Sunday, 23 October 2016

The Old Rectory Kitchen Project by Humphrey Munson

If you read this blog post I wrote a little over a year ago, you'll know I work full time at Humphrey Munson now and this year - similar to last year - has been absolutely amazing. My schedule is full on with early starts and late nights but I absolutely love it all. One of the things I love most about my job is how much variety there is - every day is so different but without a doubt our shoot days are a major highlight.

One of my favourite projects to date (and there are quite a few) was the Old Rectory kitchen project in Suffolk. This amazing Nickleby kitchen was designed by Peter Humphrey - the Design Director and Founder of H|M. I love the cool, calm and collected feel of the space - this for me is the epitome of what we do at H|M: classic English furniture designed for modern family living.



Set in a spectacular six-bed Georgian former rectory, accessed by a private sweeping driveway that leads up to the wisteria-clad entrance, this beautiful family home has historic flagstone floors, delicate plaster mouldings, original oak beams and open fireplaces, all combined with modern conveniences throughout.



The one thing that always strikes me when I walk into our clients' homes is not just the look, but the feel of the spaces. When I walked into the Old Rectory project I was completely blown away by how serene and welcoming the space felt - with hardly any visual clutter the space felt really unfettered and free.



Like the rest of the house, the previous kitchen was very dated and rundown. Originally it was five small rooms, which the homeowners knocked through to create a larger open plan kitchen. The downside of ripping out multiple walls in an old property is that the ceiling can end up at various heights. This was rectified to an extent but we were still left with a lower ceiling section and a chimney breast that cut through the space.



This meant that the immovable chimney breast dictated the overall layout of the kitchen, but Peter decided to work it to our advantage by using the chimney to divide the breakfast area from the rest of the kitchen. There’s a log-burner on the breakfast room side, which makes it lovely and cosy in winter, and a high capacity, top-spec French door Gaggenau fridge-freezer on the kitchen side - you can see this hidden behind Nickleby doors in the image above.



And this is the fridge open - we have this Gaggenau 400 series French door fridge freezer in the Westlock kitchen in our Felsted showroom and it is fantastic - exceptional design and engineering.



As well as dealing with the chimney breast, we also had to incorporate a few other architectural anomalies – for example the breakfast pantry has a very slim shelf at the top because there’s a beam right behind it – but that’s the beauty of bespoke, it’s very easy to accommodate quirks.



I remember when we got the angle for this shot and I was so so happy - I love the light coming through the windows and the warmth from the English pippy oak worktop on the island in the bottom left hand corner of the image.



This prep table was a key element of the design from early on. English country houses in the Georgian era had kitchens largely made up of freestanding furniture and the preparation table played an essential role. Using English Pippy Oak for the worktop of the prep table was the perfect choice to reflect the heritage of the home. Pippy oak has lots of small knots and clusters peppering the surface which really give a feeling of age and depth, while the tall legs provide the look of a table without totally foregoing the convenience of drawers.



This is the drinks pantry - it's located in the breakfast area and provides a space to make hot drinks without cluttering up the worktops and has plenty of storage in the drawers below. 



I love this photograph across the prep table - it's definitely up there with my favourite H|M shots.



I think the key to the success of this project is the perfect blend of heritage and innovation. By embracing the simplicity and symmetry of the Georgian ere and incorporating modern, fully-integrated appliances gives the kitchen a classic English feel with a contemporary edge. Keeping the colour palette simple and clean and using the same colour on the walls also helps ensure the space feels calm and welcoming.

To see more of this amazing project click here.

All images: Darren Chung for Humphrey Munson

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Lauren Caisley Interiors

Hello, how are you?! It's been a while since I've been here so apologies for the absence. Now that September is in full swing, I really feel like it's time to settle down and get back into blogging regularly which I love doing, but have been hopeless at lately, and I have a list as long as my arm of things to share here.

So first of all, I want to share this interview with the lovely Lauren Caisley. We met in January this year through the wonderful world of instagram and then Lauren popped into Humphrey Munson in St. Albans for coffee and since then we've drunk a lot more coffee, been to Paris for Maison, tried lots of lovely places to eat in St. Albans and talked endlessly about work, interiors, life, everything. It's been really fun! Actually, I'm very lucky that as well as my amazing friends I've met in more conventional ways - school, uni, neighbours etc, I have an incredible group of friends all over the world who share my love of the world of interiors. It wasn't so long ago in 2012 when I went to the decor8 workshop at Holly Becker's studio in Hannover, I remember my Mum saying to me "so you're going to Germany to meet some girls you met on the internet who also write blogs?!" And now I think of all the places I've been to visit in the world, and all the inspiring people I've met, just because of this blog and social media and it's absolutely amazing. Anyway, I digress (in the usual manner, but still), so - onto Lauren - she set up her interior design practice in the summer of 2015 and is working on residential and commercial projects in Hertfordshire and London. We did a q&a because I thought that would be the best way to introduce her to you guys and I've added some image snippets that I love from Lauren's insta too so you can see what I mean when I say she's got some serious style...





How did you become an interior designer?

My mum always said that I would sit at the top of the stairs and never want to sleep as a child. She would tell me to redecorate my bedroom in my thoughts to go back to sleep – and it worked! Years passed, I redecorated my bedroom hundreds of times, which then turned into physically decorating it over and over and my passion began. I’m a real home bird – I love making a warm cosy space where you can feel at home. I started to really enjoy the psychology behind inviting interiors and since then I’ve just loved everything to do with interior design. I studied Interior and Spatial Design at Chelsea College of Arts, UAL, followed by a number of years in event management and marketing. I feel that’s where I understand the importance of a great brand with strong depth, and meticulous planning.

What are your top three interior design tips?

Firstly; pick a style or theme which you warm to, don’t feel as though you need to follow the current trend, as it might not be ‘trendy’ in a few years’ time, and the secret to creating an amazing space is to make the design timeless. Secondly, think of the structure and foundations, if you get the walls, floors, hardware and lighting correct then you’re halfway there. If you’re too nervous to use colour on the walls then keep it simple and add personality with interesting flooring such as grey oak in a herringbone pattern or classic vintage tiles in the bathroom. This will add interest which you can then build upon with accessories and styling. Thirdly – focus on space. I always stand in the room and shut my eyes so I can understand the feel of the space. How will you use it, what will you be doing in there? Its' paramount to understand why you will be using the space and how you need it to work for you.






What interiors trend do you wish would go away?

Taupe! OK sure I agree, taupe can be absolutely stunning and it has a strong luxurious look to it plus some great interior designers have built a career on using one colour palette. But I don’t know about you, I feel like it’s time for something new. Luxurious interiors come from the way the space makes you feel, the bed linen used, the use of colour and pattern in accessories and the beauty in simple, timeless, depth created using layered textures and materials.

What’s the biggest mistake people make when redecorating?

For me, lighting is so important. Getting the right lighting and using it correctly can make or break a design. I like to make sure I have every use of light stage possible. For example, spotlights on dimmers plus lamps. Using dimmers means once dark, you can light the space perfectly, automatically creating a luxurious, warm feel. I always use warm white lights instead of blue white lights, its more natural and gives off the glow of candlelight instead of harsh industrial lighting.






What makes for a great client-designer relationship?


Trust, understanding and a natural friendship. Designing someone’s home is a really personal journey, as a designer, I need to understand my clients' lives, what they do with their time, how they live; so I can understand how best to design a space that works for them. A testament to this is that my clients have become great friends, and I now get to watch them on their journey and re-join them to design their next homes as well.

What’s your signature style?

I would say I have a very quintessentially British style. Modern country meets private members club. Darker colours might be ‘hot’ at the moment but I’ve always loved using rich colour and textures to layer a space. My signature style comes from using luxurious natural textures, with a love affair for traditional brass and gold, warm solid woods and traditional wools such as Harris Tweed, tartan or herringbone.





What’s your dream design job?

Something listed of heritage and importance. Growing up in a 16th century cottage, full of bricks and beams, I really enjoy understanding the history behind the building and complimenting the interiors with that. It might be exposing the brick wall while using a lot of glass to create a contemporary use of space or adding a pop of colour to bring in personality and style.

What’s next for LCI?

We had a very busy summer, I’ve just completed two projects which had deadlines 1 week apart and we have two developments on the go. The new website is now live and I feel as a new designer I’m learning every day. It’s been an incredible first year and I’m excited to see what the next one has in store!

You can follow Lauren on insta here and check out her website here.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Canto Corvino, London

A good few years ago when I was working at a hedge fund in London, I used to go to work everyday at our offices on Duke of York Square which is a really lovely pedestrianised area just behind the Saatchi gallery. It was pretty idyllic in terms of London locations - really amazing caf├ęs, really great shops and Partridges had a huge American section where you could get things like Stubbs which is the best bbq sauce in the world. So, all in all, a lovely place to work - AND it was opposite Manicomio's - a pretty little slice of Italian flawlessness with lots of outdoor seating on the terrace and a brilliant deli indoors if you wanted to grab something to take home for supper. The first time I went to Manicomio's was the first time I'd tried wild boar ragu with pappardelle. I will never forget how delicious that bowl of pasta was in all it's simple perfection. There are probably 20 really stand-out meals I've had in my life and that is one of them. 

Over the years I used to go to Manicomio a fair old bit - work drinks, work lunches, celebrating happy news, commiserating sad news, lamenting tedious first-world-problems and just simple things like sitting out on the terrace until the last possible second with my flatmate because our 4th floor flat in Pimlico used to get so unbelievably warm in the dog days of a sweltering London summer.

So I've always had a huge soft spot for Mani's and still go there now and again. In fact if you're reading this and you want to take me out for dinner, take me to Manicomio. OR, take me to Canto Corvino. It's by the same group that own Manicomio in Chelsea (and in the City). I went on Friday night with friends and it is amazing. Properly amazing.



First of all, it looks amazing. It's down Artillery Lane which is also home to places like Ottolenghi and the Breakfast Cafe and it just has this lovely buzzy feel to it. When you walk into Canto Corvino the bar is right in front and the restaurant to the left. The big windows all open onto the street and the window boxes are filled with lush green rosemary.



The Canto bar is quite rightly getting a bit of a reputation for serving up a brilliant mix of original creations as well as innovative takes on the classics. Headed by Junior Donadi, the bar serves an extensive wine list (over 200) that focuses on small producers and indigenous grape varieties from all over Italy. I love the fact there is a story behind the name like there is at Manicomio ('mad house' in Italian because the site was the old asylum for solders). Canto Corvino means 'singing raven' - the ripe grapes have long been an attraction for these gourmet birds who will always be found at the sites of Canto Corvino's wine producers.



We started the night with these spantom gin & tonics - hendricks, tonic, cucumber, cinnamon stick. Brilliant and super refreshing.



The design of Canto Corvino is just my kind of super cool, low-key luxe - everything is finished to an exceptionally high standard and really well considered. It's things like lighting that can really make or break a dining experience and they really got it spot on. The design is by the award-winning B3 Designers - see more of their commercial work here - it's really outstanding.





We didn't eat in the private dining room but we had a quick tour and isn't it the most perfect room for dinner with a large group of friends or family? Love the brick, the map, the candles, the metal wine racks, and just the overall vibe was so spot on.



So, the food. The menu is a masterclass in modern Italian cooking. It's the classic Italian order of play - antipasti - primi - secondi - dolci - but done in a way that is a) fresh b) really interesting and c) super delicious. We loved the lamb ribs which were served with smoked aubergine and sesame. Every single dish we tried packed a punch - the black bream cerviche was sensational.

I had the coastal cod, cannellini, samphire and mussel bagnacauda which the kitchen did as a dairy-free option because I'm allergic to milk. No fuss, no eye rolling, the staff were cool about everything and the perfect mix of attentive but totally in the background.






To take a look at the a la carte menu click here but I'm thinking next time I go it's going to have to be Sunday brunch. I can't think of a more perfect way to spend a Sunday.

Amazing food, amazing wine, amazing service and amazing atmosphere. For me - this is restaurant perfection.

To visit Canto Corvino at 21 Artillery Lane,Spitalfields, London E1 7HA call 0207 655 0390 or visit their reservations page on the website.

All Images: Canto Corvino

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Hancock Park by Studio William Hefner

I don't remember when I first saw it, but I have loved this image of this kitchen / dining area for the longest time. Architecturally and aesthetically it's stunning, but I also really appreciate the composition of this image - to me it's perfectly framed and totally captures the look and feel of the space.

Black frame windows always do it for me because of the way they make the outdoors look like framed pictures and from a styling point of view, opening a door is a great way to convey a level of movement or activity in a super low key way.

I love the seating beside the floor to (almost) ceiling windows - simple but expertly crafted and perfect for this super chic kitchen diner. I think upholstered bench seating designed in this way is perfect for kitchen spaces - it feels more cosy than separate chairs - same reason I love restaurants with booths.



I also love the different textures in the space - lots of natural materials thanks to the dark hardwood flooring and the corner of island unit, but also the marble counter top. While I would personally never have marble in a kitchen - I love this look and it works so well in this space. The overall look and feel of the space is clean, elegant and welcoming. Exactly my cup of tea.

Anyway - back in the room - bottom line is I've seen it on Pinterest so many times and tried to find the source on several occasions but never managed to track it down. So I stopped looking a while ago and yesterday it dropped straight into my lap.

The source is Studio William Hefner and if you're into design you're going to want to visit this website pronto.

For me this is classic American interior design at it's absolute finest. This project is called Hancock Park and is the home of William Hefner and Kazuko Hoshino. Together they design some of the most most spectacularly brilliant homes in and around Los Angeles (he's the principal at Studio William Hefner and she heads the firm's interior design department).



For this 3,800-square-foot house that would become their home, the couple deliberately decided to disregard the resale value and instead embrace everything they loved.

"We didn't want the house to feel too large. The whole idea was not to fill up the lot with house, but to create a living space that takes advantage of the outdoors." To that end, Hefner oriented the rear of the house to the outdoors; French doors open onto a landscaped garden and pool area, with a small poolhouse serving as guest quarters.



I love the low-key relaxed vibe of this sitting room, it's absolutely everything I love about design.

Love maps, love navy, love stripes and love that little reading light. A perfect nook for an afternoon with a pot of tea and a really good book.

To see more of this amazing project, go to Studio William Hefner.

Image credit: Studio William Hefner 


Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Artisan Toast Recipes

If you follow me on instagram you may have seen that one of my favourite things to eat is pretty anything on toast - especially anything on a bagel or toasted sourdough. So I was pretty excited to hear that Dualit have brought out a new toaster designed for artisan breads which has a much longer slot than a normal toaster and is also 36mm wide for things like English muffins. Of course it's also got the unique Dualit peek and pop feature too. So it's ticking all my boxes so far, and then I found out it's also designed especially for toasting bagels because it toasts one side while warming the other. Perfect for my unrelenting obsession with those chewy little bread beauties.

Anyway I was even more excited when Dualit sent over one of their lovely new toasters so I could try out some recipes... take a look below to see the results. I made these for my family which went down a treat but see what you think and if you have a go at any of them let me know how you got on in the comments at the bottom.

WILD MUSHROOM CROSTINI


INGREDIENTS

5 slices of rustic garlic baguette (love this one from Waitrose)
1 glug of rape seed oil / olive oil
1/2 white onion
1 garlic clove
3 large handfuls of wild mushrooms (I love shiitake, chestnut and oyster), cleaned and sliced
4 tbsp parmesan
1 handful of chopped parsley, finely chopped
Maldon seat salt and fresh black pepper
Micro basil to garnish (or use pea shoots as an alternative)

METHOD

1. Slice the bread and start toasting the slices. 
2. Finely chop the onion and garlic and gently fry in a large non-stick frying pan with a glug of oil.
3. After 5 minutes or so add the mushrooms and turn up the heat slightly.
4. Give the mushrooms a good stir and let them catch slightly so that the edges brown.
5. Add the parmesan and take the pan off the heat.
6. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper. 
7. To serve, cut the slices in half and spoon on the mushroom mixture. You can drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil if you want to and sprinkle some micro basil on top of each crostini. 

(If you happen to have some white wine open, it's nice to add a glug once the mushrooms have been added to the pan but it's not essential.)

BEETROOT & GOAT'S CHEESE TOASTS


INGREDIENTS

5 slices of wheat 'n' rye sourdough
200g cooked beets
1 small tub of spreadable goat's cheese
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 garlic clove
Maldon seat salt and fresh black pepper
Micro basil to garnish (or use pea shoots as an alternative)

METHOD

1. Toast the cumin seeds in a small pan over a moderate heat until brown and fragrant. Then crush them in a pestle and mortar along with the garlic clove. 
2. In a small food mixer, add the beets and cumin and garlic and blend quickly - you want to keep a rough-ish texture so one blitz should do it.
3. Season the beet mixture with salt and pepper.
4. Toast the bread slices and then spread with goat's cheese, top with a little of the beet mix and garnish with micro basil or fresh coriander.  

GRAVADLAX BAGELS 


INGREDIENTS

2 white bagels
4 slices gravadlax (either use this brilliant recipe or choose this ready made option)
1 small tub of full fat Philadelphia cream cheese
1/4 red onion, finely sliced
Small handful of dill finely chopped
Maldon seat salt and fresh black pepper
Micro basil to garnish (or use pea shoots as an alternative)

METHOD

1. Toast the bagels  - I used the fantastic bagel setting on the artisan toaster which toasts the inside of the bagel and warms the outside. Total genius. 
2. Spread with Philadelphia and layer the gravadlax on top.
3. Add the sliced red onion, season with salt and pepper and garnish with dill and micro basil.

AVOCADO AND RADISH ON ROSEMARY SOURDOUGH


INGREDIENTS

4 slices of rosemary bread (love this potato and rosemary option)
1 avocado
1 garlic clove
1 lime
4 large radishes, finely sliced
Large handful of coriander, finely chopped
Maldon seat salt and fresh black pepper

METHOD

1. In a bowl mash the avocado with the juice of the lime, salt, pepper and a small sprinkle of coriander. 
2. Toast the sliced bread and while it's toasting peel the garlic and cut in half.
3. Rub the warm slices of the bread with the garlic.
4.  Top each slice with avocado and add the radish slices.
5. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on top if you like.

ASIAN CRAB CROSTINI


INGREDIENTS

5 slices of sourdough bread, sliced
200g white crab meat
2 tbsp of sesame seeds, toasted in a pan
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 lime
1/4 red pepper, finely chopped
1/2 red chilli, finely chopped
Large handful of coriander
Maldon seat salt and fresh black pepper

METHOD

1. In a bowl mix the crab meat with all the ingredients listed above. Season to taste.
2. Toast the sliced bread and top with the crab mixture. 
3. Garnish with fresh coriander. 

I was so impressed with this Dualit toaster - it really toasts every slice so evenly and I loved the warming rack which is so handy when you're doing multiple slices as I was for these recipes. But overall the best feature is the simplest - the fact you can fit a slice of sourdough in lengthways totally made my day as my pet peeve is having to constantly watch the old toaster and then turn around the slices when they started to brown.  

To see more from Dualit click here and if you try any of these recipes out, let me know how you get on in the comments below. 

Monday, 28 March 2016

Salt House Mercantile, Bainbridge Island

This Easter weekend I've been spending time with my family at home in Leicestershire which has been so peaceful and I feel so well rested. As the Easter weekend comes to an end, I'm also super excited because I just booked a ticket for later this Spring to my other home from home - Seattle. I can't wait to go back and see our family and friends who live in Seattle and on Bainbridge Island - it's such a special place. Personally I love the US - it's such a positive place and I love the 'I can, I will' attitude.




When we were talking last night about the stores we love on Bainbridge, I remembered I still had a memory card full of photos of my last trip. In March. Last year.

I must admit, since working at Humphrey Munson I have been so hit and miss with this blog. I love this west egg blog, and I love writing, but it's hard to fit it all in and I never want to feel like I have to write it because I think that takes all the fun out of it. So today, I find myself with a spare hour before we brave the storm to walk the dogs and I've got some tea, and I'm going to take you on a mini tour of one of my favourite stores on Bainbridge Island - the Salt House Mercantile.



Located at 119 Winslow Way East on Bainbridge Island, when you walk in the door at the Salt House Mercantile it has the perfect summer vibe - clad in extra wide painted shiplap panels that suit the space perfectly, the interior design is simple, rustic and welcoming.



The window has an ever changing display of beautiful furniture and home accessories - this is the place to come to source gifts for any occasion.



I love this vintage sign which the owner sourced on a road trip - sadly it's not for sale.



I bought 6 of these soaps home to England on my last visit and when I opened up the bag the aroma was just incredible.

Fabric from Komedal Cloth (previously Bainbridge Blues) a natural fibre textile line designed on Bainbridge Island and woven in Italy.

As well as homewares and accessories, the Salt House Mercantile also stocks an amazing range of weird and wonderful ingredients and condiments - I so wish I could have brought more home with me. 










Curating homewares and accessories for a store is actually a lot harder than I think people realise, it takes such a lot of vision and perseverance to get out there and source really beautiful and fantastic products and then combine them in a way that reflects the store's brand.

Stores like the Salt House Mercantile have such a distinctive knack of combining really lovely products - I am such a sucker for packaging, I love typography and design and I would definitely buy a hand soap just because I love the label. I'm okay if that means I'm shallow.

As I'm sure everyone does, I love to have beautiful things in my home and I can't wait to go back to Bainbridge Island and stock up. I just spotted on instagram they are now stocking my favourite Bellocq tea so I will definitely be bringing some of that home.

Visit the Salt House Mercantile at 119 Winslow Way E, Bainbridge Island, Washington, follow then on instagram here or visit their facebook page for opening times, additional info.