The Conservatory Plan

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I’ve been thinking a lot about space in our house recently. Our home is not palatial – we love it very much – but sometimes I have to admit we do get on top of each other a little bit. The thing with children (those lovely little rascals) is that they grow all the time – mine are sprouting up like weeds and it seems that the more they grow the more things they require. Toys, school books, clothes, Kinder eggs… their belongings just seem to multiply as they grow taller.

The other thing about children is that they are very loud. I know it’s not just mine, and in fact I know that some are even louder, but sometimes when I’ve had a long day at work and am ever so slightly fraught I do wonder how nice it would be to have a little bit of quiet. But there’s just no space for it in our sweet little two bedroomed house.

That’s open plan living for you, I suppose. For me to feel like I’m on top of the situation in my home toys have to be neatly put away, plates immediately stacked in the dishwasher and all belongings where they should be – neat and tidy. Because you can’t just shut all the children’s things in a room – they have to be put away immediately otherwise the living space looks like a bomb site. It’s a hard slog, but it’s how our home is set up at the moment.

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I’ve looked at our extension options. Our garden is huge and could well afford a few metres borrowed off it for the sake of a bigger lounge and another bedroom. But a glazed extension is expensive, and do I really need that extra bedroom to clean?

One option I’ve been thinking about is a new conservatory. I can praise conservatories til the cows come home; I had one in my old rental property and it was just wonderful. It felt like you were in the garden (without actually being outside obviously) and was such a relaxing space to take a book and a cup of tea (oh OK then, glass of wine) to unwind at the end of the day. It was toasty warm when the sun streamed through in winter and was somewhere bright and beautiful the kids could play with their toys.

Plus – most importantly – there were doors! So if the noise of the children ever got too much for me I could happily squirrel myself a way for a calm 10 minutes, looking out over the garden until there was peace once more.

I’m all for conservatories – such a great way to add square footage to your home without breaking the bank. What do you think?

What It Took To Become A Gardener


I’ve tried my hand at gardening a good few times since moving to a house with a garden, ooh, 8 years ago. And it’s time for me to hold up my hands and say: it’s just not working for me right now.

It’s not that I don’t like the expanse of green that sits outside my back door – on the contrary I love it. My current garden is absolutely huge, the previous owners having bought up a patch of two other gardens to make it bigger. I almost need to have six more children to fill it up (hahahah funny one). The children love playing out there, I love BBQing on the patio, there’s nothing like hanging my clothes out to dry. But I just hate gardening.

The problem is that I don’t know the difference between weeds and plants, blackberries and poison. Mowing the lawn makes my hayfever flare up for hours afterwards and my big green wheelie bin never seems to be big enough for the things I need to get in it.

I tried planting flowers once, too, but that didn’t exactly work out I forgot which were supposed to go in at the different times of year and didn’t see anything happen for ages… and then we moved anyway. So that was a pointless exercise.

So this summer I have come up with a solution: MY MUM, and one of Tesco’s mowers!

She’s a brilliant gardener but more than that she seems to love it. She’s been out there hacking through the meadow-height grass with my new mower, going crazy with the weedkiller and planting up a storm (she got some bulbs from Spalding Bulb that are low-maintenance, even for me. Elfie planted them up!). She even seems to manage the green bin (AMAZING) and has suggested a brilliant idea for a patio extension – such things being important when you have two little ones with little scooters.

All it took for me to love gardening was for someone else to come and do it for me. Thanks, mum – you’re the best gardener ever.

The Evolution Of A Living Space

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One thing I’ve noticed in my rather limited experience of visiting men’s houses, is that they take an overall much more minimal approach to decorating than women do (or at least my friends and I!). Looking around now my home is stuffed full of interiors ‘stuff': magazines, flowers, lamps, cushions, pictures…. some bloke’s houses look barely moved in to.

Some – not all, however. I’ve been in the house of one man that rivalled my own for how clean, tidy and shiny it was. There literally aren’t many things that impress me in life more than a man with a well-decorated, tidy and thoroughly DIY-ed home.

Simple things.

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Alvine Ruta rug – £150, IKEA

For me my house is an evolving beast. It changes with the seasons, according on my mood and current lifestyle. I’ve been working a lot lately so the focus has been on low-maintenance; stripping out as much of the clutter as possible and having somewhere cosy and clean to come home to at the end of the day. When the kids were younger I preferred brighter colours and more playful patterns. I love it – I could potter around tweaking my house for days.

What am I saying? I DO potter around tweaking my house for days.

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I’ve recently been going at the living room. My house has an L-shaped downstairs and just before I moved in the wall between the kitchen and dining space was knocked through to create an open-plan space. You walk into my hallway then into the lounge, which leads to the dining area and the kitchen, where my workspace is. Open plan-induced noise aside this works really well for us; I like being able to keep an eye on the kiddos while I’m cooking dinner or cleaning up and even though the space isn’t huge we don’t need a palace right now. All those toilets to clean… no thank-you.

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Stockholm cushion – £12 IKEA. Ludde sheepskin -£30 IKEA. Tray and side table… guess where? IKEA. 

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Because of this set-up I like to define the different areas; I have a rug for the lounge area, one for the dining spot and another that leads into the kitchen. I feel like this helps differentiate the different purposes these spaces give.

Recently I’ve had a bit of an overhaul of my accessories in the living space and kitchen (you can see how it looked previously here, and when we first moved in here). This might not SOUND like much (er, if you’re a bloke maybe) but I’m telling you, the difference is huge. Even fellow accessories lover Bryony noticed it when she came over last week.

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Blanket, IKEA. DIY’d eBay table. 

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Cecily floor lamp, £90 c/o BHS. 

Looking around there’s still loads more I want to do. I want to work out how to create a larger work space somewhere in the house (but would rather not have this in my bedroom) as it currently doubles as my booze storage area/countertop next to the fridge. The big iMac really only gets used for recipe research and music listening so maybe this even needs to go? (shock horror – not my old baby!)

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Fruit bowl, £15 Ben de Lisi at Debenhams

I also want to pare down my belongings a bit. Even looking at these pictures it’s quite surprising how ‘busy’ the room looks with my bits and pieces – do I need the random pictures I bought on eBay? Should I be keeping my teapot and butter dish in the cupboard? Is there really such a thing as too many cushions? How do I stop my house being over-run by toys?

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For me, a home is more than just a few rooms stuck together by cement; it’s a living, breathing and evolving environment. Can you feel yours changing as you do?

10 Tips for a Clutter Free Home


In extreme cases, a cluttered home can be a serious health hazard. According to the NHS, when there is excess clutter in a home it can become a fire risk, often resulting in dangerous trips and falls. On top of the physical implications that clutter can cause, it can also lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety which is why having a clutter free home will lighten your mood and free precious living space in your house.

  1. Purge your Clutter

In the first stages of de-cluttering your home, you will need a few rubbish bags to get rid of the things in your house that you definitely do not want to keep. You can do this one room at a time to make the process go quicker and watch on as your home becomes more spacious in a matter of minutes.

  1. Self-Storage

A quick and cost-effective solution to free up space instantly in your home is to make the most out of Alligator Storage. Having your own storage unit will allow you to use it as you please. You can store large or small items for as long as you like. This is especially a great option if you have things in your home that you have no room for but remain reluctant to completely part with.

  1. Donate your Things

Clothes, books, shoes, DVDs and even old toys can all be donated to charity shops to help others in need. You will be doing a good deed while also giving your home space to breathe.

  1. Use Pegboards

A great tip from Real Simple is to use pegboards on the inside of your closet door as a ‘mini dressing station’. Pegboards can be used to hang belts, scarves and other essentials in your bedroom.

  1. Organize your Home

Give everything in your home its own space and keep it there. This will help to keep you organized whilst maintaining a tidy home.

  1. Magnetic Strip Holders

Items that tend to produce a lot of clutter are often found in the garage or the bathroom. These can include hair clips, nails, screws, tweezers and scissors etc. A magnetic strip glued to the wall will give these slippery items a place to rest and will keep them off the floor.

  1. Use Drawer Dividers

Drawer dividers can be used in any room in the house. You can use it in the kitchen or in the bedroom to separate your socks from your underwear and your tights from your vest tops.

  1. Use Various Racks

Store your CD collection on a DVD/CD rack and your shoes on a shoe rack. Racks are a great way to display your possessions in a neat format and they can even be used to store towels and books.

  1. Bed Storage

If you have a lot of free space underneath your bed, use it to store your extra bed linens in plastic boxes. People often forget about the large space under the bed but it can actually offer some much needed additional storage space.

  1. Say No to Impulse Buys

The only way that your home will remain a clutter free zone is from restricting the amount of clutter than comes into the house. Stop making unnecessary purchases and resist the strong urge to make impulse purchases.

Why The Dream Bathroom Is Important

Bathrooms are my favourite. They really are! Think about it – when you get up in the morning and start your day you may not see your bedroom again until that evening, but you’re always using your bathroom. Especially if you’re like me and often working from home.  Bathrooms are important – if I see it six times a day I want it to be nice!

But they’re often the room to be overlooked. It’s always been a dream of mine to have a bathroom as shiny and lovely as a hotel bathroom (dream big, eh?) and I work hard to make mine as special as possible. Fancy loo roll, good storage, lovely handwash. It’s important to me!

My bathroom is a work-in-progress. I’m always discovering new bits and bobs for it, coming across an incredible tap polisher (really) or debating the colour of my bath mat. And with two splashy little so-and-so’s bathing in there every evening I seem to be cleaning it an awful lot, too!

Now, everybody’s dream bathroom seems to start with a freestanding bath and mine is no different (am I right, ladies? I’ll take the Kensington from JL Bathrooms, please). Here’s what else I’m thinking about for the bathroom of my dreams:


JL Freestanding bath / IKEA storage / pegs, towels and stool from John Lewis / woven basket from my friends at The Basket Room / biggest shower in the world / John Lewis country bathroom window.

What’s your dream bathroom?




4 Steps To A Hotel Bathroom

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There’s nothing I like more than a stay in a nice hotel. As I have what I think might be a medical aversion to clutter (seriously!) there’s something I love so much about the spotlessly clean hotel room with its items at right angles, its perfectly plumped cushions and spotless linens. Hotel rooms so appeal to the perfectionist in me (which is why I totally err towards a 5* ;) that ‘create a hotel bathroom at home’ is a serious point on my bucket list.

You really can’t beat taking a bath in beautiful surroundings. The bathroom I have right now is pretty lovely, and believe me I’ve seen some horrors on the dating scene – black mould, dirty toilets, mirrors covered in toothpaste… nightmares. If I was lying back in a relaxing bath in a bathroom I didn’t feel was clean I just know I’d be thinking about what germy delights (vom) lurked beneath the loo seat or in the grimy toothbrush mug. Not so relaxing after all.

So here’s what I’ve come up with – my starting points for creating a hotel bathroom at home. It might not change your life but it may well change your bathtime.

Lovely products

Good hotel bathrooms always come with gorgeous products, so this is always my first stop. Instead of supermarket soap and gels I like to use my premium favourites, which do last longer despite being slightly more expensive. Right now I am loving Cowshed for shampoo, conditioner and shower gel and Aesop for gorgeous hand soap and lotion. Definitely luxe.


Ease of cleaning

I clean my bathroom on average once a week, so it’s important to me that it is easy to clean. For my next bathroom I’m eyeing up these panels from DBS – I love the beige sparkle – and replacing my old tiles with these will make cleaning a dream. If you can’t quite bid farewell to your tiles then check out these oversized ones from DBS (above) – so dramatic.

Matching soft towels

Perhaps predictably I have a grey/light blue colour scheme going on in my bathroom. I have a large bath rug that lives on the floor unless it gets sopping wet (I find it brings a bit of softness to the room) and this year I splashed out on some beautiful grey Egyptian Cotton Towels from John Lewis.

Clever storage

You wont find boats, rubber ducks, baby shampoo or foam letters in many hotel bathrooms! To hide the child-based clutter away I use a sturdy Perspex box with handles that sits on a shelf at the end of the bath. The toys are kept in a lovely glass pot and my various face crèmes and balms are in a blue dish. This means we have zero clutter on our hotel-esque bathroom shelves.

What do you love about your bathroom? My friends over at DBS have some great tips on how to rejuvenate your bathroom. Give these a go and let me know how you get on!