A tour round my neighbourhood

Today I thought I would take you on a little mini tour of my neighbourhood, Dalston in East London. Arty, edgy and pretty darn fabulous if you ask me (biased of course) its where the fashion cognoscenti gather and the cool crowd hang out. Forget uptight formal haunts think more, cafes with scrubbed tables, bijou little stores and artists studios selling fabulous stuff.

I thought we would start with Violet a fab bijou cake shop at the bottom of my road. It’s owned by Claire Ptak a former pastry chief to Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley and a favourite of Jamie Oliver. Cupcakes are the speciality and made with limited edition butter cream icings that change with the seasons. Chocolate or vanilla sponge cakes are baked with organic flour, sugar, milk and eggs. Many of the other ingredients are organic as well, like Madagascan vanilla pods and pure cane molasses. The icings that top the moist little sponge cakes, are made by whipping up butter and sugar then gently folding in fresh fruit purees, melted Valrhona dark chocolate, freshly brewed espresso, homemade flower cordials or dark caramel made with sea salt.www.violetcakes.com

Violet in Wilton way – sweet sweet sweet

Borough Wines

Also located on Wilton way a super duper little wine store just literally opened. These guys have a shop in Borough market which they started as a way to promote the wines of Chateau Ponchapt their family vineyard in Bergerac. It’s a destination for connoisseurs with an interesting collection of wines. The best bit if you are a local is to buy from the barrels of white and red on tap, sweet refillable glass litre bottles are on hand for just that purpose.Maud and I popped in and had a snoop yesterday and brought back a bottle from the barrel. Delish! Wine tastings are held on quickly basis and wine makers are regularly going to be holding talks there. Yay hey http://www.boroughwines.com

Next up the Farm shop on Dalston Lane – chickens on the roof, mushrooms in the basement and herbs grown up the walls. It also houses a café. We get eggs there a couple of times a week and they are amazing!

Arcola theatre and Café Otto sit virtually side by side and are more or less opposite the farm shop. home of creative music and theatre alike that exists outside of the mainstream.  Graham and I at the end of a long week often times find ourselves particularly in the summer at Otto listening to some live jazz. Its got that kind of NY downtown sort of feel, unpretentious and outside of the mainstream. www.arcolatheatre.com, http://www.cafeoto.co.uk

E5 Bake house

The Bake house is located in a spruced up railway arch, totally organic, Michel Roux Jr is a fan and their multi grain bread is to die for. e5bakehouse.com

Enough on food (anyone would think I am obsessed) lets move on to vintage furniture

Dog in the wardrobe The Dog & Wardrobe is a favourite founded and fronted by Vishal Gohel, Jane Money and their four-legged friend, Porto (who I might add is a friend of Maud’s) these guys have a fantastic eye. Artfully presented and constantly evolving retro and industrial stuff it’s worth keeping on your radar. www.thedogandwardrobe.com.

The dog in the wardrobe above and below its a regular Saturday stop off for G and I. We’ve brought lights, letters and a big old industrial unit that houses all my hand thrown tableware.

Arch 389 is next to London Fields railway station (right up from the bake house).  Fab selection of mid century, industrial stuff and again worth keeping on the radar. Finally Stella Blunt is packed full with delightful vintage finds – a mix I think I read of gloriously antique and east end grit. Cool, crowded and eclectic from 50s chairs to art deco mirrors.

I could go on but I fear you may have all nodded off by now. Broadway market is the jewel in the crown Food stalls high-quality fashion, vintage clothing and independent boutiques excite and inspire. There are a zillion more places to mention but that should keep you going I reckon. Happy holidays the store is closed tomorrow (open Saturday) and then closed for the next two days as we have an extended bank holiday in the UK.

Decorating Children’s Rooms

Last night my sister gave birth to a little baby girl, called Lily (named after our grandmother). She is the first baby in our family, (apart from Maud of course who is a dog  and probably doesn’t really count)  and needless to say we are all overjoyed. I started to think about decorating kids rooms and after a little bit of research found very little out there that appealed – most of the spaces felt somewhat how can I say, well twee. I think its important that kids rooms reflect the owners aesthetic especially when  children are super young. Two women whom I greatly admire have done just that with their children’s rooms they are of course Jenna Lyons and Kelly Wearstler.

Below is the room belonging to Jenna’s son Beckett and whilst it follows the vibe of the rest of Jenna’s house it also feels wonderfully kiddy.The palette remains dark but is brightened with a fun striped ceiling, beautiful letters and lots of toys. If I had kids then this is how I want their bedroom to look!

The other image I wanted to show you is of a fabulous room for Kelly Wearstler’s two boys. It still very much feels like a Wearstler interior, glam, grown up, playful but it has an energy to it that feels young. Now I just need to remember to dress like this when reading to Lilly!

By the way we are looking for some interns to work with our marketing department particularly concentrating on our social media presence from mid May for about 6 to  8 weeks. Ideally London based (for a few days a week would be spent at HQ) although thats not essential. If you know of anyone please let me know.

Decorating a rental

One of the few drawbacks when living in a rental is the limitations when it comes to decorating since often times you can’t pull up the carpet and paper the walls. However fear not there are some rather creative things you can do without breaking your lease.We lived in a rental for over three years when we moved to America, the paint palette was what I can only describe a beige haze of blandness and there was carpeting throughout  (and I am so not a fan of carpeting).  On the walls I hung pictures (some landlords let you put nails or tacks in walls but if they don’t consider using adhesives that will not damage the walls or paint. I hung a huge panel of wallpaper paper from bulldog clips to break up the beige ness in our bedroom. I covered the boring carpets with area rugs which immediately lifted the space and although the house wasn’t furnished the agreement with my husbands company who sent us Stateside was that we had to rent the furniture from just two companies. This caused the most arguments since I hated all the furniture in the showrooms  – boring, conservative and hideous. I covered what I could with throws and textiles and then just added vintage pieces.

The best part in making the place a home was the finishing touches and when it comes to accessorising the sky is literally the limit.  There are no restrictions so go mad with vases, art, window treatments, textiles and lighting to create the atmosphere you want and a home that you love.

Some images below of Cynthia Loebe’s rented studio apartment in Hollywood that I saw in the New York Times.

Cynthia constructed the sofa from plywood and then layered with textiles.

Without Cynthia’s stuff this space would just be a boring white room. Rugs, paintings, accessories transform it and add the wow factor.

Flea market finds plus the odd bit of  DIY make this dining area very unique.

The canvas was painted by Cynthia, and its clipped not stuck to wall. Enlivening the walls with fabric and wallpaper is a fab way of breaking up vast areas of pale colours.

The more layers you can add through accessories the more intriguing the scheme.


Fab feature in Sunday Times Style yesterday entitled Pimp your boudoir with insider tips from top interior designers including moi! No longer a room purely to sleep Style asked leading designers top tips in how to turn your bedroom into a sanctuary. Suggestions are varied including oodles of cushions, rugs on rugs, sludgy colours, sumptuous textiles think fake fur, mohair and velvet, scented candles and flowers.

Happy Easter Monday.