Are Fake Flowers a Faux-Pas?

A lot of people are quite opinionated on fake flowers. A lot don’t care. Within home décor, I think they can be great. Especially in seasonal décor, I like artificial blooms. They add a pop of colour, can be very affordable, and aren’t even necessarily trying to fool anyone into thinking they’re the real thing. They’re just another decoration.

The thing that got me thinking about the subject, however, was wedding talk. Myself and dear Fiancé are in the process of planning our wedding, and inevitably, the subject of decorating has come up! With weddings, a lot dislike and a lot totally adore silk flowers. I can see the benefits. They’re available out of season, allergy-friendly, can be DIY’ed with some basic skill, and most importantly, can be made in advance. Oh, and the options are somewhat endless. But I’m not fooled into thinking they’re ever real, regardless of the price point – and I’ve seen some beautiful (and costly) examples.

I’m undecided with my own wedding. I’m not sure I can justify the cost of real blooms for just one day, and there’s also the stress of them being last minute and someone else doing them. I appreciate that faux flowers can cost more than real, but they last infinitely longer! I do like the idea of potted flowers and plants. They seem a lot more ‘natural’ to me. They’re growing, they’re still alive. I really like that aspect. And as I mentioned with artificial flowers, I like the thought of them being prepared in advance, knowing exactly what they look like and there being no chance of wilting.

Clearly, undecided!

I certainly, however, do NOT think that fake is a faux-pas. I cannot understand some people’s strong aversion to them. Each to their own, definitely, but I don’t think anything as simple as a silk flower can be offensive to anyone! It’s its own thing. It doesn’t have to be a poor representation of a real flower. It doesn’t have to be compared to a real flower at all. It’s not real. It can be enjoyed for being a pretty, silk decoration in it’s own right.

I’ve often incorporated artificial flowers into my Top Picks under £10 posts, and at that price range, there’s definitely no fooling anyone about the fabric of the flowers. But I still like them. They can still add vibrancy and softness to an otherwise dull corner.

Let me know how you think the real and fake flowers above compare. I’d also love to hear  your opinions, especially if you have favourite brands, or species. Or even your reasons for not liking silk flowers. Leave me a comment below :)

For now, with love,
Ellen

White Marble and Silver Mini Haul

IMAG2020I’ve been a little quiet recently regarding working on the house, and that’s because it’s just going so slowly. We’re working away, as and when we can, and we’re definitely getting there, it’s just slow going.

We now have new lights in each section of the lounge, and we’re busy sanding and filling cracks and that sort of thing. Decorating seems a long way away. That’s not stopping me buying the odd bit here and there though.

So I’ve got a mini-haul, a few bits I’ve picked up at TK Maxx because I love them!

I was undecided on whether to go with silver or copper as the metallic accent in our living room, as I saw an absolutely stunning copper-coloured multi pendant light fitting that was utterly gorgeous. And I really do love copper, and rose gold, as the metallic element in a room. It’s been such a big trend in recent years, but I worry that it will become ‘so last year’ soon, and while I always say, go for what you like, not what you’re told is in fashion, I know that my tastes change pretty frequently anyway.

So I saw this beautiful bookend in bright, white marble with the brilliant silver detail, and the colour combination was winning. Knowing that I want bright white walls for the house, it made it clear to me that silver would be the way to go for any metallic elements that might feature in the room. (You’ll note, I haven’t mentioned gold at all, and that’s simply because it’s not really a favourite of mine).

IMAG2041I also found these coasters at TK Maxx, a very similar white marble, with a silver detail around the edges. I’d previously bought (about 18 months ago) some lovely white marble coasters and mats for my brother and his girlfriend when they moved house, and I really loved them, and wish I’d bought myself some at the time. What a great thing hindsight is! They are really similar to these ones, but without the silver detail. I do like these ones, but wish the silver was brighter – more like the bookend. If I see plain white ones, I may be tempted to get those too.

IMAG2035IMAG2033 Finally, I bought this fantastic trinket box with silver lizard decoration on the top. I love it! I’d seen it a few times, and told myself I didn’t need to buy anything else, but then saw it had been reduced, and was such a bargain, I couldn’t resist! At less than half the original price, it finally came home with me. It’s not quite as white as the other two items, but as they’ll be on display/in use in different areas of the room, I don’t think that matters at all.

I love how the image of the room is coming together in my head, and should use that as motivation to get on and get some DIY done so we can make some real progress! I’ll keep you updated though.

For now, with love,
Ellen

Simple Style: Chinese Ceramic Garden Stool

Surprise surprise, I’ve got Pinterest to thank for this one again. I’d never heard of the Chinese Garden Stool, despite recognizing the simple, barrel shaped, ceramic stool from so many home décor photos. Recently, I noticed a lot of the living room images I really liked on Pinterest seemed to have one, but it wasn’t something I found in stores.

And then TK Maxx got a couple in. One good thing about TK Maxx (Or TJ Maxx as it’s known in the US) is the wide variety of one-off pieces sourced from all over the world. I kept my eye on the stool for a little while, umm-ing and ahh-ing about whether I wanted to spend £40 on yet another piece of furniture we really didn’t need before our living room is decorated. My dear Fiance had actually ‘banned’ (i.e. politely asked) me not to buy ANY MORE FURNITURE before we finish the room.

Ooops. One day, I noticed the stool had been discounted, and I also had won a voucher for the place, so reasoning then that I would only be paying £20 cash for it, it came home with me. Insert smiley face here.

Image from wayfair.co.uk

Pretty much everyone since, including dear Fiance, has said the same when they’ve seen it. “What’s that, then?” I guess they are not very common in the UK, and in fact, when I googled them, the only options are upwards of £100. You can buy an identical one, the Safavieh Modern Ming Stool, pictured above, from Wayfair for £106.99 on offer from £114.99 at the moment.

Image from agkdesignstudio.com

I’ve seen so many of them styled online as side tables as above, but also as seating, lamp tables, in the bedroom, even the bathroom. For such a simple design, they are very versatile pieces, and I imagine I’ll be using mine as an end/coffee table next to the sofa or a chair in the living room once it’s finished.

And yet again, I’m very satisfied with my bit of bargain hunting!

I’ll see you soon for some more monthly inspiration too, so don’t forget to check back for that,

For now, with love,
Ellen

Easy DIY Abstract Canvas

Artwork doesn’t have to cost the earth. I don’t have a tutorial for you at the moment, as these are canvases I made a couple of years ago, but they were super simple, and my recommendation for this type of art is always just ‘have a go and try some stuff out!’ anyway.

So, back story. When we moved into our last rented house, it had black and grey feature wallpaper in the master bedroom which wasn’t very appealing to me. I don’t like dark colours, especially not in bedrooms, and I don’t particularly like wallpaper (as a general rule, I’ll admit, on occasion it can look quite nice).

Luckily, however, we had a fantastic landlord and landlady who didn’t mind me doing a little decorating.

OFF CAME THE WALLPAPER! Yippee! Amazingly, it peeled straight off, and with a little sugarsoaping they were ready to paint. I went with a zingy, fresh green, it’s my Fiancé’s favourite colour and I just wanted something lighter than the black. One afternoon later and we had new feature walls. But they were a little bland.

Amazingly, I have a rubbishy photo of them in the old house, with the green walls!
Amazingly, I have a rubbishy photo of them in the old house, with the green walls!

Luckily I had some blank canvases in, and I always have my paint box full of acrylics, emulsion tester pots and random bits and bobs, so one more afternoon and I had something pretty for my walls.

I used the same green emulsion I had used on the walls as the base colour for the canvases, and stippled lots of white and yellow, and other shades of lime and mint green in to give a textured look, and added some contrasting pinks and purples to the top. I wasn’t a huge fan of how that turned out, and went back over with more blues and white until I was happy, and had created the three pictures you see in the photographs.

They were a great, cheap and cheerful way to add some colour to the walls, to tie in the green paint considering we had nothing else that matched in the room, and when we moved to our new home, were easy to chuck back up on the walls and add a bit of interest until we get around to redecorating the bedroom.

I definitely recommend making your own canvas designs before buying off the highstreet. It’s the best way to add a really personal, perfectly matched (or perfectly contrasting) touch to your décor. And it doesn’t break the bank.

For now, with love,
Ellen

Driftwood Candle Holder for a New England Coastal Style Dining Room

IMAG1829Okay, hands up, this isn’t driftwood. But it looks like it. When I saw this two pillar candle holder in TK Maxx, my first thought was ‘Ooooh, wow, look at that!’, almost instantly followed by ‘It’s so strange, is it ugly?’, luckily followed by ‘I don’t care, I love it!’.

I really do love one off pieces, and I haven’t seen something quite like this before. I’ve seen lots of handmade driftwood candle holders (pillar and tea light), etsy is an excellent place to buy a unique one, and pinterest is perfect for inspiration if you want to DIY your own.

IMAG1827 This one was a little different though. It’s quite light in colour, almost like it’s been white-washed, although it’s just the lovely colour of the wood. There’s only a very little label, stating it’s made in China, and a description of ‘Candle 2 Hold. Dragon Root’. Not giving much away then.

I can only assume then, that this is actually made from the root of the Dragon Tree. Googling the matter doesn’t one hundred percent confirm that idea, but it’s a pretty good bet I think. It looks like a lovely bit of weathered driftwood to me though so I’m super happy with it. And it was a total bargain at just £4.99. I’ve seen much more expensive pieces that haven’t been half as wonderful and quirky as this, so I just couldn’t refuse.

IMAG1826I think it will look lovely in the centre of the dining table, on a nice contrasting, blue table runner and maybe one or two other items. I really like table decoration. I think it can be a great conversation starter, and also makes your table look pretty while it’s not in use. I think everything in a room should look appealing as well as functional.

I’m really loving New England style decorating. It has enough of the nautical touches to remind you of the sea and travel, but also a lot of freshness. I think it looks very ‘clean’ in a way some cluttered, over-the-top beachy schemes don’t. I really don’t want stuffy, over-done décor!

This is something I’ll probably cover soon in a blog post, as the more I plan out our living room décor, the clearer I’m feeling on what it is I want and more so, what I don’t. There’s so much choice out there for absolutely everything these days that I want a clear idea of the feel we want to create for the room before we get to work on the pretty stuff. There’s still a lot of plastering and boring bits to sort out before that though!

So without further ado, I’m going to get back to the sugar soap.

For now, with love,

Ellen

Does a Fireplace Really Make a Living Room?

Click image for link to Pinterest and original website link.

Hi,

If you swing your eyes back up to the title there, what’s your first response? No doubt, some will think that a fireplace is the focal point and heart of a living room. Others will think there’s no need, there’s a million(ish) more alternatives, and that they’re just plain unnecessary and/or unattractive.

I was in the first group. Our house currently has a fireplace. A chimney breast, a gas fire (albeit a slightly outdated one) and a rather ugly, definitely outdated fire surround. When we first started making plans for the living room, we discussed replacing the fire, the possibility (or not) of a log burner, or at least a log burner effect heater, the work and cost involved. We decided, or so I thought, to keep the fire and replace the fire surround. Build in some cupboards and shelves either side and boom! A focal point, that “centre” of the living room in our crazy large four quarters of one room lounge area.

And then at the weekend my partner decided it wasn’t worthwhile and that we’d be better off losing the fire, the whole chimney breast, and having a plain, in his words “versatile” blank wall.

Say what now?!

This wasn’t what I had in my mind. At first, I literally felt like there was no purpose to the whole room without that fireplace. Even if we don’t use the fire. Which seems fairly obvious now I think about. I do like the look, much prefer in fact, of a room with a grand, or even somewhat simple, fireplace. Sofas and a coffee table around it. The fire doesn’t have to be on to still give the room a cozy look. To me it made sense. I didn’t want to think about versatility. Sure, placing the four sections of our lounge life (Sofas, Dining Table, TV Area and Gym) into the four corners was limited by the fact that there was a fireplace in one quarter didn’t matter. To me, it said ‘that’s where your sofas or TV section go’. It made things more obvious and quicker and easier for me to imagine. Versatility wasn’t an issue – I wanted to come up with the best plan and stick to it. Not wonder if we’d get bored and want to move everything around in a couple of years times.

What’s more, all the inspiration I’d seen, involved cozy fireplaces. I’m not into modern, contemporary sleek city living. I like a home. A cozy, lived in, clean and bright still, but homlier look than those chic apartment get ups. I couldn’t imagine how a living room without a fireplace could look anything other than uber modern. Crazy, I know. But my dear fiance couldn’t show me either. We struggled to find images and inspiration without that central focal point, and I struggled even more with the fact that he struggles to understand the importance of the ‘focal point’. He’s a practical man.

As we also having central heating, we don’t use the fire, and therefore we don’t need the fireplace. Spending time and money on creating this was something he was skeptical about considering neither us did really like the appearance of the existing fire, and that replacing that on top the cost of everything else, when we still wouldn’t really use it, was just ridiculous.

So, I scoured Pinterest for a couple of hours (yes, solidly) and tried to envisage the style I like without the fireplace, and how we’d have artwork to create a focal point, and shelves on another wall to replace the ones lost by not having built in space either side of the chimney breast. I’m more than halfway to getting my head around it and coming up with fresh ideas.

It’s been a bit of a journey, and a near-missed argument, to get there, though. I was just so clear in my mind of what I wanted, it was totally irrespective of what we actually needed and used, and ultimately, the most homely home feel will come from a lounge area that actually suits our life. And, now I’m feeling less stubborn, I’m starting to put together a coherent image of a largely similar room to what I first imagined that doesn’t stray into that urban city image that isn’t my personal preference.

We’ll get there in the end!

When we do, and hopefully a little before then, I’ll update you with some pictures of our actual living room, but for now, here’s a couple of Pinterest links that are really helping me get an idea together for our own front room.

Click image for link to Pinterest and original website link.
Click image for link to Pinterest and original website link.
Click image for link to Pinterest and original website link.

For now, with love,

Ellen

Designers Guild Franchini Fabric Bargain

Hi,

IMAG1474
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.

1franchini-cobalt-cushion
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.

1franchini-cobalt-cushion-40x40cm
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