An Indian Summer with Jennifer’s Paper

Ok, everyone. It’d mid-week, you’re tired, you’re wondering where on earth Friday is and if this week could have gone any slower. And why is it so dark?? What’s that about? Is it October already? I mean… COME ON LONDON!

Well, I’ve got just the cure for you… a Courage & Dash bespoke party suite from Jennifer’s Paper! It’s so beautiful, bright, lively, vibrant… I just can’t stop staring.

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Jennifer Curulli hopped across the pond to our lovely isles, and founded Jennifer’s Paper. She gets a buzz from telling each person’s story through stationery design, and loves details from font to colour to envelope style to pattern. You can tell from this beautiful set she designed!!

When Jen is not busy being featured by Style Me Pretty, she’s working with soon-to-be brides and parents, or designing colourful, tropical soiree suites for Courage & Dash. Aren’t we lucky?? We are so lucky Jen agreed to work with us when I reached out to her. Check it out…

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When Jen and I were discussing this party, we went through different ideas from Portuguese-inspired afternoon lunch, to American BBQ, to girls’ French-inspired brunch. Jen sent over her initial thoughts and an early inspiration sketch, before we narrowed down her ideas. I knew that I wanted something fun and almost frivolous, so Jen took our discussions and put them into a mood board with objects (naturally there were pineapples) and shades (BRIGHT) that would ultimately find their way into this suite. Jen knew that having a cohesive ‘brand’ for the event would be important, so she worked on details from the invitation, to the placecard, to the  menu, and even the little straw flags. LOVE!

Sadly, we don’t have any upcoming weddings or birth announcements or christenings, but if you do, check out Jennifer’s Paper. Jen was absolute dream to work with (this is not a sponsored post!) and so fun and collaborative – not intimidating at all.

For more, visit Jennifer’s Paper at http://jenniferspaper.com/.

 

Images and styling: Jennifer Curulli (Jennifer’s Paper)

Styling Your Home with Vintage

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If you’ve been following the blog for awhile you just might have picked up on my slight vintage/antique obsession. Just a slight one, of course. Not like I run around the country (or continent) hunting down fairs and shops or anything like that…

You can imagine my delight when I discovered Bring It On Home while I was looking for an antique Singer sewing stool. I love the selection of items they have in stock and the way the products have been styled for the website. If I could have done so, I probably would’ve bought the entire store; we don’t want me turning into the hoarder next door yet, do we?

In 2011, founder and owner of Bring it on Home, Amy Page, decided to give up life in the city and turn her passion for vintage furniture into a business. Amy only buys pieces she would love to have too – always a good sign!

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Part of the reason I love old things is that they are so quirky – every object has a story and tells us something about how people lived. My favourite items are old advertising and glassware, shop fittings and random decorative items (e.g. dead stock labels or a travelling candle set). It just makes home that bit more interesting, a bit like a gallery, with things that can spark one’s imagination.

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Here are Amy’s top 5 tips on styling your home with vintage/antique pieces:

1. Mix & Match: To make vintage furniture work in a modern home, you should try to mix old with new. Scandinavian homes have this look nailed – think fresh white walls and black floors paired with pale vintage wooden furniture and pops of colour in the accessories. If you prefer the dark side, then mid-century teak furniture looks amazing against a dark wall.

2. Random knick-knacks: I love to collect curious vintage knick-knacks on my travels. It’s a really great way to add some vintage flair to your home without spending a fortune and a great way to display them is on a bookshelf. If I think of my bookshelf in my home, I have a vintage string puppet, some taxidermy, an antique bible, vintage toys, a vintage camera… I could go on!

3. Re-purpose/Upcycle: I love to up cycle vintage finds and again this can be a cheaper way of adding vintage furniture to your home. Keep an eye out in charity shops or on gumtree for a piece of furniture that has seen better days and give it a new lease of life. Take Grandma’s old chair with it’s brown upholstery covered in cat hair and have it re-upholstered in a modern fabric! My favourite upcycling project was a mid-century sideboard, I spray painted the drawer-fronts in different bright mid-century colours and it looked amazing.

4. Make a statement: You don’t need heaps of vintage furniture to make a statement, just one statement piece will do the trick. For example a grand antique dining table (Courage & Dash: We wish we had space!!), or some amazing pendant lights, anything that draws the eye.

5. Let your walls do the talking: If you already have a happily furnished home but want to add an element of vintage then look to your walls. Try hanging a large vintage map or posters. I personally love the old hanging medical and anatomical charts.

Thank you Amy! By the way, did you manage to spot Batman, Amy’s Boston Terrier? Too cute! Do check out Bring It On Home (don’t tell anyone, but I’m often browsing during the day when I leave the desk to grab some coffee!) – they also have a prop hire service, so if you wanted, theoretically you could basically have everything you want from the shop…

For more, visit http://www.bringitonhome.co.uk/.

 

Images: Amy Page

The Curious Shop: Ink + Thread

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Eeek! We are so excited to share this AMAZING shop we have just discovered. Well, we haven’t just discovered it, per se…. We’ve been following their Instagram profile, and after a while of fan-girling, finally asked to have them on the blog, and here they are: Ink & Thread!

Ink & Thread was opened by Emily Baker in November 2011 in Derby’s Cathedral Quarter. The idea was to have a store that stocked the best of British made things that were both useful and good-looking. To be honest, that does go back to the bones of British products – design with purpose.

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“I’m very proud that we only stock items made in the UK – we have an ever growing range of design items from fantastic, small creative companies,” Emily tells us. Emily has always had a love for interiors and design, which comes through in her store layout and the items she has chosen to stock.

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“I wanted to showcase and support all the fantastic independent makers out there who care about great design, and not just that, they care about how and where their products are made. Every item in the shop has a story.” We love that!

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We absolutely adore the fun and colourful products – the shop has such a lively feel, and it’s pretty clear that Emily has an excellent eye for curating collections.

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For more British-made goodies, visit Ink & Thread at:
No. 28 The Strand, Derby, DE1 1BE | http://shop.inkandthread.co.uk/
(Images: Holly Booth, via Ink & Thread)

60 seconds with the designer: Louise Keane’s Top Tips + Exclusive Sketches!

Louise Keane is our latest interior design crush – not only does she design and style at Amalfi White Living, she also does the most beautiful interiors/home sketches… Louise kindly sketched some exclusively for Courage & Dash, which you will find scattered through this post.

Thankfully, Louise managed to find some time from a busy schedule to chat with us. Ready for some super design tips? Here we go!

1. Open plan or cosy nooks?

What a tough question to start with – can I have both please?! The popularity of open plan is obvious – we all love homes that feel spacious and airy and it’s definitely more suited to the way we tend to live these days. But I think the human instinct to nest definitely comes into the mix when you have a cosy window seat or a smaller, more inviting space to snuggle into. It really all comes down to the space that you have to work with and what works best for it and how you want to live in that space.

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Sketch based on design by Restoration Hardware

2. Vintage or modern? Or both?

Definitely both in this case. (Courage & Dash: You have to choose at some point, Louise!! Haha.) I think the best designs usually happen when there’s an artful mix of styles – it definitely adds character and depth to a space.

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Examples of Louise’s work in Edinburgh (Image: Amalfi White Living)

3. What are some ways to style a rented bedroom if you can’t paint walls, etc.?

I think there are lots of ways to add character and style even if you’re just renting. You can prop mirrors or art up against the wall – this can look great especially if you use larger pieces. And there are now sticky pads available so you can hang art or photos (maybe not heavy mirrors!) on your wall without damaging the surface.

Adding rugs, throws and cushions for colour and texture will always inject your personality and style into a space. If you’re desperate to brighten up plain walls, there are great= ranges of wall decals available now – basically repositionable stickers which can add a touch of fun or whimsy, especially to a child’s room. Finally if you have a boring, white bathroom, there are great shower curtains available that can become a real feature and inject personality and colour.

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4. Are ‘posh’ paints worth it?

As an interior designer, colour is obviously important to me, and I do find that a lot of the ‘posh’ brands offer an amazing range of colours with a subtlety and depth of colour that you might not find in cheaper paints. As to the quality – I’d always ask a good painter / decorator as they work with paint every day and can advise you on the technical side of things with different brands depending on where and how you want to use them.

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5. Most inspirational city?

Easy! Has to be New York for me. I hope that’s not too clichéd an answer but I just find myself filling notebook after notebook with ideas and taking hundreds of inspirational photos when I’m there. I’m always buzzing for weeks after I visit.

6. Power shower or rainforest shower?

Ooh it has to be rainforest. Much more soothing and romantic!

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7. Which is your favourite part of the UK?

Another really tough question… I live in Scotland which is so beautiful but I also have a really special place in my heart for Cornwall. There’s just something about it – emerald coves, wild flowers, ancient stone houses, winding lanes. Another place where I feel truly inspired.

8. How do you turn inspiration into a cohesive design idea?

This is something I learned when I started retraining as an interior designer a few years ago and there is quite a distinct process which really helps to translate inspiration into a workable design idea. The methodology is based around writing a ‘Design Statement’ about what you want to create and designing a ‘Concept Board’ which pulls together visual references that evoke the look and feeling you want in that space. You put these together with a really detailed written analysis of what your client wants – practically and aesthetically – and working through those elements you turn your inspiration into a workable design.

If you’re in the UK I’d really recommend KLC where I trained where you can learn more about this methodology on one of their short courses or their diploma if you’re really serious! I learned a lot when I started retraining as a designer but this was one of the most powerful things that I discovered.

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9. What is an upcoming trend to incorporate into a room?

I’m not a fan of trends per se as I am more interested in producing an interior that’s timeless. I love when I open an old magazine or even see a mid-century design and realise that it still looks as fresh and modern today. That for me is more important than a trend which may look great now but which could look really dated in a few years.

10. Your favourite best kept secret shop?

One of my favourite interior brands is well known in the US but it’s pretty much a best kept secret here in the UK as it doesn’t have any branches here. It’s called Restoration Hardware and I’ve just discovered that one of the people who designs for them – Timothy Oulton – has his own UK website so it’s well worth checking out. His lighting range in particular is stunning.

Thank you so much Louise for spending time with us and for sharing your beautiful sketches!

For more of Louise Keane’s design work and thoughts, visit:

Amalfi White Living
http://amalfiwhiteliving.com/

 

Images: Louise Keane

 

Real Studios: A Sleek, Calming Studio with Lily + Spice Interiors

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It’s been a while since we last brought you a real studio! Today, we are in the studio of Amanda, owner & founder of Lily + Spice Interiors. Amanda is a freelance stylist and wife/blogger/crafter (we love featuring amazing women!). We stumbled upon her Instagram feed and thought we really ought to see more of her living/working space.

Lily + Spice Interiors is an online resource that provides interior decorating services online, at a more affordable budget than hiring a traditional designer/decorator – this also means that no matter where you are in the world, you can consult with Amanda and her team to create a beautiful space of your own. We thought we would pick Amanda’s brains and get some top tips off her for style, managing clutter, and being inspired.

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What inspired the colour scheme of your studio?
I tried to keep with my Lily + Spice colour palette! When we first designed our site we decided on black, white, raspberry and turquoise. So that is what I worked with….of course with pops of silver as that is my go to metallic!

How would you describe your style?
I have always been a big modern and rustic combined lover but have a new found love for more of a Scandinavian style as of late. I really love almost anything!

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How do you piece together your inspiration for decorating?
The simplest most honest way to answer this would be to say that I follow my eye. When I am working on my client’s designs I get into what I describe to my husband as a ‘zone’ and it all just comes together for me somehow.

Tidy as you go along or have a big clean/tidy every now and then?
I don’t like ‘stuff’ so would say that I tidy as I go, usually!!!! I am also very sentimental especially since having children so I might tend to hold onto more than I should these days – eeep! (Courage & Dash: We hear you!!) 

So… where do you keep all the things that inspire you?
Good one! I have albums on my phone and computer full of favorites and I would also have to say that Pinterest is a keeper of a lot of my inspiration as well. I love this organized way of paperless storing, it is so great!

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How do you deal with a styling/decorating/DIY disaster?
Hmmm, good question. I was going to say that I haven’t had one yet so didn’t know how to reply. BUT I have. Recently. I just kept trying and trying again. Finally got there!

What are some tips you have for design-lovers who are currently renting?
Play with your accessories, add fun pops of colours, move things around often and don’t be afraid to ask the owner if you can paint. I find that paint can make or break a space so why not ask?!

Thanks for showing us round, Amanda!

 

Images: Efraser Photo (via Lily + Spice Interiors)

So pretty, you’ll want it all…

It’s Christmas eve! Today is officially the start of the Christmas celebration – as a family, we watch The Snowman, Father Christmas, and A Christmas Carol together, before adding the remaining presents to the pile of gifts under the tree that had been growing steadily over the past week. We also eat more family Christmas cake, play some silly games, and spend plenty of time laughing lots in preparation for more fun and festivity the next day. After all, it’s not every day you get to remember the birth of Christ! What are some of your traditions?

Thinking of Christmas reminds us of the Magi – the wise men of the Orient who brought three gifts to the baby Jesus in his manger – and in turn reminds us of talented gift-makers, Birch & Goldberry. The company, which we first discovered on Design Love Fest, makes limited edition collections of hand painted wrapping paper, colourful soaps, fragrant soy candles, and small greeting+holiday cards. We adore the whimsy, invigorating mix of colours and swirls in their products.BundleExample_o

Birch & Goldberry is Elizabeth Burnham, Hillaree Hamblin & Stephanie Hamblin. They all studied Painting at the University of Houston, where they bonded over shared styles and visions; in Sept. 2013, the triplet launched the company, and have since taken part in pop up shops and markets.

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Image above: Bri Emergy, Design Love Fest

We love that Birch & Goldberry products are a labour of love. As all three founders have creative backgrounds and formal training in fine art, the packaging and design of the collections are well thought out and diligently created, including the rolls and rolls of hand-painted wrapping paper!

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We can’t get enough of the vivid colours and bold pattern in Birch & Goldberry products. To be honest, we’re not sure we’d want to wrap anything in their wrapping paper – would feel far too decadent to do so!

Have a happy Christmas eve; may you have a wonderful time with your loved ones and your festive traditions.

For more Birch & Goldberry goodness, see them at: http://cargocollective.com/birchandgoldberry.

 

Images: Birch & Goldberry (unless otherwise stated)

Light, breezy interiors with Arlene Gibbs

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The Tuscany Project by Arlene Gibbs (images: Mario Flores)

Hello there! I know, it’s been a while! Been busy practising for a music exam and working hard before the end of the year. Now that the exam is over (woohoo!), I am back!

Today we bring you another guest post by the lovely Rossella Di Bidino all the way from Rome, Italy. Rossella kindly took some time out to interview Arlene Gibbs, a decorator and writer, and previously film executive/producer/screenwriter! Curious? Read on…

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Arlene Gibbs’ style is “understated luxury” or, as one of her closest Italian friends describes it, “relaxed chic.” Arlene, a decorator and writer based in Rome, was born in New York City to parents from the Caribbean island of St. Martin. Her parents were very traditional and did not allow her to put posters on her bedroom walls like her American friends. However, she was able to choose the paint color for her room. Her bedroom received a lot of sunlight so she went with a cool, light yellow, a feel which still influences her work today.

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Arlene studied foreign affairs at Syracuse University. While in college she did an internship at Bloomingdales’ headquarters in Manhattan. Upon graduation she was offered a position in their highly competitive Executive Buyer Trainee program where she worked in the Home Furnishings Division.

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Prior to moving to Rome in 2008, Arlene worked in Hollywood for ten years as an executive and producer.

“When I moved to Rome six years ago, I was still working full-time in Hollywood as a screenwriter. After the release of Jumping The Broom, I had to decide if I were going to move back to Los Angeles. I didn’t.

“Instead I did an internship with a prominent Italian interior and furniture designer in Rome and followed up that great experience with an intensive design workshop with interior and textiles designer Kathryn M. Ireland in Los Angeles.”

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“My career change is a return to my roots in a way,” Arlene states. “I love my job because is collaborative, creative and not corporate. It can be emotional and not necessarily logical. There is a strong connection between her former Hollywood career and interior design: “Being a decorator is very similar to working on a film set. Both are visual mediums that tell a story.”

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Her interior design mantra is “let the house breathe”. “I don’t enjoy rooms that are too minimalist or the opposite extreme, overly decorated. I like my spaces to “breathe” and to be rooms that people can actually live in. For those reasons, I collaborate with my clients to create homes that reflect their style and tastes.”

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She gives us some suggestions on how improve our homes: “Even something as small as a throw pillow adds a personal touch. I suggest not buying all your furniture from the same store, whether it’s B&B Italia or IKEA. The room will be too homogenous, without personality. Look at what you already own with fresh eyes. For example, try to put an old table in a different room or paint it with a different colour. That will give it a new life”.

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When Arlene isn’t busy with new decorating projects, she is trying to learn the dolce far niente (‘the sweetness of doing nothing’). Not bad for such a multi-talented, busy woman!

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For more of Arlene Gibbs’ style, visit her at http://www.arlenegibbsdecor.com/.

Visit Rossella’s blog at http://machetiseimangiato.com/.

Images: Mario Flores via Arlene Gibbs