THE IMAGINED ABODE

A lover of all things beautiful imagineering the ultimate home from my little London rental. Day-dream with me...

UNDER THE CLOCHE

In my birth-month bell jar are just a couple of my b’day prezzies with a monochrome typography theme. There’s inspiration in Charles Saatchi’s The Naked Eye, an extraordinary collection of photography from around the world, each shot untouched by digital manipulation. And there’s a hand-Sharpied gift card from my ladies for my favourite Regent Street fashion shop, & Other Stories. This brand is brimming with painterly colours, cool, luxe fabrics, clean lines, and strong shapes, all dangerously affordable, from creative ateliers in Paris and Stockholm, and the people who brought us Cos:

WISH LIST

KATE SPADE NEW YORK / SATURDAY

With her fondness for vibrant colours, playful prints, and glam gold, I’ve been a fan of Kate Spade’s accessories for a while, but I only realised recently that she’d also stamped her style on home-ware ranges for both Kate Spade New York and her one-year-old brand Saturday.

THE LOOK

My favourite pieces would fit perfectly into my colour-scheme crush of black and pink. A black room accented with gold can has an almost-Egyptian decadence which can be delightfully off-set with a blush of pink. Or pink can add a softer side to a fresh but bold Scandi monochrome:

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THE DETAILS:

Saturday’s Short Stacked candlestick epitomises this colour combo with golden-rimmed glossy black and dusky pink candle-holders atop the iced-bun tones of a natural-finish maple block:

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Kate Spade’s Castle Peak crockery set in slate stoneware is deliciously matte black, and has uber-cool cubist faceting:

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The Saturday wide-rim ceramic bowls contrast a matte black exterior with a delicate candy-floss-pink gloss interior:

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And the Market Street accent plates are dotted with a confetti of pretty colours, and are edged in gold, to sit and stand-out beautifully on black:

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Add an industrial edge to your kitchen or dining table with this matte black Graphic pitcher:

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And juxtapose it with these gloss-glazed stackable mugs in pretty pink with a cute-enough-to-eat square handle:

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This slope-sided white glass vase is topped with a brass floral frog to bling up a bloom of pink peonies:
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Dress your desk with this Saturday metal desk lamp, hinting at the stripes that line the envelopes of this gold-monogrammed card set:

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And finally, accessorise with these flirty polka-dot pom poms:

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UNDER THE CLOCHE

Under the cloche for my birth-month is my own little Eden project, and it’s all about temptation; Eve and the apple. The Cuban womanly wood-carved torso has been joined by my new Michael Aram golden apple honey-pot (minus the arrow-shaped spoon):

THE IMAGINED ABODE

THE BEAR’S STUDY

2014 is all about creativity for us and, while The Haven has a a sweet little work-spot at the kitchen table, with lovely seasonal views across the green, one of the things that I want most from the The Imagined Abode is a proper study for that husband of mine. Ultimately of course I’m looking for his and hers studies/studios, but mine can come later. After all, it’s his prolific writing that I’m hoping will earn us a deposit for our first own home! So today I’m imagineering a masculine space that befits a bear of a man, a hide-away where he can immerse himself in the world he’s writing, and feel utterly empowered.

ANIMAL FARM

So I’m starting with all things of the forest for the hunter-gatherer in him: animal heads and hides galore (though of course these can include fake furs, printed rugs, and resin or wood-carved animal skulls, to keep it animal friendly), and some wooden features straight from the lumber-jack’s axe:  

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Jungle, range or humble woodland, each choice of creature creates a different atmosphere:

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Locking horns, from monochrome resin to authentic antlers:  

          

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This beetle print on black lends a scholarly a 

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The woodsman’s wares (and an easy one for the DIY enthusiast):

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Bleu Nature’s wood and acrylic stool is the Damien Hirst of axe-man art:

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MASTER OF INDUSTRY

I’d also like to give the office an industrial edge to get the cogs turning. A back-drop of exposed brick-work or a swathe of concrete will do most of the work for you, furnished with sturdy structures of metal. Wythe Hotel, Brooklyn, pretty much has it all:

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A series of low-hung lamps create a production-line:

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Even the most polished of concrete gives a gritty edge. I love it!:

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These Plant & Moss concrete and metal desk accessories with wood inlays are exquisite:

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Benjamin Hubert concrete lamps:                                    

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Stefano Zwicky’s concrete chair, 1980:

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Kelly Wearstler’s metal table is the epitome of rough luxe:

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Black fibreglass Herman Miller Eames chair with metal swivel base:

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Brass desk accessories:

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THE GENTELMEN’S CLUB

But the bear isn’t all brute: I want to reflect his refined side with some classic gentlemen’s club chic. I’m thinking deep jewel shades, a hearty helping of old-school black and tan, studded leather, and super-warm woods:

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An officer and a gentleman - naval blue:

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Fox-red leather and a smack of Hamlet darkness

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A 70s vibe on white:

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All the period trimmings on a modern canvas of two-tone off-black:

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Toffee leather and a smooth slice of wood offset by black-painted brick:

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A flood of white floorboards freshen, and the wood-chip vases roughen this otherwise classic look:

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There are a variety of book-shelf wallpapers out there to give the grand illusion of a library:

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The black leather and walnut Eames lounger is an absolute classic for manly style (along with hand-chopped wood!), here set against white, and oversized stone slabs:

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A slouchy tan lounger hints at the batchellor pad:

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The Rolly side table from Abode:

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Anthropologie’s Brigitta dresser has stacks of style:

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Vintage document drawers work for his and hers:

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A brass vintage desk-lamp from The Old Cinema, Chiswick:

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Laurel 1950s chrome lamps:

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And for the well-travelled gent, a globe, of course:

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THE FINE LINE

But the bear also needs a slick of truly modern masculinity. It must be smarter, sharper, sleeker - high-gloss with a touch of high-tech:

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These chairs, for me, are perfect:

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Black and tan does arty and deluxe:

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This glossy red table-top would make a brave, youthful and creative statement as a desk:

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And a perspex desk adds futuristic flair to any room:

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The slender geometry of this chair puts a metrosexual twist on the tan leather reading chair:

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Habitat’s Robin Day chair makes sleek the classic masculine combo of black leather, walnut, and steel:

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For Bond-villain chic, vintage 1970s Negro Marquina marble side-tables:

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And to finish off the look, perspex desk accessories keep things razor-sharp and light:

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UNDER THE CLOCHE

Under the cloche at the top of 2014 is a wood-carved torso that I bought at a market in Cuba, adorned with my January-sales find from Liberty, a fabulous little Benoit Missolin hat made from French pigeon feathers (don’t ask me how they know the pigeons are French!):

ON THE HUNT

BUILT-IN SHELVES

My good friend Guinavere ripped a page out of my Elle Decoration magazine (she did ask first!) on our New Year mini-break as inspiration for the integrated shelves that she and her husband are looking to put up in the chimney-breast recess of the living room in their Scandi-styled mid-century house. So I thought I’d gather a few other ideas for built-in shelving before they get their mitts on the rest of my magazine stack! 

POCKETS OF PIGMENT

I’m a big fan of a pop of colour so personally I’d be tempted to isolate and flood the recess with a single colour to create a pocket of pigment as below:

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DARK SPOTS

Of course the bright pop of pigment could be swapped for a dramatic hit on the monochrome scale for a more masculine/Scandi injection:

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WOODEN INSERTS

Even wood gets a modern make-over when inserted to fill a space in this way, or I’d love to see this effect with other materials such as metals like copper or zinc:

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And I love this wooden panel with sculptural shelf boxes emerging out of it:

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THINKING INSIDE THE BOX

Box shelves hung directly on the wall offer any number of possibilities for colour and shape with a looser, more eclectic feel:

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But box shelves can also be used to more uniform and subtle effect with the below white-on-white (or white-on-nearly-white) versions:

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WHITE OUT

Or of course there’s always the classic white-on-white integrated shelving to keep things light and seamless:

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But if you’re going to keep it white-on-white, then I say why not give your room a gallery feel with narrow (ideally lipped) shelves that display pictures and books in their full face-on glory as below?:

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FLOODED WITH COLOUR

If white-on-white integration is a little bland for you, then you could always sit your shelves into a whole room flooded with pigment for a powerful kick of colour:

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WHITE LINES

Or you could keep the detailing white (doors, skirting boards and shelves) on painted walls to give a classic, clean and crisp frame to your colour.

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STANDING OUT

Or finally, go for stand-out shelves contrasting their surroundings, but keep them in the Scandi range of tones with black, white or wood:

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Happy January make-overs, all!

INSPIRATION

BOB BOB RICARD, LONDON

Upper James Street, just off Golden Square in Soho, boasts an absolute gem of a luxurious little restaurant guaranteed to impress with its sumptuous decor and exquisite cuisine of English and Russian classics. I recently recommended it to our MD who was looking for somewhere fabulous to take a New York producer client, and I have been desperate for an excuse to go there again myself ever since.

So the bear and I decided that it would be the perfect place for an intimate Boxing Day dinner as it was just the two of us staying in London for Christmas this year, determined to do lots of lovely indulgent things that we can’t usually do when we’re travelling around the country between parents and siblings for the festive season. Admittedly this has meant that we have spent a couple of days not getting dressed at all and staying in, so it was nice to get glammed up and go out on the town one evening. The Bob Bob Ricard dress-code is ‘elegant’ though it notes that ‘ties are not required’, but it would be a shame not to throw on a little glitz to visit a venue that is so opulent that it makes me feel as if I’m taking a trip on The Orient Express…

Bob Bob Ricard is all-booth dining amidst the most royal of blues in gold-trimmed leather, plush velvet curtains which separate tables, and a clash of ornate wall-paper patterns. Studded brass edges the tables which each have their own champagne button. More is more at Bob Bob Ricard:

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Diner deluxe in a cabana booth:

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The private salon with wood-panelled and art-clad walls, and statement lighting with an art-deco brass chandelier:

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The bar is a stunning stretch of deep grey fine-veined marble softened by the salmon pink and white of the paper place-mats, and lit with brass reading lamps:

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And, of course, the food is no less lavishly presented with gilded desserts and silverware for every occasion:

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The above photos were taken by Paul Winch-Furness for Bob Bob Ricard. Below are a few of my Instagram snaps from our Boxing Day date night to give you an up-close-and-personal glimpse of some of the details.

The famed champagne button - a must for any table!:

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I can’t speak highly enough of the cocktail list at BBR. I haven’t had a disappointing one yet! The Black Cherry Amaretto Sour was perfect:

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The Salted Chocolate Martini - sheer decadence: image

Espresso served in delicate cut glass (as are pretty much all beverages) on a pink- and gold-rimmed saucer:

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The BBR salmon pink menus and paper place-mats (good enough to frame, methinks!):

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And finally, the utter luxe of gold on glass that begs you to turn the corner on Beak Street:

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Go on, treat yourself to a little New Year inspiration! Happy 2014. 

UNDER THE CLOCHE

Under the cloche to kick off December and set the scene for the festive season, are a trio of baubles. I can’t be entirely sure where I got the big red feather bauble from as it was a few years ago now but John Lewis have some similar; the red glass pear was from Habitat; the little ornate gold painted bauble is from Fortnum & Mason:

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THE RENTED

THE PICTURE WALL 

Go big or go home. We had far too stingy a picture wall at The Haven pre-wedding but have been accumulating an array of art (in the wider sense of the word…) of late, and I finally got round to raiding Ikea and getting everything framed and up on the wall(s) to add some colour and drama to our rental:

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It doesn’t all have to be quite gallery-worthy. In fact, I’d say the more personal, and the more eclectic, the better:

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The bear (who is very fond of a graphic novel, and a pretty good graphic artist himself) did this quick Batman sketch on a discarded newspaper one night on the tube home:

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The bear and I bought this print of Nathan Ford’s Joachim at the National Portrait Gallery after seeing the original in the BP Portrait Award 2012 exhibition. I love that it’s seemingly unfinished, disintegrating into pencil lines. And beside it (just for the thrill of it!) is my own little sketch of the bear at the end of the day we got engaged:

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Top-right is a paper-cut piece from Paper Moon in Greenwich (a wedding present from Ms V. and La Letch) beside a framed 1960s edition of Action Comics from The Old Cinema, Chiswick; bottom-left is a print of an old Guerlain lipstick poster; bottom-right is a photo my dad took of me dancing when I was younger; and the rest are post-card prints - my tip is to pair them like the Walter Dahn Gunhead and Frida Kahlo self-portrait prints with a mono-brow theme:

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A Bear of Few Words by Bodie and Fou is made up entirely of the word ‘bear’. We love him! One from the wedding wish list:

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Top-left is a grey butterfly lino print that a talented friend did for me as a birthday gift; top-right is a pair of postcard prints of Elizabeth Blackadder watercolour paintings (my mum has sent me a whole series of these beautiful postcards over the last couple of years); bottom-right is an oil-pastel sketch of a friend that I did on black sugar paper when I was younger and mounted and framed in white for added drama; bottom-left is family photo of my mum, brother and me when I was a baby:

Clockwise from top-left: a contact sheet from a photo shoot; a study by my dad (Tony Metcalfe-Molinari, the pro!); a golden envelope from London Bride Couture; a pair of Yves Saint Laurent postcards from Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech:

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No, you didn’t mis-read that! To prove that pretty much anything can become art, below is a gorgeously golden envelope from wedding boutique London Bride Couture. They put my receipt and fabric sample in this when I ordered my Yolan Cris wedding dress so it’s a souvenir of a moment of utter joy and excitement, but I also just thought it was too beautiful to throw away, and beautiful enough to frame!: 

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And this is our other little picture wall in the tiny space between our living room and hallway. As well as postcard prints of favourite art works, in includes a vintage street-number sign from Prague, and the card that the bear used to pre-empt his wedding proposal - aw!

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ON THE HUNT

BAUBLES!

Well, it’s that time of year again… except this time I’m Mrs Bear! I am brimming with excitement to start celebrating our first Christmas as a married couple, particularly as this year we’re staying snug at home, just the two of us. So we’re making an extra-special effort to decorate The Haven fabulously festively this year. Starting with the (artificial) tree, whom we call Geoffrey. 

A few years ago the bear and I started a Christmas tradition of buying a new bauble or two together, sometimes as a little souvenir of somewhere we’d visited, be it the medina of Marrakech or the Christmas market on the London’s South Bank, and sometimes just as part of our annual browse of the Liberty Christmas shop to herald the start of the season. But let’s face it, in a year when we’ve tied the knot - basically the most extravagant symbol of love and commitment that a couple can make - a single bauble just feels a little feeble. No doubt I’ll succumb to further purchases as I get even giddier in December (I’ve only had a couple of cups of mulled wine until now, and that was back in October) but here are my buys so far. 

We started on the first day of September, the first day of autumn and our first day as Mr and Mrs, when we went to Fortnum & Mason for ice-cream sundaes to mark the anniversary of the bear proposing to me there, and to hunt out a little F&M memento… We found these exquisitely ornate gilded beauties:

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I also couldn’t resist a personalised bauble as a reminder of our first married Christmas, and they don’t come much cooler than this one from The Letteroom. I’m loving the neon (naturally) and the bold embossed-tape statement bling’d up with silver sequins:

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I just cannot get enough of acid yellow at the moment, from my favourite Whistles sweatshirt to the Smythson wallet I’ve spied that would go beautifully under the tree! So it only seemed fair to adorn good old Geoffrey with some sunny sparkle too, courtesy of Liberty:

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And the same goes for gold: I’ve chosen my side in the battle of the metals and pledged my allegiance with my wedding ring to a strong slice of 18-carat yellow, so I chose some golden jewellery for Geoffrey in the shapes of a glittering pear and a bell tied with a plush black-velvet bow, both from M&S:

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And finally, this is the very first Christmas of the utterly adorable 11-day-old daughter of my very good friend La Letch, so I thought she deserved a Christmas keepsake of her own. I found this precious offering from the clever people at Button Box Cards who can rubber-stamp a delicate white feather with a name. Welcome to the world and happy first Christmas, Marnie:

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