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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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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This old thing ~ My ‘new’ vintage dress

I’ve been massively inspired by watching Dawn O’Porter’s This Old Thing show on channel 4 for the past few weeks. I know thrifting is nothing new to this blog and I’m sure you all know that I was huge fan of vintage long before this programme was launched, but it’s just given me an extra bit of inspiration where my ideas had begun to dry up. You may remember that I wrote about my ‘sewing block’ a couple of weeks ago and how I forced myself to sit down and start sewing something, anything, to pull myself out of the slump. Well this TV show has also given me a bit of a kick up the behind to take another look at vintage and see what’s out there that I can made-do-and-mend for myself.

Coincidentally, I also went to an Americana day at Horham and loved the experience of visiting the WW2 airfield, seeing all the militaria on display and taking photos of all the gorgeous old vehicles. Again, you probably know by now that this kind of event is right up my street and the more often I visit a nostalgia show or vintage car rally, the more passionate I become about decades passed and I want to wear the fashion of the era even more than ever. So this week my love of all things vintage, my passion for fashion and my eye for a bargain have all conspired to lead me to buy this dress.

I spotted a clothing stall at the Americana day called ‘Inside Cassie’s Closet’ so how could I not have a browse?? And it would be rude not to buy something beautiful from my namesake. I did have a good ol’ rummage through the rails and this one dress leapt out at me. It’s an old Melissa Lane wrap dress from the 70s – a little newer than I usually go for because I prefer 40s and 50s shapes on me – but I really loved the floral print and the style of the dress. It’s also longer than I’m used to, needs a lot of repairs and not long ago I swore off wearing black altogether, but even though everything seemed to be against this dress, I really really liked it.

The fact that the dress had been split under the arms on both side seams actually worked in my favour because I was able to get the dress at a reduced price and I knew that I could repair it myself, it was simply the case of finding the time! The neckline was also rolling outwards so that the seam was visible, so I thought I’d have a go at top-stitching this to see if I could get it to lie flat.

I’m still not sure about the length of the dress because it is calf-length and I know that I look better when a dress falls on my knees – anything longer swamps my small height! But again, I kind of like it being this length because it seems to go with the 70s style. I might take it up if I really can’t live with it, but wouldn’t hem it shorter and loose the pattern around the bottom of the dress – instead I would take the excess length off at the waistband.

So I’ll be doing a bit of sewing this week and I’ll let you know how I get on with my dress repairs!


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Inspirations for my retro living room – vases & flowers

After putting up my retro pattern wallpaper, I thought I had nearly completed my retro 60s/70s-inspired living room, but I don’t think I’ll ever really be finished, especially when there are so many vintage bargains to be found in the charity shops and at car boot sales. This week I was lucky enough to find these lovely (or horrid, depending on your viewpoint) vases. It was perfect timing, because my friend had just bought me some tulips and daffodils as a thank you for making her a fancy dress costume and I only had a cocktail jug to put them in. 

Retro Hornsea pottery vase 60s 70s glass vases vintage floral

So I’ve been keeping an eye out for something suitable to display my Spring flowers in and was so happy when I spotted this rust-brown coloured glass vase (which matches the tumblers I use for tealights) and a brown patterned ceramic pot by Hornsea. I thought it might be a flour tub or biscuit barrel but it didn’t have a lid with it, so I bought it for a bargain price and I’ll use it as a vase instead. Or maybe it is supposed to be a vase or plant pot, I have no idea about this kind of thing, so if you know anything more about it please get in touch and leave me a comment below – that would be great! 

Please have a look at my other blog posts about my project to give my living room a retro makeover:


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Interior Design Inspirations for my retro living room – Christmas touches

I’ve chosen a fairly garish 60s & 70s retro theme in orange for my living room and, after 6 months of rummaging through car-boot sales, second-hand shops and auctions, it’s finally complete. I’ve buffed up a few pieces of furniture and given a new lease of life to items that would have previously been overlooked, or even thrown away (yes, I have picked up things being given away at the side of the road – my budget was uber tight!). And now its time to jazz up my living room for Christmas!

So I’m taking inspiration from these retro homes decorated for Christmas and will be keeping an eye out for vintage decorations, retro-inspired fairy lights, and gaudy tinsel!


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Interior Design Inspirations for a Retro Home: Lighting

Now that I am at the stage of adding the finishing touches to my retro living room, my attention has turned to lighting and I wanted to get a couple of lamps and shades that would compliment the 50s and 60s style that I’ve used throughout the room so far. I’ve been keeping an eye out for a while now and I managed to pick up this glass lampshade from a carboot sale. The orange and yellow glass is great around the ceiling light, casting a slightly warmer glow from the bulb than normal, and the circles look a little like honeycomb to me, so it goes nicely with my bumble bee curtains!

I was delighted when my husband and I inherited a lampstand and shade that grandma no longer needed but it was such a huge ‘over-size’ lamp, at nearly 6ft tall and 2 ft wide, that it was difficult to find anywhere to put it! I love how crazy it looks (like a mad hatter’s lamp!) and its a very chintzy style but its on a teak G-Plan-style chunky base, so now I’ve finally been able to use it in my living room and give it a new lease of life!


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Interior design inspirations for a retro home: Office space

I’ve been working on a ‘makeover’ for my living room since moving in back in May (yes, I know… I’d never succeed on 60-Minute-Makeover!) and I’ve chosen a fairly garish 60s & 70s retro theme in orange, teak and brown with a few accents of blue. Although it’s taken me a while to get to this point that’s mostly due to lack of funds and the need for rummaging through car-boot sales, second-hand shops, auctions and even giving a new home to furniture that would otherwise be thrown away at the side of the road. I’ve buffed up a few pieces and I’m pleased to say that I’m nearly there! The only thing that needs attention is my work-space so I needed to do a bit of research into retro office spaces and here’s some of the photos that I’ve been inspired by from John Lewis, Retro Office and Apartment Therapy.

So I’m taking inspiration from these office spaces and will be keeping an eye out for a suitably retro office chair over the next couple of weeks. I may visit some home/design companies’ social sites as I know ones like Homeclick post a lot of videos and photos there. Let me know if you come across anything that might be suitable!


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My retro-inspired living room – Lego accessories

As you probably know by now, I am slowly but surely funking up my living room to create a kitsch 50s/60s/70s look and, as Lego was invented in 1958 and was the must-have toy of the time, I’ve looked into getting some bright & plastic-y Lego accessories.

This Lego-brick CD player was a gift for my hubby and fits in perfectly on our new vintage teak sideboard. Plus there are extra add-on Lego bricks available including a radio and alarm clock, so that’s a christmas present for hubby already sorted!


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My retro-inspired living room – an old armchair rescued!

I am pleased to say that I’ve got another freebie for my retro living room design project – an armchair that was on its way from a vintage furniture shop to the dump. It didn’t exactly look like this when my hubby brought it home to me; it had a cream damask patterned cover over it which went all the way down to the floor and hid the chair’s legs. When I first saw it, it would be an understatement to say that I was disappointed, in fact I may have even used “urgghhh”. But my husband had already looked beneath the cover and knew that underneath was this lovely original brown and orange patterned fabric.

Okay, I say lovely, and I know that to some people it’s probably even less desirable in this state, but to me it was absolutely perfect for our 60s/70s living room, especially with the orange line running through it. And best of all, it was completely free and I’d previously been looking for a small retro armchair for the living room and all had been out of any kind of price-range that I could afford!

So that’s another item of furniture kept out of the landfill site, recycled and reused in my living room – and that make’s it even more special for me!

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