Tuesday, 31 March 2015

a week of spring: behind the scenes with sofa bed sofa

If I told you that the photograph above was of a furniture showroom, you probably wouldn't believe me; after all, it doesn't look like your typical showroom - but the owners aren't your usual furniture company, so it works out well! You all know by now that I love, love LOVE championing independent businesses and anything made in Britain here on the blog, so for the next installment of A Week of Spring, we're going behind the scenes with artisan furniture makers Sofa Bed Sofa - who are currently offering all customers the opportunity to spend the night in their incredible country barn. Sign me up!

Founded by Steve Parsons, the company came to life after he spent a particularly uncomfortable night on a friends sofa bed, and now produces what are almost certainly the most comfortable sofas and sofa beds in the UK. There are a whopping ten models to choose from, which vary in size and style, and come in a range of colours and finishes - each sofa is completely bespoke for the customer, who can pick and choose everything from the fabric and the mattress right down to the feet colour. The one thing I noticed immediately about the range was the beautiful simplicity; I love the clean lines, solid shapes and wooden feet. Perfect!

Based in rural Wiltshire, the sofas, armchairs and sofa beds are designed by the creative team, who spend time flying all over the world to gather inspiration, and are then brought to life by a group of local craftsmen. As well as making sure each model 'sits like a sofa and sleeps like a bed', the company work hard to keep their environmental impact to a minimum (love!); fabrics and materials are all sourced from within the UK, and the wooden frames are made from kiln dried wood taken from a sustainable supply.

I was lucky enough to grab some time with Steve, so I could grill him about Sofa Bed Sofa and the design processes.

What made you start a company that designs and manufactures sofas and sofa beds?
A few years ago, following a disasterous nights sleep on a friends sofa bed, I decided that there had to be a better design out there - but when I looked into it, the range and quality of sofa beds on the market was very poor. I have over thirty years experience in the furniture business, so I researched and designed a range of sofas, sofa beds and chairs using top quality fabric, mattresses and the best folding bed mechanism on the market.

I love that everything you design is produced in the UK - why are you so keen to champion products made in Britain?
My interest in using British manufacturers stems from my previous experience in dealing with companies that are based abroad. Delays, costs and unreliable quality are inevitably passed onto the customer - when there are so many skilled craftsmen in the UK, this seems a natural solution.

What sets you apart from other furniture designers and manufacturers?
What sets me apart? Not always a virtue -  I'm fanatical about detail with a genuine passion for quality and design, I closely oversee our processes - probably not making myself very popular with the workforce!

Have you got a favourite part of the design process?
Definitely being hands on with choosing fabrics, visiting shows and mills to source the best quality and designs at the best prices.

Finally, which is your favourite sofa, sofa bed or chair and why?
If I had to choose, I'd say our Flair design - it's hard to put my finger on it, but something about Flair just seems to have got it right.

As well as using the best fabrics, being environmentally conscious and manufacturing ethically here in the UK (these people are practically Saints!), starting from the beginning of April, Sofa Bed Sofa are inviting customers, bloggers and members of the press to road test their sofa beds by spending the night in their gorgeous Wiltshire barn showroom. Every guest will be treated to complimentary refreshments, breathtaking rural views and a fabulous nights sleep - what better way to welcome the spring than with sweeping landscapes and fresh country air?

To celebrate the discovery of a company that champions British manufacturing, I've made a fun 'Best of British' board over on Pinterest; expect beach huts galore, lashings of scones and cream, plenty of tea and some beautiful countryside. Tally ho!

To find out more, to see the full range of products, or to book a night in the barn, head to the Sofa Bed Sofa website, or simply get in touch with the team on 01380 828 666.

Many thanks to Steve for taking the time to answer my nosy questions. All images remain the property of Sofa Bed Sofa, and may not be reproduced without prior permission.

This is a collaborative post.

Friday, 27 March 2015

a week of spring: fresh and bright homewares

To celebrate the official start of British summertime (although not that sacred lost hour of sleep!), this week on The Owl and the Accordion is going to be a complete Spring-fest; I've lined up some great homewares, a peek behind the scenes at a great British furniture maker, some crafty tutorials, ideas for getting out and about with the littluns and a fabulously fresh frugal Friday at the end of the week. Phew!

I'm kicking things off today with a roundup of the lightest and brightest homewares around at the moment; think geometric prints, quirky ceramics and cheery flashes of colour - and the best news is that nothing is over £35. Bargain!

1. Tripod Lamp at Asda, £35 (sold out online, but still available in stores)
2. Moomin Jug at Cloudberry Living, £33
3. Sagaform Teapot at Cloudberry Living, £28.50
4. Blue Flex Light at Asda, £7
5. Floral Washi Tape at HEMA, £3
6. Bedding at H&M Home, £19.99
7. Mirror at H&M Home, £12.99
8. Glass Vase at HEMA, £1 (yes, really!)
9. Printed Glass Bottle at H&M Home, £7.99
10. Isak Familjen Cups at Cloudberry Living, £28
11. Printed Cushion Cover at H&M Home, £3.99
12. Printed Cushion Cover at H&M Home, £7.99
13. Wall Clock at HEMA, £5

Thursday, 26 March 2015

bloggers at home: abigail and the future

I'm really happy to be back today with another Bloggers at Home post; this time I'm chuffed to be featuring the lovely Abigail from Abigail and the Future, and her heavenly lounge full of pastels and books (a winning combination in my eyes!) I started reading Abigail's blog a while back, and have always been in awe of her incredibly beautiful photography; she manages to nail that coveted balance between dreamy and realistic every single time, and her little family make the perfect subjects. One to add to the reading list for sure!

We bought our first house last summer, and to say it needed some TLC is an understatement. We'd only lived in rented houses before, and were itching to have our own place where we could rip unsightly woodchip paper off of the walls and yank up old carpets - which we did with glee on the first few days without really thinking it through that we'd have to live with untreated floors for months. Whoops!

Our living room is small but central to the house, and was a bit of a dumping ground while we sorted out the other rooms. The walls were painted a horrible yellow and there was a worn carpet covering the floor; I had dreams of ripping the carpet up and finding perfect floorbards, but unfortunately they were stained dark and not great at all.

We lived with re-plastered walls and those horrible floorboards for a while, until I'd had enough and demanded that we finally decorate - we went with pastel pink walls and white floorboards after spending probably too much time on Pinterest!

It's been a slow progress since then, adding bits and pieces here and there, but I feel like it's finally coming together. Most of our furniture is second hand bar the sofa and table; I love our Ercol style dining chairs that were handed down, second-hand armchair from Gumtree and the sideboard which was handmade by my father-in-law. An antique pine bookcase holds our novels, whilst our new shelves from IKEA hold some favourite photography books, graphic novels and a small amount of vintage cameras from my collection.

I love it when rooms and possessions tell stories and provide a glimpse into peoples personalities and lives - I hope that over time ours will continue to hld our favourite and treasured things!

Huge thanks to Abigail for taking part in the Bloggers and Home series; you can catch up with her at Abigail and the Future, or get her over on Twitter or Instagram

Friday, 20 March 2015

frugal friday: funky kids shoes for under £25

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know that last weekend, we took the kiddos out to get some new shoes; Ben needed new school shoes, and Daisy just needed something that wasn't wellies, so we trudged off to Clarks to get their feet measured. The whole experience was an utter nightmare; Ben is autistic, and finds shopping overstimulating - there's way too much to see and too much going on for his brain to contend with, and he just goes into overdrive. Daisy is two, and behaves like a typical two-year old; touching things, throwing things, wanting things, screaming for things..... the pinacle of the day was when she decided to lay down on the floor in H&M and refuse to move. On the plus side though, we found some great shoes for both of them; Clarks are absolutely killing it with their sneaker range at the moment, and Zara were as fantastic as usual - they have trainers that look like flamingos. Flamingos!

1. Glitter sneakers and printed sneakers, both at Clarks, £22 and £24
2. Fringed Boots at H&M, £17.99
3. Navy Buckle Shoes by Little Bird at Mothercare, £15
4. Flamingo Trainers at Zara, £22.99
5. Lightning Bolt Hi-Tops at H&M, £14.99
6. Leather Sandals at Zara, £22.99

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Thursday, 19 March 2015


The day we got married was the hottest of the year so far; 3rd July 2010, I remember the sweat trickling down my back (yum) as I walked up the aisle to the sound of the Wannadies. We've never had much money; we don't earn a great deal, and we're not great at saving either, so everything was done on a strict budget. My dress was £200 from eBay (never worn, it still had the tags attached - the previous owner had bought two as she couldn't decide between them), the Husband's wedding suit came from Paul Smith, where I worked at the time (skinny fit blue cord, I still love it now!), the flowers were from a local silk flower mill and we had a buffet at a country pub. The wedding cake consisted of three layers bought from Asda, stacked precariously by my Mum and I and then decorated with sugar hearts and flowers, and we did little bags of sweets as favours. It was a fuckload of work, but we managed to do everything for £2,000, then went home at the end of it all, watched Paranormal Activity and ate fish and chips. Then we went to Brighton for three days for our honeymoon.

Images: Left, right

I have some lovely memories from the day, but there's a nagging thought in the back of my brain that it wasn't quite what I wanted. I'd always dreamed of getting married in the church where I was christened, and we passed it up at the time because it was so much more money - but now we're a bit more stable financially, we've decided to have a blessing and a little celebration afterwards. I'm not repeating the long, white dress thing - this time I'm going for something fifties style (oooh, in mint green maybe!), and we're going to have our little celebration outdoors afterwards. I'm aiming to grow the flowers in the garden, make the cake myself and serve everything on my own vintage plates (packs of buffet food from Waitrose or M&S, fresh fruit and fairy cakes!) - and if we don't manage it before, we might even get the kids christened at the same time. Three birds, one stone!

I've got pretty clear ideas about how I want everything to look; minimal fuss and minimal effort - basically, just a giant party. The only thing I've been stumped with so far is the invitations; for our wedding, I printed out the words and then inserted them into little cards with illustrations of teacups on. Simple, quick and effective. But this time, I'm not really sure what to do; it's not a wedding, so what do you write inside? Do I need to send save-the-date cards? Do you even send invitations, or should I just create a Facebook event?! I'm a bit of a stationary geek, so I definitely want to send something - the lovely folks at printed.com have a great range which you can add your own artwork and lettering to really easily, and I'm quite tempted to have a go at that. To be honest, I can't be bothered don't have time to sit and faff about with layouts, so the thought of just uploading a file and then adding the text is like a dream come true. Plus, they have about a gazillion different cardstocks and finishes, and fantastical options like printing on both sides of the invite - something my knackered printer just can't seem to get to grips with!

Lastly, now we've decided to actually get on with saving and planning, the first thing I did was make a Pinterest board (duh!) to keep track of everything. If you're already a follower - sorry in advance for all the wedding spam coming your way!

Monday, 16 March 2015

february in pictures

When I posted 'January in pictures', I said that we'd not been up to much because we'd all been ill and the weather had been bad. February has just come to an end (thank GOD!) and we still haven't done much because.... we've all been ill and the weather was bad. 2015, so far, you suck.

Still, we did get a few chances to potter about and discover new places to eat and get coffee, as well as visiting some old favourites. The kiddos spent some time crafting, I finished my favourite magazine feature so far and it was my birthday, so not all bad.

Halfway through March, and the weather is starting to pick up down South; we've had some sunny (and dare I say it, warm-ish) days, and I've just received all my seeds for the garden this year. I'm doing mainly flowers, with some veg thrown in for good measure - nothing too taxing; the last two years have kind of taught me what does and doesn't do well in our garden, so there's less guesswork now. I'm particularly excited about planting a glorious bucket of sweetpeas given to me by a friend for my birthday; they're my favourite flower to grow, as they just give you so much. I'm also working on my first big crochet commission, which is why there are (even) less blog posts than usual, but I've got some craft tutorials lined up for the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned!

I'm teaming up with the lovely Fritha and Lori for the Style in your City linkup this week. Come and join in! 

Sunday, 15 March 2015

sunday style: top picks for spring

I haven't done a Sunday Style for a few weeks, but I've been doing some browsing over the last few days and there are SO MANY lovely things about at the moment. I do way more eBay and charity shopping than I do buying new (partly due to necessity, partly for environmental reasons and partly because I do love a good bargain), but there are a few things that have gone on my wishlist for Spring.
I've been searching for flat, gold slingbacks for a few years, after seeing some on someone else (it's been so long, I can't even remember where), and now Boden have bought out these gorgeous lovelies. I have no idea where I'd wear them, because I'm way more of a sneakers or chunky shoe type of girl, but I'm trying to go outside my comfort zone a bit with clothes at the moment. Plus, they'd look great with skinnies and a vintage blouse!
I love coloured trousers, and these ones from Fashion Conscience are a really lovely shade for Spring; despite being fair trade, they're still only £33 in the sale. I love Fashion Conscience; there are some really lovely, unique things on there which are all ethically produced, and don't have silly price tags either.
New Look are one of the first places I look when I'm looking for something new; they're really budget-friendly and tend to have some quite quirky bits if you look hard enough. I missed their denim dress last year, but I'm determined not to make the same mistake this year - I love denim, and it's so simple that it'd be a great base for a fancy necklace. Plus, it's got pockets!

From Left:

1. Boden
Favourite Cropped Cardigan - £45.00
Florence Skirt in Multi Seaside - £59.00
Polly Point Shoes in Gold Metallic - £79.00
Canvas Shopper in Multi Mini Hexagon - £19.00

2. Fashion Conscience
Petra Semi-Sheer Vest (since sold out, but there are plenty similar)
Komodo Fair Trade Sustainable Trousers - £33.00 reduced from £55.00
Veja Organic Sneakers - £68.00

3. New Look
Blue Denim Tunic Dress - £25.00
White Leather T-Bar Sandals - £25.00
Fringed Mini Duffel Bag - £16.00
Cat Eye Retro Sunglasses - £5.99

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