Magpiehomes: Moody, pops of colour and vintage

Sometimes I have a clear idea…Sometimes I just surf the world wide web and find pictures that make my heart skip a beat. Often ‘the see how we get on’ approach has left me with the most beautiful feedback and the ones I really worked hard on have had the opposite effect.  Funny old thing…..writing.
Whilst staring into our garden, trying to come up with something to write, I noticed 2 magpies. I haven since seen them more often so think they might like it and are here to stay. Seeing the birds reminded me of the definition and the reason for me naming my business and blog “Mapgiehomes”.


*) a bird with black and white feathers and a long tail: Magpies are attracted to small, shiny objects, which they carry away to their nests

*) someone who likes to collect many different types of objects, or use many different styles

When I consistently noticed two Magpies (not just the one) in our garden I had to think very long and hard, whether this was a good or a bad thing. According to an old superstition, the number of magpies one sees determines if one will have bad luck or not. And I couldn’t remember which of the 2 it was. My Scottish aunt used to make me salute Magpies and in our mad world of superstition this made sense …..  Superstition was a normal thing growing up and now in our home it is too. Although if I am honest, I am the one ensuring we follow the rules of superstition. I make my husband and kids walk round ladders, I don’t allow them to put new shoes on the table,  I make my husband say “bread and butter” when we walk and a lamp post comes between us etc. I could go on….really. So I had to check whether the number of magpies would bring me good or bad luck. I surfed the fabulous web and found the following rhyme about magpies, which was first recorded around 1780 in a note in John Brand’s Observations on Popular Antiquities on Lincolnshire with the lyric:
One for sorrow,
Two for mirth,
Three for a wedding,
And four for death.
One of the earliest versions to extend this was published, with variations, in Michael Aislabie Denham’s Proverbs and Popular Saying of the Seasons (London, 1846)
Going by the rhyme, it seems like I am OK with our 2 magpies! Let’s hope they don’t make more friends and 2 become 4! If I want to be absolutely sure I should probably salute the magpie when I only see one of them. ‘Spying a single magpie is considered an omen of bad fortune and saluting it is a way of showing the proper respect in hope that the magpie won’t pass on some of the misfortune that follows it. As magpies usually mate for life seeing one on its own is a sign of sorrow because it’s lost it’s mate, whereas if you see two it’s is a sign of joy as it’s with it’s mate. “Good morning Mr. Magpie. How is your lady wife today?” is how to salute a single magpie. When you see a single magpie you ask after it’s wife, thus suggesting it has a mate and is in fact happy – hence the rhyme one for sorrow , two for joy!’*
It was important for me to establish whether any bad omen of fortune could potentially impact my blog or my business. We are alright!

Now that we spent some time on why the name Magpiehomes came about and what other relevant (or not so depending on your views on superstition) meanings it has, I wanted to truly go back to the basics. What does Magpiehomes really stand for? On several occasion I have tried to explain how to characterise my Magpiehomes style. All the other components such as glam, Hollywood regency, eclectic, design etc. still stand. However whilst browsing the net to find some great photographs I realized a trend about what kept drawing my attention. My ideal interior – as you know by now – has a moody and dark feel to it. But there are 2 other ingredients I realize I really need for it to work and they are: 1) pops of colour and 2) a good vintage piece. I think what helped was looking at some of Graham Atkins Hughes’ work. His photography is great and really provides that warm yet moody look I love. My Magpie ingredients are:

  1. Moody, slushy dark walls or panelling
  2. Pops of colour – but don’t go over the top – 1 or 2 items in a good colour such as Emerald green, Orange or Striking Pink
  3. A good vintage piece – a lamp or designer chair works a treat

First have a look at some other photographs and then take a look at one of my favourite photographers:

Below is a good start: Not dark and moody enough, but at least a dark colour on the walls, great pops of colour and lots of vintage!

Beautifully moody, deep dark panels and sofa. Not heavy on the pops of colour but plenty of vintage!

Below photographs are by Graham Atkins Hughes:

I think all below photographs speak for themselves: Dark, moody, great pops of colour and beautiful vintage…. –  photography: Graham Atkins Hughes – photography: Graham Atkins Hughes

photography: Graham Atkins Hughes

I could honestly live in any of these rooms, with or without superstition….


Beautiful things

Gullible is probably the best way to describe it. Easily persuaded to believe something. I like to think not. But am afraid I am. I believe people are intrinsically good. I don’t believe I am silly to the point that I trust everyone instantly but I do have a childish desire to want to believe things, which at face value probably don’t square up. Don’t get me wrong I am not stupid and have seen my fair share of injustice and cons yet this hasn’t stopped me from wanting to believe…..The first time I recall my then boyfriend had to point out that I was not likely to win 1 million euros, despite the leaflet stating I would (this was quite a while ago) I felt stupid and sad at the same time. Why not? It said so didn’t it? Just call this number and you will receive 1 million euros. Now, to my credit I have moved on from that. I still have a moment of excitement when I receive those leaflets unsolicited through the letterbox, but very quickly I realise this is a con and I will never get the money. Progress.
The other day I received some strange phonecall from a very long and foreign phone number offering to help with my computer. I realised ‘not good’ and told them to go find another sucker. I had sussed them out. Clever me. However, only yesterday someone wanted to connect with me on Linkedin offering to have a chat to me about some sort of financial product I was in need of. It made sense to me. I naively told my husband what had happened but he assured me this person would try and get money from me …. he was right of course. Did I relapse?
I am not some sort of total dummy but I think I still want to believe in little surprises, wonders and unexpected miracles. How ever unlikely they might seem. Like Christmas, I suppose.

Someone recently asked me whether I was afraid to show my vulnerability…..that person clearly must have missed most of my posts! It’s my party…. I write about design and my life – that’s it. You like or you dislike.

I will leave you with this pretty picture (thanks Ronnie!). Whilst it can’t be classified as ‘interior design’ (I am in a bit of a rush and today interior design will have to take a back seat) it fits my “beautiful things” list criteria!
A bit early for Christmas, I realize, but once you’ve seen below beautiful arty picture from you can’t ‘unsee’ it, it will stick. And you too will start to feel warm and tingly inside. Even Scrooge would! Slowly we can start to get into the spirit and start to believe in Santa again together with all the goodness Christmas brings! Right?

Have a great weekend!

Making an effort…

‘Why are you still wearing your pyjamas?’ My eldest daughter asked me with a cheeky grin as we walked towards school. I looked down at my clothes in horror as I really had no idea whether I was or wasn’t. I noticed I was wearing something which could potentially pass as pyjama attire. My daughter’s comment made me realize that over the past months the fine line between night wear and comfy home wear had started to become very hazy and unclear. It had become easy to grab whatever was nearest in an attempt to make the morning routine work without me having to get up even earlier. I think amongst my companion school mums it is clear that I am never the glamorous one, I make a semi effort and always think that my jacket will cover up whatever beautiful (or not so as is the case) attire is under there. I do try to slap on some mascara but that’s as far as it goes. The odd thing is that when I used to go in to work I had even less time but seemed to look smarter than I do now. Don’t get me wrong I still like to dress up, put on the heels, dress and spend more than 30 seconds on my make up – but only if there’s an occasion. Not for school that is…

I know my kids aren’t mentally scarred from this – in fact – they have got a perfectly relaxed ‘this is how we do things’ attitude about certain things in life. In the weekend – when we all try to relax and are rather lazy: I have no problem in running to the shop around the corner in my pyjamas (my real ones!) to pick up some milk and bread. The kids laugh and think it’s funny.

Having said that I did take note of what my daughter said, and I could also hear my mother say “it is important to make an effort”. I realized it is easy, probably too easy, to forget about making a little effort. About looking like you care. I don’t think that my nature will totally change but it became clear that I needed to step up a bit. Don’t ever get so comfortable with something or someone that you forget to make even the tiniest of effort… The clothes example is superficial and not that important but demonstrates the need to ensure it doesn’t become the metaphor for the more important things in life…..

So with ‘glamming up’ myself – every now and then – comes glamming up my interior.

If I had a total free pass to glam up and spice up my interior I would go for these 3 things and:

  1. Finally get that vintage Geoffrey Harcourt F588 chair and re-upholster it in emerald green or else get the F976 in brown leather
  2. Buy a vintage brass 50’s coffee table – Gio Ponti style would be nice.
  3. I would either get wood paneling on the full length of the living room and paint it moody grey-ish green or else I would have wall to wall custom made bookshelves – equally dark and slushy coloured.

My Geoffrey Harcourt dream!

Gio Ponti silver trays 1956 – great stylish room – on Dimorestudio table.

Beautiful vintage brass table – Jack Astier.

Wood panelling DIY made perfect!

Now for the more realistic short term achievables! Make your interior autumn proof by quick changes:

  1. Get yourself an autumn brass lamp – House doctor does great ones:
  2. Look for quirky (brass) accessories – I personally love the slightly unexpected ones such as animals and skulls but anything you like of course goes!
  3. Up the atmos by buying loads of candles. If you don’t want to spend – which given the upcoming season is understandable – then just fill your room with candles and tealights. Inexpensive but unbeatable for a cozy autumn room.

A little effort goes a long way!