Thursday, June 25, 2009

Shawn Lovell

I first came across Shawn Lovell's work when I was searching for a metal four-poster bed. I'm always interested in finding local artists and was thrilled that this amazing metalworker is based in Oakland. To me, Shawn's designs are organic, with a natural flow and movement, they are also dreamlike and poetic.

Shawn's work has ranged from large scale railings, gates, doors, arbors to firescreens, furniture, lighting and much more. Shawn also specializes in making one-of-a-kind and commissioned work both commercial and residential using both traditional and modern forging techniques.

Shawn graduated with high distinction from CCAC with a degree in sculpture and working as an artists assistant. She started Shawn Lovell Metalworks in 1996.
If you would like to see more of Shawn's work and the metalwork process she uses, then check out her website:

Please leave a comment here and let me know which piece is your favourite.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Wallpaper is making a huge comeback. Today's wallpapers are bold in pattern and colour. If a client is a little dubious about wallpapering a whole room, then I suggest just papering one wall.

Take a look at the rooms below (courtesy of Homes & Gardens Magazine). Each designer has used wallpaper in such a chic, fresh and sophisticated way:

I am currently sourcing wallpaper options for a clients' bedroom. There is not enough room for a headboard, so I suggested we wallpaper the low wall behind the bed - it will add drama, with a splash of colour in what is currently a pale bedroom.

If you are interested in a particular wallpaper, then please contact me.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A change of mind

When I was younger, I really liked the minimalist look - I would drool over John Pawson's homes - specifically his 1994 home in London. The simplicity is actually hard to take in and the use of materials and finishes are sheer genius:However, when I bought my own home things kind of changed and I became a bit of a traditional decorator then, through my travels, I started to include Asian influences around the place and forgot about my love for minimalism.

So, when a client of mine introduced me to her 1950s Danish chair, all of my minimalist thoughts and ideas came rushing back. I couldn't wait to get started. I pulled out my files and found hoardes of modernist books. I also started surfing through eBay to find a matching Danish chair. I had worked in Copenhagen for a year and felt strangely at home during this search.
I then realized that a lot of minimalism stems from the Modernism movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It wasn't just interior decor that was making leaps and bounds but music, poetry and the arts were all changing.

In design there were so many changes. For example; Eileen Gray's side table, designed in 1927, reflects her desire for functional perfection. Originally conceived as a bedside table for the guest room in Gray's famous E. 1027 house in Cap Martin (her sister was fond of breakfast in bed), it is also useful as a side table in living rooms, office reception areas or, (thanks to durable materials), on the terrace:
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Chair and Stool, first designed in 1929!! Mies van der Rohe designed the chair to serve as seating for the King and Queen of Spain, while the stool was intended to accommodate their attendants:

The Eames molded plywood dining chair was designed in 1946 and is instantly recognizable as the work of Charles and Ray Eames, with a form that relates directly to the human body:
The Noguchi table (1947) conceals nothing; revealing everything about the nature of simplicity. Two simple, smoothly shaped pieces interlock to form a tripod that supports a .75" thick slab of transparent glass. Practical and beautiful, the Noguchi Table will uphold a variety of objects in a professional reception area or the home:
Trained as an architect, George Nelson found a fresh solution to lighting design in the organic forms of his "bubble" lamps. The lamps were produced in 1952 by spray coating a skeleton of steel wire with a layer of translucent plastic that allowed light to shine softly through and protected the eye from glare:
Arne Jacobsen designed the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, as well as many of the furnishings. For its busy lobby, he created the biomorphic Egg chair in 1958 which is believed to be the first swiveling upholstered chair. The wings of the chair were added for privacy whilst in the hotel lobby:
The Arco floor lamp was designed by the Castiglioni brothers in 1962. This dramatic lamp provides overhead lighting without requiring ceiling suspension. Supported by a weighty marble base, the polished stainless steel shade extends eight feet into a space, leaving room for a dining table or sofa to be positioned underneath the light source. To make the Lamp easier to carry and move, the designers placed a hole in the base that accommodates a broom handle. The edges of the marble block are beveled, which might appear to be decorative, but the real reason the brothers removed the block’s sharp corners was for safety. The Arco lamp is one of the classics of modern lighting design and is part of MoMA’s permanent collection:
Looking back at all these designs - can you believe that some of them are over 80 years old...?? They look as if they were designed today. I now cannot wait to get going on another modern design.

Valerie’s London: Guide to Posh Shopping in Kensington

Valerie’s London: Guide to Posh Shopping in Kensington & Chelsea

Posted using ShareThis

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I'm guest blogger at Decorati

Thank you to Shane Reilly, Founder of Decorati, for asking me to be a guest blogger on her fantastic website.

I wrote a piece on London's Kensington and Chelsea - at the time I was a design student - read a little of what I got up to on a typical Saturday.

Hope you like it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Durham, England

As well as interior design, I have a passion for architecture. I studied the History of Architecture & Interior Design at UC Berkeley Extension and loved it. I particularly admire Georgian architecture - it's the symmetry, gets me every time! The size of the sash windows, the door placed slap bang in the middle and painted a wonderful dark colour and the brick work.

With architecture in mind, I was thinking of Durham. My parents are from Durham and most of my family still live there. So I had many vacations and visits there, all through my childhood, hanging out with my fabulous cousins and having a great time. When I look at these photos, I can just see myself growing up - for instance Durham's viaduct takes me back to my Grandmother taking me to the park near there and it also reminds me of being a teenager when my friends and I would take the train and get off at Durham station, which also reminds me of my exams as I was studying the Industrial Revolution and the train station was part of that movement. Then there are memories given to me by my parents - my Mother used to work at a store next to Elvet Bridge and it's on this bridge my Father would wait to walk her home... I think they were only 18!! May have been younger.

Durham is so beautiful to walk around.... there were no shopping malls.... as teenagers we wandered around the shops, threw stones into the River Wear from Elvet or Framwellgate bridges, walked around the Castle and Cathedral and checked out all the trendy (or we thought so at the time) students who went to Durham University.

So with architecture in mind..... Durham Cathedral, of Norman descent was founded in its present form in AD 1093: The Castle was originally built in the eleventh century as a projection of the Norman power in the north of England:Elvet bridge was constructed in 1160, during the time of Bishop Hugh de Puiset (1153–95). Hugh Du Puiset, also known as "Bishop Pudsey" was a powerful Prince Bishop, who instigated a significant amount of building work in northern England. The bridge has a total of ten arches:

Framwellgate bridge is a mediaeval masonry arch bridge across the River Wear. It is a Grade I listed building. The bridge was constructed in the early twelfth century (around 1120) on the orders of Bishop Ranulf Flambard:

The centre of Durham sits on a peninsula created by the River Wear. At the base of the peninsula is the Market Place, which still hosts regular markets; a permanent indoor market is also situated just off the Market Place. The Market Place and surrounding streets are one of the main commercial and shopping areas of the city:
The soldier on the horse in the Market Place is apparently missing something. Everyone is asked if they can spot it. Does anyone know?

Durham's viaduct - it opened in 1857 as part of North Eastern Railway's Newcastle to Bishop Auckland line.

Finally, gorgeous street scenes:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wales, England

My parents have a Summer place in Wales. It's in the Northern part of Wales and the scenery is stunning. It's a very popular Summer vacation destination.

When staying in Wales, we have breakfast and decide where we're going that day. This is nearly always based on which town has it's open air market that day. The markets are bustling affairs that include Farmer's Markets, along with bric-a-brac, vintage pieces, some must have gadget (that will invariably break the minute it gets home), toys, things for your car... you name it - they sell it! My favourite stalls, of course, sell home decor items - such as drapery, bedding, buttons, cushions, pillows, etc. I always leave with something.

As well as the markets, there are some excellent shops in the surrounding towns and villages. I've come upon tiny antique shops hidden away and vintage, dusty old book shops full to the brim of gorgeous books, begging to be bought! There's also quite a few second-hand stores which are packed with hidden treasures.

Here's a little history on some of my favourite places nearby.


Llandudno, Queen of the Welsh Resorts, a title first implied as early as 1864 is now the largest seaside resort in Wales, and lies on a flat land between the Welsh mainland and the Great Orme peninsula. For most of the distance on Llandudno's North Shore there is a wide curving Victorian promenade separated from the roadway by a strip of garden. The road, collectively known as The Parade, has a different name for each block and it is on these parades and crescents that many of Llandudno's hotels are built. The architecture is truly amazing:

The town's award winning pier is on the North Shore; it was built in 1878, and is 1,234 feet (376 m) in length and a Grade II listed building. Attractions on the pier include a bar, a cafe, amusement arcades and children's fairground rides. There is also a range of shops, including Victorian kiosks selling photographic prints of the local area, crafts, herbal remedies and souvenirs. In the summer, a very old English tradition takes place - Professor Codman's Punch and Judy show - it's a kind of puppet show (established in 1860) can be found on the promenade near the entrance to the Pier:


Conwy (formerly Conway in English) is a town on the north coast of Wales, which faces Deganwy across the River Conwy. Conwy Castle and the town walls were built on the instructions of Edward I between 1283 and 1289, as part of his conquest of the principality of Wales.

The smallest house in Great Britain can be found on the quay. It is in the Guiness Book of Records with dimensions of 3.05 metres x 1.8 metres. It was lived in since the 1500s (it was even inhabited by a family at one point) and lived in until 1900 when the owner a (6ft fisherman – Robert Jones) was forced to move out on the grounds of hygiene. The rooms were too small for him to stand up in fully. The house is still owned by his descendants today: