New projects 

It’s been a ridiculous amount of time since I last blogged. Life has been very hectic with a toddler, a return to work and a number of house projects underway! 

We’ve started putting the wheels in motion to extend our house. When we bought it this was always the plan and now feels like the right time to do it. We’re in process of getting plans drawn up so it’s very early days, but it’s very exciting as we’ll likely change the layout of the house downstairs a fair bit plus gain extra rooms upstairs. Lots of blog posts to come on that I suspect.

In the meantime we’ve been working on our spare bedroom. We thought this one day may become the bathroom so didn’t plan to do anything as yet but after discussions with our architect we now know it will definitely be a bedroom. So we’ve started doing it up for little B. We had to rip out some old cupboards which used to have the hot water system in, a lot of mess but it’s really opened up the room. I’m starting with a blank canvas, we’ve so far painted the walls and ceiling in Farrow & Ball’s Wevet. But I have a plan in my head for a mural wall and lots of other little features to make it a fun space for him that will hopefully work for a few years as he grows 

Bathroom planning

Excitement has reached fever pitch in our house now as we’ve a date for when work will start on our (currently beyond hideous) bathroom. Work is starting at the end of the month so in the meantime I’m desperately searching for a bathroom cabinet that’s not just a boring mirrored one –  I want something a little different but I’m not having much luck sourcing it. I think I’m set on my colour scheme – I want something in a deep colour that says luxurious and relaxing,  I love Farrow & Ball’s Stifkey Blue and have wanted to use it somewhere for a while and I think the bathroom will be perfect. Next up will be finding some lovely new towels and accessories, the fun part!

My top tips for planning a lounge

Now I’m sure they are just being nice but my friends often say how relaxing our lounge is. It’s a lovely compliment as we did put a lot of work into it. We wanted an elegant, yet cosy living space and that’s quite a tough balance to pull off. I’m by no means an expert but I’m often asked for advice on colours or furnishings and how we planned our room so this got me thinking recently about my five top tips I could share for designing a new living space…

1. Live in it first.

There’s always that temptation when you first move into a new home to make changes or go crazy with the paint brush but I really think it’s important to just live with it as it is for a while, especially for a lounge or main living space. See how the house flows, how you want to use the space and also how the light can change in a room throughout the day. If you’re just redecorating a room in a house you’ve lived in for a while you’ll already know all this – and that’s possibly why you’re wanting to redecorate.

2. Focal point.

You might have a feature that’s already part of the space that will be key to your new room scheme. For us this was our fireplace, which was why we choose to have cupboards and shelving designed and built to work alongside it. It’s worth sitting down and thinking about how you want the room to work around a focal point that already exists. If you don’t have something, or perhaps have a more contemporary home – think about what you want the eye to be drawn to when you walk in. I’ve a bit of a pet hate about TV’s being the focal point of the room, but that’s just a personal preference. I’d much rather have a sociable living room which will work for a number of uses.

3. Furniture

Very obvious I know, but always think about what furniture you want to incorporate. For a lounge – seating will clearly be key, have you got enough of it? If you don’t have a lot of room, think about soft furnishings (big cushions you can pull out for extra seats when there are extra bums) or furniture that has a dual purpose. We bought a gorgeous Laura Ashley footstool, which we can also use as a coffee table (with a tray on) or for extra seating when there are lots of us. Think about your storage options too – do you want to hide stuff away for a more minimalist look or display your finds for all to see (you all know I go with the latter!).

4. Colours

It’s tempting to reach straight for the paint charts – but I think if you spend a bit of time thinking through the design of the room first it pays off. Colour is very much down to personal choice – and your choices will no doubt reflect your personality. Colour can really affect the mood of the room – so think about what type of atmosphere you want to create. When I’m testing colours for a room I always put a bit on every wall as you’d be amazed how different they can sometimes look depending on light. Check test patches too in the morning and evening light as again at different times of the day colours can look different. Remember that different paint finishes can also change the way a colour scheme looks. I always use eggshell on our woodwork for example as I’m not keen on a gloss finish.

5. Enjoy it.

Lastly, there’s nothing like that feeling when a room is finally finished, the paint is dry, everything is in its place and you can sit down (in my case ideally with a glass of wine) and enjoy all your hard work. Be proud of it and show it off.

Merry Christmas

Phew, that’s the madness over for another year then. I hosted Christmas Day this year as my mum is recovering from a knee replacement still so the pressure was on to be up to her usual festive standards. Luckily this year we kept it small and there were just the six of us (us, my parents, my brother and his lovely girlfriend). I’d planned my menu a good few weeks in advance and I made sure I was off on Christmas Eve so that I could get as much of the prep done as possible to ensure I could enjoy the day as much as I could. This also gave me enough time to try and make the table look pretty, and have a go at creating a centre piece. Now I’ve never tried to make a flower arrangement before but I didn’t think that this was too bad an effort?!20141229-140609.jpg

I’ve discovered a great flower stall on Cambridge market, not sure how I’ve missed it all these years but I’ve promised myself I’ll take advantage of it now I’ve found it. My theme was white, grey and silver so I kept the flowers to these colours, the gypsophila I bought had a bit of added sparkle, which I wouldn’t usually be a fan of but it was very subtle and gave it a festive edge. A couple of crafty hours were spent making crackers (anyone else find them a lot harder to make than you thought they would?!) and a festive swag for our fireplace using ivy, holly and rosemary from the garden.

All in all I think Christmas Day was a success, we managed a festive walk before we had a late dinner and true to form everyone was stuffed (and groaning) and I’ve still got a whole shelf in the fridge full of cheese after I got carried away in the Cambridge cheese shop (well worth a visit if you love cheese as much as I do).

Merry Christmas everyone x

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Gearing up for a winter fair

Phew, where have the last few weeks gone? Things have been rather busy of late whilst I’ve been preparing for the Mill Road Winter Fair in Cambridge. If you’re local to the area chances are you’ll know all about this fabulous event – if you don’t then it really is worth a visit, there promises to be something for everyone.

I’ll be launching a new range at the fair – tea towels made with vintage and new fabrics, and show casing some new cushions which aren’t yet listed on my Etsy or Folksy shops. There’ll also be some festive bunting – see, it does work all year round…

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Aside from this, I’ve been thinking about how best to set up my stall, Pinterest has been really helpful in giving me some new ideas and I’ll be giving my plans a test run next weekend. From a customer perspective I think it’s really important that a stall not only looks inviting but encourages people to take a closer look, and hopefully then appreciate a unique handmade item.

If you’re in the area on the 6 December, pop along and say hello to myself and my merry little helpers x

Memories

I’ve always been one to display photographs of happy memories. We left all our frames packed up in boxes when we first moved in as we had so much work to DSC_0378do before we were anywhere near the stage of accessorising. Two years down the line we were finally at that exciting stage. During that period of time we’d also got married so as you can imagine had a whole lot of new photos we could display.
We decided to have a ‘wall of fame’ – lots of pictures of our family and friends at our wedding, in a mish mash of frames set out in a bit of a random fashion, I love it and when people come round they always dawdle down our hallway looking at it.

In contrast to this we have a big (boring) plain wall in our dining room, this was one of the first rooms we did up and I’m itching to change it but we thought we’d try out another photo display first. We went for a structured grid style for this one in contrast to the wall of fame and featured some of our favourite places that we’ve been on holiday together.

My top tips for creating these sorts of displays are (for a structured one) make sure you lay it out on the floor first – turn the frames over and work out the measurements (remembering to leave enough room for a gap) first. For the random approach, we ended up doing just that. We did set them out first on the floor but as there were so many different frames and sizes in the end we just put them up randomly by eye and I have to say I think it worked just as well as the ones that are planned out.

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Itchy feet

It didn’t take long but that strange feeling of not having any DIY or decorating to do has turned into a mad discussion of “perhaps we could just redecorate the spare room, it won’t take long…”

Since finishing the lounge our (what seemed endless at the time) list of house jobs has seriously shrunk, we’re at a stage where we now need to bring in the ‘professionals’ (loosely translated as my little brother) for the last big project – replacing all the doors – inside and out, but we’re now looking at some of the rooms we did early on in a hurry (and with a very small budget) with a critical eye. One of our pet hates has been our guest bedroom. It’s the second largest bedroom and in context of the rest of the house, when we first moved in wasn’t in too bad a state. Ok so the walls were covered in some ghastly wallpaper, which once removed left a mismatch of holes and plaster that needed sorting, but a weekend of sanding and filling and stripping back floorboards left us with a room that wasn’t in that bad a shape. We slapped on some paint and I made what was one of my first sets of practice curtains, job done. A week later we both hated the colour and faced with literally every other room to sort we just ignored it. The room doesn’t have a feature, we know there’s a covered up fireplace that eventually we’d like to uncover (but I’m working on the hubby to let me take a sledge-hammer to the one that’s covered up in the dining room first!) it’s just never really worked and we’ve never added those final touches to it.

So, my challenge last weekend, was to completely re-design it without breaking the bank. Without uncovering the fireplace, and not wanting to have a feature wall my thoughts were to make the window (and the view out across the garden and fields) the focal point. I was given a gorgeous remnant of Laura Ashley fabric (thanks Mum) which is just enough to make a roman blind and I’m going to make some floor length thin curtains to dress it. The new fabric works with the existing colour on the walls and completely changes my opinion of it. A bit of tinkering around with furniture from other rooms awaits this weekend and some accessorising and I’m hoping we’ll be pleased with the results. I’ll post some before and after shots next week and you can all tell me what you think…