Bad Blogger!!!

I cant believe it’s been almost a year since my last blog!!!! I guess its hard to nurture every part of social media all the time! But I really must try harder to blog at least once a month.


Today’s post will however be short, sweet and full of pictures! A mini catch up of sorts with me and the Chalk Paint™ stockists in N.Ireland…

In February this year each of us took all the Annie Sloan colours and painted beautiful pieces.  We called it 28 days of Chalk Paint™ by Annie Sloan N.Ireland.  It was a great success and  helped highlight the popularity of the brand here in N.Ireland.  We had such a great response to our creativity and found it helped inspire others to have a go!!

Below is a selection of pieces painted over the 28 days…

Enjoy, be back soon!!!

Jill x

IMG_8171 IMG_0004 IMG_0007 IMG_8315 IMG_8365 IMG_8374 IMG_8384 IMG_8390 IMG_8408

Home Sweet Home

Good morning from a sunny N. Ireland. Just what we need, and long may it continue….

I dont mind whatever the weather these days though, nothing can bring me down from the excitement I have felt this week!  This week the builder finally started our new home.  Lots of photos for you this week!  This one is of the girls and myself as work began…


On Tuesday evening the diggers arrived, and on Wednesday at 7am the work began.  I have never experienced such committed work men. They worked long hours each day on site.


Im sure a muddy field isn’t that exciting to most, but this is a dream for us, and something we have been working towards for quite some time.  My biggest Design project ever has begun. I cant stop thinking about the Interior design, imagine the possibilities. Walks in the country to gather inspiration will not be hard to achieve. We will be surrounded by a world of wildlife and beauty.  At the moment the apple blossom is just starting to appear, and we have a pair of hares living in the orchard behind us.

Rodger and I spent last night chatting about the garden design,  with all the ideas that have been thrown around we will want to camp ourselves there instead of living in the actual house.  Naomi has requested quite a menagerie of animals, and Ella, well, when asked what she would like in the new garden she replied “sweets” I think we can complete that request easily enough 🙂   The photo below was Thursday morning. I was thrilled to finally see it all mapped out on the ground, such a sense of satisfaction.


The next photo was Thursday evening as the builders poured the foundations. I think it will be hard for me to stay away from the site over the next while, but work should keep me busy.


By Friday afternoon all the foundations had been poured….


….and the block work is sitting on site awaiting the new week ahead. I cant wait to see what next week brings!



We also welcomed a new member to the Bennett household this week! Meet Molly our little Border Terrier.  The fun these 3 have had this week is immense.  She has settled in so well, and is the missing piece of our jigsaw 🙂



Have a fabulous weekend everyone…


Jill xoxoxo

Designed By Nature

Hi everyone, its been a while since my last blog, so Im excited to be back!

Today I want to talk about the Influence of nature in design. I could talk for hours on the subject.  It is one of my passions, especially when designing furniture. I will skim product and furniture design quickly, as I best focus on the relevance in terms of up cycling with Chalk Paint™ by Annie Sloan, and Interior design. I guess the best place to start is the beginning…

Wether you believe in God or in Evolution, one thing remains that nature is total perfection.  Man came first, and Leonardo Da Vinci recorded better than anyone the ‘Devine proportions’ found in the human body with his drawing the ‘Vetruvian man’. For those of you unfamiliar, it is well worth familiarising yourself with.  I was lucky enough to view Leonardos original drawings in an exhibition at the Ulster museum, maybe 15 years ago. To say I was in awe is an understatement!

We also see Devine proportions in other aspects of nature for instance this shell below.



Now look how the shell has been interpreted by an architect to create a fabulous spiralling staircase.  Nature at its best, influencing design to be at its best also.



When we Designers design anything human related be it a chair or mobile phone, human proportion plays a huge part in the design process. We use data correlated in books varying from child data right through to adult data.  Design is not simply the aesthetic, there is so much more in between.  It is no coincidence your new iPhone 5 fits snugly in the palm of your hand, and you can swipe the icons with your thumb. Or your favourite chair that sits beautifully in your living room moulds to your body perfectly. It is simply great design using human data taken from us, via natures original design.  Below is an image from an adult data reference book.


It is also no mistake that Autumn leaves are such a fabulous hue of russet, yellow, reds and brown, or that the sky is blue and the grass is green, or that bird feathers are such a myriad of beautiful tones (I mentioned this briefly last week on my Facebook page, here .

So I hope that gives you a little idea of how nature can and does influence most designed ‘things’ you see in everyday life.  Now I want to give you a simple example of how to look at nature and translate it into your own home environment.  It may be your favourite view, flower, tree, bird or fish that inspires you and by simply looking at the colour combinations of that situation or subject  you will find your inspiration.

Below is a colour wheel, you will find these in art shops or on the internet. I keep one handy everyday in work, they are such a useful tool for designers, garden designers, crafters and artists alike.  The colour wheel helps you choose colours that compliment. I mentioned in a previous blog the simple concept of using a colour wheel. For those of you who missed it, it basically means anything opposite is a complimentary.



Im going to start with a simple example, one we all have around us and we all have our favourites. Flowers, they are truly beautiful, and come in so many colours and varieties so the opportunities for inspiration are endless. One of my favourite flowers is the beautiful Iris below.


You can see the Iris is predominantly purple/pink combined with yellow.  Now look above to the colour wheel and you will see those very colours sit opposite each other. So translating this into furniture painting you could take direct inspiration and use Chalk Paint™ ‘Old Violet’ and ‘English Yellow’ together or by not taking ‘direct’ inspiration and using more subtle tones like ‘Emile’ and ‘Versaille’.  Below is the Annie Sloan colour card, you can see how these colours are opposite each other.  Cleverly Annie set out her colour card as a colour wheel to help you all when choosing colour! Clever!


Below is an example of Chalk Paint™ in ‘Versailles’ and ‘Emile’ used inside as a pop of colour.


Purple and yellow in their pure form can be a very harsh combination in an Interior space.  I personally would recommend using them in softer shades for a calmer, more peaceful experience. Below, in my opinion, is a really bad example of the use of these two colours together in an Interior setting.



On the other hand this time, below, is a gorgeous example of the two colours used beautifully together.  As you can see you don’t need to use the obvious shades of the Iris (strong purple & yellow), you can, but in this instance, I think letting the colour combination inspire you, but not directly creates a more subtle use of the colour combo.


This is a very brief example of how to use nature in your up cycling and interior design projects.  I hope it has inspired you to think about nature in a positive way when considering colour choice.  Nature is a constant source of inspiration for Interior design, with the endless changing hues reflected in every season. If you need some ideas, take a walk in the country or visit the coast. Colours and textures abound in nature and they are just waiting there to be noticed and used by you!

I hope you are all enjoying the lovely weather we are having here in N.Ireland at the moment.  Long may it continue 🙂


Jill xoxo










Decoration is the veneer of life

Morning everyone.  What a lovely week we have had here in Northern Ireland, happy to report bright skies and little or no rain! The kids have been outside playing every afternoon which is such a great feeling.  Below is a little photo of the girls and I at the Argory   my favourite national trust property in Co. Armagh where we live.


Today I want to explain our strap line “Decoration is the veneer of life” and what it means to me. The definition of veneer – A thin decorative covering of fine wood applied to a coarser wood or other material. Or – An attractive appearance that covers or disguises something’s true nature.  This is quite a statement! I could elaborate on this in so many ways, but today I want to explain it in its context within the decoration of home interiors.

In current times home design and styling has become intrinsic to this expression of self, almost becoming a story told through design. The home space is being passionately converted into an ‘object’ or possession reflecting the social status of the owner and his personality. No matter the size, shape, quality or style of home you reside in, one thing remains… It is YOUR home. A place you welcome family and friends. A place you laugh in and share precious memories, but also a place you cry and find comfort during the more difficult times in life… No matter what, home is where your heart lives, and remains to most a place of safety and solace.

Decorating our homes is one of the most personal expressions of self we will complete in our lifetime. We love to find inspiration from friends, TV shows and places we visit.  In my case National trust properties with glorious period Interiors.  Or the cool airiness of the Scandinavian style of living.  Interiors speak volumes of the inhabitants taste and style.  I don’t know about you, but I love visiting peoples homes! We can very quickly get an impression of a person simply by seeing wallpaper choice, decoration, curtains or ornaments on display.  Some are conservative and safe very telling of a traditional, quite serious personality.  Others are bright, colourful and expressive of a bolder, artistic personality. Some are calm, quiet and more telling of a softer nature.  Next time any of my friend invite me to their home beware lol. But in almost all cases my friends and families interior decor is always representative of them as a person.

Who lives in a house like this?

Below is one of the bedrooms in Annie Sloan’s farmhouse in Normandy, france. How very telling that an Artist lives in this house!  The use of clashing colours on the bed works beautifully against the neutral calmness of the walls, floor and soft furnishings.


This gorgeous blog by Janice Issitt sums up exactly how personality determines interior styling.  Chalk it up – I adore the use of colour by Janice, she is truly inspiring. Her use of Chalk Paint™ is just beautiful.

Chalk Paint™ veneer 

The line “Decoration is the veneer of life” can also be linked to painting and up-cycling pieces of furniture within the home. Pieces we’ve had for years that are now out of place within our ever changing interior design styling.  Often people who come into our shop tell the same story. “I have old orange pine, its good quality, solid, really well made and it seems a shame to throw it away.” This is the perfect paint project for all the Chalk Paint™ by Annie Sloan enthusiasts. Giving this old orange pine a new “Veneer” with a lick of paint is effectively  breathing new life into a piece that may have ended up on the dump. We are giving these pieces  “An attractive appearance that covers or disguises something’s true nature.” In doing so we are expressing our style and taste in creating something new from something old.  Isn’t this just the BEST thing about Chalk Paint™,  the fact that we are replacing our throw away society. Becoming more aware of the importance of  reusing, recycling and reducing waste, is in effect reducing our own carbon footprint on the planet we all inhabit.

Below is a before and after of a dressing table I transformed using a multitude of Chalk Paint™ colours. The main colour is Antoinette trimmed with Old White.


So I hope this gives you an insight into our ethos and our motivation at Dandelion Lane Interiors. We are always on hand to guide you with  your colour and Interior Design choices.  As a team we have many years experience within the fields of Interior design, upholstery and home making etc. We are only too happy to impart this knowledge to our customers.  Our fabric and wallpaper library is extensive, including well known brands such as Sanderson, Morris & Co, Clarke & Clarke and Voyage Decoration.  We also stock fabric on the roll by Annie Sloan™ and Clarke & Clarke.  We have gorgeous soft furnishings by Voyage Maison and Avoca to dress your home in style. We offer Decorative painting workshops, sewing workshops, lampshade workshops and much much more.  So why not pay us a visit, and let us inspire you, guide you, teach you and most importantly help you create the beautifully veneered home you aspire to.


Have a fabulous St. Patricks weekend everyone!!! May the luck of the Irish be with you all… We will be closed on Monday, hopefully enjoying the well earned rest at home with our loved ones…

Jill xoxox

Dandelions are Yellow

Afternoon everyone…  This week the kids and myself have been busy busy… We’ve been building our guinea pigs their new home. Had our 1st site meeting about our own new home. Ella was sick during the week, and today we are baking orange fairy cakes. It has been quite a week! I just love this time of year though and the emergence of Spring. It most definitely puts a spring in ones step.

I mentioned in my first blog post how I came to the name ‘Dandelion Lane’ Just to refresh for those of you who may not have read it.  I asked my  daughter Naomi what her favourite flower was, and she told me “Dandelions mummy!  Because they are yellow and yellow is a happy colour!” It also happens to be her very favourite colour!!!  So todays blog is about…. Yellow…

As a result of feeling the joys of spring this week I have been using “English Yellow” Chalk Paint™ by Annie Sloan.  This colour always makes me feel happy! I was so thrilled when it was introduced back into the colour range over a year ago now. Yellow is a primary colour and one people are often scared to use, so I thought I would try to inspire you to give it a go and fall in love with it as I have.


Yellow is the colour of sunshine. It’s associated with joy, happiness, intellect, and energy.  Yellow produces a warming effect, arouses cheerfulness, stimulates mental activity, and generates energy.”


Use yellow to evoke pleasant, cheerful feelings. Light yellow tends to disappear into white, so it usually needs a dark color to highlight it. So if primrose yellow is as bold as you want to go right now, use a dark grey on the walls to make it pop.  Shades of yellow are visually unappealing because they loose cheerfulness and become dingy. So using bright yellow sparingly, for example on a statement piece brings clarity of colour and places the object more distinctly within its environment.

Which rooms in the house particularly lend themselves to yellow, and are there any where it should be avoided?

The most suitable rooms to use yellow are hallways as they are often the darkest room in the house. Yellow is a welcoming colour, so it will brighten and add cheerfulness. The kitchen/breakfast room will also benefit from yellow as it helps create a sunny, happy atmosphere when starting a new day.


I would suggest avoiding the use of yellow on bedroom walls. Yellow is a psychological primary which relates to emotions. Sleeping in a room that is decorated with yellow will over time lead you will wake up irritable and annoyed. However a single chair painted in yellow, as a statement can live comfortably within a bedroom scheme. (Photos above & below from Pinterest.)


Lots of photos this week to inspire!!! I hope this gives you a little idea on how to use yellow successfully within your own interior! Use the Annie Sloan™ Colour card to help you choose complementaries that will work well with English Yellow.


For those of you who are new to Chalk Paint™ let me introduce the colour card. Annie has very cleverly designed it into the colour wheel. It is a great aid when choosing colour as it works on the same basis as the regular colour wheel. Anything opposite is a complimentary. So for instance, opposite “English Yellow” is “Burgundy” this means these two colours will sit comfortably together and compliment each other, they don’t argue…


So I hope this incoming week you will give “English Yellow” a try. You can even use the empty can when you have finished! They make excellent flower pots. I used this weeks can and planted some daffodils and it now has pride of place in our window display.


As I mentioned at the start we also bought the Guinea pigs a new house, now that the weather is set to improve they can live outside. At Naomi’s request it was, of course, Yellow… Happy guinea pigs.



Follow my “Colour” board on Pinterest for more inspiration.

Have a great week everyone! 


Jill x

Heart & Home

Morning everyone!  I have been really looking forward to sharing another blog post with you, and today I want to share about influence and inspiration in my life.  I guess this post must begin from my “Heart & Home”

“Heart & Home” is the modern translation of the “Household and its inhabitants”. I mentioned last week that my dad has been the major influence on my career path so far. I guess this is normal progression in most households, as children tend to learn through imitation, what they are surrounded by and immersed in during those young formative years.  For me at my stage in life it is about nurturing my own children and creating a loving and warm environment for them to grow within our hearts and home.  We are just about to start building our forever home out on my parents farm.  I cant tell you how excited we all are to be moving home. The photo’s below are of my dad, Naomi, Ella and Jessie the dog on our site, I cant wait to blog as the build gets underway!

Image Image

I also mentioned last week my passion for Design History, well one of those passions was writing on the subject.   The person I want to tell you about today is Charles Francis Ansley Voysey, he is one of my favourite Arts & Crafts architect/ designers. He is also someone I feel akin to in that we share so many similarities in family life, and passions in professional life.  Today I want to give you a glimpse of him as a person and a designer, and how upbringing can influence on each one of our career’s and home life.

Although an unfamiliar name to many today, C.F.A Voysey, was one of the most influential and independent architects and designers in Great Britain at the turn of the 20th century. His work was less decorative in comparison to his predecessors, simplicity and functionality where of greater importance to him.  His childhood and formative years were steeped in an inherent and long line of family tradition and strong religious beliefs. His upbringing, like mine was the foremost influence in his life and work.

Charles’ father was a Methodist Minister.  A typically Victorian man with strong moral and religious views on life and the up bringing of family. I have to say my Father was very similar, he would have made an excellent victorian lol. I, like Voysey had a Methodist upbringing, and quite a strict one at that.  I was always donned the “mischievous one” but I like to think I was just expressing my creativity and individuality lol.


Voysey’s Dining chair of 1898

This chair was used extensively throughout his interiors, it has a high back, and rush seat. It incorporates the heart motif, which was to become a trademark of Voysey designs.

I want to tell you about the symbolism of the heart motif in Voysey’s work.  The heart symbolises the core of one’s life, or the centre of feelings. All dreams come from the heart and Christianity tells us God conceived the world in his heart before creating it through spoken word. I believe this is how Voysey interpreted his work by first conceiving it in his heart, and then incorporating this into his designs. It is the Christian belief that the spirit and the heart are intertwined, and at the moment of salvation one receives a new heart and spirit, “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you.” Voyseys faith was fundamental to his work and this shows profoundly in the symbolism of the heart. The wood used is oak which was also a consistent material used during Voyseys career. He like myself championed “supporting local” He believed in using local materials and leaving them in a natural state when finished. “Simplicity of thought and perfection of proportion.” This was the rule Voysey fervently adhered to throughout his life.  Voysey was always led when designing, by human emotions and his beliefs gained through his Faith. He considered these of foremost importance during the design process.

We must ever depend more and more on the human faculties of reason, conscience and love. Let us apply these faculties to all that is done in the name of art. Let every man judge furniture from the point of view of reason. Let us ask, is it fit and thoroughly suited to the purpose for which it is intended? Does it express qualities and feelings consistent with its owners and its surroundings? Is it faithful work? And for love’s sake ask, is it proportioned, coloured, and disposed as the natural beauties in creation? Are its lines and masses graceful and pleasing? Do any of its parts quarrel? Does it express sobriety, restraint, and purity? From the emotional point of view there are countless questions to ask.

Comfort, friendship, warmth, welcome and the security of family life, are all human needs, which Voysey embraced in every part of his working life. To achieve this, furniture and interiors were always to be comfortable and reserved. All his efforts and works were directed in particular to this end.  A sense of simplicity was seen as the base on which to build towards these ideals. Simplicity didn’t mean plainness; simplicity meant true richness and honesty to the materials.  


He also enjoyed a little bit of decorative painting (like myself) Im sure he would have just loved Chalk Paint™ by Annie Sloan™  for its incredible versatility and environmental friendliness. The motto in the photo above ‘Head Hand and Heart’ is taken from an inscription used by Charles Voysey, which became the motto for the Society of Designers in 1896. These three words are the keys to understanding Arts and Crafts: ‘Head’ for creativity and imagination, ‘Hand’ for skill and craft, ‘Heart’ for honesty and for love.

I guess the current day term “Less is more” might be Voyseys modern term of phrase if he lived today.  I have to agree, too often we over think our interior decoration or as I term it our “veneer of life” (I will blog that meaning another time).  I believe we should keep things simple, thus creating an uncluttered environment within which we can simply relax and enjoy being in the presence of those we love…

Voysey would be happy today with the current trend in the use of hearts in the home. I placed quite a few orders this week with my suppliers, (including Christmas ALREADY) and hearts are EVERYWHERE!!! We love to include them as decoration in our homes, and we sell lots of them in our shop daily.  Maybe next time you look at your own decorative hearts hanging on the door, or on the kitchen dresser, remember the connection to family, friendship and love. We are all simply trying to create a place of warmth and happiness for those who occupy  our own “Hearts & Home.”

Follow my “Interior Design” board on Pinterest to gain inspiration for simple homely interior ideas.

Thank you for reading again today, see you back here next week…


Jill xo


In the beginning….

Today begins a journey for me, creating my very first blog post, and Im quite excited… Im sitting at the kitchen table on a rather ‘Paris Grey’ Saturday morning here in N.Ireland.  I have just finished a late breakfast of homemade pancakes with my two daughters, its their very favourite breakfast, and apparently I’m ‘The Master’ of pancakes in this house.

I suppose I should begin with a short history of me, and my business Dandelion Lane Interiors.  For me the journey began at a similar age my eldest is now. At 6 years old my daddy had his own Kitchen Manufacturing business. I spent many happy hours in his factory watching him work, and whiling away the hours sweeping up sawdust from the factory floor.  Sometimes after school I would do homework in the design room with Anna, the kitchen designer.  Constantly unaware I was absorbing, like a sponge everything going on around me.  At weekends dad and mum would take us to National trust properties and auction rooms, indulging dads passion for period furniture and Interiors. I remember being totally engrossed as we took house tour, after house tour, listening to the history of each property and those that  lived there in the past.

I recall a specific school trip to Scotland when I was 11. We took the boat, as a day trip and went to visit an old castle. On the tour the guide asked if anyone knew what a fire screen was used for.  My hand went straight up, and to everyones surprise this 11 year old had the explanation to a ‘T’.  “The Victorians used them” I said “to prevent their makeup from melting, they created them to show off their talents for embroidery” I felt kind of proud, and a little bit nerdy all at the same time.  But that is me, someone who from a young age loved and appreciated “old stuff”

I studied industrial design (Furniture/Interior/Product) at the University of Ulster in Belfast, and graduated with 1st class honours in 2006.  I loved every minute of my time at Art College, it was creative, inspiring and everything I imagined college life would be.  I was a mature student, so I suppose I threw myself into it all the more because I was 100% sure of my career choice at that stage.  After leaving University I received 1 of 10 place at The National College of Art & Design Dublin to study for a Masters in Design History and material culture.  I was aiming for a career as a museum curator or curator of a National trust property.  But, I decided to defer my place, and married my lovely husband instead.  I was 30 when I graduated from University, and to be honest the biological clock was ticking lol.  Its a decision I don’t regret, but one I often wonder may have led me.  I may pursue this in the future if the notion so takes me 😉

So…. in December 2006 I married Rodger, and we now have 2 exceptionally beautiful, fun loving little girls. I was a stay at home mummy with Naomi, but by the time Ella came along I was ready to embark into the working world again.

In Dec 2010 I saw Annie Sloan on Kirsties homemade home, a light bulb instantly went on in my head! I had designed a little stool and dad had made it for me.  I though, how wonderful would this Chalk Paint™ be! NO sanding, NO priming, just PAINT!!! Every girls dream, right?!? So I instantly googled where my nearest stockist was, and nothing, nobody in N.Ireland stocked this paint! I quickly went online to Annies website and it was costing more back then to send the paint than it was to buy it! I penned an email to Annie about becoming a stockist, and after no response i phoned a week later.  Annie answered the phone herself and we chatted for a good hour. I found we had quite a bit in common, and I would say we clicked staright away.  She really is a downright lovely lady with a heart to match.  She accepted me as a stockist, and she also asked me to become her distributor for the area.  I was THRILLED and promptly said yes, and well the rest is history!

Time between was spent developing ideas for the shop. In Uni we had been taught the importance of branding and brand identity, so I set to work developing a brand.  I asked Naomi (then 3) what was her favorite flower? She replied “Dandelions mummy, because they are yellow and yellow is a happy colour” I LOVED it.  Later that day I was driving up my dads lane, it was strewn with those little yellow weeds, and it just hit me! Dandelion Lane! The brand was born…

The pioneering moment that brought Chalk Paint™ to N. Ireland had finally arrived!!! The shop opened in August 2011 when Ella was only a baby. Those early days she came to work with me, it was fun having her there.  The shop has developed rapidly over the past few years, and looking back I sometimes cant quite believe the journey so far! The photo below was taken in early September 2011, a few weeks after we opened.


Well, thats it from me today, my blog will comprise of daily ramblings about Dandelion Lane, and also my inspirations within History of design, Chalk Paint™ and interiors.

Thanks for listening, come back soon….

Jill xoxox