Put the bloom into your beauty

There’s nothing like the onset of spring to make you revamp your beauty cupboard. Here are five new beauties that are putting a zing into my step…

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Su-Man Rehydrating Toning Essence, £37

Renowned facialist Su-Man is the woman behind many of the A-Lister’s ageless beauty. The go-to woman for her pioneering technique, which promises the same results as a ‘facelift in an hour’, she has now launched her own skincare line, which means you can get a little piece of her magic, no matter how strapped for time you are. The Rehydrating Toning Essence, one of her hero products, has a unique gel formulation, which transforms into a soothing, watery hydrator on contact with the skin. Unlike many other toners, this doesn’t strip the complexion but instead injects it with moisture. Containing rose petal essence, it leaves skin dewy and refreshed and remarkably soft to touch.

www.su-man.com

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Carolina Herrera 212 Men Surf, £38.50

OK so this one is for the boys but it is so delicious that I had to include it here. A new limited edition fragrance for spring 2014, 212 Men Surf from Carolina Herrera is like a holiday in a bottle. Inspired by the tropics, the fresh scent will put the bounce back in his step with its aquatic notes combined with patchouli and apple. Base notes of amber and musk give it a deeper, masculine heart. What’s more, the gorgeous palm-leaf packaging will look good on any bathroom shelf.

www.carolinaherrera.com

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Good Things Manuka Honey Radiance Face Mask, £5.99

Aimed at young skin, but equally effective for all ages, is this beauty-boosting complexion fix. The creamy mask is rich without being greasy and clears congested skin, leaving it clean and bright. Manuka Honey is rich in anti-oxidants and helps balance the skin’s pH level, so it remains free of blemishes. It also contains white clay, which absorbs impurities. Smells divine, too.

www.goodthingsbeauty.com

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Crabtree & Evelyn Caribbean Island Body Polish, £20

Launching this month, is a new Caribbean inspired range from Crabtree & Evelyn. I love this body polish, which gently foams and exfoliates to leave limbs glowing. After being shrouded in layers over the winter months, an effective body polish is essential for getting skin in tip-top shape for the summer. Grapefruit peel powder and avocado stone granules make up the non-harsh ‘scrub’ element, while glycerine and soybean oil work to moisturise.

www.crabtree-evelyn.co.uk

 

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Kneipp Enjoy Life Lemon Body Wash, £4.45

Great for getting all going of a morning, is Kneipp’s new lemon shower gel, launching this June. Uplifting may chang and lemon essential oils work to clean skin but also to ease stress, tiredness and lift the spirits. It has a soap-free formula and is gentle on the skin so suitable for all ages.

www.graftonsbeauty.com

 

Hot in the kitchen

The kitchen is undoubtedly the heart of our homes but these days we want our rooms to be as practical as they are stylish. From intelligent appliances to the latest ‘in’ colourway, the emerging new trends for 2014 mean we can have our cake and eat it.

 

Fired Earth

Fired Earth

 

Planning a new kitchen is one of our biggest investments – financially and emotionally. A well-thought out kitchen should address the changing needs of a modern family, which frequently means offering efficient cooking space, a dining area and somewhere that is effectively the hub of the home. Take a few tips from the latest trends emerging for this year, and you could create the perfect environment that will stand the test of time.

 

Industrial chic

Alexander and Pearl

 

Over the past few years, kitchen style has become increasingly glossy and streamlined. But, for 2014, there is a more of a leaning towards a ‘warmed-up’ feel, with exposed bricks, reclaimed woods and natural elements being used to give a rough-hewn yet luxury feel to modern-day kitchens.

 

Fired Earth

Fired Earth

Jennifer Shaw, owner of kitchen specialist Kitchenology Ltd (01284 724723; www.kitchenologyltd.co.uk) has seen first-hand the increase in the ‘tasteful rustic’ look:

“Natural materials – especially woods – are making a comeback,” she reveals. “They give more of a homely feel compared to using super-slick finishes all in the same colour, which has been very popular up to late. I’ve noticed people are beginning to mix wood surfaces with their high gloss units. It makes for a warmer feel in the kitchen. Another trend are the new ceramic-fronted kitchens, such as the German AlnoStar Cera range, which we supply. It’s a new way of using a natural material and is proving really popular.”

 

Fired Earth Rhombus Floor

Fired Earth Rhombus Floor

The growing penchant for concrete flooring, open shelving and stainless-steel units evokes an industrial feel – think New York warehouse apartment of the 1980s – but this time with an added luxe factor. The trend reflects our growing appetite for an eco-friendly environment and by using various finishes, perhaps mixed in with a few choice vintage accessories, you can achieve a wonderful ‘layered’ design and eclectic effect. It is the contrast that is the key factor to this look. By blending hardwearing flooring, characterful woods and a twinkling chandelier, for example, you can achieve an individual kitchen which is practical yet bang up-to-date.

Nicholas Anthony

Nicholas Anthony

 

At Nicholas Anthony, the Cambridge-based luxury kitchen designers (0800 0683 603; www.nicholas-anthony.co.uk), managing director Tony Nicholas agrees that authenticity and originality is key for 2014. “Clients want something different and unique to their house, but they also want a style which will not date,” he says. “Reclaimed woods, industrial surfaces and finishes that have character work well against super-tech appliances and you can easily make each kitchen bespoke. Nicholas Anthony prides itself on offering great-looking kitchens that fuse form and function.”

 

Urbane Living

Urbane Living

For those looking for a quick update, consider simply changing one element of your room for a dramatic effect. Revamp flooring, for instance, by choosing the new ‘worn’ finishes. Flooring experts Urbane Living (020 7138 38 38; www.urbaneliving.co.uk) has a wide selection of carefully sourced timber floorboards, such as the Worn Engineered Oak Flooring, which comes in wonderfully wide boards. Each board is crafted by hand and has a lightly distressed appearance, as if it has been naturally aged.

 

At Granite Transformations (01223 843333; www.granitetransformations.co.uk), meanwhile, you can reimagine your kitchen surfaces without the upheaval of tearing out the old, with its ‘top that fits on top’ philosophy. As well as its many granite options, it supplies a choice of characterful quartz agglomerate surfaces, made from a hard mineral rock that originates from sandstone, and which displays the natural features and tones of quartzite.

 

Rencraft

Rencraft

Perhaps fitting this trend most, though, are the striking rough-cut front edge worktops available at luxury kitchen designers Rencraft (01732 762682; www.rencraft.co.uk).“We are seeing lots of interest in creating a more stripped-back raw look,” says John Stephens, director of Rencraft. “This rustic look fits nicely with our rough-cut edge worktops, giving an industrial yet homely feel. They give a unique contrast to the smooth surface of cabinetry and can be complemented with simple brick splash backs and wire accessories.”

 

 

New Metals

Gone are the days when chrome and stainless steel dominated our kitchens. Hardware, lighting and accessories in warm metals, such as copper, graphite and bronze, have made a triumphant comeback from their Victorian heyday.

 

Rencraft

Rencraft

“We have seen a big increase in customers asking for warmer metals in the kitchen this season,” continues John Stephens, director of Rencraft. “Brass and copper handles give a timeless finish and a classic feel and there are lots of choices available. This particular trend is great for those who don’t want to replace their whole kitchen but want to keep up-to-date.”

 

Katharine Pooley

Katharine Pooley

Award-winning interior designer Katharine Pooley (020 7548 3223; www.katharinepooley.com) is increasingly using copper in her designs, due to its flexibility and contemporary feel.

Katharine Pooley

Katharine Pooley

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Katharine says: “There has been a strong return to copper due to the warm, natural yet stand-out quality that it provides in both traditional and contemporary settings. I love using it within projects due to its versatility as a material, it can be used a subtle accent for lighting and fittings within a kitchen or as a statement design feature. Due to the properties of the metal, copper takes on many guises with a variety of looks achievable, from its natural state to an array of colours available if the material is oxidised. Highly polished copper is a look suited to refined, contemporary schemes making it a hugely useable and on-trend material.”

Alexander and Pearl

Alexander and Pearl

 

For quick kitchen facelifts, simply update lighting by installing oversized pendants in artfully rusted or black metals, or search for 1940s-style bar stools and brass stand-alone kitchen racks and units. Vintage specialist Alexander & Pearl is the go-to place for one-off industrial style furniture (0208 508 0411; www.alexanderandpearl.co.uk).

 

Out There Interiors

Out There Interiors

Meanwhile, juxtaposed against contemporary kitchens, copper, brass and even gold taps suddenly look thoroughly modern again. Considered old-fashioned for many years, the burnished quality of antiqued gold and brass has a current appeal due to its warmth and heritage connotations. Add them into an all-white or black colour scheme and these metals can light up a room with their lustre and luminosity – almost like a piece of jewellery would.

 

“Clients are seeking a warm, welcoming feel in their kitchens but at the same time they want it to look sleek and contemporary,” says Tony Nicholas of Nicholas Anthony. “We’re noticing a return of brass, copper and graphite in fittings and fixtures. These give a wonderful sheen and warm colour to a space – pair them with uncluttered surfaces and handle-less cupboards from the Nicholas Anthony Signature Collection and you have a smart, seamless look.”

 

Luxe minimalism

Talking of which, a seamless, streamlined kitchen is probably at the top of many of our wish-lists. After all, who wants to live with clutter? Clean lines, elegant spaces and sparkling appliances – all hidden of course – have an eternal appeal.

 

Buy into this sophisticated look by choosing handle-less cabinets in matt finishes and chunky doors. Think about selecting the same material to be used on your work-surfaces and then up the wall as splash-backs. This is pleasing to the eye – and great for smaller spaces – as it gives a sleek, neat finish.

 

Langtry

Langtry

Tony Jones, managing director at Langtry Fitted Furniture (01353 725380; www.langtryfurniture.co.uk) comments: “The minimalist approach is really popular at the moment. Most consumers these days are opting for handle-less cabinets and drawers. In fact, we offer ‘electric’ drawers and doors in our showroom, which just need a little push and they open as if by magic.”

 

By Design

By Design

Meanwhile, at luxury kitchen specialist By Design Kitchens in Cambridge (01223 248409; www.bydi.co.uk), Francis Lowman, managing director, has also noted an opting for sleek kitchens, but with a difference:

 

“In our showroom, we have a glossy New York Cashmere Grey kitchen by Symphony on display but we’ve juxtaposed it in a industrial-style setting – exposed brick walls, wooden flooring and steel light fittings. It is a real talking point – customers love the contrast between ultra-modern and authentic. Symphony’s Linear range is the perfect minimalist kitchen – it is handle-less and sits low and wide so it seems to blend into the walls and floor. To make it extra special, we always try and add in the wow-factor with one amazing piece of statement lighting, from a brand such as Flos. It’s like art for a kitchen and usually most effective over an island or dining table.”

 

Feeling blue

Kit Kitchens

Kit Kitchens

For many years, neutrals have dominated kitchen design. Cream, white and beige have all been de rigeur but, slowly, tastefully coloured kitchens have become in vogue. French-style dove grey, smoky blues and aqua shades look light and fresh. It’s a softer look, compared to the sometimes sterile-looking whites and creams.

 

Fired Earth

Fired Earth

Fired Earth’s (01223 300941; www.firedearth.com) most recent range, the Vermont freestanding kitchen, is made from oak but is available in a choice of painted colours. Popular at the moment are shades of blue inspired by the coastal homes of the East Coast of USA. Using complimentary hues from the same colour palette, such as the brand’s Smoke Blue, Andaman Sea and Dover Cliffs, on different cupboards or zones of your kitchen, gives a layered effect that is perfectly of the moment.

 

Kit Kitchens

Kit Kitchens

At Kitchenology, meanwhile, it’s grey that is having a moment. “Greys are the modern-day new neutrals,” claims owner Jennifer Shaw. “It’s a very popular shade and the AlnoStar Dur is one of our bestsellers. But too much grey has a danger of becoming drab, so I’d advise choosing units or islands in contrasting shades of grey. It will add depth and character to your space and liven your room up. Matt surfaces contrasting with gloss are also a good idea to add some interest.”

Joanna Wood

Joanna Wood

Turquoise glass bowl £279 mid res

Interior designer to London’s fashionable set Joanna Wood (0207 730 5064; www.joannawood.co.uk) agrees: “Grey has seen a resurgence of late, taking over from classic neutral shades such as magnolia and white,” she says. “The ability to coordinate grey with a spectrum of colours from turquoise to pastel blue has made it extremely popular in both traditional and contemporary kitchens. For example, within contemporary interiors dark grey can act as a striking accent colour against neon blue or green shades, creating a space, which is bright but not overwhelming. Contrastingly, light grey can be implemented to bring out the warmth of muted blue and terracotta hues in a more traditional scheme. Aside from aesthetical advantages, grey also has practical benefits. Try teaming it with silver or glass accessories as an alternative way of making a small room look more spacious.”

 

The advance of high tech

With technological advancements developing all the time, the race is on for brands to come up with the ultimate time-saving kitchen aids that will make our lives easier. Even Sir James Dyson has recently announcing he is investing £5m to invent a robot that will do our household chores for us.

Langtry

Langtry

 

Tony Jones, managing director of Langtry Fitted Furniture, agrees that the modern-day consumer wants the latest high-tech gadgets when planning their kitchen. He comments: “Nowadays, people are very careful to choose the correct appliances that suit their needs. The most major advance for kitchens of late is probably the ‘boiling tap’, which means you can do away with fussy kettles and not have to wait for them to boil.”

 

By Design

By Design

Francis Lowman, managing director of By Design, agrees: “The Quooker Fusion boiling water tap is the best on the market. It truly gives boiling water at 100 degrees, as well as hot and cold. People love the convenience factor.”

 

Other recent developments include multi-purpose ventilation hoods. Siemens, for example, has a ventilator that has an in-built microwave and also one with an LCD screen enabling home chefs to watch TV, DVDs or listen to music as they slave over the stove.

 

Other innovations readily available, in the US at least, include intelligent fridges, which come with advanced air filtration systems to keep food fresher for longer and in-built Google calendar screens on their doors. There are smart ovens that offer up recipe ideas and hobs, which vanish into recesses at a press of a switch. A beautifully designed kitchen is more clever than you think.

 

A version of this feature by me is in the current issue (April 14) of The Cambridge Edition. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer beauty snapshot

After popping into the Debenhams Spring Summer 14 Beauty Show today, I’m lusting after the many new launches for the new season ahead.

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In the Organic corner were goodies from Balance Me, Burt’s Bees, Ole Henrikson and Trilogy.

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Other items to catch my eye were the darling limited edition Steam Cream tins (available from May) and the oh so pretty Too Faced Sweetheart Blush – which are gorgeous.

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I also love the look of the Elizabeth Arden nautical range.

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And these Clarins Lip Balm Crayons are definitely on my wish list.

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I was drawn towards the retro feel of Aqua Manda‘s range of products, and was intrigued to hear that these are original 1960s products, revived from their hey day, with help from the original creator. The range includes talc, perfume, soap and purse spray and is made with essential oils of mandarin, ginger and lavender. They seem thoroughly modern again.

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In terms of make-up classics, among my favourites were YSL‘s limited edition leopard-print Touche Eclat and the genius Cheek and Lip Stain in gorgeous wearable shades. Another must-have is the Bare Minerals Veil Finishing Powder in these practical all-in-one brush cases.

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Of course, any decent beauty hall’s highlight is the perfume. Debenhams does not disappoint – so much choice, too little time.

www.debenhams.com/beauty

Green Rooms: refresh your gardens for spring

Spring is the perfect time to get your gardens into shape for the summer ahead. Here are my tips on how to achieve an outdoors space that is just as stylish as your home.

Brassica Bench

Whether you have a rambling cottage garden or a sleek urban space, when it comes to the style factor, many of us have come to view our gardens as just as important as the rooms in our homes. Implement a few clever design features and, weather permitting, our gardens can be utilised as a second living space when the sun comes out. Here’s how to make the most of yours.

 

REDESIGNING

If you are fed up with looking at grass that has seen better days, tired plants and uninspiring borders, then it may be time to call in the professionals. If budget allows, professional landscapers and garden designers are experts in reinventing even the smallest spaces to suit the needs of you and your family. Even if gardening is not your forte, they will come up with genius solutions to make your garden a joy rather than a chore.

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Alex Graham-Cameron, owner of Demeter Garden Design (01354 740 401; www.demeterdesign.co.uk) gives some advice: “The design stage is crucial. I would urge anybody thinking of redesigning their garden to really think how they intend to use it and what they want out of it. Make a list of things you would like included and things you need and don’t be afraid to change things that you’ve ‘lived with’ for years. Think of the design in two main parts, the first includes all practical aspects of the garden, such as paths, lawns, sitting areas and other features you may wish to consider. The second part is to think about the planting and how this can be added to enhance and add interest to the garden.”

 

Talking through these needs with a designer is a crucial first step. Think about how you and your family use the garden. Young children, for instance, may need a play area, while an older family will have different requirements. If you entertain a lot, you may want to focus on an expansive patio or canopied dining area. You may want to grow your own fruit and vegetables, so it would therefore be important to carve out a practical vegetable patch and suitable areas for trees. After all, everyone has a different take on what their ideal garden looks like.

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Ian Farbon, owner of garden designers Landscape Evolution (01223 258924; www.landscapeevolution.co.uk), gives some tips on how to create that idyllic garden.

 

“A good place to start is to create a mood board of images that inspire you. Source from magazines, books, postcards and take photos of any garden features that you like when out and about. Include styles of garden that appeal – such as formal, modern or traditional – as well as different plants, types of paving and furniture etc. You’ll soon see what works well together and what doesn’t. Getting it right at this early stage will save time and money before any ground is broken.

“The way in which a garden is designed is always constrained by budget,” Ian continues. “We all know how much it costs to build an extension or garage but we are less knowledgeable when it comes to gardens. The more ‘hard’ landscaping you have (such as brickwork, paving and built structures) the higher the budget will need to be. Good landscapers will ensure the project runs smoothly and professionally. It is worth noting that a good designer way well save you more in build and material costs than the fee for the design so don’t be frightened to commission one to help you create your dream!”

 

GARDEN ROOMS
Bringing the ‘inside out’ is one of the latest trends in garden design. Starting with the fashion for Miami-style weather-treated rattan furniture a few years ago (previously only seen in conservatories and glitzy hotels), we’ve now got a penchant for furniture and accessories that wouldn’t look out of place in our living and dining rooms.

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Garden Trading

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Garden Trading

Jon Holloway, founder of Garden Trading (0845 6084 448; www.gardentrading.co.uk), agrees: “The trend for buying high quality furniture for the garden that will stand the test of time will continue into summer 2014. Timeless, neutral hues will create a relaxed and coastal look to last the whole summer through.”

Extex

Extex

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Take the innovative outdoor fabrics from British manufacturer Extex (01634 718871;www.extex.co.uk)for instance. They were originally created for use on super-yachts, due to their water repellent and stain resistant qualities, but are now being used on chic furniture and cushions in some of the UK’s most stylish gardens and are instant ways of bringing a lifestyle look to a garden. The huge choice of fabrics (in over 100 colours) includes sophisticated neutrals as well as vibrant, three-dimensional patterns and a new pioneering glow-in-the-dark material.

Hot House from Sainsbury's

Hot House from Sainsbury’s

Approach your garden like you would if you were decorating an interior room. Style spaces with accessories, cushions and lighting – you may be outdoors but it doesn’t mean you can’t be cosy or on-trend. The high street is full of affordable items that can add a pop of colour to your greenery. For affordable options, check out the new garden range from Sainsbury’s, which includes brightly-coloured lanterns and floor cushions, and the hot pink and turquoise metal chairs from Out There Interiors (020 8099 7443; www.outhereinteriors.com).

Out There Interiors

Out There Interiors

Runa Chairs from Out There Interiors

Runa Chairs from Out There Interiors

Mix these in with investment buys, such as the contemporary Wallflower outdoor lighting from FLOS (0203 328 5140; www.flos.com) and modern firepits from Morsø (01788 554 410; www.morso.co.uk) – this will add instant impact and give a twist to an average garden.

Flos Wallflower Lights

Flos Wallflower Lights

Morso Forno Grill-£895 (2)

Morso Grill

For an actual living space in the outdoors, a summer-house or garden room is a must. Forget the styles of old as these days outbuildings are getting more and more elaborate. Permanent Oriental-style wooden gazebos are great for dining outdoors, while pretty, pastel, Hamptons-inspired summer-houses are just the thing for whiling away the summer days. But for the ultimate wow-factor, you can’t beat a Farmer’s Cottage Garden Pod, available at John Lewis (01223 361292; www.johnlewis.com).

John Lewis

Farmers Cottage Garden Pod at John Lewis

The futuristic spheres have UV-tinted windows, waterproof interiors and dimmable lighting. They can be adapted for sleeping, dining or as a place for some downtime and many can also rotate and have sliding doors.

Twigwam at Jo Alexander

Twigwam at Jo Alexander

Jo Alexander (01954 267857; www.joalexander.co.uk) is a one-stop shop for covetable garden furniture and accessories.

Owner Jo Alexander comments: “With a little imagination, your outdoor space can become an extension to your home – for relaxing and entertaining with family and friends.Choose furniture, cushions and garden accessories that reflect the way you live and make your garden as inviting as the rest of your home. Choose a wicker or teak sofa with comfy cushions, for example, and add a coffee table for the all-important drinks and nibbles and you’ll create a living room in the sun. Just sit back and unwind in the comfort of your own garden.”

EXTENSIONS OF THE HOME

Patios, decking and verandas are natural extensions to your home. Clear the clutter that can naturally gather near the house and make the most of these areas by adding in ‘homely’ touches, such as fire-pits, grills or even fireplaces. Popular in the USA, outdoor kitchens are also gathering momentum in the UK and, by adding, dining or lounge furniture and pretty lighting, you can quickly create a stylish entertaining area.

Outdoor Room at Garden House Design

Outdoor Room at Garden House Design

Garden House Design (01903 774 774; www.gardenhousedesign.co.uk) is an award-winning garden design specialist based in Cambridge and an expert in creating gardens of all shapes and sizes – from urban courtyards to rural spaces. Working closely with clients to create something perfectly suited to their lifestyle, the company’s aim is to maximize the time we are able to really ‘live’ outdoors in our gardens. The company supplies the cutting-edge Algarve and Camargue terrace covers, which have gladed roof systems that can be closed off with Fixscreens, glass sliding walls and panels.

“Our company mantra is ‘live outdoors’ and we want people to see their garden as an extension of their living space and to use it in the way they would use any other area of their home,” says Debs Winrow, marketing manager at Garden House Design.

“Whatever your budget or size of garden, there’s lots of clever design ideas that you can use to transform your outdoor space into a room just as elegant and beautiful as any other room in your home. You can kit out your garden with firepits, baths, sofas and even outdoor kitchens.

“But don’t expect to leave all your accessories out all year round,” she advises. “Simply allocate a little storage space indoors, in the garage or shed and store pretty candle holders, soft plump garden furniture cushions, and maybe velvet throws to simply take and dress your garden at a moment’s notice.Get good with creating lovely “picnic” type suppers and your garden will soon be a favourite place to hang out for your friends and family. We not only offer a full design and construction service, but also offer a Garden Styling Service to add the finishing touches to your precious outdoor space.”

GREEN GREEN GRASS OF HOME
Take care of your lawn and you are halfway there to having an impressive garden. After all, there’s nothing as pleasing as looking out on to a lush, healthy expanse of green. Keep your lawn looking neat by mowing regularly and trimming edges. Feed regularly to keep it looking green and pull up stubborn weeds. Little and often is the general rule of thumb for keeping your lawn in tip-top condition.

Ian Farbon at Landscape Evolution also advises to take care when planning: “If you want to update your garden, the most important job is the initial stages. Draw up your existing garden, marking the boundaries and the main features and in particular those you would like to keep or must remain. Whilst a designer will create an accurate plan at an appropriate scale, a sketch of your garden (a birds eye view) would be a starting point on a pad of A4 or A3. This is the bit I love most, sketching lines, shapes and ideas over the page (without thinking of ‘what’ those shapes might represent) and how the shapes relate to the house.  As you refine your sketches the new garden will start to take shape on the page and you will find areas that will become the lawn, paving and paths.”

Glass Candle Holder from Home Arama

Glass Candle Holder from Home Arama

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Julia Brendel linens

Tesco Round Glass Lanterns £10 each

Glass lanterns from Tesco

tuscany TC blue 2

Tuscany linen range from Linen Me

Willow Lantern 05

Willow Lantern from Des Res Design

To add interest, introduce different textures and shapes. Cut your grass in curves around gravel areas and stone paths, for instance. Create witty vignettes to bring your lawn to life with grouping of statues, classical water features or small areas featuring upcycled furniture. Scour flea markets for interesting objects, such as old bikes that can be painted in a bold, primary colour and then use it to store plants in its basket. Arbours, love-seats and old wheelbarrows can be used as romantic touches to transform even the most boring of spaces. All it takes is a little imagination.

 A version of this article was written by me for the March 2014 issue of The Cambridge Edition

Spring Beauty Preview: Carolina Herrera 212 Surf

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I love a dedicated summer scent – exotic blooms, like Tiare flowers, combined with watery notes are my favourite, conjuring up images of French Polynesia and mystical lands.

I was thrilled therefore to spritz open the new summer fragrance from Carolina Herrera. 212 Surf, £36, is fresh yet sensual. Aquatic accords are mixed with woody notes to give the airy feel of the scent some musky grounding.

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As the name suggests, it is inspired by the sea and a surfy vibe. Think sea salt on a balmy ocean breeze – and you’ve got the gist.

Love the tropical blooms on the bottle, too, and its two mini vessels at either end. It’s young fresh and sassy, oh, and limited edition – so snap it up quick.

 

 

 

Spring Beauty Preview: Baylis & Harding Strawberries & Cream

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My little gem for today is the limited edition Strawberries & Cream gift set from Baylis & Harding. Unbelievably good value for money at £7, it is made up of a bumper bottle of shower creme and a moisturising hand and body lotion. It’s the perfect gift idea for Mother’s Day or indeed for ‘gifting’ yourself.

I love Baylis & Harding products – they not only look great but they work hard too (at such a great price point). The shower creme, for instance, feels luxurious and not ‘budget’, while the body lotion is perfect for being extravagant with and drenching limbs in layers of it (you know you haven’t spent a fortune on it). Its texture is also surprisingly thick and creamy.

The limited edition scent –  sugary – is subtle and not overpowering, and I found myself catching wafts of it as the day progressed. Sweet.

www.baylisandharding.com

Jaunt: have bag will travel

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As a travel journalist, I’m always on the lookout for fabulous, yet practical, bags to accompany me on my little sojourns. So imagine my ‘should have thought of this first’ moment when I recently discovered new brand Jaunt. Debuting its first collection for SS14, Jaunt’s USP is to provide essential travel pieces for globe-trotting women. (It also means my personal search for the ultimate bag may be over!)

JAUNT’s luxurious handcrafted pieces feature vibrant prints and colour combinations inspired by founder Kim Lai’s own global travels. The label’s first season has been inspired by Bodrum, in Turkey, with bags featuring striking Ikat prints and bold stripes. It’s a gorgeous and intelligent touch how this travel inspiration has played out in the modern colour palette and on-trend styles – and I look forward to seeing other destinations possibly ‘converted’ into prints/patterns. Popping pink, safari yellows and forest greens are her touchstones on blocky shapes and simple – but effective – silhouettes.

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The core collection consists of five different bag shapes, from an expandable tote to elegant clutch bags (love the latter especially), thus taking you from the beach to cocktails at sundown. 

As a frequent traveller herself, Kim Lai, a New York native living in London, wanted to create enduring, chic and functional accessories to accompany her travels. Drawing on her ten years of experience as a designer in the luxury travel accessories market, she has designed a signature range and seasonal collection of essential travel bags. Watch this name – it’s having a moment around town with stylish fashionista’s, journos, and travel junkies alike singing its praises. Jaunt’s take off is guaranteed.

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Prices range from £150.00 – £315.00, available from www.jauntaccessories.com