open the packaging!

Hello Wednesday.

Hope everyone is having a good week so far.

It was my birthday this time last week and I have to say I did extremely well on the present front this year and received some gorgeous things (thank you lovely friends and family :)

Amongst some of my thoughtful gifts were some luxury toiletries… Nordic Spa, Neals Yard, Ren skincare, Laura Mercier make for perfect treats and they always ‘look’ so lovely don’t they.

 

 

 

 

However, I don’t know about you but I have a tendency to ‘save’ things when I really LOVE them. You don’t want to start the really nice hand wash so you keep the old one from the supermarket there. Well, not this year! As soon as I opened my presents I opened the packaging too and put them all out – ready to USE! They are gorgeous, they need to be used and out on show!

This ‘bad habit’ of mine also extends to ‘new notebooks’, – (I’m 42 years old and I still LOVE stationery! What is wrong with me.) For my birthday I got some beautiful notebooks, pens etc and I am pleased to say that they are all ‘out of the wrapping’ and wait for it…….I’ve actually written in one of them. It’s progress!

New candles…….make sure you light them. They look much better a bit ‘used’ anyway!

Beautiful new mugs….don’t worry about breaking them, make sure you drink from them every day!

Gorgeous underwear, special clothes…..don’t ‘save it for best’….wear it!

What I’m trying to say basically is ‘enjoy’ gifts, don’t just save things for best. Take them out of their packaging straight away and display them around your home and most importantly – USE them.

 

 

 

 

…moving on….to keep or not to keep?

 

 

We’ve no intention of moving at the moment but that doesn’t stop me having a quick peek at what’s going on in our local area and what new properties are available. Love wasting a few minutes having a look around, putting a ridiculous budget into the search and having a dream….

However, I think we forget how stressful moving can be though and how much there is to go through if you have lived in a home for quite some time. After nearly 42 years in their house, my parents have decided to sell their home. For me, my sister and brother it’s going to feel really strange as this is the only house we’ve ever really lived in and it holds a lot of happy memories for us. I was there last weekend helping my parents sort ’42 years worth’ of stuff. As I opened every box or bag, I was instantly transported back to that time.

A bag of Garfields……..I loved Garfield!

Garfields

Garfields

 

What a good brownie I was!

brownies

brownies

 

My recorders and old books…..quite proud that I can still play a few tunes!

recorder books

recorder books

 

Don’t think I had seen this swimming bag for nearly 30 years but it was used throughout all of my school days and it’s still in one piece!

swimming bag

swimming bag

 

I’ve written about ‘decluttering’ lots of times on my blog and I’ve recently been helping a client do just this over the last few weeks. Last weekend was quite a good test for me though because I realised how much easier it is helping someone else declutter their belongings than it is actually sorting your own!

I’m not a hoarder and like I’ve said before, I do try and live to William Morris’s mantra of ‘have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’ but sometimes there are just ‘bits’ that you don’t really want to throw away but also, don’t know what to do with them.

Sorting these items also takes so much longer than you would expect too as each time you open a box you find yourself daydreaming back to that time and how old you were etc.

So what do we do?

What am I going to do with my brownies badges?

My old swimming bag?

My old 7 inch records? (I don’t even have a record player)

Well, I decided to be practical for some bits. Like my GCSE art folder. Most of this went into recycling. What am I going to do with sheet after sheet of quite average drawings? I decided to keep one as a memory – that will do. The key is not to keep everything. My kids bring home school bits and bobs all the time and we would be swamped with the stuff if I didn’t throw some away. Just keep the odd bit and sadly some of it needs to go.

Displaying album covers

I’ve got a few albums that mean a lot to me so I’m going to frame a some of these for my study and the rest I will keep on the basis that I invest in record player. If I don’t buy one then the rest will go to charity. Otherwise, what is the point. (unless you have some absolute collectables in there and obviously make sure you get a good price for these)

 

Books – there were so many books! I selected a few favourites and will keep for the children and the rest can be enjoyed by others as we give to charity.

Collections – Sometimes people have collections or special bits of memorabilia. These can look quite effective if shown as a display. My daughter loved Sylvanian families for a long time but now she no longer plays with them I’ve put them in a vintage style display case (found from eBay) so that they remain ‘dust’ free but still part of her little world. These images below show how you can make some really interesting displays from great collections.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I mentioned on a post last week about mixing old and new in the home and also personal items. Some of my bits can be placed around the home to add that ‘personal’ touch but they will be limited otherwise it could start to look a bit of a mess. Certain things that you really can’t bear to throw away should just be kept somewhere safe in a little box but not necessarily out on show. I will use the swimming bag to house my recorders so they are kept safely and I get to keep the bag too.

The jury is out on the Garfields….. my daughter has her eye on them and wants them in her room! I will have a go and see if I can make an attractive collection out of them but I think it’s going to be tough!

stick at it !

Hello Friday! Nearly the weekend everyone….woo hoo

It was our wedding anniversary this week and we celebrated with a lovely meal out because, let’s face it, anyone in a couple knows that it’s not always ‘easy’ or ‘fun, fun, fun’ all the time and it does take patience and love to ‘stick at it’ sometimes so being together should be celebrated.

‘Sticking at’ or ‘committing to’ anything these days can be hard and personally, I believe social media in particular can make family life and life in general really hard sometimes.

 

images-2       images-1       images-3

 

In a world that is dominated by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Blogs (ooopps sorry!)…there is just so much exposure all the time. For this reason, I came off Facebook a few years ago but rejoined this year when I set up my business. Social Media is out there and it is here to stay and I don’t think there is any advantage in fighting ‘against’ it as in many ways, especially for small businesses like mine, the benefits can be great. Using this form of marketing I can reach a greater audience and it improves my marketing opportunities. However, I think it’s about being in control of this social media and not getting too carried away by what you see.Our new way of living means we are able to view peoples lives literally the minute it happens, whether that be via a twitter posting or location posting on facebook. It’s crazy.

Look, I am part of this ‘social media’ world and yes, I post photos of my family and my home and what I’m up to. However, what I think we all loose sight of is that we forget most people only post the ‘best bits’, such as celebrating anniversaries, their families achievements, their new kitchen, and it creates a great deal of ‘pressure’ as you can’t help but compare these amazing lives to your own.

I am waffling away here but my point does have a link to interiors! Not only do we have sites such as http://www.houzz.co.uk and unboxed (via http://www.made.com) where people are more than happy to put up snaps of their new extension etc for us all to see but we also have these images of ‘perfection’ each time someone posts to all the various social media. I think these images can sometimes make people feel that what they see if totally unachievable. We need to work hard to remember that these snapshots don’t show the whole picture.

 

my bathroom

my bathroom

 

bathroom mess 2

my bathroom

 

Regular readers of my blog will know that I had a problem with the radiator in my bathroom a few months ago and water flooded through the floor and kitchen ceiling. Well, the water supply has been taken off this radiator and in order to access the pipe we had to smash through my travertine floor tiles which then revealed that actually the ply floor is not thick enough and that also the shower is leaking. Great!

We also had a problem with accessing the taps in the bath and had to smash the side of these tiles out too…so basically the bathroom is not looking that great. We keep saying we are going to sort it out but finances and time has just not allowed at the moment and the months just keep passing.

My point is that I don’t post images like this on my blog or facebook etc even though this is what my bathroom looks like. Everyone is the same.

I am not against social media at all as there are many brilliant elements to this way of communicating. However, when it comes to interiors, I just want to remind you that we shouldn’t all get too carried away by all the images of ‘perfection’.

 

 

I love posting great interior shots on my blog and facebook and I will continue to do so as personally, I could look at these amazing images all day as they give me the motivation to stick at it and try new things in my own house. Just remember though that all these glossy images should be seen as ‘inspiration’ and not pressure to seek perfection.

 

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend :)

 

 

anyone for mustard ?

me and my sis

me and my sis

 

It’s my birthday today so it’s not going to be a long post as I’m off out for lunch !!!!

p.s. I’m the one on the right (sorry Cath…couldn’t resist adding you too! luckily for you brother Matt, I didn’t have an old one of you scanned in so you got away with it!) …I’ve aged a bit since then and sadly not at all blonde anymore!

Theme for today is ‘mustard’. I have just finished a bathroom for a client and it looks beautiful and we were selecting the finishing touches the other day and I suggested these mustard (well they are actually called mimosa) towels as the walls are dark and I thought they would add a nice punch against the dark backdrop.

 

They arrived and are gorgeous and I was most pleased with myself to see in elle dec this month that we are right on trend apparently as it’s all about ‘mustard’ at the moment!

According to Elle Decoration – ‘in equal parts bright, cosy, uplifting and warming, this spicy colour is perfect for an autumnal update’

There seems to be loads of mustard accessories out there for you to choose from. Fancy a mustard smeg fridge or a gorgeous amber light?

 

 

 

(by the way, Orla Kiely has brought out these cute kids flannels and towels…..love these and there’s one in mustard too!)

 

Anyway, with the mustard trend in mind I’ve found a few images with this gorgeous hue to show that it is definitely a colour that works.

 

 

 

 

Mixing old with new

I hope everyone had a good weekend. Funny old weather. Tipping it down one minute then actually quite sunny the next. Suddenly has made me realise how lovely the weather was over the summer months and how we get used to it. When the weather changes it does bring my focus back to the house though, basically because I feel I am inside more and you tend to notice things more.

When people are looking to make their home really work for them I think sometimes they get a little impatient. Its a fact that it doesn’t happen overnight and getting your home ‘just so’ does take time and effort. Just like most things in life, you have to put the work in to get results.

 

my house

my house

 

We all have different tastes and we all live is different styles of homes – contemporary, modern homes and some more traditional, older styles. What makes homes really interesting is if we ‘mix’ it all up a bit and this can take time. Personally I love a bit of an ‘eclectic’ style which I know may not be everyones cup of tea, but I enjoy a range of styles and traditions. For me, having everything ‘matching’ makes me a bit edgy! Often stores will put a ‘range’ together for you and yes, you can select the whole lot but what happens is other people will do this too and one day you will pop over to their house and think, oh, my house looks the same as theirs……where’s the fun in that?

In every room in my house, (bathroom and downstairs WC included!) there is a mix of very modern, with vintage and personal finds.  The above image is a good example with the aluminium glass divide and contemporary stereo, old reclaimed floor and cast iron radiator, ‘vintage’ 2nd hand cow hide and treasured kids poster images! The kitchen too has a mix of old and modern with contemporary chairs and ikea rug, mixed with old wooden and ceramic jugs etc… I’ve managed to recently find some old fireplaces so I’ve cleaned them up a bit and put them into 2 of the bedrooms and this ‘vintage’ vibe has come off a treat in these rooms.

 

my house

my house

 

The ‘eclectic’ look can take time and can be hard to pull off as it can start to look a bit like a crazy 2nd hand / antique stall gone wrong but stick with it. The knack is to blend some period detail (if you’re lucky enough to have some) with contemporary pieces with vintage and perhaps a designer twist if you can. Most importantly, don’t forget the ‘personal’ bits. These are the bits that really make your home ‘unique’. In the top image we put poster from ‘TinTin’ because our kids LOVE these books and they are important to us as a family. There is also a little wooden hook in there with their names on for their school bags. One of the ceramic jugs in the kitchen was from my friend (thank you Hannah) who kindly saw it and thought of me when she was in France on holiday. Everytime I see that in there I think of her. I also have framed kids drawings in the kitchen too which I love. All these finishing touches will make your home feel special to you. By the way, there aren’t any rules on these bits. In my opinion, if you like it and it’s special to you…throw it in the mix!

These images below show how well mixing old and new can look. Have a great Monday.

 

 

 

 

keep the fire burning

Well, the warmer weather definitely seems to have left us now. This week I’ve had to find my coat and boots. I don’t know about you but each year I can’t remember what my winter coat is and then have a rummage around and there it is….Say hello to my favourite warm coat for the next few months, goodbye flip flops. Let’s hope everyones heating is working. Always a slightly scary moment when you try out the boiler for the first time since last year…….

my fire

my fire

 

So how are we all intending to keep warm this winter?

Our kitchen area is open plan and with the glass back doors it can get quite cold so we really wanted to put a fire in this area. I looked into log burners as I love the look of them but it was all getting quite expensive. I decided therefore to opt for an electric one and I’m really pleased with it (so is Maggie as you can see!) I have attached a ‘false’ flue and plonked some ‘real’ logs next to it for effect and to give the illusion of a log burner but it just a plug in electric fire. (with remote control!) It’s really effective too, literally heats this area in seconds of walking in so I’m really happy.

With energy bills rising we are all looking how to reduce our home energy bills. One advantage of having a small fire (real or not real) is that you can maybe get away with putting the heating on for the whole house. We have a real fire in the lounge and in the evening we often will turn the heating right down and just snuggle around this. However, open fires can be quite inefficient with most of the heat given off being lost up the chimney, and the draughts the chimney creates, so it’s no wonder that many people like the idea of investing in a woodburning stove.

Woodburning Stoves

These have become so popular in the last few years not just because they are efficient but because they look so good! Contemporary, traditional, freestanding….so many options and important choices as it’s more often than not, the focal point of a room and can influence the rest of the design.

 

Morso has a beautiful range of wood burning stoves.

 

However, before you rush out and buy a wood burner…… there is a lot to consider

- do you have a readily available supply of firewood? a log store?

- if you don’t then a multi fuel stove could be an option (these give the option of burning solid fuels such as smokeless anthracite as well as wood)

NB: if you live in a built up area you will need to check to see if you’re within a Smoke Control Area and if you are, you’ll only be able to burn DEFRA-approved smokeless fuel such as anthracite (not wood!)

http://www.smokecontrol.defra.gov.uk

How do you want to heat the room?

- radiant stoves radiate heat through the glass and stove body which provides a focal point to curl up to. Often installed within a chimney breast or inglenook

- convection stoves have an outer shell, additional side panel which clads the combustion chamber and as a result the heat is transferred to the air caught within this outer shell and then is distributed around the room. These are often good in open plan spaces as the sides don’t get so hot.

My advice would be to get a survey done by the supplier

- to ensure you get the right model for you

- that the model is the right size to heat the room

- to check ventilation levels

- to check chimneys and flues

- to have them properly installed…

 

As you can imagine, the costs can start to add up when you decide on installing a log burning stove and sometimes they are not a viable option.

I really wanted a ‘real’ log burner but for a mix of the above reasons we decided to opt for an electric one. Yes, of course it’s not a wonderful as the ‘real’ thing but actually after much research, I found a really good looking electric option and there are advantages!

- it’s cheaper to buy

- no installation costs – you install it yourself (unpack it out of the box and plug it in!!)

- it’s very clean…no mess to clear up

- easy to move if necessary

- you can add false flues etc to make it look authentic!

 

I hope you all have a great weekend and keep warm! :)

 

 

 

how to make your garden ‘glow’?

Abigail Ahern's garden

Abigail Ahern’s garden

 

The nights are getting darker aren’t they. I was walking the dog the other day and noticed how I’d been out at the same time the other weekend but it had been much brighter. We can’t complain as the weather recently has been amazing but the inevitable is that our nights are drawing in………

With this in mind I really want my garden to ‘glow’. The weather over the last few months has been fab and I’ve had the large doors open almost all the time so it always makes downstairs living feel more open. As the cold, dark nights loom I hate the thought of having to shut off the garden for the next few months. I’m lucky as we have glass doors across the back of the house so I can still ‘see’ the outside which gives the illusion of space but as it gets darker it slowly disappears from view.

It needs to ‘glow’ so that I can flick a switch and still see it of an evening!

When I went to Abigail Ahern’s house (above) her garden is filled with amazing lighting. She’s even got a pendant hanging over the outdoor table – how cool!

Outdoor lighting always makes me worry that it’s going to be a high budget project which is why I’ve been putting it off. However, I think it’s just getting the actual infrastructure of the electrics out into the garden (i.e. the labour part) that is often pricey. Having now looked at the actual products, I think they may be some reasonably priced items out there.

I like the idea of a mix of lighting too so have been looking at a few things.

How about these LED bulbs which could be pinned along the top of the shed. £29.99 each.

 

 

Cox & Cox sell similar too….

 

 

I need to try and work out how I could create a structure of wire or something from one side to the other and then hang a pendant light as per the first image……..get some quick growing ivy to cover the wire and then job done.

 

 

This one is attractive from John Lewis. £60 and has a copper, weathered type feel which I like.

I really like this one from made.com but I’m not sure if it really is going to last outside? It’s got a ‘rusty’ look already so maybe would survive?

 

 

So I’m thinking a few metres of ‘light bulb’ effect lights, a cool pendant over the table and how about throwing a few of these pea lights into the mix…how cute are these!

 

 

At £9.99 I could also add a couple of these on the table…

 

 

These solar powered LED lights from Tesco would look cute on an outdoor table or little nook somewhere in the garden.

and for when I win the lottery I may have a look at these ones…….

Large outdoor lamps by Home Inatuation

 

 

Outdoor wicker light lamp designed by Philippe Starck for Dedon.

 

 

All I need now is for the electrician to call me back……………..  :)