Welcome to our monthly newsletter, providing you with the latest events and courses, trend forecasts, new sources, and answers to your interior design problems.

We’re pleased to say that more and more publications are asking The House Directory to share some of its knowledge and contacts. It’s another opportunity for us to give an extra plug to our member companies. Our recent ‘Inside Knowledge’ feature for Telegraph Home featured 66 companies. And check out our monthly ‘Wish-List’ in Country & Town House Magazine (www.countryandtownhouse.co.uk). And there’s our weekly Q&A selection for www.guardian-series.co.uk (in the paper and online)...


‘What advice would you give to someone who wants to experiment with patterns for the first time?’
‘Do not worry about things working together. Your taste left to range free will home in on things that work together. If worried, upholster small chairs and cushions and then build out from there.’ Textile designer Neisha Crosland.

Step forward Neisha’s new boldly-coloured ‘Circus’collection of upholstery fabrics. The range shows her moving away from florals and Japanese designs towards geometrics and textures. Tel:020-7584 7988 www.neishacrosland.com

Neisha has also recently produced a range of hand-stencilled English limestone tiles for De Ferranti, whose newly-launched website www.deferranti.com will showcase over 500 unique and luxurious products for floors and walls.

This month don't miss

Exhibitions, sales, fairs, courses and events you should know about.

Byzantium 330-1453, (25 Oct 2008-22 March 2009), Royal Academy of Arts, W1. If your senses are already jaded by a British autumn, why not revive them with this feast for the eyes: over 300 sumptuous and exotic objects, some of which have never been displayed in public before. www.royalacademy.org.uk

Spirit of Christmas (5-9 Nov), Olympia, London W14. This annual Christmas shopping event brings together hundreds of exhibitors. Gifts, decorations, specialist foods and wines galore. Visit www.spiritofchristmasfair.co.uk

The Winter Fine Art & Antiques Fair (10-16 Nov), Olympia Exhibition Halls, Hammersmith Road, London W14. This top quality fair always features eye-catching items. Over 200 fine art and antique dealers exhibit here, with everything carefully vetted for authenticity. www.olympia-antiques.com Ticket hotline:0871-2319022.

Country Living Magazine Christmas Fair (12-16 Nov), Business Design Centre, London N1. Stock up with Christmas gifts, home accessories and festive decorations, food and drink. Over 400 companies have a stand here. Ticket hotline 0844 8480169 or see www.countrylivingfair.com

Fine Cell Work Annual Sale & Exhibition (14-15 Nov), Chelsea Town Hall, London SW3. For 10 years this charity has been teaching prisoners superb needlework skills and selling their work on their behalf. Tapestry, patchwork and appliquéd cushions and quilts will be on sale, along with giant Christmas stockings and tree decorations. Visit www.finecellwork.co.uk for more information or call 020 7931 9998.

RCA Secret (14-22 Nov), Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7. An annual event with around 2,500 original postcard-sized artworks, made and donated by professional artists (including, this year,Yoko Ono, Anish Kapoor and Tracey Emin), plus up-and-coming graduates from the RCA. All the cards are for sale, at £40 each. The ‘Secret’ is the identity of the artist, which you don’t discover until you’ve bought the card, as they are signed on the back. www.rca.ac.uk

The Dining Room Shop’s 23rd Annual Christmas Show (19 Nov-Christmas Eve), 62-64 White Hart Lane, Barnes, London SW13. (Open 11-9 on the 19 Nov, then daily 10-5.30). Great quarry for Christmas gifts, new and antique. 0208 878 1020 www.thediningroomshop.co.uk

Hand Sale (20-23 Nov), 20th Century Theatre, 291 Westbourne Grove, London W11. A twice-yearly sale, with an inspiring mix of stands offering cushions, throws and blankets, utility clothing, vintage Hungarian linens, ceramics, glass, antiques, bone and wood utensils, clothes, jewellery and more…
Open 6-9 on the first day, then 10-8, 10-6, 11-5. For more info call 020-8677 1848/ 07887 680 672 or email: info@handshop.co.uk

National Maintenance Week. (21-28 Nov), Set up by SPAB to encourage homeowners and others to be aware of the simple, economic and achievable maintenance steps they can take to protect their buildings. This year SPAB has put together a ‘Ten Minute Home MOT’ and published a new book (see NEW BOOKS, below) to help you look after your house. Go to www.maintainyourbuilding.org.uk

The Autumn Antiques and Fine Art Fair in association with LAPADA (27-30 Nov), Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire. An annual showcase for dealers in all manner of art and antiques: furniture, paintings, sculpture, glass, silver, porcelain, clocks, jewellery, oriental carpets and objets d’art, from the ancient to the contemporary. www.lapadafair.com 

Hallidays Christmas Exhibition (28-30 Nov), Queen St, Dorchester on Thames, Oxfordshire. Choose from fine antique furniture, paintings, silver, designer jewellery, traditional and contemporary carpets and individual Cornish pottery. Exclusive sale offers on mantelpieces and fireplace accessories plus end-of-roll designer fabrics at greatly reduced prices. For opening times, see www.hallidays.com

Hidden Art Open Studios (29-30 Nov; 6-7 Dec), The first weekend is UK Design Fair, at The Old Truman Brewery, London E1 with 30 designer-makers participating. On the second weekend studios across the East End will be open to the public. Get your free map from www.hiddenartlondon.co.uk

Sources of the month

One of the most inspired new products around this autumn is Hen & Hammock’s Scarecrow Kit. Having been asked so many times how to make one, they’ve put together two recycled coffee bean sacks and all the other materials you need, plus instructions - all for £24. To order one, call 01844 217060 or buy it online at www.henandhammock.co.uk

We’re delighted to have The Royal School of Needlework as new members of The House Directory. They carry out amazing restoration and repair of antique textiles including re-weaving damaged tapestries, lining hangings for display, replacing antique beads, repairing delicate whitework linen and mounting historic samplers. Plus they have a bespoke design service for hand-embroidered commissions. What’s more, they organise courses (from one day to a year) and you can even go on a guided tour of their studio. www.royal-needlework.org.uk

Ask the Experts
Selected from our free Q&A service.

This month it’s fireplace accessories…

Where can I find a simple glass fire-screen?
A. Have a look at Encompass - they supply a classic modern glass fire screen – plus a superb range of contemporary log holders, fire tools sets, and firedogs, including this fearsome pair in black cast iron. www.encompassco.com

Q. Does anyone do fireplace spares? I have an old fireplace which needs a new ash pan.
A. Look up Bygones’ website, www.bygones.net. Under ‘Fireplace Spares’ they have seven pages of ash pans, fireplace bars, grates, dampers and hoods !

New Book

‘Old House Handbook: A Practical Guide to Care and Repair ’
by Roger Hunt and Marianne Suhr in association with SPAB. An essential  new guide on how to look after your old house - be it an early timber framed cottage or an Edwardian terrace. It offers practical guidance on all aspects, from the foundations to the roof. The authors' approach is one of ‘respect, restraint and repair’ rather than ‘restoration'.
Published by Frances Lincoln, £25. To order it at 20% off inc UK p&p, log on to www.franceslincoln.com and enter code OHHD08.