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

Christmas trends 2017

Last week I showed you some outdoorsy Christmas shots I styled during the summer. Here are the latest Christmas trends by Wyevale Garden Centres. But before we get to the pretty shots, it’s worth mentioning that way back in May and June a team of us worked really hard to put together a Christmas lookbook for Wyevale Garden Centres. It started off with me searching for a suitable location, one that’s able to showcase 5 different Christmas looks, plus outdoor shots and Christmas lighting, no easy task. Finally a location was secured and the shooting took place over 4 days in June. I did the planning and drawing of the shots and also the styling on set,  I was assisted by the lovely Antonia McKenzie. The super talented photographer Nato Welton, which I’ve had the privilege to have worked with before on numerous occasions, shot these lovely images. In my opinion, Nato is the wizard of lighting!  

Here are a few of the trends we covered for Wyevale Garden Centres.


Christmas Decorations by Wyevale Garden Centres


Christmas Decorations by Wyevale Garden Centres

Christmas Decorations by Wyevale Garden Centres

Christmas Decorations by Wyevale Garden Centres

Christmas Decorations by Wyevale Garden Centres

Christmas Decorations by Wyevale Garden Centres

Christmas Decorations by Wyevale Garden Centres

Christmas Decorations by Wyevale Garden Centres

Christmas Decorations by Wyevale Garden Centres

Christmas Decorations by Wyevale Garden Centres

Wyevale garden Centre food gifting

Stylist: Theoda Solms Iles

Stylist Assistant: Antonia McKenzie 

Photography: Nato Welton

Work done for Wyevale Garden Centres, commissioned by Four Rain Communications and Live and Breath Creative


Outdoorsy Christmas


Way back in June a team of us worked really hard to put together a Christmas lookbook for Wyevale Garden Centres.  We covered 5 interior trends, outdoor shots and also Christmas outdoor lighting. The very talented photographer Nato Welton captured these while I did the styling, assisted by Antonia McKenzie. This was Nato and my selves 4th project together for Wyevale Garden Centres.

The set below, showcase a few of the outdoor shots we did.


Wreath, Orange Chocolate Wreath, Wyevale Garden Centre


Below: A warm welcome for Christmas.

Christmas Front Door dressed Wyevale Garden Centres


Below: Winter gardening with a Festive feel.

Outdoor Christmas Wyevale Garden Centres


Below: Get ready to wrap.

Christmas Gift Wrapping Wyevale Garden Centres


Below: Gifts for gardeners.

Outdoor Christmas Gifting Wyevale Garden Centres


Stylist: Theoda Solms Iles

Stylist Assistant: Antonia McKenzie 

Photography: Nato Welton

Work done for Wyevale Garden Centres, commissioned by Four Rain Communications and Live and Breath Creative

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


Festive Foliage Bough

Fancy something a bit different for your door this Christmas? Try a foliage bough instead. I prefer them as they are a bit more organic looking, unusual and very easy to make. Wreaths are so last year, darlings!


Foliage Bough Door Christmas decoration


Foliage Bough Door Christmas decoration

You would need:

Spruce or Fir branches (Holly and Eucalyptus optional to add interest)

Thin wire to tie stems together

Ribbon to decorate

A pretty decoration to add a personal touch (optional)

Battery operated wire fairly lights (optional)

Lay your spruce or fir branches flat on a table and layer shorter holly or eucalyptus stems on-top. Tie all of these stems and branches together with the thin wire. Add a pretty decoration or bauble by wiring it onto a branch as well. Use the ribbon to tie a big knot or bow at the top of the stems, hiding the wire in the process. Suspend your new Festive Foliage Bough from a nail in the door or the door-knocker, alternatively, mine I hung by extending the wire to the top of the door and securing it to the top edge of the door with a staple gun (as it’s the top of the door it will never be visible). Lastly, arrange your fine wire fairy lights between the foliage and hide the battery back to the back of the bough (taping it to the foliage). I pushed my battery back through the letter box on the door and taped it to the inside of the door, so that I can control the switch from the inside of the hall – pretty clever I thought!

Foliage Bough Door Christmas decoration


Foliage Bough Door Christmas decoration


Feature, photos styling: Theoda Solms Iles



Pink Vases – Elemental by Voyage Maison

One word sprung to mind when I saw these vases; delicious! The pink and purple swirls, the pale blush marbling and together with the glossy finish, they both remind me of giant lollipops. So just imagine how gorgeous they would look, with or without flowers, in any home. Both these vases are from the Elemental collection by Voyage Maison.

The tall bottles shaped vase with delicate marbling in shades of blush pinks, is called  Alcyone tall vase in colour Oyster. The elegant shape of the slim neck is just wide enough for one stem, if any is needed at all. Where as the easy rounded shape of the Melusina vase in colour Tourmaline, lends itself perfectly to be filled with blooms. On their own they look gorgeous too and because of their size, they make a real show.


Voyage Pink vases, Alcyone tall vase in Oyster and Melusina round vase in Tourmaline, wall art, Simba in Watermelon


pink peonies


Alcyone tall vase in Oyster and Melusina round vase in Tourmaline, all by Voyage


Alcyone tall vase in Oyster and Melusina round vase in Tourmaline, fusion Shrabana Lotus all by Voyage


Alcyone tall vase in Oyster and Melusina round vase in Tourmaline, by Voyage


Alcyone tall vase in Oyster and Melusina round vase in Tourmaline, Shrabana Lotus cushion, by Voyage


Alcyone tall vase in Oyster and Melusina round vase in Tourmaline, by Voyage


Voyage is a fabric house known for gorgeous fabrics in prints, weaves and luxe textiles like velvets and stylish embroidered sequined designs. Their colour palate, always rich with deep, moody shades and designs, often reflecting nature. The Voyage Maison range is the home accessory part, boasting a desirable collection of rugs, lamps, more cushions you can dream of and now, most recently, statement glass vases worthy of an art gallery.

Credits:  Alcyone tall vase in Oyster colour, £53, Melusina round vase in Tourmaline, £50, Elemental range available from John Lewis. Wallpaper called wall art; pink and orange twig design, Simba Watermelon. Pink and purple feather design, Nada Lotus. Cushion in Shrabana Lotus.


Styling, Photos & Feature by Theoda Solms Iles


My Dining Room Furniture Makeover

My Dining Room Furniture Makeover with Valspar paint

My dining room has been begging for a makeover. As in most houses, rooms evolve and so has this dining room. We bought the table about 9 years ago and I was adamant to get a big table plus additional extending leaves to make the table bigger when needed, well we used the extension leaves twice! Too much hassle if you ask me. I also have a problem with natural wood – I just don’t like brown, interesting if you work in interiors…  Up until now, I’ve always covered the table-top either with a fancy oilcloth on regular days or with linens when we entertain. The chairs started off well, plain Ikea white ones that was perfect at the time, but as time passed, I would see lovely chairs along the way and wish they were mine. So one day the temptation was too big, these two dark wooden tapestry chairs shouted out from my local charity shop to be snapped up for £5 each and obviously I couldn’t resist! For ages they just stood around as they didn’t fit in anywhere and we had no space for them. I even put them on e-bay to sell, but with no buyers, they eventually ended up in the garage to be stored. Then one day Peter came back from the rubbish dump with two more chairs, or rather, chair frames. This was a clear sign that now is the time to start my dining room furniture makeover.

Below: The “before” furniture.

Valspar painted dining table & chairs, Valspar 'Sugar leaves' R144E & 'Mountain Ridge' R282B


Below: Valspar colour swatches to match up with antique tapestry and vintage Sanderson fabric

Choosing paint and vintage fabrics, Valspar 'Sugar leaves' R144E & 'Mountain Ridge' R282B

Above: Choosing paint to match vintage fabrics, Valspar paints;  ‘Sugar leaves’ R144E (sulphur)  and  ‘Mountain Ridge’ R282B (grey)


Choosing a paint range was easy, I’ve had my eye on the new Valspar range that B&Q stocks. I love the vast colour collection and cute colour cards, yes, I’m easily swayed by pretty colours! I knew that I wanted the table legs grey with a whitewashed top ( Table top: Valspar Interior Wood varnish, colour ‘Silver Fox’) but choosing the chair frame colours was a bit more tricky. Grey had to be in the mix, the sulphur yellow came naturally and I was desperate to include turquoise too. I narrowed it down to a deeper grey and a punchy sulphur yellow, the turquoise had to wait for now. I had a few old fabric cuttings that I could easily use to make simple seat pads for the two chair frames (foam glued onto mdf-board and stretching the fabric over, securing by stapling the fabric to the back). In the end, I decided to use a very special vintage Sanderson fabric that were the cute little curtains in the kitchen when we moved here 10 years ago. I always kept the curtain fabric in the hope of using it one day, and here they are, the perfect match with the other two embroidered seats. Now I love my new dining room furniture, the table with white washed top never needs to be covered again and the eclectic mix of chairs adds so much more personality to this room and of course the vintage Sanderson has a great story to tell.


Choosing paint and vintage fabrics, Valspar 'Sugar leaves' R144E & 'Mountain Ridge' R282B


Choosing paint and vintage fabrics, Valspar 'Sugar leaves' R144E & 'Mountain Ridge' R282B



Choosing paint and vintage fabrics, Valspar 'Sugar leaves' R144E & 'Mountain Ridge' R282B


Choosing paint and vintage fabrics, Valspar 'Sugar leaves' R144E & 'Mountain Ridge' R282B


Choosing paint and vintage fabrics, Valspar 'Sugar leaves' R144E & 'Mountain Ridge' R282B


Choosing paint and vintage fabrics, Valspar 'Sugar leaves' R144E & 'Mountain Ridge' R282B


Styling, feature & photos by 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

Easter & Spring Wreath

Easter is my favourite holiday and not only because of the chocolate indulgence but also the abundance of flowers that are becoming so readily available. I kind of much prefer it over Christmas. However, the one thing Christmas has that I do like, is Christmas wreaths, so why not borrow the wreath idea and reinvent your own version for spring and Easter.


Easter & Spring wreath made from long holly tendrils, pansy and moss & twigs


I made this simple wreath yesterday afternoon from three long Holly bush tendrils that I tied together with bits of wire. Luckily the holly leaves are not too obvious holly shaped! These tendrils are long and very flexibly, you need a bendy plant to make it easier. You can also use willow branches, pussy willow or forsythia for colour (alternatively, buy a ready-made wreath form any florist or craft shop).

For my Spring and Easter touch, I added a purple miniature pansy plant, complete with roots and soil that I wrapped with moss. I’m resting the plant on top of more moss tying it all to the wreath with twine. I finished it off with a few dried bendy twigs that I twisted together to give the illusion of a nest. Adding artificial eggs will also look cute. I initially made this wreath for the front door, but now I like it so much inside, I think it can stay right where it is.


Easter & Spring wreath made from long holly tendrils, pansy and moss & twigs




Easter & Spring wreath made from long holly tendrils, pansy and moss & twigs


Feature, Styling and Photos by Theoda Solms Iles

Bring Your Garden To Life

On a rather dull, wet morning in early February, in a photo location studio under railway arches in East London, a team of talented ‘creatives’ got together to create How To Bring Your Garden To Life for Wyevale Garden Centres. I was commissioned to style the looks for the Summer Outdoor shoot for Wyevale. It was also such a privileged to work with the super talented Photographer, Nato Welton, and under the brilliant direction of Creative Director, Mark Forsyth. We had quite a lot to do in just one day but had a brilliant supporting team that wasn’t shy of getting wet, or getting their hands dirty by putting down gravel and replanting plants.

I am thrilled with the outcome of these shots! One would never have guessed that it was done on a rainy day in February under bare brick railway arches. The beauty of hard work, a brilliant team and when a plan comes together.

Outdoor Living Alfresco Style

Outdoor Lounge - Wyevale Garden Centres Summer Shoot

Above: Harlestone lounging set, £1,099.  Mexican Azteca chimenea, lrg £69.99.  Mona green cushion, £12.99.  Black bamboo 12ltr, £59.99.  French bulldog, £59.99  Glass bottle garden terrarium, £24.99.   Cheese Dome and serving set, 3-piece,  £44.99.  All Wyevale Garden Centres

Grow Your Own

Botanical Pottering Shed - Wyevale Garden Centres Summer Shoot

Above: 4-Tier compact growhouse, £29.99.  Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew bug study mug, £4.99.   Garden guide books, from £2.99.   Flowering bulbs, from £3.99.   Jute balls, from £1.99.   Vertical planter, £6.99.   Spear & Jackson County stainless steel hand tools, from £7.99.   RHS glazed pots, from £9.99.   Burgon & Ball traditional trug, from £19.99.   Peat free fibre pots, from £2.49.   Spear & Jackson County stainless steel digging spade / fork, £25.99 each. All, Wyevale Garden Centers

Botanical Pottering Shed

Botanical Pottering Shed - Wyevale Garden Centres Summer Shoot

End Of Day Retreat

Rocking Chair  - Wyevale Garden Centres Summer Shoot

Above:  Hanoi rocker, £179.00.   Helleborus, £12.99.   Bumblebee cushion, £14.99.   RHS glazed pots, from £9.99.   Muscari, from £2.29.   Floral candle holder, £6.99.   Garden guide books, from £2.99.   Heather, 5ltr, £16.99. All, Wyevale Garden Centers

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea - Wyevale Garden Centres Summer Shoot

Above:  Pink country cottage nest box, £19.99.   Photinia 1⁄2 standards, from £39.99.   Welbeck bistro set, various colours, £149.00.   Burgon & Ball traditional trug, from £19.99.   Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew tea towel, £8.99.   Portmeirion range, from £19.99.   Foxglove cushion, £14.99.   Nandina domestica, from £24.99.   Heather, 5ltr, £16.99.   RHS glazed pots, from £9.99.  Primrose, £3.99.   Cotswold buff chippings 15-20mm, £5.99.   Chiffon scarves, £5.99. All, Wyevale Garden Centres

A Secret Hideaway

Picnic in a Colourful Garden - Wyevale Garden Centres Summer Shoot

Above:  AFK Cottage arbour in heritage sage and cream, £399.00.  Photinia 1⁄2 standards, from £39.99.   Fashion scarves, £9.99.   Alma green cushion, £12.99.   Astelia silver sphere or silver shadow, £16.99.   Wicker picnic basket, £129.99.   Primrose, 10.5cm, £1.29.   Slate, £5.99 per 25kg bag. All Wyevale Garden Centres

The Playful Garden

Playful Garden  - Wyevale Garden Centres Summer Shoot

Above:  Forest Cottage play house, £429.99.   Windmills, from £2.99.   Primrose bowl, £6.99.   Primrose, 10.5cm, £1.29.   Terracotta pots, from 99p.   Kid’s welly boots, £9.99.   Watering can set, £14.99.    Rustic trough primrose, £16.99.   Leucothoe scarletta, from £9.99.  Kid’s gardening broom and spade, from £5.99.   Sand and water table, £49.99.   Toy BBQ set, £24.99.   Deluxe picnic table with sandpit and water tray, £129.99.   Scuttle bug beetle, £29.99.   Tortoise, from £7.99.   Kid’s gardening tools, 3 pack, £4.99.   Briers kid’s carry bag set, £14.99. All Wyevale Garden Centres

Styling & Feature, Theoda Solms Iles

Photos, Nato Welton

Art Direction, Mark Forsyth

Images Supplied by Wyevale Garden Centres