Archive for June 2011

at home with julia bostock

June 28, 2011  in inspiring places, interior styling

I met Julia about ten years ago when I was an assistant stylist on a photo shoot and we just clicked, it’s that simple. I love her relaxed way and we have remained friends ever since. When I started working as a stylist in my own right Julia and I shot together and I’ve also made props for her. There are some images in my portfolio of our work, and hopefully there will be more soon.

Julia is a fantastic photographer specialising in photographing children, mainly fashion and interiors, for commercial and editorial and has worked for companies including Monsoon, Marie ChantalJigsaw Kids, Caramel and Harrods and magazines including Vogue Bambini, Milk, Junior, Marie Claire and Red amongst others. Her kind, relaxed and fun way of working means her shoots are too and I think it shows in the children’s faces.

Last weekend we went to stay with her and her family in their new house in Suffolk with her two girls, husband Ben and Poppy the sheep dog and they have started decorating and remodelling. Julia and Ben have great style and I couldn’t help but ask if I could take a few quick snaps of their lovely home. Just a little snippet. I can’t wait to see how it progresses.

Top photo – Good luck charms: a silk flower garland hangs on the back door.

julia's home

This painting is by Sue Skeen and from the Kettle’s Yard Found sale.

Below is Julia’s favourite photo which was a gift from her husband Ben and is by the renowned photographer Mario Giacomelli. There is currently an exhibition of his landscape work running now until 30th July at Ben’s gallery, Atlas, at 49 Dorset Street, London W1.

julia's home

The little collected shells in the bottom left corner were threaded on a stick with a sweet little message from the girls for their dad.

Julia’s story in the May/June issue of Vogue Bambini is just amazing and I love it. She has a story in the new July issue too which I can’t wait to see.

Vogue Bambini June

Vogue Bambini June

Vogue Bambini June

You can see more of Julia’s work on her personal website here and also on the One Photographic website. If you have 5 minutes, have a look, her work is beautiful.

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suffolk seen

June 24, 2011  in inspiring places

Last weekend we fled London to visit friends in Suffolk. It’s a lovely part of the country, beautiful coastline and countryside and lots of arts, crafts and antique shops to browse whilst eating fish and chips and ice cream by the seaside. While we were there we went to Snape Maltings in Saxmundham where our friend Ben has an inspiring new photography gallery. If you like fine art photography take a look at the Atlas Gallery website, Ben’s London and Snape galleries show a who’s who of influential photographers.

The Maltings is a great place to visit – art, culture, history, food and and a bit of shopping all in the amazing surroundings of (mostly) restored 19th century warehouses by the river and surrounded by stunning scenery. There is a music performance hall, lots of art exhibitions and sculptures by artists including Barbara Hepworth and Gary Hume. Have a look at their website for more info.

They currently have lots of exhibitions running as part of SNAP Art at the Aldeburgh Festival which is on until the 26th June. The giant silhouette on the wall above is by Simon Liddiment and I particularly liked the Johnnie Shand Kydd exhibition. I couldn’t help but take photos of the huge black and white prints wallpapered to the crumbling walls of a roofless, four story high, junk-filled warehouse that has been left in its state of disrepair. It was stunning.

This is only on until Sunday so don’t miss out if you are anywhere close by.

Aldeburgh town is on the seaside close by and is lovely too with the most delicious ice cream shop and a great beach for pebble collecting!

Have you been? I can’t wait to go back!

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fluro cutlery

June 22, 2011  in diy craft projects, vintage finds

I feel the need for some colour at the moment so my vintage cutlery received the fluro treatment! There is a bit of a trend for painted and coloured cutlery I’ve been noticing and I have taken it in my own way by simply spray painting some of the handles.

Fluro cutlery by Sania Pell - neon, ombré, spray painted flatware ©2011

I picked up this old silver-plated cutlery at my local car boot sale for 50 pence each which is such a bargain. I love the fact it is all mismatched designs and styles, it gives it character and makes things more interesting. I gave them all a good clean and then took them into the garden, put down some newspaper and blasted the handles with the bright pink and orange spray paint I had in my paint collection.

This spray paint will scratch off but I don’t mind, the patina will add character. To reduce scratching I would use enamel paint or even just dip the handles into pots of different coloured paint.

Or I can scrub it off and repaint them another colour, perhaps to match the theme of a table setting in a shoot. Just a frivolous bit of fluro fun!

Update: It seems this picture has popped up around the web without me knowing, much to my surprise, especially on Pinterest. So just to elaborate on my comments below, I didn’t do this to my everyday cutlery that we eat with, this is old cutlery that I use as props for photos. Plasti-kote say that their Fast Dry Enamel , which comes in lots of colours, is completely non-toxic when dry and contains no ingredients that would be harmful to children or pets – but solvent-based spray paint can be harmful if ingested and you should always check the smallprint on any paint you use, follow the maker’s instructions and use common sense. If in doubt ask an expert at your local paint store.

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family treasure

June 17, 2011  in homemade, vintage finds


I think I may get my love of collecting and keeping little things from my Grandmother. She has always been a magpie. She is elderly now so her wings have been clipped, but she always kept everything. And I mean everything. As children, whenever we were at her house and asked for something then she had it. Somewhere, from a draw or a cupboard or a box on a shelf, she would pull out what we needed.

Last year, when my mother and I were at her apartment helping organise things, we discovered a whole wealth of treasures squirrelled away; beautiful vintage tins, my mother’s baby clothes, embroidered table linen, amidst other saved items like old egg boxes and tinfoil sweet wrappers all flattened in a pile.

Amongst the items was this lovely little pinny. It was my mother’s when she was about three or four, a similar age to my daughter now. I love the detail in the simple dots and pleats and my Grandmother’s darning just adds to it. Little patches of history of that give it so much character.

vintage pinnie

Like my grandmother, I love to collect and keep little things that I don’t have a purpose for. But I know that at some point I’ll have an idea for… or an occasion to use… those beautiful felted balls, that vintage ribbon or that old tape measure. It means that when I have an idea and want to get straight on with making, then I can usually rummage around and find something suitable to make it special, rather than write a shopping list and lose the momentum of the idea.

The clothes hanger in the photo is one that I made using scraps of fabric that I already had. It is a project from The Homemade Home with step-by-step instructions if you want to try it at home. It now hangs in my daughter’s bedroom to be enjoyed by a fourth generation of little girl. Something to make me remember my family history and smile.

To me, this kind of family treasure is priceless.

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in the sunday telegraph

June 15, 2011  in flowers, news

Sunday Telegraph mention

Although I have worked with lots of amazing photographers, I think this may be the first time I’ve seen one of my own photos in print!  I was very flattered when The Sunday Telegraph contacted me to ask if they could use one of the photos from my recent Forget-me-not post.

Anne Cuthbertson wrote in her piece ‘A nostalgic return: remember forget-me-nots':

The forget-me-nots have been the biggest surprise [in her garden]. They were nowhere to be found when I moved in, but this spring, tiny blue flowers have been frolicking along the base of the greenhouse and the ancient yew and through the borders. I have always considered it a childhood flower – sweetly nostalgic but, like buttercups. an uncontrollable nuisance. But so stunning is the frothy baby-blue bank that I am converted.

“I am not alone. The interiors stylist Sania Pell posted the most beautiful “bloom in miniature” pictures of forget-me-nots on her blog ( recently. She writes “to me forget-me-not conjures up old-fashioned love letters and romantic messages”.

Anne went on to write “Forget-me-nots also made rare appearances at the Chelsea Flower Show… Eyeing the show gardens I realised my shabby garden had stumbled into chic.”

Big thank yous to Anne for mentioning me in her lovely article and also to Rona from Flowerona for pointing her in my direction.

To read my original Forget-me-not post click here.

P.S. The graphic floral mug in the photo is one that I hand painted at a ceramics cafe a few years ago.

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wild strawberries

June 12, 2011  in flowers, food

I seem to be obsessed with miniature plants and flowers at the moment and I photographed these little wild strawberries that I’ve been growing in my garden. Like my Forget-me-nots, these mini strawberry plants also came from my parents’ garden a few years ago. They grow happily everywhere, little off shoots creeping onto other bits of soil, the runners creating new plants where ever they touch.

wild strawberry

My children love the little plants and tiny flowers and watch them closely from when they begin to flower in April and change from charming little flowers to these sweet little strawberries by May and June. They watch and learn about plants, without realising, and then harvest the tiny crop, eating them straight from the plant. When the children were really small they used to run out into the garden every morning and see if any had ripened overnight and nibble them up before the snails got to them. They are still intrigued by the mininess, the novelty of such a small version to the larger ones everybody knows.

wild strawberry

This little vintage vase was given to me by my mother and is an absolute  favourite of mine, I love the way it mimicks a little strawberry, it has a certain charm but also a graphic quality. The wonky plate it’s sitting on is one that I made by rolling out a handful of white, air-drying Das clay on a chopping board and then cutting the shape out with a sharp knife. I left it to dry and then sanded down the edges with an emery board to a smooth finish. The typed card in the background was bought at a most wonderful book shop in Notting Hill, Lutyens & Rubinstein.

The wild has been tamed in my tiny London garden with tiny strawberries loved by tiny children.

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the homemade home now in german!

June 10, 2011  in diy craft projects, news

Lieblings Deco

I was delighted when I heard about this!  The German publishing company Callwey have translated my book and LieblingsDeko: Schöner wohnen mit kreativen Ideen is now available and has had great reviews in Living At Home magazine and NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.

A copy winged its way over to me from and it looks great.  Callwey have chosen a different image for the cover – the loverbird pillows, which is one of my favourite projects. I think it looks great. A big thank you to everyone at Callwey!

If you know anyone German who you think may like it, please pass on the link to them.  You can buy the book here on

Lieblings Deco

Lieblings Deco

Lieblings Deco

Who knows, maybe The Homemade Home will be translated into other languages too?

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what view do you wake up to?

June 7, 2011  in handmade goodness, interior styling

I think waking up and seeing some of your favourite things is the perfect way to start the day, especially if your bedroom window doesn’t have a great look out.

This is the shelf on the wall at the end of my bed. Some of my favourite prints and vases in soft, natural greys with a splash of warm yellow and a little bit of wrongness to make it right – a block of fluorescent yellow.

my bedroom shelf

The framed print is one of my favourite possessions. It’s a signed print by the artist Craigie Aitchison that I bought about ten years ago as something I could really enjoy every day and that I could pass down to my children.

As well as homemade and vintage things, I really appreciate handmade work by artists and crafts people and love to support them when I can. The elegant tall dark grey vase and rounded mid-grey one are both by Sophie Cook who produces beautiful ceramics. The little white ceramic cube with the black line is by Niina Kuosmanen. I bought it from her at ‘One Year On’ at the New Designers show a couple of years back and love them as every cube is unique. The little white vase I bought at Origin a while back and I love its simplicity and shape.  Unfortunately the stamp on the bottom is unclear ( ‘MO’ I think) and I can’t remember who made it!  If you recognise it please let me know in the comments.

The bright yellow cube screen print is by Sophie Smallhorn who does really beautiful, graphic work. The vintage spectacles are a car boot sale purchase and the flower brooch is by my friend and very talented jeweller Grainne Morton. I bought it as a gift to myself when I finished writing The Homemade Home.

a splash of neon yellow

What view do you wake up to?

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June 3, 2011  in vintage finds

The last car boot sale was fabulous. I was there at 7.30am on the dot – an early start for a Sunday! At this time people are still setting up but the regular sellers know that keen buyers start early so there is always lots to see.  So the early bird found lots of interesting bits and bobs, some of which are useful(ish) and some not at all! I bought a few pieces for an up and coming project that I’ll tell you more about in due course.

vintage finds

These are just old balls! The white one is a well used polo ball, no longer round from all the knocks. I think the wooden ones are just from vintage games like skittles but I just loved the simplicity of the shape with the natural materials and tones. The three placed together work really well and no longer look like sports/game balls but take on a kind of 1950s’ sculptural feel.

vintage finds

This game of “Muggings” was £1.00, I’m sure I’ll use the numbers it in a project somewhere.

vintage finds

The little night light holder on the right is from around 1890 and very sweet and the old box of matches have a lovely graphic quality. They’re sitting on an old note book with beautiful writing, someone’s little diary dated July 1939. These pages are from a little holiday they took “…a perfect blue sky, not a sign of a cloud!”

vintage finds

I bought this immaculate and beautiful vintage box of starched collars too. I’m not sure what I will use them for yet, but they are just great to have.

vintage finds

A vintage pair of scissors, I love their sculptural shape and sharpened they could be practical too, and another old fabric tape measures. And yes… more keys! I admit I may have a key problem, I just can’t stop buying them. I think it’s the fact they had a purpose once and now you don’t know what lost treasures they could unlock.

vintage finds

I just loved this old disco dance champion medal, who could resist? Now where did I put my dancing shoes…

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craft project: fabric button brooches

June 1, 2011  in diy craft projects, homemade

fabric button brooches

I made these little fabric brooches last year for the launch party of my book. They were little gifts for my guests to wear at the party and to take away with them as keepsakes. Each one was unique and my guests could take their pick and choose the one they liked most. You could use this idea for weddings too (make a batch as wedding favours for your guests) and they are a great conversation starter or ice breaker when people don’t know each other. They also work well as decorative additions to liven up plain cushions and other furnishings.

These were all made from scraps of fabric and ribbons that I already had in my haberdashery stash and are an adaptation of the ‘covered buttons’ project on page 176 of my book The Homemade Home.

brooches on cushions

You can use either a metal badge making kit (I use my children’s Bandai badge maker) which come with pins for attaching, or you can buy diy button kits from a haberdashery which have a front part and a back part that simply snap together, sandwiching the fabric and holding it firm. I have explained the haberdashery button covering method below, as it is more accessible.

Covering buttons in an unexpected fabric adds quirkiness and individuality to an outfit or cushion, and they work well grouped together. Each button requires only a scrap of fabric, so you can go to town with your combinations of colours and patterns, or opt for a more coordinated theme. Here I have used different types and colours of fabric – Liberty prints, plain linen, geometric patterns and vintage fabric too, along with various ribbons in different widths and materials in neutral colours, spots and of course my regulars – neon pinks and oranges.

button badgesCovered-button kits are available from most haberdashers, they have little hooks to grip the fabric and a snap-on back to finish it off and keep it neat. They have a loop (shank) on the back for attaching.

materials and equipment:

• Button covering kit (buttons can be bought in various sizes and are not too expensive)

• Needle and thread

• Scissors

• Scraps of fabric

• Ribbon

• Safety pins

the steps:

1. Cut out a circle of fabric with a diameter slightly less than twice the diameter of the button.

2. Using a needle and thread, sew running stitch around the edge of the circle and place the button upside down in the center of the circle and pull the threads together to gather the fabric around the button and knot.

3. Place your ribbon on top of the gathered fabric (still on the back), in the position you are happy with. Check the position of the shank if you want your ribbon to hang straight down. Snap the back on so it clamps the ribbon in place as well as finishing the button. If your fabric is thick it can be quite difficult to push the back on. A cotton or fine linen works well.

4. If the shank sticks out too far you can push it in so it is flatter to the back.

5. Attach a small safety pin so you can fix it to clothes or furnishings or you could sew it on to be more permanent.

Have fun making!

If you try this I’d love to see how you get on and you can post your photos on my Facebook page here.

This project of mine was originally featured on

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