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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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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Small decor changes that make a big impact

Many people think that they have to spend thousands of pounds on changes to their home to make a huge impact, but it can be cheaper than you’d think. Lots of little changes can amount to something spectacular, making a home far more homely with just a few choice edits. You don’t need to be knocking through walls or re-plastering ceilings; it can be as simple as adding a few choice details to bring your home together.

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Beautiful lighting

Getting the lighting right in your home can make a significant difference to how it feels. If you don’t like a room, consider if it’s because there isn’t enough natural light, or the electric lighting is too harsh. Many rooms benefit from a dimmer switch, the kitchen maybe being the one exception. Bedrooms and living rooms are vastly improved when you can keep the lighting low and sultry in the evening – perfect for relaxing and feeling cosy. Add a couple of lamps or candles and your home will feel all hygge in no time.

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How to create 2 (very different!) flower arrangements using gerberas

Today’s rather cheerful blog post comes to you courtesy of fabulous florist Paula Pryke OBE. I’ve asked this inspirational designer to share her tips for creating displays using colourful gerberas. I’ve found it difficult to work with gerberas in the past  because their stems sometimes go floppy but today Paula is sharing two easy step-by-step guides to create gorgeous displays using gerberas. Plus, you can win a copy of her newly launched book Floristy Now in my competition. I’ve got two copies to give away so read on to find out how you can enter this fun giveaway..!

These happy flowers come in an array of eye-catching and joyful colours. At one time you could only get the regular large size, but over the years some very passionate gerbera growers have produced smaller ones to suit hand-tied bouquets and now you can get many exclusive varieties. There is the double-flowered small Pomponi gerbera and the shaggy Pasta or Springs large-flowered varieties, which are the novelties at the moment. Gerberas have hairy stems and so they don’t like to be placed in deep water as the stems can become waterlogged and soggy. They are very susceptible to bacteria, and so they benefit from having scrupulously clean containers and a drop of chlorine bleach is a good idea. Flower food is also essential for these versatile flowers.How to create a structured gerbera display

Gerbera United are a Dutch company with the vision to breed and produce new and unique gerberas. Their Ambition specials feature spidery-looking gerberas – some were originally called Pasta and some Springs. For this I chose to use their Pink Springs, Orange Springs and the red Pasta Romana varieties. I adore the intense colour of gerberas and over 30 years they have appeared in many of my designs. Now I mostly include them in gift work and contract work, but their colour range makes them useful when flower supply is not so plentiful – they can make a huge impact in autumn and winter. In the main I am a black centre fan, and tend to specify varieties with black eyes.

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Why a new bedroom deserves a new mattress

There’s one thing that people tend to overlook when they’re remodelling their home but it’s also one of the most important pieces of kit in the house. Sure, you want a lovely power-shower plumbed in and brand new flooring fitted. Yes, you’ve had a new oven professionally installed and you’re carpets are freshly laid. But when the time comes to move into your newly renovated home, you’re probably going to take all your old furniture with you (and so you should!) but that might include your old mattress and that’s where I come in.I’m currently doing up my new house and one of the items on my ‘must-get’ list was a new mattress. Alongside a list of tiles, radiators and a new kitchen sink was a mattress. It may seem odd to you that I’ve prioritised this ‘luxury’ item when I still have plumbing to do and new doors to install but honestly my bed is SO important to me that it easily made the list.A bad night’s sleep ruins the following day for me and considering that I spend 8 hours of my day in it, I want it to be comfortable. I often struggle when staying away from home; a night in a hotel might be fun for most people but the mattresses tend to be hit and miss. It’s the same with pillows. My dodgy whiplash neck can be easily upset by sleeping on the wrong type of pillow. And I’m no fun to be around when I haven’t slept well…

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I’m a finalist for the Best Homes & Interiors Blogger Award

It’s been a really exciting weekend here at Cassiefairy HQ because I’ve been shortlisted for an award! I’ve been chosen along with 19 other fabulous interiors blogs (many of which I read myself!) to be put forward for the Tile Trader Best Homes and Interiors Blogger Award and I’d love it if you could vote for me to win!Local journalist Megan Goodwin got in touch for an interview on Friday and by the afternoon an article about the award nomination was already published on the East Anglian news website! The write-up was really kind and supportive, and thankfully they used a fairly nice photo of me – phew!And the following morning things got even more exciting when a friend texted to tell me that I should check out the local paper. It was so weird to see my picture published on page 10 but I was delighted that the East Anglian Daily Times are supporting me in the blogger awards and they even urged their readers to vote for my blog. Fingers crossed!I thought I’d share a quick post today so that you can see the article yourself and to ask you to vote for me in the blogger awards by following this link here. I’m in the list of finalists on the blog award page so it should only take 30 seconds of your time to give me a quick vote! So far I’ve got 20 votes so a big thank you to everyone who already voted. I’d really love to do well in this competition because the winning blogger gets the chance to donate £200 to a homelessness charity. This is a subject that has been close to my heart for many years and I really want to be able to help those fantastic services out there that support the homeless. Thank you all so much for helping me out in this competition – it means a great deal to me 🙂


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Finding low-cost flooring for my bedroom

When I started decorating my bedroom, I knew I wanted to create a tranquil space. I’ve always dreamed of an entirely white room – even when I was a teenager I wanted to create a minimalist room for myself, although you can imagine how un-minimal a teenage girl’s single room is in reality! This project is therefore the culmination of that dream. White, white and more white. That’s what I wanted. Yes the ceilings, the walls, the doors and even the floor.But where was I going to find white flooring that was also practical? I considered carpet, but seeing as I’m a big tea-drinker and a huge tea-spiller I thought that probably wouldn’t be the most sensible option. But I wanted a cosiness in the room so that the all-white box didn’t feel clinical.

After a lot of pinning and researching bedroom designs online, I decided that lovely whitewashed wood grain would do the job. Rooms with wooden floors rarely look clinical as the natural pattern adds a bit of interest to the floor. But as a thrifty gal, I didn’t want to splash the cash on a real-wood floor.

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10 Interior design tips & tricks to maximise your space

We all strive for more space in our homes (just so we can buy even more stuff to fill it!) and it can be an expensive and time-consuming option to move house to get that extra space. I always seem to run out of space – no matter how much decluttering I do! So, what can you do in your home to create more room without having to actually buy or rent a bigger house or build an extension? Here are ten interior design tricks which can really help to maximise the space in your property.

1. Wall space is underrated but people just aren’t making the most of shelving. Shelves can be a lot more stylish than your standard plywood and metal shelf – you could go down the glass route or alternatively, and far trendier, are the rustic floating timber shelves. Build shelving into alcoves (or even put them above doorways – as I did in my last home!) to really make the most of every inch of space.

2. Get rid of any bulky furniture that doesn’t fit flush to the walls – things like dressing tables and standalone furniture that you could definitely live without. House Beautiful recommends that you opt for made-to-measure fitted furniture to maximise your storage and make rooms look cleaner, tidier and much brighter.

3. Downsizing your bed may seem like a disastrous idea but not many bedrooms in a smaller house have the capacity for a king size bed. Switching back to a double will enhance the space in your bedroom. You can still use your cosy king size duvet cover and squishy cushions though, so you don’t need to buy new bedding – just a double fitted sheet for your new mattress.

4. Transform all the seating in your home into storage. We’re talking benches that can open – window seats, ottomans, chests, and more. You can really make the most of where you’re sitting if you just turn it into useable space.

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How to turn your photo into a giant feature wall mural

Have you ever taken a photo and thought to yourself, ”I wish I could print this out lifesize”? That’s exactly what I thought when my husband took an amazing shot of the sea last week. Well, I suppose my thought does have something to do with the fact that I’m currently decorating my bedroom and I’d been looking for some wallpaper for the feature wall.Having failed to find any wallpaper patterns or prints that I liked enough (that wouldn’t spoil the tranquil feeling of my all-white room) I was starting to think that our feature wall might just get a coat of white paint and be left bare.But when I was flicking through my photographer husband’s snaps from our Valentine’s Day walk on the beach, I came across dozens of images that would be ideal for a feature wall. Okay, I’d used a poster to cover my small bathroom wall with a seascape photo in the past, but how on earth can I possibly print out a photo that’s 2.8 x 2.5 metres in size? Continue reading “How to turn your photo into a giant feature wall mural” »


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The next big thing in space saving design

Space-saving design is incredibly popular as it helps people get more out of their home. If you save space, then each room has more room to breathe and looks far less cluttered and compact. Not only does this improve a room’s functionality, but it also improves its aesthetic appeal. When space is tight – as it has been in so many of my previous homes – making the most of the space you have is extremely important. No wonder Ikea does so well!

This folding table turns into a storage cabinet

In this blog post, I’m discussing the next big thing in space-saving design. What’s the growing trend right now that everyone’s crazy about? For many, it’s this idea of transformable furniture. Furniture that looks like one thing, and then transforms into another thing to serve a different function. Yes, it’s the “robots in disguise” of the 21st century! This saves so much space in the home, as you get one object that can do two or three different things. As such, instead of having two or three pieces of furniture, you only need one. Transformers rock!

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you may have seen one of these space-saving cabinets in action because I gave one a thrifty makeover as a ‘baking station’ in my own kitchen. It’s kitchen cabinet that folds downwards to become a table for someone to sit at and eat their breakfast in the morning. A genius space-saving design that’s ideal for someone in a small studio apartment. There’s no doubt that transforming furniture is the next big thing in space-saving design. All of these examples are so smart, and it’s exciting to think what other things we’ll see in the near future.

Dining Room Coffee Table

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Household DIY – How to strip woodchip wallpaper, the easy way!

Stripping wallpaper is a skill I’ve recently developed. Woodchip wallpaper in particular. It’s a difficult paper to shift and, unfortunately, it seems to be plastered all over ‘houses of a certain age’. I guess it was very fashionable at one point but nowadays it’s the number 1 thing that puts potential buyers off a house. And it’s bloomin’ hard to remove. Yes, I speak from experience here! Thankfully there are ways to make the process a little easier and here’s the steps I followed:1. Scoring the paper

Use the corner of a wallpaper scraper to score the wallpaper all over. Don’t press too hard, otherwise you’ll leave marks in the plaster. You can also use the flat edge of the wallpaper scraper to ‘skim’ over the woodchip surface. This knocks off some of the woodchip and allows more moisture to soak in.2. Soaking with wallpaper stripper

Sure you can use regular water to soak the surface of the wallpaper, but adding a splash of wallpaper stripper to your bucket ‘super-charges’ the water. I used a bottle of Everbuild wallpaper stripper and only needed 125ml in a gallon of water. That was plenty enough to soak all the walls of the living room. This means that I’ve got three quarters of the bottle left to do other rooms. Mix it into a bucket of water (following the instructions on the bottle) and use a large sponge to spread the foamy water over the wallpaper. Allow to soak in for 15 minutes – coincidentally the same length of time that it’ll take heat up your steamer.3. Steam the wallpaper

Fill the steamer with water and allow to heat up for 15 minutes. You don’t need an industrial or expensive steamer to do this job – the tool I’m using is the lowest priced steam I could find from FFX – the Earlex Steam Wallpaper Stripper. It gives me 70 minutes of steaming per fill, which is about the length of time it took to strip each wall. Hold the steamer to the wall and leave in place for about ten seconds. Move it onto the next section of the wall and hold in place while you scrap the first piece away.

4. Scrape away the woodchip layer

Use the flat edge of a stripping knife to scrape away the top layer of woodchip. You’ll get a speckled effect on the wallpaper as the bigger chunks of woodchip come off. This allows more steam to get into the wallpaper and make it easier to strip away from the wall. Give the wallpaper a second steaming before moving onto the stripping…

5. Strip off the woodchip

Push the wallpaper stripper tool beneath the wallpaper and lift it away from the wall. If you come across a stubborn piece of wallpaper, give it another blast with the steamer before scraping. I used a Stanley Hobby Stripping Knife to ease the woodchip off the wall.

From this (woodchip walls that look perfectly normal at a distance)

To this (a room that now looks like it should be on Homes Under The Hammer!)

And really, that’s all there is to it! Sort of the same as stripping normal wallpaper, but with a couple of important extra steps – the stripping solution and the scraping effect. I’ve made a quick video (shared below and on my new YouTube channel) to show you the whole process, step-by-step so that you can see exactly how we did it.

If you’ve found this helpful please ‘like’ my video or follow my new Cassiefairy channel on YouTube for more DIY projects and thrifty solutions.

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