Real Studios: Lobster and Swan

Welcome to August, it’s finally here! Properly summer, things are starting to slow down… (although there’s another hectic week to get through first (i.e. work) before all that…)

We are so excited to take you on a little tour of the gorgeous work space of Jeska Hearne, creative mind behind Lobster & Swan, stylist, entrepreneur, wife, cat-owner, curator for a collection on Joss & Main… the list goes on! Lobster & Swan is on our Blog Loves list (we literally check in every day), and today’s studio visit will probably explain why… Take a look!


Lobster & Swan is one of the UK’s original design blogs, and a culmination of Jeska’s long-cultivated love for interior styling and aged items – items full of story and history (Jeska cites her great grandmother’s old make up, and a moth eaten tutu as some of her dearest belongings, growing up). Jeska studied Graphic Design and Design Communication, which is where her love for aesthetics started to take root.


“The layout was decided by us needing a huge shared desk and placing it against the wall that gets the most light in a chilly north facing room,” Jeska shared, when asked about the inspiration for the room. “We also wanted as much storage as possible for all my craft materials.

“Some days I wish I was just into knitting, then I would only need a basket for my wool and needles!” Ah, we definitely empathise!


The walls of the room were originally going to have wallpaper, but Jeska found it difficult deciding on just one pattern. “We have plain white walls, but these are best for the amount of inspirational paraphernalia we have hanging about!” she explains. “The black painted floor was chosen to mark out a work zone from the rest of the house.”



There were so many things in Jeska’s creative space that we adored, so we had to ask which her favourite items were. Jeska’s favourite pieces are the vintage wooden trolley, a bargain at only £25 from a charity shop and her striking hot pink lamp. “(The trolley) gets wheeled about all the time with my printer or typewriter on top when I need an extra work surface. My other favourite in the room is the hot pink silk shade on the heron table lamp, it is a total over the top extravagance but makes me smile every time turn around and see it!”


Her secret resource is digging around in charity and junk shops, Jeska shares. But, she says, it is getting harder to find true bargains these days. That’s surely a testament to the tastes of the times, where the ‘make do and mend’, upcycling and vintiquing culture has taken off.


“Be brave,” advises Jeska, when asked about her best decorating tip. “Make a decision on some inspiring wallpaper if you really love pattern, don’t be a baby like me,” she says.

“I promise to choose some soon – watch this space!”


We could stay all day in that colourful, light-filled and interesting-objects-filled room! Thanks for having us, Jeska!

For more of Jeska’s crafty, styling musings, and beautiful images, visit

Images: Jeska Hearne


Meet Mleko: Eye-candy for your walls!

Hello and happy Monday! Don’t worry if you have the Monday blues – before you know it, Friday will be here! We are so glad the weather has calmed down and is decidedly cooler, although we were in Brighton just the other day (as was the whole of London) and adored the sunshine.

Today we bring you one of our favourite print artists, Mleko. If you are wondering what to adorn your walls with, or are still trying to figure out how to add colour to your home this summer, look no further…

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Mleko is the brainchild of London-based artist, Ania Newland, whose bright and quirky personality is no doubt infused in her work. The  colour and sense of fun is incredibly energetic – we love the jewel tones and humour of the cat person print below!

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One thing we love about Mleko is the mix of grown up contemporary and playful kawaii (Japanese for cute, the only way we can think to describe some of the prints). Find different prints for different rooms – monochrome geometrics for the study or hallway, and funky, neon-colours shapes and characters for the bedrooms or kitchen.

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Look at this dog below on the skateboard? Can just feel the Monday blues melting away (and really want to eat some fairy sticks or fizzy sherbert now…) to be replaced by the feel of glowing sunshine and a spring in my step (or a skateboard under my feet).

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Mleko prints are designed and produced by Ania in her little, creative studio based in West London. Using museum grade papers and archival, fade resistant inks, she creates giclée images that are boldly coloured, rich in texture and tones. If well taken care off, they can last about 75 years, Mleko says!

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Ahhh, so fun. Aren’t they delicious to look at? We just also love how Ania has styled the prints with the background and accessories. You can have Mleko prints on your wall, or leaning against the wall, propped on a table or shelf. Instant trendiness.

We can’t wait to get our hands on a couple of them! They most certainly put a grin on our faces. Which is your favourite? Where do you think you might display your Mleko print?

For more Mleko goodness, visit


Images: Ania Newland (Mleko)

Real Studios: Bright+Cheery Home Studio – Rock Covers Paper

If you are lucky enough to be working from home, you need your workspace to inspire and energise you. Sometimes that’s tough, especially when it’s not your own home and you can’t exactly refit the entire room! You can, however, put wall hangings up, fill your workspace with your favourite items, choose a nice corner of the room for your desk, etc. We hope our real homes/real studios series has been inspiring you, and we’d love for you to send us photos of your spaces, either via email ( or via instagram (@courageanddash), Twittter (@couragedash), or Facebook (

Today, we are visiting the lovely Amanda Barks from paper design house Rock Covers Paper. It has to be said, we were hooked by the logo (we know, so superficial!!!), and after swinging by the website, loved what we saw! Rock Covers Paper is fairly up and coming, and we are excited to see what else Amanda brings us in future… Meanwhile, her cheery studio awaits!


In a quirky little cottage, where the walls and floors aren’t straight, lies Amanda’s bright, light studio. Her room had to be both practical, as well as conducive for creative work (she designs bespoke stationery). Amanda is very lucky to have a window she can work by! The lightness of the room is added to by the white walls and furniture, creating a sense of openness.


“I picked this space because I wanted to work near natural light,” Amanda explains. “It’s got quite a cute view of the village too!” she adds.

When working in her studio, Amanda needs to feel at ease and able to be inspired. She cleverly has her Macbook on a lazy susan so she can move it around easily. “I always have to work out how I feel comfortable when working and the layout of the room just happens naturally – I move about a lot,” says Amanda. “I also always have my sharpies close to hand!”


When we asked Amanda about using colours in her room, she said “I’m obsessed with colour but like quite neutral walls but that’s at the moment, so I like to add my colour with objects I’m in love with – pastel colours mints and peach.”


“I’m not sure what inspires me I think it’s geometric patterns Scandinavian style which is where I like to pick colours from…” she muses.


Filling your space with your favourite items can make a room feel instantly personalised and lived in. Our favourite design tip is that if you don’t like something, it really shouldn’t be there, no matter how trendy! Decorating isn’t like wearing high heels – you don’t have to tolerate it for a good look!

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We asked Amanda to pick some of her favourite items from the room. After some thought, she declared that there were quite a few things that she loved, but her top choices were:

1) d&ad pencil – so much hard work went into getting that!

2) Heidi Kenney doughnut  – he is so soft! he kind of goes everywhere with me in fact he just came and spent 7 months in Canada with me!

3) Carve a stamp kit by yellow owl workshop

4) I love making Pom pom’s and make garlands for everywhere!

5) My reworked invite by Sally as she couldn’t give me a plain one.

6) My moleskin note books that I can only write in with one style of pen I know I’m strange!

7) The Tintin poster is awesome, I love it! My boyfriend/Owen is a massive tintin fan so I kind of twisted his arm to put it up in my studio space.

8) I love love love the blanket on my chair it was made by Owens grandma.

9) And of course my Macs!


Delightful. Just the kind of studio you could be happy to work in, even on a weekend! So jealous about the sweet village (we overlook the railway arches, zzzz…)!

For more of Amanda’s creative work, do visit Rock Covers Paper at


Images: Amanda Barks

Real Homes: Visit Jennifer’s elegant living space…

So excited!!! The wonderful Jennifer Ashley of gorgeous lifestyle blog, Pretty Little Details, is showing us round her home today!

We met Jennifer on the blogging course we wrote about earlier in the year. Since then, her blog has been a source of inspiration for recipes (um, sweet & spicy maple pecans? Yes??), style (Sequins!!! Parties!!!), and lots more. Her photos are stunning – light and airy and full of life. We are hooked. You will be too.

Off we go now to Jennifer’s home!


The overall feel of my house is modern and glamorous. It took a while to convince my husband when we were renovating to include some of the more girly accents but we both agreed on a soft grey colour pallet with natural textures and touches of aqua. My favourite room is probably my office, because it’s so bright and girly!

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Office: Instead of buying a desk for my office, I opted to find an oversized dining table. I love that it gives me tons of space for whatever project I am working on, whether it’s blogging, sewing, scrapbooking… whatever!

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Bedroom: I think white sheets are romantic and I love these textured ones from West Elm. Because the bedroom is a space I share with my husband, we kept things pretty neutral with a few subtle feminine touches.

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Living room: I love throw pillows! They are such an easy way to update a room, and can add so much fun and colour. Right now, I’m loving these aqua blue quatrefoil print pillows (by Colin & Justin via Homesense) mixed with the soft mongolian lamb pillows (from West Elm).

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One of my favourite styling tricks is adding height and dimension to decor piece by placing them on top of stacked books.

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OMG. We love. There is so much in here to be inspired by – the pairing of deep colours and cheery pastels, the collection of belongings so artfully displayed, the use of pale, neutral interiors to expand the space… We love the large crafts table and the marble top kitchen surface. And those shoes??? Thank you so much, Jennifer, what a delight!

For more of Jennifer Ashley’s style, visit


Images: Jennifer Ashley

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…


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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.

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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