Inspire Me – with Interior Designer Sophie Robinson

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Have you ever wondered how an interior designer balances an interior design career and home life … along with tv presenting, interior styling and running colour courses.

Well, I have a little interview here with Sophie Robinson whom you may well know as a judge on BBC2s Great Interior Design Challenge and home expert on ITV’s This Morning –  who can fill you in on just how she achieves all of the above.

I’m a fan of Sophie’s work so it is a real pleasure to be featuring her here today on ‘ Inspire Me’ … 

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Was it always your plan to become an interior designer ?

I was always passionate about doing up my bedrooms as a young kid and that quickly spread to other rooms in the house. My mum is hugely creative and that really had a positive impact on me. She was also really encouraging and gave me free reign to design my bedroom and help with other areas too. She really nurtured my creativity and gave me confidence. She did such a good job that my brother Edward Robinson is an interior stylist too !

You’ve just moved in to a lovely new house. What made you fall in love with it and is this your forever home ? 

Yes I think it will be our forever home. We’ve been working hard and saving like mad to get here. It’s a four-bedroom farmhouse in the Sussex country and we have 5 acres of paddock and garden, then surrounded by 100acres of ancient woodland so yes- it’s pretty dreamy ! The house however is a bit charmless so my husband, who’s conveniently a builder, and myself are going to really relish the design. The house isn’t listed so we’re hoping we can really release our creativity on it. We’re up for a big remodel !

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There are some fabulous colour trends this year – are you working with them a lot ?

Colour trends come and go and I’m always fascinated to know what they are but as a devout colour lover I’m never greatly swayed. Over years I’ve developed my own colour palette and I like to work with that. However I love the way trends can shake me out of a style rut and encourage me to try something new.

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The ultimate question – what is your favourite colour ?

Neon pink. That was hard.

When working with clients on their home designs – do you help people develop their style or do most people already know what they are looking for?  

Some people have a very strong idea of what they like and others don’t have a clue. The true skill of an interior designer is to draw out the individual’s style and taste and then make it work in their home. 

How did you get in to television presenting ?

It’s pure luck ! My first job was on ITV’s 60 minute makeover and one of the researchers went to Art College with my brother and invited me to screen test. I find in this industry it’s really important to make good connections with everyone you meet, and do a good job. Being self employed you’re only ever as good as your reputation. One of the directors on 60 MM was, almost 10 years later, casting for judges on GIDC and put my name in the pot.

Can you pick a favourite room from the many you have judged on the Great Interior Design Challenge ? 

No !
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Do you find it easy to balance work and home life? If so, please do tell us how … ? :)

No I do not. It’s a nightmare. After filming three series with loads of time away from home and moving house and having an incredibly busy first 6 months of this year I’ve decided to take a break. My health was suffering and it’s not worth it. So I’m taking the school summer holidays off to spend with my son and nest in my new home. Sometime you have to honour the power of No and get some control back. I think watching your children grow up has to be the most important thing. Although I love my career so don’t panic, I’m not going anywhere, just dialling it down for a bit.

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You’re currently working with This Morning and Good Morning Britain on ITV, offering ideas for home makeovers. 

Yes that has been great fun. Live TV is very different to pre-recorded stuff. The amount of work and organizing that goes into 5 minutes of live broadcast is insane ! But the This Morning crew are just so delightful as are Holly and Phil.

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As well as working with clients and presenting (and of course being a Mum), you also run courses. Who would you recommend them for ?

I run Interior Design Master classes with Daniel Hopwood, which are a great day for anyone who’s passionate about interiors. Our guests include people who’d like to go into it as a career or maybe currently studying. Then there are plenty of people who are doing up their own home and are looking for ideas and knowledge and also people who want a lovely day out and a nice lunch ! I also run courses on Colour, which is a more hands on, and creative workshop with ideas to update your home or your wardrobe. There are more dates coming up in the autumn and you can book on our Eventbrite page.

What is the best bit of advice you can give to any budding interior designers or presenters ? 

If you want to become an interior designer you need training. In today’s professional market interior designers have high levels of qualifications and computer skills. If you want to set up your own company rather than work for someone else, you’ll need not only interior design but also business training. It’s a very competitive industry and you need grit to make it ! As for becoming a TV presenter, that’s much harder to orchestrate. I’d aim to becoming the best in your field, make sure you are visible on social media so that when casting directors are looking for new talent, your profile sticks out. It probably would be a good idea to do YouTube videos too. Then make sure you have another career to fall back on, as TV is notoriously fickle !

We’re already in August (wow !) – what do you have planned for the rest of 2016 ? 

I’ve been flat out for the first part of this year so I’m going to take it easy over the summer. I’ve just started working with a business coach and my focus is growing my brand and my social media platforms so I can have the enviable life of flexible working hours, where and when I like ! While continuing to inspire people to get creative in their own spaces by sharing all the know-how I’ve accrued over the years. Watch this space !

Thanks, Sophie. Fantastic advice regarding the world of television  – and your love of colour is truly inspiring. 

If you’re interested in Sophie and Daniel’s courses – then do click on that link. I rather fancy it myself.  You can also follow her Youtube channel here and her lovely colourful instagram page here.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this interview with Sophie – do leave a comment or tweet me @lucylovesyablog with your thoughts and also what colour combinations work for you in your home ? 

Have a good one.

Lucy x

Image credits: 1. Luca Sage. 2,3,4, 5 & 7 by Alan Callender. 6 by Sophie Robinson.

Chilling Our Boots with a Homemade Raspberry & Choc Ice Cream Recipe

Raspberry & Choc Ice Cream

It’s still very much trial and error with my attempts to grow fruit and vegetables in the garden. We’re enjoying it though. My friend Lou told me that raspberries grow easily so of course I rushed out and bought a plant last year – and she was right. They do.

Hoe Grown Raspberries

Betsey loves them and there’s nothing nicer than popping outside and helping ourselves to a few organic raspberries – and I seriously don’t want to waste any of them. In fact, I’d go as far to say that I’m obsessed with not wasting anything that we’ve grown. It tastes so good and we’ve spent so long nurturing everything. I probably sound like that lady with the dungarees from the 70s sitcom ‘ The Good Life ‘  – but we have a long way to go before we have pigs roaming in the garden.

Home Made Ice Cream

Anyway, we decided that as we have practically been melting in the heat this week it would be a good time to use our new ice cream maker and try out our own simple recipe for raspberry and dark chocolate ice cream with fresh mint. As we have sampled it and like it a lot..  ( it’s so intensely fruity ) – thought you might like it for yourself ? You don’t actually need a machine to make this but if you do have one  – saves a little bit of time. It’s really quick and easy.

Ice Cream RecipeIce Cream Recipe on Lucy Loves Ya

Ingredients.

1 and a half cups of raspberries.

200 ml  extra thick double cream.

75 g white sugar.

40 g dark chocolate chopped into small pieces.

1/ 4 teaspoon of vanilla bean extract.

a few sprigs of fresh mint to decorate.

Method.

Puree 1 cup of raspberries and chop most of the other ones in to little pieces – adding them a bit later in to the ice cream mix for texture and also save a few for topping.

Add the sugar, chopped raspberries and vanilla extract to the puree and mix together. Then add the chocolate, saving a few pieces back. Place the mixture in the fridge to cool for 30 mins.

Next put it on the ice cream maker or mix steadily until the consistency has thickened a little. Pour it in to a bowl suitable for the freezer and then sprinkle the last few bits of chocolate over the top.

Pop it in to the freezer, ideally over night but for at least 4 hours. You have ice cream !

Raspberry ice cream recipe

To serve  – add a few fresh mint leaves and raspberries to the top – it looks nice and colourful but also adds lovely flavour.

If you try it out – hope you enjoy it – do let me know how you get on ?

Have a good one.

Lucy x

Three Bedroom Moodboards for a Makeover

Pinks & Blues Moodboard

Apologies for the radio silence these last few weeks here on my blog. I have been updating my social media but have had this weird virus so the energy levels have been a little low. However – feeling loads better now.

Enough of that though … on to brighter things.

A new look bedroom is on the horizon. In fact, I’m not sure you’ve ever seen my bedroom before but you will once it has had a little makeover. My mind has been buzzing with possibilities. I know for sure that I want to change the flooring from carpet to wood. I think it will make the room feel more in keeping with the style of the house. We have wooden floors downstairs too so as long as we have some good felt underlay underneath it will be soundproof and add more character to the room. In the long term it will be more practical too.

Realising how important the floor will be to the overall scheme, I have teamed up with flooring brand Quick-Step who are leaders in their field, to discuss how my final choice of floor will impact on the look and feel of the bedroom.

I have lots of Quick-step samples to choose from as they manufacture all sorts of trend-lead flooring including luxury vinyl, hardwood and laminate – However, for my bedroom, and we are going for their hardwood collection which is in fact engineered wood flooring, which comes with many benefits. It looks fantastic and also offers the same appearance of solid wood due to its real wood top layer. It’s very easy to install which is good, plus it’s hardwearing and easy to look after – which is just what we need. Our local flooring fitter has also given it the thumbs up, so I’m sold and looking forward to getting started.

Next comes the ideas for colours and textures. Still in the early stages but I have had some fun picking out my favourite samples and seeing what palettes might work with them. Quick-Step has a huge selection to suit everyone’s taste, from trend leading greys and whites, to more traditional browns and golden tones, so I wasn’t short on choice.

Bedroom Boudoir.

The first one above is from the ‘ Compact range ‘. I like the idea of similar coloured floors to downstairs so that it flows well from room to room. It also means that they can be painted if we ever decide to.

Pink & Blue Moodboard

The soft shades compliment it and hopefully give a restful and feminine feel ( sorry, Andy ).

Blue & Pink Moodboard Close Up

I think the colours would be more in the bedding with white walls. A stronger turquoise to pull it all together and a little splash of gold to add warmth and a bit of opulence. :)

 

Green 7 Yellow Moodboard

Green and Serene… Almost.

Yellow is very much on trend at the moment but I love it all the time whether it is or isn’t. Of course in a bedroom you don’t necessarily want too much as it is a stimulating colour but
maybe a chair covered or an art print or two will make it cheery and lovely to wake up to. Some earthy green  – maybe a plant or I can make some blinds with botanical prints. Gentle pinks always seems to sit nicely alongside these two colours.

Green Yellow Moadboard

The white washed floor is Quick-Steps’  Castello ‘ range and I really love it. With white walls it will make a very light and peaceful room. You can see the grain of the wood still which is really appealing too.

Green & Yellow Moodboard

What do you think of this colour – way ? I’d love to find a vintage style brass lamp to complete the look.

Beach Hut Moodboard Inspiration

Beside the Seaside.

Obviously a seaside inspired room was going to make its way on to my blog wasn’t it ? If not for Andy and I  then it would suit one of the girls’ rooms.

Beach Hut Moodboard Textures

I think the rustic feel of the wooden flooring here also helped to conjure visions of stripes and pastel hues. It is from the ‘ Imperio ‘ range at Quick-Step and is described as ‘ rough white oak ‘  – the texture is lovely to touch.

Beach huts and rainbow colours always remind me of fun family days so it would be a happy haven to retreat to.

A striped duvet set or some wallpaper would definitely add a coastal element.

Beach Hut Moodboard

Blue and white is probably the most popular combination but I don’t think I would be able to resist the odd pop of yellow or pink – or both.

So now the big question  – which is your favourite – or do you have your own idea of what would look good ? Do leave me a comment or tweet me @lucylovesyablog. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Keep your eyes peeled for the finished bedroom – and in the meantime I also have an updated design area nearly finished too ..

Lucy x

This is a collaboration with Quick-Step. All opinions are my own.

Sweetpea & Willow – 10 Year Anniversary …

Sweetpea & Willow Lansdown 3 seater sofa in Azure velvet from £3290, Eicholtz Asscher nickel coffee table £1495 (4)

Today I want to share with you,  some rather gorgeous pieces of furniture. I’ll start with this one because, as I think I’ve said it before – my favourite colour is turquoise or in this case ‘ Azure ‘.  It looks so inviting in this room and it might just be be because those seat cushions are extra deep for comfort.

The Landsdowne Modular Sofa and all the other pieces on this post are from Sweetpea & Willow who are actually celebrating their 10th Anniversary this year. You may well know of them already – they have a huge showroom in London as well as an online store. They are a name that I am familiar with for good quality, high end french furniture and home and garden accessories and I love their ” Handmade in London ” section.

I have noticed that they evolve along with the trends and colour palettes of each year but always know their own style and do it really well.

Sweetpea & Willow Vintage Rose Berkley collection armchair ú1495, antique mercury glass lamp ú195, Eicholtz connor side table ú1195 (7)

Vibrant pink and gold. I’m sold. The Vintage Rose Berkley armchair here with its deep buttons and fixed studs is dreamy. It’s designed and made by Sweetpea & Willow with responsibly sourced hardwood frames. It comes in different fabrics and sizes from the armchair all the way up to a 4 seater.  Really, really like this and am now wondering how I can make it appear in my living room sometime soon. Hmm. Funnily enough I have been looking for a new standing lamp and this one is great for reading.

 

Sweetpea & Willow Bancroft 3 seater sofa in silver from ú2980, Bancroft armchair in silver from ú1580, Bancroft footstool in silver from ú685Sweetpea & Willow Bancroft armchair in silver from ú1580 (2)More neural tones for a tranquil space, with these pieces from Sweetpea & Willow and some splashes of dramatic hues. My eyes are drawn straight in to that lovely glass Eichholtz tray.

Sweetpea & Willow St Jorges Bed in Platinum fromú2265 (kingsize) (4)

I’m not sure that I would ever leave this St Jorge Bed. I think if choosing a fabric I would have it made up in the cotton but you can also get it made in silk ( wow ) linens and velvets ( double wow ). A bed is usually the centre piece for a bedroom and something we don’t change regularly so – it’s important to have one that you love getting in to. After all we spend about 26 years of our life sleeping, apparently.

Sweetpea
  1. Jonathan Charles Artanis Four Shelves Unit. 2. Columbo Desk Lamp. 3 Double Jeu Opiat Cushion  4. Gold Good Vibes Only Picture 5. Gold Top Pineapple Jar 6. Barbara Bronze Chair 7. True Grace Black Lili Candle 8. Golden Base Viola Vase 9. Alexandra Side Table 10. Eichholtz Mirror Cheyenne

Here is my wishlist on some current Sweetpea & Willow items. As you can see – I’m all about the gold at the moment. It adds warmth to a room but is super glamorous too. I’ve always been a huge fan of tropical prints and interiors and glad to see they have a selection of luscious pineapple products including the jar .. but do check out their book ends too. I will definitely be buying the ‘ Good Vibes Only ‘ picture.. I think it says it all for a happy home.

How do you like Sweetpea & Willow’s style ? I recommend checking their garden ranges out too …

 … and are you with me on the Wishlist ? Leave me a comment under this post or tweet me @lucylovesyablog …

Lucy x

This is a collaboration with Sweetpea & Willow. All opinions are my own.

Palms Trees, A Sri Lankan Monkfish Curry Recipe and Coconuts.

The Elephant Stamp Napkins

After the last curry recipe here on my blog, I figured another one might go down as well. You all seemed to like it and the feedback I received was ace.

Thankfully my clever Dad was very happy to oblige and came up with a recipe for a Sri Lankan style curry and let me tell you – it is good. I ate it all and then scraped the plate clean at the end.

I also thought it would be a great opportunity to try out my lovely new napkins and matching cushions. They’re really tropical and match the curry theme perfectly, don’t you think ?

If you don’t know of them already – I’d like to share a bit of background info about The Elephant Stamp who I received my Safomasi tropical textiles from –   and then I will move on to the recipe and a tasty non alcoholic cocktail too.

Monkfish Curry

If you love homeware that has a story to tell then The Elephant Stamp online store will be right up your street.

They personally selects all of their homeware designs by global brands. The printed illustrations are inspired by places such as Devon, The Netherlands but then further afield in Kerala ( I have a feeling this is where my napkins and cushion print inspirations are taken from ) and they even have hand embroidered items from Women Artisans in Mexico. All very beautiful.

Elephant Stamp Cushion

The Elephant Stamp’s aim is to connect us to the maker of each piece and to understand the origin –  which also will helpfully enable them to carry on making their carefully, well made products for a long time to come … Which is good news for us all.

They sell some beautiful throws that I am sorely tempted by. Do check them out.

Sri Lankan Curry

Now on to the Sri Lankan Monkfish Curry recipe.

If you’d like to give it a go then here is what you will need. This should serve 4.

1 kilo Monkfish – diced, skinned and de – boned.

Turmeric powder.

1 red onion – thinly sliced.

2 tablespoons groundnut oil ( you could use sunflower oil instead )

3 medium sized tomatoes – well chopped.

1 teaspoon seasalt, 1 crushed garlic clove, 1 teaspoon grated root ginger, chilli flakes, ground cumin seeds, ground black pepper seeds, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 inch cinnamon stick, handful fresh curry leaves, 1 tablespoon of tamarind water ( you can find this online or in some supermarkets )

1 litre –  coconut milk.

1 lime.

Rice – enough for 4 people.

Coriander, extra lime pieces and 1 grated coconut to garnish.

NB: Keep the shell of your coconut for serving your cocktail  – you will need 6 ice cubes, coconut milk ( you will already have enough from the carton from the curry recipe )  and 3 mugs of fresh pineapple juice.

 

Monkfish Curry Recipe copy

Method

Marinate the monkfish in a light powdering of turmeric for 10 minutes and then set aside.

Heat the oil gradually and then add the onion and fry until soft. Add the tomatoes and fry together with the onion until well blended. Now add the salt, crushed garlic clove, grated root ginger, chilli flakes, ground cumin seeds, ground black pepper seeds and sugar. Also the add the cinnamon stick plus a handful of fresh curry leaves  and a level tablespoon of tamarind water. Stir well  before adding a full mug of coconut milk and stir well until all well mixed together.

Now introduce the marinated monkfish and cook gently for for only a few minutes until it is tender. Finally add the juice of one squeezed lime.

If you are cooking this to eat with rice – prepare and boil the rice ready to co – ordinate with the curry being ready to eat.

Monkfish Sri Lankan Curry

Plate up your meal and then dress with coriander, extra lime pieces and some grated coconut.

Pina Colada

All you need now is a refreshing drink to have with your curry – so blend the ice cubes or crush if you don’t have a blender with the coconut milk and pineapple juice  and serve in the left over coconut shells. Add some straws  – and you’re away !

Pina Colada Non Alcoholic

Hope you enjoy this recipe by my Dad, if you do try it out –  and love my new napkins and cushions from The Elephant Stamp as much as I do ?

Any questions or comments – leave me a comment under this post and I will get right back to you.

Have a good one.

Lucy x

The cushions and napkins were gifted to me by The Elephant Stamp. All opinions are my own.

 

#InspirationIsColour – Latest Gallery of Pictures

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Left to right: @artistmeetsmother @jessrose1702 @fifi.and.florence @mcv96 @rachel_tattered_rose @oandystudio @thesilverfactory @hellopartyinsta @oldfashionedsus

This time choosing pictures to display here from the #InspirationIsColour gallery on Instagram was even harder.

I started a while ago thinking that it would be good to hook up with the colour lovers around the world, which has happened but I never thought there would be so many shades of different colours, each week. So many creative photographers out there, having fun with their Instagram accounts.

These posts will be made a bit more regular as I was looking through images since my last blog post and there were lots and lots, most definitely worthy of featuring here on my blog. In fact, I am honoured to.

#InspirationIsColour 2

Left to right @abookishbaker @pixieconceptstore @silverpebble2 @idontcrampmystyle @zoepower @potterandbloom @natasha_nuttall @lottie_storey @hannahberridgeceramics

As I always say to my daughters, art is a subjective thing – and that is why I love Instagram so much. We all have a different take on colour, art and style.

I especially love to see people showcasing their own handy work in photos – what  do you enjoy the most ? Of course, if you follow me – @lucylovesyablog on instagram you will know that I am pretty partial to sharing a colourful home and a brightly painted beach hut also.

#InspirationIsColour 3

Left to right: @rachelandhercoffee @anna.moraissoares @stylophileuk @_amanda_design @capetowngirl12 @miafleur_home @rebeccadesnos @jennamichellepink @mollyandtheprincess

All of the accounts featured are well worth checking out.  What’s interesting is that I know now who the photographer is of an #InspirationIsColour photo before I even click on it – which shows how unique we all are !

Do add your pictures on Instagram if you fancy it. It’s a great way of finding each other on there and I hope I can add one of your pics to a gallery here on Lucy Loves Ya soon.

Have a good one.

Lucy x

How to Make a Colourful Terrarium

Terranium

It has been a manic weekend. A good one none the less. More on that at the end of this post … :)

As it has been half term this week just gone, we spent a bit of time making things. Now the girls are that bit older – things like play doh and colouring in don’t really cut the mustard so much.

So, I thought it was about time, as they are always admiring the succulent collection in our home, that they made their own terrariums. We have some glass sweetie bowls left over from the wedding a few years ago so these are perfect   – just needed the contents for the inside.

I’ve written a little tutorial because it was really fun and thought it might be useful if anyone is thinking of making one for themselves. It’s really easy and at the end of it you have something colourful and easy to look after. Honestly, if I can keep these plants alive – anyone can !

Adding Stones

You will need:

A glass terrarium or something that resembles one. Even a large used jam jar will do the trick.

Some medium sized stones from the garden or wherever you can find them. Depends on the size of the glass container – if it’s small then smaller stones.

We have also used 1 bag of colourful ( of course ! ) aquarium gravel  – you can use this or plain if preferred.

1 bag of suitable terrarium soil – we used one with added charcoal to keep it fresh  – I found some online.

1 bag of terrarium moss.

Several plants ( that will depend on how many you need ) They will need to be suitable for your type of terrarium. Check on this before buying.

Fun bits to decorate the plants. Whatever you fancy !  ( Optional ).

Tongs if you have a slim glass terrarium – to add your decoration at the end.

Some succulent scissors to keep the plants looking fabulous for the future.

All of this should make you at least two terrariums, dependant on the sizes.

 

Adding Stones Terranium Stones

First – add the bigger stones to the base of the terrarium. Then add in the gravel and mix it up together. As these are coloured I wanted that to be a feature so we added quite a lot but less is fine if preferred.

The ratio can either be same stones as soil or 1/3 stones and 2/3 soil.

Then put in the soil and make holes for the plants that you will put in next.

Potting the Succulent Plant in

Make sure you make enough room to plant them and then pop them in to the soil. Ensure  you look after the roots while removing them from their plastic pots and don’t pull them away from the plant by mistake.

Adding Moss to Terrarium

Once they are in – pat the soil all around so it is firmly in place and then grab some moss and pull it apart before applying it all around the plants. Pat it in. so that it is below them.

Lego Friends!Succulents

Add your decoration. We chose some of lego friends and some kitsch birds to complete them.

Birds in a Terranium

They only need watering about once a week, so very low maintenance. A sprite of water a few times a week will keep them looking lovely and healthy too.

If you would like to add any tips to this DIY or want to just say hi – do leave me a comment under this post or tweet @lucylovesyablog – I would love to hear from you.

As I was saying at the beginning of the post – It has been these last few days  – we popped to Manchester to see our   Daddio hard at work and watch Coldplay at Etihad Stadium. You can see the colour inspired pics from the set pics over on my Instagram page.

Have a good day.

Lucy x

What is the use of a book without pictures or conversations ?

Alice in Wonderland!

When it comes to taking the girls to see Disney films  – it’s always hard to decide who is the most looking forward to it but when you’re talking anything to do with Alice in Wonderland – It’s me … we all need a bit of escapism sometimes !

I won’t spoil it for those of you who are still planning on seeing it soon but it’s really good for sure. A good mix of the original story and also the extra mind expanding ideas by the visionary producer including Tim Burton and the director – James Bobin. The acting as you would expect is so very good. I especially love Helena Bonham Carter’s version of The Queen of Hearts.

What I love about the story, is that it makes you question reality whether you’re a child or a grown up kid and whether you should take anything in this crazy life too seriously.

On the back of seeing it, I was inspired to pick out some pretty things for the home that remind me of Alice in Wonderland and are way too darling not to share here on my blog. Any excuse, of course.

1. Obviously, first you need the book, right ? The old style print on these give them that ‘ collectable ‘ feeling. Found at John Lewis. 2. When I think of Alice in Wonderland, I imagine the little Door Mouse propped up on a cute little toadstool. If you like this – it’s from Dotcomgiftshop. 3. I’m a total fan of Mrs Moore and her bone china Alice themed tea sets. Liberty London stock them – one of my favourite characters on this one – Cheshire Cat. 4. This cupcake kit isn’t glitter shy with lots of red hearts much like the Queen. – from Planet Bake. 5. So, you have 2 in 1 here – a rabbit ( or hare )  and an egg ( the scene with the egg in the film made us all laugh )  – lots of colourful egg cups at Quail Ceramics. 6. It just wouldn’t be cricket ( or croquet ) without flamingoes. My girls collect snowglobes – this one is so cool and from the lovely White Mint online shop. 7. How do you like this glass cake stand ? A centre piece for a tea party … by LSA International. 8. Polka dot napkins – pop them on your lap or wear in your top pocket like the Mad Hatter. Love the shade of yellow. By Not on the Highstreet. 9. A strawberry doorknob also by Not on The Highstreet. I don’t think this one talks though … 10. Some macarons to pop on the the cake stand. Yes please ! These can be ordered and delivered to you by Genuine Cakes.

Alice in Wonderland 2!

This might seem like an eclectic collection of items… but we are talking Alice in Wonderland here. The more mixed up the better !

1. Time is of the essence in Through The Looking Glass. I thought Sacha Baron Cohen was excellent as ‘ Time ‘ in the film. He literally has great timing. Inspired by this, I chose a retro style wall clock by Newgate Clocks in a pastel green. Like it ? 2. Yep, I couldn’t resist this teapot by Wedgwood. It’s so apt for the Wonderland theme and the design of the teapot sitting on top of the teacup. Now knowing the work that goes in to each piece, after my visit to their factory last week – I can’t appreciate this enough. Amara stock it on their website. 3. Some ‘ Soldier ‘  playing cards by Robert Frederick at Selfridges. 4. Absolutely in love with this Alice in Wonderland Birchwood tray from Liberty London – the colours, the illustration – everything ! Do you like it too ? 5. Had to share this London Skyline Chessboard Set which is at Regency Chess. It’s really cool but also very reminiscent of the story. Really enjoyed how they worked this in, in the latest film – especially in our 3D glasses. 6. A vintage style mirror – need I say more ? An Ikea number.. 7. Some dessert forks that I reckon would go very well with the teapot shown earlier, also from Wedgwood – perfect for a quirky garden party.. 8. Could this be the golden key that fits the tiny door ? What a sweet mug. It is by Gary Birks and sold by Amara. 9. I think I have written about KoKo Kids before – they stock lots of cool, unique stuff – this post wouldn’t be complete without butterflies. The lampshade is paper and handmade. 10. There was a very pretty scene in the film this weekend, with lots of blossom everywhere. If and when you see it – you will know what I mean. Made me want to get some cherry blossom plants for our garden as there’s nothing better in Spring than when the branches turn pink. Check out Trees Direct.

Hope you like my little selection of finds. I also hope you enjoy the film too… let me know if you do see it. Leave me a comment under this post or tweet me @lucylovesyablog. I also have a dedicated Alice in Wonderland board on Pinterest .. now that’s dedication ! Pop over and have a look if you fancy.

Have a fab day.

Lucy x

A Whimsical Day with Wedgwood and Amara

World of Wedgewood

There are days out and then there are DAYS OUT. Sorry for shouting but I am still quite excited post – visit.

When Amara dropped me an email asking if I would like to join them and a little group of fellow bloggers and spend an afternoon in Stoke on Trent at World of Wedgwood to celebrate 250 years of their company  – it was an immediate yes. I have been a fan of Wedgwood for as long as I can remember. I found lots of vintage Wedgwood for our wedding a few years back always  drool ( not literally, but almost … ) over their ranges online and in stores. They’re just so beautiful.

I love spending time with the Amara team too because they’re always such fun and they treat bloggers so well.

So, after a 4.30 am wake up start, I set off to meet them all at Euston with an onward journey to Stoke on Trent.

Painting a plate

First on our itinerary once we’d arrived was to be shown around the factory. World of Wedgwood do this as a regular thing. I asked how many times a day they do the tour and I was told around 4, so it shows how popular they are. We watched ‘ Bruce ‘ paint an intricate bowl.

Dye on plates

On the way round we also learned that the kilns are hotter than lava. I imagine that is all of them but especially when they are on their second firing with glaze. They spend about 9.5 hours in the kiln and as you can see here, a red dye is applied by hand.

You might be surprised to know that some of their one off pieces made in the factory are worth tens of thousands. We were offered one to hold but I was only brave enough to stroke it lovingly. Imagine if you dropped it ?

The technique used for lithograph is when they apply a raising paste and then on top of that –  22 carat gold which looks like a brown colour but is actually gold dust. Each one takes a bout a week to decorate and usually goes through the kiln 7 times.

Decorating Wedgewood

All of the specialist artists and decorators were concentrating intensely on their work and it was honestly amazing to witness. I said to one guy that he must have the steadiest hand in the world.

This vase with a Jasper body was impressive. I think it must be quite therapeutic sitting and painting them. Jasper is essentially stoneware but called clay. So I am told.

Some of the machines used ( by a man called Neil ) still use parts from over 100 years ago, maybe more. One in particular has a wooden wheel that up until the 80s was spun by hand all day – the lady who did this was called Elsie. What a star ! Her arms must have been made of steel.

Teapots

If you own any Wedgwood then if you check the base you will see it is stamped like most china. But the more stamps you have, the more prestigious it is. Get checking ….. :)

I could literally talk to you for hours about this because I am fascinated but I don’t want to tell you everything in case you visit  – plus there’s more to the visit to show…

Huge Vase

Next we were taken to the museum where we found out about the humble beginnings of Josiah Wedgwood and his history. He was an exceptional man by all accounts who had strong drive. If he hadn’t have had issues with his right leg after contracting smallpox as a child,  which resulted in him having to recuperate – he may not have had time to come up with all of his ideas for designs. He got other potters to make them and also pioneered new ways of making pottery. He was really interested in a scientific approach to his work.

Bowl

His style became very distinctive and it all took off from there. By the sounds of it – he and his working partner Thomas Bentley were very good friends who were very focused on their company and turning it in to a huge success. Which they did.

Josiah married his 3rd cousin, Sarah – and they had many children. Not all of them survived. Though their daughter Susannah married a man called Robert Darwin and they had a baby  – Charles Darwin. You might possibly have heard his name before ? ;)

I felt like a kid in a sweet shop in the museum  – the huge vase above is circa 1863 – 64 and probably made especially for a exhibitor. It is painted by Emile Lessore. Inspired by by a series of paintings originally commissioned by Louis XIV of France.

Alicw in Wonderland

You know what i’ts like when you try and photograph things behind glass – you generally just get a pic of yourself holding a camera … but I did love these Fairyland Lustre Vase Bone China Vases just too much to not post here on my blog. Produced in the 1920’s and based on exotic fairytales.

WedgewoodTables Wedgewood

After a superb afternoon lunch with delicate sandwiches, cakes and a choice of teas served in quaint cups and saucers ( I had their Moroccan Mint ) and with much chatter, we were let loose in the craft areas to either do some potting ( many jokes about the film Ghost ensued ) or paint a plate with a template.

colour shades Colourful plates

 

More plates!I opted for the latter and luckily for you, we didn’t take them home on the day hence no photo. I say luckily because everyone else’s were really pretty but I chose to colour a unicorn and was so distracted by all the colourful plates and prints around that I managed to achieve a very below par mythical creature. I don’t have to show you it and you don’t have to humour me … Win, win ! It was really great fun and the staff on hand were really lovely. In fact, everyone I met at World of Wedgwood were really friendly. Eve the cab driver from the station.

Designers Wedgewood

I loved these pop art style prints on the wall in the pottery painting room of some of the Wedgwood designers. Really eye catching. It also shows how Wedgwood has evolved over the years and although still a very classic brand – they have moved with the times in many ways.

They have collaborated with so many different designers over the years. Vera Wang being a more recent one and my personal contemporary favourite.

Flowers

They also joined forces with Royal Doulton and glassware company Waterford Crystal to become one big company some time ago which makes sense as they are all iconic British brands that sit perfectly together.

Of course – we had to stop off in the Factory Shop before getting our trains home. I might have bought myself a little cheeky treat. Some Royal Doulton tapas bowls which no doubt will pop up here on the blog at some point soon.

A massive thank you to the Amara IBAs for inviting me and letting me explore my inner geek a little more  – and to World of Wedgwood for a great day. If you are reading this at home and are tempted to visit them – do. It’s a really interesting and creative place with incredibly surrounding scenery.

I’d also like to point you in the direction of the other bloggers from the day – Flat Fifteen, Fairytale Pretty Picture, The Only Girl in the House, Interior Style Hunter, French for Pineapple, Don’t Cramp My Style Blog, British Style UK and Yasmin Chopin. All great blogs – check them out.

Are you a Wedgwood fan too ? Or do you have a favourite when to comes to ceramics ? Do share. Leave me a moment under the post or tweet @lucylovesyablog …

Have a good one and thanks for reading.

Lucy x

What’s in a Name ?

Promenade

Last week, when the skies were really blue around here, I was walking along Southwold Promenade, enjoying the fresh sea air. When it’s sunny and you’re not rushing to your car, all wrapped up –  it’s funny how much more you notice around you. Colours, names of things and all of the inspiration at your finger tips.

Beach Huts 1

As you may know already, I am a bit of a beach hut geek. Well , a lot of one, really. I wrote about the coast near us last year and I have turned our own garden room in to a beach hut themed place to relax. I just find them so adorable to look at – and the sky is the limit when it comes to choosing contrasting colours and cool names. Anything goes !

As much as the owner probably loves the colours that they choose, it also seems that they decorate them for the pleasure of visitors to the seaside and I love that.

Beach Huts 2

Lots of people were out refreshing the paintwork on their beach huts. I stopped and had a chat with one man as his beach hut plaque was quite intriguing. It had cute little jelly shoes attached to it – it’s the one on the right in the middle, above  – aptly names ” Jellies “.

He said that the shoes had belonged to his little grand daughter the summer before and instead of throwing them away – they thought it would be nice to have them as a keepsake. I thought that was really lovely.

Beach Huts 3

It got me wondering the reasoning behind each of the huts. Some are probably for fun and others with a more personal meaning. The yellow one here called ” Drama Queen ” really made me laugh. Not only the name but the dramatic colour. So tongue in cheek.

I also spole to another man painting his beach hut ( gawd, I really do sound like a crazy lady don’t I ? I do love a chat with folk in Southwold ) and he said the prices vary from around fifty thousand up to one hundred and sixty thousand to own one. Gulp.

But, hey, you can always hire one for the day which would be a nice family day out.

Beach Huts 5

Look at all of these beautiful colour palettes. That soft shade of pink and the mint green. The pastels sit comfortably with the bold colours. Which one would you pick out of these ? ” Companionable ” is the perfect word for a coastal neighbour. That red is fearless !

Beach Huts 6

“Dolly Grey ” always makes me smile. It’s so pretty. Adore the soft grey with blue tones. I would like to colour match it and maybe use it for a bathroom. The red, blue and white for Noah’s Ark is very regal. Actually, what a great place to visit to find some interesting wall ideas for homes. I will bear that in mind for when I’m qualified in interior design.

Beach Huts 7

So, so many variants on blue – obviously a popular colour. Had to finish on Auntie Bong Bong’s name sign. Possibly the sweetest one of the day.

As you can see, I was very dedicated that day in taking photos for the blog. Andy walked along side me, slowly eating an ice cream.  He’s very understanding. Ha !

IMG_4665

If you had a beach hut –  what would you call it and what colour would you paint it ? Which one out of these tickles your fancy ?  Let me know by leaving your comment under this post. Maybe we can get a whole imaginary row between us :) …

Personally I think I’d paint mine in pastel rainbow colours and call it ” Betsey and Mae ”  – fingers crossed for one day, you never know.

Have a good day.

Lucy x