I am super delighted today to introduce one of my March sponsors – Decorators Notebook. I caught up with Bethan recently to ask her a few questions about her lovely shop…
Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about what you do?
I’m Bethan John and I own the Decorator’s Notebook shop with my brother Joe John. We sell beautiful homewares with interesting origins, made by designers and craftspeople in Britain and overseas. You’ll find us online at www.decoratorsnotebook.co.uk.
What is your inspiration behind opening the shop?
It all started about three years ago with the Decorator’s Notebook blog. I was working as an interiors journalist in London and wanted an online scrapbook where I could gather decorating ideas I might like to try one day. This was before Pinterest launched so a blog seemed just the thing! Blogging was a hobby to start with, but gradually more people became interested in my style and opening a shop selling products with a similar aesthetic seemed a natural next step.
How would you describe the feel of your shop?
We love products that are made from natural materials using traditional methods, ranging from woven Welsh blankets to thrown terracotta tableware and hand-embroidered cushions. The collection is very tightly curated and intentionally quite small, so that it’s easy to find products that will look great together. I’d say the look is pared-back and rustic, with a simple beauty.
Tell us some of your favourite pieces /designers you stock
That’s too hard… I love everything for a different reason! I adore our kantha bedspreads for the inspiring story behind them, the double sided frames for the personalised memory collages you can make, the wildflower colours in our Burren cushion, the way the landscape hooks remind me of my favourite Lake District walk each time I hang up my coat.
What do you love most about what you do?
Imagining our pieces in their new homes, settling in with people who will enjoy and treasure them. Everything in the collection has been carefully chosen because it speaks to me, and it’s such a lovely feeling when someone buys from us and I know the designs call out to others in the same way too.
Please tell us about your current loves…
* Photography – One of the bonuses that’s come from opening the shop is that I’ve finally got to grips my DSLR camera. I was one of those people who was scared to switch off ‘auto’ but doing all our own product photography made me learn and now I love trying out new things.
* Illustration – Anything old and botanical. I collect the little Observer guides because I love their pages of line drawings.
* Graphic design – It’s more of a headache than a love, but we’re in the process of redesigning our blog so I’m making a big moodboard of layouts, fonts and styles.
* Home/interiors I’m loving the trend for deep, moody paint colours at the moment. I’m working myself up to painting a whole room in Farrow & Ball’s Stiffkey blue.
* Books – I’m a few pages away from finishing The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and I think it might just be the best book I’ve ever read. Coming from an English Lit graduate that’s praise indeed!
* Magazines – Kinfolk and Cereal for the photography.
* Shops – I’m beginning to discover lots of the wonderful places on my new West Country, many of them via Littlegreenshed.
* Drink – Always a gin and tonic with loads of fresh lime.
* Eat – At the moment our chickens are in overdrive, so I’m mainly eating eggs and looking for recipes that use as many as possible!
* Play – I recently started learning how to I recently started learning how to Lindy Hop! It’s great fun, good exercise and I love dressing up in ‘20s style.
Please describe your own interiors style at home
It’s very similar to Decorator’s Notebook – simple with lots of texture and natural materials. I love collecting things so you’ll always find little displays of bits I’ve found around the place… feathers, dried seedheads, pebbles with interesting shapes…
What do you think is going to be ‘hot’ for this year?
I think people are becoming more and more interested in the provenance of the things they have in their homes. What started in food – an appreciation of local, fairtrade, organic and handmade products – is spreading into design too. We all yearn for more of a connection to the things we surround ourselves with and a growing appreciation for simple objects made with love and care. Visitors to our shop and blog tell us they love our ‘Meet the Maker’ posts – they bring the stories behind the products to life and help people feel a more personal connection to the pieces they choose.
What is a typical working day for you?
I left London and moved back to Somerset – where Joe and I grew up – last summer when the plans for Decorator’s Notebook began to fall into place. I’m really loving working from home and being in the countryside… my commuting days are over! When I’m at home I can be found looking for new products, contacting makers and designers, blogging and on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. At lunchtime I usually take the dogs a walk in the woods behind the house – we have an English Pointer of our own and also socialise puppies for Hearing Dogs. All this punctuated with copious amounts of tea!
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I really love my vintage kantha bedspread, which I rather naughtily kept from our first box from Basha. Basha is a social enterprise in Bangladesh that helps women escape sex trafficking and rebuild their lives by providing stable employment, counselling, education and healthcare. Each of the kanthas is hand-sewn by one women from start to finish and completed with a label embroidered with her name and a link to her personal story. Mine was made by Nargis from a beautiful old navy and coral sari – I think of her every time I touch it.
If you were stranded in the wilds what item would you want with you to survive?
I’ve often thought I was a cavewoman in a previous life, as I really love the thought of living out in the wilds! I think I’d make sure I had an Opinel pocket knife with me, for hunting and whittling and whatnot.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
I’d love to be doing what I do now, but bigger, better and with more confidence.
Thank you Bethan and Joe – such a great interview. Decorators Notebook are kindly offering all Littlegreenshed readers 10% off everything in the shop. Offer is valid until the end of April. Using the code: LGS10. (please note shipping still applies).