The brown bowls that you'll love more than bell bottoms

I didn't think the new Studio Craft range from Denby Pottery was for me. The hipsters? definitely. The skandis? for sure. But pretty vintage tea plate loving me? Not so much.

The artisinal beauty of Denby Pottery's Studio Craft range 

The artisinal beauty of Denby Pottery's Studio Craft range 

I was wrong.

Since living with a selection of stackable Studio Craft bowls for oooh, all of a month, I've become totally and utterly nuts for them. And I'm talking all of the nuts - brazil, pecan, cashew, coco. Colourwise, there's a real natural nuttiness to the whole range that will have you collecting different co-ordinating pieces like a squirrel in September.

Mix and Match Studio Craft bowls by Denby Pottery

Mix and Match Studio Craft bowls by Denby Pottery

Trust me, I did not see this coming but there it is, the full Studio Craft set, pinned and poised on my new kitchen mood board, along with a pair of sky blue corduroys and some Portuguese cowboy boots. Go figure!

My kitchen mood board flares

My kitchen mood board flares

So how did this little brown swerve ball come so blatantly out of the blue? Well I blame my sideboard. Despite my spray painted kitchen dresser being bang-on-trend baby blue, it was beginning to give me a headache. Then, one by one, as I unpacked the taster set of stackable Studio Craft bowls so very kindly sent to me in varying shades of seventies beige, something soothing happened. I can only aliken it to the feeling hippies get when they slip on a pair of sensible Birkenstocks with their crazy demin flares. I think you call it peace, man. 

Denby's brown bowls I'm now nuts for

Denby's brown bowls I'm now nuts for

Brown, it seems, is the earthy, grounding neutral that my beloved sweet shades need. I've noticed this with the brown furniture I keep acquiring and the same is true for pottery. Like a battered brown leather vintage sofa, there's a wholesomeness to Denby's Studio Craft range that takes the sweetness off my beloved pastel colours and gives them a far more palatable retro vibe. 

A set of four co-ordinating stacking bowls from the Studio Craft range by Denby

A set of four co-ordinating stacking bowls from the Studio Craft range by Denby

Now I know what you're thinking. Last week I was banging on about vibrant, Mexican inspired tableware and less than seven days later, I've gone Geography teacher brown on you. Well I'm a fickle fashion follower, I'll give you that, but this one is far more of a keeper.  See, much as I love Sainsbury's South American set for all its playfulness, I happily handed it over to my 18-year-old niece in return for her doing the washing up. The same cannot be said for the studio craft set and I dare say she won't be a bit bothered. Brown and teenagers tend not to mix.

Bright and playful is perfect for summer, for parties, for brightening up dingy student kitchens and I'm all for that. But when you've got a lot of colour and pattern going on elsewhere in the house, as I have, it's important not to overdo it - especially with your everyday homewares. And that's what this range excels at. It's the perfect base for toning down, for sobering up, for getting your sensible head on - Geography teacher style (you know - the kind that you secretly fancy). The mottled glaze has a woody, artisinal purity about it that allows me to play with sweeter colours in a far more grown up - and infinitely cooler - way.  Introducing the elements to my new kitchen will, I feel, ground it and encourage that fickle fashionista in me to think beyond next season.

The mix of earthy vintage browns and bright modern blues that is my current retro style crush. Image via e_manciu on Instagram

The mix of earthy vintage browns and bright modern blues that is my current retro style crush. Image via e_manciu on Instagram

The combination of earthy browns and bright modern blues creates an unmistakeable retro vibe, that I'm mad for. Call it hippy, hipster or just plain hip, I'm ready to fill my platform boots (and my dresser) with Denby Studio Craft and nobody could be more surprised by that style development than me. Give it a try, it's a marmite set for sure, but I think it may surprise you. See the full set here.

Claire 

Hello student digs, Hola! hip Sainsbury's Homewares

Students these days... and yes I did just roll my eyes. In my day you were lucky if your digs weren't rat infested. Today, they demand freshly painted walls, en-suite facilities a George Foreman grill and a Nutribullet. The nerve of 'em! What happened to warming up Farm Foods beans over a bunsen burner? (ancient student folklore says that actually happened).

Today's students want a lot more dish for their dosh and who can blame them, considering they'll be paying off their fees for the next 20 years - a whole other political minefield that I'm not qualified to go into. What I am a professor in, however, is hip, affordable House Candy and if you're waving off a loved one soon (or you yourself are packing your cases) you need to hot foot it to Sainsbury's THIS VERY WEEK to snap up the last of their bright and breezy South American homewares line. The students are, like, mad-fer-it and my niece is proof. So much so that when I invited her around to my send-off soup kitchen yesterday, I let her take the bowls home.

Here's how to send students off to fend for themselves with fire in their belly and House Candy in their hearts. 

Sainsbury's Home South American tableware range in store until 20th September

Sainsbury's Home South American tableware range in store until 20th September

My Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot End of Summer Soup

Sainsbury's Home South American range had me at Hola. Its bright colours, Aztec patterning and mix and match versatility makes it perfect for adding some vibrancy to very basic student kitchens. It inspired me to dig out Thomasina Miers' brilliant Mexican Food Made Simple cook book - a bible for social eating ideas - and cook up something hot and nutritious to stretch out the last days of summer and brighten up a grey day. 

In it I found the recipe for Sweet and Spicy Squash and Chick Pea Soup  - the perfect easy meal to make now and freeze for later, or pad out to feed an entire hockey team. Just add extra stock, any spare veg and throw in more beans and spice. It's also one of those dishes you can reinvent three days in a row if you need to get a little more creative with your shopping budget and - best of all - the spices warm your belly so you can go that little bit longer without the heating on ;-)

Sainsbury's South American bowls and plates come in a variety of vibrant colour contrasting patterns to mix and match 

Sainsbury's South American bowls and plates come in a variety of vibrant colour contrasting patterns to mix and match 

Sweet and Spicy Squash and Chick Pea Soup

For the chilli oil
4 red chillies, cut in half lengthways, seeded and finely diced
A generous pinch of sea salt
100ml extra-virgin olive oil

For the soup
1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small leeks, washed and roughly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 chile de arbol, finely chopped
5 sprigs of oregano or thyme, chopped
1 butternut squash (about 320g), peeled, seeded and chopped into 2.5cm pieces
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
400ml chicken stock
220g cooked chickpeas
Sea salt and black pepper
30g lancashire cheese, grated, to serve

For the chilli oil, mix together the chillies and salt in a small bowl and gradually add the olive oil. The oil should only just cover the chilli, otherwise you are left with a lot of oil and not much heat. Leave to infuse for 30 minutes before using.

For the soup, warm the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan, then grind in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Cook the leeks for 5 minutes over a medium heat until tender, then add the garlic, chile de arbol, oregano/thyme and cumin and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the squash, the cinnamon stick and bay leaf and stir. Pour over the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the squash is soft but not falling apart. Add the chickpeas and season. Serve with the grated cheese sprinkled on top and drizzle each portion with chilli oil.

Colourfully edged serving platters are perfect for displaying rustic breads.

Colourfully edged serving platters are perfect for displaying rustic breads.

Sainsburys Home is my go-to for affordable luxury and bang on-trend bargains. A word of warning though, their ranges move fast so my advice is to bang it in your trolley while you can. The South American range is supposed to be in store until 20th September and appears to be no longer available on-line. Head to one of the bigger superstores for the best range to kit out the new breed of student super snobs in style. 

Hey, if you enjoyed this post, please remember I'm still a student too - I'm learning on the job in the big, bad business of blogging (where cheesy alliteration is totally acceptable btw) so I totally need your vote in order to make the grade. PLEASE bob my a vote here http://www.interiorblogawards.com/vote/my-house-candy-blog/ and share, share, share away to send me off in a spangly new dress to the fancy awards do.

Thank you, happy weekend and happy studies

Claire xxx 

 

 

 

The Posh Push is ON. Are you?

If I was a Spice Girl, I would have been Posh. In fact, when I got married a few months after Victoria Beckham, wearing a not dissimilar gold satin gown, tiara perched atop my spiky cropped hair do, I earned the moniker Posh Price and I think my husband would agree that I've done the title proud. 

Queen VB showing us how to Spice up your bath

Queen VB showing us how to Spice up your bath

I've always had aspirations of grandeur, even when stuck with a student budget because; fortune or fiver, I believe you should spend your hard-earned cash wisely. Well, don't you?

So flying the flag for Luxury Blog in the Amara Interior Blog Awards this year feels a bit like a homecoming. I actually believe this is where I was heading all along. Here's where I can write, to my heart's content, about the stuff I adore - beautiful, aspirational homewares that quite frankly send me gaga.

I'm also the one to show you how a five-pound charity shop scoop can be styled to look like a designer gem. Remember VB's Gucci-esque LBD that was actually M&S? You can totally do the same with House Candy, you've just got to know what to look for.

So as the closing date for votes in the Interior Blog Awards approaches (15th September to be precise) I am required to do one last push for your votes and I wanted to make it a posh one.

See, posh is where it's at people. Luxe is everywhere and (luckily) at every price point in the interior design market. You no longer need VB's bank balance to bag a super expensive look for your home. Instead, it's about being style savvy with your spending and it's my job to show you how.

If I make it through to the shortlist and therefore into the territory of Serious Blogger Status, I will be committed to bringing you the very best in:

  • Top drawer interior House Candy worth investing in.
  • High-end designer trends that we can translate into even the most modest of abodes.
  • Vintage accessorizing and cheeky up cycles to give your home that luxury eclectic vibe, even on a shoestring budget.

Fashion Bunnies*, I need your vote like Victoria Beckham needs her Birkins. PLEASE, in the name of Girl Power will you do me the honour of casting me your vote? Simply click the following link if you too love your House Candy:

http://www.interiorblogawards.com/vote/my-house-candy-blog/

Thank you so much for your support. If you don't hear from me after the shortlist is announced please assume I've run away to join a girl band. I'll be the one wearing the pout.

Claire xxx

*Copyright of Queen Victoria Beckham and never, ever to be used by me again. Promise.

Time to Gucci your Garden Game

Botanical inspired prints have long been a favourite of mine, but I'm acutely aware of the danger for this trend to slip into twee territory. 

Trust Gucci then to provide me with a masterclass in modern botanicals as I flew past Harrods' window on Saturday, attempting to land my eldest son some new trainers. 

Unable to locate the elusive Office store via Google Maps, George and I were treated to a whistle stop tour of the amazing Gucci Garden window display not once, not twice, but FOUR times. Apologies are due to the many tourists, shoppers and residents around London's most iconic shopping destination, whose toes I stepped on, bags I knocked and heads I bumped as I raced along during our 20-minute shopping window, heavily distracted by Harrods' garden of cultivated couture.

Gucci Garden is designer Alessandro Michele's theme for the 2017 Cruise Collection, inspired by the enchanting Garden of Ninfa, near Rome.  Featuring vibrant florals, logos and symbols of the House, this is botanical beauty as we've never seen it before. Whilst the dreamy dresses aren't exactly something I could rock up wearing on the school run, I'm totally inspired to bring this outdoor theme indoors. My sources tell me a Gucci interiors range is set to launch in September (I KNOW!!!) but in case you can't wait for that or need to nab the look for less, here's some ideas to capture the Gucci Garden getup at home:

1) Creature discomforts

Flamingos and zebras are both animals you can imagine strolling round a Gucci Garden and of course I'm totally on board with that. But all is not rosy here, for this enchanted land has a proverbial sting in its tail. To nail the look, update your creature inspired accessories with venomous snakes, precious bees and vicious wild cats.

L to R: Garden of Eden cushion £164 Roberto Cavalli at Amara, Beautiful bird cushion £32 by May Rose Vintage on Etsy, Leopard lampshade £30 May Rose Vintage as before, Gold bumble bee cushion £35 Perch and Parrow

She is famed for her pets but now Abigail Ahern has added some pests to her latest accessories collection and basically folks, if she says ants are cool, I'm happy for a nest of 'em.  

Gold ants £45 Abigail Ahern

Gold ants £45 Abigail Ahern

2) Walls of wonder

If Gucci has the monopoly on vibrant florals in the fashion world, Designer's Guild has it for interiors. Here are just a few of my favourite bold botanicals that are totally in sync with Alessandro Michele's fashion thinking.

L to R Amrapali Peony, Jardin des Plantes, Canopy and Cristian Lacroix wallpapers, all Designers Guild.

3) Fantastical furniture

Timorous Beasties and Blackpop UK are brands to know for fabulous fabrics that transform traditional furniture into works of art that are anything but twee. It's worth knowing that their websites also have some ready made pieces that rock the Garden of Delights theme too. Look for butterfly and hummingbird motifs to be Gucci symbol savvy.

Random Ruskin Khaki Armchair Timorous Beasties

Random Ruskin Khaki Armchair Timorous Beasties

Vintage sofa by Blackpop UK

Vintage sofa by Blackpop UK

So getting back to my wild goose chase in search of trainers for my son last Saturday... there was always a fear we'd get lost, being as we're such out of towners and all, but if I can recommend getting lost anywhere, I'd definitely say do it at Harrods ever changing window displays on Brompton Road. Be quick if, like me, your garden game needs Gucci-ing (Totally a thing, trust me).

OH BUT WAIT...

If you enjoyed this post and it provided you with any interior inspiration whatsoever, I would really appreciate your vote in the Amara Interior Blog Awards, please. I'm a bit like a Humming Bird swooping around the Garden of Ninfa in blogging terms come to think of it. I can be quite difficult to spot amongst the bigger species, but I'd like to think I bring something different, and a lot of decadence to the party. Please click here if you can spare one minute to vote for the small bird in the big, enchanting garden!

Many, many thanks.

Claire xx  

 

My House Candy Luxe List

I like a bit of luxe. There, I've said it. I don't often like to admit to extravagant spending, preferring instead to tell you about the bargains I've picked up at the charity shop or flea market. It's the Yorkshire girl in me you see. We're not keen on show-offs.

Me, showing off my designer wallpaper blogger stylie.

Me, showing off my designer wallpaper blogger stylie.

But there's a different kind of luxury we do like (well I do anyway) and it's not ostentatious or showy at all. It's a level of luxury that's accessible to everyone IF - and this is the crucial factor - IF you know how to balance it. 

I think it's an age thing, but these days I'm keen on spending money wisely. I'm far more conscious of buying things I love that will last, rather than wasting money on throwaway fashion. I'm more passionate about ethically sourced products, I'm more conscious of the environmental effects of buying cheap/buying twice and I'm more respectful of artisanal production methods.

Don't get me wrong, I still love a bargain, who doesn't?  I am proud of the fact that I could furnish a very stylish home out of charity shop and flea market finds and would urge anyone who is strapped for cash to max up on this vital resource. My house is full of thrifty up cycles and if I suddenly won the lottery, would I take the opportunity to upgrade everything to designer brands? Definitely not. But I probably would add a few choice additions to luxe up in areas that I feel would enhance my home.

Here's where it helps to have a Luxe List. These are the items I'm prepared to spend big on in my home and indulge in the very best I can afford. Some of them I already own and now recognise that I could never be without. Others I am aiming for:

The House Candy Luxe List

1) Amazing bed linen

The simple luxury of beautiful bedlinen by The White Company

The simple luxury of beautiful bedlinen by The White Company

That 5-star hotel feeling every time you slip between the sheets? Sweet dreams baby. 

2) A great candle

Diptyque candle £45 www.diptyque.co.uk

Diptyque candle £45 www.diptyque.co.uk

It might be five times the price of a cheap scented candle but it will be five times better. Do your candle maths because a house that smells luxe, feels luxe.

3) Stop-you-in-your-tracks art

Sequential Organisation by Rowan Newton

Sequential Organisation by Rowan Newton

What other bonafide financial investment can you take daily pleasure in and then one day pass on to your grandchildren (who will be forever reminded of your incredible taste)?

4) Wowy wallpaper 

I'd like to think I'd always have at least one room in my house that is fully and decadently wallpapered, even if it's a teeny, weeny downstairs loo. There are lots of designer wallpaper brands I love and so many amazing patterns to try out. Above are just a few of my current faves. My decorating mantra? Life is short, make it pretty.

L to R Birdlands by Blackpop, Lioness & Palms by CommonRoom, Anemones by Kate Moss for DeGournay

5) A silk dressing gown

Gingerlily silk dressing gown £210 www.amara.com

Gingerlily silk dressing gown £210 www.amara.com

So this isn't exactly House Candy and it's a bit diva-ish I know, but since I discovered the difference this little luxury makes to an otherwise highly unglamorous existence, I now know my home will never be without one. 

6) A chair of my own

Upcycled Parker Knoll chair upholstered in Faded Grandeur from the Upperlands fabric collection by William Clark

Upcycled Parker Knoll chair upholstered in Faded Grandeur from the Upperlands fabric collection by William Clark

My sister and I used to scrap over sitting in the same arm chair in the living room. Neither of us would budge so we'd squeeze in there together, sacrificing comfort in favour of principles. Ever since then I've never underestimated the luxury of having your very own chair.

Find a style that you love and look at all the bespoke options that will make it unique to you. A vintage chair makeover is one of my greatest pleasures and in fact, some of the most luxurious looking furniture in my house actually cost peanuts. Pay attention to the craftsmanship and if it's a well-made piece, be willing to spend big on stunning fabric and a great upholsterer to transform it into something totally unique and therefore way more expensive looking than it actually cost.

7) A vintage chandelier

Antique sprial drop chandelier £2,778 www.andythorntons.co.uk

Antique sprial drop chandelier £2,778 www.andythorntons.co.uk

I am a sucker for a chandelier and whilst I know there are some great copycat light fittings in beautiful vintage styles, nothing quite beats an antique one. Andy Thornton's is a treasure trove of reclaimed and antique finds and its lighting collection is top of my lust list.

8) China cups

Cat in a Hat china Mug £16.50 www.amara.com

Cat in a Hat china Mug £16.50 www.amara.com

I'm a tea snob and I don't mind admitting it. But simple pleasures should be savoured and a china cup or mug makes all the difference to my morning cuppa. A builders mug or a takeaway cup just doesn't cut it.

9) A delicious dinner service

The vintage Zambesi dinner service I'm still collecting on Ebay

The vintage Zambesi dinner service I'm still collecting on Ebay

There's something very decadent and a bit Great Granny about collecting a dinner service isn't there? I don't enjoy cooking and find the whole dinner party thing a stressful situation. I get around it by serving up something really simple on beautiful tableware and find that this way no-one really gives a crap about the food.

10) Fresh flowers

My fresh flower habit

My fresh flower habit

I have a quote on my wall that says "If you have two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one and a lily with the other." Inflation aside, bread makes me bloated so I'd definitely buy the flowers. We could wither away together, smelling sweet, not mouldy.

So things change, but currently I'd say these are my top ten luxury purchases. Now when I say House Candy can be anything from a 50p tea cup to a £5,000 chandelier I hope you will have a better understanding of what this actually means to me.

It's not so much their price tag, but what they represent that I believe is important when designing a space that suits your personality. Luxury is a personal matter, but just as it's crass to brag about designer labels, it's also important to take pride in your purchases. Don't buy anything just because it's a bargain. And if you're going to push the boat out, make sure you buy for love, not lust. It's important to know the difference and making your luxe list will help you recognise this.

As luck would have it, I've been nominated for the Amara Interior Blog awards again and this year I am in a new category that is all about showing the love for those precious high-end house purchases. Getting all dressed up and going to a fancy schmancy awards ceremony is a luxury I can only dream about, but here's my chance to make it happen. If you would do me the honour of clicking the link below and voting for me I'll be one pointy leopard print toe closer to living the actual blogger dream. And if you could then share the love we might just be onto something.

PLEASE CLICK THIS LINK TO SHOW YOUR LOVE FOR HOUSE CANDY http://www.interiorblogawards.com/vote/my-house-candy/

Thank you SO much.

In the meantime, I'll keep tapping away on this here keyboard to bring you news of jaw dropping House Candy that we can all at least afford the luxury of lusting after. 

Claire xx

 

 

 

Why a dog made me a better human

Are you an unlikely dog owner? (UDO) Someone who never pictured themselves scooping poop on a regular basis, but who somehow fell into the trap of getting a family dog? 

They call it Puppy Love. We call it Betsy.

They call it Puppy Love. We call it Betsy.

Five years in and I still struggle to identify myself as a dog owner per se. I wasn't brought up with dogs, which appears to be the natural path to Dog Ownership and my husband is certainly not what you'd call a Dog Man (his idea of walking gear constitutes a pair of Converse).

If questioned if he is, in fact, a "Dog Owner", he has been known to forget, quickly adding "Oh hang, on, yes, a small one", referring of course to the size of the hound, rather than his stake in her ownership. 

It's cool. I joke about us being a one parent dog family, but he was never going to be a hands on Doggy Daddy and I am at peace with that fact now. 

It came from nowhere this sudden urge for a four legged addition to the family. I think secretly I was harbouring desires for another child and this felt like the next best thing. So it was me who nagged, me who fell in love with a ball of fluff on one of those casual "just going to see a friend's puppies" kind of days. It was me that returned to see the litter with the kids, knowing that they would multiply my puppy pestering by a million.  And it was me that stood in the garden in my nightie and wellies at 5am every freezing January morning begging her to wee. I wasn't cool with being a one parent dog family on those mornings, believe me.

So bringing Betsy into our lives was all my doing, and - unlikely as it may once have seemed - now, me and the hound, have an unbreakable bond that I have discovered has made me a better person. Even the Unlikely Doggy Daddy (UDD) is grateful to her for that.

Betsy: "I'm not posing 'til you pay me."

Betsy: "I'm not posing 'til you pay me."

If you're thinking of getting a dog you may well (as I did) have thought of the dog bed in the Cath Kidston catalogue that will add some country kitsch to the kitchen. You may have thought of the attention that will be gained from having the cutest of all accessories walking adoringly to heel. You may have considered the extra weight loss you are bound to enjoy from clocking up all those extra steps on your FItbit. All the these points I have found to be bonuses of dog owning, but it's not until this week, when my mum took Betsy and the boys off camping for a week, that I realised quite how much I missed the yappy, needy little mite and appreciated exactly how much she brings to the party. 

These are the things my fellow potential UDO's and all their reluctant UDD's need to know:

1) Dogs only want your time.

OK, they want your food too, but they like your time the most. And no matter what you're doing, how busy your day is panning out, or how little you feel like trudging out in the rain, you have to give it to them otherwise they have the right to shit in your house.

My Betsy is the considerate kind and after pawing on my leg for half an hour whilst I finished off a copywriting job the other morning, her natural needs got the better of her.  Once back from the walk and perplexed at why she hadn't toileted, I discovered her memo in the downstairs loo. The downstairs loo, I ask you! Was she wondering around, her bowels bulging, thinking.... "Maybe if I go in here like they do, it will all be okay?" 

And I swear if she were bigger she'd have tried to get it in the pan. Bless her, she looked bereft at my discovery and so, of course, I was all cuddles. She only asked for my time and I let her down. So I'm really trying not to say "In a minute" quite as much to the dog AND the kids. Sometimes I do it 'cos I'm too busy to even listen and that should never be an excuse, right?

2) Dogs LOVE routine

Now if you were one of those parents who mastered the clockwork baby books, you'll be totally cool with owning a dog. No surprise that I wasn't. I remember there being a sort-of-plan at the beginning of each day with my newborn babies, but as the starts got earlier and earlier, things went to pot. By lunchtime, we were tired and dirty. By tea time we were both weeping, sleep starved wrecks. This won't happen with dogs. They can work around your schedule really quite well - they are the kings of the power nap. But all I'm saying is, they like to operate to a basic plan. And the better the plan, the better behaved they are. 

They expect dinner on the table/floor at the usual time and can get quite irritated if it doesn't happen, regardless of whether you threw them a chunk of KitKat half an hour ago. This is when chewing of shoes etc might happen so if you love your Louboutins as much as your Labrador, keep up to mealtimes. K?

My dog has forced me to organise my day so that I can feed and walk her at roughly the same time, making her the only one who has managed to bring structure to my chaos.

3) No one is ever more pleased to see you than your dog. 

The thing I am hating most about this week without the pooch is opening the door to.... nothing. I'm even missing the whiff that sometimes accompanies her (though I'd like you to know, she is very well groomed).  

If you think about that feeling you get when you do the school pick up and your child runs at you like a wildcat and jumps into your arms. Then imagine this every single time you walk through the door, no matter if you just left 10 minutes earlier and came back because you forgot your purse. Dogs are literally THIS pleased to see you ALL the time. Coming home this week sucks, so next week I'm going to try being really, REALLY pleased to see people I love and see what difference it makes to their wellbeing. 

4) Dogs don't sweat the small stuff.

Five minutes before school run is the worst time of day for Betsy. It's all that screeching about teeth and shoes and lost tuck shop money that does her nut in. But it's not the boys' lack of organisation that upsets her, she couldn't care less whether they go to school in flip flops (another great thing about dogs see point 5 below). No, Betsy is distraught at the high pitch tones and the flapping of arms and the general stomping around that accompanies all the uncomplimentary words that are being exchanged. She just wants peace, man and so she slopes off into another room or, if possible, under the gates and round the corner to Grandma's house where she can find some zen.

In short, dogs give less fucks and I'm trying really hard to do the same.

5) Dogs do not care what you look like

If Betsy looks me up and down disapprovingly, it's because I'm wearing signs that I may be going out. High heels are an instant giveaway. She's not a huge fan of short skirts either. But otherwise, she loves me just as much whether I've just come back from the hairdressers looking perfectly coiffeured or when I've got 3-inch roots and a severe attack of acne. A dog's love is unconditional or else, if she minds the spots and the bad hair, then she's way too polite to tell me. Either lesson is one I could learn from.

6) Dogs do not underestimate their worth.

Betsy likes to let it be known that I am her property. She may look like something you made at Build A Bear, but she has the heart of a lion. 'Aint nobody messing with this pint sized Princess.  

Easy tiger.

Easy tiger.

The other stuff that I, the Unlikely Dog Owner, didn't bank on is less endearing, but equally important to bear in mind if you are considering a family dog. It's this shizz that you just have to learn to deal with:

1) Dogs puke. And if you don't like human sick, you will HATE dog sick.

2) You will scrape a lot more poo off your shoe and ten times more poo off your kid's shoes than you ever thought possible.

3) Dogs ladder your tights (though I toyed with the idea of putting this in the good points section since tights should really be banned anyway)

4) Dogs bark and it can be quite loud and annoying, especially when you're on the phone. Some dogs bark more than others mind, so do your homework first if you don't like a howler.

5) Dogs make you late for the party and also make you leave it. Dogs and social lives don't mix too well. 

6) Dogs give you guilt trips. Puppy dog eyes is an inaccurate term because big, sad, tear filled eyes are not just for puppies, they NEVER grow out of them. And those eyes will haunt you... when you just ordered one last drink for the road... when you're lying on your sunbed and they are 15,000 miles away in kennels... when you're stuck in a 5-mile tailback and you thought things were stressful enough. See, you can't text them or send them a kissy face emoji to apologise for being late. On the plus side, however, the dumb hound can't tell the time and (see Point 3, Section 1) they are more likely to lick you to death than scream at you when you get home, so the stress is unnecessary.

I hope this post has helped one or two of you who may be wondering if you've really thought this whole dog thing through. Of course, all dogs are different with different personalities, just like humans (who knew?) Choose your breed carefully and rest assured, just like you weirdly end up finding a dog that looks like you, you'll find that they seamlessly blend into your surroundings too...

"I know the drill...  #housecandy"

"I know the drill...  #housecandy"

Apologies if you were hoping for cutting edge interior news this week, I know this one is a bit off piste, but I thought I'd try it all the same.

Come back soon Betsy, mummy misses you. Oh, wait - we didn't cover off the UDD's nemesis... Excruciating Doggy-Voices? No matter what you tell yourself, you will get one. Own it.

Has this helped? Drop me a line in the comments section, I'd love to hear from you. Doggy owners or not.

Claire xx

Six ways to work the Signature Stool

You know it already. House Candy can be anything from a beautiful vintage vase that cost peanuts in a charity shop, to a designer chandelier that swallowed a month's salary.

But can it really be something as simple as a stool?

The luxurious Lune V stool and a charity shop upcycled bureau.

The luxurious Lune V stool and a charity shop upcycled bureau.

The answer of course is hell YEAH.  But only if it's a Signature Stool like the stunning Lune V from Open Plan Living. Let my people in Paris explain...

"The signature item is a gift that a woman gives herself depending on her age, her taste and the size of her purse. It is a symbol of independence and freedom, which states, "I bought this for myself, I earned it and it makes me happy." P.31 How to be Parisian Wherever you Are.

The Lune V Stool by Portugese furniture brand Duistt and supplied by Open Plan Living makes me very happy. Nothing could qualify as a greater signature piece based on the above definition because (sorry boys) this one is ALL about me. I secretly saved up the pennies from my sideline copywriting job for this, my first bespoke piece of furniture that wasn't upcycled, and delighted in choosing the exact shade of luxury pink velvet and brushed brass finish. 

Now House Candy at either end of the price scale is likely to cause a stir, sparking such extreme reactions as:

When it's a junk shop find: "What do I want that piece of old crap in my house for?"

or equally...

When it's a designer gem such as this (and especially if one resides in Yorkshire): "Ow much?"

But if we fill our home only with items that avoid heated debate (or indeed a full on row), interior design wouldn't be nearly as much fun, would it? 

Seriously though, even I had some soul searching to do for this one. A sofa maybe, the iconic Egg chair I've been yearning for my entire adult life or a set of vintage Wishbone chairs, these items of course I would happily save up all my wages for. But a stool? FFS.

Here's a close up of it in hot pink (the colour of my cheeks when I was forced to divulge the price to the House Candy husband).

The Lune V stool from Open Plan Living

The Lune V stool from Open Plan Living

There are lots of people who wouldn't flinch at spending big on something as small as a signature stool and plenty of interior designers reading this who will have no problem justifying its price tag to discerning clients who demand the highest levels of quality and craftsmanship.

Open Plan Living works with a wealth of clients for whom only the very best will do and prides itself on delivering supreme customer service. But the firm also works with the likes of you and I, who have a much more realistic budget to stick to and yet understand how one or two high end details can transform the whole look of a scheme. For me, this way more European attitude to interior design exemplifies the beauty of the signature stool. 

My house if FULL of junk shop finds that cost peanuts. I wasn't always forced to buy cheap (and in many cases my husband would prefer it if I didn't) but I love their unique-ness and the character they bring to my interior mix. 

However, I am careful not to overdo it. Overdone anything is a bad thing and - just as I love a vintage dress but wouldn't go head to toe vintage - I was conscious my home was becoming too much like a vintage stage set. It needed some added luxe to get the balance back. 

The wonderful buzz you get from buying a designer item comes from knowing you've worked hard for it and in my experience, the designer item is likely to work equally hard for you. This is because you are keen to ensure it is worth its price tag.

My designer stool is working 6 times as hard as a regular stool for exactly this reason. Here's how:

Six ways the signature stool can work wonders

1) Dressing table

Dressing table.JPG

2) Bedroom perch

3) Desk Dolly

4) Extra Dinner Guest

5) Lady in waiting

6) Foot stool

I've come to the conclusion that this pretty pink perch is actually the supermodel of stools. It has the power to make anything look good and can therefore justify its high wages.

In all of the images above, the Lune V stool is teamed with charity shop finds which, you have to agree, notch up a style level once they've acquired some designer luxe. This mix and match approach to decorating means that you can afford to splash out on a seemingly ridiculous signature pieces from time to time because you've saved money elsewhere in the budget by buying second hand. It's the eclectic way and the Parisian way. And whilst it might not be everyone's way, it's most definitely the House Candy way. 

Have you got any signature House Candy? Designer or charity shop? I'd love to know what you think to mine. Please drop me a line in the comments section.

Happy weekend all. Why not treat yourself to a little luxury just for you, even if it's a £5 coffee at a coffee shop instead of the mediocre instant brew you'll make at home. Like I've told you before, you're worth it.

Claire x

 

 

The Candy Files: Summer Black Out

What's hot, what's not and what's what at my place. 

This week:

House Candy = Black Ache

New noir love www.contemporist.com

New noir love www.contemporist.com

I'm currently suffering from Black Ache. Key symptoms include mild heart palpitations upon sight of achingly chic black interiors.

As an all-white fanatic, unable to fully convert to the popular dark side, this situation has come as a curve ball. I'm even considering a black kitchen. *Feels faint and requires lie down*  

Black done the Parisian way in this chic apartment featured on French by Design Blog.

Black done the Parisian way in this chic apartment featured on French by Design Blog.

Black kitchen. Image from www.cocolapinedesign.com

Black kitchen. Image from www.cocolapinedesign.com

When did black become so, well, white? So French, so feminine, so darn summery? It's happened with fashion too. 

Black is officially summer appropriate as demonstrated this week by Natalie Portman who has clearly read the memo.

Natalie Portman pictured for Telegraph Fashion at the premiere of her latest film Planetarium in Japan.

Natalie Portman pictured for Telegraph Fashion at the premiere of her latest film Planetarium in Japan.

An all black dress, with long sleeves... in the height of summer? It shouldn't work, but it DOES. This frock would look equally appropriate in October and yet the parasol says hot. And that's the thing that black can do better than white, which convinces me to take the plunge and invest in a black kitchen. It's the colour that simply can't be last season, the colour that never dates, that is eternally chic, forever French and the easiest colour to seasonally accessorise. New Noir? I'm IN.

 

Fine and Candy = Black Brows

I've been Microbladed and my brows are BLACK. In fact they're actually going through the scabby phase over the black brows which is even more scary, should you be considering the same.

The good news is, this phase doesn't last long and once it's over, (just a couple of days I promise) I'll be left with the ideal brush stroke brows, faded to a match-perfect natural shade that I've wanted all my grown up life.

Microblading is described as a permanent make up treatment (it lasts 18 months) which means it is essential that you find an expert therapist who knows their Caras from their Kendals.

I went to The Beauty Works in Mirfield, West Yorkshire where Jo insists on a lengthy colour and shape consultation prior to the actual appointment.  If you've battled with non-descript brow shape all your life and require some sexy definition (but you too are scared of the word tattoo) Microblading is the way to go. Go google!

 

Candy Pandy = Black Sheep

Oh Instafam, I love you, I do. But sometimes I feel like the black sheep of the flock - the one following the wrong bloody hashtag!

I mean, by the time I've figured our who to tag, who to follow and what theme we're on this week, the kids have missed their tea and I've missed the deadline. I'm the saddo still stressing over enviable entrance halls when everyone has moved on to fab fireplaces. Any chance I can pay someone to tip me off? There must be a black market for this sort of thing? Please message me if you know someone, who knows someone in the know! #help #hastaghell #latetotheparty

Happy weekend all, thanks for bearing with me through shockingly bad wi-fi issues here at the seaside. Normal service is due to resume next week with some exciting deliveries at House Candy HQ. Watch this space!

 Claire x

The boutique bedroom brief to brag about

"I'm picturing a hazy Ibiza sunrise when you haven't been to bed. Sex on the beach (cocktail form). A mediterranean breeze wafting through your Kenzo kaftan..."

Eos light shade by Vita Chapelle Sunrise wallpaper by Blackpop UK

Eos light shade by Vita Chapelle Sunrise wallpaper by Blackpop UK

I'd like to say this is how the scene setting went when I pitched a bedroom design to my very stylish friend. Truth be told, we were out on a run and she was tapping me up for ideas for wallpaper that was as nice (but not as pricey) as the one she'd just spent the weekend drooling over at a boutique health spa. 

"Blackpop" I said, without hesitation. Not to be mistaken for Blackpool of course, which is at the opposite end of this design brief spectrum.

I've been championing Blackpop UK since I set out blogging a couple of years ago. The brand was a bit of an inspiration in fact - possibly the first time I realised an artistic twist on classic design was what got my interior design heart a-ticking. I have rules when it comes to splashing the cash where interiors are concerned and Blackpop's luxury fabric and wallpaper passes my test for all the following reasons:

  • It's handmade by a small team of passionate artists.  
  • You won't find any trend led design cliche's amongst its pattern books, which means it will stand the test of time. 
  • Design wise, it rocks. Think Kate Moss kicking back in her Cotswolds country pile. Think Kate Middleton re-upholstering an antique chaise as a clever little anniversary gift for Wills. Think Kate Winslet taking a bit of Titanic inspired English grandeur to the Hollywood Hills. Think Katie Price.... um, no we're getting mixed up with Blackpool again. 

Blackpop is about faded grandeur, it's about art, heritage, elegance and quirk. It's about effervescent Britishness. Blackpop is sophistication, with a rock star edge and if you're one of those people who likes to namedrop, it's definitely one to know because this name has style kudos in celebrity circles (though I couldn't possibly reveal my sources).

So anyway, chatting Chatty Man wallpaper with my running pal turned into a trip to Redbrick Mill near Leeds, where the client (she'll love that) had her heart set on a beautiful Feather and Black bedroom set.

I'm a huge fan of rattan for all it's French-ness and boho beauty, so the Versailles bedstead and two matching bedside tables got a big thumbs up from me. Before you know it, this whole Chateaux Chic vibe begun to emerge and then we started adding all the fluffy stuff.

This is the Vita Eos shade which I also have above my bed. Not one the husband is likely to pick out though, hey?

To keep him happy we added extra edge with more masculine touches such as the Abigail Aherne Raven lamp for Debenhams. 

A freestanding vintage style record player for that rock star status and Loaf's laid back Lazy Linen bedding in boy-friendly grey.

With its classic bones and quirky touches, my friend's beautiful house perfectly suits the Blackpop aesthetic. In fact I'd go as far as to say, they need each other. 

Limited Edition Oasis lyrics print £22 by North6Graphic Design

Limited Edition Oasis lyrics print £22 by North6Graphic Design

If you also need wallpaper advice or help with a decor dilemma, I'd be happy to help and you don't even have to go on a run with me to get it. Just drop me a line at myhousecandy@gmail.com or get me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. 

In the meantime, I'd love your feedback on this little project. Please do get in touch with your comments.

Claire x

 

My Top 100 Time Has Come

If I get run over by a bus tomorrow, please let it be known that I died happy. Today I, Claire Louise Price, aged forty two and one month made my first Top 100 list.

My shiny new badge and proof that I'm a bona fide member of a bona fide Top 100 Club

My shiny new badge and proof that I'm a bona fide member of a bona fide Top 100 Club

It's not the Sunday Times Top 100 Rich List 'cos as I keep telling you, I'm not about the dollar. It's not FHM's Top 100 Sexiest Women of the Year (no sweat, still time). No, today my friends, My House Candy has made it into the Top 100 list of Interior Design Bloggers for New House Builders - global I might add. Not bad for a 5ft 3 freckle face from West Yorkshire hey? This is huge news at House Candy HQ. HUGE NEWS. Here's why:

1) I am listed with the good and the great of the Interior Bloggersphere, sneaking in by a pointy toed, leopard print pump at Number 93. Check out all the big hitters here

2) Position 93 gives me a much greater chance of moving up, rather than down, this list next year. And by the way, there's way more than 100 of us in this game I'll have you know.

3) I'd begun to wonder if my base in the suburbs of the West Yorkshire suburbs (where not a lot gets launched besides the odd canal boat) may put me at a geographical disadvantage. Nope.

4) New House Builders are an audience I'd never really considered before and it turns out I have so much to offer - including a passion for show home styling as it happens:-) If you want to collaborate please DM me here: myhousecandy@gmail.com

5) It proves to my kids that it pays to be yourself - which is by far the biggest and best lesson blogging has taught me. 

I mean, just look at what they've said about me (all by themselves, no bribery or corruption required) .... 

"Writer, mother, and design enthusiast Claire Price is the voice behind "My House Candy", a unique style-heavy website that's all about delivering the most beautiful images and ideas across the web to a vast collection of readers. Unlike many other bloggers, Claire uses her website to help her tell a story of what she thinks design should be. Everything she shares, from pictures of flowers, to a look at a vintage vase is designed to give an insight into her own personal feelings when it comes to life and beauty." Vision One Homes' Top 100 Bloggers for New Home Builders

So what a bloody great start to the week today turned out to be. I've got myself a nice new blog badge to display, I came 4th in the mum's race at sports day despite a controversial false start and I'm buzzing with with a renewed commitment to keep on baring my soul to the world via the suspect medium of House Candy. Boys, this calls for mint Vienetta for pud. Extra cream.

Happy New Week all, get out there and do your 'ting,

Claire xx