We all know that kitchens are the area of the home that can suck away all our hard-earned cash. The units, worktops, fixtures and fittings - all these things often cost a lot of money. I know people who have been put off purchasing a home as the kitchen has not been to their taste or style, and they can't afford to also purchase a sleek, shiny new kitchen on top of the property price.
Unsurprisingly, I love trying out new crafts. Creating paper cut artwork was something that I had never done, so when G . F Smith invited me to a paper cutting workshop with Poppy Chancellor (paper cutting artist and illustrator du jour) to celebrate their quest to discover the world's favourite colour, I jumped at the opportunity.
The lovely ladies behind MiaFleur recently provided some gorgeous gold champagne flutes for an Instagram competition that I wanted to run in celebration of my blog turning a whole year old! I definitely owed them one, so when they challenged me to a guest post for them on a DIY feather wall hanging, how could I refuse?
I'm currently re-vamping our home office as it had turned into a complete disaster area. The home office had belonged to my husband until this blog came along, then unfortunately for him I intruded on this room as well. One of the problems that I caused was that I had paint charts and fabric samples strewn everywhere, and whenever I needed to find one of these quickly, it was in a pile somewhere either on the floor or on the desk.
My mother-in-law recently asked me to cover an old headboard in her guest bedroom and add in tufted buttons (that trick which create the plush diamond pattern effect). I'd never upholstered a headboard before, but spurned on by how well my pink velvet bedroom bench came out, I watched a few YouTube videos made by an American upholstery company, made notes, then went about sourcing the items required to do the job.
After painting my living room a lovely blue recently (full room reveal coming soon!) I wanted to add some geometric artwork that matched the modern pattern on my new cushions, as well as matching the walls and the blush pink tones I'd added into the overall scheme. I'd been inspired by some of the SS17 art prints for Marks & Spencer at their press show at the end of last year, but didn't really want to part with any extra cash (the room revamp having cost enough already.)
When I was younger I remember pressing flowers by sticking them inside a heavy book, then putting them in the airing cupboard for 3-4 weeks. I've only recently found out you can actually press flowers really quickly using an iron! I brought one of those cute brass and glass hanging frames in the January sales and I wanted to put pressed flowers inside. I decided to give the iron trick a go, and it totally worked!
How often do you redecorate a room, but it is let down by the same old boring light switch plate or plug socket? In my first house I redecorated all my rooms numerous times, but left the crap white plastic light switch plates the same! Looking back now, I could see they would stand out a mile and let down the effort I put in the rest of the room. I wouldn't tackle them for the same reason most people don't - spending extra/unnecessary money on a qualified electrician, plus not attempting to changing it myself due to being nervous of electricity.
It's dark at 5pm, it's suddenly really cold - yep - winter has arrived! Along with your winter gloves and scarf, the welly boots need to be on hand for those really bleak days. Although a necessity, I really do hate welly boots in the house. They are bulky, flop over on their side, leave dried up mud bits around and generally just get in the way when left by the back door or in the hallway. Earlier in the year I was watching a C4 Kirsty & Phil 'Love It or List It' property programme. Kirsty showed the participating couple a 'space saver' house with welly pegs on the wall by the back door to house filthy wellies, rather than store them inside. Inspired, the next morning I knocked out this simple welly boot holder to hang on an outside wall on our house.
If you have not used it before, then let me tell you that chalkboard paint is flippin' brilliant. You can buy it in tiny pots from the DIY store or places like Hobbycraft for about £3, and you can apply it to pretty much everything. I've used chalkboard paint a lot in my kitchen where I use it on cheap food storage pots to label what food is inside, and turn something plain into something a lot more interesting. I also painted a shopping list board on an unused, thin bit of wall next to our cooker. This has made it easy for everyone in the house to just list what is needed on the board (no random scraps of paper everywhere) for the next time someone pops down the shops. I didn't have to bother finding and buying a 'proper' chalk board to fit this area and hang up. It also gets used and wiped constantly, yet it remains completely durable.
I have to admit I spend a fair amount of my time online just saving images of pink and gold chairs and sofas. Seriously, if you follow me on Pinterest and look through my boards it's all full of pink and gold decor. Blush pink in interiors has been huge for 2016, and as the metallics trend continues to thrive blush pink and gold has been featured a lot in furniture and homeware by brands such as West Elm. The new Tom Dixon designed resturant Bronte in London is also awash with dusty pink chairs and a candy pink concrete bar. I LOVE pink and gold together, but seeing as I wasn't going to be able to convince my husband that we needed to replace our perfectly fine sofa with a pink number anytime soon, I decided to bring a bit of pink & gold in the bedroom by DIY-ing a pink & gold bedroom bench from scratch.
I made this chopping board for my husband at the end of last year. He's quite the foodie and cooks all his meals from scratch (unlike me, I love food but not cooking. When he isn't home I'm more of a G&T and a slice of cheese-on-toast girl).
I love kitchen equipment made from natural materials. I'll watch a Jamie Oliver programme to lust over his bread boards rather than his foccacia. Of course kitchen like this can be quite pricey, but seeing as I live right on the cusp on Epping Forest I thought why not give making our own tree trunk chopping board a go?
The back door to our house was needing a little bit of love. Its paint was peeling and it was just generally uninspiring. It also still had a bloody Christmas decoration on it which I had been meaning to take down in like forever. Instead of just giving it a new lick of paint, I decided to add a few more features to really jazz it up properly and give it a bit of 'wow-factor'.
Old homeware items can be given a totally new lease of life with a little bit of creativity. If you own an item that either you do not like anymore, or does not fit into your current decor scheme, look at it and think about how you could make it work with a little bit of DIY, rather than get rid of it or stick it in the loft.
I had a rather lovely chrome floor lamp that was in perfect working order; yet I am just so not into chrome these days, having fallen hard for gold and brass! Rather than replace it for something more my current style, I gave it an 'American Glamour' make over by spray painting the base and adding basic black ribbon to a plain white shade to give it a more sophisticated edge.
I can never seem to find place mats that I like. I'm not into the cork ones, or the weave ones, and I never like images or patterns on the plastic ones. I would rather have ones made from natural materials like marble or wood, but if you are looking for around 8-10 mats then it becomes pretty expensive for such a basic item.
I was recently reading a copy of Style At Home magazine, and they had an article on making your own planters from concrete. I didn't need any planters, but I thought why not try making place mats out of concrete? (I know, bit random, but that's just how my brain works). Concrete as a material is so cheap, so it was completely worth a try, but in all honestly it took me a lot of attempts to get this right. At first I attempted to make the mats out of your basic standard concrete, which failed as it took ages to set and constantly cracked once fully dry (it was hard not to add too much water to the mixture.) Next, I decided to use rapid setting concrete to speed up the process, but didn't really realise how fast rapid setting concrete set (clue: fast - especially in the heat we've been having). I destroyed a nice cake-mixing bowl trying to mix the concrete before I emptied it into the mould, which just set in the cake bowl instead. Eventually I worked out the best way to make the mats, and once I had that sussed it was pretty easy to make them all.
As August and September seem to be the full on wedding season, I thought I'd share a few wedding DIY's that I have done previously for my own wedding, and the wedding of my friends Jamie and Stacey last year. There is so much cost attached to a wedding, and it's easy to cut corners and make your wedding more personal by crafting certain elements. These decor ideas below can also be used at a party or any event you may be hosting.
Wedding favours and confetti are two things that people often don't bother with as it can be expensive for just a token part of the day. However, if you are anything like me, you'll think it's the little details like this that can take the style of a wedding to the next level. When I got married seven years ago I really wanted good favours on the day, but when I visited a wedding fair beforehand I was pretty aghast to see wedding favours selling for £2 - £3 per favour. My wedding theme was vintage and I made these vintage-style wedding favour boxes for around £20 in total for 75 people. If I'd have brought them at the wedding fair for 75 it would have set me back £150 - £200!
How much would you expect to pay for one garden bench made out of a beautiful thick piece of oak? £100? £200? We made four large garden benches that now seat 10 people in our garden for a minimal amount of money, although it was quite the effort. I have to say before I delve into this post that this piece of DIY was not easy! The wood is heavy and it was a joint effort of three people (me, my husband and my dad) to create them. However, if you have people to help and you are determined you can save yourself so much money creating bespoke beautiful outdoor benches yourself!
It all started when we moved into our new London 'burbs home with a gorgeous garden. Our previous Central London home only had a small piece of shaded garden, which you got to by going down some iron stairs, so we didn't use it much. On the list of things to get for the new house was 'garden furniture' as we did not have any. The previous owners of our current house had landscaped the front of the garden in their time living here, and had left four long pieces of left over sleeper wood in the back garden. This lovely wood was just sitting there untreated getting mouldy and eaten by woodworm, but it would be perfect to transform into garden seating.
As far as window treatments go, shutters are the clear winner for me. Curtains can look overly fussy and fade; blinds often look cheap and remind me of being in an office. Shutters can really block out the light, are easy to clean and should last you a lifetime. They also look GORGEOUS! If you have a period property or pretty sash windows, shutters will really compliment the windows detailing.
When we moved into our current home, I was hellbent on having shutters on the vast majority of the windows. We had solid, Victorian-style shutters fitted on a difficult hallway window in our old house, and they were literally one of my favourite things in that house. We got solid shutters installed again on the bedroom windows and the living room windows, but that really blew the budget. We left the bathroom window as it was, as it had a blind installed and that would do for the time-being.
A year and a half on, I was hating the bloody bathroom blind. It was this crummy brown blind that got so dusty, but was impossible to clean. It left awful watermarks, and I was petrified with the cord hangings around my toddler son as he loved to play with them. Our bathroom window is lovely in the afternoons as the sun streams in, so I would always pull it up out the way and out of sight. Trouble was it was too much hassle to keep putting down every time someone wanted the loo (and the bathroom faces the street!)
As daft as it sounds, I'd recently brought a new vase that would look perfect in one corner of my living room, but I needed to buy a table to stand the new vase on! I've got some gold and glass side tables in the room which I love, but they are all being used for other purposes (climbing frames and rubbish disposal points mainly, but lets leave that gripe there..) I needed a table that matched the existing side tables, but looking at brass side tables online I wasn't prepared to part with £60+ to display a £12.50 fake cactus vase.
Sometimes when you need an inexpensive bit of basic furniture there is only one thing for it - Ikea. I searched Ikea's website for a glass topped table and came across the VITTSJO laptop table. This table was perfect as aswell as having a glass top, it has a metal frame which is best for spray painting (and it was only 20 quid!)
I can't emphasise enough how paint and a little bit of DIY effort can go a long way in transforming your home. Even if you do not change anything else in the room, a coat of paint a different colour, or a 'freshen up' if the paint work is looking tired, can totally revolutionise a space.
I was recently hired by my first ever client (YAY! Go me!!) to re-vamp her front porch. Mrs A was sick of coming home to her porch the way it looked, and felt it gave a really bad impression to people visiting her home. What she wanted was a pretty (but not fussy), fresh, welcoming, cheery entrance. So - cue photo time - she was currently coming home to this....
Whenever I read an interview with a interior designer that I love, the thing that I pick up most from them is that texture and layering are key when it comes to styling a room. Texture comes from using different fabrics- wool, velvet, sheepskin; and laying means dressing the room to be visually stimulating. The easiest way to add texture and layer your room is with the home furnishings, so we are talking cushions, rugs, throws, curtains and so on....
Cushions are amazing as they can change the dynamics of an interior scheme, but are completely non-committal. You know how you can wear a different style outfit each day depending on how you feel? Well cushions act like your sofas clothes - you can add and remove them depending on how you want your room to look that day. Cushions also provide the ideal opportunity to add a fabric/print that you love, but can't afford to add much of in your home (like getting a sofa re-upholstered in a House of Hackney print, or curtains made in Sanderson fabric, which can cost from £50-£100 a metre!) You can buy cut offs, samples and fat quarters on Ebay and at fabric warehouses of expensive fabrics and make your own cushions, which is EASY! Trust me - you don't have to own a sewing machine, you don't even have to be an expert sewer, it's literally all about sewing a few straight lines together....
Do you browse Instagram, Pinterest or interior magazines and ogle peoples rooms that they have painted a dark or a really bright colour? Are you wanting to experiment with these colours in your home, but need to dip your toe in first before making a big commitment? I'm a really big fan of strong colours - bright fushia pinks, inky blues, period greens, dark greys and deep teal colours are a favourite. Yet when it comes to painting a whole room this colour, like you may be, I'm hesitant! I think if it was just me on my own I'd take the plunge, but as the rest of the family have to live with it day in, day out, I just can't bring myself to experiment painting our sunny living room dark (for now, anyway.)
I've recently started painting furniture that I already own in paint colours that I love and want to feature in the house, but haven't yet plucked up the courage to paint the walls with. This is a win-win situation as i'm introducing pops of the colour into my interior scheme, saving money by only requiring a small amount of paint and updating existing furniture rather than replacing it.
If you have moved house and your old furniture doesn't look right in your new place; perhaps you have brought a new dining table and need your old wood chairs to match; imagine what your existing furniture could look like with in a whole new colour? Or, if you love bright orange, imagine what an orange chair could do to transform your space and make it a focal point? It's easy and budget friendly to update what you already own with paint!
I'm really into the current geometric trend in interiors. I didn't think it would be my thing as it is so trendy and modern and my style is usually a bit more classic, but i've fully embraced it. I saw this cabinet on Instagram taken at the London Design Festival earlier this year and thought it worked so well, it totally inspired me to add together geometric brights and wood in furniture.....
When we moved into our current home last year, one of the great things about it was a balcony you accessed from the living room. As we live on a hill it has great views (especially on Fireworks night.) It is also a total suntrap, so I want to utilise it this summer.
Yet before it could become my evening wine drinking haven, this balcony needed some proper DIY love. Its decking was worn and faded, the paint on the balcony doors weathered, but the worst problem was something I couldn't do anything about - wood-rot and damage to the neighbours property that was clearly visible. The balcony needed a tart up, and I needed to cover the neighbours wall damage from view....
You can't move for brass drinks trolleys in interiors right now. They are all over interior magazines and the blogs. I decided that I would make like Zayn Malik (who apparently has his own pub in his garden) and have a drinks trolley as part of my balcony re-vamp (although, unlike Zayn, this was more to do with having a child and never getting out anymore, as opposed to being a millionaire popstar). I managed to win this gold number on Ebay (top tip: if you are also after a drinks cart, type in 'tea trolley' and you are more likely to get a bargain)...
I was window shopping in H&M Home recently when I saw the cute little hanging planter below. As I've previously mentioned, I'm currently doing up my balcony at home for the summer and initially thought this gold number would be a good addition. After contemplating it for a few minutes I decided this planter would not work for several reasons. Firstly it was made of glass, making it perfect for an inside terrarium, but a disaster waiting to happen as a hanging planter outside swinging against a brick wall. Secondly at £24.99 each they were far too expensive, especially as I wanted two of them..
A couple of weeks ago I popped by my friend Rob and his lovely girlfriend Olivia's new home in Leytonstone. They had moved there just over a year ago and had to refurbish the whole house. After spending a lot of money on builders to remove walls and replaster all of downstairs (and investing in a super nice marble bathroom upstairs) they didn't have much money left over to spend on furnishings.
Rob told me that he had always loved the 'library look' that often frequents an expensive home or a Soho members club, but employing a carpenter to create bespoke shelving was out of the question as new home owners. That's when he had the idea to create the look with an ingenious 'Ikea Hack' with Ikea's Billy Bookcase's, decorative mouldings and some lightweight duropolymer coving from the DIY store.
I'm currently re-vamping my tired looking balcony (full reveal coming in a few weeks!) Since the sun has been shining in the past week (even though it's now pouring as I write this) I decided to get out and get some Vitamin D and work on part of the project which was to build a tall planter trough ready for summer flowers. To build and paint the planter takes no longer than a day, so it is perfect for a sunny Sunday DIY project. First stop was to get some load-bearing wood. My top tip if you are going to build a planter like mine is first check if there is anyone in your area selling used scaffold boards. Building regulations state that builders scaffolding boards have to be changed regularly, so you often get scaffold and building companies selling off their old scaffold boards for cheap on Ebay and Gumtree.
When we moved into our house last year there was a problem with some damp on the lower floor. We called in the damp proofing people but we had real trouble with one interior wall in the hallway. The damp guys came back 3 times to try and fix the issue, with the final result being that the damp was eradicated but the hallway wall was left a total mess. Most of the wall had been drilled away numerous times to inject anti-damp treatment and even though I used a range of plaster repair tools and fillers, when the wall got a new coat of paint it still looked shoddy. What made it worse was that this wall was by the back door so the light shined on it all day highlighting all its imperfections..
A favourite interiors trend of mine in recent years has been display shelving - shelves that are erected in the home not for functional use for storage (such as a book shelf) but for display. Often hashtagging online as a 'shelfie', shelves are used to support art, photos, magazine covers, ornamental objects etc, in a casual display.
Display shelves for photos and art cannot be your bog standard basic flat shelves - the shelves will need to be raised at the front to stop the propped-up artwork sliding down and falling off. You also do not want the shelves to protrude out too much, which would look peculiar when you are displaying thin items.