Tuesday, 15 September 2015

BYE BYE NAILS, HELLO ADHESIVE STRIPS

I can't think of anything more stressful than hanging pictures on the walls. I hate the damage afterwards (in case you happen to change your mind) and it does require some planning and patience (which I don't have). That's why I have left this nasty job to my husband in the past but I am happy to report I've found an easy, hassle free solution!

I had heard of adhesive strips before but was sceptical whether they actually work. Surely they won't be able to hold a picture as well as old fashioned nails? The answer is yes. They are every bit as good as they claim to be. Adhesive strips are also a lot easier to remove and most importantly won't damage the wall. You do need to read the instructions carefully though and you still need nails/screws for the large or heavy artwork but otherwise they are fantastic and very popular in our house at the moment.

We have two gallery walls and when we did our second one earlier this year, we used medium Command Hanging Strips to hang our Ikea RIBBA frames. I have to say that the job was 100% times easier than when we did our previous gallery wall using nails. The tricky part is that you need to make sure that all the pictures are symmetrical. But, thanks to adhesive strips you have more room to adjust the height/width afterwards. I usually buy them in my second home, Homebase, but many online retailers stock them these days.

By the way, I decided to use black and white photos for our bedroom gallery wall. The frames seem to stand out nicely against beige walls and I love the contrast with black and white. I think it's important to either keep it symmetrical (and make sure the photos go well together) or go for a 'messy wall' and introduce artwork and/or objects to make it more interesting. I wouldn't mind having one downstairs but I haven't quite made up my mind yet.



There are several Command Products available out there from wire hooks to decor tiles. We use Metal Command Hooks in our kitchen which are ideal for hanging oven mitts or kitchen towels. They look contemporary and are incredibly versatile. Command hooks are also great for Christmas decorations and we use Clear Command Hooks to hang up our Christmas socks. Have a look at 15 Brilliant Things You Can Do With Command Hooks. Some of the ideas are pretty ingenious, I must admit!


Our daughter moved into her 'big girl room' recently (I will write another post about this soon) so we have been busy transforming our old guest room into a fun toddler room. Adhesive strips were incredibly handy when we were hanging wall art (light canvases) and I also used medium strips to hang a Hello Kitty door sign to the door. Ideally, I would have used some smaller strips as well but since I didn't have them, I just cut one of them in half. There are clear instructions on the reverse side and it's worth making sure what you are hanging up isn't too heavy (check the weight capacity). Also, make sure the surface you will be using it on is clean and compatible with the product. Vinyl and textured surfaces (ie. wallpaper) won't work very well at all. I wouldn't hang anything too valuable in case it does fall down, although we have yet to experience this. Don't try to skimp on the materials either. I actually tend to use a bit extra to make sure the product will really stick to the wall. I wouldn't try to reuse the strips either as it's unlikely they will stick to the wall long term.

It's incredibly easy to apply the strips. I only used water and a sponge to clean the surface although they do advice you to clean it with alcohol. It's especially important to press each set on for 30 seconds and to peel off the surface just before you are about to hang it.





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Adhesive strips have really changed the way we decorate. I am willing to take a lot more risks now that I don't have to worry about the damage on the walls afterwards. By the way, the strips can be tricky to remove from certain surfaces. I remember that the tape left a yellow mark on painted wood once that wouldn't come off. I didn't want to use white spirit on the surface in case the paint would come off as well but luckily we had to hang another picture on the same spot. I have never had a problem with walls though. It comes off just beautifully and you'd never know any kind of tape was used there. If you're not sure about the material, just read the instructions or do a test on a smaller area first to see how it reacts.

Has anyone used Command Strips or a similar brand? Like I said I have been very happy with them and will definitely continue to use them in our house. If you want some inspiration, have a look at the Command Projects section where you can get ideas from outdoors projects to Halloween celebration ideas. Happy decorating!

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Tuesday, 1 September 2015

NEW EXTENSION DECOR: WHITE & BRIGHT

We built a new extension earlier this year (see before and after pictures here) but the truly fun part has been furnishing our new room. It was also previously empty so I had the opportunity to start from scratch.

Since this is such a sun filled room, I decided to go 'all white'. Well, it's not technically all white. I have used white, light grey and black to give it a modern, chic look. We get so much sun through the velux and the double doors that dark furniture would not be practical at all. A dark sofa would start to fade eventually and it would not complement our white kitchen either. I also had to keep in mind our monochrome dining room. I really wanted all three rooms to work together as one big space.

I must say that I am very happy with the end result! I feel that the extension brings more light into our black and white dining room. By the way, Martyn White Designs Blog  has written an excellent piece about monochrome rooms which you can read here. I particularly love the quote: "Your space should always represent yourself. Never be afraid to use a colour or style because you think it's too risky or may not suit a room".


Looking for the right furniture was nerve wrecking and fun at the same time. I definitely took my time as I needed a break once all the building works were finished. Normally, I'd invest in pieces of furniture that will be used most and I would expect them to last many years to come; sofa, tables and perhaps art. However, since we have a toddler in the house, my priorities have changed. I don't mind splashing out on pieces that I know will last but I also cannot imagine spending a lot of money on an antique rug that might get ruined. I suppose that's my main dilemma at the moment. As long as kids are young, I don't really see the point of 'investing' in furniture. Especially, since I expect them to remain in pristine condition. Having said that, the biggest dents have been caused in this house by adults (mainly me), so I guess children are only part of the problem.

I'm not sure if anyone else is guilty of this but I often find myself obsessed with one particular brand/shop and want to buy everything they are selling. It can be a big mistake as you don't want your house looking like a showroom. I try to shop around as much as possible. I am a big fan of modern furniture but I also like to mix high street brands with ebay and second hand purchases. I find that especially mixing old and new gives a room a nice layered look.

US homeware store West Elm has been operating in the UK since 2013 and I am in love with their entire collection. It feels like someone looked inside my head and created all my favourite pieces. I wanted mostly a neutral palette for this room but I chose the yellow/gold cushions (similar ones here) from West Elm for a pop of colour against the white walls. If you are a marble fan check out their Marble Shop. I am loving their marble shelving with branch brackets. I just need to find a perfect spot for them!



Now, one of the biggest dilemma's for this room was the sofa. Should I go white? Is a two-seater too small? Will a three-seater be too long? All I can say is that measure absolutely everything! Most suppliers seem to have their own measurements for sofas and it was impossible to find a standard size. Luckily, I found the perfect sofa in my old favourite, Dwell. The Paris Sofa is as beautiful in person as in the photos. Yes, it's light grey and perhaps not ideal in a house with children. But, so far (knock wood) we have avoided stains. We have had a few small accidents but the stains have come off fine with a bit of warm water and a drop of fairy (my solution for everything). Any spillages should be cleaned immediately so the stain won't settle. Of course I could also put a throw on the sofa to protect it but what's the point of a beautiful sofa if you don't get to see it, right? I did also look into protective sprays but a lot of them seem toxic around children so I guess it's better to avoid.  The quality of the sofa is good for the price. It won't probably last 10+ years but that's ok. Also, we don't use this sofa as much as the one in the living room so it will probably last longer due to this.



The Malia Floor Lamps are from John Lewis. I have been looking for a tripod floor lamp for quite some time but it was difficult to find one (or in this case two) that don't take up too much space. MADE also have similar floor lamps but they were all too big unfortunately. I think having a lamp on each side makes the sofa really stand out. I wasn't 100% sure about the shade though when I saw it. It gives almost too much light making the room pretty bright in the evenings. It would have been better if the floor lamp would have come with a built in dimmer switch but otherwise I am very happy with them.


Our rocker chair is also from Dwell. I am usually happy with their products but the dimensions online were not accurate this time. I initially ordered the smaller rocker but the width was not the same as in the description. As soon as I saw it I knew it was too small. It looked more like a kids chair and looked way too small next to a 3-seater sofa. I called Dwell to order the extra large rocker (which is currently on sale!!) and it was perfect. Their customer service was fantastic as usual and the new chair arrived within a week. Even though this is a chair for grown ups, our daughter loves it as well. She thinks it's a swing! I never thought how much fun it would be for her so it's definitely an added bonus. It's faux leather as well so dirt can be easily wiped off.



The large canvas wall art is also from Dwell. I got 50% off so I couldn't resist buying it and it also fills that large spot very well. The colours are a bit 'moody' but I prefer to brighten our monochrome look by having colourful accessories. The yellow/gold cushions from West Elm and gold accents in this room definitely soften things up in my opinion.


I knew straight away that we didn't have room for a coffee table. It just wouldn't be practical. Luckily, I am a fan of side tables and find them much more versatile so I decided to get these from Habitat. They were on sale and have been absolutely brilliant! The oak feet match our laminate flooring and I decided to spice things up a bit with the Chilewich Mod Placemat in brass. It's durable and adds a bit of glamour to the room. By the way, our daughter likes to use the side tables when she is eating which means they now double up as kids tables as well!



The Bull Horns Wall Art was a great find on ebay. It was a bargain compared to what high street shops are charging for something similar. I read the reviews and measured everything before ordering and when it arrived I was positively surprised how good the quality was. It's perfect above the sofa and goes well with all the other chrome accessories. Even my husband commented how much he likes it!


The Marble Tray is also from West Elm. I decided to put my favourite flower on the window sill even though I knew orchids don't like direct sunlight. As a result, it did not survive. I love orchids but they are very tricky to care for (especially with my minimal care). I usually buy them in a local garden centre rather than supermarkets.


By the way, few people have asked me where our high chair is from. We got the Loop high chair almost 3 years ago from Mamas & Papas and they have discontinued it now. It is a little tricky to clean but otherwise the functionality and style have made it one of my favourite baby purchases. I find the Brother Max Scoop High Chair very similar to what we've got. You cannot fold it and put it away but because it is so stylish I wouldn't want to do that anyway.



Accessorising the room has been a lot of fun but I don't think it's quite finished yet. I am planning to have roman blinds on the side window and get matching ones for our kitchen which will keep things consistent. I might get some more wall art as well but at least the room is looking more cozy now. It complements our white kitchen and monochrome living room very well which is exactly what I was hoping for. Our dining room also needs more wall art or shelving and I wouldn't mind having some beautiful black and white photos on the walls. One thing at a time though!
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