Thursday, 30 June 2011

Where I keep my other blog!

I'm very excited to tell you that I am now a member of the Natural History blogging team! The blog is over at and there's a bunch of us who blog about different topics. My subject is design history, looking at various styles and techniques, and you can read my posts on Monday mornings at 10. 

I was already a big fan of Natural History (the actual shop is in Oxford and the website is called Origin of Style) so it's an honour to be part of it. It's a treasure trove of unique pieces and unusual, beautiful homewares. The founder, Sarah, says she spent a lot of her youth in the Museum of Natural History in Dublin, so much of the shop's collection is inspired by such things as birds, entomology and Victorian taxidermy!

Here are my top seven wonderful things to be found at Natural History (it was going to be my top five but I couldn't narrow it down!)

Hummingbird prints (set of six, unframed), £25
Hummingbird cushions, £70

I would love to swan about my house wearing this fabulous silk robe. Possibly while pretending to be Margot from The Good Life and drinking a martini. 

Coral printed silk robe, £120

Beetle tea towel, £12

This luxurious blanket would make a brilliant gift for anyone. 

Bright cosy lambswool blanket, £60

Fretwork lanterns: small £12.95; medium £18.95

Dove bottle stopper. £5.95


Saturday, 18 June 2011

Decorating and the art of seduction: tips from the bowerbird

This is probably one of the most incredible things you will ever see.

If you haven't seen the bowerbird in action before, I highly recommend watching this clip from the BBC's Life series. The male bowerbird builds a structure and decorates it with brightly coloured objects in order to attract a mate. The structure alone is highly impressive, using pillars to hold up the curving roof, but the bird's collecting and decorating behaviour is astonishing. The male collects great piles of small objects, placing them around the entrance to the bower to make it attractive to females. Each male has his own taste in décor, favouring certain colours over others, and will choose flowers, leaves, stones, feathers, shells, berries, fungus, charcoal, dung or even shiny beetles (which have the disadvantage of not staying where they are placed) to achieve the desired effect. Some birds will use man-made objects which have been discarded in the area, such as plastic, glass, nails, coins or rifle shells, spending hours arranging their collections in the hope of seducing a mate.

Here's the video. Perhaps you could pass it on to any lonely bachelors you know.

I particularly like the male's celebratory dance at the end.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Mexican Fiesta!

Mexico is one hot trend for garden this summer. This is a fantastically vibrant, playful look that's perfect for outdoor summer celebrations. It's time to take down the Union Jack bunting and get the fiesta going with some Mexican-inspired accessories for your garden.

Rocio Outdoor Rug, £12 from Habitat

Citronella Tealights in Terracotta Holder, £2.49 from Cargo

Festival Outdoor Fairy Lights, £35 from Habitat

Circle Table Lantern in Lapis, £5 from John Lewis

Acapulco Recycled Picnic Mat in Turquoise, £19.95 from Dotcomgiftshop

Yellow Club Table & Chairs Set, £89 from Debenhams

Pineapple Tealight Holder, £4.90 from Habitat

This blog post is part of the ‘Pass It On Garden & Outdoor series’, a collaborative blogging project.


Friday, 10 June 2011

Debenhams Home Collection for Autumn/Winter 2011

Last week Debenhams kindly invited me to their Autumn/Winter 2011 press show. I was in great company, as Matthew Williamson, Julien Macdonald and Ben de Lisi were all there too. Not bad celeb spotting for a Wednesday lunchtime!

I was really impressed by the new home collections for next season, from each of Debenhams' designers and the store's own label range too. 

For me the highlight was Ben de Lisi's collection, featuring retro graphics, London icons and his signature bulldog in the form of a porcelain lamp. 

Ben de Lisi Home at Debenhams 

The ceramic egg box and milk carton are particularly cool and I expect they will sell very well as Christmas gifts.
Ben de Lisi Home at Debenhams

The latest addition to the Designers at Debenhams stable, Lisa Stickley, didn't disappoint with her first collection for the brand. Lisa's poodles, polka dots and roses are sure to be a hit. 

House and Home by Lisa Stickley for Debenhams 

Betty Jackson's elegant range was fabulous; the purple toile bed linen, blue smoked glass vases and two-tone mustard/mushroom crockery were among my favourite pieces of the whole show (and I will post more pics as soon as I get my hands on them). 

Betty Jackson.Black at Debenhams

Matthew Williamson's Butterfly Home collection will bring some welcome colour to the winter months and his signature Indian influences are present and correct. The peacock cushions are absolutely gorgeous. Lime green is a key colour in this range (looks far better than it sounds!), Chinoiserie patterns decorate bedlinen and tableware and Williamson shows that this season's ikat trend is set to continue through to next year. 

Butterfly Home by Matthew Williamson at Debenhams

Butterfly Home by Matthew Williamson at Debenhams

Debenhams keeps the Royal Wedding spirit alive with a patriotic collection for next season. There was some fantastic quilting happening with Union Jacks, gingham, checks, florals and denim shades. Please excuse the pictures - I took the first two myself on my phone...


The Debenhams Autumn/Winter 2011 range will be in stores from September.

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