencer’s finances and slowly duped him of his money, even though she refused to consummate their marriage. Stan really didn't play that one right. Find out more here.

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David Shrigley – I’m Dead

David Shrigley's art is almost always humorous. His Leisure Centre is a funny play on words and concept, as is his I'm Dead placard-holding taxidermy dog.

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Bruce Nauman – Run from fear fun from rear, 1941

Bruce Nauman makes a fun word play in his neon work. It's a bright, post-pop shout-out for irreverent fun.

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Roy Lichtenstein – Mustard on White, 1963

Roy Lichtenstein makes an art joke in his Mustard on White. The great pop artist makes fun of the American abstract expressionists here. The pairing of colours sounds like the title of an abstract work and at the same time jokingly refers to a condiment on white bread.

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And before we go, here's something I found kind of funny from one of Franz's magic molecular demonstrations at the Terrace Grill and Bar - when he lifted the cloche after scent-infusing the cocktails, his head seemed to disappear into a delicious-smelling iquid nitrogen cloud:

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A huge thank you to Le Meridien for providing what is hands down the most fun and exciting learning experience I have ever had. Sure beats university! (At least the one I went to.) If you want to see posts on the preceding films scroll down here, and to view the entire series of films you can visit the Unlock Art site

Part of Le Méridien’s ethos is to support emerging artists. It furthers this commitment through its Unlock Art™ Programme, which offers Le Méridien guests complimentary access to forward thinking cultural institutions around the world. These partnerships allow guests to explore a local, inspiring cultural experience, simply by presenting the Unlock Art™ room key. Le Méridien’s Unlock Art™ partner in the UK is TATE Modern and TATE Britain

Tate is a family of four galleries: Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives.  Tate is responsible for the National Collection of British art from 1500 and international modern and contemporary art from 1900. Tate's Collection of over 66,000 works of art embraces all media from painting, drawing, sculpture and prints, to photography, video and film, installation and performance.  The Collection is displayed at Tate's four galleries and through loans to temporary national and international exhibitions and long loans. 

September 07, 2014

Fred Butler Mentors Young Designers at Somewhereto_ Festival

If I had to nominate an inspirational creative to motivate aspiring British fashion designers, Fred Butler would be at the top of my list. Somewhereto_  saw the magic, too, and chose the colour-loving designer and consultant, who has had pieces commissioned by Lady Gaga, Nike, Swatch and Selfridges, to act as mentor  for the Summer of somewhereto_ Festival. Fred donated her time to do workshops and provide one-to-one mentoring to young designers Kay Davis and Shireeka Devlin. Watch the film above to see the exciting things they got up to this summer. (Email subscribers please click the title to view the film on the blog.)

The UK-wide project is delivered by Livity and funded by a £7m grant from the Big Lottery Fund to support its expansion to 2016. somewhereto_ is a free nationwide location finding service which helps 16-25 year olds access free spaces in their communities. 

Whether young people are interested in music, fashion, art, tech, starting an enterprise or participating in urban sport, somewhereto_ offers an incredible opportunity for young people to realise their potential, kick start ideas, sell their products or services, showcase creative concepts and boost their skills.

You can learn more about the initiative at the somewhereto_ website and explore Fred Butler's wonderful world here

September 06, 2014

'Net-a-Sporter' Introduces 7-Day Body Reboot

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NET-A-PORTER has gone sporty with their 7-Day Body Reboot, a daily fitness and healthy diet program presented as a video series. I think this is brilliant for two reasons. First, it's a smart way to promote their Women's Training Collection of workout wear and motivating us to actually use it once it arrives. Second, it packages innovative and challenging fitness routines into short demonstrations, lead by Nike Master Trainer Josyln Thompson, so you can learn the proper form then do your reps in your own time, followed by a healthy recipe that you will actually want to eat, created by respected nutritionist Rosemary Ferguson. 

Right now they're on Day 6, but you can start at the beginning of the program by clicking on Day 1 which focusses on Strength Building. Each day has its own agenda which is great for keeping things varied and interesting, and the series also offers a 7-Day Meal Plan to complement each day's unique workout.  A bonus was that it delivered what I look for in a new regimen; I want to learn something new and until now I was not familiar with the 'Turkish Get Up' (it's not easy and that's a good thing). I try to do something every day and have a trainer come by once a week, but it's a challenge to stay motivated so this is a perfect little package. We can get a lot of mileage out of this one program, but I hope they introduce new ones every so often; we're always looking for new inspiration to keep us on track, aren't we? 

September 05, 2014

Anthony Head: Ahead of the Game

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As a huge Buffy fan, I bring you an interview with 'Giles', Anthony Head, who hasn't been short of meaty roles since the show ended eleven years ago. 

With his designer stubble, razor-sharp style and pearly-white grin, Anthony Head’s outward appearance belies his 60 years, but as far as new projects go, this is an actor who feels as youthful as ever.

First impressions of Anthony Head are that of the quintessential English gent, not far removed from Head’s fictional – and much lauded - role as tea quaffing librarian Giles, in cult TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Behind the scenes, Head’s Englishness spills over into his undying passion for bucolic Somerset, a place he calls “one of the most beautiful counties in England.”

“When I used to come back from LA, we’d be driving somewhere along the A46 and there’d be a point when I’d just wind down my window and breathe in the Somerset air,” he gushes. “It just loves all weathers and there’s something about the Mendips – the rolling Mendips – that is so stunning. There’s a real peace.”

Head and his partner Sarah bought a farm near Bath six years ago with some money left to them by “a dear friend of Sarah’s.” They now have twelve horses, a few donkeys and Sarah teaches, rides and sees clients at the farm.

Anthony mucks in too though. In fact, on returning home from San Diego’s Comic-Con just last month - which he quips was “insane” - the first thing he did was to tend to the donkeys’ needs.

“On the way back from the airport, the driver said very sweetly ‘Well, Mr. Head, are you going to spend a couple of days putting your feet up and getting over the jetlag?’ I went and did quite the opposite! That afternoon I was down the stables mucking out the donkeys, because actors do need to be grounded. We need to shift the odd pile of poo just to remember who we are.”

Born in Camden Town in 1954, Anthony Stewart Head was educated at Sunbury Grammar School and London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), before earning his first acting role in the musical Godspell. He carved out his early notoriety from appearing in a series of twelve Nescafe commercials, before treading the boards in various stage shows and finally landing his famed role as Giles in Buffy back in 1997.

An industrious actor who clearly lacks the propensity to sit still, Head’s career is glittered with myriad small screen and big screen gigs, from playing Geoffrey Howe in 2011’s Margaret Thatcher biopic Iron Lady, to Will’s dad in The Inbetweeners, King Uther Pendragon in Merlin and the PM in Little Britain.

As a multi-faceted actor, he is forever turning his hand to new roles but for this latest one took on CGI, providing the voice for avaricious, egomaniacal footballer Flash in Juan Jose Campanella’s family foosball parable The Unbeatables. These days, his roles seem to be taking a darker turn…

 “I seem to be playing a few baddies at the moment!” he laughs. “What I normally try and do to enrich the role is think about why he’s bad, what makes him bad, what drives him. Because no one really gets out of bed and thinks ‘I’m going to be bad today’, it’s something that people become and there’s a reason they become that way; nothing is that two-dimensional or that black and white.

“You sort of look at people in middle age and think ‘what on earth got you to this point? How did you become, so angry, or so embittered?’ Quite often it’s something very small, right at an early age, that just pushed them. It may have started off as a little acorn but it’s grown into this massive oak tree. So that’s me playing bad people. And I enjoy it, because I like the challenge of making them interesting.”

So would he ever give it all up for a life toiling the land?

“The thing about acting is that I’m extremely fortunate to do what I do but I do it because I’m passionate about it,” says Head, with a glint in his eye. “I just think that if it was missing from my life, I might get a little boring…”

The Unbeatables is in cinemas now.

August 30, 2014

WeSC and Altewai Saome Launch High End Streetwear

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Following the wrap-up of Stockholm Fashion Week is the launch of a new collaboration between two Swedish fashion greats, skate/street brand WeSC and design duo Altewai Saome. The 12-piece womenswear capsule collection of Neoprene, wool blend, jersey and fleece, would be welcome in my wardrobe; it's cool and comfy. You can move in it. Friends who never dress that way will ask to borrow your jacket. During my first visit to Stockholm I noticed that the people in the street just looked good. Their clothes didn't scream out for attention but they always looked well put together and without any fuss, as if they couldn't look any other way. Obviously they care, but it seems knowing how to dress is just in their DNA or something. As is design. Like that peachy skin they all somehow have. I'd like to wear the skate ramp logo dress around Östermalm and see if I blend. 

The collection is now available at wesc.com

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August 29, 2014

Five Festive Tips for an Alternative Christmas Celebration

Scandi-christmas-dining-roomFor a different kind of Christmas, try following the Scandinavian traditions - it's stylish yet warm and cozy. 

Come again? I know, it’s still summer, and you’re still wearing shorts. On the better days. Or at least around the house. But Christmas is coming and some of us might even be looking forward to it, just a little bit. If you're not, it might be because getting organised tends to happen at the last minute and it winds up causing more agony than joy, especially if you're hosting.  

You don't have to follow the traditions, though, and you can have a lot of fun with a celebration that is a bit different. The trick is to have some good ideas put into place early on, so that you don't get overwhelmed in the days leading up; and then you can enjoy the season as it comes. 

Here are some ideas to spark your imagination:

1. Light

Our distant ancestors set fire to things at the darkest time of the year, in order to persuade the sun to return, and that's how midwinter festivals got started. Lighting decorations are an essential part of Christmas, but you don't have to have an illuminated Santa on the roof or go full Griswald. LED lights are a good choice, combining low energy consumption with a wonderfully twinkly effect. A door wreath made entirely of LED lights looks stunning, or you could use a string of lights to outline something unusual and eco-friendly, such as a bicycle.

2. Colour

Traditional Christmas colours are red and green, but there are plenty of other options. How about a purple theme, for example? It's a really festive colour. You could make a fabulous garland or wreath incorporating purple glass baubles (there are some lovelies at Christmas Lights Etc.). If you need a real talking point, the same company produces an upside-down Christmas tree!

3. Greenery

Another ancient midwinter tradition involves bringing evergreens into the house. For something slightly different, a Christmas cactus is a good way of adding colour (and humour - imagine the reactions of guests). These are easily-grown plants, native to Brazil, which naturally flower in December. Schlumbergera 'Purple Dancer' is a spectacular choice, which should keep flowering every winter if properly looked after. For the ecologically-conscious, this plant has the added property of absorbing poisonous formaldehyde from the atmosphere! As a focal decorative point, a real Christmas tree is wonderful, but an artificial one is admittedly much less trouble, and some of them also come pre-decorated if you'd rather just get it over with. You'll be forgiven. 

4. Food

Nothing divides families like the choice of Christmas food. On one side you have the traditionalists for whom nothing except turkey and pudding will do. On the other side are those who argue that turkey is dry and tasteless, and Christmas pudding is stodgy. If you want to do the turkey regardless, a way to please both might be to offer a unique stuffing, made with apricots or pineapple and nuts, to go with your choice of meat. A rich and festive ice-cream, whether home-made or bought in, might be more appealing to the Christmas pudding-haters. The greedy will eat both, of course – t’is the season, after all!

5. Activity

There are families for whom the television set is the focal point of Christmas Day, and others who cover it with a blanket. It's a good idea to get outside at some point, and even a short walk will help with the digestion of all that food. Quizzes and games are traditional but can be fun, at least if board games such as Monopoly don't get everyone fighting. For a truly memorable break from routine, though, you could consider offering your services as a volunteer.

Many charities and caring organisations need extra help over the Christmas season, and volunteering can be fun and rewarding as well as useful. A good place to start would be timebank.org.uk who are in touch with many organisations needing Christmas volunteers. They do point out, though, that charities need to plan ahead, so it's best if you offer your services in good time.

With months of planning left until the big day, there’s more than enough time for you to get cracking and make your festive season truly unique. Rather than repeating the same cycle year on year, these ideas will hopefully provide you with enough inspiration to make this Christmas truly one to remember - for the right reasons!

August 27, 2014

Design and Craft: Made London Returns to One Marylebone

 

The Design and Craft Fair, MADE LONDON, returns to One Marylebone 24-26 October to present the very best in contemporary craft and design. Showcasing over 120 highly original makers and designers from the UK and Europe, the show offers visitors the opportunity to view and buy unique hand crafted pieces in a friendly, informal and beautiful atmosphere. Long established and well known makers mix with emerging makers to offer a selection of works that are truly varied and exciting.

At the fair you'll find a vast range of expertly crafted items including colourful glassware, soft knitted textiles, functional ceramics, beautiful jewellery, classic furniture as well as great fashion. A full list of exhibitors can be seen here.

One Marylebone is a stunning church conversion in central London near Regents Park. MADE LONDON will occupy all three floors, including the double height crypt and mezzanine.  Be sure to stop by the cafe in the crypt to relax with a drink and a treat!

For more information you can visit www.madelondon.org

August 26, 2014

How to Add International Design Influences to Your Space

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One of the greatest aspects of travelling is discovering other styles of interiors that reflect a life and culture different from our own, then trying to recreate them at home. Local designs tend to be influenced by the colours and materials present in the surrounding environment. Take India; the bright desert sun and the red earth are reflected in their colourful saris, the great rainforests of Indonesia provide the woods for their furniture, and the lushly decorated temples inspire the use of gold and luxurious silk.

Scandinavia is another region that represents one of the most distinct interiors aesthetics, rooted in simple, practical design that is emulated well beyond its borders. Light is a factor thanks to the long, dark winters, and vast, sustainable forests makes wood the natural choice of material for just about everything, often painted white for ceilings and floors to brighten interior spaces. Decorative items are placed to add colour and form, but used sparingly to keep the space clean and calm. Reindeer skins finish the room with texture and warmth.

A Scandinavian feel can be added to more traditional or eclectic interiors through wall murals in pale greys or blues to create a subtle nod to nature.

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In direct contrast to the Scandinavian coolness is the Arabic interior style. Strong patterns and vivid colours are mixed freely. Although dark wood furniture is popular, the blazing heat makes tiles a popular material for both floors and decoration. Moroccan tiles are the King of Tiles, and although the genuine  article is expensive, they are as gorgeous as they are timeless. Ornate mirrors and colourful Turkish lanterns abound. Persian rugs complete the picture. To create an Arabian room with a contemporary feel, you can paint the walls white and let the colours of the furnishings do the rest.

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In Chinese interior design, more is more. Furniture with wood carvings, gold accessories, red silk lanterns, and ornate table cloths all find their way into the Chinese room. 

The principles of fengshui govern what goes where in the room and water features with gold fish and wooden bird cages with a colourful resident are there to bring good fortune. Jade ornaments introduces a rich green colour into the gold, dark wood and red. Yellow was once a colour reserved for royalty only, but it has been making its way into ordinary homes. Laquerware is popular both for furniture as well as boxes and trinkets.

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Reproducing any of these styles for your own home is easier than you think. Use your creativity and start with a clear idea of how you would want it to look. Then take your time and make sure to search for items that will make your room look authentic. With just a few stand-out pieces, your new, world-design room will emerge. 

August 19, 2014

My Home Extension 'Before': Finishing and Rookie Mistakes

The-swelle-life_13There's a newly built room waiting for me back in England that isn't quite finished but now has honeycomb blinds that lock down, a floor, modular sofa, and dining table. And a huge TV mounted on the wall - a bit of an eyesore but I'm not going to pretend I don't watch TV! It's a great space of mostly windows, a raised glass ceiling, and there's even some garden to spare after a fairly substantial extension of the house off the kitchen. It was a scramble to get it painted and the flooring installed before heading back to Canada for the summer; I think I narrowly avoided an aneuryism. 

As for the paint, I wanted a clean, pale grey - to me that means a cool undertone that is as neutral as possible - that delivers depth and works in every kind of natural and artificial light. I didn't want 'colour' per se, opting for light and airy but didn't want to go with white which seems to be the default colour for so many orangeries and conservatories. Luckily I found my shade, but I got a surprise when painting. (It was a DIY job because a decorator would have had to have been booked about six months prior and the extension wasn't even conceived of then. I don't recommend it. Painting an entire room, especially one with so many windows and boxed electrics, is hard. I didn't need my lower back anyway.)

Back to the surprise. It became apparent once the primer was on and the first coat of that lovely grey was being applied, that the plasterer did a terrible job. Shameless, actually. I could live with a few imperfections but we're talking floor to ceiling moon craters. I guess I just hadn't looked closely at it, taking in the entire room and not scrutinising the walls. The construction is very sound - I watched it being built and it was pretty cool to see how it's done - but all it takes is one sloppy guy to ruin it all. (And I made him so much coffee! The cheek!) Luckily that part is fixable, though extremely frustrating to have to do so after the (very expensive) paint is on. (I'm downplaying this part a bit, the truth is I freaked.)

In contrast, the floor was a success story. Thank goodness. As you know from previous posts, I laboured over what type and style of flooring to go with, and at the time underfloor heating was to be installed first. It turns out that UFH can be a lot harder to source than you'd think (actually I hadn't a clue what's involved with that), especially on a time crunch, and after two false leads it was just easier to find another heating solution. (And save a ton of money in the process.) I chose laminate flooring in a 'white' wood grain from Homebase to keep with the light and airy feel, and was able to find a very good installer at the last minute - how rare is that? 

First, I went to the store to see the flooring I picked out online to be sure I liked it and also to compare it to others. It remained my number one choice and I bought a sample to take home. It looks funny, but I put it under the legs of our dining table hoping to get a sense of how it would work. Hey, you have to try! 

The-swelle-life-14 (1 of 1)(Little Coco thinks this room is hers.) The table is my first Magis piece, and the chair was just a spare I put there for some reason. I still haven't decided on the chairs but they definitely won't have metal legs. I also tried my Eames DRW with dark maple legs which adds a bit of warmth to what is going to be a cool, minimalist room, so I might buy three more of them to liven things up a bit. 

As the flooring was being installed I was hopeful, but nervous. I liked the floor, but would it work with the room? Would it feel right? Would I want to live with it for years? I told the installer it looked good so far and he began to tell me about a recent customer, then said, 'Maybe I shouldn't tell you.' I told him to go on. He continued, telling me she chose a similar looking floor and was also redoing her entire downstairs, and when it was done she said, "I hate it. It's a lovely floor and you did a good job, but I hate it." I groaned good naturedly but was secretly imploding at the thought of feeling that way with even this one room, never mind the kitchen and hallway as was the plan. But when it was finished I was really happy with it. It delivered the look and feel I wanted, complementing the walls and the platinum shade of the blinds. Hopefully the disappointed woman felt differently after a few days; I think changing a large space so drastically can be very disconcerting and a strong emotional reaction is normal; we're profoundly connected to our homes and I think we don't realise how much a change can throw us off until we're faced with it. 

I'll be coming back with a 'reveal' post after I return to England. It will take a little while to complete the room but you'll be able to see how it all works together with the modular sofa. 

In the meantime, benefit from my rookie mistakes and avoid them when building and finishing a room in your home:

  1. Check that the concrete foundation has set evenly. Walk on it. Look for slopes. If it doesn't feel consistent throughout the room request it be fixed. A floor consists of very thin underlay and the flooring itself is generally not especially thick so it will not compensate for obvious imbalances in the foundation. Your installer can't do anything about it so take care of it before the floor goes down, or be prepared to live with it. 
  2. Inspect the surface of the walls when the plasterer tells you he's finished. This will be the last thing that's done. Depending on the light, some flaws are discernable to the eye, while others only to the touch, so run your hand over the surfaces. I can attest to the fact that priming and painting does not smooth out even the slightest of imperfections; in fact it seems to amplify them. This room has spotlights in the boxing which essentially showcases every flaw that falls below them!
  3. Are the edges of the boxing sharp and even? Sometimes where two sections of boxing meets there's an overlap. I'm not clear on how easy or not this is to fix once it's done, and it's not really obvious unless you're looking for it. But if you're a perfectionist it will probably bother you after the fact so keep an eye out before painting. 
  4. Check that any crown moulding is secure and doesn't show any cracks. 
  5. If you're looking to wall mount a TV, have about three metres of HDMI cable ready BEFORE the drywall goes up. This way your cables are hidden. (Luckily this wasn't a mistake and may seem like a no-brainer, but easily forgotten amongst the chaos.) 

Be firm about anything you want fixed; there's no reason things shouldn't be perfect!

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