Revamping an Edwardian Home used for Bed & Breakfast

CLIENT PROFILE:

Large Edwardian family home in Tooting, South West London, with a well established bed & breakfast Parklands Bed & Breakfast

I was contacted by the client to revamp the guest suites and communal areas with new colour schemes and to restyle each room with different accessories. In most instances I was able to recycle all the accessories in the property. 

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Renovating a Victorian apartment on a tight budget

CLIENT PROFILE:

Single professional male; first home he has owned; South West London two bedroom ground floor Victorian apartment; east facing. 

The client had no furniture when he moved in except a deck chair!  The whole apartment needed to be painted, decorated and filled with furniture and accessories.  His brief was for a stylish and comfortable design as his previous abode had been a real bachelor pad!  And all on a very small budget.

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Add colour to a grey colour scheme

The trend for grey interiors continues, at least in south west London where I and most of my clients live.  Most paint their interiors in various shades of grey and then wonder what they can do to brighten them up. After all, it's grey outside most of the year in London so why would you want to bring that indoors?!

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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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Headboard or Artwork in a Bedroom?

Do you have a headboard on your bed? Many of us don't. So what alternatives are there?   Mirrors, artwork, wall hangings.......... ?

In one of my bedrooms the bed has no headboard so I have added a very narrow bookcase on which are two lamps. However the wall above that was completely empty and crying out for a wow factor alternative to a headboard. 

I recently purchased a boxed set by Natural Curiosities of 14 x 14 inch square prints called 'Images for the Inquisitive - Volume 12 - Hortus Eystettensis'. They bear the authentic Latin name of an important 1613 collection of engravings of every species in the palace garden of Prince Bishop of Eichstätt in Bavaria).  The box had been sitting in a cupboard and this was the perfect opportunity to have some of them framed and placed as art decor behind the bed.  I used my wonderful picture framers, Read and Booth, in Wandsworth Bridge Road, London SW6, who helped me select nine of the prints and a suitable frame (with no mount).  I planned to hang them 3 x 3 to add a real sense of drama to the room. The ceilings are very high in the room so there was plenty of space below the picture rail.  I also painted the lamp bases in Annie Sloan's 'Aubusson Blue' and bought a pair with a lovely botanical fern pattern pleated shades by Pooky Lighting

In the other bedroom there is a headboard but the wall above the headboard needed something on it to complement the headboard and add a wow factor.

I had forgotten all about a very old book of Pierre-Joseph Redouté rose prints that was my grandmother's. Belgian born Redouté achieved success as a painter working for the French royal court as a tutor to Marie Antoinette and later from 1798 was appointed to paint the flowers of Malmaison by Josephine Bonaparte. His famous published works include 'Les Liliacées' and 'Les Roses'. This version of 'Les Roses' was published in 1954 and I had rescued it from my grandmother's house in New Zealand when she passed away over 40 years ago!!  I had a light bulb moment and decided to create a group of framed rose prints above the bed as the colours would beautifully complement the headboard and the colours of the cushions and Kantha throw. Also, the wall colour, Farrow & Ball 'Teresa's Green' would provide the perfect colour to enhance their beauty. Once again my lovely framers, David and James from Read and Booth helped me select the eight prints from the book and a suitable frame. The frame is a reddish-brown wood which really works well with the background colour of the prints and the red/pink colours of the roses.

I hope I have inspired you to use art in a bedroom in place of a headboard or even to enhance a headboard.  I would love to see what you have done with the wall above your bed(s) so do send me pics.


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Make a statement with your table lamps

Hi everyone.  Firstly I must apologise for the lack of blog posts in the last few weeks; in fact since 5 March when I posted the last one.  I've had a manically busy few weeks having taken on a number of new clients. Also, I am preparing for a photo shoot of my flat in mid April which has been stressing me out somewhat.  So I've been furiously upcycling some of my furniture with Annie Sloan paint (separate blog post shortly) and changing lampshades on all my table lamps.

Table lamps can be so boring and serve no other purpose than to provide a lighting source. Gone are the days when you only had a limited choice of shades, mainly 50 shades of beige or cream!!  Now you can buy the most divine shades and make a real statement, a wow factor, even if the lamp base is a bit "meh".    The reverse is a statement lamp base with a plain shade that doesn't compete.   However, beware as you can spend hundreds of pounds on a lamp shade and even thousands of pounds on a lamp base.  It's a matter of finding something affordable and you really love.

There is a great shop in London called Pooky Lighting which sells affordable and fun lamp bases and shades so I popped in and bought three pairs of lampshades for the bedrooms and kitchen.  What a difference they have made to the rooms; the lighting has transformed the spaces from "meh" to "tah-dah" !!!

 

In the kitchen I changed the shades from plain taupe coloured silk to these gorgeous silk Ikat pleated shades by Pooky Lights.  In the sitting room I replaced a pair of beige linen shades in the alcoves with black & white Ikat ones which really draw the eye in.

And finally, I bought a rather expensive but absolutely divine lamp base from Nicholas Haslam designed by Paolo Moschino.  It is my piece de resistance but one of those items that you see and just have to have!!  It is solid handcarved brass and it was the way it opened up like a flower and had such beautiful flowing lines that made me fall in love with it.  The jury is out on whether any of my friends like it !!

I would love to hear what sort of table lamps you have and would be happy to offer some advice if you are thinking of changing them so do contact me.


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Make your New Year's Resolutions enjoyable!

Happy New Year everyone. As you may have noticed, I took a couple of weeks' break from blog posting over the festive period.  This was due a busy social calendar and also I was helping my older son pack up his life in London and move to Sydney to live, where my other son has been living for over two years.  It's a weird feeling to have one's children all living on the other side of the world; now I know how my parents in New Zealand felt with all three of their children living 12,000 miles away. However technology has moved on from when we left home and communication was restricted to letters, faxes and (land line) phone calls. With Skype, Facetime and free calls via tools like Whatsapp and Viber, the distance feels much smaller especially when you can see your children on your phone or computer.  Hey ho, at least I have a good reason to visit Sydney regularly!

I'm sure many of you have made serious lists of new year's resolutions.  There are all the usual things that people have on their list of new year's resolutions, the self-flagellation things like no alcohol for January, joining a gym, losing weight, not spending any money and so on.  I'm of the opinion that our new year's resolutions should be about doing things we enjoy especially creative things, stretching ourselves by getting out of our comfort zones.  For example, I'm going to learn how to dance salsa even though I'm a lousy dancer.  I know I'll enjoy it even if I don't master all those sexy hip movements!!

Below are five suggestions for some new year's resolutions that are both enjoyable and creative and will also develop you by making you push the boundaries:

1. Learn how to paint furniture - up-cycle your own items, those already in your home or ones you find at junk shops, markets or auctions. Find your nearest Annie Sloan stockist and sign up to an Annie Sloan Workshop to learn how to paint furniture with confidence and to achieve a professional finish.  I did the workshop three years ago at Phoenix on Golborne which is a fabulous shop and one of my regular haunts. I love the fact that you just slap on the paint - no sanding or undercoating - and eureka, you have transformed a piece of furniture!  You can paint any surface including silver, ceramic, wood, metal, walls etc. The day after I did the workshop I was so inspired I painted my mahogany sideboard which I had actually planned to get rid of.  I started with a coat of Aubusson Blue (my favourite colour) and then a coat of Florence - I adore both of these colours.  Then distressed it with a coat of clear wax, then dark wax and finally another coat of clear wax. It was so much fun transforming the sideboard and gave me a warm fuzzy feeling when friends and family paid me a lot of compliments!!  At the end of this blog you will find links to other items I've painted. Please sign up to an Annie Sloan workshop; you won't regret it.

2.  Transform a room in your home with a strong colour - most people are terrified of colour and stick to decorating rooms with neutrals.  If you are one of these people, be brave and have some fun - transform a downstairs loo or walk in pantry or cupboard in a bold, strong paint colour or fabulous extravagant wallpaper. Loos are great places to have real fun with decorating.  Here are a couple of ideas: Farrow and Ball 'Stiffkey Blue' is a stunning darkish blue paint and looks stunning on walls.  You can also paint the ceiling and skirtings in the same colour or contrast these with white to complement the white loo and basin.  Or paper the walls with one of the divine Cole and Son Fornasetti II Acquario wallpapers (several colourways though I'm partial to the black background one).  Both these ideas can be seen in the two images below. 

3.  Take classes in something fun and creative - I've signed up salsa classes!  I'm no dancer and I know this is right out of my comfort zone but I am sure it will be really enjoyable (eeek!!).  I'm also going to learn how to play bridge. I've always thought bridge was for the "oldies" as I associated it with my grandma and mother but I'm constantly being proved wrong; it seems to be quite trendy these days and it is great for the brain!

4. Buy more flowers and plants for the home - I bang on about having flowers in the home in many of my blog posts (it's the florist in me!).  Flowers & plants are not only beautiful but they can be therapeutic to have around as they always make you feel happy.  I have them in most rooms and often they actually make me smile when I enter a room and see a vase of beautiful blooms.  They are also a great way to introduce colour into a neutral colour scheme. Be brave, be bold - buy purple and orange tulips and put them in the same vase as I love to do (my two favourite colours); pink and orange roses in the same vase; an orchid plant in the bathroom.  Just three suggestions. I'm not a huge fan of green plants but I do love flowering spring plants like hyacinths and daffodils so buy some of these when they are in season and put them in pretty pots around the house.

5. Be kind to yourself - Have a regular beauty treatment - I have found a local spa that offers a half hour back & neck massage for only £20 and the girl who does the treatment is absolutely superb.  I feel totally "filleted" after the massage and they always encourage me to chill out afterwards on their reclining sofas with a herbal tea for a half hour.  I struggle to get up after that and go home!!  I cannot stress enough how important it is to treat yourself - a manicure, pedicure, massage or other (just not a waxing as that's self-flaggation in my book !!!!!).

I hope you will consider some or all of the above five suggestions for your new year's resolutions.  Just remember to love yourself and you deserve to enjoy life a bit more. So less of the self-flaggation and more of the above tips!!

I'd love to hear of any resolutions that you have on your list that involve enjoyment and creativity as well as pushing you out of your comfort zone.


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Inspiring locals with my 'Colour in the Home' talk

Hi Everyone, I guess you are in the throws of starting to decorate your homes for Christmas and furiously buying presents. It's a lovely time of year; I love all that anticipation. 

Last week I gave a talk on 'Colour in the Home' at the local interiors shop where I work two days a week, Quirky Dovetail.   This is a lovely local interiors shop where I've been working (running the shop) part-time for the last three years.  We specialise in up-cycling old furniture and painting it in Farrow and Ball neutral paint colours as well as selling antique and vintage items and homewares.  The event at which I spoke was our annual Christmas shopping evening which is always well attended by regular clients, new clients and friends.  Given that I am an interior decorator and colour consultations are a crucial part of my services, and also I'm absolutely passionate about colour, I decided to give a half hour talk on how to use colour in the home.  The majority of our clients are afraid of colour so I wanted to show them how they could inject some colour into a neutral colour scheme.  Grey is definitely the trend currently and many people paint rooms grey, add grey flooring and furniture but then wonder why the room looks bland and insipid.  I hope I inspired them enough to introduce some colour; the feedback after my talk certainly gave that impression!

Given that Quirky Dovetail paint furniture in Farrow and Ball paint, I used the six Farrow and Ball neutral families as the basis for my talk.  There are so many colour brands and each paint chart has way too many colours but I like the fact that Farrow and Ball have created these six neutral families to make our lives easier when selecting a colour scheme. And Farrow and Ball paint is particularly lovely with such high levels of pigment and such depth of colour.

I know the word 'neutral' can sound really dully and boring, even a bit of a cop-out to some of you, however neutrals are easy to live with, elegant and un-demanding if they are used correctly.  It's all about how you put the neutral shades together as to whether the effect is sophisticated or insipid.

I prepared a board for each of the Farrow and Ball neutral families and I included some accent colours and also a couple of fabrics to create a sort of mood board so that the audience could imagine how these could work in a room.

For those of you are not familiar with the Farrow and Ball neutral families, they are:

Traditional Neutrals - Soft grey-green tones, sophisticated - Lime White, Old White, Slipper Satin, Off White. Suggested accents: Light Gray, Mouse's Back, Pigeon

Yellow-based Neutrals - Creamy undertones, prettiest group, country feel - White Tie, New White, String, Matchstick. Suggested accents: Cord, Cat's Paw, Tanner's Brown, Mouse's Back or for a country scheme try Cooking Apple Green, Cook's Blue and Rectory Red

Red-based Neutrals - Red undertones, warmest group - Pointing, Dimity, Joa's White, Oxford Stone. Suggested accents: London Stone, London Clay, Eating Room Red

Contemporary Neutrals - Lilac undertones, appear grey, add edge but retain warmth - Wimborne White, Strong White, Skimming Stone, Elephant's Breath. Suggested accents: Dovetail, Charleston Gray, Pelt

Easy Greys - Neither too warm nor too cool, delicate gauzy appearance - Wevet, Ammonite, Cornforth White, Purbeck Stone. Suggested accents: Mole's Breath, Railings, Stiffkey Blue

Architectural Cool - Cool with blue undertones, have architectural edge - Blackened, Dimpse, Pavilion Gray, Plummett Suggested accents: Down Pipe, Railings, Stiffkey Blue

Here are my boards of the six neutral families and accents:

I also created some separate colour schemes on smaller boards again with a complementing fabric and these were pinned to the reverse of the presentation board for viewing after my talk.

We had a full house for my talk and the evening was animated and sociable fuelled by plenty wine and food and lots of shopping!  Never the most flattering when you are being photographed talking animatedly and passionately and waving your arms around but here goes .......... !1

I would love to hear how you have introduced colour into your home and what paint brand and colours you have used. Or if you have any questions you would like to ask me, don't hesitate to get in contact.


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Transform a wooden tray with Farrow & Ball paint

It's way too long since I last painted something for my home so I've lined up several items, the first of which is this wooden tray that I purchased from Petersham Nurseries a couple of years ago.  Don't get me wrong, it's a nice wood but it had lost its appeal so I wasn't using it so I fancied a change. Actually these are the trays that they use at Petersham Nurseries in the cafe when you buy your coffee, cake or lunch and they suit that environment as it's very rustic but it doesn't suit my home. 

I usually paint with Annie Sloan paint as you don't need to key (rub the surfaces with sandpaper) or undercoat, you just slap on the paint, on any surface! However the Annie Sloan range of colours doesn't include a purple/aubergine colour (something I think they need to address) and I couldn't be bothered to mix the appropriate colours to create purple, so I decided that this time I would use Farrow & Ball 'Brinjal' which is a gorgeous aubergine colour.  I ummed and ahed about whether to distress the edges of the tray to bring through some of the wood but decided it would be too much of a vintage look so I opted to paint it all over. 

I painted three layers of the colour (I used less than two of the small sample pots)

and then used Annie Sloan clear Soft Wax which is a wonderful wax and way superior to any other clear wax I've ever used.

And voila, here is the finished article.  Isn't it stunning?!  I love the way it works so well with the colour of the cyclamen and the vintage bowl which I purchased this week from Charlie McCormick's popup shop.

I'd love to hear about things that you are painting for your home, what paint you use, what colours and paint finishes you like so do email me with your comments. I'll create a separate post for some more items that I'm currently painting.


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Are you a passionate collector?

Hi everyone.  Last week was manically busy - working hard but also very exciting as I bought my first ever grown-up camera - a DSLR !!  I've had a compact Panasonic Lumix for 11 years which I've used to take all the photos, including those on my blog, and frankly it's a pretty amazing little camera. It's never let me down and the quality of the photos is superb.  I'd prefer to buy another Panasonic as they have the most fantastic Leica lenses but they don't (yet) make DSLRs, just Bridge cameras.   In the DSLR range there are really only two brands to consider, Canon and Nikon, and from what I understand you are either a Canon person or a Nikon person.  I'm neither, I remain brand agnostic and am more influenced by price and reviews.  I ended up buying a Nikon (D5500) so I guess I'm now a Nikon girl!!  So I've been stalking my new camera for four days now as it sits on the kitchen table, quite intimidated by it.  I've managed to charge it and take a couple of pics but that's about it.  I need to bite the bullet, read the manual and start to use it.  Enough of that, this blog post is supposed to be about collecting items so here goes!

Do you have a passion for a particular type of item and are amassing a collection?  For example, a type of china, all things "owl" related, teddy bears (hope not!), glassware, mirrors ....... the list is endless.

Some people collect a certain type of china.  The photos below are the home of a florist who (obviously) collects Wade china vases.  She has cleverly, to great effect, made a feature of them in a living room and also in one of the bathrooms. 

By nature I'm neither a hoarder nor a collector but I do adore mirrors and have over 15 mirrors in my home so technically that could class me as a collector, no?!  Recently I've developed a love of small vintage tins and whenever I see one that I like, I buy it.  Currently I only have six tins and I don't plan to avidly search them out just to add to the collection as and when I find them.  I usually pick them up in junk shops, second hand shops or markets and the rustier the better.  I've never parted with more than £22 for a tin and that's in a shop; if I am at a market or junk shop I can buy them for a couple of quid.

I'm all for collecting items but I think it's really important to display them in such a way that they become part of your interior styling, rather than just build up a clutter of them on a shelf to gather dust or in a cupboard where you can't see them.  I'm also very practical by nature and a time management freak so I use most of these vintage tins for storing useful items like pen, paper, reading glasses, TV remote, stapler, post-its etc.  The pretty tin on the pile of books (makeshift side table!) next to the chair I sit in to watch TV is particularly useful. Means I don't have to get up to find a pen and paper if I suddenly have a brain wave which often happens when I'm watching some mind-numblingly boring programme on TV! And being of a certain age where my eye sight is no longer perfect, if I can fit a pair of glasses in the tin all the better so they are strategically placed in each room, hidden in a tin where possible, so out of sight. 

Here are the vintage tins I currently have.  They may not appeal to everyone but I love the age of them, the old-fashioned design and subtle colours. The larger ones are old biscuit tins. They certainly don't make such beautiful biscuit tins these days, do they?  Anyway, here are my tins and how I've used them as part of my interior styling.

I'd love to hear about what items you are passionate about and that you collect - what quantities you have, how you store or display them, where you find them to buy etc.  Do let me know and I'm sure my subscribers would enjoy reading about your collections.  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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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.