The stunning new showroom of interior designer Rachel Usher

Interiors by Rachel Usher showroom at Bawtry, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire

As soon as I walked into Rachel Usher’s new interiors showroom in Bawtry, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire, I sensed something special.

As we talked over a cup of tea, that thing I couldn’t at first put my finger on became clearer.

It wasn’t just Rachel’s passion for design – many people have that – but the clarity of her vision, her determination to see it realised and her love for and belief in design: that beauty and authenticity in a home is not frivolity, it’s something meaningful and worthwhile that helps us lead happier and more fulfilled lives.

Interiors by Rachel Usher showroom at Bawtry, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire

Interiors by Rachel Usher showroom at Bawtry, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire

To me, the 39-year-old seemed born to be creative, a natural, and someone brought to life by design.

So I admit to being slightly taken aback when she told me about her previous career. Read More →

New Quay, Ceridigion, Wales

Boy, were we in need of the break.

In the end, we didn’t need to be away for long. Just a few days, with fresh air, open sky and nothing in particular to do. Just a little time like this – after just one day of lazing and reading in fact – and I felt my body had pretty much reset itself. The last few months at work, full of frenetic activity and frequent anxiety, were a world away.

It was a five hour drive to New Quay on Wales’ Ceredigion coast but worth it. This campsite at Cei-Bach had been recommended to us, and we were pretty much in love from the minute we arrived. It had rather too many caravans for our liking – and they’d nicked all the best pitches – but if you’re after peace and quiet, hidden beaches and mesmerising views then this must be a hard place to beat.

Day two was cloudier so we set about walking a section of the Ceredigion coast path, which is helpfully just a few steps from the campsite. It was really easy to follow the path along the coast to the pretty fishing town of Aberaeron (about 5 miles away).

Ceredigion coastal path, Wales

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Summer is…

I’m in the middle of two weeks off from work – and I hear I may have dropped on a mini heatwave.

My phone weather forecast is predicting the temperature here will hit a slightly scary 30°C during next week!

We’ve already had a couple of days away camping in Wales, when we walked, watched dolphins from the harbour and I actually had a day of sitting around doing very little (for the first time in months) other than reading and listening to the sea.

I’ll share more on that little trip, but here’s a rather pretty taster.

Ceredigion coastal path

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Introducing: Object Style

I first met Rachael Adams when she organised Home is in the North in Manchester. I made no secret of how much I enjoyed that event and approved of the friendly, interactive vibe and the brands chosen to be part of it.

A few months ago, Rachael began to post on Twitter and Instagram under a new name. The things she shared were simplistic and beautiful; I often felt like she’d read my mind and interpreted my desires in imagery.

I was intrigued about where it was heading, and finally last month Rachael launched Object Style.

She describes it as a luxury concept store fusing minimalism with femininity. It’s designed by and for creative women; a collective of independent female-led brands that create one-off wares for the home, wardrobe and wedding.

Object Style look book

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DIY painted sputnik pendant

While our living room has taken shape nicely after the renovation, until recently the ceiling has been quite bare.

That was until a couple of weeks ago, when we added this striking pendant light.

DIY spray painted Wayfair sputnik pendant light

I’ve admired these striking sputnik-style light fittings for some time. They’re easier to find in the US than in the UK, and are usually pretty expensive (starting at a few hundred and going up to a few thousand pounds). I wasn’t sure I could justify the outlay, or that my humble home was fit for a mid-century icon.

But when do-it-yourself-décor guru Kimberley made over an £80 B&Q light fitting with gold spray paint, she planted a seed in my head that has been growing roots for the best part of a year.

So when Wayfair invited me to choose some items that I could give my own DIY touch to, I knew what my first project would be.

This pendant (£84) comes in chrome, and I decided to paint it metallic black. Although I was initially a tad nervous about ruining a perfectly good light, the new colour fits in far better with the rest of our room and I love the finished look. I often just stare at it, admiring it from different angles.

Hop on over to the Wayfair blog for the full, step-by-step DIY, and look out for my other projects coming soon.

What do you think?

Are you a fan of sputnik lights?

Elderflower foraging and meal at Crafthouse Leeds

In all my visits to the bars and eateries of Trinity Leeds, I hadn’t until recently made it to Crafthouse.

I’m pleased that my first visit was such a great one, at the fine dining restaurant’s first elderflower foraging event.

At Crafthouse and its upstairs sister Angelica, elderflower and gooseberry form a large part of the menu in the summer. We were to be served a three course meal inspired by the two, after learning from head pastry chef Stefan Rose how to find, pick and use elderflower.

Elderflower foraging event and meal at Crafthouse Leeds Read More →

Life lately and finding space

My blog has been neglected of late.

Letting go and accepting I wouldn’t update for a few weeks – that I couldn’t – wasn’t easy. I haven’t really had a dry spell since I started blogging more than three years ago.

The first five months of this year have been demanding and non-stop at work, but now the pressure has eased slightly it’s made room in my mind for thoughts like whether I should expect more of myself, in terms of what I do for a living.

I enjoy my job a great deal, most of the time, and it’s often challenging and rewarding. Even so, I’ve been wondering whether there might be something more fulfilling elsewhere, and whether – settled and content as I am – I’m giving my job my all.

Am I being ambitious enough? Would taking a leap be worth the risk? Is it always worth taking a chance, even if it doesn’t work out – because at least you know and you’ve tried?

As some sort of work normality resumed, I’ve had the chance to take some time out and I’ve forced my conscientious little self to take it: hence, the brief blog break.

I love my blog, I love what it brings, and I love that I have a place where I can put my thoughts into some kind of order.

But it will never be my living: I don’t expect it to ever cover my mortgage, and I wouldn’t want it to. So is it right to invest so much time and energy in it, often at the expense of other things that are more important? To give myself additional tasks, pressure, deadlines, responsibilities even after the end of a demanding working week?

Of course, the answer is: everything in moderation. My blog is more than a hobby, but it can never come before my career, my relationships, or my well-being and peace of mind.

I’m pleased to be back here, but I’ve needed the space.

Anderby Creek, Lincolnshire

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The City Girls, Sheffield

I am so late posting about The City Girls‘ first event that they are well on their way with organising the second. Apologies.

It was at the end of April when Holly-Lucy and Lorna finally saw the fruits of their labour, as their first blog event came to life at Bloo 88 in Sheffield.

It turned out to be one of the nicest blog events I’ve been to. It was great catching up with Emma again (over afternoon cocktails), there were lots of things to do and try, the girls even laid on pizzas and we raised money for charity.

The City Girls event Sheffield

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Budget balcony makeover

As some of you will know, our next big job on the house renovation is to fix up the outside.

In fact, as I write, my dear husband is digging and hammering outside. (Shortly I’ll have to withdraw to provide due admiration for the drains he’s fitting).

Knowing how quickly design decisions can creep up on you, I’ve now begun to think about how we might like the garden to look. So taking part in this project was fitting.

I was asked by Leeds letting agents Morgans to help them show tenants how they can give an apartment balcony a stylish makeover to make it a summer sanctuary.

Our task was to choose 10 high street items within a £150 budget.

There are two other lovely bloggers taking part – Kay and Simone – with vouchers to be won for the maker of the mood board with the most votes.

Hop on over to the website to have a look at all our choices – and please vote for my selection if you like it!

Competition with Morgans Leeds to makeover a balcony on a £150 budget

Bearing in mind balconies are usually fairly small, I chose items that I felt would make the most of the area by using all sides of the space – like the Ikea wall panel that plants could hang from, and the festoon lights for stringing overhead.

I also injected colour: we have this barbecue for camping which works a treat and it’s a perfect match for the pink plant bags (which are total bargains by the way).

Just because you only have a small space, it doesn’t mean you can’t try growing a few vegetables or encourage wildlife. What would be more soothing than watching butterflies come and go in this wall-mounted ‘hotel’ as you and the city wind down after work?

I hope you like my selection, and that it might have given you one or two ideas for your own outside space.

Don’t forget to have a look at the Morgans website for full details and links, and to vote for your favourite.

Kitchen renovation on Bob Vila

Just popping up a quick post to let you see our kitchen renovation featured on American home and DIY blog Bob Vila.

The site editor asked me a few questions by email a few weeks ago, and the feature went live this week.

Bob Vila screen shot

Thanks and hello to the hundreds of Bob Vila readers who have popped over to my blog in the last few days!

I’m sorry that blog updates will be scarce throughout May. I’m having to put all my energies into my day job just at the moment. Thanks for bearing with me :)

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