November '07 Newsletter

Welcome to our monthly newsletter, providing you with the latest events and courses, trend forecasts, new sources, and answers to your interior design problems.

"More and more clients are using the zeitgeisty buzz words ‘green’, ‘environmentally friendly’, ‘sustainable’. At Retrouvius we have always used architectural salvage so re-use is not new to us. I often transform well-used old science lab benches into sleek teak kitchen work tops or stairs and for this poolhouse project I re-upholstered a 1950s Hans Wegner settee in a zingy contemporary colour."
Maria Speake, RETROUVIUS reclamation and design.
Don't miss this month
Antiques for Everyone (1-4 Nov) , NEC, Birmingham. The UK’s largest indoor antiques fair, with around 400 dealers in every area of antique collecting and period design. Plus ‘ A passion for Gothic’ loan exhibition. Spirit of Christmas Fair (7-11 Nov), Olympia, London. This year’s most ambitious Christmas shopping event will include over 600 exhibitors picked by House & Garden magazine. Gifts, decorations, specialist foods and wines galore. Plus inspiring talks and demonstrations. Book tickets on 0870 1212525 or visit and quote SP37. Tickets are £15 (inc fair directory and goody bag). The Winter Fine Art & Antiques Fair (12-18 Nov), Olympia Exhibition Halls, Hammersmith Road, London W14. Dazzling pieces are always on show at this top quality fair. Over 235 fine art and antique dealers exhibit here, with every item of stock carefully vetted for authenticity. Ticket hotline:0871-2319218. Country Living Magazine Christmas Fair (14-18 Nov), Business Design Centre, London N1. Stock up with Christmas gifts, home accessories and festive decorations, food and drink. Over 400 companies have a stand here. Ticket hotline 08701 261801 or see Fine Cell Work Anniversary Sale & Exhibition (15-16 Nov),Chelsea Town Hall, London SW3. For 10 years this charity has been teaching prisoners superb needlework skills and selling their work on their behalf. Tapestry, patchwork and appliquéd cushions and quilts will be on sale, along with giant Christmas stockings and tree decorations. Visit for more information. National Maintenance Week. (16-23 Nov), Set up by SPAB to encourage people to maintain old buildings. There will be a technical helpline open every morning during this week to give callers advice and guidance on maintenance issues. Tel: 020-7456 0916 RCA Secret (16-24 Nov), Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7. An annual event with around 2,500 original postcard-sized artworks, made and donated by professional artists, plus up-and-coming graduates from the RCA. The cards are all sold to the public in a huge sale, with every postcard costing just £40. What’s the ‘Secret’? Each postcard is signed on the back, so buyers do not know the identity of the artist until they have made their purchase. Aladdin (21-24 Nov), The Cochrane Theatre, Holborn, London. The Interior Designers’ Pantomime is your chance to see interior designers Bill Bennette, Nina Campbell, Joanna Wood, William Yeoward and others dressed up to the nines ! It’s sponsored by leading fabric, floorcovering and publishing names, and proceeds go to The Starlight Children’s Foundation for seriously and terminally ill children. Hidden Art Open Studios (24-25 Nov; 1-2 Dec), Running for the 14th year and returning to its East London route, this organisation promotes designer-makers. Get your free map from A Natural Obsession (until 23 Dec), The Harley Gallery, Welbeck, Notts. New nature-inspired ceramics by Kate Malone and metal work in steel and silver by Junko Mori. The artists were given access to the archives at the Portland Museum, accumulated by the 18th century naturalist Margaret Cavendish, 2nd Duchess of Portland. Let there be Light (until the New Year), The London Silver Vaults, London WC2. A selling display of candelabra, candlesticks and other Christmassy lighting and an excuse to visit the warren of 30 silver shops located at The Vaults.

Ask the experts
Selected from our free Q&A service. Q: I'm trying to find a chrome 'no junk mail' sign for my door.  Do you know where I can find one? My internet search has proved fruitless. 
A: Architectural Components offer one in polished stainless steel which goes well with their polished chrome letterplates. It’s on their website under Signs and is a reasonable £19.50 plus VAT. They have explained to me that it’s really not worth the expense of having a brass one specially chrome-plated, although they could do it if you are desperate!
Q: I am looking for a floor paint that gives me that French ‘washed’ look, so that you see the texture of the wood through the paint. I don’t want something too solid-looking. I was thinking of using some kind of white paint that doesn't cover the grains of the old wood completely (the floor has been sanded). Could you please advise the best way to achieve this?
A: Decorators’ suppliers Ray Munn ( import the Swedish Beckers range of wood stains. They suggest using their ‘Decor Trabets’ wood stain and protecting it with ‘Parkettlack’, which gives it a wear-resistant finish. Alternatively, the flooring company European Heritage can supply you with the wood finishing range by Osmo - there's a 'white transparent' and a 'white spruce' sealant which would give you a similar effect

Q: I would like to have three shades re-covered to match my bedding.  Who provides such a service?
A: Try A Shade Above, lampshade specialists who will make any shape, size, style, finish and quantity (within reason!). They can also copy antique shades and re-cover clients’ own frames

Sources of the month

If it’s autumn it must be chestnuts, and Hen & Hammock sell the traditional long-handled pan for roasting them on an open fire. Made in Norfolk in hand-forged steel, it costs £26. Enhance the fireside experience with their marshmallow-toasting fork (£21) While we’re on fireplaces, why not check out the new ‘Balance Nature’ log-burning stove by Peter Maly for Conmoto. It features modular units which include log storage sections, a TV console on shelves, a chest of drawers and a bench. Call Encompass on 02392 410045 for more information or visit

Also new (launched at 100% Design) are two new and very smart electric fires from the pioneers of modern fireplace concepts, The Platonic Fireplace Company. The ‘Electrolympus’ and ‘Electroscape’ are both suitable for rooms with no flues. See or 020-8891 5904.