Vanessa Arbuthnott

How to decorate in a French Country style

French country style springs from the gentle hills and valleys of rural France. It’s an unstudied, collected approach, built on firmly entrenched local traditions and on cherished objects handed down through generations. Simple and sincere yet effortlessly elegant, it satisfies the soul as much as the eye.

The French tend toward an inborn sense of taste and refinement. Guided by instinct and a knack for striking a balance, French country décor always works, no matter how many disparate elements you throw into the mix.

So keep treasures, add in an eclectic mix of favourite cushions, curtains, throws, cards, and paintings; they can all be accommodated in one room. It’s more about objects with meaning than mixing and matching cushions etc.

The soft furnishings can then work around the treasures, choose soft muted shades for the wall colours to create a soft neutral backdrop.

Choose a toile such as my Love of Rose fabric for the curtains, blinds or cushions, they are traditionally French, made famous from the cotton and linen printed with designs of landscapes and figures for which the 18th-century from the factory of Jouy-en-Josas, near Versailles. They create a wonderful atmosphere is a room and are a must if you are hoping to create a French look.

The French have wonderful taste in lighting, look for some old lamp bases and make some fabric lampshades. Also search out some old mirrors and wooden chairs to paint in junk shops and auctions.

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July Moodboard – Soft Yellows and Greys

Our favourite colours for the month of July are soft and gentle, the fabrics taken from our classic ‘Meadow Collection‘.

Inspired by the wild flowers, hedgerows, blossoms and birds, these designs are ideal for the balmy summer months. One of our most popular designs ‘Songbirds‘ in the Buttercup, Clay and Charcoal colorway features a large, flowing pattern making it perfect for full length curtains. Combine this with a ‘French Ticking‘ stripe for your blinds and throw in some cushions and lampshades in the ‘Plain Check‘ and ‘Wild Rose‘ to complement perfectly.

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Beside the Sea

You don’t have to live by the sea to bring some coastal style into your rooms…it is an easy going and relaxed decor and will have a calming influence on you and your home.

Here are our tips to add some nautical touches to your decor.

For a Scandinavian seaside style, choose some subtle accessories, found objects like shells and driftwood look best, and washed out linens will give to a relaxed nautical feel to a room. Shades of blue work well against pale floors and walls. Try to keep furniture it’s natural colour, this will help keep the room feeling earthy and don’t be afraid to mix light and dark wood tones together.

For a more traditional coastal style, use striped fabric to upholster your furniture and other soft furnishings. Keep the space as light and airy as possible, you can try painting furniture white and keeping the walls neutral to help with this. Although blue is traditional, don’t be afraid to use other colours – greys and yellows work just as well and gives a contemporary feel to the style.

For a modern, brightly coloured seaside theme, yellows and pinks work really well alongside blues and greys. Try keeping the walls neutral and then introducing the colour through your fabrics and accessories – there are some beautiful modern seaside prints available and on sites like Etsy and Not On The Highstreet and potters like David Garland  make some lovely blue and white ceramics that would complement the scheme.

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May & June Moodboard – pinks and greens

With the recent spell of wonderful weather, Vanessa and her showroom team have been inspired by the beautiful blossom on the trees to create a pink and green moodboard for May and June.

They have used a mixture of lighter shades, such as the Lily Pink and Limestone and combined these with the darker Damsons and Sweet Peas to add some colour. A third shade always works well to complete a scheme and so they have selected Apple Green with a hint of Moss Green velvet which would work really well on a cushion or even an upholstered chair.

For curtains or large blinds, try the Gypsy Garland or Tea Time designs which will really be shown off to their full impact. For a smaller window, Simple Ticking or Branching Out would work well. Pretty Maids is a wonderfully useful co-ordinate – try it on cushions, borders or perhaps a lampshade or two.

Image result for blossom pink and green

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April Moodboard – teal, sweet pea and lime

Our moodboard for April is all about bright colours! Teals, limes and sweet pea pinks combine to create a fun scheme that would work well in a living room or bedroom. Our shop assistant Katie has picked her favourite fabrics for this month…

If you have a big window, a fabric like Dawn Chorus is perfect for curtains to showcase them – try Sweet Pea pink for some impact! For smaller windows, how about our new design Branching Out which would be great for a blind. For cushions, try spots and stripes mixed together – Pretty Maids and Simple Ticking make a great combination. Our Up the Garden Path wall covering in Teal makes a great statement wall and our rug in Smoke and Cornflower is the perfect finishing touch to brighten up a plain wooden floor or neutral carpet.

You can order samples of all the above by clicking here:

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Spring Decorating Tips

Spring has almost sprung…with the longer days and changing seasons, now is the perfect time to dust away the cobwebs and freshen your home. Here are our top 5 tips to get you started:

  • Get some fresh and bright accent cushions (we can make you these through our made to measure service) Put away the winter throws and replace with bright throws on your sofa. Pick out spring-hued vases, fresh spring flowers and bulbs…like the beautiful natural cream ones we sell in our shop from Laura’s Loom.

  • Change the runner in your hallway for a fresh, happy alternative. After a long winter of poor weather and lots of use, a new rug will bring a clean, fresh look to your space. Our new Herringbone runner in rose colour is perfect for adding a splash of colour…

  • Recover an old chair in a natural linen to lighten up a room. The Little Leaf in Raspberry is a classic design and works well with this Ercol chair.

  • Choose a bold, fresh paint colour – maybe try just one wall painted in a strong colour in the same way that you can wallpaper one wall if the pattern is strong; so that it isn’t over bearing. You could even go for a two toned look – we have used Linen Wash 33 and Brighton 203 by the Little Greene Paint Company for a fresh, nautical look.

  • Invest in some good lighting – a poorly lit room will look dark and dingy. Try some floor lamps in a neutral colour like the white one below…

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March Moodboard – Turquoise and Saffron

With the arrival of March, we are well and truly ready for Spring! Taking inspiration from Vanessa’s new collection, our home design consultant Clair has put together this months mood with a turquoise and saffron colour scheme.

‘Tea Time’ is a quirky and eclectic design perfect for kitchens and dining rooms. The large pattern makes it particularly suitable for curtains and blinds. Clair has chosen the Clay, Powder Blue and Lemon colour way here and teamed it with some turquoise Shibori’ and Origami’ to brighten it up. These would be great for cushions or seat covers. Our new range of velvets have been especially chosen by Vanessa to complement her printed linens and the Smoke’ blue and Honey’ yellow tone in really well with these designs. Finish your room off with some beautiful fresh flowers (we love Gerberas from our local florist Oops a Daisy) and some brightly coloured pottery such as the David Garland mugs above.

You can order samples of all of the fabrics in the picture above by clicking here – and don’t forget to send us snaps of your moodboards and rooms!

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Workshops running from the Bothy

The Bothy is a creative space based next door to Vanessa’s shop and showroom at 12 Ashcroft Road in Cirencester. Since we opened in 2016, we have been building a busy programme of events and workshops alongside the charities and local groups who use the room on a daily basis.

Here are some the classes we have coming up in the next couple of months, please head over to our website to see some more information and workshops including simple printmaking on fabric! All workshops can be booked online or please email us on for more information.

Spring is Sprung! Easter Flower Arranging Workshop

Saturday 31st March 2018

10am – 1pm

A workshop to create a beautiful spring table decoration for your Easter celebrations or just to brighten your home.

This workshop will teach you how to prepare your Oasis, put together the components to make your decoration stable in a container and then how to condition and cut your foliage and flowers to create a long lasting and lovely decoration.  Oasis and  a plastic container will be included together with foliage to make the design and shape for your display.  Bring your own flowers to create the right colour scheme for your home.

I will also be making a Hand Tied arrangement to show you how to make the best of a bunch of Supermarket flowers and there will be lots of tips about how to look after, arrange and prepare flowers for you to take away.

Make a Lampshade

Wednesday 21st March 2018

10am – 1pm

Run by Sarah our expert lampshade maker from Lollipop Lampshades, this fun course is suitable for all abilities.

Includes all materials to make your own single lined drum lampshade (choose from 20cm, 25cm or 30cm diameter) exluding fabric. Bring along half a meter of your choice or browse our beautiful rolls next door at the Vanessa Arbuthnott showroom.

An Introduction to Weaving

Saturday 7th April 2018

10am – 4pm

Suited to all ages and abilities. Using a simple back strap loom, Rebecca will have you weaving in no time! We will be working with British Wool in a range of natural fleece tones and plant dyes colours. All equipment and basic materials will be provided.

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New rug designs!

We are very  excited to introduce two eye-catching additions to our existing range of rugs and runners – the perfect adornment for any floor.
The 100% British wool rugs and runners are woven in a family-run mill in Wales, which has been weaving traditional rugs for over 100 years.

Herringbone: Distinctive and timeless, the Herringbone rug is available in gentle Rose, and earthy Thunder & Bracken colourways. Finished with fringed ends to further emphasise its informal style, the Herringbone rug is available in a beautifully proportioned size, 120cm x 200cm, and priced at £240.
Geometric: This contemporary Grey, Saffron and Winter rug was designed by Vanessa in collaboration with Cotwold-based hand weaver Rebecca Connolly, who works from a studio at Vanessa’s home. This beautiful flat weave rug is enhanced by fringed ends. With busy homes in mind, this practical design is both
reversible and machine washable. Available in one size, 120cm x 200cm, the rug is priced at £240.

Ideal for making a statement on your stairs and adding comfort to hallways and landings, both covetable designs are available to order as runners. Measuring a generous 69cm wide, the runners cost £79 per metre, and can either be fitted to stairs or bound at both ends to create narrow width rugs.
Vanessa explains her inspiration when commissioning the new designs: “I really feel that floors should be celebrated as a surface to decorate just as much as walls and windows. My latest rugs and runners have been designed both to soften the look of the home as well as heighten the ambiance of each room. The gentle colours and simplicity of the designs make them particularly versatile, and ideal for both country and urban settings.”

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February Mood board – pastel pinks and greys



To celebrate the beginning of February and the approach of Spring, we have put together a light and airy moodboard for this month.

Using pastel pinks (our brand new colour ‘Lily Pink’), blues and greys, this is a pretty scheme which would work well in a bedroom or living room. Adding grey and blue to the pink stops it from looking washed out and we have chosen two of our velvets in ‘Rose’ and ‘Elephant’ colour to add texture. Velvet works really well on cushions and chairs and we have chosen our brand new ‘Tea Time‘ design to sit alongside them – perfect for a curtain or blind.


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