Most of the year I want my rooms to look more spacious, clean and bright. But when winter looms, I suddenly get the urge to start decorating in stronger colours and wishing that rooms were smaller and more cosy. Have you ever noticed how snuggly you feel when you’re in a country pub in December? Okay, some of that might be down to the roaring fire but a lot of that feeling of warmth and cosiness comes from the deep colours on the walls and the dark wood furniture. So today, I’m taking interior inspiration from some gorgeously designed dark rooms in order to recreate a cosy feeling at home.Where in your home do you want to feel warmest this winter? It’s a safe bet that you’d love to have a cosy living room. It’s one room where you’ll be spending more time during winter evenings. In the summer the bright kitchen with patio doors flung open onto the garden seems like a lovely place to spend long summer evenings, but in the winter the tiled floor and lack of soft furnishings can feel too cold. This is precisely why I prefer to cosy up in the living room on dark winter evenings. And this is one room where you can really go for it with darker colours.Walls can be painted in muted tones of dark red, purple, denim or green. These colours will make the walls feel closer and the room, although appearing smaller, will gain a warmer atmosphere. Deeper shades offer a ‘heritage’ look during the day and you can benefit from the cosy feeling in the evenings all year round. There’s no need to cover every surface with dark paint however; simply painting up to a picture rail will actually give the impression of extra height in a room when combined with a pale colour above. Quality carpets add cosiness to cold floorboards and can add a feeling of warmth underfoot without going the whole hog painting walls. Darker carpets offer a feeling of opulence and are less likely to show up stains and muddy footprints over the years!Next up is the bedroom. Of course you want to feel warm and safe in your bedroom so deep colours will help you feel cocooned at night. Deep tones can actually help you sleep better because the room will appear darker and more like night-time even when it’s light outside. If you want to take advantage of this, avoid warm colours which encourage creative activity and plump for deep blues and muted greens instead which create a calming, serene environment. Choose matt paints for the bedroom as colours appear softer and more restful when they are flatter as they absorb more light.So what do you think? Will you consider decorating your home in darker tones? Not only will rooms feel more cosy during the winter, but they will continue to be warm and snuggly in the evenings, and may help you sleep more soundly, all year round. Okay, when you’ve got small rooms to start with, bold rich colours might make spaces feel oppressive but you don’t need to decorate every wall – just one richly toned feature wall will make all the difference to your home this winter. Let me know what you think of this trend and get in touch if you too have deep colours in your home – tweet me your photos to @cassiefairy.
When your home is stylish and comfortable it’s great to come back from a hard day at the office, kick your shoes off and relax. You can chill on the sofa and feel a sense of harmony when you look around. But what happens if you have dogs, cats, or other pets that shed hair, leave muddy footprints all over the place, and generally create mess wherever they go? Is pet ownership compatible with a nice home – or are you forever doomed to living in a state of chaos?A pet-friendly home Dogs and cats don’t care what your home looks like, but there are some things you should do to make sure it is more comfortable for them. Floors are a good case in point. Dogs find it hard to walk on slippery floors, so super smooth laminates or tiled floors can be tricky for them to navigate, particularly at high-speed – their back-legs tend to over-take them! Our cats aren’t very stable on the tiled kitchen floor so we’ve put down a rug to make the room more accessible for them. Just imagine if a dog or cat comes running down a hallway too fast and the floor is slippery – they will probably lose their balance and fall over, potentially hurting themselves and leading to a vet’s bill. The other issue is colour. Pristine white or cream carpets and soft furnishings look fantastic, but are not pet friendly. Imagine how upset you would be if your new puppy came bounding in from a muddy walk and left black mud marks all over the white carpet before jumping on to your new cream sofa. The best solution is to choose pet-friendly soft furnishings in darker colours and easy-to-clean fabrics instead. We have a brown leather sofa that the cats can’t do too much damage to!Coping with pet hair Pet hair is a major problem if you own a long-haired dog or cat. It gets everywhere and no matter how fastidious you are at cleaning up, there will always be some pet hair floating around. The best way to keep on top of pet hair is to invest in a good quality vacuum cleaner (we got one with a specific pet-hair cleaning head) and vacuum at least once a day. Yes, it is time consuming, but if you want your home to stay clean and tidy, daily vacuuming is the only option.Keep surfaces clean If you have cats, try and keep them out of the kitchen where possible. Cats have no respect for kitchen surfaces and will happily trample all over your worktop without a care in the world. For this reason, always clean kitchen worktops and other surfaces thoroughly before you prepare food or sit down to eat at the kitchen table.You can have a beautiful home if you own pets, but it takes more work, so before you look at adopting a cat or browsing pure bred pups for sale at www.flpuppiesonline.com consider whether you would mind living with a bit of untidiness or mess. Pets don’t take their shoes off when they come indoors! They chew and leave hair behind wherever they go, so if you suspect that this behaviour will stress you out completely, think about whether it would be easier to buy a goldfish instead!
With my kitchen decorating project nearly complete, my thoughts have turned to some more serious DIY projects – specifically the plumbing. Everything is working well in that department at the moment but I really do like the idea of adding a new kitchen sink to the room. My existing stainless steel sink and draining board is not looking great. I think it’s the original sink from when the house was built so it’s got a few bumps, dents and scratches over the years. I’d really love to finish off my kitchen remodelling project with a new sink – but something a little different this time.
I did some research online to discover the types of sinks available. I always thought that I’d love to have a country-style ceramic butler sink. I found a double butler sink that I really love (photo above from PlumbTile). Unfortunately I don’t think I can fit two sinks in the place of my one sink (the room is small enough as it is!) and I can imagine stacking lots of washing up in one sink and leaving it for longer than I normally would, just because it’s out of sight!
I therefore carried on searching for other options and came across these space-saving round sinks. Often used in catering situations and behind bars, these sinks will take up less space in my kitchen and give me some more (much needed!) worktop space for food preparation. I also particularly like the darker colours of the sinks in the photos above and would definitely consider having a bronze coloured sink in my kitchen.
With Christmas just around the corner I will probably delay any more DIY projects until after the new year. I want to be ready to start decorating as soon as I get the urge so it makes sense to browse kitchen designs now and take advantage of January sales! As I didn’t do anything to the tiled splashback while we were decorating back in the summer, I also want to update with some new ceramic tiles. I’ve noticed a theme running through all the kitchen photos I’ve been pinning on Pinterest – I really like black tiles! This will look cute with my existing chalkboard walls so I’m definitely planning to invest in a new splashback soon.
Let me know what you think of my ideas for a new kitchen sink and send me your photos if you too have a something a little different in your kitchen – tweet me your pics to @Cassiefairy.
As I’m sat at my computer writing this blog post there is actually frost on the ground, I needed to defrost my car this morning, and I’ve got the fire blazing in the living room. It’s definitely feeling wintery out there and that can only mean one thing; time for some new winter essentials.
I try not to splash out too much on new clothing during the year. My thrifty nature ensures that I always ask myself ‘do I really need it?’ before buying something new and often the answer is no. I can go for months without buying myself something new and my jeans usually get holes in them before I consider upgrading! Even so, there are some essentials that I can’t live without each year, and it’s usually around autumn/winter that I start thinking about adding a few cosy items to my wardrobe.
Firstly, I picked up a couple of jumpers from House of Fraser. Every year, when the temperature drops, I look in my wardrobe and say to myself ‘I have no jumpers’. I don’t know where they disappear to during the year, but all I can find is 3/4 length sleeved cardigans and they just won’t cut it on chilly winter mornings. So I decided on two fail-safe cosy jumpers to add to my winter wardrobe.
This super-cute fox intarsia jumper in navy blue is ideal for casual wear with jeans and is currently discounted online. It’s kind-of festive without being an all-out Christmas jumper. Not to mention that it’s the softest top I’ve ever worn. Seriously, it’s the kind of jumper that makes people want to hug you! I also wanted something smart enough for work so I browsed the sale section and chose a simple burgundy jumper (my signature winter colour!) with a little sparkly beaded detail around the neckline. I thought this would make a great Christmas meal outfit and take me from day-to-night for festive drinks.
While browsing online I found this floral dress at Blue Vanilla. The pattern grabbed my attention because it’s nothing like any of the dresses I already own, and I love an over-sized floral print! When I looked more closely I discovered the perfect cinched-in waist (that actually makes me look like I have a shape!), casual side pockets, a not-too-short-but-not-too-long skirt length and capped sleeves. Essentially, it was everything I look for in a dress and when it arrived, it actually fit me! I’m so used to having to send things back because I’m not sure of my size when shopping online but this one matched the measurements perfectly, as if it had been made for me. So, as you can probably guess, I’m pretty confident that I’ll get a lot of wear out of it.
I could team it with opaque tights, black knee-high boots and a cosy over-sized cardigan for a casual work look or dress it up with sparkly heels and jewellery for a night out. It’s definitely an office-party head-turner for Christmas, and because it’s not too short, it looks classy yet undeniably “dressed-up”. I’ve got a wedding coming up in the early spring too, so it may be a winner for that occasion too.
One obvious essential on frost mornings is a big, snuggly winter coat. I’ve been wearing the same coat for the past few years but some of the buttons have pinged off and it’s looking rather bobbly so I’ve decided to invest. I wanted to choose a new coat that would last me for a good few years and keep me warm all winter long. For bigger investment pieces like this my thriftiness comes out in terms of ‘cost-per-wear’. If I know that a coat is well made, warm and covers all eventualities (autumn days, winter snow, spring rain etc) then I know that I’ll get a lot of wear out of it. This year I put together a wish list of everything that a coat should be; wool, with a hood, funnel neck for warmth and preferably in a ‘go-with-everything’ colour like navy blue. While I was searching for my ideal jumpers in House of Fraser, I found this Dickins & Jones duffle coat that ticked all the boxes. What do you think? Looks pretty snuggly, huh?!
As my thoughts turned to Christmas I decided that a sparkly top was essential for Christmas day so I looked around for something cute. I found an embellished sheer top in a delicate nude ballerina pink by Dickins & Jones and fell in love with the sweet peter-pan collar in sparkly beads. The subtle beading in shades of silver, grey and nude catches the light and it’s not just across the centre – there are little sparkly touches all over the top. It comes with a matching pink cami top to wear underneath the floaty top later so it’s a two-for-one really and don’t need to go out hunting for a coordinating vest! I’m planning to wear this tucked into a cute pencil skirt for nights out (festive parties here I come!) and probably with trousers on Christmas day.
What do you think of my 5 essential items for winter? I honestly don’t think I’ll need to do much more shopping between now and the new year, I’ve got every eventuality covered! What are the clothing items that you can’t live without in the winter? And what wardrobe essentials will you be investing in this year? Let me know by leaving me a comment below or tweeting me @Cassiefairy.
Redecorating your home may mean a lot of effort, time, and money spent, but I’ve found that it is still absolutely worth it! Once it’s finished (like my home almost is!) the result is so satisfying and you can create a beautiful interior space for you and your family to enjoy. I always look around for little projects to do at this time of year, to make the house look extra-pretty for guests that visit over Christmas but I think I’ve actually done everything I can!
I’m kind of disappointed that my house is ‘finished’ because I really do enjoy giving rooms a makeover. It’s amazing what a huge difference just a lick of paint can make to a space. Just make sure you research the things you will need to do before you get started; I’ve often needed to nip out to the DIY store for extra bits ‘n’ pieces half way through a job! I find that this slows me down and puts me off my stride so I tend to look for a lot of design inspiration online before I get started.
But you don’t need to go all-out with a huge redecoration project, especially if you’re feeling particularly busy and rushed with the upcoming festive season. There are lots of ways to revamp your home by incorporate just a few things to beautify your space, and here are just few ideas:
1. Going green Simply adding some plants to your interiors, will give you a feeling of relaxation. As everyone knows, plants provide endless benefits to humans. They are not just great for accessorizing a space, they also to balance humidity, clear the air, and reduce actually stress. Adding plants such as miniature Christmas trees and poinsettia at this time of year can actually form part of your festive décor, or chose something that you’d be happy to live with all year round.
2. Mixing it up These days, mixing and matching your home furnishings is becoming a trend. You can mix up textures, colours, patterns or even go as far as mixing pricey antiques with low-cost furniture to make it more personalized. One of the greatest things that make your home unique is because it reflects who you are. Your own style and personality can come across in the way that you decorate your space so start combining your favourite things today! Add a couple of festive cushions or snuggly throws to a room to give it a cosy Christmassy feeling at this time of year.
3. Adding decorative mirrors In order to instantly add more light in your home, you could use decorative mirrors to bounce the light around. Mirrors which are hung across the room from the window helps make the room look brighter and feel more spacious. Additionally, mirrors will reflect the fairy lights on your Christmas tree and look great with a string of twinkling lights around the mirror frame itself.
4. Painting in neutral tones The colours of your walls are essential to the look of your interiors and can significantly alter the feeling of a room. Choose light and neutral colours, such as grey or beige, will give your rooms a more spacious feeling. Also, by painting your walls with light colours, you can be more flexible with the other features you include, such as soft furnishing colours – and Christmas decorations!
Overall, renovating your home is not an easy task but adding a few of the ideas above would make a big difference without too much cost or effort. All you need is patience and creativity to achieve a home design you will definitely love. For more great design inspiration like this have a look at Lend Lease’s display homes in Gold Coast – it’s a great starting point for any project! Let me know what you think of these ideas and share your own in the comments section below.
This week I’ve been rushing around, working hard and getting ready for a special occasion so I’ve barely had time to sit down, let alone prepare a proper meal. We’ve been grabbing food on the go and I’ve been avoiding the kitchen but yesterday I came home at a reasonable time and managed to drag myself off the sofa for long enough to make a treat for my husband and I. Okay, it’s still not a ‘full evening meal’ but it’s a tasty evening snack and something that I’ll eat often now that I’ve tried out the recipe! The treat that I rustled up was loaded potato skins and I made them two ways – one with smoked salmon Primula and sweetcorn (which hubby loves!) and smoked Primula cheese spread with ham (my favourite combination.) I recently got all of the special festive tubes (available in Asda) and I wanted to try out the different flavours in my recipes this month. I’m getting ready for a family Christmas party in December so I’ve been making a few recipes that I’ve never tried before in order to pick my favourites and get my snack-baking up to scratch before then! The loaded skins recipe is great for a quick evening snack (or indeed a savoury party treat) and we already had some left over baked potatoes from the day before so it was simply a case of scooping out the soft middles into a bowl, leaving the potato skins intact. For the first recipe I used a big dollop of the real cheese spread in smoked cheese flavour and diced up some ham. Mix these together along with a little salt and pepper before spooning the cheesy mash mixture back into the potato skins. Arrange them in an oven-proof dish and sprinkle over crushed tortilla chips and a grating of cheddar cheese. The indulgent limited edition smoked salmon cheese actually has pieces of salmon in the cheese so I only needed to add a squirt of the Primula, along with some leftover tinned sweetcorn and seasoning, then mashed it all together. Again scoop into the potato skins, sprinkle with crushed tortillas (or even just plain crisps) and more cheese. Pop the dish into the oven to heat through and melt the cheese until golden and bubbling – it took about 15 minutes in our oven at 180 degrees. We enjoyed the loaded potato skins while chilling out in front of the TV in the evening and even saved a couple to have as cold leftovers later. I think this recipe will be just right for my family Christmas party as a filling savoury treat. Let me know if you have a go at this recipe and send me your suggestions for different fillings by leaving me a comment below or tweeting me @Cassiefairy.
Coffee tables tend to be rather simple, there’s not much more to them than a certain shape at a certain height, so you can really go to town on the accessories in order bring the room together for a unified look. The place where you can be really daring is the rug you use beneath the coffee table. A brightly coloured rug or a strong pattern will draw the eye to the centre of the room and towards your beautifully styled coffee table. I found my retro-inspired rug in the rug category at Habitat and used the grey and yellow colours as the starting point for my coffee table creations. I decided to create three looks for my nest of coffee tables for three different occasions; work, a cuppa with friends and a romantic evening. The first look is my relaxed working coffee table. It’s for those Saturday mornings where I want to get ahead with my work, check a few emails and make some plans for the coming week. So I’ve got out my laptop, planner, stationary and styled up the coffee table with this useful wood veneer tray and metal pen pot in yellow (both from Habitat) to keep everything neat. I need everything to hand if I’m going to be productive – I can’t stand settling down to work and then realising that I need to get up again for a calculator or notepad. I’ve also included a ‘working breakfast’ on my coffee table, with a cool glass of fresh orange juice and a big bowl of fruit. I used a clear acrylic box from Habitat to display my fruit because I’m more likely to eat it if I can see it! The second look is a casual cuppa with a friend. Of course I needed a couple of funky mugs to serve up my tea and coffee so I picked out a couple that coordinate with my retro serving tray from Habitat. I added homemade biscuits and custard creams on my grey ceramic tray (originally a bathroom tray!) that matches my small milk jug perfectly. I wanted to include fresh flowers in this look to make the occasion feel a little more special so I picked some hydrangea heads from the bush in my garden and arranged them in a clear glass storage pot. The final look is for a romantic evening in with a film. It’s mainly styled for serving up food and drinks so I picked out my favourite retro wine glasses with copper films that sparkle in the candle light. I dished up nachos and popcorn for evening snacking in my oven-proof bowls with funky hand-painted patterns. To protect the coffee table I put down a gold placemat. In order to create a romantic atmosphere I dotted around some tealights in sparkling gold holders.
Here are my tips for styling a coffee table like a blogger:
- Go low – bouquets of beautiful flowers should be cut down to a posy size and displayed in an equally diminutive, low vase or jar. The lower height means that you’re not ‘displaying’ a bunch of flowers that you got for your birthday, as we tend to do with bigger bouquets on the mantlepiece or sideboard, you’re simply enjoying the colour and scent of fresh flowers in the room without them being over-powering or the main focal point.
- The rule of threes – I’ve noticed that coffee tables are a great place for showing off collections or your favourite items, but always group them in threes. This creates a unified, curated collection rather than just another pile of clutter on your coffee table. Heck, I’ve even got three tables!
- Books. This is the fun part – pick out your favourite texts, glossy magazines and classy books that you haven’t got round to reading yet and stack them up. Bonus points if they match your colour scheme and are interesting design-related tomes.
- Night time – Consider how your coffee table will look in the evening, as this is when you’ll most often be viewing it. Include some candles to create ambience and choose metallic or glass to reflect the soft candlelight.
What do you think of my attempt at styling up my coffee table for different occasions? What would occasions would you use your coffee table for? Let me know by leaving me a comment below or tweeting me @Cassiefairy.
I’ve got that map-Monday feeling and I want to show you all something I got for my husband this week; a map on a t-shirt. Not just any map – I could actually choose the location of the map and have it custom-printed. Cool, huh?The company I went to for this personalised top is MapOnShirt.com. I could choose any spot on earth and the map would be recreated on the clothing product of my choice – or even a pillow! Fabric is sublimation printed with the graphics of the map chosen (and any text or markers you wish to add) and then stitched up into a classic t-shirt silhouette. I didn’t want any graphics or text on the t-shirt so I went ahead and ordered a simple map of the Suffolk coast. Continue reading “Map geek – Wear your map on your sleeve” »
One of the things I love about old houses are the little nooks and crannies you can use for extra storage. The cupboard under the stairs is always a winning spot and some old kitchens have a pantry cupboard. Our home didn’t have a pantry but we desperately needed one! The kitchen is so small that we only have one full base unit, two half base units and two cupboards on the wall above. Needless to say there wasn’t always room for food and crockery in the cupboards!
We had a look around at other spaces we could use to store our kitchen bits ‘n’ pieces and decided that the adjoining coal cupboard needed a makeover. Even though it was grubby and dark, we decided it was silly to leave it as wasted space when all it needed was a bit of decorating. So, after my husband got rid of any creepy crawlies, I set to work with some masonry paint.
It didn’t take long (or much quantity of paint) to make a real difference to the space. Once each wall was painted we added a piece of board to the floor in order to stick down some low-cost vinyl tiles. Hubby made a shelf with curve cut out of the middle to allow us to step inside the cupboard and reach the higher shelves and attached batons to the wall to support it. Continue reading “Kitchen storage ideas & my pantry makeover” »
At this time of year I want to make my bedroom feel as cosy as possible. But I’m not quite ready to go all-out with a Christmas duvet cover. So what’s the compromise? How do you create a warm, festive atmosphere in your bedroom without turning it into Santa’s grotto? The solution is low-cost, making use of soft-furnishings you already have at home, and creates a snuggly bed that you won’t want to leave all Winter. Here’s how I did it… The key to getting a cosy atmosphere at home is layers. During the summer, the bedroom is all about fresh linens, clean lines and lightweight cotton sheets. But, at this time of year, this type of bedding can feel cold and leave you shivering. So, just as we do with our winter wardrobes, layering up bedding and blankets adds warmth to the bed and gives the impression of a cosy atmosphere in the room. A couple of throws, blankets and even scarves (my blue and grey checked blanket is actually a pashmina from Next!) will add bulk to the bed, and warmth as you pull them up at night. Extra pillows and cushions make the bed look super-cosy and inviting. Add more textures with the pillowcases too; I’ve used all my usual summer bedding here but have added a low-cost pair of flannelette pillowcases in a blue tartan pattern. It feels lovely to rest my head on brushed cotton during cold winter nights. Continue reading “Interior design inspiration for cosy winter bedrooms” »