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Pedlars Guide to the
Great Outdoors

How very exciting. The book I worked on with the ridiculously stylish Charlie and Caroline Gladstone, the couple behind beautiful shop, Pedlars, has been pre-listed on Amazon... though it's not out until later this summer. It is published by Random House.

It is not about interiors; it is about the opposite – the Great Outdoors. But, as you would expect, the book will be beautiful to look at. Here is the rather marvellous front cover, designed by super talented creative agency, Mercy whose excellent and inspiring postcard set I have previously featured.

Inside this lovely Moleskine notebook-sized, fabric covered, stunning illustrated gem (all of which I can comfortably boast about as they had nothing to do with me) you will discover stuff including: how to make gastronomically creative feasts over a campfire (try pit cooking, newspaper-baked fish and squidgy s'mores); what not to do while wild camping (like bedding down in a barn); Charlie's dad's expert tips on how to build a tree-house; what to take on a long country walk (definitely not walking sticks, but a hip flask, a pork pie and possibly a playlist compiled by Caught by the River).

The Gladstones are the most outdoorsy people I've ever met, hence the book's topic – and spend as much of their free time as possible messing about in rivers, sitting around the campfire and playing slightly dangerous games in the countryside, along with their six children and five dogs.

Despite months of working together on the book, I still haven't worked out where they find the time to do so much (though the many 6am emails I'd get from Caroline as we edited the book are one clue): quite apart from their huge family, and running Pedlars, they are restoring and opening a pub in Wales and also maintain a beautifully furnished self-catering 16th century property in Scotland, Balbegno Castle. And some images of that is what I shall leave you with – in case you fancy getting close to a bit of countryside, Gladstones-style...

Vintage East German dollshouse furniture at Winter's Moon

Winter's Moon, which sells very beautiful pieces of pre-loved furniture in Chichester, has just got a small delivery of some very sweet miniature versions of their usual wares, from a stock of unused toys from the German Democratic Republic. You can see what they have below. 

But do also have a look here and here at a couple posts from a while back that I have just added new images to – all about midcentury dollhouses and the people who lovingly collect or make teeny tiny G-Plan units, sew cushions out of 1950s fabric and spend fortunes on miniature Eames chairs. I interviewed some of them for a piece I wrote for the Independent and loved these collectors' dedication, plus the houses are spectacular strangely compelling (and don't let the kids anywhere near them).

Miniature vintage wooden table, chairs and flower, £16

Miniature vintage wooden wine set, £7.50

Miniature vintage broom cupboard, £36

See lots more images of tiny houses by clicking on the image captions below.

call of the small

Modern Miniatures

Geometric walls and
glorious greys

Very simply and swiftly today – two ideas from homes that I fell in love with online this week. Take a look at the sites they were posted on for more images and details.

I have been writing about using geometric floor tiles on walls for my column in the Independent on Sunday this week. And  – too late for that, but perfect for here – I spotted this image of the colourful, excellently clash-y Sao Paolo house owned by designer, Cris Rosenbaum, over at The Selby. Don't his tiles look excellent on the wall? I love the contrast of their hard lines with the painting hung in the middle of the wall.

And regular readers will know that I've recently become a bit obsessed with painting walls and stairs and offices and all sorts different shades of grey and off-black. By way of illustrationof how soft this can look, the beautifully relaxing, colourful German farmhouse decor of blogger and Etsy seller, Katrin Scharl – which you can see in full at Etsy's Get the Look blog post this week. You can also read Katrin's blog Taking Notes.

Out of the dark

If you are near west London this week, there's an interesting (and colourful, as you can see below) event going on in Shepherd's Bush until 29th. It's a pop-up shop/fundraiser, featuring furniture made by the very cool charity, Out of the Dark, which trains young people in need of skills and jobs to recycle and restore classic pieces of furniture.

The organisation found me on Facebook and I was really interested to discover what they do. So even if you can't make it, they're worth checking out (as is their tempting online shop).

               Orange G-plan dining table from the 1960s with chairs. Made in High Wycombe. £600 (sold)

It is a great idea and the training – headed by founders, Jay and Jade with an excellently placed combination experiences of photography, construction, textiles, design and teenage rebellion –  is clearly good, as the pieces produced are stunning and unusual. Here is a small selection of some from the pop-up to give you a taster (and there will be other things going on at the shop, including upcycling workshops)... 

Blue Ercol dining table and Ercol chairs. Made in High Wycombe. £450

But you can also find their striking furniture at their online shop or at their HQ in High Wycombe, once also home to design greats including G-Plan, Parker Knoll and Ercol. As well as selling items like the ones you can see here, other Out of the Dark services include interior design, sourcing and customisation of your own bits of furniture. 

                         Orange G-plan sideboard from the 1960s, made in High Wycombe. £400 

The workshop is open on Fridays and Saturdays, and you can see more details here, where there is also a list of events during May around the country where you can catch Out of the Dark playing away. 

                                                    Yellow/orange coat rack, found in Lille, £400 (sold)

The pop-up shop is hosted by two more excellent organisations, Petit Miracle Interiors and Design Bank. Find the event at JJB Sports Retail Unit,  West12 Shopping Centre, Shepherd's Bush Green, London W12 8PP. 

Pretty Pegs

What a very excellent idea this is: a company that sells Ikea-compatible legs for the Swedish store's sofas and beds. But they come with legs... right? Of course, but those legs are often the very thing that lets down an otherwise lovely piece of furniture. 

It's like buttons on coats – savvy fashionistas often say they will swap the fastenings on a cheap coat to make it look unique and more expensive. The same, now, can be done with your high street furniture. I'd never thought about how beautiful little sofa legs could be until now...

Pretty Pegs is a Swedish online shop that only sells bed and sofa legs, and they are specifically designed to fit and replace standard Ikea legs. They deliver to the UK for 11 euros. Genius.

Prices for the legs start at around 78 euros (for four). Not cheap – but for the dramatic difference they'll make to a cheap piece of furniture, I'm all for them.

If, however, you can't justify the price tag – check out this fantastic DIY post at the wonderful Poppytalk blog about how to make them yourself (see one of its creations, below). You can find furniture leg sellers all over the internet – try Edinburgh Woodturning, which sells through an eBay store. Their sofa legs start at around £6.


"It's a bit weird, but I thought you'd like it," said my friend yesterday, on giving me this funny little ceramic owl, below. She knows me so well. I think he's fantastic, and fantastically freaky.

I love to have odd bits and pieces in my house; they usually tell a story, or start one by becoming talking points (even if the start of the conversation is "What is that?").

So in celebration of freaky home accessories, I've rounded up some other love-and-hate bits and bobs that you can buy. Meanwhile: what's the oddest thing in your home?

I love how these baby head shaped indoor planters are just the last thing you would expect to have greenery growing out of. And how the plants become very strange looking hair. They are for sale on Etsy by their Brooklyn-based designer, Danielle Spector, for around £35 each (original price is in US dollars; the seller posts to the UK for around £7).

I have a bowl of wooden fruit in my living room. People often pick up one of the hard apples and look at me quizzically: "It's wooden. Why do you have wooden fruit?" Why indeed. Because it looks good? And it's a little bit odd. Mine comes from my mum who used to have it in her house; though on a holiday in Brazil several years ago I found some more and found it impossible to resist. And now I'm looking at these striking hexagonal beauties, made from wood and reclaimed leather, I'm wondering if I could do with some more... Buy them from CultureLabel for £8.50 each.

I have long admired my friend Rose's Obama fabric, which is printed in Ghana. Now she's turned it into cushions (with 'Yes We Can' embroidered on the back), for sale via her Facebook group, Rose Repose, at £20. You need to order early this week as she's bringing a batch over with her from Senegal, where she lives, on Thursday.

This is almost horrible. Which is what I love about it. This digital reproduction mini print of George Condo’s Pop Queen produced to accompany the exhibition Mental States at the Hayward Gallery. It measures 28cm x 36cm and costs just £5 from the Southbank Shop online.

Rockett St George's
new old photos

This is just up my street: slightly creepy old stuff, with a quirky new angle (just like my Victorian dolls' heads mounted under a perspex Muji CD holder).
Clockwise from left: The FamilyThe Brothers; Mr & Mrs

These black and white photographs are new in at Rockett St George, which picked them up from an artist in Paris. They'd be wonderful photos on their own, but – in line with the name "Vintage Twist" – these old things have been given a joyful juxtaposition, with the addition of small details painted on. They have also been enlarged and are excellently imposing at at 64cm x 53cm (for The Family) 59cm x 42 (for The Brothers) 47cm x 58cm (Mr & Mrs). They are, being decent sized bits of original art, however not at all cheap at £295 a piece. If you are a) not feeling flush and b) handy with a spot of Photoshop (and have access to a scanner), you could always have a go at creating your own version. You could even go old school. With actual real paint and everything.

You can find heaps of old photos on eBay, for sale as job lots. I find these sorts of things fascinating as they are, and would happily pin them up unadorned around the house. In fact, I have several strangers dotted about the house (see below). It might seem odd to have photos of complete randoms decorating your home, but I like to look at them and imagine who they were, what they might have done after the picture was taken, if they had happy lives...

Clockwise from top left:

  • I picked up this pymca postcard "1980 Ska Girls" at last year's Vintage at Southbank festival. You can buy a print of it from the pymca online shop, starting at £50
  • I don't know where this little person came from, a charity shop somewhere I think. I don't even know if it's a boy or a girl but I like his/her chubby little face and the sweet way he/she, only just standing up alone, is gripping the chair for stability
  • This is another postcard, bought at my local Lambeth Country Show, a kind of freaky urban/rustic event that excellently combines Red Stripe, live reggae and ducks doing obstacle courses. It is from a local portrait photographer's studio in the 1960s. I love how quietly cheeky she looks in that amazing outfit
  • This is probably a cheat as I know who these people are – though I don't know them personally. It's from a set of postcards advertising Allegra McEvedy's first Leon cookbook (a stunning compendium, so much more than a recipe book), which I picked up at its launch party. You have to love a bit of a 1970s car/picnic shot
  • This last shot is a total mystery. I came across a flea market stall selling piles of old photos, while on holiday in New York years ago. Who she is I'll never know. But I always wonder if she was that stern off-camera...

Frank Lloyd Wright – in Lego

Who knew Lego did architectural classics? Yesterday I was sent some information about their soon to be released Big Ben, which was pretty cool. But not as cool as what I discovered when I looked at the link to the full Lego Architectural range

I'm sure I'm not alone in having Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water, built in 1936 over a waterfall in Pennsylvania, high on a list of favourite buildings. Seems the people at Lego felt the same way...


At £74.99, though, it might be one for the big kids to play with.

Also in the range is the stunningly modernist Farnsworth House built in Illinois by Ludwig Mies van de Rohe in 1951. Apparently the lego version is only on sale in the States (but the UK website seems to have it). You can of course visit the real version too, if you are are heading to that part of the States.

A Picasso for under £100? Well, sort of. It makes these beautiful – but not cheap – cushions sound more reasonably priced. The range is new at the Conran Shop and the prices go from £69 to £79.

And you only need to buy one – but what a beautiful thing to own, and one of these squeezable pieces of art would add value to any chair, sofa or bed in a flash of its mid-century colours.

Clockwise from top right: Head of the Woman £79; La Ceinture Jaune £79; Portrait de Dora Maar £79; Hirondelles £69. All the cushions are designed by the 1878-founded Parisian textiles and tapestry company, Jules Pansu. They each measure 45cm x 45cm.

See the full range of Picasso cushions at the Conran Shop.

House envy - and sexy
parquet walls

Today I have fallen in love with a flat in Blackheath, southeast London. Not only is it an Eric Lyons designed building – he of the pioneering 1950s affordable housing design, the Span house (my own place, an 1968 ex-council house, is a shameless copy of said style, which typically features wall to wall windows and a built-in garage). But mainly I have fallen for this place because of its sexy walls...

Parquet walls? What an excellent, excellent idea. I love parquet generally and I'm very partial to a wood-panelled wall (if only I could find the right wall in my place to panel, I'd do it). 

Parquet can be bought reclaimed and beautifully worn in, from places such as McKay Flooring (an excellent shop that also has a strangely compelling blog, odd when it's all about floors but trust me). However, is an expensive option because, walls or floor, fitting it requires a highly skilled expert. But... it looks incredible, doesn't it?

The architect behind this design is Carl Trenfield, who emailed to tell me about the concrete worktops, which he and his joiner poured in situ. Not only did the design include the sink and cleverly sloping drainer, it also – cast your eyes leftwards – includes a built-in herb trough. What a fantastic idea. The green, warm wood and soft grey concrete are also a tonal trio made in heaven.

Anyone out there have a wood-panelled wall to share? I'd love to see it, and I'm still looking for people with quirky kitchen or bathroom splashbacks to talk to.

The Blackheath house is for sale via The Modern House estate agency for £325,000 and has two bedrooms, a study and separate kitchen and living areas. 

And the winners are...

Cushion giveaway entrants... voila the prize draw. I didn't have a hat, so I drew the winning names out of a Barbie-shaped bag my mum brought back from New York for me when I was about 13... 

The four runners up*, winning either bird or map card sets, as you can see on the left, are: Jess, Kelly, Anna and Dominique D. Congratulations!

And the winner** of the cushion is... drum roll... KATY.

Thank you to everyone for entering. Sorry to those who didn't win – but if you're in London, do try to make the sale, tomorrow in Covent Garden at the Seven Dials Club from 2.30-4.30pm. I've just found out that among all the goodies will be my favourite homemade cookies ever: peanut butter and chocolate. Worth it for those alone, let alone all the gorgeous cushions, owl doorstops, cards, hand-knitted babyclothes and, of course, the human fruit machine.

See more about the sale in my earlier posts.

Hope to see some of you there!

*** Please could the winner and runners up drop me a line at kate [at] with addresses etc and I shall post your goodies out next week!

PS. Some entries didn't include their favourite design/interiors website ... and I realised this was because I only put this on one of the posts about the giveaway. So I let you off as it's totally my fault. But please do let me know all the same... And thanks to everyone else for sharing their tips.

Quirky tiled kitchen splashbacks

The kitchen in the flat in Berlin I've been helping out with has been the hardest room to get right for one reason or another. The basics are now in place, but due to things not being available, timing being tight and doing the whole thing remotely, it's turned out neat and functional, but – so far – lacking character.

So. It's down to a few final touches to warm it up a little and give the room some more individuality. First port of call is the splashback: currently tantalisingly bare walls just poised for something creative and colourful to (we hope) do the job. I'm arguing hard for mismatched tiles in the same colour; mustard yellow or dark grey I'm thinking (elsewhere it has pale grey walls, Yves Klein blue floor and handle-free walnut-y cupboard doors). Here are the early inspiration images. Above, the greens are closest to the look I have in mind; the tonal consistency calms down what could look chaotic. Then again, the many-coloured version, top right, pulls together very well too. I like the tiles on the top left too, but think they may not be right to solve this problem: the kitchen needs roughing up a little, and these would be beautiful in a kitchen that already has a couple of quirks, I think. Do you agree?

I can't remember where I found the image on the left, which is floor tiles somewhere. But I love the apparent randomness of the layout and colours and, yet, how well they hang together. The image on the right is a bit of a risk that I wouldn't want to recommend without trying it first – but if it it worked it would look excellent. These are original 1950s or 60s vinyl floor tiles. You can sometimes find complete sets on eBay, so it would take a lot of patient searching (or a very small splashback) to make this one work. If anyone has tried something similar I'd love to hear about it.

The tile design on the left was a one-off for the Mayor's Eid Celebration last year, creatively conceived by the London-based designer, Tom Lancaster, and designed by Liana Bakar. Isn't that combination of colours striking? The image on the left is, in fact, wallpaper (Remix, by Pretty Dandy, £64.50 per roll); but I am thinking floor tiles arranged similarly would work too. Fired Earth's Evora, would look excellent.

What other ideas has anyone tried for a special splashback or, indeed, for a clever quirk in an otherwise plain kitchen?