Taking on a different colour

Sometimes things just come instantly. Sometimes you need to give it time. Sometimes it’s a matter of working harder. Does this make any sense? Never mind.

Today it’s sunny and it feels like summer. I like to think that today my kids are appropriately clothed. I have dressed my kids with woolen jumpers and tights (not the boy, I may add!) when it turned out to be scorching hot and equally have given them flip flops to wear when clearly all the sensible well adapted and ‘never- phased’ mum’s wrapped their kids up in thermals. Some just know what to do. I don’t. I must admit I try but get it wrong quite often. I don’t feel I am totally to blame with weather forecasts getting it wrong and summer not really being summer and winter not really being winter.

Today it looks, feels and smells like summer. I am in need of some colour. I  like things to be dark and ‘club- like’ but I do love pops of colour and layers of textures and patterns. This sounds very simple and it is, but not everything works. I don’t like the circus and I don’t like things to be too overbearing.

When my 5 year old gets full control over what she wears it has to be pink with pink, a bit of lilac thrown in for good measure and more pink. Although I understand it is part of the role description not to like what your 5 year old picks and this is where good parenting comes in….I really cringe. I can’t bear seeing all that pink… As a child growing up, my mother and sister loved pink and I don’t know whether it was a reaction to them liking it so much or whether I just liked being different or actually had different taste but I really detested the colour. I loved – and still do – blue and green. That isn’t to say a little pop of pink against a grey wall can look fab or that a powdery pink cushion combined with some sage green is stunning but in the main it isn’t for me….Colour combo’s that I think do work: * ) Yellow and gold with blue or teal,*)Yellow and green,*)Green and pink.

A few easy ways to add colour – to my dark and moody interior –


When it comes to flower arrangements everything goes! I love all colours combined and my preference would always be a wild unstructured bouquet over a very well manicured bunch. If you want one type of flowers then a bunch of roses, peonies or hydrangeas in one colour works well. A large bunch of lilies is always a good bet. Here’s a lovely casual arrangement, the photo is taken in one of my favourite local restaurants – Fleurie – http://www.restaurantfleurie.nl


Art work

Please do not colour co-ordinate – art can add colour to a room but never match the colour in your artwork to your interior. Art is personal and should speak for itself. Great if it happens to add that bit of colour the room needed.


I think enough said on this topic, please see my other posts.

A bit of quirkiness – Jujuhats

I was literally laughed at by quite some of my family members some years ago and told that because of my latest purchase – a Juju hat – I had now really lost the “design” plot. The Juju hat which is a traditional African head dress, symbol of prosperity made of chicken features and dyed in the most beautiful colours, has become popular in interiors. It is a great way to pop some colour and texture on the wall. I may add that one of those family members has now purchased a Jujuhat herself!


I am going to keep going with this……

Make it your own

I know I have harped on about this before but I believe it is true….nothing easier and less inspiring than just throwing your credit card on the counter and letting some high end designer do it all for you. If I were to commission one of my favourite designers to redesign my home I would be all over them like a rash. I would not let it become one of those exclusive but characterless homes with no sense of who the owners are what so ever….I believe it is important to mix and match. To combine good quality design pieces with flea market finds, vintage car boot sale items and personal objects. To have that jaw dropping coffee table that meant you almost had to remortgage the house but to combine this with personal items and dare I say the odd high street purchase? I realize that in the designers world this may be frowned upon but I don’t care….I have been complimented for some of my cheapest bargain items.  Flea market finds can be cheap only because someone else has lost interest in them but to you they might just have that little something that makes your other items shine! Important is to make your cheaper items your own – particularly the high street ones.

When I say make it your own I mean adding something to it or altering it slightly. For instance take a cheap lamp and have a new lampshade made. Good quality fabrics let boring and dull objects come alive. Or buy a flat-pack table and spray paint in a beautiful shiny hue.

Here is a top 3 of my high street brands or shops I am not too embarrassed to have in my interior, provided you add your own touch. In no particular order:

1) Ikea – http://www.ikea.com – I am not going to promote this shop. There are a lot of things I do not like, but no time to be negative… There are things I do like and they are for instance wooden table consoles or shelving. Paint the console or shelving in the exact colour of your wall and then dress with books and a nicely arranged  ‘still life’ – flowers, vases, candles etc.  The fact the wooden item fades in the background because you have painted it in the same, preferably dark, hue (dark walls make for spectacular interiors) – makes the whole look very designery!

2) Anthropologie – http://www.anthropologie.com – really good for lamps (make it your own with a new shade for instance), vases and trinkets and make sure to arrange and combine with your own antique and flea market finds.

3) Zara home – http://www.zarahome.com – very good for bed linen, sheets, quilts, throws and rugs.  I have also mixed and matched some of their cushions with some of my more eye watering expensive ones. Can you tell which are the cheaper ones?


Just to let you know that I haven’t completely sold my designer soul to the devil: I just bought a stuffed peacock. It is beautiful and extravagant and the blue, green and gold colours are spectacular… I realize this is a bit controversial but I happen to like it and although I probably won’t keep it and I will use it in a shop display or just sell it on 1tsdibs ( this was the reason for my purchase in the first place and I have to believe you have to stick to your business plan and not get attached to items too much – this is so hard to do!!) I am confident this will find a good place in an individualistic and spectacular interior.


Hotel Inspiration

coburg bar

Hotels and in particular hotel bars and lounge areas are a great source of inspiration. Every ‘over the top’ design feature is possible. What works in a hotel might not work exactly for your living room or bedroom but you can definitely get great ideas and make them work for your own smaller, child and/or pet friendly space. Hotels are particularly great as often great designers are commissioned to take care of the designs and hotel designs are therefore far more experimental (read daring) than private commissions. I really don’t know where to start as I have a long list of hotels I have either visited or would still really love to visit. Of course there are many hotels to visit, some of which may be good for location, hospitality, dining experience etc. etc. Again it is easy to create an impressive design if money is no object but it is also extremely reassuring to find that equally great designs have been created by smaller hotels where it is important to balance quality and value for money. Therefore my choices are not perhaps all as obvious. Some of my best experiences – from a design point of view – have more often than not been impacted by how individualistic the design has been combined with a bit of extravagance. I fear I can go on and on about this so better to just let the photos speak for themselves.  I have made a selection of a few hotel bars and restaurants I have actually been to and some I have yet to visit. The list is – by no means – exclusive and I will probably have to come back to you with more inspirational places…..but for now some of the places I would like to visit:

1) Hotel Thoumieux – Paris – design by India Mahdavi
2) Hote Costes – Paris – design by Jacques Garcia

Some of the places I have visited and I love are:

1) Sketch – Gallery and restaurant – London – design by India Mahdavi
2) The Connaught – London design by India Mahdavi
3) The Quay House – Clifden Ireland

Hotel Thoumieux – Paris

For the great art deco features, mix of patterns (leopard and  floral) and textures, and then the subtle splash of colour – yellow! I should have featured this in my ” A bit of summer” post!

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor maison thoumieuxAfbeeldingsresultaat voor maison thoumieux

Hotel Costes – Paris
I realize this one is a bit predictable but from a design perspective I love the dark, lush, ambiance. The colour red combined with gold mirrors, beautiful chandeliers, and the flickering light of candles. Dark sophistication meets Moulin Rouge.


Sketch – London

A beautiful place, designed by India Mahdavi. A restaurant and gallery in the most beautiful powdery pink with brass/gold accents on chairs and tables.  A great design not many of us (with male occupants in the house) would probably want to copy at home or even could do, but a great design and dining experience nevertheless. Fabulous glam 70’s Beverly Hills meets traditional Brasserie.

  The Connaught – London.

Another great design by India Mahdavi, I notice a trend! An interior I love for the true gentleman’s club feel. The cozy and dark interior with some pops of colour (purple and coral) but most of all I love the wood paneling. Of all the hotel bar and restaurant designs mentioned here I am most likely inclined to copy some ideas from the Connaught starting with the library feel which I am definitely going to give a go in my own pad!

The Quay House – Clifden Ireland

A beautiful place in Ireland. We came across a long time ago and sadly couldn’t stay as they were fully booked….no surprise. We had a little house tour anyway and although not one of the most obvious choices here, I just had to feature it as it just stuck in my mind. An individual guest house with such a feel for individuality it just couldn’t go unmentioned. Great antiques but more importantly to me, the quirky accessories and feel for scale and proportion. A life-sized leopard or lion (not quite sure!). Beautiful zebra and leopard rugs. A huge lobster-like crustacean in the living room and pops of pink on the sofas. I wanted to keep this one quiet but I fear it’s already out there…..