Styling my Garden for Summer

It has been quite a week in the Malmo & Moss household. After nine happy years we have moved house, leaving our Edwardian semi behind and taking on a pebble dash dipped renovation project.  It is fair to say that as I closed our front door for the last time on Monday I was about as composed as Gwyneth Paltrow upon discovering that her local Whole Foods had run out of tofu. 

Saying goodbye to our first family home has been emotional

Saying goodbye to our first family home has been emotional

One of the things I will be saddest to leave behind is our kitchen extension and the relationship it allowed us to have with the garden.  That sounds like we were embroiled in an unhealthy coupling with our hardy geraniums but what I mean is the way the design of the extension opened up the house to the garden allowing it to become like an extension of the house in the Summer.

My favourite feature if our old house: the cantilevered corner

My favourite feature if our old house: the cantilevered corner

A corner of our old garden where I proved to be surprisingly green fingered

A corner of our old garden where I proved to be surprisingly green fingered

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Designing a kitchen extension for indoor/outdoor living

We were originally going to just have bifold doors going across the end but ended up going for a cantilevered corner.  It was definitely more expensive ( I will probably still be paying for it when I am 79) but it created so much more wow factor.  We loved having friends round for dinner and opening the doors up to enjoy all of the view of the garden from the table.

Table set ready for dinner with my favourite items from the  Marks & Spencer  Spring/Summer homeware range

Table set ready for dinner with my favourite items from the Marks & Spencer Spring/Summer homeware range

Another key part of the design was having a raised deck that wrapped around the extension and using concrete constructed planters to create a seating area.  That little corner was the sunniest spot in the garden and I loved sitting out there with a cup of tea in the morning or with a glass of wine in the early evening (when the sun had gone down just enough for me to venture out without turning tomato red in twenty seconds).

The seating area on the wrap around decking that we created using raised concrete planters

The seating area on the wrap around decking that we created using raised concrete planters

Summer Styling with Marks & Spencer

Over the last few months as we have prepared for the move,  I have been working with Marks and Spencer (as part of a paid partnership) to explore their Spring/Summer range and to get to know more about the brand I have loved since I was a little girl.  With just days to go before we moved I enjoyed a final fling with my kitchen and garden styling them up to showcase some of the items I selected from the range and to inspire people to go alfresco Scandi Rustic style this Summer.

Table laid with the beautiful, simple  Marlowe dining set

Table laid with the beautiful, simple Marlowe dining set

When I attended the launch for the Spring/Summer collection there were four items that really stood out for me and which I was dying to get my hands on. They were the small bulb vases, the Marlowe dinner set, the white washed wooden hurricane lanterns and candles from the calm range.  I knew that all four would look great on my  Summer table when mixed in with my existing tableware and vintage pieces.

These lovely little bulb vases are great for displaying single stems of flowers like these blousy peonies

These lovely little bulb vases are great for displaying single stems of flowers like these blousy peonies

Peonies plate perfection

Peonies plate perfection

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The Marlowe dinner set is a lovely soft grey and has a great raised rim detail that I really liked.  I set the table with a lovely natural linen table cloth, added the plates and bowls from the set and then lit candles to flicker in the evening sun in the hurricane lamps from the collection. 

The candle from the  calm range  which is crafted with sweet orange and lavender essential oils

The candle from the calm range which is crafted with sweet orange and lavender essential oils

It is no exaggeration to say I love these hurricane lamps so much that they have appeared in literally every shot on my grid since I got them!  The original ones have sold out online but there is a slightly different shape which is equally nice which is still online and linked here .  To add some scent to my Summer table I lit two of the candles from the Calm range the style and price point of which I loved! A single candle is just £7.50 and has notes of cedar wood and clary sage.

My hero item from the range has to be the  white washed hurricane lamps  which I would happily buy for every room in my house

My hero item from the range has to be the white washed hurricane lamps which I would happily buy for every room in my house

The last hurrah I had in the garden was to take my three hero items outside and add in some cushions and planters from the Spring/Summer garden range to create a more casual dining scenario on the decking.

Let’s go outside…….

Let’s go outside…….

Creating a low picnic table from a couple of old pallets covered with a linen tablecloth. These  jute outdoor cushions  from the Marks & Spencer range make great seating

Creating a low picnic table from a couple of old pallets covered with a linen tablecloth. These jute outdoor cushions from the Marks & Spencer range make great seating

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I used a couple of pallets to create a low table and then for comfort, colour and seating used these great outdoor cushions which I have in both a mustard and navy stripe. Given that we have experienced #SiberiaInJune this year I can vouch for the weatherproof nature of them!

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As somebody who is somewhere on the English Rose spectrum between Silas the Albino Monk from the Da Vinci Code and Casper the Friendly Ghost, early evening is actually my favourite time of day in the summer. I love the light at that time of day not to mention the festoon related Instagram opportunities

All that is missing is the food! We actually had an outdoor curry but it didn’t Instagram up as attractively as the cushions!

All that is missing is the food! We actually had an outdoor curry but it didn’t Instagram up as attractively as the cushions!

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The  hi-ball glasses  are also from Marks & Spencer. They have a lovely rippled effect to the glass. I have linked them here if you would like to take a closer look

The hi-ball glasses are also from Marks & Spencer. They have a lovely rippled effect to the glass. I have linked them here if you would like to take a closer look

New Beginnings: Our New House

Whilst I alas could not take my cantilevered corner with me in the move (at least not without causing some serious conveyancing complications) I did bring all of my favourite Marks & Spencers items with me and I am now excited to share some sneak peeks of the new house and garden with you where, after a box unpacking rampage, I have settled in enough to do a little bit of styling!

Pebble dash and White UpVC have replaced my previous cantilever corner but the garden is really rather lovely

Pebble dash and White UpVC have replaced my previous cantilever corner but the garden is really rather lovely

Happy to have unpacked these  concrete planters  which are great for adding a modern industrial element to your garden

Happy to have unpacked these concrete planters which are great for adding a modern industrial element to your garden

I love how “mature” the garden is, it feels like even we can’t manage to kill a hedge this abundant!

I love how “mature” the garden is, it feels like even we can’t manage to kill a hedge this abundant!

A bigger garden for the boys was one of the drivers for our move (along with my desire for a utility room). The garden in our old house was no postage stamp but it was, like the house ( but alas not me) on the narrow side and we ideally wanted somewhere with a bigger wider lawn to see us through the next 15 years of back garden football fixtures. 

The garden is south facing so gets lots off sunshine

The garden is south facing so gets lots off sunshine

I love the contrast of the  jute striped yellow cushions  with the pink hydrangeas

I love the contrast of the jute striped yellow cushions with the pink hydrangeas

This place instantly ticked that box.  It is, like the house, wider and also longer.  It has also been been cared for by someone who knows her Foxgloves from her Fingers so is really mature and fully of things that are thriving rather than barely surviving!.

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However, the existing kitchen extension does not make the most of the possibilities of the garden and so we are excited to get to work with an architect to explore ways to better open the kitchen up to the garden and to reconfigure the internal layout (which is pretty higgedly piggledly but more of that another time). I will be sharing more about those plans as they take shape on the blog but I thought you might like a sneak preview of the kitchen for now so you can get a feel for the scale of the challenge!

Introducing my new kitchen. In an Instagram poll this week it came out on top as the room in the new house people most wanted to see! We are working with an architect to explore how we can better open it to the garden

Introducing my new kitchen. In an Instagram poll this week it came out on top as the room in the new house people most wanted to see! We are working with an architect to explore how we can better open it to the garden

It may not be my modern rustic dream but it is liveable with for now!

It may not be my modern rustic dream but it is liveable with for now!

#This Blog Post is part of my Paid Partnership with Marks & Spencer and the items that I feature were gifted to me as part of that partnership.#

Malmo & Moss House: Bringing Scandi Back

As regular readers of the blog will know, we spent our Summer holiday this year in Denmark visiting both Copenhagen and Tisvildleje on the Danish Coast. It was a dream of a trip for a Scandophile like me.  I came home more convinced than ever before that I am in fact a Danish Girl trapped in a Geordie Girl's body (Danish girl in the sense of a female from Denmark rather than the Eddie Redmayne man wanting to be a woman film sense).  Unfortunately my actual body returned home looking less Helena Christensen and more Danny Devito owing to my excessive consumption of kanelsnegles.  Whilst I am waiting for Nationality realignment surgery to become available on the NHS I thought I would share with you some of the fresh Danish interiors inspiration for the kitchen and garden that I picked up on the trip and how I have been translating it into the Malmo & Moss house now I am home.

Let's Go Outside.....

Whilst staying in Tisvildleje we stumbled upon a cafe somebody had set up on their front garden to sell their own home brewed slow drip coffee.  The contrast with our own front garden couldn't have been greater.  There wasn't a wheelie bin or fox poo in sight.  What they had instead, which I fell more than a little bit in love with, was a garden seating area constructed out of palletts.  It was totally inexpensive but looked amazing and I loved the seating cushions they had made to fit it which were a mix of muted greys and monochrome and looked great against the backdrop of abundant lavender, mint and rosemary growing in the planters.  

I had already seen pallets used in other Scandi gardens on pinterest and loved them so when I got home I started scanning skips in search of some I could use to recreate the look.  Luckily @vintagecuratorinteriors came up trumps before I had to go full #StigOfTheSkip.  My long term plan for them is to create a coffee table on wheels but it has been a busy Summer and any time I have started the sentence "could you just pop to B&Q to get some castors" Mr Malmo has given me the kind of look that suggests I have got more chance of getting him to go on a crochet blanket making course with out 75 yr old neighbour Margery.  But for now I kind of like the way the look just stacked one on top of the other.

I have also added an extra shot of Scandi to my outdoor seating area through the purchase of some new cushions and a rug.  All in a mixture of patterns and textures but sticking to a monochrome palette.  I sourced some of the cushions from two of my favourite independent stores for Scandi homeware, Grey September Store and Jo & Co Home, but also picked up a cushion and the rug from B&Q who, in amongst the endless drill bits and polyfiller supplies actually have some really great soft furnishings at bargain prices (this is not a sponsored blog either!).  The large zig zag cushion was just £7 and the rug a mere £15. 

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Now that Autumn is upon us, I have also borrowed another trick from the Danes and introduced a shot of hygge to the garden with a gorgeous rusty firepit from Cox & Cox.  I did a lot of research before choosing this one #firepitbore.   You can easily spend hundreds of pounds but this one is just £80 and is super lightweight and easy to move around the garden.  We gave it a debut burn at our tenth wedding anniversary party in October which was themed around recreating a mini version of the Woodstock festival in our garden.  

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Unfortunately as we are only amateur urban arsonists we did not dry our hastily purchased petrol station logs before chucking them on the fire.  Therefore, instead of creating a warm blaze around which people could huddle, drink hot chocolate and chat, we instead had a smoking inferno on our hands that sent people running inside for a drink of water.  I have since discovered that you can actually buy smokeless logs from Tesco should anybody else find themselves hosting a middle class party and not have twenty four hours to dry their wood out in advance. 

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Bringing Scandi to the Kitchen Table

I follow lots of beautiful Scandinavian instagram accounts for inspiration but my all time favourite has to be that of Signe Bay, a photographer and stylist based in Copenhagen.  Her feed often features of two of my greatest Danish loves: cinnamon buns and ceramics.  Our Summer holiday featured lots of both.  I could have piled the car high with pottery but the reality of going away on holiday when you have 3 children is that you have to travel with essentially all of your possessions so slipping a small dinner service into the footwell was sadly not an option.  

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When we got home I started looking for places I could source some of the beautiful ceramics I had seen on holiday here in the UK.  My inner Signe lit up when I came across Feather & Marble,  a small independent business set up by Emily & Ollie in 2016 after they too visited Copenhagen and fell under the Danish spell.  They now stock over 1000 handpicked items from Danish brands including the beautiful tableware of Broste Copenhagen whose Salt cup and saucer is my new favourite mug and believe me I don't bandy that title around lightly.   It takes quite a cup to come along and turn my tea drinking head.

Taking a tea break with my new favourite mug. Gorgeous calligraphy label made for me by the very talented Kate of  Oysterbridge & Co

Taking a tea break with my new favourite mug. Gorgeous calligraphy label made for me by the very talented Kate of Oysterbridge & Co

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This beautiful bluey bowl from  Feather & Marble  reminded me of the sea in Tisvileje

This beautiful bluey bowl from Feather & Marble reminded me of the sea in Tisvileje

Having secured ceramics fit for a flat lay, I started researching cinnamon bun recipes so I had something #suitablysigne to serve up on my Danish table.  I am not, by nature, a patient baker.  If a recipe features more than 5 steps I tend to turn over.  This BBC Good Food recipe for "simple cinnamon rolls" has, therefore, proved perfect for me.   If I had to sum it up in 4 simple steps it would be mix dry and wet ingredients together to make a dough, roll out into a rectangle, smear huge ammounts of melted brown sugar, butter and cinnamon on said rectangle, roll up and cut into segments like a swiss roll, cook for 30 mins then cram into your mouth fresh from the oven.  The slightly more detailed version is set out below should you be the kind of person who likes to know actual quantiies of ingredients, cooking times and the like.

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I made them on the morning of the Occasional Home Store Autumn Fair for our stallholders and they got hoovered up very quickly.  I have had a few mishaps along the way witht them though.  For example, if you add more cinnamon to the dough than the recipe dictates because you don't think they will be cinnamony enough all you will achieve is giving your buns an off brown appearance that is reminiscent of a pair of corduroy trosuers  your dad might wear in.  Leaving them in too long/cooking them at too high a temperature has also caused me problems as then the sugar filling bubbles out and goes black leaving you with buns that look more like lumps of coal than kanalsnegle.  But other than those two small glitsches I would say they are pretty much fool proof and I would love to know how you get on with making them.

Simple Cinnamon Bun served on beautiful Broste side plates from  Feather & Marble

Simple Cinnamon Bun served on beautiful Broste side plates from Feather & Marble

Simple Cinnamon Buns

Ingredients

  • Rolls:

  • 350g/12oz self raising flour

  • Pinch of salt

  • 2tbsp caster sugar

  • 1tsp ground cinnamon

  • 100g/3.5oz butter, melted and extra for greasing

  • 2 egg yolks

  • 200ml/7 fl oz milk, extra for glazing

  • Filling:

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 55g/2oz brown sugar

  • 2 tbsp caster sugar

  • 1 tbsp butter, melted

  • Icing:

  • 125g/4.5 oz icing sugar, sifted

  • 2 tbsp cream cheese, softened

  • 1 tbsp butter, softened

  • about 2 tbsp boiling water

  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

  1. Grease a 20-cm/8-inch round tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.

  2. Mix the flour, salt, caster sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Whisk the butter, egg yolks and milk together and combine the dry ingredients to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a large piece of waxed paper, lightly sprinkled with flour, and roll out to a rectangle 30 x 25cm/12 x 10 inches.

  3. To make the filling mix the ingredients together, spread evenly over the dough and roll up, Swiss-roll style to form a log. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 even-sized slices and pack into the prepared tin. Brush gently with extra milk and bake in a preheated oven, 180C/350F, for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tin.

  4. Sift icing sugar into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Place the cream cheese and butter in the centre, pour over the water and stir to mix. Add extra boiling water, a few drops at a time, until the frosting coats the back of a spoon. Stir in the vanilla essence, then drizzle the icing over the rolls. Serve warm or cold.

Recipe reproduced from BBC Good Food.