Soul Food Studio


Book Review: Mad About the House by Kate Watson-Smyth

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell

With a big move coming up I was more than delighted when a review copy of Mad About The House by Kate Watson-Smyth arrived. With over 15 years writing about interiors there’s not much journalist Watson-Smyth doesn’t know about putting together a great interior. It’s a complete, how to on defining your own unique interior style to make your home work for you. Between the covers there a mine of practical good sense tips as well as advice on how to bring that extra edge of wow to your interiors.

Though I’m a designer, stylist and have forever been involved in interiors it certainly doesn’t mean I‘m not still hungry for new ways to make a house into a stylish home. Rest assured this is not glossy coffee table book packed with out of budget fashionable interior images. It’s rather more a work book, future proofed with drawings and carefully chosen photographs, coupled with good solid classic interiors advice to guide you towards defining your interior style.

The book is divided into three sections, the first leads you through the minefield of finding inspiration on the way to defining your style, which includes invaluable information on using colour. To guarantee the success of your interior projects the middle section contains a chapter on every room in the house, each covers details specific to the function of the room, along with lighting, storage and furniture. The crowning glory is found in the last section where Watson-Smyth gives the low down on top design hacks gleaned over her many years of experience.

Creating a stylish home to feel proud of doesn’t necessarily mean splashing the cash and expending eye wateringly large sums of money. This book is there to guide you through sometimes difficult style and decorating dilemmas. It helps you target the look you want to achieve in your home to reflect your own personal style while spending your budget wisely.

Mad About The House by Kate Watson-Smyth is published by Pavilion.

Here is another book review you might like, go take a look: Book Review - Making Winter: A Creative Guide for Surviving the Winter Months by Emma Mitchell

Going Backwards to go Forwards: Rediscovering the Joy of Writing with a Fountain Pen

Crafts, Interior, StylingAmanda Russell

With their generous flow of ink and near instant drying, my addiction to gel pens stretches back over many years. But, I miss using a fountain pen, the right nib brings the feeling it’s possible to write for miles. On a few occasions I have seriously tried to get back into using them, however I felt replacing empty gel pens for cartridges in landfill was neither sustainable nor tackling the root of the problem.

As an interior stylist, the constant flow of ‘bits’ through my life swiftly leads to an ugly build up and an urgent need to declutter. While tacking my accumulations of clutter in the studio, I inevitably uncovered my stash of old fountain pens. The question of what to do with them skated across my mind, closing the box and running away seemed attractive. A jumble of different makes, brings the inconvenient headache of both sourcing and storing a broad selection of refill cartridges, making fountain pens a complicated option to adopt.


Lining up my cache of pens reminded me of the joy I have using them. Rather than ditching them I felt tackling the problem of keeping them charged with ink was worth one more shot. A recently invaluable discovery is Cult Pens, who stock a wide range of writing supplies and deliver speedily. I had a buzz of excitement as I ordered ink and reservoirs for the pens, a small change was about to become a reality on my journey towards a more sustainable life.

Making the swap back to using a fountain pen feels like a big win. There’s the aesthetic pleasure of holding a pen coupled with the delight of welcoming back an old friend, Waterman’s turquoise ink, in its design icon, quirky shaped bottle, that’s tip able for easy fill. A moment of peaceful reflection is brought to Sunday evening as I round up my pens, ready to fill for the week ahead. And incase of emergencies there’s always a few cartridges in a tin ready waiting in my bag.

If you like this post check out my post on Plastic Free Kitchen


Make your own Funky Feather Christmas Wreath

CraftsAmanda Russell

Who wouldn’t want this incredibly chic colourful feather wreath to bring bright carnival colour to your room? I show you how to make this unique wreath with the minimum of effort.


You will need:

Turkey Quills in assorted colours

Polystyrene wreath form

Glue gun

Fishing line

Command Hook

Satay stick


The secret to the wreath is to put the feathers in at an angle so they completely cover the white polystyrene form. Starting pressing in feathers on the outside edge, first, make a pilot hole in the edge of the wreath with a satay stick, press the feather into the hole, then squeeze on a blob of glue to hold. Add the feathers in staggered layers, about 3cm from the next one. Work from the outside to the inside edge moving, around the wreath with each new layer.

When finished decide which is the top of the wreath and tie around a loop of fishing nylon to invisible suspend the wreath from a removable Command hook.

I used:

Specialist Crafts: 3 packs Turkey Quills in assorted colours £6.17

Specialist Crafts: Polystyrene ring approx £1

If you like this check out my post on how to decoupage you own hand plates