The Art of Giving with Edge and Company

Sometimes I think I’m the luckiest girl it the world doing what I do, meeting the talented, amazing people that make my everyday so special.  I would like to introduce you to Edge and Company a well being and lifestyle store selling ethical and innovative products for the home and outdoors with a twist.  This wonderful new company crowd funded to get it off the ground with great success.  All the products you can purchase are handmade, crafted in the UK and worldwide by people living with disabilities, mental health issues and addiction and homelessness, who find it very challenging to access and maintain employment.

Edge and Company have an ethical buying policy which to you and me means we can filter their product range by their five categories, Organic, Upcycled, Eco Friendly and Made in the UK, a simple and effective way of finding the things that are most important to you when shopping.  Along with the filters you can find what you are looking for in the categories, Well Being & Lifestyle, Pantry, Homewares and Art & Culture.  Everything in its place from soap pebbles and ceramics to chocolate and coffee there really is something for everyone.

I absolutely love their tag line Radical Giving something we should take into account every time we invest in something new.  The reasoning behind Radical Giving is that every product sold will help to support organisations that are striving to break perceptions and social stigma, to help build acceptance and provide employment opportunities for  people living with life challenges.

Milly and Steve kindly sent me a gift box that showcases some of their wonderful suppliers, they know me well and chose some of my favourite things to keep me cosy over the holidays, from the toastiest slippers, to candles and hand blended herbal tea to add a little calm over the festive season.

The slippers have been a huge hit and my husband wants to steal them NAUSENI’s handmade felt slippers take their inspirations from the rich cultural heritage and dramatic natural landscape of Nepal.   The brand was founded in response to the Nepal Earthquake of 2015, with a mission to empower women by providing skill development and income generating opportunities for those affected by the Earthquake.

I love candles in any shape or form, these 100% naturally sourced beeswax dinner candles will have pride of place on my Christmas table made by Camphill Village Trust who provide a home within a supportive community for  people who have are living with a range of different disabilities.   The Calming hand poured candle will help me unwind and relax with its heady scent of jasmine, lavender, rosewood and bergamot, it will be perfect when I’m taking a well earned soak in the tub.  Made in collaboration with Beacons Creative who also produce beautiful soaps  all hand made made by people with learning difficulties providing them with a secure environment and employment.

I love a good cup of tea and I can’t wait to try this calming blend by Hackney Herbal who are a social enterprise promoting well being and healthy minds through herbs and nature based activities. The scent as you open the bag is intoxicating and I’m savouring the moment to make a brew.   I also fell in love with the perfect ceramic pot because you all know that ceramics are my weakness.   Hand thrown and glazed by Studio 360 a creative space for those recovering from mental illness.   This beautiful pot has found a home on my table and I found the perfect winter plant to put in it, this tiny white cyclamen fits in wonderfully well with my natural theme this year.

So if you haven’t quite found that elusive Christmas gift yet please do take a look at Edge and Company I’m sure you’ll find that special something, not only will you be giving a loved one a unique gift but also a boost to someone that has faced challenges in their daily life which makes all the difference in the world.

Jx

A Simple Christmas with Rowen & Wren

It is universally known that I adore Christmas, I don’t peak too early but I do like adding little bits and bobs here and there throughout the month of December, more of a celebration of Winter than the festival itself.  I decided a few years ago to go simple, pare back the baubles and let fairy lights and nature be the stars of the show, along with a few hand made, natural decorations that quietly shine without being too ostentatious.

One of my go to places to source those extra beautiful items are Rowen & Wren, their capsule Christmas collection is just that, hand selected pieces that bring the festive season together in harmony, from champagne flutes to  their antiqued brass Christmas tree stand, a delicious array of candle holders, stunning folk wrapping paper and brass bell garlands.  You will find everything you need to create that home spun simplicity with ease, from table to tree and everything in between.

My tree will be looking resplendent in their tree stand again this year, an investment piece that will be used for many years to come, with recycled glass baubles taking pride of place on the tree’s branches exuding hand made charm.  The table will be set using elder wood slice place mats to add that rustic feel to my table, making my black plates and cutlery stand out amongst the many candles and pine foliage.

I’m even simplifying my wreaths this year, I’m going to use the Benni brass wreath rings, Scandinavian in style with added touches of greenery bound around to create a subtle but effective look to my front door.  On the plus side once the festivities are over I will be able to remove the foliage to compost and use the rings over and over again.

Once all the decorations are in place, the wreath on the door and the lights are all twinkling, I’ll be able to curl up on my sofa after a lovely soak and keep my feet warm wearing the softest alpaca socks by Tom Lane.  There is nothing nicer than lounging around over the holidays in a dressing gown and socks, book and mug of hot chocolate not too far away.  I can feel my shoulders dropping at the thought of it and my feet will thank me for it too.

I know its a couple of weeks away but I simply can’t wait, I’m desperately looking forward to Christmas this year and I hope that, with a little help from Rowen & Wren: a 10% discount code TEAWITHRUBY to use at the checkout valid for a month, so will you.

Jx

  • With thanks to Rowen & Wren for gifting the products for the purpose of the post

Embracing Colour // Be Bold by Emily Henson

Before you think I’ve gone mad let me explain.  I know I am normally drawn to subtle greys and monochrome tones but if you scratch the surface you will find that I do love being bold.  My home may not be bright orange, pink and green like the cover of this fabulous book but I think I’ve made some bold choices, such as dark blue walls, funky patterned rugs and cushions and a black ceiling in my bathroom.  Being bold doesn’t necessarily mean bright and this book shows this off to perfection.

It is definitely a matter of perception, I absolutely love this book for its individuality of the homes featured, the home owners are not afraid of making a statement be it through vivid paint or boldness that lies in the details, patterned wall papers and creative layering of accessories.

Emily Henson is one of my favourite stylists and I do own a few of her previous books but I do think this one, along with Modern Rustic, is my favourite.   Be Bold is about embracing this free spirited look and shows us how to translate it to any home, you just have to take that leap of faith. Like the title implies interiors for the brave of heart.

The first section of the book goes into detail with easy ideas to recreate some of the looks in your own home, the second half discovers homes with adventurous, spirited styling that will inspire you to decorate with confidence.  These interiors are for those who love colour and pattern or for those who want to give it a go but are a little scared of the results.  These homes will definitely make you embrace the notion that the bright pink paint you love will make your hallway sing, or those tiles you have your eye on can not only go on the floor but up the wall too, break the rules and have fun!

Of course I am drawn to the homes featured that have more muted tones, the deep rich blues, the blacks and the greens with added accents of a geometric print or rug.  One of my favourites is interior designer Anne Geistdoerfer’s Parisian town house for its rich hues and clever designs.  Also the elegant apartment of Theo-Bert Pot and Jelle van de Schoor in the Hague, eclectic with a sophisticated mix of accessories.

It has opened my eyes again to the possibility that not everything has to be painted white, my next decorating project is my hallway and landing and my mind is a whir filled with colour, I’m taking inspiration from the pages of this book so watch this space!

Another perfect book to go on your Christmas list for sure, you can get a copy here from Ryland Peters & Small it will make a stunning addition to your interior book collection plus will never let you reach for the white paint again when inspiration has faded, its just the boost needed to get creative.

Jx

 

 

Winter Luxuries with Plum & Ashby

Winter is definitely knocking on the door isn’t it, can you quite believe its nearly the end of November, time to slow things down a little before the heady days of festive fun are upon us.  I like nothing better when the nights draw in to make my home cosy and warm after a busy day rushing around there is nothing nicer than giving myself time to soak in a bath and light a scented candle or two to clear my head and unwind properly before climbing into bed.

Plum & Ashby create the most beautifully designed, high quality products for your home with an aesthetic that is clean, simple, elegant and considered.  Their entire collection is designed in house where everyone contributes to the ideas and designs, most of their collection is made in England, a fact of which the are very proud.

I don’t think I could be without candles at this time of year, they bring happiness and well being to my home along with that soft glow that makes me relax completely.  I’m certainly keeping the Orange and Clove candle in its beautiful dark brown glass vessel for the Christmas holidays, with it’s rich divine scent evoking the spirit of this time of year.  It will take pride of place on my mantle piece to fill my living room with its intoxicating smell of warmed spiced cloves, bright citrus and juicy berry aromas, softened with musky notes of cinnamon bark  Well that’s the idea anyway I may have to give it few tries before as I don’t think I’ll be able to help myself.

Their votive collections make the perfect gift or stocking filler but I find them perfect for the bathroom, they fit perfectly on the side of my bath.  I don’t like strong bright lights in the bathroom, I like to soak away the day with the golden flickering light that truly soothes and relaxes.  With scents of Wild Fig & Saffron or Lime & Ginger they make the perfect bathing accompaniment.

Talking of bathing, Plum & Ashby create one of the best bath & body ranges you can find on the market.  All the products are made in England to a very high standard boasting beautiful, unique scent combinations.  They come highly recommended as I’ve been an avid fan and user for a few years.   They would make the perfect addition for guests staying over the festive period, or simply to make your bathroom extra special, why not use it every day for that indulgent treat.  I always have a wash lotion in the bathroom so that my skin is left nourished and cleansed.   I simply adore the Wild Fig & Saffron scent, with it’s masculine tones on a woodland note, ripe wild figs and crimson saffron its simply delicious.  All made with natural essential oils perfect to rejuvenate and moisturising which is definitely needed at this time of the year.

If I can’t tempt you with these then I don’t think I can tempt you with anything, they truly are the most luxurious loveliest products and everyone of you should have some Plum & Ashby in your home this festive season.

Jx

  • Plum & Ashby kindly gifted these items for the purpose of this post

 

 

 

Made of Wood // A Review

This book is the perfect book for this time of the year, filled with warm inviting homes that feature wood in many forms and styles and I adore every single one of them.  I can never resist a book written by Mark and Sally Bailey their effortless style and ability to fashion anything out of things they find fascinates me.  I have long been an admirer of their store Baileys Home in the heart of Herefordshire I have visited once a few years ago which is definitely not enough, I need to go back.  I have of course got a few things in my home from them, purchased over the years from chapel chairs to mirrors, Parfait jar lights, our loo seat oak of course and yes even my kitchen sink!

When Ryland Peters & Small asked if I would like to review Mark and Sally’s new publication Made of Wood I jumped at the chance.  I love wood but didn’t really realise how much until I read the book, I started to look around my home and truly noticed all the pieces I have that make our house a home, from Victorian striped pine doors to a French window shutter mantle shelf, hand made bath panels from scaffolding boards and painted floor boards in all the bedrooms, old tables and chairs and the list goes on.

The versatility of this wonderful material is endless and the book focuses on it in all its glory the warmth it brings to a home making it feel grounded either through a homes structure or the items curated within it.

“Made of Wood is a celebration of recycled pieces, age old crafting techniques, clean modern lines and global influences as well as art and tableware with a handmade feel.

The first half of the book Wooden Elements explores the many ways in which we can use wood in our homes, sculpted, left in its natural state, roughly sawn or smoothly planed, recycled or painted.  The second half of the book Wooden Stories contains 12 case studies, each one offering a glimpse into the homes of people who have used this most ancient and versatile of materials in creative and inspiring ways.

Living with wood brings tactile comfort to every day, warms any interior, and will give your home a sense of soul that is so often lacking in this age of mass production.”

I wish I could live in each and every home in this book, each so different from the next but with the one continuous link between them all that being the material that makes them special, wood.  Mark and Sally have such a way with words you understand their passion behind what they do and why, also the elements that make their homes so evocative and inviting from the Welsh Farmhouse to Whitecross Farm both homely and unique.  They believe that surrounding yourself with natural materials is a way of achieving a balanced and peaceful atmosphere in the home, wood being a principal element for harmony and I couldn’t agree more.  It is such a versatile element you can create almost anything from it with many finishes in its raw state, painted or polished, rough, recycled or reclaimed.  I would love to clad the outside of a house in it but that’s another story.

One of my favourite homes featured is The Plough to me its simply perfect with a pared back feel, no fuss just simple and honest, things have been chosen for their patina or sculptural qualities and elements have been left alone and untouched to reveal the history of this beautiful home that once was a pub.

This is definitely a book to invest in, you can get a copy from here directly, it would make a perfect Christmas gift for a loved one or a treat for yourself.  To own a copy to pick up and indulge in whenever you feel like, it will make you feel warm inside and inspire you with ideas to transform parts of your own home with wonderful wood.

Jx

  • Images 4, 6, 7, & 9 kindly supplied by the publishers Ryland Peters & Small, taken from the book Made of Wood written by Mark & Sally Bailey and photographed by Debi Treloar

 

Made + Good // Conscious Homewares

Carrying on slightly from my post last week about nesting for the season of Autumn, I touched on sustainable home wares and mentioned a few of my favourite places to go when you want to replace or update a part of your home without resorting mass produced goods from the high street.    Well this week I would like to introduce you to Made + Good an on line store that is not only ethical, conscious of the environment but all their independent makers are based in the UK, everything is hand crafted, small batch products made with love and hard work.  Another unique point about Made + Good is that they donate 15% of all sales commission to charity.   Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that when you donate to charity it makes you happier and healthier. When you place an order you get to choose which charity you want to give to at the checkout.  So every time an order is placed through Made + Good a charity benefits directly and both the maker and you the consumer can give back with no extra cost to themselves, amazing right!

I asked owner Alex Hayes about how Made + Good came about and what the future holds for her inspirational store.

Generally, setting up Made+Good has made me excited to be part of a move towards more responsible consumerism where customers appreciate original products made by the amazingly skilled craftspeople in the UK – people who design and make with such levels of care and quality that would never be possible in mass production! I am proud to be supporting a more sustainable way of shopping that encourages considered purchases of products that are built to be used and cherished for years to come. Items in the home that show the marks of being hand crafted or are worn with years of use hold so much value within them and can bring such pleasure to everyday rituals.

In terms of future plans… I would obviously like to see M+G grow to take on more Makers and even to incorporate more areas of making such as foods and sustainable clothing. I am really keen to work some collaborations with Makers and I also definitely plan to run some pop-up shops in the future. So lots of ideas still to work on… being less than a year old I feel like Made+Good is still very much in it’s infancy

What I love about Made + Good is the level of detail, you can shop from a carefully selected range of beautiful home, lifestyle and gift products, shipped direct from the studios of the makers straight to your home.   Knowing that you are supporting small independent creative people in the UK is a great thing, one that would never be achievable in mass production.  Everything in the store is hand picked, chosen for its ethics, style and functionality.  These pieces are to be cherished and become part of your home for a long time to bring joy when ever used, hopefully on a daily basis.

Taking the environment into account is a big part of the Made + Good ethos.  Sourcing products that are made from sustainable materials and designed to last, searching for makers who are conscious of their impact on the environment.  Its perfectly normal to find Made + Good makers running their studios on green energy, spoons and bowls carved from reclaimed wood, jewellery made from recycled metals, vegetable based inks and recycled packaging being used to wrap your orders.

The store is very easy to navigate and within each section you can find exactly what you are looking for with one click.  I know this as I have treated myself to one of the Wheat Bags in the Beauty + Wellbeing section under the Lifestyle heading.  It has helped me ease achy limbs at the end of the day and is perfect for when the dreaded time of the month shows its face.  Simply pop it in the microwave for a few minutes and wrap it around the body where needed. A safe and natural way to ease aches.  When not in use the printed design looks wonderful on display on top of a pile of blankets.  The most fascinating thing about these wheat bags is the story behind them knowing exactly where and how each product is made is truly fascinating and makes you appreciate it even more.  They are produced by Blästa Henriët a Scandinavian brand with strong focus on durable design. Their wellbeing products are made from European, hypoallergenic linen that is kind to your skin. With a skill and passion for craftsmanship, each piece is made by hand in their London studio. The linen is Oeko-Tex Certified, the wheat is grown on a farm in Lancashire and the packaging is FSC-certified, made in the UK from renewable resources.

Every item from Made + Good has a story and an authentic provenance which resonates with me greatly.  From the denim aprons crafted with meticulous detail to the hand printed natural linen tea towels and napkins to the one of a kind porcelain stripe pots handmade in East London using a wheel and kiln powered by green energy and with the greatest care for our planet.  Who can resist such wonderful items that will not only bring joy but will be cherished for a lifetime.

I can honestly say I can’t think of a better way of improving our self awareness and well being by investing in a little bit of Made + Good can you?

Jx

  • with thanks to Made + Good for loaning the products for the purpose of this post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn I Think I Love You

Its time to get the house ready for Autumn, make those little changes to bring this season into full flow.   I always think I’m going to struggle with the transition but I never do, I secretly love the misty dew filled mornings and the russet red sunsets that you simply don’t get at any other time of the year.  One thing I’m not so keen on is the darker mornings I do struggle to get out of my cosy cocoon when its still pitch black outside.

The upside to Autumn is its bounty and the ability to cuddle up under blankets, light candles whilst soaking in the bath, wear soft bed socks or slippers, prepare warming stews and soups,the list is endless.   Also getting outside to kick the fallen leaves all crunchy and golden under foot, breath in the air and hint of wood smoke from folks fires, coming home to mugs of hot chocolate or home made crumble made from this seasons wind falls.

Over the years I’ve collected some beautiful handmade, organic throws and blankets that I keep close to hand at this time of year to wrap around me when it gets chill.  There’s always one at the end of the bed should it be needed.  I stock pile beeswax candles through the summer to use in Autumn, alongside the scented sustainable ones that I love too.   I have different sets of linen bedding for this time of the year, darker hues are added over the bright white I prefer in the warmer months.

I also love to decorate the house with Autumnal bounty, foraged branches stems of golden bracken or seed heeds from the garden.  Pumpkins bought from our local farm shop grown in the fields close by which all last for weeks and weeks always add to the overall display right up until Christmas.

None of this costs the earth, most of it is time taken to create something rather fabulous from nature.  Trying to invest in pieces that will stand the test of time rather than buying wastefully.  These are a few of my favourite independent places to go to get all the wonderful things I have mentioned above that have integrity and meaning for a well balanced home.

The Future Kept | where I go to stock up on beeswax candles along with other treats.  This is a delicious store full to the brim of beautiful handmade blankets, ceramics, candles and soaps, perfect slow reading material and many many more sustainable products for your home.

Aerende | I support Emily’s store with all my heart, all the ethical products in this wonderful store are good, life improving home wares at their very best.  All made by people in the UK facing social challenges.  If you are going to buy one thing this season I would highly recommend taking a look.

The Wood House |  Another one of my favourite stores who stock muted pared back home wares, I recently treated myself to some handmade coffee beakers made by Ali Herbert that will be treasured for many years.  I also get quite a lot of my favourite magazine publications from here too. I love to keep a stock to read at this time of year, curled up by the fire.

Of course I can’t forget my favourite makers of scented candles Nomad Society and Essence + Alchemy both equally fabulous, the intoxicating scents that both these brands produce are heavenly and create wonderful candles that work especially well at this time of the year, all ethically sourced and ecologically friendly, no nasty chemicals.

I am now counting down the days until the holidays and our Autumn escape to the the Lake District to feast on the splendour of this magical season finding natures inspiration at every turn.

I hope you enjoy Autumn as much as I do but I am curious do you get your house ready like I do when the seasons change?

Jx

Images 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 & 11

 

 

New Colours to Reflect the Seasons

I have a fascination with paint charts, I simply love them, especially the excitement of choosing a new colour to decorate a room at home.  I like to take my time consider all my options before going for it so that I don’t make a costly mistake and I’m not one for redecorating every five minutes using cheaper alternatives.  I am one of those lucky folk who just knows how shades work together and find it easy making the final choice, even those bold steps like painting my bathroom ceiling black and before you ask it really does work.

I am a huge advocate for Farrow & Ball, I come back to them time and time again and would recommend them to anyone who wants that subtle difference when updating a space.  They don’t release new colours very often but this Autumn they have created nine new hues to get all our taste buds tingling.  I love it that they take time to create these shades, refining each colour and giving it a perfect name along with the story woven into each and every one.  Their paint works on so many levels, from the contemporary to the traditional home, modern rustic to slick city pad.  You can have fun with texture, why can’t you paint your ceilings in gloss there are no rules when using Farrow & Ball.

The nine new colours are quite muted nothing to bright but all work hand in hand with each other, from a soft off white, a dark grey green, a brown based neutral to a muted pink and a grounding blue to name but a few.  Of course I am a huge fan of the muted shades so can’t see myself using the adventurous pink of Rangwali very soon but it still captures ones imagination, I would definitely try Sulking Room Pink a soft tone without being garish bringing with it a warmth that would lift a room perfectly.  One of my favourites is Jitney a beautiful earthy colour, there is shift towards brown based tones a warm woody neutrals of late so this muted shade fits the bill perfectly.  I like to feel calm and cocooned in a room and I think this along with De Nimes a subtle down to earth blue would do exactly that.

The next big space for us to tackle, hopefully in the Spring is our hallway, in desperate need of a touch up, I like to keep this space light and bright due to no direct light access able on the upstairs landing.  I am quite taken with the new soft neutral of School House White, not a brilliant white but a pared back, timeless shade without the cool undertones, a soft white reminiscent of old school houses.  Along with our natural sisal stair carpets and stripped pine Victorian doors I think would work an absolute treat.

You can find all the new colours on the Farrow & Ball website, they even give you design tips and colour schemes that work cohesively together, making our choices a little easier to make when deciding on which shade to go for when decorating.

Sadly I’m not decorating anything this weekend unlike the last but I will be soaking in the tub looking up at my beautiful black ceiling that is cocooning and soothing all at the same time.

Jx

 

 

Windows to the World // Understated Glazing

I wrote a post about windows over a year ago with no notion that I would be writing again about the same subject but with brand spanking new ones in my own home.  A year ago I was dreaming of new windows but fate took over and here we are.   All my sentiments and reckoning in my other post still stand true today but finally I have got rid of the nasty nasty brown light sucking pvc nightmares that leaked heat.  All the glass panes had blown so we couldn’t see out of them and I couldn’t bear thinking about another winter with these dodgy monstrosities.   Waking up on cold mornings having to mop up water from the window sills was an arduous task and one that I didn’t want to have to endure any more.

A chance encounter gave us the impetus to start, not having a clue of price ranges and which companies were cowboys or not we took the plunge and had a few sales reps around (that’s the hard part) to give us quotes so we could make an informed decision.  All scary stuff as to who to trust, it is never as easy as it looks on Grand Designs but then again its always the glazing that goes awry!

Our budget wasn’t massive so we knew high end bespoke Critall windows were way out of our price bracket but what if we could get something similar we wondered?  I had set my heart on aluminium frames and not pvc, I didn’t want white or brown I wanted grey to compliment our interiors, also less frame and more glass and I found them.  Big picture windows to our specification and not an inch of plastic, we are over the moon with the service and installation (minus a fitting date hiccup) from Anglian Windows a reputable firm with high standards and who now also come with a recommendation from me.

The joy of knowing that my home is secure, energy efficient and warm is a weight off my mind.  The light that the new frames has brought to each room is utterly amazing, we knew there would be a difference but are astounded by how much.  Light plays a big part in our homes and when you are lacking it you really can tell, being able to watch the sky from bed on a morning is such a pleasure.  Not having to turn lights on in the middle of the day is another huge bonus and hopefully will reflect in our green energy bills.

I think windows with less frame and more glass are far more appealing, framing a view, no obscuring bars or added nonsense that just gets in the way and makes an ugly statement.   I like to look out of a window and to be able to while away a few hours curled up by a picture window is bliss.  Here are a few pictures of lovely spaces that inspired me to choose the frames for our house.

I know this may not be our forever house but for now the small improvements we keep making are adding value to our lives, our house is a rather homely place to be but we will keep dreaming of the modern new build that one day we will achieve and who knows Anglian may be fitting the windows.

Jx

Images 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 & 13

  • This post is written as a personal review not in conjunction with any company, I have received no payment or discount, purely my own words and opinions

 

 

 

 

Natural Wellbeing with Essence + Alchemy

When the days start getting shorter and the evenings close in
bringing with it a sense of hibernation and rejuvenation after the heady days of summer;  I like nothing more than to unwind and relax by lighting scented candles or incense sticks to bring peace and tranquillity to my surroundings.  A big mug of tea or glass of wine curled up under a soft throw with a good book, you simply can’t beat these moments.
One of my favourite places to go to treat myself to botanical scented goodness is Essence + Alchemy, from their divine packaging to the heavenly scent of each of the goods, it truly is sublime with an added touch of magic. Lesley really is an alchemist,  bringing to the fore the four elements, fire, water, air and earth the inspiration behind each of her goods.  Everything is handmade in small batches with pure essential oils and packaged in an ethical way, everything has been sourced and produced to have as little impact on the environment as possible, the brands ethos behind what they do  and why is rather wonderful you can read more here.
We all seem to be living more increasingly busy lives but I try very hard to stop on an evening, the phone goes away along with the laptop what doesn’t get done today can wait until tomorrow.  We need time to restore and recharge, learn to breath, slow down our thought patterns and relax.  I find scent be it candles, aroma mists or incense help me focus and do all of the above.  Essence + Alchemy aroma mists and incense are subtle not overpowering but have delicate tones that help aid sleep.  I use the aroma mist before I go to sleep the scent helps me fall asleep quickly and brings with it a restful nights rest.   I am also a huge fan to incense sticks, I find the process of lighting and releasing the smoke into the room has such a powerful effect, the scent lingers for a long while after the stick has gone bringing with it a soothing calmness that helps with my overall well being.
I asked Lesley the founder of Essence + Alchemy became what it is today and how she sees it growing in the future, this is what she said.
“I started out as an Environmental Scientist and after experimenting for many years with botanicals and essential oils for their well-being properties, I decided that this was a true passion and it was time to launch a new venture. I started creating natural candles in my kitchen and then hatched the idea for Essence + Alchemy, which brings together the natural scent and energy of plants (essence) with my scientific and environmental background (alchemy). 
Candle making came about because it was a happy distraction from house renovations and then slowly became an obsession into making the best candles I could with quality materials.  I started E+A alongside my career as a self-employed environmental consultant which was hard work because I was often travelling and away overnight.
Moving into the garden lab earlier this year, I’m still investing a lot of time and resources into that.  I enjoy growing slowly.  I think E+A will always be small-batch, it’s very personal to me and rooted from an idea of sustainability and creating less.  Candles and products are all about wellbeing and aromatherapy so if it was mass production behind the scenes, it really wouldn’t fit with this.
I’ve just launched candle club which is a way of reusing candle beakers so that customers can receive a refill every month in their favourite scents without having to worry about a growing container collection.
Earth products, which is a new apothecary line, is launching end of the month/early October, starting off with bath salts.  I’m a massive bath lover and it’s always been a dream to make my own range.
Continuing to collaborate, I really love working with other makers or businesses on projects, it’s always something a bit different from what I’m usually doing. I’ve got a few exciting collaborations  coming up this year.
For the future, I’d really like one day to have a small space or a travelling space because I have a retro caravan to renovate – a small sanctuary where people can come and breathe in aromas. Maybe next year!”
I can’t image not having the joy that bontanical scent brings to me and my home, to my overall well being, it nourishes my mind and brings calm to my surroundings.  The world would be an altogether sadder place without it.
Jx

How to Live with a Small Bathroom // Monochrome Dreaming

Confession time, I dislike my bathroom but neither have the funds or the space to do anything about it at the moment.  The thought of being bathroomless fills me with more dread than living with the one I have currently got.  I would simply adore my home to be glossy magazine worthy but that just isn’t going to happen with my dodgy 80’s taps and strange wooden dado rail that grace my walls!  We have ripped up nasty laminate and painted everything in hard wearing blackened by Farrow & Ball which blurs the lines to this tiny tiny 2 m² space.  The saving grace is the suite is white we’ll just ignore the acrylic bath with old lady grab handles.

I have added little touches that make it a nicer space to be in and I do love having a long soak.  We have a super slimline cupboard from Ikea that hides all the bathroom essentials and keeps the surfaces clear.  With the shower being over the bath we replaced the shower head and attachments to a simple stainless rose, pipe and control panel so no extra fuss. We have just added a sleak new shower screen from the new Elle Decoration Noir range for Bathstore that has stopped the leaks and is perfect for what we need.  All other touches give it a cohesive look that makes you ignore the crappy tiles and dodgy dado. A beautiful oak loo seat from Baileys if you can call a loo seat beautiful and an oak loo roll holder from Workshop Living , soft linen towels by Rowen & Wren, and a super Hunter & Jones Berber style cotton bath mat that is sumptuous to step onto after a lovely soak. The next small change is happening late Summer as we have bitten the bullet and are replacing all the windows for grey aluminium ones, more window less frame so should make a huge difference to the quality of light.

So you don’t really need that glossy magazine bathroom, you can make little changes and add thoughtful accessories to make your bathroom into a relaxing place to spend quality moments for that all important bath to rejuvenate and collect your thoughts.

I know exactly how I would transform this space if I could, monochrome would be the colour scheme, I find it works so well in a bathroom especially one as small as mine. I gather inspirational images all the time but always come back to the same look.  Streamlined fixtures, clean lines, no fuss and I’d definitely fit in a feature tile somewhere by Mandarin Stone, I have one leaning up behind my sink to help me visualise how it could be, one day.

So for now I shall live with my little tired space but shall dream big via my Pinterest board.

Jx

Images 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 & 16

 

Relaxed Coastal Style // Sally Denning // BlackshoreStyle

Every once in a while a book comes along that fills you with emotion, ones that conjure up a sense of calm and tranquillity, each page turned is a delight, drawing you deeper into the homes featured plus the inspiration of the coastal elements applied from colour palettes and textures, weathered wood and bleached linens.  I have a deep pull towards the sea, I don’t quite live right next to it more’s the pity but I am very lucky that I am a short drive away from it and get my fix as often as I can.  Now, where ever I am I can be transported to the shore when I relax and read Relaxed Coastal Style by Sally Denning.
This beautiful book will definitely be coming on my holiday with me to be read and re read whilst away in France, lucky for me I will be by the sea so its perfect.  I love the way the book is laid out in parts throughout, Coastal Elements guides you through how you can create a coastal interior picking up on simple design techniques and colour palettes that would suit your home. From weathered and bleached to dark and moody all of which can be found by the seashore, pale sandy beaches to inky stormy skies the palettes can be replicated through decor and accessories.   Then we get introduced to the Coastal hideaways, the homes that are situated right by the big blue ocean, from a Norfolk beach shack to a Coastguards house in Kent to a Mallorcan hideaway and a cottage on Cape Cod filled with vintage charm.  I don’t think I can choose a favourite as each one has a certain element that I adore but will most certainly be picking up little design influences to use in my own home.
I can wax lyrical about the book for ever but I am lucky enough to know the author Sally through being friends on instagram for quite some time.  I am in awe of her work, style, her eye for detail and she also has the most fabulous instagram feed BlackshoreStyle.  I asked Sally how the book came to fruition and this is what she said :

 

“I have been an interiors stylist for over 20 years and for a major part of that, styling and writing for interiors magazines in London. Now freelance, I have  always wanted to do an interiors book but if the truth be told, getting a Book proposal together had always been put on the back burner because normal work and life seemed to take over! One day, I was sitting in my car (the glamour!) working as the wifi had gone down at home as usual (!), and an email popped into my inbox from London publisher Ryland, Peters and Small asking me if I would be interested in styling and writing a coastal book for them. I didn’t realise that they followed my Blackshore Style account on Instagram, but this was one of the reasons that they gave me the commission as they seemed to like my style. Of course, I jumped at the chance, so thrilled that they believed in me, and chuffed to bits that they approached me to do it.

 

There was quite a bit of travelling involved to capture the images and a solid three weeks of shooting. Myself and the photographer, Ben Edwards travelled to the East Coast of America, Mallorca, mainland Spain, Cornwall and Norfolk to shoot the book with long days shooting, but in fantastic places by the sea. Dreamy actually and the sun shone too – we were so lucky! After all the images were taken, I started to write the book. I wrote it last Autumn, and each day lit the woodburner and sat at my laptop typing away – a process I really enjoyed as I haven’t done much writing since my magazine days. Then layouts and proofs started to come through earlier this year. I worked very closely with the publishers Art director and designer, working on every single page to make sure it looked as good as it could to fit their house style. I hope I’ve done the book justice and thank each and every person who has spent their hard earned cash on a copy. I’m forever grateful and honoured to have been able to create an actual, real life book!”
So if you don’t own a copy of Relaxed Coastal Style then where have you been, every coffee table in the land needs a copy so you too can be transported to the shore and be inspired to create that effortless simplicity that life by the sea brings.

 

Jx

 

* with thanks the Sally for letting me use her images alongside my own in this post.  You can get a copy of the book here.

 

Ryan’s Daughter a Stylist’s Dream

Many moons ago before Tea with Ruby was even a seed of a thought I poured over interior books and magazines and still do to this day.  I’ve always loved the laid back French style, muted colours, slubby linens, soft buttery ceramics weathered and worn wood.  One of my well thumbed books from this time was Essentially French by Josephine Ryan.  Never in a million years did I ever think I would get to visit her beautiful shop let alone call her a friend.

Roll on a few years and here I am writing about Josephine and her new venture Ryans Daughter. Opening the shop again to the public after a few years away seemed the right thing to do, serendipity as you will as this was the original premises of her first shop.   Times have changed but Josephine’s effortless style and eye for detail is ever present, bringing in new stock such as mid century modern pieces to sit elegantly alongside the pared back French antiques.  As the shop evolves supper clubs will be held on an evening bringing new life to this magical place.

Complimenting the home wares and antiques curated by Josephine, floristy and plants are being expertly designed by Sascha Rothing bringing another layer to the surroundings.  The entrance to the shop was exquisite, the floral displays drew you in and made you want to explore.  Once you enter it truly is a feast for the eyes every where you look you find another wonderful object that you never knew you needed!

Working with stylist, designers and bespoke clients Josephine brings her knowledge of the business to elevate the interiors and homes of many a lucky home owner.  Along side the shop she owns a property in France that has graced the pages of many interiors magazines and books, its surroundings in the French country side lend itself for retreats and workshops a like.  Taking time out to find peace and tranquillity amongst the most beautifully furnished home must be such an experience.

Visiting Ryans Daughter was a rather special moment for me and I sincerely hope that you all make a trip to Abbeville Road in Clapham to see it for yourself too.  Situated on the prettiest street not far from the common I couldn’t think of a better way of spending an afternoon amongst the splendour of this true gem of a shop.  Follow Josephine and the shop on instagram for all their updates.

Jx

  • All images my own of the shop, Josephine’s house in France found here and the dining room image here

 

Concrete Chic with Ross & Brown

I do have a confession to make I absolutely love concrete in all its shapes and forms, the minimal urban interior is something I covet, if you follow me on Pinterest you will already have figured that one out!  My dream would be to have cast concrete worktops in my kitchen and a polished concrete floor throughout the downstairs of my house.   For now though this isn’t a reality but I can add touches of it through accessories in my home.
Ross & Brown have just launched a new selection of home wares from LIKEconcrete to give folk like me that little slice of minimal chic to our interiors.  The brand has combined Danish style with refined industrial design using innovative technology to mould concrete in unique ways to create a silk like texture.  All created with organic, sustainable materials to reduce their carbon footprint.  Each of the products has been given an ancient Nordic name.
The Karin tray meaning clean and tidy is perfectly named.   These stunning trays are not only beautifully formed and tactile but are very useful around the home.  I like keeping certain items out on display, things that get used on a daily basis but don’t want to let them scatter all over creating a mess, feeling cluttered.  Having a stylish tray to place things on when not in use is very handy indeed, not only will things not go missing but you can create little vignettes with your things.   They come in three different sizes and colours all in my favourite monochrome tones.
This simple white concrete tray will become one of my favourite new additions, it looks great on the bedside table, keeping your essentials to hand like jewellery, hand cream and reading glasses.  It works equally well keeping all your bathroom lotions and potions essentials together, everything is in one place so you don’t have to go hunting for that precious face mask when needed.   Then again it doesn’t have to be just for storing your bits and bobs, it works equally well grouping your favourite ceramics and house plants on, creating a pleasing display.   Or even as a morning coffee tray, making every day that little bit more enjoyable and oh so stylish.
Along with the LIKEconcrete collection Ross & Brown stock some of the finest designer home wares, selecting brands such as Norman Copenhagen, Bloomingville and House Doctor DK.   The owners Peter Ross and Gary Brown started in the interior design and architecture world. Through their love of sourcing products for specific projects they began exploring the idea of setting up an on line store as a destination from which interior designers and home owners would visit to find new and interesting products.  The store has a minimal Scandinavian feel, filled with beautiful products for the home that make me very envious.  What I like most about Ross & Brown is that Peter and Gary have to love a product before they list it on the site, everything they stock they would have in their homes, as Peter puts it ‘we are essentially designers doing retail, not the other way around’.
So if you are like me and are after something a little different with a contemporary Scandinavian design edge then please do visit Ross & Brown you will certainly not be disappointed.
Jx
*  with thanks to Ross & Brown for gifting the Karin Tray for the purpose of this post

Escape to Croatia at Villa No24

What do you look for when booking a holiday?  I like staying in places that are unusual a bit different , somewhere I know nothing about.  I also like to find holiday homes that are in keeping with my style, that make me feel at home instantly.
Alas I am not going to Croatia this year but if I were Istria would be the place to go and my time would be spent at Villa No24.  Croatia is a place I have always wanted to visit and hopefully one day I will, it seems more untouched tourist wise a hidden gem especially Istria,  full of culture, historical architecture and breath taking scenery surrounded by olive groves and vineyards.
Villa No24 is stunning, the interior is naturally decorated, slubby neutral tones that I adore, a calm peaceful retreat to escape to, owned and renovated by Ita and Žac.  The couple both have fast paced careers and wanted to be able to find a way to combat their high paced lives with something that would be good for their well being.  Their plan for the future is to be able to move to Istria permanently and do what they enjoy the most, renting their haven of a property during the Summer months and in the Winter escape to warmer climbs for rest and relaxation.
Villa No24 is located in a small romantic village in the heart of Istria, set in the most tranquil and peaceful surroundings, the villa was built in 1921 an old stone dwelling that Ita and Žac renovated in 2017 to bring back the charm and elegance of the original building but added contemporary details to make it into a beautiful modern retreat.  It is spacious and open with 3 bedrooms each with their own bathroom, a kitchen inside and out for alfresco dining, a stylish lounge area to relax on an evening and the pièce de résistance the large pool for whiling away many hours basking in the sunshine or snoozing in the shade of the terrace’s canopy.
The rooms are individually decorated with original pieces of art made by Ita, her macramé pieces adorn the walls and light fittings creating a unique look in my favourite colour palettes.  Her macramé work is exceptional and I am the proud owner of one of her wall hangings.
I for one am now rather desperate to find a way to visit Villa No24 not only for the hospitality that Ita would provide but the peaceful beautiful interiors that I would get to stay in.   A simply serene get away in an undiscovered part of the world I would dearly like to visit.   Fingers crossed I will get to visit Croatia very soon.
Jx
* with thanks to Ita for providing the images of Villa No24 for the purpose of this post.