Family Inspirations With Sophie Conran

For Sophie Conran, interior design and cooking are far from just a hobby, they are a way of life. With parents that have made their names in the world of food and interiors, it’s little wonder that these two things play such a big part of Sophie Conran’s day-to-day life too.

Growing up, Sophie would spend time with her Dad, Terence, in his design studio and her mum, Caroline, in her kitchen and now as a mum and business woman herself she has turned her own passion for cooking and home interiors into her work with her eponymous homeware brand

This means that a typical working day for Sophie will consist of having breakfast with her husband and children, before driving to work for a 10am start. Meeting with her team to go through their to-do lists for the day is her first task and Sophie says that she loves the fact that every day is different. “There are always various product launches to plan, licensee partners to meet with, recipes to trial, blog posts to write. The day always go by so quickly, with so much going on.”

Despite the hectic schedule, an important part of the day for Sophie and her team is lunchtime, when they all take a break together and catch up on non-work related things.

Work over and there’s often time for socialising in the evenings too. “During the week we go out quite a bit,” Sophie comments.  “There are so many exciting and diverse restaurants to go to in London, but we also cook at home too, for friends and family. My two ‘children’ (who are 18 and 21!) are living at home at the moment too and they also love cooking and entertaining.”

The weekends are just as busy, although Sophie’s focus shifts from her business to renovating the family’s house in the country. “It’s a huge project which will probably take the rest of my life!”, she laughs. “There is always so much to do so we are kept busy either in the house or in the garden, but just being there and escaping from the city is really therapeutic.”

“Quite often the whole family will come down for the weekend and we go on long walks, cook lunches and dinners and then settle in by the fire.”

Sophie draws a great deal of inspiration from her mum when making her house into a home. She says: “My mum is very ethereal and inspirational in the way she applies technique and colour. My own home is comfortable, uplifting and homely. My kitchen has bold pink walls, with open shelving packed with all my kitchen tools.

“My bedroom and home office have a softer palette of pastels that’s very calming, while my sitting room has lots of red and orange to create energy. I like to use colour to create the atmosphere most appropriate for the use of the room.”

Growing up in a very busy household means that Sophie takes great joy from entertaining regularly at home and is used to having lots of people around. “It’s great to have get-togethers and spend time with friends and family. I love cooking and I also enjoy decorating the table and making beautiful floral centrepieces. I think good food is important, but it shouldn’t take over the evening. Pies are perfect for this! They are easy as you cook them before-hand. Love is the most important ingredient!”

“I’m a keen cook and my favourite dish changes with the seasons. At the moment I am cooking lots with beans and pulses and root vegetables. They are my current favourites.”

With such a love of entertaining and cooking, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Sophie’s favourite room in her home is the kitchen. “It is the heart of our home and is a very creative space. I spend most of my time in the kitchen, whether it be cooking, having friends over for coffee, eating with the family or just relaxing and reading a book.”

When it comes to complete downtime though, Sophie admits she likes nothing better than enjoying a quiet night in with her husband, and indulging in a hot bath with delicious bath oils and candles. “I love sitting by the fire in a pair of cashmere tracksuit bottoms, hand-knitted socks and a big jumper!”

Article written by Kelly Lavender taken from January 2014 issue of Heart Home magazine.

Cordello Home Launches New Signature Collection

Cordello Home is delighted to introduce their new Signature Collection, a stylish and contemporary range designed to add a cheerful pop of pattern to the breakfast table.

Using a sophisticated blue accent hue, the Signature Collection comprises hand decorated fine bone china pieces, a round birch wood tray handmade in Sweden and a lambswool throw woven in Scotland.

The collection has the ritual of breakfast at its heart, celebrating the most important meal of the day. The fine bone china pieces include a cup & saucer, side plate, eggcup and teapot, whose chic geometric patterns are perfectly complemented by the inverted bold marine blue design of the round tray.

Completing the collection is a superfine Geelong lambswool throw, perfect for snuggling up with on a chilly autumn morning.

Kate Shaw is the founder and design director of Cordello Home, which launched in July 2014. Following a successful career in banking, Kate followed in her father’s footsteps and returned to her design heritage roots and, together with her husband, set up a global design agency that uses a distinctive heart in their logo. This in turn became the inspiration behind the Cordello Home brand.

Here Heart Home catches up with the lovely designer in question…

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m very passionate about things I believe in. I commit totally to whatever I’ve decided to do and have always worked exceptionally hard. I truly believe that you cannot expect anything without hard work. I am a little impatient though and cannot sit still, always challenging myself and those around me – I don’t want to be ordinary and I’m so inspired by other people’s achievement.

2. How would you describe your design style?

Eclectic! I love a variety of styles from mid-century to art deco, pattern and colour. 

3. Where do you find inspiration?

Interiors magazines, Instagram, Italy and generally when I’m travelling.

4. Name 3 things you cannot live without?

iPhone, 8 hour cream & good Italian coffee

5. Which is your favourite room in your home and why?

Tricky one, it’s between our kitchen, which has been extended and we planned it for about 2 years before we did it. But I also love my dressing room as it’s such a luxury to have a dressing table (from Nina Campbell) and a shoe cabinet (decadent!)

6. Name someone who has inspired you and how?

Paul Smith – from starting his working life in a warehouse to building his globally renowned business and still involved in every aspect of his business. He has created a true brand, one of quality and instantly recognisable from clothes to interiors. I also love his attitude – he has been quoted as saying “take it easy, grow gently and you’ll have a lovely life” - wise words to take onboard.

7. Currently you are listening to?

Communion album by Years & Years

8. What other profession would you secretly like to have sampled?

Long ago I really wanted to be a journalist

9. What’s your favourite meal?

Breakfast – eggs in any form, but particularly poached

10. If there were a fire what 3 things would you save from your home?

My husband (clearly!), my two cats and my Art Deco standard lamp 

11. If there was one person you could meet who would it be?

Jonathan Adler - at his home on Shelter Island please!

12. What is your favourite colour?

Purple

13. What is your star sign?

Libra 

14. What is your favourite city to visit and why?

I love Miami as it has everything – fantastic history and wonderful art deco architecture, gorgeous beaches and fabulous restaurants. It can be relaxing as well as party central.

15. Describe your perfect weekend.

One where I don’t have to work… Saturday morning involves a lie in, gym session then a big brunch. A perfect Saturday night would be spent with friends at one of our local restaurants. Sunday is all about Sunday lunches with family and friends, and a relaxing afternoon catching up on my magazines, and on my iPad looking at property and interiors!

The Signature Collection will debut at Home London and Tent London in September 2015.

At Home With Hannah Russell From Layer Home

Hannah Russell is one half of the mother-daughter team at Layer Home, and founder member of new online interiors community at{mine}, which helps design lovers to discover real interiors from across the globe. You can sign up now to become part of the at{mine} community and discover the inspirational stories, people and brands behind beautiful real interiors today.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I moved back from living and working in Berlin last year and am now based in Peckham. Having always imagined I would be a journalist or a creative of some sort, I sort of fell into a career in technology. I absolutely love it now and wouldn't have it any other way. I've worked with small growing companies and love the freedom to get involved in so many different aspects of a business - I'm even dipping my toe into the water doing some basic coding at the moment for a new business initiative called Layer that I recently founded. 

I discovered my love of beautiful midcentury and antique furniture whilst I was living in Berlin, visiting different flea markets all over the city every weekend. Since I've come back to the UK I took this passion even further by founding Layer with my Mum. My Mum has the best eye for style and design of anyone I've ever met and it's amazing to work with her on this! We produce content twice a week about styling different interiors spaces with the fusion of old and new pieces, interviews with traders of antique and midcentury furniture and before/after shots of renovations. We're planning to develop the website and have some big plans coming this Summer! 

Where do you live?

I live on a street of beautiful Victorian terraces in Peckham, South-East London and my house is the odd one out at the end of the street! It was built within the last twenty years or so and was a bit of an ugly duckling when we first bought it. 

I adore living in the area - perfectly squashed between Peckham and Camberwell, opposite the Art College. I also have a desk at a local co-working space called The Office Club in Peckham so I spend a lot of time in the area. It feels like a community - I go down to a juice stall called Ali Baba's to get my morning juice before work most days and I love that there's loads of new places to eat and drink popping up all the time. 

Who do you live with?

I live with my boyfriend, Tom, and my sister, Faith. 

Tell us a little bit about your home.

The house had been rented out to students for a long time when we first purchased the property, and so it was very tired and run down. The downstairs was dark and cramped and all of the bedrooms were weird shapes upstairs. 

We did a huge amount of renovation work, which I project managed myself. I'm lucky that my Mum has been working in the property industry for over twenty years so she could point me in all the right directions - we called in all the favours we could think of from family members and friends! 

Now, it's a beautiful place to live and I love coming home here everyday. My favourite space is the courtyard in the summer. It feels so much bigger since we painted it white - we even held a small yoga class out here a few weeks ago. Admittedly there were only three students! 

What made you choose to live here in this property?

After viewing three other disastrous properties the same day, this house was the last one that we viewed and first impressions were that it was a run-down ugly duckling house on a beautiful road! Once we were inside it was clear that there was a huge amount of potential. Having the outside space also made a huge difference to the decision - it's such a treat to have your own private garden in London. 

What improvements have you made?

Everything! We rallied the troops and the place was completely gutted. The kitchen and living room area was the focus as we knocked down a wall to make everything open plan but had to make sure that there were still enough zones for all the functions of a house that we needed. 

I was lucky that I could beg, steal and borrow a lot of furniture from my Mum and other family members when we first moved in, but since then I've been picking up special pieces from the markets that we go to and the traders that we visit. I particularly love midcentury pieces - and I'm so enjoying learning about the different eras and designers.  

What's your favourite room?

It's not strictly a room, but definitely the courtyard. Or more accurately, the courtyard and kitchen when we pull back the huge bi-fold doors and the whole area feels like one big outside-inside space. 

I've got vintage mirrors and garden furniture which give the space outside some colour and a wall of herbs which I'm fruitlessly trying to keep alive. 

How has your home interior been inspired by your fellow at{mine} community members?

The at{mine} community is just amazing and it's so lovely to be able to get a sneak peak into people's homes. I'm so nosy that I could spend hours snooping around. It's great when you see colour schemes or combinations of different types of furniture thrown together that you wouldn't otherwise have thought about. 

Describe your perfect day spent at home. 

I love to potter about the house - so a Saturday morning for me is almost always spent at home. I like to have a leisurely breakfast of avocado on toast, some fresh mint tea and sit out in the garden to acclimatise to the day. I'll do a bit of yoga or some chores, and I love to move things around in the house. My boyfriend always says that he never knows what the house is going to look like when he comes back from a trip! 

Been inspired by what you’ve seen? You can find more lovely images of Hannah’s home over on at{mine}. Don’t forget, to sign up now to become part of the at{mine} community and discover the inspirational stories, people and brands behind beautiful real interiors today.

At Home With Interior Designer Janice Issitt

Janice Issitt is an interior designer and founder member of new online interiors community at{mine}, which helps design lovers to discover real interiors from across the globe. You can sign up now to become part of the at{mine} community and discover the inspirational stories, people and brands behind beautiful real interiors today.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up in Hertfordshire and moved to London with my first job in the 1980s. I worked in the music business for twenty years, in various companies and roles ending up as Head of International Promotions at a record company.  I’ve always made things, stained glass, embroidery, silversmithing, etc. and have also always taken photos, back to when we used film.  After being made redundant I started to sell what I made at Camden Market, Country Living Fairs and so on, working from the table in my flat in Crouch End.

2. Where do you live?

I moved from London eight years ago for more space and a complete change of life.

Having lost both my parents and several good friends I decided to start life anew in a country village surrounded by thatched cottages and lots of wildlife. I now live in a village near Aylesbury, there is one pub and a church and two buses a day. I’ve swapped the North Circular for country lanes and green as far as the eye can see, the only traffic jams being if you get stuck behind a tractor.

3. Tell us a little bit about your home. What made you choose to live here in this property?

My home was a project purchase, I really wanted to do more interior designing and decorating, having done quite a few improvements to my London flat where I taught myself to design kitchens and put back original features.  So the house I bought was in the perfect location but needed totally refurbishing.

Having had lovely large rooms in London, with high ceilings, we soon found out that this is rare in country properties.  So we had to rule out low ceilings and beams as my partner is 6ft.5 inches, and literally couldn’t stand up in some of the cottages we looked at.  We found a detached house with big back and front gardens, big enough for a garden studio for music and parking for several cars, however, the room sizes and shapes are not ideal, mostly being long and narrow, but this was our compromise.

4. What improvements have you made?

Decorating is easy - taking away the 1980’s wallpaper and carpets didn’t take too long - but as I was doing it all myself, I found that painting over all the dark wood (every single door, window frame, bannisters) was the most time consuming thing.

I painted every inch, even the kitchen cupboards.  To start with I chose neutral colours, and lived with the lighter and brighter rooms for about a year before I started to add my trademark colour combinations.  I also made all the curtains and soft furnishings, taught myself how to re-cover chairs and sofas and up-cycle furniture bought at auction.

I believe you have to live in a space for a while before you can decide how it should be, what is its functionality, how much time do you spend in that room and what is it you like to do there.  There is no point having a formal dining room if you never sit and have dinner with anyone, you would be better off using that space as a workroom, for instance.  So when you first move somewhere, I recommend painting it a light colour and don’t make any rash decisions about what each room is going to be. If you have two small rooms that don’t get used then knock them into one big one that does get used.

Once you have figured out what you do in each room them you can start to add the colours. If you want to be very calm, say in a bedroom, then keep it pastel. If the lounge is about daytime activity then have exciting colours that invigorate. Bright colours work well in places like halls, where you don’t sit at look at them all day but are cheerful to walk past.

So what improvements have I made, well everything really.  I reconfigured the upstairs, knocking down two walls to make the tiny bathroom and tiny back bedroom into one big bathroom with a claw-foot bath at one end and a shower at the other.

The house looks like a Victorian cottage from the outside, but as it was built in the 1980s between a row of houses from the 1800’s and a 15th Century thatch, it had to blend in.  Inside this was not the case. So I found things like, a cast iron fireplace from 1890 and put that in, the kitchen was orange pine wood units which I painted and then had reclaimed wood surfaces made, butler sinks and such fitted. I changed the utility area from being all white melamine to being vintage style, a blue SMEG fridge, and curtains covering the washing machine and dishwasher. Shelves display my collections of kitchenalia.

I found old Georgian shutters for one window, and despite the fact that they are the wrong size for the window, everyone loves them and thinks they are original to the building.  The floor was concrete and covered in carpets on the ground floor.  It took me ages to find the right carpenter who would do what I wanted and put down reclaimed pine floorboards.  The boards were cut from old church beams and have character and imperfections.   My personal taste is for things with imperfections and a history. If something is hand made I want it to look hand made.

5. What's your favourite room?

I’m not sure I have a favourite room, although I do love the vibe in my lounge, with its strong coloured walls and collections of ethnic and vintage textiles and original art.  However I spend a lot of time in my bedroom, with the cats all around me, working on laptop and phone while watching films.

6. How has your home interior been inspired by your fellow at{mine} community members?

at{mine} is a great reference place for interiors, I like to see what people are doing who have a different aesthetic to mine. Urban Jungle Bloggers and Styling The Seasons are both great fun to follow particularly because I never stop changing my home, seasonally painting walls and using nature to reflect those seasons too.  Rugs and quilts go in and out of the loft depending on weather.  I have found that seeing plant arrangements has got me buying houseplants and succulents now.  I’m also discovering new brands that I can work into my boho eclectic style.

7. Describe your perfect day spent at home. 

My perfect day spent at home would be one where the weather is glorious.  I then may put down the laptop, open up all the French windows onto the garden and enjoy the work we have done there.  I’ve just planted a rose garden outside the French windows and am hoping that by next year there will be an abundance of scents wafting around.  The cats (four of them) all join us in the garden for fun and games and even our blind cat frolics around when it’s sunny.

Been inspired by what you’ve seen? You can find more lovely images of Janice’s home over on at{mine}. Don’t forget, to sign up now to become part of the at{mine} community and discover the inspirational stories, people and brands behind beautiful real interiors today.

At Home With Hello Mrs Eve

Kea from Hello Mrs Eve is a German interiors blogger and founder member of new online interiors community at{mine}, which helps design lovers to discover real interiors from across the globe. Heart Home readers are exclusively invited to sign up now to become part of the at{mine} community and discover the inspirational stories, people and brands behind beautiful real interiors today.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Kea, a freelance graphic designer and illustrator based in Wiesbaden and Berlin. In addition to my job my second passion is interior design. For this past year I’ve been sharing this love for furniture and decoration on my blog hello-mrs-eve. I have also just set up an on-and-offline community for female Berlin bloggers. The first meetings with the girls have been so inspiring – I love seeing them supporting and encouraging each other.

2. Where do you live?

My homebase is Wiesbaden, a city in the south-west of Germany, but since January I have also had an apartment in Berlin, so commute every three weeks back and forth.

3. Who do you live with?

In Wiesbaden I live with my husband and our two cheeky cats, whose playfulness thwart all my ideas for houseplants or still-lifes of porcelain vases! During my time in Berlin  I have my little own place, my “girls-room”, as I call it.  Writing it down, it reminds me of Carrie’s single apartment in Sex and the City, that she keeps while living together with Big.

4.  Tell us a little bit about your home.

I immediately fell in love with our flat in Wiesbaden when I saw the pictures on the internet. It’s an Altbau maisonette with five small rooms. Our bedroom is so tiny, there is just enough room for the bed and a little wardrobe – but the small rooms with pitched roofs make it cosy in no time. There are many details, like old wooden doors and windows. The brick wall in the kitchen was a lucky chance – after water damage in the adjoining house the plaster had to be removed to dry the wall. Fortunately, I was able to persuade the owner to keep it that way.

5. What made you choose to live here in this property?

In Wiesbaden we live in a small district within the old city walls of an old castle that sits on a hill above our house. We are surrounded by half-timbered houses and woken by the bells of a church built in the 15th century right next to our house. It is an idyllic place to live and I love the woods around us. As much as I enjoy living there, I also need the contrast and big city environment of Berlin. The lively atmosphere, plenty little shops, cafés and galleries, creative people everywhere – I am inspired wherever I look. I’m so lucky to call two places like this my home.

6. What improvements have you made? 

Since it is an apartment for rent, our possibilities for changes are limited. But if I could: I would replace the laminate with floorboard, there is nothing better than a creaky wooden floor under naked feet. I would also get rid of the carpet in the staircase and add a bath tub – the only thing, I’m really missing on cold winter days.

7.  What’s your favourite room?

My dining room. First, I was unsure if the wallpaper would be too much for the small room, but I love the result. It's a great place to sit with friends and have dinner not being disturbed by television or the waiting dirty dishes. When I sit at the table, I automatically relax and and enjoy the moment.

8. How has your home interior been inspired by your fellow at{mine} community members?

What I like about at{mine} is the great variety of styles. Because the members come from all over the world, I get a variety of ideas how to decorate, paint walls or use home textiles to create a certain atmosphere. There is no “right way to do it”  – English country style, Scandinavian purity, easy bohemian homes, everything is possible. I  benefit from the diversity – it makes me search for my very own style and not a fixed given answer; how to make a house a home.

9. Describe your perfect day spent at home.

The first thing I see in the morning is the smile of my husband. Since we spend only half our time together, we value our togetherness as much more precious. In summer, we have breakfast outside in the little courtyard. Afterwards I decorate the dining room with fresh flowers from the market and try to keep my cats from eating them! Throughout the day I work at my fifties-style desk or take pictures for my next blog post.

At tea time I relax on my beloved Knoll Daybed, going through interior magazines, surrounded by many cushions and my soft blanket. In the evening friends come over for dinner and we laugh and talk late into the night.

Been inspired by what you’ve seen? You can find more lovely images of Kea’s home over on at{mine}. Don’t forget, Heart Home readers are exclusively invited to sign up now to become part of the at{mine} community and discover the inspirational stories, people and brands behind beautiful real interiors today.

At Home With Cate St Hill

Cate St Hill is architecture journalist, design and interiors blogger and founder member of new online interiors community at{mine}, which helps design lovers to discover real interiors from across the globe. Heart Home readers are exclusively invited to sign up now to become part of the at{mine} community and discover the inspirational stories, people and brands behind beautiful real interiors today.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m an architectural journalist by day (at Blueprint magazine) and a design and interiors blogger by night. I’ve also just finished writing my first book on temporary architecture for the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

2. Where do you live?

I live on the cusp of Bloomsbury and King’s Cross, not far from the Brunswick Centre, with my French boyfriend. We live in a two bedroom flat in a four-storey, red-brick block from the 1930s. I love the area, it’s super well-connected and an easy 20 minute walk away from Covent Garden or Angel; King’s Cross has really changed over the past few years and we’re spoilt for choice with coffee shops and restaurants. My favourite street in London, Lamb’s Conduit Street, is also not far – I love to pick up books at Persephone bookshop or browse the small independent boutiques.

3. Who do you live with?

I’ve been living with my boyfriend for a year and half, I bought the flat when I was a student at UCL and lived here with two friends during my studies and for a couple of years afterwards to save money. My bedroom was the living room, so it’s lovely now to have a proper living room and spare bedroom!

4. Tell us a little bit about your home.

Our flat is no 13, some people would think that’s unlucky, but I don’t (yet!). We’re on the third floor and even though it’s right in the centre of town, it’s a lovely quiet flat, and being south-facing it’s very light. We have two generously sized bedrooms, one of which doubles as our home office and a room we let out on airbnb. The living room is the hub of the home and has a small balcony where I try to exercise my green fingers, we’ve got herbs, clematis, lavender and sunflowers at the moment.

We’ve gone for quite a neutral colour palette – everything is painted white or a very light grey, we wanted to keep it light and calm, with a bit of a Scandi vibe, and let some of the accessories do the talking.  

5. What made you choose to live here in this property?

At the time I was a student at nearby UCL so it seemed like the perfect location, I wanted to be within walking distance of the university and King’s Cross back then, in 2006, was pretty run-down, and relatively cheap! When I bought the flat, it was looking a bit sad, with terrible wallpaper and an ancient kitchen and bathroom, but I could see the potential of the large rooms (much larger than you’d get in a modern property, with their dwindling space standards…) with their big sash windows and wanted a little project to do up and make it my own.

6. What improvements have you made? 

When I first moved in with friends as a student we completely gutted it and redecorated, installed a new kitchen from Ikea (that’s lasted remarkably well), a new bathroom, laid down wood flooring, but we kept it quite basic for a student flat (lots of good old Ikea!). When my boyfriend moved in a year and half ago, we had another renovating session, re-plastered some of the dodgy walls, which had hideous bumpy 70’s wallpaper, gave everything a new lick of paint and invested in some nicer, more classic, longer lasting, mid-century furniture, such as Ercol chairs, a Saarinen-style round tulip table, String shelving and an Eames chair. 

7.  What’s your favourite room?

My favourite room is probably the living room, just because for so many years I didn’t have one! It was my favourite room to decorate and source items for. It’s painted in Little Greene’s French Grey and features a grey Ikea sofa, pattered grey rug from Urban Outfitters (bit of a grey theme going on there, my boyfriend’s surname does mean ‘the grey’ in French… just a coincidence I’m sure!) and has lots of shelving for my art and architecture books. It’s also where I like to display all my knick-knacks, sourced from vintage markets or from travels abroad – I love mixing old with new, for example placing an old piece of furniture against a crisp white wall or a modern shelving system, such as the String, with vintage cups lined on it.

Most of all, I love flinging the French doors open in the summer, seeing the balcony in bloom and letting the sunshine flood in. I don’t think I’d be able to live somewhere now without a small outdoor space, it really lifts the feel of the space.  

8. How has your home interior been inspired by your fellow at{mine} community members?

Yes definitely, I’m inspired by some of my favourite bloggers who use the site: Apartment Apothecary, Igor Josif, Lapin Blu, Curate & Display to name a few. They’ve inspired me to think carefully about styling surfaces, not to keep everything the same all the time and to make little, incremental changes every now and then to keep a home fresh and clean.

9. Describe your perfect day spent at home.

My perfect day would start with a lazy breakfast in bed with the newspapers and fresh croissants bought (by the boyfriend!) from a small French patisserie round the corner from the flat called Patisserie Deux Amies on Judd Street. I love cooking and entertaining friends, so we’d have a big picnic style lunch (cous cous salads, roasted vegetables, charcuterie etc) with the doors to the living room open. I’d then nip out to Columbia Road Flower Market to pick up flowers for the house and a couple of plants for the balcony and spend the afternoon reading one of my favourite Persephone books sitting in the sun.

Been inspired by what you’ve seen? You can find more lovely images of Cate’s home over on at{mine}. Don’t forget, Heart Home readers are exclusively invited to sign up now to become part of the at{mine} community and discover the inspirational stories, people and brands behind beautiful real interiors today.

A Stylish Apartment In Milan

Heart Home takes a tour around Paola Secchiaroli's stunning Milan Apartment. Based in the buzzing area of Navigli, this old Italian apartment has been totally restyled. We chat to Paola about how it all came about.

 1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Paola, a communication and events consultant.

2.  Where do you live?

I live in Milan, in the Navigli area, a very lively district full of small, typical artisan shops, cozy cafes and restaurants, art galleries. The last Sunday of the month there's a very popular traditional antiques market where we bought a lot of stuff for our house.

3.  Who do you live with?

I live with my husband Roberto and my 5 years old boy Leonardo.

4. Tell us a little bit about your home.

It’s a semidetached house built around 1950,  which we bought in 2006. It’ surrounded by trees, gardens and parks. Sometimes it’s hard to believe we actually live in the city!

5.  What made you choose to live here in this property?

The house was in bad condition, but we could instantly appreciate the light and the large space... It was not easy to see the potential at the beginning, but we are now so very happy with the result!

6. What improvements have you made?

We actually refurbushed it completely, it really needed to be modernized! We also wanted to re-organise the space: an open space living room, two bathrooms, two bedrooms and a study/ guest room.

7.  How big a job was it?

It was very big job and we were not ready at all! I’m all about styling and decorating, but dealing with builders and technical issues is certainly not my strength  - fortunately there was my husband for that ;).

8. Were there any particular problems to overcome?

Luckily there wasn’t any.

9.  What are you most proud of in your home?

Probably the living room: it’s very spacious, bright and well organised. It certainly is the room where we spend most of the time together.  

10.  Where do you find inspiration?

I would say almost everywhere: pictures that I see on internet, TV or magazines, or something I see in a restaurant or a hotel during our travels, while I walk in the city,…

At Home With Agata Witkowicz

Agata Witkowicz is a Polish interior design blogger and founder member of new online interiors community at{mine}, which helps design lovers to discover real interiors from across the globe. Heart Home readers are exclusively invited to sign up now to become part of the at{mine} community and discover the inspirational stories, people and brands behind beautiful real interiors today.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I run the webshop Kapibara, selling interesting, clever and beauty home accessories in Scandinavian style. I’ve also started my own production, its a Kinkallo brand – just the beginning of a great adventure! I love design and beauty, clean lines and proportions - just like Pythagoras concept of harmony. I used to live in Cracow, the former Polish capital, but two years ago we moved to Polish seaside.

2. Where do you live?

I live in Gdynia, a city and seaport on the Baltic Sea in Northern Poland. It's a young city (est. 1920), a Polish symbol of modernity. We live in the old part of the city, in a Modernist tenement house built in 1936.

3. Who do you live with?

I live with my husband and our 3 boys: 12 year old Stas, 10 year old Julian and 6 year old Feliks.

4. Tell us a little bit about your home.

We live in spacious 2 bedroom apartment. It has a beautiful oak floor and a lot of light. When we moved in we knocked down a wall between  the kitchen and living room to get a nice open area – I really love that room now. In the kitchen we put in black and white tiles, which look nice in contrast to the wooden floor.

5. What made you choose to live here in this property?

I love the Modernism era and buildings from that time, all the details, high ceilings, and nice floors, so this was perfect. We also wanted to live close to the beach and city centre, so our home is ideally located.

6. What improvements have you made? 

We are still planning some improvements, but have already changed the floor plan by making one big kitchen  / living room area. The bathroom is still waiting for improvement- we would like to change out the old tiles to white metro tiles.

7.  What’s your favourite room?

The open plan kitchen / living room is my favourite space in the house. We spend here a lot a time during a day, preparing meals together, watching TV. I like the light, airy space we've made in that kitchen, and the contrast between the black kitchen island against the white wall.

8. How has your home interior been inspired by your fellow at{mine} community members?

I like all the home greenery and flowers pots I see on at{mine} and enjoy watching new trends emerge, such as small macramas. I also enjoy spotting kids rooms as I’m still improving the boys room so am looking for inspiration.

9. Describe your perfect day spent at home.

My perfect day at home starts with cup of coffee, then I get kids ready for school, tidy up after them and then I'm ready to start working. I love my job, having opportunity to work at home, the same time waiting for boys, preparing dinner … Just an ordinary day.

Been inspired by what you’ve seen? You can find more lovely images of Agata’s home over on at{mine}. Don’t forget, Heart Home readers are exclusively invited to sign up now to become part of the at{mine} community and discover the inspirational stories, people and brands behind beautiful real interiors today.

At Home With Benedicte Clouet

Benedicte Clouet is a French stylist and founder member of new online interiors community at{mine}, which helps design lovers to discover real interiors from across the globe. Heart Home readers are exclusively invited to sign up now to become part of the at{mine} launch community and receive early access to the inspirational stories, people and brands behind beautiful real interiors today.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Benedicte, a French Stylist, and mother of 4.

2. Where do you live?

I’ve lived in London for 10 years now.

3. Who do you live with?    

With my husband and kids.

4. Tell us a little bit about your home.

Our flat is a light and simple place, surrounded by trees in a Victorian brick mansion block. It is a 5 bedroom flat on one floor, with beautiful high ceilings. The décor is minimalistic/Scandinavian style. I love wood, craftsmanship and attention to detail.

5. What made you choose to live here in this property?

The light, the space, the silence and circulation in the flat.

6. What improvements have you made? 

We’ve added lots of bespoke wood furniture and curtains to dress the windows.

7. Where do you find inspiration?

In art and nature.

8. Describe your perfect day spent at home.

On Saturday mornings we all get up leisurely and enjoy a French family breakfast with croissants and pain au chocolat, and spend the rest of the day listening to music, reading books, and enjoying family moments.

Been inspired by what you’ve seen? You can find more lovely images of Benedicte’s home over on at{mine}. Don’t forget, Heart Home readers are exclusively invited to sign up now to become part of the at{mine} launch community and receive early access to the inspirational stories, people and brands behind beautiful real interiors today.

Photography © Sophie Denux, from Toc Toc Toc. 

At Home With Emmanuelle Rio

Emmanuelle Rio is the founder of online interiors emporium Belgrave Place and a founding member of new online interiors community at{mine}, which helps design lovers to discover real interiors from across the globe. Heart Home readers are exclusively invited to sign up now to become part of the at{mine} launch community and receive early access to the inspirational stories, people and brands behind beautiful real interiors today.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am French and moved to London after University. I worked in the City for 10 years and after I had my first son I decided to devote my time to what I am truly passionate about: home interiors. During my financial career, I had taken a break to get an MBA at Columbia in New York and the classes on Entrepreneurship gave me the confidence to start my own business. I could see the way forward was e-commerce and there was little in the home décor space so I decided to launch Belgrave Place. 

2. Where do you live?

I live in a green corner of West London in a Victorian house.

3. Who do you live with?

I live with my husband and my two boys, Santiago, 4 and Eduardo, 1.

4. Tell us a little bit about your home.

It is a quintessentially family home with all the stairs(!), the sweet garden and the welcoming kitchen which is of course the center of the house…

5. What made you choose to live here in this property?

I fell in love with the surrounding greenery and the views on the gardens and trees. A little piece of heaven in a big city…I feel almost in the countryside at home!

6. What improvements have you made? 

When we bought the house it belonged to a nice American lady who had kept it very neat but the décor was a little out of date so we refurbished the whole house. We also did an extension in the kitchen to have a larger room as we knew we would end up spending so much time there.

We were not shy on colours, fabrics and wallpapers. I love colours and wanted a happy home. And I love prints for bedrooms for each bedroom either has a wallpaper or a fabric on the walls. We mixed various influences and have some indian pieces next to some traditional French antiques. We also redesigned the garden and added some beautiful lanterns from Morocco.

7. What’s your favourite room?

Our bedroom.  It is fill with light and has an airy and joyful Bennison fabric on the walls. We found a charming indian bench that lays at the end of our bed and a beautiful Venetian mirror for the wall.

8. Where do you find inspiration?

I love the blog Habitually Chic written by the New Yorker Heather Clawson. She has a great eye and sense of colours. People’s homes, hotels and the opera and ballet for the costumes color’s mixes.

9. Describe your perfect day spent at home.

It would be a summer day filled with sunshine. I would cook in the kitchen with the doors open to the garden and the children would play outside meanwhile. We would have a nice lunch with friends in the garden and spend the afternoon with a nice glass of wine watching the children…

Been inspired by what you’ve seen? You can find more lovely images of Emmanuelle’s home over on at{mine}. Don’t forget, Heart Home readers are exclusively invited to sign up now to become part of the at{mine} launch community and receive early access to the inspirational stories, people and brands behind beautiful real interiors today.

At Home With Anna Rose From Otago Design

Anna Rose runs design studio Otago Design and is founder member of new online interiors community at{mine}, which helps design lovers to discover real interiors from across the globe. Heart Home readers are exclusively invited to sign up now to become part of the at{mine} launch community and receive early access to the inspirational stories, people and brands behind beautiful real interiors today.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m an Interior designer and run the design studio Otago Design with my partner Edwin Sercombe. We work with artisans from marginalized communities to create collections of fine objects for the contemporary interior.

2. Who do you live with?

Two of my best girl friends

3. Tell us a little bit about your home?

My house was built in 1881 and is an Artisan Cottage. It is double fronted which is lovely as it allows in a lot of light. It has two stories and tree bedrooms. I rent two of the rooms and also use one room as a studio for my company Otago Design

4. What made you choose to live here in this property?

The house is very charming. It is small yet well proportioned and has a lovely little garden. It was quite rundown when I brought it so there was opportunity to remodel it as I wanted.

5. What improvements have you made?

I removed the chimneybreast in the dinning room and the bedroom above to give the rooms better flow. I replace some of the windows with new windows that were in keeping with the architectural vernacular. While I was doing this I enlarged some of the openings to allow even more light in. I replace the whole of the ground floor floor with a beautiful herringbone wooden flooring. I up cycled the existing Ikea kitchen by adding a new cast concrete surface and a slate surface and adding vintage cupboards for the high level storage. I re did the bathroom so that it is super practical and makes the most of the space.

6. What’s your favorite room?

The sitting room

7. Where do you find inspiration?

Everywhere, especially Africa and Devon!

8. Describe your perfect day spent at home.

A long lie-in followed by breakfast with my housemates, maybe pancakes and fruit. Then Bobbin (my dog) will need a walk on Hampstead Heath. Back for BBQ lunch in the garden with some white wine then drinks and dinner with friends…

Been inspired by what you’ve seen? You can find more lovely images of Anna’s home over on at{mine}. Don’t forget, Heart Home readers are exclusively invited to sign up now to become part of the at{mine} launch community and receive early access to the inspirational stories, people and brands behind beautiful real interiors today.

At Home With Heidi Maude From at{mine}

Heidi Maude is a Belgian interior and props stylist and founder member of new online interiors community at{mine}, which helps design lovers to discover real interiors from across the globe. Heart Home readers are exclusively invited to sign up now to become part of the at{mine} launch community and receive early access to the inspirational stories, people and brands behind beautiful real interiors today.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Heidi Maude, I’m an interiors stylist and creative consultant working with ad companies, magazines and private clients.  (www.heidimaude.com) Our house is used as a location house for filming and photographic shoots.

2. Where do you live?

We live on the Mapesbury Conservation Area in Willesden Green.

3. Who do you live with?    

My husband Gavin who is an entertainment lawyer, our 2 children Ella-Marie, 14 and Louis, 11, our Birman cat Suba and soon a labrador puppy, so far called Bailey but the verdict is still out on that one…

4. Tell us a little bit about your home.

It’s an Edwardian semi, built in 1910, which we bought in 2010.

5. What made you choose to live here in this property?

We didn’t have much choice I tell you, we bought at the height of the credit crunch, it took us nearly 2 years to find. I saw every North London house for sale between Crouch End and Kensal Rise! It was in a real state and hadn’t received any love since the 80s, but I knew it had good bones and I could make something of it.

6. What improvements have you made? 

Just about everything: new kitchen, new bathrooms, turned the top floor 1 bedroom flat into our master bedroom, new plumbing and radiators, a small extension, new drive and garden design… Quite an extensive refurbishment, all whilst living in it!! I have the nicest, most considerate builders…

7. What’s your favourite room?

My bedroom all the way at the top of the house - 1 floor between me and the rest of the family - I watch Saturday kitchen in the bath, sort out my wardrobe for the rest of the week, generally mooch around basically. Or my prop studio where a quiet session of getting creative with BBC 6 Music on in the background fills my battery right up again…

8. Where do you find inspiration?

Anywhere and everywhere… A lifelong interiors mags addiction, a recently acquired Pinterest obsession which I’m only just recovering from, movies (I’m more interested in the decor than the plot!), there are quite a few excellent interiors books being published at the moment too! I’m planning a major going back to basics cause our house feels too busy, I tend to be inspired by nature when starting new projects.

9. Describe your perfect day spent at home.

My Saturday morning me-time, followed by getting creative with the kids at the kitchen table, or having friends over for lunch, then papers or knitting on the sofa in front of the fire or a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad on Netflix, or a good book in bed - any combination of the above really.

Been inspired by what you’ve seen? You can find more lovely images of Heidi’s home over on at{mine}. Don’t forget, Heart Home readers are exclusively invited to sign up now to become part of the at{mine} launch community and receive early access to the inspirational stories, people and brands behind beautiful real interiors today.

 Photography © Rachael Smith

At Home With Katy Orme From Apartment Apothecary

Katy Orme is the award-winning interior design blogger behind Apartment Apothecary and co-founder of monthly blogging series, Styling the Seasons. Her popular blog showcases creative DIY and craft projects, room makeovers and simple but effective design tips. Katy is also a founder member of new online interiors community at{mine}, which helps design lovers to discover real interiors from across the globe. Heart Home readers are exclusively invited to sign up now to become part of the at{mine} launch community and receive early access to the inspirational stories, people and brands behind beautiful real interiors today.

1.     Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve always been obsessed with interiors, which probably began when I was 11 years old when we moved house and my parents asked if I wanted to decorate my own bedroom. I thought that was the best thing that had ever happened to me and proudly got on with painting the walls peach with sponged pale pink on top - not sure that would be my choice now! From that point onwards I redecorated my bedroom every year and did a bathroom, living room and kitchen makeover for my parents over the years before I went off to university.

I read History at Leeds because I was told and believed art and creative ‘stuff’ would never earn me any money so I ended up training as a secondary school teacher and working in a very tough East End school for ten years. I loved it for many of those years but when the creativity of my job began to be squashed by changing governments I found myself on Pinterest rather than planning lessons and so I began my blog Apartment Apothecary as an outlet for all of the decorating ideas I constantly have in my mind. I blogged for about a year, whilst still working as a teacher, and it soon became clear that I was enjoying blogging far more than being in the classroom so I decided to take the leap and try to make blogging full time a reality.

I have now been blogging about interiors and crafts for just over two years and I absolutely love it. As well as collaborating with great companies and brands on my blog, I also work as a stylist on home tour shoots and write and style for craft magazines. My next project is to work more with clients to do room makeovers, which is my favourite thing to do.

2.     Where do you live?

I am a Londoner and currently live in Bermondsey, at the south end of Tower Bridge, in a new build apartment block. I wish I lived in one of the converted warehouses on the river but you can’t have everything! I have lived in my flat for five years and the area has become such a great place to live as the local Maltby Street market is amazing and Bermondsey street itself is always buzzing. I also love being right next to the river for long weekend walks.

3.     Who do you live with?

I live with my partner, Jules, and our Golden Retriever puppy, Otto. Jules is a web developer and is also starting his own company of shared ownership for sports cars, so he currently works at home, too, but he wishes he didn’t as I constantly pester him for technical help with the blog. Otto is a regular feature on my blog and Instagram feed - the best prop you can get!

4.     Tell us a little bit about your home.

My home is a good sized two bedroom flat. We are really lucky to have floor to ceiling windows in the bedroom and sitting room so it is flooded with light. It is a new build flat, which is not my preference - I would far prefer to be in a Victorian terraced house - but I have tried really hard to inject some personality and character into what is otherwise a soulless white box. I didn’t want to lose any of the space or light so I kept the blank canvas and have added eclectic furniture, vintage finds and soft textiles to make it more of a home, rather than a generic central London flat.

5.     What made you choose to live here in this property?

I chose this flat because of the light and the size of the rooms; I find that being in a dark house makes me miserable so that was a deal breaker for me. When I looked round the flat I was also drawn to the balcony and the fact we are six floors up so we have amazing views across London. Then I was shown the roof terrace and that was my decision made! The terrace has 360 degree views of London and over the river Thames and it is the full foot print of the apartment block. We share it with our neighbours, which is brilliant as it means we have got to know them all and we have parties, BBQ’s and even screen films or big events like the Olympic Opening Ceremony onto one of the walls. We have also formed a little gardening club to try to grow food up on the roof, which is really fun.

6.     What improvements have you made?

The flat was brand new when I moved in so I did nothing to it. When we got Otto a couple of years ago we quickly realised all of the carpets throughout the flat had to go and we didn’t want to invest in a really expensive wooden floor as we weren’t sure how much longer we were going to stay in the flat. Therefore, I got my DIY on and painted the MDF boards underneath the carpet, which has made the flat feel so much brighter and more modern. I also painted all of the internal doors and changed the handles, which has made the space feel much more open and less institutional. I am now hatching plans for a kitchen makeover as I hate the door handles and worktop so watch this space...

7.     What’s your favourite room?

My favourite room is our office, which used to be the spare room before we both began working from home. I wanted this room to be light, bright and motivating as well as functional so I painted the floor white and made a double desk with MDF and trestle legs. I did a cabinet makeover and added pegboard for all of my crafty bits and invested in some String shelving that I love. I placed the desk in the middle of the room as this makes it completely flexible as I can take photos on it from any angle or I can clear it completely (and chuck Jules out for the day) if I need to do pattern cutting for sewing tutorials.

8.     Where do you find inspiration?

I love looking at fellow bloggers’ posts, magazines and Pinterest. I get a huge amount of inspiration from visiting other people’s homes, especially when we shoot home tours for magazines. I come home filled to the brim with house envy and ideas for how to change things up. I also visit some of my favourite high end furniture stores and take note of what I love and come home and try to think of a cheaper alternative or find something similar second hand somewhere.

9.     Describe your perfect day spent at home.

My perfect day spent at home is a Saturday after having been to Maltby Street market in the morning and taken the dog for a walk. We come home laden with cheese, parma ham and bread and a bone for the dog and have lunch on the roof terrace. And the perfect day would not be perfect without an afternoon snooze in my big bed surrounded by magazines and my naughty puppy next me.

Been inspired by what you’ve seen? You can find more lovely images of Katy Orme’s home over on at{mine}. 

Don’t forget, Heart Home readers are exclusively invited to sign up now to become part of the at{mine} launch community and receive early access to the inspirational stories, people and brands behind beautiful real interiors today.

[ http://www.atmine.com/invited?code=HeartHome ]

Photography © Katharine Peachey

Drawn To Vintage With Yvonne Ellen

Designer Yvonne Ellen has taken her hobby for sketching and vintage finds and combined them to create a quirky ceramic collection.

After graduating from Textile Design at Nottingham Trent, 29 year old Designer Maker Yvonne Ellen moved to London and started working as a Fashion Designer, but it wasn’t until she created a hand-drawn, bespoke vintage cake stand for a friend’s wedding that she started to consider turning her hobby into a business:

“I got lots of compliments and requests to make specific pieces so I started looking for more vintage pieces to illustrate onto” explains Yvonne. Not that this was a hard task: “I love car boot sales, fairs, charity antique shops, and seeking out interesting old crockery, it has been a hobby since I was young.”

During this search Yvonne looks for good quality pieces that she would be happy to have in her own home.” Once I have found something that I love, I then work out what will work best as an image. The size and shape of the dish, plate or cup will influence the design and how much pattern I will draw on” she explains.

Her pieces are adorned with contemporary, curious creatures that include a DJ-ing Owl and a pair of Partying Mice surrounded by beautifully intricate patterns. So why such whimsical animals? “I grew up in rural Oxfordshire and my Dad was an avid birdwatcher so wild animals were part of my childhood. I draw them wearing top hats or bow ties or with ‘human’ attributes to add a certain charm and charisma” she explains.

Yvonne currently lives in London with her boyfriend Craig and creates all her designs from home. She often sells her collection in markets and craft fairs as well as online on Etsy and Folksy. Although still a young business, her pieces are selling well and she has high hopes for the future: “I’d love to expand into a strong, recognisable brand that includes textiles and stationery” 

Article written by  Rosalind Erskine taken from Winter Issue 2012 of Heart Home magazine. Photography in the magazine is by Jon Aaron Green

Inspired Ink with Rory Dobner

After searching for inspiration in all corners of the world, artist Rory Dobner finally settled in Hampstead. Heart Home was lucky enough to spend time with him in his studio and be taken on a tour of his favourite local spots that help to fuel his quirky imagination.

Rory Dobner

Rory’s Hampstead studio it is a creative haven with crisp white walls, striking bespoke black furniture and stunning industrial lamps. It is even complete with its own taxidermy hare, adorned with a neckerchief, waistcoat and glasses (naturally).  

He starts his daily routine in much the same way as the rest of us, “in the mornings I’ll get up, shower, brush my teeth and head straight to the studio, grabbing some breakfast en route” says Rory. However, the product of his day is more in keeping with Alice in Wonderland than Dolly Parton’s Nine to Five.

Rory Dobner

“I’ve just finished the biggest commission I’ve ever done; it was from a lady in Paris who is a writer. It reflects a combination of stories she wrote about two Canadian lobsters she bought for dinner, but ended up keeping, naming and setting free! The story also included polar bears that got married- oh, and a pole dancing octopus!” He laughs.

Rory Dobner

Not all of Rory’s briefs are quite so fantastical, meaning he will often have to search for his own inspiration.  He takes us on a tour of his neighbourhood to show us where he enjoys finding it. Our first stop, Flask Walk, is conveniently located on his doorstep and full of endless possibility.  Rory is completely at home browsing the antique shops, searching for that one item to fuel his next idea.

 Buying frames in Flask Walk

Buying frames in Flask Walk

“I'm really fascinated in the details of most things, whether its animals, living things, plants, flowers or trees, but equally objects that I see - especially antiques.” He says, browsing.

One of the most striking things about Rory is his mind. It is a treasure trove of memories, trinkets, fantasy and humour, and if you are familiar with his work, it is probably not surprising to learn this about the man behind the quirky creations such as ‘Smokey Fish’ and ‘Bling Rabbit’.  His greatest love is detail, which he stores in his inspiration filing cabinet, otherwise known as his brain.

“I've got a bad memory- I’ll go to the shop for three things and come back with one. But for what I saw along the way, I'll remember every single thing!” He laughs.  “Like the weave in someone's jumper, the engraving in a women's gold earring.”

After banking some more visuals, Rory directs us towards the cosy Ginger and White café to get our mid-morning buzz. We sit with steaming cups and start to delve further into the roots of his business. 

 Ginger & White Cafè

Ginger & White Cafè

“Rory Dobner just started from drawings I used for presents or cards” he confesses. However, an interesting stroke of good fortune soon propelled his drawings to bigger things.  “My wife Claire was studying for her Masters in psychology and was being interviewed for a magazine. She sat on the sofa with my ink drawings in the background. The buyer of Liberties, who was also studying psychology, read the magazine and called her. She got so excited as she thought there was interest in the interview, but she said- no, sorry. It's the ink drawings behind you I want to talk about!” He giggles.  “I was so grateful for the opportunity. I gave them ten to begin with, and three days later I received a call saying they’d sold out!”  

Next on our North London voyage is the pretty Hampstead Antiques Emporium.  We amble our way through a quaint alleyway stuffed full of antiques, followed by a gorgeous local fruit and veg shop boasting the latest seasonal goodies.  Completely beautiful, and completely British.  Something else that’s very close to Rory’s heart.

 Hampstead Antiques Emporium

Hampstead Antiques Emporium

 “We are a British brand” Rory explains.  One that has expanded rapidly and now delivers a range of crockery, tiles and textiles. “Claire helps with the manufacturing; we use British suppliers, which not only benefits them, but it also gives us great control. The playfulness of experimenting has been really important to us.”

Our walk is making us a little peckish, so Rory takes us to one of his favourites haunts, The Horseshoe, with its rustic feel and hearty food. As we walk in he readily admits that he would usually take a sandwich to the Heath where he likes to sit under his favourite “rusty old tree” and dream up characters that he can bring to life through the power of ink.

 Rory's favourite 'rusty old tree'.

Rory's favourite 'rusty old tree'.

“Drawings to me are things that are moving. They blink at me, they fidget. They come alive.” He says sincerely. “I imagine they have a background and I consider what sort of life, or what kind of attitude they might have.”

“I’m lucky because people usually end up saying to me- I trust you, use your imagination and go for it. And that’s what’s really nice - I don’t have to work within set parameters. They give me the ingredients, and I mix it up.”

Rory Dobner

Mixing it up is putting it mildly. His characters are strong, fantastical and innocent. Yet there is also something inherently sophisticated, grown up and British about them. His ink has many layers, and so does he.

To see more of Rory’s work visit Rory Dobner.

Article written by Liggy Griffiths taken from Autumn Issue 2013 of Heart Home magazine. Picture credits: Photography by Paul Craig.

A Day In The Life of Designer Donna Wilson

Donna Wilson creates her knitted creatures and furnishings in a warehouse in east London.  She showed Heart Home magazine her favourite places to hang out and visit for inspiration.

Tucked away on a side street in Bethnal Green lies Donna Wilson’s studio and workspace. It is piled high with textiles, knits, crockery and an interesting looking sewing machine. She runs her business, which she started in 2003, from this space and it is refreshing to see the whole process – designing, knitting, stuffing and shipping – take place in one room.

“Sorry for the mess,” Donna says, stepping around a large stuffed fox and squeezing past an employee sewing away on a machine. 

DONNA WILSON04.jpg

Originally from Aberdeen, Donna moved to London to study for an MA in Constructed Textiles at the Royal College of Art.  It seems she was always destined for success, even before she graduated she was selling her beautiful creations.  

“I knew I wanted to start my own business and be my own boss. I was lucky enough to sell some dolls to a shop on the King’s Road whilst I was studying,” she explains. “It was only about 20 a month but it helped pay my rent,” she laughs. “My tutor was really supportive and it really helped me stay focused during my studies. I knew what I was aiming for.”

Donna’s business has grown dramatically since then and she is fast becoming a household name. She is now stocked by some major retailers, including Heal’s and John Lewis (and others across the globe). However, despite this, Donna remains incredibly humble and likes to stay true to her playful designs.

“I’m inspired by less conventional creatures as well as children’s drawings as they tend to be so naïve, with five legs and ten eyes. They manage to capture such humour and innocence,” she explains. “I think my favourite character is Cyril Squirrel -Fox. He is one of my earliest creations and I continue to make him. He’s also quite famous,” she laughs. He’s been on ‘Location, Location, Location’ and ‘Harry Hill’. I think people like his big nose and big tail.”

On this note we decide to head to our first stop on our east London tour: The V&A Museum of Childhood. It’s a beautiful building, buzzing with young children and Donna is as compelled by their collection of vintage toys as they are. She quickly spots a colourful 1987 owl-shaped play sack, “look how brilliant they are,” she exclaims. “I love this one too,” she laughs, pointing to a 1964 soft owl and taking out her phone for a quick snap. 

 Finding inspiration  in the Museum of Childhood

Finding inspiration  in the Museum of Childhood

Next up is Shoreditch, where we head to one of Donna’s favourite haunts, The Albion, for a bit of indulgent grocery shopping. “I love vegetables,” she says, walking up to the pretty autumnal display. “I’ve never seen a pumpkin like that one. Looks like a Farrow and Ball pumpkin,” she jokes.

 Shopping for vegetables at The Albion

Shopping for vegetables at The Albion

We amble down Redchurch Street and pass the clothing store APC. “I adore this shop and love their sample sales,” says Donna. “They’re great to find a bargain.” Donna is a joy to be around – so friendly and easy going. We head to the quirky Maison Trois Garcon  for some mid-morning cake. “It looks so delicious, and I love the décor too,” says Donna.

 Time for a quick break in Maison Trois Garcons

Time for a quick break in Maison Trois Garcons

Donna admits grabbing food out is a bit of a treat, as lunch is normally eaten in the office, where she and her team try to sit down around the table, “but it is most usually taken at my desk,” she says, “one of the pitfalls of having to run a business.”

Donna has recently bought a period property in east London and she and her husband are turning it into their dream home to raise their son Eli. “The house is done, but we are still putting our own stamp on it. Unsurprisingly I’ve put lots of textiles in Eli’s bedroom. I was just so excited,” she says, stepping into the gorgeous homeware shop Labour and Wait.

 Browsing in Labour and Wait

Browsing in Labour and Wait

“It’s like walking into my Grandma’s house,” she laughs. “I love all the old fashioned pieces. They’re so natural and pure – things you really want to keep.”

After this we head to our final stop, and perhaps the one we’re most excited about, SCP East :  Curtain Road’s finest furniture and furnishings store that just so happens to stock some of Donna’s products (including the gorgeous bag she is carrying).

 SCP 

SCP 

“I love being a small company and selling to shops rather than web-based retailers,” says Donna. “I like to support the high street and those who have to tackle the overheads of running premises.”

We are greeted by some friendly faces that Donna seems to know well. A café has just been installed so we treat ourselves to a cup of coffee and sample the chocolate cake.  We also get to see another element of Donna’s designing talent– her Icelandic inspired rugs. They are bold and beautiful, and so very Donna, but perhaps they represent her more grown-up side.

“I like collaborating and my relationship with SCP East is really special. We do lots of work together, but they also stock my own collection – we meet in the middle. There’s a bit of me and a bit of them. They push me creatively, but it’s still my work, colours and patterns,” she says smiling.

Donna’s ethos is commendable and although she may continue to grow the business, she will always be at the heart, designing items that reflect her and her wonderful talent. 

Article written by Liggy Griffiths taken from Winter Issue 2013 of Heart Home magazine. Picture credits: Photography by Oliver Gordon.


Beside the Seaside With Jessica Hogarth

Specialising in surface pattern and textile design, Jessica Hogarth draws inspiration from the beautiful coastal village where she lives to create work that is quirky and full of colour.

As someone with a self-confessed love of designs that have a story behind them, it’s perhaps little surprise that young designer Jessica Hogarth has an inspiring story to tell of her own.

Jessica Hogarth

Despite always having an interest in art and design throughout her school years, Jessica admits to being more focused on music early on. However, after a false start on a music degree, she applied to study surface pattern at Leeds College of Art. “The first year was a massive learning curve, but by year two I felt like it was something I could perhaps see myself doing in the long term,” Jessica tells Heart Home.

And how right she was to change direction so early on; since graduating from the course with a first class degree and launching her business in 2012, Jessica has grown her list of clients as well as stockists for her own label, Jessica Hogarth Designs. Her impressive product range now spans stationery, prints, interior textiles and wallpaper, with new ranges planned for the year ahead.

Jessica Hogarth

It is her early years where Jessica still draws much of her inspiration from. Her most cherished handmade possession is a book given to her by her parents when she turned 18, which is full of childhood memories. “It’s packed of photos of family and friends, as well as newspaper cuttings from sport and music events I’d taken part in. There are also just random references to things I’d liked growing up. I will keep it forever.”

Jessica Hogarth

Born and raised in North Yorkshire’s Robin Hood’s Bay, and returning to the picturesque fishing village after completing her studies, Jessica focused on her surroundings to develop her first collection. Jessica explains: “I had the opportunity to test the market with my designs before launching them to trade. I developed a body of work I’d began at Art College, which focused on the architecture and seaside feel of where I lived. This proved to be a success and the personal stories behind my designs have really helped to build my brand.”

Jessica Hogarth

Describing her work as ‘colourful, quirky and fun’, Jessica admits to being constantly inspired by places she visits and things she sees. As someone who is passionate about her subject matter, Jessica spends a great deal of time gathering primary research for her work, taking regular sketching trips across the UK and Europe to gather information. The coastal area in which she lives and Paris, in particular, are places Jessica continues to draw inspiration from. “Visits to new places are always exciting and I take hundreds of photos, mostly of architecture, random patterns I find, and of particularly nice colours,” she adds.

Find out more about Jessica’s work and read her blog by visiting jessicahogarth.com

Article written by Kelly Lavender taken from March Issue 2014 of Heart Home magazine. Picture credits: Photography by Alex Oates, Styled by Zoe Palmer

City Living

Cecily Vessey’s drawings and prints depicting urban living can not only be found in the gift shops of London’s most iconic attractions, but have also been shipped all over the world to as far away as Australia, Singapore and America. Despite this global success, Cecily remains true to her British roots, with all of her products manufactured right here in the UK.

Cecily Vessey

Living in London and inspired by the sights and sounds of city life, Cecily Vessey’s drawings and prints are stocked in some of the Capital’s biggest tourist attractions.

But far from being the kind of souvenirs that are bought on a whim and soon lie forgotten at the back of a cupboard, or the kind of artwork that carries too big a price tag to take home with you, the items adorned with Cecily’s work are designed to be used and enjoyed.

“From drawing buildings at A-level to centring my university work around cityscapes, I wanted to create a business around my work that wasn’t the traditional artist creating exhibitions,” explains Cecily. “I wanted to create usable products that were adorned with my drawings. I saw it as a way of selling my artwork but in a more affordable, exciting way for the collector.  I still and always will continue to create one off drawings and paintings, but I love seeing my creations on mugs, stationery and other affordable items”.

Cecily Vessey

Cecily graduated four years ago and has been working hard ever since to build up a successful retail and wholesale business, as well as working on a variety of freelance projects. But it was when she sold her first painting, at the tender age of just 17, that Cecily first knew for certain that she wanted to be an artist. She explains: “I’d made a pair of oil paintings of Venice that were 8ft tall and 2ft wide each. It was a labour of love so when a lady saw them in an exhibition and offered me some money for one of the pair I couldn’t believe that someone wanted to pay hard earned cash for something I’d made.”

“From then on I always had it in the back of my head that I wanted to create a life around things that I made. I still have the second of the pair hanging in my house as a reminder that people actually sometimes buy the things I make.”

Cecily Vessey

Venice, like London, is a city that has provided much inspiration for Cecily’s work. “As all of my work focuses on building and cityscapes I find trips to different cities or even a wander around London can spark an idea,” she reveals. “I try to visit a new city each year, I’ve just been to Rome for the weekend and am working through my photos at the moment to create a skyline.”

When she’s not hard at work, Cecily admits that the travelling bug takes over, particularly when she takes to two wheels to cycle around London. She says: “In my non-work time I love to bicycle. It’s the perfect speed to travel and see things. I’d love to cycle around the world one day visiting my favourite cities along the way, but I fear I will have to settle with lots of smaller trips instead.”

Cecily Vessey

“When it’s raining and too cold for cycling I love to bake anything with chocolate in it - White Chocolate Oreo Cheese Cake is a favourite at the moment!”

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, when asked what would be the title of her memoir should she ever find the time to write it, Cecily responds: “Buildings, Bicycles and Baking”

Article written by Kelly Lavender taken from Winter Issue 2013 of Heart Home magazine. Picture credits: Product shots by Yeshen Venema, Profile image by Lucy Roome 

Bold And Beautiful

Jane Foster has put her creative streak to good use, producing bright and colourful screenprints that take their inspiration from Scandinavian design.

Jane Foster

Jane Foster has always had an artistic streak, even as a child, and spent five years in music college training to be a teacher. But her creativity was to take her in a different direction, when she discovered a natural talent for screen printing.

“For years I wanted to carve out a different career from teaching as I knew it would burn me out eventually,” Jane explains.

“I visualised becoming self-employed and working from home so I could spend time with my daughter and do something I really enjoyed. I wasnʼt entirely sure how it was going to happen, but I took very small steps each day in the right direction.”

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Today, Jane divides her time between her business and raising her three-year-old daughter with her partner Jim. The family live in a contemporary eco home in Totnes, Devon, where Jane has a purpose built studio room in which to do her design work, screen printing and sewing.

The house itself features furniture from the 50s and 60s, including patterned Formica pieces and birch ply chairs, and Jane takes much of her inspiration from this era for her screenprints too. She says: “My influences come from several sources: designs from the 50s and 60s, Scandinavian design, bits from my parents and simple illustrations from illustrators such as Dick Bruna. I love bold, simple, happy designs, which appeal to children and adults alike.”

Jane Foster

Many of Jane’s own designs come to her in moment of spontaneity and she will often sketch out her ideas over a coffee in her local café. She says: “I don’t usually do many versions and the process happens quite quickly. At first I use a 2B pencil and then I go over the design in a black ink pen before rubbing the pencil lines out.” And if a creative rut should halt the process? “That’s normally solved by coffee and cake! A large slice of Victoria sponge cake or banoffee pie usually does the trick.”

Jane is a firm believer in following your dreams and in the early days of self-employment would often write her ambitions in a notebook to help keep her focused. “The list included both small goals and larger ones - ones that at the time seemed way out of my league. One goal was to get my work into Habitat and miraculously it happened the week I became a mum.”

Jane Foster

And on the list today? “In ten years’ time I would like to be designing fabrics for IKEA or Marimekko and also other items such as storage tins, mugs and trays.

“I see myself still working in my studio, making items from the fabrics I collect and still doing the odd bit of screen printing, which I canʼt ever imagine getting tired of.”

Jane Foster

Article written by Kelly Lavender taken from Autumn 2013 issue of Heart Home magazine.

Second Chance

Designer Trish Scorgie has brought a new lease of life to vintage ceramic designs, and in turn is helping to rejuvenate a dying industry.

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After working in music industry PR for years, Trish Scorgie decided to embark on a career change that involved her passion for vintage ceramics as well as the flexibility to work around her daughter. So in March 2012 she set up her company, Volpe and Volpe, meaning fox in Italian. “I was really into Etsy and came across some lovely ideas from America” Trish explains “I felt there was a lot of the same things around at the time and I wanted to create something a bit different and unique especially with ceramics as I’ve been a hoarder over the years.” It was during her online research that Trish came across the vintage swan vase, which has become Volpe and Volpe’s signature piece. “I love the shape of the swan but it wasn’t available in very nice colours. I wanted to revamp it by producing it in contemporary colours such as matt black and metallics” says Trish.

Trish Scorgie

Trish investigated the swan mould’s background as she does with every piece she sells through Volpe and Volpe. It originally belonged to Dartmouth Pottery, which was sold to Wade but they didn’t take the swan, making it perfect to reinvent. “I love tracing back the origins and what has happened to the companies and moulds that they produced. So many get lost in sales over the years and there are only a few originals left over” says Trish. She then had to find a mould maker and was keen to work with Stoke on Trent, but had difficulty in finding a supplier to do small runs. “I knew there would be a market for these nostalgia based accessories but unfortunately there are almost no UK based ceramic companies left, which is really sad” she says. Fortunately Trish found a supplier who is not only still in business but has worked on Staffordshire creamware for years. Together they work on the colours and layers of glaze: “I torture him” laughs Trish “but I am particular about how pieces look, specifically the matt black and metallic swans as they are the hardest to get right.” She also produces a cute Mole string holder that is taken from a 1970s mould and has been a great hit in its remodelled, glossy black finish with scissor-handle glasses. The Devon based company that is supplying the moles almost went out of business and the moulds are hand painted by the same woman who has been working for the company since she left school – meaning it is a true piece of UK ceramic history.

Trish Scorgie

Trish currently lives in North London with her husband Michael, daughter Sissy and cat, Rosie V, and creates Volpe and Volpe’s menagerie from home. She sells online through Volpe Volpe’s site, Rockett St George and Anthroplogie and is set to launch her last swan collection in a soft powder blue before turning her attentions to her next project. “I’m working on a Wolf Plate which is a hybrid of old botanicals from forgotten dinner sets and Natural History prints with the artist Robert Dawson who works on commissions and is best known for his award winning reworking of the Wedgewood Willow Pattern (he works under the moniker of Aesthetic Sabotage) Along with the Powder Blue swan I will be also doing a super size Swan in Satin Glazes” says Trish.

Trish Scorgie

Photographs by Jon Aaron Green, Words by Rosalind Erskine. Feature taken from Summer 2013 issue of Heart Home magazine