Trend - Cork

Cork isn't new, far from it in fact. Cork has a distinctly retro reputation. Growing up, I remember a wall of cork tiles in our bathroom, along with a yellow floral carpet, a brown corner sofa and one of those domed pendant lights that you could raise and lower on a spiral cord - very retro. But cork has had something of a revival of late and with good reason.

As a material it has an extensive list of benefits; it’s lightweight, moisture resistant, a thermal and acoustic insulator, it’s naturally fire retardant and anti-allergenic but most importantly, it’s sustainable. When cork is harvested it is stripped from the trunk of the tree. The tree does not need to be cut down and the bark then grows back. Also, when the bark is removed the tree actually absorbs more Carbon Dioxide. Given the critical nature of our environmental situation, anything with green credentials is a winner in our opinion.

Another big benefit of cork is the price with wall tiles starting from around £18 per sqm and flooring from around £30 per sqm. It’s also very easy to fit yourself so there is the potential to save on installation costs. A wall clad entirely with pin cork looks great, is really functional and very easy to do yourself if you like a project. Wall cork comes in panels or on the roll and can be easily cut to size with a craft knife. Some panels even come with a self-adhesive backing. Accessories are always another easy, low cost way to introduce materials and there are lots of gorgeous cork products popping up on the high street. Ikea has just introduced a cork veneer to its Pax wardrobe range.

Image by Petra Bindel from Coco Lapine Design

Image by Petra Bindel from Coco Lapine Design

Choice isn't limited either. There is a huge range of cork flooring and wall cladding out there with different grain sizes, textures, colours and even cork that looks like metal and stone. We recently discovered the Organic Blocks collection by Muratto featuring three dimensional wall tiles created using new technology to mould very fine granulated cork into sculptural forms. The end product is super slick and looks equally stunning in both its natural colour or one of the fabulous colours in the range.

Swiss architects Dost recently used cork to stunning effect in its interior for the Heart Treatment Clinic in Zurich. The result is clean and fresh but has warmth and character and proves that cork can now officially consider itself contemporary.

Interior of the Heart Treatment Clinic in Zurich by Dost Architects.

Interior of the Heart Treatment Clinic in Zurich by Dost Architects.

Hexagon cork wall tiles from the Organic Blocks collection by Murrato.

Hexagon cork wall tiles from the Organic Blocks collection by Murrato.

Stone effect cork flooring by Wicanders

Stone effect cork flooring by Wicanders

White Bark cork flooring by wallsandfloors.co.uk

White Bark cork flooring by wallsandfloors.co.uk

Kirkenes cork veneer sliding wardrobe doors by Ikea

Kirkenes cork veneer sliding wardrobe doors by Ikea

Saxborga jars with cork lids and tray by Ikea £12.

Saxborga jars with cork lids and tray by Ikea £12.

Material Pendant Light in neutral cork by New Works £122.66

Material Pendant Light in neutral cork by New Works £122.66

Wall lights

When it comes to Interior Design, one of the key areas that always completes a room or changes the way a room may feel, is the lighting. It is so important to consider this early on in the design process as it can be difficult and costly to change at a later date.

We work on a number of properties that may have restrictions to what we are able to alter with regards to the ceiling lighting, therefore we look to other forms of lighting, in this case, wall lights to create dramatic alcoves, highlight artwork, add some interest to the walls or fulfil our ambient lighting requirements.

Wall lights do not have to be the simple semi circular up-lighters painted out with the wall colour or just kept plaster white, which we have seen so many times before. There are lots of interesting alternatives on the market which give us the opportunity to be a little more considered and creative.

Here are a few of our favourites to tempt you to look at something different for your walls.


Inspiration - Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is upon us and here in the office we are feeling the love. With every shop window boasting red roses, pink hearts and the like we felt it only fitting to embrace the theme.

Pink has certainly been on the scene in the world of interiors and fashion for several years now since Pantone announced Rose Quartz as it’s colour of the year back in 2016 shortly followed by the arrival of Millenial pink. Despite it’s popularity on social media, some still avoid it in the home or limit its use to girl’s bedrooms or the nursery. However, pink can look very sophisticated when paired navy blue and a pop of mustard. It’s a great accent colour against a monochromatic scheme of soft greys, which lends itself particularly well to the Scandi trend. For perfect contrast offset it with sage green. Often it is believed that pink and red are a clash but in fact a poppy red with pale pink can look stunning too.

If we’ve convinced you to give pink a go but you don’t feel brave enough dive straight in with wall-to-wall colour or a large piece of furniture try introducing a few blush accessories for an instant update. Fortunately, the high street offers a lot to choose from at the moment. Here are a few of our favourite pink picks…

Where to Start

People often say that they haven’t a clue where to start when it comes to decorating a room. A really good tip is start with a piece of artwork that you love. After all, if you like it enough to hang it on your wall then you should like the colours in your décor. And if you don’t feel confident putting colours together you can be confident that the palette will work because the artist had been through the thought process for you. Take time to really study the piece and pick out the colours carefully. Next, decide in what proportions you are going to use each colour. From there you can accurately match any fabrics and finishes to produce your scheme.

You might be surprised to learn that I myself have been procrastinating with a decorating project in my own home for some time now and by some time I mean years. It’s a complete cliché but my husband and I undertook a whole house renovation project and aimed to be in for Christmas. This also coincided with the imminent birth of our first child who was due in January. In an effort to make some quick decisions on paint colours and carpets I opted for warm, neutral tones in our bedroom. My daughter is now six years old and I have been living with this inoffensive, but frankly very dull room ever since. I bought a couple of cushions, which were supposed to be my starting point for finishing off the room but it never quite happened. Being an Interior Designer, the problem wasn’t a lack of confidence but rather a lack of focus. When you are both Designer and Client it is all too easy to keep changing the brief, but the focus I needed finally came in the form of a painting.

Our office is situated in the lovely Montpellier area of Cheltenham and we are lucky enough to share the building with local artist, Rebecca Morris. Rebecca paints beautifully atmospheric, abstract pieces inspired by landscapes and skies. She was busy working on her latest collection when I spotted it - a gorgeous painting in rich inky blues with just the merest hint of neon pink. I instantly loved it and as fate would have it, it was the perfect size. I bought it and hung it on my bedroom wall. From there building the scheme was easy, a new rug has been installed, the blanket box is in order and cushions are on the way. After years of inactivity this happened in a matter of weeks – all I needed was the inspiration.

Of course, if you're still not convinced there is no need to worry, just pick up the phone and call us, we'd be very happy to help.

A selection of Rebecca's work is currently on display in the gallery at Burford Garden Centre.

Trend - Faux Flowers

I love flowers and fauna and what they can bring to an interior can make such a difference, but I'm not green fingered and on the whole most cut flower arrangements last 7 days tops, I've lost count of the number of orchids I've been given and killed after they've finished flowering.  This is why I am obsessing over the fantastic and unusual arrangements that can be achieved with faux flowers.

There are so many blooms out there to choose from and as with fresh flowers they do vary in price depending on size and quality. A florist can create displays for you, drawing on their expertise and experience, We recently worked with local florist Eleanor from The Big Bloom Room, to create some fabulous floral displays to add the finishing touches to our client's home.

Faux flower arrangement in Entrance Hall
Faux flower arrangement in Dining room

Alternatively you can achieve your own creations with a few stems from a high street store.

Here are a few of our favourites...

Abigail Ahern  - £81.00 - The Asprington

Abigail Ahern - £81.00 - The Asprington

OKA  - £59.00 - The Batsford Lilac Bunch

OKA - £59.00 - The Batsford Lilac Bunch

Cox and Cox  - £35.00 - Three Faux Vintage Blush Hydrangeas

Cox and Cox - £35.00 - Three Faux Vintage Blush Hydrangeas

M&S  - £49.50 - Large Green Stem Arrangement

M&S - £49.50 - Large Green Stem Arrangement

Neptune  - £19 - Apple Blossom Stem

Neptune - £19 - Apple Blossom Stem

 

 

 

Trend - Marbling

Marble as a trend has been around for a while now but recently we've noticed a move on from this. Hand marbling seems to be having a moment. Hand marbling is the technique of applying ink to a liquid and transferring it to a material resulting in kaleidoscopic and quite mesmerising patterns.

Susi Bellamy's collection of fabric and wallpaper is a fabulous example of this and includes a range of cushions and lampshades allowing you to experiment with the trend in your home without making a big commitment. Clarke & Clarke have just launched a new marbling inspired design with their Pavone fabric. The Upperlands Collection by Earthed by William Clark is actually inspired by the force of water but their Torrent fabric has the same inky aesthetic and lends a contemporary twist to traditional Irish linen. A bold take on the look is Muraspec's Lava wallcovering with an oversized foil print or for something more subtle look at Designers Guild's Lustro range.

This trend works for a variety of applications be it a striking statement wall, a quirky feature chair or just a quick colourful refresh with some new scatter cushions. If you're feeling really creative why not visit artfulparent.com and maybe even have a go yourself!

Image taken from the  Susi Bellamy  Home Collection look book. 

Image taken from the Susi Bellamy Home Collection look book. 

Muraspec Update

We recently had a visit from Muraspec and we are feeling inspired! Their new digital range of wall coverings are brilliant. When budget is limited these clever designs can deliver the same look as some traditionally expensive finishes at a fraction of the cost. They can also be used where the substrate might not be suitable for the application of a natural product, due to weight for example. 

The timber and brick effects are so realistic that you could easily be fooled into thinking that you are looking at the real thing. Some of the graphic prints would be great fun in a kids bedroom or playroom and being scrubbable and hard wearing, they would be ideal for this application. For instant impact, some of the abstract designs are so gorgeous they could be made up on panels for a cost effective alternative to art canvases. The range is extensive too from beautiful ombré effects to striking geometrics and warm timbers to industrial metal tiles. Here are a few of our favourites…

 

 

Images courtesy of Muraspec.

Top 5 at Decorex 2017

There were a lot of interesting new products, fabrics and finishes shown at this year's Decorex in Syon Park, London. In no particular order, here are our Top 5 from the show.

Faolchú - Tasgal tall stool.

Faolchu_tasgal_tall_stool.png

This was a stunning item of furniture, a piece of quality craftsmanship with a modern edge. We particularly liked the consideration of the metal strip on the foot rest to prevent the timber from getting worn over time.

Giopato and Coombes - Bolle chandelier.

giopato_coombes_bolle_chandelier.png

There were a couple of things that attracted us to this piece. We thought the overall shape was stunning and we especially liked that there were no visible lamps. This deliberate design decision allows the viewer to appreciate the simplicity of the form as well as the lovely glow achieved by the lamps within the glass bubbles.

Earthed - Faded Grandeur.

earthed_by_william_clark_faded_grandeur_sperrin_jewel.png

It was lovely to see some printed fabric which looked like something we hadn't seen before. The textural, beaten appearance of the Faded Grandeur really appealed to us. The colourway Sperrin Jewel caught our eye, with its golds and garnet making it stand out as something a little bit special.

Naomi Paul - Cave Wall.

Naomi_Paul_Cave_Wall.png

Naomi's crochet shades were not only attractive and tactile but provided a beautiful glow when illuminated. The wall light we thought was particularly special - the combination of the waxed brass arm and hand crafted shade, gave it a modern retro feel.

Fenella Elms - Porcelain artwork.

Fenella_elms_wall-mounted.png

From a distance we initially thought that this was a textile piece but as we got closer we noticed that this work was made from tiny petals of porcelain. The forms created have so much movement and intrigue they become quite irresistible and hard to take your eyes off.

 

Trend - Alabaster

From our recent visit to Decorex 2017, looking through periodicals and visiting various social media pages, we have seen that there has been a real surge of interest in using Alabaster.

I hadn't really thought of using Alabaster in any of our projects before, as I felt that it had always been used in quite traditional or kitsch applications which had put me off even considering it as beautiful. I am pleased to say my opinion has changed.

One company that has been working in Alabaster since 2005 and produced stunning, tactile pieces are Atelier Alain Ellouz. Whether it be their machine manufactured designs, such as Prague or their hand carved jewels, Galet, they have captured the beauty of the stone into works of art.

Prague pendant light by Atelier Alain Ellouz

Prague pendant light by Atelier Alain Ellouz

Another company that has embraced this natural material is Heathfield. Rather than using Alabaster for it's transparency to illuminate they have produce a range of table lamp bases that show off its depth of colour and multi layering within the stone.

Azalia table lamp by Heathfield & Co

Azalia table lamp by Heathfield & Co

CTO LIghting have also embraced this trend with some of their new additions to their range. We particular like the Lucid 200 Pendant which has a modern feel with a Deco edge.

Lucid 200 Pendant by CTO Lighting

Lucid 200 Pendant by CTO Lighting

de Le Cuona Update

We've just had a visit from de Le Cuona. It's been while since we were last updated and we were not disappointed. It was a real treat to see their fantastic new collection ranging from their signature linens and paisleys to chunky tweeds and luxurious velvets.

With so many fabulous fabrics it's hard to pick a favourite although we have fallen in love with their new velvet, Vienna - a plush non directional velvet in a gorgeous earthy palette of 8 shades. We thought the navy blue was particularly special.

There was also a stunning sheer called Mistral - a beautiful washed linen with an open weave inspired by the rippling effect caused by the wind on the sea and sand dunes.

Next was the multi-talented Serenity - not only gorgeous but clever too. This demure double-sided paisley is made using an incredibly complex weaving process to produce an all over paisley on one side and the effect of a delicate line drawing on the reverse. The wool and cotton mix is also buttery-soft to touch.

We also love a multi-tonal weave and Rogue is sure to become a new workhorse in our textile toolkit - a super-smart linen and wool tweed in a mix of heather shades.

We could go on and on, but suffice to say we are smitten with the new collection and can't wait to start using these fabrics on our next project.

Clockwise from top: Meadow in Spring, Vienna in Cha Cha, Cape in Frost by de Le Cuona.

Clockwise from top: Meadow in Spring, Vienna in Cha Cha, Cape in Frost by de Le Cuona.

Clockwise from top: Vienna in Tango, Meadow in Twig, Mistral in Drizzle, Rogue in Chameleon by de Le Cuona.

Clockwise from top: Vienna in Tango, Meadow in Twig, Mistral in Drizzle, Rogue in Chameleon by de Le Cuona.

Serenity in Snow by de Le Cuona.

Serenity in Snow by de Le Cuona.

Luxury for the bathroom

Since visiting Clerkenwell Design week back in May, we can't stop obsessing over the product range by The Watermark Collection. 

Their beautiful, tactile valves and stunning finishes are making us desperate to specify on a new project, if not try and install them into our own homes. 

http://www.thewatermarkcollection.eu/

https://www.instagram.com/thewatermarkcollection/

Photo shoot - The Farm

We really enjoy when we get to the end of a project and we can photograph the finished home. It gives us great satisfaction knowing where we have come from and to finally hand it back to our clients, so they can enjoy for many years to come. 

On this project we worked with the photographer Antonia Deutsch. This was the first time we had worked together but the whole process ran smoothly and we have been very pleased with the results. 

We were very lucky that weather was kind to us, and not only did we get some beautiful photographs of the interior but some of the exterior and grounds, set in the stunning Cotswold landscape. 

To see more from the photo shoot, the full set of photos are on our website.