Trends for 2017

It’s that time of year when I receive a LOT of information about the key trends, looks and designs of the year.  No fewer than nine catalogues and show guides arrived on my doorstep this week and having pored over them all week, I am pretty excited about 2017, stylistically speaking.

I have to confess, my house is a tranquil, chalky sea of wevet.  I love it.  My kitchen is wevet, my hallway and stairs are wevet.  My sitting room and master bedroom…..well, they’re cornforth white, actually, but, like most of you, my preferred palettes range from white to grey and back again.  It’s soothing, it’s chic, it’s anything but boring as far as I’m  concerned and it provides a great backdrop for photographing our stock.

However……..I know I am far from alone in having revelled in all the gorgeously gothic-ish, bohemian velvet and lace that has been on the high street this winter.  One of my favourite buys last year was a velvet dress I bought at Monsoon which had its first outing on Christmas Day and is set to become a favourite, I can tell.  My mum had one of her beautiful antique wooden sofas recovered last year in a peacock velvet and even my minimalist other half found himself drawn towards a velvet sofa cushion in 2016 – his first ever cushion purchase, I kid you not.

So, I’m happy to say that decadent fabrics look like they’re here to stay, for a while at least and the really great thing, as far as I am concerned, are the sumptuous colours that designers seem to have rediscovered.  There are still all the greys and whites, yes, but now with flashes of deep plum and rich purple, I’ve lusted over kitchenware with cherry pink branding, tropical ferns and seen lots of bare wood everywhere, with golds and coppers and quartz, oh my!

Interiors themselves seem to be following suit – walls are being painted rich reds, deepest blue  -and even shades of black- with gay abandon and whilst it may not be for everyone, I see it as a natural evolution of ‘the feature wall’.  Suddenly all those deep brown rooms of the 1970s don’t seem so absurd, and in reality, it’s not so long since we were all rag-rugging terracotta all over the place like mad.  Incidentally, I am about to rid our house of the very last of the feature wallpapers – I am so very bored of those modern giants florals and even the cost of the wallpaper (it was eyewateringly expensive, I daren’t even say how much) doesn’t stop me from practically wrenching it from the dining room wall.

Basically, 2017 is looking like a luxury interiors magazine and I am a bit thrilled.  Of course, just because something has the look of luxury, doesn’t mean it necessarily has to have the matching price tag, so while there are some serious budget-breakers out there, you can definitely bring a little warmth and a sense of the lux style to your home without pawning your pearls.

So pop on some Kate Bush, crack open the Malbec and start dreaming in velvet……

 

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Walls in Farrow & Ball Railings, No. 31, plus, what a lamp

 

 

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Sanderson velvets in jewel-like colours

 

 

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Beautiful pots, with just a restrained hint of metallic, handmade to order by http://www.ireneandedith.com

 

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Navy velvet sofa at Anthropologie

 

 

 

 

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Pink & Gold Agate Coasters, Lustre

 

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Nkuku brass bowls – love the handbeaten finish

 

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Concrete & brass lamp by Graham & Green

 

 

 

Change is in the air…

Given the weather in the UK this week (freezing temperatures, blizzards, gorgeous early morning frosts), it seemed appropriate to post a few of my favourite pictures from our Christmas.  Why can’t we have this weather on Christmas day when all I have to do is drink prosecco and constantly nibble on bits of cheese??

We had a lovely couple of weeks off and are looking forward to lots of exciting changes in 2017, starting with the relaunch of our website at the end of January, followed by a couple of buying trips in France in early Spring, as well, of course, as Spring itself.

In the meantime, a little look back at Christmas 2016, which was full of flowers, foliage, friends and festivities (and a new feline!).

Happy New Year!

It’s flower drying season!

Everyone who knows me knows I love the changing of the seasons.  When it’s dark and cold in the new year, I am desperate for the first flowers of the season and the changing of the clocks, when my poor old pasty English skin has had enough of summer, I long for crisp autumn mornings.

One of my favourite things to do at this time of year is to dry flowers ready to create displays; my personal favourites being hydrangeas, seed heads, honesty and Chinese lanterns.

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I have a couple of the latter in our garden, but I have to be honest and say that they did not do particularly well this year, having been in a neglected part of the garden, so my mum saved me some from their garden (from a plant I gave them, I might add!) and they are just gorgeous.

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I will be using them, alongside my usual stash of hydrangeas, at shows this year and to make dried Christmas wreaths.  Assuming you keep them indoors or in a porch that doesn’t get much exposure to the elements and that they are stored properly in a box with tissue paper and bubblewrap, you can re-use dried wreaths again the following year.

I find the colours much more in keeping with the time of year than the many brash primary colours you see in shops and I will post some pictures once that time of year comes around so you can how easy it is to make them yourself.

Unlike the lanterns and honesty, you really do need to take hydrangea flowers from the plant to dry.  Timing is everything and my best advice is to keep running your fingers along the petals every day until you can feel them take on a papery quality – you’ll know the day they’re ready, I promise!  Try to leave a decent stem – a minimum of 4 or 5 inches ideally, taking off the leaves once you’ve cut them, so that you’ve got plenty still left to cut when you’ve decided what you’d like to do with them once they’re dried.

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Others have advocated drying them upside down to retain colour, but I generally place one or two stems in a bottle or rose bowl up on a shady shelf somewhere with an inch or so of water and leave them alone until they’re completely dry.  The woody stems remain really quite hard, so they can be easily poked into oasis or chicken wire or even willow wreaths without causing too much damage to the petals.  The colours can be really spectacular and vary wildly even when taken from the same plant.

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This year, I also decided to save some lovely pink delphinium which were part of a bouquet I received from a friend in July  and I’m very happy to say they dry beautifully! They are incredibly delicate – one puff of wind or over-handling and the petals would be on the floor!  As the bouquet started to fade, I took these out and put them in one of my lemonade bottles (LOVE these), without water, without cutting the stems.

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As you can see – delphiniums really keep their colour, which was a nice surprise and something I will remember for next year, assuming the dreaded slugs don’t decimate my plants as they did this year (check out the hostas in the background of the picture above – I HATE snails!!).

If you don’t have lots of space to dedicate to flower drying, but like the look, I can highly recommend Nkuku’s kiko frames, which are ideal for displaying petals and smaller flowers whilst drying. Because they’re glass, you can just wipe clean any ‘bleed’ that comes from the flowers and it would be a nice way to keep wedding flowers or confetti alongside other special bits from the day that aren’t really suitable for traditional frames.

You can find lots of different ideas and methods of drying on our ‘Floral’ board over on pinterest, but not all these ideas will work for you –  I, for instance, have tried many many times to dry flowers upside down, but I honestly find I get the best results when I just leave them alone.  If you can give me any tips for retaining the colour in roses, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Feel free to leave your own hints and tips below for other people to try.

Thanks for reading,
Katie xx

 

My love affair with pinterest

I’ve been on Pinterest for some time now – I signed up back when you had to apply to be a member……so, forever!  I’ve used it for Wedding Planning, Christmas Planning, Dinner Party Planning, Lists of Crafts I Will Never Make, Pictures of Chateaus I will Never Live In……. you name it, I’ve pinned it.

Unlike other sites, Pinterest is that rare beast, an almost entirely positive place to be.  Nobody questions your taste, nobody criticises – or if they do….you never know about it!  You are your own interior designer, event planner and head chef. You have no budget.

It’s coming in particularly handy at the moment, as we are currently working on the teeny tiny galley kitchen at my house and my lovely lovely boyfriend is spending his evenings fiddling about responding to my whims and generally being an incredible kitchen fitter, despite his day job being in IT! I am a dreadful assistant, more focused on paint colour and ‘the fun bits’ than making decisions on electrical requirements and whether or not I am happy with the length of various bits of wood, but, I AM trying and I can already see that the end result is going to be well worth the wait.  I am, as he likes to tell me, a lucky gal………!

I have already warned him that I am going to post pictures of it when it’s finished and I think he is secretly pleased, but in the meantime, I thought I would post some of the awesome kitchens that have inspired us along the way……

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Classic subway tiles paired with oak worktops and cup handles – what’s not to love?

 

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Open shelving against white walls – we were determined to let in lots of light, which means, for us, not putting up wall cabinets
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Moving our fridge means we’ll have room for …..a pantry!  Heaven!  Although I doubt it will be as neat and tidy as this one.

 

I look forward to posting pictures of my own kitchen in the not too distant future – we have a little jaunt to NYC planned in the next couple of weeks (he’s right, I AM a lucky gal), so it won’t be until next month that we finally finish.  In the meantime, feel free to share your own kitchen successes below…….it will help to keep us motivated to finish our own project!

PS: Remember that episode of Ab Fab when Saffron is determined to make Edie chose a kitchen and Edie & Patsy end up going to New York on Concorde in search of door handles……..?  We can relate!

Rainy day jobs and why I love them….

Normally, the summer months are understandably spent out and about sourcing new pieces, visiting fairs, dealers and brocantes and generally enjoying the freedom I’m lucky to enjoy in this job.  But – hey, we live in the UK, and it’s always possible that an entire weekend – or even a week – will be lost to rain.

This weekend was just such a weekend, so I had to find something else to do, because while I am at my happiest digging for treasure, constant downpours see me running inside!  There’s always mending and restoring to do, chandeliers to rebuild, textiles to clean and press, stock to sort and – my favourite….. cutlery to polish.

I have to admit, cutlery is one of my addictions.  I am a great believer in *useful* antiques.  We all love the curios; the strange and beautiful things we see along the way, but certainly from my perspective, the majority of what I buy (and therefore my lovely customers buy), are pieces they can use every day, if they so wished.

There’s something beautiful about vintage and antique cutlery that you simply do not get with modern pieces.  Whether it’s the engraved blade of a fish knife, the elegant handle on a mother of pearl service or a set of dainty teaspoons, my heart always beats a little faster when I see some tarnished beauties languishing at the bottom of a box, just waiting for a new home.

This sweet little set of teaspoons which I recently picked up was absolutely desperate for a clean, as you can see. There are a number of cleaning products suited to the job on the market, but I always, always use good old silvo.  You can buy the wadding, but I find it much easier and cost efficient to buy the liquid.

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It’s useful to have a few cloths to hand for cleaning – I tend to clean lots of pieces all in one go, so I lay them out on an old towel, rub in some silvo, a small amount at a time, then leave it to ‘soak’ for a couple of minutes before using a clean, lint-free cloth to rub it off and buff up the piece.  Old tea towels are great for this and I always have a little stash for polishing.  Handy hint – children’s toothbrushs are fantastic for getting into the details on silver plated and silver items!

I’m sure you will agree – it’s quite the difference!

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The same can be seen on this lovely rose bowl, picked up the same weekend, which will also be hitting our etsy shop shortly.  The difference between the polished right and the unpolished left is pretty obvious.

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So, don’t be put off by the sad, tarnished pieces you see next time you’re out hunting. Most pieces you discover will clean up brilliantly, and if there are a few scuffs and signs of wear even after your attempts…… well, the Hello Vintage motto is always to consider great finds to be ‘perfectly imperfect’ – a little patina simply adds to the beauty of the piece.

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Hope you had a great weekend hunting for your own treasure! xx

PS:  If you prefer to use new cutlery, or just like to have a matching set, we have the John Lewis Vintage Ivory cutlery at home which we use when we’re ‘being fancy’ and I have to say I absolutely adore them.

 

Spring.

So, this isn’t an other abandoned blog………

Four years can pass by pretty quickly, and that’s what has happened here.  Other things – other jobs, came along and took over, but, here I am, four years on, taking things in a different direction.

Spring feels like a good time for that, don’t you think?

Hello Vintage started as a way for me to work for myself, in the events world, having done similar work for other people before.  I always loved vintage, especially china, so working on weddings and the celebrations of others was a genuine pleasure.

But, of course, things move on, ideas change and develop and for me, that side of things has drifted away.

After four years of part-owning and running a bricks and mortar vintage shop, a need for more time and space with family and friends and an opportunity to do something different came along, which I took.  The love of vintage and antiques, of finding a treasure with history, or a scrap of fabric that will be just perfect for a particular project, or sourcing a piece for a customer that they’ve been searching for high and low, that’s all still there.

So, I’ll be starting to sell on Etsy and at fairs again, which is something that I’m hugely excited about.  The website is still the same (www.hellovintage.co.uk) and I’ll be listing the fairs I’ll be selling at on there, updating as I go.

For now, I’m simply going to enjoy my leisurely morning coffee, rearranging my office and sorting through my collections with the radio on in the background.  Bliss!

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Autumn Days

When I was at school The Harvest Festival was my very favourite school festival.  I was rather partial to singing songs about nature’s bounty, carving pumpkins and being ever so slightly smug about the fact I was giving away chutney that I had MADE to the senior citizens down the road.  Of course it also meant that my birthday was just around the corner, which, when you’re seven, is something that needs endless discussion.

I’m less keen to shout about my birthdays these days, but my enthusiasm for this time of the year; its colours, its crisp blue mornings and of course the harvest remains.

As I started to write this, the sun was shining brightly through the window and we’d just started to enjoy our mini heat wave! This week has been quite different of course, but despite us not having a great summer, the lovely weather in April and May has meant a bumper harvest this year.

Despite my lack of garden, I’m lucky enough to have parents who have a ginormous garden and am bombarded with bags and bags of apples, blackberries, courgettes, tomatoes, onions and all sorts of lovely things.  This year, for the first time ever, my father thinks he will have picked all the apples by the end of the month – has anyone else had the same experience?

It’s always a challenge to work out what exactly I’m going to do with all the apples – there is only so much puree and custard we can eat – but this year I’m happy say I’ve got through quite a lot already!

There’s a country park really near our house which I visited a couple of weeks ago with some friends to go sloe picking – if you’ve never made sloe gin, I’d urge you to give it go, it’s so simple and makes a great Christmas gift.  Sloes are plentiful this year, and you’ve still just about got enough time – but get your sloes quickly!  The plants look like hawthorn bushes and the berries a bit like blueberries.  They are incredibly sour and are full of tannin, so please, for the sake of your taste buds, don’t bother eating them!

I never bother buying expensive gin for this, just a supermarket own brand is perfectly fine.  I have bottles from Lakeland, which are the ones I used here but there are some lovely ones in Ikea this year too (the taller ones with the snowflake pattern below)– I bought a few and will be making limoncello for Christmas shortly.

Once you’ve picked your sloes and washed them, you need to prick them to let the juice run out, which give the flavour and lovely pink colour to the gin.  I use cocktail sticks, but you could just use a fork or even the tip of a sharp knife (mind your fingers!)

Then I pop a few berries into a bottle, like so:

Cover with sugar, about this much:

…and then fill up the bottle with gin.  I then give it a good shake once a day for a week, then pop in the cupboard and shake once a week until Christmas, when I open the bottles, sieve it through a muslin cloth to get the berries out and re-bottle ready to drink.  Yum!  After just a few weeks, the gin is already looking good, as you can see:

I had about 500 grams of sloes left, so I used them to make this sloe gin and apple jelly recipe, which I think will be delicious with turkey and make a nice change to cranberry jelly, and from the same site I’ve found a great new recipe for using up some of those apples – a beautiful looking apple and chilli jelly, which was so easy to make and again will be lovely served with meat.

I used a mix of cookers and eaters rather than crab apples, but I think you’ll agree it looks really pretty with all the little jewel-like chopped chilli suspended in the amber-coloured jelly

Give it a go – there are so many British apples in shops at the moment and a homemade gift is always appreciated.

Oh and I’m not the only one who’s inspired by autumn, I just had to include a couple of pictures I took of Betty’s autumnal window display, so sweet!

Happy autumn folks, I’d love you to share your seasonal recipes with us here…….

Katie xx