Monday, 30 September 2013

Brit Decor: Sunday Bake

On Sunday I found myself once again indulging in my new favourite thing: Simplicity. Heaven knows I needed it after a super-busy week and so no wonder I was again determined to focus on the simple things this weekend.

After a walk around the historic Bishop's Palace in the Somerset city of Wells, I felt so inspired by the beautifully tended tranquil gardens and allotments that when I arrived home feeling completely chilled, there was only one thing I wanted to do - go blackberry picking! 

Even the thought of this activity reminds me of simpler times as a child when me and my sister used to head off to the nearby fields with our wonderful Gran. Each of us would be armed with carrier bags and containers as we went about our mission to gather blackberries for Gran to cook up some culinary delight for desert. There is something so therapeutic about selecting the ripened berries and gently negotiating around the thorns with the knowledge that the end result will be a scrumptious fruit crumble or a sweet jam. Equally nice was the thought that despite living in a world of fast-moving change, some things never change.

On this occasion I decided to opt for a blackberry and apple crumble, mainly because I had some left over apples which make the perfect pudding partner for blackberries with a sprinkling of sugar for added sweetness. I love the homely smell of golden crumble topping baking in the oven as the deep red blackberry juices gently bubble to the surface and fuse with the apple slices to tint them a rich pink colour. Needless to say the end result was a scrumptious sweet treat, which possibly tasted just that little bit nicer knowing that most of the ingredients were free!

We miss you Gran.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Brit Decor: Concrete Jungle

From the soft and fiery florals of Wednesday's Petal Palette post to today's Concrete Jungle theme - don't you just love how varied and contrasting interior design can be!

Concrete may only be for the brave amongst us but the minimalist in me is often drawn towards this type of raw styling and I haven't been able to take my eyes off the Stone Angels wallpaper (above) by Young & Battaglia, with it's heavenly graphic theme that I just want to reach out and touch. I am seriously considering adding this paper to my home as a feature wall but a striking design such as this deserves as much free wall space as possible so it will take careful consideration and designer's head scratching before I make a final decision on it (I will keep you posted).

To accessorise this raw materials theme, I have offset these hard building materials with some softer fabrics like the Super Soft Fringe throw below and the soft grey tones of the Linen Ombre cushion (above). All of the accessories used today are from French Connection because the muted tones of their stunning home collection works perfectly in conjunction with these graphic grey wallpapers. With high impact graphic detailing, it's best to keep the accessories as simple as possible.  

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Brit Decor: Petal Palette

I find this an odd time of year, an in-between period of balmy Summer days and chilly Autumn nights, which is leading to some pleasant and exciting surprises in the garden. 

A few days of sunshine can still prompt a last minute bloom (or three) and the tomatoes are turning from green, to orange and finally a bright and mouthwatering red. I love taking a wander in the garden and making these discoveries after a day of sitting in front of a computer screen - it's moments like these that bring me down to earth with a pleasant bump!

I couldn't resist snipping off some of the flower heads (photographed above) to bring inside for a concentrated burst of indoor colour. The deep reds of the Dahlias and the subtle pastel pinks of the scented wall roses really do add a warmth and vibrancy that is hard to beat.

My inspired finds in the garden led me to see how I could mirror this natural palette with some of the latest UK home accessories. By far the cutest buy is the red & white miniature Letterpress book about cooking (7) and the vivid red of the Habitat towel set (5) would set any bathroom on fire! Meanwhile, Kate Hume's pebble vase (6) really reminds me of the Dahlia's with their large and elegantly curved petal heads.

Which is your favourite buy?

1/ Gold Fragment mug & plate from £12 Starling Store 2/ Lino Forlino cushion £55 The Conran Shop
3/ Lope knitted cushion £45 Habitat 4/ Orla Kiely Rhubarb Reed diffuser £22.95 Bloomsbury Store 5/ Egyptian red towels from £2 Habitat 6/ Kate Hume Pebbles vase (Aubergine) £339 The Conran Shop 7/ 
Letterpress miniature book on cooking £3.95 Bloomsbury Store

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Brit Decor: Tempting Treats

Yes, yes and yes! These delectable little hot chocolate pots make for the perfect after-dinner finale, an indulgent Sunday afternoon treat or simply a quick fix for one of those chocolate craving moments (we all have these don't we?)

Apart from the rich and heavenly chocolaty taste, what I also love is just how cute these little puddings look. I prefer to alternate between using mismatching vintage pots & tea-cups and rolling out matching contemporary earthenware pots in chalky neutrals. Both looks have equal impact and are guaranteed to look impressive.

The recipe itself is so quick and easy to make that in no time at all you will be serving up 5 pots of sheer indulgence. 

How to make:
- Pre-heat the oven to around 200 degrees. Break the dark chocolate up into small pieces and along with the chopped butter, add to a bowl suspended over simmering water to melt. 

- Using a separate bowl gently whisk the eggs and stir in the sugar and flour.
Gradually add the melted chocolate and butter into the egg mixture.

- Prepare the insides of the pots with butter before adding the mixture.
Bake for 10–12 minutes or until the tops are nearly firm (it's important that the centres remains as soft molten hot chocolate).

- Serve with a sprinkling of crumbled digestive biscuit and a single scoop of rich vanilla ice cream. Heaven!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Brit Decor: Time Piece


The week ahead will be a busy one, even with my precious Italian-style coffee breaks I will be up against a mountainous workload and so there has to be a big emphasis on schedules and timescales in order for me to keep my sanity as well as getting the job done.

However, whilst planning for this hectic period I realised just how little I rely on wall clocks these days - not only has my trusted iPhone become my primary source of communication, Music and photos, it is also my clock of choice.  

I was left feeling slightly guilty about this as I used to love wall clocks as a child, particularly the 1970's golden sunburst clock in my grandparent's lounge! So perhaps I've allowed myself to become a little bit too 21st Century? After all, clocks are beautiful and so varied as they gently tick and chime away in a familiar and somewhat soothing rhythm. Tick tock, tick tock...

Perhaps I will make a concerted effort to look up at a clock rather than down at my phone from now on? So here we have it, Brit Decor's favourite selection of clocks - I really like the sleek font clock below by Established & Son's as well as the characterful clock plates from Rockett St George!

1 Karlsson Rainbow wall clock £33.50 Clippings / 2 Mr Jones Watches Countdown Clock £95 Culture Label / 3 Watch me wall clock £30 Clippings / 4 Clock Plate Clocks £39 Rockett St George / 5 Established & Sons Font Clock £259 Clippings

Friday, 20 September 2013

Brit Decor: Fireside/


This is a significant day for me as it will see the arrival of our local friendly chimney sweep, Ricky, for his annual cleaning of the chimney in anticipation of colder nights and frosty white mornings. The logs have been chopped to size and the kindle is neatly bundled (it's the perfectionist in me) with newspapers a plenty and I cannot wait to strike the first match! 

Suddenly the wood burner will undergo a metamorphosis after being completely dormant over the Summer months it will become the centrepiece of not only the lounge but quite possibly of the entire cottage, as a source of blazing heat and also for its comforting glow and the heart warming crackle and pop of the burning logs. Both of the cats will gravitate towards it and the eldest, Molly, will pretty much lay in front of the burner for most of the Winter and I am seriously tempted to join her!

As this is such a special day for my home, I thought it only right to signal this ritual sweeping with a selection of heart warming fires and fireplaces, I particularly like the knitted floor cushions (knitwear still featuring heavily in cushions and throws this AW13) and the all important tray of tea.

I suspect that my good friends Michelle and Rob will be prepping their burner too or maybe they have already lit their first fire of the Season? (let me know guys). Emptying the ash and preparing for the next fire can be a bit of a chore at times but it's worth it every time. Also a huge 'thank you' to Donna & Andy for the logs from their felled tree, I think I owe them a hot choc each in front of the fire!

One final note, I have just been informed that temperatures are due to soar into the twenties in the UK this weekend ;-)




Thursday, 19 September 2013

Brit Decor: New Find

1/ Enamel Pendant Lights £160 2/ Dutch Crates £40 3/ Abacus £130 4/ Stainless Steel 'M' £50 5/ Bistro Chairs £55
6/ Belgian Scale £235

The continued flow of exciting new stores onto the home interiors market leaves me feeling spoilt for choice. I no longer rely purely on the glossy interiors magazines for news of the latest shopping discoveries, at least not since twitter became my new little black book of contacts and addresses!

It was via this social media gem that I recently discovered Beholder a Bristol-based business which in their own words, collects and sells interesting items for domestic and commercial interiors. This collection is definitely perfect for the current trend in industrial design and for adding unique character to your home.

My graphic designer's eye immediately honed in on the stunning yellow Dutch crates, which also look fantastic against the slate coloured wall and would also make a great magazine holder! Anything catch your eye?

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Brit Decor: Uplift/

With the change of weather and the diminishing light, this is the time of year when I find it all too easy to slip into the seasonal doldrums. The good news is that along with seeking out light sources and sunshine, I also find that bright and vibrant colours are, in measured does, like medicine to my soul, hence today's Uplift theme.

As many of my friends will know, I am by nature a minimalist but this does not mean that colour is banished from my home. During the lighter Summer months I tend to ebb towards splashes of pastels whist the Winter sees the addition of small but intense injections of colour, rather like a shot of adrenaline!

Regular readers of Brit Decor will know that I am a big advocate of quick fix makeovers as a means of bringing interior design into everyone's lives, which is one of the great things about the Uplift style. A great example of this is the homemade bunting below, which cleverly reflects colours used elsewhere in the scheme and can be put together for next to no cost. Hooray for thrift and colour! 

If you are looking for straightforward no-nonsense impact, opt for a favourite bold, bright hue and paint a feature wall...or two! Then of course there are accessories - add a vibrantly coloured peppering of these to any neutral scheme and you will witness an immediate uplift to both the room and your mood.

Happy midweek and a very Happy Birthday to my Brother-in-Law, Matt!   


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Brit Decor: Mini-Makeover


During the weekend I happened to stumble across this striking image of a staircase and was instantly inspired. I love the vibrant infusion of colour and pattern set against the brilliant white stairs and check out the fuchsia pink hand rail too!

This is also a great idea for a mini makeover if you are strapped for time and/or cash. At very little cost you could pick up a selection of rugs and use existing ones from around the home - opt for lightweight, flexible fabrics and don't be afraid to mix up colours and patterns, remember this is a fun project!

I found the perfect selection of rugs at Urban Outfitters, which would do the job perfectly but there are many more choices out there.

If you are feeling especially creative, why not try painting a handrail too? As a guide, try picking out a dominant colour from your selection of rugs and use this for the paint colour.

On a cautionary note (Mike puts on his Health & Safety hat), do ensure that the rugs are safely secured to the stairs as we don't want any trips or slips!

Have you tried any quick fix home makeovers lately?

Monday, 16 September 2013

Brit Decor: Slouchy Sundays

Slouchy Sundays? You bet! I believe that all of us need a carefree and lazy day at some point in our busy lives, don't we...?

My friends will say that whenever they visit, my bed is always pristinely made and then they swiftly apologise for all of the occasions where I might have seen an untidy bed in their homes. In reality I don't judge anyone on an unmade bed and when there's nobody around on a weekend, I sometimes find it quite liberating and relaxing to leave the bed unmade as it seems to set a laid back mood for the remainder of the day. After all, an unmade bed never hurt anyone!

Therefore, after a relaxing Sunday fuelled by plenty of cups of tea, I thought what better way to start the week than with some gorgeous, decadent, ground breaking images of quite simply: unmade beds!

Did you make your bed today?


Friday, 13 September 2013

Brit Decor: Autumnal Mist


For the past few mornings I have opened my bedroom blinds to a thick and weaving Autumnal mist stretching out across the Somerset countryside like a beautiful watercolour scene. 

I find something both mysterious and alluring about early morning mists. It can be an early Summer dawn or and Autumnal one but either way I love how the light bounces and reflects from these tiny dancing particles of water as they filter and soften the daylight. So when I stumbled across this stunning image (above) on Pinterest, I felt inspired to post it on today's Brit Decor.

Inspiration is about a whole process, a chain reaction of thoughts and ideas that come together. In my work, an inspirational image is rarely complete without a corresponding interiors palette and with the above dreamy scene in mind, I went searching for the perfect home accessories. My most apt find has to be the graphic print cushion below called Shrouded in Mist by Society 6! How perfect is that?   

1/ Mid-century modern style chair £110 Rockett St George 2/ 'Shrouded in Mist' cushion $20 Society 6
3/ Squat Bottle £12 John Lewis 4/ Reindeer Hide £130 Not on the High Street 5/ Beautifully Cosy Moss stitch cotton throw £69.95 Rockett St George

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Brit Decor: Loves

Geometric designs continue to trend heavily in the fast moving worlds of graphics and interior design. As I wrote back in an August issue of Brit Decor, there is something so perfect about these mathematically distinctive patterns and lines, which simply brings out the perfectionist in me!

For this reason I wanted to share this eye-catching range of geometric or Geo homewares from Ella Doran Design. I love how successfully these stunning designs work within minimal settings - check out the contrast of the geometric detailing against solid blocks of colour such as the slate grey corner sofa or the polished tiled floor below.

My absolute favourite has to be the amazing 3D Geo Carved rug (also see below) made from New Zealand wool and destined to be the centrepiece of any room! However, perfection doesn't come cheap at £1,495.00, or alternatively, you could settle for the less expensive but nonetheless eye catching Geo 14" lampshade at £69.

Will my love affair with geometrics ever end? Which trend is currently giving you goosebumps?


Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Brit Decor: Palette / New F&B 2013 Colours

This week sees the launch of some inspirational new additions to Farrow & Ball's paint collection, so imagine my excitement last week when I was invited along to their Bath Walcot Street store to preview the collection...

I first began using F&B paints when I moved into my cottage three years ago. I wanted to treat the old interior walls with the respect I felt they deserved and considering the deep heritage of this brand, I considered F&B to be the right 'fit' for me and my home. I love the branding, the colour palette (even more so now) and their use of traditional production methods. 

In total there are 9 new shades which compliment the existing colour sets and provide some striking accents too. I was pleasantly surprised to see the addition of several brighter & bolder colours such as the vivid St Giles Blue and the burst of light that is Yellowcake - these immediately caught my eye as I eagerly scanned through the new 2013 colour chart.

I instantly fell in love with the depth and drama of Mole's Breath, which sits at the darker end of the neutrals palette. I predict that the strong neutral Purbeck Stone (resembling the stone found on the Isle of Purbeck) will be a big hit for 2013/4. Tip: Compliment this with Dimpse for a great partnering of colours!

This launch is a pretty big deal for F&B fans as new colour launches are not a regular occurrence with this brand. I guess it's more about quality than quantity here but a big thumbs-up from Brit Decor!

Which is your favourite F&B colour?

Monday, 9 September 2013

Brit Decor: Simple Sunday

Last week was all about getting back into the swing of things after an amazing two week break. However, before even setting foot into my office, I had anticipated a bumpy return due to a number of factors outside of my control but that's life isn't it? Although these problems did materialise, I remained resolute not to forget my holiday romance with Italy and my new official status: 'Relaxed'. 

Therefore, each morning I successfully prized myself away from the desk to indulge in some cafe culture and chatter with colleagues. It was incredibly liberating to simply tell myself that for a brief pause the emails would wait and the phone could ring - the world was not going to end just because I was taking a break!

Now I remain determined to focus less on the complicated and more on the uncomplicated things in life. Simplicity was key at the weekend and I selected a handful of light chores, took plenty of breaks and made a shift down in gear. 

It actually felt really exhilarating chopping up logs ready for winter and taking time to step back and admire the different warm textures of the woodgrain and barks. Equally satisfying was deadheading the Hydrangeas and watching insects scurry away from the petals including a pretty little striped snail (photographed below). 

I also took great pleasure in planting up a seedling Basil plant which is now sitting in the kitchen window ready for the yummy Italian meals I plan to cook. And of course there was the all important breaks, my favourite being late morning Nutella on toast with a mug of Earl Grey...bliss!

This way it's much simpler and, ultimately, I have more energy to devote to being creative, happier, and just being me. #Complexity is no longer trending in my world. What about about you?

Friday, 6 September 2013

Brit Decor: Surprise Delivery!

Imagine my surprise and excitement this week when my neighbour called out to let me know that she had taken delivery of a parcel which was addressed to me! I knew that I hadn't ordered any treats for the home (I have been good recently) so my mind began working overtime as I tried to guess what on earth it could be...?

After a frenzied opening of the outer packaging, to my delight, inside I discovered a beautifully wrapped cushion made by The Cantin' Patch, who I recently featured on Brit Decor in a profile special. 

I was so touched by this gesture of thanks and equally thrilled to have my very own piece of the very talented Jon Sanderson's work in my home. I love the bold vintage style of the Alexander Henry 'Cowgirls' fabric and I really haven't stopped talking about it since so I had to share my excitement with you! 

Thanks for making my day and for adding a unique piece of British upholstery to my home Jon! 

Have you recently received a nice surprise through the post? 

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Brit Decor: Venetian Palette

During my recent trip to Venice there were so many incredible sights that I wanted to share and I am still drawing inspiration from these now! 

As I mentioned in my August 'Brit Abroad' post there is definitely a romantic beauty in the decay of architecture so I couldn't resist snapping this striking arched Venetian doorway for today's palette. I love how the rising tides have eroded the paint over time to reveal a rich palette of colour and texture down to the raw wood. There is also something mysterious about these doors with no numbering or name plate...what lies behind them?

This scene has also inspired me to search for corresponding interior goodies on today's shopping list; The dramatic architecture of Young and Battaglia's wrought iron paperwork set against the vibrancy of the teal cushion from Clippings and I definitely need the geometric patterned Wino Tatu notebook!

I hope you enjoy!

1 Horseshoe Arch in Teal cushion £45 Clippings 2 Concrete 'big' pendant £140 Clippings
3 Black wrought iron wallpaper £70 Rockett St George
4 Pewter paint £32 2.5L 5 Oval Room Blue £32 Farrow & Ball, both from Designer Paint
Kartell FI/Y Colour pendant light by Ferruccio Laviani £159 Heals 7 Savine Indigo Rug £850 Designers Guild 8 After Lowry tiles £8 each, Clippings 9 Wino Tatu notebook £10.27 Clippings

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Brit Decor: Inspired Find

Do you ever have those 'must-have' moments when you see a product and fall in love with it immediately? This is exactly what happened when I discovered the Rootytoot online store with its bright and quirky limited edition children's prints. 

The brand is the clever creation of London-based illustrator, Nathan Reed, who also illustrates children's books for the likes of Penguin, Harper Collins and Macmillan. As well as online via the website, Rootytoot prints can also be found in over 60 shops throughout the UK including the prestigious department store, Fenwicks.

I'm not sure if it's just the child in me or my designer's eye which is most drawn to these eye-catching illustrations but either way, I think they would make a heart warming addition to any interior (young or old!).

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Brit Decor: Autumn nest

September is upon us and for me it's all about transition and change as we move from one Season to another. I don't particularly welcome this slow goodbye to Summer but let's face it, with colder weather and shorter nights just around the corner, the majority of us will be spending more time indoors so now is a great time to focus full attention on the home. 

I like to change elements of my cottage interior with the Seasons so during the next few weeks I'll be prepping for Autumn by adding and changing cushions, switching Summer throws for thicker Winter ones and maybe including a textured rug or two for extra coziness, comfort and warmth. It's also time for  to have the chimney swept and begin fetching some logs from the woodshed to fill my wonderful log basket from Graham & Green in anticipation of those cozy nights in front of the wood burner.

To use my favourite analogy for this time of year, I see it as padding the nest ready for Autumn/Winter.

I'm already inspired with launch of several AW13 collections including 1 The John Lewis Odyssey range of home ware featuring innovative materials, contrasting textures and natural patterns in soft graduated colours. 2 Is the exciting and vibrant range of gorgeous wool throws and cushions from Seven Gauge Studios, which are a must for brightening up those dark nights! 3 I also really like this colourful selection of throws from Designers Guild which are great for adding to a favourite armchair or layering up a bed. 4 The colour blue is a long time personal favourite of mine so you can imagine my delight when I saw this AW13 bedroom setting from Habitat - it looks fresh and vibrant but equally is deeply layered with plenty of cushions and throws for added warmth and insulation.

So what will you be doing to pad your nest this Autumn?

Monday, 2 September 2013

Brit Decor: Weekend Remedy

Did you have a great weekend? On Saturday I was beginning to get that  'back to school' feeling with my imminent return to work (today) following two wonderfully relaxing weeks off, including my amazing trip to Venice. 

Therefore, I decided that my mood needed to be remedied so after hastily making a couple of phone calls to friends, we found ourselves walking the sunny streets of Bath amongst the shoppers, tourists and buskers.

Our choice of lunchtime destination was the newly refurbished Porter which is decorated in a soothing palette of soft pastels and neutrals with an interesting mix of raw materials like the stunning rough texture of the natural wood wall panelling and the chiseled Bath stone wall in the Clayton's Kitchen area. This contrasted with the slightly more refined classic interiors of the upstairs bar/lounge and library area - the beautiful wooden armchairs with decorative cushions particularly caught my eye.

Lunch was almost the perfect tonic but there was still just something missing...
and of course it was desert so what better way to remember my recent holiday than to take a stroll to Yammo, the retro-style Neopolitan diner for some gelato. I opted for three scoops; Vanilla, Black Cherry Kirsch and Peaches & Cream and boy was it good! My weekend remedy was completed.

Bring on the week ahead!

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