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Guest blogger Sophie Conran on spring bulbs and her new cutlery range 9 March, 2010

Posted by sophieconran in mydeco guest blogger.
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Hello, I am Sophie Conran, home body and mum of two gorgeous kids. Over the next four weeks, I am going to be writing a blog and I really hope you can join me!

Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

I write for two fabulous magazines: Junior, for whom I have been doing the yummy food pages for about 3 years, and more recently House Beautiful, which is really great fun – check out the current issue for some special Mother’s Day ideas.

One simple gift idea is to group together a collection of white vases and jugs and fill them with irises and daffodils – the bulbs are really easy to plant and the colours look stunning. For something more subtle, try filling them with white narcissus and hydrangeas. Have a look at Candida’s blog on my spring bulb workshop for more tips and inspiration.

As well as writing, I also work with a number of businesses as a designer. I have created a range of tableware with Portmeirion, some wonderful wallpaper with Arthouse and a range of elegant cutlery with Arthur Price, soon to be launched at John Lewis:

Image credit: Sophie Conran

I’ve been working closely with Tony and Simon for the past few months and am really excited about the launch.

Next week, I will be talking about my countryside retreats, so watch this space!

Exclusive: Celebrate Mother’s Day with Sophie Conran’s best bulb tips 9 March, 2010

Posted by CandidaB in Candida's blog.
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Image credit: Candida Balfour

To herald the arrival of Spring,  and prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day, myself and a handful of keen florists joined Sophie Conran at the Clifton Nurseries for a crash course in using bulbs, courtesy of The Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Centre.

Image credit: Candida Balfour

Having the least green fingers of anyone I know, I was dreading falling behind at the first hurdle. Luckily, Sophie was the perfect teacher, and for once I saw gardening and planting bulbs not as rocket science, but as a hobby I could really see myself getting into… Aided, I am sure, by miniature Hummingbird cupcakes and champagne before midday.

Image credit: Candida Balfour

The ideas Sophie presented were pretty much foolproof: take some bulbs, untangle the roots, plant them in soil or gravel in your container of choice and watch them bloom.

If you are using a transparent container, gravel is a great alternative to soil. I for one had no idea that bulbs could grow without soil, but apparently they do just as well in gravel.

If you are using a basket or china pot (my favourite suggestions were a souffle dish or tea cup – a wellington boot was even proposed) normal potting soil will do.

Sophie’s top tips: use the firmest bulbs, cover soil with moss for a stunning final touch, and use old tea bags or gravel to keep moisture in.

The end results were very encouraging. My irises, surrounding a centrepiece of white tulips, bloomed just as they should have, surrounded by green, bouncy moss.

I can now officially garden!

Image credit: Candida Balfour

Sick of rain, doom and gloom? 22 January, 2010

Posted by CandidaB in Candida's blog.
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So are we.

But just because you’ve had too much of this…

Image credit: Shutterstock

…doesn’t mean you have to be down in the dumps. When it’s cold and wet outside, there is no better time to perk up your home and infuse it with luxurious quilts and lifting colours.

Snuggle up and get cosy, with warming lavender and scented candles:

Image Credit: Lombok

Or get ready for Spring with bright fuchsia and bold patterns:

Image credit: Graham and Brown

Whichever you go for, spoil yourself rotten, and the sun will be out before you know it.

mydeco gets a preview of Ben De Lisi’s new collection 21 January, 2010

Posted by katiehodgkiss in Interviews.
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Nothing lures the mydeco team out of the office like canapés and freebies – especially when they’re provided by one of our favourite designers. On Wednesday, Ellie and I headed to St Martins Lane hotel for the launch of Ben de Lisi’s range for Principles, which will appear exclusively in Debenhams stores at the beginning of February.

Ben’s home collections have always been a big hit amongst mydeco users, so we were excited to see what he had come up with in his first capsule range of women’s daywear.

Image credit: Debenhams

The clothes, like the event were fairly low-key: simple shifts, prim trench coats and Capri pants provided an urban counterpart to jersey beachwear and teeny-weeny bikinis. Whilst the designer’s signature post box shade of red was still present, it was reserved largely for accessories and hemlines so that nautical blue and white could take centre stage.

Ben described the range as a ‘cohesive, pure collection of clothes that are no-nonsense: not particularly fashion forward, just beautiful designs that people will love to wear.’

Image credit: Debenhams

Unfortunately there were no items from his home collection on display, but when we caught up with Ben after the show he assured us that many of the same themes applied: ‘It’s a very sharp, contemporary collection, full of the same clean lines,’ he said.

Well the lines might be the same, but the colours are much brighter and bolder. Abstract prints adorn cushions and rugs in zesty shades of green, yellow and red, whilst Ella the dog’s legacy lives on in purple. The Principles range may be aimed at women over 40, but these accessories have a fresh, youthful feel that can be enjoyed by De Lisi fans of any age.

Image credit: Debenhams

Being very busy and important, Ben could only chat to us for a few minutes at the launch, but we still managed to get the answer to that all important question…what did his beloved bulldogs get for Christmas?

‘Cable knit sweaters,’ he grinned. In red, naturally.

What do you think of Ben’s new designs? Leave your comment and let us know your thoughts!

Spring trend watch – Lascivious Lolita 18 January, 2010

Posted by katiehodgkiss in Uncategorized.
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In today’s culture, youth reigns supreme (unless you’re a graduate looking for a job, in which case you’re bottom of the food-chain). Nowhere is the obsession with juvenescence more evident than in fashion – these days it seems models are plucked straight from the womb and then sent tottering down the catwalk.

This Spring, designers have taken their preoccupation with youth a step further – appointing as their muse Nabokov’s infamous nymphet: Lolita. Whilst sweet lace sundresses and gingham two-pieces featured at Chanel and Moschino Cheap and Chic, Prada embraced plastic sunglasses and cherry-red lips.

Image credit: Korcula / A Glimpse of Glamour

The interiors market is always hot on the high-heels of fashion, so it is inevitable that the Lolita trend will be appearing in home stores in the near future as well. Judging by what’s appeared on the catwalk, we can expect kitsch fifties accessories, delicate vintage fabrics and lots of (deep breath) gingham.

Though this trend may be problematic in its origins, the 2010 interpretation of Lolita seems to be more about having fun than sexualising young girls. Last year’s muted palettes reflected the sombre mood of a nation still coming to grips with the recession: this spring designers have reverted to youthful optimism.

Image credit: Lifestylebazaar

Should you choose to embrace this trend, there are various ways to go. If the thought of pastel checks makes you shudder, look instead for pieces that combine girlish innocence with a bit of added raunch, like this teapot (£69.95) from Undergrowth at Lifestylebazaar.

What do you think of the Lolita look? Love it or loathe it, we want to know your thoughts!