Antelope in a leotard!

Vintage shop update Ella Johnston Yeah, here’s an antelope in a leotard. What of it?

I picked up this wooden antelope ages ago for 50p and, while I love it, this guy was looking a bit tatty and old. Then I saw a great craft project idea from Handsome Vintage who upcycles retro wooden creatures and pimps them up to make them ‘hipster’. Handsome Vintage has a wonderful collection of hand-painted pieces with intricate patterns and bright colours – it’s such a bright and original revamp idea so I thought I’d give it a go with my little guy.
Vintage shop update Ella Johnston I sanded old Andy the Antelope down (there’s another Ella’s Menagerie back story post due soon – Andy has an amazing tale to tell) and gave him a paint with bright yellow acrylic paint. Then I used a white posca pen to give the leotard a 1980s-inspired pattern. I gave him a spray of varnish too so his ‘tard stays in place.
Vintage shop update Ella Johnston Unlike Handsome Vintage, I have no intention of selling Andy. He has now become a firm favourite in our house, beloved particularly by Dr B of all people.Vintage shop update Ella Johnston I’m now obviously on the hunt for other charity shop animals (wooden or ceramic) that I can give similar treatments to. And, once she’s back from maternity leave, may purchase some brothers and sisters from HV.

Monday Moodboard: Soft Shades

Monday Moodboard Soft shades

I’m loving this week’s moodboard of sweet, soft shades but you’re probably wondering how I got to it.

I’m on product development mode at the moment and consequently my desk is full of colour swatches, trend reports and tear sheets. Loads of the latter are from last year, which featured these particular shades a lot. I still adore the combinations of greens, blues, creams and pinks – I’m interested to see what new soft shade combinations will be in vogue for spring and summer this year.

Home Inspiration: Nina Kullberg

Nina Kullberg

Although my own work is detailed and intricate using fairly muted shades, I’m actually a very big fan of strong graphic pattern and bold colours in my home, especially in my soft furnishings. So when I saw that Nina Kullberg was launching a new set of cushions I had to take a closer look.

I’ve been fond of Nina Kullberg’s work for a while – I’m a little obsessed with her instagram account truth be told. The simplicity of her pattern and her vibrant palette in her cushion collection is just lovely. And, she’s not scared of a muted tone either, just check out her exquisite throws in beige and grey.

Anyway as all good designers know, it’s vital to respond to trends so the designer has embraced the Pantone Colour of the Year 2017 Greenery in her new collection of cushions. I think these are perfect for spring and summer and would look lovely in a crisp white bedroom or sunny conservatory.

Take a look at Kullberg’s website for more.

Nina Kullberg Palm Springs in Alfalfa £67
Nina Kullberg Palm Springs in Alfalfa £67
Nina Kullberg Athens in English Ivy Green £67
Nina Kullberg Athens in English Ivy Green £67
Nina Kullberg London in Hemlock Green
Nina Kullberg London in Hemlock Green
Nina Kullberg London in Alfalfa
Nina Kullberg London in Alfalfa
Nina Kullberg Paris English Ivy Green
Nina Kullberg Paris English Ivy Green

Monday Moodboard Bloomsbury

As you know by now I develop little obsessions over the course of my research and this Monday Moodboard is dedicated to my latest obsession, The Bloomsbury Group and in particular Charleston House.

The Bloomsbury Group was a collective of friends and relatives who were intellectuals, writers and artists. They had all lived, worked or studied together in the London district of Bloomsbury in the early part of the 20th Century that include figures such as Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell, the art critic Clive Bell, painter Roger Fry and John Maynard Keynes. Artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant (with his lover David Garnett) moved to Charleston House in Sussex at the start of the First World War and stayed there for decades, holding gatherings galore.

The house itself is a work of art in itself; Inspired by Italian fresco painting and the Post-Impressionists, the artists decorated the walls, doors and furniture at Charleston. It’s my mission to visit next year and I will make sure I’ll report back.

It’s time… Get set for Christmas!

From George Home
Decorations From George Home

It’s mid November so I feel it’s a respectable time to start getting set for Christmas. I thought I’d just do a really image-led post featuring some key festive looks that I like for home, gifting and decoration.

Retro shimmer

Decorations from Dunelm
Decorations from Dunelm

This look brings out the little girl in me. I would imagine the six year old me would have loved a shimmery, glittery tree in pinks, golds, turquoises, silvers and purples. When I was that age, the shinier the better and, while I try to be a grown up, this look still shouts “Christmas” to me.

From Next
From Next

Kiddie Christmas

From Sainsbury's
From Sainsbury’s

Now it if was up to Dr B, this is what Christmas would look like at our place.

When it comes to wrapping, I  go classy with kraft paper and twine or black/white iridescent wrap with contrasting ribbon and tags, Dr B goes all out with robins, trees, snowmen, santas and Christmas puds. His go-to colours are red, green and white because it is “proper”. He likes the fun of this look, the playfulness and, like my retro shimmer look, it reminds him of childhood. I like it too but I’m not sure if it would suit my gaff.

Totes trad

From Marks & Spencer
From Marks & Spencer

Love this. The sumptuous textures teamed with the plaid, plus the traditional motifs and colour ways combined with twinkly lights and little finishes such as berry and fir wreaths and centre pieces create a warm, cosy feel that immediately references this time of year.

From Dunelm
From Dunelm

The totes trad look feels both festive and grown up. You kinda feel Christmassy as soon as you see it and just looking at these pictures makes me want to reach for the hot chocolate and my slippers.

From Sainsbury's
From Sainsbury’s

Light luxe

From George Home
From George Home

This metallic style is a kind of grown up version of the retro shimmer look.

From Marks & Spencer
From Marks & Spencer

I like the way you can be playful with this look – you can do glitter, you can adorn gifts and decorations with baubles and frosting – but the overall effect is quite chic. I love the art deco references of this and think it really comes together through the coordinating colour way of pinks, navies, silvers and gold/bronze metallics.

From House of Fraser
From House of Fraser
HyperFocal: 0
From George Home

Frosted 

From House of Fraser
From House of Fraser

You can do two versions of the frosted Christmas – the one above (trad touches, cosy finishes etc) or the one below (minimal styling, subtle references). Whatever your style the look shares the same cool colour suite teamed with pretty metallic accents and snowflake and wreath motifs.

From Sainsbury's
From Sainsbury’s

Scandi Lodge

From Amara
From Amara

I know everyone has been talking about ‘hygge’ of late and I suppose this look reflects this.

From Amara
From Amara

This graphic style is perfect for me but I know that some find this look a little too austere and maybe too stark. However you can soften it up by being more playful with your decorative elements and use of pattern like the examples below…

From Dunelm
From Dunelm
From George Home
From George Home

Latin winter

From Paperchase
From Paperchase

This is my wildcard but I can’t resist showcasing this range from Paperchase. The colours are warm and vibrant while the motifs are so playful and fun. It’s a great alternative for those who aren’t keen on snowflakes.

From Paperchase
From Paperchase

New Floral Romance Furniture from MiaFleur

miafleur-floral-romance-four-drawer-cabinet-360-floral-romance-stool-102-faux-areca-palm-tree-128 I’m currently coveting MiaFleur’s new Floral Romance furniture collection.
miafleur-floral-romance-four-drawer-cabinet-360-2
In jewel colours with lavish floral designs, this collection showcases the beautiful 2016 moody botanical trend. While very feminine and classic, the furniture also has contemporary shapes and details, which gives this painterly style a cool update.
miafleur-floral-romance-stool-102-1 Launched in October, the range comprises of four select pieces featuring these dreamy floral designs, designed to be used individually to add charm and character to any room, or in combination with other pieces. I think the drawers would look great for bedroom storage and would make a wonderful key statement piece in a plain space.

Check out the full collection here.
miafleur-floral-romance-stool-102-2

Beginner’s Guide: Pressing Flowers

Flower pressing Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk At the moment I’m continually snipping flower heads in my garden to promote new growth so I’m exploring pressing flowers to make full use of them. Here’s my very rough guide for beginner’s.
Flower pressing Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk I like to think my home has always embraced the Danish concept of ‘hygge’ the idea of enjoying life’s simple pleasures – that’s what I try to show on this blog. I believe something like flower pressing reflects this concept as all I’m really trying to do is preserve some of the enjoyment Dr B and I get from spending time tending to our garden.
Flower pressing Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk I haven’t bought any fancy equipment for my pressing (maybe I’ll live to regret this), instead I’m being strictly old school on this and applying a method me and my mum used to use when I was a kid.
Flower pressing Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.ukI’m using one of my handmade coptic bound books to contain these blooms. I like these books as you can open the pages fully without having to worry about the gutter or  breaking the spine.
Flower pressing Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.ukAs I say I haven’t got a fancy contraption for pressing the flowers. I’ve simply got my big heavy art books and a very heavy marble block pressing on top of them. I’ll show you how it turns out in a month or two.
Pressing flowers Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.ukFlower pressing Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

Monday Moodboard: Metallics

Monday moodboard: Metallics Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

Every single interiors retail show I visited over the summer this year featured metallics, particularly copper, that’s why it’s this week’s Monday Moodboard.

Fans of simplicity take note. You don’t have to be full-on bling to embrace a bit of metallic joy in your life (although don’t mind a bit of bling sometimes). Metallics can achieve a dramatic, opulent look but you can also use metallics to add warmth and texture to things as I hope I’ve shown here.

Metallic touches can be subtle, chic and classy I promise; underlaid under shabby chic furniture, incorporated into abstract-impressionist inspired painting, a subtle accent onto painted pebbles, gorgeous vintage bakewares even to brighten up a simply-shaped cake – it’s not all about blinding people with glamour and sparkle.

Friday fun: Sort of Shelfie!

Ella Johnston Dining RoomOf late there has been a trend for ‘shelfies’; things on people’s shelves that reveal a bit about them.

I’ll try and do a semi regular one for Ella’s Place as they are a bit of Friday fun and it’s always nice to have a bit of a nose.

This time I’m doing a ‘sort of shelfie’ with the items on my mainly blue and white dining room sideboard. Here’s a list of items from left to right.

1: Floor lamp made with Dannells kit and bluebell fabric from Spoonflower.
2: Pierre Luigi, a flamboyant Bitossi Rimini pigeon. You can read his story here.
3: PL is sat on Letters of Note and More Letters of Note, visit the Letters of Note Website for fab correspondence.
4: Books, including The Beechwood Airship Interviews by Dan Richards where you can see some of my sister Lucy Johnston’s photography
5: Vintage Habitat vase.
6: Adorable plain grey vase.
7: Our wedding picture (don’t we look young).
8: Old glass bottle with dried flowers, poppy heads and grasses.
9: Fabric covered tea-light box (you can see how I made it here)
10: Large lamp made with Dannells kit using Spoonflower fabric with base sprayed in matt blue paint.

The large square gorgeous thing on the wall is a beautiful Liberty silk scarf the lovely Dr B gave me on our 12th wedding anniversary that I had framed. I adore it.

DIY: My fabric designs

Ella Johnston Fabric designs ellasplace.co.ukI had a very exciting delivery last week from Spoonflower, who sent me some of my new pattern designs on fabric.

Ella Johnston Fabric designs ellasplace.co.ukI’d worked up four designs taken from my illustrations. I wanted to see how they would work as a patten repeat and if it translated onto fabric.
Ella Johnston Fabric designs ellasplace.co.ukElla Johnston Fabric designs ellasplace.co.ukThe theme of this year for me has been to get out of my comfort zone. So I’ve created patterns with my tropical leaf drawings,  laurel leaf and feather design, watercolour spots and fox terrier illustration. I have done other, very simple, designs in the past with my hand-carved heart and leaf designs but these have been one colour one white and very basic repeat. Ella Johnston Fabric designs ellasplace.co.ukThis was new territory for me and I’ve not normally been this playful with my pattern designs before. Still, I’m loving pushing myself and these new design were a lot of fun to put together.
Ella Johnston Fabric designs ellasplace.co.ukCreating repeat fabric designs is kind of like a jigsaw puzzle. I make a ’tile’ so that it’s one square that can be joined together and repeated to create an overall pattern that can cover as big an area as you desire. It’s a really efficient way of creating a  large design.
Ella Johnston Fabric designs ellasplace.co.uk Seeing as I’m talking about getting out of my comfort zone I have to face one major stumbling block for me; sewing! I have undertaken some sewing projects before and have attended some great classes with Sew Over It but I admit I’m not the most confident with a machine.

I think I need some stitchy advice. What should I make with these fab fabrics? Where does an unconfident sewer like me start? Send help!
Ella Johnston Fabric designs ellasplace.co.ukElla Johnston Fabric designs ellasplace.co.uk