Monday, 23 May 2016

Summer Sizzlers

Every year those first hot rays of sunshine seem to catch me by surprise. After our long winter, it seems the sun will never make an appearance, until suddenly it does, very intently and determinedly. Digging out summer clothes, I quickly realise I have nothing adequate to wear and my skin is far too pale from being covered up for nearly 9 months of the year. 

It takes a little while to get used to putting on sunscreen again, remembering to bring sun glasses and making sure little ones go outside with a hat. Of course, this change is not difficult! Winter to summer is an easy transition to make, helped along by the crackle of food on the BBQ, that cool delicious taste of wine outside and the heavenly scents from flowers in the garden and cut grass.

Inside too, our house and the way we live seem to adapt. Gone are the warm winter throws that hang over the sofa for chilly nights. The outside is brought in with us as windows and doors can be left open for much of the day. The heating is no longer turned on and the house is still warm! 

For us in the UK, summer is sadly not especially long, nor often guaranteed, so we have to relish it even more when it's here. There's always the excitement and joy of holidays and travel, but when we're home again, we need to savour those feelings. We should continue to celebrate that summery-ness in our homes and daily lives more too. 

But how can bring that sunshine inside? What can we be doing now to ensure summer lingers languidly throughout the rest of the year? Interiors right now are buzzing with ideas. Here are my 3 hot picks to get your home sizzling with the vibes of summer:

1) Mixed Materials
Transform your home accessories into works of art by finding pieces which combine wood and brass elements, geometric prints and stone. Bowls, which at first might be boring, will become beautiful coveted objects. Take this idea further and make over your walls, floors, tables. Like a breath of summer fresh air, your home will thank you for it.

2) The Colour Chartreuse
If you already have grey in your home, you're going to love chartreuse. Neither quite yellow, nor quite green, it's both warm and fresh and will add some zing to your interiors. It pops perfectly when put against grey shades or rich teals, but also looks lovely with wood and a neutral colour scheme. Add the charm of chartreuse for some summer sunshine.

3) Florals
Nothing says summer more than flowers. Abundant, beautiful blooms are back. But don't cringe and think 1980's Laura Ashley, imagine a more modern twist with supersized themes and classic colours. Our taste for pared-back and simple interiors are perfectly suited to hints of vintage blooms, wild flower fabrics and blowsy bouquets. These will remind you of happy summer days at any time of the year.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Storage heaven

I don't know about you, but I feel there's never enough storage space. When you first move into your own place, you can barely fill it. Then you give it a few years, a partner and perhaps some kids and soon there isn't a house big enough to contain all the stuff you've accumulated. Walls are by their nature static (thankfully), but that does mean space will always be limited. Unless you have a big garden and  enough space (and budget) to extend, but even then it might not be enough... So how to solve this dilemma?

Of course, the self help books will tell you to de-clutter, to throw some of that stuff out. They'll persuade you that you don't need all your books, CDs, kids toys, clothes... and yes, you can concede, perhaps they might be right. But hang on, what happens if you actually need all the things you have? That parting with the first album you bought would be like losing a limb? Or maybe you've de-cluttered so much that you're already at the bare bones of minimalist, but still find you're running out of space? Our stuff is an extension of ourselves, it paints a picture of where we've come from and who we are. What we choose to keep can sum up what we value, be an indication of our personality, a culmination of our passions and pursuits. This shit is important, man.

Luckily it is possible to be neat, tidy and clutter free without having to chuck it all out. 

And this utopian existence is all about the right kind of storage. Because there is a wrong and a right way to do storage. The former is the gung-ho approach, you buy first and think 'where am I going to put this?' later, when it's too late and you can't close the loft door any more. The later is what we're going to focus on, it's about evaluating each room and making use of the space you have in a clever way.

Here are some great storage solutions for when you seem to have more stuff than space:

1) Buy furniture with storage
It may sound obvious, but if you need a new coffee table, make sure it has a drawer (or 2) within it, or at least a shelf. Look for hidden storage in everything you buy:

If you need a new bed, get one with drawers underneath. Perfect spaces for towels, bed linen and other bits and bobs:

Or maximise the space behind a bed frame:

In the kitchen, a bench seat with drawers or which opens like a trunk would be great for storing items you don't need everyday:

In the bathroom, make sure your sink has a drawer unit underneath. Even the space underneath the bath can be utilised for storage:

2) Utilise those random 'extra' spaces throughout your home
Above wardrobes in bedrooms, underneath your stairs, to the side of bookcases, above door frames, alcoves.... All of these spaces are perfect for eking out extra storage. It's worth spending a bit of money too and getting any shelving or units custom fitted so that they look seamless and fit the space perfectly.

If you've already got freestanding wardrobes, why not add a shelf above them or a row of baskets to maximise the space:

Space underneath the stairs is crying out for fitted shelving or creative uses, why not think about one of these ideas:

The area above door frames is too often forgotten, why not put up some shelves for your books or music? In the bathroom you'll finally have a space for guest towels and in the kitchen for pots and crockery:

Alcoves are great for books, seating and storing all sorts of bits and pieces:

Railings and stairwells are also areas to exploit:

  3) Look up
Too often we think our room isn't wide enough or big enough for a storage unit. But be sure to think vertically too. A tall, slim unit against a wall might serve your purposes as much as a wide unit on the floor. Maximise the wall units in the kitchen and think about adding some to hallways and the living room too. Vertical hooks can also be used for hanging up kitchen utensils, garden implements, bikes or other bulky items. Here are some ideas:

See, now you have more space! Just don't use this article as an excuse to buy more stuff... well, not too much more. Enjoy filling your storage areas!