Month: November, 2010

Cash vs Credit: Union Jack baubles

Heart shaped Union Jack bauble, £5.62, Past Times; Bombki Union Jack bauble, £20, Heal’s

People we’re loving (…and just in time for Christmas): House & Table

Large French green tea set, £120

My friend Steph, who has always been passionate about interiors and effortlessly radiates the sort of casual good taste most people spend years trying to acquire, recently took the plunge and launched her own online shop, selling rare and wonderful pieces from all over the world.

I take my hat off to her. In a big way. It is not easy to ditch the rat race and run around the world sourcing trays, chests and whatever else hungry homeowners are demanding, when competition is so high.

The shop, called House & Table, does exactly what it says on the tin but with a difference: every piece, in one way or another, perfectly reflects Steph’s impeccable taste: rustic yet elegant, and totally eclectic.

Hand blown glass water jug, £18

I caught up with her to find out how the business came about, where she finds her inspiration, and what has been the greatest hurdle so far.

What made you take the leap and decide to set up House & Table?

I created House & Table because friends kept asking me to source special things for them – it seemed that they liked and trusted my taste. Then, when I bought my own worker’s cottage, it was impossible to find a range of items from all over the world in one place. And finally, I realised that a lot of people just don’t have the time, or don’t like, to search high and low for those special things. And it just sort of came together from there.

Set of 6 stoneware goblets, £50

Where do you source most of your products?

Now that would be telling! To be honest, I source them everywhere and anywhere. Large antique markets, small markets, flea markets, shops, charity shops, cheap antique shops… They are everywhere, you just have to have the patience and time to hunt them out. Buying is my favourite part of the job; I could never get bored of shopping for things. My stuff has come from all over. Morocco, Vietnam, Hungary, France…

What’s your style?

I would say rustic chic (which I think I have more or less made up by putting the two words together but that is how I see my personal style). Just like House & Table. (… And like nestify, we like to think). Chic enough that the house looks beautiful, but rustic enough so that it still looks like a home. Having grown up in Hong Kong, I most definitely channel an element of Asian style as well. In my house I have a beautiful oil painting of a Vietnamese street in bright colours right next to a large linen French style sofa. East meets West: I love the mishmash of the two together.

Set of 4 antique Chinese dining chairs, £320

What was the greatest challenge involved in getting the shop up and running?

It may sound weird and ostensibly simple, but it would have to be the delivery process and sorting out who would deliver what for how much. (I use a different company for smaller boxed items and a different company for the furniture). It has taken weeks, actually months, to sort that out and to find the best price.

Hungarian glazed terracotta pot, £25

And finally, which designers do you most admire?

There are tons but I think the architect Boris Vervoordt has amazing interior taste. Tine Kjeldsen is a big inspiration, too.

Faking it part II: flower power

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post featuring Anthropologie’s clever paperback wallpaper that can turn any room into a respectable and well-populated library. In the faking it vein I thought I would share my excitement at my new found love of artificial flowers.

Image via Jennerally on Flickr

When I was a child and my mother used to put out fake orchids, I would die inside and swear that my own perfect home would never be the sort of place that featured shiny plastic stems, fabric petals and poorly moulded stamens.

This vow was ardently kept until a short while ago when I saw some dusty fake flowers in my parents’ boiler room and thought I’d see how they fared in my studio – which is in need of colour, and where flowers I buy usually wilt at the first opportunity. To my mother’s credit, the fake nineties flowers (below), have totally changed the landscape of my flat and I am now the world’s biggest fan.

Beyond my humble flat it seems they’re having a little moment: OKA have produced a very cool array of fake plants and herbs this season, such as this clever oregano pot (below, £25) and even a Flowering Clover, and Habitat have a great range of very believable flowers, sold individually so you can really go wild with your arrangements.

Fake herbs at OKA

Image via Parrot40 on Flickr

Fake flower wallpaper via Apartment Therapy

Image via Country Living

Image via AmericanVirus on Flickr

They last forever, they’re super cheap (unless you opt for hand-dyed silk, but then why not buy a proper plant) and – a tip that only my mother would know – you can give them a little wash and they’ll smell just like the real thing.

Give your hallway some love

Saidos de Concha on Flickr

When I moved into my flat in the summer, I couldn’t have cared less about the hallway. The word and the space seem to belong to big rambling houses, not little urban hideouts.  Say ikat cushion or hand thrown mug or anything Bang & Olufsen and my ears will prick up, but say hallway and I will find it hard to care.

This could be to do with the fact that mine is a damp, cold, foot of a staircase which leads to much more colourful and exciting things, but I think it is also indicative of the fact that in general not many excited new home makers care about this odd and transient space. But when it comes to urban living, a hallway where you can fit anything larger than a set of keys and a coat or two is gold dust. And it should be maximised.

So  – partly in an effort to find out what to do with mine, and partly because when I think of my friends’ houses I realise I am not alone in the hallway wilderness (the worst are mostly male-tended but that’s no excuse) – I scouted out some of my favourites. The first, above, packed with robins and colourful gourds, is perfect while autumn hangs on in there.

Apartment Therapy

Saidos de Concha on Flickr

Living Etc

Living Etc

Farmyard egg cups by Quail at Liberty

Animal egg cups, £10.95 each, by Quail at Liberty