Three Christmas Looks

I have enough Christmas decorations to start may own shop, and I add to my collection every year despite Mr W’s protestations. Most of the house gets a little Christmas hit but the main action is in our living room, bedroom and summer house. This year I’m sticking with the same styles and colour schemes as last year but with a few new additions I’ve picked up when I’ve been out and about. Christmas decorating starts at the end of this month but I thought I’d share some of my plans and ideas on how you could achieve similar looks.

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Welcome to Mi Abode – home of Scandinavian Interiors

No thats not a typo *tuts* and I’m not inviting you to snoop round my house either. Tho if you happen to be in the area and you bring biscuits I’m fairly sure I’d let you in. No, Mi Abode is a Scandinavian interiors and homeware retailer in Uppermill, Saddleworth. Which is a little off the beaten track for us Cumbrians but luckily also has an online store. Phew…

Mi Abode Scandinavian interiors and homeware retailer in Uppermill Saddleworth

So what makes Mi Abode worth talking about? Well for starters they sell a mixture of beautiful but very affordable vintage and contemporary Scandinavian design pieces. But more importantly Mia the owner is actually Scandinavian, and many of the items she sells are actually from Sweden. But what I really love is that some of them are made by her mum Helga. Yes Helga. From Sweden. Could this Scandinavian interiors shop be any more authentic?

So want to see what caught my eye when I happened to be in Uppermill for a very important breakfast meeting (by which I mean a catch up with my sister over heavily buttered fruit toast and coffee)?

The first thing I spotted was these felt baskets. Perfect for rolled up towels or loo rolls in the bathroom, or magazines or throws in the living room.

Felt baskets from Scandinavian interiors retailer MI Abode
Felt baskets – 3 sizes available, priced from £20-36

And then I fell in love with these little fellas.

Elf Christmas decorations from Mi Abode Scandinavian interiors retailer in Uppermill
Elf Christmas decorations made by Helga

Mamma Helga makes these Elf Christmas decorations in various shapes, sizes and shades. I bought the big guy, now known as Lars. He will probably spend Christmas on the living room hearth but he will spend the rest of the year in my Scandi styled summer house……which just might have been featured in Real Homes magazine this month *tosses hair over shoulder celebrity style*

Large Elf Christmas decoration from Mi Abode Scandinavian interiors retailer in Uppermill
Large Elf Christmas decoration
Small elf Christmas decorations from Mi Abode Scandinavian interiors retailer in Uppermill
Small elf Christmas decorations

Mia stocks the key pieces needed to get Hygge like the Danes, i.e. scented candles throws and cushions

Range of wool throws and cushions from Scandinavian interiors retailer Mi Abode in Uppermill
Get Hygge with their range of wool throws and cushions
Longhaired curly lambskin throw from Scandinavian interiors retailer Mi Abode in Uppermill
Longhaired curly lambskin throw

….and its not all monochrome.

Lighting and soft furnishings from Scandinavian interiors retailer MI Abode in Uppermill
Mustard throw and matching shade on tripod lamp

She also has some pretty funky artwork…..

Quirky framed posters from Scandinavian interiors retailer Mi Abode in Uppermill
Quirky framed posters

and fab lighting, including these concrete pendants.

Concrete pendant lights from Scandinavian interiors retailer Mi Abode in Uppermill
Concrete pendant lights

The shop is a veritable treat for the eyes, everywhere you look there’s something you want to prod and poke


And its not just pretty stuff, there are practical things too. Instead of stuffing your kitchen drawers with postcards that you don’t want to throw away, recipes you’ve cut out of magazines and vouchers you want to keep, what about putting them in these cool storage books?

Storage books from Scandinavian interiors retailer Mi Abode in Uppermill
Storage books – perfect for the stuff that usually ends up in the kitchen drawers

So don’t just take my word for it get online at and take a look for yourself



My favourite toilet doors ever

Quick post as I’ve got a few projects finishing at the same time so its a bit hectic at Holly Cottage. Of course it’s my own fault, organising a 3 day jaunt to London at this time of year. In my defence though I was initially playing the role of ‘bike mule’ couriering one of Mr W’s fancy road bikes south, but then Mr W got made redundant……..I know, big news! Expect future postings to go off track as I adjust to living full-time with my husband. So even though my bike mule services were no longer required I decided to stick with the plan as I love nothing more than a troll round the many retailers that don’t exist in Cumbria (that would be all of them then…) and do a little restaurant and bar hopping to see what’s new in the hospitality design space. So as a result here are three new items for the Fantasy Pad, a little Christmas cheer courtesy of Heals and my favourite toilet doors EVER.

so fantasy pad item 1, the Tisno armchair and footstool from Heals. I am  little obsessed with leather chairs and would furnish my whole house with them if I had room, and the money….. This one is just shy of £2k for both in this lovely soft leather. You can have a wool version but why would you.

Tisno armchair and footstool from Heals

Tisno armchair and footstool from Heals

Fantasy pad item number 2, the Windsor chair designed by Katie Walker for Heals. Katie makes very beautiful pieces but is probably best known outside design circles for designing Prince George’s highchair. This baby starts at £2295.

Windsor chair designed by Katie Walker for Heals

…..and looks good with the obligatory sheepskin that manages to make any chair look cool

Windsor chair designed by Katie Walker for Heals

Windsor chair designed by Katie Walker for Heals

Fantasy pad item number 3 is a pair of oak and leather lounge chairs designed by Gareth Neal for Heals. I haven’t decided whether to have black or tan or one of each in the fantasy pad. What the hell they’re only £895….

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Ease lounge chairs by Gareth Neal for Heals

In other news I have broken my Christmas rule – NO DECORATIONS BEFORE 1ST DECEMBER. I blame Heals. Their festive displays practically had me carolling in Tottenham Court Rd. As soon as I got home I was in the garage hauling out the Christmas trees (yes plural). They also prompted me to do things a little differently this year. Now don’t worry I’m not going to go all interior designer on you and start showing you 5 different looks for Christmas. I’m actually from the more is more, santa’s grotto school of thinking when it comes to Christmas decorations. Taste only gets a minor look in. I even purchased a light up reindeer for the garden last year…..

So anyway back to Heals. Their displays were all a little Nordic. Very natural looking, lots of wood, faux fur, pine, cones, candles and dried fruit.

Heals Christmas display

Christmas at Heals

This dark blue velvet looks fab with the fur cushions and throw

Heals Christmas display

Christmas at Heals

I do love a white Christmas scheme with lots of greenery

Heals Christmas display

Christmas at Heals

The Gareth Neal Ease lounge chairs (below left) also fit well with this this look

Heals Christmas display

Christmas at Heals

I already had a lot of cones and dried fruit in my Christmas stash so I stocked up on candles when I passed through IKEA on Sunday and I’ve paired back the tinsel and gone for a more natural approach myself this year. I picked up these wooden reindeer tree decorations in Wilko last year which fit perfectly with my new Nordic/natural look. They have a metal version in their Natures Noel collection this year.


Natures Noel Christmas Decoration Collection at Wilko

And now for the best toilet doors ever (cue drum roll). I’m obsessed with Hospitality design and it’s amazing I haven’t been arrested yet for taking photos in bathrooms. I suspect many people don’t even notice the detail that has gone into some of the designs I’ve seen and admired. But not me, I’m in there with the camera and forcing my male friends to take pics in the mens loos. These were in All Bar One in Houndsditch, London and are my favourite toilet doors by a country mile. I think the pictures of hanging dresses are genius and would look good on wardrobe doors too. The mens loos had ties on them BTW. My so called friend Phil forgot to take the pic when he went to spend a penny….

Hospitality Design - toilet doors in All Bar One Houndsditch

Anyway, back to work and an early Merry Christmas to you all

The Christmas Tree Conundrum

Don’t worry this post isn’t about finding the perfect Christmas tree, it’s way too early for that kind of shenanigans. I hate festive talk before December 1st, and have already berated my Retail employed friends for sharing details of their Christmas ranges when I’m still trying to find a bikini that can miraculously reduce me from a size 12 (….ok 14) to a size 10 (totally happy with 12..). But on the basis I’ve had conversations with two customers this month about this very issue I feel compelled to discuss it now.

September seems to be a popular time to redecorate your living room, perhaps prompted by all the annoying DFS adverts promising to deliver your sofa by Christmas if you order RIGHT NOW! A common mistake many homeowners make when decorating their living rooms is not allowing for the Christmas tree. Now I’m not talking about having a empty space for 49 weeks of the year but it does require a plan that won’t obscure 50% of the TV screen or leave no space for emergency chairs. Here are a few suggestions about how to incorporate your tree so it looks like it was always meant to be there.

Tip 1: If buying a new sofa and armchairs, consider how often your armchairs would be sat in. Could you replace one or more of your armchairs with accent chairs which are smaller and could be relocated to another part of the house more easily. I recently paired this sofa with these chairs for a customer so that she has more room and a place for the Christmas tree.

Alexis large two-seater sofa from Multiyork
Alexis sofa from Multiyork
Lille chair in Oatmeal from Swoon Editions
Lille chair in Oatmeal from Swoon Editions

Tip 2: If you’re planning a scheme that includes side tables and table lamps consider if one of them could be replaced by the tree at Christmas. The table and lamp could be moved to the garage or loft for a few weeks, and if you add enough lights to the tree your room won’t be any darker. Last year I also bought light up boxes like these for the foot for the tree.

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These are available on Amazon if your local garden centre doesn’t stock them

Tip 3: Buy a narrow tree. It seems the manufacturers of artificial trees have finally realised that the average living room isn’t big enough for something 6ft tall and 4ft wide. I have an alcove next to my fireplace that is only 70cm wide and usually houses a log basket. But for 3 weeks of the year it is home to a tall narrow artificial tree which fits perfectly and looks very realistic . I was so pleased with it I actually bought two more so I can have a tree in the TV room and another in the summer house (its actually a year round garden room thanks to the log burner). Yes, I might get huffy about festive talk in November but on 1st December I become Mrs Claus and Holly Cottage turns into a Lapland grotto…

Narrow artificial Christmas tree
Most garden centres and retailers now include slimmer trees in their range

4. Think outside the box. I’m not going to suggest replacing your tree with some twigs in a vase hung with baubles that’s just a teeny weeny bit sad, but if you’re really stuck for space what about a wall sticker? No need to worry about it being behind a door, or too near the sofa. The cat can’t climb it and it’s a lot easier to remove on 12th night. This one from John Lewis is 100cm x 76cm. It might be £55 but by the time you’ve bought a tree, some new decorations that you didn’t need but were too cute to leave in the shop and some replacement lights because last years don’t work any more you’d have spent at least that.

Gold Christmas tree wall sticker from John Lewis
Gold Christmas tree wall sticker from John Lewis

Right that’s enough Christmas chat, I’m starting to twitch.


More is more for this interior designer

It’s been 2 weeks since my last post because quite frankly I’ve been busier than a barmaid in Soho working the New Year’s Eve shift alone. I had completely given up any form of cleaning, myself included, as the house has been so dusty thanks to the army of tradesmen stampeding through the house. I think I’ve coped with the disruption pretty well all things considered. But I did lose the plot a little about a week ago over the state of the bathrooms which resulted in this….


I’m not complaining though, Kevin, Barry, Darren, Gary, Gary, Mike, Jim, Andrew and the many more that work for them have been absolute stars. They’ve been on and offsite to work around each other, turned up last minute when I needed them to and stayed late when I didn’t ask them to. It’s reminded me a little of my old life; a big team all pulling together, overcoming obstacles and putting in the hours to get things done. I think I would have missed that part of my life if I’d not had this house project and chosen a new career that will always involve team work.

So it’s the 20th of December and with the exception of the kitchen, everything I wanted to get done by Christmas has been done. The house is clean (and you don’t know how good that feels), and the decorations are up. Steve is back on Monday 22nd to finish tiling the kitchen, Andrew and Craig are back on Tuesday 23rd to install the kitchen island complete with fridge and wine cooler. Barry is coming that afternoon to fit the electrics on the island and install the pendant lights above. This leaves me Tuesday eve to clean up so that I can finally buy a fridge full of food on Christmas Eve so that we can eat a traditional Christmas dinner on Christmas day. Talk about cutting it fine………But the results are stunning, even if I do say so myself. The kitchen is looking spectacular. Photos to follow next week when it’s finished….

In the meantime I have a few words to say on the subject of Christmas decorations. As you would expect of an interior designer I like great decorations. Depending on where I have been living I’ve explored different styles; modern, traditional, monochrome, colourful etc. but on no occasion have I gone minimalistic. In my view when it comes to Christmas less is not more. More is more. Tasteful yes, but plentiful with a capital P. I wouldn’t do it myself, mainly because I can’t be bothered, but I absolutely love those people who go to town on the exterior of their home. When I lived in Yorkshire we had a neighbour that did this and it cheered me up every single time I pulled into our cul de sac and saw their illuminations. I am testing the water this year though. We have a single glowing reindeer in the garden, and tomorrow I will be adding twinkly lights to the front door and Cluckingham Palace… year Holly Cottage may draw crowds if this years pilot goes well…..


Inside I have gone a little mad but  I haven’t yet bought pictures or accessories for much of the house so thought I may as we’ll dress it up a little. Now, I suspect this is where I differ from many interior designers as I don’t believe you need to spend a lot to make your house look good at Christmas. Wilkinsons and T K Maxx are actually my go to places when it comes to decorations. Wilkos have a great selection of the basics, plus a few quirky extras like this years stags head tree ornaments. They also sell packs of cones, cinnamon sticks and berries that you can add to garlands, trees and wreaths. T K Maxx are best for unusual items, this year being great for recycled wood decorations. I also bought bags of cones, dried oranges and orange slices from Amazon for next to nothing. Maybe I’m disillusioned and my house looks like a train wreck. Maybe I should be a little more Martha Stewart but I know I’ve got a good eye and I think I’ve got it right. Take a look at my pics and make up your own mind whether I deserve to call myself an interior designer or not!

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