Saturday, 30 April 2016

Dining tables

We had the strangest weather this week, hail, rain and then sunny blue skies, more rain and more cloud.  Incredibly weird weather for this time of year I remember back in 2008 on 6th April  ( which just happens to be hubby’s birthday that’s how I remember) we had snow. By midday looking out to sea from Still and West, it had all but melted and the sun was shining with bright blue skies! Anyway talking of mealtimes …

It’s no secret that I love vintage and antique pieces of furniture. As much as I love contemporary pieces, when it comes to larger pieces of furniture I always resort to vintage or antique. For me dining room tables are both personal and sentimental pieces of furniture. They matter. Memories are made around a table, joy and heartache as well as huge life changing decisions are often made around a table.

When we moved to the UK, I was on the hunt for another table more suitable for the smaller space so I browsed eBay to find my table. I knew what I was looking for and when I found it up in Kent I was thrilled, unfortunately hubby didn’t share my sentiments. He didn’t think the trek to Kent was worth the price of the table.  A few weeks later over one weekend we bought two tables, both of which were returned within a day of purchase because I knew in my heart they didn’t have the character I was looking for. My advice is don’t settle for less but persevere until you find exactly what you’re looking for – that goes for all things in life I guess!

A trip to Ardingly Antiques fair a couple of weeks later and I found my table as I walked through the covered sheds to the open stalls. There he was in all his battered oak glory; solid, dependable, handsome but it a rugged sort of way, with lovely turned legs. I touched him, inspected him, got right up underneath him and gazed lovingly at his maker’s signature dated 1932……this was my table!

Apparently my table came out of an old pub. I can just imagine these working men and women sitting in a smoke filled pub, ruminating on their troubles and the threat of war as well as celebrating happier occasions. What I love about my table is the patina of years of wear and tear. But that’s not for everyone. I like to have contrast in my interiors, so a slightly rustic beaten up table teamed with sleek Philippe Starke Ghost chairs and a few odd wooden ones is a match made in heaven - I don’t want a table I have to be too precious about. Your choice of dining table will depend on a lot of things, how you live, if you like a formal or a more casual feel, whether you entertain a lot or not at all, even children and pets, they all play a role.

If you are looking for a table with character, then a visit to a few antique fairs is a good place to start. You’ll find plenty of tables from the more highly polished and refined to those like mine with a few knocks and dings of life etched on it.  Take a day trip and visit a few towns that are known for their antique stores like Petworth.  You can also look on eBay and even ask your local antique store to look out for a table for you.

A round up of a few tables I found online: slightly rustic, formal, french country, mid-century and industrial style.


or you might be looking for a table worthy of a banquet and fit for a king, in which case you might like this. 

Have a great week!

Thursday, 14 April 2016

In the bedroom

Hearing the bird chirping in the morning just makes me smile. The daffodils have all but gone now but a few of my tulips are starting to bud and I'm ready to plant my seeds I received in the post from Sarah Raven.  But today I'm not talking gardens, but bedrooms, that place we all go to when we're done for the day.

Apart from the obvious elements which every bedroom needs, there’s the desire for it to look either glamorous or quirky and any other number of pleasing adjectives. It makes perfect sense that we spend money on a room that we get to sleep in every night. Sometimes we spend so much money making our other living spaces look good that we neglect the one room in the house that deserves it the most!

A few clues that your bedroom needs updating:

  • You last painted the room when you moved in 20 years ago and you haven’t changed any of the furniture in the last 10 years.
  • You’re still using the same duvet covers you bought 10 years ago.
  • The curtain fabric is threadbare and perishing from the sun but you don’t want to replace them because the fabric is no longer in stock/ you've got vertical blinds.
  • The cushion covers you bought to go with the duvet cover are worn and faded and the inners have gone all flat and sad looking (By the way, down/feather cushion inners never have this problem).
  • Everything is the same colour, the pillows, the duvet, the curtains, the lampshades and the cushions on the bed.

If you've answered even one of them, it’s time for an update.

You can change a room from looking dead boring to boutique hotel inspired by changing the accessories and bed linen and installing some jaw dropping wallpaper or art.


Think about how you want to change the room, what kind of atmosphere you want the room to have and work from there. If you’re into a vintage cottage look then a patchwork quilt on your bed might be the way to go, but don’t go pairing that with modern geometric wallpaper because the contrast between the two different looks will be jarring and just plain messy. Hanging wonderful wallpaper alone won’t change the room if you've neglected to think about how the existing bed linen, cushions and throws will suit it.


Colours evoke different emotions in each of us. Painting the walls a different colour can lighten and brighten a dull room. Naturally dark bedrooms look fabulous painted in inky muted colours and create a cocooning intimate feel if you are brave enough to wander beyond the light paint colours. Dark is not for everyone so I suggest painting the back of a long strip of spare wallpaper in the colour you have chosen and sticking it up on the wall for a few days so you get an idea of how it will look and more importantly how you it makes you feel.


Headboards frame your bed and since it is the biggest piece of furniture in the room is an obvious focal point. If you don’t like the colour of your headboard, have a cover made. Hang a rug or a stunning piece of fabric over the bed if you don’t have a headboard.  


Consider changing out the lampshades/bases. I love big statement lamps but we all have different taste. Changing the lamp bases for larger bases with more texture will also add interest to the room.

Bed linen:

This is my favourite part of decorating a bedroom. This is where you can be bold and really inject some colour. Bed linen gets washed often which means it doesn't last for years and years. It needs replacing. My mother taught me to have at least 3 full sets of bed linen including pillowcases; one on the bed, one in the wash and another in the linen cupboard but I can’t say no to pretty bedding so I have way more than that, but 3 is a good number to start with. Freshen up your linen cupboard by investing in good quality bed linen. If you want a more casual unstructured look then linen has that natural crease which will give the entire room a chilled out vibe. I was always a white only bedlinen kind of girl which I've stuck to for the last 20 years, but lately I've been venturing into colour and pattern, interesting flat sheets edged with embroidery and even coloured fitted sheets. Layering coloured and patterned pillow cases will also create an interesting focal point on the bed. Here I'm showing off my new bed linen from Zara Home UK, I've mixed up all the different blues and patterns and I love how it looks.

Mirrors reflect light, bounce it around the room, create interesting shadows and can look fabulous hung or propped behind table lamps. If you have a carpet that’s a bit boring or looking a bit shabby but you don’t want to replace it, bring in a textured rug to liven it all up.


Cushions and throws add the final touches to a bed, but cushions are like Marmite, you either love lots of cushions or you don’t. I happen to love them. Plants add another dimension to the bedroom. they add a little greenery to the room and let’s not forget the power of art on the walls. 

I love the pillows on this bed as well as throw on the headboard, but for some reason the round mirrors and the lamps clash for me, they need to be either rectangular in portrait style or to be hung up a little higher.

So there you have a few ideas to bring a little beauty into your bedroom and make it a space you actually want to spend time in.

Until next time!

Monday, 4 April 2016

Burano Lace

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that in March we visited Venice and one of the most interesting places was the lace making island of Burano. I decided to do a separate post on this exquisite lace making industry because it’s such a rare art form these days and one that the residents and lace makers of Burano are trying to keep alive/revive with lace making workshops held on the island. The island has so many stores selling lace amongst other things, and most are authentic but like most things these days, you have to watch out for the imposter posing as true Burano lace. It’s hard to know which shops are selling authentic Burano lace and which pieces are made in a foreign country.  One clue is the stores are not run by Venetians (this is the kind of information you gain from living with locals instead staying in a hotel -insider info is always good to know).

Burano lace dates back to the 1500s. Sadly throughout the centuries it declined but was revived again in the 1900s by Cencia Scarpariola, a well-known lace maker who initiated the revival of this ancient craft. In 1978 the public administration of Venice combined forces with theAndriana Marcello Foundation to revive and investigate Burano Lace restoring the old building where the original lace makers met to work the lace and thus formed the beginning of the Burano Lace Museum.

I found myself walking into the prettiest store on the main avenue called Emilia, drawn in by the beautiful bed display of Aston Martin bedding, which with a name like that the bedding has to be more than fabulous!  I found myself talking to the owner (via an interpreter in the form of a sales assistant); an exquisite looking lady of a certain age; (why is it that Italian/Venetian women are so elegant?)  The shop itself was pure refined luxury and the lace on the tablecloths and edging of towels is all handmade, a real labour of love.

Four-generations of lace making has made this store one of the most sought after with one of the finest collections of handmade Burano lace on the Island.  I was more in a shopping mood than a photo taking one.  I viewed a really beautiful handmade lace tablecloth for Euro2500 which took around a year to make and certainly worthy of the price if your pockets are deep enough. I did ask the owner if I could take a few pictures and in particular a few of the elegant lady making the lace. It was awe-inspiring to say the least and everywhere you looked, were beautiful towels with lace edging, tablecloths and exquisite bedlinen. Unfortunately, I didn't take photos of a vintage handmade wedding gown which was housed in a glass case for all to admire and swoon over.

I didn't come away empty handed, I bought a beautiful handmade lace tablecloth with matching napkins worthy of a banquet.  In fact I found being in this lace shop quite addictive, I could have bought so many items and completely bust the bank as these tablecloths and bedlinen are not cheap and are more trousseau worthy than your usual linen cupboard finds. 

I hope you enjoyed my little excursion into the lace making industry.
Take care