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Object of the day: old French bowls and plates from The Peanut vendor

These beautiful plates range in date from the 1930s to the 1950s and are available from The Peanut Vendor (whose owners' wonderful home I wrote about AGES ago, here).

The online and actual shop (in north London) has a big batch of these beauties fresh in... for just £4 a-piece.

Affordable enough to start a little collection...

Check them out at The Peanut Vendor, and get in quick as the shop is shutting for a little holiday on Sunday.

Post by Kate

Spotlight on... Lundtofte cutlery

What have you had handed down from your family that you cherish? I remember, when I was little, my mum and dad getting out this amazing 1950s Danish wooden and stainless steel cutlery set when they had people over for dinner. 

Even as a child, I could appreciate the smooth tactile handles and their nicely tapered shape. The set now belongs to me (see it below). And what you don't want to with something this special, is put it in the dishwasher.

But I'll tell you a bit about the cutlery before we get to the dishwashing incident.

The set has "Lundtofte Stainless Denmark" stamped onto the back of each piece and those smooth handles are made from palisander – a Brazilian rosewood, which is dark with fine black lines running through it. The result is pretty special.

My dad thinks it came from the George Jensen shop on Bond Street, London. It was a wedding present when he got married to his first wife in 1959, just a year after it was designed by – I think – Tias Eckhoff. (I'm trying to identify it, by the way, from eBay photographs, where what looks like the same set, called Opus, is going for quite a bit of money – around £400. Goodness...). Anyway, so my dad's wife was working for Finmar Ltd, a wholesale importer of Scandinavian design which sold to shops including Liberty. Lucky for me, she introduced him to the joys of such sleek designs. Luckier still, when they split she got the gold coffee set (which does admittedly sound amazing), he got these beauties and, when I moved into my current house, generously gave them to me.

So when these 50-odd year old things accidentally got loaded into the dishwasher, you can imagine the panic. Knives, forks and spoons (two sizes of each!) emerged from the steaming machine dried out, pale and cracked.

Like my parents, I only get the cutlery out on special occasions. And this special occasion had called for five place settings: the set features six of everything, so you can probably see the ones that escaped a beating from the dishwasher (in case you can't, it's the two on the left). But I have since spent several hours lovingly treating them with Danish Oil, and they're looking much better than they were. And if I hadn't pointed it out, well – you'd never have noticed, would you? (Say no!)

Anyway, as I've just given them another coat of oil and had them all out, I thought I should photograph them. I would never buy myself a four-hundred quid set of cutlery, so it's a lovely thing to have handed down. Just don't tell my dad about the dishwashing incident...

Object of the day: hexagon brass bottle openers

On one hand, £27.50 is a lot to pay for a bottle opener.

On the other hand, when it looks like this... doubles as a miniature sculptural work of art. This isn't a bottle opener, it's a beautiful object to add class to coffee tables, pzazz to show-off shelves and a general air of design-savvy smugness to its owner. AND it opens bottles.

Seems almost a bargain now, don't you think? I found this hexagonal hottie at the very tempting shop, Holly's House. I'd previously browsed this online and actual emporium (the bricks and mortar version is on the New King's Road in southwest London), founded by interior designer Holly Wick. I loved its style though lamented the prices of most of the things I put on my mental shopping list (like this stunning seagull wallpaper).

Then I stumbled across it in the flesh at Clerkenwell Design Week, last Wednesday and spotted this affordable brass beauty. The openers (whatever) are solid brass and pleasingly heavy. A great gift (possibly for oneself).

Find it at Holly's House

More on CDW to come soon by the way...

Post by Kate

The Insider: Pretty Pegs does table legs

You may recall my previous posts about Pretty Pegs, a Swedish company that ingeniously makes gorgeous, unusual replacement legs for Ikea sofas.

It's a sort of interiors perfectionist's version of the classic fashionista trick of buying a high street coat and replacing the buttons to designer-ish effect.

Well if you liked those, you'll be excited to know that the company has just launched a new range of legs – but not for sofas...

Yep, you can now buy Pretty Pegs for your Ikea tables.

Above, from left to right: Otto; Siri; Otto; Carl; Alfred; Carl; Estelle; Otto; Alfred

What a classy transformation. And the classic gold-topped Estelle legs are rather reminiscent of this Ikea mid-century original.

Each leg design – there are five – comes in three different colours and, like the sofa legs, are pleasingly off-beat (love the asymmetry in the Alfred design, above). But although the legs are made for Ikea tables, a set of them will set you back considerably more than your original Swedish mega-brand purchase – at 160€ (£130 or $218). Is it worth it?

I'll let you be the judge of that – would love to hear what you think.

Meanwhile, I really like that they've made a series of videos to inspire your inner Ikea pimper. Here's one visual guide to creating your own striking bespoke table from a basic black number (an idea for sprucing my own chipboard desk, perhaps...). You can check out more like it on the Pretty Pegs YouTube channel.

Read more about Pretty Pegs

Back soon...

Long lost family visiting... 

Daily service will resume in a few days! But do feel free to browse the archive highlights below meanwhile.

Out & About: Dulwich Open House

Last weekend was a whirlwind of art in south London – and this weekend, much of it continues, as the Artists Open House event revs up for its final weekend.

I couldn't afford much (but it's nice to look), and saw a fraction of the things I wanted to see – it's quite a tiring thing to do, especially in last week's driving rain – but nevertheless here are a couple of highlights.

Above: the Cavaliero Finn open house in Croxted Road, SE21, which is open this weekend too.

If you're anywhere near southeast London tomorrow or Sunday, do check it out. Details at the end. And if you're not, all the listings have website details – do some online window shopping or discover some new inspiring bookmarks.

Some paintings by Trevor Burgess, whose work I've enthused about before – he has a great talent for capturing very ordinary scenes and, by painting them, giving them a beauty you might overlook passing them by in real life.

The canvases look great in situ, as part of the Cavaliero Finn Open House, which was on at two venues: Croxted Road (pictured here) and the incredible Belair House, near chichi Dulwich Village (pictured lower down this post). Trevor Burgess is around for a Meet the Artist event at the house tomorrow, Saturday 17th (sadly Belair House was only open for the first weekend, but you can see some pictures below).

Above: Some more of the interesting artworks and homewares in the Cavaliero Finn show including (second shelf up) ceramics by Vanja Bazdulj, whose work I've featured here before.

An interesting take on the Heygate Estate in Elephant & Castle, famous for being massive and being demolished, it also features in multiple British urban-set films or TV series where a sprawling estate appears, including Attack the Block, The Bill, Top Boy and even Madonna's Hung Up video, below in case you're interested.

Another highlight was the house of Jess Walton, also in SE24. She runs Fabulous Vintage Finds and the house was stuffed with affordable gems.

Below: The aforementioned Belair House was a treat. Just look at the space...

...and that's just one room.

Loved the surrealist takes on classical sculpture, above, by Kathy Dalwood.

And isn't this, by Alexena Cayless, an interesting idea? (You'll see why below).

Rowena Brown's tiny houses also appealed.

And I loved Judith Tucker's deserted concrete diving boards.

I've written about Custhom's technical wizardry here before, and it was interesting to see their digitally embroidered fabric up close. Beautiful. There's also a film that shows how it's done you can watch at the event too.  

But this was probably the overall highlight for me: I was mesmerised by Gill Rocca's paintings. Way out of my price league (I think the painting above was £10,000) but my god it is gorgeous, isn't it? 

What you don't get in the photo above – but which you can see enlarged in the one below – are the tiny little lights she's painted on the horizon of the river; three little boats glowing in the gloomy light. I think I could look at a painting like this every day for the rest of my life and still get lost in it.

And by the time we got to the beautiful house of quilt-maker and designer, Cassandra Ellis (below), late on the Sunday afternoon, she'd practically sold out of all her beautiful things. I enjoyed her freshly sanded floorboards though and had a lovely chat with her other half about their floorboards technique.

If you've never been to an open house event before, it's basically a group of exhibitions in the homes of the people who've made or collected the things on show. The things are for sale and you get to have a mini nose into their houses – and who can resist that?

Above: cups and saucers by Ali Miller

A word of warning, though, it can be a rather unrelaxing experience if you pick, as we did several times, a house empty of other visitors and full of art you're not very keen on (naturally, none of the highlights here fall into that category). One stern-looking lady followed us around her silent ground floor, hands clasped as her eyes bore into the backs of our heads, while we tried to look like we liked her paintings more than we did. Leaving quickly is painful. The houses where you could see people milling about through the windows were good bets, as were those with doors permanently open to welcome people in.

Be aware that not all the events or venues are open both weekends. Check and download the guide here;

Spotlight on... drinks trolleys

Drinks trolleys are having a bit of a moment right now. 

And hurrah – as there's just something so glamorous about devoting an entire piece of furniture to stiff liquors, sweet liqueurs and fancy cocktail stirrers...

After an extended hankering, I finally got a drinks trolley. But then impractically positioned it by a radiator (useless for the fantasy ice bucket) and turned the bottom part into the dog's bed. It is still a work in progress. So meanwhile, it's good to dream on and get inspired by, for example, this rather tasty golden bamboo effect number, above, arriving soon at Oliver Bonas, available to pre-order from 3 June for £195. If sleek and sharp-edged is more your style, check out Zara Home's offering for £109.99.

Can't stretch to £100+ for something so decadently non-vital in your home? A good tray can fill the spot for lots less, yet still make a feature of your alcoholic collection.

Especially if it's a gold one. A dedicated eBay hunt will get you something similar or, a little less kitschly, you might fancy this golden-lined contemporary number from Not on the High Street, for £30, pictured below.

It doesn't have to be all gold and glamour though: love the pared down, grown-up look, above left, too. While Don and Megan Draper's drinks tray from Mad Men Season 5, above right, is all about the booze.

In fact, you don't even need a tray, as the wooden table in this Rita Konig styled apartment illustrates. It's all about the glasses – though a decanter, as seen earlier, and an ice-bucket like this yellow one, are a nice touch.  And a soda syphon would be my luxury of choice. A leaning framed picture also looks as good here as in the earlier image. Fills the space if you aren't fully stocked with bottles.

But if budget were no issue? I'd find space for Buster & Punch's outrageously cool solid wood Rockstar Whisky Bar (above) featuring a luxury silk or leather quilted lining, open-from-the-top flaps and a built-in caged light... It's just, sigh, £2999. Beautiful though.


Post by Kate

Object of the day: Karlsson wooden wall clock from Howkapow

Got to love a good wall clock. And especially one placed somewhere a little unexpected, away from the trad kitchen wall scenario.

I have one on the wall by the bed – astonishingly, we look at it before checking phones for the time. Anything that encourages a bit of old-schoolness has got to be good.

Clocks in cloakroom loos, halls, or as part of a picture display – all ideas to try.

And the pale wood and black type wall clock from Dutch design company, Karlsson, will add function as well as style to your chosen wall. It's new in at the ever-inspiring Howkapow – a shop I have written about many times here – and it's only £34.95. Wouldn't it make a great gift, too?

Real homes: copycat front door

This door belongs to my friends, Adam and Maggie, an example of their mastery at finding brilliant things for their home for next to nothing.

I went to dinner there at the weekend and asked about their incredible late 70s smoked glass and angular chrome early 80s dining table: £1 on eBay. The story reminded me to take a photo I'd been meaning to take at their house for ages – this one, of their unusual bathroom door.

The mahogany and glass door was even more of a bargain than the table. It was free. Adam and Maggie drove past a 1960s office building one day, while it was being refurbished and modernised. Outside, in one of the skips, was this gorgeous door.

Having pretty much screeched to a halt when they saw it, the pair found one of the builders and negotiated the door's removal into their van. And here it is.

Quite apart from the fact that it's a good salvage story, and a lovely door, I'm sharing it because the design is a rather familiar one round at my place. I was so inspired by the design of Adam and Maggie's find that I asked how they'd feel if I shamelessly copied them. When I moved into my house, the front door was one of the first things I decided to change. It used to look like this.

Aside from the fact it was rather ugly uPVC (and you can't even see the matching non-porch door behind: a Georgian beauty re-imagined in white plastic), I also thought the glass porch was wasted space – why not get rid of the inner door entirely, and just add the porch space to the hallway – who wants to see a load of coats and hall clutter from the outside?

So I took some snaps of Adam and Maggie's door and then drew some sketches that illustrated how to expand the design to fill the extra gap. The plans changed a little after the initial drawings you can see below, and I couldn't afford to get the garage door re-made as well, so you'll see my cheap update for that, too.

Rather than hiring a joiner to make the door, I hunted around for a good local firm of shop-fitters. It's a good trick: a solid new front door is never going to cost peanuts (unless you get lucky and find it on a skip), but the shop-fitters were way cheaper and did an excellent job, using iroko, a super hard-wearing wood, rather than mahogany. Anyway, this is what I wound up with.

Annoyingly, it looks a little 2007 to me now (oh the curse of looking at 100s of interiors images a day for a living), but I remind myself that it's based on an original that was probably made around the same time as my house (1968).

It's always a bit surreal going round to Adam and Maggie's and seeing my front door on their bathroom. But I love the connection, and hope they don't curse me every time they come over and knock on a bigger, brash version of their spectacular skip find.

Post by Kate