a little before & after {our home}…

so i was doing a little scouting around on my hard drive for a particular image today in the hope of thrilling you all with a stunning inspiration compilation: needless to say, the image i wanted was nowhere to be found…

but i did find this gem…

london 2012

this is a photo of our lounge room as it looked when the flat was advertised for rent…

a nomadic abode_london 2013

& this is what it looks like now {well, actually, it looked like this up until a few days ago but i’ve changed everything around again since then}…

not too shabby for a simple furniture reshuffle {out with theirs & in with ours} & opening that camera aperture a little wider…

that my friends is what i like to call “seeing potential”…

happy hump day!

quirky finds {my source book}…

i feel like i’m witnessing a bit of a phenomena of late: the rise of the quirky homewares store…

& i’m not complaining…

for far too long department stores have dominated the market, quashing everything in their wake…

& i don’t think i’m alone in thinking most high street chains have had their day too: that endless stream of same ol’ same ol’ instantaneously sucks any creativity from my veins…

hence, for me, the lure of the flea market, car boot sales & op shops & hence why i’m always chuffed to find a new source {be it online or bricks & mortar} to add to my source book…

here are a few of my current favourite haunts in my search for quirky finds…

holly's house

holly’s house: i’m a little spoilt with this one: walking distance from my house, i dare say i find myself popping in here with stalker-like frequency… there’s always the heady scent of a nearby candle filling the air & enough eye candy on the walls, floors & hanging from the ceilings to keep me coming back {i think the photo above was taken a while ago as it’s full to the brim with stock these days}… i’ve had my eagle eye on their ornate circus mirrors for a while & i felt a quick intake of breath when i discovered they also stock this range of japanese brass ware which, until now, i’ve had to covet from the confines of my computer… their brickett davda crockery selection is also a firm favourite!

abigail ahern

abigail ahern: ok, admittedly i’ve been banging on about this lady for eons now, but she’s positively still worth the mention as this is pretty much where it all started for me… i still find myself doing laps of the room every time i venture to this upper street venue & the stock is updated often enough to keep me going back despite the long schlep across town… abigail has an unrivalled eye for outlandish pieces, but it’s her upscaled elements which really win my heart: her super-sized lighting  {like this chandelier & this floor lamp} & mirrors {a long time fave & a new contender} are complete game changers in my eyes…

 

bitten london

bitten london: newly launched, this is the love child of sassy fellow-blogger fay vowell… i’d only just discovered fay’s blog late last year when she suddenly leapt off the radar & i thought we’d lost her forever to the lure of travels abroad… turns out she’s been busy pulling together an eclectic array of homewares for her latest online venture… with fay’s hunger for creating “gobsmackingly WOW” pieces, i’ll be watching this new venture very closely indeed!

rockett st george

rockett st george: ok, another shop that has been on my radar for some years now, but this online emporium still has pulling power & keeps things fresh with an ever-changing stock… i’m particularly taken with their extensive selection of lightswallpapers & quirky home accessories like this bear table {which reminds me of a piece my brother once made in art class} & they’re also cultivating a covetable furniture section which incorporates some vintage pieces too… these guys really do have their finger on the pulse…

& finally…
this one is so new it hasn’t even launched yet!
phoenix & fox
phoenix & fox: fellow klc alumni sam lennie & kelly sparkes have pooled their talents to bring us this new online collaboration… & from the glimpses i’ve been privy to from their blog i’d say their soon-to-be launched boutique holds much promise indeed! shaggy sheepskins, industrial tables & rustic wooden stools: this is my vibe down to a tee! congratulations ladies!
happy days!

on the homefront {dining room update}…

long ago in a land far away, a certain curly-haired blogger promised to show updates of her new home as & when it developed…

to be honest, i’m always a little trepidatious about presenting things here in their unfinished format: partly because i can be a bit of a perfectionist & partly because i’m aware that things can sometimes look a little half baked when they’re, well, only actually half baked {explained so deftly in this “the middle makes no sense” post put together by john & sherry over at young house love}…

but, here goes…

following last week’s acquisition of a “not forever, but it will do for now” dining table {posted about here}, i’m happy to report we’re finally making some progress at last…

here’s how our dining room looked when we first moved in {a blank canvas}:

a nomadic abode

& here’s how it looked for the best part of our first four months of living here {a blank canvas housing a non-blank canvas, four neglected chairs & a bin}:

a nomadic abode

oh the shame!

& here’s how it looks now with the addition of the aforementioned “not forever, but it will do for now” dining table which arrived on saturday having been hoisted over the balcony by a rope…

a nomadic abode

of course this nook is far from finished, but at least we now have somewhere to eat & something to fill that gap in the middle of the room…

& whilst the table was a forced purchase {more on that here}, things could be worse…

its size works well in the compact thoroughfare which serves as our dining room & i think the arched table legs tie in nicely with the rounded backs of the wishbone chairs {personally, i prefer more of a high contrast look over a matchy matchy affair, but needs must}…

the table currently boasts a patchy orange sheen so i’ll be sanding that back & applying a soaped oak finish {more about that another day} so that it sits a little more quietly in the space…

in addition, i’m also planning to soften this whole nook with a rug {which will also take away from the wood-on-wood overload currently on show}, an oversized light, a glossy console table & some artwork {as well as actually hanging the existing picture as opposed to propping it up on a radiator}…

i’m toying with colours at the moment, but because there are no windows along this entire side of the house {skylights only} & it can get a little gloomy, i’m currently leaning towards introducing a fresh green palette to enliven things & bring the outdoors in…

perhaps a bit like this…

a nomadic abode_green dining room

i love vintage art work: it’s generally affordable {so you don’t mind swapping the look out every now & then} & it feels like having old friends to stay…

& as i already have a few pieces in my collection, i’m hoping it won’t be long before i can bring this whole look to life…

a nomadic abode_art

but all this being said, come back next week & i might just have installed the walled succulent garden i’d envisaged since day one…

such is the beauty of design!

the master of couture {valentino}…

valentino exhibition roses

a sweep of red cloth cascades down the centre of the stamp stairs at somerset house & pools gently on the floor below…

it signals your imminent arrival: hang a right at the bottom of the stairwell & slip outside the main doors & you can’t miss it, a pristine white wall with the words ‘valentino master of couture‘ emblazoned across it in large red bespoke typeface: & so it begins…

50 years in the making, this exhibition showcases the legacy of a master of his craft…

for any badge-wearing fashion lover {& equally anybody interested in styling & staging}, this meticulously curated show is a must see as, like it’s subject, it reads like a lesson in refinement & attention to detail…

once inside, white walls, dimmed lighting & sparse furnishings mean there’s very little to detract from the exhibits themselves…

similarly striking are the hushed tones in which onlookers converse: a reverence normally reserved for places of worship…

i’m immediately drawn to the far end of the exhibit space where images are being projected onto an oversized sculpture of a rose, valentino garavani’s emblem, which dominates the back wall…

beneath this, & lining the surrounding walls in orderly single file, sit neat rows of balloon-back salon chairs…

valentino_master of couture

resplendent in white upholstery, the chairs are anchored to the walls at waist height & hold a series of glass display cabinets within which various pieces of ephemera are displayed: photos, invitations & letters all from valentino’s private collection…

but these exhibits don’t hold my attention for long…

instead, i soon join a small crowd surrounding the case wherein valentino’s hand-drawn sketches are housed…

some of these drawings are like works of art in their own right created by a seemingly singular flourish of their maker’s pen, whilst others are a little more obscure: all are stamped “valentino” as if to mark their pedigree…

on the walls overhead a timeline maps out a formidable career & i’m heartened to learn it took nine years for valentino to hone his craft before venturing out alone: respect is due!

a metal & glass staircase leads you upstairs to the exhibition’s real drawcard: a carefully-curated selection of more than 130 haute couture designs spanning five decades…

of course there’s the now iconic oscar dress donned by julia roberts {you know the one}, jaqueline kennedy’s wedding dress for her marriage to aristotle onassis & various other collaborations of tulle, sequins, crepe, organza & georgette as befits the formalities of life as an empress, first lady or movie star…

but a nice twist on proceedings is the fact that it’s us, the audience, who must sashay down a 60 metre catwalk in order to observe the collection…

valentino_master of couture

flanking the runway, colour-coded mannequins displaying the dresses are interspersed among more neat rows of white salon chairs…

calligraphied placecards showcasing the names of valentino’s illustrious clientele add a personalised touch…

perhaps in a nod to the timelessness of the designs, the outfits are not ordered chronologically, but instead they’re clustered in groupings with the colour of the mannequin denoting the era of the piece it’s dressed in {mint indicates a 1950s design, mustard for the 60s & so on}…

whilst i concede a lot of these outfits aren’t to my personal taste {they were made neither for my waistline nor my lifestyle}, it is nonetheless impossible to not recognise genius when surrounded by it…

i did a couple of laps of the catwalk & then headed back down a flight of steps to take in the final displays, my undisputed favourite of which was the atelier…

this exhibit showcases the workings of the generally unsung heroes of couture, le regarre {the girls}: these are the women who painstakingly bring the designer’s vision to life, one deftly-executed hand stitch at a time…

this is where the magic happens…

a large square upholstered plinth fills the centre of this space & inset around its perimeter are a series of glass boxes within which rests a sampler of various stitching techniques unique to valentino’s atelier…

valentino_pagine

a ‘tappeto do ruches’ sits alongside organza disks known as ‘pagine’, so called because of their resemblance to the pages of a book…

in another case, lengths of silk and nylon tulle are fashioned into flouncy rose formations…

terms like ‘incrostazioni’, ‘nervature’, ‘drappeggi’ & ‘budellini’ swim off the patternmaking paper they are printed on & dance around my head in a sing song fashion…

i am mesmerised…

also inset amongst the display cases are a row of tv screens playing video on loop…

here we’re able to watch the nimble fingers of the girls working the folds of material to create the samples we see on display around us: pin, tuck, pin, fold, snip, snip, snip!

they attack their work with a ferocity, precision & efficiency second to none & watching them work is akin to witnessing a magician unveiling the secrets behind his box of tricks, though somehow i can’t help but think sawing someone in half might be somewhat easier than recreating one of these designs…

this, to me, is the true magic of valentino master of couture

images via: anomadicabodecreative reviewdazed digitalcreative review

{today’s post is dedicated in memory of paolo, a former colleague who also happened to be an italian ‘valentino’ of sorts, who lost his hard-fought battle with cancer yesterday}

columbia road, a bacon sarnie & some seriously cool art {nelly duff}…

after more than six years of living in london & much coercement on my part, i finally managed to drag my better half off to the columbia road markets last weekend…

as you can imagine, the notion of getting a man {who, by the way, is seriously averse to spending money on things that die in a handful of days} to go flower shopping on a bitterly cold sunday morning was a feat in itself…

but the fact that it took us the best part of an hour, three tube lines & a 10 minute walk to get there pretty much ensures this kind of outing will be a one-off in our relationship {it amazes me still that i could be halfway to paris in the time it takes to cross from one side of london to the other}…

when we finally arrived at the markets it was already way too late to enjoy any serious flower ogling {by lunchtime this tiny enclave is positively awash with bodies}, so we quickly resolved to dive down a side street in search of grub & contented ourselves with some piping hot samosas chased down with a breakfast bap slathered in hp sauce {the food of champions}

now ordinarily there’s not much that can beat a freshly-cooked bacon sarnie on a bitterly cold day, but by far the highlight of my day, & the purpose of this post, was my encounter with a tiny art gallery called nelly duff {cockney rhyming slang for ‘life’}…

nelly duffy

{pure evil, chris bourkeangelique houtkamp}

established in 2005, nelly duff was reputedly one of the first physical spaces to exhibit street art internationally…

today you will find the shop front, walls & the perimeter of the floor plastered with an assortment of works from artists at the forefront of the street, tattoo and graphic art world, including a certain cheeky chappy bearing the moniker ‘banksy’…

nelly duffy

{chris bourkehinpatrick thomasmark pawson}

iconic pieces aside, i was surprised to learn that several of the artworks available were actually very reasonably priced {less than £60, whereas banksy retailed for upwards of £2000}…

so it wasn’t long until i had mentally curated an entire artwall of affordable pieces for my home…

nelly duffy

{sam chiverskozyndankozyndandan hillier}

& some obvious themes began to emerge: victoriana references, feathers & nostalgic imagery featured heavily…

nelly duffy

{serge seidlitz, alex binniechris bourke}

as did birds, bears & tatts…

in fact anything with body art or animals incorporated was pretty much a sure bet…

so, whilst my boyfriend might be spared future outings in search of temporary beauty, he may not escape so lightly when it comes to acquiring some more permanent pieces for the home…

images via: nelly duff

the story teller {tim walker}…

here’s one for the diary if you happen to be in london this autumn/winter…

the fantastical world of mr tim walker, fashion photographer extraordinaire, is being brought to life in an exhibition at somerset house

tim walker: story teller is a celebration of his work over the past five years & combines highlights of his other-worldly photography interspersed with installations, props & models…

it promises to be a rare opportunity to see the curtain drawn back on the inner workings of a most-inventive mind…

the exhibition opens today & runs until 27 january…

i am most-assuredly going & shall report back!

image via: fashion.telegraph

a little slice of heaven {petersham nurseries}…

it doesn’t seem that long ago {though, of course, it was} that my parents would coerce my siblings & i out of the house on the guise of a family outing, only to find ourselves being dragged kicking & screaming around a plant nursery or a family friend’s strawberry farm…

closer to home, my dad would conduct guided tours of his garden to a rather reluctant audience {me} wherein leaves would be inspected for signs of bugs or disease, fine flower specimens would be proudly held aloft so as to better adore them & my dad’s gaze would meet mine as he awaited the praise deserving of his efforts…

it never came: instead i’d roll my eyes {international teenage speak for disinterest} or fold my arms across my chest in mock annoyance…


fast forward more years than i care to admit to & now it’s me dragging my 75-year-old mum down country lanes & along unpaved paths in search of what i hoped was not an urban myth…

our efforts were indeed rewarded…

tucked on the outskirts of london, about 10-15 minutes by bus from richmond, lies the legendary petersham nurseries: row after row of dirt-floor greenhouses brimming with time-worn antiques, timeless homewares &, of course, every conceivable gardening aid…

i’ve long dreamt of a place where i could contentedly spend my days shuffling amid potting racks & seedling trays, but never in my mind’s eye did i concoct a setting as glorious this one…

each corner of the shop is beautifully curated & {seemingly} effortlessly styled… french shutters sit alongside garden benches whilst zinc-topped tables & painted wooden cupboards are laden with wares ranging from votives & drinking vessels, to walking sticks & watering cans…

all, of course, beautifully offset by lush greenery & colourful blooms…

& the result is truly breathtaking…

whilst it would have been easy to spend the entire of our visit ogling at the tablescapes, an amble outside brought its own rewards too: walled gardens & shady retreats, raised beds heavy with flowering bushes, potted pear trees under-planted with strawberries & wheeled carts loaded with herbs & heathers…

& as if we hadn’t been spoilt enough, there at the end of a long dirt row stood a quaint teahouse offering home-made treats, aptly housed in a garden shed, of course!

a little slice of heaven indeed!

suits you ma’am…

just popping in to share a beautiful bit of bling that caught my eye recently…

i’ve been loving a lot of the shop windows in london of late… first it was the chelsea flower show which saw the streets of kensington bursting in blooms… then along came the jubilee hysteria with its bunting fest & all things british… but it has saddened me of late to see the riot of union jacks being elbowed out of prime position by some rather lack-lustre tributes to the wimbledon tournament…

don’t get me wrong, i love watching a bit of tennis as much as the next person, but let’s face it, giant green fuzzy balls have nothing on diamonds & corgis…

& so it was, a smile was restored to my cheeks when i came upon this little jubilee flashback: still in tact, still assuming poll position, still as brit-tastic as ever…

long to reign over us indeed!

coffee & colour shots {portobello road}…

this made me smile today…

some lively tiling to brighten up a railway underpass…

& great coffee served from a clever combie conversion!

portobello road markets at its finest!

what made you smile today?

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