a way of life...

Month: March 2018

Dash Of Orange

Step into spring with a flamboyant dash of orange.

My recent venture into town really demonstrated a massive head on collision between fashion and interiors.

This was particularly noticeable in Anthropologie where their footware and furnishings sat side by side.

Unable to resist a bright and cheerful colour I was seduced into trying on this wonderful selection of  tops and sweaters in Mint Velvet.

London Design Week at Chelsea Harbour didn’t miss a trick either as many of the showrooms were brought to life with this lovely colour in lively prints.

Even the horticulture followed the theme.

A more mystical Morrocan theme was on show in this particular window with its gorgeous bronze coloured wallpaper and lighting.

Loaf, in the newly opened Tunsgate Quarter in Guildford, had its fair share of paprika coloured cushions and couches.

Meanwhile this Clarins advert used the colour of the season to great effect to promote its bronze-lidded peach-coloured jars of exotic face creams.

Neptune also adopted a subtle tone in their range of home accessories. 

Candles, throws and artwork incorporated a pinky hue which worked beautifully with these light and dark greys.

A similar matching was found in this rug in Sofa.com.

And if grey isn’t to your liking then navy is a very smart alternative. The combination seen here at Sofa.com demonstrates how they have worked this season’s trend by teaming a navy sofa with orange scatter cushions and footstool.

Another collision between fashion and interiors was evident in Jigsaw where orange and navy clothes, shoes and bags, were displayed together in perfect harmony.

So whether your preference is for bright or subtle, home or fashion, there appears to be something for everyone in this season’s colour.

Tunsgate Quarter Guildford OPENED

The Tunsgate Quarter in Guildford opened its doors yesterday to reveal its brand new occupants.

To the sound of a 4-piece jazz band I manoeuvred my way around the bright, light, sunny, precinct.

The first retail outlets to take up space in the recently revamped centre are Bobbie Brown, Cath Kidston, Loaf, Lululemon, OKA, and The White Company.Cath Kidston’s jaunty shop front was a sea of patriotic red, white and baby blue bunting, celebrating their 25th anniversary.

Next on my list to visit was Loaf. Having only ever seen their products in a catalogue I was keen to see it in the flesh.

It didn’t disappoint. Greeted by a giant coir mat complimenting me on my shoes I couldn’t wait to get my feet inside the door, and get stuck in! 

I’m not sure that I would be offering tubs of ice-cream to visitors who were specifically here to look at sumptuous sofas but Loaf did and it was a welcome treat.

I carefully devoured by raspberry sorbet as I perched on this rather gorgeous squishy corner unit. It was certainly as comfortable as it looked and comes in a variety of combinations and colours.

With my appetite for sweet treats and first hand experience of Loaf’s lovely array of furnishings fully satisfied I made my way to OKA.

Again, another retailer who’s catalogue I receive regularly, was far better in real life.

Bold, lavish, and with exquisite detailing, this is a brand that would bring a sense of drama to any home. 

I took a particular fancy to their lamps, shades, and glassware, none of which I had paid particular attention to, before seeing it off the printed page.

My final port of call was The Ivy restaurant which is due to open its doors on Wednesday April 4. For an inside scoop go to Surrey Life’s website .

London Design Week 2018

There is more to London Design Week than meets the eye and it is the reason I return each year.

An important element of London Design Week is “Access All Areas” which incorporates a number of showrooms outwith the Chelsea Harbour complex. This year, my first port of call was Osborne & Little on the Kings Road, to view the cake, and to do a little research….

Standing six feet tall, and constructed from O&L’s iconic fabrics, the cake had been made to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

Birthday cake

Aside from the cake, the showroom paid homage to Osborne & Little’s heritage with an exhibition of archive designs. I was thrilled to find an original pattern book that contained a hand printed paper that I had used to wallpaper the walls of my sitting room back in the early 80’s. It made a huge impact on me at the time as, until then, I had been living  with my parent’s painted anaglypta!

Osborne & Little archive print

Chelsea Harbour opened its doors to London Design Week 2018 at 10 o’clock on Sunday morning. Anxious to spend a full day absorbing the atmosphere and embracing the event I rocked up in time to attend the first Conversation In Design Event.

London Design Week isn’t just about the showrooms and their products but, as much, if not more so, about the glitterati of interior designers who put in an appearance at the show. Whether it be in person, or as part of a collaboration that put the amazing 2018 Legends window displays together, they were there in force.

Having done my homework prior to my arrival I headed up to the Design Club on the Third Floor of the South Dome to listen to words of wisdom spoken by Sir Peter Osborne, co-founding partner of Osborne & Little.

Interviewed by Deborah Barker, Editor in Chief of Homes & Gardens, he spoke candidly of his 50 years working alongside Antony Little. He happily answered questions raised by his attentive audience and even offered fatherly advice to a new generation of designers.

I was surprised to learn that his background was in banking, rather than design, and has therefore shaped the commercial side of the business. His sage advice was to start your own business as it can be very rewarding but, that said, he added that watching the cashflow is key to success.

Sir Peter Osborne in conversation with Deborah Barker

Also present at the event was legendary designer Paolo Moschino.

As another commercially astute man he had taken a brand and made it his own. His Nicholas Haslam showroom was the first stop on the afternoon’s Design Discovery Tour that I had joined to gain insider knowledge! Exuding charm and charisma Mr. Moschino hosted an impromptu Q&A session with our entranced group.

His secret to success …. make it commercial.


Another interesting venue on the Design Discovery Tour was the showroom of McKinney & Co where we viewed an extraordinary collection of curtain poles, finials, pelmets, coronas, tie-backs, door knobs, hooks, and handrails.

I was particularly taken with the transparent poles that were filled with everything from tiny white teddy bears to feathery down. I could imagine these being used in a nursery to create a gorgeous whimsical effect.  Add to them  The Gainsborough Silk Weaving Company’s “The Bunny Gets It” range of fabrics and you would have a child’s room fit for royalty.

McKinney & Co

During a brief break from organised events I took the opportunity to walk the show.

Attracted by the floral arrangement in the window of  Sutherland Perennials Studio I dropped in to take a closer look at the colourful range of fabrics on display.

Window Display by Phillip Corps Exquisite Flowers

I learned that these are 100% solution-dyed acrylics which are high-performance luxury fabrics which can be used outside as well as inside. Technically superior, the fabrics are fade resistant, mildew- and mold-resistant, bleach cleanable and easily maintained.

Kelly-Anne Bailey

Kelly-Anne Bailey took time to demonstrate the ease with which a red wine stain could be removed from a Perennials fabric with a regular household cleaning agent.

Perennials Fabric topiary tree

I was particularly struck by the topiary trees constructed from a selection of Perennials’ luxury fabrics which include prints, wovens, jacquards and velvets.

One of the most informative and popular Access All Areas events was held at the Evitavonni showroom on the Second Floor of the South Dome.  Here a panel of experts, moderated by Sophia Salaman of the World of Interiors, discussed how to find inspiration to enable themselves, as designers, to evolve and grow.

One of the most encouraging tips I took on board was to collect and catalogue images that personally inspire me. With today’s smart phone technology that is a no-brainer, but personally, I still like to collect magazine clippings and fabric swatches for my own use.

Sophia Salaman of the World of Interiors moderates

Leaving the show a little before closing time I felt uplifted and motivated and, I can honestly say that it wasn’t due to the endless glasses of champagne on offer as, on this occasion, I had chosen to drive and park at the harbour!

If time allows, I would certainly like to revisit the show before it ends on Friday as notable names such as Kit Kemp MBE and Lord Snowdon will be in attendance.

For more information about previous LDW’s visit my blogs at:




Dorney Court Kitchen Garden

Home grown

Last weekend I was invited to an educational event at the Crocus Gardening School @ Dorney Court Kitchen Garden in Dorney. It was a talk by award-winning garden writer, lecturer & organic gardener, Val Bourne, on Dahlias.

My curiosity was the driving force behind my immediate acceptance as I had heard of Dorney Court when I worked at the studios in Iver Heath, but had never visited. The subject matter also interested me as I have grown Dahlias as cutting flowers since moving to the cottage in 2005. I was keen to listen to Val’s take on this particular topic.

Following the sat nav I took the M25, M4, and A4, to arrive at Dorney Court. The route was congested and dull. I wished that I had followed my instinct and criss-crossed the M25 taking in Wraysbury, Windsor, and Datchet.

Dorney Court Kitchen Garden

On arrival at the Kitchen Garden I made my way through the entrance and into the walled garden. At first I didn’t see any signs for the event so wandered around the plant and pot displays, and the garden beyond. It is a lovely setting.

Walled garden

There was a marquee in one corner, and I noticed on closer inspection, that a handful of people had taken their seats. Tentatively I entered the tent and was immediately confronted by a laptop and screen; this had to be the place.

I took a seat and moments later Val arrived. After a brief introduction she turned to her power point display and the talk began.

Fascinating facts about the history of the Dahlia, once called the Georgina. Originating in South America and falling in and out of fashion, here in the UK it is grown for cutting and for exhibiting. With an ever increasing number of breeds it ranges from the neat symmetrical  “pom-pom” to the flamboyant shaggy “dinner plate”.

Sarah Raven has been instrumental in the current popularity of the Dahlia. Used as a cutting flower she grows them herself and also sells the tubers from her popular website. Gorgeous collections are available with magnificent names such as The Shot Silk Dahlia Collection, The Venetian Dahlia Collection, and The Sublime Dark Dahlia Collection. As she says “one dahlia tuber will produce hundreds of flowers”. What’s not to like?

I must admit attendance at Val’s talk certainly piqued my interest and I came away thinking that with very little effort I could add some new varieties to my allotment and have a cutting garden to die for.

Leaving the Dorney Court estate I chose not to follow the sat nav’s directions to the nearest motorway but instead drove across Dorney meadow and down into Eton village. A short drive from there I passed the Windsor Farm Shop and then on to Runnymede Meadow, where the Magna Carta was sealed by King John in 1215.

Twenty minutes later I was home having enjoyed a far more spectacular return journey.

A perfect end to a perfect day-lia!





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