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i know i have a few other shop local blog posts up, but thought it would be great to compile my definitive – and ever-growing – list in one central space, to serve as a directory of my favourite independent artisans, curators, makers (and shakers) in the city.

this list comprises all the physical bricks-and-mortar stores that i love, with a list of further local designer/makers you can shop from online coming soon.

moth

if there were ever an interiors store i’d happily just move straight in to, then moth on burton road in west didsbury is most definitely the one! owned by stylist and interior designer hazel marchant, moth has a beautifully curated edit of scandi boho design pieces that remind me of many of the dreamy australian design brands i’ve long coveted from afar on instagram. the whole store has the most wonderfully serene atmosphere with an organic eclectic twist that makes you want to pause awhile and just breathe in the beauty of it all. it’s even better if toy poodle monty is around to greet you with endless cuddles and excitable joy!

154 burton road, manchester m20

form lifestyle store

tucked away down a side alley between oldham and lever streets in the northern quarter, form lifestyle store may not be the easiest to stumble upon, but is definitely one worth going out of your way to hunt down. the form ethos is to champion slow-living, and this is reflected in store owners elly and harry’s thoughtful approach to buying; choosing to buy fewer, well-considered products that have been built to last and will take pride of place in your home. housed in an architecturally striking listed building, the store also plays host to regular intimate workshops led by many of their makers and other local creatives, including screenprinting, calligraphy and dumpling making! you can read my secret city interview with elly & harry here.

6 bradley street, manchester m1 

Object

neighbourhood design store object had been on my radar as one to watch long before i moved to manchester. founded by husband and wife team rachael and alex otterwell, this small but dynamic store has a charm that extends far beyond its fantastic edit of menswear, womenswear and objects for the home. supporting small independent business is at the heart of object’s ethos, and all of their pieces are sourced directly from designer makers who have often been discovered via instagram and pinterest, to ensure an edit that feels fresh and unique. whilst the shop space is fairly small, it packs in a lot of beautiful scandi and californian inspired design pieces, and plans are afoot for a new expanded premises later in 2019!

519 barlow moor road, chorlton m21

fred aldous 

fred aldous is a veritable aladdin’s cave full to the brim with just about every kind of arts and craft product you can imagine. far from feeling stuffy though, the space is large, bright and cavernous, although every aisle is full to bursting with its wares. catering to all kinds of artistic pursuit, from traditional hobbies such as painting, model-making and knitting, to more obscure, niche pursuits such as laser-cutting, lampshade making and basketry. founded in 1886 as a basket-selling business during the height of the cotton mill era, the store has been handed down through five generations yet still feels fresh and contemporary, remaining a hub for the artistic community of the city.

37 lever street, manchester m1

nordic muse

nordic muse moved into their new home at hatch on oxford road in mid-2018, allowing founder jenny maxwell the chance to expand her product selection from her own-brand jewellery collection into a streamlined edit of contemporary and unpretentious nordic design brands. the space may be small, but its packed with hugely giftable items that are all so reasonably priced you won’t feel the pinch if you decide to duplicate your purchases and treat yourself at the same time! you can read my secret city interview with jenny here.

hatch, 103 oxford road, manchester m1

beaumont organic

stepping into beaumont organic is like stepping into a little oasis of calm among the hubbub of manchester’s northern quarter. specialising in luxury casual garments made from natural, organic materials, beaumont organic’s first bricks-and-mortar store is full to the brim with gift ideas for the ethical shopper, that extend beyond the brand’s own-label contemporary easy-to-wear fashion pieces, to include locally produced ceramics, naturally scented candles and handmade one-of-a-kind artisan homewares.

49 hilton street, manchester m1

rose & grey

having started as an online-only business, rose & grey opened their bricks-and-mortar showroom on an industrial estate in altrincham a couple of years ago, offering an eclectic mix of furniture, lighting, kitchenware and decorative accessories, including an extensive selection of wonderfully lifelike faux plants. there’s a definite vintage flair mixed with contemporary elements in store, marrying the natural wood and exposed brick of their warehouse location with splashes of vibrant colour, industrial accents, and scandinavian charm. there’s also a dedicated corner of the showroom for you to enjoy a cup of coffee, pore over swatches, chat with the team and get inspired.

31 atlantic street, altrincham, wa14

porter+cole

a super stylish lifestyle store meets coffee and wine bar, porter+cole is a great place to stock up on christmas gifts whilst also enjoying a masterfully crafted coffee or a large glass of vino after a hard day’s work. located on the edge of the northern quarter, right next to popular food hall mackie mayor, this is the place to dash in to for a last minute gift that looks considered and beautifully thought out. there’s a refined edit of table and glass ware from many of my favourite scandinavian design brands (think broste copenhagen and house doctor), presented alongside an array of stylish stationery, luxury chocolate and sleek beauty brands.

124 high street, manchester m4

nola

new to the northern quarter in summer 2018, nola is the second outpost for the brighton-based boutique, offering stylish clothing, footwear, jewellery and accessories with a focus on considered modern design. they’ve recently opened up the second floor of their port street store, showcasing select homeware pieces from nordic brands such as skandinavisk, hk living and claystreet, to complement their stylish edit of fashion pieces downstairs, from the likes of selected femme, marimekko and kings of indigo. there’s also beautifully illustrated chocolate bars from edinburgh-based coco chocolatier, and perfectly scented candles from boy smells.

54 port street, manchester m1

idaho

located directly opposite the market hall in altrincham’s stamford quarter is quirky interiors and gift store idaho, which takes its name from the american state origins of the western cedar wood that gives the shop a warm, welcoming feel and lovely heady scent. founded by interior stylist amy bartlett, idaho stocks a colourful array of decorative homewares, ceramics, stationery, gift wrap and cards that make this the perfect place for finding an unusual gift for that difficult-to-buy-for person. there’s an emphasis on work from small designers and brands from europe and the states, with natural skincare from meraki sitting alongside organic linen aprons and woven basketware, plus unique jewellery designs from the likes of datter industries and marta pia.

56 greenwood street, altrincham

all photography © kate baxter, aka fabricofmylife 

The post shop ’til you drop appeared first on fabric of my life | UK interior design, lifestyle & travel blog.

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i think i’ve made eating my way around manchester’s vast and extensive selection of cafes and restaurants my ultimate mission in life. in putting together this round-up i’ve been scrolling back through my photostream, vividly recalling each fabulous meal (both the food and the company!), which can only really be a validation of why i feel compelled (like every other milennial, lol) to take snaps of my food before eating.

i’m going to put together a few meal-specific round-ups shortly (brunch, sunday roasts etc.) but to start with i’ve compiled the top ten places i keep going back to, because if my repeat business isn’t validation enough of their place on this best eateries in manchester list, i don’t know what is!

evelyn’s cafe & bar 

if there’s one place i mention to everyone who asks for a foodie recommendation in the city, it’s evelyn’s. designed by ian haigh, central design studio, this neighbourhood restaurant takes its cues from all-day eateries in the likes of williamsburg and melbourne, offering a laid-back vibe with lots of natural hues and plenty of greenery. the menu is an innovative, eclectic fusion, with plenty of antipodean and indonesian influences; their ricotta pancakes with honeycomb butter are widely regarded as the best in the city (at least by my friends), and the taiwanese fried chicken roll (pictured) is legendary. i’d also heartily recommend the crab & shrimp burger, and would certainly suggest a perusal of the g&t menu.. spruce pine & plum, anyone?

4 hilton street, manchester m4

federal cafe bar

antipodean coffee bar federal will shortly open a second outpost of their popular cafe down on deansgate, which is happy news indeed to all who throng to its current tiny premises near shudehill. their brunch menu – and in particular the avocado toast – pulls in both locals and tourists from far and wide, and i can certainly see why! as well as the aforementioned smashed avo, there’s corn fritters, banana bread with mascarpone and vibrant acai bowls, all packing in the flavour whilst being beautifully presented, and therefore hugely insta-worthy. the coffee, from kiwi-founded ozone roasters, is also damn fine too.

9 nicholas croft, manchester m4

oké poké

i swear i’ve been to oké poké for lunch at least once a month since they opened in summer 2017 and still haven’t moved past the first dish on the menu, it’s that good! bringing the finest hawaiian street food to the northern quarter is the mission, and i can honestly say i’ve not found better in any of the major cities i’ve visited. comparable to a deconstructed sushi bowl, poké offers a healthy and flavourful alternative to an everyday lunchtime salad, and options range from the classic ahi with tuna (my go-to) to lomi lomi (quinoa/salmon) and a tofu-tastic vegan option. you can also opt for a pokérito – essentially a large sushi roll – and wash it down with one of the fresh smoothies, protein shakes and juices on offer.

59 church street, manchester m4

leaf on portland street

leaf on portland street is the manchester outpost of liverpool venue on bold street. a tea café at it’s heart – offering over 60 varieties of loose-leaf tea – leaf is set in a large, airy, cavernous space over two floors, with a menu that takes you right through breakfast – with an excellent vegan fry up – to lunchtime sandwiches and soups, then afternoon tea and (plenty of vegan) cake. it’s not all about the tea though; the space plays host to plenty of cultural gatherings and activities, with their basement area often given over to workshops, exhibitions and performances. it’s a space that has a continual buzz to it, but where you can while away an afternoon happily uninterrupted (save for top-ups on your tea), with your nose in a book, or perhaps even penning your own bestseller.

113-115 portland street, manchester m1

the pasta factory

i think you really only come across the pasta factory through word-of-mouth in manchester. housed in a former bank near shudehill, the exterior is unassuming and logo so garishly nineties that you would be forgiven for walking straight past and not giving the restaurant the culinary time of day. but you’d be wrong. the pasta factory offers a truly authentic italian dining experience and once inside, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were at a family trattoria on your holidays. the menu offers a range of traditionally hearty and light freshly flavoured options, and their vegan spaghetti verde con crema di zucchine is simply to die for, topped with their homemade vegan parmesan which can be bought in jars (in bulk if you’re like me) from the deli at the front.

77 shudehill, manchester m4

noi quattro

sister to the pasta factory, noi quattro is a traditional pizzeria italiano on the outskirts of the northern quarter, which opened late in 2018. following the proper neopolitan tradition, pizza is cooked in a wood oven built in napoli  for less than 90 seconds, although the dough starts life two days earlier and is made using a very low percentage of yeast and slowly fermented, making it really easy to digest. alongside a wide range of traditional pizza offerings, including several vegan options, noi quattro also serve o cuoppo; a traditional italian street food served in a cone-shaped paper comprising potato croquettes, vegetables, courgette flowers, mozzarella bocconcini, and zeppoline (fluffy balls of dough), all cut and fried in a light batter. trust me, this dish is worth the visit alone!

120 high street, manchester m4

19 cafe bar

a hugely popular brunch spot in the northern quarter, 19 cafe bar is a laid-back, unassuming coffee shop offering delicious pancake stacks, open bagels, eggs benedict and classic english fry-ups featuring what might arguably be the best sausages in the city (so i’ve been told). coffee is from local roasters heart and graft, and the vibe is distinctly nq meets brooklyn, with exposed brick walls, bare bulbs, large open bar and plenty of raw pallet wood. on a nice sunny day it pays to grab yourself a spot at the window to do a bit of people watching, but if there’s a group of you then the snug booths to the rear of the restaurant feel intimate and cosy.

19 lever street, manchester m1

elnecot

first recorded in 1212, “elnecot” was the original name for the area now known as ancoats, where present-day neighbourhood bar & kitchen elnecot is located, serving up small plates of deliciousness. opened in late 2017, and named ‘best new restaurant in the uk’ at the british restaurant awards 2018, it’s a sleek industrial-style space with a 44ft concrete bar that runs into an open kitchen, long communal dining bench tables, orange upholstery and an abundance of neon lighting. chef michael clay’s menu revolves around locally sourced, seasonal produce, divided into nibbles, balls, meat, fish, veg and afters. i’ve been a couple of times now and have thoroughly enjoyed every dish ordered, but would particularly recommend the aubergine & mint balls, pork belly with savoy kimchi, pig head croquettes, oh – and whatever you do, be sure order a side of the lemon & thyme roasties!

41 blossom street, cutting room square, ancoats, manchester m4

sugo pasta kitchen

there’s a second pasta place claiming a spot on my top manchester eateries list, and it’s sugo pasta kitchen. with a firmly established legion of fans at their altrincham home base, sugo opened their second manchester outpost just up the road from elnecot last year, within the emerging foodie mecca of ancoats. specialising in southern italian pasta dishes using pasta delivered fresh each week from the ligorio family in san vito, puglia, their signature orecchiette dish with slow cooked beef shin, pork shoulder and nduja ragu won plaudits from my dining pals when we visited, while the strozzapreti with fresh devonshire crab, san marzano tomatoes, fennel and chilli that i tucked in to was exquisite. i’m already craving another visit soon!

46 blossom street, ancoats, manchester m4

bundobust

on the fringe of piccadilly gardens, down a staircase to a large, bright basement, you will find one of the worst-kept secret dining spaces in manchester. bundobust is an indian street food restaurant, offering entirely meat-free – and largely vegan – dishes, that are fresh, flavourful and incredibly affordable. dishes are no more than £6 a pop, while at lunchtime (or dinner, if you’re manc) you can get two for £7. the basement is awash of vintage tiling and desi film poster, with long communal dining tables running down either side. your food arrives in bio-degradable polystyrene trays and disposable paper pots, while the cutlery is eco-friendly vegware. the okra fries, coated in chickpea batter and seasoned with black salt & mango powder, are sublime, while the massala dosa – mini rice pancakes filled with a cauliflower & potato dry fry – is my main go-to order.

61 piccadilly, manchester m1

all photography © kate baxter, aka fabricofmylife 

The post eating my way round town appeared first on fabric of my life | UK interior design, lifestyle & travel blog.

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i’m not quite sure how it happened, but somewhere along the way i became a candle collector.

it wasn’t really a conscious decision. as a blogger i’m lucky enough to frequently be gifted candles from some of my favourite lifestyle brands, and over the years i’ve amassed an enviable selection of beautifully packaged and exquisitely scented candles that gather in curated huddles in many corners of my home.

there’s a reason so many brands choose to have candles as part of their product offering, and why gifting them forms an integral part of their marketing campaigns. creating a signature scent is the perfect way to capture the essence of a brand in a way that visuals and words cannot. scent transcends the barriers of language and the limitations of aesthetics to connect with an audience on a deeper, far more personal level: the faintest whiff of fragrance has the power to transport you to another geographical location, or a different time.

i’ve attended fragrance workshops before – notably with experimental perfume club and when i visited grasse – so when i was invited along to a candle-making workshop with earl of east london at their new coal drops yard home near kings cross, i knew i had to say yes! i’ve always been intrigued by the process of candle creation and how the different scent layers are incorporated, and given that earl of east london create some of my favourite candle scents, knew they would be the best people to learn from.

bonds is a space for  independent brands, creators and makers originally formed in hackney in 2017, who have built a whole community surrounding the earl of east london brand, based on the concept of making bonds. the original hackney outpost is tucked down a quiet side street between london fields and hackney central, small and cosy and inviting, with a coffee bar at the front and small candle workshop to the rear. as whole-hearted believers in the power of physical retail spaces in today’s ever-increasing digital world, bonds are at the forefront of accessible multi-concept retail thinking, prioritising community, connection and collaboration. their new space at coal drops yards is merely an extension of their hackney home, in the heart of a new retail complex full of destination brands and independent dining venues; a place where “art, commerce and culture come together.”

i’m naturally a sucker for any concept store that brings coffee to the fore, and the moment you walk into bonds’ light and airy store you’re greeted by a prominent coffee counter and the scent of freshly roasted beans. the adjacent shelves are stacked with an array of lifestyle products from ferm living, kinto, sans[ceuticals] and frama, a bounty of magazines, and – of course – an extensive selection of earl of east london candles.

at the back of the store is the scent lab, where the magic really happens! there is a regular schedule of beginners candle-making workshops held here, offering the perfect environment to get to grips with your favourite scent profiles and blend your own bespoke candle fragrance. my session was led by candle maker robyn, who joined the earl of east london team after taking part in a beginners workshop herself a year or so prior, and falling in love with the process.

alongside a group of fellow bloggers, she introduced us to individual scents and asked us to consider our own favourite smells and the memories they evoked. then we stepped inside the tiny ‘scent lab’, where we daubed paper sticks with the essential oils we were most drawn to, before heading out into the more neutral scent space of the store to see how we could best combine our selection to create an appealing blend.

i always find myself drawn to warm, woody fragrances with a hint of spice, and those with fresh but earthy top notes. the aromas of rosewood, green fig, soft leather and cedar all called to me, and of course i knew i had to work a bit of ground coffee into the mix too!

it helps to have a ‘destination scent’ in mind when layering your palette – memories of a particular place, a moment in time, or a specific person – but just combining your favourite scents can also work equally well, which is what i ended up doing. robyn helped me to adjust the quantities of oil needed for each layer to create a harmonious balance across the various layers, which were then poured into the hot candle wax and gently whisked to combine. once poured into the candle container, the cotton wick was secured with a wooden clothes peg and set aside for a day or so to set fully.

my final creation, which i’ve naturally named fabricofmylife, is a candle which combines all the ‘scents of my life’ into one warm and inviting fragrance to infuse the fab flat with. it’s been wonderful to light in the early evening when i’m sat on the sofa watching telly, and have its comforting aroma waft around me. it’s definitely a scent that makes me feel cosy and relaxed – just as i’d intended – and the scent lingers for a long while after the flame has been snuffed out.

have you ever created your own bespoke scent before, whether as a fragance, candle or otherwise? let me know in the comments below, i’d love to know which smells you’re most drawn to!

my candle making session was provided free of charge as part of a press event experience, but all opinions and photography are my own. 

bonds, coal drops yard, stable street, kings cross, n1

The post follow your nose appeared first on fabric of my life | UK interior design, lifestyle & travel blog.

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this guide has been a long time coming as, believe me, i’ve drunk a lot of coffee and consumed far too much cake since i first arrived in the city two years ago!

sometimes when i head into town i’m at a total loss as to where i want to end up, there are that many great coffee houses to choose from. but i’ve whittled down my absolute faves here and, whilst this list will no doubt evolve and expand over time, can hand on heart say that whichever of these you choose to visit, you’ll be greeted with a big smile and a steaming mug of quality coffee, and plenty of delectable cake options to choose from as well.

enjoy!

hampton & voúis

located just across the road from the majestic town hall, hampton & voúis offers one of the best window seats in the city for people watching in my opinion, and happily have fantastic coffee and a wide range of sweet treats (from local bakery trove) to provide the perfect accompaniment to the activity. their house coffee blend is hand-roasted by buxton roastery, while their sleek minimalist interiors have been designed by one half of the founding duo, niko voúis. great coffee aside, i’ve also lost count of the number of people who’ve told me i have to try their whole spice chai latte, it’s that good. i have, of course, and can attest to it being every bit as good as they say!

31 princess street, manchester m2

grindsmith bridge street

there are three outposts of manchester-based coffee roasters grindsmith across the city, but the newest opening on bridge street is definitely the one to make a beeline for. while their media city café (my local) has an exquisite stained glass window, the facade of the four-storey building in which the new opening is housed is awash with a beautiful, colourful, floral mosaic that even on the greyest of manchester days is mesmerising. inside, the brilliant white, almost lab-like interior is punctuated with caramel-coloured leather seating, and vibrant neon signage. with a firm emphasis on sharing the craft, ritual and passion for coffee, grindsmith offer a wide range of speciality coffees, as well as breakfast, brunch and lunch menus.

62 bridge street, manchester m3 

pollen sourdough & viennoiserie bakery

i never made it down to pollen‘s former home under the railway arches of piccadilly, but since their relocation to the waterfront of new islington marina i’ve been making regular pilgrimages across town to savour their incredible homemade pastries and legendary sourdough. their premises at cotton field wharf are light and airy, with textured concrete walls juxtaposed by light plywood furniture for a classically scandinavian vibe. i usually shun dairy, but will always make an exception for one of pollen’s amazing sourdough pastry cinnamon buns; all crisp and flaky and sugary. coffee is served in sleek ceramic cups by jono smart, and if you’re lucky you’ll be greeted by adorable fluffball maru (a chow chow) at the front door.

cotton field wharf, 8 new union street, manchester m4

idle hands

idle hands is “not just for those who enjoy drinking, tasting and making coffee, but those who enjoy discussing and researching it.” it’s definitely my go-to in the city when i want to enjoy a long black coffee, as opposed to a (non-dairy) milk-based one, although they do those damn well too. there’s a regularly rotating brew bar offering filter coffees from roasters from around the world, hand brewed on v60 or aeropress. the interior is light and airy, with plenty of plywood and an abundance of greenery, while at the counter you will always find a good selection of pies on offer; the (vegan) cherry pie is certainly one i can vouch for!

35 dale street, manchester m1

just between friends

just between friends is a coffee shop recommendation i like to keep just between friends (haha), because it’s such a tiny gem of a spot! serving up single origin coffee from brixton roastery assembly, which is one of my faves, the interior of the shop features a low, wide window seat with a couple of stools, and three hexagonal tray tables that hinge from the wall to offer an expanding range of seating. on warmer days the front window is pulled back to really open the tiny interior up, whilst there is also a ‘secret’ internal courtyard just behind the cafe (part of the freemount pub) where you’re able to sit with your coffee and feel secluded from the hustle and bustle of the city outside.

56 tib street, manchester m4

siop shop

from humble beginnings baking doughnuts in the basement of northern quarter bar common, siop shop (aka blawd) opened their first premises on tib street last year to much acclaim. the spacious corner café feels refreshingly fun and down-to-earth, with mismatched furniture, eclectic wall art from a selection of local artists, and a vibrant green counter by manchester design studio you &i. the coffee is good, of course, but what you’re really there for are the doughnuts. there are daily vegan offerings – the glazed ring is a personal fave – alongside tantalisingly tasty sounding options like caramel custard, rhubarb & pistachio glaze, and  peanut butter glaze with peanut & chocolate crumb. yum!

53 tib steet, manchester m4

trove

trove, levenhulme’s acclaimed bakery and cafe, opened in ancoats late in 2018, bringing with it their legendary sourdough loaves and simple, seasonal grub. as one of the most popular suppliers of baked goods to many of manchester’s central cafés, trove’s own outpost has distinguished itself by offering a wonderfully serene atmosphere in the up-and-coming ancoats area. set within a light, minimal, scandi-styled space – with triple height windows that let the light flood in on even the grimmest of days – everything is made by hand in-house, using locally sourced and organic ingredients. quality coffee (allpress) also plays a huge part in their menu, from flat whites to v60, served in ceramic cups by local artisans little torch.

5 murray street, manchester m4

atkinsons

located within bustling foodie mecca mackie mayor, atkinsons is a speciality coffee roasters and tea merchants established in lancaster in 1837, who are now sourcing, roasting and brewing some of the highest quality coffees from around the world in manchester’s bustling northern quarter. housed within mackie mayor’s 1858 grade ii listed marketplace, atkinson’s occupies one corner of building and has it’s own external entry, meaning it can open earlier in the day than the main market.  the menu offers an ever evolving range of seasonal, single-origin coffees, and there’s even a vintage uno coffee roaster on the premises, dating from 1919, which has been lovingly restored and operates once a week for production roasting.

mackie mayor, 1 eagle street, manchester m4

all photography © kate baxter, aka fabricofmylife 

The post but first, coffee (& cake!) appeared first on fabric of my life | UK interior design, lifestyle & travel blog.

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time is a funny thing. it almost feels like just yesterday i sat down to pen my first post here, and yet it also feels a million years ago.

it’s crazy how much has changed in the past decade. how much i have changed. how much the concept of blogging has. i look back and barely recognise either. when i first started there was no concept of blogging as a vocation. there was no instagram. no pinterest. i created this blog before i had a twitter account.

looking back on posts from that first year, the content would nowadays live on those other platforms. my first posts were simple snapshots of my life that would now be posted to instagram. inspirations snaps from my favourite stylists, brands and photographers that i’d now pin. themed etsy picks which would take hours to select and arrange in a grid. and flickr faves on a friday.. ahh, flickr faves! most of these posts are archived now, for a number of reasons, but a few remain for posterity.

back then i was a freelance styling assistant, still at home with my parents, and not working nearly as much as i needed to be to sustain a living in london. my then-beau was just about to relocate to scotland for a year for his masters and i knew i needed to create something in the world that was mine. an outlet for my creativity, and focus for all this extra time i was about to have on my hands. i posted every single day in the first six months, and pretty much every day in the next. sometimes even twice a day, because i hadn’t quite grasped the concept of scheduling content. i had maybe a hundred people a day viewing my site – which seemed incredible! – and many of them were fellow bloggers who left comments and encouragement, and in turn introduced me to new places, artists and photographers through theirs. most of the blogs i read back then were australian and american (most sadly defunct now). in those early days i didn’t really come across many uk blogs that shared my aesthetic or ethos (which was a little more dreamy boho than now, although i’m cycling back around again!).

in december 2010 something crazy happened. fabric of my life was listed in the times’ online’s top 50 design blogs in the world. my blog views spiked and my tiny little corner of cyberspace, where i quietly did my own thing, suddenly felt under attack. i felt pressure to really up-my-game and be worthy of this listing. i had a major wobble, and then pulled myself together and embraced the moment for what it was – an opportunity to develop and grow. i spent more time crafting my posts, reviewing my copy, improving my photography, (re)teaching myself html. continuing to connect online with people on the opposite side of the world who influenced and inspired me in ways they will never truly know.

my blog’s first birthday coincided with my first ‘professional’ solo styling gig at grand designs live, and the absolute worst personal day i’ve ever experienced, for totally unrelated reasons. on what should have been a truly joyous day – and from the staged birthday photos shot with my baking beauty bestie in her sunny garden a few weeks earlier looked to be – i was totally knocked for six and almost sent entirely off-course. in fact, i did widely veer but in the end only to a better, far more incredible path than i could ever have dreamed of before. my knowledge of the blogging world at a time when it was still in its infancy landed me an internship at a pr agency that would go on to employ me for five years, helping me move quickly through the ranks to manager and establish a career path on which i still tread. i’d be remiss not to send a special shout out to my gal alex loves here – now founder of hip activewear site fashercise – for being my rock and inspiration that summer, and every year since.

alongside my new ‘day job’ my blog also flourished, as the blogging scene in london developed and i began to connect with like-minded individuals in real life – shout outs to the og blogging crew without whom i wouldn’t still be inhabiting this little corner of the internet: daniel nelson, will taylor, carole king, arianna trapani, katie treggiden, pippa jameson, stacey sheppard, jo thornhill, andrew dunning. you guys will always be my faves.

if 2010 was the worst year of my life (it was), then 2012 was hands-down the best. a year of immense opportunity was kick-started by the amazing blogtour nyc led by modenus, which saw 15 uk and us bloggers hosted by an array of design brands in new york city during the architectural digest show. it was a bit of a watershed time for blogging – certainly in the uk and in interiors (always a few steps behind the fashion world) – and what followed were a couple of years of incredible travel opportunities for me.

since then i’ve continued to work with incredible brands, meet amazing people, and travel to places i could never have imagined visiting on my own. i was lucky enough to be invited to morocco (twice), johannesburg, belgium (antwerp, brussels and ghent), france (nice, val thorens and paris), spain (fuerteventura and madrid), sweden, norway, doha, rhodes, munich, basel and copenhagen, and these amazing trips offered me the chance to see the world in ways i would never have been able had i not sat down at my desk and started writing all those years before.

so much of my ‘life experience’ has come as a direct result of my decision to start a blog 10 years ago today and it totally blows my mind whenever i stop to truly think about it. how much i’ve gained in my life – and i’m talking relationships and experiences here, not financial gain – through that fateful decision, and all the blood, sweat and tears that went in to every post thereafter.

so much has changed in the blogging world since i began, and i think its crucial we keep the core values that sustained us in those early years alive to ensure the joy and authenticity of the craft continues to shine through. my content has evolved so much in the ten years i’ve been posting to my corner of cyberspace and i find it so cathartic to scroll back through my posts from years ago and see how much my own personal style – both written and visual – has evolved.

blogging, first and foremost in it’s purest form, is an online diary of one’s life. i may not share content in the same way i did when i first started but i’ve always remained true to posting content that feels valuable and authentic to me, at that moment in time. i’ll forever be grateful for the hard work i put in all those years ago to get things off the ground, of the leaps of faith i took along the way, learning when to say yes and when to say no, and for all the skills i’ve gained by putting my mind and focus to something that brings me so much joy on a daily basis.

that you guys continue to read is the icing on the cake.

thank you so very very much to each and every one of you, whether you’ve been here every step of the way or are just now joining along for the ride; every post view, comment, social media mention means the world to me. bonus points for those of you who remember white fonts on black backgrounds (eek!), fluorescent yellow accents, teacups filled with buttons, and all those other design decisions i now look back on and cringe, haha.

for me, blogging has always been about three core values: community, support, and celebration. i’ve always aimed to shine a light on the people, places and projects that are inspiring to me and hope to continue doing so for many years to come. as i’ve moved north from london to manchester my content has shifted to focus on the incredible wealth of talent, community and spaces i am finding around me, both in the city and further afield, and hope that you are enjoying this new content direction – there’s definitely plenty more to come! i may not be blogging every day as i was in the beginning, but fabric of my life is still always at the forefront of my mind – i’m forever snapping photos, spying opportunities and plotting the next post. there’s about a trillion (slight exaggeration, but only slight) posts in draft right now that will – fingers crossed! – go live over the next month or so, so watch this space!

it feels fitting to sign off this post with a little bit of love for those who have been a constant inspiration for me through the years – a few since the very beginning, others later on, but all never failing to inspire and delight with their authenticity and creativity.

huge shout-outs to: 

bright.bazaar: a guy who never ceases to amaze me with his relentless pursuit of the most creative and inspirational content out there, whilst remaining true to his own unique style and voice. will was one of the first friends i made in the blogging community, and while his blog has gone on to become one of the biggest in the world, he remains down-to-earth and humble, and always makes time for friends and followers alike.

dear designer: carole and i met back in 2011 as part of the original design blogger’s collective meet-ups in london and became firm friends after an amusing trip to amsterdam for the inaugural meet the blogger conference. carole is someone who is fearless in embracing new ideas, opportunities and technologies, and as the co-founder of the uk’s first digital interiors magazine, heart home, is a huge inspiration when it comes to defining what you can achieve, if only you have the drive and passion to believe.

arianna’s daily: co-founder of heart home with carole, arianna rounds out my trio of blogging besties. she is hands down one of the best people to have around – always full of laughs with an ability to light up an entire room – and is another inspiration for reinvention at any age. her career has evolved over the past decade, from interior designer to magazine editor to fashion influencer and now life coach, and every time she has embraced reinvention head-on with immense honesty and huge success. a great listener and empowerer of all those around her, i’m so excited for the new path she is embarking on, and can’t wait to hear news of the first life coaching retreat she is running in tuscany next month.

atelier tally: what can i say about daniel? he’s the catalyst that helped bring all my design blogging pals together way back in 2011, when he was working at mydeco. since then he’s become a great friend and business partner, helping me make the leap from agency staffer to director at october comms and then supporting my move to a freelancer working from manchester. his blog, which also recently celebrated the ten year milestone, is for all those true design geeks out there focusing on the minute details that make a quality product last. he’s now launched a podcast – design confab – on which i was a recent guest, chatting all things blogging with fellow october comms alum, emma jane palin.

emma jane palin: ahh, ejp! i’ve all the love in the world for this girl because not only is she a truly inspirational and unique content creator, she was also my absolute rock whilst working at october comms. she’s someone who always has your back and takes no bullshit, supporting all those around her without reservation that doing so might tarnish her own shine. she’s a firm believer in community and collaboration, and always thinks outside the box to create incredible campaigns, both on her own channels and for her clients.

wishwishwish: carrie’s blog is one of the first uk fashion blogs i started following back in 2010 and her content continues to amaze and delight me. i feel that in an ever changing blogosphere, carrie’s content remains right at the forefront – unique and true to her – and while her style has changed over the years, the evolution has felt natural and honest. her posts retain all the good qualities of the posts i enjoyed back then, reading like a visual online diary, albeit with far glossier pictures and more exotic locations! it’s one of the only blogs i really make time to sit down and work my way through, for travel and style inspiration and plenty of visuals to add to my pinterest boards.

i want you to know: alongside carrie, kristabel’s content has been a firm fixture in my blog reading schedule and she’s another one who still produces consistent and authentic content i look forward to reading. i met kristabel in the summer of 2011, when she had just returned from a fashion internship in new york, and was immediately captivated by her big smile and larger-than-life personality. her blog has evolved over the years to become an honest and refreshing online space, dedicated to demystifying the crazy world of blogging and exploring how we can create a more inclusive world for all. her posts on race and identity are intimate and thought-provoking, while her travel posts never fail to capture the heart and soul of the places she’s visiting, with hilarious anecdotes and gorgeous photography to boot.

cate st hill: cate’s blog is my go-to for simple scandinavian design inspiration. her feed is a calm oasis of muted greys, greens and taupes, and she consistently unearths all the very best design finds from across the globe that support this clean, minimal aesthetic. she’s someone i’ve had the pleasure of travelling and attending many a workshop session with, and has the keenest design eye of anyone i know. there’s whispers that she may have a podcast on the horizon and i certainly hope that’s the case – as well as being a fount of design knowledge she also has the most soothing voice that you can listen to for hours, as any regular viewers of her instagram stories can attest!

these four walls: abi is one of the kindest souls in the interiors blogging community and is a constant supporter of all those around her working hard to carve out their place in cyberspace. her own corner is a haven of all things simple and considered, calming colours and relaxed living. underpinning everything is her belief that good design should be accessible and liveable as well as beautiful, and that we should all take time to slow down and savour those little moments of simplicity and serenity that make daily life all the more enjoyable. i couldn’t agree more!

susannah conway: susannah was one of the first content creators i truly engaged with when i started out on this crazy journey. back then i found a huge amount of inspiration via flickr, which is where i came across susannah aka ink on my fingers. i was immediately captivated by the way she wove words and imagery in such an honest almost-romantic way, and connected with her far more deeply when i discovered her creative journey was steeped in the fire of bereavement. her work – and later her online courses – taught me how to navigate my own life journey, heal my own heart, and live my own self-directed life.

who are your favourite bloggers these days? are there any you’ve been reading religiously for years? let me know who should be on my radar below!

The post now i am ten appeared first on fabric of my life | UK interior design, lifestyle & travel blog.

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when you grow up in london you’re used to having incredible heritage architecture on your doorstep, but having moved north i’ve been delighted to discover a wealth of spectacular victorian, georgian and neo-gothic buildings to discover. 

as i began exploring the city many people told me about the beauty of victoria baths, and i had the pleasure of discovering the venue for myself last year when i attended the manchester gin festival with lovely ladies clare, rebecca and laura. naturally we spent a huge amount of time poking our noses into every room possible and ogling the spectacular array of period features – namely the stunning tiles, mosaics and stained glass – as well as the adorable changing stalls that line the swimming pool!

so when tile giant got in touch recently to let me know they had released a new collection based on the beautiful tiling of these baths i was really excited to see what they had created..

the victoria baths collection is inspired by the grade ii listed edwardian swimming pool and turkish baths complex that first opened in 1906. described as manchester’s “water palace” – we had one of those in croydon when i was a kid, but it was not the same at all, haha – victoria baths provided spacious and extensive facilities for swimming, bathing and leisure, and was described as  was described as “the most splendid municipal bathing institution in the country.”

officially closed in 1993, since then its part-restoration has enabled the space to remain open to the public as a heritage visitor attraction, events venue and a location for many tv and film productions, including cold feet and peaky blinders. the long-term aim is to reopen the building back to its former glory, so i’m delighted to see that tile giant are contributing a percentage of each tile sold from the range back to the victoria baths trust.

our designers spent time on site at victoria baths to soak in the very best in this classic british design. when you walk through the doors of the baths, you are transported to another era of elegance. the edwardian design and architectural inspiration of this new range will mean that homeowners will feel a sense of stepping into history while maintaining design that translates into modern day living. ~ james heese, managing director, tile giant 

the collection features 50 new tiles in a variety of colours, styles and sizes, with each design paying homage to the originals at victoria baths through details such as bevelled edges and crackle glazing for that authentic aged appearance. the rich colour palette reflects that of the pool and turkish baths, and includes a wonderful array of deep blues and greens, turquoise, black and grey, with patterns and relief texture that harks back to a nostalgic, bygone era. eager to see the pieces in the flesh, tile giant sent me a number of samples for me to play around with in my home and create a few fantasy mood boards, imagining how i might incorporate these tiles into a bathroom makeover, should i not be living in a rental property (woe is me..)

first up, a vibrant playful bathroom scheme based around the spectacular terrazzo floor tile. of course terrazzo is having a real moment just now as a current decor trend, but these are almost faithful reproductions of tiles that were laid at victoria baths over a hundred years ago – yet feel entirely contemporary.

for the bathroom walls i imagine oat tiling a third of the way up the wall, broken by a crackle bevel mustard tiled border, while the remainder predominantly oat as well, with a haphazard colour pop of aqua tile every now and then – fun, no?

i’ve brought in a few malin+goetz toiletries to reflect the modern urban feel of the tiles, and couldn’t resist sneaking a little yellow ducky into shot too – can you blame me? i also had to include this beautiful bamboo toothbrush which i picked up at form lifestyle store recently; i love that it is not only sustainable and organic, but naturally antibacterial too.

tiles from top: victoria baths field victoria aqua, victoria baths crackle bevel mustard, victoria baths field victoria oat, victoria baths terrazzo floor tile

tiles from top: victoria baths ironworks wall decor 1, victoria baths linear border victoria white, victoria baths field victoria black, victoria baths field victoria white

a more sophisticated mood board up next, inspired by the edwardian scroll detailing of the ironworks wall decor 1 tile, which i’d use to tile a statement splashback around the basin. the rest of the room i’d tiled in black and white, with a white linear border a third of the way up the wall, to create an elegant and stylish vibe. i’d bring in a little additional colour by painting the woodwork in a similar pale green-y blue hue to the tiles, to help tie everything together.

accessories-wise i’ve brought my new favourite scent into the space in the form of skandinavisk’s new hav – distant shores range. scandinavian for ‘sea’, hav evokes the sense of the vast nordic coastline, where the cold baltic and atlantic waters touch the peninsula, and the fresh wind and sea spray carry the the resilient scent of rugosa rose and hawthorn from the shoreline.

possibly my favourite look – although it’s hard to pick between them – is based upon the alluring beige glazed ironworks field stone tile. i love the rough, weathered look to the tile and gentle matte finish which make it unassuming in it’s beauty, but stunning none the less. i’d tile an entire floor with these, with the walls in field oat, and add a border in crackle bevel vintage green. this vibrant, almost emerald, green shade is definitely my favourite hue from the heritage swimming pools and whilst i’m not brave enough to embrace it all over my bathroom i wonder if a feature wall behind the bath might be a great idea..? i’m not entirely sure how i’d work the crimson bevel in but i love the shade and how well it works with the green, so am open to any and all suggestions for my hypothetical renovation project!

i’m totally in love with frama‘s sandalwood, cedarwood and ylang ylang handwash at the moment, and feel the warm, woody fragrance would pair wonderfully with this moodier, yet opulent, vibe. i’ve also worked in a lovely slubby hammam towel i got from urbanara aaages ago, plus a black savon de marseille soap i picked up in grasse a few years ago, which i love the look of far too much to actually use..!

tiles from top: victoria baths ironworks field stone, victoria baths crackle bevel vintage green, victoria baths field victoria oat, victoria baths crackle bevel crimson

the final look i’ve pulled together is inspired by the ironworks wall decor 2 tile, which is a less fussy version of the wall decor 1 tile above. again, this look has a classic elegance to it which i’d enhance the introduction of a soft peachy paint hue on the woodwork, with a colour pop accent of soft blue to pull out the subtle shade of the patterned tiles. these crackle bevel tiles in smoke grey are truly beautiful – i’m thinking a splashback for the basin in these, with the patterned tiles being used on the wall and floor around a roll top bath..

tiles from top: victoria baths ironworks wall decor 2, victoria baths field victoria grey, victoria baths crackle bevel smoke grey, victoria baths field victoria white

what do you think – are any of these beautiful tile designs calling to you for your next renovation project?

this post is in collaboration with tile giant but all opinions and photography are my own. imagery of victoria baths © victoria baths, used with permission. 

victoria baths, hathersage road, chorlton-on-medlock, manchester, m13

The post victoria baths appeared first on fabric of my life | UK interior design, lifestyle & travel blog.

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i’m not quite sure how it happened, but somewhere along the way i became a candle collector.

it wasn’t really a conscious decision. as a blogger i’m lucky enough to frequently be gifted candles from some of my favourite lifestyle brands, and over the years i’ve amassed an enviable selection of beautifully packaged and exquisitely scented candles that gather in curated huddles in many corners of my home.

there’s a reason so many brands choose to have candles as part of their product offering, and why gifting them forms an integral part of their marketing campaigns. creating a signature scent is the perfect way to capture the essence of a brand in a way that visuals and words cannot. scent transcends the barriers of language and the limitations of aesthetics to connect with an audience on a deeper, far more personal level: the faintest whiff of fragrance has the power to transport you to another geographical location, or a different time.

i’ve attended fragrance workshops before – notably with experimental perfume club and when i visited grasse – so when i was invited along to a candle-making workshop with earl of east london at their new coal drops yard home near kings cross, i knew i had to say yes! i’ve always been intrigued by the process of candle creation and how the different scent layers are incorporated, and given that earl of east london create some of my favourite candle scents, knew they would be the best people to learn from.

bonds is a space for  independent brands, creators and makers originally formed in hackney in 2017, who have built a whole community surrounding the earl of east london brand, based on the concept of making bonds. the original hackney outpost is tucked down a quiet side street between london fields and hackney central, small and cosy and inviting, with a coffee bar at the front and small candle workshop to the rear. as whole-hearted believers in the power of physical retail spaces in today’s ever-increasing digital world, bonds are at the forefront of accessible multi-concept retail thinking, prioritising community, connection and collaboration. their new space at coal drops yards is merely an extension of their hackney home, in the heart of a new retail complex full of destination brands and independent dining venues; a place where “art, commerce and culture come together.”

i’m naturally a sucker for any concept store that brings coffee to the fore, and the moment you walk into bonds’ light and airy store you’re greeted by a prominent coffee counter and the scent of freshly roasted beans. the adjacent shelves are stacked with an array of lifestyle products from ferm living, kinto, sans[ceuticals] and frama, a bounty of magazines, and – of course – an extensive selection of earl of east london candles.

at the back of the store is the scent lab, where the magic really happens! there is a regular schedule of beginners candle-making workshops held here, offering the perfect environment to get to grips with your favourite scent profiles and blend your own bespoke candle fragrance. my session was led by candle maker robyn, who joined the earl of east london team after taking part in a beginners workshop herself a year or so prior, and falling in love with the process.

alongside a group of fellow bloggers, she introduced us to individual scents and asked us to consider our own favourite smells and the memories they evoked. then we stepped inside the tiny ‘scent lab’, where we daubed paper sticks with the essential oils we were most drawn to, before heading out into the more neutral scent space of the store to see how we could best combine our selection to create an appealing blend.

i always find myself drawn to warm, woody fragrances with a hint of spice, and those with fresh but earthy top notes. the aromas of rosewood, green fig, soft leather and cedar all called to me, and of course i knew i had to work a bit of ground coffee into the mix too!

it helps to have a ‘destination scent’ in mind when layering your palette – memories of a particular place, a moment in time, or a specific person – but just combining your favourite scents can also work equally well, which is what i ended up doing. robyn helped me to adjust the quantities of oil needed for each layer to create a harmonious balance across the various layers, which were then poured into the hot candle wax and gently whisked to combine. once poured into the candle container, the cotton wick was secured with a wooden clothes peg and set aside for a day or so to set fully.

my final creation, which i’ve naturally named fabricofmylife, is a candle which combines all the ‘scents of my life’ into one warm and inviting fragrance to infuse the fab flat with. it’s been wonderful to light in the early evening when i’m sat on the sofa watching telly, and have its comforting aroma waft around me. it’s definitely a scent that makes me feel cosy and relaxed – just as i’d intended – and the scent lingers for a long while after the flame has been snuffed out.

have you ever created your own bespoke scent before, whether as a fragance, candle or otherwise? let me know in the comments below, i’d love to know which smells you’re most drawn to!

my candle making session was provided free of charge as part of a press event experience, but all opinions and photography are my own. 

bonds, coal drops yard, stable street, kings cross, n1

The post follow your nose appeared first on fabric of my life | UK interior design, lifestyle & travel blog.

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we all deserve a little bit of pampering every now and then.

there was a time when i’d have considered a trip to a beauty salon both a little indulgent, and generally reserved exclusively for towie-wannabes. i think i’d just not come across the right salon before. and now, now i most definitely have!

smuk is a new breed of salon championing beauty, inside and out, which doesn’t just apply to people but the whole salon experience, from the staging of the interior environment to the eco credentials of the products used, the range of organic refreshments offered and overall sense of ambience and wellbeing. opened in belgravia in march 2018 by danish entrepreneur miabella ristorp, who has over 15 years experience on the international beauty scene, smuk has been designed to offer a unique space that customers can trust for all their beauty needs, with a focus on the natural look and sustainability. that last part is key for me, as someone who has always associated beauty salons with layers of cake-like make-up, garishly long talons, big hair-dos and you’ve-been-tango’d tans!

i was introduced to smuk via a chance meeting at one of my favourite london design destinations, skandium, so knew this was going to be a very different type of salon experience even before i set foot in the space. as you enter the wonderful world of smuk you’re immediately immersed in a scandinavian design lover’s dream; a light and airy space filled with sleek modern classics from danish design brand menu, including anita johansen’s align daybed, rotterdam-based studio wm’s string lounge chair and theresa arns’ septembre sofa.

while you recline in the hyggeligt waiting area, surrounded by an abundance of beautiful coffee table books, tea and coffee are offered up in beautifully tactile ceramic cups by copenhagen-based potter ditte fischer, in a range of gentle pastel hues. this is certainly a place you can imagine happily spending plenty of time, quietly waiting for your colour to take, your nails to dry, or a friend to finish their treatment.

i’d been invited along to have my nails done – something i’ve only ever treated myself to a handful of times in my life (pun probably not intended). smuk use kure bazaar nail lacquer for their manicures and pedicures; an eco-natural formula that uses up to 85% natural materials, including wood pulp, wheat, cotton, potatoes and corn. beautifully presented on two three-tier slate stands, there are a wide range of shades to choose from – including a few more outlandish ones for the daring amongst you (hello carioca!) – with many centring around the perfect shade of red for different skin tones, as well as various nudes. whereas i usually end up opting for the only vaguely neutral shade on offer, i thought i’d push the boat out for once and instead chose a wonderfully named shade of dark red: scandal.

i’m not entirely sure how i’ve not ended up with a better photo of my finished nails than the one below (snapped against insidestore‘s gorgeous charlie oscar patterson mural), but let me assure you they looked great, and the colour lasted almost an entire week – far longer than i’ve managed to sustain a manicure before without chipping!

i’m definitely keen to head back soon to try one of the other beauty treatments on offer at smuk, which include hair treatments, massages, facials, acupuncture, waxing and tanning. all of their services are designed to enhance your own natural beauty, using natural, toxin-free products from brands such as vita liberata, oribe, amazing space and kjaer weis.

how often do you treat yourself to beauty treatments at a salon? i’ve been trying to shift my mindset lately and genuinely carve out more time in my schedule for looking after myself, considering the financial cost of beauty treatments in terms of the nourishment and wellbeing value they add, and not simply discarding them as a frivolous, unnecessary indulgence. i’m definitely more inclined to spend money on massage and other overall body treatments that promote relaxation having experienced the benefits in recent months, and while i’m probably not going to start treating myself to regular manicures (because i can reasonably adequately paint my own nails), i’m intrigued to try a proper pedicure next, because – shock horror, all my friends were utterly amazed – i’ve never actually had one before!

so, better get my next trip to smuk booked in, stat!

 my manicure was provided free-of-charge for the purpose of this review, however all opinions and photography are, as always, my own. 

smuk london, 20-21 eccleston yards, london sw1w 

The post you are beautiful appeared first on fabric of my life | UK interior design, lifestyle & travel blog.

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i met romulus sim, aka studio romuu, at foundation coffee house in the centre of manchester’s northern quarter, during the first week of his debut print exhibition there.

specialising in line drawings that celebrate architectural elevations, detail and geometry, all of the pieces rom has on display have been inspired by his first-hand experience of the buildings, both from a personal and architectural perspective. when i ask him to pick a favourite, he quickly hones in on manchester’s (decidedly wes anderson) midland hotel – my personal favourite too – for a very touching reason: it’s where he got married, several years ago. although the marriage may not have lasted, he’s still drawn to the edwardian baroque architecture of the hotel’s grand facade, designed in the early 1900s by charles trubshaw, full of sweeping arches, balconies and sculpted panels – it must have been an absolute joy to sketch!

having studied architecture at the university of manchester, rom now works at a architectural practice in the city by day, while spending his evenings and weekends working on his architectural draughting. he’s only recently started selling his work online, but has already received multiple orders and bespoke commissions from his growing instagram audience, which gave him the push he needed to pull together his first exhibition at foundation.

running from 4 feb – 1 mar, the exhibition features many timeless architectural icons including the arc de triomphe, eiffel tower, big ben, st. paul’s cathedral, trellick tower, andrewes house at the barbican, and the aforementioned midland hotel. all are available to purchase from the coffee house (and posted out next day), but if you can’t make it along don’t worry – all are available via rom’s website too. he’s also open to  commissions and has produced a number of bespoke cultural landmark designs for clients, as well as drawings of private homes. perfect for any architecture or minimalism geek (uh, hello!), rom’s drawings make a great gift to commemorate a special occasion, first-time meeting or your favourite spot in a cherished city.

a strong purveyor of sustainable art, all of rom’s drawings are printed on responsibly sourced, archival quality art paper, and packaged in acid-free recycled tissue and eco-friendly art tubes.

as a long-term manchester resident i thought rom would make the perfect candidate for my next secret city q&a! read on to find out his top tips for exploring the city..

rom, studio romuu

how long have you lived in greater manchester, and whereabouts are you based?

15 years and counting! i’m currently based in the lovely suburb of prestwich, but have mostly lived in the city centre during my time here.

what drew you to the city initially?

the buzz and perks of a big city like london, without the price tag, which means i don’t have to sell one of my kidneys to own a place here.

what’s your favourite thing about the city?

the grit and raw charm of the city’s industrial heritage.

best place for a morning cuppa?

oh this is hard! either foundation or ezra & gil.

favourite place for a design-fix?

this is more an art-fix but the whitworth gallery is both a stunning building to visit architecturally, and always holds amazing exhibitions and installations.

can you share an insider’s secret spot you’ve discovered in the city?

not a secret but i love the little back streets that spur off dale street which often remind of 1930s new york. i also love grub at fairfield and their plant powered sundays.

favourite way to spend a weekend in the city?

i’m quite the over-caffeinated city boy and will always love checking out a new café, bar or food venue and trying out a new cuisine (i’m quite adventurous with food so will try anything at least once). i love a pop-up event/festival, and visiting a good exhibition. when the weather is nice it’s sometimes lovely to get out of the city for walks. heaton park is great in the summer, and day out in the peaks is always brilliant!

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i’m always excited to see swedish furniture retailer ikea launch new collections that tap right into the heart of current living trends.

i continue to be excited by the plethora of biophilic elements bringing nature into our homes, and with the forthcoming tänkvärd collection – featuring materials such as rattan, cotton, linen, jute, and seagrass – ikea delve straight into the zeitgeist for a more sustainable, and nomadic, way of living. much like the cult success of the stockholm 2017 collection (and that rattan cabinet!) i think ikea are onto another winner here!

being strategic and purposeful about your purchases – whether for the home or otherwise – is a key ingredient to a sustainable living ethos, and now more than ever it’s important to consider the materials and styles you opt for. all the furniture pieces in the tänkvärd collection are made of rattan, and are light and easy to move around the home to be used in a number of different ways. working with natural fibres, not least rattan, also means that no two products in the collection are exactly the same; the material has a life of its own, which in turn creates unique expressions, championing individuality over conformity.

all items in tänkvärd have been designed with sustainability and flexibility in mind. these are products that you can mix however you like, and bring with you to the beach or the park if you want to. – mats nilsson, creative leader

i also adore the effortless, casually styled imagery that accompanies the collection, reminding me of the evocative look books from perennial slow fashion favourites toast, evoking the warm languid atmosphere of a spanish or tuscan villa. the whole vibe immediately promotes a sense of calm and wellbeing, don’t you think, and encourages you to slow down and get back in touch, with yourself, and with nature.

the textiles especially have been styled to present a wonderfully tactile quality; i mean, don’t you just want to jump headfirst into that beautifully disarrayed bed and while away an afternoon in the dappled sunshine with a good book in hand? i read somewhere (although sadly can’t remember where!) that indigo blue was ‘out’ for 2019, but i couldn’t agree less. blue is always in in my book, and happily ikea agrees, with this vibrant yet peaceful shade strewn across the tänkvärd collection. it’s a hue that lifts the soul i feel, instantly transporting me to the coast, beside the calm, still waters of a vast and limitless ocean. it’s a colour that speaks to me of hope and positivity, and i think we can agree that we can all use a little bit of that in our lives just now.

“we’ve explored lots of different techniques”, says designer akanksha deo, who drew on her experience working with artisans in india when designing the textiles. “by integrating the beauty of handicraft into a mass production process, each product gets added character. we’ve tried to create textiles that are tactile, honest, and accepting – so you’ll want to keep them with you for years.”

what do you think about this new limited edition collection – will you be clamouring to get your hands on any of the key pieces when they launch?

tänkvärd will be released in selected uk stores in april 2019.

 all photography © ikea 

The post worth considering appeared first on fabric of my life | UK interior design, lifestyle & travel blog.

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