• Archive for November, 2013

    Country style: Enchant with mini trees

    by  • 20/11/2013 • Country style • 0 Comments

    If you’re already thinking about your Christmas decorations then its worth giving thought to the mini tree. Fantastic for adding a festive touch to table tops and for cheering up dark corners and window sils they add so much enchantment to a home at Christmas time. Choose from real spruce ,  Scandi carved wood, glamorous glass or geometric woodcut. Theres sure to be one to suit your taste! For more decorating inspiration at Christmas time take a look at our December issue shopping feature, out now!

    treesBench, Lombok. Ornate tree, Rockett st George. Glass tree, Marks & Spencer. Pine tree, Bloom. Paper trees, Re-found Objects. Green 3d tree, John Lewis. White wooden tree, Retreat Home. Mini frosted tree, Dobbies.

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    Country Days: modern rustic kitchen

    by  • 19/11/2013 • Country style • 1 Comment

    Winter days make us gravitate towards darker, cosier colours, and deeper shades can work especially well in a country kitchen.  Denim and indigo blues, for instance, provide a contemporary alternative to the traditional pastel blue often used in Shaker kitchens.

    Darker blues are particularly effective in a light and bright room, especially one that comprises natural materials such as exposed stonework walls and rustic wood floors and beams, like this barn conversion.

    For a modern twist, interest can be created with a two-tone scheme. This country kitchen, the Kensington Painted Kitchen by John Lewis, features mid blue on the units and a deeper blue on the island and glazed larder unit, emphasising the different zones. Quirky details include the tapered mantle unit and tapered end panels, while oversized industrial lights (aren’t they just fab?) add the perfect finishing touch.

    The Kensington Painted Kitchen in Denim and Midnight is available in 25 colours and prices start at £15,000 units only, from John Lewis

    The Kensington Painted Kitchen in Denim and Midnight is available in 25 colours. Prices start at £15,000 units only, from John Lewis

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    Country moment: The weather!

    by  • 18/11/2013 • Country moment, Country style • 2 Comments

    I’ve just read a charming book by natural history writer Richard Mabey, called Turned out nice again. As the changing weather swings from one minute – beautiful and crisp (Saturday), to the next – low cloud and drizzle (Sunday), so it’s been a pleasure to read this lovely little analysis of our national obsession with the climate.

    As Richard says, ‘Of course, we should be preoccupied [by the weather]. It’s the one circumstance of life which we share in common. It affects our bodies, our moods, our behaviour.’ What’s the weather doing to your soul right now?


    Rain again!

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    Country craft: quilled cards

    by  • 17/11/2013 • Country craft • 0 Comments

    Quilled cards, Country Homes and Interiors blog

    Quilled card craft as featured in 50+ Christmas Crafts

    Want to discover how to make quilled Christmas cards, festive wrap, ornamental baubles and decorative wreaths? 50+ Christmas Crafts promises just that as well as so much more. Presenting page after page of beautiful Christmas craft projects and creative ideas for all levels, it is a visual feast of seasonal makes with tips and techniques to create handmade decorations and gifts to share year after year. Featuring beautiful photography, templates and easy-to-follow instructions, these projects are suitable for children, beginners and more confident crafters alike. Click here to get your copy now!

    If you like this idea we have lots more easy craft projects for you to try. Or for more country crafts, recipes and room ideas, why not try our new Country Home Ideas app?

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    Country garden: late flowers

    by  • 16/11/2013 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    Jack Frost’s nipping at our toes this week, and our country gardens are gently succumbing to the approach of winter.

    So, mooching around my own garden the other day, I was amazed to see some glorious pops of colour from several of my favourite plants, ignoring the chilly weather and bravely blooming away. You’d expect it of late-summer varieties, but these stalwarts seem to have been flowering for months on end. And in such vibrant colours, too! What are you still enjoying in your garden at the moment?

    The late show... Fuchsia 'Mrs Popple', Geranium Rozanne, osteospermum and the autumn foliage of Mahonia japonica.

    The late show… (from top left) Fuchsia ‘Mrs Popple’, Geranium Rozanne, osteospermum and the spiky autumn foliage of Mahonia japonica.

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    Country buy: Drawn from nature

    by  • 15/11/2013 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Nature and landscape are very much at the heart of the new Country Retreat collection at Hillarys. Featuring seven beautiful fabrics for curtains, roman blinds and cushions – the designs are perfect for the modern country home

    The charming painterly designs are the work of design graduate Victoria Robinson, inspired by the life and colours of the countryside surrounding North Yorkshire. Below you can see Victoria’s hand painted creations coming to life…

    Hillarys country homes and interiors

    The Country Retreat collection at Hillarys.

    The delicate Wild Poppies were inspired by meadows filled with wild flowers, the Calluna design captures the beauty of Moorland heather – with abstract brush strokes in rich colours. The wow factor is Bird Parade, featuring the elegant peacock with a decorative plume of lustrous feathers.

    Countr Retreat collection by Hillarys country Homes and Interiors Blog

    Designs from left; Wild Poppies; Calluna; Heath; Bird Parade, all from the Country Retreat collection.

    Hillarys Country Homes and Interiors

    Bird Parade, Wild Poppies & Patina, all from £138 for Roman blind; from £123 for Pinch pleat curtains; cushions, £24 each, all measuring and fitting is included, Hillarys.

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    Country food: classic autumn supper

    by  • 14/11/2013 • Country food • 0 Comments

    Quick Cassoulet

    One-pot wonder: autumn evenings are made for dishes like this quick cassoulet

    The good thing about cooking at this time of year is the return of the one-pot all-in supper. The classic cassoulet fits the bill perfectly, a slow-cooked stew typically containing meat and beans – usually a type of sausage and confit duck leg, alongside haricot beans. Cassoulet in all its full-blown glory is a wonderful thing – this is a quicker version, perfect for a midweek meal or last-minute entertaining. Use premium quality sausages as this makes a real difference. This recipe serves 4.

    olive oil, for frying
    4 thick Cumberland sausages
    4 rashers streaky bacon, sliced
    6 banana shallots, halved lengthways
    1 courgette, sliced into discs
    2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed with the back of a knife
    250g cooking chorizo, diced
    1 teaspoon chilli flakes
    a few dashes of Tabasco sauce
    1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
    1 x 400g can cannellini beans, drained
    1 x 400g can butter beans, drained
    1/2 x 460g jar roasted peppers, drained and sliced
    250ml chicken stock
    a small bunch of thyme, tied with string
    salt and white pepper to taste

    To finish
    4 tablespoons chopped parsley
    4 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
    1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
    4 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs
    Parmesan shavings, to garnish (optional)

    1 In a wide flameproof casserole with a lid, heat a glug of olive oil, then gently brown the Cumberland sausages on all sides. Remove them and cut across in half, then set aside.

    2 Add the bacon to the pan and brown it, then add the halved shallots. When the shallots are slightly golden, remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside.

    3 Add the courgette and garlic to the bacon, with more olive oil if needed, and season with white pepper and a little salt. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the chorizo and stir well to combine. Stir in the chilli flakes and Tabasco. Fry for 4–5 minutes or until the chorizo is lightly browned.

    4 Add the canned tomatoes and beans, the roasted peppers and stock and stir to mix. Return the sausages and shallots to the pan along with the bunch of thyme. Bring to the boil. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Turn up the heat and cook with the lid slightly ajar for a further 10 minutes to reduce the sauce slightly.

    5 Preheat the grill to medium. Combine the parsley, Parmesan, lemon zest and breadcrumbs. Check the cassoulet for seasoning, and remove and discard the bunch of thyme. Scatter the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the surface of the cassoulet to cover completely. Place under the grill for 8–10 minutes or until golden brown. Leave to rest for,5 minutes before serving in large bowls, garnished with Parmesan shavings if you like.

    *Recipe: Dale Williams. Photograph: David Loftus. Taken from Masterchef: The Finalists (Absolute Press, £20, out now)

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    Country style: Greet the season

    by  • 13/11/2013 • Country moment, Country style • 0 Comments

    If you’re like me you’ll already be choosing your Christmas cards and it’s a good idea to buy them early incase all the good ones run out! We’ve selected our pick of the best Country style cards that stand out , whether they are designed and printed by artists, are on recycled paper, or simply capture the spirit of the season. For more decorative ideas to get you in the mood for Christmas, where we show case garlands, baubles, fairy lights and wreaths see our Shopping Shortlist feature in the December issue, out now!

    cardsCards from: in no particular order: Lisa Jones Studio, Rockett St George, Spotted Sparrow, Marks & Spencer, Rifle paper Co, Present & Correct, Paperchase, Dotcomgiftshop, Ruth Jackson, Lil3birdy. Timbergram, Bombus, Katie Leamon, Betsy Benn, all at Not on the High Street.

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    Country room: elegant bathroom

    by  • 12/11/2013 • Country style • 2 Comments

    Teaming greys and yellows such as antique gold and ochre is one of our favourite colour trends here at Country Homes & Interiors. This country bathroom shows how easy it is to update a neutral backdrop by adding in pops of colour with accessories.

    A dark grey like the shade used on the walls works best in a spacious room. Stone greys partner well with lighter greys and dark wood such as the walnut furniture from Heritage Bathrooms, while Neisha Crosland’s Parquet  vinyl flooring in a charcoal grey adds to the room’s period feel and is particularly practical in a bathroom.

    But it’s the gorgeous floral fabric that pulls the look together incorporating all the different shades used and creating a pretty window treatment, with a well-placed yellow cushion adding an extra punch of colour.

    Blenheim Vanity Unit in Walnut: £650 Blenheim Basin: £310 Heritage 3 Taphole Basin Mixer: £289 Blenheim WC & Low Level Cistern: £530 Low Level Flush Pack and Coupling Kit: £212 Bath Waste: £22 Stand Pipes: £311 Heritage Desk Bath and Shower Mixer: £339 Cast Iron Porto Santo Bath & Chrome Feet: £2562, all Heritage Bathrooms

    Blenheim Vanity Unit in Walnut: £650, Blenheim Basin: £310, Heritage Three Taphole Basin Mixer: £289, Blenheim WC & Low Level Cistern: £530, Heritage Desk Bath and Shower Mixer: £339, Cast Iron Porto Santo Bath & Chrome Feet: £2562, all Heritage Bathrooms

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    Country moment: red berries

    by  • 11/11/2013 • Country moment • 3 Comments

    It’s at this time of year that I search for colour in the wild hedgerows and along the paths near my home. The berries of Cotoneaster, Rowan and Guelder Rose are all in evidence at the moment and served to brighten a wet and wild walk on Saturday. What brightens your mood on a cold, dank day?

    new berries country homes and interiors blog

    Flashes of feel-good colour in the hedgerow

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