Soul Food Studio

interior stylist

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

Wild, Romantic Shoreline Wedding Styled by Nancy Staughan

StylingAmanda Russell

When talented stylist Nancy Straughan puts her mind to a project you know it’s going to look stunning. With wedding season in full swing Nancy used her wealth of styling know how to create a beautiful otherworldly experience peppered with unexpected twists. Thinking outside the box stylist Nancy designed her take on the elegant romance of the Lady of the Lake combined with the raw passion of Wuthering Heights.


The first floor assembly room of The Drapers Arms a beautiful Georgian Islington pub is the ideal location for an intimate wedding venue. Here natural light streams in through the tall elegant sash windows, lighting up the duck egg blue room with its painted checkerboard floor, period fireplaces and dark bistro style chairs.


Elemental, the theme draws on a rich combination of bleached and watery tones combining them with a comprehensive collection of textures, from silks to twigs and coral, to fresh and dried flowers. To make her spell binding vision a reality she drew a group of skilled artisans around her, do check them out to see more beautiful work by them, details below.



The Drapers Arms


The People

Stylist, Nancy Straughan

Stationery, Paper Knots

Photography, Caro Hutchins

Flowers, Hazel Gardiner

Cake, My Little Cake Tin

Props, Re-Found Objects

Extra crockery Limehouse


Stoneware bottles, Soulfoodstudio

Calligraphy and signage by Hannah Watt

Embroidery by very talented friend, Olivia


If you like this post check out my post on Constance Spry Vases for Everyone

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