Wednesday, March 30, 2011

vintage or retro?

I need your help.
Please look at the following images and give me your opinion.



Retro or vintage?



Vintage or retro?



Retro or vintage?



Last one. Retro or vintage?
You see, I know they're both buzz words at the moment as far as interiors go, but sometimes it is hard to define them. My team & I were having a training session the other day, and what one described as vintage, the others saw as retro. And vice versa. And can they be both? And with both terms tossed about so much, I really do want to know what you think?
To me, vintage is pre-loved, not necessarily of value, but something that I can be sentimental about.
Often chippy (to use a Melissa-ism), perfect in an imperfect way. Perhaps ripe for upcycling into a modern vintage piece with some gorgeous new fabric, like all of these.
I find 'retro' less easy to define. I can say something is 'retro-inspired' and think of the chair in the first photo. But could this also be vintage? I think of retro more as a time frame. Vintage as more time worn. 
Retro is hard. Vintage is soft.
What do you think?

Amanda xx
(images all with permission of Designers Guild)
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Monday, March 28, 2011

(not so) happy monday



Happy Monday everyone. I hope you all had a great weekend.
I thought, because so many of you seem to be interested, that I'd just give you a quick update on our renovations. Absolutely nothing to show you, but I am viewing the fact that the place has been totally ripped apart in a positive light. Last night in the wind I wasn't quite so sure. The tarpaulins didn't last long in the gentle Wellington breeze (ha ha), so we were just a little exposed to the elements.
Dormitory living is cosy to say the least. The girls love it. And the dog loves it. The dog vomiting beside the bed on Night 2 - not so good. In my disoriented state (because our bed has been turned around) I only narrowly avoided walking in it as I found my way to the laundry.
My little Eva is not so sure about all that is going on. We arrived home tonight to find the skip outside full of smashed up bits of pink walls. As the realisation hit Eva that her room was literally in the skip, she cried and cried. And once she got inside, and saw that all that was left of her room was one and a half walls she was distraught. She didn't want a new room anymore. She just wanted the comfort (and security) of her old room.'Why couldn't we just get a new kitchen and not do everything?' she cried.
I think that in all my excitement, I confess that I perhaps overlooked how the extent of the remodelling would affect her. Old enough to understand everything that is going on. Too young to quite take it all in.Tired and emotional. Not a good combination.

I almost promised her that pink spiral staircase - anything to try and cheer her up.
So that's the home camping report for now. So far, mostly good. Ask me again in a few weeks time!

Amanda xx
(image Designers Guild - with permission)


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Thursday, March 24, 2011

the art of display

We've had fun this week, literally playing instore with many of our displays.
Personally, I love nothing more than working on making my store as visually enticing as possible, and I really get a kick out of it when the results are obviously enjoyed by our customers.
We were so happy to see the very beautiful o-check graphics range when it arrived on Monday. 
This simple and nostalgic range of stationery from Korea gave us plenty of ideas for a window display.
I thought you may like to see the process involved in putting it together. 

First, we gathered together all our props & the stationery. We wanted to recreate the same nostalgic, almost old-fashioned look and feel of this charming range with our window display.
So our props were mostly vintage too. Jo found some wonderful old clipboards in a local junk shop, and I confess that I seized the opportunity NOT to pack some of my old treasures from home, and brought them in to the store for the window instead. The cardboard packing that this range was nestled in when delivered was also salvaged for the display.
Library cards, a writing slate, japanese stamps, an old pharmacy prescription stamp, box brownie cameras - all were assembled together with the lovely o-check notebooks & journals & accoutrements.

Jo added all the little details. She is a master at this!






























I may be biased, but I think the result really tells a story. And captures perfectly the o-check aesthetic - notebooks which upon creation are empty, but come alive when filled with words.
What do you think?

Amanda xx


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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

my house my castle



I'm sorry I've been off the airwaves for a couple of days.
The truth is things escalated fairly rapidly on the house renovation front. To the point where my excitement at accepting and signing off on a tender last week was tempered somewhat by the builders announcing that they were ready to start this week.
Mild panic set in when the reality of what this meant set in.
You see, we intend to 'live through' this renovation. Six months of camping out in a couple of designated rooms while everything happens around us, and move rooms when our builders tell us to do so.
I second-guessed what I thought the programme, and initial designated rooms would be.
I guessed wrong. 
So, we've been packing our lives into boxes, and storing furniture for the last few days.
I have no idea how things are going to go.
I'm thinking that the novelty of all of us, including the dog, sleeping dormitory style in one room is not going to last for long!
But, I'm also so excited that things are underway at last.
I just have one question...
Why do builders start so early in the morning? (And they're so chirpy too.)
And will they cope with the vision that may greet them from time to time?
(I'm talking about Brunnel of course, not me!)

Amanda xx

P.S Still room for a vase of my beloved dahlias. The only treasures that aren't packed, and woe-betide any big builder boots that stomp on these bushes!
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

retail detail - trelise cooper



I had the pleasure last night of being invited to the opening of the new Trelise Cooper flagship store here in Wellington. And I say pleasure with an emphasis, because I don't believe Wellington has had such a beautiful store, or such a glitterati opening night in some time. As one of my lovely clients said, and I agreed, it was such a lovely excuse to dress up, and there aren't enough events in Wellington for us to do so.
The new store is located in the Old Public Trust building on Lambton Quay, one of Wellington's most beautiful historic buildings. As I approached the store last night, I realised that the last time I had ventured inside this space it was seven years ago for a scan when I was pregnant with Eva. Believe me, all traces of this former life as a radiology clinic have long gone. 
And it goes to show what a little vision and foresight can uncover.





Being the sort that notices every little detail (really I hear my friends say), there was so much to take in. Soaring chapel-like ceilings with the old beams left bare and exposed, a glimpse of beautiful Designers Guild wallpaper in each changing room, sculptured copper flowers and chandeliers, the black and white tile entrance, stunning art pieces wherever one looked, hydrangeas in shades of white, pale celadon green and pink, and of course the clothes. 
Oh, the clothes. In all their layered up glory. 
I wasn't the only one who thought I should just spare my credit card the trouble and chop it up there and then. After seeing Trelise's beautiful creations on tall, willowy models I also vowed that I should never eat again. Ever. 
But mostly, I was just so excited. Because I think this store and all that it contains, is just so fabulous.

So, congratulations Trelise, and particularly to Penny Barnett, the clever girl with the vision to create & bring this stunning store to Wellington. I can't wait to be let loose in those dressing rooms! (Just don't tell Brunnel.)

(The Trelise Cooper Wellington Flagship Store, at 131 Lambton Quay, opens this Monday.)

Amanda xx

(P.S If you hover behind the real fashion paparazzi with your little point & shoot camera, you get some fun shots like this!)
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

easy breezy - quick fix no. 13


A wee while ago, during one of my 'getting carried away at the auction' moments, I bought a carton of old children's books. Sight unseen, and the whole lot for $10.00. 
I love old children's books, they're so quaint. No vampires or rainbow/gem fairies, just lots of jolly hockey stick school girl types having brilliant adventures and solving mysteries.
Anyway, the books in my auction carton were mostly annuals circa 1930. 
After losing myself in them for a day or so, my main conclusion was that they were too lovely to just go back into the box, and some especially, deserved to be singled out for a wee project I wanted to try.
I wish I could claim to be the creative brain behind this idea, but that honour goes to the lovely Jo, whom I am very lucky to have work for me, (and also whom I'm apparently working so hard she has no time for her own blog at the moment.)
It's a case of a book shelf being exactly that - a book shelf.


OK, maybe not an instant 'quick fix' in that this fabulous little project does require the help of a metalworker, but with just a little organisation, this is a novel (pardon the pun) way to create some really great shelves, and I think they are particularly cute for kids rooms.
Choose hardbound books with nice covers. If the shelf is going to be a little higher on the wall it is also best to choose a book with a nice spine, as this is the part you'll see the most.
We also used two same size books together, which gave us a little extra strength in our shelf, and enabled us to use thinner annuals which had lovely covers.
After measuring the spine, we had our 'man of steel', Steve, make us some brackets which were bent into a u-shape that would hug the books tightly when they were pushed into the bracket. Each shelf requires two brackets. Screw the brackets into the wall, and push the book into them.



Three or four, spaced irregularly, look really great.
And are a much better idea than to let all those lovely old reads gather dust somewhere in a box.

Amanda xx
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Saturday, March 12, 2011

it's ab fab




As Eddie from Absolutely Fabulous would say 
"It's La Croix sweetie. La Croix."
Emphasis on the 'La' and 'Croix'. And so it is.
This extraordinarily beautiful, digitally printed Vuelta panel print is from the Arles fabric collection designed by Christian Lacroix for Designers Guild.
Inspired by the south of France, this collection translates the adventurous spirit of Lacroix couture into beautiful fabrics and furnishings for the home.
This floral fabric panel is designed to be hung in either direction, so that the flowers either reach for the sky or tumble down in colourful abundance.
I love how the butterflies appear to have fluttered on to the wall to enjoy the sunshine.

I hope you enjoy some sunshine yourselves this weekend! 
After breaking her arm in the holidays, Eva is finally allowed to go swimming again. But only for 15 minutes according to the physio. And we're still not allowed back on our bike. But this is progress at last.
Have a lovely one!

Amanda xx

(image copyright & with the permission of Designers Guild)
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

happy accidents


One of the most admired pieces in our new store is this little old french cot bed with its patchwork mattress. 
Upon finding the cot bed at Cherry Orchard Antiques, I excitedly planned a display around it, and ordered a gorgeous new Designers Guild velvet to make the mattress cover.
However, as happens from time to time, the fabric was delayed out of the UK.
I knew time would be tight, but I also knew that the end result was worth the wait, so I decided to wait for my first choice of fabric.
An email advising a further delay had me in a bit of a panic. The store was due to reopen in just over a week's time, and the fabric wasn't remotely going to make it, and to make matters worse, I now had no time to choose a different fabric.

And so, out came my fabric offcuts and sewing machine.
It may look haphazard, but actually the patchwork was carefully planned.
I made my upholsterer a front and back panel, so that he could just cut it as if it were several metres of fabric, and I also made the patchwork gusset for the box portion of the mattress.
I limited my colour palette, but used all sorts of textures. There are silks, velvets, & embroideries in the mix of stunning Designers Guild fabrics.
Adding a little black & white into the mix is a key ingredient. It breaks up the dynamic mix of colour and pattern, and adds a new perspective. Colour is nothing without black & white.

And so the end result is spontaneous and unique. 
A contemporary look for a rustic old furniture piece, using vibrant colour and texture, beautiful fabrics and an ancient sewing machine!
And as beautiful as my original choice of fabric was, I think I ended up with something that I love even more. A very happy accident!

Amanda xx
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Monday, March 7, 2011

happy monday


Usually my 'homework' involves one or both of my girls, a crash course in factors, fractions and division to awaken my rusty brain, a spellathon, and helping with whatever else they may be studying at school.
Yesterday, I had a little of my own to complete. 
And it was a lot more fun!
You see I'm currently taking a blogging course with Holly from Decor8, which I am just loving.
Oh yes, give me a mood board assignment any day!
Here's just a portion of mine. I could have taken over the dining table without too much prodding, but attempted to show some restraint.
My inspirations are clear - to me at least. They quite possibly look awfully chaotic to anyone else. I'm not sure if that is a good or a bad thing, but I'm giving myself an A for this assignment!

Happy Monday!
Amanda xx
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Thursday, March 3, 2011

a little loveliness


We have had so many people visit our store this week just to, as they put it - look at something pretty, something that will take us out of the everyday.
Particularly our current everyday.
And I know what they mean by needing something lovely to gaze upon. I'm exactly the same.
And I'm flattered that they choose Small Acorns as their 'something lovely'.
We know how lucky we are to surround ourselves with so much loveliness everyday. 
And the colour in our store is so uplifting. Colour in general is so uplifting.

And these little treasures from my dahlia patch are just amazing! Absolute perfection with so much frilli-ness.
Because a little frilli-ness goes a long way at the moment too.

And I'm sorry if my blogging has been a little absent of late. Or absentminded. Or rambly (see above!)
I'll be back to my usual frilly self from now on.

Amanda xx
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