A Fuchsia garden

Stunning weather in Gullane today and we are off on holiday soon…definitely garden season…gardening is a passion that has always been inside – for many years deep inside me, because I was bought up in a flat in Central London and then moved to a similar, top floor flat, in Glasgow…

I am spoilt because my husband is an able landscaper and kind of likes to do things his way (I think the saying is ‘Doug’s way or the Highway’) so I have been left, even when we bought our first house together, feeding my passion by ‘reading gardening books’ and ‘imagining myself gardening’…

However, I am now, by very good fortune, able to write about gardens for my work. We have just had a feature published, again in House Beautiful magazine, in the current issue, August 2014, about a beautiful garden in Dundee. The owners bought a stunning modernist home, at an early stage from a developer, and have really put their personal stamp on it.





With the help of brilliant garden designer, Tracy McQue they have created a garden that is a work of art, mouth watering colours, fun shapes and soft, practical textiles for outside, all combine to make an outside space that they use and enjoy all year round.

An artists home

All this talk of collecting art to make a house a home, obviously leads me to want to show you a home belonging to an artist…Jane Raven is a glass and stone artist and an avid collector.

Her Edinburgh home, which Douglas photographed for House Beautiful magazine is peppered throughout with beautiful paintings, drawings and ceramics…








Jane’s glassware is stencilled and sandblasted by hand. Having shown her work in galleries around Scotland, she now has clients in countries as diverse as Argentina, America, The Caribbean, China and Australia.



Although a complete departure from glass, Jane’s stone work complements her glassware range perfectly and includes beautiful, initialled pebbles and personalised wedding, anniversary or christening stones. She is Sarah Raven’s twin sister, the well known garden writer, creatively obviously flows through the whole family!

jr08 jr09 jr36

The Edge

Here is a new home and some! I was saying in my last post that Artwork is such a wonderful finishing touch to a home. This house is a work of art though…it hardly needs art to finish it off…







The Edge is a stunning home designed and built by its owners on the edge of a cliff in Dumfriesshire. It is in the latest issue of Good Housekeeping magazine – do buy it to find out more…






It is for sale actually with Strutt and Parker…have a peek and think about it…when I spoke to Carole earlier this evening she was working away on her laptop, with a red squirrel looking in on her and that sea view in front of her. The house wants for nothing, it is regularly used for fashion shoots and film locations. Here it is used as a location for Marble

Carole and her partner are adventurers though and he loves to sail, so New Zealand is beckoning…

A new home…

For me, the number one priority when moving in to a new home is the flooring…you need to get it right before you put any furniture down really! Ooh, hang on, are you not meant to decorate before you do the floors? So you don’t damage your lovely floors while you’re decorating??

Ouch, that’s when renovating a house gets quite boring – you sort of have to do everything properly, and in the right order, before you can actually start having fun (unless of course you enjoy stripping and sanding walls and floors..!) For me though, the fun part is what you put on the walls…


This beautiful apartment in Glasgow was designed by Catherine Henderson. The art collection makes it really special and personal for the owner.

In my job I get to see a lot of lovely homes – people have often worked tirelessly – stripping wallpaper, sanding floors, knocking walls down even, until, finally, they find themselves in a lovely, but rather bare space. I sometimes suspect that they have worked sooo hard sanding and filling those walls, that in the end, they can’t actually bear to put anything on them!


However, the fact is, art works make a house a home, I have written recently about the pleasure of displaying family photographs creatively, a subject I feel passionate about, but there is a bit of an art to displaying photographs well and not everyone has that skill. However, we can all buy art work. I think this is a habit we should acquire as young as possible. Look out for work that is a bit different and really reflects your taste and feelings.


A point when people often move is retirement – you are no longer beholden to a commute, you may wish to move nearer to your children, or other family members and friends. Imagine the joy of being able to hang, in your new home, a lifetime’s collection of art work, recalling memories and experiences from your twenties onwards. You might have bought paintings or prints on holiday, for special birthdays or anniversaries…

I collect images of paintings that I love on a Pinterest board. It really helps me work out what I like and don’t like…giving me the confidence to buy original artwork occasionally. You might want to do the same. These are two of my favourites:

Eleanor Carlingford

‘On the Ridges of the Wide-Lying sea’
Oil on canvas, Eleanor Carlingford

Carolyn Bailey

Mixed Media, Caroline Bailey

Anyone buying a McCarthy & Stone property will not have the painful process of stripping and sanding walls, these light, spacious properties are in move-in condition…All you will need to do is place your furniture, a few favourite family photographs and some well chosen artwork – it might be a lifetime’s collection, or you might be starting afresh completely and be able to splash out on some new and really different pieces. It is worth having a look at what is available on Surface View, a great way of making a statement – a marvellous array of art work and images can be printed on to canvas, window blinds, tiles, table tops…to amazing effect!


Ceramic tile frieze from the album entitled ‘Japanese Flowers vol.2′ by Ogawa Kazuma, Japan, late 19th century.

The Big Reveal…

Can’t keep putting it off…we have actually taken some pics of our garden building…





Quite an effort – first of all deciding to build it, then building it…taking photographs of it just about finished us off, I am not sure which bit was the most difficult??

Probably the deciding bit, if I am honest – that went on for years.

I have to say the building bit was a joy – loved having our builders – Robert Heinsar and all the boys – didn’t want them to leave actually! And thrilled with the results…beautifully designed by Rick McQueenie, REM Associates, Architectural Consultant, he was our neighbour at the time and kept us all sane (just!)





Farrow & Ball supplied the beautiful paint for the doors and windows, to match in with our house…the French Gray very effectively softens the modernist look we have gone for.

The full story has just been published in the Toun Cryer p.110, the full account is quite frank. I slightly wish I had been more, err, guarded about how tricky we found it all, I just don’t think Doug and I are very dynamic, but I should also say that it is absolutely true about what a success the whole project was in the end, we are both absolutely delighted.