Having seen countless flats and houses on my property search in the last few months has made me wonder if everyone is slavishly following the same bland approach to decorating. After a while all interiors blend into one and only a couple of homes have really stood out and stayed with me. Muted Farrow & Ball shades on walls, painted floorboards and furniture, one signature wall of wallpaper in a bedroom, mosaic tiles in the bathroom and overly primped, polished fitted kitchens. It’s on repeat over and over, everywhere you look and it’s all so very well behaved. Now John Lewis are advertising “relaxed timeless living” for their Croft Collection portrayed using an image of Skandi-style restraint - a neutral coloured room with lime-washed floorboards, a grey-coated tin pendant light over a wooden table and mismatched old school chairs with textured cushions. Presumably it’s meant to look a bit Amish and homespun but really appears quite contrived and repro - and dare I say it, dull. So if you’re renovating your home or wanting to make a few tweaks, I challenge you to take a different approach. Don’t play safe. Bring back colour. We don’t live in a hot climate with amazing light so brighter, warmer shades are going to work better in our interiors than cold, stark contrasty hues. Pink, for example, can look great in a room - not a sickly shade, more a subtle glow of pink such as Cappucino Candy 6 and not in the bedroom where it might look twee and predictable but in a sitting room or hallway. Also yellow - not wish-washy lemon, more yolky and saffron in colour - is long overdue a comeback and can be very uplifting. Try Dulux Moroccan Sands 2. Rather than painting your floorboards, keep them natural. Depending on the wood, after varnishing they may look orange to begin with but they will mellow over time. We have also surely reached saturation point with painted furniture so think about adding some coloured panels to doors and drawers or changing the knobs for something more decorative. There are so many lovely wallpapers available but it always looks better to have a whole room papered if you can afford it than one solitary wall. If you have some left over, think about papering the panels or even the insides of a cupboard. Mix it up so hang a shabby looking mirror on a pristine wall or a pristine mirror on a shabby wall. Instead of plain blinds or curtains, think about pattern or colour. When a look gets overdone, the style pendulum inevitably swings the other way so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we all start chipping away to get our brown furniture back. Individuality has got to be the way forward to avoid homogenised mediocrity. Tap into your inner maximalist.
As a vinyl lover, the recent discontinuation of IKEA’s iconic Expedit square box shelving came as something of a blow. What other storage unit is perfectly proportioned to hold a healthy collection of 12” records as well as books, toys and whatnot and in some cases doubled up as a handy open kitchen cabinet for plates, bowls and mugs? It’s popularity was enough for vinyl junkies in Germany to create a “Save the Expedit Bookshelf” Facebook page (now with almost 27,000 likes). But despair not, someone out there in the Netherlands HQ of IKEA is listening to customers’ demands and has bowed to pressure and produced a suitable alternative: the Kallax.
The obsession with denim, our ubiquitous everyday uniform in all its various guises, is showing no signs of abating. Faced with the endless choice of trouser style - bootcut, flared, skinny, cropped, boyfriend - shopping for a pair of jeans can be a total minefield unless you know the brand that suits you. Most of us have to hunt high and low to find the right fit. So where to start if you don’t have a favourite label? Thankfully anything goes in the style stakes whether it’s dungarees or shorts, or denim that’s coloured, dark, bleached, torn, slashed or shredded. The most popular look for summer is cropped, preferably with zips or roll-ups at the ankle. Check out James by Paige and J Brand’s Tali. MiH do great flares and Rag & Bone and Seven of All Mankind offer slouchy jeans that have comfort sewn into all seams. Somehow skinnies feel a bit restrictive when temperatures soar but The Stilt by AG gets my vote and TopShop Baxters never let me down. Those who are bold enough to do boiler suits will find Isabel Marant, Citizens of Humanity and Jil Sander have cool all-in-one styles. Denim shirts and jackets are also back so even if you can’t face wrestling in and out of a jumpsuit when you need the loo, you can give the impression of the hip all denim look with separate pieces (in similar or different shades) which can be worn together or hurled apart if deemed too matching, god forbid.
One of the most appealing trends that has emerged for S/S is metallic. Some designers showed a subtle smattering of sequins such as Marc Jacobs, Gucci and Lanvin while others went for wow-factor liquid metal lamé seen at Altuzzara, Vivienne Westwood and Tom Ford. Of course on the catwalk you get the most extreme look and in some cases the model appears to have had a strange encounter with a roll of tin foil, but once filtered down to the high street there are many more wearable options and a hint of shimmer will lift any outfit. For example, Joseph has cropped silver twill-panelled trousers, Day Birger et Mikkelsen has done a simple blazer in old gold sequins, Zagid & Voltaire has cashmere jumpers with metallic leather patches and Russell & Bromley are offering silver chelsea boots and there are all manner bags, belts and sandals galore wherever you look.
It doesn’t happen in Italy, Norway, Spain or France but here, new words are introduced to the English language all the time and there are 1000 new entries into the Oxford Dictionary every year. Most of the additions are words or fandangled ‘trending’ lingo created by the so-called ’YOLO generation,’ in other words, abbreviated or incomprehensible nonsense adopted by our children. Trying to understand my pre-teen kids while also keeping up to speed with the yoof of today is proving to be somewhat taxing. I shudder in disbelief when I hear some of the jabber-speak that tumbles from their mouths. An after-school conversation might go a bit like this…although I’m not sure you can call it a conversation per se, more gobbledegook chit chat:
Me: So how did it go with the new teacher?
Son: Dodge. Hashtag cringe.
Me: Oh, right. Any more detail? What’s he like?
Son: Never mind. Beep.
Daughter: Look peeps: guy on penny board. Sick.
Son: SKILLS! Totes amazeballs! Nice one, Sherlock.
Me: Did you remember to pick up your guitar?
Daughter: Oops. My bad…O M G girl with epic jacket. Swagger.
Son: Dat face tho’.
Me: Hello? Can someone please speak my language?
Me: Please stop it!
Me: Oh do be quiet.
Daughter: Sad face.
And so the banter goes on and really I am none the wiser. I hover, from feeling aghast and annoyed to extremely befuddled and a bit of a loser. Do I ignore the whole episode and bear with, but how long will it carry on FFS? Or for FOMO, take some selfies, Instagram, tweet and twerk on? I guess I could say whatevs but even that seems completely out of date now. Hashtag sigh.
Laura Campbell is stylist, writer and DJ. http://www.campbellstyle.com