Spring has sprung

And there has been some sun.

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And in response the garden is starting to get it’s act together. I planted hundreds (and that’s not an exaggeration) of bulbs last year, most of which I imagine have been feasted on by the local wildlife. Those that have made it through seem to be stirring.

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And all inspired by this I invested in a bunch of flowers for the house too. It always feels extravagant to do this but I love them every time I look at them, which must make it worth the expense.

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Booze

Recently I’ve had a couple of nice things sent to me to try out.

I’m still surprised by how frequently I get approached by companies and/or individuals and generally I say no (some are amazingly random) but in these cases I was kind of interested….

The first is a metal wine holder. I have no real space to store wine, beer etc the bottles are just all lined up in a corner of the kitchen. I probably should invest in a proper rack, like this that could fit into my alcoves.

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Although I’m not sure my “wine collection” totally merits in. In quantity maybe but quality might be stretching it.

However, Black Country Metal Works sent me this little number to try and it’s  made a big difference. It’s tidied things up plus I think it fits in well with the look of the kitchen / dining area. So a thumbs up from me.

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You can buy all sorts on their site, including I noticed – cauldrons!

Storage!

The main bedroom has a major flaw. There’s just not enough storage.

It has an old brown wardrobe it in which seems massive but hardly fits anything in at all. It’s too narrow for most hangers to hang properly and so they have to go in at an angle. I can’t explain why it would be built that way, it remains a mystery to me. It also means that the bed and dressing table can only go in certain spots making it hard to find space for a chest of drawers without having furniture all lined up around the room.

There are two alcoves in the room which I intend to have fitted cupboards put into, but I decided as an interim fix to find a chest of drawers that could fit into them. And I found this fellow for around £40 on eBay (my usual haunt for inexpensive furniture).

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It doesn’t look that exciting… .I think my mother described it as “a brown blob” or something along those lines.

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before open

I agreed but thought it had potential and I really liked the cupboard part at the top. I think it makes it quite versatile and something I could move to another room quite easily. It did need work though and I intended to paint it. I set about giving it an undercoat straight away. And then some months passed….

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I came to a bit of a halt because I couldn’t decide what colour to paint it. Leaving all my stuff strewn around my room while the chest of drawers stood incomplete.

Then I saw this in a catalogue, John Lewis I think and took a snap on my iPhone.

inspiration

I painted the exterior in Farrow and Ball Pigeon. This is a colour I have used elsewhere, particularly in the kitchen. If I did ultimately move this piece of furniture within the house that seems like it’s most likely new home. Plus I liked the idea of it matching the walls and not introducing another colour to the room.

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The inside however I painted Farrow and Ball Rectory Red.

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And I love it.

Squeaky clean

A bit of a belated post, really I should have put this up before Christmas. Unfortunately I couldn’t as it’s actually a gift idea which needed to be secret.

Making people presents can be a bit hit and miss…..some are well….more desirable than others……Despite that I decided to make soaps and inflict them on my unsuspecting family as a Christmas gift. I actually think they turned out quite well, plus it was really easy to do. Hence I am documenting it here.

I bought the elements from a specialist site but you could easily assemble your ingredients separately.

The basic soap.

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Dye and fragrance

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Ingredients

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I made two types – rose and lavender.

The process is very easy. First you chop and gently melt the soap using a bain marie.

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Then allow it to cool slightly before mixing in the dye and ingredients. I found that it was best to add quite small amounts as it was easy to overdo it.

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Then you gently pour them into moulds. I did buy some specialist moulds but I also tried some cup cake moulds I already had and they were far better. A couple went wrong, for example not filling the mould enough or adding too many ingredients which all just settled at the bottom. Those I gently re-melted, amended the mixtures and allowed to set again.

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I let them set overnight before popping them out.

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Then I wrapped them in some festive paper and basically that’s it. Very very easy.

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Some light on the matter

Scented candles are one of those perfect gifts, mainly given by women to women. They’re great because (whilst admittedly a bit unimaginative) everyone likes them, they’re simple and the kind of thing you don’t really treat yourself too =  a great gift.

They are also the kind of thing you imagine yourself using in the more perfect version of your life. The one where you make your own bread, have a fridge full of intriguing ingredients you actually know how to use and waft around looking elegant in statement necklaces. For me that also involves me having long relaxing baths in a room flickering with gentle candle light and ideally scented by some marvellous candle. In reality I know I get bored within about five minutes, but I still like the idea.

So when I was contacted recently by  The Scented Candle Shop asking if I’d like to review some of their products I was all for it.

Now some of their lines are not really for me, the colours are too bold and the packaging too fussy but I did really like the look of their St Eval and Heaven Scent ranges.

Here are the St Eval ones I received.

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Quite good for me as I have some unused lanterns that these are perfect for. I really liked the one from the Victorian Herb Range, it’s a nice concept and also smelt lovely.

From the same line I also received some candle tins which had really pleasant fragrances.

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All good so far but my favourite by a long way was the candle jar from the Aromatherapy range by Heaven Scent. It smelt amazing and I think it looks really cool. If I were to buy one it would be this one.

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And here I am trying them all out at once in a kind of scented candle megamix. Lovely.

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Festive spirit

It’s nearly Christmas and so the house has got into the mood as well….

With a tree.

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A wreath. I bought a basic one from the garden centre, as did my mum and we both added extra holly and red berries from her garden.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome glittery reindeer I found in the loft – which I am pretty sure I bought in Poundland. Love them!

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Nativity scene.

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A bit of colour in the hall…

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and in the kitchen.

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Plus a few extra random baubles and we’re done.

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Holiday memorabilia

Recently I went on holiday to Ethiopia, it was a horse trekking  in the Bale Mountains. It was a brilliant trip, and a very beautiful country (this also explains my very patchy posting recently).

Here’s my favourite photograph – my tent is the yellow one…

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Whilst in Addis Ababa we visited some shops specialising in handicrafts. There was some lovely stuff, particularly traditional coffee pots and woven baskets but space was limited and so I had to choose carefully. Finally I bought this….and I love it.

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I’m not sure if it’s really intended to be used as a fruit bowl, but I’m but it does the job very well.

A bit of inspiration

I had to go to Milan for a couple of days with work recently and I stayed in The Chateau Monfort. And I can tell you it’s kind of snazzy. They’ve gone pretty big on the design side, and I mean BIG.

Some of it wasn’t for me – a bit too knowing, but what I did really like was the bathroom in my room. I thought the contrasting colour scheme was really tasteful, particularly as they had extended it to the floor tiles.

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The bath was also really interestingly set back into a kind of booth. I’ve seen this before in hotels (there must be some functional reason for doing it I can’t work out) but not made a feature of in this fun way – it felt a bit theatrical.

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Oh and they had nice toiletries too!

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Everything must go

I went to the Graham and Green warehouse sale yesterday with a friend, it’s on a glamorous industrial estate in Brentford. I’ve been before and written about it – although I had forgotten and my friend had to remind me.

I had also forgotten just how much furniture they have available at these events. We went quite late so many of the items had sold (and we were on more of a reconnaissance mission than actually making major purchases) and were either waiting to be collected or loaded for delivery – a service I only realised they offered as we left. That’s probably a good thing as I might have gone mad and bought a massive shelving unit, or sofa, just because they were a bargain. Having a tiny smart car is a good constraint sometimes.

Anyway here are some rather blurry images to give you an idea of what’s on offer.

Desks and mirrors.

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Sideboards

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Garden furniture

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Shelves and some of the mother of pearl inlay items they are known for.

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Some of the smaller home accessories

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And here are the things I wanted to buy and agonised over.

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  • Could they go in my kitchen? No it’s full (even if you rearrange it)
  • What about the sitting room? But weird for a sitting room? Anyway that room needs a bit of a rethink so best to hold off
  • Landing, hall walls? Possibly….

I managed to be restrained and will probably keep these in mind and return to their next sale when I have the house and my mind slightly more in order. I think they have a couple a year and if you’re on the mailing list they send out a reminder.

I did buy a couple of things though. This mirror for the downstairs loo, I’ve had my eye on it for a while and I found one at the sale lonely, looking for a home (this image is from the GG and website –  I’d like the wire rack too).

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And some more pom poms (image also from the GG website), I already have some but they were reduced to £3 so good for spares.

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All in all well worth a visit, particularly if you have your eye on one of the larger items of furniture.

Mora Clocks – everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask

A few months ago I bought myself a (I think) beautiful Mora Clock. I touched a bit on the different types and what you might look for in an earlier post but to be honest I’m no expert, I just love the look of them.

Quite a few people have asked me about the clock, where I got it from etc so when Jo from Swedish Interior Design who I bought my clock from offered to write a short piece about them I said yes please. Here’s what he’s put together.

Swedish Mora Clock – The heartbeat of Sweden

Swedish Mora Clocks have become a classic & iconic design piece in houses all over the world. They have a unique appeal and elegance for any room in the house. Swedish Interior Design has 50 mora clocks for sale and here we are going share some ideas on what you should look for when you want to buy a Mora Clock.

They are so popular because of their unique form – the fertility goddess belly shape and decorative features.  Many people’s first time with a Mora comes from the movie ‘Somethings Gotta Give’ where there is a mora clock prominently displayed in the living room scene with Jack Nicholson. Original 1800s Mora clocks are very rare now so here’s a few pointers to help you find the right one. 

Each Mora clock is a unique handmade object dreamed up by the imagination of its maker so every clock has a different the hood, clock face decoration, belly shape, plinth etc .

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They are most worked in pine but very occasionally built in oak and they measure height wise from 180-250cm and feature a great wealth of decorative carvings and original paint finishes. 

1800s Swedish Mora clocks generally come in a number of types –

Fryksdall: These clocks have a pinched waist, wider belly, curly scroll decoration on the waist and neck and extravagant hood carvings. They come in a variety of whites & greys and would be owned by wealthier individuals.

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Bridal: The most unusual of mora clocks, often from Jamtland, these pieces have the finest levels of decorative carving. They exhibit the finest level of craftsmanship in the Mora clock world.

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City: a catch all phrase to describe Mora clocks that have fine levels of decoration or beautiful painted finishes that set them apart from the simpler country clocks.

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Country: the country clocks are usually plainer in appearance with less decoration. Often given as wedding presents, they would be a prized possession in poorer families. Normally they have simpler hood crowns and less use of glass. They may have no face glass at all or pendulum viewing port for example. Painted in earthier folk art colours in the Swedish Kurbits folk art tradition, they show with yellows, oranges, deep russets, browns and ochres.

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Buying a mora is a heart felt not logical exercise – listen to the clock that emotionally calls to you rather than creating a checklist of must have features. The clock will be with you for life- so go with your heart, name her, talk to her and feel her protective presence guarding over you.

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There seem to be 3 schools of thought in terms of paint finishes.

Some people strip the clocks back to the bare wood and repaint but that doesn’t make sense to me. Every clock has lived a history and by over restoring, you strip away its special ‘aura, it becomes just a clock body made of old wood devoid of personality making it not much different from a repro one in reality.

Also many clocks have ‘scraped back’ paint. But this is just a paint effect really. Originally the paint would have been a rich chalk paint in perfect condition, and the scraped paint ‘effect’ is just that – an interior design effect similar to ‘shabby chic’ that you see on lots of restored Swedish furniture. It looks nice but its not real!

At Swedish Interior Design, we prefer to keep the paint whenever we can as it is and only repaint where the original coat is in poor condition or it has been repainted at some later time. When we do it is sensitively done to allow the mora clock to live and breathe so to speak.

Finally you need to think about whether you want to use the original clock mechanism or fit a battery powered electric one. This may seem a strange question but mora clocks have very ‘country’ parts, unlike the precision clock mechanisms of English clocks of the period. 

So they can be difficult to set up and can be affected by a change in temperature causing the wood in the clock body to shift slightly or being jolted as you walk past. This affects the swing planes and can cause the clock to stop. Also the mechanisms are open to the air and its very easy to get dust caught in the cogs. 

So that’s why most of our clients go for the battery option. It doesn’t need winding and it looks exactly the same as the original from the outside. Its easy to do and there’s no damage to the clock as the original mechanism is only kept in place by small screw and you can put the original mechanism back in place whenever you like (although it will need cleaning and setting up professionally if you do).

I hope our short journey into the land of Mora Clocks will help you find the perfect clock for you.