Showing posts with label Interior design. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Interior design. Show all posts

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Evolving Interior Design; The Dining Room and Craving a Simpler Life

I have been craving a simpler life. Despite being a committed hippie-boho-style-clutter-loving-maximalist I find I actually want to have more space in my life and less overall stuff. This doesn't mean I will become a minimalist, I don't think that will ever be me, and I'm resigned to remaining messy! I figure that just goes hand in hand with being creative.

I do however find that I desire things that mean something. Memory sparkers rather than just stuff I like, or stuff I love.

I think the world is changing with me, I feel like this is a time of change, a reaction to lots of plastic and mass consumption. A hankering for slower, handmade, moments and feelings of contentment rather than shopping and purchasing.

As a handmade seller, I'm very pleased about this, and as an individual it just feels right somehow. With this in mind, I've joined a couple of facebook groups and started a journey to less stuff. I'm decluttering with the help of Organise Your UK Home, and feeling better about the stuff I don't want anymore with the help of Konmarie Uk.

Organise Your UK Home is the group who have helped me develop some routines to try and be less messy. It is having an impact but it will take time. 37 years of creating chaos cannot be banished in one go.

Konmarie UK is based on the principles of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I originally bought this to try and get rid of some of my clothes, and wrote a blog post all about that here. Since then I have come around more to the idea of having less in the house and have been working away on selling a few items, and donating a lot too.

In the spirit of these two groups, I thought I would share the evolution of my dining room. I originally blogged about this here. And it has changed quite a bit. I no longer use this room to blog and paint, I have a dedicated studio indoors now. I will share that at some point.

This space is dedicated to eating together as a family, having friends over for takeaways and drinks, somewhere where I can sit and natter with my bestie. All the lovely things in life really. It's also my yarn storage space and we have plans to make space to play records and more music - it's evolving, not finished! 

This alcove is a work in progress, hopefully I've just found the perfect piece of vintage furniture to fit the space. 

I've also embraced the Danish concept of 'hygge' after my brother's Danish girlfriend bought me a book all about it. It's a way to cope with the long winter days by bringing nature inside more, creating a cosy atmosphere with candles and lighting and feeling content in the moment. 

Here is my dining room and yummy yarn storage at night. It really glows, which is an amazing feeling in the dark. 

I've just made some shelves for the speakers we need to put up in the room and am thinking of planning a party to celebrate it all being the way I can see it in my head! 

Monday, 11 September 2017

Painting techniques; Three simple tips to make your wall painting as good as the professionals

I paint things, I paint things all the time. Chests of drawers, cupboards, wardrobes, plant pots, walls, ceilings, walls, did I mention walls? I run my own business making shelves which are usually at least half painted.

I paint a lot of things. I've practiced a lot. I'm a painting person. I'm hoping this answers the question why I'm telling you how to paint!

This experience has shown me the best way to paint. I've taught myself over the years and the old adage 'practice makes perfect' is true. I'm proud to say that often when I have painted something people ask me if I've done that myself or paid a professional. Because of that I consider myself an almost-expert painter. Today I'd like to share my tips.

In case you haven't watched the video, here are my three tips.

1. Not too much on your brush

Only the top centimetre of your brush should have paint on it. Don't dip it too far. It runs down your hand, it runs on the wall and causes drips and you end up with a messy - not perfect finish.

2. Start a brush width away and work back

This is how I avoid over-painting lines. It helps to automatically make you blend the paint together and achieve a better finish.

3. Go over with feather light long strokes

This does not look perfect when wet but does dry in a perfect way. It's the absolute best way to get a even finish.

In the video I do talk about my favourite materials. They make a difference but in reality you can get a great finish with rubbish materials or a brilliant finish with rubbishy materials if your technique is correct . However, once you have mastered your technique - good paint and a good brush will make a huge difference and are worth investing in - in my honest opinion. You absolutely can get a fantastic finish with cheap paint and cheap brushes but it may take you two or three times as long and if you value your time, it's not always worth the money saved.

My favourite brush is a Purdy, I also like the Harris No Loss. I occasionally use artist brushes, but I never use anything else.

I love Farrow & Ball, Fired Earth and Little Greene paints. My all time favourite is Dulux Trade. It's very thick and gives great coverage. Plus, they'll mix any colour for you which is great. I always use water based paints if possible. This is because they are much easier to clean up and that way I can use my good brushes. I tend to use eggshell paint on my furniture as it gives a lovely end result, where you can see the shape of the grain in the wood.

On a side note though. I still haven't found a white paint which takes less than three coats! Four if I'm being picky. Please let me know if you have found a brilliant one. The best I found so far is Farrow and Ball All White for wood, and Polycell 3in1 Base Coat for walls. I use this all the time in my house as it's great coverage and a really clean matt white.

Lastly, but not leastly, here is the finished wall I was painting in the tutorial. I love the finish, I love the colour and I really love how it enhances my white half-painted furniture.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Real life problems: Yarn Storage

I started to get a bit overwhelmed as I really was drowning in yarn!

Warning the following four images are just gratuitous yarn shots! 

Let's get back to the real life problem. Almost one year ago, I had another beautiful baby boy. My other boys are teenagers so our house had become a more grown up house. We have a playroom for the xbox and massive telly required by grown up boys and apart from lots of sport equipment toys were rare these days. 

Our house had become a bohemian and lovely space. Comfortable, quite messy in a sit-down-and-be-cosy-friends-always-welcome kind of way and I had (have) a lot of hobbies and half done projects which require equipment. This worked out pretty well but once we started to add; changing mats, toys, nappy storage, toys, new baby washing piles, toys, jumperoo's, toys, bouncy chairs, toys, pram, did-I-mention-all-the-bloomin-toys! I started to feel out of control. 

I like the toys, I don't think we have that many just coupled with my personal style which is quite cluttered anyway it soon felt too much and not in a good way. My son has inherited some of my personality as he loves to get every toy out, scatter cushions on the floor, empty the nappy storage (all clean items - don't worry) and we were spending most of our days living in this...

There was a while, where I thought - it's fine, he's going to have awesome orienteering skills! But it has started to get to me more as he moves around more. I want him to have space to play and I want to have space to sit on the floor with him. 

This was the catalyst for coming up with a solution. I love problem solving - it takes time, but I really enjoy it. I have spent a long time thinking through and decided that I needed to change up the furniture as it wasn't working and repurpose some of the items. I had all my yarn in a beautiful old bohemian 1970's storage unit which reached the floor. I decided this would work much better for toys and then started to think about how I could store my yarn. I like to see it, as it encourages me to not go and buy more yarn for small projects as I often have what I need already. If I hide it away, I would go yarn shopping much more often and I don't need to do that. 

I tend to make quite a range of crochet projects - toys, amigurami, blankets, flowers for my shelves and so on. Quite often my projects don't need masses of wool, which means I end up with quite a lot of half balls of yarn and I have started buying lovely hand dyed skeins of wool as they are just gorgeous and I have those rather than lots of different balls. 

I estimated I had around 100 balls of wool to store. As I am a shelf-maker (you can view my etsy store here)  I decided to come up with a wall mounted solution which would display these 100 balls and still be easy to access. I did NOT want them to all fall out every time I took some yarn from the bottom of a shelf. 

Firstly I carried out some market research and looked into what storage is already available. None really. A lot of people use Ikea shelving and while that works well in the main, it doesn't stop wool falling out. There are some beautiful glass fronted vintage armoires which work very well but I don't have £1000 to spend and wouldn't have the floor space either. 

I also asked people how much yarn they had. The answer was a lot! So I started to draw bigger shelves than I'd originally planned. I counted my yarn and there was nearer 200 balls to store too, once I'd rounded up all the stray carrier bags with balls stashed in them. 

Here is an image of my very first design. It worked really well except the elastic wasn't quite covering the way I needed it too. Some balls of wool were at risk of falling out as I reached for another. 

These two pictures above show me testing the shelves in my own dining room/ craft room. It was quite messy as there were 200 balls of wool scattered about the place and that's when I took the picture of me drowning in yarn. 

Teenage son had a lovely time chucking balls of wool at me and then photographing the results! 

You can see above that I used mirror plates to hang my shelves. I always use these as I find them long lasting and sturdy and with this shelf it can be completely invisible when the wool is in there. 

I decided to add more elastic and kept to a strict design, so that the shelf looks beautiful. I didn't want the elastic to detract from the yarn, and chose to make the shelf available with either black, white, pink or clear elastic. 

Here you can see my finished product, in use, in my own home. 

I've tested it out and it works. Nothing has fallen out. All 190 balls of wool (of varying sizes - some full balls, some skeins, some small ones and some chunky yarns) do fit in. There's even a little space to add more! 

This wall makes me so happy every time I see it now. It's a practical problem solver and a work of art! 

My yarn storage shelf is now available for sale on Etsy and all the product features are listed there. I've also protected the design so I am the only person who can sell these. 

I'm really excited to share my problem solving with the world! 

Monday, 10 April 2017

For the love of rainbows

Hello all,

I'm writing this about rainbows. I know, you picked that up from the title, but I couldn't think of another way to begin. There aren't any other words to describe rainbows! 

I'm a colour lover, which if you have ever read this blog before you already know. I like brights and pastels and am a fairly confirmed bohemian maximalist. Is that an actual thing? If not it should be. I like spaces and interiors to feel busy, homely (really-that-should-say-messy) and comfortable. Like you can put a mug down on a surface and not feel guilty. Like you can make yourself at home. Like you want to come to my house. 

When I was around five years old, I remember taking part in a 'wear as many colours as possible' charity event at school. I can't be sure if it was Comic Relief, or Children in Need but it was something like that. My school uniform at five, included a stiff necked blue shirt, and a tie, so getting to wear own clothes was a huge treat. I didn't go to a public school or anything, just no one had thought to let little kids wear t shirts and sweaters like they do now. I vividly remember having crochet socks with a diamond pattern, knee high and in white and my Mum let me colour every diamond in with marker pens. I loved that outfit and felt like a 'bobby dazzler' (Northern Colloquialism for 'outfit on point' for you Non-Northerners and Millenials!).

Fast forward a bit and I moved in with my boyfriend (now husband) six years ago, and one of my first thoughts was that the front room was big enough for a rainbow wall. It was one of my first home renovation projects and six years later, it's got bigger and better and I love it still. Here it is in it's current glory! 

It says homely doesn't it? There is a mix of my handmade shelving, vintage shelves and Ikea staples in there. I do love Ikea, I just don't want purely Ikea in my home as I want it to feel like my home and not a showroom. You get me? 

And now? Now I find myself making crochet shelves, using a rainbow pattern of colours and wools or yarns. I spend my days and nights obsessed with colour combinations, crochet and interiors. I haven't really changed very much from that little girl upcycling her socks thirty years ago! Blimey, it feels strange writing that. 

I've recently designed a yarn storage shelf and when I came to display it I didn't even have to think about the look, it was always going to be a rainbow. 

It fitted into my rainbow mirror wall! This is my craft room/ office. I have the stable for my workshop but I tend to work indoors on a night. Can't be using power tools at midnight now! That sounds really wonderful doesn't it? The reality is that the space shown above is also our dining room (that's why you can see a fridge freezer in the mirror, as the kitchen is so tiny there isn't room for a fridge - cringe!). I'm being pretty honest here. It works pretty well but I do spend a lot of time moving my stuff around to make space for meal times and setting up again. Or we eat on half the table surrounded by my projects! 

All of this is my way of sharing a little of my story of how I got here. Rainbows isn't an accident and if I look back I do see this was never random. 

I've met some lovely people along the way who also do rainbows. I've teamed up with them and this Easter weekend we are hosting an online Rainbow Market Weekend. I've never taken part in one of these before, but as far as I can tell, you click this link

Press going and then facebook automatically tells you the event is live. While you sit in your pyjamas eating chocolate (or-not-perhaps-that's-just-me), you can browse some gorgeous handcrafted rainbow inspired items at special offers, with no obligation to buy! Just have a look. Take part and share the love of rainbows. 

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Yourshelf in the dark

Ahhhhh, night-time, that wonderful time of evening when the kids are in bed, work is over (read-daytime-if-you-work-shifts), and you can be you and relax.

Are you aware of how much lighting helps you to 'just be'? Soft lighting can soothe the mood. My handmade shelves - my Yourshelf range - really comes into it's own in the dark. Magic happens. The colours I have chosen and the crochet I have added start to glow and create patterns.

Have a look.

The shelves suit lights either inside them or even just near to them. They also create patterns from overhead lights. Look at the warm glow above. Tell me a vintage-plaster-Chinese-lady-doesn't-just-scream-relaxation? Or maybe time for a glass of wine and an evening with friends?

Here you can see overhead lighting and a lamp combined to show the change as the shadows fall. Shelving can be stylish and practical too. 

Maybe you spend your evenings alone and love it that way. You could be staring at this beautiful big headed man while wondering what to read? Can you tell how much I love to match colours.

Remember the nightstand or alternative bedside table from the day post below - here it is in the evening. The wood isn't painted yellow but it glows from within and helps you to relax.
You can see how flexible my shelving is and how much you can personalise it.

Even if you just need a place to rest your watch, charge your phone and have a light to read by-apply-face-mask-remove-makeup-meditate it still looks good.

And, just sometimes, we all need a bit of glitter and magic. With wands to make wishes.

Yourshelf - The Daytime Look

So you know how many people talk about how to take your outfit/ make up/ hair work from day to night. Who ever mentions how to do this for your home? It should do the same.

I've styled up some of my handmade shelves in both day and night-time to show you how they change in different light levels and to hopefully give you some ideas on how you could use them in your own home.

Don't be shelf conscious - but make your house and home work well in daylight and night-time. Come with me and see the daytime look.

Yourshelf really lends itself to display - whether of favourite books or sculptures. It also looks best when paired with a light of some kind.
However it is incredibly practical and makes a great space saving night-stand or alternative to a bedside table. You can even use the holes to feed wires through and keep them in place. One thing I hate is the way my phone charger has immense hiding properties - why won't it just stay where it should be. Well, here's a solution...

It can be the ultimate nightstand - a really economical space saving way to give either yourself or guests room for a book, a glass of water, a light, a place to chanrge your phone and somewhere to place your jewellery. As this is the daytime look I want to show you what it could look like in the morning. Still beautiful no?
And it only sticks out 17cm from the wall!
(That is the maximum width. Each yourshelf is different and is designed based on the wood so the sizes do differ, but this is the maximum width.)
If you had a particular space in mind I could make one with get-in-exact-dimensions-bespoke-baby.
As you can make a Yourshelf work in so many different ways I wanted to show two extremes. Maxi and Mini.

They can suit maximalists and you-know-shop-displays-or-people-whose-homes-look-a-bit-like-aladdins-caves-and-yes-that-is-me. I really did just happen to have all the sculptures, lady lamp, action man and pineapples laying around.

Or even those simpler-living-type-folks who just want a place to rest their book, phone, watch and a lamp.
Just an aside  how-can-they-not-want-to-add-sculptures-more-books-feathers-and-stuff.
I'm never going to be a minimalist am I?
I can respect them though.
Hope this gave you some ideas and just drop me an email if you want to know more about ordering a Yourshelf.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

The struggle is real!

I have a layout conundrum. It's related to compromise and that isn't something I'm particularly good at.

Let's start with the beginning. Are you sitting comfortably?

Our living room is a beautiful space with a very large bay window but for some reason I've never managed to lay it out very well.

I showed the original couch in this post ( and mentioned I wanted to replace it.

Well I've been searching for second hand replacements and as usual I have managed to find more options than are suitable and now I need to narrow it down. I do think that shopping is one of my best skills.

Let's start with the requirements;

  1. Enough places for 4 people to sit comfortably and be able to look at each other and the TV (not necessarily at the same time).
  2. Somewhere husband can rest his head and watch the TV.
  3. The whole space needs to feel comfortable.
  4. It needs to be fairly hardwearing.

I think it is fairly obvious which requirement is mine, which is husbands and which are the ones we both agree on and need. It's 1, 2 and then 3&4 if you weren't sure.

Now let's look at the options I have found.

  1. A salmon pink two-seater Chesterfield which is very comfortable and which was given to me by my brother. I don't want to get rid of this as it's vintage and handmade and one of an exact pair (the other lives in my stable) which I have grand plans to eventually have recovered in some wonderful fabric - when-budget-allows-sadly-so-may-realistically-be-years. This is shown covered in some wonderful bright blue and turquoise blankets which I bought last year in Morocco.
  2. A brown leather chair which is comfortable and high enough for husband, but extra squeaky.
  3. A recovered and restored swivel chair which I have just finished, which is super comfy and looks gorgeous but I'm just not quite sure it works here.
  4. A well worn leather vintage two-seater Laura Ashley sofa which fits perfectly (millimetre-perfectly) into the bay window but which husband doesn't like and unfortunately the bay window is apparently THE best place to hear the surround sound. (Which accounts for the random wires around the room and the fact we need 1200 remotes-or-something).
  5. I have supplemented these with two large footstools - one in purple velvet which isn't squishy and one amazing multi coloured one which I picked up because-it-matches-the-exact-rug-plan-I-have-in-my-head-and-which-I-will-make and because sometimes, if you don't buy now - you cry later. (Vintage shopping motto).

I wasn't actually going to blog about this until I worked it all out but I thought, why not share? The struggle for placement is REAL peeps.

So here are a few quick phone snaps of the current pieces. I've put them all in because I'm a visual person and I thought I would put them in and go AHA! That's how it should look.


Not at all.

It definitely looks too busy but I was expecting that as I haven't yet decided which bits to use. (I will move all the unused to other bits of the house, or maybe sell a piece, I'm not wasteful).

I think in my head that two sofa's (they are both two seater's), one chair and one footstool is kind of ideal but I'm not certain of anything at the moment.

Here is a panoramic so you can see how it all looks together....

It was pretty sunny, but I think that shows what a lovely light filled room it is (it faces East though, not South).

And here they have stayed. I've sat in them and stared at them and just overall thought about them but inspiration has not yet struck.
It will but again, I need to have patience and take my time. Even my phone told me this as I took the panorama. Life lessons from a computer eh?
I'll get there.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Evolving Interior Design; The dining room

Or maybe I should call it the slightly-more-than-two-year-saga-of-removing-a-fireplace... Yes folks, that is honestly how long it took! I know because of the wonder and sometimes sadness that is timehop.

Do I feel ashamed? A little. Does my husband feel ashamed. No, speed doesn't matter to him at all and the fact that I'm always after INSTANT GRATIFICATION does drive him a little bit mad. Same for all the people I know really, I don't get it. Why not want things done yesterday now!

The dining room was pretty much the worst in the whole house. It's hard to remember exactly how grim it was, but looking at this picture I'm sure the point comes across.
The wallpaper was hanging off, and an ugly used-to-be-green-but-is-now-nicotine-yellow. The carpet was one of those exceptionally good quality yet exceptionally ugly patterns. The curtains were filthy and disgusting. Although, after a wash, they now are exceptionally good painting cloths so every cloud...

The fireplace. Oh, the fireplace. Strange stone, exposed and ugly-shade-of-beige concrete, painted black bricks, random gold fire-hood-type-thing, a semi-decent fire surround and then a gap above the fireplace with a strange and badly fixed strip of wood across it.

On a side note though - look at that original pantry cupboard. Stunning! We even found some left over crystal glasses in it, surely from the days of glamour and before anyone installed the monstrosity to the right.

Here is a more recent picture. Just so you know, I kept the beautiful pantry and managed to uncover a gem! That is the best thing about old houses (ours is around 110- 125 years old).

Back to the beginning. We had to live with it for a while. This must have been a very early picture as I took the curtains down very quickly indeed. (Wearing gloves). I love the way I've photographed a feather duster on the table, as if, yeah I dust regularly! (I don't.)

After much persuading, I convinced the chap to tackle removing the bricks to see what was underneath. I had a good feeling, but even I was surprised by how good it turned out to be.
Above you can see husband in the act of removing concrete and a close up of that strange fire hood thing.

After about two hours.
Doubts and feelings-of-omg-how-long-is-this-going-to-take started here.

A mere 4 billion hours later we were here. Ok, it might have been more like 15, but it felt a lot looonger.

And then another 4 billion later we got to this. I stopped taking pictures of the bits in between due to the general despondency and tiredness.
It's hard to get a sense of scale but the bottom of the lintel rests on my shoulder. It's about 5 foot high. The removal of bricks was just neverending. But look at the lintel. It's mahoosive and sandy-coloured-stone and just overall gorgeous!
We saved all the good bricks though, for the garden. The fire surround was painted matt black and put to good use too. Waste not, want not and all.
But then, we didn't really know what to do.

We lived with the whole room like this for a long time. I stripped the wallpaper and painted the whole room white.
As you can probably tell from the pictures the light in this room is wonderful and it's also very private. Nobody overlooks this space.
I cleaned and repainted the pantry cupboard too and sprayed the handles black.
Then very little happened.

We looked into the soot blackened hole every day and stopped noticing it.
We had had the chimney swept so it wasn't a dirt or soot problem. It was just ugly.

I restored a beautiful 1950's kitchen cupboard to match the gap where presumably a second pantry cupboard would have been. On this piece of furniture I cleaned it and sanded it and replaced the handles and sprayed them black. It had these stunning three vents though, so I painted them purple so they stood out slightly more. It was one of those serendipitous moments as it fitted so perfectly.
Then we finally hired a plasterer, the lovely Steve, who is a friend of ours and also supremely talented and he made it look amazing.
There was a lot of cleaning prior to that, but, you know, cleaning isn't the most exciting thing to discuss. Basically hot water, spray bleach, wire brush, repeat ad infinitum!

Here was the first moment I started to love this room. I knew it had potential and could be beautiful but at this point I sort of fell for it.
The window is huge and looks out over my garden, it isn't overlooked and the light is fantastic. I started spending a lot of time in here.
It's the room where I blog, where I journal and where I talk to my friends and where I read.
Recently I also got rid of the carpet and my brother-in-law and husband fitted some beading around the wood floor. I sanded and then painted the floor and it's now a lovely space.

And after all that, I think that concludes the saga of removing a fireplace.
It was worth it.
Yes, I wish it had been quicker.
Honestly, it's just the way things happened. I've moved on from ashamed to proud! Happy days.