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!

Thursday, 29 October 2015


There’s no denying autumn is here. The colours in nature are just sublime; different shades of orange, russet, plum, yellows and green grace the trees and bushes, a final flourish of colour before the leaves fall and winter sets in. Autumn also just happens to be my most favourite of seasons. The slightly damp misty mornings, the cooler crisper evenings walking along leaf covered pavements. Autumn colours are a favourite of mine all year round. When I look at the colours I like to decorate with, especially in my lounge, I see autumn. Somehow I have always gravitated towards those rich warmer colours as opposed to crisp cooler whites and pastels.

This time of year we all want to get a little bit cosier, light fires, put out more throws for snuggling and cuddling under and stock up with hundreds of tea light candles for those long evenings with flickering candlelight. Even if you have a monochrome palette of mainly whites with hints of grey and black, you’ll want to layer up on the textiles and cushions, bring in more sheep skins, mohair blankets and soft wool.

My glass coffee table with my Turkish rug underneath which I've had for about 20 years, still an absolute favourite of mine, the design is really different and it just adds tons of character to my lounge.

I've seen a few things on the high street I really like to spice up your living space, particularly cushions in warm coppers and beautiful greens. Pineapples are still very much on trend as well as warm metals like brass and copper. Soft greys and neutrals are still a big hit with those who don’t like too much colour.  And how cute is that wire bird? 


Wishing you a weekend of cosiness!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Bohemian Rhapsody

I'm a bohemian. It’s official. I'm talking about the style test in Emily Henderson’s fabulous book STYLED. I've taken the test FIVE times in 4 days and each time I come out the same, even though I tried to cheat tweak the quiz by changing my answers on some of the questions!  Okay, so I'm a 60s baby, who in the 80s with long blond hair, (read highlights) and a deep suntan, worn faded floral jeans, bracelets around the ankles, had a large bright patterned rug up on the wall instead of a headboard, and burned incense until it gave me a headache, but I thought I was all grown up now. It seems not.

Curiosity never killed anyone, so I delved a little deeper into Bohemianism and here’s what Wiki had to say:

 Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic, or literary pursuits. In this context, Bohemians may be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds.
This use of the word bohemian first appeared in the English language in the nineteenth century to describe the non-traditional lifestyles of marginalized and impoverished artistswritersjournalistsmusicians, and actors in major European cities.[1] Bohemians were associated with unorthodox or anti-establishment political or social viewpoints, which often were expressed through free lovefrugality, and—in some cases—voluntary poverty. A more economically privileged, even aristocratic or wealthy, bohemian circle is sometimes referred to as haute bohème[2] ("high bohemians").[3]

Not sure where I fit in amongst the above, suffice to say that my husband would agree I am a little odd and unconventional and I’m quite okay with that. (Someone needs to swim upstream!)

The Pre-Raphaelites were the first bohemians, who were described in 1862 in the Westminster Review as ‘simply an artist or litterateur who consciously or unconsciously secedes from conventionality in life and in art’. Dante Gabriel Rossetti was the most prominent bohemian of that day with his deviations from normal standards and unconventional way of life.  Bohemian style was also given to a certain style of clothing, Jane Morris Rossetti’s muse wore unrestricted flowing dresses shunning corsets and hoops, she was quite the rebel and of course much later, The Bloomsbury set lived an outlandishly unconventional lifestyle, which perhaps accidentally spilled over into their furnishing style, painting walls and ceilings as if they were one huge canvas, making pottery, sewing needlepoint cushions. It was all to do with handmade, home made items, items with real integrity. It was more about how they created than who was coupling with who. It was a merging of like-minded souls who enjoyed creating beautiful art together.

I believe that our unique style is determined by so many things, who were are now, where we've been, who we meet along the way, our roots, family history and modern day influences and most importantly the people we live with now.

According to Emily we are all a mix of a few styles, and I totally agree.  I think my style has changed over the years, no more rugs on the wall, but those elements like texture, hand crafted items, and pattern have stayed with me alongside with having so many different hobbies, which once mastered, I swiftly move on to the next one, ever so determined that this one will be the last one!  And I have a real love for wood, it’s so tactile.  My father could make just about anything out of wood and he would always point out what a certain piece of furniture or accessory was made from, so I guess I fostered an early appreciation for things made of wood or indeed anything that was hand crafted.

I’d like to think my style has become a little more sophisticated (she laughs!) still very eclectic and less hippy beach bum and I don’t want the quiz to pigeonhole me into one tiny box called bohemian, start wearing flowing kaftans or influence what I should be buying, so like Emily suggests in the book, I decided to name my own personal style, and in honour of the GBBO (because I like cake!) it would read like this: rich bohemian sponge layer cake with creamy rustic icing mixed with a few tablespoons of modern glam for added zing, and finally a scant sprinkling of traditional on the top!

But enough of cake, here are a few of my kind of bohemian interiors from my Pinterest board. 


Have you read the book, taken the test? What kind of style do you gravitate towards?
Do share!


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!