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I’ve lived in a lot of houses in my life.

*pause while I count*

I think it’s 25? Maybe. Anyway, it’s quite a few. For me then, a home isn’t somewhere I’ve lived in all my life. It’s not somewhere I grew up, somewhere I can walk around and say ‘that’s where I tripped over the cat when I was seven and had to have stitches.’

It’s not something that’s special because it’s full of memories created over decades, so what is it? What’s that elusive thing that makes any house a home, regardless of how long you’ve been there?

It’s the people in it, of course, we’ll take that as a given, but what else? It’s the stuff I guess. The things you surround yourself with that maybe you have grown up with over decades, dragging them with you from one house to the next.

For me, it’s pictures and plants.

I can move anywhere, to any style of house, and it only feels like a home to me when I fill it with my plants and hang pictures on the walls. I have a lot of plants, and although some of them are just there to make the space look pretty, many of them have a lot of meaning, like Belle’s apple tree, which is now in the ground and quite a bit bigger than in this post.

I have one peace lily for example that I bought when Bee was very small as one of my first ever plants. It was tiny, like her, when I first brought it home from the supermarket, and now, over 20 years later, it fills a huge wicker plant pot in the corner of my bedroom.

I’ve loved watching my Swiss cheese plants thrive over the last few years, and my avocado plant, successfully grown from an avocado stone on about my eight attempt, reminds me not to give up on things, even if they don’t work out the first seven times.

Swiss cheese plant View Post

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I have to admit that after the whole car dashboard/satsuma incident, which resulted in my car refusing to turn left at a junction one day, despite my best efforts with the steering wheel, I was pretty nervous about owning my own house. It’s probably one of the main reasons why until buying our house three years ago, I’d always rented. You know where you are with renting – you avoid too much blutac and keep the lawn vaguely under control and in return you absolve yourself of all responsibility for anything relating to drains, electrics or plumbing. Easy.

Despite managing to navigate my way through a leaky roof last year, (by going and knocking on the door of a maintenance man around the corner whose van I’d seen parked outside his house), I haven’t yet got that confidence about me that means I’m happy casually calling up a plumber. For a start, how do you know if they’re a good one? And then how do you know if they’re giving you a good price and good advice if all you’ve ever had to do in the past is call your letting agent and then be on hand to let someone in and make them a cup of tea? How much do plumbers even cost?

Plumbers scare me is what I think I’m basically saying, which is a bit pathetic and I’m not proud of myself as a 42 year old woman, but there we go. The facts remain.

When rusty coloured water started appearing in a small puddle underneath my kitchen radiator at the end of last year then, my first instinct obviously was to reach for the fruit bowl and strategically place a satsuma. Unfortunately there wasn’t anywhere obvious to put a piece of fruit that would cover up the problem, so instead I chose just to wipe up the splotch every time I noticed it and pretend nothing was happening.

This worked for a time, until the more rusty water I wiped away the more I had to accept that I needed to do something more responsible. I started Googling ‘rusty radiator water leak’ and came up with all kinds of horrendous scenarios that involved pipes bursting spontaneously. I imagined myself innocently cooking dinner and listening to The Archers, only to find myself drenched in foul radiator water with bits of metal piping embedded in the walls.

I did what any sensible grown up would do – I turned the radiator off and condemned myself to cooking forever in a cold kitchen.

Plumb Doctor Live review

The offending radiator, looking so innocent…

Two months later and cue Plumb Doctor Live, enter stage left. View Post

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I’ve been immensely grateful for my garden over the last couple of months. I know that I’m incredibly lucky during this very weird time to have a private outside space that I can escape to, where I can enjoy the sunshine and just feel like I have a little bit of freedom.

Often when I go and sit outside a cat or three will come with me and sit nearby. Not too close mind, just close enough for them to know I’m there. It’s a lovely feeling just sitting there, listening to the sounds from other gardens and watching the plants emerging from their winter hibernation.

One of the things I love most about the garden is the colour. Even in the winter I like to see colour in the garden, and I’ve done this in mine in a few simple ways, like painting my pergola a lovely pink colour, and having lot of colourful plant pots. I’m a fan of colour inside the home already, and outdoors there’s really no reason to hold back is there?

To give us some ideas for ways to introduce colour into the garden I thought I’d start by putting together a Pinterest board. From that I’ve pulled out a few ideas that I think would be easy to recreate in any garden. Most of these are easy to do, but if you find yourself needing some help then don’t be afraid to look for it – taking out trees for example is something better tackled with the help of someone like https://www.thelocaltreeexperts.com/.

First up then, the inspiration…

 

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When I bought my house nearly three years ago, one of the first things I wanted to do was to buy some wallpaper. I think it was that having always lived in rented houses, I’d never had the opportunity to put up wallpaper before, and it felt like the kind of thing that would mark my territory.

My house was built in the early 1970s and I love 1970s style so I ended up buying three rolls of this wallpaper from a site aptly named ‘Wallpaper from the 70s’.

1970s wallpaper

I wish I could say that this is my house but I have to confess that nearly three years later, the three rolls are still in my understairs cupboard. I absolutely love the design, but I just can’t commit to where I want to put it. One day though, one day I’m going to be inspired and it’s going to be glorious.

It struck me actually, when I was shopping for wallpaper samples from bed the other morning, (remember I’m an interior designer now?), how drawn I am to really bold, bright designs. I scrolled quickly past all the delicate motifs in pale colours – the ones that stood out for me were dark or contrasting colours and elaborate patterns. In my mind, if you’re going to go to the effort to hang wallpaper, you might as well go for it hadn’t you? If you find yourself erring towards pale or delicate patterns then honestly, what’s the point? Just slap some paint on and stop worrying about it.

Given that we could all do with a bit of cheering up at the moment and in the hope of nudging myself closer to hanging my own rolls of turquoise and gold loveliness, I thought I’d have a browse on their website and pick out a few of my favourite happy blue wallpapers. Blue generally has a reputation for being a very calm and soothing colour, a bit boring maybe, but given the right shade and pattern I think it can bring a lot of happiness to a room. View Post

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I have a confession to make.

After ranting earlier in the month about Gwyneth Paltrow and her insistence that lockdown was the perfect time to learn a musical instrument or build a house out of buckwheat or whatever it is she was bleating on about, I’ve taken the time, between staring out of the window and reading Poirot books, to start a new career.

I know, I know, I’m sorry, I’m letting the side down, but I promise that for 87% of the time at least I’m being unproductive in the extreme. This week for example my main achievement has been to take all of my books of their various shelves throughout the house to ‘sort them out’, at which point I lost interest, leaving piles of floor books everywhere.

It turns out though that I work best under some kind of financial pressure, as I proved back in 2009 when I panic-started my blog. In that spirit, with blog projects distinctly thin on the ground and my (previous) income disqualifying me from any government help for freelancers, I decided to blow part of my savings on the first year of an interior design degree.

What can go wrong?

Interior design ideas

Just a matter of time now before every side table in my house looks like this.

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The last couple of weeks have been really bloody weird, and they’re only set to get weirder both societally and in my head. Today for instance, I thought about cleaning out the U-bend under my kitchen sink, as it’s been smelly for weeks, (and by weeks I mean years), but then I decided I was going to save it as a treat, so I didn’t use all the activities up all at once.

A treat! Honestly, I worry about myself sometimes.

I am doing other things to keep myself busy at home though, things that actually feel relaxing, like catching up on reading and getting through my backlog of interiors magazines. I do find interiors a really lovely escapism, so when FURCO got in touch this week to see if I fancied writing a piece about modern interiors, I thought it might be a nice distraction. FURCO is an online furniture superstore that’s a one stop shop for everything for the home – beds, sofas, dining, the lot. Have a browse of their full collection at https://www.furco.co.uk/.

For anyone else who fancies escaping from the world for a bit via the medium of coral pink velvet sofas, I thought I’d share some of my interiors related Pinterest boards. In fact ‘organise Pinterest boards’ should probably go on my list of activity ideas, for once I’ve indulged myself in the joy that is the U-bend.

Living coral interiors

Okay, so living coral was the Pantone colour of the year last year, but it’s one of my favourites and I think it’s so beautiful in a home, either on the walls or in the soft furnishings. You’ll notice this board features more than one coral pink squishy velvet sofa. The DREAM sofa.

Vibrant living rooms

My house surprises me sometimes. My walls are all fairly neutral and I’ve done very little painting since I moved in – just the chimney breast in the living room and one wall of my bedroom, which I painted a dark teal. It surprises me because whenever I cut things out of magazines that I like, or make Pinterest boards for living spaces, they are always about colour and patterns and textures. Oh and lots of velvet sofas. I honestly don’t know why I’ve never just bought a velvet sofa.

Conservatory goals

Before coronavirus, back when I had a decent regular income and could picture the future, I thought a lot about a conservatory. My neighbour has one on the back of their house and I’m kind of envious about all the extra space it gives them. I would love to have a room with doors that opened out onto the garden and space to properly go to town on my plant obsession, and that’s what this Pinterest board is all about.

If you could design your dream interior, or pick that one piece of furniture you’ve also wanted in your home, what would it look like? Leave a comment and let me know!

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Sleep is incredibly important to me. I’m like a toddler – if I don’t get the sleep I need I just don’t function properly the next day. Lack of sleep makes me grumpy, I feel tired and my brain just doesn’t work as well. After 9pm my knees start to get twitchy and I’m really only staying up at this point because 9pm feels like too early a bedtime for a grown-up. Sometimes I sleep well, sometimes I thrash about having wild dreams, overheating or getting too cold. How to sleep better is a question never far from my mind.

When I moved house a couple of years ago I paid special attention to my bedroom. I decided the best way to sleep well would be to create a very tranquil, calm space that would be free from clutter and generally a chill place to sleep. It ended up being a bit like a minimalist hotel room, with just the bed and two side tables, (and the cats obviously), but I liked it. It definitely had the tranquil vibe I was looking for. It made me really appreciate how important it is in your bedroom to pay attention to details like temperature, lighting, colours and how to choose the best mattress and bed sheets.

flowers in the bedroom

If you always find yourself wondering how to sleep better then I’ve put together some tips for you to hopefully help you get a better night’s rest and not let lack of sleep spoil your days. View Post

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