Grand Designs Live 2015 (Rediscovering my Love of Art and Confirming my Passion for Design)…

Its time for Grand Designs Live…

The one thing that I would really like to achieve in my lifetime, is to design and build my own home. I guess in reality it may never happen, but hey a girl can dream!

Until my dream becomes a reality I will continue to watch Grand Designs and admire the amazing homes that others have designed and built instead. From each episode that I watch, I take away a piece of advice or something from that particular build that I really like and would love to incorporate in my house when and if I ever get to build it.

I also like to gather inspiration from other places, so you can imagine my delight when I discovered the “Grand Designs Live” event at the NEC in Birmingham. I just had to go, there were no two ways about it.

I have never been to the NEC before so I was really happy when the first thing that I laid my eyes on as I walked through the door was a “Starbucks“. I really do love Starbucks and always will; especially at this time of year when all the seasonal beverages are being served! Unfortunately my happiness was short lived because the que was practically going out of the building so we moved on from that one and headed in to Grand Designs in search of our press passes, coffee and breakfast.

The perfect breakfast…

Once we (I brought my lovely friend along too) had collected our press passes we went in search of breakfast. Having never been to the NEC before we were completely clueless as to where we could find a good substantial meal which would set us up for the day.

Luckily as we were wandering around, we came across the most perfect little place called: “The Oak Kitchen” which if I am right is a pretty new addition to the centre. The Oak kitchen is a place where you can eat locally sourced, good quality food so you know what you are eating and where it has come from.

This wonderful restaurant honestly gave us such a great start to the day. The lady that served us was so friendly and polite and the cooked full English breakfast and coffee were just perfect. I couldn’t fault it at all and I soon forgot about the fact that I had missed out on a Starbucks.

Lovely things…

We began our day in “Kitchens and Bathrooms” which was sponsored by Miele. I actually have a thing for kitchens and bathrooms. I spend so much time in both places; in fact I often spend about half an hour in my shower and of course, like most ladies that love being at home; I really value a good kitchen.

I have this idea that one day I will create the most amazing user friendly kitchen and bathroom in my own home, so I really enjoy browsing accessories and displays in order to gain ideas. There were many amazing, colourful and innovative products too see and as you can imagine, I wanted to buy all of them. I met some really lovely people in this section of the show so I thought I would tell you a little bit about them.

Auto Bin…

I currently have a Brabantia bin but I am not really getting along with it as it is not quite big enough and I find it awkward to empty, so I have been on look out for a new one. Incidentally the first people we came across happened to be “Auto Bin” so I couldn’t really just walk on by could I now.

The wonderful men on the stand informed me that these great bins operate via automatic sensor so as soon as you put anything near to the lid, it opens. Not only does this make things a whole lot better where hygiene is concerned, it also allows you to operate the bin when your hands are full (something I struggle with quite regularly).

The infa-red motion sensor that operates the bin lids is called “Eagle Eye” technology, this is currently the best on the market and it has the longest warranty. That in itself gives me the confidence to purchase one of these nifty units. The manufacturing company behind the Auto Bins is called “Ninestars” who are well-known for manufacturing the best premium grade stainless steel, premium grade plastic and rubber parts on the market.

I was highly impressed with each of the bins but particularly liked the “Ladybird 2 Litre Desktop Storage” which I think is really handy for using on worktops; especially for popping tea bags in. It is also perfect for placing on your work desk to keep paper clips and other small objects in. This would really be a handy addition to my home.

I have to also point out that they do the most amazing product. It is called the “Sensor Activated Pet Bowl“. With me having a dog this easy to clean pet product would be an amazing idea; especially to keep flies of his food in the summer and also to stop the smell of dog meat in the kitchen.

The other bin that I was really taken with was the “Large 40Litre Twin Bin”. Not only have you got two separate compartments, one side for recycling and the other for food waste; you can also take both bins out to reveal a huge 60 Litre bin space.

This beauty has my name written all over it as I am currently getting fed up of running out of space in my bin at home. I don’t actually use the recycling part all of the time as the plastic quite often gets jammed in so it would be great to have the option of removing both parts in order to turn it in to one large bin space. This is especially great for Christmas and other occasions as you can fit tons of food waste in there which means less trips to the dust bin whilst you are entertaining.

Eye Wood Designs…

If like me, you are a total foodie but also adore customised products that are made from natural materials; you will fall in love with “Eye Wood Designs“.

I was initially met by an eye catching array of both rustic and contemporary chopping and serving boards all of which looked stunning. Each board was pleasantly unusual in appearance but what initially drew me in was the array of beautiful colours which appeared even more beautiful when the sun which shone through the top windows of the centre caught them.

On the day I was lucky enough to meet and speak to the very personable Richard Murray who gave me a bit of an insight into his business and all of his hand-made wooden products. Richard informed me that each board is slightly different from the next, so if you choose a particular one from the website, it will be totally different from any others that have been purchased in the past or that will be made in the future.

I love the fact that each board is made from sustainably sourced wood which makes all of them completely different in finish. Even the wax that is used when completing each piece is provided by the local bee keeper. For the wooden boards, Richard advises that olive oil is used as a treatment at home, but if at all your board requires some further attention from a true craftsman, you can send it back where it will be carefully restored.

The board you choose will be one of a kind and with many people now looking for unique pieces for their kitchens, I have no doubt that these gorgeous items will be featured in thousands of home around the UK and beyond.

If a chopping or serving board isn’t quite what you are looking for, it is definitely worth browsing their collection of products for the garden and also for pets.

Emma Britton…

Lately I have been trying to incorporate a bit more colour into my life, it certainly makes me feel happier. I also find that it adds a bit more depth and interest to my home which is why I was instantly drawn in by the incredible and beautifully bright and colourful glass items that were displayed on Emma Brittons stand. Her glass designs are what dreams are made of, seriously!

I really love designers such as: Orla Kiely, Emma Bridgewater, Sophie Allsop and Cath Kidston and I have to say that Emma’s work is like a combination of all four which couldn’t be better in my opinion. Emma gains inspiration from in her own words “the patterns found in nature placed alongside the everyday of the man-made world while also being influenced by a typically British quirkiness.”

Prior to setting up her business in 2010, Emma worked in the glass industry and also completed a Printed Textile Design Degree at Loughborough University. Emma’s incredible designs allow people like you and I – who can appreciate the beautiful things in life – to incorporate something truly special into our homes.

I have personally always wanted a patterned splash-back in my kitchen and I couldn’t think of anything I would want more than a hand painted design by Emma to look at whilst I go about my daily kitchen chores. Each splash-back is made in Britain from toughened glass and can be tailored to fit your specific measurements. If you don’t fancy a floral design such as: Foxglove or Sweetpea; you could always opt for something from the “Maple” and “Pineapple Sticks” collection instead which I am also absolutely crazy about (no surprise there then).

If on the other-hand, you fancy incorporating some colour into your house or work place on a smaller scale, you could always purchase a set of stylish glass coasters. I really would urge you to take a look at Emma’s stunning collection here where you will be sure to find something truly magical for your home.

 Moving on…

Upon browsing the many stands that were there on the day, I came across a few other companies and products that I was really impressed by.

1 Wall..

I am really passionate about art work and wall decor in general so I felt right at home at “1 wall“. They had several stands that were placed in different locations around the show which all displayed a huge collection of attractive products.

The particular product that I stopped for was the “Marion McConaghie Creative Collage Wallpaper” which comes in a box of 64 individual pieces that can be applied in a collage style to the wall. I have never seen this design before but wow, I absolutely love it. It is so quirky. You can also find many other types and styles of collage wallpaper such as: Typography, Playing Cards, Comics, Vintage Maps and Villager Jim (who happens to be one of my favourite photogrpahers).

I just love the idea of being able to apply individual pieces of imagery to the wall without having to purchase rolls of wallpaper. Not only can you create any look that you want by applying each piece individually in any pattern or direction of choice, you could alternatively frame the pieces and place them on your stair way wall, in a hall way or alternatively you could display them on a feature wall in different types of frames for a really quirky look. Go and take a peek here for their full collection!

As well as wall coverings, wall murals and wall paper; 1 Wall also had a huge range of framed pictures on display which surprise surprise, I also happened to absolutely love. I have to say that there was one piece in particular that I would really like to have in my home.

It was a framed picture of some brightly coloured lips with splashes of paint accross them. They would look great in my bedroom and with me being a make-up artist it would of course signify something that I am passionate about (I will be keeping a close eye on that one for future purchase).

If lip art isn’t quite your thing, don’t be put off for they had hundreds of different designs which can be found under “SHH Interiors“. There is without a doubt art work to suit an array of different tastes; from angel wings to stags heads and pheasants to the more contemporary pieces such as splashes of colourful paint, elaborate skulls and elegant gold and silver dandelions.

Jane Skingley…

The first thing I said when I met Jane and saw one particular seascape “Distant Dune Oil on Canvas” was “that painting reminds me of Norfolk” but I never expected her response to be “well you would be spot on because it is actually a painting of Holkham beach”. I was so taken aback because for one I couldn’t beleive I had actually guessed that from looking at the painting, two Norfolk is my favourite place and three my mum, son and I went on a really special holiday there in July and spent much of our time on Holkham beach which is on the North Norfolk Coast.

Without a doubt Jane’s work is incredible, so I was curious to know how this very talented painter of seascapes, landscapes and still life subjects creates these breathtaking masterpieces. Jane went on to tell me that in order to achieve a natural motion in her paintings; rather than applying the paint straight on to the canvas with a brush, she actually flicks the paint on to the canvas and what an amazing result she gets. She also informed that to give all of her seascapes a sense of light and depth she builds up layers of oil paint. Every single one of her paintings are extremely life like, It is very easy to get lost in her art work and I would one day love to own that very painting of my favourite beach in Norfolk.

If you would like to view this lovely ladies art work you can do so at art fairs in London and New York but also at Hadfield Fine Art (Cheltenham) and Lynne Strover Gallery (Cambridge). If viewing just isn’t enough and you feel the need to purchase a piece of Jane’s art work so that you can wake up everyday to a little piece of heaven, you can find it here in John Lewis.

For the foodies…

This article just wouldn’t be complete without a mention of food and cooking would it now?

Obviously I found time to stop by the “Miele Live Kitchen” just in time to see a River Cottage demonstration of how to cure your own streaky bacon using rare breed pig as they have the best flavour. The recipe incorporated beautiful seasonal vegetables such as: squash and pumpkin and the smell emanating from the kitchen was heavenly.

More of the day in pictures…

There were, as you would expect from a show of this size, many more awesome things I loved at Grand Designs Live. Here they are in pictures:

The River Cottage Garden complete with beautiful autumnal vegetables…

Leaf (gifts, jewellery and accessories)…

Click here to see their full range of beautiful products.

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Some gorgeous outdoor tables equipped with stylish fire pits…

I also got to speak with the lovely Salma Habib from Pearlosa (Mega Tiles)…

To see all of their wonderful range click here.

Some of the dreamy outdoor living spaces that I saw on the day…

More wonderful things…

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All in all I had a fantastic day and met some truly talented people who I really enjoyed talking with. I certainly took away lots of inspiration with me ready for when I finally get to design and build my own home and I even managed to buy something nice for my current house which I will be blogging about later in the month.

Thank you to everyone who gave me their time and thank you to the ladies at Frank PR for having me.


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