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?

 

 

I’m often asked what I do as an interiors stylist and the truth is very far removed from the perception that it is a very glamorous job for which I just get paid to shop & create pretty roomsets? If any of you read my last post here, I think any preconceived ideas have probably been dispelled by now?

For any of you thinking of becoming a stylist it is a great and very rewarding job, but glamorous couldn’t be further from the truth.

As there are lots of very interesting before and after blog posts featuring room make overs for residential properties, which I personally love reading, and I’m guessing you do too, I thought it might be interesting to get an insight into what goes into the job of creating a room set for a commercial photography shoot and how the role of an interior stylist contributes?  So kind of a before and after for a shoot?

The example I’ve used for this blog post, was a recent job I completed for a client and is pretty typical of an average job. I will take you through the steps of receiving the client brief to the completed shot. I know when I first decided it might be fun to be a stylist, after studying for my Interior Design degree, I had no idea what I was getting into really. If I had read a blog post like this first, it would have been really useful and so I thought why not share the knowledge I’ve picked up along the way?

So the first point of contact with the client usually involves them or an art director, giving you the brief. The brief may or may not include a set design. If not it is quite often the role of the stylist to design the set, along with lots of communication with the photographer and the set builder to ensure that your ideas are realistic. The photographer will be thinking about how he wants to light the set and will often ask for multiple windows or doors for light sources. The set builder will know how realistic some of your ideas are regarding the time frame or budget allowed. As well as designing the set, the stylist will also often be asked to source flooring and wall coverings, window dressings and paint colours. This will be determined by the look and feel the client has asked for.

In the example I’ve shown below, my brief was to create a coastal inspired bedroom to showcase the product which were white fitted wardrobes. The design board determines the look and feel and will help to confirm that your ideas are the same as those of the client.

I mainly use google sketchup for the set design and Photoshop for the design boards, so that they can be emailed to the client and any amendments easily changed until the idea and props have been approved by the client. There are also other ways of making simple mood boards, on apps such as Canva and morpholio.

A budget for props is confirmed and it’s important that you have a good source of props hire  and reliable independant retailers, who will hire their stock to you for a small percentage of the retail price. I also have a collection of my own props that are useful for bringing to shoots, such as neutral pottery, linen covered books and interesting salvaged pieces which I regularly pick up at boot sales and antique fairs.

As well as sourcing props, the client will usually ask me to collate a design board of pieces I am using, so that they can approve them.  They have to be quite comprehensive so that the client has a good understanding of the key pieces that are being used on the shoot.

There’s a lot to think about and as well as being creative an interiors stylist has to have an excellent background and knowledge of all interior styles and periods so that you can interpret the brief. It’s essential that once the sourced items have been put on the design board, that you can ensure that they will be in stock and available on the day of the shoot. It’s ok making pretty design boards to present but if you then can’t bring the goods to the shoot, you’re going to have a disappointed client?

You’ll also have to be resourceful and knowledgeable and able to make decisive decisions quickly. Sometimes when the client sees a key piece on set, they decide it’s not working as they imagined and you need to know where alternative key items can be bought. This happens, believe me.

Being a creative stylist is also being a team player and communication skills are vital, through your interpretations of the brief from the client to working on set with assistants,photographers, hair and make up professionals, models and the client and their team.

As well as bringing all the props to the shoot, it’s vital that you bring your own tool box as you can’t always be sure that every studio you work at will have the supply you need and of course if you’re on location, it’s imperative you come fully prepared for any eventuality.

So here’s a run down of what I bring in my tool kit. Again it’s not a comprehensive list and some stylists will have different essentials but this is usually what you can guarantee you’ll need in most situations.

  1. Staple gun and spare staples
  2. Fishing wire
  3. blue tac
  4. double sided tape
  5. masking tape
  6. tape measure
  7. small electric cordless drill
  8. pins
  9. spray starch
  10. needle & thread
  11. small hammer
  12. small panel pins and nails
  13. florists wire
  14. string for hanging pictures
  15. scissors
  16. set of allen keys
  17. hole punch
  18. small nail brush (great for smoothing the pile on velvet upholstery)

So from brief to finished shoot, this is the final result of all those hours of preparation.

I’d love to know what you thought about this post. Did you find it interesting and helpful? Are you surprised about what is expected of a stylist or is it just what you thought? I love to hear back from you, so do get in touch x