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In praise of pink

27 Jan

So here we are in 2015!

And in case you were wondering, Pantone – the connoisseurs of all things ‘colour’ – have decreed that the shade we should all be craving this year is marsala; a full-bodied mix of rich red with a hint of earthy brown.

Marsala: Pantone Colour of the Year 2015 {}

Marsala: Pantone Colour of the Year 2015 {}


Of course, ‘vintage’ avoids such frivolous things as fashion. Like eternal style, its appeal is classic and unmistakable. I do think our relationship with it evolves though, and how we mix those elements in with modern environments is what keeps it fresh. Nobody wants their living room to look like a museum {do they…?} but a nod to the new keeps ‘the old’ more alive and relevant than ever.

My love affair with vintage embraces all its idiosyncrasies, and all its glorious imperfections. But above all else, I will always be swept away by that enduringly pretty, perfectly aged palette of pastel pinks, blues, greens and yellows.

This January, it’s been all about the pinks for me. And I’d like to think the fashionable people at Pantone would approve of how some old classics have transitioned seamlessly into the modern world and become bang on trend. Here’s a look at some of my pink discoveries, currently for sale – or just sold – at The Packhouse



The art of food photography {and why a good plate matters}

21 Oct

I spend quite a lot of my professional life with people whose job it is to make food look fabulous on a plate. The ones who photograph it, the ones who cook and carefully arrange it, and the ones who make the sets look pretty. They all work together to compose incredible images.

I could never have imagined how much thought and consideration goes into each shot. Ever stopped to admire that pretty little salt cellar, or that casually folded napkin? These are the details that set the scene, and allow the food to shine. {Read about the role of a prop stylist here}.

There is no doubt that a well-chosen ‘prop’ can make the difference between a so-so and sensational shot. And it’s no coincidence that most of the time, you’ll find the piece that brings that understated beauty is vintage. It’s why I can’t resist a distinguished, decorated platter, or walk past a beaten-up box of old cutlery. While I may not be lining them up for a starring role in a photo shoot, I still think you can bring that beauty into your home, and make your own meals look that bit more marvellous.

Guaranteed to make your food look gorgeous every time, blue platters are big news in the styling world at the moment. Here’s a selection of plates and platters I’ve recently put into The Packhouse.

The blue and white trend has even made it onto the catwalk…

A Julien Macdonald design for this year's fashion week

A Julien Macdonald design for this year’s fashion week

For me, when given the choice between a modern, mass-produced item and one with the charm of true history, I know which I’d want in my life every time. Take these teapots as an example. {What would you do…?}

Brand new or bags of vintage charm? You decide.

Brand new or bags of vintage charm? You decide.

And finally, as with all my pieces on sale at The Packhouse, I only ever buy what I truly love. My ‘blues’ will soon be replaced with a rather gorgeous and sparkly Christmas theme, but for now here are some shots of how the collection has come together and evolved over the past few weeks…

And we’re… in!

7 Oct

With house moving done and dusted {and let’s not even talk about what a stress that was}, the renovations have begun. Two weeks in and our new little house is just about beginning to feel like it could be home.

I’ve already got some pretty strong opinions about what will stay and what has to go {the turquoise bathroom is teetering at the dizzy heights of my hit list}. And I’m gradually beginning to picture where we’ll end up after a whole lot of plaster and paint and painstaking work.

I suppose it takes a while in any new place to figure out how to make it your own. Like a proprietorial cat, I’ve been stalking around each room wafting scented candles to encourage a little trace of familiarity. But, creating a home that encapsulates our dreams, hopes and vision {and houses my increasing collection of vintage finds and face-lifted furniture} is still some way off.

So, in the spirit of first impressions, and because we’ve got to start somewhere, here’s the list of what we love and {the edited pick of} what we long to change…

What we love:

  • The hardwood, herringbone parquet floor – immaculate. Well, until we came along and trashed it… But, the plan is to bring it back to some kind of glory when all the work is done.

  • The calming aspect from every room of greenery, trees and uninterrupted views of nature. The peace and quiet is bliss.

What we can’t wait to lose:

  • The hessian on the walls. Who knew you could have walls that needed vacuuming?! More to the point, why would you?

  • The turquoise bathroom suite. I know I have more than a passing passion for vintage, but this does not extend to sanitaryware.

For now I’m off to ponder more paint charts. And, for the record, I’ve studied light, and saturation and every other technical reason for distortion of colours, but I still don’t understand… Why don’t the colours in your tester pots EVER resemble the colours you see on your wall? Forget 50 Shades of Grey, I’d settle for just one perfect neutral I can live with.

The Simple Things

2 Aug

Magazines are an occasional pleasure rather than a daily occupation for me now that I don’t have a well-stocked office pile to plough through. I still enjoy the odd editorial fix though, and today my monthly copy of Mollie Makes plopped through the letterbox. It’s a cute mix of crafts and clever, creative people, which never fails to give me some source of inspiration and new ideas.

Reckon I’ll be subscribing to their new title, The Simple Things, due to be launched in September too.

Like all the best magazines, it presents style in a stylish way, but it also has a heart. The content is inclusive, friendly, and focuses on the true, uncomplicated pleasures of life {for those of us not obsessed with shoes, or shopping, or celebrities}. I can see shades of Anthology, Real Simple, Donna Hay and Blueprint {the Martha Stewart version} in its sample pages, and that can only be a good thing. Good luck to all the team, I can’t wait to see the first issue. Click the link below for a sneak preview…

THE SIMPLE THINGS sample issue

Bunnies and buttons

30 Jul

Proud to say we did our bit for Team GB down on the leafy, rural roads of Surrey this weekend. Great atmosphere, scorching weather and celebratory mood – even though it was just a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ glimpse of the Olympic cycling entourage.

My own Olympian challenge has been negotiating the London traffic up to Acton for a two week Christmas photo shoot. Almost finished, and I can’t say I’ll be sorry not to see another turkey until December.

At home I’ve been savouring the scarce few moments I’ve been able to spend with the little one. Story time is so precious, and we found an adorable book at the library on our last visit. The sweet illustrations come from children’s book Bunny Bunny Catkin by Cathy MacLennan {}. Love the contrast of the brown kraft paper with the colourful palettes of the acrylic painted characters.

Bunny Bunny Catkin by Cathy MacLennan {Boxer Books}

Bunny Bunny Catkin by Cathy MacLennan {Boxer Books}

Bunny Bunny Catkin by Cathy MacLennan {Boxer Books}

Bunny Bunny Catkin by Cathy MacLennan {Boxer Books}

I’ve also been working on a few of my own little creations, and one in particular for a friend’s spare room. When she came to me, we covered the usual ground in our discussions – birds, butterflies etc, and finally settled on another ‘B’ – buttons. This is just a roughed-out prototype, but with some downtime coming up, it’s on my list to do. Check back soon when I should have it all stitched up.

‘Buttons’ picture –

The formula for style magic

30 Jun

House moving is hard work isn’t it. Drainage reports, fixtures and fittings lists, surveys, stamp duty and solicitors letters. Bring on the fun bit – that’s what I’m waiting for! We’re allowing ourselves one small indulgence amongst all the drudgery – a trawl through my towering stack of Livingetc magazines. Almost every spare minute {of which there are few, to be fair} has been spent leafing through pages of awe-inspiring living spaces.

Livingetc Editor, Suzanne Imre introduces the July 2012 issue by confessing the decorating and design ideas which have earned a permanent place in her ideas scrapbook. For her, it’s Farrow & Ball’s Arsenic green paint, Eero Aarnio’s Bubble chair, plush velvet sofas, chevron-style parquet and vintage blue-and-white china. The point she makes is that gathered together they probably seem like a mismatched collection of objects, but they all have a special association for her. Suzanne says, ‘It’s all about individuality – after all, it’s easy to follow the trends of the day, but it’s the pieces with a personal history that make a space unique.’

That’s what I’m aiming for when we finally move into our new home. I’ve said before that for me, old meets new is my kind of style magic. Achieving the balance between showcasing my newborn love of vintage {without creating a museum piece}, and a spacious, contemporary sense of lightness {without ending up with something sterile and showhome-y} is my goal.

A small selection of tonight’s dreams that will make it into the scrapbook…


Copyright livingetc. Photography Paul Massey.


Copyright livingetc. Photography Paul Massey.


Copyright livingetc. Photography Paul Massey.


Copyright livingtec. Photography Mel Yates.


Copyright livingetc. Photography Paul Massey.

Storage solutions

23 Mar

I like to indulge my borderline obsessive tidying tendencies every now and again. When you live in a small house it’s a necessity. Most importantly I’ve set my mind to figuring out how I’m ever going to fit a life’s worth of ‘stuff’ into my compact {miniscule} home office area.

Forget Carrie Bradshaw’s walk-in closet  – there’s a dream for another day – it’s practical, workable storage that’s needed. Here are a few ideas that have caught my eye.

Studio storage copyright Rebecca Sower

Buttons, tags, brushes, braids. I’m in heaven!

Practical storage in beautiful seagrass, glass and shades of neutral

Oh, for an old-fashioned plan chest like this

joel henriques art studio photograph copyright

Artist and designer Joel Henriques’ art studio. The brush holder and shelves are brilliantly handmade.

photograph copyright

Love the ‘work in progress’ desk. Transforms something simple into something quite special. Would need about a million more shelves though!

Old suitcases and briefcases  are such a good idea for old photos and keepsakes. Nice touch with the personalised swing tags too

Baby love

13 Mar

In a moment of aimless internet browsing today I stumbled back across a favourite blog. It’s not new, in fact you’ve most probably seen it before, but Mila’s Daydreams {} is such a genuinely original concept, which manages to be cute without being toe-curlingly corny. It’s no wonder it became an overnight online sensation.

Inspired by the positions her two-week old baby Mila slept in while she napped, Adele Enerson decided to photograph them – and create a fantasy daydream around her.  The latest update to the blog sees readers sending in their own sleeping baby scenes {I adore Kirsi Vuomajoki’s baby ice skating – see below}.

Kirsi Vuomajoki's sleeping baby picture from Copyright Adele Enerson

I’m in awe of the creativity naturally, but also by the energy Adele must have. Most mums I know are either flat out with a cuppa, avoiding the housework, or scaling the heights of a lengthy list of chores as soon as the baby sleeps.

The blog is now a book – When my Baby Dreams by Adele Enerson {Harper Collins, Balzer + Bray}. Buy it from amazon here.

Scandinavian chic

24 Feb

You know by now that I love coming across exceptional things in unexpected places. But I also get a real thrill from rediscovering my own forgotten possessions – especially those with a special place in my past. Last weekend I was rooting around in the attic and unearthed one of my favourite childhood books at the bottom of a box of unremarkable chick lit.

Mrs Pepperpot in the Magic Wood by Alf Proysen

My copy of Mrs Pepperpot in the Magic Wood, by Alf Proysen brought back magical memories of reading way after lights out. You only have to see the dog-eared pages to guess how many times I scoured it from cover to cover.

Mrs Pepperpot in the Magic Wood by Alf Proysen

Set in Norway, the adventures of this eccentric, shrinking old lady are totally spellbinding. And who knew that Mrs Pepperpot would be such a trailblazer for Scandinavian chic all these years later…

Folk tales and fairy stories from her homeland are the inspiration for Swedish illustrator Sandra Isaksson’s ISAK brand. {Visit the website at}. I’ve already bought the alphabet and number posters for my little girl’s room, and you can bet she’ll be treated to Mrs Pepperpot and plenty more of my much-loved childhood books soon too.

ISAK numbers poster -

ISAK alphabet poster -

Swedish blogger living in Berlin, Sandra Juto, is something of an online phenomenon for undercover crafters. Read all about her stylish life, see her inspiring pictures and discover crocheted ‘wrist worms'{!} at

And finally, no trip to the cold Nordic climates is complete without a rare sighting of the Moomins! has such a cute collection of gifts featuring these strangely loveable psychedelic trolls. Anyone from my generation is bound to be transported right back to warm buttered toast and comforting TV at teatime with just the slightest glimpse.


In the mood

2 Feb

I’m helping some friends design a few pieces of artwork for their newly revamped, freshly painted home at the moment. It reminded me how powerful – and how useful – a mood board can be in anchoring a creative conversation. ‘S’ loved all things girly, gorgeous and decorative, ‘J’ was looking for something bolder – he didn’t mind birds and butterflies in moderation, but didn’t want a house full of ‘fluff’!

They realised that when making the nuts and bolts decisions of doing up a house – door handles, floor tiles, light fittings – they were on safe territory, and largely in agreement. But when it came to giving the house some personality and injecting the space with a more revealing sense of taste they hit a blank wall. Literally.

In those instances I would always recommend a mood board. I’ve used them forever in a work environment; creatively they’re invaluable for allowing a team of people to visualise a concept. At home they are a great way of expressing – discovering, even – what kind of themes float your aesthetic boat and coming up with a look you will love to live with.

I’m a fan of making a mood board the good old fashioned way – cutting out pictures from magazines, ripping up paint charts, pinning pieces of fabric – but I’ve also just started creating virtual moodboards with the help of pinterest. It’s fun playing around with images that can help you design a room, a new look, a wedding, a whole lifestyle in fact. These images below are a few of my current favourites. Hope you like them too. Tine K home collection pure SS2012 caryambler/she-s-crafty/