Adding Character to Your Home


Inject your personality, style and soul into your home and garden, not by sourcing everything from one high street shop. Your home will end up looking like a show home, far too contrived and bland. Whether you’re preferred taste is Retro, Shabby Chic, Vintage, Industrial, contemporary or even a mixture of styles creating an eclectic, individual home. By mixing it up a bit you’re creating a home which reflects you, and enhances your home. Take time to enjoy gathering ‘loved’ items. Homes and gardens evolve over time.

Selection of elecltic Interiors for every room

Eclectic interior ideas

If you’re looking for an unusual or particular item of furniture, lighting or accessories to add personality to your home or garden, the Three Wise Monkeys a vintage and arts emporium at The Saddlery, Woodcock Hill, St Albans AL4 9HJ is the place to visit. Open Tuesday to Saturday 10 am to 4 pm and Sunday 11am to 4 pm. Enjoy a morning coffee, a light lunch or afternoon tea in the newly opened vintage tea room and have a wander around two floors, packed with unusual items. Some will revoke memories of childhood ( scary, as some of us realize that we, too are vintage!), and some made by local artisans and crafts people, and a florist too, Flowers by Catherine.


A few pieces of furniture have been ‘upcycled’ into bespoke one-off  items, which could transform a room. Images show pieces by Carmel of Piece Unique and by me Sarah Maidment Interiors. We both take commissions  if you have your own item of furniture which you’d like customising.


You will also find Kelim rugs, cushions, and  stools and chairs upholstered in gorgeous Kelim rugs from Rug Addiction . Other chairs re-upholstered, homemade cushions and artwork to grace your walls.

Kelim rugs, cushions and upholstered furniture

An array of Kelim rugs, cushions and upholstered furniture by Rug Addiction

If vintage clothing is your passion, Little Viking have an array of dresses, jackets, shoes and bags for all. ‘Oh Sew Vintage’ for handmade dresses for all occasions.


You will also find every conceivable Doc Martin design boot you could ever wish for.

Selection of Doc Martin Boots, vintage heaters and lamp

Doc Martin boots, vintage heaters and lighting

Vintage books, comics, and  postcards can be found for collectors and unusual hand-made jewellery by local artisans.


Modern works of art and photography adorn the walls. This stunning picture of Nelson Mandela (below) taken by the photographer Greg Bartley would look amazing gracing the wall of a large room.


Limited edition framed photograph of Nelson Mandela by Greg Bartley

Visually stunning photograph of Nelson Mandela by Greg Bartley

IMG_6804Come and say ‘hello’ and meet Colin the resident ‘horse’ .

Fake horse called Colin

Colin, a reminder of the barns former life as a saddlery and stables

Secret Garden


Sanuk Shop Front

Sanuk Shop Front

Sanuk (pronounced sanook) means in Thai language, to achieve satisfaction, pleasure and enjoyment from whatever you do. Apparently it is a mindset and rule for the Thai people in whatever they do it has to be ‘Sanuk’. Sanuk is where, on a glorious hot and sunny midsummer afternoon I sat in a delightful garden and ‘took tea’ as they say. (whoever ‘they’ might be) with two girlfriends.

We sat beneath an old grapevine in the shade on old rustic wooden furniture. The table was covered in oil cloth patterned with flowers. We were served individual pots of tea for our varying tastes, Earl Grey, Rooibos and English Breakfast. The bone china cups and saucers were a mismatch of vintage designs. We had chosen our homemade cakes of gluten free carrot and chocolate. As we sat and chatted over our tea and cakes we could feel ourselves relaxing. A sense of calm if you like.

After tea we wondered along the rows of many unusual plants for sale in the nursery garden called ‘Little Heath Nursery’.  One friend chose a delicate white alpine that she wanted to plant in a tea cup with a saucer. My friend explained that she had been invited to a 25th wedding anniversary party and the theme was silver and white. The cup and saucer she had purchased was white with silver 25th Anniversary on the side. I think this is a lovely present, as so much thought had gone into it.


At the end of each row of plants were old wooden tables each with a group display of different coloured plants. Some  being flowers and some with interesting foliage. Grouped together were reds, blues, white and purples, cleverly put together for colour and texture. Mood boards for your garden. It was inspirational and looked amazing.


On one side of the garden is a long wooden barn. One visitor described the barn as reminding her of ‘The Gingerbread House’ tucked in the woods. At one end of the barn there is a room for teas, coffee, cake and light lunches. This room is furnished with an eclectic mix of tables and chairs covered in patterned ‘oil cloths’ and on a table to one side sits the various cakes under glass domes. There are Indian textiles decorating the walls they have the aroma of a souk for some reason.

The centre of the barn houses a shop filled with Indian, Thai furniture and accessories. There are antiqued cupboards in turquoise, carved wooden wall decorations and an Indian four poster bed complete with a heavily embroidered bedspread and cushions. A good place to hunt for unusual items for your home. At the other end of the barn there is another small shop called Deja Vu which sells Antique and vintage lighting ( pendants and lamps)  and mirrors of various sizes. ( This shop only opens on Friday, Saturday and Sunday).  Definitely worth a look.

A separate barn sells a few salvaged and restored fireplaces and bags of logs. The whole place is void of commercialism, that is obviously a business and livelihood for the owners.

Sanuk is quiet and tranquil.  It is open all year round, however it is especially lovely during the warmer months to enjoy the garden. Sanuk is hidden behind trees in a small lane in a village called Potten End just outside Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire. ‘Sanuk’ was an easy mindset to achieve whilst there. I only hope I can achieve the same when carrying out more arduous tasks on a day to day basis.

A delightful garden and barns  -Sanuk

A delightful garden and barns -Sanuk

Full of Eastern Promise

The three kings came from the east bearing gifts, so it is written. Exactly where in the east I’m unsure, however, since man began travelling and trading with eastern countries, it has had a huge influence on western interior decor.  The beautiful colour’s and designs of Persian and Turkish carpets the merchants shipped to our shores, were especially popular during the Victorian period, and have stood the test of time as a classic addition to many interiors today.If you own such a rug, it is a great starting point when choosing colour’s for the rest of the room. Ornately decorated ceramics and furniture from China and Japan, carved wood furniture from India and Thailand (Siam) were all eagerly purchased for homes too.

As transport has improved and opened up the world to everyone, people have been inspired by artifacts, furnishings and furniture discovered on their travels to add to their home creating an eclectic mix. Be it a carved wooden coffee table, African masks displayed on a wall or Kelim upholstered chairs. The prices in Antique pieces has soured since the western demand grew. People’s interpretations and uses for old Arabic doors displayed in interiors,  carved Indian wooden screens used as bedheads, window shutters or bath panels. Of course silks or Antique rugs are hung on walls instead of being laid on a floor. Beautifully woven silks, intricately embroidered used for bedcovers and curtains, or samples framed into pictures. The softest cashmere wool woven into snugly throws. The time and skills involved producing these wonderful artifacts are items to treasure forever. I was very fortunate to spend a night at the Dwarika’s Hotel in Kathmandu, Nepal  The hotel has been made from reclaimed traditional Newari houses using thirteenth century carved timber window and door frames, which conservationist Dwarika Das Shresta saved from being destroyed in the 1950’s.

The Aladdin’s cave of  Souks are an inspirational feast for the eyes, if you dare to look at anything that catches them, for fear of being pounced upon and pressed to buy at the ‘very best price’ offered by the eager stall holder in some countries. I’m constantly being reminded about flight weight restrictions by my husband, especially when buying Christmas presents. How delighted family and friends are to see you bearing gifts from the east, to  receive ‘Singing Bowls’           for it’s intended use or display, or cashmere scarfs you have seen woven in a mountain village, all of which have stories behind them.