Thursday, 5 May 2016

five top tips for a small bathroom makeover

As renters, we have a bit of a ‘choose-your-battles’ approach to DIY; there are some things we can live with, like the grey marbled tiles in the bathroom (not my taste, but fairly inoffensive), and some we really couldn’t, like the green kitchen worktops and frayed bedroom carpets. The bathroom was one of the most challenging spaces as it really is teeny tiny – I can touch both of the opposite walls at the same time, and you really can’t fit more than one person in there at once. Styling a small area is always difficult, as it’s so hard to get the balance between it looking finished and it looking overcrowded - so I thought today I'd share my top tips for making the best of a small bathroom, in collaboration with the One World Trading Company.

1. Choose great storage
I’ve drooled over so many Pinterest pictures of bathrooms with vintage cupboards, or plant-filled cabinets, but as there’s literally zero floor space in our bathroom (like, not even enough room for a pot plant!), we decided to make good use of the wall behind the sink. The mirror was one of my favourite ever interior finds – not only is it nice and long, it also has a shelf built into it which is great for holding things like toothbrushes, candles and of course, my beloved plants.

2. Accessorise practically
If you’ve got a small space, you’re not going to be able to add much in the way of accessories, so they need to earn their keep. I chose to keep it simple with plants and flowers – they’re practical, they clean the air and they look great – but you could opt for one nice print, a jar filled with seashells or a vintage style lantern. The Belmot Lidded Jar is perfect for bathrooms; I used one as a candle holder, and one as a miniature vase for a small bunch of Gysophila – but you could do pretty much anything with it. Also, try looking at things differently - I used the Goodwood Rope Holder as a small basket for my Chain of Hearts plant, and love how it looks hung on the shelf bracket. 

3. Add some baskets
Baskets are perfect for bathroom storage, as they’re easy to clean and they look great; we use them for everything from storing toilet roll and cleaning supplies to holding makeup and even housing plants – if you’ve got a little floor space, a Swiss Cheese plant in a wicker basket looks amazing! They’re the perfect solution for anyone who doesn’t have space for cupboards, and has to keep storage on display.

4. Find a good bathmat
I had a real struggle finding a bathmat that wasn’t fluffy, and wasn’t over £20 – I wanted a flatwoven style that would dry quickly and blend in with the rest of the bathroom. In the end we found ours from IKEA for the princely sum of £1.25. So obviously, we bought ten, in case they stop selling them!

5. Treat yourself to some luxury bath products
Every Christmas or birthday, I ask for bathroom products that I’d otherwise never buy; luxury candles like the Newport Cloche wild fig, organic handwashes and pricey soap – I always think that if it’s going to be on display, it needs to look nice! Obviously, we can’t afford to spend a lot all year round, so my secret trick is to keep the packaging and then fill it up with our regular stuff from the supermarket!

To see more of the One World Trading Company, head to the website to get shopping, or pop over to the blog for inspiration and ideas. 

Many thanks to the One World Trading Company for collaborating on this makeover and post. I was sent the products free-of-charge, but as usual, all words and opinions are my own. 


Wednesday, 4 May 2016

super easy DIY hanging print frame

I've been making some bits and pieces for our bedroom recently, and one of the things I've done is so flaming easy and effective and CHEAP, that I thought I'd share it on here in case any of you fancied having a go. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you... the DIY hanging print frame thingy!

You will need:

Two pieces of wood - mine were curved on the top and flat on the back, and were about £2.75 from B&Q!
Double sided sticky tape
A hacksaw
A glue gun and glue sticks
A print of your choice

1. Decide which way up your print is going to be framed, and then measure the top and bottom sides.

2. Add 3cm onto this measurement (1.5cm for each end), and mark the length onto your piece of wood.

3. Using the hacksaw, cut the wood to the desired lengths.

4. Cut a piece of string long enough to hang the frame from, and attach to the flat side of the top part of your frame using the glue gun.

5. Cut a piece of double sided sticky tape the same length as the wood, and stick over the string on the top part of the frame. Repeat for the bottom piece.

6. Unpeel the backing from the tape, and place your print in the centre of the wood. Press down firmly, so it sticks well.

7. Repeat for the bottom half.

8. Hang, admire and make yourself a well deserved cuppa!

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

three easy ways to capture the iconic look

As a former hoarder, it's always hard not to fill up shelves with ceramics or squash in one more piece of furniture - so when Furniture Village released their new lookbook for SS16, the section on Iconic Style really appealed to me.

This style is all about keeping it minimal, but with a modern twist - beautiful, simple furniture combined with pops of colour and natural wood make it an easy look to achieve in your home, whatever your budget. Today, I've got three top tips on how to get the look yourself, whether you're thinking of changing all your furniture or just some cushions.

1. Look for clean lines
The real key to capturing the Iconic Style is to keep everything really simple with plenty of clean lines; Ercol chairs and dining tables are perfect, and any accessories should be fuss-free with subtle detail. Industrial lighting is ideal for this particular trend, as the simple metal shades mean it fits right in.

2. Choose natural wood
Wood is a big look this spring and summer, and you don't have to be looking for furniture to get involved. Vases, bowls and plant pots are all great ways of adding this particular style to your home - simply add some bright and cheerful flowers or leafy green plants to complete the look. If you do happen to be shopping for bigger items, try chairs, tables and sideboards with the grain left showing through to capture that natural look.

3. Consider black
A lot of people are afraid of adding black to their home, but keeping it minimal and mixing it up with colourful accessories will keep things looking bright and fresh; try candlesticks or napkins for table accents, or add a monochrome cushion here and there to add depth to your room.

For more tips on how to capture this great spring look, head over to the Furniture Village website.

Many thanks to Furniture Village for collaborating on this post.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

great spots to visit: petersfield

The Blacksmith's Daughter
If you love your plants and flowers, any trip to Petersfield needs to include a visit to The Blacksmith's Daughter. Tucked away behind the main road, this flower-filled haven is the first place I go when I'm looking for something special; buckets of soft white ranunculus jostle for space with colourful hyacinths, and the old wooden table at the front is laden with potted plants and succulents. It's one of my favourite places to potter around in, and I've never left empty handed.

The Happy Cow Farm Shop
If you're a lover of good quality, local produce, then the Happy Cow is going to seem like a goldmine when you visit. Packed full of everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to artisan bread and locally produced jams and chutneys, it's one of those places that makes you want to potter about in the kitchen, making lovely things to eat (even for me, and I'm absolutely the worst cook EVER).

The Natural Apothecary
We only recently tried this little place for the first time - we usually drive past it on the way to the market, but when the kiddos were at their Grandparents a few weeks ago, we popped in for tea and cake. It was SO GOOD. Firstly, the decor inside is amazing; lots of old bottles, beautiful wallpaper and an incredible set of drawers at the back, and heaps of vintage apothecary tools dotted on the shelves at the front. Secondly, the menu is incredible - we just had coffee, tea and cake (the vegan chocolate - yes, yes, yes), but they also offer breakfast and lunch, with plenty of vegan, vegetarian and wholefood options. You can also stock up on teas and healthfood items to take away and enjoy at home.

The Market
Petersfield actually has two markets, one every Saturday and the farmers market on the first Sunday of every month. The farmers market is basically a foodies heaven; they sell everything from bread and cakes to meats, cheeses and deli items, all locally produced and many organic. The Saturday market is a bit more varied (and my favourite!); the artisan bread stall is incredible (I strongly recommend the cinnamon loaf and the pumpkin bread), and the tea stall next door has a great selection. A quick wander will take you past two wonderful flower stalls, the fruit and vegetables and a vintage stall with amazing flower pots and rugs - plenty to tempt everyone!

Petersfield Heath
Whenever the weather is nice in the summer, we head here on a Sunday morning - with 69 acres of land to explore, it's a great way to pass the time. There are two play areas, a cafe which serves hot and cold drinks, cake and sandwiches (and duck food!), toilets, fishing opportunities, plenty of benches and seats to relax on and of course the lake to walk around. It's always clean, safe and well looked after - definitely one of our favourite places to visit.

Monday, 25 April 2016

five essentials for a heavenly bedroom

We swapped rooms with the kiddos last year, and it's taken me ages to get round to actually doing anything with out new space; it's teeny tiny - there's only enough room for a bed and a wardrobe - which means it's really hard to make it look 'done' without being overcluttered. After all the umm-ing and ahh-ing, I've whittled the list of bedroom decor 'essentials' down to a manageable five - which is practically nothing to a former hoarder like me!

1. Good bedding
Considering we spend a whopping third of our lives asleep (although it might not feel like it if you've got children!), bedding is one of the most important things you'll buy for a bedroom. A lot of people swear by high thread-counts and luxury brands, but honestly, my favourite set is from Wilkinsons - it's the softest one we've had so far. Zara Home and H&M are great for good quality basics (although H&M seem to carry some pretty weird sizes), but if you're looking to spend a bit more, try Soak and Sleep or The Linen Works.

Image courtesy of Bruno

2. A decent mattress
I've slept on budget mattresses before, and I can tell you that it's much better to spend the extra money than it is to lose feeling in one side of your body every night. A good mattress is so important, and can make huge differences to everything from standard aches and pains to posture and body temperature. Based in Germany, Bruno is a company that manufactures mattresses with a difference - combining a removable, quilted cover, a hypoallergenic top layer and a unique 7-zone support base, they've managed to design a single mattress that suits everybody. (They're also hugely environmentally friendly - the latex is organically farmed and the fabric manufacturer is a family-run firm, AND they've designed their packaging to save energy. Top marks!)

3. A rug (or two, if it's a big space!)
The bedroom in the top picture is my idea of perfection; it's airy and uncluttered, but still manages to look 'finished'. What makes it really great, though, is the rug - our room is nowhere near big enough to have a rug (maybe a bathmat at the end of the bed?), but if it were, I'd definitely choose the one in the picture (it's the Belle by Modern Rugs). Rugs are great, not only for adding texture, but they can also work brilliantly to hide an ugly carpet or chipped laminate.

4. A row of hooks
I love hooks on the wall - I've got loads of nice straw bags and baskets, prints, scarves and so on that I like to rotate on display, but all the ready-made hooks we found were really small, and just made everything look all squashed together. In the end, Ali made a huge set from an old floorboard (you could easily just get a piece of furniture board from B&Q which would do the same job) and seven Svartsjon hooks from IKEA screwed into it - I love it, because it almost covers one entire wall, and there's enough room for everything. If you can't be bothered with faffing around, IKEA have also just brought out the Falsterbo wall rail with hooks - one isn't that large, but they can be screwed into the wall with the ends flush, so several would look like one long item.

Image Courtesy of IKEA

5. Plants, plants and more plants
A room without plants is not a finished room, fact. They add a bit of nature and colour to the room, they clean the air and they look great. What more do you need?!

Many thanks to Bruno for collaborating on this post. 

Friday, 22 April 2016

gardening with kids: five top tips

The weather here today is awful, but it's supposed to pick up over the weekend, so I'm planning to spend the whole time at home - we've got heaps of little DIY jobs to finish, and I've not started on the garden at all yet this year (so behind!) so there's not really any time for coffee shops and pottering (boo!).

Whenever I do anything in the garden, the kiddos immediately want to be involved; Ben will sow a couple of seeds and then wander off to look for insects, but Daisy wants to have a go at EVERYTHING. In the beginning, it was a bit of a power struggle between us; she'd want to do something her way, and knowing that it wouldn't work, I'd try and persuade her otherwise. It would usually end with compost everywhere, scattered seeds and tear stained faces - but over the last couple of years I've picked up some ways to make things a whole lot easier.

1. Get a set of mini garden tools
One of my biggest problems was Daisy charging around the garden, using the rake as a pretend horse - I couldn't relax in case she fell over and impaled herself on the damn thing. A set of mini tools will make them feel like a gardener in their own right, and will be easier for them to handle - you can buy anything from simple trowels and forks to rakes, hoes and wheelbarrows (which will, let's face it, be used more for wheeling siblings around than anything else).

2. Involve them in choosing seeds and plants
It might just be me, but I think there's something really exciting about poring over seed catalogues and staring at the racks in the local garden centre (plant geek!) - all that possibility in such tiny packets! You might already have a rough plan of what you want in your garden, but letting the kids choose some seeds of their own will mean they're invested in the whole growing process from the very beginning.

3. Teach them about garden safety
One of my biggest mistakes was trying to remove everything that was hazardous from the area, rather than educating the kids about it. Obviously with toddlers, this isn't possible, but once they have a basic grasp of danger, you can teach them about poisonous plants, thorns, stinging nettles and any chemicals that you might have in your gardening arsenal (we don't use anything chemical-based, but I know a lot of people do).

4. Buy some children's gardening and nature books
In the same way gardening is a learning curve for adults, it's the same for children - they're probably not going to want to sit and watch Gardeners World with you (although you can try and convince them, like I did!), but there are plenty of books aimed at youngsters which will get them fired up. We love Miffy in the Garden, The Little Gardener, Eddie's Garden and The Tiny Seed.

5. Give them their own area of the garden
Nothing makes children want to take care of something more than when they feel like it's their own - section off a sunny corner of a flowerbed, give them a long trough to fill with compost or supply them with a few flowerpots and let them do with it whatever they like. Even if that does just mostly involve digging holes!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

weekend in pictures: sunshine and DIY

I haven't done one of these posts in absolutely ages, so last weekend I grabbed my camera and took a few pictures. Here's what we got up to!

1. We pottered about in Southsea, spotting loads of hanging baskets and planters bursting into life. I found these outside a local coffee shop, and now I'm thinking about doing something similar on the wall in our garden!

2, 3 & 4. I popped into Home Coffee in Southsea to grab some goodies to take away, and then we wandered up to the park on the seafront. It was soooo sunny and lovely - the first time we've been in months and I've not felt absolutely freezing!

5, 6, 7 & 8. I spent a happy hour browsing through the plants at our local garden centre; I've been so slack this year with sowing seeds, so I bought a few 'backup' seedlings - sweet peppers, peas, tomatoes and kale. Oh, and two more succulents - because what I really need is more houseplants to kill!

9. I've been working on a crochet project for myself, and finished blocking it over the weekend - you'll be able to see it in the bedroom makeover post on the blog next week!

10 & 11. Our neighbourhood is absolutely full of blossom, and I can't walk past a tree or bush without snapping a few pictures!

12. We've almost finished our bathroom, and were lucky enough to be gifted this amazing mirror from One World Trading - it's got a shelf attached, which is a great place to put toothbrushes and little soaps. And more plants, obviously!

I've also joined Snapchat in the last week or so - I'm on there as owlandaccordion if you want to follow along. I'm probably more active on there than here - I love that you can have loads of fun with all the filters, but don't need to edit anything!
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