Antiques - London to L.A.

If you’re looking for antiques in London, don’t miss Alfies Antique Market - a large, bustling indoor emporium, housed in an art deco style building in trendy Marylebone - where over 100 antiques dealers display their wares, including furniture, art, vintage clothing, glass, ceramics and jewellery.

Alfies, named in Wallpaper magazine as one of the best shopping destinations in London, with fans including Stella McCartney, Jean Paul Gaultier and Keira Knightley, has been trading since 1976.

For the first time in its 40 years of trading, this year Alfies will be exhibiting at the Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair at Battersea, at the autumn edition taking place on Tuesday 27 September to Sunday 2 October.

Christopher Hall at Alfies 

If you’re in town, visit Alfies at 13-25 Church Street, Marylebone, London, NW8 8DT. You’re bound to find something intriguing!

If you can't make it into London for that special, collectable find, don't despair, visit Paddle8, the online auction house which holds monthly themed auctions. Paddle8 is a convenient market place for collectors seeking extraordinary art and objects, including artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Sol Lewitt and Pablo Picasso.

Ceramic plate: PABLO PICASSO
Vase au bouquet, 1956
Lot Number 27 

For my readers across the pond, looking for that special something closer to home, or visitors to the USA, look no further than for the Top U.S. Towns for Summer Antiquing.  Alternatively, download Invaluable's app for iPhone or iPad and stay up to date on sales, wherever you are in the world!

Elvis fans may be lucky enough to purchase some Elvis Presley memorabilia including a pair of boots he wore, his guitar case or a signed photo such as this...

Lot 13, 1955 Elvis Presley signed early promotional photo, The Auction at Graceland (August 13)
7 Rockin' Objects Owned by Elvis Presley

How to Use and Make Art Affordable, Accessible and Fun

Art plays a huge role in making a home feel personal. My clients will often have their own art displayed when I first meet them and what I see hanging on the walls is an interesting, sometimes fascinating, window into their tastes, especially their colour and design preferences. 

Irene Jones' quirky acrylic character ‘Celeste Catro' by Hybrid. 17x17cm, £600.

Where to Find Art That's Affordable

If you're searching for original art, I highly recommend the Affordable Art Fair coming up in Bristol from 9 – 11 September and London's Battersea from 20 – 23 October. 

The Affordable Art Fair has revolutionised and democratised the art market with its accessible approach, bringing art as low as £50 to its three UK locations: Battersea Park, Hampstead Heath, and Bristol. It’s become a global phenomenon with 15 fairs in 11 cities across several continents.

Hundreds of emerging and established artists from across the globe will exhibit their work and this gives visitors the opportunity to view art that may not normally be so easily accessible and the chance to start building a collection of art through the Own Art scheme. This is an interest-free scheme which helps art enthusiasts invest and step onto the ‘art ladder’.

Jann Hanworth's Donut-inspired works will be at the fair in September 2016.  Jann worked with Sir Peter Blake on the Beatles' Sergeant Pepper album cover, and was part of the British Pop-Art movement.  Jann says donuts have become her new inspiration!

Why Invest in Art?

“Art represents something different to everybody, it’s a complete expression of ourselves and can provide an escape from our everyday stresses. For a lot of people, it makes a house a home. So when choosing a piece of art, the most important thing is to find something that you want to live with. It may be a significant purchase, but you’re going to spend years looking at and enjoying it, and so my advice is to buy what you love and what excites you,” advises Lucy Noel, Affordable Art Fair Hampstead Fair Director.

The beginnings of your collection can be really exciting and you don’t need to be an expert to take the plunge. Becoming a collector requires investment and patience, and over time your taste will develop and change. Learning more about the art world at the fair provides the perfect opportunity to pick the brains of the gallerists about the next big thing. Browse the vast variety of art on offer to discover what resonates with you, art should be an emotional experience - buy what you love and what you want to live with today and every day.”

Jane Ormes' 'Here's an Owl that can Scowl', Rostra Gallery, 30x28cm, £75.

“Buying art is a fun and emotionally rewarding experience and no matter whether your taste runs to street art or more traditional painting and sculpture, you will find a piece that will stay with you forever, the key is to buy art that you love," says Sam Gare, Affordable Art Fair Director for Bristol.

Sam's Top Tips on Displaying Art in the Home:

"When buying art, the chances are the work would have been displayed on a white wall, but in fact a coloured background can be just what it needs. If you have the luxury of decorating your room around your artwork you can choose a colour from within the piece for your walls.

If you don’t fancy decorating your whole room why not think about creating a feature wall for your artwork. This with not only create a statement with your decor it will also help your work to stand out and be admired.”

Alicia Savage's perfectly pink photographic print. Arusha Gallery.  Edition of 5, 50 x 76cm.

Italian Delights in St Albans

Have you ever wished you could find a fantastic Italian restaurant that wasn't part of a restaurant chain?  With fresh food and an enthusiastic chef?  Look no further as at Per Tutti in St Albans, Hertfordshire, the food is fresh and delicious, and, of course, the decor is top notch!

Just a short stroll down Holywell Hill, before St Albans Cathedral, Per Tutti is one of a kind.  I was lucky enough to be asked to design the restaurant, which used to be an Indian and needed a huge renovation.  

The unusual shape of the traditional building set a few challenges, but it also helped to create interesting spaces for creativity...

Design by Bright Space Design

A wine display blackboard has proved very popular, and a little nook creates a great place for a wine rack...

Love the panelling installation and the original brick walls which were discovered under many layers of false panels and decorating over many previous years...

Some unusual chairs were added (just about visible around the round table on the right)...

And some wire chairs at the table with the best view.  This beautiful light fitting (and another one installed which is not visible here) is made from recycled cardboard...

If you fancy dreaming of Italy while you eat, then this stunning wall mural of Venice will help you drift away...

 The zinc topped table was a great find...

Welcome to Per Tutti, St Albans, 30 Holywell Hill, St Albans, Hertfordshire...

It's not every day you find such a great place to dine.  If you visit Per Tutti, let us have some feedback in the comments box below - I'd love to hear your views.

Per Tutti, St Albans, street view

For more photos of this and other projects, see our Houzz profile or go to,

Wabi-Sabi - a Perfect Imperfect Beauty

There is a melancholic, unpretentious beauty found in imperfection which is transient, impermanent and authentic.  This beauty embraces the effects of time and humanity - this is wabi-sabi - a Japanese concept illustrated in a tactile new book (released on 5 May 2016) -  Perfect Imperfect with text by design author, Karen McCarney, and images by photographer Sharyn Cairns and New York based stylist, Glen Proebstel.

Contributors to the book include interior designers, artists, a sculptor, an architect and a photographer who pool their creative fancies and embrace beauty in the offbeat, odd and misshapen; weathered items and nature, irregularity, the unfinished and incomplete, the effects of accident, tranquility, calmness, shadows and womb-like murky colours, contrasts and simplicity with Leonard Koren’s tenet that “Beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness.”

Don’t expect much colour when you pick up this book, or pristine interiors shots which embrace expected design principles. You may even find some of the images messily disturbing if you are a neat, symmetrical kind of being: especially on page 035 showing the “assemblage of books” on Nectar Efkarpidis’ living room floor, acting as a coffee table. The book’s smooth, matt pages feature interiors settings and close-up shots depicting an unconventional, disquieting charm - and that is where the fascination lies.

The wabi-sabi Perfect Imperfect philosophy is like the antidote to ‘designed’ spaces: it is where art and design come from happy accidents, intuition and originality. It is a step further than originality, an embracing of the human aesthetic in us all.  

Images courtesy of Murdoch Books

Does The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Work?

As an interior designer, I have seen inside many homes - and it's not always pretty.  

Conversely, that's the reason I am called in to  help.  Most people have far too many possessions: clothes, books, ornaments, utensils, records, CDs, toys - "stuff" - and it's often not an easy task asking them to pare it down, or throw things out, so that the interior refurbishment can begin.  Adding more storage only exacerbates the problem - frequently it's not that we need more storage, it's that we just need less stuff.

Recently I've had the bright idea to recommend to my clients The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, an interesting book by tidying guru, Marie Kondo, who wants to organise the world and promises not just a tidy home but a transformation of your life!  Naturally, I've tried out the method myself first, to see if it actually works, and I have had clients who have tried it too.  

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, Marie Kondo, Vermilion, London

So, will the Japanese sensation which has sold 1.5 million copies, work?  Does it actually change your life?
The KonMari method promises to transform your life

Kondo is methodical and asks you to work through your home, one category at a time.   Visualise your destination, ask your possessions if they "spark joy" and create a dialogue with yourself, she says.  Kondo teaches us how to fold using her own method, and lists the stages to follow clearly.  The book is easy and quick to read, with an infectious lightness and positivity.

However, be warned.  Kondo does not recommend you throw out one thing at a time, but insists that you discard items within each category all at once.  It's a great ideology but if you end up with a mountain of 73 tops on your bed - make sure you have time to complete the discarding process that day.  Time is definitely a crucial factor to ensure the KonMari method succeeds.

What a Rhombus!

Geometric, monochrome patterns are bold and striking.  Adding some geometric patterns to an interior design can give a room real punch, and can work beautifully teamed with colour too.

I love this heavenly soft jacquard, reversible knit throw by Ferm Living, made with 100% cotton, available from Cloudberry Living.

The visual statement this rhombus porcelain mosaic floor makes is quite something!  Mosaic sheets lodge together to form a stepped cube effect which has been used for centuries in period homes, but looks just as gorgeous in a contemporary scheme.  

Especially effective if you need a wow factor for a small space...

Detail of Fired Earth Rhombus Tiles