a way of life...

Year: 2019 (Page 1 of 3)

Its Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas…

My decorative theme this year is very much about bringing the outside in…

Ornamental birds, stags, polar bears, and hares adorn the surfaces, whilst leaves, twigs, and flowers are found on the curtains, tablecloths, and cushions.

The colours of the golden beech tree’s leaves are replicated in the porch with the installation of these Neptune pillar candles. Alongside an oil based Huxley Reed Diffusor emits a subtle blend of landscape scent from a gorgeous matte brown glass bottle. The simple handmade willow wreath was my first attempt at this particular craft.

This natural theme extends into the entrance hall. Here I have used this stunning brown/cream Indigo & Rose throw and cushion to dress my John Sankey slipper chair. The orange rug from Ikea and lampshade from RHS Wisley add a cheerful glow to this otherwise subdued scheme.

On the window cill in the background an Ikea glass vase is filled to the brim with a combination of green, yellow, and orange painted baubles and a wooden star wreath. A choir of angels play their version of “Santa Clause Is Coming To Town” when the music box on which they stand is wound up.

Leading from the hall are the lounge and the dining room. The colours in each are quite different although both rooms are south facing so both enjoy the benefit of the low winter sunshine when it chooses to appear.

In the lounge I have chosen a frosty white colour scheme with highlights of forest green and gold. The handmade paper pinwheels, interspersed with a ski-holiday themed paper chain, set the scene. Fastened to the beams above the fireplace their shapes reflect in the two above-mantle mirrors.

The dining room is dressed with red patterned fabrics in the form of a table cloth, runner, and curtains. The Christmas tree is covered with a mix of gold decorations, white berries, and fir cones (both real and faux).

Red Amaryllis bulbs planted in glass storm lanterns are beginning to shoot out and will hopefully be in flower over the next week or so.

Gold, white, and silver painted fir cones add decoration to glass domes and dishes placed on shelves in the dining room.

Faux stems of Eucalyptus and silver painted berries sit happily side-by-side in this lovely storm lantern. These, and the wintry characters on skis, add a hint of the season to the upstairs landing.

With skiing in mind I have converted my home studio to a “cosy mountain lodge” for the duration of the holiday.

My voluntary work with my local Wildlife Trust enabled me to cut my own pine trees to put in pots outside the window. A toboggan and penguin sit outside the door to evoke a sense of a winter wonderland.

Inside the “lodge” sheepskin rugs and large scatter cushions provide a warm welcome. An ornamental antelope’s head on the wall, and a frosty white tree decorated with glass icicles, are both in keeping with the mid-winter story that is being created here.

I hope you are enjoying the loveliness of the season too and wish you much happiness into the new year and beyond.

A Day To Remember

The Design Centre Chelsea Harbour pulled out all the stops to host a Christmas Design Day on Monday this week.

Design Centre Chelsea Harbour

The central atrium had been transformed into to a snowy wonderland with snow laden fir trees and garlands of snow balls cascading from the glass dome.

DCCH Winter Wonderland

The main foyer continued the winter wonderland theme with its ski resort backdrop for diners. Anyone for a hot chocolate?

Christmas Design Day in aid of Screw Cancer

The day was packed with events to entice people to the centre to help raise awareness of cancer charity, SCREW CANCER.

The vision of designer William Yeoward, who had lived with cancer until his untimely passing in June 2019, Screw Cancer’s mission is to help cancer patients find clarity through their own journey.

With the aid of the Screw Cancer App cancer sufferers can store information specific to their illness in a single place on their phone.

Event Programme

Many of the showrooms at DCCH welcomed visitors to a day of talks, demonstrations, workshops, and delicious cuisine.

Floral Inspiration at Colefax & Fowler

I made an early start so that I could attend a demonstration hosted by The Odd Flower Company at the Colefax & Fowler studio. With Bucks Fizz in one hand and a notebook in the other I avidly watched the creation of this fabulous floral centrepiece.

My next stop on the ground floor was to Kvadrat’s showroom where we were promised the opportunity to create a Danish Pleated Christmas Heart from recycled fabric.

I can’t say this was my strength, but resident expert, Nicolina, handled the class incredibly well ensuring that everyone had a heart, or two, to take home.

Pleated Danish Hearts

Sadly, I could not spend the whole day at this tremendously special event but before I left I popped into Fox Linton to check out their Christmas Wreath Making workshop.

Stepping inside the showroom I was immediately overwhelmed by the evocative aromas of fresh spruce, pine and fir. What a fabulous way to while away an hour or so.

The afternoon programme looked just as enticing with a packed programme of tours, crafts, and the opportunity to learn new skills.

This was certainly a day to remember!

Dare To Be Different

Everywhere I look I see images of interiors decorated in daringly dark colours, mostly to great effect.

It takes a huge leap of faith to paint a wall, ceiling, or even a whole room in a deep tone so it is perhaps worth considering a more restrained approach.

Inky blues and charcoal greys have proved very popular, particularly in Scandi and mid-century schemes. I have, however, enjoyed the more recent emergence of charred-wood browns and forest greens.

In my own home I’ve not had the courage to paint whole walls in dramatic colours as I think it would make it feel too depressing with its low ceilings and small windows.

I fully support the Farrow & Ball philosophy that sometimes painting a small, poorly lit room, in a deep dark colour can have the effect of creating a cosy, cocoon-like space. In some instances this is indeed far more successful than trying to make it into something that it is not ie. bright and airy.

For a mere mortal like myself I have settled for splashing the dark shades around in a more refrained manner.

A favourite example of this is my lovely old clock which sits beside a pretty little wardrobe in my hallway. Both are finished in Neptune’s Walnut eggshell whilst the walls against which they are set are painted in Fired Earth’s While Mulberry matt emulsion.

Leading off from the hallway is my dining room which I only recently restyled. I invested in these OKA Stafford dining chairs in Charcoal velvet to compliment my John Sankey slipper chair. The overall effect is that of a more cohesive scheme.

Once again the walls are finished in White Mulberry to ensure that the dark colours do not overpower the room.

Green is considered to be a restful colour which makes it ideal for a bedroom. I’m not sure that this theory applies to the current fashion for Forest green which is a dark hue commonly found in nature. The almost black background of this bedding below adds an air of intrigue to this otherwise calm scheme.

Taking this a step further the en-suite bathroom very much embraces shades of black. Whilst the flooring is a checker board of black and white vinyl the Clawfoot bath is painted in Farrow & Ball’s lead grey Down Pipe.

I’m really happy with my choices but realise there is certainly scope for being a bit more adventurous. That said, at least I can see the spiders against the light coloured back drop!

Alresford, Hampshire

Alresford, home of the Watercress Steam Railway Line, is a small town which lies just north of Winchester in Hampshire.

In search of Susie Watson Designs I took a trip there after a morning spent in Farnham.

West Street

The shop is located at 16 West Street amidst a plethora of independent retailers much to my delight.

So many shops – so little time

The purpose of my visit was to buy some red and white hand painted candles to display in two brass holders which I had retrieved from our garage.

I also bought a beech and ivory fan edge trimming which had been reduced by 50%. It will provide a luxurious finish to a Neptune Emma Sage linen that I have for making some scatter cushions.

Broad Street

Just around the corner in Broad Street I came across another parade of specialist interior and gift shops.

The Alresford Linen Company housed an array of fashionable clothing and jewellery, interior accessories, and gifts, including a colourful selection of candles.

A couple of doors down Lavenders has an eclectic mix of greetings cards, gift wrap, and miscellany.

Having achieved my aim, and a lot more besides, I decided it was time to leave this gorgeous Georgian town for a tad more exploring…

The Long Barn

Having arrived at Alresford on the B3047 I had passed The Long Barn at The Old Sheep Fair, Bishops Sutton Road.

Curious to find out more I pulled off the road and into the extensive car park. With fairy lights twinkling in the late afternoon light I was immediately smitten.

To a newby it is an extremely glamorous garden centre with integral café and shopping. That said, the quality of the merchandise is of the highest standard and the café was absolutely buzzing.

The garden store itself is modest in size but has an interesting selection of trees, plants, shrubs, and rusted metalwork. There is even a little shop that sells vintage finds.

I have to own up to not realising at the time of my visit that lavender is grown on this site and that it is used to create the Long Barn’s own goods from its annual crop.

I was so pleased that I chose to drop by and would certainly recommend a visit to this favoured destination.

India Jane Opens New Store

Family run lifestyle business, India Jane, has opened a new store in Guildford. Located in what was until recently, the Steamer Trading Company, the new shop is conveniently located at 168 High Street.

Spread over four floors in this super modern building it has an enormous range of home furnishings and accessories.

Here you can find luxurious sofas, elegant dining, well appointed studies, and beautiful bedrooms.

The arrival of India Jane to Guildford has added another good quality lifestyle store to those already in this market town. With Neptune just across the road, OKA and Loaf in the Tunsgate Centre, and Sofa.Com and Neville Johnson a short walk away, everything is close at hand.

Whether you are looking to buy a new piece of furniture or searching for a quality Christmas gift these stores have it covered.

Whilst browsing I took the opportunity to sign up to the India Jane Club so that I would hear about new products, in-store events, and exclusive member offers.

Whoopee It’s Winter

Sitting on the floor in my studio, surrounded by magazines from over ten years ago, I decided it was time for a serious clear out.

With the recycling bin to the ready I started to thumb through Country Living magazines circa 2002!

I was neither diligent, nor meticulous, but as an article snagged my attention I removed it from the journal and put it to one side.

Very soon I had numerous piles covering my favourite topics; interiors (of course), gardening, recipes, and travel.

Interiors

“Exuberant” was a 2002 description that caught my eye, as the current trend for pared back style couldn’t be more different.

Warm, rich colour schemes, championing florals, nature, and cosy blankets, were at the heart of the featured homes.

I was immediately inspired to add some seasonal charm to our cottage. Putting on one side the pale greys and pinks of the summer I quickly uncovered a red, nature inspired, tablecloth with matching napkins.

Add to this heavy, interlined, Andrew Martin curtains, and suddenly the room felt warm and cosy and ready for the shorter days ahead.

Winter ready

My nod to current trends was the addition of my recently acquired cushion from ALSO Home. With its slogan, “LOVED At First Sight” I thought it added a little 21st century pizazz to the room.

Gardening

Looking at photographs of prairie planting schemes with ornamental grasses interspersed with the fading colours of autumn perennials are an inspiration for next year’s planting scheme.

Currently I am allowing our garden to die back so that the seed heads will provide additional food for the visiting birds.

I also like to collect pine cones so that I can paint them with subtle metallic colours and display them in glass vessels with fairy lights and faux candles. Oh so seasonal!

Recipes

A lot of the recipes that caught my eye were based on seasonal garden produce, such as pumpkins, carrots, onions, pears, and apples.

It reminded me that there were pumpkins in the allotment ready to harvest with which I could make a delicious, heart warming soup.

It is also time to collect seeds from the runner beans and pumpkins to dry and store for planting next spring.

I will leave the orange and purple carrots in the ground as a means of storage and harvest as required.

Travel

Not everyone wants to escape the UK for a dose of winter sunshine. People like me who enjoy the changing seasons will wish to stay firmly in this country and enjoy what it has to offer at this time of year.

Harsh frosts temporarily change the garden landscape into winter wonderlands whilst recent strong winds have removed many of the remaining leaves from trees to reveal skeletal formations.

Fireworks over the river

I love to embrace this time of year.

The excitement of the winter celebrations that start in October and run through to the New Year are reason enough to stay here, at home, and enjoy them while they last.

I hope you enjoy them too!

Daring Patterns and Dark Woods

Inspired by a promotional shot of Fired Earth’s Madeira tiles I decided to make some changes to my downstairs loo.

Happy with the Farrow & Ball Manor House Grey emulsion, and the dado height white ceramic tiles, I chose to update the artwork and to get creative with the dark wood cabinet that has long since been home to the spare loo rolls.

I chose eight of the Mediterranean inspired tiles, each in a soft blue or green, with highlights of pale pink and chocolate brown. They were to be a new top for the old cabinet thereby giving it the look and feel of a washstand.

I laid the tiles out and arranged them in a suitable pattern prior to having them cut to size. I also sealed them to protect their porous surfaces.

Fired Earth Madeira tiles

In the meantime I revisited some of the framed prints that had been relegated to the loft. One of my favourites, “To Pastures New”, is an image of a young girl herding a flock of geese. Sadly, the frame and the mount, for which I had paid a fortune at the time, no longer looked very appealing.

With this in mind I took it to a local framer to have it brought up to date. I had in mind a wooden frame that could be hand painted. With a little help and advice I chose the frame and asked for it to be finished in Neptune’s Walnut emulsion.

“To Pastures New”

I was delighted with the end result as the colours complimented the tiles perfectly.

The next task was to reinstate the dark wood mirrors and to review my stock of prints to fill the last remaining corner.

I was delighted when I found some images of Winnie the Pooh as they seemed to gel perfectly with the young girl and her geese. Again, I chose new frames to bring them bang up to date.

Winnie The Pooh prints

Creating this nostalgic feel to the cloakroom reminded me of an image I had seen recently in a Country Living magazine.

In a simple cottage kitchen a fabric curtain had been used in place of a cupboard door.

Without hesitation I decided to make a similar “skirtain” for the cabinet thus concealing its contents. I ummed and ahhed about my choice of fabric as I did not want it to detract from the patterned tiles.

I finally chose a soft grey linen for the main curtains and edged these with some remnants of a contrasting fabric. A piece of stretchy wire was used to hang them inside the shelf unit.

“Skirtain”

The end result is a charming room inspired with childhood memories and thoughts of warm mediterranean sunshine.

Ideal as we head into the autumn…

Barrows of Booty; FOCUS/19

It made me laugh when I had to use a wheelbarrow to unload the brochures, free magazines and show guides, on returning from my visit to Focus/19 at the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour.

In fairness I had stopped off at our local garden centre to pick up some bulb fibre and potting grit in readiness for the planting out of my spring bulbs. (Watch this space).

On arrival at the harbour I was greeted at reception with a cheery message that the first Discovery Tour was about to begin. My timing was perfect as I quickly made my way to the North Dome to pick up the tour.

With a welcoming glass of fizz in one hand and my show guide in the other I enjoyed a whistle stop tour of half a dozen showrooms spread across the North and South Domes, and Design Centre East.

Enthusiasm radiated from the presenters as they introduced their new collections to a captive audience.

Stunning bathrooms, exquisite furnishings, Italian furniture, highly decorative wall coverings, and classic textiles were all on show.

New to Focus/19 was the avenue of pop-up room sets. Ligne Roset, Kit Kemp and Paint & Paper Library were the ones that caught my eye.

After a busy start to the show I took a breath and wandered the Design Centre for an hour or so pausing at the sights that caught my attention. These ranged from stunning window dressings, to pop-up ping-pong, to a live demonstration of a William Morris printing “machine”.

A treasure chest of trimmings was another spectacle that I could not resist…

To calm my senses I had earmarked a couple of events that I wished to attend in the afternoon.

The first was a design workshop hosted by KLC School of Design. Rebecca Weir, creative director of light.iQ, gave an enthralling talk abut illuminating one’s way to a happier and healthier life.

My final destination for the day was to the TALK Lecture Theatre where Ben Spriggs talked with artist and designer Luke Edward Hall. Here we learned about the early life of this young man and how this has led to collaborations with the likes of Habitat and Burberry.

As I left the theatre I couldn’t help be struck by the Pooky pop-up which featured their new lighting collection.

And on that note I made my way home….

Come To Bed

Who doesn’t adore the feeling of snuggling down into freshly laundered bedding?

Now that the nights are drawing in, and the oh so recent sweltering temperatures are being replaced with a distinct autumnal chill, hunkering down in a cosy bed is a real treat.

A recent trip to Ikea had me splashing out on two new sets of bedding just for the pure joy of revamping bedrooms for the new season.

Relatively inexpensive, and failingly good quality, I embraced these two sets with a view to mixing and matching with each other, and with existing sets.

Ikea Bergpalm

The subtle green and white stripes of Bergpalm, (also available in pale pink/white and soft grey/white), is incredibly versatile; a bedroom staple.

In the room below it is layered with a green/cream woollen throw from Habitat, and teamed with a small gingham check green/white LangdonHyde cushion (reversed), and two deep aubergine Next linen cushions (reversed).

The finishing touch, a small aubergine coloured faux Auricula in a terracotta pot, bought in a charity shop for £2.70p!

Bergpalm, green stripe

Ikea Vattenmynta

Less subtle, but no less versatile, this blue/white Vattenmynta bedding set adds a vintage feel to the guest room below.

Again, teamed with scatter cushions and a super-soft Ikea Trattviva bedspread, a cosy, layered, “come to bed” feeling is created.

In this room two cream/duck-egg blue floral cushions, and two blue/cream check cushions from Laura Ashley, and a LangdonHyde “House” cushion, demonstrate how different patterns can be used side by side to great effect.

Vattenmynta, blue/white

As well as good looks, comfort is key to creating the ultimate bedtime experience.

Underpinning these looks are fitted, easy care, white cotton sheets from M&S, and feather and down pillows, also from M&S, along with luxurious mattress toppers from The White Company

To ensure a perfect fit for the Ikea bedding I invested in Grusblad King size duvets (240 x 220 cm) 7.5 tog quilt at a cost of £19 each.

LangdonHyde hacks

  • don’t be afraid to use the reverse side of patterned cushions to tie in with your scheme
  • tumble dry fitted sheets and put onto mattress whilst still warm to smooth out creases

One word of warning – Ikea sizes differ ever so slightly from conventional UK sizing.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Searching for the light

Searching for a table lamp to brighten a gloomy hall has been quite a challenge.

A recent visit to the newly opened shop at RHS Garden Wisley provided the perfect solution.

Here on display was this lovely 100% recycled glass bottle lamp with its orange flex and Cherry Blossom shade.

Teamed with a ceramic jug and bowl from Toast and scented candle from Neptune the entrance hall has become a very welcoming space.

The finishing detail, a handful of freshly cut terracotta pom-pom dahlias from Sarah Raven.

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