Tuesday, 5 March 2019 / London, UK

[AD] THE DREAMIEST BLANKET FROM LAPUAN KANKURIT






A girl can never have too many blankets or throws, am I right? Not only do they keep you warm during the colder months, but they are the perfect accessory when you want to add softness and texture to a room. I keep throws in both of our lounges, plus in the bedrooms. You just never know when you might need some extra layers. 

If you're not familiar with Lapuan Kankurit, you are in for a treat. Do check out their new Spring/Summer collection here. I had the pleasure to meet the team behind the Finnish textile brand, at Maison & Objet fair in Paris in January. I spotted the Finnish flag at their exhibition stand and swiftly made my way towards those stunning textiles. Turns out Lapuan Kankurit is a family business which opened their first weaving mill back in 1917. In fact, their top designs are still woven in Lapua (a small town in Finland) using natural raw materials. The everyday workings of a weaving mill require various different stages and every one of them requires a skilled professional. They use environmentally friendly processes in the production and do continuous research and development, not to mention create some incredibly unique and timeless designs.


 

I cannot tell you how happy I was when they asked me if I wanted to test out one of their products in my own home. It took me a while to pick my favourite (I would quite happily fill my entire house with their heavenly textiles) but I guess it was the unique pattern of the Himmeli blanket that caught my eye in the end. The Himmeli blanket is made of 100% high quality, fine wool. The wool itself comes from South America and Australia and the yarns are dyed in Europe. The blanket itself is weaved in Finland by using a jacquard weaving machine. All the finishing, inspecting and drying happens in Finland too. A Helsinki based textile designer, Eri Shimatsuka, is the lady behind the stunning Himmeli pattern. You can also find some Himmeli cushion covers and tea towels in their online store which sounds pretty tempting in deed..



As you can see, I'm currently living in this blanket. It's so soft and doesn't itch (unlike some other wool throws I've had in the past). It's a pretty generous size too. It's big enough to cover most of our couch which is very handy since we have small children. I keep draping myself in it too when I'm sitting on the sofa. I'm thinking about getting one of their shawls as I'd love to walk around the house in this big blanket. It's without a doubt the nicest quality blanket I own and probably the most stylish too. 

If you still need some convincing, check out their entire wool blanket collection here. Don't know about you, but I kind of want them all..

* This is a collaborative post with Lapuan Kankurit. 
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Tuesday, 12 February 2019 / London, UK

[AD] DIY VALENTINE'S FLOWERS WITH DARTINGTON CRYSTAL


Valentine's Day is nearly here. Only few more days to go which means it's time to start planning those flowers, chocolates and surprises for that special person in your life. I know Valentine's plans can be frustrating and expensive too. Flowers are certainly not cheap this time of year and everything seems to have that Valentine's 'extra' added. Which is exactly why I decided to share my DIY Valentine's bouquet with you. It's so much more affordable than a bouquet from a florist and looks just as impressive ( I hope).

I've teamed up with Dartington Crystal to create the perfect DIY flower arrangement this Valentine's Day. I picked the Florabundance Settle vase (size large) to go with this flower arrangement. It's so striking, don't you think? The optical effect creates more interest and thanks to its large size it's certainly a statement piece. I went for the large size but this vase is also available in two other sizes (small and medium). My vase collection has been missing a big statement vase and I'm so delighted I found this one. It's a big vase which means you need more flowers and ideally taller stems. You could always go for big fluffy flowers like peonies but unfortunately they weren't in season. 


My local florist was quoting me 40 pounds to create a similar flower arrangement, so I decided to get creative myself. This flower arrangement cost me only 12 pounds and it's so easy to make. Now I should probably mention that I have done a brief floristry course which I did find super helpful. If you're not comfortable creating an arrangement yourself, an evening course will help you to get the hang of it. Of course you could just google flower arranging or watch a few youtube tutorials (if you don't have the time to do a proper course).

So, how did I manage to create this big bouquet for 12 pounds? Easy. My florist was quoting me 20 pounds for a dozen of pink roses, but I got mine in Sainsbury's for 6 pounds in stead. That's a huge saving. However, I did buy some individual stems from the florist (6 stems) and they cost me another 6 pounds. Mixing some fancier individual stems/filler flowers together with roses will give your bouquet that professional look.


My flower shopping list (total £12)

12 pink roses (from any supermarket)

2 solidago stems (Most florists will stock them and they make great filler flowers that quickly add volume and balance to bouquets)

2 purple veronica spiacata flower stems. (Usually these look more blue, so I'm not 100% sure whether this is the right name but it's as close as I could find. These stems are great for creating impact in bigger bouquets, although I would only use max. 3 stems)

4 sea crass stems (from a florist)

My main flowers were roses and I added the foliage and the purple veronica in the middle. I like to hold the bouquet in one hand and add a single stem at a time, criss-crossing the stems to a bouquet. I prefer two or three main flowers and then some foliage. You don't want to add too many different type of flowers either as it can make the arrangement look a little bit too 'busy'. Also, some supermarkets will stock filler flowers but you usually have to buy a bunch (which isn't ideally if you're only making one bouquet at home). That's why I prefer to buy the individual stems at the florist and the roses at my local supermarket.




I really love the way the flower arrangement turned out. Obviously I'm no florist but I did find that my flower arranging course helped a lot. I also think that without the tall grass stems the bouquet would have looked a little short, so I'm really glad I added them. It's also really important that your vase complements your flowers. I can see myself getting so much out of this vase that I'm considering buying it in other sizes too.

I hope this post has inspired you to create a DIY flower arrangement this Valentine's Day and I would also make sure you have the right size/style vase to go with it. If you have any questions/comments, please leave a note below.

Happy Valentine's Day!


*This is a collaborative post with Dartington Crystal.

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Tuesday, 5 February 2019 / Paris, France

HOTEL D'AUBUSSON


I told you about my trip to Paris last week and how amazing it was to attend the prestigious Maison & Objet in the French capital, but I felt our hotel deserved its own post. Most people who attend M&O  tend to stay near the exhibition centre, near the airport, but since I was travelling from London to Paris with Eurostar it made sense to stay in a city centre hotel. I also decided to stay in Paris for few extra days to enjoy the beautiful city and all that it has to offer. Of course I'm talking about restaurants, shopping and those delicious bakeries.

I found the wonderful Hotel D'Aubusson thanks to Google and it certainly did not disappoint. I picked the hotel mainly due to its convenient location in Saint Germain. It's right in the heart of the Latin quartier (in the 6th arrondissement) and easy walking distance to many landmarks, shops and restaurants. I also knew that it would be on the RER B line, which has direct train service from Saint Michel-Notre Dame to Villepinte (where the exhibition was held). I also lived in Odeon for one summer in my early 20s and fell in love with the area. It's such a true Parisian neighbourhood with its boutiques, many art galleries, bakeries and Michelin starred restaurants.

The hotel entrance looked as stylish and chic as I had imagined. I had totally forgotten how beautiful Parisian architecture is. There was inspiration and beauty everywhere. The Juliet balconies draped with foliage looked so beautiful even on a cold January day. I also thought the main entrance topiary looked absolutely stunning. I mean, what a welcome right?



The lobby looked equally stylish thanks to the mirrored furniture, giant flower arrangements and the most spectacular chandelier. Hotel D'Aubusson definitely oozes understated luxury and elegance. Isn't that what Paris all about anyway? The entire city is effortlessly chic and breathtakingly beautiful. It almost felt like I'd gone back in time, in a good way of course. I also loved the neutral colour palette which made the hotel feel warm and inviting. It didn't feel like I was staying in a hotel. It felt more like a private residence (or a mansion) which made my stay feel extra special.




Our room was a standard double room but it had everything we needed. A good size bed, lovely décor (all the rooms in the hotel are furnished differently) and even a mobile phone with 3G that I could borrow during my stay. I didn't actually need it in the end but it was very thoughtful. I thought the room was a good size as usually Parisian hotel rooms are tiny. You won't get a lot of space in the city centre but it really didn't bother me as we were out pretty much all the time. I miss the French balconies. I'm a really nosy person and I love people-watching, especially in Paris. It was a bit chilly to fully enjoy it (1 degree Celsius most days) but during the summer I would love to watch the world go by and enjoy the Parisian period charm. 





All the 49 rooms feature different colour schemes and modern amenities. Our room was predominantly green with floral wallpaper. I really loved the pop of colour. I was also a huge fan of their lighting choices. I wouldn't mind having contemporary lighting like this in my own house one day. Panelled walls and patterned textiles created more interests and depth. The old world charm was perfectly mixed with modern finishes.






 






Did I mention they had Hermes toiletries in the bathroom as well? Seriously, when can I move in..



Hotel D'Aubusson used to be a private Parisian mansion dating back to 1634 and you could really tell. You can still sense the old school elegance in the hotel. It has been fully refurbished but all the original features have been kept. It's the epitome of discreet luxury. The Louis XV furniture, original Aubusson tapestries and a spectacular wood burning fireplace work so well together. 








The outdoor terrace deserves a mention too. It was styled to perfection and I can only imagine how popular it must be during the summer. It was too cold to sit outside in January but I guess it means I need to come back during the summer. Luckily Paris is so close that I can totally see myself coming here for another long weekend. 





We had a wonderful stay at Hotel D'Aubusson and the concierge couldn't have been more helpful. This hotel truly deserves its 5 stars as I think it's quite hard to find affordable luxury right in the city  centre in Paris. I would say this is an ideal hotel for both business and pleasure (and especially for couples). They are very child friendly but personally I would prefer to leave my 5 yo and 3 yo busy bees at home. I was lucky my husband was able to join me on this trip, so I managed to combine business with pleasure. We really enjoyed the live jazz music in the hotel every night. It made our stay feel very Parisian and authentic. I would definitely come back to this hotel whether it would be for a holiday or for a short work trip.

FUN THINGS TO DO IN PARIS

1. Have lunch at the Le Cinq (George V, Four Seasons)

This is a stunning hotel and definitely worth a visit. The dinner in the 3 Michelin stared restaurant costs a fortune though which is why it's better to go for lunch in stead. Order the tasting menu if you want to spoil yourself.

2. Cocktails in Alcazar

This place is designed to perfection! I wouldn't bother with food though (it wasn't that great) but the balcony bar (with a DJ) is the perfect hangout on Friday and Saturday nights.

3. Go for an intimate dinner to Restaurant H  

This little hidden gem in la Bastille was recommended to us by Michel Roux Junior. The restaurant has only 7 tables so you must book in advance. The tasting menu with matching wines is very affordable in Paris standards and I was surprised to find sake on the pairing wines list. Book it. You won't regret it, I promise.

4. Listen to live jazz in Café Laurent


As it turned out one of the nicest jazz bars in Paris just happened to be in our hotel. Ok it's the only jazz bar I've been to in Paris, but I was impressed and loved it. Café Laurent have live jazz music most evenings and the perfect Parisian ambiance. Perfect to visit as a couple or with a group of friends.

5. Shop in Le Bon Marche

January is a great time to go shopping in Paris as it's winter sales everywhere. You may even find 70% off some designer items. Don't forget to stock up on Diptyque and Goutal scented candles at the Bon Marche.

6. Have breakfast/snack at Marche St. Germain

This is probably one of the nicest and  cheapest breakfast/lunch/snack spots you can find in Saint Germain. It's nothing fancy and it is full of locals, but it's perfect for a quick snack. Buy some speciality cheeses or a fancy bottle of Puligny Montrachet.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below!
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Thursday, 31 January 2019 / Paris, France

[AD] MAISON & OBJET PARIS 2019




2019 couldn't have started off better. I attended Maison & Objet, the most prestigious interiors and design trade show on the planet, in Paris few weeks ago in collaboration with Treniq. If you follow my Instagram stories you've probably seen my highlights from the event already. Maison & Objet is a major event for the global design community.  Even my taxi driver in Paris knew about the event and warned me that the city will be extra busy for the third week of January, especially since it was also Paris Fashion week. Of course I didn't mind. In fact, the more the merrier, although you should expect your hotel room to cost double what it usually costs for this reason.

Nothing really could have stopped me from attending this event. Maison & Objet has always been on my bucket list. It's such a huge trade show. There were 8 different halls showcasing everything from fashion accessories to homewares. It's also very much the place to be seen and to network in the industry. Maison & Objet is strictly for professionals, so anyone who is there is in the industry which makes the event so much more exclusive. There were a lot of buyers, designers and just head of major department stores there. It was truly the perfect place for me to get inspiration and mingle/network and that's exactly what I did during my stay in Paris.

Getting there was pretty stress-free too. I'm so lucky to live in London as Paris is only 2.5 hours by train  from St Pancras (to Gard du Nord). I didn't want to fly (and stay near the airport where the exhibition is) as I can't imagine going to Paris and not being able to experience the city. I lived in Paris for 4 months in my 20s, so it has always been a special place for me. I stayed in Saint Germain (which just happens to be my 'old hood') and luckily there was a direct train service going from Saint-Michel Notre-Dame (RER B) to Villepinte (where the exhibition was). Everything was so hassle-free and it only took me 35 minutes in the metro to get to the exhibition. Saint Germain is super close to the metro station (app. 5 minute walk), so if you're planning to attend Maison & Objet, this is the ideal location to stay in. There are lots of cafes, shops and nice restaurants in Saint Germain which will make your stay feel a lot more pleasant than staying in a hotel near the exhibition centre.

Now, let's talk about the event itself. What can I say, it was unreal. It was definitely the coolest interiors event I've ever been to. And I've been to quite a few! It was also the biggest and most international trade show I've ever attended. I knew it was going to be big but I really didn't expect to be walking 6 hours a day non-stop. All the halls were within walking distance from each other but there is so much on display that you will get distracted. I started off in Hall 6 and spent most of my time in the Unique & Eclectic section. I panicked a little when I realised all the other things that were on my must-see list and how little time I had left. I had made a plan beforehand and honestly without it I would have been a little lost. Plan what you want to see because you won't be able to see it all.






Like I said,  my favourite hall was the Unique & Eclectic section and I spent most of my time there. It was like a cross road of cultures from all over the world. The furniture pieces and the decorative objects (especially art) were unlike anything I've seen before. They had some really unusual lighting designs and they had even DJs playing music there. The vibe was out of this world and you couldn't help but get inspired as you walked from one stall to another. You can tell dark colour schemes are back. Lots of dark and bold colours were on display, replacing the neutral palettes of the previous seasons. Brass, gold and silver were used to create layered, eclectic spaces. Natural materials like wood and rattan were pretty predominant too. There were lots of irregular shapes and unsual designs that caught me eye. Feminine tones (especially blush and pink) seem to be here to stay (at least for this season). Also, velvet sofas are still very much in trend this season, although you may seem some bolder and more creative designs (which very much draw their inspiration from art deco; think of scalloped shaped furniture!)





Also, the What's New? sections were worth a look. 3 different spaces and 3 themes were presented to showcase seasons outstanding new products. I preferred the décor section of course which was organised to 3 contrasting atmospheres. Minimal Brutalist (natural & minimal), Luxury Graphic (luxurious and dramatic) and Ethic Arty (which combines different cultures). I loved them all for very different reasons. Items made by hand are huge this year. A lot of sustainable materials are used as well like clay, jute and bamboo, rattan, sisal, paper and glass. The handmade ethnic vases and sculptures were worth examining close up and I was so happy to see that wall rugs are back!









Mid century modern furniture is also still very much in demand thanks to its timeless sleek lines and organic shapes. You'll see more dark colours this year, like dark stained wood.



I'm so happy that bohemian and tribal designs are still going strong. Cultural influences seem to be a big part of it this season and I also love the use of natural fabrics. People are looking for eco-friendly options which is why it's important to introduce sustainable, natural materials to soft textiles and  furnishing. Rattan has been one of my favourite materials for the past 5 years and I love that it's now used literally in everything from laundry baskets to lighting. Natural rugs are also bigger than ever.







The home fragrances section in hall 3 is also worth mentioning. As a self-proclaimed candle addict I was in scent heaven. I thought my scent knowledge was pretty vast, but I spotted quite a few new brands too. Those gigantic home diffusers smelled amazing. Unfortunately there was no way I would have been able to sneak one into my handbag.. Maybe next time!





I hope you've enjoyed my Maison & Objet highlights. It is impossible to cover everything in this piece, so I thought I'll focus on the things that stood out for me most. The whole experience was amazing and I want to say a massive thank you to Treniq for sponsoring my trip there. I felt so lucky to be there and I was so inspired and full of ideas afterwards. I literally wanted to redecorate our entire house all over again. Nah, just joking! But it was nice to see how certain trends are evolving at the moment. The bohemian trend has never looked more glamorous and I truly believe that sustainable interiors and eco-friendly living are the future. Maison & Objet is a semi-annual event and the next one is in September. I would say it's definitely worth a visit, especially if you're running a small business. You will get so much information on the latest trends and products and it's also a great way to present your products and knowledge to a bigger audience. Plus, of course there's the little thing that the event is held in Paris. Need I say more..

* This is a collaborative post with Treniq.

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