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349 Hagley Road, Edgbaston,
Birmingham, B17 8DL

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50 Shades of Mustard...

Or hot fuchsia, or vibrant blue . . . or just about anything but grey.

I was talking to a client the other day who had just moved into an area adjacent to one of the more desirable suburbs of Birmingham (no names, no pack drill). As we were chatting he said “I really don’t mind that it’s not quite as smart as (fill in your own gap), because all the estate agents have assured me it’s an up-and-coming area.” He must have seen the wry smile creep across my face, as he questioned me further. “It really is a nice area to live in,” I said, “and I enjoyed my time there greatly, but that’s exactly what I was told when I moved there in the late nineties”.

It just goes to show that even if you bang on about something for long enough it isn’t always bound to happen. However, regular readers will know that each time we at John Charles Interiors make our bi-annual pilgrimage to the London design shows, I always come back waxing lyrical about how at last colour is back in fashion, and the neutral palette of taupes, stones and greys has finally been put on the back burner. Well this time it’s really true !! No honestly, it is.

Of course, there are still some exquisitely elegant and fabulously subtle collections being launched by the likes of Larsen, concentrating more on texture and lustre than on pattern and colour, but as you thumb through the pattern books even these surprise you with dashes of aqua blues and dignified yellows. And please don’t think I’m “dissin” (as the yout’ currently say) the whole neutral idea. Whatever I or anyone else says, for a smart but laid back look you just won’t beat a thoughtfully put together mix of plains and textures using soft moles, taupes and donkey greys.

But come on guys, let’s get our bold hats on. Let’s be a bit more daring with pattern. Let’s immerse ourselves in all those magnificent jewel-like colours that have been hitting the market lately. And boy are there some fabulous new offerings to get our teeth into !!! I’m only going to mention a few, as the editor sometimes accuses me of verbal diarrhoea (a fair point my wife, family and staff would probably say), and I really should let the pictures do the talking.

I’ve already mentioned Larsen with respect to their plain collections, but they’ve also launched a new uber-smart woven offering called Burton. It’s a collection of stripes and geometric designs, comprising the silvers, greys and blacks you would expect to see from Larsen, but punctuated with the most stunning acid yellows. There’s one really striking colourway they call Anis Green that if I’m ever referring to in a client letter I really must remember to switch off the automatic spell check, just in case (sorry, bloke humour).

Manuel Canovas, Larsen’s stable mates in this country, have long been associated with effective and eye-catching use of strong, vibrant colours. This spring’s offering is certainly no let down. Their major fabric collections are Eze and Paulette. Eze is an eclectic mix of weaves, the highlights of which for me are Madiran and Coutras, which I would describe as a contemporary take on a damask, but in the most gorgeous hot gingers and rich, rich blues. Paulette is a collection of cotton prints, including a couple of splendid designs featuring plates and coffee pots that would look soooo good in a kitchen or morning room, and starring a design called L’Envol, depicting a range of Montgolfier style hot air balloons. Their latest wallpaper collection sits nicely alongside the Paulette fabrics, featuring not only the hot air balloons and jugs, but also a number of other stunning papers that can really only be described as wall art.

Mind you, if you’re after a simply show-stopping wallcovering just check out the latest offerings from Elitis, distributed in this country by Abbott and Boyd. Oh my goodness !!!!! As we were in their London showroom being shown the new collections by Mark Abbott (one of the most genuine and helpful guys in the trade – and yes Mark, I’ll have that fiver now please), our gasps of admiration just kept getting more and more, and our voices kept getting higher and higher until I’m sure only the neighbourhood dogs could hear them. The Libero collection is a fabulous range of textile wallcoverings inspired by Moroccan dyes and Indonesian batik sarongs, boasting a riot of colour. But the absolute crowning glory has to be the Mindoro collection. It is a totally exquisite range of handmade wallcoverings utilising the likes of palm fibre, abaca bark and bamboo, along with a couple of the most innovative and original wallcoverings I’ve ever seen made of . . . paper mache !! Yes, you heard me correctly – paper mache. They immerse them in vegetable dyes, colour wash them by hand leaving behind a mark of the design, and then fix them to the backing. Job done. And oh what a job. No amount of my words would do these wallcoverings justice. Pop into our showroom and see them for yourselves. You certainly won’t be disappointed.

John Biddell, John Charles Interiors

Live 24 7 magazine editorial - April 2015

Images courtesy of Elitis