• The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – Denim Drift buys

    by  • 01/10/2016 • 0 Comments

    ready_coxTrend alert for all of you forward-thinking savvy lovelies! Excitingly, Dulux has announced ‘Denim Drift’ as the must-have colour of 2017. Inspired by embracing the simple things that really matter in life – family and friends, work-life balance and connecting with the world around us – this timeless and versatile blue palette is the perfect pick to breathe calm and positivity into your interior. We’ve selected our favourite pieces to inspire this scheme…

    Display a gorgeous vignette of textured vases and favourite flowers to share moments of happy around the home… This perfectly formed Dipped Concrete Vase (above), £14.50, from Cox & Cox, is made from clay with a textured on-trend concrete effect dark grey finish and soft blue glazed base. Stand alone or group similar toned vessels in different shapes and heights to bring a touch of rustic modernity to any room.

    denim_readyRejuvenate your living room in the simplest way by layering your sofa and chairs with beautifully tactile soft furnishings in misty sky layers. Add a subtle dose of shimmer and sparkle to the mix with this Metallic Knit Throw, £64.95; and Grey with Gold Fleck Cushion (above), £25.00, both from The Ginger Pear. Finished with metallic drizzles, these soft and cuddly accessories are the ultimate ‘silver lining’ to perk up any lack-lustre seating arrangement.

    bronte_readyFor a quick fix, update tired furniture and upcycle with striking upholstery in versatile blue and grey hues. This collaboration Wood Bros Arncliffe Armchair upholstered in Huntingtower fabric in Celestial (above), £819, from Moon, is the ultimate handmade beauty hero piece – place it among your existing plain Janes for a pattern pop that any visitor will be only too pleased to perch upon!

    Whether you prefer inky indigos, or faded denims – dream up the ideal restoring scheme with these true blues…

     

     

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    Discover B&B’s with the best breakfasts…

    by  • 30/09/2016 • 0 Comments

    Country Style bedroomBook a weekend at a B&B known for its fine start to the day! We’ve found three of the cosiest places to tuck into the tastiest of breakfasts this season…

    Ramsden Farm, Kent
    Set in the Garden of England, this B&B (pictured) is the place for sleepy heads, there are no breakfast times and no rules; guests are encouraged to make themselves at home. Inside the renovated farm buildings, a cosy fire welcomes on cooler evenings and sunny bedrooms offer comfy mattresses, crisp white linens and bathrooms with travertine marble and underfloor heating. South-facing views across the Kentish Weald add to the ambience. Guests eat around the kitchen table with its yellow Aga and floor-to-ceiling glass doors, while owner Sally Harrington cooks up a feast.

    Bulls Hall, Suffolk
    Brimful of character, this 16th-century thatched house is set in beautiful gardens with a meadow, ponds and wildlife. Its charming features include sloping floors, low doorways, a large inglenook, beams and high ceilings. Guests can wander among five acres of gardens or look out for wildlife in this beautiful country setting. On rainy days, there are plentiful books and indoor games to enjoy. Owner Angela Hall runs a family-friendly B&B with a double room or a suite for four. Breakfast beckons with fresh fruit juice, homemade jams, free-range eggs, freshly picked field mushrooms and Suffolk bacon cured by Angela’s son with molasses, brown sugar and local Porter beer.

    Jericho, Somerset
    This rural idyll caters for vegetarians with its award-winning breakfasts. There is one stylish suite with a generous-sized bedroom and sitting room with doors to a vine-hung loggia and parterre. Owner Stephen Morgan has created a relaxed look with stylish furniture, rugs and fabrics. Grey panelling, original art and a wet room with drenching shower add to the luxurious feel. There’s no need to leave your room – hand-pressed apple juice from the orchard, coffee, tea, and delicious vegetarian dishes are delivered to your door.

    Have you enjoyed a delicious breakfast away from home? We would love to hear about it..

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    Wild Rabbit, Tarragon and Mustard Terrine

    by  • 29/09/2016 • 0 Comments

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    Try this wonderful autumnal recipe from Recipes from the Woods by Jean-Francois Mallet, published by Phaidon.

    Serves 4

    Preparation time 20 minutes Cooking time 1 hour, plus 1 hour cooling Chilling time at least 12 hours

    1 wild rabbit, boned
    300 g/11 oz pork belly (side)
    4 tablespoons hot mustard
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon dried thyme
    4 sprigs tarragon, reserve
    1 sprig and coarsely chop the rest
    20 g/¾ oz (about 1 tablespoon) salt
    1 tablespoon coarsely crushed pepper
    1 piece pork fat (fatback)

    To serve:

    slices of toasted rustic bread
    rocket (arugula) salad

    1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
    2. Mince (grind) the rabbit meat and pork belly (side) in a mincer(grinder) and put into a large bowl. Add the mustard, eggs, thyme, chopped tarragon, salt and pepper and mix together with your hands until combined.
    3. Place the pork fat (fatback) in the bottom of a terrine dish and spoon in the meat mixture, packing it down firmly. Lay the reserved tarragon sprig on top. Put the terrine into a large ovenproof dish, then carefully pour hot water into the dish to come halfway up the sides of the terrine to create a bain-marie. Cook in the oven for 1 hour.
    4. When the terrine is cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool for 1 hour at room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours before eating.
    5. Serve the wild rabbit terrine with slices of toasted rustic bread and a rocket (arugula) salad.
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    Meet Helen Rawlinson

    by  • 28/09/2016 • 0 Comments

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    Helen mainly screen-prints her signature designs onto cushions and lampshades, but has recently launched a kitchen textiles range inspired by traditional Moroccan tiles. Bright and bold tea towels, oven gloves and potholders feature a geometric design, introducing a touch of ethnic style to classic country kitchens.

    What made you want to become a designer?
    It’s all I ever really wanted to do! I was interested in drawing and design from an early age so it just seemed the natural way to go for me. I was initially interested in fashion but soon realised I was drawn more towards pattern and print.

    Describe the design process.
    Most of my ideas start as tiny scribbles and sketches on scraps of paper. I use a combination of drawing, cutting stencils and laying out compositions to finalise the designs, with any last minute tweaks done on Photoshop. I’m pretty well set up at the studio for screen-printing. The lampshades are printed in batches and sent away to be professionally finished and the cushions I make myself.

    What inspires you?
    I take photos wherever I go, often of simple things like architectural patterns, tiles, plants, flowers, children’s toys and animals. I’m always inspired by new surroundings and travel as much as I can.

    Describe your interior style.
    Our home is a mish-mash of things picked up at car boots and second hand shops, plus the odd piece of furniture inherited from our family home. I love mid-century modern and Danish designs and the walls are peppered with prints picked up on my travels. I don’t do minimal but try to keep it uncluttered if I can – not always easy with family life!

    What’s your favourite design and why?
    I’d like to think that all my designs have longevity and a classic simplicity. My Moroccan tile pattern has been a best seller for me; I have the whole kitchen range at home!

    What do you love about what you do?
    I’ve loved working with children and adults at screen-printing workshops and hope to do more of this in my own studio.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Eclectic, vibrant and fun.

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    Rich pickings

    by  • 27/09/2016 • 0 Comments

    country living room

    When autumn arrives, it’s hard to resist the urge to cosy up your home. So go to town and decorate with rich colours and sumptuous, textured fabrics for the ultimate comfort factor.

    This gorgeous country living room provides plenty of inspiration with its beautiful tones and sophisticated feel.

    The focal point of the scheme is the statement Saturday three-seat sofa in AW16 Vintage Bloom velvet, which incorporates a traditional floral motif.  The sofa’s rich colourway and classic style help evoke a moody feel that’s perfect for wintry days ahead.

    Complementary Emerald velvet Saturday chairs and cushions lift the scheme and introduce jewel shades that pave the way for the festive season. A Valentin footstool in Lavender Grey textured velvet adds an extra touch of luxe. (Sofa, chairs and footstool, all Sofa.com.)

    To prevent the look from becoming too heavy, balance with a paler shade, such as the silver grey blinds and carpet here, which allows the furniture to really stand out. Finish off with a tripod floor lamp for a modern touch.

     

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    Sew a rustic plant cachepot

    by  • 25/09/2016 • 0 Comments

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    Use little crop sacks to make simple cachepots to add a homespun country touch to unattractive plastic plant pots. Here’s how…

    Place your pot inside a sack and roll over a cuff to the desired depth for the height of your pot. We rolled the folded edge over again to give a neater finish. Remove the pot.

    Thread a bodkin (a large-eyed needle) with a length of narrow ribbon, or choose raffia or chunky wool for extra rustic texture. Leaving a tail to tie a knot or bow, sew the ribbon in and out evenly through the holes in the open weave of the fabric halfway down, around the sack, through both layers. Again leave a tail to tie. Place the pot in the sack, gather the ribbon ends together and tie them in a knot or bow. Trim the ends.

    Decorate small pots with scraps of hessian glued onto the pot and trimmed. Finish with a length of twine, doubled and tied in a bow.

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    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – Indian summer outdoor buys

    by  • 24/09/2016 • 0 Comments

    ready_urbanaraDark evenings are tip-toeing in and we can’t deny the sudden nip in the air brrr… With the hum of autumn upon the horizon, now’s the time to embrace the last of the just-about-lingering evenings and celebrate the calm before the storm of Indian summer bliss… We’ve rounded up an inspired edit of turning-of-the-leaf buys that promise to woo soiree goers long into the night…

    Enjoy fresh-air evenings and stay warm with Urbanara’s on-trend wrap-around textiles in rich hues. Set the scene with luxuriously tactile scatter cushions and lovely cosy layers for late-stayers… Shown above: Carlet Mohair Blanket, £129; Carmona Mohair Blanket, £149; Uyuni Cashmere Blanket, £209; Alashan Cushion, cashmere, £69; Middle & right: Uyuni Cushion, cashmere, £59; Rimo Rug, from £169.

    ready_outthereintsSit back under the stars and let yourself be transfixed by dancing candlelight as any stresses from the day fade far, far away… These wonderfully quirky Colourful Candlesticks, £60 for a pair, from Out There Interiors (above), combine bright bases with complementary glass centres, separated by vintage brass metal work – they’re the perfect mix and match collection to display on a rustic table for an eclectic centrepiece with a touch of the exotic.

    ready_coxSet the scene and add character and warmth to your garden or terrace with ambient lighting. These fabulous Festoon Lights, £45, from Cox & Cox (above), are wonderfully simple but oh-so effective – simply drape in relaxed swags for romantic illumination after the sun goes down… If you’re feeling extravagant, then buddy up your scheme with this clever Elsa Outdoor Floor Lamp, £100, also from Cox & Cox (above) – lit or unlit, this scallop detailed hero piece will add an enchanted feature to your al fresco space.

    With such heart-warming buys to spice up the seasonal turn – extended evenings of outdoors leisure long may you continue..!

     

     

     

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    Enjoy a healthy yoga retreat

    by  • 23/09/2016 • 0 Comments

    Enjoy a yoga holidayIt’s the perfect time of year to book a rejuvenating yoga break! We’ve discovered three of the best places to stretch out in mindfulness and relax with some me-time in a gorgeous country setting…

    Split Farthing Hall, North Yorkshire
    Set between the stunning Yorkshire Dales and the magnificent North York Moors, the Raw Horizons wellbeing retreat has a strong focus on yoga, and is an ideal place to rest and renew body and mind. Exclusive to women, courses include yoga, and guidance on achieving a balanced healthy lifestyle. The estate’s Georgian manor has six stylish bedrooms with Egyptian cotton bed linen, fluffy towels, cosy bathrobes and natural bath products. Book a Yoga & Relaxation package which includes two nights accommodation, three Kundalini yoga sessions, two mid-morning yoga sessions and evening wind-down time, plus wholesome meals throughout your stay.

    The Clover Mill, Worcestershire
    Settle into this boutique-style Ayurvedic spa retreat for guests with yoga classes, bespoke treatments and expert help towards a feeling of wellbeing and escapism from busy lives. In this restful country landscape, innovative eco lodges with timber-clad designs and earthy tones compliment the lakeside views and spa facilities . Ayurveda packages range from a weekend retreat to three night or five night stays, which include a personal dosha assessment, meals prepared fresh from ingredients in the vegetable garden and daily yoga and relaxation classes.

    Eco Yoga, Argyll
    This hillside retreat offers a healthy sustainable lifestyle with a yoga experience among Scottish woodland, lochs and rivers. Local crafts and reclaimed finds add a rustic feel to this hideaway. Choose from a family sized bothy or a simple guest room. A large communal space includes a kitchen, showers and spa facilities including a hot tub in a glass dome and the lure of a bubble bath by a waterfall… Cook up a meal in the self-catering kitchen or head to the nearby village of Kilmartin for further dining and shopping. Try yoga poses outdoors or stretch in the heated studio which has river and countryside views.

    Have you visited a yoga retreat? We would love to hear more about your experience…

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    Rice puds with spicy apple jam

    by  • 22/09/2016 • 0 Comments

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    Inspired by National Rice Week, we couldn’t resist this fruity rice pud recipe – not to mention the fact that it’s prime apple season! Despite it’s long cooking time it’s so simple to make. Smooth, creamy and with a hint of spice, it’s worth the wait…

    Serves 6

    For the rice pudding:
    150g pudding rice
    2x400g cans of coconut milk
    75g caster sugar
    250ml soya milk

    For the compote:
    20g pure sunflower spread
    4 Cox or Braeburn apples, cored and cut into small chunks
    75g sultanas or raisins
    3 tbsp plum jam, or use your favourite flavour
    Good pinch of mixed spice, plus extra to sprinkle

    1 Melt the sunflower spread in a pan, add the apple and cook for 8 mins until soft and golden. Add the sultanas, jam, spice and 6tbsp water and cook for 5 minutes.

    2 Meanwhile, mix the pudding ingredients together in an ovenproof dish. Bake at 130C, gas 1, for 1 hour 30 mins, stirring occasionally. Serve with the fruit.

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    Meet Sami Couper

    by  • 21/09/2016 • 0 Comments

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    Designer Sami uses specialised dying and painting techniques to bring humble linen to life, creating the most beautiful cushions, make up bags and kitchen textiles, all available to buy from Not On The High Street.

    How did your business come about?
    Art and interiors was always more of a hobby for me. I made my own jewellery, renovated a few houses and designed my own furnishings. Friends and family would always ask where they could buy the things I’d made, and eventually I decided to turn my hobby into a business.

    What’s your working space like?
    When the weather permits I love being able to dye and paint in the garden, but most of the work is done in my home studio. It gets the sun all day and I have my table under the window. The room is filled with stacks and rolls of fabric, cushions and feathers as well as tins of knick-knacks that I’ve collected for inspiration.

    What inspires you?
    I grew up by the sea on the beautiful island of Tasmania, in a rambling old shipyard. It gave me an appreciation of nature and natural forms but also showed me the beauty in manmade materials like steel and concrete. Some of my first designs were made from salvaged finds from my Dad’s old ships and bits found in boat sheds.

    What materials do you choose to work with any why?
    Linen is my ultimate fabric to work with. I love the way it feels and how it wears. It lasts a lifetime and actually improves with age.

    What’s your favourite piece and why?
    My ombre indigo and natural linen cushion (above, £34). The colours look great in any room; deep notes of grey combined with a textured finish, which softens and becomes more comfortable over time.

    What makes your products special?
    Each piece is individually hand-dyed and painted by me in my home studio, making every item truly unique.

    Describe your interior style.
    I sit somewhere between rustic and modern. My house is filled with natural materials and textiles in muted tones, with odd pops of colour and texture. I love things that tell a story, as well as timeless, well-made pieces.

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    Sleeping beauty

    by  • 20/09/2016 • 0 Comments

    Country bedroom

    Have you noticed how dark it is first thing in the morning now? If you’re struggling to get out of  bed, you may be in the mood to revamp your bedroom and make it as cosy as possible, ready for hibernating when the days get shorter and chillier.

    This gorgeous country bedroom, with its lovely autumnal feel, will provide plenty of inspiration. It combines French chic and rustic charm, and exudes that feeling of cosiness and comfort that’s just right for hunkering down.

    The beautiful damask wallpaper makes an ornate backdrop to the elegant bed, the Camille, from The Cotswold Company. Its limewashed finish adds to the relaxed, lived-in look, while neutral upholstery complements it beautifully, with button detailing injecting an opulent touch. Dress the bed with crisp white bedlinen and a deep gold throw to add a pop of autumnal colour.

    Then go for a stylish co-ordinated look by choosing limewashed furniture from the same Camille range to create a relaxing haven. The chest of drawers and bedside chest have charming antique-style button handles that add to the feel of time gone by.

    Keep the look pared back with wooden floorboards for a classic rustic feel.

     

     

     

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    Upcycle and stencil a hessian rug

    by  • 18/09/2016 • 0 Comments

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    With muddy boot season drawing ever closer, we love this unique upcycle idea, transforming a durable and hardwearing hessian sack into a practical rug for well-trodden hallways. A touch of pretty country flair is easily added with a pretty paint stencilled decoration.

    Use a stitch unpicked to undo the side seams of the sack, then iron the fabric flat. Create a fringe along the two shorter edges by pulling out threads to fray the edges – our fringe measured 5cm. Make a 2cm hem along both long edges by machine stitching or using iron-on hemming tape. Iron once again before adding the stencilled decoration.

    Use masking tape to hold your stencil in position on the rug and, using a stencil brush, dab chalk paint onto the surface, taking care near the edges of the cut-out shape so the colour doesn’t run (it’s worth practising on scraps of similar fabric first). Untape the stencil, reposition and repeat if desired.

    We added a stripe border along the long edges by marking off with masking tape and painting along the edge of the tape. Leave to dry.

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