Why Not?

Making your home individual is really important to us all, it is a tremendous opportunity for self expression. Even if, in your heart you feel you are actually pretty ordinary, or just quite like following the crowd, rather than being wildly ‘out there’ it is still comforting to think that your home is inevitably different to your neighbours, whether you live in a high rise apartment, a cul de sac of similar houses or in a forest, where your nearest neighbour is two and a half miles away!

Dulux wrote to me recently about their new colour collection called ‘Margin of Proof’ deliberately edgy, with styling suggestions, such as, ‘stencilling your favourite number on the wall’… Does everyone have a ‘favourite number’? And if they do, would it actually occur to them to stencil it onto the wall? I have to admit, I do have a favourite number, I wonder whether everyone does?

But I am afraid, I have NOT ever stencilled it onto a wall of my house…. Maybe I should though…

stencilled number

Why not? Individuality stems from a slightly ‘devil may care’ attitude. We all know not to be too ‘matchy matchy’…random is good! Dwell is similarly good for off beat, different, but contemporary inspiration…

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Rhinohead £199

Your neighbours are unlikely to have one of these…

Good Vibrations

Well, we have had the referendum in Scotland and it just seems to have left a lot of people sad and baffled. I have friends that are astonished that more people in Scotland would rather be governed by a parliament in London than one in Edinburgh; I also know that a lot of people are amazed that anyone in Scotland wants to go to the effort and expense of setting up their own country and cannot understand why.

This blog is about interiors, not politics, but I know that feelings have been running high in a lot of homes, so that is why I am mentioning it.

I was sent some beautiful samples from a company called Findhorn Flower Essences – Scottish Flower Essences made with love and in co-creation with nature. Very timely!

room spray

The room spray I was sent, ‘Sacred Space’, is not a Room Fragrance that you might buy in a High street store, rather it is a ‘revitalising and energising space clearing spray to refresh and energise your personal space, to promote happiness and harmony around your home’.

They suggest using in the work place, where negative energy omitted from computers, office equipment and stressed colleagues can seriously affect decision-making and our own stress levels.

My work is not stressful, but I have been using it in my TV room: a small, quite stuffy room in our house where tensions are rife: if our daughter wants to watch Made In Chelsea, while Doug wants to watch Newsnight chairs can fly! The only thing we seem to actually like watching together are violent Scandinavian thrillers or Breaking Bad…

Sacred Space helps transmute negative energies, restore calm and tranquillity, and creates a more positive atmosphere in which to work, meditate, or simply ‘be’. So I have been spraying it every morning in our TV room and I have to say, we are all calming down…

The essences of pure essential oils of Rose alba and Frankincense release a fine, delicate fragrance to further enhance the harmonious energy.

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Our TV room this morning, before using Sacred Space…

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Our TV room this morning, after using Sacred Space! Amazing!

Shutter Speed

A really quick and instant update that works in so many styles of homes is to pull down dated curtains, that you always knew were not right, and replace with some really on-trend shutters.

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When my friend Kirsten put her shutters up in her Victorian terrace, complete strangers would knock at the door and ask her where she got them from! So stunning…

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They give any style of home a wee hint of New England…who doesn’t want to live in the Hamptons?!!

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All the images I am using to illustrate this post are all shot in Scotland, but the shutters give the rooms an up-to date, international twist

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Most of the shutters we come across are white. Pale and interesting is always beautiful, but click on the link above and you will see that they can actually be made in any colour… Would love to see the results if anyone chooses to order some!

I would go for a soft lilac if I could…

Jo Tutton International Interiors & Styling

Lifting a dark and dated property is a useful skill to have. So often we get used to home being a bit tired, …live with it until we come to sell and only then do we do a quick freshen up. My advice is be ruthless and do it now!! Jo Tutton’s Edinburgh home will inspire you to do exactly that: for Jo, it was all about taking a dark and uninviting basement flat and making it as light bright and airy as possible – giving it a much grander feel.

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Every detail has been carefully thought out

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The galley kitchen has a sliding glass wall overlooking a stunning city hideaway garden.

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Pretty bedrooms are enlivened with pops of colour

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And a very ingeniously arranged dressing room…Billy bookcases with glass doors are perfect for displaying gorgeous bags and shoes

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A decadent creamy bathroom

Find out more about Jo Tutton International Interiors and Styling. Her approach is that a home should be about who you are, your life, loves and travel – nothing matchy matchy – whether that being a period property or a more contemporary style. She likes to add touches of glamour that’s a testament I guess to a former life in one of the most glamorous cities in Latin America, Monterrey, Mexico. But ultimately each project is different!

The Geffrye Museum

Delighted to have a guest post this week from one of my oldest friends and my long time work mentor, journalist Sue Gray. She recently visited the Geffrye Museum of the Home and was telling me about it and I thought ‘Why have I never been to this place? Why have I never even heard of it?’

Sue has very kindly put that right for all of us, please enjoy her post below, about this wonderful institution.

Your Living Room – Past and Future

Forty nine years a Londoner and I’ve only just got round to visiting the Geffrye Museum of the Home. A short bus hop east from Liverpool Street Station, and housed in a horseshoe of early eighteenth century almshouses, the Geffrye is a delight.

1965 Living

1965 Living

Room sets take your from the typical living room of the 1600s to the millennium, and what a revelation. Remember sisal matting, not so long ago the in thing for stairs and hallways? Well fragments were found in Hampton Court, so not as contemporary as we thought.

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And ‘Live / Work spaces’ sound terribly modern, but they were actually the norm for the “middling sort” until well into the nineteenth century, when professional men first started going out of the house to work. Before then families literally lived over the shop, or the counting house, or the grain store on the ground floor, with a small living room shoehorned in upstairs. But once hubby had been exiled to the office for the best part of the day, the living room or drawing room or parlour moved to pole position on the ground floor, and was annexed by the ladies for drinking tea, socialising and playing cards.

Tea’s wide availability from the 1700s onwards also had a profound effect on how we entertained at home, and 44 piece porcelain tea sets, with intricate wooden handles and silver spouts, were coveted by every hostess.

The other thing which really stuck me, was how taste in interiors filters down the classes.

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A bourgeois living room of the 1890s, with brass pendant gas lighting coming from the ceiling, and pianos, armchairs and ornaments stuffed into every available space, exactly resembled photos of my parents’ cluttered childhood homes, in 1940s working class Dublin. Old interiors styles never die, they’re simply adapted by a new set of people.

Once the room sets reach the 20th century, the chances are you’ve been in a real life version of every single one.

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I loved the clean lines of the 1930s with its Bauhaus emphasis on light and simplicity.

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But reaching the ’90s, the era my friends and I were setting up home for the first time, gave me a right shock. Designs I yearned for, and envied my friends for having, I’m thinking particularly of Ron Arad’s bookworm shelf for Kartell, now seem a little try -hard.

For a steer on truffling out tomorrow’s design classic visit the Geffrye’s Useful + Beautiful Contemporary Design for he Home, (exhibition closes on 25 August, so there’s a fortnight to get there rather than 49 years.)

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The most talked about piece is Rising Chair by Robert van Embricqs, consisting of angled wooden slats that shake out to a curved wooden chair. The video of the design going from 2D to 3D is mesmerising, as are the number of visitors’ comments noting Rising Chair’s discomfort. Sitting in it (briefly) is positively encouraged. Samuel Chan’s tripod table is another beautiful example of a piece looking as attractive folded flat, as it is opened out. Lights made from hand blown glass and Tracy Tubb’s origami wallpaper:

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also made me long to liberate them, and re-exhibit them to best effect in my own home.

Afterward, Kingsland Road’s Vietnamese restaurants will fill you up cheaply, and demonstrate just what is possible with red vinyl seats and golden lucky cats.