• Archive for October, 2012

    English eccentric

    by  • 31/10/2012 • Country style, Uncategorized • 0 Comments

    Its Halloween! And we’ve gone all Victorian Gothic at Country Homes. In our Trend feature p67-72 November issue, out now, we pay tribute to Mary Shelley, writer of Frankenstein, with these characterful, hybrid trays, depicting half man, half bird, off set by midnight blue walls and gothic roses.

    We really do like this trend which is popular with artisan designers as well as the big high street retailers and you can have fun with it, whether its adding a small touch such as a single cushion or going the whole way with lush velvet upholstery and opulent wallpapers decorated with parlour dogs and peacocks, birds that epitomized the Victorian love of the exotic.

    In the rest of the feature we concentrate on the Victorian quest for science, natural history and collecting global artifacts and exotic memorabilia and show how to incorporate Victorian staples such as collector’s cabinets and statues into a modern country interior.

    Oval Achille tray, £57.80, rectangular Bernardo tray, £112, both Joanna Wood.

    Oval Achille tray, £57.80, rectangular Bernardo tray, £112, both Joanna Wood.

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    Rustic kitchen

    by  • 30/10/2012 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Reminiscent of a Swedish farmhouse, this country kitchen is the perfect setting for preparing an autumnal feast for Halloween.

    A range cooker, butcher’s block,  enamelware, copper pans hanging from a rack and rustic linens (from Urbanara) are key country ingredients, while a mixture of fitted and freestanding pieces add to the informal look.

    I also love the pretty and practical step stool, which is the perfect solution for helping conquer those hard-to-reach shelves.

    Karin tea towels, £15 for a set of two, Sava tea towels, £14 for a set of two, Henley apron, £25, Pimlico double oven glove, £14, Pimlico single oven glove, £13; all Urbanara

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    Gorgeous gourds and pumpkins

    by  • 29/10/2012 • Country food, Country moment, Country style • 7 Comments

    I have to admit to a bit of a ‘pumpkin, squash and gourd’ obsession at this time of year. From your classic orange Halloween variety that looks so decorative just piled in a happy heap on the country doorstep to the deep-green Little Gems that are yummy when cut into halves and roasted alongside the Sunday chicken, I find myself  enchanted by them.

    Anyone else got a similar addiction? And what do you do with them?

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    Countryside designs

    by  • 26/10/2012 • Country business, Country style • 0 Comments

    If you love fabrics with a modern country feel, look no further than the delightful collection at Milton & Manor. Architect turned designer Kate Morris decided to design her own range after being unable to find exactly what she wanted when restoring her Herefordshire farmhouse.

    Kate’s passion for drawing mixed with her love of the great British countryside has led to her wonderful collection of fabrics by the metre, cushions and upholstered footstools. They feature pheasants, hares, stags, horses and tractors – all of which capture the essence of life in the country.

    It’s really inspiring to see how fast country businesses can evolve from a seed of an idea to a thriving, successful company.

    Linen Sketch Game tea towels, £25 set of 3; Pheasants fun cushion, col Duck Egg, £28; Pheasants fun cushion, col Spotty, £28, all Milton & Manor.

    Linen Sketch Game tea towels, £25 set of 3; Pheasants fun cushion, col Duck Egg, £28; Pheasants fun cushion, col Spotty, £28, all Milton & Manor.

    Pony on Pink AGA mat & oven glove set, £40, Manor & Milton.

    Pony on Pink AGA mat & oven glove set, £40, Milton & Manor.

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    Try our brownie recipe

    by  • 24/10/2012 • Country food • 0 Comments

    There’s just something about the chocolate brownie that’s made for autumn days. We love them because they’re easy and use everyday store-cupboard ingredients that everyone has at home.

    A brownie and a cuppa fireside is all you need in life when the wind and rain are doing their worst against your windows. Just draw the curtains and try our delicious recipe.

    Keep hold of the recipe for Christmas, too – brownies are great to have in the cake tin for unexpected guests.

    Little in life is more comforting than a chocolate brownie…

    If you like this idea we have lots more recipes for you to try.

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    French style kitchen

    by  • 23/10/2012 • Country style • 0 Comments

    French style has a certain chic about it, combining elegance and a relaxed, informal feel. I love this pretty French style kitchen, featured in Through the French Door by Carolyn Westbrook (Cico Books), because it shows how you can bring character to a room with a well-chosen vintage find.

    The distressed wood island came from a flea market but it’s a beautiful piece that transforms the kitchen, especially with the industrial style lamps above it. The deep farmhouse sink and range cooker emphasise the country feel.

    The look is kept light and airy with white units, an abundance of open and glazed wall cabinets and a white brick splashback. It’s almost too nice to cook in…

    This beautiful kitchen is taken from Through the French Door by Carolyn Westbrook, with photos by Keith Scott Morton, which is published by Cico Books, £19.99

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    Make a lampshade reader event

    by  • 22/10/2012 • Country craft, Country moment, Country style • 1 Comment

    I am very excited about our latest reader event, which I’ll definitely be attending!

    Country Homes & Interiors is co-hosting a ‘Learn a New Skill’ day, on Wednesday 21st November 2012, with fabric and wallpaper company Lewis & Wood at its Gloucestershire mill home.

    The day starts with a series of talks and demonstrations about fabric and wallpaper design from three top designers – wood engraver Andrew Davidson, decorative artist Adam Calkin and block printer Jenny Stringer. After lunch in the showroom, there will be a practical session where you’ll learn how to make a 12-inch drum lampshade using a Lewis & Wood fabric, which you can then take home. Lampshade maker supremo Eileen Garsed, who taught Kirstie Allsopp on Channel 4 TV, will be your teacher.

    The event will be held at Woodchester Mill, North Woodchester, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 5NN. Tickets cost £120 and include the lampshade you make in a Lewis & Wood fabric, 15% discount in the Lewis & Wood shop and lunch. To reserve your place, call Lewis & Wood on 01453 878517 or email office@lewisandwood.co.uk. Places are limited so please book now. I hope to see you there!

    Lewis & Wood

    Enjoy a day full of creative inspiration at the fabric and wallpaper mill of Lewis & Wood, near Stroud

    You will make a gorgeous lampshade from a choice of Lewis & Wood fabrics

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    The Little Knit Kit Company

    by  • 19/10/2012 • Country craft, Country style • 1 Comment

    We’ve had our woolly thinking caps on this week at Country Homes & Interiors, celebrating national Wool Week. It’s the ideal opportunity to share with you the delights of The Little Knit Kit Company, a small Welsh company who have created a range of easy to do knitting kits – all made with British wool.

    Available in a variety of beautiful nostalgic designs, the kits aim to bring a fresh and fun approach to the traditional craft of knitting.  With super easy to follow instructions they are ideal for children or adult beginners – great idea for people like me who love the craft but lack the expert skills. I’d like to have a go at making my very own Sleep barn owl (below) – I just love his cute stripes!

    Sleepy Owl learn to knit kit, £18.50, The Little Knit Kit Company.

    Sleepy Owl learn to knit kit, £18.50, The Little Knit Kit Company.

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    Butternut squash bake

    by  • 18/10/2012 • Country food • 0 Comments

    Just the thing for autumn evenings

    I love seeing the piles of squash in my local farm shop at this time of year and my thoughts are turning more and more to comforting bakes and casseroles as the evenings get darker and colder. This easy recipe ticks all the boxes, serves 4 to 6 people, and is so quick to do…

    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 large onion, thinly sliced
    375 ml milk
    225 ml single cream
    3 eggs, beaten
    a small bunch of chives, snipped
    leaves from a small bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
    1 baguette, thinly sliced
    300g sweetcorn kernels, canned or frozen
    500g peeled and sliced butternut squash
    100g grated mature Cheddar
    sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    a 30 x 20-cm/12 x 8-inch baking dish, greased

    1 Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) Gas 5. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and cook over low heat for 3–5 minutes, until soft. Season lightly and set aside.

    2 Combine the milk, cream and eggs in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Season according to taste. Add the chives and parsley, mix well and set aside.

    3 Arrange half the baguette slices in the prepared baking dish in a single layer; you may need to tear some to cover all the space. Put half of the onion slices on top, then scatter over half of the corn. Arrange half of the squash slices evenly on top and sprinkle with half of the cheese. Repeat one more time (bread, onion, corn, squash, cheese). Stir the milk mixture and pour it evenly all over the pudding. Cover tightly with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for about 30-40 minutes, until golden. Serve immediately.

    This recipe is taken from Fireside Feasts & Snow Day Treats (£19.99, Ryland Peters & Small), out now

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    Gadget heaven.

    by  • 17/10/2012 • Country style • 0 Comments

    My house rabbit kept nibbling through the wires from my stereo to the speakers so I decided to research wifi speakers and it opened up a whole new world of home tech. That research became the basis for our Nov issue Gadget heaven feature, pages 76-81 where we showcase brilliant techy ideas designed to make your life easier and more connected, from portable wifi keyboards for your iPad, to iPod mini speaker docks, to weather stations, wireless printers and splash proof DAB radios (shown here).

    Not satisfied with ‘just the technology’ we wanted products that were good looking too – and quick and easy and simple to assemble – so we set up all the gadgets ourselves ….in record time! And we wanted products we could integrate into our homes without dominating the décor, a tall ask, but I think we’ve achieved it. Since compiling this feature, just a few months ago, technology has marched on and there are ever more products out there and I can’t wait to bring you even more heavenly gadgets in the future.

    Oasis Flow digital, FM and internet splash proof radio, £124.99, Pure

    Oasis Flow digital, FM and internet splash proof radio, £124.99, Pure

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