Sunday, 29 November 2015

Vintage finds

It is blowing a gale where you are? We've had blustery gale force winds all day and tomorrow I'm off to Brighton for a day out Christmas shopping...think it might be a bit of a wash out!

Saturday we drove to Midhurst to the beautiful Cowdray House to enjoy a The Country Brocante Winter Fair. We took a little meander down the dirt road past the horses, patted a few wet noses on a several dogs and then took ourselves into the marquee. It was busy but not suffocatingly so and I came home with some lovely things, nothing I really needed of course…a pair of beautiful velvet floral cushions in rich smudgy colours, which seem to blend with anything and six vintage green and gold edged dishes with little painted bird motifs, a big piece of vintage Sanderson fabric perhaps from the 80s and a set of six silver teaspoons with a lovely motif at the top depicting a saint or a monk like figure…perfect for this time of year – these are a Christmas gift for someone special (and besides if I don’t gift these to someone, this will be my fourth box of teaspoons!)

For the longest time I have wanted to repaint the dining room.  It’s been Farrow and Ball French grey for several years now, and in a north facing room, appears rather green grey and quite dark, not at all unpleasant, but I feel like a change, and I really fancy pink for some strange reason…not sugary ice cream pink, but softly mild and more grown up…so I've been splashing on some sample pots of Farrow and Ball’s Pink Ground and Calamine and one small pot from Laura Ashley called Chalk Pink. I've covered A4 size papers with the paint samples and they are up on the wall so I  can decide which one I like, so far I like the Pink Ground and the Calamine, although I think this might be a little too pink for my taste.  I also found some beautiful wallpaper in a lovely shop in Midhurst, which right now no one seems to know the designer or the name as it was up on a feature wall, so I’m waiting for a call back on that. I do love the monochrome blousy floral look of this, it reminds me of old book illustrations. I've got to be careful not to go too feminine here as hubby and son might think of moving out!  It’s currently borderline feminine but with big robust pieces like a sturdy oak table flanked by Phillip Starke Ghost Chairs and a large vintage painted buffet which is more masculine and grey green walls which offset the other feminine elements. I'm also looking to replace the current pendant lights.  I have a beautiful vintage ballroom chandelier which I had up in our previous home, which came out of the attic to see if it would fit here, but it’s way too big and our ceilings are too low, so back in the attic it goes, pity because I love this chandelier… I think I need to do a little mood board so I can see how it all works together, stayed tuned.

This wallpaper....


Wondering what the flowers are doing in the photo? I was given a lovely bunch of supermarket blooms, but somehow they just looked plain boring in a glass vase, so I chopped them all down and divided them between an old silver mug and a small ceramic vase...looking much better now!

Have any of you started buying/decorating your tree yet? I'm buying a tree this week and can't wait to decorate it!

Have a great week.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Decorating the Christmas Table

It’s utter madness this time of year isn’t it? It’s hard to pull the breaks on how far to go with it all. Christmas is a special time of year and without sounding sanctimonious, I don’t want to forget what it’s all about but sometimes I get carried away and the décor of the table wins over everything else. On the other hand there is nothing more precious than sitting around a beautifully decorated table with friends and loved ones and enjoying a festive meal together.

This post is all about how to decorate a table. If you’re the kind of person who just plonks down a placemat, cutlery and a glass, or you get disapproving looks from your mother in law across a barren looking Scrooge style Christmas table, then this post is for you.

When I think about decorating a table, I begin by choosing a colour. Then comes how I want it to ‘feel’, the story if you like and it grows from there. If you're hoping for a more formal effect, keep the colours to 3-4 at the most. This keeps the overall look tight and cohesive.

To start you’ll need a good table cloth. This frames your cutlery and dinnerware like a good haircut frames your face. You could go with any number of colours, but white is a good place to start if this is all new to you.  It’s a great canvas for showing off your dinnerware.

Next you might want to look at buying some chargers – plate chargers. These are plastic, melamine or glass plates quite a bit larger than a dinner plate. They come in a variety of different colours, like gold, silver, red and blue and they set off your dinnerware really well. If you want to add a bit of texture to your table, you can use Raffia or rattan place mats instead.

Napkins. Don’t do paper serviettes. Especially at Christmas. If you've gone to all the trouble of laying a beautiful table, don’t go spoiling it with paper serviettes, buy some good napkins in white or a contrasting colour, preferably linen or damask cotton. If you want a formal look, you might want to opt for napkins in the same colour as your tablecloth but if you're looking for a lighthearted fun atmosphere have some napkins made up in several colours, again not more than 3-4 and alternate them on the table settings.

Napkin rings: this is where you can get creative. You can go plain brass or silver, or go festive with holly, berries and tartan, the variety is endless. If you don’t have napkin rings, opt for some beautiful ribbon which you can tie around your cutlery, pop in a sprig of pine and a stick of cinnamon for a spicy and aromatic smell at the table.

Cutlery:  chances are your everyday cutlery will have lost its gloss and shine, and it goes without saying that you’ll want some decent looking cutlery to go with your newly decorated table. You can buy gold coloured cutlery from a number of stores, but I found some at Argos for a really good price. Go check it out here and here

Glassware comes in a variety of different designs, gold rimmed, plain and coloured stems. If you’re going for a more eclectic look, you could even bring in some coloured glassware. I like to buy vintage glassware, a favourite place to look is at charity stores.

Crazy crackers can add a quirky element to a more formal table to bring in a little lightness…as long as you incorporate one of the colours you are decorating with so that the overall look is cohesive.

Candlelight: nothing creates a more magical atmosphere than flickering candles. Tall candelabra to mini tealights, there is so much choice. Whatever you have, bring on the candles!

Now you need something for the centre of that table and this can be anything you love, from reindeer to vintage baubles, mini Christmas trees with fairy lights, to vases of informal flowers (remember to keep the arrangement low and horizontal….you don’t want your guests or family members bobbing up and down just to see you across the table!).

Name place cards: if you’re having a large party for Christmas it’s a good idea to seat sociable people next to quieter ones, so the entire table get to engage in conversation instead of just a few in one area.  

I like my tables to be a little asymmetrical full of random loveliness. The symmetry I get from the placement of the plates, the cutlery and the glasses…the middle of the table is where I get to have all the fun.  Now go decorate that table!

Thank you all for your lovely comments on my last post, I did promise not to post pictures of my daughters, but I sneaked this one in!

Until next time!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Thinking about Christmas

Now that Halloween is finally over, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas (at least it is for me!) For some it’s a little early, but I confess I love this time of year, the decorations in store, even the trees outside get Christmas lights and it all looks so pretty and festive. Time to get out my treasured Christmas baubles and think of new and interesting ways to decorate.  I like a slow unhurried lead up to Christmas so I tend to start early. I've bought a few gifts already. 

I started thinking about my Christmas table a few weeks ago  but I didn't want to spend loads on items that I didn't need or wouldn't use again so I thought about what I had that I could use and suddenly it all came together rather effortlessly, using a wonderful piece of fabric I've been hoarding in my sewing box for a few years and some interesting plates. I’ll be posting that at Christmas, but I thought it would be fun to look back at some of my previous Christmas tables..

Just for fun, Christmas 2009 we all wore masks, of course they came off pretty early when we starting eating the turkey, but it did create a crazy fun element we all enjoyed. Do you ever do dress up for Christmas? 

My table in 2012, pink had everyone raising their eyebrows but they loved how it all looked in the end.

Probably my least favourite table was in 2013 when I decided we'd do a pared down table, rustic with a less is more kind of attitude, I thought I would like this kind of table but I don't.  I do love a bit of sparkle which this one did have, just not enough for me.

My most favourite Christmas table yet was last year with the Reindeer and gold bauble theme, which I really loved.

So have you thought about Christmas yet or is it way too soon?
Have a lovely week!