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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

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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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Fashion & Style, Interiors, Shop

How to survive the autumn in style.

There is a lot to be said for the lazy days of summer. Long days spent lounging in the grass, all blazing heat and melting ice creams. It is however really the autumn and the winter that capture me. There’s something about the turn of the year and the pivot of the season that feels exciting.

In an ideal world we would have all spent our summers outdoors, living the al fresco dream in our gardens. In reality however, we probably didn’t. We spent it inside, dodging rain clouds and debating exactly how much of a waste of money the new patio set actually was. Let’s pretend we are however in that ideal world and the time has now come for the mass exodus from the outside world. We drift inside, we hanker down and we revel in the glory of comfort. I think that’s what autumn and winter are truly about when it comes down to it. Comfort.

|1.| Derek Rose Houndstooth Pyjamas |2.| Derek Rose Satin Stripe Pyjamas |3.| Bronte Wool Blanket |4.| Jo Malone Incense & Embers Candle |5.| Emma Lacey Mug |6.| Stelton Coffee Press |7.| H&M Cashmere Blend Knit |8.| Lucienne Day for John Lewis Cushion |9.| H&M Quilted Velvet Cushion |10.| Serax Candle Holder |11.| Cereal Magazine

 

From the warm things we choose to eat and the soft knits we wrap ourselves up in, the daily quest is for a luxurious sense of comfort. With that in mind I started to think about what the essential things I require on a rainy Sunday afternoon in October; the things I need to bring me comfort amidst the chilly rain.

Firstly, there are pyjamas. I’m often berated for my rather elderly habit of wanting pyjamas. Quite frankly, I don’t care. I like them, they make me feel warm, comfortable and just a little bit dapper. No matter how delightful my pyjamas may be, I’ve never been able to commit to spending a day in them. It feels a little too… slobbish. So instead I shrug the pyjamas and take to an excessively deep bath before digging out a soft jumper. Preferably something oversized and made from cashmere so soft you think you might never actually wear anything else ever again.

Blankets are key to the season. I think if I advocate one purchase this autumn, is a woollen blanket. Not only does it bring you a sense of comfort akin to being a child again, it also helps save on the gas bills. If you’re anything like me you have the heating on too much as it is. Every blanket helps.

My flat – as lovely as it is – sadly no longer accommodates a roaring fire in its hearth. It’s all rather empty and dark, which is why instead I turn to a series of candles that are designed to trick you into think you’ve walked into the snuggest of country pubs. They may not emit the crackling flames or require you to satisfyingly stoke them every now and then, but if you close your eyes and wrap yourself up warm I have the faith you can trick yourself into thinking it’s all real.

Team all of the above with a steaming pot of coffee and a good magazine, truly dreamy autumn days are made.

 

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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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Found, Shop

There’s always time for tea.

 

Tea was always my thing. In the hedonistic tea days of my youth I may well get through ten or more cups a day, fuelled by life perched behind an desk and a team that enjoyed it just as much as I did. But even before that it played a part in my life. I would take excessively milky tea in my Beatrix Potter mug, sitting beside the fire with a colouring in book.

There are many ancient customs and rituals around the world that involve tea; but for me the English ritual is all about the simple act of comfort? We drink tea to make things better, to soothe or to calm us, we look for solutions in the bottom of a mug. We also drink as a social past time and as a bonding activity. We walk into our office kitchens in small packs at preordained times to all stand around a kettle as it boils, discussing the most pressing gossip of the day. We may not have invented, discovered it or even perfected it, but tea will always be a very British past time.

For me the ritual has changed now. I removed diary from my diet a few years back to help with my highly sensitive skin, successfully I might add. There are milk alternatives out there that would certainly mean I could go back to the tea as we all know it but if truth be told, I’ve moved on. Peppermint, hibiscus, green. The options are far and wide. It is most definitely still a ritual however, demanding time and care. Patience and peace.

 

 

About a year or so ago I stumbled across JING Tea whilst on a mission for a peppermint tea that wasn’t the expected supermarket issue. To say tea is an art form in the world of JING is quite the understatement. They believe your brew requires care and attention, directions are provided on the best temperature at which to infuse the leaves and precise timings are assisted by the most beautiful little sand timers. It’s the modern day issue of the ancient ritual.

This weekend’s discovery is Silver Needle. A white tea, delicate and fresh in its flavour, it quietly infuses for three minutes. That’s precisely the amount of time required to thumb through to where I last slotted the slightly odd brandy label bookmark I use in my well-worn copy of The Shipping News, tuck my feet under the blanket and prepare for a perfectly quite afternoon.

 

 

If you find yourself a believer in the art of tea then I feel it’s only necessary you indulge yourself in the world of JING Tea. I highly recommend the Lemon Verbena for a balmy summer’s evening in the garden, soaking up the final rays of the day. I don’t have that garden as you may have already read, so I pull a chair to a window and play a game of make believe. Because sometimes, life is just like that.

 

|1.| Glass Tea-iere |2.| Silver Needle White Tea |3.| Glass Tea Cup & Saucer |4.| Tea Timer

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Interiors, Shop

IKEA x HAY. YPPERLIG is coming.

IKEA x HAY YPPERLIG Day Bed

 

The 72-piece YPPERLIG (which coincidentally translates rather roughly to ‘excellent’) collection has been created in conjunction with Danish design house HAY. Silhouette and form are paramount to each piece, with HAY’s distinctive items given a new update for the colossal IKEA market. If you’re familiar with HAY then you won’t have to look far to find their handwriting on the pieces – the brand’s staple candle holders, practical storage boxes and elegant materials are all present, only with an IKEA twist.

For me, there’s just too much to choose from. The grey day bed is exactly what I have been hunting for. It will sit perfectly in the window of my living room, offering up a second seating area to the sofa. The wall storage system however is something I didn’t even know I needed in my life until I saw the photo and now I just don’t even know how I managed to live my life without it to be honest.

 

IKEA x HAY YPPERLIG Wall Shelf Unit

IKEA x HAY YPPERLIG Candle Holders Votive

 

The candle holders – in varying shades of grey that could not be more perfectly apt for my abode if they tried – are destined to come in at under £10. Which naturally means I’ll need all three, I’m sure you agree.

 

IKEA x HAY YPPERLIG Tray Table & Sofa

 

Tray tables regularly feature in the HAY offering, a perfect representation of the brand’s clean and practical design. Whilst in the main collection they appear in a more angular guise, for IKEA they soften the style with the natural tones of wood to the legs and a curved silhouette. If this piece were to also be stocked with a white or perhaps pale grey tray, it shall also be coming home with me. Like I said, too much to choose from.

 

IKEA x HAY YPPERLIG Storage Box

IKEA x HAY YPPERLIG Bench

 

IKEA x HAY’s YPPERLIG collection will be launching into all IKEA stores in October, so there’s plenty of time to decide what it is you simply can’t be without. Me? Well I’ve already done that and included it very helpfully below.

 

IKEA x HAY YPPERLIG Must Have Products

All images courtesy of IKEA.

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Interiors, Shop

Heaven scent.

I don’t know when it began as such, or perhaps rather when it truly took off, but for as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by scent. So much of my memory is wrapped around the smells. Years ago I bought my mum a bottle of Stella McCartney’s first perfume for her birthday, in truth I think I bought it mostly because I found the scent to absolutely be her rather than her actively wanting it. But now, whenever I catch the faintest hint of that fragrance, it reminds me of her. She’s long since moved on to an entirely different scent, but in my mind that scent will always remind me of her. In my mind, it defines her. Even though she probably wouldn’t agree herself.

As a child each day I would go to my grandma’s after nursery. I spent so much of my childhood there, lying beside the heating vent, between an armchair and a wall, eating cheese on toast whilst watching Neighbours. I’m thirty now and still whenever I smell toast, I’m back at my grandma’s house waiting for a bag of Jelly Tots and a cup of tea so diluted with milk I’m not sure it would even be considered tea.

Each day when I’m getting ready I look at the selection of scents I have and make a decision for the day, based on a pretty quick analysis of my mood. I have a roster of about four that I rotate; darker woody notes for a mellow feeling, sharp punchy citrus scents for a bright summer day. My go-to fragrance for the past few years has been is Jo Malone’s Blackberry & Bay. It’s fresh and sweet without being over powering and heavy. I know as soon as I tried it for the first time that if someone was to associate that particular smell with me, I’d be more than happy with that. I love when someone in the room comments ‘Can you smell fruit?’ Yes, that’s me. I am that fruit.

Home wise, my preferences are even more changeable. Almost every surface in my flat features a scented candle of some variety. In the summer I lean towards to cleaner fruity scents that help to transport me to the Amalfi coast on a warm evening. (‘That’s a bloody powerful candle’ I hear you cry. Yes, yes it is.) Diptyque’s Baies is the kind of scent dreams are made of. Tart and sharp, but blissfully mellow at the same time. In the winter I like to try and tell myself I’m sat in front of an open fire in a ridiculously beautiful log cabin a la My Residence. Jo Malone’s Incense & Embers being potentially my favourite candle out there.

So, onto the reason I got to actually thinking about scent – Lavender & Lovage. I love the smell of lavender. If I pass a lavender bush while I’m out I always, without fail, brush my hands through it and smell it. I would however never have even considered it as a scent I would want to fill my house. I suppose if I’m honest I thought it had a smell that was rather old? I don’t know, but either way it wouldn’t have even been a candle I sniffed. On the advice of a friend with a sharp set of nostrils I ventured into the uncharted waters of Jo Malone’s Lavender & Lovage and I can confirm it is a keeper. Think summer evenings spent in the garden as the final dregs of sunlight leave the sky. It’s like being on a patio, surrounded by pots of herbs and slightly damp soil. As I don’t have a garden to spend my summer evenings in, the candle is as close as I’m going to get.

It’s funny how a scent can transport you to somewhere else. I am a huge believer in the value of investing in a good quality candle. I guarantee the difference is noticeable. There’s something technical about the level of oil to wax that makes the pricier options more potent. I’m no expert, so I won’t tread into the unknown waters of candle making any further however. What I do know is that a Diptyque candle has the capabilities of scenting a room without it even being lit. A worthy investment if you ask me. The scent of the space we spend our most personal time in should be perfect after all.

|1| Jo Malone Incense & Embers Home Candle |2| Diptyque 34 Boulevard Saint Germain Candle |3| Byredo Tree House Candle

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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, 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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