• Archive for May, 2016

    Say it with flowers

    by  • 31/05/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Floral living room

    We love classic English country style. And there’s nothing like pretty floral fabrics for injecting a fresh summery feel into a country living room.

    Choose neutral furniture such as this classic grey sofa with a smart white trim to ground your scheme, then go to town with colourful florals. Flowing full-length curtains are perfect for framing French doors.

    These gorgeous fabrics are from the Avania collection by Blendworth and feature a selection of hand-painted floral designs. Wild meadow flowers in painterly watercolour arrangements sit alongside ink drawings of tulip and chrysanthemum trails, inspired by still life master painters of the Dutch Golden Age, and traditional floral prints, originally found in the Blendworth archives, have been modernised and printed on satin for a clean, contemporary finish.

    The florals are complemented by a decorative fretwork design, reminiscent of elegant garden trellises, that co-ordinate perfectly and introduce a contemporary edge to the scheme.

    Finish off the look with beautiful floral arrangements in simple white vases.

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    Are you a fabric, furniture or wallpaper designer? Be mentored by Wallpaperdirect

    by  • 30/05/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments


    If you’re creating the key pieces that decorate and furnish the surfaces and rooms in our homes, enter the 2016 My Country Business Awards category for Fabric, Furniture and Wallpaper Designers now and you could be mentored by Melanie Adams, Founder and Buyer at Wallpaperdirect.

    Mel is responsible for creating the home to more than 12,000 wallpaper designs and over 100 brands. Wallpaperdirect is the one-stop shop for wallcoverings and home accessories online.

    Remember to enter the My Country Business awards now at housetohome.co.uk/business

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    30 Country Style Icons: the sideboard

    by  • 29/05/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Country Homes & Interiors is 30 this year! In celebration, we’ve picked 30 of our all-time favourite design classics that have stood the test of time, thanks to their real sense of history, craftsmanship and purpose, to share with you over the coming weeks.

    24The sideboard
    The sideboard is another old friend that’s found its way back into our lives thanks to the changing way in which we live and entertain. In the dining room, it’s more of a buffet providing storage for table linens and accessories with serving space on top. It can also double up as an on-trend home bar for glasses as well as drinks. In the living room, it can act as a media centre and provide room for display.

    Such freestanding pieces are invaluable for creating balance in a scheme. Choose a natural timber or a painted finish, or upcycle an oldie with a lick of chalk paint or even wallpaper protected by varnish. We love the distressed look of the Hoot sideboard, £595, from Loaf.

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    Make a waterproof cutlery roll

    by  • 29/05/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments

    Ready_rt_CH&I_June_Gardencraft_10_smallThe final make in our pretty picnic craft series combines style with function; a waterproof cutlery roll keeps cutlery, bottle openers and other essentials neatly packed together for ease.

    To make, lay a tea towel out flat, right side up with the long side in front of you, and fold up the bottom third into a pocket. Pin and sew the side seams, then divide the pocket into regular vertical sections and stitch. Place the tea towel right side up on the back of a piece of PVC, and cut out the PVC slightly larger than the tea towel. Pin and sew the two  layers together all around the outside edges. Punch and rivet a hole through the tea towel and PVC on one short side (see picture), then loop through a doubled length of leather lace. Fill the pockets with utensils then roll up and tie with the lace.

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    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – floral teaware

    by  • 28/05/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Ready_SophiePetal power has descended this week! With the final day of the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show in full bloom (quite literally), we felt inspired to round up our favourite floral teaware lovelies so you can enjoy a relaxing afternoon cuppa while plotting your own garden makeover.

    Accompany bucket loads of creativity with a cup of your favourite blend sipped from the finest bone china. This gorgeous limited edition Chelsea Flower Show mug (above), £10, from Sophie Allport, has been especially designed for the event and features a joyful summer gardening scene complete with delphiniums, foxgloves, butterflies and bees buzzing in a blue sky. With ‘Chelsea Flower Show 2016’ inscribed on the inside rim – it’s the ultimate keepsake and makes a great gift for any gardening fanatic.

    Ready_LibertyIt’s always time for tea with the latest edition to the ‘Liberty Flowers’ ceramics collection, ‘Phoebe’. This dainty floral pattern has been re-worked from the classic archive collection and lends itself perfectly to tea time essentials – ideal for a summer afternoon treat.  (Shown above): Teapot, £49.95; Cup and Saucer, £29.95. Visit the Liberty website to view the full Phoebe range of home accessories and gifts.

    Ready_EmmaEnjoy Britain’s beverage of choice in generously sized earthenware pottery. We love this delightful Wallflower Large Teacup and Saucer (above), £32.95, from Emma Bridgewater. Springing with a pattern inspired by the richly coloured and old fashioned mix of Persian carpet, and the sweetly-scented Pheasant’s Eye’ narcissi in Emma’s garden – it’s the hit-the-spot pick to wake you up smiling in the morning.

    Tea break anyone? Let’s all pop the kettle on and enjoy a mini break in between gardening excursions…






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    Freewheel on a cycle-friendly break!

    by  • 27/05/2016 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    The Spread EagleThere’s nothing like an exhilarating cycle along beautiful coast and country trails. Make the trip all the more comfortable with a relaxing stay at one of these cosy retreats…

    Alton Albany Farm, Ayrshire
    Why stay here? This idyllic farmhouse lies among pine forests, hills and riverside farmland in Barr, at the gateway to the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park. It’s the perfect relaxing break for families and it’s dog-friendly too!
    Take time out Spacious bedrooms have ambient lighting and oh so comfortable beds… Take time to relax in the dining room with books or look out for the owners’ creative artworks including garden photography books and sculptures. Enjoy tea and cake on arrival. Breakfast is a hearty affair with locally sourced sausages, bacon, haggis and homemade bread. Enjoy a scenic country drive to the coast for hearty dinners.
    Bike options  Hop on two wheels and mountainbike the lofty Carrick Forest Mountain Trail towards Loch Doon, or cycle-friendly roads in the Ayrshire Alps. Bike storage is available too.

    The Spread Eagle, West Sussex
    Why stay here? Set in the South Downs National Park, this 16th century coaching house in Midhurst (pictured) is the ideal base for a stylish stay in the countryside. Notable past guests have included Queen Elizabeth 1, H G Wells and Guy Fawkes! Thirty-nine bedrooms and suites are individually decorated and furnished with beautiful antiques and a story to tell – the White Room even has a secret passage associated with smugglers past…
    Take time out Tuck in to a delicious lunch on the terrace on warmer days or enjoy evening dining in the formal candlelit dining room.
    Bike options With more than 1,200 km of public bridleways in the National Park, there’s a route for all from easy flats to undulating hills. Ask about the South Downs Cycle Experience which includes bicycle cleaning, a double room with breakfast and dinner plus a leg and foot energiser pampering treatment and use of the spa.

    Ballygally Castle, County Antrim
    Why stay here? Close to countryside, glens and sea, this cosy hotel boasts an enviable location on the Antrim coast road. The magnificent location was used as the idyllic film setting in Game of Thrones.
    Take time out Contemporary style rooms match the charm of the castle while comfortable beds offer a restful slumber. Enjoy views of the hotel’s landscape gardens or coastal views of Ballygally Bay. The Garden Restaurant serves delicious bistro menus featuring local produce while Sunday roasts and family get togethers can be enjoyed in the River Room. There’s also the option of private dining in the medieval dungeon. The Coast Road is littered with must-see landmarks including the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and the UNESCO Giant’s Causeway.
    Bike options For the ultimate challenge, follow the route of the (2014) Giro d’Italia; if that’s a stretch to far, a leisurely dram at Bushmills Distillery may be a tad more rewarding?

    Do you have a favourite cycle-friendly destination? We would love to hear more!

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


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    Green goddess noodle salad

    by  • 26/05/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments


    This super healthy salad from the new Good + Simple book by Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley (Ebury Press, £25) is a great way to pack lots of vibrant greens into one dish. A sesame, ginger and lime dressing and some nutty buckwheat noodles tie it all together nicely. We’re just hoping for a bit of sun over the Bank Holiday weekend so we can sit outside and enjoy it!

    SERVES 4

    300g buckwheat (soba) noodles
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    300g broccoli florets or purple-sprouting broccoli, asparagus or green beans
    1 medium green cabbage or pak choi, leaves finely shredded
    1 medium fennel bulb, finely sliced
    1 cucumber, halved lengthways, seeds scooped out with a spoon and flesh chopped
    4 spring onions, finely sliced
    1 large ripe avocado, sliced
    2 handfuls of fresh greens (such as watercress, baby spinach, sliced lettuce or leftover cooked kale)
    1 small handful of nuts (such as cashew nuts, peanuts or almonds) or seeds (such as sesame, sunflower or poppy seeds)
    4 large handfuls of fresh herbs (such as coriander, mint or basil, or a mixture), roughly chopped

    For the dressing

    Grated zest and juice of 2 limes or 1 lemon
    2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
    5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1 garlic clove, grated
    4cm piece of fresh root ginger (unpeeled if organic), finely grated
    2 teaspoons tamari
    A pinch of cayenne pepper or chilli flakes (optional)
    Sea salt and black pepper

    1 Cook the buckwheat noodles in a large pan of boiling water according to the packet instructions (about 7 minutes). Use two forks to tease the noodles apart during the first minute of cooking.

    2 When they are tender, drain and rinse under cold water for 15 seconds. Drain again and then toss in the EVOO in a large serving bowl to stop the noodles sticking together. Set aside.

    3 Using the same pan, after a quick rinse, steam the broccoli (or other vegetable), covered with a lid, in 4 tablespoons of boiling water for 4 minutes until tender.

    4 Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl or shake in a jam jar with the lid on. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then drain.

    5 Add the raw vegetables, spring onions and avocado to the noodles with the greens and steamed broccoli. Pour over the dressing and mix everything together. Top with the nuts or seeds, toasted in a dry pan for a minute if you like, and the fresh herbs.

    Photography by Nick Hopper

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    Meet Ros Shiers

    by  • 25/05/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_groupv3As well as stylish prints and stationery, illustrator Ros Shiers offers a bespoke animal portrait service, capturing the unique personality of four-legged friends with her signature pencil sketches, from characterful canines to curious cats! Available to order at Not On The High Street.

    What made you want to become an illustrator?
    I loved drawing as a child. I had a wonderful teacher who inspired my love of drawing. I loved looking at the world through the eyes of an artist.

    What inspires you?
    I love the intricacy and detail in vintage botanical illustration and I try to bring this level of detail to my work. Food, fashion, travel, reading… all forms of life help fuel my imagination. I love typography and design, too.

    Tell us about your bespoke pet portraits.
    Pets bring magic to life (as I realized when Bailey, our pet Puggle, joined the family!) and I love celebrating the special relationship between pet and owner through my work. Capturing a dog’s personality became a real passion and seeing the emotion it evokes in my customers is so heart-warming.

    What makes your portraits special?
    I make sure I’ve got a feel for each pet’s character, I’m a huge dog lover, which definitely helps! I always start with the eyes, as they play such an important role in portraying an expression; some dogs are happy, sad, cheeky, mischievous – I make sure that comes through in my drawing.

    Describe your interior style.
    I love the clean lines and minimalistic white backdrops used in Scandinavian design, mixed with vintage treasures that hold memories and tell stories. My home is a real mix of old and new.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Intricate, detailed and monochrome.

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    The height of elegance

    by  • 24/05/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    floral country bedroom

    French style is ever popular in country interiors and this chic country bedroom is the height of elegance.

    The painted bed creates a beautiful focal point in the scheme. Partner with pretty furniture such as the decorative Gustavian chest of drawers shown here (this one is the Marie design from Gustavian and is painted in a pretty blush pink for subtle warmth). Then introduce extra drama with an oversized chandelier – perfect for a room with a high ceiling as it helps to break up the space.

    What really sets the scheme off beautifully though is the gorgeous statement-making floral backdrop that pulls the look together. The stunning wallpaper, Palais in Redowa from the Revolution Wallpapers collection by Little Greene, is a classic interpretation of a pattern typical of French wallpaper panels produced by the manufacturer Réveillon from the late 1700s onwards. The original design scale, style and surface treatment have all been maintained, embracing floral bouquets and garlands with drapery and arabesque decoration.

    This is a scheme that is classically timeless, but the addition of a geometric rug soon injects a contemporary edge.


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    Meet Kharis Leggate, the winner of the 2015 My Country Business Awards

    by  • 23/05/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_Kharis Leggate

    Enter the 2016 My Country Business Awards in association with Notonthehighstreet.com now and you could be like Kharis Leggate of Home is an Island, the winner of last year’s British Wool Award for Emerging Talent Using British Wool.

    Kharis weaves cushions and blankets by hand in Shetland wool. The judges were impressed by the beautiful colours and textures, and how they capture the mood of the Shetland landscape.

    What did winning mean to you? It gave me the confidence to believe that Home is an Island could be successful.

    How have you developed the brand? I’ve focused on ‘behind-the-scenes’, making sure the business represents what I want it to: local production, sustainability and promoting British wool.

    What’s your long-term goal? I’m planning to develop upholstery fabric ranges through 2016.

    How helpful was the support you got from winning? The British Wool Marketing Board was incredible and Campaign for Wool director Bridgette Kelly helped me with my business plan.

    Remember to enter the My Country Business awards now at housetohome.co.uk/business

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