Katie Alice, a Tableware Designer to watch.

Our love and collection of beautiful tea sets and dinnerware grows bigger with every pretty new range we see. From vintage to new, the variety is endless and with new ranges being produced and made into the most beautiful designs. Mix and match your old vintage china with new ones, allowing for a pretty eclectic mix. Katie Alice is a designer to watch, she has already designed ten collections for tabletop company Creative Tops, and her ranges just grow from strength the strength.  I got to ask Katie a few questions about her and her lovely collections, Katie Alice for Creative Tops.

Katie Alice and her designs for Creative Tops

Katie Alice and her designs for Creative Tops

Q: How did you get into designing ceramic ware?
A: I was asked by tabletop company Creative Tops if I would like to curate a new range for them and have it sit under my name – they wanted to create a new lifestyle brand based on a real person so there could be a face behind the name and they liked the look and style of my country cottage at the time with all it’s vintage additions.

Q: What inspires you?
A: I love going abroad for inspiration, which I suppose is odd as my designs are very English style. But I always find it’s when I’m away from everything that I come up with ideas. I think, as I tend to pick up inspiration from visiting vintage fairs and antiques shops throughout the year, with this at the back of my mind, being away gives me the opportunity to think about them as wall as getting inspiration from different colour palettes or shapes and substrates from different countries.

Katie Alice Cupcake Couture

Katie Alice Cupcake Couture

Q:  Which designers do you admire and why?
A: I always find this such a difficult question to answer – there are so many great designers out there across so many different areas of design whether it’s surface pattern or product design, and sometimes I see the most wonderful things in tiny little shops all over the place that I can never remember. But to pick one that really stands out  to me I think it would have to be Astier de Villatte (previously on Livingcolourstyle). Ever since I first saw them about 5 or 6 years ago I’ve been smitten in love with the overall look of them as a brand and I am especially in love with the shapes they come up with. Unfortunately I’m still saving up for my first piece…

Q:Where would you love to see your pretty pieces sold or use?
A: I always much prefer seeing my pieces sold in small independent shops, being a small business owner myself I like to support other small businesses and I worry about how much harder retail has become for the smaller shops and the effect of this on the high street. I love seeing people mixing my pieces in with vintage bits at home – I recently saw a lovely blog post someone had done where they had made a vintage plate display on their wall and had also popped a Katie Alice plate in with it – it looked so pretty and sat so well with the vintage plates!

Katie Alice Country Flower Cookware

Katie Alice Country Flower Cookware

Q: So far, what has been you career highlight or proudest moment?
A: Last year I became the best selling brand for Creative Tops which is pretty amazing considering some of the other licenses they have.

Q: Which ceramic ranges (yours or other) do you use in your own home?
A: I have a real mix and match of stuff at home. I have quite a lot of my English Garden range – when I moved into my new house last year it was winter and I always miss the summer such so I brought home the most summery ceramics I have! I also have some lovely vintage green and white dinnerware and then some rustic plain white ceramics from the white company.

English Garden range by Katie Alice for Creative Tops

English Garden range by Katie Alice for Creative Tops

Q: From your own designs, what is your favourite piece and why?
A: I really love the Bird Song range which launched earlier in the year and I think my favourite is the little yellow palace mug with the two birds on it. I love the vintage illustration of the two birds and the colour palette is so pretty. Also the mug is just the perfect size for me as I hardly ever finish a full cup of tea (a habit I’ve inherited from my mum) and this is a nice small dainty one so I almost make it to the bottom!

Creative Tops Bird Song by Katie Alice

Bird Song by Katie Alice for Creative Tops

Birdsong by Katie Alice for Creative Tops

Bird Song by Katie Alice for Creative Tops

Q: What is next, what should we look out for trend wise?
A: I’m not usually one to follow trends to precisely – I tend to just like what I like but I think it would be nice to see vintage done in a different way – maybe with a much more modern twist. I’m also really into black or grey backgrounds with florals and think this looks great in kitchen ceramics and home wares so it would be nice to see more of this coming through.

Katie Alice Highland Fling 2

Katie Alice Highland Fling 2

Q:  If you were not a ceramics designer, what would you be in your next life?
A: Stepping completely away from the design world … I’ve always thought it must be amazing to be a midwife –  I can’t imagine that there are many more jobs that are quite as rewarding.

Q: What is your favourite colour?
A: I usually say grey is my favourite but then get told off because “it’s a shade not a colour”! So after that it would definitely be that vintage turquoise/minty green. Every now and then you see an old front door painted in it that looks as though it hasn’t been painted in years and years and the paints all cracked and starting to chip off – I think it looks so beautiful.

Photos supplied by Creative Tops and Katie Alice.

Feature by Theoda Solms Iles.

 

 

The Only Black Rose – Friday Flowers

Dead or alive, flowers will look great and make a statement everywhere. ‘Dead’, I hear you say, yes, dead or severely wilted. Photographer and designer, MrGlen have created the most striking fine art photographic prints, using dead and wilted roses to create beautiful moments of blooms past their so-called best. TheOnlyBlackRose opens your eyes by looking at flowers in a different light, next time I will certainly reconsider my wilted blooms before I throw them out. It just goes to show that all stages of a flowers life can still inspire and be a thing of great beauty. I would love to have a collection of these pictures, maybe 3 standing in a row on a shelf or 4 prints hanging in a square against a dark wall (see exclusive reader offer discount, at bottom of this post).

So it was with great pleasure and with interest that I interviewed the very talented Photographer, MrGlen, to get a better insight into his work on TheOnlyBlackRose and to find out more about himself.

Pink Rose by TheOnlyBlackRose on Etsy

Pink Rose picture by TheOnlyBlackRose on Etsy

Q: Tell me a bit about yourself. 
A: I’m a designer, a photographer and a frustrated painter who recently turned 40 (8 years ago).

 

Q: How did you come up with the idea to photograph wilting or dead flowers?
A: I think they look beautiful when they’ve just turned, and they wrinkle slightly, the colours change and fade, and the fullness, the blousey-ness, has gone from them. So, I thought I’d try to shoot that. No gimmicks or tricks. I just place them onto a dark background in the window light and try to take a portrait of them.

 

Purple Rose picture by TheOnlyBlackRose on Etsy

Deep Magenta Rose picture by TheOnlyBlackRose on Etsy

Q: ‘The Only Black Rose’, I love the name, how did that come about?
A: When I opened the Etsy shop they make you pick a name before you can upload anything. I panicked a bit and just wrote that name in the box. I don’t really know where it came from.

 

Q: Where do you imagine your flower images will be hung or displayed? (what room or interior you think, or anywhere els for that matter)
A: Anywhere you’d have a display of flowers I suppose. I love them in frames just resting against a wall or on a shelf.

 

Q: Which of these are your favourite and why? 
A: I really love the yellow one. It’s from my garden and was planted for a reason that brings happy memories.

 

Yellow Rose picture by TheOnlyBlackRose on Etsy

Yellow Rose picture by TheOnlyBlackRose on Etsy

Q: What other flowers is next on your hit-list?
A: I’ve shot quite a few Peonies before, they’ll be going in the shop very soon. They kind of look like old botanical illustrations, quite beautiful. And I have the idea of shooting some Roses that are partially frozen.

 

Q: What do you usually photograph?
A: I’m a portrait photographer. I love faces and people and people’s stories. It’s a nice process. Meeting someone, then trying to capture something of them in a photograph. Magical.

 

Q: When did you get your first camera and what did you spend your film on, presuming it was film in those days? 
A: I took a lot of photographs when I was at art college, but can’t really remember what of. Spent a lot of time in the darkroom. But, only seriously started shooting 8 years ago, grew up a bit and stopped hiding behind things.

 

White Peach Yellow Rose picture by TheOnlyBlackRose on Etsy

White Peach Yellow Rose picture by TheOnlyBlackRose on Etsy

Q: What do you do in your day job?
A: I do lots of colouring-in for a very popular women’s magazine!

 

Q: What will you be in your next life? 
A: Gorgeous!

 

Q: Do you have a favourite colour.
A: The blue Matisse used on the “blue nudes” series. It’s perfect.

 

Q: What is your favourite Flower and what do you usually buy or pick for your wife?
A: It’s the Golden Celebrations Roses. They are stunning and my favourite. But just google “Monkey Orchid” to see how mad nature can be!

 

Mixed Coloured Roses picture by TheOnlyBlackRose on Etsy

Mixed Coloured Roses picture by TheOnlyBlackRose on Etsy

The talented MrGlen

The talented MrGlen

Incidentally, this ‘dark floral’ look is a key trend for the upcoming Autumn/Winter 14 season (but more of that later in the season).

 

Reader Offer:     Make use of this opportunity now with an exclusively 10% discount voucher when buying your fabulous fine art print now from The Only Black Rose via the Etsy.com shop now. The voucher code is LIVINGCOLOURSTYLE10

Images by MrGlen

Feature by Theoda Solms Iles

Ian Sanderson does New Vintage

If you are searching for an unusual fabric or wallpaper with a colourful and unique look to it, then search no further.  These vintage Rustica and French seed packet designs by Newbury based fabric house Ian Sanderson, is the coolest thing to happen in fabrics for a while. The longer you stare at these designs, the more detail you notice. They seem to evoke a feeling of nostalgia and have a certain feel good factor about them. Use them in upholstery for a statement piece like an armchair or footstool. I particularly love how they combined the Rustica picture design with the plain print Paper Journal design, seen on the armchair below.

Armchair in 'Rustica' fabric by Ian Sanderson

Armchair in ‘Rustica’ fabric by Ian Sanderson

The ‘Rustica’ design originates from using archive material in the form of front cover images and text from the French country magazine called ‘Rustica’, and transforming it into fascinating designs suitable for interior fabrics and wallpaper. The cushion collection, below, seems to work exceptionally well and are perfect if you just want to add a little touch of this trend.

Cushions made from Ian Sanderson, 'Rustica'

Cushions made from ‘Rustica’ fabric by Ian Sanderson

Go even further with this vibe and make a focal feature with the ‘Seed Packets’ fabric, a complimentary design incorporating loads of vintage seed packet covers, making this one colourful and lively. Both looks will create an unique piece however you use them and become a real talking point. They also remind me so much of the Mr Cuthbert’s Gardening Guide booklets from the 50’s, one of my favourite collections I own (see my previous post).

'Seed Packet' wallaper and fabric by Ian Sanderson

‘Seed Packet’ wallpaper and fabric by Ian Sanderson

This family run business, Ian Sanderson,  has been designing and producing fabrics and trimmings since 1962. Husband and wife team, Julian (son of Ian) and Helen (Head designer) create beautiful, high quality collections of woven and printed textiles in over a hundred designs and in an array of colourways. They are always mindfully preserving the traditions and quality while maintaining the standards that was set when this business started, the kind of attention that one can only find in a family business.

Julian & Helen with 'Rustica' and 'Seed Packet' designs

Julian & Helen with ‘Seed Packet’ and ‘Rustica’ designs

Ian Sanderson Rustica fabric, £70 /m, Paper Journal fabric, £65 /m, Rustica and Seed packet wallpaper, £200 / roll, 70cm (w) x 10m (l), available from Iansanderson.co.uk 

Images supplied by Iansanderson.co.uk

Feature by Theoda Solms Iles

 

Desk Inspiration – Friday Flowers

I am looking at the most beautiful picture on my desk right now, not one of a fabulous home or a gorgeous interior, but I am looking at a small bunch of peonies that brightens my workspace and creating the prettiest picture around. The reason they look so striking is because they are housed in the most adorable and unique vase I own. This cutie was a gift from my good friend Emma, she knows my taste so well and as she bought it from Anthopologie, it is safe to say that she could hardly go wrong.

Pink Peonies in Purply Pansy vase from Anthropologie

Pink Peonies in purple Pansy vase from Anthropologie

Yesterday I did a little detour past Anthopologie just to look at this collection of flower vases again. I have eyed them up on so many occasions previously, every time unable to decide what my favourite is. Now I think it is time I start my little collection before they sell out. Just look at the collection, impossible to choose just one. Here is a shot of them in store.

Anthopologie Flower Vases

Anthopologie Flower Vases

Photos and Styling by Theoda Solms Iles

Quirky gone Stylish, Graham & Green

Graham & Green has always been one of my favourite stores. I came across them shortly after arriving from South Africa. I just happen to pass their fabulous shop in Primrose Hill on my way to visit a friend, and I have since followed them and admired their gorgeous interior style. Now, some 15 years later and they are still top of my personal shopping list for places to go if in need of an unique, yet stylish piece of furniture to make a statement. I love how all their items feel like individual one-off’s, the kind of thing that just does not look like a mass-produced item. I think they achieve that look by maintaining the involvement of owners, Jamie and Louise Graham, so closely. Now, 40 years later and their brand is still going very strong and is hugely popular by all interior lovers and everyone with an eye for the quirky and beautiful.

Graham & Green have just opened their latest store, more of a furniture showroom destination shop. The whole store is very different from the others as it is in a smallish warehouse style but laid out with clear room-sets, showing the shopper different looks and also providing so many inspiring ideas.

Below are a few of the key items and looks I loved when I recently visited the new North Acton Graham & Green store.

Bicycle rug

Bicycle Rug

This Bicycle rug, £460, made me smile. It’s a lovely talking point and will sit brilliantly within an Industrial Style room.

 

Birdcage Chandeliers & Brass Diamond Pendant

Birdcage Chandeliers & Brass Diamond Pendant

On numerous occasions have I tried to feature this fabulous Birdcage Chandelier, from £375, but every time my Editor at the time, never included them – Well here it is, loud and proud on my blog! I have seen them for the first time years ago, but I still have not tired of them and would love to have one in my home. I also like the way it hangs with the Brass Diamond Pendants, from £195, making for a fabulous bold lighting show.

 

Elsa Wingback & Footstool, Tretchikoff Lampshade,

Elsa Wingback & Footstool, Tretchikoff Lampshade,

Quirky has just gone stylish. The Elsa Wingback, from £1020 and footstool, from £318.75, is totally updated in this deep teal velvet. I also love the Tretchikoff Lampshade, £99, adding a bit of fun and reminding us not to take interiors too seriously at times. But the star buy has to be the Victoriana inspired animal picture wall units, The Chatterton Cabinet, £445, the Lady C hidden bookshelf, £775, totally unique pieces, a cabinet or shelving unit hidden behind a quirky picture.

 

Bath Button back two-seater with coloured buttons agains Cole & Son wallpaper

Bath Button back two-seater with coloured buttons against Blue Plates wallpaper

This is the perfect sofa for you if you are after a ‘neutral’ but would still like to show a bit of your individual style and love for colour. This cute Bath Button back two-seater, £1200, sports colourful buttons that modernise the sofa and adding a contemporary twist to a classic style. Not forgetting the fab Blue Plates wallpaper against the charcoal backing, what a dramatic look.

 

Odin collection & Flambard sofa

Odin collection & Flambard sofa

The Odin collection, from £650 for the armchair, is a gorgeous range true to an authentic mid-century design, it almost had me fooled as a real original.  The addition of the deep buttoned Flambard sofa, £1572, and the cool books and panelling wallpaper, this room becomes a realistic interpretation of a room that can be created in your own home.

 

Matise collection, Oak bed & drawer unit

Matisse collection, Oak bed & drawer unit, Maxi mother of pearl side table

Graham & Green is also excellent for gorgeous bedroom pieces. The Matisse bed, £1356, and the stylish Matisse drawer unit, £995, is a range that will work in most settings and is a stylish classic that will never date. Here it is updated with the Maxi Mother of Pearl side table, £450, that adds an exotic twist to the otherwise French style furniture. Their collection of Mother of Pearl and also their Bone Inlay ranges, is second to none.

Next time you are in need for new furniture or home accessories, Graham & Green should definitely be on your hit-list, it has always been on mine.

 

All photos by Theoda Solms Iles

Do you have a special flower? – Friday Flowers

I think every flower lover has a few favourite flowers. You might think you have one favourite, but the more you ponder this idea, you could discover you have a whole list of flowers, like the romantic rose, or the blousy peony, maybe the exotic orchid or the simplicity of a daisy appeals to you. So that made me realise that all us flower lovers have a few favourites because of what they mean to us. It might not necessarily be the most beautiful one in the bouquet, but because of a special story or a personal connection that a certain flower evokes, that has created a soft spot in our hearts.

The butterfly looking 'Barnsley' Lavetera x clementii

The butterfly looking ‘Barnsley’ Lavetera x clementii

So earlier in the week there is a knock on the door and when I opened, I was greeted with an array of pink flowers disguising the little delivery man, the 4 year old son of my neighbour and friend.  He said; “my mom are sending these” and when I looked over two doors down, there she was on her doorstep waving at me and shouting over, “I’ve got so many in the garden they are growing so tall and so fast”. And indeed they are, I can see (and admire) them all the way from my garden. She later told me that seeing them bloom in her garden again this year, reminded her about a year ago when her partner and father to her two beautiful children proposed to her. She then took a photo of her hand, sporting her glittering engagement ring, using these fabulous pink flowers as a backdrop.  This photo she then send to her beloved mother all the way in New Zealand to share her happy news and show off her gorgeous engagement ring. Sadly her mom passed away in January, and so I guess these pink beauties became special to her for all sorts of reasons.  I would imagine that she will now always think of the happy moments every time they bloom. I didn’t know the name of them and she also told me they are called ‘Barnsley Lavatera x clementii and that her mother-in-law planted and introduced them to her. What a display they make in her garden.

To me the Barnsley Lavatera looks like hundreds of pink butterflies. Some with their wings closed and some ready to take off. So I was especially keen to put them in this fabulous white china vase adorned with very delicate butterflies. Please get in touch and tell me what certain flowers mean to you.

A Special Moment

A very Special Moment

 

Photos and Styling by Theoda Solms Iles 

Photo of engagement ring and Lavetera by Avril McDonald

My Little Girl’s Bedroom

My baby is turning three years old soon and she has recently moved into her lovely big room. This move happened so quickly, I decided to go freelance and so needed an office to work from home, so it made sense for her to leave the small room (or box room, as how we refer to it here in England) and move into our spare bedroom. I was quite emotional about this move as it meant that her gorgeous nursery, that I absolutely adored, now will no longer be and instead becomes my office. It also signals the end of babyhood, we are entering into the world of all things girly and heaven forbid, pink and glittery. Luckily she was very excited about the move and I managed not to incorporate too many pink things as I think that might have pushed me over the edge.

Childrens Wardrobe, cot-bed, shelving unit

Children’s Wardrobe, cot-bed, shelving unit

I didn’t want to spend a lot of money so we decided that the ‘moss-meets-sage’ carpet must stay and I will have to make it work. To give the room some character and tie in this tricky green carpet, I knew I wanted to wallpaper at least one wall, the main wall behind her bed. I got straight onto the Wallpaper Direct website and started searching wallpaper styles that included greens and blues. I narrowed my favourites down to about 9 designs of which 7 was stripes, 1 floral and 1 bird design. This bird design wallpaper, Chripy from Blendworth, I have used in a photoshoot for Woman & Home magazine earlier in the year. I loved it then and have always remembered it, thinking what a great design and colour combination it is. And in this case it also matched the carpet perfectly and to our relieve, my ‘little client’ liked it too. She just kept asking what each birds’ name is and there are only so many bird names I could come up with.

Bird holding canopy & 'Chirpy' wallpaper by Blendworth

Bird holding canopy & ‘Chirpy’ wallpaper by Blendworth

One of my favourite features from her nursery was this white wooden bird holding up the sheer canopy. Peter, my husband, made it for the nursery before she was born and luckily I could still incorporate the bird plus the canopy in her new room. The sheer canopy net is originally from Ikea. They don’t sell this net anymore but do still do a similar canopy. I put Peter to work again and he did a great job wallpapering the wall and scored huge points with both us girls giving him advice from a distance.  All of this commotion, moving rooms around and wallpapering and painting was done over one weekend, phew!

Hensvik Wardrobe by Ikea

Hensvik Wardrobe by Ikea

We already had the shelving unit and wardrobe, both from Ikea the Hensvik range. Her cot we bought on eBay and once she outgrew the cot, it converted into a bed by dropping both slatted sides. In her nursery she was already sleeping on the bed version. By moving it into the new bedroom and because of the position and the canopy I wanted to fit centrally over the bed, I decided to replace one of the slatted side panels, as this makes the bed look more like a daybed and complimented the canopy and the look much better. We all know that the amount of washing a small child generates is incredible, so having an easy washing basket is key. My solution is this large pretty pink woven tote bag, good-looking enough to disguise laundry in and easily carried up and down the stairs to and from the washing line.

My little girl's bedroom; Blankets, 'Chirpy' Wallpaper, Cot-bed with sheer canopy.

My little girl’s bedroom; Blankets, ‘Chirpy’ Wallpaper, Cot-bed with sheer canopy.

I am a firm believer you can never have too many textiles, including thows, blanket, cushions and fabrics (by the meter). And so it is no surprise that my little girl has a dreamy collection of blankets and throws, all of them with a special story, given or made by someone close to us.

[From top to bottom:] A delicate very thin pink knitted baby blanket with a pretty scalloped edge, given to her when she was born by her ‘English Aunty’ Pat. The small floral cotton blanket I used in her pram when she was small, now it has become the blanket she plays with and cover her soft toys with. The pale striped one I bought years ago before children was even on the horizon. The soft wooly blue one, mohair and wool made in South Africa, she got one Christmas from my brother. The lovely cream, pale green and red gingham quilt my boss and friend Alison made for her as I left work on maternity leave. The fabulous knitted bright stripes with pom-poms one, my dear mom knitted in South Africa and brought over with them when they came to visit and meet her for the first time shortly after she was born. Then the floral quilt my very good friend Emma MT made, it also has her name appliquéd on one side, Emma added the bobble trim for my benefit, she knows I love a bobble trim, this is the quilt she sleeps under most nights.

Special blankets & throws

Special blankets & throws

All girls need a place for their accessories, the amount of hair bands and clips we go through is unbelievable. We try to keep them in a pretty jewellery box or in this lovely white and gold ceramic bowl my nice gave her as a present. The pendant shade is just a very simple one we had up in the room before. To dress it up and make it a bit more interesting, I just stuck some pretty lengths of ribbon to the inside of the shade. This now makes for a lovely pendant with movement and colour and it gives a touch of bo-ho flair to the room.

Bedroom Accessories & Light Fitting

Bedroom Accessories & Light Fitting

Sometimes it’s a good idea to forget the rules, how things should be arranged in a room. Rather think about how your space would be used and in this case, who would be using it. That is why I hung this lovely vintage mirror at a ‘little girls hight’ and not standard adult hight. Now it is perfect for her, ideal to twirl around in those princess dresses and trying on tiaras. Pride of place is also her personalised painting done by one of my very talented sisters. This painting tells a very personal story to my little girl, all incorporating happy thoughts and uplifting ideas.  And of course it’s very visual and colourful, ideal for a little person.

Girly Corner & Personalised Oil Painting

Girly Corner & Personalised Oil Painting

No room is complete without fresh flowers. This combination I showed on last weeks Friday Flowers – A Happy Bunch, they looked perfect in her room on a simple white table against a backdrop of white slatted blinds and sheer curtains in Reverie voiles by Harlequin.

Flowers for the Bedroom

Flowers for the Bedroom

Special Dahlias, flowers so close to my heart…

Dahlia's close to my heart

Dahlias close to my heart

 

All photos and styling by Theoda Solms Iles

 

A Happy Bunch – Friday Flowers

Bright colours make me feel so happy inside and I think that is just one of the many reasons I love flowers so much. I would imagine this is the same for a lot of flower lovers. This simple arrangement includes only three types of flowers, all picked from my small garden. The deep blue-purple of the delphinium sets of the pinks in the dahlia and the hydrangea beautifully and arranged in the green vintage glass vase, one of my favourite vases, they look spectacular. Now these floral beauties take pride of place in my little girls room. (See more of her room in my next post. Subscribe now, not to miss out.)

Delphiniums, Dahlias & Hydrangea in vintage green glass vase

Delphiniums, Dahlias & Hydrangea in vintage green glass vase

 

Deep Purple Delphinium

Deep Purple Delphinium

 

Pink Lace Hydrangea

Pink Lace Hydrangea

 

Pink Dahlia

Pink Dahlia

 

Photography & Styling, Theoda Solms Iles

PS: I don’t use filters or photoshop for these photos, they are all true to their colours and look.