Saturday, 30 May 2009

Side tables and a little DIY

Having a fair-sized, but not huge, lounge has meant that I’ve decided to do without a coffee table. I think it would just clutter the place up and become a dumping ground for all the weekend papers… Instead, I have three small side tables (one shown above, and one below - if you look closely). They were an ultimate bargain – £3.50 for the three, picked out of a charity shop by my eagle eyed mum. They’re oak, and so complement the rest of the furniture perfectly.

Another side table purchase was again spotted in a charity shop – this time for a mere 40 pence. I’ve spray painted it a rather fetching pale blue (good ol’ plasikote) and it now complements our new Laura Ashley summer palace wallpaper rather perfectly. It will hold our books, and a small lamp. Perfect.

You could of course customise your own table with wallpaper, or even pages from magazines, or old newspapers. I’ve covered this telephone table (which is actually advertised as a stool, rather than a table, in Ikea) with the same wallpaper as is on the wall behind it. It means it doesn’t stand out too much, and again, is just a little bit different. It really was easy to do, and as I varnished it afterwards, it’s very hardy. What I need now is a cool phone - I love the old fashioned looking ones that come in a variety of colours, but I don't think I'd be able to live with a phone that wasn't cordless. Although that would stop my boyfriend dropping countless phones in the bath - he likes to chat whilst he soaks!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

wallpaper creativity

I just wanted to share this cute pic I found on the Flikr photostream 'lutterlagkage'. An ikea unit has been covered in a selection of vintage wallpaper and I love the result... See, the wallpaper possibilities are endless!

Saturday, 23 May 2009


I know that people have mixed feelings about ‘feature walls’ but I find them a great way of adding a focus to a room, and also of using fantastic wallpaper, that would be overwhelming if on every wall of the room.

When we got the wallpaper in the lounge hung, the guy doing the work (as I think I’ve mentioned we’re not madly practical when it comes to DIY, and that includes hanging paper) was so shocked that I would actually choose to have this rather loud pattern, that he promised to stay and take it down for free, if I didn’t like it. Fortunately for him, I loved it, and still do!

I was worried that this ‘Summer Palace’ paper in the small bedroom might look a bit overwhelming, or make the room look too narrow, but I think it works really well.

In the large bedroom, this charcoal ‘Erin’ paper, also from Laura Ashley, just adds a bit of interest to a small alcove… I’m still wondering if we should go all out in this room though, and get the whole thing papered.

Wallpaper’s not just for walls - it looks great hung on sliding wardrobe doors, too. And if you’re using it on a limited area, you can use a bolder pattern that you might choose for a whole room. You could even frame particularly lovely wallpaper, and make your own art!

If you don’t fancy covering an entire wall in one print, you could utilise your favourite scraps of fabric, mis-matched wallpaper, book jackets or postcards and create a patchwork wall. This can look very chic, and you know that no one else will have the same. You could have a rough colour scheme, or a theme (birds or flowers or, when we papered above our fireplace at university, men!), or alternatively you could do something completely mis-matched and unique. If you were doing this in a kitchen or a bathroom, you could even varnish over it…(although that might make it difficult to change, if you go off your chosen design!)

A great place to go to search through some of the thousands of wallpapers designs available is

I’ve just been browsing through a couple of magazines and seen a picture of a bedroom decorated in ‘Fleur pink’, from the Sophie Conran range at B&Q. Only £24.98 a roll, and soooo pretty.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Chairs, chairs (and a dining room table)…

Soooo important for both practical and aesthetic purposes...

I’ve never (or maybe not never, but ever since I’ve had more than 2 beans to rub together) been one for purely functional purchases. To me, a chair must complement the table (if for dining) or the couch (if for lounging) and the style of the home, which of course, when it comes down to it, reflects on its inhabitants. Soooooo – in a couple of short steps, the purchase of the humble chair has become all about me, me, me!

I was delighted to acquire my four church chairs for the bargain price of £15 each, a year or two ago. I saw an advert in the local paper, in the town where I grew up (London just doesn’t seem to do and use local papers in the same way), and leapt in the car to a restaurant that had just been refurbished. I scrambled around in their dark attic, selecting the four chairs in the best condition and that matched each other colour wise. I’m delighted with the shabby but oh-so-chic result, and they perfectly compliment my battered old dining table, which was a junk shop find. The knocks and scrapes add character… I hate things that look too shiny and new. (Unless they’re my shiny new laptop, on which I’m writing this. Or maybe a shiny new pair of shoes). The other thing about cute church chairs is that they’re quite easy to decorate – either at Christmas, or for other special occasions, or even just when having friends over to dinner. I could pop a little menu in the bit meant for the hymn book…. Or stuff it with dried flowers…or dangle baubles from the back. At Easter, for example, I have some rather lovely, and extremely camp, felt bunnies, from Paperchase! You could also accessorise with a lovely cushion, should you, or your derriere, require.

I was sorely tempted to get more ‘dining chairs’ last time I went to give blood. Odd you may think, but I give blood in a church hall near where I live, and whilst we were all waiting (it’s always hugely busy, which is a good thing, but quite a pain if you’ve forgotten to fix an appointment time, as I had on this occasion) the vicar walked around the room offering chairs to anyone who wanted them. No one took him up on the offer. A great shame, because the chairs were traditional old wooden ‘school chairs’, with a green metal frame. Had I had a bigger house, or a garage, or a shed, I’d definitely have taken a few home. Who knows what I’ve have used them for, but it’s always good to have back-up chairs. Or maybe I could have sold them on at a huge profit. Yes, I should have had more foresight!

Whilst we’re on the subject of chairs, an important purchase has been my Barcelona chair and footstool. It’s the piece de resistance in my lounge, and may be sat on by almost anyone (so long as they’re not drinking red wine!) It’s stylish and comfortable, and with a little side table and a lamp next to it (although the pic below in pre-side table!), creates the perfect little place to read. I’ve always wanted my own reading chair… to feel stylish as I’m devouring my books. As I was justifying the cost of this particular purchase I had to remind myself that the Barcelona chair is a design classic, that will never go out of fashion.

My next chair purchase will, I hope, be a white eames rocker. Another classic. Sadly I don’t really have anywhere to put a rocker… aside from possibly in our small bedroom, but then I know that it would constantly have clothes thrown over it, and possibly lose some of its classic stylishness as a result!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

A little introduction to my new blog

As the credit crunch is upon us, I think it’s important to remember that it needn’t cost a fortune to make your house a home. You can make your house or flat look original and very homely with just a little imagination and an eagle eye for a bargain.

This isn’t a design blog, so much as an ‘accessorising your home’ one! I’m not well equipped with practical skills, or a large budget, but I do love personalising our flat. It gives me pleasure to find (or even make) nice pictures, arrange a few ornaments or hunt for perfect cushions. I don’t like everything to look too new - I much prefer furniture that has lived a little - and most of all I like our flat to be a reflection of us. Or rather, of me. Luckily my boyfriend isn’t too bothered what’s in our home, so long as there’s room for his guitars!

We’ve been in this flat for about 2 ½ years. Sadly we don’t have any ‘before’ pics, but suffice to say that most rooms were yellow. Bright yellow. With yellow doors and skirting boards and window frames… And a brown carpet. It was like 1973 threw up in our front room. The smallest bedroom was a nursery, and painted sky blue with white clouds. It was cute, and perfect for the 2 year old boy, but not so great for us. The downstairs hallway (which is lower ground level) was painted chocolate brown - quite a cool colour, but not in a basement as it sapped what little light there was. The large bedroom was exactly the shade of terracotta I loved in the mid-nineties, but have since gone off… The bathrooms were a kind of quite dark cream colour, which made them feel a bit like Travelodge bathrooms. I feel I’m being mean to the previous owners, who were absolutely lovely, and had managed to instil the flat with a feeling of happiness and homeliness, in spite of our difference of opinion when it came to the dulux colour chart!

When we moved in we painted everything white (aside from the kitchen which we did in pale blue and the downstairs bathroom which is light green), but I was anxious that the place didn’t feel too clinical, and we’ve been gradually adding character since then. Apart from the painting we haven’t done many major jobs - just tiling the kitchen and bathroom floors and getting wooden floors laid in the lounge and upstairs hallway - but I like to think that our home now looks stylish and a bit original. Maybe it doesn’t….other people can be the judge! The other thing I should point out is that we didn’t have much money - so after buying essentials like a washing machine and a fridge-freezer we tried to do everything as cheaply as we could. This sometimes meant getting inspiration from somewhere like Living Etc, but sourcing (or even making*) a much cheaper alternative.

In this blog I plan to talk about most aspects of our flat, and then also draw on inspiration from blogs, designers, photos, friends homes etc etc. I’ve always been one for pulling out cuttings of houses I like, or d├ęcor that appeals - who knows, one day when we win the lottery (which we must start doing!) we might buy a big house where there will be plenty of space for all the extra things I’d like to do but haven’t got space for here!

*I should also add that I have no practical skills. I haven’t sewn more than a button in my life, or tried to draw or paint since school. We also don’t own a drill or any other very practical tools, so the things I suggest really can be done by anybody!