Italy - my spiritual home

It’s been a few weeks since my last blog post mainly due to been manically busy with client work but I also had a two week break in Italy over Easter. As many of you know, I was married to an Italian and lived in Italy for ten years so it’s my spiritual home and I try and go back at least once a year. I stay with friends who live in the Piemonte region and we usually jump into their camper van and head off somewhere for a few days.

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An optical feast at Petersham Nurseries

s many of you know, I love Petersham Nurseries and am a frequent visitor. It's described on their website as "Internationally prized garden centre, Petersham Nurseries is a tranquil oasis
and seedbed of inspiration"
and that about sums it up. The highlight is always the shop which is in one of the glasshouses. The styling of the furniture, accessories, plants & flowers is superb and I find it a real inspiration.  I love to wander around admiring and of course buying one or two things as it's very difficult to leave empty handed!

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Tips for creating a picture wall

Most of my clients and friends are daunted by the task of hanging their artwork so it usually never makes it on to a wall !  

Styling your walls with artwork and mirrors is something that people struggle with because they don't know where to start and when they do start, they usually hang everything too high and don’t group things to give a feeling of cohesiveness (see my separate blog post How to Hang Artwork).   

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Mirror Mirror On The Wall .....

As many of you know, I have a passion for mirrors and my home is full of them. At last count I had 27 and it's only a two bedroom apartment!  

You can't have too many mirrors in the home. Apart from their functional purpose, they are a superb way to bring light into a space, can be used as artwork or generally to enhance the aesthetics of a room.

Here are some of the mirrors in my home and how I've used them.

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A Holiday Down Under

appy New Year everyone!  Apologies for my radio silence over the last six weeks;  I was in Australia for a month visiting my two sons who both now live in Sydney. 

I thought I'd share some of the photos of my trip to Australia. It was the most amazing holiday with plenty of wonderful memories. I flew over the city in a helicopter, did a jet boat ride at breakneck speed across the harbour, an evening out on the harbour in a friend's boat, visited some beautiful beaches north and south of the city, a trip to Adelaide and most importantly I ate oysters nearly every day!!  However, I found it strange having Christmas in a hot climate (the last one I had was back home in NZ in 1976!). I definitely prefer a northern hemisphere Christmas.

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Autumn Colours on Tooting Common

This year has to be the best autumn I can remember in the many years that I've lived in London. The colours of the leaves are absolutely breathtaking. I'm fortunate enough to live across the road from Tooting Common, a three square mile space of parkland comprising both woodland and areas of park for the public.  

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Bargains and Beauty

uesday 11th October was a stunningly beautiful, clear, warm autumn day in London. A friend and I met at 6.30am at my house and drove to the Sunbury Antiques Market for a spot of bargain hunting.  It's once a fortnight at the Kempton Racecourse and has been running for 35 years. There are over 700 stallholders inside and outside and there is a huge range of antique goods on offer from furniture, gold & silverware, jewellery, ceramics, vintage items and fashion, garden ephemera, paintings and much more. We arrived around 7.15am to the most glorious sunrise over the racecourse. All that was missing were some horses with steaming breaths and their jockeys galloping around the track in practice, to complete the idyllic scene.

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Open garden day at Petersham House

Last Sunday I went with my sister & husband to see the gardens of Petersham House, where the owners of Petersham Nurseries live. It is a stunning Georgian house and exquisite gardens next to the nurseries and they open the gardens to the public one day a year.  After a walk around the gardens we had lunch in the formal restaurant in the nurseries.  We entered the gardens from the nurseries where you walk through the kitchen garden for the restaurant which also includes flowers they grow for decorating the restaurant, shop and glass houses.

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Decorex 2016 here we come!

On Tuesday my friend Jane Fitch, also an interior designer, and I made our annual pilgrimage to Decorex at Syon Park. Decorex is internationally renowned for being THE event to discover the very best and most coveted products from 400 exhibitors.  Decorex has been running for 39 years and this is the third year that I have been.

We were not blown away by much this year as it was very much the same exhibitors as last year. However some new blood gave a much needed injection of interest.  I've included below a few newcomers as well as some highlights.

Naomi Paul beautiful crocheted lampshades were a feature in the VIP lounge as well as on their stand. Their ethos is to create beautiful functional textile objects by highly skilled craftsmanship and they certainly have achieve this. The lampshades are simple, stylish and elegant.

Bert and May are another newcomer to Decorex. They are committed to raw materials, natural pigments and fine craftsmanship which they certainly have achieved in their products. They launched a fabric range at Decorex which were beautiful subtle colours and bold geometric designs.

Santorus is another exciting newcomer. Brother and sister, Fabian and Tara have a rich cultural heritage of Indian and Italian parents and their products certainly reflect this. I adore the patterns and colours of their fabrics and wallpapers.

Tom Raffield is a relative newcomer to Decorex.  Their beautiful wooden lighting and furniture are made in a woodland workshop in Cornwall where the company is based. 

Tom Faulkner is not a newcomer to Decorex but I am always interested in visiting their stand and seeing their exquisite handmade furniture.

No visit to Decorex would be complete without a vist to the Ochre stand. I am always in awe of their celestial pebble light!

There is always the obligatory over-the-top glitz and these Murano chandeliers by iDogi were no exception! 

I always look forward to the floral displays on the exhibition stands but they were few and far between this year and very disappointing. The one that stood out for me was on the Sir John Soane Museum stand which was designed by Ben Pentreath and the magnificent display of dahlias was grown and designed by Ben's partner Charlie McCormick.  This stand stood out from all the others for its design and colour.

To finish this whistlestop tour, here are a few more shots that I took.

I hope you enjoyed seeing a few of the highlights of Decorex.  It was a long day as there were over 400 stands to see.  A few glasses of bubbly in the VIP lounge with canapes helped to keep up our energy levels!

Did you go to Decorex this year? What did you think of it and what were your favourites? I would love to hear so do drop me a note.

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A visit to Knole

My Kiwi house guest and I visited Knole a couple of weeks ago. I'd never been but was keen to go given its links to the Bloomsbury Group - it was Vita Sackville-West's childhood home and she was link to the Bloomsbury Group with which I am currently totally fascinated given that I've visited Charleston House and Monk's House this summer, the latter being the home of Virginia & Leonard Woolf.

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Route marching along the Thames Path

I've had a friend staying from my home town, Christchurch (NZ) so I'm a bit behind with my blog posts.  Two weeks ago we decided to walk from my home (Balham) to Petersham Nurseries along the Thames Path.  It was the perfect day for walking, not too hot.  However little did we know how many kilometres it was and how long it would take us!

It was in fact 19.4 kilometres!  My friend had flown from Sydney the day before arriving in London at 9pm, she's 68 years old and yet she walked all that way just to reach one of her favourite spots. Call us bonkers or what?!!

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Give a piece of furniture a new lease of life

I'm a great one for up-cycling furniture with a lick of paint rather than get rid of it.  I usually paint with Annie Sloan chalk paint as it's so easy to use - no prep required and you can paint it on any surface including on fabric!  However this time I wanted a specific colour which doesn't come in the Annie Sloan range so I opted for Farrow & Ball which had the exact colour.

I'm a huge fan of Farrow & Ball paint and I have used it throughout my home. Most, if not all, my clients have F&B throughout their homes. I particularly like the way F&B split their neutrals into six groups which makes it so much easier for people when trying to choose a neutral colour(s).  In fact I use the six neutral groups as the basis for my colour talks.

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