Marthe Armitage and Helen Morley

When you think about it, it’s such a shame that we use the term ‘wallpaper’ to mean not just the physical wall covering, but something bland and unnoticed in the background. There’s ‘wallpaper’ and wallpaper – and each piece of handmade wallpaper is a genuine piece of art in itself.

If you follow us on Facebook – and you do, right? – you will have seen that we recently shared a video about Marthe Armitage. She is a British wallpaper designer who has been hand-producing beautiful lino-printed wallpapers on the same equipment since the 1950s. Here’s the video again.

Marthe is inspired by the natural world but her drawings have a magical,absorbing quality about them. Some, like Marrow, are fairly straightforward representations of foliage and flowers:

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Others, like Gardeners, contain figures:

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Some are entire scenes, like this one (Italian Garden):

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And some of them are not just scenes, but entire little worlds, like Tiger Moth:

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Or Windmills:

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All Marthe’s designs are available through Hamilton Weston, who are specialists in historical and bespoke wallpapers.

By coincidence, there is an article in this month’s Homes and Gardens magazine about Helen Morley, another handmade wallpaper designer who names Marthe Armitage as ‘the person who really inspires me’.


Helen has a background in botany and conservation, as well as art and all her wallpapers start of as botanically accurate drawings. The latest is the very beautiful Peony Rose:




You can see – and buy – Helen’s designs on her website (it’s an old name for an Bristsh native plant). The site also has a beautifully written and amusing blog about the design and manufacture process.

All these amazing handmade wallpapers are about as far from ‘wallpaper’ as you can get – there is nothing bland or unremarkable about them. There’s just one problem. We don’t have enough walls…





Time for tea

The other day we visited Mimi’s Picnic Parlour in Edinburgh (an offshoot of Mimi’s Bakehouse) – isn’t that a great name for a coffee shop? It only has three tables because it specialises in cakes to takeaway, hence the ‘picnic’ bit. And the cakes (and the blondes and the brownies and the tray bakes and the scones…) are amazing. You can check them out here, as well as the delicious savoury goodies, and be thankful that calories and carbohydrates can’t travel through the internet!

Anyway, although it is a very small space they have decorated it in a charming and slightly eccentric style, in keeping with the other branches. First, there are two of these delightful light fittings:






As you can see, they are wire lamp frames which have been decorated with little birds. You can also see that there is no actual bulb in there – probably a good idea from a safety point of view if you were thinking of having a go at making something like this, so you’d need to make sure that fitting wasn’t actually needed as a light source. Here there is a large window and some recessed spotlights in the ceiling.

There is also this wallpaper:



It’s by Dupenny and is called ‘Time for Tea’. It’s a wallpaper that grabs the attention and as Mimi’s Picnic Parlour is small, they have wisely used just one panel of it so it doesn’t dominate the space. (It’s also positioned rather discreetly so that it can’t be seen from that large window we mentioned)!

So the clever ideas don’t just stop with the baked goods! If you are in Edinburgh and fancy dropping in to sample the delicious food served by charming staff,  you can find Mimi’s Picnic Parlour at 250 Canongate, Edinburgh, EH8 8AA.

A Morris Moment

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We’ve recently noticed that William Morris, iconic designer of prints like those above and associate of the Pre-Raphaelites,  is having a bit of a moment – a minor Morris moment, if you will! He is the man who said ‘have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’ – which is a fine principle to follow.

You know how we firmly believe House of Hackney prints to be beautiful? Well, they have brought out a range of prints in collaboration with the William Morris Gallery, taking three original patterns (Peacock and Dragon, Hyacinth and Blackthorn) and developing an entirely new one: Artemis.  This is the lovely Hyacinth wallpaper in teal (it come in a range of colours):


And this is the stunning Artemis wallpaper in grape (also comes in a range of other colours):


As well as wallpapers, the prints are also featured in House of Hackney’s soft furnishing and clothing ranges. (Please note that House of Hackney own all copyright in the two pictures of its wallpaper above).

But it’s not just House of Hackney. Barbour have just brought out a range of jackets lined with Morris prints! Here is the Ruskin jacket, lined with the Acanthus print (one of the original working drawings for Acanthus is shown on the left in the picture at the top of this post):


We love the way the lining is also let into the sleeve:


Useful and beautiful indeed!

Art Deco Menagerie

We might have mentioned before how much we love House of Hackney wallpaper so we’re very excited that they have a new collection out called ‘Art Deco Menagerie’, which is made up of animal prints on striped backgrounds. There are its of animals to choose from but this one is our absolute favourite:


It’s called ‘Baleana’ and this colour way is cream and Aegean blue. This would be so gorgeous in a bathroom… (redecorating the bathroom twice in 18 months is OK, isn’t it? If the wallpaper is really lovely so it’s not like on a whim or anything?)

We also love Flamboyance, which is a flamingo pattern (this colour is off white/macaroon pink:


And Pride, which isn’t lions but ostriches (blush/off black):


There’s also Prowl, which is a cheetah pattern (clay/black)


There are also monkeys, zebras, giraffes – all in a range of colours. You can see the full range here. And House of Hackney are donating 5% of the proceeds to the Born Free Foundation, an international wildlife charity, so you can do good while your walls look good!

(Please note that all the pictures in this post are from the House of Hackney website, so they own the copyright to them – you know how we like to be clear about these things.)

Fine feathers make fine blinds

Way back in July, we had a trip to V V Rouleaux and bought this feather trim to put on a blind:

Some weeks later, it still hadn’t attached itself, so we just had to get on and do it. First thought was to sew it on, but that turned out to be a bad idea. The feathers are glued into a kind of ‘ribbon sandwich’ which means that the band at the top of the trim is very stiff. It also means that the needle picks up glue when it goes through, making it sticky and harder to use. When the blind still had no trim but had acquired a small bloodstain on the back, it was clearly time for a rethink…

Fortunately this was one of those times when the lazy solution turned out to be the right one (we love those) and iron-on hemming tape came to the rescue. We cut the tape in half lengthwise to make it narrow enough and then just lined it up on the wrong side of the blind, covered with a damp cloth and pressed with a hot iron for 10 seconds.

Here is the result:

The wallpaper is the very lovely Hackney Empire from House of Hackney – this picture shows more of it.

And here comes a tip of the kind that we only share with friends: For the last couple of years, House of Hackney has had a sale in the run up to Christmas with big savings on all their products, including wallpaper. There’s no guarantee they will do the same this year, but we’ll be keeping an eye out just in case. 


Peonies are one of the great things about summer – grand and fragile at the same time and with a beautiful, delicate scent. (Have you smelt Jo Malone’s Peony and Blush Suede Cologne? Gorgeous.) They start appearing in the florists in June so they are a real sign that summer is here.

But for interiors, peony-inspired designs are for all year round! Fabrics, wallpaper…. Check out House of Hackney’s Peoneden available in 5 colours. If that all seems like too much commitment to the theme, try a cushion. This one came from The Range: