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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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Design, Interiors, My Home, Shop

A Living Room Update. Part One.

IKEA x HAY YPPERLIG Tray Table

If truth be told, I didn’t strictly need to do anything to my living room. I just really wanted to. I have a habit of convincing myself things are absolutely essential, if not imperative to my happiness in life. Saying that, there were very real reasons for wanting the living room update, but they definitely didn’t push it into the ‘absolutely essential’ category.

I had bought my previous sofa from DFS specifically for a rather narrow living room in flat I was living in at the time in Ealing. I definitely didn’t have the money to be buying sofas but it one was required and like much of the United Kingdom, I was drawn in by the ever-present DFS offer. You know the ones: ‘WAS £999, NOW £299 – BUT ONLY TILL TUESDAY’, which is of course swiftly followed by ‘OFFER EXTENDED!’. It’s all a con. They know it, you know, I know it, but still, when you can take the finance option and pay around £8 a month for a sofa, you do it. Picking a new sofa was the first step in the room’s overhaul. You can read my initial musings on that tricky topic here.

The sofa I eventually decided on was IKEA’s Two Seater Nockeby in Tallmyra White & Black. Surprisingly for me, I went with the chrome leg option. I visited my local store on numerous occasions to test it out prior to purchasing online, and it most definitely came out top. I even took two friends for back up opinions and thorough testing of its capacity.

IKEA Nockeby SofaIKEA x HAY YPPERLIG Tray Table

It’s comfy, it’s satisfyingly grey in appearance (yet is actually a two-tone black and white weave) and it is precisely the dose of modernity I wanted to inject into my living room.

IKEA Nockeby Sofa

Naivety took a hold of me when it came to the sofa’s delivery however. I had the incredibly bold idea I would simply be attaching the sofa’s legs and putting on the covers. An hour’s work at most. Well, I was wrong. As I was presented with three very large boxes, it all started to dawn on me. I had to build the sofa. It was a flatpack, of course it was. This is IKEA after all.

IKEA Nockeby Sofa Flat Pack Two SeaterIKEA Nockeby Sofa Flat Pack Two Seater No Covers

Several hours later and with some rather tricksy straddling, foot balancing and awkward bending, it was complete. Angels sang and golden beams of light descending from the heavens. Ish.

Now the sofa is safely installed, I can start to think about the rest of the room. I originally painted the room’s bookcase in Little Greene‘s Basalt Blue and still love it even now, but after much deliberation have decided it shall be going a pale shade of grey. I’d like it to blend in a little better. The side of the room it lives on has the large black fireplace and a black TV cabinet, so three large pieces of dark furniture in a row like that has always bothered me. It feels weighty in comparison to the lightness of the other half of the room.

IKEA Bookcase Painted In Little Greene Basalt

The next thing I’m going to be doing is making myself a desk area, complete with the freshly purchased HAY x IKEA YPPERLIG wall frame. I knew as soon I saw this piece in the lookbook that it would look fantastic hung directly above a shelf.  It’ll be a small desk area but I’m confident I’ll still be able to plan for world domination at it. Currently the corner of the room it will occupy is filled with what could possibly be several tonnes of magazines, so where these will be relocated is at the moment a little bit of a mystery. For now the frame is propped nonchalantly against the wall, awaiting some carefully selected images and magazines to be filed within it.

The YPPERLIG collection makes another appearance in the room in the form a new side table, replacing the set of nesting oak tables that I used to move around the room on a weekly basis. I’ve always loved the tables for their mid-century curved shape, but I can’t help but feel the tray table sits a little better with the sofa’s sharp lines.

IKEA x HAY YPPERLIG Tray TableIKEA Nockeby Grey Sofa

I’ve set aside September to get everything completed, all set and ready for the autumn’s arrival. I find myself spending so much more time in the room over the autumn and winter months, so what better time for it? The large wall behind the sofa has been irritatingly blank since I moved in due to my issues with artwork commitment, so that’s first on my list of things to sort after the desk. I’ve now decided I’m going to put my sewing machine to good use and make a wall hanging – something graphic and colourblocked. Maybe a greyscale Mondrian effect, but perhaps don’t quote me on that.

I’m also planning to make some new cushions, along with stepping up my search for a simple oak bench and the perfect footstool. If you find yourself interested, feel free to head over to Pinterest to check out my board.

 

 

IKEA x HAY YPPERLIG Collection

|1.| IKEA x HAY YPPERLIG Tray Table £35 |2.| IKEA x HAY YPPERLIG Candle Holders £4.95 |3.| IKEA x HAY YPPERLIG Wall Frame £12

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Design, Interiors, My Home

Flight Of Fancy.

 

I moved into this flat just shy of eighteen months ago now. The first place I was ever going to live on my own. Still a rental, but on my own for the first time none the less. I knew as soon as I walked into the empty living and saw the fireplace that I wanted it. I was prepared to look past the sea of vomit-inducing magnolia and picture what it could be.

 

 

There may be some people who love the colour magnolia and of course, you’re more than allowed to! We’re all very different and should be allowed to be so. It’s just that I am not that person. I am so far from that person that it makes me twitch slightly at the thought of it. There are varying shades of offence. Sorry, magnolia. This flat happened to be in the peachiest, yellowest, most awful tone imaginable. This could potentially be due to having been last painted in 1995, it was unclear. I begged my new landlord to let me paint it and to my delight, she said yes! Of course I now realise she was mostly just happy that I decided to redecorate the entire flat for her, costing her absolutely nothing. Even so, it felt like a win for me.

 

 

The living and bedroom were the first to get the white treatment, swiftly followed by the dining room and spare bedroom. The double height hallway however… well, that was a daunting prospect to say the least. If I’m perfectly honest with you, I mostly just tried to pretend it didn’t exist. It wasn’t a thing. You opened the front door and walked into the white living room, that was it. In reality, you opened the door, walked up a flight of dingy magnolia stairs with a drab brown carpet, saw a muddy lampshade hanging askew and a yellowing radiator. For too long I let that be the sight for visitors. It was an embarrassment. An eyesore so at odds with my own taste. I swiftly ushered any visitors into the living room and made them sit down on the much more Instagram appropriate sofa, hoping they hadn’t noticed the past minute had even occurred.

 

 

Well people, I am here to you tell it has all been changed. My staircase and hallway are no longer the source of extreme guilt and involuntary twitching. This isn’t a makeover post or a ‘how to’ on how to design a hallway, I’m going to make that quite clear. There’s been no great feat of interior design brilliance here. The greige carpet sadly remains and no insane transformations have been made.  What it is now, is lighter, brighter, fresher and ultimately much more me. It did however come with an awful lot of work. To paint a double height stair case and hallway on your own, with skirting boards, dado rails, door mouldings and four doors, was certainly no small undertaking. My arms ached, my back groaned and I used absolutely litres of paint. That horrid shade of magnolia I mentioned? Three coats it took to cover it. Three whole coats.

 

It turns out making a gallery wall go up a flight of stairs and onto a landing is in fact even more terrifying than making one on a simple rectangular wall. Perhaps it’s just me who’s incredibly daunted by the prospect of committing to so many nails in a freshly painted wall, or maybe there’s some logic in the terror I feel when faced with a blank wall and a filled frame. The exact level of my OCD has been questioned repeatedly I assure you, the cutting out of every single frame shape in brown paper to stick temporarily to the wall to decide on the positioning of corresponding frame, potentially took it up a notch in many people’s eyes. But it helped immensely and I recommend it if you too feel the fear. It is very much still a work in progress, however it is getting there. I haven’t yet resolved the far right hand side of the wall. Does it just stopped to abruptly after the eyes? I can’t decide. Many cut out frames have been taped here. Many cut out frames have been untaped from here.

 

There will also (in the very near future, when IKEA delivers it) be a large white peg rail, just inside the front door. I’ll be artfully hanging a Swedish raincoat and a dandy umbrella here at some point. No doubt you’ll see that exact image on Instagram in the coming months and roll your eyes. I give you full permission to do so.

 

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My Home

Green ambitions.

As a child I had a thing for gardening. I imagine it was spurned on by the arrival of Ground Force on our screens which in turn would lead to a rather strange summer where I took it upon myself to buy Gardener’s World magazine each month. I convinced my mum to let me dig up lawns to create flower beds, only to then not have any plants to fill them with and move on to creating a rockery from the only pebbles I had managed to claim from our drive way.

Only one of my houses after that has ever given me a garden. It was a ground floor flat in Ealing that I dubbed ‘The Cottage’. Seemingly ordinary from the outside, inside was original Victorian floorboards and drafty panelled doors. At the end of the truly tiny kitchen was a barn-like door onto a garden covered in roses. They trailed down the iron pillars that supported upstairs’ balcony and all along the fence. In the summer it was like a kind of heaven in that garden. I had pots of geraniums and herbs everywhere, a little table to sit out at with my breakfast and a rickety wooden bench that was positioned perfectly to sit in the evening sun. I miss that garden.

There are so many things to love about my current home and in some ways it’s absolutely perfect. In others, sadly it isn’t. There is no outdoor space here to spend the summer in, no beds to plant up and no lawn to lie in on a Sunday afternoon. The only bit of space I have is the tiny concrete path that leads from my front door to the gate. Presently that space is occupied by a series of terracotta pots filled with lavender and herbs. It really is a tiny space but it’s now a little greener at least.

Inside, things are getting just as green. My dream is to one day have a vegetable garden with a fully stock of herbs that will service my busy kitchen. It’s a dream that’s quite a way off at the moment, but for now my window sill is filled with basil, rosemary, thyme and bay. I’m almost loathe to snip anything from them to cook with, they’re so small and unestablished, rather defeating the object of having them. But they sit there, their soft scent filling the room when the sun hits the glass.

|1.| IKEA BITTERGURKA Watering Can |2| The White Company Chartwell Planter |3| Sophie Conran for Portmeirion Herb Pot

 



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Interiors, My Home, Shop

Putting Money In The Right Places.


In the process of addressing the financial elements of my life I’ve being using a rather simple system. It involves looking at a bank statement (yes, I know it sounds horrific from the off but bare with) and dividing my purchases into the following three different categories:

 

1. Unavoidable.
Council tax, TV licence, phone bills. All of those irritating things that mount up and up yet sadly, cannot be skipped.

 

2. Unnecessary.
Purchases that potentially now come with tinged with regret. Realistically, I didn’t need that £6 bottle of pomegranate molasses. Or face scrub that brought me out in an angry rash. That little vase that I now realise looks entirely like that other little base I own, that too.

 

3. Joyful.
This one is a little harder to define. If you wanted to, I imagine you could hide an awful lot of things within this category. But we’re being sensible, so I’m not going to. What purchase that month that wasn’t strictly a necessity, holds no regrets and brought me joy.

 

The aim is to eliminate the unnecessary, budget for the unavoidable and revel in the carefully selected joy. Essentially, sensible purchases that we all need to keep ourselves sane, but that truly bring you joy and enhance your our day-to-day experience of our lives. Through looking through two months bank statements I found that actually whilst there may well be a lot of purchases that could fall by the way side or be deemed ‘potentially unnecessary’, there wasn’t too many of those I could genuinely highlight as having delivered me joy. And that’s where this IKEA lightshade came in.

The absolute irony of having a eureka, light bulb moment beneath a light isn’t lost on me. Sitting beneath it, at my dining table I realised that shade brings me absolute joy. In the grand scheme of things it wasn’t expensive by any means – £40. To me, for what it is, that’s actually a kind of bargain. Most importantly however, I absolutely love it. I walked into my dining room each and every morning, look at it and smile to myself. I won’t ever regret it, I quite simply love it. And that’s it.

A purchase that brought me joy, a single purchase at only £40. Imagine if that was the only unnecessary thing I bought each month? All other regrettable decisions and purchases didn’t occur, I simply focused on one thing that brought me joy. A treat to myself for my month’s hard work and the money that would have gone on all those other purchases? Well that sits in my bank account, stacking up and getting me that one step closer to finally having a place to call my own.

Now, I am more than sure that financial advisors and perhaps less interior-minded folk will tell me this isn’t actually a sensible way to be saving for a deposit, but to me, it makes absolute sense. If I can limit myself to one ‘unnecessary’ purchase each month just because it brings me absolute joy, then I can absolute do this. It needn’t even be a large purchase: the £6 bunch of white peonies from Waitrose last weekend delivered a whole week of joy every time I brushed past and they released their sweet scent.

The realist in me knows that I’m going pass off flowers as ‘unavoidable’ so I’m not going to lie and tell you all a £6 bunch of flowers will be a month’s ‘joy’, but nor will it be a £250 pair of shoes. After all, those kind of purchases might well bring you a form of joy whilst you’re dancing around your living room trying them out… but if you’re anything like me, that joy is delivered with a huge dollop of foreboding guilt and an unhealthy serving of ‘I really should not have done that.’

It’s about adjusting my judgement in some ways. Don’t feel guilty for the purchase, just be absolutely sure it brings you joy. That Ilse Crawford lampshade, brings me joy. If that’s all I get for the month whilst I’m saving? I’m absolutely fine with that.

That, my friends, is how I look at the world of financial management. Through interior design.

 

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Interiors, My Home

May. The month it starts.

May is going to be a tough month.

The reason May is going to be a tough month is because it is the month selected at random in which I shall begin to address the reasons why I haven’t yet amassed any form of real savings to use towards purchasing a house of my very own. I say selected at random, what I mean is the month following a meeting with a financial guru at my bank where it was made really quite apparent I have some way to go in order to save for that elusive lump sum.

Financial Guru: ‘So this direct debit to Time Inc is..?’
Me: ‘That’s a magazine subscription.’
Financial Guru: ‘And the one to Conde Nast?’
Me: ‘That’s a magazine subscription.’
Financial Guru: ‘And this one to Hearst Media… also a magazine?’
Me: ‘I don’t like your tone.’

I would never say I am flippant or wasteful with money. I have my priorities for the money I work hard to earn; namely fresh flowers, copious amounts of tasty veg and a plethora of interior magazines. At the same time, I’m also quite frugal with my money in other aspects of my life. I’m not one to blow money on a night out or even on eating out all too often. In some senses, I’m positively cost conscious. Just not when it comes to magazines it would appear.

And so May is the month where things are to be addressed in full. Monitored and scrutinised. Plans shall be made and cut backs shall occur. All in the quest of a home to well and truly call my own. If I had really, really tried I could have amassed a larger proportion of a deposit by now, this is absolutely true. I’m aware. My financial procrastination teamed with the general feeling that it would quite simply just never actually occur led me to just let the ISA go cold.

And so, I write it here for all to see. May shall be the month I make things happen. May shall be the start of it. I’d like to set a goal for the end of the year or some kind of tangible marker to reach and have within my grasp but this may well require some work. What is feasible? How long will it take? So many questions need answering before I can set myself any goals.

Perhaps there’s a magazine available with handy advice on how to get on the property ladder? There is? With a free blanket when you subscribe? Interesting.

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Interiors, My Home

Sofa surfing.

My present sofa has served me faithfully for half a decade. A rather terrifying thought. It’s found itself in the living room of an oddly cottage-like two bed flat in West London and remains present in my white walled Victorian abode. However, lately I just can’t help but feel it’s time for the winds of change to coming a-blowing, bringing with them a new sofa.

To date, I have been a tenant in eleven flats. Until the two most recent of those eleven, they had come oh so delightfully furnished with brown faux-leather sofas. Here are two bits of information about me, yours for free. I despise the colour brown and faux-leather furniture makes me queasy. Don’t forget that, there’ll be a test when you least expect it.

I imagine landlords favour them because they’re –  a) cheap and b) wipe clean. Two things I distinctly never want furniture to be. After the 9th flat I vowed to never have to uncomfortably sit on a faux-leather again, never was I to wince in pain from the brown horror I was confronted with each time I unlocked the door. So it was that I took my first unfurnished flat. The task of furnishing it on my rather measly disposable income however proved somewhat trickier.

Buying a sofa is no easy job. When you actually take some time to think about it, aside from our bed and mattress, is there any other piece of furniture we have more constant interaction with? It should be warm and comforting, inviting and friendly. It is where we should come home and want to sink into, somewhere we feel absolutely content. All of this means there is a lot of pressure behind that decision. What if it’s not right?

I picked my current sofa – a DFS number selected on a boiling hot summer’s afternoon in a bustling showroom on Tottenham Court Road, with the ‘assistance’ of a woman who found my queries about the finance option rather irritating – because it was quite frankly, the only one I could afford. On finance and spread out over five years, the payments amounted to almost nothing every month. That seemed like a good deal to me.

I can’t pretend finding a sofa in DFS to my taste was easy, because it certainly wasn’t. The one I selected came with obnoxiously large throw cushions in a contrasting chenile. They were directly donated to a charity shop. I hope someone somewhere is enjoying those oddly huge cushions, I really do. I personally do not appreciate being told what ‘throw’ (seriously, if you’d thrown one of these, someone could have died) cushions I’ll be having on my own sofa thank you very much.

Anyway, I have digressed yet again. The short story is that sadly it just isn’t all that comfortable. An oddly sloped back and a rather deep bottom cushion makes the body contort oddly in it; perhaps the reason why the sofa is now actually discontinued from the DFS range… Who knows.

So the decision on what exactly shall replace the sofa begins… My mind is boggled. Sofa.com? Made.com? Swoon Editions? The market has opened up quite a lot since that sweaty purchase five years ago and my tastes have altered almost as much. I feel the time is now to opt for something a little more rigid in its shaping? Supportive and strong without being overpowering and uncomfortable. No mean feat.

 

The contenders.

 

Sofa.com’s beautiful imagery teamed with their ability to nail the exact shade of grey that entices me means I can barely narrow it down. I’m going to reserve falling for the Descartes grey wool sofa until I’ve perched myself on it in their Harrogate showroom very shortly. It certainly looks comfy… and the fact you can clearly take away the button-studded design makes me think it could sit quite nicely in the same.

In the past I have brilliant reviews on the quality of the sofas, so I’m certainly leaning Sofa’s way I have to say. Speak now or forever hold your peace.

 

 

Swoon Editions are the front runners when it comes to the shape. Naturally selected in grey wool, the Berlin sofa seems comfy but oddly… strict? The inability to actually perch my cheeks on anything Swoon Editions prior to buying however is making me rather nervous. That’s a lot of money for a potentially uncomfortable wool sofa.

 

 

And in the red corner, we have the Tivoli. Are those arms too stiff looking? Are the legs a bit too piddly? It’s a minefield of sofa queries I tell you.

 

 

Finally, there is made.com‘s Scott sofa in velvet. Yup. Velvet. ‘Curveball!’ I hear you cry! Well, it is still grey, but yes. Velvet. I’m tempted. Although I am oddly put off by the fact it’s called Scott. Scott the sofa. We’d be renaming that one I feel. Stefan? Sigourney? I’ll give it some thought.

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Interiors, My Home, Shop

Hello HAY.

My mantelpiece has been the same since I moved into the flat eighteen months ago – a collection of frames and objects that were regularly punctuated with a vase (or seven) of flowers. I liked the easily interchangeable nature of having nothing hung on the wall, allowing me to mix and match as I chose throughout the year. Sometimes there were books, candles, extra frames, birthday cards… whatever took my fancy really.

All of that changed however when my eyes fell upon the beauty that is HAY’s Strap Mirror. As I quietly perused the COS x HAY selection at the High Street Kensington store it is safe to say I fell in love. I fell in love with a mirror.

There it was, hanging proudly over a perfectly styled birchwood desk. Its incredibly satisfying round surface reflecting the array of concrete plant pots positioned to one side. At this moment I knew it. I knew it was meant to live atop my mantelpiece. In fact, I knew it was going to make everything better. The room needed something, some varying levels to make the most of the tall proportions it came blessed with. It was going to solve everything.

Okay, so it probably wasn’t going to solve everything exactly and I may be somewhat over egging the experience in to some kind of religious experience, but guys, it was love.

Despite the quizzical glances it quite often results in, each year for my birthday I tend to ask for things for my home. With this year being my thirtieth it seemed even more apt to pick something I will be sure to keep. And so it is here that the beautiful grey minimalist mirror of dreams became mine.

If you haven’t familiarised yourself with Utility Design then it’s about time you did. Stocking a great selection of HAY product, the site sells an incredible selection of brands that can sometimes be rather difficult to purchase in the UK.

It came. It is indeed as beautiful in my own home as it was in the busy basement of COS. So it might be a little heavier than anticipated and yes, I do live my life with the fear that my drilling might not quite have been good enough and it could fall down during the night and deliver me bad luck for the next seven years, but it has indeed changed everything I wanted it to change about the room. Adding a focal point to the large chimney breast wall, providing some height to the room’s proportions and reflecting the light from the window back into the room. It’s a masterpiece of minimal design, which when softened with a vase to one side, looks perfect in the room.

Shop the HAY Strap Mirror at Utility Design here

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