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

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell
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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.

https://www.pavilionbooks.com/book/mad-about-th

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

Kintsugi: The Glam Rock of Ceramic Repairs

CraftsAmanda Russell
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With its lush floral bouquet and wreaths, when my large blue and white transferware platter broke it was too special to throw away. A while before I was given a Kintsugi repair kit as a gift and my broken platter was the ideal candidate for a trial run of this technique.

The ancient art of Kintsugi, is the glam rock of ceramic repairs. This elegant method of repair was developed by the Japanese who believe a ceramic piece, once repaired is more beautiful than the formerly undamaged piece.

After repair the china will stand up to gentle use, clean by wiping over with a damp cloth. The platter is perfect for a huddle of plants, or to hold a selection of metze dishes or fresh fruit.

While gluing the pieces together an extra pair of helping hands can be useful to maneuver the china into place, particularly if they are large pieces.

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To get hold of your own Kintsugi Kit visit - https://humade.nl

1. Wash the broken china in warm soapy water to remove dirt and grease from the broken edges of the china, rinse and dry.

1. Wash the broken china in warm soapy water to remove dirt and grease from the broken edges of the china, rinse and dry.

2. Using a lolly stick mix together equal parts of the two part quick dry epoxy adhesive.

2. Using a lolly stick mix together equal parts of the two part quick dry epoxy adhesive.

3. Stir a small amount of the gold dust into the adhesive to colour it.

3. Stir a small amount of the gold dust into the adhesive to colour it.

4. Use the lolly stick to spread an even layer of gold adhesive along both broken edges of the china.  5. Wait a minute for the adhesive to start going off before bringing both halves together and then holding together firmly until the adhesive has set. Before the adhesive completely hardens brush over with gold dust.

4. Use the lolly stick to spread an even layer of gold adhesive along both broken edges of the china.

5. Wait a minute for the adhesive to start going off before bringing both halves together and then holding together firmly until the adhesive has set. Before the adhesive completely hardens brush over with gold dust.

6. When the adhesive is completely dry, bring a warm glow the gold adhesive by burnishing gently with a soft cloth.

6. When the adhesive is completely dry, bring a warm glow the gold adhesive by burnishing gently with a soft cloth.

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If you like this post check out my post on Envelope Notebook

Constance Spry Vases for Everyone

StylingAmanda Russell

With her innovative approach society florist Constance Spry brought bohemian vision
to floristry from the 30s beyond the 50s into the 60s. A visionary, her books on flower
arranging and cooking influenced a generation of 50s housewives. Much copied,
mantle vases in her style became a must have for every 50s homemaker hungry for
her look.

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Their cool and classic designs are perfect for making a bold statement, adding style
to any interior. The vases often come in a family of sizes, a different one to cater for
all your floral needs, short or long stemmed.

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Follow the 30’s society florist example and add more than just flowers. Extend a
bunch of market or garden flowers and make them altogether more interesting by
mixing in gnarly twigs for height, vine trails for waft, infill with garden foliage then add
flowers.

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Or generously plant up with a cushion of moss studded through with spring bulbs, or
fill to overflowing with fresh fruit, with bunches of grapes and summer stoned fruit.
Ring the changes by displaying it empty, as a stand alone sculptural piece. Your
imagination is the only limit to how you choose to style your vase.

When you’re looking for these vintage pieces expect signs of wear. More often than
not the surface of the glaze will have slight crazing and there will be scattered iron
spots on the interior, which add to the character of ceramics of this age.

If you are interested in seeing more, go have a look in my shop, where theres a big
selection.

Styling Interiors with Plants

StylingAmanda Russell
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Take your time and have fun styling with plants, here are a few tips to set you on your way.

  • Move plants around and give them a new spot so they don't look samey and static. Move them around and style up with a variety of hero objects, you might have a collection of pots, a favourite beach find or a treasure picked up on an adventure

 

  • Before you get cracking with the styling, first tidy up and clear your space. Remember beautiful styled images are about what's in front of the camera. You maybe very aware of the cluttered corner behind you, but so long as the view in the shot is clear, nobody else needs to be any the wiser. Tidying completed, gather together the pieces you have chosen to work with in one place.

 

  • To construct the narrative, choose plants of different heights, leaf shape and colour. Start to layer up the plants along with the hero object. The rich texture of green on green gives the hero a backdrop shine out from. Alternitively choose just one plant or a frond or leaf and display alone in a vintage ceramic vessel with a couple of shapely pieces. With space around, you will be able to observe the design and beauty of the plant and leaf construction.

 

  • Remember, be generous at all times. Try a variety of groupings, taking images as you go along a clear space where your hero sings in glorious isolation can have as much impact as a large curated collection.

 

  • Be brave, remember rules are there for breaking. Try a variety of groupings taking images as you go along. When you look back over them note how very slight changes to the styled arrangement can make a world of difference.

If you like this post check out my post on How to style your home using Sylvac Urns

Turn an old ladder into a contemporary Christmas tree

CraftsAmanda Russell
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I made this picture perfect tree out of an old ladder with near-on zero prep, using a coat of chalk paint to cover ancient paint drips and to create a matte finish.

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You will need-

  • Planed timber
  • Saw
  • Spirit level
  • Pencil
  • Drill
  • Screws
  • Crown Cloudburst matt emulsion paint, £11.99 for 2.5l, Maxwells DIY
  • Polyvine Chalk Paint Maker,  £11.36, Amazon
  • Paintbrush
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1. Put up the ladder and decide how steep you want the sides of the tree to be; you might have to remove the retaining cord. Mine was quite broad as I wanted to max out on the display area.

2. To make the back leg shelf supports, cut batten from 2.5cm x 5cm planed timber. With the spirit level balanced on the front step, extend the level line and mark where to locate the support batten on the back legs with pencil. Screw the battens in place.

3. These shelves projected 25cm beyond the edge of the step to give extra display space, but you could make yours shorter if you’d like. Decide on the length, then cut each shelf from planed wood. Screw in place on the front steps and back batten.


4. To make the chalk paint, mix 400ml Crown Cloudburst Matt Emulsion with 200ml Polyvine Chalk Paint Maker. Then, with a crosshatch strokes, paint the ladder Christmas tree and let dry before decorating.

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If you like this post check out my funky feather wreath post

Learn to create your own decoupaged hand plates

CraftsAmanda Russell

Who’d of thought charity shop find vintage plates could so easily be transformed into such elegant wall art. A really simple project, you will need an inkjet printer to make the transfer images. I found these gorgeous copyright free eighteenth century wood engraving designs for teaching hand language.

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You will need

Charity shop plates

Inkjet Water slide decal pack clear

Sponge

Acrylic spray

Copy right free images

Scissors

Instructions –   Select the images you want to use. Print them out in a variety of sizes, cut out using scissors then try them for size on the plates.  2. Follow the manufacturer instructions print the images onto decal paper, then spray with acrylic varnish. Apply a couple of coats covering the printing completely to seal, so it doesn’t break up in the water.  3. When the images are completely dry, cut out with scissors keeping close to the edge of the design. To help the images slide onto the plates sponge on a thin layer of water. Put the paper backed image into a bowl of warm water, leave for about 30 secs. Lift the edge of the image off one corner of the paper. Hold the image over the plate, gently curl the backing paper away and slide the image onto the plate. Use the sponge to pat out any bubbles or wrinkles in the image.  4. Leave til dry then mount in place on the wall using Command strips   Credits   Inkjet Water Slide Decal Pack clear: Specialist crafts LTD  Command Strip http: command.3m.co.uk  If you like this post check out my post on  how to turn and old ladder into a contemporary Christmas tree

Instructions –

Select the images you want to use. Print them out in a variety of sizes, cut out using scissors then try them for size on the plates.

2. Follow the manufacturer instructions print the images onto decal paper, then spray with acrylic varnish. Apply a couple of coats covering the printing completely to seal, so it doesn’t break up in the water.

3. When the images are completely dry, cut out with scissors keeping close to the edge of the design. To help the images slide onto the plates sponge on a thin layer of water. Put the paper backed image into a bowl of warm water, leave for about 30 secs. Lift the edge of the image off one corner of the paper. Hold the image over the plate, gently curl the backing paper away and slide the image onto the plate. Use the sponge to pat out any bubbles or wrinkles in the image.

4. Leave til dry then mount in place on the wall using Command strips

Credits

Inkjet Water Slide Decal Pack clear: Specialist crafts LTD

Command Strip http: command.3m.co.uk

If you like this post check out my post on how to turn and old ladder into a contemporary Christmas tree

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.

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You will need:

Turkey Quills in assorted colours

Polystyrene wreath form

Glue gun

Fishing line

Command Hook

Satay stick

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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

Create your own handmade Christmas decorations

CraftsAmanda Russell

This nifty little project making Christmas decorations, is one for people who have pets using old pet food containers. We are talking about those lightweight aluminium ones with a lip round them.

You will need:  Clean pet food containers  Patterned paper  Ribbon  Wooden picnic spoons  PVA glue  Paintbrush  Acrylic paint  Thin card  Clear sticky tape  Double sided tape  Acrylic paint  Felt tip pens pencil  Scissors   

You will need:

Clean pet food containers

Patterned paper

Ribbon

Wooden picnic spoons

PVA glue

Paintbrush

Acrylic paint

Thin card

Clear sticky tape

Double sided tape

Acrylic paint

Felt tip pens pencil

Scissors

 

Instructions:  First cover the inside of the container with the paper face down. Draw around the edge with a pencil. Take a pencil and extend the sideline of the square.  2. Cut out the paper cross shape. Fold the side arms in to crease the paper. Paint the reverse of the paper with a layer of PVA glue, put the paper into the tray, press the two shorter sides onto the tray, then press out the long sides onto the sides. Along the top edge of the tray cut deep nicks in the paper and wrap the paper over the edge to stick in place.  3. To cover the outside of the tray, take a contrast printed paper. Paper face down draw around the base of the tray, cut out square shape. Measure around the outside of the tray, add 1cm for overlap. Cut a strip of paper the measured length and 3cm wide. Paint with PVA glue then wrap around the tray cutting long nicks in the paper to ease around the curved corners, press the loose strips into place on the base, then glue the square of paper over to cover. Poor glitter onto a plate, paint the front edge of the tray with PVA and dip in glitter.  4. To make the portraits, if you like use scissors to trim the top of the spoon into a hairstyle, then paint the spoons with a base coat of white acrylic paint. While they are drying make the shoulders for the portraits. Cut a strip of thin card slightly narrower than the opening of the tray and about 2cm high, fold in half along the length then glue on printed paper.  5. Use acrylic paint to mix a variety of skin tone colours, paint the spoons. Leave to dry then use felt pens to draw on details. Use sticky tape to attach the portrait onto the shoulders. To keep the portrait in position cut a narrow support strut from thin card about 4cm long, fold in both ends by 1cm, then tape one to the reverse of a portrait. Stick the shoulders to the bottom edge of the tray with double sided tape and tape the end of the support strut to the back of the tray. With the point of the scissors make a hole through the top edge of the tray. Cut a length of ribbon and pass one end through the hole and tape in place.  If you like this check out my post on  making a star light canvas

Instructions:

First cover the inside of the container with the paper face down. Draw around the edge with a pencil. Take a pencil and extend the sideline of the square.

2. Cut out the paper cross shape. Fold the side arms in to crease the paper. Paint the reverse of the paper with a layer of PVA glue, put the paper into the tray, press the two shorter sides onto the tray, then press out the long sides onto the sides. Along the top edge of the tray cut deep nicks in the paper and wrap the paper over the edge to stick in place.

3. To cover the outside of the tray, take a contrast printed paper. Paper face down draw around the base of the tray, cut out square shape. Measure around the outside of the tray, add 1cm for overlap. Cut a strip of paper the measured length and 3cm wide. Paint with PVA glue then wrap around the tray cutting long nicks in the paper to ease around the curved corners, press the loose strips into place on the base, then glue the square of paper over to cover. Poor glitter onto a plate, paint the front edge of the tray with PVA and dip in glitter.

4. To make the portraits, if you like use scissors to trim the top of the spoon into a hairstyle, then paint the spoons with a base coat of white acrylic paint. While they are drying make the shoulders for the portraits. Cut a strip of thin card slightly narrower than the opening of the tray and about 2cm high, fold in half along the length then glue on printed paper.

5. Use acrylic paint to mix a variety of skin tone colours, paint the spoons. Leave to dry then use felt pens to draw on details. Use sticky tape to attach the portrait onto the shoulders. To keep the portrait in position cut a narrow support strut from thin card about 4cm long, fold in both ends by 1cm, then tape one to the reverse of a portrait. Stick the shoulders to the bottom edge of the tray with double sided tape and tape the end of the support strut to the back of the tray. With the point of the scissors make a hole through the top edge of the tray. Cut a length of ribbon and pass one end through the hole and tape in place.

If you like this check out my post on making a star light canvas

Styling your Dartmouth Flower Urns

Interior, StylingAmanda Russell
   
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    Pedestal vases were inspired by the 30s to the 50s ceramics designs of the international household name, high society florist, Constance Spry. The most popular designs were copied and reproduced in the 50s for the thousands of housewives who read her books. To style an interior treat as a stand alone gorgeous sculptural statement piece, or fill with grasses, flowers, trails and twiggery.

Pedestal vases were inspired by the 30s to the 50s ceramics designs of the international household name, high society florist, Constance Spry. The most popular designs were copied and reproduced in the 50s for the thousands of housewives who read her books. To style an interior treat as a stand alone gorgeous sculptural statement piece, or fill with grasses, flowers, trails and twiggery.

IMG_0007_1.jpg

If you enjoyed reading this blog post, why not read my post on How to style your home using Sylvac Urns

Bang on Trend Super Easy Picture Shelf

CraftsAmanda Russell

Have you ever marvelled at curated collections of pictures and wondered how you can move them about without damaging your walls? This great little picture shelf is the answer, use it to display your own curated collection of pictures, it’s easy to move them around again and again whenever you want to change the look.

You Will Need

  • Wood strip and beading
  • Brass picture hooks
  • White matt emulsion paint
  • Electric Drill Black and Decker
  • Rawl plugless screws
  • Panel pins
  1. Measure the wood strip and beading and use a saw to cut both pieces of wood to the same length.
  2. Place the beading strip in the centre of the wood strip.
  3. Hammer in position using panel pins.
  4. Paint with white emulsion.
  5. Screw the brass picture hooks on the back edge.
  6. Mark and drill holes for screws on the wall, then screw the shelf in place.

Tip

  • Paint the shelf with the same colour as the walls so it blends into the room

If you like this post why not take a look at How to create your own vintage letter

Book Review - Urban Pioneer: Interiors Inspired by Industrial Design by Sara Emslie

Book ReviewsAmanda Russell
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    Architecture Design by Manifold Architecture studio, Brooklyn, NY

Architecture Design by Manifold Architecture studio, Brooklyn, NY

How can I resist the new book by interior stylist that just arrived on my desk, Urban Pioneer: Interiors Inspired by Industrial Design. The pioneers, mostly designers and artisans have colonised and renovated exindustrial and non residential buildings where they combine work with living, to create a new urban lifestyle. They have thrown out the rules of traditional interiors and the newly emerged style reflects the remnants of the industrial past, generous windows letting in lots of light, metal finishes, exposed pipes and brick work. 

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    The canalside home and gallery of creative director, art dealer and location owner Mark Chalmers in Amsterdam  www.thegarageamsterdam.com  

The canalside home and gallery of creative director, art dealer and location owner Mark Chalmers in Amsterdam www.thegarageamsterdam.com 

The urban pioneer is a style that's in demand, we are all familiar with the open plan look of these large industrial spaces, flexible, less permanent and more mobile. The pioneers have licence to break the mould, be bold and take the opportunity to experiment, take risks while rethinking scale. The book examines twelve case histories, all individual, illustrating a variety of ways to design post industrial interiors.

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  The London home of Peter Wim

The London home of Peter Wim

While all the spaces have a strong sense of reflecting the anatomy of the building, pioneers adapt their space to their individual needs. And don't think it's all about the utillitarian, as this ultimately depends on where the pioneer chooses to draw the line. Some like to allow for domestic softening and flights of fancy. Amsterdam interior by designer James van der Velden has a spectacular lush wall painted in the manner of a classical artist.

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      Designer James van der Velden of Bricks Studio

 Designer James van der Velden of Bricks Studio

While the kitchen of graphic designer Anouk Pruim, is pared back, no frills, basic chic, reflected in salvedged utility used for furnishing the space. In the New York home of Houssein Jarouche my favourite, a vintage modern interior, has ecclectic kitchen cupboards that are boldly collaged with colourful graphic tape.

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  Designer James van der Velden of Bricks Studio, Amsterdam

Designer James van der Velden of Bricks Studio, Amsterdam

If you want to get that Urban Pioneer look, this book, packed with visual pointers will help you put together your own take on interiors inspired by industrial design.   

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    The New York home of Houssein Jarouche of  micasa.com.br  

The New York home of Houssein Jarouche of micasa.com.br