Tag Archives: Decorator’s Notebook blog

We’re moving! Come with us and test our brand new blog

16 Apr

Decorator's Notebook new blog screen grab

It’s been a bit quiet around here recently because we’ve been hard at work on a beautiful redesign of the Decorator’s Notebook blog. It’s taken a bit longer than we’d hoped (apparently this is the biggest blog our hosting team have ever had to migrate… oops!) but we’re so pleased to unveil our new design and invite you to our new blogging home…

blog.decoratorsnotebook.co.uk

We hope you’ll like the clean new layout, bigger pin-ready pictures and useful new features, like the ‘Make and Do’ menu which makes it easier to find a craft project or recipe to try, or an inspiring home tour to explore…

Decorator's Notebook blog make and do screen grab

We’re not setting the new blog design in stone yet though… making sure that you like the changes we’ve made is really important to us so we’d love to hear your feedback (good and bad).

  • Do you like the new features?
  • Is there something we’ve removed that you miss?
  • Have you seen something cool elsewhere we should add?
  • Can you spot anything that doesn’t work?

Please leave a comment or get in touch on Twitter to tell us what you think.

In a couple of days visitors to this web address will be automatically redirected to the new blog, and if you follow us and receive new post updates via email we’ll transfer your subscription over.

If you follow via the WordPress.com reader you’ll need to update your RSS settings or add blog.decoratorsnotebook.co.uk to a different reader, like Feedly or Bloglovin.

Please be sure to update your settings so you don’t miss out… Decorator’s Notebook is about to get bigger and better than ever before and we can’t wait to start this new journey with you!

House tour: mix dark wood and white for a crisp industrial vibe

7 Apr

I shared one photo from this apartment on Twitter last week and the response was an immediate ‘wow’, so I thought you’d like to see the rest!

The owners of this one-bed apartment have achieve the renovation holy trinity: bigger, lighter and on a budget. Have a browse and soak up the cool mix of whitewashed brick, tile and dark reclaimed wood. Then check out the ‘befores’ to appreciate just how impressive this makeover really is!

industrial vintage city apartment tour

whitewashed brick feature wall

white painted brick wall

The apartment belongs to New York prop stylist Anthony D’Argenzio who did most of the work himself. Once the previous owner’s frilly pink pelmets and plastic-covered sofa had been banished he began by hacking the plasterboard from the walls to reveal the brick underneath. Whitewashing the rough brick and outlining the windows with a deep surround of stained reclaimed wood gives the apartment a warehouse-like feel.

house plant on window sil

white vintage kitchen with reclaimed wood

This kitchen is just a dream for me… the patterned tile floor, white marble worktop, subway tiles, industrial lighting and all that rough-hewn reclaimed wood. Perfect proof of how a tiny kitchen can still be big on style.

vintage map wall art

gallery wall

white vintage bedroom

[Photographs Emily Johnstone for Lonny]

Another thing I really admire about how this place has been styled is the juxtaposition of the industrial backdrop with quite glamourous accessories and furniture. The ornate gilded mirror in the living room, chandeliers and slightly rubbish society portraits all give an unexpected hint of faded grandeur that stops the coolness feeling too try-hard.

If you like this home you won’t want to leave the blog without looking around this apartment too… there are some lovely similarities between the two in both size and style. And don’t forget to check out the ‘befores’ too… you won’t believe your eyes!

Mood of the moment… spring awakening

28 Mar

Mood of the Moment - spring escape - Decorator's Notebook blog 680

Listen Decorator's Notebook Mood of the Moment

{LIVE / EAT / WEAR / ESCAPE}

{LISTEN: Chloe Charles - Find Her Way}

There’s no escaping the specialness of this time of year. I was really touched by the collective enthusiasm for making beautiful flower crowns last week for the spring equinox – crafting and wearing my crown really put me in the mood for positive thinking and a new perspective that comes with the seasonal shift. And this weekend the clocks go forward too – the loss of an hour’s sleep is a small sacrifice for the longer days we can enjoy over the coming months.

Today’s Mood of the Moment really captures the spirit of springtime for me… flowers, lambs, fresh air and lighter clothing are all symbols that mean the world to me, especially since this is the first spring in seven years I’ll be spending back in the countryside where I belong. Take a moment for yourself to sit back and enjoy this lovely uplifting tune by Chloe Charles, discovered by our Dad and recommended to us.

Have a lovely weekend xx

How to be a master of the Renaissance trend

7 Mar

Ever since I learned of the concept, I’ve been fascinated by trend forecasting. At first I was a little miffed that the design trends I loved to see emerging each season were set out well in advance and therefore more of a self-fulfilling prophecy than a mystical zeitgeist. Now though, I love the guessing game that follows the trend predictions each season, seeing which will fly and which will fail.

At Home this year I went along to a presentation by Trend Bible, who were introducing their predictions for autumn/winter 2014. I’ll revisit them again nearer the time, but this stunning image from Claire Pettibone‘s couture collection brought my favourite of those trends to the forefront of my mind.

Claire Pettibone couture dress with flowers

{Claire Pettibone}

Trend Bible called it ‘Renaissance’ and I’m going to stick my neck out here and say I predict this trend’s going to be a winner. Let’s take a look at how we can translate the look from fashion to home and get ahead of the pack…

Fashion to Home Renaissance decorating trend Decorator's Notebook

{Abigail Ahern}

You can already see where I’m headed with this, right? The trends that stick are the ones that don’t re-write the rulebook, but instead twist and develop those design ideas that have been popular before.

Thus, Down Pipe-and-Fuchsia becomes Stiffkey-and-Peony. We’re ready for it and when it comes, we’re there with our paintbrushes aloft and our mouse fingers poised to pin the heck out of it.

How to decorate with the renaissance trend Decorator's Notebook

{Julia Hoersch}

So, you like the look of it but Renaissance isn’t the easiest trend to (forgive the pun) “master”. Here’s my simple guide to getting it right.

1 | Don’t be afraid of the dark

This is no time to chicken out and go for the safe mid-tone on your paint chart. The drama of this look comes from the contrast between a sultry backdrop and lively shots of colour. For the walls, opt for a flat matte paint (no wallpaper) and, if you’re especially brave, use the same shade on skirtings, ceilings and cornicing as well. The home of London stylist Jo Atkins Hughes (below) is a great example.

Dark grey living room with coloured accents

{Jo Atkins Hughes}

2| Think like Caravaggio

This trend isn’t called ‘Renaissance’ for nothing; still life oil paintings are a key influence. Head to an art gallery and stand in front of a few old Dutch Masters for while. Take in the dramatic use of light and shade and the vibrancy of the flowers and fruit – usually on the cusp of decay. These are just the kinds of accent colours you should consider to punctuate your scheme… deep figgy purple, ripe pomegranate red, bursting peony pink and acid yellow-greens are all perfect for this look.

Still life of fruit and flowers by Jan Davidsz. de Heem

{Painting: Jan Davidsz. de Heem}

3| Add abstract shapes

At first glace this is a very historical look, but it also requires a hint of the unexpected. Add it in the form of geometric and abstracted shapes and hard materials like brass, wrought iron and copper, to contrast with the natural elements. The good news is there are lots of great accessories around at the moment, so keep your eyes open for interesting pendant lights, prismatic vases and angular furniture as you shop.

Gold geometric light fitting

{Etch lights, Tom Dixon}

4| Create your own arrangements

The easiest way to introduce the colours of flowers and plants to your room is to use real ones! Have fun at the florist with eye-catching colours and showy blooms, then create a casual arrangement in a prominent position. Don’t just stick to vases though… embrace the still-life look and have them spilling out of a bowl or hang dried stems upside down down with a big silk ribbon.

Bouquet with succulents

{Joanna Millington for Love My Dress}

So, what do you think? Is the Renaissance trend one to stay or another flash in the pan? Chip in with your comment below and or tell me what you think on Twitter @DecoratorsNotes.

If you found my post useful, please share it! Buttons below..

The new yellow and grey?

4 Mar

Could it be?

green and grey textiles

{via Skona Hem}

grey and green interior

{via Design Sponge}

green industrial light in grey bedroom

{via The Design Files}

Chocolate Cloud Cake

17 Feb

Flourless chocolate cloud cake recipe - Decorator's Notebook (592x800)

Dust your cake tin with cocoa to stop your chocolate cake from sticking (800x590)

Chocolate Cloud Cake Recipe - dark chocolate pieces (593x640)

Dark Chocolate Cloud Cake Recipe - Decorator's Notebook (533x800)

{Photographs: Decorator’s Notebook | Recipe: adapted from Sophie Dahl}

I’ve never been to heaven, but I bet this is what angels eat for breakfast. Light as a feather, gooey in the middle and completely flourless, this may not be the prettiest cake you’ve ever made, but I promise you it will be one of the yummiest!

CHOCOLATE CLOUD CAKE

300g plain chocolate, broken into pieces

225g caster sugar

175ml boiling water

225g salted butter, cubed

6 free-range eggs, separated

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 | Preheat the oven to 180 ͦ c / Gas Mark 4. Grease a 23cm springform cake tin then dust the base and sides with cocoa.

2 | Place the chocolate and caster sugar into a food processor and whizz until a fine powder forms. Add the boiling water, butter, egg yolks and vanilla. Blend again until smooth and well combined. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

3 | Place the egg whites into a separate glass bowl and whisk with an electric beater until you have stiff, snowy-white peaks. It’s essential that your bowl and beaters are absolutely clean before you do this as the slightest bit of grease will stop your egg whites whisking properly… I rinse mine with boiling water and dry them with a fresh tea towel to make sure.

4 | Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture with a metal spoon, in two additions, until just combined. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 45 – 55 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs. The cake will still look wobbly – this is a good thing as it means it will have a lovely gooey middle.

5 | Run a knife around the edge of the cake straight away then allow the cake to cool completely in the tin. It will quickly sink but don’t worry… this is all part of its rustic charm! When cool, chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours before serving on its own or with creme fraiche and red berries.

TIP: This cake gets even better on the second day so it’s a perfect prepare-ahead dinner party dessert.

3 rules for better portrait photography (and when to break them)

9 Feb

Portrait photography tips

Last weekend I headed north with a group of friends to explore the Scottish Borders. We might not have experienced weather as relentless as that which has been battering Bethan down in Somerset, but we had our fair share of extreme precipitation! I was hoping I might be able to share some dramatic landscape photos with you, but as the snow closed in we were struggling to see more than a couple of meters in front of us it became quickly apparent that it wouldn’t be a weekend of magnificent vistas!

Portrait photography tips

Photography is all about capturing light, and sometimes to get the best out of a session you need to adapt to the conditions you are presented with. Often it’s bright sunshine which makes for a dramatic picture with shadows creating texture and definition, but when you’re taking pictures of people it can create shadows on the face which can be unflattering. So when you’re faced with overcast weather, it’s a great opportunity to look for people to use as your subjects as the clouds will effectively act as an oversized light diffuser. On Saturday we battled through eye-stinging blizzards to return back to base and I thought it worthy of taking my camera out to grab a few snaps.

Portrait photography tips

Rules to follow:

  • Get closer: the mantra of “if your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough” is certainly one which is overused in photography, but it does have its merit when capturing photos of people. Getting closer to the subject will also increase background blur which pulls the focus of the image to the subject.
  • Use the right lens: The difficulty with getting close is that you will need a lens with a longer focal length. If you are buying a lens for an SLR camera then this is one with a larger mm number. Compact cameras will normally boast a wide angle lens which is great for taking expansive panoramas, but will give close up photos a “fish-eye” effect which you want to avoid when taking portraits. This doesn’t mean shelling a lot of money. I bought a manual focusing 50mm lens for my Nikon for under £85.
  • Spot Focus: if you set your camera to portrait mode it will probably do this for you, if not change your camera from area auto focus to spot focus. This will allow you to focus on the eyes of your subject using a single point (usually the centre) of you camera. Left on auto mode, your camera will usually focus on the nearest point: the nose!

Portrait photography tips

Rules to break!

Sometimes if you want your photos to stand out, you need to do something a little differently. A perfect, smiling portrait shot might be perfect for a school photo or holiday album, but in my opinion a great portrait is one that captures the essence of the subject or situation.

  • Portraits don’t have to be portrait: this might seem a controversial tip, but there’s no reason to take a portrait photograph in portrait orientation. The pictures here were taken in portrait before I cropped them into a square, or experiment with landscape images with the subject off-centre.
  • Get even closer: To take this a step further, get so close that you crop the top and/or bottom of the face. This will really focus in on the eyes and can make for an intriguing composition.
  • Stop smiling: It’s almost an in-built instinct to smile when a camera is pointed at you, and there’s nothing wrong with this. However, you can add some intrigue to a photo if your subject relaxes their face and mouth to a neutral position.

scotland photography

{all photographs by Joe John for Decorator’s Notebook}

House Tour: New York apartment with natural elements

28 Jan

I love bringing little touches of nature into my home… a dried seedhead here, a pheasant feather there… they help to soften up a minimal room and bring a tiny bit of the outdoors in.

This small New York apartment belongs to prop stylist Rebecca Bartoshesky and I really admire her style. She has just the right amount of artistic clutter and some really nice ideas for using found objects in a decorative yet simple way.

living room with muted colours

Apple crate storage

House plants

Look closely and you’ll see little natural touches in evey single corner of this home. Not so much that it looks like a museum (remember this Victorian collector’s cottage?) but just enough to bring in the subtle earthy tones and rustic textures that only real shells, plants and feathers can add.

linen blind

collection box of feathers

small kitchen with vintage style

kitchen shelf detail

If you like this look, choose natural fibre fabrics as Rebecca has – raw linen or material coloured with vegetable dyes are ideal as their muted tones are just right for adding colour in a way that doesn’t jar. Dyeworks specialises in selling naturally-dyed fabrics, or Sania Pell wrote this lovely post explaining how to make your own fabric dyes from berries, vegetables and spices.

vintage metal bedstead

tie dye bedspread

{Photographs Pippa Drummond / Styling Rebecca Bartoshesky for Sight Unseen}

For those of us that remember 1990s ‘bohemian chic’ the idea of tie dying is a little bit scary, but there’s no denying it’s making a come-back. If proper tie-dye like Rebecca’s bedspread sends you running for cover, dip dying is just as easy and is less likely to make your home look like a hippy hangout. I went to a trend forecasting presentation last week and ombre is going to be sticking around for at least another two seasons, so there’s still time if you haven’t yet succumbed!

This beautiful apartment was origianally featured on the lovely Sight Unseen blog where you’ll find lots more photos and pretty details of Rebecca’s home – find the post here.

The Room Mixer: global farmhouse

16 Jan

Here’s a new post idea I’m playing with. Five rooms that could be in the same home, but aren’t, in an attempt to create the perfect blend!

I’d start in this hallway, with its red brick floor and painted tongue and groove…

Rustic hallway

{via Terrain}

…it would lead to this cosy living room with its lovely kilim on the floor…

living room with kilim and stove

{via Design Sponge}

…I’d cook my supper here…

rustic kitchen with reclaimed wood

{via Names Agency}

…and later, relax in a nice hot bath in here…

country style bathroom blue wall slipper tub

{via Inks and Thread}

…and finally snuggle up in this big, warm bed.

ethnic bedroom

{via The Gifts of Life}

Let me know if you’ve seen a room you love and I might just create the perfect home just for you!

Homemade gingerbread gift tags & garlands

15 Dec

Welcome to everyone joining us today from Sunday Times Style – it’s lovely to have you here!

I was thrilled to be invited to put together an idea for their Christmas gift wrap feature this weekend. These edible gingerbread tags start giving before your gift has even been opened – a definite bonus! If you fancy trying these sweet little biscuits for yourself, here’s the recipe and instructions you’ll need:

Gingerbread gift tags Decorator's Notebook blog recipe

Decorator's Notebook gingerbread cookies recipe

Gingerbread gift tags for Sunday Times Style by Decorator's Notebook

Decorator's Notebook gingerbread garland

{Photographs © Decorator’s Notebook}

Gingerbread Biscuits

It took quite a bit of experimentation to work out the recipe for perfect gingerbread biscuits that hold their shape when baked and taste delicious too. Thank you to Emily at Maid of Gingerbread for the tips!

100g butter
100g soft brown sugar
3 tbs treacle
1 tbs golden syrup
140g plain flour
140g self raising flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground mixed spice
 

1) Preheat the oven to 180°c / Gas 4. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

2) Place the butter, treacle, syrup and sugar in a small pan and warm gently until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Meanwhile, sift the flour and spices into a mixing bowl.

3) Add the contents of the pan to the dry ingredients and mix well. Once combined, kneed gently to form a smooth, stiff ball of dough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.

4) Roll out the dough to 2mm thick on a floured surface and cut out the shapes using your favourite cutter. Use a straw to make two holes in the centre of each biscuit then transfer to the baking sheet. Repeat until all the dough is used.

5) Bake for 8-12 minutes until golden brown. Keep a close eye on them as the cooking time will depend on the size of the cutter you used. Cool on a wire rack then store in an airtight container.

Makes about 32 biscuits

Gingerbread recipe Decorator's Notebook blog

[click the image above to enlarge and save]

gingerbread gift tags and garland recipe Decorator's Notebook

{Photographs and recipe © Decorator’s Notebook}

Once you’ve made your gingerbread men there’s a host of ways you can use them… tying them onto Christmas presents is just the start!

  • Thread a row along a length of pretty ribbon and hang along the mantlepiece (not too close to the fire!)
  • Make one hole in the top of the biscuits instead of two and pop them on your tree
  • Tie around napkins as an extra treat on the table
  • Get the kids decorating them with tubes of icing to give to their friends and teachers

Have fun and thank you for visiting our blog… you’ll find lots more Christmas craft and decorating ideas here and please do have a look at the Decorator’s Notebook Shop for gorgeous gifts to wrap inside your parcels and luxury ribbons for the perfect finishing touch!

Decorator's Notebook Shop www decoratorsnotebook.co.uk

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