Tuesday, May 31

The Wonderful World Of Wedgwood

World Of Wedgwood - French For PIneapple Blog
Statue of Josiah Wedgwood at the entrance to World Of Wedgwood

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have spotted a couple of images from my trip to Stoke-on-Trent last week with Amara, to spend the day exploring the World Of Wedgwood with a group of other bloggers. And what a great day it was...

World Of Wedgwood - French For PIneapple Blog
Bisqueware (unglazed ceramic pieces) on the factory floor

World Of Wedgwood - French For PIneapple Blog
Bisqueware with glaze awaiting it's next firing. The factory fires around 6,000 pieces a day.
We were whisked straight off for a factory tour on arrival, and were lucky that some particularly prestigious pieces were being worked on that day, including a Dynasty plate, and a section of a Jasperware Borghese Vase.

World Of Wedgwood - French For PIneapple Blog
Specialist decorator Bruce, applying Raising Paste to a Dynasty plate

The Borghese Vase was adapted from an antique vase dating back to around 1790, and takes eight craftsmen over 200 hours to create. No wonder then that it has quite the hefty price tag!

World Of Wedgwood - French For PIneapple Blog
Another specialist decorator gilding a section of a Borghese Vase. The brown will turn to gold as the oils burn off once fired.

In contrast to Bone China, Jasperware remains matt after firing, and is 'ornamented' rather than 'decorated'. The process is highly specialised and completely fascinating.

World Of Wedgwood - French For PIneapple Blog
A finished Dynasty plate and Borghese Vase (Images - Wedgwood)

Next we had a tour of the Wedgwood Museum, which really is a treasure-trove of ceramic delights. Set out in chronological order, it's captivating to see how the techniques and trends evolved over the years. The story of Josiah Wedgwood, the history of his company, tireless passion for ceramics and developing ceramic techniques and technology is awe inspiring.

World Of Wedgwood - French For PIneapple Blog
Caneware Teapot

My favourite pieces in the museum date back to 1780 (the Caneware Teapot above) and 1879 (the Shell and Coral Majolica below). I'd give my firstborn for that teapot and milk jug. Okay, not really (sorry Edie), but I do love it. A lot.

World Of Wedgwood - French For PIneapple Blog
Shell and Coral Majolica Teapot and Milk Jug

World Of Wedgwood - French For PIneapple Blog
China Tiger (a.k.a Foo Dog) Teacup and Saucer c.1813 (oh I do love a bit of Chinoiserie!)
After our museum tour, we were taken into the stunning Tea Room (via the equally gorgeous Tea Emporium) for a proper afternoon tea including finger sandwiches, scones and cakes, accompanied by Wedgwood tea of choice. I had the Earl Grey (no, not very adventurous, but it's what I like, and a good loose-leaf Earl Grey is hard to beat!).

World Of Wedgwood - French For PIneapple Blog
Wedding display in the Tea Emporium

World Of Wedgwood - French For PIneapple Blog
Decorative Brass Doors leading into the Tea Room

As great as the food was (and it really was lovely!), the interior of the Tea Room was even better. Modern yet timeless with stunning wallpaper adapted from the Wedgwood Hibiscus pattern (seen here on a teapot), brass details and blue velvet banquettes - it was heavenly.

World Of Wedgwood - French For PIneapple Blog
The Wedgwood Hibiscus Pattern

World Of Wedgwood - French For PIneapple Blog
Hibiscus Pattern Wallpaper in the Tea Room

World Of Wedgwood - French For PIneapple Blog
Those Blue Velvet Banquettes!

World Of Wedgwood - French For PIneapple Blog
Brass Framed Mirrors and Grey Moulded Walls (say hi to some of my fellow bloggers Alina and Yasmin!)

And these wall lights against the dark grey moulded walls are hard to beat. I want them. The moulding has pretty much cemented the idea to add some into my next room makeover project at home.

World Of Wedgwood - French For PIneapple Blog
Brass Wall Light on Grey Moulded Wall. Hmmm YES PLEASE!

After all the tea and cake I could quite happily have curled up on one of those banquettes for a little snooze, alas it was time to move on and try our hand at either a bit of pot throwing on the wheel or plate decorating before heading back home, exhausted, but thoroughly inspired.

I totally recommend doing a day trip to Stoke-On-Trent to visit the World Of Wedgwood, and I want to go back soon myself with the kids - Edie in particular would really enjoy seeing the process that goes into making ceramics and having a go herself. I know she'd also love the Tea Emporium and Tea Room just as much as me. Baxter on the other hand, would be a bit like, well... a bull in a china shop! Sorry.

World Of Wedgwood - French For PIneapple Blog
Wedding Display in the Tea Emporium
Oh and did I mention there's also a factory outlet shop? Culture, shopping and bargains. What's not to like?!

Thanks so much for having me Amara and Wedgwood!


Tuesday, May 24

Kitchen Tweaking

If you're a regular reader, you probably know that I gave our kitchen a good re-vamp last year. I'm still really happy with the transformation and it's SO much better than it was, though I admit that I do dream of ripping it all out and doing that fantasy extension on a daily basis.

One thing that's become really obvious, is that we still don't have enough cupboard space in there. Despite my best de-cluttering efforts which are still ongoing (but then I went and accepted a huge tea set that my father in law wanted to get rid of - all thirty-nine pieces of it! Oops!), we just need more storage space. When the grocery shopping arrives, I really struggle to be able to put it all away. Invariably I end up having to leave a load of stuff out on a worktop, and only when stores dwindle as the week goes on, do I have the space to put everything away. Every week, it's the same old story, and frankly, it drives me nuts.

We tiled an entire wall in matt black Hexagon tiles, and much as I love it as it is, I've come to see this big blank wall as a beautiful, extravagant, waste of space, in a room where we really need all the storage we can get.

Don't worry, I'm not ripping them off! I plan to add two full length open shelves, that will hold the pretties. I've spoken before about not being an open shelving person - I don't want a load of open bags of flour, pasta and nuts on display, or the collection of spreads for that matter, but I do love an open shelf when it houses the pretties! By 'the pretties' of course, I mean the good looking pots and pans, crockery, vases, trays, bowls and glasses. And the tea set. Obvs.

There are so many totally great examples of open kitchen shelving on Pinterest that I just got lost for two hours looking. Here's just a tiny snippet of some of them.

Kitchen Tweaking - Open Kitchen Shelving - French For Pineapple Blog

Image credits (clockwise from top left)

Courtney Bishop Design via House of Turquoise Blog
Melissa Jill Photography via Style Me Pretty
Lena Corwin / Cup of Joe
Better Homes & Gardens

My original plan of solid oak proved too expensive for now, so I'm ordering some cut to size pine which I'll possibly stain and oil. I actually surprised myself by liking the idea of old scaffolding planks for this (rustic is not normally my thing!), but as I want to put plates and large serving dishes on these shelves, scaffolding planks won't be wide enough. I also want to fill the entire length of the wall to the centimetre, so bespoke is the best way for this project.

I've sourced some simple polished brass brackets which will tie in well with the brass cupboard knobs. They'll free up some much needed cupboard space, meaning that I won't struggle so much to keep the kitchen under control and will (hopefully!) easily be able to put the shopping away each week.

 I can't wait to get these babies up and start styling! Stay tuned, I'll show you as soon as they're ready.


Wednesday, May 18

Spring Into the Garden with Amara

Spring Into The Garden With Amara - French For Pineapple Blog

When the weather is warm we love to spend as much time in the garden as we can in the evenings and on the weekends, and anyone that knows me, knows that I love a cocktail, so a cocktail in the garden makes me very happy indeed.

I'm a firm believer that you should most definitely not save 'best for best'. So yes, you will find me using my best glasses in the garden! Why not use the things that make you happy, every day? Besides, a beautiful glass makes everything taste better. I've been needing to replace our mis-matched and chipped champagne glasses for a while now, and these Aurelia Champagne Saucers are so lovely. I prefer a saucer over a flute, because they feel that little bit more glamorous and special, and these ones have such a classic look.

Spring Into The Garden With Amara - French For Pineapple Blog

To complement and contrast with my champagne saucers (which can definitely be used for cocktails too, and not just fizz), I chose this super handy charcoal Wings tray, because you can never have too many trays. Trays are not only great for carrying your cocktail accoutrements on, but they can act as a stable surface for your drink on the grass too.

Spring Into The Garden With Amara - French For Pineapple Blog

And speaking of accoutrements, I adore the mix of little vessels that I have put them in, which have so many uses. The pretty gold lined, matt white Dauville bowl is perfect for mint leaves, cocktail umbrellas (who doesn't love a cocktail umbrella!), or for housing sugar swizzle sticks as I've done here. It also makes for the perfect beside dish to put your jewellery in at the end of the day.

Spring Into The Garden With Amara - French For Pineapple Blog

I've long loved lettuce/cabbage ware, yet never owned any. This little Bordallo bowl could well mark the beginning of a new collection. The off-white and green options (green not shown but you can find them here) sit really nicely together, so mix it up!

Spring Into The Garden With Amara - French For Pineapple Blog

Spring Into The Garden With Amara - French For Pineapple Blog

Last, but certainly not least is this Skull cup, which may just be my favourite piece. You might have guessed I have a thing for skulls, and this cup is super cute, super cool, and again, it has endless uses. I was powerless to resist! Obviously you can use it as a cup (duh!), but it's also the perfect size for toothpicks or to use as a sugar bowl with a little vintage spoon. But I couldn't resist piling it high with Maraschino Cherries. I think I need a few more of these.

Spring Into The Garden With Amara - French For Pineapple Blog

When I was looking through the Amara website to choose products for this post, I must admit I was pleasantly surprised at how comprehensive it is. Not so big that you get completely overwhelmed with too many choices, but a really impressive and beautifully curated selection of products - I fell in love with so many things! If you don't know them yet, do check them out because I'm pretty sure you'll find lots to love.

Spring Into The Garden With Amara - French For Pineapple Blog

Here are the products I've used for this post...

Spring Into The Garden With Amara - French For Pineapple Blog

Clockwise from top left:

Aurelia Champagne Saucers
Wings Charcoal Rectangular Tray
Dauville Bowl
Bordallo Bowl
Skull Cup

The only thing that would make me happier than cocktails in the garden, would be sitting in this hammock chair whilst drinking said cocktails in the garden. I mean, just look at this...HEAVEN!
Spring Into The Garden With Amara - French For Pineapple Blog

Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Amara. I only work with companies that fit with the aesthetic of French For Pineapple and that I think you will like as much as I do.


Tuesday, May 10

Obsessed With Lacquered Walls

I have this terrible personality trait, that sees me wanting to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing when I get bored of seeing too much of the same thing. I guess because I live, breathe and dream interiors, perpetually soaking up images and often seeing the same things over and over, I get bored and want to move on pretty fast. Don't hate me.

I was getting really over dark walls if I'm honest, until my attention shifted to lacquered walls, which has made me fall in love all over again. A dark lacquered wall is like magic. Breathing so much life into a room, and I just can't get enough.

Lacquered walls are most certainly not new, and I've always been drawn to these glamorous rooms with high shine walls, but lately the pull has become much stronger. It's amazing how much lacquered walls (and ceilings) can take that glamour to another level entirely.

Now all my flat chalky walls, look so, um.....flat. And chalky. How is it that something you once loved, can suddenly feel so....dull!?

We've not really got onto the lacquered wall thing here in the UK, and in fact all the reference images below are from homes in New York.

I'd like to think we'll see some lacquered walls popping up more and more, but I won't hold my breath. And perhaps this lack of demand is why there seems to be a complete absence of products on the market in the UK aimed at helping one get that lacquered look.

Sure we could spend literally thousands getting a pro in to do the real thing, but most of us don't have that kind of money, and I would like to achieve the look without bankrupting the family, or exposing us to noxious fumes. Surely it's possible?!

Many of the 'lacquered' walls we see these days aren't real lacquer at all - the real thing being a dying art that requires a huge amount of work and countless coats of sprayed on lacquer.

I came across a paint called Hollandlac by Fine Paints of Europe (ironically not available here!) that looks and sounds like it would be closest to the real thing. It's produced by a Dutch company who I've contacted to see if there is an equivalent available in the UK. I'm awaiting their reply and trying not to get my hopes up!

Try as I might, I can't find another single product that is marketed at creating a super high gloss lacquered look on internal walls and ceilings. Well there may be one or two but the reviews are not promising.

I expect that one way to go would be to paint your wall colour in a water-based eggshell, followed by several coats of a  crystal clear, super high-gloss water based varnish. I imagine a light sand between coats will be in order, and yes, it does sound like a lot of work.

I fully intend to do some tests with a view to doing a room or two, so will report my findings back. Meantime, let's look at some of the most glamourous and glossiest walls around...

Obsessed With Lacquered Walls - French For Pineapple Blog
Image: Jackie Astier by Eric Piasecki for Elle Decor

Will you just look at that? Doesn't that make your flat black walls, seem a little sad? People say you need to start with perfect walls because lacquer will show up every single little lump and bump, but it actually doesn't bother me and I think that a dark lacquered wall would distract somewhat from imperfections with all that light bouncing around. I want it, and I want it now.

I discovered some incredible designers whilst researching this post. And I'm so pleased I did. Jackie Astier (above, who works in fashion rather than interiors these days) is among them, and I realise now that I have pinned her entire apartment over the years without realising the various rooms were all under the one roof! Needless to say, hers is one of my all time favourite homes, and if I had black lacquered walls in my house like she does, I'd be laughing like that too!

Obsessed With Lacquered Walls - French For Pineapple Blog
Image: House Beautiful / Jonny Valiant

The image above is a space by Christina Murphy and those glorious green walls are apparently painted with the Hollandlac paint mentioned above. It only makes me want it more.

And the last image I'm going to share with you is by Lilly Bunn. Another stunning lacquered look, that's making me wonder if I'm living in the wrong city...

Obsessed With Lacquered Walls - French For Pineapple Blog
Image: Lilly Bunn

If you want to see more, pop over to my 'Lacquered' board on Pinterest where there are loads more gorgeous rooms to look at. And it's not just dark walls that look great lacquered, even white gets a personality injection when given the glossy treatment.

What do you think of lacquered walls? Have I convinced you it's the way forward, or is it a bit too over the top?

Oh, and if anyone has any actual experience in achieving a lacquered look on walls and or ceilings, please let me know what you did, I need to know!
© Bianca Hall. All rights reserved.