Feeling Blue…

Despite the fact that our new kitchen is still several weeks off being usable, I have already found myself thinking about the finishing touches. Aside from the pretty things, on a more practical level I want to add to our current dinner service.

We currently have 2 sets of plates and bowls, our wedding set of Sophie Conran for Portmerion table and serve ware in a ten person setting, and a bog standard square white set for 4 that was from John Lewis. The idea is that we use the set of four day to day so the wedding set doesn’t get hammered, but so we don’t end up saving the Portmerion for absolute best if there are ever more than just the two of us, we get out the good stuff.

Restoration tableware, John Lewis // Indigo Dinner plate, M&S // Indigo serving bowl, M&S // Lascari Stoneware, Anthropologie //Coastal Tableware, John Lewis // 12 Piece lombard dining set, M&S // Denby Bloom Stoneware, Debenhams //Jardin des Plants dinnerware, Anthropologie

In reality, with Francesca being with us, we have used the Portmerion a lot more and it has made me realise that when we are a family of 3, with regular visitors, we are going to need more of the everyday stuff to avoid using the Sophie Conan every day. I prefer seeing my food against white plates, but because our island eating area will be white I like the idea of a bit of contrast. Given my current obsession with blue, I thought a slim blue rimmed set would be nice. There are so many blue and white sets around right now however that a pick and mix, mix and match would be easy to do if you were so inclined and very stylish.

So readers, what do you think? Are you fans of white plates or do you like a bit of contrast on your dinner table?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Sneak Peek: Bedroom in progress

Right now, things are BUSY. I hope you will excuse the lighter than normal schedule and bear with me while I get straight again. Meanwhile, I thought I would tell you what the hold up is…

Last Tuesday we caved and chose to get the bedroom walls lined with lining paper to give a perfect finish for painting. We had previously paid for them to be skimmed (lesson learned!) but cracks started to appear, which is inevitable in old houses and likely to only get worse as we shake it all again with the kitchen building work. We are so desperate to get back in there that we have since been flat out painting it. Everything needed doing and there was considerable prep work prior to actually getting on with the painting – ceiling, coving, woodwork, windows, doors and the walls, plus it’s not a small room so it has been an all consuming task each night after work and poor Pete has taken the brunt of it while I was at a hen party this weekend. (To be fair he is on the corresponding stag soon too!)

We are so close now but had to knuckle down and get it all done as the skirtings were last and had to be done before the carpet was delivered tomorrow. Now the end is in sight but the rest of the house is a mess, work has kicked up a gear, I have written work due for a course I am currently on, and the kitchen needs emptying before work starts in there. And at 24 weeks, I haven’t made time to do a single bit of exercise, which I feel pretty rubbish about.

So I need a few days to recharge and get sorted. Thanks for understanding.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Spring nesting…


Coral Paisley Jacquard bedspread – Zara Home

I’ve always been a fan of white bedding but at this time of year I’m always drawn to the pretty brights available in bedding sets. Everywhere I turn the patterns and prints are spectacular, especially the range of glorious florals that make perfect spring-summer sleeping sense.

I thought I would round up some of my favourites and see what you guys think?

Clockwise from tope L: Peach Georgette bedding set, Matthew Williamson at Debenhams // Overscale floral bedset, M&S // Alimar (pink floral) bedding from Debenhams // Summer Floral Bedset, M&S // Charlottenburg, Designers Guild // Wild Coast bedlinen, M&S

Of course, it requires quite a neutral room to pull off such a block statement of colour and pattern but if you already have that in place then it is such a cost effective way to update your space and make a massive impact. I’m particularly drawn to the blues I’m seeing in various prints…

Clockwise from tope L: Scion Shibori bedlinen from John Lewis // Bluebellgray abstract petals bedding from John Lewis // Blue Chroma bedlinen, Sheridan at Debenhams // Asilah blue bedlinen, Debenhams

What do you think readers? Are you tempted or are you still sticking with white?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Kitchen Update…

If my house update posts have seemed a bit thin on the ground, that’s pretty much for two reasons. Firstly, the whole thing has been so exhausting and frustrating so far that I really haven’t had the mental energy to write about it here as well as collecting quotes and co-ordinating the work. And secondly, well, there hasn’t been that much ‘progress’.


Our Kitchen, on display in the showroom

Last time I talked about the kitchen I talked about choosing the actual units and style. Plus I have mentioned the issues that prevented us from extending. We initially got involved with an architect when we wanted to see if there was a way around the pipe and there was, but it was expensive. That and I don’t know how realistic his plans were. We have continued to work with the architect and that has been one of the massive delaying factors. The drawings took longer than they should have, trying to get quotes took longer and now we are chasing engineers calculations on modified drawings. Why the modification I hear you ask? Well, because the grand designs the architect drew up were completely unfeasible. I thought that architects not only planned creative solutions but that they worked within the limitations of the structural requirements. Clearly our experience hasn’t been great, but I don’t want to generalise and I’m sure there are lots of great architects out there, ours just hasn’t been. In fact, all we needed was a builder and it’s a shame we hadn’t met the builder who did the work on our bedroom by then, because he has taken on the kitchen job and been a lot more helpful. Hopefully we’re starting work in a week or two, so we can actually see things come together.


Although I’m talking about an ‘Island’ here, we are actually having a peninsula than comes from the exterior wall but you can walk around on three sides, separating the working side of the kitchen from the social side :) so it will look something like this… Image via.

In the meantime, the interior plans have been ticking along. When we found our kitchen it was on display in the shop and miraculously the layout could be slightly rejigged to fit our plans. We had to buy an additional couple of units to finish it off but it meant we could afford a kitchen that was otherwise way out of our budget. As the display was being removed we had the option to buy the worktops and sink too. The worktop is a veined black granite but very unusual, because it has a matt ‘honed’ finish, like the graining on a soft leather handbag. (I posted a picture on instagram showing the finish this morning.) I really deliberated about this decision. It was a good price, but I really wanted marble. Not just for the look but for the pale colour to bounce more light around.


How honed granite looks in situ via Pinterest

On our kitchen research trips I asked lots of people about marble as a work surface and was met with a variety of reactions, from derision to outright patronisation. I was told marble was for show kitchens in the kitchens of the rich, that it would stain and I would regret it. Of course I already knew that, having extensively researched the pro’s and con’s. For those of you who don’t know much about worktops, one of the pro’s for granite is that it’s tough. Marble on the other hand is soft and porous. It can scratch, dent, crack or ‘etch’, which is the correct term for the marks that are left on the surface from acidic foods coming into contact with it. Lemons and tomatoes all have this effect and anything dark can be absorbed leaving stains that can’t be wiped off or cleaned with usual cleaning products because they are sucked in to the stone itself. Pretty terrifying stuff, right? The problem was, I still couldn’t stop myself from wanting it, so I decided to do a little experiment.

The majority of the nay sayers amongst kitchen salespeople simply didn’t want to sell us the marble and be responsible for us then telling them it had marked or stained etc and demanding our money back. Tracy, our kitchen designer basically dared me to try some red wine on it. As much as I told her I would look after it she convinced me that after a party one night or when we had family visiting, someone wouldn’t take care of the marble like I did and it might get ruined. So I put red wine o the bottom of a glass, left it on a marble sample I had and promptly forgot about it until a couple of days later. It left a hideous stain which of course didn’t come out. After a bit of google research I read somewhere that in Latin countries where marble is used all the time for worktops they simply clean it with bleach. And what do you know, out it came. It removed balsamic vinegar too. The etching was still there from the vinegar but that is really only visible when the light shines across the marble and highlights the difference in texture between the polished finish and the matt etched areas. If you go for a ‘honed’ (matt) marble finish, this is less obvious again.


Images via Pinterest 1 // 2

So, decision time. Right now, (although I’m having a last minute wobble with the anticipation of a toddler throwing spaghetti bolognese all over it!) the plan is a compromise. We are going to reuse the granite from the display along the back wall’s run of units, either side of the cooker and in the cabinet where the coffee machine etc will go. This will be harder wearing and give a fuss free prep area. On the island, (where the sink will be) we’re going with honed marble for the look I love. Fingers crossed it works!


Hopefully this is pretty close to how our kitchen will look from one end, looking pack towards the house. Image via.

Because of our limited space there isn’t going to be the option for a dining table but the island will have bar stools for feeding kids (and adults!) at on a daily basis. The Back wall run of units will be drawers all the way along for a sleek look and the sink area you see above will be rejigged to make one side of the island with dishwasher etc. My only gripe now is that the handles that came with the kitchen are chrome finish and I really wanted brass, along with brass taps. Now I’ve just got to decided on tiles, flooring and lighting. It feels never ending but I can’t wait to get it all done and finished. Preferably before Baby arrives!

So that’s it for now readers, I hope I haven’t bored you but it has been a long process. And we haven’t even started yet. Tell me it will be ok?! (Or if I’m making a huge mistake with something!!!)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS. If you happen to be interested in Marble, then here are some of the articles I researched from people actually living with Marble worktops:
Georgica Pond
For the love of a house
I also emailed Courtney Adamo for Advice who has this beautiful honed marble worktop.

Decorate with Flowers: Reviewed

At this time of year as spring blooms come into stores I’m always looking to brighten up the house with fresh flowers. Add to that the instantaneous transforming effect they have on any space means I’m using them more than ever at the moment to improve some of our work-in-progress rooms. As a result I was delighted to be asked to review and share with you the new book by Holly Becker and Leslie Shewring, Decorate with Flowers.


Now, I am an absolute sucker for a coffee table book and this one is so pretty it is definitely deserving of the title. The photography is beautiful, the colours and the flowers are super pretty and the best thing about it is that the ideas are accessible.

There’s no stuffy flower arranging tutorial here, just loads of simple ideas for displaying fresh flowers in your home and inspiration for using many items you might already have as containers. It’s a fresh look at flowers.

Holly and Leslie have used the homes of some famous bloggers (like that of Victoria Smith of SFGirlbyBay shown above,) and some of the photography is studio shot, along with some simple DIY’s the help you make the most of your blooms.

I loved the book – every thing from the design and photography to the friendly accessible tone and easy to implement ideas. It’s definitely worth treating yourself to and would make a gorgeous Mothers Day gift too.

DISCOUNT:
To order Decorate with Flowers at the discounted price of £16.00 including p&p* (RRP: £20.00), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG109.

I hope you like it readers!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

*UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

Decorate with Flowers by Holly Becker & Leslie Shewring, published by Jacqui Small @JacquiSmallPub

Spotted: Ikea [Brakig]

Todays find is almost so good that I didn’t want to share it. With my serious double lust over geometrics and pastels, I was in near heaven when I saw the new (limited edition) Brakig collection by IKEA. The result of a collaboration between IKEA and ArtRebels, it’s bang on trend.

The range is only available in-store (Boo!) which is good news in some ways as my immediate thought was that it would instantly become ubiquitous and I’d be so disappointed. The range is wide with everything from storage boxes and trays to textiles, furniture and wallpaper.


Image via DoorSixteen

Did I mention the wallpaper? I’m currently considering a geometric design for one of our bedrooms and its not a million miles away from the Brakig white background multi-triangle design. I won’t say how much the design I was coveting is per roll, but I will tell you that IKEA’s version is yours for five whole english pounds. And whilst it doesn’t look handprinted, it isn’t thin or flimsy or shiny either.


Image via AnyaAdores. Triangle print wallpaper available in white or black, and geometric print pale coral or grey.

I’m now wondering if I should have snapped some up – I certainly didn’t realise it was limited edition or in-store only at the time. But then, there’s always a reason to go to IKEA right?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Renovation Ruminations: Bright hallway ideas

As we’re currently getting the knock through done to our bedroom (into the dressing room) part of our house is resembling something of a building site. In order to avoid thinking about it I’m doing the sensible thing and fantasising about part of our house that I really dislike (decor-wise) and really want to change, but don’t have any plans to do so for probably a year or more. (We have already blocked up a doorway in the hall and have yet to move another, so there is no point decorating before that is done.)

Our hall has great bones but an old fashioned wallpaper below the dado rail and an abundance of cream paint. The floor is half decent as its one saving grace, along with the pretty bannister spindles. I’m envisaging a bright and light white painted hallway with a blue and white patterned modern wallpaper for practicality below the dado and lots of super bright accents.

I want to create a space that is bright, modern and welcoming with tons of personality and family friendly too. I just wish we could do it sooner!

What do you think readers?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Other rooms we have planned:
The Living room
The master bedroom
Kitchen plans part 1 and part 2

Spotted: Nkuku

A little while back a friend on Facebook shared the link to nkuku, a lovely online home store with lots of tempting home accessories and some salvage chic furniture. Funnily enough, when I was away in Wales 10 days ago I found lots of pretty things to buy in a house shop in Hay-on-Wye, and happened to notice that they were all from nkuku too. It must have been fate…

One of the biggest lessons I learned over the last few years whilst doing up the last house was that as lovely as it is to decorate, it’s the finishing touches that make a room look ‘done’. It’s my resolution to not scrimp on those details this time around so I’ll definitely be taking a look at nkuku.

What do you think readers? Up your street?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Old House Tour… Part 1

Hi guys!

It’s good to be back and I’m excited after a very refreshing break and some headspace. Thanks for coming back :)

Today I’m going to share some of the fab pictures of my house that The Lawsons (Laura and Pete) took for the Good Homes feature I mentioned last month. There were so many good ones that didn’t go in to the magazine that I’m going to do the downstairs first and then come back to the upstairs next week. I was thinking that you guys had seen all of this but in fact we had changed quite a few things (decorative accents wise) since I last featured any pictures, so I hope you’ll see something new if you’re already familiar with the house.


Photography courtesy of Lawson Photography

Since I last shared it, the lounge had had even more colour added, with a selection of mis-matched patterned cushions, the easy lamp DIY I did, and a few more homely touches…



Photography courtesy of Lawson Photography

It also features the first new thing we bought for the ‘new house’, the (reproduction) Eames RAR rocker.


Photography courtesy of Lawson Photography

Then adjoining it is the dining room, also looking a lot better than when you last saw it for a bit of styling ;) (I hasten to add, my house did not always look like this, I wish!)



Photography courtesy of Lawson Photography

I think the dining room might have been my favourite room in the house, if not my bedroom, as it seemed to be the most interesting. This corner has our film lamp in it and an antique Japanese rice cabinet that my step-dad passed onto us and I topped with a sprayed white tray and some bar paraphernalia. With the picture and (cheap ikea) linen curtains, it seemed to evoke old colonialism to me.



Photography courtesy of Lawson Photography

It also has my other favourite bit of furniture, the oak servery unit we have that holds our wedding dinner set (and a lot of other junk!)


Photography courtesy of Lawson Photography

I’m going to leave it there for now because that’s a lot of pictures already and I’ll come back to the kitchen and bedrooms. There’s too much ‘stuff’ to list here but if you want to know anything about the house or it’s contents, just drop me a comment. Hope you enjoyed the tour and thanks again so much to Laura and Pete for doing the photography honours!

Love,
Rebecca
XOR

#JanuaryJoy: Plan to revamp your garden

This weekend saw me out in my new garden for the first time. I’m characteristically so fed up of the doom and gloom in January that I want to get outside a lot. So far I have been waiting to see if any bulbs would sprout up in the garden heralding spring but there were a fair few leaves around so I decided to get out and rake them up, and after finding that there were in fact no bulbs to be seen, a quick trip to B&Q rectified that with trays of primroses and ready to grow bulbs.


Image credit: Lawson Photography

I am chomping at the bit to get the new garden planned and am bursting with ideas but waiting on the devastation that will be unleashed when we start the work to the kitchen and outdoor deck area. Adding to that we plan to knock down the double garage and create a dining area there, so 75% of the garden will be changed. As a result, I thought today would be a good time to share some pictures of my old garden, something I have never shared on the blog before and to also tell you that the old house is featured in this months Good Homes magazines – on the shelves now!

I was contacted early last year by a freelance journalist who suggested I send in my home to a magazine but I was a bit slow in getting my act together. Fast forward almost 6 months later and I realised that we were running out of time and it would be a lovely momento of a house I have been very happy in. Laura and Peter Lawson kindly agreed to come round and shoot the house and Good Homes said they were interested. I’m so happy with the images and I’ll be sharing more here soon but in the meantime do go and buy the magazine – I have to confess, I’m not a regular Good Homes reader but I was thrilled to be featured in the ‘Bold & Bright’ issue and felt it couldn’t have been more suited to my style – I’ve got so much inspiration for the new house from it already!

Anyway, back to the garden!


Image credit: Lawson Photography

When we moved in the garden was a typical terraced concrete yard with some bizarre attempt at decking outside the back doors that covered about ⅔ of the ground and was edged by stair bannister railing! One of my biggest priorities coming from a flat was to create an outside area and so we paid a handyman £100 to come with a pickaxe and bash up the concrete and take away the decking. Best £100 I think I have ever spent!


Image credit: Lawson Photography

One of the things I loved about the garden was that it was walled, which worked to our advantage in the summer as the walls held and radiated the suns heat back in to the garden, long after it had sunk beneath the houses behind. However the walls also created pockets of deep shade that needed careful planting. We couldn’t maintain a lawn in that space (nor could we store a lawnmower!) so we opted for gravel with a patio for outdoor entertaining.


Image credit: Lawson Photography

The patio flags came from a local builders yard and came in packs that made a 2m square patio area. We bought 2 and instead of arranging them squarely created an irregular edge and used a few spares to make a stepping stone path to the back gate. After the concrete came up we were left with an uneven mud pit and spent a weekend levelling it, creating some planting beds around the edges with a victorian style rope edging tile, underlaying the gravel area with weed proof membrane, laying the patio and making 2 steps down from the house.


Image credit: Lawson Photography

After that the planting was a work in progress. It started off with a lot of flowers and some favourite shrubs but found the flowers high maintenance in such a dry garden (made worse by them being close to the wall,) and some of the shrubs grew too big. Over time I chose different plants – shrubs like the hydrangea which provided summer colour without leaving a hole in the border come winter, montbretia (crocosmia) for structure and an olive tree suited to the warm dry conditions. I also made the most of the walls but growing clematis, climbing roses and a rampant clematis montana around them. It ended up pretty wild but felt like a little oasis.



Image credit: Lawson Photography

I added the final touches just last summer, rearranging the furniture to move our bench (a wedding gift from my mum) to create more seating on the patio, added the festoon lights (from IKEA) and some cushions (from Next) a bird box with a copper roof from Homesense and my favourite succulent, also from IKEA.


Image credit: Lawson Photography

The back gate was our only bug bear as it was practically rotting off the hinges but we opted not to replace it before we moved as we didn’t use the exit onto the alley anyway. As the plants overgrew it I liked to think it gave a bit of a secret garden appearance :)

So readers, I would love to hear about your garden improvements and any changes you have planned for this year. If there’s anything you want advise on, feel free to ask!

Love,
Rebecca
xo