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Inviting to look at and still room to sit comfortably. Chair, cushion and delectable fabrics all from Vanessa Arbuthnott.

There is a battle raging in our households and it concerns the quite intense emotions elicited by the humble cushion. Many sane, sensible and fair minded couples that I visit in my capacity as their interior designer can quickly lapse into not only passionate opinions but also surprisingly petty bickering when the subject of cushions is mentioned. I am going to horribly generalise now so please forgive me if you don’t fit into my unsubstantiated gender stereotyping, but seems to me that it tends to be us girls that love cushions and it’s the boys who really don’t.

My investigations into anti-cushion behaviour have found some recurrent themes. The first and most virulent relates mainly to cushions on the bed. “Where do they go at night?” the boys cry “we have to throw them on the floor”. Ok, I understand, they need a place to go when they are taken off the bed and the floor is not it. A simple solution would be a chair, window seat or ottoman at the end of the bed that they could reside on over-night.

The second complaint is normally about the number of cushions on the sofa. “We can’t even sit down without taking some of them off and throwing them on the floor” (are you seeing the ‘throwing them on the floor’ pattern emerging?). It’s a valid point, you need to be able to sit on your sofa, but this very rarely means you can’t have any cushions on it at all. Really, have you felt the comfort a cushion offers?!

Even I have to admit (and on a personal level you may have guessed that I am an extreme cushion lover) that the purpose of cushions in adornment. Some comfort for sure but primarily adornment and is there anything wrong with that? The key really, as with all things interior related, is the balance of style and functionality. A contemporary muted minimalist space will be spoilt by brightly coloured highly patterned cushions but will be enhanced by a limited number of plain cushions adding a layer of texture and comfort. Similarly a room that is verging on the bland can be hugely improved with a burst of colour, pattern, texture and a visual hit of inviting comfort.

Cushions do have an advantage that they are easier and cheaper to purchase than larger items such as a sofa or carpet. However, this does not mean that you should not take the time and effort in choosing your cushions, or that you should opt for cheap if you are not sure. A ‘make-do’ cushion is a waste of money as it is highly likely that you will want to replace it almost as soon as you get it home. If you buy a cushion you really love you may well have it for life so it represents much better value for money whatever it costs.

Contemporary cushions from Andrew Martin bring colour and comfort to a grey scheme.

Fortunately, there is now a very good selection of ready-made cushions available on the market. One tip I would give you when looking for off the shelf cushions is to find a fabric or accessories company that you really like and see what cushions they have on offer. I find that high street store cushions are often incredibly middle of the road and quite depressing because of it, whereas a company that isn’t trying to offer all styles to all people can be a lot more inventive. For example, Chelsea Textiles (www.chelseatextiles.com) have a wonderful range of cushions for those of a more traditional bent and Andrew Martin (www.andrewmartin.co.uk) have lush designs on offer for those of a more contemporary sensitivity.

If you do go down the route of having cushions made (and I warn you now, it is an additive business), you have a world of opportunity at your fingertips. Key decisions include size and shape, fabric obviously but you might want to use a couple of different fabrics, say one on the back and a different one on the front, or a different fabric as a side or decorative panel, and then of course there are trimmings. Trimmings are the interior addicts’ sweeties and are a joyful business to pick and often are what makes the cushion special. The key with having cushions made (and actually any bespoke item) is to find the right craftsperson and make good friends with them. As with many needlework tasks, cushion making sounds very simple but to get it right is always more complicated that you think. You need to find a soft furnishings maker who knows what they are doing, will listen to what you want and has a good level of patience. Thinking through the design before starting is vital and no detail should be overlooked, as cushion disappointment is not pretty.

As I write, I suspect that those amongst us who have yet to realise the true worth of the cushion may be feeling slightly light-headed, if not enraged, by my encouragement for spending hard earned cash on the decorative end of the soft furnishings palette. I would say sorry but I wouldn’t mean it so what I will do is to send a grovelling apology to any man who really does appreciate a cushion. That said, I do believe it is thanks to the female of the species that the cushion thrives. Without us the boys would all be sitting slightly uncomfortably on their sofas wondering why their rooms look just a tiny bit bland.

This article first appeared in Cambridge Magazine, April 2017

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By Leonie Walker

Recently I have come across several designs that take inspiration from urban living and city landscapes, offerings some refreshingly original design motifs and patterns.

One example is Timorous Beasties fantastic Toile collection. Unlike traditional French toile designs of charming pastoral scenes, Beasties’ toiles offer a contemporary twist on the French classic. Their wallpaper and fabric motifs display a surprising and honest depiction of city life. Iconic cityscapes, park life, crime scenes, promenading and rude boys are just a few of the engaging narratives that take place in these designs. There are differing toiles for London, New York, Glasgow and Edinburgh, and each with its own feel and cityscape.

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The New York Toile

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The London Toile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Glasgow Toile

 

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The Edinburgh Toile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another example of urban themed decor is Marimekko’s new Siirtolapuutarha range. Made up of a selection of crockery and textiles, the pieces have a lovely illustrative design motif that eludes to cityscapes and urban living. Sure enough, the design for this range is inspired by city life, in particular small city gardens. The word siirtolapuutarha is a Finnish term that refers to small community plots of land in the city that are used for gardens and allotments. Each piece tells a different part of the siirtolapuurtarha story, from ‘a morsel of nature in the urban jungle’ to the ‘tiny gardens tucked into the nooks of urban life’ – Marimekko.

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Siirtolapuutarha bowl, available at Skandium

 

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Oiva Siirtolapuutarha coffee cup, available from Nord

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Siirtolapuutarha plate, available from Skandium

 

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Siirtolapuutarha red coated cotton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So you need look no further than out onto the street to find something new to be inspired by.

This article first appeared on the Cambridge Evening News website.

 

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Easter just isn’t complete without an egg or two (or more), and whether your Easter table centre piece features delicately painted hardboiled eggs, or foil wrapped chocolate versions, one of the best ways of making a feature of your eggs is with an artistic egg cup. We have searched the high street and beyond to find our favourites and here is our short list. Happy decorating and Happy Easter!

grahamandgreen

Graham and Green Soldier egg cups £3.40 each
www.grahamandgreen.co.uk

Linda Bloomfield - Thrown Porcelain

Linda Bloomfield handmade porcelain egg cups £12 each
www.lindabloomfield.co.uk

cecily vessey not on the high street

Lodon Skyline egg cups from Cecily Vessey at Not on the High Street £7 each
www.notonthehighstreet.com

ark cambridge

The Easter Bunny from Ark Cambridge £7.50
www.arkcambridge.co.uk

Magpie Living not on the high street

Set of four glass chicken egg cups by Magpie Living at Not on the High Street £12
www.notonthehighstreet.com

portmerion vintage egg cup

Portmeirion Vintage Kellogg’s egg cups set of 2 £6.50
www.portmeirion.com

occa home

Occa Home Menu Vernon Panton egg cups – set of 4 £26.95
www.occa-home.co.uk

Rockett st George

Rockett St George Game egg cups (owl, fox, hare and otter) £16 for a se of 4
www.rockettstgeorge.co.uk

This blog first appeared on the Cambridge News website

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We noticed a real trend in fabric designs over the past year for illustrative designs with a hand-drawn quality so we thought we would show you just a few of our favourites. Although all these fabrics would make up beautifully into curtains, the real trick with using them is to see as much of the pattern detail as possible, so think about using them for roman blinds, cushions, light-weight upholstery, lampshades or even on a canvas as a piece of (reasonably priced!) artwork.

This blog first appeared on the Cambridge News website

This Pin-Up fabric by Pierre Frey was inspired by 1950’s style promotional brochures advertising holidays at the seaside and has a wonderful nostalgic quality to it.

Lovely and fresh, this is Arboretum print also from Pierre Frey, which was inspired by the botanical sketches often found in children’s school books.

Continuing with the botanical theme, this fabric by Osborne and Little called Grand Tour Vedute features framed images of eighteenth century wooded landscapes. This is available on pure linen or in a pure cotton semi-sheer which would look beautiful with the light filtering through.

For anyone with a penchant for maps, this fabric from Zoffany is perfect – a beautifully drawn map of nineteenth century London with detail right down to street level, this could be a real timewaster (or an educational tool, whichever way you look at it!)

And finally, this classic Lewis and Wood print was designed by the 17th Century naturalist Thomas Bewick, this design was taken from the first two volumes of the History of British Birds and it has an accuracy and level of detail that is really charming in print.

Pierre Frey www.pierrefrey.com

Pin-up £166.32  per metre
Arboretum £158.40 per metre

www.zoffany.com
London fabric £85 per metre

Osborne and Little  www.osborneandlittle.com
Grand Tour Vedute £48 per metre

Lewis and Wood www.lewisandwood.co.uk
Bewick Birds £61.20 per metre

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Turn your bedroom into a haven with fresh tones, crisp textures and a dash of luxury. We bring you decorating ideas to suit any style.

zimmer and rohde

In the summer you want your bedroom to be cool fresh and inviting, so make sure it’s kept tidy and clutter free.  The bed, styled by Zimmer and Rhode is wonderfully glamorous with a textured bedthrow,  fabric covered headboard and velvet cushions piped in hot pink. Teamed with a simple side table and a soft blue wall it looks cosy and calm.

For a bit of drama why not make a statement with an oversized upholstered headboard. This one by Chelsea Textiles might be a bit extravagant, but you can adapt this idea to suit any sized room, just choose a fabric that you love and be bold.

deisgners guild bedlinen

Or keep things light and airy with zingy accent colours. This lime green bedthrow, bright towels and simple flowers are all the decoration this bedroom needs.

For a gorgeously rustic look, try using linen bedsheets rather than cotton. The Linen Works is our favourite for this and the beauty of linen is that the more scrumpled it looks the better!

pink throws and blankets

When the evenings start to get cooler you’ll appreciate a soft throw to drape over the bed and Melin Tregwynt have the best selection of throws and blankets in a gorgeous range of shades and patterns. They are all made in Wales and are a firm favourite at Angel + Blume.

Image credits: Zimmer + Rohde, Designers Guild, Chelsea Textiles, The Linen Works, Melin Tregwynt

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