TAKE 5 with SUSANA ORDOVÁS in MEXICO

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I first discovered Susana (@susana_ordovas) after seeing a photo of her home in Madrid – yes, this lucky woman has two homes.

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Susana’s home in Madrid. Photo: Montse Garrga Grua

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Susana’s home in Madrid. Photo: Lupe Clemente

After getting over my love attack with her green shutters, I immediately thought: now here is a woman with the guts to go for it.  Susana Ordovás’s style is classy, striking and easily identifiable as trademark Susana.  There’s no hesitation or ‘maybe I’ll just paint one wall and see how it goes’ with Susana. Of course, some of you, (if you spend any amount of time on Pinterest or Instagram) may have also admired photos of her homes and you would certainly be in good company as her homes have been featured in:

and, just last month, her home in Mexico (which has only recently been redecorated) has been published in the ‘Design Sponge’  blog.

As a now devoted follower, I couldn’t resist the chance to learn more about Susana, her bold stance on interior design and her thoughts on what is inspiring her fellow Mexican interior design lovers but, before we dive in, first a little bit of background.

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With the life Susana has led, I think she is actually posing as an interior stylist and is, in fact, a modern day Bond girl. OK, I possibly have an overactive imagination but she would definitely make a strong contender.  Born in Dublin, Susana is half English and half Spanish.  She was brought up in Africa (Zaire and Morocco) and went to University in Madrid, where she studied to be a journalist.  Whilst travelling the globe she met her husband (who’s from Belgium) “on assignment” in Mexico.  They bought their home in Mexico City 14 years ago, which is where they live with their two teenage children.  They are also fortunate enough to have a second home in Madrid, which she says is where they spend their holidays – but I like to think is actually her spy headquarters! (If you’d like to investigate my theory for yourselves you can actually stay at her home as she rents it out on Airbnb).

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Photo credit: Ana Hop

What is it like living in Mexico?

I’ve lived in Mexico City for 21 years.  It’s a complicated city to live in, with horrific traffic and pollution all year round, but in spite of this it’s actually a great city to live in.  Obviously the weather is wonderful but it’s also such a vibrant city with so much culture everywhere (Mexico City has the largest number of museums of any city in the world) and is full of shops, wonderful restaurants and (my love) flea markets!  Architecturally, it’s incredibly interesting and the variety of styles is mind-boggling.  I also love the fact that Mexicans make foreigners feel extremely welcome, so I feel right at home here.  I admit, however, that it’s also great to get away from the chaos once in a while, so to have our home in Madrid to escape to is a real privilege.

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View of Mexico City from Torre Latinoamericano. Photo by: Peeking Duck (@peekingduckco) Things to do in Mexico City

 

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Panoramic view of Zocalo (Plaza de la Constitucion), Mexico City.  Looking East from the roof top restaurant on the Portal de Mercaderes to the Palacio Nacional.

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Inside Museo Frida Kahlo. Photo by Peeking Duck (@peekingduckco) Things to do in Mexico City

 

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A vertical garden at the Restaurant Padrinos in Mexico City

When did you first have an interest in interior design and how would you describe your style/taste? 

 

I have always been obsessed with interior design.  It’s been part of my DNA forever.  My father’s side of the family (the Spanish side) is very artistic and there are quite a few of us dedicated to interior design and the world of antiques.  For a while I worked as an interior designer but I don’t any more.  I’m still immersed in that world, but in other ways.  It’s difficult to pinpoint my style, all I know is that I have a tremendous appreciation for old things, for furniture and objects that have had a previous life. I love mixing and matching unexpected objects and styles. I love interior design that stimulates you, spaces that are unexpected and want to make you look twice. My favourite designers are Dirk Jan Kinet Interiors, Dimore Studio, Lorenzo Castillo, Johnathan Adler and Kelly Wearstler. They are a tremendous source of inspiration to me.

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Photo credit: Ana Hop

Recently, many interior design lovers in the UK are turning to Instagram for interiors inspiration – does Instagram play any role in how you find inspiration for your home?

Absolutely!  I am obsessed with Instagram and there are a few accounts which are hugely inspiring to me.  However, my main source of inspiration is the work of my dear friend and decorator Dirk Jan Kinet (@dirkjankinetinteriors) who helped me decorate both my homes.  He has such a unique style, the work he does is truly outstanding and I admire him greatly.  We are also very close friends and usually spend our Sundays together scouring La Lagunilla, Mexico City’s infamous Sunday flea market.

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Susana and Dirk

 

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Susana bought these chairs from La Lagunilla Market

 

Where would your fellow countrymen head to for interior design inspiration? 

Mexico is a mishmash of styles so it’s hard to actually pin down one specific style that is on trend at the moment.  Axel Vervoodt’s luxurious minimalism and dark hues are probably most popular these days.

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Photo credit: Axel Vervoodt

 

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Photo credit: Axel Vervoodt

There is also a Mexican design studio called Habitación 116 which is hugely popular – I know a lot of my friends would kill to have their homes designed by them.  There is generally an absence of colour in all of their designs, but the materials they use are gorgeous – very earthy and luxurious.

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Photo credit: Habitacion 116

 

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Photo credit: Habitacion 116

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Photo credit: Habitaci0n 116

Is there much selection in terms of both independent and high street interior shops?

When I arrived here 21 years ago, I found it very difficult to decorate my first home; there was just no selection of shops or brands.  Fortunately, there has been a boom in the growth of interior design shops in Mexico just in the past few years.  The United States is a big influence here  and shops like Restoration Hardware, Kravet, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams  and the American designer Jonathan Adler  are hugely influential here.  Zara Home, H&M Home, Crate and Barrel, and Pottery Barn are also very popular with many home owners in Mexico.  What I love most is that there are also plenty of fabric and wallpaper brands to choose from such as Cole & Son, Pierre Frey, Designers Guild etc.

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Photo by Susana. Wallpaper by Kelly Wearstler.

 

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Photo credit Ana Hop

Do you think there is a huge variety in interior design styles in Mexico or, as you have so much sunlight and good weather, are the homes typically light for example or perhaps very traditional?  

Not so much in Mexico City.  Homes tend to be more conservative (both in style as well as in colour), probably due to the lifestyle and the fact that it’s never very hot here.  Houses by the seaside (Acapulco, Careyes, Baja California, Cancun etc), on the other hand, are usually far more colourful and playful.

 

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Image from The Travel Tester

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Image from Buzzfeed article

 

 

 

 

 

What would you say are the five current (affordable) interior design trends in Mexico?  Does the average person in Mexico even consider interior ‘trends’?

The reality of the economic climate of Mexico means that the average Mexican is usually not too preoccupied with design and trends.  However, the more privileged affluent Mexico City dweller would currently be interested in having these elements in their home: RICH VELVETS AND LINENS, WOODEN FLOORS (TROPICAL WOODS ARE VERY POPULAR),  MUTED COLOURS (taupes, grays), FRESH FLOWERS, CANDLES & HOMES SCENTS.

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What advice would you give to anyone when decorating their home?  

My advice is to buy only what you love. For example, my home is not at all what homes in Mexico are usually like -which are often influenced by styles from the United States.  My Mexican friends think I’m crazy the way my home is filled with so much colour, print, wallpaper and vintage and antique objects and furniture but I’ve followed my heart.  I’d also say that you need to just go for it (believe it or not, Dirk and I decorated my home in Madrid in just eleven days – it helps that I trust Dirk’s judgement fully and we work extremely well together, which made it so much easier to get it done quickly).  And, no matter how long it takes, don’t compromise!

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Photo credit: Elsa Loyola

 

 

TAKE 5: TINA HUNT IN TEXAS

@TINALHUNT_

PROP STYLIST, ARTIST, PHOTOGRAPHER, COLLECTOR AND MAKER

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I’m not sure exactly when I first started following Tina but I do know it was WOW at first post.  She has the sort of posts you can’t just ‘like’ and scroll past.  Vintage pieces, treasures she’s found, things she’s made, items from nature … all brought together, styled and photographed so beautifully that you are forced stop and take them in.  So I suppose, being an artist, stylist and photographer, it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch to assume that her home would be pretty cool too?  Yes, she’s got that covered as well.  Born in the UK but now living in Texas, she very kindly let me quiz her to learn more about her and her work, her love of interior design and her thoughts on where her fellow Texans are heading for their interior design inspiration.  You can follow her at @tinalhunt_ or go to her website http://www.tinahuntstyling.com to learn more about her work.

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Who and what first influenced you in your work and creativity?

I grew up in England, in a very creative household.  First influenced by my German mother who was a fine artist of, mostly, botanicals, I also fondly remember my visits to English village jumble sales.  I often came home adorned in fusty fur coats, vintage winkle pickers and carrier bags full of teapots, ceramics for my bedroom and other treasures that I had scooped for a few pence.  A detour into the world of corporate finance took me away from my creative passions but, after moving to Oman with my husband and children, they were re-ignited.  Through the long term illness of my middle daughter, I began to find my creative voice and I noticed that it was my therapy, carrying me through many hard times.  I began to paint with mixed media and my love of the souks and markets stimulated the collector in me.  Two years ago we moved our family to Houston, Texas and this opened up a whole new world to me.  I realised that what I loved most was collecting and photographing my props.  My passion exploded – the ability to develop my own story and capture unique items in an interesting light grabbed me and has continued to grow.

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When did you first discover a love of interior design?

As a child I would play at dumpsters, dragging out old chairs, wood for table and would make my own ‘house’ filling old bottles with flowers and weeds. There was always something so pleasing to me in building my own nest, wherever it may be. My Mother has a great sense of interior style blending many  European styles. Her ability to transform a room by moving furniture stayed with me and I learned from her how to breathe fresh air in to a room by being imaginative and changing things up.  I still recall with fondness my first apartment, my first dark green sofa, our first owned Cottage in the countryside. Nothing rivals the excitement of getting your door key.

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How would you describe your style?

My taste has evolved over the years.  I worry less now about style and design trends.  I love to make something out of nothing, blending thrift shop finds, things I have collected on my travels and newer pieces.  I surprise myself sometimes with what catches my eye.  I admit, I favour the neutral and natural tones – verging sometimes on the bohemian look.  Wall baskets, bone, linen, white painted cupboards, sisal, stoneware, open fires, candles, my artwork and the children’s.  It’s important to personalise a space and not live too neatly.  I want my house to be somewhere people can feel comfortable. 

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Does Instagram play any role in how you find inspiration for your home?

Instagram has been a source of great inspiration and community spirit for me.  It’s great to have a regular following and get to know people and their styles.  Having a community of like-minded people is amazing – there is someone else out there that gets crazy over a feather, a plate or a seed pod.

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Where do Texans head to for interior design inspiration? 

Texans love big houses so quite often the interior design is very grand. There is a diversity in Texas from the cosmopolitan homes of the city of Houston to the chilled out slightly Bohemian feel of Austin.  Texans either love ‘all out glamour’ luxe or vintage upcycling (something that is very big here).

 

 

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Design by Kim Lewis – @kimlewistiny homes / photo by Molly Winters Photography

 

HGTV’s ‘Fixer Upper’ TV show with Chip and Joanna Gaines from Waco, Texas is also hugely popular across the States as well.

 

The main interior magazines here are Mileu (@mileu) and Veranda (@veranda).  You won’t find images, however, in any magazines here of rooms decorated with fairy lights or art wall galleries like you would in the UK.  There are areas such as The Heights or Montrose where you might find great warehouse type apartments with more of a ‘quirky’ style to them but I never see them in magazines.

Where do Texans head to shop for interior décor?  Is there much selection in terms of shops (high street and independent)?

In Houston the shops are more mainstream  – such as West Elm, Crate and Barrel and Restoration Hardware (a Houstonian favourite) but further afield we are awash with vintage shops galore, consignment shops and antique flea markets.  Austin is especially full of many treasures – for example, Red (@redinfred) stocks some really great stuff.  I came across them in a town in the countryside of north Texas and have found quite a few treasures there.

5 Trends in Texas:

As I mentioned above, I worry less about ‘trends’  these days but, according to well known Texan interior designer Joni Webb , the trends for last year were 1) light French oak floors, 2) white paint, 3) contemporary chandeliers, 4) accent chairs and 5) black walls or lacquered walls. 

What advice would you give to people about creating a style like yours? 

Buy what you like.  Forget everyone else.  Go with your heart.  Buy what catches your eye naturally and let your collection grow organically over time.  Collect unique items when travelling.  Mix up thrift shop finds with new and vintage.  Spend money on a great dining table and sofa and accessorise more cheaply.  Be prepared to paint things and have a vision.  Make your home welcoming, comfortable and cosy at all times.  Use flowers, candles, open fires, music.  Enjoy and love your space and that will shine through.

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 We all use our creativity in different ways – in times of sunshine and happiness and in the darker challenging times.  To know you have this form of self expression that no one can take away is a gift.  Nothing is right or wrong, good or bad.  The pure fact it is personal and heartfelt makes it wonderful. – Tina Hunt

Take 5

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Ok, I know we haven’t even had Christmas yet but, before we know it, we’ll be counting down to midnight and then find ourselves staring 2017 straight in the face so, think of this as a public service announcement and brace yourself!  You only have a few days until the posts and articles will start: ’10 New Year’s Resolutions For Your Home’, ‘656 Ways To Freshen Up Your Home For The New Year’, ‘8000 Top Tips On What You Need To Buy For Your Home NOW’.  

Last year, I too made a post about the trends for 2016 – although in my defence it was a tongue-in-cheek look at how so many of the ‘experts’ contradicted themselves.  I couldn’t help, however, diving in to make my own predictions.  It was hardly rocket science but some of what I predicted was: indoor plants, painted black floorboards, 70’s vibe, the colour green, rugs – particularly in kitchens – wood ceilings, geometric patterns and…. pears.  Ok, not many could, realistically, do the wood ceilings (although I still think it’s cool) and I was ahead of the game on that green prediction but, no, I don’t know what I was thinking about with the pears either.

As the year went on, there have been plenty of other trends (particularly Instagram trends) that have not gone unnoticed by anyone remotely interested in such things.  Altogether now, UK Instagram interior fans: chalkboard paint, sheepskin rugs, neon lighting, cacti, faux plants, retro letter boards, glitter balls, macramé wall hangings,  star cushions, string lights, light boxes, hanging plant holders, palm leaf wallpaper… to name but a few.  And they were all wrapped up in a hague, I mean haze, of dark blue.   Now don’t get me wrong, I love a trend  and am in no way unculpable when it comes to falling prey to it’s lure – clearly illustrated by the fact that I have a (temporary) guest room painted in a match of hague blue, I regularly bemoan the fact that I only have one sheepskin rug, my bedroom is painted very dark grey, my daughter’s bedroom has a blush pink wall with fairy lights, I have an addiction to cacti and, although I didn’t succumb – hello La Redoute Moroccan themed rug; which looks great in every setting I see it in – to all the trends, I certainly considered them.  Trends are mainly a good thing and in fact are only such because so many people have fallen in love with whatever it is that is trendy.  Interior trends offer new inspiration, offer a bit of, generally, inexpensive retail therapy and if nothing else provide a reason for many of us, photo happy, Instagrammers a good excuse to post the  50th  picture of our (fill in the blank)-room.  Unfortunately though there is a slight downside to trends.

Throughout 2016, I’ve ‘liked’, followed and dipped into 1000s of posts and blogs and, a year in, I am going to confess that I have been feeling slightly jaded of late. The problem for any interior addict is that you are so hooked on inspiration that you, inevitably, see the same images many times over. It’s not that I don’t love looking at the daily dose of inspiring images – there are so many photos of so many people’s rooms I just can’t get enough of; so much so that I would happily have photos of their homes super-sized and hung in my home so I could pretend I lived in there – but it came to a point, a couple of months ago, when I had just had surgery and had a lot of time on my hands, that I thought to myself there must be more out there?  I knew all the UK trends and I couldn’t face another article with clichéd titles (put the spring back in your home, summerize your house, make sure your home falls into place, interior tips to warm up to this winter) and 5 simple steps to do this or 8 easy updates for this room or that (articles which I myself have written this past year and, to be honest, will likely write again).  No doubt, my surliness was directly connected to my morphine comedown (at least I hope that’s all it was!) but surely, I thought, there is something else out there to inspire me again before the new trends and inspirational photos of 2017 kick in. 

Walking past a cushion I bought over 15 years ago in Sri Lanka, it came to me.  I want to know what is going on in the rest of the world.  One of the best things about travelling anywhere is, of course, soaking up a different culture and all the fantastic sights and sounds and smells of a new place.  You suddenly feel like you are on inspiration overload because it’s all so new and different and exciting.  With that in mind, we’re going on a little trip in the New Year.  We are heading to Sri Lanka, Mexico, Argentina, South Africa and the US to find out not only about some incredibly inspiring people (interior designer, stylist, production company owner, photographer and interior shop owner are just some of the hats these people wear) but also about the countries they live in and what is happening in the world of interior design where they are from.  Do they love string lights as much as us or, who knows, maybe they are mad about pears and my prediction last year WAS right?  I don’t actually know yet (although I’m not holding my breath on those pears) as we are just getting started but I know I can’t wait to find out.  I hope you’ll join me on this little trip. 

Merry Christmas everyone.  xxx

£20 GUEST ROOM MAKEOVER

A.K.A:  MY BUDGET DOG-ROOM/JUNK-ROOM-INTO-A-TEMPORARY-GUEST-BEDROOM-MAKEOVER

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We have a room in our house that is a nothing room. The previous home owners apparently built it so that their teenage son could have a bedroom downstairs. They shortened the garage and extended to the side to create this room, that I was told, he never used.  I can sympathise. All we ever used it for was the place you put the stuff that you can’t find anywhere else to put. Oh, just stick that table in there – we can Ebay it on the weekend. Spare boxes? Don’t throw them out we might need them one day – stick them in the …. ‘room’. That was the other problem. It was a room without a name but somehow it didn’t seem right to devote a whole room to junk and then legitimize it by giving an actual ‘the junk room’ name to it.

Then we got our dog Marley and she temporarily slept in there – this was at the beginning when it was all ‘OK we’ll get a dog but I’m not picking up the poo, she’s not allowed upstairs and she will NEVER sleep on our beds.’ This lasted about 3 days (well, you can’t leave a little ickle puppy to cry on her own) but the name stuck. Dog room it was. Still had the same use but now we’d just say things like ‘just stick that old stereo in the DOG ROOM – we’ll ebay it on the weekend.

This is how it was looking after sanding and one coat of white paint. I forgot to take before pics prior to this but it’s not really far off how it was anyway. Just imagine magnolia walls and, slightly, less dust.

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Truth be told though, the real reason I never did anything with it was because, in my mind, this room does have a purpose. This room is going to be a laundry room / boot room with doors to the garden and another door knocked through to the kitchen. It is completely planned in my mind. I know the flooring (brick slip tiles) the colour of the units (dark green-y grey or possibly black) the shelving (reclaimed oak), the layout (boot storage/tall storage cupboards and seating at the window end with washing machine and dryer at the back where the lower ceiling is) and the accessories – pull out hanging clothes rack, black armed wall lighting above the counters in the washing area and black and white photos, wicker baskets, a double canvas laundry bag on wheels and the smell of lavender … in case you were wondering.

So, as I was saying, I didn’t really care that it was a dumping ground because to me it was just a room in waiting.  Until last month, when we invited various friends to come and stay with us over the holidays. Fantastic. So excited. Can’t wait to see them. But, um… where will they sleep? Only one place for it. The junk-room-then-dog-room-but-is-actually-going-to-be-a-laundry-room had to become a (insert determined sounding voice) TEMPORARY guest bedroom.

Originally I had great plans to go ‘crazy’ with colour but, after some thought, I realised that I would have to buy sooo much stuff to create the look I wanted and that I’d be buying things that I wouldn’t use anywhere else in my house (like the bright orange mannequin I found) and that there was no way I was going to chuck money at a room that was temporary ….no matter how loooong ‘temporary’ may be.

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mannequin.jpgSo, by using all the bits and pieces we had, and only buying a few inexpensive accessories, we now have, I hope, a cosy and comfortable  room for our drunken friends to stumble into bed (and not notice anything at all – aside from the water and ibuprofen I leave out) for the grand total of roughly £150.  And,  as I actually did manage to Ebay that table (for £130) it is, in fact, a £20 makeover. Here are some pics:

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Here’s the breakdown:

B and Q Valspar paint – not sure of cost as my husband bought it but,roughly £20.

B and Q bark shelf – £26

Primark throw – £12

Grey September  Everlasting calendar £13.50 (I love this calendar by the way and the genius is in the title)  and star garland £6.95 which they have styled up way better than I have.

Red Bubble cloud print – £12.47

Ikea picture – £29.99 – this was in the bargain bin so no link but there were loads (ha ha what does that say about my taste) so you can probably find one.

DIY ‘art-lers’ – aprox £12 for shield and test tubes from Amazon

H and M Cushion – £3.99 (my only black Friday purchase so no delivery charge)

Primark bags £1 each – repurposed by my daughter into cushions

The Little House Shop wire star – I think this may be sold out as I can’t see it on their website anymore but you could contact them and see.  It was £10 (if I remember correctly).

Much of this furniture will be on Ebay come the end of January –  to make room for those laundry room cabinets. Well, like the sign says:

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#INSTAHOME

 

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Have you ever picked up an interiors magazine or watched an interior design programme on TV and longed to live in or, at least, recreate, one of these beautifully showcased homes for yourself – then quickly shaken yourself out of your reverie once you remembered the necessary budget, time and expertise it would take to achieve? Well – I don’t know if you’ve noticed –
but there’s a new interior design forum that does all the research for you, giving you limitless inspiration and makes freshening up your home a whole lot easier. It’s called Instagram.

If you are anything like I was around a year or so ago (when I thought a hash tag must just be some sort of illegal game of chase) you might be thinking: “Isn’t that just something that kids use to post selfies and photos of what they’ve eaten for dinner?” But, just like I was, you would be wrong: Instagram recently announced that more than 500 million people now
use its photo-sharing service, making it one of the fastest growing social networks of all time. More than 95 million photos and videos are shared every single day, and among all those images of roast dinners and Selena Gomez (with over 100 million followers, she has the biggest Instagram following), there are also millions of photos posted that are solely dedicated to interior design. Boho, monochrome, Scandi, mid-century modern, Cali, industrial – whatever your taste, there’s something for every devoted design addict, and a host of Instagrammers who spend their days posting inspiring images.

But that’s not even the best part: now, when you see a
photo of a room featuring something that you absolutely love, there’s no need to go trawling stores for a copycat product – you can just ‘like’, comment, and ask a designer or seller directly.

Photographer Pati Robins (@patirobins/www.probinsphotography.weebly.com) and her prints are a prime example. “I sold my work for a few years before joining Instagram, but it definitely brought more opportunities and customers,” she says. “Seeing your own work in people’s homes, styled in a different way, is truly amazing and the Instagram community is very supportive.” Creative lighting designer Emma Krause from Light up North
(@light_up_north / http://www.newiconsofprint.com), who specialises in bespoke neon lighting, agrees. She only started her business this spring but has already seen the benefits of sharing on the platform. “We use Instagram to demonstrate our skills and find it an instant way to communicate with our
customers right through the design process.” Meanwhile, the advantage to you and I is that we get to learn about great independent start-up shopslike theirs and have a direct conversation with them.

For me, the best thing about the world of Insta-interiors though is being able to follow the accounts of people from all over the world, who have a style you love. If you have any questions about their home or style, you can just comment on an image and they will, most likely, get back to you with everything you want to know. I’ve found the Instagram community to be a super-friendly lot, although this, by the way, can also be a downside -you may find yourself pulled so far into the Insta-fam that soon, like me, you have your real family moaning that you spend far too much time with them! Here is a list of my own favourite Instagrammers who inspire me every day – take a look…

@marciekdesigns – In our own backyard is artist Marcie, who styles up any room with colour, panache and a touch of punk. Meet her in person at her market stall in Stokes Croft.

@lou_a_watkins – ‘1930’s drift into mid-century, bump into the 70s and hang out together in a vintage meets modern mix’ is how fellow Bristolian Lou
describes her style. I head here for the wittiest banterer on Instagram and her huge knowledge of art and vintage finds.

@lmalyondraws – Lisa Malyon is a Bristol artist specialising in contemporary architectural illustrations featuring Bristol and beyond. Aside from her fantastic prints, check out her hand-drawn lampshades. Gorgeous and unique (www.lisamalyondraws.co.uk)

@dig_haushizzle We are so lucky to have this unique decorative antique and interior shop in Bristol. The owners, Cassandra and Edward, buy only what they love themselves and post inspiring photos of their stock on Instagram. (www.dig-Haushizzle.co.uk)

@newiconsofprint An Instagram fairytale if ever you heard one. This Bristol-based company (which sells amazing original typography and photographic prints) was started by Mellony and Becky – who connected via Instagram and started their business before they actually met in person. (www.newiconsofprint.com)

@cowboykate_ Kate’s dark, eclectic, laidback, boho glam will have you racing to the shops to re-paint your home. She also sells beautiful sheepskin hides. (www.cowboykate.co.uk/shop)

@archer.t.j Tina Archer is addicted to the dark side of interiors with, as she says, ‘quirky bits’ – you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who does ‘quirky bits’ better.

@lucy_makemeloved A self-proclaimed interior junkie who mixes dark and light interiors effortlessly. The only problem with following her is that each time she posts something you feel compelled to recreate it.

@deecampling Obsessed with interiors and a lover of fairy lights and tea – pour yourself a cup to give you time to soak up her cool styling ideas.

@aboutthishaus What she doesn’t know about Scandi isn’t worth knowing. Her posts are beautifully photographed…and she’s lovely to chat to, to boot!

@kerrylockwood It’s all about the detail with Kerry. Head to her account for styling touches that will help you create a home you never want to leave.

@_lisa_dawson_ This vintage devotee is a goldmine for inspirational home touches (and you’re certain to contract a major case of room envy).

@artyhomestudio My kindred spirit on many things interior. Aside from having great taste, she is the queen of colour, shelfies and anything you want to know about
indoor plants.

@artynads This artist and design lover can style up a vignette like nobody’s business. If you don’t rush out to buy some blackboard paint and chalk after viewing her posts, I’d be highly surprised.

@2littleoneslondon She calls her style Scandinavian modern meets French bistro with touches of industrial chic-ness. I just call it awesome.

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HOW TO GET YOUR HOME IN A MAGAZINE

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What do you think the top three selling magazines in the UK are? Well, I’ll tell you: according to the latest ABC statistics, as of August 2016 the top magazines in the UK and Ireland by sales are: ‘TV Choice’, ‘What’s on TV’ and ‘Slimming World’. Interestingly, the first ‘home interest’ magazine, that rates in 29th position, is Ideal Home and it appears that ‘Disney Frozen’, ‘Lego Ninjago’ and ‘Sparkle World’ (what the hell is Sparkle World?!?!) all beat Living etc. in spot 74. Honestly, I just despair. Not for the first time in my life I ask WHY? Come on people. I do appreciate that interior magazines may not be for everyone but Slimming World at number three?? Do you not know by now that a vase will ALWAYS fit?

Two weeks ago, I posted a blog about whether or not interior magazines were becoming redundant – what with the growth of Instagram and its enormous daily hit of interior design inspiration for us obsessives or even for people just looking for a few good ideas to copy. Judging by your responses it was a bit of a hot topic. Although many of you felt that there was no need for you to buy them (“I only buy them if my insta-chums are in them”, “masses of advertising and little actual content”), the vast majority still felt there is a place for interior magazines. It seems that to all of those who still buy interior magazines, although Instagram offers a huge amount of interior inspiration, it can’t completely replace the actual physical enjoyment of flipping through a magazine, in peace, with a cup of coffee or glass of wine.

Since such a large group of us still enjoy interior magazines, I thought it would be interesting to find out how people get their homes into them, so I headed to an expert in the field: freelance interiors journalist Annabelle Grundy. I was lucky enough to interrupt her busy schedule to ask her some questions but first, here is a little bit about her and her husband, specialist interiors photographer Colin, who takes the pictures for all their great features.

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Annabelle and Colin started working together in the early 1990s. Colin has worked on food photography, celebrities, cars, shooting books and lots of general magazine feature work. Celebrity work morphed into ‘celebs at home’ with the advent of Hello! and OK magazines and from there he gradually moved towards interiors; he has specialised in this field for the last 20 years. As for Annabelle, alongside magazine features she has written for BBC books, newspapers and other interior design books. Together they currently work for most of the UK’s leading titles. So clearly, if we are going to find out any answers about how to get your home into a magazine then these are the two to ask. Here are a few questions I put to Annabelle:

What types of homes do interior magazines look for?

Each magazine has its own reader profile – age, sex, income bracket, design taste, level of trend awareness. So for example, Living etc or Ideal Home would look for something very different from Style at Home. Likewise, English Home or Period Living wouldn’t be very interested in anything you might see in Real Homes. Mostly they want homes that their readers can easily identify with: achievable, affordable homes that are similar to a reader’s own but decorated in an inspiring and interesting way. There are openings for unusual properties eg. houseboat, converted school, chapel, water-tower, etc, and also large, grand ‘country piles’ and very expensively-equipped, upmarket properties, but these are harder to place. They are also always short of Xmas homes (probably because of the extra hassle and styling work for everyone!) and picturesque seaside homes are usually sought-after too.

What in particular makes a magazine-worthy home?

Magazines look for homes that tell a story, with consistent, contemporary style right through, so all rooms (kitchen, living rooms, at least 2 bedrooms, bathroom and any other nice spaces like hall, conservatory, dining room, etc.) have to be well-decorated and accessorised, with a cohesive look. They are interested in styles that readers can recreate or be motivated by, either by buying it or by making it themselves. Inspiring, creative homes, packed with clever design ideas and shopping tips. They are also interested in problem-solvers, so homes dealing with practical issues like space-saving, storage, lighting, etc.

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Is there anything else that will stand one home out from the rest?

Visual impact, especially colour, is important. Although a subtle, white-on-white interior might look fab in the flesh, it is colour that jumps off the page. Seasonality is also a factor: some homes clearly lend themselves to, say, cosy winter looks and others to bright, sunshiney looks.

Could Mrs. Smith with a ‘nice’ home get it into a magazine or does there have to be something different about it? Who is more likely to get their home in a magazine – someone with a ‘nice’ home or one that is much more modern and on trend?

A lot is down to timing and luck!! Magazines usually run 3-4 homes per issue, so if one already scheduled is very edgy and modern, they might be looking for something softer and more accessible to balance it. ‘Nice’ is definitely in demand, so long as there’s a bit of a story. If Mrs. Smith just went to John Lewis and bought everything from there, it’s more tricky to sell it. Magazines get offered so many more ‘nice’ homes than very on-trend, unusual ones, so there’s more competition around that type of house.

D0 magazines particularly request that you are on the lookout for homes that have …..(blank). For example: We really want more homes with dark walls, or we really need more homes with a hygge feel (or whatever trend is out there).

They do sometimes request ‘themes’ but they tend not to be overly in one niche – variety is the key for ‘real homes’ and they would usually shoot their own roomsets for trend pages.
How have things changed since you started?

When I first started it was all Changing Rooms, mdf everywhere, bright, bold colours, stencilling (remember that?) Designers Guild prints and paint effects. The backlash was a slew of super-neutrals and whites – gorgeous to look at but quite hard to make look interesting on paper. We’ve been through the ‘kitchen-diner’, furniture upcycling, eco-trends, wallpaper, and now it’s modern country, Scandi-style, vintage and inky darks that are among what’s in demand. Digital photography has changed everything too – we used to work with film, and Polaroids for test shots which now seems sooo laborious. You didn’t get to see the finished images until they came back from the lab, so if you notice a mistake at that point, it’s definitely too late. There was no Photoshop to help you out so photographers had to be far more technically skilled.

Once someone’s home is selected to be featured in a magazine what can they expect to happen on their photoshoot and how long does it take?

A photoshoot for a whole house takes us a day. We usually bring flowers and maybe food props to put on kitchen work tops etc, and sometimes a few cushions, throws, crisp ironed pillows etc, if we feel there are any gaps. If we’re coming to shoot your home, we’ll probably have already had an initial visit, or at least seen some photos, so we’ll know a bit about your style and colours. On the day, it’s good to have your house tidy, beds made etc. Colin would work through the house – often the shooting order is dictated by how the light moves around the house through the day. You’ll need to be in a couple of photos yourself but this is usually a ‘doing’ shot and is about putting the home in context, so don’t worry about it! The interview would usually take place on the shoot day as well, though sometimes I do this by phone. I write the article after the shoot and let you see and check it before it goes to the magazine.

What does the person getting their home in a magazine generally want/get out of it?

It’s fun, and usually if they’ve put a lot of themselves into their home and they’re proud of it, they enjoy having it showcased, talking about it and sharing their experience with other like-minded folk. Provided it’s homes-related, a homeowner’s business can usually be credited in the article too, though it has to be woven in, as it’s an interiors article, not a business advertorial.

If anyone is reading this who thinks their home might have what it takes to get in a magazine what should they do?

If you’d like to see your home in a magazine, please get in touch with me! Initially I’ll try to come and see your home and take some pictures or ask you to send me some photos of your home. I’ll also ask you a little bit about yourself, who lives in the house, what you’ve done to it, your style, taste etc. I’ll then send the images and info about you to whichever magazine we think it might suit. They hold regular editorial meetings where they review submissions for freelancers like us. If we get the go-ahead for your house, we’d then arrange a convenient day with you for the shoot and interview.

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Well, that’s my house out the window then – there is a reason you never see my kitchen on Instagram) although, excitingly for our family Annabelle and Colin are about to photograph my sister-in-law’s home for a magazine. Here is a sneak peak (I think it might just fulfill the colour requirements desired by magazines):

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If you would like to see your home in a magazine then contact Annabelle at http://www.photoword.co.uk or email her annabelle@photoword.co.uk She’d love to hear from you!

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Well I had to google it. 

 

 

 

 

 

TIRED OF TILES? TIRED OF LIFE

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Image and tiles by Rory Dobner

Ok, I’ll admit it. I came up with this title before I even knew what I’d write. Personally, I thought it was so bad it was good but my daughter, clearly, thought otherwise: Me to my daughter: What do you think of my title for this week’s blog? It’s “Tired of tiles? Tired of Life”. Her: I have NO IDEA what that’s about. Me: Dogs. Her: But what do dogs have to do with tiles?

Well, to be honest, it would probably have been a lot easier to write about dogs. Even Siri had a freak out when I asked “How many tile shops are in the UK?” and shut my iPad down. My daughter says this was because my storage is full of too many photos of “chairs and stuff” but personally I’m convinced Siri just couldn’t take the overload of tile shops out there and gave up.

Like Siri though, my idea of a post on tiles was almost too much for me in the end. Mosaic, laser-cut, subway, patterned, cement, zellige, encaustic, reclaimed, ceramic… how do you possibly break this down.

Start with inspiration….

Much of my inspiration, for many interior related things, comes from America or Australia (Denmark would be a very close runner up) and one of my favourite interior design inspiration sites in America is Amber Interiors.

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Image from Amber Interiors

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Image from Amber Interiors

Being the stalker Instagram fan that I am, I know that she often heads to Cle tiles, so that is where I head (for inspiration) too.  I see Timorous Beasties does as well because they are now a featured artist.

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Image from Cle Tiles

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Timorous Beastie tile from Cle Tiles

But inspiration is a funny ol’ thing and it can strike at any time and influence, or even change your point of view. Like when I saw @kerrylockwood_ ‘s recent post and suddenly geometric tiles were pushed out of the way by pattern.

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Photo from Luigiroselli Architects via Pinterest

Skip trends….

I took these next two two photos whilst  on holiday in Morocco in February and 8 months on they still inspire me.

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On a side note, I have since spent far too many spare hours to mention looking for a super sized vintage French film poster only to find and buy one and it has been lost in the post. Insert imagined delay here as I have a small internal cry. Back to the point though, which is that if you find something that makes you feel, literally, elated when you see it then that is what you go for. Don’t bother thinking about trends or what’s cool or not. Don’t google ‘tile trends 2016’ or similar, it is ALWAYS about what makes your heart sing. We aren’t talking about an impulse Zara poncho buy, this is an investment and you can’t hide it in your bottom drawer when you get bored/embarrassed. If you ever think to yourself ‘that’ll do’ than step away from the tiles.

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I used this sample tile in my final project (a hotel )at KLC. Years on I still love it and don’t think it will ever date.

Little changes make a big difference….
Although I have long been on the search for tiles – three years to be precise which is about 2 seconds after viewing our house for the first time and clocking the royal blue kitchen wall tiles everywhere which are so nicely complimented by terracotta floor tiles interspersed with little matching blue flower tiles (WHY WHY WHY?!?) – my interest has grown exponentially in the last year. This is somewhat proven by the fact that my third ever post on Instagram (made a year ago) was of Bert and May – one of my favourite tile suppliers. I’m sure most of you know Bert and May but I will tell you now that to hold one of their tiles in your hands is a little moment of joy. Here is how a small galley kitchen area in a out building I worked on this year, was transformed with some of their tiles. A quick, easy facelift!

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Image from Bert and May

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Image from Bert and May

Look out for the unexpected….

One of my biggest interior tips is to look at what restaurants are doing. They, very often, have the budget (and need) to be braver and bolder than the rest of us and are a great place to gain inspiration from – even if you scale it down. But I don’t just mean an exclusive, bijoux, restaurant in New York. The other day, I spotted this post by @edwardian_womble of a pub she visited in Oxfordshire. Such a simple idea but sometimes simple is the best. Just change up the pattern. Simple. Easy. Budget-friendly and effective.

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Photo from @myrestaurants of South Congress Hotel in Texas

Be brave….
No one wants to invest lots of money and find out 5 months down the line that it was a ‘cray cray’ moment and now they hate it (I like to hope this was the realisation of my home’s previous owner’s and his/her decision on royal blue wall tiles and terracotta, with flowers, floor tiles ) but there are times when you need to take a step beyond what you see around you.

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Image from Blood and Champagne

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Image from Blood and Champagne .com

It doesn’t have to be as dramatic as that though. How about just opting for silver metal metro tiles behind your stove rather than white for an easy, inexpensive focal point. Don’t believe me?  Yee of little faith. Click here. 

So, before you pack yourself off to B and Q or Wickes or Topps Tiles or any of the other predictable places that a person looking for tiles heads just take a little time to investigate. I am by no means saying you can’t find something great there – to be honest I haven’t needed to look, but, just for a moment, stop thinking about what is practical in life and think about what makes you happy. (Tiles AND life advice. Mike drop!).