National Stationery Week: Purse-Friendly

This week on the blog I’m celebrating National Stationery Week (or indulging my inner stationery addict, whichever way you want to look at it.) On Wednesday I shared my luxury wishlist, and today I’m covering a more purse-friendly selection.

Sloane Stationery

A hidden gem in the notebook world, I’m addicted to the bright colours and gold illustrations of Sloane Stationery. Each notebook comes with gilded edges, embossed covers and page-holder ribbons, but it’s really the quirky messages which make this brand so addictive. Notebooks range from £12.99 to £39, and pencil boxes are £16.99.

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Mark and Fold: Mark One Notebook

As we live in an increasingly digital world, specialist stationery brands are coming to the fore with designs which are born more from love than necessity. You’d be forgiven for thinking that a hand-numbered, limited edition notebook like the Mark One would be unaffordable, but it’s only £30. Made with a combination of Scottish and English paper, Mark One uses thread-sewn binding so it falls flat when it’s opened.

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If you do have some extra money to spend, Mark and Fold also have a number of subscription packages, one of which will see you receive a new Mark One notebook every three months, as well as a host of other nice benefits.

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School of Life Colouring Pencils

Now I haven’t succumbed to the craze for adult colouring books, but it’s hard to deny the theraputic properties of hatching, shading and blending. The School of Life have taken this one step further by prompting us to consider the psychology behind how we choose and use different colours, by labelling each pencil in their set with its corresponding property. So now you can figure out whether your desire for light blue reflects an internal longing for clarity. They are £18 for a set of 12.

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Lane Greeting Cards

Following the theme of bright colours and English-made paper, my final choice is Lane’s greeting card set. These graphic designs represent the seasons (can you tell which is which?) and they’re bound to put a smile on the face of anyone who receives them. I’ve got my fingers crossed that Lane produce card versions of more of their hand-pulled screen prints, these ones are £8 for four.The-Foyer-Blog-National-Stationery-Week-Lane-Greeting-Cards

Which of these is your favourite? Do you know an excellent stationery company that I should know about? Leave a comment and let me know!

 

National Stationery Week: Luxury Wishlist

National Stationery Week has arrived, and I’m taking the opportunity to celebrate everything which I’ve got on my wishlist. If, like me, you’re always itching for another notebook, fantasizing about personalized cards and trying to decide which fountain pen is The One, you’ll enjoy this run down of the most lux desk accessories which I’ve got my eye on at the moment.

Inhedited Notebooks

Inhedited are one of the few remaining book edge gilders in the UK, and they’ve taken it upon themselves to create an eyewateringly beautiful selection of notebooks. Leather-bound in dusky colours with hand-marbled end papers, these books are the stationery equivalent of a Celine handbag. Minimalist elegance with true attention to detail. The-Foyer-Blog-National-Stationery-Week-Inhedited-Notebook-ProaThe-Foyer-Blog-National-Stationery-Week-Proa-marbled-EndBoth limited editions, the simpler Pervolo will set you back £258 while the Proa Manuscript book with its magnetic, gold-plated clasp is £414, personal embossing is additional. Even the stylish geometric bookmark is £138, I’m rather smitten by the metallic tassels.

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If you’re really feeling extravagant, pick up the set of eight which come with a distinctive diagonal edging for £1,680. While I’d give my left arm for a set of these, I truly admire anyone who has the nerve to actually start writing in them!

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Ajoto Pen

Of course, when you’ve got your minimalist, gold-edged notebooks you need something to write with, and I think Ajoto’s pen is the ideal partner. With metal options including aluminium, spun lead-free brass, rose gold, rhodium and 14ct gold, there are plenty of options (although I am holding out for them to make a fountain pen) which range from £145 to £285.

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The pen comes with a range of leather accessories, and one of the most charming things about this brand is their attention not just to the finished design, but to the manufacturing process. As a result, you can see a map showing where each element of the pen is sourced in Europe, and illustrations showing how they all come together. They show a great understanding that the luxury industry today isn’t just about the quality of the materials, but the journey and craftsmanship behind the products.

Caran D’Ache Leman Caviar Fountain Pen

After a recent trip to Geneva, I was able to visit the iconic Brachard stationery shop, and its intimate rooms of limited-edition fountain pens from the world’s biggest names. It was also my first experience of Swiss stationery giant Caran d’Ache, and at the top of my current list is this Leman Caviar fountain pen, decorated with gorgeous mermaid scales, engraved in amber-tinted bronze lacquer. The nib is rhodium-coated 18ct gold, and is the stuff of dreams. Caran d’Ache have a selection of seven different nib widths for their fountain pens, and one day I intend to go and try them all. Unfortunately for me, it rings up at 640CHF, which is around £440, depending on the exchange rate, but does come with a lifetime guarantee. And a fountain pen like this certainly is for life and not just a one-week, national holiday wishlist…

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Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair

This week I spent a drizzly Friday evening in Battersea Park, for the Spring edition of the Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair. Held three times a year (Spring, Autumn and Winter), this was my first visit to the Fair, and I had a great time seeing everything on offer.

My first impression was surprise, both at how expansive the show is and at the variety on display. With 150 exhibitors there’s plenty to see, from 18th century cabinets to contemporary art. Saying this, I would rename the show as ‘Decorative Art & Antiques Fair’ because there aren’t many textiles on show! Here are a few of my favourite picks:

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I noticed plenty of fantastic Art Deco pieces at the show, including this 1930s silver fruit bowl from Cynthia Conte, who is based in Village Suisse, Paris. Costing £1700, the  bowl looked right at home on its silver drinks tray. The interlocking curves of metal create a gorgeous shape, and I would love to see it in candlelight as originally intended!

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The Dorian Caffot de Fawes stand was one of my favourites, and these boxes caught my eye immediately. Finished with straw marquetry in a traditional fan pattern, they are also 1930s Art Deco, and while they don’t have a makers mark they are similar in style and execution to the work of Jean-Michel Frank, the highly sought-after interior designer. At only £300 each, they would be a beautiful way to add Parisian chic to your home.

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One of the most beautiful stands of the show (and the most difficult to photograph!), Matthew Upham was one of the few London-based exhibitors at the show. His glittering windows will be familiar to anyone who frequents the King’s Road in Chelsea Design District, and this was a great chance to step inside. With a collection described as ’19th century with an 18th century flavour’, Matthew Upham also stocks antique furniture and decorative accessories, but the lighting really steals the show.

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Image courtesy of Matthew Upham

The most remarkable piece was this French, gilt-bronze and cut glass chandelier, over 2 metres tall and with a fascinating history. Designed by Georges Hoentschel for diamond magnate Sir Julius Wernher, it was installed at his country home Luton Hoo, with interiors in a recreation of French Ancien Regime style. It arrived with Matthew after the house was sold and the collection made its way through Christie’s.

While not many of us have the space to house such extravagant pieces, the stand was also full of charming and unique pieces in classic and Art Deco styles, restored to sparkling perfection and all guaranteed to make fabulous conversation pieces.

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The show also boasts a great selection of mid-century modern furniture and lighting – I couldn’t stop looking at this 1960s glass chandelier from Norfolk Decorative Antiques with an unusual diamond shape. Another pick was this pair of handsome 1950s armchairs, upholstered in mint green. Notice the leg details!

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Fiona McDonald also had an excellent display of furniture and lighting. I love the combination of this mirror with etching detail, inlaid wooden writing desk and the deep plum velvet armchairs. Even if you aren’t able to purchase everything from the show, there’s certainly plenty of inspiration as stands combine their unique offerings to create some unexpected results.

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On to art, and while there were plenty of stands at the show, two which really stood out for me were Eve Phillips Fine Art (above) and Panter & Hall (below). They are typical of the variety that you’ll find at the show – Eve Phillips being an independent dealer who only exhibits at shows, alongside the larger Pall Mall-based gallery, both showing a diverse range of paintings and sculpture from 19th century to contemporary works. In fact, many of the exhibitors who I spoke to at the show had come in from the countryside, making Decorative Antiques & Textiles a draw for Londoners who are already familiar with what’s on their doorstep.

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Finally, the only piece of taxidermy I saw at this year’s show. For me he stood head and shoulders above the other pieces at over 2 metres, but unfortunately he had already been sold so I wasn’t able to bring him home!

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While the Spring fair is over, do you have plans to attend in September? Leave a comment and let me know.

The Worst Pinterest Design Fads, and My Alternatives

It’s no secret that Pinterest is the first place to look for interiors inspiration online. Professional designers are frequently greeted by clients who’ve compiled boards of what they’re after in a home design, and for those of us who take a more DIY approach there’s no better source, with articles ranging from crafting home accessories and art to ambitious furniture hacks and upcycling.

There’s some seriously good stuff out there if you know where to look. These via Yatzer!

But as frequent users will know, there are some Pinterest trends which gain such popularity that they seem inescapable, and over-exposure can make those addictive decor projects seem so… over.

The interiors industry tends to echo the fashion world, and just as we try different clothing trends before we find the classic style which suits us best, it’s easy to see those perfectly styled Pins and be convinced that yes, a terrarium is just what your bedside table needs.

I’ve had some regrettable moments along the way, but as in life the mistakes have just taught me what my true style really is. Here’s my list if you’re ready to move on:

1. Palms, not succulents.

The more I’ve tried different stylings for my home, the more I’ve realised that bigger is generally better. Oversized pieces have more personality, and you’ll use less overall which prevents the space from looking cluttered.

If you’re out to add some greenery to your home a leafy plant is going to look far more stylish than a squat and stubby cluster of succulents, you can even find ones which will actively improve the air quality of your home. If you are still after something tried and tested, Fiddle-Leaf Figs (Ficus lyrata) have long been a popular choice. And I’m not just saying this because my succulents went brown after two weeks. Honest.

See what I mean? From green clutter to instant sexy factor. If you’re looking for artificial, try Abigail Ahern’s range.

2. Abstract art, not weaving

Ahh, woven wall hangings. I was instantly smitten when I first saw them, in all of their bobbly, tasseled glory. Mine is still sitting on its frame, because where do you find a conveniently sized stick for hanging these things? This trend is largely fuelled by American megastar of the Pinterest craft scene, Maryanne Moodie.

I can see the appeal, they evoke light-hearted boho-chic, like the effortless music festival outfits which teenagers and Kate Moss pull off with aplomb. But the more I see them, the more I’m reminded of the dream catchers which I had in my bedroom as a child. Peasant blouses, fringing and feathers don’t work for my wardrobe, neither do they my home.

But I do love art, and I’d much rather make like top interiors blogger Kimberly Duran of Swoonworthy, by creating a colourful abstract painting for my wall which looks so sophisticated and still makes for a fun DIY project! I’m so jealous of hers (pictured on the right), I can’t wait to try it for myself. She’s written a whole post about it here.

3. Antique crystal, not mason jars.

Oh god, the mason jar. It might be that as an English person I can’t see the appeal of these USA Pinterest stalwarts, or because hearing the words ‘rustic’ or ‘shabby chic’ makes me want to punch a wall. But what I do know is that every charity shop I visit is full of beautiful cut glass or lead crystal which is going to bring serious Mad Men style to your ’60s sideboard or bar cart. (For the record, I am completely on board with both of these trends). So if you’re looking for second hand glassware, there you go. Jam jars belong in the recycling.

Waterford is becoming cool again – and some Lee Broom pendant lights? Yes please.

4. Plant stands, not hangers.

Looking to take your plants to the next level? There’s nothing wrong with that, but hanging them from the ceiling is totally illogical. Unless you’ve sourced plants which don’t require drainage, watering them is going to be a messy affair. It’s going to be more difficult to put them in a spot with good natural light, and you’re going to end up with a lot of cobwebs. Instead, try the increasing numbers of plant stands, which can be transformed into handy side tables later on.

Do  you agree with me on these? Have I convinced you to abandon your macrame craft projects, or are you just too addicted? Leave a comment and let me know!

Au Natural Interiors

It’s amazing how fast the changing calendar can change your tastes, perhaps it’s something in the air. Gone is my desire for the rich colours and glamorous metallics of the festive season, replaced by a longing for simplicity and natural materials.

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Boring and plain, or heavenly?

 

As someone who usually dismisses ‘white cube’ interiors, I’m surprised by my wish for a neutral, empty space in which to detox from all of that Christmas bling. From a more abstract perspective, a spacious, empty room represents a blank canvas, a symbolic embodiment of the new year spirit.

This fresh perspective brings the perfect opportunity to talk about some of my favourite designer-makers, and the home accessories which are being made simply and well.

Midgley Green Still Life Stem Vases

I came across Midgley Green late last year, and was instantly smitten by their products, sourced from British makers. From ceramics to wood-working and textiles, their eye for selecting minimalist pieces which display the skill of their craft extends to producing some stunning product photography. When you’re able to convince me that I want a stem vase, I’m seriously impressed!

Midgley Green Still Life Ceramics

Something which I’ve been debating for a while is whether to invest in a rug to cover our thin, rental-property carpet. While it’s not a good idea to get something which might not suit us long-term, not to mention filling a large square room is going to mean sizing difficulties, it certainly doesn’t stop me looking.

When it comes to decorating with neutral colours, texture and layering are the keys for creating an interesting space. So while I’m keen to keep the look simple, it’s fine details which will give these rugs added value.

In some cases it’s just a question of proportions – this rug from Hay Design comes with a satisfying amount of fringing at the end.

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Another ‘new for 2016’, Team Decorum relocated their office to London’s Southbank. Full of excitement as we decorate the space, I’ve decided to treat my desk! I’m abandoning my clear perspex desk tidy in favour of this elegant wooden version from Andrew Cunningham. The slot makes a great storage solution for business cards but I’ll be using it to display some precious postcards.

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So while I revel in the calm and the quiet, will you be too? Leave a comment and let me know! (And start counting to see how long it lasts!)

Foyer Favourite: Black Swan, Klaus Haapaniemi & Co

The year has started with a mad dash and it seems like I’ve already booked myself up until spring – one of the fantastic excursions which I’ve been on so far was a trip to watch Swan Lake. It was my first time seeing this particular ballet by Tchaikovsky and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The following day I re-watched Black Swan, eager to hear the haunting soundtrack once more.

My dreams being filled with fluttering feathers and magical swans, when I stumbled across Klaus Haapaniemi & Co I couldn’t resist writing about their black swan design, most beautifully realised in these cushions.

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Not nearly as sinister as Odile -the black swan who betrays Odette by seducing her love Siegfried and thereby condemning Odette to being trapped as a white swan forever – the stylised pattern still retains a mysterious quality. Whether this was the intention of the designer or not, folk styles always evoke a fairytale quality as they come closest to their medieval origins. Haapaniemi cites art and ballet as inspirations for his work, along with traditional Finnish storytelling and decorative arts.

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But while the style is purely folk-chic the cushions have a modern execution, printed in vibrant colours on a cotton velvet. If you’re not looking for something so bold, there is also a swan design available in a dark teal brocade (and a pale grey version as well).

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I would recommend taking a look at Klaus’ other designs, or heading over to his beautiful East London store. Other designs include rabbits and cats embroidered on silk, and if you like your wardrobe to reflect your home (or visa versa) you can also get detailed brooches and scarves.

Which design is your favourite? Do you know other designers who are inspired by folk arts that I should know about?

New Year Resolutions

I almost wrote this post, then didn’t, then did. Sometimes I’m concerned about oversharing, or being too personal for what is primarily an interiors blog. But being a diarist has given me the need to record, to state my intentions, and the arrival of January has filled me with an enthusiasm which I need to try and bottle. 

2015 was one of my best years – filled with immense strokes of luck and serendipitous timing – which saw me go from a disheartening job and a long-distance relationship to getting my dream job and a flat to share with my boyfriend with an ease which I would never have dared hope for. It felt like the first real stride forward after a long post-university stagnation.

By the end of the year I’d laid a good foundation. After moving house eight times in six years it was a relief to unpack without already having plans to leave. I’ve finally got a salary which will allow me to get my house in order (both literally and figuratively), and save for the future. And my plans for 2016 all build on this:

1. Reconnect my mind and body. Now I have a desk job this has become more important than ever. I want to end my year stronger, lighter and more flexible than I started, and I want to do this by being in tune with myself. Dancing is great, but I want to include more walking, swimming and yoga. A major inspiration behind this is the Franklin method.

2. Build my skill set. Just before Christmas I started playing the violin. My boyfriend and I speak French three days a week, and I’ll still be doing dance lessons and workshops – and that’s not including new skills for work. I might pick up something else along the way, but I’m excited to see where these will take me.

3. Rediscover the joy of learning. It took me a while to realise it, but since graduating I’ve had little desire to absorb new knowledge due to an academic burnout. I wanted to kill my free time in front of the TV, and it’s been hard to realise that I’ve lost some of my childhood curiosity. Thankfully I think I’m ready to start again, and my love of reading remains. I think the best way to start is to explore whatever takes my fancy!

4. Use money carefully, and chase the big dreams. I’m coming to realise that these two are deeply related. Money is a tool which allows us to shape life how we want it, and hopefully being focused on what I want will make me a little wiser about how I spend and save. 

Tomorrow my holiday ends and the year starts in earnest – and I am so ready to get started!