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

main studio

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.

deskinspiration board

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!

sheepskin rug

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!

you got thisboard

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)


Light, breezy interiors with Arlene Gibbs

living room
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…


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.


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.


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.”


“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.”


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.”


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”.


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!

outside pool


For more of Arlene Gibbs’ style, visit her at

Visit Rossella’s blog at

Images: Mario Flores via Arlene Gibbs

Maker Thursday: Colourful, hand-printed fabrics inspired by global travel…

We bring you another maker/designer from across the Atlantic to love: Graymarket, the creation of Hallie Gray. Graymarket is the answer to all your linen (bedding, bath, and table) needs, made from beautiful fabrics designed by Hallie. The textiles feature colours and patterns that echo traditions from her travels all over the world.


After completing degrees in International Relations and Textile Design, Hallie Gray found herself with a love for simple, scaled-back design and an immense respect for the textile traditions of artisans around the world she’d encountered on her travels. She became intrigued with the idea of combining these two elements to create fresh, modern textiles and accessories, and luckily she managed to find some workshops that were up for the collaboration.


And thus was born Graymarket Design, through this network of many skilled, loving craftspeople.

Graymarket features individual pieces created through direct collaboration with the workshops – the textiles are designed in California (like your iDevice!), and the textiles are produced in small batches by the artisans. Block-printers, weavers and embroiderers… all traditional disciplines and all features in Graymarket textiles…

CashmereScarves Header3

“I have a deep respect and appreciation for traditional textile techniques, and feel very committed to helping create a market that can help support and preserve these practices,” Hallie says. “I also prefer the aesthetics of fabrics that have been hand printed or woven- I find a lot beauty in imperfections and irregularities, which are inherent in any textile made with human hands.”


When she’s not designing and making, Hallie spends her time outside as much as possible. “I love being outside, and recharge by hiking, rock climbing and doing yoga,” she says. Her environment is pretty energising. Up in West Berkeley, CA, she is surrounded by factories and warehouses, intermingled with small wineries, studios and an active railroad.

“I find it a really authentic and inspiring environment where it’s easy to be productive and creative. I started Graymarket Design about a year ago, and it’s been an exhilarating (and humbling) journey so far!”


“Getting the chance to work with and learn from different artisans and create a space where different textile traditions come together has been really amazing,” Hallie shares.

Chevron1 Pillowcases Placemats table setting

Look at those colours! I am adoring the mix of print and pattern, as well as the wide range of tones. Something for every season, and every occasion. Want some of those herringbone patterned, pink napkins above…

For more of Hallie’s creative work, visit

Images: Kara Brodgesell

Best kept papercutting secret… Part I

Papercutting has got to be one of the best forms of art out there. What a clever thing, to create such intricate patterns and images with just a sheet of paper and knife!

Stephanie Hosmer hard at work creating papercutting art on a large scale + on acrylic (image: Miss Papercut)

We’re taking a look at two of our favourite papercutting artists, over two posts. We  were SO PLEASED to discover the both of them, because while we love Rob Ryan, we were desperate to find new artists, given that his work seems to be everywhere now (not a bad thing)!

First up, Miss Papercut (aka Stephanie Hosmer), whom we found at the Makegood Festival recently, after walking by her gorgeous Londoner quote on acrylic. We just had to take a photo of it!

london papercut
Image: Courage & Dash

That would look so cool as a feature piece on your wall, no? We’ve got a couple of papercut artwork on our walls – one from a Chinese artist (China is the art orginated from), and one from Mr Rob.

Here are some of our favourite pieces from Miss Papercut…


Stephanie has been freelance illustrator for about 8 years now after finishing a BA Hons illustration degree at the University of Brighton, and is now based in a little village in Kent. She lives in a converted chapel with a little mezzanine studio, which you can visit by appointment if you would like to talk through a commission!


We love Stephanie’s work – so delicate, modern, fun. Great if you want to hang new and unique art on your walls!

More next time… (and a clever DIY tutorial from Miss Papercut!)

Visit Miss Papercut at


Images: Stephanie Hosmer (Miss Papercut)

60 seconds with… Abigail Ahern


What is with the weather?? I definitely just about felt comfortable in woolly tights today… Is it because it’s Wimbledon??

We won’t go into any commentary about the sports going on, because it will only end in tears. Too much emotion involved! Needless to say, we are definitely enjoying the start of the summer sporting season, which is only serving to distract us from the blog! Bad things.


Today we are launching another series to go with the Curious Shop series we already run. It’s a 60 second consultation with a designer or stylist – sounds cool? It is! We’ve lined up some exciting people for you, so look out for the posts. We can’t promise it will be the most life-changing consultation you will ever have with a designer/stylist, because, well… we’ve come up with the questions and you know we are a bit silly! Please, please, please do send us your questions if you have any, and we will try to include them in our next 60 seconds with…


Abi colour 1

We are so privileged to have Abigail Ahern joining us today. Most of you will know that Abigail is a famous author, TV presenter, business owner, designer… yes, Abigail Ahern is proof that you can do it all (if you are as talented and endearing as she is!). Cited as a “style spotter extraordinaire” by The Times newspaper, Abigail is well-known for her interior design work, including a 42,000 sq ft Grand Spa for the Ritz Carlton in Palm Beach, Florida. We know!


Abigail also has a store in London, an interiors emporium you could easily lose yourself in. When she isn’t busy doing all that, she also runs and teaches at an international design school, globe-hopping across NYC, Melbourne, Sydney, and London. We are so grateful Abigail kindly took the time to hang out with us, but we only got 60 seconds in her busy schedule, so ready, steady, go!


What do you think of open plan style?

I like open plan rooms as long as they are cosy and snug and not bare and minimal.

Which do you prefer, vintage or modern?

Impossible to choose, but if I really had to, probably vintage would slightly win out.


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

If you’re renting, you can totally lift rooms out of the park with accessories – think about pieces that are tactile and make you want to touch them. Cushions, rugs, candles, art –  I call them the 5 minute face lifts of the decorating world. If you can paint your walls, that’s even better – I would obviously recommend going dark but most importantly  choose colours that you love!

Are ‘posh’ paints worth it?

‘Posh paints’ are so worth it. For the simple reasons they are mostly made from pigments of the earth – rock, clay, chalk – so they immediately have more depth and resonance. You don’t get the same effect with cheaper paints, as they are all made from synthetics.


Most inspirational city?


Power shower or rainforest shower?

Power shower! I need to kick start the day.


Which is your favourite part of the UK?


What is the best alternative to wallpaper (if you want the detail/pattern but not the hassle of hanging the paper/removing it, or if you can’t because you rent)?

My sister hangs wallpaper from bulldog clips and one can also paper big panels of MDF in some of the coolest patterns, so I would go that route. It’s not that hassle-y to hang paper these days and if you want that effect of pattern and texture nothing quite beats it!

What is one upcoming trend?

I totally and utterly ignore trends. In interiors especially, trends are a dangerous territory – as soon as something is in, it’s out. I follow my instinct and only my instinct. It takes confidence, but the more you do it, the more confident you get.

Your favourite best kept secret shop?

Santa Maria Novella in Redchurch Street! It sells the most amazing potpourri, incense, and candles on the planet.

Abi colour 2


Thanks so much for your time!

Visit Abigail Ahern at:

137 Upper Street

Islington, London N1 1QP

Read her books:

Decorating with Style

A Girl’s Guide to Decorating (both by Quadrille Publishing Ltd)


All images courtesy of Abigail Ahern

Midsummer Day in Finland with Jonna Saarinen

We fell in love with Jonna’s designs the moment we came across them. Think Marimekko goodness, only brand new and upcoming. Exciting. Then we realised one of our Curious Shops, L O I S, stocked her products, and we knew we were onto a winner. 20140621-172404-62644744.jpg
Jonna is a Finnish textile designer and Central Saint Martins College & Royal College of Art graduate. Her work combines influences from Nordic nature and memories of times past, brought together in a variety of items developed by hand drawing, mark making and screen printing. Since her graduation from the Royal College in the summer 2011, Jonna has launched her self titled homeware label, which is the reason we found her!
Since it’s Midsummer (Juhannus) today, we thought it would be perfect to bring you some quick table styling ideas from Jonna using her gorgeous tableware. Definitely set up your table outside if you can! 20140621-103751-38271054.jpg The Juhannus night is known for being very light across Finland – up in Lapland the sun does not go down at all. People decorate their homes with lots of wild flowers and young tree branches, especially birch tree, which can be used in the sauna. 20140621-103715-38235203.jpg20140621-103714-38234783.jpg Traditionally in Finland, the festival is a celebration of light; it is also a national holiday, and is the only day in the Finnish calendar when all the Finnish flags are up through the night until 9pm following day. 20140621-103750-38270819.jpg20140621-103714-38234609.jpg20140621-103715-38235665.jpg Juhannus involves plenty of rituals, drinking (this was meant to bring you good luck with you crops for the following year!!), eating, going to the sauna and dancing. 20140621-103714-38234990.jpg “We also burn big bon fires on beaches across the country, they symbolise success, bring you luck and scare evil spirits.,” Jonna says. 20140621-103715-38235419.jpg “Some of the most common rituals are about finding yourself your future partner,” she explains. “A very common one is to pick 7 wild flowers and put them under your pillow on Juhannus night, and your future lover will appear in your dream!” 20140621-103750-38270625.jpg “Most of the magic spells you have to do naked, like running naked across the meadow in the middle of Juhannus night in order to see you future lover,” Jonna adds. “Very Finnish!!” she exclaims. We think it all sounds splendid. Jonna Saarinen   Images by Jonna Saarinen

Exquisite Wallpapers + Fabrics from Neisha Crosland

We’ve been thinking about wallpaper a lot recently – ways of decorating with small offcuts, brightening up bookshelves and wardrobes… So I was incredibly excited when I stumbled across Neisha Crosland, a fabric and wallpaper designer, whose work was most recently in Baz Luhrmann’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ (if you haven’t seen the film, do see it! It had mixed reviews but Mr Lurhmann’s twist on the classic was invigorating. It’s also a great, great novel. We love).

Neisha Crosland Rosa, Strata Stripe, Flamenco Fabrics & D.B.Stripe Rug - Residential

Neisha trained in textiles at Camberwell School of Art where she developed her drawing style. She specialised in print at the Royal College of Art in London, and it was there that she experimented with print technique.


Weave Cushions - Mixture 3Pepper Trail

Neisha is a woman of many talents: she has sold her designs to Marc Jacobs and Lacroix, designed a collection of rugs in collaboration with the Rug Company, a range of tiles with De Ferranti, vinyl flooring with Harvey Maria, a collection of hand embroidered fabrics with Chelsea Textiles, and hand crafted stationery through Harris and Jones. What a list!

Neisha Joakim 2011 # 1 High Res

“I suppose I am a bit like a biologist who collects specimens,” Neisha says.

“I collect ideas and motifs and classify them in to designs. I love the way nature organises itself.”

Centipede Stripe - Angel Pink Low

India Mahdavi Monte Carlo Beach Hotel 2

Caterpillar Leaf Black & Cream Hotel Cortiina Munich 1Parterre

Neisha add: “I love the way that colour dictates a mood, and how repeat conducts the rhythm in a pattern. I love relocating motifs and putting them into a new context.”

Parterre Saffron Chair with Cushion Mix and Cocteau Length LowNeisha_Annabel's031006_011Pot Pourri - Curry Yellow Low

Just look at Neisha’s bold, vibrant patterns and energetic colours. Although a small property might do better with plenty of white (or pale) walls and reflective surfaces, a feature wall or corner with these luscious prints could really lift the feel of the place and inject some life to the space. You could even try decorating part of your wall with her fabric.

Gentleman's Cap - Meadow Yellow LowPollen - Emerald LowDomino

Neisha and her team have been having an excitingly busy time colour trialling their new wallpaper collection, so there will be plenty more of this beautiful stuff coming your way soon! Her designs aren’t for the faint of heart, but for a real pop and an easy way of introducing yourself to pattern and colour (especially if you are a little scared of vivid shades!), strips of wallpaper or colourful fabrics in the shape of cushions, used on upholstery, or even framed and hung, work like magic.

Pollen, Rosa and ParterreJacobs TreeLantern

Thanks for sharing your work and inspiration with us, Neisha! We can’t wait for your new collection.

Images courtesy of Neisha Crosland.