Category Archives: Interiors

A Very British Hygge

What to look for in winter ladybird book

Hygge is the Danish concept of cosiness. It’s that feeling you get when you find warmth and shelter on a cold day. It’s about closing the curtains on a dreary evening, lighting your candles and burrowing into your favourite blanket. Or spending the afternoon curled by the fire with a new book.

Technically, you’re supposed to pronounce it ‘hue-guh’ – although I’m sure I’m not alone in stubbornly referring to it as ‘higgy’ in the comfort of my own head.

The wind in the willows

The concept of hygge has taken Britain by storm – but I have to confess that I’ve always felt a bit annoyed by it.  Since when do we need lessons from the Danes in how to be cosy? Surely the whole idea of an Englishman and his castle is the very epitome of hygge?

Yes and no

Retreating to your castle and pulling up the drawbridge behind you isn’t exactly a cheerful thought it is? Just look at Brexit. The Danes are the happiest nation on earth. The British are not. Hygge is a big part of that.

Hygge isn’t just about battening down the hatches against the storm, it’s about relishing the warmth and vitality to be found in our hearts – whatever the weather.

A Very British Hygge by Simon Sinclair

Which is where A Very British Hygge by Simon Sinclair fits in. It’s a little book published by Everest, full of clever little reminders that it’s easier than you think to be more hygge…

De-clutter. Let your home tell your story by giving it a chance to breathe. Ask yourself if that dusty pile of magazines or pile of odd socks brings you joy. If the answer’s no, then get rid of them. Your home will feel lighter, and so will you.

…but remember to be kind to yourself. The concept of hygge isn’t about creating a scandi-inspired show home.  Perfection doesn’t guarantee happiness. Accept your home’s limitations – and your own too while you’re at it. Hygge is all about making the best of things.

Make your home comfortable and warm. This isn’t just about cushions and fairy lights, it’s about looking after the practical things. Double-glazed windows, decently fitted doors and insulation – they’re the building blocks you need to create a cosy home.

Be sociable. Don’t shut yourself away just because the weather’s lousy. Our homes come to life when we invite others in. Have friends round for a simple supper, or gather all the family in the sitting room to play a board-game.

Plum & Ashby candle

Make the most of light. When we think about embracing hygge we tend to think imagine candles and lamp light – the epitome of cosiness. But don’t forget to make the most of the natural light you do have. Adding a conservatory or a skylight to your home is a great way to enjoy the sun all year round. Or try putting your favourite armchair next to a bright window. Find the time to sit down there with a cup of tea as often as you can.

How do you get a sense of hygge in your home? I’d love to know. For more information on all things Hygge and to download a free copy of Simon’s book click here. 

This post was a paid commission by Everest.

Home Notes for January

Home notes in January

January is a classic time for re-think your home. Maybe someone bought you a trendy book on de-cluttering for Christmas. Or perhaps clearing away the Christmas decorations has inspired a new-found minimalism. Whatever the reason, a new year is a great time to clear up, clear out and find bold new inspiration.

I’m starting with de-cluttering. We’ve donated bag and bags of things to charity, and I’m not missing all the things I packed away to make room for the Christmas decorations. I’m going to think long and hard about how many of my supposedly precious possessions I really need to keep.

White hyacinths

I’m filling my tidier rooms with fresh blooms and indoor bulbs. White hyacinths are my favourites – although I can’t stand their cloying scent. I can live with the smell though, as I love the classic purity of them. Try removing them from the soil and putting in jam jars around your home. They just need a little water for their roots.

White hyacinths

Tulips seem to be around really early this year. And I’m happy to snap up armfuls of these pastel-coloured beauties. They’ve got to be one of the most cheerful blooms on the planet.

Yellow tulips

I’m also on the look out for new houseplants to add to my collection. Creating an indoor jungle is still very much a thing in 2018, and is part of the larger trend for maximalism.

Image: IKEA

Maximalism? Weren’t we just talking about minimalism? Well, yes, but 2018 is also the going to be another year for big, bold designs – think clashing wallpapers, palm-print chairs and dark indigo walls. To embrace this style, I think you need to first take a minimalist approach and thin out your possessions. That way, you can embrace statement designs without your home feeling like a chaotic mis-match.

What’s caught my eye?

I’d love some armchairs in bold colours and interesting designs. I don’t have any space in my current house, but if I lived somewhere bigger I’d create a reading are with bookshelves and a couple of quirky armchairs. These two from IKEA very much fit the bill.

IKEA armchairs

Yellow chair, £179, IKEA / Rocking chair, £150, IKEA

Antique shops are also a great place to find interesting designs. A great thing to look for are chests and blanket boxes. I’m always staggered by how expensive new versions of these cost on the high street. Buy a vintage one and you’ll get something that’s solid and full of character. I stumbled across this chest recently for £100 in a local antiques centre and I was very tempted.

Antique chest

What are you planning for your home this year?

5 reasons you should keep your fairy lights up all winter

5 Reasons you should keep your fairy lights up all winter

Christmas has come to an end. But we don’t have to banish al the glitter and light from our homes just when we need it most. Here’s 5 reasons why it’s absolutely ok to keep your fairy lights up all winter. 

It’s natural to crave light. Why deny yourself this simple pleasure? There’s a sense of joy and hopefulness in a string of fairy lights, whatever the time of year.

Dull corner of your home? Fill it with fairy lights. Or more specifically, jam jars and vases full of battery-powered lights. These cheery pools of light will warm up even the dreariest room.

Create a little ritual. Christmas is full of these – coming home and switching on your tree lights is such a soothing thing. You might not have your tree anymore, but you can still continue this ritual in January. Get home, and switch on your strings of fairy lights straight away – it’s balm for the soul on dark winter days.

Twinkly white lights perfectly compliment the freshness of green shoots, indoor bulbs and fresh new flowers. Arrange fairy lights behind a vase of flowers to make it glow.

And finally, because it’s the perfect way to start the year as you mean to go on. Don’t be apologetic or try to please others. Put two fingers up at Winter. If you want to keep up your fairy lights until Spring, then do it.

5 Reasons you should keep your fairy lights up all winter

Home Notes for November

Home Notes for November

The nights are dark and the heating’s on – it’s time to hibernate. Hygge, cosy – call it what you like. November calls for comfort and warmth. 

I’m slowly adding lots of comforting touches to my home. Candles are hugely important and lighting them in the evening is a nice little ritual. This woodland animal candle by Sainsbury’s is very pretty.

Sainsbury's woodland animal candle

I’ve also stocked up on this set of three robin candles which have a light, festive scent. Once they’re burnt out, I’ll use them for tea lights. You can split the set up and use for secret Santa or teacher presents come Christmas.

Robin candles by Sainsbury's

Once upon a time, I only bought plain white bed linen. Then I discovered the inexpensive designs by George Home. They’re an affordable way to give your bedroom a seasonal update – and, considering the price, they feel surprisingly good. This year, I’ve chosen this Scandi-inspired wintry set.

Scandi inspired winter bedding by George Home

I love choosing seasonal flowers. This month I’m buying a lot of eucalyptus. Its subtle colour and elegant leaves not only look beautiful, they also smell amazing. Arrange a big bunch in a jar…

Big bunch of Eucalyptus

Or mix in with other flowers for smaller displays…

Carnations and eucalyptus

What else am I loving this month? Dunelm currently has some beautiful – but affordable – homewares. Here are my favourites…

Dunelm A/W17

Hare bedding, £25-£33 / Oak Leaf cushion, £18 / Set of four woodland plates, £10 / Gorse cushion, £14

What does your home look like in November?

Home Etc

Home Notes for September

Home Notes for September

A change in the seasons always makes me want to spruce up my house. I like to add little seasonal touches, but also to shift things around and continue my never-ending mission to declutter our lives. September is such an inspiring time and I’ve been focusing on creating a nurturing sense of warmth and comfort – plus, creating inspiring new work spaces for the whole family.

Home Notes for September

We’ve bought the boys new desks for their bedrooms, which means that our old crafting table has now become our kitchen table. The space the craft table occupied by the window has become a cosy seating area.

Home Notes for September

I’ve been dreaming of beautiful scandi-style chairs for a while, and, in a moment of inspiration, I remembered the Poang chair I’d banished to the loft about five years ago. I’m glad I kept it as it fills the space perfectly, and I’d forgotten just how comfortable it was. It used be the nursing chair when the boys were babies, and it’s a bit grubby, so I’ve added a new sheepskin and throws to pretty it up.

Home Notes for September

We’ve also added a small footstool by Maison du Monde (love their stuff!) which at £35.99 was a fantastically affordable way to get the scandi-look I wanted, on a budget. A new IKEA floor lamp and a side table from Aldi complete the look. It is now everyone’s favourite corner of the house and I’m constantly competing with cats and small boys as to who gets the honour of sitting there.

Pearson's of Chesterfield pots

Another favourite find this month is a trio of retro stoneware pots by Pearson’s of Chesterfield. I guess they’re from the seventies and I love the designs on them. They’re perfect for a baby spider plant or a bunch of autumn blooms. I picked mine up for £1 each from a charity stall, but there are lots on eBay too.

What else have I spotted lately?

I really love the new cosy cushion collection at White Stuff. This is my favourite.

Plum cushion by White Stuff

I have also just discovered the wonderful work of Brie Harrison. This dahlia print is particularly lovely.

Have you made any changes to your house this month? Or a favourite find? I’d love to hear about it! 

 

Home Notes for July

Garden flowers

Regular readers will know that I don’t live in a show home. Far from it. Our period terrace is rough round the edges – it has pretty corners, but it also has very grubby corners. I struggle to take photos of it in its entirety. Because of that, I’m not always the best interiors blogger. However, I do love my home and every month I like to share what we’ve been up to and what’s on my interiors radar. It’s my little bit of imperfect perfection.

Home Notes for July: the bloggers desk

This month I’ve been enjoying curating the space I work in. My clever husband read last month’s Home Notes post and bought me this Jacqueline Colley screen print for my birthday. It now sits above my desk and I love looking up at it while I work.

Home notes for July: Jacqueline Colley screen print

We’re also gradually filling our newly painted hall with new pictures. Another clever birthday present from my husband, is this framed vintage tea-towel. We’ve had it for years and have always talked about having it framed. Finally, it’s up!

Fresh Milk's Gotta Lotta Bottle tea towel

Another favourite this month is this beautifully scented candle by Arum London. I really love candles on summer evenings – lighting them feels very therapeutic. The luxurious combination of jasmine and mint is perfect for summer – even when it’s not lit it fills the room with its gorgeous scent.

Arum London Jasmine and Mint candle

My garden is blooming (as are the weeds) and there’s an abundance of lovely flowers to bring in the house. Picking them and arranging them is one of life’s simple pleasures. I love this little banner from Weald Store, which sits beautifully alongside my posies.

Home Notes for July: garden flowers

So, what am I longing for? Top of the list is a freshly painted bedroom. I’m also edging closer to buying some much-needed kitchen chairs to replace our old ones (which are permanently sticky and stained after the toddler years). These Habitat chairs are my currently at the top of my list.

Habitat dining chairs

Disclosure: Arum London kindly sent me a complimentary candle of my choice. 

 

 

Home Notes for June

June mantelpiece

Every summer I fall in love with my home all over again. 

As the days get warmer it takes on a new lease of life. A fresh personality. Every time I throw open a door or window a bit of magic happens. It’s like the house is stretching out its limbs and letting out a big breath it’s been holding for months.

David Austin rose, the Albrighton Rambler

I’m spending more and more time outdoors and the garden feels like an extension of the house. We worked hard last year – planting roses and putting up a new shed. This year the hard work is paying dividends. The rambling roses are well and truly rambling and make me smile each time I pass. As do my cats, who are certainly adding a whole new element to the garden this year.

Cat on a fence post

I’ve planted a section of summer plants, including cosmos, sweet peas, nigella and dahlias – which are starting to bloom alongside my established plants.

My garden in June

I can’t wait to see how everything changes and develops over the summer.

My garden in June

Indoors, we’re enjoying our newly painted hall and landing – and we’re very slowly hanging our pictures back up. It’s taking ages because we’re having new things framed, old things re-framed and generally re-jigging things. Which takes forever, but is very satisfying.

Re-framing pictures

Remember those bits of wrapping paper I mentioned a couple of months ago? I ordered them, and they’re framed and ready to go. They work brilliantly in the frames from IKEA and totally prove that interesting pictures don’t have to cost the earth.

Framed wrapping paper

A word of warning though. The IKEA frames are very flimsy. They’re fine with a £3 piece of wrapping paper, but I wouldn’t trust them with anything really special. We’re sending those things off to be framed by a local professional – which is actually less expensive than you’d think. Especially when you consider the quality of bespoke frames. For us, we’re usually talking about £30-£50 per picture.

Lighter, brighter days are also inspiring me to re-arrange things that have sat still for far too long. Last week I cleared all the clutter from the mantel piece in our study, and replaced it with a simple, seasonal display. The result is refreshing, which is what I need in the room where I sit and write.

Peonies in a marmalade jar

What’s been on my interiors radar this month?

First up, this beautiful screen print by Jacqueline Coley. I’ve been admiring it for a while and I’d like it very much!

Image by Jacqueline Coley

I have also fallen in love with this fluffy chair from Maison du Monde. There’s a matching bench too.

Image by Mason du Monde

What are your home notes this month?

Home Etc

How to be a hothouse flower: your guide to the tropical trend

Tropical trend by H&M

Image c/o H&M

The tropical trend is huge right now.  Look carefully and you’ll see it everywhere – on cushions, prints and even trousers!

Worried it’s all a bit naff? Think again. The time around the tropical trend is very grown up. It’s all leafy palms, rich greens, hot house flowers and luxurious gold accessories.

More of a wallflower than a hot house flower? Here’s my easy guide to all things tropical. 

The great thing about new trends is that you don’t have to completely immerse yourself in them (unless you want to). You might not want your living room to look like a rainforest, but how about giving it a subtle update with bright botanical prints? Choose a few inexpensive, key pieces and you can instantly update the feel of your home.

Let’s begin in the living room. Textiles, especially cushions, are a great place to start. H&M Home have a fabulous range of tropical cushion covers at the moment. I don’t think you need to look anywhere else! To keep things feeling relaxed, mix your bright cushions with neutral throws and simple jute rugs and baskets.

Tropical cushion covers

Clockwise, from top left: Tropical leaf, £8.99 / Banana print, £8.99 / Monkey, £8.99 / Green leaf, £3.99 – all by H&M

Once you’ve got a few cushions, add a touch of (affordable) luxury with gold accessories and even a cheeky parrot or two. One new piece on its own will look a bit lost. Choose a few objects to create a fresh story within your room.

Tropical accessories

Ceramic parrot jar, £29.99, Rockett St George / Wine rack, £45, Oliver Bonas / Pineapple candle in a jar, £4.99, H&M / Photo holders, £7.50, Oliver Bonas

The next step is houseplants – preferably several! Try creating a little jungle in one corner of the room using beautiful palms in pots and baskets. Or, if you want something faux, there’s a great selection of everlasting plants out there. But remember, something real will always make your room look and feel better. Real plants actually filter the air, and most don’t need too much care beyond the occasional water – promise! I never need much of an excuse to add another to my collection.

Faux plant, £7.99, New Look / Large gold planter, £17.99, H&M / Large silver planter, £17.99, H&M / Faux pineapple leaf plant, £5.99, New Look

The bedroom is also a wonderful place to embrace the tropical trend. Try bright bed linen, which is an inexpensive way to transport your room (temporarily) to the tropics. Again, keep things grounded with natural baskets and rugs.

Tropical Bedroom

Duvet cover, £19.99, H&M / Sea grass Basket, £19, Oliver Bonas / Candle holder, £12.99, H&M / Jute rug, £34.99, H&M

What do you think of the tropical trend? Love it loathe it? 

The Eames plastic chair: exploring a design classic with Lionshome

Eames chairs by Vitra

Image source: https://www.vitra.com/

The Eames plastic chair is a design classic. It’s been in production since 1950 and looks just as fresh and exciting now as it did back then. 

According to its designer, Charles Eames: “Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose”.

He certainly achieved that with his classic plastic chair, which effortlessly combines practicality and style. The plastic seat is designed to mould itself to your shape, yet the elegant little legs keep it looking light and graceful.

Image source: https://www.vitra.com/

In recent years I’ve fallen in love with the mid-century look. It still feels fresh and exciting, yet it’s simple enough to sit well alongside designs from other periods. In my house I combine an original Ercol sideboard and a mid-century inspired sofa with bits of simple furniture from the nineteenth century and even IKEA. It’s a mix that works.

But I’m yet to own an Eames plastic chair. 

Like all design classics, the Eames chair, has inspired lots of imitations. Imitation is the best form of flattery – especially if it means that those of us with smaller budgets also get to enjoy a little bit of design history in our homes.

Where do you start to find one? With so many Eames-inspired plastic chairs out there it’s hard to know where to start looking. Which is where a site like Lionshome is incredibly helpful. Type ‘Eames chair’ into their search and they’ll instantly curate a collection for you to choose from. So much easier than trawling though lots of magazines and web searches.

When I typed in Eames plastic chairs, the first thing I found were the real things. The original design by Charles Eames, manufactured by Vitra, who’ve been making them since the fifties. They’re still being made to the same design. It’s been tweaked a little – the original fibre-glass reinforced polyester resin has been replaced with modern polypropylene – but it’s still essentially the same.

It can be yours, admittedly for quite a hefty price tag of between £300-400. For one chair.

Luckily, there are a lot of Eames-inspired alternatives out there for less than £100. The Lionshome site gathers them together so you can choose between the classic original and the cheaper versions, like this one (£57.50):

Eames-inspired chair

Or you could try one with metal legs (£57.50):

Eames inspired chair

Do you love Eames-inspired chairs? Would you choose the original (and probably best) or something more affordable?

This post was written in collaboration with Lionshome Home and Living. All words and ideas are my own. 

 

Decorating your home for Easter

Easter styling for your home

Easter is such a lovely time of year. I’m hopping with excitement like a little bunny.

Whatever your beliefs, we can all join in the celebration of new beginnings. Fill your house with the sights and scents of spring – anything from some flowering bulbs, or a pretty egg-tree. Then gather some friends and family and share delicious food and a bit of light-hearted fun. No one is ever too old to enjoy an egg hunt, are they?

Here are three easy ways to decorate your home this Easter

Bulbs in jar

Buy some potted bulbs. Take them out of their pots, divide and carefully wash the long roots to remove all the soil. This is great activity for little hands, who’ll find the long roots really fascinating.

bulb roots

Place in a jam jar or a vase with a little water. Don’t submerge the bulb, you just need a little bit of water for the roots. The bulbs have everything they need inside them and will continue to flower!

Easter styling for your home

Pretty posies in unusual pots

Make your spring flowers really shine by arranging them in interesting old china – like a pretty teacup or an old mug. An easy trick to achieve a really pretty, balanced arrangement is to create a grid with tape. I used washi tape as it’s more gentle on old china.

Easter styling for your home

It makes it much easier to create an even display that won’t fall over!

Easter styling for your home

An Egg tree

It’s an Easter classic that everyone should have a go at. Gather some twigs, ideally with green shoots or blossom on them. Casually arrange in a pot or vase and hang little decorations on the ‘branches’. Pussy willow also works brilliantly. Mine usually look a bit lopsided, but it wouldn’t be the same without one!

Easter styling for your home

Easter styling for your home

What are your favourite ways to decorate your home at Easter? I’d love to hear them in the comments!