My (old) house garden…

Right now I am totally immersed in garden planning and I’ll be chatting about that soon, but first it occurred to me that I don’t think I ever shared my old garden, before we moved house. The new garden is a pretty decent size and unusually large for where we live. It’s nothing compared to some country dwellers, but for urban Manchester suburbs, its big. (London readers will relate!) The old house was a 3 up, 3 down, typical mid-terrace and had a yard at the back when we moved in. It was 4 metres square but we had patio doors going out onto it from the kitchen and it was South West facing. We had never had our own outdoor space before, so I was determined to make somewhere we could relax.


Image by Lawson Photography

It ended up being a relatively cheap and easy project. When we moved in the ‘yard’ was concreted over entirely and the developer we bought the house from had added a square deck kit over the top, directly out from the kitchen patio doors, which happened to be the shadiest part of the garden.) There were also some decking material planters with cheap bedding plants in them and it couldn’t have looked more hasty, ill considered or ugly. The pictures don’t give a great overall view (they were taken for the Good Homes magazine feature on my old home by Laura and Peter Lawson.) but you can get the gist here that we created a courtyard garden that still had room for growing plants and greenery.

Here is one of my own photos from above showing the layout:


Image by Rebecca @ FlorenceFinds.com

What we did:

  • Paid someone to come and remove the decking and drill up the concrete yard.
  • Marked off an L shaped border at the back left and to the right of the gate for plants, edged with Victorian style terracotta rope edging.
  • Built two steps down from the back door with indian stone slabs and a simple brick layer to create the steps. (I’ve linked to B&Q but check your local builders yard for the best prices on garden hard landscaping.)
  • Laid an Indian stone patio in the sunniest corner of the garden, with stepping stones of indian stone straight out of the back door to the back gate and from the patio to the back gate.


Image by Lawson Photography

  • Laid weed supressing membrane and put golden gravel down over it.
  • Put in a trellis panel to hide the side return where our bins were stored.
  • Planted climbing plants to cover the walls (Left wall – shade loving Clibing hydrangea, Pyracantha for berries and where it got sunnier a Ceanothus for the stunning blue flowers; On the right side we had climbing roses and a Clematis Montana.)
  • Planted the borders and some pots for an overflowing look. These were cheap plants bought mostly in the supermarkets with a couple of David roses too


Image by Lawson Photography

It ended up being a kind of cottage garden meets Mediterranean garden, with the overflowing relaxed style of the cottage garden but with plants that withstood the dry heat microclimate that the walled courtyard created. We had an olive tree by the back door! The pictures here show it about 6 years after completion so it was maturing and the hard landscaping was blending in to look like it had always been there (along with some weeds creeping in, but hey, that’s life!)


Image by Lawson Photography

It really was like my personal oasis and because the walls held the heat we were able to eat out there most dry nights in the summer. I can’t wait to create something equally cosy and inviting but on a grander scale in this house!


Image by Lawson Photography

It seemed timely to talk about Gardens now as everyone is thinking about getting outside… have you got any garden plans this year?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Nursery Update: Open wardrobe storage

When I shared Bea’s Nursery I mentioned that there were a few more things we needed in there, including some hanging storage for Bea’s clothes. We have a chest of drawers but I hadn’t anticipated the need for hanging up her dresses and decided to create some open storage so I could also admire them ;)

The walls are very thick in our house and so the chimney breast alcoves aren’t that deep. We had a funny sized alcove in Bea’s room, only 66cms wide and about 30cm deep, so a wardrobe was difficult and shelves seemed to work better. I wanted rails, with a shelf above to add boxes or folded items, but wasn’t sure how to get a rail attached to the wall. Eventually IKEA came good with a typical cheap as chips solution, pimped up with a bit of Wilko’s gold spray paint!

Requirements:
Ikea BYGEL rail £1.50
EKBY HEMNES shelf £12
EKBY VALTER bracket £2

The rails are screwed in under the shelves (after spray painting) so I can hang her clothes from them. I decided the leave the brackets untreated as the wood fits in with the wood blinds and floor in an otherwise very white room. The hangers are from Dunhelm in case you’re interested. I was intending to spray paint them white too but decided to leave them coloured for now (too lazy!)

The whole thing cost about £37 and I’m so pleased with how it looks. I hope you like it too and it inspires you to get creative! ;)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Real Rooms: A Modern Animals Nursery

I’m a bit embarrassed that Bea is over 6 months old now and I have only just managed to finish the photos of her nursery. (I’m sure those of you with children won’t be surprised!) ;) We finished the nursery before Bea was born as, of course, we had opened the envelope! Interestingly, before we knew whether we were having a boy or girl, I was convinced it wouldn’t influence my choice of nursery and that I wanted brights. Initially I veered towards this Sian Elin wallpaper, then I felt it was too much for the space and found this incredible animal wallpaper. Once I had a neutral backdrop I couldn’t resist a shot of bold pink to add colour to the room and the room progressed from there. I hope you like it!

That amazing wallpaper is from Beware the Moon – an independent wallpaper designer I found online. It features 51 different animals from the tropical to farmyard, all hand drawn in pencil. It really is a work of art and the neutral palette makes it versatile for the future too. ;) We papered one wall and colour matched the other 3 to the backdrop of the paper which is a chalky white.

Like so many of you, we chose the IKEA Hemmnes 8 drawer chest for all of our storage – nappies, bedding, clothes, it all goes in here. I chose a coral pink shade from our local trade paints shop and painted the chest myself in an eggshell finish, then diluted the colour with white eggshell for the 3 progressively lighter shades for the drawers. I used a gloss roller and it really was very easy. Then I chose Anthropologie knobs in shades of blue and mint to finish it off.

The table doubles as our changing station and I keep Bea’s changing things in the drawers, with a small tray of cotton wool and a bowl of water out on the top. The table lamp is from Dunelm and the changing mat cover is Aden+Anais. On the wall, my favourite animal, a baby Elephant from Sharon Montrose’s Animal Print Shop. That white bear is a Merrythoughts teddy that I had as a child and my mum bought the Histoire D’ours Classic Bear for Bea when she was born.

The mint green chair was a bargain from HomeSense (love that shop!) as I felt we really needed to temper the pink and I wanted somewhere to feed in peace if I needed to. In fact I don’t use it that much but on the occasions I have, I’ve been very pleased to have it. The knitted pouffe is also from Dunelm and unfortunately now out of stock. I also wanted to add in some gold to the room as my current obsession and this seemed the right corner, as the wall is very blank. I used large gold polka dot decals to create a confetti pattern, from Etsy of course. The geometric cushion is Conran at M&S and the throw over the chair back is Urban Outfitters.

I searched and searched for a cot I liked, having become obsessed with the Oeuf Sparrow but drawing the line at £600 for a cot! This cotbed was from John Lewis and similar in style. I know some people think cots should be cheap but I hope this one will see more than one baby and it’s the central piece of furniture in the room so I thought worth spending a bit more on. The patterned fitted sheet (so hard to find!) was from The White Company. I searched high and low for the perfect mobile (thinking about, but failing to make one,) and eventually chose this paper clouds mobile also from The White Company.


We also needed some storage and I wanted to be able to display pretty toys or books and for Bea to be able to get her own toys out (and put them away!) The remaining alcove was a funny width (66cm) but I found these ladder shelves at a great price from The Futon Company. We need to fix it to the wall before Bea is toddling!

I found this rug in Urban Outfitters again, as the floor needed something to soften it up and I loved the geometric grey pattern – and the price!

Lastly, the art came from Society6, my new favourite place for well price art for your home! I chose the ‘Be Brave’ print, a pink and grey fox with a gold nose and hung them with a letter B balanced on top of a ceramic hand and foot print we did when she was 1 week old.

So that’s it!

I hope you liked the tour! ;) If you’d like to see more of the inspiration for the Nursery I’ve just made what was a secret Pinterest board, public. So feel free to have a look!

All the sources are listed below but do ask if you have any questions!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Sources:
Animal Wallpaper, Beware the Moon
Mirror and Mint chair, HomeSense.
Chest of Drawers – IKEA
Knobs – Anthropologie
aden + anais Twinkle Changing Mat Cover
Baby Elephant print
Owl lamp, Dunelm
Gold polka dot wall decals (UK supplier) Etsy
Stockholm Cotbed, John Lewis
Paper Clouds mobile, The White Company
Star fitted cot sheet
Ladder shelf, The Futon Company
Rug (no longer in stock) Urban Outfitters
Art: Be Brave and Pink Fox, Society6.

#JanuaryJoy: Make something with your hands

I’ll ‘fess up now and admit, this isn’t the ‘Make something with your hands’ prompt I had planned to share but what d’ya know, January has whizzed by and instead of feeling it has passed me by, I’m happy to say I’ve enjoyed all of it with Bea. :)

This is however something I have been planning to do for ages. I’m a huge scented candle fan and often buy them or am lucky enough to receive them as presents. What always bugs me though is that last centimeter or so at the end when the wick runs out of lovely scented wax. I’d always wanted to do something with it and now I finally have. I melted down each of them and layered the wax with a fresh wick and made ⅔ of a new candle with the leftovers from just 4 other candles that would otherwise have been binned!

So, you’ll need:

  • An assortment of old candles (scented or otherwise)
  • Some new wicks (I bought 20 from Amazon – 10 Pre Waxed Wicks For Candle Making)
  • A clean, dry container for your recycled candle
  • A medium sized saucepan and a small plastic pot
  1. Use a knife or something sharp to scrape the candle ends out of the pots
  2. If you are using scented candles then you will have to melt the wax individually and layer the scents, but if it’s just old wax, then you can melt the whole lot together. This is similar to melting chocolate for cooking, so just bring a pan of water to a simmer and float your plastic pot with the old wax in it on the water until it all melts. Keep an eye on it, it’s usually quite quick, and you don’t want the pan to boil dry and melt your pot to the pan! ;) The wax will melt clear and you’ll see the old wick floating around. Remove the wax from the heat and fish out the old wick carefully – it will be hot!
  3. Centre your NEW wick in the clean and ready container for your new candle – you might want to balance it against something (like this knife in the photo) to keep it centred, which is important otherwise your wax will melt unevenly as it burns. Then pour in your wax and allow to cool.
  4. Repeat the process for each separate candle and scent, allowing to cool between each layer.
  5. Finally trim your wick to about 1cm long then light and enjoy!

Of course you can also clean up the empty glasses and containers that the other candles were in (I just use hot soapy water after melting the excess and wiping them out with kitchen roll,) and use them as vases or pots around the house for pencils or make-up brushes. If you’ve got any you really love you could even buy some wax chips online and make new candles so you can keep enjoying the decorative pot.

Did you ever make candles when you were younger? I had loads of DIY craft kits for candle making – it was fun to do it again in a grown up way!

Have you made anything this January?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Found: Dot & Fox Print shop

Today it’s just a brief post to share a fab find I made over the weekend, Dot & Fox Print Shop. Set up by Joanna Brown, the shop is named after her son Beau Fox, (born shortly before Bea) and Dot, the daughter she sadly lost in pregnancy. The prints in the shop were taken as she walked in her local area following that loss, then the shop set up while she was on bed rest awaiting Beau. Although I follow Joanna on Instagram I didn’t know about her shop and so when I stumbled across it at the weekend I had to share it with you all. I’m always looking for prints for our house and am currently obsessed with photographic art so these are right up my street.


BOOM Neon pink A3 print

I can just imagine this huge neon print in our bedroom, and I LOVE this A1 giant print inside what looks like a botanic gardens glasshouse.


Urban Jungle A1 print

These two are particularly beautiful, almost like still life oil paintings, there’s so much texture…


Don’t tell the others but you are my favourite‘ and ‘Oh so quiet‘ Ltd edition prints.

I hope you like them readers – Joanna also donates 5% to Tommys charity for every print sold if you are interested. It’s always a bonus to support a good cause whilst shopping ;) Do click over to the Dot & Fox Print Shop and have a look around – these are just my favourites.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

#JanuaryJoy – Plan a project

Good morning readers!

I’ve left some of the prompts for this years #JanuaryJoy deliberately vague to allow as many people to join in as possible and whilst this particular prompt could encompass many things, for me it will be a house project. We’ve got quite a few things planned this year, big and small, from whole rooms to finishing touches. I’m keeping it small for now as I want to enjoy the remainder of my maternity leave dust and stress free, so I thought I’d share a couple of the projects I have in mind for this month.


Alcove storage // Peach and grey alcove

A Nursery wardrobe.
When we planned the nursery (which I will share soon, I promise!) I was convinced I was having a boy and didn’t give any thought to wardrobe space. We have a huge chest of drawers in there but since having a girl I’ve realised I need hanging space for dresses. The best place for the storage is in an alcove to the side of the chimney breast but it’s proving difficult to find a pice of furniture as it’s an oddly sized 66cms wide, so I’m having to think outside the box. I love the idea of being able to see Bea’s tiny clothes and so I thought some kind of open storage might work and hopefully won’t look too untidy as she doesn’t have that many clothes and I can still keep the majority folded in the drawers. Or do I do some kind of IKEA hack with something like this?

IMG_9491.JPG
Garden design by Tom Stuart-Smith.

Deck planting.
When we built our deck outside the kitchen last year we added some raised beds made of sleepers, half the height of the deck. They’re pretty big and the idea is to plant them with tall perennials that will surround the deck with foliage so it doesn’t seem separate from the garden. So the first job is to order some topsoil to fill them as they have stood empty since we built them, and secondly to plant them up with appropriate plants. I’m going for delicate drifting styles, in shade loving plants for one of the boxes on the north facing side and pretty flowers for the other west facing side which gets lots of sun.

IMG_9493.JPG
Bathroom via

Bathroom revamp.
Our bathroom is perfectly adequate and not on the agenda for change for quite some time… if we did change it, it would be part of quite a major reconfiguration of the first floor so we need to give that serious thought. In the meantime, I think I can make it a lot more us, with some simple additions. A new mirror, new light fittings, a bit of paint and some new hooks should make a big difference and it’ll be fun to change a room without all hell breaking loose in the house for a change. ;)

So what projects are you planning this January readers? (It doesn’t have to be house related!)

Love
Rebecca
xo

Merry Twixmas…

First and foremost readers… I really hope you all had a very merry few days over Christmas. I feel bad that I didn’t get chance to post those wishes before Christmas but things were manic around here. The good news is that after working until 1am on christmas eve eve, ;) we got the lounge looking presentable and ready to celebrate with our families. As you all listened to my woes in the run up to Christmas while one thing after another went wrong, I thought I’d post a few pictures of how it’s looking now. I’ll do another full post on the whole renovation process and suppliers/tradesmen in the new year but here’s what the room looks like today, mid Christmas obviously!




We were quite lucky in that we had chosen and bought lots of the ‘finishing touches’ like the mirror and light fitting, while the room was in progress, and the sofas were all ordered in time for Christmas delivery, so the room was relatively ready to go, but the decorations have helped make it look a lot more ‘done’ too. I’m looking forward to choosing the rest in the New Year. :)

Lastly, to those of you who are regulars here and surprised I’m blogging between Christmas and New Year, so am I(!) but I missed it after a sketchy couple of weeks and have quite a few posts in mind that lend themselves to the end of the year, so make sure you pop back over the next few days! :)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Driving me crackers…

Sorry. Festive pun. But I’m not sorry…

If I didn’t laugh right now I would cry, things are so unfinished in the house. I think a few people who have heard me say this have wrongly assumed it was a need for perfection that was stressing me out pre-Christmas, but in fact it’s a need for safety – we have children visiting and wires, boxes and heavy/breakable items (granite hearth propped up against a wall anyone?) everywhere wasn’t my idea of a relaxing Christmas for me, or I imagine their parents! We are so close to having the lounge finished but there will then be a gargantuan effort to tidy/clean in time for relatives arriving on Christmas eve. Then I might just curl up in a corner with Bea and let everyone get on with it!


Photography: Jemma Watts // Styling: Laura Sawyer // Styling assistant: Rosanna Johnson

Getting back to that pun… This year I decided it might be nice to DIY some crackers (because I have so much free time…) and I’m persisting with the idea dispute the chaos as it’s turning out to be keeping me sane whilst I’m stuck in with tradesmen, trawling the internet for little gifts and ideas. I was fully braced to completely DIY them after seeing a DIY featured in 91 magazine (the latest issue is out now!) and so I asked Caroline to share the stylists tips here…

Cracker Snap pulls were sourced from Ebay at £5.99, and you’ll need some toilet paper tubes. The stylist stuck a snap pull to the inside of a tube, filled the tube with presents, then wrapped the whole thing up in beautiful wrapping paper from Paperchase, and tied it off at the ends with ribbon from John Lewis.

How easy does that sound? Unfortunately in my disorganised state I hadn’t pre-collected the necessary loo-rolls and didn’t have time for snaps to arrive so I ended up with a DIY kit from M&S but I’m still happy filling them. I love that if you make your own you can label them for each individual person and gift accordingly, as well as tying them in with your table decor scheme. I’m planning on activities to keep the kids busy at the table, chocolate and treats for the ladies, with possibly a lottery ticket or something for the men. Crackers are always full of rubbish anyway, so why not fill them with stuff your family and friends will love and even tweak the jokes or motto’s into dinner games for between the courses?

Makes sure you check out the new issue of 91 magazine (there are some really great interiors and printables for Christmas in this issue,) and thanks to Caroline for sharing the crackers!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Real Rooms: A Yellow Cow Parsley Attic Bedroom

This post is brought to you in association with The Secret Linen Store. Scroll down for an exclusive reader offer at the end of the post!

So… about that guest room I mentioned last week… here we are!

Let’s just take a moment to go back to how it was when we moved in… (I hate ruining good ‘after’ post’s with ‘before’ pictures, but it has to be done…)


We actually lived up here in this room, in this state, for 4 months from December to April this year, while our bedroom was being knocked through into the dressing room. Aside from the awful retro wardrobes and stale carpet, it’s a lovely room with high vaulted ceilings as it’s in the attic. The plan was to create a room for my mum to stay. It’s really a regular guest room right now, but when I go back to work, mum will be looking after Bea 2 days a week and I wanted her to have a proper retreat as she’s doing us such a big favour. The plan is to make a bit of a ‘suite’ with a sitting and TV area (as yet not complete,) along with the bed. The L-shaped room lends itself to being segregated like this but as when we started the project I was about 36 weeks pregnant, we focused on the bedroom side of things.

We stripped out all the fitted wardrobes and shelves, stripped the wallpaper (lovely wood chip and anaglypta,) moved a radiator and some plugs, fitted a new double glazed window and had it replastered. Then we decorated and recarpeted. We chose a white we have used in the past (Sail White by Crown) which is a very slightly warmer shade of white that just avoids looking stark. We use fit in our previous hallway where it was also paired with this Cole and Son Cow Parsley wallpaper. (Click the links in this paragraph for Instagram’s of our progress.)

We papered our old hallway down one side in this wallpaper and happened to have a roll left over. As it’s such a sunny light and bright room, it seemed obvious to use it up here, but unfortunately due to the height of the wall we chose to do we had to buy an extra roll. Still, I’m glad we did.

Furniture wise we were on a serious, totally-out-of-money-doing-up-the-kitchen budget and went to IKEA for the bed. The besides are our old ones (also IKEA but no longer available in this style, from the Hemnes range.) We also added an antique wardrobe that we bought from our house’s previous owners, which my sister and Pete lugged upstairs when I was heavily pregnant and no longer allowed to lift stuff – I’m so happy with it in this room. I think every room should have something old in it, in a house of this age it just makes things look more natural. I stacked my vintage globetrotters on top to finish it off.

The curtains are in Sanderson Home fabric, called Angel Ferns and were a bit of a steal from John Lewis – one of their display curtains I bought and took apart for the old house spare room, they have been re-made again for this room although they still need taking up a little more, as you can see here.

 Lets get back to the bed. You guys know how I like to style a bed and I think that’s really important in a guest room – to make it cosy and inviting. I try to do that by choosing complementary linens, piling the pillows high, making sure the linen is ironed and then adding cushions and throws. The Secret Linen Store came to my rescue here and dressed the bed in their Dotty coffee cream bedding set.

Paired with the tiny stripe coffee cream fitted sheet, it adds to the layered patterns and textures look I was going for. The bedding has a subtle soft sheen and a lovely weight to it and I particularly liked the contrast of the coffee dots on cream in the pillow and reversed pattern of cream on coffee for the duvet. With the 260 thread count, the whole set looks invitingly rich.

For finishing touches, I layered up a cushion made with scraps from the curtains and a textured yellow and linen John Lewis cushion. The lights are from our old room with Graham and Green shades; The drawer handles are Anthropologie, as are the two candles on the left hand bedside. I wanted to layer lots of textures and patterns in this room. It’s a tricky thing to do but I’m pretty pleased with how it has turned out.

Now onto that special offer! The Secret Linen Store are offering 12% off to Florence Finds readers until December 31st 2014. Simply use the offer code WELCOMEFF12 at check out!

I hope you like it readers. I’m really happy with how it has turned out, particularly as many of the items in the room were pulled together from other rooms and previous projects; The bedding just adds that finishing touch. I can certainly promise you won’t be disappointed if you treat yourself to some of their bed linen to finish off one of your projects.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Disclaimer: The Secret Linen Store provided the Dotty coffee cream bedding set and tiny stripe coffee cream fitted sheet for review. If we didn’t like it, you wouldn’t be hearing about it here!

Inspiration: Guest room style…

Before Bea was born and whilst we were having our kitchen finished we suddenly decided we should tackle one of the attic rooms, as we didn’t have a guest room for grandparents to stay if needed; (because my sister is still living with us… more on that another time!) At the time it was the LAST thing we needed but it made sense as we had all the tradesmen on site. The rooms didn’t need *too* much spending on it, (in comparison to the other rooms) but it did turn into a bit of a last minute headache. In fact we were putting curtain poles up and finishing the decor the day before I went in for my C-section.

I was going to share it with you yesterday but instead it will be coming on Monday along with a special offer for readers. In the meantime I thought I would share some images I’ve been collecting for guest room inspiration. As we have a couple of spare rooms I’ve been looking for ways to decorate them that are cheap and cheerful, whilst appealing to my personal sense of style.


Attic Bedroom // Iron bed in attic room // Simple sloped ceiling room

Because the room is on the top floor, there are sloping but high ceilings and so I’ve been able to look at cosy attic rooms that will directly translate into our homes style. I’ve also been attracted to simple pared back furniture and accessories – something that would be impossible to maintain in our own room with all the junk, magazines, clothes and cosmetic stuff we have around, but perfect for a mostly empty room.


Simple display shelf // Copper and colour mix bedding

My own bedroom is planned as a relaxing and calming space, with more than a hint of hotel chic and luxe appeal, so these are very different styles. They are styles I love none-the-less and it’s nice to be able to play around with something different that you don’t need to commit to in the same way, as you don’t look at a guest room everyday.


DIY headboard // Vintage modern room

And at this time of year, is it only me who wants to create a ski cabin or scandi vibe with faux furs, fairy lights and black, red and grey accents?


Nordic Bedroom

So readers, does anything inspire you here? Have you got a spare room and how have you decorated it? Did you think about who would be staying in it when you did?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS. See more guest room ideas on my Pinterest Guest Rooms board and my bedroom here.