Living room detail

When it comes to home design that makes you happy, it’s all about the detail.

This is especially so for us, because as we renovate we’re trying to keep the walls and floors relatively neutral because we plan on selling up and moving on in two or three years.

So I wanted to show you some of the smaller features that make up the living room we love.

In case you missed it, the initial reveal and pictures of before, during and after the renovation are here.

Living room renovation: before and after Read More →

Living room reveal!

It’s a pretty momentous occasion, because I’m about to show you the outcome of our renovation of the last major room in the house. The last. Major. Room.

Having renovated the whole house in the last 18 months or so, it truly feels like a milestone. As you know when I’ve talked to you about the kitchen renovation, it’s all been quite a journey.

Because of changing the layout – knocking down and putting up a wall – we’ve done all the downstairs in one go, starting in about April last year and finishing around midnight on Christmas Eve. I kid you not!

Anyway, like proud parents, we think the living room looks beautiful. This year so far, each day I’ve come home I’ve looked forward to being here and really enjoyed and admired this room. I’ve felt proud and very lucky. This is how a home should make you feel, right? Secure, content, at peace and blessed. I hope this feeling lasts.

Living room renovation: before and after Read More →

Spring summer 2015 fashion

Few of us have the funds to clear out our wardrobes every season and fill them up again following new fashion trends.

And let’s face it, we don’t really want to. When the fashion weeks come round, I follow the runway looks with interest (and sometimes astonishment) to see the styles I might like to try a few months later.

But few of us will want to copy a look head to toe. Your boss isn’t going to approve of you turning up to work showing bare breasts under a mesh top.

So each season, it’s an exercise in which trends I like, want to follow and that would suit me. It’s an exercise in judging whether a trend is a flash-in-the-pan fad, or would give a decent pounds-per-wear return. And it’s an exercise in seeing what I already have that I can bring from the back of the cupboard, or perhaps upcycle and update.

I’m looking forward to the warmer, brighter, fresher seasons already, so here are some of the top trends coming our way for spring and summer 2015.

Denim

Not just jeans, but tailored pieces. Denim in the year 2015 will be more structured and sophisticated. And double denim is positively encouraged!

Blue is the colour of this spring and summer, and as it’s my favourite colour this pleases me no end. A pale-denim hue will be the most on trend.

Will I try or buy? I wear denim all the time so yes I’ll try, but probably not buy. I already have a denim shirt, dress and jacket and endless pairs of jeans. I might swap out my faithful skinny jeans for an older pair that have a slightly flared bottom.

Denim by Chloe spring summer 2015. Photo by InDigital Read More →

Planning an Italian road trip

Remember I said 2015 would be the year I would do more travelling and road tripping?

Let me tell you about the first adventure we’re planning. It’s a good one.

Travel. Planning a road trip in Italy. (800x536)

// ‘Explore’ pouch for travel documents is by Alphabet Bags at Let It Reign / I love summer and my Ray Ban Wayfarers / this ‘Great Escapes’ book has some brilliant inspiration for adventures – 50p from a recent car boot sale! //

My husband and I love travelling and although we’ve both seen quite a lot of the world, there are so many more places we’d like to go.

For the last couple of years for various reasons we haven’t really left the country so this year we both agreed the need to engage in some sun-chasing in foreign climes. Where, though?

While we love an odd day basking with a good book, we get easily bored on holiday and like to explore. We also love having a sense of freedom.

I toyed with a couple of destinations, but in the end – like the good wife I am – let my husband choose: and it was Italy. (He’s lucky it was a good choice otherwise I’d have got my own way as usual).

Apart from our ‘mini-moon’ in Venice, it’s not somewhere he’s been before. I spent a fantastic two weeks there with Alex shortly after graduating, jumping on and off trains and seeing some of Italy’s most iconic cities: Rome, Milan, Florence.

To feed the sense of freedom, he wants to do a road trip, something like what we did in France in 2012 (see: Paris; Dordogne).

It’s an appealing idea and in our experience the reality is just as good. You throw your tent into the boot, you cross into the continent from Dover and then Europe is your oyster. You have a few destinations in mind, but if you like somewhere you stay longer and if you don’t, you move on.

We’re thinking of heading south through Germany where we’ll call in on a friend, then pass through Switzerland or Austria before arriving in Italy. We’ll explore the area around the Italian lakes and Tuscany and Umbria, taking in Verona, Florence and possibly Rome if we have time, then come back via the French Riviera.

We haven’t got further in planning than this vague route but some brief research got me well and truly infected with the travel bug.

This is why I adore camping (especially since Cool Camping came along). Just look at these incredible sites that are likely to feature in our plans.

Camping Seiser Alm. Dolomites in Italy near Austria

↑ This breathtaking view is from Camping Seiser Alm, in the heart of the Dolomites in Italy, just over the Austrian border. Read More →

DIY painted coasters

I know I’m not the first to do a DIY like this and I’m sure I won’t be the last.

I love coming up with original projects, but when time isn’t on your side it’s good to keep the creativity ticking over by seeing something crafty you like, and trying it out for yourself.DIY painted cork coasters

Pinterest is almost awash with varieties of this type of project. You just take a set of simple cork coasters and paint on your own design using tape or a stencil. It really is as easy as that.

It takes a matter of minutes and – not to mention their practical use – I love the injection of colour and pattern these coasters give my room. Read More →

My Etsy art favourites

Now our house is beginning to look something like we always knew it could, we’re thinking of ways to make it our home.

A big part of this is thinking about what to put on the walls. In truth a significant part of me is reluctant to tap anything into our perfect surfaces, but I’m starting to tire of blank expanses of grey, white and taupe.

I think we’ll get a couple of picture ledges in the living room, because I reckon it’ll be less painful to make holes in a wall in a straight line, in one place, than it would be to drill them in more haphazardly. Plus, I love the look of art leaning against a wall.

Etsy is a great place to find really unique and affordable art, prints and printables.

Here are a few of my favourites. And guess what? The most expensive is just £24.

Be so good they can't ignore you print by The Motivated Type (570x570) (570x570) Read More →

What makes a comfy bed?

Last weekend, I threw a sort-of afternoon tea for some of my best friends, a chance to show off them the kitchen and living room now the rooms are pretty much finished.

It was also the beginning of my payback for all the times I’ve missed hosting a gathering due to the state of my living space.

I’ve been friends with these lovely ladies for ages – one of them for my whole life – and none of us could help but notice how our topics of conversation have changed over the last few years.

The subject for most of the afternoon? Bed. And not the activity that might go on there (as it would once have been) but getting the best rest in one.

There was talk of mattress types, thread count, how often you change and clean your duvet and pillows (made me feel very dirty, that one).

There’s no doubting that as you get older your bed becomes somewhere you relish retreating to, as opposed to (as it would also once have been) partying all the way through to breakfast.

It is now the place you necessarily replenish your batteries after a long and often taxing day. (By the way, did you see my post last week on tips for getting better sleep? I promise I’m not going to talk sleep-related subjects throughout the year, it’s just because it’s hibernation season).

We’ve had our bed and mattress for a long time, and it’s one of the things I’m really looking forward to replacing when the time is right (probably after the next house move, unfortunately). You can see it in this post about our bedroom renovation. It does the job, but it’s not one of those beds that instantly rejuvenates you. You know like when you’re at a posh hotel, and you elicit an involuntary ‘aaahhhh’ as you stretch your limbs through the crisp white linen?

With a metal frame, our bed sometimes feels quite cold, so I’d quite like the next one to be upholstered, with perhaps a studded or even tufted headboard.

Blue tufted headboard and grey campaign chest Read More →

New! DIY word art prints

Amid all the renovating and decorating – probably around the time husband had several solid days of sanding and I pleaded helplessness in the face of such an unpleasant task – I found a few spare days for making some word art prints.

You may have read this post (from nearly two years ago now – yikes!) about the first few I made, starting with this destination print charting my brother and his wife’s journey. It was my gift to them when they first became homeowners.

DIY word art black and white destination print new home gift

Fittingly then, this is what I made for their first born, a beautiful daughter Elsie, my niece and goddaughter. Just before Christmas we all went across to Belfast for her christening.

DIY word print wall art gift (1) Read More →

10 secrets of better sleep

I am, frankly – like most people – awful without enough sleep. As my husband will testify, I am most definitely not a morning person.

Luckily I don’t usually have a problem getting shut-eye but I have noticed that as I’ve got older my sleep can be more disturbed and I tend to wake up earlier.

Once insomnia takes hold, you can be in a vicious circle. You know how it goes: you’re awake, you need to be asleep, then you’re kept awake because of the knowledge that there’s only three or four hours until your alarm goes off and you have to get up and deal with the day.

So it got me thinking about whether I’m doing enough to guard against sleeplessness, and how to create the kind of pre-sleep environment that will help ensure I get the eight hours (give or take) a night I function best on.

I did a bit of research, and here are what I thought were the 10 most sensible tips for better sleep. Read More →

Goals for 2015

If 2014 was the year of getting things done, 2015 is the year I want to do more.

Let me make sense of that. There’s no doubt that in the last 12 months we’ve achieved a lot on the house renovation. In doing so, we’ve worked hard, committed a lot of time, energy and money and inevitably sacrificed other things.

We had to do it, to be able to enjoy the rewards. 2015 will be far more enjoyable because of all we did last year. Away for a day or weekend, I’ve no doubt we’ll feel far more content knowing the home we have made to come back to.

Our personal circumstances left us a little uncertain about the future and more cautious with money last year. In 2015 that may still be the case but this year I want to not put things on hold so much – I want to see and experience more.

I had too much of a tendency to say I’d do something when X has happened or after Y. Well, maybe I can’t do that particular thing right now. But is there something else I can do instead? Something that might end up being just as fulfilling, albeit in a different way?

In 2015 I want to do, instead of not do or make do.

Enjoy it because it's happening quote

// image from Pinterest / print by Petersen / quote from ‘The Perks of being a Wallflower’ by Steven Chbosky //

1. Do more reading

2. Do the garden and the outside of the house

3. Do more travelling, exploring, seeing and road tripping

4. Do less buying, and more making and experiencing

5. Do more being thankful

6. Do more thinking about my career

7. Do more exercise

8. Do more believing

9. Do more being patient

10. Do more saying yes

What are your goals for 2015?

Are they anything like mine?

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