Thursday, 31 December 2015

Buy your own masterpiece

It's the last day of the year and the shopping sales are well underway. But it seems that bargains are not just to be had in store. The online craft retailer, Etsy, was the place this week for an illegal sale of looted goods from Syria. Ancient artifacts were being sold off on the cheap to bargain hunters potentially unaware of their origin. It made me think about museums and the items they have on display... as well as their amazing shops. Inspired by the past and offering beautiful design at a fraction of the cost of the original, they're places to find  unusual items for your home.  I've had a peak at what's for sale and put together a selection of  things that caught my eye. 

Victoria & Albert Museum

1. Hydrangea Cup and Saucer Set: £15
2. Bird and Rosehip Tea Cosy: £12
3. British Asian Style: Fashion and Textiles: £24.99
4. J by James Brown (Alphabet Lino Print): £55
5. Indian No.4 by Owen James (Giclee Print): £12.50

Southbank Centre
A lovely shop to pop into if you're in London, it's a treasure trove of gifts and homeware.  There were so many things I liked, I couldn't stop at 1 selection...

1. Candle Holder Lup Table: £25
2. Watch Me wall clock - multi: £35
3. Clock Tube Brass Piet Hein: £130
4. Sevens coaster set - taupe: £21

5. Quince Atlantic Cushion: £65/£80
6. Geo Thermos - Red: £59
7. Set of 3 Lab Flasks: £15
8. Tetrahedron Mug Gold: £17.50

British Museum

1. British Museum Bradley Globe: £99
2. Notre Dame Rose Stained Glass Roundel (Large): £19.99
3. Large Ceramic Egyptian Plate: £175
4. Wilderness Miniature Vase: £175
5. Enamel Persian Bowl: £110

Design Museum
Lots of quirky and lovely items...

1. 'Sitting Comfortably?' Cushion: £47.50
2. Plumen Bulb: £20.95
3. Nordic Light Candle Holder: £72
4. PATTERNITY: A New Way of Seeing: £30

5. Sky Planter: £25-£65
6. Conran on Colour: £25
7. Jacquet Cushion: £47.50
8. Convert Planter - large: £48

Friday, 18 December 2015

A handmade Christmas

I love Christmas. I really do. It starts off with the smells - that faint hint of cold and Winter in the air mingles with remnants of autumn bonfires in the garden and wood burning stoves crackling inside. It quickly moves to the sights - bright lights in the dark (the darkness that seems to come too quickly, too soon in the afternoon), the bright displays in shop windows, Christmas trees, wreaths, garlands, mixed spice, candied fruit. Cooking. Ah, did I mention the food?! Puddings, custard, mince pies, roasts, stews, gravy. Heaven! All done with The Christmas Song in the background, a Nat King Cole soundtrack counting down the days.

A time for being all cosy, wearing something woolly and hibernating in the living room. Indulging in just that one evening I found myself watching a Christmas craft show. You know the ones I mean. Beautiful homes and stunning decorations show off Christmas and guests display their crafting skills, happily telling the presenter that everything is homemade. It's wonderful to gorge on the interiors and feast on the home decor. Though lovely as that is, I did catch myself thinking, who in the world has time to make individual felt reindeer as name places for the Christmas meal on top of doing everything else that comes with getting ready for the big day? Reality for most people is usually some festive lights, putting up and decorating the tree and then spending the rest of the holidays telling the toddler not to pull off the baubles. Or the little person to leave the presents under the tree wrapped... 

Before you think I've gone all 'bah humbug' on you, I adore (and admire) all the wonder created by the crafters, it just might be a little more refreshing to have the Christmas craft bar set a bit more realistically.  For those of us with one third of the time and  budget available to us, how can we recreate a bit of rustic Christmas style in our own homes? 

Armed with nothing more than a patch of countryside in front of me and a pair of secateurs, I went forth and chopped holly, pine, laurel, ivy and anything else remotely evergreen. Although amateur, I 'gave it a go' and put it all together with a bit of twine and some mini christmas baubles to create a Christmas wreath for my front door. Hey, it can be done!

So, for those of you who may only have a work lunch break, the length of a child's nap time or a school morning to complete something in, here are a few ideas to tap into that home made vibe. Don't be shy, these really are easy peasy. 

Merry Christmas everyone! x

Monday, 14 December 2015

Deck the Walls!

Approaching the end of the year is often a time to take stock and look at how things are and think about how they could be. We start to plan for the future. For some that means a gym subscription, for others it could mean finally re-doing that room you've been living with (and loathing) for the past year. Scrolling through the papers this week, a picture caught my eye which might be able to help get the creative juices flowing... 

It seems that colour, and our preference for what colour we put on our walls, is influenced by where we live regionally. B&Q were asked which colours, excluding white, British homeowners are actually buying. It brought sales data together to map our preferences:

Blue is clearly the winner, despite the peachy hiccup in the North East, but the shades differ. The bright turquoise of Scotland is opposite to the grey slate of the East Midlands, while Wales edges towards royal blue with the South East opting for a richer colour. 

What is it about the palettes of blue, grey and varying shades between the two which makes them so appealing across the country?

Looking at the psychology of colour, blue is essentially soothing; it affects us mentally, rather than the physical reaction we may have to a colour such as red. Strong blues will stimulate clear thought and lighter, soft blues will calm the mind and aid concentration. Consequently it is serene and mentally calming. It is particularly good for bedrooms. Although for some it still can be perceived as cold and unfriendly.

The neutral appearance of the colour grey makes it an excellent backdrop to a scheme and as a colour, it does not overpower other colours. Grey should not be perceived as a 'cold' colour, 
though used wrongly, it may feel to some as oppressive. There are some beautiful warm shades around, not to mention the current love we have for 'Greige', that mixture of grey and beige.

So, if you're currently thinking about how to decorate in the new year and need some inspiration in these colours, here are some room schemes using some of the nation's favourite shades: