Friday, 28 February 2014

Brit Decor: Bakes / Butter Biscuit Hearts







Butter Biscuit Hearts
Whist photographing these melt-in-the-mouth cuties, it did cross my mind that perhaps this recipe would have been better suited to Valentines Day, but then again, every day should be full of love, right? So here's my own contribution to spreading the love...

Ingredients
250g plain flour
100g icing sugar
200g butter (cubed)
2 eggs
A pinch of salt
8tbsp jam (your choice)

Begin by preheating your oven to 170oc, then place the flour, icing sugar, butter and salt into a bowl. Rub these ingredients together to make breadcrumbs (a great finger workout!).

Add the egg yolks to your breadcrumbs and mix together to create a dough. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to a thickness of approximately 0.5cm. Now apply the heart-shaped cutter.

Place half of the heart shapes onto a baking tray and cut-out 2cm holes in the centre of the remaining hearts. Now add these to the baking tray and place the entire batch in the oven for just 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Use a teaspoon to measure a small drop of jam (I prefer to use a cheaper own brand as it has the consistency of puree) and drop this onto each whole biscuit. Then gently place the other hearts, with the holes in the middle, on top. Aren't they cute!?

To finish, lightly dust with icing sugar.


Images / Mike Ahern

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Brit Decor: Entrance

Image / Coach House Home


Hallways can potentially be one of the darkest areas in our homes, which can present a challenge because we all want to make a good first impression to our guests, don't we? This is the reason why I have chosen today's image, it works on so many levels and we can use it as a template on how to get it right by following some simple design rules. Together, let's make an entrance!

In terms of colour choice, white is at the top of the list for maximising light levels in any room becuase it reflects the available light and creates the illusion of a larger more open space. If you are worried about brilliant whites looking too bright, you could go a shade or too darker with something like Farrow & Ball's Wimborne White, which will add a very subtle warm tone. Look how the white walls, ceiling and stairs in our image opens up the space and bounces the available light in every direction.

Sticking with the theme of reflection and light, mirrors not only look great because there is a style to suit everyone, they also reflect light and create a sense of depth. Larger mirrors can even create the illusion of doubling the size of a room. To be on trend, opt for a rounded mirror in 2014.

Our choice of flooring is of uber-importance when it comes to hallways as this design element normally has to cope with heavy duty foot-fall. For those of us who step straight into our hallways from the outdoors, lighter carpets aren't always a wise choice. However, these smaller decorative floor tiles inject some welcome colour, pattern and interest to the scheme and will be fairly easy to clean. Smaller patterns such as this can make a floorspace look larger than it actually is (as opposed to larger patterns). Notice also how the symmetrical lines of the tile design draws the eye through the corridor and into the main living space. I also love how the potted plants connect with the green diamond pattern and help to pull the scheme together.

Hallways, like this example, tend to be on the narrow side - affording limited space for furniture. However, they generally require some storage for items like coats and shoes. The solution is to source some clever narrow storage like the vintage ironwork stand and slim wooden bench, above, which prove that practical can be stylish too!

Finally, lighting - the wall mounted up-lighters here will transform what would be a very dark ceiling due to the limited natural light. Again, as with the furniture scenario, wall lights are often a great way of adorning your walls without taking up too much precious space.


Monday, 24 February 2014

Brit Decor: Arm Chair

1
2
3
4
Images (from top) 1/ Zanders and Sons 2/ Design Sponge 3/ Ashe + Leandro
4/  Desire to Inspire 5/ Kavka Design


Arm yourself with a chair and relax (please excuse the pun!) but there really is something so gratifying about taking decisive action to grab some time-out and pause for a while in your favourite armchair, isn't there? I know this post will strike a chord with many of us busy folk so I hope you are sitting comfortably!

I spent hour-upon-hour lovingly restoring my Grandparent's old Ercol armchair at the weekend, lightly sanding, preparing and then oiling the beautiful elm wood framework. Not only is my precious chair  part of the key mid-twentieth Century look, it's also a tiny piece of refuge as well as a source of great comfort, somewhere to slouch, read a book, drink my favourite cup of tea, or to simply reflect. The vintage chair in image 1 (above) really capitalises on the 1950's look with a striking knitted cushion, and the handy side table for that all important book and cuppa. Use bold and beautiful fabrics to update older furniture pieces or adorn in sleepy neutrals for a softer, relaxed style.

The images above give a sense of just some of the ways in which you can create your very own little haven of tranquility depending on practical needs and stylistic preferences. I really love the classic look of the high-back armchair set against the backdrop of a library, and how this setting has been given a fresh contemporary style in image 2. The bright red upholstery asserts itself against the back drop of these striking industrial bookshelves and sleek freestanding reading light.

The sexy Eames chair and footstool in image 3 takes comfort to a new level - throwing a footstool into the mix is the ultimate luxury, right? What works really well with this setting is the addition of the neon stripe throw, which marries a vivid on-trend look to a classic design, and highlights the power of accessorising.

The cool and sophisticated styling in image 4 puts me in mind of a mini-gallery, and the swivel chair allows the lucky user to either turn and admire their artwork or face the large window and look out across the cityscape. Why not try this look yourself? Decide upon some of your favourite pieces of artwork, place these on a wall behind your armchair of choice and enjoy your very own exclusive gallery!

The fresh snow white interior in image 5, creates a Scandi-style look and floods the room with light, which works perfectly with the blonde wood frame of the Ercol sofa. To achieve this look, keep it very simple and let the light take centre stage.

Just in case you are currently searching for that perfect armchair, I have selected a few of my favourite picks below. Alternatively, why not opt for a longer-term project and buy a vintage piece and upcyle to your very own spec?

1 Heal's Dinky easy chair in Scion Lace fabric (this fabric is awesome!) 2 1950s Parker Knoll rocking chair, lovingly upholstered in British wool from the ever-so talented Hopper & Space. 3 Indigo dotted throw from French Connection Home; subtle and on-trend with this classic navy and white colour combo. 4 Jonah armchair from made.com in Dandelion yellow, for that ray of sunshine! 5 Kauniste Sokeri cushion from Zanders and Son. I'm loving the pastel pink and grey combo.
6 Leather appeal with this sling back chair from French Connection Home.





Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Brit Decor: Neon Detail




Images (from top) 1/ Decoist /2 Enter my Attic 


Small and concentrated works best...
Neon brights are back in the spotlight again for 2014 with a welcome shot of colour therapy for us all, but beware, use these powerhouse shades wisely for maximum impact without overpowering an entire room.

Small and concentrated detailing works best with this look such as the fluorescent yellow dipped stool above mixed with carefully selected accessories like the strikingly statuesque Applicata candlesticks (no.2) below. One of my fave new stores, Future and Found is currently working this look with some great neon accessories such as their fun pencils (no.1).

I love how the neon pink detailing of this Ferm Living cushion (no.3) contrasts with the stark worn monochrome pattern. Equally, the neon lightning bolt on today's second find from Ferm Living (no.4), sits perfectly against the muted grey. However, if you are a huge fan of the neon look, then you can always carry it around with you and spread the word with this uber-cool geometric iPhone case (no.5) from Etsy.

Whatever you are doing today, I hope it's a neon bright day!




Monday, 17 February 2014

Brit Decor: Jungle Look




Images (from top) 1/ Christian Lacroix /2 H&M /3 The Decorista /4 What it would buy
5/ Christian Lacroix 



Luscious deep greens should be in abundance...
I would describe the jungle look as a complex layering of pattern and colour, full of surprises and a hint of the exotic - wow that's a pretty big interiors punch to pull, right?! Christian Lacroix is totally rocking this look currently with his Belles Rives collection of fabrics (see images 1 & 5 above) with bold and exciting patterns fused with intense colouring. 

This multi-faceted style is actually very versatile and the layering can be as complex or as simple as you choose it to be. Luscious deep greens should be in abundance as should the presence of some impressive foliage, either in the form of rich textiles and wallpapers or an exotic house plant...or three. The really fun part comes with the need for vibrant splashes of colour, think exotic plumage and flowers and try to replicate these colours in small concentrated doses throughout your scheme. Finally, for true authenticity, the finishing touch should be a heady and exciting room scent to truly awaken the senses and create a sense of stepping into a new adventure!

Of course, I couldn't help myself and had to scout around for some accessories to accompany the jungle look, and I found some perfect matches like these Christian Lacroix jardin Exo'Chic in Caviar and Rainette cushions (no.1 from Amara). And for those obligatory flashes of colour, I immediately fell for these H&M candles (no.2) and Ikat monogram letter from Anthropologie (no.4). For me, almost no room is complete without a beautiful ceramic piece and so Habitat's Nelson ceramic candlestick absolutely fits the bill (no.3). To add to the mix of foliage prints, I love the vibrant green fern leaf table runner from H&M home (no.6), simple yet highly effective. For the room scent, I chose Diptyque's Figuier Green candle from Liberty (no.5), the smokey green colouring is perfect and the scent is awesome.








Friday, 14 February 2014

Brit Decor: Geo Pots




All images / Mike Ahern


A fully functional and stylish desk accessory
When I received a letter from our local electricity distributor warning of a possible power interruption for up to eight hours last weekend, I initially felt cold with fear...no internet, no wi-fi, no Brit Decor bake...what would I do!? However, once I calmed down and put things into perspective, I realised that having no electricity could be a good thing, and so I started thinking about a suitable alternative project for the blog...

My newly acquired copy of the Mini Eco craft book by the lovely Kate Lilley, immediately sprung to mind. My love of geo-inspired patterns and shapes (still trending heavily in 2014) drew me to Kate's striking geometric cardboard pots and I decided that I had to have one sitting on my desk, and with no electricity required, I knew this would make the perfect project.

I decided to deviate slightly from Kate's instructions to create my own unique designs using grey card rather than brown cardboard but I still wanted to use the neon papers. The resulting contrast between the steel grey card and the electric neon interiors look equally as striking. The only downside to my customisation was the thinness of the card, which meant that glueing the edges together was virtually impossible so I had to opt for clear tape on the inside of the pots instead.

Overall I was pretty darn pleased with my crafting project and the fact that I had a fully functional and stylish desk accessory at the end of it!

For more info and templates, grab yourself a copy of Mini Eco - well worth owning if you are looking for an abundance of easy to follow crafting-meets-style projects.

Hope you all have a great weekend!






Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Brit Decor: Watercolour


Images / 1 Casamance / 2 Designed for Life / 3 Bluebellgray

I have recently discovered what has become my new favourite app, Waterlogue, which is bringing new life to my pics and images. I love selecting images from my photo library and then watching them transform, step by step, into beautiful watercolours.

Of course, this form of painting is centuries old but free-form watercolour patterns in interior design is very current and a key trend for Spring 2014, and why not? The tonal range of these phenomenal designs create instant depth and sophistication.

What I really love about this exciting style is how it has ushered in a new wave of vibrant textiles and prints - add these to a plainer scheme for an instant makeover as these patterns will add all the colour you need and do all of the talking too! To accentuate the look further, pick out an accent colour and cleverly match accessories for full-effect, like image no.3 above from the masters of of the free-form style, Bluebellgray, with the fun table lamp and electric pink satchel helping to create a knock-out array of colour.




Monday, 10 February 2014

Brit Decor: Work this Style

Image / Design Hunter


It's such a sophisticated colour...
I am pleased to report that Grey is everywhere in 2014, a colour that is right at home here on Brit Decor. Why do I heart grey so much? It's such a sophisticated colour; it can be light or dark, warm or cold, and makes a great base colour for decorating schemes. This is also the colour of choice for many interior stylists this year and so I thought we should take a look at how to get the best out of grey and make it work in our homes.

Introduce oak or beech woods to your greys, like this stunning mid-twentieth century sideboard (no.3) and the simple frame (no.1). This will add instant warmth and texture and bring your scheme alive. Without the correct lighting, your greys will descend into shades of charcoal (which is fine if that's the look you are going for), if not, employ some bold lighting to lift the room. For this, white glossy pendants can look fab when set against a chalky grey, like no.2 above. 

Because greys tend to sit in neutral colour scheme territory, don't be afraid to add some splashes of bolder brights. Vivid reds and oranges can work brilliantly with grey so perhaps try creating some accent colouring such as the vintage-look ceramic vase (no.4) and cleverly link this with a wall print or vibrant textiles.

We know that Pantone's freesia yellow is also making headlines in 2014 and this is another fantastic choice to sit alongside a grey scheme, just look how fresh and uplifting the bright yellow arrangement of lilies (no.5) like a ray of sunshine!

I also had great fun pulling together some of these exciting new shopping picks, below; all spot on for creating the perfect on-trend grey palette. Starting with this elegant Concrete emulsion from the wonderful Mini Moderns (no.7) as the perfect foundation for today's palette. 

As the owner of two adorable cats, or I should say, being owned by two mischievous monsters, I instantly fell for Habitat's new Sushi cat print cushion (no.6), which works in incredibly well with the beautiful dipped-look earthenware cappuccino tumbler from Pedlars (no.10). 

For an element of understated elegance, I opted for this sand-coloured drop light pendant from Bo Concept (no.8), its slightly retro feel looks amazing in conjunction with made.com's Boundary sideboard and the subtle mix of grey against natural wood.





Friday, 7 February 2014

Brit Decor: Bakes / Moist Chocolate Cake






Moist Chocolate Cake

When deciding on a bake project, I tend to gravitate towards chocolate. It just has that feel-good taste that all treats should and as a baking ingredient it is the king of comfort foods. Unlike last week's pastry recipe, I was more limited for time this week so I needed to think up something which required minimal ingredients (all of which I already had in my kitchen cupboards) and minimal making time. This one certainly delivers on all of those areas!

This cake is surprisingly light and deliciously moist, even the next day, due to the use of olive oil as a substitute for milk. Aesthetically, this piece of chocolate heaven needs little dressing up and looks great laid out onto simple a white plate or cake stand. I chose to slice and serve after it had cooled (due to the photo shoot) but this cake would make a divine desert warm from the oven with some vanilla pod ice cream or custard.

Ingredients:
75g high quality cocoa powder
125ml boiling water
2 tsp vanilla extract
125g plain flour
1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
200g caster sugar
150ml olive oil
3 eggs
Icing sugar (to dust top)

1x 23cm cake tin

How to make:
Preheat the oven to 170oc / gas mark 3 and Grease the baking tin.

Sift the cocoa powder into a small jug and add the boiling water, along with the vanilla extract. Stir until you have a medium thick syrup.

In a bowl, combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and add to this the sugar, olive oil and eggs. Mix together until you have a smooth creamy texture. Then add the cocoa mixture, and again, mix until smooth.

Pour the chocolatey mixture into the baking tin and cook for approximately 35 minutes. Once cooled, lightly dust the surface of the cake with icing sugar to finish. Yes that really is all you need to do folks!


All images / Mike Ahern

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Brit Decor: Pin-it




Images / 1 Homedit / 2 Design Chaser / 3 PBteen / 4 Andru Loyd / 5 Victorius Livin /
6 Still Inspiration


One of my favourite things to do when I need to unwind is to spend time thumbing through the Pinterest app on my phone, pinning images onto my growing collection of boards. This is not just a great means of seeking out new ideas for interiors styling, it also enables me to categorise into colours, styles, and rooms; great for identifying trends too!

However, when I am in full creative flow on my phone or desktop computer, I sometimes find myself yearning for the days when I used to rip pages from my favourite interiors magazines and collate these clippings to create my very own mood boards. Whilst there are many online options for creating e-boards right now, like the brilliant Pinterest, sometimes going back-to-basics can be so much more satisfying, and therapeutic too. The beauty of pin boards is how they can be changed at an instant to reflect whichever mood or style suits you on a particular day.  

Why not create your own mood board using colours and images that really inspire you? Mood boards can actually speak volumes about your own creative style and are a hugely useful point of reference (especially for us bloggers!). You can also use boards to display your favourite mementos. Not only this, pin boards can look great too - Up-cycle, recycle, customise. My favourite board idea 'above' has to be the uber-cool cork boards with striking white diagonal stripes.

The point is, a successful board will always be one that reflects you best. So what's your style?

Brit Decor Pinterest boards.






Monday, 3 February 2014

Brit Decor: Colour Trend/ Twilight



Images / (from top) / 1 Riza Taylor / 2 Sulia / 3 Interiorholic



A sumptuous selection of rich textures and intense colours...
How about a trip to the dark side...? A new trend emerging for 2014 is the perfect antidote for bright whites and pale neutrals; the twilight palette serves up a sumptuous selection of rich textures and intense colours. But dark doesn't have to mean jet black, try incorporating deep blue navy or charcoals. Deep blues can also be luxurious like the decadent velvet chesterfield sofa from Debenhams (no.6 above). Compliment this with silky soft cushions such as (no.7) from Etsy.

Using a high gloss or eggshell paint will create a reflective finish and capture the light, bouncing it around the room. If you don't feel brave enough to go 'all-out' then pick out a single feature wall or a chimney breast and compliment with co-ordinating accent accessories and textiles. You can also shed some light onto this palette with lighter prints and artworks such as this beautiful seashell print (no.4) from Etsy. Throw some lighter hues into the mix to create flash points, like this Single turquoise stadium chair, £79 from Pedlars (no.1). Another tip for offsetting a twilight colour scheme is to add one or more white walls to bring an element of freshness to the room - the contrast between light and dark also creates a feature.

Darker shadowy colours can make a room look more cosy and inviting, wrapping the space around you like a comforting blanket. Try Graham & Brown's police box blue emulsion (no.2) for a sophisticated blue and match this with luxurious textiles such as this striking Gandia Blasco Palermo blue & black Kilim rug from Heals (no.3) or Abode's petrol blue knitted pouffe (no.5), with a strong emphasis on pattern and texture. Layering a darker scheme with multiple lighting can create a great evening feel, dim the lights for the perfect romantic ambience!



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