Behind closed [Bloggers] doors

A couple of weeks ago as I took the shots that I shared as part of my dining and lounge make-over, it occurred to me how ridiculous it was. The house looked pristine, and the reason for that was that we were having it valued. I took the shots between viewings by estate agents and had also had some round the evening before so you can imagine, everything was polished to within an inch of its life.

As I took the shots I adjusted the chairs, turned the bottles so the labels faced forwards in unison, smoothed the rug and styled the room to look as perfect as it could. After all, nobody wants to put their home out there for all to see without it looking its best.

It lead me to thinking about the difference between projected image and reality in the blog world and how you all view Florence Finds. As a writer of a blog, I can see past the charmed life most bloggers present, and make a guess at the daily grind that lies beneath the surface veneer they show the world, but I know there are many readers of blogs who rather than feeling inspired by what they see, just feel they don’t match up to the ideal world onscreen.

It’s a fine line I think. Hand on heart, I don’t read blogs, just like I don’t watch films, for reality. I don’t enjoy reading about gritty reality or the mundane day to day. My favourites are a combination of escapism and inspiration. I read fashion and personal style blogs that inspire me to try new looks with my own twist, food blogs for the photography mainly and new recipes and lifestyle blogs for escapism into the perfect Californian world of magical light and year round balmy sunshine. (although right now in the UK, eat your heart out So-Cal girls!) Gardening blogs spur me on to perfecting my own and interiors blogs feed my creativity with everything from personal decor inspiration to heightening my awareness of using colour palettes together to refining my own design sensibilities for that perfect edited collection of artefacts.

All that said, I always hope that my twist on the more personal aspects of life that I blog is a healthy dose of reality. Yes, Florence Finds is here to inspire you BUT, and it’s a big one, I don’t ever want you guys to think I’m different… that my life isn’t exactly like yours. Granted, like most bloggers, I am not hiding a life filled with misery and mess, but it’s not always quite as picture perfect as the photos suggest.

You see when the house was being valued and I was taking photos, my prized cow hide rug was looking resplendent as the focus of the dining room, my favourite room, mainly because of said rug. In actual fact it was and now is merely a prop, having been laid down for the pictures and removed as soon as the agents left. In between, instead of getting my blog posts written, I spent the majority of the time chasing one of our cats around the downstairs as she continued to make a bee-line for the rug. It had recently transpired it was her new favourite place to have a sneaky little wee! Cats are awful in that sense, it very rarely happens as they are so particular about there they go to the toilet but if they’ve been caught short for whatever reason, once they have been somewhere, it’s forever a designated toilet for them. Despite cleaning the rug, Tabitha’s behaviour lapse had peaked the week before with a record four episodes in 2 days which were quite clearly just-for-the-hell-of-it on her part. A the end of our tether (and not before Pete threatened to have her put down – albeit jokingly,) we resigned ourselves to removing the rug and I jest not, I couldn’t even look at her for three days!

It’s just a little thing, but I hope it illustrates the reality behind the images. I guess you could say, then why not show the reality? I’m pretty confident that’s not what you come to Florence Finds to see. My bedroom piled high with washing that needs putting away? Dirty dishes? An office piled high with paperwork? It’s certainly not why I click through to my favourite blogs, rather to escape from it!

Instead, next time you scan these pages and think, I wish my house looked like that, or I wish I could wear that/try that/go there, rest assured that just as you might have had some less than glamorous event to deal with that week, so will have I… even if it is just cat related 😉

And then think, well if Rebecca can do it, so can I!

I’d love to hear about why you choose to read the blogs you do and what you think about the ‘bloggers ideal’ presented online, share your thoughts, as always.

Love,
Rebecca
Xo

Shades of Grey: Part Two

A little delayed by lots of awesome stuff I had to share last week, today I’m sharing my dining room, the other half of my decorating make over. (See the lounge and Part 1 here.)

Just as a reminder, here’s the before… and after.

It doesn’t take much persuasion for me to toot my trumpet and say I am more proud of this room than any other. It’s nothing ground breaking in terms of decor or design but it’s exactly what I set out to achieve. I wanted to make the room warmer, (thank you cow hide rug and Ikea curtains) and to look more ‘cohesive’ than it did. Warm and kind of salvage-rustic with a glamorous edge. The reason I am so pleased with it is that I walk though it every single day and don’t fail to enjoy it, and at the end of the day, what else is your home for?

Last week, I talked about the addition of the picture rail and architrave around the knocked through rooms. I’m ashamed to admit we had been in our house almost 5 years from knocking the two rooms together, without finishing off the woodwork and now I look at it and am so pleased that we finally did. The room looks so much more ‘finished’ and the white woodwork looks so crisp against the grey.

In the same way we had to work with the soft furnishings in the lounge, there were items we wanted to keep in the dining room, most notably the Habitat grey smoked mirror which shifted the colour scheme to a moodier palette of grey with smokey blue and dark wood (the table and floor,) accents.

Said floorboards are on the ridiculous side of freezing and there was little previously in the way of soft furnishings to warm to room up. First off we needed a rug and it was the perfect opportunity to purchase my favourite, a cow hide rug. We initially ordered a Graham and Green one but it arrived with a rather shaggy long coat and was sent back. Then we stumbled upon a much shorter one in Homesense for a bargain £199.

Our other Homesense bargain was this film lamp. Well, not exactly a bargain, but definitely worth every penny. I think it adds major impact to an otherwise unused corner of the room. We rearranged things slightly here, moving an old print that previously hung in the lounge and adding 2 curtains in a dark grey coarse linen from Ikea, instead of the single one that was there previously, to the window in the corner.

I’ve also tried to refine our accessories. Again, it’s a little empty at present, (some might say tidy,) but I prefer a more eclectic collection of ‘finds’ to make a home look lived in and illustrate its owners personalities. While we look for the right accent pieces, I’ve used some Sipsmith Gin bottles to decorate the mantelpiece and splashed out on a display dome although I’ve not yet decided what to put in it!

We also have a collection of letters to put up on the wall and my new globe is adding an eclectic feel. I edited the collection of frames we have to silver and mother of pearl ones with black and white images, giving a more cohesive look to the corner. The small wooden chest is a Tansu, a Japanese antique that Phil, my Mums partner gave me, that would have been used for storage.

My last ‘find’ was the lighting. Replacing the old tin Moroccan shade that I purchased in a Marrakech souk several years back, Pete and I had been unable to agree on a new dining light for several years, generally favouring design classics that required significant financial investment – which is hard to do when you haven’t seen the piece up close. BHS lighting department saved the day with these smoked glass shades in grey-blue in the dining room and then repeated in the living room in the smoked golden-brown version of the same. I think they were around £90 each and we hung them lower than usual to give a more atmospheric feel to the room.

And that’s it. We still have some accessories to add but I’m refusing to be hurried on those right now. I want to make sure they’re the right pieces and already, some of the bits I had chosen are feeling wintery while I’m looking forward to welcoming back in some colour. There might be more changes afoot. As ever, I’ll keep you posted.

Do let me know what you think of the ‘new look’ dining room…

Love,
Rebecca
xo

The Blues…

After my collection of inspiration last week featuring pink as an accent colour for my newly decorated grey rooms, I also wanted to explore blue. I already have a bit of blue, albeit subtle, in the aforementioned rooms and I find it a calming colour. I also love flashes of unexpectedly bold or bright turquoise, sea and peacock blues but find it can be a bit cold when used en masse.

It was hard to find images that weren’t of blue rooms or walls, (although a few have sneaked in here,) but where blue was the accent, be that with soft or hard furnishings, art work, flooring or accessories, but I’ve gathered a collection that I love and am slowly honing my vision for the two rooms.

Let us begin the tour…

I love this bright turquoise chair in an otherwise neutral room. And who doesn’t want one of these gorgeous SMEG retro fridges? I love the pop of blue against this elegantly rustic kitchen.

Clearly, most of us don’t have artfully distressed walls, but the subdued blue upholstered bed frame is easily reproducible, or perhaps you like your blues soft – perfect for a classic bedroom in duck egg and dove grey.

I’m looking for accents and am completely in love with this pair of lamps against the dark backdrop and warm natural woods. Or how about a vibrant silk cushion – super cheap and striking against this shades-of-grey high design living space

It’s all about the dining chairs again with these velvet upholstered numbers looking very elegant. I wish I had a dining room this chic…

How about accenting the walls like in this simple bathroom with grey-brown walls and a band of turquoise above picture rail level? And I love how the print in this image stands out against the walls of a similar shade.

I wish I had the confidence to use a rug with a pattern like this one, (or just be lucky enough to find one!) or maybe artwork is the answer like these graphic prints.

Or for a bit of rustic chic, if that’s more your thing, I love the pop of this bright blue shelf laden with finds, or the coloured glass of these old blue bottles filled with toning blooms.

Now it’s time to hear your thoughts. Is blue a better accent for you?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Real Rooms – A Living Room Makeover

This morning, I am VERY excited. This post marks the start of one of the things that gets me really excited about Florence Finds… the opportunity to share other people’s Real Rooms. The idea is, you send in before and after pictures of your decoration, renovations and make-overs to inspire our lovely readers with your interiors style. There’s no right or wrong – I’d like to see a real variety of interiors and houses or flats on Florence’s pages, but today’s post couldn’t be more appropriate for the time of year.

Laura Lawson sent in the images of their recent living room makeover and I don’t mind saying I’d like to de-camp there for one winter weekend spent lolling in front of that fire. It’s so cosy!

Thanks Laura!

Before…
We bought our house in April 2010 and have been plodding along with its makeover ever since. It’s the first house we’ve owned, and I can’t tell you how excited we get about DIY and making things exactly how we want them! The living room in its former life was a rather dark, carpeted room with a mahogany door and window frame. It’s rather on the teeny side too so squeezing furniture in was going to be a bit of a nightmare.

After…
Step one was to banish the mahogany forever with a splash of Farrow and Ball’s ‘Cooking Apple Green’ (obsessed with it). Next, the old carpet came up to be replaced with some lovely oak wood flooring; the artex (shudder) was smoothed out by a genius plasterer and the walls were given a coat of antique cream. A lovely blank canvas, now what?!

There would be no point trying to make this room bright/airy/minimalist/tidy. We live in a cottage, we like its pokiness, so decided to embrace it! When we talked about our ideas for the living room we landed upon this theme – “the kind of room that you walk in and instantly want a nap”.

So here it is, our cosy, warm lounge full of stuff we love. Somewhere to put our feet up and snuggle. We succeeded in our mission by the way, I fall asleep in here all the time.

I love my Penguin classics!
A lot of photography books (of course!), and a vintage photographer stamp.

We found this fire companion set at a local traditional ironmongers.
Nothing beats a real fire and cashmere socks!


Now a word of warning to those wishing to embark on a land of real fires; they need attention, and if you haven’t used it for a year and it needs a good sweep you may accidentally set your chimney on fire (just a little) and need to call the fire brigade. What a dramatic end to our Florence Finds living room photo shoot; I need a lie down and a cocoa.

  • Sofas, coffee table, TV table, rug: Next. Bookcases: Ikea.
  • Lamp: Laura Ashley
  • Reconditioned telephone: Pedlars.
  • Tub of coasters from a souq in Morocco.
  • The best slippers ever: Ugg
  • Pretty pictures. ’Beneath it all’ by Todd White and an unnamed piece by a student.
  • Photo albums (containing our wedding prints): Jessops.
  • Speakers: Monitor Audio.
  • Tie backs: Laura Ashley.
  • Light: John Lewis.
  • Throw: Laura Ashley.
  • Candle: ‘Nectarine blossom and honey’ Jo Malone.

Super snug – I love.

So, Have you got a Real Renovation to share, a make over or DIY project? If you’d like to share it with our readers, please send in your images and a short write up, including the details of your featured items, to hello@florencefinds.com.

Please drop Laura a comment if you love her renovation, I for one am after those penguin classics… oh, and the cashmere socks please.

Love,
Rebecca.
xo

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