As many of my regular readers and followers on Instagram know, in August we opened up the house for a shoot with Homes & Gardens magazine. We were thrilled to have been selected to be included in their Christmas issue (out now), but it did mean a lot of panic decorating as soon as we were back from holiday!
It was definitely strange pretending it was Christmas in the middle of the summer, but once the decorations were up it was such a shame to have to take them down again! For the magazine I decided to style the table in a slightly more rustic way than usual, as I know they love a more country feel.
I want to take this opportunity to share some of the lovely pictures from the shoot with you (these were taken by my husband, Patrick, the ones in the magazine are quite a lot darker!). I also wanted to share links to the items I used, so you can create the look at home yourself this Christmas.
For the table I decided to keep it simple and stick to a colour palette of green, white and blue. I chose thistles, spray roses and eucalyptus as they main decoration – I think fresh flowers along with statement candles are the best way to create a simple, but effective look.
For tableware I used our lovely blue and white set, I think adding subtle colour to plates makes the look slightly less formal than usig plain white. I also have a bit of an obsession with blue and white ceramics; Royal Copenhagen, Royal Doulton and Burleigh are some of my favourite brands and they all have some really beautiful designs.
For cutlery we chose this lovely set from Soho Home – lovely quality and the blue matches the plates, as well as the colour of our kitchen units, which are painted in Railings by Farrow & Ball.
Glassware is so important – drinking out of a lovely wine glass always makes the wine taste better! We love Riedel and have a selection of different sizes. You can buy a lovely large Syrah red wine glass or use a stemless Pinot Noir one, which we always do for less formal dinners.
I hope you enjoy this post and find some of my tips useful – see below for links to shop the actual items that I used to create this look.
We are now decorating the house for actual Christmas and I am going to go for a slightly less rustic/more glamorous table design. I’m hosting a blogger lunch on Friday, so will share all the styling details from that with you next week!
Those who know me well will know two things about me – the first is that I’m a creature of habit and the second it that I love bedtime! At this time of year, with temperatures dropping I always like to start a cosier bedtime ritual and really take the time to wind down and relax before bed. In the summer months it’s light until late and bedtime is something that just happens…either falling into bed after a long, hectic day or collapsing under the duvet after a fun evening with friends!
But now that it’s dark from 4.30pm, it’s definitely time to make the most of cosiness, pampering, bedtime and sleep.
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My bedside table houses various bits and bobs, all selected to make bedtime a little more luxurious. I always keep a hand cream, a foot cream and my favourite perfume by the bed, as well as a face spray, which is such a treat to spray on before sleep. Oh and I can’t sleep without an eye mask these days. A habit I started last year, but really helps me shut out the outside world, especially if your husband likes to read on his iPad late into the night!
In the winter I also take more time looking after my skin, so this a a key part of my bedtime ritual. But before that, I prepare the bedroom by lighting a candle, fluffing the pillows and changing into my pyjamas. My current favourites are these beautiful silk blue and white striped set from Asceno, that were a birthday present from Patrick.
I usually take a herbal tea up with me – either chamomile or a Clipper blend – I have a bit of an obsession with their lovely teas! Prior to removing my makeup I sip my tea and depending on my mood, either flick through a magazine or head straight for my book. It’s a lovely way to get away from technology and let my mind calm before actually getting into bed.
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One I’ve finished my tea I then head into the bathroom for take off my make up, cleanse and moisturise before bed. In the winter I find it particularly important to take good care of my skin and give it lots of extra moisture. I’m currently in love with the Pro-Collagen range from Elemis. As a real beauty addict – I always have loved trying new things, but this anti-aging range from Elemis is a classic, and something that I’ve used on and off since my celebrity PR days, when a number of my clients were addicted to it.
For winter I find it perfect – the cream a lovely richness to it that really leaves my skin feeling pampered and hydrated. I start with the award winning Cleansing Balm – the smell is divine and it leaves my skin feeling amazing. With the warm cloth to take it off, it also feels like a lovely, luxurious ritual. I then use the Marine Oil, which is beautifully light on the skin, but very moisturising. In warmer months I find this oil enough on its own, but in the colder months, I follow it with the Oxygenating Night Cream.
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After I’ve taken care of my skincare, I head back into the bedroom, climb into bed with my book and blow out the candle, before reading for as long as I can manage before sleep takes over! Do you have a winter bedtime routine? I would love to hear about it!
I was thrilled a few months ago when Mr & Mrs Smith asked me to review for them – they are without doubt my first port of call when searching for accomodation, they really do handpick the best, so I was really honoured to be asked to go and test out the beautiful Domaine de Fontanille in Provence.
Here is our full review…
“We were so excited in the build up to our weekend mini-break in Provence. We usually travel fairly regularly, but it had been a few months since our last trip away.
We left a very cold and grey Heathrow Airport at 7am, snoozed through most of the short flight to Marseille, before bounding off the plane into the warm Mediterranean sunshine. The weekend had begun! We collected our hire car and set off towards the Luberon to begin our 48 hours of rest, relaxation and delicious French food.
En route to the hotel, we made a pit stop for lunch in the beautiful village of Eygalieres – you would do well to find a more charmingly French village – picture perfect with a lovely selection of cafés and restaurants to choose from for lunch. We sat in the warm sunshine outside a lovely bistro, surrounded by locals enjoying a leisurely Friday lunch. Mr Smith enjoyed steak tartare, whilst I opted for the dish of the day, a local meat and vegetable broth, it looked delicious and hearty, but was actually quite tasteless. Never mind, the setting and company made up for it!
We decided not to join the locals in their second or third carafe of wine tempting as it was; we were too desperate to reach our home for the next two nights, the beautiful Domaine de Fontanille just outside Lauris. After winding our way through stunning countryside, hilltop villages and vineyards aplenty, we arrived at our destination.
Set on a 17th Century Luberon estate complete with its very own vineyard, the main house is a breathtakingly beautiful chateau. It was lovingly restored a few years ago, taking care to maintain all the original features, whilst adding a feeling of contemporary, understated luxury throughout.
We dropped our bags in our beautiful bedroom – soft, calming colours combined with elegant and stylish décor – it was the relaxing haven that we had hoped for and to top it off, the views from the windows were out of this world. We threw open the shutters to find stunning views over the most delightful parkland all the way to Lauris in the distance. Closer to the building were beautiful mature trees, a fountain and a very French terrace; perfect for soaking up the last rays of sunshine with a glass of rosé (from their own vineyard no less).
After a potter around the gardens and said wine and sunshine on the terrace, we headed inside to get ready for supper. For our fist night we had booked the much acclaimed and Michelin-starred restaurant, one of two at the hotel, Le Champ des Lunes.
After a delicious aperitif, we selected the middle option from the variety of tasting menus on offer; three savoury and two sweet courses. The chef who oversees both restaurants in the hotel is Jérôme Faure, who won his first Michelin star when he was 30. Still only 38, he is renowned for combining unusual flavours that are ‘designed to wake up the taste buds’. Our supper didn’t disappoint and included creative combinations from langoustine, red pepper, raspberries, tarragon and goats cheese to wild deer gravlax, beetroot (from the garden), rose and black cardamom, blueberry and caviar.
All the courses were all delicious and the flavours really did contrast beautifully. We were however a little full and struggled to finish our final course! We slowly climbed the stairs to our beautiful bedroom and collapsed into the huge, comfy bed. Gorgeously soft pillows and bed linen enabled us to drift quickly into a deep, calm sleep.
Breakfast was an equally gourmet affair – there was a chef’s menu option (four creative courses), but we were still rather full from the night before, so opted for simple croissants and toast and local jams. Our plan for the day was to explore more of the Luberon in the morning and then head back in the afternoon to enjoy the gardens and pool at the hotel and make the most of the gorgeous sunshine, possibly the last we would see of it this year!
After a wonderful day visiting Gordes and other beautiful towns, we returned for our afternoon of sunshine. I had also booked a facial (I find it hard to visit a with a spa and not try it out!), I’m a bit of a beauty addict I’m afraid.
The treatment rooms are up in the eves of the Château. I was met by one of the most glamorous women I have ever seen! Dressed in a beautiful pearl encrusted black sweater with immaculate make up, she was the personification of French elegance. The facial itself did not disappoint; it was one of the most relaxing and indulgent I have every experienced. She alternated warm flannels with beautifully cool creams and potions and gentle massage techniques. It was quite mesmerising and combined with the scent of the gorgeous Nuxe products, it sent me into a beautifully calm, meditatve state.
That evening we opted to eat in the more casual bistro style restaurant. In the summer it is set out on the terrace next to the fountain, but as we were there in autumn, we ate in the cosy library overlooking the terrace. The menu was a selection of gourmet small plates, designed to share. The highlight was the artichoke salad with lemon, poutargue and rocket, washed down with a delicious Cuvée Fonatinille white wine.
Our departure morning had definitely come around too soon! We were very sad to be leaving our beautiful room and views – waking up to the sun streaming through the parkland trees really was very special. But the time away had definitely done the trick – we headed back to the airport feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, as well as a little bit full!”
Photography by Patrick Butler-Madden
This post was in collaboration with Mr & Mrs Smith, but as always all thoughts and opinions are my own.
I’m still struggling to believe that we are in November – the 5th already no less! A little late in coming, but here are my October moments…
A month that really seemed to pass in a blur, we had two mini trips abroad, the first to review a beautiful hotel in Provence for Mr & Mrs Smith (full review coming later in the week) and the second to try and buy our next project in Menorca.
As those of you who follow me on Instagram will already know, the signing couldn’t go ahead on the day it was planned as the seller’s lawyer didn’t arrive! There were ten of us waiting a the notary in Mahon (having flown in from all across Europe to be there) and he missed his plane from Alicante, so we all had to head home with the deal not done.
The hope is that this week our lawyer will meet his elusive counterpart and all will go through ok. Fingers crossed, as we are booked to spend a week at the house later this month, sorting it for next summer’s rental season. Ultimately we will renovate the property, but we need to save up a bit first, so the plan is to rent it as it is for next year and hopefully spend next winter updating it. I can’t wait to share some images with you soon!
Back in the UK and the lovely mild Autumn definitely dropped into winter when the clocks changed last weekend. Time to get cosy at home. It’s not long at all now until Christmas and I am feeling much more excited, much earlier than normal this year. It might be because we have already decorated the house once – the results can be seen in this month’s Homes & Gardens. If you want to see the full house tour then do grab a copy (I will also being doing more room tours on the blog soon, but in the meantime a lot of them are in there, all be it a little darker than normal, as the magazine favours a cosy look at this time of year.)
I hope you’ve all had a good month and I wish you a lovely cosy November!
With the clocks going back today, winter is approaching and it is definitely the time for getting cosy at home. Whether you buy into the hugely popular Hygge trend or not, everyone loves some candlelight, cushions and cosy rugs at this time of year!
This year I decided to dress our sitting room for winter with Patrick in mind. All too often us girls take the lead (or total control!) when it comes to interiors, so I decided for a change to make the focus on him relaxing and feeling cosy after a long day’s work.
I was thrilled to discover the stylish new homeware range Fox & Ivy, exclusively at Tesco. A beautiful collection of affordable accessories for the home and a number of items that work perfectly in our dark blue sitting room to enhance the cosiness and create a perfectly Hygge winter hideaway.
Candle & Picture Frame from Fox & Ivy, exclusively for Tesco.
The first items I chose were candles! I have a small addiction to scented candle (can you ever have too many?!) and this collection didn’t disappoint. With a wonderful range of designs and scents, I opted for the Rose Gold & Pomelo luxury scented bell jar and a lovely striped candle with the same scent to create atmosphere and fully scent the room.
I also fell in love with these vases – again regular readers will know how I feel about flowers and this gorgeous teal vase was perfect for my newly dried soft green hydrangeas. I paired it with this larger teal and rose gold vase, which beautifully compliments the colour scheme in the room.
Finally I chose this pretty art deco style frame – we never frame enough photos (it’s an ongoing saga and just something we never seem to get round to!), so I wanted to frame one of Patrick’s favourite pictures of Coco and I when we were first together and living in Mallorca.
Combined with come cosy rugs, a couple of fluffy dogs and his whisky collection, I think this it now the perfect space for him to relax in the evening during the long winter months – and I think I might quite enjoy it too!