Urban Family Living
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A red wine from North Carolina called Sugar Daddy. The hubby scoffs but I had to buy it.  (at Scarborough Faire Shopping Village in Duck, NC)

A red wine from North Carolina called Sugar Daddy. The hubby scoffs but I had to buy it. (at Scarborough Faire Shopping Village in Duck, NC)

We are visiting friends in the Outer Banks of North Carolina for Easter.  The beautiful beach environs inspires me to think of coastal style.

I think these rules are apt because there really shouldn’t be any more expectations of life at the beach than these rules.  I’m considering buying this little gem and shipping it to our summer house.

relax

What could be more relaxing than a porch swing in the sunshine?  My kids are just watching the world go by.  We are all so busy nowadays that there are fewer opportunities for quiet contemplation.

photo-188

I found these gorgeous sea glass inspired vases at West Elm.  I am LOVING the colours.  Yes, of course, I bought some.  I love sea glass.

seaglass

Also at West Elm, the store had a beachy vibe going for its decor.  Even for just a casual barbecue, I think this place setting is gorgeous in its simplicity.

More inspiration for the terrarium that I plan on making.  Here is a seashore inspired terrarium from West Elm:

terrarium

Remember the tree house bunk beds available in Europe?  Pottery Barn Kids has picked up on the theme to go all sea shack.  Yes, I still love it!

beachhouse bunk

Coastal style for me means relaxed living and lots of natural colours/textures.  There are, of course, variations such as nautical or Hawaiian/tropical or the vibrant colours that characterise Lily Pulitzer clothing..  What does coastal style mean for you?

Coastal Style Inspiration We are visiting friends in the Outer Banks of North Carolina for Easter.  The beautiful beach environs inspires me to think of coastal style.

In the U.S., easter egg hunts are everywhere in the run-up to Easter.  The tradition starts at the top with the annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn.  This year’s Easter Egg Roll is the 136th year of the event and will take place on April 21st.  Involving more than 30,000 people, tickets are highly prized.

We usually participate in at least 2 egg hunts which is great for my chocolate-obsessed children (sadly not the White House one!) .

eggs hanging from tree

eggs hanging from tree

One of the farms near my family’s home in Pennsylvania always has an Easter event with egg hunts, photos with the Easter Bunny etc.

In case candy and chocolate in plastic eggs isn’t enough of a sugar high, we get funnel cakes.  They are deep fried batter with powdered sugar on top and you get them at fairs and carnivals.

funnel cake

funnel cake

Nothing says American like calorie-laden, deep-fried, sugared dough! It’s so rich even the children can only take a couple of bites before they have had enough.

We always do a family egg hunt on our lawn too.  Each person is assigned a specific colour egg and then another person hides a pre-determined amount of eggs.  It’s always amusing to come up with creative ways to hide eggs!

Invariably someone can not find all their eggs and whoever hid it can’t remember where they put it.  Usually it gets found sometime in the summer when it gets caught in the lawn mower.

counting eggs

counting eggs

Egg hunts are our Easter family tradition.  They are not particularly healthy, intellectual or sophisticated.  We do have fun and that’s all that matters!  What Easter traditions do you have?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Hunting for Chocolate In the U.S., easter egg hunts are everywhere in the run-up to Easter.  The tradition starts at the top with the annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn.  

The Little Church Which Is A Modern Art Masterpiece

The Little Church Which Is A Modern Art Masterpiece

Prophet Joel

You know you live in a swish area when the stained glass windows of your local church were made by Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall.  The windows were a gift from the Rockefeller family who live nearby in their Kykuit estate in New York.   Some of the church goers, however, didn’t want them because they were too “modern”.  Who turns down a free Chagall??  The Rockefellers eventually won the point…

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I was surprised to learn that one of my favourite home stores in the U.S., Restoration Hardware, has now rebranded themselves as RH with the words Restoration Hardware written in tiny letters underneath.  The RH stores are now referred to as design galleries as well (pretentious moi?).    Their items were always expensive but now are unapologetically so.

champagne bucket

more champagne please!

RH also seems to be branching into other aspects of lifestyle consumerism too such as opening an art gallery and expanding into children’s furniture.  How great is this industrial-style bunk bed which is very similar to the scaffolding beds that have cropped up recently in London and Paris?

scaffolding bunk bed

photo credit: RH

Thank goodness, rebranding and expanding aside, the products themselves are still gorgeous.  They are set off to their advantage in the design galleries with lots of moody lighting, high ceilings and dark painted walls.

RH has a style that evokes industrial or estate items that have been salvaged – metal, distressed leather, unfinished wood, natural linen etc. It reminds me of the Ralph Lauren ethos but with a bit of urban edge.

I absolutely loved this leather trunk office space.  Not only is the whole thing on wheels but the piece closes and locks so that you can put it out of sight – perfect for a multifunction office space.

office in a trunk

office in a travel trunk

I also love this vintage scrabble set.  I am thinking of getting it for our screened porch. We could sit around playing scrabble and drinking wine (not necessarily in that order) in the summer evenings.

scrabble

scrabble

So, what did I actually buy for the house?  I was under strict instructions to buy only lighting which is what we need (boo!).

For the screened porch, I went with a modern outdoor fan.  I really liked the fuselage fan too with its homage to early 20th century airplanes but it is really meant for indoors.

For the front and back porch, I chose a modern interpretation of  fishermen lanterns.  I also picked up a couple of the vintage barn lights for the living areas and the candle chandelier for the dining room.

With all the changes to this brand afoot, I’m hoping RH decide to branch out to London soon! If Boden can bring American preppy back to the USA, then surely RH can sell salvaged estate glam to Europe.

The RH Style: Salvaged Estate Meets Industrial I was surprised to learn that one of my favourite home stores in the U.S., Restoration Hardware…
Hilarious book. The married Kama sutra by Simon rich and Farley Katz. Eg  a ‘terrible position’ when the man is asked if he can tell the woman has gained 15 pounds.

Hilarious book. The married Kama sutra by Simon rich and Farley Katz. Eg a ‘terrible position’ when the man is asked if he can tell the woman has gained 15 pounds.

I’ve been wondering what to do with the front garden for a while now.  The ornamental grasses have gotten a little too wayward.  So, I was intrigued when Tim Milward from Plant Me Now suggested a lavender hedge on the sides of the buxus plants that I have.  They would be tall enough to cover the brickwork but not to obscure the window.  In addition, with the windows open the scent of lavender would waft through the house.

Lavender starts off pretty small.  Over time, they will knit together and form a hedge like shape.  Here are some beautiful images of lavender hedges.

 

Great idea – except for one small problem.  Lavender attracts bees and butterflies very well. My urban kids are afraid of bees.  I have told them that bees are good for nature and are no bother so long as they are left alone.  That argument didn’t wash for spiders and hasn’t worked for bees either.  Tim’s suggestion has been to trim the flower spikes which are what attract the bees.

bee on lavender

The lavender Tim has chosen is the Munstead variety.  They are among the shorter types of Lavender and make very good hedging plants.

Munstead Lavender

Lavender Munstead

Anyway, Tim suggested intersperse the lavender and with some tall delphiniums as well.  The delphiniums will add colour that will compliment the lavender.

I’m really pleased with our planting and can’t wait to see them grow!  We are also waiting for some trailing plants to be delivered from Plant Me Now which should arrive by May.  More on that later!

I was provided the lavender and delphinium free of charge as part of the Urban Renewal project from Plant Me Now but all words and opinions are my own.

Lavender’s Blue I’ve been wondering what to do with the front garden for a while now.  The ornamental grasses have gotten a little too wayward.  

The Camden Stables Market is a rabbit warren of old historic buildings which houses hundreds of shops among its stables, warehouses, arches and other structures.  Housed in the old Victorian Stables, the buildings’ history is fascinating and a glimpse into the rapid expansion of Georgian London.

stables plaque

Although Camden started out as a sleepy English village, by the 19th century the nearby Grand Union Canal and the railway system had made it a major transport centre.  The trains brought goods from the Midlands which were then delivered by barge around the city and then by horse and cart to specific addresses.  When Euston train station was built nearby in 1837, Camden grew even bigger with the efficient use of rail, road and canal.  You can only imagine how busy the place was because the Georgians were the original conspicuous consumers.  No doubt they would have approved of all the shopping being down in the market today!

industrial plaque

Pickfords was the company that transported goods to and from Camden yard.  They had over 200 horses which worked in the yard.  At first the trains and the horses moved on the same level which was very dangerous for the horses.  Many horses were injured or died before the underground tunnels were built under the railway.  One passage went to the horse hospital and another passage went to the stables.  Horses could be allowed to pass back and forth unattended because they were safe from the trains.

With some of its buildings dating from 1854, the Stables claim to be the finest example remaining of industrial stabling in England.  The horse hospital is Grade II listed and used to take care of horses injured pulling barges on the canal.  The Catacombs section has stores in the Victorian brick arches under the former horse tunnels built under the railway.

The Stables were converted into a market in 1973.  They have more than 40 million visitors every year and is the fourth most visited tourist attraction in London.  The website has more information on opening hours and a good detailed map.  Part of the fun though is wandering and discovering something cool and unexpected in one of the tucked away shops!

New Life for Old Stables The Camden Stables Market is a rabbit warren of old historic buildings which houses hundreds of shops among its stables, warehouses, arches and other structures.