a way of life...

Year: 2015 (Page 1 of 6)

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

This year I employed a very special person to help me design my Christmas décor. One Friday evening eight year old Sam and I sat with a pile of  H&G magazines and thumbed the pages of the January issues to find a vast array of decorative schemes; everything from the ultra-modern to the very traditional. Funnily enough it wasn’t me who turned my nose up at the chic minimalist schemes, but young Sam.

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So when it was time for me to decorate our tree I turned my back on the sophisticated golden ornaments that had been adorning the tree for the last few years and decided instead to dress it with the colourful wooden toys and papiér maché angels that I had collected when I could only imagine what it would be like to have a house full of children at Christmas.

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I haven’t discarded the shiny stars, moons, suns and reindeer that have been faithful friends in recent years but have added these little characters to add a sense of magic and mischief.

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My all time favourite Christmas accessory is this windup music box. As it gently turns the four colourful angels, mouths wide open, sing to the tune of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. Not quite the Bruce Springsteen version but a goody nonetheless. I just hope this much loved trinket survives the current generation and gets handed down as a family heirloom!

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Happy Christmas everyone.  And remember……

You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town

He’s making a list
And checking it twice
Gonna find out Who’s naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town

He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

O! You better watch out!
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
Santa Claus is coming to town

Gift Tags and Ribbons

I’ve just wrapped my first batch of Christmas gifts for delivery to far flung family this coming weekend. (No peeking children!)

Using gift tags made from last year’s greetings cards and salvaged ribbon handles from high-end High Street carrier bags I’m really pleased with the end result.

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To see how I recycled last year’s Christmas cards go to https://langdonhyde.com/christmas-gift-tags/.

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To purchase longer lengths of contemporary ribbons visit www.sophiesribbons.com where you will find her own collection of coloured, striped and printed ribbons sold by the roll.

 

 

 

 

Bored With Baubles?

Bored with baubles? Tired of tinsel?

With Christmas celebrations less than three weeks away I have spent the weekend decking the halls in preparation for the big day.

I love Christmas and always enjoy the anticipation of selecting the tree and decorating the house with lovely sparkly decorations.

This year I vowed not to be tempted to add to my collection of baubles and tinsel but to turn to look at more traditional materials that would add seasonal aromas and textures to my home over the festive period.Eucalyptus

One of my favourite scented shrubs is Eucalyptus which looks very stylish with its rounded blue-grey leaves. I love to display it in a delicate storm lamp that I was given as a Christmas present several years ago. It looks equally stunning on its own, in a mixed bouquet or with carefully selected silk flowers. I usually place it on a console table in the hallway to provide a welcoming festive aroma for my yuletide visitors.

IMG_5778This year, inspired by the mild weather, I decided to go foraging for windfall Silver Birch and berry-laden Holly.

Silver Birch, with its lovely papery white bark is perfect to bring into the house in the winter. Whether it is to provide logs for an open fire or to use purely as decoration it can look very effective. Here I have wrapped it with Ivy and partnered it with a floor standing lantern in an otherwise bleak corner.

IMG_5765A collection of woodland finds can be used to great effect as a table decoration. I don’t believe that these have to be formal arrangements just a handful of evergreen shrub stems, preferably with berries, a few  fir cones of varying size and type, and a little imagination go a long way. Here I have used a white Ikea jug, some prettily decorated votives and a beautiful glass serving platter with silver base to make this centrepiece for our dining table.

Fruit wreath

If,unlike me, you have neither the time nor inclination to collect your own materials there is an abundance of beautifully crafted wreathes and table decorations available to buy.

One of my favourites is this cheerful looking fruit wreath which is on sale at my local farm shop.

For more details visit www.thefarmshoplyneuk.com where you will find a large variety of fresh seasonal produce.

To find woodland style decorations including Birch Bark Candle, Frosted Branches Hanging Tree, and Jewelled Twig Light Up Garlands visit www.coxandcox.co.uk.

To make your own decorations using natural materials in woodland surroundings go to www.surreywildlifetrust.org and search “What’s On” for list of up and coming events.

Picture Perfect – Part Two

Hanging artwork is a work of art in itself.

I believe that a picture should make an impression. Whether hung singly, or in a group, it is important that the subject matter enhances its surroundings and doesn’t disappear into them.

I find this quite challenging but still get excited by the prospect of finding a painting, or print, that will work in a particular space or, alternatively, finding a space into which I can hang an existing  piece of art.

Scale, balance, proportion and colouring should all be borne in mind when considering what will work where.

Paramount bedroom

One of my favourite  examples of how these attributes can be applied is Phillipe Stark’s adaptation of Vermeer’s “The Lacemaker” in his rework of the Paramount Hotel in New York in the early nineties. Here the headboard appears to be an oversized version of the original.

Whilst, in New York I bought a large Rothko print from MOMA which has since followed me from house to house. Originally, it was bought to hang on the end wall of a lounge/dining room as a focal point.

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When I moved home the Rothko came too but I found it much more difficult to find a place for it. Recollecting my visit to The Paramount Hotel I decided to hang the print in the spare bedroom just behind the headboard. The colours coordinated perfectly although the scale was perhaps a little on the large side. Regardless, I was extremely pleased with the break with convention.

Rothko print

Case study rendering

Where I’m living now I actually used this print as a case study as once again it didn’t easily adapt to its new surroundings. In the first instance I produced a colour rendering to demonstrate that although placed behind a wooden staircase  sufficient print would be visible for it to work.

Rothko

Now in situ I am perfectly happy that I’ve found a new home for this much travelled masterpiece. Today, two of my other favourite collectables, Tin Tin characters, Captain Haddock and Snowy, have joined the Rothko as an addition to the games room.

Rorhko, Snowy & Haddock

Perhaps not as sophisticated as Stark’s use of The Lacemaker in The Paramount but a good exercise in the less conventional.

To see the latest reincarnation of The Paramount Hotel New York visit http://www.nycparamount.com/

Celebrating French Style

In May I was very lucky to spend a week at Bastide de l’Arc at Chateau Grand Boise in France to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

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This traditional luxury holiday rental in the heart of Provence was completely renovated by French interior designer Natalie Vingot Mei who has successfully captured the charm and tranquility of this stunning ten bedroom house.

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Her use of vivid colours combined with country house style furniture and an array of hand-picked accessories makes this feel like a home rather than a rental.

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Her attention to detail is remarkable and she has created a venue that is instantly welcoming and perfectly suited to hosting the most glorious parties.

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I stayed with a group of sixteen adults but it can sleep up to twenty. On arrival we enjoyed sparkling champagne on the terrace whilst watching the sun set over the vineyards.

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Thereafter we made full use of the facilities taking it in turns to buy and cook local produce which was enjoyed either in the formal dining room or al fresco by the poolside.

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On the last evening a chef and his staff were hired to prepare and serve the most delicious meal to celebrate my friend’s special occasion.

Hats off to the owners of this fabulous property as they have created a real gem in the heart of the French countryside.

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To view more stunning interior photographs of Bastide de L’Arc visit  http://provence.emotional-escapes.com/properties/view/aix-marseilles-aix-en-provence/villa-141-luxury-bastide and for an insight into Natalie’s design philosophy go to http://www.decoration-et-provence.com/chantiers-de-decoration.html

Closure of Tunsgate Square

Since the closure of the Tunsgate Square  in Guildford many of the shops and businesses that were resident in the precinct are emerging in other parts of the town.

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Not everyone has abandoned ship though as despite the deserted doorway CH Fabrics continues to operate as before. It has even had the foresight to turn a cosy corner into a cafe offering hot beverages to loyal customers.

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Ikon and Harvey Jones Kitchens are a stone’s throw away from their original location. Adjacent to one another they have each taken space in premises in Tunsgate itself remaining central to the town.

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Other businesses have moved further afield with Babylon taking two units in the White Lion Walk; one specialising in clothing and accessories whilst the other concentrates on interior furnishings and gifts.IMG_5543

Most recently I spotted the re-emergence of Sofa Workshop on the corner of Ward Street and North Street in the old Lombok premises. Due to open on November 14th this very nearly completes the relocation of the Tunsgate Square businesses.

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Sadly, Heal’s has not reappeared as yet and the last I heard was still on the lookout for a new location. This will be a real miss this Christmas as I will no longer be able to spend many a happy lunch hour picking up gifts and decorations whilst keeping up to date with interior design trends.

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I gather Tunsgate Square is due to reopen after a major refurbishment during the course of next year so I will keep an ever eagle eye on developments to see who takes up residence in the new 70,000 sq ft space.

http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/shops-forced-out-new-tunsgate-9086485

http://www.queensberryrealestate.com/projects/tunsgate-square/

Pink Accents

I discovered this photograph in a Joules mailing that I had received recently and note that it is also featured on their website. I was particularly struck by the combination of colours, in particular the grey, yellow and pink, as I had recently decided to add some pink accents to my dining room scheme.
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The colour scheme, primarily yellow, grey, black and white, seemed a little bleak now that the days are drawing in and I wanted to add a little bit of warmth. I took my inspiration from the pots of geraniums  that seem to have come on in leaps and bounds on the patio as we enjoy a very mild autumn.

Pink dining room pano

This wicker chair snuggles up close to the radiator and is often a place where I can be found in the early morning with a cup of green tea and a favourite magazine.

Wicker chair

To make this corner even cosier I retrieved my favourite pink, red, blue and white check woollen Ikea blanket from winter storage and added this lovely pink felt cushion from Next. The combination of these soft furnishings provides a burst of colour as well as a lovely woven texture.

Joules mugs

It amused me that there is a farmyard theme running through both schemes and I now have my eye on some of these gorgeous Joules mugs and plates to complete the look.

So whether your preference is the romantic look of Comfortable Country or the clean lines of Mid-Century style I think these lovely rich colours can work equally well in either setting.

Visit www.joules.com to see their full range of homeware.

My Lovely Little Pink Box

Blanket box

You my recall that towards the end of the summer I visited the Sunbury Antiques Market where I bought a pot of F&B eggshell with which I planned to paint a blanket box that I have had for sometime. The colour, Nancy’s Blushes No. 278, is described on the F&B website as “our truest pink and can be used in many different ways”. Fortunately, when I opened the pot of paint it was exactly what it said on the tin and in no time at all I had a lovely little pink box!Nancy's pink box The box that I transformed so radically is a small pine blanket box which  had been painted white in a previous life, and the lid varnished. As such, it didn’t require a lot of preparation, and a gentle rub down of the old paintwork with some sandpaper was sufficient. The varnished lid did require a bit more work and having tried a coarser grade of sandpaper I decided the results were not particularly satisfactory. As, is often the case, time was pretty limited so I experimented with a chemical based paint stripping gel as an alternative way of removing the stubborn varnish. This turned out to be a brilliant decision as in no time at all the hard, glossy finish had blistered all over and I could use a small scraper to remove the best part of it. After another coat of stripper, a final scrape, and a rub down with some medium and light grade sandpaper the lid was back to its original finish.

IMG_5254To seal the bare wood I applied two coats of a good quality furniture wax and polished it to a soft sheen. I am really pleased with the end result as I feel the box has a much more contemporary, modern country feel and I am looking forward to putting it back at the end of the bed in the guest room.

See more decorating ideas with Nancy’s Blushes at:

http://www.farrow-ball.com/nancy’s%20blushes/colours/farrow-ball/fcp-product/100278#sthash.Jo1Xqaj2.dpuf

5/6 Connaught Place

MDU’s, or multiple dwelling units, are the last things that you would associate with the seven luxury apartments at 5/6 Connaught Place that have just won my colleagues and I the Crestron Integration Award 2015 – for Best Multiple Dwelling Installation! 

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Crestron MDU award

When we were asked to put the project forward for the much coveted prize we had to research the meaning behind the acronym MDU, something we now realise is much more akin to high-rise apartment blocks. Nonetheless, we were really pleased that our design and installation of the intelligent building management systems (BMS!) was worthy of an award. 

Connaught lounge

Connaught lounge

Based on KNX technology we installed a building wide system that controls everything from lighting, heating, air conditioning, security, Internet connectivity, and telephony, through to the personalised touch panels in each of the residences. 

Connaught TV

Connaught TV

Over and above the base building installation we were commissioned by Redrow London to outfit the show apartments with comprehensive, bespoke, audio/visual systems. 

Connaught theatre

Connaught theatre

Working in tandem with Interior design firm ‘1508 London’ we integrated our equipment in as seamless way as possible. Attention to detail has been absolutely critical. 

Connaught ceiling speakers

Connaught ceiling speakers

From ensuring that speaker grilles are colour matched and paint sprayed to disappear into walls and ceilings, to making certain that every single programmable light switch is fitted absolutely flush and square, nothing is too much trouble. 

Connaught sockets

Connaught switches

I have been very lucky to visit the development now that it is finally finished and each of the apartments on the market. With views over Hyde Park and located in a highly sought after residential area a stone’s throw from Marble Arch these apartments range in price from £8m to £20m. Hence my comment at the outset that the term MDU really doesn’t do them justice! 

Connaught kitchen

Connaught kitchen

Connaught bedroom

Connaught bedroom

Connaught dining

Connaught dining

For more information about this project visit:

www.harrisgrant.com

www.redrow.co.uk/london/developments/five-six-connaught-place

www.crestron.com

http://1508london.com

Divine Pergola Design

It was with an immense feeling of satisfaction and joy that we completed another garden project in time to enjoy the late summer sunshine that we are experiencing at the moment. With the help of our builder we created an informal alfresco dining area in the shape of this divine pergola design!Pergola1

The inspiration for this project was primarily to create a space where we could enjoy watching the sun go down behind the distant oak trees. Flanked by a three metre high wall to the rear and the warm wooden structure of the black painted barn to one side the area is sheltered from the winds that blow across the adjacent farmland thus creating the ideal place for a relaxed evening meal.

Further inspiration came from the grapevine that we planted against the wall but have failed to nurture as, until now, it hasn’t had any sort of framework to support its scrambling tendrils. We hope that by  constructing this pergola it will not only give the impression of an outside room in close proximity to our kitchen but that it will eventually encourage the vine to take hold and provide a sunny haven for its ripening fruit.Pergola2

I would like to think that we have created a cosy courtyard that has a Mediterranean feel about it. A place where we can eat freshly baked bread soaked in olive oil, washed down with a glass of fruity red wine, or fresh mussels accompanied with crusty white loaves and a cold Sauvignon blanc!Pergola3

I’m pleased to say that are very happy with the outcome. It did however involve a great deal of thought and planning to ensure the pergola was properly designed and built within the confines of the chosen area. For ease and economy we chose to buy a Grange Car Port/Pergola measuring 4.8 x 3.6 x 2.79m, knowing that we could make the necessary modifications to achieve our aim.Crafty alignment

Complications arose when it became apparent that the barn did not sit square to the wall. Fortunately, between us all, we had the foresight to measure and make the necessary adjustments to the angle of the beams before going ahead with the final erection.Stainless steel support

Another small detail that I was really pleased with was these custom made stainless steel “shoe” supports that were designed and manufactured to keep each of the wooden uprights off the ground thus preventing rainwater damage and eventual rot.Pergola

A little bit of France has arrived in our garden in the shape of this lovely pergola.  I’ll drink to that!

Go to www.screwfix.com to see full range of pergolas.

 

 

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