I’m a devotee of all things old and often even broken. Give me a a second-hand store or an auction over a day at the mall. Invite me into your attic or let me loose at a flea market and I’m happy.
My love of pre-loved objects is twofold. First, the patina of age give so many things – fabric, furniture and paper, tableware and ceramics, wood and metal – unique textural and colour markings.
Look at the way a silver tea set tarnishes or the linen on a hardback book fades in the sun. Feel the crumbling paint on a second-hand chair or the smooth handle on an old hammer. These imperfections are hard to mass-produce and the marks of age tell a story of a life lived.
This is my second reason for being drawn to things of old. I look at tea-cup stains on a table and wonder what conversations occurred around it. I pick up a discarded leather suitcase from an op-shop and imagine the journeys it’s been on. So many stories, so many styling opportunities.
noun /ˈblæŋ.kɪt/ 1.a flat cover made of wool or similar warm material, usually used on a bed.
A seemingly basic and everyday kind of object, the blanket provides warmth and comfort to its user whilst also having a myriad of histories and meanings across cultures. Thought to have been first coined by Flemish weaver Thomas Blanquette in the 14th century, the early blankets were made from wool, well known for its cosy and fire-resistant properties.
For a lot of cultures, the blanket doesn’t just rest on the bed; bright and colourful serapes worn by Mexican men, the multi-functional Japanese patch-worked boro, and I particularly love the story behind the handira, a Moroccan wedding blanket made by the Berber women. Beautifully decorated with sequins and tassels, these blankets could take weeks to create leading up to the bride’s wedding. The handira is worn as a kind of cape on the wedding day, having been weaved with blessings and protection from the bride’s family to equip her for her marriage.
Experiment with your blankets and throws: try pairing mixed textures and materials, or using a favourite bright patterned textile as a feature piece.
Shop the look with our cosy woollen Moroccan Pom Pom Blanket
Put similar materials together – a metal postcard postcard holder sits with a metal mesh lampshade. It’s a place for cards, postcards, invites and other ephemera collected on your travels. I cannot help but pick up coasters, wrapping, matchbooks, napkins, maps etc as mementos.
When I loosely hung some rope with knots and loops over a pole, it instantly took me back to the wooden painted boats that go from Positano to the grottos of Capri or potter around the Mediterranean, visiting the water access only inlets and restaurants. A great entrance and transitional divider as well as a conversation starter.
I was inspired by my room at La Minervetta in Sorrento. Add to tongue-and-groove with a designer stepladder and driftwood star ( a little bit souvenir in style) casually placed on the counter.
I bought this beautiful book of handmade Amalfi paper & knotted binding from a shop on Capri. Display your finds just on an open page.
I love immediacy of tape, all colours, all shapes. Put up an idea in minutes and move it around with ease.
Use thin masking tape, I did a crude fish shape (no, I’m not a born-again Christian) resembling the image on a boat that goes from the main pot of Positano to Da Adolfo’s in the summer months.
Mix it in with your existing collections. A handy ladder that leads to a mezzanine level can be used for books and some of your souvenirs of sea-tossed stones. A plastic urn is my spin on the cliff-clinging sculptures of Ravello.
Not everything has to be presented as is. Embellish your flea market find by stencilling a number, and binding the back in rope, which can be found at hardware stores or at auction. It personalises it, and looks great. This was inspired by the wooden fishing crafts of Positano & Capri, all lined up, full of nets, rope & rolled-up canvas in shades of blue.
Tune in next week as I share my of styling based on my Italian adventure as well as my pointers for places to see.
This week for our colour hunting expedition we look at Merchants & Traders.
Merchants & Traders came about whilst I was travelling in Syria. It is another of my 10-colour-palettes, which is found in my book Nomad.
The colours of the desert are reflected in these oasis towns, all muted neutrals; beaten metal vessels, basalt striped walls of the caravanserai; canvas stretched over roads the width of carts; shiny strong coffee beans & the soft silvery green of olive leaves and pistachios.
Honest materials influenced the palette. Think; wood, leather, slate, iron, steel, rope, dirt, paper, stone, cement, hand blown glass, mud bricks, haystacks, flelt, canvas & burlap.
Don’t be afraid to use this inside or outside of your home! Try River Keeper as a dado around your bedroom or office space, or farrier on a door to create a bold entranceway to your bedroom or home.
F is for…
Everything from the colour palette to the practice of this trade enchants me. Imagine if your bread & butter was reliant on forging a partnership with a majestic bird. And then there’s the all-important accessories, such as the falcon’s leather hood and the claw-proof suede gantlet. I think a billowy white shirt would be the must-have wardrobe item for a budding falconer. My journey to Scotland allowed a much-anticipated falconry lesson, which showcased a study in beautiful brown tones. Feeling the power of the bird I was paired with, filled me with awe for this practice, which is not as arcane as some of the previous trades, and only exaggerated the romantic notions I associate with it. It’s hard not to be swept up in the thrill of the hunt.
There’s something about honest & humble items that captivate me. A mainstay of everyday life, stationery is one of those things that can be enjoyed simply for its utilitarian purpose, but I prefer to look a little deeper. I’ve listed the five pieces that are never far from my toolbag & tacklebox, not only because they’re handy to have on hand as a stylist, but also because they bring a little more to the table in the aesthetic department. Use them for their basic function, but don’t disregard what they can bring to your spaces visually.
I think these things are a tribute to vintage classrooms, a time of Cuisenaire rods, and maps that pull down from behind the teacher’s desk. Perhaps it’s the typography of the numbers that attracts or maybe the different shapes they come in. So let’s open it up to all the tools that measure: fabric tape measures, wooden squares with etched numbers, enamel liquid measures, cone-shaped footed etched glass, old shop 1-metre sticks with a hole in the top for hanging, metal measuring sticks attached to the long tables at the draper’s or even just a good old-fashioned wooden ruler. Always good to have when working out your space’s measurements, but also one of those pieces that can enrich a display when not hidden away.
From Vietnam, my great-grandmother’s pinking shears, tiny, tiny cord-covered Japanese ones, Chinese kitchen scissors – you name them, I seem to have acquired them. There is no reason why utilitarian tools should not be beautiful; these are for use and display.