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 Although very outdated, and in some cases a little shabby, every room has carpet, curtains and lampshades at least.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

 

 

Top Picks under £10: October

Hi,

We’re already in the midst of Autumn, but while a lot of the shops are pushing Christmas baubles and wreaths, I’m enjoying October for all it represents – golden-leaved trees and chilly, sunny walks, pumpkin recipes galore and Halloween around the corner.

I enjoy all the seasons, and love the fact that in the UK, we get real differences between them. Although I have to admit, even I’m tempted in by Christmas related decorations come November. Making the most of it for now though, I’ve put together a selection of fabulous Autumn inspired items you can buy online or in store.

If I haven’t mentioned it yet, I’m a bargain hunter. Whether it’s in the sale, thrifted, or just good value, when it comes to home decor I like to get a lot out of only a little cash. So here are my top picks at £10.00 and under for October.

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1. Metallic Hammered Bowl – Wilkinsons – £10.00

2. Pippa Terracotta Cushion – The Range – £7.99

3. Orange Poppies in Milk Bottle – BHS – £10.00

4. Amber Micro Plush Throw – George at Asda – £5.00

5. Yankee Candle Cinnamon Stick Small Jar – Yankee Direct – £6.74

6. Yellow Sittning Vase – Ikea – £5.00

7. Wood Effect Fox Coasters – Next – £8.00

8. Bronze Tealight Holder – H&M – £3.99

9. Claret Orkney Cushion Cover – Dunelm Mill – £7.99

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

I think this is something I will be doing every month, so keep an eye out for November’s top picks soon.

For now, with love,
Ellen

Review: Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying

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Hi!

Wow, this has taken me much longer to find time to write than I expected! But, on a brighter note, our new house is much nearer to completion, so it’s not all bad news!

When we do finally move into our new home, I want the fresh start to stretch into our lifestyle as well, regarding the house, maintaining it and keeping it organized and clutter free. I will be the first to admit that at present, our house is much messier than I find comfortable. And yet, we struggle to keep bringing in that level of tidiness that we want.

That’s what prompted me to buy Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying, available at Amazon, here.

I liked the cover promise of ‘a simple, effective way to banish clutter forever’, and to transform your home into a permanently tody, clutter-free space…’ Who wouldn’t want that? I promptly got stuck in.

I liked that the emphasis wasn’t purely on minimalism, although incorporated some of the same principles. It’s not about doing without, and learning to do so, but more about living only with what you truly love. I liked that it explored dealing with other people in the household, and their belongings, too. After all, you can’t apply an approach such as ‘keep only what sparks joy in you’ to other people’s items. But I didn’t finish the book and immediately start the tidying process.

And I still haven’t. And more so, I won’t be applying this approach when I come to move, either. Not in the exact method described, which Marie Kondo will tell you, is the only way to make it work. To summarize, the basic principle is to, in one single period, go through all of your belongings, holding each one in your hand and only keeping those that truly ‘spark joy’. There is a set order in which you should go through your belongings, the order helping you to learn and hone your craft to really narrow down what you do and do not need in your life.

However, I didn’t feel this was a practical approach to my belongings. I’ll admit, not wanting to get all of my clothes together into one room (literally, everything, that coat on the back of the door, the dressing gown from the bathroom, the scarves and the handbags and the shoes that probably aren’t inside your wardrobe either, the laundry…) was part laziness. I’d recently gone through the majority of my clothing and donated what I no longer wanted to charity. I also kept a pile of things to sell on eBay – some which did, some which are still in a storage box under the bed. I didn’t want to get everything out again. And also, I felt the book didn’t cover a huge proportion of belongings – those things you don’t necessarily love, but need regardless.

Maybe it should be taken for granted, if you need something, you keep it. Maybe the KonMari method is for those items that aren’t essential, this wasn’t really specified. Take for instance, my work clothes. I don’t have a uniform, I just have to wear black. Now I don’t particularly wear black outside of work. These items of clothing don’t spark joy in me at all. I just need them. I don’t have the option of throwing them all away and buying items of black clothing that truly spark joy in me, because I don’t have the funds to do so and because I don’t think buying clothing for work purposes would ever really spark joy for me.

I also struggled at the concept for non-work items too. For example, my jeans. I have five pairs of denim jeans. If I really had to think about it, none of them are that great. The newest pair, too loose around the waist. The previous pair, grey (I don’t like grey) sit in the eBay box under the bed. The pair before that I loved, fit lovely, have a stain on the front. The others, look wrong with all kinds of shoes but flip flops. The last pair haven’t fitted in five years and I still keep them. Not even because I hope to fit in them again – just because they remind me of what good jeans are like! This pair is probably my favorite, even though I can’t wear them. But I don’t have the option of getting rid of them all and buying new. And I can’t reasonably use reading one book as justification for doing so. So I just can’t work with Marie Kondo’s method of tidying, and if I never achieve tidiness to her scale, so be it. It’s not my version of tidy.

This isn’t to say I didn’t take anything from the book. There were some passages that gave me a new way of looking at things. For instance, the purpose of items. Take gifts. The purpose of a gift is to give it, and to receive it. No more. If someone gifts you an ugly umbrella for your birthday, and you don’t, and won’t, ever use it, Kondo’s reasoning for getting rid of it is that it has already served it’s purpose. Those acts of giving and receiving were enjoyed and marked the birthday. It is now okay to get rid of the umbrella if it’s current purpose is just to make you sad that you don’t want to use it. I’m not sure I’m totally comfortable with this, I tend to keep gifts whether I like/use them or not, as they still serve to remind me that someone at least thought about me when choosing the gift. Nonetheless, it was an interesting way to think about things.

You cannot ignore either, that the book has sold 1.5 million copies, worldwide, and is raved about. I thought that perhaps I didn’t take much from it because it was a little too specific for Japanese culture and didn’t fit in with my ideas and belongings. However I have heard and seen many references to the book online from the USA and UK, all from people who really believe in the principles behind it. The 300+ reviews on Amazon (where I first heard of the book, and went on to buy it from) are overwhelmingly positive, with an overall rating of 4.5 stars.

I’m sure Marie Kondo would think that by not trying her approach, I’m only failing myself, but I’m ok with that, and I still have the knowledge should I ever decided to put it into practice. I’ll be thinking carefully about what we move into to our new house, and how to store and organize things. When I come up with solutions that work for me, I’ll let you know.

If you’ve read the book, I’d really like to know your thoughts, and what you learned from it.

For now, with love,

Ellen

Writing Room Inspiration

P1040247Hi,

I’m starting to piece together some ideas for the new house, and while (I think) I want a pretty neutral, toning decor throughout the house, my writing room will most likely have a bit more of it’s own personality – after all, I need somewhere where I feel inspired to create.

It’s still early days, and I know I’ll change my mind a little (I always do) but I have some ideas that are coming together nicely.
I purchased these two awesome copper coloured cowboy hats from TK Maxx several months ago. I’d had my eye on them for a while, and then when I found them reduced from £17 each to just £5, I had to have them! At that point we hadn’t bought the new house, and I had no idea what room I wanted them for – I just loved them.

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At the latter end of summer, with the early change in the weather, I came across this scarf, from Primark.

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Primark  – Scarf – £7

It’s a delightful, warm and cosy, Native American inspired patterened wrap. But I don’t want to wear it. I want to hang it on the wall. I already had my cowboy hats at this point, and I thought their bright copper colour would work lovely against this, so I popped down to Primark as soon as, and snapped one up. I envision it hanging on the wall, with a hat standing proud on each end of the desk.

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I would like neutral – probably off white – walls throughout the house, so my design features will be more accents than anything. I don’t think this look will need much more than maybe my Aloe Vera plant, a succulent or two, and another copper touch, maybe this lovely letter rack from George at Asda:

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George – Letter Rack – £10

Possibly a pencil pot, or letter tray could also work, however I do need a clean desk to work from, and I want to avoid unnecessary clutter.
I’m really looking forward to pulling the whole look together when we move. It won’t be immediately as we’re going to focus on the living area first, so it may be a while until I put these ideas into practice, but that just gives me more time to find bits and pieces to tie it all together.

For now, with love,

Ellen

 

 

New Beginnings

Hi!

It’s so nice to have you here today. If you haven’t noticed, this is post number one, and that means that this is indeed, a brand new blog. It will be about all things ‘home’.  It could be my crafty side coming out and whipping up some cushions, upcycling furniture or sharing hauls and bargains, general organizing tips and hopefully some home improvements. And who knows, maybe a bit of baking along the way.

I won’t promise any specific topics just yet, as I know blogs have a habit of evolving and I want this to take it’s natural course, and be about what I’m loving in the moment, and that does vary, as you’ll come to see. But it will be all things home, whatever it is, and what will be most exciting is that soon we’ll have a new home and that will bring all kinds of projects in itself.

When I decided I wanted to go the blogging route earlier this year, I picked the huge umbrella of ‘home’ as it encompasses so much of what I do and love. Not that I don’t like the great outdoors, I do, but isn’t nice to come back to a beautiful home at the end of a long day?

And as 2015 is shaping up to be a very exciting year indeed, for myself and so many family and friends, I’m really excited to be buying my first house with my now fiancé (another great event of this year!) and so what perfect time to start.
As I said, this blog will evolve, so I won’t have a strict blogging schedule to begin with, and should the next few weeks see me getting wrapped up in boxing up our house and moving just allow me that and I promise you it will be the start of lots to come.

For now, with love,
Ellen