Bookmarks: Shades of Grey

Shades of Grey book with brass candle holder | H is for Home

Interiors journalist, blogger and now author, Kate Watson-Smyth, has produced our favourite interiors book for ages – Shades of Grey.

Shades of Grey frontispage

We do love a bit of grey! We currently use it as the backdrop for all our web shop photos, but also have plans that involve our house too… once we can arrange some decorating time.

Pile of textiles in various shades of grey

But why is grey now so popular? Many people cite the rise in popularity of Scandi dramas; it’s the colour of their landscapes and their homes. Shades of grey are easier on the eye – and therefore easier to live with – than stark black and white. Grey is very versatile; Watson-Smyth calls it the perfect neutral. It goes with just about everything – black, white, brights, pastels and metallics.

Four grey décor vignettes

Watson-Smyth advises that once you’re ready to take the grey plunge, there are a few things you should think about when choosing the shade. The orientation of the room; what direction it faces. The time of day the room is most used. Even in which hemisphere you live.

Advice on using grey in a north-facing room

Every page is adorned with inspirational images of grey interiors in every shade – from the palest ash to the darkest midnight. Helpfully, many of the photographs include details of the colour and manufacturer. If you already have a particular brand and shade of grey in mind, the index at the back lists the page of each photo that uses it.

Dark grey armchair in front of a wood-burning stove

The book is full of essential, easy-to-read advice; helping you avoid the (often expensive) pitfalls that can occur if updating your home’s colour scheme.

Wood panelled bedroom painted in Farrow & Ball's 'Railings'

It’s also peppered with quotes and advice from interiors experts such as interiors maven Abigail Ahern and Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director at Dulux, along with lots of grey-related facts & trivia.

Silver and green-grey bathroom

After reading the book from cover to cover, I’m pretty sure of the path ahead. I want to go for a vertical graduating effect with the colour deepening as you move up through the floors of the house.

'Choosing the right shade of grey' chapter

We live in an often gloomy Pennine valley bottom so our east-facing front room which is used during the day will need a warm, light-enhancing shade such as Little Greene’s French Grey.

Grey painted vintage industrial kitchen

Our bedroom is on the middle floor; west-facing and often bathed in wonderful, golden evening light. Getting out of bed on a cold winter’s morning however, is a different story. Mole’s Breath is a beautiful, soft mid-grey which waking up enveloped by would be a joy.

Grey painted bedroom with shelf of light coloured ceramic vases

We spend much of the evening in our top-floor den, so the very deep dark grey of Farrow & Ball’s Railings on the walls, skirting and ceiling would transform the room into a dramatic – yet cosy, embracing cocoon.

Dark grey painted fireplace and alcove with floating shelves

Shades of Grey is available from Amazon and Hive.

[Many thanks to Ryland Peters & Small for this review copy]

Bookmarks: Style Me Vintage – Home

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'Style Me Vintage' book by Keeley Harris


We’ve been looking forward to reviewing Style Me Vintage – Home by Keeley Harris. It’s just our cup of tea!

'Style Me Vintage' title page | H is for Home

We first met Keeley a few years ago at the Vintage Home Show at Victoria Baths, a regular vintage event she curates (the next of which is happening this Sunday – 15th March).

'Style Me Vintage' 'Where to start' chapter page | H is for Home

As well as the VHS in Manchester, Keeley organises the Festival of Vintage in York, owns the Vintage Emporium – which has concessions across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. She co-runs the Vintage Academy and weekly Twitter chat #VintageBizHour with fellow vintage expert, Kate Beavis. In addition, she regularly writes for and contributes to various vintage magazines and appears on TV. Goodness knows where she found the time or the energy to write this book!

Collection of vintage art glass vases in various colours | H is for Home

Anyhow, on to the book! If you’re only just putting your toe into the water of vintage homewares and interior decoration, this book is a great starting point.

'Style Me Vintage' '1920s' chapter page | H is for Home

There’s an initial overview on how to get going, writing checklists and possible sources for items.

'Style Me Vintage' 1960s vignette | H is for Home

The book then breaks down the collecting & styling into eras – the decades from the 1920s through to the 1970s. Each decade is further sub-divided into useful sections.

'Style Me Vintage' 'Design Influences' section | H is for Home

‘Main Design Influences’ – the external factors that filtered through to home styles – think Art Deco and Hollywood glamour in the 1920s or Pop Art and the space age in the 1960s.

'Style Me Vintage' '1930s' chapter page | H is for Home

‘Get the Look’ – takes the home, room by room, and advises on key furniture pieces & accessories that will help you achieve the feel and appearance of an era.

'Style Me Vintage' '1940s' chapter page | H is for Home

‘Details’ – those essential touches such as wall coverings, lighting and artwork.

vintage enamelware | H is for Home

Peppered throughout are lots of tips on what to look for and home owners’ quotes such as this from Ste & Kat, “We’re big fans of simple design and smooth lines with masses of functionality and think most classics from the Midcentury have both in bucket loads. We like to mix Midcentury with modern and classic design”. Our thoughts exactly!

'Eclectic' chapter | H is for Home

If you happen to be ‘old hands’ like us, this book is equally satisfying. We love having a nose into other people’s homes. All the interiors featured within are ‘real world’ spaces; no unattainable staged sets here!

stove-top vignette | H is for Home

The are lots of familiar vintage items but it’s always a treat seeing how homeowners put them together and juxtapose with the new.

'Industrial' chapter | H is for Home

Towards the end of the book are chapters covering ‘Eclectic’, ‘Industrial’ and ‘Shabby Chic’ styles – popular looks that don’t sit easily into any particular decade.

vintage 1950s Alfred Meakin 'Circus' pottery tea set | H is for Home

There’s also a double page spread where Keeley recommends vintage shops, events and specialists that you can visit to help make your dream vintage home a reality… and we’re included – yay!! 🙂

vintage kitchen storage | H is for Home

We’d highly recommend this as a source of inspiration & information for both newbie and more experienced vintage homeware fans. Get your copy from the publishers or our Amazon Astore.

[Many thanks to Pavilion Books for the review copy]

Bookmarks: Bohemian Modern

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Bohemian Modern book with  West German vase, vintage fabric and mug with cactus

We’ve been reading Bohemian Modern this week – a new book by Emily Henson, stylist and blogger.

Bohemian Modern title page

cream and green rooms

Vintage textiles, studio pottery, industrial touches, lots of house plants – tick, tick, tick, tick – we must be a bit Bohemian Modern ourselves!

Mosaic of interior vignettes

teepee in a boy's bedroom

There are lots of small collections in evidence – art glass, West German pottery, animal skulls, books and pictures… and some lovely, creative ways of displaying them.

Circular shelf

Collection of animal skulls on a wall

Up-cycling is a strong theme to the look – painted furniture, open weave netting for curtains, old doors turned into glass-fronted cupboards and display cases, industrial crates and piping for shelving.

Day bed

Urban bohemian

There’s a spot of crafting too – macramé, tie dye and rag rugging.

'Textiles' chapter

teepee in a child's bedroom

Items picked up on travels bring personal memories and add unique character to a home.

'The Homes' chapter

details of interior decor vignettes

Plants & flowers give interest and a focal point – palms, cacti and succulents in particular work well.

Using plants in interiors

kitchen diner wall

We’re given in depth looks at homes in London, Copenhagen, Ghent, Morocco and the Netherlands.

Industrial shelving

kitchen mezzanine

We’re even taken on a tour of Emily’s own home – an inspiration into how stylish & individual you can make a rented property look.

Wegner armchair and collection of Gul vases

white-washed kitchen with island

If you’ve been inspired – and why wouldn’t you be? – at the back of the book, there’s a useful list of international sources.

useful list of international sources

mid century modern styled room with teak sideboard

This super book really captures the eclectic and homely look of Bohemian Modern. The spaces are stylish, yet reassuring and welcoming.

Outdoor white-washed lean to with seating area

dining area with roof light

A great book to dip in & out of – it’s been on our bedside table all week!

Wall of photographs at the bottom of a stairway

Copper lights above a dining table

[This review is part of the Ryland, Peters & Small Bohemian Modern blog tour]

Bookmarks: Grete Prytz Kittelsen – The art of enamel design

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Grete Prytz Kittelsen - The art of enamel design book with a selection of Lotus enamelware

Grete Prytz Kittelsen – The Art of Enamel Design by Karianne Bjellå Gilje explores the work of one of our favourite product designers.

Grete Prytz Kittelsen - The art of enamel design book title page

It was written not only with Greta’s close cooperation, but with extensive contributions from her – in the form of interviews, added text, selection of images and so on. You really are getting to know the artist intimately.

portrait of Grete Prytz Kittelsen standing

Greta was one of the foremost Scandinavian designers of the Mid-century Modern era – in addition to which she also collaborated with many of the other great names from the period.

Grete Prytz Kittelsen-designed jewellery

She had “a thorough knowledge of materials, vast technical skill, independence and originality.”

red Grete Prytz Kittelsen-designed necklace

Her work has directly touched the daily lives of countless thousands with her ranges of beautiful yet practical kitchen & tableware.

green Grete Prytz Kittelsen-designed enamel tea set

She’s rightly praised for making good design accessible as she simplified the production process wherever possible, thus keeping retail prices affordable.

sculptural Grete Prytz Kittelsen-designed necklace

She’s immediately associated with the iconic Lotus cookware produced by Cathrineholm of Norway in the 1950s – ironically, the repeating leaf pattern of the Lotus range was the work of another designer – Arne Clausen.

selection of Cathrineholm Lotus enamelware

She was responsible for the form & colours of the range – and apparently preferred the enamel without the additional decoration.

Cathrineholm Lotus catalogue

Her range of products is vast – pots, pans, plates, cruets, bowls and cutlery.

Grete Prytz Kittelsen-designed salad bowl and servers

There are decorative objects too, such as candelabra & vases…

Grete Prytz Kittelsen-designed square plates

…and not forgetting the beautiful jewellery – we just love her jewellery!!

blue sculptural Grete Prytz Kittelsen-designed necklace

The book is very well written – comprehensive, entertaining and informative.

sculptural Grete Prytz Kittelsen-designed Cathrineholm bowls

It’s full of wonderful archive images, product advertisements & brochures.

Grete Prytz Kittelsen working in her studio

Also, fabulous photographs of her work – which is some feat as the beauty of enamel is very difficult to capture in print.

colourful Grete Prytz Kittelsen-designed bangles

The book concludes with a wonderful reference section including a fully illustrated catalogue of works and chronology.

Grete Prytz Kittelsen jewellery catalogue

It’s a must have book for anyone who shares our passion – or is not yet familiar with her work.

sculptural Grete Prytz Kittelsen-designed boomerang necklace

[Many thanks to W.W. Norton & Company for the review copy]

Bookmarks: Vintage Homes

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Homes & Antiques' 'Vintage Homes' book cover


We’ve been dipping in and out of this publication for many weeks now (which is always a good sign!).

'Country Chic' page from Homes and Antiques' book

It’s Homes & Antiques magazine’s Vintage Homes special edition…

page from Homes and Antiques' 'Vintage Homes' book

…a collection of twenty five of their favourite homes featured in issues of the magazine over recent years.

page from Homes and Antiques' 'Vintage Homes' book

There are vintage inspired homes in a variety of styles from rustic country to mid century modern.

page from Homes and Antiques' 'Vintage Homes' book

The overriding factors for inclusion were that homes were ‘curated and had evolved over time’, and that, ‘owners have a love and appreciation of beautiful design and objects from every era’.

'Get the Look' page from Homes and Antiques' 'Vintage Homes' book

The ‘magazine cum book’ is broken down into five broad chapters – 20th century style, country chic, English eclectic, French decorative and vintage crafty.

page from Homes and Antiques' 'Vintage Homes' book

Each chapter has homes that encompass the style with a ‘Get the look’ page to conclude.

page from Homes and Antiques' 'Vintage Homes' book

The editorial team gives an overview of the homes – and the owners provide back story, highlight favourite aspects and so on.

page from Homes and Antiques' 'Vintage Homes' book

It’s crammed full of gorgeous photographs to inspire and trigger ideas, whether it be decorating schemes or pieces to look out for at markets or vintage fairs.

page from Homes and Antiques' 'Vintage Homes' book

It’s hard to pick favourites with such a wonderful collection of homes. We love the look of clean, sleek modern spaces – but always gravitate towards the characterful vintage country looking homes with exposed stone & wood as our true love – especially in autumn & winter when curtains are drawn, a real fire is lit and candles twinkle.

page from Homes and Antiques' 'Vintage Homes' book

We fill our own spaces with a mix of traditional antiques, industrial and mid century modern design…

page from Homes and Antiques' 'Vintage Homes' book

page from Homes and Antiques' 'Vintage Homes' book

…the kind of eclectic mix much in evidence in this selection of homes.

page from Homes and Antiques' 'Vintage Homes' book

page from Homes and Antiques' 'Vintage Homes' book

So it’s really interesting to see other peoples vintage finds and how they’ve incorporated them into their houses.

page from Homes and Antiques' 'Vintage Homes' book

page from Homes and Antiques' 'Vintage Homes' book

There are over 120 pages to peruse so it should satisfy your vintage cravings for a while!

page from Homes and Antiques' 'Vintage Homes' book

page from Homes and Antiques' 'Vintage Homes' book

The publication is currently only available through the Homes & Antiques website.

page from Homes and Antiques' 'Vintage Homes' book

page from Homes and Antiques' 'Vintage Homes' book

[Many thanks to Homes & Antiques magazine for the review copy]

Bookmarks: Decorating with Colour

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Farrow & Ball's 'Decorating with Colour' book


This is one of our favourite books at the moment – we’re dipping in & out of it all the time!

brightly coloured home office

It’s entitled, Farrow & Ball – Decorating with Colour.

title page from Farrow & Ball 'Decorating with Colour' book by Ros Byam Shaw with photography by Jan Baldwin

It’s beautifully written by Ros Byam Shaw with stunning photography by Jan Baldwin.

mahogany paintwork

We tour around Europe, visiting some truly gorgeous homes that incorporate Farrow & Ball products into their decorating schemes.

log pile

There’s no doubting that Ros is an expert when it comes to this much-loved British brand, this being her second book in collaboration with them!

mosaic of painted doorways

Her first book concentrated solely on English houses, but in this tome we’re also treated to peeks inside the homes of Farrow & Ball lovers in France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Denmark, Norway & Switzerland.

pair of purple upholstered armchairs

There’s a great variation in the types of property & spaces featured – from country farms to urban villas. They have broadly traditional, rustic country and contemporary styles – but in truth they’re truly eclectic, their owners skilfully mixing items from many styles & eras.

room with white-painted wooden rafters

They’re furnished with antique, vintage, retro and industrial pieces.

red kitchen wall with white area painted unevenly with a roller

In addition to having owners with great taste, they all have one more important thing in common…

exterior paintwork

…the magic touch of Farrow & Ball.

Arcana table and chairs

We love Farrow & Ball ourselves – the tradition, the integrity, the colours, the eccentric names!

Contemporary chapter from the Farrow & Ball 'Decorating with Colour' book by Ros Byam Shaw with photography by Jan Baldwin

This book is a must for anyone who shares this love – or for anyone who likes beautiful interiors.

Royal Welcome chapter from the Farrow & Ball 'Decorating with Colour' book by Ros Byam Shaw with photography by Jan Baldwin

We like the fact that each photograph is accompanied by a short descriptive passage that helpfully includes the specific paint shades used in each space.


The author also shares each owner’s story, the property history, architectural highlights and details about certain pieces of furniture & art works.

wide open shelving

The book is divided up into broad sections which cover the decorating principles relating to Classic, Contemporary and Country.

neutral paint colour charts

Towards the end of the book there’s also practical information about products, finishes and colour groupings that work well together.

Neutral Territory chapter from the Farrow & Ball 'Decorating with Colour' book by Ros Byam Shaw with photography by Jan Baldwin

The author also takes us inside her own home – and a beautiful home it is too – with a modern, country, rustic style. We love the house and could really relate to the section where she talks about the challenge of a poorly lit space – in her case, an inner hall. She plucked up the courage to paint this space in Farrow & Ball ‘Mahogany’.

walls in hallway painted black

It’s counter intuitive, but as Ros points out, the darker shades create atmospheric & dramatic spaces – and actually make them look bigger. She says that it still gives her a thrill every time she enters. We’ve been toying with the idea of painting our landing area & upstairs lounge space in a dark shade. This section of the book has finally convinced us to go for it!

john name and green art glass on a shelf

We know what we’re going to paint – and when. There’s just one last question to resolve though – Mahogany, Tanner’s Brown, Pelt, Off-Black, Pitch-Black or Downpipe??  We’ll flick through the book once again to look at how the various shades look in real life.

Dark Drama chapter from the Farrow & Ball 'Decorating with Colour' book by Ros Byam Shaw with photography by Jan Baldwin

This book comes highly recommended. It’s a comprehensive guide – and will be an endless source of inspiration.

[This review is brought to you in collaboration with Farrow & Ball]