Thursday, 11 February 2016

Love potions and cocktails...

Oh, I love a cocktail and if you do too, how about mixing up your own love potion this valentines? And, if like me alcohol is off the cards this year, there's a mocktail just for you!

1.The Love Potion Cocktail

Blackberry Syrup:
1/3 cup blackberries, plus a handful to garnish
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 bottle prosecco
Thyme sprigs

 -  In a small saucepan, bring the blackberries, water and sugar to a boil. Turn to a low heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain blackberries and cool.
 - Add 2tbsp. of the above syrup to the bottom of each glass. Top with prosecco and add a sprig of thyme and 2 blackberries.

2. Cucumber & Rose Gin Cocktail

2 oz Gin 
.5 oz Elderflower liqueur
2 dashes peychauds bitters
2 slices cucumber, plus extra to garnish 
4 dashes rose water
.5 oz fresh lime juice
1 pinch ground cardamom
1 sprig thyme

 - Muddle cucumber, rose water and gin in a glass and strain into the cocktail shaker.
 - Add remaining ingredients into the shaker (except cardamom).
 - Add 2 ice cubes and shake!
 - Pour into a martini glass and sprinkle with cardamom.
 - Garnish with cucumber and thyme.

The Love Potion Cocktail Cucumber & Rose Gin Cocktail 
Mocktail Cocktail Pineapple and Ginger Mint Julep

3. Mocktail Cocktail 

2 oz raspberry juice
2 oz lemonade
1 oz cranberry juice
Frozen cranberry, to garnish

 - Add 2 ice cubes to a cocktail shaker.
 - Add all ingredients, except the frozen cranberries to the shaker.
 - Strain into a martini glass.
 - Garnish with a frozen cranberry.

4. Pineapple and Ginger Mint Julep

8-10 mint leaves
1T Sliced fresh ginger (about 4cm)
1/4 cup bourbon
3T pineapple sugar syrup
Soda water or pineapple juice to to up (optional)

 - Put the ginger, mint, bourbon and pineapple sugar syrup into a cocktail shaker and muddle. Add about 8 ice cubes and shake!
 - Strain over a glass of crushed ice, top up with soda water or pineapple juice.
 - Garnish with fresh mint


Monday, 8 February 2016

Valentines: A table for two

I make no apologies for the fact that this week the blog is having a valentines make over. Food, cocktails and table inspiration will all showcase to help you enjoy a special evening with your loved one, so keep an eye open if you're planning a quiet night at home this weekend.

I'll help you keep it simple and stylish this Valentines, starting with the essentials for creating a romantic table for two...

Want to stay away from the cliche red this valentines, how about dusky pink and mint with a gold twist. A gentle, romantic colour pallet, pulled together with flowers, tableware and candles. And, even if this isn't your favourite colour scheme the below five tips will help create a special table for two, no matter what.

- Table cloth or runner
A quick and simple way to add a little luxury to your meal, I love the grey runner pictured, it adds sophistication and grounds the otherwise feminine pallet.

- Flowers
Valentines wouldn't be the same without them and they create a statement centrepiece for your table without requiring too much work. Tip: Keep flowers below eye level so you can hold a conversation over dinner.

- Candles
Use a mixture of tall candlesticks to create height, I have a gold set which would look at home with this scheme, and smaller tea lights and candles to create a soft glow. Remember, in design we work in odd numbers, 3,5,7. The same rule applies here, trust me, you'll make an impact with absolutely no fuss.

- Napkins
Go the extra mile this Valentines and add something special to your napkins. A pretty napkin ring, ribbons or a sprig of rosemary... And if you've got the extra time, two sprigs of rosemary joined together will make a fragrant heart.

- Set the table
Obvious, perhaps but set the table for two... plates, cutlery and glasses and you will have a complete table for two this Valentines. Enjoy!

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Interior Design Styles - E Book

I'm very excited to tell you all about my first E Book which is now available for pre order.

Interior Design Styles: Popular interior design styles and how to identify your style.

Launch date: 1st May 2016

My new E Book is perfect for those of you who want to learn more about popular interior design styles from the comfort of your own home and is available to people all over the world.

The book will not only give you a detailed description of a number of popular styles but also hints and tips on how to create them in your own home, followed by a useful guide on how to identify your own style.

Best of all, if you order before 1st May, the book is only £5.00. What are you waiting for?

For further information or to book, you can visit my website here.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

The Industrial Interior Design Revolution

Continuing my 'how to identify interior design styles' posts, I want to take a look at Industrial interiors. This particular style is instantly recognisable but what are the key principles which underpin an industrial interior?

I've got 5 top tips for perfecting an industrial interior whether you're renovating an industrial warehouse or living in a modest terrace house.

- Exposed Brick is trick No. 1
No industrial space is complete without exposed brick, of which you'll be in abundance if living in converted buildings, a converted warehouse for example... or if you're working on a smaller scale you may look at uncovering original features, when renovating a Victorian terrace I uncovered all the original brick fireplaces. There are also some fantastic wall coverings available now which allow you to replicate a brick wall if you do not live in a property with original features, take a look at Dreamwall wall coverings.

- Raw Materials
The use of raw materials is fundamental to creating an industrial interior...
...They all have a place in an industrial interior and are easy to incorporate too, in some cases they are actually a very cost effective solution. Concrete floors for converted buildings or perhaps compromise with a worktop in your home, Copper bathtubs, unpolished wood furniture, galvanised steel chairs at the kitchen table... any table for that matter, they all sing industrial interiors.

*Top Tip for Bathrooms:
Use exposed copper pipes and handles for an inexpensive statement  in your bathroom, saving costs on hiding pipework and taps!

- Exposed Structural Materials
This will be a feature of many converted warehouses and you don't want to hide them, instead embrace the supporting beams, exposed pipework and create a focal point with them.

- Open Spaces
Essential for industrial interiors. Don't be afraid to knock down walls! Its not uncommon now to knock through to adjoining rooms to create larger, functional spaces and for vast areas you can zone them off with furniture to create 'rooms' within the space.


- Unique Finishes
Along with raw materials, industrial interiors will use nontraditional materials and accessories. Some ideas may include:
       . Ladders in the bathroom utilised as towel rails
       . Scaffolding planks fitted as shelves
       . Exposed copper pipes instead of traditional bathroom taps
       . Vintage metal filing cabinets used for storage
       . Pallets converted into coffee tables
       . Photography lamps doing double duty as art and lighting

Industrial interiors come in all shapes and sizes, so be creative, you don't need a Manhattan loft or converted warehouse.

If you would like to know more, why not contact me or if you're interesting in learning about another style and want to see it feature on my blog, I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Ready Steady Bake... White Chocolate and Berry Tarts

Hands up, who watched The Great British Bake Off last night? And who else wished they had dessert in the house?

Sadly, these tarts are not worthy of GBBO.

Yes, they look great and they taste fantastic too but they are just to quick, simple and easy to grace our screens on a Wednesday night.

For a start... when I'm against the clock I buy my pastry cases from the shop rather than making my own. But lets face it, when you plan an impromptu meal with friends on a Friday night, there is no time for making pastry once you've finished work, prepped dinner, crashed around with the hoover and only have 2 hours in which to do it all. If I'm being honest, it will take something pretty special for me to make my own pastry now, especially when shop bought is as good as it is.

So, when you need a quick and easy dessert that will impress and taste even better then it looks, I urge you to try these White Chocolate and Mascarpone Berry Tarts.

And, in a final bid to convince you to make these, if you aren't already dying to make them this minute, they are a deliciously light dessert so for those health conscious amongst you that don't want a huge serving of dessert, a small tart is the perfect finish to a relaxed dinner with friends.

Pastry Tartlets (I use Tesco Finest)
80ml double cream
100 g white chocolate, chopped (I might start using dark chocolate as summer turns to Autumn!)
200 g mascarpone
raspberries to serve (or fruit of your choice,  I can also recommend strawberries and blueberries)

Remove the pastry tarts from their packaging - no rolling and chilling required here!
Heat the cream until it just comes to the boil. Allow to stand for a couple of minutes before adding the chocolate.
Let it stand for a further 2 minutes, stirring the chocolate in before adding the mascarpone.
Whisk until smooth.
Fill your tart cases with the white chocolate mixture and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until the filling is firm. Top with raspberries (or fruit of you choice) and serve.
If you want to go a little further for your guests (depends how much you like them) you can melt some dark chocolate and drizzle over the top.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Kitchen Lighting Tips

One of my current projects is a family kitchen extension. We are extending the existing kitchen and incorporating both dining and lounge areas.

If you are thinking about or redesigning your kitchen, I cannot stress enough the importance of lighting. It will transform your room.

As I am frequently asked about lighting, here are my top tips for kitchen lighting to help you make the right decisions.

1. Use different light sources
Ensure you use different light sources at different levels in your kitchen. Lighting has different purposes so consider what you'll be doing in your kitchen first and foremost and where it will be happening.
Spot lights are perfect over counter tops and for areas that should be well lit to prepare food and cook/clean, pendants and wall or table lamps are ideal for dining areas creating a softer and more atmospheric light.
The combination of lighting will be functional and create interest and focal points within the room.

2. Zone your lighting
Zone your lighting so that you can operate different areas independently. For example, when you're eating dinner, you can turn off the lights highlighting the overflowing sink and create a more intimate dining atmosphere. Depending on the size of your kitchen, lighting could work as follows and all working independently to one another.
Kitchen spot lights
Breakfast bar pendants
Dining table pendant
Lounge lighting

3. Dimmer switches
My top tip of all. I strongly encourage you to use dimmer switches in combination with the above in your kitchen. In addition to the zoning of areas, you then have the power to control the overall feel in a room, and rather than plunge areas into darkness, you can create a softer general light.
4. The power of three
As with everything in design, always work in odd numbers. If you have a breakfast bar in your kitchen, 3 hanging pendants are very stylish, not to mention practical, making much more impact than one pendant alone. With dining tables I may use one statement pendant rather than three pendants, my choice will depend on the style of the room and other light sources used but it will be just that, a statement, a focal point. Again, using different light sources, sizes and types will create interest in your kitchen.

{Images: Pinterest, deVOL Kitchens, Humphrey Munson}

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Hanging Terrarium

Feeling inspired from last nights post, indoor plants, succulents and terrariums?

Want to know where you can buy your own terrarium from?

Well, here are my top picks and details on where you can purchase them from.