Meet Ella’s Menagerie part 2

Meet my menagerie part 2 (c) ellasplace.co.ukIn September I introduced you to some members of the household; our cool animals and characters that ‘guard’ our rooms, our shelves and our surfaces. Here are some more of our friends, with a little bit of their (imagined) back stories.

Rory (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk
Rory the puffin
This Kay Bojesen Puffin Wooden Figurine is known to us as Rory. I’m telling you this guy is a riot! He flew into our lives last Christmas and my goodness he’s had the whole place in stitches ever since. Lewd, sometimes crude but never, ever rude or offensive, Rory has spent a lot of time in the Orkney Islands hanging out with his fellow puffins,’taking the pish’ out of the seals and enjoying a the odd very fine single malt with the fisherman ‘ma pals’. He has an anecdote for every occasion, is always up for a sing song yet is wonderfully well-versed in literature – particularly ancient folk tales and Icelandic sagas. We’ll often find him with his arm round one of the menagerie giving them a little pep-talk, or simply making them smile. This dude is a legend!

Rory (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

Elma (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

Elma
Stoic, strong, in many ways the rock of the house. Elma has been with us for eight years. We found her where we discovered Ian at Family Tree in Exmouth Market. Loving, caring and fantastic with small children, Elma has been through a great deal in her life as her sad, kind eyes reveal. In her youth she was a pretty wee thing on the late sixties and seventies fashion scene. For a while she very popular with magazine editors, pop stars, photographers and millionaires, but when fashion changed she was rejected by them all. No longer in vogue, she retreated to Ibiza in the eighties. There she lived with her artist lover, who, while very charming, was unfortunately a serial gambler, adulterer and all-round philanderer. She wanted children but knew this was incompatible with his chaotic lifestyle. After 15 years of enduring his infidelities, Elma had had enough and came back to England. She then started working with underprivileged children in inner city London which she describes as the most fulfilling period of her life. Though retired now, Elma still does a lot of volunteering and has expressed an interest in working at the local food bank.

Elma (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

John & Paul (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.ukJohn and Paul
These Quail ceramic Nuthatch pair are not brothers but very, very old school friends who have been inseparable since they were five years old. It took a while for the pair to get settled here. Having been with us for a year we’re beginning to find out a bit more about them (thanks to Rory). They came from a well-known public school that was apparently quite robust in terms of discipline and had some rather strong personalities in their year, as sensitive boys this really didn’t suit them. When they were 18 they went to a London art college together but that didn’t really work out (we’re not sure why) and for a long time they just ‘worked in bars around Europe’ before spending ‘some time in Berlin’ (?). They wanted to come to Wivenhoe to find their hero Martin Newell and make it with their own brand of pop music.

John and Paul (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

Eliza (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.ukEliza
Lovely Eliza may look innocent, but this hand-painted Donna Wilson wooden doll is anything but. This girl has lived and loved and is all the better for it. A singer and entertainer on the Northern club circuit and latterly a regular fixture on the cruise liner top bills, Eliza has seen it all. Nothing fazes this chick; scared of no-one, she’s hard drinking, got a mouth like a sewer and a heart of pure gold! ‘I’ve kept my looks, cos my looks have kept me’ is just one of her many sayings (well one I can print anyway). A pure sweetheart, Eliza is very sensitive and kind; she’s great mates with Elma and is often heard joining Rory in a impromptu performance of old rebel songs.

Eliza (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

Pierre Luigi (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk
Pierre Luigi the pigeon
Ah Pierre Luigi, a flamboyant Bitossi Rimini pigeon of the very vintage variety. We found him in Blitz just off London’s Brick Lane because he ‘needed to see what the beautiful kids where doing’ but he was very disappointed. He would be. Pierre Luigi is only used to the best of things, having hung out most of his life with  Italian, French and Spanish sub-aristos in some of the most beautiful chateaus and palaces in the world. He ‘lives for beauty – even when it is ugly’ and is a massive fan of Puccini and Rossini, often blasting out their operas at full volume when in need of inspiration.

Pierre Luigi (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

Pierre Luigi (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

Alvin (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.ukAlvin the house bird
Pierre Luigi adores Alvin the Eames house bird describing him as ‘so sleek, so elegant, so kind, so gentle but with a broody, intense edge’. It’s not actually a bad description. Although we found him at First Site in Colchester, his journey to us has been rocky. A rich boy, he was hot-housed in education and fast-tracked through a string of very high profile corporate gigs but, as is often the way of things, he burned out, reached rock bottom and was left with nothing. He describes this fall as a ‘liberation’ and he now devotes his time to reading political history and theory. He’s just applied for an MA in Human Rights and Cultural Diversity at the University of Essex. I can’t tell you how he broke his beak. Alvin (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

5 New Trends for Bedrooms

AW15/16 Bedroom Trends (c) ellasplace.co.ukWe’ve been in our Wivenhoe home for four years now and we still haven’t got round to doing up our bedroom properly. So it is my mission to get it revamped for the end of 2015 – or at least the beginning of 2016 (watch this space). I’ve scoured my look-books and magazine moodboards for inspiration and we (it’s a joint decision afterall) have shortlisted five current bedroom trends that would look fab in our little space. From traditional country classics to bright and contemporary, we’re still debating which style to go for – I personally like them all. I promise we’ll make up our minds soon.

Country Classics
I don’t normally go completely traditional in regards to interior design – I’m favour more of what you might call a mash-up look, or should that be eclectic? However, when it comes to bedrooms,  there’s something I can’t resist about wicker chairs, white wooden accents, artisan looking quilts and pretty florals. It just screams class and loveliness as well as making me feel grown up – I mean take a look at this lot, I’d feel like a French princess every morning if I woke up to this.

From B&Q
From B&Q
From Homebase
From Homebase
From House of Bath
From House of Bath
From Dotcomgiftshop
From Dotcomgiftshop
From Amara
From Amara

Bright and Beautiful
Accent notes in bold colours and vivid patterns are definitely my go-to when I’m usually looking for homewares. So I’m very taken with the trend for retro motifs, geometric weaves and bright painterly effects, plus the current palette of rich buttercup yellows, mint greens and warm berry shades. This look really suits my preference for mixing and matching styles as you can go to town with it or tone it down when teamed with greys and other more sober shades and organic, rustic materials such as wood or leather.

From Wallpaper Direct
From Wallpaper Direct
From Oliver Bonas
From Oliver Bonas
From HomeSense
From HomeSense
From Heals
From Heal’s
Occa Home
From Bluebellgray

Calming and Relaxing
A bedroom is a sanctuary and I’m very attracted to the idea of creating a space that is truly calm and restrained. We’re both so busy and I’d like to make a soothing, restful place for us to really wind down in. I’ve recently seen some lovely collections that fit the bill perfectly, combining soft hues, neutral tones and natural textures with elegant, subtle motifs – just gorgeous. 

From Sainsburys
From Sainsbury’s
From Next
From Next
From Aroma Works
From Aroma Works
From Debenhams
From Debenhams
From Rose & Grey
From Rose & Grey
From Mylands paints
From Mylands Paints

Modern Graphic
As you’ll know from my stamped stationery and fabric collections, I’m often drawn to strong pattern in a contemporary blue/grey colourway. Inspired by Shibori dying and Scandi design, this style seems to combine my love of bold graphics with my desire to create a tranquil space. Worth exploring.

From George at Asda
From Ville & Campagne
From Ville & Campagne
From inspaces
From In-Spaces
From Dunelm
From Dunelm

Fun and Quirky
Because the boudoir is a private space (behave!), I think you can afford to be a bit playful too. Even if it’s not massively full on, whatever general look I go for, I’ll be sure to inject a fun quirky element to my bedroom scheme – after all we all know how I love a little animal in every room

From Debenhams
From Debenhams
From the French Bedroom Company
From the French Bedroom Company

How I made easy fabric coasters in 10 minutes

Shibori fabric coasters (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk
This Shibori fabric coaster project is so easy I kind of feel bad posting it. It took me minutes to make and yet I think they look really stylish. And – seeing as I’m working on Christmas issues of my magazines at the moment – I reckon I may use the techniques employed here to whip up some handmade designer style pressies for my friends.

Shibori fabric coasters (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

I had a surplus of Shibori-dyed fabric from a recent workshop I attended and I haven’t got round to making cushions with my larger pieces of fabric yet, but I loved my scrap tester pieces that I made and wanted to do something nice with them.

Shibori fabric coasters (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

So I bought a set of blank MDF coasters, cut these scraps to size leaving a 1cm allowance. I then covered the MDF pieces with PVA. I tucked the fabric under and coated the whole lot with a varnish to seal in the fabric and protect the surface. Then once it was all dry I used a strong adhesive to apply a square of felt to the bottom to get rid of any ugly finishes and to provide a good base for the coaster.

Shibori fabric coasters (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

Shibori fabric coasters (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

I’m really pleased with them and use them all the time. A final note: a special shout out has to go for the delicious gluten-free carrot and almond cake (in the pictures, above) from the Wivenhoe Deli and Tea Rooms – I’m a fan and I’m not even gluten intolerant!

Dining Trends for Autumn Winter 2015

From Sainsbury's Home
From Sainsbury’s Home

Now we’re in October I’m declaring autumn officially open! I can lock up the barbecue (I make a great veggie one by the way) and look forward to inviting people round for some heartwarming indoor dinners. With this in mind I’m thinking of sprucing up my dining room with a few little key pieces and have been checking out the upcoming trends for autumn/winter 2015 that I thought I’d share with you.

ROYAL AND BERRY-STYLE COLOURS 
Deep navy blues, vivid purples, soft mulberry and raspberry shades are really popular right now, especially in terms of furniture, table accessories and paints. Much as I love the gothic sub-culture and goths I’m not sure I’m brave enough to go all out on this scheme but I may invest in some richly coloured hydrangeas and the odd cushion.

From Marks and Spencer
From Dunelm
From Dunelm
From LSA
From LSA International

METALLICS – ESPECIALLY COPPER!
Every single press show I’ve attended this year featured metallics and lots and lots of copper elements. You can go as full-on or as subtle as you like with this trend, grouping lots of lanterns and votives together, or simply choosing glassware with metallic finishes.

From Amara
From Amara
From Tesco
From Tesco
From Oliver Bonas
From Oliver Bonas
From Debenhams
From Debenhams
From Marks and Spencer
From Marks and Spencer

PATTERNS ON PLATES AND NAPKINS
While everything else is all about textures and colours, accessories such as plates and napkins are featuring ornate patterns. As someone who works with pattern and illustration I’m quite excited about this trend as I love little touches of illustration in homewares. And, although I’m a fan of big bold graphics, I do like the fact that more intricate designs are making a play this season.

From House of Fraser
From House of Fraser
From Amara
From Amara
From Wild & Wolf
From Thornback & Peel