Monday 10 December 2012

Green and white Christmas stairs

I bookmarked the following picture on tumblr a while ago (sadly the tumblr that posted the original seems to have been deleted, so don't really have a link to the original image), as I loved the use of the empty white frames up the staircase - such a great and simple idea that could probably be done quite cheaply:

The fact that it was a Christmas-inspired picture was actually secondary at the time. However, I do love a bit of garland-and-wreathery at this time of year, so here are a couple more that caught my eye and keep the simple green and white theme:


house to home

Friday 7 December 2012

The World's Easiest Wreath, Or; Why I'm Not A Craft Blogger

Let me state up front that I've always been a bit rubbish at anything vaguely crafty. To be honest, I'm probably still slightly traumatised by my junior school teacher Mrs Woodcock, who I overheard one day showing some of my "work" to our headteacher. "She tries", went the conversation, "but it's not really her strong point".

Christmas, however, brings out the trier in me, for whatever reason. Combine this with my love of a simple wreath, and you have the only crafty thing I regularly attempt. I've bought wreaths in the past, but to be honest have always worried a little bit about them getting stolen (we live on a busy road that tends to get its fair share of Christmas revellers wandering back from the pub), so cheap and cheerful is a must.

You will need:

- A handy source of green foliage (in our case a massive holly tree that sits behind our house. It has the advantage of probably being the only holly tree that does not have prickly leaves, which is ideal! We normally have masses of red berries, but for some reason this year they all seem to have dropped off at the beginning of December, which is a real shame as the wreath won't be quite as colourful as normal).

- A ring and some ribbon. This ring is from a wreath I bought a few years ago, and have kept ever since:

Then simply:

1) Select your twigs
2) Arrange them around your frame
3) Wrap your ribbon around the whole thing
4) Adjust any stray twigs

Et voila. The world's easiest wreath, with that trendy thrown-together, home-made look!

Of course, if it turns out really rubbish, you can still cheat and buy one. I keep this one from John Lewis in reserve ;-)

If you're a wreath freak like me, then also check out this video on the Etsy blog that has got some absolutely amazing wreaths made from a wide variety of materials.

Monday 3 December 2012

It's Beginning to look a lot like Christmas, 1

The start of December always feels like the right time to start getting a little bit festive, although I like to take things slow and steady, and build up to the fully decorated house as we get closer to Christmas. Our family tradition for a long time used to be that we didn't put up our tree and decorate it until Christmas eve (a Finnish tradition, from my mother's side). However, I confess that I can't normally wait quite that long these days. Patience has never really been a virtue, and to get a good tree (we like to get a real one), you have to buy relatively early, which means it sits outside tempting me until I give in or the children nag me into submission. We've booked in our tree shopping expedition for next weekend, so we'll see how long I last until I crack this year!

In the meantime, the first thing I love to do is get a few festive lights up, and these gingham and jingle bell fairy lights are a new purchase from lights4fun (no, this post isn't in any way sponsored, but I have got all my Christmas lights from them the past couple of years and they are fab):

jingle bells

They currently have pride of place on my daughters' bunk beds, where they are looking extremely pretty! I'm actually quite jealous...

Wednesday 14 November 2012


I've never really been much of a fan of the Chesterfield sofa. I suppose I've always associated it with stuffy dark gentlemens' smoking rooms, very heavy, very old-fashioned. Yes, the leather is wipe-clean, but think of all those buttons that can collect dirt and fluff!


But you know what? Slowly, but surely I think I'm warming to them, whether it's a velvet fabric version:

...or whether it's a quirky modern twist on the traditional leather...:

...or whether it's just a slightly more battered version of an original...


Done properly, I'm starting to think they're actually quite perfect for my perfect mixture of old and new. Are you a Chesterfield fan?

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Cyprus verdict....

(...somewhat belated, for which I must apologise)

Well, the good news is that the apartment is still there and in one piece...and even better it's actually very lovely. Look at these views!:

The bad news is that there is still a lot to be done before it's fully operational, as it were. Still, we at least managed to find some beds:

...and while we don't have a hob to cook on, at least there is somewhere to put our pans when we do...

...and finally at least we have a colour scheme to work from!

Tuesday 16 October 2012

...and we're off!

Tomorrow we finally wing our way over to Cyprus to go and see the apartment for the first time. Unfortunately we probably won't have a chance to do much as it is only for a few days, but at least I'll be able to post a few more pics of the exterior etc.

Until then - σας δούμε σύντομα...!
via Visit Cyprus

Wednesday 3 October 2012

The Retro Decorator - Osborne and Little, Then and now

I've not done a Retro Decorator post for a long while, so I've been flicking through my collection of old magazines (mainly to see if I can find a "Greek style" retro decorator theme - still looking for that one though), and I thought it might be time I did another then and now post.

Founded in the Swinging 60s, Osborne and Little started off with hand-printed wallpaper. Today they are known for a wide variety of fabrics and wallpapers. In the 80s, you could have found an ad for them that looked like this:

Osborne & Little ad, House & Garden, February 1989
...whereas their latest print ad looks like this:

Osborne & Little ad, LivingEtc, October 2012
Despite the 20-odd years that separate them, the feel and principles are still similar, mainly in that it is not immediately obvious what the ad is for, in both instances. They also have quite a heritage appeal (interesting considering their relatively short history). Where other companies might feature samples or interiors decked out in their patterns, Osborne and Little have chosen to use them to slightly less obvious effect.

Would you have guessed what they were for?

Monday 1 October 2012

Favourite Upcycled Pieces

I was lucky enough to be able to spend some time wandering round the lovely shops of Bath at the weekend. It's been a while since I last shopped there, and I was struck by the number of shops that seem to have sprung up selling homewares and knick-knacks. After a while though, I think even I managed to get overloaded by the distressed mirrors and the "home is where the heart is" signs. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this style if it works for you, but I couldn't help thinking it was all looking a little mass-produced and unoriginal. Surely the original thought behind shabby chic is a certain handmade, thrifty quality, that I felt was lacking.

As an antidote, therefore, I've been looking up what, for want of a better term, I can only call "real" shabby chic - something a bit original, a bit upcycled, and, most importantly, made in the UK. I therefore thought it time to share a couple of examples from some smaller companies I've come across:

Firstly, a company based on a small farm in South West Scotland called Funny Old Furniture. As well as painting and restoring old pieces, they also incoporate fun items of decoupage in some of their pieces, as well as doing original decoupage artworks. My favourite item of theirs currently is this vintage oak decoupage patchwork dresser:

via Funny Old Furniture
If bright colours and decoupage are your thing, then also be sure to check out Viva Designs, who aim to cover just about anything in bright fabrics. This retro telephone would certainly make talking on it a talking point!

Viva Designs

Finally, if all that colour is a bit much for you, and you prefer a calmer approach, you could do worse than check out the new site from my old (*old in the sense of I've been following her for a long time in Twitter years, I hasten to add!) Twitter friend Karen, called The White Approach. I absolutely adore the glimpses into her gorgeous home on her blog, and marvel at how she manages an all-white home with four men in her life! The piece that caught my eye on her site is this old scroll chair that has been given a new lease of life with some snow white chalk paint:

via The White Approach

It's certainly inspired me to think about how I could add a bit of chic to some of the pieces I have in my home!  How about you?

Tuesday 25 September 2012

I've Got A New Look!

I'm hoping you can't have failed to notice that things are looking a little different around here...

Yes, the fantasy decorator has finally had its own little makeover, courtesy of the lovely Liz at Violet Posy.

I think it looks a little more grown-up and stylish, and I hope you agree! I still have a bit of tidying up to do on some of the pages, so expect a few tweaks here and there, but hopefully nothing major. You'll see the design following through to my Twitter, Facebook page, Tumblr and Google Plus pages too, so hopefully I should now look similar across the web.

I hope you love it as much as I do!

Thursday 20 September 2012

Cypriot Style = Greek Style?

In my ongoing pursuit to find Cypriot style, I've come to the somewhat embarrassing conclusion that what I suspected all along may be true; namely that for my purposes at least, I'm going to be assuming that Cypriot style equals Greek style. And hell, Greek style equals Meditarranean style, which equals Seaside Style. So there.

Which is how I came to buy these books:

Again, however, things aren't that simple when you dig a bit deeper. What do you think of when you think Greek style? Even October's LivingEtc magazine is going down the classical route for bathrooms. A few statues, a Greek flag, job done - right?

It's all Greek to me

The problem, however, is that this look is very tricky to pull off without it looking like a cheap pastiche. Plus it often seems to involve a lot of gold, which we've previously established is not a favourite of mine. No, the Greek style I'm thinking of is inspire by the blue and white of the islands:


Yes, it's probably just as much of a cliché as the urns, but it's a far simpler, fresher and modern feel - hopefully even I can't screw it up....

Monday 10 September 2012

Cypriot Style?

One of the things about owning an apartment in a popular holiday destination is that there are of course already a lot of similar apartments out there to plunder for inspiration and ideas.

The thing that struck me, however, was that a lot of similar apartments, while tastefully furnished, seemed a little soulless. Of course, an apartment that is merely being rented out for other people has to be relatively neutral, but I don't see why that means it can't have a bit of personality! One thing I noticed was that a lot of the apartments I saw could have been anywhere - there was nothing to tell you whether it was Paphos, Paris or Peterborough...

So one thing I decided fairly early on is that it should at least be obvious where people were holidaying. Cue a google search for "Cypriot style"...only it turns out that mainly brings up recipes involving yogurt... 

Anyway, one thing that Cyprus is known to do pretty well is luxury hotels with spa. Perhaps I should use that as my inspiration? I therefore trawled the photo galleries...

Almyra hotel, Cyprus

Anassa hotel, Cyprus

Coral Beach hotel

Very classy, and very aspirational, I'm sure you'll agree...however there is still something "international" about all of these schemes, and for me personally I'm missing the "this is Cyprus" factor.

It was back to the drawing board...

Thursday 6 September 2012

No longer just fantasy decorating...

While things in our own house move along at the usual snail-like pace (focusing on external maintenance at the moment, tedious, but got to be done), I do have another little project that is looming into view.

I will gloss over the detail of how we aquired it (as, to be honest, it's a painful story and it wasn't necessarily through choice!), but we are in fact owners of a holiday apartment in a small place called Tala, near Paphos in Cyprus. For various reasons, it has stood empty since being completed around 18 months ago, but finally we are in a position to start to think about getting it kitted out and hopefully getting some use out of it.

At the moment it is just an empty shell:

Kitchen cabinets

Open Plan Kitchen/Diner/Living Room

Living through to bedrooms

en-suite bathroom

...although kitchen cabinets and two bathrooms are "set".

We are off to visit the place in a few weeks, although there probably won't be time to do much, we will at least try and work out what will need doing in future (shopping!!).

In the next few posts I will share a few ideas and inspirations for the general feel I would like to create, as well as ideas for each of the different rooms. As eventually we might possibly consider renting out the apartment, I'd love to hear what other people think, so am always up for ideas and creative feedback!

Friday 20 July 2012

What Time Is It?

With our younger daughter now at school, and the older one working on digital vs analogue time, we realised it was about time we got a decent analogue clock in our house - the only ones we had that weren't digital were watches!

Personally, I'd have loved to get something unusual like either a design classic:

"Watch Me" by Normann Copenhagen

or maybe something like this?
Target clock by John Lewis

but sadly they both never made the grade due to not actually having any numerals on them...Roman numberals would have been nice, and would also have provided another teaching element I suppose:

Achille Castiglioni for Alessi
...but ultimately we wanted something simpler. I love all the different designs that Newgate Clocks do, and I'm sure this one would have focused the children's minds on the time!:

Newgate Clocks

However, ultimately I'm not sure we really could have lived with the pester power, and in the end it came down to cheap, cheerful and functional at TK Maxx!

Pride of place in the dining room!

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Remember this...?

Was it really over 18 months ago that I posted this plea for help?

Well, it only goes to prove how slow I really am at making decisions or changes in my own home to say that I finally updated the chair that stares at me every day...

It had a new dress in some "Lumimarja" fabric by Marimekko, and I'm so pleased with it that it's been promoted to our bedroom. I'm still in two minds as to whether to try and spray paint it white, but my husband has put his foot down for the moment (his very good point was that paint would probably only chip and look messy after a while).

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Wall Envy

One of the things about never getting around to doing any proper decorating is that I often fall into the trap of buying little knick-knacks in the hope that new cushions/a throw/some candles will detract from the dirty handprints on the walls and the peeling paint.

You'd think I'd have learned my lesson by now, and that really I might be better off with a lick of paint, rather than spending money on pretty things that catch my eye...however, I saw these prints at Wall Envy Art via someone on Twitter recently and I just fell in love. It's a set of three vintage French dictionary pages with a print and handpainted watercolour illustration of the weather. As my husband is half French, and I studied French at university, it seemed like the perfect combination of a bit of fun heritage and the British obsession with the weather!

All I need to do now is find a place to do them justice. At the moment they are on the mantlepiece in the spare bedroom, but I fear all that does is highlight how badly the fireplace needs restoring...

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Ski Chalet Inspiration

We recently returned from a ski holiday with friends in a lovely chalet in Tignes. Now, I have to say from the outset that, while living in a ski chalet for a week is a great way to spend the time, I wouldn't normally class the rustic look that is so popular as one I would necessarily choose for my own home:

In the interests of fantasy decorating however, I am a great believer in always being able to find inspiration or ideas in different places, so below are a few things that I'm adding to my dream list.

- First off - the double basin. Oh, how I dream of a bathroom large enough to swing a cat in, let alone afford the luxury of his and hers washbasins! 

- Secondly, mood lighting. These little LEDs lit up a dark and quite tricky staircase - a lovely little extra touch:

- but finally....I have to say that really what I would love is a bedroom with its own balcony - preferably with a view like this:

Monday 16 January 2012

Forgive Me Blogger, I Have Sinned...

Any of you out there that haven't totally given up on my blog might be forgiven for wondering whether I have...The truth is, I've been unfaithful to the old Blogger platform, for a few months ago I discovered a new love.

That love is tumblr - for those of you not familiar with tumblr, it's a blogging platform that in a lot of ways bears a lot of similarity to posterous in that it is used mainly for images. At the risk of making this an advert for tumblr, its main beauty, as far as I can see, is that you can easily "re-blog" other people's images to make your own amalgamation. So, for those of you who are interested, I'm over at, reposting stuff that catches my eye for one reason or another.

The good news is that I've found some cracking Retro Decorator posts that I also want to share on here, so look out for those shortly!

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