January 30, 2011

In home decor, London is the new Paris

Designer Mei Xu says London 'blends charm and cheekiness.'

By KIM COOK The Associated Press

Goodbye, Paris. Hello, London! While the French capital's been dear to home decorators for several years, we're seeing the look of London more and more in the newest furnishings and accessories.

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Bliss Living Home’s Victoria table linens and British-inspired tea set. Paris has been dear to home decorators for years, but now it seems to be London’s turn.

The Associated Press

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American Chateau’s London street wall decal

The Associated Press

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www.artfire.com: Stickerbrand Big Ben wall decal, $29.95; Tardis phone booth, $44.99

www.blisslivinghome.com: London Calling collection, candles $13 and up

www.jonathanadler.com: British flag dog bed, $195-245; flag rug, $160

www.metrosofa.com: British flag throne chair, $899 and up

www.theinteriorgallery.com: London phone booth replica, $959.99

www.csnstores.com: British Invasion Queen silhouette clock, $49.95; Queen/Flag pillows, $49.95; Buckingham Palace keychain, $7.95

www.posterrevolution.com: red phone booth door poster, $6.80.

Is it fleur de lys fatigue? Too many Eiffel Towers? Perhaps. As designer Mei Xu notes, "London blends charm and cheekiness, traditions and trends."

And it doesn't hurt to have a royal wedding just around the corner.

Xu's Bliss Living Home has introduced an extensive collection inspired by things British. "To me, London's simply irresistible," she says. "It's such a vibrant city, where the past and present merge."

She remembers a visit by Margaret Thatcher to her childhood school in China. The British prime minister gave the students a large book about the wedding of Charles and Diana. For Xu, it revealed an exciting and glamorous world, and it inspired her creative career.

Her collection's color palette uses white and charcoal, hues associated with London's often damp weather, and a soft mint green that seems to blend the sea and the forest.

There are candles shaped like Big Ben; pillows showing double-decker buses and classic phone booths; printed bedding with the London Bridge; and blankets, rugs and shower curtains with an oversize hounds-tooth pattern and riding-set vibe. Metallic inks etch crowns on pillows, table linens and tea sets.

Jonathan Adler is a fan of the Union Jack flag, and emblazons it on hand-loomed llama-wool dog beds, rugs, pillows, coasters, even paperweights.

Stickerbrand has a 6-foot wall decal of Big Ben, London's famous clock, and American Chateau has a large decal of a city intersection in the heart of London.

The bright red London phone booth, one of the city's historic trademarks, was retired many years ago. Replicas are available, in the $1,000 range. But for a few dollars, you can create the illusion of one with a door-size poster from Poster Revolution.

"Doctor Who" fans might like Artfire's wall decal of the Tardis police phone booth.

Metrosofa has a white, throne-style chair featuring the flag upholstered on the back; it's much smarter looking that it sounds, honestly.

And finally, Naked Decor uses vibrant colors like navy, sky blue, scarlet and inky black to transform several icons -- the Union Jack, Tower of London, even the Queen's silhouette and the keys to Buckingham Palace -- into clocks, pillows and other accessories. The collection is called British Invasion.


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Additional Photos

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Bliss Living Home’s London Bridge printed bedding

The Associated Press

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Poster Revolution’s British phone booth door-sized poster

The Associated Press

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Novelty candles from Bliss Living Home

The Associated Press

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