a way of life...

Month: January 2016

The Playroom

In our house, the playroom is where boy meets girl. An eclectic mix of his world war bombers colliding with her collection of Hergé’s cartoon characters.










Hanging from the beams on fishing line the planes look as though they’re in full flight, battle ready, as Tintin looks down from his safe haven above.










Continuing the aeronautical theme a solid wood airplane propeller replica is mounted on the bulkhead whilst  Captain Haddock and Snowy stand together on the staircase oblivious to the action which surrounds them.


Dominating the playroom is an American pool table which serves to entertain anyone who is  up for a challenge.IMG_5660
On the walls is a collection of abstract art; some original pieces and some limited edition prints. All in eye-catching colours, and forever posing the question “what can you read into me?” I have my own interpretations as I am sure does everyone who spends anytime studying them. IMG_5656

I am particularly fond of the four Jaime Colorao watercolours that were purchased from an exhibition in Mallorca. The rather rude looking images, which echo the colours and shapes of the balls on the pool table, take centre stage in this collection of modern art.


The backdrop for this artistic arrangement is an F&B Estate Emulsion in Manor House Grey on the wall, and interior eggshell on the skirting. The remaining three walls, skirting and woodwork, are finished in F&B Ammonite.IMG_5459

The most striking piece of furniture is a contemporary yellow leather sofa which is strewn with an array of cushions covered in a mix of orange, red and yellow Designer Guild fabrics.

I’m really happy with the mix of masculine and feminine in this particular environment and find it is the perfect place to switch off from the day’s stresses and indulge in pure fantasy.

For more details of finishes go to:





Ivory & Pitch

IMG_6114I made the most fantastic discovery this weekend. An emporium of hand-painted furniture, chalk paints, brushes, glazes, adhesives and a whole wealth of information concerning the above.

Ivory & Pitch, purveyors of carefully selected homewares, cushions, throws, accessories and one off pieces of hand painted furniture is the brain child of interior designer Caroline Ivory. Opened in 2011, to bring her expertise to a wider audience, this shop is a joy for anyone who loves unfussy, yet elegant style.

I was in my element and can’t wait to try out the selection of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ that I purchased during my all too brief visit.

For more details go to  www.ivoryandpitch.co.uk

K.alm Kitchen Café

IMG_6103The ever changing window of k.alm café in Tunsgate is an inspiration. Always seasonal, but never conventional, it offers a taste of Spring even in the midst of Winter.

Hanging from a branch of apple blossom are these sunshine yellow and pale orange striped linen tea towels, interspersed with translucent crepe paper ribbons.

Upside-down silk peonies and industrial style light bulbs bring another dimension to this imaginative combination. Add to that a zinc bowl and a rusted birdcage planted with flowering narcissi, and an antique wooden crate filled with glass bottles, each with a soft  pink peony bloom, and you have the distinctive style of k.alm café located in the heart of Guildford.IMG_6104IMG_6105








Once inside the door you will be offered wholesome and nutritious food that is either homemade by k.alm Kitchen or by their carefully selected suppliers who share a passion for all things artisan to ensure the very best quality and taste.

Aside from the café, k.alm Kitchen are an award winning catering company who specialise in weddings, corporate events and private parties. For a taste of what they can offer their discerning clients visit www.kalmkitchen.co.uk

Light Up My Life

On a dull January morning what could be nicer than waking up to this string of candy coloured, polka dot, pom-pom trimmed lights.

Tiger light 2

Bought from Tiger for £7 these little illuminations run on three AA batteries and are perfect to thread through the elegant curves of the floral mouldings of this hand cast metal day bed finished in ivory.

Tiger light 3

In pink and purple, orange and green, blue and yellow and red,  they create a lovely soft glow in this child’s bedroom.

To find your local Tiger store go to www.tigerstores.co.uk.

Alice Day Bed from Laura Ashley http://www.lauraashley.com/uk/made/furniture/range/alice-day-bed?shape=day-bed

Twelfth Night

I spent much of the weekend removing Christmas decorations and storing them safely back in the loft for next year. It is only these errant angels that escaped the big clear up and are  now being packed away so’s not to break with the tradition of dismantling all of the festive decorations by the Twelfth Night.  (Apparently, that’s January 5, with January 6, aka the Feast of the Epiphany, as the very last day on which you can take them down.)

Blue angel in boxRed angel in box










These beautifully crafted heavenly beings are the creation of Helen McNiven of Cranleigh. Her attention to detail is immense. From the fine twigs, with burnished leaves still attached, used to make the wings, to the hand knitted scarf that is tied, oh so, stylishly. Each little dress is carefully stitched and made of fabrics that are soft to the touch and gentle on the eye. Under the layered skirts of some of the larger characters are the softest cashmere knickers that have been created in pastel shades of wool! The detail doesn’t end with the clothing though, as some angels have faces with heart shaped lips, whilst others clasp winter wreaths or Merry Christmas banners in their hands.

Red angel

Blue Angel










Each December, Helen, and her husband Peter, hold a sale of these guardian angels, along with driftwood ones, plus a variety of hand-crafted gifts, foods, preserves and a small range of ceramics all in aid of charity from their home which is at the Old Farm Barn, Stovolds Hill, Cranleigh, Surrey, GU6 8LE.

For an invitation to the next sale email helenandpetermcniven@gmail.com



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