Laurel and Yew

Interior Design

Fellowes Sit-Stand Workstations

Standing desks have been slowly making appearances in the trendiest workplaces around the world. With an increased interest in wellbeing in the workplace, possibly driven by the generational change but also by the technological advancements changing the way we work (we can communicate with the colleague at the other side of the office on Slack rather than getting up to talk to them as we used to), it seems that the future is going in that direction.

However, I've never been a fan of standing desks as the ones I've seen before: they are regular desks, just standing, and anyone who works a job that keeps them on their feet a lot can tell you that it isn't as nice. The key is in the changing position, but double desks for every employees or just enough standing desks to rotate require a bigger amount of space than many offices can afford. This is where Fellowes' genius come into play.

Their range is of 3 Sit-Stand solutions that allow you to modify the regular sitting desk to switch to a standing desk. They also offer standing platforms to make standing more comfortable. 
The workstations are easy to set up and accommodate existing workstations, whether you have a regular rectangular desk of one of the more modern designs. 

Lotus Sit-Stand Workstation


The Lotus™ Sit-Stand Workstation is very easy to use. The patent-pending Smooth Lift Technology (which I have tested at a presentation) keeps the workstation stable while allowing to change the position to one of the 22 different height settings (so you can find the perfect one for you) with minimal effort even on the first attempt (so it's due to become second nature when working with one all the time). The innovative cord management and device charing slot not only makes it possible to allow the workstation to move freely, but also keeps it nice and tidy. And the best feature? It comes already assembled and ready to crack on. The Lotus™ is the workstation in the range that works for those of us who work from laptops. 
(The monitor arms like in the 2nd picture are sold separately).

Extend Sit-Stand Workstation


If you work with a traditional monitor, whether one or two screens, the Extend™ is a sleek and convenient solution. With less space taken than the Lotus™ while keeping the same characteristics, and a monitor arm that swivels 180º, it's a more dynamic workstation fit for a creative and collaborative environment. It reaches up to 1016mm.

EasyGlide™ Sit-Stand Work Platform


The EasyGlide™ Sit-Stand Workstation takes the collaborative aspect to the next level. Similar to the Extend™, it only reaches to 560mm but the gas spring mechanism also enables screen-sharing and collaborative working. 

The range is created around the needs of a modern workplace, Research has uncovered which tasks benefit more from being in a position rather than another, and your common sense probably gives you an idea of what they are (I aimlessly wander around my kitchen a lot when trying to think). Creativity is enhanced by standing, while focus by sitting down. Research also backs the Fellowes 4 Zone Approach: the answer to sitting down is not standing, it's changing position. Regular changes of position (every 60-90 minutes at worst) have a bigger impact on our health than just standing the whole time. 

As a designer, I start all of my work from the lived experience of the people who would use the space, so I'm very much on board with Fellowes' starting point of highlighting health hazards and finding solutions that are convenient to implement. You can find more information about the range on their website (please note they sell through third party suppliers, and in the UK I would recommend Viking as they are the ones who organised the presentation that allowed me to test the range for myself before writing this). You can see the products in action in their videos, one of which I have attached below but all of them available on their Youtube channel. 



Lessons in Interior Décor from Pride and Prejudice

Whenever I scroll through my Instagram feed, or flick through one of the many glossy magazines I buy at train stations before a journey, I'm met with dozens of beautiful images of interiors and no matter what style it is, they all share something in common: the rooms are full of things. Beautiful things that make up beautiful ensembles, that's for sure, but I often feel that, in 2017, we are now in an age that is crying for more minimalism.
Myself, and I'm sure many others, are a bit wary of that word, because it conjures images of black geometric blocks, glass coffee table and the stereotypical bachelor pad like that of Harvey Specter in Suits. It doesn’t have to be like that: the key feature of minimalism is that is reduces decoration to what is really necessary. In an age where we have the compulsion to buy more and more objects to turn a house into our home, reducing what we have to a few things really worth seeing (statement pieces, if you like) is quite counter-cultural. It is also, according to the growing number of people embracing movements for more ethical shopping habits, our only way forward if we want to take good care of the environment (as well as our fellow human beings.)

Being one of these people, I take great inspiration from a time when this wave of consumerism was only just starting, whether it is from historical houses or recreated ones, like the sets of the adaptation of Jane Austen's novels. The Wright version of Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightly is, in my opinion, underrated, although understandably given it's fighting its corner against the famous BBC miniseries with a wet-white-shirted Colin Firth, but one of the features of the film is precisely the quality of the interiors and the way they play into the general depictions of the characters.

The first interior that we see is the house of the Bennett family. It's the house of a gentleman, although not a gentleman of means (not an irrelevant distinction, as gentility is seen in the novel as a quality of the person that money cannot buy), but it's spacious and decorated with the kind of objects that started to appear in the 18th century from other parts of the British Empire, shown in English drawing rooms as a status symbols (for example China vases). There was a whole industry creating such pieces for the less affluent in English factories, now valuable antiques in their own right. The fragility of these objects meant they could only be used on surfaces that were not working surfaces so, despite the scarcity of objects to our modern eyes, the home of the Bennetts shows us we can have elegance and a sense of richness even with owning less. The striking blue of some of the walls add to this impression: a white wall would make the natural light even more prominent, but would create a sense of bareness in the least decorated rooms. Blue is also a colour associated with calm and elegance.

The second interior we see is Netherfields. It's all in shades of white, grey and brown; the natural colours of marbles. The small dining room in which we find Miss Bingley and Mr. Darcy is almost lacking in decoration, with the neo-classical columns being the focus. Something that is even further away from our modern sensibilities is the lack of textiles. Most of our homes are soft on our feet with lots of carpets, and we have blankets and cushions to make our couches (themselves in models that are more comfortable than the wooden frames of the Regency period) cosier. Textiles, however, are more high maintenance than the highly decorated marble floor of the ballroom, which is a stunning piece of work. This elegant simplicity can inspire us to find an agreeable modern version for our own house, like coloured tiles or mix-and-match patterned wooden floors, which would add character to a room without adding to our already long list of day to day responsibilities the way textiles do. They are also great for people with a dust allergy, as they don't trap dust like carpets do.

One of the biggest lessons I've learnt from Pride and Prejudice is how to tell the difference between elegant simplicity and bareness. This is something that really shows in the Parsonage. The only room that has attentive décor is the personal sitting room of the mistress. Everything else is as stern as you'd expect from the kind of clergyman (and man as a whole) that is the Rev. Mr. Collins. The choice of delicately decorated pastel green wallpapers, while too simple, makes the house still appear a comfortable and pleasant enough home with a feminine touch (very unlike Lady Catherine de Burgh, who is supposed to be the hand behind the finesse of the whole of Rosings Park). Wallpaper is also something less demanding of commitment than re-painting our walls, but which still allows us to create a colourful living space without cluttering it with paintings and pictures on every inch (and as a bonus, you can add pictures and paintings on top of your wallpaper if you have a spacious enough room). However, this becomes even more evident in the contrast between Rosings and Pemberley.  

Rosings Park is the home of a titled widow with an imposing personality, and is shown to be dark and baroque. It is true that most scenes are taking place at night, but the massive Restoration frescoes in the Elizabethan original palace (Burghley House in Lincolnshire) appear darker than the other interiors in daylight too (like in the scene when Elizabeth is first introduced). Everything about Rosings is there to remind you that you just aren't to the level of Lady Catherine. Contrast that with Pemberley, the real life seat of a duke (Chatsworth House in Derbyshire), despite the lack of title of Mr. Darcy. Everything about Pemberley is elegant open spaces, a lot of white marble and plenty of light. Darcy, unlike his aunt, embodies the kind of gentleman who would see nobility as an interior characteristic rather than an outward display of power and wealth, and such a view of himself is made clear by his objections to Elizabeth's family while not objecting to her directly. To him, she possesses these inner qualities in spite of the inferiority of her situation. Pemberley seems to me to reflect exactly this about his personality: it's an astonishing place, and there is a sense that this is an innate quality. It's a thoughtful display of refined taste, rather than the consequence of filling it up with things to impress people to the point it becomes overwhelming in a negative way.

For all his faults, Jane Austen's most famous romantic hero has a lot to teach us 200 years later, not only about matters of the heart, but also about matters of the home. 

Your L&Y: Restaining an antique dresser by Cate from Random Crafty Georgia Girl

My husband and I love going to antique shows and auctions. We don't have a lot of antique furniture since we are kind of picky about what we like but we have two antique dressers. One we bought at auction and the other one has been in my husband's family for a long time!
This dresser was painted so many times that we didn't know the original color of it. When we got it it was an orangey peach color.

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The American Country House

Throughout June, we have looked at country houses around the world: the iconic British, the traditional Italian, and the charming French styles.
Today, we leave Europe behind to explore another quintessential style: American. From Canada in the north to the pampas of the south, the rustic style over the pond has captured the imagination of generations through films and literature. Classics like Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery and The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende take place with the backdrop of a country house.

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The French Country House

The uncontested kingdom of the shabby chic effect is (everywhere that wishes it was) Provence. The style which we most commonly associate to the French country home is first and foremost the rustic simplicity of the Provençal style. Coloured furniture in light or bright colours like aquamarine (Annie Sloan has a shade that is called, aptly, Provence) or lavender takes the centre stage, in particular in the kitchen. Wood and cast iron are common materials, but rattan chairs and woven baskets are what really sets the French atmosphere apart from other countries’ country homes.

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The Italian Country House

From North to South, every region of Italy has a kind of traditional country house. Whether they were purely residential or a working farm, they share many characteristics. The rich history of the Italian peninsula is also reflected in the architectural influences in each area.

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The British Country Home

When one thinks of country houses, it’s easy to picture a lot of tweed and Chesterfield arm-chairs (and if tweed is what you are looking for, then head straight to the Northumbrian Tweed Company’s website), but the look of a traditional country home isn’t confined to that. From the use of natural sandstone in the Chilterns, or red bricks in Yorkshire, every corner of the country has its own special touch. However, there are a few small ways to make any house feel more like a country home, whether it’s a cottage in a small village in Cumbria or a 10 minutes-walk away from East Croydon Station.

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Our favourite highlights from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

May’s theme was flowers, so what better way to round it up than with an overview of the flower event of the year, the Chelsea Flower Show? One of the big events of the London social calendar (which took place between 23 and the 27th), it’s also the best known of the Royal Horticultural Society many shows, some of which will take place with the backdrop of some of the country’s finest estates over the summer. Here’s our top 5 gardens from the recent show, in no particular order.

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