A visit to Southwold & the Suffolk Coast

As the song goes “If you’re fond of sand dunes and salty air, quaint little villages here and there” then you will love Southwold and the Suffolk coast. It’s a little slice of The Hamptons in the UK, it’s coastline dotted with wooden clad houses and fishing huts and is so untouched by the excesses of modern life that it feels a little like going back in a time machine, to when life was simpler and calmer.

It’s been many years, since I last visited Southwold but my memory of it was strong enough to know that when foreign travel was off the agenda again this year, due to Covid restrictions, that I wanted to revisit. Another stylist friend has a lovely holiday cottage in the town, where we stayed for the week, and which I would highly recommend @blackshorestay. Sally the owner, has that sort of effortless style that mixes modern amenities with antiques and foraged finds beautifully and her work is seen in publications such as Country Living magazine and Modern Country, as well as having her own published book, “Relaxed Coastal Style” so it was exactly as I expected. Both stylish and comfortable, with just about everything you could want for a week by the coast.

So If you too are looking for a UK destination to spend your staycation and want to know what Southwold has to offer, then this is what we got up to during our week there and what I can recommend. I would also say that as practically, everybody is holidaying in the UK this summer, book ahead for any meals or events, to avoid disappointment. It’s a small town and capacity is limited.

  1. Hire a bike from Southwold Cycle hire. Southwold and the Suffolk coast has over 155 miles of coastal paths and there are many places close by that are only a short ride away. It’s much less stressful than driving and you’ll see more of the surrounding area as you cycle along. Jason from Southwold cycle hire will deliver your bikes to your holiday address and collect them when you have finished with them. It’s a great service and as we were there during a reasonably quiet week, outside of children’s holidays, he let us change our original booking to suit the days when the weather was better, for no extra charge.

2. Walk or cycle along the Ferry road which is lined with boats and Fishermans huts and buy some fresh fish or sea food to cook at home, or book a table at Sole Bay Fish Company to sample the best of the days catch with a glass of wine or a cold beer. They open Friday & Saturday evening or most days for lunch.

3. Walk or cycle over the bridge from the Ferry road to Walberswick which has a lovely beach, backed by sand dunes and lined with black painted beach huts. The village is so pretty with a small selection of shops, also in wooden shed type buildings and a couple of good pubs, The Anchor and The Bell Inn, perfect for a sundowner after a day collecting shells.

 

4. Spend a day on the beach in Southwold which is one of the prettiest I’ve seen, lined with sugar almond, pastel coloured Beach huts and a lovely Victorian Pier at the far end. Walk along the beach to the Pier which is lined with shops, cafes, amusements & a restaurant and is the only 21st Century pier in the UK, rebuilt in 1999, after the original Victorian pier was swept away in a storm in 1934. The entrance to the pier has a graffiti painted tribute to George Orwell who lived in Southwold for a few years and revisited often.

5. Visit the lighthouse which is prominent from the beach and right in the middle of the town. Walk around the pretty streets of cottages which were built for the fishing community, some of which still have Maritime architectural features above their doors.

6. Take a tour of Adnams brewery and sample the many beers that are made on site. Adnams also own all the pubs and hotels in Southwold and they have a shop in the town where you can stock up on gifts to take home, as well as a cafe which serves a great breakfast. Many of the pubs have rooms above and The Swan is definitely the jewel in the crown, with beautiful large suites, decorated in a contemporary bright style.

 

7. Take a trip to Henham Park, home of Latitude festival on a Wednesday evening for some fantastic pizza.  Phoenix Pizza take over one of the barns in the park once a week to cook their amazing pizza on a wood fired oven and the views of the rural setting, on a summers evening are beautiful. I’m coeliac and I can say that their gluten free pizza, was one of the best I’ve had in almost 20 years of being coeliac. Simply order online, through their link on the Henham Park site, or through their instagram account, then turn up and enjoy!

8. From May 2021 Southwold common has been the venue for an outdoor cinema. With films donated by local resident Richard Curtis, expect favourites such as Bridget Jones’s Diary and Emma and what better way to spend a summer evening than with a view of the sea in front of you and an Adnams pub next to you.

9. Visit the handsome town of Woodbridge for some great independent shopping. 

Around the area of Church Street are some of the best on offer including:

Vanil is a lovely store selling contemporary home wares and interior items, such as origami fabric lighting by @foldedsideproject and colourful braided eco rugs.

Uniform research is a great one stop shop for contemporary clothing brands with a selection of gender neutral clothing from brands such as Rains and Folk and a small selection of contemporary homewares and terrariums by Manchester based Northern Lights.

Charlotte crofts & Co Interior design shop stocks some amazing wallpapers and interior accessories, with a real emphasis on colour and form. Charlotte has an incredible eye and has some beautiful and really interesting pieces in her shop. The front is painted with a trompe l’oeil effect in bright turquoise giving a glimpse of what to expect inside.

The Merchants Table is the most beautiful gallery style shop which focus’s on hand made products by British artists and makers, that can be used on or around a table. It is absolutely stunning and sells items such as these hand painted oyster shells and mounts for frames.

New Street Market and canteen is a lifestyle shop and cafe, selling beautiful table ware and pottery by Pascale, clothes from Homespun who create their collection using ethical cashmere, plants and flowers all housed in a huge, former antiques warehouse.

10. For a change of coastal scenery, visit Aldeburgh, home of composer Benjamin Britten and walk along the beach towards Thorpness to view the giant bronze scallop shell sculpture by artist Maggie Hambling, created in honour of him. Aldeburgh is a lovely town with a wide High street which is parallel to the beach and home to quite a few antique book shops, Two Magpies bakery, who also have a branch in Southwold and the best fish and chips in Suffolk, The Golden Galleon, an honour bestowed by Delia Smith many years ago which means the queues are long but the wait is worth it. Take them down to the shingle beach and eat al fresco with a pint from one of the local beach side pubs. The beach is lined with black wooden shacks, a regular feature of this part of the coastline, from which you can buy seafood, fresh fish or smoked fish. One or two of the huts, have their own smokery, so this is as fresh and authentic as it gets. A drive 5 minutes down the coast road will bring you to Thorpness, a quirky village built purposely for holidays at the beginning of the 20th Century, with a village green and Duck Pond and some of the loveliest coastal houses I’ve ever seen. See them and weep. One of the most famous follies in the area is The House in The Clouds which which can now be hired for a holiday and typifies this eccentric village perfectly.

Finally when the sun comes out and you want to get away from the crowds, head to Cove Hithe beach which is on the road to Beccles and is a national nature reserve. Park up on the street near the Church and a hand painted sign “To the Beach” will take you on foot through farmers fields of planted crops. After a 10 minute walk you’ll arrive at an oasis. A beautiful lagoon surrounded by sand dunes and petrified trees which have fallen onto the beach, as the coastline has eroded, leaves way for miles of white sand, with not an ice cream van, a cafe or facilities in site. Come prepared with food and drink if you’re staying for a few hours and then just sit back and enjoy the peace and relax!

 

 

 

 

Decorating our bedroom with bauwerk limewash paint

It’s been a long time since we redecorated our bedroom, mainly because I really liked the scheme which was kind of timeless with soft grey wallpaper, Mimosa by Cole & Son and walls painted in Pink Ground by Farrow & Ball, but it was looking tired and since using Bauwerk lime paint on a photography set that I designed a few years back and writing a blog post about all the different types of natural paint, which you can read here, I really wanted to use it in our own home.

The soft chalky texture and natural pigments were perfect for the type of bedroom scheme I wanted to create, which was a mix of warm earthy colours and using as many natural, sustainable, materials as possible, to create a grounded and calm atmosphere, so important for me in a bedroom and also for my husband, who struggles to get to sleep easily.

I chose a shade called Witch Hazel, which is a warm, milky latte colour. I wanted a neutral and light background, but something with a warm tone and this shade is absolutely perfect.

I’d also had an image I’d saved a long time ago from the instagram account of @emilslotte of a lovely warm toned painted cupboard. We have fitted cupboards in our bedroom alcoves, which we made from reclaimed doors. I’d ordered so many paint tester pots to find just the right shade of an antique tea rose, with not too much pink and when I opened Rouge II by Paint & Paper Library, I knew I’d found it. I love this colour so much, we’ve since painted our front door in it too.

Although I absolutely loved Emily’s cupboard, I wanted to bring elements of small scale patterns into the room but without covering the walls with wallpaper, so after creating a Pinterest board with ideas inspired by Matisse, Jean Cocteau, The Bloomsbury group and Swedish Antique hand painted furniture, I developed an idea for a pattern, which was a bit of a hybrid of some of these influences and asked my very clever and artistic husband to hand paint the pattern over the top of the cupboards. I love the result and if you do too but are worried about going free hand, then you could always cut a stencil first or buy something similar from Etsy or Annie Sloan.

Working with the colours of the walls and the hand painted cupboards and wanting all the materials I used to be as natural as possible, I chose 100% linen bedding in tea rose and natural linen colours from H&M Home and a further set of 100% linen pillowcases in a cumin colour from the Secret Linen Store to layer all the colours up. I also loved the pretty sprig flower pillowcases from Garbo & friends, which is predominantly a children’s store but they also have a range of adult sized bedding. As I couldn’t find the right shade with them, I ordered some Tana Lawn fabric from Liberty, in a warm olive colour with a tiny cream sprig leaf, which I will make a set of pillowcases from, for further layering.

I love fabrics so much and although I usually always go for plain linen curtains in my home, I knew I wanted to introduce another pattern and colour into the scheme. I’d already bought the Emilie grey fabric shaded wall lights from Soho Home, so I chose a grey linen mix fabric with a leaf and palm print from a local fabric shop that sells, discontinued and end of rolls of beautiful designer fabrics. I can’t even tell you who the fabric is by, as I bought the entire roll for our curtains, and as there wasn’t quite enough for the length and width that I wanted, I asked the maker to add a tonal band of plain grey linen to the drops. This is a clever way of reducing the price of expensive hand made curtains if you want to use a designer fabric that’s expensive. By adding a deep band of plain, cheaper fabric to the bottom or top of the curtains, you can reduce the overall price and if you love this look, adding a border or band of velvet looks super smart and luxe.

For similar types of fabric to the one I used I would check out Rapture & wright, Botanica Trading & Penny Morrison Ltd all available at The fabric Collective and I always look at Haines Collection for discounted small batches of designer fabrics.

To add lots of texture to the room to compliment the shades and shadows of the lime paint, I added a raffia three tiered chandelier hand made in Morocco from a local concept store So Marrakesh in Altrincham Cheshire. They are now once again taking pre orders online for these lights. I also replaced the existing seagrass in our room, with a new fitted version from Crucial Trading. I’ve used seagrass in most our our rooms, in both houses we’ve owned, for the last 30 years and it’s so practical, durable and tactile, I wouldn’t use anything else, unless I wanted a completely different finish, in wood or tiles.

So Marrakesh in Altrincham Cheshire

When I’m designing a room, I always like to bring some black accents into the scheme to weight it down. Whether that be just some black frames for art work or in this case, 2 matching bedside cabinets from La Redoute. I was apprehensive about using these at first, as they weren’t wood, but the brief from my husband, was that he wanted something with a drawer by his bed, to put his books and headphones in and trying to get anything narrow enough to go by our bed, with a drawer that wasn’t either contemporary, too mid century looking or shabby chic, within our budget, was almost impossible, until I saw these. I did look at some lovely cane bed cabs which fitted the brief and the budget but I’m always conscious of using anything too trend led, as it can just as quickly fall out of fashion. These arrived and have a lovely elegant shape, brass accents that match our vintage framed artwork, 2 drawers, (bonus) and they actually look perfect.

I would also just add here, I was a bit nervous about using lime paint as I thought there was such a technique to applying it, but there isn’t at all really. Just use a wide brush and cross hatch overlapping strokes and keep layering up coats, waiting for each to dry throughly first, until you achieve the look you want. It does mark quite easily, as it’s very porous, so I probably wouldn’t recommend using it in a high traffic area such as a kitchen if you cook a lot, or a Childs room, but if you keep some paint back, you can always repaint over any marks.

I’ve added a mood board here with links to any of the brands we used, should you be interested in any of the items.

  1. Bauwerk Colour paint Witch Hazel
  2. Raffia Riad light So Marrakesh
  3. Emilie Wall Light Soho Home, available from Eporta
  4. Rouge II Paint & paper Library
  5. Novani Black bedside Cabinet La Redoute
  6. 100% natural bed line H&M Home
  7. Tea rose washed line bedding La Redoute
  8. Curtain fabric from a range of suggested suppliers above
  9. Original vintage artwork – similar from King & McGaw
  10. Glenjade Tana Lawn cotton fabric Liberty
  11. basket weave seagrass flooring Crucial Trading

 

The New Interior Trends for 2021

 

Usually at the beginning of a new year magazine editors, journalists, interior designers, stylists, brands and influencers are all looking at what the new trends are that are needed to be interpreted, written about, photographed or posted on social media.

Image Dulux

These trends are forecast 2 years in advance and then gradually trickled down to the High Street and into our homes. But 2 years ago not one of us could have predicted what sort of insular world we would now be living in and how catastrophically our lives would have changed.

Suddenly trends seem to be as outdated as the Dodo. All any of us want is familiarity, comfort, security and nostalgia for the world we left behind pre March 2020 and so it’s inevitable that the biggest trends of 2021, apart from the home office, no surprise there, are heritage, classic design, vintage, antiques, shabby chic, versions of cottage core, one slightly more luxe if rocking chairs and liberty fabrics aren’t quite your bag. Any others that might have previously been predicted have pivoted.

So in a quick round up of what we can expect homes on Pinterest and Instagram to look like for 2021, here is my edit and take on the “trends” that the media are talking about and if your home already looks like a version of this, then you are bang on trend as the biggest trend of all is sustainability, buying well and buying the best of it’s kind and then, close your ears influencers, keeping it for more than 6 months! No serial decorating, throwing out your furniture with the bath water, retiling the whole of the kitchen or bathroom every time a new design has a moment. Yes the only trend worth following this year, is having a home that is your sanctuary and your refuge from this crazy world we are all part of.

Vintage

Reclaimed, repurposed, vintage, antiques, all are having a huge influence on interiors as we look to create familiar surroundings, with a mindfulness and consciousness to the environment. The heritage nature of this look, which includes using lots of wooden pieces, provides a feeling of nostalgia and familiarity which is something we’re all craving.

image Berdoulat_interior_design

Classic Traditionalism

Symmetry, timeless design, art on walls, beautiful textiles and a return to patterned textiles on curtains, walls and flooring, although not necessarily all together, create a sense of harmony & comfort. This style is perfectly demonstrated  by the type of interiors created by the design team at Soho House hotels and who better to learn from? If you’re looking for inspiration for this look, I’d recommend their book “Morning, Noon, Night” which I received as a gift for Christmas. It’s full of beautiful comfortable room ideas.

image Soho House Barcelona
Image Ben Pentreath

Shabby Chic

I can’t quite believe I’m typing this word. This is the trend that just keeps giving and this year it’s back strong, with a real return to hand painted and distressed furniture, made popular by Annie Sloan and Rachel Ashwell. If you can’t find original chippy painted pieces from Europe, and it’s not easy during a pandemic with all the antique fairs and shops closed, although there’s still lots of great antique furniture dealers online, that can organise a courier, why not have a go yourself with some chalk paint, clear wax and lots of elbow grease? The home of Pearl Lowe and her book Faded Glamour is also great for looking for inspiration for this romantic look.

The home of designer Pearl Lowe is full of shabby chic items. Image House & Garden

Eco & sustainability

As I’ve said before, this isn’t really a trend, it’s fast becoming a lifestyle choice for many which is really the same category where all these other trends fall under. This focuses on using small batch goods and hand made items though rather than recycling and has a definite connection with the hand crafted. Introduce textiles that have been hand blocked such as the designs made by Molly Mahon. Use materials such as linen, organic cotton and wool in warm tones such as ochre, moss green and stone. This is a look that relies on investing in pieces with longevity, durability and quality. Our desire for mass produced, cheap throwaway products with a huge carbon footprint, that change as quickly as the weather, is coming to an end and if the figures seen recently on global warming are to be taken seriously, they need to!

image of Molly Mahons home from Sophie Robinson blog

Distant shores

As our last poolside or coastal holiday becomes a faded memory with no firm plans for travel in the foreseeable future, it’s no surprise that we crave the colours of the exotic and the ocean. Using patterns featuring tropical flowers, leaves and fruit against a backdrop of bright colours, on wallpapers and fabrics helps to bring the outdoors in. For a more subdued version of this look use tropical flowers and patterned fabrics against a more muted background of dark inky colours.

image Homes & Gardens

Rustic Vogue

This is a more sophisticated look on last years Cottage core which you can read more about in my blog post here. Whilst cottage core was perfect for a period property with oodles of original features, this look is all about creating it yourself. If you haven’t got original period features in your home, try adding them with faux panelling, reclaimed flooring or natural fibre flooring such as sisal or seagrass and patterned textiles in a natural colour palette, layered up.

Image Homes & Gardens

cosy corners and nooks

whilst many of us have had to create some form of home office for working, the other key trend that’s emerged from lockdown is the need for a space of ones own, a place to escape the rest of the clan that we’ve been forced to spend more time with than usual. The result of this dilemma is the emergence of the reading corner or the cosy nook created in a part of the house where we can escape to knit, listen to a podcast or scroll on our phones in peace. All that’s needed is a quiet corner, an armchair, side table for drink, book etc and some cushions and a throw for those colder days of winter, bookcase optional but a bonus 🙂

Image source Pinterest



I love this clever use of space by @osborninteriors which would make the perfect cosy nook for curling up with a favourite book.


Bookcase envy @realrobbentley
My own reading corner next to the natural light and bookcase.

 

 

Cottagecore Trend – What is it, why is it trending and how to create it

The aesthetic for cottagecore trend has been around for some time but since lockdown, in March, the look has been growing steadily with over 700,000 hashtags relating to it currently on instagram.

In a nutshell cottagecore is what it says on the tin. It’s a hark back to country life style, ditsy prints, antiques, farmhouse style kitchens, crafting, baking and making. After the first few months of lockdown from March this year, when the world literally stopped, we all embraced the slower pace of life. I don’t think there was any celebrity worth their salt on instagram that wasn’t talking about their sour dough starter and as the sun shone and spring sprung, we all started baking, gardening, walking instead of driving and nesting in our homes which was the only place we could spend any time.

Image Skye McAlpine

It’s an aesthetic I’ve personally always held dear to my heart. A few years ago when I was a little younger, I embraced anything that looked vaguely as though Laura Ingalls, in Little House on The Prairie, would have worn it. In fact one stylist I regularly worked with, used to call it my Victorian orphan Workhouse look, a compliment I was delighted to receive 🙂

Give me an enamel plate, rough linen bedding, a jug of foraged cow parsley picked from a country lane and a nonchalantly placed market basket on a kitchen stool, any day of the week, and in short there you have it, cottagecore.

Our kitchen with foraged finds

Sustainabilty and ethical living has been a lifestyle showcased by many influencers over recent years but now propelled through lockdown, this way of living, or certainly this look, has reached the main stream and the High Street.

Homewares by H&M Home

Below are some reference shots of how to create the look at home. Consider Liberty style small prints on fabrics, lots of antiques, cluttered styling particularly in the kitchen, layered bread boards, open shelves groaning with mismatched crockery and pottery, a reading nook, filled with books and preferably a vintage arm chair, neutral colours on walls or lime plaster paint & natural flooring.

If you want to dress like your home, anything long and floral will do the job with a hand knitted cardigan and prairie style lace up boots, oh and of course a large oversized lace collar, very du jour! For some amazing vintage prairie style dresses, feast your eyes on The Pansy Garden

The Pansy Garden

Heidi style plaits on top of your head an option, possibly based on your age, but hey I’m not judging 🙂

 

 

 

The Modern Bohemians and Creating an Aesthetic Movement Style Interior

The aesthetic movement was a reaction against the mass production of the industrial revolution at the turn of the last century and it’s no coincidence that many of the design ideas that were made popular then, by artists and designers such as William Morris and Dante Rossetti, have re-emerged as trends over the last few years in our own homes.

The look was embraced by the middle classes of the time, who filled their homes with art work, hand made textiles, exotic woven rugs and hand carved and embellished furniture, influenced by the onset of overseas travel by the upper classes. Many of these designs, imported from countries such as Japan and India, could be bought from high class stores such as Liberty in London and this style was quickly embraced by creative thinkers and bohemians.

The arts & crafts building of Liberty London
The interior of the wonderful grade II listed Malplaquet House in London’s East End restored & decorated in an Aesthetic style

William Morris is famously remembered for his quote

“Have noting in your house(s) that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”

William Morris original wallpaper Designs have enjoyed a revival in modern homes recently.

It’s no surprise that this look has become embraced again in our homes by modern Bohemians such as TV presenter Laura Jackson. There is a definite reaction again to the consumerism of the past decade where homewares have been mass produced in the 100s of thousands in factories far across the globe. There’s a real appreciation again of hand crafted and hand made, small batch good, mixed together with salvaged antiques and vintage treasures which Laura’s house beautifully demonstrates.

 

The home of Laura Jackson

Melbourne Interior designer Tigger Hall’s eclectic home is another beautiful example of this style.
Exotic details and heavy use of pattern and textiles in Tigger Hall’s home

I’ve put together a mood board below on how to get this look with a mixture of vintage and, where possible, ethical and consciously made pieces. I hope Mr Morris would be happy.