Image: Design soda
Phew, we’ve got to February already, not sure I’m going to want to see a lot of news this month, groan of helpless despair! But on a positive note, time has been flying by here as we’ve spent much spare time decorating of late which means I’ve got a few rooms to show you soon, but alongside the decorating I’ve been thinking a lot about my design inspirations. I was recently asked in a piece for Essential Living about my home design ethos and inspirations. As is pretty much a given with those sorts of questions I answered everything(!) or more specifically everywhere – architectural details, tv, what people are wearing on the tube, I’m always looking round for interesting combinations of colour, form & texture. But perhaps my number one place for finding interiors inspo is in commercial spaces, and I am often taking mental notes of good design over coffee (ok, I don’t actually drink coffee but you know what I mean). Famous landmarks always provoke a reaction in me and make me assess what I like and what I definitely don’t. But new commercial spaces are one of the greatest spaces to see how new design ideas are being put into practice, how they look or feel in reality. Having done a bit of styling work, the element I loved most on a job was seeing materials I can’t afford being used and wondering how I could modify them to produce a similar effect in my own home. But actually bars, cafes and restaurants give us all access to this and I’ve found Instagram a really great tool for finding places I want to visit in London (and the U.S, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Belgium or Australia should I ever find myself in cities there). So over the last year, if I’m in an area with a cafe or restaurant on my list I will drop in, even if it’s just for a quick lemonade and a recce of the building (or to see the palm print toilets as was the case at Palm Vaults in Hackney last year). These below are my five favourites, there are others like The Wolseley for example, or the many branches of Comptoir Libanais, and many more I want to make my way to including Bob Bob Ricard, Bronte, Mustard, Spring, Yopi, Story coffee and Clerkenwell Grind. But for today here are 5 cafes and restaurants I could happily while away many hours in taking onboard decor inspo. If you know any great places to try please let me know in the comments below.
No197 Chiswick Fire Station
Ah! 197 Chiswick Firestation, I love this place. Perhaps the most stylised and the most relaxed of my choices, it may be super fashionable, the decor almost aches with cool, but actually the vibe is relaxed, the brunch menu is fantastic and the experience very child friendly. We went here last summer when Dan had some time off work and it was the first time I’d seen velvet, pink and cactus’s used in combination in real life. It may look like it’s swallowed every trend going whole but actually it feels very far from contrived, just the right amount of surprise and the bathroom was really something else. Whilst the pink and green pops on such a neutral base had me from the door, the benches were what really stole my heart and I’ve been hunting a sofa like the dusty-caramel-pink corduroy seating on the bench below ever since.
197-199 Chiswick High Rd, Chiswick, London W4 2DR. Website.
Images: Design soda
Pinkberry, London – Islington
I’m not sure if I am cheating with this one, the Islington branch of Pinkberry London is in fact a frozen yogurt emporium (and may I recommend the Pomegranate flavoured one) imported from America. I passed it on Upper Street and if it hadn’t caught my attention with its deep blue, white and brass (echoing my bathroom style) then it most certainly would have had me with its use if scallop (or fishtail) pattern. It was designed by Yellow Cloud Studio and it is a really great piece of design. I love every element in here, the wood that gives warmth to the more sleek elements, the cool colours against the brass and the scallop tiles on the counter-top and fabric scallops echoing the same style above the seating, this is one great piece of fresh design. I had to hover a bit to take photos as it was so constantly busy but if you’re passing do grab a seat with a Pomegranate frozen yogurt, you won’t regret it.
38 Upper St, London N1 0PN. Website.
Images: Design soda
Bourne & Hollingsworth
Now, Bourne & Hollingsworth I wholeheartedly recommend, I dropped in here on an afternoon in spring to write notes on the New Designers Show, it was the perfect end to a lovely day away from home for me. The staff were wonderfully friendly and I felt so at home amongst the eclectic-vintage-botanical styling. This ticked all the boxes for me – colour, pattern and patina (as the blog tag line goes!) plus botanicals, I could happily have spent an entire afternoon here perched on one of the comfy chairs with a pot of tea (served here in a vintage silver teapot, of course!) reading a book. Well worth a visit if you are up this end of town.
42 Northampton Rd, London EC1R 0HU. Website.
Images: Design Soda
Kensington Place Restaurant, Notting Hill
On to Notting Hill where you will find the best fish in town at Kensington Place restaurant. You will also find perhaps the best combination of cool opal tones amongst chequerboard flooring the city has to offer. I know I will never own a Jean Prouve standard chair but when I find one out and about, especially when it’s in a good hue, I feel it would be rude not to pull up a chair and sit down! This design is so simple and yet every element of it works so perfectly within the very chic whole. The colour combination of blue tones with its pops of mustard against a classic chequerboard floor would, to my mind, translate pretty well within any domestic kitchen setting. Did I mention that the food was amazing? Four of us ate and all raved about our plates before piling in to each other’s to judge the favourite which was near impossible but I think my sea bass had the edge.
201-209 Kensington Church St, Kensington, London W8 7LX. Website.
Images: Design soda
Quality Chop House, Clerkenwell
Final stop is The Quality Chop House in Clerkenwelk which has existed in one form or another for the last few centuries and started as a working mans eating house. It has a perfectly English feel with its quiet attention to style and etiquette, the cutlery is all old silver and the menu is limited to a few select dishes which, whilst pricey, are cooked exceptionally well, even the rye sourdough and cultured butter was noteworthy. What I liked most were the 19th century benches, you can just see people bundled around tables on them in past times when Clerkenwell was neither so affluent nor so trendy, but they have been wonderfully repurposed in this elegant setting for an intimate dinner. There was a quiet beauty to this place which would be hard to replicate without its period features but it’s a lovely spot for enjoying the mood an interior can have on you.
88-94 Farringdon Rd, London EC1R 3EA. Website.
Images: Design Soda
And a final mention to Queenswood, Battersea
If you read my blog regularly you will know that I often like to pop an extra entry into these rundowns, and lucky number six is a well deserved inclusion – Queenswood in Battersea. Not least because the spiced cauliflower, caper, raisin, tzatziki & couscous salad that my toddler had (I know, lucky him!) was incredible. Industrial may have slightly had its day in the hipster stakes but this restaurant pushes it into the current milieu with clever use of materials mixing luxe light fittings and stylish furniture with an industrial surface wall where the patina has been perfectly contrived. Where do you like to go, are there any design dining experiences that inspire you?
15 Battersea Square, London SW11 3RA. Website.