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]

Alice About The House

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Vintage Alice About The House book cover

We’ve just bought this great little book at the local market. Initially, it was the front cover that grabbed our attention – an eye-popping red & yellow – you couldn’t really miss it!!

Thompson Newspapers Ltd, publishers of Alice About The House

Before we opened it we guessed it must have dated from the 1950s/60s period. And so it turned out, being published by Thomson Newspapers Ltd in 1960.

'Eyebrow Pencils' and 'Eye Make-Up' from Alice About The House

It’s called ‘Alice about the House’ and as the name suggests, features Alice and all manner of domestic challenges.

'Lamb Leftovers' comic strip

Various scenarios spring up from the perfect sponge cake to electrocution!

'Cookery Nook' from Alice About The House

Much of it takes the form of comic strips.

'First Aid' from Alice About The House

The illustrations are fabulous – and so are some of the story lines.

'Bulbs, Bedding Plants and Seeds' from Alice About The House

As you might guess, it’s full of handy hints. Some are still relevant today, others belong to a bygone era. Both aspects make it a very entertaining read – the price is £10 including UK postage for anyone interested.

Charity Vintage: A Little Taste of Yorkshire

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'A Little Taste of Yorkshire' cookbook for sale on eBay for Charity raising funds for The Prince's Trust (ends 22 Mar, 2015 17:00:11 GMT)

Every so often we feature something in our weekly Charity Vintage series that doesn’t strictly belong in the ‘vintage’ category. This post is one of those times. We’ve chosen it because it features two things close to our hearts – food and Yorkshire.

 A Little Taste of Yorkshire is a cookbook produced as part of the The Prince’s Trust Million Makers* nationwide challenge. The team behind the cookbook, from Hallmark Cards based in Bradford, aims to raise £10,000 or more with 100% of the proceeds from the sales being donated to The Prince’s Trust.

The book contains over 45 recipes, including ones from Michelin-starred restaurants The Pipe and Glass Inn in Beverley and The Old Vicarage near Sheffield. I didn’t know until today that Yorkshire has the most Michelin-starred restaurants outside of London!

The book showcases some of the eateries themselves – from the famous fish & chip shop, the Magpie Café in Whitby to Primo’s Hot Dogs in Leeds to Forster’s Bistro and Deli in Bradford… and lots of others in-between.

*The Prince’s Trust Million Makers competition is an entrepreneurial fund-raising challenge which sees talented teams from companies across the country competing to outdo each other, all in the name of charity.

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]

World Dolls Series: Austria

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vintage 'Austria' book from the World Dolls Series

We’ve arrived in Austria on our World Dolls Series tour. We might just catch the first of the winter snow, so our timing is perfect.

vintage 'Austria' book from the World Dolls Series

Illustrations are by W. Lewis from The Birmingham school of Design – our resident artist in Germany & Holland too. We love all the artists in this collection of books, but if we were pushed, we’d probably choose W. Lewis as our favourite. The illustrations are both charming and very clever.

Dolls Lisa and Johann from the 'Austria' book from the World Dolls Series

Our guides are Lisa & Johann, looking resplendent in their national dress.

Alpine skiing scene from the 'Austria' book from the World Dolls Series

We’ve parked the coach up and are going to chill out (quite literally) in the Tyrol for a while.

Ski jumping  scene from the 'Austria' book from the World Dolls Series

Our hosts have no shortage of activities lined up – skiing, skating & sledging (it’s the 1960s so it’s pre-snowboarding!)

Cows in an alpine scene from the 'Austria' book from the World Dolls Series

When the snows melt we’re going to get stuck into a bit of farming.

Haymaking scene from the 'Austria' book from the World Dolls Series

Picnics and strolls through flower-filled meadows on our downtime.

Illustration of a salt mine from the 'Austria' book from the World Dolls Series

It’s going to be hard to drag ourselves away from this idyllic life, but for a bit of urban culture & retail therapy we might stop by Vienna.

Illustration of Vienna from the 'Austria' book from the World Dolls Series

Well, we do need to get that coach moving again before it seizes up. Next time it’s Russia.

World Dolls Series: Italy

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'Italy' front cover from the vintage World Dolls series of books

We’ve crossed the border and travelled from Germany to Italy in the World Dolls Series – we’re certainly clocking up the miles! 🙂

'Italy' front inside cover from the vintage World Dolls series of books

The lovely illustrations are by Philippa Walters this time.

Map of italy from the vintage World Dolls series of books

Our guides are Lisa & Pietro. They’re a cheery couple, always singing & dancing. Pietro with his guitar & Lisa with her tambourine.

Gondola in Venice in 'Italy' the vintage World Dolls series of books

We’ve spent the last few weeks watching the hard-hitting & brilliant Gomorrah on TV – as you might imagine this is a more light-hearted view of Italy! We start in the North with its mountain scenery and work our way down to the hot & sunny South – taking in cities like Venice & Rome.

Lisa and Pietro dolls in 'Italy' the vintage World Dolls series of books

The pretty villages & harbours are much celebrated – along with the stunning countryside.

criss-crossing washing lines hung with washing

These narrow streets & steps are a classic scene that springs to mind when we think of the Mediterranean holidays that we’ve taken.

Procession of worshippers in 'Italy' the vintage World Dolls series of books

There are lots of processions & festivals too – and pretty whitewashed houses with painted shutters, ornate railings and flowers in pots. See, we told you it wasn’t Gomorrah.

Balcony with flowers in 'Italy' the vintage World Dolls series of books

Makes us want to pack a small rucksack and jump in a camper van. I’m sure they could do with a hand (or foot) for the grape treading.

Grape-pickers in 'Italy' the vintage World Dolls series of books

Join us next time when we’ll be in Austria.