Monday, 29 December 2014

NYE - BLACK & GOLD ACCESSORIES

I always decorate our dining room for New Year's Eve whether we are entertaining or not. It makes such a difference and the main focus is on dressing the dining room table. I normally go for something quite sparkly this time of the year but it also needs to be functional. Metallics have been a key trend for 2014 and gold is such a clever colour because you can use it all year round (same with silver). I usually try to buy items that can be used through out the year. This way you make so much more use out of them.

We have been doing quite a bit of entertaining in December and below is a recent table setting. It's all about gold as you can see because this year it has really become one of my favourite colours. I think it's nice to mix things up so I've used white/black dinner plates and some silver accessories. Iittala Taika and Teema plates go so well together and are great for entertaining. Of course I had to use my Iittala Essence white wine glasses which are still going strong after many years of frequent use. I must say that we have only broken one glass in this particular range which is pretty impressive considering our track record!

I don't usually use a white table cloth for casual dinner parties. If it's a birthday, christening or some other formal occasion then I would probably use one. Also, our black dining table is beautiful so it's a great opportunity to show it off (although it does show finger prints very easily!) The coasters are from Laura Ashley and the placemats are from M&S. I have also placed a silver vase that I found in a charity shop for 2 pounds on the table and I personally love this setting. I have managed to find some great items in second hand shops recently and I will featuring these on the blog shortly. I try to mix these with more high end goods and you really won't be able to tell the difference.






I love using my Chilewich Manhattan Tray when I am entertaining. It's great for serving drinks and holds a ton! I have teamed it up with Chilewich Mod placemat in brass and a beautiful scented candle from Lalique. I have been trying to get hold of Chilewich Dahlia coasters in brass colour but they currently are out of stock in the UK. Apparently Selfridges and Harrods will be carrying them next spring.

I also love these mini Christmas crackers. The crackers and napkins are both from Bentalls. I find that Black and gold look very dramatic together. A hint of silver brings real elegance to the setting in my opinion.



I love mixing metallics. There are different opinions on this but I actually think that gold and silver can really compliment each other. Using just one metallic colour can sometimes look a bit too boring and predictable anyway. In fact, one of the biggest trends of 2014 has been mixing metallics. I personally prefer the warmer tones of  gold such as copper, brass and bronze which seem to work incredibly well with our black furniture. I find that gold looks better in candle/dim artificial light although my pictures were taken in daylight so that all the details are present.

I also love decorating with pussy willows. I use them during Easter, Christmas and pretty much all year round. They are very easy to find here and look elegant. The grey colour compliments our monochrome themed decor and they last ages too! The large Christmas cracker is from Laura Ashley. They had beautiful gold accessories this year which are on sale at the moment.




We got this fabulous 'nut cracker' (above) from the Nuremberg Christmas market few weeks ago. You can read more about my trip to Nuremberg here. He looks pretty happy standing on our wine glass cabinet and I really think he brings a bit of fun to our dining room. I had different colours to choose from but I felt the blue one looked best. Blue is another colour that has been growing on me lately. I'll be writing more about it in my future posts...

Our traditions on New Year's Eve includes eating well, watching the fireworks from the TV in our living room (yes we are lazy and old) and drinking champagne. We also have started doing a Finnish tradition called molybdomancy where you tell the fortunes of New Year by melting tin (actually lead). You can read more about it on Wikipedia. It's so much fun to make predictions based on the shapes, although people don't really take them seriously.

There are many exciting posts coming up in 2015! I was invited to Heals SS15 Press Show recently and I cannot wait to share some of the new trends I spotted there. I will be also writing a lot more about our new extension project which will hopefully take place during the spring/summer period. Few people have asked me how our Magnet kitchen is holding up so I will doing another follow up review for this soon. If there's anything else you'd like me to write/review feel free to comment or send me an email. Happy New Year to everyone and thank you for reading my blog :)

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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

NUREMBERG CHRISTMAS MARKET

This year we decided to visit one of Germany's oldest Christmas markets in Nuremberg for some pre-Christmas inspiration. I didn't really know what to expect. I knew there would be some great gingerbread and gluhwein but I wasn't really sure if they had anything else to offer. I was hoping it would be a great opportunity to buy some unusual vintage items for our house. Luckily, I was positively surprised! The city has so much to offer in terms of shopping, history and it's picturesque Christmas markets.

They are selling quite a few traditional Christmas decorations at the market (some extremely tacky, yes) and I knew that I wasn't going to find many things for our house there. I always find the quality disappointing at these markets but this time around I also came across some items that actually seemed to be build to last (obviously this was reflected on their price too). If you do go to Nuremberg during this season, try to go midweek. I found the city way too busy during the weekend to the point that I actually ended up going back to the hotel. Luckily, we were there on Thursday and Friday as well. Also, don't forget that pretty much all the shops are closed on Sundays (unlike in the UK).

I loved the colourful ceramics they had on display as well as all the tea light holders. I did end up buying a wooden 'nut cracker' from one of the stalls and it was actually my husbands idea. He wanted to get a souvenir that we will only use during Christmas and it was a great idea I must admit.







Luckily, there are plenty of interior shops to choose from should you get tired shopping at the market. I actually spent a whole day visiting these and I still didn't find the time to visit any of the antiques shops that I originally intended to. Most of the shops are in Alstadt and I found the best shops are off the main shopping roads Konigstrasse and Karolinenstrasse. Most of the items I liked were too large or heavy to take onto the plane. They had some great ceramics and marble candle holders but I can probably find similar ones in the UK as well.

My favourite shop in Nuremberg was Bolia. It reminded me of Dwell at home. Their furniture is contemporary/Scandinavian inspired and there was plenty of oak, white furniture and marble out for display which I love. Unfortunately their website is only available in German. I might need to dig out my old German school books and start learning again.


Another impressive shop was DesignFunktion. They sell some of the most beautiful contemporary furniture from iconic brands such as Knoll and Swiss owned Vitra. Most of their furniture is ideal for an office but I still think this place is worth a visit for some modern interior inspiration. A particularly liked the large marble dining room table and gold side tables with black sofas. Oh, and they have a beautiful clock on display as well.





Few other shops worth mentioning are:

  • Villeroy & Boch on Konigstrasse (Their lace collection tableware is beautiful!)
  • Grune Erde (beautiful natural materials and wooden furniture)
  • Butlers (They sell everything and I ended up getting some funky straws for the house)
  • Cairo (simple beautiful lighting solutions and furniture. Scandinavian style of course)
  • Bode Gallerie & Edition (wonderful art work and some affordable pieces too)
  • Wurzelsepp (They sell teas, herbal remedies, candles, home accessories etc. You have to try their Lebkuchen sweets. They are amazing!)
  • Nurnberger Rahmenkunst Haus der Gemalde (This is ideal if you are looking for more traditional art)
  • I really enjoyed the Karlstad and Breuninger department stores as well
  • If you like smaller boutiques head to the Gostenhof district or if you like antiques Bergstrasse is ideal

German interior style reminds me a lot of Scandinavian design. It seems to be more about the function than the luxury finishes. I am very impressed with the craftsmanship and have no doubt that if you do buy German design it is going to be timeless. Happy Interior Blog is written by Munich based Igor and  it gives you a pretty good idea what German interiors look like. Igors interior styling is very impressive and I find his blog very inspirational.

There are some great restaurants in Nuremberg but booking in advance is advisable (especially at weekends when it gets very busy). For lunch I would recommend the champagne bar in Karlstad department store. The fish I had there was delicious and fresh and a glass of Tattinger at 6 euros in not bad either! The best place for dinner is the Restauration Fischer. I had a lovely experience there and definitely recommend it for a special occasion. There are also plenty of lovely cafes in the town with cozy outdoors seating areas.



I hope my tips were helpful and I am sure there are many other shops worth visiting that I didn't list here. For more information about shopping in Nuremberg visit Arrival Guides/Germany/Nuremberg or Nuremberg's official website www.nuernberg.de.
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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

CONTEMPORARY XMAS DECOR

Our house decor is very contemporary and during Christmas I usually aim to keep with the same theme. Colours white, grey and silver work very well with our monochrome look. Our living room turns into a bit of a Winter Wonderland during the month of December and most decorations will be located in this room. After all, it is where we spent most of our time in.

I love getting my Christmas decorations in supermarkets. They have a great selection of contemporary and classic pieces that are excellent value. Sainsburys and Waitrose are my personal favourites. Even though I mainly use contemporary decorations, I also invest in some classic items. You don't want to be buying new decorations every year (although I think a little change every now and then is refreshing). I have found that one of the best places to get contemporary Christmas decorations in the UK is John Lewis. I bought all of mine there last year. I usually get my gift wrap from Next as they have some great designs on offer. This year their gift wrap felt much thinner than previous years which is a shame. It can be difficult to find good quality gift wrap based on online pictures.





I used to go a bit OTT with Christmas decorations but this year I decided less is more. I've also realised that I seem to go for a more glamorous look every year. I think this is probably the only time of the year you can get away with glitter and sequinnes so why not?!

I love our Christmas tree and there is a funny story how we ended up with it. Few years ago we ordered a real one but it never arrived. So, just few days before Christmas we went to B&Q and this was the only one that was left in the whole store! I have been very happy with it. Even though I love the idea of a real Christmas tree, an artificial one is so much less maintenance and most of the ones I have seen look better too. You might miss the smell of real tree but who cares when you have a gorgeous Jo Malone candle that smells like pine! You can also read my recent Christmas Candle review here. I think eventually we will end up getting a real Christmas tree but for now this is perfect.

Our tree is pre-decorated with snow dust and some pine cones which I feel gives it a real wow factor. The snow is a bit messy though and I do have to keep hoovering underneath it every few days (same problem with a real tree). I have a confession to make. I hate decorating the Christmas tree! Well, hate is a bit strong but I certainly don't enjoy it. It's quite strange as I love decorating the house but the tree always drives me nuts. I'm such a perfectionist and there is always the odd branch that looks funny (and not in a good way!). I happily let my husband hang the lights on the tree. We also have a mini tree in our bedroom which was decorated by our daughter with a little help from my husband.

I absolutely love these retro Christmas balls that I got from John Lewis last year. I wish I could find more Christmas decorations like these. I don't buy glass baubles anymore as they break easily. Especially, when you have kids in the house you just don't want to risk it. I'd like to make my own decorations but just haven't found the time this year. There are some great DIY ideas on Pinterest.



One of the best purchases I made last year was this garland from Laura Ashley. You can find a similar one here. It is perfect for the fireplace and I do sometimes think we should open it up so it can be used. I cannot think of anything more cosy than an open fire in the living room while you are sipping some mulled wine.




Reindeers, faux fur cushions and star shaped ornaments are ideal for a contemporary Christmas look. They seem to be in style at the moment as I've seen them everywhere. I also think they are pretty timeless and will last for many years to come. I've seen some great reindeer candle holders on sale in Sainsburys. If you want to splurge, get the original one from Finnish design brand Pentik


s fluffy friend is our Christmas mascot. The cushion is from Next.

The hanging star is from Sainsburys.


I am quite surprised that our daughter is not too bothered with our Christmas decorations. However, she doesn't seem to be able to keep her hands off the presents! Not that I can blame her.. ;)


This year we are off to Germany to see the famous Nuremberg Christmas Market which should be great fun. I am looking forward to some window shopping and visiting some of the antiques shops over there. I will be telling you all about it in my next post!
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