Sourcing: ready made curtains

With the longer summer days when the sun is coming up super early, we've been struggling to stay asleep much after 5am. This is mainly due to the fact we currently have no blinds or curtains on our bedroom window. At first I thought it would be nice - naturally waking up with sunrise - ha! no, turns out I'd much rather fit in as many zzz's as possible, before our early rising toddler is shouting 'MUMMY, DADDY! IT'S THE MORNING!' from her bed.

So, off on an internet hunt I went, looking for affordable ready-made curtains to pop up on the window. Mmm, not quite as easy as I thought! It's been hard to find curtains that a) will fit the window or will need minimal alteration and b) that I actually like the design of! I've managed to locate 10 options, which I would say have varying levels of light-blocking, but perhaps sometimes there has to be a compromise between style and function!? I have actually ordered one of these sets, so fingers crossed they will do the job! I will share with you soon which ones I've chosen, but for now here is my round up... 

Scandi Geo Single panel in pink - Wayfair - £45.99 

Scandi Geo Single panel in pink - Wayfair - £45.99 

Parker Curtain - Anthropologie - £88 each 

Parker Curtain - Anthropologie - £88 each 

Tribal print curtain - Marks and Spencer - varying sizes and prices

Tribal print curtain - Marks and Spencer - varying sizes and prices

Beige & Gold eyelet curtain- Maison du Monde - £71.99 each

Beige & Gold eyelet curtain- Maison du Monde - £71.99 each

Baltic eyelet single panel - Wayfair - £37.99

Baltic eyelet single panel - Wayfair - £37.99

Lina biscuit curtain - La Cerise sur la Gateau - €89

Lina biscuit curtain - La Cerise sur la Gateau - €89

Palma fringed curtain panel - Urban Outfitters - £65

Palma fringed curtain panel - Urban Outfitters - £65

Bluebellgray Palette Lined Pencil Pleat Curtains - John Lewis - varying sizes and prices

Bluebellgray Palette Lined Pencil Pleat Curtains - John Lewis - varying sizes and prices

it's definitely a varied bunch of styles here! But I do like all of these for different reasons. Which are you drawn to?! (boom boom!) Next thing will be - finding just the right curtain pole! ;) 

June: A Month of Lovely

How's your month been folks? I feel like these monthly posts are really highlighting to me how quickly time whizzes past! I'm getting later and later with them each month! I hope you've had a good few weeks - I've been so enjoying seeing your pics on the gallery on Instagram - there is currently over 5.5K images under #amonthoflovely! Thank you for sharing and tagging your lovely moments. So, here are mine from the month of June....

New camera love - I recently decided that it was time to invest in a new camera. I've been using a Nikon DSLR for years and I had started to feel it just wasn't giving me the kinds of images I wanted to create, plus the technology was pretty old compared to what is on the market now. So I've taken the plunge and bought the Olympus Pen ELP-8. I also got the 17mm lens from eBay which is definitely a game changer. I will write a post about why I'm loving this camera so much soon, but for now, you can see some of the images I've taken on it on my Instagram feed

Handwritten cards - I LOVE a handwritten card. As much as you can say the same thing in an email, it is so much nicer when it comes inside a pretty card. It was our 4th wedding anniversary in June, so hubby gave me the 'you shine like a star' card, and I received the other floral card from Libby at &Hobbs. You may have seen we featured &Hobbs in our Talking Shop feature in the current issue of 91 Magazine? I've met Libby a few times now when I've visited the shop in Shere, and she is SO lovely - and on my last visit she gave me this lovely card to say thanks for the feature. Such a lovely gesture. 

New writing work - I'm so excited to share the news that I am now a magazine columnist! A while back I was asked by the editor of a soon-to-launch magazine if I would like to write their 'Living' column, and I of course was totally honoured to take up the position! The first issue launched a few weeks back, so you can now pick up In The Moment magazine in the shops. The focus is mindfulness and well being in all areas of your life - health, creativity, living and travel. It feels like a very down-to-earth, relatable magazine, so do check it out - I'd love to hear what you think! 

Spaces by Frankie Magazine - I was in London last month celebrating our anniversary with the other half, and picked up this gorgeous volume of Spaces while I was there. It is packed full of gorgeous homes to pore over, I'm just waiting for the right time to really get stuck into it! I would SO love to do something similar to this with 91 Magazine - what do you think?! 

Come on over to Instagram and say hi - I'm @patchworkhrmy and share your lovely moments with #amonthoflovely. x

#mynestandburrow - get involved!

I don't know about you, but I'm always on the look out for new hashtags to use on my Instagram feed. It's a great way for your images to get seen by new people and also a fun way to interact with the creative community on there. I recently came across the #mynestandburrow tag, run by Suzanne of Nest and Burrow. Suzanne creates some amazing woven wall hangings to decorate your home with, and she started this hashtag recently to get folk sharing images of their homes (or nest!) with the incentive of winning a lovely prize.

Photos by @nestandburrowuk

Suzanne explains: '#mynestandburrow is about the way you lovingly create spaces in your home {nesting} and the resulting magic that provides a nourishing environment for you and your family’s wellbeing. It’s about being inspired by nature, bringing the outdoors in, light, natural materials, as well as a strong interior design ethic that says You!

Use the tag to share your favourite spaces and pockets of your home. The cherished places where you entertain, spend time with family and friends, meditate, create, cook, sleep....or simply just be.'

photo via Ruby Cubes

photo via Ruby Cubes

I really enjoyed getting involved in the last challenge, and was so thrilled that Suzanne contacted me to ask if I'd like to be a guest judge on the next one! absolutely I said! For this challenge you can win a lovely hanging planter by Ruby Cubes, simply by sharing your pics. Well, there's a few little rules for entering which are below! So read on....

The theme for this next challenge is 'Summer'. Share pics of how you've been bringing elements of summer into your interiors, that enable you to enjoy your home to the full in this special season. Plus, don't forget your gardens and their connection to your home. It could even be somewhere you're staying for a summer holiday and that you just love!

To enter simply follow the three of us:  @nestandburrowuk @patchworkhrmy and @ruby_cubes_exeter and tag your pictures of your summer. You have two weeks to enter! 

Something as simple as bringing in a few summer blooms from the garden to display or the early evening light streaming through your window, or simply a spot that you love to sit during the summer months, soaking up the warmth and the longer, lighter days. So get involved folks, I can't wait to see your images and pick a winner! Good Luck! x

An en-suite bathroom in the loft conversion

We are really lucky that our new house came with a ready made loft conversion - although I must admit, it may not be how I would have configured it if we had have been doing it ourselves, but hey, beggars can't be choosers. We've got a decent sized master bedroom which you can get a peek of here, and then there was another small room off the landing which was kind of an office space when we moved in. We knew straight away that it would be the perfect space for an en-suite, and having a bathroom on the same level as our bedroom felt like a bit of a necessity for those middle of the night, half asleep, toilet trips! 

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As always, with any renovation project, things aren't as straightforward as they seem, and when we started talking to our builder about it, we discovered that because of the positioning of the room it would be a bit more complicated. Basically the room is at the front of the house while the soil stack is at the back. This meant that we would need a macerator. I'd never heard of this before - it's a system that compresses all the waste, sends it through a much narrower pipe than usual, and then directs it to the soil stack - delightful! It wasn't ideal, as I'd read a little about the potential for things going wrong with them, but we decided it wasn't a reason to not do the en suite, so went ahead with it. (and so far so good!)

It then transpired that if we wanted the sink to supply hot water, we'd also need a kind of mini hot water heater fitted under the sink. I had originally planned to have a wall mounted basin, but we were advised to have a cupboard under the sink to house the heater. This, of course, sent me on a sourcing mission to find a beautiful cupboard that we could adapt to fit the sink, rather than those horrible, under sink cupboards you get in the bathroom shops! After a bit of a search, I discovered this one on fab vintage website Goose Home and Garden. We travelled down to the south coast to pick it up, just about fitting it in the car! When we got it home & put the sink on top, it was a tiny bit too high for me, so my builder had to cut the feet off it to make it the perfect height! 

When it comes to tiles, I always like to try and find something a little bit different - and I totally fell in love with these floor tiles from Baked Tile Co. It is from their 'Urban' collection and has a chipboard effect. They have lots of designs available and there are various ways you can configure them to create different looks. I actually had planned to tile the walls in these also (in the plain version) but sadly it was working out a bit out of our budget, so we opted for the white metro tiles from Wickes, which you can never really go wrong with. 

I ordered all the bathroom fittings online - the shower came from soak.com and the toilet and sink from Taps UK. Once the bathroom was installed, I set to work putting the finishing touches to the room. I wanted to keep it pretty simple as it's a small area, but wanted it to feel inviting and a little bit tropical! We have a boxed in section behind the toilet (where the macerator is housed) so to detract from the big space behind the loo, I added a selection of plants. I picked up all of these plants at Homebase (bar the string of hearts) and added a little peperomia on the sink and a calathea on the floor. 

I quite recently discovered a gorgeous online shop called Lilac Coast, who stock lots of lovely homeware, and in particular some gorgeous plant pots. Both of these are from their range. Their earthy tones tie in nicely with the floor tiles.

I've had my eye on this whale print for ages, but until now hadn't had a place for it. It came from another lovely online shop - Grey September - and the laundry basket I picked up from Deco Baby

I'd love to hear what you think of it! I'm really happy with it, and so chuffed to finally have an en suite! Oh, and I couldn't leave without giving you a peek at how the room looked pre-renovation! See below. ;) 

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Sourcing... children's beds

The next project on my radar in our renovation is Ruby's bedroom. It's quite a small room, hence my reason for creating a play space for her downstairs, so I want to keep it relatively simple and uncluttered. (Is that possible in a child's room?! hopefully!) 

She is going to be 3 years old in a few weeks (!), and she is actually still in her cot. Mainly because I've been holding off on getting her a bed until we were ready to transform the whole room, so there is minimal disruption. The need for a bed is now kind of spurring me on, as she is nearly too heavy for me to lift her up and into the cot! 

So my first task in planning the design of the room is to source a bed for her. I'd actually assumed this might be a bit of a boring search, but in fact there are some really gorgeous kid's beds on the market. Some are pricier than others, but my ethos with things like beds and sofas is that you spend a lot of time using them, so cost per use is pretty low! :) 

Anyway, here are some of the options I'm looking at - I'd love to hear which you are liking to help us decide! I've included dimensions, mainly for my own reference on making a choice as the room isn't that big, so size will be a factor. Although, I do wonder if it's best to opt for a single bed rather than a toddler bed at this stage.... does anyone have any advice on this? Is a toddler bed a bit of a waste when she is already nearly 3?

House bed frame - from £249 - Bobby Rabbit (Junior:169cm x 79cm / Single:199cm x 99cm)

House bed frame - from £249 - Bobby Rabbit (Junior:169cm x 79cm / Single:199cm x 99cm)

White steel bed frame, £85, IKEA (135 cm x 85cm - extends to 206cm long)

White steel bed frame, £85, IKEA (135 cm x 85cm - extends to 206cm long)

Flexa Play single bed, £171.14, Smallable (204 cm x 96 cm)

Flexa Play single bed, £171.14, Smallable (204 cm x 96 cm)

Tipi bed, from £89.95, available from Cuckooland.com from 1st July (cot size: 148cm x 79cm / single size; 208cm x 98cm)

Tipi bed, from £89.95, available from Cuckooland.com from 1st July (cot size: 148cm x 79cm / single size; 208cm x 98cm)

Perch toddler bed, £376, Bobby Rabbit (143.6cm x 73.6cm)

Perch toddler bed, £376, Bobby Rabbit (143.6cm x 73.6cm)

Tipi bed by Deeekhoorn, £399, Nubie (215cmx106cm)

Tipi bed by Deeekhoorn, £399, Nubie (215cmx106cm)

Rafa Kids toddler bed, £625, Molly Meg (155cm x 75cm)

Rafa Kids toddler bed, £625, Molly Meg (155cm x 75cm)

NOBODINOZ Cabin bed, £425.70, Smallable (146cm x 96cm)

NOBODINOZ Cabin bed, £425.70, Smallable (146cm x 96cm)

Linus single bed, £219, made.com (198.6cm x 99cm)

Linus single bed, £219, made.com (198.6cm x 99cm)

Alpha bed frame in Grey, £60, John Lewis (196.5cm x 96.5cm)

Alpha bed frame in Grey, £60, John Lewis (196.5cm x 96.5cm)

Wooden bed (various colours), £223, Maison du Monde (196cm x 104cm)

Wooden bed (various colours), £223, Maison du Monde (196cm x 104cm)

Horizon toddler bed, €510 (approx £450), Nobodinoz (152.5 cm x 75.3 cm)

Horizon toddler bed, €510 (approx £450), Nobodinoz (152.5 cm x 75.3 cm)

Living room play space - reveal

A while ago I wrote a post about creating a play space in your living room that is not only fun for your child but also blends with your decor and doesn't just look like you have a creche in the corner of the room. I recently put the finishing touches to the space I created for Ruby, and this is the last area of the living room to show you - you can see the rest of the room here and here.

I went with mainly neutral colours - black, white and beige with a few pastel colours thrown in. It's often tricky with kids as they are naturally drawn to bold, garish colours, and of course Ruby does have lots of these toys, but I've added baskets and the Ikea PS cabinet so that these can be tidied away after play time. 

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She got the John Lewis play kitchen for Christmas last year - again I opted for the neutral design - although I'm sure she may have preferred a hot pink one, but hey, parents rights! There are so many gorgeous products for kids these days that there is no need to end up filling your home with plastic tat, particularly when it will be in your living room! Ruby loves this little table and stool from Nubie (I think I may love it even more!) Yes, it is a bit more pricey than others I looked at, but it is really sturdy and will grow with her. The rug is by Ferm Living (I bought via Trouva) and just breaks up the floor space a little. 

In the little alcove next to the fireplace I created a reading nook for her. This gorgeous bean bag from This Modern Life, fits seamlessly into the space and is super comfy - she often drags it over to watch telly on too. I've just used a wooden crate on its side for storing some books and the owl planter I picked up in Homebase

This Modern Life is one of my fave online stores for kids decor, toys and gifts. The little fox container is perfect for colouring pencils or crayons, or perhaps for a plant. And how beautiful is this memory game by Ferm Living?! Really lovely gifts too, don't you think?

We added this large mirror from One World to try and help reflect a bit of light into this corner as it can sometimes be a little dark. The dolls house is actually Ruby's 3rd birthday gift which is in a few weeks, so I need to hide it again! I found it on eBay for £40. I love it's simplicity and the pink details should keep Ruby happy! The little pink picnic basket came from Deco Baby (we went to their pop up shop at &Hobbs in Shere recently - it's on until 2nd July, and is well worth a visit if you can!) The sleepy bear storage bag is great for those tiny toys kids seem to accumulate & is super cute. (I think I got that from Tea and Kate ages ago) 

As I've mentioned storage baskets are essential. They are easy to move around and you can chuck everything in at the end of the day. These ones are from Oliver Bonas and are perfect for things like Lego, and fit right under the Ikea cabinet. The tall bag in the corner is from Hema, and again so handy for throwing everything in to. 

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So there you have it! I'd love to hear what you think.... here are a few more images and sources of anything I didn't mention above. 

Acrylic play sign - LaLa Loves Decor / Cat fabric banner - Olive Loves Alfie / Bear Alphabet print - Corby Tindersticks / Welcome to the Circus print by Seventy Tree - Deco Baby / Cast iron radiator - Castrads

Acrylic play sign - LaLa Loves Decor / Cat fabric banner - Olive Loves Alfie / Bear Alphabet print - Corby Tindersticks / Welcome to the Circus print by Seventy Tree - Deco Baby / Cast iron radiator - Castrads

Editor's Life: Behind the Scenes on photoshoot day

Through the series of Editor's Life posts, I want to give a little insight into my life as editor of 91 Magazine. You can catch up on the full story of how the magazine started and evolved here, but today I thought I'd give you a little look behind the scenes on one of our home tour photo shoots. 

Generally, I don't get to go on many of the shoots due to juggling childcare and my other work, but when I can, I do try to get to some. For our current issue we shot the home of Colleen Larmour, owner of Little Carousel, a children's toy and decor brand. I actually went to art college with Colleen many years ago, and she lives very close to where I grew up in Northern Ireland. 

I commissioned photographer Jemma Watts for the shoot, and we travelled over to Belfast back in March (nearly missing our flight as we nattered away in departures!) 

Jemma had viewed some snaps of Colleen's home before the shoot, but otherwise she had not seen the space before. So the first thing we did when we arrived early that morning was to have a walk around the house and work out what order to shoot the rooms in, dictated by where the light is throughout the day.

With the light at the front of the house, we started off in the bedroom. Generally, I prefer not to change too much about how the homeowner has styled the space, but because we have to consider when the issue will publish we have to think about the seasonality of the images. So for example, here Colleen had a fur coat hanging on the wall, which looked great - but we decided to swap it for this bright yellow vintage dress, which looked beautiful next to the daffodils and tulips - and much more suited for our S/S publication date. 

There's a lot of standing on chairs (sorry Colleen!) and squeezing into corners to get the angle of the shot just right, so there's often a lot of furniture moving involved. When it comes to styling, as I say, I like to keep this to a minimum, but it's sometimes just a case of a tiny tweak, like removing a cushion, or rotating a plant that makes all the difference to the shot. Before moving on to the next room, we'll have a check through the images that have been taken so far, to make sure we're happy we've got everything to represent that room. 

Occasionally problems arise which you need to solve quickly otherwise it will hold the whole shoot up. For example, in the snug area we had to adjust the height of this (amazing!) light fitting to get the composition just right for the shot. While something like this can look totally fine in 'real life', when you line up an image in the viewfinder on the camera it sometimes just doesn't work, so little tweaks like this make all the difference. 

Here's an example of the awkward positions photographers have to get into to get the shot... While in the background Colleen prepares the kitchen for it's close up!

After a quick refuel, we crack on shooting Colleen's studio and her portraits. Jemma positioned Colleen at her sewing desk next to the window so she could get some soft natural light on her face. There is often much hilarity while shooting portraits, as we try to make the subject laugh to get some natural smiling shots! I think Colleen and I were ribbing each other about old college day crushes!

I think sometimes the perception of a magazine photoshoot is that it's kind of glamourous and cool, but I'm sure even some of the top fashion models will agree, it is seriously hard work both physically and mentally. It is a long day and there is often a lot of pressure to make sure you get all the shots you need before the light fades. For me though, there is nothing that feeds my creative soul more than working alongside a great photographer, bringing together the images for a feature like this. It's so exciting to see the story take shape.

Photo by Colleen Larmour

Photo by Colleen Larmour

If you haven't seen the mag with this lovely home tour in it yet, then make sure to order yours before they sell out. Do pop over and check out Colleen's colourful Instagram feed and shop too!

If there is anything else about the magazine you'd like to hear about in these posts then do leave me a comment, I'd love to know what might be of interest! x

All photos: Caroline Rowland

May: A Month of Lovely

We are half way through the year already, and I am really trying to savour these months as much as possible. While we might not be getting the wall to wall sunshine that we hope for every summer, we've had some great days of weather here and there, and even when it's not that sunny, I still enjoy the longer days of light, so much better for taking photos! We had a week away in France, where the weather was also mixed, but even when it poured for a whole day, I spent the time relaxing indoors, watching films and napping - which I literally NEVER do! So here's the things that have made my month lovely.... don't forget to share yours too online with #amonthoflovely

Reading actual books - I've had a Kindle for a few years now, and I do love the handiness of it, but when it comes to beautiful lifestyle books nothing compares to the real thing. I recently received a selection of books to review on the blog and I've so enjoyed sitting down with a cuppa and flicking through the pages. I'm particularly enjoying this one A Year Between Friends, isn't the cover just gorgeous?! If you are looking for some great books to add to your reading list, do check out the summer books post.

Printing actual photos - There's a theme developing here ('scuse the pun!) of enjoying things in analogue rather than digitally! I definitely don't do enough of this. I take pictures on my phone nearly every single day, and while many make it onto Instagram or Facebook, many just languish on my phone never seeing the light of day. It's fair to say it is the best shots that make it on to social media, and as I do look at my Instagram feed numerous times a day, I guess I do 'look' at the pictures regularly, but I think it is nice to actually print your favourites and dot them around your home. You don't even need to frame them, simply tacking them up with washi tape is a relaxed, fun way to display your faves, and you can change them as and when you feel like it. It's SO easy to print these days too, I generally use an app like Printic, where you can order directly from your phone.

Shopping indie - The power of social media really is tremendous when it comes to discovering new things, whether that's creative people, small businesses, restaurants or travel destinations. Everyone has there own reasons and ways of using the likes of Instagram, but one of my favourite things is finding new independent shops and designers to shop with. One such store I recently started following is Lilac Coast. It's a gorgeous online shop based in Dorset and Alice not only has a beautiful IG feed, she stocks some really lovely things for the home. She recently posted a pic of this little ceramic planter and I HAD to have it! I knew it would be perfect for my string of hearts plant. Check out the website, you'll be sure to fall in love with something too!

Rediscovering my love of flea markets - I've mentioned before on the blog how my style has been evolving of late and I've been buying more contemporary items for my home. I wasn't sure if that meant that my love for vintage had disappeared or not. But during our holiday in France last week, we visited quite a big brocante, and I quickly realised the thrill of the vintage hunt is still within me! What I discovered though, is that I am now much more considered and restrained than I used to be. This time, I had in mind what I was looking for (great plant pots and pink or yellow items) so I managed to bypass items that previously I would've jumped on just because they were super cheap. In the end, I came away with just three things - this yellow tin, a peach coloured plant pot (nearly pink!) and a poster with bird illustrations. I know, I know, the poster didn't fit within my criteria, but it was beautiful, in perfect condition and only €20!! 

Growing peonies - I think peonies may be a staple in my summer 'month of lovely' posts! I know I mentioned my coral favourites in the April round up, but I was thrilled to find these gorgeous white ones had come into bloom in our garden when we got back from holiday! It's typical that they were obviously at their pinnacle while we were away, but I quickly snipped this one to bring indoors to enjoy while I work. I can't take the credit for growing these, as the plants were here when we moved in, but I definitely think I'd like to try and plant a few more for next summer, it would certainly save money on buying them during the season each year! 

That's it for this month, I do hope you enjoy these posts and the little peek into what I've been enjoying in my life lately. Do pop over and say hi on Instagram (I'm @patchworkhrmy) and join in with the project. #amonthoflovely

A flower filled home - inspired by Chelsea Flower Show

Back when I worked for FT Weekend for five years, this time of year always meant Chelsea Flower Show for me. We did a lot of coverage of the show, and even did a special supplement on the event. I did a lot of sourcing images of the show as well as commissioning photographers to shoot at it. But never did I get to make a visit myself. So, unsurprisingly, I was thrilled when I was invited along this year by Marks and Spencer! I was finally getting to see all of those stands and gardens designed by the experts with my own eyes, and indulge in one of my favourite things - photographing flowers. 

Marks and Spencer's Spirit of Summer display (pictured above) was absolutely stunning. I spent ages snapping the fountain of blue, purple and green flowers with pops of pink, and the walls laden with vibrant blooms in the colours of summer. 

I didn't get as much time at the show as I'd have liked. I had an afternoon ticket, so had to whizz back to collect the little 'un, but after visiting M&S, I had a quick browse of some of the other stands, and was inevitably drawn to peonies and anything a little bit wild. And from my pics above, it's clear my pink obsession continues! While my trip was a bit of whirlwind, there's no doubt that it filled me up with floral inspiration, and coming home, I *needed* to surround myself with blooms in every room!

Filling your home with flowers sounds extravagant, but actually if you are savvy it's quite easy to add a bit of a floral touch to almost every room. The best way I find to do this is to mix and match a couple of bouquets, and you can even add in a few of the cheaper little bunches such as gypsophila and alstroemeria. Splitting up a larger bouquet into lots of smaller vessels, rather than just putting it all in to one big vase, gives the chance to spread the floral love around your space...

Gathering a range of vessels in different shapes and sizes will help to determine the size of the posies you create, so some will need a good bunch to fill it, while others, like little vintage bottles, look great with just one or two stems....

I am by no means a good flower arranger, but I really enjoy playing with flowers in this way, and the more you do it, the better you'll get. The above arrangement was the first time I've ever tried using wet foam bricks. The vintage bowl I've used wouldn't hold flowers in the usual way, so adding a small piece of florist foam to slide the stems into worked perfectly. 

This little desk vase above is mostly just gypsophila and alstroemeria, with some added foliage from a larger bouquet and a single peony, which, when it blooms, will really fill out the arrangement. 

Any left over foliage and flowers can be popped in a vase together, and makes a lovely wild, yet summery display. You can even bulk out your arrangements with foliage from the garden or hedgerows, and simply buy one bouquet to split. You home will be flower filled in no time! 

Thank you to Marks and Spencer for fulfilling my dream of visiting Chelsea Flower Show (!) and for sponsoring this post. 

Top lifestyle books for Summer

With summer upon us, you may be taking a little bit of time out, so it's the perfect excuse to indulge in some beautiful inspiring books while you kick back. I've gathered a few faves that I definitely think are worth checking out, with varying themes - from Instagram help to modern craft projects to London shopping tips...

A Year Between Friends by Maria Alexandra Vettese & Stephanie Congdon Barnes

I reviewed Maria & Stephanie's first book A Year of Mornings previously and loved it, so was excited to get my hands on their latest offering. A Year Between Friends has a similar feel to their first book - gorgeous every day photography from the lives of two friends, but this time it has a more practical element added in. Recipes, craft ideas and tips on wellbeing flow through the book and the seasonal journey it takes you on. We follow Maria's pregnancy as it progresses, and share in her joy at the birth of her daughter mid way through the book. It is a heart warming read, full of appreciation for domesticity and creativity, and the celebration of true friendship. 

Published by Abrams. Order here.

Sunshine Spaces by Beci Orpin

I'm just loving the cover of Beci Orpin's fourth DIY book, it seems to exude happiness! Once you delve inside, you'll feel totally inspired by the gorgeous photography and fun design too. So, even if you never make any of the projects, it's simply a beautiful book to flick through regardless. BUT, the chances are you will want to make many of Beci's nature inspired ideas, as there are so many great ones! They seem straightforward and all are cool, modern projects - not a twee craft idea in sight! Make a macramé camping chair, a picnic blanket or pet rocks with the kids, all in on-trend Beci Orpin style!

Published by Hardie Grant books. Order here.

Living with Plants by Sophie Lee

I don't know about you, but my plant habit has been escalating lately, with varying levels of success, but I do feel like my plant care skills have improved some what. There's still much to learn though, and this guide by Sophie Lee, owner of Geo Fleur is a good place to start. As well as lots of pretty plant-filled imagery to pore over, Sophie explains how to choose the right plants for your home, takes a closer look at some of the most popular varieties and shares lots of practical tips for caring for your plants. I shall be studying this closely in my quest for houseplant heaven! 

Published by Hardie Grant books. Order here.

The Scandinavian Home by Niki Brantmark

This book is kind of a no-brainer for me. I LOVE Niki's blog My Scandinavian Home - it is jammed packed of some of the most inspiring homes I've ever come across, so a book filled with the same MUST be in my collection! And it certainly doesn't disappoint - I literally want to scrutinise every single page, gleaning ideas that might just make my home as effortlessly chic as the ones featured. It's also made me yearn for a trip to the Nordic countries more than ever, in the hope that some of their natural style will rub off on me! 

Published by Cico Books. Order here.

Read This If You Want To Be Instagram Famous by Henry Carroll

Lastly are two small format books, the first which claims to be your guide into Instagram fame. It's title certainly does grab you if you are as Instagram obsessed as I am! Whether reading it will actually bring you those millions of followers you dream of is yet to be seen, but it is at the very least, an interesting insight into the people who are making it big on the app. Tips from 50 top Instagrammers are interspersed with technical advice on things like composition, using hashtags and how to make money from your feed. It is definitely worth a read if you are having a creative lull and need a inspiration boost, plus you'll discover some ace accounts to follow too. 

Published by Laurence King. Order here.

Shop London by Emma McCarthy

I obviously love any book that's about shopping, particularly when it's about my own city and the independent shops to be discovered there. There's been many of these types of guides published over the years, but they can become outdated as shops close or change, so I like to pick up newer versions like this to see what's new on the retail scene. Saying that, the shops featured in this book aren't necessarily new, but they've been carefully handpicked by Emma (deputy fashion editor of the London Evening Standard), for being the most talked about, tucked away and unique retail spots in the city. It's a must for anyone visiting London, but also for those of us who've lived here for years, but are still discovering its hidden gems. 

Published by Frances Lincoln. Pre Order here.

So, that's what's on my shelves right now, I know I'll be dipping into these books regularly for creative inspiration! What's on your reading list this summer? 

Plans for a bright and airy hallway

When we moved to our new house just over seven months ago, we didn’t have any kind of plan for the renovations. We still don’t! In fact, it all seems to be happening quite organically. As one thing gets done it often seems to lead onto another. For example, we’ve just had an en-suite installed in the loft conversion, but as it needed electrics fed up there, the builder had to lift the (hideous) lino on the ground floor entrance hall to lay the cabling. We now have bare floorboards, and I have kind of started peeling off the textured wallpaper too! So now, despite being a big job, (it would involve doing the stairs and landings too) I can’t stop thinking about what we should do with this area! It always helps me to gather my thoughts and ideas together here, so here’s a little bit about what I’m thinking….

Image via Carla Aston

Image via Carla Aston

Image via SFGirlbyBay

Image via SFGirlbyBay

Vinyl flooring by AtraFloor

Vinyl flooring by AtraFloor

It’s quite a narrow hallway and it feels quite dark, so I’m keen to really brighten it up and make it feel as airy as possible - cue gallons of white paint! With a space so small, it’s necessary to create interest via the walls and floors, and while I love tiled flooring in hallways, I did come across this vinyl flooring by AtraFloor recently which caught my eye, and fed my pink obsession! The other option is to go with painted floorboards and add colour (pink, most likely!) via paint, perhaps on the stairs or inside of the door.

Image via Roomed.nl

Image via Roomed.nl

Image top left via oldbrandnew.com / Mint green ceiling light, £49, made.com / String of hearts art print, £78, Ross and Brown / Arrow hook, £19.60, Urban Outfitters / Oak console Table, £217, Quercus Living

Image top left via oldbrandnew.com / Mint green ceiling light, £49, made.com / String of hearts art print, £78, Ross and Brown / Arrow hook, £19.60, Urban Outfitters / Oak console Table, £217, Quercus Living

As well as being bright and inviting, the entrance hall requires a level of functionality. So, adding wall hooks, shelving, baskets and a sturdy piece of oak furniture like a slim console table with drawers, like the one above from Quercus Living, gives you plenty of storage. I want the area to be clutter free, so adding these allows coats, scarves, keys and other bits and bobs to be tidied away. 

Wooden shelf with hooks, £50, Cox and Cox / Doormat, £16, Oliver Bonas / Faux Begonia tree, £295, Rose and Grey /  Cast iron radiator, price dependent on size, Castrads / Storage basket, £19.99, H&M / Curved mirror, £85, Notonthehighstreet.com

Wooden shelf with hooks, £50, Cox and Cox / Doormat, £16, Oliver Bonas / Faux Begonia tree, £295, Rose and Grey /  Cast iron radiator, price dependent on size, Castrads / Storage basket, £19.99, H&M / Curved mirror, £85, Notonthehighstreet.com

I’m keen to introduce a bit of greenery to the space, but as it doesn’t get a huge amount of light, I’m thinking artwork and artificial plants are the way to go. A full-length mirror is handy for checking yourself out before you leave, with the added bonus of hopefully reflecting a bit of extra light into the hallway. Details like a slim cast iron radiator, gorgeous light fittings and a fun doormat will all add interest.

I’m really liking the idea of mixing natural materials, botanical elements and pops of colour – I’d love to hear what you think!

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Quercus Living, but all choices and opinions are my own.

Living room makeover - Part II - features

As you may have read in the first part of our living room transformation, we did quite a bit to the space, so I thought it best to break up the posts up a bit! This time, I thought I'd focus in on the fixed features of the room - the backdrop to the furniture & accessories....

One of the biggest changes to the room was definitely the floor. Below is the 'before' shot again so you can see the carpet that covered the entire room before. It was old, worn, saggy and smelt! 

We decided we wanted the living room flooring to be a big feature in the house, so while it wasn't cheap it will be there for a long time and hopefully should only get better with age. I did consider reclaimed parquet, but after reading up on it, it sounded like it might be a nightmare as the old glue is usually left on the planks, making it more difficult to re-lay. We decided to go for oak parquet made to order, that had a bit of a distressed look in a paler shade of wood. We used a local company to lay it, Surrey Wood Flooring, who sadly, I was quite disappointed with. They started off well, but when it looked like the job was over running, they suddenly sped up and rushed through the finishing. The beading around the edges was terrible (I had it redone, but still a lot of it came away from the skirtings and we've had to re-stick it ourselves.) Anyway, I won't bore you with my complaints, but it's just very frustrating when you spend so much on something only to have lazy workmanship isn't it? Overall, I'm pleased with the floor, but it's those little details that I'm sure no-one else will notice, but I know they are there!

We decided to add an extra radiator in the room as well as replacing one of the old ones. We added this one under the window from Castrads. This is their Grace 6 Column model. Their radiators come in over 60 finishes, including Farrow and Ball and Little Greene colours. We opted for Farrow and Ball in Off Black - it's just gorgeous. It probably sounds weird, but I feel cast iron radiators give a room a bit more credibility, as if it's a bit more grown up.... is that just me?!

At some point the room was two separate rooms, so there is actually two fireplaces in it. We gave both of these a bit of a facelift. I really wish I had a before shot before we painted the walls - the chimney breasts were gold and the rest of the walls dark navy, but you can see how the old tiles looked at least in the before & after above. I repainted the fireplace surrounds in Farrow and Ball Off Black, the same as the radiators to tie these together. It's a really dark navy and is less heavy looking than the previous black paint. Their paint is so lovely to work with I find - easy to apply and gives a beautiful finish. We then replaced the fireplace tiles with these amazing Bert and May glazed tiles. I'm SO in love with them! They look great against the parquet. Below is the other fireplace....

On the wall behind the sofa we put up some Ikea picture ledges. I decided I wanted to be able to change the display here. For example if I change the cushions on the sofa, and could change the display accordingly. It's a really easy way to update the look if I feel like it. 

I'm totally in love with this pouffe from Swoon Editions. Would you believe I actually ordered it when I was in hospital in January! I found internet shopping was the best way to distract myself from my nerves about the imminent surgery. I also knew that Swoon Editions don't have items in stock for long so I HAD to snap it up! They don't have them anymore, but it's worth keeping an eye out as they sometimes get items back in stock....

The final addition to the room was some alcove shelving. Our new favourite thing is going to Homebase and getting wood cut to size! ha! Such a handy free service, and saves us a job! So I think these shelves cost us about £10, and I'm really loving their simplicity. I'm trying to keep them uncluttered in my quest for a more pared back look.

So that's that. In the final post I will be showing you the last corner of the room which is Ruby's little play area which we are just finishing off at the moment. Stay tuned! 

**Thanks goes to Castrads, Farrow and Ball and Bert and May for helping out with our makeover."" 

April: A Month of Lovely

Wow, another month has whizzed by! This year is going ridiculously fast. Since my last A Month of Lovely post, the fab Sara of Me and Orla included the hashtag in her newsletter round up of hashtags you should be using, which has given the tag a massive boost on the number of people using it. Thank you Sara! Hashtags are a funny old thing though, people using them don't necessarily know where they originated from, so if you do use it, feel free to tag me in too, so others might pop along here and find out more about the idea behind it. :) 

Anyway, onto my own Month of Lovely....

Recording my first ever podcast interview - I started getting really into podcasts about 2-3 months ago. There are lots of amazing creative business ones popping up, and I've found they are particularly great to listen to while you are decorating - you can totally focus on the conversation while painting a wall! I've listened to Sara's Hashtag Authentic episodes, lots of A Playful Day's old ones and I had recently started listening to Style Matters by stateside bloggers Zandra and Karen. So I was thrilled (yet scared!) when the ladies emailed me and asked if I wanted to be one of their guests to chat about 91 Magazine, Patchwork Harmony and my book. It is now available to listen to here, or just look them up on your podcast app. 

The latest issue of 91 Magazine - It's always a nerve-wracking week for me when the magazine goes to print and I await the delivery. This time was our biggest print run to date, so it feels even more worrying - what if something goes wrong?! But thankfully, this time we don't seem to have any major problems, and I'm really happy with the issue. This issue is due to be stocked in 50 WH Smith stores which is a big step for us, so do look out for it in the major train stations and airport shops! If you haven't got your copy yet, you can order direct from our site and I urge you to take a look at the beautiful screen prints by Karolin Schnoor (pictured above) that we are selling with the magazine as a bundle. They are so beautiful, which may be tricky to appreciate from photos, but the paper and the metallic ink they are printed with is just stunning. Pop over to the shop, I promise you won't be disappointed! :) 

Peony season - YES! It's here! I'm yet to tire of these beautiful flowers yet, although I often struggle to justify a purchase as they aren't the cheapest. The other day my lovely mum bought me a bunch of my faves - the coral variety which I had in my wedding bouquet. I love watching them go from closed up spheres, to gradually revealing their yellow interior, to finally fading to palest pink... 

The business of Instagram - It really is unbelievable how much Instagram has changed how people promote their business, gain work and generally live their life. When we have a family outing these days, both me and the hubby are trying to get great shots of Ruby or of wherever we are - to post on our Instagram. I don't think it's a bad thing - we both enjoy taking photos, so why not have an incentive to get better shots? I find the use of the app intriguing, particularly in terms of how some people make a living solely from it. I don't expect to be doing that any time soon, but I did buy this book Capture your Style to start looking more closely at how I use it for business. 91 deputy editor Laura reviewed it over on the 91 blog recently if you fancy a peek. 

Magazines I'm reading - I don't get a lot of time to put my feet up and read other magazines, but I've recently stocked up on some others I enjoy, with the plan to catch up on them soon! Lionheart, Frankie and a new one to me, Project Calm are all piled up next to the bed, ready for a perusal. What mags are you reading at the moment? 

So that's lots of goodness from my past few weeks. What about you? Tag your pics with #amonthoflovely or why not join in with your own blog post too? Find me on Instagram at @patchworkhrmy

Meri Meri at The Hambledon collaboration

It's no secret that I love shopping. My heart skips a beat when I discover and step inside a beautiful new store to explore, and that's exactly what happened when I laid eyes on The Hambledon a few years back. I loved it so much I even featured it on the cover of my book! If I live closer I'm sure I would be in there on a weekly basis. In lieu of this, I enjoy keeping up to date on the goings on at the shop via their website and newsletters, and was recently wow-ed by their current collaboration with super fun party & homeware brand Meri Meri.

I'm such a big fan of creative collaborations, they just seem to make so much sense, bringing together brands that can support each other, and share their customer base. I wanted to find out a little more about this partnership, so had a chat with Victoria, owner of The Hambledon, Maria, one of Meri Meri's visual merchandisers and Stef, Meri Meri's Creative Director's Executive Assistant....

PH: Victoria, Can you tell me a little about the Hambledon project space as a concept? 

Victoria (TH): We have a mezzanine level at the back of the shop which, in the very early days, was our menswear department. When menswear moved to its own floor in the basement we decided to turn the area into a collaborative space. We wanted to work with selected suppliers on a pop up/exhibition basis. It's a kind of fun outreach programme!

PH: I know this isn't the first time you've worked with Meri Meri - but how did you collaborative relationship come about? And how does this project differ from the first one in 2015? 

Victoria (TH): When we first worked with Meri Meri we had already organised a number of Projects with other suppliers (but on fashion and homeware) and Meri Meri gave us the opportunity to showcase a more kid centric area. The first Project focussed more on their party ware. This time around they have just launched a new range of children's bed linen and soft furnishings which is the main emphasis for us but we're still selling a lot of the smaller pieces (we can never have enough tattoos and patches and pins!).

PH: Stef and Maria - What is it you love about the Hambledon shop and the space? 

Maria (MM): Walking down the cobbled side passage to find this little treasure trove is a lovely, unexpected surprise. It's such a beautifully curated space, which is so thoughtfully edited, making for a very enjoyable, shopping experience. It feels a little bit more like you're walking into someone's home rather than a retail shop. 

Stef (MM): The people! The Hambledon staff are so lovely and make us feel right at home. They have a great space but what makes it is their products; there is careful thought that goes into the selection and merchandising. They have a formula that works and it keeps the customers continuously coming back for more. The Hambledon give us free reign with the space which we have found quite rare when collaborating or doing pop ups with other brands. They choose the brands they like to collaborate with and then trust them to deliver. I think this makes it even more interesting for the customers as they never know what it’s going to look like next! 

PH: What do you believe are the benefits of collaborating with like minded brands? 

Stef (MM): Like minded brands have like minded customers and by collaborating with them we extend our customer base and reach out to other customers that are much more likely to buy into Meri Meri.  They may not have even heard of us before but by collaborating with other brands they may follow / like it gets us in front of them as well and gets our name out there.

Maria (MM): Creative collaboration with other brands is always exciting for us as it gives us an opportunity to develop ideas and ranges that might not fit into the exact handwriting of the Meri Meri brand, but do work as a collaboration and bring another dimension to it.  

Victoria (TH): It's a way for us to reinvent the space every few months. It gives us something fresh to communicate with our customers. It's usually fun to organise and I hope it shows that we can look beyond our four walls and shake up The Hambledon aesthetic. I don't want the shop to feel too precious.

PH: Finally, Meri Meri also did a wonderful collaboration with Liberty. Do you have any tips or advise for small independent designers and brands on how to go about collaborating with influential brands? 

Stef (MM): Keep at it.  It is hard work to get your foot in the door but once you do it is worth all the work.  Collaborating with influential brands is a great way to get exposure and catch the eye of potential customers.  It also keeps your designs fresh and on trend.

Maria (MM): Be prepared and well planned. Think of it as a partnership. If you're drawn to a particular brand, think about what it is specifically about that brand that your drawn to and what it is about your brand that you feel compliments theirs and work from that. 

Thanks for that insight ladies! Isn't it just a gorgeous space filled with gorgeousness!? I definitely think a day trip to Winchester is on the cards! If you can't make it there though, you can check out the Meri Meri range over on The Hambledon's website

Editor life: The Full 91 Magazine Story - Part III

The latest issue of 91 Magazine has just published this week - hurray! It's the third print edition and as always the team are super proud. We've also got an exciting collaboration alongside this issue. Illustrator Karolin Schnoor designed a set of two beautiful prints especially for 91 readers, which you can buy as a bundle with the magazine or individually. Do pop over to the shop to order your mag and check out the prints, they are really lovely! 

the brand new S/S 2017 issue & Karolin Schnoor exclusive screen prints

the brand new S/S 2017 issue & Karolin Schnoor exclusive screen prints

Anyway, as promised, this is the last instalment in the 91 Magazine story. (you can read Part I and Part II first if you like) In the last post, I was up to the start of 2016 when I was getting my little team together and recommencing publishing. Laura had joined me as my deputy editor and we had a lot of decisions to make. One of the main things was whether we were going to take the plunge and get the magazine into print. 

Ever since I created 91 back in 2011, independent magazines had been steadily on the rise. There were now so many on the market and there were even a few shops popping up that were solely selling indie mags. It absolutely seemed like the right time to launch ourselves into print. So we started researching printers and getting quotes and considering what kind of print run we could do. We decided that the idea to take pre-orders prior to doing the print run would help to finance it, and wouldalso give us an indication of how many copies we should print. We still do this now, and it is very much an important part of our business model, assisting in raising the cash to pay for printing. (so we very much appreciate all those folk who pre order their copy!) 

As we were relaunching, I also wanted the magazine to have a complete makeover. I designed a new logo and Lucy joined the team as our designer to create a fresh new look. We came up with a selection of new features and also introduced lots of elements of online interaction. Social media had come so far since I first started out, and it is now an integral part of both our content and how we communicate with our readers. We love to get our readers involved in creativity, so our hashtag projects encourage this, and we also feature some of our favourite Instagrammers each issue as well as including some fave images from the hashtags. 

The 91 Magazine blog has new content a couple of times a week. Images: top left - Holly Jolliffe; top right - Laura Pashby; bottom left - Catherine Frawley; bottom right: Holly Marder

The 91 Magazine blog has new content a couple of times a week. Images: top left - Holly Jolliffe; top right - Laura Pashby; bottom left - Catherine Frawley; bottom right: Holly Marder

The other thing we did with the relaunch was to create a brand new blog. Up until then I'd been sharing 91 news here on Patchwork Harmony, but we realised it was super important to continually create content and connect with our readers in-between issues, particularly as we had made the decision to publish just twice a year. It was such a great move; the blog is now filled with great features, with lots of guest posts from contributors too. I really hope people enjoy reading the blog as much as they enjoy the magazine. 

the first ever print issue - S/S 2016

the first ever print issue - S/S 2016

Our first issue published in May 2016, and it really was a huge highlight in my career. I had always dreamed of this moment so I felt so proud to finally have got there. We were overwhelmed by how many lovely shop owners decided to stock the magazine too. It was also a dream come true to collaborate with Anthropologie on our first print issue. We worked with them on a feature, they hosted our fabulous launch event AND they stock the magazine in their stores! I was so thrilled to have their support as well as all of the amazing indie shops  - particularly when they committed to stocking it before they'd even seen it in the flesh! I still get a huge feeling of pride when I see the magazine on shop shelves - and always have to snap a few pics! 

our A/W 16 issue for sale in Selfridges!

our A/W 16 issue for sale in Selfridges!

Our first print run was 1300 copies - we wanted to be conservative as we didn't know how well it would go, but the first issue took less than three months to sell out. I think by then we had also build up a stockist list of around 50 shops, mainly in the UK, but some in Europe and even in Canada. It was quite a lot of work handling the distribution ourselves so as we started to work on the second issue, we made the decision to hand this over to a distributor. While it means less profit per copy for us, it takes a lot of work off our plate, and also means we could get the magazine stocked in many shops we wouldn't be able to reach on our own. In fact, we are excited to announce that you will be able to find the S/S 17 issue in WH Smith travel outlets - so at train stations and airports! For the latest issue, we have almost doubled the print run from the first edition, which I am super chuffed about!

Gosh, I could honestly talk about it forever! But I guess that is pretty much where we are up to now. I've actually found myself getting a tad choked up writing this post, as 91 is literally my baby, and I can't believe how far it has come since 2011. Of course, I have that thing that I think most people running a business get, where I'm always striving for more - more sales, more stockists, more opportunities - but I think writing the full story down here has made me appreciate the journey I've been on with it, and it proves that with a little bit of drive and determination you really can make your dream project come true. 

Image tagged with #my91magazine on Instagram, by @kelly_love_com whose home was the cover story in the A/W 6 issue. 

Image tagged with #my91magazine on Instagram, by @kelly_love_com whose home was the cover story in the A/W 6 issue. 

I often get asked what my favourite thing is about running the magazine. I absolutely love the process - bringing it all together and then seeing the finished product. But I think my absolute favourite aspect is seeing people enjoying it. I LOVE seeing people's images on Instagram when they tag #my91magazine and I get to see it in people's homes and hear what they've loved about it. I was recently in Anthropologie and I spotted a woman sitting on a sofa flicking through our A/W 16 issue. I'll admit, I did hover, watching to see whether she was enjoying it, although I didn't pluck up the courage to say anything! I didn't see whether she bought it or whether she was simply passing the time, but I still felt such joy to see someone taking in the pages of something myself, my team and our amazing contributors had created. That's definitely what it's all about...

All three print issues displayed in my office.

All three print issues displayed in my office.

Hopefully that's given a bit of an insight into publishing an independent magazine! If you've got any questions just drop me a line, and of course, make sure to hot-foot it over to the website and bag yourself a copy of the new issue! www.91magazine.co.uk/buy

Trend spotting in Milan with DFS

Every now and then, an opportunity comes along that simply can't be turned down. Back in March I received an invitation from DFS to accompany them to the Salone del Mobile furniture fair in Milan. When I worked at the FT on their House & Home supplement, we featured the Salone every year, so I was well aware of the scale and importance of this fair in the interiors world. So it was super exciting to get the chance to see it in person - plus I've never been to Milan, so that in itself was very cool! So hubby took over the childcare reins for 2 days, while I jetted off, all ready for a dose of interiors inspiration!

After meeting up with fellow bloggers Jess of The Only Girl in the House, Ashley of Lazy Daisy Jones and Geraldine of Little Big Bell, we had dinner with the DFS design team, before an early start to hit the fair the next morning. It was fascinating to chat to the people behind the brand and find out about how the sofa design process works and where they get their inspiration. 

A lot of their inspiration indeed stems from attending shows just like the Salone, as well as smaller events throughout the year. They are looking out for emerging trends - sofa shapes, colours, fabrics, design details - it was so interesting to browse the stands with them, hear their thought process and pick up on what things they plan to implement in future designs. 

For me, there were three trends that really stood out throughout the show, with almost every stand I visited having elements of these within them. These were: velvet, marble and botanicals. I'm already very partial to a plant or two, and if you read last week's post, you'll know I've clearly fallen for the marble craze, and well, I may have just ordered myself a few velvet cushions! 

There was also a lot of colour around - and while I'm still loving a bit of grey at the moment, it was hard not to fall for the sumptuous greens in every shade, the luxurious burnt orange hues and the blush pinks that seemed to dominate the fabric choices. 

I was then intrigued to see how the DFS designers translate all of this inspiration into their range. And well, it seems they are one step ahead with this gorgeous lime green velvet sofa from their Topaz range. They also incorporated the marble theme by using the pattern on a striking armchair and footstool. 

This Athena three seater sofa (inspired by another Salone-spotted trend for casual folds and visible seams) appeals to my grey addiction, and by simply adding colour with paint, accessories and that pink velvet Zinc armchair (swoon!), it looks stunning.

It was such an interesting trip - obviously it was amazing to visit Milan and the fair, but I also loved finding out more about the design process behind a brand like DFS. As part of the collaboration I've also been gifted my very own sofa, and I'll be sharing some pics of it soon, along with a peek at our newly renovated living room! You may just spot of few of these trends creeping in! 

If you are in the market for new furniture then I recommend you take a little peek at their sofa range, there are some lovely ones - my faves are the Zinc range which also comes in a velvet fabric collection, the Topaz range and the Betsy range. Thanks so much to DFS for a wonderful trip! 

Sourcing... marble tables

I've been toying with the idea of offering a product research / sourcing / design service recently. It's definitely one of my favourite things - hunting for the perfect pieces of furniture, lighting, art or textiles for a room. I'd love to be able to help other people who perhaps don't have the time to research the perfect bookcase or to bring together an entire room. Over the years I've built a big book of sources for furniture and homewares so I'd love to be able to utilise this. Anyway, my husband has been acting like a 'trial run' client recently, as I search out things for our own home renovation. I generally always run things by him, particularly the bigger purchases, so it often feels like he is the client I am trying to please! For example, this week I've been trying to source a marble side table for our living room, which has been surprisingly difficult, considering how much marble is on trend right now! The brief is:

  • small enough to fit in the designated corner
  • yet large enough to fit our existing lamp on
  • under £200 (ideally well under this!)
  • not too formal

I've put together a list of 15 tables, but I must admit a few have crept over budget! I'd love to hear which ones you guys are loving, perhaps you can help us choose! ;) 

Luxe round side table, £195 - Oliver Bonas

Luxe round side table, £195 - Oliver Bonas

Hex side table, £159 - West Elm

Hex side table, £159 - West Elm

Detroit Square side table, £195 - Graham and Green

Detroit Square side table, £195 - Graham and Green

Round marble coffee table, from £120 - Rockett St George

Round marble coffee table, from £120 - Rockett St George

Bilbao side table, £149 - Swoon Editions

Bilbao side table, £149 - Swoon Editions

Detroit Oval Coffee Table, £250 - Graham and Green

Detroit Oval Coffee Table, £250 - Graham and Green

White stone coffee table, from £135 - Rose and Grey 

White stone coffee table, from £135 - Rose and Grey 

Hexxed Low Table, £564 - Heals

Hexxed Low Table, £564 - Heals

NOTE: I only included the above table as I saw it at the Salone del Mobile in Milan a few weeks ago and LOVED it! I was quite shocked when i saw the price! 

Marcel marble side table, £275 - Graham and Green 

Marcel marble side table, £275 - Graham and Green 

Round white marble side table, £119.99 - Zara Home

Round white marble side table, £119.99 - Zara Home

White marble side table, £95 - Rose and Grey 

White marble side table, £95 - Rose and Grey 

Kasper console table, £279 - Swoon Editions

Kasper console table, £279 - Swoon Editions

Scandinavian style white stone table, £150 - Not on the High Street 

Scandinavian style white stone table, £150 - Not on the High Street 

Heidi side table, £145 - Graham and Green

Heidi side table, £145 - Graham and Green

White Marble Drum Side Table, from £75 - Rose and Grey

White Marble Drum Side Table, from £75 - Rose and Grey

Any catching your eye?! Stay tuned to see which one we go for! Oh, and if anyone reading this happens to be interested in finding out more about my idea for a product research / sourcing service then just get in touch - I'd love some guinea pigs (other than my hubby!) to try it out on! ;) 

Creating a living room play space

You may have spotted over an Instagram a little peek at our living room - where we finally got the parquet floor laid, which has been in the making since well before Christmas! It's a lovely big room - it's actually two rooms knocked together, and as it's quite long it doesn't really work as just a living room. The obvious thing would be to have one half as a dining space, but we are lucky to have another room off this one which we use as a dining / garden room. So the idea for the other half of the living room is to make a bit of a play area for Ruby. The challenge for me though is to create a space that is not only appealing and fun to her, but also is in keeping with the rest of the room. I've been gathering a few ideas for how best to do this, along with some items we already have and some I might well be adding in there very soon... 

via Your DIY Family

via Your DIY Family

ABC paper storage bag, £14, Nubie / Mountain cushion, £26, This Modern Life / Ferm Living jute rug, £45, Future and Found / IKEA PS cabinet, £70, IKEA

ABC paper storage bag, £14, Nubie / Mountain cushion, £26, This Modern Life / Ferm Living jute rug, £45, Future and Found / IKEA PS cabinet, £70, IKEA

Height chart, £34, Hello wall hook, £38, both This Modern Life / Play table, £85, Olli Ella, Mini Kubrick armchair, £179, Made.com

Height chart, £34, Hello wall hook, £38, both This Modern Life / Play table, £85, Olli Ella, Mini Kubrick armchair, £179, Made.com

Top right: via Cup of Jo / Play kitchen, £100, John Lewis / Keep the Wild in you decal, £16.50, Violet and Percy / Stripy storage bag, £13, Southwood Stores / Face cushion, £35, This Modern Life / Alphabear A2 print, £14, This Modern Life / Black and Yellow beanbag, £50.74, Smallable / Sea grass basket, £19, Oliver Bonas

Top right: via Cup of Jo / Play kitchen, £100, John Lewis / Keep the Wild in you decal, £16.50, Violet and Percy / Stripy storage bag, £13, Southwood Stores / Face cushion, £35, This Modern Life / Alphabear A2 print, £14, This Modern Life / Black and Yellow beanbag, £50.74, Smallable / Sea grass basket, £19, Oliver Bonas

Basically, I'll be trying to keep the decor quite neutral, with black, white and grey, with a few splashes of colour added in. There is a still a playful, childlike theme and of course her toys will fill the storage items, so hopefully it will be a lovely space for her to play in. 

Watch this space for when I share a full room reveal! ;) 

Getting out of my comfort zone with Miscellaneous Adventures

I must admit, I am definitely one for cosying up in my comfort zone. My weeks and weekends are generally quite hectic, and juggling a busy work / life schedule doesn't often lend itself to trying different things - I just don't have the time. Furthermore, I am not much of an outdoorsy person either - My love of interiors I guess rings true with the fact that generally I prefer being snuggled up indoors than being outside! Not to say I don't like being outdoors, especially at this time of year, but I'm just not big on camping and you know, generally outdoorsy things like that. So, last weekend I decided it was time to step up and step outside and challenge myself to something a little different. 

I spent my Saturday in the woods with the guys from Miscellaneous Adventures - husband and wife team, Andrew and Emma - who host creative workshops in the great British countryside. Ok, so the workshop I opted for was a little less 'physical' than some of their others, but still, it was change of environment for me nonetheless! Their main workshops are wood carving and axe skills, but I was taking their newest course - Drawn to Nature. 

The group of seven gathered around a small camp fire, with cups of steaming tea and coffee, while we were introduced to our teacher for the day - Esther McManus. We were encouraged to slow down, investigate our surroundings and find what interested us personally, before we set off on foot for a series of drawing exercises. 

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It was the drawing element of the workshop that drew me to it (scuse the pun!) in the first place. I used to love drawing and painting back when I was at art college in the late 90's (blimey that makes me sound old!) - but as I'd specialised in photography for my degree, I literally hadn't picked up a sketchpad in years, and I really fancied giving it another go, and just being offline for a day. 

Esther's instruction was inspiring and fun, and was interspersed by factual nuggets from Andrew about the flora and fauna we were discovering, his knowledge about the woodland clearly rich and informed. The surroundings were immensely epic and the light on the day was truly beautiful, I struggled to stick to drawing as I was often tempted to snap away with my camera! 

As you can see my drawing and painting skills need a little bit more refining, but for me that wasn't what the day was all about. It was simply about going outside that comfort zone I'm usually so snuggly wrapped in, and discovering that sometimes doing something different is all that was needed to invigorate your soul. 

Find out more about Miscellaneous Adventures on their website - they plan to run more Drawn to Nature workshops later this year, so if you fancy it, it''s probably worth signing up to their newsletter.