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Hot houseboat

I used to have a boyfriend who lived on a houseboat for a while. It was damp, pokey, rocky at night, hard to get into after a few drinks – and it smelled of wee. The houseboat below is not it...

This houseboat is hot. Currently moored at Rochester, Kent, it was built from scratch by designer Mike O'Shea and has two double bedrooms, a sun deck and a roof garden. And look at all that sexy wood: the walls and open-tread staircase (two floors!) are clad in Finnish beech ply, those worktops are American walnut and, I would guess, that the kitchen units are Ikea's, sadly now discontinued, Nexus golden brown.

The houseboat is for sale through The Modern House for £135,000, and it costs around £200 per month in mooring fees and upkeep.

Mini Moderns' new eco paint (in project-sized tins)

I've got some painting to do round my place, so paint is on my mind. There is a paint that I'm really excited to try, which I shall post about shortly, that may be the answer to my two-year procrastination about repainting a vast set of box-shelves in my bedroom. Stay tuned. Meanwhile...

...also exciting was the news, yesterday, that Mini Moderns – thus far, purveyors chiefly of beautiful prints on wallpaper and things – are launching their own 12-colour range of environmentally-responsible paints. Here is a little preview (the range has yet to go on sale):

'Environmentally responsible' could mean almost anything. In this case, I really like the concept behind it: the company is working with an award-winning brand called Newlife Paints, which salvages discarded paint from landfill and incineration; revives and treats it and repackages it, good as new. I intend to find out more about quite how they take a zillion different colours and turn them into clean, fresh, white emulsion – as the online explanation is frustratingly brief if, like me, you need to know the 'how'.

The Mini Moderns paints have been created to match their wallpapers (very mid-century, as you can see), and cleverly comes in a small-but-double-the-amount-of-a-sampler-pot size (250ml), for just £5, so you can buy just the right amount to perk up a chest of drawers or a chair. The regular size tins, 2.5 litres, will be £32.

Tile wallpaper from
Rockett St George

What a great idea: wallpaper that looks like lovely old ceramic tiles. I could have done with some of this when I was exploring possibilities for interesting kitchen or bathroom splashbacks a few months ago.

These designs come from Rockett St George, designed by Louise Body and is durable, non woven and coated – so as to work better in spaces that get a bit of battering and the odd bit of spray. Also, brilliantly, the designs are sold by the metre, making them excellent value for small spaces.

Louise Body Buttercup Blue tile wallpaper, £20 per metre (width, 70cm). Each tile measures 17.5 x 17.5cm.

Left: Louise Body Grapevile tile wallpaper; right: Louise Body Dahlia tile wallpaper. Size and pricing for both designs as above.

Louise Body has several more tile designs and colours in her wallpaper collection, as well as other patterns and some unusual, colourful and beautiful fabrics.

East London Furniture exhibition

If you are in London a week too late for the Design Festival (it's just finished), and you don't mind a bit of hipster, you might enjoy combining a coffee or a cocktail with the East London Furniture exhibition at the oh-so-east-London bar, DreamBagsJaguarShoes.

The installation, which launched in time for the Design Festival, remains in situ until November. East London Furniture have re-fitted out JaguarShoesthey entirely, using only recycled materials, found objects or waste.

The exhibition will also feature new illustrations from graphic designer, Alessandro Mistrulli, who designs their hand-drawn wrapping paper (£3.50 a sheet). It comes in owl, moustache or dinosaur and is printed on textured paper. It is nice.

I really like that they photograph every piece of found wood that gets turned into something new; the idea is that every piece of furniture sold has a record of its back-story – so you get to track where each bit of it was found and what it used to be. There will be an auction at the end of the exhibition in November.

Failing that, you could always just look at their online shop. They have NICE stuff. It's not cheap, but it's free to look...

I think the milk stool made from a single pallet (top right) is beautiful. The coffee table, £180 (bottom left) is reclaimed plywood and the feet are coated in industrial rubber, and I just love the large cube floor-light, £220 (top left). The wrapping paper (bottom right) is the stuff mentioned above. I'd love it more if I could knock these things up myself. Maybe I should invest, instead, in one of the Furniture Magpies short courses at West Dean College in Chichester.

Supermarket Sarah: the book

There are some excellent interiors books coming out this autumn. I have a stash of my favourites in a pile in my office, and will share them over the next week or so. And first up, just a little preview of the awesome and inspiring title from Supermarket Sarah, aka stylist and online shopping entrepreneur Sarah Bagner.  I am slightly obsessed with this book right now. LOVE it.

The preview is little – for now – because I interviewed Sarah last week for my column in the Independent on Sunday, and when that is published – in a few weeks – I'll post a longer version up here, along with accompanying images. Meanwhile...

The book is called 'Wonder Walls: a guide to displaying your stuff' (Cico books, £19.99), in reference to Sarah's innovative online shop, where she displays a curated wall of wares, where customers can click on the item on the wall they want to buy. She collaborates on the walls with all sorts of interesting artists and makers – meaning it is much more than just a shop window.

And the book features heaps of interesting and unusual ways to arrange the things you collect – as illustrated by Sarah's own home (below) and also by a host of creatives with fascinating homes, from Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway (who've done something very clever with an old boat) to Bjorn Springfeldt, former director of the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm, who has a pair of giant dogs tied to a chair in his excellently odd sitting room.

Sarah is absolutely passionate about stuff, homes, collecting, arranging – and how all these things make you feel in a space. I loved talking to her and look forward to being able to share her thoughts here shortly. I hope you enjoy this teaser until then...

Good to see a fellow fan of creepy dolls' heads, above left

A glimpse of the Hemingway's boat (main image), which Sarah explains in the upcoming interview

My lovely (fantasy) loft flat

Lately, looking around glumly at all the jobs that STILL aren't finished in my house, I've been fantasising about shelving the whole project and renting the place out – to rent somewhere that someone else has finished, somewhere smaller and more manageable, and a place where I don't need to take responsibility for the likes of leaking roofs.

This fantasy life, this morning, led me to this amazing loft apartment near Borough Market in southeast London. I've always been a bit creeped out by the idea of living in a converted school – even though  schools are nothing like graveyards, I've illogically imagined the ghostly laughter of the infants' playground echoing through my dreams. Or something. And also, we need more schools – it seems morally dubious to turn the ones we do have into flats. But. I'm never really going to move to this one, so my fears are confined to fantasy...



The one-bed, two-storey place – styled and furnished by Zanna – is, sigh, £2924 pcm. See more images and full details of this flat and other wonderful rental properties, over at The Modern House.

Outline Editions pop-up shop
at Designjunction

Maybe you remember that, for last year's London Design Festival, the innovative illustrator collective, Outline Editions, hosted a one-man interactive art show called Cut it Out, by the graphic artist, Noma Bar, where visitors could create their own designs with him, using a giant, clunking contraption.

This year, they have some more unusual events in store, and are also showcasing Noma's work, alongside woodblock typographic posters by Anthony Burrill and bright, bold collages by the Scandinavian designer, Petra Borner, beautifully simple 60s-tinged prints by the French illustrator, Malika Favre, as well as map prints by the Icelandic artist, Kristjana S Williams (whose beautiful Victorian botanical 'mash-ups' I featured last week). Many of the prints are eminently affordable – they start at £40, going up to £530 if you're getting serious – but also highly collectible (Outline know their onions). Everything is also available to buy online.

Anthony Burrell, 'What Does it Mean?', £40 (76cm x 51cm). Open edition, signed.
Malika Favre, 'Egyptian', £130 (50cm x 70cm). Limited edition, signed and numbered.

Noma Bar, 'Birdland', £350 (50cm x 70cm). Signed limited edition.

Noma Bar, 'Ouch'. Pricing and size etc. as above.

Noma Bar, 'Therein Lies the Tail', price and size details as above.

Petra Borner, Play 01, £170 (84.1cm x 59.4cm). Signed, limited edition.

Designjunction takes place in a crazy (in a good way) venue in central London – a three-storey old postal sorting office.

Details Outline Editions pop-up shop at Designjunction runs from 19-23 September at The Sorting Office, 21-23 New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1AP. It opens at 10am every day - closing at 7pm tonight and tomorrow, then 6pm, then 5pm. Entry is free.

Bitossi re-editions at the SCP Design Department Store

SCP, the beautiful east London and online homewares shop, threw a little do last night to celebrate the opening of their Design Department Store – where you can get a first look at some brand new designs from some of their favourite creative associates and brands. 

The shop-within-the-shop is also there to celebrate the opening of the London Design Festival 2012, which officially kicks off at the end of this week.

SCP doesn't, exactly, fall under the 'affordable' tag of this blog, but it nevertheless makes for an inspiring visit – and you can always stick to the excellent Kiosk range, particularly good for gifts. And you can get in on the action from Saturday, when there will also be free crepes for all visitors who print out this voucher on the SCP blog. If the fantastic snacks going on last night are anything to go by, get in quick...

But I digress from what was meant to be the point of this post: Bitossi. I love the long-running Italian ceramics company, which has been going since the 1900s and is still run by the same family. Their 1950s-1970s designs include some of my particular favourites – which was good last night, as part of the SCP goings-on this month includes  showing and selling a selection of reissued vases, above, from this very era, originally created under the art direction of former Bitossi art director, Aldo Londi.

Bitossi horse riders, 36.30; SCP's Bitossi animals range starts at £24.80

I have a Bitossi sausage dog, below, part of the Rimini Blu range, above, from the 1950s. Mine actually came from another lovely store, the Lollipop Shoppe, for about £30. You could also try Pip's Trip for originals.

And here are gratuitous close-ups of some of those re-issued Bitossi classics for sale at SCP. Be warned, though, unlike the Rimini Blu animals above, these babies start at £250 and rise sharply. Nice to look at though...

As for the other lovely things in the Design Department Store at SCP, you can have a browse here. I'll try to post up a few other products and designers that caught my eye last night shortly. But in the meantime, look out for Mark McGinnis' thought-provoking and colourfully graphic take on religious icons and cultural stereotypes, Fort Standard's lovely wooden knobsKay and Stemmer's stunningly simple wooden furniture.