Living Greens

‘Living Greens’, the name says it all. A combination of rustic woods, moss and lime greens, hints of sea green and the surprise introduction of pale coral and copper, brings life to this third homes range from M&S homeware. I like the flexibility of this collection, nothing is too strickly matchy-matchy, but rather mixed together for an authentic combination.

I loved putting together this flatlay mood board for this look, searching for the reindeer moss, lichen-covered sticks, vintage buttons from my mother-in-law’s cupboard and botanical pictures I’ve been itching to use. We wanted to show this range against two backgrounds, the rustic wooden cabin look, as well as the fresh white walls of a real home, showing how well this look will work just about anywhere.

Styling this look was so inspiring and I was lucky enough to be assisted by Mihaela Berbecar (who is a flash with steaming piles of bedding!) The gorgeous photography was captured by Jon Day , who is a pleasure to work with.

 

Living Greens flatly for M&S Homes

 

Living Greens Bedroom for M&S Homes

 

Living Greens Bedding for M&S Homes

 

Living Greens vases for M&S Homes

 

Living Greens Living room for M&S Homes

 

Living Greens Dining room for M&S Homes

 

Living Greens Armchair for M&S Homes

 

M&S Living Greens Homeware shopping

 

Styling, Direction, Production: Theoda Solms Iles

Photography: Jon Day

Stylist Assistant: Mihaela Berbecar

Set Builder: Gareth Johnson, from Tim Warren Set Building

for M&S Homes, Spring Summer 2018

 

Simply Natural

This calming natural palette incorporates highlights of white, warming wood and sophisticated metals, like chrome for a fresh update, just a few elements forming part of the new ‘Simply Natural’ range, the second homes trend by M&S. Look out for lovely bed linen with lace and stitching detail, modern Jacquard weaves, all in natural fabrics. Again, vases are my favourite for their simplicity and versatile uses, not forgetting rustic tableware and outdoor lanterns, perfect for summer evenings.

We shot these lovely shots in a fabulous location in South Norwood in late September last year. Gorgeous natural lighting captured by super interiors photographer, Jon Day and styling by me, Theoda Solms Iles, and of course assisted by the lovely Mihaela Berbecar.

Simply Natural Whites flatly for M&S Home

 

Simply Natural Whites Bedroom for M&S Home

 

Simply Natural Whites Lanterns for M&S Home

 

Simply Natural Whites Kitchen Shelf for M&S Home

 

Simply Natural Whites Vases for M&S Home

 

Simply Natural Whites Living Room for M&S Home

 

Simply Natural Whites Bedroom for M&S Home

 

Simply Natural Whites Towels for M&S Home

 

Simply Natural Whites Shopping for M&S Home

 

Styling, Direction, Production: Theoda Solms Iles

Photography: Jon Day

Stylist Assistant: Mihaela Berbecar

Set Builder: Gareth Johnson, from Tim Warren Set Building

for M&S Homes, Spring Summer 2018

 

Artisan Blues

M&S Homes have a new approach to their homeware for Spring/Summer’18 and I’m very excited to show it to you. Instead of having bold definite themes to their trends, the new look concentrates on three different colour looks and within, incorporating all areas of the home. Great upholstery in relaxed styles and quality textured weaves. Simple lined glassware verging on utilitarian becomes stylish in blues and greens. The idea is that customers buy the piece because they can imagine it in their own homes, adding to their existing scheme, rather than redesigning their whole look to fit a new trend.

For this new direction, I was fortunate enough to be the stylist on the shoot. Planning the whole shoot was super exciting and finding suitable locations to showcase the new looks. I even commissioned the build of a blue-concrete wall as a backdrop for some of the more contemporary shots (see below).  And as you’d imagine, the sourcing of gorgeous blooms to adorn the shots, was a certain highlight.

Artisan Blues flatlay for M&S Home

Now more about whats new for Spring/Summer 2018. The latest interiors collection from M&S includes three trends. Here we have the ‘Artisan Blues’ look, a very popular choice for all colour lovers, this look revolves around a tonal palette of soft and vibrant shades of blue adding hints of grey for a bit of sophistication and mood.

Artisan Blues dining room for M&S Home

 

Artisan Blues glass and ceramic vases for M&S Home

 

Artisan Blues Living Room for M&S Home

 

Artisan Blues Living Room for M&S Home

 

Artisan Blues Cushions for M&S Home

 

Artisan Blues Bedroom for M&S Home

 

Artisan Blues M&S Homes shopping

 

Styling, Direction, Production: Theoda Solms Iles

Photography: Jon Day

Stylist Assistant: Mihaela Berbecar

Set Builder: Gareth Johnson, from Tim Warren Set Building

for M&S Homes, Spring Summer 2018

Hydrangea en-mass

“What is this”, I hear you ask. Well, it is big hydrangea flower heads having a swim in the local ‘plaas dam’ (farm reservoir dam). Let me explain, this is my brother, Jan-Georg Solms‘, genius way of hydrating his hydrangea to keep them from wilting and therefore lasting much longer. But don’t they just look fabulous floating around in the deep, dark waters of the dam?

Hydrangea in a water bath

Jan-Georg Solms is the owner of guest farm Halfaampieskraal, situated just two hours drive south from Cape Town, South Africa. This is also incidentally the farm us five children grew up on. Being a huge flower lover himself, and as Jan-Georg have a constant stream of guests visiting from around the world, he ensures that there are always fresh flowers in the house. Hydrangea naturally bloom in the summer months and so also over Christmas time, giving them the local and Afrikaans name of “Krismis Rose”, translating to Christmas Roses. They are well suited to most South African gardens and grew to be majestic round bushes, sporting large round heads of coloured flowers.

Large Hydrangea heads in colour

 

Buckets full of Hydrange

Although Jan-Georg does have a few plants on the farm, when he needs them en-mass, he gets them from a local grower and such an outing is always super exciting and breathtaking in equal measures.

Below: local hydrangea grower

Growing Hydrangea

 

Growing Hydrangea

 

Growing Hydrangea

 

Below: Opal coloured varieties to charm any occasion.

Opal coloured Hydrangea

Below: Bucket and bucket loads!

Buckets full of Hydrangea

Opal coloured Hydrangea

Buckets full of Hydrange

Top Tips:

After cutting the flowers off the plant, cut the stems on the diagonal, allowing more surface for water absorption.

Dip these cut stems into boiling water for about 30 seconds and then put them into room temperature deep water. The boiling water washes away a sticky sap that occurs after cutting that prevents maximum water absorption.

When the individual flowers on the full head start to look a bit wilted, soak or submerge the whole flower head into water for a good while, about an hour. Their name is not Hydrangea for nothing! This will rescue and revitalise them, giving you a few extra days of blooming time.

Blue vs Pink = the rule is hydrangea grown in alkaline soil, the bloom colors are pinker. When grown in acidic soil, the bloom colors are bluer. This is true for the blues and pinks varieties. But of course to ensure that is very difficult but can be achieved if they are grown in pots so that the soil’s ph balance can be altered and controlled more easily.

Hydrangea in a water bath

 

Feature by: Theoda Solms Iles

Photos by: Jan-Georg Solms, Halfaampieskraal guest farm

 

Seen at the Chelsea’17 Flower Show

Just seen at the Chelsea’17 Flower Show.

Colourful cutting flowers.

 

My favourite find was the discovery of the Seedlip garden and the hidden gin bar on-top of the hill – total bliss…

 

Lovely oversize traditional terracotta planters with olive trees, so chic.

 

Interesting insect homes, encouraging wildlife into your garden.

 

Camouflage your bins.

 

Mediterranean colours and planting.

 

Greenhouse envy!

 

Colourful trendy succulents and cacti.

 

A life-size horse sculpture made from horseshoes.

 

Inspiring Artisan gardens.

 

Inspiring Artisan gardens.

 

The show-grounds.

 

Succulents are still on trend.

 

Heritage brand, Wedgwood, launching a contemporary planter range with a nod to their famous ‘Jasper’ collection.

 

The totally striking floral fountain in the Mediterranean themed garden by the M&S.

A selfie through the selfie window of the M&S flower stand.

 

iPhone photos and feature: Theoda Solms Iles

Chelsea Flower Show 2017 – Show gardens

Here are a few of this years favourite Show Gardens from the Chelsea Flower Show 2017.

 

Silk Road garden, Chengdu, China. Designed by Laurie Chetwood & Patrick Collins

Silk Road garden, Chengdu, China. Designed by Laurie Chetwood & Patrick Collins

Silk Road garden, Chengdu, China. Designed by Laurie Chetwood & Patrick Collins

 

Linklaters garden for Maggie’s. Designed by Darren Hawkes

Linklaters garden for Maggie's. Designed by Darren Hawkes

 

Breaking Ground. Designed by Andrew Wilson & Gavin McWilliam

Breaking Ground. Designed by Andrew Wilson & Gavin McWilliam

 

Morgan Stanley garden. Designed by Chris Beardshaw.

Morgan Stanley garden. Designed by Chris Beardshaw.

 

500 Years of Covent Garden The Sir Milton Foundation garden in partnership with Capo. Designed by Lee Bestall.

500 Years of Covent Garden The Sir Milton Foundation garden in partnership with Capo. Designed by Lee Bestall.

 

RHS Greenings Grey Britain garden. Designed by Nigel Dunnett.

RHS Greenings Grey Britain garden. Designed by Nigel Dunnett.

RHS Greenings Grey Britain garden. Designed by Nigel Dunnett.

RHS Greenings Grey Britain garden. Designed by Nigel Dunnett.

 

Royal Bank of Canada. Designed by Charlotte Bank.

Royal Bank of Canada. Designed by Charlotte Bank.

 

BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens: Anneka Rice Colour Cutting garden. Designed by Sarah Raven.

BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens: Anneka Rice Colour Cutting garden. Designed by Sarah Raven.

BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens: Anneka Rice Colour Cutting garden. Designed by Sarah Raven.

 

BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens: Chris Evans Taste Garden. Designed by Jon Wheatley

BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens: Chris Evans Taste Garden. Designed by Jon Wheatley

 

BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens: Jeremy Vine Texture garden. Designed by Matt Keightley.

BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens: Jeremy Vine Texture garden. Designed by Matt Keightley.

 

BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens: Zoe Ball Listening garden. Designed by James Alexander-Sinclair.

BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens: Zoe Ball Listening garden. Designed by James Alexander-Sinclair.

 

BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens: Jo Whiley Scent Garden. Designed by Tamara Bridge & Kate Savill.

BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens: Jo Whiley Scent Garden. Designed by Tamara Bridge & Kate Savill.

 

Breast Cancer Now garden. Through the Microscope. Designed by Ruth Willmott.

Breast Cancer Now garden. Through the Microscope. Designed by Ruth Willmott.

Inland Homes: Beneath a Mexican Sky. Designed by Manoj Malde.

Inland Homes: Beneath a Mexican Sky. Designed by Manoj Malde.

 

 

 
iPhone photos and feature by Theoda Solms Iles

Easter Flowers & Chocolates

Easter is my favourite time of year. The abundance of chocolate and colourful flowers might have something to do with it.

Get creative with spring flowers and bulbs and plant a flower arrangement for the Easter weekend. Below is just such an arrangement I made using a wide mouthed urn. The cut flowers are drinking from water filled jars that’s hidden by moss and planted primulas. I added bulb plants like hyacinths for fragrances and that spring feeling. Blossom branches adds texture and a bit of drama. If you don’t have an urn, a shallow bowl or tray will work too.

Spring urn flowers for Easter

Spring urn flowers for Easter

After playing around with this flower garden, I think it’s ok to over indulge in some Easter chocolate. I could not resist adding the very new Gin & Elderflower tipple into the mix.

Easter chocolate are not just for kids, right? See my selection of the best Easter chocolates with the grown-up’s in mind:

 

Easter Chocolate Aldi, Hotel Chocolat, Betty's, Warner Edwards Harrington Elderflower Gin

 

Now for the more colourful and fun-loving choices:

Easter Chocolate, Prestat, Waitrose, M&S, Sainsbury's

 

Shopping Credits:

Specially Selected Exquisite Easter Egg, £7.99, Aldi

Extra thick egg with choc  selection, £27, Hotel Chocolat

Medium milk chocolate spring flowers egg, £27.50, Betty’s

Warner Edwards Harrington Elderflower Gin, £33, Amazon

Hazelnut Chocolate Truffle in a Real Eggshell, £4.95,  Prestat

Fiona Cairns  cupcakes, from £1.25 each, Waitrose

Beau Bunny, £2.50, M&S
Hen House eggs, £15, M&S

Easter Bunny pack, £2.50, Sainsbury’s

 

Feature and Flower photos: Theoda Solms Iles

Mother’s day Flowers with Joanna Lumley

It is not everyday a mere mortal like myself gets to meet celeb-royalty, like Joanna Lumley. So forgive me if I’m kind of lost for word on this post. It’s kind of good to let the colourful flowers from M&S do the talking on this occasion.

Below is a video of Joanna Lumley introducing the event, speaking so beautifully with a soothing velvety voice, I could listen to her all evening long, check it out for yourself.

VIDEO – Joanna Lumley hosting M&S Mother’s Day flowers class

 

Joanna Lumley M&S flowers Mother's day Theoda stylist

 

 

Joanna Lumley M&S flowers Mother's day Theoda stylist

 

Joanna Lumley M&S flowers Mother's day Theoda stylist

Mother’s day shopping ideas

Joanna Lumley M&S flowers Mother's day Theoda stylist

 

Feature & photos: Theoda Solms Iles