Homes & Gardens
ASK MR MERRIDEW Home help from our resident under butler
OUR RESIDENT UNDER BUTLER PROVIDES HOME HELP
QMy daughter, who is at art college, tells me chintz is back in fashion, but that my mother’s tea set doesn’t cut it. Is she right, and if so, what does new chintz look like? Barbara, Devon
IF this summer has taught us anything, it’s that being surrounded by what you love is really the most important thing, isn’t it? So let me just say that if you love that heirloom china, use it regardless of where the style barometer is pointing. But that said, your daughter is onto something, and many of the new collections trickling through look like chintz-if-you-squintz. The original pattern came from Indian textiles, and its vibrant use of colour and print is what is characterising modern designs. Pinks and blue florals swirl together, as exotic birds perch. It’s the mix of hues that feels contemporary, pairing shades, such as fuchsia with sky blue, that probably don’t correspond with your teacups. Chintz 2.0 is fun rather than fusty, light and playful. Younger designers of your daughter’s generation, led by Beata Heuman, like to group it together for a maximalist fantasy, paired with geometrics and pillar-box red, while at the softer end of the spectrum, Colefax and Fowler’s Jardine range (pictured) is really rather lovely. →
QThe downside of all the new plants I’ve been buying is all the watering I now have to do. Any tips for making this an easier job? Annie, Kent I find nothing more calming than my evening flit around the house, mister in one hand, spritzing my greenery as I go, but I appreciate that it can be a bigger job for some. Thankfully, gardening tech is becoming ever more ingenious. Take the Gardena Micro-drip System, for example. This supplies precisely the right amount to individual plants directly at the roots, saving time as well as up to 70% water. It feeds water through pipes to drip heads or sprinklers to supply specific plants or areas. You can then connect the system to an app so that it waters the garden to your own schedule. You can even combine it with a soil-moisture sensor, which will override the watering schedule if the soil moisture is sufficient, saving water. Or simply invest in a beautiful watering can, which at least looks pretty while you work.
QWhat are the best plants to keep in containers? I’ve got a small, sunny spot outside my back door with room for five or six. Jessica, London
MY new favourite way to decorate is with a pot colony. No, not a commune for hippies, but a collection of containers – an instant installation of living art. There is a little more to it than just shoving a load together, however. As with all decor, consistency is key and while playing with heights is recommended, sticking to either angular or round pots leads to a coherent finish, as does limiting the materials. I particularly like earthenware, filled with a flora most sculptural. Below, combining spiky cordylines and phormiums with soft Japanese maples is not only a low-maintenance scheme but also a pleasantly pointy grouping, the jagged edges of the leaves contrasting with the soft, aged finish of the pots.
QI’m looking for an outside wall light to go in a narrow corridor between my house and the garden fence, nothing too obtrusive. What can you recommend?
Paula, East Sussex
OUTDOOR lighting has come on a long way in recent years and design companies have met our need for more beautiful styles. There are some incredibly modern pieces by Piero Lissoni for Flos and John Lewis &
Partners has a good selection, too. In a slim space, I’d suggest a flush light which is essentially flat to the wall and won’t protrude or bump your head as you traverse past. I’ve long had my eye on the 14 Series light designed by the Italian brand Bocci. It’s glass poured into a hemispherical mould and cleverly frosted to create a serene glow, but for a more affordable option take a virtual visit to Dyke & Dean. It has a trove of beautiful lighting solutions and the round brass bulkhead, below, has an industrial gleam that fits with both period and more modern builds alike.