Four places to visit whilst in Paris with teenagers

Four places to visit whilst in Paris with teenagers

I don’t know about you, but my children are not super hot yet about museums. So when I take them to the city that I really love and I was brought up in I want to give them a fabulous experience so that they want to come back and discover more.  On our last trip this is where we went. 


1. Fly view Paris 
Fly over Paris and it’s monuments. Discover the architecture and splendour of Paris. The teenagers really like this experience of being strapped onto a jet pack and through virtual reality flying over Paris. Although the film wasn’t high definition, it still gave them the panoramic view and the overview of what Paris looks like. You are also very close to the opera house, home of ballet -the Opera Garnier. It is one of the most expensive buildings of the second Empire and just so lavish in its deco that it’s worth a visit. And again, you are only a stones throw away from the shopping quarter with the Galleries Lafayette and its famous coupola and an amazing view of Paris from the roof terrasse. 
2. Head over up the hill to Montmartre.

(click the image to enlarge)

Take the funiculaire (little train) to go up the hill and immerse the teenagers in an area which is a favourite amongst filmmakers and actors and artists. They loved the little alleys, all the little details, the little cafés and the shops. 


3. A starred night with Van Gogh and L’atelier des lumières.   
Immerse yourself in the beautiful visuals and discovery 50 paintings by artist Van Gogh. The teenagers will see close up his expressive Brushstrokes, the colours and poetry of his work. This digital art centre set in a former smelting factory dating of the 19 century will delight these youngsters. They can take pictures of themselves amongst the art. Its a fabulous space to just be, wander and be delighted by imagery.


4. Place du Trocadéro with its gardens - an ideal place for selfies. The gardens as they stand today were created for the exposition internationale des arts et techniques dans la vie moderne of 1937. They are just a fabulous place to take pictures and watch performers and other people delight in the view of the Eiffel Tower. My teenagers just love taking pictures, Sophie is in the gardens, in front of the fountains, near the Eiffel Tower. And if you have time to stop for a pastry and hot chocolate , Carette is one of the most delightful pâtisseries in Paris.
by Natalia Willmott
Wrapping consciously this Christmas- 5 tips to go greener.

Wrapping consciously this Christmas- 5 tips to go greener.

Shall we  be more eco-conscious this Christmas? Did you know that more than 100 million rolls of wrapping paper is used each year? That is so much!

Here are 5 tips to go greener this season.

1. Avoid giftwrap with glitter or metallic designs

Use recycled brown paper or beautiful handmade papers instead. You can use a combination of both, you can use small scraps of paper to create a band around your gift. I use a very small amount of double sided tape rather than a ton of cello tape. Not using too much paper when wrapping, cutting it to the right size and adding ribbon helps with reducing tape consumption.


2. Forage.

When out on a dog walk for example pick up sticks, small branches and leaves that can be used to beautify your gift and combine it with twine. Make a little posy and pop it on top of your gift. Adding beautiful ribbon will also add a pop of colour.

3. Take time to choose gifts, wrap them and create beautiful labels.

Consider gift giving an art - why not give less but make really good choices. On Christmas day, spread the opening of gifts throughout the day. Go for a walk, cook, go to a show, put some music on and in between each event open a present. This will make it more exciting and enjoyable.

4. Save cards and ribbons and bigger scraps of paper to reuse next year.

You can make the cards into labels or place cards. Make sure you use non plastic ribbon. Ribbon can be ironed to give a fresh lease of life. 

5. Look to alternatives to wrapping paper.

Do you have a piece of fabric leftover from the curtains you just made? Why not use a beautiful piece of fabric to wrap your gifts. Use christmas baubles or decorations from past years to style your gifts.


So what are the changes you will make this Christmas? I would love to hear.


Here are some items from my store which can help you on this eco journey.

1. 6 red marble handmade assorted sheets of paper - £30

2. Handmade gift tags set of 6 - £2

3. 6 blue flowers hand blocked sheets of paper - £28

4. Set of 6 red Christmas baubles - £7

5. Bonbons  Christmas decorations set - £16

6. Reindeed cotton ribbon £3.50 for 3 meters

7. Velvet ribbon on a spool - £4 for 5 meters



by Natalia Willmott
A conversation with Lucy Mc Elroy

A conversation with Lucy Mc Elroy

I was lucky to discover an artist and teacher Lucy Mc Elroy (Instagram) and visit her studio in Acomb, York.

She is a fabulous portrait artist and is skillful at drawing and painting children. Her children are often featured in her work and I love the way she captures their sense of freedom. I commissioned Lucy to do portraits of my three girls which I love... she has got their essence and their beauty and looking at them is as if she has arrested time.

We had a chat about her work and inspiration ahead of her first exhibition at Art and York which opens this Friday. 

 * * *

How did you start being an artist?

Making things has always been what I enjoy most. Three of my grandparents were artists and so I grew up in a creative environment and my mother taught me how to sew and do lots of other handcrafts. Art was my favourite subject at school but it wasn’t until my Art Foundation course when I was eighteen that I realised that figurative drawing and painting was my thing.  I was lucky to have a tutor who valued traditional academic art skills and I discovered my love of observational work. Then I went to study Fine Art at the University of Leeds where unfortunately drawing and painting weren’t encouraged, it was all about conceptual art, so when I graduated I didn’t have an art practice that I valued. I trained to be a secondary school Art teacher and spent several happy years teaching, working with amazing, creative students. My own skills and knowledge developed massively over this time, teaching others is such a great way of learning yourself but after about ten years I started to feel frustrated that I didn’t have time for my own work. I also started to feel like a bit of a fraud, teaching something I wasn’t practicing myself.  So, during my maternity leave with my second child I started to dedicate time to my own work and it has grown from there. Now I teach two days a week and the rest of the time, around being a mother, I spend time in my studio. It feels like a very good balance.

Why do you make the type of Art that you do?

I am a portrait artist at heart, faces fascinate me and I find the challenge of capturing a recognisable likeness entirely engaging. Also, drawing is a meditative process, I love becoming completely lost in the observation and recording process. And, of course the satisfaction of producing something I am proud of is very addictive, it’s such a great feeling.

How do you see your work developing?

I feel like I am just starting to find my own practice, I’ve enjoyed producing commissioned portraits but now it’s time to take my work to the next stage. I’m beginning to explore my own visual language and to develop my own style. Having the courage to do this is not easy, expressing your own creativity is very exciting but it can also make you feel vulnerable. When you put so much of yourself into your work it is a bit scary showing that to other people, it feels like you are exposing yourself. I have been very lucky to have been part of the art& Raw Talent scheme this year which has meant that I have had the support of a wonderful mentor, Victoria, who has given me the confidence to make the kind of work I really want to. I’ve come to realise that the most important thing for me is that the work I make is authentic, as in true to my own creative vision rather than allowing myself to become distracted with concerns about producing something marketable. This realisation has been immensely liberating and has enabled me to begin to experiment and explore in a way I hadn’t before. It’s led to practical work which I am very proud of, largely because it is a true reflection of where I am in my creative journey.

What would you say your work is about?

Central to my work is the idea of capturing and preserving a vision of a person in a particular moment.  I’ve long been aware of the value of mindfulness. Slowing down, just watching, taking the time to see the beauty in a place, in a moment, in a person. I spend a lot of time just looking. My work is about selecting a moment which particularly resonates with me and finding a way to record and convey the beauty of it. I guess it’s natural that I find children to be the perfect muses, especially my own.  I love to watch them in natural, unselfconscious motion, seeing them lost in their own moments, thoughts, experiences, just enjoying being alive with the pure innocence of childhood. It’s the most simple thing, but so easily overlooked, especially in our busy lives so distracted by digital devices and social media.


Which artists have influenced your practice?

Some of my favourite artists are those who draw our attention to the quiet moments. In my teens I discovered the work of Vilhelm Hammershoi and his beautiful, still, quietly inhabited interiors spoke volumes to me.  

Vilhelm Hammershoi’s “Interior in Strandgade, Sunlight on the Floor” (1901).


Joaquin Sorrella is a much more recent discovery for me, I cried when I saw the beauty of his paintings in the recent exhibition of his work in the National Gallery. He is known as the Spanish master of light and I was blown away by the exquisite beauty of his compositions, the Mediterranean light and his exceptional handling of paint. I do get quite ridiculously excited about the way artists use paint, how the paint sits on the canvas, the visibility and direction and energy of their brushstrokes.

Fisherman in Valencia

For this reason the contemporary painter Jenny Saville is another great inspiration. I’m in awe of the way she works the surface of her paintings and her bold use of brush strokes which when viewed in isolation are almost abstract but which contribute to such a convincing visual illusion of three dimensional form.


by Natalia Willmott
It’s time to say thank you to Merci and wish them a happy 10th anniversary

It’s time to say thank you to Merci and wish them a happy 10th anniversary

Merci is one  of the most famous interior shops in Paris sourcing items from new designers artists and vintage finds and displaying them in a 3 floor lifestyle showroom. It opened it’s doors in 2009 and I have regularly been visiting.

Merci has a lot to celebrate. Created by three friends Bernard and Marie-France Cohen (founders of Bonpoint- a chic children’s clothing company) and Daniel Rozensztroch (who worked for Marie-Claire Maison for 25 years), it is a social enterprise supporting women and children in Madagascar.

You enter the store from the Boulevard Beaumarchais (Paris -3rd) by passing a little courtyard and will be welcomed by the Merci Fiat 500 customised according to the seasons.

You will find a used books cafe on the ground floor and a lovely little cantine where you can have beautiful salads amongst it’s little bazar on the lower ground floor.

Their interiors section is always light and airy with a natural decor feel with dried flowers, rattan pieces, lighting, furniture, beautiful linen and tableware set up in little scenes.

They also have a clothing, jewellery, and a lightbulb and kitchen section. I love finding little items to add to my kitchen there!

Merci used to be a wallpaper factory so you can shop in a loft style space where the displays are so inviting and support small designers at the same time.

So thank you Merci for being an inspiration to us all.

by Natalia Willmott
A shopping experience with 19th century charm with L’officine Universelle Buly in Paris

A shopping experience with 19th century charm with L’officine Universelle Buly in Paris

I just visited a wonderful shop full of 19th century atmosphere and charm offering perfume and natural beauty treatments and accessories from its apothecary counter.

The shop L’officine Universelle Buly (situated 45, Rue de Saintonge - Paris 3rd - in the Haut Marais) is a “collection” of the best materials and craftsmanship - fine woodwork and marble married with vitrines and mirrors.
by Natalia Willmott
Father's Day gift guide

Father's Day gift guide

Father's day is fast approaching. Do you have trouble choosing what to give your dad? Take a look at this guide filled with items from our shop and see if there's anything your father would like.

1. Circular cufflinks

These are so funky. Some of the parts still move. They were made from vintage Russian watches.


2. Glass razor "Gold leaf"

Gift him the most luxurious razor ever. The blades are from Gilette Macht 3.

3. Crown Graphite Object

This curio is a beautiful desk ornament that serves a double purpose. It's a graphite that will never dirty your hands yet makes a fine writing instrument.


4. Antique Bohemian Armorial Historismus drinking glass

Is your dad a fan of October Fest or drinking good beer in general? Why not give him an authentic 19th century drinking glass. These were made in Germany and Austria.

 5. Four sided architect's scale ruler

If he likes DIY he will love this smart ruler to take measurements.

6. Barrel-shape antique tobacco jar

Gift your dad an antique tobacco jar. Even if he doesn't smoke, he can use it to store his pens or other little things.

7. Large handmade beech pebble paperweight

This stylish wooden pebble is incredibly smooth and tactile. It will keep all the important papers in place.

by Natalia Willmott
Easter and Spring Gift Guide

Easter and Spring Gift Guide

Celebrate the time of the year when everything comes to life. Discover fantastic Easter and spring time gifts for both your friends and loved ones and the home.
by Natalia Willmott
Shopping with a teenage daughter made easy

Shopping with a teenage daughter made easy

You might wonder what a post about shopping with your teenager has to do with an interiors blog. Well, shopping for children usually starts with them having a sense of style. That usually starts with clothes & accessories and then moves onto interiors when they have their own space.

One of my daughters is just turning 15. I asked her what she wanted but she wasn’t really sure. But then she said she would really love to go on a shopping trip to see some of her favourite stores.

by Natalia Willmott
Tags: Shopping
Mother's Day gift guide 2019- because she deserves love and appreciation

Mother's Day gift guide 2019- because she deserves love and appreciation

Do you find it hard to shop for your mom? Ask yourself why you love her and find out what gift fits best with your answer!

1. Because she loves flowers

Tulip vase by Fabienne Jouvin


Discover more great gifts by clicking "Read more".

by Natalia Willmott