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UNSEEN SHOTS: Colourful Retro Home

December 13, 2010

I’m winging my way to Germany this afternoon for a few days sampling the delights (gluhwein) of Berlin’s Christmas markets, but before I go there’s just enough time to show you some unseen details from one of my favourite reader homes (you can see more of it in the January 2011 issue of Ideal Home)

I love a bit of wallpaper in a kitchen and a bold, unfussy pattern like this one from Orla Kiely is perfect, especially mixed with simple white gloss units.

Colourful Retro Home photographed by Holly Jolliffe and styled by Louise Rastall

Have a great week – isn’t it starting to feel lovely and Christmassy now? I’ll be back next week with a few piccies of the decorations I eventually decided on – hope you’ll like them!


BEHIND THE SCENES: a brush with fame!

November 25, 2010

So, can anyone guess who wins the title of Britain’s longest-serving  interiors celeb? Kirsty? Phil? Beeny? Nope. Now about to enter his 50th year gracing our tv screens, the winner is…

Yes, that’s me (on the left!) with none other than the world famous Dulux dog, currently a hairy fellow named Spud who I met at Dulux‘s latest launch on Tuesday! Cool or what!? As well as celebrating 50 years of their brand icon, they were introducing their new innovations for 2011 and their prediction for the key colour for spring/summer 2011, the ever so slightly scary Forest Falls. Although I’m not usually one for ultra-brights, there’s no denying that the colour looks great used like this.

I suppose that’s one way to make sure you’re wide awake when you sit down at your desk in the morning!

Working with a colour as vibrant as this seems a bit daunting, but the trick is to give as good as you get and team it with equally bold shades. This green reminds me of a visit to the wonderful La Boca area of Buenos Aires a few years ago where all the houses in the main street are painted in amazing daring shades – and it works!

Photographs: all Flikr

So go on, break all the rules!

IN DETAILS: Christmas flowers & foliage

November 17, 2010

To tree or not to tree, that is the question…

Being a real homes stylist means I get to spend a lot of time at florists choosing beautiful flowers and foliage to take along to my shoots and I love seeing what other stylists choose too. I’m still debating whether to go for a full-on real Christmas tree for my own house this year or see what I can do with cut foliage instead… I reckon that with some big vases and jars of eucalyptus and winterberry holly and some rustic garlands I’ll be able to get it looking nice and festive without having to vacuum a single needle! Here are some of the most inspiring ideas I’ve found while trying to come to a decision so thought I’d share…

Photographs Lucinda Symons, Styling Melanie Molesworth

These are two of my favourite detail shots from the Complete Guide to Christmas I love the idea of using fragrant garden herbs for Christmas decorating. I’m planning a little festive housewarming-come-Christmas soiree this year and will be stealing the idea of marking guest’s glasses with a few leaves from different varieties and I ordered one of these bird pictures within hours of Melanie unwrapping it to use on the shoot in case they sold out when the magazine went on sale!

Images: Winterberry holly, A Creative Mint; Evergreen branch , Me & Alice; British mistletoe, Waitrose

Sometimes the simplest arragements are the best and this little selection of ideas proves just that. I have a growing collection of vintage pharmacy jars, jam jars and other assorted bottles which I often prefer to a vase for flowers – partly because it’s a thrifty way to make them go further and also because I love the effect of grouping containers of different sizes and shapes together.

Whenever I go to a White Company press event I always wish I could claim squatters rights on their room sets and move in! This picture from their Christmas catalogue is no exception – I love the oh-so-simple touches of scented eucalyptus leaves with the crisp white tableware and glass decorations.

I’m not usually one for artificial flowers but I think these red and silver sprigs from Waitrose could actually work, possibly because they don’t look like they’re trying to be something they’re not. I especially like the silver Chinese lantern one second from the left – I think a bunch in my big French enamel pitcher could look really striking, possibly with a few fairy lights twisted in for good measure. Of course, this all depends on the ongoing saga that is my new open plan kitchen/living room actually being vaguely finished and clear of dust by the time December comes along!

UNSEEN SHOTS: pink and black Christmas table

November 12, 2010

Christmas in my house is usually a strictly silver, white and crystal affair but I wish I was brave enough to try something really bold and dramatic like this stunning home from the December issue of Ideal Home. Check out this gorgeously-graphic unseen shot of the dining room…

Pink and Black Christmas Home: Photographs Simon Whitmore, Styling Louise Rastall

I love how the stylist has picked out the shocking pink from the wallpaper and used it to set off the black table and chairs for a really glamourous feel. Proof that you don’t have to stick to traditional reds, golds, silvers and greens when decorating your table this Christmas!

If you want to shop for this look on the high street, House of Fraser’s Burlesque range is your place – these rose decorations are only £12 for four and could easily be used post-Christmas too. Try clipping one onto a ribbon and tying around a napkin for a summer barbeque or you could use them to decorate a headboard in a little girls’ bedroom. Are you brave enough to go for a Christmas scheme like this or do you prefer something more traditional?

IN PRAISE OF: the humble preserving jar

October 22, 2010

Have you visited the very lovely (and not to mention talented) Marie over at Wholelottalovely recently? She’s been singing the praises of the humble preserving jar, a subject that will have every stylist cooing! These little beauties are so much better when emptied of jam and used for crafting and decorating purposes. Which leads me seamlessly on to one of my favourite handmade gift ideas from the Complete Guide to Christmas, styled my me and photographed by Lucinda Symons.

Though I say it myself, I’d be very happy to receive one of these in my stocking for my sewing bits and bobs and it’s so easy to make. All you need it a preserving jar with a two-part lid (I used a Kilner screw-top jar from Jam Jar Shop), a circle of fabric a little bigger than the inside bit of the lid, a few circles of wadding and some glue. Layer up the wadding and fabric on top of the lid, fold around and glue underneath (cover with a circle of card to keep it nice and neat) and voila! Make it extra special by finishing it off with a tape measure bow, a little pair of sewing scissors and some pretty threads, some pearl buttons and pins. There are loads more lovely craft ideas in the Complete Guide so grab one if you can! Because it’s Friday, and because she’s brilliant, I’d love to show you a few of Marie’s favourite  ideas too. Jam jar fans, indulge yourselves…

To start us off, a few beautiful pink peonies from bluebirdluxe. As if I wasn’t missing summer enough! Next, an achingly lovely shot styled by Marie herself and shot by Craig Wall for the soon-to-be no more (sob!)  Notebook magazine.

The distressed limewashed wood, the wallpaper covered books, the white ceramic bird – I love everything about this shot so much I wish I could just jump right in! To finish off, some clever porcelain mason jars made by industrial designer Gretchen Hooker and some lovely ribbon-filled jars from Marie’s portfolio, shot by Max Attenborough.

How I would love a dedicated craft room with crisp white-painted shelves brimming with jars of coloured ribbons, buttons and swatches. One day, my friends, one day. In real life though, I must bid you farewell for a week as I’m off to the English Lake District to scale some fells and search out a few of those Herdwick sheep! Bon weekend!

BEHIND THE SCENES: Christmas lifestyle shoot

October 15, 2010

Remember back in August when I told you I was off to this gorgeous location house for Ideal Home’s Complete Guide to Christmas lifestyle shoot? Well, the magazine finally goes on sale today so I can finally show you what went on behind the scenes of these serene festive shots!

Above: Photographs Alun Callender, Styling Debbie Page

Our lovely models were arriving for day two of the shoot so we all started bright and early to decorate the house (Christmas trees at the ready!) so we could start shooting as soon as they arrived. Everything went really smoothly for the indoor shots (I’ll show you a few of those next week) then it was time for the fun part… THE SNOW!!!

William had a ball ‘helping’ us to create our white Christmas! Luckily his sister Hannah had a chance to get her own back…

Even Buzz the Wonderdog (kindly lent by the owners of our location house) got involved ready for his moment in the spotlight (cue much shaking of the dog biscuit tin!) What’s that people say about working with children and animals…?

Cute or what? Everyone worked incredibly hard to bring everything together so I owe a huge ‘thank you’ to my brilliant team – photographer Alun, photographer’s assistant Jo, styling assistant Lara and stylist Debbie. All together now… “cheese”!

Have a brilliant weekend. I’ll back next week with a few more sneaky peaks from the Complete Guide to Christmas!

SHOPPING SHORTLIST: gorgeous knits

October 5, 2010

I’m busy calling in some bits and pieces to style a house in my native Somerset at the end of the week  – it’s for our February issue so I’m having fun choosing lots of gorgeous textured knits. Very timely too as it’s Wool Week this month – you’ve probably noticed that our November issue is packed with cosy buys galore. I’ve picked my favourites as I’ve been choosing accessories for my house shoot and thought a bit of a round-up is in in order.

Vita cushion, £25; Vita blanket, £80, both John Lewis

Kicking things off, some lovely bobbly knits from the lovely people at John Lewis – you’d usually think of using knitted cushions and throws in a living room but this shot proves they’d add a really snuggly feel to a bedroom too. Personally I love layering natural colours so you can really appreciate all the varied textures properly, but for my shoot on Friday I need a little more colour, so am mixing in some of these cushions too:

Knitted cushions, £25 each, Marks & Spencer

This muted, denim blue is really popular this season and mixes beautifully with almost anything, from steely greys to zingy sulphur yellow.

Welsh brown wool cushion, £60; Jacob pebble knit cushion, £135, both Damson & Slate

Off to sunny Wales next – I’m especially keen on the rustic pebbly cushion on the right made from Jacob sheep wool (my Mum’s just got four Jacob lambs to add to her little collection of farmyard animals – apparently they’re for eating but I reckon using them to make blankets and cushions is a much better plan!) Sticking with the Celtic connection, how about some super-cosy bits from the new collection at Toast?

Lace Stitch socks, £39, Toast

Any friends and relatives reading, I’ll have the aubergine and grey ones in my stocking please – or just as a stocking I guess! Now, brace yourself for a gratuitous cute animal pic to seamlessly lead us onto my final buy…

I’m off on my annual trip to the beautiful Lake District at the end of the month (can’t wait) and love meeting these adorable Herdwick sheep on long rainly walks o’er hill and dale. I’d love to own one of these hand-woven Herdwick throws

Herdwick wool honeycomb throw, £245, Maxemilia at Folksy

There are only five available so you’ll need to be quick! I’ll be back next week with some sneak peaks from Ideal Home’s Complete Guide to Christmas – watch this space!