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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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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5 Low cost design tips for a smart & stylish home

Do you look with envy at the interior of other people’s homes and think why isn’t mine like that? Style is a question of confidence – the confidence to choose the right things for the right places, without compromising on practicality. With these five interior design tips, you can have a stylish home that oozes with confidence.

Image source: ViSSEVASSE

1. Every picture tells a thousand stories

They do, don’t they? You look at your family photos and behind each one is a story, either a humorous one or one tinged with sadness. Those family portraits and stories are important and they should be shared. But there is one problem with the look of all these photos: the different frames. A boho style – the mish-mash of frame styles, sizes and colours – is difficult to pull off. It can either look perfect, or a complete mess! Like the mish-mash style? Great, but keep elements of the display the same such as not mixing too many different styles of frames and colours. Stick with similar colours and have one photo that is the star of the show and around which the rest revolve.

Want a new look but with the same photos? There are two great options;

  • New frames – get your display sorted with new frames, all the same colour but in different sizes. However, when hanging keep a sense of uniformity by choosing one large photos and then groups of similar sized photos to complement that one.
  • Photos in frames on shelving – we love photo collections clustered on shelving units, create your own glass shelving using minimalist glass clamps so as not to distract from the items in the shelf.

    Image Source: Miami Design District

2. De-clutter and organise

Our homes are stuffed with all kinds of objects but ask yourself this: how much of this stuff do you really need and want? How often is it used? Why are you still hanging on to it? Even if you don’t have a hoarding problem, you will be amazed at the stuff you end up keeping for no apparent reason other than you don’t have time to sort through it all. The time has come to de-clutter, room by room. But, as part of the cathartic process of de-cluttering, you need to create storage solutions. We are not talking plastic boxes, however, stuffed in wardrobes and under beds. We are talking bespoke, built storage solutions that work, are accessible and are stylish. You will be amazed at how affordable bespoke storage solutions are and you will be impressed at just how useful they turn out to be (and stylish too!).

Image source: SofaStoreBlog

3. Order on the eye 

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Spring interior design inspiration – Pastel blue hues

It’s the first fresh sunny day of the year today and, even though there’s frost on the ground, my thoughts have already turned to spring interiors. I found myself on Pinterest looking for pastel colours and design inspiration, despite the fact that it’s still darkest winter and I need the coal fire on to keep warm. Even so, Spring IS coming and we need to start thinking about these things, especially with my home decorating project coming up imminently. So today I thought I’d try to get you all in the mood for spring with some bright and breezy pastel interiors.

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Pastel blue paint helps to bounce light around a room. Photo: Homegirl London Blog

Last year, I styled a spring room with fruity bursts of candy colours alongside my favourite pastel hues. But this year feels different. It feels like more of a grown-up year. Don’t ask me why, but all of the interior design inspiration I see online and in magazines is much more sophisticated than in previous years. It’s all about the light that comes into a room more than the decor, and I believe that nothing can beat bright spring daylight flooding into an airy room. It makes a home feel fresh, yet cosy and welcoming at the same time.blue spring lilving room interior design

Oddly enough, I’ve found that pastel blue hues can enhance this feeling of brightness and freshness without adding that tinge of coldness that is so often associated with blue rooms. Maybe the paint manufacturers have got the mix just right, because all of the pale blue paints I’ve been looking at have felt anything but cold or clinical. Take any of these rooms, for example. They have the bright yet warm feeling of a coastal holiday home, and I certainly associate that with warmer weather and fresh air.

blue bedroom pastel hues

White linens & pastel walls create a very welcoming Spring bedroom. Photo: Stylizimo Blog

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The next big interior design trends for 2017

The New Year is a great time to think about freshening up our homes with new indoor furniture, updated colour schemes and a few of the hottest accessories in line with the latest trends. It’s also the time of year that trend forecasters pull out their crystal balls and announce the home décor trends coming up in the year ahead.
I’ve had a look at all the predictions and here are my picks of the top eight interior themes we can expect to see in 2017.

A photo posted by coshliving (@coshliving) on


Super Natural
As technology becomes more and more integral to our daily lives and developments such as artificial intelligence and 3D printing look set to cause greater disruption, people are looking to nature and natural materials to provide balance. A strong desire to bring nature into our homes and workplaces will see interiors filled with greenery, from hanging pots, to hydroponic indoor gardens planted with vegetables and herbs. Sustainable and recycled materials will also feature strongly, with worn or aged furnishings and accessories. Sofas and designer furniture will be made from sustainable materials;  designers are even beginning to experiment with algae and fungi to develop new products. Key colour for this trend is Pantone’s Colour of the Year for 2017 ‘Greenery’, a bright and powerful green hue.pantone-greenery-colour-pop-interior-design-trend-2017Nordic Influence
Scandinavian style continues to exert a strong influence on interiors with abundant natural light, a sense of space and simple well-designed furniture using natural materials. Natural textures and materials – such as wooden furniture, fur and shearling throws, hides and cork – ensure this look never appears cold or sterile. Bold fabrics and handcrafted accessories are also key elements. Key colours to recreate this look in your own home include white and soft gray with primary coloured accents.sideboard-sandinavian-danish-colour-pop-chair-mid-century-modernRaw and Industrial
The raw, industrial aesthetic is also still a strong influence, with concrete, clay, steel and glass forming the main materials. Again, this suits the trend for upcycled homewares as older items with rust spots, faded colours and patina fit in perfectly. If you’re lucky, you could give your home an industrial look for only a few pounds if you’re able to find disused shop/factory fittings, wooden pallets and rusted metalwork. The key colours for this look are gray, beige, off-white, yellow, white, walnut brown and glints of gold and copper.industrial-interior-design-trend-2017Reflective
For enthusiasts of contemporary furniture and décor, this design theme could be for you. The atmosphere here is soft and friendly, without being overly romantic and sweet. Modern materials and indoor furniture will feature cool mirrored, transparent effects. Look out for iridescent lamps, overlapping coloured glass shapes, shiny glazes, copper finishes, faceted shapes and reflective surfaces. These modern effects are contrasted with the tactility of handmade knitting and crochet to create a very livable theme. Choose muted key colours such as nude, blue, lavender, yellow, rose, turquoise, yellow-green, pastel yellow, peach, mint, lilac and pink.pop-of-colour-yellow-interior-design-trend-2017Pops of Strategic Colour

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Festive gifts that help others – A better-than Fairtrade marketplace

I know you’re all thinking about Christmas shopping by now. Well, I’m ready to get started on my annual gift hunt – I’ve even bought the wrapping paper! In my search for special gifts and thrifty treats I stumbled upon Discovered. This online marketplace recommended to me and I’m glad I took the time to check it out.gold-pillow-embroidered-cushion-cover-gift

I wouldn’t mind owning this beautiful embroidered cushion myself!

Like Etsy but connecting you with craftspeople all over the world, this online marketplace lists finely crafted gifts and homewares. You can discover handmade products by artisans from emerging countries such as India, Morocco and South Africa. But the main difference is that Discovered takes the idea of Fairtrade one step further; you can buy handicrafts direct from the maker.embroidery-colourful-bag-handbag-discovered-hand-crafted

And this embroidered handbag too – can you believe it costs less than £20?

The artisans on Discovered design, create and sell beautiful accessories, bags, jewellery and home decoration items. Every product that is sold on Discovered has its own, unique story and you won’t just find it in any other store. In addition, for every item they sell the artisans will receive a fair price because the supply chain is shortened; from the maker, via Discovered and to you.tea-glasses-decorated-painted-glass-gift

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Pumpkin carving for Halloween – our spooky designs

For the past couple of years I’ve been using pumpkins to decorate my home during the autumn BUT I haven’t actually carved a pumpkin for ages. I made glitter pumpkins last year (with pumpkins I actually grew in the garden – smug!) and a lovely autumnal display on my sideboard the year before. But this year, my love of pumpkin carving was reignited when my brother challenged me to a pumpkin carving competition.halloween-pumpkin-carving-inspiration-ideas-tips-diy-project-5 halloween-pumpkin-carving-inspiration-ideas-tips-diy-projectThe whole family joined in with the competition, with each of us carving a different design on our pumpkins. It’s amazing just how many different ideas everyone came up with, using large pumpkins, mini squashes, stacks of pumpkins and even carrots! I have photographed all the designs and shared them below to provide a little extra inspiration if you’re carving a pumpkin for Halloween today.

My design was (perhaps unsurprisingly) the cat silhouette. I’m sure you could have guessed that without me telling you! My husband’s design was the angry pumpkin eating a mini pumpkin, with spiky nose and carrot arms. We’ve made a similar pumpkin design in previous years, so check out my step-by-step pumpkin carving blog post if you want to recreate this scary squash for yourself. And if you were wondering which pumpkin actually won our carving competition, it was the Barbie-eating pumpkin monster! I’m delighted to say that my cat pumpkin came second, woo!halloween-pumpkin-carving-inspiration-ideas-tips-diy-project-4 halloween-pumpkin-carving-inspiration-ideas-tips-diy-project-3And if you’re looking for quick and easy decorations for Halloween, here’s my flying paper bats DIY video. Hope you all enjoy your Halloween and I’d love to see photos of your own pumpkin carvings so please tag me in your Instagram photos @Cassiefairy or tweet me a pic @Cassiefairy.


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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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Hi-tech touches to modernise your kitchen

If you’re planning a new kitchen – or simply want to renovate your old units with some snazzy new updates – this is the blog post for you. I’ve spent hours trawling Pinterest on your behalf (yes, I am that selfless) to spot some of the latest trends in kitchen design so that you can be well-informed about what’s hot and what’s not in the world of kitchens. And it’s not just about the latest designs and hottest colours, I’ve also investigated those essentials that will lift your kitchen from drab to WOW.kitchen-design-inspiration-trends-2016-navy-blueIn fact, sinks and taps are often overlooked as design features, but really they are the stars of the kitchen. Let’s be honest, no matter how pretty your marble work-surface is, or how brightly coloured your glossy cabinet doors are, you wouldn’t have a well-functioning kitchen without a sink and tap, would you? So it’s important to give these key pieces plenty of thought before you invest. This is one part of the kitchen where the latest design and technology improvements will actually have a big impact on your kitchen, as sinks and taps can now perform efficiently as well as look great in terms of design.2016-trend-inspiration-in-kitchen-design-sinks-and-taps-small-apartmentThe style of your kitchen design and the size of the space you’re kitting out will probably influence your choice of hardware. But no matter whether you’ve a ‘cosy’ city apartment or a totally-covetable farmhouse kitchen, you’re going to need to get water into the kitchen somehow. Interestingly enough, the design of the humble tap has evolved rapidly over the past decade, with a bigger variety than ever available to choose from. The latest innovations include filter taps for fresh filtered drinking water, boiling water taps so that you can make your morning cuppa at the sink without boiling the kettle, and now you can even fit sparkling water taps in your home – just like the carbonated taps in bars. Adding features like pull-out sprays, LEDs that indicate water temperature and water-saving/ flow regulation taps means you’ll have the whizziest tap technology available. Impressive, huh?kitchen-design-inspiration-trends-2016

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Garden rooms – why are they so popular?

After visiting the Ideal Home Show and Grand Designs Live back in the Spring, I found myself coveting a garden room. Why? Because the amazing designs of garden ‘pods’, chill out spaces, offices and outdoor rooms were the only things that really held my attention while I visited these design exhibition. Sure I came away with oodles of inspiration for interiors too, but the garden zones at each of these shows was where I was truly inspired. I popped into dozens of garden rooms during the day, I checked out the construction methods used and I could have practically lived in one special ‘temporary’ garden room. Yes, I was smitten and when I came home from the exhibitions I dug a little deeper to find out why gardens rooms are just SO appealing right now. Here’s what I found: Garden Room office ideas1. They are the ultimate home office space. And I work from home. So it’s no wonder I was so smitten with the garden rooms I saw at those exhibitions. They provided the perfect workspace; a quiet place, away from TV distractions and household chores, where I could work peacefully and uninterrupted. I could store everything I needed in one space, and my paperwork would no longer cover the living room. With electricity and wifi (and a kettle, perhaps!) I would have everything I needed to work efficiently all day long. Plus, my commute would be only about 20 paces away from my back door. Sounds ideal doesn’t it?Garden Rooms floor plan office inspiration2. Garden rooms have multiple uses. I read a news article about the popularity of garden rooms and it opened my eyes to all the uses that a space in the garden offers to the homeowner. Imagine having a cinema room of your own! You may not have space indoors to dedicate a whole room to screening your favourite films, but you CAN build a home cinema in the garden. Similarly, a chill out room, yoga studio, library or photography studio are all possible when you add another room to your garden.

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