Friday Fun: Urban Gardens

After attending my beekeeping classes, I’ve realised just how important even the tiniest of urban gardens are (as well as big trees in parks) for keeping the bee population alive and thriving in our cities. In many cases, the bees are better off in the urban environment, because there are fewer pesticides than in the countryside. 

Balcony on Ile St Louis, Paris, from
Quick, cheerful and cheap option, from
Garden in Rome, from
Penthouse garden in NYC, from Laurel B. Interiors
The more DIY approach to rooftop gardens from Germany, from
Why not a house surrounded by a garden and koi pond, like this Nagasaki home, from Pinterest.
Disuses railway lines have been transformed into promenades in a number of cities, including the Highline Promenade in NYC.

Friday Fun: Hallways to Feel Welcome

When I looked at staircases a couple of weeks ago, I started wondering whether some of those hallways were truly welcoming or simply statement pieces. In this week’s batch of inspiration, it’s not the staircase that is the star, but the way you feel as you walk in through the door.

Elegant in black and white in France, from Elle Decoration.
Sober period piece with charming tiles, in Bordeaux. From
Laid back and slightly cluttered, from Australia. From
Making the most of the rather dark space through amazing tiling. From Instagram.
That door, those tiles… to die for! From
Most of the above have been traditional hallways, but here we finally have a modern, colourful take on it. From
Last but not least, the country look, from

Friday Fun: More French Houses to Covet

It doesn’t always have to be chateaux. I would be quite happy with these ‘little’ gems.

Quite tumble-down, but charming, from
A modern wing has been attached to the traditional older house, from
This one looks ready to decorate for Christmas, from
Classical French symmetry, from Muriel Dana-Normandie-2010
That garden, those lights, I can almost smell the scent of the flowers, from
I just love well-proportioned, symmetrical architecture when it comes to houses I’d like to live in rather than just admire. From Instagram.
Not so much a house, as a street and an atmosphere in Saignon, France

Friday Fun: Staircases

What I liked instantly about the house I am living in now was the generously proportioned hallway and staircase with gallery. This is a rarity in the UK, where hallways tend to be narrow, dark and cramped. Although I never got round to renovating the hallway, here are some ideas for when I do have that time and money.

Simple but effective ascending shades of colour, from
The colour on the walls might be a bit too dark, but you can’t deny the strong statement this makes, from
I love patterned tiles, although I’ve taken a tumble on tiled or marble stairs and cannot recommend them. From a house in Bordeaux, from
Now for the more aspirational, looking like a 1930s film set, just waiting for Greta Garbo to waft in. From ArchitectureArtDesigns
Another chateau-inspired effort, from
A lot of staircase for a relatively small amount of space, from Behind Closed Doors.
More of a museum or public building statement staircase, but I wouldn’t mind the intricate  metalwork, from ArchitectureArtDesigns

Friday Fun: Swimming Pools

Just as the weather gets grey and miserable, I have a craving for outdoor pools. This is what comes of not having been on a beach in summer for 4 years…

Infinity pool with the sea beyond it, what more could one wish? From Pinterest
Extravagant architectural statement from Mexico, from
Infinity pool above the jungle canopy, from One Kindesign.
More of a paddling pool, but with Tunisian tradition to it, from
Pool with a jungle feel to it, in your own back yard, from Fitz and Huxley.
Hammock, plants and pool in a more geometric design, from Pinterest.
Our neighbours in France had a pool that lit up at night, so this is a dream of mine… From Pinterest

Friday Fun: Chateaux and Manor Houses

Can we ever have too many chateaux? In France they have a term for those houses that are not too extravagant but aspire to be chateaux or manor houses: Maison de maitre. The Master’s House. Let’s leave aside any classist (and gendered) connotations for a moment and dream of letting everyone have access to them!

Boath House, Nairn, Scotland. From
Nearly a chateau in France, from
Villa near Paris, from
American version of European style, from
Simple and slightly windswept beauty, from
I wouldn’t mind even this really tiny house, from

Friday Fun: Romanian Villas and Traditional Houses

Just back from a holiday in Romania, where I am always stunned by the diversity of traditional architecture (and the often disappointing standardisation of modern architecture). Here are a few of my favourites.

Traditional Romanian house for mountain area in Transylvania, from
Modern villas seem to be painted in garish colours, from
In the northernmost tip of Romania, Bucovina, you get the painted traditional houses (and wells). From PlatFerma.
This would be my dream traditional house, from the region my parents are from (for the well-to-do, of course). Conacul Bellu, from
Late 19th century villa from the ski resort Predeal, from Romania Libera. 
Two different architectural styles, now part of the same hotel complex, in Sinaia, a mountain resort very close to Predeal. From
Finally, something a little bit more adventurous in contemporary architecture, from