Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: fashion icon?


Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is pretty hilarious. The second season has just debuted on Netflix and I binge watched it all in about two days!

Aside from the funniest jokes, gags and witty dialogue, I found myself wanting to inject lots of colour into my wardrobe- and it is all thanks to Kimmy! My wardrobe is one of classic pieces and I stick to the basics. Black, white, grey and the humble striped tee shirt are all living in my closet, and if you did a quick poll amongst my friends, they probably wouldn't be able to tell you when I wore something that wasn't outside these hues.

So Kimmy, what have you done! I want to buy brightly coloured jeans, tee shirts with pattern and flashing sneakers. I want to embrace the fun fashion of the 90s, and go all out some sparkle.

Kimmy's often eccentric wardrobe choices can be attributed to her escape from the bunker, the confines of her regimented life stripped away in favour of a new and exciting life in glossy New York. Working for a high maintenance society girl has little influence on Kimmy's sartorial choices, and the character of Jacqueline also has an influence on the 'sensible' side of my fashion interests.

Kimmy's style can be found in shops like Uniqlo, Kate Spade and Coach - all realms where fashion and fun mix. We've seen flowers, birds and geometric shapes in all of these stores, and high end designers like Anya Hindmarch have also been quick to embrace the fun of patches and over the top keyrings in various past and present collections.

Fashion is meant to be fun and used as a way to express character. Whilst I wouldn't meet a client with a pair of bright purple jeans, I will be having a little more fun in my everyday, off duty wardrobe. Thanks Kimmy!

Miller's Collectables Handbook & Price Guide 2016-2017


I've been a collector for as long as I can remember, and the Miller's Handbook is my bible. Whether you're new to antiques collecting or consider yourself a bit of an expert, make sure you get your hands on the Miller's Collectables Handbook & Price Guide for 2016-2017.

Featuring more than 4,000 objects in full colour, each with a detailed description and current price range, the book also offers what those in the know look for - how to spot that rare example that may be worth twenty times more than another piece. Meanwhile, in-depth closer look features explain what to look for when appraising everything from 20th century glass to posters.

Every image is changed for every edition to keep the book up-to-date with collecting and buying trends. Miller's Collectables Handbook & Price Guide 2016-2017 is the only full- colour, fully-illustrated collectables price guide in the world. Comprehensive sections cover advertising, books, ceramics, glass, metalware, pens and writing equipment, plastics and Bakelite, posters, sporting memorabilia, teddy bears, toys and games and vintage fashion. This year, special sections focus on affordable jewellery, Hornsea ceramics and tribal art.

Judith Miller is the industry's ultimate expert, and she co-founded the Miller's Antiques Price Guide in 1979. She is a regular expert on Antiques Roadshow and is a regular contributor to publications such as Homes & Antiques and House & Garden. Mark Hill was a specialist for international auctioneers Bonhams and Sotheby's before becoming Director of an online antiques and collectables trading website, running its alliance with Ebay Live Auctions. He is an expert on the BBC Antiques Roadshow.

So if you are looking to become serious about collecting then make sure you pick up your copy! Thanks to Octopus Books for sending me an advance copy of the book.

Alan Tanksley Q&A


Alan Tanksley by Richard Shultz
When Alan Tanksley’s own Manhattan apartment, with its view of the Empire State Building from the  living  room  and  shower,  appeared  both  on  the  cover of  Metropolitan  Home  and  in the pages  of  Elle  Decor  Magazine,  the  designer’s  extraordinary  skill  at  blending  furniture, furnishings   and   art   from   virtually   every   era   drew   international  acclaim.  

This   same extraordinary  vision  and  highly  personalized  style  characterize  every  one  of  Mr. Tanksley’s timeless designs for a most appreciative clientele both in the United States and abroad.

Mr.  Tanksley  and  his  staff  of  ten  are  among  America’s  leading  practitioners  of  residential design  and  of  detailed  interior  space  planning  and  custom  furniture  and  fixture  design.

Renowned  as  an  expert  colorist,  Mr.  Tanksley  creates  shimmering  palettes  that  ultimately manage to make every  interior space  both exciting and relaxing simultaneously – a  must  for his demanding,  highly  exclusive  clients.    His  day-to-day  working  relationships  with  such leading architects  as  Maya  Lin  and  Robert  Orr  give  the  firm  the  unusual  ability  to  draw  on expert talents  to  implement  a  wide  range  of  architectural  renovations  for  each  project  that  it undertakes. Prior to founding his own firm in 1993, Alan Tanksley was a partner in another firm and was previously  an  associate  with  the  distinguished  designer  Mark  Hampton.  

He  worked  closely with  Mr.  Hampton  on  the  design  and  supervision  of  many  of  the company’s  most  notable residential  projects.    Mr.  Tanksley  is  a  graduate  of  Arizona  State University’s  School  of Architecture specializing in interior architecture. Among  Alan  Tanksley, Inc.’s  elite  clientele  are  Paul  Simon,  John  Bartlett,  Ambassador Edward Elson, Lionel Pincus, Jane Pauley & Garry Trudeau, Gilles Mendel, Goldman Sachs Company and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

Check out my exclusive Q&A with Alan Tanksley below.

What first attracted you to to design? 

I can't say that I can pinpoint one thing that first attracted me to design. Like may others it seems that something was inside me from the very start, perhaps the same way others are drawn to sports or science or any other passion before they knew enough to consciously pursue it., Fortunately, both my parents were very curious people by nature and due to my father being a commercial pilot we travelled fairly extensively.  An appreciation for history, architecture, nature and art were organically imbued in use as we accompanied them from place to place and they shared their love for such things with.

What inspires you in your creative process? 

The environment I'm given to work with, along with my clients' stated desires kick off the search for creative solutions. Most often my initial goal is to organize an environment to a place that is innately compelling and approachable. Whether it be a house, a room or a table top vignette my goal is always the same, to make the user feel

What have been the highlights and challenges throughout your design career?

To begin, I had the good fortune to start my career in the office of Mark Hampton, one of the masters of 20th century design. With Mr. Hampton I was introduced to a world of design and a lifestyle that opened my eyes to the limitless adventures that can be experienced through the business of design and decoration. One of the big downers has been the times when working with clients who approach the process from an adversarial, small minded point of view. That's a guarantee for a joyless, soul crushing experience. There's simply not enough time available to squander it on any such relationship.

What have been the best projects you’ve worked on?

The projects that truly stand out have been the result of working relationships with people who've participated and communicated with me in an enthusiastic and collaborative manner and who have a respectful understanding of the complex, often challenging processes required to accomplish something truly great.  Some of the stand outs include residences in Snowmass, Vail and Telluride, Colorado as well as a modern ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

What projects are you currently working on?

We are extremely busy right now with three exceptional residences in the Boston area, combining two apartments in NYC to create a single, full floor apartment and an extraordinary project in one of New York's most recognizable buildings.

You’ve designed for many ‘celebrity’ clients and famous faces. Which of these projects have been the most fun? 

I've worked with a handful of well known people, the most visible being the singer and songwriter Paul Simon for whom I worked on his Manhattan and Montauk residences. However, as far as fun goes I have a long and very friendly working relationship with Garry Trudeau and Jane Pauley on their NYC residence.

Which is your favorite design style/period? 

Now, because I have the luxury of working in any period should I have the opportunity to or, more likely, enjoy the challenge of artfully moving among several periods within the same environment.

Who would be your dream client?

As long as we're daydreaming, Mame Dennis, the fictional character who lived at One Beekman Place. Not only was she smart and funny and glamorous she completely changed the decoration of her massive apartment on a regular basis.

Other than her I'd be very pleased to have more of the of people I'm currently working for. I'm very fortunate, they're an ideal assortment of clients.

Our City, Our Story: September 11 Memorial Podcast


Our City. Our Story. profiles engaging New York personalities, from the everyday to the very well-known, examining the place that 9/11 has taken in the greater context of their lives. Through these stories we see how New Yorkers, and the city itself, responded, coped and persevered. The series is hosted by Jenny Pachucki, an oral historian, and is produced by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center.

With testimonies from survivors, reporters, elected officials and filmmakers, this is one podcast you should be subscribing too.

Grace and Frankie


So I'm pretty much obsessed with Grace and Frankie. The Netflix comedy is out of this world, and aside from the hilarious storylines, great characters and amazing Californian homes, the fashion is pretty ace too!

My style is classic with a twist, and the fashion sense of Grace Hanson (Jane Fonda) and daughter Brianna Hanson (June Diane Raphael) are my particular favourites.

Popped collars, Ralph Lauren and classic pieces perfectly sum up the wardrobe of Fonda's character. A businesswoman by trade, Grace is the epitome of WASP chic. From cashmere wraps, patterned shirts and a great pair of black boots (NEED,) Grace's style is an easy one to fall in love with.

Her daughter Brianna echoes much of her mother's style, but does it with a modern twist. The snarkiest character on the show, Brianna wears lots of power pieces, such as a rocking cape and tailored dresses. She opts for bright colours and her dress sense echoes her bold character!

Some Grace and Frankie style is sneaking into my wardrobe - roll on new episodes for more laughs and fashion inspiration!


Hamilton Perkins


Looking for a travel that's eco-friendly and gives back? Check out the Hamilton Perkins Collection!

Created by Hamilton Perkins, the designer had trouble finding bags that could meet the basic needs in a practical and socially responsible way.  He solved this problem by working closely with industrial designers to create a collection that was built from recycled plastic bottles and reclaimed billboards.

He surveyed friends, family, and prospective customers and the result turned out to be a bag that combined some of the top features that mattered the most to some of the world's busiest travelers. They broke down some of the traditional walls of the retail industry and invited potential customers to share their comments and thoughts with us.

From top to bottom, they have created a completely original bag and in collaboration with their suppliers, the brand is committed to supporting fair wages and transparency.

Hamilton's goal is to raise $10,000 USD through Kickstarter for this awesome project- find out more here!

A New Dawn for Parliament: light sculpture celebrating women’s votes revealed


UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
I'm working on a big digital project in Parliament at the moment, and I've been really lucky to see the New Dawn light sculpture in person!

One hundred and fifty years since the campaign for women’s votes began, New Dawn, an artwork celebrating all the individuals involved, was revealed in Westminster Hall, the oldest part of Parliament.

Located above the entrance to St Stephen’s Hall, viewers of the artwork literally stand in the footsteps of the hundreds of thousands of women and men who came to Parliament to fight for women’s right to the vote.

New Dawn is a contemporary light sculpture by artist Mary Branson and a permanent addition to the Parliamentary Art Collection, as well as the first piece of abstract art commissioned for permanent display in the historic palace. Measuring over six metres high, the massive scale of New Dawn is intended to reflect the size of the campaign, and the unique hand-blown glass scrolls that make up its dawning sun reflect the many individuals who were involved in the movement and the special contribution they made to modern democracy.

The artwork draws on the visual language of Parliament itself. The scrolls are a direct reference to the Act Room at the Parliamentary Archives, where the legislation which brought women the vote and a say in the laws that govern them is stored.  The glass scrolls are mounted on a portcullis structure – the principal emblem of Parliament – raised over the entrance to St. Stephen’s Hall, symbolising women’s long-awaited access to democracy. The circular scrolls combine with the metal portcullis to create 168 distinct ‘Venus’ symbols, representing the women who fought for their right to vote.
New Dawn has also been influenced by the campaigners it celebrates.  The rainbow of colours used in the artwork reflects the numerous organisations that were involved in the struggle, including the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, the Women’s Social and Political Union, the Women’s Freedom League and the Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage.

The title of the piece comes from the language of the campaigners themselves, many of whom conceived of the vote as offering a ‘new dawn’ for women.

The lighting of New Dawn’s sun shape will rise and fall over a twelve and half hour cycle, linked to the tide of the Thames.  The ebb and flow of the illumination reflects the ever rising tide of change that campaigners were certain would bring women the vote in time.  Each scroll is individually lit, and the appearance of the artwork will change moment to moment, encouraging onlookers to consider the work more deeply and to reflect on the value of the vote and women’s role in democracy.
New Dawn will be revealed on the 150th anniversary of John Stuart Mill MP presenting the first mass petition calling for women’s votes in the House of Commons.  This date is generally seen as the beginning of more than seventy year’s campaigning for the vote, involving hundreds of thousands of people across the UK.

If you're in London this summer, make sure you check out New Dawn! It is spectacular in real life.

Peacerunner: The Congressman and Northern Ireland


How did an ex-congressman help to end centuries of conflict in Ireland? Penn Rhodeen's new book, 'Peacerunner,' provides a fascinating insight into the true story of Bruce Morrison and his role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland.

Warfare, ranging from active hostilities to seething tension, was the norm between the Irish and the English since the 1100s. During the thirty years from the start of The Troubles to the 1998 Good Friday agreement, over 3,000 Irish and British nationals were killed. Many celebrated the famous Good Friday agreement that put an end to one of the longest-standing conflicts in the world, but just a handful knew the full story of one American and the crucial role he played in winning peace—and none knew it better than Penn Rhodeen.

In a narrative that grips the reader from the first pages, Rhodeen recounts Bruce Morrison’s heroic peacemaking efforts in lively prose and rigorous detail. A natural storyteller, Rhodeen offers readers the chance to step into modern political history for an up-close look at Morrison’s remarkable journey. Follow Morrison as he persuades Clinton to create a positive political climate in America and makes the connections necessary in Ireland and Britain to help win the IRA ceasefire and enact a solid, lasting peace.

With an introduction by President Bill Clinton and cameos from Tony Blair, George Mitchell, Gerry Adams, Jean Kennedy Smith, John Major, and other larg- er-than-life figures, Rhodeen dramatizes events that somehow receded into the past without getting their due. Peacerunner is the story of how one man changed world history and the modern political landscape.

Bruce Morrison’s story is one of unlikely optimism in the face of seemingly hopeless conflict. Peacerunner has the power to inspire readers from all walks of life and spark new dialogue about how best to lend aid in countries afflicted by unending war.

Thanks to the publishers for a review copy of Peacerunner. 

Petit Bateau Manicure Treat and SS16 Preview!


Are you in London this weekend and fancy a complimentary manicure? Drop into Petit Bateau’s King’s Road or Wimbledon stores between 10am-6pm on Saturday 11 June to get your nails done and check out the SS16 collections.

Plus, you’ll receive three free nail varnishes with every womenswear purchase in stores or online with code VERNIS until 15 June.

For more information click here. 

PLUS Petit Bateau is giving away a set of nail polishes to one lucky reader! Use the widget below to enter.

Desk Request



I'm in the market for a new desk and I need your help! I'll be upgrading and restyling my home office over the summer and I'm stuck on which type of desk I should select.

It needs to be sturdy with plenty of character, and big enough for an iMac, printer and a cute filing tray. Thoughts and suggestions are welcome! 

Flying trip to Dublin


Last week I took a short hop (translation a thirty minute flight!) to Dublin. Attending a one day conference, I also had chance to explore the city and indulge in some retail therapy.

As a Georgian city, Dublin was much more 'spread out' than I was expecting, with some beautiful architecture. The River Liffy runs through the city, making for a picture perfect view as the sun goes down! Whilst I didn't get to see as much of the city as I would have liked, I did get to see a really large naval ship with a HUGE American flag. Happy Laura!

The flight also provided some pretty spectacular shots of Dublin and my native Wales. Enjoy!

Happy Weekend!


Happy June everyone! It's hard to believe that we're at halfway through 2016!! I've spent my week in Dublin attending a conference and exploring the great Georgian city. Amongst the sightseeing and the hard work, here are the links I've been reading.

Members of the Scottish Parliament go digital in the chamber: wi-fi has been switched on for MSPs and they can now use their digital devices.

Doteveryone's end of life work: truly impressive work being done!

Jackie Kennedy's Georgetown mansion can be yours for $10 million: get in line folks!

Lighting Tips from Charles Edwards


Lighting is a notoriously tricky thing to get right in your home. Too bright or too dark, everyone has an opinion on what is the best lighting!

Luckily, expert Charles Edwards is on hand to offer some advice. Considered  one  of  the  leading designers  and manufacturers  of  19th  and  20th  Century  inspired  English,  French  and American lighting.  Charles  has  developed  a  recognizable  style  in  his design  collection,  which  are regularly  featured  in  notable  publications including Architectural Digest, Veranda, World of Interiors, and House & Garden.

Check out Charles's tips for lighting below!


All spaces should be designed with layers of light: 

You can achieve this by combining wall and ceiling lights, or by adding table lamps and floor lamps to the lighting scheme. Remember to make the most of natural light.

Hide wires for lights:

It isn’t always possible to have a lamp near the centre of a large room without its flex becoming a trip wire.  Recessed sockets in the floor (preferably hidden under a bit of furniture) usually eliminate the problem.

Don’t dazzle: 

Particular care needs to be taken that there is no unwanted glare from lights. Take care to position lights so that bulbs are not directly in eye line.

Mood lighting: 

It makes sense to combine downlights/ hidden lighting and decorative lights on different circuits as well as on dimmers – it will make it much easier to create whatever mood you want.


As a rule of thumb wall lights should be fitted approx 6’ from the floor and you should allow 7’6” headroom from the floor to the bottom of a ceiling light. This will determine if you should hang a chandelier, or use a flush mount ceiling light. Avoid choosing lanterns that are too small or ‘mean’ and be careful not to hang them too high.

Use ceiling lights to break up spaces in large areas. Ceiling lights are useful in open plan interiors where they can be used to define specific areas within the space. Define the space: Use pendants or hanging lights above an island or a kitchen table to define the area and add a decorative element.  If you can’t find the right lights to complement the shape of the island or table, use a series of lights instead.

It is worth considering that the light fittings you use should usually be in the region of 15-30cm (6-12ins) smaller in width than the island or table beneath them. However, it is also worth taking into account the size of the room. Decorative Lights should help to reinforce a room’s sense of scale and choosing lights which are too small can often look a bit mean.

Positioning the light: 

The lowest part of a hanging light should normally be at least 107cm (42") above a work surface, or even greater if the light is above a sink or hob. Having decorative lights in a place where they may get splattered or dirty will just create extra work as they will need to be cleaned regularly. Lights hanging above a kitchen table can be positioned slightly lower as long as there is no risk of people banging their heads when standing up or laying the table.

When hanging a lantern in stairwell, it is usual for the light be hung just below half the height of the room so you can still see the top of the lantern from the landing. For halls with several stories a tiered hanging formation will create focal points for each landing.


It is important not to feel hidebound by the period of the property when selecting the design of light fitting. Lighting fixtures have always changed with technology, from the transition from candles, to oil, to gas, and finally to electricity. As long as the design and proportions of a lantern suit the architecture of a space, it will make an enormous difference and add a real presence.


Chandeliers or hanging lanterns can be used to create drama and mood. If there is a window above the door centre the chandelier so it can be seen from the outside.

Using the same hanging lantern design outside the house in the porch as well as inside in the hallway will make a strong design statement. Most Charles Edwards hanging lanterns can be used for exterior, or interior use. A popular choice is the Blake Lantern.

Using a series of hanging lanterns will create rhythm and a flow to the space.

The finish of the lighting fixtures will help create the atmosphere. Nickel will add a crisp, clean look to the space and can be used on traditional designs to add a contemporary twist. Brass and bronzes can be used to create a more traditional and warm ambience. All Charles Edwards designs are available in a wide range of finishes to ensure that you can achieve the right look with your chosen design.

When it is dark outside, large areas of glass in a kitchen, in a skylight or within sliding doors, for example, can look like a big black mirror if there is no external light beyond them. A couple of garden lanterns or wall lights is all it takes to turn a negative into a positive and create a greater sense of space by allowing people to see outside.

How do you use lighting in your home?

May through Instagram


Testing out New Zealand chocolate | Wallis and Edward print from the National Portrait Gallery | London night time views | Wedding season | Royal art | Morning London | Disused Underground stations | Binge watching Grace and Frankie | Leon lunchtime treats

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