How to master the art of ‘maximalism arranging’

You know by now Im a self certified collector (some call it hoarder, I prefer collector!)

From the charity shop finds, to the beautiful bits I acquire whilst sourcing product for Melody Maison and WindsorBrowne , my house is fairly full to the brim, so what do I do with them?

Well, i love ‘arranging’  – so filling a surface with a collection, and arranging them,  just like flowers, only with objects. My taste is vast. From the ever-so-pretty to the downright quirky (and everything in between)

So how do you start arranging , and what should you do to stop it looking like a jumble sale stall! Heres my top tips,  from how to begin your hoard (I mean collection!) where to buy, and to how to assemble it

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One of quirky windsor browne style mantel piece collections – Hare from Dunelm

My Number 1 tip is :

Mix it up! – By all means pick a style, or a colour palette, but don’t shop for everything in one place. Visit car boot sales, eBay, charity shops (some of my most amazing finds are from these sort of places, and you get a double glow from owning something wonderful, but that only cost a few pounds , sometimes pence!) Then visit the vintage fairs, antiques markets and your favourite On-line and high street retailers as well as unusual boutique home wares shops so your collections are diverse and an interesting talking point ( I love telling stories of my nik-nak finds to anyone who will listen, from the beautiful mirror I found in a skip, to the jug I paid a £1 for that was worth £50!

 

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Pretty bits n bobs in my dining room

Tip number 2 :

Always buy with your heart, choose things that speak to you – usually with the words “if you don’t buy me today I wont be here tomorrow, and then you will be sad!”  Never buy just because you think the shape or colour is the missing thing, rather than just loving it yourself. I have bought plenty like this, and now I’ve learned to stop and think, ‘can I look at this every day for years and still love it?’ if the answer is Yes, great, you know what to do!

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There’s pretty much one of everything here! – Rabbit from Anthropologie

Tip number 3

Don’t be frightened of mixing colours and styles. If you are choosing with your heart then it will usually work. And if it doesn’t , start a new collection elsewhere! Interior design rules typically says choose no more than 3 colours, and stage things in groups of descending sizes….blah, blah, blah.  When choosing colour, I say pick 3, pick 7, pick 9, as long as they all speak to each other, or reference something else in the room, like a flower in a rug,  or a design on a cushion, go for it . This is not show home arranging this is maximalism!

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Simple colours & variety make my kitchen window have personality, but it’s still clean looking . Squirrel from Partylite

Tip number 4

So you’ve got past the colour thing, now what about themes. Themes are great for this sort of arranging, but don’t get carried away, a shelf with 42 teapots, or 64 cat ornaments may seem cute, but also might may make you look a bit crazy! so don’t go all one thing in one space (animal clutter is great btw, big fan, just remember to break it up around the house!) So for instance at the moment Ive got a thing for ornamental rocking and wooden horses, yes I have 3 mixed in with this arrangement, but the other 5 I own are scattered on other surfaces .

 

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Pretty shabby chic collection

Tip number 4

Don’t do too much symmetry. I too can appreciate  the show home look with a candelabra at either end, and 2 of everything all symmetrically arranged in descending sizes in between, but the maximalism look requires mashing it up. Put 2 of the same thing at either end, it works, but equally it may look just as good right next to each other

 

Tip number 5

Now , what to pick? Don’t be frightened to break ‘rules’ Pictures and mirrors aren’t just for walls, they look great lent up at the back of an arrangement. And vases aren’t just for flowers, fill them with feathers, or fairy lights or smaller collectables if its see-through. Yes throw away that rule book!

 

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Some very pretty clutter!

 

Tip number 6:

I like to move it, move it….and move it again! Once you are happy with the positioning or say 2 or 3 larger or important pieces, work all the other items around those, but it may take time. I sometimes move a surface around at least 5 or 6 times…and then I do it again! sometimes on a weekly basis till I’m happy or to allow a new treasure to be inserted somewhere (and to be totally honest,  I am a professional ‘faffer’ so I’m never going to be entirely happy , so one day every few months I will probably move it all around again!)

 

Tip number 7:

Finally, tip 7 is the maximalist big one – Invest in an ostrich feather duster! Sadly (i think tragically) the reason most people are averse to ‘ornamenting’ is the dust. I get it, it drives you crazy, but not only are ostrich feathers super delicate and light, so you can swish and poke them everywhere without risking breaking everything, they are also statically charged, so they will take the dust away with them , not just move it around.

So why not have a go, start by bringing a few of your favourite things together, and see what transpires. And if you are including any Melody Maison Or Windsor Browne gems in there, don’t forget to email me at customer services with pics, as we love to include customer pics on our inspiration pages

 

Till next time

Anna x

 

 

 

 

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Go Potty For Ceramics!

As you have no doubt gathered, when I fall, I fall deep. It’s addiction, but bordering on obsessional. For some girls it’s a man but for me it’s …. Ceramics! Yes my George Clooney is a teacup and my Benedict Cumberbatch is a side plate (OK I’m not saying I’d choose a side plate over Benedict but I’m less likely to find him gathering dust on a shelf in a charity shop!)

I have some beautiful pieces I have collected over the years, some floral and vintage and some that favour my current passion which is for the darker side of interiors.

This stunning vase I came upon at my beloved Hemswell antique centre for just £28. It’s the most amazing deep peacock blue and it had me at hello! (Benedict would have had me before hello incidentally!)

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Peacock blue is a passion for me right now, how stunning is this shiny vase

I frequently move stuff around rooms, depending on my mood, as sitting in a cupboard behind glass is all very well to keep dust at bay, but some things need to be admired in close range.  I do have some very delicate bits in a velvet lined sitting room cabinet, mainly some very Downton Abbey-esque Noritake Ive been collecting for years, so pretty, I never get bored of looking at these.

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Pretty Noritake China

Now, I’m not the sort of person who lives in perpetual state of tidiness and I don’t normally have my dining table laid for a dinner party I’m not going to have, but on fishing some china plates out of a dark cupboard recently, I felt the need to stage this just for a few weeks so I can remind myself of the loveliness that is vintage china, none of this was more than a few pounds a piece. Some from charity shops, some from vintage shops.

 

This gorgeous bowl and matching plate with the scalloped edge was from a lovely local vintage shop not far from our  own shop, Melody Maison, in Harworth, Near Doncaster  (see below for both shops directions ) and is perfect for a Christmas dinner table for the obligatory Cranberry sauce offering.

Like all good china nuts, I do own a ‘full matching set’ that would make your Nana proud, and allow me to offer tea to HM The Queen (should she drop in!) and I have used this at Christmas before, but with a family of 20-26 to feed for most of our family Christmas lunch’s , it doesn’t stretch that far so, I did pull together every mismatched floral china plate I own to do a vintage style Christmas table (not sure the male relatives appreciated the daintiness of the plates but it looked lovely!)

Ceramics are not just for the dining table or sitting room cabinet though,  my bathroom pretties have appeared in my blog before,. A beautiful lined pine vintage wall cupboard, also from Hemswell Antiques Centre, is now crammed with all manner of  vintage ceramic plates, pots, vases and figures and, I can sit looking at them all from the bath!

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Cupboard full of all things pretty

 

I can’t go without showing you some splendid china from House of Fraser Ive been admiring. This is the quirky ‘n’ vintage versus the pretty ‘n’ vintage sides of me battling as per usual. Peacocks and roses are up there in my top 5 list of things I adore right now (this list also includes Mr Cumberbatch!) and depending on the day of the week, I cant choose my fave. I love greens and pinks equally too.

And here’s just some of the lush ceramic pieces we currently have in the Melody Maison shop.

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A small selection of gorgeous grey and green ceramics in the Melody Maison shop

If you are ever near Doncaster,  Tickhill or Bawtry do come and visit, we’re ever such a nice bunch and we have oodles of gorgeous things like this to coo over ( be quick though cos Im pretty sure those goregeous green urns are going to find their way to my house if they catch my eye line one more time!)

 

click here for link for address/directions for the Melody Maison shop 

Until next time, happy collecting and vintage shopping

Anna x

oo, as promised,  heres a link to address for Forget Me not Antiques in Tickhill (why not visit us both, we are just 2 miles apart)

How long should a girl spend in front of a mirror?

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Don’t worry, this  isn’t another make-up contouring blog, I was just pondering the fact that at Melody Maison, we sell as many mirrors, as we do all our other products added together!

Wow – Vanity? Or just home styling, So I decided to investigate…

I discovered from reading multiple articles that the average UK woman spends 55 minutes a day in front of the mirror. At first I couldn’t quite believe that’s the ‘average’  (so many must be spending a lot more!) but when I thought about it, I myself, whilst I might only do 20-30 minutes in front of my dressing table mirror a day (depending on whether its hair wash day or not!) how many other times during the day, do I ‘glance’ in the mirror. Its hard to keep count, but I think I clocked up an additional 14 times in one day!

Seems a lot doesn’t it, but I’m not vain, so I’m guessing I am the ‘average ‘ woman .

See if these checks you do too:

When you leave the loo (the skirt tucked in pants check) when you clean your teeth (the spinach check)  Just before you walk out the front door  (the ‘is it too warm for a jacket’ check) or at the pub ( the ‘did all my lipstick really come off from just eating some chips’ check)

So this explained why mirrors sell so well, small mirrors costing less than £10, we sell hundreds (teeth checker mirror?)

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A top selling mini heart mirror from Melody Maison
but the current big hit is the BIG mirror. The top to top, shoe to hair , I want to see the whole picture, mirror!

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The elise cheval mirror, so pretty
I walked round my house and counted no less than 32 mirrors! Sound strange, I also counted how many I use on at least a daily/weekly basis……9!

So Mirrors are clearly a decorative purchase for me, just like a picture, or an ornament , but with a practical use , even if it is occasionally!

Here’s some of my mirrors. As you may know by now I have eclectic taste, so whilst some of  my house is pretty, vintage and shabby chic, some is elegant and heritage antique style,  and some is dark, moody and quirky and this reflects (sorry, no pun intended!) in my mirror choices.

 

And which one do I use the most, well I narrowed it down to 1st , 2nd and third place

In Third place, the leaving the house mirror. This is a antique mantel mirror that hangs above the hall table (above top left) An eBay purchase, several years ago, I loved it because it was less than perfect – classy n’ shabby in equal measure. So the glass has foxed in many places, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve glued bits of frame back on!

In second place, is my ‘getting dressed’ mirror. Gold and glamorous,  on my landing just outside my dressing room, it’s the perfect proportion for a full-length check (I also love it because,  like all good friends, it tells me I’m thinner than I actually am! Some glass does seem to do that, not sure why, but who am I to argue!)

A Collection Of My Gold Home Accessories Large And Small
My Huge gold dressing Mirror on my landing, so elegant

 

Of course in top place is the faithful dressing table mirror – My dressing table is a shameful mess most of the time, hence the very small image on the top right above, if you look closely you will see it physically sigh from the pressure of relentlessly trying it’s best to make me look presentable! My dressing room, is a full on girly sanctuary, and my dressing table and mirror , a  60’s vintage classic, gets most of my attention. I use it for getting ready 7 days a week. The cute make up gets to live on the top –  Charlotte Tilbury is my current favourite, her make up is fabulous, but it mainly drew me to it because the packaging with rose gold highlights is just divine.

If you are looking for a dressing table mirror, large floor mirror, or a dinky                 ‘hows the smile’ mirror, of course Melody Maison is a market leader, but here’s another fabulous one I’m hankering after (mirror number 33??) This gold triple dressing table from Laura Ashley.  I’m thinking as its not too tall, this will be perfect for placing on top of a high chest of drawers or in my bathroom window

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Dressing table mirror from Laura Ashley

 

Just before I go, How much time do you spend in front of the mirror? There is no fit bit for measuring that, but if there was , would you be as surprised? Go on,  log your ‘mirror’ day, and as you look in one, dare you to say ….Darling you look fabulous!!

 

Till next time

Anna x

 

Fabulous Florals & how to use them in your home decor

Floral decor is a gorgeous trend that I personally am a massive fan of, in fact I didn’t realise quite how much, until I started to look to take pictures of my floral belongings and decor, and there was too much to include, I think Ive managed to settle on my favourites, and as you’ll see, I am a eclectic girl, from vintage blues , pinks and peaches, to dark and glamorous black and purple flora.

The oversized flower rug was a fairly recent purchase from Modern Rugs that i intended for my office at work, but looked too good in my spare bedroom, it never made it into work! And my love of vintage shown here clearly extends to all things flora, as these other purchases show.

One trend that seems to come and go in interiors,  but is currently back with a vengeance is floral wallpaper. In particular the bold and the brave oversized prints and dark coloured backgrounds.

Heres my personal favourite wallpaper. This one is a great use of an oversized print on a dark background, from ellie cashman designs – what an impact it makes in a small space like a cloakroom, especially with gold ostentatious taps and accessories.

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Stunning Bold floral wallpaper from Ellie Cashman designs

 

My own floral wallpaper in my dressing room is not as bold, but as I come to write this Im thinking the black and bold one would look fabulous in there. I will need to tire of this one first though. I inherited some  matching shot silk curtains 7 years go in the same shade of peach, and although sadly the curtains deteriorated in the sun so much, i had to bin them last year, the pelmet (and the paper) are still going strong!

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pretty floral wallpaper from Anna French

But if you dont want to go this bold, try a few cushions or a throw, and  you don’t have to look for far for floral inspiration, this bedroom shot by Ideal Home on  pintrest is a stunning neutral room, with just a few noticeable, but subtle pops of floral.

 

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Gorgeous floral cushions enhance this pale bedroom

 

take a peek at  Kate Forman for stunning subtle florals, expensive but forever fabrics, or if you want to spend wisely, Dunelm is perfect for floral cushions starting at just £18.

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Blue & pink floral bird cushions

I paid slightly more for these gorgeous teal & pink velvet ones from there Dorma collection, but they look and feel very high end (my doggies love them too, had to forcibly remove them to get this picture!)

 

And as always,  Melody Maison is a great source of all things floral, here’s just a small selection of my favourites, from pretty flora jugs to just add a bit of summer to a room scheme, to Mirrors and furnishings, hopefully you can see how bringing the outdoors inside, just got easier.

So, here’s hoping your flora ambitions are heightened after reading this, be it bold and dark, or pretty in pink,  give  bit of flower power to your interior design

Learn about the best place for interiors shopping on Planet Earth!

As a director of a busy home interiors and furniture company, sometimes its hard to find time to go to the places you love as much as you would like, but sometimes, I will make time somehow, for what is ‘my guilty pleasure’

Truth be told, it is actually my second favourite place on earth, but my favourite place is my bed, and that wouldn’t make an interesting article at all – Stories of falling asleep aren’t what top selling novels are made of after all!

So my favourite place (when I’m awake) is, not surprisingly for a female who happens to be an interiors buyer, a Furniture and interiors shopping destination –  Hemswell Antiques Centres in Lincolnshire , which is apparently the largest antiques centre in Europe, yet just 45 minutes from my home.

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Just one of Hemswell antique Centres many buildings

I can easily spend a full week there, after all it is vintage heaven, but I try and limit it to a few hours to show I do have willpower!

My Home is Edwardian, so antique and vintage items are perfect for it. Don’t get me wrong, I love repro vintage just as much. I couldn’t do what I do for a living if I didn’t, and some things just need to be clean and new don’t they,  but my true passion is real vintage. Never expensive though, as I tire of things sometimes a little too easily to be handing over hundreds of pounds, so you are more likely to see me buying mid-century kitsch, and quirky industrial style stuff or inexpensive pretty mirrors and accessories than a mega bucks work of art, albeit I have to stop and ogle those too.

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The amazing wildlife I saw on a recent visit! – I bought 2 of them!

Now I do love a small independent vintage shop, an antiques market or a charity shop (or even looking in the odd skip!) any day of the week, in fact passing a charity shop without going in is an ability I do not possess, but well, Hemswell, has all of this. They have at least 7 different old aircraft buildings; some will offer low priced vintage bric-a-brac, with several ‘priced too cheaply’ golden nuggets hidden amongst them if you are prepared to look closely  (I should not be telling you this!)

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This little kitsch fella was just £25, sadly I walked away without him

And some offer High priced antiques, but still worth a visit as they will have beautiful reasonably priced bits and pieces hidden amongst the expensive stuff. I saw this stunning window mirror on a recent visit, but I think I will have to love this and walk away again, as sadly my walls are full to capacity

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A gorgeous vintage window converted to a shabby chic mirror

However over the years, I have amassed lots of vintage items from here, and here’s both some I have recently bought, and some I’ve owned and loved for years

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My vintage bathroom mirror collection, 3 of which came from Hemswell

Alongside (and on top of) the mirror collection, my new purchase this week (I said I do buy new too) is this gorgeous enamel finish flora jug from M & S  & the artificial flower arrangement is from a selection from Melody Maison

 

My favourite recent vintage purchase though, and one I think you could easily put in a London boutique for 4 times the price is this gorgeous Pineapple, whose leaves are actual olive forks, This was £9! I do eat olives, but this one just took up residency in my dining room, looking pretty here with other items of loveliness I own.

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1960’s Olive fork Pineapple

And in my downstairs loo, an ornate mid century gold wall mirror, as you can see from the wallpaper,  the theme in here is ostentatious , so a very showy mirror is what was required here.

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My downstairs loo wall mirror

I also love elegant vintage glassware. I own way too much for one small family. This beautiful little selection of cut glasses cost £3 each and looks lovely against the dark background and a silver tray

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Vintage tray and glasses

and here’s some ‘now where have I got an spare inch of room this might go’ checklist     So I come home, and generally don’t find said space, but kick myself for not buying it , and generally it wont be there next time I go anyway

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Vintage embroidered Exotic Birds

these stunning hand embroidered exotic Birds, probably from the 60s/70s , are so on trend at the moment, sadly wall space dictated another walk away, although as I type this, Im planning a re-visit, they may still be there……….

 

Til next time x

Anna Elkington – Founder of Melody Maison Furniture & Interiors

 

 

How to use the colour Grey to best effect in your home

So many room colours fascinate me, for various reasons. Some for their calming powers, some for their vibrancy and some for the way they light up a room, but grey doesn’t fit into any of these categories as a colour, and yet it still manages to remain one of the top decoration colour trends

The daring will go for a dark grey, such as the farrow and ball colour Downpipe. With its blue-black undertones, it risks being hard looking, and yet is bold and enchanting and is a fabulous choice for walls and cabinetry.

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Kitchen cabinetry painted in Farrow and Ball – Downpipe

 

And what about dark grey for walls….and the ceiling.                                                                In a bedroom it creates a dark and sinister look to some extent, but before you think  this ones for just the vampires, imagine how it wraps you up in a womb-like warmth after dark. I love it.

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Stunning dark grey bedroom

 

This wow hallway is stunning in mid grey. And with some funky and quirky bohemian accessories (I love the gold cranes and the gold mirror, but I’m not sure where I stand on bug art though!) I think as long as you have a plentiful light source in your hallway, why not be a bit bold with colour.

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Mid grey wall in a hallway

 

But if these dark grey’s scare you , or you want more warmth to your grey, worry not, slightly warmer shades of grey are popular too. This is a shot from the recent furniture photo shoot we did at Melody Maison, where we used 2 shades, with brown undertones, to create warmth.

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Set in stone by valspar wall paint has a much warmer tone

‘set in stone’ is the top colour, and ‘ancient wonder’ is the darker colour,both by    Valspar at B&Q

Both would look good alone too. How great do they look with the French grey collection from Melody Maison?

 

Also, shown here with the Lyon range from Windsor Browne

The Lyon Range By Windsor Browne
The Lyon Range – By Windsor Browne

 

In my own home, I have 3 rooms decorated in grey, all 3 set totally different moods. I did not realise quite how many rooms I have that are grey until I came to write this article! (My other favoured room colour seems to be green incidentally, which tops grey with 4 rooms!)

My kitchen cabinetry, in Cornforth white and Downpipe, both from Farrow and Ball , they are a classic combination, of light and dark greys, and coupled with some silver and white accessories, it creates a cool traditional look

Kitchen cabinetry in Cornforth white and Downpipe by Farrow and Ball

Kitchen cabinetry in Cornforth white and Downpipe by Farrow and Ball

 

I love my walking silver stag on the shelf, and all the silver coloured bits and bobs against a dark background. For similar accessories in silver that work well with dark back drops, what about the single angel wing from Melody Maison

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Angelic!

or visit at home in the country for loads more silver stag ornamentation. They have everything from photo frames to wine coolers, perfect for the current trend of stags and countryside critters

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Stags make great drinking buddies!

 

My bedroom, is a bit more of a Victorian floral vibe. I used a light-mid grey , this is   dulux  ‘goose down’ coupled with purples, pinks and greens , I love this colour combo so much , in particular the bedding,  which is from designers guild . With its dark grey background, and huge flowers in strong colours, its floral bedding on a grand scale.   They have an amazing bold collection of statement design bedding, and fabrics. The floral picture above the fire is from is also from Melody Maison

My Grey bedroom
My Grey bedroom

 

So,  if you are thinking of decorating, I hope I’ve inspired you to try a bit of grey in your life, as grey doesn’t have to mean dull!

 

 

Great ideas for how to decorate your home using Animals as a theme

Shabby, kitsch and quirky….

…are not the names of my pets!  (maybe they should be)  but rather what sums up my taste in interior décor

Currently I have a penchant for what I call ‘critter chic’   – that’s animals and birds in all shapes, styles and sizes, from parrots to peacocks and pooches to foxes. In fact animal décor is so in vogue at the moment, it is impossible to not find some new cutie or some vintage weird n wonky creature everywhere I go.

My own wall mounted stag
My own wall mounted stag

Every room in my home differs in style, but what ties them together is they are all crammed with bits n bobs n trinkets, including quite a few critter’s from our own Melody Maison and Windsor Browne stores

brass monkeys from www.windsorbrowne.co.uk
its brass monkeys out there! – £33.95 from http://www.windorbrowne.co.uk

My bedroom – My bedside table has a beautiful perched bird lamp I purchased some time ago from our Melody Maison showroom, and the pink trinket box with gold kingfisher is a recent purchase from next

My bedside table bird friends
My bedside table bird friends

My sitting room – has a botanical Victoriana theme, so I have managed to incorporate some elegant parrots, foxes and even a tortoise in here. My current favourite recent purchase is a gold framed ceramic parrot and cockatiel pair, from asda – Yes asda of all places – this could quite easily have appeared in a quirky high end boutique at 3 times the price, and I’d of probably still bought it, but at a bargain £8.00, I can imagine they wont be there for long.

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cockatiel & parrot in gold frame – pieces of 8, pieces of 8….pounds!

and  my other recent quirky purchase is a distressed gold tortoise bowl, from one of my favourite quirky designers, Abigail Aherne .

My gold tortoise sweetie dish by Abigail Aherne
My gold tortoise sweetie dish by Abigail Aherne

So if you are looking to add some cute or quirky friends to your decor, go subtle and sweet with a small piece, like this cute piggy mirror from Melody Maison….

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3 little vain pigs!

or go bold touch with this amazing wallpaper from wallpaperdirect, I love it!  I’m putting this on my future room décor wish list, possibly for my downstairs loo? I’ll keep you posted on that project in due course.

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Wow! Gold framed animals on the walls?

And finally, even my bathroom doesn’t escape the animal magic! My bathroom is very vintage, and my cute ceramic kitsch dogs take pride of place in my wall mounted display cabinet which is full of stuff just like your Nana used to have… ‘Nana chic’ anyone?  All from boot sales, and vintage shops

My little bunch of Kitsch n vintage ceramic dogs …. Poodle power!
My little bunch of Kitsch n vintage ceramic dogs …. Poodle power!

and I have managed to find someone who loves this look even more than I do, hey, why stop at 3 dogs! – This room shot was one I found on pintrest of someone’s room,  who clearly has a very similar love of vintage kitsch dog stuff.

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Vintage pooches collection AKA ‘Nana chic’

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this weeks blog, let me know what you think and about your animal passions.

Happy Bank holiday weekend all!

Anna Elkington

(oh, and by the way, in case you were wondering, my pet dog’s real names are Maggie, Archie and Ruby….warning cute dog picture alert!)

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My 3 naughty, but adorable pooches!