Wednesday, 19 July 2017

An Organised Desk is An Organised Mind - Unless You're Einstein!

An organised desk is an organised mind - or so I've been led to believe!


In the absence of a dedicated study of my own (the garage conversion into studio/office is on the endless list of things to complete...), I have claimed a corner of my dining room to use as my temporary 'control centre'.  This is where I sit to write, contemplate and plan.  However, until earlier this week, it had also become a dumping ground for things that were either on their way back in or out of the vintage armoire.  It had also become a holding bay for stray letters, candles, homeless paperwork, and pens that had passed their best, as well as the odd discarded dog chew or hair grip...Something needed to change...


So when the lovely people form Cox & Cox offered me a voucher to choose something from their website, I knew exactly what I wanted...


Launched in 2001 with the desire to create a handpicked collection of homeware products that couldn't be found in traditional catalogues, Cox & Cox describe their range as 'Unique, Eclectic & Beautiful!' - and as a lover of eclectic and beautiful interiors, I decided to use this mantra to organise my little study area in an aim to entice myself to take more pleasure in sitting at my desk - and see it as a joyful place to be.

I had already found the desk on eBay a couple of years ago, and although I am known for painting much of my furniture, I felt that this particular area shouldn't be too girly or 'feminine', but should maintain an air of utility, functionality and efficiency about it.  This of course didn't mean compromising on making it a stylish or attractive corner, but as the rooms main use is as a dining room, with a huge centrally located chandelier, fabulously French vintage armoire, and a white painted ornate sideboard that resembles an iced wedding cake, the style of this study corner could afford to be more pared down, with a few carefully chosen accessories to add sparkle and bling if necessary.

So, what did I choose at Cox & Cox?


I had been coveting these wire shelving units for quite a while now.  I love their old school sense of function and usefulness, and I loved that despite being new, they still had a touch of vintage about them...

Cox & Cox Wire Magazine Rack
I felt that the rough coated wire would create an interesting contrast to the prettiness of the rest of the room, without causing too harsh a difference.  They are both also the perfect size to hold my camera, chargers and stationary paraphernalia....


The tarnished metal of the wire work, works beautifully against white walls, but also works well with other metallic accessories - especially bronze and gold.

Cox & Cox Wire Shelf Rack With Hooks
You can find the vertical magazine rack unit here,  and the horizontal shelf rack with hooks here.


I also added a small but practical Vintage Style Zinc Jug to hold some candles, but it would work equally as well as a pen holder, cutlery jug or filled with a small bunch of flowers to add colour.


The final touch, was this exquisite Glass Memories Box (similar Here) , which would be perfect to use as a jewellery case, or to showcase treasured items.  In this instance, I've used it to hold my business cards, but knowing me, it will probably make it's way around the house and hold a variety of pretty object - including jewellery - before it settles in it's forever home!







I think that the end result manages to reflect my love of new, vintage AND pretty things, without detracting too much away from the rest of the room and it's primary purpose - dining!  I also like to think that now there is a place for everything, and everything is in its' place - a huge surge of productivity will soon follow....Mmmmmmm

Of course, despite the thrill of a good sort out, one must always allow for the presence of a few bits of frivolity and inspirational clutter to help the creative juices to flow (Hence the addition of a stapler in the guise of a dog...).  After all, as Albert Einstein once said...  

"If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, Of what, then, is an empty desk a sign..?"

Quite right too!

Until Next Time,





SHARE:

Monday, 5 June 2017

Happy Choices...!

It's an interesting dilemma, the day ones daughter decides that she wants some input into the decoration of her own room.

When you feel that you have a distinct interior style of your own - mine being English country house chic, the idea of relinquishing all authority, and letting a thirteen year old have a free reign over the decor of even one room is a scary prospect!


I can remember designing my children's nurseries, and choosing vintage and retro items so carefully.  Everything was perfectly thought out and co-ordinated in pastels and cream.  A bit of faded chintzy floral, for the girls and muted pastel coloured spots or stripes for my son, all tied together with pastel chippy painted furniture and a few dark wood family heirlooms thrown in.  Their rooms conveyed a sense of vintage nostalgia and harped back to a fantasy past where childhood was quainter, and more innocent, and when girls wore smocked dresses and boys wore shorts until their 16th birthday - or so I imagined in my little fantasy bubble!!

The Girls Original Bedroom 
Decorating an infants bedroom  is one of the most exciting things to focus on during the loooooong wait for baby to arrive - and I relished the job.  Then for pretty much a decade, and with three children, the interior choices remained very much under my domain, with the occasional addition of a requested riding hat or rosette, a few pictures of foxes when one of the twins went through a fox obsession, and 'tastefully' vintage classic car memorabilia for my son  -  which thankfully was all in keeping with the overall aesthetic of the house.

I knew that one day the time would come when I would be hiding my nail varnishes, lipsticks and even my best shoes from my tweenie girls, but for some reason, it hadn't occurred to me that I would be dealing with daughters who had strong ideas on  interiors, and wanted to stamp their own identity on their surroundings...I wonder where they got that from...?


...Yet here we are, currently in the midst of organising and planning one of the girls' bedrooms at her request.  The YouTube generation has brought with it a distinctly modern 'white studio' look, full of neutrals and metalics, and a young girls bedroom must apparently now fulfil the multi functions of film location as well as chic teenage hangout, office/editing suite and luxe sleepover quarters...  The look, apparently,  must be light, airy and slick with a hint of glamour, and despite the fact that I don't tend to do 'slick' - I'm rather more of a lived in and worn sorta gal -  this is the look that my daughter aspires to, and at least she's not asking for black walls and posters of Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden!



Rather than clash heads, we have reached a middle compromise.  We jokingly call it 'Studio Vintage' - although I prefer the idea of Barbarella meets Jane Austen!  There will be lots of white, cream and neutral, with a bit of chippy paint  (hurrah) - in white or cream - (pink NO longer allowed Mummy!) - with metallic accents, which can be changed and moved around as tastes change.  It's still a work in progress, and is actually quite an exciting project for us to embark on together.

So far there have yet to be too many disagreements.  My daughter has seen a metal bed in a copper finish, based on an old fashioned hospital bed shape, while I would prefer for her to have a vintage, white painted upholstered French bed, however, we are both agreed on a white chandelier, and a painted white French armoire wardrobe.

Thankfully something else that we both love, and which adds a modern, yet comfortable touch to the room, is this fabulous Pebble Cushion in pure white from Happy & Co.


Made from recycled materials and a duck feather pad, It works because it adds some much need texture and softness to the flat background of neutral paint and 'harder' metallic accessories.  It is also quirkily individual enough, that my daughter feels it can be unique to her own more modern style... (what she doesn't realise is that I've been trying it out around the house, because I love its huggable, 'squeeze me' tactile appeal! )




Happy & Co are an up and coming homeware and furniture company that are new to me, which again appeals to the 'cool' factor for my daughter, although, we are both attracted to the fact that as well as providing extremely stylish products, they are also a company that believe businesses should be socially responsible.  So for each product they sell, 10% of their profits are invested into their  Happy & Co Farm in Cambodia. This provides much-needed jobs for the young men and women, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables for the whole community.  What's not to love - shopping while giving something back - such a perfect combination.

I also had a typical 'Mummy' response to the beautiful packaging that our cushion was sent in.  It came in it's own hardwearing cotton bag drawstring bag, with the stylish Happy & Co. logo,  which will serve perfectly as a laundry bag for my daughters newly finished room...although I'm sure that she may have a few rather more 'youthful' ideas for it!



Of course, there's still lots to do, paint and finish, but I think that we have a good framework to work with, and this little corner is a 'living mood board' for what's to come.  What's particularly nice is that Happy & Co. represents a wonderful medium where this mother and Daughter can meet in the middle and enjoy an aesthetic that covers both our style needs...and what could be Happier than that!


Until Next Time,



Disclaimer: This post was written in collaboration with Happy & Co. all words, opinions and views expressed are my own.



SHARE:

Friday, 2 June 2017

Tales From A Country Kitchen - Lemon Buttercream Sponge Cake!

Now, I make no claim to be a master baker, but several of you asked for my Lemon Buttercream Sponge Cake after seeing the image on my Instagram page! Well here it goes - and just to warn you, in my household we like our portions generous and our lemon cake zesty, so do adjust to suit your taste...  


I very rarely follow a strict recipe when baking - my mantra is 3 quantities the same and half as many eggs.  So for instance, if I were making 12 cupcakes I would use 8oz (225g) of each flour, butter and sugar and then 4 eggs.  If I were making a single layer sponge, then it would be 6oz (175g) of flour, butter, sugar, and 3 eggs.   This is purely my own version, and means that I can whip up quick batches of things without having to check recipes.   I am in no way stating that it is the best way - or even the correct way...but I will admit that it is "My" way and perhaps a 'Lazy' way - haha.  Enjoy!! 

FOR THE SPONGE CAKE;

10 oz / 275g Self Raising Flour
10 oz / 275g Softened Butter
10oz / 275g Caster Sugar
5 Eggs (Beaten)
Lemon Zest from 1 fresh Lemon
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder

Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Line 2 (20cm) sponge tins with nonstick baking paper.

In a large bowl, blend together the butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy.

Add the beaten eggs. 

Add the lemon zest and stir in.

Add baking powder to measured out flour.
Sift half the flour into the mixture and fold in with a spoon. Repeat with the remaining flour.

Divide the mixture between the lined and prepared tins.

Bake in the centre of preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer when inserted into the centre comes out clean and the cake is springy to touch.

Remove from oven and leave cakes in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.


FOR THE FILLING;


  • 500g icing sugar
  • 120g unsalted butter
Juice of 1 fresh lemon (I actually used the juice from 2!!)
Lemon zest from 1 fresh lemon

In a large bowl, beat the icing sugar, unsalted butter, lemon juice and lemon zest together until smooth, light and fluffy.



Take one sponge layer and spread half the lemon filling on it. Place the other sponge layer on top.

Spread the remaining lemon filling on top of the cake. Sprinkle on the left over lemon zest and dust with a little icing sugar.



    Now, make yourself a cup of tea, cut yourself a large slice and enjoy - and if you REALLY need to share - make sure you cut yourself an extra slice before they arrive!!

    Until next time,




    SHARE:

    Tuesday, 30 May 2017

    The Romance of an Outdoor Chandelier!

    I am extremely late to the party when it comes to Pinterest, and to be quite honest, perhaps that has been quite a good thing.  My head is already full of a thousand potential home improvements and prettifying ideas, and adding yet another social media platform for me to feed off and gain inspiration from is simply adding an extra book to the British Library sized pile of research images that already exist in my head!


    But Ho Hum - I firmly believe that one can never have too much knowledge - or inspiration, and Pinterest really is a visual treat to behold and get lost in.  Due to this latest obsession - as well as some inspiration from a friend's Instagram story, I recently decided that I simply HAD to have an outdoor chandelier in order to experience the sort of romantic, candlelit evening feasts that one sees on the pages of wedding magazines - usually  depicting scenes of fabulously chic marriage proposals...

    I naturally ignored the fact that I am already married and have no need for a romantic proposal site - after all, there really doesn't need to be a specific reason to set the scene for romance - regardless of whether the actual reality involves a boisterous chorus of supporting characters including a dog and teenagers who want to dine by candlelight too!

    So, having stared, pondered and scratched my head in confusion at a garish red and gold baroque style chandelier that had been left in the basement by the previous owners of Hill House when we first moved here seven years ago,  I suddenly realised that thanks to the addictive habit of social media giving one reasons to 'need' unnecessary things -  it did in fact have a purpose after all!


    This 'purpose' was helped by the fact that my husband had obviously had enough of my hoarding ways and had recently left the offending chandelier by the dustbin in order to discreetly transport it to the dump when I wasn't looking...


    Having rescued my 'treasure', all it needed was a bit of stripping down, polishing up and spray painting to even out the colour, and convert it back to the original purpose of a chandelier - to hold candles!


    A quick trip to the DIY shop to get a few supplies was necessary, and having pondered over how quickly attaching the chandelier to some lovely rustic rope would cause it to go up in flames and land on my head, I settled on some solid and flame friendly metal chain link...


    Having decided on the perfect branch in the garden, and in the absence of my husband who had hightailed it (one chandelier lighter) to the dump regardless, (I believe that the dump is his 'Happy Place'), there then came the difficult task of getting the chain over said branch and down again without getting it entwined and caught up amongst the leaves.


    After a few failed and rather perilous attempts, where the chain came back hurtling towards me with seemingly more force than I had thrown it, I realised that it would be easier (as well as safer)   to throw a far lighter ball of twine over the branch instead,  then by attaching the heavy chain to it's end I could hoist the chain up with ease.



    Once this epic feat of engineering (as I proudly relayed the experience to my husband upon his return...) had been achieved, it was left to attach the chandelier at the perfect height, and secure it with a heavy duty link.



    This done, and owing to the particularly fine weather over the back holiday weekend, I was able to give the red areas of the chandelier a quick spray of gold metallic paint in situ, which then dried within minutes.




    Five neutral tapered candles completed the look, and all that was left to do was to set the table and wait for sunset!


    I think that a dining area lit by candles is quite fitting for Hill House - a country home that was completed in 1822,  at a time when all lighting would have been either firelight, candlelight or if one were extremely modern - oil lamp!


    If you'd like to see the whole experience in 'live action', please head along over to my YouTube Channel here.

    In the mean time, I shall be sharing a quiet, romantic, candelit supper a deux...plus 2 x 13 year olds, a 15 year old and a dog...Who said that romance was dead...!


    Until next time,






    SHARE:

    Wednesday, 19 April 2017

    An Easter Monday Stroll Through Blakeney, North Norfolk...

    There can be nothing better recommended to blow away the cobwebs of carbohydrate induced inertia,  than a pleasant post lunch stroll through the gorgeous streets of the North Norfolk coastal village of Blakeney.

    Perfectly restored brick and flint houses, tastefully faded old wooden doorways, clusters of what were once fishermans cottages, and a panoramic view over the Blakeney salt marshes provide a picture perfect and genteel backdrop for the traditional Easter pursuit that is known as 'Looking At Other People's Houses'...


    ...It also provides a beautifully co-ordinated colour chart of what I imagine to be Farrow & Balls finest...

    ...It all made me want to immediately bound home and rethink the colour of my front door...

    Mmmmm...a light 'Bone' or perhaps a more dramatic 'Stiffkey Blue'...?

    ...Even the quaint village Stores was picture perfect...

    Such welcoming facades, which I suspect look quite magical lit by lamplight in the evening...

    Some - equally as splendid - faded grandeur...


    ...As well as a few secret doorways...

    ...Small alleyways,  populated by gravel roads and beautiful, neatly kept cottages...

    Each garden beautifully tended...

    ...And many that I'd gladly move into straight away if asked...

    Our impeccably decorated lunch spot...

    The view on the way back to the car...

    ...And if you fancy a longer stroll, there are numerous nearby coastal walks - perfect for a spot of dog walking, crabbing and bird watching, or simply just to walk off the sticky toffee pudding that somehow found itself sitting eagerly on your plate at lunch - begging to be eaten whilst shamelessly lavishing itself in cream right in front of your very eyes...Not all so restrained after all!

    Until next time,

    SHARE:
    © The Hill House Diaries. All rights reserved.
    Blogger Templates by pipdig