English style

the grove cottages uk

The good people at The Grove Cottages UK began following me on Twitter recently, so I decided to have a click over to their web site for a look-see. And then I nearly fainted. What appeared before my eyes were a couple dozen of the most charming historic holiday properties in Suffolk and Essex. Aged wood beams, wood burning stoves, deep squishy sofas, four-posters, picket fences -- places made for writing a novel, drinking copious amounts of tea and wearing giant cashmere cardies and thick slipper socks. My favourite is Bromans Barn on Mersea Island.

I'm crazy for a barn conversion. This one has all the primitive charm of a barn but the intimate scale of a cottage - best of both worlds.

Utterly lovely kitchen. I think I'd be inspired to make sticky toffee pudding here. Perfect breakfast table for two. Sticky toffee pud and tea for breakfast! Oh, and the place has it's own organic veggie and herb gardens, so lots of healthy stuff at hand too, if you run out of pudding.

Just what's needed for a quiet evening, and not a spec more. Toile draperies, j'adore.

True romance. No fuss.

The Mersea Island coast. Reminds me of Prince Edward Island - no wonder I love it. They even have oysters.

I am currently imagining what I'd pack, what music I'd listen to, which poetry books I'd bring...

ps. while my Lulu would never be able to make the trip over, I appreciate any hospitality operation with a pet-friendly policy -- kindred spirits.

links: The Grove Cottages. Bromans Barn.


when george met raoul

When you think George Smith do you think of tobacco leather chesterfields, claret velvet tufted chairs and kilim-wrapped ottomans all with a faint whiff of cognac and old money? Think again. The upholsterer synonymous with classic English style and the heavy textiles that go with has teamed up with Raoul Textiles to offer an exclusive range of fabric choices to George clients. Oh my, a serious case of the wants....

style icon: lulu guinness

Back when I worked at a fashion and beauty mag I had the chance to meet and interview Lulu Guinness. Well, where to begin? It was a talent and style crush from the outset. Her sense of humour, designs, elegance, the to-die-for spread on her place in an issue of ELLE Decor, her glamorous and privileged life in London. I didn't just love her, I wanted to BE her. I have considered her a personal style icon since. So, imagine my delight when I opened an e-mail today to find these lovely images, sent to me by my contact at IPC, the company that publishes Living Etc. Swoonsville!


At the risk of sounding like a complete obsessive freak, I discovered in the article that Lulu and I share a couple of passions: IKEA and diet coke. Two things about her that don't resonate with me: 1. she smokes. 2. she is divorced. Now, she is divorced from Valentine Guinness, he of one of the wealthiest families in the UK. So financially speaking, that can't be too bad for her. But I am a hopeless romantic and my heart breaks at the thought of a marriage split. 

Funny thing is that when I look at these rooms and the rooms I am currently designing for my own home, well, they couldn't be more different. But there's still a part of me that longs for a violet linen settee, pink walls and, most of all, a townhouse in Notting Hill.

Oh yes, and last but not least, I named my girl after her, meet my Lulu:(Don't tell Ms. Guinness, but I think her K9 namesake bears some resemblance -- petite, feisty, raven-coloured short hair, likes to wear red, possesses a bit of French flair.)

cool britannia!

My anglomaniacal tendencies. First Claudia at The Paris Apartment posted this:

Then the July 29 post about the anniversary of the wedding of Charles and Diana at The Adventures of Tartanscot here....

It all got me thinking about my inexplicable love of all things English -- and in particular the Union Jack. Here's a celebration.

Cute stuff from Jan Constantine -- available at Selfridges.

A wicked chaise in a photo by James Merrell.









Super fun goods from Notonthehighstreet.com. What could be more perfect than Union Jack egg and tea cozies?








Victorian chairs get a mod spin with flag fabrics - you just can't do that with the Canadian flag. Above left: Henry Road. Above right: Melanie Porter.

A Paul Smith wallhanging - everything he does rocks, Tara Bernerd cushion and the excellent effed up flag rug by the fabulous Vivienne Westwood -- all from The Rug Company.

And lastly...quintessential mod style brought to you by music and style icon Paul Weller (he even had his own line of shoes once) and Carnaby Street hot shop The Merc...