Real Studios: Inspiration from Holly Booth Photography’s quirky studio

Most of you probably already know the wonderful Holly Booth – one part stylist, one part photographer, one part quite lovely and talented. If you are a small creative business you need to get Holly on speed dial!


Holly is a commercial photographer, who pretty much specialises in product shots for businesses. Her style is distinctive, which was what led us to want to see her studio. Holly started her photography business in 2010, and has since been featured in various magazines, including Mollie Makes.


Beautiful Derby is the setting for the studio, and is where Holly lives, with her fiancé, Pete, their French bulldog boy, Remi and a tiny, mischievous housecat called Juno. She’s a self-professed fan of documentaries, exploring antique shops in search of treasure (we do too!) and “pretty much anything to do with David Bowie.” Haha! Doesn’t she sound delightful?

We have been kindly allowed to snoop around Holly Booth Photography’s studio, and we really liked spotting quirky items (like the Japanese lucky cat!) that show off Holly’s style and vintage love – inspiring interiors with a dose of fun. Enjoy!

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Thanks for having us!

For more Holly Booth Photography inspiration and information about services, visit

Images: Holly Booth


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!

DSC_9202work images together

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

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