I am no Mary Berry but if there is even a hint of an excuse to bake a C-A-K-E, then the oven is on and the cake tins are lined before a single egg has been cracked. Not only is it another styling opportunity but you can eat the props when the photographic shoot is done. When Berkshire Life magazine came to photograph our house to do a story on Styling Box (my new affordable interior design service) for their April 2019 issue, it seemed the perfect time to indulge in a bit of Easter baking and share with you some interior styling ideas that aren’t just for Easter…
Lemon, blackcurrant and mint Easter cake
Oh and here is the cake’s recipe …
Easter cake recipe
Make the cake as per a Victoria Sponge recipe.
When the cakes are cool, spread approximately 3 tbs of blackcurrant jam for the filling. For the lemon butter cream icing, mix together 70 g butter at room temperature with 140g of icing sugar and the zest of half a lemon. Just before serving the cake, dot the mixture round the top of the sandwich cake and add alternately onto the lemon butter cream fresh edible violet flowers, mint leaves (these do shrivel if put on too early – but tastes delicious if you like mint!), Cadburys mini eggs or similar.
Chocolate, orange and mint Easter cake
This was last Easter’s effort. By teatime, Panda (our miniature schnauzer) was completely exhausted with the knowledge that this cake was in the house. I have to concede that it must have been torture for our beardy, four-legged friend who has a dangerous (and at times, somewhat bad-mannered) penchant for homemade chlocolate cake. But that’s another tail…
Easter table styling for magazines
Set the table for nothing
It’s sometimes possible to find quite valuable porcelain on the shelves of charity shops or at car boot sales. I am also surprised at how affordable pieces are now in auction houses and antique shops. Useful for props and for the odd celebratory afternoon tea, as well as for accessorizing a room. This Georgian cup (no saucer) was £5 from Crowman Antiques in Devizes, Wiltshire.
I don’t mind if a piece isn’t perfect – it is the quality of maker and pattern that matters most. If a handle is broken, I just put a tealight in it and use it on a dinner table because it is still a beautiful object to me.
Antique dealer Hilary Fisher of Fisher London says that attitudes have changed on the damaged front. “There is still a premium and desire for perfect antique pieces but more people are happy to collect slightly damaged or stapled porcelain. In Japan, they make a virtue of it by mending broken porcelain or pottery – sometimes with gold, a method called Kintsugi.”
The term ‘tablescape’ comes from the US. To you and I this means making extra effort for a special occasion to decorate a table with tablecloths, napkins, candles and most importantly foliage and flowers. The tablescape can be anything from an elaborate theme to something more avant garde. Interior designer and antique dealer Birdie Fortescue has some inspiring tablescape ideas along with a collection of accessories to achieve the look.
Table top revolution
The art of a tablescape is nothing new, it goes back centuries particularly at the banqueting tables of the artisocracy. With the demise of the trousseau ‘dinner service’ and subsequent table top revolution (largely bloodless!) of casual dining in the 1990s, dressing tables for special occasions had almost disappeared. Until now that is. To those of us who love styling them, they are rather pleasingly back.
I have had my eye on Karin Hossack’s Kchossack Pottery for a while so it was great to see this table styled by The Interior Spy at her recent Spring Studio in her London showroom. Miranda Vedral (aka The Interior Spy) combines a layering of pastel pottery (impressively, the pretty scalloped edges are all hand cut by Karin) with her own rather fabulous range of handwoven interiors accessories and furniture Miranda imports from sub-Saharan Africa.
Pastels aren’t just for Easter
A pastel colour palette is often associated with Easter for photographic styling because of its Spring flower and speckled egg connotations. They are also becoming popular again for interiors, particularly so for kitchens and bathrooms where pastel bathroom suites are making a comeback.
Trends aside, chalky pastels work well for any room in the house but you need to work out how these colours make you feel. I advise getting a choice of samples well before a project starts to see how they also work with the light in a room as well as with the other elements in your decorating scheme.
Pastel swatch watch
Here are some pastel fabric designs from three independent textile and wallpaper designers. Quintessentially English, they rather make me yearn to redo the whole house with some new swishy full length interlined curtains, roman blinds, bolsters, headboards, pelmets, cushions, long oblongy cushions, and … ahem … the odd bedspread or two … !
Thank you so much for reading. I hope you have a very Happy Easter, Charis x