• Style a day-to-night decoration

    by  • 24/05/2015 • 0 Comments

    Ready_1363 08a 16-2

    You can’t go wrong with a beautiful flower arrangement when it comes to country-inspired décor. We’ve fallen for this cute little styling idea from our June issue, a chic way to showcase blooms at their best. It couldn’t be easier – simply pop a pastel-coloured vase into a scandi-style lantern; ours is £24.99 Homesense. For an elegant evening feel, simply exchange it for glass jar candles (from £7.99, Yankee Candle). Decorate them with twine and dried flowers to create a rustic centrepiece or mantle display.

    NB never leave burning candles unattended.

    If you like this idea, we’ve got lots more easy craft projects to inspire you on the Country Homes & Interiors homepage.

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    Be garden party ready…

    by  • 23/05/2015 • 0 Comments

    With the sun playing hide and seek it’s hard to plan outdoor soirees. Here at Country Homes & Interiors HQ we say carry on regardless, invest in summer must-haves now to be ready at a moments notice for stylish alfresco dining.

    Watch our latest video below for a round up of our favourite garden party buys…

    The current hero of any party is the drinks dispenser. The new floral design at Marks & Spencer has won our affections – practical in acrylic and just enough of a tropical twist to make us feel suitably in sunshine/holiday mode.

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    Visit a bluebell wood

    by  • 22/05/2015 • 0 Comments

    Bluebell Woods | Country DaysWith the spring bank holiday on the way, it’s the perfect time to head out for a leisurely country walk and catch a final glimpse of vibrant bluebells. Let the feel-good factor sink in as heady scents fill the air and carpets of bluebells add a splash of colour to these enchanting places… 

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    Celebrate Vegetarian Week

    by  • 21/05/2015 • 0 Comments

    Mediterranean wild rice salad

    This week is National Vegetarian Week (18th – 24th May). How about serving this tangy fennel and artichoke salad with olives and caper berries? It’s a great alternative to Greek salad and so easy to do. The large caper berries provide a salty and tangy contrast to the sweetness of the roasted vegetables, and best of all it’s super healthy [Serves 2]

    ½ fennel bulb, cut into bite-sized pieces
    1 large red onion, cut into bite-sized pieces
    160g chestnut mushrooms, cut into bite-sized pieces
    1 courgette, cut into bite-sized pieces
    ½ red pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
    2 tbsp olive oil
    a few thyme leaves
    sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    80g wild rice
    handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
    4 marinated artichoke hearts, cut into bite-sized pieces
    80g black and green olives, halved
    12 large caper berries
    finely grated zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
    handful of basil leaves
    4 tbsp roughly chopped parsley leaves

    1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Place the fennel, onion, mushrooms, courgette and red pepper in a roasting tray, drizzle with the oil, sprinkle on the thyme, salt and pepper and roast for about 45 minutes until all the vegetables are cooked. Stir halfway through.

    2 Meanwhile, cook the rice according to packet instructions. Drain and set aside. When the vegetables are cooked, mix in the tomatoes, artichokes, olives, caper berries and lemon zest. Now mix these with the rice and stir in the lemon juice and herbs. Serve warm or cold.

    *Recipe taken from Thrive on Five by Nina & Jo Littler and Randi Glenn (Quadrille, £16.99)
    Photograph by Dan Jones



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    Love British wool

    by  • 20/05/2015 • 0 Comments

    Marie Wallin | Country Days | Country Homes and InteriorsMarie was Head Designer at renowned knitting yarn brand Rowan for nine years before setting up her own business in 2013 – Marie Wallin Designs Ltd. As well as self-publishing books and hosting workshops, she sells gorgeous knitting kits complete with pattern and yarn. She chats to us about her passion for British wool…

    What inspires your beautiful designs?
    I’m fortunate as lots of things inspire and interest me! Textiles, folk art, ceramic and the British countryside are just some of my favourites.

    What makes your design company special?
    I’ve always been very keen to promote and support British wool wherever I can. In my role as Rowan’s Head Designer, I was very involved in the start of their ethical brand Purelife. When it comes to my own collections I make a point of only using wool and wool blended yarns such as British Sheep Breeds Chunky. It’s shorn and blended from classic British sheep breeds: Bluefaced Leicester, Black Welsh, Jacob, Suffolk, Shetland, Dark Grey Welsh and Masham.

    In what way do you support the Campaign for Wool?
    I’ve been involved in it every year since it began in 2009 and have done lots of interesting things! I’ve produced specific designs for their LoveWoolUK campaign including two sheep cushions featuring a Bluefaced Leicester and Herdwick ram. My work has been exhibited at the Wool Interiors exhibition at Southwark cathedral and I’ve also run a couple of hand knitting workshops from there as well.

    Tell us a bit about your workshops.
    I run them from a big hall in my home village of Hoby, rural Leicestershire. My aim is to inspire people and help them to make something special, whilst developing their creative hand knit and crochet skills. Everyone also has a delicious lunch made from local produce as well as lots of tea and homebaked cake!

    Describe your creative style in three words.
    Creative design in beautiful colours… it’s more than three words – sorry!

    Do you run a small country business? Enter the My Country Business Awards 2015 by the closing date of Wednesday 10 June 2015 for the chance to win a money-can’t-buy package of advice from leading industry experts and mentors. Click here for details.

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    Celebrate in a gorgeous garden room

    by  • 19/05/2015 • 0 Comments

    country garden room

    The fabulous Chelsea Flower Show’s on and here at Country Days we’re inspired by gardening gorgeousness.

    Bringing the outdoors in is big in interiors at this time of year, and here’s the perfect way to do it by turning your conservatory into a country dining room. This dreamy space has a magical quality that makes it the perfect backdrop to tea parties and special celebrations.

    The furniture in the scheme takes its inspiration from the room’s white framework. Scandi-style pieces (the Dahlia Ivory collection from Marks & Spencer), which can be used outdoors too, keep the look light and airy, while the square design mirrors the shape of the windowpanes.

    Pretty floral fabrics are used to add softness and link with the garden theme. Mixing and matching fabrics in similar colourways is a key trend and here a ditsy floral tablecloth is teamed with a jolly vintage-style floral on the seat pads. Rose pink tableware (from Marks & Spencer) takes pride of place on the tabletop, along with the jugful of blooms.

    Big up the natural element with trails of ivy (faux ivy can be used to achieve the same effect), while a candelabra decorated with ivy and fresh flowers makes a stunning centrepiece over the table.


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    Update fabrics with pretty potato prints

    by  • 17/05/2015 • 0 Comments

    Decorate fabrics with pretty potato prints

    Relive childhood crafting memories with this playful idea for updating tablecloths, tea towels and other home textiles. No fancy tools required, the humble potato comes into its own – with a firm texture it can easily be shaped into sturdy stamps and it’s smooth interior is perfect for coating in fabric paint.

    Create your design and blot away any moisture with a paper towel. For a homespun feel, use a knife to carve out rustic shapes such as this lovely leaf design featured in the June issue of Country Homes and Interiors. If you’re after a more structured look, invest in a cookie cutter or kitchen mould – Lakeland have a great selection including flowers, animals and decorative bunting.

    Spread a thin layer of fabric paint on a paper plate and place your potato shape-side down, moving it around to ensure an even coat. Wipe off excess paint from around the sides and press down firmly onto your fabric for five seconds.

    If you like this idea, we’ve got lots more easy craft projects to inspire you on the Country Homes & Interiors homepage.

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    Glorious gardening…

    by  • 16/05/2015 • 0 Comments

    It’s that time of year when we get giddy about gardens…all thanks to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. We’re excited that we’ll be going along to the show next week to support the many incredible talents exhibiting; we can’t wait to get some inspiration for our own plots.


    Our shopping video this week is inspired by this awe-inspiring show and our passion for gardening. Watch to see our favourite new garden buys, which are sure to make you smile…

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    Visit a country cottage garden

    by  • 15/05/2015 • 0 Comments

    Spring blooms aliums

    With the RHS Chelsea flower show on the way, we’re feeling inspired by pretty cottage gardens. Traditionally populated with veg, herbs, fruit and flowers, today’s gardens still give a nod to this English country style. Here are three of the most romantic cottage gardens designed in this way…

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    Chocolate and berry cheesecake

    by  • 14/05/2015 • 0 Comments

    chocolate berry cheesecake

    Here’s a real treat for the weekend, a double chocolate cheesecake with berries…

    250g chocolate biscuits such as Oreo’s
    125g blanched almonds
    120g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    100g good-quality dark chocolate
    100g good-quality milk chocolate
    500g cream cheese, softened
    250g light sour cream
    4 free-range eggs
    250g dark brown sugar
    3oo ml double cream, plus extra, whipped, to serve
    1 tablespoon amaretto

    For the berry sauce:
    250g fresh pitted cherries or sour cherries from a jar, drained well
    250g punnet strawberries, hulled and halved
    125g raspberries
    1 tbsp lime juice
    2 tbsps caster sugar

    Serves 8

    1 Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas 3 and grease and line the base and sides of a 22cm springform cake tin. Wrap the outside of the tin with foil, sealing it securely.

    2 In a food processor, whiz the biscuits and almonds to fine crumbs. Add the butter and pulse to combine. Press this mixture evenly into the base of the prepared tin and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

    3 Melt the dark and milk chocolate in a heatproof bowl that fits snugly over a saucepan of gently simmering water, then set aside to cool slightly.

    4 Beat the cream cheese and sour cream in a stand mixer on low-medium speed for 1-2 minutes until smooth and combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until incorporated. Add the brown sugar, cream and amaretto and beat on low speed for 1 minute. Beat in the melted chocolate until combined.

    5 Pour the batter onto the biscuit base and tap the tin gently on a flat surface to remove any bubbles. Place the cake tin in a large roasting tin and pour enough cold water in to come 2-3cm up the sides of the cake tin. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake for 1 ½  hours or until set at the edges with a slight wobble in the centre. Leave in the switched-off oven to cool for 1 hour with the door slightly ajar, then remove and cool to room temperature, before chilling in the fridge for 1 hour.

    6 Meanwhile, to make the berry sauce, place all the ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low-medium and simmer for 3 minutes or until the fruit is soft but still holding its shape. Drain for 5 minutes over a bowl, reserving the syrup. Place the syrup in the pan and simmer over a medium heat for 10 minutes or until thick and glossy, then gently fold into the fruit and set aside to cool completely.

    7 Sit the cheesecake on a large plate and remove the tin, then top with berry sauce and serve with whipped cream.

    *Recipe from What Katie Ate at the Weekend by Katie Quinn Davies (£25, Saltyard Books)




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    Love cottage-garden textiles

    by  • 13/05/2015 • 0 Comments

    Nicole Phillips | Country Days | Country Homes and Interiors

    Watercolour artist Nicole Phillips set up her country business in 2012. From her home in rural West Sussex, she designs a range of stunning home textiles including tea towels, hob covers, napkins and cushions, all inspired by the English countryside.

    What made you want to become a designer?
    I felt that I could bring something new and interesting to the home textiles market. There are a lot of plain-and-same designs out there with limited palettes and uninspired designs – I wanted to make people smile! Having a watercolour background has given me a unique perspective and has helped me to come up with fresh ideas.

    What inspires your designs?
    My inspiration always comes from the natural world and includes gardening in my cottage garden, picnicking on the South Downs, or beachcombing in West Wittering. Farm shops and local markets are also on my hit list and I often take things home to paint.

    What’s your working space like?
    It’s a little wooden clapboard office under an old apple tree in my garden, painted French grey. It’s filled with all the treasures and finds that have inspired me.

    What do you love about the countryside?
    It’s just so unexpected and varied. If you look hard enough you can see beauty in the smallest things. It could be a dried seed head or dewdrops on leaves – there is always something new to discover.

    Where are you happiest?
    By the sea. The sound of my children playing on the beach puts everything into perspective. Some of my best memories include beachcombing as a child and picnics with my family on the South coast.

    Describe your creative style in three words.
    Fresh, quirky and quality.

    Do you run a small country business? Enter the My Country Business Awards 2015 by the closing date of Wednesday 10 June 2015 for the chance to win a money-can’t-buy package of advice from leading industry experts and mentors. Click here for details.

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    Dig a flower bed…

    by  • 12/05/2015 • 0 Comments

    Floral country bedroom

    Country style and florals go hand in hand and we couldn’t resist this gorgeous country bedroom with its dreamy flower motif bedlinen and simple canopy hanging beneath the amazing vaulted ceiling.

    The bed should be the centrepiece of any bedroom, and this is a scheme that successfully teams rustic with refined.  A pretty floral duvet cover with matching pillowcases is guaranteed to create a feminine mood. This design, Connie by Christy, incorporates sateen for a luxurious feel and has a beautiful painterly motif that’s bang on trend and is the perfect way to bring the outdoors in. The colour palette of pink combined with neutrals, charcoal and a flash of chartreuse gives it a contemporary edge. Team with classic crisp white bedlinen with lace edging for a romantic feel. Then emphasise the airiness with a pared-back canopy – simply attach a length of linen or cotton to the back of the bed and casually drape from the beams for an effect that accentuates the vaulted ceiling.

    Mellow tones give the scheme a golden glow – wooden floorboards tone with the beams and carry through to the honey-toned linen curtains and natural fibre rug. Introduce a blush pink desk light and copper pendant to emphasise those warm tones, while adding a hint of vintage.

    Finally, a mother of pearl inlay bedside chest harmonises beautifully with the bedlinen palette, adding an exotic touch of luxe.

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