Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed by world events? Poverty in Africa, endless wars in the Middle East, corrupt bankers, religious fanaticism, natural disasters? It was Sport Relief that set me off this year. How on earth in 2014 with all the resources at our disposal can we still have malnutrition, malaria and misery in so much of the world? Of course we all sent donations. Who could not? And a record amount of money was raised but the feel good factor created by an excellent programme would not take away my despair at our global incompetence.
It started me thinking of my student days. Later than the sixties though they were, it was still a time of change and I embraced the causes of my day and demonstrated, protested and sat in with the best. I also, in the course of my studies read the famous satire, Candide, and was unsettled by what seemed to me at the time, a self-centred and defeatist conclusion.
Candide was written by French philosopher Voltaire in 1759 as a satire against the prevalent philosophy of Optimism. The hero, Candide, travels throughout Europe and South America with his tutor. On their travels they experience natural disasters, man’s inhumanity to man, scandalous atrocities commited in the name of religion; it is a world corrupted by power, money, sex and violence. The tutor attempts to explain that all the events are for the best, but when Candide eventually limps home he concludes that his only way forward is to stay at home and “cultivate his garden” .
Over the years I have of course acquired some wisdom from experience and my views of what individuals can achieve on a global level have slowly ebbed away. I even feel sorry for politicians, heaven forbid. They start off with ideas of changing the world only to realise that their most noteworthy achievement is the tweaking of some failing policy which amounts to nothing more than crisis management.
So has my experience made me a pessimist? Not exactly. I am however changing my view of Voltaire’s philosophy. Even over 250 years after Candide was written, we do not seem to have made any progress. The themes Voltaire chose, religious hypocricy, financial and sexual corruption, exploitation of women, natural disasters are all still with us and are not likely to go away anytime soon.
So rather than sitting here musing futilely about the pointlessness and hopelessness of the world, I could do a lot worse than take Voltaire’s conclusion totally literally. The garden is crying out to be cultivated! In fact I would start digging right now if it wasn’t raining so maybe I will just order that garden bench to enjoy looking at the things I can and will change rather than beating myself up about those I can’t.
Liz Higginbottom writes 'Topical Tuesday' for Inside Out There. Liz is an ex French teacher turned copywriter, currently writing from the South Lakes.
This week I welcomed a fellow northerner to the Out There Interiors team. Natalie Daye has recently relocated from Manchester and has joined Amy and Louise on Sales Support. Natalie is a Mancunian through and through and as I grew up about 20 miles west of Manchester I can already hear her accent rubbing off on me. It won't be long before I'm expressing how mad for it I am.
I thought it would be fitting to welcome a fellow Lancastrian to the team with a bunch of cotton flowers. I have seen these gorgeous natural things everywhere recently (perhaps due to a rise in winter weddings?) and I love them! I think they are the ideal January home accessory, perfect for adding some (much needed) interest to a room once the Christmas decorations have been packed away. They're fluffy and pretty and best of all, they don't die! What's not to love?
But there's one big problem: I can't find them. Anywhere. Does anyone know where I can get my hands on them?
Today we (finally) moved office! Unlike most people I love moving days. I don't even mind the lifting and the cleaning. The excitement of a new space trumps everything.
We have moved to the building next door - an old cow shed which has been transformed over the past year. I'll be doing a 'before and after' post once we have finished the decor (so many plans)! but for now, here's a few pics of the move itself.
It was a wet and early start.
And we had a lovely open space to fill.
I am so excited to have a shower in the new office! Lunchtime run here I come.
A Sunday or two ago (sorry I've had the flu) I went to Home London. Alone. It was the first trade show I have been to without my business partner, and no dout the first of many as our roles within Out There Interiors become more and more independent.
I wouldn't usually go to a trade show on a Sunday. In my opinion Sundays are for long runs, Harris and Hoole coffees and early evening rose. They are not for washing hair, donning patent mary-janes and struting around Earls Court.
But this Sunday was different for two reasons. Firstly, I had a new member of staff starting on Monday and didn't want to be out of the office. And secondly, Justyna Sowa from Decorum Media was talking on social media and I believe in almost everything she and her business partner Charlotte have to say.
So I dragged myself (via rail replacement bus services - that’s dedication for you) to the show ready to see and learn lots of new stuff. Here are my favourite bits of this year's show:
Button Fly Decoupage Furniture. I loved this company's dark and decadent stand.
I am head over heels in love with these quirky side tables. Soon to be available on Out There Interiors.com perhaps?
Reclaimed Pendant Lamps from La Catcha
Black peacock chair. (For those who don't know I have been searching for this chair like this to supply on Out There Interiors for a long time. But sadly there was no one on this stand for me to talk to)! Fail.
Last Friday was a pretty amazing day. It began with a fancy three course lunch with the 'sisters' from Sister Snog, a lavish women's business club I recently joined. From there it was cocktails followed by the theatre.
In keeping with my New Year's Resolution my partner and I went to The Union Theatre in Southwark and saw an improvised show by a company called Music Box. It was pretty fantastic. Five brave actors take to the stage with absolutely no clue what they are about to do. Scenes and skits are plucked from thin air and from suggestions from the audience. Although often chaotic the sheer randomness of it is very entertaining.
In the bar beforehand we were approached by a couple of the actors and asked to write a sentence each to be used in the performance. Feeling like a naughty school kid I scrawled the following:
My partner wrote a similar sentence and (thinking we were hilarious) we entered the theatre and took our seats. After half an hour or so the compere announced that they would be creating a scene from the audience's sentences, so we got our iphones out:
At the end of next week Out There Interiors will be moving into a new office. For those who don't know, we are based on a converted dairy farm next to the M40. One of our warehouses features an internal building and the upstairs of this building is where we have resided since moving in in 2011.
We moved to the farm in the early stages of its conversion, and the landlord is still busy renovating the other buildings on site (one of which is a huge 50,000 square foot barn - one day perhaps)? But the one we have had our eye on is the tumbledown outbuildng next door. The transformation of this building has been pretty spectacular and I can't wait to put together a 'before and after' post. For now though, whilst we are still awaiting the finishing touches, I wanted to indulge in a few interior design ideas...
Out There Interiors, current office
I went for a crazy pink cow print floor when putting together our current office. Much as it is fun I have to admit that I kind of regret it. Everyone looks at it when they enter which means they instantly see the dirt which is walked in everyday. It's a nightmare to keep clean which means I am constantly scrubbing it or apologising for the mess (usually the latter). The other reason I regret it is that we are a furniture company, and really our office furntiure should be the talking point rather than one of my personal off-the-wall purchases.
So, I opted for a more sensible floor in our new office. A nice oak effect laminate. Obviously I wanted real oak but one is not made of money darling. We also have wooden farm-style doors and 2 iron beams (which I intend to paint 'Out There' purple).
I didn't let the electrician leave before he fitted me a wire in the centre of the room. I'm still deliberating on which chandelier to choose, but I think this industrial yellow beauty will compliment the space nicely.
We love children. But if you leave them in our office they will be sold to a circus. Love this print? It will soon be available on Out There Interiors.com.
The Plasma Screen.
For the chill out zone I intend to install a big wall mounted plasma screen. Perfect for zoning out on a lunch break or showcasing new products to customers.
Although it is rather noisy next to the M40, we do have French doors leading to a small garden area. I plan to install a couple of our Jaliyah hanging garden chairs and a rattan sofa set...although I may have to decide on that in the summer.
It recently came to my attention that we have a surprising amount of blue furniture springing up at Out There Interiors. I do the vast majority of the buying so this has surprised me somewhat. I'm not really a blue person. I love pink (surprise surprise) and purple ...and green...and yellow, but blue? When did this happen?
As I looked through the blue pieces on offer I realised that these pieces speak for themselves. It may not be my favourite colour but when you combine interesting shades with beautiful pieces lovely things happen.
Here's a run down of my favourite January blues:
Blue Eames Rocking Chair
The pastel blue fibreglass of this Eames style rocking chair is perfect for a child's bedroom or adding cool contrast to mid century decor.
Blue Nordica Chandelier
Chandeliers don't get more fabulous than this royal blue beaded beauty. It adds dynamic ethnic interest to a hallway or stairwell.
Rustic Teal Table
I love this distressed table finished in deep teal. Perfect for dishing up, or grabbing a quick bite in a rustic style kitchen.
Blue Industrial Wall Cabinet
Heavily distressed blue always works, and this raw hallway cabinet is no exception. Reminiscent of a factory locker it will add instant industrial cool to your hallway.
It's my birthday today. I won't say how old I am, but I will say it's one of those annoying ages you'd rather not be. A lot of people think that a birthday this close to Christmas is a bad thing, and in some ways it is. It often gets forgotten as it turns up just when everyone is settling back into normal life, and as everyone is still recovering financially and physically from the festive season it's difficult to drum up enthusiasm for a night out.
But I love the timing of my birthday. Predominantly because it is close enough to the New Year for each year of my life to feel like a completely new phase. The eight days between New Year's Day and my birthday give me time to evaluate what I want out of the next year of my life, plan some things and get excited about what's to come.
This year (amongst other things) I have decided to get more tattoos. I love tattoos. I don't have many but the ones I have are my own personal pieces of art and I enjoy the whole process - choosing an artist, creating the design, even having it done. I suppose it appeals to my creative/adventurous side.
If you want a tattoo I don't think it's helpful to think too deeply about it. Previously I have spent a long time thinking about meanings but in my experience these meanings fade quickly, and in the end it's important just to love the picture.
This year I am considering getting a piece of furniture tattooed. I obviously love furniture and it's a huge part of my life, so why not? Here's a few ideas I have had so far:
Image via stylemepretty.com
I think I will almost certainly have a chandelier tattooed this year. This one is relatively simple, very similar to our Erin chandelier but has been decorated with flowers and chains. Gorgeous!
Image via etsy.com
I love eagle mirrors. We used to supply one here at Out There Interiors but it was discontinued by the manufacturer a couple of years ago. I will definitely find a new one at some point...
Image via hemmahosselma.blogspot.com
A vintage looking Louis chair is also a possibility. I love the flowers on this one.
Image via aestheticshelter.com
As you can see from the Out There Interiors Pinterest Board I have an obsession with this type of chair. I picked one up on a French flea market last year for 14 Euros! Mine isn't as fancy as this one above which is just perfect. We are yet to supply one on Out There Interiors which is another mission for this year.
Image via honeypielivingetc.blogspot.de
A Venetian mirror frame is very likely. I love the details in this vintage one in particular.
So. Good idea? Or do you think I'm crazy? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Finally. Want to see the worst furniture related tattoo ever created?
I recently went for a meeting on London's South Bank. It's one of my favourite places in the capital and more so than ever a few weeks ago when it was lit up by a magical Christmas market. I wandered around the South Bank Centre and National Theatre looking for a place to park myself and my laptop for the day, and whilst doing so instantly decided on my New Year's Resolution: To go to the theatre more.
The theatre has a special place in my heart as I was an actress before starting Out There Interiors. I wasn't particularly successful, although did make a small living touring with various theatre companies and working on the Fringe. Having spent almost ten years in the wonderful world of interiors my past life as an actress feels very much like, well, a past life.
As an actress you go to the theatre a lot. You're forever being invited to the shows of friends and colleagues but when I left the profession I just stopped going. Such a mistake! I've spent a bit of time looking up the places I want to revisit and have come to realise that I remember the buildings and decor much more than the shows I watched. (Perhaps this is why I now run Out There Interiors rather than grace the stage at the Royal Court). I remember the quirky, Off-West End venues in particular. Here's a few places I am determined to get back to this year:
The Pleasance Theatre, Islington
The Pleasance Theatre is one of the first places I must get back to. Mainly because the bar is great! I also love the way it's tucked away in a back street sandwiched between two buildings. I would kill to live in a space like this. Imagine if that was your private courtyard. The stuff of dreams!
The Courtyard Theatre, Hoxton
I can't for the life of me remember when I went to the Court Yard Theatre, or indeed what I saw. I do remember this fabulous space. This picture sums up the excitement of a night of Fringe theatre for me. You are literally on top of the action.
The Union Theatre, Southwark
The Union is my favourite London theatre for two reasons. The first being that I had my biggest part here, the lead in a fabulous play by Bridget O'Donnell. (You can read about it here). The second reason is the sheer quirkiness of the venue. Tucked away under a Southwark archway hidden behind a cafe, it has an adorable bare brick bar and bucket loads of charm.
The Shunt Vaults, London Bridge
Last year Clerkenwell Design Week held an exhibition in The House Of Detention - a fabulously spooky underground prison. It reminded me of an off-beat performance I saw in the cavernous vaults under London Bridge Station. Sadly the company who ran these events (Shunt) have since moved on, but I am determined to see theatre in equally fascinating spaces this year.
The Menier Chocolate Factory, Southwark
A small theatre based in a fabulous 19th Century Chocolate Factory in Southwark. I remember this venue for its quirky bar and restaurant . Rustic wood and iron furniture give it a relaxed oldy-worldy European charm.
The Arcola Theatre, Hackney
I haven't been to the Arcola but it sounds right up my street. It is based in Hackney and is described as an intimate, grungy venue. The few pictures of the bar I have seen are enough to intice me. White painted brick and coloured lights are always a winner!
There's obviously loads more fringe venues in London. Probably a lot I have visited and forgotten. In light of my passion for quirky buildings and interesting interiors, where do you recommend I go?
A friend shared these images with me this morning and I have been obsessing over them ever since. If you happen to share my passion for French furniture, secret rooms and vintage treasures you will no doubt be equally fascinated.
The pictures are of an abandoned Parisian apartment. The owner, a young woman named Mrs De Florian fled to the south of France before the outbreak of World War II and never returned, leaving it untouched for 70 years. She died recently at the age of 91, and the executors of her Will uncovered an Aladdin's Cave hidden under seven decades of dust:
I was already hooked, but then the story got better.
In the living room amongst a wonderfully preserved collection of treasures which included a stuffed ostrich, an exquisite dressing mirror and vanity table hung a painting of a woman in a pink dress...
The muse turned out to be the owner's grandmother Marthe De Florian, aged 24. She was an actress, socialite and exceptional beauty with a long list of admirers one of which happened to be 19-century Paris' most prized portrait artist, Italian Giovanni Boldini. The expert who made the discovery said his heart skipped a beat when he saw it.
Any doubts about the authenticity of the painting were distinguished when a love letter from Boldini was found within the apartment, neatly tied with pink ribbon.
The painting went to auction and fetched £1.78 million.
Big Brother is back and we were asked to supply several items for the new house which has an eco-chic theme. The designers have done an amazing job. Ornate mirrors and replica Tolix chairs work in harmony with reclaimed doors, wine glass chandeliers and industrial lamps. The piece de resistance? Our storage cow in the kitchen area.
We are aware of an issue with our telephone lines since we moved offices last week. Apologies if you have experienced any abnormalities when calling us over the past few days. We are doing our very best to rectify the issue. In the event of a problem please persevere or email us and we will call you on an alternative line.
This is Poppy. She was beaten and starved by her previous owners but has just been given a new life by our customer service manager Kate. She now joins us on the farm everyday and can't stop wagging her tail. We're loving having a new member of staffie!
A gorgeous room for you to look at on Lovely Room Thursday this afternoon.
We saw this fabulous interior in Living Etc Magazine several months back and just had to post it for you. It is the definition of eclectic and therefore perhaps not to everyone's taste, but we absolutely love it here at Out There HQ.
Read on to hear why we love it. We'd absolutely love to hear your comments too.
This week: Eclectic Wonderfullness
Want to view more lovely rooms? Visit our Pinterest Boards for a bucket load of eye-candy.
We thought it'd be nice to show you some of the faces behind Out There Interiors, so here's a short interview with Liz Higginbottom, one of our most dedicated part-timers.
Liz has worked diligently in the background at Out There Interiors for almost three years. She dabbles in accounts and order entry and is currently writing descriptions for our fabulous new ranges of rattan garden furniture.
The nature of her work allows her to live in The Lake District in the winter and France in the summer. Alright for some!
Here's what she had to say about working at Out There:
Hi lovely people. This is the first post in a series to be called Ugly Room Tuesday. We think it'll be fun to showcase some of the world’s ugliest interior decoration, whether outdated, incompetent or downright lazy. In contrast, on the 24th of May will publish the first post in a new series call Lovely Room Thursday, which will showcase some of the post fabulous rooms we have seen this year. A ying and yang of interiors if you like. Hope you enjoy!
There really is nothing worse than tacky decorations which appear in abundance at moments of national celebration, and although I avoid them like the plague, I can't help but feel just a tad square when I attend the Union Jack sponsored BBQ that my happy-go-lucky friend throws, rain or shine every St Georges Day.
I've never been particularly patriotic, nor am I a royalist. But I am an interiors addict.
And for someone who appreciates colour, pattern and aesthetics, it would be impossible (and quite frankly wrong) for me to disregard some of patriotic accessories which have appeared on Out There Interiors.com over the past few months:
A quick techincal update folks. Our Sales Support Dept are currently fighting with cables and screaming at techies as they have lost internet connection in the office. (This has taken down the VOIP phones). We know how annoying it is when you can't get through to a company, so our sincerest apologies for this. Any voicemails left on the support line will be answered as soon as they are back up and running.
Last week we visited Charlotte Berry. Charlotte used to manage our ordering and stock control but left us last year to spend more time with her two little girls. We popped in for a cuppa and had a nosey around her pad. Here's what we found...
The princess chest has pride of place in the girls' room. We've been selling this item for years but we fall in love all over again whenever we see her in the flesh.
Our tea was served in retro typography mugs. Wonder where she got those from? (click read more for images).
Propped up in the play room we found a glorious pink gloss mirror. This was a one-off which Charlotte 'acquired' from the warehouse, but we're seriously thinking about supplying them again now...
Barney the rabbit was rescued from a grotty little petshop in Enfield in March 2007, two days before Out There Interiors was born.
He has been a friendly face in our showroom over the years and had a particular love our our brightly coloured mirrors. (The picture says it all). We are all devastated to have lost him yesterday evening to kidney failure.
Goodbye Barney, you little stud muffin. We'll remember you always. Enjoy the ladies in rabbit heaven.
We were so exhausted from this night back in December that it's taken us until February to upload the images. The photos all have designer blur (perhaps due to the copious amounts of Bucks Fizz we consumed during the evening) but we think they look pretty nontheless.
In December the little village of Chalfont St Peter (where our showroom is based) shuts the high street for the evening and holds a street fair. Literally thousands of people surge down the tiny high street so it's a great opportunity for businesses to interact with local people. In 2011 we braved the cold and ventured out with half the showroom in tow. Fun (and knackering) it was! Read on for more pictures.
This November staff from Out There Interiors helped out with the making of a short film called Dad Dancing, by Director Domonic White. (Domonic created the little videos you see dotted around Out There Interiors.com).
Domonic is attempting to raise £5000 for prostate cancer with this heartwarming short - created on a zero budget. With the help of friends, family and a couple of famous faces he happened to know (James Payton from Harry Potter and Emma Samms from Dynasty), Domonic has a produced a remarkably stylish, funny and poignant short film with a belting sound track.
We're always in awe of individuals who are motivated to such efforts for charitable causes, and Domonic is no exception. A truly monumentous achievement, and a very worthy cause.
Hi folks, we're currently updating our stock module to give more clarity on due dates. A few stock details may be out of sync for the next 48 hours. We apologise for any confusion. If there the item you order does have inacurate stock information you'll be contacted within 3 days with the correct dates. Once again sorry for any inconvenience.
We received this photograph from one of our lovely customers today. It shows two of our mirrored tables in a shop window in Knightsbridge. We think the they are perfect for this display; so simple and elegant.
These tables are Siobhan and Suzanna. Click 'read more' for a larger image.
We're forever stumbling upon our furniture in TV and film, adverts and stylish window displays, but today we found a piece in a wedding photograph by Sam Hayword of samhaywordphotography.com. This gorgeous picture depicts a bride sitting at our "Racquel" white French dressing table, getting ready for her big day. We think both the bride and the dresser look stunning, not to mention the cornflower panelling.
We couldn't resist naming a new product Harper-Seven today in celebration of the Beckham's new daughter. And what better product than this awesome silver and white throne armchair from our French Furniture collection. This large and highly decorative throne chair has a gloss white frame and shiny silver, crocodile print upholstery. The ultimate statement piece. We love ostentatious furniture like this, so go on, splash out on Harper-Seven today. You won't regret it!
We've spent a long time advocating our quirky outdoor images. In fact you'll find a post further down this blog explaining why we do them. However, after plenty of customer feedback and playing around with our camera we decided it was time for a change. Out There images are getting a face lift....
We found this video when looking for interior design shots. We are very often alone in what makes us laugh so we apologise if this does not amuse you! (Only problem is, we can't help thinking the pink genie lamp is pretty cool).
Well, for a start off it’s in our name. If you start something you’ve gotta finish, right? Well when we started out we didn’t have anywhere sensible to photograph our mirrored furniture, so we took the first bits and pieces out into the garden where it didn’t reflect our somewhat questionable interior surroundings. If you look closely at the images you will see some of our original products – the mirrored chest and bedsides pictured in front of a green fence, with sheds, bird feeders and goodness knows what in the back ground. When we moved into sensible premises we decided it was best to continue to photograph outside for the reasons outlined below. Before we knew it we were getting more adventurous with our pictures, hanging chandeliers from trees, setting ornate beds up in the snow and thinking of a permanent company name...