Behind the scenes at Out There Interiors

Jenny, and her partner Mark, are the force behind Out There Interiorsa very successful furniture company. They set the company up from scratch and it continues to grow each year. I wanted to get an insight into starting a business and what goes into sourcing furniture (I wish I could do that for a living!). Jenny explains all:

“There were two reasons for wanting my own business. The first was that five years ago I was trying to make it as an actress, and I couldn’t cope with the mindless work I had to do to make ends meet in between auditions and acting roles. I used to work in Harrods’ cosmetics department and would spend the excruciatingly long days scribbling down business ideas in the hope of escaping the misery. The second reason is that I’ve always hated having a boss. Regardless of how pleasant my superior,   I really detest having to answer to someone. Since Out There Interiors I answer only to myself, although I’m a massive slave driver so it doesn’t exactly play to my favour.”

Out there interiors retro furniture

Mid-century console table ‘Laina’

“I launched Out There Interiors completely by accident.  Whilst at Harrods I set up a small giftware company and was invited to attend a trade show by one of my suppliers. Whilst wandering around the NEC I stumbled across a mirrored chest of drawers I’d recently bought for my bedroom.   Realising there was money to be made I opened an account with the company and bought five.  The rest is history.”

Hanging factory lamp ‘Mavra’

“Purchasing for Out There Interiors is without question the best bit of the job.  I love discovering covetable home decor and filling the website with interesting, colourful things.  Many retailers focus on only one style of furniture but I didn’t want Out There Interiors to be limited in this way. My own taste is not limited. For example, my favourite furniture style is mid-century/retro, but I also love vintage French furniture and colourful contemporary stuff.   It’s a one-stop-shop.”

Out there interiors retro furniture

Fifties style dining chair “Wilma”

“We have a huge mixture of products on www.outthereinteriors.com, from hooks and handles to huge French armoires and life-size model cows.  Some products we purchase from UK wholesalers and others we import directly from the Far East. We spend a lot of time ensuring the factories we use are treating their staff well and producing quality goods.  Far Eastern travel is a definite perk of running a furniture company.”

Bathroom cabinet ‘Kaia’

My favourite Out There Interiors picks:

Out There Interiors not only sells new and reproduction furniture but also sources genuine vintage and antique finds…

Out there interiors vintage furniture

Antique ceramic baby bath. This would make an amazing planter.

Out there interiors vintage furniture

Enamel coffee pot.

Out there interiors vintage furniture

An original 1920’s French stove.

Pale and interesting

The first thing I want to ask about the house I am featuring today is: Why is it not mine? No, seriously, why?

This Victorian terraced house is in Brixton, South West London, and it is used for photoshoots and filming. I love so much about this house: the colour palette, the interesting furniture, the period features and the simplicity of it all. If I lived here I would want to inject a bit more personality and, of course, there would be more ‘stuff’. However, what I think the owners have achieved is to show that neutral does not have to be boring, if you follow a few rules…

Pastel interior of London Victorian terrace

The house has stripped and painted floorboards throughout, which creates a fresh, clean feel. It also means the neutral blue palette used in this room stands out. By painting the chairs a different tone of blue adds a layer of interest and colour. The blue is also picked up in the antique Burleigh platters and the ticking stripe of the armchairs. None of these pieces are ‘matching’ so even though they are the same colour it does not look generic. This is an important rule in my book: don’t ‘match’ but combine pieces from different periods and eras with a similar colour palette. This way your colour scheme can remain neutral, yet it becomes interesting.

Pastel interior of London Victorian terrace

By making the most of all the period features in this home they have retained a lot of character even though they have minimal furniture and belongings.

Pastel interior of London Victorian terrace

They have used a different tone of blue/green in another reception room, which adds interest even though it is still very neutral. Another trick for adding character to such a simple interior is by personalising furniture and not buying generic pieces. For example, this sofa has different coloured seat cushions with a variety of scatter cushions, none matching but all sticking with a subtle colour scheme. They tie in with a customised lamp.

Pastel interior of London Victorian terrace

These colourless antique apothecary bottles stand out in such a simple room and add character as they are unique pieces. A mass produced vase in this room would make no such statement.

Pastel interior of London Victorian terrace

This chair has been chosen carefully; if it were brand new and perfectly upholstered it would look bland against the neutral wall colour.

Pastel interior of London Victorian terrace

This piano and chair strike a contrast against the white, blues and greens. A few statements like this add a focus to a room, which is needed when using such a simple scheme otherwise there is nothing to provoke curiosity.

Pastel interior of London Victorian terrace

Painting the wood-work the same colour as the walls creates an unusual effect.

Pastel interior of London Victorian terrace

In this room they have made the lovely bay window and fireplace the focus by keeping everything else neutral. However, the mat and baskets add contrast to the stark white so it does not become too dull. Although, if it were my house, I would definitely want some artwork up on those walls and more personal touches.

Pastel interior of London Victorian terrace

Accessories, like the mirror, lamp, jugs and tray, added to this room are all white but they are different shapes, sizes and textures so they add interest.

Pastel interior of London Victorian terrace

A hint of the colours used in the other reception rooms.

Pastel interior of London Victorian terrace

This Ercol sofa is very simple and plain but by adding a blanket and mis-matched cushions it softens the stark white of the walls and floor.

Pastel interior of London Victorian terrace

The kitchen builds on the colours used elsewhere in the house and the hard, clean lines are softened by using open-shelving and warm wood.

Pastel interior of London Victorian terrace

Pastel interior of London Victorian terrace

Although sparse, every piece of furniture and accessory they have chosen to use is from a different era so it does not look boring.

Pastel interior of London Victorian terrace

Here the fireplace, alcoves, window and dimensions of this period house can speak for themselves, rather than colour.

Pastel interior of London Victorian terrace

Again, they have chosen an old sofa and covered it themselves so it adds charm to this bright, white room.

Pastel interior of London Victorian terrace

Such a pretty fireplace and carefully chosen ornaments are the focal point here against the neutral colour scheme.

 

What do you think? White and boring or pale and interesting? I think the neutral, minimal style has allowed beautiful period features and lovely furniture speak for themselves. I’m totally jealous.

 

Photographs courtesy of Shoot Factory.

 

 

Sunday at Columbia Road

On the first sunny day of the year we decided to take ourselves off to Columbia Road Flower Market. I absolutely love it here as there is so much to see and be inpsired by: flowers, plants, vintage shops, food stalls. This is a great place to pick up a unique knick knack or two for your home and of course beautiful flowers that will make any room look better. Take a peek…

Columbia Road flower market

Columbia Road flower market

Tips for flower shopping:

1. If you need specific flowers for a specific occasion make sure you turn up early! The market opens at 8-3pm.

2. Pick your own flowers rather than letting the stall holder do it for you. This way you can choose the freshest looking flowers.

3. Don’t be afraid to pick up different flowers to see whether they work together.

4. Ask the stall holders questions about the flowers and plants as they have so much knowledge e.g. find out how long particular flowers will last.

5. Barter! The stall holders totally expect it.

Columbia Road flower market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road flower market

Columbia Road flower market

Columbia Road flower market

Columbia Road flower market

Columbia Road flower market

Once you’ve bought your flowers it’s time for a cafe break, surely…

Columbia Road flower market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

And then it’s time for shopping…

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

You can find a list of all the shops on the Columbia Road website. These are a few of my favourites…

Columbia Road flower market

I can not put into words how much I love this shop. It is filled with traditional homewares: www.labourandwait.co.uk

Columbia Road flower market

Vintage Heaven is brimming with vintage finds – right up my street.

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road flower market

Unto This Last is a workshop where they make and sell really unique, bespoke wooden furniture at a reasonable price.

And then home with our bounty…

Columbia Road flower market

Columbia Road Flower Market

Columbia Road flower market

I bought fifty ranunculu stems for £20 and they have lasted for two weeks and brightened my sitting room no end. What a lovely day out in the East End with lovely friends Hannah and Rizo.

What’s your favourite market? x

 

Baking sheet noticeboard

Make a magnetic noticeboard, that’s what.  This little project is so simple and inexpensive, yet really rather satisfying.

You will need:

1. A baking sheet that preferably has no lip (mine has a slight lip on one side only)

2. A piece of fabric that measures 5cm more than the baking sheet all the way around. I used Liberty’s new Pastel Woolf print from the Bloomsbury collectionI love this print as it is a clever mix of modern with a hint of the 50’s.

3. Spray glue. I used display mount.

4. Drill and four screws OR drill and ribbon.

Liberty print noticeboard

Baking sheet and fabric.

Liberty print noticeboard

Display mount spray glue.

Tutorial:

Liberty print noticeboard

1. Spray the front of the baking sheet and the back of the material with the glue. Make sure you hold the glue about 30cm away from both surfaces and do it outside or protect your table with lots of newspaper. Leave it for 20 seconds to become tacky. The glue can get everywhere but the reason I used this type of glue is that it does not mark the fabric and it bonds so quickly, securely and smoothly.

Liberty print noticeboard

2. Smooth the fabric onto the baking sheet.

Liberty print noticeboard

3. Turn the baking sheet over and cut the corners off the material. Spray the back of the baking sheet with glue and then fold the fabric over the sides.

Liberty print noticeboard

4. Don’t worry if your corners are messy, they won’t be seen! If it’s a gift, it might be a nice idea to cut a piece of fabric to stick on the back of the baking sheet to cover the corners.

Liberty print noticeboard

5. Nearly done. Now, to think about how to hang it.

Liberty print noticeboard

6. If you want to hang it with ribbon, drill two holes at the top of the board.

Liberty print noticeboard

7. Thread the ribbon through the holes and then this could hang on a hook or nail.

Liberty print noticeboard

8. If you don’t want to use ribbon, you can just screw it straight into the wall, which is what I did.

Liberty print noticeboard

Ta da!

I made this board for my new Crafty WorkspacePlease try it for yourself and email me pictures of the finished result!

 

Bulbs and bedding plants

What to do when your beautiful spring blooms start fading?

If you have bulbs planted in pots or beds you do not need to leave them empty for the whole of summer; bedding plants are the answer. They are perrenial and need very little root space so they can be planted on top of bulbs.

Wilting daffodils

Wilting daffodils.

Geraniums

Geraniums make perfect bedding plants and are just so friendly looking.

This is what I needed to plant bulbs and bedding plants:

Planting bedding plants

A fairly deep pot and compost.

Secateurs and trowel.

I have decided to try out expand and grow compost. This is basically dehydrated compost that has the volume of 12 litres but when you add water it expands to a volume of 50 litres. This is perfect for balcony gardening as I don’t have room on my balcony or in my flat to store huge bags of compost.

Expandable compost

Fill the pot by one third and then add water until it expands to fill the pot completely.

Bulbs

I then cut off the dead/wilting leaves of my daffodils and hyacinths so I am left with the bulbs.

Planting bulbs

I then position these quite deep into the soil with the bulbs’ roots facing downwards (important!). Then cover the bulbs with about 6 inches of soil as my bedding plants will be planted on top of the bulbs.

Geraniums

I prepare the bedding plants by breaking the polystyrene and removing each plug carefully. Don’t be tempted to pull the plugs out without breaking the polystyrene as this can rip the fragile roots.

Planting geraniums

Prepare a hole in the soil for each plug.

Planting geraniums

Ensure each plug is secure.

Geraniums

A pot that will bloom daffodils in spring and then geraniums in summer.

All done. My bulbs will start to come up mid-winter and bloom in spring and the bedding plants are perennial so they will flower every summer once the bulbs have died back down. Perfect low maintenance pot for my balcony.