Friday, 31 August 2012

The only paradise is paradise lost*

We have literally just landed from what has to be the most awesome vacation I have ever been on – we have been to the Maldives (a destination not on our list, but the villa, stiltly, water thing is something that has to be done…). Firstly, the scenery was absolutely breathtaking – I have never seen colours so vividly – the turquoise of the lagoon in contrast to the dark blue of the ocean was out of this world…. it was wonderful to see how the appearance of light driven by geography and topography has such an impact on how you perceive colours.

One thing you learn as an interior designer is that colours look very different and work very differently in different types of light and, as a consequence, you have to appreciate how different colours work in different types of environment. This was illustrated supremely in the Maldives where the light from the sea, which has a slight but significant blue to it, had a huge impact on the vividness of the colours everywhere else and, more importantly, on the colours that work. In contrast, here in London the city light is slightly grey and hence, the colours that work in the Maldives won’t necessarily work in city light… furthermore, in the countryside, the light is slightly green and unsurprisingly a totally different colour palette typically works in this environment. It made me realise that as a consequence of the fact I have spent a lot of time designing in London (and hence lots of my schemes have an undertone of grey to work with the light) is was so refreshing to see bold bright colours working so well in the natural sea light of the Maldives.

The Six Senses was beautifully designed and its colour scheme was based on a standard and neutral base colour, to complement the wood from which all the Ocean and Lagoon villas were built - this was then fused with a tropical colour palette of bright turquoises, oranges, pinks, yellows and lime greens… which may well have been inspired by the coral reef that surrounded this private island. These vivacious and bright colours are ideal for locations by the sea where bold decoration looks fantastic and gives natural vigor to an interior. In this instance they had to tastefully reach the appropriate balance between the neutrals and tropical colours to ensure it didn’t look garish or over the top…

(Image from Wonders of Creation and Six Senses Laamu)

One very practical and unglamorous tip that you can take from this blog is the importance of never trusting the lighting in the store in which are purchasing your paint and fabrics – either purchase a sample pot or request a fabric cutting and check that your chosen paint and fabric work in the lighting of your home – it can be hugely shocking how different they actually look in the location… In addition, if you are lucky enough to own a place in the city, in the country or by the sea, make sure you consider the type of lighting that you use as it will have implications on the success of your scheme.

*Marcel Proust

Friday, 17 August 2012

Good evening, Mr Bond…*

What an absolutely amazing two weeks to have been in Great Britain and, if you were really lucky, in London – other than the deeply unsettling, verging on post-apocalyptic, emptiness around tourist hotspots, west end shopping streets and across the entire public transport network (read ‘free seats on trains’), the buzz around the city was infectious and the weather was uncharacteristically amazing. Actually, based on that rather bold opening statement, I am now deeply suspicious that we were in fact transported through space and time to an alternate universe (where London is a lovely place) or, for those of you who remember it first time round with ‘I’ll be back Ar-nie…’, experienced something vaguely resembling the storyline of Total Recall. Anyway, I thought The Olympics were truly outstanding and that we did an absolutely fantastic job of hosting the games (even if it was just an alternate universe or a deeply implanted fictitious memory). Also, following last week’s blog (where I slated her chances of winning), I also wanted to take the opportunity to say a huge congratulations to Jessica Ennis. I was lucky enough to see her on the first night of the heptathlon at the Olympic Stadium and she took it all in her stride (literally and figuratively) – in fact, she was a true inspiration… she dealt with all the pressure of being the poster girl for the London Games and still came away with gold and an absolutely phenomenal performance.

So, having managed to do absolutely no work for the best part of two weeks, either because I was at the events or glued to the TV watching everything from Athletics to the Modern Pentathlon (???), I was absolutely gutted when it all came to an end… in fact, I even shed a tear when the flame was extinguished… and that’s not because I was really, really confused about whether the closing ceremony was absolutely hopeless or the defining work of a mad genius… Anyway, the Olympics (part one) is over and it’s back to the humdrum of everyday existence… well, that’s what I thought… until Davy told me he had booked us a last minute summer holiday to the Maldives. And believe me gentlemen, that’s the sort of earth shattering announcement that gets women everywhere thinking about clothes shopping… So, as the long forgotten cauldron slowly cools, I have been frantically looking for inspiration for my summer ‘water villa on stilts’ wardrobe – whilst looking on the Worldwide Interweb I came across the image below and I just loved the vibrancy of the colours… and, as this wonderful find coincided with thinking about a topic for my blog, I thought I would take the opportunity to share it with you.

From time to time I come back to a design fundamental – concept images. It has been a few months since I last got on my soapbox about them, but given that they are such an important element of the design process I wanted to remind you about them one more time (well, until the next time…). It’s super simple… if you find an image that you love, explore whether you could apply the colour palette to create a space that works in your home. I can guarantee you that if the colours work in the image they will almost certainly be able to provide the necessary inspiration and basis for the design of an interior space in your home…

(Images from Vogue and,uk)

*HRH Queen Elizabeth II

Friday, 3 August 2012

Only an idiot hangs the Union Flag upside down. Shame on you!*

Right then. Where to start… well, the Opening Ceremony was truly awesome (well done Sir Danny Boyle) and, unbelievable as it might seem, we are almost half way through the Games – that said, excitement builds again from today as the athletics commences in the main auditorium later this morning (I hope they have managed to remove the grassy knoll and the smoke stacks). 

Yesterday I went to my very first Olympic event… the beach volleyball at Horseguards Parade (obviously my husband’s choice) – in short, I absolutely loved it. The buzz in the absolutely superb temporary stadium they have created (in what is effectively a litter tray for posh horses) was truly brilliant. Supposedly we were the best supporters they have had thus far – we managed a world beating 26 Mexican waves around the stadium I’ll have you know (but I bet they say that to the supporters at all the sessions and by 11pm last night I am sure it was up to more than 30 drunken Mexican waves…). There is also an amazing vibe in the city, with Olympic volunteers smiling and greeting you all the way from the train stations to the event venues (Davy hated this unnecessary demonstration of enthusiasm and had to be restrained at 7.46am yesterday morning). I have to say the whole thing made me very proud to be British and we are definitely putting on a super games that is showcasing our country and our capital in the best possible light.

After a fairly slow start, momentum has built and there have been a flurry of medals, from Bradley Wiggins in the Time Trial (who should be Knighted along with Danny, if for no other reason than he seems to be a decent bloke, likes Scooters, has great taste in music and unashamedly got drunk on vodka tonics after his victory) to successes in the track cycling (good work Sir Chris, with help from that German bloke who said all the wrong things in the post medal ceremony interview), rowing, canoeing and shooting (to name but a few). I can’t wait to go to the Olympic Stadium later this evening to see Jessica Ennis, our poster girl of the London 2012 Olympics, do her stuff… and inevitably win Silver…

2012 has undoubtedly been a year where as a nation we feel confident saying that we are proud to be British – and given that the Union Jack** has had a spectacular revival as a brand (and distanced itself from imagery associated with football hooliganism and other distasteful groups), I thought I would share a few images of how Union Jack furniture can add s stylish twist to the home…

(Image from

(Image from 
* Dr Who…

** The current design of the Union Flag dates from the union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801. The flag consists of the red cross of Saint George (patron saint of England), edged in white and superimposed on the cross of St Patrick (patron saint of Ireland), which is superimposed on the Saltire of Saint Andrew (patron saint of Scotland). So, begs the question, where’s the Welsh bit? Answers on a postcard please… also, there are competing theories on why it is referred to as the Union Jack… you can Google that on your own time…

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