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Summer dining – it’s all about the drama

My favourite thing about the summer is eating outdoors. I have a pinterest board dedicated to outdoor spaces… I think the smell of the outdoors and the fact that in some lovely climates a bit of a chill sets in and you need a pashmina or a wrap as the evening goes on is just the way I love to live.

So how do you create a beautiful setting for a lovely meal, no matter how simple, to share with special people? Well given you are under the puffy clouds or the stars the volume of space is so vast you’ve just got to go all-out with the drama.

You could get away with a simple rustic set up and very homey feel, but you definitely make your guests feel more special if you do it beautifully. You can create the drama and a special ambiance with lighting – fairy lights in the trees, r with candles if you don’t have landscape lighting. Textiles and accessories are often the real show-stealers for me. Setting the mood with beautiful plates and serving bowls also makes the food taste better I think. Bright happy colours for a daytime gathering or more muted tones in the evening this time of year Foliage and flowers will do the rest. Below are some tables I will take inspiration from – one thing on a practical note however – no matter how beautiful you make your table if your seating isn’t comfortable your peeps won’t want to stick around. And that for me would be a tragedy. The highlight of the meal is the lazy time after everyone has eaten that people linger at the table over their coffees or cognacs. In Spanish we call it the “sobremesa” the “overtable” … Without a decent dose of that, no latin gathering can be considered a success.


(A few of) My Girl Crushes

I should have posted this a few weeks ago for international women’s day. But I missed it. So I shall post it now and can tell you a little about just a few of the women I admire and whose work I follow. I could add some of my other girl crushes in the music world like Stevie Nicks, Lisa Stansfield, Julia Fordham, Georgia Middleman, Aretha Franklin …. the purpose of my blog was to share some of the beautiful things I come across and think about, and those women’s music, although beautiful, is not so easily captured in a blog.

Frida Kahlo, I love for so many reasons I don’t know where to begin. Her creative talent, her irreverence, her freedom of spirit and her resilience… and some of the other women I am highlighting this week share similar traits. I don’t know much about the personal lives of some like Cassandra Ellis but she has a passion for textiles, from what I can tell that is much like my own, but her knowledge and understanding of textiles is something I hope to one day have. Katherine Hooker makes clothing that is classic and timeless but individual and luxurious in the fabrics and style. I’m looking forward to having her make me something I will cherish. Sheila Bridges is a woman I have admired and followed for years now. I LOVE her style!! Her interiors are classic and timeless with the boring and predictable taken out. Her personal story is admirable and I hope to see her work for a long time to come. Tracy Reese – well I just love her clothes. Admittedly, most of the pieces I have owned have been from her ‘Plenty’ label, but she uses beautiful fabrics with an ethnic or global or anywhere appeal that is my kind of thing. Serena Crawford is the kind of interior designer I’d like to work for/with when I am a grown up! The portfolio on her website is full of the kind of Southern Hemisphere spaces and interiors that I grew up in and I long to recreate rooms like that for “northerners”. Large spaces that are elegant, mostly because they are luxurious in the simple textures and comfort, not because they are full of expensive pretentious stuff. It is the volume of the spaces and the life you imagine living in them that makes them aspirational. And the last lady, but definitely not the least, is Malene Birger. I fell in love with her clothing a while back and since then it seems she has cropped onto my radar more and more, and now I discover she does interiors. Her London apartment is monochromatic in a Scandinavian way we might expect, but her use of texture and world textile and globe trotter type finds makes her appeal broad and very NOW.


Below …. the woman…….&……..her work.

My Boot obsession is rearing it’s ugly (but oh so tempting) head

So for a while now I have been lamenting the purging of my Texan boot collection. I have only ever confessed to a very few how many I ever had at my worst… and now it seems I see them everywhere and I covet every gorgeous pair. My real obsession started at University when I bought my first pair at Our Soles on the Kings Road in 1988 and they became part of my uniform. Years later living in the Midwest of the United States I was only an hour drive from vast warehouses full of these beauties and I spent shameful hours holding them, turning them over in my hands and trying to decide which pair I REALLY couldn’t live without. But it wasn’t just the supreme and fabulous custom made exotics that would catch my eye, I soon began to buy them on eBay, at garage sales, car boots, vintage fairs – friends even started buying them for me when they came across Texan boots that were unusual and my size. (But I have been known to wear boots that weren’t my size just because they were that fabulous) And so for the last few years my priorities have shifted, and also a stint in sweaty Miami made me turn from boots to flip flops … But now, even at the risk of putting my children’s education at risk….. (minus the ‘Alex exaggeration factor’ – cute huh??) I am going to start again. My geographical location is no longer ideal for finding boots at great prices and in amazing places but perhaps that will be part of the fun – and once I have gotten back in the saddle, so to speak, and I take myself off self-imposed maternity leave, I am going to get myself the most obscene, self indulgent (potentially not very PC) pair of gorgeous Texan boots with my first paycheck!!! See my priorities are perfect and unquestionable.

Viva la obsesion!!!

Space Glorious Space!

So the question of space has been on my mind a lot recently. I have been wondering about the fact that in our personal and professional lives TIME is the ultimate luxury – well in our homes and work spaces the ultimate luxury has to be SPACE. And so, as I feel I never have enough clear open space, and as clutter and stuff is something I battle with daily I am forever saying to myself, and anyone who will listen, – “I need more space”. But is that really true? Is it more the case that I need to de-clutter and use the space that I have more efficiently. I should probably be clearing visual clutter so it feels more open and available, usable and free-flowing. And then the cynic in me says…”sure all those houses in the interior magazines are gorgeous but there is not a shred of real life in most of them” They are picture perfect de-cluttered manicured gems, and I want that!

– but it may just take a lobotomy in my case!



From the ridiculous to the sublime….

So in my last post I was wondering what on earth is going to happen to the interiors of the White House once You-know-who and Melania get their hands on them… Well the results could be as ridiculous as the characters themselves. So in this post I wanted to share with you pictures of some of the gorgeous pieces I saw at a very indulgent day at the Decorative Antiques and Textile Fair at Battersea Park this week.

You can see even more pictures on Instagram alexandrahuntdallison


I am coveting the tables from Lee Wright antiques, the textiles Molly Hogg was showing and the brass crown vases from Sjostrom Antik, amongst many others – here are links to a few:





I know there are serious issues related to the new administration but….

What terrifies me is what they will do to the White House….

Before and after!!!!(??)










“Single girl” – Denyse Schmidt


“Haze Kilim”, by Kaffe Fassett

I lived up the road, well 4 hours up the road, from the capital of quilting, Paducah Kentucky, for over 10 years. In that time I taught myself how to quilt and have been in love with the art form ever since. Of course, being in the south of the US the use of Quilts as a means to communicate in secret along the underground railroad – the system of safe houses that helped free slaves to the north as they escaped their southern masters – was a large part of what you saw in museums and exhibitions. It is fascinating and humbling to see the resourcefulness with which beautiful quilts were created by enslaved women and girls with very few resources and limited supplies.

But the quilts that I find myself drawn to now, from an aesthetic point of view, are the modern ones that have been created with the huge palette of fabrics now available to us by amazing artists that have chosen fabric as their medium. There are several celebs that I have followed for years, Kaffe Fasset, Denyse Schmidt, a husband and wife team that call their designs Fun Quilts, Willyne Hammerstein with her Millefiori Quilts that aside from being striking visually, are a masterpiece of precision and engineering. Of course there are many many quilters that create absolutely stunning pieces. Many are twists on an old theme or a traditional pattern. Some have come up with extraordinary new designs, that at first glance are, yes visually very pleasing, but if you understand what is involved in the construction of a quilt top and then the actual “quilting” itself, are absolutely genius! The cleverest are tricks played with colour and shapes and contrast that take a real artist with vision, planning and exquisite craftsmanship to produce. For some of us a life long challenge to pursue.

See more:

Huichol Art

The Huichol indians of the sates of Jalisco, Durango and Nayarit in Mexico have been producing their brand of artwork for hundreds of years. Their work is bright and vibrant, and they use yarn or beads which they press into wax or resin to create the images. I have heard that they often work under the influence of peyote a powerful hallucinogenic brew, but that may be an urban myth. Whether they do or don’t what they produce is fascinating. A bit like fire or the sea, I never tire of looking at their work, I always see new things in the images and the colours.

Which came first lighting or the mood?


I had always focused on the soft furnishings and colour palette of an interior and lighting was not high on the list of things that caught my eye. Recently I was on Pimlico Road with some friends soaking up the eye candy and stumbled across OCHRE! Their organic, sculptural light fixtures have forever changed me. Their signature piece, which hangs over a dining table is called seed pods but remind me more of sperm… even sexier(?) It got me to thinking, which comes first the mood or the lighting. What do you think?