More design classics I want in my life!

A bit of design inspiration for the weekend: sometimes it’s a good idea to go to the really expensive, out-of-reach shops to get an idea of what you like, don’t like and ideas for your own home. This will help you figure out what is worth saving up for and what you could easily find elsewhere for cheaper.

Matt Carr Rolly  retro coffee table

I’ve hankered after this Rolly coffee table, deigned by Matt Carr, for a long time. It’s on sale on eBay at half the retail price (click on picture for link).

Original BTC table lamp

I’ve had to admit defeat with this Original BTC lamp: I can not justify spending nearly £400. Instead I’ve bought a copy from John Lewis for £45.

Liberty silk rug

Dreamy. That’s all.

Picquot ware kettle

This Picquotware kettle is next on my present list. Love the contrast between the stainless steel and beautiful sycamore handle.

Heals Mistral sofa

A timeless sofa from Heal’s.

Penguin Donkey

How sweet is this? It’s called a Penguin Donkey. I want it bad! CLick on the picture to take you through to Objects of Use, which is such a nice online shop.

B&W speakers

Those of you that know me well, know that I do not stop complaining about our HUGE TV and speakers. I HATE them. On a recent visit to a friend’s house I saw these B&W speakers that I think I could live with. I think.

Hans J. Wegner Wishbone chair

Believe me when I tell you that this Hans J. Wegner wishbone chair is seriously comfortable.

What are you currently hankering after?


The Wapping Project

The Wapping Project is one of my favourite places. We discovered it a couple of years ago on a walk down the River Thames. I love exploring Wapping and Rotherhithe as the streets are lined with converted warehouses and factories that are now beautifully restored apartments (so jealous!). When we came across this building it caught my attention immediately as it is so imposing. There’s a lovely garden with chairs growing on trees and a very sweet greenhouse that is a community bookshop and meeting house. As we walked inside I was rendered speechless. The space is enormous and the interior architecture is stunning: exposed brick, utilitarian tiles, vast hooks dangling from the ceiling, concrete floors, lead windows. It’s a space that I dream about owning and renovating into a home. The combination of soaring ceilings and abandoned machinery with iconic modernist furniture would inspire anyone. The space has now been converted into a restaurant and art gallery. In the evenings, the machinery is covered in candles and it is really rather magical.

So, before you have a look for yourselves, a quick history lesson – do you know that I’m a History teacher? Oh, yes. The Wapping Project was a hydraulic pump house. A network of water pipes used to run underneath the ground across London (marked in red on the map below). Wapping pump house would pump water through these pipes to power a vast range of things, including the lift at Selfridges. Good fact.

Now, have a look for yourself…

The Wapping Project industrial factory style architecture

The Wapping Project factory industrial architecture

The building has retained its ceiling height throughout with no additional internal walls so the space is immense.

The Wapping Project factory industrial architecture

The sleek, modern Vitra furniture contrasts with the old industrial building (I’ve got no idea who those weirdos with their thumbs up are…).

The Wapping Project factory industrial architecture

The pump house machinery still stands proud, albeit functionless.

The Wapping Project factory industrial architecture

The Wapping Project factory industrial architecture

The Wapping Project green house with deck chairs

In the gardens lies a little bookshop greenhouse.

The Wapping Project art installation

There are also art installations in the garden, which grab your attention as you walk by.

The Wapping Project art installation

The Wapping Project green house

Inside the bookshop greenhouse.

Crates used as shelves

The Wapping Project factory industrial architecture



Christian jackson prints

When I first came across these Christian Jackson prints I got very over excited. They are both unique and affordable, nostalgic and contemporary. The minimalist style is in no way sterile because Jackson has used a beautiful palette of subdued colours. If you haven’t seen them yet, I hope you like them too…

Christian Jackson print

Christian Jackson print

Christian Jackson print

Christian Jackson print

Christian Jackson print

Christian Jackson print

Christian Jackson print

Christian Jackson prints

Christian Jackson print

Christian Jackson print

Christian Jackson Princess and the Pea print

My lovely sister bought me ‘The Princess and the Pea’ print and got it framed in a beautiful bespoke frame. It was my favourite story as a child – just loved the romance of it all!

These prints are quite difficult to get hold of. I had to get mine from America through Image Kind. Prices start at $21 for a small print to $45 for a large print. Check out Christian Jackson’s other work on his website Square Inch Design.

Which is your favourite?


Bargain hunt

If we all lived in a land where Eames chairs and Conran sofas grew on trees, I have no doubt we would be able to make our homes look good. However, in reality, very few of us have the money to spend on expensive furniture. Even those that do, do not necessarily spend it well; I often find the people who spend the most on their homes end up with the least character as they don’t have to think as carefully about what is going into their home.

Farah, and her husband Laurie and son Isa, have recently moved into their dream Victorian terrace in south-west London. They are slowly renovating the house, one room at a time, so these pictures do not show the finished article. However, what I do want to show you is Farah’s innate ability to find a bargain. In fact, every time I see her she gives me a quick run-down of her latest eBay/antique fair/charity shop buys. She will never, ever buy anything new or at full market price yet she still manages to create a home full of personality and style.  I asked her to chat us through some of her bargains and tips for furnishing a house without having to spend all your life savings…

vintage retro ercol furniture

vintage retro ercol furniture

“When I was pregnant I was looking for a nursing chair; one that could be used later as well. I bought this Ercol chair from eBay and the nest of Ercol pebble tables from a furniture fair at Brockwell park. I bargained hard! They were in really good condition, which is hard to find on eBay: I had been looking for a year. They are now dented thanks to Isa and his wooden toys. Aesthetically pleasing toys ruin furniture. In fact, children ruin furniture but luckily, the cute chops is worth it.”

vintage retro robin day furniture

“Always get involved when relatives and friends are having clear outs. My coffee table and rocket lamp are both from Laurie’s aunt’s loft and I’ve seen the lamps in Spitalfields for £150. Mine was totally free! This pleases me A LOT.  Our sofa and armchair are designed by Robin Day from Habitat. Laurie and I decided it’s best to buy furniture that lasts and you’ll keep forever so in the long run it’s an investment.  Habitat do a 20% off sale every year so if you have your eye on something wait for that. That’s what we did. On big purchases like this you end up saving loads.”

vintage retro ercol pebble furniture

vintage kitchen crockery

“So many of my vintage kitchen finds are from charity shops. I will pick up single plates for 50p and put them together to form a mis-matched collection. The pink sugar bowl was a French flea market find for €5. My sister’s neighbour was having a house clearance and I gave her £10 for the yellow pot. I will even haggle in John Lewis and Habitat: I got the silver teapot from John Lewis for £15, and it retails at £40. If something is on sale, always ask for more off.”

vintage kitchen crockery on open shelving

“I’m always on the look-out in charity shops: I bought the vintage jelly moulds for £5. The cafe tin was another French flea market find for €5.”

vintage kitchen storage

“We got the T.G. Green sugar pot from Laurie’s Nana as she had lots of lovely Cornishware. We always go to vintage shops and I picked up the T.G. Green utensils holder from Northcote Road. Car boot sales are another good place to get bargains. We bought the LeCreuset salt seller from TKMax for £6.”

vintage kitchen crockery

vintage kitchen storage

“You can pick up single bone-handled knives very cheaply from car boot sales but they look really good on display. We got ours from Laurie’s Nana.”

vintage kitchen storage on open shelving

“The enamel flour tin was another hand-me-down from Laurie’s Nana and we keep rice in it.”

Iron bedstead in attic loft room

“Friends were clearing out their house, as they were renovating, so we bought pieces of furniture from them like the chaise longue. We also bought the Habitat bed frame from eBay, which was far cheaper than buying it new. We saw it in the shop and then came home and searched it out on eBay. It’s a really good idea to go to nice furniture shops, get an idea of what you like, and then try and search it out cheaper elsewhere.”

vintage mirrors

“I have collected these mirrors over time from relatives or charity shops and car boot sales and I never spend more than £10 on them.”

chaise longue in attic loft room

“We hunted in every fireplace shop in South West London. Turns out the best and cheapest place was a 3 minute walk from our house (Focal Point- Eardly Road, Streatham Common). It looks like an unassuming shop from the front but an amazing reclamation yard is hidden out back. The owner will come to your house first and look at the space to advise you as to what fits and he’ll show you what type of fireplace would have been there originally.”

Iron bedstead and vintage mirrors in attic loft room

Vintage kantha quilt

“The Kantha quilt on our bed is made from old shalvar kameezes sewn together in Pakistan and I’ve seen the same sort of thing in Liberty for £300! If you do go on holiday, buy homewares which you know to be much more expensive in the UK.”

Vintage antique dresser

Nursery with vintage furniture

“I didn’t want to buy a brand new nursery ‘set’. The children’s 1940’s wardrobe was free from a friend clearing their house and the drawers are from the British Heart foundation furniture shop. I keep Isa’s toys in hampers from charity shops.”

vinyl oil cloth on top of furniture

“Update antique furniture for children with additions like this Cath Kidston oilcloth rather than buying a brand new piece of furniture.”

Hamper full of toys

“My sister cut this Miffy picture out of a magazine and framed it and gave it to me when Isa was born.”

Framed Cavallini wrapping paper

“I bought this Alphabet print wrapping paper from Liberty for £3 and framed it in a £1 charity shop frame (I think you can get similar from Ikea).”

Vintage childrens toys

“I always display books and toys as they look so nice. I tend to buy new soft toys but you can get lots of second hand wooden toys from charity shops and just wash them thoroughly. Farah charity shops in Southfields, Balham, Clapham and Earlsfield are great. I have been collecting old Ladybird books. They make nice coasters and there are some great pictures to frame. Search your parent’s loft for your old baby books and toys to see if you can re-use them for your own child.”

Childs ercol chair

Now, this mini Ercol chair was a present from me to Isa. An eBay buy (although I won’t reveal the price as it was a present). I’m sure if Farah had bought it she would have got it a lot cheaper!

These are some of Farah’s tips for furnishing a home whilst watching the pennies:

1) Save where you can so that you can splurge on things like fireplaces and sofas.

2) Buy furniture that you will enjoy forever. Laurie says “we can’t afford to buy twice”.

3) It’s better to buy something lovely that is second-hand rather than something that is ordinary first-hand.

4) Everything should have function and form e.g. store dummies and bonjella in a vintage tea cup or jelly mould.

5) We spend our lives in antique and vintage shops: get an idea and then try to find it cheaper elsewhere.


I can’t wait to come back when the house is finished! Thanks, Farah x




Behind the scenes at Out There Interiors

Jenny, and her partner Mark, are the force behind Out There Interiorsa very successful furniture company. They set the company up from scratch and it continues to grow each year. I wanted to get an insight into starting a business and what goes into sourcing furniture (I wish I could do that for a living!). Jenny explains all:

“There were two reasons for wanting my own business. The first was that five years ago I was trying to make it as an actress, and I couldn’t cope with the mindless work I had to do to make ends meet in between auditions and acting roles. I used to work in Harrods’ cosmetics department and would spend the excruciatingly long days scribbling down business ideas in the hope of escaping the misery. The second reason is that I’ve always hated having a boss. Regardless of how pleasant my superior,   I really detest having to answer to someone. Since Out There Interiors I answer only to myself, although I’m a massive slave driver so it doesn’t exactly play to my favour.”

Out there interiors retro furniture

Mid-century console table ‘Laina’

“I launched Out There Interiors completely by accident.  Whilst at Harrods I set up a small giftware company and was invited to attend a trade show by one of my suppliers. Whilst wandering around the NEC I stumbled across a mirrored chest of drawers I’d recently bought for my bedroom.   Realising there was money to be made I opened an account with the company and bought five.  The rest is history.”

Hanging factory lamp ‘Mavra’

“Purchasing for Out There Interiors is without question the best bit of the job.  I love discovering covetable home decor and filling the website with interesting, colourful things.  Many retailers focus on only one style of furniture but I didn’t want Out There Interiors to be limited in this way. My own taste is not limited. For example, my favourite furniture style is mid-century/retro, but I also love vintage French furniture and colourful contemporary stuff.   It’s a one-stop-shop.”

Out there interiors retro furniture

Fifties style dining chair “Wilma”

“We have a huge mixture of products on, from hooks and handles to huge French armoires and life-size model cows.  Some products we purchase from UK wholesalers and others we import directly from the Far East. We spend a lot of time ensuring the factories we use are treating their staff well and producing quality goods.  Far Eastern travel is a definite perk of running a furniture company.”

Bathroom cabinet ‘Kaia’

My favourite Out There Interiors picks:

Out There Interiors not only sells new and reproduction furniture but also sources genuine vintage and antique finds…

Out there interiors vintage furniture

Antique ceramic baby bath. This would make an amazing planter.

Out there interiors vintage furniture

Enamel coffee pot.

Out there interiors vintage furniture

An original 1920’s French stove.