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Maria Sigma’s Handwoven Designs – The Beauty of Sustainable Craftsmanship

I have always been interested in hand made individually crafted designs and brands produced locally in the UK. Over the last few months I have become familiar with quite a few really interesting UK brands that I would like to start introducing to you on my blog. London Design Fair was a really good place to meet talented crafts people. This is where I saw Maria’s beautiful textiles.

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Maria Sigma | Woven Textiles is a London based award-winning textile brand specialising in hand-woven textiles. By using exceptional natural materials Maria creates textiles and furniture pieces for projects large and small, commercial and residential, combining expertise in made-to-measure throws, cushions, rugs, furnishing fabrics and many more.

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Maria Sigma | Woven Textiles collection celebrates a timeless high aesthetic via ‘zero waste’ design and production ethic, combining a contemporary approach with traditional weaving techniques whilst focusing on raw natural materials and texture. Individually designed, handcrafted and fully customisable.

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Inspired by her Greek heritage and by the colour palette of the British landscape, in combination with a love for maths and craftsmanship, Maria makes vibrant, yet minimal, contemporary textiles that creatively interpret long-established traditional craft techniques and styles. By emphasising the raw quality of the materials and texture and removing any superfluous elements, her work pays close attention to usability and aims at producing high-quality luxurious interior products designed to become timeless heirlooms.

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High quality and sustainable natural fibres (British wool) are key to the philosophy of her work, in which the aspiration for textile longevity through simplicity and sensibility is essential. Weaving is her way of putting the everyday chaos in order with a view to making something honest and beautiful out of it.

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Maria’s love for textiles started while she was studying Conservation of Art Works in Athens. Through her studies of Textile Conservation she had the opportunity to come across exceptional textile historical pieces and get in depth knowledge of different techniques of textile making and fibres.

In 2010 Maria decided to come to London and do a second degree in Textile Design, specialising in handweaving at Chelsea College. During her degree in London and after having the basic knowledge of how to use a dobby loom and basic weave structures, she discovered how much more she enjoyed playing with texture. It magically made sense why she was using her fingers to draw instead of a brush – it was all about texture! She gradually started removing colour and focusing on texture. Not only because it is much more sustainable to use undyed yarns and matches with her ‘zero waste’ philosophy, but also because it was challenging to aim to make something beautiful with totally different rules. With a lack of colour. Or, at least, what she thought colour was all about, until then.

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After graduation Maria received the Cockpit Arts | ‘Clothworkers’ Foundation Award for two years (2015 & 2016) where she enjoyed the provision of studio space and business support and she started setting up her own Textile Design business as a professional weaver under the label ‘Maria Sigma | Woven Textiles’. In 2017 she achieved investment support from The Prince’s Trust and Virgin Start-Up Scheme and with their support she invested in a new floor Dobby loom and officially launched as Maria Sigma | Woven Textiles.

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Her vision is to have a sustainable creative craft-based business. In the next two years she aspires setting up her own weaving studio/showroom and space for workshops. Her goal is to sell one-off pieces through small high-end boutique shops and galleries, and collaborate with interior design studios for bespoke commissioned work. Among her plans is to collaborate with furniture makers and create together a series of upholstered hand-made furniture.

On top of her standard collection of hand-woven products she also offers textile design and colour consultation services to individuals and professionals for interior spaces but not limited to it.

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So far she had the honour to collaborate with exceptional interior designers, architects, fashion designers, magazines and galleries such as Susie Atkinson Interior Design Studio where they created bespoke big-scale Ottomans for Beaverbrook Country Club; and MAKE the new gallery space for craft of Hauser & Wirth Somerset where she participated at the inaugural exhibition with a series of one-off Wall Hangings.

Wool is Maria’s material of choice because of its excellent qualities. A natural insulator, multi-climatic, long-life, non-allergic and odour resistant material, it is also renewable and biodegradable, which makes it the ideal raw-material for human and environment friendly textiles. Because wool is a living, breathing ‘smart’ fibre, it improves the air in enclosed spaces, improves sleep, provides comfort and ensures safety. By choosing wool you’re already obtaining a product made from a renewable source, that’s naturally durable and requires less chemical cleaning than other fibres and when it comes to the end of its long and useful life it is completely biodegradable.

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Maria runs regular Frame Weaving Workshops.

The workshops are usually a 4-hour class designed to give students a thorough and intensive grounding in hand-weaving. Students will learn foundational weaving skills, such as warping, loom set up, colour blending and structure, and basic weaving techniques and patterns. The aim of the class is to not only cover a wide range of styles but also encourage the student to develop his/her own distinctive voice as a weaver. You can make a small wall hanging, pieces for a patchwork, a clutch bag or an abstract artwork, and plenty more.

Frame weaving is the best first step for someone to get familiar with what weaving is, learn the terminology and how to use tools and equipment. It is also great for someone who wants to create fibre art pieces. All materials will be provided. A small wooden frame loom, weaving tools and instructions booklet will be also provided in a recycled-cotton pouch to take home.

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Maria’s next Weaving from Waste Workshop will be taking place on 17th February at Craft Central. You can find details of the venue and pricing on Maria’s website.

On 23rd February she will be running Frame Weaving Workshop from Waste at Harvey Nichols. You can buy tickets for this workshop here.

Some more dates for your diary:

18 – 23 February – pop-up  shop with The Maiyet Collective.

From 21st March Maria will be participating in Why Craft Matters? exhibition at Harewood House. More details here.

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www.mariasigma.com / instagram: mariasigma.woventextiles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Design Classic: Snoopy Table Lamp by Flos

Today I’ve decided to write about one of my favourite design classics – Snoopy lamp. I absolutely love it’s chunky simple form somehow in contrast with the luxurious material – quite an interesting choice of marble. The lamp was designed in 1967 by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni and inspired by the Charles Shultz invention, and popular cartoon character.

 

 

Let’s enjoy a few images of the lamp in situ which prove versatility of this iconic design.

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Image – AD Magazine, interior design -Lecoadic Scotto

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Scott Schuman’s (The Sartorialist) and Jenny Walton’s New York apartment

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Image – Louise, www.mortilmernee.dk

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Image – Henrik Nero

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Image – Sedsel Roug

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Image – Olivier Amsellem

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Image – Tina Seidenfaden Busck, www.theapartment.dk

Skandium Pop Up Sale

13 Margaret St, London W1W 8RN

Saturday 2nd February, 10.30am-6pm
Sunday 3rd February, 10.30am-6pm

Join Skandium’s second pop-up sale!  Shop warehouse clearance, ex-display and discontinued lines with up to 70% off!

Brands included: Fritz Hansen, Gubi, Iittala, Marimekko, Muuto, Menu, Louis Poulsen, HAY, Carl Hansen & Søn, String, Vitra, Knoll, Montana, Flos & more…

Best Statement Chandeliers on a Budget

In my opinion great lighting is worth splashing out on – especially a centrepiece chandelier. It’s like shoes or a handbag in an outfit. You can spend more money on a show stopping item of lighting and then save on other pieces. The eye will be drawn to it and the overall look will be finished and expensive. With a chandelier, in my opinion, the bigger the better, ceiling height allowing of course. There is nothing worse than a lamp too small for the room hanging lonely in the middle of the ceiling. Fortunately, there is no shortage of oversized designs that are very much a trend at the moment. Finding one on a limited budget is another thing!

If I had unlimited funds I’d probably go for amazing mid century Italian designs like Venini or Stilnovo. But what options are open to us if we can’t afford these classics or expensive contemporary designers?

I decided to have a look around and see what can be found on a more modest budget. Unfortunately a large centrepiece chandelier is unlikely to be a complete bargain and would still be an investment on any level. But if there are going to be only a few most important purchases for your house, I think a chandelier should be one of them. My main principle when researching the lights for this post was to keep well within £1,000 and in most cases around £500 and below.

Here is what I have found.

West Elm

West Elm’s sphere chandeliers are great if you want to go for size and create as much impact as possible with your chandelier. The good thing also is that they make them in a variety of sizes to fit different rooms. They even have a small 2 light one for a hallway. They are also relatively affordable.

Champignon Chandelier £499 / Sphere + Stem 3-Light Chandelier – Brass £329 / Sphere + Stem 7-Light Chandelier – Brass £499 / Sphere + Stem 6-Light Chandelier – Brass £499

Pooky

I really like Starsky chandelier and have been considering it for my bedroom. It’s as close to vintage as it gets in my opinion and I am still deciding whether to wait around for the real thing or go for this one. It’s on much smaller scale and would suit more intimate spaces like a bedroom.

Starsky Chandelier £430 / Bow Tie 3 Arm Chandelier £310 / Orb Chandelier £435 

Abigail Ahern

Well, these are actually at the top end price wise but they are quite special (I find Todi particularly interesting), so I had to include them.

Sicile Chandelier £695 / Todi Chandelier £775Amelia Chandelier £695

Herstal

Manola chandelier by Swedish brand Herstal is available to buy through Royal Design website. I think it is a really good value for money and could be become a centrepiece placed in a living room or over a dining table and its’ clean lines would suit more minimalist, contemporary, scandi interiors. The size is good for smaller rooms too.

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Manola 12 Chandelier £347

Holloways of Ludlow

I live not far from one of Holloways of Ludlow shops and pop in there occasionally. They stock such a nice selection of lighting and homeware that it’s always a please to browse. Their online shop offers a huge range of lighting and I managed to find these that fit my brief.

Dahl chandelier looks a bit like Manola but I also like its’ randomness and it’s available a variety of metals – brass, chrome, copper and black.

They are all at 15% discount (the prices I’ve mentioned below), so more affordable at the moment.

Dahl random chandelier £335.75 / Skye glass ribbon chandelier £612 (large) / Celestial chandelier £555.90 / Celestial chandelier £611.15

Heal’s

Heal’s are also still running a 15% discount and I think this design combining bronze, black and white round bulbs looks really great and remind me so much of Stilnovo lights!

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Balance multi arm chandelier black £339

Menu

Scandinavian brand Menu offers a selection of timeless designs through their collaborations with a number of prominent designers and architects. Some items are more expensive but some are actually quite affordable like this Franklin chandelier available on madeindesign.com online shop at £30% discount. I would also see how it would look with white bulbs instead of clear ones for a less industrial look. The shape would look good positioned low in the corner of a room rather than the middle.

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Franklin chandelier pendant £349.97

Graham and Green

On Graham and Green website I found another variation on the mid-century theme of oversized opal globes.

Columbus pendant £560 / Columbo pendant £350

Jonathan Adler

Now, Jonathan Adler chandeliers would normally be definitely out of my price range and sadly it probably still is, but with the current discount it costs £697 instead of £995, so for some of you it might be of interest. This one is a more modest size, but I love its’ shape. I have to say it reminds so much of a similar Apparatus design which I definitely would not be able to afford, that this one somehow seems more within reach.

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Caracas six-light chandelier £697

The White Company

Another good option for those with a more classic taste. I like its’ delicate cylinder glass drops.

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Helston chandelier large ceiling light £425

BHS

And this one is quite a revelation and a discovery made thanks to lovely Caz from Beetle and Wilde. On her Instagram I noticed a photo of her bedroom with Hol chandelier that looked amazing. I thought it was a vintage or a really expensive piece. I couldn’t believe it was from BHS. This is definitely a bargain! If, like in my house, your ceiling is not heigh enough for this chandelier, I have found a couple of alternatives for a similar price.

Hol ceiling pendant £150 / Doral ceiling light £190 / Avanti chandelier £180

Etsy

If like me you are a fan of Venini, the bad news is that I don’t know anywhere where you could buy cheap Venini. But Etsy would be a good place to look at original vintage items. To my surprise there is a good selection of vintage Murano chandeliers at affordable prices. Obviously they are all one offs and selection will be constantly changing but below I have chosen a few lights to show you what you could get in the range of £300 – £500.

I hope this post will make your search for the right lighting for your home a lot less painful and little bit more fun!

Top Finds From The Winter Sales

I can’t believe how time has flown over Christmas this year. Everything seemed to have been such a rush and now it’s almost mid January.

In the past few days I decided to explore if there are any good deals and bargains around as it looks like the sales are already coming to an end and there have been final reductions. So it’s a good time to have one last look and I am bringing you my capsule collection of finds. My main objective was to look for real bargains, massively discounted, but useful and beautiful and not something you would regret buying for the only reason of being cheap.

First of all, winter sales are really good for stocking up on next year’s Christmas supplies. You can get decorations at ridiculous prices! I found a bunch of really nice ones at West Elm, reduced to £1 from original prices of up to £19. Some of them don’t even look that Christmassy and I could use them to decorate my daughter’s room all year round, like that mini tapestry, which is actually bigger than you’d think.

Secondly, winter sales are also great for stocking up on presents, even as far ahead as next Christmas, especially smaller presents for friends and family.

Anthropologie is one of my favourites in this respect. They are known for their extensive choice of ceramics and other household items in bright floral, ethnic and quirky patterns. You can have a good rummage around and find some real bargains, like those canapé plates and a set of mugs below.

I also discovered Tala bulbs on sale at half price on their website. This is a really good price. If you have any bare bulbs in your home that were so fashionable a few years ago but you might not be in love with them any more, the matt white colour and unusual shape will make them look more like lamp shades rather than bare bulbs and will completely change the look from industrial to more sophisticated.

BOSC chair at this price is a real find. Its’ simple midcentury forms and a hint of minimal colour mean it will effortlessly fit into a contemporary home and will last a long time. And the huge discount makes it so much more affordable.

It’s good to note that Anthropologie’s flagship store in Regent street also has a large discounted items section that is open all year round.

Friendly Face Canapé Plate £2.95 was £10.00 | Set of 2 Poppy King & Queen Mugs £9.95 was £30.00 | Tala Oval Bulb £39.95 was £80.00 | BOSC Paleta Armchair  £389.95 was £1,298.00

Heal’s

If you need a large item of lighting or furniture for your home it makes sense waiting for the sales. Shops like Heal’s, Conran and others all run their seasonal reductions of around 10 – 15% on pretty much the whole selection. I popped into Heal’s a couple of days ago and found a few items reduced by a lot more – 30 – 40%. If you are on the look out for a floor lamp, there is quite a good selection at very good prices. I think Milton is my favourite.

Heal’s Mini Lounge Floor Lamp £209 was £349 | Curve Task Lamp £49 was £99 | Hayden Floor Lamp £195 was £279 | Milton Floor Lamp £179 was £299

Ferm Living

If you’ve been eyeing that special something from Ferm Living collection now is the time to go ahead and buy it. The item you are after might be in their sale at up to 50% off.

Below is a selection of what I’d put onto my wish list.

Cloud Bedding Rose – Adult now £40 |Tin Boxes – Marble (Set of 3) now£14.50 |Colour Block Bed Cover – Rose now £69.50 | Wire Basket – Mint – Medium now£31 | Quilt Cushion now£39.50 | Fruiticana Pear Roly Poly now £26.25

West Elm

And finally, my selection from West Elm. I decided to include Geo Shade Chandelier for you because it is such a good price and its’ elongated shape works so well over a dining table.

I have to say that the rest is pretty much my personal shopping list. I am currently on the hunt for a runner and Moroccan rug is what I’ve been planning to buy all along. This rug is a lot cheaper that the original Moroccan rugs I was looking at on Etsy. It’s on special offer at the moment which makes it even more attractive. I have also been looking for a tall mirror for my upstairs corridor and I discovered the choice out there is not huge. Frameless floor mirror is a little smaller than what I was hoping for but a great price and I realised looking at it in the store that even though this mirror is only 122cm long you can still see your full height through it. The arched mirror is still not cheap but it’s 180cm long and as I said the choice of full length mirror is pretty limited in my experience. There are vast numbers of round mirrors at the moment though, and I love and have them at home. But for getting dressed I would love to feel like I am in a fitting room and can see my outfit from all angles.

Fabric Geo Shade Chandelier £79.95 was £249 | Metal Framed Arched Floor Mirror £299 was £499 | Soul Wool Rug £139 was £199 | Frameless Floor Mirror £69.95 was £249

So, this is it for now. I am trying to make up my mind at the moment about the runner and the mirrors. Did you find anything you liked? If you spotted any incredible bargains, share with us, I am always curious to know.

 

Olive & The Fox Warehouse Sale

For those of you living in East Sussex, or maybe even further afield, you might be interested to know that an online lighting, furniture and giftware shop Olive & The Fox will be holding their annual warehouse sale next Sunday 13th January 10am – 2pm.

Up to 90% off ex-display and discontinued Lighting, Furniture & Giftware. First come, first served.

Unit 6, Squires Farm Industrial Estate, Palehouse Common, Framfield, East Sussex, TN22 5RB.

For an extra 10% off sale prices on the day follow this link to a warehouse sale voucher.

olive & the fox sample sale

Happy shopping!

olive & the fox

Decorating For Christmas With Florist Lucy Lister

This week I have been fortunate to speak to a very talented florist Lucy Lister and get some tips we can all use to make our home Christmas ready with foliage and plants. 

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Lucy Lister making a delivery for Dame Judy Dench

Lucy started her floristry business 4 years ago following a little career break having her children.

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She has always worked in the events industry and was eager not to go back to the long, unsociable hours and stress. “Although not sure getting up at 4am for the flower market is the most social of hours!” she comments. She has always been creative and loved flowers and had worked on a few weddings so training to be a florist seemed an obvious career change for her. 

Following her training at the Judith Blacklock Flower School in Knightsbridge Lucy took the plunge and opened a little flower stall in Crystal Palace, South East London. She felt super nervous as she had never done anything like this before but with the help of a super talented florist friend Janine they wowed the locals with their seasonal, beautiful blooms.

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Family life/ work balance and the physical strains of an outdoor stall did take its toll after a while (winters are not much fun standing outside in the freezing cold for 8 hours) so Lucy decided to give up her stall and concentrate on weddings and contract work and she now also teaches in her little studio at the end of her garden.

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Her work/family balance is much healthier and she absolutely loves it.

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Christmas is one of the busiest seasons for a florist but Lucy says it’s one of her favourites – just the smell of the eucalyptus and pine conjures up the essence of the season.

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Some winter bouquets created by Lucy

As well as making door wreaths to order Lucy also runs cosy little workshops for up to 5 people at a time where she shows how to make a wreath from scratch on a mossed ring.

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I was lucky to be able to take part in one of Lucy’s workshops recently. Lucy uses fresh, seasonal foliage and flowers and a huge selection of adornments such as orange slices, cinnamon sticks, pine cones, peacock feathers…. The result was a beautiful fragrant creation full of various types of eucalyptus mixed together, spruce, cypresse, thistle, waxflower, berries and more – I prefer these subtle flowers and foliage to the traditional Christmas colours.

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Lucy Lister workshop 3

I was really impressed and so did everybody else in the group with what we all managed to achieve under Lucy’s supervision and following her instructions. The two hour session flew by accompanied by a glass of bubbly, minced pies, Christmas songs to put us in the mood and some lovely chit chat. I am now confident I will be able to create my own wreath next year and particularly excited that it’s one more fun family activity I can do with my kids, and usually I struggle for ideas!

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The workshops are finished for this season and were pretty much sold out so I would recommend putting an early reminder for next year to make sure you secure a place.

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So wreath taken care of, what else does Lucy do to prepare her home for Christmas?

“I think the Tree is my favourite Christmas tradition and I love nothing more than to decorate it with my girls. We have a giant 8ft in the lounge and a smaller one in our dining room as we tend to live most in this room.  I vaguely keep to colour schemes, lots of gold and red for the lounge, including some vintage patchwork ones which my mum has handed down to me and we always buy at least one new decoration every year as I simply can’t resist! As we have a dark blue wall in the dining room I keep the decorations in there silver, white and blue… it just feels a bit more modern,” explains Lucy.

“There really is no end to what you can do at Christmas, weaving a lovely pine garland through a staircase bannister and adding in some pine cones, orange slices and cinnamon sticks, as well as looking fantastically festive for your guests when they enter it will fill your hall with those evocative smells of Christmas.”

“Don’t be afraid to mix up the real and artificial. Fresh garlands can be pricy so why not buy a good quality artificial garland and add some real eucalyptus, cypresse  and other fresh foliages to create some really lovely textures,” she suggests.

“Another popular feature to decorate is a fireplace, I love lots of tea lights and candles and I cut some cotoneaster from the garden and entwine it around or arrange in a lovely vase. Really simple but so effective,” says Lucy.

“Finally your Christmas table wouldn’t be complete without a lovely table centre around a pillar candle. I make these in a little floral foam and use whatever Christmassy foliage I have around. Berries, thistles, pinecones all look great and will be sure to be a conversation starter amongst family and friends when the big day comes.”

Lucy LIster candle

Insta: lucylisterflowers /www.lucylisterflowers.co.uk

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House Tour: Hertfordshire Home of Interior Designer Alison Anderson

I am really excited to introduce to you a very talented interior designer Alison Anderson and to show you around her beautifully refurbished Grade II listed Arts & Crafts Hertfordshire home.

ALISON ANDERSON HEADSHOTAlison is a relative new comer to the interior design world, having set up her own practice in the summer of this year, however, she has been immersed in interiors and home products for the past 15 years while running her own interiors PR business.  She is a very creative person and a lot of the skills she has picked up over the years turned out to be completely transferable. She felt interior design was what she was most passionate about, so she decided to take a side step into it. 

After finishing her house she was becoming increasingly frustrated that she had to suddenly switch off her design instinct. She has no intention of moving from this house to complete another renovation project, so a career change was the only option.

Alison designed this house for the way that they live as a family and for the house.  “This house is special so I felt our job was to preserve the original features and renovate it sympathetically.”  This didn’t mean that they wanted it to be like a museum, but instead use quality craftsmanship and good quality fixtures and fittings.  “When you have a listed property you are almost like guardians, looking after it for future generations to enjoy”, she explains.  They completely renovated the house as it hadn’t been touched since the 80’s and was full of brown shag pile carpets, a dodgy beige bathroom and walls covered in woodchip wallpaper. 

You can see a couple of “before” picture below.

She has made a feature of the leaded French doors and windows in the living room by painting them in Farrow and Ball’s Downpipe.  The skirtings, doors and architraves are also painted in this shade for a cohesive look.  She has made sure that all the colours go tonally, so there is a real sense of flow as you move through the house.  Every room is painted in a different colour, but they all complement each other, so it’s a peaceful, natural transition from one room to the next.

Alison Anderson Living Room

Photo by Paul Craig

The family bathroom is small but it incorporates everything Alison loves.  The cabinet is an eBay find which she has combined with good quality unlacquered brass taps from Waterworks as they are so much easier to clean than shiny chrome taps!  The patterned cement floor tiles are from Bert & May.  “I love the pop of bright blue and even painted the edge of the door in the same shade.  I discovered Zellinge tiles a few years ago on a location shoot and absolutely love the variation in tone and texture (these ones are from Mosaic Del Sur).”  She didn’t want the bathroom to be too matchy, so chose a shower curtain in a peachy pink to complement and introduce another pop of colour.

Alison Anderson bathroom

Photo by Paul Craig

 

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Alison loves so many things about design but good lighting is one of her biggies.  “It can really transform the look and feel of a room, so I really concentrated on getting this right for each room”, says Alison.  She learnt early on in her renovation work that if you leave it up to the electricians you’ll get a row of lights in a straight line.  Where ceilings are low she used ceiling hooks to retain longer flexes, wall lights are used to wash the surfaces in light, recessed spotlights provide functional task lighting and there are lamps everywhere (which all get used depending on the atmosphere she wants to create). The vaulted ceilings upstairs meant that she could use huge dramatic pendants for maximum impact.

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Photo by Paul Craig

Alison feels really lucky to live in this house as it’s been so well designed architecturally.  It’s a Butterfly Suntrap design, which is typical of the Arts & Crafts period and means that the wings of the house are constructed at an angle.  As the names suggest, it captures all the light.  Renovating the house has been a labour of love.  It was pretty neglected when they bought it, with a leaking roof, a very old, uneconomical boiler and a garden full of brambles and weeds.  It’s been worth all the time, effort and money though and she has learnt so much along the way.

I wanted to find out more about challenges Alison faced renovating a Grade II listed property. 

“We took a bit of a gamble when we bought this house as it had a massive 70 foot conifer right outside the living room window.  We are in a conservation area, so there was a chance that we wouldn’t be able to remove it.  Luckily permission was granted, so taking that down was a priority”, she remembers. 

Alison renovated a few properties but for this house they also added a kitchen extension.  As the house is listed it took them a while to get planning permission, but they had a very good architect who knew the system, so he was a great help.  For this property sourcing the right, good quality materials was essential.  There was a point when they thought they would have to have single glazing in the new extension which would have been a disaster.  However, they managed to source an excellent double glazed leaded window, which the listed building officer signed off.  It was touch and go though.

“There are always challenges when doing up a property, so being a good problem solver and thinking on your feet are essential skills.  We had an issue with the new kitchen roof, which meant that it had to be redone. As a consequence the kitchen installation date was delayed, which is the last thing you want during a renovation project.  The key to a successful building project is to be super organised, a step ahead of everything and be a quick learner.”

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Photo by Paul Craig

I asked Alison what things she would recommend splashing out on and where she would consider saving and looking out for a bargain.

As a general rule she likes to splash out on things that you touch.  For her cheap door handles are a definite no no as they just don’t have the weight or solidness of well made alternatives.  Taps are also really important, so it’s worth splashing out here and then spending less on the sanitary ware.  If the homeowners are staying in the property for a number of years, Alison recommends it’s always worth investing in the fabric of the building. 

She suggests saving by buying good quality second hand furniture, desks, tables, chairs and so on.   “If you want to dress a sofa, The Designers Guild sales are amazing.  If you pop into one of their stores on the last few days, they are practically giving their cushions away.  Getting them all back on the tube isn’t so enjoyable!”

Alison also loves mixing vintage finds with more modern pieces. For her, this is how you give a space some depth, grounding and a sense of belonging.  She believes an old piece of furniture can tell so many stories and help to make a home feel lived in and not overly perfect.  “The old stuff is also really well made compared to the mass produced items of today.  You can get some real bargains so it’s always worth keeping an eye out on eBay, Gumtree and any local house clearance shops.  I found a large solid oak side table on eBay for £50 and bought two large oak lamp bases for £10 at a car boot sale.  They needed rewiring and new lampshades (which I got from Pooky) but even with these costs they were an absolute bargain.   I am also rather proud of the 1950’s footstool that I got for £10.  I recovered it in some spare House of Hackney material and it looks a million dollars.” 

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Photo by Paul Craig

Alison’s advice to anybody looking for a bargain is to be patient and keep looking until you find something you love.  “Reupholstering a chair can be expensive (but very rewarding), so think about the costs involved before you get carried away.  Always try and see the potential in something; new handles, a lick of paint or sometimes just a thorough clean, can be really transformative.”

Rather than buying cheap new stuff, she recommends waiting for the sales and buying more expensive items that are reduced.  “The Anthropologie sales are fantastic (sign up for their newsletters to find out when they are running.)  I am also a fan of sample  sales.  Nearly all of the House Of Hackney material I’ve bought has been about 70% cheaper than the retail price.  It’s a bit of a scrum to get the good stuff, so go early on the first day to get the best pickings.”

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Photo by Paul Craig

I noticed lots of beautiful mirrors in Alison’s home and wanted to find out where she sourced them from. 

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Alison is a bit obsessed with mirrors, for her they are like hanging artwork.  She likes to choose different shapes, frames and glass finishes.  She places them so they reflect the light and always so they are facing something of interest, so that becomes the image in the reflection.  Most of her mirrors are from Abigail Ahern.  She says that Rough Old Glass are also brilliant and make bespoke mirrors using a fantastic range of antique glass finishes.

Alison Anderson Anthropologie Mirror

Photo by Paul Craig

The mirror in the photo above is from Anthropologie.  The frame is antique but the antiqued glass is new.  It was eye-wateringly expensive, but she got it in the sale for a fraction of the price.

So where is Alison drawing inspiration from for her design work? What interior design styles appeal to her most and what design elements does she consider most important? “I don’t like anything that is too perfect”, she explains.  “For me its about using simple materials imaginatively and not creating an overly ‘designed’ look.  A well designed space should tell the story of the people who live there, not the designer.  I find inspiration anywhere and everywhere; nature, books, museums, art galleries, films, along with the more obvious Instagram and Pinterest. Sometimes the problem is having too many ideas. Restaurants and bars are also brilliant places to find inspiration, especially the toilets!”

Alison works with clients in Hertfordshire and London, but will work further afield for the right project.  In the new year she is also going to be spending a few days per week working from Russell J Milligan’s studio, which is just down the road from her. “Russell is incredibly talented and a master at making bespoke kitchens and fitted furniture, so I’m looking forward to our future design collaborations”, she says. 

Follow Alison on Instagram for more inspirational images of her home and useful design tips – @alisonandersoninteriors

Featured image photo by Paul Craig. 

 

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Design Best Christmas Gift Shop – Luxury Homeware Brands at 70% Off

A multi-brand Christmas gift shop with a difference opens 13 – 16 December at the Old Truman Brewery. Expect beautiful homeware and accessories from the likes of Hay, Tom Dixon, Anglepoise and many more discounted up to 70%.

The products have been hand-selected by Design Best for their gift-ability and include candle holders, cushions, throws, trays, containers, lights and small furniture from some of the best brands in the homeware world. Everything will be discounted from 30% to 70% and will be small enough to carry home or fit in a taxi.

13 – 16 December 11am – 9pm, Sunday until 6pm

8 Dray Walk, Old Truman Brewery, E1 6QL

Design Best was founded by Jessica Hatch and Helen Arvanitakis a year ago with an ambition to make design accessible for all. It offers discounted products from some of the best loved British and international furniture, lighting and home accessories brands in a single location for multi-brand flash sales.

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Helen Arvanitakis with Jessica Hatch

“I’ve always loved being able to buy fashion labels at discount through sample sales and pop ups. Wouldn’t it be great if we could buy beautiful products for our homes in the same way? Ultimately it’s a shop full of my favourite things, hope they’re yours too,” explains Jessica.

Here are some sneak peaks of the products you can expect to see at the event.

 

Insta: design.best.london / www.design-best.co.uk

 

5 Best Office Chairs For Home

For design conscious people a standard office chair no matter how comfortable and ergonomic it is would be perceived as a bit of an eye sore – normally it is not the most beautiful thing. Hence comes the urge to replace it with a dining chair, as it’s so much easier to find something you would love. But what if you want to combine aesthetics with comfort, especially if you work from home and have to spend hours at your desk? In this week’s blog post I decided to explore what other options we have and there are quite a few. Scandinavian brands particularly stand out.

To begin with I would like to share a couple of images from an Instagram feed of @yitai_hu  that caught my eye recently. Her home office of  is a perfect example of how to create minimalist and calm work environment without compromising on your personal style.

 

Aluminium Chair, Charles and Ray Eames, Vitra, From £1,910

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A design classic by Charles and Ray Eames, but also at the top of the budget.

Other options by Vitra:

 

Form Swivel chair by Normann Copenhagen, From £305

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Office chair Normann

 

Neu 10 Upholstery by Hay, from £405

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I particularly like upholstery versions as I think they soften up the office look even more.

Other great options by Hay to consider:

 

Harbour Chair by Menu, From £450

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Office chair Menu1

 

Fiber Armchair by Muuto, from £359

Muuto Office chair

A few more choices by Muuto:

The great thing about all these chairs is that they all come in a great variety of finish choices, from simple plastic bases to upholstery in fabric or leather as well as a large palette of colours to suite every interior. You can also choose the base whether you prefer just four legs, swivel base or swivel with wheels.