• Archive for February, 2016

    Heavenly hallway

    by  • 10/02/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    country hallway

    Spring cleaning’s on the horizon, so it’s as good a time as any to ensure your country hallway is the ultimate in practical as well as pretty!

    Hallways are notorious for being dumping grounds, but you can easily transform your hall into a clutter-free zone by incorporating some well-chosen storage solutions.

    This pretty entrance way, for instance, uses free wall and floor space for a classic country storage bench and wall shelf  in fresh spring pastels.

    The storage bench is super practical as well as beautiful (this bench is from The Dormy House and can be painted in different shades). Cupboard doors make it perfect for hiding away shoes, while a wicker basket is a neat solution for tidying away hats and gloves. And of course, the seat cushion makes it ultra comfy when sitting down to put on or pull off boots.

    The wall mounted storage peg shelf (also from The Dormy House) is perfect for hanging baskets, keys, dog leads, and again, the wicker baskets can be used for knick knacks and are easy to slide in and out.

    What we at Country Days particularly love about this scheme is that it’s also a masterclass in mixing classic country fabrics – florals, faded florals, ticking stripes and polka dots in toning shades work beautifully together.


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    Meet Hannah Dale

    by  • 09/02/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_groupArtist Hannah Dale runs Wrendale Designs, a stationery and homeware design business based in rural Lincolnshire. From smiling donkeys to snoozing foxes, her beautiful paintings depict the characterful wildlife that resides near her country home – they feature on a range of rustic homewares including mugs, prints, tinware and more.

    How did Wrendale Designs come about?
    I loved art at school but never thought I could make a career from it. When I moved back to Lincolnshire after marrying a farmer, I rekindled my passion for painting. To my surprise, I was inundated with requests for my work. Someone suggested I design a range of cards and Wrendale Designs was born – I haven’t looked back!

    Where do you like to paint?
    I still do the majority of painting where I started – on our kitchen table! Managing Wrendale and having three children under seven means I paint when I can: early in the morning, during nap times or after the children are in bed.

    Describe the design process.     
    I spend a lot of time sketching, trying out different poses and expressions until I feel I’ve captured the personality and character I want. Then I lay down a few watercolour washes and build up the detail.  I take breaks from pieces I’m working on – seeing it later with fresh eyes, helps you immediately know how to improve it.

    What inspires you?
    Living in rural Lincolnshire, I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a constant source of inspiration.  I usually have a camera on hand and snap away at anything that catches my attention, from local wildlife, to an interesting moss covered branch or stormy sky

    What’s your favourite design and why?
    I think my absolute favourite design is ‘The Afternoon Nap’ (shown above) which features three sleeping fox cubs all piled up for a snooze – it reminds me of my children!

    What’s your favourite country view?
    There’s a little spot in the corner of a field near Louth where my husband’s family has a farm. It overlooks the most glorious countryside. It’s a favourite picnic spot of ours, so holds some special memories too.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Quirky, passionate, and a little haphazard at times!

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    My Country Business Awards winner at Heal’s

    by  • 08/02/2016 • Country business, Country style • 0 Comments

    My Country Business winner at Heal'sClaire Coldwell, the winner of the Retail category in the My Country Business Awards 2015, has a pop-up at London’s Heal’s Tottenham this month.

    Until two years ago, Claire was working as a production executive for the BBC in Manchester with a three-hour commute across the Pennines every day. Life was pretty hectic for the mum of two, so she decided a change of pace was needed. In spring 2014, Claire set up her online business, Plain Useful, selling  traditional homeware products that are both beautiful and useful to make everyday chores more enjoyable. She sells a range of traditional kitchen utensils, cleaning brushes, gardening products and laundry care. In October last year, Plain Useful was a well-deserved Retail winner in the Country Homes & Interiors My Country Business Awards.

    You can see and buy Claire’s beautifully curated collection of classically designed home accessories at Heal’s Tottenham Court road store until Friday 26th February.

    Plus you can read more of Claire’s story in the current issue of Country Homes & Interiors.My Country Business Awards winner at Heal's

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    Craft a winter bloom chest

    by  • 07/02/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments

    Ready_150902_CHI_MARCH_INDOOR_PLANTING _SHOT04_011Create a pretty display by planting up faux flowers in a vintage-style wooden chest. We’ve used winter blooms, but refresh with spring, summer and autumnal foliage throughout the year for a seasonal feel.

    To give the chest a distressed paint finish, lightly sand with low-grade sandpaper then wipe over and allow to dry. Paint the chest with a couple of coats of white Chalk paint, sanding back and wiping away the dust between each coat and allowing to dry completely at each stage. Finish with a layer of clear varnish to seal the paint, before leaving to dry overnight. Place the pots of faux plants inside the storage chest. Make decorative plant markers by stamping pre-cut labels with alphabet letters, then tie the labels to a knotted cocktail stick with string and place in each pot.

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    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – flip-happy Pancake Day buys

    by  • 06/02/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments


    Porcelain Cake Plate, from £24, Sophie Conran.

    Tummy-tastic news folks! The syrupy silver lining of February is just around the corner… It’s Pancake Day on Tuesday 9th so to celebrate this national favourite, we’ve rounded-up a scrumptious edit of best-buys to help you fry, flip and serve-up in perfect fashion.

    ready_M&SFresh-from-the-farm eggs at the ready – whisk-up the ultimate batter with essential equipment to hand. This Loft Mixing Bowl, £15 for a set of 3, from Marks & Spencer, comes in a pretty pastel mix and is dishwasher safe – the perfect modern pick-me-up for cookery of all kinds. (Also shown): Loft Whisk and Solid Spoon, £6 each.

    Ready_HouseologyCreate deliciously golden circles of mouth-watering loveliness with the most helpful of pans. This Toughened Non-Stick Crepe Pan, £75, by Le Creuset at Houseology, is the ideal shape, ensuring even colouring and effortless pan-to-plate action. Durable and long-lasting, this kitchen saviour can be used on any heat source.

    Ready_CoxA zingy lemon juice hit accompanied by sprinklings of sugary sweetness is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser when it comes to favourite flat-cake toppings. Get the zestiness flowing with this new Elmwood Juicer, £10.50, from Cox & Cox. Hand-made by skilled artisans from responsibly sourced elm – each juicer is unstained and untreated to emphasis the natural colour and grain, making it almost too good to use!

    Thin or thick, sweet or savoury or best of both – whatever your preference, keep the pile stacked from breakfast until supper with these Shrove Tuesday must-haves!

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    Spinach and ricotta pancakes

    by  • 04/02/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments


    Don’t forget that next Tuesday is pancake day! If you fancy something a bit more substantial than the traditional lemon and sugar pancake, why not try this mouthwatering spinach and ricotta recipe – it tastes great and is packed full of calcium, magnesium and vitamin K, too.

    Serves 4

    100g (4oz) plain flour
    2 eggs
    300ml (1⁄2pt) milk
    sunflower oil for frying
    500g bag frozen spinach
    1 garlic clove, crushed
    250g (9oz) ricotta cheese
    pinch nutmeg
    4tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
    4 small bunches cherry tomatoes, on the vine

    1 Put the flour, eggs and milk in a bowl. Whisk together until smooth. Heat 1tsp oil in a non-stick pan, then pour in just enough mixture to cover the base of the pan, and tilt to cover. Cook for 30 seconds until the pancake batter is firm on the base. Use a palette knife to flip over the pancakes. Cook for about 30 seconds more until the underside is firm. Put on to a plate and repeat with the remaining mixture to make 8 pancakes.

    2 Heat the oven to 220c, 200c fan, 425f, gas 7. Put the spinach into a bowl with the garlic and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Press in a metal sieve to squeeze and tip away the liquid.

    3 Return the spinach to the bowl and season generously. Stir in the ricotta and nutmeg. Spoon the spinach mixture down the centre of each pancake and fold in the other 2 sides. Put the pancakes on to the baking sheet with the cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the pancakes and bake for 15 minutes, until the filling is piping hot and the pancakes are golden.

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    Meet Hannah Stoney

    by  • 03/02/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_groupHannah Stoney is a Staffordshire based designer with a love for watercolour, type and cute little sayings! In 2011 she founded Yellowstone Art Boutique, enviably situated on the scenic Trentham Estate. As well as her own ceramics, prints, cards and fabrics, she stocks beautiful products designed by up-and-coming British artists and makers, offering them a platform to showcase their work.

    How did you get into design?
    I come from a creative family so design was always a big part of life growing up. I was encouraged to follow a path that made me happiest and turn my hobbies into a career – so I did! I dreamt of setting up my own gallery even before I started University.

    Why did you decide to start Yellowstone Art Boutique?
    I wanted to create a gallery space for new designers and makers who don’t have a reputation to profit from. Paying for a degree and a studio space is so expensive and lots of artists don’t have the time to promote their work effectively, so I wanted to help bring handmade products to the high street. I also wanted to carry on designing myself and this seemed like the perfect place to sell my work.

    Describe a typical day.
    I’m a jack-of-all-trades! Being a designer and running a shop means I complete a huge range of tasks in any given week, from paying invoices and serving customers to designing commissions. I’m normally working on 5 tasks at once so I must drive the people around me mad!

    What inspires your work?
    All of my designs are painted in watercolour. I want them to be light-hearted, cheerful and generally full of colour! It sounds strange but customers inspire my work. I have an unusual advantage of being in the shop when people are browsing, and their feedback sparks so many ideas.

    What’s your favourite country view?
    The grounds on the Trentham Estate are just stunning. I love being able to close up the shop for the day, walk a few feet and be next to a stunning forest and lake. Seeing the deer as I drive to work still makes me pinch myself. I’m definitely a small town girl at heart, as much as I love city skylines!

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Colourful, lighthearted and romantic (in a contemporary way!)

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    Passion for pared-back style

    by  • 02/02/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Country dining room

    If you can’t abide clutter and like to keep your schemes simple, take your inspiration from this relaxed country dining room where East Coast meets retro for a pretty yet pared-back look. This laid-back interior will certainly get you set for summer with its beach-house feel.

    Perfect for entertaining, the white farmhouse dining table is a true country classic and has a warm timber top that extends. Team it with spindle-back chairs with a mid-century modern twist – vary the look by mixing chairs in calming white and stone shades with coral for added punch. Finish off with wow-factor pendants hung low over the table to create mood lighting with style.

    Continue the retro theme with a neat idea – use a crafted bookcase to display tableware, glassware and knick knacks.

    Finally, arrange a display of mismatched frames for an eyecatching feature on the wall. Combine photos, treasured letters and even fabric samples with empty vintage frames for an eclectic vibe.

    (Dining table, dining chairs, bookcase, pendant lights and frames, all Marks & Spencer)





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    New issue on sale Thursday

    by  • 01/02/2016 • Country moment, Country style • 0 Comments

    Country Homes March 2016

    We felt the zing of Spring here at Country Days as the latest issue of Country Homes & Interiors arrived hot off the press. On sale this Thursday 4 February, it’s filled with bright and beautiful new-season decorating trends. We’ve taken the hard work out of your decorating dilemmas and shortlisted five key country styles we know you’ll love. From Gypsy Florals (as featured on the cover) and Utility Chic to Organic Geometrics, and Artisan Neutrals to Subtle Indiennes – there’s a look here that’ll inspire you to reach for the paintbrush or fabric swatches and get DIYing!


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