Africa is a huge place – containing over 50 countries if you include the island nations. A myriad of landscapes is contained within their borders – savannah, desert, rainforests, mountains & sea coasts – from remote wilderness to urban hubs.
How can you sum it up in 8 items? Well, you can’t of course, but after browsing offerings on the web, here’s our choice of items with a distinct African flavour.
- Moroccan vintage candle tea light holder: £12.95, Bouf
- TWA Africa vintage airline travel advert print: £51.90, Zazzle
- Shabba bowl: £160, Clippings
- Maroc white tagine: £20, Habitat
- Ankara print cushion: £30.02, Etsy
- Africa wooden figures: £29, Scandinavian Design Centre
- Fabric by the metre – Herds by Skinny laMinx: £43.37, Etsy
- Cowhide – zebra beige rug: £389, Modern Rugs
We have a spare bedroom in our house that has been earmarked as a work room. It’s currently acting as a spill-over stock room, but the dream is for it to be a craft room. Well, part organised craft room and part creative home office.
One of the main considerations for a craft room is storage. I like and need order in a work room – everything in its place and conveniently to hand. Although they’re lightweight and often transparent, I really don’t like ugly plastic boxes. Give me wood, wicker, cardboard, textile and other natural materials any day.
Another important thing to take into account is your comfort. You’ll probably be sitting down for long periods of time – at a sewing machine, at a desk – you don’t need a chair that makes your back ache. It needs to be the right height for the table or desk that you sit at so an adjustable workshop stool is ideal.
Adequate lighting is another necessity – especially if you’re doing jobs like embroidery or fitting a zip or attaching buttons. A good desk light with angled arms and a pivoting head is ideal for this kind of work. No straining your eyes with a dim overhead light casting a shadow over what you’re doing.
Once all these physical practicalities are taken care of, the emotional requirements need addressing. Colour is the best way to set a mood in an interior environment. Bright bursts of colour around the room lift the spirits. We both spend much of our working day listening to the radio – it’s usually tuned to BBC 6 Music but Radio 4 is the soundtrack to our lazy Sunday afternoons.
- Perivale Sewing Silks box: £200, H is for Home
- JL110 sewing machine, yellow: £99, John Lewis
- Female tailor’s dummy/mannequin: £28.95, eBay
- Wooden sewing box with legs: £50, Hobbycraft
- Large green cutting mat: £14.99, Dunelm
- PALLRA box with lid, set of 4, dark yellow: 12, IKEA
- PURE Evoke Mio radio stem print by Orla Kiely: £149.99, Selfridges
- Hemingway ladies print sewing & knitting range: £3-£6, John Lewis
- Colour pop wall shelves by I Love Retro: £129, Notonthehighstreet
- White pegboard with wooden pegs, large: £47.30, Amazon
- Jielde Signal desk light: £220, Clippings
- Konstantin Grcic Tom & Jerry stool: £336, Conran Shop
- Fonteyn console desk, oak: £369, MADE
Property prices in the UK, especially in London and the South, are absolutely bonkers. If they want to own their own home, many buyers may not be able to afford much more than a small flat or bedsit. Studio living is many people’s reality.
If a home is compact & bijou – there’s a lot that can be done to maximise a living space. Items such as room dividers and rugs help to zone & delineate the different living and working areas.
Use space-saving and metamorphic furniture & fittings. Compact, folding, collapsible, stacking versions of usually bulky items such as chairs, tables and beds can free up a lot of space when not in use.
Multi-purpose items of furniture prove useful additions to studio living. Daybeds, sofa beds and shelving units that double up as room dividers cut down on the number of necessary furnishings and stop a space feeling over-crowded or cluttered.
Unfortunately, smaller doesn’t necessarily mean cheaper – mini versions of fixtures and appliances aren’t always less expensive than their full-size versions.
- Kingston compact leak proof pre-assembled shower cubicle: £756, Forthill Home
- Bathroom vanity combination unit: £374.95, eBay
- Alessi Piana folding chair: £134, Heal’s
- Regal 1550mm roll top slipper bath with tap deck: £299.99, World of Baths
- Caboto room divider: £70.90, Wayfair
- IKEA PS 2014 bureau, orange, birch veneer: £145
- Eyeline Platinum mini kitchen with hobs: from £2,010.00 (ex. VAT), Tiny Kitchens
- IKEA PS 2012 day-bed: £450
- Spacedust bright rug: from £34, Modern Rugs
- Leon Pfeifer for John Lewis Croyde 6 seater drop leaf folding dining table: £299
According to Wikipedia, ‘Wicker is woven fibre formed into a rigid material, most often used for baskets or furniture.‘ But wicker isn’t just for baskets and furniture, it’s used in homewares in lots of creative, attractive and affordable ways.
Wicker is usually done with willow but lots of other natural (and some man-made) materials are used; rattan, cane, bamboo, water hyacinth, sea grass, rush, raffia, straw… and even banana fibre!
In our last house we had sea grass flooring that was beautiful, hard-wearing, red wine stain-resistant and lovely to walk on in bare feet. We had a vintage cane hanging chair that was a magnet for all young children that came to visit. We have a stack of woven baskets, picnic hampers and a huge industrial laundry basket where we keep all manner of things tidy, hidden and out of the way.
- Hamper: £90, Fortnum & Mason
- Floor matting: from £165 per sq m + VAT, Rush Matters
- Woven rattan underplate: £13, OKA
- White wooden rattan ball fairy light string: £14.99, Amazon
- KASTANJENÖT bowl, water hyacinth, white: £10, IKEA
- Nick Munro Spheres tea infuser: £65, Occa Home
- Wicker Valley trolley with extended handle: £52, Wayfair
- Wicker shopper: £20 H is for Home
For the past few weeks we’ve been enjoying a blissful al fresco summer – with no end in sight so far (touch wood!). We’ve been pottering in the garden, sitting outside to eat and working on laptops from our deckchairs.
We love a blue & green theme for the garden, it works really well with a backdrop of trees, plants and flowers and creates a restful outdoor vibe.
- Hardwood 2m garden parasol – light blue: £29.99, Homebase
- Romvi LED solar powered outdoor string lights with 20 lights, green & blue shades: £10, B&Q
- Lexon Maizy radio: £49, Ethical Superstore
- Century bench: £49.90, Butlers Online
- Florence table – green: £419.99, Crocus
- Amazonas Belize hanging chair: £37.15, Tesco
- KitchenCraft Bar Craft ‘Vino Curvo’ wine cooler: £13.40, Wayfair
- Coolmovers Meadow Lane acrylic stacking glasses – pack of 4: £6.77, Auravita
- Charcoal bucket BBQ: £9.99, Argos
- Tam Tam green plastic stool: £12, Habitat
Way back in 1990, I visited Glasgow the year it was European City of Culture. I took a National Coach from Brighton that arrived at dawn – it was a magical experience. There was such a buzz to the area – I’d never seen so many cranes on a skyline and building work going on! While I was there, I took myself on a little Charles Rennie Mackintosh tour of the city.
I visited The Mackintosh House at the Hunterian Art Gallery, the Scotland Street School, Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum gazed up at the Daily Record Building facade, had cake in the Willow Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street and took a magical train journey along the river Clyde out to The Hill House in Helensburgh.
Of all the places I visited on that trip, my favourite was the Glasgow School of Art. I was really upset when I saw images of it ablaze on the news last month. How do you replace all the fantastic wooden desks and panelling in the library? The glass in the windows of the top-floor studio? It’s such a shame, I hope it can be restored.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh is one of my favourite British architect/designers – and, to top it off, it was his birthday day before yesterday!
- ITC Rennie Mackintosh font: £29.75 each for light and bold, Linotype
- Glasgow School of Art: Charles Rennie Mackintosh (Architecture in Detail) by James Macaulay: from £26.38, Amazon
- Diploma of Honour designed for the Glasgow School of Art Club, 1894: from £14.95, easyart
- Art Nouveau Dado by Lincrusta: £146.99 per roll, Wallpaperdirect
- Stainless steel Mackintosh style house number plaque by housebling: £89, Notonthehighstreet
- Mackintosh rose antique stained glass window: £1424.31, eBay
- Dolls house miniature Charles Rennie Mackintosh tall rose boudoir chair, white: £47.15, Etsy
- Art deco papercut card pack (3 designs/cards): £9, Etsy