Saturday, 26 September 2015

Beauty in the Bedroom

This post has been a long time coming. So much so that I've had to rewrite it, due in part to coming down with a very bad case of bronchitis and feeling totally floored and unable to do anything at all. The phrase ‘man down’ really sums up how I've been feeling this last week.

I'm trying to blog more regularly, at least three posts a month but sometimes I just don’t make it.  I haven’t cycled as much as I would have liked because our summer was quite frankly, a bit of a wash out, which means I need to get out and do a lot more walking in order to keep fit and healthy. Anyone else feel like that?  But I am looking forward to my favourite season, autumn.  I do love a lie in on a Saturday morning especially in autumn, snuggling under warm feather filled duvets and fur throws, reading a good book, toast in one hand, and tea in the other.  Which is why having loveliness in the bedroom is just an absolute must. We spend so much time there and the reason why I keep on blogging about the benefits of bedroom loveliness and also why I love prettying up bedroom spaces like this one here

  and this one here

So to give you a little back history; my previous bed was an antique oak bed, it had hand carved flowers in the middle of the head above slatted oak panels.  The foot end was the same. I absolutely fell in love with it when we shopped for our first double bed when we got married, despite the fact that it had an original spring base which squeaked at the slightest turn (we changed that soon enough!) It had a rather old world Dutch feel to it. It suited the original 100 year bare wooden flooring and the simple white damask bedspread. Pared back and simple.  (Wish I had photos but nobody was taking snaps of their interiors way back then!) I LOVED IT SO MUCH that when we moved here even though it didn't fit my new king-size divan, I couldn't part with it, in fact I still have it in storage!  But I'm finally over the love affair with my old bed and ready move on to something a bit more modern.

It’s taken me months to decide, remember this post  Actually if I’m completely honest I’d confess and say I want a few headboards, in different colour ways and different fabric. Because I tend to change my mind. A lot.  I touched, sniffed, picked, pulled and rubbed plenty of samples that came through my post box. I fell in love with the organic quirkiness of the Squiggle headboard from which is so deep and squishy and appealed to my more bohemian spirit and love of vintage linen and soft velvets.  Their colours are exquisite. I really loved how deep the actual headboard was, but somehow I couldn't quite make a commitment.  The more I searched the more confused I became. Then I hopped on over to and fell for the more glamorous look of the fully tufted chesterfield.  I trawled through all their colours, but couldn't find the colour in the fabric I was looking for.  It was just all too much. In a moment of girly frivolity, I decided I would buy my own fabric in a heavenly pink  reminiscent of the David Austin Scepter’d Isle Rose in a plush velvet…because I do love a touch of pink…but husband who wears pink Polo shirts, said no… Eventually I peeled off the 10 or so samples from the wallpaper above the bed stuck on with Washi tape in little rows and put them all away.  It made no difference. I was still undecided. It seemed the more choices I had the less decisive I became. What I really wanted was one of each in my favourite fabrics and colour ways…but hubby was having none of it!

My choice of colour and pattern was limited to my very busy but beautiful-to-me wallpaper from Laura Ashley, which I had already decided I wasn't changing because I still love it even after five years!

But here she is…smooth, soft, elegant, feminine, young and sexy. She goes with anything. With any colour. And she appeals to my love white, especially in the bedroom. 

Oh, and in the end I chose White Naples from which I'm a little bit in love with.

This is not a sponsored post, but any gifts of lovely tufted deliciously tactile headboards would be most welcome. Because I like variety. A Lot.

Hope you enjoy the weekend, the sun is out, but I am still not feeling well, so indoors it is for me with a pile of interior books to keep me company!

And thank you all for your lovely comments on previous posts.


Thursday, 10 September 2015

A book review - Absolutely Beautiful Things

A few days ago, something kind of special was dropped through my post box. A special gift to myself for which I had been waiting almost a year…an absolutely beautiful book by designer Anna Spiro.

I found Anna’s blog a few years back and fell in love with her style. Her use of colour and pattern seemed so fresh and spontaneous I instantly felt an affinity with her styling and use of beautiful antiques mixed with more modern pieces. I realised this Aussie blogger was also from way down south, not quite where I come from, but way down in the southern hemisphere. The light in Aussie reminds me of South Africa, and her home ‘an old Queenslander’ as she put it, reminds me of one of our homes in South Africa with the same zinc roof and wraparound veranda… if any of you have lived in a home with a corrugated iron roof, you’ll know they create the most magical sound when it rains!  

Anna’s style incorporates antiques, art, fabulous colourful fabrics with a hint of quirky just for fun all rolled into one lovely pleasing welcoming style. I just love it! Her style is refreshing, bold yet easy on the eye, with interesting antiques and décor items sourced from around the world. Her style is not about recreating a particular era, but about blending different pieces from all different eras, mixing them up with fabulous colour and fabrics and a great sense of style and it works!

As a designer and a writer, Anna comes across supremely modest and humble without the slightest bit of lofty superiority that one sometimes finds in so many interior design books. She attributes her success to her mother and grandmothers and her own sheer hard work and a little bit of serendipity!
The photos are wonderful, full of exquisite vignettes, all of them colourful and beautifully styled. I spent the entire afternoon and the evening reading the book from cover to cover and I could hear Anna’s voice between the lines, unpretentious, ever so grateful, gracious and kind, yet quietly confident in her own ability.

She talks about her beginnings, putting together a design, colours, fabric and starting collections as well as so much more. When I finished reading last night, I closed the book and said out loud, ‘now that’s a beautiful design book’. It took me on a journey, gave me insight into the woman behind the colourful interiors and has made me want to hop on a plane and go visit her store down under for some of those fabulous cushions!

Some of you might be a little hesitant about using such bold colour, especially in England where with smaller rooms and different light, people seem to think if they stick to beige it will make the rooms look larger but a little colour can add a tremendously upbeat atmosphere to any home whether you live here or in Australia. Anna’s book Absolutely Beautiful things is available  from Amazon here

So are you an all-white/all beige kind of girl or 
do you love mixing it all up with a bit of colour?
Do tell!


Monday, 31 August 2015

Prettying up Bookcases

Hello lovely people of the blogging world! I've been MIA for the past couple of weeks and not even a holiday tan to account for my absence. I could tell you all about how much it’s been raining here in the south of England but I won’t bore you with that.  Instead this post is about much prettier things, like wallpaper and bookcases and ignoring the pouring rain outside!

A walk in wardrobe is probably every woman’s dream. I don’t consider myself to be any kind of fashion diva, but I’d still love a walk-in devoted to my own personal clothing and all the paraphernalia that goes with dressing oneself.  Walking into a room fitted with wonderful shelving with rows of shoes, handbags, jewellery and lots of lovely space for storing pretty things would feel terribly RHBH, (for those who don’t watch; Real Housewives of Beverley Hills!) I've always loved the open shelving concept, and indeed I've spent some considerable time pinning pictures on Pinterest of pretty shelving, drooling over what will never be…. Although I don’t think open plan shelving is for everyone.  Not for the clutter bugs, the ones who drop clothing on the floor, leave shoes in each room and a trail of underwear behind them and generally love living in what they might call organised chaos.  This kind of openness is for those who by their own admission call themselves ‘neat freaks’. And I mean that in the nicest possible way!

Angelgirl is one such lady and so when she suggested that she wanted to change her little box room into a walk in dressing room, using billy bookcases, I couldn't resist asking if we could pretty them up a little so they didn't just look like shoes on a bookcase.   The room already has an antique oak dressing table which I grudgingly painted out in Annie Sloan last year to save it getting sent off to charity (I know sacrilege right?!!), boxes full of shoes and a clothing rail, so it was halfway there just not looking very coordinated.

We used Ikea Billy Bookcases and Sophie Conran’s Hibiscus wallpaper in the pink colourway. We lay down the backing, measured the wallpaper, cut and then brushed the wallpaper glue directly onto the backing. Have to say the easiest and quickest wallpapering ever! However, we didn't take into consideration the thickness of wallpaper and the width of the groove it needed to fit in. (We were too busy getting excited but these lovely shelves to worry about the details!) So with a lot of pushing and pulling, we finally managed to get the backing to clip into the grooves on the back shelf.  We hammered in a few nails for good measure and started on the second bookcase. When we covered the second backing we left around 0.5cm on each side so that it would slide into the grooves without the extra thickness of the wallpaper getting in the way. It worked perfectly!

The rest of the room is yet to be done. Mirrors need to go up and more wallpaper to match the shelving and a new lick of paint on the dressing table, but here’s a few photos so far.

Because shelving looks really boring with just rows and rows of shoes or clothing, we broke it up by adding some decor items already in her house, a jewellery stand, a photo or two, a PARIS print and momentoes from a recent trip to Paris.  

A few resources: The PARIS print comes from Made By Girl by Jen Ramos and the small gold pineapple you can get from Rockett St George. The White and gold honeycombe tealight holder comes from Papillon in Brighton. The White ceramic apple with the gold leaf comes from TKMaxx. The gold hand holding the rings, is a mould of my daughter's hand made by her father.

So it started off looking like this:

And now they look like this:

I've got some more loveliness coming up in the bedroom shortly, have been waiting for months for this...

Take care!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Bedroom Renovation and Statement Lighting

I'm doing a merry little jig around the house because I've just taken delivery of two large boxes containing some beautiful table lamps that I ordered for Angelgirl’s bedroom.  As you might have read from previous posts, we’re doing a little makeover in her bedroom. 

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know we started with a house renovation project last year.  I remember when I first set eyes on this renovation project, I looked at the mess, thinking, urgh.... I'm having doubts, I just can’t see past the rubble and muck left by the last tenants…that’s how I felt when I first saw this property.  There was so much filth, grime, rubbish, old furniture, cat poo, mould growing everywhere….almost looked like a condemned building (okay I'm exaggerating but you get the idea) It took us a few weeks to clean it up, drive away the rubbish and then start on prettying it up.

Here are a few photos of the bedroom before the renovation, which gives you a good idea how awful it was. Actually this room was one of the cleanest in terms of rubble and dirt.  We painted the whole house using just two colours throughout, except the dining room reveal and then we laid down the carpet.  Medium grey, soft and squishy under your feet kind of carpet with a deep pile.

It started to feel like home for Angelgirl.  But she still wasn't finished.  Mademoiselle wanted wallpaper of the glamorous kind. We  had just enough wallpaper over to hang against the wardrobe wall side, the light bounces in from the opposite window and gives the wallpaper a lovely shimmery effect. Once the wallpaper was hung, we realised the iron bedstead, although nice enough, was a bit too vintage/boho looking for the wallpaper, so we bought a new fabric covered bed with a headboard.  We chose grey because it’s a great neutral colour and most colours go well with grey, you can mix it with pastels, pinks, blues and more greys…so perfect.

The bedroom looked really ‘nice’ before, but hanging this wallpaper and swapping out the bed changed the entire look to a more sophisticated one, but something was still missing – great lighting.  The Ikea lamps she had were basic, small and uninteresting but at the time that’s all she could afford.  They didn't say wow and they didn't complement the newly hung wallpaper – or the bed.  Enter the great statement table lamp and this is when I was doing the merry little jig – which makes me sound like some little Irish Leprechaun doing a jig around a toadstool…which I'm not...I promise...anyway

Sometimes all you need to do is change out the table lamps.  I'm not advocating that all table lamps should be enormous, some little nooks call for a tiny lamp propped on a pile of books, but this bedroom needed BIG and these are around 60cm high.  Large table lamps make a room look more opulent and expensive.  The bedroom has gone from pretty nice to boutique hotel bedroom.  It looks so inviting that I feel like moving in myself…

A few before photos. The door you see in the photo no 2 is actually a little closet with shelving.  We took the door off and remodelled the entire area adding two deep clothing rails and a billy bookcase, and then closed it all off with mirrored sliding doors.

 In between with the iron bedstead and Ikea lamps.

And as it looks now, completely finished (I should have ironed the bedding before I took pics!) 
With the new lamps from Joss and Main.

If your bedroom is aching for a makeover, and you would like me to redesign it for you

Have a great week!

Friday, 3 July 2015

Summer table decor

It's hot down south... I had quite forgotten how warm summer can get here in little old England.  Now I have no excuse for not cycling along the beach front and getting a little least there is a breeze when I cycle.  Talking of heat, my seeds I planted a few months ago have all flowered and my little courtyard garden is full of cottage flowers in pots and my roses are flourishing.  I am trying hard not to pick them!  My wild flower meadow mix was a bit of a disaster, with more weeds than anything else, so I pulled them out and scattered a few delphinium seeds and already one week later I have green shoots smiling at me!  I'm still obsessed with flowers, and I love using them to brighten up the table decor.

A few days ago it was my eldest daughter’s 26th birthday. It’s a tradition in our home that we celebrate birthdays with a family meal. This lady likes her flowers too, so I went for a mix of peonies and roses on a white tablecloth with pops of gold, because she does like a little sparkle! I bought my peonies from a local flower seller in Southsea, I haven’t seen any local supermarket selling these lovely blooms so when I saw them at the stall, I snapped up two bunches!

For me, decorating the table is one of the most enjoyable parts of giving a dinner party. Even with the few flowers I grow myself I would have enough to fill pretty vases or jars and place them all over the table. If you don’t have vases, try using tea light votives as long as they’re waterproof.  The more vases you have the better it looks.  For my centrepiece I used a crystal candelabra I bought from Bellamy’s Antiques many years ago, they always stock unusual and beautiful items.  I added gold chargers and gold and white cotton napkins from Zara Home, which I used at my Christmas Table. The silver heart name holders I bought several years ago for a valentine’s dinner, they add a touch of formality to the occasion but it was all meant to be a little bit tongue in cheek because Angelgirl loves hearts. I mixed metals but it lightened and brightened the table and kept it informal and casual looking.

This was the last of our family birthdays for the year.  Are you planning any summer dinner parties?


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Rug Appeal

For a while now I've been looking for a rug.  As some of you might already know, I'm updating a little room and turning it into an office.  The room already has a neutral colour carpet, also known as beige, and this is staying, because you’ll remember from this post, that the plan is to shop the home for items I can use here and spend less than £500!  Challenging! So I only wanted a small rug, something to sit under the desk and add a little visual appeal. 

Rugs are funny things.  They need to visually appeal, but they shouldn't detract from everything else that’s going on in a room. Especially if the rug isn't supposed to be the focal point in the room.  It’s sort of the canvas upon which the rest of the pieces of furniture need to be displayed, just like using certain colours, it’s utterly important to get it right.

Anyhow on with the rug story. Finally I found a rug I was happy with.  This one comes from Joss and Main.  It’s a great little site where they curate all different furniture/accessories sales under one website.  The only downside is that the items are only available for 2-3 days so if you don’t buy it when you see it, you lose it!  And believe me I've done that a few times. But I learn fast, now when I see something I absolutely LOVE, I don’t hesitate.   Anyhow this little zigzag pattern had me at the start….although I previously said I wanted something simple, no pattern, just texture, I am really in love with this rug.  I knew it would work with the pieces already in the room and the pops of natural wood. It has a really plush pile, the colour is just right, a great pattern and complements the other elements in the room without overpowering them and it’s not fighting for attention either which is a good thing when the rest of the pieces in the room are mostly white except for the artwork and a few accessories.

My peonies eventually opened,  all but 3 of them.  I've started picking my sweet peas because someone told me the more you pick them the more they grow!

Have a lovely week!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Devon countryside

Hello lovely people, apologies for not stopping by your blogs this last week, we've been away but I promise to catch up with you all soon.

I'm deviating a little from my usual interior post to share our recent trip to North Devon.  We experienced our very own ‘far from the madding crowd’ in the pretty rural countryside.

We stayed in a National Trust cottage in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and driving down the steep narrow path to the cottage with old oaks leaning over creating a canopy of beautiful green leaves with the dappled sunlight dancing on the flowers….it was almost magical, especially when we passed a pink and pretty thatched cottage on the way.

Hidden from view and tucked in amongst the trees, the cottage sits in the beautiful secluded woods of the Peppercombe valley.  The cottages were traditionally built out of Cob in the late 18th century, to house the officers of what was then called the Preventive Service – tasked with policing this wild stretch of coast to prevent smuggling!  Whilst being sympathetic to the original building and original features, it has been modernised in such a sensitive manner, we hardly noticed the modern amenities, but were ever grateful for them none the less!

We woke to birds chirping and the sound of a babbling brook at the bottom of the garden…idyllic...  It was the remoteness of the cottage that first lured me in, that and the fact that mobile phones were completely useless in this area, just what we wanted…

We lit a cosy fire each night, ate delicious cheese, sipped Blackberry wine, read books and just listened to nature talking.  It was a wonderful getaway.  Most days we pulled on the hiking boots, flask in rucksack (all provided by the cottage!) and took ourselves off to various walking routes along the coast.   We’d come back exhausted, with burning calves and a healthy red glow about the cheeks!

The cottage is decorated sparsely but in keeping with a traditional 18th century cottage, but with hidden comforts like heated towel rails in the bathroom, fluffy white bath sheets and a very cosy and comfortable bed. 

The valley was teaming with birds and wild flowers in abundance.  I've never seen so many foxgloves out in the countryside...

It’s made me want to pack up sticks and move out to the lovely English Countryside, grow my own vegetables and keep a few chickens, take up knitting and jam making, all at once!


Now back to the noise of the modern world....

Hope you enjoy the week!