Thursday 29 September 2011

Autumn Entertaining Outside: Lighting

Welcome back to the next part of
Autumn Entertaining Outside,
helping you to make the very most of the long, mellow evenings.

Spending the evening in the garden at this time of year needs some forward planning. Last week, we looked at finding and maintaining seating that is comfortable, durable and beautiful.

This week, we want to talk about the importance of choosing
the right outside lighting.

We think the lighting that best extends the time for al fresco dining is candlelight.
It provides soft, golden warmth, which perfectly echoes the fading autumn sun.

We enjoy seeking out the very best lanterns to stock in Relics. We look for products that are excellent quality, and that will bring a cosily stylish feel to your table. 

Lanterns need to be able to withstand both heat,
when containing candles, and cold, when left outside,
as well as the sudden temperature change between the two.
When it comes to outside lighting,
it is not enough to simply look good on the shelf. 

Relics is renowned for sourcing products that last. 
These fir cone lanterns, for example, are made from durable cast iron.
They are pleasingly heavy and have been given a lovely finish that mimics
the aging rusty look of old lanterns left out in all weather.

The textured casing throws the candlelight
to create beautifully intricate patterns around the garden.

The sturdy hoops mean that they can also be hung if preferred
but we rather like them perched simply on the table surface.  

With the right seating, the perfect lighting and some warm blankets,
we hope you're able to relish these mild autumnal nights.

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Thursday 22 September 2011

Autumn Entertaining Outside: Seating

Now that the weather has started to turn,
we still want to make the very most of the light evenings.

Let's take a closer look at how you can extend the long days in the garden,
by making the whole environment stylishly cosy,
so that you can continue relishing the golden autumnal light.

Your first step is finding the perfect seating.
It should be beautiful, durable and comfortable.

We love the casual elegance of the French bistro look.
One of our favourites is this table and chair set
(available from Relics).
It has a metal base painted in a soft apple green, 
which has been shaped to create a stylish, curvy look.
The solid wood slats have been given a painted wash,
allowing the natural grain to shine through.

We always recommend oiling wood that will be left outside,
ideally at the beginning and at the end of the season. 
This will ensure that you get many more years of
pleasure from your outdoor furniture,
as the oil helps to protect the wood from the elements.

For this particular table, Liberon Superior Danish Oil would work beautifully. This is a blend of Pure Tung Oil and natural oils with a UV filter. It's penetrative qualities bring out the natural colour of the wood while providing a water-resistant seal. It's suitable for all interior and exterior timber, except for oak, where Tung Oil needs to be used.
{More on this in a couple of weeks.} 

Ensure the surface is clean, dry and free of dust, including surface-greying or mould as this can cause timber blackening. Apply the oil using a clean brush or lint-free cloth. We recommend a minimum of four coats, allowing at least five hours between each one - more will be needed in especially exposed areas.

Many bistro chairs can be very uncomfortable to sit on for any length of time.
However, these chairs have had the last slat of the seat angled to fit your legs,
so that the edge of the chair doesn't dig into the backs of your knees.

Next week, we'll be continuing this theme
 by sharing our ideas for the perfect garden lighting.

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Thursday 15 September 2011

Interview With Relics' Director Kate

One of the areas that we most pride
ourselves in at Relics is our customer service.

We hope, through this blog, that those of you who live further away will be able to get to know the faces behind the Relics' shop and website. With that in mind, we thought we'd share this interview with our director, Kate.

Can you tell us a little about the background that led you to Relics?

I've always been interested in colour and paints. I was an art teacher for many years and then, after I had my children, I switched to supply teaching at a primary school in Oxfordshire. It was here that I met Annie Sloan.

I hit on the idea that I wanted to paint things - furniture and walls - not just canvasses. Annie wanted more information about art-teaching and I lacked knowledge in her area of expertise, decorative painting, so we were a great team. I helped Annie on her books and ran paint courses with her. It was a great apprenticeship

It was in the mid 1990s, that we first became involved with Relics, when we started running paint courses in the back part of the shop, teaching all those effects that were terribly popular then: ragging, marbling, trompe l'oeil and, my favourite, furniture painting.

The courses stopped in the late 90's as demand dropped and I continued to build up my decorative painting business from my workshop in Witney, travelling to paint in clients' homes and spending Saturdays working for Relics in the shop.

That gradually increased to full time work for Relics as I enjoyed the feeling of new life it gave me, and, in 2004, I became a director.

What is your taste in decor?

Well, I've recently moved to my first owned property and I'm having great fun making it mine. Let me say first that I'm not a fan of limited colour schemes. I like comfortable rooms that look as though they've evolved but that have a thread replaying in connecting rooms. I love neutrals such as Earthborn's White and Just White Claypaints and Farrow and Ball's Lamp Room Gray, and then adding some splashes of colour. Little Greene's Heat is a great paint for that. I love it when colours bounce off each other, causing a fizz.

Earthborn Just White

What do you love most about working in Relics?

I think it's that the customers are so interesting and interested. They come in with a particular set of questions, and I love trying to solve them: for example, "How will this handle look with oak?" or "Which off-white do I need to go with this?" It's being able to listen to each customer and solve their particular needs that I love. Being there for people to bounce their ideas off me. Hopefully it helps my customers - and as a bonus inspires me with new ideas too!

I love the variety of products we have - eccentric and fascinating. I love watching people's pleasure in the shop.

What is your role in Relics?

I help make sure the shop is running smoothly, ordering from stockists, thinking about the layout and window displays, and, of course, chatting with customers and serving behind the counter.

What is your favourite product in Relics?

I'd have to choose the paint. People are looking for ways to bring new design ideas into their homes and paint provides the simplest way yo transform a room. Looking at magazines helps to gather ideas and to find out what colours you like to see together and the style of rooms which appeal to you but the only real way to learn about paint and colour is to experiment with sample pots and see the effects of different types of light and how it looks with your furnishings.

To share more of Kate's vast experience, simply come in to Relics, or contact us directly (details here).

Inspired by the gorgeous weather we had yesterday, next week, we'll be looking at how to enjoy cosying up your outdoor entertaining for autumn.

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Thursday 8 September 2011

Our Favourite Front Door Paint Colours

After last week's post about
how to choose the perfect front door colour for your home,
we thought it would be a good moment
to begin introducing ourselves to you by
sharing our favourite
front door shades.

Liz's all-time favourite colour for a front door would be the stunning
Down Pipe by Farrow and Ball,
which is designed to mimic the colour of lead.

Here it is, moody and dark, 
as the front door colour of designer Abigail Ahern
but, be warned:
 as with many Farrow and Ball colours,
Down Pipe is a colour that changes hugely
in different conditions.

Here is Down Pipe in Relics under artificial light.

It is hardly recognisable as the same colour.
This is why we feel it's essential
to test out sample pots in situ,
before committing to a whole tin.

Kate leans towards fairly bright shades and picked out
Farrow and Ball Stone Blue as her current ideal.

And Steve? Rather topically, Steve has just painted his front door this week and has opted for this beautiful colour, which he mixed himself, aiming for halfway between Castle Gray and Card Room Green

When we took this photo,
it was overcast and drizzling,
which presented the perfect opportunity for us
to demonstrate how the quantity of sun your door receives
affects the quality of colour.

This door is South-facing, yet, in the rain, 
it mimics how the colour would look on a more shadowy, North-facing house:

And here's another image, taken later when the sun had returned,
showing its 'true' colour, as a South-facing door.

As we shared last time,
the orientation of your house has a huge bearing
on the specific paint shade you need.


We don't blame you. 
Come in to Relics,
or contact us for a helping hand.

Images: Abigail Ahern, Relics, Steve Gregory, Relics, Relics, Relics

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Thursday 1 September 2011

How To Create Your Perfect Front Door....

As we mentioned at the end of our previous post, we are fast approaching the last chance to think about exterior decoration. The dry, crisp weather, that we so often get in September, makes it the perfect month for painting outside. Shortly after this, temperatures don't usually get warm enough to allow the paint to cure as effectively, and that's even if the rain stays away!

Our homes reflect who we are so it's no great surprise that, whether we live in a rose-clad cottage, a traditional Victorian terrace or a sleek, urban new-build, we want the outside of our homes to look fantastic. 

The front door is usually the focal point of any house so finding the perfect paint will put you well on course to transforming your house into a home that warms your heart each and every time you return.

The difficulty is that there are so many thousands of paint colours to choose from. It can be hard to know where to begin. That's where we'd love to help. We hope that this post will give you an inkling of the kind of advice we can give you in Relics of Witney Limited, so if you're feeling thoroughly muddled then do stop by or email us.

We suggest that you start off by looking at houses you admire. Walk around your neighbourhood: is there a particular look that many of the houses are aspiring to? Is this an image that you'd like for your home? Are you the kind of person that likes to blend in with the good taste of others or do you prefer to stand out from the crowd?

Search out books, websites, blogs and magazines that show different styles of curb appeal. Turn downs corners in interior books, bookmark your favourite sites and rip out pages of magazines. Doing this will begin to give you an idea of the feel you would like for your home. It may feel like pointless vandalism at first but a pattern will slowly but surely begin to emerge of the style that most reflects your taste.

It's a good plan to look at the architectural aspects that you can't change about your home, before you begin to focus on what you can: roof tiles, steps and building materials, for instance. These features will tend to have an underlying hue in common, veering towards warm or cool, which will be a start in leading you in the right direction for your final choice.

For example, if your house is red brick with brown roof tiles then warmer colours may look better. Whereas if your house is built using Cotswold stone, with a slate roof, then muted colours will tend to fit in more naturally. 

Your front door doesn't need to be a perfect match for any one element but, in order to create a unified effect, consider colours from the same end of the spectrum.

The next point to consider is the orientation of your house. The more sunlight that the door receives throughout the day, the more the colour will fade, so it may be worth considering a paler colour, if you want minimum upkeep.

Conversely, sunlight makes colours appear much lighter than they might inside a house. If your heart is set on a more intense colour then pick paint in several shades darker than the hue you have in mind.

In our next post, we'll be revealing our favourite choices for front doors. What are yours?

Images via neosnaps, Slatters cottage, Papers Paints, La Fattina, neosnaps, Mesquite Real Estate, Glassier, Thirty Two Ltd, Eddie Ross, Relics of Witney Limited

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