This week marks International Wallpaper week, first launched last year, by UK wallpaper manufacturers Graham and Brown to raise awareness and remind us about the versatility of wallpapers as decoration within our homes.  Surface design is a subject I’m fascinated with, so much so I chose to research wallpapers and surface design for my final thesis, whilst studying Interior design at University. After spending some time at one of the UK’s biggest wallpaper printing companies,watching the process, from design to print unfold and a trip into the archives of Manchester Whitworth Art Gallery, which specialises in wallpaper & textile conservation, I was pretty addicted to wallpaper. It can change a space even more than colour and provide a striking statement or a more subtle backdrop to a room, than paint alone can.

So in honour of International Wallpaper week these are some of the designs that have recently caught me eye and might even find their way into my home?

I love the over scaled floral design of Helleborus from the new Farrow & Ball collection, which looks completely different depending on which colour way you choose.

This neutral coloured version is a beautifully subtle despite its flamboyant pattern?

My niece first alerted me to this stunning dutch master inspired design by Ellie Cashman. It is truly a work of art.

The trend for Japanese inspired interiors is beautifully translated with this Kaiyo wallpaper panel by John Lewis, inspired by the V&A collection of Japanese art and design.

This wallpaper design for Soho House by British portrait artist Jonathan Yeo, is not as innocently traditional as it first appears. Using a collage of pornographic images, subtley hidden within the pattern, it is an amazing example of what can be created when artists design surface print. It has been used within Dean Street Townhouse & Soho House Berlin hotels but can also be purchased from the new Soho House homewares collection.

The wallpaper insitu, at one of the Soho House hotels, I wonder how many of the residents noticed the daring detail?

An exciting new brand to emerge recently and exhibit at London Design Week is Woodchip and Magnolia. After a long and successful career at Graham and Brown, Nina Marika Tarnowski, has created her own brand, using digital printing techniques to create large scale dramatic prints.

If you like the idea of pattern but are unsure about using wallpaper on your walls, then consider a piece of furniture decorated with pattern?

Relovedmcr sources retro and vintage furniture specifically for their elegant lines and interesting shapes, as well as their practicality and skilfully turns them into lustworthy pieces. The company founded by Sarah Parmenter, uses incredible patterned wallpapers sourced from the UK and Europe to make each piece of furniture individual and bespoke.

Working with Farrow and Ball recently, Sarah created a piece of furniture for their city centre Manchester store, to showcase their new wallpaper and paint collection.

If you live in the North West you can also view some Relovedmcr creations in Sofas and Stuff Manchester show room and for other designs or to discuss commissions, visit Sarah’s Etsy page here.

 

The exciting news that Hay the Danish design company were to collaborate with furniture & home wares giants Ikea has become a reality this month as the long awaited designs, a total of 72, called Ypperlig range, have hit the stores.

Here are some of the designs which are available now online and in store going a long way to prove that great design doesn’t have to cost a small fortune.

Form an orderly queue!

I seem to be going through a blue period not unlike one of my favourite artists Pablo Picasso. Although widely believed to be going through a period of depression when he painted everything with a blue tinge, I find blue makes me feel quite the opposite. From cobalt to periwinkle, delft and indigo, every shade of blue appeals to me in a positive uplifting way.

Beautiful Luke Bishop Pottery

It became apparent to me that I was going through a blue phase, when I came to do my summer holiday packing and instead of my usual trusty limited, mix and match palette of black, white & grey, practically everything going into my suitcase was blue and white.From stripes to checks and indigo linens, every hue of the spectrum was before me. It started last summer to be precise, when I bought a navy and white abstract dress from Cos, followed by a cornflower blue and white candy striped top picked up in Zara and on and on it went.

I’ve also started to bring shades of blue into our back lounge which was predominantly monochrome and the additional accent colour of indigo and cobalt cushions, has brought the room to life with it’s bold hue. A couple of weeks ago whilst on a photo shoot for Denby Pottery, I fell completely in love with their Studio craft collection in beautiful shades of speckled blues reminding me of our many coastal holidays in Cornwall where this type of rustic pottery is still made in artists studios. I’m teasing you a little with this shot as the collection isn’t actually available in blue until 2018, but it’s a sneak peak worth showing?

And then last week I was invited to the launch of the Farrow & Ball new wallpaper collection and no surprises, I loved every one of the designs in the blue combinations. Here are some of my favourites, new & old that may at some point find their way into Barlow Towers?

Aranami Wallpaper Farrow & Ball

Atacama Wallpaper Farrow & Ball

Amime Wallpaper Farrow & ball (this actually looks a little similar to our lounge?)

I’ve put together some of my favourite finds in luschious tones of blue, using one of my go to online retailers Trouva, which I can always rely on when I’m putting together mood boards for clients, to find exactly what I’m looking for. Trouva support independent retailers and their system is a great way of filtering your search to find what your looking for quickly and easily.

 

  1. Indigo & Wills linen fringe cushion
  2. Eight mood blue ombre cushion
  3. Athezza Acapulco cushion
  4. Melin Tregwynt St Davids Cross blanket
  5. Ferm Living blue edged notice board
  6. Pedlars print ( perfect for our butter loving family)
  7. Hare & Hide drawing room blue rug
  8. Azure Vase.

This is not a sponsored post, all words & opinions are my own. The Denby Studio Craft photo is my own and all others are from Pinterest or credited to the company mentioned in this post.

 

 

Every Saturday in Leek market square you can find an assortment of antique traders and dealers selling bric a brac and french brocante, salvage, old vinyl records and books. Its a great little market, small in size but big in the substance of its wares.

Last Saturday we woke to a misty start but blue skies followed as we sped along the roads, travelling towards Leek and a day of antique hunting. As well as the market, Leek is known for it’s plethora of antique shops.

 

My favourite antique shop is Odeon Antiques, it’s pricy but they have the best of the best and if you’re looking for a bargain, there’s plenty of other bric a brac and house clearance shops where you can unearth a treasure trove of collectables. Odeon antiques, specialise in industrial salvage style and if this is your style you will be spoilt for choice by the metal filing cabinets, plan chests, factory lights and engineers seating in stock. They have a variety of dealers under one space though, so there is also plenty of french antiques, mid century and garden salvage in the basement. Everything is such good quality and each and every piece is covetable.

Strangely I didn’t actually take any photos whilst I was in there, but I think I’m always so fascinated by the stock that I’m otherwise occupied. The image above is from their website and by no means captures the amazing space and objects inside.

What we noticed on Saturday, was that the town seemed to be improving even more and there was a definite sense of Leek being on the up. There were lots of new cafes and eateries and gift and interior shops and a real buzz about the town.

One of the loveliest shops we called in and bought quite a lot of lovely little pieces from was Era. It’s a beautiful double fronted shop front with the original tiled floor and sells mainly reclaimed pieces of oak and wood furniture, some of which have been up cycled with chalk paint. There’s also a lovely collection of small items, which I like to call props, being a stylist I always see things in this way. Some of the items I bought were decorative Victorian shelf brackets, an old soap stone apothecary pestle and mortar and an old bakers wire tray that would have been used for transporting bread and baked good around which I intend to use as a notice board on the kitchen wall, for slotting business cards and flyers into.

Another amazing shop which is just full of the most gorgeous hardware and lighting and beautiful rugs is Period Features. This shop is packed with everything you could ever want for finishing your home. From period light switches, to door handles and bespoke light shades. I could literally spend hours in there and had to be practically dragged out by Mr B with a promise to return with a check list of things we need to buy. If you like traditional country house style with a mix of modern rustic textures, this is the shop for you!

We ate lunch at The Penguin cafe, a quirky mix of vegan and gluten free food with a selection of Japanese house specialities all home made on the premises. We opted for simple fare of gluten free galette with a tuna and cheese melt filling and Mr B had Staffordshire oat cakes with fried eggs on. I know I know, you can take the boy out of Manchester but you can’t take Manchester out of the boy, its a firm favourite of his? There were many more exotic offerings and a lovely selection of salads that you can also take away in recycled cardboard boxes if you prefer a picnic style lunch?

We also called into eclectic cafe Spout to buy some craft beers to take out and after chatting to the owner found out they are licensed and open until 9.00pm in the evening. It was an amazing place, a three storey Georgian building, complete with original features such as tiled floors, wide Georgian floorboards and glass fan lights over the internal doors. There were lots of little nooks and crannies and different areas to dine or drink and a lovely little courtyard garden for alfresco dining. A definite spot for a bite to eat next time we’re in town.

What I really like about Leek as well as the antique shops and lovely independants is the stunning architecture all around the town. It’s predominantly Georgian in style which is my favourite era of architecture but there’s also buildings that date much further back and the names of the streets are evocative of their trading history. It’s a very aesthetically interesting town with layers of history still evident. I mean this has got to be one of the most decorative doors I’ve ever seen?

& there’s original floor tiles in almost every building

This blog post is by no means all there is to see in Leek it’s just a little round up of what we found on Saturday. It’s a great town with some beautiful architecture and well worth a trip for a day out. If you go or have been, I’d love to know what you thought?

 

This month marks the 20 year anniversary of the date we bought our home and I recently came across some old photos that we took of it shortly after moving in and before the renovations began?

It was a beautiful house that had been practically destroyed and all it’s lovely Victorian features removed during the 1970’s when a developer turned it into two separate flats which were let to tenants. It had no redeeming features when we viewed it but we saw the lofty ceilings and the huge windows and the potential to turn it back into a family home. It was also located on a lovely road that we could only dream of living on, but couldn’t afford, but due to it’s state of neglect it was within our budget and we had decided to buy it before the viewing was even complete.

It’s only now when I look back at the old photos that I can see what our terrified parents could see, who thought we’d lost our marbles and had bitten off more than we could chew, but over the years we gradually turned it back into a home which we have loved and raised our family in and had so much fun in learning new skills and crafts.

Pretty dire wasn’t it and look at that electric fireplace!

As I love a before and after feature, I thought it would be fun to post some of the many incarnations of our lounge over the years. Bare in mind we had little money then as it was all being spent on the basics, plasterers, electricians and plumbers, so everything was a bit make do and mend, loaned sofas from friends and cushions made from charity shop remnants of fabric. You get the picture? I did however, always seemed to persuade Mr B to splurge on expensive wallpaper, a feature wall as they were fashionably called back then.  I’ve actually looked at some of these photos and thought what was I thinking, but it was such fun and we were young and full of enthusiasm, so hey?

 

Neisha Crosland wallpaper makes it’s first but not to be last appearance at Barlow towers. Why did I ever think red was a good accent colour with this scheme? Can I just add this was before I went to Uni to train as an interior designer, so throw me some slack!

The Neisha Crosland wallpaper is replaced by a Miller Harris Design, which they no longer seem to sell, and some smart grey sisal flooring, when grey was just becoming the new neutral, things were looking up? The electric fire was quickly replaced by this salvaged slate open fire surround and clever Mr B learnt some carpentry skills and made these fitted book shelves copied from a picture I’d seen in Elle Deco.

A bit of a rudimentary mood board just to get some ideas together for the latest look. It’s not turned out exactly like this as we’ve changed our minds on some of the items along the way but it’s pretty similar, as you’ll see in the pictures below, which is what is so great about mood boards, you can quickly see if your ideas are going to work?

The wallpaper has been replaced by simpler painted walls in setting plaster by Farrow & Ball and the paint work in off black also Farrow & Ball, which was a big and very scary decision but we love it now. Wonder if we’ll say that when we look back on these photos in years to come?

The rug I originally put on the moodboard was from French Connection but we decided we wanted to invest in a vintage Iranian rug which we found at Insitu Manchester and the vintage leather 1930’s chair was an Ebay find from a local seller. I made the washed linen curtains from fabric bought from Ada & Ina.

The open fire is regularly used and is one of the changes we made that will stay forever.

The loaned Edwardian chesterfield was gifted to us in the end and recovered in a sand coloured linen fabric and the large antique mirror was a bargain find from Pear Mill in Stockport and restored by Mr B, he even remade some of the missing plaster work! He has definitely learned a lot of skills over the 20 years!

Some of our favourite items from local independent retailers Moth, Room 365 and Object style, all based in and around Manchester, sit on our mantle piece.

If you enjoyed seeing these before and afters, let me know as I have a load more old photos of some of our other rooms that I’ll post in the future, if you like?