Mad About The House

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As a keen follower of Kate Watson-Smyth ‘s blog Mad About The House, I have been looking forward to her book with eager anticipation. The book is written in much the same way as her blog: clear informative and witty, honest with a small amount of self-deprecation. As she freely admits she is not an interior designer and has never hired one. However she is a journalist who has been writing about interiors for the last twenty years, and who in that time has interviewed some of the best brains in the business.

If you are expecting a big colourful coffee table book, then you will be disappointed. There are a few lovely sketches and a few photographs including one of Kate’s own home taken by Paul Craig. What you do get is really good advice and help.

Since starting her blog in 2012 she has become the number one interiors blog and has won many awards for it.  Kate enjoys finding her own style, and in this book she gives you ways in which to find your style.

“Every room should have something that draws you in. An amazing piece of furniture, a funky light, a family heirloom.” As she says all homes have common elements whether it be a one bed flat or a ten bedroomed villa. In this book she guides on how to make your home tell your story.

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Much needed advice is given on how to use Pintrest, so that it is an effective tool when planning an interior space. The chapter on the various colours, their meanings and how to use them in interiors, and what goes with what is extremely useful. For those struggling with colour her idea of looking in your wardrobe to see the colour palette you love, is inspired. In the same way that outfits are put together with a main colour and then accessories in different colours, so a room is put together.

“Pick a colour-perhaps a neutral and put it on the largest area of your walls. That’s your clothes or main thing you are wearing. Choose a second colour for the largest piece of furniture say the sofa. This is your top or jacket. Add some pattern in the form of cushions: your earrings or necklace. The accessories- rugs, armchairs-are the final colour: your shoes and bag. The idea is basically 60 per cent one colour, 30 percent another and 10 percent the finishing touches.”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA          Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Whatever your style, this book will guide you through everything you need to know to decorate your home with confidence and individuality. Kate reveals the rules of rug layout, explains how to buy a sofa, and shows how to get the lighting right in every room.

A must-have book for anyone who wants make their house a home.

 

Published by Pavillion Books £20

 

Blog: madabouthehouse.com

Instagram:@mad_about_the_house

#MadAboutTheHouse

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Studio – Creative Spaces for Creative People

 

by Sally Coulthard

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If you are a designer, or just love creative people and enjoy seeing how and where they work, then this is must have book.

It is full of inspiration. The author, Sally Coulthard, lives on a farm where she rents out barns to artists. As she says ‘it’s a scruffy space, but the people who work there have transformed the building into something truly special. Not only have the artists organized their studios into useful spaces, they’ve also created rooms that express who they are and inform the work they produce. Each space reflects the personality of the person who works there –studios are like fingerprints, totally unique.’

The first part of the book has inspirational pictures and descriptions of different kinds of studio’s. Included are brights, mono, natural, industrial and collected.AlunCallenderPhoto_SarahCampbell_31_0125.jpg

The second part of the book is divided into different kinds of artists and designers and includes crafters, fashion and textile designers. Fine art, graphics and illustrators studios are featured as are the work shops of bloggers writers and photographers and last but not least are workshops and up-cyclers. nathalie leté 20(1)

Different kinds of buildings are as unique as the artists and designers themselves. One artist works in a shepherds hut another in a barn others in industrial warehouses and lofts. Some work together others by themselves.AlunCallenderPhoto_SarahCampbell_02_0045.jpg

The final section of the book deals with practicalities of how to plan your studio, getting organized, desks, lighting and storage are all explored. As are work tops and drying spaces. If you want to set up your own studio you need look no further than here. The book is truly international showcasing designers and artists from many different countries.CathDerksema_FINAL_HIRES-7.jpg

A joy to read and a very useful handbook.

Published by Jacqui Small at £25

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The Little Book of Hygge

The Danish way to Live Well

By Meik Wiking from the Happiness Research Institute Copenhagen

Available on Amazon or directly from Penguin Books

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The word on everyone’s lips last year was  ‘Hygge’, despite most English people being unable to pronounce it correctly. Luckily when this book arrived on my desk I had a Norwegian staying with me so we had a few lessons in how to make the guttural sound at the end of the word. As the whole of the UK is currently covered in snow I felt this has to be the correct time to publish this review.

The word Hygge comes from an old Viking language and was used to describe comfort and relaxation after coming in from a day out in the cold, but it is oh so much more than just that. Hygge is about atmosphere and experience rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love and a feeling of safety and warmth, being with friends and letting your guard down.

The little book of Hygge breaks down some of the elements that go to make Hygge. This includes hot drinks, fires, slow food, board games, hand made crafts, sweets and cakes, holiday and music. Candles are important, the Danes burn more candles than any other nation in Europe and almost twice as much as Austria who come second. Mind you if you live so far North of the equator, a way of creating light is important.

As with all the Scandinavian countries, the Danes are concerned with good design, particularly with the correct lights and lighting. “Danes select lamps carefully and place them strategically to create soothing pools of light.”

The rule of thumb is the lower the temperature the lower light, making more Hygge.

Reading this book what struck me was that Hygge is the art of creating the kind of childhood some of us were lucky enough to grow up with, before the day of mobile phones, daytime television and the internet. It is a more humble simple and comforting way of living. Buy the Little Book of Hygge and learn how to live well as the Danes do. Enjoy the snow  keep warm and enjoy those Hygge moments.

Flowerbomb! By Hannah Read-Baldrey

25 beautiful craft projects to blow your blossoms by Hannah Read-Baldrey

9781911216728

If flowers and crafting are your passions then this is your  book, flower power for the twenty first century.

Hannah Read-Baldrey, who incidentally models her own makes throughout, is very stylish and her creations  are equally stylish.

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Included  are projects for both the home and  to wear. There are 25 different makes  covering a variety of crafts. Many are easy to do and accessible with sewing, sticking, paper crafts and crotchet. There are unusual items such as a resin covered floral phone case and dried flower resin panes. Making floral bath bombs and sugar craft flowers and white rose marshmallows are also included.
I adore the fake tattoo and the many fashion projects such as the three dimensional fimo Poppies that are made to enhance a pair of plain black sunglasses.
Many of the projects are the adornment of existing garments such as The Killer Heels,  a pair of mules decorated with 3D leatherette Hellebores.

A black bomber jacket is up cycled with fabulous sequin flowers. My most favourite item in the book is The Frida Flower Crown made from velvet lined with satin. I shall be making myself one as soon as I have finished this review.Flower Bomb19016

Lovely photographs by Tiffany Mumford.

Hannah Read- Baldrey runs a successful blog called CoutureCraft.co.uk

Published by Pavillion  at £14.99

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Fresh Clean Home by Wendy Graham

Fresh Clean Home 9781911595106This is an unusual book for me to review as it is not about crafts, although if you follow the very easy recipes to create your own cleaning products you will be crafting them. I must admit to not being too keen on the hippy dippy yoghurt knitter vibe that creating your own cleaning products might suggest. However Fresh Clean Home is  very far from that and is full of recipes for natural cleaning products from

Wendy Graham who runs the green living blog ‘Moral Fibres’. I love that name, it sums up the blog in two words.

This book shows you how to make your home smell as fresh as a daisy with these eco-friendly, money-saving, germ-busting recipes.

Using a base of essential oils and natural ingredients, these cleaning products are easy to make, are kinder to your skin and to the environment, while being as effective as any shop-bought solution.

The recipes use simple, inexpensive ingredients that are widely available such as bicarbonate of soda, vinegar, salt and citrus fruit, and will leave your home sparkling clean. You can even customize the fragrances to make your home smell crisp, time and time again.

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Fresh Clean Home guides the reader from the kitchen to laundry and the bathroom, and also includes a section of recipes for specific household cleaning products, such as window and mirror cleaner, carpet and upholstery spot cleaner and sticky stuff remover.

Clean every nook and cranny, with surface cleaners and bathroom shiners, laundry powder and fabric conditioner, kettle descaler and more, for a beautiful, fresh clean home.

Obviously I had to do some testing, so first of all I tried the ‘Lemon Grove microwave cleaner’ It is very easy to make and did the job well.FRESH HOME SHOT 13 17

I then went on to try out her method for getting ink stains out of garments. I have a much loved pair of cashmere finger-less mittens that were ink stained. Wendy  suggests putting ink stains in milk. I did just that and  the milk turned blue within twenty minutes and the stain came out. It felt like alchemy and I  am more than delighted with the result.

The third item I tried out was a necessity.  I was at a friend’s for dinner and whilst passing me a glass of wine she managed to  tip a lit candle on to  me, the result was wax on a new cashmere cardigan, tee shirt, vest and trousers. The method of wax removal I was already familiar with, but for anyone who doesn’t know, it is the way to get rid of candle wax. Place a piece of brown paper over the  area where the wax is and iron with a warm iron . The wax will melt on the garment and go through to the paper. You may have to do it a few times before it all disappears. When you have removed as much as you possibly can, wash the garment. At the end of all that everything is as good as new and no stains!

A book I highly recommend. Oh and I forgot to mention, lovely styling and photography throughout the book. Photographs by Rachel Whiting.

Wendy Graham graduated with an MSc in Environment Sustainability from the University of Edinburgh in 2005, but it wasn’t until she became a mum that she started her blog in 2013. Since then she has shown thousands of readers how easy, affordable and stylish it can be to love a greener life. Whilst interested in a wide range of environmental topics, green cleaning is a particular passion.

£12.99

Published by Pavilion 

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CREATIVE COLLAGE by Clare Youngs

30 projects to transform your collages into wall art, personalized stationery, home accessories

9781782494898

In Creative Collage, author Clare Youngs reveals the secrets of collaging, one of her favourite crafts.

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As she says in her introduction

“Great artists who made collage part of their lifetime’s work have always inspired me. Although the techniques have been used since the invention of paper in China around 200 B.C.E., the word “collage” was first used in connection with art by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso at the beginning of the 20th century, when the technique became an important part of the Modern Art movement.”

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In this book Clare teaches you about the kinds of paper you can use, such as maps, tickets, photographs, typography and magazine pages, and how to add texture, use layering and make use of geometric designs. Some of Clare’s amazing collages are included for inspiration, and she explains how she chose the materials and composition for each one.

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“We can stand back in awe at the work of great artists, but in fact collage is something that anyone can enjoy. It is inexpensive, you don’t need a lot of equipment, it frees your mind, and allows you to release creativity within you that you didn’t even know was there. Great things happen when you let go a bit—what’s not to love?

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Clare then presents a collection of projects that offer unique ways of displaying and using collages even making 3-D collages, such as a découpaged chest of drawers and a family photo wooden block house. She explains how to use collage on fabrics and ceramics as well as a lamp shade and place mats.Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 15.22.22

Along with helpful prompts to give you ideas for collages, this book provides all you need to get started with this personal, expressive craft.

Her other books include Folded Book Art, A Year in Crafts, Colour Yourself to Happiness, Book Art, Mobile Art, Wall Art, Make Your Own Woodland Creatures, Letter Art and Folk Art Needlecraft

Published by Cico BooksCREATIVE COLLAGE November 14th 2017 £12.99

I highly recommend this book and suggest you buy at least two copies, one to keep and one to give away as a present.

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Making Winter by Emma Mitchell

I recently finished reading Making Winter a creative guide for surviving the winter months by Emma Mitchell. I’m so pleased I did.

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What drew me to this book was, that I had attended a drop in workshop on paper flower making at Anthropologie, given by Emma Mitchell. I was very impressed by her organization skills, it is not easy running drop in workshops. How do you know how many to cater for? How do you divide up your time? She made it work and at the same time ensured it was great fun, and her enthusiasm was contagious. Everyone went home with something hand crafted and beautiful.

So when I heard she was writing a book I decided I had to read it.

First of all let me say the book is beautiful to look at and to hold. As well as writing it Emma has done her own photography and illustrations.

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The book is a real necessity for the cold dark winter months. I love the way Emma engages her readers.

From her introduction it is clear that she really knows the effect that SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) can have on us. She explains how as many as a third of adults in the UK are affected by the decrease in daylight hours and colour during winter. Her book came about from the discovery that crafts and creativity helped to lift the mood. Recently scientific research has supported her findings that yarncraft can lead to relaxation or meditation-like response similar to Yoga.

The book is filled with lots of different projects to engage in from preserving leaves, to crocheting, baking and making silver fossil pendants and even making your own firelighters. There are lots of foraged crafts, nothing is too expensive and the book finishes on a high note looking forward to spring.Silver Fossil Pendant.jpg

“Making things during winter is a cunning strategy to help replace the feel good brain chemicals that may falter during these dingier months.’”

Emma describes her book as a survival guide to winter, a means to embrace the drab days and to fill them with wrist warmers and baked goodness.Woodland Wreath 1.jpg

As she says” Grab your crotchet hooks, yarn and cocoa powder. Onwards into the cold…”

At £14.99 this book is worth every penny spent, buy two copies one for yourself and one for a friend.

Emma Mitchell  on instagram as @silverpebble2

Published by LOM ART an imprint of Michael O’Mara Books