A Residence Blog

Travel and adventure taking, memory and home making, parenting and play shaking, never faking, tales of family life.

A Residence Blog

Travel and adventure taking, memory and home making, parenting and play shaking, never faking, tales of family life.

House Fantasy – Glamping Inspired Bedroom

Glamping Inspired Bedroom

It’s been a summer of mini escapes for us this year, we’ve had the chance to glamp twice, once at Camp Bestival with Hotel Bell Tent, and once in an amazing field of circus striped bell tents in Worcestershire. To prolong the summer and maintain that feeling of glamour and romance , today my house fantasy is a glamping themed bedroom. I’ve also drawn inspiration from Somerset Yurts, which we were lucky to review a couple of years ago. Continue reading

Garden Inspiration: Celebrating 300 years of Capability Brown at Highclere Castle

Garden Inspiration: Celebrating 300 years of Capability Brown at Highclere Castle

You can always rely on a taxi driver to set the scene when you arrive in a new place. On route to a press day at Highclere Castle I discovered Hugh Bonneville, of Downton Abbey fame had also sat in my cab, a rescue mission by my driver, after he refused to be driven a mile further by the reckless driver who had picked him up in London. As well as Hugh, hoards of Australian, Japanese and American tourists had also sat in the back of the same cab. One woman from New York flew in and out in a day, just to see Highclere, after managing to purchase a ticket for the castle online; pre booked tickets sell out fast, but there are also limited tickets available on the door.

As we left the main road, the vast swathes of land the castle inhabits came into view and my taxi driver told me about the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who discovered Tutankhamen’s tomb. As we rounded the bend and the castle appeared, my driver told me that one car load of young girls actually screamed at this point. I felt like a disappointing passenger, the view was incredible, but I wasn’t sure when to admit that I have never watched Downton Abbey, which was filmed here. It slipped out later, when I was chatting to the 8th Earl of Carnarvon about Egyptian relics over scones and tea. Continue reading

Fabulous Lighting Inspiration From Madrid #happyandhome

This week’s happy and home comes from Madrid, where I spent the weekend celebrating a friend’s 40th birthday. What an incredible city, the colours and energy hit you straight away, the escalator at Madrid airport is like entering a whole other dimension of home possibilities. Madrid is full of great value, fantastic little bars and eateries, many with the most brilliant contemporary decor.

I don’t know about you, but when all my home inspiration starts to come from things I read about, I can lose interest in interiors rapidly.  Madrid was just what I needed, to see stunning design ideas come alive. After Iceland the weekend before last, I had a busy three days at home painting and finishing my office for the magnetic office wall project, which I am very close to sharing the final reveal for. The one thing I don’t have is a lampshade, and having spent hours online hunting, seeing some amazing real lampshades In Madrid made me smile and renewed my enthusiasm. Continue reading

Industrial Style with History at the Newly Refurbished Malmaison Edinburgh

Industrial Style with History at the Newly Refurbished Malmaison Edinburgh

After an incredible week in a motorhome on a family road trip around Scotland, Visit Scotland treated us to a night at the Malmaison. Our motorhome trip was awesome and I have so many stories to share, I don’t know where to begin yet!  It was such cosy family trip, our bed on board was so comfy, but it there is always room for a little luxury at the end of a road trip.

My stay at Malmaison has given me lots of ideas for my magnetic office wall project too. I love the industrial feel, and with it a sense of history, Leith is steeped in maritime history.

Love the maps on the wall, we have custom map wallpaper in our hallway and it is a massive talking point. Cool to have USB chargers by the bed too! Continue reading

Home Inspiration: Oh I do love to be beside the seaside!

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside - lovely ideas in yellow and grey for a seaside themed bedroom or home

Spring feels like it is here, I came home from a week by the sea in Wales to daffodils. That burst of yellow, and the week by the sea, collecting treasures and beach combing, started me thinking about a sea themed home inspiration. You can also take a proper tour of the lovely cottage we stayed in, and see my driftwood art projects, part of Happy And Home this week.

I’ve been trying to find a way to ‘say seaside’ without too obvious nautical touches. I really loved the yellow and grey living room of the house we stayed in. So I’ve picked this yellow and grey bird duvet. The Lloyd Loom chair in the office was beautiful too, so I chose this modern grey tub chair take on that.

I loved collecting bits of driftwood, rope and fishing net with my kids, and this blanket reminds me of that. As does the rope on the mirror, but it still has an elegant shape and look too.

The seagrass baskets all over the cottage we stayed in had a lovely sea worn look to them and reminded me of the texture of rope and driftwood. They were great for displaying beach finds.  Kilner jars (without the rubber seal) are another great way to display sea glass, pebbles and shells.

On the walls, this  Hannah Cole Cornish Sea Dog picture reminds me of a harbour town we visited, Aberaeron in shape. Although Aberaeron is much more brightly coloured, I like the muted pastels for this look. There has to be a little bit of seaside humour too, I love this “I do like to be beside the Seaside‘ wall art, it makes me smile.

There are lots more lovely ideas on my Beside the Sea Ideas Board.

Travel: Stay in a Medieval Lodge at Warwick Castle

I love this bed in the Medieval Lodge at Warwick Castle

Fancy sleeping in this bed!


History lovers, Horrible Histories fans and fellow house fantasy dreamers, if you are looking for somewhere unusual to stay this year with family or friends, look no further, but act quickly, these will fill up fast! From 1st July 2016 you will be able to stay overnight in a medieval lodge at Warwick Castle in the ‘Knight’s Village’. These two-storey lodges look perfect for weekends away with medieval evening entertainment and two day access to the Castle and its attractions.  I think they offer good value too, especially as today I’m sharing a 10% discount for A Residence readers. Continue reading

House Fantasy: War and Peace Interiors


War and Peace BBC - Photographer: Mitch Jenkins

BBC – Photographer: Mitch Jenkins

Time for another House Fantasy, let’s play War and Peace interiors. Have you read War and Peace? I haven’t, but that’s okay, because I read that some of the BBC cast hadn’t read it beforehand either. Have you been watching it though?

War and Peace is full to the brim with plush, brooding velvets, whimsical dashings of lace and opulent gold tassels, luxurious interiors are on the way to be the next trend to take the world by storm. What do you think?

I wasn’t sure at first, I’m definitely not talking a whole house or a whole room makeover, but the costume colours really appeal for starters: greys, reds and dusky purples. There are some of the elements of the Pantone Colours of the Year that I found myself strangely hankering after. But there is enough colour drama to stop that being too wishy washy. Continue reading

House Fantasy: Scandinavian Christmas


My latest house fantasy is ‘Scandinavian Christmas’, to inject some warmth and hygge this winter. Scandinavian means lots of things to me, from candles, to birch wood, to using nature in the home, to simple geometric shapes, stars, reindeers, to warmth and simplicity. But mainly simplicity. It means having a house – quite unlike mine I should add – that isn’t cluttered, that has a place for everything, no matter how big or small it is. I think we all dream of simplifying life around this time of year, of cutting back to what is really important don’t we?

I can dream…

I loved the soft grey, white and red of the Kilburn and Scott products by Gallery pictured above, but I also I really like the idea of black, white and red in the image below, also Kilburn and Scott by Gallery. It’s a really easy combination to put together and make an impact with.

Scandinavian Home

The intricate geometric patterns on this Bloomingville Candle Holder captured my attention. They would look great on a mantlepiece combined with some pillars candles, lanterns, fir cones.  Or a really great centrepiece for a more minimal Christmas table.

The Ragged Rose Bunting is such a quick and lively way to add a splash of colour to a room, or cheer up a staircase or hallway.

This Fjorde and Co Bench bench is an effective way to create a cosy corner at a table, and perhaps encourage people to sit for longer too, I love the idea of having the back and sides to keep some cushions (and wriggly kids) in place.

I’ve had my eye on this Etol Design Fisherman’s Blanket for some time now, at last I finally have a whole decor scheme to fit it in.

Tomorrow I have a lovely nature garlands, perfect for a Scandinavian Christmas home. Closely cropped – my house is a mess – but a wonderful homage to the colours and aesthetics of Scandinavia don’t you think? More lovely, and slightly less tightly cropped pictures, tomorrow.


House Fantasy: Swiss Family Robinson Style House


Swiss Family Robinson Tree House at Disneyland Paris

Who doesn’t fantasise about living in a self build treehouse on a desert island which creatively upcycles the very shipwreck that landed you in paradise? It’s a homemaker’s dream. Well I think so anyway, which is why today I am taking inspiration for a Swiss Family Robinson Style House from Disneyland Paris.

I am a theme park cynic, on a rainy grey day Disneyland looked more like Dismaland when we arrived, but my heart soon warmed to the cleverly realised film sets. Escaping into the Swiss Family Robinson style house feels quite magical; apart from other tourists and a glimpse of the famous castle turrets, you could be deep in the forest.

The Swiss Family Robinson is a children’s novel, by Johann David Wyss, first published in 1812, about a Swiss family shipwrecked in the East Indies en route to Port Jackson, Australia. The novel was intended to teach his four sons about family values, good husbandry, the uses of the natural world and self-reliance. All important skills for home owners! In 1960 Disney made it into a film.

I loved the story and so it was magical to climb up the treehouse and imagine the Robinson family. Shipwrecks are somewhat romanticised of course, food seems incredibly plentiful for starters.

Swiss Family Robinson Tree House at Disneyland Paris - 1

Swiss Family Robinson Tree House Disneyland Paris - 1

I would love my desk to be in a treehouse, wouldn’t you? I love the ship’s captain feel of the desk, and the nautical touches like the sails as shelter, the ships lanterns and starfish and shells as paperweights.

Swiss Family Robinson Tree House at Disneyland Paris - 2

Most of all I love the idea of working in a tree, looking at it’s trunk with all my treasures surrounding me. The treasure chests and lanterns give this room an adventurous feel. Don’t tell anyone, but I love the treehouse in High School Musical too…

Swiss Family Robinson Tree House Disneyland Paris - 2

I had to smile when I saw this room, they even got the organ (?) into the treehouse. Love the lanterns and the ship’s wheel is even put to use.

Swiss Family Robinson Tree House at Disneyland Paris

Swiss Family Robinson Tree House Disneyland Paris - 3

The sleeping quarters gave me ideas too. I loved the netting to screen off the rooms, the treasure chests as bedside tables and the patchwork quilts. The net also makes a canopy over the bed, with a ship’s lantern hung over it. I’d quite like this look for our attic bedroom.

Swiss Family Robinson Tree House Disneyland Paris - 4 Swiss Family Robinson Tree House Disneyland Paris - 5

Love this bedside lamp…

Swiss Family Robinson Tree House at Disneyland Paris - 4

The children’s room used the hammocks, I am guessing from the ship. Love the cheeky hook for grabbing bananas from the top bunk!

Swiss Family Robinson Tree House at Disneyland Paris - 5

Which just leaves me with the gorgeous task of trying to bring this look to life. I had a rummage in the Wayfair treasure chest, and this is what I found. The desk and some other bits were in the sale when I last looked, so if anything takes your fancy, you might even grab a nautical bargain.

Swiss Family Robinson Style

Fisherman Blanket, Fisherman Lamp, 3 Drawer Sideboard, Bureau DeskStatement Lamp, Gilt Mirror, Recycled Quilt, Map Chest.

I also have a Pinterest board I created a while back, for no real reason other than I had spent some time photographing fisherman’s huts in Kent. If you like the shipwreck, sea, treehouse theme then you might like some of the house ideas and inspirations I pinned there too.

Follow Penny Alexander’s board Fisherman’s Huts on Pinterest.


Time for you to confess your most bizarre house fantasy? Has a book or a film inspired a house fantasy for you?

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