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Happy Easter

Your Home is Lovely is having a long weekend off (glamorously, to cart most of the contents of the garage to charity shops...). 

We'll be back on Tuesday. Until then, hope your weekends are even more stylish – but if not, enjoy these stylish neon wooden eggs.

Neon Dipped Eggs, around £20 (plus delivery, they are on sale in the US). Find them and other beautifully bright, hand-made homewares at Wind and Willow.

Abigail Ahern's fake flowers

If you know Abigail Ahern, you'll probably know she is mad about fake flowers (as well as gorgeously cosy, dark interiors and lovely lamps shaped like dogs).

She's now just started selling the full range of her everlasting blooms via her brand new online flower shop.

'Banbury' bouquet (lavender hydrangea, two gelda snowballs, one green mimosa, and one purple lilac) £55

The bouquets (see above) are arranged by Abigail's sister, Gem, a high-end florist whose blooms have graced swish yachts, A-list boudoirs and, oddly, the Vatican. The bouquets and single stems are not overly cheap. But compare them to the cost of fresh flowers that need replacing – and imagine that, with one swift investment – you'll have these week in, week out, they're quite the bargain for something that adds an instant luxury vibe to a room. Besides, they're just really lovely and it's a good excuse to ogle some of my favourites.

White Peony bulb, £10.50 (all prices, apart from bouquet above, per single stem)

Green Allium, £9.50

Silk, dark yellow Mimosa, £37.50

Lavender open Rose, £20

From my grandma's house

Today's post is a little late – I've been travelling back from deepest Cornwall. As some of you may have seen yesterday, I was in St Ives, where my grandma lived for many, many years until she died last year.

The hearty sea air, steep walk to the top of the hill her house is on (and a LOT of brandy) are all what kept her going until 101 years old. So she had a good, long stretch. This weekend, I went to chip in with the vast task of sorting through all her things. Needless to say, there were many mementoes of her that I wanted to keep...

Of course, it was sad to be back in her house, but without her: frowning at me because I hadn't poured a generous enough slug of Courvoisier into her coffee; flirting with/ruthlessly insulting my boyfriends ("You couldn't pull the skin off a rice pudding!" she brilliantly told one, when I was 18); telling me that I really shouldn't wear nail varnish with such stubby nails; that my face was too small for such long hair (she was always right) – or just that she really, really loved me, I liked remembering all that. And it's funny how vivid the memories are when you stumble across things you'd forgotten about, or that you've seen in only one context, or just always really, really loved. I found myself having lots of conversations with my gran as I picked things up and put them in boxes – and as some went in the bin, I asked her to forgive me. I hope she will. But knowing her, she won't.

This is my granny, above, with two of the Dachshunds she owned. She had four in total, I think, the next batch were the children of these two... I think... but this was taken in 1964, and so it was all a bit before my time. She was terrifyingly stylish and always beautiful – and here she's already into her 50s, but looking many years younger.

I also went through her wardrobes, and could picture her in most of thing things hanging in them. Things she hadn't touched for years as she'd become less and less mobile – and unable to find the occasion to wear a tailored Jaegar suit or Burberry raincoat. I'm gutted we're not the same size – or my wardrobe would now be vastly more sophisticated. I took a few things though; some lovely cashmere jumpers and elegant costume jewellery, and hope to re-home the rest somewhere sympathetic.

Among her stuff, I found little love-notes her (third) husband had written her ("You make my eyes boggle" read one). Even into her 80s she had gentlemen callers writing her desperate love poetry dedicated to her curves (still in the right places, even then). On, I think, her 97th birthday, we took her down to the wonderful Porthminster Beach Cafe right underneath the cliff that her house is perched upon. I remember that she used her walking stick more as a flirting aid than a walking aid – and by the time we left, all the eyes of the old chaps in the restaurant were boggling too.

There were many (excellently indiscreet) tales about the men who loved her, including three husbands; two of whom she found very disappointing, and a third she adored, though not as much as the handsome Air Force officer she broke off with in the 1950s because he was 10 years her junior, even though he was, she always said, "the love of my life".

But I digress. I keep many memories, but on top of those here are some of the bits of furniture and household things I brought home to incorporate just a few of those memories physically into my own home...

This is one of those things that is sort of probably awful. But I like to think of my gran's glamour peaking in the era when lamps like this were the deeply fashionable.

She was first an art teacher, and then a full-time artist. She made a living from selling oil paintings of chubby cheeked children on the beaches of Cornwall. Tourists loved them. But her nude sketches, to me, are far more beautiful.
There's something about going through treasured possessions that feels a bit like being in a really brilliant junk shop and having someone saying, "Go on, take anything you like." This giant old-school radio may not even work (I need to check the fuse), but I couldn't resist its analogue charms, nor the wooden casing.

This artist's model isn't anything unique or unusual. I just love it because it was hers and I know she used it all the time. Much like the paint-spattered stool it is standing upon... that's a piece of furniture with a story you can really see. And I like that. It shall become a little side table somewhere.

Yes, it does need rewiring, but come on. It's a beautiful old Anglepoise. I couldn't leave that!

Not collectors' items. Just nice shapes, I thought.

This lovely wooden clock makes me think of it being cocktail o'clock in the days when  my granny and her late husband would dress up and get their friends in for posh canapes, strong drinks and, as my granny used to put it, generally a bit of "swanking about".

Hmm, it was getting on at this point. This classic piece of Hornsea Pottery doesn't even have its cork lid anymore. But it'd make a good vase, no?

Yes. Ahem. And later still... But this is a collectors' item!

Away day

Apologies for today's lack of proper posting... I am here at my grandma's house in St Ives, Cornwall. She died last year (at the spectacular age of 101) and I've come to tackle the mammoth task of sorting through all her wonderful things and working out what to do with them.

It is sad – but also lovely to keep finding letters I wrote to her when I was 10 (big bubble handwriting and mainly a lot about how much I loved horses) as well as a beautiful silver dressing table set engraved with my initials which she must have forgotten about, as it had a note with it saying "for Kate, when she is 21" (yes, I know it's hard to believe, but I am very slightly older than that now...).

Tomorrow, I shall post some photos of all the treasures I shall be bringing home to remember her by, and assimilate into my own home – including a wonderful old paint spattered wooden stool she used to have in her studio (she was an artist), some of her paintings, some 1950s crockery... and so on. Until then, I'll leave you with this view out of her back door. It's quite a good one, isn't it?

You can also see some other posts about St Ives here and here.

Two dogs in a
(wood-panelled) bath

Yes. On one hand it's a shamelessly gratuitous photo of two cute Jack Russells in a bath. And more so because the one on the right is Reggie, and he belongs to me. The other pup is his special lady friend, and she's called Pepper. And the reason it's not entirely gratuitous...

...well, it is really. But taking the photo (which I did for this story about how Reggie and Pepper got so dirty) reminded me about bath panels. And how hard it was to find a solution for mine. Can you tell what it's made of?

What I found was that bath panels are nearly all vile. And that the only way around it was to improvise. So yes, this is garden decking. Pretty flashy garden decking though. It is a really beautiful wood that has a reddish tinge to it and the planks are nice and narrow, so even in the garden (where it was left over from) it doesn't look too B&Q. The stuff in the garden, however, is long-since sun-bleached and rain-bashed and a pallid shade of grey. This looks good as new.

It is screwed directly to the wooden joists that support the bath, so it's not something you can just lift off when there are the inevitable plumbing issues. It only takes a screwdriver though.

Other bath panel DIY jobs I've liked include a battered Victorian door, chopped to size and on its side. Anyone with any other bright examples, do drop me a line and I'll do a bigger post.

Meanwhile, I'm in cold Cornwall for a few days and must, alas, take the small hound out for his daily trot in the wild winds of Zennor.

Little Nan's Deptford

Last week, Abi reviewed this unusual bar in southeast London for Below the River, a new website I've just launched (for those of you south of the Thames in London, and friends of, I'd love to know what you think).

There wasn't room to feature all the images of the bar's excellently quirky domestic interior designed, literally, to replicate the owner's "nan's front room". So here are some more.

If you, too, like old-school sound systems like this, you can see some more over here.

You may remember last summer I posted about Bestival's chief beautifier, Josie da Bank, who also decorated using a wall of antique teacups, but in quite a different way. See the pictures here.

Pierrot doll wallpaper: anyone born in time to remember the mid-1980s will remember these slightly creepy renditions of seventeenth century French clowns; a look also – incongruously – adopted by punks.

The bar's unassumingly scruffy entrance.

Little Nan's is in Deptford. The design  (and first image) are by Matt Sargent. All images (bar lead one) by Abi Zakarian.

Camille Walala: exclusive prints

The weather's getting worse! And I've got a horrible cold! I can't say I'm looking forward to those long rugged cliff-top walks planned for this weekend's jaunt to Cornwall. In fact, I'd rather stay in and eat cake for three days in front of the wood-burning stove in the cottage we've hired.

But the tiny hound needs his walks come freezing fog or icy winds. Anyway. I'm digressing because what I wanted to share are these antidotes for winter.

I love Camille Walala's excellently joyful work. It's not for everyone, and if you stare at it too long it does make your eyes go funny, but her clashing patterns and primary colours and smiley messages make me very happy. 

A massive one of these on my bedroom wall, as the first thing I'd see each morning? YES. That'd set me right up.

And if they don't cheer you up, go with the cake option too. A radiator would do... These three prints are for sale exclusively at CultureLabel, and prices start at £30 and go up to £60 for each, depending on which of the three sizes you pick.

Against a plain background is how I'd do it. It's not, as you might imagine, how Camille herself, below, would do it. I'm not sure I could live in a whole Walala house... could you?

See more of her interior design and all the other mad colourful things she sells on the Walala website.

Cloakroom decor ideas:
crazy tiling?

The one room in my house that has never been decorated is the downstairs loo. After five years, the excitement of even having a such a room is wearing off – a bit – and the hastily executed white wash – damage limitation rather than re-decoration (it was lime green and acid yellow when I moved in) is now flaking off.

The "smallest room in the house" feels like a good place in which to be bold with style, and get a bit experimental. But what to go for... maybe something like this?

These tiles have just gone on display under the banner of Pulsate; a collaborative installation by renowned landscape and architectural designer Lily Jencks and the Franco American architect, Nathanael Dorent. It's an unusual project – and essentially a commercial one, as it was commissioned by high-end tile retailer, Capitol Designer Studio for their Primrose Hill showroom. The brand wanted to shake up their display in a creative way – but they will also be hosting some interesting design talks in the new space (see below for details).

The idea was partly inspired by Op Art and Gestalt psychology – in this context playing with, as Lily explains, “how you perceive distances and shapes; and make sense of space".

See left for an instantly recognisable, classic Gestalt image – it's about individual parts having their own characteristics within the whole or, in layman's terms: seeing two unique images within what initially appears to be just one.

Says Nathanael:  “We decided to use tiles in one size with four colours. It's just a simple herringbone pattern, but we've applied it in three dimensions to create something really eye-popping."

"To get the really vivid exciting pattern," adds Lily, "we go from dark to light to dark in a gradient, like a pulsating wave, which is where the name comes from.” Right, the Bridget 'Mother of Op Art' Riley work, Movement in Squares, illustrates the same approach.

It might all just be too discombobulating for the downstairs loo, but I like the idea of doing something that would completely wow you and mess with your spatial perception as you opened the door. These exact tiles are out of the cloakroom budget, but I shall keep you posted as to how the idea filters into reality.

Meanwhile, if you can get to north London and want to check out the showroom in person, it officially launches this Thursday and remains in situ until October. And the special events being hosted in-store include: Using Pattern and Colour in Tiles and Paint, hosted by Mark Williams of Capitol Designer Studios and Rishi Subeathar of eco paint company, eic√≥. 18 April 6-8pm and Pulsating Form, an evening of talks from designers and artists featuring Lily Jencks, Nick Hornby, Sinta Tantra, Megan Burke and Grania Loughnan. 16 May 6.30-8.30pm. To secure a place email: 020 7243 4731.
Capitol Designer Studio 42 Chalcot Road London NW1 8LS Opening hours: Thursday-Saturday 10am-5pm Monday-Wednesday: by appointment

Over-sofa drinks rest

A month or two ago, I included a simple but superbly useful device in a round-up of 'ingenious objects'; it was a u-shaped piece of wood designed to slot over your sofa arm and provide a flat surface to rest your drink, book or small plate upon when the table is to far and the floor too low.

It wasn't cheap – over £160. But it was beautiful and despite the simplicity of it, something so useful it almost justified the price tag. In case you didn't agree, I have just found this.

Even simpler, this Dutch-made 'bankplank' ('bank' is Dutch for sofa, and 'plank' is Dutch for, well, plank) isn't, perhaps, as beautiful (aesthetically, I'd prefer a flush top), but it is just as useful. It comes in different woods including – above – spalted maple, as well as black walnut and reclaimed mahogany. It also comes in different sizes.

Bankplank, Ep Bordewijk, around £20 (prices are in Euros) plus around £4 delivery within Europe.

Some good things for your house

Today, just some very nice things that I've lusted after this week. 

I have some very nice charcoal, rib-knitted cushion covers by Nkuku, the Devon-made company that sells these lovely glass and iron picture frames. They come in three sizes, landscape or portrait, and the hanging fabric pieces are recycled sari ties. A sweet present with a special memento inside – and the best thing is that if it isn't exactly the right size for the frame, it will look even better. Nkuku's products are ethical as well as beautiful and reasonably priced. I really like their Fair Trade moss-stitch throws in sludgy earth tones too, £75 and mango wood salt and pepper bowls, £19.95.
Kiko glass frames, £10 from Not on the High Street.

Folklore is a stunning shop that sells online and also in Islington, London. It is not, on the whole, a cheap shop – the products are largely locally crafted and built for life. But these beautiful pressed, recycled paper lampshades, complete with fabric cord and ceramic lampholders, are one of their more affordable items (but not because they are flimsy – the material is entirely water resistant). I like that they are unusual enough to become a talking point. They also have an excellent name – a story in itself: the 'Columbus Egg' refers to an idea deemed excellent and simple, but only after the event. It comes from the Christopher of the same name who, so legend has it, was told that discovering the Americas was no big deal: so he threw down a challenge for someone to make an egg stand on its tip. No one could – only for Columbus to tap one end of an egg on a table and flatten its tip.
Egg of Columbus lampshades, Folklore, £26

The shape of this new mug from Habitat is most pleasing. And in the realm of Nice Mugs, this one is also very cheap.
Courbe mug, Habitat, £4.50

Cachette is  a beautiful online store run by Anglo-French couple, Steve Rogan and Delphine de Chabalier, who swapped London life for a slower pace in the south of France to start their business. Nothing the couple sell is produced on an industrial scale – generally coming from young designers, unknown artisans or old heritage manufacturers from Europe. I love the simplicity of this plain, wooden lampholder, which comes in six shapes, complete with charcoal grey flex. Just make sure you get nice bulbs for it – try Historic Lighting.
Beech Suspension Light, Cachette, around £43 (their prices are in Euros)