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

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

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

 

Christmas Wrapping With Origami

 

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

 

Monochrome Christmas Gift Wrapping

 

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

 

Contemporary Chiristmas Gift Wrap

Contemporary Christmas Wrapping Idea

Origami Paper Christmas Star

Gift Wrapping For Christmas

Contemporary Christmas Gift Wrapping

 

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

 

Contemporary Christmas Wrapping Idea

Handmade Stamped Gift Tag

 

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

 

Smythson Christmas Card

Smythson Christmas Card

Mark + Fold Christmas Card

Mark + Fold Christmas Card

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

     

    Handmade Paperchase Wrapping Paper

  • Four. Magic Tape is your friend.

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

 

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

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

 

  • Six. Use eBay.

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

     

    Origami Paper Christmas Star

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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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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, 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, 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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