Typography Christmas cards

December 14, 2009

Rachel Bright‘s cards and prints have long been a fave of mine…so I love these festive cards in fabulous fonts! – Ellie

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Now, I was a tad disappointed by Kirstie’s Homemade Home back in the summer, but let’s put all that behind us and give the re-invented Ms Allsopp another chance. Let’s also ignore the fact that Channel 4 decided to broadcast her trio of festive programmes a little bit late in the day (as The Guardian put it: “who’s got time to blow their own glass baubles in the next fortnight?” indeed…), and focus on the content instead.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised – kind of. I did think the bauble-blowing episode in programme one was a bit pointless and very expensive at £20 a bauble, considering this was supposed to be a homemade Christmas that DIDN’T involve spending loads of money. Also, I’m not sure how relevant her trip to Liberty was to be honest…similar to the visit she paid to her parents’ palatial but ghastly home in the first series, this was obviously intended to show Kirstie ‘finding inspiration’ but I couldn’t really put my finger on WHAT she gained specifically…apart from deciding the glaringly obvious: that she wanted her home to look Christmassy and lovely. These niggles aside, there were some good ideas in the first programme; salt dough decorations ARE cheap and fun to make with the kids; making Christmas cards with a lino-cut is cheap-ish and easy to do; and I thought the tips from VV Rouleaux‘s Annabel Lewis were simple and effective – particularly the pretty ribbon rose idea.

What bothered me (apart from the incessant introductions and conclusions, which take up half the programme…) was the wreath-making. It’s all very well for Kirstie to skip around her woodland ‘garden’ in the depths of Devon gathering free holly and festive greenery, but for the millions of us who live in cities, or country dwellers who don’t have big gardens or their own wood, this is NOT practical. I can’t see myself gathering baskets of fresh holly on Clapham Common without getting a stern ticking off from the Lambeth park warden. And, there were quite a few mentions of the name ‘Meadowgate’, which, incidentally, she rents out for £2000 a week as a holiday house. Hmmm. Here are some behind the scenes shots from food stylist Sharon Hearne-Smith’s blog:

I thought the second episode about homemade gifts was the best show yet – chutney, soaps (although they took 6 weeks to dry out so way too late for this year but HEY HO let’s not nit-pick), sewing stockings and teddy bears – all these are practical ideas. The third episode, focussing on Christmas cooking and entertaining, was OK, too. Yes, there was an interesting but pointless visit to Parable, where owner Nigel Parker makes amazing candles using moulds taken from wallpaper printing rollers – not easy to replicate at home – but at least we were shown how to make tealight candles in a silicone cupcake tray, instead. The cracker making instructions were good, and the cookery ideas were simple but achievable. All in all, I think Channel 4 has improved the show – Kirsty didn’t drive a 4×4 gas guzzling Land Rover while lecturing us about eco-chic recycling this time, and most of the ideas were thoroughly do-able, providing you have the time. But, one question remains: who was doing her make-up? Why was she plastered in it in some scenes and totally bare-faced in others? The vampy red lipstick and luxurious Russian fur hat combo was possibly a step too far for a ‘frugal’ series, but I’ll try not to let this bug me too much. After all, it IS Christmas. – Ellie

Fabulous Christmas tree

December 14, 2009

Kelly Morrison, one of our readers from Aberdeen, sent us this picture of her mum’s gorgeous Christmas ‘tree’, inspired by our December issue. Isn’t it lovely? And so much more practical pine-needle-wise.

We always love to hear from readers who have been inspired by Ideal Home. I wish my own tree looked as elegant as this one! – Ellie

FOLK hits the high street

December 9, 2009

It’s been on the radar for a while now. Owls, squirrels, acorns, leaves… the folklore woodland trend has trickled slowly down, leaving a trail of toadstools in it’s wake, and now it’s ready to invade the nation. 2010 is set to be the year of all things Sylvan – check out this lovely bedroom image from the hot-off-the-press John Lewis spring/summer collection…

It could be a room from Snow White’s cottage! I love the 1970s-style birdy bed linen (the pattern, incidentally, looks exactly like a retro tea tray my parents own, and still use…!) – it looks fabulous with the raw timber bedside table – folky but fresh. On our rounds, we’ve spotted a massive, quirky acorn ornament and owl accessories galore at John Lewis, cute china woodland creatures including owls, rabbits and birds at Habitat, and even Tesco is getting in on the act with it’s uber-cool woodland cuckoo clock. It looks as though we’ll be seeing a lot more folk, folks. – Ellie

Twinkly Christmas lights

December 8, 2009

Just spotted this lovely tree of light from Cox and Cox – so pretty. The perfect place to sing carols…

I’m starting to panic about Christmas…I haven’t bought many presents yet…our tree sits in the garden looking sad in a bucket…I’ve run out of pritt stick half way through making my Christmas cards, and keep forgetting to buy some more, so they lie abandoned in a well-meaning-but-ultimately-unfinished-and-unposted pile…and as for my ambitious plans to sew stockings and make a wreath – well, the less said about all that the better!! – Ellie

Car boot bounty

December 8, 2009

Just thought I’d show you the lovely bits of vintage treasure (AKA: tat) I picked up at the car boot sale I went to on Saturday…

As you can see, all strictly essentials to my everyday existence. How did I live before I owned a box of 1920s pen nibs? How did I function without a packet of pencil leads produced by appointment to the late King George V? Unimaginable. I also bought a massive vintage Singer sewing machine for just £8, which now takes pride of place on a shelf in my living room (AKA: gathering dust but looking gorg.) – Ellie


There are few books in the world as lovely as this. According to the blurb, reading it is ‘like opening Pandora’s box’, or delving into ‘Darwin’s cabinet of curiosities’. Both of these claims are true – Etcetera is the biblio equivalent of pottering around a junk shop you’ve stumbled across in a back alley of Paris – there’s so much to see, and so much to inspire. Court is a creative curator with a magpie eye – her home and styled shots reflect her passion for colour, texture and fascinating ‘objets’. She’s like a magical chef, throwing together unexpected and wonderful ingredients from the past and the present to create beautiful interiors where every object tells a story. And her penchant for all things Natural-History-related is oh-so-NOW…

I could wax lyrical about the typography and design – the old typewriter-style fonts, the gorgeous transparent vellum paper pages that are utterly decadent – but this is the kind of book you have to see for yourself and hold in your hands to fully appreciate.

Postcards, letters, tickets – Court refers to herself as a ‘keeper of collections, or a bowerbird’ (a quick Google-search reveals this is a black crow-like bird, probably the Aussie equivalent of a Magpie!) – and her extensive stash of ephemera is evidence of her hoarding nature. It’s all so beautifully presented. But you wouldn’t want to be her cleaner!

Among the interior shots, there are pages of to-die-for paint swatches (Court is a part-time colour consultant for Murobond Paints in Australia) with enticing titles such as ‘Tales of a Sea Gypsy’ and ‘Travellers and Magicians’. One paint colour is called ‘Moustache’. What’s not to love?

Etcetera is out in Australia and the USA already and it’s due to be published in April by Murdoch Books here in the UK, with a £20 price tag. The good news is, the April issue of Living Etc magazine (out in March) will have a cover-mounted extract from the book, so we can all get our hands on a slice of the pie before the publication date. Until then, here are a few more gorgeous pics to whet your appetite…because I just can’t resist! – Ellie