Tuesday, 15 May 2018

HOW TO THROW A TROPICAL GARDEN PARTY

 






It seems that summer has finally arrived, which means it's the perfect time to start planning your summer party themes.

I'm thrilled to be a guest blogger over at the Party Delights Blog today, talking about how you can throw a tropical garden party in your own home with few simple accessories.

Head over to the Party Delights Blog HERE.

* Thank you Party Delights for sponsoring this post.
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Thursday, 26 April 2018

SUMMER BERRIES GIN & TONIC WITH DARTINGTON CRYSTAL


I should probably make it clear from the start that I'm a gin convert. I didn't really know what the fuss was about until I got introduced to Napue, a Finnish Award Winning Gin, last year. I was holidaying in Finland when a very good friend of mine insisted that I tried the Finnish gin (it has won quite a few awards and the Finns are very proud of it as you can tell!) I wasn't a big gin fan at the time so I didn't really have high hopes for it. But guess what? I actually loved it. In fact, I loved it so much that I even brought a bottle home with me and I've been telling everyone about it ever since.

When Dartington Crystal launched their new Gin Connoisseur collection, I knew this was a collaboration I couldn't miss out on. Their timing was perfect as I had just literally discovered gin. I decided to go for their tumbler style gin glasses since I knew they'd be super versatile. Also, I had just recently read somewhere that big glasses can enhance the taste of gin. A bowl shaped glass will apparently help open up the flavours of the gin and the bigger the glass, the more ingredients you can add.  The tumbler style is probably the most versatile of them all because you can easily use them as a whisky glass or with any other short cocktail.

I was actually surprised how big the glasses were. They are the perfect size for gin and are very comfortable to hold thanks to the bowl shape. The quality also feels superb, but then again I knew this already as I already have some glasses from Dartington Crystal. The glasses feel quite thin around the edges (they are fine crystal) so I would never place them in a dishwasher, although they are dishwasher safe. I prefer to clean my crystal glasses by hand and then dry them with a glass towel. The tumbler glasses are also engravable which make them ideal gifts for birthdays, anniversaries or weddings.






Here's my favourite summer gin cocktail recipe..

SUMMER BERRIES GIN & TONIC

Ingredients for 1 cocktail


2 oz of Gin

150 ml Tonic Water
6-8 Ice Cubes
1 Table Spoon of Frozen Summer Berries (mix of strawberries, redcurrant, raspberries, blackcurrant, blueberries)
Fresh Thyme


How to Make


1. Place the ice in the glass (almost to the top).


2. Pour the gin over the ice.

3. Add the frozen berries to the gin. Try not to stir too much at this stage.

4. Pour in the tonic water and gently stir with a straw.

5. Garnish with some fresh thyme.

I prefer to use only few ingredients so that you can really taste the gin. You could also add mint, lime or even syrup to add extra flavour. Personally I feel that an award winning gin like Napue doesn't need any 'extras'. I always mix the gin with a good quality tonic like Fever-Tree or Schweppes Slimlime tonic too. Trust me, it makes a big difference!




I also love using pretty serving trays when we are entertaining. I usually serve some nibbles too with the gin. Roasted almonds go incredibly well with a dry gin. Pairing drinks with food is part of the fun, isn't it?



I'd love to know what is your favourite gin recipe? Do you like to keep it simple or do you like to get more creative with your cocktails?  

* This post is in collaboration with Dartington Crystal.
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Tuesday, 17 April 2018

BEHIND THE SCENES OF AN INTERIOR MAGAZINE SHOOT


If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that we had our house styled and photographed for an UK interior magazine last week. I can't unfortunately reveal too much of the shoot itself (you'll have to buy the magazine in July!) but I thought it would be nice to shed a bit of light on how much work and planning goes into those glossy interior photos you see on magazines. Although this wasn't my first interior magazine shoot (I also did the Style at Home Christmas Tree challenge last December!), this was the first magazine shoot that took place in our home which made it extra special. 

6 months ago the lovely Maxine from We Love Home Blog got in touch with me. In case you're not familiar with Maxine's work, she is an award winning interior stylist, journalist and lifestyle blogger. She also happens to be one seriously cool lady and I just adore her relaxed and totally impeccable (and relatable style). Anyway, Maxine had seen my Instagram page some time ago and got in touch with me to see if I'd consider featuring our home in an interior magazine. Of course it was a massive yes from me. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to showcase all the hard work we've put into this house in the last 7 years. Who knows, I might even share some useful tips for those who are in the process of renovating their home. 


I had 6 months to get my house in-check but things didn't go as planned (I will come back to this later). I made myself a to do list, so that the house would look as presentable as possible for the shoot (it's funny how you need that extra push to get projects completed, isn't it?) This year we got a new carpet for the stairs and landing and even added some coastal art to the landing to give it a nice bohemian/coastal feel. I had no idea whether the magazine would want to feature it but I really wanted to finish decorating this space for myself, not for anyone else.
  


Like I said, everything didn't quite go as planned though, Our bathroom renovation was supposed to start in March but our fitter injured himself at the end of February and has been on sick leave ever since. Since our bathroom reno wasn't finished (or hadn't even started) I knew that Maxine would just have to get creative with it. Which she did to be honest. I was also concerned that some of the other rooms weren't magazine worthy but the good news is that you don't have to feature the entire house. The magazine will pick the inspiring rooms and leave the ugly ones out (sorry husband, your man cave didn't stand a chance!) Also, the stylist will be able to make some small miracles and make most of the space you've got. They will also move furniture around if required (with your permission of course).

So, Maxine and her trusted photographer (David) arrived last Monday at our house around 10 AM. She arrived with loads of props and fresh flowers which was pretty hilarious since I had just bought flowers myself. But you can never have too many flowers in the house, can you? Most stylists will always bring few small props with them that will go with the theme of the shoot. They might not use them in the end but it's always best to be prepared. The cool thing about having someone else to style your house is that they'll introduce different concepts that you may have not considered yourself before. I definitely learned a lot from the shoot by just watching how Maxine styled the house which has given me so many new ideas and aspirations.

From a photography point of view, we didn't have the best start to the day but luckily professional photographers know how to make most of a bad situation. It was raining heavily all Morning which obviously ruined our chances of shooting in the garden (which would have been amazing considering the shoot is for a July issue). Anyway, they decided to shoot the upstairs bedrooms first hoping that the sun would come out later on. The main shoot with people took place downstairs as it was more important to have plenty of light for these shots. Also, my daughters (5 yo and 2 yo) were off school/nursery at the time (it was half term) so I was busy keeping them entertained with snacks and ipads whilst Maxine and David were busy shooting the house. I didn't find it too difficult with the kids to be honest. Or, maybe they are just used to being in the middle of a photo shoot, who knows.


Although clothing isn't really that important when it comes to interior shoots, there are certain colours that you are told to avoid. I was told to avoid black and pick something summery in stead. I also learned from my first professional shoot that bright lights, and flash particularly, wash out features, so you may want to apply a bit more make-up on your face than you normally would, unless of course you want to go for that au naturel look.

So, if you've ever thought about having your house featured in a magazine, I'd say go for it. It's a really great way to share your knowledge and tips with the magazine readers and showcase the hard work you've put in transforming your house. By the way, I didn't get paid for my feature (I think 99% of the time you don't) but it was definitely worth the experience for me.

All the images in this post are my own. If you want to see how Maxine styled our home, you'll need to wait for the July issue. I'll let you know once it's out!

Home Etc

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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

SPRING TABLESCAPE



We had such a lovely Easter Sunday lunch with friends and family few weeks ago and the tablescape couldn't have looked more spring-like either. Creating pretty tablescapes is the most exciting aspect of dinner parties for me, believe it or not. Well, that and chatting to the guests of course! Although I created this tablescape with Easter in mind, I didn't want to make it all about Easter, if that makes sense. I think the table setting turned out a lot more seasonal than intended, but I actually love that. I just know I'll get so much more use out my yellow table runner during spring and summer that I would have been crazy to go for anything else. 

I decided to go for white flowers to balance things out a bit. Yellow roses might have been a bit more OTT, don't you think? I know you're thinking, why not tulips? Tulips are the obvious choice for Easter but personally I just don't think the arrangements ever look that good close up. Especially if you're going for that 'formal' look. I'm definitely more of a roses kind of girl and they last much longer too, so they will always be my go-to flowers when it comes to dinner parties.

I've linked all the products at the end of this post, in case you see something you like!








Product List


Sainsbury's Helsinki Luxe Napkins (available in-store)

Napkin rings (similar)





Brass wine bucket (gifted, similar)

Gold champagne flutes (gifted, not similar but love these)





Small clear vase  (similar)

Table cloth (similar)


Happy entertaining!



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Tuesday, 27 March 2018

EASTER WREATH




Can you believe it's Easter this week? This year Easter literally just creeped up on me. I realised two days ago that it's Easter this week and went into slight panic mode. My husband is luckily in charge of the food this year but the décor/pretty things are my territory. I really regretted not getting a wreath last Easter, so this year I was determined to buy one. We are entertaining again this year and I really wanted to have a pretty wreath on our front door to greet our dinner guests. 


I looked online for wreaths but sadly they are still not that popular in the UK. Luckily, Amazon had quite a few available so I order the nicest I could find that was on Amazon prime (next day delivery). I'm not going to lie, I didn't have high hopes for this wreath. It's pretty cheap and cheerful and I would have probably preferred a wreath with some eucalyptus foliage. But there was no time and the good reviews gave me some hope.

My Easter wreath arrived within 1 working day and in perfect condition. I love the pastel colours and was actually pleased the colours weren't as vibrant as in the picture. However, I didn't like the pink flowers, so I decided to get rid of them. I removed all the flowers and leaves and replaced them with foliage from an artificial peony bouquet Laura Ashley had gifted me a while ago.





I just wrapped the foliage around the wreath (it helped that you could bend the stems) and I also had to trim some of the branches. I also added some white roses to the wreath but ended up removing them in the end. I still can't make up my mind about them. Should I add the roses or not? I quite like them in the wreath but didn't want it to look too busy. What do you think?





I'm pretty happy how it turned out and the DIY part took only 10-15 minutes. I've got to say that I much prefer to work with artificial braches as they bend so easily and aren't as delicate as real flowers.

If you're looking for last minute Easter wreaths, check out this wreath from M&S and this from Amazon (which is on prime). The wreath I'm featuring in this post sold out yesterday, but seems to be back in stock again. It's no longer on prime though, so there's a chance you may not get it in time for Easter.

Happy Easter!

PS.  If you fancy making a DIY wreath from scratch (and have the time and patience that I'm lacking), check out the latest post from Edit By Emily. What a talented lady!
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Tuesday, 20 March 2018

NEW HERRINGBONE WOOL CARPET




I'm so excited we have finally replaced our old stairs/landing carpet. It may have taken us 6 years (I'll explain to you later why it took so long..), but I do think it was worth the wait. Our old carpet was a wool mix and although it didn't look that bad, considering it was probably 15+ years old, it was definitely time to upgrade. I decided to go for an elegant wool carpet with a herringbone pattern and so far I'm loving it. I'm not convinced wool carpets are for everyone though which is why I'm going to give you some pros and cons in this post that will hopefully help you to make up your mind.

So, the main reason why we were stuck with our old carpet for so long was that we realised early on that redoing the stairs and landing would also involve stripping off the old wall paper. You don't want to install a new carpet and then a year later start painting the walls and potentially ruin your carpet. Makes sense, right? It took 2 weeks for our painter/decorator to remove the old wall paper and paint the walls, so you kind of get an idea how big of a job it really was. When my eldest daughter was born, we installed safety gates on the stairs and I knew they'd mark the walls. Then when my second daughter was born I realised that I'm still probably not getting rid of them for a year or two, so we decided to redo the landing and stairs anyway. Having a brand new carpet is worth retouching the paint work and filling a few holes, right?

Here's what our old carpet looked like. It wasn't that bad I guess, but it was old and I wasn't mad about the custard colour either. It was a wool mix and I didn't really see any wear and tear anywhere which is amazing considering how old it was. By the way, our safety gates left a deep dent on the old carpet, so remember to leave a small gap between the safety gates and the carpet so it doesn't get ruined.



And here's the new carpet! I went for a natural 100% fine wool carpet. My dream carpet would have been a natural material like jute or sisal but unfortunately they are not great if you have kids as they don't like any moisture and cannot be professionally cleaned (they are also not that comfy barefoot). I have been eyeing up herringbone carpets for a while now and I found the most perfect patterned carpet on Pinterest, Tuftex silver pruce, but annoyingly you can only buy it in the States. Luckily, I saw the Alternative Flooring Iconic Herringbone carpet (colour gable) in our local carpet shop and thought it looked very similar. I brought home loads of different carpet samples (carpet shops are usually happy to loan them, so you see what they look like in your own home). The carpet shop also ordered me a larger sample (you may have to pay for it, but luckily I got it for free) and then I knew straight away that this carpet would work beautifully in our stairs and landing. It really helped me to see the larger sample by the way. Lighting in the shops is usually brighter and I found that the sample looked slightly darker in our home, which I was happy with. 






We used fitters recommended to us by our carpet shop (it was part of the package) and although they did a decent job, they cut the carpet by mistake. It's hard to see the cut as it's next to the wall which is probably why I didn't complain about it. Also, I only realised this after a few days and had already signed off the paper work. I guess the other reason was that I didn't really want them back. It was stressful listening to all the banging noises as they also fixed some of the floor boards. They also installed new grippers as well and glued the sides of the carpet to the underlay which is a pretty standard procedure with natural carpets. 

Now choosing the right underlay was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. There is so much information out there and every carpet shop told me a different thing. It didn't help that I looked online too, just to find out that it's not so much about the underlay but also what kind of carpet you're partnering it with. Natural carpets tend to go better with a rubber backing as it will hold it in it's place and can be stretched to a tight fit. In most cases the carpet will also be glued onto the underlay or the underlay will be glued to the floorboards like with sisal or jute. I must say my biggest disappointment was that our carpet shop didn't mention to me that I may need different type of underlay for the stairs. Stairs will have to take up a lot of foot traffic, so you'll want something with higher tensity. Since our carpet was quite thin (4 mm), I went for a luxurious thick underlay. If you're planning to get a high pile carpet, make sure your underlay isn't too thick or you may have to cut the doors so they close. I'm not convinced that thicker underlay is always better (it's more expensive too) which is why if in doubt go with what your carpet manufacturer recommends. Thick underlay is supposed to stop the carpet digging into the floorboards, so it will last longer. Some people claim it does just the opposite as it can provide more movement. I'm not sure what to believe. Thicker underlay will feel more luxurious and comfy barefoot but if you wear shoes inside you won't really get to see (or feel) the benefits.

I wanted to keep this post short and sweet but somehow I've managed to write an essay. You see, there are so many different things you need to consider when buying a new carpet. Google, ask friends and visit showrooms. Spend a bit of time testing the underlays and carpet samples. Don't forget to get an underlay sample too and see what it feels like with the carpet on top.

I guess the main thing is that I absolutely love our new carpet. It has transformed our stairs and landing and the newly painted walls help too of course. I should probably add that since this is not our forever house, I'm hoping to get at least 5 years out of this carpet, although I'm sure it will last longer than that. The quality feels just amazing.

One more thing, I do find that the herringbone pattern hides dirt pretty well as I only need to hoover the carpet once or twice a week. We've had it for 2 months now and have already managed to get a stain few weeks ago. Luckily, I managed to get rid of it thanks to the Natural Flooring Care Kit I bought from Alternative Flooring. I found the Host Dry Carpet cleaner (powder) amazing and you can also buy it on Amazon. We also got our carpet scotch guarded but I don't think it made a difference.

Top tips on buying a carpet

- Go for an independent carpet shop as they will usually give you a more competitive price.

- Negotiate. I got free grippers, door bars and free scotch guarding as part of the deal. It's always worth asking!

- Take carpet and underlay samples home with you and do order a larger sample so you get a realistic idea what it will look like.

- Pick a carpet that suits your lifestyle. If you have pets or children, wool and/or other natural materials might not be ideal for you.

- If you're also decorating, make sure all the paint work is finished before you start (also ask your decorator to cut the sides of your old carpet, so that he can paint them and avoid possible gaps).

- Make sure that your floor boards aren't loose. If you have uneven floor boards, a good quality underlay will hide some of the imperfections (although in some case you may need to replace the floor boards with new ones).


- You may need different underlay for the stairs, so do double check that it's suitable and go for heavy domestic rating. Also make sure that your stairs carpet isn't too slippery, otherwise it will be dangerous.

- Buy a spot cleaning kit and get the carpet professionally cleaned every 2-3 years.

- Don't buy a light coloured carpet unless you are willing to do some spot cleaning.

- Pick a style you love. Many people these days want a new carpet/rug every 10 years, so there's need to go for something bland or boring just because you're hoping it will be timeless. Get the carpet you love in stead.

Have you bought a new carpet recently? Let me know if you have any carpet buying tips you'd like to share by leaving a comment below!

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Thursday, 8 March 2018

COASTAL INSPIRED LANDING MAKE-OVER WITH LAURA ASHLEY







Happy Thursday! I'm so excited to share my latest collaboration with you. We recently finished renovating our landing and I wanted to give it a nice coastal feel now that the weather is (hopefully) getting warmer.

I've worked in the past with Laura Ashley and truly adore their accessories and style. I wanted to go for a bright, coastal theme this time, so when I came across their new coastal range I was hooked.

Head over to the Laura Ashley Blog for the full landing make-over reveal HERE!

* This post is in collaboration with Laura Ashley.
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Wednesday, 28 February 2018

DECORATING WITH TABLE LAMPS





When it comes to choosing a bedroom colour scheme, I prefer warmer colours that give you that soothing feeling every time you enter the room. Lighting plays a big part in it as well of course. I much prefer dim mood lighting which is why we installed spotlights with dimmer switches pretty shortly after we moved to our new house. Lighting in the bedroom should be functional too (and within reach), but it should also highlight art pieces or any other decorative items that you have on display.

I've been meaning to get new bedside lamps for our master bedroom for ages. Our old ones were too small and they never really looked quite right (you can see what they used to look like here). There are so many different things you should consider when buying a new table lamp. Think about what type of base will suit the table it will be placed on. Smaller side tables usually look better with a lamp with a thinner base, where as long console tables can look striking with a wider base. Also, think about what size shade you will need. All these things will depend on the room and where in the room you will be placing your lamp of course. 

You may remember that I'm part of Wayfair's Home Experts Programme. Well, this month Wayfair launched their Light & Bright campaign with Endon lighting which is all about how additional lighting in a room can lift your spirits during the dark winter months. Of course I happily accepted the challenge (along with 9 other bloggers) and I knew straight away this would be the perfect time to upgrade our old bedside lamps. Luckily, the minute I spotted the Lessina lamps on the Wayfair website I knew they'd be perfect.





Ok, let's talk about these lamps. Obviously this is not an in-depth review since I've only had these for two weeks, but so far I am finding them fantastic. My only worry is that they look a little fragile (made of glass) and we don't have a good track record keeping glass lamps alive, but I can only hope for the best!

The clear glass base and the faux silk shade are such a beautiful combo. I also love that I can easily change the shade if I ever get bored of the colour (although I don't see that happening any time soon). One of the reasons why I went for this lamp (other than the fact that it looks absolutely stunning) is because it has a touch function. So, you just touch the top or bottom part of the lamp and it will switch on/off. It also has 3 different levels of brightness which you can control by tapping it once, twice or three times for the brightest effect. I tend to use level 3 all the time but it's totally up to you. Dimmer switches are great because it  means that you can control the lighting throughout the day. I felt that the nickel effect lamp complemented our bedroom colour scheme best, although the gold version looks absolutely striking too. Also, the large shade was another factor as I wanted the table lamps to highlight the big canvas piece above the bed as well.

I also love the fact that this lamp is LED operated (our old lamp wasn't and it used to get extremely hot). I really think that LED lighting is here to stay. LED lighting is affordable and practical which is why I don't understand why anyone would like to go back to halogen lighting. I'm also loving the current lighting trends at the moment. There are so many quirky designs to choose from these days that lighting shopping has never been more fun. You could go for a minimalist industrial style lamp or a stunning art deco piece. Retro style lamps are back too and they are available in so many wonderful finishes that you'll be spoilt for choice (I especially love gold, silver and brass). I love that lighting can be used in so many creative ways to highlight our favourite pieces; whether it's an art piece, cabinet or a mirror in the bathroom. Also, remember that good lighting will enhance your decor and hide the imperfections, where as bad lighting will do just the opposite.

Happy lighting shopping!

* Thank you Wayfair for sponsoring this post.


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