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La vie est belle

4 Feb

“Journalist abandons city in favour of tumbledown French farmhouse.”

One day – please god – let someone write those words about me!

French country style kitchenJust imagine cooking in a kitchen flooded with as much light as this! Despite the basic concrete floor this rooms looks so welcoming and warm. Who wouldn’t want to fling open those doors and sit down and tuck into a stack of brioche here?

French country style living roomI must admit that I still think the French do relaxed country style better than anyone. There’s not much going on in this room but it has exactly the right balance of simplicity and interest for me. The stack of nude paintings in the corner is my favourite touch.

French country style bedroom{El Meuble via Graine & Ficelle / Poppytalk}

When Isabella took on her new home it was nothing more than a weedy wasteland – today though she lives the good life doing B&B and running cookery lessons where guests can pick their vegetable and gather their eggs from the (now cultivated) surrounding farmland, while the kids can get back to nature and help out with feeding time. Even the name of the farm is perfect… Graine & Ficelle – Grain & Twine.

Or, life in the woods

19 Sep

I studied English Literature at university and one of the many books I read there was Walden by Henry David Thoreau. In America it’s pretty much a seminal work but it’s not widely read over here. If I’m honest, it’s a bit slow and preachy for me, but its core themes of a simple life, communing with nature and the beauty of solitude are all things I value enormously.

If Thoreau had happened to be Swedish rather than American, his cabin on Walden Pond would almost certainly have been this fisherman’s hut in Gotland!

{all Karin Björkquist for Lantliv}

The tiny timber hut is lit only by kerosene lamps and warmed through in autumn and winter by a traditional cast iron stove. I can just imagine snuggling up in a heavy sheepskin blanket with the smell of woodsmoke in my hair and only the lapping waves and forest creatures for company.

If you too love this simple style, click here for more rustic house tours.

Earth laughs in flowers

3 Sep

I came across the dreamiest blog last week. To me it seems to perfectly capture the beautiful sadness that accompanies these last fading days of summer.

Emerson Merrick is written by New York florist Amy Merrick. However her most inspiring posts come not from the Big Apple but from Elmwood, her tumbledown country escape in New Hampshire.

It came as no surprise to read that Elmwood recently played host to Kinfolk (my latest obsession) who did a photo shoot there this summer for a future issue of the magazine.

There’s such a wonderfully languid feel about all Amy’s photographs. And very lovely flowers, as you’d expect. What I would give to have my own rural retreat like this!

{all Amy Merrick}

Visit Emerson Merrick to get lost in daydreams of Elmwood yourself… be warned, you might never want to come back!

Ps – poetry lovers, the title quote for this post is taken from the poignant Hamatreya by Ralph Waldo Emerson – read it here.

Decorate with sugar and spice

23 Nov

I’m not really into ‘themed’ rooms but I do have a couple of Moroccan-style bits at home, like this carved screen and one of these leather pouffes. I love the juxtapositions that define this look: spicy accents against sugar-white walls and elaborate geometric patterns in pared-back, clutter-free rooms. I haven’t been to Morocco (yet!) but when I do, I’d love to stay here at the P’tit Habibi Riad in Marrakesh.

Yes folks, that’s another shimmery Moroccan wedding blanket. And no, I haven’t saved up enough to buy one for myself yet. One day!

{all Riad P’tit Habibi via Travel Files}

There are only four rooms in the Riad and all have been individually decorated. I especially love the beautifully hand-painted woodwork in each one. Reproducing the trailing motifs at home would be way beyond my skill level but it would be easy to add a similar pattern with a beautiful wallpaper like this one from Zoffany or fabric like the Amanpuri design from Sanderson.

Daydreams of a single girl

6 Oct

For various reasons lately, I’ve been daydreaming about moving to Paris for a spell, getting a little studio apartment and soaking up some culture.

Or maybe Berlin.

Or New York.

Or Budapest.

Wherever, a big part of my fantasy is based on the idea of a little apartment to call home. It would be small but perfectly formed with original features galore, naturellement.* In fact, a little something like this…

Studio apartment is sometimes used as estate agent speak for drab bedsit, but you could never put this sugar-coated, open-plan space into that bracket.

I love, love, love that super shiny upstand around the kitchen worksurface and the integrated shelf / extractor hood is really streamlined. Standard cooker hoods can look so ugly sometimes and this combines display and functionality perfectly. In fact, I wish I’d thought of that!

Perhaps a little shimmery wallpaper in those alcoves would make this look even prettier… and I do like a silvered mirror.

I’m pleased I’m not the only one with trailing wire issues. When will someone go on Dragon’s Den and invent wireless everything?

{Light Locations via Bliss}

This reminds me of how much I want a Moroccan wedding blanket for my bed. If I’m not mistaken, the paper butterfly collage is by Cissy Cook, although I like her White Collection best, especially the little fan design. Perhaps I could have a go at recreating one of those for that spot above my sofa?

* I’m not sure my dreams can be sustained on my pitiful GCSE language skills, do you? Apologies to any actual French speakers out there… I just can’t help myself!

Inside Sania Pell’s gorgeous Croatian home

8 Sep

When I started Decorator’s Notebook, I didn’t anticipate finding one Croatian home worthy of a post, let alone two within the first two months! But despite the unexpected geographical bias, I couldn’t resist sharing this beautiful house the moment I laid eyes on it.

The house was built 50 years ago by the Grandfather of super-talented stylist Sania Pell and is now used as a shared holiday home by her family. Sania’s signature theme of upcycling and make-it-yourself are evident throughout and she’s mixed found objects and things she’s made with vintage, high-street and DIY store buys to give the space a clean, simple look. Could anyone fail to relax in a home like this?

I was tickled to see that Sania had picked this lamp as I have two of them myself. As much as I’d like to claim I could afford a pair of lovely Original BTC lights, this one is actually from the infinitely less glamourous B&Q!

I love the natural details and personal touches scattered through the house. The pebbles were found on the beach and shaped into hearts by Sania’s husband and children. All together now, awwwww.

Have you picked up that I have a bit of a thing about enamelware? The battered milk churn on the top shelf belonged to Sania’s Grandmother. In fact, lots of the objects in the house have a charming story to tell (read more about them here)

{all Sania Pell}

This house is just so blissful it actually makes my heart ache a little bit! Croatia’s been on my list for a while, but seeing this home, combined with these lovely Croatian holiday photos I think someone’s trying to tell me something…

Inside Croatia’s cutest cottage

22 Jul

If I didn’t have to be in wet and windy London this weekend, I’d definitely be here…


{Damir Zizic via Kuchica}

Kuchica, which means ‘little house’ in Croatian, nestles in the lush hillside near Zagreb. Lovingly restored with flea market finds, rustic colours and bare minimum of fuss, the 100 year old cottage can be rented for holidays by those that value the simpler things in life. I admit the sleeping arrangements aren’t terribly romantic, but I can’t imagine a more idyllic place for a getaway – take the test here to see if Kuchica would suit you!

What do you look for in the perfect break? Does somewhere this basic appeal to you or are you boutique chic all the way?

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