Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Christmas Wishlist: Books, Books and More Books!

So if there's one thing that's made a number of appearances on my wish list this year, it's got to be books.  When I was a kid, it was rare indeed that you would see me without my nose in a book and I would often read by the light of a flashlight (torch) underneath my covers until my mom would inevitably yell at me to GO. TO. SLEEP.  And then of course, I would just wait until she had turned her attentions to something else and would continue reading very late into the night.  It was no wonder I never liked getting up in the morning.

That passion really never subsided completely and even today, I am an all-or-nothing person when it comes to reading fiction (ie., will read for 5 hours straight until it is DONE because I can't bear putting it down kinda girl).  That being said, because my life will not often allow me such an indulgence (nor will it allow me such late nights), I tend to save my hard core reading for the holidays.

At the same time, I do love a good interior design book with beautiful eye candy that I can page through at my leisure, swooning over inspirational image over inspirational image.

And as we have a holiday coming up where I can indulge both of my pleasures, I'm adding these books to my 'Please-Father-Christmas-I've-Been-Oh-So-Very-Good-This-Year' list and thought I'd share them with you as well.

I'm a massive fan of designer Celerie Kemble and from what I've seen so far of her book Black & White (and a bit in between), she doesn't appear to disappoint.  Black and white is such a timeless look that I'm eager to see what gorgeousness she's put together.  Those dark walls on the cover?  Oh yespleaseandthankyou.

Next up?  A work of fiction with a provocative title.  When I Was Five I Killed Myself by Howard Buten, and "hailed as 'one of the most charming voices since Holden Caulfield'" centering around an eight year old boy and his "unusual and occasionally bewildering narrative of love, loyalty and the injustice inherent in not being understood by the adult world."  As a massive fan of Catcher in the Rye, I am hoping this will be a rather thought-provoking read!

Another work of fiction is also on my list by Norwegian author Erlend Low called Naive.Super about a 25 year old man questioning his place in the world.  Do I like mildly depressing, tongue-in-cheek novels?  Hmm.  I'm starting to think so.  Nonetheless, it was a huge success in it's original Norwegian language and has received fantastic critical acclaim.  I'm up for a bit of deep thinking me.

My next design book that I'm eager to get my grubby mitts on is Grace Bonney's Design*Sponge at Home.  No blogger worth their salt would want to miss this one with the powerhouse of fantastic info that her blog is.  I imagine there will be very much to delight in with her hard-backed offering as it promises lots of DIY projects!  Woohoo!

Next up on the fiction shelves is All My Friends are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman.  At only 108 pages, I can do this one in one sitting and won't even need a holiday to get the time.  A novel about love among superheros with a tender message.  I may need it after all the depressing shit I'll have been reading.

By the same author and bearing a similarly petite size, I also would like to read The Tiny Wife which received equally positive reviews.  Just looking at the cover makes me want to pick it up and read it - does it do that to you too?  Who says you can't judge a book by it's cover?  Just try and stop me.

Image via Bookiemonster

Another design book I would love to own is Details: A Stylist's Secret to Creating Inspired Interiors by Lili Diallo and photographed by Annie Schlecter.  With a great big gorgeous bubblegum pink tufted sofa on the front cover, I can not wait to see what else is in store!

Part of my job entails reading through loads and loads of editorial copy and with that comes proof-reading.  Not the sexiest thing in the world but being that I'm often called 'The Red Pen Nazi' at work (because I can't help proofing much of anything put in front of my face - I'm sure I was a teacher in another life), I thought it was only fitting to finally add Eats Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss to my bookshelf.

I also have 3 books on digital marketing which I'm pretty sure you won't care too much about and a couple others as well but these are the books I really want!

Have you got any books on your wishlist?  Any design books that are rocking your socks right now?  Are you like me and can't stop reading fiction until you've turned the last page?  Oooh or are you asking for a Kindle?  I genuinely wouldn't want one because I am rather old fashioned and I love the creak of breaking in the binding of a new book and feel of pages between my fingers!  Have you read any of these works of fiction and would you recommend them?

I've not really posted about books previously so it'd be nice to hear your own picks and thoughts on this one!  Don't be shy, I do love to read your comments!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Christmas Inspiration: Beautiful Table Settings

I figured as it's practically December, I should do a post around Christmas, eh?  I think it's the right thing to do.

So, I've been debating what colours to use when decorating my own home this holiday season but I think I've finally come to a decision.

Part of that inspiration has come from a number of beautifully decorated table settings which I thought I might share with you in case you needed an extra helping of lovely prior to setting your Christmas table decor. ("extra helping" - geddit? See what I did there? Oh I kill me.)

via pottery barn

It's definitely time to break out the sparkly stuff.

via Shop Talk Blog 
(although technically a Thanksgiving setting, it still would work for Christmas)

Twinkling lights never goes amiss.  This crystal garland would look amazing on a Christmas table.

via Red Lilly

I saw this last year and I'm still in love with the idea of angel wings on the dining chairs.

via Inspire Bohemia

The mixed metals and candlelight here look so warm and festive.

South Shore Decorating via Arcadian Home

And then some non-Christmas settings that are equally gorgeous and inspiring...

How fabulous is that animal-print tablecloth with gold? Seriously considering something like this for my own Christmas table!  Possibly not that traditional but really gorgeous nonetheless.

via Made By Girl

Another twist on black, gold and white - stunning.


We'll do another just because it's too pretty to leave out...

via Luxury Monograms

So after looking at all these beautiful settings, are you inspired? 

I'm really quite excited about busting out the Christmas decorations.  I've been thinking of taking inspiration from a few of these images and throwing in my own twist.  My colours?  Black, white and mixed metals (mostly because I have loads of gold stuff from years past and loads of silver stuff from more recent years so combined - bam! Mixed metals.  Oh yeah.)  And as I mentioned, I might try to incorporate some animal print as well on my table for a little unexpected fun.

Also?  Desperate for gold cutlery.  I just love it.  Not sure if I'll be able to score a deal on a set but I'm hoping eBay is kind to me this year.

Need more proof?  How beautiful is this colour scheme?  The Peacock blue is giving me heart palpitations.

via 5th/58th

What is your decorating scheme for the holidays?  Do you stick to a limited pallet?  Or are you all about the colour?  Are you mixing metals too?  Going all out traditional?  Maybe you are looking forward to a White Christmas? (Side note: I would love a white tree!)

Leave me some comment lovin' - we're all about the sharing here and I like comments like Father Christmas likes some Brandy.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Bargain Hunt: Faux Bamboo Dining Chairs


This is the thing, see. I read a lot of American blogs. Well, ya know, there's a lot of them out there, right?  And there's so much CHOICE in the States in terms of the trends and styles that I find myself longing for on a daily basis.  It seems that beautiful things are prevalent and yet, they are only just beyond the ends of my fingertips, like a huge ocean of gorgeousness that's just that too far away, too far from reach.

Jonathan Adler via House Beautiful

More than frequently, these items are just not available here in my little edge of the world.  I can search all I like for certain furniture pieces, certain fabrics, certain accessories and unless I want to pay top whack for shipping (I don't), then it's just not possible for me to get these items.

But there is some good news in all of this - as I alluded to in my last post.  Yeah, I seemed to have gotten lucky in the faux bamboo stakes.

Yes that does say $699AU.  via Adore.

Ya see, every once in a very great while, I hit gold.  And it's those times that I am more than grateful that I live on this gorgeous little island with the fantastic dark sense of humour, the rain, the beautiful countryside and at times, the bargains.

Jonathan Adler via Decorpad

And I say this because I know that many people here in the UK aren't saturated daily with the same beauty I see in blogland.  And sometimes, they have no idea of the value of the things they have.

Windsor Smith via Burciaga

Craigslist isn't quite as popular here as in the States.  I have to rely on eBay to pick up furniture bargains.  But I know that original Eero Saarinen tulip tables are listed for £100.  That I could get a mid-century modern console for about £30 (Or maybe this one for almost half of that).  You see where I'm going with this right?

Lonny Mag

Now what I have been looking for and longing for (if you haven't already figured it out which I'm sure you have being the clever clog that you are) was a set of faux bamboo chairs for the dining room.

Pereira Associates via Lonny Mag

If money were no object and practicality wasn't an issue, then I'd probably go for something velvet and tufted but well, you are looking at a shitload of money for that particular dream.  Money that I won't have for a while (maybe never).  So my mind was turned to these lovelies...

Rovin Raven

And when I somehow, miraculously found these beauties (not in their current state, mind you, but beauties nonetheless) on eBay, I knew I'd struck gold.

*drumroll please*

via ebay, the original listing

While I am sure you can find bargains in the States as well, I do remember reading that these go for anywhere between $300-$600 EACH in the States.  Now let's just bear in mind, I couldn't find these ANYWHERE in the UK - for any price, nevermind inexpensively.  (That link right there is a search for 'faux bamboo dining chairs' - you will see the choice is just less than inspiring.)

In fact, the only place I knew I could get them was on Jonathan Adler's UK site.

For £550.

Per chair.

Uhhh.  Yeah.

Back to my bargain.... The listing was for a set of 8 side chairs for £180.  Seriously.

Now, let's be practical here.  I didn't need nor do I have room for 8 chairs.  My table fits 4 - I can probably fit 6 in a pinch but I didn't really want to clutter my room unnecessarily so 4 would be fine.  I sent the seller an email about a month ago asking if she'd consider splitting the set.  I already knew the answer but figured it wouldn't hurt to be cheeky.

She responded saying she'd rather not but if she got another buyer wanting 4, she'd let me know.

I'll be honest with you, I didn't hold my breath.  I mean, she had them listed as 'Shabby Chic' - WTF?  Who else would want these chairs if that's what they were looking for?

Well, last week, I got the email.  She had another buyer for 4 chairs and was I still interested in buying the other 4?  (Does a bear shit in the woods?)

Come to mama.

Now, I admit it.  I fretted a bit originally (if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you'd have read my panic pleas to help me make a decision) -  I mean, it's nearly Christmas, I don't NEED chairs... and I really need to save my pennies.  But oh god, what a deal.

There was no way I was going to pass these up.  I would regret it for ever.

So I have now purchased 4 chairs for £95 in all.  So soon, these lovelies will be mine.  Excited much?  You bet I am.

Now comes the fun part... what colour?  what fabric?  Oooh give me some good ideas, people because my mind is swirling!!!  The comment box awaits!

PS. If you want to see what my dining room looks like currently, you can see it in this post.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Design Lust: For the Love of Faux Bamboo

I've been crushing big style on faux bamboo.

The Lonny Mag office shows how a little faux bamboo goes a long way in the style stakes.

Michelle Adams for Lonny Offices via Lonny Mag

Check out this really fun oriental style mirror.  It just changes the space completely, especially in bright reddy-orange.  I would never have thought this would work but somehow, it just does.

Ellie Somerville for Lonny Offices via Lonny Mag

Oh and then there is this stunning gilded bar cart.  Are you dying?  Because I am dying.

So, I wish they would have moved the lamp cord but ya know, other than that, it's perfection.

via The Decorista

While I wouldn't recommend filling an entire space with it, touches here and there add a glamorous nod to Hollywood Regency style.

This colour combination makes my heart weep with joy.  How beautiful is this table setting?

via Dolce Vita

Prefer something a little more subtle?  Then how about this gorgeous bamboo bed?

via House Beautiful

Oh, and you don't need a big piece to make a big impression.  Even this small gold faux bamboo table at the end of this daybed takes the whole look up an eclectic notch.

via Desire to Inspire

This desk and chair combo is so glamorous!  (I need a bit of that greek key in  my life as well but let's not get sidetracked here.)

Interior by Christina Murphy - Patrick Cline Photography via Lonny Mag

This bamboo dresser in the bedroom of Erin from Clementine and Olive (a new favourite of mine - if you haven't checked out her blog, she's got style in abundance) looks elegant and smart with a colourful vingnette on top.

via Clementine and Olive

And soon, I will have a little piece of gorgeous faux bamboo style in my own home!  

I'm so excited I could burst, if I'm honest.  Because oh my god, I have rocked a SERIOUS deal here, it's almost criminal.  But you'll just have to stop back to find out what I'm going on about...  I know, I'm a tease.

So do you love faux bamboo as well?  Do you have any in your own home?  Have you found it as difficult to track down in the UK as I have?  Or do you see it as yet another trend that you'll soon grow tired of?  Spill all in the comments!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Take Me Away: Bellinter House, County Meath Ireland

I have lived in England for just over 10 years now.  Our (I think I've earned the right to claim it as my own if only in my heart) fair isle - where everything is on your doorstep in terms of the rest of Europe, never mind the rest of what's on the British Isles themselves.

I've been very privileged to take advantage of my vicinity to the rest of Europe (although not as much as I'd have liked) and have been to Scotland, Wales, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Czech Republic, Hungary, the Canary Islands and Iceland (although not technically in Europe but you get my drift hopefully).

However, what amazes me is that I STILL - despite it's relatively close proximity - have not been to Ireland.  I know, I know.  It's like people from New York never going to Ellis Island.  Ridiculous.

So I think it's time I rectify this situation - especially as W's half Irish on his dad's side and he does a brilliant Irish accent.

Just as a side note, is the Irish accent the sexiest in Europe?  Discuss.

So when I saw this beauty in County Meath (just about an hour Northwest of Dublin), I realised even more why I would love to go.

Bellinter House is as beautiful as it is welcoming.

From the website...

"Standing majestically on the banks of the River Boyne in the rolling landscape of County Meath, Bellinter House exudes period glamour."

Glamour, indeed... But also quite cozy, don't you think?

I'm in love with the stag light.  Seriously, I need that in my life.

The colour mix here is not something I would have ever thought would work but it totally does.

Another one of those lights... dear god.  Please someone tell me where I can get one.  WANT.

Don't you just want to rock up on that beautiful chair and nestle down with a good book whilst the winds howl outside?

Tufted furniture, lucite tables and wooden floors.... Heaven.


Double rooms start around 120/night.  Anyone else as in love with this place as I am?

All images Mr and Mrs Smith except for last, from

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Dining Room Ramblings: Gallery Wall Updates and Other Good Stuff

This is going to be just a big mess of a post because there's a bunch of stuff going on at the moment in my dining room in terms of little changes here and there so bear with the rambling post!

My favourite shot!

I was looking at some old pictures of when we first moved in and realised that whilst we've not really spent a lot of money at all on this room (not like the kitchen and living rooms which had a budget associated with each over a given time period) we've actually made quite a bit of progress just making a lot of little changes as we went.

So I guess I'll start there and then talk about some of the detail after that!

We're going to begin with some before and afters.  I know I like a good before and after personally and it's always good to take stock.

The 'before' pictures were taken back in July 2010 when we'd only just moved in and the 'after' pictures were just taken this weekend.

So we'll start with the view into the kitchen...

I love that you can really see the difference the white kitchen now makes!  Holy brightness Batman!

This shot is notoriously difficult to take only because the window tends to blow it out but you can see there was wallpaper in the alcove on the left (There was no sign of it anywhere else in the room which begs the question why anyone would use wallpaper only there?).

Wallpaper was painted over (I actually forgot it had been there, you really can't see it at all with a coat of paint over it) along with all the trim and the mantle and of course, STUFF was added.

So here we see the final before and after of the dining room and I have to say, this is really the biggest change.  Having a television in the dining room was W's idea so my challenge was finding a way to either blend it into the background or work it into the design.  My original idea was to use a patterned wallpaper here but once the paint went on, I knew I wanted the whole room in the same colour.

And so, the idea of a gallery wall was born.  I think it adds a lot of personality to the room and so what was originally an eyesore has become one of my favourite things about the room.  And I have to admit, it's great having a telly in here because we end up spending a lot more time in this room than just to eat meals.  It's really become the main hub of the whole house.

It's amazing what some paint and a few accessories will do, dontcha think?

So those of you that may have been following me for a while may have noticed I've added a few bits to the gallery wall.

I've always really loved vintage advertisements so I've added a couple of them to the wall.

The Martini & Rossi one is my favourite - I've always loved it!

I also got this great vintage 'Air Raid Shelter' sign but W suggested putting it above the cellar door instead!  I think every room should have a bit of humour, don't you?

Back to the gallery wall... I also got this wooden sign at a visit to a new interiors shop in Cheadle Hulme called 'Homebird' (cute name, no?).  Both me and W really like to cook so I thought it was appropriate in the dining room!  It's made from bits of wood and has a bit of a chalkboard look (without the mess).  The £29 price tag wasn't too bad either.

A few weekends ago, I cleared out the only closet in the house (in the guest bedroom) and found these two tiny framed prints that I bought way back in 2001, the first time I went to Prague from the little market traders along the Charles Bridge.  I like that they fit the mostly neutral scheme that's going on.

So here's how the wall is looking at the  moment with those additions and a couple things shifted about.  There's still gaps and holes to fill in and some of the items will inevitably be replaced but at least it's coming along!

Let's see... what else.  I purchased these lovely little reddy-orange roses from ALDI - 10 for £2.  Yes, seriously.  Hey, I'm not too proud to buy my flowers at the cheapest place in town.  They are lovely, aren't they?  And for 20p each, I'm certainly not gonna argue. 

Oh did you notice my new autumn tablecloth?  H&M for £20 (although it's in the sales now for £7.99!).  I really love it because the colours just work so well with everything else in the room and it's a nice thick cotton fabric.

Oh I also had to move the console table from under the window (where I prefer it) to the alcove because W said it was blocking the heat from the rad and it does get awful cold in here.  When I moved it over to the corner, I felt it looked too heavy with the table cloth on it so I've removed it.

It's not great there but well, I suppose it'll do just for the winter.  Once it warms up again, I'll put it back where it was!

The tray, which had been through a rather disastrous paint job has been repainted white for now but I have some plans for it so stay tuned for that.  The little gold candle was from a recent trip to IKEA.

I also recently bought these little wine glasses from eBay for a fiver!  Probably not surprising considering my obsession with all things gold.  I love them, they just look so cute and I think they'll look lovely on my Christmas table for a bit of added sparkle.

Oh I also got this little heart dish for £4.50 from the same interiors shop in Cheadle Hulme for W because he was always dumping all his change on the console table.  So now he's got somewhere to put it!  The dish is a perfect shade of greige.

So as I warned you, apologies that this post is sort of all over the place!  It's been a while since I showed my dining room but I needed to catch y'all up!  ("Y'all" is such a good word and I have yet to find a good alternative expression in England so it's staying in my vocab, dammit.)

I think that's everything!  I think I like that the room has a real eclectic style which is exactly what I was after in this room.  The floors obviously are a total mess but that's a project we'll be tackling next year.  I also need a rug to sit under the dining table.  And eventually, I'd like to replace the Parson chairs.  Oh and we need a new light fixture in here.  I'd also like to change out the mirror that sits above the mantle.  Ohhhh and we need some kind of window treatment... So erm... yes.  Still plenty to do.

That being said, what do you think of my recent bargain purchases?  Any thoughts on the progress so far?  Do you have any rooms that have just been worked on slowly and realised some time later how much progress you've actually made?  Do you buy all your flowers at discount shops? Go on, share in the comments.

PS. You might notice that I've started using a watermark on my photos.  I'm going to try to remember to do this from now on after reading a couple horror stories on line of people's blog posts being stolen and passed off as someone else's.  Hope it's not too distracting or annoying!

PPS.   I also realised after a bit of wandering around the blogosphere that I've been replying to loads of commenters via email and they've been being lost in the ether!! Oh my god, I'm gutted!  Here's the thing - unless you set your blogger profile to receive emails, then you are not able to receive replies to your comments.  I feel terrible because I reckon people think I'm well rude, not replying to them in the comment section but I know not everyone will go back to check and see if they've received a reply.  I try to reply to as many comments as I can so please do go check to ensure you've got an email address associated with your profile so I can respond personally :)  If you are afraid of loads of spam, I have to say, from my experience, I rarely get any so it's all good baby.

PPPS.  Okay, I'll shut up now.

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