Thursday, 15 September 2016

read: paper home

I follow quite a few crafters on Instagram and in the blog world, and while most of them tend to be the woolly variety (I spend way too long falling down the crochet and knit rabbit hole on there!), there are a few weavers, illustrators and paper artists on there. One of my absolute favourites is Origami Est (@origami_est on Instagram - go and follow along!), who makes impossibly wonderful things from paper; we're talking intricate vases, beautiful lampshades and the eternally popular paper diamonds.

Image Credit: Kristy Noble

Image Credit: Kristy Noble

Origami Est is the super talented Esther Thorpe, who has just released a book packed full of her origami patterns called Paper Home - I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to the launch, but as I couldn't make it, I was sent a copy of the book to review instead.

The closest I've ever been to origami is when I made some paper fanwheels at Christmas last year. It's always a craft I've admired and wondered about, but the lengthy baffling instructions and need for precision has always put me off a bit. The first thing I noticed about the book was that for every instruction in EVERY tutorial, there is a corresponding picture - this meant I instantly felt more confident before I even started, because I knew I'd have something visual to follow. There's nothing worse than trying to follow a complicated craft tutorial, and feeling that frustration that comes with not having a clue what the author is talking about! 

The book is laid out in a way that makes it really easy to get started; the introduction is a letter from Esther, where she talks about her history with origami and paper, and then goes on to advise beginners which projects to start with. Following that is a really helpful page on the type and quality of paper to use, and then a brilliant guide to accurate folding techniques. I'd never done actual, proper origami before, but after such a thorough introduction, I went into the first project feeling really confident.

I started with the triangular basket, and while mine didn't turn out quite as good as the one in the book, I was still pretty impressed with it. It was really simple to do, it looked great and more importantly, it didn't collapse when I picked it up! I followed it up with a couple of the party diamonds, which were trickier, but so worth it - our house is going to be absolutely full of these at Christmas this year!

There are heaps of projects I'm still dying to try; the book is laid out in three sections - Hang, Shelf and Wall, and there are some brilliantly imaginative projects. On my list are the pyramid fairy lights for the kiddos room, the star garland for our Christmas tree (OK, it's a bit early, but I like to plan ahead!) and the lampshade for my workroom. The photography is gorgeous and really inspiring, and the whole book was just as good, if not better, than I'd expected - definitely one to put on the Christmas list (or as a payday treat!)

I was sent the Paper Home book to review, however all words and thoughts are my own. Seriously though, I was always going to love it! 

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Five Top Essentials for a Cosy Garden Room

Above: Inspiration at H&M Home

If there's one thing I look for hopefully every time we move house, it's a place that has a garden room, shed or some sort of outbuilding (I'm talking warm and weatherproof, not old metal bicycle store!) We've got a conservatory in our current place, which is nice, but until recently it's just been my work area - which basically means it's packed full of old craft stuff I don't use anymore, and is usually a total mess. I've been having a pre-Autumn clear out though, which means I'm going to be making it a bit less work-y and a bit more home-y - I'm thinking somewhere bright and airy in the summer, and cosy in the winter. I've been trawling Pinterest and my favourite online shops for inspiration, and have come up with five easy tips to make the perfect garden room - so if you're creating a similar space read on!

1. Invest in a good building
If you're planning on using your shed or garden room on a daily basis, all year round, it makes sense to spend a little bit more on a well-made building; Lidget Compton have spent over thirty-five years perfecting the art of the outbuilding, and offer a wide range of options when it comes to garden rooms. Everything is customisable, from the size and roof height, to the finish; choose from brick, stone, texture or even timber-effect cladding for anyone who's looking for a more rustic-style retreat. Best of all, Lidget buildings are double-glazed and designed to be maintenance free, which means no sanding, treating or painting. Hurrah!

2. Choose comfortable furniture
A garden room should be somewhere you can relax, so it's important that any furniture not only looks good, but is also practical; opt for comfortable seating with plenty of cushions, and some shelves and baskets for easy storage. If you're on a budget, try local charity shops, eBay or Gumtree for second-hand bargains, or check out any house-clearances - if you're into vintage, these are usually a goldmine for great chairs, plant pots and even lamps. Better for the environment, too!

3. Add pile of cosy blankets
I think about blankets the way my friends think about shoes; you can never have too many. If you're going to have a shed, conservatory or garden room, you're going to need blankets - no matter how well insulated it is, it's going to be nippy in winter, and even the summer evenings get chilly. The ones above are from The Future Kept, who have pretty much the best selection of blankets in the world - pile them high in the corner, then cosy up on a chilly evening with a great book or some knitting or crochet. Heaven.

4. Include a good selection of books (or magazines!)
Because what could possibly be better than losing an afternoon surrounded by the outdoors, settled on a comfortable chair with a great book?! (I've got a big post on Autumn reading coming up next week - I've spent ages browsing Persephone Books lately!)

5. Don't forget the plants
Merge the outside with the inside by adding loads of plants to your garden room; if you're not great with keeping them alive, cacti and succulents are a brilliant option - they require almost no care - and spider plants are pretty hardy as well. Trailing plants like string of pearls or string of hearts are great for weaving along the top of shelves or hanging in a macrame planter, and a pilea plant is always a nice addition to any room (I've just found a great one, after years of looking!) Try Botany Shop or Geo-Fleur online, if you can't find anything local (be prepared to have a seriously long lust list after looking at their websites, though!)

Many thanks to Lidget Compton for collaborating on this post.

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