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Spring Is Just Around The Corner!

So where did January go? And now February is nearly over! 2017 is going so quickly! We’ve got a whole host of renovation reveal posts to come in the next few weeks but thought we’d do a little roundup of whats hit our inbox this month.

The ever upbeat and fun Roxwell Press are doing a beginners watercolour class at an Icelandic inspired ICE-CREAM parlour in London! What more could you ask for? There’s a few final spaces available for the class on 4th March here.

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Made by Mrs M has a fresh new Spring collection launching later this week (24th February) taking inspiration from her recent travels to New York and Paris. You can see the collection in full when it hits her shop later this week but here’s a little sneak peek

Lastly the lovely Emily Quinton of Makelight beauty has a free five-day mini taster Instagram course which you can sign up for at the moment here. Anyone who follows her on Instagram knows that this will be inspirational!

We’ll be back in March with a series of posts on colour, design and interiors ready for any spring-cleaning and renovation inspiration you’re seeking. See you then!

 

Ola Origami | Absorbed in Paper

We’ve featured Ola before on the blog being a tiny bit obsessed with their stunning patterns and quality stationery however this time we’re sharing something from their Christmas shop;  the origami decoration kit. Whilst fantastic for Christmas they are quite frankly decorations we’ll probably display all year – especially as their homemade!

There are two kits to choose from but the one we selected was the Milano collection (top right) which was designed in collaboration with renowned origami artist Coco Sato.

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Using their signature patterned papers designed and Made In England you can make eight contemporary decorations.

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Learning a new skill takes time and concentration. With this in mind they are great for this time of year with long dark evenings when you just need to stop and quieten your mind and become absorbed in something that will take you away from day to day life.  We would recommend these for yourself or actually as a Christmas present as people may have the time to dedicate this time to a project over the holidays. We tackled it as a team of two and this definitely added to the enjoyment and sense of teamwork as we worked our way through the instructions.

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The kit comprises of 48 x small patterned squares, 12 x large patterned squares and satin ribbon and is presented in a hand-finished box with the instructions of how to make them all.

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Being novices at Origami it was exciting to undertake a new project but we have to be honest and say there were a few steps where we were completely foxed. Frustrating and funny at the same time those first ‘prototypes’ were definitely a challenge. However, the cheat sheet bit is that you get access to their exclusive step-by-step videos which show you how to do them and this always saved us when we had reached a dead end. A clever idea and great to have as a back up if you need it.

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We could see how we improved in our accuracy as the gaps got tighter and the decorations got more crisp. It was rewarding, fun and a great way of being creative with some guidance. We’d definitely recommend these as a beautiful present for someone with a love of paper to create their own bespoke decorations made by hand with paper made in England. What’s not to love?

Shop the Ola Studio Christmas Shop or follow on Instagram or Twitter for a shot of pattern and creativity.

For transparency we were sent the origami decorations as a challenge to make them as part of this feature! 

Illustrating Home | Capturing Spirit

When we moved into our 1970s bungalow in Dorset from our terraced Bath Stone 1930s home packed full of character the initial impression wasn’t one of immediate attraction… However we knew that there were plenty of pluses with bungalows. The first being space, the second being all-on-one-level (handy with two tiny children) and the third being detatched. The bungalow was also a 5 minute walk to the beach which was a definite selling point and 3 years on we’re in love with the home we’re working so hard to create. It feels like home.

Here’s a little before & now photo which illustrates our work to date to keep a midcentury vibe but reference its coastal setting with the addition of new window sizes, shutters, cedar wood slatting, a white and grey paint update and tropical landscaping to include banana plants and numerous spiky plants.

 

Our focus has remained very much on getting the back extension and internal renovation finished but next up is to remove the green tile-hung frontage and replace with cedar wood, update the guttering and to relocate the ugly yellow alarm box! Even though there is a never-ending to-do list we can appreciate how far we’ve come and it was lovely when Michelle from Roxwell Press offered to capture our home renovation project with her customised illustration portrait service.

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When the result arrived via post it was incredible to see how she’d really captured the spirit of the place (also kindly future-proofing the portrait with the cedar cladding rather than the current green tiles!). Michelle created the portrait by working from photographs we provided and asked about planting, colours and textures and it was this attention to detail that has ensured such a pleasing portrait which feels like home.

The bungalow always really sings on a bright blue day and it’s amazing to have this captured in the illustration. All that remains is to get it framed and hung. We’re thinking in the kitchen and know it’ll be a talking point!

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The good news is that YOU can actually win a customised house portrait worth £100 by entering this competition which is running until 6th October. All you need to do is sign up with your email address to receive her occasional e-newsletters which feature sample sales, competitions and free hand-designed wallpapers for your screen. There is also currently free delivery on all orders (including a single card) at the moment so do take a look at her website or perhaps get an early order in for Christmas cards (if we’re allowed to mention the ‘C’ word yet).

If you’re not lucky enough to win Roxwell Press will offer a discount code to everyone whose signed up to the e-newsletter for the launch of this new house portrait service or you can skip the queue and pre-order with Michelle@roxwellpress.co.uk.

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Last but not least you might want to follow Roxwell Press on Twitter or Instagram where the winner will be announced early October. Good Luck!

 

 

 

#IBA16 | Voting Phase!

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 08.10.34Just a quick little post to share the great news… Voting for #IBA16 is now open!

ecomodernstudios is a place to celebrate innovative fun design and our experiences in design. This year we have been fortunate enough to be included in the Best Design Inspiration Blog category in the Amara Interior Blog Awards. The awards were set up by Amara.com in 2014 and driven by an appreciation of great design – they stock really beautiful designers which include Tom Dixon, Orla Kiely and Kartell for starters!

So, if you enjoy reading the blog please do click on the link below which will take you through to the voting page:

http://www.interiorblogawards.com/vote/ecomodernstudios/

There are some fantastic bloggers in this category so we’re really honoured to be listed, some incredibly well known bloggers and some less so, so it’s definitely worth checking out the list to discover some real talent.

Voting will close on 9th September and only one vote per person is allowed!

Thank you for your support xx

Camp Bestival | Dorset Speed

So it’s the summer holidays and we decided to take our boys (aged 2 & 4) to their first festival. Specifically, a four-day childrens festival in Dorset; Camp Bestival. Headliners are as diverse as Mr. Motivator and Dick and Dom to Fatboy Slim so there is something for everyone! We had a exhilarating bonding experience absorbing the sun, colour and fun and we wanted to share some of the vibrancy of our weekend on the blog…

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 08.54.05This years huge flag designs were by Angus Watt and were dominating and impressive evoking the desired effect of power, beauty and grace against the beautiful blue skies.

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Similarly there was lots of ribbons and material bunting which designated different areas throughout the festival. Streamed up in large swathes they were fun and provided movement and colour as you explored the site.

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Confetti. Lots of it! The kids ran around collecting it and its near on impossible not to burst into smiles watching it rain down on you as Mr. Tumble kindly illustrates here…

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This years theme was space so there were some wonderful space sculptures which were highly reflective and often lit up with help from multiple sources including fire.

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Lasers and glow sticks around the main stage in the warm evenings completed the holiday vibe.

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At night the neon lights led you from one area to the next and it felt like an enormous playground for adults and children alike!

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By far our favourite design was the two spacemen who shifted colour and light looming in front of the castle…. they were enormous and really evoked the spirit of fun, creativity and passion that the festival provided.

As Dorset-based bloggers there was something so pleasing about experiencing such an exhilarating ‘Outer Space’ experience in Dorset. It was quite unlike anywhere we’ve ever been. Perhaps see you there next year!

 

 

 

 

 

Kitchen tales: The build and prep phase

Kitchens are often described as the ‘hub of the home’ and something we here in England obsess about. There is an alarming trend for spending enormous sums on a kitchen created by a designer which leaves the rest of us wondering how on earth we can afford one. The answer is by taking it back into your own hands and getting creative.

With us moving our kitchen into the new extension everything had to be from scratch which meant we weren’t confined to existing drainage or electricity points and it put the onus on us to get the design right. This is our longterm home and we wanted to install something with longevity for both ourselves and future owners. Whilst we argued over if there was space for a breakfast bar (there wasn’t) we spent time creating a practical triangle (between the oven, hob and sink) and ensuring placements were practical (dishwasher next to the sink etc). Whilst in the design phase it’s often easy to gloss over impractical placements but DO fight the urge to put pretty ahead of practical!

We’re only part way through our kitchen build but thought we’d showcase progress so far:

We bought the kitchen cabinets from IKEA and had them delivered which was a practical choice given there were 120 flat-pack boxes!

IMG_0536We chose the inexpensive Veddinge fitted kitchen in matt grey. Whilst stand-alone units are wonderful, fitted cabinets really maximise storage and being a family of 4 this is now one of our top priorities! Being IKEA you can of course change the colours of the doors / styles as necessary and we liked the ‘future proofing’ this provided. The units are solid so they don’t have gaps for installing utilities like other kitchens you can buy in the UK but its easy enough to drill access holes and this doesn’t compromise the strength of the units. We then spent a long weekend putting together the carcases and even the kids were great with some of the repetitive builds like the plastic feet.

IMG_0688The next part is fixing the cabinets to the wall (and to each other). It’s here you discover the walls aren’t perfectly straight or you have wobbly floors so its best to allow lots of time (and patience) for this part. In our last kitchen we used hidden push openers but they didn’t cope with the heavy drawers well so unfortunately (we love the minimalism of handleless drawers) we’ve decided we need to install handles. The handles we’re using are fixed to the inside of the drawers at the top so it means we can change them in the future if we want to change the look or functionality as the handles we’ve chosen leave the doors perfectly in tact from the front.

FullSizeRender 13With the washing machine at the end of the units we had to build an ‘end’ to it which the husband swiftly did with sheets of mdf. We always look to build in display storage wherever we can to add character and functionality to spaces and this was a handy place to display cookery books (in addition to the two yellow boxouts we bought). We’ll accent the bookshelf by painting the backing in Little Greene Mister David Yellow or possibly Lamp Black.

Similarly to hide the kitchen worktop from the kitchen table we raised the area above the sink with a simple timber construction clad in mdf. This also avoids any splash back to people sitting at the table and in time we’ll add a simple shelf, splashback glass and paint.

The next step felt really exciting – using ply to create the worktop template for the concrete pour. We’ve gone with a wonderful company called Z Counterform who let you DIY using their kits. This means you can create kitchen worktops which are personal to you and the space you’ve created (no annoying joints). We settled on a White Concrete mix with a square edge profile (but you can choose whichever you like). and they look like stone on completion so are a sturdy look for your kitchen which adds to that feeling of home. Watch out for a blog post on this shortly.

Our top tips so far:

  • When you’re 90% sure which kitchen you want to proceed with buy a unit. We decided to go with a grey kitchen. Installing a kitchen into a room which wasn’t a previous kitchen was daunting so we bought a single unit and built it in situ to check before taking the plunge and ordering the kitchen. Whilst it seemed risky spending £100 on something we couldn’t return we knew worst case scenario we could use it in the garage and it would be easier than returning 120 boxes after we’d ordered it if they didn’t look right!
  • Think of your triangle. Using packaging cut out templates for the size of sink and hob so you can check the proportion of workspace you have around them as you’ll want everything in proportion which can be tricky to visualise when starting from scratch.
  • Shop around and if you can – buy in advance and store to avoid panic-buying. Through cash back schemes, brand online outlet stores and eBay we’ve saved a fortune on our appliances. Warning: it might take over your evenings though…
  • Splurge on the items you’ll use every day. We’ve gone for an induction hob for the benefits of safety, lower energy consumption and speed. We know we will cook every day! Likewise our Rangemaster sink was a splurge but we loved the unusual modernist square proportions of it which visually tied to some of our bargain Smeg appliances and we don’t regret it.
  • Think about storage and add in display areas if you can to break up the ‘fitted’ nature of the space to make it feel more like you. Our yellow display boxes handily matched with the shots of yellow we had in the house and whilst they were fiddly for us to build them out to be flush with the wall units we think the extra work was worth it. Likewise extra storage for cookbooks with their lovely covers on display seemed a handy and colourful way to finish off the end of the unit in the kitchen. Don’t be afraid to add your stamp!

Would love to hear your experiences and tips too!

ecomodernstudios x

 

 

 

Desks for small spaces | 5 of the best

I’ve admired ecomodernstudios for a while now – Hilary features some of the most gorgeous designs and I feel like every time I read one of her posts I’ve fallen in love with yet another beautiful piece. So collating a list of the desks with the biggest wow factor I could find to feature on her blog was an absolute pleasure.

Like many of you, I often work from home, which in a small home has some real challenges. I’ve featured some cool little small space office solutions before on my blog Small Space People but none are as design-led and instantly covetable as these!

I hope you enjoy them. I’ve got my eye on all of these, so next time I’m revamping my home office I’ll definitely be returning to this list…

Rewrite desk by GamFratesi

So this mid-century cool little number is perfect for those of you that have nothing more than a corner to dedicate to your mini-office, and yet need somewhere that you can completely focus on the job in hand. Its cocoon-like bubble would be perfect for those times when you really need to get your head down, yet it’s small and minimal enough not to take over a space.

Lots of great features make this a surprising yet amazingly functional and beautiful desk: the walls of the ‘bubble’ are acoustically protected on both sides to give a shielding from sounds both inside and out; there’s a white cable box mounted underneath the main desk to keep your wires tidy; and it’s covered with textile to enhance its welcoming look.

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Image from Dezeen

Deskbox by Raw Edges/Arco

Here’s a super sleek desk if there ever was one! I love this for small spaces for so many reasons: it’s wall mounted, so no legs to clutter up the space, it’s foldaway which means you can hide your desk clutter and things you’ve been working on easily, and it’s a beautiful minimal design which would work in a variety of settings.

The Hackney design duo and Dutch manufacturer released this in Milan’s Salon Internazionale del Mobile in 2012, and its solid oak and epoxy steel construction is bound to make it really durable and strong. The hinge mechanism folds down easily for working and folds back up to form a shelf when the desk isn’t in use.

I naturally love this because it’s been designed just around the corner from me in North London, but it’s an absolutely beautiful yet practical idea for working at home with hardly any space.

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Image from Arco

COM:POS:ITION 0.9 (from Gentle Objects by Martin Mestmacher)

Launched in 2014, this is a bolder, almost Mondrian-esque line of black steel-framed designs, including this bureau style offering. Featuring a small desk with a pull out drawer and a high mounted cabinet, it’d be a really striking look for a monochrome room.

The range comprises so many different combinations for wall storage and function. The frame is black powder-coated steel, with black stained oak and stainless steel for the fixings.

Of the Gentle Objects title, Martin Mestmacher says gentle is ‘a synonym for eternalness and silence’ (perfect for working on your latest project!) and objects stands for ‘an expression of the variety of our spectrum which we can offer you.’ A vast combination of designs to fit your space with a timeless look sounds good to me!

Stockholm range by Mario Ruiz

Here’s another neat little wall-mounted number (can you tell I’m in love with these?!). Combining wood and coloured aluminium effortlessly, this range features a lot of very beautiful pieces for your home, including sideboards, chests, media units and this gorgeous little desk.

With potentially endless colour combinations with 7 different wood finishes and 3 different colours for the anodised aluminium top, this is something you could really match to your home, or equally make a statement with some bold colourways.

Regarding himself as a designer who ‘says a lot with very little’, Mario Ruiz works in Barcelona. The Stockholm range won the 2015 Red Dot Design Award.

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Image from Design Milk

Royal System® by Poul Cadovius

If you’re looking for a minimal option which incorporates shelving and cabinet options then look no further.

This piece is steeped in history. Way back in 1948, Cadovius designed the first wall-mounted shelving system with many different combinations – shelves, drawers, cabinets, even a bureau style pull out desk. Back in the 50s and 60s it was on everyone’s wish list. It was extremely forward thinking back in the day – furniture used to take up valuable floor space, so Cadovius injected some Danish innovation to the furniture market – the range was described as ‘the largest success the Danish furniture industry has ever had’.

It’s now being made by DK3. It’s available in walnut or oak finishes with stainless steel or brass hangers, and it’s beautiful. The gentle curve of the metal with the lines of the wood make this a classic option.

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Image from DK3

Thanks for taking over the blog with this article Lizzie! It’s been wonderful to work with a fellow blogger so passionate about design and interiors. You can read the ecomodernstudios article on 2 Willow Road on the Small Space People blog so head over there to take a look! 

Follow Lizzie at Small Space People on Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram.

A UK Top 10 Finalist | The Awards Ceremony

We were honoured to be shortlisted as a Top 10 Finalist in the UK Blog Awards 2016 (thank you to everyone who voted and got involved!). Before we knew it the day was upon us and we were hurtling towards London by train to begin the adventure…

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There were over 74,000 votes this year and 600 brands and bloggers spent the night celebrating the blogging industry in Westminster. There was a really celebratory mood and short talks were given by industry leaders on the way in which we have this unique platform on our hands in which to share journeys, experiences and our being.

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The evening was sponsored by many companies but the primary sponsor was Odeon Cinemas and their talks focused on the way in which storytelling has become more democratic in the digital age. They had the BFG roaming free and bubble magicians with lit-up blossom trees and candles hanging through the branches. It was magical set design..

We didn’t win our category (Make Wealth History rightly won) but it was amazing to see the blog up in lights!

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After the ceremony we mulled about at the odeon pop up cinema, watched the bubble man create unfathomable shapes and drank cocktails of which we couldn’t tell the ingredients.

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We then walked back alongside the Thames. The London Eye was lit up as were the blossom trees and there was a really lovely jovial environment to soak in as we made our way to catch the last tube of the night.

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Before we knew it we were back at the amazing Orchid Way (our accommodation for the mini-break). It’s amazing to open the door to your own mews house just off Russell Square. More on that soon…

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If you’d like to see more photos from the journey then come follow us on Instagram!

x

 

Modernist Aspirations…

We haven’t blogged much about our self-build home extension. Mostly because when you’re in it it’s hard to see it! Instead we’ve taken a look back to show some photos of it in progress. Pictures speak louder than words and all that…

Back in August 2015 we dug the foundations by hand, with a spade, yes just the one. Quite mad clearly! Several grab lorries later and we were the proud owners of an enormous hole, which doubled up as a mud pit for the boys.

This was the easy part as we had an enormous well-built 1970s garage in the garden and a concrete drive. Borrowing a concrete breaker we then spent every weekend breaking up huge chunks of it, repurposing the smaller pieces and shingle for the foundations.

As the garage was so tight to our boundary it was a slightly tricky experience with the sledgehammer at times to ensure the brickwork fell our way. Our neighbours were great though helping and letting us have access to push the structure back onto our property.

Several grabbers later we had some space to carry on digging our trenches marking in red where we wanted concrete to go up to:

Then came a trench pour in concrete which went well and created a labyrinth style maze for the boys, which was quickly spoilt by blockwork and lots of it. This flew up quickly (if heavily) and the slab bases were compacted by hiring a heavyweight wacker plate.

We then installed the damp proof membrane, insulation, separating membrane and mesh reinforcement ready for the slab pour. Unfortunately it then decided to rain… a lot… and we had the last minute panic of trying to empty out huge amounts of water as the concrete mixer lorry patiently waited! As a result our concrete pour wasn’t as smooth as the first – and definitely not as flat!

Still, it set and allowed us to start work on the timber framing. This has been a satisfying part of the process so far as it’s reasonably quick. Travis Perkins and Bradfords have kept us stocked up with what we have to say has been a brilliant service.

 

Creating timber frame walls and studding them out we’ve then plyed the outside and clad it in insulation and battening. Suddenly things felt more ‘real’ and we had professionals on site to fit the single ply membrane flat roof. People are often scared with flat roofs but this comes with a 20 year guarantee and is expected to last MUCH longer. Even when it does need replacing it’s just a case of laying a fresh layer over the top!

 

Once the roof went on we could fix the GlazingVision Flushglaze roof light which looks devilishly crisp and beautifully connects the inside with the outside with a 2m x 1m frameless view of the sky. Now we had weather protection we were able to start focusing on the inside. By finding seconds insulation on eBay this allowed us to really make the framework into a cosy modernist box for a fraction of the price.

And then finally the aluminium bi-folds and slimline grey upvc windows have gone in today. These are in anthracite grey but of course covered in protective film which we’re just itching to remove! We’re waiting on the garage roller shutter door but are finally dry in the ‘living’ spaces of the build. Relief!

The self-build to date has been fun and exciting but also stressful, gruelling and hard – in sum all-encompassing! It’s a way to learn what you’re capable outside of your comfort zone, be hands on and experience it as a family (with grandparents and friends heroically coming to the rescue). Importantly it gives you the ability to make decisions as you build whilst also saving money. It does take away from your evenings, your weekends and in short any chance you have to relax! We’ve had black thumbs, back aches and even one case of passing out so it’s very much both a physical and mental process. Still, looking back to date, it’s been quite a journey and we’re proud of what we’ve achieved as a young family going with the ethos ‘don’t move, improve!’.

We’ll update you soon on next progresses… we hope you’ve enjoyed this little run through of our journey to date though.

ecomodernstudios x

 

 

 

Summer dreaming…

Mark Warner have set bloggers the challenge to think about what would make a perfect holiday and it got us thinking.

One of the most exciting things about taking our design trips is immersing ourselves in a new culture and climate and getting the opportunity to really embrace a weekend of exploration. We’ve done this with mini-break trips to Copenhagen, Barcelona, Rome and Paris and love that soaring sense of freeness when you step off the plane brimming with anticipation or see something breathtaking like the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. We undertook these trips minus the kids to escape for long weekends. However, now they’re fully fledged on their scooters and bursting with questions it seems like the right age to take them with us to really enjoy being a family and get them thinking outside the box with design, culture and daily life.

So what would we do?

We’d need a plan. Preparation seems to pay off with kids. Last year we drove to Luxembourg and back without a single tear shed due to a Mary Poppins style bag of tricks and a mixed itinerary of culture, exploration, cafes and stop-overs.

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Dunkirk 2015

The fear of course is how can we keep them entertained enough for a proper break, and if we do, will we get the opportunity to explore ourselves to enjoy that sense of escapism? Right now a dream holiday would be somewhere with great food (Italy springs to mind), sun (anyone remember what it felt like to feel warm?) and somewhere to relax the mind and body (we’re in the midst of home renovation so can only dream). Somewhere with plenty of active outdoor activities but also somewhere not too far from old fishing villages, flea markets to lose a few hours and local artisans. A place to hear the stories, meet the makers, the crafters and locals whilst also (and importantly) getting quality time with the kids to run riot in appropriate dedicated spaces! It’s those fresh warmed faces of happy summers that we want our children to remember with those impressionable glimpses into the world around them. An early memory of mine is dipping into the glass-blowing houses in Venice when we stayed one Christmas. The light, the noise, the glow still stays with me and these experiences in our formative years are so invaluable to opening our eyes and hearts to the world.

Here’s to 2016 and opening our eyes just that little bit wider.

ecomodernstudios x

A style guru article for the Mark Warner Family Ambassador Programme 2016