Nearly there.

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So it’s nearly the end of 2015. Where has this year gone?? So many people I have spoken to have said this year has just flown by. There was a time in which I used to alternate between awesome and dud years – but I’ve lost track as life has gone on. This year has seemed to be one of those with plenty of ups and downs, which I am beginning to realise is just how life is. In the context of all the darkness we have experienced this year (on a global, macro scale, and also on a more micro, personal level – friends who have lost family members, for example), life this year has seemed somewhat tentative and something to be all the more appreciated. This year I have been better at telling those whom I love that I love them, and at holding close those who are dear. I hope I remember to do more of that in 2016.

In light of new beginnings and new growth in the new year, I spent some time reflecting and planning, whilst playing with my new succulents (courtesy of Flowercard) on my lazy Christmas day. I am hoping that 2016 will be a much better year for not killing my plants (see here), by the way, as I am prone to (through no intention of mine!!). We already had some cacti and a couple of succulents, but now that floral gifting service, Flowercard, has given us a whole boxful (which came in a personalised tin – thanks!), hopefully some will last until the end of 2016? One can only hope! I have no idea why I am so bad with plants – any tips and tricks will be much gratefully received!!

 

Images: Courage & Dash

Succulents pictured from Flowercard, all opinions my own!

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The Curious Shop: Goose Home & Garden

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One of the downsides of renting is being restricted (usually) to playing around with your soft furnishings; one of the upsides, however, is being able to change the style of your space as regularly as you would like!

Today, Sarah & Paul from Goose Home and Garden, our new favourite online shop, join us to tell us about their business. The online shop stocks a range of decorative vintage, from quirky signs to old furniture. One of our friends, Jessica Alice, was so inspired by Sarah that she decided to start her own business selling second hand lifestyle items. 

Sarah’s love for collecting started many years ago as a child trailing after her mum to house sales. Both Paul and Sarah started dealing in vintage homewares 20 years ago in Brighton, and now they sell regularly at fairs in the south of England. By the way, if you were wondering why “Goose”, it is because that is what newborn Sarah was christened by her older brother! We cannot wait to see them at a fair.

For more, visit http://www.goosehomeandgarden.com/.

Images: Sarah Kingston

Winter is coming…

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If I have spoken to you recently, you will know that I have been desperate to use the phrase “Winter is coming” legitimately, either as a title to something or in conversation about the weather. I am not well-acquainted with Game of Thrones (either the books or the television series), much to my embarrassment (everyone seems to have seen/read it!), but I just really rather like the motto. I tried to explain it to my boss last week, but as you already know, I don’t actually know the plot of the series at all, and so failed pretty much as I started.

On a cold and rainy day during our Scottish holiday, the husband and I decided to have a really lazy and slow day. When we woke up, the sky was grey, and light rain was pattering against the skylight. I cannot tell you enough how much I love rain whilst indoors, tucked under a warm duvet with fluffy pillows I can sink into. It was fab. After a hot brunch, we decided we really ought to get the fire going, and so the husband was dispatched to make some kindling, which I duly built a fire with.

By a stroke of luck, a couple of Produce candles landed on our doorstep that morning, courtesy of I Love Produce Candles – perfect timing for a cosy day in! In fact, it was exactly the right candle for our pastoral, farmyard surroundings. I first discovered Produce candles at Top Drawer, a home+gifts trade show – they smelled divine, like freshly grated vegetables or gently frying herbs (they are also aptly named things like “rosemary”, “honey”, “sage” and “radish”). These beautiful candles are hand-poured in Charleston, South Carolina (possibly one of my favourite southern cities, and where Frank Underwood from House of Cards went to university) – and now they are being sold in the UK by I Love Produce Candles. Hurrah. I think I want to try Wildflower next (I was sent Rosemary and Fig), and possibly Coriander.

We spent the rest of the day lazing by the fire, eating cake, reading, and dozing. I think I am a true champion when it comes to sitting around and not doing anything!

 

Images: Courage & Dash

Beautiful Living

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How beautifully set up is this home? The first time I saw Natalie’s photos on her Instagram account, Laid Back Farmhouse, I fell in love with her style. It’s so airy and light and calm. You can imagine how delighted I was that Nat agreed to let us peek into her home – it’s impressive how uncluttered the space is, despite Nat’s large collection of vintage things – there is yet hope, despite my husband’s insistence that mess is synonymous with vintage hoarding. Over to you, Natalie!

“I’m Natalie Woods, I’m 34 and work in travel – you’ll often find me in either Covent Garden or Southampton.

“Five years ago, my husband and I moved back into the country, this time to West Sussex to a little converted barn that needed (and still does) some love. I grew up on the Shotley peninsular in Suffolk, so country living is deep in my bones.

“My whole life I’ve loved vintage items and very little in my house is new. My favourite pieces are Provence farmhouse inspired, as I aspire to live in rural France one day!

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“I’m still collecting and my favourite places to go are Hill & Co Grayshott and Haus Haslemere. In fact, I go there all the time. Annie & Bill @ Hill & Co often travel over to France and source the most fantastic items. I could spend hours in their lovely shop (and often do). They are incredibly friendly and passionate about antiques and also source from all over the UK. The shop has a French farmhouse feel and I know I will always find something quirky and original – my signs, apothecary drawers and glassware are all from there.

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“Stephanie @ Haus Haslemere has impeccable taste and her shop is incredibly chic. One half is a bright, Scandi/French look and through the door to the other half is an industrial/utility feel. There’s lots of beautiful vintage items and I guarantee you will want to buy everything.

“I love visiting France’s flea markets and Brocantes. My absolute favourite is Villneuve Les Avignon. It’s full of provincial items and is reasonably priced. The market setting is very beautiful.”

 

Images and styling: Natalie Wood

Guide to antique-hunting in Lincolnshire/Hull

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I’m sorry it’s been AGES since I last posted!!! Between working long hours (waking at 5.30am is becoming increasingly difficult), harp practise (exam in November!), spending time with the husband and seeing friends, I’ve barely had enough time to write (or go to the gym, eek).

Last month, I went to Yorkshire/Hull to see some really fun+fab friends, plus do some antiques hunting (of course!). The weekend was so great for so many reasons – and not least because we had the most delicious BBQ at the home of our friend’s grandparents. As ex-antique dealers, they have a stylish home filled with the most beautiful treasures. Swoon. It was a fantastic, relaxing weekend – can’t wait to go back!

Here’s my guide to that part of the North East of England, if you ever do go:

1. Hemswell Antique Centres
Open Monday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm

Caenby Corner Estate,
Hemswell Cliff,
Gainsborough,
Lincolnshire, DN21 5TJ

Relaxing and easy vintage-hunting as all the stalls are beautifully laid out and all indoors. The centres are housed on an old airfield which belonged to the RAF (home of the Lancaster Bomber in WWII), and each one has a fairly extensive collection of furniture, jewellery, dining room bits, wall hangings, and decorative items.

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2. Kevin Marshall Antiques Warehouse
Open Monday – Saturday, 10am to 5pm

17-20A Wilton Street
Hull,
Kingston Upon Hull, HU8 7LG

Get ready for some proper rummaging. Drew Pritchard (from Salvage Hunter) said it was one of the last few remaining true-English junk shops, and if he means utterly eccentric and rammed full of treasure, then this is it! The warehouse is fairly large, set across two floors, and every inch of the shop floor is piled high with old treasures, apart from a path about 4 feet wide, winding through the shop. There’s plenty of Ercol furniture and industrial-style seating, as well as older Georgian chairs. I loved the 1920s cigerette advertising mannequins and Eastmans Tea cupboards. Didn’t buy anything (thought it was a bit pricey although am sure Kevin is up for some bargaining) although really enjoyed digging around and meeting Kevin.

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Images: Courage & Dash

Styling Your Home with Vintage

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If you’ve been following the blog for awhile you just might have picked up on my slight vintage/antique obsession. Just a slight one, of course. Not like I run around the country (or continent) hunting down fairs and shops or anything like that…

You can imagine my delight when I discovered Bring It On Home while I was looking for an antique Singer sewing stool. I love the selection of items they have in stock and the way the products have been styled for the website. If I could have done so, I probably would’ve bought the entire store; we don’t want me turning into the hoarder next door yet, do we?

In 2011, founder and owner of Bring it on Home, Amy Page, decided to give up life in the city and turn her passion for vintage furniture into a business. Amy only buys pieces she would love to have too – always a good sign!

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Part of the reason I love old things is that they are so quirky – every object has a story and tells us something about how people lived. My favourite items are old advertising and glassware, shop fittings and random decorative items (e.g. dead stock labels or a travelling candle set). It just makes home that bit more interesting, a bit like a gallery, with things that can spark one’s imagination.

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Here are Amy’s top 5 tips on styling your home with vintage/antique pieces:

1. Mix & Match: To make vintage furniture work in a modern home, you should try to mix old with new. Scandinavian homes have this look nailed – think fresh white walls and black floors paired with pale vintage wooden furniture and pops of colour in the accessories. If you prefer the dark side, then mid-century teak furniture looks amazing against a dark wall.

2. Random knick-knacks: I love to collect curious vintage knick-knacks on my travels. It’s a really great way to add some vintage flair to your home without spending a fortune and a great way to display them is on a bookshelf. If I think of my bookshelf in my home, I have a vintage string puppet, some taxidermy, an antique bible, vintage toys, a vintage camera… I could go on!

3. Re-purpose/Upcycle: I love to up cycle vintage finds and again this can be a cheaper way of adding vintage furniture to your home. Keep an eye out in charity shops or on gumtree for a piece of furniture that has seen better days and give it a new lease of life. Take Grandma’s old chair with it’s brown upholstery covered in cat hair and have it re-upholstered in a modern fabric! My favourite upcycling project was a mid-century sideboard, I spray painted the drawer-fronts in different bright mid-century colours and it looked amazing.

4. Make a statement: You don’t need heaps of vintage furniture to make a statement, just one statement piece will do the trick. For example a grand antique dining table (Courage & Dash: We wish we had space!!), or some amazing pendant lights, anything that draws the eye.

5. Let your walls do the talking: If you already have a happily furnished home but want to add an element of vintage then look to your walls. Try hanging a large vintage map or posters. I personally love the old hanging medical and anatomical charts.

Thank you Amy! By the way, did you manage to spot Batman, Amy’s Boston Terrier? Too cute! Do check out Bring It On Home (don’t tell anyone, but I’m often browsing during the day when I leave the desk to grab some coffee!) – they also have a prop hire service, so if you wanted, theoretically you could basically have everything you want from the shop…

For more, visit http://www.bringitonhome.co.uk/.

 

Images: Amy Page

Styling Your Bedside Table: 5 Tips

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A year and a half ago, I married the love of my life. We are so different, which is great because we balance each other out, but sometimes, as one would expect, those opposites can lead to tension!

One of the things I anticipated before our marriage was a clash in decorating choices. Mr M is more of the Scandinavian, minimalist school of thought, while I am more of the quirky, cosy (cluttered?) school. I remember asking (worriedly) before we got married if he expected to have much creative direction at home, to which his answer (worryingly) was yes. Thankfully, because we are renters, we haven’t had much freedom to redecorate, so many of our design differences have been avoided! And credit where it’s due, Mr. M has been rather indulgent of my styling ideas.

One weekend, while Mr M was out, I took it upon myself to style his (sparse) bedside table. It is usually bare, save his radio clock and cufflink box, so I gathered some props from around the flat to style his table with. I also wanted to give him a cute elephant letterpress card which I had found + framed – bit soppy, but it says “Grow old along with me – The best is yet to be.” What better way to give that than a styled bedside table? Also, as renters, styling is often the only (if not, main) way of expressing our creative tastes and preferences.

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I really wanted to incorporate bright colours in the vignette, but with hindsight I’m not sure a pot of cacti is the smartest thing to put on a bedside table. It was within unsafe distance of the flailing about in the dark for the alarm clock or bottle of water zone! Here are my top 5 tips for styling your table:

1. Use items of varying heights – this helps draw your eye around the scene and gives the setup different points of interest. You can stack items at different levels if all your props are the same height.

2. Don’t be scared of colour – It’s difficult to go wrong with colour especially if you are starting with a white base. If you are starting with dark wood (e.g. mahogany) then choose lighter colours, or go monochrome. If you are using a yellower wood (e.g. maple or pine) then choose bright colours with more blue(ish) tones in them.

3. Pick a few things to focus on otherwise it can get cluttered – I wanted the table to look casual yet stylish, so I had to choose what I wanted on it, rather than include all the props I had gathered. It’s always a battle to know when to say enough, but my rough rule of thumb is that I need to have enough clear surface for an iPhone 6 and a glass of water.

4. Include a couple of quirky items – My little deer antler is probably one of my favourite things; I bought it off a retired search & rescue airman who makes walking sticks out of old antlers. Interesting items (even small ones) add a bit of fun and personality to the vignette.

5. You can’t go wrong with books – especially pretty books. If you are stuck for ideas, use books to add colour, height, focal points… The books can be in varying sizes and be a range of coffee table picture books or actual novels you are reading. A stack of books always looks trendy and makes you look learned 😉

Do share images of your styled bedside table/bedroom surfaces with us on Instagram, @courageanddash!

Styling/Images: Courage & Dash