Bringing Spring In

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There’s something so glorious about those first days of Spring. There’s nothing like feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin after a long, dark winter, or the promise of daffodils and snowdrops poking their heads out of the green grass. As soon as I see their cheery faces bobbing along at the side of the road my spirit immediately lifts: it’s pure balm for my soul.

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I’ve made some changes for Spring in our house ­‐ after the little bedroom makeover I did a few weeks ago week I took to brightening up our living space. I bought a couple of new cushions in some bright colours and switched out our floral storage boxes for fresh white ones. I appear to be completely addicted to rugs and have added a new one in green, pink and yellow. One pre‐requisite for all my floor coverings is that they must be machine washable: they all get chucked in the wash every few weeks to get rid of pen, chocolate and the remains of chewed up raisins. I love IKEA for these cheerful options that will see us through the mucky weaning years!

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This effect that Spring has on me is one of the reasons I always like to bring colour and life into my house. Colours and new moods make me stop, think, and take a look out the window at new life and a new season in my garden and surroundings. It makes me think about the beauty there is to be found in my home, in our little corner of the world. Soppy much?

I display loads of different things ­‐ fairy lights and tealights -­‐ in Mason jars but I’m starting to keep an eye out at charity shops and vintage stores for different pots and containers which is how one of my favourite bloggers, Little Green Notebook, likes to make a display with. She posted about spring in NY over here, total Wanderlust.

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I’m also a big fan of the traditional Spring clean to kick start the new season. I swear by taking a black bin bag when you’re in a ruthless mood and wandering the house chucking anything that is broken, no longer useful or hasn’t been used in six months. I then take a basket and place in it any objects that don’t belong in the room they’ve found themselves in and return them to their rightful place: hey, presto! You will immediately feel lighter, less cluttered and more organized. I really believe ‘tidy house, tidy mind’.

Have a gander at my friends over at Glade: they’re shaking things up with their new Spring collection. How do you like to kick out the gloom and the grey?

Glade Partnership Badge

 

 

Thank you to Glade for partnering with More Than Toast this spring :)

Manning Up In The Bedroom

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It’s still weird for me to consider that before I moved to this house I’d never lived on my own. There was my room at my University halls of residence but that doesn’t count because when your single mattress is covered in a thin layer of plastic and your carpet smells like horses… it doesn’t make one feel particularly house proud, that’s for sure. Every other place I’ve lived in was shared with a man, meaning I had to take things like their opinions into account when I was decorating. Ugh. Such a drag. IMG_1437

So when I first became single I was like a woman possessed, interiors-wise. I wanted ALL THE PINK, ALL THE FLORAL STUFF, ALL THE FAIRY LIGHTS. I wanted anyone visiting the house to know, hey, no boys live here (apart from Hux, who spends most of his time these days asking for hair clips to be put in his hair). My house, it kind of looked like a fairy princess had visited and vomited all her girlyness all over it.

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We’ve lived in my new place for nearly six months (holy hell how did that happen?) and as the days went on I found myself getting more and more antsy at the amount of pink stuff that was in my house. Yes, I liked the fact that I’d been showing that side of my personality through the medium of interior design but really? It just didn’t feel like me. Let’s be honest, a woman who uses the word ‘vomit’ as much as I do in her everyday lexicon (see paragraph above) probably should not have flowers plastered all over her bedroom. Plus it might be nice to have a man around here at some point in the future and I don’t want them or Hux feeling like this is a boy-free twinkly flower-filled zone.

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And so I’ve spent the last couple of weeks making subtle tweaks to the house. Starting with the bedroom! I’ve got rid of the overly feminine rose-print sheets; I wanted to take things back to basics and get some plain white bedlinen. This set was the dream – the black piping is so chic – but £100 for sheets right now? Not gonna happen. So I went for a happy medium, IKEA bed linen from the slightly pricier range, and I love them. It’s amazing how much calmer I find the bedroom now I’ve switched the sheets out.

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I also added a black and white blanket (IKEA once again) to the foot of the bed to toughen it up a bit; there’s no way I’m parting with my bedknobs and broomsticks-esque bed no matter how girly it is.

I wanted the decor to remain plain with some colour pops so I added in these Horses Kissing pillowcases from Urban Outfitters which I adore (and were in the sale!): they’re the only horsey thing in this house though, lets be clear… no whiffy carpets.

I brought my shelves upstairs from the laundry cupboard: these are used to store paperwork, magazines and shoes. The stool was moved from the other side of the bed (Freecycle bargain) and my awesome orange lamp switched with my white one to bring yet more colour to the room. My old bedside table is now carrying out the completely useless purpose of holding all my perfumes, a candle and an orchid. What? I might not want to be super girly any more but I’m still human.

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The only thing I’m not sure about are the curtains. I’m considering switching them out for a blind so they’re not so, you know, lacy…but I kind of enjoy the light these curtains let in. I still dream about the windows in the house I grew up in – if you’ve ever gone to sleep with the sound of rain on a VELUX® window you’ll know what I mean – it’s what white noise is to a grumbling newborn. Blissful, and with none of the worries that come with deciding which curtains look best. Remote control blinds are where it’s at: you heard it here first.

IMG_1469I love my bedroom now. Love love love it. It’s just the right size for me and all my bits, the walk-in wardrobe still thrills me each and every day and barring the few times I am hungover I wake up happy every single day here. It’s a sanctuary, a calming place for me to come to drink chamomile tea and watch three episodes of Desperate Housewives. Because what more do you want out of life?

QUESTION TIME: the pictures in this post are making me think I should iron my pillowcases. The one time I ironed my pillowcases I got neck ache because I was worried about sleeping on them too hard and creasing them up. Is pillowcase ironing A Thing I should be getting on board with? 

Thank-you to VELUX for partnering with More Than Toast and making my needless interior upgrades possible :) 

 

 

The New Lounge: Feeding My Cushion Obsession

Cushions on my sofaThe lounge. I think it might be my favourite room in the new house. Which I realise is something I’ve said about every single room of this house but when it comes to my home I’m obviously not monogamous. I’m a free house-loving machine!

The living space here is actually an L-shape which goes through to the kitchen; it hasn’t always been this way but when I was waiting to move in we decided that knocking the kitchen wall down would make the space a lot lighter and happier. It’s not ideal – I can’t cook dinner listening to Taylor Swift while the kids watch the magic hour of Peppa Pig without going a bit crazy with all the noise – but I love that I can be in the kitchen and simultaneously keep an eye on the destruction, erm I mean ‘imaginative play’ in the lounge.

Heart-shaped Ivy Blue lamp

Something I’ve always been convinced about when it comes to interiors is that the grown-ups can relax a lot easier if they don’t feel like they live in a house stuffed with toys. I know that come 7.30pm when everyone is finally asleep, all I want to do is sit on a sofa in front of a Real Housewives marathon and not be staring into the eyes of Tigger. Which is why I say: BOXES.  At the end of each day everything that has made its way out onto the floor of the lounge gets put back in a box and forgotten about until the next day when it’s jigsaw/Duplo/tractor/shopkeeper time again.

Rack of Vice magazines

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My ‘stuff’ is really important and I  love having it around. I have every single issue of Vice Magazine that I worked on, the artwork I made featuring the kids’ names, my bitchface poster made by Kris and food art by Katie (internet friends RULE). There’s the heart shaped ivy bought as a house-warming gift by my auntie, the lamps I made over with some spray paint last summer and my beloved scented candles.

And of course there are my all-important cushions. Seriously, in my opinion a good (or bad) cushion can make or break a room and I’m delighted with my current combination. Just see how different the sofa looks in my old house with different cushions!  The large ones are IKEA, the star cushion is Urban Outfitters and my geometric patterned cushion is B&Q.

But my favourite of all the cushions is this guy who was sent to me courtesy of Iwantoneofthose.com – he’s awesome and cute and we have (i.e. Elfie has) named him Kevin. Kevin the Kool Panda Bear. Or something.

My sofa is an IKEA Karlstad and is amazing because even though the label says you can’t machine wash the cushions, you can. Very handy with a 1 and a 3 year old, but moreso because I have a dad who has a tendency to spill curry.

My blanket is Laura Ashley and we’re still loving it for cuddling up under during these cold winter days. Yay, warmth!

Lounge artwork

Famille summerbelle mapThis is where I like to sit of an evening with a big glass of red and a magazine. Until I slump so far down with tiredness that I have to send myself to bed, that is. Everyone seems to have one of these IKEA chairs but that is because they’re bloody comfy and can fit you plus three children on. It’s the tardis of chairs! My lovely world map print is Famille Summerbelle and all my storage boxes are IKEA (where else?).

Flower on my table The new lounge This room makes me feel happy. It’s not huge – just the right size for my little family – but it’s a room full of cuddles and love, flowers and fairy lights. I still can’t get enough of the Urban Outfitters rug (which I personally believe sparked the idea for Bryony’s new blog design ;)  and every time I look at our dining area table that I Annie Sloane’d I feel a dash of pride. Our little family of three might not always be perfect but I built our home from the ground up (metaphorically, I didn’t actually build the house…) and we muddle along in our own happy way. I love this home and the people in it very very much.

My Current Favourite Beds

Ever since I bought my new bed a couple of months ago I’ve been obsessed. I can’t get enough of beds. Beds beds beds! Blame the lack of sleep for my obsession maybe, but I just love them. Instead of spending my evenings perusing properties on Rightmove (my previous favourite guilty pleasure) I now spend them researching my next bed. King size, metal, divan… I love them all. I’m even taking my bed research that one step further and have been working hard researching quality sleep. Oh yes, I’m serious about this.

But as that’s probably a distant dream for me at the moment (excuse the pun…) here’s what I have in mind for when I finally get some snooze again.

 

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I can’t get enough of padded headboards and the divan beds that come with them. Beds with storage are useful as well as easy on the eye, and I’ve been looking to Carpetright for their range of divans (yes, they do beds too!). How divine is this beautiful velvet grey headboard with divan bed? WANT! It comes in at £519.20

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 16.33.00I really  love metal bedsteads and this one is no exception. There’s something about the metal of a lovely bedstead that makes me want to twirl fairy lights round them, light candles, wear silky PJs and fall into a deep princess-y sleep. You just know that Kate Middleton has one of these bad boys, right? This one in particular (which may or may not belong to everyone’s favourite princess) is finished with real crystals and is from Bedstore (£315.95).

 

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I don’t know if it’s the Father Christmas connotations but there’s something extremely luxurious about sleigh beds. They bring to mind open fireplaces, Scottish Castles, fur throws and cosy cosy nights. Or is that just me? I love this intricately carved model which is apparently a faithful copy of a beadstead at Brodsworth Hall in South Yorkshire. It comes in emperor bed sizes which I had never heard of

The magnificent Brodsworth sleigh bed is a faithful copy of a bedstead at Brodsworth Hall in South Yorkshire. Inspired by a Louis Philippe lit bateau, the design has been given an English twist by featuring grand, carved lion’s feet. Made from fine-polished Sienna veneer with a solid timber frame, it is available up to Large Emperor bed size, which I’ve never heard of but I assume is MASSIVE (a quick Google of this fact says 215cm wide, so yep!) . This bed in emperor size is an eye-watering £11,750 at And So To Bed… I’ll get saving now.

I Moved House and It Was Hard

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I may have mentioned that I’ve just moved house once, twice or maybe twelve times? That’s because this house move has been one of the longest, most drawn-out processes ever. In the time from when I decided to move into my new house and the actual move approximately four and a half months elapsed, so for four and a half months my home was a haven for boxes, brown tape and bubble wrap and my mind was full of plans that were on hold until our address changed. I’m one of those glass half-full people who is constantly moving forward and needing to know what plans are afoot in life so to be in the limbo of a long house move? It was torturous.

I’m going to take you through the new house room by room soon, not just because I love the self indulgence of LOOK AT HOW PRETTY MY NEW HOME IS, but because I’ve managed to furnish and decorate the new place with old pieces of furniture I owned as well as freecycled and ebayed masterpieces. I’ve spent about 80 quid at the hallowed alter of IKEA and I’m pretty proud of myself for putting thought and effort into my interior rather than just throwing money at it. The process of thinking about how I want each room to feel has been a long and fun one, and dare I say it, I’ve enjoyed the trips to B&Q for spray paint, researching Annie Sloan colours, looking out for eBay and Etsy bargains.

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When I thought about the way I wanted our new home to look, I just wanted it to scream “girls live here!” (sorry Hux, you’re an honourary girl). I wanted to go wild with patterns and colours that I have never been permitted to use before: florals, patchwork, all that fun stuff. I wanted lots of softness so it felt warm and homely for the kids, but enough grown-up touches so that I didn’t feel like I was living in a playroom.

Interiors-wise I’m pretty clueless. I admire Cherry Menlove‘s all-white country cottage aesthetic but worry it would be too high-maintenance for me, and love anything Jenny Komenda does but lack the artistic vision to pull it off. I know I like certains colours, random gold-framed pictures, patterns and cushions as well as motivational artwork (hooo yeahh) and trinkets. I like to feel warm, I like vintage-looking items, I like items in my home that really mean something to me. I enjoy the light given off by lamps rather than ceiling lights, I like muted colours and I like photos of my family. I wanted to throw all these elements together to create a place we would all feel relaxed in.

We all seem happier in this house. I am no longer carrying the weight of living in a house that doesn’t really feel like home, that I couldn’t afford and that was really too big for the three of us. I no longer stress because there’s a beige carpet in the dining room and my Baby-Led Weaning toddler consistently drops his dinner on it. There are no faux-beams in this place to make me feel oppressed (the 90s house builders have a lot to answer for… ugh) or old-fashioned burgundy carpets, and I now have an actual radiator in my bathroom (delightful!).

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The kids both seem happier, too. Elfie no longer drags her heels on the way into pre-school and adores the fact that she shares a room with her brother. She may wake him a little earlier than I like but they are both so happy to play together in the mornings so I don’t mind. She’s only once in the last week tried to get in bed with me for cuddles and reassurance in the middle of the night, compared with every single night without fail at the old house. More sleep means happier faces all-round and that is something I can definitely get on board with.

The move itself is something I hope never to have to tackle again alone: you never really know how many belongings you possess until it comes to transporting them seven miles down the road, am I right? I was convinced I’d fill only two vans but nope, we did four, plus countless car loads in the weeks leading up to moving day. The local charity shops have done very well out of my wardrobe purge, and though the thought of getting rid of all the kids’ ‘noisy toys’ did cross my mind I feel very proud that I kept hold of them all. I didn’t sleep for 48 hours and unpacked instead, which was important to me because I wanted the kids to feel settled as quickly as possible. My dad taught me how to hammer nails into the wall without taking out huge chunks of plaster so I hung all my own pictures (and my own gold stags head, of course), so 8 days into the new house and it feels like we’ve been here for a lot longer.

Every night I go to bed and feel proud that I’ve tackled one of the most stressful situations we go through in life: alone and with two children in tow. I kind of feel like Wonderwoman but with smaller pants and without the banging body.

 

 

Gardening For Beginners

IMG_9372This weekend the sun came out! So our family, along with (probably) every single other family in the country, put our summer clothes on, dragged the patio furniture out of retirement and made Pimms. We stopped short of a Barbecue – only just – but did the other sunny Sunday activity beloved of people with outside space and kids. Gardening.

I’ve literally never done any sort of gardening in my whole life. I’ve scoffed at people who enjoy gardening because, really, why would you enjoy it? But the thing is, ever since we moved to our new house I GET IT. I really get it. I had a lovely day digging over soil, pulling weeds, thinking about herbs, planting flowers. It was ace.

It helps that Elfie’s in her element outdoors. She’s always begging to go in the garden, loves to play hide-and-seek, kick a ball around, wear her wellies. She delights in the fresh air, goodness knows who she gets this from but it ain’t me.IMG_9382 IMG_9381 IMG_9378

She spent a while moving stones for me and getting mega excited at the sight of worms and ladybirds (“I LOVE WORMS MUMMY!!!”) before getting all industrious and taking her doll for a walk around the perimeter.

IMG_9400 IMG_9399 IMG_9398I got to work (I have a gardening blister!!) on the beds and then I concentrated on the weeds, flowers and herbs.

This was the garden when we started.

IMG_9388 IMG_9387 IMG_9389 IMG_9390Now look! Transformed into a delightful patch of loveliness!

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IMG_9406OK, OK, so it doesn’t look hugely different, but I’m sure it will when things start to blossom and bloom. I planted up some bulbs from some house flowers as well as some Sweet Williams and those blue ones you can see.  I also planted Thyme, Coriander and Rosemary in the sunnier part of the large bed with Mint and Sage arriving to join them later this week. It was brilliant!

I don’t know why I had such a great time in the garden. Maybe it was a combination of the peacefulness, being able to concentrate on such a physical task with a beginning and an end? My lovely helper definitely contributed of the enjoyment of it, that’s for sure. I can’t wait to get my hands blistered and dirty again.

And as for Hux? Well, he enjoyed some of the gardening. He spent the first two hours asleep and the last hour eating grass. A success for sure.

slugAs I’m a total novice at this – I have been Googling “How do you do Gardening?” – I’d love any recommendations for blogs or resources I can use with my garden this summer.