Nearly December

I am definitely getting in the mood for Christmas as I have just spent the afternoon working on the village Panto scenery – my happy place if I am honest.

I used to take charge of the whole thing: I started when my son was a scout and I had all the scouts painting away, but I am pleasantly relieved to say I have handed over the reins to another mum now my son has grown up and left home and I can just drop in, do a little bit of painting and go home!

I am very privileged at this time of year to be invited to lots of Christmas Craft Fairs where I find almost a years worth of inspiration and catch up with many of the people that Douglas has photographed and I have written about. The Country Living Fair in Glasgow this year was particularly lovely.
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Living room progress

Doing up our own home includes a number of challenges. Firstly our house is quite odd. It is just not ‘off the peg’ in any way. Neither a classic modernist design, nor a period beauty, it is a unique 1970’s house that we love, but feel was never given quite enough thought. The living room is very long and narrow. We solved this when we first moved in by placing a large room divider a third of the way down to create seperate living and dining areas.

This worked well, but I always felt the room divider was a bit too big and robbed the room of light. Doug built it for our previous home where it sat against a wall. It was designed as a storage unit and we persisted in using it as such so, inevitably, it was a bit cluttered. We never quite brought ourselves to remove the books and records and simply place beautiful objects on it, as we had not made it for that purpose.
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The Magic of Scaramanga

I just cannot get enough of this Fife based, vintage and interiors salvage company Scaramanga. They import beautifully distressed antiques, mainly from India. I was fascinated to hear that they have been the go-to supplier for props buyers around the world for ten years now and was delighted to hear of their latest starring role in the film Victoria and Abdul.

They provided 15 pieces to the film set: trunks and boxes, tins, bowls and leather journals.
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Going back to my roots

A little bit about me – I was born into quite straitened circumstances: my parents were a middle class, educated couple, who, somewhere along the line, had taken a vow of poverty: they met at a communist party meeting in Hampstead – cute I know. This weekend was a nostalgia trip for me because I went on an Abigail Ahern masterclass, in Islington, where I lived for the first three years of my life, in a prefab estate on Brecknock Road.

I stayed in a smart hotel in Bayswater, The Shaftesbury, where my parents later lived, in a beautiful council flat, until they very sadly died when I was 21. After a long train journey, listening to a guy behind me talking Hungarian for the last half of the journey (my Dad was Hungarian) I was predictable a heap by the time I arrived, I phoned my cousin, who has heroically carried on the London baton for us and with whom I normally stay, and who completely understood – thank you Gaby, you are so kind, and I calmed down!

Abigail’s workshop was nothing short of amazing, you are greeted by this beautiful overgrown fig tree in the front garden (yes, she plays with scale a lot.)

The small group walked round enraptured, as we were treated to a house tour.
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Colour and the importance of…

Following on from my recent post about meeting Sophie Robinson, the Queen of Colour, I wanted to write more about this ridiculously important subject. Sophie believes that painting a room white is actually an ‘interior design crime’.

I am not sure I can go along with this, much as I would be well qualified to, as the owner of an aubergine kitchen (above), a dark grey bedroom, a bronze TV room (below) and a plum dressing room.

Seriously though, it cannot be denied that all white homes are stunning. There is something completely magical about walking into a house where all the walls and floors are painted a perfect dazzling white. Especially when the owners do not have children, dogs, cats or, errr, visitors. What transforms these magical monochrome palaces into real, loveable homes is, of course, pops of colour.
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Improving your bathroom

Probably the most important room in the house. Bathrooms are where we get ready for the day. Where we revitalise and refresh, as well as relax and unwind, soaking away all the stresses of life. If you want to give your bathroom a spruce up, but you are on a budget, there is plenty you can do – here are a few simple tips for breathing new life into your bathroom space without it costing you thousands.

Say goodbye to the shower curtain
Never hygienic – get rid of that drab old curtain and swap it out for a clear glass shower screen instead. Not only will it do a better job of protecting your bathroom from water, but it will help to enhance the size and feel of the space. A pane of glass will make the room seem more continuous. Look out for beautiful but inexpensive selection at any DIY store.
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Sophie Robinson

Have had a fab couple of days hanging out at the Life & Style Show in Edinburgh’s George street, with fellow design enthusiasts/anoraks: textile designer, Mairi Helena and artist, Tessa MacGregor, soaking up fashion, beauty and interior goodies. The Highlight, apart from being filmed and interviewed at the end, which was very flattering, had to be broadcaster and all round interiors supremo, Sophie Robinson‘s talk on ‘Interior Design Crimes’

Sophie straight up admitted that she had been given the brilliant title, by the organisers, but boy did she rise to the subject.
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Curious Egg

We have all dreamt of doing this, setting up an online interiors store, sourcing gorgeous stuff from artisans that no one has ever heard of, to help our fellow stylo-philes make their homes that much more unique. But have we bothered? No we haven’t!

But here is a lady who has, meet Lorraine Aaron, of Curious Egg. Lorraine has worked as a sculptor, a painter and public artist as well as teaching contemporary arts practice and running an art consultancy business. She has settled in Perthshire now and with her husband, Roddy, and set up her online store as way to share ideas about interiors and art as well as her fabulous finds.

Her aim is to bring art and interiors together in a relaxed and imaginative way by offering a small, carefully curated range of beautiful pieces. And I know how hard she has worked to achieve this.

She has also, alongside setting up her business, been renovating her home. A work in progress, but looking interesting. Lorraine made a dramatic start to her home when she completed her dining room, inspired by the Islington based designer Abigail Ahern who led the trend for dark, moody, enveloping spaces.

I asked her a few questions:
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Nikki McWilliams

Famous as the creator of the Custard Cream cushion and more recently, cover star of the current Homestyle magazine, designer, Nikki McWilliams home is the epitome of youthful Scottish style: fun, bright and welcoming.

Full of striking vignettes, Nikki’s witty, kitsch collections are a joy.


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Interior Design Trends 2016

There is one trend for me this year – metal…

Copper wallpaper

Copper toned wallpaper in a luxurious show home in North Berwick…

Copper chimney breast

This is an original copper chimney breast in a beautifully restored 1960s villa…
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Adding colour to your home

I know, I know, I am obsessed… one minute I am suggesting you add colour to your garden, next minute, your home – it is summer! I see over and over again homes that stand out and it is often for the same reason: a bold use of mouth-watering colour:

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Just look at this bedroom! It really is some blue isn’t it…? Nothing to be scared of. A beauty by Edinburgh interior designer Claire Barlas.

An apple green ‘Snuggler’ chair?

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Or a mulberry’ sofa? This room is by Dundee designer, Lynne Duffus. Her website is a cornucopia of Lovely Things
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Show Home Love

Don’t you just love a show home? I certainly do, the experience of padding around a beautiful house or apartment, luxuriously appointed, softly furnished to the max…

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You might be house hunting, you might be looking for inspiration or you might just be having a nosey and nobody minds!

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You can imagine yourself living there – a fresh start – completely devoid of the overflowing detritus of your real life.
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Xmas 2015

It has just about been and gone now – for some reason, I was totally overwhelmed by xmas this year, I have not done anything terribly exciting: neither gone to an inordinate number of drinks parties or been on a fabulous trip abroad – I think just having a ‘normal xmas’ is just a bit too much for me I am afraid.

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We shot one of my favourite features ever this year, for Ideal Home magazine. The owner, Jennifer, runs the excellent home ware website, Urban Cuckoo, a gorgeous cornucopia of interiors goodies.
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