Tuesday, 10 September 2019 / London, UK

HOW TO LOOK AFTER VELVET CHAIRS (IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN)


Most people I know (with young children) wouldn't dream of getting velvet upholstered dining chairs. It's kind of a crazy idea even from me, but as you know I like to stand out from the crowd. Technically they're not wrong by the way. Velvet is a relatively high maintenance material and children tend to be quite messy. I read somewhere that you shouldn't buy fabric dining chairs until your kids are 18. How depressing is that? So, by the time you get your dream chairs your grandchildren will arrive soon enough to destroy them. No thanks. I'd rather risk it and get myself some velvet dining chairs right now.

So I went against all the (sensible) advice I was given and bought myself some new velvet dining chairs to go with my new wooden table. My girls are a little bit older now (soon 4 and & 7) and I no longer have to worry about toddlers and babies in the house. They're still kids though and make a more of a mess than grown ups do (obviously). I decided to go for darker colours to hide any immediate stains. Unfortunately they don't hide breadcrumbs or hairs though. Quite the opposite but it's easy to remove them with a lint brush which is the main thing.

I placed the black and white chairs on the tops as my children won't be using them. These are our 'adult only' chairs. They are actually softer than the black ones (they are velvet polyester rather than cotton). I wouldn't dream of buying light coloured dining chairs for my girls just yet. It's not that they can't be cleaned, I would just hate to maintain them looking pristine. So that's why I opted for black chairs in the middle (plus they go with the decor too!)





In all honesty, I have found the black velvet chairs absolutely fine in the last 2 weeks. The worst stain we've had so far was yogurt and it wasn't that difficult to remove. I got rid of the stain with a bit of kitchen roll and a damp microfiber cloth. My kids aren't very messy (or so people tell me) but we are still going to get the odd stain every now and then. But this will happen no matter what material you go for. Our old dining chairs were (faux) leather and they were easy to wipe clean, but showed every single finger print. I had a much more relaxed approach (thanks to the wipeable material) and they never actually looked clean. Having velvet chairs means I need to be a bit more proactive and clean stains when they appear. I don't wipe them daily. I only clean them if a see a mark which is probably few times at the week. I do have to get rid of the breadcrumbs daily though!

Here are some tips how you can keep your velvet chairs clean and dust free..

1) HOOVER THE CHAIRS

If it wasn't for my Miele hoover I don't think I would have had the courage to buy the velvet chairs. My hoover comes with a furniture attachment (although I tend to use it without it as it's more effective). You need to make sure the suction isn't too strong for furniture (it has a separate setting for this) and I do use the furniture attachment for our sofa, curtains etc. The trouble is that it marks the velvet so I prefer to use it without it. Once a week I hoover the chairs but I only do this because I suffer from allergies. I try to keep our house as dust free as possible, so a hoover with a HEPA filter is a must.

2) USE A MICROFIBER CLOTH

I love microfiber cloths and this has been ideal with the velvet chairs. I regularly use a damp microfiber cloth to remove any marks/stains. You should always use kitchen roll first if the seat is wet to get the moisture out. Then I just clean the stain with a slightly damp cloth. I don't even need to add any detergents, warm water works just fine. You could always add a bit of dishwasher detergent for more stubborn stains (remember to dilute it with warm water). The fabric just seems to spring back to normal after using a microfiber cloth. I love it.

3) TEACH YOUR KIDS TO CLEAN THEIR HANDS AFTER EATING

I always have extra kitchen roll on the table for the kids to wipe their hands after eating. Good table manners don't cost anything, so you might as well start them young. 

4) BUY A STEAM CLEANER

I've never actually used a steam cleaner on the velvet chairs but a lot of people swear by it. There are mixed opinion on this online so it's always best to check with your chair manufacturer first. The great thing about steam cleaners is that they can be used on all soft furnishing (curtains, sofas, carpets etc) and steam also kills dust mites which means they are great for allergy sufferers like me. I've added one to my wish list now.

5) CLOTHES BRUSH

This is not a necessity but brushing the chairs occasionally is apparently very good for velvet. It's also a handy way to get the breadcrumbs/dirt off the chair. It's better to use the soft side as some velvets (like silk) can be very delicate. Also, make sure you're brushing it to the right direction where the velvet fibers are woven. If you do end up with a large wet stain, brushing the velvet will help you to restore the fibers after cleaning it.

6) BABY WIPES


A lot of people use baby wipes to clean smaller stains but I personally prefer a damp microfiber cloth. Both work just fine. Baby wipes are probably more convenient though.

7) HAIRDRYER

I bet you're a bit sceptical about this one. Apparently larger spillages and deep cleans require a bit of heat and air. Water can leave nasty watermarks on the chairs which is why drying with a hairdryer afterwards is recommended. I've used the hairdryer method on our light grey sofa but never on the new chairs. I find that they dry fine on their own but you may need to do some extra work with lighter colours/bigger stains.

8) VELVET CLEANER

You could buy a cleaning solution for your velvet chairs or make your own with baking soda. Luckily I haven't had the pleasure to resort to any cleaning solutions yet, so please do it at your own risk or try it on a smaller area first (at the bottom of the chair).

9) STICKY BRUSH

These are handy, especially if you have any pets or long haired ladies in the house. I have one but I don't really use it. It's too much hassle and I usually just stick with my damp microfiber cloth. 

10) PROFESSIONAL CLEANERS

For bigger stains I would always hire a pro. It's so much easier and hassle free and they really can do miracles. It's probably not a bad idea to get them annually professionally cleaned (same with carpet and rugs).

I'm going to be 100% honest with you here and say that velvet is not a carefree material (if that's what you're after). It's beautiful and luxe, but yes it's also more work than leather or wood for example. I do find it easier to maintain than regular flat weave fabrics though. Our light grey couch shows stains and watermarks so easily. If you want a (more) low maintenance velvet stick to darker colours (blacks, dark greys, navy, greens etc) or go for 'clever velvets' that are made of synthetic materials. I find my new chairs so comfy that I don't mind looking after them. They also aren't as much work to maintain as people think. If you think I'm hoovering and dusting them daily you couldn't be more wrong. I have two small children and I don't have time for that. I only clean the chairs when I see a stain and hoover them once a week and that's it. I do think going for darker colours makes a huge difference. I don't know how long they'll last but I've heard that good quality velvet (especially cotton) can look good for decades. Of course the chairs can be upholstered too but whether I still want velvet chairs after 10 years is a different story. Velvet dining chairs are not for everyone but I don't think you should rule them out just because you have children.

What are your thoughts on velvet? Would you consider velvet chairs if you have children?
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Tuesday, 3 September 2019

I'VE BEEN NOMINATED!


It's that time of the year again and I wanted to share the happy news with you that I've been nominated again for an Amara Interior Blog Award in the 'Best Use of Photography' category. Thank you so much whoever nominated me. I don't take it for granted I promise and it's always nice to get recognition for what I do.

If you would like to vote for me or for any of your favourite blogs, please use this link. It's very easy and quick. Just enter you name, email address and you're done. You can vote until 11th of September so you've still got few weeks left. All the public votes will be combined with judges votes which means I really need all the help I can get to get shortlisted. Oh and did I mention that one lucky voter will also win a very cool Sofort camera from this years' sponsor Leica?

Vote for you favourite blogs HERE.

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Tuesday, 27 August 2019 / London, UK

BUYING A CUSTOM (WOOD) TABLE




Although my dining room reveal vol. 2 is not quite ready yet (I'm still waiting for 2 more chairs and a rug, plus some new accessories) I thought I'd share the whole buying a custom table process with you, especially since I've gotten so many questions about it on Instagram. So, yes I have just bought my first piece of custom furniture for our home (gosh, I feel like such a grown up saying that!) and gone are those good old Ikea days. Just kidding. I still like Ikea too! But buying my first piece of custom furniture has been kind of eye opening. First of all, the whole process of getting a custom dining table was fascinating. The best part is that I got to design our new dining table all by myself (with a little help from Will of course).

So, who's Will? I hear you ask. Check my previous post here for details but in short I commissioned  Will from the Urban Workshop to build my dream dining table back in May. So how did it all start? In instagram would you believe. Yes there's more to Instagram than just overly filtered photos and tropical sunsets. I struggled to find a wooden table I liked on the high street and posted quite a few stories about my dining room dilemma on Instagram. Will saw my stories and got in touch. I really liked his work and after messaging about 20 times (I'm hard to win over) I commissioned him to build my dream dining table. I asked him loads of questions and it was his knowledge and attention to detail in wood working that convinced me to go ahead. And I'm very glad that I did by the way..

My experience getting a custom wood table is very specific to dealing with The Urban Workshop but I'm sure the process wouldn't be massively different if you commissioned another artisan to build your dream table.





So here's how it works..

1) Contact Will and discuss your design brief

If you already have a design in mind (like I did) this whole thing is going to be a piece of cake. But Will is also a designer and he can design a bespoke table for you if you haven't quite made up your mind yet. You can send Will some photos or a pinterest board as a starting point. This is also a good time to discuss the size of the furniture (or table in this case) and the materials you're after. Exotic woods are far more expensive than other hardwoods like oak or ash for example and Will can give you different quotes based on your spec. You should also discuss your lifestyle at this point. Do you have children? Is the table going to be used frequently or only on rare occasions? Will can advice you what is the best material for your needs and how to look after the table afterwards. For example we have young children so my big concern was spillages and scruffs on the table. Will ensured me that hardwood (like oak or ash) is the way to go since it can be oiled and protected. If the worst is to happen it can be sanded down and reoiled to remove any marks. Happy days!

2) 3D Design

Sometimes it can be hard to envision what a custom table will look like in real life. This is why a 3D design is a 'must' before you go ahead with the plan. Before Will starts working on the first draft you'll need to pay the deposit of £250. This will be deducted from the final price if you do decide to go with him. All the 3D designs will be in CAD form and you can have up to 2 revisions before it starts costing you more. You'll be charged £50/hour for any additional revisions. I'd personally wait until you know what you want as this could end up costing you quite a bit more. But seeing the design in 3D is super helpful. Make sure to include any chairs you'd like to pair with the table so you can see the big picture before going ahead.

3) Samples

After I agreed on the design Will sent me some wood samples. I couldn't decide between ash and oak and it was super helpful to see some samples in flesh. All the wood samples were pre-treated (oiled) to a type of finish I requested which was very useful. In the end I loved white ash the most. It was a lot lighter than any other wood we have in the house which is exactly what I wanted.

Will also sent me some metal samples for the legs. I spotted the elegant spider legs design on Pinterest a while ago and immediately fell in love with it. I love the contrast of black against white wood which is why I opted for powder coated black metal. The finish I chose was called sand. It's quite matte and very hard wearing.

4) Second payment (50% of the total)

I had to pay the second instalment before Will went to pick up the wood  (the deposit was deducted from this).  All the wood Will uses is sourced locally in the UK. I was very pleased he chose English ash for our new dining table. The table actually consist of wood planks but they are glued together. He finished the table so well you cannot really see the seams at all.

5) Building the table

Building a table like this takes app. 4-8 weeks depending on how many other commissions Will has at the time. This includes the design process, choosing the materials and the actual manual labour it takes to build a table. It took quite a bit longer for me (we started talking in April-May) because I took ages to decide on the materials. If you know exactly what you want it can be done in 4 weeks,  especially if the design is quite simple. Will kept sending me pictures of the progress and I followed his insta stories closely to see where we were at. He is based in central London so it may be even possible to go and see the table in the making if you're London based.

6) Oiling the table

Once the table was built it was time to give it a protective coating. All wood dining tables should be protected before using them. I prefer oil over lacquer but it totally depends on your style and the type of wood you have. The table was sanded down before the oiling and the best part is that this can be repeated multiple times if needed. I was so relieved Will was doing all the oiling as this really determines the shade of the wood. White ash is also often bleached before it's oiled to achieve the light wood effect. Will used Osmo oil on the wood and I think he must have applied about 20 coats of it. I also didn't realise you need to wait 2 weeks before the oil is fully absorbed to the table (and the table is protected).

7) Delivery

Will contacted me about a week before to confirm the delivery date/time and invoiced me the final remaining amount (which needs to be paid before delivery). The delivery is free within London by the way. If you live outside London you may want to get a quote from him first. It took him app. 20 minutes to set it all up as the base needed to be fixed onto the table with screws.

8) Aftercare

If you're buying a custom wood table the chances are that it's a long term purchase, right? Which means that you should also remember to look after it. Luckily my table was protected (oiled) when it arrived but you still need to remember to care for it afterwards. This means cleaning spillages immediately and remembering to wipe clean it regularly with a soft cloth. You shouldn't use harsh chemicals on wood as it can penetrate the wood and damage it. Will left me a leaflet with some instructions which has been very helpful. I also know that if I do have any questions or need to have the table reoiled at some point I can contact Will to get it done. Apparently it's quite easy to sand it down and oil it but since I haven't done it myself I don't really want to comment on it yet. I promise to keep you posted though.


Buying a custom wood table can feel quite risky I get it. I mean you can't just send it back if you change your mind which is why I would not buy one without a 3D design. I was a little nervous too but Wills knowledge and great customer service skills put me at ease. I love that the table is made in London and that's it's made of English ash wood. I also love that I have supported a small local business rather than a big corporation. This is our long term table and my plan is that it grows with us to our next house if we ever move. I don't see myself parting with this table anytime soon (if ever!) but if I do I would absolutely get a another custom table again. It feels so much more personal and unique and I know there is no table exactly like this in the world.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me. Large 8-seater table like this (200 cm x 93 cm) starts from £1425 depending on the materials. Oak is a bit more expensive than ash but the difference isn't huge. Fancier base and colours (gold, brass etc) will also bring the price up so it's worth getting a few different quotes before going ahead. I cannot recommend Will enough. He is very competitively priced and his wood working skills are superb. Make sure you trust the person who is making your table and that they listen to you. You will have to live with the table for a reasonably long time and should love the finished product 100%

I cannot wait to reveal our dining room makeover on the blog very soon!


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Tuesday, 30 July 2019

[AD] HOW TO CREATE A LUXURIOUS BATHROOM


You probably know how much I love a stylish bathroom. We renovated our downstairs bathroom last year and although the process was pretty stressful at times, I couldn't be happier with our new modern bathroom. I truly believe it has made a big difference to our lives. I hated our old bathroom. It was functional but you could tell is was at least 15 years old. It wasn't to my taste either which really made me want to do something about it.

I absolutely love my long baths these days and I'm pretty sure my children and husband would say the same. Bathrooms are so much more than 'just' bathrooms nowadays. They are like little home spas where you can recover and relax after a long day. Creating your dream bathroom doesn't have to be that expensive either. It's always worth shopping around for appliances and investing in those items that matter to you most. It could be a power shower, extra large bath or under floor heating. Splash out on one or two statement pieces that will make your bathroom feel luxurious and stand out from the crowd.

I had a little browse on the Bathroom Luxuries brand new website and I was very impressed by their product offering. They do know how to make a bathroom feel and look luxurious. The best part is that everything is pretty affordable too. Shower enclosures start from £199 which is very competitive compared to many high street retailers. If you like contemporary luxury like me, you'll love their Hansgrohe range. If you're a traditionalist you've got nothing to worry about. The British Ashton & Bentley collection will offer you both contemporary and classic bathroom solutions.


My top tips for creating a luxurious bathroom

1. Pick one main colour



Picking the right colour scheme for your bathroom is crucial. Lighter colours tend to work better in smaller rooms (like bathrooms), although you could always go dark if the space allows it. Deep rich colours will give it a more luxurious feel and  make it feel extra cosy. Don't forget to mix it up with some complementing colours and patterns as well.

2. Don't forget accent colours/accessories





If you're going for a neutral colour scheme, don't forget to add some accent colours for a nice contrast. Although chrome is always a fashionable choice in bathroom design, don't be afraid to pick other accent colours too. Matt black and gold taps and shower heads have become really popular in the last 5 years. I love this Black Matt Shower Mixer.  If you live in a hard water area like me, don't forget to install a water softener first, so your appliances last longer and look pristine.

3. Mix different tile styles

Try mixing different tile styles together for a more eclectic look. Pick one main (tile) colour first and then find one or two complementing colours or patterns. Hexacon tiles look great around the bath walls or the basin. The entire purpose of this is to break up the pattern a bit and bring more interest and depth to the space.

4. Make sure you have enough storage


I don't think you can ever have enough storage in a bathroom. Although I try to be strict with how many products we store in ours, with children in the house it's just impossible to keep the clutter away. Cleverly positioned shelving units and trays will help a lot. If you have any extra space left add some rattan baskets and a laundry basket to the mix too.

5. Don't forget lighting



Make sure that lighting is well positioned and useful. Cabinet lighting is wonderful when applying make-up or shaving. Avoid lighting that is too harsh. In stead, install some dimmer switches that will help you to create a relaxing ambiance during bath time.

6. Go for space saving appliances




If you're a minimalist like me, you'll love a wall hung toilet and wall hung furniture. They make the space look less cluttered and fashionable. They can be space saving too, although you need to allow extra space for the concealed cistern when it comes to toilets. They are relatively easy to install but I would always hire a professional for the job. Also, don't forget to measure absolutely everything before buying any appliances or furniture.

7. Consider installing digital controls

Digital showers are the latest trend in the shower industry. Not only do they make the whole user experience easy and hassle free, they look good too. Digital showers give you more control over the flow and temperature (they take the hot and cold water separately mixing it to perfect temperature) at a simple touch of a button. Having a shower has never been easier and more fun. You could also add some massage jets and body showers to your shower experience.  If that's not real luxury, I don't know what is!

If you have any bathroom tips, feel free to leave a comment below.

* Thank you Bathroom Luxuries for sponsoring this post.
* All images credited: Bathroom Luxuries
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Tuesday, 16 July 2019 / London, UK

MY FAVOURITE COFFEE TABLE BOOKS


How controversial. Here I'm writing a blog post about coffee table books (presumable giving people advice?) and I don't even have a coffee table. Crazy, right? Except coffee table books are not only limited to coffee tables now are they. Nope, you can place them anywhere in the house, ideally near a seating area for your guests. Since we don't have a coffee table at the moment, I tend to display mine on side tables, bar cart and/or pouffes (and occasionally on the book shelf).

If you're not familiar with the concept, coffee table books are (usually) big, hard covered fancy (ie. expensive) books that are meant for browsing rather than for reading properly. They are aesthetically pleasing and usually located near a seating area where your guests can easily find them. They also happen to be super popular right now. They are basically a staple in any pinterest worthy home and I don't see the popularity slowing down either. Coffee table books are a great way to show your interest to your guests and they also work nicely as conversation starters. I once attended a dinner party but didn't know the hosts at all. However, they had coffee table books all over their house and I found them super useful as part of getting to know them.

Coffee table books serve quite a few different purposes in my case. They are part of the decor (decorative) but they also have to be inspirational and beautiful to look at. Thirdly, I try  to pick books that I think my guests will like. I need to work on this more (most of my books are interior related). I love placing them around the house (usually near chairs/sofas) but I love them occasionally on the hall table too. I like to stack quite a few books together for maximum impact (always placing the biggest book at the bottom). I wouldn't stack too many together though. Keep it to maximum 2-4 books depending on the location and style/size of your coffee/side table. Sometimes one book can be enough if it's very thick. Remember to colour coordinate them if possible and it's always nice to add an ornament on top to give it some extra height. You can use anything from scented candles to unusual shaped ornaments. If you don't have a coffee table or side table just use a pouffe and add a tray to it. Coffee table books can really displayed anywhere in the house. Get creative with them!












I've been collecting coffee table books for a few years now. My collection is not by any means complete (is it ever really?) but I am running out of space so I'm really picky about the books that I do buy. Most of them are interiors related. If I'm buying a coffee table book it needs to look pretty but also be functional. I did a little poll on Instagram few weeks ago and I asked people what do they base their decision on when buying these type of books. Well, I was quite surprised by the results. Most people seem to think like I do. They buy coffee table books based on both the content and the appearance. Only 20% said they purely buy them based on the content. It totally makes sense to me. If you are going to be displaying books in your house, you may as well try to coordinate them with the rest of the decor. But there were 5% who said they go purely based on the looks. I found it all quite fascinating. Perhaps I should do more polls on my insta stories in the future too!


Few people have also asked me if coffee table books and children can mix. Well the answer is yes and no. Of course it depends on the age of your children (young ones especially tend to play with everything that is within their reach) but I've always had coffee table books on display even when my children were babies. I think only one book got ruined and it really wasn't that bad so I never ended up replacing it. I've always displayed decorative items on side tables even when the girls were little (unless they were dangerous) and they never showed much interest because they got used to seeing them everywhere. But I wouldn't let having kids put you off getting coffee table books. If you're worried just place them high (on a console table or a book shelf) so your children can't reach them.

Here are my favourite coffee table books (and yes, most are interiors related)

Unseen London

These ones I'd like to add to my collection soon:


I do find a lot of the coffee table books that I have my eye on quite expensive though. They usually range from £30-50 which is a lot for a book. I tend to buy most of mine from Amazon (we have Amazon prime so it's very convenient). Charity shops are also great and you can also find some amazing deals on ebay.



Do you have any coffee table books? If you have any recommendation, leave a note below!
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Tuesday, 2 July 2019 / Madrid, Spain

DESIGN INSPIRATION FROM GM PALACIO DE LOS DUQUES MADRID


Travelling is a great way to gain exposure to foreign cultures and varies interior design styles. I've been very curious about different cultures and languages for as long as I can remember. I've lived in 4 different countries, so I guess it says something right? I always try to do as much research as possible too. Of course the location is important but I also pick hotels based on their interior style every now and then. Trip advisor reviews and images are so important. I'll know straight away by looking at the photos whether I'll enjoy my stay there or not.

I had the pleasure to stay at the stunning Gran Melia Palacio de los Duques in Madrid last month for 3 nights. My husband was there for work, so I decided to join him. I wanted to stay in the centre of Madrid close to all the sights and shopping streets. I looked at few different hotels but it was pretty obvious from the start that the Gran Melia Palacio de Duques was going to be a winner. This was my first time at a Gran Melia hotel (I've heard so many good things about them) and it did not disappoint. The customer service was out of this world and obviously the elegant interiors really stood out for me. 

So, let's focus on the interiors since they pretty much blew me away from day one. I've never been to a hotel that was so 'me' if that makes sense. Ok, maybe the antique paintings are not exactly my usual style but whoever designed this hotel made it all work so effortlessly together. Mixing old and new can be challenging. It helps to keep all the artwork similar, like in this case. The hotel itself is an old 1800s palace, so it made sense to embrace all the original features like staircases, high ceilings etc. Almost all the walls were painted white (very little wall paper was used) allowing the antique paintings (inspired by the work of a famous Spanish painter Diego Velasques) to really stand out. I've always loved the contrast of black and white and they certainly knew how to make most it in this space. The hotel felt very cosy and inviting. More like a home if that makes sense. There were cushions and area rugs everywhere to add warmth and texture to the space.









I also love the use of wood everywhere. The wooden dining tables looked stunning and practical. I cannot wait to get my own custom wood table soon. I would pair the table with similar chairs (with black legs), although I haven't quite decided on the material yet. The black and gold contemporary lighting pendants complemented the rest the decor and worked particularly well because of the high ceilings.




A large industrial shelving unit like this works well as a room divider in bigger open-plan rooms. I love the way it was stacked with coffee table books, photo frames and few carefully selected ornaments. You could just pick up a book and sit down for a coffee as if you were staying at your friends house. It definitely felt more like staying in a palace rather than a hotel. 



Here's another great example how wood can add texture and softness to any space. I love the idea of a wooden feature wall and a built-in contemporary fireplace. I also love that they didn't try to match all the woods. Why would you? It's far more important that all woods complement each other.


This chandelier certainly doesn't look out of place here. The big roof window allow tons of natural light to enter the room, making it appear even bigger. In this case you can only go for a big statement chandelier. I do love all the architectural splendour. The entire hotel feels traditional and contemporary at the same time. They have really got the best of both worlds in my opinion.



Now of course the outside terrace was as pretty as the interiors. You can have your breakfast or lunch here. Mind you it was pretty hot some of the days. I think +33 degrees Celsius is a bit too much for lunch outside, but of course it means that you can go for a dip in their roof top pool afterwards which was super refreshing. We also had dinner in the Dos Cielos restaurant which I totally recommend (even if you're not staying in the hotel).



I didn't take many pictures of our (deluxe) room mainly because I found it pretty basic. It wasn't huge and the view was nothing special. It was a typical city centre hotel room, albeit a stylish one. It was perfectly fine for us during our stay and we didn't really spend that much time in there anyway. We also opted for their red level service (separate check in, deluxe room and access to the red level lounge etc) and now that was worth every penny. We ended up having lunch (tapas) there everyday and it was well worth it. They even had complimentary Ruinart champagne in the lounge, plus soft drinks, spirits, macarons etc. Literally anything you'd want when you're on a self-indulgent luxury holiday. If you're planning to eat lunch out every single day it may not be worth it, but for us it definitely was. Would I stay here with our two children? Maybe, but only when they are a bit older. It's such a relaxing and tranquil hotel that I feel it would be a bit of a waste with small children. If you're travelling as a couple or with work I totally recommend this place. I personally cannot wait to go back and discover more of Madrid next time. 

Does the hotel interior matter to you? If you have any recommendations, leave a note below or comment on Instagram!


SHOP THE LOOK!

Chandelier by Flos
Wooden table by Catalan Italia
Khalida bookcase by Made
Habitat Sophie Oak dining chair
Area rug by Wayfair
Diego Velasquez art prints
Velvet cushion by Laura Ashley

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Tuesday, 18 June 2019 / London, UK

[AD] COLOURFUL WALL ART BY LOUISE MEAD


I've always loved art. Obviously art needs to be easy on the eye, but I also love how it produces so many different emotions in people; happiness, love, laughter or sadness. I've always preferred abstract art (over people or landscapes but with the exception of figurative art). I guess all art is abstract at the end of the day. I love how everyone interprets art in their own way and how it can totally transform a room, if done right.

Art, especially wall art, is one of the most important elements in interior design. It can help you pull together a colour palette and frame the rest of the room. It is often also the focal point of the room which is why it's so important to get the size right. If you have white walls like we do, nice decorative art is a must. I love using art to add a bit of interest, insert pops of colour and even to create gallery walls around the house (we have 3 gallery walls in total). I also love it when people comment on the artwork and explain to me how they view it. It's not just about appearance you see. I love the way art makes you think and see the world differently.

So, I guess you can understand my excitement when the super talented Louise Mead offered to send  me one of her beautiful artworks in exchange for a review on the blog. Louise is an abstract and decorative artist based in Reading, UK. Her artwork is exactly what our house needed. Colour and lots of it. I've always been a bit cautious with colour (I blame my Scandi aesthetic) but I don't mind adding it in smaller doses or in more subtle colours (like pastels). Although colourful prints and canvases are what Louise is most known for, she also sells other decorative items on her website (bags, iPhone covers, coasters, cutting boards etc).

It was pretty easy to pick my favourite print. I loved the 'Bring Me Sunshine' canvas as soon as I saw it on her website. It's a pretty generous size too (30 x 40 inches). Perfect for this spot, don't you think? I love the subtle pastel colours and the bright blues and reds too. Scandinavian style decor is all about well balanced pieces of colour in an otherwise neutral/white home. That's why I wanted to pick a canvas that stands out from all the whiteness. The Bring Me Sunshine canvas does just that and more. Funnily enough it's one of the whitest art prints from Louise but I guess it just means it suits our neutral decor very well.





The canvas arrived well packed and protected. It also came with a sawtooth hook at the back making it easy to hang.  We had to drill some new holes on the wall (it's a different size to our old wall art) but it was totally worth it. I don't have many colourful prints in this house but this may have just gotten me a bit more excited about colour. I love pastels in this art piece that balance out the reds and blues. I love the dripping paint effect that adds texture and depth. I also love how people see abstract art differently. I see a sunset over the sea but my husband sees a mountain reflected on the water. My mother in law told me the print looks like lips. This is why I love abstract art so much. It is open to interpretation in a way that representational art is not.



Although stretched canvases are perfect for a contemporary, minimalist look you could (and sometimes should) consider framing it. I wouldn't necessarily want to frame this type of canvas behind glass, but a simple mount/frame would give it a more sophisticated, gallery-like look. I don't think I'll be adding a frame to it just yet. I quite like this canvas against the crisp, white wall but it's nice to know that I have the option to frame it later on if I choose to.

Are you a fan of abstract art? Leave a comment below or let me know on Instagram.

* This is a collaborative post with Louise Mead Art. 
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Tuesday, 11 June 2019 / London, UK

DINING TABLES: ASH VS. OAK


Picking the right kind of wood for your dining table sounds so easy, right? You just waltz into your nearest furniture store and pick the prettiest wooden table on display. Wrong. Even if you're looking to buy a table in a high street shop, you should consider the type of wood you're buying. Why? Because although wood is durable, it's not totally carefree (what material is?) and you'll want to make sure that the wooden table you're buying a) suits your interior scheme, and b) suits your lifestyle.

You may know from my previous post that I am in the process of buying a new dining table. You probably don't know that I have decided to go for wood in the end. I really want something totally different this time and have finally decided to have the dining room table custom made. The thought hadn't even crossed my mind until Will from The Urban Workshop contacted me via Instagram. He saw one of my (many!) 'dining room table dilemma' insta stories and suggested I have the table custom made. Will has a small workshop in North East London (Dalston) and his work really impressed me. Plus it's really nice to support small businesses whenever possible and it's a bonus I get to design my own table too in the process (with the help of Will of course).

Light wood (especially white oak) has always been my favourite when it comes to wooden surfaces. I just love the look of white oak. It can be quite contemporary when paired with the right legs or totally rustic (with a live edge) if that's the look you're going for. Ash tends to be even lighter than oak which is why it's also a contender. Both are hardwoods and extremely durable (which is important to me since we have small children). I have been exchanging a lot of emails with Will since our initial chat. I've probably bored him to death with my endless questions, but I really felt like I wanted to learn as much as possible about wood before going ahead.

To help with my decision making, Will sent me some oak and ash samples last week so that I can finally make up my mind. I am the most indecisive person when it comes to décor decision. Don't ask me why. I should be an expert by now, right? Half of the wood samples were oak and the other half ash. I definitely preferred the look of white ash over anything else. The only thing I'm still not 100% sure about is the pattern. Ash is more stripey and the contrast is more obvious in ash. The pattern in oak is a bit more subtle and grainy. White oak was the lightest shade but I felt it still looked quite dark next to white ash. If you're a perfectionist like me, it's so important to see some samples first in real life. Getting a custom made dining table is a big decisison and you can't change your mind once it's built. 





I also did some wood testing. I was trying to see how scratch proof oak and ash actually are.  Dents and marks are pretty common in real wood (although the surface can be sanded down and oiled to look like new) and I found that the oak did not show the dents/scratches as much as the ash did. I guess the grain is quite forgiving in oak. Although I could see the scratches in ash close up, you don't really notice them from a distance so it's not something I would massively worry about. By the way, all the samples Will sent me have been pre-treated (oiled) to achieve a desirable shade. I didn't realise that you can lighten natural colour of wood by applying wood oil to it. Also, to achieve a really white shade the wood is often bleached before applying the oil. I find this quite fascinating and I never really understood how the different wood shades are achieved.

Although I'm leaning towards white ash at the moment, Will is kindly sending me few more oak samples. They will be a bit paler than the oak samples he previously sent me. I think we are trying to achieve a similar shade to white ash but with the pattern of oak. It's such a hard decision, isn't it? Both are hardwoods, although oak is marginally more durable. Oak is a bit more moisture resistant than ash though which is definitely a bonus (it's a dining table after all). But ash is the prettier one out of the two for sure, although of course this depends on your personal style. I can't wait to see the samples and hopefully I can make up my mind soon so we can get the ball rolling.

I'll keep you posted!
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