• Archive for September, 2012

    Wallpaper by Deborah Bowness

    by  • 28/09/2012 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Earlier this week I went along to Decorex to view all the latest products, wallpaper and fabric collections from the world of interiors – it’s a great way to get inspired for our spring decorating stories. One stand in particular that caught my attention was Deborah Bowness with her uplifting display of stunning floral wallpapers.

    Deborah is renowned for her brilliant collection of Trompe L’oeil designs featuring vintage inspired homewares, from floor lamps to shelves stacked with antique books. Hand made in Yorkshire using a combination of digital printing, silk-screen printing and free hand painting, every piece is unique giving her work its lovely artistic quality.

    I’m a big fan of the Domino range, shown below, which are smaller panels of her designs that act as pieces of art rather than whole rolls of feature wallpaper – the concept being to create a bold statement without being overwhelming. I love how these pretty bouquets, from the Flora & Fauna collection, are shown in elegant gold frames – a great idea don’t you think?

    From left, Assymetrical Gladioli domino, H114cm by W84cm, £185; Gay Flowers domino, H114cm by W84cm, £185, both Flora & Fauna collection by Deborah Bowness.

    From left, Assymetrical Gladioli domino, H114cm by W84cm, £185; Gay Flowers domino, H114cm by W84cm, £185, both Flora & Fauna collection by Deborah Bowness.

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    Lunch with Jamie Oliver

    by  • 27/09/2012 • Country food • 0 Comments

    It was pouring with rain on Monday as I set off for lunch at Jamie Oliver’s new pop-up Fifteen restaurant at John Lewis but as you can imagine the gloom soon lifted when the food started arriving. With 50% of the profits going to the Better Food Foundation, it’s all in a good cause too. Also launching was a range of new Fifteen products like these oven mitts and tea towels, along with foodie gifts such as jars of giant green olives (served as an appetiser at the lunch with a lovely dense roasted tomato focaccia and bowls of Apulia Blend olive oil from Puglia). It was a busy day for Jamie, who was also demonstrating the new HomeCooker, which he co-created with Philips. Sold exclusively at John Lewis, it stirs, melts, simmers, stews, boils, steams, fries and sautes, and has a cutting tower which shreds, slices and juliennes directly into the pan. Everything, in fact, to make life easier. Just the thing to add to my wish list…

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    How to make a headboard slip cover

    by  • 26/09/2012 • Country craft • 0 Comments

    This lovely Country Homes & Interiors bedroom features in our out-very-soon November issue and has a wonderful feel of autumn about it.

    The headboard cover is made in a beautiful Lewis & Wood fabric called Royal Oak and is so easy to make yourself. It’s made from two pieces of fabric, rounded neatly at the corners and hemmed – just slip it in place over an upholstered headboard.

    It’s a great way to bring a seasonal feel to a room without redecorating or spending lots of money. Why not see what fabric you’ve got in your cupboard and give it a go?

    If you like this idea we have lots more easy craft projects for you to try.

    Choose an eyecatching design and make the bed the focal point of your room

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    In conversation with Lewis & Wood

    by  • 25/09/2012 • Country business, Country moment, Country style • 0 Comments

    The interiors event Focus 12 is on now in London, showcasing the latest fabric, wallpaper and furnishings collections. As part of the Access All Areas events at Chelsea Harbour’s Design Centre, I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephen Lewis of Gloucester-based business Lewis & Wood. In front of a select audience in Lewis & Wood’s beautiful new showroom, Stephen and I chatted about the background to this interesting and eclectic company and how it has evolved over the last 18 years.

    Four new collections have just been launched – Little Prints, Stockholm Stitch, Wild Thing and Etienne – all of which have the personality and spirit that this creative interiors business is renowned for. My favourite…

    Wild Thing in copper cobalt, Lewis & Wood, £96 per metre

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    Scandi style bedroom

    by  • 24/09/2012 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Scandi style is definitely one of my favourites with its light, bright and oh-so-clean good looks. This simple, pared back country bedroom caught my eye because I love the way vibrant pops of cosy reds have been added to warm up the white palette – just what you need when there’s an autumn chill in the air. The cotton seersucker striped bedlinen from Christy brings an informal edge to the elegant and decorative white bed, while the ditsy floral patterned plates are a pretty way of emphasising the country look. Rustic limed floorboards mirror the cladding and are the perfect finishing touch.

    Natalie bedlinen from Christy adds a cosy pop of colour. Prices start at £22 for an Oxford pillowcase and £79 for a single duvet

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    The Magic Notebook

    by  • 21/09/2012 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Although term time is already well underway, I’m still channelling that back to school feeling this week. I remember the excitement of packing my satchel bag with fresh notebooks and a pencil case filled to the brim with unsharpened pencils and shiny new pens.

    I recently discovered The Magic Notebook, a fabulous website filled with all the simple things from my school days that I still adore – specializing in beautiful notebooks, pencils, pens, decorative tapes and illustrated diaries. As a previously confessed stationery geek, you can be assured that my work bag will be stylishly stocked from here on!

    1. Decorative tapes, from £5.75; 2. Beige letter set, £1.95; 3. Rhombus blue pocketbook, £12.50; Iconic pencil sets of 3, £3.25 each, all The Magic Notebook.

    1. Decorative tapes, from £5.75; 2. Beige letter set, £1.95; 3. Rhombus blue pocketbook, £12.50; Iconic pencil sets of 3, £3.25 each, all The Magic Notebook.

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    A real proper cake

    by  • 20/09/2012 • Country food, Uncategorized • 0 Comments

    Lemon Victoria Sponge

    Lemon Victoria Sandwich Cake

    I love visiting National Trust properties and stepping back to a time where interiors featured acres of polished wood panelling, heavy textured brocades and wonderful displays of collector’s ephemera, taking a turn around the gardens, then of course heading for the tearoom. The NT has got the market sewn up when it comes to proper cakes so I couldn’t wait to see their beautiful new Simply Baking book, which comes out today. It lives up to expectations and I was hard pushed to choose just one cake, as they all look stunning. In the end I opted for this luxurious lemony take on a good old fashioned Victoria Sandwich. This recipe serves 8 (dainty slice) or 6 (good wedge) and you will need…

    225g butter, softened
    225g caster sugar
    finely grated zest and juice of 4 lemons
    4 medium organic eggs
    225g self-raising flour, sifted
    6 tablespoons milk
    finely grated zest and juice of 3 lemons
    170g butter, softened
    125g icing sugar, sifted
    sugared primroses and lemon slices

    1 Preheat the oven to fan 170°C/gas 4. Lightly oil two 18cm/7in sandwich tins. Line the base of each with baking parchment.

    2 To make the sponge cake, cream the softened butter and sugar together in a large bowl, using a wooden spoon or electric whisk, until pale and fluffy. Add the grated lemon zest.

    3 Break the eggs into a jug, roughly beat with a fork and whisk a little at a time into the creamed butter. If the mixture begins to curdle, add 2 tablespoons flour. Once all the eggs have been whisked into the mixture, use a flat metal spoon to gently fold in the remaining flour in three batches. Loosen the mixture with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 6 tablespoons milk, so that the mixture drops off the spoon in soft blobs. Quickly divide the mixture between the tins and smooth the tops. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the cakes are well risen, golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed with a fingertip.

    4 Place on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then, using a knife, gently loosen the sides of each cake from its tin. Turn out, peel off the baking paper, and leave to cool.

    5 To make the lemon butter cream, place the lemon zest, butter and icing sugar in a mixing bowl. Using an electric whisk, beat thoroughly until light and fluffy. Then gradually whisk in 4½ tablespoons lemon juice.

    6 Once the cakes are cold, spread a third of the butter cream on one of the cakes. Sandwich the other cake on top, baked-side up. Spread another third of the cream on the top and the remaining third around the sides of the cake. Chill for 30 minutes to set the butter cream. Decorate with sugared primroses or cut a lemon in half lengthways, and then cut into thin slices.

    Recipe taken from National Trust Simply Baking by Sybil Kapoor (£25, National Trust Books) http://www.anovabooks.com/simply-baking

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    Cabbages and rabbits

    by  • 19/09/2012 • Country style • 0 Comments

    I’m a bit rabbit mad so when I saw the new range by Thornback & Peel featuring cushions and coasters with rabbits running through the cabbage patch I thought it was great decorating trend. Other designs featured in our October trend special are a wonderful woodblock fabric called Brightwood by Colefax and Fowler, which is very Peter Rabbit!

    For the pick of our other favourite Autumn country decorating trends see pages 71 to 81 in the October issue. Horse fans will be delighted by the wallpapers, cushions and accessories that bring the Equestrian decorating trend right up to date. We also dabble with the trend for outsize leaf motifs in new softer, rainwater shades. Buttons and bobbins also feature in vintage shades of pink and baby blue especially on wallpapers and in artwork. Finally our last trend, a new twist on the classic toile fabrics, which have been re coloured and reworked into new fresh designs. My personal favourite is Lamorna Cove by Lewis & Wood, which has seals, seahorses and leaping fish.

    This colour palette takes its inspiration from the allotment.

    This colour palette takes its inspiration from the allotment.

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    New England style kitchen

    by  • 18/09/2012 • Country style, Uncategorized • 2 Comments

    The timber clad walls in this kitchen remind me of the lovely house of Michele Meyer that we featured in last September’s issue of Country Homes & Interiors, and it’s a look I love (in fact I’d really like it in my own kitchen!).

    It evokes a timeless New England feel, and the off-white palette creates a lovely light and airy atmosphere. Don’t you just love those fantastic statement lights over the central island? And, even if you look closely, you won’t be able to spot that the flooring isn’t real stone but a clever Bath stone lookalike from Karndean’s vinyl flooring range, so there’s no worries about it being cold underfoot.

    Bath Stone ST12 from the Karndean Designflooring Knight Tile collection.
    Prices for the Knight Tile collection start from £24.99 a square metre

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    Country Homes & Interiors Country Business of Year winner

    by  • 17/09/2012 • Country food, Country moment • 0 Comments

    I was very pleased to see that the Country Homes & Interiors Country Business of Year winner made the front page of The Northern Echo recently. ‘I can’t believe I have won,’ says Juliette Brown Forden of Hayloft Foods. ‘It is nice to get recognised for all the hard work. You just don’t think someone from Yorkshire would win a competition from a magazine based down in London.’

    Juliette has also recently achieved Gold Star awards in the Guild of Fine Food Taste Awards 2012 for two of her delicious soups – Saag Aloo & Rice soup (Gold 2*) and ‘Sexy Chick’ soup (Gold *). You can read more of her story in our October issue (on sale now).

    The front page of the Northern Echo

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