Freesias

This week, my lovely mum gave me a beautiful bunch freesias and baby’s breath. The freesias smell absolutely gorgeous, and I’ve been making a concerted effort to go over to the vase (actually a crystal jug that used to belong to my gran) and smell them at every occasion.

Soon though, they will fade and I will have to throw them away. Which makes me sad. So I thought I’d take a photo to keep them alive forever (even though they’ve yet to invent a camera that can capture smell!)

What do you think?

Freesias by Rin Simpson

I really want to practice styling. I’ve seen so many amazingly talented stylists in magazines like Mollie Makes, The Simple Things and 91 Magazine, and I’ve been collecting some of my favourite examples on my Styling Matters board on Pinterest.

If you have any advice for me, or any comments on my picture, I’d love to hear from you!

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Annie Sloan work book

I love getting post. Not bills, obviously, but pretty much anything else still makes me childishly excited.

I think it comes from when I moved to the UK from South Africa and, in those pre-internet days, relied on snail mail to bring me news of my friends ‘back home’.

I particularly love getting books and magazines in the post, so you can imagine how excited I was when this arrived:

The new Annie Sloan work book, £16.95, out 30 November 2012

It’s the latest offering from Queen of Paint, Annie Sloan, whose products – as you well know – I love.

The work book, which is due out at the end of November (there are some benefits to being a journalist!), is no exception. It is stuffed with inspiration…

Water Annie’s chalk paints down to create a soft wash effect

Did you know you can paint canvas shoes with chalk paint??

…as well as useful hints and tips…

Who needs a paint brush when you’ve got an old cork to hand?

Some tips are more helpful than others!

…and there is a lined section for notes, and a pocket at the back where you can stow any loose bits of paper, pictures and swatches. Genius.

This inspiring book would make a fantastic Christmas present for a home loving creative type, and will be available to buy through the Annie Sloan stockists only – check out the website for your local store.

Mashed Creations

A friend of mine recently discovered the delights of decoupage – or “sticking stuff to stuff and varnishing it”, as she puts it.

When she said she was going to turn her newfound skill into a business, I’m afraid to say I was skeptical. After all, this is the girl I used to get up to all sorts with when I was a teenager, and it’s hard to forget sometimes that that was a long time ago and we’re all supposed to be grown ups now!

Anyway, true to her word she has been working hard on making Mashed Creations a success, and I must say that I’m hugely impressed with her progress so far.

This is her latest creation:

Pretty, isn’t it? I like to think I helped a little, by recommending the Annie Sloan paints she used for the base.

This is a more modern-retro style piece, which I think is wonderfully kitsch and would work brilliantly in a kids room or a suitably quirky, fun apartment:

Having seen Clare’s handiwork, I’m starting to wonder whether I should include a touch of decoupage in my own furniture transformations when I finally get round to sorting my study out.

If I do, I promise I’ll take pictures…

Pretty Dandy

I love discovering new interiors shops, whether physical or online. I especially love independents, because they often stock unusual brands you can’t find on the high street, and products that may not sell in their hundreds but which will be just perfect for a handful of shoppers.

Pretty Dandy is my latest find, and one of the first products I fell in love with on their website was this quirky cupboard designed to look like a Dutch town house and available in aqua, mint and coral. At 76cm tall it can be stood on a surface or hung on the wall, and it has two removable shelves inside:

Dutch town house cupboard £130, Pretty Dandy

The site sells a great range of art prints too, like this colourful A3 chevron number from Mrs Eliot Books (that cannot be a real name!):

Chevron contemporary art print £24.50, Pretty Dandy

Anyone who knows me, knows I love knitting, so how could I resist these yarny floor cushions? I love the colours and because they’re filled with tiny styrofoam balls, they won’t lose shape over time. Only the mustard one seems to be in stock at the moment, but you can always contact the store to see when the others will be available:

Medium mustard cushion £139, Pretty Dandy

My flat wouldn’t carry off this bold monochrome wallpaper, but it’s really striking, don’t you think? It’s printed on WallSmart paper, which means you put the paste directly onto the wall, making the hanging process much easier:

Monochrome stripe wallpaper £84.50 (10m roll), Pretty Dandy

Finally, these simple chopping boards caught my eye because they’re the perfect example of my favourite quote from William Morris: “Do not have anything in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” I like products that are functional and aesthetic, just like these boards:

Skyline chopping boards from £29.95, Pretty Dandy

What’s your favourite independent interiors shop?

Mugs

I’m a bit weird about mugs. But it’s ok because my mum and my sister are the same, so at least I’m not alone.

My mum is particular about which mug she uses for which purpose – she has a special one for her first cup of tea, and another for her daily filter coffee. After that it’s a free for all.

My sister and I, on the other hand, spend a lot of time deciding on which mug we want for any given cup of tea or coffee we are making. Important factors – for me at least – include size, shape, thickness, design and colour.

Naturally, I have lots of mugs at home – but not nearly as many as I’d like. Here are a few I might be tempted by next time I get a pay cheque through.

1) This one is an obvious choice. Isn’t he gorgeous? I love Magpie, and could probably fill this entire post with their fab designs alone:

Fox mug £8, Magpie

2) The Pantone range is one for colour geeks. And I’ll admit, that would describe me pretty darn well:

Pantone mug in Ketchup Red 186 £9.50, Rume

Fenella Smith is brilliant, and so are flamingos. There is no need to say more:

Flamingo mug by Fenella Smith £17.50, Not On The High Street

I have recently come to terms with the fact that I am the kind of person who says “jeepers creepers” and “marvellous”. I may add “tickety boo” to the repertoire:

Tickety Boo mug in Green £6, John Lewis

I do love Le Creuset. I particularly like buying it from HomeSense where you can get up to 60% off retail prices. Just saying:

Stoneware mug in Rose £11, Le Creuset

Finally, I wanted to include this colourful set from The Shed Inc – individually they’re nice enough, but together they’re just stunning. Perfect if you’re having a few friends over for a cuppa:

Aztec mugs in Wine, Custard, Dolphin, Lime & Earth £11.99 each, The Shed Inc

My kind of art

It’s been a while since I posted anything about art, but an email popped into my inbox yesterday from Whitewall Galleries, showcasing a new collection from Henderson Cisz, and I wanted to share. I’m no art expert, but I really like his impressionistic style and the way he uses colour – to me it’s at once traditional and contemporary:

View across the Thames by Henderson Cisz, Whitewall Galleries

It got me thinking about what I think makes a good painting. So I thought I’d have a look around for a few examples that for me represent the kind of things I would want on my walls (remember, this is just my opinion, I’m certainly not aspiring to be an art critic!)

First up has to be this one by Mark Spain, called In My Thoughts, which I actually have hanging in my lounge (a limited edition print bought at Castle Galleries in Bristol in 2003). What I love, other than the vibrant colours, is the expression on the girl’s face – I’ve spent countless hours staring at her, wondering what she’s really thinking:

In My Thoughts by Mark Spain, Castle Galleries

I discovered Mike Bernard‘s work at Bath Contemporary Art Gallery earlier this year, and fell head over heels with his mixed media collage technique, which gives his pictures such texture. He always paints places in a way that makes me want to visit them:

My sister introduced me to the work of Leonid Afremov, whose work is also really colourful (hmm, there’s a theme here I think) and seems to tell a story. This, I would say, is the key to what draws me to a painting – the sense of taking me to a different reality, and challenging my imagination to decide what all is happening in the world the artist has created:

Oil on canvas by Leonid Afremov

Talking of my sister, I can’t mention my favourite artists without including her – Ingrid Smejkal, of Ingrid Eva Creative. Yes, I know it’s nepotism, but I really do love her work, which I’ve written about before. Of her most recent work, I probably like this abstract piece best, because it allows you to use your imagination – I think it looks like industrial buildings along the Thames in London, but it could be anything really:

Which one do you like best? And who is your favourite artist?

Bookshelves

I love books. LOVE them. And I love displaying them on bookshelves. My other half doesn’t – he says they’re too “noisy”. Good thing we don’t live together, isn’t it??

Anyway, I saw this beautifully simple (and well-stocked) shelving unit from BoConcept, and it inspired me to have a look around for other attractive book display systems.

Just so you know, I’ve purposely chosen current products you can buy today, rather than inspirational but ultimately unachievable pictures that will make you dream but won’t actually get you anywhere.

Lecco wall system £1,1995, BoConcept

This is a pretty little thing, perfect for a small selection of books, perhaps in a guest bedroom. I like that it’s quite country, but the rivets give it a bit of a utilitarian touch:

Attache bookcase £748, Anthropologie

Regular readers will know I love the industrial look. Genuine vintage items cost a packet, but this high street shelving unit is a pretty good bargain (I know it doesn’t have lots of books on it in the picture, but you can use your imagination, right?):

Ladbrook shelving unit £599, Marks & Spencer

I love ladder shelving generally, and this is a great idea for a hallway or a small room where you don’t want a more substantial structure taking up too much space (ooh, and look – yarn!):

Wooden ladder shelf £225, Cox & Cox

But then again, I’d also be quite happy with my books piled up around a comfy armchair like this:

Stranmon wing chair £175, Ikea

So, which do you like best? Or do you think bookshelves or books in general make a room look messy?