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The True Value of Quality & Craftsmanship

I have always loved beautiful things. As a student I would rummage through sales looking for classically tailored vintage clothing. I once found a Dior ball gown from the 1950’s in a Norwich shop and the workmanship alone was a marvel to behold. To this day, an object lovingly crafted and finished with care and passion can still take my breath away.

couture

Really well-made items though, are increasingly difficult to come by, especially in a world where so many things are manufactured to be disposable.True craftsmanship is often sacrificed for expediency and whilst we are still capable of recognising the value of something that has been expertly constructed, the cheap and easy option is often chosen instead.

atelier

How many times have any of us been lured by a low price only to find that it lasts for five minutes? A garment that doesn’t fit properly or loses colour after a few washes, or an item with a value so low that you simply don’t care about ruining it because it doesn’t really matter. Ironically, these “bargains” can end up being the more expensive option in the long run as constant replacement purchases outstrip the cost of having bought a well-crafted product in the first place.

However, despite our uncertain times we are seeing a quiet uprising. People are starting to realise the impact of our throwaway culture and are looking for more in terms of quality and longevity. Consumers are questioning how products are made and understanding that sustainability must be about making well-crafted items that last.

linen buttons

 

Something made by the hand of a skilled artisan is unique. No two pieces will be the same and in this way every product has its own story woven and stitched into it by the passion and attention to detail of the maker. After decades of cheap, faceless mass produced “stuff” I like to think that customers are looking for products with a bit of character and personality that respect the beauty of the raw materials.

hand guided bourdon

 

We like to think that this is what we offer from our atelier. Beautifully made products using beautiful materials . It doesn’t get more satisfying than that!

 

 

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Get creative with the Dormitory moodboard competition

Moodboard Competition.

Here at Dormitory, we are big fans of a moodboard for facilitating  our bed linen design process. A board doesn’t need to be a literal representation of a design scheme of course, it is more of a visual representation of the vibe or feel you are trying to achieve. It’s a great way of clarifying and arranging your vision into something truly inspirational.

With a new season comes a new mood, and we’d like to celebrate the start of Autumn with a  moodboard competition on Pinterest. We’re challenging those of you with creative aspirations to build a board on Pinterest for an Autumn bedroom makeover centred around 1 of 4 of our luxury bedlinen designs. To enter, simply follow us on Pinterest, find the bed linen images to use on our Dormitory competition board, and the rest is up to you!

Choose from:

Empress in Green or Blue – Egyptian cotton sateen

Brunswick in Dew Pond or Flint – pure linen

Stanhope white with classic hemstitching – Egyptian cotton percale

Wallace Sand –  a contemporary Egyptian cotton percale

 

moodboard

 

Get those creative juices flowing and play around with colour, textures, furniture, accessories and detailing. Have a look at at our board with examples. If its your first time creating a board, here are some tips:

  1. Look beyond the digital world – find your own sources.
  2. Take pictures wherever you are – find inspiration.
  3. Curate what you include.
  4. Choose a style but make it loose. Make the theme obvious.
  5. Build around your favourite statement or image.
  6. Aim to spark an emotional response.
  7. Don’t make assumptions.

A small panel of interior design experts will pick the best board in each of the 4 bed linen design categories, and from those, the ultimate winning board. The winner of the most inspiring board will receive the set of luxury bed linen they chose to use for their board design.

Your board should contain 15-20 images and the closing date for entry is October 20th 2018. Please use the title ‘My Dormitory Bedroom’ and the hashtag #MyDormitoryBedroom for your board description and tweet a link to us @dormitoryuk or email sales@dormitoryuk.com

 

Terms and Conditions: • Competition closes at 11.59pm on 20/10/18. Competition is open to UK residents only •  The winner will be chosen on 23/10/18 and notified by email or Twitter • If the chosen winner does not claim their prize within 24 hours then another will be chosen • The winner will receive one set of bedlinen (as used in their moodboard design – 1 duvet cover, 2 x pillow cases) • The prize carries no cash value, is non-transferable and may not be substituted • Only one entry per person is permitted • The prize will be sent directly from Dormitory and is subject to delivery times • Dormitory cannot be held responsible for any damages or delays as a result of accepting the prize • This competition is not sponsored, endorsed by or in any way associated with Pinterest or Instagram •

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How to set a table for formal occasions – summer dining special.

What a July we’re having! Summer has certainly arrived, and with it, the season for entertaining. With the longer, lighter and warmer evenings, we’re all emerging from our winter hibernation and wholeheartedly embracing dinner parties, weddings, picnics, barbecues and outdoor parties of all description. 

Obviously lots of these occasions are casual and paper plates, plastic cutlery, paper napkins and fingers will often do nicely! Some events however demand a bit more formality and a certain etiquette. So If you’re throwing a formal dinner or party this summer – or even organising a wedding reception, here’s all you need to you know about how to set a table for the perfect dining experience.

 

The formal dinner table.

  1. Use a good weight cotton or linen tablecloth.
  2. Lay a matching place mat.
  3. Place a charger plate in the centre of each place setting.
  4. Place a dinner plate on top of the charger plate.
  5. If there’s a soup or salad course – place the soup or salad bowl on top of the dinner plate.
  6. Place forks to the left of the plate and knives and spoons to the right, knives facing inwards, forks with the prongs facing up.
  7. Work inwards according to the order of courses. Eg, starter fork, fish fork, dinner fork, on the left, or soup spoon, fish knife, dinner knife on the right.
  8. Place a side plate and butter knife to the top left of each place setting.
  9. Lay the dessert fork and spoon at the top of the place setting, with the fork pointing right and the spoon pointing left.
  10. Place a water, then red, then white wine glass clockwise from the top right of the table setting.
  11. Use a good cotton or linen napkin and arrange in the middle of the table setting, or if simply folded, place it on the side plate or under the forks on the left.

 

how to set a table

 

The wedding table.

The wedding table (depending on the formality of your wedding) follows the formal table setting principle but with a few variations.

  1. Champagne glasses should be placed to the right of the water glass
  2. Place cards can be positioned above the place setting or in the centre (you could incorporate it by placing it in a fold in the napkin for example.)
  3. Menus – individual printed menus can also be placed in the centre of the place setting, or in a fold in the napkin.
  4. Favours – again, a totally optional extra, but it is often nice to incorporate as part of the table setting decoration.
  5. Floral decoration – your wedding tables will usually have a single floral centrepiece for a round table, or a with the increasing trend for long, narrow tables, a long garland style of floral decoration.  Allow enough space for your floral centrepiece when setting the table places.

 

how to set a table

how to set a table

 

 

 

 

 

 

The formal buffet table.

  1. Use heavy cotton or linen tablecloths which will not shift or slip as guests are passing.
  2. If you have enough space, place the table in the centre of the room so that two lines of guests will be able to serve themselves on both sides of the table at the same time.
  3. If you manage to do it this way, divide up each dish onto two platters to place on opposite sides of the table with serving spoons and forks.
  4. Divide the main dish into two and place one platter at each end of the table.
  5. Stack the plates beside each main platter and arrange the cutlery and napkins by each set of plates.
  6. Place two sets of the other dishes, bread, dressings and condiments along both sides of the table.
  7. If you only have room to put the table against a wall, place the main dish, plates and cutlery at the end that works best for the flow of guests.
  8. Place glasses and drinks on a separate side table so as not to disrupt the flow of people.

 

 

We hope this has given you a few useful pointers on how to set a table for formal entertaining. To celebrate the fabulous season of summer dining, we are offering 25% off our luxury table linens. Use code NAPKIN at checkout. Click here for details.

 

Dormitory also offers a bespoke table linen service for weddings and special occasions. For more information, contact us here.

 

how to set a table

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The value of comfort – why quality Egyptian cotton just might be worth paying for.

Egyptian cotton bedding

Egyptian cotton – is it worth it?

There are so many renovation and makeover shows on TV these days that you’d be forgiven for thinking that that’s the way people always go about decorating and furnishing their homes; a big budget, a grand design – and as if by magic, the dream home appears. The reality of course is usually a bit less instant and a lot more haphazard. The early-adult years are full of frequent moves and changing circumstances – it takes quite a while before we find anywhere we can put down roots and really call ‘home’. During this time we tend to accumulate home furnishings; starting with the cheapest Ikea futon, fold-up chairs and roller blinds when we first live independently, and gradually replacing and upgrading as we move on, our relationships and tastes mature or our family and work circumstances change.

But some items endure. Although I now have a family house and have done some renovation and redecorating of my own, I reflected the other day that I still own the ubiquitous and perfectly serviceable Billy bookcases I bought for my first flat, my nan’s rickety old nest of coffee tables and the (probably dangerous!) 60’s aluminium cooking pans my mum passed on to me when I left for university.

What’s more, when I started doing social media work over a year ago for Dormitory, I realised that I had never managed to acquire a really decent set of bed linen in my adult life – though not for want of trying. When the numerous cheap and cheerful polyester and cotton mix duvet sets of my 20s began to wear out, I was delighted to see that in the intervening years, the internet had opened up a way of buying ‘quality’ bedlinen at surprisingly reasonable prices. Lots of online retailers sprang up offering high thread count Egyptian Cotton bedding at a fraction of the cost of those luxury lines I coveted in high-end department stores. At around £80-£100 for a 400 TC pure Egyptian Cotton duvet set, it was amazing value. Indeed it almost seemed too good to be true.

And truth to tell, it actually was. When I unwrapped the beautifully branded packaging and unfurled my new bedding, I was slightly disappointed by the weight of the sheets. I had expected something more substantial for 400 Thread Count Egyptian cotton – something significantly ‘better’ than anything I had had before. But the sheets felt a little flimsy and when held up to the light had an almost transparent quality. The finish was nice and soft – but this softness seemed to wear off after a few washes. Also the detail on the set was minimal – basic stitching and ties rather than buttons for fastening the duvet. It was a perfectly good and functional bedding set of course, better than the cheap sets I’d had before, but certainly not the ‘special’ Egyptian cotton experience I had been hoping for.

When I went on to start working with Dormitory and they gifted me a set of their best-selling white Brompton 400TC 100% Egyptian Cotton percale, I was curious to say the least. Having had a slightly unremarkable experience with Egyptian Cotton the first time round, I definitely needed convincing that that this would be different – especially as I knew that Dormitory bed linen came with a promise of quality and a realistic price tag to match.

 

Egyptian Cotton

 

Luckily, (especially as I was about to start tweeting on their behalf!) I wasn’t disappointed. When I unwrapped my package, the sheets were crisp and smooth to the touch – they felt substantial and when I held them up to the light they were opaque, seemingly really tightly woven. The attention to detail showed especially in the finishing – with a deep cuff on the duvet, three rows of contrasting cording around the edges and fine button closures. The ultimate proof of the bed linen is in the sleeping of course – and I’m happy to report that the bedding not only looked gorgeous on the bed – but felt even better, being cool and smoothly soft to the touch. Dormitory owners Cathy and Sue explained how the best Egyptian cotton is made from a longer staple with high quality finishing which makes the material super soft, durable and breathable. This means that the softness actually increases over time with washing rather than fading as with the cheaper yarns. I have also found this to be true – and the only drawback with my luxurious cotton sheets is that they have a tendency to crumple after washing as natural materials often do (and because I usually overfill my tumble dryer!). As I am far too lazy to iron anything at all, let alone bed sheets, I was pleased to learn that this wrinkling can easily be mitigated by removing sheets from the dryer while they are still slightly damp, shaking them out and applying a bit of tension and a linen mist. Pretty straightforward even for slovenly me! Have a look at the Dormitory bedding care guide here.

 

Egyptian cotton

 

A year and a half on and the bedding is going strong – still looking good, bright white and getting progressively softer. I have to say I have been converted. It seems that the luxurious Egyptian cotton experience is very real – if you are willing to spend a little extra for it. And why the hell not? We spend an average of 25 years of our lives in bed – we might as well be comfortable!

Don’t take my word for it – contact Dormitory here to order a swatch of any of our linens.

#FeelingIsBelieving.

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Message in Flowers

Messages in Flowers

‘I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine, With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night, Lulled in these flowers with dances and delight’

                                                      

                                                                     Midsummer Nights Dream   Shakespeare

 

It’s May and probably the time English gardens are at their absolute best. With the Chelsea Flower show starting this week and wedding fever having swept the land, beautiful flowers are on our mind. As well as their colour, shape, scent and loveliness have you every thought what they might mean?

                Flora, Goddess of Spring  100AD Fresco

 

Flower symbolism has its origins in the literature and art of antiquity where they were used as metaphors for virtue and vice. In Classical mythology humans were transformed into plants as a reward or punishment. Narcissus, the vain boy who fell in love with his own reflection, was changed into the flower that bears his name today.

In the Hebrew Bible there are many references to trees, fruits and flowers and they are often used as part of moralising parables and love stories. The Song of Solomon contains many of the rich imageries ‘I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valley’s’

With the arrival of Christianity in Western Europe the writers and artists used botanical imagery as a means of explaining and interpreting religious beliefs. The Venerable Bede, the medieval Benedictine scholar likened the Virgin Mary to a ‘white lily’ while St Bernard, four centuries later, described her as ‘the violet of humility, the lily of chastity’

 

The Annuciation   John W Waterhouse

Plant and flower symbolism are also found in Medieval Herbals. Herbals were well known and used to identify herbs by showing their natural properties, taste, colour, smell, shape but also their possible moral connotations. The poisonous hemlock represents evil and death while the simple clover with its three leaves represented the Trinity.

From the earliest medieval period till the end of the Renaissance, artists choose certain flowers to convey messages about their subjects. Their viewers would have immediately understood these. Some meanings have changed over time or been lost completely but these are some of the most commonly used in Western art.

Carnation – are a symbol of betrothal or engagement. In China, a carnation is the symbol of marriage.

Daisy – white daisies are the symbol of innocence

For –get-me-not – low growing plant with small bright blue flowers. It’s a sign of remembrance. They are supposed by myth to be the words of a lover who fell into a river while picking them for his lover.

Primivera   Botticelli 1482

Iris – they are associated with death, as Iris was the Greek goddess of the rainbow. She used it to carry women’s souls to the underworld.

Jasmine – with its beautiful scent is the Hindu symbol of love.

Lily – they have always been a symbol of purity, chastity and innocence. White lilies represent the purity of the Virgin Mary. The Angel Gabriel is often shown presenting them to her at the Annunciation.

Colours of flowers also have a very strong significance and the themes are very clearly shown in the symbolism of these different roses.

Roses

Red – are symbolic of love and passion. In the Catholic Church they are the symbol of the Virgin Mary

Pink – gentle and innocent love

White – virginity and purity

Yellow – a symbol of friendship or infidelity and jealousy

 

Rosemary – included in funeral wreaths for remembrance and also in wedding bouquets for fidelity. It is said that if you touch a lover with a piece of rosemary they’ll be faithful forever.  The British royals to this day have Myrtle in their wedding bouquets. It is a traditional symbol of good luck and love in marriage.

Victorian postcard

Although flowers have been used for centuries to send messages the language of flowers or floriography was at its zenith in Victorian times in both Great Britain and the United States. It was used to send meaningful messages, convey deep secrets or share moments. Nearly every flower had a special meaning, expressing feelings that could not be spoken aloud in Victorian society.

The craze grew and there were actual complex floral dictionaries and small ‘talking bouquets’ or tussie mussies were exchanged.

So next time you pick bouquet or Instagram that floral image, think what you might be saying!

 

NB : to celebrate all things floral we are offering 30% off all our bath and home fragrances   code  FLORAL30