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Posts Tagged ‘sofa’

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In this contemporary scheme, a comfortable statement sofa worked well to bring a relaxed feel to the room. Photography by Simon Whitmore

It’s weird thing that sofas are so hard to get right, but they really are. Furniture is generally easier to select than say redesigning a bathroom or commissioning joinery but over the years I have heard many sorry stories of profound disappointment on receipt of an eagerly awaited sofa. With this in mind, I often find myself using the 3am worry slot to agonise over an impending sofa delivery. However much I know that we have done exhaustive investigation, double-checking and confirming on behalf of, and involving, our clients in the run up to placing a sofa order, it is always a few hours prior to delivery that I decide that we have definitely overlooked something.

There are a lot of things to consider before buying (or commissioning, more on this later) a sofa. Firstly, you need to think about what style of sofa is going to work in your room – do you lean towards a contemporary or traditional feel, mid-century modern or shabby chic? You don’t need to put a name to the style you want but if you are unsure of what look you prefer then you are not ready to enter a sofa shop yet. Fabric choice is important too and hard to consider in isolation. Building up a picture of the final scheme including wall colour, flooring, other items of furniture, curtains or blinds and so on will help you to avoid a fabric choice that you find hard to match to or that is a bland disappointment. There is a raft of other decisions to also be considered and these crucially include size – a measure of the room with consideration to other items of furniture is vital – and comfort levels of which height of back, depth of seat, filling and how the sofa is constructed all play a role. There are lots more decisions that are important but I won’t go into all of these for fear that you may decide that your hand-me-down, battered sofa that you hated when you started reading is perfectly all right. However, I will say that it is better to consider a lot of these decisions prior to spending that nightmare Saturday morning trailing around high street furniture shops and ending up feeling overwhelmed by information, underwhelmed with what you have seen and temporarily less keen on the loved one that you left the house with that morning.

Can I also at this point, strongly steer you away from the idea that buying a cheap Ikea sofa with the plan to bin it in future and get the one you actually want is a sensible decision. This thought has been shared with me in my professional capacity more times than I care to remember and it is a notion that is riddled with flaws, the primary one being that all you are doing is delaying doing the work to get the right sofa and in the meantime putting up with a piece of furniture that isn’t right because you haven’t given proper consideration to what you do want (whether it ends up coming from our fine Swedish friends or not.)

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A traditional sofa in a plain fabric looks very happy in this country drawing room. Photography by Simon Whitmore

Once you have done your homework deciding which sofa is perfect for you, there is the possibility that you won’t be able to find what you want on the high street. Retailers are undoubtedly getting better at offering flexibility on size, fillings, legs, fabric and so on but I do find that we often have to commission a completely bespoke sofa in order to get what we want and this route is available to everyone. A good sofa maker is able to make or commission a frame to an agreed size, shape and style and then upholster it to your requirements which means that the world is your oyster. It also means that you are speaking directly to the expert, the person who is going to actually make it, so you should receive excellent advice. I know that you will be thinking that this all sounds very expensive and although it is not a bargain basement option, I always think it is less expensive than one would imagine, which is a reflection of not paying for a middle man and normally not paying for a swanky showroom and a glossy brochure. Although there are many excellent sofa makers all over the country, for historical reasons many are located in and around Nottingham which is where our ace upholsterer is based. There isn’t a chance that I will reveal his name but if you find a workshop with stressed looking craftsmen looking at an order and muttering ‘what on earth are they asking for now’, you may be in the right place.

What I will share with you are a few of my sofa related tips drawn from many years of professional sofa buying, some more painfully learnt than others, that I hope will help you in your quest to avoid sofa disaster:

  1. I’ve mentioned checking the size of the room but the other key measurement is the size of the doorway/staircase/sharp turn from corridor to room etc. A beautiful new sofa that won’t go into the room is not a pretty sight and if you think your proposed sofa won’t fit you may be able to have it delivered in pieces (removable legs or arms etc.) but you need to check that carefully.
  2. Don’t rule out the idea of an antique sofa that may or may not (if you are really lucky) need recovering. Often the frames (and sometimes the fillings) are well made and antique sofas can offer something a bit different. As an example, there is a company called Pelikan in Haverhill that buy original mid-century sofas from Denmark and restore and recover them. If your style leans in this direction, and you are in the market for a sofa, you should visit them immediately.
  3. Sofabeds are much better now than they used to be when neither the sofa nor the bed were all that comfortable. They are a good option if you are short of guest sleeping space but remember to consider how the room will function when it is transformed into a bedroom – do you have to move furniture in order to unfold the bed, where does bedding live, where do guests put their things? – often sofabeds are not used as beds because the room doesn’t really work as a bedroom, so it may be better to concentrate on sofa comfort rather than incorporating the bed facility.
  4. I hate hard and fast rules from interior designers because there is normally an exception but I am going to stick my neck out on scatter cushions made from the same fabric as the sofa. I genuinely can’t think of a situation where they are a good idea. The purpose of a scatter cushion (not back cushions or any cushion that is part of the sofa) is primarily decorative and small square cushions that blend into the sofa are apologetic at best.
  5. Lastly sales. Panic buying leads to mistakes. It is great to get a bargain but it is not a money saver if you immediately want to change it. There are many sales throughout the year and I guarantee that if you miss a sale bargain, there will be another tasty offer available sooner than you think.

Finally to anyone who has made a mistake with a sofa purchase, and my heart goes out to you if you have, don’t add to the problem by matching to the mistake. I have had customers say to me that they have a sofa they hate but for whatever reason it has to stay so we need to build a scheme round it. This is not a good plan. My approach would be to design a scheme that we love without considering the offending sofa, and implement it, which will hopefully dilute the impact of the mistake. We may add a few accessories that tie it into the scheme and then we wait for the day the right sofa can be put into the room and the sofa mistake can be found a new home somewhere that it is welcome.

This article first appeared the February edition of Cambridge Magazine 

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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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If like me you’re not quite making it out to a tropical island for a holiday this year, then fear not! Choose wisely and you can recreate that tropical feeling from your very own home, from quirky and contemporary to classic and stylish, tropical and jungle interiors have been a prominent trend over the last few years and there not going anywhere! I’ve pick out some absolutely scorching home accessories that’ll give you that hot, tropical feeling all year round!

‘Palmeral Amhurst Sofa in White and Green’ from House of Hackney

Jump straight into the deep end with this extravagant leafy sofa from House of Hackney.
Despite its busy pattern the piece of furniture manages to keep its cool, giving off more of a jungle chic vibe than jungle fever!

For a mellow hint of tropical flavour, this bedding from Graham & Green is a fun, non-committal way to interact with the style. It’ll look great as a standalone jungle themed piece or act as a lovely base to build upon.

‘Palmier Bedding’ from Graham & Green

The same can be said for this leaf item from Rose & Grey, which combines tropical and glamourous themes to create a beautiful piece. This complementary piece will make a stylish addition to a room and is ideal for storing jewellery or little knick-knacks.

‘Gold Leaf Tray’ from Rose & Grey

Jazz up your hallway with these functional yet beautiful umbrella stand and stool from Lombok. They’re made by artisans in Indian and will really provide a sense of glamour to a hallway or room that is in need of a little face-lift.

‘Frette Design Umbrella Stand and Stool’ from Lombok

If you really want to inject some jungle fun into your interiors, there are all sorts of stylish ways to do so. For a talking point, these parrots on perches are just the ticket. They’re perfect if you like your home to have a sense of humour and are a great way to insert a jungle theme into your ornaments.

‘Parrots on a Perch’ from Graham and Green

There’s always a lot of fun to be had when picking out a lampshade, with each room there’s a chance to add some individuality and character. New to Rockett St George are these fantastic hand woven lampshades, which work wonderfully with the tropical theme. The frayed ends a reminiscent of grass skirts and the looks as whole feels as if it could be found in a lovely beachside cabana. A few in a cluster would set off the entire look with a swing.

‘Hand Woven Bamboo Basket Lampshade’ from Rockett St George

For an alternative tropical look for your ceiling lights, take a peek at these Kauai Lanterns from Oka. The playful tassels that rest on top of the shade come in three colours, rust, natural and blue. This design will mix really well with a stylish, contemporary interior that is in need of a little zing.

‘Kauai Lanterns’ from Oka

Give an extra little spurt of tropical spirit with this adorable, quirky flamingo light bulb from Rose & Grey, a super addition for kid’s room, or for an adults!

‘Flamingo Light Bulb’ from Rose & Grey

Bring your jungle theme back down to eye-level and to your table with these snazzy table accessories. For a simple yet effective piece of day-to-day tableware try these super sweet elephant shakers from Jonathan Adler, they’re almost impossibly cute.

‘Elephant Salt & Pepper Shakers’

And for an exciting and colourful table update, this dinner plate set from Anthropologie will really get your guests talking! An absolute sea of vivid colours and images, perfect for a summer’s evening or even to brighten up a cold wintery night.

‘Aperta Melamine Dinner Set’ from Anthropologie

There’s all sorts of tropical, jungle fun to be had with your interiors and you don’t need to be an explorer to find them!

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This week I took a trip to Haverhill to visit the warehouse of the wonderful company, Pelikan. I not only had a good look at their collection, but I had a chance to sit down with the owners Penny and Rachel.

‘Romi Three Seater’

Pelikan is a furniture company that specialises in the restoration of Danish, mid-century sofas and chairs. While maintaining the sophisticated, minimalist style of Danish design from the 1930s to the 1960s, the Pelikan team revamp the furniture in modern wools and tweeds.

‘Coco Two Seater’

The concept and motivation of the company is to make vintage styles accessible and functional in today’s modern world. So often with buying vintage furniture, especially pieces that are in frequent use like a sofa, there’s always the slight hesitation that because of its age the piece will be too fragile to operate in the same way as a new sofa. However, the beauty of Pelikan is that they retain all the authenticity of the original design and style that mid-century modern has to offer but it is presented in a fashion that allows for the daily rough and tumble that comes with modern life.

‘Hera Armchair’

The company began to materialise after Penny, one of the co-owners, visited a friend out in Denmark and was struck by the beautiful furniture that filled the homes and buildings. Inspired by what she saw she began to delve into the mid-century world, finding a niche in the market for pieces that held the spirit of the past with the suitability and durability of the present.

‘Vera Three Seater’

The team have trusted places where they source all of their pieces from, after initially making to trips to Denmark themselves they developed a keen eye for fine craftsmanship and quality pieces, and with an abundance of designers, styles and pieces to choose from they seem to be spoilt for choice.

After their selected pieces arrive at the warehouse the process to finding the perfect fabric to suit the personality and style of each piece begins. From authentic Harris Tweed to wool blends in contemporary colours, each piece of furniture is treated as an individual, with its own needs, and this is perfectly captured by each piece receiving its own name, catered to its style and history, from Wolfgang to Raja.

‘Raja Daybed’

Pelikan also do a bespoke service, where a customer can choose from a range of unrestored pieces and have it customised to their specific needs and in their own chosen fabric. This process can often lead to the most daring and exciting pieces, which in turn inspire the fabric choices for collections that follow.

‘Wolfgang Armchair’

What is so lovely about Pelikan’s products, and the mid-century motif in general, is the way that the designs visually effect you. From the off-set when you walk into room that houses one of these pieces, you will immediately think ‘what a lovely piece’, but the more time you spend looking the more the piece comes to life. Small details that give the overall look such flair and style slowly come out and with each new glance or different angel you view it from the more the piece speaks to you, there’s a gradual appreciation that grows, which is perfect for a piece of furniture that is meant to last.

‘Flora Three Seater’

Whether you’re a vintage or mid-century nut, or you just like a hint of this style in your home, there’s bound to be a piece that’ll take your fancy. From large three-seater sofas, to laid-back armchairs to conversational footstools, each piece has something to say and something to add to a home. The kind of pieces you’ll find a Pelikan are ideal if you want to add a little retro chic into your interiors, they’ll act as a foundation, which you can build upon, as they’re the perfect balance between exotic vintage style and functional, contemporary finishes. Though each piece is approached in an individual manner, the collection comes together in a succinct manner that shows a focus, organised company that masters their passion.

Pelikan are having an open studio on the 17th & 18th June, visit their website for more information.

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For many people the words January and sale mean finding the latest bargains at a favourite clothing store, however at Angel + Blume, the January sales also means being able to get our hands on some beautiful pieces of furniture at a fraction of the cost.

The January sales is one of the best times to purchase that long sought after item you’ve been wanting to buy, whether it’s an investment piece or something striking to add to your home, there is so much on offer.

While some may dread the month of January, we think it’s a gift from the shopping gods, so out with old and in with the under-priced! I’ve chosen some simply gorgeous pieces from the sale section of some fabulous designers and stores to give you a little inspiration!

Vreeland Stripe ‘Atlanta’ Sofa in Multi Stripe from House of Hackney

Sometimes we need a little justification to help push us in the right direction, and in this case being brave enough to purchase a wild design like this vibrant number from House of Hackney just got a whole lot easier with its reduced price tag. Just like most of House of Hackney’s designs this sofa doesn’t err on the side of caution, its beautifully rich design oozes with contemporary glamour and will make a worthwhile investment.

Miss Adventure Sofa from Sofa Workshop

This beautiful bohemian style sofa from Sofa Workshop takes on an equally stunning pattern, but with mellow hues for those looking for a more laid-back style. This sofa and print combination would look amazing in a dozen different style settings from an industrial loft space to a classic country home; it’s a useful and delightful piece to have in your house.

For an investment that’s a classic, the ever faithful Habitat always has something up their sleeve. This Colin sofa is effortlessly chic and is perfect for a busy and changing lifestyle. Its relaxed nature makes it work as the staple of a room, meaning that as its furniture accompaniments change around it, it will never look out of place.

Colin Three Seater Sofa in Charcoal Fabric from Habitat

If you’re all set for sofas but are still in the mood to do a little revamping to your living room, buying a statement armchair is a great way to make your home feel all shiny and new without going into redesign overdrive.

Deco Tub Chair from David Linley

This Art Deco inspired armchair from David Linley is an ideal little dose of fun for any room, its vibrant colour will make it a stand out piece, while its size means it won’t overpower the room. Purchasing this colourful item will make the January blues seem more like a myth than reality. The same goes for this gorgeous rattan chair from The White Company, which is absolutely great addition for a modern or contemporary home.

Radial Rattan Occasional Chair from The White Company

You may have made quite a lot of use out of your dining room or area over the holiday period and if your table and chairs are looking a little worse for wear or you just feel like an upgrade, the January sales will lead you to an overwhelming amount of offers, but there are some truly lovely designs by some wonderful designers out there.

Vienna Chair from Tom Faulkner

This mid-century meets Art Nouveau style chair is a design masterpiece! Whether you feel like decking out the entire table, or perhaps just one at the head, this chair will show off your design skills. As with all pieces from Tom Faulkner there is an easy elegance and fluidity that makes the design so beautifully contemporary.  It also comes in a vivid pink, yellow or green.

Benchmark is home to some fantastic designs and products that are classic contemporary at its finest. This superb design from Benchmark is a home staple, plus it’s designed by the legendary Terrence Conran making it an absolute steal!

Normandie Side Chair designed by Terrence Conran for Benchmark

Another investment piece from Benchmark again designed by Terence Conran is this stunning sideboard. It’s a beautiful contemporary piece that unlikely to ever go out of style. Its clean lines means it’ll work with several design schemes without stealing focus or looking out of place.

Albin Sideboard designed by Terrence Conran for Benchmark

Or for something a little more rustic and flamboyant, there’s something quite special about this piece from Sweetpea and Willow. It will give a little grandeur to a room and fill it with some old school elegance.

Julien Commode in the style of Louis XV from Sweetpea and Willow

So don’t despair when it comes to venturing into the deep dark world of the January sales, there are some wonderful investment pieces out there that will last you a lifetime, and will hopefully leave you with some leftover cash!

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..you are going to love Graham and Green’s new summer finds.  At Angel + Blume, we have long been fans of Graham and Green and we are were not disappointed when we caught sight of their new collection this week. Here are just a few little interior delights that caught our eye but there are more on their website www.grahamandgreen.co.uk along with lots of old favourites. Enjoy!

Graham and Green lamp

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