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March 13, 2015

As a North London boy I’m usually specifying for projects in trade showrooms around Islington and Clerkenwell but occasionally I’ll head down to the design shops of Chelsea. For as long as I can remember at the far end of the Kings Road, just as it becomes the New King’s Road, there has been the gorgeous furniture showroom Channels. With my love of all things natural I am always drawn to the beautiful wooden furniture in their window – although usually from the car, catching a quick glance before the traffic moves on!

Channels : Kerning

Channels at 3 New Kings Road opened in early 1995 so they are celebrating 20 years in the showroom this year. And what better way to celebrate than the recent award Samuel Chan, the founder of Channels, won at the Homes & Gardens designer awards last month. The award for Best Furniture Designer was for the Kerning collection, and in particular the Kerning sideboard. This piece strips back the design to basic principles and shows the American white oak in its simplest form.

Channels : Kerning

Throughout the Kerning collection the principle that defines the collection is the importance of ‘light and shade’ – this is demonstrated by the gap detail around the doors. On the cabinets this 15mm gap allows you to open the doors but more importantly frames the furniture. Samuel Chan says “With this collection I wanted to create furniture pieces that look utterly simple but that have an immediate perceptible depth and quality”. Well in my opinion you can almost taste the quality of these pieces – simple indeed, but also incredibly beautiful.

Channels : Kerning

You can find full details of the Kerning collection on the Channels website where you will also find their entire range of furniture – do check out the Hume Book Towers, if you fancy a library at home but lack room these could be the answer.

If you have enjoyed this post why don’t you head over to our page on Facebook, or follow me for my regular updates on twitter. Full details of all our Design and Build services can be found on our website.

Mockbee & Co

March 11, 2015

Although not always possible I really have a strong urge to specify home-made products on our interior design projects. Too often people think they have to run off to European suppliers to achieve the most stylish interiors when the reality is we have some much amazing talent here at home.

I recently discovered Mockbee & Co and am really pleased to hear that the founders, Jessica and Lorenzo Lozano share my love of British design. With a history of working in interior design and for design houses they bring more than 25 years of industry experience to their new company.

Mockbee & Co

Mockbee & Co feature a range of products for interiors in their collection including furniture, lighting and rugs – it is their wallpaper range which really excites me though. I love the Sea Lace design which features a hand drawn illustration that shows the amazing natural world under the sea.

Mockbee & Co : Sea Lace

The inspiration for this design comes from giant underwater forests where seaweeds become entwined and encapsulated. I can almost see movement in the illustration, the gentle waves caressing the seaweeds.

The Sea Lace collection has been designed exclusively for Mockbee & Co by Sara Phillips and is available in 6 colours with 2 metallic options.

Mockbee & Co

Recently added to the Sea Lace collection are lampshades in the design. These would be suitable for pendant or lamp bases installation and come in two different sizes. My favourite is the Charcoal and Gold metallic colour with the copper lining. The lining creates a soft glow to the room when lit.

The founders Jessica and Lorenzo source their new products by building relationships with new designers. They regularly scour designer shows and exhibitions to find new emerging talent, and Jessica lectures to students at UK universities helping them to enter the interiors industry. Head over to their website now and find out more about their collection – I’m just working out which project I can use this wallpaper on!

Room of the Week

March 9, 2015

This week’s Room of the Week is a smart bedroom which features a modern panelled wall. Traditional style panelling has been given a contemporary look by finishing it in a dark grey. The monochrome scheme dominates the room but it is softened by adding bright orange furniture.

A monochrome decorating style is easy to pull together but you need to add some details to make it a successful scheme. Pattern and texture are key to doing this. Try to ensure you have a mixture of textures in your room, this room features stripes and patterned fabric – and textures in the dark bedspread and leather chair.

One of my favourite darks is Lamp Black from Little Greene. I’m not a fan of really dark greys that are almost black for walls, they are too dull and dead for my interiors. I prefer to lighten it up a few shades but still be firmly on the dark side. Lamp Black meets my criteria, it’s perfect if you want to go dark in style – I’ve just specified this colour for a master bedroom project.

Little Greene : Lamp Black

Adding other colour to a monochrome room by the use of furniture adds another level of detail to the room. It is also provide you with another aspect of your decoration scheme to pick up. The new cube range from Kelly Hoppen is available in a range of sizes and styles, and over 10 colours. If you’ve chosen a grey scheme the orange or pink cubes would be perfect for adding a pop of colour.

Remember to plan your own monochrome room carefully to ensure it is a success. Try to include different textures and some pattern – add a splash of extra colour – and your room will be a winner!

This room was originally featured in the extensive galleries of House to Home. Take a look over at their website for room inspiration, and be sure to check back here every week to find which one of the rooms has been showcased.

Maggie’s – helping cancer patients through good design

March 6, 2015

Great design isn’t just about making things pretty and creating that ‘wow’ factor everyone wants. Through well executed design you can actually enhance people’s lives and help them through troubled times. This has been demonstrated in the centres of Maggie’s, a charity which offers free support to people with cancer and their friends and family.

My own battle against cancer started when I was diagnosed with cancer in my knee bone when I was just 18. I endured many months of chemotherapy and life changing surgery but 27 years later I’m a proud survivor. Back in the 1980’s, although I cannot fault the treatment and care I received, the concept of using great design in health centres didn’t exist. It was therefore really interesting to visit Maggie’s West London centre recently to see how times have changed.

Maggie's West London

Maggie’s was founded in 1995 by Maggie Keswick Jencks and her husband Charles Jencks who is a landscape architect. Maggie lived with advanced cancer for 2 years and was determined that people with cancer should not ‘lose the joy of living in the fear of dying’. The first centre opened in November 1996 and there are currently 18 centres around the country. The charity is now run by Laura Lee who was Maggie’s Oncology Nurse.

Maggie's West London

Every Maggie’s centre follows the blueprint for a different type of cancer care as laid down by Maggie. At the heart of each centre there is a large kitchen table where people can gather and just talk, laugh, cry – while enjoying tea and biscuits! I know from my own experience that talking to others going through the same process is a great help.

Maggie's West London

Another principle is that there is no reception desk in the centre, any time it is open you can walk in and someone will greet you. Within the open space of the centre you will also find many more intimate areas that can be used for informal meetings or some time for personal reflection. One of my favourite places is a small space at the end of a corridor where you will find one chair in a quiet area with views over the courtyard – a perfect space to sit and contemplate.

The charity’s centre in West London was the sixth Maggie’s built when it opened in April 2008. Designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners the centre sits quietly in a corner of the grounds of the Charing Cross Hospital in Hammersmith. The design was awarded the RIBA Stirling Prize & Award for London 2009, and after just a few minutes in the centre you can appreciate how well designed it is. Although located on the busy Fulham Place Road the world outside is forgotten due to the peaceful calming nature of the centre.

Maggie's West London

You soon realise how many trends of today appear in the centre. There is extensive use of concrete in the centre – this is now very fashionable to use in residential interiors. I also found a Scandinavian influence in some of the rooms which feature Secto Design lamps with wooden strip shades. And with interiors becoming more colourful you can’t miss the bold orange used on the exterior of the building.

Maggie's West London

The centre includes three courtyard gardens to allow visitors to get outdoors when the weather allows. Dan Pearson Studio was responsible for the landscape architecture of the centre which features evergreen bamboos, lush grasses and much more! Throughout the year the centre’s horticulturist works with visitors to maintain the gardens, a very therapeutic activity. You immediately get a sense of activity (participation is voluntary!) at the centre – on the day we visited a men’s group was meeting for the weekly group session which includes time in the gym and a communal lunch. The internal configuration of the rooms allows for a flexible layout so on another day two rooms are combined to create space for a Tai Chi class.

Maggie's West London

Maggie’s West London Centre is many things to many people. You don’t need an appointment, you just drop in and someone will be there for you. Maybe you need to learn more about your cancer, or are helping a family member on their own battle. You might call in the centre for support from health professionals   or you just fancy a cup of tea and biscuit at the kitchen table and a moan to people who will understand you.

You can find more information at Maggie’s website about the work. Surprisingly only 10% of the UK population know about Maggie’s centres so please help spread the word by sharing this post – and remember when you need them they will be there for you, just walk in.

Keir Townsend Belle lights

March 4, 2015

Planning a new interior for your home? Know what one of the first things you need to think about is? Lighting! On the first fix of a renovation you need to decide where your feature lights will be and get cables in the right place to avoid costly changes later. This is also the time to explore different options for your lighting and discover new fittings.

The latest Belle and Belle Small fittings from Keir Townsend would make a great feature in any room especially if installed in a cluster like this. They are manufactured in ceramic with the exterior available in three finishes. The braided cord adds another layer of detail to the design.

Keir Townsend

The fitting is available in two sizes, the Belle small has a diameter of 30cm – the Belle is oversized with a diameter of 45cm. Mixing up the two sizes would be a lovely signature light installation over a dining table – and the style would work equally well in a modern or traditional interior.

Keir Townsend

You can head over to the Keir Townsend website to find more information about their products. If you are renovating to create the home of your dreams these fittings would definitely enhance your interior. Check out the stunning polished bronze finish available – it’s not cheap but lighting is one place you should invest in for your home, and you can always take it with you when you move!

If you have enjoyed this post why don’t you head over to our page on Facebook, or follow me for my regular updates on twitter. Full details of all our Design and Build services can be found on our website.

Room of the Week

March 2, 2015

This week’s Room of the Week is a modern living room decorated with shades of blue and an accent feature wallpaper. As featured recently on our blog strong blue is making a huge comeback into interiors with many paint companies promoting new colours in their range. Over dinner this week someone asked me how they could decorate with blue without it looking cold – today we are sharing a couple of tricks to ensure you’ll never have a room with a chilly interior.

The strong large print wallpaper in our Room of the Week adds detail and interest to the interior. The colour of this is complemented by furniture in a blue fabric – this fabric has an interesting texture to avoid it becoming dull. You can just see small touches of more complementary colour in the orange flowers in the room – this colour addition helps to diffuse the blues in the room hence no coolness.

Many people have a misconception that all blues are cold. This isn’t true, choose the right one and your room can still appear comforting and homely. I often prefer blues that have a touch of green in them, it can help to warm them up. Little Greene Canton is a super colour for living room, it has a great depth and doesn’t feel cold. For adding some strong accents you can use Little Green Thai Sapphire to compliment Canton.

Little Greene: Canton - Thai Sapphire

Another way I like to add blue to an interior is through the use of patterned wallpaper. This allows you to add a softer blue due to the paper finish. This wallpaper from Cole & Son called Great Wave has a large scale pattern and would add a subtle touch of blue to an interior. I’d suggest this wallpaper is used with some stronger blues to supplement it. The blue white combination in this paper is also very calming.

Cole & Son

If you still aren’t ready to believe you can have blues that aren’t cold try adding some blue in your accessories first. This allows you to test the colour in your own home before you start decorating the walls. This rug from Stepevi would liven up any interior. Any coolness is banished by the richness of the texture in the rug.


This room was originally featured in the extensive galleries of House to Home. Take a look over at their website for room inspiration, and be sure to check back here every week to find which one of the rooms has been showcased.

Baines&Fricker furniture

February 27, 2015

It’s just a few months until Clerkenwell Design Week in May and I’m excited to see that Baines&Fricker will be exhibiting for the first time this year. They will be showing two new furniture ranges.

Baines&Fricker was started in 2011 by a Brighton based husband and wife team, Steve Baines is a furniture maker and his wife Eliza Fricker is an illustrator and screen printer. I already love some of their wallpaper, especially the Bird Cages design, so it’s great to see their range expanding with more furniture.

Baines & Fricker

The new Pew range obviously draws influence from the pew bench seating found in churches. I like the simplicity of this range and it would look good in any style of interior. The unstained Raw finish has a classic look to it and would make a great hallway seat for a classically styled interior. My favourite finish though is the colour stained versions of the Pew range. In an all white interior a couple of Pew chairs in the vibrant blue would make a great talking point.

Baines & Fricker

The other new range launching is the Ply range. The aim of this range was to develop a chair that was striped back to its simplest panes but with a refined form. Inspiration for this form was found in a poster from a 1935 exhibition in Zurich. Plywood has a natural warmth but is also has good sustainability and durability properties. Adding optional upholstered pads in bright Kvadrat fabric will allow you to add colour to this range.

Baines & Fricker

I’m really looking forward to seeing – and obviously road testing – these products in person at Clerkenwell in May. If you can’t wait until then head over to the Baines&Fricker website now and find out more information on the two new ranges.

If you have enjoyed this post why don’t you head over to our page on Facebook, or follow me for my regular updates on twitter. Full details of all our Design and Build services can be found on our website.


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