Feather One’s Nest

Birds and Butterflies wallpaper by Schumacher www.mahoneswallpapershop.com

This week I read about the team of designers helping the Duchess of Cambridge get her new pad, Anmer Hall, ready for the soon to be family of four. Now that’s a good gig.

Ooh the fun Kate and I could have had, browsing little interior boutiques and antique dealers in those idyllic Norfolk villages. No doubt stopping for scones and jam (and maybe mum-to-be mocktails) Sigh. 

But when it comes to royal nesting, the lovely Duchess was, of course, hands on as ever. Evidently she sought professional advice purely to ensure the decor in the 10 bedroom country estate was sympathetic with the grand Georgian architecture. HRH is quite capable of choosing the 'fluffy stuff’ herself, thank you very much.

With the sofas in situ, The Cambridge’s can now patiently await the arrival of the royal stork. But what of the rest of us anxious baby watchers? Well how about we pass the time feathering our own nests, yah? (Panic not, you don’t even need a baby for this joyous event)  

 Forget all that nonsense about bad luck, birds bring instant romanticism into a home and the kind of chirpiness you can’t fail to feel good about. 

It’s not until now that I have realised just how many references I have made to feathered friends at House Candy HQ.  Here’s just a few:

There’s artwork

Wall sconces...

Bird cages...

Oh, and it seems that birds in the bathroom is becoming something of a signature House Candy thing...

Swan Lake wallpaper by Nina Cambell £64 per roll www.amara.com

Flamingos wallpaper by Cole and Son £72 per roll www.amara.com

Flights of Fancy

If wallpaper is just a bit permanent for you, there is a great choice of accessories that aviary home can handle (sorry… was that the sound of water’s breaking?)

Tree cushion £125 www.heals.co.uk

Heron Lamp £212.50 www.oceanlighting.co.uk

Tapestry wall hanging £965 www.therugcompany.com

Daring and colourful, birds bring a bit of the unexpected to an interior. Be it the common garden bird or a camp pink Flamingo. Stepping outside the box and trying something new is where the magic happens. 

So good luck with your nesting Ma’am, I’m sure Anmer Hall will be every bit the stylish and sophisticated pad that befits our favourite foursome. A home where formal rooms designed to host the most glamorous of functions will merge with laid back family spaces. Rooms where a young brood with huge responsibilities can escape the glaring eyes of the world … and no doubt wing 
parenthood like the rest of us. 

Best wishes family Cambridge.

Brought any birds into your abode? Please tell me about it below!

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The Candy Files: Mouse Candy

This week's interior ups and downs …
House Candy = Mouse’s Back

I’m obsessed with my new book, Colour, by Abigail Ahern which is pushing my interior boundaries out of the park. Designer OTM, Ahern is famously not a fan of the all white skandi look, encouraging us to turn to the dark side for instant jaw-drop effect. I’m taking things one step at a time, starting with a move towards drab woodwork in place of my usual bright white gloss. Add punches of bright colour and tons of texture and you’re on your way to nailing modern edgy interiors. 

The cabinetry above is painted in Farrow and Ball’s Mouse’s Back which, as its name suggests, refers to the grey-brown of our little rodent friends and borders on the spectrum of a much misunderstood shade. Brown is a colour  I am certainly guilty of overlooking and yet according to Abigail (ATA as I will forevermore abbreviate) brown makes rooms feel instantly comfortable, grounded and safe. 

Be clear that beige is most definitely not the right way to go here. Mouse’s Back is a safe option, but be braver than me and delve deeper into the shade for ATA "a hue that helps you slow down, chill out and relax.” 


Fine and Candy = Mouseman

Inspired by the cute little critters that resided at his North Yorkshire workshop, Robert “Mouseman” Thompson incorporated them into his now iconic 1930s furniture designs. I am excited to soon be checking out the Visitor Centre to appreciate the traditional craftsmanship that is still producing fine, English Oak furniture today. Click here for details: www.robertthompsons.co.uk/visitor-centre/

As a child I used to do colouring on my neighbours table above which I always thought was cool, since it had a mouse crawling up the side. If only I’d known how cool - an original table like this is now worth over £2,000! Scour your grannies attic people - she might just be harbouring a future heirloom. Even a chopping board can claim in excess of £200 at auction. In fact a whole Mouseman collection caused a recent sale room sensation when some items reached double the predicted guide price. Read all about it here: www.mctears.co.uk 


Candy Pandy = Actual House Mouse

Interior design muse or not, please leave before I am forced to call in backup.

 What’s twitching your whiskers this week? Please leave a comment below, 
I would love to hear from you!


Mid Week Candy Craving

Grown-up Space

As you’ve probably noticed, I’m a big kid at heart and my interior choices often reflect that. But as we are celebrating a BIG milestone birthday at House Candy HQ this week, I thought I really ought to try and be a grown up. In fact I’ve dedicated a whole room to the idea - a place where we can go, away from the TV, the X-box… the kids ... and any day soon we might even have an adult conversation. 

I didn’t want a separate dining room. I wanted one of those modern, family friendly, open-plan living/ dining/ cooking situations that everyone seems to have. But the fact of the matter is, I couldn’t. The reasons are both practical and sentimental. 

Firstly there’s a fireplace wall in the way that goes all the way up into the attic so I’d really, REALLY need to dislike the current set up to get rid of that. And actually I don’t. 

A separate dining room has distinct advantages. I’m a horrible cook. I mean, I can feed people OK, but I make an awful mess while I’m at it and it stresses me out beyond belief.  With a separate dining room I can swear and spill and knock back a nervous vodka  - and yet still emerge sweetly to my guests, bearing plates of adequate, if not michelin starred food.

But there’s also the silly reason that gets in the way of any major refurb ideas that I have for my place. You see, this old house has been this way for 140 years. Pulling a chimney bearing wall down feels a bit like wrenching a wisdom tooth out of my friend's mouth. This house has been good to me and I really don’t want to hurt the poor fellow.

So we’re holding on to the old fashioned separate dining room that, truthfully, only gets used for special occasions or special efforts. But isn’t there something very nice and grown up about that?

It does mean, however, that there has been limited budget to use on this “occasional” space and I’ve been forced to be a bit more creative with my finds.

This lovely armoire was being used to house antique nick-nacks at a local second hand shop. It was an un-loved mahogany old thing and my mum convinced me it was ripe for a makeover. A couple of coats of simple black paint has given it a modern update and it is now home to my Midwinter Zambesi pottery collection, champagne glasses and vintage glassware.

Given the budget, I would have had this fireplace ripped out years ago. Thank goodness I could never afford to! It’s not original and before I took my paintbrush to it, the fire surround was also dark stained wood and the tiles had a Remy Mackintosh style motif on them. We brushed over all of that and stuck to a simple monochrome colour palette. It would have cost me thousands in a fireplace shop and instead it cost me the price of two cans of paint. 

Above it, the big, old, vintage mirror came from the first proper house we bought together (also Victorian). The brass camel was a souvenir from one of my late, grandparents’ adventures in far flung lands and I always like an orchid for adding a bit of the exotic to our little corner of Yorkshire.

As it’s a fairly small room, I wanted to let the period features do the talking in here and love its bright white emulsion walls at all times of day. I wanted a statement piece of art to finish it off and fell in love with the above print on holiday. Appropriately for my masculine brood, it’s called "The Lads" and it’s their only reference in an otherwise feminine scheme.

This little lady provides the glamour. I picked her up at the local second hand market for a measly three pounds! It’s a vintage poster and was all tatty at the edges, but a nice black frame was all it needed to bring her back to life. I love her and it reminds me of the kind of parties that were going on when this house was also in its teens.

My only major dining room splurges have been an oversized chandelier from Heals (try www.lauraashley.com for similar) and these Philippe Starck for Kartell Louis Ghost chairs (try www.johnlewis.com)
 The chairs were just about the only new items we bought for our first home. Everything else was begged, borrowed or up-cycled, but since we couldn’t afford a new table (and I have never been a fan of matching sets) I knew that these chairs would make any old table worthy of a dinner party. 

I wasn’t wrong. For 12 years they have been sat around a variety of hand-me-downs, until this Christmas we finally found one we wanted to buy. This is the Magis Tavolo rectangular dining table from functionally at my fave interiors hothouse, West Yorkshire’s fabulous Redbrick. At £575 I think it looks way more designer than its price tag, don’t you?

Regular readers will know I recently had a craving for a drinks trolley and I am pleased to report it has  been satisfied with this £20 steal from www.gumtree.com.  The brass pineapples were £10 for the pair from a second hand market ... but that was about 6 years ago, before they were remotely fashionable. With copycat versions all over the high-street, I imagine they would demand a heftier price tag now.

The latest addition to my grown-up dining room is this unique piece of modern art. Well OK, it’s a dressmaker’s dummy with a few sentimental bits and pieces pinned to it. But look, the brass pineapples were a joke a few years ago and just look how cool they are! I’m predicting mannequins as a major interiors trend people… commissions now being taken ;-)

And there it is. My special entertaining space, reserved for special times and special people. Grown-ups and 40 somethings most definitely allowed.

Let me know what you think below. I would LOVE to hear from you! 

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Royal Roomies

Not long now until Kensington Palace hears the pitter patter of tiny feet. And quite possibly the stamping of feet from a right royal toddler tantrum.

As Prince William recently pointed out, baby number 2 is a "game changer". Second time around it’s less about making sure baby's room has all the right props and more about tip-toeing around some delicate sibling territorial issues.

  So as the world settles down for Royal Baby Watch Episode 2 "The Game Changer", here’s some cool room changes to help suspicious older siblings feel like they are still king of their castle.  

1) Establish a height advantage

Climbing the steps to board the beautiful weathered oak Clamberdoodle from www.loaf.com is sure to make for one happy little sailor. There’s also a nifty blackboard on the end where new babies can pass on messages of sibling adoration via desperate parents.

2) Protect from predators

Defend, defend, defend. Think like an elder child and room decorating becomes a whole lot easier. This cool chair from www.made.com/kids is clearly NOT for babies. Trust me, learning the art of sharing can wait.

3) Get a four legged friend

Now is not the time to buy a pet, but this Scottie Dog night lamp from www.thewhitecompany.com brings a warm glow to the idea of growing families. Only for top dogs.

4) Arrest the Sleep Thief

In my experience, keeping the elder sibling in their room at night is more challenging than any birth situation. A nice duvet helps. Especially if, like me, you’re the one than ends up sleeping in it. www.cathkidston.com

5. Create Sibling HQ 

When they’re sent to their room for putting the baby in the ironing basket they’re going to need somewhere to file a complaint. This desk, equipped with a pile of paper and crayons, just might save your wallpaper. It’s also cool enough to see them through school days.

Got any great children’s room ideas to share? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.


The Candy Files

The ups and downs from my place.

House Candy = Sunshine

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 I’ve relocated to the seaside for the rest of the Easter holidays and am making the most of this unseasonably warm weather. No fighting over sun beds for me. I’ll bring along my own fine English deckchair, which handily has a changeable sling for co-ordinating swimwear  www.johnlewis.com


Fine and Candy = Shoe Case

When the sun comes out, so must the toes. Whilst mostly a positive, this does call for new additions to the pretty vintage display cabinet currently being utilised as a shoe cupboard.
The trouble is, I’m starting to wonder if I’m buying shoes that I actually need, or shoes that will look good behind glass. I really must get a grip…
(And a pair of peep-toe fringe tasselled ankle boots while I’m at it)


Candy Pandy = Smeary Windows

I have identified one negative of the sunshine and it is this: exposed filth upon window panes. Lucky I stocked up on this bottle of wonder then. Make haste while the sun shines and get yours here: www.plainuseful.com


Midweek Candy Craving: Rodeo Drive


Ye-ha. After months of anticipation fuelled by top fashion magazines, several FROW appearances and sightings from Alexa Chung AND Olivia Palermo, the long awaited M&S cowgirl-esque IT Skirt finally lands in store this week.

At £199 it’s not cheap - and yet it’s so likely to sell out that Marks and Sparks have set up an on-line register for desperados such as myself, alerting them to availability. (Click here if that’s also you www.marksandspencer.com)

Whether or not I am able to beat an army of rooting, tooting fashionistas to the cash desk is playing heavy on my mind. So to pass the time I’ve decided to channel all my energy into rounding up my favourite wild west interior cravings instead.

Let’s start with the floor situation, which needs only one covering as far as I’m concerned.    

Forget your English Fresians, this brown and white Grade A South American cowhide wins Best In Show for me. £210 from www.cowhiderugslondon.co.uk this generous beast is extremely hardwearing, should you need to roll around on it.

If this is just too much cattle for your carpet, there’s always the patchwork option, which may be much easier to live with:

Ikea’s Kornum rug (£200) comes in a variety of colour options and allows for a more formal layout thanks to its nice, regular sizing: 170 x 240 cm www.ikea.com

Now, supposing Brad Pitt circa Thelma and Louise era came a-knocking, THIS is where we’d line up the Whiskey shots.

Not too fancy, not too oiled. The Salvage 7ft Gunbarrel dining table from www.barkerandstonehouse.co.uk can seat a herd of hungry cowboys and girls.

But benches are no good for resting a saddle sore derriere, so I might upgrade to sit astride one of these luscious leather dining chairs from www.heals.co.uk:

The Buffalo side chair in shiny, conker coloured vintage leather has a hefty £295 price tag, but would be well worth brushing up my poker playing skills for.

So it’s been a long day on the ranch and Calamity Jane is ready to turn out the light. Personally, I’d like it to be a saloon-worthy silk and beaded beauty such as this seductive wall light, the likes of which I’m going to have to trawl antique fairs for:

Meanwhile, I will happily make do with this Evangeline pendant light £395 from www.bhs.co.uk, which fulfils my dangly tassels requirement perfectly.

Safely tucked up in obligatory Gingham bedlinen, (£12 from h&m)… 

… The last thing I must do before beddie-byes is take off my Stetson. And where better to hang it than here:

Red Deer antlers £450 www.notonthehighstreet.com

So it’s pistols at dawn on Friday for the M&S IT Skirt. But then again, I might just find me a cowboy and ride off into the sunset instead. 

Giddy-Up I say.


Show Me The Bunnies

Mini-breaks, egg hunts, Spring flowers, liccle fluffy lambs... There’s a whole lot of happy to be had out of Easter. 

But honey, I am all about the bunny.

I want them in glass jars

I want them on cushions

I want them in silver 

I want them in stone

And most of all, I want them touchy-feely on my side table.

£85 Abigail Ahern for www.debenhams.com

I’m also mad as a hatter for these cute salt and pepper shakers. 

(Pity I’m only eating chocolate for the foreseeable future. Perhaps I’ll give salted caramel a go?)

Thank you for following the blog so far and for all you fabulous people who have given me your support and encouragement. I am taking a break for a few days, but will be back soon; fuelled with more interiors inspiration and house candy cravings… You know what it’s like:

Picture courtesy of www.lisacongdon.com

In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your housey highs and lows. Got a piece of furniture or a wallpaper in mind and don’t know where to find it?… Hit me, I’m all ears ;-) 

Hoppy Easter!

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