Shop the look: McMafia interior style

Is anyone else watching the BBC's latest big-budget drama, McMafia? I am officially obsessed. And not with the storyline (or James Norton for that matter, although both are quite watchable). It's the McMafia interiors that I can't get enough of. There is opulent 'oligarch chic' aplenty, if that is your thing, but it's the home of main character of Alex Godman and his fiancee Rebecca that really has me drooling. The interiors of their London Mews house are moody, muted and absolutely to die for.

If you love a bit of global design, a dash of mid-century modern and the odd 1970s twist, then you might just love the McMafia interiors as much as I do. I think the style could best be summed up as urban nomad.  It says 'hey I've travelled the world, I've picked up a few hand-made, artisanal pieces along the way; I can work a moody paint colour and inherited these cool mid-century antiques from my parents. But I'm not actually trying too hard, I've just thrown it all together in this very contemporary yet understated way.'

Given the McMafia storyline spans pretty much every continent, it seems only fitting that the hero's home reflects this global vibe. It's the bedroom that I'm particularly swooning over. The mix of grey and beige; the framed African textiles; teak bedside cabinets and iconic Jason chair.  If you're not watching on a Sunday night, then these screenshots should give you the gist.

I've put together a little moodboard for anyone else who fancies a McMafia style bedroom (minus the hitmen and dirty money, obviously). So here is my take on the urban nomad bedroom, McMafia style:-


So what are the key elements? A neutral but warm backdrop is a good start. Alex and Rebecca have grey paint on the wall behind their bed – something like Little Greene French Grey would be a good option, with French Grey Pale on the remaining walls.  Or go a little warmer with Serpentine (also LG paints).

Natural linen headboard £103.50 from Maisons du monde. Or Loaf have some good options if you want a fully upholstered linen bed.
Mid-century bedside cabinets. Alex and Rebecca have some simple, teak bedsides and Vinterior have a number of great options. (If you haven't already checked Vinterior out, then please do. It's a great resource for vintage pieces – bringing together lots of independents into one easily searchable and shopable market).
Bedside pendant lights: These simple white cone pendants will do the trick! Pendants are a good idea next to the bed as they free up space on your bedside table.
Framed textile art: The McMafia guys have several huge framed textiles in the bedroom, great for adding pattern and interest but in a very quiet, understated way. Contact Hide & Seek London for framed vintage textiles to order.
Cushion on bed, vintage mud cloth: This vintage mud cloth cushion is very much in the 'modern nomadic' style we're after!
Natural linen bedding: you can't beat a bit of natural linen bedding, and pleasingly, the McMafia cast are leaving theirs crumpled (no need to iron!)
Vintage Jason chair: Alex Godman's gorgeous Jason chair provides a single splash of green in the McMafia bedroom. Vinterior (again) have a number of original Jason chairs, designed by Carl Jacobs in the 1950s, (although alas none in green). Still, I'd be more than happy to settle for this plywood number – Danish design never dates.
Kantha quilt throw: Another global touch for the bed, this Indian Kantha quilt would add some warm colour to the otherwise neutral bed.
African laundry basket. Alex & Rebecca have 2 of these (well, he can't keep his shirts so crisp without separating his whites from his colours, can he?) I notice Habitat also has some similar options.
Tribal vase: This West German pottery vase adds the right note of 'I just happened to collect this ages ago. Oh, are they trendy?'
Vintage pottery table lamp: mirroring the primitive lamps Alex and Rebecca favour around their  home. This one from (you guessed it, Vinterior) is suitably nubbly and tactile!
Faux leather dressing table: This would blend nicely into the walls without making a statement in its own right.
Slatted wooden blind: A simple window treatment, available made to measure.
Natural Jute rug: to add some natural texture to the floor. Although a deep, velvety carpet would work just as well.

So there you have it, a McMafia inspired, globally styled bedroom. I'm hoping that in next Sunday night's instalment they'll show the other side of the bedroom, you know, the side featuring a chair piled high with unsorted clothes... then I'll feel bang on McMafia trend! Happy Tuesday all.

Design Dilemma: How to decorate around radiators

Quite  a specific post today, but one that I know people often agonise over. How do you decorate around radiators? If you're lucky enough to be starting from scratch then you can install underfloor heating and be damned! But most of us don't have that option.

I don't mind the odd radiator myself, but they can be pesky to decorate around.  Here are my suggestions for dealing with some common radiator conundrums.

Radiators and curtain length

There is a reason radiators were typically placed under windows: to keep out drafts. If you have double glazing, then this is unlikely to be a problem, but if you are in an older house, you'll probably want to leave your radiators under the windows. The dilemma then is how to dress your windows (without opting for short curtains. Please don't hang short curtains. Unless perhaps it is a child's bedroom. Or belongs to an ancient relative who you reasonably feel might get tangled up in a full length drape and come a cropper. But even then, there are better options...).

Short curtains make ceilings look lower and windows look squatter. When drawn, half the heat from the radiator goes straight up between the fabric and the glass, meaning they're not hugely efficient either.  Here are some alternative suggestions:

a) Choose simple blinds or shutters. Roman blinds can be interlined for additional warmth too – perfect in older houses.

b) Add full length curtains over the blinds. These can be left open or drawn halfway (with the blinds providing more darkness/privacy). You could save by making long curtains with half the fabric width and leaving them open at all times.

c) Have full length curtains and just stop worrying about it! In our bedroom we have a radiator under our bay window, with full length curtains. It's never really an issue, as we only close them when we go to bed and the heating isn't on then anyway.


d) If you have a large bay window with radiators underneath, you could consider adding a built in window seat, with exposed grills (so much more useable than a regular radiator cover). You will of course have to refer to points a) and b) for covering the window. I've searched for ages for a picture to demonstrate the point, but can't find anything I like enough to include.  Clearly my heart's not fully in this option! One to consider for a playroom or bedroom perhaps.

Lack of wall space for radiators

The modern love of open-plan living has seen plenty of us knock down walls and open out entire floors, only to wonder where on earth the radiators will go! Tall radiators are your answer here.  They can be squeezed into relatively narrow spots, which might not be fit for much else anyway. This room below is the perfect example:

It's best not to skimp on the output of your radiators, you don't want a room that looks beautiful but has everyone running for an extra layer to put on. There are plenty of only calculators that will tell you exactly what output you require for a given size of room (some even take into account construction type, number of windows and ceiling heights to give you an accurate view). Just search for BTU calculator.

Radiators behind the sofa

If your radiator is in an awkward position (often on exactly the wall where you need to put your sofa) then it is worth looking into having it moved, which may not be as expensive as you think. A radiator is undoubtedly less efficient sat behind a huge piece of furniture and won't do the furniture itself much good either. Not to mention that the lines of your amazing Danish sofa are going to be somewhat spoilt by a radiator sticking up behind it!  A little outlay on moving it now could reduce your heating bills in the long run. If moving it is simply not an option, then try placing a console behind your sofa to provide a buffer from the heat (and a ledge for your drink), or at least paint the rad to match the walls.

Radiators built into furniture

This is a fairly elaborate solution, but if you need storage, then why not build around your radiator? This fabulous bookcase is hiding a radiator behind a very minimalist grille (you can just see it peeking out behind the sofa).


Or this simple built-in ledge and log-store arrangement leaves the radiator on show, but provides a shelf for plenty of visual distraction:


Get your paintbrush out

And finally, you could always paint your radiators and make them a feature in their own right, like this gorgeous tomato red radiator below:


And if your radiators are slightly less 'charming victorian' in style and slightly more 'eighties utilitarian' then painting them in the same colour as your walls is a good solution – you're eye won't be drawn to them (like this purple radiator below). It's the solution I've chosen in our hallway and living room, albeit in a slightly more muted colour!

I'd love to have column rads everywhere, but actually I don't really notice them now. Admittedly they're not perfect, and yes, the paint gets chipped (particularly when you repeatedly ram a buggy and several scooters/bikes etc into them), but if you keep a jam jar of left-over paint handy, then touch ups take 2 minutes (providing you don't store said jam jar in the shed. If you do, and you're anything like me, you'll probably never see it again!)

Source 1  2  3

So there you have it. Several liveable solutions to decorating around radiators. There's plenty more inspiration over on my radiators Pinterest board. Let me know if you have any other suggestions, I'm all ears!

Friday Five – South American interior design.

It's Friday, yay! As I've mentioned recently, things are pretty busy here at Hide & Seek London (which is obviously a very good thing) but I'm conscious it's usually writing the blog that drops off the to-do list. So I've been working on some ideas to add some quick, simple but definitely inspiring content to the blog – without necessarily spending 6 hours on every post. (Yes, really!)

So here is the first in a new series: The Friday Five. The aim is to share 5 fabulous interior images from my travels around the internet. Quick, simple but definitely inspiring. For today's Friday Five I'm looking to a country that is high on my design radar at the moment: Brazil (in fact all of South America seems to be on fire when it comes to design at the moment!). The work of Brazilian firm Ourica Arquiteture e Design is just fantastic. Classic, simple and understatedly beautiful. I officially have a new design-crush.

Take this living room – the white walls, wooden shelves, books and modern art. It looks stylish, collected and beautiful, yet really homely and comfortable too.

Source for all images: Ourica Arquiteture e Design

Or this landing area – I love the beautiful leather chaise, the large abstract painting and that gorgeous striped kilim rug (have I mentioned I like rugs before?).

Or how about this fabulous hallway? White walls, wood cladding, another great painting and rug combination. If I ever get to buy my dream home, it will be a boxy 1950s/60s home with wood cladding, plain windows and big square rooms. Filled with fabulous rugs, textiles and mid-century furniture of course! And this would be pretty close to my ideal entrance hall. 

Then there's this living room. So good I've had to show you 2 pictures. More rugs, patinated leather chairs and large coffee tables. It just looks so effortlessly simple, laid-back and yet cosy. We do at least have a woodburner at home – it's just the enormous windows, lush green view and overall scale that I'm envious of!

I'm feeling seriously inspired by South American interior design at the moment, but what do you think? And let me know what you think of the Friday Five idea. I'm hoping it will help me stick to one of my new year's resolutions (blogging twice a week). Gah, I wasn't going to talk about resolutions, so doomed to disappointment. Happy weekend everyone!

Move over concrete, the next big interior trend is....

At this time of year it's almost impossible to avoid talk of interior design trends. Whilst I don't believe in buying into the latest trends for the sake of it, we can't pretend they don't exist. If you're looking to make changes to your home this year then you are bound to be influenced by them. Done in the right way, 'trendy' design elements can last a long time.

Take concrete for example – it started out as a high end choice for dramatic and modernist interiors. Hotel lobbies and restaurants started to embrace it and it soon filtered down into poured concrete floors in home extensions; concrete worktops in kitchens; concrete-effect tiles and even concrete lighting. Don't get me wrong, I still love concrete – but I sense a new 'hard surface' in town, and it's definitely dividing opinion: Terrazzo. If you haven't already heard of it, then you soon will. (And by the way, where have you been?)

Image source

So what is Terrazzo?

Terrazzo is a composite material made up of chips of stone (usually glass, marble, granite etc) mixed into cement or a similar binder and polished until smooth. It can be poured over large areas, or formed into blocks or tiles. It is incredibly hard-wearing and can be created in almost unlimited colours, depending on the chippings put in. As you might have guessed from the name, it originated in Italy (some time around the 16th century apparently) as a way of using discarded stones – so the real deal can be considered sustainable too.

Terrazzo in the home

Terrazzo is already regaining popularity in the interiors world, and it looks as if it will keep on growing. It seems to be big in bathrooms – whether in bold, warm tones like this bathroom:-

Image source

Or in more subtle, comfortable grey tones like this:

Image source

It is an increasingly popular alternative to granite or marble in kitchens and bathrooms too. This kitchen in the home of Danish photographer, Peter Krasilnikoff features a terrazzo island against a raw brick wall and row of metal storage cupboards – stark but beautiful! (Note the concrete on the floor too – a great combination).



But terrazzo isn't just limited to hard surfaces. It's increasingly being used as a motif on decor items. So if completing your bathroom in terrazzo seems a step too far, then a terrazzo accessory or two might be just the thing. Dzek has an amazing range of Terrazzo tables, shelves and lights. My favourite has to be this sleek wall light:


Trouva has these fab terrazzo jugs by Dassie:


And even John Lewis is in on the act, stocking these lampshades with a terrazzo motif:


I have to admit I've fallen for terrazzo. I love the texture it adds, the subtle pattern and that slightly retro feel. So what do you think about terrazzo in the home? Love it or hate it? Here to stay or gone tomorrow?

Top blog posts of 2017

Happy New Year everyone...if it's not too late to say that. I hope everyone's having a good start to the year. Mine has started busily with several new interior design projects to get stuck into (yay!) and a tax return to submit (not so yay).

But I thought I'd start my blog year by having a quick look back at 2017. It's always good to stop and take stock every once in a while, so I've been looking at which posts were most read. I'm aiming for 100 posts this year (an average of 2 per week). It's not as often as some bloggers post, but then again, I am trying to run a design business too (and spend some time with my family!) Any one of those things could easily take more hours than I have, so it's time to focus in on the topics you liked most and do more like those! I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback, but for now, here are the top 5:

# 1. Dine in Design – Bacaro, Roman Road  

Image: Carole Poirot

First up was my Dine in design post, where I visited Bacaro, a modern Italian restaurant on Roman Road. This was part of a post series I launched to look at restaurant design, which is always a great source of interior inspiration. Plus it gave me a good excuse to eat out in East London's coolest restaurants! I'll definitely be doing more of the same this year, so stay tuned. It probably helped that these posts feature well in search engine results for restaurant reviews, but they also resulted in new sign-ups to the blog, so I guess that means that you liked them! My review of Bombetta in Snaresbrook was also one of my most read posts.

# 2.  7 biggest lighting mistakes and how to avoid them

Image source: John Cullen Lighting
The number 2 spot goes to my post on the 7 biggest lighting mistakes and how to avoid them. I guess this is pretty self-explanatory – we all like to learn from mistakes (and even better if they were made by other people!) So I will aim to expand upon the theme in this year's posts and share some more interior design advice – mistakes to avoid and rules to follow (and break, we don't like too many rules!)

# 3.  Our comfy outdoor seating area: the big reveal!

Image: Carole Poirot

Our comfy outdoor seating area: the big reveal was the 3rd most read post of 2017.

This is the post where I showed you the results of our garden patio makeover, which had taken many months of planning and a lot of effort, so I'm glad you liked the results. I completely understand why these 'reveal' posts are a winner – who doesn't like a good before and after? But whilst I'd love to do posts like this every month, in reality it is difficult to do so many reveals. I can't afford to do my own house up constantly (although hopefully there will be some home DIYs this year). When I'm working on client projects, whilst they usually agree to photography at the beginning, some change their minds and I have to respect their privacy. Then there are the clients who complete 80% of the job but stop there, usually because they are happy enough by that point, or they decide to wait before spending any more cash. Unfortunately this often means that the rooms aren't quite good enough/finished enough to photograph well (and photography can be hugely expensive – so it really has to be worth it!) Anyway, I will try for more of these posts!

# 4.  6 of the best tan leather sofas on the high street

In fourth place was a shopping post – 6 of the best tan leather sofas on the high street.  I spend so much of my time sourcing and researching great furniture, lighting and accessories that I probably ought to blog my results more often!

 It's so easy to get lost in the wealth of interior design options available that I'm always pleased to read a post that narrows down sources! So I will do my best to share more of these in the coming year.

# 5.  How to be your own interior designer!

Image: Jon Holloway

And finally, in 5th place, was the post on my recent interior design workshop in East London – How to be your own interior designer! I guess the post title worked well for SEO (not something I tend to pay enough attention to usually, as I generally write about what I'm working on or is at the top of my mind!) But I really enjoyed hosting this workshop at Phlox Books in Leyton and can't wait to do the next one (click here to book your ticket).  That first workshop was a bit of an experiment, but it was a great evening with a group of lovely like-minded ladies (gents are welcome too), a few drinks and plenty of interior design inspiration and chat!  I'll be running the next interior design workshop, again in East London, from 7-10pm on February 1st. Full details here if you're interested in signing up!

So there you have it, my top posts of 2017. It's definitely food for thought and I hope to offer more of what you enjoyed reading this year! I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on what you'd like to see more of on the blog this year. Comments welcome!

3 easy, affordable Christmas decorating ideas

I don't know what sort of Christmas decorator you are – if you have everything up before December starts then I'm impressed! I usually leave things somewhat later, although we did have a tree by mid-December this year which is good going for us! We are hosting Christmas this year for the first time, so I wanted it to look suitably festive and homely. Last year our decorations were very relaxed and natural – my fireplace looked something like the image below (which I loved). But this year the kids specifically requested something more colourful and I thought I'd better oblige. So here are 3 easy (and affordable) Christmas decorating ideas.

1) Origami star garlands.  

All you need is some square or A4 paper, a needle and thread. I headed over to this tutorial on Youtube which is simple to follow (you might want to mute the music though, it does start to grate on the third watching!) I can assure you that once you've made 3 or 4 stars, you're on a roll. I did manage to persuade my 8 year old son to help, then he persuaded his friend to make a few – many hands make light work! We used the coloured paper left over from my recent interior design workshop (click here to book you place at the next workshop in February!) but these would also look effective using just white paper. When I had about 50 stars, I used a needle and white cotton to thread them together to make garlands. I then tied one end to the light cable and tied the other end to command hooks on each of the surrounding walls. (Oh, and please don't look at how high that light is hanging over our dining table – it needs to be about 50cm lower, which will be sorted in the new year, honest!)  

Our dining area is a bit white, bland and uninspiring (major revamp planned for the new year) so the colour livens things up a bit. I bought some coloured candles to pop into my brass cross candle holders too, which my younger son has been gleefully rearranging ever since! 

2) Eucalyptus. 

I'm not sure I can strictly claim this as decorating, but eucalyptus makes everything feel more Christmassy! Just buy a great big armful of the stuff at your local florist and put it everywhere! It looks great hung from walls, put into large vases, draped over mantles and shelves and even tied onto banisters. Just add some twinkly fairy lights, et voila! It's cheap, cheerful, natural and smells gorgeous too. It will dry out over the course of a week or two, but given that it looks and smells just as good when dry, who cares? And you don't have to store it in the loft until next year, which is always a bonus in my book.

3) Let the kids decorate. 

I know that if you're an interior-obsessive like me this might not come naturally, but I did actually let my 3 loose on the Christmas tree this year. We always have a real tree because I love the smell (and we have no loft space to store a fake one anyway), but when it arrives in the house I usually take-over decorating. Not so this year! My 8 and 6 year olds put things on, whilst my 3 year old took them off again. I confess that I did tried to tinker with the tinsel and distribute the baubles in a more even fashion, but I was told in no uncertain terms to get my mitts off! It was actually quite liberating not to be stage managing things and I can also congratulate myself on encouraging my brood's creative talents. Our tree won't win any decorating awards – it is mismatched, colourful and homely rather than pristine and co-ordinated, but at least the various child-made decorations don't look out of place and I've discovered that I actually quite like coloured fairy lights once more!

I'd love to hear your top Christmas decorating tips (especially if they're easy!)

Image 2: Carole Poirot. All others are my phone shots (please forgive me).

4 alternatives to the tulip table

What do you do if you LOVE the Eero Saarinen tulip dining table, but not the £8000 price tag? That's the question I've been asking myself recently as I try to makeover my own dining area on a slightly smaller budget! The tulip table is an absolute design classic because it works in pretty much any style of room, from traditional country pile to the sleekest city penthouse. It is simple, stylish, practical and easy to use with any type of chair or bench due to the lack of corner legs.

I just love this image above from the home of Mexican antique collector and interior designer Dirk Jan Kinet (via Pinterest) with its antique tulip dining set – proving that modern furniture doesn't need modern surroundings! Or this tulip table below, from the eclectic home of Rockett St George founder, Lucy St George.

So if (like me) you want something just as stylish and practical, but without the pricetag of an original, then I've done some research for you. I've avoided the look-alike design copies (as I don't want to get drawn into a debate about the rights and wrongs of design copyright just now) but here is my pick of the best alternatives to the tulip dining table:

1. Seona oval dining table 

This lovely oval dining table from La Redoute is very simple and stylish. It owes a significant nod to Saarinen, but is different enough in its own right. The smoked glass top is very retro, and the dark metallic base would work with most other metals. It seats 6-8 and at £1,150 is a good deal.

2. Stix pedestal dining table

The Conran shop has this beautifully designed Stix dining table. At £2,600 it's a little pricier, but it is beautifully designed with its splayed oak legs. It also comes in a few colours including plain white, black marble and white marble. Seats 4-6.

3. Silhouette pedestal dining table

West Elm's silhouette table is another stylish choice. Brass and marble are a glamorous combination that will be in style for years to come. It costs £1,499 for this oval version which seats 4-6. There is also a smaller, round version. 

4. Totem glass pedestal dining table

This Totem dining table comes in 8 different glass colours including grey and orange (which I love!) as well as 5 different base finishes. It's a gorgeous, modern take on an oval pedestal table and would definitely make a great altnernative to the tulip dining table. Available in multiple sizes starting from £1,720 from Glass Domain.

So there you have it. Whether I end up with any of these remains to be seen – got to do Christmas first! Happy Tuesday everyone.