Vanessa Arbuthnott

November Mood board – Inspired by Westonbirt

This month we have been inspired by the beautiful colours at Westonbirt Arboretum here in Gloucestershire. Nature is often the source of ideas for Vanessa’s designs both in colour and pattern and for November we have chosen warm Raspberry and Cranberry shades along with earthy Stone and Mushroom, reminiscent of autumn leaves and branches . Try using a soft, neutral colour on the walls, something like Portland Stone by The Little Greene Paint Company.

Mix small and large scale patterns – this will stop the room from feeling too busy. If you have wooden or stone floors, invest in a good quality rug to help keep the room feeling warm.

Our favourite November fabrics:

Cow Parsley in Cranberry and Stone

Fern and Dragonfly in Raspberry

Acorn and Leaf in Mushroom

Rainbow Rug woven by Solva Woolen Mill in Pembrokeshire

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October Mood Board – Terracotta and Charcoal


Heading into the autumn and winter months, now is a good time to make sure your home is cosy and comforting for the cold weather and darker nights ahead. Shades of orange, especially Terracotta and Damasks are wonderful when mixed with greys and blues to create a warm and welcoming interior. Be inspired by nature at this time of year…think pumpkins, falling leaves, autumnal fruits and branches. A mix of textures is also important for creating a soothing scheme, try adding in some velvets or tweeds and draping a cosy throw over the back of the sofa.

We love:

Lapland Stripe in Cornflower, Terracotta and Damask 

Harris Tweed in Storm

Simple Ticking Detail in Charcoal

Up the Garden Path in Teal

Wild and Free in Damask, Brick

Throws by Lauras Loom – the Hogwill Classic is a favourite in our showroom


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Curtains or Blinds?

When to choose curtains and when to choose blinds…it’s an interesting dilemma.

In a room with many windows you don’t want to have curtains is every window, neither do you want to have blinds in every window so having a mixture can be the best answer. Hang soft, warm, luxuriant curtains in windows where they have room to breathe. This could be French doors or the largest window in the room, then hang blinds in smaller less accessible windows. It is best not to have more than 2 big pairs of curtains in one average sized room… it’s a real visual balancing act. A large scale pattern like Songbirds (below in Buttercup, Clay and Charcoal) lends itself really well to big windows.

The other plus of a mixture of two window treatments, is that you can use more than one pattern: maybe stripes or spots on the blinds and a larger scale pattern for the curtains. Too many blinds and no curtains can create a plain and less cosy feel. Curtains are also brilliant at helping to reduce noise levels in a room as they literally absorb sound: especially useful in a dining area where people can get vociferous! Here I have used a Plain Linen in Dove for roman blinds which provide a subtle backdrop for the full length curtains in Simple Ticking Detail in Charcoal.

If you have radiators under windows try an interlined roman blind and curtains. You can drop the blind when the radiator is on and you still have the lovely softness of curtains to draw when the radiators are turned off.

In the room below, I have teamed Up the Garden Path in Mushroom for the blinds with a Pretty Maids design in Mushroom, Teal and Winter.

We can make all of your blinds and curtains for you, exactly as you’d like them. Have a look at our range of made to measure items here…

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September Mood board – Blue and Saffron

Two colours not often seen together, rich blues and sunny saffrons are a lovely combination which work well in living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms. A bold statement wall, painted in a dark blue can be really dramatic and you can keep warmth in the room by adding some paler fabrics and splashes of yellows. A light limed floor works particularly well with these shades…

Here I have used my Gypsy Garland fabric, for an eye catching headboard and then an assortment of other designs in Cornflower and Denim blues for a patchwork quilt. The Gypsy Garland design has also been made into a frilled cushion to sit on the bed and some fresh yellow flowers sit on the bedside table. The white linen curtains in my For the Love of Rose Cornflower create a good visual balance of light and dark shades in this bedroom.

Darker shades of blue are serene and calming, mixed with splashes of yellow through the fabrics and flowers keep the room from feeling cold.

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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: 

IMG_0098 IMG_0119 IMG_0113


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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


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 the most of your garden!

Hard to believe, given the wet weather we’ve been having recently, but summer is fast approaching! 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 Vanessa has drawn up a helpful list of inspirational ideas and top tips, as well as advice on colours and

1. Invest in a good furniture set: wood is ideal for all styles of garden as it’s durable and timeless. Maintain its good condition by keeping it undercover in the winter months and protect it with varnish or paint. For added zing, why not cover some director’s chairs in fabrics such as Stockholm Stripe in Teal, Lime and Winter.

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 to ring in the changes.

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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 laid back evening meal ‘al aperto’.

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10. Keep your little adventurers happy by creating a teepee, using colourful fabrics, bunting and plenty of cushions. Hours of endless fun for the children, or a sophisticated retreat for a grown-up (or two)…

11. Create a breezy, seaside feel for your outdoor space, with runners and napkins in Scandi Stripe in Cool. You can feel as though you’ve gone to the beach without ever leaving your garden!

12. What could be more quintessentially English than a cosy garden hut: the perfect retreat from the stress of everyday life, and a welcoming bower even when it’s raining outside! Banks of cushions in a variety of vibrant colours and uplifting motifs will brighten the dullest of English days!

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