Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Want to create a Country Brocante look? Then this is the book for you.

Just a glimpse into this gorgeous book will affirm Lucy Haywood’s  love of all things vintage, a love that  was inherited from her parents. They spent all their free time at antiques fairs and so she grew up in a home filled with old furniture.

         Her first flat was adorned with antique finds and vintage clothing and she realized that she was drawn to a creative career.

When her daughters were tiny she created a business that would work alongside her role as a mum. She began by hiring out her vast collection of vintage china for weddings and other events. This led to opening first a little shop in Sussex and, then as the business grew, a large, draughty barn, inviting other collectors that she met to sell alongside her. She hosted sales in village halls and gardens, and The Country Brocante was born.

It has grown and evolved from its humble beginnings, and now hosts seasonal fairs at stately homes and estates in Sussex and the Cotswolds. The exhibitors specialize in various different eras and styles – some offer classic French brocanterie, others have a traditional English style, and some a blend of both.

The faded elegance of France and the English cottage charm of vintage china and chintz come together to create a uniquely beautiful look that is, the essence of the Country Brocante style which is captured in this book.

         The book opens with examples of the colour palette, which is oh so instagramable. Examples are given of Pale pinks, Washed whites, Seaside blues and Soft greens.

         As Lucy explains, there is a myth that White is cold hard and clinical. The secret is to search out muted, chalky whites that provide a perfect backdrop for the time worn patina of antique and vintage finds. White-painted furniture only grows more beautiful with age, and when it is teamed with old linen sheets, white sofas and all-white china, the effect is easy, relaxed and lived-in. If you have a collection of mismatching modern pine furniture, invest in a pot of one of Farrow & Ball’s just-slightly-off white shades and give pieces a lick of paint for instant shabby chic appeal.

To create a Country Brocante home using blues, seek out subtle shades from silvery pale blue to faded indigo.

‘Graceful, elegant and feminine, for me pink is the most romantic of colours and effortlessly exudes vintage charm. Even the smallest of details, such as a posy of pink flowers, will bring warmth to an interior’ says Lucy.

When using pinks, If pastel pink feels too sugary, try a rich raspberry shade instead, which looks fabulous against pearly grey or duck-egg blue walls and natural sisal flooring.

Dulux colour of 2020 being Tranquil Dawn a soft green hue inspired by the morning sky, and Lucy waxes lyrical about green. 

What colour could be more reminiscent of the rolling English countryside than green? It brings to mind the exterior of an old garden shed, lichen and moss growing over a weathered stone garden ornament, or a simple green bucket holding roses just picked from the garden. But green is for indoors as well as

out. There are so many shades that work in a country-style home, from faded sage to olive to sea foam. Just keep your shades subtle and sludgy and you can’t go far wrong. At the Country Brocantes, a keen eye will seek out the softest, most subtle green pieces, choosing battered enamel buckets and garden chairs to take home and treasure.

          As well as colours the book shows examples of architectural antiques, time worn textures , art, and shows examples of how to work them into your home.The houses included in this book, whether old Suffolk cottages, Georgian farmhouses or modern properties all have in common the inclusion of timeworn objects. There are salvaged shutters and doors, shelving fashioned from old scaffolding boards and pieces of painted furniture still clinging on to their original finish, flaking and peeling though it may be. Despite their age and their state of repair, these items manage to look current, exciting and utterly beautiful in their current surroundings.

What a book! What a look! I highly recommend it, as much for the gorgeous images by Ben Edwards as for the valuable information given by Lucy Haywood.

Blog, Press Show Picks

Thinking of an interior update? Look no further than Marks & Spencers Autumn Winter 2019 range

I, like many of you, am saddened by the downward spiral that M&S seem to have got themselves into. Apart from Bra’s and pants, nothing in their fashion range has appealed to me for a long time. However they have excellent food offerings, and their interior products and furniture are stylish well made and well priced.

With the changing season as we move towards Autumn, we instinctively feel the pull towards a cosy, welcoming space to withdraw into.

Whether your interiors preferences are inspired by rich colours, warm tonal shades or restful neutrals M&S Autumn Winter collection offers simple stylish updates for any home to create that perfect retreat from the busy day.

         Contemporary designs are blended with classic influences to create a timeless collection that will give your home enduring style.

Decorative accessories and statement textiles offer an instant  interior refresh  alongside modern upholstery and furniture designed with on-the-go family living in mind.

 Seasonal colour highlights of peacock tones, sea foam and teal are paired back with an accent of warm nectarine to kick off the new season. Classics are re-imagined in casual shapes and textures, while layered textiles and metallic accessories offset easy living with a soft, modern glamour.

Decorative florals adorn plush velvets for a new take on maximalism, while delicate blush corals are paired with deep aquamarine and petrol tones for a bold yet sophisticated interior.

Underpinning the colour stories for the season, this new take on cleansing neutrals creates a stylish canvas on which to layer your favourite pieces- creating an oasis of tranquil, that will always remain timeless. Yet again it feels as if the Scandi look is a strong influence.Casual layering and relaxed textiles in calming tones of ecru and warm grey make for easy styling and create a war, serene palette for the home.

         This Autumnal story of rich mulberries spans a jewel-toned palette of deep boysenberry, rich oxblood and delicate heather.

Highlights of dark charcoal and black give this classic colour story a contemporary feel, while statement prints in casual fabrics are juxtaposed with marble and brass accents for a glamorous feminine collection of seasonal pieces.

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Want to create a timeless Mid Century look in your home?

 Then look no further than the new book ‘Mid-Century Modern Living’

The Mini Moderns Guide to Pattern and Style, by Keith Stephenson and Mark Hampshire.

In 2006 Keith Stephenson and Mark Hampshire launched Mini Moderns, the company that specializes in mid twentieth century inspired, applied pattern. They are known for their striking use of pattern and colour across a range of products including wallpaper, fabrics, ceramics and household accessories.

        The designs are inspired by childhood memories, popular culture and the designs of the mid century greats.

        The book kicks off with Keith and Mark’s mid century inspiration. They then break down the key components that make up a mid-century look- including colour, pattern, materials and accents. Chapters are divided into seven interior looks that explore different aspects of mid century design.

     For a quirky bit of fun, a mid century menu is provided to go with each look plus music of the period.

        As they point out, no one wants to live in a museum so they show ways of incorporating their designs with original fifties and sixties pieces – design classics with a few bits of kitsch thrown in. This should result in you being able to make a space that reflects you and the way you wish to live.

         The Mini Modern Mantra

Build your interior around your passions

start with your collections and cherished possessions.

Don’t Fake it

Splash out on one original mid-century piece, rather than a room of poor quality replicas.

Embrace Pattern and Colour

Don’t be scared, it won’t bite unless you want it to!

Mix old and New

High street basics make the perfect foil for junk shop treasures.

Reuse what you can

Adapt, repurpose and repaint to create personalized space that doesn’t cost the earth.

The reader is  shown where to find the inspiration, the elements that make up the following key looks:

Studio townhouse

Bistro fabulous

Let the sunshine in

Granny takes a trip

Ocean Blue

Beatnik Beach House

Scandi Rustic

There is an excellent resources guide at the end of the book. Images from  style icons such as Robin Day, Hans Wenger, Lucienne Day and Gio Ponti are included.

This is a fabulous book and design resource that you will want to dip into time and again with stylish photography by Jan Baldwin.

Mid-Century Modern Living by Mark Hampshire is published by Kyle Books, www.octopusbooks.co.uk, £20. Photography by Jan Baldwin.