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Interiors, My Home

How To Create The Perfect Gallery Wall.

How To Hang A Gallery Wall

 

It’s easy to forget that in this world of highly stylised homes that not everything goes right first time, our homes are as much a case of trial and error as our haircuts or our choice in jeans might have been. There will be times it goes wrong and there will be times you wish to eradicate from existence. My dining room’s gallery wall is testament to the fact that sometimes it just doesn’t go right.

Despite following all of the steps that I’m about to outline below, it was wrong. The layout was unbalanced, the frames too close together and the imagery just wasn’t very cohesive. I’m, perhaps unsurprisingly, a visual person. I see things perfectly in my mind and then when the reality doesn’t allign with that image in my head I get rather angry. The gallery bugged me from day one. I hung the final picture, I stepped backwards, looked up at the afternoon’s work and hated every last bit of it.

Despite this it managed to stay for a full year, mostly because I couldn’t bring myself to readdress it until now.

 

How To Hang A Gallery Wall  How To Hang A Gallery Wall

 

The ground work.

Have an aim. If that aim is for a multi-coloured, eclectic gallery including all sorts of tones and imagery; then great! Spend time collecting the objects and artwork that will fill that space and create the look you want. Find them over time, let the collection evolve. Clicking ‘add to basket’ on a selection of prints from the same online store may well give you a very cohesive, stylish gallery wall, but it won’t give you a very personal one. Spend time saving things, printing out photos you like, ripping out pages from things and save them up.

If your aim is for something deliberately cohesive then define what exactly that means. Is it all one tone you’re looking for, or all one theme of imagery perhaps? Once you know the sort of colour spectrum you want the gallery to go through you can source the imagery to fill it with or in some cases adapt imagery that doesn’t suit to be something that does. Quite often I’ll simply convert an image to black and white through Photoshop and send off for it to be printed. As you might expect most of the imagery included in my gallery wall is rather monochromatic. No-one is shocked by this.

 

Kate Moss Gold Vogue Cover

 

Go on a hunt.

When it comes to sourcing for your gallery wall – think outside the box. The internet is filled with retailers of typography prints, but so are the magazines you’ve kept in stacks around your house for the past few years. Buy vintage magazines from eBay (French Vogue is perfect for beautiful typefaces, not to mention editorial images), collect postcards from exhibitions you go to and even rip images out of catalogues if you find them appealing. It might not be apparent from first inspection but a lot of the images that fill the gallery wall in my hallway are actually taken from Toast catalogues.

 

Gallery wall

Gallery wall layout

 

An impartial and unsponsored view on frames.

So you’ve sourced your collection of images and miscellaneous items. It’s time to frame. As a general rule of thumb if I’m looking for a coloured frame, ie black in most cases, it will likely be a cheaper purchase. The oak frames however I would tend to spend a little more on to avoid any plastic looking ‘wood’ creeping in. Your eye will automatically go towards the wooden frames over the solid black, so if possible it’s a good idea to focus your budget on these.

The majority of the black frames I use have been sourced from IKEA or Desenio, with the solid oak frames that feature throughout my flat being from Habitat.

It’s true they’re more expensive, heavier (Habitat’s tend to come with glass rather than perspex in) and all together a bit more of a mission to hang due to their weight, they are beautifully made, sturdy and built to last. My favourite range, Rona, has unfortunately now been discontinued, so I’ve been making do with the Trieste and Ontario ranges instead.

If you find your images are all a little on the smaller side then make them all the more of a feature by double mounting them, allowing you to place the image within a much larger frame. For mounts I always use The Picture Gallery & Framing Centre. You can select the card, the thickness, the colour and the precise dimensions of the mounts you’ll require, all for an incredibly reasonable price. Doubling up on the mounts is a great to vary the scale of the frames in your gallery without purchasing huge images.

You’ll probably have noticed that I don’t tend to frame all of my artwork, some is simply taped to the wall with Washi tape, sourced from eBay in various colours and designs. Working like this allows your wall to really adapt and change over time. If I find a postcard I love it will likely find itself included in a gallery somewhere, as might a page from a magazine or even a label from a piece of clothing I’ve got. To me working like this just makes everything feel a little more personal and a little less formal!

 

Keira Knightley Interview Cover

 

Start on the floor.

Clear some space and lay all of your frames and images down on the ground. Play around with layout and placement of everything, if you’re using different coloured frames it’s a good time to start spreading them out evenly. You might find you need some more landscape images, or some smaller pieces.

 

Gallery wall layout

 

Find the centre.

If you’re filling a section of a wall rather than a full wall then mark the wall’s dead centre (or at least the centre of the area you want to focus the gallery on) and fan out from that point. It doesn’t have to be symmetrical, but it should be balanced.

 

Gallery wall layout

 

Mock it up.

Once I have a rough idea of the kind of layout I want from laying everything out on the floor, I draw round each frame on brown paper and cut it out. At this point it’s a good idea to also mark on the paper exactly where you’ll need a nail to be hammered in. Then when everything is in place you can hammer it straight through the paper then simply rip it off.

When each frame is cut out of paper start sticking them to the wall with masking tape to mimic the layout on the floor, using your central point as a guide. Here you can start to work on the spacing between the frames. I don’t measure the spacing between the frames but would roughly keep it the same, varying it between smaller frames if they’re going to be sitting as part of a group within the gallery itself.

I definitely recommend doing this on a morning and going about your day, checking back in over the course of the day. The first draft of the layout is very rarely the one I end up going with. Over the course of the day I’ll unstick and move the shapes closer together, higher up or off the wall entirely until I feel I’ve reached the perfect layout.

Thanks to the handy nail marks you made before taping the paper to the wall you can now quickly hammer in the nails for everything, ripping out the paper as you go. Easy.

 

Sunspel Sunset Postcard

How To Hang A Gallery Wall

How To Hang A Gallery Wall

 

Nothing’s permanent. 

As my own wall proves, it can easily be changed if it isn’t right. Using the Washi tape allows me to shift and alter the wall over time, adding more things as I find them but also taking things away to leave more space or even be replaced by a freshly framed fine. Let it evolve over time and allow it to become personal. Everybody can have the perfectly manicured gallery wall from glossy online store but only you’ll have the gallery you piece together over time.

 

Washi Tape

How To Hang A Gallery Wall

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Design, Interiors, My Home

Styling Scandinavian Design Classics With Amara

This is a sponsored post produced in collaboration with Amara.

 

Ferm Living Ripple Carafe

 

Styling and the process involved in creating an image has always been what I enjoy the most about working on the blog. When I decided to leave London and head back to the North East I left behind a job where doing just that was my day-to-day and pretty much something I took for granted. Now, with that a lifetime away, whenever the opportunity to really play with products and creating imagery arrises I’m always incredibly excited. Never more so than when Amara offered me the chance to style my favourite pieces from their incredible range.

A few years ago I decided to consciously alter the way I consumed things, stepping away from purchasing anything too trend-driven. I like to think the interiors of our home should evolve and progress over time, rather than being subject to entire clear outs when it turns out salmon pink is no longer the colour du jour. I started the year with the idea that I was going to try and make the good decisions and applied that approach to the approach here. Classic pieces that would never be subject to the whims of a trend, or worse still, boxed up and moved to the ‘spare bedroom of shame’ once my affections had wained.

 

Hay Concrete Flower Pot

Hay Brass Tray

Niki Jones Harlequin Cushion

 

If you’ve ever found yourself on the Amara site you’re probably aware of the incredible selection of brands they edit collections from. HAY, Normann Copenhagen, Ferm Living, MENU; it’s a veritable feast for anyone harbouring Scandinavian ambitions. Without delay the first category I found myself in was that of Danish brand Skagerak. They’re a label I’ve been following for quite a few years now, constantly saving and pinning images of their elegant designs. Their ethos is to create products that will span a lifetime if not longer. Sustainably sourced and beautifully crafted from the finest materials, everything is relatively quiet in its appearance. Saying something looks quiet is most definitely wrong, but that’s exactly how I’d describe it.

The Georg Stool: the stool that launched a thousand Instagram posts. It’s just as perfect in person as it is sitting on the accounts of some of Denmark’s finest tastemakers. I’m aware this could sound rather odd but if you ever find yourself within touching distance of the stool, feel it. It’s so beautifully shaped, smooth and tactile underneath. It’s exactly how a piece of furniture should be for me. Immaculately executed and built to last.

 

Skagerak Georg Stool

Skagerak Georg Stool

HAY concrete flower pot

 

Ferm Living’s ripple carafe and stacking glasses have been on my hit list for quite some time too, equally as perfect for a mid-afternoon G&T as they are filled with water for your bedside. You can decide which.

 

Niki Jones Harlequin Cushion

Normann Copenhagen Block Side Table

 

You can explore my full Amara edit and see how I styled them in my own home as part Amara‘s shoppable Home Inspiration gallery. If you haven’t already taken a look, you’re missing out.

 

Amara Scandinavian Edit

 

|1.| Ferm Living Ripple Carafe |2.| Ferm Living Ripple Tumblers |3.| Vitra Eames House Bird |4.| Hay Brass Tray |5.| Skagerak Georg Stool |6.| Skagerak Norr Tray |7.| Serax Bowl |8.| Hay Glass Container |9.| Hay Large Glass Container |10.| Anglepoise Type 75 Desk Lamp |11.| Niki Jones Harlequin Cushion

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Design, Interiors, My Home

Goodbye Blue, Hello Grey

Ikea HEMNES Bookcase In Little Greene Gauze Deep

 

Sometimes the reality of an idea isn’t quite as amazing as the image you’ve had filling your head.  Despite looking absolutely perfectly and seeming like an excellent idea in your head, some ideas just don’t pan out. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing, if anything for me it’s only made me more aware of what my own style is. Sometimes you have to venture out of your comfort zone only to confirm exactly what it is you love.

I’m a big believer in visual balance and proportions – if you’re familiar with my Instagram you’re probably are of exactly how much I like (mostly white) space around objects. Visually it’s important to me for things to be balanced with the space around them. My living room’s chimney breast is flanked by two almost identical alcoves, one contained a black television unit whilst in the other sat a large bookcase I had the grand idea of painting in Little Greene‘s Basalt. If you’re unfamiliar, that’s a really beautiful shade of teal blue, pictured below. (Please excuse the less than minimal styling on this one…)

 

IKEA Hemnes Bookcase Painted In Little Greene Basalt

 

“Blue?!” I hear you say. Yes, blue.

I had it in my head for months before moving into the flat that I wanted a large teal blue bookcase. I’m not quite sure why, perhaps I’d seen some similar in an image somewhere, but in my head it was going to be perfect for the space. It would be the only real colour within the room; a bit of a decor curve ball. The colour was beautiful and I certainly don’t regret that aspect of the decision, but it just never sat right within the room.

The black fireplace beside it, along with the black TV unit made the entire wall heavy and clunky. The only three dark things in the room sat in a row and it pushed the whole room out of balance. All of the heavy aspects sat on the one wall, severely weighting your eyes in one direction when you were in the room.

 

Ikea HEMNES Bookcase In Little Greene Gauze Deep

Ikea HEMNES Bookcase In Little Greene Gauze Deep

 

I bought the bookcase, IKEA’s HEMNES in natural pine, knowing I would be painting it straight away. It’s a sturdy piece of furniture despite the disappointingly flimsy veneer backing panel. With the wood being untreated painting it wasn’t exactly an easy task. A coat of white and three coats of Basalt later, it was done.

As soon as I pushed it back into the alcove I knew it wasn’t right. Sometimes you just know it. Instantly. In the end I left it that way for the best part of a year, cropping it out of most images of the room. Last week, whilst taking some time off from the day job, I decided it was time to update it to something far more familiar; grey. I’m all for a healthy dose of grey. This time around I opted for Little Greene’s Gauze Deep, kindly provided for the project by Little Greene. Narrowing down the vast shades the brand produce was a lengthy process that involved lots of thoughtful gazes at hurriedly painted swatches. All of which turned out to be very, very similar.

 

Little Greene Gauze Deep

 

A thick coat of white paint went on first to ensure the Basalt was blocked out, before a single coat of the Deep Gauze.

I’ve always found Little Greene’s paint to be the best out there and that’s an opinion formed without payment from anyone and actually a conclusion I came to many years before this blog was even a concept. The fact I managed to get away with just one liberal coat of the paint was incredibly welcome. You don’t realise exactly how long it takes to paint every last nook and cranny of a bookcase.

The jury is still out on whether I should have put a top coat or matt varnish on to project it from any scuffs. I have issues with shiny or glossy surfaces and much prefer things to appear absolutely matte, so I actually opted for eggshell to paint the piece. It has such a lovely flat finish so I’m loathe to add any form of sheen to it with a varnish, although I’m sure three months down the line when there’s scuffs, marks and soot-lines from the various candles and matches that fill the shelves, I’ll be regretting this decision.

 

IKEA Hemnes Bookcase in Little Green Deep Gauze

Ikea HEMNES Bookcase In Little Greene Gauze Deep

 

Styling wise I won’t even pretend to disguise the fact I painstakingly selected the books that could remain on the shelves. I did indeed literally judge every book by its cover. I’m all for a colour coded bookshelf.

I’ve been really trying to live without so many objects around, mostly born out of the desire to have a much more minimal interior. To the top and bottom of the bookcase you’ll see two beautiful handmade baskets from Artisanne. Inside each you’ll find a plethora of matches, candles, candle holders, spare buttons, tape measures and around nine tubes of hand cream, but from the outside? Beautiful baskets.

You’ll find both the Small Round Basket and the Small Alibaba Basket on their site now.

 

The White Company Pomegranate Candle

Artisanne Woven Basket

Ikea HEMNES Bookcase In Little Greene Gauze Deep

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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
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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

 

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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.

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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

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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

 

 

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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.

 

 

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Design, Interiors, My Home, Shop

IKEA x HAY. YPPERLIG IS HERE.

This is a sponsored post produced in collaboration with IKEA.

 

It’s funny how a brand so rooted and celebratory in its Scandinavian heritage can feel such an intrinsic part of the way we live our day-to-day lives here in Britain. I can measure my life in pieces of IKEA furniture.

At the age of twelve, the first time I was allowed to make a decision as to how my own room was going to be decorated, I was taken to IKEA. I painstakingly selected my wardrobe – the metal draws with separate compartments for my socks, the sleek white doors and the brushed steel handles. There was the EKTORP sofa I used to sit on to watch Friends. The first time around.
Then when I was eighteen and flew the family nest to start my own journey to finding a home my first flat was peppered with beech-effect Malm. Now, at the age of thirty, I sit on a Nockeby sofa I saved up for months to buy, writing this very blog. 

 

IKEA X HAY YPPERLIG Shelving Unit

 

IKEA’s offering has evolved somewhat since the days of my teenage wardrobe, but it’s still just as relevant as it ever was. October marks the release of the Swedish brand’s latest collaboration, YPPERLIG. Designed in conjunction with Danish design house HAY, the collection’s aim is simply to celebrate the beauty of the basic. That’s an idea I can get behind.

On a somewhat stormy Saturday morning in late October I drew out my allen key, carefully laid out the instructions before me and set about on the task of incorporating my favourite pieces from the collection into the millergrey household.

 

 

It would turn out not to be the six foot steel and birch wood bookcase that would prove a conundrum for the single-handed worker, but instead it was to be a bench consisting of just four simple pieces. I lost several hours to that piece. You won’t see the bench feature much here. Not because I’m not in love with it I should clarify, but more because I just need some time to not look at it, you know? Distance.

 

 

The bookcase however, you will be seeing a lot of. Made from a series of metal planks with a pale grey finish, the design is bookended (pun intended) with two solid birch ladders. My affection for the dark teal bookcase that originally stood in the alcove has been waining in recent months. It felt to imposing against the black fireplace; too dark, too dominating. YPPERLIG’s view on the bookcase couldn’t be more different. Minimal, clean, light and airy. So whilst I may have to find 93% of the original bookcase’s content a new home, I’m much happier with the lighter appearance.

 

 

Elsewhere in the collection – and for the double-take inducing price of £12 – you’ll find the metal magazine wrack you never even knew you needed. I can’t help but feel that calling it a magazine wrack does it a disservice? Use it as a bedside table, use it as a side table or even, as Instagram has shown to great effect, use it as a plant stand.

£12. This is not an error.

 

 

On the accessories front you happen to also be in for a treat. Popping #YPPERLIG into your Instagram’s search function will result in a sea of the collection’s candle holders and votives. There are three different designs in total, all of which deserve a place in your household. The most widely shared of those and now as permanent a fixture on Instagram as pristinely unread copy of Cereal being a £4.99 three-piece set that can double as candlesticks as well as tealight holders.

 

 

For the most part the colour palette remains neutral and practical, with hints of pattern and colour arriving in a series of trays, cushions and super-soft throws. Naturally I avoided all colour and instead opted for things in black, grey and white. I’m a one-trick pony and unashamed of the fact.

 

 

Next week I’ll be showcasing my favourite piece of the collection, not shown above. Or at least I will be if I could stop faffing with it enough to photograph it.

In the meantime, why not take a look at how I’ve been incorporating a few other pieces of the YPPERLIG collection into the millergrey household.

IKEA and HAY’s YPPERLIG collection is available online and in all IKEA stores now.

 

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