Flat Pack House

Just don’t forget the allen key…

IKEA has just been awarded the Beazley Design of Year for its Better Shelter refugee structure. The award is made by London’s Design Museum.

Better Shelter displayed next to the South Kensington underground station in London

(Image credit: Courtesy Design Museum)


The flat-pack structure is made of lightweight polymer, and has a solar cell that can charge a phone and provide light. Apparently it only takes four to eight hours to assemble (but we know the pitfalls of flat-pack assembly). Better Shelter was designed by the IKEA Foundation.

A quick stroll through Brixton Village

Leftovers is one of the nicest vintage clothes stores ever with a mix of French and American pieces sourced by the lovely owner who has a great eye for detail. The shop was closed for lunch when I passed by the other day but I enjoyed the window display which pays homage to the film ‘Suffragette’ and the period when women in Britain battled for the right to vote. (Leftovers, Unit 71, Fourth Ave., London SW9 8PS)



Another favourite shop is Cornercopia – a veritable cornucopia at the far corner of Brix Vill. They’ve extended their homewares shop where the kitchen used to be and there is much to covet – Marseille soaps, beeswax candles, enamel jugs, linen tea towels, baskets, bowls….

brix vill1

brix vill

(Cornercopia, 65, Brixton Village Market, London SW9 8PS)

Two tone walls

Current obsession painting walls two contrasting colours. It’s a good way to add a bold splash without overwhelming the space and lends depth. The dark painted top section in the image below of a hotel hallway casts a shadow and offsets the industrial features.


The Jersey Ice Cream Company gives this kitchen the two tone treatment
Two tone bedroom


mug shots

So I found these really great vintage coffee cups a couple of years go in a shop in Goldborne Road that sells ‘shabby chic’ painted furniture and a selection of old crockery. The cups – not white, not cream, somewhere in between, and a good size – 3 inches high – not too big but not titchy espresso either. They came with saucers. I bought eight. Now down to one.

Why is it when you have something you like and it breaks or you lose it, finding a replacement becomes such a challenge. I  began a search for new mugs and couldn’t find anything I like until I had a memory jolt back to my childhood.  The coffee cups my mother had when I was growing up were perfectly formed  mid-century speckled stoneware from Dansk, a Danish company very popular in America, but not so well known in the UK. I found the same exact ones on Ebay but postage and custom charges from the US makes the purchase impractical. To my mind these are perfect mid-century designs and I wish they would be re-issued.

dansk mugs


dansk 70s

Fall palette

fall6As an American, it just feels more natural saying ‘Fall’ instead of ‘Autumn’. Fall is about riotously coloured leaves dropping from trees covering the ground in  a crazy confetti carpet. Leaves to be kicked through as you walk. Scrunched and tossed. Something I have never stopped doing since childhood.

Autumn sounds more formal, suggesting melancholy mists and greyness which is the typical English state of affairs, meteorologically speaking.

But then are days in England when the sky is a luminous blue and the changing leaves look brilliant against the light. These are days to savour. A walk through my neighbourhood this week lifted spirits.




The local greengrocer in Herne Hill must have been inspired by the selection of autumn vegetables now abundant – squashes, pumpkins, multi hued carrots and rainbow chard  – which he displayed beautifully.



Time for soups and stews and other warming  dishes. Tonight it’s roasted butternut squash soup.

Take inspiration from the colours of fall when decorating your house..Dark green walls seem to a  thing  as spotted recently on  Toast and Apartment Therapy (below) – warmed up with accents of russet and gold.

toast lookbook



Does this really make me a psychopath?


Last week I read a rather unsettling piece on the BBC website about a study conducted somewhere in Canada or the US that seemed to say that people who drink black coffee and like radishes are psychopaths or have psychopathic tendencies. Since I can attest to downing my morning brew without milk and love the peppery bitterness of radishes, should I worry about some latent crazy killer thing in me? I wonder how the survey framed their questions – maybe something like this:

  1. How do you like your coffee? a. double shot espresso down in one b. frothy cappuccino c. caramel hazelnut latte
  2. If you had a choice of foods which would you pick? a.crisp salad of radishes b.packet of crisps c. Krispy Kreme donut

If you answer mostly ayou are a psychopath. Hmmmm.

There was a time when I could not function properly in the morning until I had a takeaway cappuccino with a dense frothy foam (no chocolate). And it had to be out of a cardboard container with a plastic top. The adult equivalent of the sucky cups toddlers drink from.

I reverted back to making filter coffee awhile back because my cappu habit was getting out of hand (it got to the point I was pre-ordering from my favourite cafes to do a drive by coffee collection). But did you know filter is totally where it’s at these days? Monmouth Coffee’s tastings are made the filter way. Pennethorne in Somerset House has special coffee sessions at their ‘brew bar’ where a row of crystalline filter cones are suspended on thin metal rods above clear glass pots.

monmouth coffee


I recently bought one of those crystalline coffee filter cones from the Japanese company Hario which sells everything you need to make the perfect brew. Timing, temperature and exact measurements are key. However, my approach has always been more random and while some days I make a really good cup of coffee there are other days when I don’t quite get it right (too bitter, too weak). But hey, it is only coffee and nothing to go crazy about.