Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Christmas is nearly here!

Looking at so many wonderful blogs and pictures of impending Christmassy stuff right now.  It makes me very excited with all the possibilities for decorating the Christmas table and tree.  Take a look at this site and the wonderful way the table has been created…I do love it http://t.co/dPTZGuKS so atmospheric and evocative.  What do you think?

My own Christmas table will look slightly different….partly due to the fact I can’t afford Willaim Yeowood tableware…yes yes yes but I know its oh so gorgeous…..the other is it’s just me and my man this year as daughter is spending it with her young man’s family.  Tricky when ones little one leaves the nest!  So a slightly scaled down affair this year but doesn’t have to mean less glamorous.

Here’s some of my browsing’s for a table setting
Lovely but not sparkly enough
{MuralMax Interiors}
Ummmm too fruity
The right balance of fruitiness and quite gorgeous but not this year
Too sparkly…I know I wanted sparkly but it’s a finite balance isn’t it
Simple and beautiful but too formal I think………but on this kinda theme I think by Jove I might have found it

{Bond Ville}
Now this I love…lovely table setting with a little sparkle and perhaps I could try to re-create this with the baubles hanging above the table in a more muted silver….not too expensive, chic and simple to do.  I think I have my table setting sorted this Christmas now.  My sister will be so proud of me as she thinks about all this stuff in about October if not September, as she gets so excited about what she is going to do and her theme…me I just wing it usually but not this year as now have a different outlook on all things beautiful.  My eye is more decerning….im in training for that stuff you know!!

Friday, 16 November 2012

How Lovely People Are

I have had some shite times in my life (big one recently) but generally I have been lucky to find a man who loves and accepts me for who I am, a beautiful daughter who is just a perfect miracle, a supportive and loving family and some wonderful friends.  But these are things I work at…things I try and nurture….the surprises are those people whom I don’t know but show acts of kindness that are unexpected and kinda restore my faith in the human race.  Not on a huge scale just little kindnesses that take a little effort on their behalf but seem to be done so freely.

Three examples:

I am a bit of a luddite, perhaps you can tell but the pants look of my blog but trying to make it better just gets it all twisted up and I revert back to the basic!  There was a lovely person who worked in my team and she left to go have a baby, I didn’t know her very well but a little.  Unfortunately there were complications but her little Smidge (baby that is) is doing fine and all ok…phew!  She recently met me for coffee and spent at least 2 hours of her precious time to walk me through Twitter…not an easy task but she did and I thank her profusely.  She didn’t have to do this but it was the milk of human kindness…bless her.

The second is a blog I stumbled across recently called English Buildings  http://englishbuildings.blogspot.co.uk/ and there is this chap who writes very eloquently and knowledgeably on…you guessed it…English Buildings.  Well it’s a fascinating blog and there was a house he looked at that I found interesting so I left a comment asking for the architect’s name.  He responded, obviously having done some work to find out.  Then I cheekily asked if he could recommend another house from the 19th century and he gave me lots of suggestions and also another chap got involved and offered more suggestions too.  How kind and generous that was, I am very grateful.

The third, I have a new opportunity to work (Saturday girl…not quite girl at my age but you get the drift!) at an Interior Design House called Ashton House Design http://ashtonhousedesign.co.uk/ I went in last weekend for initial day and was blown away by how sweet and welcoming they were.  My previous job was a bit cut throat really with lots of rivalries so this was unexpected and truly lovely.  The Principle Designer was fab and let me follow her around all day and couldn’t have been more attentive….the assistant designer was equally as lovely and both offered lots of information to a girl who knows diddly squat…they were very patient!!  Again kindness not expected.

So, just wanted to put in writing how lovely some people are and recognise their acts of kindness…..blimey all a bit soppy I know but it has to be done every now and again with genuine heartfelt gratitude not platitude!!! 

Monday, 12 November 2012

Dartmoor is Beautiful

I’m a lucky girl to live in this part of the country.  Dartmoor is one of the most beautiful places on earth I think, especially in the Autumn when there is so much to see as the emerald green of lush spring and summer dies back to reveal its structural splendour….what do you think? 
However, there is always a little lushness and colour for those willing to seek it out!

Friday, 9 November 2012


Brrrrr it’s getting colder now autumn’s really settling in.  Snuggled up by the Rayburn during the day in the kitchen studying and then by the wood fire in the evening watching rubbish as lazy bugger….lovely as this is what the autumn/winter was designed for I guess.  Talking of what winter was designed for, check out the beautiful fires at this site www.focus-creation.com  Oh My Lord (that sounded a bit 50 Im sorry) I particularly love this one where the doors are made of rusted steel and signed by the artist Dominique Imbert who is the creator of Focus Fireplaces.  It’s not just the most spectacular piece of art but gives warmth too…I am in love!
Whilst I was day dreaming about a house where I could have this stunning fireplace (!!) I got to thinking about living spaces in front of the fire. So I was musing about warmth, the sort that you can wrap yourself in, I went off again dreaming about gorgeous throws for my sofa and bed.  I tell you, undertaking an interior design diploma makes me look at my home and want to change stuff….obviously keep some key pieces that we love and are attached to but yearn for cohesion,  simplicity, rooms to have better rhythm and perhaps better symmetry in a way I never knew I would!!!!  So there I was looking for blankets and came across The Atlantic Blanket Company www.atlanticblankets.com and blimey they are gorgeous in mouth-watering colours and textures..…what do you think?
Beautiful mohair and wool throw…the colours are just exquisite I think.
This is my favourite one…gunmetal grey mohair
Now all I need is The Conran Shop’s version of Zanotta’s ‘William’ three-seater sofa and life would be a little more comfortable……ha ha ha who am I kidding its £11,265 but a girl can dream.
Talking of beautiful things there is a blog I follow called Positively Beauty by Christina Colli and its fab www.positivelybeauty.com please go take a look if you are not already plugged in as its pretty cool and she has just had a styled photo shoot for Christmas published in November’s Cotswold Life Magazine.  How exciting and well deserved, really good to support her.
I’m off to continue my dreaming…….

Monday, 29 October 2012

Inspirational Design

I finished my first module and submitted it for marking…..I surprised myself and got 100%.  Woohoo, I’m so happy to actually get something right as was worried my tutor would just send it back laughing with sympathy in his eyes and shaking his head at my dismal attempt to understand the rudiments of space, line, light, texture, balance, emphasis and scale etc. but no, I do understand these concepts a little.  Putting them into practice is a little trickier than understanding in principle.  That part is to come I hope further down the line when I have more of a foundation to stand on.

However, right now I love learning about Interior Design and there is more to it than meets the eye.  More than I originally thought and it takes me ages to finish a module because I don’t understand or know anything at the start but gradually it sinks in and I get the gist. This next module is all to do with the History of Style, Decoration and Architecture.   

I didn’t think about early cave dwellers with their carvings and drawings on cave walls as interior design or Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel come to mention it but this is the question I pose for myself now.  Is it?  I think so.  You know when I started thinking about what I wanted to do to make a transition from my old job to something new, Interior Design was the first thing that really got me excited.  I was a little concerned people might think of it as frippery silly decorating and chucking a few cushions around but it so is not that at all. 

There are some seriously good interior designers out there who have or who are shaping the world we sit in for the good.  It’s not just aesthetics, it’s how we feel, it’s how we live, it’s what we show others and what we don’t show about ourselves, it’s a culmination of historical influences that I expect a lot of people take for granted or don’t see (I didn’t) that guide our taste, it’s aspirational and inspirational and I love it. 

I was squizzing through the internet looking at various influential architects and designers and came across Frank Gehry…blimey has this man got vision.  Considered one of the best architects of our time and designed such places as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and The Dancing House in Prague to name but a few.
When I first looked at his designs I really didn’t like them but now I see the beauty.  They are spectacular actually and can only marvel at such talent in one man….check out his stuff http://www.gehrytechnologies.com/architecture/recent-work the thing is he not only concerns himself with the outside but also the inside and essentially obeys the principles and elements of design but with spectacular effect.    I think the same thing (almost) when I look at the inside of a Kit Kemp Hotel (Firmdale Hotels), beautiful spaces and cleverly, imaginatively and boldly designed.  I can hear people shrieking at me now….that I can’t compare THE most influential architect of our times to a hotel owner who designs her own interiors but I am in a way…it’s all design one way or another just different mediums and different materials.  Same as our cave dwelling ancestors who told a story they wanted to convey with the medium of the visual.
Staying with architecture for a moment I wonder what anyone thinks of this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize winner…..The Sainsbury Laboratory designed by Stanton & Williams (go check it out http://ribastirlingprize.architecture.com/)

Beaches and hunger not sated!

You know Devon has a lot of things to offer and two of the best things about this place are the beaches and the moors.  Having been made redundant recently I have zero money, no literally no money bar paying bills.  Hay ho that’s the way life is but where would I be without the beach and the moors to cheer me up?  My man and I were at Bigbury beach this weekend and what a beach this is, really stunning especially in the fading light and the bulk of people have left…just peaceful and calming, with the haunting sound of the oyster catchers and the gorgeous ozone smell.  See what I mean!
In these days of austerity, simple pleasures are there to be found and some of the best are on our coastlines….lucky us who live here.
One blot on an otherwise perfect time…..fancied some chips…you know just a small cone with that salty vinergary tang to warm the cold hands, sate hunger and provide that needed rosy glow of ultimate naughtiness.  Yay…there is a beach cafĂ© at Bigbury and joy of simple joys they sold chips.  Only had about £1.50 on us and thought that would be plenty for a small smattering of chips to gladden the heart….but no….£1.90 for a small portion and this obviously increased for medium and then large.  Hunger hopes dashed and couldn’t believe it was so expensive. 
Word of warning chaps, if you want chips on a beach you have to pay a pricey ransom, so dig deep into those pockets! 

Monday, 22 October 2012


Question….Museums…stuffy boring places or wonderful institutions of visual learning?   For me they are the latter but I guess that depends on the museum and perhaps the person.  Take Plymouth and Exeter museum for example where my daughter Zoe and I recently visited both.  I thought they were the antithesis of each other in terms of visual and intellectual stimulation, flow, exhibits and general pleasure to be in vibe. 

Plymouth, although the outside is quite architecturally impressive being of neo-classical design and the foyer looked ok but inside…yawn, yawn, yawn.  The actual displays are a little tired and boring with very little to visually stimulate.  However there is lots of interaction for little ones which is a plus for parents with bored children but not much for adults to keep you in there for more than 5 minutes and you may find yourself fleeing said place to save from museum narcolepsy!  This museum refers to the stuffy boring variety I think.

Exeter on the other hand is wonderful.  It’s recently been refurbished and modernised, sympathetically I may add and looks great both inside and out in its gorgeous gothic splendour (so it should really as it cost 24 million!).  They added some contemporary elements to join the old with the new and restoration of this Victorian wonder is spot on. They have even painted the foyer and hallways a vibrant pink and it looks fab against the stonework.

This colour combination really works…see nature made it first so it must be ok!
The exhibits are really engaging and there is such variety.  There were a few stand out exhibits but one piece my daughter and I loved was working on the premise of bottled memories and each bottle had a different memory from the artist engraved on the front, like the smell of freshly mown grass or her mother’s perfume.  It was really evocative and such a lovely idea.
We really could have spent most of the day roaming around the rooms looking and oohing and ahhing.  There were of course some silly bits but well it’s a museum and obligatory and  for the kids I think…..like a whole elephant, polar bear and a tiger…dead of course…now that would be fun and stimulating if there was a live tiger roaming around the place, get the customers moving along nicely!  The bit that’s great is it’s free.  Not much free in this world that’s really worth a look at.  Well that’s not true actually as nature is free and almost always worth a look at, perhaps it’s more a case of not much in this world that costs money that’s worth a look at!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Fat Boy Slim

Well well well….just taken our two gorgeous Jack Russell’s to the vet for their yearly MOT.  As part of the check up the vet wanted to weigh the boys, however when she weighed Taffarini she proclaimed he could do with losing a little weight….the cheek of it!  We do call him Fat Boy but that’s just an affectionate term for such a slim and beautiful boy, surely. 
That’s Taffarini (AKA Fat Boy or Taffy) on left and Mojo on the right (yes the one with the enormous ears…..hay we think he’s beautiful). So diet it is then. 
Now, before diet the day normally went as follows: get up feed boys, they don’t eat their breakfast as they wait for us to have our coffee and toast as this means they get some yummy toast.  Then they eat their own breakfast if they can be bothered.  Play with toys and generally run around barking and disturbing my husband as he tries to work and have conference calls about some very important computer jiggery pokery stuff.  Then lunchtime there maybe a little titbit of this or that…only something small I’m sure, then apple cores if there’s any going, then perhaps a Smackeroo (oh how they love Smackeroo’s) then hearty walk on moors….boys gotta be hungry now…then their dinner, which they may take a look at (yucky hard boring dry food) then it’s our dinner and boy there may be something that accidently fell into their mouths under the table.  Then more playing and perhaps a sniff at their dinner lying in their bowls and polish it off in a most languid fashion.
On reflection maybe it might have been a little too much extra stuff??!! 
Now, day goes like this: get up feed boys, Taffy runs around very excited and acts like he has never been fed, both gobble food up and look expectantly for more (there is no more).  We have our breakfast; coffee and toast, boys look hungrily at us with pleading eyes…nay implores us with those eyes for a little bit of toast…a crumb even, but no.  Then nothing other than playing with toys and amusing themselves till walk…yay walk, they rush around and get very very excited.  Then their dinner, yucky hard boring dry food but oh it’s so delicious now, they eat all up in 2 seconds flat, more is the cry but no.  Then more lounging around and barking at the television if a dog or animal comes on the screen, playing with toys but no more food.  Taffy’s stomach thinks his throat has been cut and is thoroughly bored of this no treats malarkey.  Much teasing of Fat Boy that he is now so skinny we see his ribs and is all skin and bone….poor little Fat Boy wasting away.  Ah the amusement of our beloved dogs, where would we be without them and my sabbatical is made even more enjoyable now I can spend so much time with them.  Silver linings everywhere to redundancy.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Eyes opened

Negative space…do you know I have been reading about this for a little while and was a tad confused by the concept.  But just read a piece on Abbey Koplovitz’s blog (www.oninteriordesign.com) and all makes sense now.  I don’t know about you guys but perhaps those of us who are not trained in such arty stuff don’t know about negative space but see it and understand it unconsciously all the time.  I now am looking around my house seeing the shapes negative space creates between pictures and objects and such.  Fascinating, my eyes are opened.  Look at this picture below and see the brilliant patterns in the negative space of this beautiful table and chairs by Riva. 
Oh how I love this stuff ……wish I never had to go back to work sometime and earn a crust as learning about all this stuff is such a luxury and feel a very lucky girl indeed to be able to do this for a short while.  I was saying to my husband this morning how there isn’t enough hours in the day for all I want to see, do and learn about interior design as it’s not just about that specifically, its where my searches take me.  One minute I’m looking for descriptions of negative space and the next I’m off on a merry tour of beautiful Italian furniture then onto Italian art and then…hay where did the day go….and I promised myself solemnly today I would finish module 1 of my assignment, hay ho tomorrow!

Monday, 24 September 2012

cushions cushions everywhere!

Blog 4
My husband is always complaining that I have bought yet more cushions into the house and what was wrong with the old ones?  He has no idea what updates a look of a room or cheap ways to change the look of a room if one feels bored with it.  It’s not the expense of new cushions but he just doesn’t understand why I may need to change something.
I don’t think it’s specifically a girl thing but it’s a him thing!  I’m surprised he even notices when new things appear around the house.  I love cushions and want to change them frequently but they are so darned expensive…well the plump, feather, snuggly, fabulous fabric ones are.  Redundancy does not stretch to buying anything right now, let alone new cushions, so when my friend replied and asked if I could look for readymade cushions I jumped at the chance to live vicariously through her wallet….yay I have an excuse to look at wonderful web sites and immerse myself into the land of lovely things!!   It is so nice to have a legitimate reason to avoid my assignment too…struggling with concept of line at the moment (never done art which might have been helpful).
Now I looked at some darn right beautiful cushions and then reeled myself back into to reality.  Said friend cannot afford silly money for cushions but I know she would want something that looks expensive but is really reasonable.  I simply could show toms of fabrics or cushions but here are just a few that I really thought would be good in said friend’s room. 

M&S do a Conran range that really smacks of luxury but not too expensive but nothing in fabric discussed although there are some lovely felt cushions in this range that can add the tonal aspect especially in grey.  

www.sofa.com has some absolutely gorgeous cushions and I want them all really but the ‘Giverny’ looks simple and classy with a lush square of velvet on a linen background.

www.made.com is also another great site and has a quirky cushion with a pug print as said friend loves dogs.

But I think www.grahamsandersoninteriors.com might just be the best to look at as it has so many fabrics to choose from and they make them for you at very reasonable prices (from about £15.50 onwards depending on fabric of course). 
This is a William Morris Green  Willow Bough Minor fabric which picks up on the accent wall colour

Or this one which is William Morris Lily minor fabric

This fabric above Cheret Autumn would be great on leather as said friend has ordered a new leather sofa and also would pick up the wall again.

Lastly for just plain simple white or taupe cushions The White Company have a good range of styles and textures but can be pricey but Amazon do a good cheap one which the sofa could be loaded with and then just a couple more expensive cushions can add colour, contrast and rhythm to the room.

There….foray into cushion world very much enjoyed but its back to the assignment and getting head around ‘line’. 


Thursday, 20 September 2012


Looking at fabrics today as a very dear friend of mine is re-decorating her living room and we were discussing colours.  I said I would have a scout around to give some ideas of possible fabrics for cushions.  My first thought was Liberty prints as she has a fireplace that has a distinct Art Nouveau style and this might give a little rhythm to the room.  We considered pink as an accent colour as she has Farrow and Ball Lichen on one wall and white on the rest.  The pink might just so the trick to add a little vibrancy, especially if she is bold enough to also decorate her bookcase in pink….were talking a bright pink here, not a baby pink…yuck that would be horrid.  Go to www.Liberty.co.uk for more wonderful fabrics and there is a brilliant video about how the designers came up with their creations for A/W 12.
This one is Mauverina A Tana Lawn from the Liberty Art Fabrics collection.
And this one is Viola B Tana Lawn from the AW12 Embellishment story. This would be a bit of a curve ball as it has a dominant blue…but just maybe????
This fabric has different dimension of being cord which might add a different layer of texture and I love that idea,  Ianthe C Rossmore Cord from the AW12 Liberty Art Fabrics collection.
I love this one and again its cord, Kitty Grace A Rossmore Cord from the AW12 Liberty Art Fabrics collection
My friend is so clever with a sewing machine so making cushions will be a doddle and she could embellish (one of the continuing big trends for A/W 12) with some fab buttons from the V&A shop online (www.vandashop.com) as they have some on the theme of the ‘arts and crafts’ movement which would tie in with the prints above quite well.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

A little light learning!

Blimey who would have thought there were so many different types of vaulted ceilings?  I have been working on my interior design assignment and started to look at the space in a kitchen I’m making observations on…Ina Garten’s beautiful kitchen in her barn designed by Robert Stillen (look at www.robertstilin.com) who is a genius in simple functional beauty …and looked on Wikipedia to explore more about vaulted ceilings (as you can see from the picture below the kitchen has a vast vaulted ceiling) and found out there are dome, barrel, groin, rib, fan vaulted ceilings and then goes on to describe Byzantine vaults and domes, Romanesque , Gothic and Renaissance…..so much to look at and learn and was only seeing if Ina’s ceiling could be described as a vaulted one!

I do like this kitchen though and love the classic Hamptons style. If I ever achieved such heady heights as an interior designer I think I would like to create spaces that evoked a laid back functional vibe like this. Hay ho….back to learning for now eh!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Thought I would share my little journey with you.  A few months ago I was made redundant from my job as a Service manager of a Drug and Alcohol service that helps those with substance misuse issues get a little recovery in their lives. However, times are hard in the land of government funding and the mantra is 'more for less' and I was the less...booo!
I decided I needed to take a sabbatical and discover a different part of me.  I have worked for the past 20 years with substance misuse and found it challenging but rewarding.  The charity I worked for have been brilliant in allowing me opportunities to grow and develop professionally but its personal development I'm looking for now.
Having worked for so long in this field, first as a counsellor then social worker and lastly a service manager I thought I might try something a little different. I always said it was my team that were creative and I (being a systems girl) took their creative ideas and designed a system it might work in.

Did I say I am not creative...pragmatic, focused and diligent maybe but not creative. I want to change that. I must have some creative bones within me, so I'm out to find them.

I recently enrolled on a Interior Design course to kick start this process and find myself looking at books and magazines with real purpose now. Unfortunately I can't seem to stick to task on my first assignment as my research takes me wider and wider...exciting but not very good at getting my work done....ooops!

This blog is to chart my voyage, interesting to me only, I expect but one never knows.  I guess it will contain all sorts of stuff that excites me and no doubt the stuff that does not.