• Archive for August, 2016

    Meet Nicola Watters

    by  • 31/08/2016 • Country business • 3 Comments

    Ready_groupNicola’s watercolour artwork adds a subtle seaside touch to any room. Her delicate designs are available as prints as well as on a range of home accessories including fine linen cushions, stationery and bone china mugs.

    Where are you based?
    I divide my time between my farmhouse studio in the Hertfordshire countryside and family homes on the Fylde Coast, Devon and Cornwall.

    Describe your workspace.
    My studio is one of the main reasons we moved to the 18th century farmhouse that is now our home! There are floor to ceiling windows overlooking the garden, a pond and open countryside. It’s so peaceful, just the sound of birdsong, buzzing bees and bleating sheep!

    Summarise your design process.
    I like to find ways to display treasures I’ve collected and often arrange them into collages before painting them. A local printer produces my prints and this year I’ve been able to apply my designs to linen and china. I can’t wait to expand these ranges.

    Do you have a favourite design?
    My Five Blue Mussels watercolour painting (shown above, bottom right). I’ve got such happy memories of this piece. My three children were quite small when I painted this, we’d just returned from a wonderful summer in Cornwall and I’d collected the shells on a day trip to Daymer Bay.

    What’s your most prized possession?
    It would have to be my collections of ‘natural finds’. From flint and feathers to colourful mussel shells, I display them all in glass jars on my studio windowsill and look to them constantly for inspiration.

    How would you describe your own interior style?
    New England meets English country farmhouse. Light, uncluttered and with an eclectic mix of paintings and antiques.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Colourist, decorative and still-life.

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    Cool, calm & collected

    by  • 30/08/2016 • Country style • 1 Comment

    country living room

    Here’s an understated yet chic country living room that’s the perfect scheme for that transitional period between the golden days of summer and the greyer days of autumn.

    White timber cladding and limewashed floorboards make a gorgeous backdrop with a hint of coastal about it, but a neutral background would work just as well for a scheme that will look stunning in any type of property, from a stately home to a country cottage.

    A beautiful floral fabric featuring oversized blooms in a muted colourway injects a touch of summer at the windows, while cosy classics such as plaids and checks in contemporary colourways provide a modern take on tradition and pave the way for autumn. A sofa upholstered in a plain grey fabric is used to anchor the scheme.

    The fabrics come from the Kelso range by Romo and are imbued with a heritage charm that goes hand in hand with a country scheme. They are available from September. (Fabrics, from left to right: curtains in Cressida Grey Feather, plaid armchair upholstered in Belford Gris, plain grey cushion on chair in Aubrey Gris,  grey sofa upholstered in Odin Bilberry, blue checked cushion on sofa in Malden Harbour, grey plaid cushion on sofa in Belford Gris, plain grey cushion on sofa Odette Chinchilla, grey checked chair upholstered in Malden Gris.)



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    Stencil a vintage pail

    by  • 28/08/2016 • Country craft • 0 Comments


    Try your hand at our thrifty summer projects, created from flea-market finds…

    Jazz up a doorstep with a vintage bucket, pail or pot featuring a simple stencil pattern. You can even ‘vintage up’ new metal pots with a white vinegar solution and wire wool!

    Begin by cleaning your pail with warm soapy water, then dry off completely (you don’t need to do this if you’ve used the white vinegar solution). Tape a stencil onto the surface of the pail with masking tape, taking care to cover the curved edges. With a brush, dab some paint onto the surface, being careful near the edges so the colour doesn’t run (using a thick paint will make this stage easier). Choose different colours, if desired, then, when finished, remove the template and allow the paint to dry. If the design looks too bold, rub back with a bit of sandpaper and blow away the dust. Style up lots of little pots or one large pot with your favourite blooms for the final flourish.

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    30 Country Style Icons: the shopping bag

    by  • 28/08/2016 • Country style • 2 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.

    27The shopping bag
    A must for the local farmer’s market, the classic shopper is a woven basket shape with two strong handles. It’s made from either natural fibres for a rustic look or bright waterproof plastics. For something a bit different, invest in an Emily shopper (£98 for a 4-piece set) from Berry Red, complete with leather handles in stylish stand-out shades – who needs a plastic bag when shopping can look this good?

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    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – bake off buys

    by  • 27/08/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Baking Buys2Bunting and bun tins at the ready… Let the bake off commence! Inspired by the nation’s favourite amateur baking competition, we’ve rounded up a trio of chef-tastic buys to help you create your very own show-stoppers… Let’s get mixing!

    Add a sweet and whimsical decoration to top towering cake efforts with these Celebration Cake Flags (above), £12.50 for a set of 10, by Comeuppance at Notonthehighstreet.com. These pretty little banners detail delicate mixed prints and patterns and are handmade to order from high quality textured card – they’re just the thing to add a finishing touch with a vintage feel to any special occasion!

    Baking Buys 1Bake by the batch load with essential utensils to hand. This super cute Personalised Adult Baking Kit (above), £19.99, by Lindsay Interiors, includes a full set of solid wood baking utensils, all customised with a message of your choice – it’s the spot on practical gift with a full-of-character twist!

    Baking Buys 3Whip up the springiest of sponges and protect clothes from a floury dusting with this beautifully illustrated Green Fingered Gardening Apron (above), £19.95, by Victoria Eggs. Featuring a charming print of gardening tools printed onto organic cotton – it’s the perfect pick to celebrate your favourite outdoor hobby and bring the freshness of your garden into the kitchen.

    Ingredients and equipment checked off the shopping list – let’s don the oven mits, dust off the mixing bowls and get baking!


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    Sleep under canvas

    by  • 26/08/2016 • Country moment • 1 Comment

    Go glampingIt’s the season to get close to nature with a relaxing weekend in a tipi, alachigh or colonial tent! Our top three places to stay are set in beautiful countryside with stylish interiors and every creature comfort to hand, so you’ll be able to focus on time with family and friends. Happy glamping!

    Penhein Glamping, Monmouthshire
    Rolling Welsh farmland, ancient woodlands and magnificent views of the Severn Valley lure visitors to this stylish glampsite. It’s ideal for hesitant campers with comfort and style at every turn. High domed alachighs offer modern British country style with Persian inspired designs. Each tent is individually designed with pine tables, tealight chandeliers, handcrafted kitchen units with beautifully tiled worktops, wood burning stoves and cosy beds. A short walk away, there’s a super stylish shower block with piping hot water, toiletries, and a roll-top bath. A welcome hamper includes a selection of seasonal farm produce; cook on the woodburner or enjoy toasty sausages, marshmallows, and storytelling by the outdoor firepit and its charmingly carved woodland chairs. Amble along woodland paths for den building or a paddle in the brook or sway on the giant swing  in the meadow! For days out, it’s a short drive to lively Chepstow Racecourse or to the peaceful Wye Valley

    Wild Northumbrian Tipis & Yurts, Northumberland (pictured)
    This is the place for romantics and stargazers, set in a gold tier Dark Sky Park. Choose from handcrafted insulated Mongolian yurts, a Native American tipi a Scandinavia Laavu tipi or a shepherds hut. The Peetwit Tipi is closest to all facilities and set in a lovely location by an apple orchard with mature maples, hazels, hawthorns and wild cherries. Handcrafted beds, duck down duvets, candle light and underfloor heating make a very comfortable retreat. Enjoy hampers with local seasonal produce or book a large clay pizza oven and barbecue for a unique dining experience with friends in the Shepherd’s hut area where there’s a firepit, benches and tables for groups.

    Lantern and Larks, Suffolk
    Set in an enviable location between countryside and coast, this rural hideaway is ideal for families to learn about nature and enjoy fun days out. Hunker down in a spacious tent among flora, fauna and wildlife; explore nearby Framlingham Castle or head to Easton Park farm for pony rides and pet feeding time. A three bedroom tent with solid deck floors, storage areas and an open plan living area offers plentiful space. Snuggle up in solid pine beds with comfy mattresses and duvets and enjoy hot showers outside. There’s a kitchen hob for simple stir fries or cook up casseroles on the wood burner for meals in doors at the coffee or dining tables. On summer days head for fish and chips on the Suffolk Coast and by evening gather on the terrace for firepit barbecues and lazy moments on the outdoor sofa and armchairs…

    Have you tried a glamping getaway? We would love to hear more about it…

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


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    Griddled halloumi and pepper ciabattas

    by  • 25/08/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments


    Treat your tastebuds to this quick and easy mouthwatering main – perfect for a delicious meat-free Bank Holiday barbecue in the countryside.

    SERVES 2

    250g pack halloumi light cheese, cut into 4 slices
    1 roasted red pepper from a jar, sliced
    2 ciabatta rolls, halved and toasted
    2 tbsp olive oil
    Handful of rocket leaves
    Mint and coriander yogurt, to serve

    1 Heat a griddle pan, add the halloumi slices and cook for 2 mins on each side, until charred. Remove from the pan and add the sliced pepper. Cook for 2 mins to heat through.

    TIP Add garlic for extra favour – marinate the halloumi for a few minutes with a splash of olive oil and crushed garlic cloves before griddling.

    2 Drizzle the cut sides of the ciabatta rolls with olive oil and top with the halloumi, peppers and rocket. Season with freshly ground black pepper and serve with mint and coriander yogurt.


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    Meet Karen Lowes

    by  • 24/08/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_groupFor a playful take on coastal style, we love the National Trust’s new Summer Holiday homewares collection designed exclusively by in-house artist, Karen Lowes. Inspiration for her stunning watercolours came from typical British seaside holidays as well as a trip to the remote Northumberland Farne Islands, home to over 37,000 pairs of puffins…

    Talk us through the design process for this collection.
    I went to visit the Islands last July when puffin season was in full swing. They had such a charming way about them; I wanted to get this across in my designs. Using this as a starting point, I began to incorporate other elements of the British coastline, from shells and boats to deckchair stripes, before working closely with the buyers to develop final products.

    Where are you based?
    In the National Trust head office in Swindon. It’s named Heelis, after Beatrix Potter – it was her married name. I’m always out and about at properties and areas cared for by the Trust, trying to absorb as much inspiration as possible. I can be overlooking a dramatic seascape one minute and visiting a stunning 18th century house the next!

    What do you love about what you do?
    Everything! From exploring the amazing places cared for by the National Trust to knowing that the prints and patterns I create will help support them. Every sale contributes to their work as a conservation charity.

    How would you describe your own interior style?
    I like space with splashes of colour. White walls and neutral linens with bright artwork collected over the years. I love fabrics too, I own pieces from all over the world which I use as throws.

    What advice would you give to new designers?
    Never stop experimenting. Drawing is such a powerful tool; show and celebrate your knowledge in colour and don’t stop believing in yourself.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Expressive, animated and adventurous.

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    Red, white and blue wonder

    by  • 23/08/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    country living room

    Red, white and blue is such a smart colour combination and we love this country living room with its blend of bold shades and toning patterned fabrics.

    The fabrics shown are from the Cote d’Azur collection from Clarke & Clarke, available from next month, and are inspired by the fresh summer colours and beautiful flowers found on the French Riviera. The collection is a mix of florals and geometrics with complementary stripes and textures, and the designs combine embroidery, print, ombre weaves and appliqué techniques.

    The fabrics are equally at home in a British country house as in a French chalet or chateau, with the bold colours and patterns working beautifully with exposed stone or wood clad walls, timber beams and stone fireplaces.

    Use the fabrics to their best advantage. Try making a feature of large windows with a bold design on the curtains, such as Maxime shown here in the Provencale colourway. Then introduce a statement chair in striped Pampelonne in indigo/cerise. Pull the look together with cushions in Beaulieu in indigo/cerise and Villefranche in indigo/cerise, as well as Pampelonne.

    A plain blue sofa and footstool are perfect for anchoring the scheme, and we love the geometric rug, which adds a contemporary touch.


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    Upcycle drawers into vintage shelves

    by  • 21/08/2016 • Country craft • 1 Comment


    Try your hand at our thrifty summer projects, created from flea-market finds…

    These charming shelves are created using drawers from an old chest. Smart, stylish and beautifully vintage, they can be personalised to suit any interior scheme: simply line with complimentary wallpapers or paint in tonal hues.

    Clean the surfaces with a damp cloth and paint with a chalk paint (we used Paris Grey and Old White, £4.95 for 120ml from Annie Sloan), rubbing down the edges for a distressed look. Paint a lighter colour on in places with a dry brush for a more time-worn finish.

    The inside can be left bare, painted or backed with wallpaper. To do this, place the wallpaper down, face up, and position a drawer on top. Draw around the base, then cut and trim to fit the inside – it might take a while to make sure it fits correctly! Once you’re happy with the fit, fix in place with a self-adhesive spray, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

    To hang, hammer two D-rings on either side of the drawer near the top and thread with picture wire or string.

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