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It’s been a while since the last Weekly Window Shop, hasn’t it? And I have no idea why, because I’ve been spending just as much time as usual looking at stuff online, creating fantasy furniture wishlists and obsessing over items of clothing that are a) inappropriately expensive and b) absurdly irrelevant to my current life situation. I mean, am I really going to wear a faux snakeskin pencil skirt and over-the-knee suede boots to drop Angelica at pre-school? Never mind the fact that I have to park the car on a grassy slope and then wade through a quarter mile of overgrown meadow.
But I have to say that – for the last six months at least – fashion shopping has been entirely overtaken by interiors shopping. And the interiors preoccupation of the month, this month, is pattern.
(photo: House of Hackney x William Morris, Heart Home Mag)
More specifically dark, dramatic, floral pattern. The sort of thing you’d expect to find in a Dickens novel – Miss Havisham’s parlour, perhaps, or the boudoir of a successful East End Madam.
(photo: House of Hackney x William Morris, Heart Home Mag)
It’s part gothic, part romantic, bold but at the same time rather pretty. And ooh, so sexily enticing! It’s what you’d expect to find lining a secret corridor in a castle on the windswept moors, it’s peekaboo bras in the time of Jack the Ripper. It’s candle wax dripping down the necks of empty absinthe bottles and floorboards creaking in the middle of the night.
(floral wallpaper from the brilliant Ellie Cashman here)
Where was I? Back in the room, Crilly! Wallpaper. I’m deciding on wallpaper for the bottom loo, and I’m thinking of going down this “Floral Noir” kind of route, but it has completely throwing me off-kilter for the rest of the house. Because the more I see images of amazing rooms with loads of clashing prints and eclectic collections of furniture – that very boho, rock chick, arty sort of vibe – the more I keep thinking, wouldn’t it be great and daring to do a room like that! Look at designer Pearl Lowe’s dining room, for example:
The walls are adorned with fantastic House of Hackney wallpaper (FYI, Pearl is actually bringing out her own wallpaper range soon with Woodchip & Magnolia, info here) and the striking clash of furniture, art and objects manages to feel cosy-stylish rather than alientating-stylish.
But my own house, at present, couldn’t be further from this – it’s all Farrow & Ball paint in shades of white and grey. And if I started on crazy dark patterns in one room then would I have to continue it through the entire house, like a kind of pattern disease? Would the singular dark patterned room look like a mistake?
I’ve come to the conclusion that lots of pattern just isn’t very me and perhaps I should just stick to using it in the bottom loo! I love the darkness and the huge prints in other people’s homes – I like looking at it – but I’m worried I’d find it overpowering and stressful in my own house. I love the idea of dark patterns – wood furniture looks amazing against it, so does brass, so do huge, velvety curtains – but when I think about the sorts of clothes I wear, it’s all neutrals and relatively safe stuff with the odd mad bit of print or colour thrown in. So how would I cope with being surrounded by pattern all around me, all the time? Would I crave the elegant simplicity of the neutral wall? I don’t know…
At any rate, it’s not a decision I should be making now, when we still don’t have sofas, a dining room or a functioning office for Mr AMR (sofas are on order, dining room needs to be built, functioning office is filled – literally from floor to ceiling – with boxes that need to be unpacked) so for the moment I’m going to satisfy myself with decorating the downstairs loo and, whenever I get a spare minute, staring at House of Hackney wallpaper sample sheets in a daydreamy sort of way.
(above: House of Hackney Limerence wallpaper, here)
So, the fantasy window shop then – here are my top picks of the darkest, most romantically dramatic accessories and prints. Please do send me your photos if you happen to be won over by anything you see and decide to adopt it into your interiors scheme – I need to live vicariously through you.
Let’s kick off with the brand who inspired this post – indeed my entire sense of longing for sexy, dangerous print. It is, of course, the aforementioned House of Hackney. You’ve most likely seen their Palmeral design:
But it’s the florals that have really been keeping me awake at night, wondering what Mr AMR would say if he came home one day and the entire house looked like a crazy botanical experiment. Vines and blooms all over the walls, perhaps on the curtains too and – hey, why not? – the odd lamp…
(above: House of Hackney Midnight Garden wallpaper, here)
I’d have any of them in my hallway at the drop of a hat – it’s a surprisingly dark space, considering how big it is, unless you open all of the doors that come off it. Which is a no-go, because Mr AMR is a Doors Closed Fanatic and comes out in hives if any door is left even fractionally ajar. If there was one place other than the loo that I’d plaster in Floral Noir, it would be the hallway.
But let’s take it all down a notch and think about curtains rather than walls. Slightly less daunting but no less fantastical is this Morris & Co fabric:
At £84 per square metre it isn’t the most budget-friendly thing to make curtains from but blimey, it would make a statement! There’s something a bit Henry VIII about it – I can imagine it as a tapestry hanging in the long gallery, Anne Boleyn rustling past in a fury, her massive skirts whipping up dust from the floor. Or, y’know, as bedroom curtains in the modern world. Take a look at them here* on John Lewis to see the print to scale.
And what if you don’t want dark pattern on the walls, or even on the windows? Let’s move to the floor, which is a brave move, but one that can pay off in rather a spectacular way. Check out this amazing carpet from Brintons in my (ex) dining room:
The rest of it is a work in progress (Mr AMR is campaigning for it to be a snooker room when it’s supposed to be a music and grown-up reading room, which has been my dream room to have for about twenty years) but the carpet is just magnificent. It’s the Ruskin Noir by Timorous Beasties for Brintons** and I’m so glad we took the plunge and went for it. It’s like having art on the floor! (Sidenote: Timorous Beasties do the most incredible prints for wallpaper and fabric – look at their website here, it’s very special.)
But all of these things – wallpaper, curtains, carpet – signal a significant level of commitment and financial outlay. Same with sofas – you can get some fabulous fabrics to upholster (or reupholster) in, but it’s quite a hefty decision if you’re going for something very bold. Are there any options for those who just want a hint of Dickensian drama? A touch of Floral Noir?
Well yes, there are. Rockett St George have these gorgeous cushions online at the moment – I thought they’d be great with a jumble of other styles on a sofa or bed, if you wanted to take a little foray over to the dark side. I love this Pink Peony Velvet cushion:
and they also have a Peony and Moth version that looks like it could have come from a gothic heroine’s drawing room:
And then this is a little bit of an interiors coup:
the print on this Zara Home Tree of Life duvet set is just fabulous and looks far more expensive than it actually is. Prices start at €59.99 for the single set and go up to €79.99 for the superking – you can find it online here.
Add your own dark florals findings in the comments section, if you have any; I’m all in a tizz for them at the moment! Dark florals and also bees, weirdly. In fact bees may have to be the next Weekly Window Shop…
**I received a discount on my carpet, Brintons are using the pictures for marketing and press material.