• Homespun heaven

    by  • 02/09/2015 • 0 Comments

    READY_groupCath runs her country business, Loosethread, from her home near the Gower Peninsular in South Wales, selling beautiful textile homewares and wall canvases featuring free motion stitched designs – always with her signature loose threads of course! She chats to us about her coastal lifestyle…

    How did Loosethread come about?
    It’s the result of my creative fervour! I have always loved to draw and during my creative textiles degree I found a new way to do it. Instead of my paper sketchbook I began to use scraps of fabric and the free motion foot on my sewing machine. I ‘paint’ the canvas with fabric, then ‘draw’ in the detail with stitch.

    What inspires you?
    Inspiration comes from the things I love, from tea and cakes to the beach. My work reflects my life on the beautiful South Wales coast. Walking along the beachfront gives me endless inspiration; bobbing boats and lines of weathered beach huts feature heavily in my work.

    Describe the design and making process.
    It is a two-way process really. Sometimes I start working with imagery, sketching in stitch before finding the colours and fabrics that fit. Other times I find fabrics that I just have to use! Recently, I’ve been using vintage fabrics more and more. Old clothes are best for retro patterns, perfect for a teacup design!

    What advice would you give to other designers just starting out?
    Stay energised by keeping your workspace alive with things that inspire you. Perhaps paint the walls your favourite colour, keep hold of images that you love and record all of your ideas in a way that you feel most comfortable with.

    Describe your favorite country moment.
    I love walking with my miniature dachshund Bernie. Although he only has tiny legs, popping out for a quick afternoon stroll means the end of the working day. Watching him is delightful; every day is a new adventure in his eyes! A small dog with a big personality, he’s a great source of inspiration for me.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Unconstrained, fun-loving and joyful.

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    Love a hero piece

    by  • 01/09/2015 • 0 Comments

    country living room

    If you want to give a new lease of life to a neutral scheme and create a room that’s big on personality, ring the changes with an injection of colour and pattern. Here’s a gorgeous country living room that’s been given a lift with a heavenly hero piece armchair. Just the thing for making a statement!

    The stunning upholstery fabric is a handpainted interpretation of ikat by Dutch designer Mariska Meijers in collaboration with sofa.com and can be used on any of the Sofa.com range (the chair shown here is the Snowdrop armchair in Magenta Electric Ikat). Mariska is renowned for her use of vibrant colours and bold patterns and this one is perfect for giving a modern twist to a classic piece of furniture.

    You can use a hero chair like this as the focal point for an eclectic country house scheme. Simply team with a mix of period and modern pieces. Here, an on-trend industrial coffee table is combined with classic table and floorlamps, while a clustered display of vintage paintings emphasises the high ceiling and provides an elegant backdrop.

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    Video! Pretty up a flower pot

    by  • 30/08/2015 • 0 Comments

    Brought to you by the makers of Country Homes & Interiors, we’re delighted to launch a series of seasonal craft videos. Modern Country Makes offers simple step-by-step tutorials, showing you how to create beautiful crafts inspired by our love of the countryside, from home accessories to pretty gift ideas.

    The series kicks off with a quick and easy way to give plain indoor flower pots a pretty makeover – by covering them in your favourite fabrics! A ditsy floral print, such as Betsy S Tana from Liberty (£22.50 per metre) provides a colourful backdrop for herbs and succulents, while natural hessian lets vibrant blooms do all the talking. As well as brightening up kitchen sills, they make for a sweet little gift idea too – tie on a cheery greeting using rustic twine for a sentimental finishing touch.

    Watch and get creative! Click here to watch the video in full screen mode.

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    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – blissful bedlinen buys

    by  • 29/08/2015 • 0 Comments

    Ready_bed linen groupOh hazy, happy days – It’s the Summer Bank Holiday weekend and – mad dashes to visit family and friends aside, here at Country Days we’re all secretly delighted at the prospect of a stolen lazy lie-in snuggled between layers of crisp, linen loveliness.

    To turn this blissful daydream into a well-deserved reality, in this week’s shopping shortlist we’ve rounded-up the prettiest of bedlinen buys – all promising a beauty sleep you’ll never want to end.

    Hit snooze on the alarm and drift off for a few minutes more cocooned in blossom motifs. We love this Country Floral Print Bed Linen (above top), £18, for a double set, by Sainsbury’s, for an update on the classic country look. Featuring a trailing pattern of sun-kissed blooms – this lovely design is complemented by the Yellow and Grey Check Throw, £12; and Crochet Cushion, £12 – for a homely, rustic look touched with homespun charm. Bed heaven!

    Country style is all about relaxed comfortable living. Put the stresses and strains of life on hold by creating a bedroom sanctuary filled with simple and delicate details. The beautiful Gray & Willow Autumn/Winter collection at House of Fraser (above right), includes Scandi-inspired designs with a heartfelt nod to traditional craftsmanship and natural materials. Pictured above: Rosklide pillowcase, £30 a pair; Stokholme stripe pillowcase, £30 a pair; Kalmar grey pillowcase, £25 a pair; Bergen stripe double duvet cover, £90; pillowcase, £30 a pair.

    Treat yourself to a duvet with a tactile, feminine design. The dreamy floral Connie Bed Linen (above left), £99 for a double duvet, from Christy, has a beautiful painterly feel. Available in romantic pink hues – this silky sateen number adds a really luxurious touch to the boudoir.

    The working week is over – tick! Finally it’s time to plump those feather-filled pillows, turn off the technology and enjoy some well-earned rest and relaxation. Sweet dreams’ all…

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    Discover a hidden cove…

    by  • 28/08/2015 • 0 Comments

    Discover a hidden cove | Pembrokeshire |Wild Things PublishingWhen was the last time you explored our beautiful English coastline, discovered a deserted stretch of sand, went for a stroll along the cliffs, or took a bracing dip in the sea? With the bank holiday approaching, it’s time to head to the coast to one of our three favourite locations off the beaten track in Pembrokeshire, Cornwall and Suffolk…

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    Ceramics to swoon over

    by  • 27/08/2015 • 0 Comments

    Ready_groupWe chat to slipware potter, Sarah Went, who combines traditional making methods with contemporary design to create her gorgeous ceramic collections. Handpainted in coordinating coastal-inspired colours, mugs, plates and bowls be mixed and matched for an eclectic display in any country kitchen.

    What made you want to become a ceramicist?
    I’ve always been creative and good with my hands, but when I discovered clay it was like meeting an old friend. I love the spin of the potter’s wheel and the versatility of the clay. The freedom to make any shape and play with pattern and texture is very exciting… my heart still skips a beat when I open the kiln!

    What is your working space like?
    I used to work in a converted shed, but I have recently had a new studio built. I painted it a favourite shade of blue which is a colour I often use in my work. Its a beautiful space to work in – it overlooks an old apple tree and has plenty of space to display my ceramics.

    What inspires you as a designer? 
    My home surroundings – favourite fabrics, shades of paint and plants. Family walks along the coast give me endless inspiration. My work has a translucent quality and the colours I use are colours of the ocean – sea green, blues and sandy yellows. I often sketch the plants and wild flowers that can be found along the coast line, which can be seen in the patterns and textures that decorate my work.

    Describe the making process?
    My pieces are individually thrown on the potter’s wheel. I then decorate each piece with slip – painting or trailing it on to create pattern and texture. The work is then fired, glazed and fired again.

    What is your favourite piece and why?
    I find the most current one is always my favourite! I like to explore different colour combinations, with contrasts of colour inside and out. My favourite piece is a perfectly rounded bowl that has been trailed with a sea coral design and glazed in a combination of china blue and sea green – I love it!

    Sum up your creative style in 3 words.
    Delicate, tactile and functional.

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    Simple summer salad

    by  • 26/08/2015 • 0 Comments

    salad

    Nothing makes us happier than simple, fresh, home or locally grown seasonal food. This delicious salad will make your tasebuds sing with its perfect mix of heavenly halloumi and tasty green veg. And the fact that it’s really quick to make is a bonus – perfect for a lazy summer lunch or supper.

    Serves 4

    For the salad
    200g asparagus spears
    6 baby courgettes, halved lengthways
    2 tbsp olive oil
    225g pack halloumi cheese, sliced into 12
    4 handfuls pea shoots or baby salad leaves

    For the dressing
    2tbsp olive oil
    Juice 1/2 lemon
    1/2 tsp soy sauce
    1/2 tsp honey
    2 tsp caraway seeds, toasted

    1 Coat the asparagus, courgettes and cheese lightly in oil and cook in batches on a griddle until tender. Set aside.

    2 Meanwhile, whisk all the dressing ingredients in a jug.

    3 Place the cheese and vegetables on warm plates. Drizzle over the dressing and top with pea shoots or salad leaves.

     

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    Coastal charm

    by  • 25/08/2015 • 0 Comments

    seaside

    We love everything about the English coastline, from stunning views and hidden coves to breathtaking cliff-top walks, sandy beaches, the sights and sounds of wildlife and the smell of fresh salty air.

    Capturing the magic of the coast in our decorating schemes is one of our favourite interior looks, whether you’re lucky enough to live on the coast or are based in a village or rolling countryside.

    If you love this look as much as we do, check out these dreamy coastal schemes for ideas and inspiration to transform your home into an idyllic seaside retreat. And why not download this free coastal lookbook with a specially edited selection of coastal looks you’ll love! Happy browsing…

     

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    So chic sleep

    by  • 25/08/2015 • 0 Comments

    country bedroom

    How’s this for the ultimate in a modern country bedroom that oozes style and sumptuousness, and also demonstrates clever use of colour and texture?

    This is a gorgeous scheme that takes elements of hotel luxe and gives them a country edge. The oh-so-cosy bed is the centrepiece of the room and has been designed to make a statement. An oversized upholstered headboard guarantees an opulent look and co-ordinates beautifully with the ottoman at the foot of the bed (perfect for storage of bedlinen).

    Eyecatching wallpaper combining a graphic print in a smart on-trend charcoal links with the headboard and ottoman while providing a modern twist. Silk curtains with a bobble trim are perfect for continuing the grey theme and enhancing the luxurious feel.

    What lifts the scheme beautifully is the well-judged use of pops of colour – striking indigo makes an elegant accent – the cosy blue throw adds definition and tones with the fabulous indigo and gold floral cushions, while plain gold cushions inject a sunny twist to what could otherwise be a cool palette.

    The finishing touch is the chandelier, a country classic, which emphasises the glam theme.

    To see more rooms from this beautiful house, take a peek at http://bit.ly/1NRoPFN

     

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    The country decorator’s shopping shortlist – inky indigo buys

    by  • 22/08/2015 • 0 Comments

    Ready_groupNothing beats diving into a beautifully calm blue sea for a revitalising hit! But if you haven’t managed to dip your toes into the sea this summer, try adding a soothing touch to your country home with seductive inky blues – this year’s biggest colour trend and create a look that’s both comfy, chic and reminiscent of the coast.

    In this week’s shopping shortlist we’ve rounded-up a beautiful edit of indigo buys – richly bold in colour but oh-so tranquil and watery in nature…

    Dispel the myth that dark is mysterious and cold and introduce your living room to down-to-earth simplicity through a scattering of printed, knitted and woven soft furnishings in calming hues. Murmur’s gorgeous collection of textiles blends contemporary and rustic characteristics, and looks to nature for colour inspiration and materials. We’ve discovered to new depths of love for these Murmur cushions, from £35; and Sail Navy throw, £120 (above top) – hand crafted in essence and the perfect pick to add casual sophistication to any interior. Murmur’s debut lifestyle collection of home ware and accessories launches on 10th September – we can’t wait!

    Turn your dining table into a work of art with painterly infused dinnerware wonderfully decorated in fresh and effortless patterns. The Alhambra porcelain collection from House Of Fraser (above left) takes its inspiration from Moorish notes rendered in soothing indigo tones – classic, decorative styling and addictively ‘moreish’! Dinner plate, £8; side plate, £6; bowl, £6; jug, £20; napkin (set of two), £12; napkin rings (set of four), £20; platter, £25.

    Dip into the inkwell and sign, seal and deliver with statement furniture oozing modern country style. We’re hooked on the Pinner dining table, £1,195; bench, £495; and dining chairs, £395 for a pair, from Heal’s (above right). Created to be both hardworking and durable, this stunning range has a smart feel painted in a striking heritage blue.

    Whether you want to update an existing neutral scheme, or are simply looking for a fresh start, now that you’ve had a paddle there’s nothing for it but to plunge straight in and let inky indigos run riot!

     

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    Lose yourself in a magnificent maze…

    by  • 21/08/2015 • 0 Comments

    Head to a mazeLove an adventure in the depths of the British countryside? Have fun finding your way around one of these three amazing labyrinths made from hedges, fortress walls and even water! The question is, can you find your way to the centre?  Find our favourites in Wiltshire, Northumberland and Kent…

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    Chocolate & Raspberry Cake

    by  • 20/08/2015 • 0 Comments

    Ready_IPCIMMGLPICT000005140121

    The Great British Bake Off is back on our screens and we’ve got the baking bug! This week we couldn’t resist this delicious chocolate and raspberry cake which combines two of our favourite things – chocolate and juicy ripe summer fruit! You can make it a day in advance for ease, but don’t decorate until just before serving. Ready, steady…. bake!

    Cuts into 15 squares

    For the cake
    175g (6oz) self-raising four
    2tbsp cocoa
    1tsp bicarbonate of soda
    150g dark muscovado sugar
    2tbsp golden syrup
    2 large eggs
    150ml (1⁄4pt) rapeseed or sunflower oil
    150ml (1⁄4pt) milk

    For the topping

    200g bar dark chocolate
    300ml carton whipping cream
    2tbsp icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
    2 x 200g punnets raspberries

    28 x 18cm (1 1 x 7in) traybake tin, lined with baking parchment

    1 Set the oven to 160°C or Gas Mark 3. To make the cake, sift the four, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and stir in the muscovado sugar. Add the golden syrup. Lightly beat together the eggs, oil and milk, pour into the four mixture and beat until smooth. Pour the mixture into the traybake tin and bake for 25-30 mins, or until the cake is just frm to the touch in the centre. Remove the cake from the oven and leave it to cool in the tin for about 5 mins, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely.

    2 For the topping, break the chocolate into pieces and place in a bowl. Bring the cream to the boil in a pan and pour over the chocolate, then add the icing sugar. Stir until the chocolate melts. Mix well to give a smooth consistency, or use a stick blender. Leave the ganache to cool until it’s a spreading consistency, either letting it cool at room temperature or to speed it up, place it in the fridge – but stir regularly.

    3 Spread the chocolate mixture over the top of the cake and then arrange the raspberries on top of the ganache. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

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