Design Inspiration: Henrie Haldane

On my last trip to England I managed to connect with the talented painter Henrie Haldane. We originally met through a women’s business network and I was instantly captivated by her work. Lovely Man and I commissioned this 20140731-081248-29568428.jpgfor our house in England, inspired by photographs I’ve taken of nearby lakes.

She now lives in Spain and the colours and light of her new home shine through in her latest works. 20140731-071513-26113813.jpgWe commissioned another painting, in a darker palette inspired by this20140731-071513-26113055.jpg and on my current trip I’ve finally been able to see it in place.  

 Isn’t it gorgeous?

Henrie can be contacted via her website



Design Inspiration: Ainu Attush

The Ainu are an indigenous people of theislands of Hokkaido and Honshu in Japan, and Sakhalin and Kuril in Russia. Originally hunter-gatherers, they made clothing from many materials including animal hide, bird and fish skin. But the fabric perhaps most associated with the Ainu is attush, made from the bark of the elm and other trees which is soaked, made into yarn and woven. Garments could take many months to make, and are amongst the most spectacular designs of ethnic clothing in the world. As contact developed with Edo Japan, cotton and silk were incorporated into the garments, but the intricate designs are unique, and authentic vintage Ainu garments are now highly sought after and very expensive

Ainu robe montage


Monday Pinspiration: New England Style

Back in England for some necessary chores and thinking of what needs doing to our house here. The living room is in sore need of an update! Apart from installing some bookshelves, we’ve done virtually nothing to the room since we moved in almost 10 years ago and it’s starting to look tired. The sofa, in particular, is beginning to look a little shabby.
Currently everything is pretty neutral (whites/creams and natural oak) and I’m wondering about introducing a colour. The house is “New England” style and it’s by a lake, so the obvious direction is Cape Cod/Hamptons (without too many nautical clichés!). Plus we have a beautiful abstract landscape by our friend Henrie Haldane in tones of blue and brown so it would be nice to pick up on some of those shades.
So maybe a slatey-blue sofa? IMG_0310Or tan/brown?
IMG_0283Or a mix of the two? IMG_0281I love the contrast piping on this image!
Maybe I should recover the armchair in a contrast colour? IMG_0284 IMG_0286And keep the sofa light…
with contrast cushions?IMG_0301
(not the anchor, in case you were wondering, but I love the knitted stripes).
I definitely want to bring in some texture: rope and wicker baskets, driftwood, chunky knits and soft throws.
IMG_0304 IMG_0309 IMG_0280
Another of Henrie’s paintings would be lovely. IMG_0294And I’ve taken quite a lot of photos of the lake over the years, so maybe some should go on display? IMG_0306 IMG_0307What do you think?
All images from Pinterest

House Update: Guest Rooms

What makes the ideal guest room? We are expecting a visit from Loveley Man’s’s eldest daughter and her family this week so this question is very much on my mind. For me, the perfect room combines practicality with comfort, and I take inspiration from some of the nicer hotels I have stayed in.

First is the bed. I’m a bit of a princess when it comes to sleeping, so I add a down topper to the mattress. Good quality linens that feel gorgeous on the skin. A pretty spread. Plenty of pillows for comfort and support. And an extra blanket for snuggling – rarely needed in California I know, but so cosy!


Closet space and hangers. Guests may be only staying overnight, but they’ll probably need to hang SOMETHING. My parents always complained that the guest rooms in our English house had no hanging space so I ended up putting a bar and hangers on the back of the bedroom door. Better than nothing. The house here has built-in closets in every bedroom (got to love America!) so I just need to add hangers.

A night stand with good lighting for reading. Storage for loose items…I use pretty plates.


Adequate (and easily found) sockets/outlets. This is my biggest beef with a lot of hotel rooms – where do you plug in your phone or camera charger? That said, I once stayed in a hotel which had sockets built into the bases of its table lamps. Genius! At home I make do with power strips or charging butlers. I also stash spare phone leads in the drawer of the nightstand in case a guest forgets theirs.

Lots of  towels. I like to wrap myself in a bath sheet when I’m done in the bath or shower but I also add smaller towels and face cloths, prominently displayed.


The guest room also has a couple of hotel-style bathrobes, for extra welcoming factor…

Spare toilet rolls. There’s nothing more embarrassing than having to ask..! I learned from experience and keep a basket by every toilet in the house. I also make sure I have spare toothbrushes, razors etc. available, just in case.


That’s the necessities covered. Then come the welcoming touches that make people feel you are glad to have them stay! Flowers or a pretty plant in the bedroom are a nice touch, but again I tend to lean towards the practical…

Lotions and potions. Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, soap…you get the idea. I like L’Occitane’s Verveine (Verbena) range, which smells so refreshing in the morning, and is available in travel sizes. And the leaf-shaped guest soaps are so cute!


But this idea


is nice too……a future project! And a scented pillow spray to encourage peaceful sleep…

A hair dryer. And a mirror. This Venetian beauty


came with us from England.

Midnight snacks! So nice not to have to wander around a strange house in the dark if you can’t sleep! While we can’t run to guest mini-bars, I do provide a tray with an electric kettle, cups, and a choice of teas, coffee and hot chocolate, plus nibbles and a water carafe and glass.


An iron. My everyday iron is one of those scary steam-generating types, so I have a spare for guests. I also have a dinky table-top ironing board from my dress-designing days that hangs in the guest closet, too.

And books! I rarely travel without them, but it’s always nice to have some new reading matter. There are bookshelves in almost every room of our house but for guests I try to offer some favourite easy reads, plus a selection of local guides.


What would be in your ideal guest room?