Adventures in Design: I Love London Part 3
Congratulations and best wishes to the Royal Newlyweds! The day finally arrived and the wedding was even more glamorous, romantic and full of spectacular pageantry - as only the British can do - than I imagined. It's all captured on DVR and this weekend I'll pour myself a glass of champagne, put on my Kate Middleton "fascinator", hit "Play," and savor each and every moment.
I've considered running it on a continuous loop on our family room TV but my husband might not be into it.
Kate looked so happy and elegant in her Sarah Burton gown. What's your favorite part so far? Let us know what you think on our Facebook page.
If you've been following my adventures, you know I recently spent some time in London and the place was going crazy for Wills and Kate. The tabloids were having a field day and even my cab driver had an opinion on the subject:
"Her hair piece will start the next trend . . . as will everything Ms. Middleton will do will begin trendy types of things! We Brits are in need of this union of two happy young people who will change how the royals are viewed forever. They are quite casual people and wish to remain as normal as they can for as long as they can. Who could blame them?"
After making my donation in support of the Royal Collection (or as some might call it, a William and Catherine wedding souvenir spree at the Buckingham Palace boutique!), I headed to Harrods (a London must-do), several specialty shops and finally to my favorite shopping area in London - the legendary Portobello Market.
On the way to Harrods I ran across this amazing plant-covered or "green wall" temporary structure. What a clever way to make a potential eye sore into an oasis in the city! I've been thinking of doing something similar on an interior wall and was "chuffed" to find this beautiful example. I'd love to see this in full leaf this summer.
On to Harrods to find a picnic basket for my son's birthday present. You know that expression, "England and America, two countries divided by one language?" It's so true! After half an hour in their famous food court with sales people showing me gift baskets with every imaginable combination of wines and cheeses, biscuits and teas, even cuddly (Teddy) bears and gobstoppers (jawbreakers), we finally realized a picnic "basket" is called a "picnic hamper." They just weren't getting the "carrying handle" part of my description!
That solved, we were promptly sent to the Garden and Floral department. Of course!
What should we find there (in addition to very handsome picnic hampers!) but green walls! Granted these were made of silk greenery stapled to the wall yet they were wonderful.
Here's the famous hamper. Love the handle at the top and how the interior is "kitted out."
The next day, if you can believe it, there was an article in USA Today about green walls in London hotels! Good karma.
So of course when we participated in the recent Chicago Botanic Garden Antiques and Garden Fair, I had to pay homage to the walls I'd seen in London by covering our booths in moss. It looked great and was a big hit with the gardeners!
The use of faux green is really growing in popularity. One of my relatives in California is replacing her lawn with new age AstroTurf to cut down on watering and maintenance. So much cheaper and eco-friendlier, and these new products look really good.
After the visit to Harrods we went to an AMAZING home furnishings store called Oka. They have a fresh, fun look, a bit like John Robshaw only cleaner and cheaper. It's like an English Crate and Barrel with a little more freedom to create your own look.
I love the way they display their merchandise in vignettes. This is the first one I came upon. The rounded wicker seating is so cozy.
The way they display their chairs on the wall is a clever use of space and visual merchandising.
After Oka, I made a quick stop at Joanna Wood for a look at their Lewis & Wood fabrics and wallpaper, many of which are made in extra wide widths.
Finally to Portobello Market! I love the vibe there, the mix of antique and new, young and old, serious and funky. The market is only open on Saturdays and is located in the Notting Hill area of West London. Alas, Hugh Grant was nowhere to be seen.
The area has lots of quaint houses in eccentric colors, several with plaques noting historic former residents.
One of the homes had a striking installation of vines growing around the fence and up the wall. I don't know how they entwine them, but they are so sculptural and animal-like that I don't mind just the bare vines in winter.
How cool is this? Serving pizza from a little orange car!
There was a token Scotch shop. Lots of people were popping in for a tasting.
Look at all the people! It's amazing what you'll do for the hunt. There's treasure out there!
Most of the antique shops are gone from this area, replaced by shops full of new and funky things. So English!
Are they purses or record holders?
These purses are made of felt pom poms!
A few vintage pieces survive in booths outside storefronts.
This chest is a hoot!
A hardware store from heaven! They have knobs and drawer pulls made out of petrified wood, rocks, rattan, baseballs, you name it. I almost had a heart attack!
Here's their brochure.
Love the pop of the eccentric pink chairs in front of this blue Art Deco shop.
Really cute toys from the 60s.
Couldn't resist popping in to a flower shop. Spring, please come to Chicago soon!
And the piece de resistance - a store with two 14 foot high corner windows covered in a grid of antique sewing machines. A wall inside was lined with them, too, and then they went down another level. It was a store like Gap, British-style. Oh, I loved it!
Portobello Market is where I found my facsinator to wear while watching the royal wedding. Before going to London this trip I didn't even know what a fascinator was! According to wikipedia, a fascinator is:
". . . a headpiece, a style of millinery. The work originally referred to a fine, lacy head covering akin to a shawl and made from wool or lace."
These girls at Sara Sansakara at Portobello are so clever! They make their headpieces from recycled men's silk ties and other "upcycled" fabrics.
I chose one made from a cashmere knit and herringbone suit fabric, accented with feathers. I love it!
Kate Middleton really has helped bring them back into style (London cabbies apparently know their fashion trends!) and I didn't realize I'd purchased one similar to hers until I saw this magazine cover!
Here's Sara's info if you need a fabulous fascinator! Her graphics are so fun.
It was a wonderful day at Portobello Market and I can't wait to go back. There's so much more shopping in London; this barely scratches the surface!
So, yes, there will be another London blog!
Off to watch the wedding now. Again.