Self-proclaimed interiors obsessive and mother of three - with impressive fashion credentials to match - Paula Sutton, opens the doors of her Norfolk country home; a place where cottagecore and traditional English design reign supreme. We caught up with her on everything from antique fair finds and chintzy inspiration, to her flowers of choice when adorning her village abode. Join us as we delve into Paula's dinner table delights ahead of the release of her first book; Hill House Living: The Art of Creating a Joyful Life.
Dress up or dress down?
Dressing up always! I learnt a long time ago that having fun with clothes and dressing up makes me feel happy and life is too short to save anything for just one special event. Dressing up makes even the most humble dinner a special one!
Cocktail hour means?
G&T time if i'm at home, and a fresh zesty Margarita if i'm outside and somewhere hot.
On my playlist?
Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and a bit of Dinah Washington.
My dinner table is never without?
Fresh flowers in a variety of vintage jugs and vessels - they complete every table, and add personality, drama or romance.
“Dressing up makes even the most humble dinner a special one!”
Favourite dinner party flowers?
I absolutely adore the giant pompom like beauty of hydrangeas. They suit every occasion - pure white if you want to keep it chic and simple, and pastel for something summery, outdoors and pretty. If you prefer your table to be more dramatic or romantic, then I love them in a deep velvety red or a vivid plum colour, both of these hues look wonderful against candlelight with gold coloured cutlery and accessories.
What’s for dinner?
Monkfish with lemon and butter parsley, potatoes Dauphinoise and creamed spinach or some other veg fro the kitchen garden. The more cream and butter the better as far as I'm concerned.
Home-cooked or catered?
Home cooked for ten people or less, caterers in if it's something far bigger. Although sometimes going simple and making a pasta dish or lasagne with a selection of salads can stretch to feed loads if I want to keep it fun and casual, and you can never go wrong with a barbeque for a larger crowd!
Best kept party secret?
I cook the same supper recipes over and over. They're tried and tested and I can make them on automatic, meaning that I have time to chat and relax with guests without panicking in the kitchen. After all - they're there to see YOU - not to critique the variety of your cooking! (Hopefully!)
Greatest recipe ever copied off a restaurant menu?
A stilton and mushroom soup with whole mushrooms and port that I once had at a restaurant in Henley when I was in my twenties. I've spent the past two decades trying to recreate how delicious it was.
"I absolutely adore the giant pompom like beauty of hydrangeas"
Dream dinner guests?
This changes all of the time, but I'd love a chat with Jane Austen, Josephine Baker and Audrey Hepburn!
What’s for pudding?
Early on - Truth, after a few drinks most certainly Dare!
What’s for pudding?
I love traditional nursery puddings - the spongier and stodgier the better. Spotted Dick with cream is a particular favourite!
Herbal tea or nightcap after dinner?
Definitely a nightcap. My father always had a Drambuie after a meal - and it's combination of Scotch Whisky, heather honey, spices and herbs always signals a warm end to an evening - especially in Winter with a roaring fire to nod off to!
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