14 November 2011


My hard drive has been straining at the seams with all the lovely inspirational interior pictures I’ve been collecting over the last couple of weeks, so I thought I’d better share them with the world :) I’m slowly but surely narrowing down options in my head and my current favourite colour scheme is greys, blues and teals with maybe something bright to liven it up. Combined with driftwood stained stuff - can you tell I was born on the coast?! I adore the sea wallpaper and would love to recreate it, but the thought of trying to do that with a paint brush makes me weep!  

Although all these amazing set-up-by-an-interior-stylist type pictures have helped with giving me ideas, I do think it’s time to get realistic and start looking at more affordable stuff. No more Elle Interiors and Homes & Interiors Scotland for me, time to get crafty!

Pictures: 1&2, 3, 4&5, 6,7

7 November 2011


Since my return from Gothenburg, I have become a little obsessed with Nordic style. Bright white interiors, exposed concrete and distressed, faded wood have all got me swooning. This ties in very nicely with the prospect of moving house (and when I say house I mean flat...) in the coming few months, and, for once, it’s a flat I can decorate, paint, and adorn to my heart’s content! I still don’t really have any fixed ideas yet, but it’s been fun to buy Elle Decoration and Living etc, and weep drool over all the lovely but ridiculously expensive sofas, rugs, kitchen utensils and candle holders (10 000 bucks for those btw! #crazytimes).

Luckily, the new abode has been done up to sell, so it has a brand spanking new bathroom and kitchen and doesn’t need any work whatsoever, which I am very grateful for :). Here are a few snapshots from my imaginatively named Inspiration folder, all found via my new favourite Swedish blogger, Emma. (Her blog is fantastic, and visually stunning - I had to stop myself from reading every single post!) I love the greys, the petrol blues and the charcoals coupled with the shabby chic palettes, and I’ve loved that woodland wallpaper since clocking it on Grand Designs a few years ago. Make sure you don’t miss the kitty – he’s hiding! (Pictures: Emma's Blog)

7 October 2011


 Since winning a colouring competition in his honour when I was ten, I’ve always had a bit of a thing for old Rabbie Burns, so I was delighted to finally visit the new Birthplace Museum with the volunteers from the Georgian House, on what turned out to be a real dreich October day! Replacing the 1906 visitor centre, the new museum was designed by Edinburgh’s Simpson & Brown for the National Trust for Scotland, and is home to the biggest Burns collection in the world. The new building - clad in Moray timber and crowned with a sweeping grass roof - forms the centrepiece to several other Alloway hotspots that include the Burns cottage, Auld Kirk and Brig O’ Doon, and represents a meeting of great design with sustainability. 

After arriving in the West Coast, we headed up to Burn’s cottage, a traditional thatched But and Ben where the poet was born in 1759. Comprising of just four rooms, it’s hard to believe that the tiny abode housed Robert, his parents and siblings, the family tutor John Murdoch as well as the family horse, cows and chickens! Inside the byrne, four screens give us a bird’s eye view of each room and what would’ve been going on, from his father rising early to work on the farm, to his mother making butter, or Robert himself having lessons in the evening. Replicas of the original furniture and cleverly placed sound recordings bring the house to life, whilst snippets of poetry on the walls and furniture remind us of the influence his home had on his work.

From here we walked down to the new museum, via the new Poet’s Path, a charming walkway that keeps us entertained with decorative wind vanes that tell the story of Tam O’ Shanter, as well as a sculptural ode to a mouse, and a curving footbridge that gives you a taste of the materials used throughout the masterplan. In spite of the rain, the museum building looks very impressive. Flanked by two curved dry stone walls marking the perimeter, the museum is built from head to toe in locally sourced, untreated timber. The T-shaped public zone of entrance court and cafe are bright and airy, and reveal the nature of the undulating roof that crowns the building, feeding light throughout.

After lunch we were taken through to the darkened main exhibition space, where the collection is split up into four sections explaining who Robert Burns was, what influenced him, his legacy and of course, the works themselves. Instead of being left to our own devices, our tour guide pointed out a few things of particular interest, such as the only surviving picture of his long suffering wife, Jean Armour as well as the miniature pencil and notebook set that Burns would carry around with him should inspiration strike. Other notable items include a painting illustrating the very first Burns Supper, which took place only a year after Robert died in 1796, and a small segment of the (black!) wedding dress Jean wore to marry her husband. Apparently, white dresses only came into fashion with the Victorians! 

Interestingly, all the wording surrounding the exhibits is in Scots, which is a nice touch and creates more of an affinity with the poet than straightforward English would. Our Charlotte Square neighbour Alex Salmond would be most impressed! Unfortunately, with the weather being so miserable and time being tight I wasn’t able to explore the Auld Kirk and the Brig O’ Doon which complete the Burns experience, but if anything, that gives me an excuse to go back another day and finish the job. All in all, it was a great day, it’s just a pity it was so goddamn cauld!  

20 September 2011

A - L I S T E D

Since its heyday as the stomping ground of Glasgow’s aristocracy, this art deco building suffered an untimely fall from grace. Fortunately, Surface ID were on hand to restore it to its former glory.

When it opened its doors in 1913, the Hillhead Picture Salon was one of the first suburban cinemas in the city. Showcasing a full orchestra, handsome furnishings and 'the best pictures the world can supply', it was an extremely popular venue amongst the West End elite. The exposed concrete structure offset with belle èpoque plasterwork was a marvel, and an early example of the ‘Hennebique Ferroconcrete System’ – a method of strengthening concrete with iron and the predecessor of reinforced concrete construction commonplace today. Sadly, the glory days couldn’t last forever and dwindling numbers finally forced the cinema to close its doors for good in 1992.

Fast forward eighteen years, and after several disastrous refurbishments in the noughties that saw the balcony walled up and the ornate ceiling hidden from view, the former cinema building is back to its glorious best. Redesigned by Glasgow based Surface-ID as a restaurant and bar, the renamed Hillhead Book Club reads like a rule book for smart restoration. Entering through the glitzy canopy scattered with tiny fairy lights, and passing by the patio with its assortment of furniture, the Book Club is already looking pretty special. Inside, the magnificent architecture once again takes centre stage, but the crisp, formal whites of years gone past are replaced with softer mushrooms and taupes that echo the faded elegance of the old building. Grungy, pseudo vintage wallpaper is used to soften the elaborate plasterwork, while dark mahogany pews and gently glowing light fittings bring unexpected warmth.

In classic Surface ID style, a few bold choices help to launch the interior into the contemporary. The most obvious is the double height, wood panel partition that splits the room in half, creating quiet, intimate nooks behind it and a focal point for those at the bar in front. Adorning it, in the centre of the hall is the pièce de résistance - an illuminated moose head that pretty much embodies the quirky, off the wall nature of the Book Club. Leaping between eras, medieval banquet tables are clashed with steam punk light fittings, and a gramophone sits proudly at the bar amongst an old-school projector and shabby suitcases. The result is a haphazard jigsaw puzzle of eras and ages, that collectively form a pretty picture, an apt tribute if ever there was one. (Pictures: Surface ID)

16 September 2011


With its weathered appearance and classic narrow plan, Rural Design’s proposal for a family home on the Isle of Skye has all the hallmarks of traditional Highland architecture.

The Longhouse is probably described best in the words of the architect himself, as a lesson in ‘complicated simplicity’. It adheres to Highland practice of being small and contour hugging, and with its muted palette of greys and browns, it still fits in with the local vernacular. What prevents this home from becoming a simple Skye cottage however, is in the manner in which it seamlessly combines tradition and high tech, creating a new typology. Cumbersome materials like stone and thatch are discarded, and replaced with a quick to assemble timber frame, super insulated walls and locally sourced cladding.  Solar gain is maximised, and utilised alongside an air source heat pump, heat recovery and ventilation system which give the house enviable eco credentials. It is a format that Skye architects Rural Design have become masters of in recent years. 

For the most part, the house reflects the classic open-plan layout of a Scottish longhouse. A vast living, dining, and kitchen area dominates the front of the house, with a central fire forming the heart of the home. Two bedrooms, bathrooms and a small study complete the modest program.  What sets it apart from tradition are the contemporary touches, that include the optimistically named sun room to the rear, and the sizeable mezzanine level that overlooks the living area. Another highlight is the projecting window which punctuates the front of the house, breaking the classical form and extending the living area considerably. The panoramic views of the surrounding countryside are not to be sniffed at either!  

 Externally, the house is clad with weathered larch, which reflects the colours of both the sea and sky. Already fading to a silvery grey, the wood is testament to the stormy conditions the house has to withstand. A corrugated metal roof and a modern take on a lean to are clever touches, and help to create a dialogue between the house and the farm buildings and sheds native to the area. Openings in the building’s shell are perfectly in tune with the surroundings, and connect the house with magnificent views of Loch Dunvegan, the Western Isles and the jagged outline of the Cuillin mountain range. If we need a reminder about keeping it simple, this is most definitely it.  (Pictures: Rural Design)

11 September 2011


I'm having a bit of a love affair with all things House of Harlow at the moment, aka Nicole Richie's jewellery label. Everything has a bohemian / hippy vibe and is just so goddamn pretty! And although it's not thee most expensive of designer ranges, it's still a bit on the pricey side for me. So, I was pretty chuffed to find these shameless rip-offs in Primark the other day, retailing for a mere two bucks! As you can see from the pictures, there is very little difference between the two - even the pattern is virtually identical. I don't think La Richie will be very impressed though! I've also recently bought an eBay version of the HoH Black Resin necklace for a tenner, which I impatiently waited for all week only to leave it at my sister's house over the weekend - what an idiot! 

7 September 2011

(E X T R A) O R D I N A R Y

Old paintwork. Rusty, flaking metal. Trodden on chewing gum. Wherever I’m describing it sounds like a dive, right? Most probably, that’s exactly what it was, the sort of place you wouldn’t look twice at, or would hurry through to get home. For American artist Ingrid Calame however, these banal spaces and all their blemishes tell an important story – one which she brings to life in spectacular fashion in her first solo exhibition in Scotland at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh. Using every scratch, scrape and smudge as the foundations for her drawings, Calame’s intricate tracings provides a visual commentary on a fleeting moment in time, like an abstract photograph that will never be captured again. Her art is the product of a meticulous, almost forensic, mapping process of the physical environment and is enriched by the vibrant colours that detach each piece from its humble beginnings. Downstairs in the gallery, Calame showcases bright, glossy paintings on aluminium that are much more clever than they appear, but it is upstairs that she really excels, revealing a softer side with a delicately constructed chalk masterpiece that is as temporary as the markings she so carefully records.

18 August 2011


So, I know the Edinburgh festival's great and everything, but I'm afraid I have switched my allegience to Glasgow for the next couple of weeks. The reason why? Two words - Brad Pitt. Yep, that lovely hunk of man (complete with Ange + brood) is in town for the next wee while, filming the apocalyptic zombie flick Word War Z. It's set in Philadelphia - which Glasgow is (allegedly) just the spit of - which is why the city is being dolled up American stylee. Dubious ain't the word! It goes without saying that my mission will be to clock the man himself, although - as I have bad luck with that sort of thing - I've decided I would settle for Ange and/or a zombie. These are some pictures I took around the set, which show just how well Glasgow scrubs up! 

11 August 2011


I'm always the first person to get irritated around Easter time, when Daybreak presenters and the trash magazines start saying things like 'egg-cellent', 'eggs-citing and 'eggs-actly', but OMG I have to say it - this light cracks me up! Please indulge me. The fact that it's called an Omlamp just seals the deal.

10 August 2011


 Check out this lovely design collection from Dutch designer Tord Boontje - it has a bit of a Native American / tribal look about it, so very on trend! The collection - which has been made for Italian manufacturer Moroso - is made from plywood and is punctuated with cross stitch detailing. Who knew embroidery and furniture would go so well together?

9 August 2011


Well the Edinburgh festival is finally upon us! I only picked up all the brochures and other paraphernalia on Saturday so I'm a little behind the times, as per. I do actually feel quite excited this year though. I think being an Edinburgh resident you can sometimes get a little blasé about it all, but this time I'm determined to catch as many things as I can! This is my first spot, Anish Kapoor's rather stunning waxwork masterpiece which is currently residing in the Sculpture Court at my old gaff, ECA.  I do tend to love eveything that Kapoor does, and the way he can fill a space is incredible. I also love the blood-red, fleshy colour scheme that features in the majority of his work, I think it appeals to my inner scream queen!

27 July 2011


A non-violent one, that is!

As some of you may recall, I've wanted to go and visit the new Transport Museum - or Riverside Museum, as it has be renamed - for a while now. Last weekend I finally went and I must say I was pretty impressed, by both the building and it's content. Old Zaha has done it again. Architecturally, the zinc clad shell of the museum nods to Glasgow's shipbuilding heritage, whilst the lofty interior spaces are perfect for hosting original and replica trams, motorbikes, caravans, classic cars and even the infamous 'Clockwork Orange'  Glasgow subway. Not being particularly interested in much of the transport, the highlight for me was the cobbled, recreated 'street' which you could walk through and enter old Victorian hang outs that were once native to Glasgow. This included the local ice cream shop, pub, photography studio, blacksmith and dressmaker, which really set the scene and gave a real sense of context for the transport. It's free too so if anyone is in Glasgow you should check it out - maybe not at the weekend though as it was rammed!

26 July 2011

I T H I N K I ' M D U M B

At university, there has been many an occasion when myself, or some other poor student, has been told that the design of their building is arbitrary. There is no real concept behind the proposal, no big idea driving it, nada, nowt. Just a design that is the way it is, just because. Even now, when I come across that word in a magazine or newspaper -which thankfully isn’t often - I’m taken right back to the good old Crit Days of first year and second year, where success was measured in ten to fifteen minutes of presenting and appraising of the terms project. And if you didn’t have a strong concept or theme backing up every decision you made... then woe betide you. 

So with this knowledge never to design something ‘arbitrary’ instilled in me for life, I always get a wee bit  annoyed when I see architects designing something that would have never got through the shrewd eyes of the university tutors! The design would be torn to shreds, scribbled over, and the designer would no doubt be left a blubbering wreck. Architecture Crits are cruel like that. I’m not trying to say I could do better - I’m just amazed by how silly buildings sometimes gets. And I do love playful architecture, but well, these are something else. The Jenga house in particular, is stunning, but having to sleep on a hard block of wood I draw the line at. Perhaps I just need to lighten up! Would you enjoy living in either of these?? 


12 July 2011


Black, thick rimmed glasses are one of many cliches about architects - we have the Frenchman Le Corbusier to thank for that. These days, even architect Barbie has black specs perched upon her blonde mane!  Here's my version, which are brown. I bought these on a whim a few weeks ago after I'd been for an eye test. The staff somehow managed to convice that I needed new ones - which was true - but I'm normally much more resilient to such sales patter! What can I say, I'm weak. Needless to say, once I got the idea in my head I ended up buying rather expensive ones. But I did get £80 off, so it's all good, right??  

D O T D : S E C O N D N A T U R E

My favourite buildings fall, without fail, into two categories. The most instantaneous of these is striking, quirky architecture - the visual type that’s full of bright colours, weird shapes and cleverly reworked forms and that make you gasp in amazement. I have these moments on design websites all the time, with Will Alsop, OMA, MVRDV, Herzog and De Meuron typically being the guilty parties. I love them all. 

The other type of architecture is near enough the polar opposite: evocative, poetic architecture that is totally stripped back and more to do with the feeling of a space rather than anything it contains. Peter Zumthor is the reigning master of this type of design. It’s not something I’ve really blogged about as yet, as I don’t tend to come across buildings like that too often, and I guess if you’re not into architecture the buildings may not be as accessible, or then again perhaps more so. 

This one that I’ve found is a great example. It’s by an Architect I’ve never heard of, in a place I’ve never been, and at first glance I even couldn’t tell you what it’s used for, but somehow the design and context just fit – like the building has always, or was always supposed to be there. It’s so understated and effortless. It’s supposedly inspired by the notion of a roman road, which I think speaks volumes about the timeless quality the building possesses. It's called 'Museu da Geira Romans' and is by Carvalho Araújo in Gerês, Portugal.