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Posts tagged ‘Home and Garden’

An Extraordinary British Summer, Part 2: Provençal luncheon, Sussex setting

Everyone dreams of those typical Provençal scenes – the rustic wooden table, set out under the dappled shade of a bounteous fig tree, chairs collected from all over the house set around the table as a miscellaneous collective of dissonant styles, and upon the table pitchers of wine, large bowls of salads and platters loaded with fruits and meats set down in waiting for a large family gathering…Such was the idyll we created last weekend, but not in Provence. In England, where the country’s best summer in decades continues to bring smiles of sun-inspired joy across all four corners of the Kingdom.

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For me, the heady mix of sunshine and a lush flower-filled English country garden, is one of the very best ways to enjoy the summer. My childhood memories are full of nostalgic reflections on summer picnics on the lawn, the feel of grass between my toes, the smell of lavender wafting in the wind, the sensation of stone paths baked by the sun (I think I must have deleted the memories of the rainfall which inevitably dogged other days – who needs to remember those?). So on those occasions when the English summer bears fruit, I head to my childhood garden where the flowers still grow abundantly, and the family can still gather despite the many years that have gone by.

So all things combined, and with my family now double the size what it was in my childhood, my homage to the English summer was a table laid under an iris tree, freshly cut flowers hung overhead so their perfume imbued the air during a lunch of barbecued meats and elaborate Mediterranean style salads. The wine, of course, was flowing, and as my birthday fast approaches, a first cake and early presents were enjoyed to mark an occasion perfectly fitting for this fine English summer. And as befits a luncheon more Mediterranean than British, our afternoon was spent at the seaside, where the waters of the South Coast are easily as warm as Spain’s.

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Vive the English summer! Long may it continue.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Christmas Corona to Crown a Seasonal Soirée

I love nothing more than a Christmas party, and as I write, the excitement is building for the first soirée to be held in our new Palma apartment. It’s become something of annual tradition to light the candles, give the baubles an extra polish, stack up the bubbles and smoked salmon, and host a party for friends just before Christmas. Those nearest and dearest  to me in London will be sadly absent this year, but Palma is a very friendly place, and already friends made through my  new job here in Mallorca will be only too welcome at our 2014 fiesta.

But pride of place at this year’s party will be the latest addition to my Christmas decor. Gathered from the abundant stalls of flowers and foliage sold at Palma’s flower market along the leafy boulevard, La Rambla, this wreath or corona as the Spanish call it (meaning crown) has truly brought the outside evergreen in. Packed with fragrant fir tree branches, red berries, mistletoe and this year’s special touch – cotton, this foliage display is truly Christmasy, and brings the very essence of a Scandinavian Christmas directly into the heart of my Spanish home. The Scandinavian feel is even further emphasised with these amazing birch tree candles I’ve placed at its centre – wrapped with real tree bark, they look like something straight out of a snowy forest.

My Christmas “Corona”

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I should not end this post however without paying due homage to the flower market itself. For La Rambla in Palma is truly one of the most beautiful streets in the city. Boasting a central pedestrianised avenue nestled between two roads,  and overhung with huge leafy plane trees which always seem to retain many of their leaves, even now in December, it truly is a spectacular place to walk, take a coffee, and breath in the fragrant smell emanating from all of the fresh flowers. And with a special Christmas market also currently in situ, we have discovered it also makes a great place for mulled wine too!

La Rambla

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Happy Christmas everyone!

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Santa Lucia and the Joy of Rialto Living

To be honest, it didn’t take me much to make up my mind to move from London to Mallorca. After a sustained period of dissatisfaction with the big city in the smoke, the comparative paradise of Palma de Mallorca took little persuasion. And yet I think I can pinpoint the exact moment when my mind was made up as being the moment when my partner and I discovered Rialto Living.

Situated in the Carrer Sant Feliu, a dark cobbled street in the heart of Palma’s old town and lined with the very best of Palma’s old palaces, Rialto Living is a lifestyle concept store which sells the very best in interior design, art, and fashion. Happily for us it also contains one of the cafe hot spots in Mallorca, a blue and white symphony of open space and high couture eating, all set within a stunning renovated palace. In short, Rialto Living is a sumptuous, stunning shop. The kind of place where you could happily while away the hours as though it were your own home (I should be so lucky), and it was upon finding this place that we knew Palma had the kind of mentality which meant that we could make the city our new home.

A paradise of interior design

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Harking from Scandinavia, and founded by one of the three founders of Gant, Klas Kall, along with grafic designer Barbara Bergman, it is no wonder that Rialto Living is such a temple of interior chic. Here you will find a magazine shot in every corner, furniture to die for, and quality which bounces and glides and glitters in one’s hands. Its many sections are a delight for the eyes. Its clothes section is so chic and welcoming that it makes you want to discard your old clothes there and then for something delightfully fluffy and new. Its home section is like a paradise of design; my favourite section has to be the Alhambra recreation within whose moorish arches roll after roll of colourful material unfold; I also adore the dining area, where sun floods through the south facing windows to illuminate the multicoloured glassware.

Rialto Living’s fresh blue café

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Yet despite its inherent sophistication, Rialto Living is utterly welcoming, as demonstrated last weekend when customers were welcomed to the store on Saturday lunchtime to join in carols and glogg (mulled wine) in a celebration of Santa Lucia’s day. They even had an angelic choir fitted with all of the regalia of Santa Lucia festivities, the likes of which inspired both my Norm sketch yesterday, and brought tears to my eyes.

Rialto’s celebration of Santa Lucia

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So this long overdue post on Rialto Living is both a dedication to the sumptuously sophisticated palacial surrounds of my favourite shop, and a record of last weekend’s very Christmassy affair. Rialto Living: you truly are an inspiration. As long as you are in Palma, I too will remain.

The Marbella Terrace Project – Part 1: the Mural

There is nothing quite so sad as seeing a favourite area of a house or garden ravaged, ruined and fallen into disuse. Which is exactly what happened over the last few years to my family’s roof terrace in our town house in Marbella, Spain. Having been at the heart of so many holidays, our roof terrace, once a prime attraction of our house with views across Marbella towards the sea, had become the victim of our neighbours’ renovations and reconstructions, first when the house two doors down was demolished and rebuilt, and then when the house immediately next door was rebuilt likewise, and a new large wall constructed right next to our terrace. What with the continuous process of construction rendering our terrace unusable for years, as well as the direct impact those works had on our terrace floor, its walls and every other surface, our terrace fell into disrepair and disuse. Finally last summer, the construction works ceased, our terrace received its first lick of white paint, and I decided to do something to make it habitable again.

Our terrace in a state of disuse and disrepair

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On tomorrow’s blog, you will see how our terrace went from virtual builders’ site to lavish sun-soaked spectacle, but for today I am concentrating on what is undoubtedly the central focus of my new terrace design. A wall mural. Having been deeply inspired by the simplicity of form and joyful mediterranean colours used by Matisse in his cut-outs which I saw at Tate Modern’s brilliant Matisse show a few months back, I wanted to create a mural which was characterised by the same simple forms of Matisse’s works (not least because they will be easy to touch up if weather exposure damages the mural at a later date), but which also features my own trademark essence of playful surrealism.

Painting my mural

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The result is an image which combines a simplistic seashore landscape with Matisse’s famous algae forms, geometric design, a limited colour palette of blue and terracotta, and the energetic depiction of those dancing algae appearing to burst out of a large conch shell until they morph into a burning red sun.

Considering the size of this image (some 2 metres in dimension both ways), the fact that it was painted directly onto a rough concrete wall, and made at height, much of the time painted from an uncomfortable ladder, I am delighted with how this image turned out. Fresh, contemporary yet fun, it turns a blank stark wall into a feature of the terrace and matches perfectly with the painted accessories which complete the design – but more on them tomorrow. For now I leave you with photos of how the mural developed, and a finished look at the mural itself.

The finished mural

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The Daily Norm’s Christmas Tree of the Week | No.4: Traditional Glamour

It’s appropriate, I think, that the last of my four Christmas trees to be featured on The Daily Norm should be the most traditional and glamourous of the lot. For in these final days before the great day of Christmas itself, what better way is there to reflect on the abundant design bounty of the season than to revel in decorations which are, in their traditional character, a real nod to the lavish spectacle which sits at the centre of this season of plenty.

Yes, my final tree is the tallest of the lot – at just over 7 ft it almost touches the ceiling of my modern flat, and leaves no space for a fairy to sit atop. But asides from this notable absence, the tree is in every way a homage to the traditional colours and exuberance of Christmas, while retaining a sleek and at times eccentric twist. The design of this tree is very much dictated by its location. Set within my hallway, it has to be narrow enough that it does not become un-passable in the fairly tight space of my hall. But it also has to be big enough and abundant enough that it impresses upon a guest’s arrival – after all, it is the first sight which will grace visitors to my home in this merry season.

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Meanwhile, the design of my hall also leans towards the traditional, with its broad book shelves, floor to ceiling art work and framed old adverts, and various paraphernalia which would suit the most traditional of studies – an antique typewriter, a leather arm chair, a barrister’s wig and so on. So in attempting to fill my space with Christmas cheer which fits seamlessly within the scheme of my hallway, I have not only gone for the traditional Christmas colours of red, green and gold (which also feature in the surrounding artwork); I have also matched up the library theme with the addition of some very quirky little decorations such as gold stags heads, armchairs and even this year’s magnificent addition – baubles shaped to look like a framed Da Vinci (thanks Liberty’s!). These slightly more unusual features are then filled in with plain sparkly baubles in shades of rich forest green and perfect berry red, while the whole tree comes alive with glittering gold baubles and tinsel.

Despite being a tall narrow tree, this vertical pillar of festive abundance is probably my favourite of the lot, because in being almost overloaded with bauble after bauble of glittering glass spectacle, it is as over the top, as plentiful and as generous as the season it is dressed up to celebrate. Happy Christmas everybody!

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2013 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

The Daily Norm’s Christmas Tree of the Week | No.3: Parisian Masquerade

Some people think that black Christmas trees are morbid, but as this tree scheme will hopefully demonstrate, a well decorated black tree can be anything but. Characterised by its sparkling silver masks and its twinkling Eiffel Towers, my Parisian Masquerade tree is a nod to the glamour, elegance and spectacle which France’s capital city exudes in bucket loads. Yes, this week’s Daily Norm Christmas Tree of the week is the third tree out of four in my scheme of plenty, and is perhaps the most tightly co-ordinated and unceasingly bejewelled of the lot.

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Matching perfectly the black and red colour scheme of my lounge (with its dark leathers, urban metals, large mirrors and glass surfaces and splashes of red in the furniture and accessories), my black tree both complements and enhances the interiors, with its baubles of ruby red glitter, black and white patterning and polished silver, while red tinsel adds shape and consistency to the scheme. Meanwhile, the little Eiffel towers, to be found in both metal and blown glass form not only signpost the major theme of the tree, but also reflect the large Eiffel Tower silhouettes which adorn the walls of my lounge. But perhaps the best representation of the spirit of Paris is not in the Eiffel towers, but the undeniable glamour which is manifested in the little glass chandeliers which hang intermittently amongst the baubles – a touch of ballroom elegance for the masquerade which is dancing its way across the branches of this tree.

So for those doubters amongst you who think that a black Christmas tree is better suited to Halloween, I would ask you to reconsider. For in my Parisian Masquerade I believe I have created a scheme which represents the most festive facet of all the season – a representation of the parties and the glamour which Christmas so proficiently entails.

Join me next week for the climax of my Christmas tree review – Number 4!

The Daily Norm’s Christmas Tree of the Week | No.2: Citrus Sunshine

Designed to complement the sunny orange shades of my office which is appropriately named “The Orange Office”, this week’s Daily Norm Christmas Tree of the Week is a burst of citrus sunshine bringing with it all of the essence of a sunny mediterranean shore in the midsts of an otherwise wintery Christmas season.

With its vivid yellow and orange baubles, this christmas tree scheme sits well within a season whose cuisine is alive with spiced citrus scents, but loses none of the vibrancy and freshness of a summer’s day. That nod to the summer is referenced in the hints of cerulean blue, reminding of a clear summer’s sky and the vast blue waters of the mediterranean sea, but the orange and yellow sparkling glittery reindeers nod back to Christmas again, in an evocation which is the height of festive kitsch. The playfulness introduced by my reindeer is accompanied by the jovial multi-coloured forms of metalic robots, only to be offset by the rich regality of purple flashes, which reflect the wealth and abundance of the Christmas season. And all this is tied together upon the branches of a contemporary black tree, sparkling under two sets of yellow flashing fairy lights, and balanced out by ample strings of glittery yellow tinsel.

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My “citrus sunshine” tree is a perfect example of how both playfulness and modernity can be achieved within the traditional Christmas season, lending a contemporary air and so blending perfectly with the sleek surroundings of an office environment. Of course such a traditional set up will not be suitable for every setting, in the same way that a traditional fir tree may look out of place in a modern flat. But the best thing about Christmas is its ability to adapt its joy-giving decor to all environments, ensuring that wherever you go or live, Christmas need never be absent.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2013 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.