Wednesday, 31 July 2013

the kitchen

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll probably have seen bits and pieces of our home, but apart from that, I've never really featured it much here on the blog. I've shown some of our conservatory, and the lounge at Christmas, but to be honest, it's pretty much always a work in progress - two children, jobs, family, and more recently, the beautiful weather mean that nothing ever really gets finished. So when the lovely people at Money Supermarket asked if I'd like to take up their makeover challenge, I decided that I couldn't put off the inevitable any longer, and committed to finishing the *shudder* kitchen.

Being someone who is only just about competent in the kitchen, this is the one room that really doesn't interest me. I go in there because I have to, so it sort of became the room that I just ignored. To make matters worse, it's teeny tiny (you can touch either side of the worktop with both hands), and north facing, which means that it gets hardly any light - so any type of curtain makes it seem like it's the middle of the night, even on a bright, sunny day. And on top of all that, the front door opens directly into it, so it actually ends up being a mixture of a shoe-based dumping ground and a collection of madly patterned china. When we moved in, it had the worst artex all over the walls, was painted a bizarre dirty beige colour, and had scuffed, torn lino - given that it was rented, we never really wanted to spend a fortune, but there was only so much that I could put up with. We started by replacing the flooring with tiles, which was fairly cheap, and worked out at about £30, and then just came to a standstill, until Money Supermarket gave me the nudge I needed to actually get things finished.

The only photo I could find of it before was the one above - we decided to strip the artex away completely, and re-plaster it ourselves (a builder quoted us £250 to do the kitchen and the bathroom, as it was in there too, but we're tight skint on a budget), and this was taken when we were halfway through ripping the walls apart. Money Supermarket gave us £50 to spend to finish off the kitchen, which transformed our dark, dull, 1980's-esque kitchen into this:

It's light, it's bright and it's a nice mixture of modern and rustic, which is exactly what we were going for. We started by finishing the walls, which the Husband cost about £15 in plaster, and then painted them with paint we had leftover from doing the rest of the house. We took the doors off of some of the cupboards (you can't actually see those - it's on the opposite wall, and is the darkest part of the kitchen which makes it impossible to photograph) and used the space to store cookbooks, jars of pasta, plates and bowls, which made the space on the worktop more manageable. We used £8 to buy some new plates and bowls from IKEA, as our old ones were looking pretty sad, and mixed them in with the vintage printed crockery which broke up some of the patterns.

I honestly think nothing brightens up a room better than plants - I've fallen in love with my garden this year, and suddenly plants seem to be popping up in every room of the house as well, so it was inevitable that the kitchen would end up with some during its makeover. The cactus and blue glass bottle pictured below actually came from the bathroom, and the plants in the window came from IKEA, and were £3.50 each. A few months back, I saw the idea of hanging plants in a window on Pinterest, and I was sold on it straight away - it's the perfect way to decorate our window, without losing any light. I already had the pots (until last week they were full of marigolds that had seen better days), and I crocheted the hangers myself from my own pattern. The rail is also from IKEA, and was £2.00 - we tried drilling into the wall, but it was lined with metal, so we stuck it up with some No More Nails, shhh!

We added another rail to hold our pots and pans as well - this one was shorter, and only £1.50. I honestly cannot recommend these little rails enough - they've revolutionised my kitchen!

It's by no means my perfect kitchen (this would involve long wooden worktops, white brick-style tiles, plenty of open shelving and enough space to house a large wooden table), but it's also no longer a room that makes me want to go in there with my eyes shut. It's functional, but still cosy, and more importantly, everything now has a place. And in my eyes, that's fifty quid well spent!

The Shopping List:
Plaster materials - £15.00
3 x potted plants from IKEA - £10.50
2 x metal rails - £3.50
Plates and bowls - £8.00
Paint - leftover from other rooms
Glass jars for tea, coffee and biscuits (not shown) - £6
Jar for utensils (also not shown) - £2.50
Total: £45.50

Thanks to Money Supermarket for including me in their home makeover challenge.


Sunday, 21 July 2013


For those who follow me on Instagram (I'm a total addict - I'm OwlandAccordion if you want to find me), you'll have seen a few pictures of me messing about with vintage wooden crates last week. Occasionally for work, I have to dabble in a bit of product photography, and as a long-term fan of everything rustic, this was one of my favourite jobs.

Wooden crates as a coffee table - my favourite!
Wooden crates as a seating area
Wooden crates as plant and garden storage
I've got a long-term dream of replacing most of our furniture with one sort of wooden crate or another, and you can see plenty of wood and wire goodness over on my house and home Pinterest board.

(For anyone who wants to know, these crates are from Scaramanga, and the dimensions and prices can be found on their rather lovely website. They also do lovely vintage bottle crates!)

Thursday, 18 July 2013


Admittedly, with all the glorious weather we've been having lately, I haven't managed to spend as much time blogging as usual. Once my paid work is finished, sitting in front of a laptop while the sun beams in through the window really holds no appeal whatsoever - as we all know, the great British summertime is brief and fleeting, so it's practically the law to make the most of every sun-filled hour we get. That said, I've still been contributing to various magazines and websites, which leads me nicely onto the subject of this post - the arrival of issue four of Lionheart magazine - hurrah!

I wrote a short piece on my top ethical and eco-friendly clothing brands, from places to find the best environmentally friendly jeans, to ways to shop ethically on the high street.

It's a really great issue, with contributions from Hannah from Seeds and Stitches on potato printing, an interview with Kerry from Seventy Tree, a profile on amazing illustrator Oana Befort, and a beautifully written piece by Lionheart creator Helen on a week in New York.

To buy a copy (and you really should, it's ace!) head over to the Lionheart website, where you can buy one online. If you've missed issues one to three, you can also catch up and buy those as well - perfect for a beachy afternoon in the sun.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013


1. Still sowing seeds - there's plenty of growing time left yet, and Kale is great for Winter gardening (or so I'm told...) // 2. & 3. I've fallen madly in love with Kinfolk magazine. Stunning pictures and the most inspiring articles. // 4. Anniversary flowers from the Husband. Carnations are my absolute favourite. // 5. My knitted blanket is a sloooooow progress. // 6. I've been enjoying my Saltwater sandals and hippy-ish maxi dresses in the recent beautiful weather.

Monday, 8 July 2013

love fashion, hate sweatshops

If you've been following the blog for a while, you'll know I've posted heaps of times on making ethical fashion choices, shunning the high street and refusing to subscribe to the notion of 'fast fashion'. You'll also know that last year, I joined in with the fabulous Craftivist Collective and their incredible #imapiece project, which tackled the issue of global hunger - well now, they're back with a brand new mission, and it's one we can all get involved with.

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you'll have read about the factory collapse in Bangladesh which killed over 1,000 garment workers, who were making clothes for companies such as Benetton, Primark (of all the places I hate, I think Primark has to be the top of the list) and Matalan. These sorts of tragedies are all too common (you can read more about instances like this in Lucy Siegle's marvelous book), and aside from the large-scale disasters, there are other issues such as disgustingly low pay, unsafe conditions and child labour (and not to mention the environmental impacts these manufacturing processes have). The Craftivist Collective have joined forces with War on Want to tackle the issue of sweatshops - and the best news is that's is easy-peasy to join in with.

All you talented crafters, stitchers, and seamstresses reading (and I know an awful lot of you are very handy with a needle!), pick up your sewing kit, and get involved. Using whatever fabrics or materials you have to hand, simply construct one of the Craftivist Collectives mini banners, and then hang it in a public place (I was pondering on hanging mine from a shelf in Primark, ahem) and take a picture. The image will be used towards the creation of a patchwork of photographs, that'll be displayed at the Knitting and Stitching Show's Upcycling Academy in Autumn of this year - so not only do you get to help campaign towards the end of the abysmal sweatshop conditions, but you also get to be part of a major exhibition. That's a win-win, in my book.

For more information, see the Craftivist Collective website, and the campaign page at War on Want. For a bit of extra help, you can see a video on making your banner here, or even buy a kit from here.

All images used with kind permission from the Craftivist Collective.
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