Low Key Outdoor Dinner Party

Now that Summer has officially arrived, read our 7 Top Tips to nailing a low key, stress free dinner party.

Image: Fresh Exchange

Stress Free Entertaining

So summer is almost upon us (thank-you Sun Gods!) and with that brings the very British trait of organising an impromptu BBQ or al-fresco dinner party at the first flicker of sunshine. If you haven’t had the opportunity to have a quick whizz around the garden yet (because let’s face it – it has been soggy to say the least!) check out our Garden Gains blog for tips on how to tart up your garden quickly and easily ahead of outdoor entertaining. 
Once you have your outdoor space looking guest ready, here are some ideas to pimp your party . . .

Seven Steps to Nailing the Casual Summer Garden Gathering

There’s nothing like the magic of a chilled summer dinner party where all seems right with the world—the table looks amazing, everyone is relaxed, and the menu hits the spot, so follow these top tips to get you there . . .

1. Marketplace not Menu

Fresh Produce. Image: Mon Cherie Bridals

Rather than scouring Pinterest for complicated recipes, check out what’s looking great at the local market. Food is such a good way to connect to nature and the seasons, so if you can, go for seasonal organic produce packed full of flavour. When you begin with what’s at the market, the vegetables will naturally take a starring role in the menu, but do go ahead and source some good quality protein or meat from the butchers if budget allows.

2. Set a Simpler Table

Shop our Kitchen Range online or in store

Taking a pared-down approach to table settings is chic yet puts everyone at ease. Here is how to keep it simple: 

a water glass and one medium-size wine glass at each setting (no need for multiple wine glasses—a midsize one can work for red or white)

a white or light plate—food always looks best on a pale backdrop

a napkin folded on the plate—choose a cotton one, as linen often requires ironing!!

a fork and a knife  – no need to get all fancy-schmancy with multiple knives and forks relating to individual courses, and don’t bother with a spoon –  when you serve dessert, you can bring the dessert spoons or forks in a mason jar.

Place Cards are a great idea so that  no one feels the pressure of figuring out where to sit – they don’t necessarily need to be works of art, torn pieces of craft paper with names written by hand look great on a rustic table.

Once set, take a look at the place setting and make sure that each guest can access everything they might need at arms length so they can help themselves to bread/water and wine.

3. Herbalicious

Potted Herbs Image: Max Burnett

Of course, flowers are lovely, but for casual gatherings, consider center pieces featuring the herbs you use to cook. Buy in bulk, and use them for center pieces, cooking, and cocktails. Make little arrangements – Basil and Mint are perfect in the summertime – they look fab, smell amazing and guests can literally eat them off the table! Plus these arrangements are low level enough not to get in the way of good conversation (and by choosing them over flowers, you can keep your party expenses down a bit).

4. Take Time to Chill

Image: Mad About Wine

For many, having people over and feeding them can be stressful – especially when you hit last-minute hurdles. But the key is to relax – everyone (you included) will have a much better time. If you seem stressed, your guests may get a message that ‘this is a burden.’. When you invite guests to your home, your job is to feed them,  and take care of them for a night. So even if you’re totally stressed out and the chicken is burnt, just welcome your guests at the door with a big smile on your face and a big cocktail in your hand ready to handover to them!

Better yet, avoid the stress in the first place. Make something you’ve already made before, so you don’t get too caught up in a recipe. Finish the main cooking before people arrive – let the food rest; and reheat or add finishing touches once guests have arrived. Know the things that are a stressor for you – if you need to give yourself time to shower and straighten your hair, to put together the right playlist, or to have a glass of wine before people come, do it. 

5. Everyone is the Bartender

Image: Pinterest Source Unknown

The DIY cocktail bar might be our favorite entertaining go-to. It saves the hosts from the messy multitasking of trying to make drinks, greet other guests, take coats, and allows guests have fun immediately. Everyone loves putting their own trademark on their cocktail. It brings out the kid in a pick ‘n’ mix situation in all of us—like, “I put a squeeze of lime in mine and lots of crushed ice!” It’s the perfect way to loosen up a party.

6. Ask for Help

Cheers!

Not only can a few extra hands help practically, but most guests love to make a small contribution to bringing the meal together. Once guests have a cocktail in hand, you could ask them to take on a task—fill bottles with water for the table, dress the salad (since that should always be done last!), light the candles, help carve meat, or bring plates to the table.

7. Give a Toast and enjoy!

Madonna Face Glasses at Liv’s

Once everyone’s seated and served, kick things off on a high note with a toast. It doesn’t need to be a Father-of-the-Bride-Wedding cringey speech – just a quick toast to your health to set the sentiment for the evening ahead. And make sure you clink everyone’s glass and look them in the eye . . .not that we are superstitious or anything!

Meet the Team . . .

Based on a recent poll on the ‘gram you lovely lot want to meet the Team! So without further a-do . .

Based on a recent poll on the ‘gram you lovely lot want to meet the Team! So without further a-do . . . .

Betty the Shih Poo
The real Boss!! Betty our Shih-Poo

Liv – Director and Creative Genius

Liv and Betty

Liv is the Creative Director of the business, chief buyer and has a fabulous eye for trends. Originally from Bergen in Norway, her style influence can be seen throughout the shop. Liv designed our lovely website and provides creative guidance and strategy across all projects. Momma to Betty (our resident pooch) Liv loves all dogs, when she’s not in the office, she’s talking to everybody’s dog on the shop floor.

MC – Managing Director and Operations Mastermind

MC makings deliveries

Michael is Liv’s husband and co-founder of the business. He is the man who makes everything work from admin and payments to warehousing and security. With a background in construction, MC is the guy to turn to for big in-store builds, and his knowledge of furniture is unrivalled. You’ll have met MC if you’ve ever ordered furniture from us – he drives the van, delivers to customers homes (with a big smile) and constructs your furniture too! MC loves Paul Weller, football and thinks there is nothing worse than flat beer!

Kate – Store Manager and Styling Sensation

Kate at Paris Show finding new treasures

Kate is our Store Manager, who joined the team back in 2013 from a background in Visual Merchandising. Day to day, Kate can be found leading the team, up a ladder in the windows (her favourite place to be!) or on the shop floor merchandising like a ninja!  Championing customer service, and total team cheerleader, Kate works to keep a happy shop. When she’s not in store, or delivering furniture to customer’s homes, Kate also joins Liv and Michael on buying trips and works to bring fresh trends through to the shop floor. Kate loves cats, a chilly Sauvignon Blanc and British Country Music.

Gina – Assistant Manager and Construction Queen

Gina in her happy place

Gina is our no-nonsense, Northern powerhouse. She is originally from North Yorkshire, and after joining the team in 2014 now calls Birmingham her ‘home from home’. Gina’s background is in Theatre and Events Design, so is often the creative force behind big instore builds and installations. You’ll quite often find her up some ladders, with a selection of faux florals in one hand and a drill in the other, adding a splash of drama! If not in the shop Gina is likely to be with MC on delivery to customer’s homes and sourcing new materials for the next big exciting make-over. Gina loves making (and drinking) gin, hot yoga and travelling.

Phoebe – Super Sales Assistant

Phoebe is the newest member of the team, she joined us in January having just completed her MA in Literary Studies. Although new to the team, she’s a natural at merchandising and wonderful with words. Phoebe is an absolute bookworm and has an unrivaled collection of cactuses. Phoebe loves Italian food and is partial to a cheeky prosecco.

Amy – Content Creator and Paparazzo

Amy having short girl probs

Amy joined the team last year to ‘do the words and pictures’. Normally in the office, you’ll sometimes see Amy in a wafty skirt with a massive camera, taking pictures around the shop. With a background in marketing and photography she is rarely without a phone in her hand, always on the hunt for the next insta-opportunity! Amy loves Ibiza, her children and scented candles.

Emma – Super Sales Assistant

Emma works with us on Sundays and is a proud and full time mum to her 2yr old daughter for the rest of the week. Emma’s background in retail feeds into her love of customer service. And having just moved in to her new home, she’s faced with countless style opportunities, finds inspiration in the shop, and has developed a love for storage solutions. Emma loves holidays, bad TV and styling her new home.

Betty – Shih-Poo and Top Dog

Betty has recently turned 2! She absolutely LOVES a fuss and walks to work with Liv quite regularly.

So there we have it . . .our little team! Make sure you come and say “Hi!” to us next time you’re in store!

No January Blues here – it’s all Coral!

New Year. New Hue. How colour of the year “Living Coral’ can work for you

Happy New Year (can we still say that?)! We hope you had a wonderful time over the festive season celebrating with friends and family. We literally ate our body weight in cheese, gorged on Christmas TV and now we are ready for an exciting 2019.

This Month We Are . . . 

WATCHING: ‘Luther’ (hello Idris!) (…from behind a cushion) and Tidying Up with Marie Kondo (I read her first book, did (almost) everything she recommended and kept local charity shops in business for at least a year 😉 

READING: ‘Quiet’ by Fearne Cotton
LISTENING TO: ‘I Found You / Nilda’s Story’ by Benny Blanco, Calvin Harris and Miguel.

New Year, New Hue

The Pantone Institute have announced The Pantone of the Year 2019 as Living Coral chosen for its “animating and life-affirming” hue which “energizes and enlivens with a softer edge,” according to the official site.

To us, Living Coral feels like that fresh, vibrant shade that we’re all looking for to kick off the new year, especially when we’re trying to escape from the cold dreariness of winter. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it works well in your home, wardrobe and make-up bag!

Live with Living Coral

Take inspiration from Sweden’s Artilleriet Store and make coral cozy and luxe. Super snuggly.

Image Credit: @artillerietstore  


Or make it happy and bright like this coral dining room with it’s vintage finds.

Image Credit: www.thespruce.com

For the brave fashionistas how stunning are these colours and textures together?

Image Credit: Styling @sarahdebeaumont, Art Direction @thibautmathieuad for @ad_magazine

Love the textures and colours in this bakery. Who would have thought pink grout could be to die for?!

Image Credit: www.deezeen.com

If a large expanse of coral packs too much of a punch for you, take a more subtle approach by adding accents with accessories, or introduce colour via a picture wall like this gallery in the stunning home Tanja Gottharsden.

Image Credit: Home of Tanja Gotthardsen

Or take a tonal approach and use a stack of cushions in complementary shades.

Image Credit: Unknown. Sourced via Pinterest

This shade also works well mixed with other unexpected colour ways like this rich jewel emerald with just a pop of coral.

Image Credit: www.digsdigs.com

If you want something a little less committal and maybe at a more palatable price point, go crazy with florals, we love these colourful beautiful creations by @tulipinadesign

Or perhaps paint the inside of one of your internal doors for a happy little surprise.

Image Credit: Unknown, sourced via Pinterest

Have a wonderful January lovelies, here’s to keeping resolutions and embracing colour!

P.S. Don’t forget to check out our Pinterest board for more coral inspo xx

Feast Your Eyes on This

Christmas Tablescaping? Oh, have we got a treat in store for you . . .step this way please . .

There’s nothing we love more than designing and styling a table here at Liv’s and with the Big Day fast approaching, we’ve come up with some inspo to help you plan your Christmas tablescape.

Image: Pinterest

ALL THE GREENERY

Image: Pinterest

Faux or real, foliage is such a simple way to add colour, texture and depth to your table. Eucalyptus is a firm favourite with us. If you opt for faux its universal enough to use all year round, but if you go for the real deal the smell will be sensational. Like in the image above, we like to use it as a centerpiece running down the middle of the table; it’s so easy, there’s no faffing required – the more wild and rustic the better. You can add more interest by introducing some pillar candles, we like plain white but feel free to match them up to a secondary colour in your scheme. Another nice touch if you’d prefer not to light candles at the table is a string of teeny tiny warm hued battery operated LED lights – so twinkly!

Image: M&L Florists

FLOATING FOLIAGE

If you want to add impact and drama, mirror what you’ve styled on the table above it too, or instead – for extra room to serve Christmas Dinner! In the past, we’ve used a large branch or twig salvaged from the garden, but a piece of dowling would work too. Use fishing wire to suspend from tiny hooks in the ceiling (command strips are great as they wont make holes in the paintwork), or from skylights. Then, using floristry wire, attach stems of eucalyptus (and maybe even some fir – you could use off cuts from your tree). We think it looks really nice if some of the stems overhang the ends of the branch or rod. Again, adding some battery powered LED lights would make this installation look really magical – just use floristry wire to wind the battery pack securely to the branch, and hide it with some strategically placed stems.

Image: Home and Garden

BAUBLES

If green foliage is too simplistic, you can add a secondary colour to your scheme and weave that throughout, using bunches of glitter picks. Perhaps use some feathered or bronze crackle glazed baubles in mixed sizes and shapes hanging  them from your floating instalment; or one on the place setting for each guest with their name attached (we love a Dymo Label Maker – type out the name or initials of each guest and stick it to the bauble).

Image: Christian Brun

FEATHERS

Or to keep things rustic add some feathers – nestle them into the greenery and add them to a cutlery bundle with a napkin and some twine like the one below.

Image: Livs.co.uk

TEXTURE

As well as adding texture through foliage and greenery, layering up your tableware will add extra interest, contrast and dimension. Try using some beaded placemats and coasters, topped with either a charger plate that tonally matches up to the colour of your dinnerware, or a dinner plate and a starter plate or bowl on top. Next add a napkin/cutlery and a name card and or sprig of foliage or embellishment to compliment your theme. We love the tones used in the image below – midnight blue and matte gold really zing with teal and greens from the foliage.

Image: Unknown

Above all, don’t worry too much about symmetry, formality of where the cutlery goes – enjoy the company of friends and family over good food and drink.

Happy tablescaping lovelies!

How To: Create an Everlasting Wreath

Kate gets creative and takes us through a step by step guide to making an Everlasting Wreath

Faux Christmas Wreath with fruit foliage and glitter embellishments
The finished article . . . 

You will need:

  • A  wreath base –  I like to use faux fir for  density because I just love a full bushy wreath, but wire or wicker will both work fine. In fact wire left exposed can give quite a stylish Scandinavian aesthetic.
  • Faux Foliage stems of your choice – as much as you like, and more the merrier. I like to use a contrasting shaped leaf to the fir for variation, in this case eucalyptus. I’ve used a burgundy autumnal shade alongside classic green.
  • Decorative Stems – red berries, snow berries, mistletoe, frosted blueberries… here is where you can start to really get creative with the colour scheme of your wreath.
  • Decorative Adornments – Glitter leaf picks, Clip on birds, Dried Fruit, Cones, Cinnamon sticks, feathers, dried leaves. Be it gorgeous glam or understated natural, it’s time to accentuate your Christmas vibe.
  • Battery operated LED Fairy Lights – add a little bit of twinkle to your masterpiece.
  • Tools – florists wire, wire snips, scissors, ribbon to hang (optional)
Layout of all the tools and items you need to make a faux Christmas Wreath
Tool Kit

“I think the key to good wreath making is having lots of fun with it, be bold!” 

Kate, Store Manager

Step 1. Pick the wreath base of your choice, and foliage stems that will give you the look you want for your wreath.

Naked Faux Fir Wreath

For the wreath featured here I used 2 x Eucalyptus Bush (and snipped off the individual stems to use separately) and 3 x Burgundy Eucalyptus stem.

Step 2. Fluff-up your wreath base so it’s looking it’s best, and then wire the foliage stems into the wreath, working your way around the wreath, with all the stems pointing in the same direction. Secure the stems in place by twisting a length of wire around the base of each stem, and securing to the base as you go. Pull branches of the base wreath through to give a little more depth. You should now have a wonderfully wild natural wreath.

Faux Christmas Wreath with Burgundy and Green Eucalyptus
Burgundy and Green Eucalyptus

Step 3. Get going with the decorative stems, weave the berries through the wreath, still working in the same direction, securing in the same way as you did with the eucalyptus.

Faux Christmas Wreath with Berries and Dried Fruits
Fruit and Berries

Step 4. Now is a good time to add battery operated fairy lights if you would like to add a bit of festive twinkle to your wreath.

Faux Christmas Wreath with LED Battery Powered Fairy Lights
Twinkly Lights

Step 5. Once your wreath is twinkling, it’s time to start styling it with your decorative adornments. I love dried fruit, and florists wire is perfect for poking through the body of the fruit to enable you to secure it to the wreath base. I arranged the fruit in little clusters and added glittered acorns and leaf picks to complete the look.  For a more natural wreath aesthetic,  pheasant and guinea fowl feathers look understated and gorgeous. Wire these into place as you have done previously.

Step 6. Time to fluff up all the layers of your wreath to add extra depth, and splay the edges of the foliage for extra wilderness vibes. Now you can add any finishing touches. I nestled a tiny glitter bird in the foliage to add a touch of life.

Embellished Faux Christmas Wreath
Glitter Bird Embellishments

Step 7. You’re done! Hang your wreath proudly on your door (attaching gorgeous ribbon if you choose), pour yourself something sparkly and congratulate yourself on your excellent wreath making skills. Put your feet up and admire your handiwork!

To shop some of the beautiful embellishments you could add to your wreath, check out our Christmas line

Behind the scenes – it’s photoshoot time!

Come and take a peep behind the scenes and check out our latest shoot for SS18 Lookbook!

If you follow us on social media, you may have seen that we had a little photoshoot with all of our lovely stock recently!!! Over two days, we took over a lovely old house in the Coleshill countryside and filled it with everything Liv’s!

Photographer on Interiors Shoot

Our manager Kate, assistant manager Gina, in-house photographer Lou, business owners Liv & MC and of course Betty the Shih-poo all went along to build, style and photograph lots of furniture and accessories for our website.

Take a look below for a little inside look at how things happened over the two days – go team!

Continue reading “Behind the scenes – it’s photoshoot time!”

Liv’s meets Heather from Feather & Flourish!

Ten Minutes with Heather from Feather & Flourish. All things Modern Calligraphy.

As some of you might know, we have been holding a series of creative workshops here at Liv’s over the past few months. It’s been great to see our little shop space being transformed in the evenings and used for creative events – there’s a really different atmosphere once we shut the front doors!

Hands Writing Modern Calligraphy

One of our most popular workshops so far has been the chance to learn Modern Calligraphy with the wonderful Heather Martin from Feather & Flourish. If you haven’t already met Heather, we thought you might like to find out a little bit more about her… take a look below for some questions we put to Heather about how she started her business and her inspirations!

Continue reading “Liv’s meets Heather from Feather & Flourish!”

Win an Nkuku frame!

Just share your favourite vintage family photograph with us for the chance to win!

This week we have had great fun looking through old photos here at Liv’s HQ. We are currently working on creating a meet the team page for our website and we have asked the team to each bring in their favourite photo from when they were young.

It’s been so funny looking through all of our old photos that we thought how good it would be to see some of your old photos too!

Collection of Nkuku Photo Frames

Continue reading “Win an Nkuku frame!”

New stock from Madam Stoltz is now online!

Here is a run down of our favourite new finds including the beachy boho vibes of Madam Stoltz

It’s been a busy few weeks as usual here at Liv’s HQ! So far in April the sun has finally started to shine (hooray for summer?!), we have had deliveries of new stock coming in thick and fast and we have been busy booking new dates into our workshop diary – there will be another new post coming on that soon!

Here is a rundown of some our favourite new finds that are now available to buy on our website. We are especially loving the beach boho vibes of our Madam Stoltz cushions and baskets!

Continue reading “New stock from Madam Stoltz is now online!”

Local Deli Supplies for your Kitchen!

Our New Venture sees us showcase our love for local business with lots of tasty treats!

We have some more exciting news to announce here at Liv’s HQ! If you popped in to the shop over the weekend you may have spotted our wonderful new dining table filled with chutneys, jam, coffee and more! Starting this week we will be stocking a new little offering of locally made tasty groceries to jazz up your favourite dishes.

Continue reading “Local Deli Supplies for your Kitchen!”