• Meet the Shepherdess

    by  • 29/07/2015 • 0 Comments

    Ready_groupAlison O’Neil lives and farms the fells and dales in Cumbria as a working shepherdess, having learnt the traditional dog and stick skills from her father. A lifelong love affair for tweed and a passion for British wool resulted in the birth of her country business, aptly named Shepherdess; designing and selling her stunning range of tweed clothing and bags handmade using British wool.

    How did Shepherdess come about?

    I have always loved tweed and a trip to the Isle of Harris opened by eyes to the beauty of Harris tweed. Every time I visited I’d come back with material. I ran up a skirt in a Rowan red check, and the first time I wore it out I was asked where I had bought it from. I answered “I made it myself, would you like one?” And so Shepherdess was born!

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    Be beside the seaside

    by  • 28/07/2015 • 0 Comments

    Coastal living room

    Those lazy hazy days of summer make us here at Country Days want to head on down to the beach. And if you want to recreate that coastal feel in your own home, this beautiful living room certainly paves the way.

    Seaside living is all about relaxed style, with cool cotton fabrics, natural textures and maritime-themed accessories.

    Blue and white is the classic coastal palette, but injecting red into the mix warms up the look and adds depth. We love the fabrics in this scheme, which are part of the evocative Coast collection by Prestigious Textiles – a selection of fabrics featuring beach huts, seagulls, sailboats and shoreline treasures in iconic vintage style, with a jaunty stripe used as an eyecatching foil.

    Mixing and matching different fabrics that tone creates a vibrant scheme, while interspersing panels of fabric at the window and on the scatter and seat cushions on the settle are really clever ways to create a scheme with personality.

    Emphasise the coastal theme further with some contemporary style driftwood side tables, rope doorstops, glass floats and natural flooring.

     

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    Video! My Country Business: Sarah Hardaker

    by  • 27/07/2015 • 0 Comments

    Welcome to the second short film in our My Country Business video series that tells the stories of a new and savvy generation of country entrepreneurs – who do what they love and love what they do!

    We headed to Gloucestershire to meet leading fabric and wallpaper designer, Sarah Hardaker, and discovered her love of roses, campervans and the inspiration behind her beautifully-drawn country-style collection.

    Watch and be inspired…

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    Craft rustic tile coasters

    by  • 26/07/2015 • 0 Comments

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    You’ve finished tiling and have ceramic spares leftover, but they’re far too lovely to throw away. The solution? Transform them into stylish coasters with a striking splash of colour that compliments your room scheme. We used Marabu porcelain paint (from £2.75, Hobbycraft) – it’s perfect for stencilling, stamping or freehand designs.

    Like this idea? Take it one step further with decoupage decoration. Brush a thin layer of PVA glue onto a plain white tile and arrange neatly cut scrapbook paper pieces on top, smoothing out as you go to avoid air bubbles. For a personal touch, why not use old photographs? Leave to dry, then brush a generous coat of PVA over the top.

    Whether you opt for paint or decoupage, the finishing touches are the same: spray the tile with a craft sealer to make it waterproof (follow the manufacturer’s directions and use in a well-ventilated area), then glue a square of felt to the underside of each tile to avoid scratched tabletops. Leave for 24-48 hours to dry.

    Stack your handmade coasters neatly on dressers and coffee tables, ready for your next tea break. Or tie them up beautifully in groups of four using soft ribbon or natural twine, for a lovely gift idea.

    For more gorgeous craft inspiration, visit the Country Homes and Interiors homepage.

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    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – country animal motifs

    by  • 25/07/2015 • 0 Comments

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    Calling all lovers of creatures great and small! It’s National Countryside Week – a celebration of the British rural way of life. To honour this special event, The Country Decorator has rounded-up our favourite country animal-inspired buys fresh from the farmyard…

    Prop open your doors and let the gentle summer breeze into your country home with these pretty and practical doorstops from Ulster Weavers. The cute designs are available in a variety of furry friend characters, (see above for a selection), and at £20 each, make a charming alternative to a boring old door wedge.

    Enjoy a breakfast of freshly laid eggs and cup of tea in true country style. The classic Branscombe chickens mug, £9, from Laura Ashley, features the popular chicken print, making it a clucky addition to your table! The Branscombe design is available across a range of kitchenware – hen heaven!

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    Add a heart-felt touch to your picnic hamper with a gorgeous decorative detail. The delightful Countryside hearts, £11.95 each, from Dimbleby Ceramics, are British made and feature exquisite illustrations inspired by woodland wildlife. With a choice of rural creatures to choose from – each piece has a story to tell!

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    Make drying up less of a chore with a tea towel covered in country motifs. The Farm Life design, £10, from Lucy Green Designs, features cows, pigs, sheep and chickens in a pretty fresh-blue palette and is inspired by the glorious Dorset countryside that surrounds Lucy’s studio.

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    Rural living has never looked so good! Bring farmyard favourites indoors with a decorative feature wall. The bespoke Jacob Sheep wallpaper, £95 per roll, from Emily Bond, will bring a smile to your face in any room. Printed in the UK, it epitomises quintessential country living.

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    With animal motifs marked as an enduring trend for 2015, it’s time to take a walk on the wild side…

    For more information on National Countryside Week visit The Prince’s Countryside Fund website.

     

     

     

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    Support National Countryside Week

    by  • 24/07/2015 • 0 Comments

    National Countryside WeekWhether you live in town or country, it’s easy to take the beautiful green pastures and leafy woods that surround us for granted, but the countryside needs to thrive. This week is National Countryside Week and The Prince’s Countryside Fund is supporting a host of events in and around rural areas to celebrate and highlight its importance. Try one of these great days outdoors to help your local community.

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    Swoon over sweet stationery

    by  • 22/07/2015 • 0 Comments

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    Here at Country Days, we can’t get enough of Scottish Designer, Laura Park’s whimsical greetings cards, wrapping and stationery – stunning illustrations and cute phrases are the way to our hearts! We find out what the future holds for her business, Dear Prudence

    What made you want to become a designer?
    When I was 10, my Mum drove past Glasgow School of Art and I thought it was the most magnificent building I had ever seen. The idea of drawing and painting everyday made me so happy – it was my mission for the next 10 years to become a student there!

    What inspires you?
    There isn’t really one particular thing. It’s normally a certain composition that I love and want to build a story around. I’m constantly thinking about what would make a good product. Nature, animals, birds and textiles are where I tend to focus my attention. I never get bored – ideas just keep flowing!

    Describe your working space.
    I have a home studio in my converted loft. It’s a big mess of stock, sketchbooks, samples, inspiration and endless pots of pencils and paintbrushes!

    What do you love about the countryside?
    The peace and quiet – being away from everyone and having the headspace to think.

    What’s next for you?
    At the moment I am at a crossroad. I really need to figure out the direction of my business and decide how I want it to grow. My plan is to open a shop and studio in my home city of York, selling beautiful paper and stationery to loyal customers.

    Describe your creative style in three words.
    Unique, whimsical and ethical.

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    Keep it informal

    by  • 21/07/2015 • 0 Comments

    Country dining room

    Wooden furniture is a key ingredient in a country scheme, and here at Country Days we love the cosy and rustic feel that’s created by the the warm tones of oak furniture in this informal country dining room. It’s a look that will work equally as well in an open-plan barn area as in a country cottage.

    The dining table, chairs, bench and sideboard (all Portsmore by Harveys) have a modern design with rounded edges for a chunky look, and the spacious table ensures there’s plenty of room for family gatherings. It’s best to make the most of the texture and grain of the natural wood, so stick to a simple tablesetting to show off its beauty.

    Wooden shutters at the window are perfect for creating a cosy French farmhouse feel. We love the room’s  vintage edge with worn and distressed floorboards, old school-style radiators and statement industrial lights.

     

     

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    Peg up pretty paper

    by  • 19/07/2015 • 0 Comments


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    From nostalgic postcards and notelets to children’s drawings, some things are just too special to throw away. Rather than store them out of sight, peg them up on stylish ‘clothes line’ display boards upcycled from old photo frames.

    To make, paint empty frames in coordinating sorbet shades, leave to dry, then staple three pieces of string across each one. Use lightweight wooden pegs (£3, Peach Blossom) to hold pretty paper in place. Lean your finished displays up against white walls to add a jolly splash of colour to any room.

    If you like this idea we have lots more easy craft projects for you to try on the Country Homes & Interiors homepage.

     

     

     

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    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – enamelware

    by  • 18/07/2015 • 0 Comments

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    Here at Country Days we’re in happy holiday mode! It’s time to down tools, pack a hamper and head off for a staycation in the beautiful countryside. Rural bliss beckons!

    In this week’s shopping shortlist we’re inspired by enamelware – a design classic and perfect for enjoying country style suppers outdoors. Here’s our pick of this season’s sunniest designs…

    Unpack lovely vintage enamelware for your travels and add some character to your tent-side table with a jug of wild meadow flowers. Decorative Country Living’s gorgeous enamelware pitchers are all-hand picked and utterly charming. The Vintage French coffee pot, £30 (above), features a lovely pansy design with a blue ombre effect while the Tiny Vintage French jug, £35 (above top), is in an oh-so-pretty refreshing green – we’re in love!

    Transport home baked snacks in style with this handy lunch box. The delightful Lolita enamelware tiffin, £39.95, from Nkuku, has three individual compartments – ideal for storing cakes, biscuits and other tasty nibbles to keep your energy levels up! The pretty bird design is skillfully painted by artisans and is available in soothing colourways of cream and green or cream and taupe.

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    Banish the melamine and try mixing and matching enamelware in complementary patterns and colours for relaxed country dining. Eco-friendly, fair-trade and handcrafted – the beautiful tableware collection from Dassie, features mugs, plates and bowls available in quirky Morish, Chevron and Love Birds prints, (prices from £10.95).

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    From stove-top to picnic table – the durability and heat resistant qualities of enamelware make it the holiday maker’s top choice for serving and entertaining. With so many quirky designs on the market – we’ll be using it indoors’ too!

     

     

     

     

     

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    My Country Business Awards – This year’s winners!

    by  • 17/07/2015 • 1 Comment

    My Country Business Awards WinnerWe’re delighted to announce this year’s amazing winners of the Country Homes & Interiors My Country Business Awards in association with British Wool. In no particular order, they are…

    Interiors
    Zoe Glencross Fabric & Home (Cheshire) for her beautifully designed fabrics.

    Retail & Services
    Plain Useful West Yorkshire) for its range of covetable utility products.

    Hospitality & Leisure
    Drover’s Rest (Herefordshire) for its fabulous farm holidays.

    Craft
    Sian O’Doherty (Pembrokeshire) for her colourful woven and knitted fashion and interior accessories.

    Food
    Eat my Flowers (Denbighshire) for its edible, handmade flower decorations.

    British Wool award for emerging talent using British Wool
    Home is an island (Shetland) for its beautiful handwoven fabrics using Shetland wool.

     

    Thank you to everyone who entered and congratulations to all the winners! You can read more about the winners’ stories in the November issue of Country Homes & Interiors, on sale 1 October.

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