Things That Made Me Smile This Week

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  1. How my miniature Yoghurt Pot Ciambella looked, they tasted a bit stodgy as I’d run out of corn flour but there is something so infinitely cute about miniature baking.The recipe is taken from Nigella, note if you watch the Nigellisima recipe online bear in mind that she doesn’t add the plain flour quantity in the recipe on camera – I learnt this to my cost with my first full size attempt!DSC08563
  2. The re-opening of the butterfly house at the Natural History Museum for the summer, entomology paradise!Butterfly-House-main
  3. We are in the middle of our kitchen re-fit at the moment so are covered in dust and I have found full on kitchen-envy via an episiode of ITV’s May The Best House Win. I may watch more of this show than I care to admit (Ok I actually tape it), usually the homes aren’t really my bag but sometimes you stumble across someone with something truly amazing, as is the case with photographer Neil (from last Thursdays episode – watch here). The kitchen was a reclaimed modular kitchen designed by English Rose in the 1950’s who also manufactured Spitfires. The cabinets were made from silver metal with brass handle inserts and the patina on them made them exquisite. I can’t find any pictures online that do this kitchen justice, but below is the nearest:80f00041399554e08f34e5701827e7e2
  4. This Hoxton Stool from Next Home. We genuinely have no-where to put it (and we have a similar one in the study) but I am working on finding a home for it…bea7ff6865028ce7f1541657a6259861

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House Tour – Living Room

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Vintage Eclectic Deco Flea Market Bohemian Living Room

When we bought this flat over a year ago it was this room that sold it to us, it had wood-chip walls and ceiling (ok most of the flat had that) hideous blue carpet (ditto), plastic air vents, bright orange polyurethane doors, mahogany shelving and a particularly hideous mock Victorian fireplace. Past all the hellish design choices made by the previous owner (& the fact that he was either a dangerous D.I.Y enthusiast or the employer of the original cowboy builder) this room had the most potential.Vintage Eclectic Deco Flea Market Bohemian Living Room, Entomology, Liberty of London


I am super pleased with the colour, I find choosing paint the most painstaking thing, it has such a massive impact on a space and I have been known to drive myself to distraction trying to choose. At my worst I may have been found mixing 39 tablespoons of one colour into a 5 litre tin of another exhausted trying to achieve the colour I wanted.  This green is Teresa’s Green and it’s my perfect green, light, elegant and unlike many sage tones it feels like a really sociable colour.Vintage Eclectic Deco Flea Market Bazaar Bohemian Living Room, Entomology, Missoni Home, Chesterfield.Vintage Eclectic Deco Flea Market Bazaar Bohemian Living Room.Vintage Eclectic Deco Flea Market Bazaar Bohemian Living Room. (2)
There’s a lot of other people’s history and my own in this room, it’s roughly arranged around the key pieces that we inherited from my beloved grandma.  The chest of drawers (above) were from her spare room and I love them because they remind me of her inter-war girlhood.  I have accessorised them with a Corona typewriter (bid for 6 months on eBay before eventually winning one), a really gorgeous 1930’s industrial lamp bought from The Old Cinema before it was so trend and expensive and what I like to think is the best dressed bottle in town – St Germain Elderflower liqueur! The Globe Wernicke bookcase was not my grandparents, but my grandad did have an entire wall of them in his study during my childhood so its both a nod to the period and to my past.

Doris How gorgeous is this old photo? Its of my favourite human being ever, my much missed Grandma Doris (on the left as you view) with friend & parasol on the beach in Wales. There is something so endearing about the way photo’s were such an event in the days before digital.11111 I like the fact that the room is quite mismatched, it is characterised by its eclecticism and is filled it with objects I love and have picked up over the years. The cocktail cabinet behind the chesterfield is my oldest purchase in the room and was picked up for a song when I was a teenager in a now defunct retro shop in Greenwich. Our most recent addition is the coffee table (below) that we upcycled from a wooden pallet at my work. I may have said this before (in fact I’m sure I definitely have) I love industrial and salvage. The extortionate prices of some of it astounds me though, you can buy pallet coffee tables from between £200 and over £1,000. It took about an hour and a half to sand it back, put oak stained beeswax on and attach industrial castors to the bottom. Whenever I see pallets now in my area I can’t help but see pound signs that could be made from them! We have put a piece of glass on the top that is about a third smaller than the table simply because said piece of glass was lying around the flat. My husband thinks it should be full sized but I really like the contrast between the real wood and the gloss of the glass.Salvage Industrial Pallet Upcycled Coffee Table Craft Projects.

Coffee table in its original state: 004Vintage Flea Market Bazaar Entomology Butterlies framed CollectionThe old standard lamp (above) again belonged to my grandparents and came from the holiday cottage in Oxfordshire we used to stay in when I was small, it has a new lampshade but the wood holds its story. The cushions are mainly Liberty prints (sewn together a little clumsily by me) and a ridiculously expensive Missoni one that I really couldn’t stop myself from buying! Of the new items in the room, my favourites are the wire Ferris wheel, the pocket watch mirror and the mismatched chest of drawers.

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But before I get too smug about almost reaching the finishing line with the room I will end with a picture of the reclaimed fireplace that has sat propped up in front of the horrible gas fire for the entire year we’ve lived here – it keeps winking at me to do something about it…1a

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Things That Made Me Smile This Week:

My blog has moved and changed name to DESIGN SODA, I’d love it if you followed along with my new content there.


  1. Re-watching Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 masterpiece Pierrot Le Fou for the first time in years, challenging, original and the most amazing wallpaper viewing. Anna Karina is my one and only all time girl crush, Godard may be one of the few heroes I’d still extend my overdraft for.Color-Theory-Pierrot-Le-Fou-570x1024
  2. Elderflower Crème brûlée made for the second time in a fortnight, yummy,  recipe from The Skint Foodie
  3. Man Ray Portraits at The National Portrait Gallery, smug because I might actually catch this before it ends on Monday. ray-and-miller
  4. The taxidermy book my husband bought me this week, insanely weird and bizarre  set ups, slightly disturbing, personal faves are the Victorian ones – squirrels boxing, toads playing pool anyone? squirrels 001 toads2 001 ProductImage-7556009

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The Taxonomy of Design

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Of all the things I love spending time looking at for the home, entomology, curios and Victorian natural history are amongst the most regular. One of my favourite things in the flat is my collection of butterflies below.


But there is a difference between taking influence from the past and simply recreating pastiche. It is a difficult line to balance as Baz Luhrmann’s latest production of the Great Gatsby attests, I found it crude, oversimplified, overly signposted history-bling. At the same time I applaud his attempt to remould the old for modern sensibilities.
Now I don’t want to pastiche the Victorian era – too dark, too fussy, too much wood – however I like the oddities when they don’t look contrived. One of the most stunning things I have seen this year was Richard Harris’s personal cabinet of curiosities relating to death, on display at The Wellcome Collection, it included this stunning chandelier made from human bones – so grotesque and beautiful at the same time.

I love curios or objects that are surprising, particularly victorian examples, think architectural follies, the grand tours and taxonomy.  In the flat we have witches mirrors, framed old magic lantern slides and I seem to be buying things with entomology on all the time:

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For the past year I have been looking for nineteenth century drawings of natural history to frame. I bought a lovely Cuvier plate on ebay but find most originals horribly expensive, especially those old science lesson hangings . So imagine my delight when I stumbled upon the Biodiversity Heritage Library’s Flickr stream this week. They have made over 73,000 images available and are really beautiful (I will not admit to how many hours I have spent looking at them this weekend!). There is everything from mollusks and coral plants to birds and bugs, here are some examples of my favourite entomology plates:


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Now what to do with them…

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Colour Pop Chairs

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So, whilst planning our kitchen I have been looking for some new dining chairs. I love French Tolix cafe chairs but alas budget does not stretch that far. So I switched to looking at examples of the current zeitgeist – mid-century modern. A few places are selling neon bright plywood chairs – Habitat have some really nice ones called Hester at £95 and Bloomsbury&Co are selling similar Canteen chairs for £200 a pop.

I really like this look, our kitchen is going to be the much replicated industrial style complete with old station waiting room enamel task light and metro tiles on the wall, so I was looking for something that would colour pop to add some novelty to the overall starkness of this look. However above said chairs are also out of my price range, I wondered how hard it might be to d.i.y them.

After a little hunting around online, ebaying and the like, I came across a fabulous salvage yard in Surrey that specialises in furniture and such discarded by churches. Amongst the horde they were selling old chapel chairs (I’m calling them school chairs as I’m pretty sure most schools also had them from 1960-1989) for £23 each.

The original I bought from Church Antique Furnishings:
So, after unscrewing each one I spray painted them with neon bright pastel colours (made by Cobra) and actually I’m pretty pleased with the results.




I also nicked Habitat’s idea of painting the screws to match (this was a bit more fiddly, marigolds are essential!):

I highly recommend Church Antique Furnishings as a place to rummage around for the odd candelabra, pew or archangel font! My personal favourite when I was there were these old French soldier panels:
If only the pennies went further….

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