Category Archives: Interiors

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?

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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! 

Home Notes for March

Tea and cake

Can you believe we’re half way through March? Neither can I. We’re officially in springtime now and the days are getting longer, lighter and warmer. I’ve got lots going on in my home this month. Not much of it is very photogenic, but it’s all very exciting! 

Project hallway is well under way. The decorator is here right now painting the hall and landing a light blue-grey. You may remember that our hall is dark and narrow. The old paint was a very dingy cream – far too yellow for such a gloomy space. I can’t wait to share the finished results with you.

I’m particularly excited about hanging the pictures back up. We’ve had the same boring arrangement ever since we’ve moved in, and I’m looking forward to shaking things up with lots of colour. I want people to immediately see our family’s personality as soon as they come in the front door. I’ll be rearranging pictures from elsewhere in the house and framing some new things.

One new purchase is this lovely little print by Jeff Josephine. I love the pop of yellow, which will go so well with the new paint.

Jeff Josephine print

I’ve also invested in these amazing bits of wrapping paper from Willow and Stone. They’re poster size and they’re going to look great in big frames.

Cavallini wrapping paper

I’m also on the hunt for a good mirror. I’m quite tempted to create a Trompe L’oiel effect with a window-frame style mirror like this one by OKA. What do you think?

And while we’re on the subject of windows, has anyone else noticed how filthy theirs are? Those lighter, brighter days are making me realise just how dirty everything is. Cleaning the front windows is on my list of things to do this week. I’m not much good at doing all my spring cleaning in one go. I’ll do things pretty slowly, and might get it done by Christmas (if I’m lucky!). It’s the thought that counts, right?

Tulips

And finally, my favourite flowers this month are tulips. They’re such a fun flower and are pretty affordable at the moment. They may not last for as long as other flowers but they evolve in a really interesting way – from prim little buds to big blowsy, droopy blooms. They even manage to look pretty good  when most of the petals have fallen over the table.

What’s happening in your house this month? Are you bust spring cleaning, or decorating?

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Get creative with IKEA picture ledges

IKEA picture ledge

I love arranging things. And re-arranging them. Faffing about with flowers and pretty things makes me happy. I like the idea of an ever-changing seasonal display. A bit like one of those inspiring pegboards, but with a bit more versatility.

On a recent trip to IKEA I decided to invest in a few picture ledges – enough to fill a wall. They’re less bulky than traditional shelves, cost only £4.50 each and look amazing placed one above the other.

IKEA picture ledge

They’re just perfect for little vases of flowers and bits and bobs. My favourite way to use them is to display my most beautiful books face out – you can tell I used to be a bookseller, can’t you?

IKEA picture ledge

I have mine in our study, but they’d also look great in a bedroom, bathroom or kitchen. The possibilities are endless!

Do you have some IKEA picture ledges? How do you use yours?

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Our sitting room: a modern vintage update

Last month I wrote about some changes I was planning for our sitting room. I’m now delighted to be able to show you the results.

What did we want to achieve? Two things. James wanted to set up a better sound system. I wanted to freshen the room up, whilst retaining its cosiness. Over the last month we’ve made some simple but effective changes. Surprisingly , there’s been no paint involved, and relatively little expense or mess.

Here’s what we’ve done…

Ercol sideboard

We’ve moved our TV to the other side of the door – which is a better place to to see it from both sofas. It used to stand on a dark console table. We’ve swapped that for a vintage Ercol sideboard, which was in our study.

Ercol sideboard

It fits the space perfectly and has lots of space inside it for the DVD player, CD player and amplifier. Two new (to us) speakers now sit on top of the sideboard . We’ve invested in a Google Chromecast Audio to allow us to stream music from Spotify through the amplifier and speakers.

We’ve acquired a new Habitat coffee table. My parents invested in this great design a while ago, but weren’t using it anymore. It’s a large, classic table in solid oak and has really changed the way the room looks. Usually we have a vintage blanket box. Interestingly, a bigger coffee table has made the room feel much larger. It’s no longer available, but I’d imagine you might find one on eBay.

Ikea coffee table

The antique table which used to hold TV is now tucked between the two sofas. I was a little worried that the dark wood would clash with the mid-century-style wooden furniture, but  I think the room can take it. This fabulous lamp (£29) is a great buy from IKEA.

Antique console table

Soft sheepskins and a new throw make the sofas feel cosy and welcoming. Layering everything up feels luxurious – essential when the weather feels this grim! The sheepskins are faux and cost £10 each from Ikea.

Cosy sheepskins

The sheepskins are faux and cost £10 each from Ikea.

This gorgeous red blanket is £28 from the National Trust:

National Trust blanket

We also invested in a new, coppery lampshade from IKEA (£25).

IKEA copper lampshade\

The room feels more modern, but hasn’t lost the cosy, vintage feel. Our furniture has moved from the nineteenth century to the twentieth – and the technology has finally reached the twenty-first. The palette still includes my favourite greys and yellows, but now with hints of red and copper. I love it. 

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Project Hallway

Image source: Pinterest

Ah, the hallway. Not really a room is it? More of a busy thoroughfare. Every day we pound through it – scooters, shoes and coats are scattered to the wind. I rarely stop to notice our hallway, except to think good grief these walls are filthy. 

It’s sad to think of your hall this way. It should be a happy gateway into your home. 

Our hall is dark and dingy. There’s no escaping it. It has no natural light of its own. It’s not ideal, but it’s very typical of an old Edwardian house. When we moved into our home five years ago it had been freshly decorated and carpeted. A few years ago we ditched the impractical carpet for hard flooring, but other than that we’ve changed nothing. It’s boring, and it doesn’t reflect our personality at all.

A dark narrow hallway

My hall

The paint is a special shade of dingy cream and is covered with all sorts of finger prints and dirty marks which I don’t care to examine too closely. There’s also still the remains of an exploded bottle of bubble bath down one wall (don’t ask).

What do I want?  I’d like to open my front door and smile rather than sigh. I’d like it to be bright, light and witty. As the hall is very narrow, furniture isn’t an option. So I need to create a happy, bright feeling through just the walls and lighting.

The walls. I’d love to have a bright, cheerful wallpaper in the hall, but it simply isn’t practical with small boys. Instead, I want to choose a good light reflective colour in a strong, endurance paint (which can be scrubbed down and endure the rigours of family life). I’m currently favouring brilliant white – but I’m also open to a soft, pearly blue-grey. I love the purity of white in the hall pictured below and would like to achieve the same effect:

Image source: Pinterest

Lighting. We currently have that classic terraced house staple: the single dim pendant light. The light it gives off is pathetic. Instead, we’d like to switch to LED downlights along the length of the hall. I’m a real convert to LEDs – they cost a bit more, but last so much longer than anything else. Plus, the light quality is infinitely superior to dingy, low-energy lightbulbs. Light Supplier has a great range of different options.

Picture source: Pinterest

Photos and art. This is the fun part. Once I’ve created a light bright canvas, I want to bring my hall to life with colourful photos and art. I have some large prints already framed, but I’m gathering more. The more the merrier.

Image source: Pinterest

When you have a big space to fill on a limited budget try framing sheets of interesting wrapping paper. I love the designs by Cavallini & Co. They’re usually about £3 each and they look way too good to just use as wrapping! I particularly love this shell wrap which is available here.

I’m about to get the decorators booked in. I’m so excited. Do you have a dark hallway too? I’d love your advice before I get started! 

This post was written in collaboration with Light Supplier, but all thoughts and words and my own. 

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Home Notes for January

Home notes for January

January’s always a time for looking at your house afresh.

For me, this mainly seems to involve a lot of tidying. Clutter is the enemy. I rarely defeat it – at best we have an uneasy standoff. But, anyway, I’m slowly working my way the round the house. And while I do it, I’m dreaming of all the things I’d like to change and buy. 

Woollen blankets and sheepskin rugs. Cosy, but intricate – and tiny bit Scandinavian (via Wales or IKEA). I’d like them tossed over my sofas, to see me through the rest of winter in comfort. I’m particularly drawn to blankets with a bit of red in them. I never normally choose red, but I think it’d work really well with the soft greys and blues we have in our living room.

Welsh blankets and sheepskin

Top left: Traditional welsh blanket by Melin Tregwynt, £145

Top right: something more affordable from IKEA, £25.

Bottom left: cobweave blanket, £45.

Bottom right: an affordable faux sheepskin from IKEA, £10

We’ve also decided that it’s time for our living room to move from the twentieth century into the twenty-first. Which basically means new speakers of some kind, preferably not involving too many wires. And probably a well-designed TV stand. Actually, I think that’s probably pretty twentieth century, isn’t it? We’re a bit behind. Currently the TV is on a nineteenth century desk, which I’m very attached to, but isn’t very practical for my Game of Thrones DVD collection. I’m quite keen on this one from IKEA (£160):

Cabin beds. Our boys have far too many toys. Cabin beds seem like a great solution now we’ve moved them into separate bedrooms. The choice, and prices, vary enormously. I think I’ve narrowed it down to this one (£199.99):

 

 

I can’t wait to make some changes, and I’ll share things on here with you soon. In meantime, you’ll probably find me in IKEA.

What are you planning for your home this month?

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Indoor bulbs – a simple way to brighten up your home this week

At the moment it’s muddy everywhere. And grey. So imagine my delight when I spotted a little patch of bulbs growing in someone’s front garden. Snow drop, perhaps? I’m not sure. But what a welcome sight. A bright beacon in the barren January landscape.

I want a bit of that in the house too – which is looking sad now it’s been stripped of its festive finery. Bulbs are cheerful, fresh and bright. Plus, you get the pleasure of watching them grow and flower.

Now, growing your own indoor bulbs is one thing, but buying them is even easier. And pretty cheap too.I found some pots of grape hyacinths for sale outside Wilko’s – six little shoots crammed in a little pot – for £1 each.

You can put the plastic pot as it is straight into a larger planter like this one

Indoor bulbs

Or you can repot them yourself in pretty cups, bowls or pots.

Repotting indoor bulbs

A couple of hours before you start, moisten the soil. Then remove the plastic pot and ease apart the bulbs. Carefully place them into your pots (green shoots above soil level) and surround them with a little of the remaining soil and press down gently. You probably won’t need any extra soil unless you’re planting them in something much bigger than the original plastic pot.

Repotting indoor bulbs

Keep moist and finish off with a little moss (I scraped mine off the garden path!)

Repotting indoor bulbs

Sweet and simple!

You can find all sorts of bulbs in the shops and supermarkets at the moment. My favourites are little narcissi, hyacinths and these grape hyacinths. I used a vintage bowl and a small urn from my shop (which originally held a candle).

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