French exterior goodness

This post is not so much about interiors, but exteriors.  Our trip to the amazingly beautiful Ile de Re and then south west France gave me the opportunity to photograph breathtaking French architecture that has been a constant inspiration to me. I love the simplicity of French architecture rather than the more fussy, opulent aspects of some French interiors.  I hope these images inspire you as much as they inspired me.

The Ile de Re is absolutely stunning.  We stayed in a hotel called La Baronnie, which was nestled right next to the bustling harbour of St. Martin.

St. Martin Ile de Re

The symmetry of these coastal houses is so appealing. The light render, window shutters and terracotta roof tiles are all synonymous with French architecture.

St. Martin Ile de Re

The back entrance of La Baronnie lies off this little street.

French chateau with window shutters

I love the look of windows with shutters; they frame these beautiful tall, slim windows.

Vintage metal garden furniture

Wonderful antique metal furniture in La Baronnie gardens that just look so ‘French’.

French chateau garden

Although each part of La Baronnie is a different shape and size they are all tied together by their colour and roof tiles. This cohesive look is another aspect of French architecture that appeals to me.

French chateau with window shutters

Paint work on a lot of French buildings always looks so tasteful as a limited colour palette is used that includes grey, sage green, verdigris and duck egg blue.

French chateau terrace

Simple, cohesive outdoor furniture.

wood clad french chateau bedroom

Our room was clad in wood with exposed beams and painted floorboards. This style reflects being next to the sea and the light. The typical French toile de jouy bed linen is palatable (usually far too fussy for me) as this is the only print used in the room.

wood clad french chateau bedroom

The furniture in the room is sparse and simple, which makes the room feel more modern.

The pretty windows are framed with internal shutters and floaty white curtains to ensure the light can reach every corner of the room.

Small details like the sheer curtain across this door and the door handle instantly create the unique French style.

By using glass between the bathroom and bedroom it means the window-less bathroom is as light as possible.

wood clad french chateau bathroom

The bathroom is also clad in white wood with painted white floorboards.

We then travelled on to the Chateau de Lalande, whose architecture is as French as can be.

French Chateau

A beautiful example of an original French Chateau.

Ivy covered French Chateau

The ivy covering is very French.

Ivy covered French Chateau

The grandness of this Chateau is softened by the ivy and wisteria.

Hydrangeas at French Chateau

Hydrangeas line the entrance to the chateau and they reflect the blue of the shutters.

Ivy covered French Chateau

White, metal garden furniture would be more appropriate in this garden.

Swimming pool at Ivy covered French Chateau

The effort that has been put into this pergola absolutely covered in wisteria adds to the style of this Chateau.

French wallpaper

This is not to my taste but the chateau is decorated in opulent, old fashioned French style throughout.


I will be back as soon as I can be!



I love all types of crockery, porcelain and ceramics. Using beautiful plates to hang on walls means you can fully appreciate them and they can be hung anywhere in your home. Best of all, you can pick up the prettiest and cheapest of plates from charity shops, antique fairs and eBay.

Here are some ideas for hanging plates in your home.

Burleigh and Shelley plates hanging in kitchen

Collection of antique Burleigh and Shelley plates hanging on kitchen beam.  All plates were bought on ebay for between £2 and £10. eBay is a good place to get a bargain.

Combine antique and new plates for an eclectic look.

These plates make a feature out of the chimney breast.

Bold collection of plates.

Solid, coloured plates make a design statement, almost like polka dots.

Vintage plates hung in work space

Vintage plates add inspiration to this work space.

Choose plates based on their colour like this bue and white collection.

A collection of plates in all different sizes and shapes that are drawn together by similar illustrations.

Hanging plates

Hang pretty mis-matching floral plates together.

A display of plates on a kitchen wall.

Overlap plates for an interesting display.

A vertical display of plates is a good option for long slim wall spaces like this.

Hanging plates

Hang plates in a symmetrical display.

Fornasetti collection of plates

A black and white tableau of Fornasetti plates makes a bold statement.

Make your plate wall humorous, definitely a generator for conversation.


If you would like to begin your own plate collection have a look at some of these relatively inexpensive options:

Set of four art deco vintage plates

Set of four art deco tea plates. Buy online from Not On The High Street for £24.99.

Bohemian set of four plates. Buy online from Not On The High Street for £45.

Set of four vintage art deco plates. Buy online from Not On The High Street for £25.

Burleigh pottery plate

Burleigh pottery Asiatic Pheasants collection. Buy online for £5.85.

Retro plates featuring Royal festival Hall image

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain Mini Moderns has designed a range of porcelain plates featuring icons and motifs from the original Festival of Britain in 1951. A bargain at £18, I’d say.

Liberty plate

1950 Festival cake plate. Buy online from Liberty £27.50 (treat yourself!)

Natural World plates from Anthropologie

Natural World plates from Anthropologie. Buy online from Anthropologie for £16.

Artist Tom Frost’s wildlife plate set £20.

Anthropologie dinner plate

Francophile dinner plate, one of a collection from Anthropologie. Buy online for £24.


An alternative to plate wires, disc plate hangers are ideal for hanging plates and have been successfully used in England for many decades. They are easy to use and will not damage your plates. Click on the picture to buy these online for a couple of pounds.

Wire plate hanger

White wire rack allowing a plate to be mounted to the wall using an existing hook. The wire is sprung to ensure the plate is firmly gripped. Click on the picture to buy these online for less than £1.


Old school trunk

I love a bit of make-do. It’s not possible to run out and buy every beautiful piece of furniture you see and it’s important not to dispose of things “just because”. My mum went to boarding school and therefore had a school trunk, which I used to see in my grandparents’ garden shed as a child.  More recently, when I saw the trunk I knew I could make it into a fully functional piece of furniture that would last forever.  I decided to turn it into a coffee table that would double as storage.  However, I wanted to make it as versatile as possible so I added castors that would allow me to move it around my sitting room as and when needed.  The castors also add some height to it, which make it table-like.

You will need:

1. Vintage trunk or steamer chest

2. x4 castors (choose the size according to the size of your trunk)

3. x4 pieces of mdf (about twice the size of the base of the castor)

4. x16 screws (long enough to drill into the pieces of mdf but not too long that they go through the base of the trunk)

5. Wood glue

6. Screw driver or drill

Old school trunk

You will need: Old school trunk

You will need: Choose castors like these that are lined with rubber so they won’t ruin your floor covering.
Click on the picture to buy these online for £3.30 each.


1. Using the wood glue stick the four pieces of mdf on the base of the trunk. Position them where you will want the castors. You need these pieces of wood because generally the skin of a trunk is very thin so if you tried to drill the castors straight into the trunk the castors would not be very stable and liable to tear the skin of the trunk. Make sure you leave the glue to dry for a couple of hours.

Castor on vintage school trunk

2. Drill the castors into each piece of wood.

Vintage trunk upcycled into coffee table

All finished. How easy was that?

The trunk is now not only a coffee table but it provides a lot of storage. You can fill it with heavy objects and it will still be easy to move as and when needed because of the castors.

I love the vintage feel the trunk brings to my sitting room.

The fact that the trunk still has my mum’s name stuck inside makes me love this piece of furniture even more.


If you, too, would like to buy an old trunk then there are some options from online shops but these do tend to be quite pricey. By far the cheapest way to buy an old trunk is to use eBay: I bought one recently for less than £30.

Vintage metal trunks and chests.

Vintage metal trunks from Scaramanga £100

Vintage old school trunk

Vintage 1920s trunk with original railway labels from Lassco £135


Vintage and shabby chic trunk used as a coffee table.

Trunk used as a coffee table in front of the fire.

Vintage luggage used as storage in bedroom

Vintage luggage used as storage in bedroom.

Stacked vintage trunks

Stack trunks to be used as a lamp table.

Trunk coffee table at Foster House

At Foster House, a photography and film location they have used a trunk as a coffee table in this vintage-inspired sitting room.


Victorian pine toy-chest.

Shabby chic vintage trunk for storage of blankets and quilts.

Store blankets and quilts in an old trunk.

Vintage luggage and trunks used as a bedside table.

Stacked to make a bedside table.

Vintage suitcase upcycled into a bathroom cabinet.

An old suitcase made into a unique bathroom cabinet. Click on the image to find out how to make this.

Upcycled vintage suitcase.

Vintage suitcase with legs added to change its use.


Storage is always a huge problem that sometimes drives me a bit mad because I feel every storage solution deprives me of precious space.  In our guest room/home office space is a big issue and we can not afford to lose the space a wardrobe uses.  Therefore, when we do have guests they have nowhere to put their clothes.  I have found the solution to this is very simply to use hooks instead of a wardrobe.  They take up no floor space and hooks can look very nice if you invest in good ones (going cheap does not always pay off).  When we don’t have guests they can also be used for our wardrobe overspill or laundry.

Even though there is space at the bottom of the bed to put a wardrobe it would make this room feel very small and awkward.

These hooks have been custom made to reach across the whole wall of this guest room so that lots of potential clutter can be hung up.

If a wardrobe had been placed where these hooks are the whole room would have lost its light, bright appeal.

Painting the hooks the same colour as the walls can make them merge into the background if you do not want to draw attention to them.

Hooks hanging in guest room

This white, light guest room is not crowded out with a wardrobe.

Having a shelf above the hooks adds lots of extra storage, especially helpful in small nurseries, where wardrobes are an impossibility.

Hooks hanging in guest room.

A wardrobe would not have fitted in to this small space.

Having extra floor space can make a guest room feel a lot more comfortable.

Hooks hanging in bedroom at Foster House.

Use hooks to display your prettiest clothes.

Hooks and shelf

These hooks show well how they can be used practically and to display treasured possessions.

Hooks hanging at Foster House

Get bags, coats, scarves off the floor.


These are some of my favourite hooks if you want to give it a go.

Rustic hooks with shelf and could be painted to match your wall colour if needed. Click to buy them online from Not On The High Street for £47.

Love these especially because they have been reduced from £115 to £34 in the Heals sale. Click on the picture to buy them online from Heals.

I like these simple ceramic hooks from Anthropologie. Click on the picture to buy them here for £10.


Add a modern, retro feel to your room with these Eames hooks. Click on the picture to buy them online from Heals for £198.

These are very similar to the hooks that I bought for my guest room. CLick on the picture to buy them online from Scaramanga for £40.

A good cheap option from Graham and Greene. Click on the picture to buy them online for £6.

A design statement with this “luggage rack”. Click on the picture to buy them online from Graham and Greene for £138.

These atomic metal hooks would create a retro feel. Buy similar ones on eBay.


How to hang

Collections of personal photographs are not only a much cheaper option to buying art but they also make a house or apartment feel homely. When I see certain photos in my home they make me smile every time I pass them. They also engage visitors and start funny conversations or encourage reminiscing.

TIPS for hanging pictures:

1. Always make paper cut-outs of the photographs you want to hang (I always use newspaper). Stick these on the wall temporarily (with blu-tack or non-tacky tape) to help you map out the shape you want to create.

2. Always use two hooks when hanging large photographs as otherwise you will end up constantly straightening a wonky picture.

3. When hanging a group of framed photographs using an odd number will look best.

4. Usually you should follow the rule that photographs should be hung at eye level. Always consider whether the viewer will be sitting or standing.

5. Consider the proportions of your room when deciding what size photographs to hang and which frames to use. If it is a large room with large pieces of furniture you will want to upscale the size of the frames.

Use newspaper templates to help you plan your collection of photographs without leaving lots of unwanted holes in your wall.


Look at these pictures of different collections of photographs to inspire your own collection.

Framed old family photographs

Old black and white family photographs combined with more recent images add interest.

Collection of framed photogrpahs

Add a mirror to your collection for variety.

Collection of framed photogrpahs

Larger photographs can be framed to make an impact.

Patricia Herrara's home for Vogue, a collection of framed photographs.

If you use the same frame for each photograph the overall effect is much more cohesive.

Ikea frames

Really cheap Ikea frames arranged freely with a clock added for variety.

Collection of black and white photographs

Displaying only black and white photos of the same size and using the same frames creates a much more uniform and sophisticated look.

Old family photographs

Old family and school photos instantly attract attention and generate discussion.

Collection of black and white photographs

Even if collections of photographs are not hung properly they still add charm to a room.

A very large collection of framed photographs that cover a whole wall.

A very large collection of photographs can completely cover a wall.

How to hang pictures

This look can be achieved by sticking a piece of masking tape in a straight line horizontally. You then need to hang the pictures either above or below the line.

A collection of framed photographs in the hallway is always a good way to make an otherwise a potentially boring space a point of interest.

Get framing and hanging.