Her home is so like its owner; warm, stylish, with an eye for the unexpected and the unusual. I really enjoyed meeting Emma Smith, whose home is in Topsham, the chic, riverside town near Exeter in Devon where she co-owns Lark, a beautiful lifestyle store.
I love the way she has created a tiny en-suite behind the guest bedroom and her cheerful acceptance of what life is like with teenage boys, especially of the rugby-loving sort!
Christmas! Yes! And to get you in the mood, here’s one we did earlier – last Christmas, to be precise. Thank-you to the lovely Sarah Norton Interiors for allowing us to photograph her beautiful family home, tucked away in the heart of a Hampshire village. Ideal Home magazine gave it the star treatment, and no wonder….
Loved the way the owner of the latest house I’m writing about has arranged these letters..
I know it’s sad but I still get excited about walking into W H Smith and finding magazines with stuff I’ve written for sale on the shelves. Right now I have houses in the May editions of House Beautiful and The English Home. Appearing in HB is the Dorset home of textile designer Becky Winter. I love Becky’s textiles, which incorporate animal silhouettes and which she has turned into stylish and understated homewares, such as napkins and wash-bags. The property appearing in The English Home belongs to the dynamic Barton family of Hampshire. They have just launched a new mentoring service for young people which makes imaginative use of the house and its incredible surroundings.
In recent years the idea of French decor has tended to cluster round the statement armoire, the terracotta tiled floors of the classic mas, the ever-so-slightly battered Bergere bed and the monogrammed linen of the chateau. So what a joy, then, to be asked to review Romantic French Homes, the new book by writer Lanie Goodman with photographs by Simon Brown.
Yes, there are plenty of armoires, artifacts and sumptuous parquet on display. But the cliches of French decor are left far behind as they take you to assorted chateaux, bastides, and maisons bohemes and paysannes, spanning the entire breadth and width of the nation. Because there is no singular French style; how can there be when to live in France can mean anything from occupying a giant rural mansion, hunkering down in an Alpine village, to seeking shelter from the searing summers of Provence?
This book lays out the true spirit behind the French way of using their spaces; for cooking, relaxing or formal entertaining. It also takes care to explain how the homes’ various owners created their look. I especially liked the restraint shown by French orchestra conductor Emmanuel, in realising that the best thing about his Montmartre atelier was its view of the Sacre Coeur basilica, and arranging his living space accordingly.
Another joy are Lanie’s well-chosen words. Who wouldn’t want to live in a home where; ‘The owners were advised to lime-render the walls with a special mix of lavender and hemp, a frequently used technique of the region’?
If it’s inspiration you seek, or you’re looking to re-create some of what you’ve seen on your French holiday, this is certainly the book to guide your endeavours and nurture your dreams.
Spent all day interviewing the lovely owner of the most exquisite Dorset rectory for a feature that will be published in January 2013. No official pictures yet, but couldn’t resist including this one, just to give an idea of what’s coming up! The owner says that all these hats are used on walks and I love that idea. Have resolved to wear mine more, especially the Montana Hat my OH bought me for our wedding anniversary.