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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!

 

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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! 

Fluid, Reflective & Informal. How do you want your Christmas to be this year?

Roxwell Press is well known for their beautiful illustrative work and each year release their Christmas Shop but this year they’ve developed some beautiful glass hand-painted baubles which we wanted to share…

 

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With a mix of gold and a pastel palette of white, green and pink – they’re unexpectedly festive without the regimental red, green and white which Christmas seems to have become. The fluid edges of the paint work with the reflective shimmer of the colours and these baubles really have a great design edge for an informal but bright look.

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You can buy the baubles as a set of 4 for £20 and they’re a good idea as a gift or frankly just for yourself! The forth bauble is clear and gold (not featured here) but it looks stunning and you can take a peek here.

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These particular baubles are hand-painted which makes them all slightly different and are about 6cm in diameter which makes them really practical to either hang on the tree or make part of a separate decoration.

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We hope these photographs have got you in the festive mood and we’d love to see photographs of the ornaments you treasure at Christmas. There’s something magical about bringing the Christmas box down from the loft and rediscovering all these beautiful handmade treasures year after year!

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You can currently get FREE DELIVERY on all orders at Roxwell Press so take a look at the Christmas shop here.

Please note we were kindly sent these baubles to photograph and share in this feature. 

 

Christmas Countdown | The Busiest Time of Year with Busy B Lifestyle

The busiest time of year? Get a diary which is going to work as hard as you in 2017!

Read more

Hello Marilu | Pops of Neon and Gold

 

With just 4 Sundays left before Christmas we’re starting our Christmas recommendations here at ecomodernstudios starting with Hello Marilu.

 

 

 

Hello Marilu is a creative lifestyle brand with a strong focus on handmade. Created by Mary-Ann Aveline in 2015, Hello Marilu offers an eclectic range of textiles and paper goods that have all been designed, handmade or hand finished in her South London studio, using a variety of techniques such as screen printing, marbling and painting.

We put in a 12-bauble strong order as her hand-painted ceramics are just the sort of one-of-a-kind heirlooms that are treasured on the tree year after year (as well as perfect for thoughtful gifts for those who have ‘everything’). Intrigued about what drove Hello Marilu in its first year of business we sat down with a cuppa to find out more about what makes this British brand tick.

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Each bauble comes in its own paper nest in a shimmering box

In a time when we’re so technologically advanced why do you think there’s been such a strong comeback of handmade with brands such as notonthehighstreet, Folksy and etsy championing the individual?  

 

There is no doubt that technology is great; I can’t imagine living without my iPhone now, or the internet, but its is also kind of sad how much it dominates our lives.  You might be working all day on a computer only to go home and spend half your evening checking social media or watching TV.  Its addictive, and almost a bit overwhelming at times.

I think its this technology overload which is actually encouraging people to want to take up new hobbies, such as hand made crafts, or learning a new skill at a creative workshop.  Being able to physically make something can feel so satisfying.  There is a sense of achievement, something real that you can feel and touch, and it focuses your mind in a totally different way, almost like a meditation.  The result is a finished product which you can feel proud of and that’s a good feeling.

The great thing about technology however is how it can help support and grow your handmade business. Years ago it would have been very difficult to know how to sell your handmade products or get any recognition, but with websites like notonthehighstreet, Etsy and Folksy, almost anyone can get their work out there.

It makes handmade products accessible to everyone and it also shows that it is possible to sell your own work – something which would otherwise feel very daunting.  People that buy handmade are looking for something a bit different – something personal, unique, and original.  It can be hard to know where to buy those things on the highstreet so websites that showcase products from independent designers are a wonderful source for both the buyer and the seller.

Creative workshops also really seem to be on the rise which is fantastic.  Its lovely to learn a new skill and try something you never would have thought of before, whilst meeting other fellow creatives.  There are some really unusual ones out there too.  Earlier this year I went to a spoon carving workshop by Grain and Knot, which is something I probably never would have had the opportunity to try had there not been a workshop available!

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We love the mix of neon and intricate detailing

Your work is bright, bold and playful with pops of neon and gold! What inspirations have you had in 2016 which has helped shape your brand and what are you looking towards in 2017?  

I have always loved bright colours, neon red in particular and of course gold.  I find colours like that can transform a simple design into something really eye catching.  I tend to be inspired by so many different things – almost everyday a new idea pops into my head, or I see a new technique which I want to try.  I am very curious with wanting to try different techniques and I have a long list which I need to work through!

It was Screen Printing however which really led me to start Hello Marilu and it is something that I always love to go back to in between other crafts.  I recently discovered through trial and error how to screen print with gold foil.  I was so pleased that I could finally get it to work, and I now have quite a few gold foil print ideas in the pipeline.

I also love how working on one idea can organically lead you on to something else.  I am really enjoying hand painting my ceramic Christmas baubles at the moment and I now to want to decorate other ceramic items such as plant pots and coasters.

I would love to try the Japanese technique Kintsugi.  If you are not familiar with it, its basically an ancient Japanese technique of repairing broken or cracked objects using gold.  Rather than trying to hide the damage you make it a feature by highlighting it with gold.  It is really quite beautiful, looks amazing on ceramics, and of course its using gold, one of my favourite colours, so I’ve just got to try it!

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Hanging on greenery they really pop!

What is the product you’re most proud of from your collection and why?  

My hand painted Christmas baubles are getting a lot of attention at the moment, which is great in the run up to Christmas.  It feels very special to personalise a bauble for someone, knowing that gift will hopefully be cherished by the recipient for years to come.

I love the build up to Christmas and decorating the tree is my all time favourite thing, so it makes me feel very happy to know that my baubles will be decorating other peoples trees too.  The hand painted design which I use was inspired by traditional Russian folk illustrations.  My mum is Russian so I grew up surrounded by beautifully painted Russian figurines and matryoshka’s.  I have always wanted to use this inspiration for a project of my own so working on my hand painted baubles holds a special place in my heart as they are inspired by things which are very dear to me.

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The gold lettering is strong but shimmers in the light making them tricky to photograph but so eye-catching!

There is a really strong creative community online in the UK. What social media accounts do you really love following and why? 

The online creative community is amazing.  Websites like Pinterest really help for inspiration and finding new craft techniques that I would love to try, and Instagram is just incredible for building your business and seeing what other like minded creative people are doing.  I love how supportive the Instagram community is.

Its so encouraging when you post a picture and receive such lovely comments and likes from people that you have never even met before.  Its amazing how it can bring people together from all over the world! Instagram is definitely my favourite social media outlet and I think i would be a bit lost without it.  It was a huge inspiration to starting my own business because it made me realise so many people were following their passions, and that I could do that too.

Some of my favourite Instagram accounts to follow are @ohjoy for lovely bright colours and DIY posts.  Her account is always so cheery – its a great happiness fix and it just puts you in a good mood! Jewellery maker @benumade is another favourite.  She makes the most amazing, quirky leather jewellery.   Her designs are so unique, I find them really inspiring.  They make me want to work with leather.  I also love @elizabethpawle.  Her woven and hand stitched art pieces have so much depth and texture to them, you just want to reach out and touch them, and they incorporate some of my favourite neon colours which is always a winner!

If you’d like to meet Mary-Anne and have a go at your own designs at a Bauble Decorating Workshop then you’re too late to catch her at Anthropologie (sold out) but if you’re quick you can get a place at her workshops at West Elm on 24th November (only 2 places left!) or 8th December (only 4 places left!). Price £20.

Do join in the journey with Hello Marilu on Instagram and Twitter too.

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Clustered together

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The gold feels very Christmassy

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We loved them propped up against shelves for a relaxed but festive feel

 

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.