The House Candy house keeping you might want to memo

My absence from the interior blogging scene has been noted and my sick leave is up. Today I clocked back in to work, delighted with the new House Candy HQ (see below) and excited to begin a new project that I think you’re going to love.

Newly ‘undecorated’ House Candy HQ

Newly ‘undecorated’ House Candy HQ

When I started this blog five year’s ago, I gave myself a space to vent. The Candy Files feature (in which I cover what’s hot, what’s not and what’s what at my place) was my way of sifting through the interior inspos and working out what styles I craved more of as well as those I needed to swerve.

As the blog grew, I decided this feature was a bit me, me, me. There was nothing else like it amongst the blogs I was reading, so I figured it must be too weird and dropped it. Valuable time away has taught to me to love my weird, so after a little emergency CPR and a catchy new name, I’m delighted to announce that My House Candy House Keeping is at your service.

Please look at this feature as our Monday interior style memo. It’s the basics we need to be thinking about as we go about our interior business. In a niche that is increasingly noisy, it’s good to do a spot of mental housekeeping to keep our personal home style in check. Here I’ll be helping you decide what home styling To Do, what To File for future ref and what To Shred.

It’s a space to share my weekly House Candy crushes, highlight new products and jump on emerging trends - ideally before they become a trend, because that’s about the time we should shred them. Fickle, ya? That’s fashion for you darlings, do try and keep up.

I’ll also relish the opportunity to rant about interior shizz that has got my goat and whole heartedly invite you to join me on the House Candy HQ therapy couch, by letting me know your interior beef too.

So come on. This crap won’t sort itself out. Let’s get to work…

Top of this week’s summer interior style agenda is Bringing The Outside In.

TO DO: Break through the white ceiling

I recently wallpapered my bathroom ceiling with Chimney Swallows wallpaper by Designer’s Guild and the effect was both pretty cool and pretty liberating.

Chimney Swallows wallpaper  by John Derian for Designers Guild

Chimney Swallows wallpaper by John Derian for Designers Guild

This room is a tricky space to decorate due to the vast sloping ceiling and a key feature is the large skylight above the claw foot bath. How better to embrace the view from outside - all chimney pots, tree tops and feathered friends - than by bringing it inside? The room has become instantly more relaxing. A bath in here is accompanied by birdsong and cloud gazing which makes it my go to for a bit of me time; it’s a luxurious thing to have but it feels like my own little spa like retreat. (I call it The Bird Bath)


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This emerging trend to maximise your interior impact by boosting a boring white ceiling with colour or pattern deserves a blog post all of its own. So if you’re wondering whether or not to devote more attention to your ceiling, check back in with me later this week when I will be rounding up my favourite looks for the fabled fifth wall.

TO SHRED - BBQ Beef. Is it really worth it?

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The heatwave made a fleeting visit to Yorkshire and it was one of those perfect weekends where we ate alfresco and drank gin in the garden ‘til the sun went down. We didn’t cook outside though, because barbecues give me beef and not the kind you want in a burger.

All that to-ing and fro-ing from the kitchen. All that smoke in your eyes and rodent attracting food debris that you meant to sweep up but decided to leave until the morning.

I mean, I love going to other people’s BBQ’s, I DO. I love nothing more than being handed a glass of Pinot and gestured towards a fold away chair whilst someone sweats it out on my behalf with a dozen spitting sausages. Pass me the flamingo patterned paper napkins, I AM IN.

I’m a great BBQ guest, truly I am. I bring impressive Pomegranete rainbow salads that I may or may not have decanted from M&S and passed off as my own work. But hosting a BBQ? And all that washing up that has to be done whilst everyone else get’s stuck into Twister on the lawn? If it’s OK with you I’ll just order in kebabs, Ye?

TO FILE - Cane furniture

Rattan Peacock chair (currently out of stock) £250  www.grahamandgreen.co.uk

Rattan Peacock chair (currently out of stock) £250 www.grahamandgreen.co.uk

I’m insane for cane just now and particularly in love with Graham and Green’s new rattan range. The natural rattan peacock chair is a beauty as an extra dining chair that can be picked up and taken outside with a cuppa to catch the last of that evening sun.

But let’s face it, if you can be bothered to look for it there’s enough kitch cane around in charity shops and on Ebay to cobble this look together for less. What’s important is that you hunt out the more unusual items and keep your eye on the ball, literally, because rounded shapes are where it’s at. Try this cute curved number for size , it was recently listed on Ebay for a measly Buy It Now price of £32.99 and with the right cushion and a paper parasol in your Gin Fizz, it hits all the right vintage notes. Agreed?

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That’s the Outside In business ticked off, you can get back to the day job now. Who knew style admin could be so simple? Next Monday I’ll be looking at art trends. To neon or not to neon, that is the question? Are you still mad for a bit of the bright stuff or are you turning up a pointy Parisian nose to anything that’s too in-yer-face?

Ping me with your problems, hit me with your wins. Here at House Candy HQ my door is always open to my Interior brothers and sisters. We are in this style business together comerades.

Salut!

Claire x

An identity crisis saved my style, so I threw a fashion party

Two months after filling my house full of fashion and interiors luvvies and I’m still on a styling high.

My dressing room all ready for the house tour

My dressing room all ready for the house tour

Back in March I teamed up with my favourite local independent clothes shop, Moo Boutique Yorkshire, to host a fashion show and house tour, having recently refurbished my home and launched my home styling service. 

I’d regularly had chats with Moo’s owner, Ness, over the dressing room curtain, trying on garments whilst discussing my blog and musing over social media and its confusing hold on us all. We both agreed on loving it for its inspiration and sense of community and we also shared our concerns over its impact on individuality, town centre sustainability and mental health. (Well I had a LOT of clothes to try on, okay?) 

Whilst Instagram is a great tool for appreciating the style of others, trying to emulate someone else’s look, or comparing your own to a stranger’s can be dangerous territory. Nothing beats actual human interaction for finding out what suits you and makes you feel the best version of yourself.  And this applies to styling your home as much as it does yourself. So Ness and I came up with the idea of getting the girls round for a fun night involving lots of Prosseco and ALL of the style chats covering interiors (me) and fashion (Ness). 

When Moo Boutique X My House Candy do catering… Cupcakes by  Sweetcakes

When Moo Boutique X My House Candy do catering… Cupcakes by Sweetcakes

Anyone can host a Moo Boutique Yorkshire fashion event, you don’t need to be a blogger or a business. You do need to tolerate high pitch squealing however. Especially now that Ness has brought unique brands such as Silvan Heach and Sophie Schnoor to our attention … and then dangles them like fat juicy carrots in your very own living room.

Moo Boutique pop up shop at my house

Moo Boutique pop up shop at my house

In fact my whole new kitchen extension was turned into a cool pop up shop for the evening, with a huge rail of clothes containing samples of each item available in store. We poured over the riot of colour and pattern that is Spring/Summer ’19 (quickly making me realise hoe much I needed to inject this vibe into my home). 

And whilst excitement mounted for the mini fashion show, I took full advantage of the love in the room to introduce my fledgling styling business and my desire to help people nurture and nail their own unique style identities through their home decor choices. 

In renovating my own house, I learned so much about my personal style and recognised how much of it I’d sacrificed at the hands of social media. I’d acquired “stuff” that looked good in other people’s homes, that had potential to generate likes from total strangers. I’d somehow lost touch with what made me tick, caring instead about what might do it for my followers. In short, I’d lost my style mojo and I had to go right back to basics to find it again.  Through a process of editing, more than accumulating, I got my creativity and sense of identity back so that it truly felt like a home that brought out the best in all of us.  It is this lesson that I feel able to offer to others through My House Candy Home Styling service. 

I used to happily jump on the “Ban the Beige’ interior bandwagon, but now I recognise that we’re all different. Some of us like dark, some of us like light. Some go for clashing colour and print, others are more reserved. AND THAT”S OKAY! It would be a really boring world if we all decorated our homes in the same style. I wouldn’t recommend you paint your sideboard bright pink (like I did) no more than I’d suggest you buy a ruffled micro mini, just because it’s having a fashion moment. 

What is important is that we understand what brings out the best in us and fully celebrate our identities through the way we communicate style. Both in the way we dress our homes and the way we dress ourselves. 

This turning point in my personal style meant that I no longer wanted the latest dress or the sell out shoes. I wanted a look that was 100% about me and therefore felt as good as it looked. It was about being comfortable in my own skin and dressing to please nobody but myself. I realised it was the personal items that I had sourced from small independent stores and even flea markets that communicated my true aesthetic and made my home unique. It suddenly became important to me to  nurture my unique fashion style too. 

So back to the Moo Boutique Frow that was happening in my own front room…

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Four of Ness’s real life customers, spanning all age ranges did a very professional job of modelling a selection of the latest summer looks available at Moo Boutique Yorkshire. And once we’d eyed up the styles we fancied, we all dived back into the rails, trying on as much as we liked in the comfort of my downstairs loo, but with the added bonus of a bunch of mates waiting on to let us know which of the goodies were keepers. 

So if your idea of clothes parties is a bit old school… a bit tupperware party without the stacking plastic boxes…. please think again.

A Moo Boutique Yorkshire fashion party is a great excuse to get the girls round. To get honest, friendly fashion advice. To support a local business. To celebrate your own real life community. And to get inspired about nurturing your own unique style. Not a stranger’s on a grid.

Sometimes we need someone behind the curtain, letting us know that what we are feeling on the inside is working on the outside too. Sometimes we need someone (and The Moo Crew are good at this) to tell us that our legs are bloody gorgeous, actually, that we can rock the silk floral playsuit that we never dared to try and these wedges-of-dreams will prove it. 

Style is as personal as you are. It can’t be bought, it can only be nurtured. And no matter how cool or expensive the wallpaper is, or how coveted the must-have jumpsuit is… it won’t look or feel just right unless it suits your individuality.

Please drop me a line if you need help nailing a room you’ve lost the plot with, or want to add the finishing touches to a scheme that’s missing something, but you’re not sure what.

Or if all you want to fill your room with is your favourite people and tons of gorgeous clothes, pop in and see Ness about hosting your own Moo Boutique Yorkshire party at your home or business. It can also be a brilliant fundraising event with 100% of ticket sales donated to your chosen charity. 

I don’t know about you but I think I can feel a fresh style #MOOvement in the making and, zero apologies for the pun,  it feels so much better than following the herd.

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For Fauxs Sake Get Involved in Fake Spring

My favourite abbreviation just got a new meaning and I think it might stick.

Because For Faux’s Sake (FFS) people…. if you do nothing else interior-wise this Spring, please check out the new breed of artificial flowers that have arrived along with the fake Spring weather.

Faux flowers by  Graham and Green  putting a Spring in my step

Faux flowers by Graham and Green putting a Spring in my step

Faux plants have been rocking my world ever since I was lucky enough to visit Abigail Ahern’s house for one of her design masterclasses.

Abigail’s Fauxs are the dream and if you don’t live near her drop dead gorgeous store in Islington, you can buy them online, (currently 50% with code AA50) or in Heals and via her exclusive Debenhams range also online and in store. (More of these later)

Abigail taught us how to soften a space with an abundance of greenery and it came at a time when we were all far too busy to keep any form of house plant alive and actually, that feeling bothered us. Abigail’s were a new league of faux house plant, as far removed from any we’d seen in a dentist’s waiting room. Succulents reigned supreme and suddenly we were all saving up for that thing we never knew we needed in suburban England - the giant faux cactus.

Life got greener and more exotic and I was amongst a lot of people forced to eat their prickly words when they said fake plants were tacky.

The Modern Day of The Triffids - When Abigail Ahern’s succulents took over the interiors world.

The Modern Day of The Triffids - When Abigail Ahern’s succulents took over the interiors world.

Since then, my house has gradually filled up with fauxs as I’ve both realised and enjoyed the positive effect that surrounding yourself with greenery - real or not real - has on your wellbeing as well as the aesthetic of a room. Plants are in the same league as curtains and books in their ability to calm a space, add depth to it and are pretty much the cutest way I can think of to hide unsightly features such as plug sockets and lamp wires.

Until now however, I’ve been reluctant to buy faux flowers. Leafy greens are one thing, realistic looking blooms are quite another.

Faux flower shops are cropping up all over the internet,  Graham and Green’s  selection is hard to beat.

Faux flower shops are cropping up all over the internet, Graham and Green’s selection is hard to beat.

Now don’t get me wrong, if I was a millionnaire I would absolutely fill my home with fresh flowers (after feeding the hungry and homeless obvs).

If ever I find a spare fiver to treat myself, supermarket flowers are my go-to. Twenty quid and I might indulge in some from the florist. £40 and I have been known to skip, like the proverbial Spring Chicken, to the early morning flower market for armfuls of flora and forna that I can get creative with and live out all of my flower shop fantasies. (Well I am that strange breed that had a shelf incorporated into the stairwell panelling for the sole purpose of displaying flowers, remember?)

But it’s not always possible to justify splashing the cash on fresh flowers. The new breed of realistic faux flowers are therefore an interior stylist’s dream and a great investment to have in, should you want to inject a bit of Springtime joy into an interior, but would really quite like that feeling to last all year round.

Here are some of my favourite faux flowers currently putting a Spring in my step and all available online (tap the image to scroll more) :

Abigail Ahern Botanicals from £6 per stem

Graham and Green faux flowers from £6.97 per stem

Next artificial arrangements from £7

Designer blooms at Debenhams from £10 per stem

There’s still an art to arranging faux flowers and I had my own fun with some I selected from the extensive range at my local Dunelm store (they don’t sell fauxs online). Some of the silk flowers were not for me, but in and amongst were some truly amazing buys at unbeatable prices. I got about a dozen stems, mixing alliums, orchids and some tall stemmed bluebell type flower (not their official name) and the whole lot cost me less than £50. That works out about £4 per stem and it promises to be still be making a statement this time next year. How’s that for cost effective?

My Dunelm faux flower arrangement

My Dunelm faux flower arrangement

Does that make me a Faux Florist? … I’m pretty sure it does.

So FFS are you getting involved or what? This is one interior trend that is set to blossom.

Claire











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. 

bikini.JPG

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