Transporting your imagination with wall decals. If you haven't used these before then we'd urge you to try!
Posts from the ‘Dorset’ Category
If you’re on Instagram then we’re pretty sure you will have heard of ‘Bloom & Wild flower delivery’. We love this brand for their quirky take on bringing postable greenery into our homes in the forms of seasonal flowers, wreaths and even, well, Christmas trees! Each of the above arrives in a narrow slim box which easily fits through a standard letterbox.
First up this year is ‘The Drew’ which arrives with a collapsable pot, moss and ribbon. You can choose what decorations you’d like it to come with for a little extra sparkle – be that baubles, fairy lights, deluxe beauty treats (yes really!), robins or jingle bells.
We couldn’t resist the stunning reflective hues of the mini baubles and fairy lights so this was our combo to get started with for a design-led looking mini tree in our kitchen.
Kitchens can be tricky spaces for bringing festive cheer to as there’s the safety issue of adding flammable materials to a kitchen as well as the practicality issue of lots of ornaments and banners precariously taped or balanced. The idea of a mini tree which could sit on the worktop, be easily moved and watered once a week seemed perfect. The fairy lights are battery operated making it a really easy portable tree.
For our kids room we wanted something fun which they could embellish to really make it their own. We opted for ‘The Jack’ with its colourful string of festive jingle bells and fairy lights which when initially decorated by our three year old looked like this:
And was later embellished with lego to look like this..
The great thing about these mini trees is you can move them around their room to set up different festive scenes (sometimes it is also ceremoniously walked to the playroom with new embellishments added). It becomes a living breathing part of Christmas the kids can enjoy looking after.
You might have clocked our first review of a mini-tree last year (if not you can read it here) and we just wanted to update you that we potted it up last year and it’s been very happy. We’ve added a few of the baubles from last year as a welcome by our front door! Once Christmas is over pot yours up and help the little fella grow so you’ve got a Christmas tree for years to come!
If you fancy your own tiny tree or want to surprise a loved one to get them in the festive mood (especially if they’ve only got a small space) then enjoy 10% off your first order by signing up to the Bloom & Wild newsletter (scroll to the bottom of their ‘Bloom & Wild flower delivery’ homepage to sign up).
For transparency we were sent these trees by Bloom & Wild for the purposes of photography and to share on the blog as part of our Christmas series. We’re huge fans of the minimal packaging, clever seasonal designs and practicality they bring to the flower delivery market!
The busiest time of year? Get a diary which is going to work as hard as you in 2017!
One definition of the noun ‘maze’ is a network of paths and hedges designed as a puzzle through which one has to find a way. This helps to sum up the experience of using the playful products from Maze Interiors.
Not, you understand that it is confusing, but rather that their products ask you to interact with them to discover what works best for your home – they don’t come with a rulebook!
Recently Wallpaper Magazine described the brackets as ‘mathematical shelving which allow reconstruction at the drop of a hat depending on the collection of objects on display’. It’s this functional flexibility which future-proofs Maze products in order to maximise their lifespan; a refreshing change to the planned obsolescence we often see with consumer products these days.
Take the brass-coated pythagorus shelving bracket system designed by Gustav Rosen as a case in point. You can arrange them in symmetry, mix and match with different colours or choose how they are hung (there are four options offering visual variety and freedom).
The beautiful glow of the brass coating was a magnet for us here at ecomodernstudios. We wanted to hang these in our grey and concrete kitchen to contrast the stark functionality with warmth and geometric interest. We had fun thinking about how best to hang the brackets and whilst you can buy the shelves from Maze too we chose to make our own using ply offcuts to tie in with existing shelves. Intrigued about the brand behind these playful products we sat down with CEO Lotta De Visscher to talk about the ethos behind this successful Swedish brand.
Hi Lotta, the website states ‘Nature in all its splendour is the greatest inspiration in history. It should be only logical to feel driven to protect it’ but what is it about nature specifically which is inspiring your current designs?
The natural geometrics of nature and the exciting variety of natures own materials are inspiring us right now. We find a lot of inspiration in natures own natural geometrics and patterns. The smartness and self-explication of its lines, curves and solutions. As always we enjoy natures vast variety of natural materials, differing surfaces and exciting colours to inform our work.
The ethos behind the ‘slow produced’ collection is fantastic. Are there household items which have been handed down to you which you treasure?
I think most of us have our old family treasures big or small, like an old single chair or a wooden kitchen table that we really love and cherish. These items are often filled with a lot of personal history, memories and stories that pass down through the generations and don’t we all love quality materials worn smooth by time and use?
Personally I treasure an embroidered pillow made by my grandmother which she used to have on her sofa when I grew up. A colleague treasures a bat armchair from the 1960s handed down from his parents, which has already been upholstered twice, but is an essential at home – it’s all about good warm memories isn’t it?
The pythagorus bracket system allows homeowners to be playful and flexible in how they use Maze Interior products. Much of your storage design follows in this vein – how did this approach come about?
We have always believed that when someone buys a Maze product it immediately becomes theirs to take over and they naturally become co-creators in how they choose to use it, where to put it and how they combine it with other things and furniture in their home. They create their own personal relationship with it. We encourage this as much as we possibly can because when you really add value to our products they become a living part of peoples lives.
If you could sum up Swedish design in 3 words what would they be?
Honest, clever and smart
In the interest of transparency Maze Interiors sent us the brackets for the purpose of photography to accompany this interview.
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.
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!
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.
SO many people told us we were mad to try and create our own DIY kitchen worktop but what is life if not for a little adventure?
Creating our own worktop allowed us to be flexible with our kitchen design and we love the results. Here’s a little step-by-step photo explanation of the prep and pour phase of creating our worktops. We used a system which enables you to make a bespoke frame to suit your requirements from Z Counterform Europe and we love the fact we created one continuous surface with a story behind it!
Step 1: Create a ply base on top of your units. Z counterform suggest using Durarock but we went with ply. In retrospect the ply repels the water when Durarock absorbs it so it made the mix slightly wetter to work with (which made it messier) but it worked fine!
Step 2: Fit the plastic formwork to the edges of the worktop and around holes you’ll need to keep e.g. sink and hob. You will need to cut the edges at a 45 degree angle so they sit tightly together which is made easy by the mitre block provided. Duct tape and silicone EVERY joint you can see!
We bought a few tools but the pack was really comprehensive and included the mitre block, plastic formwork, plastic spacers and screws, glass fibre reinforcement mesh, the dry pre-mixed cement and magnesium float. All we did was buy a paddle mixer and some additional trowels.
Step 3: Roll out the fibre glass mesh to the length you need and overlap the mesh slightly on the corners to ensure the joints are strong. Using lightweight gloves is a good idea as otherwise it makes your hands itchy! You then need to snap off the longer plastic legs of the Z clips which are provided (you only need the shorter legs for domestic use) and attach them to the fibre glass mesh approx every 10 cm in a square formation and lastly adding a central clip to each square. There are 2 grooves in each Z clip to hold the mesh so this ensures your mesh will stay at the correct level when the concrete is poured on top. Using an electric drill is a must when you have so many screws but a good tip is to buy a magnetic tip for your drill if you don’t have one. It holds the screws on the end of the drill when you’re trying to fix down and stops a lot of cursing!
Step 4: Remove your drawers / cupboard doors and protect your floor and units with lots of plastic (we used packaging from appliances we’d bought which worked fine). We also cut plastic bags and taped them over sockets and the extractor hood to avoid splashing concrete onto them. We covered over the holes for the sink and hob with the ply which we’d cut out from the ply worktop to stop too much concrete seeping in. Be sure to leave holes in the corners though to be able to easily remove once the concrete is set! This worked for us but they took a while to cut around the ply edges as concrete had dripped and set into the joints. In retrospect styrofoam would have been easier and worked just as well from a protection POV with the added bonus of being quick to break up after the concrete was set.
Step 5: Mix and pour the concrete as per the instructions on the packets. Make sure you mix up a trial amount first to check the consistency and make sure it’s suitable for working with. This process is messy and renders you feeling rather kid-like! It was an incredibly exciting / scary morning! Once the concrete is level vibrate the edges of the formwork by tapping on them with the end of a trowel or by using a sander. We did the latter and this worked brilliantly for us – we have very little holes on the edges as a result.
Step 6: As the concrete started to set we peeled back the plastic sheeting and wiped the plastic formwork clean. We also used a little trowel to move any concrete spillage from the edge of the ‘holes’ so that it would be easier to take the ply protection out. Tidying before the concrete dries was really easy and we were glad we’d done it when it came to removing the formwork later on.
Step 7: On Day 2 the concrete had dried a lighter colour and we could take the ply framing out of the holes for the sink and the hob. It required a bit of jiggery pokery but worked fine. We could then test that our fitted appliances would fit snuggly on the new surface.
Step 8: Break the formwork off – this peels away and is a very satisfying step! You’ll need to sand the top, edges and corners so don’t be worried about a little bit of excess concrete as shown below on the corner edge.
This is when it starts to get fun and you can put in a few drawers back in to start to imagine the final effect! We chose a simple square edge formwork frame with a white concrete mix but there were so many options to choose from according to your style which you can check out here.
We posted about our progress on our Instagram account and the most frequently asked question we had was ‘is it possible for an amateur DIY-er to do?’. We would respond – absolutely! We had both sets of our wonderful parents over to help and definitely a little ‘team’ is recommended when little leaks start to spout or the drills overheat as this is a time-pressured activity! However going with Z Counterform meant they provided links to videos which really highlight each stage and this took the fear out of the process for us. If you follow them on Instagram you can see some of their latest projects to get ideas and we found this really helpful for imagining the final result.
Next up we’ll cover the sanding and sealing process so watch out for the next blog later this month… We’d love to hear your comments though on our DIY adventure and thoughts on using a concrete worktop!
In the interest of transparency we received a discount from Z Counterform when purchasing their products but this post genuinely depict the process we undertook to create our first DIY countertop!
Just 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:
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
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…
This 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.
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.
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…
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.
Lasers and glow sticks around the main stage in the warm evenings completed the holiday vibe.
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!
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!
Meet Isobel. A Dorset Papercut Artist who is sure to brighten your feed with her creativity. After graduating in Textile Design from the Arts University Bournemouth in 2012 her work has evolved into illustration and paper cutting. Isobel took five from wielding a scalpel and scissors to explain what inspires her and her unique work…
We love your playful bright style. After graduating in textile design how did you end up going down the illustration and paper cutting route?
I’ve been obsessed with drawing, colouring, creating, cutting and sticking from the word go so I’ve always known that I wanted to work in a creative field. Whilst at university I became absorbed in intricately cutting, layering and sticking coloured paper as a way of designing colourful patterns and prints in my sketchbook.
I think it was my Final Project in my last year of studies which was my ‘light-bulb’ moment. I designed and engineered a collection of Elizabethan inspired collars solely from card and paper which I had printed onto and cut into. I loved the versatility of the shapes and forms I could creative by manipulating the card and paper and was hooked from there. Paper as an illustrative medium was also becoming popular around this time with the likes of Rob Ryan and his detailed paper cuts popping up so this definitely inspired me too.
How would you describe your vibrant style?
Colourful and playful with a sprinkling of sophistication through the three-dimensional intricate detail. My work most definitely requires a steady hand!
What topics or themes do you return to in your work?
Obviously a lot of the time, the theme of my work is defined by the clients brief. However, when I’m playing or working on a self initiated brief, a recurring theme is most definitely food! I find it such a colourful, vibrant subject matter and being a total foodie is probably a contributing factor too! The scale skin of a fish, the segments in a citrus fruit, berries bursting with colour… I find the inspiration from natures patterns and colours is endless!
What inspires you about Dorset countryside and coastline in particular?
I have a concerning habit of imagining how everything I see would look constructed out of paper, so I feel very lucky to have the ability to sponge inspiration from pretty much everywhere I go! I’m very drawn to colour, so colourful signs in particular inspire me, from bunches of wild flowers when I take the dog for a walk to rows of colourful beach huts along the Dorset beaches.
Some of my favourite Dorset towns also lend themselves as inspiration for my work. I have a range of paper cut prints, including a view over the harbour in Swanage and the famous steam railway chugging down the hill away from Corfe Castle in the Purbecks, two of my absolute favourite spots.
What other contemporaries are inspiring you right now with their creativity?
Fellow Paper Cutter wise, I adore the work of Jared Schorr. He works more two-dimensionally, but his work is just so much fun! He creates the sweetest little characters and worlds from card and paper and I really admire his imagination.
I follow lots of current illustrators on social media and two of my favourites at the moment are Holly Exley and Danielle Knroll. They both work in watercolour, but their styles are completely different. Holly creates the most intricate and realistic paintings with food and wildlife as recurring themes and I think her work is just gorgeous. Danielle paints in more of a whimsical style and I love the playful subject matter of her paintings and her use of vibrant colour combinations and patterns within her work. I’m also very inspired by set designers for their compositional and three-dimensional design qualities – there is a lot to be inspired from right now!
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!
We 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.
The 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.
With 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!