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Archive for the ‘Book Club’ Category

How They Decorated is a wonderful book filled with beautiful stories and inspiring images. The book tells the tales of ‘Great Women of the Twentieth Century’ and their incredible homes. As you move through the book, from the homes of nobilities to artists, you’re taken on a journey and though the styles and ideas change with time, one thing that is always present is impeccable and daring taste.

In the hallway, with the sitting room to the side, in Lady Diana Cooper’s London home is an unconventionally located bar with the owner’s portrait placed above for all to see. There’s an inviting sense of informality about this bar that juxtaposes the exuberant nature of the house itself; it brings together an idea of elegance with a dose of playfulness as well.

Another way Lady Diana shows off a relaxed approach to her home is with her faithful accessory, the hat, piled on top of one another, bar one that is placed upon a bust of herself in the centre of a chest of drawers. Lady Diana is quoted as saying, “I like bedrooms best… with a big bed and tiny dog”, continuing the sense of light-heartedness in her style.

Considered the “true queen of American style”, Evangeline Bruce’s interiors were timeless and soulful. Her private library has its walls and cupboards covered in fabric, giving the whole room a gloriously over the top effect.

Sybil Connolly was a celebrated fashion designer, and it’s evident that her love of fabrics filtered through to her home as well. The fabric effect papered walls of her Dublin house is something that practically no person, nor home could pull off, but somehow it turned out beautifully, paying homage to her lifework in one simple, but bold move.

There is something extremely enticing about this overly bejewelled mirror from Gabrielle van Zuylen’s home in Paris; it’s glamour at its finest.

Babe Paley, a New York socialite, had some truly fascinating interiors. This living room that is full to the brim with colours, texture and style is said to have been “the sum of what Babe herself personified – polished, sophistication, and legendary style.”

Another brightly coloured home is that of the writer Fleur Cowles. It’s the kind of home where everything stands out in its own right, and yet perfectly fits together in one flawless ensemble.

These footstools at designer Pauline Trigeres’ home in Westchester County in New York are just beautiful creations; the gorgeous mother-of-pearl inlay looks divine against the bold emerald green tops.

This garden room below is a one-of-a-kind vision that takes your breath away. It belongs to Bunny Melon in Virginia, and everything in it from the trelliswork to the arsenic colour, to the array of pots and baskets forms perfectly together to make a beautiful haven.

The home of Georgia O’Keefe respects the history of its location, New Mexico, as well as reflecting the modernist characteristics of herself and her work. The cool clay walls and long incorporated seating area are met with pops of colourful cushions and green plants, which gives the room a relaxed, understated but collected and assured atmosphere.

This book, from start to finish is a journey through homes and history. It perfectly sums up the idea that a home tells its owners story, and through this book you can see that these women lived great lives, in fabulous homes.

 

How They Decorated is available by Rizzoli

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Filled with useful tips and written in a beautiful way, It’s the Little Things is a wonderful book that helps to guide you through making the final finishing touches to your home. Instead of a typical list of rules and instructions the book is filled with an array of beautiful and inspiring images to help induce your own ideas, thoughts and feelings about what you want for your own home.

The book is a wonderful starting ground if you’re at the beginning of decorating a home and are searching for ideas, but it is equally as successful in helping someone who’s owned their home for years, looking for new ways to play with the space. Broken up into five categories; surfaces, walls, mantels, little moments and big moments, It’s the Little Things takes you on a journey of jaw-dropping enviable interiors.

“Tablescapes reveal accumulated treasures and the memories that come with them”, Salk shows by example how to collate together old, sentimental items with other functional possessions like lamps and vases, to create a perfectly designed surface.

The book doesn’t settle on a particular style, making sure you’re bound to find your favourite, or acquire a new one. Useful tips are injected between each images, providing a small pause, not overwhelming you with things to remember but giving you gentle hints at home improvement, for example Salk both tells and shows you that “in every cluster there should be an element of surprise”.

Creating a theme or motif within a room doesn’t mean choosing identical pieces, but finding items that are “like-minded” without “being too in sync” with one another. Pairing together items where some have a nostalgic history and others are just aesthetically pleasing, it’s all about creating a smooth journey as your eye veers over a surface or wall that is filled with different stories.

Salk talks about linking together objects by “compatible colours and textures” to create a unifying collective. The images of the shelving above shows a strong looking array of items, filled with nooks and crannies to investigate, all linked together by a complementary palette of colours.

Salk takes you through intriguing ways of how to curate you rooms in a stylish and artistic manner, showing you how to display treasured items in inventive ways, “when it comes to displaying what you love, beauty may fade with time but never diminish”.

She shows you how to make a feature out of a collection of items you may be at a loss as to what to do with, for example these toleware trays that may have once collected dust, packed away somewhere, are now a prominent features of a room.

With each image comes a magnitude of detail, at first glance you are wowed by this bright yellow mantel shelf, but on closer inspection what steals your smile is the framed flower in a vase, placed on top of the mantel.

Salk provides examples for how the extra touches make all the difference to a room. These decorative doorknobs give an ordinary chest of drawers an extra added sense of style and individuality.

An example I particularly liked from the book, was how Salk showed that wires and such needn’t be a hindrance with a design scheme, but in fact can be used to enhance the overall look. She writes, “the practical behind the creative – such as wires and switches – take on an artistic flair when displayed with equal confidence”. What I love most about this shot is the beautiful layout of the canvas painting with the vase of flowers placed idyllically in front of it, a truly wonderful moment.

Another image I rather fell in love with, was a very special bathroom that oozes in old romance. The faded pink walls and the added ornamentation creates a scene that is rather unexpected for a bathroom, Salk comments on the room, “its then all about bringing in formal elements from other rooms in the home and taking the focus away from the utilitarian stuff”.

This book is full of gorgeous images with wonderful words to inspire and guide you equally, whether you just want to look at some beautiful interiors, or want a little nudge in the right direction, this is a fantastic buy!

It’s the Little Things by Susanna Salk available via Rizzoli

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The book featured in Book Club this month was brought to our attention by one of our lovely clients, and though it’s not the usual type of book we tend to include on the list, it’s a real thing of beauty! The Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones is a detailed depiction of the history of decorative design and ornament. From Greek to Turkish to the Renaissance, the book is full to the brim of beautiful, traditional designs, and an interesting history on each origin. The collection of ornament designs are absolutely stunning, in fact this book is even worth buying to pull out and frame the images. I’ve selected a few of my favourites from some of the different eras to show off just how lovely they are.

Greek No.6

‘Greek Plate No.6’

This design comes from Greek and Etruscan (the name of civilisation in ancient Italy) vases. Something Owen Jones, the author of The Grammar of Ornament, notes about Greek decoration is that unlike some of its predecessors or companions at the time, its designs lacked meaning. Beautiful though they were, they weren’t representative or symbolic in any way, and were purely for decorative purposes. However, what is important to note is that there is an overwhelming amount of Greek ornament that still remains today, this indicates that at the time the style of Greek ornament would have been in popular demand and considered high on the taste scale. Jones comments that “the lands would have been overflowing with artists, whose hands and minds were so trained as to enable them to execute these beautiful ornaments with unerring truth”. Below the Greek plate shows off ornament from the Temples and Tombs in Greece and Sicily.

Greek No.8

‘Greek Plate No.8’

Ornamentation from Pompeii takes its influence from its surrounding areas, from Greek to Roman styles, the design below is a rather fantastic geometric ornament, taken from Mosaics from Pompeii. The rich dark colours mixed with the almost neon bright tones creates a somewhat contemporary design.

Pompeian No.2

‘Pompeian Plate No.3’

There is a certain vagueness that comes with the discussion of Byzantine ornament, it appears that historians are often unable to track down, or confirm authentic Byzantine pieces of design and therefore are unable to make a true, viable comment on the history of the ornament. Jones calls the Byzantine style “peculiar” but I think it’s rather wonderful, and the combination of various schools of design compile together to create a gorgeous style.

Byzantine No.3

‘Byzantine Plate No.3’

Of course, if you’re talking about decorative ornament, you can hardly leave out Turkish designs. From mosques, tombs and fountains in Constantinople, or modern day Istanbul, these intricate designs are truly something special, perhaps because they take influence from other styles of ornament, as Jones says, “on the same building side by side with ornaments derived from Arabian and Persian floral ornaments, we find debased Roman and Renaissance details”.

Turkish No.1

‘Turkish Plate No.1’

The Alhambra is a palace located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain, and is home to some wonderful examples of Moresque ornament. As Jones tells the reader, “we find in the Alhambra the speaking art of the Egyptians, the natural grace and refinement of the Greeks, the geometrical combinations of the Romans, the Byzantines, and the Arabs”. It’s this wonderful collection of influences that creates such glorious patterns and designs. The example below shows a diaper ornament, which is a repetitive geometric surface, usually composed of lozenges or squares, which this pattern uses.

Moresque No.4

‘Moresque Plate No. 4’

Persian No.1

‘Persian Plate No.1’

Above is Persian ornament taken from manuscripts that belong to the British Museum.

Jones describes medieval ornament as being in “perfect harmony” with the structural features of a building. Although little remains of medieval decorative interiors, the decoration of some manuscripts gives some indication as to what would have been the common and popular styles of the interiors. The design below shows off the conventional leaves and flowers from medieval style.

Medieval No.1

‘Medieval Plate No.1’

And finally, I thought I’d squeeze in a few more designs from the Renaissance and Italy. The Renaissance design comes from pottery ornamentation at the South Kensington Museum, which we now know as The V&A.

Renaissance No.5

 

‘Renaissance Plate No.5’

The Italian plate is pilasters and ornament from none other than the Vatican, specifically from the loggia, which were corridors, open on one side to the outside and covered in frescos, such as the one below.

Italian No.1

‘Italian Plate No.1’

Whether you want to learn about the history and stories of ornament, or just take a look at the glorious imagery The Grammar of Ornament is truly a fantastic book!

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Recently I’ve been flicking through the wonderful book COLOUR. by Abigail Ahern, since we’re a massive fan of her work and her shop, it was a bit of a no-brainer when it came to doing a book club feature on her.

The book is a colour bible of sorts, but it’s not your basic how-to guide that you see on the shelves. Instead it’s more of a motivational and inspirational push in the right direction for all the scaredy-cats or colour novices out there!

Ahern takes you through her story of colour from her youth to the present, she remembers, “[her] mother, an artist would choose shades for our walls in the same way that she would select colours for her paintings: instinctively, from feeling and observation”.

It’s all about creating an impact, and turning your interiors into a place of joy and creative sustenance, to use colour to your advantage and to create an atmosphere that is both effective and affective.

For Ahern, one colour with the upmost importance is black, she recalls how she played around with shades of white and grey before taking the plunge and going black, “The day I did, magic struck. I fell in love. The intensity was transformative”.

 

COLOUR. has the perfect balance between the gung-ho ‘throw out the rulebook attitude’ and interesting tips and ideas to help make the most out of your space. For example, using a devilishly bright colour on the inside of your cupboard to create a pop of excitement like above.

The imagery in the book is all the inspiration you need to want to throw a huge dollop of paint over those plain walls. What’s more it gives you an idea of how to play around with textures, layers, patterns, and various tones hues of simple colours, so even if a bright splash of colour isn’t your cup of tea you can still create an exciting and affluent interior. As Ahern remarks, “the best news is that boring old magnolia is losing some of its attraction, with more people willing to experiment with different hues, from dark to bright”.

The imagery in COLOUR. are from interiors that have personally inspired Ahern, and are ones that she believes are the best of the best when it comes to colourful walls, floors, ceilings and everything in between.

I think there is a common misconception that bright and bold interiors that retain a sense of glamour and style are often unattainable or very hard to replicate. However, with good taste, steady guidance and patient attitude it’s certainly possibly to create your own private colour haven that oozes with style and grace.

“You do need a dose of confidence when it comes to colour”, says Ahern, but when you have mastered the craft of colour, there is an overwhelming sense Ahern continues, that “colour has given me a home that I never want to leave”.

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Even though this book has only been on the premises for a few weeks, the Angel + Blume team have already made a lot of use out of it, and you can tell just by seeing the amount of post-it notes that stick out of every page! So when this month’s Book Club came about there was no debating which lovely book would be featured!

The New Bohemians written by Justina Blakeney delves into the world of Bohemia today, and in particular in today’s interiors. We are guided through twenty beautiful homes, each categorized into their own subsection of bohemian style; The Modern Bohemian, The Earthy, The Folksy, The Nomadic, The Romantic and The Maximal Bohemian. Each has their own individual traits and quirks that makes them unique whilst still applying that initial and original bohemian logic to not only their homes but their lifestyles too.

I’ve picked out just some of the amazing photographs and Blakeney’s eloquent and insightful descriptions of each category that feature in the book, so you can decide which ‘New Bohemian’ category you love the most.

‘The Modern Bohemian’

A Modern Bohemian combines “the clean lines and functionality of classic modern design with the decorative exuberance of a bohemian”. The dining room above shows a perfect collage of hand-picked items that fall all over the spectrum of style and fit together rather wonderfully. From the oversized cactus, to the vintage chandelier, to the sheepskin seat covers, everything in this room works together to create the optimal modern space without losing any of that bohemian charm.

‘The Modern Bohemian’

In this home the traditional bohemian can be found in the assortment of patterns and weaves and the mixture of playful and rustic colours. All this combined with the industrial-style exposed brick wall creates a warm and cosy, yet cool and stylish modern setting.

The Earthy Bohemian, as you may guess, is strongly connected to Mother Nature, and their home is perfect place “for those whose feet are on the ground but whose heads are in the stars”. Expect to see raw materials, surrounded by florals and foliage as well as dreamy accessories and design schemes that follow the same natural motifs.

‘The Earthy Bohemian’

‘The Earthy Bohemian’

This naturally embellished wall takes its residence within the bathroom of a home, not only is it a feature that is full of originality but for the Earthy Bohemian there’s a real overload of satisfaction with being at one with nature.

The Folksy Bohemian is quite possibly a nickname for a hoarder, but a well-trained hoarder. As Justina writes, a Folksy Bohemian’s home is “packed with tales of adventures, treasure, hunting, and hand-me-downs, the folksy bohemian is a collector, a maker, an up-cycler, and a storyteller”.

‘The Folksy Bohemian’

The home of a folksy bohemian is bound to be full to the brim with trinkets and treasures that map a timeline of the occupant’s life, as well as their families and loved ones. There’s probably an everlasting sense of sentimentality and nostalgia that surrounds the home of a folksy bohemian.

‘The Folksy Bohemian’

It seems that in a Nomadic Bohemian’s life the dust never quite settles. Whether they are off seeing the world, or just busy rearranging the furniture, complacency is never a word use to describe them. “When the spirit of a vagabond takes hold of the aesthete, the result is a nomadic bohemian, whose vibrant home is packed with textiles, ephemera, and anything else picked up during travels in both the actual and virtual world”.

‘The Nomadic Bohemian’

‘The Nomadic Bohemian’

There’s a real contemporary element to the brightness and contrasting layout of this sitting room. Stripped back you might start to miss mistake this room for an ordinary one, but with everything balancing perfectly in sync with one another the effortlessness of bohemian style and philosophy comes out to play.

On to the homes of the Romantic Bohemians, which might just be my favourite, they are nothing short of wonderland movie settings, full of glamour, drama and lavishness but delivered with a smooth and subtle finish that provides the authenticity needed to pull off such a look without becoming decadent. “The romantic bohemian often trades in contrasts, between the natural and the supernatural, the familiar and the exotic, the narrative and the poetic”.

‘The Romantic Bohemian’

‘The Romanic Bohemian’

From the hand painted, antiqued wallpaper to the gothic candleholders, these photographs made me swoon with joy and jealousy. Both homes are filled with a style and grace that money just couldn’t buy, creating an atmosphere full of drama and timelessness.

Finally Justina calls upon her last category of new bohemians, The Maximal Bohemian. If subtlety and minimalism is your thing then look away now, for the maximal and the minimal are worlds apart. “With a string disregard for quaint notions like everything must match or line up, the maximal bohemian loves to decorate wild”. If ever there was an interior design ‘rulebook’, the maximalist clearly wasn’t paying attention, and in fact probably threw it out their well-decorated window.

‘The Maximal Bohemian’

There’s pretty much a general sense that ‘anything goes’ and ‘never say never’ when it comes to the maximal bohemian’s home, but what is important to note that while inclusivity is obviously present, so is a high level of curation. Like a game of Tetris, everything can fit and work together, but only if done so strategically.

‘The Maximal Bohemian’

So there you have it, a quick dip into the ocean that is the Bohemian lifestyle by our tour guide Justina Blakeney and The New Bohemians, it’s almost like falling down the rabbit hole into a world you never knew you needed!

For more information: http://www.justinablakeney.com/the-new-bohemians/ 

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If you’d have asked me my thoughts on American Farmhouses before reading this book, I wouldn’t have had much to say on the matter. I would have guessed their interiors a little too twee and traditional for my taste, but after having a good look through American Farmhouses by Leah Rosch it’s fair to say that I’m rather taken with the style and persona of Farmhouses, as there is so much more that meets the eye. As Rosch writes, “few history books capture the story of America’s past as vividly as the farmhouses that fill our countryside”, and it’s true. Inside this book are some absolutely stunning properties full to brim with history and American culture, with a wonderful nostalgic essence to each and every one.

There is a beautifully charming aspect to the concept of an American Farmhouse, it epitomizes the idea of the ‘American Dream’ and unveils a simplistically romantic view of a laid-back life surrounded by the sunny countryside.

If you’re a fan of classic, traditional interiors and are always on the lookout for inspiration for your own home, this book is full of interesting and unique ideas, I’ve picked out a few features in the book that really stood out, and have a simplistic air of elegance and rustic vintage-ness that could be worked into your own interiors.

Stencilling and attention to detailing became a must have features in many Farmhouses across New England and the Mid-Atlantic states. It’s a beautiful way to spruce up a home, whilst adding some individuality to a home. I also love the detailing on these grained doors in the photo above, the foliage patterns on the four panels accompanied by the white border creates a wonderfully rustic look and would make a lovely addition to a country home or cottage.

To save space, box staircases were created in Farmhouses, they would be situated between the chimney and the parlour wall, and doors would be added to avoid getting a draft through the house. While their initial function was practicality, the addition of the door also creates a delightful aesthetic, I adore the example above with the wonderful blue/green colour, and uneven steps to match the slightly wobbly doorframe.

American Farmhouses features both original and renovated features, and a renovated kitchen particularly caught my eye, the house’s authenticity has been beautifully maintained in the period style cabinetry and window, and the inclusion of an antique apron-style marble sink is absolutely stunning, a real feature piece.

This original eighteenth century wallpaper is complete perfection and is the something that modern companies and designs are constantly trying to replicate. Its flawlessly faded antiqued colour and the sweet little scenery pattern are wonderful features and give the whole look of the room a special touch.

There’s a wonderfully elegant nature to this Colonial staircase and its gorgeous carved details, the delicate daisy detail along the railing is sweet without being sickly, due to the well thought-out colour choices that gives the whole scheme an elegant look.

This Texas home keeps its State as its design motif, the bull skull placed above the entrance way is not to everyone’s taste, but works perfectly in sync with the atmosphere and look of the house, coordinating well with metal door knocker below, which is in the shape of a longhorn bull, paying homage to the mascot of the University of Texas.

In the interior, the relationship between the natural materials and the collection of paintings and hats on the wall creates a comfortable setting that meets both the needs of practicality and authentic style.

What’s so lovely about the concept of a Farmhouse is that though they were all built with the same function in mind, and their exteriors tend to follow the same line of thought, their interiors vary in great amounts.

This beautiful staircase follows a nautical motif, following the “inventive spirit of the times” and is distinctively unique. The faded paint on the stairway are the ghosts of the footsteps that have gone up and down and are a beautiful reminders of the rich history of the old Farmhouse.

Finally, the simple yet extremely effective style of this cupboard gives this room an abundance of character and warmth, offering up a small dose of laid-back elegance in a classically sophisticated scheme.

For inspiration, intrigue and a lovely history lesson, American Farmhouses is simply wonderful.

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The Modern House, a real estate company who specialise in the selling of the finest modern homes, celebrated their ten year anniversary in 2015 and so to mark the occasion they released a book with some of the best properties they’ve had throughout their decade of business. The book is a fantastic read whether you love modern architecture or are simply intrigued to get a sneak peek into some of Britain’s most wonderful homes. I’ve picked out some of my favourite homes from the book to share with you.

Doctor Rogers’ House located in London, built by Richard and Su Rogers in 1968

The beauty of this property lies in how the colours of the interior and the colours of the adorning nature integrate so perfectly together. The influence of Californian modernism isn’t lost on the architecture or interior features and yet doesn’t look out of place in its typically English surroundings, there’s a humble attitude to this house that makes you want to run up those paving stones and be invited inside this welcoming exterior.

Doctor Rogers’ House located in London, built by Richard and Su Rogers in 1968

The Modern House features a property on Angel + Blume’s home turf, Cambridge, and one that we know personally. The Laslett House was designed by Trevor Dannatt in 1958 and is owned today by Tim Hayward, the man who resurrected the legendary Fitzbillies.

Laslett House located in Cambridge, built by Trevor Dannatt in 1958

The house is wonderfully minimal and full of natural elements. There’s a beautiful flow of white brick walls, wood flooring and glass panelling that evokes an authentic sense of calm and laid-back sophistication.

Laslett House located in Cambridge, built by Trevor Dannatt in 1958

The next property takes the form of an old converted Pianola factory in north London. Its interiors are reminiscent of ordered chaos with foliage, picture frames and furniture all positioned in the home seemingly unsystematically and yet at the same time with the feeling of thoughtfulness and care. The home is like a blank canvas, the perfect location for an artist to create their masterpieces with just enough personal memorabilia to fight off a spooky clinical atmosphere.

An Art Collector’s Warehouse located in London, built by 6a Architects in 2012

An Art Collector’s Warehouse located in London, built by 6a Architects in 2012

Stratton Park in Hampshire is a fine example of how modern homes can look their best when juxtaposed with older existing architectural features. The house was built over a mansion from 1803, all that remains is the Doric Portico, something that might have been rather a brash display of grandeur if left to its own devices, but with the modern home positioned to its side it becomes more of a whimsical and elaborate garden sculpture.

Stratton Park located in Hampshire, built by Stephen Gardiner and Christopher Knight in 1964

The idea of living in a fort would thrill most children (and some adults) and so proving that you can make a home out of anything, a nineteenth century fort was converted into a home in 2004. The Martello Tower Y in Suffolk is a highly intriguing concept and there’s no doubt that the views from up there phenomenal!

 

Martello Tower Y located in Suffolk, built by Piercy & Company in 2004

Despite its somewhat bulky external appearance the interior of the home is elegant and sophisticated, and its unique features like the original fort structure make a compelling argument for the building’s beauty.

The Walled Garden located in East Sussex, built by Michael Manser in 2002

This home wonderfully incorporates modern American architectural style into the Sussex countryside.  The beautiful glass and steelwork and the adjacent old red brick wall create the perfect contrast that gives this property it’s extra added character.

The Walled Garden located in East Sussex, built by Michael Manser in 2002

Finally, you might remember this lovely house from a blog a few weeks ago, Fog House in London was commissioned by Janet Street Porter in 2004 and is a beautiful accumulation of colour and style.

Fog House located in London, built by Adjaye Associates in 2004

Fog House located in London, built by Adjaye Associates in 2004

The Modern House is full to the brim of exciting properties, amazing inspiration and invites you to spend a few hours dreaming of modern havens.

The Modern House is available from Artifice.

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