Les Jardins de Villa Maroc, Essaouira

Les Jardins de Villa Maroc, Essaouira

It’s always great having friends in-the-know when you travel abroad, as they often give you top tips that you don’t find in guide-books or through internet searches. Because usually you don’t know about these places and so don’t search on them. One of these gems turned up on a trip to Essaouira. Sandra, who runs Riad Remy in the Medina, also manages the apartment we stayed at, and so was on hand throughout our stay. She has a wealth of information about Essaouira, especially on the eating out front, but her stand-out-top-tip was a day trip to Les Jardins de Villa Maroc, located about 15km inland from Essaouira.

This secluded idyll is reached by private transfer, arranged through the sister hotel – Villa Maroc – in Essaouira, and when we visited, the cost was approximately £25pp. (The countryside villa used to be the private home of the owners of Villa Maroc). We met our driver at the hotel for an 11am departure and by 11.30 were around the pool, in the most amazing surroundings imaginable. We were there in January and so the only guests, so literally had the whole pool area and restaurant to ourselves. Lunch was served on the terrace by the pool and it is no exaggeration to say that what was brought to us, could have fed at least six people. Every dish was full of home-grown produce and each dish was cooked there and then. Essaouira has no shortage of brilliant places to eat, but this was something special!

Les Jardins de Villa Maroc has three separate boutique suites and private swimming pool – perfect for families or a group of friends. There is also a beautifully equipped kitchen in the largest suite and the hotel staff, if required, will prepare food here. Design wise, it is the most exquisite complex – and the perfect retreat if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the beach or the medina. It was apparently the first riad in Morocco and is now a hotel, comprising of three suites, dating back to the 18th century, with a full hotel service. Designed with nature in mind and ecologically friendly, using solar heating and solar power it is self-sufficient place. Let us take you on a tour, both external and internal, of the villa…



We cannot recommend this villa highly enough – even for a just a day of rest and relaxation. And if you like your interiors (and exteriors), it’s a visual treat. Very 1970s – you could definitely imagine Pierre Cardin chatting to Brigitte Bardot around the pool, looking super stylish and probably smoking Gitanes…


Lluna Aqua Hotel, Sóller, Mallorca

Lluna Aqua Hotel, Sóller, Mallorca

When we last visited Mallorca, one of the hotels we booked was the Lluna Aqua Hotel in Sóller. Housed in a traditional Mallorcan townhouse, which we were told had been empty for over eighty years, the renovation had only recently been completed and the hotel only opened a few months previously. It’s located on the bustling main thoroughfare of Carrer de sa Lluna, but once inside the cool interior, it’s peaceful and restful. The renovation has been beautifully done, with as much of the original interior retained and restored. Original Spanish tiles are very much in evidence, elaborate ceilings and beautiful dark wooden furniture. The main wall behind the reception area has been taken back to the the plaster, which looks lovely – and with the addition of suspended bird cages, full of fluffy clouds…

A lovely touch on arrival greeted us – a welcome Cava, meaning that check-in is a much more leisurely process. The reception staff are just lovely – Catarina especially, gave us lots of information about good places to eat (off the tourist trail). If you stay here, and she recommends places to you – go to them! She’s a mine of priceless local information and every single place we tried, that she recommended, was faultless.

We had a perfect start to our stay as we were advised we’d been upgraded. The room we had originally booked had a problem with the shower and so as well as an upgrade to the only room with a terrace, overlooking the mountains, for our “inconvenience” (!) we were also informed that during our stay the mini bar would be entirely free. A marvellous start to our stay in the Lluna Aqua Hotel. Even the tonic bottles are a class act – obviously now back at home in Istria, filled with flowers.

Our room was a bit of a stunner. It was unusual in that the room you walked into was the dressing room/bathroom which were separated by luscious navy velvet curtains. A big tick here – they were exactly the same as ours at home. Unusually, the bathroom was wallpapered – even inside the huge shower. I’m not sure if this was special wallpaper, or had been treated but during our stay, it all seemed OK when showering.

The bedroom area was just oh-so stylish, with the original tiled floor, navy velvet drapes, cool lighting and doors opening out onto the terrace.

The terrace was a perfect size, with a couple of sun loungers and an ornamental wood-burner. Another tick here as it was very similar to the vintage one we own, which we’ve just sprayed gold. It was a perfect place to pop a glass of cava on, too. And those views! Across the rootops of Sóller to the mountains beyond.

The communal areas of the hotel were again, so well thought out, designed and stylish. Deep, rich colours, metal balustrades, quirky pieces of artwork, tiles, original artefacts repurposed to bring new life to them. Just lovely – a rich source of inspiration for me to bring back to Istria ?

We were quite sad to leave Lluna Aqua after two nights, but by another twist of fate – horrible next hotel – we were very lucky to find that they had one room available for the next two nights. And so, hours after checking out, we were checking back in again – and this meant we got to see another room. This room unfortunately didn’t have a terrace, like we’d gotten used to, but it was as cute as a button. Maybe not for those who want absolute privacy though, as only a pair of those lovely navy velvet curtains are there to protect your modesty ?

And, again those tiles. And attention to detail. Loved the quirkiness of this place.

When we stayed, because the hotel has only recently opened, they were still in the process of adding the final touches to the breakfast room (which was due to open within the week), so we were given vouchers for breakfast at the beautiful bakery just next door. It’s worth a visit, just for the pastries and coffee – as well as the gorgeous interior.

And, what really caught our attention, was the exposed well – just like ours!

As usual, this is not a sponsored or paid for blog post. It’s just what we thought of a very nice place we found – and maybe it’ll inspire you to check out Lluna Aqua Hotel, too


A Bit of Bling

A Bit of Bling

In the olden days, when I wanted to up-cycle something, out would come the paint pots and brushes. Faffy and fiddly and usually waiting ages for the paint to dry. And because I am ridiculously impatient, I’d try and pick up or move whatever I had painted, too soon, and I’d smudge the paint. I don’t know why spray paint had never occurred to me before, but since we’ve been out, these cans of colour have been my saviour. Nothing pleases me more than spinning the rack in our equivalent of B&Q and going for pops of colour I would normally never choose – hot pink, zingy orange, sunburst yellow and vibrant turquoise, along with the beautiful and much used anthracite, have featured in various places around the house and garden. Nothing escapes the spray paint. The garden tables and chairs and wooden sunbeds have all been sprayed in my beloved anthracite. Wooden crates have been given new leases of life. Three Habitat plastic garden stools, originally black, are sprayed in different summery colours – one is orange, one is yellow and one is turquoise. White IKEA cube shelving has had the spray paint treatment – a great hack.

The metal cover for the well had a make-over, and the deep, deep blue now looks so much better and complements the very soft pale blue exterior woodwork.

Even the microwave hasn’t escaped the spray paint. Our silver microwave was just too silver and shiny for the new kitchen, and not being able to find a reasonably priced dark blue one anywhere, I did the obvious…

But perhaps the colour that I love the best is the gold. It just brings warmth and cosiness and a touch of glamour to our stonehouse. It also works so well against the dark colours we have around the house. A couple of our feature walls are very similar to Railings by Farrow & Ball. The walls and ceiling in the kitchen are Farrow & Ball Hague Blue. Most of the wooden floors – and the original stone floor in the Well Room – as well as the two sets of stairs are a very deep indigo. And the gold just adds a little unexpected something. I’ve upcycled bottles which are now used to display faux blooms and branches. Vintage birdcages have been glammed up with the gold. A big IKEA floor lamp now gives off a golden glow next to my desk. Various candle holders, which were pretty ordinary, now look super glam. And, the best thing of all is our vintage French woodburner. Now, this sounds mad – BUT it was never used. It was originally a beautiful blue ceramic burner, but it’s spent a lot of its life with us, in the garden as an ornament and so was a little bit weather-beaten and the hinges and plate underneath the lid were very rusty. It would have cost a fortune to have it reconditioned – and even if we were inclined to spend the money having this done, we’d have had no idea where to actually get it done. So, I figured a coat of spray paint might just give it a new lease of life. What do you think?

The pink table has also been re-upcycled. This was originally a paint-splattered wooden work table, which went pink to give a bit of colour to the upstairs landing. It’s also had a change of look, and now sits in the living room – the perfect place for lots of candles and twinkling lights in the winter…

I try to do all of the spray painting outside, and especially with larger items, but if they have be done indoors, windows are wide open and masks are worn. But, when aren’t they these days? The thing I love most about using spray-paint is that it’s relatively inexpensive, quick and easy to apply and if I want a change, all it takes is a quick sand down and another colour from the carousel.

Window Shelving

Window Shelving

One of the things that we’ve always meant to tackle, but never got around to it, as there always seem to be other jobs which take priority, is the levelling of a number of our window sills. Some are level, but some, including one in the living room, are still in their Istrian stone state – therefore wonky. They are deep and recessed so perfect for a bit of accessorising, but anything that is placed on them, has a bit of a Leaning Tower of Pisa look about it.

So, after adding a window shelf to the kitchen window, it was decided that this could be a quick fix solution for the living room window. The intention is still to have the window surround and sill plastered, but it depends on how long we are here for. At the moment, we don’t really fancy doing messy work which will ultimately end up with us decorating, so the shelf it is. Another reason for this shelf, is to accommodate the broadband fixed line router. It can be temperamental and likes to be right in the line of vision of the pole in the garden from which the cable comes into the house – and we’ve found the higher up this router is, the less temperamental she is. But resting on the back of the sofa was never go to be a long term solution.

Where we live isn’t built up at all and without our garden lights, the house would look very dark at night time. The garden does look pretty magical when the green wall is up-lit – as you drive down the hill from the main village, it looks like a castle wall. Albeit a very small one. But it is eye-catching and we wanted the windows of the house to be a pretty. (“Top lights” are a thing in Croatia – a bit like Italy – and so we wanted to introduce a bit of lighting ambience…) Hence, another reason for the window shelves, to give us a bit of additional height and to create something a bit more interesting.

The shelves just lift off, so in summer they will be removed, so that windows can be open (they open inwards). But, in winter, there’s no chance of them being open, so we can be a bit over the top in terms of dressing the windows. Come mid-December, they’ll be Christmassed up, especially as it’s looking like we’re here for the festive season, but at the moment, we’ve gone for a slightly more subtle approach…

The shelf is just a piece of very inexpensive pine, cut to size and painted white. The router seems very happy in her new elevated position. A string of tiny LED battery operated lights add a bit of twinkle and a shelf not a shelf if it hasn’t got tealight holders for additional flickering lights. I’d love to have the green fingers to keep plants alive and thriving, but I don’t and so all plants are faux. But they never die, which is a result for me! Most of the accessories which currently sit on the shelf are from UK shops or are probably available in the UK :

  • Wooden fir tree & pink pillar candle : Søstrene Grene, Stamford Quarter, Altrincham
  • LED starlight in glass bottle : The Range
  • All plants, aluminium cream pot & gold candlesticks : IKEA
  • Green glass tealight holders : Dunelm
  • LED string lights : Jysk

We’re definitely not overlooked, so don’t need the privacy that these shelves offer, but when I think back to our West Didsbury house, these would have been perfect, especially at the rear of the house. I think what I love about them most, is that once the brackets are on, the shelf just sits on top and so can be removed as and when necessary. It also means that I can change things around quickly and create different looks and moods without spending anything at all – all I’ve done here is move things from different parts of the house. We decided against putting a shelf up on the opposite window, as it have just felt a bit too much – and the sill on this particular window has been finished so we do have a flat surface. However, I couldn’t resist a kitchen window shelf. And this one is perfect for pots of herbs, as well as a bit of ambient lighting at the front of the house…


Decoupage Doors

Decoupage Doors

Decoupage or découpage is the art of decorating an object by gluing colored paper cutouts onto it in combination with special paint effects, gold leaf and other decorative elements. Commonly, an object like a small box or an item of furniture is covered by cutouts from magazines or from purpose-manufactured papers.

Our internal doors are the pretty basic DIY store four panelled ones. They are on the list to replace, but we’ve not got round to bit of the list yet. They have all been painted a very soft pale blue satinwood and new handles have been fitted, so are OK for the time being. However, over a couple of rainy days we were sorting our holiday box – the one where receipts and tickets and maps get chucked at the end of a trip, always with the intention to do something with these memories. Sorting them all on the concrete table in the Well Room, it suddenly came to me – why not use them to decoupage the inside of the downstair’s bathroom door?

Materials Used

In my usual gung-ho way, I just decided that I knew what I needed (listed below), so if you’ve not done this before yourself but fancy giving it a go, perhaps check online in case I missed out something crucial. Although to be fair, I’ve gone on to decoupage other surfaces in the same way, and they’re all fine.

  • Paper Maps
  • Wallpaper paste
  • Scissors
  • Small paint brush
  • Clear varnish
  • Small sponges (one to smooth out any airbubbles and the other to dab away any errant wallpaper paste)

I decided to use just the maps, cut up, as was finding it too fiddly to try and place tickets, receipts etc in a pleasing pattern as they were all different thicknesses and looked too messy. I laid them out on the table first of all, and could see pretty immediately they weren’t going to work, so made the decision to cut up the maps. This made creating a pattern so much easier. I applied the wallpaper paste (and only make up a small quantity as you don’t need a lot) in sections and so was easily able to slide the map pieces to the edges of the door, so there was no messy overhanging. The panels were a bit more tricky, but I quickly realised that by scoring a line in the corner of the piece to be used, I achieved a neat fold. It did quite lot longer than I thought it would, but once all secured in place, it looked as I had wanted it to and so was worth the effort. Because the door is a bathroom door, and so obviously affected by steam and moisture, I applied four coats of clear varnish. It was completed a couple of months ago, and all of the pieces are still firmly secure. No peeling or coming away, so the more coats you can apply, especially in a room like a bathroom, the better.

Our downstairs bathroom is quite small and there isn’t really the space for magazines etc – and to be honest, I couldn’t stand the clutter. So, for those who like a bit of reading matter in the small room, there’s a door full of maps to be explored.

I have since done a bit more decoupage on a few other surfaces and have to say that I definitely found the pages of a book to be the nicest to work with. I would never normally destroy a book, so chose a book that we had a couple of copies of. And one that i thought would get more reading if if was randomly decoupaged on the back of a door…






Grey & White, with a Woodland Vibe

Grey & White, with a Woodland Vibe

We’ve never had so much space and shape to play with before, in any of the houses or flats we’ve lived in, and our stone house has proven itself to be a complete source of surprises. Each time we think we’ve finished somewhere, we see something else that could be done. A room in point is the largest bedroom, which has gone through quite a few changes. The initial transformation was very simple – we just painted all of the walls and ceiling white, and woodwork the same soft, very pale blue which runs through the rest of the house. Furniture was bought quickly, out of necessity – although we weren’t unhappy with what we’d bought, we weren’t ecstatic with the choices.

Pretty soon after everything was painted white, we felt that the room still needed something else. The pine floor boards had never been treated and so these were sanded and stained. It turns out that “Walnut”, the colour we were trying to achieve, is not actually walnut here – the first attempt was more of a honey colour and we really disliked it, so bit the bullet and went for “Ebony”, a colour much closer to what we had envisioned.

The wooden bedframe was also stained, giving us a room that was beginning to get *there*. However, the beams were still in their naked state, and because of the size of the room and the height of the ceiling, it still didn’t feel right. At least we were able to add these funky shades from IKEA – I’ve always liked these, because of the shadows they throw out, but have never had a space large enough to accommodate them. Two of them now hang between the beams – and work really well because of the space around them.

The treating and painting of the beams was definitely one of those jobs we put off, because of the height of them and the fact that once again the room would be in chaos. With hindsight, we really should have tackled them at the beginning, but there was just so much to do, that we decided to revisit them at a later date. They have now – thankfully – been treated for woodworm, caulked, undercoated, primed and topcoated. And, will never be touched by us again – so it’s just as well we love them in their new state.

Because of the ongoing renovation around the house, we’ve regularly found that the bedroom – purely because it has the space – becomes the “overspill” room, where pieces of furniture from elsewhere are moved. This has happened over the winter with our SKARPÖ outdoor armchairs (from IKEA) – although we made the best of disguising them with faux sheepskins and cushions. And, did actually use them. Artwork and plants and rugs soft accessories were also introduced to soften the room.

Then I got into my head that what was missing in the bedroom, was a feature wall. The white was just, well, too white. And scrolling through Pinterest I found I was becoming attracted to dark greens. It did take a little persuasion, but off we headed to Pula to our local B&Q style store (no mean feat as it’s a good three-four round trip) to get the paint mixed. I did really, really. really like the green but there was just something that wasn’t quite right. I couldn’t work out if it was the shade of green we’d chosen. Or whether it didn’t work against the ebony floor and grey beams. But there was something. I did try to surpress it because I knew I wouldn’t be at all popular even hinting at a colour change, so we went with it for a good few months.

But, it was finally broached, and it was agreed that although we did love the green, it wasn’t working in the bedroom. We had to have a colour that would sit well against the dark floor and the grey beams – and so of course, what better than another shade of grey? All of a sudden, the room was starting to work for us, and after three years, we were finally starting to create a room where we could feel completely relaxed.

Over Christmas, back in the UK, we decided that we might as well go for it in terms of finishing the bedroom, once and for all, and purchase the things we needed, which we couldn’t easily get out here. We decided that it was time to change the look of the bedroom furniture, which we’d bought in haste a couple of years earlier, and so chalk paint (in Vintage Duck Egg Blue) and finishing wax was purchased. First job, on our return after Christmas, was the painting of the bedframe, wardrobe and cabinet – and wow, what a transformation.

And of course, now that everything was tying in colour-wise, that floor couldn’t stay ebony! Luckily, we always have lots of deep, deep navy blue floor paint and this was the next piece of the make-over jigsaw.

All of the upstairs doors in the house are fairly basic wooden panelled doors – the intention has always been to replace these, but so far we’ve not got around to it. I’d recently decoupaged the inside of the downstairs bathroom door, with maps from our travels and decide to spruce up the bedroom door, internally, using the same method. I liked the idea of the pages of a novel – as our copy of “Ulysses” by James Joyce was never going to be read, it was decided that this would be the novel which would be used. And with so many pages, not only was the back of the door done, but also the floating shelf above the bed. Which was then accessorised with faux sprigs of eucalyptus, which were left over from Christmas wrapping. We also had a small woodburner which had never been installed – in cream and black. It had never found a home and we didn’t really like the colours, so a quick spray of grey paint, and it had a new look. And a new home.

Again, because of the height of the room, we knew that the beams could look even better – and so lengths of faux foliage were brought back from England after Christmas. These particular ones were from The Range and are definitely the best ones I’ve seen – they are very realistic garlands with curling tendrils, so do look very realistic. If you do like them and live in the north west of England, please don’t buy them all, as I’m intending to restock on our next visit!

The recess in the bedroom has always had these squares of ivy (from IKEA), again to break up the white. And to help create a little more of a magical feel. A kind of woodland vibe. The beautiful mirror was a gift at Christmas – it was originally black and would have looked fab in this colour in the living room or well room, but I knew that this recess was the perfect place for it. The black however, wasn’t quite right, as it couldn’t really be seen. The gold spray paint was already out, as I’d done the handles on the wardrobe and cabinet, and I knew the mirror would look stunning in this colour. And, it does – a proper sunburst, nestled in the ivy wall. I also couldn’t resist the three green glittery, sequined pigeons, with the long feather tails and golden beaks, spotted in the post Christmas decoration sale in John Lewis. I had no idea where they’d go, but just loved how playful they were – but they look quite beautiful now, perched on the vintage birdcages which have been attached to the side of the wardrobe.

Mustard rugs (Dunelm Stores) and side lamps (Sainsburys) and a trio of gold mirrors (Dunelm Stores) were also brought over from England, and a white bedding set was dyed yellow, to sit against the Eve mattress. One of the best mattresses, ever, btw. The boxes at the bottom of the bed are used to store bedding, but are strong enough to sit enough on – the perfect height for painting your toe nails 🙂

Opposite the bed, we’ve created a lovely space, which is so beautiful in the evenings, when the light is just fading. A perfect corner to while away a little bit of time, in a room which now, *finally* think we are very, very happy with…






Open Plan Visioning

Open Plan Visioning

We’ve reached the stage in our renovation journey, where we’ve been thinking of the next stage. Our stone house is now renovated – or, at least renovated as far as we want to go. We could have a (modest) swimming pool built, but being realistic, we have weighed up how much use it would actually get v the costs of installation and upkeep. It’s a lovely idea, but we think we’ve parked this particular project for now. We have just completed on the purchase of land & a small building to the rear of the house, and this is keeping us occupied, as we do the initial work we can do ourselves – tidying it up – without being able to rely on our builder, at the moment.

So, a decision was made, a few months ago, and having found another property we’d like to buy and renovate, we’re going to sell this house. The global pandemic that we all find ourselves in the midst of, has obviously put paid to any kind of real marketing, but we have a website and as soon as things start to settle down and some normality returns, we will pick up on these plans again. The property we are interested in, is very, very different to our current house. In fact, very different to anything we have ever lived in – or ever imagined living in. We don’t want to give too much away, but if it all works out, we’ll be living our lives in a very different way. The building is an old industrial unit and largely open plan, one one level. It does have rooms, but the walls are only partition and so the plan would be to reconfigure the space, but retaining a huge open plan area. So, I’ve been researching…

Because of the style and construction of the property, we think it will lend itself to an industrial style interior, and so I’ve been drawn to the feel of the above spaces. It’ll be another leap into the unknown, but we’re very excited at the prospect of what could lie ahead. Might have to get in touch with Kevin McCloud…

Photographs : all sourced from Pinterest



The Living Room

The Living Room

The living room, when we bought our Istrian stone house, was dark and oppressive. Walls were plastered in places, painted in places and in other places, the stone work was exposed. Window frames and external shutters were a faded green colour. The pine floor boards were untreated and the original beams, very dark and exposed.  The stair treads were also exposed, and there were no risers or spindles and no handrail, meaning that they felt very unsafe. The previous owners had left much of the furniture – all dark wood and dark brown leather, and definitely not our taste  – and all in all, it was a pretty unloved space.

This was the first room we tackled as we needed to have somewhere that would be a comfortable retreat from the renovation chaos going on around us, and as our furniture arrived from England within a couple of days of arriving, we had to accommodate quite a lot of it somewhere, away from the building work. One of the first things we did was paint all of the walls, including the exposed stone work, white, which immediately lifted the room. We also stumbled along with the ornate cast iron stove we had inherited but it was proving to be very efficient, and so when we spotted this concrete beauty we knew it would be perfect for what we were planning.

A new chimney had to be built from the Snug (immediately below the living room), as our Dovre Stove which we brought over from Didsbury was being fitted down there, and up through the living room, into the bedroom and out through the roof. New ventilation was also installed. The white walls did definitely make a big difference in the early days, and with some familair and some new furniture in place, we did have a cosy room we could retreat to at the end of a long day.

However, we’ve continued to chip away in this room and today, we think we might finally be happy with it, and be able to put away the paintbrushes. For the time being.

Those beams have all been treated for woodworm and caulked, as there were too many gaps and holes and we wanted clean lines between the beams and the ceiling. They were then undercoated and then top-coated with a soft grey satinwood.

The faded green paint on the windows and frames and external shutters was sanded away and the woodwork was primed, undercoated and finished in a very pale blue, to complement the grey beams.

I find it very difficult to look at a room and think that it’s finished, especially when the rest of the house is in renovation chaos. I suppose I should try much harder, but I can always see something else that needs doing, or I go somewhere and see something I like and have to incorporate into the house. Such has been the case with the living room. The white walls have definitely been much, much better than the exposed stonework, but something just wasn’t quite right – and a visit to a beautiful bar in Ljubljana told me what was missing…

I loved the deep navy and gold and the patterns and textures and accessories and knew that this was what the living room had been missing. so set about creating an area of the room that was dark and luscious.

We decided that as well as painting the wall a very, very dark navy, the time had come to tackle the floor. The pine boards were not looking good and so it was decided that the whole floor would be painted in the same soft grey satinwood as the beams, pulling the whole room together.

The very dark wall just lends itself to a bit of contrasting bling, so as well as the gold sprayed stove, these angel wings take pride of place. A purchase which I just couldn’t resist…

The white IKEA cube storage was also sprayed and I think it all looks a whole lot better. Instead of the white cubes dominating the room – and being very obviously IKEA – they now blend into their surroundings much more. The spray painting was all done outside and it was completed very quickly. meaning that we didn’t have to wait hours for paint to dry before putting books back and accessorising. The artwork is actually from Bauhaus – our equivalent of B&Q. I’d spotted something very similar on Pinterest and had been searching online to see if I could source something like it – and there it was, as we were buying paint 🙂

Those rickety old stairs were given a much needed safety overhaul and makeover, too. It was a bit of a concern to discover that some of the treads had never actually been secured, so they were brought forward – given more foot room – and all securely attached. We also fitted a wooden back to the stairs, meaning that they looked a whole lot safer and much sturdy. Those spindles, will, at some point, be replaced, but we decided that as the stairs were being painted, they might as well also have a lick of paint. Considering how pretty bland they are, we think they look quite a lot better in their new colour and disguised ever so slightly, with two faux sheepskin covers.

The final thing we did to finish off the room – for the time being! – was to repaint the sideboard, which the TV sits on top of. It had been a pale grey but was beginning to look a bit grubby, so the bavy blue satinwood came out again, and transformed it, into something quite beautiful and elegant…

And there you go. For not too much expenditure, a new living room, inspired by Kolibri Cocktail Bar, in Ljubljana.


Fantastic Faux

Fantastic Faux

I love fresh flowers. For the third year running, we’ve seeded up a few areas of the garden with wild flowers, because we believe that one day soon, these seeds will become something more than spindly stems and limp hanging heads. I always think something like this will emerge, because you’ve got to believe, haven’t you? But so far, not much luck…

Whilst we persevere outside – the seeds have been sown again – we’ve decided to go faux inside. The one parlour palm that we have got inside, has dwindled in size, as we forget to care for it. So, we’ve gone faux. Fully fake faux, because however forgetful we are, we can’t kill it and it will always look pretty. The house now has a plethora of greenery and unless we burn it down, the faux should last as long as we’re here…

This is a beautiful twine from Rockett St George. Bit pricey given what we’ve discovered since, but it’s still lovely and long enough to twist around the metal shelving. It does have the appearance and texture of a real plant, so I guess that’s what you pay for, if you’re a serial plant-killer. The creamy white ranunculus was just cut down so that it fitted into an empty caper jar, which I painted with the woodwork satin. I tend to keep glass jars, knowing that at some point in the future, they can be upcycled. Although these days, they get the spraypaint treatment – much more immediate results.

Our nearest B&Q style store, which we inevitably frequent a lot, stocks a good range of faux foliage and so a few blooms and branches always find their way into the trolley. An inexpensive and effective way of making a half renovated house look a lot more cheery.

These little potted beauties from IKEA are greta value – they’re the Fejka range and are incredibly reasonably priced at £4 for a three pack. I dread to think how many of these packs I’ve bought…

More Fejka IKEA plants – this time, hanging plants in baskets. I’ve found that these work best when a hanging basket/pot is large enough to accommodate two, at least three, of these faux plants so that there’s more density.

Our renovated beams are quite beautiful, even though we say so ourselves, but they needed just a little something else. Our garden is full of trailing ivy and this gave me the idea to wrap artificial vines around the beams, reflecting what is outside. The hanging foliage above the window are just two pots, sitting high on the beams – but because you can’t see the pots, the way they tumble, is very effective. Especially when they are lit up by the dimmers, in the evening.

The basket below, was originally used to store towels, but these branches of faux eucalyptus and the cornflowers and reeds, just looked so much prettier and so it has been repurposed. Definitely adds more layers of interest in the room and it feels a whole lot more spring-like.

The upstairs bathroom has a very high ceiling, with orginal beams and again, we’ve introduced vines and hanging foliage, as well as this very lovely pale blue striped jug from IKEA. The cornflowers make anther appearance, too, sitting on top of the mirrored cabinet.

And finally, these vines… All laid out and ready to be used. But where they have been wrapped is for another blog 🙂

So there you go. A very inexpensive way to accessorise rooms, add depth and detail and bring the outside in. Safe in the knowledge, that once they’re in place, apart from the odd dusting, you need never do anything with them again, and they will always look good.


Souk Retail Therapy

Souk Retail Therapy

We made a bit of an unexpected purchase when we visited Morocco and to be honest, we were on pins when we returned home. The purchase was being sent to us, as it wasn’t going to be easy to bring it back ourselves, and after the euphoria had worn off – it was something we’d been searching for, for ages – we did worry that we might have been scammed or that said delivery would not arrive. When we made the purchase, we also negotiated/haggled/asked very nicely for a chocolate brown leather pouffe to be thrown in too.

This particularly appealed once the very obvious storage solution had been pointed out. In Morocco (and probably elsewhere, where people are just more practical), these pieces of storage furniture aren’t artificially stuffed. They’re filled with blankets, clothes, newspapers etc – a brilliant way to store summer clothes in the winter and vice versa. It’s also deceptively large – it’s now packed full of clothes and very heavy so it makes a very solid piece of seating. And, the bonus is, I could also start to get rid of some bulky cupboards which only served to house clothes which hardly ever saw the light of day. A proper exercise in de-cluttering.

It’s beautifully well made and has that really aromatic smell of leather. We’ve now had it for over five years and it’s survived two house renovations, a long period in storage and being shifted from Didsbury to Istria. We still use it as storage – and it’s now coming up to that lovely time of year when we can think out about taking out the summer clothes and packing away the winter stuff. It also still doubles as a seat and now has a new home in our downstairs Snug.

We liked it so much that when our friend went to Morocco, we asked her to bring us another back – this one is much smaller and is one of the very traditional rounded, hand stitched leather pouffes that you see all over the Souks. They are really inexpensive and as they are purchased flat, are so easy to bring back. Ours is a gorgeous sunshine yellow, which just brightens the room up…

Although I currently can’t imagine being comfortable in a Souk – the whole point being that they are crammed with people and sellers, noisy, exciting, vibrant – everything we’re currently keeping ourselves away from, I’m sure one day, we’ll return. During they day, especially in Marrakech, they seem a lot calmer and easiest to get around. At night, they take on a completely different feel. They can be quite disorentating and it’s so easy to feel lost and bit overwhelmed. But, we’ve always found them to feel safe – I’m not sure if I’d be totally happy wandering around solo, in the same way that I probably woudn’t wandering around somewhere like Piazza Navona in Rome, on my own, at night, but with someone else, they don’t feel initimidating. And, with someone else, it means that there is always someone to rein me, purchase wise 😉 We’ve always been fairly limited in what we can bring back as we don’t tend to travel with hold luggage, but looking back, it would seem that airlines did exert a little bit more flexibility in terms of cabin luggage weight and size, as looking around our home, we have obviously managed to get a few Souk purchases home…

We were very taken by the Moroccan Rose Tea – both in taste and appearance and aroma – and so brought some back with us, especially when its properties were explained to us. Being caffeine free, it’s supposed to aid digestion and blood circulation, as well as noursihing the skin. I can’t say whether these claims did actually work, but it’s super pretty and smells gorgeous.

We also couldn’t resist a big Moroccan bowl – due to size restrictions, we couldn’t go for the full set, but on our next visit, I do hope that we can start to add to a collection and have the smaller plates and bowls to match this beauty. It currently hangs on the wall, but one day, I do see it as centrepiece on outside table, full of a vibrant summer salad.


The Souks of Marrakech and Essaouira


And yes, the purchase we mentioned initially, did arrive. Our beautiful handmade Berber rug…