Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips


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Household DIY – How to install laminate flooring

I’ve recently laid laminate flooring in two rooms of my home and I can honestly say that it was a really easy process. I thought it would take days to install but we were finished within a couple of hours. As long as you have the right equipment – a saw, knee pads and a laminate flooring installation kit (including packers) you can easily lay this type of flooring yourself. Here’s how to do it, step-by-step:Clear away any existing carpet, tiles or pieces of old underlay. Give the room a sweep to make sure you’ve cleared all the debris from the surface, and vacuum the floor to pick up the smaller pieces of dust. If you’re laying the laminate onto a concrete floor you’ll need to start with a damp-proof membrane before adding a layer of underlay.If you’re starting with a wooden floor, you can go straight to laying the underlay. There are plenty of options for underlay out there; foil-coated sheets that insulate the floor, rolls of foam to cushion the laminate or fibre boards – which is the option I went for.This simply evens out the floor so that the laminate flooring will look perfectly flat when fitted. It also adds an extra layer of insulation and, if you’re using it on an upstairs room, it can add a little sound-proofing so you don’t feel like you’re walking about inside a drum, and causing a lot of noise in the rooms below!

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Where to find bedding in mid-century colours

Hurrah! We finally have some new bedding for our new bedroom. After weeks spent stripping off wallpaper, days painting layers and layers of while emulsion to cover up bright peach walls, and even more hours spent laying beautiful laminate flooring, I think it was about time that we got a little reward for all our hard work. And what do you want when you’ve just turned a room into a perfect white cube? Colour, that’s what! Looking back over my last few home blog posts, I think you can tell the direction in which I’m heading with my interior decor. In fact, it’s no secret that I love mid-century modern design – I’ve had teak furniture and geometric patterns in my home for years. But this time, I’m taking the OTT garishness down a touch. I’m pairing simple white walls with natural textures, so that my mid-century design pieces really stand out and take centre stage. The bedroom is no exception. Where we previously had an eye-catching DIY feature wall made from the pages of old books, I’ve now decided that the bed itself should be the feature in the room. I’ve bought a sleek Hygena bed from Argos (which will take another month to arrive) and it’s undeniably mid-century in design. So I already had this in mind when it came to choosing some new bedding.

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Minimalist mid-century modern window dressing

There’s a lovely big window in our living room. It lets in so much natural daylight and offers a lovely view over the garden. In fact, it’s pretty-much the only feature of the room at the moment, so I want to make the most of it. I wanted to give it a sleek, contemporary window-dressing but still wanted make sure that I can still get the maximum amount of light into the room. Here’s what I decided to do…I’ve always hung curtains in the past.

But this time, covering up the window with heavy curtains didn’t seem like such a good idea. As a blogger I’m always on the hunt for natural light to help me take photos so it wouldn’t be sensible to cover up the main source of daylight in the house, would it?! And as much as I love my bumble-bee curtains, I don’t think they are even the right size for the window. I decided that my old curtains will get a new home in the guest bedroom and I’ve invested in a blind for the living room.Pinterest has changed my style.

I used to quite like fussy window dressings. Y’know, blousey roman blinds with floaty voiles over the top. Or blackout roller blinds with thickly lined curtains in the winter. But since I started planning my new home on Pinterest, things have changed. I found myself drawn to minimalist interiors, white walls and rooms with lots of natural light. I started pinning images of shutters, chunky wooden venetians and long, sleek vertical blinds.I wanted maximum versatility.

I wanted to cover my windows in order to enjoy some privacy in my home, but I didn’t want to block out the outside world completely. And I wanted to control the amount of light coming into the room; sometimes too much sunshine is as bad as too little light. So the idea of shutters went out of the window (excuse the pun). Even though the angles of the shutter could be tilted, a solid frame would inevitably block out more light than I wanted. That said, curtains were too ‘open or closed’ for me too, and even voiles seem to make a room darker.

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Norman Foster’s Willis Building in Ipswich – 1970s architecture & interiors

Today’s blog post is rather photo-heavy, but I wanted to share some snaps I took while touring Norman Foster’s famous Willis Building. My husband and I went into Ipswich as part of the Heritage Open Weekend and visited half-a-dozen or so historical buildings that are not usually open to the public. Among them was the derelict art deco style Broomhill lido (currently campaigning to be renovated and reopened) and Freston Tower overlooking the Orwell river.willis-building-norman-foster 20150529-willis-building-40y-anniv-02448Only when I got home did I realise that I hadn’t taken any photos outside the building, so here’s a photo of the Willis Building from the Huffington Post and a stunning long-exposure image by photographer Claudia Gannon of the building lit in red lights to celebrate the Ruby anniversary of the building.

Up on the roof and inside the lobby

The most exciting place for me was the Willis Building. I studied architecture and spatial design in college and the utopian movement was my specialism. I’d been bursting to see inside the iconic Willis Building ever since but, as it’s a fully functioning office building, there was no way to get inside. So when I heard that it was opening its shiny glass doors for two days over the Heritage Open Weekend, I charged up my camera and headed along.

The ‘Green Mile’ corridor and first floor office

Having studied the building in the past, I kind of knew what to expect, but I wasn’t prepared for the scale of the building. Blimey, it’s big inside! With space for 1,300 workers I guess it has to be. And it’s exceptionally colourful too. Visitors are greeted with grass green floors and sunshine yellow walls – replicating a sunny day in utopia. Or the colours of Ipswich’s rival football club. I like to think that Norman Foster was creating an indoor/outdoor office design rather than just goading the locals!

Escalators to the top floor and (just for scale) here’s me popping out half way along the ‘Green Mile’

The colours are including in the building’s Grade I listing so cannot be changed, but why would you want to? The fun colours put a big smile on my face as soon as I walked in. Oddly enough, it’s not overpowering to have such a brightly coloured interior. The usual office furniture, dark vertical blinds and shimmering metal ceilings calm things down somewhat. Would I replicate the interior décor at home? Probably not. But it has certainly reignited my love of all things yellow and I will include more bright accent colours next time I decorate.

On top of the Willis Building and the view of Ipswich town centre

The most exciting part of the tour for me was stepping out onto the roof garden. I’d heard all kinds of rumours about the roof garden (including a kind of half-truth that there was a swimming pool up there for employees to use) when I studied the building as a teen but it still didn’t prepare me for the vastness of the roof garden. There’s space for hundreds of office workers to enjoy a picnic lunch up there. It’s enclosed by a neat hedge (more green) and outside the hedge there’s a track which runs around the exterior of the oddly-shaped curved building. By the way, the glass building was designed in such a curvy shape in order to maximise the use of the whole plot of land available for the build.

The manicured roof garden and the track that runs around the building beyond the hedge

I guessed that the track was used for cleaning the windows (perhaps hanging a platform over the edge?) but I couldn’t be sure. We decided to walk around the perimeter and take some photos of the Ipswich skyline while we were there. In fact, if this wasn’t a rail-track it would make a perfectly good running track for jogging workers at break time, though I can’t be sure that Norman Foster had that utopian ideal in his mind when he designed it.norman-foster-utopian-black-glass-willis-building-ipswich-suffolk-yellow-and-green-interior-office-70s-1970s-9norman-foster-utopian-black-glass-willis-building-ipswich-suffolk-yellow-and-green-interior-office-70s-1970s-3 norman-foster-utopian-black-glass-willis-building-ipswich-suffolk-yellow-and-green-interior-office-70s-1970s-15

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My favourite interior trends – textured seating

You can’t open an interiors magazine or browse through Houzz without being bombarded with beautiful images of touchable textures, and I’m not just talking about soft furnishings. Yes, the texture trend has made the leap over to homewares and furniture too. My favourite of all being the textured seating that I’ve been seeing everywhere. Who wants a chair made of string? I do!interior-design-trend-decor-textured-chairs-mid-century-modern-string-outdoor-indoor-chair-8I think it’s the lounging nature of these chairs that I find so appealing. These chairs are not for sitting at a desk to get work done, nor are they for pulling out at a dining table for dinner. They’re low, they’re comfortable and they’re sold in single units. Yes, from all this evidence, I can confirm that textured chairs like this are solely for chilling out in. They say ‘grab a book and snuggle up’ to me. And I’m happy to do so.

The thing with these textured chairs is that the woven rattan (or cane, or string) is just begging to be made cosy with squishy cushions, knitted blankets and fluffy throws. But, surprisingly enough, these soft furnishings aren’t strictly required to create a cosy corner. The smooth shapes of these chairs are already comfortable enough for lounging. They’re big enough to put your feet up. And the deep low seats enclose you when you sit down so, once you’re there, it’s hard to prise yourself back up again.

There’s one type of textured chair that I’ve had my eye on for ages – the string chair. I’ve seen it time and again, made in rope, metal and plastic – each more comfortable than the next. The mid-century modern ‘egg’ shape wraps around you and is much more comfortable than it looks. Being ‘suspended’ like that gives you a feeling of weightlessness, as every part of your body is supported. You’re sat back at an angle, so there’s no chance of doing any work or watching the TV. You just have to lie back and enjoy having a rest.

The other great thing about textured seats is that they blur the lines between indoor and outdoor furniture. They’re definitely not outdoor seats like the old plastic chairs we used to have in the garden. But the materials they’re made from mean that they can go outside too. So on sunny days why not take your textured seat out to the garden and enjoy lounging in the fresh air? Even so, when they’re in your home, it doesn’t look like you’re camping indoors with garden furniture. No, it just looks like you’ve got a classy design centrepiece in your living room.

I finally decided on a grey string chair from Cox & Cox as the newest addition to my home. It’s inspired by the 1950s Acapulco chairs and I think that the mid-century style fits in perfectly with my teak-filled home. The strings are actually made from plastic – imagine a washing line and you’ve got it! It’s a big chair (more like an armchair than a chair) but it’s an eye-catching design so I don’t really mind how much space it takes up in my home.

I’ve piled on a blanket and cushion and now the chair is my cats’ favourite spot. They actually fight over who gets to sleep on it. My husband and I haven’t had much of a chance to sit on it ourselves. Essentially, we’ve got the poshest cat bed ever!

What do you think of the interior design trend for textured seating? Would you embrace woven textures in your home? Or do you think these chairs should only be used outdoors? Let me know your ideas in the comments below or tweet me @Cassiefairy to chat more.


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1 neutral room + colour = a whole new look

Does your living room look exactly the same from one year to the next? Or could you tell what year a photo was taken just by sussing out the décor in the background? Some of us like to make changes to our décor every year; we like to mix things up, introduce new colours or add this year’s must-have accessories. While some of us (myself included) like to keep things the same; once we’ve settled on a colour, a pattern or a style, we stick with it. We can sometimes go for years without changing our décor at all and only get round to painting a room when all the walls are worn and scuffed. Does that sound like you? Or are you one of the interior trend-setters with a changeable home packed full of new-season designs and pops of colour? If you fancy changing up your surrounding every once in a while but don’t want to spend a fortune in doing so, I’ve come up with some ideas for regularly introducing new designs into your existing décor that won’t cost the earth. And it all starts with a fairly uninspiring neutral base. Positano_roomYes, in order to achieve the hottest interior design look of the year I want you to paint the walls white, cream or even (dare I say it?) magnolia. I recommend a neutral sofa in a subtle grey or pale biscuit shade. I want to see bare wood floors and basic furniture. Sure you can go for design classics like a chesterfield-style sofa or a g-plan coffee table – just make sure the colours are in the same neutral tone as everything else in the room. Everything looking pretty plain now? Good – lets get started.Grosvenor_room_1

Even fresh flowers can add a splash of colour to a neutral room

Now you can start to inject some colour. And I mean, really go for it! Pick a favourite primary shade, bright jewel tone or pastel hue and keep an eye out for accessories, soft furnishings, lamps and even books in that colour. Once you’ve collected a range of colourful accessories together you’re ready to start your neutral room ‘makeover’. Simply throw those cushions on your classic sofa, hang coordinating curtains, change the light shade and add a bunch of flowers. Step back and see just how different your rooms looks already. Newport_room

Use a tester pot of bright paint to update an old chair

If you want to go one stage further, you can paint a feature wall in the colour you’ve chosen. I’d recommend choosing a small wall, an alcove, a dividing wall, or mask off an area – or even just paint the door. The smaller the area, the easier it will be to paint over it when you want to make a change to your colour scheme next year! Why not keep an eye on Pantone’s Colour Of The Year and use this as the starting point for a very on-trend design each year? Painting a small area of bright colour onto the walls is a great way to update the whole room and make a big impact without spending more than just a few pounds on a small pot of paint. montana_room

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Picquot Ware – The Coffee Percolator

Ever since I first wrote about my ‘lucky find’ of a Picquot Ware tea set last year I’ve been inundated with comments, emails and information about the brand. It’s been amazing to learn more about this British company and to read everyone’s stories about their own Picquot Ware collections. Who knew that so many people were fans? The comments section on the original post is packed full of information from knowledgeable readers and I’ve since posted a second article about the Picquot Ware guarantee and instructions, after Lesley kindly emailed me a copy of the original documents. Be sure to check that out as it shows the complete collection of Picquot Ware designs available.Picquot ware coffee pot percolator magnalium-2After publishing this second article, another Picquot Ware collector got in touch with me to share photos of their rare find – a coffee percolator. In the original tea set there is a tall pot that many people mistake for a coffee pot. This pot was more likely to be used for extra hot water to add to the teapot – it is a tea set after all! But on this occasion the pot in question actually IS a coffee pot, and is a particularly rare example. Robyn kindly sent over some snaps of the coffee percolator and told me the story behind it:Picquot ware coffee pot percolator magnalium-5“I bought it as a set about four years ago, on the Gold Coast in Australia. I thought it was from the 70s because of the coffee percolator so I did some research and realized the coffee pot was quite rare. I have not been able to find a picture of another one so thought it would be nice to share these photos. Picquot Ware is still quite affordable and available here in New Zealand so I’ve since bought another set, which I use regularly at our holiday house, and a few of my friends have also bought sets too.” Picquot ware coffee pot percolator magnalium-6Sounds like I need to go on a Picquot Ware hunting trip to New Zealand then, eh?! It’s so kind of Robyn to email these photos of the percolator so that we can all see it and admire the design. A regular contributor to the original blog post, Peter, tells us that only 300 percolators were made before production was discontinued. Picquot Ware discovered that manufacturing them was a “production nightmare” and put a stop to this design. So if you find one, hang on to it!Picquot ware coffee pot percolator magnalium-3 Picquot ware coffee pot percolator magnaliumIf anyone else has further information on Picquot Ware or would like to send in photos of their collection please do email me cassie@cassiefairy.co.uk or leave a comment below. Thanks!


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Map geek + Tips for adding personality to your rented home

Even though we all like our homes to reflect a little of our own style and personality, it can be difficult to make your house feel like a ‘home’ when you’re renting. Of course you can add your own furniture, pop some photos on the mantlepiece and throw down some colourful cushions, but the bare bones of the property – the walls – generally need to remain untouched. So how can you make a room feel cosy, comfortable and ‘yours’ when you’re restricted to magnolia paint and prohibited from wallpapering? Well, my solution is wall-art – and I’m talking some pretty large pieces too!map poster in loft apartment

A beautiful map makes a great focal point

When you can’t repaint a room or add a feature wall, investing in artwork is a great way to add personality and colour to an otherwise bland, rented apartment. Landlords tend to allow framed images to be hung on walls, as long as they are correctly fitted with picture-hooks etc – but don’t quote me on this, always be sure to check your tenancy agreement before you start to drill! If your landlord is happy for pictures to be hung on walls, you can make a big difference to your living space with some wall art and it doesn’t have to cost a small fortune either..!abstract map posters in living room interior design ideasI’m a huge advocate of using posters to change the feeling of a room, to add colour and pattern to a bare wall, or to define a space for a specific use. And we all know that posters are one of the most thrifty pieces of wall art that money can buy – that’s why we plastered our teenage bedroom walls with low-cost posters! But I’m going one step smarter than simply blu-tacking a poster to the wall, I’m suggesting that you frame your posters and even group them together to create a gallery wall of coordinating (or contrasting, for that matter) images.

Create a gallery wall of curated images – isn’t this Mexico-inspired room fab?

And seeing as I love maps so much (remember my Map Geek articles last year??) I decided that a map would be the ideal solution for my living room. No more wallpapering for me; I can make a big impact with just a 120 x 100cm poster and it fills the space above my sofa perfectly. A huge poster of this size certainly gives the room a focal point and ties together all of the colours in the room. World maps are easy – and relatively cheap – to find, and always tend to be the largest prints around. But I don’t only want to stick to traditional world maps – I love something a little more arty and abstract and that’s where the collection at Posterlounge comes in.country and city map posters images

Wall-art makes a great gift too – how about framing a map of somewhere you’ve travelled with your friend as a birthday present? Continue reading “Map geek + Tips for adding personality to your rented home” »


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Interior design inspiration for cosy winter homes

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.dark living room interior design inspirationWhere 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.Dark interior design inspiration red burgundyWalls 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!Dark interior design inspiration blue bedroomNext 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.Dark interior design inspiration blue living roomSo 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.


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Styling a coffee table three ways

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.coffee table styling for work tea and romantic evening-7 coffee table styling for work tea and romantic evening-11 coffee table styling for work tea and romantic evening-3The 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!coffee table styling for work tea and romantic evening-10 coffee table styling for work tea and romantic evening-8coffee table styling for work tea and romantic evening-16 coffee table styling for work tea and romantic evening-9 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. coffee table styling for work tea and romantic evening-13 coffee table styling for work tea and romantic evening-15 coffee table styling for work tea and romantic evening-17coffee table styling for work tea and romantic evening-12The 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. coffee table styling for work tea and romantic evening-2 coffee table styling for work tea and romantic evening-4 coffee table styling for work tea and romantic evening coffee table styling for work tea and romantic evening-3

Here are my tips for styling a coffee table: Continue reading “Styling a coffee table three ways” »

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