GLOBAL FUSION!! Taking inspiration from the tiles of Lisbon

Whilst walking the hilly streets of Lisbon I was captured by the tiled buildings I was surrounded by, compelled to take numerous photos of the ceramic-shelled architecture!  I’m not entirely sure why!

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Having done a small amount of research I found that the art of the ceramic tile in Lisbon is known as ‘Azulejos’, an Arabic word meaning ‘polished stone’.  These tiles are used to decorate everything, from walls of churches and monasteries to houses, subways and park benches.  They came about in the Gothic period where there appeared to be a need to decorate large expanses of white plaster.  In Italy they used frescos, in Portugal there were tiles!  As well as serving a decorative purpose they also served a functional purpose in temperature control.  To begin with the tiles were imported from Seville and in accordance with Islamic law were not allowed to incorporate human forms and so consisted of geometric patterns- this could be the reason why I was so taken by them- my geeky mathematic mind has always been drawn to geometric images!  Later on the Portugese started to produce their own and began incorporating human figures and animals.DSC03195 - Copy

The dominant colours in the tiles are green, blue, yellow and white.  Although these tiles can be found in other European cities it is quite apparent that in Lisbon the Azulejos take on an expressive poetic form lacking in others.

Having been captured by these tiles I was very excited to find that B&Q stock tile effect wallpaper at just £10 a roll and Topps tiles sell ‘Lisbon effect’ tiles at £40-£70 per square meter.

I love the idea of being able to incorporate elements of my travel into my interior design and retro furniture collection from around Europe.  With high street shops now stocking these ranges and restored furniture from around Europe readily available this can be done easily and cost effectively.

P.S. Lisbon is an amazing city to visit!

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With the historic buildings and trams interspersed with grittier more bohemian areas reminiscent of East Berlin and the best custard tarts you will ever eat Lisbon is a city you could visit again and again and always find new corners and experiences.  Having been to numerous European cities there have not been any others that I have felt a need to return to!



Trends for 2016: Bringing the Outside In.


There are a number of different trends highlighted for 2016.  Top of the list is ‘bringing the outside in’.  This involves furniture that can be used both inside and out, incorporating greenery indoors in the form of wall décor or accessories and the addition of plant life.  I’ve created a Pinterest board of my favourite examples!

I thought I would look into wall décor – so, I spent a long time doing one of my favourite activities in the whole world- trawling through hundreds of books of wallpaper!  I love wallpaper!

Here are some I found that would be great for bringing the outside in:

Matthew Williamson at Osborne and Little: Sunbird Colour Metallic purple/Electric Blue/Green W6543-01


Osborne and Little: Tulipan W6753-02


Reasons to love art deco

Art deco was an art movement that began in France and gained popularity in the 20s after the first world war when people had begun to relax and remained so until around the start of the second world war.

The style consists of geometric and angular shapes, chrome, mirrors and other shiny finishes.  Designs often contained stylised images of cars, cruise ships, skyscrapers and planes or nature motifs such as shells, flowers and sunrises.  It is also characterised by highly contrasting materials such as highly polished wood against glossy black lacquers with satins and furs.

I love art deco.  For me it conjures images of glamour- sleek dresses embellished with jewels and beads, large feather head dresses.  The furniture was in in my mind still is the ultimate in style-glossy woods, large oversized geometric shaped mirrors, sleek curves, luxurious leather and exotic embellishments.

The art deco cocktail chairs and armchairs are my favourites!  So sleek and glamorous.  See some pic here on Pinterest.  If I smoked and could handle cocktails I could just picture myself with a porn star martini and a long cigarette holder reclining in one of these!  Have a look on ebay………

I have always had a soft spot for the architecture.  The run down blocks of 1920s flats I see dotted around Leigh-on-Sea and the parades of shops that are almost invisible hidden within the more modern buildings surrounding them really capture my imagination.  I love the curved bay windows, the sunburst motif stain glass windows.  The Chrysler building of course is also pretty cool!  For more amazing images have a look at my Pinterest board.

I love what the art deco movement represented- the time where people felt they could breath again after the first world war and before the depression began.  When women’s liberation began and the economy was prosperous, technology was growing and modern life consisted of luxury and leisure.


Ocean Drive for me is one of the best places ever!  The whole stretch of vibrant colourful geometric buildings.  With the lively bars, trendy hotels and shops all over looking Miami’s South Beach.  I don’t think there is anywhere better!  And of you ever visit try a mojito in Mangoes…….


The Adventures of Kplan Kate: The tale of the Art Deco French Leather Armchair

The tale of the brown leather chair begins in France I guess around 1930 when the art deco style was flourishing.  Where he resided until May 2015 is sketchy.  But what is known is that he made it into the back of a French market traders van and was transported to Les Puces de Montreuil in Paris.  He hadn’t even made it onto the market.  The poor sad chair was hidden under a mountain of clothes and accessories still on the back of the van.  Luckily his beautiful elegantly curved legs were just visible and after seeking out his owner a deal was struck and the next part of his story begins.

He was once again loaded into the back of a van however this time he met lots of other furniture friends and was no longer hidden away under garments and bags.  He departed France destined for a new home in England.  He arrived there looking sad with torn plastic fake leather upholstery.

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He was stripped of all his ripped plastic faux leather, then reupholstered in eco leather a recycled leather in keeping ethically with the idea of rescuing old furniture pieces.

He now looks handsome and elegant and is awaiting a new owner at  If you think you can offer him a loving new home take a look!

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The Adventures of KPlan Kate: The of fruits of Belgium, before and after

So now it’s time to reveal a few before and after pictures from the fruits of our Belgium adventure…………….

The handsome black Louis XVI chair


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And after……………

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The Stylish sophisticated, now lime and grey Louis XVI chairs (see my previous blog to read about some of the work put into the chairs )


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The beautiful oak table

Before covered in water marks and with splintery legs……………..

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Now with a beautiful wax oil finish……………

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The retro grey chairs-now with stags!

Before-looking tired and dull………………..

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And finally, the chairs I won at the auctions…………….

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Now that I’ve finished the Belgium articles, I am heading off to Paris tomorrow with my girls and Steve to see what other treasures we can find!  Watch this space!!!

P.S. I’m really pleased with the professional photos I had done of the furniture for my website-can you spot which ones are the pro’s and which are mine??!!

The Adventures of K Plan Kate: Fustration, despair and logo design headaches

Arrgggghhhh!  Who would have thought that trying to create a logo would be soooooooo hard?!

So, originally I thought what I wanted was a really plain design-basically K Plan Furniture in a fancy font.  Below was the logo mark one.  I thought the K looked more like an X-but on closer inspection you can see that the K is actually  a chair.

I’m not a fan of the orange and brown colour scheme.  They had gone for neutral colours and the orange is apparently ‘warm yellow’ but these colours are too reminiscent of my school uniform for me to appreciate them.

I’d got in mind something in black and white.  The ‘furniture’ bit I liked, but in my head the ‘K’ would be a lot bolder.  So here comes mark 2.


This was exactly what I asked for and thought I wanted but seeing it on the computer screen it turned out it wasn’t what I wanted!  What I really want is something fairly simple-I’ve been studying logos everywhere I go for the last few weeks and all the big brands are really just the brand name written on it’s own, for example ‘Waitrose’ and ‘Samsung’.   But I also want something that reflects me a little bit.  I want it to be fairly classy and not be something that will look dated in no time at all.

Steve and I were discussing it the other night via facetime and he thought a picture of a lady pulling a chair behind her in silhouette form might look quite good-he leaned his phone up against something and was posing for me with chairs being dragged behind him to demonstrate!

I emailed the company working on my website and logo with this idea and had visions of him opening it and going ‘oh, ffs’!  Unfortunately these big ideas were not quoted for, so I’ve got my Dad on board to help brainstorm!

These are the first batch from my Dad- I really like them but I feel like they’re still not quite right.


Then these are the second batch because I thought a chair should be in it:

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I really like D and think it would look really good on a business card but I wonder whether it’s a bit too fancy to go at the top of the website and any headed paper?!

The more I try to come up with something the more fed up and cross I’m getting with the whole thing.  I decided to check in with Pinterest to see what kind of logo inspiration they could provide me with.  There are some really clever ones out there………….


This is my particular favourite- the company is F3.  Can’t remember what the company does though!

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I liked this idea-to use my own handwriting for the ‘k’.  I spent a bit of time doodling and trying different ways of joining up the K, P and F.  I liked them on paper but when I scanned them for some reason I didn’t like them on the screen.   Not sure what happened to them but they just looked really rubbish!

My most recent effort is a geometric style ‘K’ in a box.  I drew it on the computer in paint- I did the K then wrote ‘plan’ in a really nice square type font, then went to type ‘furniture’ but couldn’t find the same font again.  I tried EVERY single font on the stupid computer programme and never found it.  It had completely disappeared!  So, I have no idea whether it will look any good with the ‘furniture’ added.  I have emailed to the guys at the website company and am waiting to see what it looks like all tidied up and with ‘furniture’.  Fingers crossed it looks decent because I am losing the will to live!

I would really appreciate any comments or ideas???!!!!!   Pleeeease!!!!!!!

The New Adventures of KPlan Kate: Dead Birds, Versace Trays and Electric Guitars

So, on Thursday KPlan Kate went to the auctions.  She attended not only one auction but two!

The first was in Brentwood- Brentwood Antique Auctions.  It was in a tiny little wooden shed type thing with all the lots (about 600ish) and the bidders all crammed in.  I had seen from the online catalogue that the furniture wasn’t happening until about lot 500.  I had no idea how long each lot would take and therefore had no idea how long I’d have to wait until the furniture came up.  I was incredibly disappointed to find that the auctioneer spoke at a normal speed- Steve said I’d been confusing antiques auctions with cattle auctions in my head.  I’d got this vision of someone speaking at breakneck speed in some kind of tongues.  I think this was why I’d always thought that an auction would be a scary place!

I’d seen a few bits of interest on the on line catalogue but felt very self conscious trying to squeeze past the bidders, negotiating guide dogs to try to find the bits I’d seen online.  I could feel mental daggers being plunged into me!   I managed to squeeze to the front to speak to one of the auction staff to see what time he thought the furniture lots might start and he worked out that if there were 120 per hour then it would be about 3pm before they got even close.  Perfect!  School run time!  Obviously there was no point hanging around to see how much the Winnie the Pooh figures went for or the milk glass snuff bottle!  The man told me I could bid by phone if I wanted to but because I hadn’t really gotten to look properly at anything I decided against it.  I guess it was my own fault since they had a viewing day the day before!

One positive note to come out of the Brentwood expedition was that I realised auctions weren’t as scary as I thought they’d be and I probably would be brave enough to bid in the future-so long as the timing doesn’t interfere with the school run!

The luxuriously spacious Chalkwell Auctions!

From Brentwood we set off for the Chalkwell auctions-which sneakily weren’t in Chalkwell at all- they were in a unit at the Temple Farm Industrial Estate in Southend!  They had viewing time up until the auction started at 1pm AND they had coffee!  It was a lot more spacious and you could wander round and see all the lots properly.  There were about four lots I was interested in but again the furniture didn’t start until about lot 430 which would have been after I’d had to pick the girls up from school.  Grrrrrr!  But then I spoke to one of the men that worked there and he showed me how to bid on line.  I’d assumed it would be like ebay where you put your max bid but it’s NOTHING like ebay!  It was sooo clever- I am really amazed by it!  You have to register but then you log in to the auction from home and it’s live-you can hear everything and then press the bid button if you want to place a bid and it’s as if you were there!  The only downside is you have pay an extra 3% on top of the hammer price and the VAT.

I went home and set up an account and saw that it was up to about lot 100.  As I left to go on the school run it was on lot 200ish.  I was sure I’d miss the one I wanted-lot 432.  I dashed to the computer when we got back and I hadn’t missed it!  So I dashed upstairs to fold washing then bolted back down to check the bidding- still a few to go, so I ran upstairs and changed my bed, then rushed back to the computer, then sped to the kitchen to make a sausage and tomato pasta sauce, then sped back to the lounge, then sprinted back to the kitchen to put some pasta on, then legged it back to the computer……. we were then just getting to lot 430.  I could feel myself getting all het up- not sure why but I felt really nervous and excited as my eagerly awaited lot arrived.  I was after four beech dining chairs to go with the table I bought at the Belgian brocante.  And I won!   For £5 less than I  had decided I would bid up to.  Then I got all cocky when 434 came up-the South Amercian hardwood side table I had my eye on and missed out by £10.  But as the guy at the auction house said ‘there’s always the next sale’!

A Beautiful Dead Scraggy Bird!

They had absolutely everything you could think of at Chalkwell Auctions-from Versace trays, to a dead scraggy bird in a glass box-I wish I’d seen whether that sold!  There were electric guitars that fetched over £600-I guess they must have been pretty special!

I was really shocked by how exciting and nail biting I found the whole thing.  I was also struck by how I stuck out like a sore thumb after thinking about it afterwards.  I didn’t really fit in with the auction demographics.  Maybe this is because auctions, running a home and school runs don’t really mix so well!