My Dream Christmas Gift Guide 2011


Suddenly Christmas doesn’t seem that far away and soon the shops will be awash with panic stricken shoppers hunting down the perfect present. I’ve put together a few of my favourite interiors gifts in the hope it gives you a little inspiration if you’re searching for that special something for the home… Happy shopping!

Made from linen and silk screened in France this dreamy Ombu cushion is based on a watercolour landscape by artist Haby Bonomo. Cushion, £60 at Atelier Abigail Ahern.

There are numerous scented candles available but this one makes a truly chic addition to your home with its beautiful scent. The classic design and the fact that it is called Bohemia make it a must for me. Scented candle by Byredo Parfums, £40 at Liberty.

John Derian is an artist known for making vintage inspired decoupage hip again. Who would have thought? Love paperweight £55 at Liberty.

This natural hide rug is perfect for cosying up on cold winters nights. Rug, £175 at Cox and Cox.

An illustration by Rory Dobner adds a touch of rock n roll to any interior and I particularly like his ink drawn letters. Ink drawn letter by Rory Dobner, also available at Liberty and the Shop at Bluebird.

This dinnerware is handcrafted at a South African co-operative and features lacework on every piece. Love, love,love. Wonkiware, from £13.95, available at Love it Want it Buy it.

Being an interior decorator, stylist and life long resident of Hackney, it has been impossible to miss the rise and rise of the hip new brand House of Hackney. Their Dalston Rose and Queen Bee textiles are favourites of mine while their Hackney Empire wallpaper is stunning. Dalston Rose luxury bed linen from £149 at House of Hackney.

Put an end to unsightly filing at home with these beautiful box files that look like vintage books. Vintage style box files, from £18.95 at Graham & Green.

Everyone needs a sturdy and stylish leather bag to carry and this one is gorgeous and good value. Savannah leather shopping tote, £89.95 from Handpicked Collection.

Talya Baldwin is a rising star on the art scene, with her illustrations soon to appear on clothing for Sienna Miller’s label twenty8twelve. Look out for her beautiful drawings on several other high profile interiors brands soon. Bird illustration by Talya Baldwin.

I love natural materials and nothing beats the ethereal beauty of deer antlers. Now you can enjoy them with every glass of wine. A beautiful addition to any dinner party table. Antler Bottle Stop, £28 from Whippet Grey.

This Louis XV earthenware ceramic collection references the elegance of Louis style but the earthy tones and chunky feel give it a contemporary edge. Ceramics, from £7.50 at The French House.

Perfect for snuggling under on the sofa or thrown over a bed, this chunky knitted blanket and cushion look chic and add great texture too. Bailey blanket and cushion, £300 from The White Company.

A romantic French mirror adds real wow factor to any room and is a great investment piece. I could have one in every room. Based in France, antique dealer Rosemary will source pieces by request and is very reasonably priced. Antique French trumeau mirror, £595 from Rosemary Conquest Antiques.

Nothing else compliments a stunning antique mirror better than a beautiful chandelier. Add an instant dose of glamour and sparkle with this stunning example from one of my favourite shops. Ballroom chandelier, £550 at Atelier Abigail Ahern.

Another soft and luxurious throw, this time in silky velvet. I can see a theme developing here – must be this sudden cold weather! Nitin Goyal velvet throw, £300 from Heals.

I love birds and find myself drawn to anything that features a beautiful bird perched on it. This cushion fits the bill perfectly. Hummingbird Linen cushion, £70 from Natural History.

I adore this egg cup. I’m hoping it mind find its way under my tree…. Peacock eggcup, £10.95 Liberty.

This diary is fabulous. Jonathan Saunders for Smythson limited edition Soho diary 2012, £295 at Smythson.

Flower power



Photo credits: D Magazine, Beth Lane via Miss Moss, Mariedal Peony cushion from the autumn 2011 collection by Designers Guild, knickers by Hopeless via Miss Moss, love seat upholstered in Dalston Rose by House of Hackney, floral dress, Stella McCartney Resort Collection 2011

Wallpapers in first image: Mariedal by Designers Guild (ID Collection); Magnolia by Cole & Son (Lee Jofa); Bosquet panel print by Designers Guild (ID Collection); Knockout Roses from the Newlon Collection by Bettinger Studio (David Sutherland); Iris by Cole & Son (Lee Jofa); Lonsdale by Jane Churchill for Cowtan & Tout (Culp Associates); Rossana by Jane Churchill for Cowtan & Tout (Culp Associates)

My Sunday in East London


Sunday is probably my favourite day of the week. Living in Hackney in East London, we are lucky to be in an area that comes alive on Sundays with fantastic markets, art galleries, fabulous vintage shops and lots of things to do. Of course, all this means I am in heaven whenever I have time to roam the galleries, markets and shops so today we took our favourite route through London Fields towards Brick Lane.

We started at Hackney City Farm. My one-year-old son loves to go and see the chickens, ducks, pigs and lambs and the farm cafe Frizzante does fabulous home cooked food. Today I had a mozzarella and roasted vegetable salad and my fiance, who is a total foody, had a rabbit and pancetta terrine. Both were delicious.


Our next stop was Columbia Road Flower Market, which is one of my favourite markets. I love to see what new art they have in the galleries and of course, as you will know if you are a regular reader of this blog, I also love fresh flowers and anything vintage so you can see why I love it. We’re so lucky to have it nearby and I buy fresh flowers every Sunday.

Nelly Duff is a lovely little art gallery on Columbia Road that sells work by some of our friends. I pop in every Sunday and see what they have – there is always something I love.

How do you decide what to buy when everything is so beautiful? I bought peonies this week as they are in season and one of my favourite flowers. I like to make the most of them when they are in season because in a month or so they will be gone…

We spent ages in Brick Lane today as I’m looking for a vintage dress to wear to my friend’s wedding in a couple of weeks. While I was there, I saw two amazing Victorian prints of two couples in love, one with the word ‘Betrothed’ underneath and one with the word ‘Wedded’. Perhaps it was a sign! I should have taken a photograph, but sadly I didn’t. I wish I’d bought them now. They were only £25 each. I don’t think they would have been right as a present for my friend so I couldn’t use that as an excuse and I am always buying things that I have nowhere to put, so I left them behind but now I regret it!

Cheshire Street off Brick Lane has several great design and vintage shops that are definitely worth checking out. If you haven’t explored this part of London then I highly recommend it. Broadway Market, Redchurch Street and Shoreditch are also worth exploring if you’re ever in the area. There are lots of great shops, cafes, galleries and restaurants to discover.

I hope you had a lovely Sunday too.

Royal wedding fever


With the royal wedding only two weeks away, the shops are awash with William and Kate memorabilia. And its not merely the preserve of tacky tourist outlets either – top designers have created some brilliant products from the tongue-in-cheek to the totally serious.

From the Simon Farrar tote bag to this brilliant print by a friend of ours, James Brown, you too can bag yourself a little bit of royal wedding nostalgia while still retaining your design credentials. I love the cup and saucer, available at Liberty.

As for the royal wedding mug from Guandong Enterprises, featuring the wrong prince… well, I leave it up to you to decide if this is a genuine mistake by a clueless Chinese exporter or a clever design gimmick… the debate rages on. Either way, it’s all good fun.

Now, where did I leave my invitation?

Liberty Open Call – Britain’s Next Big Thing


I really enjoyed watching Britain’s Next Big Thing on BBC2 last night. Fronted by Theo Paphitis, it could have ended up as a Dragon’s Den for designers, but instead the programme highlighted the difficulties designers face getting their products into top stores and showcased how much fabulous design talent we have in Britain. Admittedly there were also some cringe-worthy and comedy moments such as the middle aged man in a glittering jock strap, the stuffed lamb in a box and the necklace consisting of various bits of junk welded together, but this was entertainment after all.

Liberty, a retail mecca for any design lover, invited anyone (literally anyone) with a great product to come and sell their idea in a five minute pitch to the discerning buying team at the London store. More than 600 people queued from dawn to present their ideas to the Liberty team and the result was a fascinating insight into the buying department of one of the most respected design stores in the world. Ed Burstell, Liberty’s Head of Buying, made compulsive viewing with his combination of acid wit, commercial savvy, impeccable taste and fabulous personal style. I was pleased to see David Nicholls, who was my editor at the Telegraph Magazine, as one of the judges alongside the Liberty staff, as his impeccable taste and eye for design are well respected in the design industry. David also champions British design in his weekly column ‘Made in Britain’ and has curated an exhibition at Liberty, so is well qualified to pass judgment on the interiors products that made it through those imposing Arts and Craft doors.

These are some of the designers whose beautiful products made it into the Liberty store…


Ayshire carpenter Thomas Hopkins-Gibson had only been producing ceramics for a year when he brought his designs along to the Liberty Open Call. He had lost his job a few years previously and decided to retrain, completing an art degree at the age of forty. His turned wooden bowls and ceramics inspired by drift wood, are breathtakingly beautiful.

Richard Weston cut an eccentric figure as a professor of architecture who had discovered he could digitally reproduce amazing images of ammonite and natural minerals on silk.  The result was beautiful organic shapes with vivid swirls of colour, perfectly suited to large silk scarves and therefore perfect for Liberty.

Charlotte Sale’s stunning hand crafted glass bowls were a hit with the Liberty team. Her dynamic creations are visually arresting and are sure to become collectable pieces of art.

Last week saw the return of Liberty’s Open Call and you can see how it went here via YouTube:

A further date for this year has been added and you can pitch your product to the Liberty buyers on 20th August 2011. Best of luck!