a way of life...

Category: Favourite on-line stores (Page 1 of 3)

New Year Treats

I’m sure, like many of you, I am constantly emailed with news updates from my favourite on-line shops. Sometimes this can be a real nuisance but occasionally something of interest comes up. As January progressed I noticed that sale discounts were increasing and my interest piqued when Bluebell Gray announced a 50% price reduction on a cushion that I had been coveting. The linen-mix Kirkcaldy cushion featuring a locally woven stripe with a natural earthy brown base and pops of colour in pink, duck egg blue, yellow, green and purple was the perfect item to pull together the colours in my sitting room. Without hesitation I placed an order and within a couple of days it arrived. Not only was it as fabulous as it looked on the website but it was beautifully presented. Tied with a duck egg blue Bluebell Gray ribbon and a personalised message on branded stationery it was a real new year treat.Although not a sale purchase my next treat was purchased on-line from Cox and Cox. For a while I had been looking for a plain grey rug for my dining room. In this instance, size definitely did matter, as did the particular shade and texture of the rug, and of course, the price . With that in mind I was really pleased when I received an email from Cox and Cox promoting their new range of hand woven rugs and offering a 20% discount. Again, without a second thought I placed an order and, just by coincidence, the rug arrived the same day as the cushion. Two new year treats in one day!

I noticed today that the Bluebell Gray sale is still running and on Monday January 30th has 30% off for 30 minutes starting at 1pm. On the other hand the discount code I had been offered from Cox and Cox is no longer current. That said it is certainly worth subscribing to their website to be eligible for future offers. Happy shopping. x

Top Drawer

It’s often difficult to take time out of the office but this week I had the perfect excuse as I had been invited to attend the Top Drawer exhibition at Olympia. With a strap-line claiming “Adventures in Design for Creative Retailers” I found this too good an opportunity to miss.

This is an exhibition for trend spotters as it gives a keen insight as to what will be coming to the High Street and on-line stores in the coming months. Divided into four distinct areas for Home, Gift, Fashion, and Craft, it was an extremely busy show with exhibitors filling the ground floor and overflowing onto the mezzanine above.

One of the most imposing stands was manned by Nick Ronald of Grand Illusions. I have fond memories of attending one of his furniture painting courses at the shop in St. Margarets and still have the aged wooden coat pegs to prove it. Having recently published a book entitled Paint Vintage the stand was a chic piece of architecture housing a range of painted furniture brought to life with sophisticated accessories, and of course, the Grand Illusions range of Vintage Paint.

Another of my favourite on-line stores was present, Nkuku. Specialising in Fair Trade Homeware and gifts, this was another imposing stand, mainly featuring tableware, lanterns, and soft furnishings.

On a more frivolous and colourful note the Tintin stand, and Lake District based Herdy products stand, both caught my eye. 

Gifts, homeware, and accessories, designed to raise a smile, were originally based on the lovable Hardwick sheep. The Herdy Fund helps support local sustainable rural community and upland fell farming projects.

Realising that time was moving on, and that there was still work to be done back in the office, I grabbed my coat from the cloakroom and headed back to the train station.Only as the train pulled in did I realise that the Newgate clocks all differed in time and that perhaps I could have stayed a minute or two longer.

All That Glistens

Christmas has officially started in our house! The tree is up, and adorned as promised, with sparkle and glee. In fact, all that glistens from my collection of Christmas decorations have been placed, with great care, on each of the branches. Miniature reindeer with bells on;  glimmering celestial bodies – moons, suns and stars; bells that really jingle; golden spheres intricately decorated with jewels; and chunky glass stars with glittery edges. The top of the closet has been brought to life with my Gisela Graham glass crystal swag intertwined with glittery fronds of hessian ivy.

Having reawakened my lust for everything that sparkles, twinkles, glitters, glimmers, shimmers, blinks, winks, and flashes, nowhere was safe. Peaking through the door into the sitting-room the mantlepiece shimmers and glows. Beneath a golden string of lights rests a swag of purple berries amidst a blanket of faux evergreen shrubbery.  mantelpieceOrnate Culinary Concepts silver stag heads, hanging from bright red satin ribbons, were the inspiration for my dining room.  Pops of red were introduced to bring a warmth to this otherwise neutral room. cc-silver-stagLooking out to the garden beautiful bulbous glass hearts and etched glass ornaments are suspended from a wrought iron curtain pole tied with varying lengths of red ribbon.

A jaunty Joules cushion and furry reindeer brighten an armchair which is cloaked in an Indigo & Rose stag throw.


These themes are echoed on the dresser where a red and white reverse advent calendar and felt robin redbreast join the party. Below a handsome stag struts his stuff whilst a pair of iron reindeer sit on the shelf above.

A starry H&M table cloth is brought alive with this tiny red berry wreath and Holly Park Noel linen ribbon used here as a table runner.

Now that I have exhausted my collection of all that glistens it is time to sit back and really start to enjoy this festive setting. Cheers everyone x

Convivial Cowes

Unless you’re a seasoned sailor I’m not sure that you would venture into Cowes on the Isle of Wight on a particularly wet November afternoon. Not so! Finding myself with time to kill having arrived in East Cowes on Saturday I decided this was too good an opportunity to miss. Leaving the Southampton to East Cowes ferry I zig-zagged along the roads to arrive at the chain ferry in no time at all. Here the “floating bridge” was waiting for vehicles and foot passengers to board, and in no time at all I arrived in Cowes. To my astonishment I found that parking on the road was really easy, and what’s more, was free for up to two hours.img_8371

Umbrella in hand I headed towards the pedestrianised streets and arrived in Shooters Hill. My first stop was Staples & Green where, much to my surprise, I was immediately offered a glass of Prosecco and mince pie to enjoy whilst I browsed their lovely selection of smart furniture, accessories, and lifestyle products.img_8360img_8362








Christmas spirit now firmly instilled I wandered along the cobbled streets absorbing the atmosphere created by a huge variety of independent vendors who far outweighed the one or two well know brands. As I strolled past a vast selection of pubs, cafés, and artisan food shops, I could only imagine how busy they must be during the heady summer months when the yachties descend.











Arriving in the High Street my next stop was Shoreline, a gift and stationary shop which also offered an engraving and picture framing service. I was particularly struck by their lovely collection of greetings cards and children’s toys.


Another retailer which specliased in children’s toys, games, and gifts, was Live Like This which turned out to have a shop on either side of the street. Whilst one was purely aimed at children the other stocked the most amazing collection of decorative accessories. My favourites were the quirky lamps and the vast array of Christmas decorations.


Leaving the High Street and heading down Bath Road towards the waters edge I had cause to stop at Chocolate Mad Cowes purely because I couldn’t resist the name! Here I bought two sachets of their plain and milk chocolate buttons with which to make myself a very indulgent hot chocolate drink.img_8391

Laden with gifts, and an immense feeling of satisfaction having made a start on my Christmas shopping, I headed back towards the car. My last port of call was a barbers shop, which you may think a little strange. In fact, their window had caught my eye as it was full of gifts and signs which would make ideal stocking fillers. Catching them just as they were closing up I made a couple of small purchases which completed my shopping for the day. Returning to the car within the two hour time allocation I felt that I had had an extremely pleasant and rewarding afternoon, so much so that I may well be tempted to return in the summer.

Anthro Boatanics

Having just returned from a sunshine holiday in Malta I hadn’t expected to be inspired by my local High Street. I was completely caught by surprise when I came across this colourful display of planters in Anthropologie’s doorway.

Botanical Style

Botanical Style

Anthro botanics

Anthro botanics

On closer inspection I discovered that the table on which the pots were arranged was made with wood reclaimed from Indonesian fishing boats. This immediately transported me back to Malta where I had stayed in a room overlooking a tiny harbour which was full of traditional Maltese fishing vessels known as Luzzus. These are typically painted in traditional bright colours including blue, yellow, red and green and create a postcard-perfect scene on the beautiful and clear Mediterranean Sea surrounding the islands.

Maltese fishing boats

Maltese fishing boats

Traditional Maltese fishing boat

Traditional Maltese Luzzus









Attracted by Anthro’s colourful display of exotic pots and planters I wandered into the store to look at the range in more detail. There I found a vast array of assorted pots in all shapes and colours starting at a price of around £8. Moreover I discovered that on Saturday May 28th Guildford Anthro will be hosting an event featuring interior and lifestyle stylist and writer Selina Lake. She will be present in store between 11am and 3pm to give a tour of her latest book, Botanical Style, published by Ryland Peters and Small. This is Selina’s seventh book and to launch it she will be giving a free Botanical Style goodie bag to the first ten people to purchase the publication on the day.

Anthropologie host regular events and these can be found on their website or in store. Alternatively, keep you eyes open whilst wandering your local High Street and you might discover the information is right in front of you.

Local events at Antrho

Local events at Anthro




FCUK Home arrives in Guildford

A midday stroll around sunny Guildford revealed a new addition to one of my favourite High Street boutiques. French Connection, which, until last weekend focused purely on clothing and accessories, now has a small homeware section.

FCUK Home Guildford

French Connection Home Guildford

Its clean lines and minimalist style is very much in keeping with FCUK’s image. In the French Connection Home Spring/Summer 2016 catalogue an eclectic range of furnishings is grouped under headings such as Modern Industrial and Undone Elegance which I feel are valid descriptions. I think there is also an African influence which manifests itself in the geometric patterned rugs, the oversized clay bowls, and the rich dark wood furnishings.

Eclectic Edit

French Connection Eclectic Edit

Very much a low key feel with rugs in muted shades, distressed leather chairs, and antique copper pendants.

FCUK rugs in muted shades

French Connection rugs in muted shades

Parquet console tables and coffe tables exhibit an array of modern accessories. Pots and bowls made from marble/soap stone, hammered metal, and clay, and table lamps made from glass, metal and stone.

Mirrors in all shapes and sizes adorn the walls.

Room with a view

French Connection mirrors and accessories

These stylish furnishings would look equally at home in an office, residence, or even a hotel lobby. The overall styling reminded me very much of the lobby at the Hoxton Hotel, Amsterdam, which I had visited earlier in the year.

To get the look FCUK has a handful of High Street Homeware stores, located in London, Newcastle and, of course,  Guildford. FCUK Home also has an on-line presence at www.frenchconnections.com/homeware.  Their range of sofas can be seen in selected DFS stores or at www.dfs.co.uk.

Royal Connections

The news this week has been both happy and sad. Our Monarch’s 90th birthday was a great reason to celebrate, whilst the passing of Prince, the American musician, was a great sadness.

Apart from these events happening within twenty-four hours of one another the casual observer might not see any commonality between these two great personalities. You might also be asking yourself why I would be writing about them on my blog which ostensibly focuses on interior design.

The answer is PURPLE! A colour that is regarded as regal and one that was championed by the diminutive pop star.

M&S flowers

M&S flower display

Towards the end of my interior design studies I was presented with the task of designing  a flower shop for my Preliminary Final Test. The design process I adopted was to explore various ideas and to assemble them into a sketch book. I loved this particular project and gathered many fanciful images and contemporary news items.

Sketch book - Sarah Raven's cutting garden

Sketch book – Sarah Raven’s cutting garden

Sketch book purple inspiration

Sketch book purple inspiration

Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee 2012

Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee 2012

Taking inspiration from over-sized flower arrangements that adorned Dutch cafés; from the wonderful Caledonian flower market in London; and many, many stalls and florists in my locality.

I toyed with many different wall and floor finishes from bare brickwork to distressed plaster to stunning Fired Earth tiles and digital imagery. I scoured Toast catalogues for moody backdrops, Sarah Raven sales literature for her extensive range of classic blooms, and Cox & Cox for carnival-like wedding themes. Terracotta pots, galvanised buckets, over-sized gilt mirrors, chandeliers, and chalkboards all had a place in my scheme.

As my research progressed my thoughts turned to the events that had dominated that year, 2012. In late July I was glued to my TV watching the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, and only a few weeks before the country had turned out in force to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Jubilee (60 years on the throne). The streets were filled with red, white and blue for both events. Prince William & Kate Middleton were also in the news celebrating their first wedding anniversary. It was a great year for parties!

Flower shop mood board

Flower shop mood board

Quoting from my sketch book I had written: To create a look and feel for this project I have started to think more seriously abut the UK and its unique character. I started to think more in terms of colour schemes to reflect our Monarchy – rather than the obvious colours of the national flag I was thinking along the lines of purple or red.

I developed this theme further and wrote: I started to think about English produce and the benefits of only selling locally grown blooms rather than importing from other European countries or further afield. It would no doubt impact on what we had become used to; no more tulips in the shops at Christmas, instead there would be berries and evergreens, wreaths and swags. The benefits of this would be both ecological and economical. It would reduce the carbon footprint and, without the import costs, reduce prices. This would become the unique selling point of the shop.

Flower shop scale model

Flower shop scale model

So, QUEENS the florist was conceived. With a magnificent purple shop-front and gold lettering spelling out the name it would stand out on the High Street and beckon passersby through the door. Floor to ceiling displays of all types of flowers would provide a clear processional route around the store.

Distinct areas catering for children, husbands/boyfriends, and ladies-who-lunch. Pocket money posies at low-level, conveniently positioned pre-wrapped bunches with self-service check-outs for those in a rush, and a manned counter to make bespoke bouquets at the back of the shop for those special occasions. QUEENS would ensure that there was a budget and service to suit all!.


Time In The Garden



I have a love/hate relationship with my garden and I think this is probably true of most people who work full-time and can only spend time in the garden at the weekend. Today is the first full day I have had in the garden this year and, as ever, I didn’t achieve anywhere near as much as I wanted to.

I chose to prioritise the vegetable patch rather than concern myself with the flower borders as time is getting on. I cleared one raised bed and planted onion sets for harvesting in late summer/early Autumn, and planted carrots and peas for early Summer picking. I cleared a second raised bed in preparation for runner beans to be planted next month after the risk of frost has passed.


After all of the hard work I took a moment to enjoy my current successes. My philosophy is to minimise work and cost by clever planting. In the Autumn I plant bulbs for the Spring and in the Spring I plant perennials for the Summer. Year after year these plants will self-seed and fill the garden with glorious colour.  I am also a great believer in using ornamental bark chippings to spread on the garden and thus reduce the in intrusion of weeds. Again, this will save time.


Favourite terracotta pot

For inspiration on planting the perfect perennial border visit  Crocus.co.uk. Here you can choose your style, place an order on-line for the perfect planting combination, and receive an illustrated planting guide. Two years ago I chose the Bees and Butterflies border and it does exactly what it says on the tin. Brilliant!

Although, there are still many hours work ahead to get the garden shipshape for the Summer I still managed to steal a moment to relax at the end of a hard day and enjoy a long cool drink as the sun went down. That’s what makes it all worthwhile!

From Shabby To Chic



When I bought my first home I inherited a Mr. Toad wicker chair which I absolutely adored. Many years later I still have a fondness for wicker furniture and have an assortment of pieces. Not that long ago I was asked to renovate a very sad armchair that belonged to my friend’s mum. When I returned it to her she was absolutely delighted with her “new” chair which I had transformed from shabby to chic.

Half way

Half way

For this particular project I used a Farrow & Ball water-based eggshell in Brassica™. Using a paint brush to apply the paint it was quite difficult to cover the original shade of red. Applying two coats eventually did the trick. To finish the transformation I used a lovely linen mix upholstery fabric that I had in stock to cover a two inch thick piece of foam to make a seat cushion.



More recently I wanted to try out a shade of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ so I decided to give my tatty white linen bin a makeover. Again, using a paint brush to apply the paint to the wicker I transformed this little piece of furniture in no time at all.



Inside lid

Inside lid









I used Graphite for the exterior and Barcelona Orange for the inside of the lid. To bring the colours together I added a silk Linum scatter cushion with a pompom trim.

With Linum cushion


With pompoms

With pompoms

A quicker and easier way to renovate wicker furniture and baskets is to use an aerosol spray. Cans of car paint are very effective although the range of colours quite limited. Alternatively, conventional paints can be applied using a spray gun, and although quicker to apply, the necessity to thoroughly clean the equipment after use can be really tedious. For bigger projects this would probably be worth the trade off.

Cox & Cox rattan baskets

Cox & Cox rattan baskets

To achieve a more frivolous look why not cut a stencil and spray a shape onto a piece of furniture. These rattan baskets from Cox & Cox provide ideal storage in a child’s bedroom. For more details go to  http://www.coxandcox.co.uk/home/kids/nordic-star.

« Older posts

© 2020 Langdon Hyde Design

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑