Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Highlights From Gardeners' World 2012

Last week I visited Gardeners’ World Live at the NEC in Birmingham. This was my first visit to a garden show of this scale and so was unsure about what to expect.
The RHS Floral Marquee was packed full of ideas and inspiration. I have to say that I was really impressed by the scale of the stands put on by the various associations and nurseries.
Amazing Alliums
Just a small part of Birmingham City Councils award-winning display
Lilies in all their splendour
The show gardens outside were impressive and gave lots of design inspiration. The Water Wise Garden below shows how plants can adapt to dry conditions and how waste water can be collected and re-used, perfect if we are to face more hosepipe bans!
The Water Wise Garden by Brett Hardy

Coming Out To Play? by Adam Frost
The main highlight for me though was seeing my gardening hero Monty Don. The presenter of the BBC gardening programme Gardeners’ World and a self-taught gardener, gave a frank and insightful talk on the filming of Gardeners World which takes place in his own garden in Herefordshire. Having seen and heard him live I can only say that I admire him even more!
Monty Don
In all I had a great day out and spoke to some interesting people who are passionate about what they do and I left feeling inspired, ready to tackle my own garden - after I rested my aching feet!

If you feel inspired to get gardening Homes & Dreams sells a wonderful range of gardening accessories from Burgon & Ball, Sophie Conran, Hawes and Gardening Trading. You can find them at http://www.homesanddreams.co.uk/the-country-garden-8-c.asp 

Monday, 11 June 2012

The Great British Strawberry Season

Image: Garden Organic

It is that time of year again when British strawberries ripen and herald the start of Summer. June is the start of the British strawberry season, synonymous with Summer they are only in season for a brief time, from early June through to August.

By far the best strawberries to buy have to be from a local producer. A day out strawberry picking can be fun; supermarkets may sell the cotton wool impostors cheaply but the flavour is incomparable to home grown fruits.

Strawberries were originally called strewberries because when growing they appear to have been thrown about. After various name changes they ended up as strawberries after the straw that was used as a mulch to surround them when growing.

In medieval Great Britain newly weds enjoyed strawberries, borage and soured cream for their wedding breakfast believing them to be an aphrodisiac. The heart shaped fruit has long been a symbol of purity, passion, and healing. In the 18th century farmers would fill baskets with the berries and tie them to the horns of their cattle as an offering to elves who, it was believed, could help them produce a good supply of milk.

5 Facts About Strawberries

1. 5 strawberries provide more vitamin C than an entire orange 

2. 100 grams of strawberries contain approx 30 calories

3. Strawberries were cultivated by the Romans as early as 200 BC

4. Roughly 27,000 kilos of strawberries are eaten during the Wimbledon Championships

5. On average there are 200 tiny seeds on each berry

So pour the Pimms, get set for Wimbledon and enjoy the British strawberry season! 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

What Is Your Dream Home?

Many of us dream of a home in the country, a rural escape where money is no object, where the practicalities of commutes and school league tables don't matter. How sweet life would be without the constant traffic and the need to earn a living!

Would your dream home be a Georgian rectory with an classic symmetrical facade? A roses around the door cottage topped with thatch?
 Or how about something grander, a manor house with oak paneling and secret passage ways. Or would it be a piece of working history, a converted barn or mill?

Given the choice I would opt for a mellow stone cottage topped with a slate roof, built into a hillside overlooking a lush green valley and surrounded by nature. How about you - what's your dream home?

images via Pinterest

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Displaying Vintage Treasures

If you're a collector of vintage treasures it can be challenging to find suitable ways of displaying your collections. Decorative objects often have more of an impact when grouped together and displayed en-mass rather than scattered around a room, here we take a look at some of the ways of doing just that.

  • Cabinets are a good way of housing collections that have their own curiosity value but don't necessarily blend with a rooms decor.Painting the cabinet or lining the back with wallpaper can incorporate a collection into a room.
  • Old black and white or sepia tinted photographs can be hard to display among lighter, fresher colour schemes. Try hanging them in a hall or passage way where they can be seen in passing rather than dominating a living room.
  • Vintage bottles look more impressive grouped together rather than used individually. Place them in wall mounted shadow boxes or line them up on shelves.
  • A collection of vintage books can be stacked as a platform for other decorative objects or give extra height to a table lamp.
  • Wall hung groupings are a great way to display some objects. Vintage tea towels or aprons make unusual wall art in the kitchen.

So, if you have a collection of vintage items group them together for the greatest visual impact. You will enjoy seeing your collection together and your friends and family will get great pleasure from seeing your beautiful vintage treasures too!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Country Colours

Whether or not you live in the country, you can enjoy a simpler way of life by decorating your home in a modern country style and one of the key elements of doing this is through use of colour.

Modern country colours are natural, muted and subtle - think of the shades that are found in nature sage, moss, slate, clay, duck egg and chalk.


Qualities - Cool, Clear, Fresh
Grey is a versatile neutral colour to decorate with in the home and comes in many shades from Dove to Slate. Teamed with pale blues it looks clean and fresh or alternatively with taupe it takes on a warmer, earthier look. Furniture and panelling painted in pale grey take on a elegant Scandinavian look.


Qualities - Organic, Restful, Natural
The colour of freshly emerging leaves or muted sage, decorating with green in any shade is like bringing the outdoors into your home. Green is restful and rejuvenating, use apple green for a fresh summery look or olive for a rustic, autumnal feel.


Qualities - Warm, Comforting, Relaxed
Calm and comforting, oatmeal is a perfect neutral base colour. Add white to keep it fresh and modern and plenty of texture to offset the muted effect. Honey tones and rich browns will add depth while tones of stone and slate will cool it down.


Qualities - Cool, Crisp, Clean
Cool blue creates a clean and crisp colour scheme, think blue and white stripes in a classic seaside beach house. Often seen as a cold colour add ivory or oatmeal for warmth or add pure white cotton and paintwork to keep the look fresh and modern.  

All pictures from Design Seeds

Monday, 16 April 2012

National Gardening Week

National Gardening Week - Home

From the 16th to the 22nd of April 2012 National Gardening Week has been launched by the RHS to get the nation growing.

"Thousands of people across the country are coming together and getting involved to enjoy, share and celebrate everything about gardens and gardening.

Communities and organisations are pulling out all the stops to host garden open days, garden parties, quizzes, plant swaps and a wealth of other activities to share advice or lend helping hands to friends, neighbours and the local community."

 You can find out more at www.nationalgardeningweek.org.uk and don't forget  - if you need any gardening tools and garden accessories we have a lovely range to get you started!

 Sophie Conran Gardening Trowel - £14.95

Happy Gardening!

Friday, 6 April 2012

Happy Easter!

Wishing you all a Happy Easter, hope you have a 'cracking' time this weekend x

Monday, 2 April 2012

Creating Modern Country Kitchens

A true country kitchen is what many of us wish for in our own homes, whether or not our homes are surrounded by fields and farms it’s possible to evoke that classic country kitchen feel even if you live in the most urban of settings. For many people choosing to adopt a less formal, more relaxed style of home the country style kitchen is an ideal way to achieve this.

The kitchen and dining area of a home are one place where the modern country look can be easily achieved. In today's country kitchen old and new are cleverly combined - traditional furniture sits alongside sleek modern appliances while warm natural finishes are offset by stainless steel accessories.

Adding Modern Country Style to Your Kitchen

In terms of style 'modern' and 'country' may seem like polar opposites, however these two styles can be effectively combined to create a kitchen that is both warm and welcoming and yet completely up to date. 

The key to creating a modern country kitchen is getting the correct balance between the more traditional elements such as the cabinetry whilst accommodating the modern essentials such as the lighting and appliances. 

  • Materials - Think of the materials used in the kitchen - slate, granite, stone and natural wood, they wear well and are compatible in both modern and country interiors.
  • Colour - Keep the main colours soft and neutral and add accents of deeper colours such as cherry red, sage green or shaker blue. By using paler neutral colours on the walls it will keep the room light and airy and will make it look more spacious. 
  • Appliances - Key appliances are often integrated behind doors to keep in with the traditional style. Range cookers are the perfect centerpiece for the modern country kitchen and look great nestled into the chimney breast of the kitchen.
  • Cabinetry - Cabinets should be simple - shaker style or tongue and grooved in solid wood, either painted in a subtle colour or left natural.

By adding modern country style to your kitchen you will enjoy a room that has the warmth and comfort associated with country living combined with the essentials required for modern day life.

Photos from www.housetohome.co.uk

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The First Day Of Spring

Happy first day of Spring......From now on days are slightly longer, the nights a little shorter and hopefully the weather will be a bit warmer! 

Thursday, 15 March 2012

The Year of the Garden

It was inevitable that this year would be the year of the garden here at Homes & Dreams. When we bought our house 7 years ago the 1/2 acre plot that it stood in had been neglected for many, many years.

As the house was completed  at the end of last Summer our attention is now occupied by the garden. Over the past few years we have managed to eradicate most the of the brambles that had taken possession over the majority of the garden but other than keeping it relatively tidy the garden has not yet been utilised.

So this week has seen the start of our plans. 50 metres of mixed native hedgerow has been planted which will form the boundary between our new orchard (in which we are planning to grow a selection of Yorkshire heritage varieties) and the adjacent fields.

Sophie Conran Garden Trowel £14.95

So it follows that we would expand our gardening range over on the Homes & Dreams website. I'm really thrilled with our new line of gardening hand tools which are designed by Sophie Conran. The tools which include trowels, forks, dibbers and weeders are a joy to use - not only are they stylish but they are also manufactured by the UK's longest standing garden tool manufacturer and if that isn't enough they are beautifully presented in their own presentation box making them a perfect gardening gift!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Signs of Spring

Image via Pinterest
The arrival of March is always welcome here, as for me March heralds the start of things to come and the first signs of Spring make their appearance. Already the snowdrops and crocuses have begun to flower and it won't belong before they are closely followed by other signs of life in the garden.

If you have a garden that attracts birds then you may find that as this month's lighter mornings creep in you may have a tuneful start to the day with the dawn chorus.

The earliest to start the melody are the song thrushes, blackbirds and robins, these sing out to attract a mate and warn off other males. They are soon followed by the wrens, chaffinches and tits and after two or three hours when the sun is fully risen the birds get down to the business of feeding. 

Bird & Insect boxes from £14.95
  With this in mind we have just introduced a beautiful range of bird boxes and feeders. Designed by Sophie Conran they not only look good in the garden but are practical too with removable nest boxes and trays to make them easy to clean.

So if like me you love to awake to the sound of the dawn chorus then why not encourage a larger choir into your garden this Spring.

Monday, 27 February 2012

The Start of Things to Come....

Have you noticed anything different about the website and blog lately?

Yep, we have a new logo! Actually there's a lot more going on behind the scenes here at the moment (and I can't wait to share it with you) but for now the new logo marks the start of new phase here at Homes & Dreams.

Over the last few weeks I have been taking part in a fantastic, thought provoking course run by Fiona Humberstone at Flourish Studios. The course, entitiled 'Branding Masterclass' will I'm sure mark the start of many exciting changes and already light bulbs are pinging and great ideas stacking up.......so, as they say - be sure to watch this space!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Count Your Chickens!

Yesterday I was having a conversation about keeping chickens as it's something I've been longing to do for some time now. We grow our own and have a small orchard and so hen keeping just seemed like a natural progression. I was lost in the thought of freshly laid eggs for breakfast and baking and having the girls to keep me company while gardening......

Photo: Little Emma English Home

However, just as I was locking up for the night a movement in the moonlight caught my eye - and there they were, a shadowy pair of foxes trotting silently along the field side of my garden.

A timely reminder of the reality of keeping chickens don't you think?

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Antiques ARE Green

As a source of vintage homewares Homes & Dreams are proud to support the aims of the 'Antiques Are Green' campaign.

The sole purpose of the campaign when it began in 2009 was to raise awareness of antiques being environmentally friendly. Antiques are items that have been recycled for many generations which means any carbon footprint in making them has long gone and they are recycled by handing them down to family members and friends or by selling them on through a dealer or by auction. By passing them on in this way, we are helping to conserve natural resources.

Antiques are Green.org was launched “to promote the green credentials of antiques”. This not-for-profit campaign aims is to get antiques recognised for their genuine green credentials “sustainable, re-usable and re-saleable”.

The importance of protecting the environment cannot be understated. The environment is not ours to destroy, but something which we have been given to protect for future generations. The “green movement” has focused on achieving this goal by reducing fossil fuel emissions and preventing deforestation. These endeavours have made huge inroads, but as a world we need to consume less and reuse more - “antiques are a perfect way to take the green movement into our homes”.
As more consumers become sensitive to green issues it is hoped that this will help boost trade and help consumers realise they are making a genuinely green purchase. Antiques are a great buy, good value for money and a very enjoyable, sustainable purchase. This web site brings together a wide selection of items offered from all types of businesses, which will continue to be added to. Future development of the site is also planned. In September 2010 the antiques trade commissioned a carbon footprint analysis of an antique chest of drawers against its modern equivalent - the results speak for themselves-the new item had a carbon footprint 16 times higher than the antique' - taken from the Antiques are Green website.

The aims of the Antiques are Green campaign are:

To promote antiques as an alternative form of recycling and conserving natural resources.

o encourage existing consumers and attract a new audience who may not have considered buying antiques before.

To encourage businesses and organisations to consider environmental issues when making decisions related to their business activities.

To offer help and advice to businesses and consumers on reducing their carbon footprint, dependency on fossil fuel and becoming greener.

To promote environmental projects such as tree planting, conservation and protection.

To make a tangible difference and be part of an environmental conscience which permeates all areas of day-to-day life.

We are proud to support the national ‘Antiques are Green’ campaign to encourage consumers to consider antiques, vintage and reclaimed items when it comes to furnishing their homes. For further information on the Antiques are Green campaign visit http://www.antiquesaregreen.org/

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

All Spick & Span

Dolly Pegs £1.65 from Homes & Dreams
Spring cleaning has come early at Homes & Dreams! Last week we decided to reorganise our category pages on the website to make it easier for our customers to find what they are looking for as over the next few months we will be increasing our ranges to offer a larger variety of products.

So now when a customer clicks on one of the main categories on the 'Home' page rather than having to scroll through all the products in that category they will now be able to choose which section they wish to view. We hope that this will make it easier for our customers to find just what they are looking for.

Not only has the website had a tidy but our store room has too - well, all those new goodies will have to go somewhere!

If you are having an early spring clean why not check out out new 'Utility & Boot Room' section. We'll be adding lots of new products over the next month ready for some serious spring cleaning!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

A Last! Our Latest Project

Over a year ago we were contacted regarding our vintage shoe lasts. Would we be able  to provide a large quantity of them for display purposes to an international chain of high street stores?

After plenty of sourcing (on our part), much designing (on their part) and a lot of negotiation (on both parts) we were finally able to come up with an action plan. So over the last year we have been providing a steady quantity of vintage shoe lasts to be made into point of sale displays to go into their stores around the globe.

Just before Christmas we got an email - would we be able to provide 1,500 lasts by the end of January so that they could finish the project? Oh, and could they all be left feet and ladies shoe lasts?

So this week saw us doing a 450 mile round trip to deliver the lasts!

All packed and ready to go.......

So that's it, 1,500 lasts successfully delivered! We can't wait to see how the shoe lasts look on display in the stores.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Industrial Salvage

Ok, so by now you have probably realised that I'm a sucker for industrial and commercial vintage. I love giving a new lease of life to items that are destined for skips (I had to draw a line at the false teeth molds that had just been dumped in a skip during a conversion of an old dentist's surgery though - it was the look on my friends faces that stopped me, otherwise who knows?)

I was happy to discover these vintage wooden bobbins which I think make interesting decoration pieces. These particular bobbins were made by the Wilson Brothers Bobbin Company who manufactured bobbins and shuttles for the cotton industry. Stacked en masse I think that they make an unusual display -

Vintage Bobbins £5.50 from Homes & Dreams

This is how they would have originally been used in cotton mills when Britain was a manufacturing giant.

Commercial and industrial salvage can make a quirky addition to your home and by using reclaimed materials you also achieve an extra green brownie point! At Homes & Dreams we have an ever changing selection of vintage salvage - why not take a look and see how it could be reused in your own home to add interest to your our living space.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

A Busy Start!

Metal Love Letters
Love Letters Were £16.00 Now £12.00

Well firstly a belated Happy New Year to you all!

Here at Homes & Dreams it's been a busy start to the year so far. Just before Christmas a project that we've been working on finally came to fruition (I can't spill the beans yet but will in due course!) and so the beginning of the year has been tied up with that and organising the chaos left over after a very busy December!

As the stock room has been reorganised to make way for our new spring ranges we are having a clearance sale over on the Homes & Dreams website. These are a just a few of the bargains that are still available........

Wooden Heart - Was £3.50 Now £2.50
Ivory Heart - Was £1.50 Now £1.25