Holiday Table Decor

Incase you haven't heard, it's Christmas on Thursday. My mother, who I don't get to see nearly enough, arrived on Friday to spend Christmas and New Year with us. She's come all the way from New Zealand, so I want Christmas day to be extra special, and as Christmas day pretty much revolves around food, that means making the table look extra beautiful. It's the least I can do, considering how far she's come for lunch. I want it to feel über cosy, and a little bit glam, but still relaxed and informal.

Styling & Photography Bianca Hall
Chairish asked if I'd like to take a look at their latest collection of vintage table top pieces and design a table scheme around a couple of items. Um, let me think about that. OKAY!

If you're not familiar with Chairish, sort that out pronto. It's a fabulous site that sells a curated selection of vintage goods on commission, ranging from gifts and jewellery, to furniture, rugs and lighting. Browsing Chairish is a bit like falling down a beautifully furnished rabbit hole. On any given day, I fall in love with 95% of what I see, so it's a good job for my bank account then, that I'm not in the states!

As I don't physically have any of the lovely pieces from Chairish to photograph on my Christmas table, this post is half fact and half fantasy...

Styling & Photography Bianca Hall
My colour palette this year is neon pink (no surprises there!), pale flamingo pink, green and gold. Our dining table is stainless steel and can feel rather cold, so I'll be starting to layer the table up with a soft linen table cloth, which instantly adds warmth whilst keeping it casual. On top of this, a hand dyed Shibori style table runner in a beautiful pale flamingo pink. More on this easy DIY soon. I also made a matching set of napkins, which will sit upon simple white plates, tied with gold ribbon and adorned with a sprig of eucalyptus.

Speaking of greenery, no holly or mistletoe for me this year. I've gone for a mix of Eucalyptus, Protea and ornamental Pineapples. The lovely muted green of the Eucalyptus contrasts so well with the neon pink, and works beautifully with the gold and paler pinks too.

It's no secret that I'm a big pineapple fan, so obviously I had to include these on my Christmas table. After all, not only are they brilliant eye-candy, but they're a symbol of hospitality, so perfect for this time of year when welcoming family and friends into your home.

My trip to Columbia Road Flower Market yesterday with my husband, children and mother, was not exactly relaxing - it was heaving - the busiest I've ever seen it, and it was no fun at all being stuck in the hordes of people, often at a complete standstill. However, I came away with everything I went for which is always satisfying (thanks to my daughter who spotted the ornamental pineapples that I'd missed and showed me where they were).

As I'm a glutton for punishment, I also headed for Ikea, which wasn't actually so bad. I arrived 15 minutes before closing time, with a very specific shopping list (for once), which included some of their bargain priced faux sheepskins for throwing over the backs of our school style dining chairs to cosy them up and add a bit of luxe.

I picked up a couple of great gold geometric candle sticks at Habitat a few weeks ago, that look gorgeous (and much more expensive than they were) with neon pink candles in them. These will be nestled amongst the greenery, along with some battery powered fairy lights on copper wire, which are my new favourite thing.

I adore vintage glasses, so my fantasy addition from Chairish, are these stunning Baccarat Crystal Onde Wine Glasses. Mine though, as anyone that knows me knows, will contain a cocktail rather than wine. And there will be edible gold flakes in it. Of course.

Baccarat Crystal Onde Wine Glasses from Chairish
I couldn't just choose the glasses though, because my table setting really needs these too...

Crystal Hostess (that's me!) Flatware Set from Chairish
Saint Louis 'Bizet' Crystal Water Jug from Chairish
Oh, and those stunning agate coasters up there in the pretty collage? They might just be under the Christmas tree waiting for me to tear open and feign surprise at on Christmas morning.

Styling & Photography Bianca Hall
So that's how I'm rolling this Christmas. My husband is worried there's nowhere for the food to go. Duh! That's what the butler is for.

Happy holidays everyone!

P.S In case you're wondering, this is not a sponsored post, just a bit of fun. I do love playing fantasy interiors...

P.P.S Come back soon to see how I made my table runner and napkins. Another very satisfying DIY.

Tropica me

My new collection of cushions and napkins has just launched. Hooray! The collection, called 'Tropica', has been a long time coming, and I'm particularly proud of it. It's a bit of a departure from anything I've done before - more grown up I guess. I've always designed for me first, as I just can't bring myself to release any products that I wouldn't personally want to have in my own home, so as my tastes continue to evolve, my designs do too. 
Photography & Styling Carole Poirot
The four patterns in this collection started as delicate paper-cuts. Several months ago, I was telling my daughter about the incredible traditional textiles of Hawaii, Mexico and Panama. In particular, the very beautiful Hawaiian Quilts that were on the beds of the Moana Surfrider Hotel on Waikiki Beach that we stayed in when she was very little. We decided to have a play around with some paper-cuts, to come up with some of our own patterns - the kind where you fold a piece of paper into quarters, leave the folded sides intact, cutting a pattern into the outer edges, then reveal a lovely geometric design when you unfold it. I was surprised when our quick little experiments turned out so beautifully - that something so simple could be so striking. I found myself doing more and more in the following weeks, and the idea for my next collection was born. I knew that I wanted the patterns to feel contemporary and fresh, so I started playing around with repeats digitally once I'd scanned them, and then they really came to life.
Photography & Styling Bianca Hall
I love that 'Ipanema' (above) looks lattice-like, though if you look closely you might see a palm tree or two. And a pineapple motif found it's way into my 'Maui' pattern (top and middle cushions in the image below). The 'Bahia' print has a tribal feel to it (the charcoal cushion and lampshade in the first image), whilst 'Panama' has an air of luxury about it (bottom cushion in image below).
Photography & Styling Carole Poirot
The cushions are all available in the shop now, and the napkins will be available soon...
Photography & Styling Carole Poirot 
Photography & Styling Carole Poirot
Photography & Styling Carole Poirot
I'd love to know what you think. What's your favourite pattern? Enjoy the rest of the weekend. I'll be doing some more house painting tomorrow. You know, just for a change...

Trend-spotting: Bolster Cushions

I'm going to stick my neck out here and predict that oversized bolster cushions are going to be everywhere over the coming months.  And not just on beds - you'll see them on bench seats and sofas too. They look so comfy and inviting - perfect for snuggling up on during the winter that is nearly upon us.

I spotted one a while back on the ever fabulous DesignLoveFest, in Bri's beautiful bedroom. (That's the light I want for my kitchen. Le sigh...)

Image: Bri Emery / DesignLoveFest
I'd been hanging on to an amazing piece of vintage Chinoiserie Linen that I'd found on eBay for a steal well over a year ago, that I just didn't know what to do with. Cutting it into smaller pieces for standard sized cushions would have wasted the design, but I didn't have enough to do much more with it. So when I saw this image, I instantly knew it was the perfect thing to make with my linen.  I used the entire width of the fabric to incorporate the beautiful lattice border.  I used the linen for the front only, piped it with black velvet, and the back is heavy-weight charcoal cotton.  I love, love, love it.  It looks like a really expensive piece, but in fact cost me less than £10 just for the pad - everything else I already had in my studio.

I think this shape looks more contemporary and relaxed than a traditional cylindrical bolster, but anything goes. Really, it's all about using a great fabric. These are a great way to add pattern to a room without the expense or commitment of wallpaper. Unless you go for über expensive fabric of course, but if you only use your 'good' fabric on the front, you don't need much at all.  My husband is so thrilled that there's another cushion on the bed. Not.

The 'new' house plants every self-respecting interior obsessive must have!

I know the title is a tad dramatic, and yes, you've seen some of these loads already, BUT I do think that you will start seeing a few house plants popping up online, in the glossies, and yes, even in real life over the coming months, that you just might not have seen before. And I'm excited.

It's feeling decidedly Autumnal in the UK suddenly (Boo! I want more summer!), but let's not let that fact spoil our indoor plant fun. In fact, surely if we surround ourselves with plants that have a tropical feel, and pop the heating on, on the days when the sun graces us with a bit of shine, we can trick ourselves into believing it's still warm out there.  Maybe?

Yes? Let's give it a go then...

We already know that succulents are a 'thing', and that indoor plants have made a huge comeback over the last year or so, having been absent from the interiors hot list for quite some time, but what plants should you buy, once your little succulent collection is nearly complete? Or, god forbid, dead?
Image: Unknown via Pinterest
Ananas comosus chamaca / Ananas comosus variegatus - Dwarf Pineapple/Ivory Pineapple. I was stupidly excited (told you) when I saw these at Ikea the other week. I can't believe that I just didn't have the hands to buy a couple there and then. I'll definitely be making a trip back for some very soon. The Variegatus has a spiky/variegated leaf, the one pictured (Chamaca) doesn't.  They're both great. Instant sunshine in a pot, and a total no-brainer. Get one.

Image: Unknown via Pinterest
Zamioculcas zamifolia or Zamia furfuracea - That's a Zamia Plant to you and me, and also known as a Cardboard Plant, Jamaican Sago and ZZ Plant. It was complete and utter love at first sight for me when I recently saw one of these for the first time. Just beautiful.  I'll be tracking one of these sculptural beauties down pronto. Oops, just did - you can buy one here.

Image: Unknown via Pinterest

Cryptocereus anthonyanus (yes, really) - also known as a Ric Rac Cactus, Fishbone Cactus or Orchid Cactus. It's seemingly impossible to find a great image of one of these to show off it's beauty, so I'll post one once I've procured one, but trust me, these are stunning. I'm going to hang one in my kitchen, and pray it's warm enough for it as we venture into winter.

Image: Kindra Clineff (via

Kalanchoe thyrsiflora - This one is probably not new to you, but it's new to me. I've decided I need to stop being lazy and calling all succulents, 'succulents', and learn their names (even if I can't pronounce them). We need to know our Aloes and Agaves from our Echeverias and Crassulaceaes, which is the family that this lovely looking specimen falls in to. Commonly known as a Paddle Plant for obvious reasons, and it's totally on my list.

Fiddle Leaf Fig, and if you squint you can see a Zamia peeping out from behind it.
Image: Bianca Hall
And last, but most definitely not least, this one is probably not new to you - we all know and lust after the Fiddle Leaf Fig (or Ficus lyrata if you want to get technical). I actually gasped out loud at the beauty of the one above when I stumbled upon it, having never seen one in the flesh before. How does a plant or tree reach A-list celebrity status? By being incredibly beautiful and photogenic for a start. If ever there was an A-list plant, this is it. Why haven't I got one yet? Because they're not cheap, and I'm terrified of buying one and killing it. This won't stop me from ever getting one, it's Christmas soon after all. Kimberly over at Swoon Worthy discovered an online UK Fiddle Leaf Fig supplier and was kind enough to share back in March. She tells me that hers is doing really well, which fills me with hope for my future as the proud owner of one. Soon, very soon.

Confessions of an eBay addict

I'm an eBay addict. My addiction goes through phases of being 'worse' and 'better', and sometimes lies dormant for a several months, but I'm often in the throes of a buying frenzy, and can sometimes be found listing stuff to sell too. Though it's fun selling, nothing beats the thrill of the last second, adrenalin-rush-inducing, bid. Especially when you win.

Lately I've been on a bit of a bender, which is directly related to my being on a mission to whip our house back into shape, as it's been somewhat neglected over the last few years (which coincides with the arrival of our littlest).

I realised that things were looking rather average in pretty much every room. You know when you're so used to seeing things that you don't notice them anymore? And then when you do notice them you realise that not only do you not like them, but you actually hate them? Yes, that. That's been happening loads, so I'm having a big shakeup round here. You may know I'm currently revamping our kitchen, which is of course taking way longer than anticipated due to a barrage of illness going around in circles in our house. Bear with me though, it will be finished(ish) in about three weeks, then I can finally show you the fruits of my labour.

Most of the things I buy on eBay fall into the decorative, furniture and DIY categories. I often giggle when I see what my husband is looking at as we share the same account, so our watch list is combined, and it couldn't be more varied. Whilst he's looking at Japanese denim, vintage workwear, skateboard paraphernalia, and bicycle wheels, I'm looking at vintage ceramic lamps, brass side tables, tiles, spice racks and wicker chairs. We have an unspoken rule, that neither of us can comment on what the other is currently stalking. And it is a form of stalking.

My friend Kimberly over at Swoon Worthy wrote a great post about how to become an eBay ninja. I proudly put myself firmly in that category already, but if you're not and you want to be, I suggest you study this helpful guide.

People often say, 'you find the best stuff, you're so lucky', or 'I never find anything good on eBay'. I say YOU'RE NOT TRYING HARD ENOUGH. You have to really want to find the good stuff, it won't find you. It's not uncommon for me to look at hundreds and hundreds of listings when I'm looking for something in particular, often over a period of weeks or even months.

I think that for me, a huge part of my eBay obsession is that it serves as a substitute to going to antique shops and markets as I just don't have the time, and couldn't think of anything less relaxing than doing so with two children in tow even if I did have the time.

So, here are a few(!) things I've bought over the last two years, where they are in our house, AND the prices I've paid for everything!

A pair of ceramic Chinese Foo Dogs (or Temple Dogs) - £40.00. They live on a glass and chrome trolley also from eBay in the living room.

A solid brass vintage panther - £5.51. He's a recent addition, and currently hanging out on the new kitchen table (not from eBay!), but he'll most likely move into my studio.

A pair of antique brass Welsh guards coat hooks - £4.99. These will be tea towel hooks in the kitchen.

A pair of ceramic Staffordshire Spaniels - £26.59. They live on the dining room sideboard. I love their ridiculous faces!

A 1.4 metre piece of vintage chinoiserie linen - £11.40. I've just made a huge decorative bolster cushion from this for our bed.  I have some left over, so might make some smaller cushions too.

A grey sheepskin - £22.00. This is new, in fact it just arrived this morning, and it'll cosy up a sofa in our living room. It replaces an old cream one that was a victim of the recent spate of illness in our house.  I won't subject you to the details - it wasn't pretty, but what a brilliant excuse to buy the grey one I'd been wanting.

Oh my god, I'm like the very hungry caterpillar!!

Not pictured, but in the spirit of this confessional post, here goes...

A seventies or eighties lucite side table on castors - £49.99. Love this, a total bargain.  It's in our living room.

A seventies chrome and glass trolley - £51.00. Again, in our living room.

A mini wicker chair - £26.00. May have paid a little too much for this, but it's adorable.  It hangs out in Baxters room, with a teeny green zebra print cushion I made for it.

A pair of lampshades custom made with Sanderson fabric to die for £70. These are so beautiful. I found this woman who just happened to have the perfect amount of Sandersons Rainforest fabric in green to make me two shades. These are on some eBay lamp bases (surprise surprise) on the dining room sideboard.

A wicker side table - £20.00. I spray painted this black, and it's currently my bedside table, but we're switching rooms (again) soon, then it will become a plant stand in the studio or kitchen. I need to get a piece of glass cut (maybe smoked or mirror) for the top as it's a bit wonky.

A huge vintage ceramic Wedgwood lamp base - £20.00. I adore this lamp and it was a complete bargain. It's a golden mustardy colour, and I bought a huge silk turquoise lampshade to go on it. That wasn't a bargain by any stretch. With the shade it stands just shy of 70 centimetres tall (about 27 inches), so it's a real statement piece, and looks great on the lucite side table in our living room.

A vintage ceramic chinoiserie lamp base -  £12.00. This lives in our bedroom.  It's a yellow/mustard colour and currently has a purple shade, which actually works really well, though it was just one I had hanging around.  I may change the shade when we move rooms.

Several other lamps - some more successful than others, so we won't talk about that!!

Most recently, this week in fact, I won a pair of antique bedside cabinets which are ready for a glossy coat (or five) of paint which you'll see in due course, for £51.00 (plus £39 for a courier delivery). That's quite a big spend for me on eBay, but I've been searching on and off for years for something like these.

Oh, and a wicker rocking chair, FOR NINETY-NINE PENCE! Okay, so I haven't laid eyes on it in the flesh yet, as my father-in-law has kindly collected it for me, but it was photographed dreadfully with hideous filthy cushions on it, and I think it might just be a total bargain.

So, am I done on my eBay spree?  Ah, not likely.  I'm currently stalking a piece of furniture for my about to be re-vamped studio, and I'm always on the lookout for a nice but relatively cheap wicker Peacock chair for my daughters bedroom. And a million other things I don't even know about yet.