Review: Dunelm Mill Solar Black Out Curtains

IMAG1607Hi,

So, about two and a half weeks ago, I told you I purchased some new curtains for our bedroom (read the original post here). I hung them straight away and we’ve been pretty happy with them ever since.

They were in the shade Biscuit – a nice neutral, soft taupe-y beige that doesn’t lean too warm, so will contrast nicely with white walls when we get around to decorating. I definitely think the fabric looks more expensive than the price we paid, it has a slight linen effect weave too it, although it doesn’t feel too soft when touched.

IMAG1490My only slight issue is with the creasing. The picture above is the of the day the were hung. After over a fortnight, the creases still haven’t gone. Although they have definitely eased off, they certainly haven’t dropped out completely which is a shame, as I’m so nervous of ironing them. I did read all the reviews online before purchasing, and a few comments mentioned the creasing, so I was expecting it, but I still hoped they’d fall out naturally. Luckily, a few commenters had mentioned how they’d lightly ironed the curtains with the aid of a pillowcase, so as not to scorch the fabric, and that they’d turned out well, so if the creases are still prominent in another two weeks, I’ll have to take them down and go over them with the iron.

IMAG1608They certainly can’t be faulted on their black-out claim however. Yes, the light peeks in over the top and underneath the curtains, but that’s only noticeable because the curtains themselves are so effective in blocking out the light. The photo below (as poor quality as it is) shows as much.

IMAG1486It is so difficult to take photographs when facing the window. The closed curtain pictures were taken on a reasonably sunny morning, and the open ones, I waited until today for as it’s been another very grey, overcast afternoon here.  It still didn’t seem to help with the quality of the photos, but I figure something is better than nothing!

As my other half mentioned, Summer will be the true test for these curtains, although at any time of year, as our window is North-facing, we never get oodles of sunshine, it’s just the early morning light we were worried about.

As for ease of hanging, I was pretty pleased. They come with good, clear instructions if you’ve never hung curtains before, and it’s such an improvement on the old ones. I more than doubled the amount of hooks and gliders that had been up when we purchased the house, and have the existing curtain track a thorough cleaning and they now draw so much smoother, it’s no longer a hassle. I still think we will change the track to a metal curtain pole when we do decorate, but this is certainly a fine option for now.

Overall, we’re really pleased. My partner scored them an 8/10 and I think I agree – just the feel of the fabric and the fact they’re still creased let them down ever so slightly. But no real complaints, and I would purchase them again in other colours for the spare bedrooms too.

For now, with love,

Ellen

Candle of the Month: January – Yankee Fluffy Towels

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Hi,

It’s that time again; time to find out what fragranced candle I’ve really been enjoying this month.
As I mentioned in December’s post, I find that in the New Year, I like a really fresh, clean scent. Something to really wash away all those warm cinnamon-infused berry aromas of the festive season.

What could possibly be better than Yankee Candle’s Fluffy Towels?

I was given this tumbler candle as a Christmas gift, from my sister-in-law (to be) and I knew it would be the perfect ‘January Candle’.

It’s a beautifully clean, fresh laundry scent. Similar to Clean Cotton, but perhaps not as ‘outdoorsy’. It’s more of that tumble dried fresh laundry than line-dried! In fact, it reminds me of when I was younger, and would stay over at my sister’s house. Whatever fabric softener she used to use on her laundry smelled very similar to how this candle smells!

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The description available online for this fragrance describes;

“The fresh scent of clean towels warm from the dryer with notes of lemon, apple, lavender and lily.”

I can’t say I can detect these particular scents as such, perhaps a hint of the lemon, as the overall effect is just that scrummy ‘fresh’ sense, but I’ll be enjoying it for the remainder of the month, and no doubt into Spring also.

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The scent is available from yankee.co.uk in the full range of options, from wax tarts and votives, to jars and tumblers and car fresheners and vent sticks.

See the range here:

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Coming up next will be a review of the blackout curtains we bought from Dunelm. Stay tuned!

For now, with love,

Ellen

RICE vase

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Hi,

When I bought this vase last September, the product description was still online at rice.dk (although they don’t have an online shop).

I hadn’t heard of the Danish brand before, but when I saw this vase in TK Maxx, I quickly googled them and found their website. There, they state,

“RICE is a Danish home wares and accessories company. We are known for our colourful melamine, handmade baskets and storage, and our hand glazed tableware.”

And I quickly fell in love with so many of their pieces. There’s a big variety of beautiful, pastel coloured, kitsch items, and I especially love their kitchen items. I mean, how adorable is this bunny embossed cake plate?!

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The small vase, which retailed for around £14, was a bargain at just £3.99 in TK Maxx, especially as it was still available full price online. I purchased it because I liked it so much, the colour, the style, the feel of it. It’s from the American Glassware range, and designed as a vase, however, I’ve ended up using it as a toothbrush holder in the bathroom, as it was the perfect size and the colour matched wonderfully with the existing tiles (although the camera flash has wreaked havoc with the colours here).

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The bathroom will probably be the last room we re-do in the house, it’s perfectly clean and functionable, just a little outdated, so for now I’m just grateful it’s at least blue and white and doesn’t have an avocado green suite!

Back to pretty though, here’s a couple more simply gorgeous items from RICE:

MESPO-6SGB_1Melamine Short Spoons

PLCAK-PG_1Cake Plate with DomeMESPL-SIBIR_1Melamine Side Plate

Sadly, the items aren’t available to purchase online, but they do have a very good international store locator on their website where ranges of their products are sold.

If I see any other items in TK Maxx, I’ll be sure to snap them up!

For now, with love,

Ellen

Designers Guild Franchini Fabric Bargain

Hi,

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When I first found this fabric on eBay, I had no idea what it was. I even quibbled about the price of the postage (two thirds of the starting bid), especially when I won the item, and noticed how cheap the postage actually was on the parcel. I paid £12.50 in total for 1.5 metres of the stuff.

A few weeks later, I was browsing the web, looking for inspiration for our new house, and came across this beautiful cushion by Designers Guild. I was simply searching through Google, and found this on amara.com, a website I hadn’t visited or used before. It’s no longer available there, but you can still find the images online.

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I was struck by how similar the fabric was, and on further investigation, I discovered it’s not just similar, but the identical fabric. I managed to score a metre and half of this fabric for £12.50. The stuff retails for around £100 a metre!

It’s 100% pure silk taffeta, in the cobalt and white colourway and I love it. My plan when I bought it (simply labeled as ‘upholstery fabric’) was to cover the seats of two of our dining chairs, and make a matching cushion if there was enough left over.

The colour really is gorgeous. I love how saturated the deep cobalt blue is, and the slight sheen the fabric has gives a fabulous mix of tones when the light catches it just right.

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If I can find the perfect shade, I’d like to paint the chairs in the matching blue first, re-cover the seats, and have them as the two feature dining chairs to the table and it’s four matching chairs (which I’d like to paint white). This project would be quite far off – we will finish the living room first and then, possibly over Summer, I might tackle stripping and painting the table and chairs, but that gives me plenty of time to figure out how best to use the fabric anyway.

If you have any experience of a similar project, feel free to share your ideas and tips!

For now, with love,

Ellen

Dunelm Mill Haul

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Hi,

When we moved into our new house in November, we knew it would be a while before we got around to replacing a lot of things. Although very outdated, and in some cases a little shabby, every room has carpet, curtains and lampshades at least.

Sadly the living room curtains were in such a state, we took them down immediately, and as we’re still working on the room, have not yet put anything up. In the master bedroom, we have been making do with the faded-around-the-edges, golden orange toned monstrosities that are hanging there. Once upon a time they were probably very nice curtains. They look well made and the lining still does a good job of blocking the light, despite being torn to shreds in areas.

The curtain track however is not so great and the gliders and hooks (those that aren’t missing or broken) are brittle and make drawing the curtains at the start and end of each day a bit of a pain.

Once we finish with the living room and look at decorating the upstairs, we will replace the curtain track with a metal pole, and rings. We could have done that now, however we’re not really supposed to be spending on the upstairs until the downstairs is finished.

So for now, I bought some new curtains, hooks and gliders and will give the old track a good clean and hopefully it will bring a bit of freshness into our room.

After hours of searching online, I decided Dunelm Mill was our best option, as it had a good variety of pencil pleat curtains (my favourite, regardless of whether you’re using a pole and rings, or track) and also a decent selection in the size we needed – 90″ wide, by 54″ length. In actual fact, I could probably shorten them a touch – the current curtains are around 47″ long and work well, but I’ll keep them full length until we decorate, choose a pole and settle on the height of it above the window.

My fiancé particularly wanted blackout curtains, and I wanted something in a light, neutral colour. I ummed and ahhed about making my own, and even picked out a nice linen fabric, but it worked out significantly more expensive, so didn’t seem worth it, considering the time involved in making them as well.

I decided to order online, thanks to the 7% cashback through Quidco, and added a few more bits too, partly for the free delivery, partly because I like shopping! I forgot to add a lampshade we’d talked about however, and so ended up going into store that evening anyway to pick it up, and luckily found a better (and cheaper) alternative.

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 The curtains are the Solar Black Out Pencil Pleat Curtains, and I chose the shade Biscuit, a neutral light beige colour that’s neither too warm or to cool toned. I added some gliders and curtain hooks too. The curtains had a £10 discount on them, making them £39.99 instead of £49.99, and even the gliders had a 20% discount, making them £1.59 instead of £1.99 each.

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Here’s the light shade. Originally, I was going to order a string effect one, as I like different textures and the natural effects they can create, however, whilst looking quite natural and golden online, in reality it’s a deepish brown shade and looks more like a paper twine than a true string rope effect. Luckily, as I’d forgotten to order it, and hence went into store, we found this out before purchasing, and instead I went for the cream metal Galley Pendant, a shade I’d seen earlier in the year. That was a steal at £6.39, down from the original £12.99 that I’d very first seen it at.

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I also added a couple of these Tex Weave cushion covers, as again, online they looked to have a very natural, almost jute look appearance to them. Whilst they are very nice, I do think I’ll return them, as in reality they are more of a chenille effect fabric, and despite being well made and expensive looking, don’t go with the natural style of décor I have in mind. They were £4.99 each.

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Lastly, I got this beautiful shell decoration. I’ve seen almost identical ones in TK Maxx for around £7.99, so thought this was a bargain at £3.99. It’s a good size, and will be a lovely display piece.

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I was really impressed with the delivery service too. I received text updates letting me know when my parcel was due, and it arrived just two days after I ordered it.

Except the cushion covers, I’m really pleased with everything, though am yet to properly open and hang the curtains (although I did see the demo pair in store, so know I’ll be happy with the quality). Again, the cushion covers are nice, just not to my taste, so my only negative about the shopping experience was how the pictures online didn’t always do the item justice.

I’ll most likely do a review on the curtains once they are up, and keep you updated with other house going-ons as and when they happen.

For now, with love,

Ellen

Top Picks under £10: January

Hi,

I was inpsired to create this month’s Top Picks under £10 by Pantone’s colour of the year 2016. This year, they’ve gone for two colours – Rose Quartz, that beautifully soft peony-pink blush shade, and Serenity, a pale, almost cornflower hued blue. You can read all about the colours and other shades they work with and the effects they can create here https://www.pantone.com/color-of-the-year-2016.

They’re both much lighter and fresher shades than Pantone have suggested in recent years and I’m a fan of both. It’s definitely a warm welcome following the rich reds and golds of Christmas, and reminds me of some of the beautiful sunsets I used to see when I lived by the coast in South Wales. Whilst they’re colours I may not incorporate into my decor this year, they will most likely make an appearance in my wardrobe and other non-decor related items.

If they are the colours for you and your home, here’s my top nine, priced £10 and under for all you bargain hunting home makers out there.

Rose Quartz & Serenity Mood Board

1. Canvas Cushion Cover – H&M – £3.99

2. Take Me To The Ocean Wall Art – Primark – £3.00

3. Arv Bowl – Ikea – £2.00

4. Fabrina Bedspread – Ikea – £6.00

5. Pink Peony in Silver Vase – Wilko – £6.00

6. Large Blue Flower Burst Vase – The Range – £5.99

7. Chunky Modern Wall Clock – George at Asda – £8.00

8. Chambray Solar Cushion Cover – Dunelm Mill – £3.99 (reduced from £4.99)

9. Rose Bud Boxed Candle Glass – Wax Lyrical – £6.50

(All items available and prices correct at time of publishing)

In fact, I’m really tempted by the bedspread and vase.

There’ll be another Top Picks under £10 in February, and hopefully a Dunelm Mill haul to show you very soon.

Let me know in the comments how you feel about this year’s Pantone colours, and whether or not they’re something you’d use in your home.

For now, with love,
Ellen

Candle of the Month: December – Yankee Apple Cider

Hi,

Wow, it’s January 3rd already, which means there were two months I didn’t manage to get a blog post up on here. I mentioned in the first post of this blog that we were moving house in the near future, and we’re sort of settled in now.
It feels very much like home, but there’s a lot of work to do and a lot of bare walls and barely-even-started DIY processes.

So while I sit here on a rainy grey January day, with bare breeze blocks on show and a ceiling only partly stripped, the Christmas decorations have already come down (what few I put up) and I’m enjoying the last burn of my ‘Christmas 2015’ candle.

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This Christmas, I’ve only burned a single scent – Yankee’s Apple Cider. It’s a deliciously fruity, fairly sweet and spicy scent. It’s not quite as strong or wonderful as my all-time favourite – the now discontinued Pomegranate Cider – but it’s still festive and warm.

I did actually buy three variations of Price’s Mandarin & Ginger candles, as the mandarin gives off a wonderful Christmas clementine vibe, however we haven’t been at home all that much and with the current state of the decor, I haven’t felt the need to burn candles as often as I usually like to.

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Fortunately, I think the Mandarin & Ginger is also a fresh enough scent to enjoy in Spring, and I’m already itching to get burning a New Year scent (and happy to have received such a candle as a Christmas present) so January’s Candle of the Month post (which I’ll put up in a couple of weeks time) will show that off.

One good thing about the last couple of months is I have come up with lots and lots of ideas for blog posts, so I can’t wait to get on and tell you about all the ideas and projects we have planned for the house. Getting the house how we like it will be a long and labour-intesive process, but I’m looking forward to it.

So for now, I’m going to relax a little longer, enjoy this candle and keep coming up with more ideas. Hope you all had a fantastic festive season and a great start to the New Year,

With love,

Ellen