The day I became a Rebel Artist and didn't mind at all

I don’t think I’ve felt this rebellious since I overtook a caravan on double white lines.

I’m Claire and I’m a 43 year old mother of two with a passion for baking, poetry writing and grafitti-ing old paintings.

So what you going to do about it?

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Well you can copy me if you like? It feels all kinds of good.

Appropriation art is a thing in all the right circles, trust me on this. It’s where a piece of art (preferably one that is past it) is updated to be more appropriate for the current market. It may have been embellished, collaged, touched up, or in my case scrawled upon with messages of endearment or empowerment. Here’s another much admired piece I sold as part of my little up-cycled art venture, No Two Walls.

Appropriation art by Yours Truly

Appropriation art by Yours Truly

Clearly, these examples are not exactly masterpieces that you are likely to leave your children in your will. That’s precisely the point. They’re a post modern, tongue in cheek entry into the classification of art - so low brow that they’re high brow, see?

In combining a celebrated art form (the floral still life) with a relatively new obsession (typography) my new obsession for painting on pictures offers a new perspective on art that would otherwise be destined to clutter the shelves of a charity shop. I use only cheap reproduction pictures that are now, sadly, only worth the frames they are mounted in - They make the unoriginal, original. And THAT’s what (in my world anyway) makes them cool.

Making them is absolutely as easy as it looks. You don’t need an art degree and - come to think of it - being good at spelling isn’t all that important either. It may even add to the charade in some instances. Essentially, all you need is the luck to stumble upon a really un-loveable picture that has at some point in it’s chequered past been cared for enough to be deemed worthy of a decent frame. And then you need the balls to paint on it.

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This one isn’t even a painting - it’s a print - and a sun faded one at that, which made it far less gut wrenching to de-face.

There’s not much room for making mistakes on this sort of thing, which can make it slightly unnerving. A washable paint, such as chalk paint is more forgiving, but bear in mind that oil paintings have bumps and lumps on them which the fresh paint can stick to, so I find it’s best to commit to the job and just go for it. The worst that can happen is that you make a crap picture crapper. In which case, re-use the frame for a different project. That’s why I don’t like to pay more than £10 for the picture in the first place, although the more you pay, the better the frame is likely to be and sometimes this can make more of a difference than the background.

If you do find a lovely floral still life in a gorgeous gilt frame, please do consider if vandalising it is creative or criminal. Obviously check out the painter if it’s got a signature on it. Google can provide a quick fire response on a collectible artist.

If the colours are too beautiful, think twice. Ask yourself, could the flowers still be enjoyed without your graffiti on them? If the answer is no, then it’s OK to paint on it. Getting the right amount of twee, with the right amount of modern is where the magic happens.

Take this brown oil on board for example. It aint pretty. The colours are a bit samey but it has a hippy, retro vibe to it that does appeal. The frame is non descript so it’s not going to win fans on its own merit. I made the call that it would benefit from a little style statement and now it brings a smile to my face in the laundry room.

A No Two Walls un-original original.

A No Two Walls un-original original.

This one on the other hand, I can’t bring myself to scrawl on. It’s not by anyone famous, the frame isn’t amazing, but the colours are pretty and it’s somehow still got a charm to it, albeit in an innocent, amateurish kind of way. This one is safe from my rebel paintbrush. For now at least.

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Landscapes are easier to come across than florals, simply because they are less in vogue. They don’t work quite as well but I still think you can have fun with them that’s better than them heading to landfill.

I’d like to think they would make very cool wall fillers in student digs or similar, but am willing for this to go up in the man cave, should it ever come to fruition. It’s quite possibly somebody’s A level copy of the famous Hay Wain by Constable and I had to be in a particularly rebellious #SorryNotSorry mood when I wrote on it. In the end I decided it was better to be uniquely controversial than a blatant fake. … So handcuff me…

Hey, Wayne, you’re mum is gonna kill you.

Hey, Wayne, you’re mum is gonna kill you.

A more popular choice of wording would be some cool music lyrics that mean something to you or your other half. I’ll be doing more of these on No Two Walls so keep a look out if you like the idea, but don’t like the deed.

And what about a marriage proposal via Appropriation Art? Surely that’s got to be the coolest way to say I do next week on Valentines Day, what do you say? Let me know in the comments section.

Or maybe not?

Or maybe not?

Happy Valentines week art rebels.
Claire

From Meh to ME - My House Candy Home Styling, At Your Service

The week it was revealed that Jennifer Aniston hired an ‘Interior Therapist’ to rid her home of ex-husband feels like a great time to announce that I’m available on a day rate too.

Let me breathe new life into your home!  Cushion by  www.florenceleeandco.com

Let me breathe new life into your home!

Cushion by www.florenceleeandco.com

I’m no Hollywood house shamen on a Gwynneth or Jen scale, but what I lack in performance rituals, I make up for in styling tricks that are sure to make you fall back in love with your home.

We’ve all been there. We open a wardrobe bursting at the seams with clothes only to decide we’ve got nothing to wear. 

We glance around our tired looking house and it’s, well it’s fine isn’t it?… but it’s not quite doing it for us the way the cool houses on Instagram do.

Before we know it we’re in full on identity crisis meltdown. We roar at the kids, we burn the dinner, we step in the dog bowl. Life is suddenly a pig and all that January detoxing was for nothing. “POUR ME A WINE” we holler at a frightened looking OH.

I styled my home out of an identity crisis and through it developed a much stronger sense of who I am and how I want to express myself. Now I’m offering out my time to help others do the same through my new consultancy service My House Candy Home Styling.

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Renovating my period property taught me everything there is to know about giving a home its personality back. This experience, coupled with five years on the interior blogging circuit has made me one of those annoying people that can name a wallpaper design at 10 paces. Say to me you want wall lights with wow factor, I’ve seen ‘em. Statement abstract artwork, I’ve ogled it. Paint colours to soothe, to invigorate, to cope with dog sick… I’ve already stressed about them, so you don’t have to.

Sometimes style ruts happen without us even realising it and nobody is judging, least of all me. After we have kids and our homes fill up with plastic and we become grateful for the functional things like wipeable tablecloths and wicker storage boxes. We don’t have time to plan a gallery wall or source a faux fern for the fireside FFS.

Home style ruts are happening all around us and the busier we are, the harder it can be to get out of one.

My House Candy Home Styling is designed to take the leg work out of nailing your home style. 

I’ll help you pull a look together that has your personal style stamped all over it. It might be that the furniture is fine but you need help sourcing wallpaper and accessories that complete the picture. You may have a clean slate to decorate and no idea where to start. Or you may have done a total house redecoration and there’s just something missing that you can’t quite put your finger on, so you need a fresh pair of understanding eyes. Well here, borrow mine. 

For those of you that don’t know me, I’m based in West Yorkshire but lots of this can be done remotely, so if it’s a bit of style confidence you’re lacking, please get in touch at: myhousecandy@gmail.com.

My job will be to source the best House Candy to suit your style and budget. I will even source one-off vintage pieces or secure those Ebay bids that will give your space a totally unique edge. My aim will be to define your signature home style and steer you in the right direction, so that that you can build on it from room to room. Not only will it save you hours of screen or showroom time, but it could also save you big bucks in costly mistakes too.

Watch this space for details of some exciting projects I’ve been working on. I’m so excited to share them with you. In the meantime, here’s how I took my house from Meh to ME.

1) Added drama through the a sophisticated and modern colour palette

1) Added drama through the a sophisticated and modern colour palette

2) Made full use of floorspace

2) Made full use of floorspace

3) Made lighting my best friend.

3) Made lighting my best friend.

4) Ensured good first impressions in the entrance hall.

4) Ensured good first impressions in the entrance hall.

5) Created harmony between my homes past and its future.

5) Created harmony between my homes past and its future.

My House Candy Blog is where you’ll still find me gushing over some hot homewares or showing off a fabulous junk shop find. This won’t necessarily be the most luxurious or the most fashionable thing your home could ever flaunt, but it will be what my style instinct pulls me towards. You’ve got that instinct too and once you discover it, decorating will become a whole lot more fun!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section. Do you need help with home style? Is shopping for wallpaper fun or fraught with confusion? Do you struggle to define your style. I’m all ears (and a little bit Iris Apfel style bifocals too)

Claire x

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Bert & May x Anthropologie ... If Carlsberg did Collabs

If, like me, you suffer from Interiors FOMO please do not miss out on Bert & May’s ten week pop up store at London’s Kings Road Anthropologie store.

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Sometimes I play this game where I have to pick just one shop in the world and that is the only place I can ever buy things from for the rest of my life. The winner is always Anthropologie.

I love Anthropologie’s bohemian vibe and artistic license. I’m inspired by its layering and colour clashing. I love the way it makes the ordinary extraordinary. And I always leave the store feeling absolutely sure that I’m ready to ditch skinny jeans for ever and live out my days in jewel coloured maxi dresses and sparkly cowboy boots.

This week marks the anniversary of another of my brand love affairs. I fell hook, line and sinker for Bert and May at the launch of their awe inspiring Bert’s Box during London Design Week back in 2015. Click here for the blog post to prove it. At that time I would have happily sold up, uprooted the family and moved into a Bert’s Box, complete with copper clad kitchen and rustic-luxe bathroom.

In fact, it was here that I first glimpsed a utopian future in which Bert and May ruled the land, fervently demolishing soul-less housing estates in favour of Bert’s Borough, where everyone lives a super stylish eco-existence in a fully furnished Bert’s Box.

So imagine my excitement when I discovered Bert and May has actually hooked up with Wonder-store Anthropologie and is currently enjoying a steamy 10 week love affair that we can all be a part of.

What a Bert and May x Anthropologie future might look like

What a Bert and May x Anthropologie future might look like

It’s the collaboration interior dreams and utopian futures are made of. For the next ten weeks at least we can live the Bert and May x Anthropologie dream on Kings Road in London. We can delight in Bert and May’s curated collection of tiles, basins, antique finds and curiosities styled the Anthropologie way.

Now what usually happens when two beautiful beings get married is that they have beautiful babies. This love story is no exception. Welcome Octogan and Pink Pradena to the world of walls and flooring! These two tiles are brand new to Bert and May’s portfolio, inspired by Anthropologie’s soft and delicate colour palette.

The brand new  Octogan  tile by Bert and May

The brand new Octogan tile by Bert and May

New hexaganol pink  Pradena  tile by Bert and May

New hexaganol pink Pradena tile by Bert and May

I’ve gone gaga over them (of course I have) and am saving hard for Bert’s Basement - my very own office-come-design-studio in my newly converted cellar. But Ssshhhhh, no more on that little saucy secret, you’ve had quite enough excitement for one day.

Happy London Design Week to everyone who is taking part or just soaking up the inspiration. Please let me know what you’re up to and who you’ve discovered in the comments section. Is there any House Candy Im in fear of missing out on? Please, please DO let me know!

Claire x



Attic Guest Room Reveal - The Housemaid's Tale

Once upon a time in the industrial north, there lived a young housemaid. She was grateful for lodgings in the servants quarters and kept out of sight of the household unless her presence was called upon. She kept the house clean and tidy. She made fires in grand fireplaces. She drew the heavy drapes, she lifted the expensive locally loomed carpets and swept the parquet floors. And after a hard day’s graft, having already tucked up Mi’Lady in her fancy four poster, she quietly climbed the steep steps to the dingy attic bedroom that wasn’t quite home. She dreamt of faraway places and grand houses with shit hot wallpaper…

The new attic guest room with wallpaper by  Anna Hayman Designs

The new attic guest room with wallpaper by Anna Hayman Designs

I often wonder about the people who lived in our house before we did. I’ve done a bit of research and actually, it hasn’t had all that many owners considering it is over 150 years old. People tend to stay here and bring their brood up, then move to something more manageable when they start to rattle around.

It’s a big old chunk of a house. It was built in 1875 for a local brewing family who were by no means Lords of the land, but had enough money for a maid. It’s lofty to say the least and my London friends love to tell me how much it would be worth if it were situated somewhere with a more sought after postcode. They mean well.

There are a full four floors if you include the cellar and the house renovation has involved revamping all of them. NOW do you see why it’s taken so long?

The attic, where the maid would have slept is the last floor to get the House Candy treatment. It is our guest bedroom and sadly, has always been a bit of an after thought. Like the youngest child of the family it gets the hand me downs and the junk finds. I doubt the day will ever come when we lavish new furniture on this room because there are always bigger priorities. So what do we do if we need to up the ante of a space without buying new furniture? WE DO WALLPAPER, that’s what we do… So pleased to see you haven’t forgotten the basics whilst I’ve been away.

Anna Hayman Designs  Wanderlust  wallpaper in Blush

Anna Hayman Designs Wanderlust wallpaper in Blush

Up on the top floor, I wanted to create an overall sense of tranquility. This is where we retreat if one of us can’t sleep. It also has a frequent visitor in one of my best friends, who combines her trips to see us with visits to see her mum in a nearby care home. I wanted this to be a space she could really unwind and forget about the bad stuff when she comes to stay.

I didn’t deliberate for long about the style of wallpaper. I knew I wanted to tap into that vintage vibe which suits this crooked space so well. I tried a few tile-like samples as a departure from the florals I usually go for and because I wanted to bring a sense of time travel to the space. This pattern, by my current design crush Anna Hayman Designs, feels both Victorian and a bit space age (and anyway, it’s called Wanderlust which is pretty much my favourite word in the dictionary, so that was that).

The attic room slopes into the eaves - a pretty useless cavity, but which makes it feel spacious. I chose Farrow and Ball’s Elephant’s Breath to match the background of the wallpaper and used this on the three walls and ceiling to create an enveloping effect that detracts from the awkward shape. The fireplace wall is the main event and papering the whole wall gave it a heightened sense of importance.

I went dark with the woodwork for the first time ever and I’m so pleased I took the plunge. Dark woodwork draws the eye downwards, which works when you’re dealing with different ceiling heights within the same room. Farrow and Ball’s famous Downpipe was the perfect match.

Farrow and Ball’s  Elephant’s Breath  envelopes the room which is outlined by woodwork in  Downpipe.

Farrow and Ball’s Elephant’s Breath envelopes the room which is outlined by woodwork in Downpipe.

I’m actually excited for the next time my husband goes out, get’s hammered and comes back snoring his head off. Instead of banishing him to the servant’s quarters, I’ll be delighted to leave him tucked up in the master bedroom and tip toe up into the attic to carry on with my dreams.

Do you struggle with choosing wallpaper and paint? It occurred to me that I could be some sort of personal shopper for the interior challenged. There are people I know who LOATHE wallpaper shopping and yet I’d put it up there with drinking strawberry mojitos at sunset as something I am unlikely ever to tire of. Drop me a line if you need help!

I’ll be revealing more of the stories behind the House Candy revamp over the next few weeks so please do keep checking in. Oh and if you thought this one made for a good read, I’d be so grateful if you’d share the post.

Happy Wallpaper Wednesday everyone, my new favourite day of the week.

Claire x

About that 12 week body transformation... *hides head under pillow*

I'm back. Well most of me is back. There's a bit of me that had to go and that's the bit I want to tell you about.

Some of you will remember that 12 weeks ago, I very publicly pledged to get bikini ready in time for my holiday. 

I was approaching my 43rd birthday. I was a little wobbly, both around the middle and in my head. I was at this weird crossroads in my life, where my kids only seemed to need me for the rubbish bits, like washing their clothes, making their meals and transporting them to where they wanted to go. My house was in the throes of a year-long renovation and basically everywhere I looked was a head-fuck. And yet I'd created this bizarre life for myself that revolved around taking pretty pictures of my home. 

But worst, and most importantly, I was dealing with someone very special to me getting three types of cancer, all in one go. 

It's fair to say I wasn't in the best place to decide to re-invent myself as a fitness protoge for the over 40s, but in a state of despair and possibly in search of something else to focus on, that's exactly what I did. Nice one Pricey.

Anyway, 12 weeks have passed. I didn't fulfil my promise of documenting the whole transformation process on Instagram and I apologise for that as I now realise what excellent car-crash style entertainment that would have been. BUT, I wanted you to know, just for the record, I DIDN'T QUIT. 

I didn't turn into Davina McCall either. This is me trying out my new high waist bikini and accepting the fact that I'll never again wear a string. 

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Look, it's not bad for 43. Physically, it's not massively different to 12 week's go either if I'm being brutally honest. But actually, this bod kicks my 12 week previous bod's ass. Here's why:

1) It is stronger.

2) It is healthier

3) It has stopped beating itself up

4) It's back in control of its mind

5) It is appreciated for what it is

6) It didn't drop a dress size. Better still:

7) It stopped giving a fuck about the dress size.

8) It IS bikini ready, because:

9) It is Whatever ready

10) It is grateful for the gift of being fit and healthy.

Yeah, I toned up a bit. Not as much as my PT would probably have liked, but I'm kind of happy about that too because here's what I also worked out whilst working out:

1) I don't need to be a vision of lean muscle to be happy in my skin.

2) I do need to get through life's ups and downs and whilst being fit REALLY helps, sometimes, so does wine... And maybe the odd Chinese banquet.

3) Life is too short to obsess about macronutrients.

I know we hear this cliche all the time, but being fit does as much for your mind as it does for your body. I suppose it's obvious really. I mean, it's all connected isn't it? My head was actually in worse shape than my body and yet the only flaws I could see were physical. 

Sweating it out, doing something for myself, discovering my own strength and developing a can-do attitude has helped me in so many ways. Most of all it's helped me see things differently and this is the bit that affects the blog and therefore why I feel compelled to share a picture of 43-year-old me in a bikini.

My house has shaped up! Mad isn't it? It's clearer, cleaner, less cluttered, less mental. It's got a much stronger sense of identity and as a result, it feels like a far more nurturing place to be. This is really important to me at the moment. We all need a sanctuary and I want my blog to focus on this.

I'm still a pretty naff photographer so my friend is coming round to take some better pictures soon and I'll do a proper reveal of the house renovation next month. It would be a great time to re-launch the blog with that new name I played about with, My House Sanctuary. Remember that? Flick back a few posts to read about that other identity crisis if you must. But as some of you were kind enough to point out, changing my name now would be a dick move, right? A waste of time and money trying to turn myself into something else, when actually, it's okay just to evolve.

I was worried that at 43 I was past my best. I can't do vlogging, I don't want to be on my phone 24/7. Blogging suddenly felt like a young person's game. But then I realised, all that doesn't matter if you're not in it to make a career out of it. Happily, I'm not and I'm finally ready to call My House Candy, my hobby. 

I'm going on holiday to reconnect with this family of mine that has grown up in the blink of an eye. When I come back, I'll get back to blogging for the fun of it rather than trying to find a way for it to pay me back and I hope that will improve the content too.  

Thank you to The Fit Guru for getting me on the right path. PT is amazing if you can afford it. It's total mind and body therapy, and it really does make the grim task of donning a bikini in your forties so much more bearable. But if you can't afford it, there are still lots of things you can do to get fit for free and I totally believe that getting your heart pumping is the very best thing you can do for yourself. Try running for example. It makes you sweat, it burns fat and every time you do it, you realise you can go a little bit further.

And actually, that's all we have to do.

See you in September.

Claire xx

I DO do duvets - Especially the new Duvet with a Difference!

I've got Bed Head at the moment. That's not just due to the fact that hair washing has been reduced to a treat situation, it's also because I can do nothing else but think of bedroom decor, with three of them to kit out in the next two weeks.

New Coral printed duvet from Marks and Spencer which is re-thinking the way I do duvets 

New Coral printed duvet from Marks and Spencer which is re-thinking the way I do duvets 

As you may have seen, I've gone for lame ass neutrals on the new bedroom walls so was hoping to spice things up a bit with the bedding and accessories, but this presents an issue and it goes like this:

Bedding needs washing, washing needs drying. Drying (usually) needs ironing and freshly ironed clean duvet covers need a wrestle with the actual duvet to get them in. All things considered, changing the beds is not a job I relish. As a result, I've generally gone for white bedding, which you can pick up fairly cheaply and if we all have the same sized duvets then a kind of squad rotation laundry system can go on. Strip one, change one, wash one etc... 

But like I said, I was hoping to move away from plain white bedding this time and figuring out if I could overcome the laundry implications of this was causing me a headache until PING - an email popped up from Marks and Spencer revolutionising bed changing as we know it.

What if, you just picked up your duvet in the morning and shoved it in the wash? No stripping, no wrestling and perfectly dry enough by bedtime to simply chuck back on? 

FRESH thinking on duvet days from  Marks and Spencer

FRESH thinking on duvet days from Marks and Spencer

THAT's what the new range of printed bedding promises to do and what's more, it's even available in a choice of really cute colours: coral, mint green, light grey and blue. Look, I get that you may need a couple of minutes to take this news in, I certainly did so just to recap - it's an all in one, 100% machine washable duvet and cover solution available in single and double sizes with matching pillowcase in 4.5 and 10.5 tog options. At a super affordable £32.50, I'm scratching my weary (unkempt) head wondering why we'd ever buy separate duvets and covers again?  

I'm already a fan... I could just do with Super King size please Marks and Spencer if you're listening. Until then this is a brilliant solution for my boys' rooms who we all know were not born with the necessary skill set required to put on a duvet cover. 

Boy proof blue washable printed duvets from £32.50 at  Marks and Spencer. 

Boy proof blue washable printed duvets from £32.50 at Marks and Spencer. 

Students also take note - FRESH beds are totally possible during term time. I know!!

Thank you M&S, you've always got our best interests at heart haven't you?

Claire x

 

My Victorian house renovation - the final push!

Apologies for the radio silence but frankly, I didn't feel that writing about skirting boards was a valuable use of time given that our lives have been turned upside down by the final phase of Project House Sanctuary. It's all hands on deck as we push for completion of this monster house renovation within the next month.

My first ever en-suite!

My first ever en-suite!

Unpredictably, the upstairs has proved far more challenging to manage than the downstairs. It seems I can cope without a kitchen far easier than I can cope without a bed or a bathroom which, in hindsight, shouldn't have come as that much of a surprise, since I like sleeping far more than I like cooking.

Far from sanctuary status, as a family we are currently teetering on the other end of the calmness spectrum, camping in the attic with no shower and a daily challenge of locating essential belongings. 

The boys have given up even trying to manage their mess. It's a free for all of washing piles and discarded footwear, proving to me beyond doubt that the state of your home and your mind are intrinsically linked. 

A family holiday came just at the right time for us all. It was a perfect opportunity for House Candy Andy to rip out the family bathroom (the last room to get the Wreck-It-Ralph treatment) and for me to sit on a sun lounger with my pad and pen sketching out living spaces that could actually spark joy thanks to their functionality, elegance and in added cool factor.

So here's a few pics by way of a progress report for those of you that have been following the journey so far (and can I just take the opportunity to thank everyone who has messaged me and offered words of support!)

The Boot Room

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I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the entrance is going to be my favourite space in the house. I've dipped my toe into the dark(er) side with Farrow and Ball's Charleston Grey as the background to what promises to be a very warm welcome home. I decided to take the colour to the most dramatic effect by painting the ceiling, coving, skirtings and door frame the same colour. I've left the window boards white to bring this out as a feature.

The new brick fireplace will house a fire grate and HCA played a masterstroke by adding another alcove as a much needed log store.  

Pops of lime green, with lots of lush plants will provide a transitional space from the outside, in. Storage is key here with the old dairy cabinet set to become a swoon-worthy shoe cupboard and a Victorian storage bench reclaimed from my son's Grammar School giving us the luxury of a place to sit and kick off our boots. 

If furniture could speak this old storage bench would have a 100 years of school gossip to tell 

If furniture could speak this old storage bench would have a 100 years of school gossip to tell 

In the adjoining downstairs loo, the old butlers sink from the demolished outbuilding has scrubbed up well enough to be fitted onto the legs of an old singer sewing machine. This is a sentimental touch as both my gran and my mum used to sew regularly on this style of machine.  HCA has promised to make me some taps out of copper piping and with budget stretched to breaking point any opportunity to save a little bit of dollar is most definitely welcome.

I like to add a bit of glamour where it's least expected so the boot room, functional as it sounds, is going to get a great ballroom style chandelier to make it feel special. 

This space leads straight into the hall and I wanted to make these two spaces connect, without merging them into one. The Victorian Minton tiles are the showstopper here and they are also the inspiration for the colour choices in all rooms that feed into this central anchor of our home. 

I've kept the walls and panelling deliberately simple, allowing as much light as possible to flow into this space which is limited on natural light as it is a semi. Interest will hopefully be added with artwork and accessories which I look forward to updating you on very soon!

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The en-suite

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Ridiculous as it sounds, our new en-suite bathroom looks set to be the first room of the renovation to actually be 100% finished. I went for a period style sink from Victorian Plumbing as I wanted to see as much floor space as possible. I've gone for small-scale white herringbone mosaic tiles on the floor which really plays with the proportions of the room and a crackled glaze subway tile in the shower (which I'm less enamoured with, but hey, it does the job).

The shower situation has been problematic and we're still waiting on a replacement for a faulty part from Victorian Plumbing after a couple of days of swearing and head scratching from HCA. Meantime, we're all taking it in turns to have baths in the tiny slipper bath in the attic. The boys moan but I think they are all secretly enjoying the extra chill out time that bathing allows.

The en-suite is also Charleston Grey but it looks less brown in here where there is more light and white than it does in the boot room. This shade does a great job of bridging the tricky gap between cream tiles, white floor and white sanitary ware and also went brilliantly well with Marks and Spencer's gorgeous wooden beaded Mila chandelier to bring a bit of boho glam into the proceedings.

In the bedroom, I've gone for classic F&B Elephant's Breath which, unlike its name suggests, is fresh and sensual. We have long-standing sleep issues in our house and I needed a soothing neutral that would work with my vintage accessories without being too girly for Richard. Layering will be key in here and I plan to mix and match textures without going too crazy on the colour palette, opting instead for a more pared back take on vintage glamour.

The boys have switched rooms because you know that Arsenal map wallpaper that I was convinced would stand the test of time for George? well guess what, now he's 14 he wants rid. It was extortionate money at the time so there's no way I'm scraping it off. Instead my younger son who would happily have us cover him head to toe in Arsenal wallpaper, is delighted to be moving in. Both boys' rooms have been given a lick of Farrow and Ball's Cornforth White which is actually a very lovely pale grey and with any luck the carpets will be fitted this week which means an end to three months of bedroom sharing for these two and I actually think they're going to miss each other!  

The Family Bathroom

new bathroom.JPG

The family bathroom is the last room on the renovation hit list but is by no means least. We've gone all out on period detailing with luxury double height skirtings, deep coving and a central ceiling rose to really make the room feel grand. As an extra treat, we've re-used the fireplace from the old dining room as a feature for the chimney breast wall. It won't be a working fireplace but it will add further drama to the room. I've ordered the biggest bathtub I could find for a truly indulgent spa-like experience in this bathroom - the ultimate switch off sanctuary for our busy team (and big enough to cope with at least a couple of mucky footballers)

Again I'm keeping the bathroom fixtures and fittings classic because I want a timeless feel that will be impossible to fall out with. Throughout this renovation, I have been conscious of not repeating our past decorating mistakes. We have always tried to do the best we could afford, but in many cases it has led to additional, unnecessary expenditure further down the line. This bathroom is for keeps so I make no apologies for its safe-ness design wise. There are lots of places in a home where you can experiment with trends, but in my mind, the bathroom isn't one of them. 

Downstairs

kitchen update.JPG

We have held off installing the flooring downstairs until most of the muck and debris is out of the way and we're hopeful that we are approaching that welcome milestone very soon. I've actually got used to the raw concrete floor in the kitchen/ dining area but I'm sure the lovely herringbnone Amtico we have chosen will be the perfect icing on the cake. 

Speaking of cake, it's t'husband's birthday weekend, it's sunny outside and there's a half eaten chocolate sponge cake with my name on it within arm's reach. I'm a good half stone heavier at the end of this renovation than I was at the beginning which I put largely down to the comfort eating and increased wine consumption that has helped see me through. Still, there's every possibility that we will be living on rice and beans for the next five years so let's call this next slice stockpiling and say no more about it, deal?

See you soon for some exciting big reveals (EEK!)

Happy weekend all,

Claire xx

 

 

 

The gift giving memo you need to steal

I'm not one of those people who can say, hand on heart, that their affections cannot be bought because today I found there's nothing quite like a parcel with my name on it to perk up a mediocre Wednesday.

Fluro write with me pencil £1.50  www.featherandnest.co.uk

Fluro write with me pencil £1.50 www.featherandnest.co.uk

That said, I wouldn't be moved to instantly write about the contents of said parcel unless I could describe it as "right up my alley". This one is. (See my Instagram stories for deets)

Feather and Nest - a new independent store selling quirky gifts and homewares is SO up my alley it makes me want to move to the picturesque Oxfordshire town in which it resides just so that I could be lucky enough to call it my local. Fortunately for t'husband they have a website as well.  

Now I don't know if Feather and Nest nicked my slogan, or I nicked theirs, but it's cool because the more believers in our shared theory that "your house should tell your story" the better. We like a curated house we do. As I keep saying, these days "House Candy" should have a place in our heart if it has a place in our home. This notion not only makes us excellent decorators but outstanding gift givers; because our pressies are both thoughtful and co-incidentally cool. 

I love buying gifts but I don't always have the time to do the job justice. Now that I've found a store that thinks on my wavelength I'm really happy that I can head straight here for items that can be delivered with all the love and affection I would normally put into a dedicated shopping trip. 

Please scroll past if you're moving house, having a baby, getting married or just so downright wonderful that you are deserving of a random gift from me this year because the following shopping memo might well spoil the surprise. 

Memo

Things to buy for people I REALLY like, but probably haven't got time to go shopping for:

1) For the New Baby

The baby gift stresses me. What size will they not have an overflowing drawer full of already? Is what I think is cute also what they will think is cute? Have the parents still got a sense of humour or are they just too bloody tired? The cactus lamp suits everyone. It's fun, it's cool, it's useful. When all the other gifts have been left unworn because by the time they fitted it was the wrong season... the cactus lamp will still look funky and remind the parents to stay cool.

Cactus lamp £10  www.featherandnest.co.uk

Cactus lamp £10 www.featherandnest.co.uk

2) For The Bestie

Cushion buying is a risky business but when you win at it, it's the gift that says you get your mate like no other. This cushion is a winner. It ticks a lot of trend boxes, I have to admit, but it's also a monochrome, palm print, tassle-tastic classic. Buy it for your very best and most stylish friend. And also, please, for me.

Palm print tassle cushion  www.featherandnest.co.uk

Palm print tassle cushion www.featherandnest.co.uk

3) For the Friend in Need.

Winnie the Pooh said that nobody can be un-cheered with a balloon and it's possibly the only one of his musings I don't 100% agree with. I'm not a fan of balloons, but I AM a fan of candles for making any mood unquestionably better. I am, however, a candle snob and not only do I want the candle to smell divine, but I want it to come in a really gorgeous pot that looks the part too. Paddywax has nailed this niche with a range of hand-poured soy wax candles, matching diffusers and handwash that smell yummy, but also leave you with the prettiest of little jars to re-use long after the flame has died out. 

Paddywax urban candle £10 www.featherandnest.co.uk

Paddywax urban candle £10 www.featherandnest.co.uk

4) For The Midlife-er 

Resist the urge to buy Gin. They've got tons. Buy them something nobody else has thought of instead. Buy them a quartz arrow pendant because excellent accessorising will see them stylishly through the midlife crisis. 

Arrow jade pendant (black) £38  www.featherandnest.co.uk

Arrow jade pendant (black) £38 www.featherandnest.co.uk

5) For The Student

Remind them to never lose their sparkle (and to please change their socks)

Sparkly lurex socks £8.50  www.featherandnest.co.uk

Sparkly lurex socks £8.50 www.featherandnest.co.uk

6) For the woman who has everything but can't seem to find any of it

This book will show her where it was all along. Kate Moss buys it for everyone she knows. Be more Kate.

Self Care for the Real world £16.99  www.featherandnest.co.uk

Self Care for the Real world £16.99 www.featherandnest.co.uk

7) For the one you share a bed with

Basically bottled love potion.

Magic organic body oil £28  www.featherandnest.co.uk

Magic organic body oil £28 www.featherandnest.co.uk

8) For the one you were shitty to

Because it sucks to have to say sorry and we all need an ironic sloganed notebook to note down the people who are shitty to us.

Notebook £6.99  www.featherandnest.co.uk

Notebook £6.99 www.featherandnest.co.uk

9) For the girl that thinks she's SJP

Because a clashing purse is an instant outfit update and this one looks way more expensive than it is.

Turquoise purse £22  www.featherandnest.co.uk

Turquoise purse £22 www.featherandnest.co.uk

10) For The Homemaker

An anglepoise lamp in must have pastel green avec coper hinges. A bringer of lightness and positive chi in one chic, yet totally useful package? I mean, give it away by all means. But hell, you deserve a gift too don't you?

Desk lamp £69  www.featherandnest.co.uk

Happy weekend you generous bunch. 

Claire xx

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to My House Sanctuary

Instagram followers will know that I’m having a bit if an identity crisis and the reason is this: The never-ending house renovation has knocked the sugar coating off me. Too much House Candy has made me feel sick and I'm in search of sanctuary!

My fresh new interior thinking (and fresh eco kicks)

My fresh new interior thinking (and fresh eco kicks)

It's grated on me for a while, but the realisation that maybe I'd outgrown the House Candy label was all too evident last week. The snow had come to make a difficult living situation just that little bit more trying and a trail of discarded wet clothes led me to my boys who were thawing out watching Shrek in the lounge, the only room that remains unaffected by the house renovation. It was that bit at Shrek's kids' birthday party when the ogre can't cope with being nice anymore and lets rip with the most outrageous roar. 

When Shrek had had it with sweetness.

When Shrek had had it with sweetness.

"That's you!" they all laughed, hysterically.

Ha bloody ha.

Now I wouldn't normally take any notice, but there was something about party pooper Shrek that really struck a chord. There were all these people in his house, it was noisy and messy, he should be having fun and yet "ROOOOOOOOAAAAAARRRRRRRRRR". He just longed for his old life back and the sanctuary of the cosy little hideaway he used to call home. I totally get Shrek’s beef.

Life is stressful and our home should be our escape from that. When we come home, it’s important to feel relaxed and yet so often we come home to be faced with more mayhem. There’s the pile of ironing waiting for us, the kids to feed, the dog to walk, the bathroom to clean… the list goes on. That’s just life of course, but I totally believe that your surroundings can soothe your mental state and suddenly I'm all about interior design being my self-help for the home.

I’ve designed my new spaces with wellbeing in mind. I want to create a home that appeals to our senses and helps us all to be our best selves, not the fat, green ogre some of us have a habit of turning into. 

So that’s why I wanted a new start and a name change and why I'm hoping to re-launch the blog when I've finished re-launching my home! The decision may appear to have come out of the blue, but please know that it actually comes from a good place in my heart and a better place in my home. 

My House Sanctuary is definitely where I’m at style-wise at the moment thanks to the opportunity I've had to start over with the house renovation. The clear outs have made me vow never again to fill my space with pretty stuff just for the sake of it. It takes up space in my house and my head that I no longer have room for. 

Maximalism suddenly feels too chaotic for me. Trends feel too fickle, flat pack too throwaway. I've filled WAY too many skips and would really like to leave more than landfill as my legacy when I'm gone.  I've been involved with every little detail of re-designing my living space and am excited to show you how it turns out over the next few weeks. But this time around, I'm not looking to wow you with a jaw-dropping instagram hit of a house. I want it to be more laid back than that, more soulful in its styling. Be prepared to be under-whelmed!

I've always said that your house should tell your story and My House Sanctuary feels like the next logical chapter in the design journey for me. I've learnt so much about myself in the last six months and would like to think it's time to lose the candy floss fluffiness and get serious about my style. I''m all about relaxed living spaces that give us less reason to lose it.

Soooooo, a refreshed blog is in the pipeline and hopefully I will be ready for a bit of a re-launch when the house is finished in a couple of months' time. That surely means we need a party right? (I'll be the green monster stifling a roar)  

Happy Mother's Day to all you other Mummy Hustlers out there. I've just had the most amazing news that tomorrow's football match is off due to waterlogged pitch which means breakfast in bed is most definitely ON. How's this for a bedroom sanctuary tho?

Fornasetti II Collection Chiavi Segrete wallpaper by Cole and Son

Fornasetti II Collection Chiavi Segrete wallpaper by Cole and Son

Claire x