Downstairs Loo makeover

So, it's not the most glamourous of rooms, but it is one of the first in our new house to get a full makeover! People keep asking me what our 'plan' is for renovating the house, but to be honest, we don't really have one, we are just doing things when we feel the urge, or when we come up with what we'd like to do in a particular room. With this, it was kind of a needs must job. While it was pretty grotty in there, it wasn't at the top of the list, but just after Christmas we realised that the floor felt really unstable. It appeared that there had been a long-standing leak where the cistern was boxed in. So we decided, if anything, we should do it for safety reasons sooner rather than later. Here is a 'before and after' to get the full effect...! 

As you can see it was pretty rough around the edges - a lot of yellow and a considerable amount of pine for such a small space! It simply needed a complete overhaul so my first task was to source some pretty tiles - naturally!

I'd fallen for some tiles when I was at an event before Christmas, and after posting a pic on Instagram, I managed to find out the supplier and checked out their site. Much to my joy, they came in pink - which I can't seem to get away from at the moment. The tiles are designed by Scandinavian designers Claesson Koivisto Rune, in collaboration with Marrakech Design. They are actually a Swedish company, and while I tried to source a UK supplier to save on delivery, I couldn't, so I bit the bullet and paid the delivery fee from Sweden. So, I'l admit they weren't cheap, BUT I am literally so happy to see them every time I go in there! 

We then opted for simple white metro tiles, painted the walls white and used some grey paint I had left over from a previous project for the window frame and folding door. We got our toilet and basin from Victorian Plumbing, and while we are happy with the items, I was a little disappointed in the service. The delivery came when I was in hospital, and it turned out the sink wasn't there. It took nearly two weeks for them to redeliver it! Not what I needed when I'd just had surgery! 

Anyway, you get over these things... We're really happy with the transformation, it makes SUCH a difference! Below are a few of the little details I've added, some of which were things I already had, such as the plates, plant pot, perfume bottle and mirror, but I've popped the sources for the other bits at the bottom of the post.

Hand towel: House of Rym via The Future Kept

Meraki handwash - Trouva

Light fitting components: Enamel Shades

Gold light pull - Pushka Home

Toilet roll holder - Ferm Living via Scandinavian Design Center

Toilet brush - John Lewis

I'd love to hear what you think! I've got another room makeover coming up next week, so look out for that too. x

Sourcing: The plant pot edit

As I mentioned in my recent post my plant collection has been growing steadily of late, and it feels like I am on a constant hunt for pretty pots to display the new additions in. I don't know about you, but I find it's sometimes tough to find the right sized pot for a plant, or if I buy a pot first, finding the perfect plant to fit it! So for that reason, I've included the dimensions below on a collection of pots I am loving, which I hope might help you if you are also on a pot hunt! 

Speckled ceramic pot - Geofleur / NOTHS - £23 (7.5x7cm)

Speckled ceramic pot - Geofleur / NOTHS - £23 (7.5x7cm)

Roar + Rabbit Patterned Cachepots - West Elm - from £12 (S: 8cm dia x 8cm h, L: 15cm dia x 18cm h)

Roar + Rabbit Patterned Cachepots - West Elm - from £12 (S: 8cm dia x 8cm h, L: 15cm dia x 18cm h)

Marble effect blue planter - Not on the High Street - £39.95 (Medium: 19cm x 18cm or Large: 24cm x 26cm )

Marble effect blue planter - Not on the High Street - £39.95 (Medium: 19cm x 18cm or Large: 24cm x 26cm )

Scandi Animal Plant Pots (set of 3) - Sparks Living / NOTHS - £30 ( h 10cm dia 9cm)

Scandi Animal Plant Pots (set of 3) - Sparks Living / NOTHS - £30 ( h 10cm dia 9cm)

Wild Alpaca pot - Anthropologie - £16 (11cm W, 12cm H

Wild Alpaca pot - Anthropologie - £16 (11cm W, 12cm H

Teal crackle ceramic pot - Trouva - £22 (H 18cm x W 21cm)

Teal crackle ceramic pot - Trouva - £22 (H 18cm x W 21cm)

Marinski planters - Quince - £19.99 - (h 7cm, dia 9cm)

Marinski planters - Quince - £19.99 - (h 7cm, dia 9cm)

Zig Zag belly basket - This Modern Life - £19.50 (H 15cm Dia 28cm.)

Zig Zag belly basket - This Modern Life - £19.50 (H 15cm Dia 28cm.)

Coral hanging pot - Trouva - £38 (9 x 8 cm)

Coral hanging pot - Trouva - £38 (9 x 8 cm)

Hand illustrated porcelain pots - Oh no Rachio - £25 (9cm dia. x 10cm)

Hand illustrated porcelain pots - Oh no Rachio - £25 (9cm dia. x 10cm)

Ceramic planter - Ruby Roost - £15.95 (16.3cm dia x 12.5cm h)

Ceramic planter - Ruby Roost - £15.95 (16.3cm dia x 12.5cm h)

Brass pot on wooden stand - Forest and Co - from £60 (Small 21cm, M 38cm, L 52cm)

Brass pot on wooden stand - Forest and Co - from £60 (Small 21cm, M 38cm, L 52cm)

Sisal woven basket - The Future Kept - from £25 (S: 18cm x 18cm, M: 23cm x 23cm, L: 28cm x 28cm, XL: 32cm x 32cm)

Sisal woven basket - The Future Kept - from £25 (S: 18cm x 18cm, M: 23cm x 23cm, L: 28cm x 28cm, XL: 32cm x 32cm)

Stripy Ceramic Succulent Pot - Berries for Bella / NOTHS - £16.25 (H 7cm x Dia 7.5 cm)

Stripy Ceramic Succulent Pot - Berries for Bella / NOTHS - £16.25 (H 7cm x Dia 7.5 cm)

White glazed ceramic planter - Design Vintage - £45 (38cm dia, 32cm h) 

White glazed ceramic planter - Design Vintage - £45 (38cm dia, 32cm h) 

Editor Life: the full 91 Magazine story - Part I

It has been a little over five and a half years since I had the idea to start up 91 Magazine. It has come SO far since that tiny seed of an idea! So I thought it would be nice to share a bit more insight about what goes on behind the scenes and what it's like to be the editor of an independent magazine - I hope that sounds vaguely interesting! :) 

To kick it off, I'm beginning with the full story of 91 Magazine - I'm often asked about where the idea came from, how I set it up and the journey it's been on - so this series of posts should give a good overview of the past five or so years. 

Back in 2011, I was working full time as a picture editor for the Financial Times Weekend newspaper. I'd been in the job around three years at that point, and I was learning so much about publishing. I was part of a small team putting together the House & Home supplement, and this gave me the opportunity to understand the process involved in making a publication. From commissioning writers, photographers and illustrators, to the sub-editing and design process, to understanding the job of an editor - curating the pages and making the publication cohesive as a whole. I soaked up as much as I could from this working environment, but it was never my plan to start a magazine - I wasn't squirrelling away knowledge as part of my master plan! 

But at some point in the summer of 2011, an idea came to me. I'd always loved magazines, and had a particular penchant for interiors mags, but I'd started to feel disappointed by my monthly subscriptions, the magazines just didn't seem to speak to me anymore... I felt sure I could create something better - my perfect magazine - filled with interiors that were attainable but not boring, DIY ideas that were modern not twee, as well as speaking to my creative entrepreneur side - advice to help me grow my business and connect with my creativity. BUT, at that time, while I understood the process of putting together a publication, I knew nothing about printing or distribution. I assumed (and may well have been right at that time) that printers would never do small print runs, and I didn't have the cash or guts to print thousands of copies of a brand new magazine! That's when I discovered online magazines. At the time, there were a few American and Australian online interiors mags - Lonny and Adore for example, but no UK focussed ones. That was my lightbulb moment, I'd give it a go as an online magazine and see where we went from there. 

The first digital edition (2011) next to the most recent print edition (AW 2016). 

The first digital edition (2011) next to the most recent print edition (AW 2016). 

I must admit there was some level of naivety, I think I thought that I could do the whole thing myself at first! I already wrote my blog, so I thought it would be like bringing my blog posts together but in a more 'designed' format. I look back on that and LOL! Luckily, I didn't proceed with that plan. I put a call out for contributors on Twitter one day on my way to work - I remember distinctly standing on the train platform and reading lots of replies from people who wanted to get involved and that really spurred me on. A couple of friends from work were also massively encouraging and agreed to help out on the words side of things, as my strengths were mainly on the visual side. 

We set to work, and in October 2011, we published the first 54 page edition on issuu.com. I even managed to sell advertising in this first issue, which was amazing considering it was an unknown, and I am still thankful to those brands who supported me back then. I must say, I cringe massively when I look through that first issue! But at the same time, you have to start somewhere, and I am a big advocate of just going for it and giving an idea a try - so of course your first attempts will be less than perfect. Amazingly that first issue to date has had over 16,000 'reads' on issuu! The difference between the first and second issues is huge though - we had lots more original content in issue 2, as well as more pages, and suddenly I had lots more people interested in contributing and our readership was growing. 

home tour with Tif Fussell - spread from issue 2

home tour with Tif Fussell - spread from issue 2

Style feature spread from issue 6

Style feature spread from issue 6

From there, I continued to publish an issue online approximately every quarter. In 2013, I took voluntary redundancy from my job. It felt like the right time for me, I'd been building lots of contacts and I'd even already had discussions about a book deal, so I was ready to try and be my own boss. By the end of that year, I'd also got married and was pregnant, and that book deal had come to fruition! In 2014, I published a 'special' craft edition of the magazine - it had also had a redesign, and the response to that issue was amazing. To date, it has had over 83,000 'reads' and over 3 million impressions! 

Up until this point the magazine had been free to read, and I now felt that I needed to step things up, and look at how I could start generating some more revenue from the magazine, so I decided to start charging for downloads. I will tell you more about that, and where I went from there in the next instalment! 

To be continued...

I won an award and didn't even know!

So yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my book The Shopkeepers Home had won an award at the end of last year, and I didn't even know about it! It's slightly sad to admit, but every now and then I like to check my book's Amazon page to see if there are any new reviews, which I happened to do yesterday and I noticed it now said: Winner 'Best Interiors Book' - Homemaker Art & Craft Book Awards 2016 just above the description! 

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A quick Google search led me to find out more about the awards hosted by Homemaker magazine, and judged by some well known folk from the interiors/craft industry. My category - Best Interiors Book - was judged by fashion designer Wayne Hemingway. I found on my publishers blog that Wayne had said of the book: “The Shopkeeper’s Home by Caroline Rowland is a genius idea. It allows you to get inside the homes of the coolest indie interiors retailers, and a lot of inspiration can be found there.”

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It really did make my Monday! I've been nominated for various awards over the years, but have never won any, so it feels so nice to get that little bit of recognition, especially when judged by industry people and not just 'get all your mates to vote for you'! 

Thanks again to Homemaker magazine, I'm thrilled to bits! :) 

FEB: A month of lovely - join in!

At the start of the year my intention was to write a 'plan for 2017' post, but then a not-so-great start to January meant it completely slipped my mind. I always feel it is hard to plan your year, mainly because you just never know what is around the corner. If I had have written that post on the 1st of Jan, I would have been incorporating a new baby into those plans, but that is now not to be (well, for now anyway!) BUT, saying that, I do think it's worth having some goals in place, whether they happen or not. 

SO - one of those goals is to work harder on this blog and be more consistent both here and on social media. It is a struggle juggling 91 Magazine, my part time job and this blog, but I hope that if I organise myself better hopefully it will be more manageable. The first step is to write some more regular posts and to create a calendar for myself to follow. 

This new series - A Month of Lovely - is where I want to share the things that I have been doing, liking, buying and working on over the past month or so. Plus, I would LOVE you to join in and share yours too either on your blog or simply on social media with the hashtag #amonthoflovely. (I'm @patchworkhrmy on Instagram BTW)  It doesn't have to be a collection of things like I have done here, it can be an individual thing, a place, a project, an item of clothing or even a person who has made your month lovely.

So here goes! 

Decorating my office - It is SO nice to have a home office space again! Before we moved house, I was in the corner of the living room, surrounded by all my work junk, but now I have a whole room to spread out in, get creative and store all my bits. We've been busy decorating it and I'm excited to share the pictures soon (there's just a few more finishing touches to add), but here I'm hinting a little to the colour scheme with this gorgeous sheepskin rug from Barker and Stonehouse and the cushion from Rigby and Mac which I bought via Trouva. (read my previous post about my Trouva obsession!) Look out for the office reveal soon! 

Buying clothes again - I spent a good portion of January & February wearing pyjamas or leggings after i had my surgery, and I had started to feel super dowdy. I generally tend to get dressed normally ever day, despite working from home, so in the last few weeks I've felt the need to refresh the wardrobe a little and make myself feel more presentable! I found this cardigan in George at Asda the other day for a bargain £16, the colours are gorgeous (my pink & grey obsession extends to clothes too clearly!) and it is really soft and cosy. A great piece for the transition into Spring. 

Knitting - I have well and truly caught the knitting bug it seems! I'm currently working on another one of these blankets and a scarf. There is actually a giveaway over on the 91 Magazine blog to win £150 for We Are Knitters at the moment in case you are interested - I am totally hooked on their wools and patterns - how lovely is that minty green yarn?!

A growing plant family - Our old flat didn't have bags of natural light, so plants always seemed to struggle, but our new place has lots, so I've found my plant family is multiplying on a weekly basis! I've decided it's time to start keeping a little plant diary - somewhere to note down info about each plant, as I find I forget what each one needs, and have to keep referring to the internet. To have it all in one notebook will be really helpful. 

Painting with dark colours - I very rarely stray from the pale colour spectrum, but in our living room I am introducing a darker shade via our soon-to-arrive cast iron radiators from Castrads, and I am tying in the colour by painting our two fireplace surrounds in the same colour. I've opted for Farrow and Ball Off Black. I have only done a tester spot so far, but it appears to be a really rich dark grey. I can't wait to transform those fireplaces with it! 

That's what's made my February lovely folks! I feel it's a really nice way to reflect on the last few weeks and appreciate the things that have given you a little bit of joy. I do hope you will join in and share yours too on your blog or on Instagram! x

Current obsession: Trouva

I feel like I've been doing a LOT of online shopping recently. Moving from a large town to a small village has meant turning to the internet for even the smallest of purchases, which I used to be able to pick up by just 'popping into town'. Funnily enough though, I find that it makes me really consider a purchase before clicking 'buy'. I might pin it or bookmark it and go back to it a few times before finally ordering it, so I kinda feel I am only buying things I really like, rather than on a whim. But, it can often be a little labourious when you are visiting loads of different websites to find what you are after, so I'm currently really enjoying shopping with Trouva

Monstera print from Tea & Kate / Trouva

Monstera print from Tea & Kate / Trouva

Trouva is a collection of around 150 independent boutiques from around the UK all selling via their website. Some of my favourite stores are selling on there - Moonko in Sheffield, Berylune in Leamington Spa, Monpote in Bristol and Cassius and Coco in London, to name a few. 

Hemp dipped basket from Design Vintage / Trouva

Hemp dipped basket from Design Vintage / Trouva

As well as homeware, they also sell clothing and gifts, so it's a bit of a one stop shop, and the great thing is, despite the fact that if you order items from different boutiques, the delivery charge is a standard £3.50. My first experience of using the site was for a Valentines gift - I'd ordered two items from two different shops. I shortly received an email to say one of the items was out of stock and I'd been refunded. I was slightly disappointed (and a bit panicked - "What do I buy him now?!") but I was pleasantly surprised a few days later when a small package arrived containing a personalised iced biscuit from Trouva to apologise about the problem with my order. Yes, it didn't help my frantic gift search, but I did think this was a really nice touch. 

hanging plant pot from Tea & Kate / Pink cushion with gold spots from Rigby & Mac / Handmade mugs from Rigby & Mac / Meraki handwash from Design Vintage; / Grey and Turquiose cushion from Alresford Linen Company / Concrete wall clock from Holloways of Ludlow / Cocos Nucifera Print from Mon Pote - All via Trouva

hanging plant pot from Tea & Kate / Pink cushion with gold spots from Rigby & Mac / Handmade mugs from Rigby & Mac / Meraki handwash from Design Vintage; / Grey and Turquiose cushion from Alresford Linen Company / Concrete wall clock from Holloways of Ludlow / Cocos Nucifera Print from Mon Pote - All via Trouva

I thought I'd share a few of my fave finds from the website, a few of which I may have already treated myself to, and you might see popping up in future room makeover posts which I'll be sharing soon! 

Stoneware pots from Room 356 / Trouva

Stoneware pots from Room 356 / Trouva

Do pop over for a little browse, although make sure you've got a cuppa to hand, you may be some time! Their blog is also worth a little peep as they highlight some of the indie sellers, and you might just discover a few new shops you didn't know before. 

www.trouva.com

Office makeover plans

It's been nearly five weeks since i had surgery after having an ectopic pregnancy, and I'm feeling so much better. Luckily, during this time I've had lots of distractions - Ruby of course, work, and also our home renovations. Our downstairs loo has been done (I will share this soon) and our bedroom has made quite a bit of progress. The current project is my office. I recently removed all the lining paper which was painted dark blue with a statue of Liberty mural (!), but the walls were in quite a state, so we decided to have them re-plastered. We then took up the horrible carpet and thankfully the floorboards were good so they have been painted white. We've got some more painting to do, which is going to be a little experimental, so I will keep this as a surprise for when i show you the room! Fingers crossed it works out. This gives a bit of a hint to the plans...

Above is some of the furniture and accessories I already have or plan to add. We have the Ikea day bed in there, which is a lovely piece and so practical for when people stay as it extends into a double, but it is quite big. So I've kinda had to plan the rest of the room around the bed! But I think it's going to work ok, and it means the room is multi-functional as both a guest room and office. I'm still searching for a bookcase, but I'm also hoping my hubby is going to make me a larger version of the plywood book display that Artemis of Junkaholique made below... 

I hope to get it all finished in the next month or so, and can't wait to move back in there as it's going to be such a nice room to work in. I'll be back soon with the before and after pics! x

Ectopic pregnancy - my experience

I don't often go 'off topic' here at Patchwork Harmony, but once in while things occur that I feel the need to share. Sometimes it's something I think others might benefit from, like hypnobirthing, sometimes it's to raise awareness, and sometimes it's just therapy for myself, I find it helps to write things down - especially difficult experiences - it helps me to process it all.

So that's why I'm writing this post - for all of the above reasons, but also to reject the taboo that seems to surround the subject of losing a baby. It is a very personal matter of course, and understandably some women would rather keep it private, but for me, I always knew that if it happened to me I wouldn't bottle it up, I would share my experience and hopefully reach out to other women going through the same thing, so we can hold hands together and remember we are not alone.

Weirdly, I've always kind of felt that at some point I might have a miscarriage, and I'm guessing that feeling is down to the fact that '1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage' but little did I know what would unfold shortly after we discovered I was pregnant on New Years Eve. 

This picture is me on Friday 13th (unlucky for me it seems!) shortly after surgery to remove my right fallopian tube and our 6 week old foetus that was developing in there. It was just two weeks after finding out I was pregnant, and the diagnosis was an ectopic pregnancy. They told us that as it wasn't failing naturally which often happens, they would have to operate before the tube ruptures which is incredibly dangerous.

My reason for sharing this is not to scare anyone, or worry you if you are in the early stages of pregnancy, but more to highlight the condition and to point out the signs. Call it women's intuition, but weirdly I had a feeling from the start that things weren't right. While we were elated to find out I was expecting on New Years Eve, for the next week I kept commenting on how I didn't 'feel pregnant'. We reminded ourselves that symptoms often don't start till later, but deep down I had a niggle. I tried to convince myself otherwise, and even brushed off some spotting, as I remembered having it with my first pregnancy in the early weeks so pretty much ignored it.

The following Saturday - a week to the day after finding out about the pregnancy, I had a bit more blood, which concerned me enough to go to A&E. After 4 hours of waiting, all I was given was an early scan appointment in 5 days time. After the A&E trip the bleeding completely stopped and I relaxed a bit. But then two days later I started getting a dull achey pain in my right side, which went round into my lower back and down my thigh. Again, I remembered getting aches last time, so assigned it to stretching pains. But the day before I was due to have the scan, my worries came back. While the pain wasn't agony, it did seem to be worsening. Without wanting to rush to A&E again when I knew i had the scan the next day I turned to Dr. Google. We all do it, even though we know we shouldn't,, and this is what I want to highlight. Everything I read online seemed to suggest that unless you were bleeding everything was ok - aches and pains are normal in pregnancy - bleeding is the only thing to be concerned about. THIS IS NOT THE CASE! While I'd had a very small amount the week before, I was having none now, I could easily have reassured myself and just tried to ignore the aches. I'd also read about cysts that often cause pain, so I tried to tell myself that it could be that. The point is, everyone's symptoms are different, so don't ignore any bleeding or pain - and try not to go online - even if you think it's 'probably normal' - just get it checked. 

Despite what I'd read, by that evening I knew that there was definitely something going on, so I asked my hubby to come with me to the scan. Thankfully he did, as hearing the sonographer say 'I can't see anything in your uterus' was pretty heart-breaking. We had a little bit of hope when they said that perhaps my dates were wrong and it was too early to see the baby. They also suggested that the pain I was having was a cyst, so when we were sent home that afternoon, I tried to remain positive that this was the case. But then a phone call from the hospital suggested that the chances of ectopic were looking quite high and that I shouldn't drive or be alone in case the tube burst. This was absolute worst case scenario, but that was all I heard, and I spent the night terrified that it might happen. They told me that if my tube burst I would get pain in my shoulder - I spent the evening thinking my shoulder was getting sore. (your mind can play some cruel tricks!) 

The next morning - Friday the 13th (!) - we were back at the hospital where a consultant scanned me and confirmed the ectopic pregnancy. I was admitted straight away and went to theatre that afternoon. It's been two weeks since then, and I'm recovering well, Of course, it’s not just physical healing, it’s emotional too.. Unlike the traumatic delivery I had when giving birth to Ruby at least I was rewarded with a beautiful baby girl. Sadly this time, I went through the trauma and pain of surgery, but without that wonderful end result. I'm thankful though that we caught it early enough as the consequences could have been very different had the pregnancy continued to developed in my tube. 

I'm not looking for sympathy by writing this post, I really am feeling fine and dealing with it well. All I wanted was to tell my story and highlight the condition - one which I’d never even really contemplated - so that others are aware.  I also wanted to be open about a subject that is often veiled in silence, especially as nearly everyone I've spoken to since has been touched by the loss of a baby, but yet, no one talks about it. It's nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of, it's not a failure, it's just life. it's bloody hard to make a human and sometimes it just doesn't work out. 

Earlier this week, when I had my dressings removed and I saw the scarring, my resolve to stay strong did falter. Again, feeling sad that I've been left with this physical reminder and no new baby to override the pain with happiness. But then, my husband said 'They are proof of your journey through life, they are part of our story.' He's so right, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, “Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it” – we are moving on with positivity and good vibes and the hope of no more Friday the 13th's like that one! 

If you've been affected by ectopic pregnancy or are concerned you might be having one, then the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust is a really useful resource. But as I said, ANY bleeding or pain - just get checked, I'm so glad I didn't ignore what my body and mind were telling me. xxx

Bedroom makeover & bed upgrade

When we moved into the new house, one of the first things we needed to purchase was a new bed. We needed an additional double for the spare room so my parents could stay. So before we even moved, I'd earmarked this copper bed frame from Made.com for our room, and ordered it as soon as we got the keys. 

As the bed was quite a big spend, I decided to order a relatively cheap mattress and bedding - bad move! I should have taken my own advice and not scrimped on the things that need to do a good job. The mattress was really hard and too thin, and the bedding was too light and flimsy. The hubby wasn't happy and I was kicking myself for my less than satisfactory purchases. But luckily, that was when two fabulous companies stepped in to sort things out. 

Firstly, Sleepbear introduced me to their British-made, latex-topped mattress. A new family run business, Sleepbear have developed a 'one mattress suits all' design, which they believe is the ultimate in comfort, support and a good night's sleep. It seems the pure latex they use within the mattress is key to everything - it contours to your body and it's elasticity allows the mattress to bounce back. Not only that, latex is naturally hypoallergenic, so fends off dust mites, mould and bacteria, and due the materials open cell structure it is super breathable, keeping you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. 

When our mattress arrived and we lay on it, we both literally went 'OH YES!' It was SO different to what we had been sleeping on. You can see in the pic above how substantial it is (and it's lovely design!), and it has 100% kept it's shape since we started sleeping on it. It has a firmness to it, but still feels like you kind of sink into it each night. 

So with our mattress upgrade, it would have been ludicrous to then top it with the flimsy duvet and misshapen pillows we'd been using, so thankfully the lovely folk at Soak and Sleep were able to guide us on making our bed a truly luxurious place. On their website, you can tailor your choice of bedding to what kind of sleeper you are... side, back or front sleeper, cold or hot, allergy sufferer etc. We were advised to go with a pure wool duvet, which, as a natural material is great for temperature regulation - I often go to bed cold, but wake up in the night too hot, so it was perfect. As for pillows, it seems latex is winning out again! Same as the mattress, the latex pillows keep their shape amazingly well, and are hypoallergenic, (as is the wool duvet) which is useful for my asthma. 

Last but not least, the bed sheets. Again, I've always been a bit of a cheapskate when it comes to this, but NO MORE! 100% French Linen is the only way to go! I can't believe I've cheated myself out of sleeping between anything less. It feels amazing, it is breathable, again helping with temp control, and there is no need to iron it! added bonus! I'm totally in love with this Blush Pink set I went for, I can't stop looking at it! :) 

Doing this bed upgrade has honestly opened my eyes to how important a good mattress and bedding is. Maybe I'm just getting old, but it feels like a real priority to have a super comfy bed to retreat to after a long, stressful day! 

The entire bedroom has had a bit of a makeover, although it is not complete yet. We are still working out storage options and additional furniture etc. But we did strip off the lining paper that was painted a deep purple and repainted in white, We then got rid of the dark blue carpet and replaced it with this white laminate flooring. As it's a loft conversion, there were no nice floorboards under the carpet, hence the laminate, but I've honestly surprised myself with how pleased I am with it! It has completely transformed the space. I will probably repaint the pink sloping wall, and we need things like a new light fitting, a new door and window coverings, but for now, just making those small changes has made it a completely different room to what it was. Of course I forgot to take any decent 'before' pics (again!) although below is a terrible phone pic from when we viewed the property, and a few 'in progress' ones when I was stripping the walls! 

What a difference a lick of paint and a new floor can make right?! The only furniture I've added to the room so far are the little side tables which I got from Nordic House.

Things are slowly taking shape round here! There's still lots to do, but at least we now have a lovely, comfy place to retire to after days of decorating! Thank you so much to Soak and Sleep and Sleepbear for their help with upgrading our bed - I know I will continue to opt for better quality when it comes to bedding from now on! 

oh, and if you fancy upgrading too, Sleepbear have a £50 off discount code until January 31st, see their website for the code, and Soak and Sleep are in the final week of their sale so take a peek for some bargains! 

Sourcing: La Redoute homewares

Recently I have noticed a lot of homeware items from La Redoute popping up on Instagram, and I was pleasantly surprised, firstly as I didn't even realise they did homeware and secondly because after a quick browse I discovered they have some really lovely pieces at super affordable prices! At the moment they have 30% off everything so I *may* have just ordered myself this lovely rug and magazine rack for my office which I'm in the process of revamping! 

Jeo Rug - £39

Jeo Rug - £39

Magazine rack - £49

The prices above are the full price so at the minute with the 30% off the rug was only £27 and the rack was £34! But even without the discount they are really reasonable prices I think. Saying that, there does seem to be quite a variation in affordability, with some items on the site being a lot more expensive in comparison. 

Junior chair - £175

Junior chair - £175

Stackable school chairs - £225 for two

Stackable school chairs - £225 for two

For example this sideboard is quite pricey, although perhaps more affordable than a similar one in other high street stores? I also really like the Junior chair - it would be perfect for Ruby at the minute as she's no longer in a high chair but a normal chair is a bit low, but it's quite expensive for something we'd only use for a short while... They do matching dining chairs so it would blend in well if you had these too - £225 for two seems more reasonable as well. I also really like these wooden dining chairs, the one for sale on their site at the moment is a grey version which is lovely, but they are £299 - quite a lot if ordering 4 or more...

Afaw shaggy rug - from £99

Afaw shaggy rug - from £99

Cotton duvet cover - from £29

Cotton duvet cover - from £29

So let's get back to those great bargain finds! They have some gorgeous rugs on there, the Afaw shaggy rug was one that I've saw popping up on Instagram quite bit. They've also got some lovely bedding and children's pieces. I love this duvet set with the triangles which is only £29 for a single and £39 for a double. (don't forget the 30% off that too!) 

Metal Armoire - £249

Those metal armoires would make a great toy cupboard in a kids room or perfect storage in an office. How sweet is the little teepee bed canopy and I like the simple design of the bedroom furniture above, although the bed doesn't seem to be on the site sadly...

What do you think? Did you know La Redoute did furniture and homeware or is it just me whose late to the party?! It's definitely one I'll be adding to my bookmarks for when I'm on the hunt for things for the new house! I'll make sure to share pics of the rug and magazine rack when they arrive. Do follow me on Instagram as I tend to post little things like that on there! 

Discovering knitting

If you read my last post and/or follow me on Instagram, you might have heard me mention that I've been trying my hand at knitting recently? Well, I thought I'd fill you in a little more about how I've discovered this new found love for the craft. 

I spend so much time staring at a computer screen or my phone, that it has actually caused me some problems with my eyes, so I really wanted to find an activity that would take me away from the screen and that was creative, and knitting kept popping up as a possible option. My mum is a fantastic knitter and has made lots of things for Ruby and also knits for charity, but one of my memories from my childhood is her trying to teach me, and me throwing a strop because I couldn't get it! So I've never really tried it again since then, so when We Are Knitters got in touch about collaborating, I had to admit my novice knitter status to them! Thankfully they didn't mind that I was a newbie, and it seemed like fate that it came along at the exact time when I was looking for a new hobby. 

After perusing their fab range of knitting kits, I decided to go for the Nick Blanket kit. which is beginner level - that seemed like the best idea! This gorgeous package arrived shortly after, and as a packaging design geek, it certainly got me even more excited about my little project! Everything you need is inside - needles, yarn, instructions, sewing needle and a sweet little label to add to your finished item. 

While the instructions for making the blanket are included, if you are a complete beginner like me, you will need to refer to the internet for how to actually knit! As in the different stitches and how to cast on and off. We Are Knitters have lots of tutorials or you can check out youtube, as there are often different ways of doing some things. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I picked up the stitches I needed for the blanket and after a few practice squares, I got cracking with the blanket. 

In the run up to Christmas my hubby had lots of parties and work commitments in the evenings, so I found myself curled up on the sofa completely immersed in the project and absolutely loving it! I managed to get it completed just before Christmas and I am so chuffed with it! 

Of course as a first attempt it is not perfect and I learnt a few things along the way (like don't leave your ends too short when you are adding a new ball of wool!) but overall it turned out pretty well. 

The finished blanket is not huge, but it would make a perfect baby blanket, or is big enough to drape over your legs on a chilly evening, or for adding texture to a chair or sofa, The wool is so gorgeous and chunky that it feels really snuggly and lovely. Ruby has already claimed it for herself and keeps lying on the floor with it! 

I've definitely got the knitting bug now and am looking for a new project. This cushion looks great, and I'd love to try the fabric yarn and We Are Knitters have so many gorgeous jumper patterns like this one I'd love to try once I'm a little more advanced! 

So, if you've got the urge for a new hobby this year, I can totally recommend it. And now is the perfect time as We Are Knitters have a sale on right now, so do have a peek at their website

*This post was written in collaboration with We Are Knitters, but all choices, opinions and knitting mistakes are my own!*

Photos: Caroline Rowland

My year in pictures 2016

Another year, gone by in a flash! Well, 2016 has been a bit of a strange year in terms of the world we live in. I'm not a big one for politics, but it does feel like the future is quite uncertain, and we don't really know what to expect in the coming years. But as always, I like to take time at the end of each year to reflect, and appreciate the smaller things in life, the things that are personal to me, that have made me happy, proud, or even sad or frustrated, but they are the events that have made up my past 12 months. 

This year (and also part of last year!) has mainly been consumed by the process of moving house. Our original plan was to move by Christmas 2015, but we just made it into our new home for this Christmas! It was nice though at the start of the year to have our old flat featured in Psychologies magazine, it was a lovely shoot by Penny Wincer and a nice way to record our previous home. 

In fact at the start of 2016, I wrote a post with my plans for the year ahead, with the idea of looking back on the at the end of the year to see how things had went. So, tick, we managed to move house!

I'd also just started a new part time job with interiors brand One World Trading Co. back in January. I'm still doing this role, looking after the content for their blog, social media and newsletter, and it's been nice to see how the brand has developed over the last year. As well as lots of new lifestyle photography on their site, we've been working a lot with bloggers which has been fun, plus they recently opened a concession in Harvey Nichols! Do have a peep at their site if you have a mo - www.one.world

The other major plan I had at the start of the year was to relaunch 91 Magazine. After a year away from it, I decided it was time to really go for it, and along with my fab new team, we certainly did that! It's been a great year for the magazine, with two print editions publishing, one in S/S and one in A/W. We now have it stocked in around 70 UK shops, and a few outside the UK, and we've worked with some amazing brands. The above image is from our Summer launch event at Anthropologie! Anyway, you can read more about our first year in print on the 91 blog. 

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With the whole moving house thing this year we found two things - firstly we couldn't plan any holidays as we never knew from month to month if we might finally exchange, and secondly, we kinda lost interest in our flat. It seemed pointless to spend any more time or money on it when we'd be leaving it soon. Looking back, this seemed to free up a bit more time for family days out, plus Ruby was finally at an age were trips into London and elsewhere were becoming slightly less stressful and more fun. We pottered around Petersham Nurseries, we enjoyed art at the Tate Modern, and we relaxed in the cafes of Brighton.

In May we even ventured down to Kent on a lovely Spring day to the Decorative Living Fair. It's always a nice day out although I found it a tad frustrating as I couldn't buy anything yet as we were STILL waiting to move! The above pic is a slightly awkward family shot of us out in Richmond Park. I like it though as we don't often seem to get many of us all together!

Ruby turned two in July, and it wasn't long after that we took our first trip away without her, finally feeling 'OK' with the idea of being apart from her for more than one night. We went to a wedding in Scotland, and really let our hair down for a few nights while also enjoying the magnificent scenery of the west coast of the country. I loved the minimal bedroom that we stayed in at the venue. 

After that little trip, completing on the sale of our flat finally felt like it was in touching distance. At the end of September it happened! A whole year and a bit after we put it up for sale! After seven years of living there, we did feel a little sad, but we were literally bursting at the seams there, and we were totally ready for a new start. 

We are so glad we perservered, as after our first three months in our new home, we are pleased to say we love it! The house needs loads of work but we've already made a good start. The space is great, the light is lovely and it just 'feels' nice. It's true what they say about just knowing when you've found the right house - I still remember I didn't sleep a wink the night after we first viewed it, because I couldn't stop thinking about it and what we could do to it!

We've been mainly focusing on trying to get rid of all of the dark or neon colours that were everywhere! So no rooms are 'finished' yet, but we are getting there! We've got a new floor for the living room coming in the new year which I'm really excited about so I will continue to keep you posted on our progress on here. You can see more of this mini bedroom makeover here.

I've been enjoying spending lots of time in the new house, and keeping cosy during the colder months, and I've taken up a new craft! I've been busy knitting this We Are Knitters blanket, and I honestly did not expect to enjoy knitting so much! I've actually finished the blanket now, so I will share the results on here soon too. If anyone has tips for resources for some modern knitting projects do let me know. 

Following the craziness of the house move and a very busy year work wise, I felt the need for a quick little break by the coast, so we took ourselves off to Norfolk and stayed at Ford House. If you ever get the chance, book yourself a few days here, it is gorgeous and such a lovely part of the country to explore. More pics are here.

The year was rounded off by our first Christmas in our new home, and it was lovely. It's the first year Ruby has had an understanding of what's going on, and I loved seeing her so excited. I'm looking forward to many more Christmasses here! 

So that was my 2016! It was frustrating year at times, but it has definitely turned out well in the end. I have a few question marks about where I want to go with a few things in the next year, but for now I think I'm just going to sit back and take stock, and I'm sure things will all become clear in the new year! 

Thanks again for stopping by despite my slight lack of posts this year! I've been writing this blog now for 8 years, so it very much feels like a part of me, and I'm looking forward to making it a more frequented place in 2017! Happy New Year all, see you on the other side! xxx

Slipper love - Baabuk

I tend to think that in this world there are two types of people - slipper wearers and non-slipper wearers. I am a slipper wearer. As a child, I have memories of getting a new pair of slippers every Christmas, so I guess I've been a lifelong slipper wearer! Whereas my hubby is definitely not one! 

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So I must admit I was very excited to be sent these beautiful wool slippers recently from Swiss brand Baabuk. They are a relatively new business, only starting out in 2013, but owners Galina and Dan are super passionate about wool and their footwear products, which you can tell just from their website where they give a real insight into their product and how it is made

They are so comfy, and feel really sturdy - I've literally nearly walked out of the house a few times in them without realising! I also feel incredibly European walking around the house in them, so much more stylish than a ratty pair of Primark slippers! 

They also very kindly sent (the cutest!) little pair for Ruby too. The smallest size they do is EU24, which is a UK7, which is a bit big for her, so I wasn't planning to give them to her until her feet had grown. But then, she spotted these photos on my computer the other day when I was editing them and said 'There are your slippers mum! and there are mine too!' She's no fool! So I let her try them on and she LOVES them! She is literally obsessed with them! They are a tiny bit big, but they don't generally fall off, in fact, I can't get them off her!

The slippers are made in Nepal, and Baabuk guarantee that their staff there earn higher-than-average salaries and have good working conditions. They really are beautifully made, and come in these lovely bags, making them feel that little bit more special. 

I can't stop taking pictures of Ruby's little pair! This was also probably the only time I've ever got her to stay still for more than 5 seconds to take a photo, she clearly wanted to show them off! 

Oh and if you aren't an avid slipper wearer like myself, then do check out Baabuk's range of wool sneakers, they are machine-washable, and can be worn all year round - keeping your feet warm in winter and cool in summer - I love the Grey and Turquoise pair myself... 

Thank you to Baabuk for gifting us these slippers, I think Ruby and I will be wearing matching pairs for many years to come! 

Planning a plywood bedroom

So last week I started stripping wallpaper in our bedroom, which is a loft room. It is just lining paper, but painted in a plum shade and quite dark. I just needed to get it off asap! But our actual plan for this room is to panel it with plywood. I'm really loving interiors with raw materials right now, things like concrete and bare plaster, and there's some really beautiful examples I've seen where plywood has been used. I was initially inspired by the home of Mirjam Hart which we featured in 91 Magazine S/S 16 issue, where she has panelled behind her bed, although I think this is actually what they call OSB in the trade, and is a lot rougher looking than plywood. 

Photo: Mirjam Hart / via 91 Magazine

Photo: Mirjam Hart / via 91 Magazine

I LOVE this room above, and am definitely thinking that incorporating colour like this is something I'd like to do. 

I love the natural patterns in the wood in the shot above and how the rawness of the wood contrasts with the pretty pink flowers and the smoothness of the marble table.

There are so many ways in which it can be used, if you didn't want full panelling, a head board, or a bedside shelf is a subtle way of introducing it.

Red online

Red online

And you can of course incorporate storage too via cupboards, drawers and shelving all made from plywood. 

Oh, and I DEFINITELY want one of these in my office for my books and magazines! It looks so simple to make and such a nice way to display your favourite reading material. 

I'm still at the planning / gathering ideas stage with our bedroom, but this little bit of research has certainly inspired me. What do you think of plywood as a wall covering? 

A truly excellent vacuum cleaner!

Ok, so this isn't my usual kind of post. I don't tend to talk about tech, or gadgets or appliances, let's face it, it's not the most interesting or inspiring aspect within the home. And to be honest, I've always preferred to spend my money on the 'pretty' elements, and have scrimped on the essentials, assuming that all appliances pretty much do the same job, and generally cutting corners on those not so sexy items! But since moving into our new place, I weirdly feel like a grown-up (well at least a little bit more than before!), and perhaps it's the idea that we see this as our forever house, or at least a very long term one, that I suddenly feel the importance of having things that work well and do their job significantly better than others on the market. I read SO many reviews when selecting our washing machine and dishwasher, and am really happy with what we choose, and for the first time ever we have a tumble dryer - SO grown up! No more laundry hanging off every surface! 

So whenever I was offered a new vacuum cleaner to try out, I jumped at the chance to see if it really was a superior product, that would make chores that little bit more bearable. I was sent a Oreck Magnesium RS - an upright cleaner which is in fact the lightest bagged vacuum in the UK. We've never had an upright version before, so I must admit we were a little dubious, especially my other half - he was extremely cynical about our new appliance, UNTIL he tried it.... 

We were both hugely impressed with it, the suction was fantastic, and it pretty much does the work for you. It seems to propel itself across the floor, making it really easy to use. It goes almost horizontal for going under furniture and you can easily switch between high and low power on the handle. I nearly got the hubby to write this blog post as he was loving it that much! He was even telling family about it during a meal out! (yes, we are thrilling company with our vacuum cleaner chat!) 

So are there any negative points? Well - kind of - yes. It's not great for stairs and without a detachable hose you can't really get in corners and along skirting boards so well. But otherwise, it does a great job across carpet and hard floors, which we currently have both of (FYI - those dark maroon carpets WILL be going soon! Not my choice obvs!). It's lightweight and can be stored easily, you can even hang it if you wish.

I must admit, I had not heard or Oreck before, but I can now safely say I can see why the 1960s hotel staff they was originally designed for were so enamoured by these cleaners! It must have made their jobs so much easier, I'm certainly whizzing around our house with it! (or at least the hubby is!) ;) 

You can check out all the specifications and reviews for the Oreck Magnesium RS here. Thank you to Oreck for gifting me this item, all opinions and images are my own. 

 

places to stay - Ford House, norfolk

We've had a pretty hectic 2016, mainly with the house move, and the stress that surrounded that, but also both holding down numerous work commitments as well as running after a two year old! So we didn't really have time to even think about a holiday let alone take one! We did have a lovely few days in Scotland for a family wedding in August - childfree - which was lots of fun, but we were keen to have a few nights away with Ruby too, as it's really important to me for her to experience other places too. So last week we took a few days away in Norfolk for a quick recharge of the batteries before Christmas is in full swing! 

Before we were parents, if we went away anywhere, the quality of the accommodation was never really top of our priorities, mainly because we'd usually be out and about all day, and then out for dinner in the evenings, so it was just a base to sleep. But now, I've found, particularly while Ruby is so young, that where we stay is as much a part of the trip as anything else. She's in bed for 7pm every night, which obviously means we are in too, so having a lovely place to relax once she's in bed feels so important. And to be honest, it was when I saw Ford House on Instagram that I decided we should take a few days away! I wanted to stay in the house so bad!  

Being greeted with this cosy scene after a long drive from Surrey instantly made me relax and feel at home. The house is two cottages knocked together, so while it has a country cottage feel, it has lots of space and has all the mod cons.

It's those thoughtful little touches that make a stay in a holiday cottage extra special, and as well as a hamper full of goodies for the adults, Amanda the owner, had left little Christmas gifts for the kids which was so sweet! Here is Ruby opening hers on the sheepskin rug in front of the Aga! What an idyllic scene eh?! :) (I also came home from here with the urge to put sheepskin rugs EVERYWHERE!) 

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Amanda has clearly put SO much love and attention to detail into creating the interior - there are so many lovely vintage finds dotted around, and little vases of flowers decorated every room - I certainly came home with lots of inspiration! I literally could've just stayed indoors for the entire weekend, but we did venture out occasionally! We took a walk on Wells-next-the-sea beach, which was stunning, had lunch and a wander in Burnham Market and made the trip to Stiffkey Stores, although I realised later that I'd completely missed the barn section! Gutted!

I honestly cannot recommend Ford House enough. Do pop over to their Instagram as they have a lovely feed! We will come back soon Norfolk! x

My Evolving Style and Harley & Lola

We are slowly beavering away at our new house, despite a bit of a setback when a drunk driver knocked my hubby of his bike a few weeks back. Luckily he is fine, but the injuries he did receive means he's not been able to do much manual work of late! But my dad has stepped in to help with a lot of decorating and sorting out the garden, so we're getting there slowly but surely. 

I'll admit that my focus has been on the sourcing side of things, which of course I love! A few years back my sourcing techniques would have mainly consisted of early mornings at flea markets and car boots and browsing eBay for bargains. While I still have a love of vintage and a good bargain, I feel a little like my style have evolved greatly of late, and I have found myself quite taken by the Scandi trend and mid-century look, particularly when it comes to furniture. Some of this evolution may be down to laziness and finding that getting things delivered to my door is much easier that rising at dawn to hit the markets! But whatever the reason, I'm spending lots of time online researching furniture, discovering new brands and building wishlists! 

Wycombe bed - £970

Wycombe bed - £970

One brand I've discovered is Harley & Lola, whose furniture and homeware is sourced ethically and they are committed to using recycled packaging wherever possible. I find that when I am not buying vintage - which feels like a form of recycling - that it is a bonus if a company selling 'new' products is willing to put the extra work into how and where they source their ranges from. 

Wycombe mirror - £367

They have a nice mix of styles, from the Wycombe range which is quite Scandinavian, to the Marlow range, which has a bit more of country farmhouse feel to contemporary style pieces in their Kielder collection. 

Kielder bench - £322

It's funny, I almost feel guilty for the evolution of my style, and what I am drawn to. I feel like I am 'cheating' on my vintage roots (!) or that I am being too easily influenced by current trends (which I previously always thought I avoided) But I've decided it's best to just go with it, and buy what I like, after all, tastes tend to change as you get older, and I think we are influenced by trends whether we like it or not! I know I certainly wouldn't dress in the same clothes I wore in my late teens, so my interiors preferences are bound to be different too! 

Anyway, I'm excited to see how our new house progresses and how different/similar it might end up to our last place. I hope you will follow along too! 

Do check out Harley & Lola for more of the above too. 

*This post was written in collaboration with Harley & Lola, but all views, thoughts and choices are my own.*

Sourcing: The Armchair edit

As we speak our living room ceiling is being plastered, then we will need to do a bit more painting and hopefully then the new floor can be laid. THEN it's time for shopping! As you can imagine this is my fave part, so I *may* have already started that bit, or at least browsing! Our plan is to have one sofa and two armchairs, so I've been scouring the web for both recently, and have bookmarked a fair few potential armchair options. I thought I'd share the shortlist with you, I'd love to hear your thoughts, it might just help me make a decision! ;) 

West Elm

Mid-century upholstered chair, West Elm, £699 (currently £559)

Swoon Editions
Merano Armchair, Blossom, Swoon Editions, £469

Vintage 1950's armchair, notonthehighstreet.com, £995

1958 Armchair, Oliver Bonas, £585

Ruby Armchair - Dark Grey, Cult Furniture, £249

Vintage Ercol 2-seater sofa, Lovely and Co, £599

Niels Wing Chair - Oatmeal, West Elm, £599 (currently £479)

Grey woven tub chair, Cox and Cox, £375

Vintage Ercol armchair, Winters Moon, £445

Gracie armchair, Made.com, £499

Vintage 1950's cocktail chair, notonthehighstreet.com, £625

Low rattan chair, Cox and Cox, £200

Grey Scandi Retro chair, Florrie and Bill, £675

Mimi armchair, Swoon Editions, £399

Bamboo chair, notonthehighstreet.com, £365

Aarhus Mid Century Armchair, Rose and Grey, £695

Restored G-Plan chair, Mustard Vintage, £595

Christmas gift wrapping tips

It's funny, each year, my interest and excitement about Christmas seems to vary. I'm not sure whether that depends on how busy I am in the run up to it, affecting the time I have to think about it, or whether it's what's happening in my life that year, but this year I'm already feeling really festive! It may be because this is the first year where Ruby seems aware of the whole Santa thing, so her excitement is building, even though she doesn't *really* understand it just yet. (all she knows is that she wants him to bring her a kitchen! Don't we all!)

My festive spirit was further fuelled recently when Marks and Spencer invited me along to a Christmas wrapping event, where a group of bloggers got together to help M&S wrap gifts for children (and their parents) who will be spending Christmas in Great Ormond Street hospital. I was particularly moved by the words of the GOSH representative who explained what it is like for kids there over Christmas, so it felt really lovely to be able to help out in this small way. 

With all those creative bloggers in one room, there were lots of great wrapping ideas and tips being passed around, particularly when it comes to wrapping up slightly awkward shaped items. So I wanted to share one easy way to parcel up an awkward gift as well as a few of my favourite gift wrapping tips and ideas. Above is the gift item from M&S which I choose to wrap up. 

I'm still obsessing over metallics at the moment, so this paper, plus some ribbons and bows from M&S were perfect. Below is a little tutorial for making a gift bag from wrapping paper... 

1. Cut a piece of paper large enough to wrap your item with a little bit to spare. Fold the two sides in to the middle, with one side overlapping the other.

TOP TIP:  use double sided tape when wrapping, so there is no unsightly sellotape on your seams. 

2. Fold up the bottom edge of your paper as above, this will be the base of your gift bag. 

3. Open it out and fold the sides inwards like in the above image. 

4. Then simply fold in the top and bottom flaps, overlapping slightly, and tape in place. You can also add some double sided tape underneath the folds for added support. 

5. Stand your bag up and push out the base so it becomes a little bag. You can now place your gift inside.

TOP TIP:  Wrap awkward shaped items in a layer of bubble wrap first to even out the shape. 

6. To close the bag, simply fold over the top. I tend to firstly make a small fold of about 1cm to make a nice clean edge, and then fold again with a deeper fold to finish. Again use double sided tape to seal along this edge. 

Now it's time to get creative and decorate your bag! I made two holes through the fold at the top to feed through some ribbon, then you can attach other decorative items to this. Here I've added one of M&S's amazing LED letter baubles. It's a nice touch to add an actual Christmas decoration onto a parcel as an extra little gift. Another nice idea is to add seasonal foliage like eucalyptus, a fir tree sprig or a small branch of berries - although it's generally best to add these just before delivering the gifts so that they look fresh.  

I must say, I am very much looking forward to an evening of wrapping gifts by the fire this year! It's nice to set aside some time, pour yourself some mulled wine, and to do it properly, rather than rushing it at the last minute. And of course it's a perfect opportunity to get a little bit creative! If you'd like some more gift wrapping ideas check out M&S's guide. Happy wrapping folks! x

*This post was written in collaboration with Marks and Spencer, but all ideas, choices and opinions are my own.*

Quick bedroom makeover

Since we moved into our new house about 5 weeks ago, we've been very busy, but it feels like we've been jumping from job to job - there's just so much to do, and we keep spotting or discovering things that need our attention, so it's hard to stay focused on one thing. But I really felt like I wanted to get at least one room 'done', so the smallest bedroom seemed like the place to start. Of course I forgot to take a proper 'before' shot - it originally had some carpet tiles (!) on the floor that were filthy, but thankfully very easy to get rid of, so this is what it looked like after these were removed.... 

Firstly my dad painted the walls and floor in white so this freshened up the space instantly. The bed on the left was actually left by the previous owners, and fits perfectly along that wall, so for now we've decided to keep it there until we find something else. So in the meantime, I decided to give it a lick of paint. I must admit, I am a bit of a lazy decorator. I wish I could click my fingers and everything was painted! So that is why Annie Sloan's chalk paint was so appealing. I didn't want to spend too long on this room, so the fact there is no need for prep before using Annie's paints got the thumbs up from me. 

I selected four paints from the Annie Sloan range - Paris Grey, Old WhiteScandinavian Pink and Antoinette. I painted the bottom panel Paris Grey, the top panel Old White and then for the drawers I did a little bit of mixing. The left drawer was Old White with a little bit of Antoinette mixed in, the middle drawer is Antoinette on it's own, and then the right drawer I added a little Scandinavian Pink in with the Antoinette. All finished off with a little bit of Clear Wax

I plan to make some new cushion covers and change the bedding as it was a quick fix as we had someone coming to stay, but the little rug is a new addition from Oliver Bonas. I didn't want the room to look overly pastel-y, so added this darker rug to contrast with the paler colours. 

It's such a teeny tiny room, that there isn't much space for furniture, but obviously we wanted something for our guests to put their clothes, so this gorgeous clothes rail from Cox and Cox was the perfect option. it's made from bamboo, which is a sustainable wood, and also looks beautiful. It literally took minutes to construct and I'm loving the simple design. I am tempted to steal it out of here for my own room! 

plant pots from Howkapow

plant pots from Howkapow

prints by Audrey Jeanne

prints by Audrey Jeanne

There's still a few bits and bobs to be added to this room - a bedside table and lamp, a window covering and maybe some shelves, but for now am happy that at least one room in the house feels like us rather than the previous owners! I'd love to hear what you think! 

*Thanks to Annie Sloan and Cox and Cox for helping me out with this makeover.*