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

 

 

 

One chic coffee table, three canny style tools

A well styled coffee table can be a game changer. I recently took delivery of the Athena* coffee table from Swoon Editions which, let's face it, doesn't need much help to look its best. What with its white circular marble top and modernist black metal legs, Athena has got all its beauty bases covered. 

88athena_coffee_desktop.jpg

But not all coffee tables are this blessed. In fact, until now I've mostly got mine from charity shops and flea markets and they have required a little more help in the looks department.  

Over the years I've learnt to employ a couple of basic styling techniques which can really up the ante of a coffee table. With these inexpensive style tools in your accessories arsenal, you'll have everything you need to take a coffee table from functional to fabulous - whether its a Swoon Editions stunner, or a junk store gem.

tabletop.JPG

1) Vintage vases

Today I noticed the flowers were on their way out. I always spare a few quid for supermarket flowers with each weekly shop, but they have to work hard for their dollar. They may start off as a lush full bunch in a nice vase (you know my faves if you follow my Instagram account; the pink bubble glass one, the fake Zambesi one)... but as the week wears on and things start to droop a little, the flowers get split up and chopped down.

Here's where having a couple of smaller vintage vases comes in useful. You can cut the stems short and let whatever is left of the blooms have one last hurrah. You get at least another couple of days out of your flowers and a fresh new look for your coffee table.

I also have a ton of cheap-as-chips stem vases in my flower vessel armoury. Many are old glass bottles with pretty decorative patterns, which I often team with a smaller vase, but can be simply lovely all on their own.

2) Book club

We know books aren't just for reading don't we? I mean, enjoy them by all means, but just promise not to let the fun end with the afterword. After they've enriched your soul, it's time for them to enrich your coffee table.

Even just a couple of books to stack on top of one another is a way cooler way of displaying flowers, an ornament, or a candle even, than just plonking that item on the table itself. Honestly, once you're into this vibe, stuff placed directly onto a table top will really start to bug you. 

You'll need all shapes and sizes of books to fulfil your different stacking and styling needs. Strip them of their paper cover if it's a bit naff and get down to the naked spine. Battered vintage books are a great look of course, but I tend to use whatever is lying around. Too many times we've lost a school library book, only for it to be found under a vase of freesias a week and a book fine later. 

Your coffee table will thank you for this small book of photographs by Martin Parr, which is just brilliant with our without the addition of flowers. 

Martin Parr  photography book £8.95 Amazon

Martin Parr photography book £8.95 Amazon

3) Kudos Coasters

The one thing you DON'T want on your coffee table is a mug stain. But truth be told, I'm not a huge fan of coasters either. In fact I'm a bit of a coaster snob. I have vintage silver ones that come in their own little stacking holder. They're always knocking about in charity shops and flea markets and they do the practical/ pretty job really quite well.

That said, if I was getting married again and putting a gift list together... or just feeling flush, there are some pretty lush coasters around that make serious coffee table eye candy.  Amara has this game covered of course. Head straight to their website for coasters with a ton of extra style kudos. There's a few of my faves from their collection below. All www.amaraliving.com

So what's on your coffee table? A half eaten Snickers, last season's Next catalogue and a broken phone charger? Maybe it's time you got your kit together? Let me know your thoughts.

Claire x

*Sadly the circular Athena table is no longer available. Click here for the rectangular version or visit www.swooneditions.com to shop more marble top lovelies

 

 

Why I'm still in a flap over exotic bird wallpaper

What is it with me and brightly coloured birds with big beaks? I somehow find myself gravitating towards them. Like, there I was on my first night on holiday here in Portugal. I'm just finding my way around, when suddenly a wrong turn has me treading a path paved with a giant flamingo. What are the chances?

And then when I tried out the gym over here and, on my first sit up, noticed the ceiling was one huge mural depicting a sky of exotic flying birds, swooping at my imagination. An intense set of cloud gazing was all I could manage thereafter. (Okay, so it doesn't take much).

Regular readers will know I have this thing with flamingos and I was alarmed when recently, somebody asked me if they were passe? I laughed, obviously.

Sure, they've been a round a while, but I still don't think I'm late to the party. More like I refuse to leave the party. Especially the one hosted by King of maximalism Matthew Williamson whose wallpapers, lamps and side tables all err on the side of exotic.

Matthew Williamson Flamingo Club wallpaper from  Amara.com

Matthew Williamson Flamingo Club wallpaper from Amara.com

Exotic birds are great for adding a bit of unexpected interest. I particularly like to find them in downstairs loos, dressing rooms, utilities.... anywhere in fact that's not an obvious place for showing off.

But if you are concerned that flamingos are too, um, 5 years ago, here's a few other birds of wallpaper paradise that might still fit the bill.*

Hummingbird Wallpaper by  Cole and Son

Hummingbird Wallpaper by Cole and Son

Swans wallpaper by Nina Campbell available from  Rockett St George

Swans wallpaper by Nina Campbell available from Rockett St George

Bird print wallpaper by  Julia Rothman

Bird print wallpaper by Julia Rothman

Happy bank holiday all. Hope your feet help you seek out some inspiration too!

Love Claire xx

*It's 30 degrees in the shade and I got off my blow up pool flamingo to bring you this post. Allow me one little holiday pun won't you?