Tag Archives: Interiors

The Barbican, reborn

The stellar refurbishment of the Barbican’s Brutalist fourth tower proves that you can go back to the future, without creating something hackneyed or ersatz

Central London new developments generally don’t come with an iconic Grade II-listed building, mature gardens the size of a small park, ponds complete with ducklings, secure parking and cycle clubs, storage facilities, gyms, schools, crèches, a restaurant – oh, and Europe’s largest arts and cultural centre, on your doorstep. But then it would be hard to find anywhere quite like the Barbican.

This Brutalist Sixties development (which actually wasn’t finally completed until 1982) has come full-circle, as a new appreciation for the raw, bush-hammered concrete walls, industrial-chic Crittall doors and Mad Men-style architecture is back in vogue, and large-scale community-led developments have finally been recognised as the building model to strive for. As resident and architect Dave King says, “The Barbican’s architecture is ageless, generous and robust. But what you appreciate when you live here is how peaceful it is, even though you are in a crowded city.”

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 17.09.19

He’s right; as I visited on a sunny day last week, one resident was running the organic food shop on site, another gave us a friendly hello as he held open the garden gate, and several people were quietly enjoying the gardens, while others were actively getting their hands dirty in the wildlife garden. A flyer advertises a garden tour and talk by one of the estate’s oldest residents coming up soon. “If you want it, there is a really thriving community here that you can be part of,” says Tina Evans, group director at Frank Harris estate agent, who has been based on the Barbican estate for 16 years. With a community of 4,000 people, the Barbican is practically an urban village within the City of London.

“Some residents have been here since the beginning, and others move around trading up and down as there is such a diverse mix of housing here,” explains Evans. “Once people move in, they rarely move out, which is why the new flats are so exciting.”

The bespoke designed kitchens by Conran + Partners
The bespoke designed kitchens by Conran + Partners

The flats she’s talking about are in Blake Tower, the only tower that is not yet a residential building. The former YMCA building on Fann Street has been empty since the last students moved out in 2012, but now developer Redrow is in the process of gutting the insides of the 17-storey block to carve out 74 contemporary, art-inspired studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

The original 1960s architects were the internationally renowned Chamberlain, Powell and Bon, and today it is being sensitively restored and refurbished by Harper Downie, while the interiors will be reworked by another iconic architecture and interior design studio Conran and Partners. “We’ve been inspired by the historical, architectural and cultural characteristics of the Barbican to create a fresh, exciting and crafted design that has a modern heritage,” says Simon Kincaid, project director at Conran and Partners.

The terrazo bathroom at Blake Tower
The terrazo bathroom at Blake Tower

The design is all about celebrating and complementing the existing structure and the innovative, modernist original design from the Sixties. The dramatic spaces will be showcased with clean minimalist lines and delicate brass detailing, such as the screen that will divide the living room and the curved brass door handles. “We wanted to soften the Brutalism so that it feels warm, rich and soft,” says Brook Lloyd of Conran and Partners.

“Restoring an existing building presents its own challenges,” says Neil Ventin, the Health and Safety and Public Relations manager for McAleer Rushe, who are working on the tower. “For instance, we are completely demolishing the lift shaft piece-by-piece, then it will have to be redesigned and rebuilt to modern standards and to meet modern technology.” They are currently clearing the former student digs to make way for the open plan apartments that will replace them, and while the floors, internal walls and the windows will be replaced, much of the fabric of the building is protected and will remain.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 17.10.15

“We are saving and restoring the original balustrades, Crittall doors and glass screens in the communal hallways, and the original concrete will be restored and revealed where it was painted over or damaged over the years,” explains Ventin.

However, working with a building of such character also brings excitement, explains Redrow’s Managing Director, “Of course it is challenging but it’s not formulaic in the way that a new-build might be. It means we can be more creative and work more with the area around us.”

That inspiration is embodying in some of the apartments’ finer details, such as bathroom basins designed to match the curve of the Barbican buildings’ balustrades, and the same terrazzo and brass elements that are used within the Barbican Arts Centre.

It has also made for much larger apartments than usual, with some one-bed flats covering 87 square metres, compared to a typical 50 metres for a regular new build.

With such care and attention it’s clear that this legendary London landmark will live on for at least another half-century, while Conran will breathe new life into the apartments without turning them into bland “new-build” show homes. It’s a rare chance to buy a piece of Britain’s architectural and design legacy – and one that comes with a whole neighbourhood and cultural playground in place, too. It’s hard to imagine a less sterile antidote to your average new-build city pad. I’m sure Chamberlain, Powell and Bon would approve.

Prices from £650,000, www.blaketower.com

ALISON TYLER

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Interiors: revamp your bathroom

… without replacing your bath suite!

Replacing a bathroom is a costly business, but you can transform the room you’ve got without changing the suite, for a fraction of the time and cost with these simple tips and tricks…

John Lewis, Lindsey Lang Leaf Cotton Towels, Grey, from £3.50 - £36 2

1 Change your towels

If your bathroom features plain, greying white towels or faded block colours, then inject some life into your room by updating them – it’s the easiest way to keep up with the latest bathroom trends. Right now, it’s all about a return to graphic patterns and expensive-looking textured towels with jacquard patterns or fringed edging. Try Lindsay Lang’s bold leaf towel range for John Lewis (from £3.50) or their Scandi-inspired Coastal Nordic Scene towels from £3 (www.johnlewis.com). We love House of Fraser’s bobble-trim hand towels (£10, www.houseoffraser.co.uk) and Sainsbury’s fringe stripe bath towel (£10, www.sainsburys.co.uk).

John Lewis Coastal Nordic Scene Towels, Slate, Slate John Lewis, from £3

2 Replace the taps and radiators

You can make a basic bath look modern and sleek in seconds with a simple change of the taps. Bathstore’s angular Blade deck mounted bath and shower mixer (£299, www.bathstore.com) looks contemporary without being so fashion-conscious that it would date quickly. Meanwhile, the Bensham bath and basin taps (from £99) will create some classic character in a soulless, bland bathroom.

Swapping your radiator for a heated towel rail is much easier than you’d think as it doesn’t require any additional wiring or plumbing, but they look so effective, as well as creating an efficient and stylish space to store the towels that you are currently using. You can spend as little at £59.99 for a modern white or chrome rail from Homebase (www.homebase.co.uk), or several hundred on a luxurious traditional-looking, ball-jointed chunky towel rails in brass and chrome from C.P Hart (from £887, www.cphartshop.co.uk).

John Lewis Medina Soap Dish, £12 John Lewis Medina Toothbrush Holder, £12 John Lewis, Medina Soap Pump, £16

3 Paint the tiles…

Literally. Instead of re-tiling the walls, use dedicated tile paint for an instant effect. Try Ronseal One Coat Satin Tile Paint (£19.98, www.diy.com) in Granite, a mid-grey stone shade, for a contemporary update that’s waterproof and mould-resistant. Best of all you don’t need to use a primer and the paint dries in two hours, so it’s a quick and easy trick to try out.

Camden_Blue image002

If you’re up for a bigger job, replacing the floor with patterned tiles will create a modern, directional look – Topp’s Tiles Victorian-inspired geometric Grosvenor tiles in monochrome shade (£59.60 per square metre, www.toppstiles.co.uk) add a stylish air, while their encaustic effect blue Camden Floral Lys tiles (£24.99 per square metre) look like they could have come from the much more expensive Fired Earth.

jars

4 Window dressing

Get rid of grotty, mildew-y fabric blinds or outdated curtains and replace them with easy-to-clean wooden shutters. “For bathrooms, where you want privacy but do not want to lose light, tier on tier shutters offer the perfect solution. With separately adjustable top and bottom panels you can open either section or open the slats to create the perfect alignment for your room. Alternatively cafe style shutters work well by covering only the lower section of your window, offering a balance between light and privacy,” explains Chrissie Harper, Operations Manager at California Shutters.

Their blue Classic Poplar wood shutters (from £177 per square metre, www.californiashutters.co.uk) add a pop of colour and look clean and contemporary – they’re perfect for a beachy, nautical-style bathroom, too.

hof baskets

5 Sort your storage

Adding new bathroom accessories, such as storage jars, laundry baskets and a towel ladder, will instantly organise your space and give it some personality. For vintage style with an industrial edge, head to House of Fraser for their Linea Maritime glass storage jars (from £12); go for a global traveller look at John Lewis (Medina soap pump, £16, and toothbrush jar £12); or add some dipped rustic woven baskets from House of Fraser or M&S.

Wooden Towel Ladder, £99.00, OKA

You can pick up a ladder shelving unit from M&S (£129, www.marksandspencer.com) in a range of colours, including a bright blue, which will clear your clutter away, while Oka has a wooden towel ladder for £99 (www.okadirect.com).

Step Ladder Shelving Unit £129

ALISON TYLER

This article first appeared in Metro on 19 May

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Interiors: best of the (Wild) West

Take inspiration from the warm desert hues of sun-baked reds, dusty ochres and burnt oranges, throw in a bit of Native American pattern, add a cactus and you’ve nailed this season’s hottest look faster than you can say Spaghetti Western

 

Tesco Arizona Dining Table £399 Arizona Dining Bench £199 Arizona Console Table £249 Marseille Metal Dining Chairs Sulphur Yellow and Silver £39
Tesco Arizona Dining Table £399 Arizona Dining Bench £199 Arizona Console Table £249 Marseille Metal Dining Chairs Sulphur Yellow and Silver £39

 

George Home SS15 Desert Hanging feather dreamcatcher
George Home SS15 Desert Hanging feather dreamcatcher

Hanging Feather Dream catcher £5, www.george.com

Very Cactus Scape Cushion £12
Very Cactus Scape Cushion £12

Cactus Cushion, £12, www.very.co.uk

Habitat Altivo bowl
Habitat Altivo bowl

Alvito green and white patterned terracotta bowl, £25, www.habitat.co.uk

West Elm Embroidered Star Duvet set
West Elm Embroidered Star Duvet set

Embroidered star bed linen, £19-£119; Geo tile pillowcase, £29; Emmerson bed, £999; Reclaimed wood and lacquer bedside table, £299; Prism wool rug, from £99.95.  All from www.westelm.co.uk

Abigail Ahern Wild Bill sofa
Abigail Ahern Wild Bill sofa

Wild Bill two-seat sofa, £2000, www.abigailahern.com

Ikea set of three cacti
Ikea set of three cacti

Set of three cacti in pots, £4.50, Ikea, www.ikea.com

Graham and Green White Resin antlers
Graham and Green White Resin antlers

Roebuck antlers on shield, £60, www.grahamandgreen.co.uk

Tesco House Rules Cushion £10

House Rules cushion, £10, www.tesco.com

Conran shop Medium Cactus Vase
Conran shop Medium Cactus Vase

Medium cactus vase, £36, The Conran Shop, www.conranshop.co.uk

Tesco Direct Idaho Large Sofa Leather Antique Chocolate;  Lausanne Armchair Leather Antique Saddle
Tesco Direct Idaho Large Sofa Leather Antique Chocolate; Lausanne Armchair Leather Antique Saddle

Idaho Large Sofa, Leather Antique Chocolate £949; Lausanne Armchair Leather Antique Saddle £399; Lausanne Armchair Horizontal Patchwork Brick £299; Arizona Coffee Table £199, Arizona Console Table £249; Arizona Side Table £129, Multi Bean Rug 120x170cm £120; Indiana Glass Ombre Table Amber Lamp £49; Green Bottle Vase Large £15; Chunky Knit Multi Reds Throw £25; Contrast Piped Yellow Cushion £8; Watercolour Stripe Cushion £8; Contrast Piped Green Cushion £8; Cactus Print Cushion £8. All from www.tesco.com

 

Mahout Lifestyle, Multi-Coloured Symmetrical Cotton, Dhurrie
Mahout Lifestyle, Multi-Coloured Symmetrical Cotton, Dhurrie

Multi-coloured symmetrical cotton rug, £285, www.mahoutlifestyle.com

George Home SS15 Desert Tufted arrow cushion
George Home SS15 Desert Tufted arrow cushion

Tufted Arrow Cushion, £15, www.george.com

Graham and green picture frame
Graham and green picture frame

Painted bone picture frame, £12, www.grahamandgreen.co.uk

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Habitat ZADAR horse objet black

Zadar black facteted horse object, £18, www.habitat.co.uk

George Home Desert Bedroom
George Home Desert Bedroom

Desert Ikat double duvet set, £12; Ikat Cushion, £8; Tufted Arrow Cushion, £12; Copper Lantern, £10; Wood and Copper Effect Desk Lamp, £20. All from George Home at ASDA, www.george.com

ALISON TYLER

This article first appeared in Metro on 5 May 15

 

 

 

 

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How to… create a gallery wall

Don’t leave your photos languishing on your phone or laptop, create a fab focus wall of framed images and art that you can treasure – it only takes a couple of hours, perfect for a Bank Holiday weekend project!

Personal photos, favourite artwork and memorable treasures, from children’s drawings to concert tickets or a nostalgic football programme, can say so much about your personality and will breathe life into your home, when framed and hung on the walls.

A gallery wall of frames looks really effective and is easier to do than you might think. All you need is some paper and a pencil, a tape measure, hammer and spirit level, and an hour or two to get it right. 

One of the most common questions I get asked about gallery walls is ‘should all of my picture frames match?’,” says Kim Findlay, Frames and Wall Art Buyer for Habitat.

“Ultimately it is down to individual taste. Artwork in matching frames looks clean but for a more eclectic look, experimenting with mixing and matching styles and colours can be fun. If you’re unsure about which look to go for, consider the content of the frames. If the artwork or photography shares a similar style, matching frames work well. If you’re displaying different styles and mediums of artwork together, individual frames can be chosen based on what you’re putting inside them. This leads quite naturally to a mix-and-match style.”

The White Company: Fine memories frame, 15 aperture £150; Fine Wooden frames: 5x7 £25, 4x6 £20, 8x10 £35; Wide wooden frames: 6 aperture £75, 12 aperture £100
The White Company: Fine memories frame, 15 aperture £150; Fine Wooden frames: 5×7 £25, 4×6 £20, 8×10 £35; Wide wooden frames: 6 aperture £75, 12 aperture £100

 

How to create a picture wall 

1 – Don’t be afraid to mix things up: choose mismatching sizes and colours of frames for an eclectic feel, for instance, and don’t just create a geometric square pattern – a collage of frames can look much more interesting.

2 – Do think about making your pictures work as a group, still. Try theming the images – perhaps all family or holiday shots – or choosing all black and white shots to create a harmonious look. Or perhaps choose lots of shapes of frame but all in one colour.

3 – Don’t just start banging holes in the walls. Instead, lay the frames out on the floor in the arrangement that you are planning, spacing them around 10cm apart from one another. Keep moving things around until you are happy with the way it looks, then draw around each of the frames on paper and cut out paper templates, marking an “x” on each one where the nail should go.

4 – Do take time to get it right. Stick your paper templates on to the wall, following your design, making sure the centre of your arrangement sits at eye level. Use a spirit level and plumb line to check that they are all straight. Tweak your design if necessary. When you’re completely satisfied, nail into the crosses on the templates and then remove the paper. Hang your frames.

Ben de Lisi frame from Debenhams
Ben de Lisi frame from Debenhams

5 – Do cheat. If you’re really struggling, you can now buy frames that create an instant picture wall. Try the 10-frame arrangement by Ben de Lisi from Debenhams (£45), The White Company’s Fine Memories wooden frame (£150) that holds 15 photos or buy Habitat’s 20-aperture mount (£15) in black or white that fits into a 60x80cm frame.

 

TIP: Photographs and prints tend to wrinkle if directly in contact with glass, so place them behind a mount to prevent them touching it. Tape them to the top of the back of the mount (using masking tape) so that the print then ‘hangs’ in the frame and it can expand and contract with humidity.

 

TYPES OF ARRANGEMENTS

Ikea art and frames
Artwork and frames from Ikea

A gallery wall

Make a group of frames to create a focal point, above a sofa, fireplace or in a hallway. Choose a collage of mixed frames, a square or rectangle of equally-sized frames, or a row of frames – you can use different sizes here but keep them all centred so that there’s an imaginary equator running through the middle.

The White Company: Lacquer frame, 4 aperture 5x7 £50; Fine Wooden frames: 5x7 £25, 4x6 £20, 8x10 £35; Slim wooden photo frame, 9 aperture £70; Triple white wooden frame 5x7 £50
The White Company: Lacquer frame, 4 aperture 5×7 £50; Fine Wooden frames: 5×7 £25, 4×6 £20, 8×10 £35; Slim wooden photo frame, 9 aperture £70; Triple white wooden frame 5×7 £50

Table and picture rail groups

Here, all of your frames sit on the same base level, so it is really important to mix of up the sizes and shapes of the frames to keep things interesting. Layer them up in front of one another to create a textured, 3D, look, like this one above, from The White Company.

Stairs

A picture wall going up stairs can look really effective – the key to nailing the look is to start from the middle frame and work outwards, using the top and bottom of the central frame as a guide to work up/down the wall.

ALISON TYLER

This article first appeared in Metro on 28 April 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 18.20.58

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Restaurant review: The Ethicurean

We were driving down to Wiltshire on Friday, minus the children, with an hour or three to spare. We were hungry. “Is there anywhere that we could stop about an hour from here,” asked my husband optimistically somewhere between Worcester and Gloucester trundling down the M5.

I scoured the map. We didn’t really want to drive in to Bristol as we were heading south-east of there, to explore the Somerset/Wiltshire borders. And then I remembered I’d been wanting to try The Ethicurean for a while. But where was it? Not quite in Bristol.

A Google search and phone call later we were booked in to this ethical, hyper-local, sustainable restaurant that sits in a walled garden south of Bristol. I say restaurant, but  The Ethicurean is really a ramshackle greenhouse and shed, stuck to one corner of the Barley Wood Walled Garden. If that makes it sound scruffy, then you shouldn’t go. But if you love the romantic notion of sitting in the orangery of the very garden that the produce on your plate was grown in, and to hell with a bit of damp on the walls, or the wonky mis-matched tables and chairs, then this is the place for you.

The Ethicurean (photo by Jason Ingram)
The Ethicurean (photo by Jason Ingram)

As a gardener, an interiors addict and a greedy appetite for food, I was in heaven! Looking out, sipping cider from apples grown in the orchard, you could imagine Peter Rabbit might pop up at any moment and steal an organic carrot.

But, romance aside, the aims of this place are in credible. Virtually all of the food comes from the garden or is foraged locally, so menus are created each day according to what’s on offer. I was worried that we were visiting at possibly the worst time of the year – the winter season over, nothing would be growing for spring yet, apart from the earliest wild garlic and maybe some nettles and rhubarb.

The Ethicurean (photo by Jason Ingram)
The Ethicurean (photo by Jason Ingram)

I needn’t have been. They pickle and preserve what they can, so the beetroot starter with strained goats cheese was divine. They also make their own cider from the apples and even their own vermouth to go in the Negronis. Our other starter – cider and cheddar Welsh rarebit – did not disappoint. The cider and cheese had been cooked and turned in to a thick fondue, then spread on the doorstep slab of home-baked bread and grilled into submission. A sharp salad of winter leaves and pickled carrot in place of tomatoes, cut through the rich rarebit to clean the palette.

Our mains were even better – considering the chefs were cooking in a shed the size of, well, a shed, this was a miracle. My pork belly was pressed to squeeze out some of the fat and served with chipotle crackling, more beetroot, pickled apple slices and deep, forest green kale. The husband’s bavette was succulent and stylishly presented. We may have been in a garden but there was no heavy-handed presentation, the finesse of the food and it’s delectable flavours were matched by the delicate presentation.

The Ethicurean
The Ethicurean

Pudding? Sticky toffee apple pudding! It could have had more sauce – as the husband pointed out, it isn’t hard to whip up – but it was moist and treacly without being stodgy or heavy. All in all, we were bowled over.

The only thing we couldn’t understand on this sunny, blustery spring Friday lunchtime, was why it wasn’t packed out? People of Bristol, what are you doing?! Perhaps you’re already too spoiled for choice by great, ethical, locally-sourced eateries…

The Ethicurean cookbook
The Ethicurean cookbook

ALISON TYLER

Bathe away

I love this shot from the latest H & M campaign – it taps into so many key trends right now, from the rough luxe walls to the rustic hewn wooden stool and the industrial style shelves.

And if that wasn’t enough it’s even got the dreamy beach-chic shower curtain (with a hazy photo filter) and vintage-inspired laundry basket. Get me to the high street now!

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Spring into summer

Isn’t the sunny weather uplifting? Time to do the same for your home with some spring blooms, grassy tones and fresh shades…

LSA chiffon vase in pistachio, Occa Home
LSA chiffon vase in pistachio, Occa Home
Hello Sunshine cushion, Tesco
Hello Sunshine cushion, Tesco
Zig-zag ochre throw, Next
Zig-zag ochre throw, Next
Birdhouse tea light holder in meadow green , George Home
Birdhouse tea light holder in meadow green , George Home
Better Life wood print, Next
Better Life wood print, Next
Meadow digital print daisy cushion, George Home
Meadow digital print daisy cushion, George Home
M and S Elegant pastel notebooks
Elegant pastel notebooks, Marks and Spencer
Newgate cookhouse clock in kettle green, Occa Home
Newgate cookhouse clock in kettle green, Occa Home
Wild flowers embroidered cushion, Sainsburys
Wild flowers embroidered cushion, Sainsburys
Miami occasional table in suplhur yellow, Tesco
Miami occasional table in sulphur yellow, Tesco

 

 

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Design spotlight: Eclect Design

Built from their shared love of Art Deco and Mid-Century homewares, Janette Reid and Daniel Snowden have created new online boutique Eclect Design to offer an array of modern retro pieces for the home.

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Eclect stocks a variety of brands inspired by the owners’ love of Scandi and industrial influences, from House of Rym and Superliving to Muurla and also, exclusively for Eclect, the American Modern line of pottery by Russel Wright.

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This pottery was created by Wright in 1929 however, more recently, Los Angeles based Bauer pottery have bought the trademark to reproduce Wright’s iconic designs which Eclect stock exclusively in the UK.

Joseph Alexander Goode

 They also stock more local designs including Hackney-based artist Joseph Alexander Goode’s eccentric art works that adorn cushions, duvet cover sets and kitchen accessories.

www.eclectdesign.com

ALISON TYLER

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    I love this shot from the latest H & M campaign – it taps into so many key trends right now, from the rough luxe walls to the rustic hewn wooden stool and the industrial style shelves. And if that wasn't enough it's even got the dreamy beach-chic shower curtain (with…
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Children’s wallpaper we love

New for SpringSummer 2015 is this gorgeous wallpaper from Great Little Trading Company – a brilliant online interiors store that specialises in innovative, bright and fun children’s rooms and nursery furniture, homeware and interiors.

GLTC bedroom

Their first wallpaper collection of six colourful and bold designs is made right here in Great Britain and the wallpapers are perfect for bedrooms, playrooms or a nursery. Patterns range from sorbet spot, to rainbow alphabet and, my favourite, grey star, and cost £25 a roll.

GLTC stars

Order from www.gltc.co.uk