Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Our 15 minutes of fame?

Our house features in the current edition of one of the myriad of home interest magazines, Good Homes. It appeared on the newstands last Friday so off I went to buy a copy (no sign of the complimentary copy) but was surprised to find myself much less excited than this time last year when Homes and Gardens featured our house.

I don't want to sound blase and I don't think I am but I learnt from the last experience that the reporting is not always accurate. As the mother of a journalist I do not criticise the press as freely as many and I know that if we still want a print medium alongside the online papers we must accept advertising but I was disappointed to see the presentation of the photos and text I had seen before publication.

However I mustn't be wholly negative as the experience of watching a professional photographer in action was fascinating. Lu Jeffreys, based in Wirksworth, was charming and we enjoyed lunch together in between the shots. I found it interesting to compare her approach with that of Brent who took the previous set.

 Whereas he was happy to leave the rooms as they were she preferred to style to suggest maybe a cup of tea next to a chair; similarly the magazines also have a different style with  Homes and Gardens preferring more light in the shots and an more open view of the room.

The most painful part of the experience this time was the page entitled "Heather's Inspiration"..not pieces of vintage fabric, lovely old lamps or interestingly shaped jugs..but bland high street cushions and lamps.
My disappointment lies in the missed opportunity for me of publicising the business; as there is no fee for the shoot I feel this is fair enough. Sadly the Homes and Gardens feature although mentioning hellishdesigns did not give as much space to the contact details as they did to other items in the house. This time I thought I had worked hard to focus photos on my cushions and shades and speak about the business but reading the text I appear to be someone who buys fabric from hellish designs!

So far the phone hasn't rung as it did last year but I do have some very nice shots of the house and garden (Brent enjoyed snapping all the way to the bottom of the garden) and there is a rather pathetic thrill to be had reading about oneself!
Neither cat made it past the editors so thought Silvie should have a chance to be published here having sneaked her way onto the guest bed

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A Suffolk colour scheme

We spent last weekend relaxing in that most laid back county Suffolk. We were staying at the Crown & Castle Orford ; a pub/restaurant with rooms where we have enjoyed several recuperative breaks in the past. Ruth, David and Tim run a tight ship (very high compliment from me) whilst keeping everything friendly and relaxed. Ruth is the Hotel Inspector turned Country House Rescuer from TV and her influence can be felt in the no nonsense approach to hospitality and in the delicious and ever changing menus..deciding what to eat is the hardest thing we had to do all weekend

Sadly no one has asked us to become Mr and Mrs Smith for the famous guide books but should they do so….”Husband no 1 adopts a split personality ;admiring the noble beasts as we spot pigs on our walk whilst devouring all things pork by evening. I enjoy a relaxing candlelit bath in the newly remodelled bathroom” and so on.

Coincidentally I had read a magazine article about a nearby pottery in Fressingfield. In truth it is too small a shop to travel to but should you find yourself in the area it's well worth a visit. Lars supplies the likes of Nicole Farhi, David Mellor and Designers Guild ,to drop but 3, with stylish tableware and his shop is filled with much cheaper seconds and end of lines. His Danish roots can be seen in the simple lines and matt glazes but the colours were what attracted me. I finally chose a group of complimentary plates, all in earth tones and one described by Lars as very organic..not sure if that was code for “slightly wrong”

As we chatted we realised we had the found the perfect person to answer all our questions about the new Danish serial Borgen and the workings of the Danish political system.

By the time we left the rain had stopped so we were able to start our postponed walk after all.
Coastal Suffolk is famed for its huge skies and thanks to the very flat landscape you can see for miles. We followed a walk which contrasted the beach and sea with nearby reed beds and heathland.

 As we walked I recognised all the colours from Lars' palette; yellow gorse, grey/brown dykes, silver reeds, blue and grey sky and sea; I exclude the pinks and greens in his collection but perhaps these are summer flowers or colourful Suffolk stuccos.

I always find walking inspirational either from the surroundings themselves or simply because it gives time to ponder and plan the week ahead whilst putting one foot in front of the other. I wish I could paint but I always enjoy snapping images as I walk and some may find their way into a greeting card.

These tree roots appeared to have been sculpted at some point to form an outdoors installation.
I used to bring bag loads of pebbles home but try to be more responsible now and restricted my self to 2 which perfectly captured the colours of the day.

Plenty left!

The following day was breezy but beautifully sunny so we were able to enjoy our favourite walk along Covehithe beach. Slightly further north than Southwold this is also a sandy beach and it is easy to see the source of the sand as the sandstone cliffs crumble and erode at an alarming pace. Over the years trees have disappeared from the cliff edge and lain on the beach, tree roots remain to form driftwood sculptures which cast magical shadows.

I’m not sure if this is a tree or just a large branch wedged in the sea but it caused the waves to crash around and the spray to fly in the breeze.

It was hard to set off home after our walk knowing our long anticipated weekend was over but the benefits always last through the next few weeks and I’ve just enjoyed my lunch all the more for being eaten off one of my new plates.

Hope you'll visit my blogshop..link at top of the page..I'll be adding cushions soon but email for images in the meantime. Need to earn my next trip to Suffolk!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

January by lamplight

I'm very pleased to be working from home on these chilly mornings; no need to scrape ice from the windscreen or check the antifreeze. It's been lovely over the past week to view the frost glinting in the sunlight from the comfort of my workroom. The only drawback is the heating bill and at present I'm in the unheated boxroom office which is decidedly cold, thank goodness for the cashmere fingerless gloves acquired in the M&S sale. Its comforting, then, to be surrounded by lamps with fabric shades casting a warm glow over proceedings.

I have quite a large collection of small wooden lamp bases all painted in my favourite F&B Old White eggshell and have been making shades to fit them. I had fun this morning photographing them in various locations although later I will have less fun removing them from random spots around the house.

I've added a fourth to the collection of pink Vichy shades; these 2 are almost identical and with very similar bases make a sweet pair for side tables or on the ends of a table or chest.

This pink shade is lovely for the slender proportions of this lamp

I've also made a pair of shades in a deep blue Vichy check; these make a nice mismatched pair with bases painted in Annie Sloan's matt paint and waxed.

These linen shades are identical and work well in most colour schemes.

I love the combination of modern glass base and retro linen shade; this red and cream example gives a lovely light.

This is another larger shade suitable for a large table lamp made from panels of my favourite red linen ticking.

I love this blue mangle cloth, very unusual to find blue on a beige cloth as they're more usually blue and cream. This shade did look well in my kitchen next to the blue grainsack covered armchair

We've just finished repainting our guestroom but the furniture is still crammed into an adjoining room where I took this image... like the rather formal beige linen striped shade on fluted base sitting on this little painted dressing table

This is a shape I like, almost a drum which sits well on this column lamp snapped in the newly painted bedroom.

A traditional scalloped edge shade is a good match for this old wooden lampbase. I use these wooden lamps teamed with linen shades to soften the lines of my modern kitchen and to give a soft glow in addition to the functional halogen bulbs.
I'm about to put this image and more on my blog shop..see link above or click http://www.shophellishdesigns.blogspot.com/ where you can buy shades with or without bases.

Off to find those abandoned lamps and measure them; why not try the pyschologically warming benefits of a softly lit lamp on a January afternoon

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

back to work and blogging...at last

Happy New Year; rather belatedly as I've found it very hard to return to the world of work and blogging after a lovely busy and relaxing Christmas. Seemingly an oxymoron but it was an enjoyable busyness surrounded by family and friends and in this way relaxing. So last week, having said goodbye to everyone, including my husband who returned to the office, I attempted to pick up my own work only to find a deep unwillingness to buckle down. In the past I've prided myself on my ability to self motivate, work long hours and set myself high standards; so far so smug but 2012 seemed to present a bigger challenge than usual.
First I took my sewing machine to be serviced..so no sewing possible. Then I discovered a film I simply had to see and found myself at a very full silver screening in town ..maybe retirement won't be so bad! I even tidied out my kitchen cupboards, just as well reading some of the sell by dates, and polished the cutlery.
But this week guilt got the better of me and sewing machine having returned bursting to go I finally started to replenish my almost non existent stock.
It was a lovely surprise therefore to discover little gems I had bought back in November and forgotten all about.

This lovely blue French print, not quite a toile but with fabulous details, has been made up into a set of cushions. I've teamed the print with a great quality French linen; a soft off white and beautifully creased.
Looks nice with this blue jug.

Another similar classic French print with urns and birds in a warm red teams well with the shade made from linen mangle cloth.

I love this classic Vichy check cotton especially in pink; it always makes beautiful lampshades as the pink is warm and welcoming when lit. I was lucky enough to find a big piece in good condition so have been able to make a trio of shades.

I had forgotten buying this sweet little painting which I think works well propped on a chest in a similar interior.

This is another favourite fabric, a linen mangle with bright red stripes. The shade and cushion are both great in kitchens or easy going living rooms.

I used this fabulous set of french spongeware plates over Christmas, perfect for the Christmas pud but equally nice for a bowl of warming soup. There are 10 in the set and its tempting to hang on to them but must keep my business hat on.

Am making a New Years resolution to update my blogshop regularly and add a Paypal checkout if I can understand the instructions but in the meantime if you're interested in buying any item featured just leave a comment or email me.
Back to the sewing machine