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UK

HOME + GARDEN HOME decor

Living in the Dark: Black, Grey and Brown Rooms

rugged chalet bedroom

It seems that black is back. So many black or charcoal grey wall caught my eye in UK home decor magazines over the last two months that it can not be a coincidence. Frankly, I felt in love with this amalgame of rustic, dramatic and character pieces.

If you examine them carefully, you could spot that these rooms share common design elements. For one thing, they all play on several shades of black. Browns, tans and beiges have a supporting role. Finally, they all mix lustre finishes with matte finishes. This is for the theory. Let’s have a look at successful black rooms.

Family Living Room in a Dutch Country House

Black panelling, whether it is applied vertically or horizontally, is popular. It looks right in this inviting country house. Have you noticed the double-sided sofa?

black and tan living room
photo credits: Renée Frinking for Living etc, December 2012

Rugged Chalet

This impressive one in the kind four-storey ski chalet in Val d’Isère is built from 100-year-old wood and reclaimed stone. But when you look at it, you don’t imagine that it is a new construction. The ski chalet is decorated in a simple, monochromatic scheme. The result is far from boring. It has a soothing effect that is comforting. And it must be gorgeous against the snow landscape.

rugged chalet dining room
photo credits: Wichmann + Bendtsen for Elle Decoration UK, December 2012

The white sofa brightens and brings contrast to the living room  but it doesn’t break the color palette.

rugged chalet kitchen and living room

rugged chalet bedroom

You can see that a lot of efforts have been put to decorate this house in a cohesive way. This is a case where uniformity was a good call.

Dining Room with Japanese Panelling

This dining room represents a mix of Scandinavian style with modern Japanese design. When we visited Japan in 2010, the Scandinavian influence was clear on furniture. I adored it then, and I still do.

japanese style panelling dining room
photo credits: House and Home, January 2013

Glamour Meets Industrial in a Dark Apartment

The next rooms are from the apartment of a guy. The floor plan has been reinvented to fit the owner’s lifestyle. The living room is impressive and make honour to the arched windows.

glamourous black living room
photo credits: Helenio Barbetta/Photofoyer for Elle Decoration UK, December 2012 

industrial chic black bedroom

As you can see there are many ways to invite the blacks, greys and browns into your decor. After seeing that it can be applied to any style, what do you think about these rooms? More importantly, would you dare to live in black?

HOME + GARDEN HOME decor

USA Bookshelf by Andrei Saltykov

america bookshelf by andrei saltykov

The bookshelf in the shape of America that Russian-born architect Andrei Saltykov designed for his home in south London, UK, certainly qualifies as conversation piece. There is nothing tacky about this design. Because of the many states, his USA bookshelf is both beautiful and practical to store lots of books.

His American bookshelf makes an impression high on a wall of his open dining/living room. As a bonus, you could hold geography trivia game starting with the 600 tiny Christmas tree lights that represent the nation’s major cities. I love it!

+ photo credits: Will Pryce for Grand Designs magazine, January 2013

FAMILY GAMES and Toys

Qubis Haus: from a coffee table to a dollhouse

qubis haus used a coffee table

qubis haus from dollhouse to coffee table
Qubis Haus by Amy Whitworth £400 (approx. $650 USD as we speak) at Southbank Centre.

One thing about young kid toys is that they tend to overtake your living room. Parents often wonder where to hide them when their kids doesn’t play with them.  Amy Whitworth addresses this issue with her Qubis Haus.  She brought dual purpose furniture to a new height by designing a coffee table that transforms into a dollhouse with the simple addition of sliding panels made from wood and perspex. As a bonus, you or your kids can update the space layout by changing where the sliding panels go. Amy Whitworth won Boost 2012, a mentoring and development program organized by Southbank Centre’s design shop, with that design.

magnetic oak furniture set for qubis haus
Qubis Bedroom Set £35 by Amy Whitworth Design.

Since no dollhouse would be complete without furniture, Amy Whitworth created three furniture sets: a bedroom set, a living room set and a dining room set. Made of magnetic oak wood, you assemble the furniture using the wooden blocks in each set. Fabric accessories further decorate the rooms. For example, the dining room set contains 1 table, 4 chairs, 1 side board, 1 lamp, 3 sets of table legs, 1 plant pot, spare blocks for creating, 1 table cloth, 1 rug, and 1 pouf. I like the fact that it promotes creativity.

qubis haus used a coffee table

Qubis Haus seems pricey if you look at it from a dollhouse viewpoint. You can take comfort in the idea that it is more than a dollhouse and that it has a second life after your kids stopped playing with a dollhouse. Personally, I prefer the coffee table with one or two acrylic sheets. If it was in my living room, I would use the shelves to display way more than miniature mid-century icon furniture.

COOKING tools FOOD + DRINK

On my Wish List: The Sticks Silicone Moulds by Lekue

make your own bread sticks

make your own bread sticks
photo: Lekue World page on Facebook

Sticks is a silicone mould that let you greet your guests this holiday season with 30 delicious, crunchy homemade bread sticks. Cooking time is 15 minutes on the oven, or 5 minutes on the microwave. I see it as a perfect bakeware tool for the hostess.

What I like about the Lekue Sticks mold is that the stocks are the right size to be served as appetizers.

lekue sticks
sourcing: Lekue Sticks

They are not just for appetizers. You can serve bread sticks, instead of crackers, with a warm soup at lunch time or you can include them in your dessert table. On Lekue Web site, I found two basic savoury bread stick recipes  (parmesan and orange sticks, black olive sticks) and three basic sweet bread stick recipes (spice sticks, cacao sticks, citrus sticks).

bread sticks with a soup for lunch

I already own the Decomax. Since I really want them, I ask a local shop to investigate if they could order them for me. I have my doubts since Sticks is a new product that seems to be available only the European site. Fingers crossed!

CAKES + desserts ENTERTAINING

Duo Colour Icing Kits

two tone cake icing with Lakeland Duo Colour Icing Kit

two tone cake icing with Lakeland Duo Colour Icing Kit
photo: Duo Colour Icing Kit £4.99 at Lakeland

Decorating your cakes and cupcakes with two tone icing is made easy with this kit. Double pastry bags are attached to a specially designed coupler to deliver a control flow of two tone icing. The set comes with 6 nozzles. When you are selecting your flavours, simply remember that both icings should have the same consistency. At first, I advice that you fill the bag by alternating between the two sides to get a feel of how much icing can go into each compartment.

reusable double pastry bag set
photo: Reusable double pastry bag set $14 USD at Bakedeco.com

This would be a great cake decorating tool to have around Halloween and Christmas. Since the Lakeland Duo Colour Icing Kit is only available in UK, I  found an option in the United States. You will only need to add more piping tips to the double pastry bag set at Kerekes Bakery & Restaurant Equipment in Brooklyn, which also operates bakedeco.com. Their set only comes with a star pastry tube.

HOME + GARDEN OUTDOOR space

Orla Kiely Garden Collection for Wild & Wolf

orla kiely garden collection

orla kiely garden collection

I wish that I could give or receive the Orla Kiely for Wild & Wolf for Mother’s Day. I am particularly fond of the Orla Kiely Flask; it would be great for picnics.

The signature pattern plant pots are available in small (orange), medium (grey) and large (green). A hand trowel and a garden fork complete the collection.

SOURCING:
Orla Kiely Flask £19.95
+ Orla Kiely Hand Trowel £19.95
+ Orla Kiely Plant Pot from £14.95 to £24.95

 

FOOD + DRINK TABLEWARE

Breakfast Train Express

breakfast express train fine china tableware

breakfast express train fine china tableware

Add a whimsical touch to your breakfast with these fine bona china carriages with birch wheels. Thanks to hidden magnets linking the carriages, the entire train can be wheeled along. Kids and adults can be entertained while waiting for their bread to toast. The eggcup, toast rack and salt and pepper holder are sold separately.

I first spot when Design Milk featured the Breakfast Express last year after it was exhibited at Pulse London. Since then, it is now in production and available on the Web site of her creator, Reiko Kaneko.

boat basket

You can keep your fresh fruits, a ready-to-serve loaf of bread or French pastries on her Boat basket with natural rope. Reiko Kaneko was inspired by a Viking ship when she designed that tableware piece.

SOURCING:
+ Breakfast Express, Eggcup by Reiko Kaneko £19.95
+ Breakfast Express, Toast Rack £19.95
+ Breakfast Express, Salt and Pepper Cellar £19.95
+ Boat Bread Basket by Reiko Kaneko £119.00

DESIGN and style LIVING

Textile Field Installation by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec

Textile Field installation

Textile Field installation

The Bouroullec brothers have designed an art installation that democratizes a visit to the museum. For the London Design Festival, the Victoria & Albert Museum invited them to intervene in any space we wanted within the Museum. Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec decided to create a huge textile platform on which you can sit or lay down in any way you want. The idea is to bring comfort and to not feel intimidated by the art pieces displayed at the museum.

Textile Field installation by ronan and erwan bouroullec

Made in collaboration with Kvadrat, Textile Field is an installation 30 meters long and 8 meters wide which takes over 240m sq of the floor of the famous Raphael Cartoons Gallery. Their design would translate well in a cosy couch for a home theater room or become a mat for playroom.

Textile Field installation at Victoria & Albert Museum

The installation will be on show during the London Design Festival, from September 15th to September 25th 2011.

Victoria & Albert Museum
Cromwell Road
London SW7 2RL
Opening hours: daily from 10am to 17.45pm and on Friday from 10am to 22.00pm

SOURCING:
+ Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec

HOME + GARDEN HOME office

Shifty Desk / Hallway Stand by Daniel Schofield

shifty desk with its secret drawer

shifty desk with its secret drawer

The smaller dwellings that are typical of urban living calls for smart design ideas. Daniel Schofield, a newly graduated furniture designer and maker from United Kingdom, shows that he understands that need with his Shifty Desk. His desk/stand would make a great catch-all unit in an entryway. Or use it to furnish an office corner in the living room or the kitchen. It seems large enough to put your laptop.

shifty desk by daniel schofield design

The Shifty desk is tailored for a narrow interior. Its most impressive feature is certainly storage. Daniel Schofield maximizes the storage space while creating a main, secret compartment. That’s clever!

SOURCING:
Shifty Desk by Daniel Schofield Design
+  via MoCo Loco

BABY products FAMILY

I love my Ze Super Zeros

ze super zeros :: zebu the zebra plush toy

ze super zeros :: zebu the zebra plush toy

Our friend Nathalie of the Foodies Emporium blog gave us one of the most adorable plush toys at our baby shower. From the Ze Super Zeros collection, she selected Zubu the Zebra as the perfect toy for our son-to-be. A cool detail is the logo on its cape. It reads SZ and we will name our son Zack. My husband noticed that it can stand for Super Zack. We like that!

Each super zero has a mini power and a related challenge that teaches kids to embrace what makes them unique and find their inner super zero. Zebu the Zebra is a super good at hiding, using his stripes as ze camouflage! But, he is always getting lost, but his spotted cape helps his zero friends find him. These plush toys are suitable for newborns.

You can buy your own Ze Super Zeros plush toy at Itsi Bitsi in Montreal. While you are there, indulge in one of their delicious cupcakes.

One Last Thing

colors collection bento box

And if you are looking for cute bento boxes, read Nathalie’s round-up on the best bento lunch boxes available in Montreal.

SOURCING:
+ USA: Ze Super Zeros Zebu The Zebra Plush Toy $24.99 USD at Amazon.com [affiliate link]

COOKING tools FOOD + DRINK

Three Kitchen Gadgets by Joseph Joseph

joseph joseph pie kitchen timer

rocker garlic crusher by joseph joseph

My kitchen cabinets are full of cooking gadgets. I am intrigued by the design of these three cooking tools by Joseph Joseph. And they will make an affordable gift the next time you are invited to dinner at a friend’s house.

Rocker Garlic Crusher

Rocker, a uniquely shaped stainless-steel garlic crusher. I need to purchase a new one since my old garlic crusher broke a couple months ago. I feel that this one will be more resistant. A unique feature is that the garlic pieces are held in the shallow bowl, allowing them to be spooned or scraped easily into a pan. Since Rocker is made of stainless steel, you can rub your hands on it when you rinse it to remove the garlic smell on your hands. If you do not have one, simply rub your hands on the side or bottom of your stainless steel kitchen sink.

Pie Kitchen Timer

joseph joseph pie kitchen timer

Designed by English brothers Adrian and Jeremy Wright of WrightDesign, the Pie Kitchen Timer won in 2011 the Design Plus award and the Gift of the Year. They were a Design Plus 2010 winner for their Y-Grinder. The Pie Kitchen Timer will hit the stores soon. The gray Pie Kitchen Timer would be gorgeous on my new quartz kitchen counter top. I will keep that one in mind.

Catcher Citrus Reamer

joseph Joseph Catcher Citrus Reamer

The unique feature of this citrus reamer is that it catches the seeds as you press the juice. It is available in gray or in a new color, green. I prefer the green version.

SOURCING:
USA
+ Joseph Joseph Rocker, Garlic Crusher $15 USD
+ Joseph Joseph Catcher, Citrus Reamer $7.99 USD

Canada
+ Joseph Joseph Rocker, Garlic Crusher $11.84 CAD
+ Joseph Joseph Catcher, Citrus Reamer $7.50 CAD

UK
+ Joseph Joseph Garlic Crusher Rocker £16
+ Joseph Joseph Catcher, Citrus Reamer with pip-catching cup £8