Planning Flower Beds

Crocus - Soft Summer Border

Now that the weather is – for the most part – becoming more spring-like, I’ve seized the opportunity to make a start on some changes to the flower beds in the vegetable garden. It’s been about two years since the beds were first planted up with perennials and I’m starting to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t, as well as the little jobs that need doing to keep things looking their best: inevitably some plants have thrived and now need dividing, whilst others need moving because they’re not being shown to their best advantage, and then there are the gaps that need filling (which will give me a great excuse to get some new plants).

Inspired by the ‘Soft Summer’ border plan on the Crocus website (shown above), I’ve come up with my own design for the two borders that lie either side of the potting shed. The yellows I’m using are a little more vivid as I’m making use of the Solidago ‘Goldenmosa’ and Lysimachia punctata that are already growing happily there, but having moved the rhubarb plants that were growing alongside, I now have room to introduce some blues (by way of nepetas and geraniums) and to add shots of burnt orange and plum with the likes of crocosmia, alliums, heleniums and the beautiful Digitalis parviflora.

Garden Border PlanClick image to enlarge

Taking the time to plan things for a change has been both fun and interesting and hopefully the time spent looking into eventual sizes, growing requirements etc. will pay off. No doubt some tweaks will be made here and there, however I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the end result will be as good in reality as it currently is in my mind’s eye!

Watch this space…

Image: Crocus (top)

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Kitchen Makeover – After

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The kitchen makeover is now pretty much complete so I thought it was high time I shared some pictures here on the blog. Painting the cupboards was quite an undertaking but the end result is so lovely it almost feels as though we have a new kitchen.

We’ve been lucky in that the cupboards, which were installed well over ten years ago by the previous owners, are in a timeless style and were also extremely well made. They’ve lasted amazingly well and having such good ‘bones’ to work with made updating the room a fairly straightforward – albeit time consuming – task.

So, gone is the 90′s blue and yellow colour scheme (see here for ‘before’ photos taken prior to us buying the house) and in its place is a muted palette of stone, grey and off-white which is warmed up by the terracotta floor tiles.

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The same colours continue through into the dining area which overlooks the garden. It’s such a nice room to spend time in now, be it for homework around the table or a bit of downtime in the armchair with a mug of tea and a magazine.

The dining chairs are a slightly random collection of heirlooms and Habitat but we’re on the look out for some new ones that aren’t hideously expensive, which all the ones I like seem to be.

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The newest addition to the room is this glazed cabinet which is perfect for displaying some of our china and definitely added a bit of interest to what had previously been quite a long run of empty wall.

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Kitchen - After (Details)

But the prize for the most heart-warming addition goes to this ‘trophy’ presented to me by my son earlier this week in recognition of all my hard work. The kids hadn’t said that much about the transformation of the room (probably because it took so long!) but it was very sweet to think it had made such an impression.

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And finally, in case you’re interested, here’s a little sourcebook:

* N.B. I was advised to use a high adhesion primer called Zinsser Bull’s Eye 1-2-3 on the tiles before applying a topcoat of oil-based eggshell. Farrow & Ball no longer manufacture oil-based eggshell (my tin was an old one) but similar products are available from the likes of Little Greene.

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The Kitchen Makeover (a belated update)

Kitchen Makeover - Before

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while might remember my announcement back in October 2012 that I was in the throes of redecorating our kitchen.

Now, given I don’t like to rush a project (!) and thanks to a host of other distractions, I’ll confess to the fact that things kind of stalled after the walls and ceiling were painted. As I’ve resolved to get creative this year, I thought it was high time I picked up where I left off, donned my painting clothes again and got cracking, which essentially meant sorting out the tiles and freshening up the cupboards.

As I enter week three of this latest phase, you’d think I’d be getting a little fed up: however a combination of lousy weather outside and the delights of Radio 4 means I’m actually quite enjoying myself and am revelling in the excuse not to leave the house. I’ve done the tiles and am now mid-way through painting the cupboards. As you might expect, this is a laborious task given they need cleaning, sanding and priming before the top coats (all three of them!) are applied. The end is, however, in sight, and with the new cupboard knobs due to arrive next week I am getting really excited about seeing the finished room and sharing it with you here. In the mean time, here’s a few ‘before’ photos to give you a sense of what I had to contend with…

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Home collection from Marks & Spencer

M&S SS 2014 Homewares

Leica S

Leica S

Leica S

I found myself in my local Marks & Spencer’s home department last weekend and have to say I was mightily impressed – even a bit surprised – by some of the new accessories that they had on display. The Spring/Summer 2014 Home collection is bang on trend and has some really beautiful pieces that would look as good in a clean, contemporary space as they would in a more relaxed, eclectic setting. With its muted palette, simple materials and tactile appeal, the range has something a bit House Doctor-y about it, which is no bad thing if you ask me.

It was the Portuguese ceramics that caught my eye (I ended up buying this jug in white) but I’d also happily give a home to any of these:

M&S Home Collection S:S 2014

  1. Striped Cushion 
  2. Lace Design Platter
  3. Original BTC Stanley Pendant Light 
  4. Beehive Wall Art 
  5. Conran Copper Wire Trim Tealight Holder 
  6. Round Weave Baskets (Set of 2)
  7. Graphic Kilim Rug

Images: Marks & Spencer 

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Cameron Short at sofa.com


Ode to the Ash - sofa.comSaturday loveseat in Ode to the Ash

Since 2011, sofa.com have been collaborating with some of the best and most exciting British designers to create exclusive fabric ranges for the company: an initiative called Design Lab. Having previously joined forces with St Jude’s and Thornback & Peel, the latest collection has been created by Dorset-based artist and printmaker, Cameron Short.

Drawing inspiration from the English countryside and rural folklore, the range comprises three fabric designs which were originally block-printed by hand on Cameron’s 1904 proofing press, before being digitally printed in Lancashire.

Treasure Tree

Margot loveseat in Treasure Tree

The collection is whimsical and enchanting with each fabric offering far more than first meets the eye: details reveal themselves to you on closer inspection, giving hints to the narrative behind each design.

As Cameron explains, “Ode to the Ash tells the story of this ancient, native tree. The ash stands at a crossroads, surrounded by figures from times passed: a herdsman carrying an ash stick to keep the Evil Eye away from his stock; a country girl who, hoping to meet her true love, keeps an ‘even ash’ leaf in her glove; a woodsman, kneeling reverently beneath the great tree.”

Ode to the Ash - Detail
Ode to the Ash

Treasure Tree - Detail

Treasure Tree

Treasure Tree is similarly intricate: as you look beyond the mass of oak leaves, ivy and branches you’ll spot not only a magpie with a ring in its beak, but also an array of trinkets, – including a Fabergé egg – that have caught its beady eye.

The bold Varx print, so named because of the pronunciation of ‘fox’ native to the far south-west of England, features a defiant fox partially obscured by foxgloves and the floating feathers from his latest meal.

Varx - sofa.com

Iggy armchair in Varx

Varx - Detail

Varx

I really love the rustic, folksy feel to these prints, they have such an honest quality to them and make stunning and very inviting armchairs: perfect spots for snuggling down with a mug of tea and a good book if you ask me.

Images: sofa.com

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A motto for the New Year

Be Creative

Whilst I may not be one for specific resolutions, I do like to ride the wave of optimism that the New Year brings and think about how I might make positive-yet-achievable changes to my life, and hopefully that of my family too. With this in mind, my aim for 2014 is to seek out new opportunities for being creative as it’s something that really makes me happy and something I find all too easy to overlook when I get swept up in the maelstrom of daily life.

Whether it be trying new recipes, getting crafty with the kids at the weekend or even putting into practice some of the ideas that I’ve gleaned from my new garden books, I’m going to endeavour to seek out inspiration wherever possible, do lots more making, tons of doing and plenty of sharing the results here on my blog.

Happy New Year!

Image: Raw Art Letterpress via Pinterest

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Merry Christmas

Chistmas Tree of Lights

This is my last post of 2013 so I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas and peaceful New Year. Thank you for taking time out to read my blog and for all your comments; it means a lot.

I look forward to seeing you back here in 2014!

Siân x

Image: Pink Sugar via Pinterest

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Hyacinths

8-IMG_1835Things are finally getting festive around here; the tree went up last weekend and since then I’ve slowly been adding decorative touches here and there around the house.

I’m especially proud of my display of hyacinths on the cupboard in the kitchen which was very cheap to do and looks really pretty. I already had the birch basket so simply bought a couple of pots of bulbs and hid their plasticky shame with some moss (our lawn provides a plentiful supply!) and ivy which I coiled around the edge. Lichen covered twigs, snipped from our pear tree, add a bit of height.

It’s an idea shamelessly copied from Spriggs Florist in Petworth where we bought a very similar little arrangement to take to a dinner party a couple of weeks ago. I’ll confess to being slightly loath to part with it when we arrived at our friends’ house so I promised myself I’d have a go at making my own.

Unsurprisingly, given the warmth of our kitchen, the bulbs are already flowering, filling the room with their glorious scent and making me smile every time I walk in.

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Deck the Halls

Christmas Decorationss

Apologies for the short absence from the blog: my friend and I decided to take our little online shop on the road last weekend and have a stall at our kids’ Christmas fair to showcase our wares. As a result, the last few weeks have been all about panicking that we didn’t have enough stock (or that said stock wouldn’t arrive in time), various dry runs on the styling, foraging for ivy and branches, the writing of many-a-price ticket, and so on.

It has been a massive learning curve for us both but the stall seemed to go down well and it’s given us plenty of food for thought as to where to take things next.

In the meantime, Christmas seems to have snuck up on me somewhat and I’m well aware the blog isn’t exactly feeling festive yet. To kick things off I’ve compiled a little shortlist of gorgeous decorations to share with you; I don’t subscribe to the idea of completely changing the colour scheme of my tree year on year (it’s just too expensive), but I do like to treat myself to a couple of new decorations to add to all our old favourites and would happily find a home for any of these.

  1. Zinc Oakleaf Trio Decoration – Rowen & Wren
  2. Large Hand Made Paper Star – Toast
  3. Three Tea Light Houses – Cox & Cox
  4. Natural Feather Patridge Clip – Graham & Green
  5. French Script Rag Ball Ornaments – Cloth & Patina
  6. Timepiece Bauble – Anthropologie

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London Zoo

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We revisited an old haunt with some new friends last weekend as my daughter decided against a birthday party in favour of an outing with a couple mates from school.

It was the most glorious, crisp autumn day which showed London at its finest and made me a little bit sad we don’t live there any more. I was therefore secretly pleased not to be able to find ‘Bus Stop C’ outside Regent’s Park tube station as it meant we got to walk the full length of the park in the lovely sunshine and marvel at all the hilarious pooches out and about with their owners.

The zoo was even better than we remembered: the new Tiger Territory to explore, a revamped restaurant, a surprising lack of crowds and some amazing photo opportunities. All in all a very special day.

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