Alfresco Living

Last weekend we made our first visit of the year to the garden centre where we spent the equivalent of the world debt on plants which when brought home barely filled one corner of the patio. In for a penny we thought so decided to completely go for it and bought the most gorgeous crewel work parasol,with the exact olive green coloured pom poms to match the wall in the back room, which can be seen from the garden when the French doors are open. I know, I know, it’s sad but I can’t resist attention to detail! With the new parasol resplendent in the garden our outdoor furniture suddenly looked more shabby than chic so this weeks shopping mission is to secure some new furniture to complete the scene. I am completely torn between keeping it vintage, which is always my first love and going for something contemporary but pared down and timeless. There are so many options and some great high street bargains.

My lovely new parasol standing proud in the sunshine!

I love this light weight fibrestone table and cube stools by Habitat but it isn’t entirely practical as it has to be brought indoors in heavy rain, which lets face it in Blighty is most of the time.

Another great design for outdoor living by Habitat is this Kilo table. The wooden legs look great with the white metal top, which is both durable and practical. To bring a bit of colour into the garden I am considering the Air chair by Jasper Morrison, which come in a range of colours from bright pink to a more sobre olive. They are a design classic and can be stacked for easy storage.

B&Q have a fantastic choice of outdoor furniture this year and at unbeatable prices. They really have raised their game in recent years with some products hard to distinguish from designer pieces. Nice styling Alwyn!

I absolutely love this Danish 1960’s retro set and would sell my soul to the devil to get my hands on it but sadly it now belongs to another. I came across it on the online retro trader Bleu Furniture who are based in London but source on a regular basis on buying trips to Europe.

The white company are masters at beautifully styling their marketing shots and this image perfectly captures summer outdoor living for me. The white Parasol is £250 but I have seen it on other websites for £175.00 so worth doing some shopping about first. The vintage chairs and table are still a favourite style of mine and I was hoping to bring some back with me from Newark but they are getting harder to source now that vintage style is more main stream. It’s always worth checking out salvage yards who can always look out for specific items for you on their buying trips. Try In-situ based in Manchester and Cheshire Demolition in Macclesfield.

Scarlet Fever

The Spring/Summer ’11 issue of trend forecasting magazine Mix Trends is predicting the colour scarlet, anchored with a neutral palette, as a look we will see coming through in the near future.

Red always works well as an accent colour, The interior designer David Hicks said that a room was never finished without a touch of red. It certainly brings a look to life, think of Coco Chanel with her monochrome uniforms and a slash of red lipstick which lifted the whole palette and turned her monastic designs into something sexy and sophisticated.

On this note the next purchase for my spring summer wardrobe will be this vintage inspired dress by Pearl Lowe for Peacocks. The bright red fabric across the back of the dress is the perfect surprise and at £40.00 leaves change for some statement wedges. Don’t think I’ll be working it quite like the lovely Daisy though!

Bargain Hunter

Last Thursday I had a great day out at Newark Antique fair in Nottingham. It’s a treasure trove of antiques, textiles, vintage and retro finds. The 2 day event is held 6 times a year with 100’s of dealers from the Uk and Europe. The first day of trading is the day to go if you’re looking for something particular, as it’s trade day with all the dealers, buyers and stylists attending, so make an early start and prepare to part with £20 entrance fee before you get past the gate. I was looking for some industrial sewing machine chairs but reckon the Pedlars buyer must have beat me to it as there wasn’t one there!

The second day of trading is only £5 entrance fee but again get there early as many of the traders start packing up around lunch time to make their way back home, especially if they’ve had a lucrative day the day before. This means however there are lots of bargains to be had as they all want to take an empty van back on the ferry so be prepared to haggle.

Amongst my finds this time was a bag full of old french linen and lace pieces for £1.00 each, which I intend to make into patchwork curtain panels (see the pic on my last blog) and a beautiful sequinned art deco collar to smarten up all my plain t-shirts and dresses, for £10.00, very Alexa Chung!

Check out the calendar on the link below for next Newark dates and other antique fairs around the country.

Pale & Interesting

All this sunny weather is making me want to lighten and brighten my home. It’s time to store away the velvet cushions and wool throws and bring out the crisp cotton, polish the glass and make some sprig floral fabrics into cushions. I love the pretty curtains in the picture below, made from a collection of vintage tablecloths, which have really inspired me to get my sewing machine out.

Vintage Vacations

With the sun shining in the sky, the blossom on the trees and the days lasting longer, my thoughts have turned recently to holidays. As the lucky owner of a 1976 Westfalia Camper, I love the idea of getting away from it all, no TV, phones or laptops for me or my family (if we can possibly avoid it) A few years ago my day job was selling vintage clothes and textiles and one of my regular customers was Helen Carey, the owner of vintage vacations. Back then Helen and her husband owned a handful of Airstreams which they kept in a small field on the beautiful Isle of White. Well wow how times have changed, Helen is now the owner of her own site and has bagged a few amazing rental properties along the way. All are very special and are the perfect hide away for anybody obsessed with vintage and retro styling. Helen was a London stylist in a previous life, so knows exactly how to pull a scheme together. Take a look at some of the properties for hire and drool.

Another vintage caravan site which I am hoping to visit is based near Whitby and if you liked Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, you’ll love these caravans. I hear Kate Moss is having a BFGW theme for her hen weekend, this would have been a great venue for her and her hens!

Another gorgeous retreat which offers shepherds huts, old school caravans loving restored and outdoor bathing in a roll top bath is Love Lane in Cornwall. What could be more relaxing and decadent than neck deep in bubbles in a field on midsummer’s evening?