Last week was half term here in Manchester and so at my daughters suggestion, as she’s quite obsessed with a few Brighton vloggers, we headed south for a few days to see what all the fuss about this metropolis by the sea was?

First things first, I’ve got to mention our accommodation, which was absolutely fantastic. Right opposite the sea, a little way out of Brighton centre, opposite the Marina, but that was no bad thing, for the trade off of those sea views and the sound of seagulls every morning. We booked the apartment, which was housed in a beautiful Regency terrace, through AirBnB. We were AirBnB virgins and I was a little apprehensive as I’d heard varying stories of peoples experiences, not all good. After our 100% successful experience I’m now fully converted but think it’s still important to ask lots of questions of your host before you book, check out the area and the distance from the place you want to be and look at the reviews. Our host Alex, answered all my questions immediately, provided his phone number so that I could contact him on arrival or during our stay and was really helpful throughout.

The apartment had beautiful styling throughout, all salvaged items and layers of linens and sheepskins strewn everywhere, very clean and extremely cosy. It also had the added bonus of a private garden square, which was available to residents of the terrace only and had a secret tunnel leading to the sea front, thought to be the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland.

 

 

 

Before our trip, I asked a few Instagram friends who live in Brighton for their recommendations of places to go, shop and eat and both Ellie & Co, who also writes a fabulous blog about Brighton which you can read here, & KateHillStylist were brilliant, giving me so much information between them, that was all fantastic. As I’m coeliac Kate sent me a link to a blog post by Becky Excell which listed 33 places to eat from cakes to pizza, Japanese, Mexican, Sunday Roasts, you name it, it was on the list and I would recommend anybody visiting Brighton to print off this list as well, as it was invaluable to me. In fact Brighton is the best place I’ve ever visited for it’s wide range of gluten free and vegan options. Most of the pubs and bars had gluten free craft beers and The Walrus pub on Ship Street in the town centre, even had Gluten free beer on draft, so I had my first pint in years.

First on my list of eateries to try was The Farm Tavern in Hove where we pre booked Sunday lunch before our arrival , which was lucky as this small but perfectly formed pub, was packed to the rafters, not surprisingly after sampling the food? It was probably one of the best Sunday roasts I’ve had for a long time, all gluten free, gravy, yorkshire puddings, the lot and then every pudding on the menu was also GF, sticky toffee pudding, salted caramel chocolate pudding and spiced rhubarb crumble. The staff and the atmosphere couldn’t have been friendlier. As the sun set, the lovely pink haired land lady (how very Brighton!) came round chatting to every guest and lighting candles on the tables, making sure everything was to our satisfaction, the perfect host.

Our other firm favourite establishment, which quickly became our local favourite for breakfast, was Marmalade in Kemptown. This cafe was just around the back of our apartment and we all immediately loved it on entering. It was once an old shop, that has been gently stripped back to reveal the old plaster walls, which have been left unadorned except for magazine tears of recipes which are plastered on one corner as you entered. Original Victorian tiles are laid on the floor and mismatched wooden tables and chairs, complete the salvaged style of the decor. The food is all home made and is delicious, from freshly baked bread and bagels to home made pies and sausage rolls, cakes and pastries and the best coffee. I’ve since realised that Marmalade is a bit of a Brighton institution and we were just very lucky to have had this cafe in our neighbourhood.

A quick mention as well about some of the pubs, which are everywhere. Brighton seems to have a pub culture much more than a bar culture, which I really liked, it reminded me very much of London. Our locals in Kemptown were The Thomas Kemp, beware no under 18’s are allowed in after 9.00pm unless you are dining and The Barley Mow, which serves pie and mash, gluten free choices available again obviously, this is Brighton, & they will also order you pizzas from the take away across the road Pizza Face, again GF options available and they are delivered straight to your table in brown cardboard boxes whilst you finish your game of connect 4 or scrabble!

 

On our last evening we decided to try La Choza Mexican restaurant. I can’t say that Mexcian is a real favourite of mine, it all tastes quite similar to me and it’s just the texture of the recepticles that you choose to hold your filling in that changes the meal? But it’s some where the kids wanted to eat and so we went. How wrong I was proved at La Choza, again the food was amazing, the atmosphere and the colours of this vibrant restaurant, brought a little bit of Mexico to Brighton. I guess I’ve just never had good Mexican food until now?

If your preferred choice of shopping is vintage, Brighton is the place for you. There are so many vintage clothes shops and antique emporiums that there are too many to mention but some of the ones we visited that I can recommend are listed here.

Snoopers Paradise is in North Laine and is a massive two storey building made up of different traders, selling everything and anything you could imagine. Prepare to spend a couple of hours in here.

 

The Brighton Flea Market on Upper St James Street in Kemptown is a smaller version of snoopers Paradise, again a very worthy place to visit with some great furniture. There are also regular flea markets and vintage markets, mostly over the weekend, which we unfortunately missed but worth checking out by all accounts? There are lots of individual vintage clothes shops in kemptown that we visited, too many to name but the range of goods and the prices were really cheap compared to Manchester and London.

North Laine was probably my favourite area of Brighton for shopping. It reminded me very much of Portabello Road or Camden, lots of hippy style shops, lovely independent interior shops such as the Lavender room and Abode and just a fantastic buzzy atmosphere. There’s also a really cool independent cinema called Dukes at Komedia where you can watch a film whilst sitting in a comfy sofa while you sip prosecco, how very Brighton. That’s definitely one for another visit?

On our last morning we revisited Hove which is really now an extension of Brighton and at the opposite end of the promenade to the Marina. Hove is home to one of the interior shops I’ve dreamed about visiting for longer than I can remember,  iGigi which is a masterclass in Wabasabi style or gently faded distressed furniture and objects, all beautifully visually merchandised. Upstairs is a cafe and along the road is an iGigi clothes shop. The ladies who own the shop Alex and Zoe have their own book published showcasing their style, should you not be able to make the pilgrimage to the shop. A life Less Ordinary is one of my favourite books and is available here.

Another beautiful shop in Hove which Kate recommend I visit was Florian, which at first appears to be just a florist but inside amongst the plants & flowers are strewn vintage nic nacs and pieces of beautiful furniture. Across the road from Florian is Salvage cafe, another visual delight of antique and industrial salvaged style to browse whilst you sip your beverage of choice.

Brighton now has a special place in all of our hearts and we all agreed we will definitely return. Our family is made up of myself & Mr B, our 22 year old son George and daughter Amber, who is 15 and we were all equally smitten with Brighton. There literally is something here for everyone. I think it’s one of the most diverse, interesting and exciting places I’ve visited for a long time, the people are eccentric, open minded and above all very friendly and the colourfulness of the town perfectly mirrors the personality of it’s residents. I think I’m a bit in love with Brighton!

From Hove we drove to Charleston, the home of the Bloomsbury group, which is a place I’ve wanted to visit for many many years and is only about 15 miles from Brighton. It was so amazing, that it deserves a dedicated blog post of its own which I will save for another time.

 

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?