Petersham House Open Gardens

This post is for all you garden lovers. If you are lucky enough to live in London you have the chance to see the gardens of Petersham House, the home of the owners of Petersham Nurseries, Gael and Francesco Boglione. Their home is adjacent to the Nurseries and is a stunning Georgian house with extensive gardens, swimming pool and tennis court. They have a substantial vegetable garden which is used for the restaurant in the Nurseries.

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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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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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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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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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An invite to an exclusive blogger event

Hi everyone. I had the pleasure of being invited by India Jane to an exclusive blogger preview event today, Tuesday 1st December, at their flagship store in Kings Road, Chelsea, London.  For those of you not familiar with India Jane,  it's a family-owned home interiors business which was founded in 1992.  Their signature style embodies the understated elegance of updated classics and sleek lines of contemporary sophistication. They have ten stores in the UK but none abroad, at least not that I'm aware of. There were five of us (all ladies!) handpicked discerning bloggers of interiors!!  We were given a talk by their head of Marketing and PR, the very charming James Neil, on the key trends and latest products of India Jane while being offered bubbly and nibbles.  We were also offered 15% discount on everything we purchased and it was very much the embarrassment of the choice as to what to buy as it all looked so incredibly inviting, beautiful and luxurious.  And if that wasn't sufficient, they offered us a goodie bag when we left which I discovered this evening when I got home, contained a selection of gorgeous India Jane homewares.  I know Christmas hasn't come yet but I felt as if all my Christmases had come at once! 

I adore this time of year when the shops are dressed and styled to the hilt. Indian Jane is certainly no exception!  I'm no stranger to India Jane; I have a house full of their furniture, mirrors, soft furnishings, accessories and lighting (I have no less than five of their chandeliers in my home!). However I never tire of browsing one of their stores as they are styled within an inch of their lives but with the utmost taste.  Glitz and glamour but understated and refined. What more could you want?!

I took some photos on my iPhone but they aren't the greatest quality (says the gal who has just done a course in DSLR photography!) so do excuse the poor quality of some of the shots. I think I was overcome with the emotion of trying to decide what I could afford to buy when all I wanted to do was transport the entire shop to my home!

 India Jane is one of those shops, you have to buy something. I've never left empty handed! I'd love to hear about any interiors local shop that you frequent and the things they sell that you cannot live without. 

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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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Route marching around Richmond Park with a friend

Apologies for not having posted anything for a couple of weeks; I've had my dear friend Jill Neame staying with me from my home town, Christchurch (NZ). She comes to stay each year for five years (this is year 2) to walk another section of the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route in Spain.  She needs to get some serious walking practice during her two week stay in London so it's a great opportunity to see London on foot and to get some more exercise.  I am always surprised how much more you see when you walk - I'm used to zipping around London on my 50cc Vespa moped or getting exercise by jogging around Tooting Common opposite my house!

I also had some painful surgery on my thumb nail on 29th May and have spent the last 10 days with a fat bandage on my thumb and my arm in a sling for the first four days to relieve the pressure so typing on my laptop has been nigh impossible! You don't realise how much you need/use your thumb until you can't use it.  I had to get Jill to wash my hair, attach my necklaces, chop vegetables ..... but I could unscrew the top of a wine bottle!!!  

Both Jill and I had wedding invites (hers last w/e and mine in July) so here we are modelling our new hats from Petersham Nurseries - these gorgeous Italian made hats made from 70% straw, are just perfect, not too formal and just enough flippancy to counter any formal attire!!

The first day of Jill's visit we decided to route march around Richmond Park. I'd visited the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park a few weeks ago (Bedazzled by Colour) to see the spectacular azaleas and rhododendrons but I wasn't disappointed when we visited the Plantation again, despite the azaleas being well past their best; on the contrary I found their faded glory much more appealing.  You have to forgive me for yet another blog post on Richmond Park; it never ceases to inspire and enthral.  It's hard to believe you are actually just outside the centre of London and if the planes weren't on the flight part to Heathrow airport which crosses the edge of Richmond Park, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in the countryside. Entering from Roehampton Gate, the first thing you notice are the deer which is always such a wonderful sight of peace and tranquillity.  Sometimes a deer will saunter into the road and all the traffic has to stop while all the other deer decide to follow suit. They definitely have their right of way!!

After route marching around Richmond Park and the Isabella Plantation, we returned to Petersham Nurseries for a much-needed cup of tea and slice of cake

See subsequent posts for further route marching around London !!


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.


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. 

An epidemic of grey interiors!

What is it about the colour grey and the current obsession with using it everywhere in the home (I admit that I've fallen foul of it myself!)?  I can accept that you might want to use it in one or two rooms but not a different shade of grey in every room, with little or no thought to  whether the room is sunny or dark and no pops of colour out of fear to introduce colour. Even the mirrors and light fittings are lacking in colour!

Don't get me wrong, I love the colour grey and a year ago I changed my sitting room walls from off-white to grey (Farrow & Ball's Cornforth White) and all the furniture, window dressing and accessories accordingly.   It's a very sunny room; with plenty of colour (purple and gold) in the furniture and accessories, the room does not feel clinical or cold.  Here are my sitting room before and after photos - transformation from beige to grey!

I manage a local interiors shop twice a week in which we sell up-cycled furniture.  It seems that most of our customers have some or all of their rooms painted in a shade(s) of grey (usually Farrow & Ball)! There is a definite "sheep" mentality going on where people are painting grey rooms because they've seen it in a friend's house and don't want to be left behind. They therefore want the furniture that they buy from us to also be painted in grey shades.  We therefore have moved away from painting furniture in the yellow or red based Farrow & Ball neutrals to the greys or colours with grey undertones.  These tend to be more contemporary than the traditional red and yellow based neutrals. There is a definite trend to transform homes into more contemporary spaces - open plan living, mid-century furniture, natural surfaces like concrete .....  However a lot of people are afraid to introduce colour and these grey interiors appear flat and dull.  What these interiors need are pops of yellow, orange, purple, turquoise, pink, red .... in fact any colour and what about a bit of that gilt to warm up the room in a mirror or chandelier?  

I always recommend to my clients when doing colour consultations that they start introducing colour with small items that can be removed/replaced easily such as cushions, flowers & plants, vases etc. There's nothing more beautiful than a bowl full of fresh lemons (and limes) to add a pop of colour to a grey interior.  I love colour and don't stick to rules, rather am guided by my gut instinct and my love of flowers (I find nature to be the best inspiration for how to use colour). It's very rewarding when I can convince a client to introduce some colour and to see their reaction to the way it has enhanced the room. Shock-horror followed swiftly by a broad smile. Warms the cockles of my heart to see these reactions!

If you are thinking of painting a room grey, think of what colour(s) you will use to complement the grey. For example, a grey with lilac undertones (Farrow & Ball 'Skimming Stone' or 'Elephant's Breath') looks superb with pops of purple, turquoise or pink. I recently painted my bathroom Elephant's Breath and have added pops of turquoise and purple in artwork, mirrors and towels.

Be a trail blazer, break the "sheep" mentality and be the first of your friends to introduce colour into your grey interior.  Trust me, you won't regret it. If you don't have the confidence to do it alone, I'm happy to help.  Give me a call or drop me a line.