a way of life...

Month: March 2015

Easter Decorations

IMG_2458As Easter rapidly approaches I noticed that the shops are not just full of chocolate eggs but that there is an abundance of Easter decorations as well. Is it me, or is this a growing trend? It seems no sooner have we put the Christmas decorations away and we’re having to unpack the Easter ones. I’m not complaining as I love any excuse to pretty up the house! Whilst out and about this week I was particularly struck by this display in the front window of a local café. I thought the combination of the beautifully rusted cast iron garden urn filled with moss and planted with white Mascari an absolute delight. Add to it the painted eggs hanging from the budding twigs and the tiny birds’ nest hidden amongst the greenery and it is truly inspirational.  Sitting alongside this centrepiece were  boughs of early blossom and terracotta pots which were either upturned, on their side, or planted with a mixture of Spring bulbs and alpine plants, or home to birds’ nests full of eggs.



This morning, having retrieved a rather sad decorative tree from the loft, I headed off to my local garden centre where, once again, there was an abundance of Easter gifts and decorations to choose from.  I had a very short shopping list; flowering Spring bulbs, fresh sphagnum moss, and some decorative eggs to add to the ones I had from years past.  Once home I headed to the garden to empty a terracotta planter which I thought would be just right to stand my tree in.  I chose not to clean the algae off as I thought it added some rustic charm.

Once the tree was in place I half filled the pot with compost and planted the Salome Daffodil bulbs that I had purchased and then used the sphagnum moss to to fill the rest of the pot.  Now the fun really began as I started to decorate the tree.  I already had quite a few miniature eggs and three wooden bunnies to start the process.  I had also bought some bits and pieces from Poundland and  was especially pleased with the pack of five Easter design ribbons, each one metre long, and the pack of six Egg Nest decorations.

Once the decorating was complete I took my transformed tree indoors to it’s new home in the dining room. I stood it on a plastic tray disguised with the remainder of the moss, before placing on an oak console table . I was really pleased with my morning’s work and now can’t wait for the holiday weekend to arrive!IMG_2559_2IMG_2575

Tins in Tunsgate

I’m sure you’re all beginning to realise that when the sun shines I head straight for the High Street and today was no exception. As I wandered through Tunsgate I was struck by the clever use of these vintage enamel containers filled with a combination of yellow and white Narcissus and blue Muscari.



These  old-fashioned flour storage containers and bread bin seemed particularly appropriate as they were in the window of Glutton & Glee, a tiny specialist café and food shop, but they could just as  easily be used in the home.

If you are unable to find vintage enamel storage containers to use as planters an alternative might be to use catering size tins. Those used to store Italian tomatoes or olive oil are often colourful or ornately decorated and could look equally attractive as vintage enamel when planted with flowers  or herbs and placed on a kitchen worktop or on a patio. Use a combination of blue, green, red, yellow and white to create a sunny Mediterranean theme.


Happy Mother’s Day

MD's present

Glass cloche with potted herb

My daughter-in -law has a sign in her house which reads “Both of us can’t look good at the same time – it’s me or the house”.  I thought that was a great sentiment for everyone who leads a busy life especially all the mums I know. As I didn’t take a photograph to post I thought I would share with you pictures of the lovely gifts I received today instead. On that note Happy Mother’s Day!

Heart shaped tea light holder

Heart shaped tea light holder

London Design Week 2015

Stepping into the Design Centre this morning to attend London Design Week 2015 I couldn’t ignore that Spring is very definintely in the air. The crisp bright morning was mirrored by the bright green and white colour scheme that was present throughout the North, South and Central domes.  Oversized moss filled jars, pots of Hyacinths, and vases full of white Antirrhinum and Delphiniums were in abundance.

Moss filled jars

I was fortunate enough to be able to set some time aside to attend London Design Week, an event primarily aimed at design professionals and visionaries, but also open to the general public. It is a great opportunity to visit the showrooms of your choice in a very relaxed and informal atmosphere. Pop-up refreshment hubs offer a variety of of hot and cold beverages and tasty eats but more important than those are the series of seminars hosted and presented by leading industry figures throughout the week.

In conversation this morning were Simon Leadsford of Condé Nast Traveller talking to Timo Gürnert, managing director of the Oetker Collection. They chatted happily and openly about the family-owned luxury hotel group with particular emphasis on the interior design philosophy. It was concluded that the key elements of Oetker’s particular brand of uber-luxury are are focus, rarity, heritage and craftsmanship.

This afternoon Rita Konig, style writer and interior designer, was hosted by House & Garden magazine. Her topic of conversation examined how H&G’s archive of vintage interiors has a bearing on today’s design. With images dating from the 1940’s her presentation covered post-war abandonment through to today’s more reserved, pared down attitude to design.

At lunchtime I dropped into Victoria + Albert Baths Ltd. to listen to Amira Hashish, leading lifestyle journalist for the Evening Standard and The Independent, discuss the newest developments in the bathroom industry. On display in the showroom were the company’s new range of bathroom furniture. A collection of beautifully crafted vanity units with super deep storage drawers and matching mirrors.  Visit www.vandabaths.com

V+A vanity unit

Victoria + Albert Mandello vanity unity

My final stop was to my favourite showroom Cole & Son. Here I fell in love with their Whimsical range of wallpapers. Described as “a nostalgic and enchanting selection of magical wallpapers, inspired by classic childhood stories and fairy tales of our youth”. All designs offer a compendium of true conversation pieces, whilst bringing the charm of children’s theatre, pageantry and literature to life. Look out for the two mischievous cats and an elusive mouse hiding atop a regency style block moulding in Cole & Son’s  Paddy & Louis Border.  Just a word of warning though I have seen this particular border for sale on various websites ranging from £78 to £250! Visit www.cole-and-son.com to see their full range of wallpapers.

Cole & Son Cabaret wallpaper

Cole & Son Cabaret wallpaper

Visit www.dcch.co.uk for more information relating to London Design Week 2015

Throw open the windows

Wow! What a fabulously sunny morning. For the first time this year we have thrown open the windows to let the house breathe in the early Spring  sunshine. I find it’s an amazing feeling when you can open up the house and the garden becomes part and parcel of your living accommodation.  No more rushing in and out between short sharp bursts of rain or scraping the ice from the car in the morning. With that in mind I wanted to write about my sister’s relatively new home which really embraces its rural surroundings.

Shortly before Christmas 2014 my sister and her husband moved into a chalet style house with a view to die for.  The rear and side aspects of the property have views stretching out across the adjacent fields which are home to a number of horses and chickens, whilst the front aspect has direct access to the neighbouring golf course and more fields which eventually roll down to the shoreline.  When my sister and her husband took ownership of the house it was in reasonably good decorative order but was not necessarily to their liking.

Keen to make the house more homely my sister and her husband firstly embarked on revamping the lounge and dining room to suit their own personal style.  The biggest obstacle in their way was the dark red  carpet and matching painted statement wall.  Neither the wall nor the floor covering were particularly out of place in the large, spacious, well lit room, and their existing leather sofas and oak furniture blended in well.  The only real uncertainty was choosing curtain and blind fabrics that would bring the whole scheme together without obscuring the wonderful views.

Laura Ashley was first choice for my sister as she knew that they had a wide range of “country house” patterns and colours that would do exactly what she wanted.  She collected some swatches and shortlisted two favourites; Geranium and Summer Palace, both in Cranberry.  At this stage I offered to make up some mood boards based on these two designs using images from the Laura Ashley AW2014 catalogue and a collection of wallpaper, fabric and paint samples.  I hoped that it would aid the decision making process.

summer palace cranberry

Summer Palace Mood Board

geranium pale cranberry

Geranium Mood Board

I was not disappointed! The boards certainly helped as we both decided that the first was too fussy and the second too light. As a result my sister revisited Laura Ashley and found a third design that she liked; Peony Garden, again in Cranberry. The colour way and design worked better with the scale of the room and the colour tones of the existing furnishings.  Despite not making her selection from either of the sample boards, she did buy into the idea of subtly extending the colour scheme to the exterior areas of the house by way of the colour of her potting shed and introducing the cranberry hues into her planters. The finished scheme both complimented and embraced the house’s rural surroundings.

Pretty pinks

Peony Garden curtains

Dog on bed

Oak bookcase










Comfy corner

Comfy corner with LA cushion and throw

Exterior detail

Exterior detail

Delightful doorstep

Delightful doorstep









For more details visit http://www.lauraashley.com/uk/home-accessories/icat/homefurnishing

The Bedroom Edit

There’s nothing I like more at the end of a busy weekend than to tuckle up in bed. (Ah, “tuckle” – that’s a word I made up which means “tuck-in and cuddle up”!). During this past week I caught the tail end of a conversation on the radio where the DJ was championing the ideals of a freshly made bed. I couldn’t agree more, as I think there is nothing nicer than snuggling between freshly laundered bedclothes. I also believe a bedroom should be a retreat and it is certainly no place for blogging!

A neutral colour scheme of putty, stone, and old white, is a brilliant way to set a calming and relaxing environment. Enhance this with sensual fabrics, light reflecting glass and mellow wood tones to create a feeling of serenity and peacefulness.

Bedroom panoramic

I really like the current trend for mixing and matching patterns with similar colour ways; anything from florals, stripes, spots and plain accents can all work well together.

Bedroom pillows

Easy care bedding teamed with ticking pillowcases and linen backed velvet cushions.

Velvet is a very sensuous fabric and is ideal for for cushions and throws.

Velvet quilt

Pinched velvet vintage throw adds luxurious warmth.

Wicker is one of my favourite materials as it has a timeless quality and is reminiscent of summer evenings sitting on a verandah sipping a sundowner. Combined with a cosy cushion adds an element of comfort.

Wicker stool & cushion

Wicker stool with grey felt flower cushion blends with stone coloured carpet.

Mirrors, glass jars, and metal photo frames are light reflective and add an ethereal quality to the room.

Glass jars

Glass storage jars reflect light from adjacent window.

Curtains and blinds can be both practical and decorative.  This self-patterned fabric is heavy enough to provide a shield against the early morning light but still fine enough to fit in with the overall scheme.

Curtain header

Jacquard weave curtain fabric gives a luxurious look and lovely subtle sheen.

Aged pine cupboards provide a mellow storage solution and give a home to the three wicker storage baskets.

Wicker on wardrobe

Wicker storage baskets labelled with luggage tags sit on top of antique pine wardrobe.

These deep drawers, in alternating antique pine and whitewashed wood, were a perfect fit for the space under the eaves.

Ikea chests

Alternating antique pine and white wood chests provide useful storage under the beamed eaves.

For ticking fabrics and bedding go to http://www.toa.st and www.tinsmiths .co.uk

For velvet cushions and throws go to http://www.coxandcox.co.uk

For bedroom storage solutions go to http://www.ikea.com

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