Monday, 29 July 2013

Summer weekend

In anticipation of the first of our summer guests the garden has had its mini overhaul. Fences have been painted, plants pruned, furniture varnished and new cushions made. I did feed the grass but the hot weather has not helped much on the lawn front.

After the makeover
Saturday morning we all walked Mortimer and I took advantage of a fellow graveyard lover to slip into the grounds of our local church. Normally I can't go in as dogs are forbidden and I usually have Mortimer, who as you can see was desperate to join us.


This churchyard has a number of huge specimen trees giving some very welcome shade as well as creating a calm atmosphere.

A shady spot
In the oldest section of the grounds the graves date from the mid 18th century and many are still in remarkably good condition, even if some of the carvings have softened over the years.

18th century gravestone

Some however may not stand another severe winter as they have some quite large cracks.

After the walk our guests asked if they could go shopping, apparently new clothes were in order so we headed to Springfields near Spalding. On the way up we went passed a field of yellow flowers which looked like daffodils, not unusual as it is a prime bulb growing area. But at the end of July this was strange, so I spent the next few hours muttering about meddling with nature and G.M crops. On the way back I asked Andrew to pull over so that I could have a closer look. And found that they weren't daffodils at all but acres of glorious yellow lilies.

Golden lilies
There were some rogue colours as well, slipped in between the yellow rows.

Rogue orange flowers at the rear
Sunday was another beautiful day and we had a late light lunch in the garden before our guests returned to London.

Andrew and his god-daughter hamming for the camera!
I'm just hoping that the weather is as good for our next guests.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

French interiors revealed

French interior style is very popular in the U.K and in the U.S. It's one of my most followed boards on Pinterest and there are hundreds of others out there. When you mention French interior style there are three main camps. There is a a traditional look, often with rooms festooned with acres of toile de Juoy, a fabric which when used sparingly can look lovely particularly when combined with stripes or checks, but is often married with matching wallpaper, bed linen and drapes.

A room in
Toile de Juoy looks best, in my opinion, when used selectively. This is a traditionally designed room but with a beautiful toile bed.

via Pinterest

Then there is the Provencal style, typified with rich ochres, terracotta and an intense cobalt blue. Tiles feature heavily and walls are often painted with these strong colours. It's a style that we long to have in northern Europe as it reminds us of the warmth of the Mediterranean and lazy afternoons on holiday. Unfortunately we don't have the right light at our latitudes to make these colours sing, although the tiles are very popular in kitchens. We have to make do with a piece or two of ceramics to conjure up our vacation dreams.

Atelier Yvan Vedel
Or use fabrics from Souleiado, inspired by Indian patterns from the 18th & 19th centuries they make great table linen or as here for a summer bedroom.


But there is a look that has outstripped the first two and that appears everywhere, the French Chateau with a leaning towards the shabby chic. Creams, stones and greys abound. Wood is washed with paint and there are layers of linen.

Via Pinterest

Via Pinterest
 Furniture is old, mirrors are foxed, chandeliers sparkle and table displays are everywhere. Woe betide you if you can't artfully arrange blooms (freshly plucked from the garden and sparkling with dew) in your wonderful brocante find.

Via Pinterest

Done right it can be a beautiful and relaxed style with colours that really work with the light in northern Europe and Scandinavia. But I often wonder how realistic is it? Or have we taken this style and run with it in an attempt to imbue our own homes with elusive French style.

So, I decided to do some 'maison-stalking' and have a look at some interiors in real French houses that are currently for sale. I confess I kept to a realistic budget but I did make sure that they were homes that were currently inhabited. There were certain trends, some of which I'd seen in gites and hotels we've stayed in over the years. Ceilings with floral wallpaper, often a different pattern to that on the walls.

At least it's the same on the ceiling & walls

Maybe they just had a few rolls left over?

 Wood cladding, used as insulation, on walls & ceilings.

Scandi-sauna style
 Strong colours are not relegated to a feature wall. Oh no, they can be anywhere and everywhere. But I think that I do admire their individuality. Not that I wouldn't itch to go through the whole house with white emulsion, but it does show a nation comfortable with their own style. There's no compulsion to re-decorate just because duck egg blue or mulberry or whatever is the latest trend.

Paint details everywhere

A touch of Provence maybe...

So what do you think? What's your favourite French style?