Otago – Out of East Africa

August 13th, 2014 | Posted by deardesigner in Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

I have a real soft spot for some of the crafts that come out of Africa. Especially when combined with modern design. So I was delighted to discover Otago.

Founded by design duo Anna Rose and Eddie Sercombe in 2013, the company collaborates with artisans from marginalised communities to create collections of fine objects for the contemporary interior. By incorporating local artisanal skill with cutting edge design, they create exceptional and elegant pieces for the home.

The debut collection primarily features pieces made by artisans in East Africa.

Otago Collection [1]

KIKIPU platters,  SHANGA YA NGOZI bottles and  gold plated sand cast brass animals

Otago Collection [2]

NDEFU YA SHABA glasses, KIKAPU platters, NGOZI hand blown glass bottle with a leather collar, PEMBE cow horn dish and ZEBRAG hand embroidered linen cushions.

Otago Collection [3]

SHANGA hand beaded jars, KUBA hand embroidered linen cushions, PEMBE horn vessels and KIKAPU vases.

Already the flowers in my little garden are starting to look a tad tired. It never fails to amaze me that as soon as August arrives, the mornings have a definite chill and the nights start creeping in. One day I will have year round displays of flowers for cutting and bringing in, but for now I will have to start thinking outside of the box when I feel the urge to decorate the house.

Because it’s the transitional displays that bring energy and life to decorating schemes. They don’t have to cost much, and they shouldn’t take too much effort. To do so will destroy the spontaneity of the arrangement.

houseenvy_75444449382174 (2)

A row of pots on the windowsill containing succulents and cacti look simple and effective. The uniform height of each pot and the similar geometric shapes suggest that the display is intentional rather than a happy accident.


Herbs drying on a metal rack will not only look good but will be fragrant too. A perfect arrangement for a kitchen and suggestive of a home where cooking is an important part of everyday family life.


A couple of eucalyptus branches on a copper tray will look perfect on a coffee table. Just add a candle for after dark.


Personal collections displayed in baskets or even in open drawers are always a great source of inspiration. Remember to remove and add items regularly to keep the displays fresh and interesting.


And when the nights really start to draw in there is nothing better than a row of candles or lanterns. Differing heights add to the interest and glass domes and objects help to reflect the rosy glow.

All images and products from House Envy.

A Greek Island Getaway

August 11th, 2014 | Posted by deardesigner in Houses - (0 Comments)

I think we all probably dream of owning a second home somewhere warm and sunny. I know I do. And we all probably hanker after a Greek Island home especially if it is as handsome as this one.

Spotted in Est Magazine this beautiful villa is on the island of Ithaca was saved from ruin by South African photographers Gerda Genis and Robbert Koene. I love the simplicity of the cement floors, stone walls, polished concrete, limed timber beams, and layers of linen. It retains all of the elements of a rustic abode but without the clichés and it even has the occasional modern chair or pendant light without them looking out-of-place.







I need to go there now!

Even more images on Est Magazine

Photographs by Robert Koene

The last of the summer issues of Heart Home magazine is now out my lovelies.

Heart Home magazine August 2014

My favourite feature has to be ‘Act of Devotion’ above and below. A former ‘tin’ chapel that has been turned into a fascinating home using just salvaged items and scrap. Owner Nick Kenny admits that nothing cost more than £20 or £30. Now thats ingenuity.

Heart Home magazine August 2014 - Act of Devotion

You’re also going to love the home of Cabbages and Roses founder Christina Strutt. It’s the quintessential English cottage and the perfect place to display her own fabrics.

Heart Home magazine August 2014 - Living Life Beautifully

And for all you foodies out there we have the most mouth watering Baked Alaska we have ever tasted.

Heart Home magazine August 2014 - Baked Alaska with Brownie Base

And much, much more.


Heart Home magazine

I have really fond memories of my grandmother’s kitchen. The scrubbed pine table, the old gas cooker, and the smell of apple tart baking in the oven. I also loved the row of geraniums sitting on the windowsill on saucers. Even now, the smell of geraniums takes me back to afternoons sitting at her flour covered table watching her slice apples.

But you don’t have to have a country cottage to enjoys plants in the kitchen. I’m not just talking about a sad, unwatered basil from that dinner party last week either. There’s nothing nicer than the sight of abundant green growth on the countertop, on the table or at the window. So here’s a light-hearted look at kitchen styles and the plants I might use to make them greener.

Plants in the Kitchen via Dear Designer's Blog

The walnut finish of these kitchen units gives them a hint of eastern style. I’d choose plants that are from that part of the world also. Palms and a dragon-tree to give a hint of the tropics and phalaenopsis to add a bit of sophisticated glamour. The assorted cacti would look great on the windowsill or down the middle of the table as an alternative centerpiece.

Plants in the Kitchen via Dear Designer's Blog [2]

A more countrified kitchen would be the perfect excuse for a row of those fragrant geraniums but I would add other types of green foliage and perhaps a fig tree too. It’s the kind of kitchen where you would expect to find an abundant supply of potted herbs too so I’d definitely add those.

Plants in the Kitchen via Dear Designer's Blog [3]

My favourite kind of kitchen. The restrained aesthetics of a painted shaker style. I’d fill it with potted citrus plants, succulents and kalanchoes. As unfussy as the kitchen itself.

What do you have growing in your kitchen.

All of the kitchens shown are from Betta Living.

Plants from a selection at Homebase and Ikea.


Interior Designer Kelly Wearstler is renowned for her fiercely glamorous design style and her work can be seen in many high profile homes and hotels around the world.  Perhaps not as well known in the UK as elsewhere,her aesthetic is bold, boundary-pushing and has been described by the NY Times as ‘Retro-Theatrical’.

LuxDeco however, have launched a small exclusive collection of her products. So if you have a penchant for sculptural statement pieces mixing luxurious materials, industrial counterparts, minerals, gems and geometrics, now you know where to look.

Kelly Wearstler at Luxe Deco [9]

Kelly Wearstler at Luxe Deco [8]

Kelly Wearstler at Luxe Deco [10]


A White House in Oslo

August 5th, 2014 | Posted by deardesigner in Interior Design - (3 Comments)

I so admire the discipline that creates a beautiful white home like this. Yes, it’s easy enough to paint all of the walls and floors of a house white and fill it with white accessories. But the real skill is in the editing. The paring down of possessions until only the essentials and the extremely beautiful remains.

The home of photographer and stylist Line Kay in Oslo [4]

It’s been edited very skillfully. There is no clutter. Nothing superfluous. Everything has a purpose. Everything is placed precisely for a reason. Everything has room to breathe.

The home of photographer and stylist Line Kay in Oslo [2]

And of course the warmth of the space (because let’s face it some white houses can appear cold) has everything to do with the textures. The furs, the rug, the old wood and the baskets dotted around. Even hanging from the ceiling as pendant lights.

The home of photographer and stylist Line Kay in Oslo [3]

Nothing jars. There are no bright colours to spoil the serenity of white on white.

The home of photographer and stylist Line Kay in Oslo [5]

Everything is tidy and ordered.

The home of photographer and stylist Line Kay in Oslo [1]

And of course it’s the home of a stylist from Norway.

The home of stylist (and photographer) Line Kay via Femina.dk

Pottering Again

August 4th, 2014 | Posted by deardesigner in Gardens - (0 Comments)

I might seem a teeny bit obsessed with potting benches at the moment, but that’s because I still don’t have one! Yet.

I came across this image at the weekend for Wallpaper Direct (yes it’s actually for the peeling planks wallpaper) but was so taken with the rest of it I had to do some research. There’s nothing like a bit of forward planning.


Wallpaper Direct

Forward Planning for the Future Potting Bench via Dear Designers Blog


Now this is one micro-trend I can absolutely buy into.

I’m in no way green-fingered but I love to have plants in a room. Terrariums are like little mini garden eco-systems. Lush and verdant and now, so totally on trend. And they don’t take up as much room as a collection of normal sized plant pots either but look just, if not, even more effective. In fact, I’d like a few hanging from the ceiling in front of a window. How nice would that look?

Trendy Terrariums - Dear Designer's Blog [1]

Trendy Terrariums - Dear Designer's Blog [2]


For instructions on how to create your own I found these handy instructions over on West Elm.


As this glorious summer continues I find that I’m spending more and more time outdoors. Even without a perfect garden, the lure to sit outside is strong and I’ve been looking for inspiration everywhere for creating a little area for dining and entertaining.

Lo and behold, Designers Guild have lots of lovely ideas for using brightly coloured fabrics outside.

Designers Guild

I like the idea of this metal frame as a more temporary version of a pergola. The fabrics could be changed when you fancy a new colour scheme and stored away for winter. Because lets face it in our winters the last thing we want in small gardens is a huge structure blocking out light.

Designers Guild Saraille linen

And this larger version attached to the house is even big enough to accommodate a full size dining table. How lovely would this be on summer evenings with a lantern or two and the curtains wafting in the breeze?

Designers Guild Havana collection

And who says you can’t create a bohemian den on the deck of a modern house? This would be the ideal spot to spend an afternoon with family and friends.

Designers Guild Brera linens

May summer last a very long time.

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