I always looked forward to a trip down to Hobart where I would squeeze in some downtime between filming. Not only is MONA always a must-see but Haydn & Penny have a fabulous antiques & vintage business called Willow Court. It is full to the brim of loot & treasure.
I always came home with a heavy bag or a load following me on the boat. (Without sounding like a Tourism Tasmania representative) If you can, spend some time at Salamanca Markets of a Saturday and grab a coffee at Tricycle Cafe. Or walk around Battery Point and stop at Jackman & McRoss for baked deliciousness.
For some road tripping try the Huon Valley to Willie Smiths for organic cider & lunch or head to Richmond and the Derwent Valley for some beautiful old towns & great antique shopping.
Haydn is a wealth of information & has been salvaging building materials for decades – I not only come home with half his store but definitely with a lot more knowledge!
H is for…
I opened a store so I could sell old haberdashery things (and other globetrotting finds & treasures), I have many a fond memory of haberdashery visits while growing up. My mother was great at sewing , so we would often be mathing thread to fabric and buying a quarter metre of material (she made beautiful quilts), plus ribbons for my pigtails.
My version of a haberdasher’s store is more nineteenth century than 1970s: all things attached to paper; sets of 10 mother of pearl buttons; glass-topped dressmaker’s pins; fabric tape measures and other needs; needles in tin casing; tailor’s chalk. All these things make up my sewing kit, and give me great pleasure whenever I mend or make something.
My thread often looks like a tangled mess ; put them in a loop on wire or string in colourways for ease & organisation. They look so pretty, keep them out as decoration. Shop my collection of twine & haberdashery here.
Years ago, I found a market outside of Paris, a jambon & brocante market to be exact. It was the best market I have ever been to, not just for the fabulous finds, but for the fact that at lunchtime the stalls closed, and shop owners pulled out their beautiful short-stemmed vintage glasses, linen napkins & silver cutlery to accompany their just as fabulous cheeses, oysters & ham (of course!). It was such a simple daily ritual that I have now incorporated it into my life, and love nothing more than sipping my Pouilly-Fuissé from one of these glasses. I have now collected them from around the world (not just France) and embrace their mix-&-match quality, and the stories & memories their purchase holds.
As computers and electronic messaging take over our lives more and more, its lovely to be reminded of the quirks and imperfections of handwritten letters and notes. This one, titled ‘How not to get that job: a success article’ is full of crisscross and editing marks, and was unearthed in a New York flea market, but you might find that your own family archives are full of written memorabilia ideal for framing or displaying. Shop my collection of stationary here.
A boyfriend and I had a secret language. When we needed to tell each other ‘I love you’, we would press our palms together. We though of getting smaller versions (of the outline of each other’s hands) on our shoulders so when we were sleeping at night, side by side, our palms would be pressed together.
I no longer have that boyfriend but am left with a fascination for hands. The protective hand of Fatima, a French door knocker of a hand clasping a ball, illustrations of sign language and shadow puppets, hands cast in metal and carved out of graphite to write with, wooden artists’ hands, the outline of a loved one’s hand on the wall in pencil, the wire outlines you push into gloves to maintain their shape, and even the simple saying of ‘fingers crossed’.
Hangers & hooks
Not just for coats & clothes. I use coat hangers to show off everything, including amulets, beautiful scarves, textiles and posters, which I hang from a picture rail or hook or bookshelf. I pick up old wooden & wire ones in markets and vintage clothing stalls. You can never have too many hooks. Although I do not have hooks on the back of all my doors, I use them much more liberally , to hang sponges and hammam towels in the bathroom, for mirrors on the stairway. Make a feature of them. I buy them on boards or as single sin salvage places. Shop my range of hooks here.
Wherever I travel, I buy a version of the Panama hat. It is part of my outfit and now I have many. On a trip to Ecuador, I visited the home of the Panama hat.
Flowers are a stylist’s dream – I love fresh, fabric, milliners’, and all sorts of printed and artistic renderings – as the combinations are endless and almost impossible to mismatch.
My approach to flower arranging is:
- If it holds water, consider it a vase. Seek out old condiment jars and bottles, antique milk glass, tarnished silver trophies – the options and shapes are endless.
- Embrace haphazard arrangements – it will make cut flowers look like they’re fresh from the garden.
The less it matches, the more I like it. Just look at the way these unusually long-stemmed, late-season hydrangeas theatrically defy the proportions of this vase.
Strung flowers appear throughout India, not just for weddings & celebrations, but for a simple and welcoming decoration. Apply this to your own interior and hang from doorknobs and keys. I use brightly coloured dahlias.
The natural beauty of flowers ensures that it’s hard not to get floral arrangements right, so mixing and matching your favourite blooms is a great styling starting point for those who want to boost their confidence.
It is mind-blowing to discover a tropical oasis amongst the Scottish Highlands. Forty hectares of woodlands shelter 21 hectares of botanic gardens. Think giant gunnera, beautiful specimen rhododendrons, waterlilies, bamboo, and even vegetable gardens all despite the northerly latitude. A true representation of countries from across the world, don’t be afraid to fill your own backyard or balcony with plants that do not match.
I love to mix old and new – here I was inspired by Strongarbh House on the Isle of Mull, a car ferry ride away from Oban on the west coast of Scotland. We discovered it through an Instagram recommendation. The lovingly restored house on the hill has had many reincarnations throughout its life from a morgue to an officer’s mess and home. Enter to a flagstoned hallway and big wooden staircase, and two front rooms that look over Tobermory port. The library is all whitewashed light & modern (I think Ilse Crawford had some influence here) with beautiful, deep, shuttered windows. There are painted grey floorboards (more people should do this) in the gallery with a B&B Italia sectional sofa/ottoman and Monocle newspapers. You can have a beautiful old building but it does not mean that everything you own has to be old! I might be attracted to pieces from the past time and time again, but I love modern. It was done to perfection at Strongarbh, by resting on their traditional foundations but creating a modern space.
A timberyard to begin with, then an old prop house and theatre, now it is a restaurant & an Edinburgh must-go, and a source of inspiration here. Simply propped, you walk into Timberyard toward a ramp and there’s an old leather-topped gymnasium vault and candles. A central courtyard is the perfect place to admire the space and enjoy your Hendricks served with cucumber, and tartan rugs to keep you warm.
Timberyard is tactile, subtle & perfectly executed and the family who run it are absolutely lovely. Don’t disregard the importance of simplicity in styling, use this as a reference point and be excited about uncomplicated wall art and the quiet moment it can achieve. Here, single antlers shed by their original owners are strung up.
The littlest things can remind you of a place. I just added some loch-y ferns to my new, old kitchen made by master blacksmith Saul. As I am part-gypsy, there is no need for stoves & ovens in my kitchen. I work with a cast iron burner and it caters for all my needs. Don’t feel like your rooms have to have all the mod cons – install only what you’ll use and suits your lifestyle.
My Scotland recommendations:
Great travel guide, especially for B&Bs.
Bird Hand Book
By Victor Schrager & A. S. Bryant
By Tim Walker
Stirling FK9 5PS
Wester Ross IV54 8LR
North Loch Lomond G83 7DX
Isle of Mull PA75 6PR
Glengarry Castle Hotel
Inverness-shire PH35 4HW
65 Dundas St
Edinburgh EH3 6RS
21st Century Kilts
48 Thistle St
Edinburgh EH2 1EN
IJ Mellis Cheesemonger
30a Victoria St
Edinburgh EH1 2JW
Amazing craft & design online and stay in their beautiful holiday cottage in Callakille, Applecross.
AG Hendy Home Store
36 High St
East Sussex TN34 3ER
If you can – a must-visit in the south of the United Kingdom.
Bonnington House Steadings
Edinburgh EH27 8BB
Inverewe Garden & Estate
Ross-shire IV22 2LG
Isle of Mull PA75 6NR
Book for tour to avoid disappointment.
Isle of Mull
Argyll PA64 6AP
Isle of Iona
Argyll PA76 6SQ
Drummond Castle Gardens
Crieff PH7 4HZ
Glenlyon Tweed Mill
Taybridge Terrace, Aberfeldy
Perthshire PH15 2BS
Isle of Mull Weavers
Isle of Mull PA67 6DR
Edinburgh Farmers’ Market
Edinburgh EH1 2EL
Every Saturday 9am – 2pm.
East Sussex BN8 6LL
If you’re in the south of England, don’t miss the Bloomsbury Group’s country meeting place.
10 Lady Lawson St
Edinburgh EH3 9DS
Ninth Wave Restaurant
Isle of Mull PA66 6BL
Be sure to book.
155 West Port
Edinburgh EH3 9DP
A recommendation from Timberyard.
1 Forth St
Edinburgh EH1 3JX
Sobering coffee & almond/orange cake.
The Bon Vivant
55 Thistle St
Scotland EH2 1DY
G is for…
A prop to transform one’s appearance & to be unrecognisable; to go incognito; mask, cape, moustache, silver-streak hair & the like.
A hybrid of jetsetting (although I prefer globetrotting) & gypsy. I love this look and embrace it regularly. It is forgiving, loose casual. It’s about collecting fabrics & remnants, carpets & scarves & draping them on your walls, lamps, beds, floor & yourself. It’s reflection of a life well travelled & much enjoyed.
If you are not yet in your forever home, and are renting, there are ways of creating a layered look without leaving a mark on the walls.
Get the hang
Consider interesting objects to suspend from ceilings or anchor to floors and encourage your guests to look here, there and everywhere. Here, a kite in the shape of a pirate ship becomes a mobile held up and roped down with a green silk cord.
Objects stored on open shelving and flung-open cupboard doors take on new appeal when blessed with a uniformity of colour, because what’s the point of possessing beautiful and meaningful things if you can’t show them off for the world to see?
Affix light objects to the wall using removable adhesive hooks, and change the vignette when the mood takes you. This old lampshade has been customised with a bedtime phrase, but you could pen a nursery rhyme, poem or a favourite saying.
Stick ’em up
I always have a stash of Blu-Tack (or other brand of adhesive putty) on styling jobs or when I’m doing some redecorating as it allows me to quickly stick things up – postcards, old theatre tickets, anything on paper – and remove them without a trace when the mood takes me.
If you’re not ready to wallpaper or paint a wall – or can’t – try another tactic. Giant playing cards, available from party suppliers and stuck up with tape, act as both art and wallpaper; mix with patterns, such as caning or palm fronds.
Books are the ultimate styling tool. They make a space feel like home and are a direct reference to your interests & fantasies, and a reflection of whose space it is. They can create a beautiful backdrop (as mine do) or simply add height, colour & a point of view on tables, shelves and mantels. Bright idea: Have a sense of humour and use recycled bricks with favourite book titles painted on for display and bookends.