February 12, 2013 in flowers
Snowdrops are such a fresh little flower, so simple and delicate yet elegant. I‘m always excited when I first see them poking their heads through the soil in my garden. I planted the bulbs several years ago, purposefully in a little spot near the kitchen doors where they could catch my eye, and I now enjoy them blooming every year.
With this little vision of joy, you just know that Spring is not far away.
February 7, 2013 in books, diy craft projects
For some of the projects in my book The Homemade Home for Children, I made several variations but there just wasn’t space to show them all within the book. So I thought it would be interesting to show you some of the ones that we didn’t photograph for the book. They are extensions of the projects, helping to show how the basic idea can be taken and interpreted in different ways to create unique items for your home. Shown here is a variation of the Graphic Box project on pages 158 and 159 of the book and even though it was meant for small children, I really like the monochrome graphic quality and modernist feel and would be happy to have it on display anywhere in my house. This version hasn’t been seen anywhere before so thought I would take some photos and share it on my blog.
I had bought the old printer’s trays years ago from an antiques market in Greenwich, just because I liked it and thought I would use it at some point. I painted it white, inset some vintage map graphics into the back of holes and painted some wooden pieces in different shapes, taken from an old children’s game, and stuck them in with sticky pads so they were raised away from the back. I painted it in the simple black and white colour scheme as babies react well to monochrome visuals.
The large printer’s tray that features in the book was bought at my local car boot sale and I photographed this too below. The idea for was to create teaching aids that you would be happy to have on the wall and keep for future generations. I also made one for colours which is shown in the book and there is also another version that looks like a little house in the introduction pages if you have a copy of the book to flick through.
I wanted this project to show how you can make an attractive, unusual and unique item that will inspire children’s learning and look great hanging on the wall or placed on a shelf. I hope it succeeds.
If you haven’t got a copy of the book you can see some examples of the type of projects I created here.
The Homemade Home for Children is published by CICO Books and available now at Amazon UK and Amazon US.
February 3, 2013 in inspiring places
One freezing morning last month, I caught an early train out of London to look at a location for a magazine shoot I have been working on. The countryside was covered in frost and the fields whizzed before my eyes. I love how the landscape became pastel, the colours watered down by the layer of frost. Trees disappeared, fading into the distance, becoming ghostly in the damp, foggy air. I took these images through the window of the train, capturing fleeting moments of time on a chilly English morning.
Taking photos through windows and abstracting the landscape has become a regular thing I do on long journeys now. It began through the car window whilst visiting Tate Modern one rainy day and from the train on my family trip to Edinburgh last October. I have some more images through the windows of a boat, taken on a family day trip over Christmas, that I will post soon too.
January 21, 2013 in handmade goodness
A belated Happy New Year, I hope you have had a good start to 2013? It’s been a slow start getting back to my blog since a very busy Christmas and new year with lots going on, some great and some not so great which I must admit has made it hard to get started again. The new working year has begun with a bang, I worked on a really enjoyable food shoot last week with a wonderful team and alongside this I have been putting together a large interiors story for a magazine that we will be shooting on location soon. I was also interviewed by Making magazine for a future issue so keep your eye out.
I adore these two little birds, handmade by Abigail Brown, that my children received as gifts this Christmas. My daughter has the robin and my son the blue tit and they were delighted when they unwrapped them, big smiles on their faces and they sit very proudly in their bedrooms. These little birds are two of the varieties that visit our small London garden and we watch through the kitchen doors, the robins nesting in our hedge and the blue tits flitting in the branches of a silver birch. I photographed this one sitting in a handmade nest by Holy Smoke that I bought one year at the Selvedge fair.
They are beautifully handmade by Abigail in her London studio and have their own little personalities. No two birds are quite the same. They will be kept and treasured and hopefully become family heirlooms, given to future children.
You can see more of Abigail’s lovely work on her website.
December 19, 2012 in handmade goodness, inspiring places
Every year I decorate my tree in a mixture of these charming handmade Croatian decorations called ‘licitar’. This year is no different with the children helping me to hang them, carefully placing the galloping horses around the bottom branches of the tree. The top of the tree, where the children cannot reach, is hung with the smaller hearts, all slightly different, bought and collected over the years as our trees have grown to fit the spaces we live in. I have bought more of these gorgeous decorations every time I visit Zagreb.
They remind me of my childhood too. We always decorated the tree on Christmas Eve to the sound of Croatian carol singing and these decorations are unique to the Zagreb area. I love their homemade, naive and folkloric quality and I have not seen anything quite the same anywhere else. They are made from a type of honey dough, dipped in a red glaze and intricately decorated with fine piped icing, mirrors added for a little sparkle and sometimes a touch of découpage too. I painted this freehand Christmas tree on to a blank canvas for a bit of fun and to make it a feature.
They can be bought in various shapes and sizes such as hearts, horses, horseshoes, boots, birds, cherries and wreathes, and although they are sometimes referred to as gingerbread they don’t in fact contain any ginger.
Amazingly their origin dates back to the 16th century where decorated cakes were made in convents, in intricately carved moulds, and were sold in fairs and church festivals. In 2010 this style of Croatian craft was added to a UNESCO heritage list in order to help preserve its cultural significance. Nowadays the heart shapes are also given at Valentine’s Day and ‘volim te’ means ‘I love you’ in Croatian.
You can have a go at making your own if these inspire you, it shows how they are made here and you can buy them direct from Zagreb here.
I hope you like them as much as I do, they really are one of my favourite things.
Sretan Božić! (HappyChristmas!)
December 14, 2012 in diy craft projects, homemade, news
I had the pleasure of being asked by Grazia magazine’s Rachel Loos to be part of their Christmas special, in a feature on their favourite bloggers’ crafty Christmas ideas. I was asked if I could come up with and create a bauble idea and, as is my way, I created lots of variations of the same idea for the photo shoot and thought I would share them with you. I worked with photographer Chris Tubbs on the shoot for the magazine but I also I took a few snaps at home that you can see below, they are so easy to make why not give them a go yourself?
As it was Grazia, I wanted to break away from the traditional Christmas colours and give my baubles a fashion edge as well as a seasonal feel. Using basic plain glass baubles as my starting point I combined disco sparkle in the form of glitter and sequins in silvers and greys, with Pop-inspired fluorescent neon paint and ribbon made from strips of some of my favourite fashion fabrics by Liberty. In others I tipped tiny beads topped by ribbon from VV Rouleaux and applied embossed black and white messages giving them a kind of disco/80s/punky feel.
The Dymo message tape and labelmakers can be bought from places like WH Smiths and is a fun way of encorporating messages on all sorts of things like labels for jam jars of collected treasures or name tags on gifts.
I was quoted in Grazia saying “I like taking something plain and giving it a twist” and that is really my approach to making and creating as well as for interiors and styling.
The great thing about making your own decorations is you can choose colour combinations that work with your Christmas theme and interior style, and change things around each year if you wish. With plain glass baubles you can use whatever beads, sequins and ribbons you have to create unique and personal decorations that will catch your guests’ eyes when they visit over the festive holidays.
Have a lovely Christmas everyone.
December 5, 2012 in diy craft projects, homemade
If you’ve followed my blog since the early days you may know I help each year with my children’s school Christmas fair since my son first started nursery, and this year was no exception. Being part of the school community is a wonderful thing. When the children were little and I stayed at home and looked after my baby daughter, helping at the school gave me a creative outlet and contributed to a community that helped all the school children. Now my children are both at school and I am working much more I have less time to help, but this year I still managed to make a few items for the fair in evenings and spare moments which we sold on the gifts stall at the fair last Saturday. I snapped a few photos in my kitchen of some of the things I had made and thought I would share them.
Lavender bags are always popular, you can’t help but smell them when you pick them up, and however many we make (and between us we made almost 100 this year), we sell every single one. We sold them as singles or double packs in linen and Liberty print fabric, with a ribbon tied around them. They’re simple to make even if you have basic sewing skills and there are how-to instructions in my first book if it feels daunting. I posted about lavender bags as a great mother’s day gift back in March (see post) but they are perfect Christmas gifts too.
These little black notebooks were bought from my local Tiger store and I just added some vintage playing cards, bought from a car boot sale, to the front covers with double-sided tape. These are a simpler adaptation of the notebook project in my latest book (see my previous post). Great as a stocking filler with a little pack of coloured pencils.
The festive wreaths below are another popular item and look fab hanging from your front door or inside your home. This year I bought heart-shaped basic woven wreaths and decorated them with felt leaves that were cut out and stuck on. To do this pin a real leaf from a tree to your felt and cut around it as accurately as possible. I embellished with ribbons and covered buttons at the top of the wreath and added little birds from DZD. To see another variation of this project see my post with instructions from last year here.
Lots of parents helped and we also made lots of other items like hair clips and bands, embellished cushions, decorations, jars of sweets and lots of gifts donated by local companies and parents. It was a successful day, we raised money for the school but most importantly it was a lot of fun for children, parents and teachers to all get together on the same day.
Now it’s time to get back to planning our own family Christmas!
December 3, 2012 in books, homemade
Time is ticking along and there are now three gift-making weeks until Christmas so it’s the perfect time to get creative. There is nothing quite like a homemade present, made and given with love. My latest book The Homemade Home for Children – 50 Thrifty and Chic Projects for Creative Parents was released earlier this year and it got me thinking as to which projects from it could be made as Christmas gifts. Here are a few of my favourite projects that would make great festive presents.
This bookcase dolls house is a favourite of my daughter and her friends when they come to play. It’s fairly simple to make but needs a bit of time and would make every little girl happy to receive it. There are full how-to diy instructions for all of these projects in the book.
Theses notebooks are quick and easy to make and would make a great stocking filler that encourage drawing and writing.
These little stitched mice are cute and the book shows how to make a matchbox mouse house to go with them too. My book includes a template to photocopy for the shape of the mouse and step-by-step instructions.
These twirling sticks are as much fun for boys as they are for girls (that’s my daughter in the photo) and they are super easy to make. The dolls below are a more special gift, something for a little girl to cherish and keep forever, passing on to her own children one day. I made several variations of doll in the book including a football version that is great for boys too (my son loves his!).
It was my children’s school Christmas fair this weekend and, as in previous years, I made lots of items to sell on the gift stall to help raise money for the school. Most of them are twists of projects from my books and I took some snaps before they were sold which I will share on the blog soon.
I hope these images inspire you to have a go making gifts for children, family and friends, or if you don’t have time to make, you could gift them a copy of one of my books so that they can make some of the ideas for themselves – there are 45 more projects like these in the book!
The Homemade Home for Children is published by CICO Books and available now at Amazon UK and Amazon US.
November 30, 2012 in interior styling
As we are edging closer to Christmas I thought I would share some of my favourite images and products from the Cox & Cox shoots that I worked on earlier this year. Commercial styling can feel a bit topsy-turvy as we shot these festive images in the middle of summer last July, and last week I was on location shooting a Spring collection for next year! I thought the wirework chandelier above would make a great advent calendar so I wrapped up and hung 24 little treats with tags with the dates stamped on and also hung homemade biscuits that were baked using C&C’s cookie cutters.
Gift wrapping is one of those things that you can put your own creative stamp on and I wanted to show this with Cox & Cox’s great range of paper tags, ribbons and twines, wrapping paper sand little extras like the bark stars.
Take a look over on the Cox & Cox website’s Festive section for many more shots I styled, products to get creative with and some wonderful gifts for friends and family this Christmas.
You can also request a copy of the printed Christmas catalogue here.
November 28, 2012 in news
I had the pleasure of having photographer Akemi Kurosaka and writer Miyuki Sakamoto from Madame Figaro magazine in Japan pop over one day a couple of months ago to interview me and photograph the house. Along with another team they were photographing homes in London and Paris for this special issue.
It was a pleasure having them here and as always, it is interesting to see what they pick up and photograph in the house. This time my collection of rulers were spotted along my studio window sill and different views of the rooms were shot. And although I can’t understand any of the writing (I will ask a Japanese-speaking friend to translate!) it is really interesting seeing another country’s visual view on fashion, food (sushi is one of my favourites) and the photographic style and illustrations.
Madame Figaro is a high-circulation Japanese glossy lifestyle magazine with sections on fashion, interiors and food. It’s an international edition of the French Madame Figaro magazine.
I love to look at foreign magazines and buy them whenever I’m abroad and I came back with a copy of this magazine several years ago when I visited Japan for work. So it was with joy that I opened the package that fell through the letter box with a copy enclosed featuring my home and I.
It just reminds me I would love to visit Japan again soon, I’ll have to start saving my pennies.
November 25, 2012 in handmade goodness, inspiring places, new finds
We usually try to get away for a city break during autumn half term to recharge and and gain inspiration from a change of scene. One of the reasons (or excuses!) for our recent trip to Edinburgh was to visit my lovely friend, photographer Uli Schade and her husband Andrew Dick, who have just re-located there from London. It is Andrew’s home town and since the summer they have been busy bees, designing and opening a new destination menswear, accessories and home wares shop at number 3, North West Circus Place in Stockbridge, a beautiful Georgian terrace on a cobbled street in one of Edinburgh’s smartest areas. It is now open and they celebrated with a launch party this week. Please say hello to Dick’s.
All the clothes are sourced with care from all over the world and chosen for a reason, all the companies have a story and a background. Not the usual well-known brands but more interesting small companies, featuring high quality, handmade classic styles for men. Just some of the collection includes hand frame-knitted Shetland Isle jumpers by Laurence J Smith, flannel and chambray shirts from the New England Shirt Company, Dick’s own specification varsity jackets by Golden Bear and Tellason selvedge denim jeans from San Francisco, raincoats by Stutterheim in Sweden, classic Breton tops from France, brogues and boots by Tricker’s and Eastland and superb polos and t-shirts by Sunspel, both from England. It was perfect for my husband who loved it and bought lots. There is much more in the store and they are considering introducing some womenswear in the future too. I look forward to that!
And it’s not just for boys. The accessories and home wares include notebooks made in Paris by La Compagnie du Kraft – “The most unproductive makers of notebooks in the Western world”, incense by Paine’s of Maine, ceramics by Makkum Tichelaar – designed by Atelier NL and made from local Dutch clays (Uli made a fun animated video of them on their Facebook page here). They have leather wallets, pencil cases and footballs made by Sonnenleder in southern Germany, classic canvas bags by Brady, kitchen knives by French company Opinel and Windmuehlenmesser from Germany. There are handmade wooden crows by Mikael Nilsson in Sweden and woodblock letter prints by Chris Sleath, a local printmaker based in Edinburgh, hand-printed especially for Dick’s.
We also had a sneak peak of some fab wooden sledges that will be available for Christmas – the perfect toy for big and little kids!
I have worked with Uli on many occasions over the years, most recently on my Elle Decoration story. She took the images at the top of the post and is continuing to work as a photographer, travelling to London for shoots, but will also now be able to work for companies in Scotland. I also took a few snaps of my own when we visited the shop.
Andrew and Uli have renovated the Georgian shop and basement into a simple and stylish interior – grey plaster walls, washed wooden floor and utilitarian steel and wooden fittings – that allows the beautiful clothes to breath, and the carefully selected home ware items are a perfect complement to the space. The store is only a 10 minute walk from Prince’s Street in the centre through the New Town, at 3 North West Circus Place, Edinburgh EH3 6ST (Tel 0131 226 6220). See map here.
So if you ever visit Edinburgh do pop by and say hello to Andrew and Uli and have a browse in Dick’s. There are perfect things for the men in your life and you can pick up a little something for yourself too!
If you know anyone in or near Edinburgh there please share this page with them. A new Dick’s website and online shop is underway but in the meanwhile you can follow what’s happening and see more of what is on offer if you ‘like’ their Dick’s Facebook page.
I wish Uli and Andrew the very best of success with their new venture and look forward to a return visit soon! x
November 18, 2012 in handmade goodness, interior styling
I had the pleasure of popping over to Scottish jewellery designer maker Grainne Morton’s house whilst in Edinburgh and thought you would love to see it too. Grainne and I were at art college together and although we studied different subjects, we have kept in contact over the years. I bought my first piece of commissioned artwork from her to commemorate graduating from my BA as Grainne completed her MA. It now hangs in my daughter’s bedroom and I still love it. Every now and again at certain times in my life I try and save up and treat myself to commemorate an important event or achievement, and this was the first time. Grainne combines miniature found objects, often vintage and antique collected items, into exquisite unique arrangements set in precious metals – from small items like rings and cufflinks to necklaces, bracelets, brooches and jewellery artworks.
Grainne and her husband’s home has a lovely feel, full of character and warmth and that evening was filled with flickering candles, kitsch, dark and moody, fun and flippant but sophisticated too. So many unexpected items and objects to give little surprises and pleasures when you saw them. Gorgeous vignettes everywhere you looked, like a giant version of her jewellery. Luckily I had my camera and Grainne was happy to let me take some photos to share as her other guests arrived.
It was the Saturday evening when we popped over to her family home, filled with friends for a little bonfire and Halloween party, the children bobbed for apples hanging from strings, there were hollowed out pumpkins, marshmallows toasted over a fire, hot sausages in rolls and a homemade Halloween piñata followed by fireworks – a perfect evening, thank you Grainne!
I also took a few photos in her studio where her window and desk look onto the garden. I loved to see all her materials so beautifully organised, so much to play with and surrounded by inspiration.
The next treat I bought from her was when I had just finished my first book and I saw Grainne at a show in London and bought a flower brooch from her. I love it and it is a beautiful reminder of an achievement I was proud of (you can see the brooch here). For a special birthday my husband bought a gift voucher for me to choose something from Grainne’s collection and while she was exhibiting at the Made London design and craft show I chose a beautiful necklace and ring. I love them and have had lots of complementary comments while wearing them already.
You can find out more and see her work on Grainne’s website and her blog. Grainne’s work is also available to buy online at Seek & Adore. So if you fancy treating yourself to something special or putting it on your gift list this Christmas I highly recommend Grainne’s jewellery.
If you’re lucky enough to live near Edinburgh you can pop along to Grainne’s open studio and sample sale on 1st and 2nd December where there will be 15% off her current collection and well as sale items, and for those in London you can see her work at the Primrose Hill Designer Sale on the 8th December. Find out more here.
I hope you love her house and her work as much as I do.