For many years, British transferware was considered a poor relation to hand-painted Chinese porcelain, but today it is very much back in fashion.

A study in blue and white

Next year is the 200th anniversary of perhaps our best-loved china pattern – ‘Blue Italian’ by Spode, a range of blue-and-white earthenware that has graced dressers across Britain and America since 1816. The original transfer-print design was a blend of imagery: a romantic pastoral landscape based on a 1638 painting by the French artist Claude Lorrain, bordered by flowers and leaves copied from a Chinese  porcelain plate of 1735. ‘It’s a lovely Italian scene with oriental touches that’s proved as timeless as “Willow”,’ says specialist dealer Sue Norman, who hunts out early pieces for collectors. The famous ‘Willow’, too, was an early Spode pattern, dating to around 1790 and copied by many other potteries in the 19th and 20th centuries. Churchill China of Stoke-on-Trent still produces its 1818 version, ‘Blue Willow’, today.

For many years, British transferware was considered a poor relation to hand-painted Chinese porcelain, but today it is very much back in fashion.
For many years, British transferware was considered a poor relation to hand-painted Chinese porcelain, but today it is very much back in fashion.

The main features of any ‘Willow’ pattern are a willow tree, a bridge with people crossing it, and a traditional Chinese teahouse. ‘The first transferwares of the late 18th and early 19th centuries were all based on blue-and-white Chinese porcelain designs and oriental scenes,’ … Read the rest

outdoor room

Six ways to create an outdoor room

Expert advice from interior designer and TV presenter Julia Kendell will tell you how to decorate an amazing outdoor room for your family


    Think carefully about how you want to use the room and let this be your guide when planning its location and size. Garden rooms don’t have to be restricted to the patio or close to the back of your property. Some of the most successful outdoor living spaces are hidden from view of the house and offer an entirely different aspect. A sunny spot will ensure that you get maximum use of the space if you’re just creating a decking area with seating, but consider privacy by checking whether the site is overlooked.

    A outdoor room for relaxing which is very simple, this room can alse be used as guest house


    There are a great many custom-built solutions to choose from, ranging from mobile shepherd huts and fully constructed and insulated rooms to tented spaces, glass boxes and customised sheds. But if this ‘room’ is just going to be used during the summer months and you don’t want anything as permanent as a building, you can create a simple and attractive

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before sunrise

Before sunrise

On her rooftop patio in the heart of Toronto’s artsy Kensington Market neighbourhood, Melissa DiRenzo hosts summer gatherings almost weekly. With a 500-square-foot space boasting a dining area for dinner parties, a lounge ideal for movie nights, a sweeping view of the city and the perfect positioning to watch the sunset, wouldn’t you? On Whether it’s a casual barbecue, a festive cocktail hour or a special screening of a favourite film (all it requires is a projector and a white sheet), Melissa always makes the evening memorable. It comes as second nature to this decor and lifestyle blogger of The Sweet Escape ( So, taking inspiration from the expert, here are eight tips for styling your own evening event before you party off into the sunset.

  1. Forgo the Paper and Plastic
    Gusting wind can be wicked, so avoid the awkward dance of chasing around stray paper plates, napkins and plastic cups by bringing out the real deal. If you’re nervous about breaking your best dishware, go vintage and don’t worry about a cracked plate or two – shout opa! instead.
  2. Personalize It
    Unique handmade touches go a long way toward impressing guests. Thoughtful efforts – vintage tins used as planters 
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