Grey Walls, the reveal.

Repainting two of my living room walls, from pure white to charcoal grey, was just the boost my home and myself needed.  So, what have I learned from painting my walls?

1. I should have done it earlier when I had the idea about a year ago! I wait way too long before I do something in my own house. Part of that reason is that I get bored quite easily so I feel that I really need to be in love with the new look before I commit to it – but don’t we all feel like that?

2. I share my home with a husband (fortunately, he leaves all interior choices up to me!), a five-year old daughter (that has quite an opinion on ‘pretty things’) and a dog, better known as demolition-dog (a 16 month old very bold pup).

3. The interior choices I make, needs to be hardworking and wearing – no white floors, fluffy rugs or Kartell Ghost furniture for me, thank you very much!

As with many things in life, now that I’ve painted the living room walls, I wish I’d done it sooner. It has also become apparent how badly the rest of the house needs a re-paint, next job on the DIY list, so watch this space.

Charcoal Grey Living room walls painted in Valspar 'Wetbar R1E'


BELOW, The ‘Before’ Walls:

Although I’ve always liked the white walls with my aubergine velvet sofas and colourful gallery of paintings, I felt this room needed a change. There was only ever one wall colour in the running – charcoal grey, but finding the right tone of grey, took a lot longer. Until I came across the Valpar ‘Wetbar R1E’, charcoal grey paint.  This shade of grey matched the rest of the room perfectly. Other greys that I’ve considered, tended to show up either too mauvey-purple or too blue, but this tone worked perfectly in this room.

Top-Tip: It is so important to test your paint swatches in the room you are planning to paint. The colour might look perfect on the card or in the tin but appear totally different on the walls in the chosen room because of light reflections and the existing furniture and accessories.

Before; white walls


BELOW, The ‘After’ Walls:

Charcoal Grey Living room walls painted in Valspar 'Wetbar R1E'


Charcoal Grey Living room walls painted in Valspar 'Wetbar R1E'


Charcoal Grey Living room walls painted in Valspar 'Wetbar R1E'



Vintage, Antique and special paintings

I knew that re-arranging the paintings would be quite a job. Before I painted, I filled in the holes and prepped the walls to get a good finish as I knew I needed to re-arrange my ‘gallery’. If there was ever a fire, apart from grabbing the living creatures in my house, some of these paintings would be the first on the list. Not because they are valuable, but priceless in terms of sentiment. Some are vintage finds from here and abroad, an antique one my parents gave to me, and a few lovingly painted by my sister Nelia. My favourite has to be beautiful big dahlia one in the middle that I got on holiday in France, I adore it so much.

Knowing that I wanted the big one in the middle, I started to lay them out on a flat surface. Once happy with the configuration, I took a photo of the layout and started to replicate the layout on the wall. Starting with the big one in the middle and flanking it with two on wither side, completing the bottom row and working my way up. I didn’t measure the gaps as I don’t mind that the don’t all line up perfectly, as they all differ in shapes and size anyway. This might drive some people mad, so it’s up to you how perfect you want them. Measuring is a good idea if you do a collage creating a perfectly symmetrical pattern. In my case, as they differ so much, I just wanted them to look balanced and loosely symmetrical – and besides, I like a bit of imperfections!

By the way; if the idea of hanging pictures in a collage style seems a bit too daunting, fear not, Ikea have this super cool system where you buy a template called Matteby (£2.50) with four different collage options. All you do is stick this template on the wall, it shows you where to mark for the nails. Then hang your frames to this guideline template. As it’s by Ikea, they cleverly suggest which of their frames to use too, making it a perfect pairing – but I’m sure you can just improvise by using your own pictures – genius! Why have no one thought of this before?


Charcoal Grey Living room walls painted in Valspar 'Wetbar R1E'


Feature, Styling & Photos: Theoda Solms Iles


Flowers at Halfaampieskraal – Friday Flowers

So there’s this small little place in the world that is the curve of my heart. Halfaampieskraal is the farm in South Africa where I grew up, spending very happy and carefree days with my 3 sisters and 1 brother. Before my dad retired, he farmed this little bit of golden land tucked away in the Overberg region, to be precise the Ruens. My very talented brother, Jan-Georg Solms, took over the farming just over 20 years ago and in this time also transformed some of the outbuildings into accommodation and an old barn serves as a venue for events. The manor house has changed just a bit and now acts as the leisure area for guests where they can curl up around the fire drinking local wines in winter or spend endless summer hours on the enormous stoep (veranda), admiring the view to the Riviersonderend mountains. Inside this house the interiors are quite dramatic. During my childhood this was also the case (we often joked that we grew up in a museum) but now my brother, Jan-Georg, has amplified this drama, (giving my parents a go in the ‘dramatic interiors’ stakes) adding lots of eclectic elements, gorgeous items collected from his world wide travels and heirloom pieces that all have a story to tell.

To cut a long and passionate story short, Jan has also inherited my parents’ love for beautiful things and flowers, he knows exactly how to take them to the next level, go big or go home! Here are a few examples of the flower moments that you will find any day of the week at Halfaampieskraal.

Hydrangea and apple branches in urn

Jan-Georg doesn’t do ‘small’, here the dining room table gets a full-on showstopper made up of hydrangea, love-lies-bleeding and small apple branches. The urn standing ontop of a stone plinth, gives this oversize number even more height, filling the room, while still keeping the table surface clear.


red amaranthus, love-lies-bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding or Amaranthus grows wildly in the the farm garden and looks fabulous on its own against the beautifully hand painted botanical wall art, done by Nelia Solms du Toit (my other sister).


opal coloured hydrangea

Giant hydrangea heads in opal colours adorning an extra large pale blue vase.



An abundance of farm grown quince fruit, nothing more needed…  For me this fruit brings back such happy and nostalgic childhood memories with my dad on this farm. Driving in the bakkie (pick-up truck) with him, dad taking giant bites out of the hard fruit and passing it onto me.


All flowers by Jan-Georg Solms on location at Halfaampieskraal, holiday guest farm & venue.

Feature by Theoda Solms Iles

A Home Filled with Flowers – Friday Flowers

My Flower journey through South Africa continues and my next stop is visiting my eldest sister, Hanli Smuts. Hanli & Anton lives on a gorgeous wine and fruit farm in the fertile Robertson valley, right on the banks of the Breede River. Their garden is absolutely gorgeous and Hanli grows the most beautiful cut flowers. Sometimes, she has so many flowers and foliage, she has to cut bunches and supply to florists, just to spread the wealth and prevent them from going to waste. I stayed with Hanli for 3 days and just about every corner of her home was dressed with beautiful flower moments, just as you’d expect.

Grey foliage and dahlias

A subtle and romantic grey theme for the guest bathroom. Grey foliage of the dusty millar and a hit of pink and purple dahlias adorning glass bud vases.


flower arrangements of dahlias, hydrangea, roses, & red amaranths

A few of the flower arrangements through her home; pink dahlias, roses, red and green amaranths, pink and green hydrangea and a prized deep red cockscomb, all being showed off in a selection of vintage vases.


flowers paintings by Nelia Du Toit

An eclectic picture gallery with the obligatory floral paining or more! The two Iris paintings (top left and middle) as well as the white tulip painting (top right), are all by my other sister, the artist Nelia Solms du Toit (yes, I have 3 sisters and a brother!)


flower arrangements of dahlias, hydrangea, roses, & red amaranths


vintage wall scones filled with fresh herbs and dahlias

Even Hanli’s kitchen sink area allows for a beautiful flower display. Antique wall scones are filled with herbs Hanli uses for cooking daily. By just adding the odd dahlia for colour, this practical solutions becomes a beautiful statement.

Feature & Photos by Theoda Solms Iles

Flowers grown and displayed by Hanli Smuts, Robertson, South Africa


Fragrant Burgundy roses – Friday Flowers

A year ago, I visited my family in South Africa. I managed to be in the country for quite a while and so I could spend precious time with each of my siblings and parents. While I was there I took a few pictures of gorgeous flowers and in the next few weeks here on Friday Flowers, I will show you these.

Feast your eye on these burgundy beauties, they are roses from my sister, Ursula Solms’, garden. The dark ones are called, Burgundy Iceberg and the red ones are the very fragrant Papa Meiland. They just look fabulous on their own, nothing more is needed, no foliage even showing. I love how she styled them in an antique brass urn next to the vintage silver trophy and mimicking the fabulous painting in the background (incidentally,  painted by my other sister, Nelia Solms du Toit).

red garden roses, vintage silver trophy, painting artwork, Papa Meiland and Burgundy Iceberg


red garden roses, vintage silver trophy, painting artwork, Papa Meiland and Burgundy IcebergBurgundy Iceberg

red garden roses, vintage silver trophy, painting artwork Papa Meiland and Burgundy IcebergPapa Meiland


Feature & Photos by Theoda Solms Iles 

Flowers and display by Ursula Solms, Somerset West, South Africa.