Monday Moodboard #mondaymotivation – House plants

Monday Moodboard Houseplants

What better way to brighten up this dull Monday than with a plethora of house plants for this week’s moodboard?

Last week I noticed that the first 17 pictures (I know I counted them) from the people I follow on instagram were of house plants. These images particularly showed off the gorgeous greenery against cream, light grey or blush pink walls. Why not? Lush green leaves are a thing of beauty both indoors and out so I’m all for the botanical house plant trend and for bringing nature’s beauty into every aspect of our lives – even our bathrooms.

I’m even cultivating some monstera plants of my own with varying degrees of success; here’s my efforts so far…

Monstera plant (c) ellajohnston

Monstera plant to form I’m turning this current obsession into illustration too with Monstera watercolours on a blush pink background  selling as prints on Not On The High Street, Etsy and Folksy.
Leaf print Ella Johnston Not On The High StreetMonstera Leaf Print Folksy Ella Johnston

Monsterea leaf print Ella Johnston

Monday Moodboard: Henna designs

MOnday Moodboard Henna patterns After a busy fortnight with holidays, workshops and Christmas prep, I’m back with some insights from the outside world – a Monday Moodboard dedicated to henna designs and patterns.

I get trend reports and press previews all the time but every now and then a trend comes along that I don’t know about that really excites me. While I obviously know about these beautiful, ancient designs, and have even had these exquisite patterns  painted on myself in the past,  I didn’t know they were capturing peoples’ imaginations right now.

How wrong was I?

Every teenage girl that came to my Posca pen workshops in Manchester and Birmingham wanted to recreate mandala and henna designs.  They were really very adept at creating these patterns and told me that they wanted to place these designs on their clothes and homewares. It’s good to get out there and talk to people – you can always learn something.

Monday Moodboard: Moody Botanicals Trend

Monday Moodboard Ella's Place

I’m very excited about the up-coming trend for moody botanicals.  The contrast of soft peach, pink, white and cream tones on shades of navy, purple and grey is so effective. The overall look feels so romantic and dreamy. While it celebrates beautiful botanics, the style also gives more than a little nod to art history, evoking Rococo and Dutch flower painting themes. This trend will be everywhere later in the year and in 2017. It’s certainly inspired me to take a trip to the Wallace Collection for a little bit of research. I’ve already started to create some pieces with this theme in mind, with varying degrees of success, once I’ve nailed it I’ll let you know.

How I added a ‘Memphis lite’ element to my home

Memphis style tealights (c)

Last summer I went to the Pick Me Up show at Somerset House. Every year the show features a fresh line-up of artists and designers who are considered to reflect the best of new illustration, graphic design and related disciplines. It’s a great event for picking up on trends.

Almost every item in the 2015 show was influenced by the Memphis Group, an Italian design and architecture collective founded in Milan by Ettore Sottsass in 1981 that designed Postmodern furniture, fabrics, ceramics, glass and metal objects from 1981 to 1987. Since the show I can’t seem to pick up a magazine or visit an interiors site without reading a reference to this group. This style is big in 2016, so if you’re new to Memphis style take a look at my Pinterest board to familiarise yourself with it.

I must confess that it’s taken me a little while to embrace this particular look – I was a child in the 1980s so anything from that era has to work extra hard to win my favour. However the Memphis look is fresh, playful, fun and actually very easy to incorporate into interiors and crafts projects. It also, even 30 plus years on, looks surprisingly contemporary. You can go all out with it or incorporate little elements of this style to give your home or craft creations a quirky, on-trend edge.

So starting softly, I took Ettore Sottsas’ iconic Letraset design, as seen below, as an inspiration for a quick interiors update.

‘Letraset’ textile design by Ettore Sottsas

It’s a wonderfully simple, effective design that works well as a standalone pattern but can look fab  layered over different shades. It’s also great at different sizes.

Memphis style tealights (c)

I used this Letraset pattern as a ‘Memphis lite’ starting point to update some funky tea-light holders as a gift for my lounge. I got these little shot glasses from a charity shop and they are perfect lanterns for my tea-lights. However, left plain, I felt they were rather stark.

Memphis style tealights (c)
I used black permanent marker (the Memphis Group use a lot of black) to very loosely apply a similar pattern over the glasses. I wanted to play with the scale of the motifs to make the lanterns more varied and create interest when they were arranged together. I literally did this while I was watching telly one evening, and I’m pleased that this easy make made me think more about the Memphis Group’s work and has spurred me on to check it out further.

Memphis style tealights (c)

Hack: An Easy Way to Embrace Pastels

Pastel Painted Candle Votives (c)

As part of my on-going efforts to revamp my bedroom I’ve been looking to add a sense of calm and tranquility to the space. If you saw my previous post on the pastel trend you’ll see these tones are being touted as perfect for providing as sense of calm and relaxation and are currently dominating the high street.

I wanted an easy way to embrace pastels while giving my boudoir an handmade artisan touch. I also don’t want to commit myself to one colour or style yet as I’m still undecided as to how I want the room just yet. I needed a flexible update that I could change, so I got out my paints…

Pastel Painted Candle Votives (c)

First I painted a small canvas with a very simple layers of light, rose and dusky pinks to create a pop of gentle colour to brighten up my side tables.

Pastel Painted Candle Votives (c)

I liked my quick canvas but I wanted something to tie things together. I then remembered a project I did last year for Homemaker magazine. It was really simple but incredibly effective and all it involved was a set of acrylic paints and some filled glass candle votives.

Pastel Painted Candle Votives (c)

My house always has scented candle glass votives – I pick them up when I’m doing my grocery shopping and, if you don’t pick a pungent fragrance (give them a sniff) and don’t mind a shorter life span, you can buy them for about £1.50. I’ve used a rough, coarse brush to apply lilac and serenity blue paint on the base of the glass as I want a tactile, painterly feel to these pieces.

Pastel Painted Candle Votives (c)

They look fab on my bedside cabinets and I love the way they look when they are lit after I take a bath (I love a little spa feel) and when I’m reading in the evening or when unlit as a colourful ornament during the day. They also make great gifts for people too – I’ve done a couple of these for friends as part of a ‘relaxation box’ (more on that later) and they have loved them. Pastel Painted Candle Votives (c)

13 quick pastel updates

Pastel Trends (c)
Ferns Duck Egg Bed Linen £55, Secret Linen Store

I was out shopping with Dr B last week and he remarked how many pastel shades there were on the high street. It’s funny, as someone who looks at trends all the time and who is always looking at colourways, I’m used to pastels – I forget that by the time they hit the shops, I’m looking at the next new thing.

At the start of the year Pantone launched its colours for 2016; Rose Quartz and Serenity, stating that the colours “demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace”.  As well as championing the colours themselves, the company also outlined some exquisite colour pairings that can imbue a sense of calm and relaxation.

Pastel Trends (c)
Christy Supreme Towel Range Pink £30, Very

It’s simple to add a sense of tranquility to your spaces with the addition of soft pastels. These cool shades can really brighten interiors as well as set a soothing mood. And you don’t have to go full-on with pastel, simple touches will do. A bed spread, a pop of pink with some fluffy towels (as seen above), a subtle bud vase or some simple lighting could be all you need to embrace this trend. Here’s a little sampler of more pastel themed buys…

Pastel Trends (c)
Geo Stripe Throw £65, Oliver Bonas
Pastel Trends (c)
Set Of Eight Colour Pop Porcelain T-light Holders £19.95, dotcomgiftshop
Pastel Trends (c)
Set of two Roef Chairs in Serenity Blue £180, Cuckooland
Pastel Trends (c)
M&S Loft Mixing Bowl in Pastel Mix (set of 3) £15, Marks & Spencer
Pastel Trends (c)
Blue Swirl Glass Table Lamp £60, Next
Pastel Trends (c)
Rose Geometric Bud Vase £12.95, MiaFleur
Pastel Trends (c)
Eva Five-Drawer Jewellery Box £69. Oliver Bonas
Pastel Trends (c)
Colours Oxygen Emulsion Paint, B&Q
Pastel Trends (c)
Rarkids Pink Natural, £35, Cult Furniture
Pastel Trends (c)
Recycled Pastel Paisley Green Trinket Box, £7.50, Karenza & Co
Pastel Trends (c)
Set Of 3 Pastel Retro Suitcases, £13.94. Luck and Luck
Pastel Trends (c)
Pastel Lustre Vases (set Of 3), £42. MiaFleur

Beginner’s guide to the succulents plant trend

They’ve featured everywhere in style magazines recently, but what exactly is a succulent, and how can make them work for you? Here’s my quick guide.Ella Johnston #drawings of #succulent #plants at

What is a succulent?
They are plants adapted for arid conditions where they might need to store water to survive. To do this, succulents have thick, fleshy leaves. They come from all round the world – cacti from desert regions and Alpine plants that are more commonly seen in garden rockeries. It’s something of a catch-all, umbrella term, however, and sometimes cacti with needles are though of separately. My drawing, above, illustrates some of the common species of succulent – there are many, many variations within each species.

#Succulent plants pictured at
Succulents at Ella’s Place.

Are succulents easy to care for?
Yes. This perhaps explains some of their popularity. They’re easy to pick up from the local garden centre or florist (the ones above came from my local florist and B&Q!). Unlike some plants, they’ll cope with a little neglect. Generally, they like moisture but not being overwatered. Let them dry out completely between waterings and never let the the soil get soggy. If you’re planting outdoors, make sure the soil has good drainage. If they’re in a pot, make sure it has drainage holes in the bottom.

So are they really outdoor or indoor plants?
Some succulents are hardy and fit to survive northern European climates all year round. Some are from tropical regions that need to be looked after indoors over winter. Check the plant label to see which type of succulent you’ve got. Hardy plants can also be grown indoors, of course, and it’s really this that inspires the current trend. They’re great for small spaces and will be happy brightening a windowsill in any room of the house, as well as being a natural point of interest on a vintage sideboard or bookshelf.

How do I style them to look their best?
The fleshy leaves and range of shapes and colours of succulents means they’re already impressive-looking plants. Try grouping them together against a clean background to show off their various forms and textures.

#Succulent plants via

Succulents look great in vintage glassware and ceramics – the silver glassware below reflects the foliage to fantastic effect.

#Succulent plants #vintage at via

The mini terrariums, below, would look great hanging in a quiet kitchen space.

#Succulents #terrariums at via

And here’s my own test for any flower, foliage and plant trend: does it work for a wedding? The answer, as seen below in a table setting, is yes. Stunning!

#Succulent #wedding table setting at via

7 interiors with salvaged wood

Birds by Guy Taplin via

Where I live, by the creeks and estuaries in East Anglia, salvaged wood turns up in many people’s homes – crafted into sculptures of the wading birds that dot the shorelines in winter. Foremost among driftwood bird sculptors is Guy Taplin, who made the birds above. He’s sometimes known as the Bird Man of Wivenhoe. Along the river banks between his studio and Ella’s Place you’ll see upturned tenders (the little rowing boats that carry you out to the larger sailing or pleasure boats anchored further out on the water). Many of the houses are weatherboarded in the vernacular East Anglian style, too. A good friend of ours says it looks more like New England, USA, than Olde England.

The reclaimed and salvaged wood trend has been everywhere in interiors this year, too, cropping up in all kinds of editorials and ads. Used well to complement other materials and colours, it doesn’t need to overpower and can look chic, rather than just shabby.

Here are a few examples of the trend I’ve found recently.

Reclaimed salvaged wood accent wall

1. The neutral and earthy tones of reclaimed – salvaged – wood can help to soften a room when used carefully. The accent wall above is complemented by the stone, steel and leather, but allows the pop of a red armchair and yellow pouffe to stand out.

Reclaimed salvaged wood headboard

2. As a headboard, above, it provides the colour-pop on its own, jumping out to contrast with the colourful wall.

Recalimed wood headboard

3. The weathered boarding, above, adds notes of outdoor wilderness to a small space, without turning the room into a log cabin.

Reclaimed salvaged wood kitchen

4. Reclaimed wood units and shelves make for a stylish kitchen, above, that also helps to bring the outdoors in.

Reclaimed salvaged wood cupboard

5. A lighter touch in the kitchen with the trend comes with the addition of a single reclaimed wood cupboard, above.

Reclaimed salvaged wood wall

6. For a calming space, the natural tones of wood look great when set against clean whites and complementary shades. To mix things up, try bringing in different textures instead of colours.

Reclaimed salvaged wood accent wall

7. And remember that wooden panels can still be painted, even if they’re salvaged. The fun pops of colour above really help to lift the room.