Thursday, July 31, 2008

My 25yr love affair with Laura Ashley...

If there's one design label that will forever remain close to my heart it's Laura Ashley. I grew up in a home filled with LA wallpaper, curtains and accessories from a very young age. My mum is definately the person responsible for my strong affection for feminine fabrics and romantic furniture. Just like my daughter, I slept in a white iron bed and had lots of pretty pillows.

Here is a brief run down of the history of Laura Ashley -

Laura and Bernard Ashley started printing fabric on their kitchen table in London in 1953. Laura was inspired to make her own patchwork quilts, but couldn’t find any suitable fabrics in the shops, so the young enterprising couple decided to try producing their own.
A £10 investment in wood for a screen, dyes and some linen, along with many trips to libraries to learn everything about fabric printing, kick started their fledgling attempts.

Following their early experiments, Ashley Mountney Ltd was born, joining Laura’s maiden name with their married name, but soon it was decided that the name of the company should be changed to Laura Ashley, to reflect better the products they were making.

Laura’s love of all things Victorian led to the long length silhouette and feminine styles which would become the company’s trademark and was right on trend at the end of the 1960’s.

By 1975 the company had grown faster than anyone could have predicted - turnover had increased to £5 million per year, and the company now employed 1,000 people worldwide.

Tragedy struck however in 1985, when Laura died as a result of a fall down some stairs while visiting her children. The business felt her loss profoundly, but her strong values and design ethos remain with the company.

Under the leadership of the current Chief Executive Lillian Tan, the company has returned to profitability, posting profits of £12 million for the year 2006/2007. In April 2007 the company launched its first range of organic cotton fashion - the Archive Collection, based on Laura Ashley styles and prints from the 1960’s and 70’s. 2007 has also seen the company receive the House and Garden award for Design Retailer of the Year, voted for by the magazine’s readers, which acknowledges a retailer who has provided the best shopping experience in the past 18 months, both through the products sold, and the way they are displayed. This is a huge honour for the company, and reflects the progress made in recent years.

(information courtesy of Laura

While in my reminiscing phase this week I wandered over to the LA British website for a peek and to much excitement I found their newest catalogue.

LA is the kind of store that I could seriously walk into and purchase items to furnish my whole house, as well as buy outfits to wear in it.

They cater to most design tastes including traditional, provincial, mid century modern, contemporary, coastal as well as plenty for the kids.

I needed a napkin (preferably one of Shawn's or Judy's monogrammed beauties lol) to wipe the drool from perusing this heavenly collection.

I just had to pick a few or 20 pics to show you some of my favourites lol ;)

I LOVED this image of these rich brown leather chairs styled with the maps and globes as well as the beautiful duck egg wallpaper in the background.

The Padstow is the exact style of couch I'm shopping for at the moment however I'd like to have mine covered in unbleached linen. I love it's smaller round arms, high flat back and bottom pleats.

When it comes to my favourite colour - duck egg - Laura Ashley caters in ABUNDANCE.

Upholstry fabric, curtain fabric, ready made curtains, pillows, rugs, towels even prints. And it's the perfect shade, absolutely stunning.

Look at this incredible tufted duck egg sofa! Very British in style and ever so elegant. I have an old two seater tufted sofa a little similar (without the high legs) stored in the garage, passed down from my GP's. I would LOVE to have it covered in this magnificant fabric and in my new room, place it at the foot of my bed.

I am totally smitten with the DE bedspread, the DE floral fabric on the chaise, the DE lampshade and the mirrored bedside - LOVE!!

Again more DE perfection!

The coastal feel of this seagull parisian blue wallpaper is so appealing. It would look so great in a boys bedroom.

More coastal loveliness

This buffet reminds me of an old Parker mid century modern piece we have at the lake house. That French blue wall is the colour I want to paint my kitchen.

LA also make surperb unique provincial furniture.

Awww this forest friends bedding set for little princesses is too die for :)

I also love this bed. Have it covered in what ever fabric you like. I think this bold print works well with the simple elegant provincial bed. I can see Sophie wanting this bed in 7 years time - or perhaps me wanting it for Soph lol ;)

^^That bed with this venetain style mirroed armoire - Divine!

LA stock a dazzling array of curtain fabrics and ready made curtains including these sumptuous silks - Heaven!

And blissfully beautiful lace.

Exquisite chandeliers!

And now finally lets talk accessories!

very pretty storage boxes

cute and kitsch kitchenware

Wonderful white for indoors or out
I LOVE the vintage inspired floral prints.

And of course there are perfumes, in the sweetest little bottles!

Tassels and Trims

And lastly sparkly hardware.

Phew! That was a great shopping trip. Thank you for coming along with me :)

Now that I have exhausted every word for the meaning of beautiful in the oxford dictionary I'm sure you get the sense of my affinity for this designer. Cappuccino's and cupcakes anyone? ;)

To view 308 pages of supreme pleasure click here!

A special evening...

I wanted to quickly tell you about my evening on wednesday. My gorgeous friend Jeanette and I trotted off to a new products launch at Domayne furniture. With champagne, canapes and a talk from Belle magazines editor Cerentha Harris and editor-in-chief Neale Whitaker, I was excited!

I was even more excited when they spoke about the latest design trends from the Milan furniture fair. 1940's Hollywood glamour is the look of the season. Black leather, gold, tuft, organic and lots of bling. Fabulous! Just my style :)

My excitement however soon turned to total embarrassment when my friend jumped up after the talk and thrust me into an unexpected conversation with Mr Whitaker. I was literally shaking with nerves, I felt so inadequate, inarticulate and uneducated. We spoke about the power of design blogs, my love of tufted furniture and my studies. I remember him asking me who my tutor is and I completely forgot his name (which I know well!)lol. Sorry Simon lol. Looks like I'm going to have to deal with a little anxiety issue.
Anyway the evening was very informative and I overall had a great time. Thank you Jeanette for the invitation. We absolutely have to do more of these kinds of things :)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

My Sydney Town

My dad in his "more mature years of life" has developed quite a passion for photography. This past weekend he and a bus load of budding photographers headed to our beautiful harbour foreshore on a field trip to play around with their expensive equipment and capture the best light and colours our stunning part of the earth has to offer. I'm completely clueless when it comes to Photography terminology however I was absolutely floored at the beauty my father captured in these images. The first lot of photos were taken at an area called The Rocks. The Rocks is the site of Australia’s first European settlement in 1788 and still remains today one of Sydney siders favourite historic spots for dining, shopping, arts and culture.
A beautiful cobblestone street and sandstone wall built by convicts from the original colony.
Under the harbour bridge. Awww LOVE that scrolly lamp post.
This photo was taken on the side of observatory hill overlooking Australia's famous white sails Opera House and one of Sydney's most prestigious and luxurious hotels - The Park Hyatt.
Construction began for the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1926 and officially opened in 1932. The bridge was built by 1400 workers, 16 of whom were killed in accidents during construction. Before Paul Hogan (from the movie Crocodile Dundee) became famous, he worked on the Sydney Harbour Bridge as a painter.

The architect of Sydney Opera House, Jørn Utzon was a relatively unknown 38 year old Dane until January 29, 1957 when his entry, scheme number 218, was announced winner of the ‘International competition for a national opera house at Bennelong Point, Sydney’. With his vision the City of Sydney was to become an international city.
To read more about this extraordinary man and the facinating story of his magnificent creation click here!

Luna Park is Sydney's oldest and still most popular amusement park.

(All images courtesy of my dad)

I've lived here all my life and I never get tired at looking at this breathtaking view :)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Beautiful Boy...

11 today and just about as tall as me *wipes tear* ;)
William is such an amazing son - so loving, compassionate, competent, articulate, studious, hilarious, focused, obedient (most of the time lol) and sometimes a little cheeky ;)
I wish I could give him the world :)

Oh how I'd LOVE to live here!!

I just about fell off my chair when I saw these bewitching pictures by Miki Duisterhof of this utterly exquisite home via Marge Casey & Associates and Desire to Inspire.

That dining room is flawless! Can you imagine long leisurely dinner parties under dim lights and flickering candlelight reflecting through the mirrored armoire? And how about that outdoor garden party? LOVE IT!

How could you not feel like Marie Antoinette living amongst all those divine French pieces and sumptuous fabrics?

I swear I was born in the wrong country and the wrong era ;)