Friday 18 December 2015

Midwinter Palette

I thought it would be nice to end the week on a personal note by sharing a spontaneous moment of creativity with you. Lately I seem to have reverted to a 'hunter-gatherer' role - foraging for natural materials to decorate our home for the festive season, with my Christmas wreaths, for example. So I decided to throw together this rustic midwinter mood board and daydream about the holidays...

I have always loved the process of creating mood boards and find it a very therapeutic one, thinking about materials, colours & texture, and their relationships. Here I have opted for some warming blonde tones, using wood as the dominant material. I have further accentuated this Scandi-isnpired warmth by incorporating gold and copper accessories.

There are, of course, some personal touches included too, like my spiced apple tea - a must-have Winter drink for me, and my copy of Elle Decoration for some essential reading when I 'down tools' for Christmas. The pastel tones  of the olive and Rosemary sprigs are some of my favourites from the garden, not least because they are true troopers - never shying away from Winter and providing all year round greenery and colour.

I should mention the semi-glazed terracotta jug, which once belonged to my awesome grandparents and yet it looks totally 'current' - I love working old finds into new compositions! Although I am a huge fan of candles all year round, it is during the darkest winter nights when I most treasure their ambience. With the soothing flicker (and scents) of their flames, candles create the perfect backdrop for a cosy candlelight supper, don't you think?

Happy Christmas folks,

 All images / Mike Ahern

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Letterbox Love - My monthly treat from CardNest!

I am increasingly growing accustomed to the notion of rewarding myself each month with a little treat, or two, depending on how hard I've worked. The mere notion of having a gift selected for me and delivered directly to my doorstep every month is the perfect antidote to a heavy workload. (I also get to avoid the manic Christmas shopping scene - keeping hold of my sanity, for now at least). 

I recently discovered Bristol-based CardNest via social media and was immediately taken with their range of eye-catching, unique designs. The concept is so simple it's easy to describe in a 'nutshell' - the team scours the globe for talented card designers and then subscribers receive three exclusive greetings cards each month. That's it! 

If like me you have a serious stationery crush, this is an awesome way of indulging and at the same time building up a gorgeous collection of cards for all occasions. In fact, some of the designs are so good I may well frame them for my office wall!

I hope you'll hop over to meet the folks at CardNest to say 'Hi'

All Images / Mike Ahern

Friday 11 December 2015

Brit Decor: Makes/ DIY Christmas Wreaths

True to my busy workload and hectic life, I've been struggling to find a creative moment to indulge in some festive 'making' but thankfully found the time to make these DIY wreaths. There's a hint of Winter in there with the pine cones but actually, these wouldn't look out of place as summer-themed decorations and could easily be adapted to add Summery foliage such as Lavender.

My starting point in terms of inspiration was actually this 'fun hook' from one of my favourite stationers (and there are many), Present & Correct. At just £6.50, I recently purchased this in the knowledge that it was bound to prove useful for a creative project, or two! The majority of the materials for my DIY wreaths were sourced for free from our cottage garden, with Olive leaves and Rosemary providing the greenery. I also found some black raffia string that I'd bought from Paperchase and various ribbons that I keep for projects just like this.

Using some green gardening wire, I attached the greenery and pine cone to the fun hook and then added the ribbons and decorative tag. This 'make' was not only incredibly easy to accomplish, it was also super-quick - and having to time to spare, particularly in the run-up to Christmas, is a huge bonus!

Happy weekend,

All images / Mike Ahern

Sunday 6 December 2015

Bringing Christmas Home with Inka London

I'm never quite sure if it's just me displaying mild bah-humbug symptoms, or if anyone else also struggles to find inspiration when shopping for Christmas gifts? Needless to say I have been stumped on what to buy a number of loved ones this year, or at least - I had been until I stumbled across Inka London. I was so impressed with the Tranquil for Him gift box I ordered, that I just had to share it with you - naturally!

Since attending last month's first ever Function + Form meeting, I am sensing a growing movement within the UK and beyond towards simplicity & creativity - and that's exactly what you get from Inka London. They are a creative collective inspired by pure, simple aesthetics, working with likeminded designers and makers to deliver a sublime collection of goodies for people like you and me.

Inka London's online store comprises of a general shop area where you can pick up stunning individual objects of desire, including homewares and jewellery. And then there's the gifting section - brimming with beautiful gift boxes, like this one, for him, for her, coffee lovers, and themed gifts such as Detox boxes, feel at home boxes, and even an Eclipse box - Such an utterly charming collection of gifts for everyone.

So what did I get in my Tranquil box?

- A frosted tumbler by AR Ceramics
- Set of three pocket notebooks from Calepino
- Two pencils from Calepino
- Eucalyptus leaf candle from Honest Skincare
- Costa Del Azahar soap from Ambre Botanicals
- Pembrokeshire beech wood matchbox
- Inka London original print

For more gifting ideas please visit

All Images / Mike Ahern
                                            For more gifting ideas please visit

Friday 4 December 2015

Brit Decor: Styling the Seasons/ December

I feel as though I might be arriving a wee bit late to the party, but following a massively inspiring chat with the wonderful Sarah-Lou from interiors and lifestyle blog, Lapin Blu, I recently became acquainted with the blog series, Styling the Seasons.

The creative brainchild of Charlotte from Lots and Lots, and Katy from Apartment Apothecary - Styling the Seasons encourages us to ponder over the change of seasons and to create our own translation of these by styling a surface in our homes.

I decided to kick-off my personal interpretation of the month of December with a monochrome-inspired collection of 'things' that either represent Winter, or are simply special to me. Styled on our white mantelpiece which sits above the wood burner, I wanted to replicate the shape of the cute little black Christmas tree by placing this alongside three cone-shaped candles, as it's so hard not to think of this as the festive season.

For me Christmas is also a time of reflection and for looking back over cherished memories - hence my holiday print of Venice and my slightly sad looking African Violet from our trip to Kew. My love of graphics is always evident in our home, whether it's in the form of a photo or a simple monochromatic greetings card like this 'Let it snow' illustration.

I put my mono-stripe enamelware mug to good use as a candle-holder during this shoot, and because I frequently associate each season with a particular scent, I opted for a Mulled wine candle here for maximum sensory delight. The heartwarming glow of candlelight and the crackle of a freshly lit fire are key to my perfect December, not least because these are so good at warding of the dark days and nights. Therefore, it seems only fitting that this month should be styled around the mantel - it's definitely THE place to be this month in our home!

I hope that you have enjoyed my stylistic interpretation of December.


All images / Mike Ahern

Sunday 29 November 2015

Brit Decor: Copper/ Subtle Accents Makeover

Gold with its traditional connotations of being the material of champions, has taken second place in my design palette this year. Albeit a very closely run race, I've most definitely been coveting copper as my favourite and winning metallic of 2015.

No surprise then that I have recently been scouring the shops for a copper pendant light for our living room at the cottage, until eventually I found this striking beaten copper shade from online retailer, Ocado - to my surprise! 

I love the fiery warm tones emitted by copper, which like gold, takes on a luxurious reflective light-emitting quality during these dark Winter evenings here in the UK, particularly magical when placed next to dancing candlelight.

I decided to draft in some copper-toned accents to compliment our new pendant and to help usher in some warmth. I began by printing off a photo I took of the dashingly rich terracotta-coloured Kew Palace, to introduce a graphic and more personal element. I then added some more select warm and earthy tones, including my favourite clay vase (see 'below'), and as runner-up, gold got a look-in too with a tiny candle holder and the luxe-detailing on my Gatsby linen cushion.

So with just a few simple styling elements I was able to create a mini-copper makeover - don't you just love interior styling?

All Images / Mike Ahern

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Brit Decor: Retail Therapy/ A flying visit to HAY

You know when it's been one of those busy weeks  - all about work and very little play? Well I'm having one of those weeks and it's only Wednesday! In these extreme circumstances there's only one serious contender as an antidote to this relentless work ethic - yep you've guessed it - retail therapy.

One of the many benefits of living near Bath is that it is now home to the UK's first ever HAY store. In fact, there's been a recent influx of interiors stores opening their doors on this awesome city, with India Jane, Brissi and now OKA just a stones throw from HAY. Perusing this haven of Danish cool really is one of my favourite things to do, not least because I can pretend that it's 'research', when strictly speaking, it's not! 

Anyway, I merely wanted to share with you my little pick-me-up purchase - a waffle cotton guest towel - brand new to HAY. Being the minimalist that I am, I opted for this smokey grey colour, but this uber-soft towel also comes in blue and light grey. And what's not to like about the monochrome tote shopping bag!?  So now I am scanning the 2016 brochure for the next time I'm in need of some retail therapy...

Have you indulged in some interiors-related retail therapy recently? Do share!

Images / Mike Ahern

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Brit Decor: Makes/ A #Marbleicious Desk Tidy

So marble has definitely rocked my world in 2015, but in the run-up to the season of festive frivolity and the giving of gifts, this boy finds himself watching the purse strings. Therefore, justifying an indulgent purchase of a real marble accessory would stretch even my creative thinking right now.

However, not one to concede defeat at the hands of boring budgets, I decided to play a creative hand at making my very own #Marbleicious desktop tidy. The costs were truly minimal, in part because I alway keep a handy supply of card in my crafting box at home, but even so, all of the materials used are inexpensive. 

A quick click of the mouse and my key design component had arrived from Amazon - some marble-effect self-adhesive paper. I used an old shoe box lid and some strips of card folded in half, as dividers, secured with double-sided sticky tape. Everything was then covered in the marble-effect paper and for that extra-luxe appeal, I added a square of metallic gold card.

This was great fun to make and I can now enjoy the marble-look which now adorns my desktop, and all at a fraction of the cost of real marble - result!


Images / copyright Mike Ahern

Friday 30 October 2015

Brit Decor: Bakes/ Italian Apple Pie

I'll make no false claims about this bake being a ground-breaking or brand-spanking new creation, because it simply isn't. But what I am serving up today is unadulterated, warm your cockles, comfort food. 

This is one of my favourite bakes to whip up when the weather outside is looking dismal, the temperature has dropped to an uninviting chill, and I'm overwhelmed with the urge to indulge. For a Winter dessert, this easily enters the realms of heavenly puddings when served warm - or if you want to really throw restraint into the kitchen bin, add a spot of homemade vanilla custard!

Whatever you are doing this weekend, I hope there's a spot of indulgence in there...

250g plain flour
175g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter (softened)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
Pinch of salt
1tsp vanilla extract
3 apples
100ml milk
3tsp ground cinnamon
1tbs brown sugar

To make:
Preheat the oven to 1800c and grease a 23cm baking tin before lining. Place the sugar, eggs, butter, flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla extract and begin mixing together, adding the milk slowly until a smooth batter has formed.

Peel, core and roughly chop one of the apples before adding to the mixture and scooping into the baking tin. Place to one side.

Core the two remaining apples but do not peel (the skin makes for a crispy addition to the topping). Divide up the apples by slicing into thin wedges. Place these on top of the cake batter before sprinkling with the brown sugar and cinnamon.

Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes but keep an eye on the apple segments in case they begin to catch towards the end of the bake.

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