Friday, 23 December 2016

Fresh start my home in 2017

The New Year is just around the corner, a fresh start for many things and a good time to make house plans. I've been thinking about what projects to start in 2017 to improve my home whether large or small. Some rooms just need decorating, a new paint scheme to freshen things up and other rooms have DIY tasks that require some help from a trades person and I have some renovations to think about too.

Front rooms and doors
The issue with the front room is that the front door opens straight into the house so with two dogs and a child, whenever somebody calls or a parcel is delivered I am trying to stop mainly my terrier from escaping between my legs. He's a real scamp and goes quite erratic when anybody comes to the front door and it's a busy road hence it's always a worry. Also the door can be drafty and although there is a door curtain, the cold still sneaks in and the money we spend heating the house is wasted in that room. What I'd like to do is have a vestibule built into the front room which would solve those issues and we will have a cosier and safer situation. I'll need a builder/joiner to do this so in the New Year will be trying to find somebody to do this. It would also be a place to put muddy boots and  the dog leads so a practical space too although small. 

The front door also needs an update. One to suit the Victorian style of the house that will give curb appeal and improve the exterior of the home. A new door will hopefully be better insulated than the current one and add to saving money on fuel bills. I would like door furniture that looks more vintage and give the front of the house a spruce up that will brighten and make the home more welcoming.
Image sources: clockwise Cotswood// Home Talk//Alyaa // Ideal Home
Loft Room
The room in our house that doubles both as a bedroom and as storage has to be really creative in terms of space and decoration. It needs to be bright and airy, have solutions for housing all the things like Christmas decorations and extra toys but be tidy and functioning as a tranquil space to sleep. Under this eaves would be ideal to have some cabinets built in so that the room would have a less cluttered feel and bags and boxes could be hidden away.

The loft window needs some dressing as in the summer the bright mornings although lovely, wake you up far too early so I need some smart VELUX blinds to blackout the room and also insulate the room more on cold days. It's one of my favourite views out of this window, across the town towards the river so to have it less cluttered I could easily access the space more to have a relaxing look out the window every so often. 

When the room is not being used as a bedroom, I would really like the space to be somewhere to study too since I'm doing my post grad. A desk and a bookcase for my history books where I could study in peace, especially when an important paper is due in. Up in the loft is like hiding away a little so the rest of the house can be busy and I can have some thinking space. 
Loft space used as a study
Image source: Ideal Home

Kitchen Tiling
The kitchen firstly needs a coat of new paint and then I'd like some white metro tiles used part way up the walls. There used to be brown tiles to that same height and when they were removed it left an uneven finish that has been annoying me for over 12 months now. Shiny white tiles would really make the kitchen sparkle and be easier to clean from splashes of food from cooking and my son making a mess. The kitchen units need a paint touch up in places and then the room just needs blitzing to make more use of the cupboard space. I'm also still waiting for my new oven *sigh* which has been delayed due to a new plug socket being required - is it ever easy to get things sorted in the house? Hopefully 2017's home improvement plans will go better than 2016's has!

kitchen white tiles
Image source: Apartment Therapy
I think that there is quite enough planned in terms of decorating and renovating that other house improvements will be of the accessories sort - the quick wins that cheer you up. I need a new rug for the front room for cosy feet by the fireplace and a new throw for the sofa as my naughty terrier dog has put a hole in the current one. Everything else I will reuuse and fix in the spirit of make do and mend. I've lots of pictures and ornaments, if anything I'll be simplifying the scheme a bit in 2017. 

I love making plans for updates to the house, I do love my little home and spending time improving the way it looks makes me happy. Until then I'm going to spend Christmas relaxing with some house magazines and a cup of tea, dreaming of my future study room and front door. 

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

3 Bathroom Trends for 2017

As we come to the start of a new year, lots of people start making resolutions. We hear everything from losing weight to saving for a holiday but if your decor is looking a little tired, why not give the busiest room in the house a makeover - the bathroom. Whatever your style, there will be a trend that with suit you that will see you through until next time you decorate.
Exposed brick in the bathroom
Bethany Mitchell Homes
One of the biggest trends for 2017 will see us all getting back to nature. The organic feel will be making a big comeback throughout the home, and the bathroom is the perfect place for this look. Slate or stone tiles on the wall or floor are an easy way to get a natural feel in the bathroom and also add a bit of drama to the room. Even having a pebbled floor around the bath can take you back to the beach in the summer.

For a fresh take on the trend, you could go for some exposed brickwork on your walls. This will add some instant cool to the room and it goes with most styles of bathroom. If you don’t want to commit to redecorating the whole room, you could just add a marble bath or, for an even smaller nod to the trend, get some wooden accessories like toothbrush holders.

A trend that we see year in, year out will be sticking around for 2017 - Vintage. Unlike previous years where we have seen lots of furniture inspired by mid-century designs, this year we will be seeing more Victorian themes in our shops and homes. If you live in an older property, it's time to maximise those period features. Make the most of your high ceilings with a chandelier or by restoring old ceiling roses.

If you’re handy and have a lot of patience, you can opt for an original to restore back to its former glory. For those with a bigger budget, you can buy previously restored originals online. A stunning roll top bath with ornate feet will be a timeless style that will add a real talking point to your bathroom. If you haven’t got the time or money to splash out on an original, there are some fantastic modern replicas on the market.
floral wallpaper in a bathroom
Country Homes and Interiors
Bold extravagance
The final decor trend we will be looking at is a dramatic one! If you love bold decor then this is certainly one for you. This trend is all about making your bathroom look luxurious with some brave features.

Although your first thought for your bathroom walls is usually tile, you can go for something a bit different with a big patterned wallpaper. Dark florals or opulent Liberty type prints will give your bathroom a fresh new look. For a paper that will last, choose one that is specifically used in the bathroom, otherwise the moisture could cause peeling.

Another way to add some drama to your bathroom is with an illuminated mirror, like the ones from Pebble Grey. The glow of the bulbs are not only for adding a touch of glamour, but are also practical too.

Pebble Grey illuminated mirror

*collaborative post

Monday, 19 December 2016

Christmas trees at the forest train station

Delamere Forest train station at Christmas
Christmas trees for sale Cheshire
By Delamere Forest is a vintage train station, still on a working line so you can get the train right into the heart of the grand fir trees, a place of natural beauty on my doorstep. The old station building is a cafe serving all sorts from hot chocolates to sandwiches and it's unbelievably cute with old signs and at this time of year even better for Christmas trees are sold here. 

Propped up against vintage red telephone boxes and old lampposts are all types of firs and pines. The beautiful fresh balsam scent of trees stacked by rusting signs and nostalgic adverts. Red ribboned wreaths and kissing boughs were being made whilst a little festive tune tinkled merrily in the cold air. We had hot chocolates with snowy whipped cream on top and walked around breathing Christmas in.
Christmas trees and a red telephone box
Delamere train station Christmas trees
The Station House Stained Glass Delamere Cheshire
Delamere Forest railway
Delamere vintage look station
looking at Christmas trees
Selling holly wreaths
Station Cafe Delamere
Choosing a Christmas tree

My bathroom plans for 2017

When you have a period property like mine, which is late Victorian, it can be tricky deciding whether to go for traditional or modern design when decorating and renovating. Keeping in a style according to the house age, sympathetic to the time period gives a cohesive look that flows well but then modern design when chosen right can be an interesting contrast.

One room I really need to update in 2017 due to wear and tear is the bathroom. Unfortunately the shower unit is broken, the motor is no longer working and needs a new one installing, the bath was damaged when tiling the walls and the general fixtures and fittings have not been of lasting quality and need replacing.

My main feature in the bathroom is definitely the shower, I'm not a bath person at all to be honest but my little boy loves a huge bubble bath. For me, the best thing is a lovely hot shower that wakes me up in the morning and then one in the evening that is refreshing and washes the worries of the day away. However my broken shower system gives a mere trickle of water rather than a blast and has been frustrating for a while now, what with a plumber letting us down and then other areas of the home needing attention. I need to start shopping around looking at shower heads and new thermostatic mixers so my showers can return to their relaxing state. I actually love fairly modern features in the bathroom with a plain white suite, perhaps a hint of vintage in the design of the sink and decoration, the rest though is contemporary. I'd like to make sure that the shower head is large for maximum spray with different spray options such as the 
Grohe shower head  from SuperBath which is 160mm wide with the option of rain, champagne, jet and pure sprays. This would be wonderful for a shower that makes me feel warm rather than currently shivering under a drip of water. It also has a SpeedClean anti lime system within the shower head that cleans and gives the product a longer lifespan against the problems that calciferous water can cause to the shower jets.
Image sources: SuperBath, Home2Love and The Ana Mum Diary/Anthropology

There are a couple of options for my shower, either a system with a hand shower or one that has a shower arm fixed from the wall with a shower head attached. The
Hansgrohe hand shower would be an option, made from plastic with chrome finishing it's affordable with a large shower jet for a good spray of water from a 137mm head. But I love the sleek look of a Hansgrohe shower arm combined with a mixer unit. I was interested to learn that Hansgrohe have been in business since 1901 and were the makers of the first hand shower, a company renowned for their innovative design. So a decision needs to be made over the type of fitting but I'm going to try and get this sorted for early 2017 so my showers are restored and i'm no longer cold.
Hansgrohe showers
Image source: SuperBath

I'm hoping that when I replace the important shower fixtures that my grey sparkly tiles are able to stay in place so I don't need to re-tile. The grey has worked really well to give an airy and relaxing feel with both the white suite and white painted walls so I would really like to keep them in place.I also think they add a vintage feel to the room so that the modern features such as the shower are balanced out. Adding decorations too such as bottles and old mirrors keeps a Victorian feel in the bathroom so I can choose lovely shiny contemporary shower fittings such as those by Hansgrohe and Grohe at SuperBath. Add to this some new fluffy towels and I'll be back to having the calming sanctuary of a bathroom once more.
Image source

*Blog collaboration with SuperBath

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Christmas Degustabox time

festive Degustabox There was much excitement for the delivery of the Christmas Degustabox and wow what a box it was, absolutely full of amazing items with a really festive feel. 

J2O Glitterberry £2.49
Sparkly gold drink excitement, just beautiful and what a nice drink to serve for those, like me that are usually driving. It's a zingy grape and cherry drink with edible gold glitter and a super product.
J20 Glitterberry 
Hartley's Glitter Jelly 2 x 75p
More glitter! Very, very happy with these and will be using them for a Christmas trifle. A pink raspberry jelly and a blue mixed berry jelly. It's my son's birthday in early January so I think a blue jelly dessert will be on the menu. 
Hartley's Glitter Jelly Michel et Augustin Dark chocolate with a pinch of sea salt . 4 cookie squares 89p
Delicious! Dark chocolate and sea salt is the most perfect combination.
Michel et Augustine dark choc cookie bites
Ryvita cracked black pepper crackers £1.29
Ryvita Thins £1.89
We had a girl's weekend to Ludlow and I took these for us to snack on in the evening with cheese, dips and wine. Low in saturated fats and sugars but pretty wholesome, these make a great Christmas snack. Very, very moreish.
Ryvita cracked black pepper crackers
Appy Kids Co The Gruffalo Golden Apple Fruit Drink £1.49 (pack of 3)
Perfect size to pop into my bag for the journey to Ludlow. A tasty and refreshing drink. 
Gruffalo fruit juice
Broderick's Crunchy Slam-Dunk Peanut Chunk £1.20
I love anything with chocolate and peanut butter so this was a winner. A handmade rice crispy peanut butter bar with whole roasted peanuts and Belgian chocolate. This was divine and I need more!
Peanut crunch
Pipers Crisp Co Wild Thyme and Rosemary £2.00
First of all, such a pretty colour packet! Gorgeous handcooked crisps as a treat or on the buffet table. Would love to have these again. 
Piper's Crisps
Jules Destrooper Butter Crisps £ 1.19
More gorgeous packaging with these continental, lovely biscuits. So, so sweet and utterly delicious. These would be great to make a Christmas sundae with. Taste the butter and caramelised sugar. 
Butter Crisps
Christian Potier Hollandaise Sauce £2.50
A pack of 3 sachets of hollandaise sauce which is usually eaten with asparagus or  eggs benedict. We haven't used them as yet but what a clever idea for ease of use as I wouldn't fancy my chances at making the sauce from scratch myself. Simply pop into the microwave for a short time and you have a scrummy sauce ready. Other flavours available too. 
Hollandaise Sauce
Ahmad Dessert Tea - Strawberry Velvet Cake £4.00
Pretty packaging and how unique, a pleasant and quirky sweet tea.
strawberry cake tea
Butterkist Sweet Cinema Style Popcorn 28p
Butterkist Choc Mallow Popcorn £1.49
A firm favourite in our household and the Cinema Popcorn was quickly eaten by my son. The Choc Mallow Popcorn was my favourite, really sweet and tasty - excellent product.
Butterkist Popcorn
The Good Cider 2 x £1.50
We have had this brand before and it's a very nice quality cider in which I would look out for again.
 The Good Cider
A wonderful Degustabox for Christmas, loved all that was sent as part of the festive package in terms of a well thought out selection for some goodies and rich treats for over the holidays. A definite winner for us.

If you would like to try Degustabox, the code 1GWLB will get you your first box for just £5.99. It's such a great surprise each month and I really love that element and how it encourages you to try new food and drink out.

*I was sent a Degustabox for the purpose of the review, words are my own honest opinion. 

Monday, 12 December 2016

Bringing nature indoors with a gorgeous wooden floor

Winter is a time that I love going for walks with the family in the countryside, when you can see the rugged landscape, the stark branches of the trees and feel the chill against your cheeks. The woodland is especially a favourite place and we also have a forest nearby so can walk from dense pine trees to the the canopy of wintry branches, the spectral bark of the silver birch, the deep warm browns of the gnarled tree trunks of English oak and the paler browns of Alder or the layer of rich earthy pine cones on the floor - a treasure we like to collect and bring into our home.  In fact, a trip out into nature at any time of year is one where we pick up cones, leaves, seed pods, mossy sticks and bundles of twigs and use them in our home decoration. But at this festive time it seems to unearth a natural instinct, following on from ancestors bringing evergreens in like holly and mistletoe to celebrate life and light in the long winter. It's a natural desire in us to feel close to nature, no matter if you live in the city centre or a bustling town and having that connection in our homes is both calming and comfortable.

Pine cones are my ultimate winter and Christmas decoration, abundant and free on the woodland floor and can be used in so many displays. Simply pile them into a hurricane jar with fairy lights and you have a glowing focal point for a room or use in containers and add candles or greenery. A sprinkle of glitter too and tying together to make garlands or adding to swags on staircases and around doors. This year I am going to try and make some firelighters with the store of pine cones that I have and then keep them by the woodburner for getting the fire going on those frosty and hopefully snowy mornings. 

Pine cone displays in the home for winter
Image source: Vibeke Design
I love the house feeling natural, the tones make me feel at ease and blend well together beautifully which is why I have a wooden floor, to bring the natural environment indoors. A wooden floor is a great investment, they look stylish and are extremely practical as I have discovered. 

Woodpecker Flooring are a family run business that offer a wide variety of wooden flooring options for your home and know how important getting that natural organic feel in your home is by carefully selecting trees and the methods of crafting the timber into your finished flooring for quality and longevity. The wood is from sources approved by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC ) or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forests (PEFC) certifications so you can be assured that your flooring is environmentally friendly. 

Woodpecker Flooring have different options - solid wood flooring, engineered wood, laminate and bamboo. There are advantages to each one depending upon your circumstances; for instance engineered wood is a better option where you have underfloor heating as the wood can cope better with the expansion and contraction. 

My favourite is solid wood, I love the feel on bare-feet in the morning which is surprisingly warm. You will be spoilt for choice by the options from Woodpecker Flooring; whitewashed oak, walnut and antique oak to name a few. A range of wood flooring from a light to a dark finish that will fit in with your style. The York range is one that reflects the landscape of the North York Moors with woodland walks and bridges over streams - that is certainly how I want my home to feel! 
wooden flooring for the home

Another element to bringing the outdoors in, is the flexibility of natural materials. The grain of wood flooring is unique, the sight of it feels so textural, just as you often can't resist touching the bark of trees as you pass by, it is lovely to feel the wood flooring.  
Wood flooring is so practical and as a mum of a boisterous boy and two hairy dogs, I can say that it makes tidying and cleaning so much easier than with carpet. I have minimum worry over spills and accidents as its all cleared up easily in moments with no lingering stains or smells. It's a really hygenic solution for family living that will stand up to hard wear and last the years - wooden floors from Woodpecker have a 25 year guarantee. 
Festive interior and wooden floor
My wooden floor 

Woodpecker Flooring have a range called Barafundle which made me smile as I know Barafundle Bay in Pembrokeshire well, a beautiful scenic area of natural beauty and the oak flooring has that same ambiance. A very rustic looking floor that has a sheen applied to it giving a minimalistic look. With so many other options and finishes to choose from I was pleased to find an extremely useful guide from Woodpecker Flooring on choosing a wood floor - it's a great reference for helping you select your flooring.  
wood flooring for winter
Wooden floors suit all homes from coastal cottages to an urban semi-detached and give such great impact when running through the ground floor of a home for a seemless look - that's one of the main appeals of it for me. My house is not big at all and the wooden floor downstairs makes it feel like a much larger space. There are so many diferent tones available so suit your home, perhaps the whitened oak of Goodwich Parquet Flooring for a small room to add as much light as possible, with the beautiful geometric patterns of parquet adding interest and character. Alternatively the darker hue of Salcombe Shadow Oak will bring warmth and depth to a room. Sophisticated with minimalistic design furniture and a simple neutral colour palette, choose feature pieces like a light coloured armchair or weathered wood furniture as a contrast. 

Accessorising wooden flooring is super easy too and it can be vamped up for a luxe feel or pared down for rustic loveliness as it is so versatile. In winter it can be made extra cosy with a fluffy rug and some twinkly fairy lights. Perhaps even a wood feel candle like the one I've found below and even some handmade wooden Christmas tree decorations. Alternatively glam up with sequined cushions, opulent shimmering wallpaper and rich fabrics as a contrast with the wood. Metals combined with wood are a chic and modern scheme, the popular copper or rose-gold terraniums against the simplicity of a wood floor give an urban feel. Layering up wood flooring with different shades of wood furniture and accessories gives a country, cosy style that has hints of Danish hygge or Scandi chic. 
wooden floors and accessories

After having wooden flooring for some years and loving how inviting a wood floor is, I will always want it for my home. I can change the look of a room easily so when new seasonal home fashions are available, I can readily take them on board as wooden flooring is so versatile and easy to coordinate with.

Have you considered wooden flooring or have it already, I'd love to hear? 

bringing nature into the home with a wooden floor
*Collaborative post

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Books for Christmas #storiesforlife

Puffin children's books
I have always loved books and growing up was a 5 minute walk away from a library where I spent so much time. I have memories of choosing picture books and being sat on the squishy black chair in the library looking at the colourful illustrations of Meg and Mog or Shirley Hughes' Alfie series - yes they've been around a while! It's a love I hope I'm passing onto my son and he has a plentiful amount of books around the house; on bookshelves upstairs and downstairs, books in his bedroom, by the bed, on my bedside table and basically everywhere..... We love picking up picture books and looking at a few whilst snuggled on the sofa or at bedtime. In fact I really love revisiting books from my own childhood and one of those is my absolute favourite, The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton with tales of magic and fun characters, I can't wait to read it to him one day.

There was a knock at the door and our postlady handed us a shiny festive package and in it were three fantastic books:

The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots by Beatrix Potter
Published 150 years after the birth of Beatrix Potter, and illustrated by Quintin Blake, this is all about the adventures of a black cat and features other characters that Potter fans will be familiar with - Mrs. Tiggy-winkle, Mr. Tod the fox and even Peter Rabbit. It's a gorgeous hardback book and a curious modern feel having been illustrated by Quintin Blake whom I always associate with Roald Dahl. It's a lovely tale to read with a child and a story to treasure. I'll be popping this into my son's present pile this Christmas as I love him having the Beatrix Potter books that I had as a child too, so this new one will complete the collection.
The tale of Kitty-in-boots
Alfie and His Very Best Friend by Shirley Hughes
Unmistakably Shirley Hughes' wonderful illustrations and heartwarming storytelling. This is all about Alfie and Bernard, best friends and adventurers together. It felt very nostalgic looking through this so it's been an early present to my son and we read it as a bedtime story.
Shirley Hughes illustration
The Fairytale Hairdresser and the Princess and the Pea
A new book for me, fun and colourful and about Kittie Lacie, the best hairdresser in all the land. All the fairytale characters are at the foodie festival where Kittie is doing hairstyles. Then it's an array of princesses, an evil witch and a prince in this modern spin on a fairy story. This will make a nice gift for a friend's daughter with all its funky pictures.
 Fairytale hairdresser It's great to pass on the same authors and books that I had as a child, timeless tales and new ones that will make popular stories. There's nothing better than books as gifts.reading books In partnership with Penguin Random House Children’s Books and Britmums

Friday, 2 December 2016

Christmas Flowers

Arley Hall This week I am writing my end of term essay for uni and so I haven't been a garden visiting and the weekend was spent at a medieval fayre........Looking back to last year, I never shared the floral extravaganza that I went to at Arley Hall in Cheshire. Each room is filled with flower displays so creative and the feeling is unbelievably festive. There are also Christmas trees, see last year and a little shop that sells jams and chutneys made from the produce of the estate and garden. It's an event I really recommend and it's on the 3rd December!

Now back to my history books and time to get writing that essay.

Christmas flowers Arley Hall seasonal faffing pillar candles winter twigs and moss french stained glass Arley Hall sitting room time and moss Latham roof Arley Hall lights and flowers stately home at Christmas flowers on the mantelpiece glass domed ceilng Arley Hall drawing room at Arley Christmastime Arley Hall Christmas Tree Arley Hall family portraits pink floral arrangement Christmas wood panelling books and leaves Arley Hall sundial