Archive for May 2011

happiness at hand

May 27, 2011  in handmade goodness, my london

The Hand Sale in Notting Hill is a craft fair that I just cannot resist, it only takes the smallest amount of persuasion and I’m there. My will power is minimal when it comes to beautiful handmade goodies and an invitation by email and a nudge by my friend Sarah was all I needed to hop on the bus.

I didn’t have long, about 40 minutes to whizz around, but I still found some sweet little objects I could not leave without. Here they are.


This little ceramic bowl is by Fliff Carr, the bird image came from an old book of her father’s and I love it.


These little spoons are from Kirsten Hecktermann; a girl can never have too many beautiful spoons!

I photographed them on a postcard of a painting by Pierre Soulages which I bought at his exhibition at the Pompidou Centre a couple of years ago, it brings back lovely memories of a birthday trip to Paris with my husband.

Lovely little things to make a girl happy. Happy Friday everyone.

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do what you love: interview

May 27, 2011  in news

dowhatyouloveI do consider myself very lucky. Since art college I have always done what I love – be creative – and have been fortunate to make a career from it. It’s not always easy and is often hard work, but being creative is very rewarding on a personal level.

Beth Nicholls came along to the Decorate book launch at Liberty last month. Beth runs an e-course and an art and creative enterprise retreat in, guess what, how to do what you love for life. She asked if she could interview me and I said yes.

Beth asked me about professional styling, how I started and about being creative. You can read the full interview with me over on Do What You Love For Life – click here

Do you do what you love?

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bloom in miniature

May 24, 2011  in flowers, interior styling


The fabulous annual Chelsea Flower Show starts today, but what I wanted to show here is that you don’t always need to buy lots of fancy flowers and that you can make something little from your garden look really quite sweet.

I picked and photographed these Forget-me-nots over the Easter weekend when they had just bloomed. These came from my tiny London garden but my plants were originally a donation from my parents’ garden in the countryside, where so many were growing that I was able dig up and transfer a few. I love that they are so commonly found and that tiny arrangements like these can be made really easily to display in your home. I love the soft blues with the little pop of yellow at their centre.


To me, the name Forget-me-not conjours up old fashioned love letters and romantic messages, so in this little shoot I wanted to reference this. I included some old typed envelopes, letters, a key and a note book that I bought at car boot sales. The little glass vase is a recent purchase from Designer’s Guild and is one from a set of six, the handmade saucer with blue flower print I bought a while back at The Hambledon shop in Winchester (I’ve been trying to remember who it is by, I should know but I just can’t think – does anyone know?) and the little bowl I bought at a Cockpit Arts open day one year.


I love that they are just perfect miniature blooms that without something to gauge their scale, could be much bigger. I couldn’t help adding a little bit of wrongness to this shot with the addition of the cowboy gun charm.


The Forget-me-not is a flower that grew in my parents’ garden prolifically. When I was little I would pick bunches of them and press them. It’s quite time consuming, placing each flower carefully on the card of the press, especially as they are so tiny, but worth it as they dry and keep really well. When they were ready a few weeks later, I would store them in an envelope to keep them flat. I would have a different envelope for each flower type and stick a flower to the outside for quick reference of what loveliness was inside.

The dried Forget-me-not flowers work beautifully stuck to swing tags for gifts or to cards and pictures.


I still press flowers from the garden, now with my little daughter as a helper (she loves it too). In fact I still have the press I had when I was little! It’s a lovely way to never forget the Forget-me-not.

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treasured finds at found

May 20, 2011  in my london, news

Found sale

I took a couple of hours out from making and writing yesterday as I had heard about the FOUND exhibition and sale and just had to go. And I’m so glad I did! It was full of the kinds of things I adore and I came home excited and invigorated. A bit of time out at something like this can sometimes be just what you need and I got lost in the beauty of everything here and found inspiration for the rest of my week.

FOUND – A Garage Sale is a one off charity sale of artworks, found objects, textiles, rugs, furniture and crafts to raise funds for the new education wing of Kettle’s Yard house and gallery in Cambridge – one of my favourite places to visit in England.

It’s no ordinary garage sale though! The sale is in The Brompton Garage on North Terrace in South Kensington and is chock-a-block with creativity and inspiring objects – just like Kettle’s Yard itself. Only here you can purchase all the items on show with new pieces arriving daily. Heaven!

The items are displayed beautifully and you can spend from just one pound for something little to hundreds for original artworks donated by well-known artists. And it all goes to support Kettle’s Yard.

Found sale

Paintings, prints, sculptures, drawings, ceramics, curios, pebbles, feathers – all beautiful in their own way and all mirroring the ethos of Kettle’s Yard.

Found sale

Found sale

Found sale

The black bowl with the lemon is by Sotis Filippides.

Found sale

I loved these ceramics by Carys Davies.

Organic, handspun wool from Kay Buxton.

Found sale

found sale

This pencil sculpture is by Shane Waltener.

Found sale

I adored this painting by Neal Jones.

Found sale

This artwork was so simple but I so LOVE it! It’s by Alex Calinescu.

Naturally I wasn’t able to leave without buying a few little things – feathers, a bunch of pine needles and a box of natural river chalk collected from the riverbank side – all absolute necessities for a city-dwelling stylist!!  I could have quite happily bought everything there though and filled my house if my budget had allowed.

My Found treasures

This wonderful sale, which is free to enter, is only on until this Sunday 22nd May, so if you live in or near London, do pop along this weekend or you will miss out.

If you want to make a longer day trip and see some of the best interiors shops and a bit of culture, then you can also pop into the lovely MintFew and FarSkandium, The Conran Shop and Caramel (exquisite children’s clothing) which are all virtually next door, then pop to the V&A which is only a 3 minute walk away – try lunch at the cafe there, it’s in the most amazing room.

If you want to find out more about Kettle’s Yard you can read my post about my trip there below.

FOUND is organised by members of the Kettle’s Yard Development Appeal Group and you can also follow Kettle’s Yard on Twitter.

P.S. Hi to Nicole, Joan and Daphne who I met and chatted with at FOUND yesterday, lovely ladies doing something wonderful. Thank you for letting me take these photos.

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art house

May 20, 2011  in inspiring places

kettle's yard

After my visit to the FOUND sale yesterday, I thought it was perfect to post my photos from a trip to Kettle’s Yard to give you some more insight into this wonderful space.

I visited this amazing house whilst I was in the middle of writing The Homemade Home. It’s a real inspiration, filled with beautiful artworks and styled with interesting objects and found treasures.

Kettle’s Yard was the home of Jim and Helen Ede who lived there from 1958 until 1973. He was a former curator at the Tate Gallery in London and through his friendships with the leading artists of the period and other like-minded people he amassed a beautiful art collection. It includes paintings and sculptures by some of my favourite artists including Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Alfred Wallis, Joan Miro, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore.

kettle's yard

I love the way he set these amazing artworks alongside everyday items and found treasures. His vision was of a place that should not be…”an art gallery or museum, nor simply a collection of works of art reflecting my taste or the taste of a given period. It is, rather, a continuing way of life from these last fifty years, in which stray objects, stones, glass, pictures, sculpture, in light and in space, have been used to make manifest the underlying stability.”

kettle's yard

kettles yard

If you are ever in Cambridge go and spend a bit of time there, it’s inspiring. I posted more of my photos of Kettle’s Yard  here.

You can find out more information and visiting times on the Kettle’s Yard website.

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gift idea: wrapped candle with vintage matches

May 18, 2011  in diy craft projects, homemade, vintage finds

wrapped candle

Flea markets and car boot sales aren’t just great places to pick up things for yourself and your home, they can be great for gifts for friends and family too.

I found these vintage matchboxes recently and they gave me the idea for a sweet little gift for a friend.

I had an unused candle in a glass that was in the back of a cupboard and thought it would be perfect. I looked in my fabric off-cut stash and found a piece of natural coloured linen with a pink floral motif, that picked up on the colours and subject of the illustration on the matchbox I had chosen. I used double-sided tape around the glass to hold it in place. If you use a candle that already has a label on, try scraping it off first or a little white spirit can help remove stubborn glue. (even though they’re old, please remember to take the usual safety precautions with matches and candles though!)

I then found some lilac cotton string that I had and tied it around the glass in a bow. I then wrapped the candle along with the match box in some matching, dusky coloured tissue paper and popped it in a similar coloured gift bag. It’s all very simple to do and makes a sweet little gift that looks pretty, is unique and costs next to nothing!

If you don’t have an old candle, you can pick up basic candles in glass very reasonably in a lot of general high street stores. I know John Lewis do some similar or stock up on your next trip to Ikea (I have bags of their tealights stashed in cupboards!).

vintage matchbox

When I came across these vintage matchboxes with fab floral illustrations last month, I loved them and at fifty pence each I knew they were worth buying. When I see something at a boot fair like this I usually end up buying it as you never know when you may find something like it again.

vintage matches

It’s perfect as I now have the basis for another three different gifts for friends! Hopefully I’ve shown that for very little you can create a personal, unique gift that your friend will love because you made it just for them.

Would it make you happy to receive something like this from a friend?

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car boot booty

May 18, 2011  in vintage finds

flea market finds

flea market finds

I’ve always been a fan of objects with history that have been well used and well loved, I think it gives them character and soul. I love antique fairs and junk shops and always stop in if I pass a jumble sale sign outside a village hall. Above all though, I LOVE car boot sales and for the last year I’ve been posting photos of my car boot booty every month on my Homemade Home Facebook page.

Here is a selection of my favourite recent secondhand finds, all bought for just a few pounds and even pence in some cases. Have a look on Facebook for more images.

flea market finds

flea market finds

You can always find all sorts of things that can be upcycled and given a new lease of life, or just displayed in an interesting way. And the great thing is that it’s unlikely anyone else will have something quite the same in their home and you won’t see them on every high street shop shelf.

I am usually on the look out for things to incorporate into projects, re-vamp, use as props in photo shoots or just to display. Things like old board games and playing cards, wooden boxes, signs, buttons, fabrics, tools, vintage toys, keys, paintings and embroideries. Anything that catches my eye.

flea market finds

flea market finds

For anyone outside the UK, a car boot (or ‘trunk’ in the US I think) sale is like a giant flea market or swap meet, usually in a field or school playground, where people drive in and sell their old unwanted things from the back of their cars at cheap prices.

I am very lucky as my local one is brilliant and gets antique dealers selling old stock as well as householders. I think I’m addicted – I must be to jump out of bed at 6am on a Sunday morning to get there before the crowds start to arrive!

I will be posting photos of my vintage finds each month and later on today I’ll share a little idea for a gift that was inspired by a flea market find, so do pop back.

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thank you everyone

May 17, 2011  in news

thank you from sania pell

Wow, what an amazing start to my new blog!  I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone for joining me from the very beginning here, as well as those on Facebook and Twitter, and for all your wonderful messages of support and for making me feel so welcome.

It’s funny, as I was reading Holly’s posts last night she had described all the Liberty projects as perfect ideas to make when you throw a party. Well, starting this blog felt a bit like throwing a party. I put lots of effort in, styled it all up and wrote and photographed some posts ready for my guests. I then invited a few friends over and hoped they’d turn up. I was nervous, do you ever feel like that? What if no one comes?!

And, of course, then the doorbell rings and everyone starts arriving and you have a wonderful time!  This morning it feels as if I have just had that party, danced all night, had a wonderful time and made lots of new friends. Thank you all so much.

An especially big thank you goes to my lovely friend Holly Becker. I had no idea she was going to post so much of our Liberty makes yesterday and it was such a lovely surprise. I woke up with a big smile on my face this morning. It is all SO exciting. Thank you Holly xo

I’m going to do my best to post a few times each week, as I juggle being a mum of two little ones and working too. I’m sure a lot of you know what that is like and how busy life can be.

Thank you all again and do pop by tomorrow for a couple of new posts!

Sania x

PS I took this photo for you this morning in the kitchen, while my children were having breakfast. Flea market playing cards, a flower from the garden and my holy grail of beach combing – a heart shaped pebble. As I write in my book “become a magpie” and you will always have lots of  lovely things to be creative with.  See you soon for more creativity.

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quick idea: disco vase

May 16, 2011  in diy craft projects, flowers, interior styling

glam disco vase

Here is a quick and simple idea to glamourise an ordinary clear glass vase.

My daughter and I had picked some flowers from the garden and I was looking for a vase to display them in. I had this old circular glass vase in the cupboard (I think it’s Ikea) and thought it would be perfect for this idea I had.

I simply tipped a bag of silver plastic sequins into the empty vase using a funnel and then topped the vase up with water. Some sequins floated and some sank and then I just popped in a bright red rose and voila, instant glam! If you want a more delicate look simply choose an appropriate bloom.

delicate disco vase

I was inspired by a couple of vintage mirror balls I bought from a flea market which, when the sun shines in to the room at a certain time of day, reflect little sparkles all around. If you try this idea at home, see if you can position it so that the sunlight can reflect off the sequins for an added sparkly effect.

Once the flower has faded you can use a sieve to catch the sequins when you tip the water away. Give them a rinse and leave to dry and you can use them again.

It’s a very simple idea that has a bit of eye-catching wow factor. So which way would you go – glamorous or delicate?

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from london with love

May 16, 2011  in my london, news


What a glorious wedding day, it makes me proud to be a Londoner on days like this. It was a day to remember and I’m glad I shared it with family and friends.

I loved the dress and the exquisite embroidery, loved the trees in the Abbey, loved the Spring flowers. Simple, classic and elegant. I loved the getaway car too though I think Prince Harry may have over-accessorised it a little!

We’ll be seeing the styling influences of the wedding winding their way into fashion and trends for a while I think.

kate for wills

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three go mad in liberty

May 16, 2011  in homemade, interior styling, news

Liberty launch

Liberty has been trading since 1875 and, as a textiles, craft and interiors girl, it is one of my most favourite shops in the world. I’ve been a regular visitor since I was a teenager and living in London means I find any excuse to pop in there regularly!

So imagine my excitement when I was asked by my lovely friend Holly Becker to be part of a styling demo for the launch of her new book Decorate…  at Liberty!  You can read the highlights of how Holly, Leslie Shewring of A Creative Mint and I went a little Liberty crazy over at Decor8.

Holly Becker, Leslie Shewring and Sania Pell

When we started brainstorming ideas for this dining table setting, one of things I said to Holly and Leslie was that we needed to “think catwalk”. We didn’t need to think about it being a realistic, practical table setting as it was a styling demo – it needed to be eye catching, creative and inspiring.

Liberty has a very British design aesthetic.  It is classic with a twist, elegant and a little bit eccentric. So we wanted our table to be a bit quirky too, a little bit bonkers – but in a good way. It needed to be Decor8 x Liberty. I think we achieved it, do you?

Liberty launch

Liberty launch

Liberty launch

We knew we wouldn’t be able to have a working bulb so we used a little mirror ball!

Liberty launch

We made each place setting unique!

Liberty launch

It was so much fun to collaborate with Holly and Leslie (they are both as lovely as they come across on their blogs) and the Liberty team were brilliant too.  I met so many great people that afternoon (and well into the evening!).  If you came along I do hope you enjoyed the demo!

I wish Holly and Joanna Copestick the very best success for Decorate!

P.S. Thank you to my wonderful assistant Polly Ord for helping make and to set up the table and to my husband for taking these photos while I was busy chatting away!!

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happy birthday homemade home

May 16, 2011  in news

The Homemade Home book

This is my very first blog post!

It’s been just over one year since The Homemade Home was first published by Cico Books and to celebrate I’ve launched my new website and started this blog to accompany it – Sania Pell At Home.

The response to my book over the last twelve months has been much greater than I had ever thought possible. I had been so caught up in writing, making and shooting it that I honestly hadn’t realised how the internet would mean I would be able to see everyone’s responses so immediately, and from all over the world too. A heartfelt thank you goes out to all those who have bought it, reviewed it and supported me along the way and made this year so special.

This blog is where I will share what I’m working on, my styling ideas, making projects and give you a window into my home. I will be posting regularly so do pop by to see what’s new.

If there is anything you would like to see or hear about do let me know! I would love to hear your comments.

Thank you for visiting and happy making.

Sania x

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