This plain en-suite bathroom received a little boost of colour by adding a stencilled border of MD40 Beads No 2 above the panelling. The beads stencil is designed to repeat in all directions so the entire wall could have been decorated if desired but it was decided that a horizontal border might add just enough colour to warm the space and to marry it with the adjoining bedroom.
The bedroom has yellow walls and accents of black and tan so those were the colours chosen for the border. I shall return in daylight to photograph the two rooms together.
This is our 1000th blog post since we started to write Design Inspiration in February 2007. To mark the occasion I thought I should write something epic, colourful, inspirational and packed with information...but I won't. Instead, I want to convey our thanks to all of you that read, enjoy, comment or engage with the posts that we write for you. THANK YOU you are much appreciated!
Ideal Home magazine featured a cushion that Louise Rastall had stencilled with our TP26 feather stencil and it reminded me that this assortment of stencils of feathers can provide a simple, stylish solution when a quick decorative finish is needed. It has a similar but larger companion CO16 Feather Stencil.
I save so many jars, canisters and boxes that parts of my studio look like a recycling plant. Last weekend I painted a few of them, then added stencilled decoration and a wax finish. The intention was to decant all our various coffees, teas and drinking chocolates into them and create a stylish landscape on the counter top. However, I forgot that I like clear surfaces and that the coal fired range spews coal dust over the kitchen. So, I reckon they will have moved to the pantry by next week...but then I have big plans for a pantry makeover.
Helen has mentioned this company before but as I have now had a chance to use them personally and they provided such a great and useful service, I thought I would write about the product and how it works in more depth. The company is called Rug-Maker and they make custom rugs. You can have them make a totally bespoke rug and I would imagine this would cost a fair amount. But they have another service, which is a much more cost effective way to get something totally unique. You can create your own rug using a range of styles they have: you pick your style, pick your colours (they have over 600 to choose from), then state your size and choose your quality (knot count) and material (wool or silk or a mix of both). The most cost effective option is the 60 knot count in wool. They have over 80 styles to choose from ranging from traditional to contemporary so there should be something for everyone. Their ingenious site is easy to use. Once you choose the rug, it lists the colours used within the various sections of their sample image.
You have a palette where you can choose and change any colours. It is fun to play with but I must admit a bit of a challenge only in the sense that you want to make the right choice. I am having the same problem choosing fabric for some curtains….if I am going to have something made up especially for my room and scheme, I want it to be just right.
So to my project. I wanted a new hearth rug for my living room. If you have been keeping in touch with my house projects, you will know that I am working on redoing our entire house in an art deco/1930s style. I had used an old blue and white chinoiserie rug, but as the final elements were going into the room, I felt the room was moving away from the art deco aesthetic I had envisioned.
I needed to make sure the last few bits and pieces for this room pulled it back towards the modernist look I wanted. So I thought I would use the chinoiserie hearth rug in the dining room (which I have planned to decorate in a chinoiserie/deco style) and use a more geometric deco rug here. Finding an original art deco rug is hard, finding one that is a reasonable price is very, very hard. There are some amazing rugs for sale out there (just look at the selection on 1stdibs), but they usually run to 5 figure prices (gulp!). They are rare and works of art and priced accordingly. To cut a long story short, I was having no luck whatsoever and Stephen still hadn’t won the lottery. Then Helen reminded me about Rug-Maker. I took a look at their site and was thrilled to see that in the “geometric” section they did a rug called “Joel” that is obviously an homage to the famous art deco designer Betty Joel (she designed furniture and rugs in the 1930’s and her stuff is hard to come by and covetable). I was sure something like this would still be well out of budget, but as I mentioned in a previous post, you don’t know if you don’t ask. I asked and to my delight, a custom wool rug was within my budget. They price per square metre and can do any size. My rug needed to be 0.55 mtr x 1.1 mtr so 0.61 square metres total. I was sent samples of the different knot counts and materials.
Each sample is half wool and half silk so you can see the difference. The wool is nice, but the silk is gorgeous. However, the silk is a lot more expensive than the wool (not surprisingly) so I just stuck to wool. Wool is still a quality rug product so I was more than happy. Then it came down to colours. This was the hard bit. I sat in the living room on the laptop researching art deco rugs so I could be clear on the types of colours traditionally used. I also thought about the colours in the current scheme. And hardest of all, I tried to think of colours that would also work for future schemes. I came up with two options and then stalled. The detail would be done in off white, brick red and dark inky blue. But I was undecided between a pale celadon green
or a beige biscuit colour for the background.
As the Rug-Maker has 600 colours, I knew I could be quite specific. I cut up and old paint chart and sent the paint “chips” to Julian at the Rug-Maker to match. He sent me back a batch of tufts to look at. Honestly, I couldn’t have picked better myself.
I was so bemused by the tufts, and being a bit 'Minion' mad, I really thought they ought to have names but managed to restrain myself. I took these home to look at in different lights over the weekend and see what Stephen thought. After much deliberation, we decided to go for the green background. I chose a green more celadon than jade as in my original artwork. It was really difficult. Both would look good in the room. The beige was more neutral, but in the end, the green was more interesting. Both were common colours for art deco rugs, but the green just had a bit more pizzazz. Choice made, order done, proof approved and now we wait.
It will take about 10 weeks for our rug to be handmade in Nepal. I am sure it will be well worth the wait and I shall post the results as soon as it arrives.
Custom or customised services like this are becoming very popular as we all endeavour to put our own mark on our houses or wardrobes. Full custom design work can be very expensive but a customised option on a set range is a way of getting something quite unique at a fraction of the cost of bespoke. Surface View offer great wallcoverings, blinds and lampshades made to size from a wide selection of famous artworks and photography; Spoonflower allow you to design and print your own fabric; Converse allow you to customise your own sneakers. Our "In Your Own Words" range of stencils offers you a chance to have your own quote, name or lettering made up from a choice of styles and sizes. No two people will ever order the same thing. As we have a finite range to choose from, we can offer this customisable service at a great price. It has become one of our most popular ranges. As I work on my house, I see more and more people are offering custom options which is very exciting. Who is your favourite company that offers this service?
Here is another lovely bite of Art Nouveau scrumptiouness to nibble on from the Musee Carnavalet in Paris.
Art Nouveau stencils could help to create a similar look. This link will take you to the begining of our motif section but borders and repeat pattern can be found within a couple of clicks. Once you possess the stencils, tools and imagination to create a decorated ceiling you will then require strong neck muscles. Stencil skills can be learned on our day classes and dates for Spring 2015 can be found here.
Here's to a creative new year.
Yes, believe it! It is a Santa outfit for the toilet.
Stephen was given this as a "thank you" from one of his customers. We thought it was the usual box of chocolates, but it turned out to be even better. Have you ever seen anything like it? I think there may be a business idea here. Let's face it, toilets are not particularly attractive or designerly in most cases. Especially mine which has not been remodeled yet and is sitting in the middle of 1980's tiling looking a bit tired. So why not put an outfit on it? It has cheered us, and anyone else who has seen it, no end. I think people are quite envious of our festive lavvie. Why stop there? There could be all kinds of outfits for the rest of the year. Any ideas? Perhaps this is not quite traditional as far as Christmas decorating goes, but it has given us a lot of joy in our world.
Have a great new year everyone!
Recently my mother and I spent a few days in Berlin.
She wanted to see a German Christmas Fair and I wanted to see neo classical architecture and decoration by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. A post about Schinkel can wait, he's not festive and my ambitions to see his works were mostly thwarted; However, the city of Berlin and all that we experienced there made up for it. Here are some of our Christmas-ey highlights.
The Gendarmenmarkt had better than average festive fare plus stiltwalking angels, theatre shows.... and Shinkel architecture.
Is that an 18th century statue of 'Person with IPad'? We were methodical in exploring all the rows of the fair in order, stopping for mulled wine, mulled rum, mulled cider and hot chocolate.
I think we may have we sampled hot vodka with our meal of smoked fish but I really can't remember.
On our travels we found this beautiful, mosaic ceiling damaged by bombs in the 1940's.
The lights in the city's trees were being connected and tested. Mum and I were hoping that we would see the streets illuminated during our visit. We used to live in Germany when I was five, most of my memories are of the festive season being magical.
For me the star of the show at the Charlottenburg Christmas Market was the ever changing light and patterns on the walls of the palace.
I have just found A useful post on Christmas/Design fairs in Berlin, seems like I will need a week next time. Oh and just as Mum and I were leaving for the airport, the lights came on all over the city giving us a gorgeous, glittery farewell.
Today I am sharing a recipe for an edible treat rather than a paint and pattern combination. So, here is my annual 'festive, fairly fail-safe, food for fabulous friends fare'. It is Chocolate Orange Sticks and gilded fruits.
I have photographed stages of the project in case you would like to make them too. They make a lovely gift and quite a few can be made in a session. The orange and chocolate makes our house smell delicious, it is one of my Chrismas rituals and appears to be well recieved. You need a few hours free and a good soundtrack or audio play to enjoy listening to. The recipe is adapted from 'Willie's Chocolate Bible' by Willie Harcourt-Cooze.
Oranges are often at their best around Nov/Dec so this is an ideal treat for this time of year.. You will need:
Half a dozen unwaxed oranges, a vanilla pod, 4 cloves and 150 grams ofgranulated sugar, 300 gms of good chocolate for coating the fruit, a sprinking of chilli powder and some edible gold dust although the last two items are not essential.
Remove a slice from the top and bottom of the orange and cut it into quarters. Remove most of the pulp from each quarter leaving a small ammount attached to the pith. I put the left over orange pulp into a food processor. Place the orange peelings into a pan of boiling water and let them bubble for 5 minutes then remove with a slotted spoon and drop them into a bowl of cold water and let more cold water trickle over them for 5 minutes. Place the cold orange pieces back into the hot pan and re-boil. They must have three boilings and chillings, this sounds like a faff but it does not take long and takes the bitterness from the pith. It is worth the effort.
I chop the remaining orange pulp in the food procesor until almost smooth then pour into a clean pan with the sugar, vanilla pod, cloves and the boiled rinsed orange quarters. Add just enough cold water to cover the the peel then bring the pan to the boil over a medium heat. Let it bubble for a couple of minutes then reduce the heat, put a lid on the pan and let everything simmer for an hour. Remove the lid again and let it cook gently for another thirty mintes. The recipe notes that the mixture witll be thick and sticky. I have made these orange sticks countless times and even if I follow Willie's recipe exactly I can not get a thick, sticky mixture but no matter as it has always been delicious. I re-use the orange, syrup as a filling for crepes or to pour over sponge pudding and ice cream.
Line an oven tray with baking paper and place a wire rack on top of it, spread the orange quarters on top of the rack and place them in the oven pre heated to 100c for 1 to 2 hours to dry out. Do not overdry.
When cooled, tip the cooked orange pieces onto a chopping board; before cutting them into strips I sprinkle a fine dusting of chilli powder onto them. That is my preference and is not endorsed by Mr Harcourt-Cooze. Now, start to prepare the chocolate to coat them with.
Willie's Chocolate Bible tells the reader how to temper the chocolate; I have just read this bit for the first time and realise that my way of doing things is incorrect but it works for me. This is my way... I select a large heatproof glass bowl and place it into an even larger sauce pan of cold water. The water should not reach more than a third of the way up the outside of the bowl. Place chunks of the chocolate in the bowl. Bring the water to a gentle simmer and let the chunks melt slowly in the glass bowl top up the choc chunks as neccesary, make sure that no water gets into the bowl and do not let the chocolate burn. I use two 100g bars of dark 87% chocolate and one of 72%. The bitter chocolate makes a delicious contrast to the sweet, candied peel.
One at a time dip each orange stick into the molten chocolate let the excess drip back into the bowl. Leave the tip of the orange exposed. After coating the orange sticks lay them onto baking paper to dry. If I have time I suspend the orange sticks from wooden skewers instead of laying them on paper. The skewer method gives a better looking result but is fiddly and time consuming.
If I have more chocolate than is needed for the orange pieces I dip soft dried apricots and crystalised or stem ginger into the remaining chocolate. Agen prunes, figs and stoneless dates are all lovely dipped in the chocolate. If I have any marzipan or blanched almonds I might stuff them into the prunes before coating them.
Hours later when the chocolate has set hard and glossy I sprinkle tiny amounts of edible gold powder over the coated fruit; sometimes I brush it over the chocolate with a soft stencil brush that I keep for gilding food with.
In previous years I have painted and stencilled gift boxes to contain the the gilded fruit but I bought these cones in Ikea, so will display the orange sticks to look like fries.
Now, go share the love but keep a hefty portion for yourself, they are rather yummy.