Pharmacy 2

Let go back in time…

Its 1998 – London is in the grip of the Rule Britannia phase, Brit Pop rules, as do lads and ladettes doing too many drugs, New Labour were telling us ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ and the British art scene led by the likes of Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas and Gary Hume is changing the face of modern art.

Mathew Freud and Damien Hirst open up Pharmacy, a restaurant in Notting Hill and the rest is the stuff of legend. I went once with some people from Loaded Magazine (remember that!?!) but sadly I cannot mention most of the stuff that happened that night for fear of being sued! It was a pretty cool place though, although the waiters in surgical gowns did freak me out a bit…

Jump forward to now and Damien Hirst, in collaboration with chef Mark Hix, has opened Pharmacy 2, this time based in his Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall, South London.  See below what I discovered…

Its small but perfectly formed! The bar area is a mix of neon, pill prints and hanging leds.  Hirst butterfly print medical ‘+’ signs sit each side of the mirrored bar backdrop and cocktails are mixed as you perch on pill shaped bar stools.

There are booths to sit in for bigger groups and loads more Hirst originals. I tried to leave with one up my jumper but sadly there were too many waiters!

img_6420And even the bar stools are cool…  Just like the original piece of art, 2500 or so different pills fill the cabinets on the walls…The menu covers British and European classics, including the likes of shaved winter squash with Treviso and Graceburn cheese, white polenta with a Burford Brown egg yolk and shaved Wiltshire truffles, plus a Mark Hix signature dish of crushed potato and black pudding with pineapple upside-down cakes or chocolate mousse with honeycomb for dessert. Pharmacy 2 covers breakfast, weekend brunches and Sunday roasts, plus it serves a mean cocktail.

What do you think? Pharmacy 2 is now open for bookings – find the details here.

Creating my own Stairway to Heaven

As I have mentioned previously, we are currently revamping our house which will see us pretty much redo every room in our house bar the kitchen.

One of the first areas I have looked at is the hall, landing and stairs. When we moved in it was a pale green with no carpet and felt cold, was noisy and very dusty. All the doors were untreated wood and there were areas of architrave missing.    I had wanted a striped stair carpet for some time but had only lived in homes where the carpets didnt need replacing so it was not to be. But now? Well, I had the perfect opportunity!

Over a couple of weeks I painted out the cold tone pale green walls into a warmer tone (a basic matt magnolia), re-glossed all the woodwork and primed and glossed all the doors. After quite a search, we found the carpet via SCS as I wanted a quirky, slightly uneven stripe rather than something too repetitive and formal. The brown tonal colours make the stripes stand out but not be too overpowering in this high footfall area.

      

With the bold carpet taking centre stage I then added some accessories to the window sills and some artwork to the walls –

A grouping of some of my collection of 1950s/1960s glass is presented on the hall window sill. Due to being overlooked I had to have a net curtain up (not one of my favourite things) so I went for a simple white voile…

 And a huge vintage ‘Le Chat Noir’ print is one of the first things you see as you walk in…Upstairs, two large artworks dominate the top of the stairs, one being one of my favourite items I own – an original 1970 Geoffrey Leeson artwork of a Peacock. Two of my favourite ornaments, a pair of collectable Villeroy & Boch ‘Animal Park’ cats are placed on the smaller upstairs window sill as well.

 

I’m really happy with how its turned out! The first project of our new home is complete and I’m now working on the master bedroom…look out for my blog on it soon.

What home improvement have you been up to recently?

The thing I fell in love with this week

Lego mini-figure head storage: large £16.99, small £9.99 – Amazon (plus other retailers)Our house is Lego mad, its a fact, and I’ve been after some storage for it all for quite some time now. Luckily Father Christmas delivered my boys just the thing (thanks Amazon wish list!) and it is as stylish as it is practical! image via my Pinterest

I love a great piece of design and these heads are iconic. They also do a female version, an extra large shake and sorter, a skeleton and a pumpkin. 

We now have 4 which will look great displayed within the white shelves in the boys bedroom when I redecorate (our house is still a work in progress) and I think we might get a couple of the oversized brick boxes as well, as although the heads hold quite a lot, we have a huge amount of Lego and its growing!   And if nothing else they make a great photo opportunity! You just can’t help but be won over by them…  

Studio Collection by Next

Do you shop at Next? I have to be honest I don’t that much for clothing, but I have always liked their home and kids departments and often pop in for a quick browse. A few days ago a couple of images of their new home range came my way and I was bowled over.  I love a bit of retro style and love the colour orange and their new Studio range seems to mix these two things with a great modern vibe (another thing I love – my home has to still feel contemporary).

Described as “well designed contemporary furniture, textiles and accessories in a contemporary colour scheme to create clear zones in modern open plan living” it looks great and today I share some of my favourite pieces.  The full range is available online at Next here.

This has to be my favourite look of the collection – It feels modern yet at the same time a homage to the much coveted Mad Men style. The pops of bright orange and green work beautifully with the simple Logan sideboard (£325). The pair of prints by illustrator Budi Kwan (£40) are definitely a statement piece and I just love the orange leather chairs (£135 a pair) and that cast iron candleholder (£22) is a design that could be in your home forever.
Ooh, there’s those chairs again!  The Logan round table (£175) is a great design  – I love the look of dark walnut veneer against the black metal legs and again orange looks fabulous against it – that orange fruit bowl (£8) is almost too cool to use for fruit.

For modular choices the design of this Logan coffee table (£150) and stool set and the extending shelves (£275) are a brilliant way to define your different living zones as well as maximise your space.  The upholstered cube stools that store underneath the table are £50 each and available in 3 colours so can be mix and matched and once extended the shelves can be used as a fantastic room divider.

I do love great lighting – when I was training as a window stylist at Harrods, one of the first lessons I was taught is light is the best prop you ever have.  I can’t lie – that orange Orbit shade (£30) has made me swoon as well as the Good Vibes light box (£30) – groovy man… 

If you love Orla Kiely but can’t justify the price tag, some parts of the collection are definitely reminiscent of some of her prints (but lets remember she is only referencing retro 1960’s patterns and designs anyway). This Retro Geo wallpaper (£15 a roll) for example would work great on a feature wall.

img_3205A stylish desk can be hard to find and this one (£250) could also be used as a dressing table in a bedroom…oh and there’s one of those cute stools again…in my favourite colour no less!

img_3471And talking of dressing tables, the retro style can continue in the bedroom too! This ‘Me & You’ reversible cushion (£8) is super cute, don’t you think? Especially against the geometric duvet cover. Best of all you’d never have to fight for your side of the bed again!I’d love to know if you love this range as much as I do!  Its all available online and instore now – I think I feel a shopping trip coming on…  

all photos – Next.co.uk

Christmas the Always a Blue Sky Girl way

As many of you know, my background is in window dressing and visual styling and I’ve spent much of my career creating amazing Christmas concepts for the likes of Harrods, Selfridges, House of Fraser and Marks and Spencer. This means whether I like it or not, I have to ‘do’ Christmas in a certain way, with a certain style and over the years have collected some beautiful decorations to do it with.

In todays blog let me show you a few of my decorations and share some styling tips to hopefully help you create your most stylish Christmas ever!

Lets start with the first thing you see, the door wreath: Where we have a white modern door I have a very modern wreath. Its stylised with silver baubles inside, not to everyones taste but it suits our homes style. I like the simplicity of it and hopefully it sets the tone of the modern version of Christmas I personally love!

The Tree:

Having a modern designed home with retro/1960s highlights, I do love a white tree.  It is an acquired taste though. We actually have two trees each year, a traditional green one in the lounge and a more retro white one in our kitchen/diner. The mix of styles really works and keeps everyone happy.

On both trees I have a few rules – only a star on top, never an angel (sorry I find them super tacky, and a bit spooky); lots of large, stylised baubles made from glass if possible in a mix of no more than 4 colours and LED lights set deep within the branches.

Our two looks this year – Modern and cool : Traditional and festive:

Decoration groupings:

I don’t like a fussy home so mainly group similar decorations together in key areas.Ceramic soldier/fabric Robin: TK Maxx, Christmas Rules sign: Demelza House, slim Santa figure: Liberty, cut out stag: WilkinsonsGlass trees/Polar bear: TK Maxx, felt runner: John Lewis, wooden toadstools: Tiger Stores, baubles: HomebaseQuote cushion: Dunelm Mill, retro deer cushion: Asda, tapesty cushion: bought in New York (sorry!)  Merry Christmas sign: PaperchaseTin tray: The 99p Store

And with all this styling, I try to not take things too seriously, this is supposed to be a fun time after all… Giant bauble earrings for one of my favourite pieces of wall decor  A reindeer chopping board nestled amongst the usual ones in the kitchen And you’ve just got to have a few sprigs of Mistletoe hanging around, just in case!

And a final festive touch for our youngest child…well, if you don’t have a chimney, Santas got to get in somehow to deliver the presents! Santas key: Card Factory 

Have a wonderful Holiday season!  

For more Christmas inspo why not have a look at my blogs on advent calendars here and creating Christmassy kids rooms here.

Creating Christmas in a childs bedroom

They say Christmas is for kids, and I always like to make sure my childrens bedrooms feel festive too. In todays blog see my top 5 tricks to do Christmas in a fun and child friendly way, easily and cheaply…and best of all your kids will love it!

‘Days till Christmas’ countdown –

This is a great way to stop those ‘how many days…” questions you get pretty much every day of December. I like using a very cute, child friendly one and then have it displayed in their bedroom. Cute decoration groupings –

In the rest of my home my decorations have to be ultra stylish, but in the kids rooms? Anything goes! I let them pick ones they like then display in groups amongst their usual toys.  These were all bought in our local pound shop! Christmas duvet covers – 

This is a simple way to add Christmas cheer to their beds and there’s some lovely designs out there starting at around £9.99. We bought ours from Dunelm Mill and bought a new one this year for our 8 year old for £12.00 – find it here.Bunting – 

A great way to add decoration to the ceiling or on higher pieces of furniture. If bunting isn’t your style, making paper chains is a cheap and extremely effective solution too.
Festive soft toys – 

For smaller children a soft toy or two can really add a cute Christmas touch to their bedroom or nursery. Remember normal Christmas decorations could be dangerous for any child under 3 years, so keep safe by adding cute plush toys like the one below.I hope this gives you some inspiration to add some decorations upstairs in your home as well this year!

See my blog on advent calendars here.

The thing I fell in love with this week

Teal vase £1.50 – Store Twenty One 

We are currently decorating our bedroom (part of a house revamp which will see us pretty much redo every room in our house bar the kitchen) and a few weeks ago I painted over the strong red (!) the bedroom had been when we moved in, to a new deep teal colour.

 
I have been looking out for accessories that will add a highlight of teal to our existing items and while in Store Twenty One saw this lovely little vase. Regular readers of this blog will know I’m a big fan of Store Twenty Ones homeware range and often pop in to see what bargains they have. This beauty was in their sale for only £1.50 reduced from £3!

 
It reminds me of a Jonathan Adler vase and looks much more expensive than it was – plus it fits in with our new colour scheme perfectly! 

What do you think?

Look out for my blog on the finished room coming soon.

Advent Calendars with style

So, today it is the 1st of December (how did that happen?!?) and if you have kids (or are a kid a heart) its time to put out your advent calendar. The question is, what do you do to count down the days of December? 

A few years back I decided that I (and my stylish home) could no longer live with the cardboard calendars filled with cheap chocolate that come covered in advertising for the latest TV show or movie. Plus when you have three children in the house under 10, you end up with three Peppa Pig/Spiderman/ Star Wars/Disney etc ones dotted around. Also just to make it a bit more complicated we are a ‘blended family’ so at different times we have different amounts of children living with us – the idea of having uneaten chocolate building up and calendars three or four days behind didn’t feel festive at all, just slightly depressing.

So what to do? I have seen some lovely ideas via Etsy of bespoke handmade creations – here are some of my favourites…

Envelope advent calendar by MummyPuddleduck  buy here

Box tree advent calendar by DorsetHodgepodge buy here

Fabric pocket bunting advent calendar by SewSweetViolet  buy here

Paper bag kit advent calendar by PeachBlossomUK 

buy here

All lovely reusable and flexible solutions.

I happened to be in Ikea when I chanced upon our stylish solution – a 3D cardboard calendar in a Scandinavian style design with 24 drawers that could be filled with whatever (and most importantly whatever amount) of sweets we wanted! We decided to fill it with milk and white Christmas chocolate coins but you could as easily add small toys, messages or small amounts of money. And best of all its completely recyclable and something we can bring out every year as a family tradition. I love that.
  The kids are happy, my partner is happy and I am happy. I call that a win!

Why not try something new this December and create a family tradition of your own?  Look out for more blogs this month on how I like to do Christmas.

The thing I fell in love with this week

Face mug and coaster £2.00 each – Tiger Ah, Tiger stores have done it again. A bloggers favourite, this range of cute illustrated face designs comes on mugs, coasters, cushions and vases…and I’m a sucker for a great bit of modern illustration.

The mug is European style with no handle so can easily be used as a storage pot or plant pot too. And the coaster is large and could be used as a pot stand, tray or just as a decorative  ornament.  The other design is in green but I stayed with my favourite colour palette of a flash of orange with white and black. She’s also super cute though, don’t you think? I can’t believe these are retailing at only £2.00 each!  Do you love them as much as I do?