Thursday, 10 April 2014

Good Homes Magazine April 2014

Harptree Court Luxury Treehouse



Harptree Court Luxury Bed and Breakfast Somerset

What a great setting for a themed event, party or wedding

Friday, 7 February 2014

Interior Designer

The House Clinic

Sarah Pritchard - The House Clinic

Working with Sarah Pritchard from The House Clinic for the day was such fun! We worked together on some shots for her website which is now live. Sarah is a very talented young designer with a great eye for detail and I think we got some great shots. We tried using a mirror to reflect these designer magazines which resulted in an interesting look.

Rolling up and getting creative with blueprints !

Gathering together interesting fixtures and fittings such as frame samples and fabrics to start building a design mood board.

Folding these beautiful fabrics and using only available light  and reflectors to replicate the true rich colour and texture was key.

Distracted by our little helper!

Capturing the threads in this exquisite Designer hand woven silk wallpaper proved a particular challenge.

Love the light here!

Again trying to pick up the threads on this exquisite handwoven silk wallpaper was tricky because of reflection.

Umm. Not sure about this shot?

Sarah designed this stunning bathroom and what a triumph!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Sami Attia

Property Vision

(as seen in 25 Beautiful Homes Magazine)

Sami Attia is proud of this successful renovation in Bath

Sami Attia, has realised his dream of renovating and restoring this formerly run down property in Bath, Somerset into a stunning family home which now exude its original classic Georgian charm.

Sami Attia, Bath

'My inspiration for property developing definitely evolved from being brought up in a period Country House Hotel in Somerset. My late mother had an amazing eye for quality and detail and slowly successfully transformed our unique home into a beautiful Hotel and successful family run business. Being fortunate enough to have been brought up in such a wonderful place taught me a great deal about the importance of presentation and detail', says Sami, ' and to this present day, I have an admiration and affection for period property. Old houses are  like trees as they have stood the test of time and have experienced much. I particularly love Georgian property and architecture due to their proportions, detailing and sense of grandeur. I have focussed on the city of Bath in the last four years to develop property there.'

Sitting Room before the renovation
My overall aim has always been to create the highest possible finish to a renovation/refurbishment simply because I am quite obsessed in getting the detailing correct and to the highest possible standard, to bring the best out of the character of the building. 

Sitting room after renovation

The dated kitchen on the 4th floor was far from ideal, so Sami set about building a new one in the basement, which had formerly been used as a workshop. This proved to be quite a challenge, as initially tons of rubble had to be excavated and disposed of and on the day of delivering his brand new range cooker, a window had to be removed in order to get it through with the help of a crane’, recalls Sami.  ‘I still can’t believe it took 2 six ton trucks to get rid of all that rubble but it was definitely worth the extra push, as I now have a magnificent spacious kitchen with a breakfast and utility room’

A new staircase was fitted and Sami restored this old door. Duncan Copeman, a local skilled craftsman designed and built all the cupboards and wardrobes in this renovation.

The cabinets were painted in Elephant’s Breath eggshell, £50.00 for 2.5 litres, Farrow and Ball

‘Fitting a new and more elegant fireplace has given this room a strong focal point’, says Sami

Before and after Images of Master Bedroom

Before the renovation this bathroom used to be the kitchen on the 4th floor.
Before image of kitchen on the 4th Floor

Wall and floor marble tiles supplied by Mandarin Stone, ‘St Adrien Polished’, £89.94 per Sq Metre. Bette Classic, steel bath ( 170cm x 75cm) £639.60, Doble Bathrooms. 
Now a Luxury Bathroom

When it comes to the decor it is really useful to enlist the help of an interior design company.  In this renovation, Sami chose Julie from JI Design to help him with the interior and all the furnishings. Together they worked on creating a neutral colour scheme throughout the house. For example he opted for Farrow and Ball’s Wimborne White in the master bedroom to help create a calm and relaxing atmosphere and Skimming Stone on the kitchen walls to compliment the colour of the cabinets. Fortunately, Sami’s cousin has a soft furnishing company who designed and made all the Roman blinds.

This bedroom used to be the previous owners sitting room.

          Feature wall covered in Momentum Luxe Wallpaper, £50 per roll, Harlequin 

Duncan Copeman designed and built all the fitted wardrobes

Although this renovation and restoration has taken over two years, Sami is proud of what he has achieved. Realising this property’s true potential has been a huge challenge but the end result is simply a stylish home that combines classic Georgian features and details, but is sympathetic to modern living. ‘I feel privileged to have played a part in the history of such a beautiful house and to have been able to transform it back into a comfortable and stylish family home once again’, says Sami.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Stunning Garden Transformation

Diary of a Garden Transformation

       in Somerset.

Sheena and Simon Loveday successfully transformed their garden, which was originally a pub car park, into a stunning Mediterranean style garden.  This is the story of the first few years.

Garden Transformation

When Sheena and Simon Loveday moved to Somerset in the summer of 2008, their vision of creating an Italian style garden from scratch, started to evolve and materialize. Although undaunted by what they were about to take on, they soon realized that they were going to need some professional help in order to transform this barren plot into the garden of their dreams - a stylish garden which based in the inner city, not only reflected Sheena’s country upbringing, but would also change dramatically with the seasons.

Garden in 2008

Shot from above in the early stages

This sheltered, south facing plot with its high stone walls, certainly had potential but at the outset, was littered with old stone, some of the remains of tenement buildings dating back to the 1800’s and an old skittle alley, as well as mounds of rubble from the more recent pub car park. This was all going to have to be cleared before they could even think about a design or planting.

Hard landscaping begins!

During an outing at a wholesale nursery, when they were given the contact details of a local plantswoman, Helen Johnson, on a scrap of paper and this relationship, like the garden has blossomed over the subsequent three years. Their initial task, having now enlisted the help of Helen, was to start designing the layout, while the rest of the site was dug out with the help of a digger and several skips. Thankfully the garden was accessible, due to the fact, the house used to be a pub and they still had the wide gates at the side of the house. The design process itself did not come without its challenges as Sheena’s and Helen’s ideas didn’t always coincide! However Sheena feels that her creative input has complimented Helen’s fantastic knowledge of plants.

Having previously planted a similar sized garden in France – they were better prepared this time and knew that the immediate priority was to create privacy quickly.  With planning permission granted, they were able to achieve this by building a beautiful courtyard wall using the stone from around the garden.  Fitting the wall with a bespoke Mullion window from a local Stone Company, created a ‘truly individual, period structure’ and ‘has given the garden not only the privacy we needed but also a romantic and reflective feel.'

During the long, snowy winter months of 2009, the hard landscaping was starting to take shape.

  Raised beds were built in stone and oak and filled with tons of topsoil brought in by lorries.The raised beds were the only way to grow vegetable successfully due to contaminated soil.  Growing the pears as espaliers allows for large quantities of fruit from a small space. The size of the garden structures are large and chunky to hold their own with the dominant garden wall.
They even sunk a water tank beneath the raised beds to take the rainwater from the roofs of the house.  By the end of January 2009 the planting could begin. 

Sheena's Diary

Beginning of first year 2009

January.  :
My family gave me Christmas presents of trees. I remember the excitement of planting the first trees including a Stone Pine, Italian Cypresses , an olive, and lots of yew hedging for screening the car park area. We planted two Yews either side of the archway to look like a gateposts. Autumn raspberries go in.

‘Helen worked tirelessly and even managed to lay the lawn in the snow, unremittingly cheerful’! We chose hornbeams to create a high hedge at the far end of the garden.  We bought Betula jacquemontii (birches) with long silver trunks to put into planters in the drive.  All hard going in the very cold winter!

Helen laying the lawn in the snow

Yew hedging and roses start going in. Our fingers are going numb, putting up wires onto the old stone walls! Still cold but we put in the fruit trees and attach the Espalier pear trees and climbing roses onto new wires.  Start to plant Roses Mme Alfred Carriere, Phyllis Bide, Malvern Hills across the pergola.


At last, the grass seed is sown to tidy up the lower garden.  Vegetable areas and some herbaceous plants go in.  We have no shrubs anywhere in this scheme. I can’t explain why but just dislike them!


Generally the month of maintenance.  Weeding, (not too hard as all the soil is new, planting more herbaceous plants in the small herbaceous area)

Adding glass mirrors or beautiful glasshouse designs can really enhance a garden.


We levelled the area for the gravel garden, mixing a small amount of soil with small gravel to create the Mediterranean dry bed.  Lavenders go in. Put in masses of white cosmos for the autumn.


We paved the side entrance to the house and put herbs around the edges to create scent when you drive in.  Silver leaf Cardoons are looking fantastic adding tone and structure.  They’re the easiest things to grow and look fantastic through the winter as well.


First cut and shape of the Portugese laurel cubes in the driveway.  Lavender will be trimmed in subsequent years.  We planted six cypress trees and they’re loving the dry conditions.  The view through the stone mullions in the courtyard wall is stunning right now with the cypresses and lavender.


Cosmos have gone mad.  Lazy time of year – hot afternoons and when it cools down, I can get on with a bit of deadheading.  It feels as if we’re in Mediterranean courtyard.  Already. Hot! The bees love the planting.

October, Nov and Dec:
Bulbs planting.  Irises and Eremurus among the lavenders.  The coral colour next to Rose  Phyllis Bide will look sensational next year.  We’re constantly having to imagine how it will look next year!  Cutting back and clearing.

Year 2 

Jan/Feb/March 2010

Another cold winter but the strength of the design still looks good.  Cypresses and yews with snow on them look terrific.  I decide to have a go at planting a Kumquat tree on the far side of the gravel garden behind the wall . Winter structure is everything in this garden where there are no shrubs.  Important to keep digging over the compost as much as I can.

Planting vegetables in the raised beds.  Peas, carrots, spinach, broad beans.  Cosmos seeds in trays.  Feed the lawn with Weed and Feed.

Sheena and Simon love spending time in the garden together


Roses growing like mad and are already up to the tops of the wires.  Gosh, more wires needed!  The Phyllis Bide is blooming with Eremurus alongside in the gravel garden.  Lots of sweet rocket, alliums and geraniums in the courtyard springing up in the raised beds.  Boules de Neige roses making a splash with their pink edging.  Wow what a mammoth harvest of peaches!

Autumn 2010
Garden really establishing and flourishing.  All (except the Kumquat) the fruit trees are in their first fruiting. We discover there may be a patch of polluted soil, where possibly the pub had previously thrown out old batteries and rubbish. Not sure but had to clear this patch and put in some fresh soil.

  Winter 2010
Everything in the garden starts to go to sleep but the structure of the garden is still there and looking great. The frost seems to transform the garden again and it looks so magical looking out through the window. I feel we both deserve a good rest now after we cut back and clear once again.

Year 3

Jan/ Feb 2011

Spring/Summer 2011

Sheena loves spending time in the garden

The garden is really starting to spring into life all over again! All the flowers and bulbs flourishing day by day‘. I am once again thoroughly enjoying spending as much time as possible in the garden potting on my nursery plants, deadheading and weeding. The soft,white cosmos that spills out of the pots and beds, look so glorious against all the varying shades of green.’

Sheena enjoying some September sunshine.

Folly in May

Balmy late September afternoon

 Once again garden lies dormant for a few months but  we are enjoying its stillness. Cypress trees have grown significantly and still the Cardoon looks great!

  • Italian Cypresses ,Yew Hedges, Ceonothus, Cardoons and Lavender continue to hold the structure through the winter months

Year 4 

Jan/Feb: 2012

  • Fleeces are used to start warming the soil up prior to sowing the veg seed.  

I love wondering through this gravelled area of the garden in winter.  The shaped yew, cypress and ceonothus are so established now and give welcome shelter to the birds. Still smells pungeant and heady walking through.

There hasn’t been hardly any snow this winter and in fact has been very mild. The winter flowering pansies and the delicate chocolate coloured Akebia bring a welcome touch of colour to the courtyard.

Winter flowering pansies

Winter flowering pansies



  • Malvern roses and Honeysuckle cascading over the pergola look and smell glorious in early June
Again, enjoying meandering through the gravel path near the raised veg beds where I am hit with the heady aroma of the Malvern Hills rose, Lavender and glorious honeysuckle cascading down from the pergola. As so much more established, now the garden is looking different again from last year!

  • The heady scent of Malvern Hill Roses and Honeysuckle fill the air in early June

  Architectural aspects like the folly enhanced by more structural planting 



Gentle White Cosmos interspersed with White Geraniums and Angelica add a romantic feel and compliment one another

The garden amazes and delights us.  It is a private haven for birds, wildlife and us.  We enjoy the scented plants such as Holboellia, roses, lavender, Trachelospermum jasminioides and the glorious honeysuckle. Most trees and hedges have grown a foot every year. Simon said to me the other day ‘the growth in this garden is phenomenal and still going strong. The garden is only three years old!’  I think it must come from a combination of new soil and a sheltered south facing aspect, and the right plants for the conditions. This garden is so beautiful, surprises us constantly and is such a wonderful place to relax in with our family and friends.

Stunning Mediterranean courtyard
Stunning transformation!

10 GOLDEN RULES in Sheena’s garden

1.Go for an abundant summer look with winter structure
2. Get your privacy planting in early
3. Small pallette of colour 
4.Hard landscape on a large scale.  Use chunky timbers and don’t stint on size.
5. No shrubs
6 Spend money on big plants as and when possible
7. Feed the soil with compost.
8. Make your own compost
9. Fewer flowers but lots of green
10. Italian style works well in English Gardens.

Helen Johnson.can be contacted on 07879423894