Design, Interiors, My Home, Shop

The Contemporary Lighting Edit

MENU JWDA MARBLE TABLE LAMP

Image credit: Utility Design

 

I have strong opinions about lighting. I’ve been known to have strong opinions about a number of things related to interiors it’s true, but lighting is a particularly large issue for me. Last week on an Instagram post it became apparent I’m not the only one however – always a nice thing to discover. Contemporary lighting is tricky all round.

Each room in my home has light fitting that I’ve spent a great deal of time selecting, they can be hard to get right. We call these the ‘big’ light. A great way of adding a bit of a statement into a room, there are some amazing options out there right now. All of that being said, I absolutely wouldn’t resort to living by the light of the ‘big’ light unless there was no other option. That was sadly the case for me in my dining room where two weeks ago I went on a bit of a crazy smashing spree and managed to obliterate a porcelaine and concrete lamp I’d picked up in The Conran Shop sale a few years back.

It was a sad moment, not just because it meant the lamp was no longer with us, but because it meant the ‘big’ light was terrifyingly the only option.

 

 

I live life by lamp light, interspersed with a plethora of flickering candles. It’s just nicer that way – softer and friendlier if that’s possible?  The last time my living room’s ceiling light was turned on was over the Christmas period whilst I set about wrapping some particularly fiddly presents. It’s a technical light. It’s there for technical assistance. It isn’t there for ambiance.

Whilst looking to replace the smashed lamp I came across a great piece from John Lewis’ Design Collection. An opal orb sitting atop a brushed brass and concrete base. It’s perfect, it’s contemporary and it’s brilliantly priced at £65. The diffused glow it gives off is enough to light up my living room on an evening, which is where it’s actually ended up despite the fact I needed a lamp for the dining room.

 

Image credit: Debenhams

 

Both looking for and deciding on a lamp proved to be a tricky task. Being a bit of a not fully committed minimalist, I have specific tastes. The design needed to be simple, with a neat silhouette but at the same time not look like it belongs in a 2001: A Space Odyssey. That’s the hard part. Why is so much contemporary lighting design on the high street produced in mirror-like chrome?

Featuring a distinct lack of polished chrome and a heavy dose of brushed brass, I’ve compiled an edit of the best contemporary lighting I came across whilst scouring the internet for the perfect replacement.

 

 

Minimalist Table Lamps

|1.| Doshi Levien for John Lewis Lamp |2.| J by Jasper Conran Lamp |3.| MENU JWDA Marble Lamp |4.| John Lewis Design Project Lamp |5.| HAY Pion Lamp |6.| J by Jasper Conran Task Lamp |7.| A by Amara Marble Lamp |8.| Flos Copycat Lamp

 

Minimalist Floor Lamps

|1.| John Lewis Grayson Lamp |2.| French Connection Floor Lamp |3.| French Connection Tube Lamp |4.| Flos Floor Lamp |5.| Habitat Kuriko Lamp
Leave a comment
Interiors, My Home, Shop

Starting Afresh. Three Ways I Welcome In The New Season.

Spring, noun
The season after winter and before summer, when the weather becomes warmer, leaves and plants
start to grow again and flowers appear.

 

Bloom & Wild Piper

 

When January draws to a close everything starts to feel different. Spring is technically almost two months away but still everything feels like it shifts into the new season. The final remnants of Christmas are treated to the shame of the 70% off sticker and the new season collections lie in wait for January pay cheques to clear; it’s coming.

I’ve always loved Winter, but I’m also always happy to see it start to give way to something new. Come February the Winter fatigue is very much in full swing. I start to change things over. The blankets that are folded neatly over the arms of the sofa are stowed away in the hope they won’t be required again until the autumn, the heating takes a step down and the curtains are taken down and washed ready for the sun to sail through them when it finally manages to scrape past the rooftops of the houses in front of mine.

I might not be able to arrive home to my flat bathed in light just yet but I might as well be ready for it.  The start of the new month seems like the perfect time to talk about the simple little things I change to trick myself into thinking those bright Spring days are a little closer than they actually are.

 

Bloom & Wild Piper Spring Bouquet

Bloom & Wild Piper

 

Flowers can change everything instantly – they’re the easiest way to make it feel like spring’s arrived. In winter my mantlepiece tends to be filled with gigantic bunches of eucalyptus or simple white roses. Once February arrives you’re more likely to find jars of hyacinths chopped from their bulbs before they fall to their floppy end mounting up on the surfaces, along with ramshackle collections of vases and jars filled to the brim with blooms.

As I type this my mantlepiece is currently playing host to an orchestra of vases I’ve collected over the years, each filled with the soft pink and green hues of The Piper bouquet from Bloom & Wild. I’ve chosen to group the vases together, but realistically one letterbox bouquet is enough to fill a vase for each room in the flat. I think we get ourselves into the habits of thinking everything needs to be arranged in a single vase sitting in the centre of the coffee table. I’d rather flowers were everywhere, even if it’s just one or two in a tiny bud vase sitting on the side table.

Never underestimate the power of flowers in a room. Also never underestimate the glory of beautiful bouquets than can be posted through your letterbox.

 

Bloom & Wild Indie Bouquet

Bloom & Wild Indie Bouquet

Bloom & Wild Indie Bouquet


If you walk into my flat during the winter months you’ll likely be met by darker, musky scents that make you feel like there’s a log fire burning and maybe some mulled wine on the go. You’d smell that because there’s a plethora of candles and diffusers about the place designed to evoke those exact scents. After Christmas has been and gone I want everything to start to smell crisp and fresh, so the somewhat ceremonial switching over of the scents takes place.

 

The White Company Linen Diffuser

Bloom & Wild Piper

 

This month I swapped over the deep mossy diffuser I had in the dining room with The White Company’s latest fragrance, Linen. Now when you walk into the flat your nose will be met by the soft scent of neroli and eucalyptus. When you walk past it and that breezy scent of the Mediterranean catches you, it’s absolutely perfect. Like a sunny afternoon spent lazing about in the sun.

For spring, The White Company have also looked to embody the luxury and comforting nature of everyone’s favourite thing, Cashmere. It’s warm and cosy without any of the heavier notes that fill winter’s fragrances, making it exactly right for February. I genuinely believe the scent of a room is just as important as its colour or furniture. For me when I think back to places I’ve been I always remember how it smelt. So if someone leaves my home thinking it smelt like cashmere? I’m okay with that.

 

The White Company Cashmere Candle

The White Company Cashmere Candle

 

Generally January is a month of tightening your belt and praying for your bank account to once again enter the world of positive numbers. In February I say you treat yourself to some small luxuries. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant purchase by any means, but after the mammoth task that was January, you deserve something just for you. If a candle or a huge bunch of spring blooms isn’t for you, try treating yourself to fresh bedding.

 

The White Company Easy Iron Bedding

 

Maybe it’s because I’m getting old, or maybe it’s just because of the sheer volume of cool I possess, but very little ever makes me as happy as fresh bedding. There is nothing like waking up on a Sunday morning nestled beneath fresh sheets whilst the sun rises behind your curtains. February is when I treat myself to fresh bedding, although due to budgetary constraints I’ve kept it to just fresh pillowcases this year. White, naturally.

Team the crisp new sheets with a bedside table stacked with scented hyacinths and a freshly lit candle. It’s all your February could need.

 

The White Company Cashmere Candle

|1.| Stoneware Vases, The White Company |2.| Glass Plantpot, ARKET |3.| Cashmere Scented Candle, The White Company |4.| Linen Diffuser, The White Company |5.| Washed Linen Pillowcases, H&M |6.| Glass Bulb Vase, H&M |7.| Glass Bud Vase, H&M

 

Leave a comment
Ate, Food, Recipe

A Recipe For Cashew, Coconut & Date Energy Balls.

Cashew, Date & Coconut Energy Balls Recipe

 

January can be a little tough on the old soul. After the buzz and lights of Christmas it can seem a drained. Everyone seems to exist in the a constant state of remorse for each and every chocolate, piece cake and cocktail that passed their lips in December. There’s no judgement here, I’m one of those who uses January as a way to kick start a better way of eating too.

Life shouldn’t be without the joy and comfort or a sweet treat, especially not come a cold January evening. That’s why these energy balls are perfect. To clarify, they won’t shrink your waist line, remove the bags under your eyes or cause you to become a supermodel over night. They will however provide a little something if your steamed fish and slippery mound of spinach hasn’t quite hit the spot.

You will require a modicum of self restraint, that should also be clear. They might be free from refined sugar and anything nasty, but they’re still a treat. (That means one or two. Not eight.)

I’ve made these energy balls before with the zest of a lemon and can confirm they’re just as good, if you find yourself more inclined to sharper flavours.

 

Cashew, Date & Coconut Energy Balls Recipe

Cashew, Date & Coconut Energy Balls Recipe

Cashew, Coconut & Date Balls

90g raw, unsalted cashew kernals
7 Medjool Dates (or 10 normal dates)
4 tbsp unsweetened desiccated coconut
1 generous tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp chia seeds (optional, naturally)
Pinch of salt

There’s no real science to the making of the balls; melt the coconut oil gently in a pan and leave to one side to cool. Start with your cashews in the food processor and blitz them until they form a lumpy rubble but aren’t quite ground.

Add in the salt, chia seeds (if using), 2tbsp coconut, coconut oil and pitted dates. If you want to add in the lemon, grate in the zest here also.

Give everything a good blitz until it starts to form a sticky rubble. Grab two plates, on one spread out the remaining 2 tbsp of desiccated coconut and on the other top out the rubble and begin shaping it into balls by pressing tightly and rolling them in your hands. The mixture should make around 20 in total. Try to make them about the size of a large truffle.

Roll each date in the plate of coconut to fully coat them. Pop the energy balls in the fridge for an hour or so before sampling the fruits of your minimal labour.

Leave a comment
Design, Interiors, My Home, Shop

Good Decision #1. The Normann Copenhagen Block Side Table.

Normann Copenhagen Block Side Table White

 

2018 is going to be the year of the good decision. I’ll be applying that logic to pretty much everything. It’ll be particularly prevalent within my home as I spend the year putting my disposable income to one side in the hope of being in a position to start looking at buying my first home come January 2019. This year if I’m going to spend money on something for my home then it has to be something built for my future: a piece I know I’ll never tire of.

Christmas money is not a thing I find myself with often, my family is big on the present and I’m fine with that as that’s precisely how I am too. This year however, some came my way. I know what you’re thinking, I could have popped it into my savings account for my deposit, but I didn’t. It was intended for a gift so a gift it became.

The Normann Copenhagen Block Side Table has been on my list for quite some time now. I’ve lost count of the amount of times it’s been added to my basket. On December 27th I took the plunge and finally ordered it from the sale at istome. Naturally I went for white, though the pale grey did give it a good run for its money, honest.

 

Normann Copenhagen Block Side Table White

 

Before the block table’s arrival my living room had started to feel a little bit cluttered. I have very minimalistic tendencies and tastes, but at the same time I have that rather annoying habit of liking things and therefore thinking I have to have them, regardless of wether I a) need them or b) feasibly have room for them. The room had become a little too busy towards the end of last year; some good decisions were needed.

The nesting set of three oak tables I’ve had for about eight years now we’re a gift from my mum when I moved into my first unfurnished property. There’s a sentimental part of me that wants to hold onto them but there’s also the sensible part of me that knows they take up too much room and don’t particularly fit in with the way my interior has evolved. With the blessing of my mum they will be finding their way to eBay in the search of a new home, the money from which will go straight into my savings account. Promise.

 

Normann Copenhagen Block Side Table White

 

Essentially the minimalist version of a drinks trolly, the Normann Copenhagen Block Side Table is a dream on wheels. Powdered steel and solid ash, it’s exactly what I wanted. It took all of two minutes to screw together and joyfully lead to several minutes of pushing it around the room like it was 1962 and about to offer people a Snowball.

Designed by Simon Legald back in 2012 and filling Nordic design hashtag feeds ever since, the table call be wheeled about in just about any direction you’d like. For now it will live comfortably in my living room, but in the future it may find itself anywhere. I suppose that’s the idea of these good purchasing decisions – buying things I’m confident I’ll always have a home for.

 

Normann Copenhagen Block Side Table White

ARKET Matches

 

Now the table is perfectly positioned beside the sofa, ready to receive a cup of tea and no doubt several magazines. It’s only January 7th I’m aware, but I can’t help but feel this is a good decision to start with. An investment piece I’ve had my eye on for years; versatile and adaptable.

 

Normann Copenhagen Block Side Table White

Normann Copenhagen Block Side Table White

 

It’s the first of a few changes I plan on making in the room in order to strip it back and pair it down. The large bookcase I so painstakingly painted in Little Greene’s Basalt Blue will be turning a pale shade of grey to make it less imposing, along with a large proportion of the objects that have accumulated around the room being boxed away, redistributed or listed on eBay. The large empty wall behind the sofa will also finally be receiving the linen wall hanging I’ve been talking about creating for two years. Well, it will be once I’ve decided on a design. It would seem that is much easier said than done.

Watch this (large white) space.

Leave a comment
Ate, Christmas, Made, Recipe

A Last Minute Gift. Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Biscotti.

Last year I made a pact with myself to start making more of the presents I was giving in an attempt to reduce the amount of things I bought at Christmas. It’s not that I don’t love the huge array of things out there to buy, but that it just feels so much more satisfying to give someone something you’ve had a part in creating. It doesn’t need to be something grand or all that elaborate, I think it’s just nice for it to be something you spent time on.

 

Pistachio Biscotti Recipe

 

Each year I make large batches of chutney to include with my friend’s and family’s Christmas presents. I try and do this a few months in advance to a) get it out of the way, b) make use of particular fruit being in plentiful supply and c) allow the flavours to mellow. As Christmas starts to draw closer and the presents start to be given I like to add some kind of baked good in there too.

Through trial and error over the year I’ve settled on biscotti being the perfect gift. Some years I’m in the mood for something citrusy and others for something involving a little more chocolate. (Next year’s is going to be chocolate orange, I’ve already decided.)

 

Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Biscotti Recipe

 

It keeps perfectly well for days and when combined with a tin of tea leaves, a bag of freshly roasted coffee or a bottle of something is the perfect last minute gift for someone. No matter how hard we try there’s always someone we didn’t think we’d see but now seemingly will or maybe even someone who got you a present you entirely weren’t expecting. This is where the biscotti and the coffee come in.

This year I played around with adding herbs to the mix before finally settling on Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio. When you’re done simply add a good handful to a bag, tie up with string and add a label.

 

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

 

These little brown paper bags are from IKEA and perfectly match the wrapping paper I went with this year. If you’re into your wrapping you can take a closer look at that here.

 

Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Biscotti Recipe

Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Biscotti

150g plain flour

125g caster sugar

2 tsp baking powder

Zest of 2 lemons

100g dried apricots

150g unshelled (and unsalted) pistachios

A handful of thyme sprigs

2 eggs

2 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees fan.

In a bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and lemon zest. Once this is done set it to one side and roughly chop the apricots and pistachios – you want to be able to see the colours from both as you slice the biscotti. Pick the leaves from the sprig of thyme and add them to your flour mixture and stir in the apricots and pistachios.

In a separate bowl lightly beat eggs and milk together before adding to the dry mix. Fork through until it starts to clump together before getting your hands in and bringing together into a dough. If it feels a little too sticky add a fraction more flour.

Tip the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and need briefly to make sure all of your fruit and nuts are combined. Split the dough into two equal balls, roll into a fat sausage and place each on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Once it’s on the sheet you can perfect the shaping, don’t worry. You’re looking for them both to be around 20cm long and 6cm or so wide. The mixture should be playable so shape as you will.

Bake the biscotti in the oven for 25-30 minutes. In this time you’ll see it will have risen and spread out slightly, along with taking on a soft golden colour.

Remove from the oven and careful transfer the loaf to a chopping board by just picking up the greaseproof paper. With a serrated bread knife cut the loaf diagonally into 1cm thick slices.

When both loaves are slices, lay the pieces out flat on the baking trays and return to the oven. As you do turn the temperate down to 130 degrees fan and bake for 10 minutes before flipping the biscotti over and baking for a further 5 minutes.

When you take the biscotti out of the oven it should be firm and crisp but when pressed still retain a slight toast-like texture when pressed. Transfer to a rack to cool down before packaging up the biscotti in little bags or glass jars.

 

Lemon, Thyme & Pistachio Biscotti Recipe

 

 

Leave a comment
Christmas, Interiors, My Home

The Perfect Host. Getting The Guest Bedroom Ready For Christmas.

Soak & Sleep Jacquard Bedding

 

When I made the move back from London two years ago I was adamant I had to have a place with a guest bedroom. There was going to be long weekends, filled with friends who’ve made the journey up to Newcastle to visit. I’d make them epic breakfasts, they’d revel in the glory of the soft guest towels and it would be an all round glorious experience for all involved. The reality is somewhat different it has to be said. In those two years the room has been used just twice as a guest room. The rest of those days have seen it filled with everything I didn’t want to appear anywhere else in the flat. From hoovers to Christmas wreaths and mountains of shoe boxes, it’s been a little abused.

Upon receiving the message to say someone was coming to stay I was stupidly excited. I do love to play host. Rather quickly however the dread set in. Where would the hoover go? Where would I put those ladders I had to buy to paint the hallway without realising I wouldn’t be able to store them anywhere afterwards? Exactly where had I stored the spare pillowcases?

 

Soak & Sleep Bed Linen

 

I think to some extent we all like to play the host. Inviting someone into our home and doing our best to make them feel welcome isn’t just about making the guest feel good, but it’s about the desire to make sure you’ve made someone else happy. I don’t think that’s ever more the case than at Christmas, so when a Christmas guest is coming, it just makes it all even more exciting.

After a ruthless clear out involving equal quantities of charity bags and bin bags, I set about preparing the room for the arrival of its temporary inhabitant. I first like to start with making sure it smells welcoming, which you may think is a little odd, but to me scent is one of the most important things about a home. The room is unused for the most part so there’s always going to be the familiar smell that goes with a forgotten room. Light a candle or bring in a diffuser a day or two before so it has time to alter the room’s scent. If (again, like myself) you haven’t had the radiator on in there in a while, make sure you do it a few days before. Even the most thorough cleaners can’t get rid of the scent of a disused radiator kicking into action. If anyone was to make a candle of this unpleasant scent I imagine it would be entitled ‘Scorched Dust’.

I plump the pillows that have now been extracted from their vacuum packed storage beneath the bed and jostle with the feather duvet. There’s nothing like sinking into a squishy cloud of a bed. When it comes to bedlinen, I’m picky to say the least. I like things to remain white or neutral so everything feels as fresh as possible. This beautiful jacquard set from Soak & Sleep are a soft oatmeal in colour, flecked with a light grey slub.

 

Soak & Sleep Bed Linen

Soak & Sleep Bed Linen

 

I team them with white sheets and layer with a grey waffle bedspread. A throw or bedspread is essential in my eyes – we’re all very different when it comes to temperature. I find myself cold approximately 99.7% of the time, never more so than when in bed. Folding it neatly across the bottom of the bed allows your guest to adjust as they see fit without having to ask.

 

Soak & Sleep Jacquard Bedding

I’ve still not quite got around to buying a full set of furniture for the room so a bedside table arrives in the makeshift form of a stack of magazines. They’re satisfyingly white and if my guests can’t sleep, there’s something to read. A win/win. As it’s Christmas – and I have an abundance of decorations I’ve still yet to find a home for – I add a simple felt stocking and the star garland I spent the night before making. Having just discovered exactly how to make the stars I’ve now thrown them at just about every surface, present and person I’ve come into contact with.

 

Soak & Sleep Bed Linen

 

Finish with a carafe of water (I hear guests like to be hydrated) and a set of your fluffiest towels. Giving guests a set of white towels always makes me slightly nervous, 1. because I’ve seen the level of eyeliner some of my friends adorn themselves with and 2. because I know it also makes them feel nervous as they too know the level of eyeliner they adorn themselves with. With that in mind, my guest towels are always grey. Let’s preserve both of our nerves.

The bedding featured in this post was kindly gifted by Soak & Sleep

1 Comment
Christmas, Shop

How to add a touch of style to your Christmas wrapping.

I’ve often thought that my true calling in life was actually as a present wrapper. The reality of this not really being all that much of a feasible profession has held me back from pursuing the dream. In an attempt to make up for this I go all out with my Christmas wrapping. There’s even an annual theme that everyone has to follow.

Some may say I have too much time on my hands, I prefer to think of it as just a very real dedication to making sure everyone feels pretty darn special upon receiving a gift.

 

Christmas Wrapping With Origami

 

Last year I went monochrome (a surprise, I know) with a bit of brass thrown in there in form of a metallic polka dot. The majority of the wrapping was done with a relatively cheap white Kraft paper, the polka dot serving as a highlight here and there. The ribbons were varying widths of black and white grosgrain, with the gift tags being the main event. I found the embossed ‘Ho Ho Ho’ tags in M&S and knew immediately they were me in a gift tag. Sadly for 2017 I wasn’t able to find anything quite so cool on the tag front.

 

Monochrome Christmas Gift Wrapping

 

And so without further ado, I present to you this year’s Christmas wrapping. For 2017 I’ve based it around a set of three papers I found in IKEA (the purveyors of great wrapping paper), each with a painted white design on. For the glorious sum of £4 you’ll find yourself with three different designs – 21 metres of paper in total. Unless you’ve got a really rather large family, that’s probably going to do your entire haul.

 

Contemporary Chiristmas Gift Wrap

Contemporary Christmas Wrapping Idea

Origami Paper Christmas Star

Gift Wrapping For Christmas

Contemporary Christmas Gift Wrapping

 

To contrast the brown paper I’ve used white Kraft and folded in into strips, as well as using it to create some origami stars to neatly tuck beneath the white and grey grosgrain ribbon ties and subtle touches of jute twine. Whilst trawling Berlin’s homewares scene earlier in the year I came across some wooden Christmas decorations, printed with a copper feather. I’ll be using them as a tag on some presents, with stamped luggage tags everywhere else.

 

Contemporary Christmas Wrapping Idea

Handmade Stamped Gift Tag

 

As a kid I remember having so many Christmas cards that we struggled to find a home for them, pinning them to ribbons that hung down the walls until they were so heavy they inevitably fell down. Today I get just one or two, but I still make sure I send them out none the less. This year I have two different types; a beautiful embossed snowflake card from Smythson and a contemporary bauble design from one of my favourite brands, Mark + Fold.

 

Smythson Christmas Card

Smythson Christmas Card

Mark + Fold Christmas Card

Mark + Fold Christmas Card

 

If you tend to find Christmas wrapping a little too much of a chore to be all that enjoyable I’ve put together my six tips on doing it like a pro. If none of these work for you, I’m available for hire.

 

  • One. If it’s an awkward shape, box it.

    ‘Awkward’ I suppose can be altered to match your own wrapping abilities; cylinders aren’t exactly fun but they can be done. Teddy bears however? Buy a box. When it comes to wrapping, like most things, I like neat edges and crisp shapes. This can mean the thought of wrapping irregular shapes makes me wince. If you think it will be difficult to wrap then there is no shame to be had in boxing it up. Whether it’s a gift box you buy or simply one you reuse (and preferably cover with paper), it’s going to make life much easier.

 

  • Two. Never underestimate the power of brown paper and luggage tags.

    I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve wrapped with brown paper. It will never fail to look good and forms the perfect backdrop to a contrasting patterned paper or even just another colour. Luggage tags work perfectly as gift tags, especially if you’ve opted to use brown paper too. Tie them on with some twine and stamp the receiver’s name on to make it personal. Or just write it nicely, I’m aware not everyone will want to spend as much time as I do on a gift tag.

 

  • Three. Invest in a good paper and use it wisely.

    Sometimes I find myself falling for a wrapping paper that comes with a somewhat hefty price tag. This year I found some beautiful handmade papers in my local Paperchase, but at £2.75 per A2 sheet, they aren’t too feasible for wrapping a tree’s worth of gifts. So instead, buy a sheet of each to slice up and use as narrow bands over brown paper wrapping. Or, if you’re feeling particularly crafty, fold it neatly into origami stars to decorate each package. You’ll get a whole stack of stars out of a sheet and they’ll work perfectly with a presents wrapped in a plainer (and somewhat cheaper paper).

     

    Handmade Paperchase Wrapping Paper

  • Four. Magic Tape is your friend.

    It’s invisible and far less of faff than double-sided. You notice how I only mention those two types, that’s because those are the only options. General shiny Sellotape is not okay guys.

 

  • Five. Take your time and do it bit by bit.

    If you try and do it all in one go you’ll burn out and end up with some questionable Christmas wrapping by the end of it. Just take it easy, wrap a few whilst you watch the TV each night. It’s far less painful.

 

  • Six. Use eBay.

    All of my grosgrain ribbon, Washi tape, Kraft Paper and jute string comes from eBay. I assure you it’s the most affordable source for the extra pieces. You can find every width and colour of grosgrain or satin ribbon imaginable on there, all available in larger volumes.

     

    Origami Paper Christmas Star

Leave a comment
Christmas, Interiors, My Home

The first Saturday in December.

Decorating The Christmas Tree

 

Like clockwork my Christmas tree always goes up on the first Saturday of December. It’s a ritual I’m very particular about and I take it very seriously. I’m going to warn you of this from the get go.

The week leading up to Saturday I begin to dust off the decorations from their resting place beneath the bed and take stock of what, if anything, needs to be replaced or added to. Most of you will more than likely now be over the shock of discovering my tree doesn’t consist of white decorations, but rather a sort of clash of any kind of burnished metal I’ve been able to lay my hands on. If this is brand new information for you, head to my blog post on baubles and decorations here.

 

Vintage Glass Christmas Baubles

 

I would tend to think of myself as a minimalist who occasionally dabbles in the idea of a very mild and strictly moderated form of excess. This dabbling happens rarely and you’ll most likely see it appear in the way of clusters of vases or candles, or in the volume of cushions I pile onto my relatively modest sofa. At Christmas however it surfaces much more prominently. Whilst my Christmas decorations perhaps aren’t too minimal, I’m going to confess that I do actually remove a lot of other objects from my rooms over the period to make everything feel a bit less cluttered. Clutter unnerves me. Vases, candle holders and even books find themselves packed away into large boxes and slid unceremoniously beneath the bed for the festive period.

At Christmas I also find myself making an unusual journey into a style that’s a little bit more traditional than I might normally go for. For me, the tree has to be real. I appreciate I have the luxury of not having the worry of whether an animal or child will send it flying, but fake tress just don’t do it for me. Too uniform in their appearance and unnatural in their silhouette; I just can’t substitute them for a real one. You can’t take the smell of the pine needles that will invariably find themselves attached to everything you own, although Jo Malone London definitely do a good job at trying.

 

Decorating the christmas Tree

 

As Saturday the 2nd of December arrived I was pretty giddy and entirely unashamed. Having spent the evening prior rearranging my living room to make way for its arrival, I was all set. On my way home I’d called in to purchase some mince pies (a mid-decorating coffee break essential) and a new blade for my saw. Last year – after my local farm shop sold sold the last 6ft tree despite my reservation – I ended up with a 9ft tree that required an hour’s worth of sawing to simply make it fit in the stand. I’m not even going to pretend to you I didn’t first try a bread knife because I did. I swiftly realised this wasn’t my best idea and I needed to purchase a saw. This year I was determined to be prepared for every eventuality.

The music goes on (a dedicated playlist created for this exact that you’ll helpfully find below for your listening pleasure), a winter-scented candle is lit and then it all can begin. First the lights, so here’s a good two hours of your day. One probably to untangle and drape them around the tree, the second to rearrange until they’re near perfect. With having such a big tree I tend to always need two sets of lights and with that in mind I purchased a set of 500 bright white lights from Dunelm. If you’re considering this yourself, don’t. Despite having 500 bulbs, they are arranged on a relatively short flex and are all of about 2 mm apart from each other. I’m sure most people won’t notice the difference between the lighting sets, I however will. Every single day. They also revert back to flashing mode whenever you turn them off, so for the first five minutes of them being on I’m mostly just trying to stop the rave occurring in my front room.

 

 

Next the larger, heavier baubles find themselves spaced intermittently around the tree. These can always prove to be rather tricky I find, particularly with the more vintage styles. Their immense weight just pulls the branches down in a rather ungainly fashion, so the ones that will house these little treasures need to be picked very precisely.

 

Vintage Glass Christmas Bauble

 

Once they’re safely in place and I’ve performed my test (a quick, sharp knock to the trunk to see if anything is a little to precarious),  it’s time for the medium ones. On my tree these baubles are varying shades of matte silver that came as part of an amazing set from Rockett St George a few years back, sadly they don’t seem to produce them anymore. Their dull finish breaks up the copper and bronze tones to stop it becoming too monotone before the smaller ‘filler’ baubles and decorations go on. You’re now becoming aware of how seriously I take this aren’t you?

 

Handpainted Christmas Bauble

Vintage Glass Christmas Bauble

 

Despite several years of looking I still haven’t found a tree topper that can come close to being described as ‘the one’, so instead the top of the tree is adorned by two paper stars I quickly made the night before with a little help from YouTube. I say ‘quickly’, there was nothing ‘quick’ about it I assure you. The recycling bag is filled with the failed attempts. Origami is apparently not my forte.

 

Decorating The Christmas Tree

For the first time this year I also decided to also purchase a second tree. This one’s a little more modest in its size. At a mere £10 from Sainsbury’s it just had to be brought home with me. The ugly black plastic pot it came in however wasn’t going to find a place in my home so needed to be hidden. I wrapped the pot in a plastic bag to hold in any water then set about wrapping it in brown paper and tying it up with twine. The white porcelaine stars from The White Company that decorate it make it all feel rather Nordic – something I’m absolutely okay with. The little orb lights were a much more successful Dunelm purchase: these I can and will recommend.

 

Nordic Christmas Tree

 

Happy weekend of tree decorating people. May it be filled with the scent of pine needles and warm mince pies.

Modern Christmas Tree Stand

|1.| Harbor Housewares Tree Stand |2.| Jo Malone Scented Decoration |3.| The White Company Fir Tree Scented Candle |4.| Ferm Living Tree Topper |5.| Ferm Living Tree Stand |6.| Brass Christmas Tree Candle Holders |7.| Jo Malone Pine & Eucalyptus Scented Candle

 

 

Leave a comment
Christmas, Interiors, Shop

Life without tinsel. The Contemporary Christmas Edit.

Vintage Glass Christmas Baubles

 

As a child our Christmas trees were what you might call ‘eclectic’. A riotous collision of decorations crafted from lolly pop sticks and Dairylea containers, with vivid green ornaments we’d received with the Happy Meals at McDonald’s. You know the ones, Christmas baubles emblazoned with The Hamburglar and Ronald himself. When I think back to the Christmas trees of my childhood it isn’t without fondness, there’s just a little tinge of shame in there also.

We always had the best time decorating the tree each year, all three of us doing it as a family whilst listening to the one Christmas CD we happened to own. My brother and I would fight over who got to throw the shiny silver strands of ‘Angel hair’ over the branches, and kick up a stink if we weren’t the one to place the star atop the tree. Whilst the fondness for the task is still very much there, the enjoyment of a chaotic array of colours and the zealous use of tinsel is most definitely not. Over the years those decorations have been lost to clear outs and decoration culls, making way for a precise colour scheme that presents an all together more adult version of Christmas at our family home.

My own tree is a collection of baubles and ornaments I’ve collected over the years I’ve been living outside of the family home. I like to think of the tree as something that evolves over time, the collection of decorations something that expands each year as you add in something new to the mix.

 

Copper Glass Christmas Bauble

 

I like objects to have a memory or event attached to them. I’ve often said I can pinpoint events and times in my life to items and objects and perhaps none more so than the glass items that hang from the branches of my Christmas tree. This year I visited Berlin for the first time and returned with three handcrafted baubles from a little boutique in Mitte. Each time I hang those decorations on the tree I’ll think about where I found them and how they came to end up on the tree. There’s only one of each (due to budgetary constraints), which does generally break my rules of three, but in a way, I quite like that. They’ll stand alone against the crowd.

None of this is to say I am in anyway averse to the purchasing of a bauble from the high street. Trees should be eclectic, even when there’s a scheme in place. Shockingly my tree isn’t an all-white affair but rather a clash of metallic tones. Coppers, brass, matt silver and clear glass… with one of two grey decorations in there for good measure. There’s odd baubles picked up in the January sales from the John Lewis home department and hand-painted shell spheres from Toast that were excitedly unearthed in an Outlet; all sitting alongside the more token ornaments that arrive to the branches with a memory in tow.

A tree is a work in progress. Each year buy something new and add to the scheme. Look further afield than your usual High Street giants and you might find the most amazing little pieces. Most importantly of all, remember that tinsel is not something I can in any way endorse. Even ironically. It’s time in the festive spotlight is over.

 

The White Company Glass Christmas Decoration

The White Company’s Spun Glass Baubles feature tiny strands of spun glass beneath a perfect glass sphere.

 

Gold Christmas Decorations

 

Stylistically I sit between the traditionalist and the contemporary camps. I avoid anything that might be considered ‘twee’ and too traditional, yet I’m not quite ready to commit to life fully as a Christmas minimalist. There’s beauty to be had in a really minimal Christmas that’s for sure, but I just can’t help but want a little bit more excess. It is Christmas after all.

If you find yourself leaning towards the more contemporary of schemes, then you’re in luck. I’ve pulled together an edit of my favourite contemporary ornaments. Go forth and invest in something you’ll treasure for years to come.

 

Contemporary Christmas Bauble Edit

|1.| IBen Bach Studio Brass Ornaments |2. & 3.| Ferm Living Brass Ornaments |4.|H&M Home Glass Baubles |5.| House Doctor Brass Decorations |6.| The Conran Shop Glass Bauble |7.| Zara Home Matte Baubles |8.| COS Die Cut Decorations

Leave a comment
Design, Interiors, My Home, Shop

A Design Essential That Won’t Break The Bank

 This is a sponsored post produced in collaboration with IKEA.

 

I truly believe the concept of one’s eyes being too big for their belly can also be applied to interior design. Have you ever fallen in love with an item so immediately you find yourself standing there, all alone in the deserted aisle, clutching an inanimate object to your chest whilst your mind runs over every last inch of your home? Where can it live? Where will it fit? Where can it be stored until a place it can fit and live can be located? Perhaps you haven’t, maybe it’s just my own inability to let go… For me however, it seems to occur all too regularly.

 

 

The most recent object of my affection resides – perhaps unsurprisingly – within the YPPERLIG collection I’ve been championing for quite sometime. Arriving with a price tag of only £12, yet crafted from solid birch wood, IKEA and HAY’s wall shelf is the kind of piece I never knew I even needed in my life. That was until I saw it gazing out at me from the collection’s lookbook anyway. I knew I had to make it mine. It was going to be the shelf of dreams. Casually (yet artfully) styled with those images I tear from magazines and never know where to put and those postcards I pick up but then again never quite know what to do with. It was to be the modernist version of the pin board and a stellar edition to my home.

It could be a tad bold to say this, but I think this may actually be my favourite piece of the collection. It’s clean, modern design isn’t exactly something you tend to find in the ‘mass market’ often, especially not for such a ridiculously achievable price.

To date this shelf of dreams has found itself in three locations in my flat, moved from pillar to post as I backtrack on my decision of its rightful home. Sometimes when you love something you’ve got to try real hard.

My first thought was for it to sit beside the gallery wall in my dining room but something just wasn’t right. I already feel that wall is somewhat unbalanced as it is, so adding a rather large weight to one end was in hindsight a glaring error. I was a fool. I also feel that wall is one for a later post; ‘When Gallery Walls Go Wrong’. Watch this space.

 

 

Secondly it arrived in my living room, positioned to the side of the two large black and white photographs that flank the left hand wall. This time I came prepared with Command strips and temporarily hung it in place. Down it came. I couldn’t bring myself to photograph that incorrectly gauged experiment as evidence here, so I swiftly moved on.

Its third appearance took place in the same room, positioned directly behind the sofa on the mass blank wall that has plagued me for quite some time. There, off to one side, it all fell into place. It found its home.

Each of the shelf’s sections can play host to any manner of objects, held in place by a bungee cord threaded through. With the addition of some black bulldog clips it was also able to accomodate those odd little tags and business cards I’ve kept floating around at the bottom of drawers.

 

 

Exactly what will be going on the rest of that massive wall is, at this moment in time, still alluding me however.

If you find yourself in possession of £12 and fancy creating your own YPPERLIG conundrum, the shelf is now available to buy online and in store.

 

 

Leave a comment