Welcome to our world of interiors. An informative, varied and fun blog

Glamour and all the trimmings at Chelsea

Completely catching my eye last week at the Chelsea Harbour Design Centre were the new rather glamorous fabric and passementerie collections in the Zimmer + Rohde showroom.

Sister company Ardecora launched their ‘Milano’ collection at Focus 13 and, until now, I hadn’t had the chance to look at it in any detail. Until last week that is and I’m really glad that I did.

The fabrics are elegant, beautiful, sumptuous…. they undeniably possess overtones of baroque but have their own, unique take on that style that seems to retain the richness but lose the heaviness. I also absolutely loved the blue colour-way in this collection – it is a sort of Wedgewood blue which again, has a real presence but also a lightness about it. I know that I normally joke that, whilst a lot of the new collections look great in London, most would struggle in Farnham – but not this. I think this could be part of interior designs pretty much anywhere (I’m thinking my sitting room in particular)!

Also at Z+R, the new Travers passementerie collection is worth a look and the showroom has done well to showcase how the collection can be used on soft furnishings and upholstery. Gorgeous patterns that you genuinely think you might never tire of are so useful in livening up a plain cushion (that you have tired of) or in smartening an occasional chair or seat cushion. At Isabel Ballardie Interiors we are always looking at ways of upcycling existing possessions and this is on the list!

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Make your home a palace

There’s a great new wallpaper collection from Cole and Son that we saw at Focus ’13 last week. It’s inspired by the architecture, gardens and interior details found in 5 of the UK’s Royal Palaces – Hampton Court, Kensington Palace, the Tower of London (not the grizzly bits), Banqueting House and Kew.

There are the more obvious elements to this collection  – such as the wall panelling at Hampton Court Palace or the gates at Banqueting House. But the real joy of this collection comes when the motifs such as the Tudor Rose – so often seen alone -or the topiary puzzle of the Hampton Court maze – again only ever really seen on a large scale – are used to create a pattern repeat that, in turn, becomes a modern looking design that at the same time oozes with history and intrigue.

For me the most successful designs are Palace Maze (really very striking) and perhaps more generally appealing Queens Key. The latter is inspired by the Greek Key decorative pattern as seen in both the Presence Chamber at Kensington Palace and Queen Charlotte’s Boudoir at Kew. Recreated as an all over wallpaper it comes in soft watercolour shades or in sharper metallic. I love it because it feels smart, it is a timeless motif, and, particularly in the softer shades, is there but not overwhelmingly so.

You can’t write about the collection and completely ignore the panelling. The Library Panel is inspired by the many wooden panelled rooms found in all of the palaces. Again, it is a timeless interior design feature and Cole and Son have brilliantly transposed it into both a wallpaper with vertical panels and a frieze with horizontal panels. I love the colourways available too – a vast array from white and cream through to sophisticated Dark Linen and moody Charcoal.

Aside from these there are some beautiful floral and damask designs which you really ought to have a quick look at. Again, the colour ways are really well thought through and the designs, despite their historic inspiration, feel fresh and exciting. Take a look at Cole and Son’s website and call us if you’d like any samples sent.



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Good move for Decorex ’13

This year saw top Interior Design exhibition Decorex move from it’s usual home on the Chelsea Embankment to Kensington Palace Gardens. I’m not sure what prompted this move but last year was windy, chandeliers were swaying precariously in the marquee and maybe heath and safety had just got a little too anxious. Whatever the reason I think this has been a positive move and, thankfully, the temptation to create an even bigger exhibition seems to have been resisted.

So, at Decorex itself the highlights for me were seeing William Yeoward’s new collection, Collected… in the flesh. It certainly wasn’t too hard to see why Decorex had given him the award for Excellence this year.

Justin Van Breda’s stand was also a head turner – such beautiful mirrors, consoles and occasional furniture. Really elegant, statement pieces available in a number of finishes.

Justin Van Breda's gorgeous four-piece mirror

Maybe it’s because we have done quite a few bedroom designs recently that I was distracted by the range of beautifully designed bedside tables on the Robert Langford stand. The finishes were everything: shiny, smooth, textured; handles were elegant and understated and the shapes – of the legs and the drawer fronts were just lovely. In terms of shapes and texture, the Podesta stand featured a simply beautiful coffee table. Curving legs, round table, reflective, slightly antiqued table top. I found myself coveting!

We spent some time having a play on the Michael Northcroft stand. His furniture looked elegant and understated and it was great to have an opportunity to ‘have a play’. Again, it’s great bedroom furniture at a reasonable price.

On the Kings Road we went to one of our favourites O&L we enjoyed Nina Campbell’s new Scottish inspired collection (and ordered in quite a few samples)! We also had fun with the Matthew Williamson collection. His Tiger design is a real delight  (although admittedly difficult to place in an interior design in Farnham) and the colourways he has selected are vibrant and upbeat. We are lucky to be working on a design for a client at the moment that calls for fuschia pinks and purples so the collection was a rich source of inspiration on that front!

Onto Walton Street and Andrew Martin where we saw his new Gallery collection of wallpapers. This is essentially tromp l’oeil gone mad. Collections of modern art, classic art, postcards, plates against a coloured backdrop is really clever. This takes you a step further than his Bookcase design but there’s a part of me that does want this somewhere…..

Gallery wallpaper at Andrew Martin




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Nicky Haslam at OKA!

There is definitely a trend for reinventing the past in furniture design! Take a look at what interior designer Nicky Haslam has just done: launched a collection for high street retailer and online provider of furniture and accessories – OKA.  It’s fun, quirky and very Nicky!

He says that the collection was inspired by pieces from his own home and by pieces he’s seen over time that he has wanted to own. He also wanted to create pieces that can be used in a number of places around the home – for example, bedside tables that can be used as side tables. On the chosen style he says “the melding of classic and new is so prevalent in decoration today, and this collection harmoniously achieves exactly what I hoped for.”

One of the eye-catchers for me is the ‘Campaign Tent’ wardrobe. 84cm in diameter and 225cm tall this has a true wow factor.  Topped by a wooden carved pine cone and with leaf-shaped handles this upholstered piece is a true feast for the eyes. It’s showing as ‘Low Stock’ already everyone!

Another piece that I thought was rather smart (although it did remind me of my convent school days) is the Walpole chair. Presumably named after Horace Walpole of Strawberry Hill fame, this chair is  Gothick in it’s design but, rather than all the fuss that I associate with that style, Haslam has designed a beautifully simple chair with discreet ornate gothic detailing.  Even I, with all the convent reminders, could imagine one in my hallway!

So well done Nicky and to OKA – judging from the interest and demand that this collaboration has already generated I think you could have a real success on your hands here! At Isabel Ballardie Interiors we’re always looking for fun, unusual pieces to suggest to clients to add to their schemes and there is a wealth of those here. Annabel Astor one of the co-founders of OKA can be seen talking to Nicky Haslam about the collection on the OKA website.




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In with the old…. and the traditional

It’s a new season and time to get familiar with the new trends! With London Fashion week next week swiftly followed by the Interior Design exhibitions ears are to the ground and fingers on the pulse for the latest new thing. But this year, the latest new thing seems to be ‘old’ and, more to the point, ‘traditional’.

To start with, two English luxury brands Wedgwood and Mulberry have collaborated on the invitations to London Fashion Week. The invitation comes in a box, embossed with a traditional stately home. A dainty Wedgwood tea cup wearing the Mulberry logo and in one of this season’s shades sits in the box. You have to say that the concept of ‘Tea time, show time’ is indeed smart and elegant and yes, traditional and formal.

So, tradition and history are appearing on many of the flyers, emails and invitations swarming through the letterbox at the moment. Spanish furniture company De La Espada have sent a video of someone hand-turning a piece of furniture, Savoir Beds have a live demo at Decorex of someone using traditional methods and materials to construct a bed. Finally, being a bore and going back to those lovely Wedgwood cups, here’s a link on their website to watch them being handmade….. http://www.mulberry.com/journal/making-a-mulberry-teacup/ I bet you do!

So, moving onto Decorex (21st – 24th September) and there is more tradition from Interior and Furniture Designer William Yeoward. He is introducing ‘collected‘… a collection of historical furniture revisited. It’s inspired, he says, by his annoyance that ‘the beautiful pieces of furniture that I have eyed and hankered after have become both extremely scarce and, when available, beyond my pocket!

The collection is far reaching in it’s historical references: Victorian Gothic consoles, Arts and Crafts arm chairs, Renaissance style tables. It’s not just the designs that are historic either: the pieces are made using original manufacturing techniques.









The comprehensive collection (it includes chairs, consoles, cupboards, tables, bureaus, desks and the list could go on) uses a selection of exciting materials – woods of every colour are mixed with marble and faux marble, brass and parquetry, carving and turning all to give a diversity rarely seen today.

So, it’s in with the old and out with the new! or is ‘old’ simply the new ‘new’? Enough – let’s go and take a look!



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Punchy new colours from Farrow & Ball

Have you seen the new colour card from Farrow and Ball? I guess that, unless you are currently choosing a paint colour, then the chances are that you haven’t. I played ‘spot the new colour’ when I received mine and, to my surprise, the new additions were not simply updates to F&B’s infamous muted palette but bright, vibrant additions that immediately had me figuring out where they would go.

So, as I looked through ‘Yellowcake’ immediately threw itself forward. An almost luminous yellow that, in interior design terms, would be fab for an accent wall in a contemporary scheme. ‘St Giles Blue’ also caught my eye. I had scoured the market a couple of months back for this colour for my son’s room so, hand on heart, I can say that this has filled a gap in their colour offering.

‘Charlotte’s Locks’ is another stunner. Orange was on the front of Vogue magazine this month and, flicking through the early catalogue arrivals, is very much on-trend. This is fresh and vibrant with no sense of burnish or earthy overtones that one might tire of at the end of the season.

There are some welcome additions to the muted ranges: ‘Ammonite’ bridges the gap between ‘Strong White’ and the much-loved ‘Cornforth White’ and I’m not sure I was aware of a ‘Mole’s breath’ before…. but that may be where my ‘spot the difference’ comes to an end.

Overall an exciting few additions to a palette that, yes, needed a little vibrancy.



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Makeover for the boys

So, it’s Beatrix Potter for the young Prince George! A good choice I think – classic, timeless, British, cute…. can’t go wrong. But what happens as boys get older and grow out of the twee pale blues or, in my case, White Company whites?
Last year, my son Freddie started to audibly tire of Bertie the Boat and his fire engine pendant light so, as you are probably aware from recent blogs, a refurb was in order. This not only involved a change in colour/ theme but a rethink of storage. Boys get big don’t they! I doubt that will be an issue at Kensington Palace but here, in more modest Farnham home, we had work to do.

We needed a more grown up feel – fun but funky, plenty of storage and space to loll about (and sulk when the time comes).

Mood board for boys bedroom

So, colour wise, Fred went for red white and blue (navy, sky, sea everything). We got a lot of paint samples with him erring on the bright and me on the muted but in the end brights won out. There are lots of rugs, duvet sets, chairs from stores such as Feather and Black, ASPACE and even Laura Ashley. This colour scheme also sets off accessories such as brightly coloured clocks, globes and movie posters really well.

Storage-wise there were a number of options – freestanding, built-in. In the end after looking at a plan of his bedroom I chose to go for built-in.

Plan of Freddie's bedroom

We took out his existing wardrobe which ran flush with the (working) chimney breast in the room and build across this space creating on the left shelving that could be shut away and on the right lots of hanging and drawer space which, again can be shut away. Sliderobes have a wonderful product in this respect and I have to say that from ordering through to installation the whole process was as painless as it could be and we are delighted with the end result (see picture below).

Wardrobe by Sliderobes

So, not only a great wardrobe but plenty of floor space for sleepovers, playing, lolling etc and room for a chair, a trunk, and a bedside….. job done (for another few years at least)!




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On the ball with lighting

On Friday Isabel and I went back to the KLC School of design in Chelsea to get up to speed with all the latest developments in the world of lighting. Sadly not the glamorous, decorative side of things but the nitty gritty of LEDs and specifying the right amount of lighting within interior designs.

The session was led by one of the industry’s most respected lighting designers Rebecca Weir of Lighting IQ who is always brilliant at taking things back to basics and then layering on the complexity.

We have done a lot of lighting schemes in our clients homes over the past 2 years or so and lighting has become one of the most asked for elements of our design work. We have done everything from large entrance halls and drawing rooms involving large decorative fittings and recessed lighting, all the way through to schemes that are just right for the needs of a busy family home.

LEDs are the topic of the moment with new-builds needing more and more energy efficient lighting and clients wanting to be greener in their energy consumption and choice of fitting. The development of LEDs is also so fast that someone like Rebecca can help us sort the good from the bad (and ugly) and get us looking for the right products from the right manufacturers that meet the ever-changing and more demanding regulations.

It has taken the LED lighting industry a while to achieve that warm glow that is genuinely comparable to the well-loved, but now pretty obsolete, incandescent light bulb. Measured in degrees Kelvin our trusty incandescents were 2700 degrees and , just in the last few months, this is now available in LED fittings. Sadly, the same cannot yet be said for the plug and play LEDs i.e. single, replaceable light bulbs – their light is still on the bright, crisp side which may not be to everyone’s taste.

So, energy efficient, small, with a good colour rendition and lasting a long time BUT they are still relatively expensive and, if a fitting does go, the whole thing needs replacing…..


On the design side I liked these tips from Rebecca and thought I would share them with you:

– Think about lighting beyond the room you are in – light outside so that at night your eye is taken beyond the interior space. This is particularly important if you have swathes of floor to ceiling glass in the room

– Keep an eye on where natural daylight is coming from and balance the scheme but don’t be afraid to leave some shadow here and there especially for a more dramatic scheme

– You can mix and match the colour rendition of fittings in schemes – have a cool light against white plaster and warmer lighting in a niche perhaps –  a great contrast

We are always happy to come and look at a potential lighting scheme no matter how big or small, simple or complex. Please ask us if you think we can help you out.





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Artful cushioning!

Cushions (good cushions) used to be the preserve of the interior designer and those clients who used interior designers. Now, cushions are available everywhere and commemorate everything: think Jubilee Union Jack and Keep Calm cushions. Interestingly, so-called designer cushions are now available in some of the bigger retailers such as Heal’s and John Lewis courtesy of some of the fabric houses. Sanderson, Harlequin and Osborne and Little all have come up with cushion collections that are readily available on the high street.

Whilst this is potentially liberating for the shopper – they can browse, choose, pay and walk off with their purchase – what does it do to the repertoire of the interior designer?

Well, to those gifted with the ability to combine colours and textures and achieve the seemingly effortless ‘wow’ factor in their interior designs then yes, the need to go to an interior designer has gone. However, this still leaves the rest of us umming and arghing, browsing for hours and quite possibly going for safe options (no ‘wow’ factor) again. it has to be said that these cushions are not cheap (Osborne and Little in the sale at Heal’s are still £80) and they are usually in standard shapes and sizes. So, again it comes back to cushioning with confidence and let’s face it interior designers are pretty good at that!

So, what’s out there? I saw a child in John Lewis hugging this ‘Mr Fox’ cushion by Scion.

And this rather elegant cushion by Osborne and Little has their embroidered ‘Shiraz’ fabric on one side and a very cuddly chenille velvet on the back.

Finally, who could resist the exuberance of this ‘Fandango’ cushion by up-and-coming design outfit Boheme. Wow!




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Designers Guild sale delights and surprises!

I’m not normally one to rush to the sales. I don’t really like the idea of pushing and shoving to get to an item that may or may not end up being a ‘bargain’. A bargain to me is something that is just what I was looking for and at the right price. Items in sales – whether they are clothes or fabrics or whatever always tend to have an element of compromise about them – slightly not the right colour or slightly too big…

Lacroix butterflies at Designers Guild

With Isabel and I already having done the Porta Romana sale just last month I wasn’t really ready for more designer bun fights. Anyway, quite by chance we found ourselves in the Kings Road enroute between seeing a client in London and heading back to our showroom in Farnham.

We lucked out on parking opposite Osborne and Little where Isabel picked up a charming Nina Campbell room fragrance set and then headed into Designers Guild. Well, talk about fabric heaven. Rolls and off-cuts of gorgeous fabrics at amazing prices. I picked up some real treasures: a William Yeoward floral, a beautiful lavender coloured velvet and an amazing silk all for about £25. I also found (imagine the surprise and disbelief) fabric for my roman blinds for my bedroom refurb! Isabel and I get quite excited when we find lots of fabrics that look great together so you can imaging the frenetic searching, deciding, choosing and hoarding that ensued!

Designers Guild don’t only do fabrics – in fact whilst waiting to pay I noticed some of the new DG wallpapers too. Check out the new Christian Lacroix butterflies above – beautiful. They also do bed linen, bathroom accessories and furniture. Sale still on so make the most….



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