• The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – Christmas tree toppers

    by  • 03/12/2016 • 0 Comments

    tree-toppers-blog-3Joyful greetings all! This weekend we’re all in a feisty flurry to hunt down, claim and bah-humbug back the PERFECT Christmas spruce to stand proud and transfix us through the merry weeks..! After dressing you’re festive addition to the nines, it’s only right that show stopper efforts should be crowned with the ultimate finishing touch… We’ve rounded-up a treat of tree toppers to help you top the alpine decorating trumps!

    Put the Christmas cherry on top and turn up the cheer with a quirky and festively fun finishing touch! We love this Knitted Santa Hat Tree Topper (above), £18, by Lauren Aston at Notonthehighstreet.com. Handknit on giant needles, this chunky charmer features a fluffy white pompom and is made from 100% Merino wool – it’s the must-have item that doubles up as a novelty bottle cosy to conceal cheeky tipples!

    tree-toppers-blog-2Keep things rural and rustic with a Scandinavian inspired tree stopper that will add a touch of understated beauty to your visiting evergreen. This Zinc Star Tree Topper (above), is a bargain £6, from Rowen & Wren. Modern Nordic in nature with a timeless appeal – it’s the perfect pick to crown your proud pine with stylish simplicity.

    tree-toppers-blog-1Top off your tree decorating efforts with a bespoke British wonder! This fabulous Custom Word Wire Christmas Tree Topper (above), £22, from The Letter Loft, is lovingly hand-bent and welded with stainless steel by a devoted father and daughter team. Available in a gorgeous selection of powder-coated colours and on-trend metallics – it’s the typography with a difference that will give your traditional fairy a run for her money!

    Happy decorating all – here’s hoping for not too many broken baubles!




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    The Place to Eat…

    by  • 02/12/2016 • 0 Comments

    The Place to EatIt’s time to visit a stylish and cosy winter pub… We love The Plough at Kelmscott which has been beautifully refurbished by owners Sebastian and Lana Snow – it’s the perfect place for friends and foodies to enjoy delicious food and fireside drinks this season.

    Location The Plough is set in a Grade II listed Cotswold stone house in the pretty village of Kelmscott in West Oxfordshire.

    Style It’s cool and rustic. Enjoy drinks at The Hideaway Bar, housed in a refurbished stable block, overlooking the beer garden. Love the quirky, vintage and antique finds which harmonise beautifully with recycled timbers, muted paint shades of sage, olive, grey and white, and original period features, to give a relaxed style and character.

    Rooms Stay over in one of 7 individually-styled rooms with king size beds from £90 a night B&B.

    Food Savour the delicious daily changing à la carte menu of modern British comfort cooking showcasing the best locally sourced Cotswolds produce available, including pork from Kelmscott, vegetables from Evesham and game from local estates. Seasonal dishes range from starters of crayfish, avocado and cucumber cocktail with melba toast, to ham hock and artichoke terrine with piccalilli and mains include leg of lamb hotpot, a mixed grill, skillet roast whole plaice, with desserts such as steamed marmalade pudding and custard. There’s an all-day bar menu too featuring hog’s pudding scotch egg, devilled whitebait, potted crab, buck rarebit, scampi in a basket and spam fritters with pineapple relish,

    Drinks There’s a selection of craft ales, lagers, ciders and juices, plus a wine list with French classics and the best of the New World.

    Nearby Enjoy easy walks from the doorstep as Kelmscott is along a stretch of the Thames path with countryside views all around. Or  take the short stroll to Kelmscott Manor, the former home of designer, William Morris.

    Where is your favourite foodie inn? We would love to hear more about it…

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    Gingerbread Flapjacks

    by  • 01/12/2016 • 0 Comments


    What better way could there be to celebrate the beginning of the festive season than with some warming ginger and comforting oats?! Nibble these treats with a freshly brewed pot of tea for the ultimate winter afternoon snack.

    Makes 16

    300g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
    100g caster sugar
    200g golden syrup

    100g black treacle
    2 tsp ground ginger
    20g crystallised ginger, finely chopped, plus extra to decorate
    550g porridge oats
    100g raisins
    200g white chocolate, broken up
    soft gold edible pearls, to decorate

    1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4. Grease and line the base and sides of a shallow baking tin around 22cm square with a larger square of baking parchment, pressing it into the corners to fit.
    2.  Put the butter, sugar, syrup, treacle, ground ginger and crystallised ginger in a pan and heat gently to melt the butter. Remove from the heat and stir in the oats and raisins. Mix well and spoon into the tin, pressing down gently with the back of a damp spoon.
    3. Bake for about 30 minutes or until just beginning to look cooked around the edges. The flapjack will still look soft in the centre but will firm up on cooling. Leave in the tin to cool.
    4. Melt the chocolate, either in a heatproof bowl resting over (not in)
      a pan of hot water or in short bursts in the microwave. Remove the cold flapjack from the tin and spread with the chocolate. Sprinkle with extra crystallised ginger and gold pearls. Leave to set before cutting into squares.
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    Hang a beautiful handmade tree decoration

    by  • 30/11/2016 • 0 Comments


    Its tree-decorating time! Treat yourself to an extra special decoration this year from Angel Ceramics (available to buy from the National Trust), founded in 2008 by husband and wife team Becky and Michael. From their Devonshire studio, they hand-make porcelain robins, angels, snowflakes and more, all beautifully finished with a festive red ribbon. Becky tells us more…

    How did your business come about?
    It started with a porcelain heart necklace I’d made and worn to my son’s school. I had multiple orders as a result, which gave me the confidence to expand and create other products.

    What makes your decorations unique?
    Each one is made from scratch. We roll, cut, decorate and glaze all by hand, giving all our attention to the detail. It may sound cheesy, but every piece is made with love. All our clay and glazes are sourced locally wherever possible, too.

    What inspires you?
    So many things! As well as our local surroundings, it would be the ceaseless support that I’ve had from my family. Setting up any business from scratch is hard and I know I couldn’t have achieved this without them.

    What’s coming up for you in 2017?
    It’ll be our most exciting year so far as we’re expanding our festive range with two exclusive new collections: Twelve Days of Christmas and Winter Wildlife. We are also developing our lighting, creating chandeliers and installations out of porcelain.

    What do you love about Christmas in the country?
    Where we live in the coastal town of Budleigh Salterton, Christmas is such a special time of year, with the late night shopping and the traditional Christmas morning swim. It has a charming un-spoilt character that is incredibly special.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Detail, design and passion.


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    Festive flair

    by  • 29/11/2016 • 0 Comments

    Country Christmas table

    Christmas is coming… and we’re loving the chalet chic look of this gorgeous country dining room. All that’s needed is a white Christmas for a truly authentic finishing touch…

    Reclaimed timber walls are all the rage, but you can use a wood-effect wallpaper if you prefer – Rockett St George and Wallpaper Direct have great ranges – to set the scene for a cosy Christmas. This look demands bare wooden floorboards but you can warm them up with toasty sheepskin rugs, or layer the rugs on a rustic wooden bench (the Gray & Willow Gilmore bench, from House of Fraser) to create a comfy yet informal look.

    The hero piece of the scheme is the Gray & Willow Gilmore Grand Fixed dining table (available from House of Fraser), which epitomises clean-lined Scandi simplicity, and provides enough space to seat everyone for a champagne breakfast or festive feast. Vintage Windsor chairs in a distressed white finish keep the look casual.

    Decorate the table with flickering candles, gleaming glassware filled with pine cones, beautiful baubles and a garland of foliage – fresh is perfect for scenting the air – and hang up fairy lights decorated with mercury glass acorns for a country Christmas with a glam edge. (Carved wooden reindeer decoration, Gray & Willow glassware, Gray & Willow stone dinnerware, champagne sparkle napkins, metal lanterns, Gray & Willow marble cake stand, Gray & Willow Pebble dinnerware, sleeping bear decoration, polar bear cloche, Gray & Willow hammered tumbler, mouse with snowball decoration, gold frankincense and myrrh votive trio, cinnamon and ginger five wick botanical candle, sheepskin rugs, star lights  and mercury acorns; all House of Fraser.)

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    Hang a twinkling festive lantern

    by  • 27/11/2016 • 0 Comments


    Lights, glitter, pine cones and sparkling baubles all come together to create a pretty decoration idea for the porch this Christmas…

    To start, apply a small amount of PVA glue to the pine cones, then sprinkle over some glitter and leave to one side to dry. Place battery-operated LED copper wire lights inside some brass lanterns, then layer up with the baubles and cones to create the desired effect. Hang the lanterns from holders, either inside your home or near your front door to welcome visitors!


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    Country Homes & Interiors Christmas show opens today!

    by  • 25/11/2016 • 0 Comments


    Today’s the day we’ve all been waiting for… the first ever Country Homes & Interiors Christmas show has officially opened it’s doors! Visitors can browse over 100 stands in beautifully styled marquees in the grounds of Stonor Park Manor House, near Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire from today (25th Nov) until Sunday (27th Nov).

    There’s creative and crafted festive gifts on offer, plus home, decorating and lifestyle products from our favourite makers and brands. Not to mention demonstrations from new and exciting country businesses – it’s all going on!

    We’ll be posting regular updates on all the festive fun across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram over the next couple of days, so keep your eyes peeled for #countryhomeschristmas. See you there!

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    Follow a Christmas light trail…

    by  • 25/11/2016 • 0 Comments

    follow a christmas light trail

    Enjoy the magic of the festive season with a magical light trail. We’ve found three of the best illuminations to get that festive feeling in the most picturesque settings…

    Christmas at Kew, Surrey
    From 23 November to 2 January, Kew Gardens emerges into a magical trail of colour and light for the festive season. Walk a mile-long illuminated trail inspired by the gardens and see a breathtaking display of lights along this botanical wonderland, including a choir of trees, a Victorian carousel for younger visitors to enjoy, a reflective light and music on the Palm House Pond, plus Wolfgang Buttress’ spectacular Hive installation which glows in to the night. At the end of the trail, enjoy toasted marshmallows, hot chocolate and festive shopping. Book tickets here.

    Music & Lights, Yorkshire
    Head to Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Water for that festive feeling on a cold winter’s afternoon. Enjoy mulled wine and savoury treats at the visitor centre, then wander through the magnificent estate and deer park where trees are all aglow and the Cistercian abbey is lit up with every colour in the rainbow! Be sure to visit the cellarium to join the harmony of a live music performance… Estate admission fee only, Music & Lights takes place on selected dates from 26 November to 31 December, no need to book.

    Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire
    Amble into the stunning forest and follow the accessible trail which highlights the striking natural structures of Westonbirt’s trees as they’re beautifully illuminated against the dark night sky. Visit on Friday, Saturday or Sunday evenings from 25 November to 18 December. Advance booking essential with timed entries. Book tickets here.

    Want more inspiration for weekends in the country? Sign up for your weekly Country Post!

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    Subscribe at our show for amazing savings

    by  • 24/11/2016 • 0 Comments


    Visiting our Christmas show this weekend? We hope you’re looking forward to it, we are! Here’s a little festive tip from us to you…

    Come and see us on the Country Homes & Interiors stand (opposite the Christmas forest) to receive a very special show subscription offer. Sign up on the day and get 12 issues for just £27. That’s just £2.25 an issue, a massive saving of 52%! It’s a great gift idea, and at that price, you can treat yourself, too. Hurrah!

    Country Homes & Interiors Christmas show is taking place 25-27 November at Stonor Park, Oxfordshire. Not got tickets yet? Buy them online here.


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    See on-stand demonstrations at our Christmas show

    by  • 23/11/2016 • 0 Comments


    The Country Homes & Interiors Christmas show (25-27 Nov at Stonor Park, Oxfordshire) is only days away and we’re readying ourselves for a weekend of creativity, with on-stand demonstrations from the inspirational talent behind the UK’s finest boutique brands…

    Have a go at pheasant feather painting (above, top), a technique created and developed by artist Clare Brownlow, having stumbled across it at her parents’ kitchen table in Norfolk. She had forgotten to pack any art supplies so, in a quiet moment, decided to take up a pheasant feather from her father’s stash and, using his fountain pen ink, put ‘quill’ to paper!

    Enjoy quick-make wreath demonstrations with florist Kate Healy, founder of florist Rhubarb & Roses. She’ll be on hand with her team, demonstrating how to use dried fruits, foliage, cones and berries to create your own festive woodland foliage (above, bottom left).

    Mother and daughter duo Michelle and Stephanie of Witts Design use their hand-dyed and screen-printed textiles to create the most beautiful home accessories. Together they’ll show you how to make unique baubles and wreathes (above, bottom right) – the perfect gift for family and friends.

    Feeling inspired? There’s plenty more to see and do throughout the weekend, including block printing with Yateley Papers, needle felting with Mosney Mill and landscape painting with Cathy Mcclymont – phew!

    Not booked yet? Click here to buy your tickets online.

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    Get set for Christmas with Laura Ashley

    by  • 22/11/2016 • 0 Comments

    Feeling festive? Then you’ll love the classic silver collection from Laura Ashley that epitomises Christmas elegance.


    Of course, the tree has to be the star of the show and beautiful decorations in classic silver, glass and white really bring it to life. Small wreathes made of bells and glittery stars add interest, while reflective baubles bounce light around the room.


    An extravagant Christmas lunch deserves a show-stopping setting. A colour palette of crisp white and shimmery silver is an instant way to create a winter woodland feel. Put a little love into your table décor with elegant runners, beaded placemats and gorgeous glassware, not forgetting the crackers of course!


    There’s something about Christmas lighting that makes a room so warm and welcoming. Create ambience with beautifully lit wreathes, glowing snow globes and flickering fairy lights, or for something a bit more playful, novelty light-up reindeer and snowmen capture the cheery mood of the season perfectly.

    Don’t forget, Laura Ashley will be joining us at our Country Homes & Interiors Christmas show at Stonor Park, Oxfordshire on 25-27 November, decorating trees in our woodland forest, where baubles shimmer and the air smells of fresh pine! Buy your tickets online here.

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    A warm welcome

    by  • 22/11/2016 • 0 Comments

    Country bedroom

    Pave the way for a warm welcome if you’ve got guests coming to stay for Christmas with this beautiful mid-winter country bedroom decorating scheme. Combining a hint of rustic barn chic with a twist of hotel luxe, this look is perfect for providing a toasty atmosphere.

    A pared-back palette of soft greys easily combines with limewashed wooden furniture to create a tranquil and restful mood. The cosy fabrics used are part of Ian Mankin‘s Ashfield wool collection – the classic motifs include a paisley, houndstooth, stylised damask and honeycomb-inspired geometric, as well as Ian Mankin’s signature checks, stripes and plains, and the different patterns blend together beautifully. Ashfield is woven from melange yarns using Shetland wool spun at one of the few remaining wool mills in the Pennines.

    The focal point of the bedroom is the smartly striped oversized headboard covered in Stanley Grey, while a pretty throw in honeycomb-inspired Gisburn Grey ensures guests will stay snuggly and warm through the  night.  Cushions in Ripon Grey houndstooth, subtly striped Sutton Grey and damask Malham Grey introduce extra interest. Layer an opulent reindeer skin on the bed for a stunning Scandi finishing touch.

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