Saturday, 30 July 2016

An Interiors Post - Creating a compact study area

Before we had the work done on our house, I didn't have a space of my own for working or blogging. I would move from the kitchen table to the kitchen island and back again, leaving leads trailing and people flailing as they tripped over them.

So, when the chance came for me to think about what we wanted from our new space, it was important to carve out a work corner. It didn't need to be big but as it's not hidden from view, it needed to be tidy. (The rest of my files and paraphernalia are currently in cardboard boxes but they will be stored in a cupboard that has yet to be built.)

As to the furniture, I looked at lots of desks and finally chose this John Lewis gravity desk in walnut (£250). The design really appealed to me. I didn't want anything too "officey" looking and it was just really different - plus it wasn't extortionate. The shelves are, as you might predict, the high gloss lack shelves from Ikea.

I love listening to the Radio and my husband bought me this Roberts Revival Mini Radio from John Lewis for a recent birthday.

The tall vases are handmade by Susan Nemeth and I've probably had them for ten or so years now. I love ceramics and particularly the colours that Susan uses. The squarer shaped vase is by Jessie Higginson. I carried around a postcard with her work on it for a very long time and then a few years later some of her vases appeared in a local shop and my husband bought this one for me as a present. That was about 16 years ago now and I love it now just as much as I did then. The vases used to be in our living room but the colours seem to work well with the colour of the wall, so they're living here for a while now instead.

And I know that this sounds a bit up my own bum but as everything is on display on the desk, it needed to be pleasing on the eye whilst also functional. I had some John Lewis vouchers saved from Christmas and so I treated myself (and it was a treat, to the point that I had slight palpitations) to this Kate Spade staplertape dispenser and letter tray whilst my husband bought me the Kate Spade tumblers so that I had something nice to drink out of when I was working. Bless him! The notebooks are from Home Bargains (the gold striped one) and the turquoise and white one is from Kate Spade at Selfridges, although it's no longer online.

The chair that I am using is one that we already had and it's the Macadam folding chair from Habitat. These chairs cost £10 and come in variety of colours. They are brilliant, really sturdy and comfortable plus fantastic for their price. I must admit to quite fancying the pale pink one too. To soften it up a little, I bought this faux fur cushion in silver stripe from John Lewis (£15). A review that I have just read says that it sheds fur over everything but I haven't noticed that to be the case. Although I could well be walking around with a furry bottom without knowing!

And this is my study area in context. Tucked away at the back of the room it is cosy and all mine (for now - wait until the A-level revision starts. I fear that I will be back on the kitchen table!)

Friday, 29 July 2016

An interiors post - tips for creating cosy corners and places to chill!

When thinking about how to use the space in our new room, it was important to create lots of cosy corners and places to chill with soft blankets, cushions and a nice view. Although there is one big settee where we can all sit - which is in front of the large TV (entirely Mr SGs domain) - it's nice to have little nooks and crannies so that we can all be together, without being all together. 

OK so this bench isn't necessarily somewhere that you might choose to sit and chill but it's one that we've had for a long time and we like the design (it's called a "love" bench and it's by Ercol). My husband really loves mid-century furniture as it reminds him of the furniture that his parents had when he was growing up.  With an Orla Kiely cushion and a selection of straw hats that we can grab on our way to the garden, it's quite a nice feature (and one that I can see from the kitchen sink!)

This Ercol rocking chair is a new addition to the family and it was from Cherry Tree Interiors in Harborne. Maxine who works there has made blinds, curtains and cushions for us over the years and she is incredible. Cherry Tree also buy vintage furniture, such as this piece, and restore it - plus they will source pieces too.  This chair was a present to Mr SG from me.

I quite often find our youngest sitting in it reading her Enid Blyton books. It's in a really cosy corner of the room, right in the sun.

And as I was writing this post, someone else came along and plonked himself down and started reading his new book...

This is the view from the chair into the garden - please excuse the washing line! It will be nice to sit in this chair in the winter and watch the snow come down.

I bought this chunky grey felted stool from Cox & Cox and it tucks in nicely against a post in between the windows. I really liked the textures that it added to the room and it's good for me to perch on when putting on my trainers before commencing some hideously sweaty exercises.

This piece was handmade for us by Gary of Nu-Trend Interiors in Stapleford, just outside of Nottingham about 15 years ago now. Stapleford is a couple of miles away from Long Eaton, the sofa making capital of England. The sofas for Loaf, Laura Ashley, M&S, Harrods and virtually every other brand come from Long Eaton. Gary from Nu-Trend used to work for one of the manufacturers there but set up on his own over 20 years ago now and the two sofas that I have had from him are still going strong.

Despite the fact that the frame of the sofa is untouched, the fabric is starting to wear slightly - just due to general family wear and tear really. So for now I've bought two big sheepskin cushions from Ikea (at £15 each I thought that they were a pretty good price) and added this Scion Mr Fox cushion from John Lewis plus a blanket from the Conran shop which we've had for a while.  It has given it a new lease of life and has avoided the need for it to be re-covered.

The lamp is the Laura Ashley pineapple lamp that I wrote about on here previously.  The wooden unit will be sanded, undercoated and painted in Farrow & Ball's moles breath - when I get a chance. This is one of my favourite chilling corners - it's brilliant for when we're all ready to go out and then someone has to go upstairs because they've forgotten something and rather than getting annoyed, I just plonk myself down here for a couple of minutes and look at a mag until the faffing is complete (because of course I'm never the one doing the faffing!)

This is the view from the "green settee" into the rest of the room and down the garden. Close enough to the main action but far enough away to do something else instead.

But guess who has the best seat in the house? Surrounded by her Build A Bears and with remotes finely balanced so that she doesn't have to exert herself to change channels. Someone has it sussed far better than I have!

Slip dress round two!

Remember the £14 slip dress from Marks and Spencer that I wore here? Well I didn't want it to be a one slip wonder and I like the fit (not fitted) and the length (not short) so it seemed a good idea to try and re-work it.

I found this sort of silky, oriental printed, waterfall throw on type "jacket" in my wardrobe which I've had for a long time but not really worn, and thought that I would give it a try. I think that we all got on OK together.

The dress that I am wearing is sold out but this lace trim dress also from Marks and Spencer (£6.50) is similar(ish)

Anyone remember this song? I've been thinking about all the time that I've been writing this post...

Slip slidin' away, 
slip slidin' away, 
You know the nearer your destination
The more you're slip slidin' away

You can't beat a great 70's hit! 

Thursday, 28 July 2016

It's that dress again!

Dress: & Other Stories, Sandals: Jigsaw, Belt: Cos

Who hasn't seen this dress a million times on various bloggers? I've also seen it on lots of people out and about. In black, in cream, it has been a winner for many with its midi length and "helpful" sleeve plus that little bit of pom pom detail. So sorry to be a bit boring... hopefully the tan accessories will help - a little. I was in London today and I took a look at & Other Stories, hoping that there would be an updated version this season, which there wasn't. Maybe next year....

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Denim and (not quite) Dancing Shoes...

I've been on the hunt for a denim pinafore dress for probably over a year now, trying them in Warehouse, Topshop and Zara but not finding one that worked until I came across the Karolina denim pinafore dress in Monsoon (reduced from £59 to £29.50). This one I knew would be different because it was less rigid than the others that I had tried, plus the skirt had slightly more room in it meaning that I could walk around properly without tottering and tripping over my feet. I'm wearing the size 8 but I've ordered the 10 too, just for comparison purposes.

And these shoes were in the Zara sale. They were £19.99 and I have to say that they are so comfortable. I love a bit of a chunky shoe and they're a modern take on a brogue. They also come in full on gold - but navy is a little more me.

I'm not sure that I'm quite a Dancing Queen in these shoes - they probably should have a higher heel and lots of glitter - but for now I'm happy to strut my stuff on the door step!

Monday, 25 July 2016

Silver shoes and a big smile!

I didn't realise it at the time but this outfit brings a whole new meaning to "matchy matchy". I'm not sure that matching your trousers to your bag has ever been a big trend and I'm not sure that it's about to be one now either.

I don't know about anyone else but I find skinny jeans too restrictive in the summer. But then when I put them on in the autumn I'm convinced that I've put on about a stone as they feel so tight. So anyway, for last night's trip to Pizza Express, I wore GAP broken in straight khakis, which they do year on year (the skinny mini style is more fitted) and this Cos frill top, which I spent ages tracking down via a link in an earlier post, only to find that it's sold out online. Anyway, it's called the frill detail stripe top and costs £28, for anyone who might want to try and track one down in store.

I also wore this Hush smiley pendant which my friend gave to me. I just love it! It's so hard not to smile when you look at it.

There's also this lovely Hush smiley t-shirt and smiley sweat top - for anyone who might fancy some smiley clothing too!

Smile everyone!

Friday, 22 July 2016

Frills, personalised bags and pom poms!

Today was the day for a picnic in the park and for a round of crazy golf with the lean, mean, hole in one eight year old golfing machine, and her friend.  The irony of playing a game with the word "crazy" in it with those two was not lost on me.

But I took solace :) in my new personalised tote bag from SWYC which I first saw on Fran of thefashionlift - although obviously she had her own initials on her bag, and not mine.

In addition to loving the style, colour and the fact that this bag is personalised, it was also utterly brilliant for crazy golf; I could get everything in it plus the strap was just the right length - not so short that it cut me in half when I put it across my body but not so long that it fell forwards every time I reached down to pick the ball up, half strangling me and making me fall over at the same time (which has happened on more than one occasion. Dignity lost!)

It was also time to give this Marks and Spencer broderie bardot top (£29.50) its first outing. The reviews are right in that it is quite voluminous but I liked that. If it's hot enough to wear a top like this I like it if the air can circulate! It's just one of those tops that needs to be paired with a fairly fitted bottom half for the proportions to work properly.

And I think that it would be remiss of me if I finished this post without drawing everyone's attention to this amazing Pom Pom Clutch (£18) also from saywhatyouc. Well I promised that I was going to use more print and colour in my outfits!

Hope that you are all still enjoying the sun and that you have something super planned for the weekend. x

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Wearing print and colour....

For a baking hot day at the (paddling) pool, you can't beat a printed silk dress. OK so the problem might be that I've had this Warehouse dress for so long now that I can't actually find anything particularly similar - which some might think is a good thing - but having not worn it in a very long time, it was good to get it out again.

(Dress: Warehouse, Flip flops: Jack Wills, Basket: Boutique in Guernsey)

I think that's the thing with full on "summer" clothes - I don't buy that many of them, largely because it's rarely warm enough to wear them and so I have them for quite a few years. But then when the chance arises, it's like spending the day with an old friend. Unlike my winter clothes which I rotate so often it's like spending the day with your arch enemy.

Wearing this dress has also made me realise how little print and colour I now wear, compared to a few years ago, but how much I like wearing them. So there's a big note to self... Does anyone else have any "notes to self" when it comes to clothes (or anything for that matter)?

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Off the shoulder in French Connection...

It's been a while since I've worn this dress but with the weather being as hot as it has, I felt that it was time for it to earn its keep. I bought it from French Connection many years ago now and with all things shoulder related being such a big trend right now, it fitted the bill.  With heels and a clutch it could make an evening outfit.

For those who like this style, I've found a similar dress in the Baukjen Birkdale dress, which is down from £95 to £38 and which is available in sizes 6 to 16. The skirt isn't as full as the one on my dress and it has an extra strap but that could easily be removed, or tucked in.

After heading off down the smarter route with this dress, I then pulled it back and went for something more casual with some sparkly Aldi shoes and this fabulous animal print tote which a friend gave to me for Christmas. I'd held on to it until now so this was its first proper outing and you know, we all got on really well on our trip on the swan pedalos followed by a ride on a roller coaster (I hate those things but a certain small person loves to watch my terrified face.)

The sunglasses are Oscar de la Renta and they are from TK Maxx. They're not actually mine....our eldest bought them for £15 but she's tottered off for a month so they sort of just tottered into my wardrobe for a while in exactly the same way that things of mine seem to totter into hers from time to time (largely never to be seen again.)

Hope that you are all enjoying this glorious weather! 

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Slip of a thing...

And at last the sun came....

..which gave me a chance to wear this slip dress from Marks and Spencer Limited Edition (now £14 in the sale)...

...whilst we went for a birthday tea at a lovely friend's house...

...where we ate lots of delicious cake! 


Saturday, 16 July 2016

Chopping wide legged jeans into culottes

Last spring I bought a pair of wide legged jeans in the Whistles sale (I'm having a feeling of deja vu here after yesterday's post!) I liked them but only wore them a couple of times so over the winter I decided that come the spring I would get them chopped down to ankle length culottes. Not relying on myself to do the job even remotely properly, I took them to a local tailors who did the job for me and since having them chopped I've worn them much more.

When having them taken up, I took along another pair of culottes, the length of which I liked, so that we got them right. Here I'm wearing them with Topshop shoes (similar here) and a Cos shirt

My bag was a birthday present from a lovely friend and the cuff is from Tory Burch at Bicester. 

If in doubt, do the chop (not the snip. That's a whole different ball game on many levels.)

Friday, 15 July 2016

A navy striped midi and tan heels...

I haven't had nearly enough wear out of this Whistles navy midi skirt that I bought in the sale a couple of summers ago and now with the work on the house nearly complete, I'm trying to think a little more in outfits and a little less in terms of "let's just re-wear what I chucked on the chair the night before." Now in fairness it is an approach that works for the totally stylish Jenna Lyons of J. Crew so I'm not dissing it but when it means that there's a whole stack of clothes that aren't getting an airing - well then that's not so good. So, for the last day of term, out the striped midi skirt came.

There is also another whole stack of clothes that don't get worn because they are lurking in the very large ironing pile that I currently own. Said very large ironing pile was one thing that I took out of the old conservatory before it was demolished and the one thing I promised myself that I wouldn't return to the new utility room. Ahem. Actually it is a bit smaller. I think that I've had the ironing pile for so long that the children have grown out of some of the clothes and others have now gone right out of fashion. So there's a top tip for making your ironing pile smaller.

It's not that I don't love ironing - I do. But only really when there's tennis on or when it's really hot. Oh and also when there aren't about 20 builder in the house who think that I've nothing better to do. Anyway, I digress, the sparkly jumper that I'm wearing was one of the items that I did iron in my recent marathon ironing session, so that too had an outing.

My shoes are from Jigsaw last year. I know of quite a few of you who missed out on them so as an alternative, there are these two options...

The Tan Billie Studded Sandal from Mint Velvet (£129)

...or the Hope Sandal in natural (£49 down from £129) - they also come in black

Oh and I saw these in Topshop - the Rococo embroidered shoe in navy (£56). Although I don't need a pair I did rather fall in love with them. You know the drill, jeans and a leather jacket, green utility trousers and a cream frilly blouse/off the shoulder top, tailored culottes and a white shirt, fairly "prim" midi length dress - they could work in so many scenarios, provided that heels aren't an issue.

....and they also come in beige too. What a brilliant way to give your wardrobe (a kick up the butt) an injection of style.

Have a super weekend everyone. May the sun shine!