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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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Maybe it’s my imagination, or maybe I’m just ready for the autumn weather, but as soon as it turns September I feel a little nip in the air. While that may fill some people with sadness, I’m always secretly a little happy, autumn is my second favourite season after spring so I always welcome it with open arms. Making the transition from hot summer evenings to chillier autumn ones can always be made a whole lot smoother if you’re prepared, having your throws, cushions and snuggly furniture ready will mean that you’ll be looking forward to those evening curled up on the sofa instead of out in the garden. I’ve pulled together some wonderful products that’ll make those autumn nights even more tempting.

Finding a marvellous throw for the colder part of the year will not only keep you warm, but instantly make a sofa or bed look revitalised. Picking the best material for your throw is a job within itself, Merino wool is made from the Merino sheep, mainly in Australia, and is incredibly soft! I love this patterned throw from Wool Me, the red and green design will pop next to a pale coloured sofa, or help create a moody feel on a dark shade.

‘Red Green Merino Wool Throw Marta’ from Wool Me

If you’re looking for a throw that is outrageously soft, you can’t go wrong with a Mohair throw. Heal’s currently have a Mohair throw in five gorgeous colourways, but my particular favourite this the pastels shade. It looks perfect spread across a bed just like below but would look equally fabulous draped over an armchair when not in use.

‘Mohair Throw’ from Heal’s

Those nights where you’re inside watching a film, or reading a book instead of enjoy a summer’s evening can be made a whole lot easier when you have a wonderfully comfy sofa or armchair to curl up on. Loaf have produced a collection of sofas and armchairs, or as they lovingly call them ‘squishy’ chairs, that look like the King and Queens of comfort! Two of my favourite looks from their collection are the Snuggalump sofa and the Crumpet armchair, they both have extra thick cushions so you can get yourself well and truly comfy in one of these.

‘Snuggalump Sofa’ from Loaf

‘Crumpet armchair’ from Loaf

If you’re all set for sofas, but are still looking for something to snuggle up in, this cocoon from Graham & Green may be your sort of thing. Its design is perfect for anyone who loves playful and contemporary pieces, and if you love vegging out on a Sunday afternoon!

‘Zig Zag Cocoon Chair’ from Graham & Green

Getting your interiors ready for autumn doesn’t necessarily mean you need to kit your home out in those typical autumn colours, if you prefer the bright and bold scheme then go for it! Cushions are a quick and fun way to inject a bit of colour into your interior, plus they’ll really spruce up a room with minimal effort. These Frida cushions from Graham & Green are fantastic, they use abstract imagery of the iconic artist (and her parrots!) to create some playful cushions. Use intermittently in a set of scatter cushions or go all out and use all in a row to really make a statement.

‘Appliqued Character Cushions’ from Graham & Green

If you fancy something a little less bright but just as fun, head over to Trouva for this snazzy tassel cushion. It’s ideal to give a space some character, and a hint of Mediterranean feel.

‘Turquoise Tassel Kelim Cushion’ from Trouva

A great way to make your bedroom feel extra comfy for autumn is with a new bedspread, although it may not make it any easier to get out of bed in the morning! I absolutely love this velvet and linen bedspread from Niki Jones, it looks like you could wrap yourself up in it all day!

‘Velvet Linen Bedspread’ from Niki Jones

If you’re not quite ready to let go of summer, this beautiful duvet set from Houseology cannot be missed! The wisteria pattern will help you get through the colder months as you dream of summer.

‘Bluebellgray Wisteria Bed Linen’ from Houseology

Autumn is on the horizon and whether you’re happy or sad about it, one thing you can’t argue with is how much fun you’re going to have creating your perfect snuggly autumn retreat!

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In recent years marble has become a leading theme in the world of interior design and home accessories. Before you may have thought about marble and imagined a large Bel-Air mansion covered head to toe in the stuff and maybe given a slightly involuntary grimace, with the word tacky scrolling across your mind. But marble has come back in style, taking an alternative pathway. It’s made its appearance in home accessories, from lighting to tableware to soft furnishings, a faux marble style or a print has become a playful way to take on the material and tone down the sense of grandeur, whilst still keeping a fresh and sophisticated look, turning something that was slightly old-fashioned and a little outdated into something current and contemporary. There are tons of ways to incorporate a little bit of marble into your home, and I’ve chosen just a few wonderful things on the market at the moment.

‘Marble and Wood Pizza Board’ from Rockett St George

This gorgeous board from Rockett St George is a fab accessory. The two tones of the different materials are complementary of one another, making a smart and contemporary look. Perfect to serve up your pizza, or prop up on the kitchen counter.

For a lovely addition that’ll spruce up your table or dresser, this marble effect jug from Trouva is spot on. The dabbled marble effect gives the whole look a little individuality and a subtle presence in the room.

‘Quails Egg Jug’ from Trouva

For an innovative way to add a pop of marble to your kitchen, one (or two) of these marble tea towels will be sure to do the trick. The look is completed with the vibrant neon pink stitching, making them ideal of anyone who likes a lively and playful interior scheme.

‘Marble Print Tea Towels’ from Rockett St George

Jazz up your dinner parties with these elegant but contemporary cheese knives. Their marble hands gives the knives a sophisticated feel, while to modern gold tone of the blade makes it a fun and cool way to incorporate marble into your tableware.

‘Marble and Gold Cheese Knives’ from Oliver Bonas

Your marble revitalisation needn’t just take place in the kitchen, there are so many beautiful ways to use marble in the rest of your home. Marble pots from Rose & Grey are a nice little touch to dress up a study or working area of your home. Choose a few of both the white and green to create a wonderful grouping, dotting them around the room.

‘Marble Pots’ from Rose & Grey

Move your marble madness up to the skies and start adorning that ceiling with all sorts of lovely marble touches. Whether you want to spend a little or a lot, a marble pendant light is a creative way to play around with the trend. These Lee Broom pendant lights available from Houseology are a beautiful and sophisticated way to incorporate marble into the home. They have a slight retro vibe to them which adds to their character.

‘Lee Broom Chamber Pendant Light’ from Houseology

Alternatively, if you want to go for a less permanent, less expensive route down the marble pendant path, these paper lampshades from Graham & Green are gorgeous! Perfect for a rented house, or if you’re testing out the marble look.

‘Marbled Paper Lampshades’ from Graham & Green

If you’re feeling bold, another marble treat from Houseology is this Timorous Beasties cushion. This vibrant blue marble effect pattern will give any room an electric look. For the ultimate impact buy several and use as scatter cushions, or play around with contrasting patterns to really make a splash.

‘Timorous Beasties Marbled Damask Cushion’ from Houseology

Add just a hint of marble to a room with this stunning table lamp from Oliver Bonas, its marble base paired with the pastel shade and bright cord creates a lovely overall look.

‘Lamp with Marble Base’ from Oliver Bonas

And finally a special mention to this gorgeous vase from Rockett St George, it’s a stunning piece of work that has all the attributes of a high-end sculptural piece without the scary price!

‘Marble Effect Serenity Vase’ from Rockett St George

From pizza boards to pendant lights, there are so many ways to integrate marble into your interiors these days, and with so many pieces out there ready to buy you can really let your imagination run wild.

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A couple of weeks ago I looked at the fabulous book COLOUR by Abigail Ahern for our monthly Book Club. Since then I have been intrigued by all things colourful in the world of interiors. It’s a fun and easy task to turn your home from a neutral setting to fabulously colourful! A bold paint choice, or wild decorative piece may be exactly what you need to create an enviable rainbow-esque room, but if you’re not ready to dive straight in there are small injections of colour to be made by the addition of bright home accessories.

So starting off slow, I’ve got together a collection of exciting, sophisticated and most importantly brightly coloured accessories and furnishings to show you how much fun there is to be had with the bold and beautiful.

If you feel like you might need easing into the idea of eccentric and bright interiors, it’s best to go easy and introduce colour step by step with a few gleaming home accessories. These glass candle holders from Rockett St George are a great way to spice up a window sill or bare surface. The interaction between the gold and the colourful exteriors will create a warm and inviting setting in any home.

‘Glass Globe Candle Holders’ from Rockett St George

Before you go in bright and beaming, opting for a more muted colourful tone is a good way to get acquainted with colour, something like these crackled, antiqued plant pots from Graham & Green will jazz up a patio area or conservatory without being too overbearing, plus they’ll make a strong canvas to continue to add colour to in the future.

’Turquoise Plant Pots’ from Graham & Green

I’m finding it ever increasingly harder and harder to resist a bit of trim these days, so this blanket is absolutely perfect. The lovely blue tones with make a bright impact, and will be easily adapted into all sorts of colour and style schemes.

‘Pom Pom Blanket’ from Holly’s House

 

Not all bold colour interiors need to consist of the bright primary colours, take a cooler, more relaxed journey with some sophisticated metallics, like this bronze Barabra chair from Sweetpea and Willow. It’s has a fantastic retro vibe going on, and will transform a simple front room into a plush cocktail lounge.

‘Barabra Bronze Chair’ from Sweetpea and Willow

When it comes to a large piece of furniture such as a dining room table, there is always an urge to stick to the status quo and go for something conventional. But if you’re interested in adding a little colour to your palette, there’s no need to go to extremes and end up with a tomato red shiny table. Find your middle ground with something like this stylish piece from Houseology. The traditional wood top combined with the playful painted legs makes a wonderful contemporary statement.

‘Moooi Paper Table Patchwork’ from Houseology

When you get more comfortable with the idea of bright, colourful interiors you can really start to have some fun with the concept, from small and big ideas. If you’re thinking big, you can’t get more bright, colourful and stylish than this iconic design by Missoni from Roche Bobois. Whether you want to make a big statement or have just fallen in love with the design, it’s every colour lover’s dream.

‘Mah Jong Composition Missoni Home’ from Roche Bobois

This Zulu girl cushion from Graham & Green brings a lovely regal side to the world of bright interiors, it makes the perfect scatter cushion, either in a collection of equally bold cushions or as a statement piece against a sea of neutral cushions as its backdrop.

‘Zulu Girl Cushion’ from Graham & Green

There is always something to be found from the colourful section of home accessories if you want to add a sense of humour into your interior settings. Although they might be a little too quirky for some people’s taste, this set of winking eyes is rather fun. They’re perfect for a den or bedroom and are a great way to put a smile on people’s faces.

‘Winking Eye Cushions’ from Rockett St George

To give your table a quick fix of colourful fun, these Magritte inspired plates are a must. They’re so fabulous that they’ll even distract the guests if the dinner all goes wrong!

‘Magritte Melamine Plates’ from Rockett St George

And finally if you ever need a little colourful pick me up, this pink budgie is marvellous, hide it away in some plants or up on a shelf so that it’ll catch anyone who spots it by surprise as they walk past.

‘Pink Budgie’ from Rockett St George

Whatever your budget and whatever your taste or space requirements there is always a way to add a little brightness into your interiors and a little joy into your life!

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The temperature is rising all around Cambridge today and in typical British fashion we’re all getting a little flustered! But fear not as we have an abundance of lovely summer saviours to keep you cool in the heat.

Comfort is the key on a scorching day like today and whether you like to lie back and work on your tan or read a book in a deck chair there’s something for everyone.

Cox and Cox, Double Cushion

This beautiful cotton double cushion from Cox and Cox is perfect for a picnic on a lazy afternoon.

House Of Hackney, Deck Chairs

House of Hackney has deck chairs for sale at the moment with some wonderful prints that’ll keep you stylish in the sun. And if you love prints and patterns then you’ll want to check out Sunbeam Jackie’s collection of beautiful bohemian parasols.

Sunbeam Jackie, Parasol

Cox and Cox, Pitcher

Staying hydrated is the perfect excuse to get this gorgeous pitcher from Cox and Cox, great for serving up some Pimms or perhaps some refreshing cucumber water

And to accompany it why not have a look at House of Hackney’s collection of fun trays, a great addition to any gathering in the sun and the perfect way to serve those drinks in style!

House of Hackney, Tray Set

After watching a beautiful sunset, these lovely wicker lanterns from The White Company will be a great way to keep the night going without losing the light.

The White Company, Wicker Lanterns

Of course we’re not forgetting the inside of your home, nothing says summertime like a set of beautiful linen curtains blowing in the breeze, and as always Ian Mankin has some stunning fabrics in his collection.

Ian Mankin

So there’s our guide to staying cool in the sun, we hope you enjoy!

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I think it is really important to have just a few things in your home that make you smile for no other reason that they just appeal to your sense of humour. A bit of light hearted fun in a home goes a long way and helps to bring your own personality to your space. In honour of the International Day of Happiness, here are a few of the things that make me smile.

Cole and Son Cabaret Wallpaper

Cabaret wallpaper from Cole and Son – a joyful carnival of colour and intrigue

Porta Romana Duck Feet

The classic Duck Feet Lamp from Porta Romana which invariably gets a laugh when I first show it to a client.

Rockett St George sundae dish

Could there be a better way to serve ice cream than in a golden sundae dish? Rockett St George

Manuel Canovas Bora Bora

The first time I saw this fabric, it just lifted my spirits and we now have a metre of it on a canvas on the office wall, to keep us all in a good mood! Bora Bora fabric by Manuel Canovas from Colefax and Fowler

Bridie Hall brush pots

These exquisite brush pots from Bridie Hall are in such jolly colours with their big gold letters that they can be used individually. But how much more fun to spell out a word that makes you laugh.

Ham made flying rabbit

These simple and delightful drawings from HAM have always made me laugh and I am very excited that there are some new ones coming out any day now. Keep an eye on their website.

Alessi Anna G corkscrew

The combination of the hilarious design of the Anna G corkscrew from Alessi and the opening of a bottle of wine always lifts my heart

Christian Lacroix cushions - frontChristian Lacroix cushions - back

Is it possible to get more of an explosion of colour, pattern, flora and forna into a cushion?

Calypso Turquoise cushion by Christian Lacroix from www.designersguild.com. 

Jonathan Adler match strike

The problem with writing this blog is that I keep finding things I just have to have. My order of this Mohawk matchstick holder is on its way. www.jonathanadler.com

Argent and Sable so saucy

And finally my absolutely favourite find of the day is this fabulous illuminated sign from Argent and Sable. You can create your own wording but So Saucy is difficult to better. www.argentandsablesigns.co.uk

 

Wishing you all a happy day on March 20th and all other days.

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I love the autumn and it only takes a whiff of a bonfire or a slightly chilly breeze in the air to get me thinking about cozying up my home for the cold weather. Whilst we are generally enjoying a gorgeous autumn, I am not to be deflected and am taking the opportunity to add a few seasonal accessories, so where better to start than with a bit of natural sheepskin.

Cox and Cox curly sheepskin

I think you can’t go wrong with simply owning a sheepskin, they are nature’s perfect invention. They are great on a chair, or on the floor for your feet to sink into. Don’t even think of leaving it anywhere that your pet goes or you will have to fight for your spot. Cox and Cox curly sheepskin £165

And if you are won over by a picture of a chair with a sheepskin on it, why not go the whole hog (sheep) with a sheepskin beanbag. Fall into it, and emerge in the spring.

Cox and Cox bean bag

Cox and Cox sheepskin beanbag £750

If you have a bigger floor space to be filled with under foot joy, look no further than The Rug Company. Their Alpaca rug not only looks wonderful but is as tactile as you could possibly desire.

the-rug-company-alpaca-roomset_large_1

www.therugcompany.com Alpaca £550 per m2

On a slightly more frivolous note, I love this sheepskin sheep footstool by the Wool Room at Not on the High Street. I almost feel like naming it, but I will control myself.

The Wool Room (via Not on the High Street)

Sheepskin sheep stool, the Wool Room £99

We have featured it before and I still love it – why not have a sheepskin magazine rack?

a b furniture magazine rack

A + B Furniture (sadly not related to us)  £225

And finally, whilst not given to exaggerated sentimentalism myself (she says), I couldn’t resist this sweet heart shaped sheepskin cushion – well why not?

The White Company cushion

The White Company Sheepskin Heart Cushion £35.00

 

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