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).


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  


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


Festive Beasts and Where to Find Them

It's the office party at House Candy HQ and what a bunch of party animals we are. 

OK, truth be told it's just me and a load of animal shaped paraphernalia with ribbons round our necks, but hey, I've been to worse Christmas do's (and the obligatory mannequin challenge is going to be a breeze). 

Here's how the idea for a wilder take on trimming up came about.

Nothing I found in the pile of Christmas decorations stored up in the loft filled me with any joy this year. I took one look at all the tasteful gold baubles, the pretty, frosted white tea light holders, the au-naturel garlands bearing faux mistletoe and any festive spirit that had been there, suddenly drained away.

2016 does not feel like the year for sticking with the norm where Christmas is concerned. As Grazia so perfectly put it this week, it started with the death of David Bowie and went down hill from there. It's been a car crash on a global scale, so no wonder it needs help getting into party mode.  For me, that help has arrived in the unexpected form of a fat little penguin from TK Maxx. Mr Popper here got me thinking...

My Party Popper £8 TK Maxx

My Party Popper £8 TK Maxx

My place has turned into quite the ornamental zoo this year. No trip to the second hand market has been complete without an animal themed trophy of some sort, be it a vintage brass heron or a yellow ceramic deer head. These fellas have lifted the tone of my interior to new levels and it occurred to me that they could easily do the same thing with Christmas. 

I'm not alone in my thinking that it's the animals having all the fun this year. John Lewis clearly got the brief and its seasonal squad of trampoline-ing wildlife has captured the nation's heart.

My four legged friends (2 in some cases) can't do party tricks, but my God do they know how to rock a festive ribbon. Let me introduce them to you:

My House Candy Party Animals

1. The Horny Host

Find me at the Baaa?

Find me at the Baaa?

2). Babycham

3). The Grumpy Git Who Loves You Really

4) The Unlikely Pairing

5). Seasonal Stalkers

6). Feathered friends

"Have you seen what she's wearing?"

"Have you seen what she's wearing?"

If Christmas Party at the Zoo feels like a totally appropriate theme for your mad house, but you haven't hoarded quite as many animal themed ornaments as me over the last 12 months, worry not. Here's a roundup of some totally gift appropriate festive beasts and where to find them in time for party season. (Just don't forget the ribbon). 

1) Monkey bottle holder

2. Flamingo Wall Hanging

3. Felt tiger head

£69  Uburnara

4. Swan Vase

5. Beagle Bust

£60 Abigail Ahern at  Debenhams

£60 Abigail Ahern at Debenhams

So there, no reason for any of us to feel alone this Christmas and please, PLEASE don't keep your festive fun to yourself. Let me see what fantastic beasts are residing at your place. Share them with me on Twitter or Instagram @myhousecandy using the hashtag #housecandyparty or post a pic on my Facebook page to come and join the party.  

Have fun all!

Claire xx 



Holy Faux-liage - why I worship at the altar of artificial plants

I don't normally advocate faking it. Preserve what you've got is my motto. But try as I might, there are some things I fail to keep looking perky and pot plants are one of them.

Faux-liage is the answer to my green-fingered prayers. Hallelujia! then for Abigail Ahern the patron saint of succulents, who has blessed us with her fabulous faux florists, at Heals on the ground floor of Yorkshire interiors heaven Redbrick.

If ever there was a more beautiful display of plastic products, I'd like to see it. 

Abigail Ahern's faux flower shop at Heals in Redbrick, near Leeds.

Abigail Ahern's faux flower shop at Heals in Redbrick, near Leeds.

You might be fooled into thinking into thinking these stunning plants and flowers are real, but please don't be fooled into thinking AA fauxs are extortionately priced. OK, so a Hydreangea stem will set you back £12.50.

A pretty pale pink Rannuculous is £5.50

A simple burgundy cow parsley spray is £6

You're looking at around £40 for enough stems to make a statement vase, not cheap, I get that, but what you need to remember is that this is the bunch of flowers that keeps on giving. Week after week, month after month, year after year. Anniversary after anniversary... ahem, it's this week, love (winky face) 

Fauxs actually make excellent plant maths, so as one by one my disastrous attempts at home grown greenery depart this world, I am just going to replace them with perma-plants instead. I mean, I've got enough mouths to feed. I'm over it.

Goldenball cactus from £60

Goldenball cactus from £60

Large Yuha Cactus £145

Large Yuha Cactus £145

Staghorn plat £70

Staghorn plat £70

String of Pearls £50

String of Pearls £50

From lush trailing ferns, to the coolest kingsize cacti, these are the fakes to bring a room scheme to life. Ironic when you put it like that isn't it?

But hey, you can't just take my word for it. Like all the best fake jobs, you need to have a good look and see if they really do pass as the real thing first. Then go on, cop a feel. I guarantee you won't be disappointed. Don't worry, Heals won't mind you fondling their foliage one little bit.

Here's where to get your hands on these fabulous fauxs, whilst also taking in the best interior design destination in the North of England, home to over 40 top brands and innovative retailers.

Redbrick  is situated in Batley, on the outskirts of Leeds.  Click here for directions.

Redbrick is situated in Batley, on the outskirts of Leeds. Click here for directions.

Happy Monday all. my advice to get you through the week? Go buy yourself flowers of course!

Please get in touch, I'd love to hear from you and will gladly accept any floral deliveries also (joke) Leave a comment below and stalk me on social media... stalks... flowers... get it? Sorry, I'll go now, before you tell me where to shove my Tule Cactus. 

Faux Tule Cactus £65  Abigail Ahern

Faux Tule Cactus £65 Abigail Ahern

Claire x




The Candy Files - Faking it

What's hot what's not and what's what at my place. This week:

House Candy = Faux Grass

I finally admitted that the football ruined lawn wasn't growing back and succumbed to artificial turf.

But Yay!

They (the grass destroyers) now don't moan that it's raining and go play out in all weathers. What's more, they don't bring half of it back inside with them when they're done.

I'm anticipating gaining at least an extra hour a week in mowing time come summer, which obviously means more time cracking bottled beers open by the BBQ. That easily balances out the niggly issues of no stripes and unsightly timber frames.

Okay so it's not Lords, but you know what parents? It works. If you're thinking of it just agree to buy the good stuff and I promise you'll be fine.

Fine And Candy = Faux flowers

Faux blooms: Bouquets available from £18.50 from  www.abigailahern.com

Faux blooms: Bouquets available from £18.50 from www.abigailahern.com

Not as good as fresh flowers but way better than dead ones, that's my view on fauxs. So if you a) Love big blousy blooms and can't afford to regularly fill your fireplace with them or b) Usually leave them to die a brown and crispy death, fauxs are the flowers for you.

There are good, bad and ugly out there so be wary. Obviously you won't go wrong with any of Abigail Ahern's blooms and if anyone wants to order me a bouquet from her hip Heal's Faux flower stall I guarantee I won't be at all offended. Annual flower club membership? oh go on then.

Candy Pandy = Faux pas

Like when I asked the hairdresser for a blow job.

Blow DRY! I meant, blow DRY! But it was too late...  I'd said it and they won't ever let me forget it. 

And that's the thing about fauxs: They Just Don't Die . 

What's your experience of fauxs? Let me know your views in the comments section below, it would be great to hear from you.

Claire x

Designer cheat chic

Oh I love a designer classic. My home would be a museum of iconic furniture design if funds allowed. My shopping list would include:

1) A Le Corburssier Chaise 


2) A Sputnik Chandelier

3) Hans Wenger Wishbone dining chairs

As far as I can tell, the ONLY thing wrong with classic designer pieces is the fact that I can't afford them. Which is a bit of a sticking point, admittedly.

So thank heavens for on-line designer-style store Vita, who make it possible for non-celebs like me to own furniture celebs like this.

Arne Jacobsen style egg chair £489  www.vita-interiors.com

Arne Jacobsen style egg chair £489 www.vita-interiors.com

Cool huh?

Now, there will be some of you reading this who will tut and sigh, mutter FAKER under your breath ... and who knows, maybe even do that horrible thing of hitting delete. For you guys I'm throwing in the A bomb.  

Abigail Ahern - she of dark colours and Super Styling. Yes even AA says going down the designer cheat route is absolutely fine. If you don't believe me then hear it for yourself at her amazingly brilliant crash course in cool - the Abigail Ahern Design School - held at her own jaw dropping London home. Oh and while you're there, check out the dreamy marble top Tulip table (where you may be lucky enough to eat your lunch) and ask AA if it's a real one.

My guess is she will smile the smile of a qualified design cheat. The smile that says, I could if I wanted to, but I don't. And  - Like, why would I pay thousands of quid when I can get a brilliant copy for peanuts? THAT smile. Know the one?

I do because I've also got the smile. Ever since I placed this copycat George Nelson Starburst clock in my family room and witnessed my walls shift from mediocre to marvellously mid century modern.

George Nelson style Starburst clock £49.95  www.vita-interiors.com

George Nelson style Starburst clock £49.95 www.vita-interiors.com

Here it is in-situ:

See, designer pieces have the power to add the wow to a room - kind of a celebrity element that non brands are missing.  Whether we like it or not, somewhere in our subconscious we register an appreciation of iconic design and when we see it for real - original, reproduced, even parodied - we have to admire it.

The clock is an entry level example of excellent designer cheating. For around a quarter of the price of an original George Nelson clock, Vita Interiors has a massive choice of reproduced retro designs available, including the infamous ball clock:

Ball clock £49.95  www.vita-interiors.com

Ball clock £49.95 www.vita-interiors.com

And the ultimate eye-catcher:

George Nelson Eye clock £69.50  www.vita-interiors.com

George Nelson Eye clock £69.50 www.vita-interiors.com

My colourful starburst clock is a perfect reminder that it's about time I progressed onto Grade 2 designer cheating: Statement Lighting:

Poul Henningsen Artichoke light - £166  www.vita-interiors.com

Poul Henningsen Artichoke light - £166 www.vita-interiors.com


And then onto Grade 3: Fine Dining 

Eero Saarinen style Tulip table with marble top - £995  www.vita-interiors.com

Eero Saarinen style Tulip table with marble top - £995 www.vita-interiors.com

Come to think of it, the only time I might turn my nose up at designer cheating is if I win the Euromillions. In which case, money will be no object and I will happily, guiltlessly, spend my fortune on the real McCoy, which we all know is the ultimate goal really.

Until then I am happy in the knowledge that going copycat gives me the double benefit of owning something that looks like the thing I really want, but won't have me up on a GBH charge every time my children launch a flying plastic object within half a metre of it.

Maybe if I didn't have kids things would be different, but since I do, I'm championing the view that buying a lookalike classic is still an appreciation of great design, whilst also acknowledging that practicality is an equally important virtue of modern style.  

I would love to know what you think of designer copycats. Would you fake it with pride or only own originals? Would you even notice... Do you even care? 

Please do drop me a line and share any other style secrets you may be hiding because it's really not cool to keep these things to yourselves. That would be cheating.