Boys Room Basics: The 4S formula that can't fail

We mothers of sons (MOS) are a formidable lot. We're allowed to be scathing about the mess and the mayhem we have to deal with on a daily basis, but just don't you diss our little Prince, okay? (insert Lioness emoji)

As mother of two Princes, I feel totally qualified to offer advice on interiors that bridge the sometimes cavernous style gap between mother and son. So imagine my delight when a couple of weeks ago I received a lovely email from a fellow MOS asking for my advice on this very subject. Well, specifically on the subject of bigger boy's rooms, since when they reach double figures they start having their own pesky interior design opinions don't they? And the problem is, they have a nasty habit of being different from ours.

I was therefore prompted to write a quick blog post to cover off everything I've learnt so far in my parenting/decorating journey. My aim is to give all my MOS sisters out there a quick reference guide for when they're dragging a reluctant tween or teenager round Ikea and could really do with keeping moaning down to a minimum. 

We're fresh from exam week here at House Candy HQ, which has inspired an unusually mathematical approach to this particular blog post, but I'm hoping you'll thank me for it's simplicity. I'm calling it the 4x(S) = Sorted technique. Don't panic it's not rocket science (it's not even interiors science) but it works and It goes like this:

 Start a revolution from his bed. Oasis print £6 + shipping by JoeOliver Design from  Etsy

Start a revolution from his bed. Oasis print £6 + shipping by JoeOliver Design from Etsy

S = STORAGE

The good news is, the clutter that comes with little boys reduces in adverse proportion to their height. The bad news is, the clutter gets uglier and smellier.

Where once there were train tracks to store, lego to contain, superheroes to control; now there are trainers to snapchat, caps to collect and school books to randomly scatter over bedroom floors. All of this needs managing and my go-to storage solutions are as follows:

1) Lockers

 Lockers Image from Aundraskinner Interiors. 

Lockers Image from Aundraskinner Interiors. 

I like the industrial look for boy's rooms. Nothing too shiny or too white because it's guaranteed not to stay that way for very long. Danny Zuko may be to blame, but for me American high school style lockers are the perfect way to trick your son into keeping his school books tidy. This full height set from Maison Du Monde is perfect.

 Metal locker storage £459  Maison Du Monde

Metal locker storage £459 Maison Du Monde

2) Shelves

I'm not sure boys ever grow out of their love of trophies do they? It's therefore worth investing in some cool shelves to put them on. Trophies are dust gatherers, for sure. They are also a b***ard when you accidentally knock one over and it falls on your big toe. My advice (if you can't keep them out of sight), is to keep them way out of reach on rustic style shelves. I haven't personally tried this old crate/shelf solution, but if I were a more able DIY-er, I totally would.  

 Shelves made from vintage crates or drawers. Image from Interieur.fr

Shelves made from vintage crates or drawers. Image from Interieur.fr

3) Solid Drawers

I have a problem with flat pack furniture. No matter how well it's put together the force with which my boys pull on handles (no pun intended) means that the front of the drawer will eventually come off. That's why I'd much rather buy an old, solid set of vintage drawers than a cheap modern flat pack kit. 

That said, sometimes, old drawers can be hassle too. The drawers need to run smoothly otherwise they will forever be hanging out. They also need to be a modern size and shape to fit with most bedrooms and sometimes, to get exactly what you want, you have to splash the cash. I love Loaf's bedroom furniture for it's combo of vintage style and practicality that both mother and son can get on board with. 

 Lumber Chest £645  Loaf

Lumber Chest £645 Loaf

This is the Lumber drawer unit which I teamed with Loaf's Lourdes wardrobe in my son George's room for a more relaxed, less super-styled look which suits him perfectly.

4) Under bed storage boxes

 Vardo under bed storage £25  Ikea

Vardo under bed storage £25 Ikea

Their hot dogs do nothing for me, but I have yet to leave Ikea without that sense of fulfilment that comes with loading one of their many storage boxes into my boot. These zipp-able, boxes on wheels are perfect for the mates' sleepover bedding, spare shoes, winter woolies etc that can be kept nicely out of sight, through closed season.

  S = STUDIES

Trust me, adore him as you do, you'll want your little Prince out of the way when he is doing his homework. All that huffing and puffing is draining, and when you finally snap and spill your late afternoon vodka on his French written exam you'll hate yourself for it. (Don't judge okay, I've been a stay at home mum a LONG time)

A decent desk and chair is a must for a teen room. I picked up a vintage leather swivel chair for £8 at my first every auction and I still can't believe my luck. I  teamed it with the cheapest (and chicest) white Ikea trestle, proving that you don't have to spend a fortune to get a hip, eclectic vibe going on.

If you've got a reasonable budget however, Made.com is the place to go for modern, stylish desks that will suit pupil and pocket. Try these for size:

 

S = SLEEP

When it comes to bedding, go plain, go non-iron, go frequent wash friendly. I've got a grey cotton jersey set in both boy's rooms and they absolutely love it for the comfort factor, although I do get concerned about the sweat situation in summer. Another look I love and one which works brilliantly well in older boy's rooms is washed linen. Don't try ironing it, that dishelved look is what we're aiming for here  - and in fact what we're likely to be embracing for the forseeable future. 

 Washed linen duvet set £79.99  H&M Home

Washed linen duvet set £79.99 H&M Home

A couple of cushions is still a nice way to dress the beds and here's a nice idea to make them personal to the child.

These two bad boys were made from my husband's vintage football jumpers, which is a super nifty way to ensure that:

a) You can acknowledge the football thing without totally compromising on taste

b) You can be sure your husband never, EVER wears a St George cross football jumper again.

S = SHIZZ

No, I haven't quite run out of S words, in fact this final one is probably the most important on my lad's room check list.  You see, Shizz (cap S) is what gives a room individuality and as our kids grow up with intense social media pressure to look and act a certain way, it's the MOS duty to totally celebrate their individuality.  

It was a special moment three weeks ago when my son came to me with his birthday money and a screen shot of an art print he'd sourced on Etsy. Whatever he'd have gone for, I would have tried to embrace, in the hope that his involvement with creating his personal space might eventually encourage him to keep it tidy.* Anyway, the fact that George chose a cartoon style image of the Gallagher brothers in their 90s heydey, well let's just say I may have shed a proud tear or two.

  Liam and Noel print  £6 + shipping Joe Oliver design on Etsy

Liam and Noel print £6 + shipping Joe Oliver design on Etsy

If you've seen my Instagram feed recently you'll know that I've also treated myself to an Oasis inspired artwork, this super cool Patti Robbin's Don't Look back in Anger print.  

What was once the theme tune to my student days, has since became the antidote anthem to the Manchester terror attack and 100% sales of this print, available from www.nickiekelly.com goes to support the victims. It's therefore the most supersonic artwork money can buy and - I'm biting my tongue but I just can't stop it - your son's love for you will surely Live Forever if you click here to order yours. Sorry Liam, I'm cooler than that, honest.

George's collection of baseball caps, most of which he doesn't wear but can't possibly part with causes me beef. But hey, I've decided to roll with it (really?) and have installed a long row of hooks for him to display them on, similar to the one below which is shown alongside another brilliant storage/artform solution for trainers. 

Of course your son/s will have their own particular Shizz and thinking of a tasteful way to control it, let alone a solution beginning with the letter S may be sending your stress levels soaring. If that's the case, drop me a line and I'll do my best to help. See, we may be neurotic and slightly aggressive, in a don't-mess-with-my-cubs kind of way, but we MOS sisters understand one another, right? That's why I'm totally here for you, to lend a compassionate ear and a supersized bottle of Fabreeze. 

Yours in sisterhood,

Claire X

*This theory has yet to be proven

 

Can we please talk Parquet Porn?

I know your type, you're a Parquet Perv aren't you? You've got whole entire Pinterest boards devoted to the stuff. You want it so bad you catch yourself thinking about walking all over it in 6 inch stiletto heels, then you have to splash yourself with tap water and tell yourself it's okay, it was just a bad dream; in your house everyone will be made to wear slippers.

 Take me to bed Chevron parquet in Bedroom 16 Montagu Square, By D-Raw

Take me to bed Chevron parquet in Bedroom 16 Montagu Square, By D-Raw

I get you, because I'm a Parquet Perv too. I have been for over ten years, since I took possession of my house keys, raced over the threshold, heart pounding as I ripped back the flea ridden burgundy Axminster to find... some b***ards had ripped out a full Victorian dining room of the stuff and flogged the lot on Ebay. Cue heartbreak.

I won't settle in this house until parquet is back where it belongs and at last I have found the perfect opportunity, with some exciting new build plans in the offing at House Candy HQ. This all calls for extra Parquet Porn as I research the styles and options available. Want to see? Oh I bet you do, you filthy ....

Parquet Particulars

 Parquet Porn pinched from www.lovingit.pl 

Parquet Porn pinched from www.lovingit.pl 

Parquet is made of small, loose blocks of either solid or engineered wood and is characterised by a repeating, geometric laying pattern. This style of floor has been around for centuries and can be found anywhere; from country homes, to grand public buildings and retro school halls. Technically speaking, parquet has all the advantages of solid wood, but is designed to make a style statement.

The Herringbone pattern is highly en vogue right now and looks elegant and sophisticated in both light...

and dark colourways.

 More Parquet porn on  PInterest

More Parquet porn on PInterest

Most wood parquet is made from oak, pine, ash and walnut, but you can find exotic species available at equally exotic prices if you're looking for something a little different. 

Reclaimed or engineered?

Personally I like the idea of a true Victorian parquet to replicate what would have been in my dining room originally (of course I'd like it even better if the original hadn't been ripped up, but there we go... move on Claire).

Reclaimed parquet offers unbeatable authenticity and character, but before you go bid happy on Ebay and bag yourself a chunk of the old Town Hall, be sure to know what exactly you are buying and the work involved in the sale.

For example, a stunning ex-school parquet floor, up for a bargain quick sale, may actually involve you taking the blocks up yourself. Even if there is a tempting picture of the blocks all neatly stacked on a pallet, bear in mind that they may need sanding down (yes all 6 surfaces) and bitumen removing before they can be treated and re-laid. That's a lot of elbow grease and a LOT of mess. Totally worth the bragging rights if you've got the time and skills to do the job properly, but if not, look out for firms like aptly named Parquet Flooring who will supply required quantities of ready-to-lay reclaimed parquet blocks for a nominal extra charge.

 Premium oak parquet by  Parquet Flooring

Premium oak parquet by Parquet Flooring

If it's a super slick finish you're after and something a lot less labour intensive, you're probably better opting for engineered wood.

This large scale light oak is £47 per square metre and the increasingly popular Chevron laying pattern offers a clean, modern take on the traditional parquet floor.

 Luxury Engineered Prime Chevron parquet Oak £47  Timber Trade Direct

Luxury Engineered Prime Chevron parquet Oak £47 Timber Trade Direct

 Perfect Chevron Parquet in dreamy dark stain. See my  Parquet Pinterest board  for more where this came from

Perfect Chevron Parquet in dreamy dark stain. See my Parquet Pinterest board for more where this came from

What if you move in a house and discover you have got parquet under the old carpet (yay) but it's in the more old fashioned pattern of basketweave (boo). 

Imagination is required, and maybe a bit of professional help, but with luck on your side it can still look amazing, in a retro kind of way.

basketweave lounge.jpg

Cheat or Chic?

Now if I say the word laminate you're going to go all funny on me aren't you? Don't panic, I won't go there. But I will talk about click together parquet planks that no one would ever know was not the real thing. Richmond Engineered Herringbone Click Parquet Oak may sound like a bit of a mouthful, but is so simple to lay it means you can have a roomful down in a day. 

 Click together herringbone parquet £45 per sqm  Timber Trade Direct

Click together herringbone parquet £45 per sqm Timber Trade Direct

And finally, there's this. Waterproof parquet (aka posh vinyl floor tiles).

 Blonde Oak parquet floor, £45.50 per sqm  Karndean

Blonde Oak parquet floor, £45.50 per sqm Karndean

I  know, I know, it's not wood....it costs the same as the real stuff... why would you? Because you're a Parquet Perv, that's why. And it's a practical option for a lavish bathroom or a chic kitchen and if you/I can't have 50 SqM of stunning real wood reclaimed parquet anywhere else in the house, then for God's sakes let us have a few square metres of looky-likely parquet to enjoy whilst we're on the loo. Deal?

So that's where I'm at. Still perving, still pinning, still pining for a parquet floor to grace my new entrance hall and kitchen/diner.  Where are you on the parquet porn scale? Fancy it too, or does it bring back too many memories of school dinners? I'd love to know your thoughts on the subject. Please do drop me a line in the comments section or connect via any of the social media links below. 

Oh and if anyone is completely turned OFF by their original parquet and will be glad to see the back of it, please drop me a message, like NOW!

Claire x

Destination Cool - My vintage bus blinds arrive home

Now you know I like a pun and I'm afraid this one is unavoidable. As far as cool vintage up-cycling goes, this week I've played a blinder.

Check out my shiny new kitchen and dining room window dressings, made from one big, grubby vintage bus destination blind!

 Full length roman blind made from vintage bus destination blind

Full length roman blind made from vintage bus destination blind

And get this; all the destinations featured on the blinds are within an approximate three mile radius of my home. I mean it's not quite a hop on, hop off whistle stop tour of my life, but it's close enough.

En-route from kitchen to dining room there's the HQ of the job that got me into the home improvement industry, the market place where I pick up all my vintage treasures, even the football ground where last night my 8 year old signed his first professional contract. (Sorry but I promised him I'd mention it)

I picked up the full roll, measuring 30ft and featuring 60 local destinations with the intention of actually making money instead of spending it for a change. Framed and mounted vintage bus blinds can sell around the £100 mark from cool on-line vintage dealers such as Pedlars. Suddenly I saw pound signs in my eyes and envisaged a little kitchen table industry taking off. It was an easy sell to my financial advisor husband who quickly did the maths and began salivating at the prospect of a 50% return in profits. 

Sadly for him that's where my entrepreneurial journey ended and my vintage bus route took a different, more costly direction.  On recognising that there might not be quite the same international market for destinations such as Sheepridge via Brackenhall as say, Waterloo Via Westminster, I bit the bullet and decided to have completely unique roman blinds made instead. 

Just the ticket for adding a bit of urban edge, with a homely twist though eh?* All aboard the House Candy fun bus passengers, next stop Etsy. Or thereabouts.

Would you want your neighbourhood emblazoned on your windows? Let me know your thoughts below and thank you SO much for the lovely comments on my last post, you have truly made my week!

*Eh? Is the Yorkshire equivalent of the modern "no?" rhetoric style questioning frequently voiced on bus route 332 from Marsden to Elland via Salendine Nook.

Ikea, the Vogue squad & me - The Candy Files

The Candy Files; What's hot, what's not and what's what at my place. This week:

House Candy = Gallery Walls

 Mosslander Picture Ledge £8.50  Ikea

Mosslander Picture Ledge £8.50 Ikea

I'm lethal with a hammer. I get the urge to put up some pictures and before you know it there's a wham, bam, thank you mam style of holy crap carnage going on.

So when I framed a whole set of 10 vintage Vogue magazine covers this week, my husband hid the tool box. He knows, as deep down so do I, that lining up two rows of five perfectly straight pictures is not in my DNA. (And DIY is definitely not in his) 

Hurrah then for Ikea who yes, once again, have come up with a genius quick fix solution to creating an oh-so-ofthemoment interior trend. Of course they have addressed the gallery wall situation with their usual amount of affordable chic, that has you slapping your forehead in a WHY-DIDN'T-I-THINK-OF-THAT stylie. This unassuming little picture ledge is the result:

 Mosslander Picture ledge with built in groove!

Mosslander Picture ledge with built in groove!

Valkommen to my life Mosslander, the ready to fix picture rail that allows me to go framed print mental whenever I like and without the need for hammer, nails or subsequent marital unrest.

Watch this space as these fancy flapper girls prepare to strut their stuff, Scandinavian style on my walls.

IMG_0937 (2).jpeg

Fine and Candy = Gallery Goals

  Vogue 100  exhibition National Portrait Gallery, London

Vogue 100 exhibition National Portrait Gallery, London

My life plan de-railed when, aged 21, I took the first job offered to me at a Leeds PR firm instead of pursuing my dream to write for glossy magazines in London. Damn.

But one happy marriage, countless suburban school runs and a house I could never afford in the smoke later - and I promise I'm not bitter. Whilst the career goals may be in the gutter, the magazine obsession is still very much alive and I'm super giddy to be nurturing that love this weekend at the Vogue 100 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, which runs until 22nd May.

You know, I don't often pat myself on the back, but when I picked up the book of vintage Vogue covers (framed above) for £2 at a second hand market back in January I was a bit smug. Smugness turned to euphoria when I learned that it was Vogue Magazine's centenary year and they were marking the occasion with  an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery featuring 280 prints from the hallowed Conde Nast archive. The collection tells the story of one of the most influential fashion magazines of all time and for me, a bible of style, glamour and a life just that little bit out of reach. (It's true, an extra four inches would have made all the difference). 

With any luck, the compulsory trip to the museum shop afterwards will see me adding to my collection of Vogue cover drawings with some examples of their iconic fashion photography too. Get ready for overload my new picture ledge friend. 

Candy Pandy = Gallery Silence

 le-silence

le-silence

I'm not sure how to put this without sounding a) desperate or b) unprofessional. Here goes: You couldn't drop me a comment from time to time could you? It would make all the difference to this blog if we could "reach out" to one another a bit more. It's a phrase I loathe but a feeling I love. Call me needy but I just want to hear what you like, what you don't like, what makes you click so that I can keep improving this creative space and turn it into one awesome little gallery of interior ideas worth shouting about. 

Make some noise people! And have a super fun week in the process.

Claire x