Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Trend: Monochrome

This summer will see the fashion world divided between brights and monochrome,  and I know exactly which camp I'll be joining...the one of classic black and white.  No other two shades can look both effortless and stylish, even in humbug style stripes!  

This trend transcends in your home too, and it looks so understated and sophisticated.  A fresh backdrop of white with strong defining outlines of black looks fabulous and I can't wait to use the look in my home.  

Glamorous, spacious and oh so sleek, this a classic combination and one of my favourites.  Some may say it's cold or boring (how dare they!), but it really does brighten even the darkest of room.  

Here are some favourite monochrome styles from Butterfly Lane....

Ok, so this is more dark grey and white, but it still gives the same effect.  Striking and spacious...

This hallway is mainly white, which gives it a fresh and bright feel, but the contrast of the black banister and stairs adds drama and an added touch of elegance.  


This is by far one of my favourite bathroom layouts, it is just pure glamour!  The minimum colour palette, the sparkling chandelier and dark wood accents are just stunning.

Dramatic, fabulous and sleek, what is not to love about this sophisticated dining room?  Yes, it takes courage to paint a wall black, but against a backdrop of a white room in the distance, it doesn't look gothic, just glam.  

What an entrance hall!  The black door and matching banister creates a sleek space against the white background.

A great example of how accessories can transform a space.  The dark frames on the wall define the area.

Who said black and white is harsh?  This gorgeous and homely monochrome kitchen proves them wrong.  

This boudoir shows a softer side to monochrome...

Bright, airy and gorgeous!  The pop of purple flowers is a striking touch.

So, are you in the 'monochrome' or 'brights' camp this summer?  

Friday, 25 January 2013

Recipe: Beef Shepherd's Pie with Champ

My blog has been neglected so far this year, something I hate doing but I have a rather lovely excuse, as I have been on the other side of the world in Thailand soaking up a bit of winter sunshine, therefore not spending much time on my trusty MacBook.   It's been a complete shock to my system returning from 37 degree temperatures in Thailand to -3 degrees in England,  what on earth do you wear for travelling with such dramatic climate changes either side of the journey?  I opted for layers, layers and more layers,  however a huge mistake was only having a pair of French Sole ballet pumps in my procession (unprepared I know!), which led to a very chilly and slippery journey back from Heathrow!  

It is slightly shameful to say that I love the cold weather, I love nothing more than log fire burning, dog on lap, PJ wearing kinda slumber.  Yes it's inconvenient, yes it's cold but no one can say everywhere isn't looking pretty gorgeous at the moment.  Just look (picture to the left) of this amazing icicle in my parents garden this week, it literally followed the drainpipe from the roof top to the ground, gorgeous!   

Whenever the weather turns to the chilly side, I turn to my fail safe winter warmer recipe which I promise will warm even the coldest of winter nights.  I've been using this recipe for years and it has been slightly adapted winter after winter, I just love it, even if I do say so myself.  It promises three things, carbs, a kick of flavour and easiness to prepare, why not give it a whirl?  It might look like a look of ingredients but I'm sure many things will already be in your kitchen stores.


For the champ topping:

3 floury potatoes, such as King Edward

Small handful of frozen peas

Knob of butter

2 spring onions

25ml milk

Smoked Paprika

For the beef mixture:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, peeled, crushed

2 carrots, chopped, peeled, chopped into small pieces

1 celery stalk, trimmed, chopped in to small pieces

400g canned plum tomatoes

1.5 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp Tabasco

Pinch smoked paprika

1 fresh bay leaf (dry is fine)

90ml red wine

100ml vegetable stock

1 sprig fresh rosemary

Splash balsamic vinegar

Small handful flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

250g lean beef mince

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1.  Preheat the oven to 200C.  For the champ topping heat a pan of salted water, add the potatoes and bring gently to boil, simmer until they are nearly cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.  

2.  Meanwhile, for the beef mixture, heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and gently fry the chopped onion, garlic, carrots and celery for 5-10 minutes or until softened. 

3.  Add the remaining beef mixture ingredients expect for the mince and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Bring to boil, then reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender.  Keep warm. 

4.  Heat the remaining olive oil in a separate pan over medium heat, add the mince, fry until golden brown.  Stir the mince in to the tomato sauce. 

5.  When the potatoes for the champ topping are almost done, add the frozen peas.  

6.  Gently fry the spring onion on a low heat, with the milk. 

7.  Drain the potatoes and peas, mash roughly.  Add the warm milk mixture.   Mash until combined but still chunky. 

8.  Spoon the beef mixture into a medium pie mix and top with champ.  Scatter over the smoked paprika.  

9.  Bake the pie for 25-30 minutes until the potato is golden brown. 

Let us know how you got on!  Enjoy... 

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Pretty Pastels

I was surprised to see the ever-enchanting sight of blossom already in bloom at the boyfriends London pad.  Surely this is way too soon?  Anyway, I'm sure that the predicted cold snap will sharply rid the trees spring-like thoughts unfortunately.

Well, blossom might not officially be here yet, but at least we can think about its pretty palette of pastel pink....    

Pastels are a key trend for the new season, with soft sugary shades of pinks, lilacs and spearmint green.  It is by far one of the sweetest seasons we've seen, so think of a delicious tray of Laduree Macaroons and incorporate, fondant pink, violet, lemon and baby-blues in to your home.  


Pale Blues 

As you can see the core of this pastel palette is nude, and a gorgeous neutral base will make pastels more sophisticated and calm.

Take inspiration and lighten the look of your home this spring with neutral nude tones from peaches to caramels, punctuated with pretty pastels.  

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Georgian Splendour

I love the Georgian era in interior design, high ceilings, sash windows, panelling, cornicing...I could go on.  That is why the boyfriend and I fell in love with old, dishevelled Beech House (a house we bought in late 2011 and are still renovating at the moment).  We loved the sash windows (although I hate, hate, hate restoring them!), we loved the panelled front door and the parquet flooring, and its many chimney's.  Although the property doesn't have all the traits of an old gentlemen's house built in the early 1800's, as it feels extremely cottagey in parts with beams in many of the rooms instead of cornicing, but this balanced our taste when house hunting for an idyllic cottage against a grand old house, you could say we have the best of both worlds.

A Grand Georgian Landing.  Accessorised with gilted frames against a neutral background.
We are now fast approaching the final decorating stage of the renovation which is incredibly exciting.  I want style and comfort with an homage to it's Georgian past.  By starting with a pale background of neutral floors and walls, you can easily build up layers of colour and tone with furniture, fabrics and accessories.  A restrained backdrop can allow for bolder choices of pattern and rich textile without ever seeming overdone.  

Here are some of my favourite Georgian interiors from my 'ideas scrapbook' which brings together traditional styles with modern touches.  

Clean & simple, letting the magnificent doors & windows be a focal point.

Grand panelling and cornicing with simple, neutral & feminine furniture

White and chic

Love the panelling, love the artwork, just love it!

A traditional room with hints of soft femininity, by using gentle pinks, mirrors an French inspired furnishings

Light and airy

An elegant staircase using bolder choices in patterned wallpaper but with neutral tones so it doesn't overpower

A gorgeous and extravagant kitchen 

Great panelling in greys for a modern take on Georgian styling
 What's your favourite design era?


A Lost Christmas Blog

When doing my post-Christmas blog tidy-up, I came across this blog in my drafts which I had obviously forgotten to make 'live', but I thought it was a tad sad to press the delete button, and it's not really too long after the Twelfth Night of Christmas struck, deeming the end of the festivities for yet another here goes.  

Decorating my home, well any home at Christmas is my most favourite part of the festivities.  As Beech House is still not Christmas ready (well I did wrap some obligatory warm white fairy lights around our privet balls either side of the front door - we wouldn't want the fellow villagers to thing us unfestive now!).  Seeing as my own Christmas prep took all of 15 minutes I went bearing festive cheer to my grandparents home to create a winter wonderland in their sitting room.  My grandmother is overtly house proud but the thought of decking the halls in her...(cough cough), mid eighties is bound to seem exhausting, so in came the Christmas Brigade, along with a helping hand from Rod Stewart and his festive tunes, we set to work.  

Then to my parents home, the phrase 'decking the halls' really comes in to its own here, it usually takes a few days to become totally Christmas ready...  

1).  One whole day of my dad untangling metres and metres of fairy lights, indoor and outdoor ones.  The outside is a mission and a half in a cold December climate (well it looks that way anyway), wrapping little lights around trees, hedges, bushes, name it.  But by the final 'switch on' it looks just stunning and always makes us catch a breath!  Well done dad!

2).  My mother has collected and collected numerous crockery that only surfaces in December.  The dresser is emptied of its gilted, festive splendor, washed and ready to be piled high with mince pies et al.  

3).  The tree.  The main tree always sits in the kitchen, a tradition that has span for years, it is honestly where we spend most of our time, cooking and entertaining.  We don't do half measures when it comes to decorating a tree either, I like it full...yet co-ordinated, which means a lot of time!  

There is nothing better than opening the 'Christmas boxes' and digging out the old favourites.  I coo and arh over my favourites in the same way I do every year.  

Here are a few of my favourites.

1.  Festive fruit - being a kitchen Christmas tree it is a must
2.  A jewelled butterfly 
3.  Ceramic westies from Liberty's, I have three and I love them...Maggie does too
4.  No tree would be complete without a robin, and this little cutie is a definite favourite
5.  Lots of stars in all shapes and sizes...
6.  A metal red jumper...why not!

The final result is one jammed packed tree and a trimmed up kitchen dresser with glistening white berries and bay trees.

I hope everyone had a magical Christmas. 

Monday, 7 January 2013

The Colour of Spring 2013: Green

Firstly, a big (slightly delayed) happy New Year to you all!  I am full to the brim with enthusiasm for 2013, well I am like this at the beginning of every year I suppose, but this year I am determined to extend my enthusiasm levels past February.  This is the first full year that I will be embarking on Butterfly Lane the blog...and the shop...and after a rather successful soft launch at the back end of 2012 the whole team are super excited for the year ahead.

Lots of mint tea will be needed in January after
my month of travelling and it's the
the colour of the year too - bonus!
I had a momentary hint of sadness when packing away my fairy lights and Christmas decorations last week, mainly because it means the end of mince pie season!  However, it does symbolise a fresh beginning and looking forward in to spring and, rather excitingly, the new collections.  This weekend myself and the boyfriend are jetting off to Thailand for a week of winter sun (a rather lovely Christmas present from the man himself).  I am hoping not only to soak up the sun, spend ample time in the spa but also indulge in some retail therapy (more to follow on this I'm sure).  Then I touch down in London ready for the copious amounts of interior design shows which will take me to Stockholm, Paris...and Birmingham!  You will see the fruits of my labours in the coming months as the online boutique will be stocked full of gorgeousness.  

So, the colour of 2013 will be green.  From clothes, jewels and interiors this fresh shade will be dominant.  I have made it abundantly clear about my desire of neutral, uncompromising interiors, but a hint of colour is always welcome.  Green is such a fresh and spring-like shade, and a pop looks great against a neutral backdrop.  Seasonal colours can be tricky, do you really want to redecorate your entire home to stay en vogue?  Instead I suggest to just invest in some accessories.  Cushions, curtains, vases et al will really change the mood of a room and get it ready for the brighter months ahead.  

Here are a few mood boards to show the different spectrum of green shades.


Muted Green

I must admit, I am always drawn to green when it come to fashion, being a blonde it is a natural colour choice for me.  Whether it be knitwear, jewellery or dresses, it just works for me...I have even be known to have a dalliance with green trousers!  I absolutely adore muted cedar green, it screams out to me in a shop...but to decorate my home in this shade is another ball game, right?  Therefore, by using small snippets of green in accessories/fabrics works so much better for me, especially when the seasonal colours change so quickly. 

This room has been beautifully accessorised by using a hint of mint. 


Remember, flowers give a lovely pop of green too!



Enjoy accessorising your home ready for the new season.  Get in touch if you need any advice or if you have any helpful hints and tips for embracing the new season.  We love to hear from you.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Simple Home Improvements for the New Year

This is a sponsored post by OKA Direct for Butterfly Lane.

The New Year is a time to think about goals that you hope to achieve in the up-and-coming year. With regards to your home, the New Year hails a time to ponder resolutions for a cleaner, more beautiful and maybe even more efficient abode!

This time of year presents the opportunity to indulge your creative side at home, embellishing it with simple touches. Look at what you have, what you want to achieve and what has potential to be modified. Making moderate changes can be done either manually or decoratively as is stated below:


Changes around the house come in many forms. De-cluttering is an easy way to give the house a new feel. Possessions accumulated over the course of the year can be stored in new stylish storage units which keep the house looking clean and fuss-free.

Decorative Changes 


Small additions transform a room. A new quilt throw or decorative array of scatter cushions in the bedroom instantly changes the feel of the room. Branching out and trying new, bold colours brighten up the home. Accessories or wall art or a change of lighting are a simple way of adding new touches to a room.


Each room can be changed through simple touches. Envisage changes you want to make at the start of the year, note them down and make it your project for the year, you could even review them mid-year to see what you have accomplished and how the home is a more comfortable, brighter place for the slight adjustments.

Joy Venner writes on behalf of OKA Direct. She enjoys writing about interior design ideas and home improvements.

This is a sponsored post by OKA Direct for Butterfly Lane.