Petersham Nurseries - a source of inspiration

Petersham Nurseries is one of those places that is good for the soul.  It is all about beauty and style, both outside and inside.  I'm there at least three times a month and have rarely left there empty handed!  

It's a half hour drive from my home which takes me across Richmond Park, another place that is good for the soul. It's hard to believe that you are in a big city when you are in the middle of the park surrounded by trees, bracken and deer.  

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Chelsea in Bloom - inspiration from spectacular floral displays

It was the Chelsea Flower Show last week and the shops in the Sloane Square and Kings Road area embrace the Show by decorating their shop fronts.  These are spectacular displays and quite inspirational in both design and colour.

I thought you would like to see a selection of the best ones.  My favourite display was Links of London. They had flowers out front as well as in store and they were spectacular.

Another stunning display was Hackett in Sloane Street which had the real wow factor in reds and oranges.

And here are some of the other displays that deserve a mention. Obviously this is only a small part of the whole Chelsea Fringe during the Flower Show and it's a bit of a whistle stop tour but I thought you would be equally inspired by the colour and style of these displays.

I'd love to hear if you have seen any of the Chelsea Fringe this year. Do share some images with me.


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Back to Petersham for inspiration and sourcing

Hi everyone.  I went back to Petersham Nurseries this week armed with my Nikon D5500 camera.  It was a sunny but cold day and I decided to take a walk along the Thames before lunch (Petersham Nurseries is a stone's throw from the river).  There was even someone launching a boat and taking a jaunt up the river, despite the cold.

Along the river bank I found some pretty delicate wild flowers

I branched off the towpath along the river into the woodlands of Petersham Lodge.  Signs of spring were everywhere:

The woods led to a pretty iron gate that separates the gardens of Petersham Lodge (which are private) from the woodlands. 

The Belted Galloways are back in the Petersham Meadows by Petersham. Dogs are banned during the grazing season, April to October.

I returned to the Nurseries and spent time before lunch taking photos in the cutting garden where there was a superb display of tulips.

There were so many beautiful flowers to photograph

And of course the highlight of my visits to Petersham is the shop. I love the way it is styled with plants, flowers, furniture, accessories etc.  And I am always tempted to buy something!

These two beautiful bowls of flowers greeted you as you enter the restaurant

SEEKING STYLE INSPIRATION?

If you’re working on your own home decorating project and looking for some inspiration, please get in touch and see how I can help. 


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Inspiration for home styling

As regular followers of my blog know, one of my favourite haunts is Petersham Nurseries which is about 20 minutes from my home. It's somewhere I go for inspiration and to take photos. It gets my creative juices going and all I want to do is take loads of photos and buy lots of plants and items for the home!  I've become quite obsessed with photography since I invested in my first DSLR camera, a Nikon D5500. Macro photography is my passion so Petersham is the perfect place to go as I can take closeups of flowers, plants and the gorgeous items for sale.

The way they style the shop and the glasshouses with plants and flowers is absolutely superb. And there is the added bonus of great food and coffee in the cafe or if I want to treat myself, the other end of the glasshouse where the shop is located is a Michelin star restaurant!  The floors in the glasshouses are just earth, even in the Michelin star restaurant but that's what makes Petersham so unique. 

If I have some free time and the sun in shining my first thought is to head to Petersham.  I could bore you with loads of superlatives but I'd rather stimulate your creative juices with a visual feast. It's not the same as being there in person but it gives you a good idea of why I love the place so much.

Some advice when looking at the photos below. Look at the way they style the items in the shop as this should help you when you style your own home - the way they group items, colours they put together, textures etc.  This is one of the things that I really find helpful when I go there. I hope you enjoy my photography; don't all budding photographers aim to take the perfect photo?!

I'll start with some closeups of the flowers

I have a passion for vintage chandeliers and Petersham always has a range of the most beautiful ones (in fact I bought a small antique French chandelier from them a few weeks ago which is being wired up currently and will then have pride of place of my kitchen table). 

The sun was shining on one particularly large chandelier this time, and I was mesmorised by the colours in the crystals so became rather "trigger happy" with my camera. These images come with a health warning - you may need your dark glasses on !

There was a lot of new stock in the shop since I was last there a week ago and quite a number of ceramic pots with incredible shapes and textures. You can see from the scale of the small items next to these pots the sheer size of some of them.

Petersham always has a good selection of vintage mirrors. I have bought quite a few over the years and recently have been buying some of their convex mirrors in various sizes.  And then there are so many other interesting items on display which you think "I want that" but then "where can I put it in my home?" and then "oh heck, who cares, I just want it" and you go ahead and buy it !!

I hope you enjoyed these images and that they have given you some fresh ideas about how to style your own home. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me.


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Top tips for buying & arranging flowers for your home

Hi everyone. Sorry for the lack of blog posts recently; I’ve been manically busy with client work.  Can’t complain, quite the contrary but something has to give and it’s usually my blog.  I am continually asked by friends and clients to write a blog post about how to arrange flowers in the home so here goes.

There are so many places to buy flowers – florists, markets, outdoor stalls, petrol station forecourts, local shops etc – but it’s the supermarkets that have usurped most of these outlets. How many of you are regularly tempted to buy flowers when you are in your local supermarket? I for one am guilty of it – the flowers are so reasonably priced and always fresh so it’s hard to resist the temptation. However the selection is limited and there are always so many awful mixed bunches of flowers (even worse in petrol station forecourts) where they mix one of every colour and every variety.  Avoid these like the plague and NEVER give them as gifts to someone who loves flowers!

But what do you do with the flowers when you get them home?  So many people just jam a bunch into a vase with some water and hope for the best.  No wonder they never look good and don’t last as long as they should.

Here are my top tips for flowers in the home:

1. Best shaped containers have a narrower opening than the base - try to buy containers like this as they allow the flowers to fan out better. However for flowers like daffodils, narcissi and tulips a straight sided container works well as it will emulate how they grow, straight!

2. Monotones work best – buy flowers that are one colour as monotones create the most impact. Of course there are exceptions to this rule - mixed colours of the SAME flower, for example, tulips are rather lovely in mixed colours though I still prefer them in monotones or two colours (as you can see in the images below). 

3. Prepare your flowers well before putting in a vase - strip off a lot of the foliage on the stems so that it isn't sitting in the water getting smelly!  Also, the foliage takes nutrients so if there is less the flower will have a better chance of survival.  With roses, remove any thorns as they also take nutrients.  Always cut the stems on a diagonal and with any woody stems (stock, hydrangeas, blossom, pussy willow or any other hard stemmed flowers or greenery) cut a slit vertically up the stem as well, about half an inch (see image below).

4. Don't waste anything - when stripping the stems of foliage there are often offshoots. Don't throw these away, put them in little vintage bottles on a window ledge or a small vase. I waste nothing!  Freesias and hyacinths are classic examples where they have a lot of offshoots that look like they will never flower but usually they will.

5. Keep the vase clear of water marks - I add a drop of bleach to the water AFTER I've filled the vase (if you do it before you add the water it will create a lot of froth) and this stops the water smelling and any water marks on the vase (crucial with glass containers). I also add a sachet of flower food.

6. Keep it simple! - Don't always feel you have to add foliage to flowers that have their own foliage as it just detracts from their beauty.  Less is definitely more! Flowers should look as if they are growing especially spring flowers like tulips and daffodils. You would never see Eucalpytus growing in the middle of a clump of daffodils! Same with roses, they have beautiful leaves so don't add anything else.

7. Try and buy flowers that have their own foliage -  They look so much more natural in a vase with their own foliage. I'm particularly fond of spring flowers and dahlias with their own foliage.  Unfortunately most of the retailers sell them without leaves but I've managed to find them in my local florist and local market stall.

8. Use flowers to style a room - flowers are a great way to add colour to a room but don't forget they can also add texture, height, scent and of course to create a focal point.  Here are some examples of how I've used flowers in my home this week:

9. Do it on a budget - it doesn't have to cost you a lot of money to style your home with plants and flowers. If you buy carefully and look after your flowers you can create multiple containers of beautiful flowers, some large and some very small, that will last you several weeks (or even longer).  Here are some that I have in my home currently, both inside and outside.

I hope these tips will help you to enjoy buying flowers for your home.  If you have any questions or comments please don't hesitate to contact me. I'm always happy to help!


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Tips for decorating your home at Christmas

Christmas is only three days away!  If you haven't finished decorating your home here are some tips on preparing your home for the festive season:

1. Start the festive feel outside the front door with a Christmas wreath on the door. It's all about curb appeal!  This is a lovely welcome to anyone coming to visit.  Last year I decided to have a different sort of wreath so I bought a dried hydrangea one (see image below). This year I opted for a more traditional wreath made from fresh Norwegian spruce and decorated with real cones, dried oranges and apples to which I added some cinnamon sticks which exude a heady scent of spice.

2. Ensure you continue the Christmassy feel with a ta-dah moment once you enter the front door. I chose to do this with red Amaryllis in a tall vase and coloured lights (battery powered). 

3. Use fresh flowers and greenery in abundance.  I have a huge vintage preserving jar of holly in my hall and a large vase of scented Longi lilies in the sitting room and another in the kitchen. Don't forget poinsettias as they always create a splash of colour if you group them together. I prefer the white ones so have a couple of tiny plants which just one flower on each! 

4. You always need a pièce de résistance, a large Christmas tree. My preference is for a real tree but there's nothing wrong with an artificial one.  It needs to be placed where its beauty is maximised and can be seen from various angles and ideally reflected in a mirror.  As children we looked up at the tree so I ensure that my two sons can always look up at the tree so it needs to be taller than them - we're up to a seven and a half foot tree now!  I tend to decorate my tree in two colours rather than multi-coloured. This year it is silver and glass with pops of purple.

5. If you have children around over Christmas make sure there are decorations that can be appreciated by children. I have a little faux tree from The White Company that I place on a table in the hall and all the decorations are geared to children.  I also have five little straw angels with musical instruments that I bought in a Christmas market in Bratislava that children love.

5. Continue the festive theme by decorating your mantle pieces, stair rails, mirrors and other available surfaces.  I bought a lovely metal tree with glass tea light holders from Petersham Nurseries which I placed on my mantelpiece with sprigs of fresh spruce at its base.

I'd love to hear how you decorate your home for Christmas so do send me some comments.  May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.


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Find inspiration for Christmas at Petersham Nurseries

Hi everyone. I guess you are all frantically preparing for Christmas - decorating your homes and trying to decide what gifts to buy and what food you will eat.  I got off to a late start this year so on Friday I decided I needed some inspiration. So I headed to my favourite mecca for inspiration and soul soothing, Petersham Nurseries.  For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, I'm a sucker for Petersham and I've done quite a few blog posts on it. They are usually highly visual posts i.e. few words and loads of images, because Petersham is all about visual stimulation.  I therefore have decided that what you all need is few words and loads of gorgeous photos to feast your eyes on.  Hopefully they will inspire you on how to decorate your homes and your Christmas trees and also what gifts to buy. If you are lucky enough to live in London or the surrounding area, jump in the car and head over to Petersham.  Take a tray of coffee and cake into one of the glasshouses or a tray of lunch depending when you arrive.  Here's my coffee and delicious apple cake. Don't you just love these vintage painted distressed metal tables & chairs?

I took my new Nikon DSLR camera this time and spent three hours practising my photographic skills. I hope you are impressed with some of them; I'm very much a beginner but I'm really enjoying the learning curve!

I hope you enjoyed that.  Now it's back to the grind of lists and shopping. Bring on the festivities! 

I'd love to get some feedback from you about how you prepare your homes for Christmas so please write to me and I promise to respond!


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Another inspiring day at Petersham Nurseries

Well, I'm not sure what season this really is as it's nearly as warm as late summer and we are already at the end of October. Talk about Indian Summer - it's last way beyond the end of September. This weather is unprecedented - warm (up to 20C) and no wind or rain. The trees are the most incredible colours, the best autumn colours in many years due to this late warmth. 

It was a stunning, sunny day up to 19C last week so I decided it was time for another pilgrimage to Petersham Nurseries which is one of the most inspiring places in London for me.  I get trigger happy with both my iPhone camera andmy compact Panasonic camera as there are so many beautiful things to photograph.  The shop displays are styled so well and the use of plants and flowers in the styling is superb.

And of course the food in the cafe is wonderful so my friend and I arrived in time for morning coffee and a huge slab of cake, browsed the gardens, glasshouses and shop for two hours and then returned to the cafe for a tray of lunch dishes to share. 

I've decided to devote most of this blog post to images, a veritable optical feast.  Most of the images speak for themselves.  I hope you derive as much pleasure and enjoyment from the images as I did seeing everything in person.  There's lots to learn about styling in the home from these images so take note!!

I'll start with a selection of photos of how they styled some of the public spaces - the cafe where you queue to get your food, the loos (!) and the glasshouses where you can take your food on trays to eat. 

Another group of images follows:

And the most mouth-watering photos I'll leave until last - the shop which is my favourite part of the whole Petersham experience. Check out the vintage chandeliers, they absolutely gorgeous.  It is so beautifully styled and full of items/objects that I covet. I never leave empty handed!

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Meet an inspirational Kiwi - Charlie McCormick

I had the great pleasure this week of meeting Charlie McCormick and his partner Ben Pentreath at Charlie's pop up shop next to Pentreath & Hall in Rugby Street, Bloomsbury, London.  Charlie is a very talented, fellow Kiwi who grows magnificent flowers at their home in Dorset,  is an excellent cook and has a superb eye for styling interiors. He also runs a supper club. Ben Pentreath, Charlie's partner, is a charming, well-known and highly talented architect and interior designer and he and another fellow Kiwi Bridie Hall, own the beautiful home products shop Pentreath & Hall.

I've been following both Ben and Charlie on Instagram for some time and am always inspired by their photos on Instagram and Ben's superb blog.  I own a copy of Ben's stunning book English Style which shows the best of English Style. 

Anyway, this blog post is about Charlie's pop up shop which is open for the month of October. I read about it online and just had to pay a visit. I really wanted to meet Charlie as he comes from the same part of NZ that I do, though he grew up on a farm north of Christchurch and I was a city girl, from Christchurch.  I was lucky enough to meet not only him but also Ben Pentreath on Monday so I felt very honoured.  And of course, Charlie and I did the requisite selfie!

The pop up shop from the outside is very inviting thanks to the vibrant colours, textures and Charlie's superb styling touches:

The inside has a stunning yellow dresser as the focal point laden with vintage items, Charlie's home baked cakes and a huge container of Charlie's homegrown vivid pink dahlias. There are several other containers of the beautiful dahlias dotted around the shop and in the window, a feature above the fireplace of stunning 19th century framed prints of pressed plants, rustic watering cans to die for and a huge basket of apples from Ben and Charlie's orchard just outside the door. I wanted everything in the shop but first I wanted to chat with Charlie.  He is very down-to-earth, laid back and friendly like all of us Kiwis (!!) and he is incredibly multi-talented.  I'm a massive foodie myself, as some of you may know from my tried & tested favourite recipes that I include on my blog so a note to self to book a place at one of his supper clubs so I can sample his renowned cooking.

I left the shop having purchased so many things that I wasn't sure if they would fit on my little Vespa moped. Note the dahlias squeezed in a bag on the right!!  Charlie kindly gifted me one of his homemade Afghan biscuits for the road, to remind me of home. It's a traditional Kiwi biscuit made with cocoa powder and cornflakes, topped with chocolate icing and then half a walnut.  I managed to demolish it a bit at a time at each traffic light where I had to wait!!

And my purchases, well, plenty of them and I am going back for more on Friday!  I bought two of the 19th century prints, four vintage containers and some dahlias.

If you are lucky enough to live in London do try and visit Charlie's pop up shop.  It's only there until the end of the month.


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Styling with flowers and plants - in and out

Gosh, I've just realised that it's two weeks since I did a blog post.  Really sorry. It's been a mad sort of two weeks and I don't know where the time has gone.

I did however get some time on Thursday to replace flowers in my house and buy a few flowering plants to replace some of those that have finished flowering.  It's been a pretty awful August with low temperatures, grey days and rain - what's new, that's a typical English summer after all !!  My plants haven't flourished as well as I would have liked from a flowers perspective, due to the lack of sunshine.

Anyway, as you all know, I'm an ex florist and I can't live without being surrounded by flowers and plants so every room in my two-bedroom home has either a vase of flowers or a flowering plant in it.  My budget has decreased dramatically since I took voluntary redundancy from my job in the financial services last July so I have to make the most of the flowers that I buy.  I even will them to live longer!!!!

Here are my top tips for buying and arranging flowers in the home:

- I buy most of my flowers in the supermarkets (mainly Waitrose as they have the best selection) as they are cheaper than florist prices. However if you want more interesting flowers and greenery find a good local florist as well as buying from the supermarket

- Don't just buy flowers randomly. You need to plan where you are going to put them in your home and what vase you will use

- Monotones create the biggest impact i.e. flowers of one colour.  Red & white flowers in the same vase is a big No-No (blood & bandages!!). Stick to tones and hues of the same colour.  Or you can have a couple of colours like pink and orange to create a real impact as I've done with the roses in my hall (see photo below)

- Cut all stems on a diagonal and any thick woody stems should also be cut vertically up the stem for a couple of centimetres e.g. sunflowers, stocks, chrysanthemums, hydrangeas. 

- I always add the flower food sachet that comes with the flowers to the water as well as a blob of bleach (it stops water marks on the vase).  Food and bleach don't seem to harm the flowers, on the contrary my flowers seem to last for days/weeks!

- Best vases are those that have a wider base than the neck.  Flowers display better and you don't need so many of them (budget, budget, budget!!)

- Clean the stems of the flowers to remove any leaves or thorns and off-shoots, just save a few at the top.  These need nutrition so the more you remove the more the flower has the best chance of survival.  I always remove anything that will sit below water level and even some above water level.  Off-shoots can be put in small bud vases or vintage bottles as you can see in the photos below.

- If you are lucky enough to have a garden (I don't!) pick some foliage to add to the vase of flowers. This adds, texture and bulks up the flowers so you don't need so many flowers

- Top up the water in the vases regularly (some flowers drink copious amounts of water so keep a sharp eye on the level of water - sunflowers for example drink loads!). Change the water regularly especially for flowers like stocks as the water can get really smelly. Just remember, you like to shower/bath regularly and flowers do also !!

So here's what's in my house currently and a few pics of my three square feet of outside space.

 

And here are the latest photos of my limited outside space - three square feet and the steps down to the garden belonging to the owners of the flat underneath mine. I have tried to keep to blues, mauves and pinks but I've also included a soft orange at the bottom of the steps.  Bees love blue and mauve flowers which is why I tend to go for this colour palette

I hope these photos have inspired you to create some gorgeous displays inside and outside.  I cannot live without being surrounded by flowers (you can't take the florist out of the gal, as I always say!).

I'd love to hear about how you use flowers to style your home and also about your outside space and if limited, how you maximise it.  Do let me know as I'm always keen to hear from my readers.  I'd also love to get some feedback from you as to what topics you'd like me to cover in my blog.


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A lesson in flower arranging at Perch Hill, Sussex

It's been a crazy week and I'm behind in my blog posts, still catching up on posts relating to my friend's visit - she's been gone over a week!  My friend from back home who stayed with me for two weeks (see previous post 'Route Marching Around Richmond Park) very kindly paid for the two of us to attend a Sarah Raven course with the charismatic and charming Juliet Glaves of Thoughtful Flowers. The course was at Sarah Raven's inspirational garden at Perch Hill in Sussex which is in the most glorious setting.  For those of you who don't know Sarah Raven, she is a well-known gardener, writer and television presenter and she runs a garden and cookery school at Perch Hill.

Juliet Glaves had a pop-up florist in The Designers Guild during the Chelsea Flower Show week. You can see the beautiful displays of flowers and arrangements she had in the Designers Guild in my post 'Designer's Guild Embraces Chelsea Flower Show' dated 25 May.

It was wonderful to head out of London in the car on a glorious sunny day and head into the countryside.  Everything is very green and lush at present so it's the perfect time of year to appreciate the English countryside.  I don't get out of London enough but have made it a resolution this year to escape London more often. It's so good for the soul!

Perch Hill is off the beaten track down a long winding road. The entrance to it is stunning - the lichen covered gate and the purple and white wallflowers flanking one side of the driveway: 

There were about 30 of us on the course, all women, and all passionate about flowers and flower arranging. Even as an experienced florist there was plenty to learn from Juliet Glaves, whose style of flower arranging is much less formal than the way I was taught.  She and her husband grow all their own flowers as well as picking wild flowers from the hedgerows so all the flowers she used in the two arrangements she made were home-grown.

When you first enter the Perch Hill building,  you walk through the small shop (full of lots of fabulous items to buy) to a large glasshouse/conservatory which has the most spectacular view of the countryside. Coffee and delicious cakes were served here while we soaked up the view.

Juliet began her first masterpiece in a large metal horse's trough. She uses chicken wire rather than oasis which she attaches with tape.  Chicken wire is a lot more effective and versatile in large containers especially if using tall and/or heavy stems.   Juliet chatted to us as she created her masterpiece and answered all of our questions.  We all took copious notes!  I've shown below the progress as she added more and more gorgeous flowers that she had grown. It was amazing to watch the way the arrangement transformed.  Right at the end she decided to add a few red peonies and there were gasps from the floor as  these pops of red suddenly transformed the whole arrangement and it took on another dimension. 

Sarah supported Juliet's presentation by providing the botanical names of each flower and how they are best cultivated. They were a great double act!!

The second arrangement that Juliet created was much smaller but equally as stunning. She used a smallish glass vase and it's incredible the size of the arrangement that she put in it.

After a delicious lunch made from vegetables produced on the farm we had the chance to wander around Sarah's magnificent vegetable gardens and cutting gardens.  They really are absolutely stunning. The vegetables and flowers are mainly used for the courses that Sarah runs. For some of the flower workshops you get to go and pick your own flowers from her gardens. Now that really would be a treat!!  I've split the photos into the flower gardens followed by the vegetable gardens.

And here are some photos of the vegetable gardens. I love the way some of the vegetables have been interspersed with rows of flowers or beds of lavender.

After we left Perch Hill we decided to return to London via the village of Chiddingstone in Kent. This is where the movie, Room with a View, was filmed and it's one of my favourite villages in the South East.  It was one of those limpid afternoons and the village was sleepy with hardly any cars passing. We parked up next to the church and sat on the wall of the church yard listening to the birds. I wandered through the gate that leads to Chiddingstone Castle into a wooded area thick with cow parsley. It was truly magical.  What would have made it even better would have been a pint in the village pub but given I was driving that wasn't an option!

I hope you have enjoyed the feast of colour and texture from the photos above.  Always remember that what works in nature also works in the home. Don't be afraid to use colour(s) in your rooms, be they pops of colour or painting/wallpapering whole rooms or walls in strong colours. Take another look at Juliet Glaves' arrangement above with those pops of red peony colour in that huge masterpiece of hers.  I would never have thought to introduce red but then I always say "be brave, follow mother nature in your interiors and you can't go wrong".

SEEKING STYLE INSPIRATION?

If you’re working on your own home decorating project, need help with your outside space, home staging if you are about to put your home on the market or just some de-cluttering/organising techniques, please get in touch and see how I can help. I always offer an initial free consultation with no obligation so contact me to book this.

Designer's Guild embraces Chelsea Flower Show

Every year during the Chelsea Flower Show I visit Designers Guild in the Kings Road, Chelsea as I love the way they embrace the Flower Show by having a florist pop-up shop in the internal courtyard.

This year the florist was Thoughtful Flowers  and I had the pleasure of meeting the owner Juliet Glaves in the shop. As you can see from the photos below, she creates natural and creative arrangements to enhance the beauty of the garden-grown flowers and some  harvested from hedgerows. I am actually doing a course on 3rd June Really Romantic Flowers at Perch Hill Farm with the wonderful duo Sarah Raven and Juliet Glaves. This should be a fantastic day and it includes lunch made with fresh produce from the garden at Perch Hill.

I love the way Juliet's flowers complement the beautiful surroundings of the Designers Guild showroom. The Designers Guild is  bit of a mecca for me as I always find inspiration especially on using colour and of course I usually end up buying one or two things! Below I've included a mix of images of Juliet's gorgeous flowers and Designers Guild items including fabric and wallpaper.  I hope the colours inspire you as much as they do me.


Seeking style inspiration?

If you’re working on your own home decorating project and looking for some inspiration, please get in touch and see how I can help.