How to escape: Why a cabin break can refresh the soul

Simplicity is key to a cabin stay and while few of us go the full Thoreau, retreating to a spartan, isolated setting is more appealing than ever

A few years ago, I lived in a cabin for several months. It was in a glade at the bottom of a steep-sided cwm (valley) in the Black Mountains, south-east Wales. The single room was furnished with a bed, a table and a chair. Water came from a nearby spring, and I had a wood-burning stove, a gas ring for cooking and an outside, composting toilet. The front deck overlooked a brook, which provided the ambient soundtrack to my dreams.

I lived a pared-down life in a pared-down house. I woke at first light and went to bed at sunset. I cooked everything in one pot and chopped my own firewood. There was no electricity and no wifi. I couldn’t even tune the radio. I had to cross a fence and walk 200 metres up a bracken bank to get intermittent mobile reception. Quietly, I cut myself adrift from all forms of media – and who doesn’t feel like doing that these days? There was, correspondingly, a lot of time: time to read, observe the birds and watch the trees “dreaming out their old stories to the wind” as Thomas Gray wrote. There was time to listen to rain on the tin roof and, for me, time to write. I left with the first draft of a book.

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Travel | The Guardian

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Modular Sofa Refresh with Karla Dreyer

Photography by David Kimber, www.kimberimages.ca

The star of this refresh is a modular, brown leather Amsterdam sofa. The goal was to create a fresh and light look. This beautiful space shows that even if the bigger elements in the room feel darker, you can still add lighter elements to freshen it up. The first step was to pair the sofa with a textured area rug that has an almost shag look to it which really softens the space.

The brown leather of this sofa works well as a neutral which gave us the freedom to be creative with color selection. I fell in love with the bold and beautiful art piece which we hung off-center for added drama. This became the jumping off point for the color palette. I then selected a variety of cushions in various shapes and sizes within the mauve/blush/purple color family. A great way to create a unified color scheme with visual interest is to select one color you love and then add in different shades of the same color. I continued the same color theme in a few handpicked accessories and added a touch of gold for a bit of glam.

Overall, this Refresh is a lesson in less is more. Adding a few carefully selected, bigger, bolder items rather than a lot of little items resulted in a space that is fresh and modern. To finish the look, a large plant in the corner adds life and freshness to the room while keeping with that same large scale theme.

Design by Karla Dreyer, www.karladreyerdesign. com; Photography by David Kimber, www.kimberimages.ca; Amsterdam, BoConcept, www.boconcept.com; Furniture and Accessories, BoConcept,
www.boconcept.com

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Weekly Roundup: Winter & Spring Refresh

Spring and Summer collections are making their mark, although there’s lots of Wintery merchandise too. It’s all good depending on whether you want to refresh for a long and cold Winter, or get cracking with Spring and Summer. 

Here are items that have been winners on clients and forum members recently.

Go to the collection page if you would like to see the images alongside my descriptions.

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How You Refresh Your Style

Forum member Bijou recently asked an interesting question: which aspects of our style do you regularly refresh so that you feel up to date, on-trend, and fabulous? Bijou boiled it down to the items that are the backbone of her style and work the hardest. For Bijou, it was dresses because she wears them frequently, and they’re signature to her style. 

The responses to Bijou’s post were fascinating. Some said tops, bottoms and footwear, and others said hairstyle, eyewear, colour, and outerwear. This makes perfect sense because there is no one, correct way to update or refresh your style. Fads are a thing of the past, trends last longer than they used to, and so-called style rules are obsolete. You can be as trendy, Modern Retro, classic or avant-garde as you like, and look absolutely fabulous.

When it comes to refreshing my own style, I prioritize these aspects, and strictly in this order.

1. Hair & Eyewear

Refreshing my hairstyle and eyewear is top priority because it’s integral to my signature style. I don’t go for drastic changes because I want to keep my hair short and blonde, and my eyewear Modern Retro. But I do change things up in a subtle way over the course of a couple of years to feel adequately refreshed. I’ve been growing out my fringe since January and wearing my pixie naturally wavy half the time. I added a new pair of vintage white prescription sunnies in February, and am looking at a new pair of red specs.

2. Jeans

Jeans are a wardrobe essential. I can wear them year round, to work and play, and white jeans are a favourite. Although I’m wearing jeans less frequently than I used to — favouring dresses, skirts and pants — I wear jeans A LOT. I want them to be the trendy aspect of my style because I’m not as trendy with shoes, pants and tops.

I don’t refresh my capsule every season, but I unexpectedly felt that my jeans capsule was too classic for Autumn & Winter, so I’m in the midst of editing and adding on-trend silhouettes. I’ve committed to the first two dark wash styles in the collection, and have the rest on order. I hope to add four new silhouettes.

3.Outerwear

I wear a lot of outerwear because of my climate. Since it’s my second favourite wardrobe item to purchase, I like to refresh with a few trendier items more frequently than most. I enjoy the drama of a trendy topper, and how it takes centre stage in an outfit. It also makes what you wear underneath feel “new”. This season I added an animal print coat in a gentle cocoon silhouette, and cape coat with faux fur. I’d like to add another short fashion puffer, but haven’t yet found a suitable style.

4. Handbags

I’m not into adding the new “it” bag of the season because I’m very set in my ways with bag silhouettes that work for my lifestyle. But since handbags are my favourite wardrobe item, I’m regularly refreshing my capsule and swapping out bags to create different moods in my outfits. This year I added a straw bag, and four Furlas (two of which were birthday presents). The Furlas are wardrobe workhorses.

5. Footwear

Footwear completes an outfit, adding a whole lot of interest and personality. Wearing on-trend footwear refreshes the look of golden oldies too. I do what I can to add a smattering of trendy shoes to my style each season, which is challenging given my fussy feet, urban walking lifestyle, and zero tolerance for uncomfortable shoes. This year I added mules, Western shooties, chunky white athletic sneakers, and more pairs of white boots.

6. Dresses & Skirts

From now on, I only wear knee-covering midis and dresses with sleeves, but I refresh with on-trend styles within my narrow range of style preferences. Midis are on trend at the moment, so I milked it and added a LOT of trendier dresses to my wardrobe this year. Some of the styles are Trendy Classics, which is even better.

Blouses, knit tops, knitwear, blazers, socks, scarves, belts, swimwear, make-up, nail polish, watches, workout wear, loungewear and jewellery stay relatively modern classic for my style. I’m less likely to amp up the trend factor in these items, if at all. Pants run the gamut. Sometimes I amp up their trend factor and sometimes I don’t. I focussed on dresses, skirts and white jeans for Spring and Summer, so trendy pants were not a priority. For Autumn and Winter, I’m focussing on jeans and dresses, and figuring out what I want to do for pants. I’d love to replace the orange and red pairs I recently passed on, but haven’t found anything suitable yet.

These six areas are a lot to tackle, and some years I’m more inspired, motivated and energized than others. Some seasons are more my look, which makes things easier. But lack of time, a limited budget, the wrong headspace, other priories, or just not being in the mood can get in the way. That’s OK too, because there are more important things than refreshing one’s style.

Over to you. Which components of your style do you refresh most regularly to feel on trend, up to date and fabulous?

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