Vanessa Arbuthnott
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July Mood board – Pink and Green

Live your life through rose tinted glasses with this month’s mood board – pinks and greens. A most delightful combination, especially when it comes to interiors.

Green is renowned for communicating peace, balance and harmony. It can rejuvenate and restore, giving the feeling of being connected to nature and feeling safe and secure. In our busy lives, it is no surprise that city dwellers escape to the country for weekends and holidays to reconnect with nature. Green also represents growth, renewal and regeneration.

Why not play with the strength of colour and scale to create individual looks…

Contemporary – try mixing lime with sweet pea for a vibrant and striking room. We suggest: Up the Garden Path in Lime, Plain Linen in Sweet Pea, Pretty Maids in Lime and Sweet Pea.

Country – create a pretty and relaxed interior using shades of pastel greens and pinks. We suggest: Swallow Dive in Sea Pink, Simple Spot in Olive and Sea Pink and Pie in the Sky in Olive and Sea Pink.

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The wisdom of wallpapering

Wall coverings have a distinct history, dating as far back as the 1400s with tapestries and panelling evolving into current designer wall coverings and wallpapers.

While wall colour encourages mood, designer wallpaper design does this and a bit more. Visually, it offers a direction towards a particular style.

William Morris recognised the importance of wallpaper when he advised in one of his lectures:

‘Whatever you have in your rooms think first of the walls for they are that which makes your house and home, and if you do not make some sacrifices in their favour you will find your chambers have a kind of makeshift, lodging-house look about them…’

Without having to invest in expensive art or lighting, designer wallpaper is a great way to enhance a room design with a bit of dramatic “wow!

It’s safe to say most of us have dabbled with wallpaper, maybe as a feature wall in a bedroom or above a fireplace. But while the feature wall has served our homes well, it’s now time to push the wallpapering boundaries to new limits by covering an entire room in your favourite print or pattern. Yes, that’s all four walls covered top to toe, corner to corner, in wallpaper….

Why not buy some rolls of paper in our sale and transform your room in a few hours…wall coverings differ to papers because the pattern is printed on a stronger fabric-paper mix which is you can easily put up by pasting the wall first so no messy wallpaper tables.

Below are some of my favourite designs and remember, there will be 15% off all designs until the end of August! Please enter WALL15 at the checkout to apply this discount.

 create an oriental Chinese look with my Songbirds wall covering

a contemporary office using my Pretty Maids wall covering in Dusky Pink

a geometric/modern retro look with my Origami wall covering

a fresh, Swedish style sitting room using Saffron Gypsy Garland wall covering

a simple, understated bedroom with Spotty Stripe wall covering in Smoke

 and a statement bathroom in Up the Garden Path in Winter

 bring natural forms into your decoration with Cow Parsley wallpaper

Whereas furniture and textiles often survive, and pass from one generation to the next, wallpaper is frequently damaged, covered over or removed altogether. It has generally been the easiest and, relatively speaking, the cheapest aspect of interior decoration to replace, and thus it is the least likely to survive. This is unfortunate because wallpaper is the most eloquent embodiment of changing fashions, vivid evidence of an individual’s taste, and the fundamental framework of any new scheme of decoration.

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Tips on decorating with patterns

Here are my top three tips for combining patterns in your home…

1. Limit yourself to one large scale fabric design

2. When mixing prints, try not to choose more than once of the same scale size

3. Layering patterns involves four main elements: colour, scale, shape and texture.

 

Here are three of my favourite examples using combined patterns:

The Artisan Sitting Room

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This fresh, Summery room was created using different shades of greys and saffrons. Large scale floral cushions work well against a simple stripe on the sofa and I have kept the accessories neutral and to a minimum to show off the fabrics. A statement wall painted in Scree by Little Greene Paint Company creates a dramatic finish against the light wood floors.

10% off all the fabrics used in this room set for one week only! Click on the swatches below and enter PATTERN10 at the checkout…

1460 12a bori-57 Pi 6 1460 18a bori-57-52 Pi(li)Sa 7 1460 17a bori-63 Pi(da) 8TICKING-381460 01b GAMI-19-52 PiSa 8

 

 

The Meadow Sitting Room

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In this room, I have used colours that co-ordinate but in varying patterns. The large scale of the Songbirds design works especially well for curtains and I have picked out a stripe and floral in the same colourway for cushions against the backdrop of a plain cream sofa.

10% off all the fabrics used in this room set for one week only! Click on the swatches below and enter PATTERN10 at the checkout…

BIRD-43-37-38ROSE-43-37-38FT-43-37PLAIN-3-u and plain-3-LLAP-48-52-38 crop

 

 

 

The Birds and Beasts Sitting Room

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Here is a room where three patterns have been combined with a stripe and tweed. Using different colourways of the same design gives a fun an eclectic look and the tomato red lifts the charcoal grey of the wall covering and sofa.

10% off all the fabrics used in this room set for one week only! Click on the swatches below and enter PATTERN10 at the checkout…

1365 16a HOP 38 CH 7MAID-501365 12a HOP 29 TO 81365 24A W&F TO 9 LO1365 33A W&F LICH 10 lo1365 07a TW 103 ST 7 LO RES

 

Please note 10% off these fabrics will only run until end of day on Friday 30th June! 

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Visit to the Islands of Harris and Lewis

isle of harris

My May visit to the islands of Harris and Lewis

Two years ago Rose, my daughter went on a recce trip for me to find the perfect tweeds…she wrote:

‘I journeyed around the west of Scotland painting land and seascapes in my camper van called Patrick. Accompanied by my friend jess, I took the long road to Ullapool with a view to reaching a far flung book festival in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.

We took the early ferry surrounded by beautiful sea light; the entire bay was in twinkling shade. We I embarked on the hunt for Harris Tweed, driving all the way around the mountainous Isle of Harris and also Lewis, with scattered homes in little bays between the abundance of sheep- covered hillocks. We visited the home looms, in little sheds next to the houses (hence the phrase ‘home-spun’), weaving tweeds in beautiful colours reflective of the landscape; peat, bracken, sea, sky, storm, heather and grass….. the new wool smelt amazing…’

Two weeks ago my husband and I did the same exciting trip and visited amongst others the famous LUSKENTYRE HARRIS TWEED COMPANY run by Donald John Mackay M.B.E. from his little shed next to his house, a small cottage by the sea where the famous fax from NIKE in the USA, for 9,500m of tweed came slowly through his fax machine by the stove….and kick-started the sleepy industry on the Islands. He bravely accepted the order and every loom on the island played a part in meeting the order.

Here is what he recalls of this time:

“One day in 2004, my wife, Maureen, came out to the shed and said there was a company called Nike on the phone, calling from America. I didn’t know who they were but they said they wanted some samples of my tweed that they might use in the design of a new shoe.

We sent off a package of my traditional tweed designs to their offices in the US but, to be honest, I didn’t expect to hear anything back. As the weeks passed, I forgot all about the phone call and the samples we’d sent. But then in March the same year the company contacted me out of the blue and this time they asked if I could provide 10,000 yards of cloth for a trainer called the Terminator.

It was a very big order but I wasn’t going to say no. I normally make 27 yards of tweed a day, so somehow I had to find a way to make it work. We mobilised weavers throughout the Outer Hebrides. It took us three months to complete the order. Nike was delighted – even Madonna wore the trainer – and almost immediately they asked for another 10,000 yards. That was sent out in a separate consignment the same year. Since then, Nike has been back to us several times; the last occasion was in 2010 when they ordered 6,000 yards of cloth for a new shoe. I can’t say how much the Nike orders were for, but it was a lot of money.

For us the most important thing is that it has helped Harris tweed become fashionable again. Ten years ago the tweed industry was in serious decline because the cloth had an old-fashioned image and wasn’t what the young people wanted to wear.

There were only about 80 weavers left on the island before the Nike order came in. Now there are more than 200” – Donald John Mackay M.B.E.

We had a wonderful time visiting the weavers and came away feeling thoroughly inspired! If you would like to see any samples of my Harris Tweed range, please send us an email at [email protected] or you can also order them online here: http://www.vanessaarbuthnott.co.uk/collection/birds-and-beasts-collection 

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A guide to finding your perfect sofa

With so many styles and shapes available, choosing your perfect sofa can seem like a daunting task. With this in mind, my team and I have made a simple guide to finding your perfect sofa. My range of high quality furniture (sofas, chairs, footstool and headboards) can all be covered in any of my fabrics and I have taken great care in choosing classic designs that will last for years to come. So, put your feet up, grab a cuppa and have a read…

For those who like it modern – the Calmsden

Sofa drawings - calmsden

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With a contemporary shape and beautiful, finely tapered round legs, the Calmsden sofa is a welcome addition to any stylish home. Choose between once long cushion or two smaller ones and customise your piping and buttons to make it even more bespoke.

Dimensions – 90cm deep x 88cm high x 160cm/180cm/195cm wide

Price starts from £1563

For a comfort lover – the Classical

Sofa drawings - classical

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With a high enough back to rest your head and arms high enough to lean against when curling up with a good book, the Classical is a comfort lovers dream! Available in 3 sizes, the largest one is ample enough to use as a spare bed.

Dimensions – 98cm deep x 88cm high x 200cm/230cm/260cm wide

Price starts from £1862

For those less tall – the Chedworth

Sofa drawings - chedworth

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This sofa can be ordered with a narrower seat depth (80cm) and has very neat arms meaning it doesn’t take up too much room.

Dimensions – 80cm/90cm deep x 89cm high x 170cm/190cm/210cm wide

Price starts from £1708

The all rounder – the  Traditional

Sofa drawings - traditional

sofa

Timelessly elegant and wonderfully comfortable, our Traditional Sofa is our most popular model and looks perfect in any style home. Add turned legs with our without castors for an extra touch of sophistication. Again very neat arms so it doesn’t take up too much room.

Dimensions – 102cm deep x 82cm high x 150cm/180cm/210cm wide

Price starts from £1889

 Why buy from Vanessa Arbuthnott?

I are very proud of my furniture range! Here are a few reasons to buy from us…

  • All of my frames are traditionally made here in Gloucestershire using solid beech from managed forests and jointed with dowels and screws.
  • All of my furniture is expertly upholstered in a small Cotswold workroom just a few miles from our shop.
  • All of my sofas are a good height to make getting in and out of them easy
  • They are all made to measure and bespoke – choose fabric, leg type and colour and cushion filling.
  • They will be ready to deliver to you within only 8 weeks.
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Make a beautiful outdoor space!

With the Summer approaching us fast, it’s time to sweep the patio, uncover the garden furniture and dust off the BBQ. However, creating a beautiful outdoor dining and entertaining space can be daunting especially if you’re starting from scratch so here are our top tips and favourite colours and accessories to inspire you.

1. Invest in a good furniture set, wooden is ideal for all styles of garden being durable, timeless and weather hardy.

2. If you don’t have trees to provide shade, try adding a parasol. You can find these very easily at garden centers or, if you want something really special, have your own bespoke parasol made like ours from Sunbeam Jackie (we chose a selection of our Artisan fabrics)

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3. Have a variety of scatter cushions on hand for your chairs and benches. You can order these made to measure through us or try making them yourself in a mixture of patterns and colours. If you go for a neutral furniture set, your cushions can easily be changed from time to time when you fancy a different look.

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4. Have some oilcloth handy for lunches outside meaning you can easily clean up spills and crumbs. A top tip – if you aren’t using your oilcloth all the time, keep it rolled onto a cardboard tube to make sure it is crease free next time you do.

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5. In a neutral colour scheme,  plant pots are a good way adding a splash of colour. Try growing wildflowers or a selection of herbs you can use for cooking.

6. If you have an outside wall to incorporate, try painting it in a cheerful colour or decorating with vintage signs, lanterns or even artwork.

7. Have plenty of candles, blankets and throws handy for when the sun goes in.

8. If you are looking for bright, cheery colours that work well together, one of our favourite colour combinations for using outside is a Sunny Saffron calmed with Duck Egg and Smoke blues. 

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9. When space is limited, for example a small patio, just a fold-able table and chair set with a beautiful tablecloth and some fresh flowers is perfect for making somewhere to have your morning coffee, read your book or have a cosy evening meal.

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A weekend in The Cotswolds

Come and help us celebrate the opening of our Spring/Summer showroom with a trip to the glorious Cotswolds!

On Saturday 13th May, we will be running an informal coffee morning here in our shop in the heart of Cirencester. Vanessa Arbuthnott will be talking through how she has developed her business over the last 17 years, giving helpful design tips and answering your questions.You will also be able to see our brand new room schemes which will include a cosy bedroom and a useful office space.

Please note that this talk will only have a certain amount of places, please ring us on 01285 831437 or email [email protected] to book your space and avoid disappointment! If you can’t make the 13th May but would still like to come and speak to one of our design advisers, please book your slot using our online calendar. These hourly sessions are free of charge and we can talk you through our large range of fabrics, wallpapers and furnishings as well as answering any questions you may have!  

If you would like to make a weekend of it, why not plan a stay with our neighbor, the beautiful Kings Head Hotel. They have offered some very exclusive rates for our customers only which can be booked by telephone on 01285 700900 (be sure to quote Vanessa Arbuthnott when you place your booking!)  The hotel oozes contemporary country cool with its old stone walls, wooden beams and original Roman mosaic.

Here are the King Heads exclusive offers…

  • Getaway Break – Dinner, Bed and Breakfast includes: Full English Breakfast in the Hotel Restaurant, 3 Course Dinner in the Hotel Restaurant, Complimentary Upgrade to Superior Room, Complimentary Gin Tray.  £200.00 per room, per night based on 2 sharing Sunday – Thursday. £50.00 Supplement per room per night for Friday and Saturday nights (please note some Friday / Saturday nights require a minimum 2 night stay which can be added on at the Best Available Rate)
  • Indulgent Spa Break – Treatment, Bed and Breakfast includes: Full English Breakfast in the Hotel Restaurant and a 25 minute treatment per person in our Subterranean Spa £158 per room, per night based on 2 sharing Sunday – Thursday. £50 supplement per room per night Friday and Saturday nights (please note some Friday / Saturday nights require a minimum 2 night stay which can be added on at the Best Available Rate. This offer can be upgraded to a Feature or Indulgent room category for £50.00 supplement per room per night)

For more information on the hotel please visit their website – http://kingshead-hotel.co.uk/

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My tips for creating a Swedish style kitchen

My tips for creating a Swedish Kitchen          

  • I have decorated my kitchen in linens from my Swedish Collection. When designing these, I hoped to create fabrics to bridge the gap between town and country being both classic and contemporary.
  •  Wooden floors are a must in any kitchen! They are practical for the muddy wellies, dogs, cats, the occasional chicken … and general kitchen traffic! Other great options are ceramic tiles or stone flags , both easy clean options.
  • For the wall colour, I chose a bright and warm orange, it’s social and motivational and works well with lots of other colours.
  • On the kitchen table, I’ve used my  Dawn Chorus oilcloth because is it light and cheery and perfect for protecting the top!
  • I  up-cycled a selection of vintage chairs, painting  them and sewing a variety of seat cushions using Up the Garden Path which picks out the vibrant orange of the walls, and the more subtle Stockholm Stripe and Pretty Maids.
  • For the kitchen cupboards – A mish-mash of old wooden cupboards are unified by being painted a gentle cream which works well with the brightly coloured walls. I have stapled fabric behind the chicken wire in a base unit for a country feel; this is inexpensive and visually breaks up the run of wooden cupboards.
  • Add some accessories, you can make a matching tea cosy and a few tea towels , nice touches and great way of  using up scraps!
  • For the lighting, I found a low central metal light fitting works well, you can hang it over your table for writing and playing after dinner board games.

 

My Swedish Kitchen

My Swedish Kitchen

Dawn Chorus in Duck Egg, Pumpkin and Winter

Dawn Chorus in Duck Egg, Pumpkin and Winter

Pretty Maids in Duck Egg, Pumpkin and W

Pretty Maids in Duck Egg, Pumpkin and W

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Guest Blog from Flora Arbuthnott – Natural Dyeing with Native Trees

Flora Arbuthnott, daughter of Vanessa explains the amazing natural dyes all which can be found right outside our front doors and why now is the perfect time to find them.

Dye your clothes with an autumn palette of colours extracted from woodland trees and hedgerow plants, and blend in to the woods. As the nights lengthen, the temperature drops, and the energy of trees and plants goes down into the roots and outward into the seeds. This is the time for gathering the bounty of fruits, nuts, roots, and barks for natural dyeing, as well as food and medicines.

Wild edges of hedges and woodlands are abundant with native berries. Drinking a stock of blackberries, elderberries, rowan, guelder rose, and hawthorn berries fortify our immune systems ready for the harsh winter months. Notice how they stain your skin. These berries dye fabric pink, purple, orange, and grey. Growing in amongst the hedge is lady’s bedstraw, a straggly plant that produces a red dye from the roots. Dig up one year old dock roots and dandelion roots for golden yellow colours, and a few burdock roots to roast for your dinner.

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Along the riverbank, find meadowsweet roots for a black dye, this could be confused with a young bramble if not for it’s distinctive red stem, alternate tiny leaves and large leaves, and the distinctive smell of antiseptic. Along the river, the Alder tree grows. When the tree is cut, the wood turns from white to red as if bleeding, this red dye can be extracted from the bark.

In the woods, look for trees rich with tannin. The mighty oak offers a golden brown dye obtained from the tannin filled galls and small pieces of bark. This can be transformed to a black ink with the addition of iron oxide. All parts of the walnut tree are used for dyeng. The outer green cases of the nuts produce deep browns and black. Apple and cherry barks offer soft pinks and oranges. Birch bark gives tan, brown and sometimes pink.

Curiously, many natural dye plants have healing properties for the skin. Meadowsweet and oak can be used as antiseptic. Alder leaves are put in the shoes of those walking great distances to ease their weary feet. Apple is a powerful cleanser of wounds as the juice restores skin tissue. Lay the internal side of Birch bark against the skin to relieve muscle pain. Dried Ladys bedstraw is stuffed in mattresses to repel insects, and the roots are used to dye sheets to prevent bedsores. By dyeing our clothes with these trees and plants, we are healing and protecting our skin with a rich aray of autumn colours that help us to blend into the season.

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Guest Blog from Flora Arbuthnott – Shibori Dyeing

 

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Flora Arbuthnott, daughter of Vanessa explains the ancient process of Shibori dyeing and the beautiful results you can achieve with this simple technique. Have a go yourself at home or book a course with Flora and get creating! 

Whether you choose to twist, stitch, scrumple, fold, turn, bind, or clamp the fabric, there are infinite possibilities of patterns with shibori.

Shibori is a traditional Japanese resist technique for creating patterns on fabric. Itajime is a quick and simple shibori technique of clamping folded fabric between two shaped blocks, fastening with a clamp, or string. The effect is satisfyingly immediate, enabling you to create dramatic geometric patterns in minutes. As well as using scrap wood to cut interesting shape blocks, it is also fun to use found objects. Buttons can be used for small circles, and jar lids are effective for large circles. Clothes pegs and bulldog clips can also make small marks with surprising effects. Bind thread around screws and baking beads for circular patterns, or simply tie the fabric in knots for a rippled effect. If you have nothing to hand, simply tying string around concertina folded fabric has beautiful effects.

In Japan, the shibori folded fabric is traditionally dipped in an indigo dye vat to create deep pure blue. The indigo is extracted from various plants that grow around the world, mainly Japanese indigo, Indigo Fera Tinctora, and Woad. The indigo is not water soluble, so a chemical or biological reaction is needed to extract the blue colour and set it in the cloth. Originally this was found through dipping fabric in a vat of indigo and stale urine (ammonia). The fabric would come out green and then oxidise in the air turning blue. Today, There are many different methods of creating an indigo vat. Michel Garcia has developed a natural method called the 1-2-3 vat combining an alkali (lime) and a reducing agent (fructose) with the indigo.

It is important to use natural fibres, such as linen, hemp, or organic cotton as the synthetic fibres will not bind with the indigo. Hand woven fabric lends itself well as the weave is looser allowing the dye to seep through the folds, achieving an even colour across the fabric, on the other hand, texture can really add to a design. Using this simple technique, of shibori and indigo, you can make yourself linen cushion covers, geometric scarves, and breathe new life in to old clothes.


Clothes pegs
Different effectsIndigo vatButton Circles

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