• Archive for October, 2016

    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – heart warming aga must-haves

    by  • 08/10/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    ready_agaBrrr… It’s getting chilly outside, so warm your cockles over the stove with these toasty aga friendly buys…

    Turn over an autumnal leaf or two with timeless designs on kitchen linens. This quintessentially British pheasant design has enduring appeal and features hand drawn game in watercolour on a subtle grey dyed terry cloth – it’s the must have collection that offers excellent insulation for comfort cooking marathons. Shown above: Double Oven Glove, £28; Gauntlet, £24; Pot Grab, £15; Teatowel, £10; Chef’s Pad, £15. 100% cotton terry insulation & 100% linen print, all from the Aga Cookshop.

    ready_gtEnsure the perfect cuppa everytime and warm up before heading out into the ‘nip’ with a charming stove-top kettle. This stunning and practical Enamel Stove Kettle in Charcoal, £32, from Garden trading, is suitable for gas hobs as well as lovely big farmhouse ranges. Delightfully nostalgic but with clean lines and bold colouring, it looks just as perfect in a country kitchen or a modern townhouse.

    ready_sophieEvery kitchen needs a practical towel to hang on the aga, range or cooker rail. We love this cute Highland Stag Roller Hand Towel, £10.00, from Sophie Allport. Featuring a lovely country design of some magnificent beasties on a slate teal coloured background, this hard wearing and absorbant beauty is velcro fastened to stay in place – it’s the perfect pick for drying soap sudded sink hands!





    Read more →

    Enjoy a gourmet escape

    by  • 07/10/2016 • Country food, Country moment • 0 Comments

    Jersey gourmet hotelCalling all foodies! It’s the season to treat yourself to a Michelin-Star break where fine dining and fabulous dishes are high on the menu!  We’ve lined up our pick of the best gourmet stays to enjoy. Add gorgeous surroundings and stylish rooms to complete the experience…

    Ockenden Manor, Cuckfield, West Sussex
    Set in nine acres of parkland and gardens, this Elizabethan home features gorgeous country-style rooms and a strong ethos of food provenance in the hotel dining room. Sussex-born chef Stephen Crane has held a Michelin star here for 13 years. Sourcing from local producers, he creates menus packed with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Choose from the Cuckfield menu or the seven-course tasting menu. Then settle in to your country-style room, each room is named after former residents of the house. Book the Master Suite and you can enjoy your own sitting room, sink into a four-poster bed in The Charles Room, or check in to a Spa Suite – an easy ramble downstairs to a pool and indulgent spa treatments.

    The Club Hotel, St Helier, Jersey
    Enjoy a lavish dining experience at this luxurious island hotel, which also offers bright spacious bedrooms, a spa and pool. Recently refurbished with a sophisticated design, the hotel’s Bohemia restaurant is acclaimed by food critics, especially for its desserts from Michelin-starred head chef Steve Smith. His menu is packed with flavour from ingredient-led dishes using seasonal fruit and veg and local produce such as Jersey Royal Potatoes, fresh local scallops, and oysters from Normandy. On the dessert menu, be sure to try the scrumptious Jivara salted caramel…Enjoy cocktails in the Bohemia Bar or a late night drink with friends at the Honesty Bar! Boutique-style bedrooms offer all mod cons and extra comforts including fluffy bathrobes, cosy slippers and Elemis bath products.

    The Manor House, Castle Combe, Wiltshire
    This gorgeous country retreat in parkland near Bath offers Michelin-star dining and a world-class golf course (designed by Clive Clarke and Peter Alliss). With produce from the hotel’s kitchen garden and meat and poultry from Gloucester Old Spots and Gingernut Ranger chickens and quail reared on the estate, Head Chef Rob Potter’s team is spoilt for inspiration. The flavours of the season are captured with original and innovative cooking methods to produce delicious menus for the hotel’s exclusive Bybrook restaurant where popular options include Manor House old spot pork, braised cheek, pickled white cabbage and carrot purée, and pain d’épices ice-cream. Country style abounds and guests can enjoy 18 hotels of golf before retiring to sumptuous bedrooms.

    Have you stayed in a gourmet hotel? We would love to hear more about your experience…

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


    Read more →

    Miniature baked squash with Gruyère fondue

    by  • 06/10/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments


    This indulgent yet laid-back supper is perfect for chilly nights. Use the finest quality Gruyère you can find for the best results.

    Serves 4

    4 small pumpkins or winter squash
    50g soft salted butter
    Handful sage leaves
    Salt and black pepper
    375ml dry white wine
    150ml milk
    400g Gruyère, grated
    2tbsp plain four
    Crusty bread, to serve

    1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Slice the top off each pumpkin, about a quarter of the way down. Scrape the seeds out of the pumpkins and the tops using a spoon (if the seeds are plump and shiny, rinseandreserve). Rub the insides of the pumpkins and the tops with most of the butter.
    2. Pop a sage leaf or two into each pumpkin and season, then stand on a baking tray, with the tops tucked in alongside. Roast for 40 minutes, until the flesh is tender and the skin is beginning to darken. Remove from the oven and set aside. Turn the oven down to 180°C, gas mark 4.
    3. Pour the wine into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil for a few seconds. Reduce the heat so that the wine is barely simmering. At the same time, pour the milk into a small saucepan and gently warm through. Toss 350g of the grated Gruyère with the flour to coat the strands.
    4. Add the flour-coated cheese to the wine, a small handful at a time, stirring between each addition and making sure the cheese has melted smoothly before adding more. Gradually whisk in the hot milk, then season.
    5. Divide this mixture between the pumpkins, filling them almost to the top. Rub the remaining butter over the rest of the sage leaves and place on and around the pumpkins, along with a handful of pumpkin seeds, if they were reserved.
    6. Top the pumpkins with the remaining Gruyère and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes, until bubbling and golden. Serve with warm crusty bread for dipping and spoons to eat the flesh of the pumpkin containers.
    Read more →

    Meet Jenni Douglas

    by  • 05/10/2016 • Country business • 0 Comments


    Edinburgh-based printmaker Jenni Douglas’ love of mid-century design, clean lines and bold colours shines in every abstract design. They feature on a range of homewares including mugs, coasters and cushions, or can be bought as wall art – Block Shapes (shown above) is our favourite print, inspired by wooden building blocks Jenni remembers playing with as a child, available to buy at Not On The High Street.

    Where are you based?
    My studio is in the historic Leith area of Edinburgh and was once a biscuit factory! It’s a wonderful space full of character and I work alongside a lovely bunch of talented makers.

    How did you get into design?
    I’ve been fascinated by the idea of things made up in small parts since I was very young. As I grew up, I started to notice the patterns on wallpapers and fabrics and appreciate the individual shapes they were made up from. Designs started making sense and I realised creating my own was something I really wanted to do.

    Describe the design process.
    It usually starts with an idea based around a colour or shape. I tend to carve small sections of lino which I hand press in layers, allowing the colours and lines to merge until a pattern forms. I love the idea of creating something from as few individual elements as possible. I rarely have a set idea of what I’m working on but I’ve learned to be comfortable with that part of the process.

    What inspires you?
    I adore mid-century and Scandi design. Their influences definitely feed into the colour and graphic aspects of my work. I also find living and working in Edinburgh very inspiring. It has such a special energy about it.

    What’s next for you?
    I’m currently working on an exciting new range of fabrics that will be available to buy from my website.

    How would you describe your interior style?
    I’m very sentimental, so my interior style is based around a few key treasured pieces of furniture and artworks, all of which mean a lot to me. As much as I like the idea of a bright, minimal living space, I adore colour and little trinkets too much!

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Colourful, modern and vintage.

    Read more →

    Nuances of navy

    by  • 04/10/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    blue country living room

    We’re loving the trend for deep, rich blues in country homes, and this gorgeous country living room definitely wows with its oh-so-rustic feel.

    To make the blues really sing out, choose a neutral backdrop as here – a panelled wall in a soothing off-white and natural flooring rug combine to create a pared-back yet homely feel.

    The beautiful mid-century-style sofa injects a retro touch and is upholstered in a stunning paisley – Beverley Dark Navy. The scheme is a masterclass in demonstrating how to to mix and match different patterns in similar tones. Cushions in Stanley Dark Navy and Witton Dark Navy on the sofa, and honeycomb-inspired geometric Gisburn Dark Navy on the chair, plus an armchair upholstered in Carlton Dark Navy, blend beautifully together, while smart striped curtains in Linton Dark Navy complete the look.  The blue tones are broken up with a footstool in Stanley Grey.

    All the fabrics come from the Ashfield Collection by Ian Mankin – it’s their first wool collection – and includes classic motifs such as paisley, as well as Ian Mankin’s signature checks, stripes and plains. The wool fabrics are guaranteed to introduce a cosy feel into any country home and are perfect for chillier days ahead.

    The Ashfield Collection is named after the mill founded by managing director David Collinge’s great-great-grandfather in the 1860s – today, the last surviving mill in Burnley – and the ten new fabrics are named after Yorkshire towns and villages. ‘Lancashire was the birthplace of the industrialised cotton weaving industry, whereas Yorkshire was the home of hard-wearing, cosy wools,’ says David. ‘Ashfield is our homage to Yorkshire’s industrial history and expertise and represents a coming together of old rivals across the Pennines.’


    Read more →

    Craft a crate stool

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


    Old wooden crates should never be parted with, there’s so many ways of repurposing them into rustic pieces for the home. We particularly love this upcycle idea for a sturdy stool, complete with a comfy padded seat made from sackcloth. For a beautiful aged look, give the crate a distressed paint finish using Annie Sloan chalk paint.

    To make the seat, measure the top of the crate and have a piece of 19mm MDF cut to fit at a hardware store. Place the MDF on top of two layers of wadding, then cut out its shape adding an extra 8cm all round. Pulling both layers of wadding taut, staple gun to the back of the MDF, taking care to make neat corners.

    To cover the underside of the MDF, cut a rectangle of sackcloth to fit and staple gun in place. For the top cover, place the board padded-side-down on the fabric and cut out the shape adding an extra 8cm all round. Pull the fabric taut and staple gun to the back as for the wadding. Trim the edges on the back and glue on an upholstery braid to cover the staples and edges.

    Read more →

    The Country Decorator’s shopping shortlist – Denim Drift buys

    by  • 01/10/2016 • Country style • 0 Comments

    ready_coxTrend alert for all of you forward-thinking savvy lovelies! Excitingly, Dulux has announced ‘Denim Drift’ as the must-have colour of 2017. Inspired by embracing the simple things that really matter in life – family and friends, work-life balance and connecting with the world around us – this timeless and versatile blue palette is the perfect pick to breathe calm and positivity into your interior. We’ve selected our favourite pieces to inspire this scheme…

    Display a gorgeous vignette of textured vases and favourite flowers to share moments of happy around the home… This perfectly formed Dipped Concrete Vase (above), £14.50, from Cox & Cox, is made from clay with a textured on-trend concrete effect dark grey finish and soft blue glazed base. Stand alone or group similar toned vessels in different shapes and heights to bring a touch of rustic modernity to any room.

    denim_readyRejuvenate your living room in the simplest way by layering your sofa and chairs with beautifully tactile soft furnishings in misty sky layers. Add a subtle dose of shimmer and sparkle to the mix with this Metallic Knit Throw, £64.95; and Grey with Gold Fleck Cushion (above), £25.00, both from The Ginger Pear. Finished with metallic drizzles, these soft and cuddly accessories are the ultimate ‘silver lining’ to perk up any lack-lustre seating arrangement.

    bronte_readyFor a quick fix, update tired furniture and upcycle with striking upholstery in versatile blue and grey hues. This collaboration Wood Bros Arncliffe Armchair upholstered in Huntingtower fabric in Celestial (above), £819, from Moon, is the ultimate handmade beauty hero piece – place it among your existing plain Janes for a pattern pop that any visitor will be only too pleased to perch upon!

    Whether you prefer inky indigos, or faded denims – dream up the ideal restoring scheme with these true blues…



    Read more →