Inspire Me – With Furniture Designer Tom Raffield

 Just recently I was watching Grand Designs and was mesmerised by this really cleverly constructed house set amongst nature in Cornish Woodland . Built with wood, using the art of steam bending – Tom and his wife Danie spent three years working on their project which would ultimately be their home.

I have to say, I think it is my favourite build so far. The overall aesthetic – and how they attached the new design to an older building. The result is stunning. 

Tom and Danie were also running their business at the same time as well as looking after their young family. Brave. I’m really pleased to have grabbed a bit of Tom’s spare time find out how steam bending wood works, how they held it all together during their building journey and what is happening next with their handmade lighting and furniture …

Tom, you specialise in the art of steam bending. Both in your work, selling your furniture and lighting – and of course building your own home with this technique. How did you first start using wood in this way ?

At university, I had a project on materials and as I had never worked with wood, I decided to give it a go. The obvious question then was how do you bend wood. The rest is history !

Can you explain how steam bending works ? 

Very simple; you find freshly cut good quality hardwood timber, you put it into a chamber which you then fill with steam for a certain period of time depending on the size of the timber, then you pop it out, put it into a metal strap to support it and bend it around a former so it takes the formers shape. You have to do the bending in around 1 minute, so you have to be fast. Then you put it in a drying room for a couple of days and it is ready to use.

Your home and journey of creating it were featured on Grand Designs with Kevin McCloud recently – was it a life long ambition to build your own house ?

Yes definitely. We’d be hunting for the right site for a long time, finding somewhere we could build, live and work, with land and woodland too was quite a challenge. I feel so lucky and although hard work, it was a lot of fun and very satisfying. Danie and I are used to working together but this was possibly the biggest project we’ve tacked to date, we both have a new found respect for each other, and sharing a home we’ve built together is pretty amazing.

What were the high and lows over the period of building and planning ? 

The highs tended to be the little benchmarks like getting the frame up, getting watertight, turning on the heat, then when we took the ladder away and replaced it with a staircase ! The other massive high was when we tested the steam bent cladding on the building and it worked, it transformed the building from quite an austere sharp building to a gentle and tactile form. The lows, well there was a few… the planning took so long and being cramped up in the small cottage with no inside bathroom wore a bit thin towards the end. The tyre wall was a killer and 600 tyres later we will still  never forget the physical ( and mental ) pain it caused.

I loved the overall look of the new build attaching to an older, already established house. What inspired you to fuse the two together ?

It was the idea of creating an architectural timeline… being able to identify which part of the building had been built by the original estate owners and then 150 yrs later the part which was built by us …

Did you manage to stick to the original £100,000 budget ?

Not quite. We didn’t have a clear budget at the start, this was a clever bit of tv editing. We had 100k in savings and knew we had to stretch as far as possible. When the quotes came in we thought we could bring it in for 150k-200k but it ended up going to 160k, so not too bad really. It is all down to doing most of the work and getting most of the materials from your own site  and from your own skills.

Is there any sage advice that you can offer to anyone thinking of taking on the task of designing their own home ? 

It sounds a bit obvious but I tried to treat building a house like making a really complex piece of furniture… I was so wrong ! The skill of the craftsmen is important but it is more about bringing lots of craftsmen and materials together just at the right time… Project maangement  is the most important thing which is usually the reason a project fails to happen, goes massively over budget or ends in disaster.

What wood did you use for your home  – and what do you generally use for the products that you design and sell ? 

I love using English oak and ash but we used whatever we had in our woodland which was felled and available so larch, sweet chestnut, ash, norwegian spruce, beech, oak and sycamore.

How do you manage the business between the two of you ? 

Since having baby no.3 Danie has had to take a back seat and focus on being a mum but it is great to be able to come down to the house and go through things with her as she understands the business so much so is a real help. We also do a lot of the designing together. A part of the business we both love and work well together on this.

Now that we are firmly in 2017 – what are you plans for this year ?

I no longer have the house as a distraction so the business is the focus. It is doing so well but is incredibly demanding; there are never enough hours in the day! That said I absolutely love what I do and feel passionately that through the products we create we are doing something very special and I am proud of that. I think this year will be all about developing new products and ideas based around using wood in ways which defies belief, new products which are based on craftsmanship, provenance and innovation ! We are going to be doing an exciting installation for London Craft week and all of our furniture is launching with John Lewis in the next few weeks which we cannot wait for.

Thanks, Tom !

If you would like to know more about Tom Raffield’s Luxury Lighting and Furniture Designs then you can find everything you need to know here at www.tomraffield.com 

Hope you enjoyed this interview ? Have you ever dreamed of building your own home ? I certainly have ! Do leave me a comment under this post  – I’d love to hear from you.

Lucy x

All images copyright Tom Raffield 2017.

AirBnB Collaborate with Pantone – To Create a Greenery Haven

As a blogger, I get invites to many different events and workshops and I feel very lucky. I don’t attend too many of them as it often takes a large chunk out of the day to attend, but when the opportunity to visit an Outside In House in London pops up. Yes please.

You may have heard about this amazing AirBnB and Pantone collaboration in Dingley Place, East London .. cool front door, hey ?  They have transformed this home in to a plant oasis and project venue based on Pantone’s Colour of The Year  – Greenery – for a family of four for overnight visits.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear on my tour around the home that one night’s experience in this entire place, so close to the centre of London is only £200 per family. Even better is that every nightly fee is matched by Pantone with all proceeds going to charity.

This setting of trees was just as you walk in the front door. Apparently it took them two days to convert the whole house, which is pretty impressive.

Maybe because we are a little closer to Spring than when Pantone first announced Greenery, I loved it even more. Such a refreshing and zingy colour and it really works on such a big scale.  The aroma of the herbs planted around the rooms was incredible.

I’m pretty sure my girls would squeal with delight at the thought of staying indoors in a teepee adorned with fairy lights. This was downstairs below ground level along with the master bed and bathroom. I loved the lawn flooring and continuation of sweet and healing scented plants surrounding the beds.

So serene and hidden away in such a busy and non stop city.

After a tour and a super healthy cup of herbal tea drink we sat down in the dining room / craft table with Walthamstow based, textile and surface designer Daniel Heath, and tried our luck at screen printing on wood surfaces.

Daniel showed us the process and then we looked around the conservatory for a plant that inspired us to have a go ourselves.

It was incredibly therapeutic to do and also great fun watching everyone’s stencilling turn in to a cool creation to take home.

Definitely a blogging afternoon to remember !

So, has Greenery grown on you yet if you didn’t love it at first ? Or maybe it was love at first sight ?

Leave me a comment under this post  – I’d love to hear from you.

Lucy x

 

Why It’s Important to Define Your Interior Design Style

Some time ago now, I told you about my interior design course.

As you’ll know if you read the post before this one, I have been taking it quite easy over the last few months but am now back, ploughing on with it all. If I could be an eternal student, I would. But I really do want to complete this KLC interior design diploma soon and crack on with what I love doing professionally.

For someone who really enjoys playing with colours and indulging in fabric and wallpaper swatches, this part of the studies couldn’t be more ideal. I guess this is how things will be from now on – although much harder and in detail work is coming up and I’m looking forward to it. I’m hoping the technical side will be an exciting challenge.

What is interesting at this stage, is that I’ve been really working what my personal style is so I can not only define my vision ( and not confuse it with a clients brief ) but also to look back once I have finished this course and see how I have progressed. I’ve found it harder than I thought because I am in to so many style eras and palettes. It’s a really helpful exercise and part of this curriculum so has to be completed properly. I write key words and have found I am quite often drawn to ‘ quirky, colourful and Scandi looks .. now there’s a surprise.

It’s really handy to have instant photos to pop in to my personal record journey to use as inspiration, so I carry my camera around with me a lot – and I’m forever finding colours and textiles that I love  – so they go in to the book too. This is my passion and I feel really lucky to be doing this now for a career.

As I’m already very much in to interiors, it’s been useful so far to know where to look for ideas but there are so many great companies out there starting up and it has opened my eyes to them. I found a shop called Perch and Parrow who sell gorgeous homeware and I will definitely use in the future and love some of their fabric samples here. The velvet is so lush.

It’s also a great excuse to read even more home magazines. It’s my addiction anyway but I’ve taken it to new levels. Well, it’s all in the name of research ;)

So, that’s where I’m at right now. I am starting to also draw up plans which is the bit I was nervous about so here goes .. I am sure some will appear on my instagram if you follow me.

If you are reading this and tempted to find out about the KLC School of Design then I do recommend them. They run all kinds of interiors and garden design courses at their HQ in the famous Design Centre East by Chelsea Harbour or if you study online then they offer lots of support if ever needed. They do expect a high level of input from their students but in return offer a really good qualification at the end.

Now about you. If you had to describe your own personal style, how would you ? I’d love to hear your thoughts, it’s all great research !

Thanks for reading.

Lucy x

Why Yoga and Meditation is my Inspiration for 2017

Hey, Happy 2017. Hope you are having a good start to the New Year. I’m easing myself in to it and so far, so good ..

But for some time I have been wondering whether to share a little bit more about me on the blog. I tend to keep it as a positive place and always will … although one thing I found last year, which I want to talk about is that I struggled a bit to keep up with the mad pace of social media. Usually it wouldn’t be an issue but truth be told, I haven’t been too well.

Over the last few years I have had a condition where if I get overworked or tired, my throat and eyes gets very sore and and I end up with a very swollen and raw mouth. At first I thought it was something I had eaten, like an allergy reaction, but then realised a pattern to it. The last few months have not been so great. It has done something a little odd to my immune system so I really do lack energy sometimes. Is it just me or do you know anyone else that this happens to ?

I’ve tried lots of different ways to treat it but I don’t think anything works completely unless you start looking after yourself and your body really well. Pressures of life can take their toll, especially when you are juggling many plates.

This is where my new hobby comes in …

Yoga.

Something that I have wanted to try for what seems years. I have meditated before and found it really effective, so combined, hopefully it will make headway – and it will be interesting to see if it has any impact. I hope so, as this is the year that I will qualify in interior design and really can’t wait.

I had to find a mat that would inspire me. What do you think ?

  1. Constellations mat – Blisscloud 2. Yoga belts – Yoga matters 3. Colourful mat – Yoga Design Lab 4. Blankets – Yoga Direct 5. Pink mat – Shake it London 6.Tropical mat – Yoga clicks 7. Bolsters – The Yoga Shop 8. Green mat – Liforme

Because, of course, my mat had to be colourful – I now know many online stores, found in my search .. You can see it here in my selection of finds, at number 3. I also think the Constellations Mat at number 1 is pretty amazing.

If yoga is something that you would like to try then maybe some of these finds will inspire you too.

From mats, belts and bolsters, there are so many out there. If you’d like to see where any of the above are from then you can click on the links.

I was also sent two great books called Spark Joy by Maria Kondo and At Home in The World by Thich Nhat Hanh. Thank you Penguin Random House for posting them over.

Spark joy is essentially is a guide to decluttering your home, covering each room and ways to make more space and remove anything that doesn’t bring you joy. Sounds like common sense but actually it can be quite hard to let go of old pieces sometimes, even if they aren’t purposeful.

At Home in the World is an autobiographical read, by Nhat Hanh’s life and how he has taught Zen and Mindfulness throughout his life, while travelling the world. It is quite fascinating.

This year, I also aim to eat well and try some new styles of cooking. I’d love to do more Thai food.

I hope you have a great 2017. I’m really looking forward to sharing lots of inspiring posts with you.

If you have any yoga tips or would just like to stop by to say hi then do leave me a comment underneath. Would love to hear from you.

Lucy x

Five Favourite Posts on Lucy Loves Ya for 2016

As we are really close to Christmas now, I am hanging my boots up until the New Year  – although I no doubt will be posting pictures over the festive period on my instagram. I can’t stay away.

I thought you might like to see some of my favourite posts for this year – the ones I have enjoyed making the most. Although actually, I have enjoyed curating all of them.

If you remember way back in Spring, I did up my living room a little and made new curtains, cushions with Designer’s Guild fabrics and put up some new artwork ? Well, this is it again above and you can see it in full here.

 

More and more, I’ve loved trying out recipes in 2016 and sharing a few with you. My Dad is a meeeaan curry chef and passed on his wisdom with a lovely monkfish curry for this post. Omg – it was tasty. Do try it out.

Then there were the moodboards.

I came up with three colour palettes that I really liked for the bedroom. Are you thinking now that I am a huge fan of green ? Well, I am, but check out my other boards – and you will actually see the bedroom reveal early next year ( It was delayed due to some things taking longer than expected ) and I can’t want to show you.

In the Summer, we brightened up the design room with some new paint and and accessories. It feels much more contemporary now and still love the freshness. Unbelievably, I’ve managed to keep those fabrics in the cupboard all pretty neat too .. somehow.

If you’d like a little tour around the room then you can find the post here.

Like I say, lots of things I have enjoyed doing this year – but this is the fifth one I have chosen.

I was asked by The Joy to Plants to photograph some Speciality Orchids as they are Houseplant of the Month for November. It has made me really fall in love with them. In fact I’ve become a bit of a nerd when it comes to looking after them here at home. Such amazing and interesting flowers. I’ve never really been very good at looking after plants but the last year has made me much more aware of their needs and, well, they just look so lovely around the home don’t they ?

So, that’s my little roundup. Have you enjoyed any posts in particular ? Which ones do you like the most .. my days out, recipes, home DIYs or fashion shots ?

Once again this year, I’ve been lucky to interview some really inspiring designers and authors. In January I have another really good one.

I’d like to also say a big thanks to all of you who have added your amazing and colourful photographs to #InspirationIsColour on instagram – we are heading toward 8000 and it’s such a treat to see and share them on my other account @InspirationIsColour.

Have a really Happy Christmas. Hope you get to relax and enjoy some time with your loved ones.

Thanks for reading.

Lucy x

Pantone Colour of the Year 2017 – Greenery

1.Pantone Nail Polish – Butter London 2.
Vase – Habitat 3. Peridot Earrings – Leif 4. Sofa – Wayfair 5. Bugatti Toaster – Amara 6. Chopping Board – Jospeh Joseph 7. Moroccan Glass – Habitat

It’s been announced. The Pantone Colour of the Year for 2017 …. Greenery. I’m so excited. I was hoping it would be green in some form and I love the zing it has – have you noticed it has a hint of yellow to it ?

Unfortunately I couldn’t make the unveiling of this yesterday ( but thanks for my lovely pieces in the post, Pantone !) so instead have put together a collection of products in a greenery shade from some of my favourite stores.

Greenery ( or Pantone 15 – o343 ) is transitional – works in all seasons but I really can’t wait to see it used for Spring. For me it evokes nature and is fresh and full of hope which is most welcome, really.

I’d be interested to know your thoughts on it ? Are you happy too or sitting or the fence … or really not sure at all ? Can you see yourself using Pantone’s new colour of the year on your walls or wearing it ? I’m looking forward to using it with some other strong colours  – do you remember my bedroom mood boards recently ? I used a very similar green there.

So, how will we see Greenery feature in 2017 ? I can’t wait to see – I think there will be some bold patterns and bohemian style – that’s for sure …

Lucy x

Christmas Blog Hop 2016 – My Festive Living Room

christmas-fireplace

I’ve been looking forward to today. It’s  my turn on the #UkHomeBlogHop organised and hosted by the very lovely Kimberly over at Swoon Worthy, along with 4 other bloggers who I will let you know about at the end of this blog post.

You may have come here directly from The Ordinary Lovely, and not have popped in to say hi here before which is great – welcome ! I’m Lucy and write and photograph about colourful interiors, fashion, travel and food. I also interview inspirational designers and artists.  If you are a regular reader then I will put you in the picture as to what this is all about.

There are many fabulous interior bloggers out there and we all like to support each other. So what better way than to spend this week while we are all starting to get festive in our own homes, by hopping from one blog to the next so you can discover some new ones and we can meet some new readers too.

I will directing you over to the next blog at the end of this post once you have had al little tour of my living room …

gingerbread-at-christmas

Things are getting cosy here in our home. We spent our Sunday making gingerbread and getting the decorations out. Actually, let me rephrase that – we spent Sunday eating far too much gingerbread and faffing about with baubles and and loads of cables.

It was really fun though and as you can see, we have the fireplace looking ready for Christmas.

I hope some of my ideas here for decorating my home appeal to you and give you some inspiration if needed. As my girls are still quite young, this is essentially a kids themed room but hey, do any of us want to be grown up at Christmas ?

christmas-ornament-car-presentspom-pom-christmas-tree

The usual place for our large tree is in a corner of the room which is now filled with a sideboard so I rather fancied having two small trees sitting on top of the fireplace which makes it symmetrical. I popped some pom pom baubles on them and they just kind of attached themselves so no string needed. Nifty, huh ?

They’re kind of cute, don’t you think ? These are real trees from Bloom & Wild ( yes, they actually arrived in the post ! ) so I water them regularly and hopefully they will survive until the end of December.

Of course you need lights and warmth at this time of year. I’ve tried to keep things quite simple to avoid clutter in the room ( there’ll be enough once Father Christmas has been ;) ) so focused on lighting what is already in the room rather than adding loads of extra ornaments .. bar one or two !

christmas-cable-cotton-lights

Hanging some bauble type lights down one side makes for a contemporary look and these can be used elsewhere all year round. I will probably move them to our bedroom once it is all finished ( another post to come soon ) …

christmas-logs-with-lights

Wrapping some wire lighting around the logs makes it a feature and I have put some little toadstools amongst them.

christmas-tree-ornament-copper

I couldn’t resist this little double bass as we all love music so much in the family.

christmas-wrapping-ideas

We’ve already wrapped some presents for relatives and have used Washi tape to add their initial in a big and bold way on the front. Will make searching though gifts on Christmas Day that bit easier.

Over the next few days you will see our larger Christmas tree and room being decorated over on instagram in my design room.

christmas-ginerbread-trees

But until then, a few more biscuits will be consumed on the sofa, once we have lit the fire.

Warm gingerbread and a hot chocolate for guests arriving from a long journey is always most welcome. I definitely recommend leaving some out at this time of year. It doesn’t last long ..

Now, I’d love you to visit the next blogger – Sarah Akwisombe on this Blog Hop  at 11 am tomorrow morning when her post becomes live.

In fact, check out all the others involved in this week’s #UKHomeBlogHop below because they’re all great and hopefully you will find some new blogs to enjoy.

Lucy x

 

Monday 5th December:
Tuesday 6th December:
Wednesday 7th December:
Thursday 8th December:
Friday 9th December:

Colourful Christmas WishList for 2016

new-1
  1. Make Believe Jumper – Oliver Bonas. 2. Body Cleansing Bath Salts  – ila. 3. Cactus Socks – Maik London. 4. Cat Bracelet – Conran Shop.5. Fairisle Hat – Quinton Chadwick. 6. Gold Planner – Kikki – K. 7 . Clutch Bag – Matt & Nat. 8. Hairbands – Pop Band London.

If you can’t make a little Wishlist at  Christmas time, when can you ? Some personal treats and then some things that will brighten the home.

Maybe you will see some things here that will be helpful as a guide too. A lot of the items are from brands that I already know and love.

We all need a Christmas jumper don’t we ? I’m kind of leaning towards a more subtle kind this year and love the slogan ones, like this sweater from Oliver Bonas.

I first tried ila products ( 2 ) when I was in Cornwall earlier in the year. They smell amazing – I haven’t tried the cleansing bath salts here though. Probably just what is needed in the run up to the festive period.

I’m a fan of British knitwear brand Quinton Chadwick and love the colours in this fairisle bobble hat ( 5 ). What do you think ?

Do you ever use a planner ? I still do as well as my phone diary and love a bit of bling .. as you may have noticed. So, naturally this diary from Kikki – K caught my eye  -they have the most adorable stationery. My girls love the shop and just might be getting some of their pens from Father Christmas.

Matt & Nat make an amazing selection of bags. They’re all vegan and eco friendly. The Odelay clutch here has a strap so really suitable for an informal drinks do or a night out. I never used to wear anything dark blue but it has really grown on me and love it now.

I’ll be honest – PopBands ( 8 ) are all over this house  – we wear them all the time but you can never have enough of them. They are great as stretchy bracelets also. They have taken off massively and I see them in shops everywhere. Great stocking filler.

new-2
  1. Candle  – Etta French. 2. Pineapple Beaded Cushion – Laura Ashley. 3. Mini Terrarium – Urban Outfitters. 4.Flamingo Snow Globe – John Lewis. 5. Tea Set – Burleigh Pottery. 6.
    Liberty Print Roberts Radio – Liberty London. 7. Scissors – Nest. 8. Brush Cup – Pentreath & Hall.

Recently I tried out on of these Etta French candles ( 1 ). The winter scent fills the room but not only that you get a very pretty surprise piece of jewellery inside the wax. Maybe greedy but want to try out the other ones. Love that they aren’t tested on animals and have no nasty chemicals hidden in their ingredients.

Of course, if you follow my instagram, you will have seen many succulents in different forms on there. One thing I really need to try out is a mini terrarium like this one from Urban Outfitters ( 3 ). They look really cool on a desk or window sill.

I have such a strong fascination with flamingoes and snow globes – so naturally kind of fancy this pretty glass ornament from John Lewis ( 4 ) – especially as she’s wearing a crown. It’s really pretty, don’t you think ?

I recently wrote a blog post for Burleigh Pottery, giving some ideas on mixing and matching their china at Christmas time. If you fancy a read – you can here. Isn’t their Asiatic Pheasant set ( 5 ) gorgeous ? Really nice for a tea party or even to serve some mulled wine in a quirky way to your guests.

For ages, I have been eyeing up these Hay Phi gold carbon Scissors from Nest Store ( 7 ). The shape is lovely  – and a really stylish way to wrap up gifts. Might have to treat myself !

The brush letter pot is by Pentreath & Hall ( 8 ) . I have a different colour way with an L on the front but they’re quite addictive and fun.

Have you noticed that there’s loads of pinks and greens ? Seem really drawn to this combination at the moment  – you will see more on my living room tour blog hop next week .. all will be revealed on Tuesday at 11 am.

Hope you like my selection – you can check out any of them by clicking on the links under the wishlists.

Is there anything that has caught your eye here ?

Lucy x

Back in Berlin, Baby …

berlin-street-art

If you follow me on Instagram  – you will have seen a few pictures of our little Berlin trip a few weeks ago. We spent ages looking forward to it and suddenly we were on our way home again But at least this time we were there for longer than 24 hours.

To say that all of our stay in was entertaining would not be true – only because visiting Checkpoint Charlie and the museum nearby, was a real eye opener and reminder but we kept the educational side of the visit to a minimum as we needed to have some family fun time.

We hadn’t really prepared ourselves too much with what we were going to do. We knew we were going to see Biffy Clyro at Max – Shmeling – Halle Arena but that was about it ! They were amazing as usual and Andy got to watch them this time instead of working on the show which was a real treat for him.

25-hour-hotel-berlin

Having stayed at Soho House in East Berlin last time it was nice to try out a different area, so we stayed at The Palace Hotel which is a family hotel, so a bit quieter  ( we needed some sleep ) in Chalottenburg  –  directly opposite the 25 Hours Hotel which is the home of ‘ Monkey Bar ‘. If you don’t know of this hotspot, it looks down over the zoo with big glass window walls – very cosy inside and the views are quite amazing across Berlin if you sit outside. It’s super trendy and very busy.

monkey-bar-berlinview-from-monkey-bar-berlinIt’s situated on the top floor where you can look out at all the amazing buildings. Hard not to enjoy the architecture in Berlin. Old and new. I’m not entirely sure of the name of the curved building. It looks brand new – really interesting looking, don’t you think ?

friedrichshaindistrict-berlin

On our second day, we did manage to find the colourful quarter of Kreuzberg. Known as ‘ The Heart of Turkish Berlin ‘ You literally turn a corner and there it is – in its glory. We actually spent quite a lot on a cab getting there. That’s colour inspiration dedication for you …  I was watching the cab meter thinking ” hope this is worth it ”  – but thankfully it was.

friedrichshain-district-berlin

The district is very buzzy and is full of eateries, galleries and cool bars. It’s very arty and has a cosmopolitan feeling to it. I loved it !  Definitely worth a visit and make sure you take your camera. I just wish we’d had more time to spend in the area. Of  course the girls were checking the walls to see if they could see any ‘ naughty ‘ words. Luckily they don’t speak German yet … !

berlin-doorberlin-in-greens

Although it wasn’t particularly warm or sunny while we were in Berlin – there were lots of colourful moments. Well, I wasn’t going to leave without a few, was I ?

Dotted around the streets were lots of old style mopeds and bicycles. How about this one ? All the greens in one go. Couldn’t resist.

berlin-wall

 

Obviously, we had to go and see the remains of the Berlin Wall. It is just covered in street art and old visitors comments but it is also protected with a fence for most of it. Which is understandable. Mae and Betsey were fascinated by the history of the wall and Berlin in general. A lot to take in for them but they enjoyed it very much and learnt a few words.

berlin-quirky-car

We went on to a restaurant called Heat on Karl-Liebknecht-Str which is part of The Radisson Hotel – it was really good food – nice curry. A little pricey but then everything in Berlin was to be honest. Not as reasonable as before Brexit.

It is a big place, Berlin – you effectively feel like you are visiting two cities in one go. So much to see and do. I still don’t feel like I have seen much of it but am keen to explore more. It’s kind of quirky but stylishly done  – and SO clean. Maybe a trip in the Spring or Summer next time to enjoy some scenery with a blue sky backdrop.

Would you like to visit Berlin – or have you already been ? Do leave a comment with some recommendations. Would love to hear them ..

Lucy x

Speciality Orchid – Houseplant of the Month for November

orchid-houseplants

Did you know that for November – the Speciality Orchid is the Houseplant of the Month ?

I’ve been a fan of this type of plant for quite some time now now. Ever since I realised that there are so many different colours and types with such interesting histories. They add character to a room and some even offer health benefits.

At the moment I have four different types in our home that I would like to introduce you to. You may well know a lot more about them than me but I’ve tried to add a few facts too below in case you’re interested to know a little more about these fascinating houseplants …

cattleya-orchid-houseplant

Cattleya.

This beauty is called Cattleya Hybrid. The petals are so silky. They make really striking houseplants with their thick leaves growing out of the tuber. I love the vibrancy of this magenta shade mixed with the yellow centre – they also come in white, orange, green and pastels and has the most varied appearance of all orchids. The deep and rich fragrance is amazing too – apparently has earned the Cattleya a rather special nickname – ‘ Queen of the Orchids ‘. As with many types of Speciality Orchids, the Cattleya prefers a light spot but not direct sunlight. The soil needs to almost dry out between waterings. It thrives best in high humidity  – and a handy tip is to keep them in their pot on an island of damp clay pebbles. My plant has a little way to go yet but they can reach up to 15 cm in height.

Did you know that the expression ‘ to cattleya ‘ is a euphemism for amorous encounters between Odette and Swann in Marcel Proust’s seven volumes novel ‘ Remembrance of Things Past ‘ ? True that !

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Brassia.

This is possibly my favourite Speciality Orchid with it’s starry bright petals and  burgundy spots and turned stems – almost other worldly ? It’s a Brassia Orange Delight and as with all from the Brassia family – is light and fine, so it moves a little when you walk past it. They tend to be good in light all year round ( this helps with flowering ) and prefer to stay a little moist.  They make lots of aerial roots which enjoyed being sprayed.

It is named after an illustrator called William Brass who was commissioned by Sir Joseph Banks at the end of the 18th century to collect unusual orchids. A job I would have quite liked myself but it was back in the 18th century …

This particular plant is in its early stages of flowering but it will eventually flower all along the stem – it has been nicknamed the the ‘s Spider Orchid ‘ for this reason. Out in the wild the Brassia uses it’s spidery shape to attract Spider Wasps which sting the lip and this then pollinates other Brassias. Isn’t nature amazing ?

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Dendobrium Noble.

Kind of like a mini tree this one. The stems look like bamboo with clusters of flowers growing out of the axil of each leaf. Like the Cattleya it has a lovely scent. In the wild, you will find it growing in the cool mountains of the Himalayas Jungle of New Guinea and all the desert of Australia. Interesting places to find them ? It means that they easily cope with a living room environment. They tend to flower for about 4 months and if you can wait another few months after they sometimes do again.

In total there are about 1,200 different species of Dendobrium. First discovered in 1799 by ‘ Olof Schwartz ‘. The name Dendobrium comes from from the Greek ‘ dendron’ ( tree ) and ‘ bios ‘ ( life ) and in the wild they grow harmlessly  on trees as an epiphyte to derive it’s moisture.  What is really cool about them is that they are known to be very good houseplants for removing toluene ( the most important ingredient in paint thinner ) and xylene ( a solvent for resins and fats ) from the air.

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Paphiopedilum

This Speciality Orchid is attractive with or without it’s flower because of its pretty leaves. Also ( and maybe more commonly ) known as ‘ Venus Slipper ‘ owing to the lip of the flower being in the shape of an elegant slipper. The name is derived from Paphos in Greece where the goddess Aphrodite arose from the sea and ‘ Pedalion ‘ which means ‘ slipper ‘ in Ancient Greece. Ironically though – you don’t find any wild Paphiopedilums anywhere in Greece ! It actually grows in South  – East Asia.

Being a shade Speciality Orchid so it can tolerate partial shade but not full sun. They love fresh air as long as it isn’t too cold. I tend to remove my Paphiopedilum from its pot when watering and let water run though the roots before putting it back once it has drained well.

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One bit of advice I would offer for this orchid and in fact all types  – is to add stones for draining to the bottom of your pots to stop them sitting in any pools of water.

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I always think that Speciality Orchids are too beautiful to play around with too much. It takes away from the star of the show – being the flower. But to add a little warmth, I’ve added some gold leaf to this pot and finished it with a rustic worn look. A  metallic enriches the flower shades even more and adds to their already eye catching opulence.

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I sprayed this old terracotta pot with glitter gold too. Just to enhance the pot and give it a little shimmer. What do you think ?

 

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Hopefully you have enjoyed my little Speciality Orchid post  – and have discovered something new about them ? You can also find out lots more about houseplants and see DIY projects at www.thejoyofplants.co.uk

Please do leave me a comment to let me know more about Speciality Orchids or if you have just enjoyed reading this ! Would love to hear from you.

Lucy x

This is a collaboration with The Joy of Plants. All opinions are my own.