Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kimono Blossom

There is a whole lot of pretty going on in these stunning images featuring the new Designers Guild Kimono Blossom collection.
The delicate painterly patterns are inspired by Japanese watercolours.
Finely drawn floral designs feature magnolias, jacarandas and my favourite dahlias.
Soft but not wishy washy, the colour palette is fresh and uplifting. 
It feels airy and light.
Pinks and lilacs feature but so too do watery shades of aqua and eau de nil and cobalt blue.

Favourite details?
For me it's the linens - the very beautiful dip-dyed & softly tumbled Saraille, simple wide-width billowing Mazan stripes, & wonderful Brera linen checks & plains for upholstery, and all available in an amazing array of colours. They're soft, luxe and tactile, in that way that only linen can be.

How gorgeous is this contemporary version of a deep-button Chesterfield sofa?
Chalky white may not be so practical with a messy husband, kids and a dog. 
I'll have it in charcoal with multicoloured buttons please.

Amanda xx
(all images with permission Designers Guild)
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Monday, February 27, 2012

flowers in the house

I love it when Jane does one of her regular flowers in the house posts.
And while my little garden is still merrily producing dahlias, I actually feel that this month I have something to contribute.
Yep, it's all dahlias and mint around the house this week.
I love putting mint in with my flowers.
That lovely bright green foliage, and fresh fresh fragrance.
As fast as I pick it, it doubles in size.
And truthfully, there isn't a lot else in my garden.
Dahlias and mint all round then.
More floral fancies by way of my little old Carltonware spoons, 
which you can see framed in the background.

The vases aren't fancy.
Old bottles and jars are still my favourites.
And they seem to suit the dahlias, which are obviously, rather showy!

So Brunnel gets home today, after his long month away.
I hate to disappoint him, but usually after a trip away, even a short one, his favourite game is a bit like spot the difference. As in, how many new or 'new' old things has Amanda been able to sneak into the house during his absence.
My gosh, I think I'm most disappointed in myself, because I don't think this time he'll be able to find anything. Truly!! Talk about wasted opportunities!
The girls will be hoping his suitcase is hiding a few treats for them.
I'm sure it will. 
If I'm lucky there may even be a little trinket for me!

Happy 'flowers in the house' Monday. Make sure you pop over to Jane's blog to see how a pro does it!

Amanda xx

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

quick fix ~ patchwork cupboard

Ah yes, the beloved temple bar. 
So called because pre-renovation there was a lot of temple embellishment decorating
this cupboard, and not, as I know you were thinking, because Brunnel and I do a
lot of worshipping at this particular bar!
There was a lovely greekish feel to it - faux pillars and faux marble. 
Large temple shaped overmantle thing. Nasty 80's paint effects.

But removing the whole unit was going to cause much hassle, 
and replacing it entirely was outside the budget. 
Which brings us to the makeover.

The builders removed the pillars, and the huge temple overmantle.
Then we gladly painted over the buttery cream faux marble paint effects.
And replaced the handles with some nice knobs from anthropologie.
And then I had a little fun patchworking the inside with some wallpaper offcuts.

The patchwork was random, but carefully placed, if you know what I mean, and I used my favourite spray glue instead of wallpaper paste, but you could use either.
I think the key thing to using a mix of pattern like this is to limit the colour palette, and always anchor with a little black or white.
As tempting as it is to throw something else into the mix, the overall look is more harmonious because I restricted myself predominantly to chartreuse, pink & charcoal, with a little turquoise for good measure.
Start in the middle, and work out and around, balancing your colour and pattern as you go.

The result is a colourful surprise, every time I decide to visit the temple.
Which of course, is not often at all! I mean just look how empty it is!
Amanda xx

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Monday, February 20, 2012

the tween bedroom

Happy Monday everyone! Hope you've all had a lovely weekend. 
I've done battle long and hard with my poor brain and my new computer in order to get this post even remotely postable. I'm not sure it's getting any easier, and it sure is a steep learning curve. 
Now I just have to retain the little I've gleaned! (Not easy for my brain!)

Anyway, Milly has been quite keen to have her bedroom featured on the blog for some time now, and wondered why I hadn't taken any photos.
Quite simple really - tripping over the detritus on the floor, opening the wardrobe to an avalanche, not to mention the hidden stash behind the door, under the bed, on top of the desk... none of this particularly photogenic!
Sound familiar?
I thought so.
To be fair, moving back in has been fairly chaotic, and finding all her stored treasures no easy task.
Let alone finding new homes for everything. 
After all, this is the girl who collects library cards - over 500 now, and counting! 
However, with a little determination, and some selective photo angles, here is Milly's room, which she just loves, and considering she had a lot to do with how it all came together, is justifiably very proud of.

Milly is 12, and was definitely ready for a more grown up room.
She's quietly developing her own look, loves arranging and rearranging, and has definitely picked up her Mama's mantra that it's the mix not the match when it comes to interior style.
The wallpaper is Designers Guild Crayon, and this covers one huge wall, and if I do say so myself, looks stunning. Builders, plumbers, sparkies, painters, they all loved this when they saw it going up.

Yes, I do believe the magpie tendencies have also been passed along (!!!).
Alongside the library cards are the ribbons, the stationery, the rubbers, the button tins, and all the memorabilia that girls love to collect. The pinboard is a great way to 'contain' some of this, and is a lovely collection of tickets, photos and memories.
The vintage soft drink crates are back on the wall, and the beloved swing chair takes pride of place.

Actually the swing chair ended up dictating the whole of the room because there was only one place it could hang without falling out of the ceiling! Milly thinks the odd inconvenience is worth it.
The bedside table is an old meat safe, and hides a multitude of sins!
Clipboards from the $2 shop, mounted on the wall are an easy way to display and rotate art.
And we love our Rachel Castle pompom cushions and spotty pillowcases!

This room is a study in vibrant colour & clashing pattern, and proves that they can all work together in chaotic harmony!
I think that's pretty much everything a tween bedroom should be.

And, if you've found your way here via The Decorating Forum, welcome, and thanks for inviting me to participate this week. I hope you enjoy my blog.
Amanda xx

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

the knives are out

Yes, the knives are out. Though not in a bad way.
These are just some of my old kitchen paraphernalia. 
Yet another collection!
Though I confess that right now I would gladly like to take one or two and just slash something.
Or maybe I should just scream loudly.
Why the frustration?
Because I am such a technophobe!
Long story short...midway through last year Brunnel gave me a challenge.
Achieve some targets and goals for Small Acorns, jump through one or two hoops, and he would go me halves on a new laptop. A Mac to be precise.
Of course I leapt at the chance to get hold of his wallet, and I think everyone was quite sick and tired of hearing me complain about 'Lemon' 
(the name by which my existing laptop was fondly called).
So, targets achieved, I took Brunnel shopping, and ever so excitedly, 
came home with a new MacBook.
That was 3 weeks ago now.
And I've been too nervous to touch it until this week.
Why? Because I feel like the very uncool PC guy in those ads.
It's like suddenly having to talk in a foreign language.
Me: So, how do I transfer my files across from my PC?
Mac Guy: Oh so you get your blah blah external hard drive, format it to extra large fat 32 , migrate the transfer, kick the cow, so easy, yeah we could do it for you but so easy, just get the ram and the gigs and the sheep and the blah blah blah....
I just nodded blankly, sweating like pc guy, and thinking I may have just made a huge mistake. 
Come back Lemon, all is forgiven.
Anyway, this week I've plunged in.
I'm still at the deep end. Treading a lot of water.
Having a few problems. My files seem OK, once I figure how to 'Finder' them. My email is a nightmare. Don't talk about the blogging, or lack of it. Editing my images is a whole new ball game.
Learning on the job is slow. Those Dummies books were written for me.
But I've put Lemon away. I'm determined and stubborn.
One day I might feel cool enough to have a Mac. One day.

Any tips from my already-cool-enough-to-have-a-Mac blogging friends?
Amanda xx

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Monday, February 13, 2012

love is in the air

I know! I'm such a romantic.
Love is indeed in the air.
Here I was picking the dahlias for the store this morning, when cupid came wafting along and suggested I lay them all out in a heart shape.
Well, they do look so very pretty.
I hope you agree!
So, the girls and I will be celebrating Valentines together.
I have a wee treat for their lunch boxes, and I'll probably write an embarrassing note to pop in with it.
Brunnel is in India for a month.
I don't think Valentine's Day is on his agenda.
And no, to the best of my knowledge he is not having some sort of Eat, Pray, Love kind of mid-life crisis!
He tells me he is working hard, and managing to hold it all together,
in a regular kind of way, if you know what I mean.
That's a relief, believe me!
Everyone asks if I've given him a shopping list.
I tried. Let's just say it's probably better if he sticks to his day job.
He's good at that, and hopefully will do well enough to have his wife accompany him on the next trip!

I hope there is LOVE-liness aplenty for you all on Valentine's Day.

Amanda xx

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

a sneak peek to start the week

There are always a squillion reasons to get excited about the new season Designers Guild collections, and here's just one of them - this image is from the capsule Havana 'Unlimited' collection - a glorious mix of lively pattern and free-spirited colour inspired by Mexican folk art.
This morning I get to see all the new season collections, which, for me, is a dizzying prospect.
The brochures have been whetting my appetite for the last few weeks, but there is nothing quite like getting ones hands on the actual fabrics! And once again Designers Guild have outdone themselves. It's a huge collection launch. No wonder they've been named 'Best British Brand' for the second year running in the Elle Decoration 'British Design Awards'.
Time to pop a flower in my hair and start playing!

Amanda xx

(Image used with the permission of Designers Guild)
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Friday, February 3, 2012

happy weekend & a bit about me

I've had a bit of a love affair with homemade icecream over the summer.
Inspired by some gorgeous styling over on my favourite foodie blog What Katie Ate, where Katie presented her lovely icecream in an old tin.
These tins were dime a dozen when I was little. Mum recycled them in her pantry.
We used them to store lego. Dad had them in his shed.
When I enquired if they still had any the answer was a resounding 'no'.
Yes, I know exactly what you mean, both parents said. But no, we got rid of those years ago.
Undeterred I went through Dad's shed myself.
He was right. No tins of interest. A few other treasures which I quickly rescued, but no icecream tin.
Mum thought that perhaps if any had survived they might be 'at the top of the linen cupboard'.
That's code for 'anything and everything might be up there, including several dead spiders, several very much alive spiders, not a lot of linen but a whole lot of rubbish'.
The quest for the tin was strong. I had to get over the spider fear and get into the top of the cupboard.
No mean feat!
But it was worth it! One lone tin had survived the cull.
I claimed it. Made icecream and proudly brought it to the table in the tin.
I could tell my friends were being polite. I think they wondered if the icecream was as old as the tin.
I reassured them that it hadn't just been dredged out of Mum's freezer.
(Stranger things have happened in that freezer!)
My brother told me to stop pinching things from our parents place.
That's only because he wished he'd got to the tin first!!

On another note, lovely Wellington interior designer Charlotte Minty has cajoled me into featuring on her blog today. I was feeling OK about answering her interview questions until
a) I saw the calibre of some of those previously profiled, and
b) she asked for a profile photo of moi.
I think if you go take a look you'll understand why I use Eva's flattering portrait instead!
But have a lovely poke around Charlotte's blog while you're there.
She always finds something new and captivating, and her aesthetic shines, which is why she has such a wonderful reputation as a designer.

Happy weekend!
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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

the ultimate check list

The girls went back to school today.
Am I a terrible parent for cheering?
They've had the most wonderful time at the beach, but a little routine and order wouldn't go astray.
Not to mention going to bed at least an hour (or two) earlier.
Milly is a very organised soul. We joke that she's bordering on obsessive compulsive.
She has a 'morning check list' that says things like 'get dressed', check, 'eat breakfast', check. The clothes are laid out the night before & she's up and at 'em. 
Forget something and it throws a spanner in her works.
Eva is the total opposite. The sort that looks at breakfast and thinks it looks pretty. Sings a song and still thinks breakfast is just for looking at.
Would forget her head if it wasn't screwed on.
Thus, our kitchen blackboard is my organisational life-saver.
When I first saw this idea several years ago on stylist Marie Nichols' website I knew I had to somehow make it a reality in my kitchen.
And, the result is this huge blackboard wall, with a calendar grid in the middle.

Each month I write everything up, and note the far too many activities that my children seem to be involved in. Add in a husband who travels a lot, and my own pathetic social life, and the calendar seems to fill up fast. (Actually I'm the only one who barely features - even Bruno the dog has a grooming appointment!)
The joy for me is that everything is there in a glance. So hopefully we will remember the PE gear on Tuesday and the music on Thursday etc etc. The shopping list goes on the other end of the wall too.
Once a month it all gets rubbed out and updated. 

From a how-to perspective, my wall is about 6 metres long by almost 4 metres high. I made myself a template for the grid and marked the whole thing out on the wall using a pencil and a level. The lovely people at Porters Paints mixed me up four different shades of charcoal grey, and I painted one colour at a time ie all the lightest grey one night, then the next and so on. The squares for each colour were all masked very carefully! Painting the bulk of the wall was last.

It's the ultimate check list!
Amanda xx
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