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Why didn’t I know about this beautiful blog until this weekend? Of course, I’ve seen these photos of blogger Nicole’s stunning apartment all over the blogosphere, especially since it was featured in Rue Magazine. But the blog is a great source of inspiration too. Especially right now – while Nicole is off bonding with her newborn, guest bloggers are posting the cutest, most unique nursery designs.

Anyway, I just had to share some of the photos of the apartment in question since the black, white and metallic scheme is providing all sorts of inspiration for our impending kitchen makeover (which is rapidly becoming a dining room, playroom and bathroom makeover too – more of that later).

I spy a Carrera marble kitchen island…

Plattner coffee table…

Black and white ikat pillow…

And brass anglepoise lamps over the bed. Elegant and eclectic!

Photos by Emily Anderson for Rue Magazine via Sketch42.

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I just spotted this beauty in the window of Jonathan Adler. Stunning, sculptural shell-shaped lamps. What better way to cling on to the last vestiges of summer?

I’m obsessed. Maybe this is finally the lamp to replace our IKEA stand-ins (which we’ve had for seven years, mind you) in the master bedroom? That said, I’m also rather keen on these new ones from West Elm, also shell-inspired (it’s tiled capiz) but for a fraction of the price:

Hmm, decisions decisions…

When you’re designing a room for a child, it’s good to keep in mind that the space should grow with them. That mentality has led to a wide selection of products created especially for kids but that would work equally well in grown-up interiors. Having just decorated two kids’ rooms, I’ve been exposed to lots of these products recently and have been impressed by how stylish, sophisticated and practical some of these items would be in an entirely adult scheme. What’s more, they’re often a lot cheaper! Here are some of my favorites.

First up PBteen. You really can’t beat this store for convenience and quality at a decent price. Check out this Coraline bed, which also comes in a Queen size for just $999.

In an otherwise sophisticated scheme (think minimalist white sofa, dark wood floors), these fun bedside tables would make a great end table for a living room. I especially like the duckegg blue.

I’d love this locker desk in a home office. And the industrial-style drawers come in a full range of colors.

PBteen is also an excellent resource for affordable lamps. A bright yellow task light would look both sophisticated and quirky in a gray scheme.

And even if your student days are long over, surely you could see a pair of these peace bookends on your shelves? Personally, I think they’d look great next to my collection of Jonathan Adler white ceramics!

Now, shopping in a teen store is one thing. But how about stores for kids and babies? Well, I’d argue you can be just as successful. This mirror from Land of Nod would make a good, affordable alternative to that antique shabby chic mirror you’ve been looking for.

And this Moda desk from Room and Board‘s kids collection would work in a grown-up office. It also comes in a range of colors from gray to sage green to indigo. I could see this looking great as a computer area in a large eat-in kitchen with white cabinets and wood countertops.

Giggle has this beautiful dresser/changing table that converts to an ordinary dresser by flipping over the top. I love the look of this piece but this is one time when kids’ furniture is definitely not cheaper. At $1695, it’s no bargain.

Romp, which specializes in beautiful hand-crafted toys, has these great ceiling lights. How about three of them suspended over a dining table spelling out the word E-A-T to stimulate the appetite??

Now, Serena & Lily doesn’t just cater for kids. But its range of furniture and accessories for babies and children includes some beautiful items for grown-up spaces. Like these Moroccan poufs.

I want this whole stack of alpaca throws – they might be soft enough for baby, but they’re luxurious enough for me to keep all to my self, thank you very much!

And for a bit of whimsy that even adults can appreciate, how about this bird lamp?

I’d happily have any of these items in my home. How about you? Are you convinced enough to hit the kids’ stores yet?

Do you keep mental lists of favorite and iconic design pieces? You know, those items that, one day, you’ll have in your dream home? Maybe you’ve even treated yourself to a few of them. But, if you’re like me, the list seems to grow endlessly. So I’m going to try and keep track of them by posting my all-time favorite lists here. First up, ceiling lights.

The Random light by Moooi is a firm favorite. I haven’t found a place for one of these in my home yet – partly because they’re so large. But I love the way this design seems to create order from chaos. Here it is in situ.

Via Fondly Seen.

This Alvar Aalto Golden Bell light has a retro appeal but would fit in so many schemes. This one is actually an updated version by Artek. But the original is forever etched on my mind because of this image from Living Etc many years ago.

Then there’s the Tord Boontje blossom branch chandelier.

Who can forget how great this looked over Gwyneth Paltrow’s dining table (Via Habitually Chic)?

The next one is kind of quirky. The goose feather Pluma Cubic light was designed by Heike Buchfelder in 2003.

I just think this would be great in a bedroom, although cleaning it would probably prove a nightmare! I first saw it in the bedroom of decorator Philip Gorrivan’s daughter, in Elle Decor, where it made a charming feature that was somehow both childlike and grown-up at the same time.

Not all ‘favorites’ have to be expensive designer pieces though. There’s something about an extra long capiz shell chandelier that is romantic and decadent – but this West Elm version is very affordable.

Then there’s the Moravian Star light. These ubiquitous fixtures work for industrial lofts or Victorian houses alike and come in all sorts of finishes. You only have to Google ‘Moravian Star light’ and you’re besieged by hundreds of choices of sites to purchase them.

My first encounter with the Moravian Star light is a bit of a story in its own right. I lived in a hilltop town in Italy for a year from 1994-5 and there were numerous workshops in the villages nearby where artisans made these lights. I had never seen them before and was smitten immediately. I thought about bringing some back to England but never did. Of course, a few years later they started popping up everywhere…

Now here’s a design classic you’ll definitely recognize: the PH Artichoke light by Poul Henningsen 40 years ago.

The Artichoke light is so recognizable that it’s easy to ignore its brilliance. No self-respecting minimalist loft would be seen without one.

Then there’s this chandelier, as seen in designer Fawn Galli‘s dining room.

I love the way it resembles a firework or supernova, adding a burst of energy to a formal dining room arrangement.

Finally, no all-time favorite list of lighting would be complete without a good old fashioned chandelier. I’ve said before how much I love the glamor of a  ceiling light dripping with crystals. But, there’s something even more special about a turquoise chandelier and this one still takes my breath away.

Although this image was all over the blogosphere after being featured on Chinoiserie Chic, I’ve never managed to track down a source for this light. If anyone knows, do tell the rest of us!

I’d love to hear about your favorites too. What would you add to this list?

My brother-in-law and his wife became the proud parents of a little girl this week (their first baby). So, in honor of the occasion, this post is devoted to all things girly in interior design: it celebrates baby pink and bubblegum pink, frills and flounces, feminine shapes and floral patterns. And, why not, I say?! Besides, what better way to usher in the spring than with the color of cherry blossom? Enjoy.

Via This is Glamorous.

Via Automatism.

Via Casapinka.

Nicole’s living room from Making it Lovely.

Via House of Turquoise.

Via Peacock Feathers.

Via A Life More Fabulous.

Via JPM Design.

Via Apartment 34.

Via Beauty Comma.

Via Pink Wallpaper.

Via Automatism.

Now let’s raise a glass of pink bubbly to my brand new niece. Welcome to the world! May it always be rosy!

There’s something very satisfying about using natural materials and textures in design.

Take this room, via Kika Reichart, for instance. A simple color scheme and sparse furnishing leap into life with the use of tactile surfaces and fabrics made from linen, wool, plywood, sisal and hessian. I’ve always loved this look and longed to have the discipline to carry off an all-neutral space dressed with with scrubbed wooden tables and white linen upholstery.

No surprise then that the trend toward using burlap in the home has had me intrigued for a while. Of course, designers, and the more adventurous amateurs among you, have used burlap, linen, hessian, rope and similar materials in all sorts of unusual ways for some time. But now it seems that even the major home stores are going wild for the look. And it’s not just plain linen drapes that they’re pushing. I’m talking straight-from-the-flour-mill, shake-out-the-sawdust, sackcloth-turned-decor here. Welcome to the era of Hopsack Chic.

Take these pillows from Restoration Hardware, for example. Now this is a store that is known for polished fixtures and sumptuous leather sofas. But here we have what appear to be converted (wool?) sacks?

Pottery Barn continues its love affair with numbers and text, this time with a distinctly agricultural feel.

And even more so with these pillows, seemingly made from coffee sacks (also Pottery Barn).

Anthropologie keeps it feminine with these pillows which, despite the floral emblem, still look like they were made from something altogether more utilitarian.

So, if you like the look of Hopsack Chic, what else can you do to apply it at home?

Some simple linen tablecloths would be a good start (via Katy Elliott).

Or, if you want to push the boat out – an elegant chair recovered in coffee sacks, anyone? Via Sumner Design.

A stamped burlap headboard might be more your taste. Via Poppytalk.

Personally, I’d opt for a less literal interpretation and fill my place with beautiful linen tufted sofas like this one from Anthropologie.

Then I’d go for some tree stump side tables, like these from West Elm.

And a twine lamp from Anthropologie to complete the look. And there you go – Hopsack Chic!

What do you think? Chic or eek?

Bathroom, lavatory, loo, toilet, powder room, cloakroom – whatever you call it, decorating the smallest room in the house is not exactly the most romantic of design projects. Unless you live in the SF decorator showcase that is, and can powder your nose in this delightful space:

(Photograph by Elizabeth Fall)

In our case, our downstairs bathroom is not only the smallest room in the house but probably also the smallest room in the world. It’s billed as a quarter bath, which means it has nothing but a toilet in it. There isn’t even room for a washbasin (before you exclaim in horror, we wash our hands in the kitchen sink). Just to get into it, close the door and sit down, you have to perform a complicated maneuver, which requires practice. To make matters worse, the ceilings are so high that the space seems even narrower – a bit like being in a large vertical coffin. And it has no heating so feels like a Victorian outhouse in the middle of a British winter.

So why bother decorating it at all, you ask? Well, remodeling the layout is not an option at the moment, so I decided to make the best of the situation. If we can’t have a spacious bathroom with wide washbasins, fluffy towels and glamorous mosaic flooring, then we can at least have a space that doesn’t look like it should have strips of newspaper instead of bath tissue. This is how it turned out.

I chose the Bindweed wallpaper from Ferm Living for the walls above the dado rail. The bold black and white design brightens the space immensely and the pattern even makes the room seem larger. My husband spent the best part of a day putting the paper up, only to run out half way through the last wall. It was two days before Christmas so we had some shipped overnight (thanks to the very helpful folks at Branch) and he finished up the job on Christmas Eve. Now that’s true love: spending the day before Christmas in a freezing 5′ x 3′ space, suspended over the toilet bowl, wrestling with soggy wallpaper.

The lower walls show traces of one day being tiled but have been covered in layers of paint in varying shades of avocado and magnolia, so we just painted them white. The light fitting (this one from Lamps Plus) seems a particularly perfect match – it echoes the shape of the flowers in the wallpaper and, when lit, gives off a lovely dappled light (making it tolerable to spend more than five seconds in there).

Finally, the mirror is from the West Elm sale. We joke that it suits the room perfectly because it is probably the smallest mirror in the world. The actual glass is just about big enough for powdering your nose (because your nose is all you can see). But I like it so it has stayed.

So that, in a nutshell, is how we converted our ‘loo’ into a space to be proud of (well, not ashamed of at least). Fortunately, 2010 will bring some more ambitious and exciting decorating projects, details of which I’ll share very shortly…

I recently received an email from a reader who wanted to issue me a challenge: find some images and ideas to inspire the decoration of a house for three 21-year-old guys. Always up for a challenge, I decided to give it a try. As soon as I started hunting, I could see the quandry for men interested in design, especially younger guys and those renting or sharing a place. Most spaces that have been designed specifically for men seem to follow one of a very limited number of formulas.

There’s the industrial loft space:

Industrial-loft

The sleek, gadget-centric seduction zone:

Studio

Or the gentleman’s club, like this modern interpretation of a wood-panelled library:

Club room

Now, while all these styles can be great for inspiration, the reality is that it’s going to be very hard to recreate any of these looks faithfully in most homes. If you live in a three-bedroom house with two other guys, there’s little to be gained from studying pictures of an open-plan studio loft. If your place is a rental, you can’t exactly put up floor-to-ceiling wood panelling or scrape off the plaster to reveal raw brick walls.

So, let’s see what elements can be used – and what alternative styles are possible.

Strong wall colors are the easiest way to create a unified, impactful look that is still masculine. Whether furnishings are spartan or mismatched, the look will still be pulled-together. Grays and browns are ideal options and there’s so much inspiration at the moment for these two hues.

Gray study

gray living room

bedroom

gray dining room

Gray bedroom

Many of these rooms also have strong, sculptural elements. The easiest (and cheapest) way to achieve this is with sculptural lighting pieces, like the Nelson Saucer bubble lamp in the bedroom image, or the large pendant shade over the dining table.

If you really want to go with lighter colors (tough in a house-share) then these sculptural elements will be even more important. Keep the space simple, colors uniform and the focus on a few pieces with interesting shapes.

black and white room

Living room

white bedroom

Texture is an often over-looked element in decorating. Stereotypical bachelor pads feature a lot of smooth chrome and black leather. But this approach means you miss out on the benefit that a combination of rich textures can provide. Grainy woods, scuffed leather and thick wool can create a masculine and stylish look without too much effort. And you can do it without spending a fortune by buying second-hand furniture. Check out the impact of these wood pieces:

Steven Gambrel

sideboard

And the use of leather, wool and stone in these shots:

leather chair

home-for-hire-by-londons-graham-atkins-hughes-3

The other challenge facing house-sharers is where to store all your ‘stuff’. Fortunately, books, art, photos and other artifacts (maybe not snowboards or boat oars – I’m not kidding, our first tenants in our house in London were three male rowers!) can be a real design asset. It’s also a great look for the thinking bachelor’s pad. Industrial-looking shelves are a good option, like these:

Library

Or wood shelves (to borrow from the gentleman’s club look):

Library

I also really like the use of bookshelves surrounding a wall-mounted TV. So much nicer than just having the TV lurk there all alone.

TV and shelves

Similarly, group several photos or pictures together to create a more cohesive, strong display. Making these personal items a deliberate part of the scheme will definitely help the overall effect be more streamlined, even when you need to combine three people’s bits and pieces.

2e9e4d69612a84eece885bc2c1d07ec0

Picture wall

Office

When it comes to finishing touches, there several trends right now that have a masculine vibe without being cliched. Skulls, flags, maps, globes and vintage lightbulbs are all making appearances in homes. I’m personally a big fan of the Brit-chic look (no surprise there, as I’m British!)

Flag pillows

British flag pillow

So it seems that there are lots of ways to go when decorating for an all-male household after all. As long as you remember the four ‘S’s – Strong colors, Sensory elements like texture, Storage for books etc, and Sculptural pieces.

Anyone designed a house for guys and got any other tips?

Credits:

1 – Apartment of designer Christina Rodriguez via Design for Life; 2 – Freshome; 3 – Living Etc; 4 – Office of designer Monique Lhuillier’s husband, and CEO of her firm, as seen in Elle Decor, photos by Roger Davies, via ChicFreak; 5 – Living Etc; 6 – Artist Lincoln Shatz’s apartment via Apartment Therapy; 7 – via Vintage + Chic; 8 – Apartment of fashion designer Franciso Costa and De John Stefano via DigsDigs; 9 – photo by Patric Johansson via slipcoveryourlife; 10 – photo by Per Magnus Persson; 11 – Loft of designer Frederic Mechiche, via Door Sixteen; 12 – Room designed by Steven Gambrel on 1st Dibs, via Anh Minh;  13 – Living Etc; 14 – via CasaSugar; 15 – Home for hire by photographer Graham Atkins Hughes as reported on Por Homme (more photos featuring this home at Graham’s web site); 16 – via From the Right Bank; 17 –  via DigsDigs; 18 – Living Etc; 19 – Thomas O’Brien’s studio apartment as seen in Australian Vogue Living, via Design Files; 20 – via Vintage + Chic; 21 – via Apartment Therapy; 22 and 23 – via Living Etc.

I’ve always had a ‘thing’ for chandeliers. I mean the great big, jaw-dropping, sparkly, bejewelled variety. The type that, even if you could afford them, you’re unlikely to have the kind of house that would suit them. I spent the first two years of living in this house planning to get one for our dining room, only to settle on the much simpler (and cheaper!) Nelson saucer bubble lamp from Room and Board. So, for now, my dreams of owning one are on hold.

But I can still appreciate the sheer romance of a truly breath-taking chandelier. Take a look at these beauties which, I think, show that an over-the-top chandelier can still be stylish, elegant and modern. The first two are both from SmartAlec.

white-living-room-2

modern-white-interiors3

Aaah, a chandelier in the bathroom. Is there any greater sign of luxury? I’m not one for baths with views, but even I could handle this room! Via Lolla Loves.

bathroom

This turquoise chandelier hangs in the office of San Francisco designers Masucco Warner Miller. Quite frankly, I don’t think you need any more decor in a room that has this hanging from the ceiling, but to see what the rest of the space looks like, check out their fabulous portfolio here. Via Chinoiserie Chic.

turquoise-chandelier

This room is a magnet for magpies. Practically everything sparkles. Despite the fact that it could resemble the frosting on a little girl’s birthday cake, I love it. I think the symmetry prevents it from looking too sweet. Via Decorpad.

decorpad2

This dining room shows how you can take a traditional crystal chandelier and make it super clean-lined and modern. I love this sheer black shade: it looks as though it’s modestly covering up the ‘naked’ chandelier while still leaving a hint of what’s beneath. By Graham Atkins Hughes, Era Management, via Desire to Inspire.

dining room

This yellow and turquoise chandelier is just so cute. Shows that not all chandeliers have to be serious. Source unknown I’m afraid.

yellow and blue chandelier

This style of chandelier just evokes bygone eras. To work, it has to be a little tarnished though, like this one here. Via This is Glamorous.

blue room and chandelier

And finally, the chandelier I covet the most, a Swarovski blossom chandelier. This one’s from Gwyneth Paltrow’s house. Via Habitually Chic.

masl05_paltrow

I’m still happy with my Nelson lamp. But, one day, there will be a glamorous chandelier, dripping with crystals, hanging over my dining table…

I was thinking about pink recently. Why? Well, I spotted this colorscope over at Simplified Bee and decided to give it a whirl. I was drawn to the fuschia color most (which apparently makes me courageous, passionate, playful and serious (?)) Anyway, then I wondered, why don’t we have more of that color in the house? Of course, it’s because I don’t think my other half would relish the thought of being surrounded by hot pink. That got me thinking, is it possible for us fuschia fans to inject a little of our favorite color into our homes without dooming ourselves to a life of marital discord?!

I found some interiors that use pink in small amounts and in a way that is anything but little girly. With a little encouragement, I think he might be able to live with these.

Gemma Ahern's home

Via the Style Files via DesignSponge.

Pink pillow living room

Via British Homes and Gardens.

Pink and green

Pink accents

Pink wallpaper

The last three are from this Flickr feed.

Pink chaise

Via Casapinka.

Pink and Blue

Via Apartment Therapy.

Mirka McNeill Farmer

Designed by Mirka McNeill Farmer.

Pink accent office

Via Decorology

Pink cushions

Via Dwellings and Decor, via the Inspired Room.

Pink cushions

Pink and black living room

Pink stripes and green

Three above via LivingEtc.

Don’t get me wrong, he tolerates (perhaps even enjoys) most of my interior obsessions. But pink is usually just a step too far. What do you think? Would I get away with any of these?

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