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.


designers i admire: catherine memmi

It must be said that I am not, nor will I ever be, a minimalist. I love shopping too much. I love objects with history and meaning and shape. I like to tell stories with accessories. But sometimes a little palate-cleansing is in order. At those times I can really fall for an utterly uncluttered room. Here's one. Isn't it quite a remarkable hotel room? It's the Hôtel Grèges in Fukuoka, Japan, designed by French designer Catherine Memmi. I first learned of her through Met Home several years ago. Here aesthetic is Jean-Michel Frank-meets-Donald Judd. Incredibly restrained but somehow still inviting. Her look would go perfectly in my fantasy barn-by-the-beach -- just add giant stone fireplace, a cashmere throw and linen slippers. Perfection. 


red barn

O period M period G period! This place is calling my name. If you've been reading, you know I have a dream beach barn (remember that post here). Today I found it in real life. Voila.

Here's the description:

Fantastic waterfront property with gorgeous views of the ocean & sand dunes or watch the fishing boats sail by. This is a property where dreams can come true with 1.43 acres of sloping clear land fronting on a saltwater the rest here

Meanwhile, here are some more prepared to swoon!

Just look at that view! So, um, can anyone spare $115K?

ina's barn

Still fantasizing about my barn by the beach (see May 22 blog post). I think it might look a little bit like this on the inside. This is Ina Garten's barn designed by Robert Stilin and it appeared in House Beautiful.

Love both of them and love HB. Am sad that I won't get to see the HB Kitchen of the Year this summer in NYC since both of them are working on it. Last year's Christopher Peacock kitchen was loverly! This year at HB kitchen time I won't be anywhere near NYC. Instead I'll be in PEI. No complaints there -- am already counting the days! Man, summers are so busy for us magazine types -- I already have every week between now and end of Sept accounted for and booked with something or other.

Have you toured the Ethan Allen web site lately? I've been spending some time there and I found another dream house. My petit salon of readers will know that I found my dream house already (see May 1 blog post here). But this one will be my dream beach house -- er -- beach barn. Outside, grey and weathered. Inside, a giant open space with giant white slipcovered sofas, a massive fireplace, wing chairs, a sleek modern kitchen, loft bedrooms...maybe someday...