My Favourite Decor Books

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

National Portrait Gallery

As a lover of paintings, the National Portrait Gallery send me regular updates on what is showing.... for all those of you interested in LUCIEN FREUD'S PAINTINGS - there is an exhibit planned for 9 February to 27 May 2012.

Freud's paintings are often brutal and raw, with exquisite brushwork.

Quote below from the NPG website:

Lucian Freud (1922 – 2011) was one of the most important and influential artists of his generation. Paintings of people were central to his work and this major exhibition, spanning over seventy years, is the first to focus on his portraiture.
Produced in close collaboration with the late Lucian Freud, the exhibition concentrates on particular periods and groups of sitters which illustrate Freud's stylistic development and technical virtuosity. Insightful paintings of the artist's lovers, friends and family, referred to by the artist as the 'people in my life', will demonstrate the psychological drama and unrelenting observational intensity of his work.
Featuring over 100 works from museums and private collections throughout the world, some of which have never been seen before, this is an unmissable opportunity to experience the work of one of the world's greatest artists.

Have a great day! 
(it's raining in good old England, but I LOVE THE RAIN!!!)

Five a day?

In between work and a million other things mums do on a daily basis, I'm trying to paint - emphasis on trying because I know I'm not there yet, and many years ago, an art teacher told me I had no clue about colour, so here's hoping I haven't got all the values mixed up....why Five a Day?  Well here in England, we have a healthy living incentive to try to get children and adults actually to eat five fruit and veg per day - no, not five fruit and five veg, just a mixture of them, but five a I had these lovely Granny smith and a rather yellow Golden Delicious!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Christmas Spice

It’s that time of year again Christmas Fever’s upon us …the stores all have enormous Christmas trees decorated to the hilt, baubles and tinsel streaming everywhere… and it’s time to think about Christmas Dinner…and what to make and if like me…you like to mix up the old tradition of turkey then you might like this recipe:

Rum and Raisin Sauce
(I know...I've started with dessert!!)

This is an 1998 Martha Stewart recipe found in one of my Martha Stewart LIVING magazines which I’ve used for years now… (I know!!!) - it’s very festive, oozes rum and great over vanilla ice cream….because it’s an American recipe, I’ve adapted it to UK so you don’t have problems finding ‘corn syrup’ etc…so this is my take on it:

½ cup dark brown sugar (Muscovado sugar)
1/2 cup corn syrup (UK golden syrup)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ cup dark rum
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup dark raisins

I usually soak the raisins in the rum and leave to stand for about 2 hours so that the raisins absorb some of the rum.


In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar and golden syrup.  Set over medium to low heat and stir until well combined and the sugar has melted.
Remove from the heat, add the butter, rum and raisins, stirring until the butter has completely melted and the raisins are plump and juicy. Serve the sauce warm or at room temperature over the ice cream.

It keeps really well and can even be frozen a couple of weeks before Christmas and reheated to serve warm.

It makes a great home made Christmas gift too!

(Don't you just love these little jars - I found them at The Hambledon in Winchester)

Bon Apetite!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Christmas Table Decor

I've still got a couple of weeks to think about how I'm going to decorate my Christmas table - I know you are thinking about it too....we need inspiration don't we?  I like having a different table each year and I think I might have gone through all the usual colours....

Here's some inspiration for all those of you who want to do something different:

Feminine and pretty....

A turquoise Christmas Table

Pretty in Pink ...

(photo verdigrisvieblogspot)

Dark and sultry

Ice white like this....

Your mantlepiece....

Or you might like this one...

I really love the linen table cloth, the table arrangements and decor but I think it might be a little crowded ...what do you think?

A rustic Christmas table at it's very best
(photo from The InsideStory blog)

For Christmas decorations and table decorations with a difference visit: 

Lots to think about......
how are you decorating your table this year...let me know.

till next time....

Saturday, 19 November 2011


Bine, of BELDECOR  a beautiful blog in Germany has a lovely book GIVEAWAY...just post a comment on her blog and you could win this lovely decor book.

Writing Bureau Make over

Out bargain hunting last week, I found a beautiful old writing bureau, which I knew would be perfect for my daughter's bedroom, it's solid oak, well made but a bit dark and old fashioned was crying out for a makeover.

Before photo:  We took off the ugly bars which were stuck on the drawers as handles and we noticed the original holes made for the drawer knobs.

We sanded the whole piece, first with a small sander and then by hand in the difficult areas.  Wiped down to get rid of excess dust.  We then gave it a healthy coat of undercoat primer for wood.  I had thought of painting it Farrow and Ball's French Grey but my daughter wanted something light and not as grown as up that!  We chose Farrow and Ball All White, and gave the bureau two coats.  

Once dry, I sanded the edges by hand to give it a distressed look, in the areas where it would normally wear.  The motive came out really nicely.  We wiped it over with a damp cloth once again, and took a lint free cloth and rubbed in some natural antique wax all over the bureau.  I think it came out quite well.

After photo:

I managed to buy six small drawer knobs off ebay  - you can vaguely see  from the photograph, they are round and look like daisies with a ring pull.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Scandinavian Interiors and Design

Following my previous update, I thought I'd do an article on Scandinavian interiors which includes Norway, Denmark and Sweden, although some experts might argue it includes Finland and Iceland.

Scandinavian design emerged in the 1950s as a design movement characterised by simple design, minimalism, functionality and low cost mass production.  It embraces the philosophy that beautiful, and functional furniture should be available to everyone.

Scandinavian countries do  not enjoy as much daylight as other more southern European countries, Autumn and winter months are very dark, so it makes perfect sense that they furnish their homes in light shades - light walls, light flooring, and light furnishings with splashes of bright uplifting colours to compensate for the lack of natural daylight.

A room furnished in white with elements of grey and black.

The wooden cabinet contrasts perfectly with the white tongue and groove panelling.

 This Scandinavian office is a true reflection of Scandinavian design philosophy - minimal, modern and clean lines.  Colour is incorporated in the ochre rug, and the colourful panels hung from the ceiling seem to reflect the four seasons and add visual interest to an undeniably minimal space.  The chairs are modern and functional.  The ceiling chandelier adds the a sense of 'bling' to the overall white palette, echoing perhaps the icicles which are to come in winter....?

DANISH DESIGN is a design and architectural movement which was developed in the mid-20th century - and features functionality with industrial design.  It was influenced by the German BAUHAUS school.  DANISH designers created functional, beautiful items of furniture and household appliances that have now become iconic DANISH designs and much sought after with people who collect MID-CENTURY MODERN furniture....

Arne Jacobsen's original 1960's interior design - preserved in Room 606 at the Royal Copenhagen Hotel - one colour, clean lines, and minimal.

The Artichoke light - designed by Poul Henningsen - 1958 - do you recognise this?

 A white canvas with splashes of blond wood and a light brown leather sofa add to the quiet mood of this room.  This Danish style is reflected in the wishbone chair on the left, designed by Hans J Wegner 1950 and the black Arne Jacobsen chair.  Tulips with their green leaves and a bright green cushion acts as an accent colour to the otherwise neutral palette.  The reindeer skins serve as additional warmth on a much colder day.

Danish Teak Cabinet

Hans Wagner Shell Chair - produced in 1963...production came to a standstill but in 1997 was relaunched and in 1999 an original shell chair sold at Christie's in London for $20 000!

Sofa designed by Finn Juhl and made by Niels Vodder in 1941.

DANISH design continues to enjoy the same popularity as when it first appeared.

.... Until next time....

Friday, 11 November 2011

The dark side of apples!

Well I finally did it!  Not pomegranates but apples.  It's was a quick study, but I ended up over working it as you do....I'm not too unhappy with it as it's my first painting in a few years, and I've almost forgotten how...hopefully my work will improve as I paint more..when my husband saw it, he said it looked very depressing, but I like the stark contrast between the background, the shadows and the dark what do you think?

8 x 8 inches on deep canvas 

Sunday, 6 November 2011

South African Style Interiors and Design

I lived in South Africa for many years, and I thought I would share some of their unique interior design style and architecture.   South Africa is a big country, with 11 Official languages, so you can just imagine the diversity of their interior design and they way they live.

Interior styles and architecture have been heavily influenced by Europe due to the first European settlers who arrived there from Holland, France and England.  

Over the years this has changed and Interior designers have found their own way of expressing South African design.

Land is aplenty and so homes are big and spacious.... some with sloping green lawns and pools, large windows to let in as much sunlight as possible...with very few curtains ....this is open plan living at its very best....

or they can look like this.... colourful Cape Malay homes in Cape Town....don't they look beautiful?

or it could be a house with a wrap around veranda like this....

An old colonial homestead....

or a home on a remote piece of land miles away from anywhere....

The interior styles are as diverse and colourful as the people that inhabit them.

Due to space, and enjoying warm weather for most of the year, flooring could be polished cement, terracotta tiles, or natural wood flooring, or both combined.  Furnishings can be made of wicker, wood, or leather.  Colours here have been kept earthy and natural, and walls kept white to emphasise the space and light.

A collection of carved wooden buck heads made an interesting display on a wall.

An interior with an older traditional feeling, ochre coloured walls, flooring in a combination of coloured cement and wooden flooring and zebra skins scattered casually on the floor in a very rural setting

South African's like to hunt and some like to display their trophies.... the display of similar toned picture frames gives the room a contemporary feel as does the overhead lighting.  Once again the colour palette is kept natural, echoing the colours of the earth.

A very unique display of different tribal paintings in the kitchen

 Monochrome with the zebra skin ottoman

a colourful African Inspired bedroom...although there are a lot of different patterns in very bold colours, the overall look is one of harmony.

(all images from google)

I hope you've enjoyed this little peek into South African interiors....

Friday, 4 November 2011

Colour me beautiful!

If I had to choose only one colour it would have to be grey for it's simplicity, sophistication and calming affect, and my rooms might look like this:

a lovely velvet sofa....

and I'd love a corner with that weathered wall....

and make my daily caffeine fix....

curl up in this bed....

and have an ensuite like this.....I would love it.....

BUT .....



and this is just one of them...