Monday, 15 September 2014

Object of the day: New Eley Kishimoto wallpapers

Weeeeeell, if I can't write about eye-popping budget-stretching wallpaper during the London Design Festival, when else? (The event started this weekend and goes on until next Sunday.)

I'm a big fan of Eley Kishimoto clothes, and the print mad design duo's expanding homewares range excites me greatly. And it's not for the faint-hearted...

This is my favourite of the wallpaper designs that the brand – aka Mark Eley and Wakako Kishimoto – is launching at Decorex, which kicks off as LDF ends on Sunday.

Would you put it in your house?

It would really lift a room, for sure. I'm seeing it as the backdrop to a wall of white shelves, holding a disciplined display.

It also would look fantastic as the best feature wall/corner you'd ever seen, in an otherwise black-painted room, too (feature walls are back apparently, but I always favour a wall and a turn to mix things up a little).

The wallpaper range builds on these, which I wrote about when they exhibited them a few years back in an exhibition of them at the capital's Aram Store. Here's one of the other new designs.

Left: Mark Eley and Wakako Kishimoto

A very Eley Kishimoto take on a classic design. Again, with a crisp white theme around it, this would energise a room no end. I'd love to see it in a wide entrance hallway, with white-painted floorboards. The papers are going to be priced at £160 per roll.

But if you can't afford them, or don't have an interior that could accommodate such boldness, you can enjoy them – along with designs by many other interesting names – in an exhibition that runs until the end of October.

Above: Tracy Kendall and Louise Body, two of the designers whose work will appear at the London Print Studio exhibition

Designers on show at Artists' Interior Worlds include Lizzie Allen, whose Festival of Britain print you may remember from a few years back, when she was commissioned to create it in celebration of the Royal Festival Hall's 60th birthday (and you can still buy prints taken from it at the Southbank shop). There will also be work by Timorous Beasties, whose deviant urban Toile designs must surely be Britain's most popular gastropub loo wall covering. Also on show is Deborah Bowness, she of the fake wall of library books and CUSTHOM, digital embroidery meisters who I featured here. The Chapman brothers have created a design called ‘Insult to Injury’, which apparently "reworks Goya’s ‘Los Caprichos’ etchings to outrageous effect". Of course. All these, among a vast rollcall of more interesting names.

The exhibition, which aims to pit classical artists against contemporary designers, sounds totally brilliant. It runs until 1 November at

Friday, 12 September 2014

Real homes: an artistic hoarder's creative curation

Emy Gray owns Brixi, a pretty special shop near where I live, in Brixton*. 

We got to know each other because I'm regularly in the shop, frequently loitering and ogling beautiful things I can't justify buying. We're also collaborating on something rather exciting shortly too, more of which at the bottom of this post...

Brixi is more of an art gallery than a shop in some respects; Emy, a former art student and Essex chick (as well as one-time cheese trader and fashion PR, separate jobs I'm guessing) describes herself as "obsessive" about collecting art and design. As such, her shop is full of the things she's hoarded – spectacular oddities and things you're unlikely to see many other places – and also hosts regular artist residencies, I loved the work of painter Abe Odedina last year, and Emy's shop also introduced me to the brilliantly bonkers mosaic artist, Stephen Wright whose extraordinary house I visited here.

So I've always wondered, as interiors writers and noseys like me do, what her house was like. And Emy has been kind enough to give me a tour...

As you'd expect, it's full of lots of the excellently odd things you'll see for sale in the shop. "I’m a fully paid up member of the ‘style over practically’ gang," says Emy. "I can eek out the beauty in most things and, to the dismay of family and boyfriends, there are things I've hoarded and accumulated over the years squirrelled away in attics, sheds and outbuildings of willing and unwilling parties. I’m teetering on the edge or requiring a storage unit..."

I love the colour of the woodwork, very 50s in a muted, post-war kind of a way, and the green floors and bold blocks of colour everywhere.

That looks like a very good kitchen table for late-night wine drinking.

The black kitchen wall features again. A great idea if I do say so myself (ahem, and here's my own – quite different – version).

Love the yellow portrait plate and friendly chalk scribblings.

If you like what you see, and you're in the smoke next week for the London Design Festival, there's news here too: Brixton is the event's newest Design District. Impressive, non?

It promises to be "the people's design week" and as part of the many fabulous events taking place (including the excellent-looking Regal Brixton throne-led photography exhibition), Emy is curating an art event called BRIXI's Army. Among other things, it involves a tiny exhibition inside a golden horsebox. Like.

Good wine stash. Happy blue wall. Great pots.

Emy says Brixton's brashness, chaos and noise have shaped her style since she moved there, and that she's "no longer so afraid of colour". Unlike the existing design district events, Brixton's offering promises to make Brixton itself very visible in the many exhibits – not least in the project inspired by Brixton's heritage to transform the town hall in a dramatic way, and highlight the need to invest in Brixton's youth.

When a room doesn't get much light, there's no point painting it white to try to brighten it up. It'll just look grubby. Dark and moody is the way to go. Love the jewellery storage rail.
Did I mention Emy's hoarding? Good oddities – and proof that pretty much anything with a mono colour theme totally works as a display.

Chirpy colours. Happy garden.
I wonder if these very ancient-looking gnomes were part of the haul found this week at Stonehenge...

Thanks Emy. Love your flat!

Now check out Emy's hot shop at – and if you're in the area, do go see her London Design Festival show at Brixton East, it runs from next Tuesday 16 to Wednesday 17 September as part of Brixton Design Week and as well as the above-mentioned artists, it'll also feature work from inventive ceramicist and lover of discarded treasures, AmyDouglas and Leah Reeves maker of Mexican-inspired mosaics.

And now for the next bit of exciting design news, about which I shall write at greater length shortly. I have been asked, along with Emy and the most excellent Supermarket Sarah, to curate the Crafty Fox Christmas Fair. I am VERY excited. More to come, but meanwhile you can read about it here – and if you're a person who makes things that other people buy, definitely read about it as submissions are open. Woop!

Merry, and stylish weekends all. I shall endeavour to fill my Instagram feed with fabulous London Design Festival images over the next week... I'm ridiculously new to this social medium (shame on me) and have about three followers, so do join me:

* 'Brixi' refers to an ancient local stone/landmark dating back to 1060, in case you were wondering.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Guest post: create affordable washi tape art with Hannah Cox of the Crafternoon Club

Today I'm pleased to be passing you into the capable and creative hands of Hannah Cox, pictured below, founder of excellently inventive hybrid, the Crafternoon Club (where cabaret meets craft – what else?).

Hannah, who has a prestigious Mollie Makes Handmade Awards trophy under her belt – or, rather under her (hand-sewn) apron – is sharing an affordable interiors trick to spruce up walls for next to nothing. (And it's perfect for needle-phobic craft weaklings like me.) Over to you Hannah...

I’m absolutely delighted to have been asked to create a guest blog for You Home Is Lovely. I’m a huge fan of finding simple ways to update my home and add a crafty DIY twist wherever I can so I decided to share this easy wall art tutorial to add a pop of colour to your home with my favourite material of the moment – washi tape.

Washi tape is really easy to use so if this is your first foray into the world of crafts and DIY this is a great place to begin, why not invite some friends round and make a proper Crafternoon of it!

The great thing about this DIY is that you can alter the colours, look and feel to work with your own home and you don’t even have to be able to thread a needle to complete your own piece of wall art. Actually you barely need to be able to use scissors. You just need to pick colours and then get creative.

You will need
  • Artist canvas – I’ve used 20cm x 20cm canvasses but you could easily go bigger. These canvasses can be bought from Amazon or Rymans.
  • Washi tape – go bright and go bold. eBay is a fantastic place to source mountains of washi tape in every colour of the rainbow and every pattern imaginable.
Step one: choose Choose your colours – some would say this is the hardest part.  Think about the other colours in your room and whether you want complimentary shades or a contrasting pop of colour.  Today I’m making one monochrome piece, the beginnings of which you can see above) and one that is all about the neon.

Step two: design and stick Although washi tape is low tack – which means it’s very easy to peel off once it’s stuck in place – you don’t want to do this too much in case you lose the crisp edge of the tape. Think about your design. You can create straight bold lines across your canvas, cut your tape into pieces to create smaller shapes or even layer your tape onto grease-proof paper to cut out a larger solid shape such as circles or letters.

For my monochrome piece I have gone for strong straight lines running vertically and horizontally across the canvas and weaving around each other (under and over) as they go. For subtle, added visual interest I increased the gap between the lines each time.

For my neon piece I wanted to create the effect of sunburst light – although the final effect could equally be lazers and lights at a festival.  I worked with one colour from each corner and lay rows of tape spreading out like light beams. I also gave these lines a woven effect, which with the slightly thinner tape made some lovely midway colours.

Step three: neaten and tuck Any tape pieces that go over the edge of your canvas should be tucked around to the back so you hide the ends.  It’s also worth trimming any tape edges on the top of the canvas to make sure the lines are neat and strong. 

Step four: hang and admire Get your beautiful new artwork up on your wall and admire your work – go on, pour yourself a glass of wine and turn it into a fancy private view of the latest addition to your collection.

My new washi tape creations are hung alongside a beautiful stitching illustration I was given as a nice-to-meet-you gift and my button bird – another tutorial you can find on my blog for your next afternoon of makery.

Crafternoon Cabaret Club is a monthly saturday afternoon of craft and cabaret, which takes place at the Hospital Club in central London. 

For more information visit
Twitter @CrafternoonClub 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Amara Interior Blog Awards: Vote for Your Home is Lovely

Well, well. I've been nominated for an Amara interiors blog award. How very exciting.

Just click on the image above to vote for me (if you'd like to).

The awards are divided into several categories and Your Home is Lovely has been nominated for – no sniggering those who read about my grouting misadventure – Best DIY Blog. Apparently, the thrust is more about bloggers who get stuck in with glue guns, hammers, paintbrushes (and grout, no doubt), which I certainly do. Perhaps it's time to share the cardboard and glue-gun lampshades I made at Christmas but have been too embarrassed to air... hmm, then again...

Anyway, I'm most happy about it. And if you enjoy what you read and see here, please do click on the giant badge to vote – it takes half a minute. In order to get into the finals, I need to make the top five and there's some stiff competition, let me tell you. Voting closes on 3 October.

The nomination has made me realise just how much DIY has appeared on the blog. Here, in no particular order, are some of my favourite old posts: there's the one where (apparently) I narrowly avoided giving the kitchen a 1980s caravan vibe, the one where I painted a tiny room all in the same brave colour, ceiling, skirtings, door and all and it didn't look like a torture dungeon, the one where an ancient Ikea purchase got swanked up, the one where the kitchen table became utterly baffling and the one where I nearly lost my mind in Berlin. Enjoy! And vote! (Please.)

Monday, 8 September 2014

Object of the day: insanely cute animal wall stickers for kids

I stumbled across these door decorations from Finland on Etsy. 

If you're prone to being swayed by interiors trends (guilty) you might be thinking: wall-stickers, aren't they a bit 2011? Pah. Just try to think of trends while looking at these nice, friendly faces.

The vinyl stickers are made and sold by a little Helsinki-based company called Made of Sundays and cost around £28 each. What a sweet, inexpensive way to warm up a child's room.

Above (bottom image) is Haru the Bear. The nose, eyes, paws, and so on come as individual pieces, and so the little creatures can be configured to fit on all sorts of different sized surfaces. MoS will also custom make different sizes and designs if you have a special request.

Too cute.

Find them at the Made of Sundays Etsy shop.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Travel: some reasons to make Palm Springs your next holiday

I spied some snaps of a friend's holiday on Facebook and it looked so amazing I asked her to share. The photos, specifically, were of the Palm Springs modernist architecture tour she'd just done.

Among the many gems, the intimate, three-hour tour features the Kaufmann house, commissioned by the same family who commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water. You get the idea. Over to you, Jacqui Ripley...

We were planning a little two week road trip this year in Southern California starting with LA and ending in San Diego, so my husband suggested Palm Springs as the in-between pit stop.

Above: The colourful Saguaro hotel, Coachella

I didn’t know too much about Palm Springs only it was in the desert and flooded with cool hipsters for Coachella in April. But wow, what a gorgeous place. Firstly, you feel small. In a good way. Surrounded by mountains that stretch on for miles gives you a healthy spatial perspective, and the second things that strikes you is the lack of tower blocks and ugly architecture that most places harbour.

Palm Springs has always been a playground for the rich and famous – Bob Hope had a party house there as did Frank Sinatra [his place, Twin Palms, is pictured above], Marilyn Monroe had a very cutsey house and recently Leonardo DiCaprio has bought a property there. Apparently, when in town he goes around with his cap pulled down, baggy shorts and surrounded by gorgeous women. He’s hard to miss.

Above: The gorgeous holiday rental Jacqui stayed in, with Jacqui pictured in the middle shot

I visited Elvis Presley’s Honeymoon Hideaway house [below] in which he lived in for a year after his marriage to Priscilla Presley. A tour like no other, nothing is off limits. You can sit on the sofas and the bed Lisa Marie Presley was conceived!

Above: Elvis Presley's Honeymoon Hideaway, where Jacqui makes herself at home

But the most interesting part for me was the architects – a father and son combo called George and Robert Alexander.

Above: (clockwise) Bob Alexander and his wife in lived in the modernist home Bob designed until their untimely deaths; Elvis's Honeymoon Hideaway

Together they were the Alexander Construction Company and built over 2,000 houses in the Coachella Valley through the mid-50s to 60s and caused the city to take on a distinctive Mad Men vibe thanks to their modernist style. I kind of got obsessed with this family where tragically both father and son and their wives all died in a plane crash in 1965 leaving their 11-year-old daughter and grand-daughter an orphan.

Beyond the appreciation of mid-century retro homes (with car ports) and architectural name drops such as Albert Frey [see his house, just outside Palm Springs, above] and William F Cody, both visionaries in mid-century modern architecture, the architects on the block have added glass, steel and infinity pools but have played an 21st Century blinder by adding to the desert-scape instead of taking away. Just go, really, just go.

I rented my holiday home from which have the best places to rent. Just drool over their properties, and you could make like Don Draper on vacation for a week!

Words: Jacqui Ripley

Images: Jacqui Ripley, JDV Hotels, Palm Springs Modern Tours, Beau Monde Villas and

And if that's not enough to satisfy you, check out these incredible images in Palm Springs Life of John Lautner’s 1968-built Elrod House

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Real homes: am I the hoarder next door?

If ever I needed evidence that I had hoarding issues, my garage is it. 

But during the August break, its purging is just one of many cleansing activities I've got up to. I shudder to relive the ordeal through this "before" photo, below...

This garage was in trouble before I'd even moved in (when you get to the oven picture you'll see why). But over the years, with different configurations of people living in the house, it had become a monstrous, seething black hole of procrastination: everything I didn't quite know what to do with went into this increasingly frightening holding area, a symbol of my lack of domestic discipline. Redecorating anything became impossible as I'd barricaded in the paints and brushes and Polyfilla, and even using it for bike storage was becoming difficult.

I am ashamed, I'll admit it: but the more space you have, the more you fill it up with crap, right? Oh to be ruthlessly tidy and de-cluttered by nature (any tips?). Anyway, so here's how the clear-out went.

First we had to get everything out and sort it into piles. Which threw up some interesting choices I'd made over the years.

Like to keep buying battered chairs from secondhand shops (including those out of shot, there were, gulp, 13)...

...and never to throw out the hefty dresser left behind by the previous occupants because it was too heavy. One day, I thought, I'll paint it and make it look amazing. Now this task has finally been passed on. Along with the oven which I insisted on bringing from my old flat despite having no intention of ever installing it in the kitchen here. Top grills are just so rare these days, and it's so pretty – how could I throw it out? Who would appreciate it as I had? Good Lord. As if by magic, a man with a junk collecting van pulled up just as I was agonising over parting with this duo. And off they went. Sniff.

With the bulkiest items out, I could start to grapple with what the hell was in all those boxes.

Well, there were treasures such as my English A-level York Notes for WH Auden. (And these, blush, have unjustifiably found their way back into the house – oh dear.)

This black and white TV, already "vintage" when it lived in my teenage bedroom, hammering out grainy re-runs of Cagney & Lacey, went to the electrical recycling place. 

I'm quite glad I kept some letters (though why I had ever felt the need to pad these out with old schoolwork, God only knows). A lovely find was this postcard from my dear gran when I was at university, swanking about some glamorous pensioners' cruise she was on, and noting my fickle romantic fads.

A toy dog hand-me-down dog dating back to the 1940s by the look of it, and once on wheels. For a while he did look good on a shelf but he's lived in the garage now for a good few years. He has such a sad face that I've never been able to chuck him out beyond the garage purgatory, I couldn't imagine those mournful button eyes staring back at me from a bin bag.

One of the scary boxes contained yet more old schoolwork (why!) including this A-Level essay on Macbeth, obviously kept because good marks were such a novelty, as my teacher's surprised tone suggests.

I wrote about some of this cute packaging in the early years of this blog. But the long-since empty boxes, pretty as they are, finally had to go.

These fairy-light lampshades bought on a Thai holiday in about 2007, would look lovely if I'd ever found the patience to open up and fit them to fairy lights. It was time to accept this was never going to happen.

But this was a nice find. It was something I'd come across when clearing out my gran's house after she died – but had forgotten about it since. It was a gift she must have bought when I was a baby, with the intention of giving to me on my 21st birthday. I assume she just forgot about it by the time I was 21. 

Inside was this silver dressing table set, with my initials engraved onto each piece. 

OK, OK. It's about time for the big tidy reveal isn't it?

Obviously in an ideal world I'd whitewash floor and walls and hang strategic squares of pegboard for beautiful-looking wall-mounted tools. 

But nails in breeze blocks will have to do for now.

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