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Retro lunchbox

It's a bit silly, but this 'I Love London' lunchbox is very sweet. It might make a nice cake or biscuit tin for the kitchen, or just spruce up your Tuppaware collection with it.

The illustration is very cute and reminds me of hand-me-down picture books I was read as a child, and makes me wish I lived in 1960s London and could commute alongside men in trilby hats and wear smart, swish outfits all the time. Which of course would be most tiresome really... but that's my romantic vision and I'm sticking to it. 

Anyway - this comes from Bouf, which is a spectacular website if you're not familiar (it's essentially a storefront for all sorts of interesting small-scale designers). And it comes from I Love Retro and costs £7.16 (random price, but it's on sale right now, so get in quick).

Midcentury Show in
London and Bristol

The Midcentury Show in Dulwich, southeast London (Sunday 14 November, 10am-4pm) and Bristol (Sunday 28 November, same times), attracts dealers from all over the country, once a year. 

The event is now in its eighth year, and bigger than ever - with more stalls and lovely vintage goodies packed in than ever. Exhibitors selling both vintage and vintage inspired wares, include Mark Parrish, whose online shop I love; Lucy Bates, who collects original 1960s and 70s fabric from Heals and other lovely places; and Ruth Green, whose old-school style graphics adorn ceramics, wall stickers and prints. Find out more at the Midcentury Show's website.

Vintage style lampshade from the Peanut Vendor

LOVE this new but old-style ceramic pleat pendant lampshade, with a distinctive green and black cord, from The Peanut Vendor

"New, but a vintage item of the future" they say. Quite. £95 - not cheap, but in that context an investment - surely?

Home office under the stairs?

If you ever work from home - where do you do it? I've currently got a dog with a wonky leg who isn't allowed out, which means I've been working from home lots more than usual... and even though I had my under-stairs area fitted out with a desk (some painted MDF shelves) a couple of years ago, I've never really used it. 

And the kitchen table is just too tempting (fellow home-workers, you'll know what I mean - it's not just the proximity to the fridge and the kettle, but the temptation to sweep up, empty the bin, deadhead the wilting flowers I can see through the window...).

So I looked long and hard at my little cubbyhole and thought that perhaps I wasn't using it for a reason. It had become somewhat of a hall dumping ground, meaning the deskspace had shrunk, and it didn't feel - well, very inspiring. So last night I gave it a bit of a makeover (click for more images), using the Penguin Classics postcards I recently bought, a set of cards from Habitat a few years ago (by Jean Widmer), some of my 8-year-old nephew's artwork - and a lot of de-cluttering (a huge pile of interiors mags acts as a screen for work clutter, while the perspex CD holder makes a great 'add your own art' desk tidy. There's also my cherished Jane Foster owl print, a laminated cocktail menu I swiped from a bar with cocktails named after 'cult dames', including Pat Butcher, Cheryl Tweedy and Jane Birkin. It now looks quite inviting I thought - even the dog is sleeping under the newly empty space under the desk. What do you think?

Under the stairs office gallery

Great Dame cocktail list, pinched after an
event at a bar. Click to enlarge for recipes.

My plaster head (much heavier than stone, but same look)
and the stack of homesy mags hiding a multitude of clutter. Oh,
and if you like the Bjorn Wiinblad wall plaque (right of the mirror)
check out Pip's Trip, where you can buy these 1970s Danish beauties.

Slightly better lighting (and my non glamorous DIY book 
propping up the laptop)

Artwork courtesy of my nephew Riley - displayed in a
perspex Habitat CD storage box.

Nice little things, including a mug my granny made me as a child and a
cup and vintage birthday card, presents from my stylish neighbours
Emma and Sarah. The little cat ceramics are Japanese saki cups, from Tokyo.

Tricia Guild inspiration
(and interview in today's Independent)

My mum used to take me to Tricia Guild's shop on the King's Road in the 1980s (I was the small child struggling to fulfill my brief of frightening off traffic wardens because I was too busy gawping in the window of this extraordinary emporium of colour while she was inside, shopping).

Last week I interviewed the owner and founder of the Designer's Guild and was inspired to build on my brewing urge for some vibrant colours in my house. She has a (huge) new book out, A Certain Style - also very inspiring, as it charts her magic-making interior design on an array of very different homes, from a country farmhouse with a mid-modern twist to a Norman manor house whose heavy dark panelling was lifted with her innovative palette.

I'm going to post up some pictures of my hall, which is currently half white, half bare plaster. I also need some bright cushions to make my kitchen bench seat work. I'll be canvassing for opinions... Meanwhile, read my interview with her in today's Independent.

John Hinde Butlin's photos one step closer to being hung

I've already touched on my mild obsession with the John Hinde Butlin's series of photos. Now I've framed them, see above (I love these simple white frames from Ikea). 

Eventually my water-themed collection will even make it to the bathroom wall (they're going on tiles, so I want to buy some special extra strong velcro for the job).

Watch this space, or rather - watch the space in front of the loo...By the way - if you want to have a proper look at a hearty array of the Butlin's images, Wessell and O'Connor Fine Art and Photography have them displayed on their site. I am considering filling one entire bare wall in my sitting room with the best bar and dancehall tableaux. Could stare at all those faces, expressions and intriguing interactions for days.

Style spotlight: Candypop

I stumbled across the colourful Candypop via the wonderful world of Twitter:  I follow Cath Kidston, she follows Cath Kidston. CK reTweeted Candypop's link to photos of her Kidston-esque kitchen (it's quite a homage...).

So I checked Candypop out and discovered that not only does she fill her kitchen with kitschenalia, florals and heaps of colour, she also blogs about her inspirations (which include the super cute shop-window in Paris, above).

She also sells simple and sweet photos as greetings cards or posters at, like the one above, and is a prolific photo-poster: check out her Flickr stream - it's the interiors equivalent of a sweet shop. Loving your work CP.

Posh prints, swish wall stickers and affordable art: part 2

Maybe you can afford some serious one-off pieces of art for your walls. Maybe you can afford one or two. Maybe you're broke and your walls are bare. 

Either way - why not brighten up that blank space you're staring at with one of these tasty bits of design. The second in a series of three... (here's the first). Look out for the final part next Monday...

This sweet retro Swedish print would look cute in a child's bedroom. It costs £20 unframed (70x50cm) and comes from the Pussy Home Boutique. And if you're wondering what k√•rlek means... like the magic little lozenge this dinky chap is about to swallow, it's something that makes you feel all warm inside.

I've featured Blackpool Beauties before (orignally published in Picture Post in 1955), because I long lusted after them for my bathroom - but then settled on a quartet of water-themed vintage Butlin's photos by John Hinde. Love the lack of faces. This one may yet find itself into another room in the house. It costs £75, print only (10x8 inches) from 55 Max

Love the cool simplicity of this David Hockney 'A Bigger Splash' swimming pool print/exhibition poster. One of the paintings in this 1966-67 California based series, Beverly Hills Housewife, sold for £5.2 million. But this can be yours for just £45 unframed, or £160 framed, from 55 Max.

As far as I can tell, this is the last in a fantastic series of limited edition lyrics-based graphic prints from Art Republic - so if you like it, get hold of it quick... It's from the clever It's Pop It's Art series, and I'm very fond of my 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' one, which I got from Airside. There was a Marvin Gaye one too, but am also tempted by this: "I'm free you're free/I want you to touch me/Come together/As one". Classic. Buy it unframed (70x100cm, inc border) for £150.

The Days Gone By shop has a fantastic selection of vintage comic book covers and pages - including graphics from the Beano, the Dandy and Hotspur magazine (perfect for the big boy in your life). But my favourite is this 1971 Bunty cut-out wardrobe print, I'd love it for my dressing room (ha ha, when I have one that is). Get it as a ready-to-hang canvas print from £95 (for the smaller, 710mm x 508mm size).
 (love the bunty one with cut-out clothes!)

Interior design with pallets at Deptford Project and Start London

Delivery pallets: I once made a student bed out of some but never got as adventurous as the Pallet House...

...seen below with my friend Holly. It was at last weekend's Start London, a new eco event at Clarence House, London (rather disappointing apart from this and one other highlight - a swish and sexy garden that managed to be edible by Urquhart and Hunt - more of which later). 

At Start, the Pallet House was also filled with green interior design, see below, by an editor at Wallpaper* magazine. Nice.

In a bit of a pallet coincidence, the same day I also went to the wonderful Deptford Project's Silent Cinema event in the yard out the back of their sweet, southeast London cafe/bar, housed in a whitewashed, stylishly furnished railway carriage (see some lovely photos of it over at Dezeen). 

Quite apart from the brilliance of the film menu (Saturday night was part of an 80s three-dayer - Heathers, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and, our pick, The Breakfast Club: "five total strangers, a brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel and a recluse. Before the day was over they broke the rules, bared their souls and touched each other in a way they never dreamed possible"Hilariously brilliant retro heaven) there was amazing food at the barbecue, the previously mentioned coat hanger display and this super stylish impromptu screening area, above, complete with ingeniously designed furniture, by Jail Make, and colourful hand-made cushions, by Crafty Bitches – both companies operate from the arches at Deptford.

Cool, colourful coat hangers by Hive at the Deptford Project

I'm about to write some more about the lovely Deptford Project - so I won't go further than to say these ingenious coat hooks were the first thing I noticed when I arrived, last weekend. 

Aren't they cute?

There's no price online and none was listed in the little poster next to this installation, but you can find out more at Hive Design and Consultancy.

Posh prints, swish wall stickers and affordable art

Maybe you can afford some serious one-off pieces of art for your walls. Maybe you can afford one or two. Maybe you're broke and your walls are bare. 

Either way - why not brighten up that blank space you're staring at with one of these tasty bits of design. The first in a series of three... 

This retro-style double decker bus print, 50 x 70cm, is just £15 from the V&A shop and designed by Japanese illustrator Takashi Furuya. You can find more of his lovely work at this online shop and, if you can read Japanese, learn about the artist on his personal website. Even if you can't read Japanese, it's a very sweet site and still worth a glance.

This pretty 1880 Yellow Bird print, by the Edward Lear, who is perhaps more famous for his crazy limericks, is quite weeny, at just 20x25cm, but costs just £10 and is one of a series of six from the V&A shop. Random Lear facts (if Wikipedia is to be believed): he was employed by the Zoological Society to draw birds, and briefly gave drawing lessons to Queen Victoria.

I want one of these Moose-heads from the Keep Calm Gallery. In fact I might want at least six of them for one big, bare and perplexing wall in the sitting room. I love, love, love them. But I also love the donkey wall sticker that I'll come to next time. And the idea of a whole wall of Penguin Classic postcards (see below), or some more of the garishly brilliant John Hinde prints from the incredible Martin Parr edited Butlin's book that I have just realised I really ought to blog about... But back to the Moose: he's £18, measures 546mm x 349mm and comes hand-printed on brown recycled kraft paper. Not sure what that is but it looks nice. 

Purchase this chirpy poster and When life gives you lemons you'll now know what to do. This uplifting old-school looking print is designed by Douglas Wilson (check out the very chirpy portrait of the typeface-mad artist on his own site: bold outfit!). The posters are hand pressed using an antique wooden type, making each one unique. They're £30 unframed and also come from the Keep Calm Gallery

Got a big wall to fill? Make a gallery of as many Penguin Classics postcards as you can muster (there are 100 in the box) and stick them in post-card sized frames (Ikea's cardboard ones are good for mass framing and don't look like cardboard if you squint - or even if you stand quite close). Or just pick your favourite jacket and stick it in a dinky-sized spot in a more extravagant frame. Staggeringly good value at just £14.99 from the Penguin online shop.
If, like me, the brutalist concrete archictecture of London's Southbank makes you go a bit oooooh, then this limited edition Southbank Centre graphic print by Paul Catherall, which measures £40x80cm, might be worth forking out £180 for. It's a lino-cut print, something Mr Catherall has become rather famous for, and there's also his take on the Hayward Gallery and several others to peruse. For more of Paul's prints, featuring other parts of London (and New York) in colourful and monochrome graphic form try the Paul Catherall website. I love his version of the Barbican Centre.

SCP's affordable Kiosk
gift range

I'm a sucker for a nice bit of packaging. I can't usually afford things in the gorgeous SCP shop, however their new Kiosk range of gifts, on sale from 17 September, are debit card friendly and rather delicious. 

This cute Kaufmann's cream, from Germany (above), may be a tad pricey for what it is at £7.99 - but a pretty package is not just for Christmas (see below). A lovely present for stylish women who want mitts as soft as a baby's bum (or just a lovely tin to display artfully). 

There are so many tempting other items in SCP's Kiosk collection too, from an old-school carpet beater (£44.99) to a Japanese butterfly can opener (£13.99), beautifully packaged Finnish chalk (£9.80), a red plastic pocket flask (£11.30) and a cute Portuguese weather rooster (£11.99). 

Nice box: colourful packaging in my bathroom foraged from many holiday
shopping trips. I like to think it detracts from the rather unsightly uPVC windows

Florence Broadhurst cushions from John Lewis

John Lewis has just started selling these lovely Florence Broadhurst cushions. But who is Florence Broadhurst?

I first heard about the inspiring and glamorous Australian singer/dress designer/artist/ fabric designer (1899-1977) a couple of years ago, when my very stylish sister-in-law, Michelle, who lives in Sydney, sent a link to an Australian website, Signature Prints, which had exclusively begun reprinting Broadhurst's fabrics.

Hot to trot: stunning new Florence Broadhurst-designed cushions from John Lewis (the fabric's reversable -
the other side is black with cream outlines). Fans of the designer include Stella McCartney.

She suggested I pick one out and she'd send it over as a birthday present, perhaps I could get some cushion covers made... Which I did (thanks to my very talented friend, Camilla). And the fabric I picked - from the fantastic array on SP's site - was this stunning double-sided horse print: Stampede. And clearly great minds think alike - as that's the one John Lewis picked for their Florence Broadhurst debut, too. But Broadhurst was prolific...
Signature Prints sells a vast array of Florence Broadhurst's fabric designs, some of which you can see above. The couple behind the website found all the prints in a storage space and now reproduce them all by hand, usingthe original screens. They do them as wallpapers too, and fans of the designer include Stella McCartney.

Nautical but not naff

The 'nautical look' is an easy one to get wrong. Well, not wrong - but it can look a little twee and naff and with very little effort. 

Not at the Peanut Vendor, one of my favourite vintage shops, where this pleasantly pre-loved boat and map are displayed in an old wooden box-frame. It's 50cm x 50cm (and 8cm deep) and costs just £75. Quite a bargain for a unique piece of art.

I'll be compiling a whole list of affordable wall adorning ideas soon - so watch this space if you've got some, um, space on your walls to fill.

Read more about nautical style without the naffness