Friday Five: Warsaw's coolest hotel, Autor Rooms

Just one day to go until our summer holiday, and I'm definitely dreaming of a getaway. Today's Friday Five comes to you courtesy of the Autor Rooms, an amazing design hotel on one of the oldest streets in Warsaw. You can glean a good few interior design tips by examining hotels, and this one is a beauty.
Via Keep Calm & Travel 
Converted from an apartment by Mamastudio (who are actually a graphic design team), it is now a bijou 4 star, 4-bed hotel. The interiors feature Polish art, furniture and design – a concept the studio adhered to strictly throughout the renovation.  It's bijou yet grand, traditional yet modernist and certainly on my list of places to visit!

The communal dining area, above, sets the scene – fabulous original parquet flooring and architectural details have been complimented with modern art and stylish lighting. The look is beautiful but unpretentious, bridging the gap between hostel and hotel.

The bedrooms are each individually styled – their simplicity enhancing those gorgeous original features. Take this, the largest suite at Autor Rooms:

Via Wallpaper
I love the way this creative bedside/wall lamp solution gives the illusion of a grand headboard, whilst also keeping the bedside units clear. This wouldn't be too expensive to recreate at home with some extended lighting cable. The black wooden bathroom/wardrobe design is a very clever way of creating an ensuite without altering the fabric of the building. Hmmmm...wonder if I could fit one of those in our master bedroom?

This room features a platform, canopy bed (who knew you could have both?) fashioned from copper pipes, alongside a glass walk-in shower. Beautiful, but perhaps not for those fond of privacy!

And if light and bright doesn't float your boat, then how about this dark and moody bedroom? I love the black and blue colour scheme and another clever cabin-style ensuite.

Last but not least, the kitchen. Simple, homely and inviting, with an honesty bar to boot. What more could you want?
Via Design Milk
Alas, Warsaw will have to wait. Our family holiday starts with the same letter, but is a little closer to home, Wales to be precise. (Fingers crossed this heatwave lasts, I don't fancy a week of downpours in the Gower!) I'll be taking a break for the next couple of weeks, so enjoy your summer all! And if you're still planning your next getaway, add Autor Rooms, Warsaw to your list.

Yellow sofas

Having nearly finished the kitchen, I'm now itching to get started revamping the living room. It's going to have to wait until the new windows are in, but that's not going to stop me dreaming about sofas. If you follow me on instagram you'll know I have a thing about yellow, and lately I've been wondering whether I could get along with a yellow sofa?

I realise this may send some of you running for the hills, as there is an often-touted maxim that you should keep your large furniture items neutral, then add colour with accessories. But there's something about the statement of a coloured sofa that a bright cushion or throw just can't match. It might be bold and it might be brave, but it doesn't have to be 'loud.' Just look at the former home of Jenna Lyons, above, for yellow sofa inspiration – this image is an oldy but a goody – and that sofa livens up what is otherwise a fairly classic living room no end.

Or how about this rather more masculine take on the look? Yellow sofa + black and white rug = instant style.

Perhaps the yellow is a reaction to how fed-up I am with the current dark grey, bulky sofa that resides in our living room. My main bug-bear is its very high arms in an unfashionably curvy shape (absolutely no good for resting a drink on – in fact you can't even reach over the arm to the side table). Those arms also feel a bit like a barrier when you walk into the room, and the colour just saps any energy. You can just about see the current sofa in this picture below – I've done my best to hide it under a moroccan rug and copious cushions, but alas, I can't disguise its size.

So, where can you find a cute and comfortable yellow sofa? Well, there are a fair few options on the high street if you are feeling brave! Here are 3 of my favourites:

1. Bo Concept, Carlton sofa

I can vouch that this sofa from Bo Concept is beautifully comfortable – slouchy yet slim and elegant. Their Napoli corduroy velvet in golden beige is a subtle take on yellow and comes in at just under  £3k for a 3-seater sofa.

2. Swoon Editions, Munich sofa

A more budget-friendly option is Swoon Editions. A good few of Swoon's sofas are available in this Honey velvet colour. They are extremely affordable (less than £1000 for this 3-seater). My favourite shape would have to be the Munich, shown. It's slim, long and doesn't have too many fussy cushions (so you can add your own!)

3. Love Your Home Jasper Sofa

Thirdly we have the Jasper sofa from Love Your Home, shown in mustard brushed cotton (love the legs!) This is priced in between the other two at £2371 for the model shown, but does have a chaise section for extra comfort!

So, what do you think? Could you go for a yellow sofa? Or any other bright colour for that matter? I will spend my holiday considering, and trying to persuade the other half!

Images: 1 // 2 // 3 //

What colour to paint your internal doors and woodwork?

I've been slowly making-over our kitchen/diner for the past couple of months (it's not been a speedy process as I've been doing everything myself, spending my evenings and any odd spare hours up a step-ladder until finally, the whole room has been completely repainted). The metro-tiles in the kitchen have also been removed in favour of painted splashbacks (controversial – we'll see how they fare over the next few months) and the lighting is in the process of being updated.  Of course, as with any DIY project, there have been lots of decisions taken – not least of which was what colour to paint the woodwork?

I know from my client work that the woodwork conundrum is a common one. Whilst I am a big fan of painting out all woodwork in the same colour – walls, ceilings, skirtings, architraves and even doors, it is not the only option. It's a contemporary look that has gained in popularity over the past few years because it looks less busy and forces you to notice what's in the room rather than its perimeters and edges. But I'm increasingly drawn to more colourful interior woodwork as well.

Colourful interior woodwork

Woodwork is a great place to add a bolt of colour, without committing to painting the whole room a strong hue. I was very keen to use some more navy in our kitchen (we already have a navy velvet sofa which you can see to the right in the pic above) and decided that the double doors into the room would be a great place to add some Hicks Blue by Little Greene Paint. These doors are the first thing you see as you walk through our front door (so yes, I've painted them Hicks Blue on both sides) and I felt they could handle a statement. Forgive my terrible photography skills, but until this is professionally photographed, they will have to do by means of illustration. The colour I've opted for is akin to the ever-popular Hague Blue by Farrow and Ball, with a similar grey undertone, but is bluer and slightly less dark. If that makes sense.

The next question of course is do you paint just the doors or the architraves too? I actually don't think either would be wrong, but I opted to paint the architrave in Hicks Blue as well, as it makes the entrance appear a little larger and therefore grander. (You can see how I've cut it into the skirting boards on the image above.)

Does all of your woodwork have to be painted the same colour? 

I don't have a problem with mix-and-match woodwork, although I realise that some of you might. I wanted to mark out the double entrance doors in a strong colour, but the smaller door you see to the left above, and more clearly in the image below, is the door to our very small utility room. I didn't want to draw unnecessary attention to that one and so painted it out to match the walls, handle and all.  I think it would have distracted from the double doors had I done anything else. The colour by the way is French Grey, again by Little Greene Paint.

The next image is the home of one of my all time favourite designers, Faye Toogood, who has used lots of different colours on the woodwork in her own home – it works as the shades all tone beautifully (mainly soft greys and blues). It also goes to show that gloss paint can look wonderfully contemporary.

Via The Modern House

And even with less contrast, this blue and green hallway woodwork looks beautifully smart and contemporary. I don't know what the paint colours are, but something like Squid Ink by Paint & Paper Library, combined with Studio Green from Farrow & Ball would give a similar look.

Via Shoot Factory

If you were feeling brave, you could certainly paint different doors in different colours. This would work well off a hallway or landing and you could choose gently complimentary or contrasting shades (just don't clash with the colours of the rooms!) It's something I might try in our hallway, once we've finished all the other work and can finally redecorate there.

This image from Cloth and Kind, whilst not strictly a doorway, shows the power of colourful woodwork in an otherwise relatively plain hallway. That cabinet and rug combination really makes this hallway sing:

Via Cloth & Kind

Or how about something completely different? If you can't decide what colour to paint your woodwork, then choose TWO colours, like these clever homeowners I stumbled across on Shoot Factory, (you'll either love this for it's originality or hate it for being aesthetic nonsense but it certainly shows the power of a paint job):

Via Shoot Factory

What's wrong with painting your woodwork good old white? 

Of course there is nothing wrong with this option. It is the traditional choice, and of course it can work (ideally if the rest of your room is also white). I don't want to judge others' choices, but with so many more interesting options to choose from, please don't just mark out your boarders in a hard white without giving it some serious thought. And I would certainly avoid white skirtings if your walls are painted a dark shade. If you're scared of choosing the wrong woodwork/door/wall combination, then look to paint companies like Little Greene Paint or Paint & Paper Library who both offer colour scales, meaning that you can choose different depths of the same colour for use on woodwork and walls. Paler walls and darker woodwork can enhance the feeling of light, whilst vice-versa is a more traditional stance but looks softer and more considered than plain-old-white woodwork.

If you're still after more coloured-woodwork inspiration, then checkout the whole Pinterest board  I've been collected over recent weeks. Now, just to decide what colour to paint the front door... but that's a whole other post...

Friday Five – Inspirational interiors from a moody duo

Why do Fridays keep coming around so quickly? I mean I'm pleased that the weekend is almost upon us, but I just need one more day to get stuff done!

Today's Friday Five inspiration comes from the founders or uber-cool lighting company, Apparatus Studio.  Gabriel Hendifar and Jeremy Anderson founded the studio only a few years ago and I just love their focus on tactile, raw materials (brass, leather, marble, even horsehair!) Their style is inspired by the industrial and the mid-century, but manages to be totally current at the same time. Their designs are already becoming iconic and they just happen to have the most fantastically decorated home and studio in NYC too.

I mean who wouldn't want to work in this amazing office? It's glamorous yet raw, mid-century yet timeless. I love the combination of plywood walls and patinated brass with marble and plush carpet – and the fabulous muted colour palette of the painting. It's somehow glamorous and luxurious, yet understated and raw at the same time.

The sitting area at their studio is beautifully understated too...I love the cowhide (of course) and the balanced chandelier that looks both heavy and delicate.
While the entryway showcases some of their most popular designs – with oh-so-on-trend black crittal doors of course. That wall light on the right is made of horsehair and reminds me of a Norse god in a helmet. I soooo want to stroke it. (Is that wrong?)

And of course these guys can do dark and moody with aplomb – witness the clash of 70s sofas and traditional rug below. The 70s might be known as the decade that taste forgot, but I have a feeling we're going to be remembering a lot of their sofas very soon. (Check out this post for the best 1970s sofas to invest in). Better get on eBay now before everyone catches on.

Where was I? Ah yes, Gabriel and Jeremy's indefatigable sense of style. Check out their master bedroom below. The muted blue-grey walls are the perfect backdrop for all that texture – soft leather headboard, vintage textile throw, sheepskin stool, afghan rug, linen bedding, get the idea, and you know how I love a bit of texture.

So there you have it, 5 inspirational interiors, from one very inspirational duo.

Happy Friday all.

H x


Must have vintage sofas of the 1970s & 1980s

We're all familiar with the beauty of a mid-century Danish sofa. The low clean lines, the slim arms, the aged leather patina ... Danish sofas of the 50s and 60s have been having a moment for what seems like years (I have certainly not been immune to their charms). But change is in the air – now their brasher, ballsier, plumper and, well, younger sofas are slowly but surely elbowing their way to the top of the savvy-sofa-investor's most wanted list. Sofas from the 1970s and 1980s are where it's at! I've been in two minds about sharing this post, as clearly I'd love to mop up all the great investment pieces before everyone else catches perhaps we could just keep this between ourselves?

1/ Number one on my list is the Maralunga sofa by Cassina. I've been hunting high and low for a maralunga 2-seater sofa for a client project, and I've finally come up trumps with a reasonably priced vintage find that will be reupholstered in a very cool this space! Seriously, the Maralunga is a classic – it works with pretty much any interior style and with its unique flip-up or down headrest design is comfortable enough to lounge on too. If you keep your eyes peeled they do appear on eBay every once in a while – or try 1st Dibs for a more pricey but beautiful option. In fact if budget allows, then these are still in production today (if you have a cool £5k to throw at one).

2/ The Togo sofa by Ligne Roset. Designed in the 1970s by Michel Ducaroy, the Togo is, again, still in production today (always a good sign if you want something timeless). The squishy, low and laid-back shape invites you to chill out and put your feet up. If you're lucky enough to find a reasonably priced, second-hand Togo sofa then you're onto a good investment, but beware the costs of reupholstery as these require an expert to recover.

3/ The Soriana sofa by Cassina (that brand again) is a 1980s classic – like a giant marshmallow, cinched with a chrome belt! These beauties are available in a whole range of fabrics, leathers and colours, although there are strangely few images of them adorning completed interiors, save this muted space by Kelly Wearstler. This squishy, comfy style would work anywhere from a soho loft to a hotel lobby to an East End living room. The matching chairs are pretty cool too.

4/ The Terrazza landscape sofa by De Sede, designed in 1972. Swiss brand De Sede are definitely a name to watch, I love pretty much every one of their designs, but first up has to be the iconic (and not for the feint-hearted) Terrazza landscape, as used (again) by glamour queen Ms Wearstler (who is absolutely not afraid of a 1970s/80s reference!)  Perfect if you have the space and the budget – these sculptural statement sofas are great in a pairs, but also work alone.

//1 DS600 // 2 DS140  //  3 DS85 // 4 DS44  // 5 DS2011 // 6 DS1025 Terrazza landscape  // 7 DS125 //

5/ My final tip would be to invest in pretty much any sofa by De Sede! It could be 1970s, 1980s or even 1990s, but I confidently predict that anything by this Swiss furniture brand is going to increase in value over the next 5 years – prices are already rocketing on the high end vintage sites. I'm still sniffling over a beautiful pair of De Sede 2011s I missed out on last month (does anyone else find it very difficult to stop kicking themselves over of a missed vintage bargain?)

Anyway, time to move on and get on with some work! Have a happy, (and if you're in London, humid) Tuesday!

Shop the look: McMafia interior style

Is anyone else watching the BBC's latest big-budget drama, McMafia? I am officially obsessed. And not with the storyline (or James Norton for that matter, although both are quite watchable). It's the McMafia interiors that I can't get enough of. There is opulent 'oligarch chic' aplenty, if that is your thing, but it's the home of main character of Alex Godman and his fiancee Rebecca that really has me drooling. The interiors of their London Mews house are moody, muted and absolutely to die for.

If you love a bit of global design, a dash of mid-century modern and the odd 1970s twist, then you might just love the McMafia interiors as much as I do. I think the style could best be summed up as urban nomad.  It says 'hey I've travelled the world, I've picked up a few hand-made, artisanal pieces along the way; I can work a moody paint colour and inherited these cool mid-century antiques from my parents. But I'm not actually trying too hard, I've just thrown it all together in this very contemporary yet understated way.'

Given the McMafia storyline spans pretty much every continent, it seems only fitting that the hero's home reflects this global vibe. It's the bedroom that I'm particularly swooning over. The mix of grey and beige; the framed African textiles; teak bedside cabinets and iconic Jason chair.  If you're not watching on a Sunday night, then these screenshots should give you the gist.

I've put together a little moodboard for anyone else who fancies a McMafia style bedroom (minus the hitmen and dirty money, obviously). So here is my take on the urban nomad bedroom, McMafia style:-


So what are the key elements? A neutral but warm backdrop is a good start. Alex and Rebecca have grey paint on the wall behind their bed – something like Little Greene French Grey would be a good option, with French Grey Pale on the remaining walls.  Or go a little warmer with Serpentine (also LG paints).

Natural linen headboard £103.50 from Maisons du monde. Or Loaf have some good options if you want a fully upholstered linen bed.
Mid-century bedside cabinets. Alex and Rebecca have some simple, teak bedsides and Vinterior have a number of great options. (If you haven't already checked Vinterior out, then please do. It's a great resource for vintage pieces – bringing together lots of independents into one easily searchable and shopable market).
Bedside pendant lights: These simple white cone pendants will do the trick! Pendants are a good idea next to the bed as they free up space on your bedside table.
Framed textile art: The McMafia guys have several huge framed textiles in the bedroom, great for adding pattern and interest but in a very quiet, understated way. Contact Hide & Seek London for framed vintage textiles to order.
Cushion on bed, vintage mud cloth: This vintage mud cloth cushion is very much in the 'modern nomadic' style we're after!
Natural linen bedding: you can't beat a bit of natural linen bedding, and pleasingly, the McMafia cast are leaving theirs crumpled (no need to iron!)
Vintage Jason chair: Alex Godman's gorgeous Jason chair provides a single splash of green in the McMafia bedroom. Vinterior (again) have a number of original Jason chairs, designed by Carl Jacobs in the 1950s, (although alas none in green). Still, I'd be more than happy to settle for this plywood number – Danish design never dates.
Kantha quilt throw: Another global touch for the bed, this Indian Kantha quilt would add some warm colour to the otherwise neutral bed.
African laundry basket. Alex & Rebecca have 2 of these (well, he can't keep his shirts so crisp without separating his whites from his colours, can he?) I notice Habitat also has some similar options.
Tribal vase: This West German pottery vase adds the right note of 'I just happened to collect this ages ago. Oh, are they trendy?'
Vintage pottery table lamp: mirroring the primitive lamps Alex and Rebecca favour around their  home. This one from (you guessed it, Vinterior) is suitably nubbly and tactile!
Faux leather dressing table: This would blend nicely into the walls without making a statement in its own right.
Slatted wooden blind: A simple window treatment, available made to measure.
Natural Jute rug: to add some natural texture to the floor. Although a deep, velvety carpet would work just as well.

So there you have it, a McMafia inspired, globally styled bedroom. I'm hoping that in next Sunday night's instalment they'll show the other side of the bedroom, you know, the side featuring a chair piled high with unsorted clothes... then I'll feel bang on McMafia trend! Happy Tuesday all.

Design Dilemma: How to decorate around radiators

Quite  a specific post today, but one that I know people often agonise over. How do you decorate around radiators? If you're lucky enough to be starting from scratch then you can install underfloor heating and be damned! But most of us don't have that option.

I don't mind the odd radiator myself, but they can be pesky to decorate around.  Here are my suggestions for dealing with some common radiator conundrums.

Radiators and curtain length

There is a reason radiators were typically placed under windows: to keep out drafts. If you have double glazing, then this is unlikely to be a problem, but if you are in an older house, you'll probably want to leave your radiators under the windows. The dilemma then is how to dress your windows (without opting for short curtains. Please don't hang short curtains. Unless perhaps it is a child's bedroom. Or belongs to an ancient relative who you reasonably feel might get tangled up in a full length drape and come a cropper. But even then, there are better options...).

Short curtains make ceilings look lower and windows look squatter. When drawn, half the heat from the radiator goes straight up between the fabric and the glass, meaning they're not hugely efficient either.  Here are some alternative suggestions:

a) Choose simple blinds or shutters. Roman blinds can be interlined for additional warmth too – perfect in older houses.

b) Add full length curtains over the blinds. These can be left open or drawn halfway (with the blinds providing more darkness/privacy). You could save by making long curtains with half the fabric width and leaving them open at all times.

c) Have full length curtains and just stop worrying about it! In our bedroom we have a radiator under our bay window, with full length curtains. It's never really an issue, as we only close them when we go to bed and the heating isn't on then anyway.


d) If you have a large bay window with radiators underneath, you could consider adding a built in window seat, with exposed grills (so much more useable than a regular radiator cover). You will of course have to refer to points a) and b) for covering the window. I've searched for ages for a picture to demonstrate the point, but can't find anything I like enough to include.  Clearly my heart's not fully in this option! One to consider for a playroom or bedroom perhaps.

Lack of wall space for radiators

The modern love of open-plan living has seen plenty of us knock down walls and open out entire floors, only to wonder where on earth the radiators will go! Tall radiators are your answer here.  They can be squeezed into relatively narrow spots, which might not be fit for much else anyway. This room below is the perfect example:

It's best not to skimp on the output of your radiators, you don't want a room that looks beautiful but has everyone running for an extra layer to put on. There are plenty of only calculators that will tell you exactly what output you require for a given size of room (some even take into account construction type, number of windows and ceiling heights to give you an accurate view). Just search for BTU calculator.

Radiators behind the sofa

If your radiator is in an awkward position (often on exactly the wall where you need to put your sofa) then it is worth looking into having it moved, which may not be as expensive as you think. A radiator is undoubtedly less efficient sat behind a huge piece of furniture and won't do the furniture itself much good either. Not to mention that the lines of your amazing Danish sofa are going to be somewhat spoilt by a radiator sticking up behind it!  A little outlay on moving it now could reduce your heating bills in the long run. If moving it is simply not an option, then try placing a console behind your sofa to provide a buffer from the heat (and a ledge for your drink), or at least paint the rad to match the walls.

Radiators built into furniture

This is a fairly elaborate solution, but if you need storage, then why not build around your radiator? This fabulous bookcase is hiding a radiator behind a very minimalist grille (you can just see it peeking out behind the sofa).


Or this simple built-in ledge and log-store arrangement leaves the radiator on show, but provides a shelf for plenty of visual distraction:


Get your paintbrush out

And finally, you could always paint your radiators and make them a feature in their own right, like this gorgeous tomato red radiator below:


And if your radiators are slightly less 'charming victorian' in style and slightly more 'eighties utilitarian' then painting them in the same colour as your walls is a good solution – you're eye won't be drawn to them (like this purple radiator below). It's the solution I've chosen in our hallway and living room, albeit in a slightly more muted colour!

I'd love to have column rads everywhere, but actually I don't really notice them now. Admittedly they're not perfect, and yes, the paint gets chipped (particularly when you repeatedly ram a buggy and several scooters/bikes etc into them), but if you keep a jam jar of left-over paint handy, then touch ups take 2 minutes (providing you don't store said jam jar in the shed. If you do, and you're anything like me, you'll probably never see it again!)

Source 1  2  3

So there you have it. Several liveable solutions to decorating around radiators. There's plenty more inspiration over on my radiators Pinterest board. Let me know if you have any other suggestions, I'm all ears!