Share a shot of your home to win £1,000

Anglian Homes is giving you the chance to bag yourself £1,000 in an online interior styling competition, which in my book is the perfect excuse to faff around at home taking pictures.  

To enter, all you have to do is take a photo of somewhere in your home that you have styled yourself and post it to their website, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook feed using the hashtag #STLEDBYME  

It could be a piece of up-cycled furniture that you particularly proud of, a whole new kitchen update that you have undertaken or just a cute vignette from your home that demonstrates your unique styling prowess.

Here's my first entry (and you can expect a lot more since there's no limit to entries right up until 18th June). This is a vintage display cabinet that is now home to my favourite shoe collection. I had some mirrored glass fixed onto the back to give it some extra glamour and used a couple of my tried and tested styling props to make it insta-worthy.

If you need a helping hand, try these top tips for styling up a sideboard or cabinet:

1) Use a colour pop to attract attention (this yellow bag is a winner)

2) Prop pictures or mirrors up against the wall rather than having a big space between the furniture and a wall hanging.

3) Get the right mix of old and new so it doesn't look too dated, twee or catalogue perfect.

4) If in doubt, add a plant.

5) Employ the old book stacking trick to get varying heights going on. 

Don't forget to addd your location to your post because there is also a regional prize of £500 up for grabs which would come in really handy for the ultimate weapon in your styling armour ...

Leopard print sandals  Gianvito Rossi from Net-A-Porter

Leopard print sandals Gianvito Rossi from Net-A-Porter

Click here for more details of the competition.

Happy styling!



Why I'm checking in at Hotel House Candy

If the girl can't go to the swanky hotel, the swanky hotel must go to the girl. 

I love a hotel break. I love the whole checking in bit and counting down the door numbers to find my room. I love cocktails in the hotel bar and night caps from the mini bar. I love the free shampoos and the pillow menus (yes, I'm that posh). I love room service and breakfast on a tray with a side order of crisp newspaper. I love the fresh sheets, the fluffy towels and the manly robes. I love people watching and guessing whose having an affair with the hunky night porter. No way does that only happen on telly.

I totally get why Marilyn Monroe took a suite at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel instead of fending for herself and reckon if I was a millionaire spinster I'd do the same.

Thing is, I'm not.

In fact, I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that most days it feels like I'm the one running the B&B. More of a Fawlty Towers experience I admit, but with evening meal, laundry service and personal chauffeur thrown into the FREE room rate, I've yet to receive a formal complaint.

So I'm not quite sure whether it was the wannabe hollywood movie star in me, or the frustrated housekeeper that could not resist these burnished gold, mirrored letters at the flea market this week. They still have some LED strip lighting in them and I'm hoping to resurrect them to make a full on light-up sign. The question is for where?... The penthouse suite? The Lobby? The private members bar? A swish new bathroom complete with chandelier over the bath? 

I'm open to suggestions. Please do let me know what you think in the comments section. Meanwhile, there's the toilet paper corners to fold so I must dash.  

Claire xx

PS If you enjoyed your visit please help spread the love by giving this post a quick share on any of the socials whilst I get happy hour started in the bar. Nuts are complimentary :)

Welcome to Leeds, John Lewis

It's happening. John Lewis is set to officially open its doors to the lovely people of Leeds tomorrow, 20th October 2016 and we're all a little bit giddy about it.

Artist impression of John Lewis in the new  Victoria Gate  shopping complex, Leeds

Artist impression of John Lewis in the new Victoria Gate shopping complex, Leeds

So giddy in fact, that at 6pm last night, a few thousand of us formed a very sophisticated, middle class queue at the foot of the impressive new Victoria Gate shopping complex for an exclusive card holder preview evening.

At 6.05pm, we elbowed each other out of the way to get to the free fizz and canapes and, fuelled with bubbles and bitesize salmon en croute, we lapped up 4 floors of the kind of fabulousness John Lewis is famous for.

Regular readers might not have me down as a John Lewis girl. This is not the place to pick up a neon pink sideboard, I'll give you that. But there is a sensible side to me you know? With John Lewis, I know I'm going to get great quality and value for money. And I know I speak on behalf of my fellow Yorkshire folk when I say, we're bang up for that.

John Lewis is somewhere I head to for products I know are going to live up to their hype. And thanks to its unbeatable list of design collaborators, it is now, more than ever, on my go-to list for affordable, on trend house candy.

Here's a few of my favourite John Lewis homewares available on line and at the shiny new Victoria Gate store in Leeds:

1. Content by Conran coffee and side table set

Black enamel coffee table and 2 side tables £599  John Lewis

Black enamel coffee table and 2 side tables £599 John Lewis

2. Brushed Brass Flos IC Lights

Flos IC wall lights £260  John Lewis

Flos IC wall lights £260 John Lewis

3. West Elm Bar Cart

Brass bar cart £339  John Lewis

Brass bar cart £339 John Lewis

3. Joules Tableware

Joules dog plates and mugs from £9.95  John Lewis

Joules dog plates and mugs from £9.95 John Lewis

On Air light box £75  John Lewis

On Air light box £75 John Lewis

So I know you're all desperate to know what classic homeware items made it back to House Candy HQ?

Flamingo snow globe £15  John Lewis

Flamingo snow globe £15 John Lewis

Never knowingly Undersold, that's me. 

Welcome to West Yorkshire John Lewis, it's about time too. Doors open Thursday 20th October. Happy shopping all,

Claire x





Why my Bake Off dresser is the icing on the cake

There are three things that the latest series of The Great British Bake Off has influenced:

1) My choice in lipstick

2) My view on men wearing aprons

3) My latest upcycle

It was a subconscious decision to paint a knackered old pine dresser bright sky blue, but when it stood in place - like a giant, fondant covered cupcake ready for a baby shower - I knew there was more than a bit of the Bake-Offs about it. 

It was inevitable for a weak willed interior junkie such as me, that all this BBC candy coloured cabinetry would get me in the end. (It was either going to be that or the predictable Paul Hollywood crush and frankly it's just better this way).

Now as we are all well aware, baking is sexy again. Everyone's at it. Bun wars are rife, flaky pastry envy is a Thing and bread consumption is very much back in vogue. But all this comes at a cost and, to my husband's dismay, in our case, it came at the expense of a clean white minimalist kitchen.

You see, there comes a point in your baking journey when packets of chia seeds and fat juicy dates start hogging your cupboard space and you realise that a kitchen dresser could come in very handy. 

Now, the kitchen dresser situation can go two ways and I was keen for mine to be more of a Candice than a Mary Berry if you know what I mean?

The difference is ALL in the styling. 

My bright blue painted dresser

My bright blue painted dresser

Here's my recipe for creating a show-stopping piece of kitchen house candy, whilst avoiding all notions of middle aged twinset and pearls.

1) Be brash about your colour choice

Go as bold as you dare. Remember last week when Candice went all 'nude' on us? Oh the disappointment. Followed by the stark realisation that; if this is what a colour pop of lipstick can do to a face, what can an in-yer-face piece of painted furniture do to a room?

Sky blue has always been on my fave colour spectrum. In fact, this old stoneware tea pot kicked off my first ever vintage collection of Poole Pottery, also in this sweet 'n' tasty shade.

Vintage teapot from my collection of all things sky blue (Did someone say hoarder?)

Vintage teapot from my collection of all things sky blue (Did someone say hoarder?)

So, when the spray paint guy, desperate to get the damn dresser out of his workshop, pushed me to make a colour choice, I finally ripped off a sky blue corner of a copy of the Evening Standard magazine and waved it in his face.

"This will go with everything", I said... Well think of it this way, when has a bright blue sky ever looked out of place?

2) Use the top of the dresser to prop up pictures. 

If room height allows, go up a bit to knock out the safe proportions of the unit. A propped up picture is an easy way to achieve this and also an opportunity for you to display your favourite pieces of art. Better still, add a few framed prints and overlap them slightly... I don't know why, but it works.

3) Add greenery.

I know you know about shelfies and Ivy plants etc. but me not mentioning the importance of greens here would be like forgetting to prove during bread week. Doh!

4) Jars

Get de-cant happy and enjoy the added texture and subtle interest brought to your newly geeked up kitchen by nuts, seeds, grains etc all in different shaped jars.

Try Wilko, for airtight Kilner jars with clip lids and be sure to raid the charity shops for some retro styles as well.

5) Vintage vinyl


OK so it's confession time. The real reason I HAD to have a kitchen dresser was because I needed somewhere to put a Crosleys record player.

Crosleys record player £160  Urban Outfitters

Crosleys record player £160 Urban Outfitters

Oh, but have you seen the selection on offer from Urban Outfitters? A million swoons and then some. 

I went for the cream leather gold trimmed carry case and it works a treat with the bright blue backdrop. But imagine it sat on top of a blush pink sideboard too... I mean, pass me the cupcakes, it deserves a baby shower all of its own.  

Don't tell him, but I'm treating the House Candy Husband to 16 vinyl records (one from every year of marriage) to mark our wedding anniversary this month. Too cute, I know.

Here's what romantic gesture he's bought me in return...

Wilko  alphabet letter mugs £1 ... Because everyone loves a geek, right?

Wilko alphabet letter mugs £1 ... Because everyone loves a geek, right?

Happy Monday all (Now there's a vinyl I need to buy) Pucker up and let me know how you have been inspired this week, Bake Off or otherwise. I'd love to know your news.

Claire x






Coveting the Cook Book Look

It wasn't so much the Quinoa Nori Rolls, as the white washed brick walls and mismatched pastel stoneware that got me into new age healthy eating.

Ok the shiny hair helped. And the ironic slogan T? This I can work with. What I'm saying is, for a terrible cook - a mum that only this week discovered you can add frozen peas and sweetcorn to a pan of boiling rice and increase your kids' vitamin consumption by 50% ... for me, there needed to be more inspiration for clean eating than just the food. 

So thank you beautiful, healthy, Ella Woodward a.k.a Deliciously Ella. Thank you for your glowing skin and your well stocked Kilner Jars, displayed artfully on rustic open shelves. Thank you for your Buddha Bowl, Your Creamy Sweet Potato Risotto and your excellent taste in vintage style crockery and glassware. 

Thanks to you, I too have a new found spring in my step that, yes, may have a lot to do with the youth enhancing properties of avocado, but also coincides with a wholly satisfying healthy kitchen update too. 

Here's my recipe for coveting the delicious, nutritious, clean eating Cook Book Look at home. 

Bon Apetit.

1) White walls

White walls and colour pops are  Deliciously Ella's  trademark style  

White walls and colour pops are Deliciously Ella's trademark style  

White paintwork gives a subliminal message in most of the clean eating cook books currently en-vogue.  It also works wonders in helping all these amazing rainbow coloured foods that you are about to discover stand out.

I'd like to think I was all over the white kitchen vibe way before Ella. My kitchen is big, but not super sized and whilst I've experimented with brights and shades over the years, I always come back to white.

You could go Coconut Milk white if you like, but not Semi - Skimmed white which is too, y'know, dairy. 

2) Open Shelves

Deliciously Ella's deliciously cool shelf situation

Deliciously Ella's deliciously cool shelf situation

You need open shelves to nail this look. Rustic wooden ones are ideal but if, like me, you're stuck with a couple of lengths of white MDF, worry not. Overcome this with a neat stack of serving dishes - mismatched is best. Shelves should be beautiful, but functional and with all the little side dishes and dips you are going to produce, it's good to have a collection of suitable bowls and plates within easy reach. 

Flowers on shelves is a new discovery for me and OMG. What a difference a few stems of fuscia can make in pulling this whole I-just-found-this-in-the-garden-and-made-a-side-dish-with-it look together. 

3) Chopping boards

A sample of my growing chopping board collection!

A sample of my growing chopping board collection!

A LOT of chopping is involved with actual start-from-scratch cooking. But that's cool because chopping boards have become my new favourite kitchen accessory. Not only do they look nice leaning against the wall on the work top, but they hide ugly plug sockets and annoyingly placed switches too. At last count I had 5 chopping boards on the go. Anyone with 5 chopping boards can rustle up a good dinner, right? 

4) Statement dresser

Pinspiration for my dream kitchen dresser

Pinspiration for my dream kitchen dresser

If you've got room for one, get one. A brightly coloured painted dresser with glass doors at the top is on my dream kitchen wish list.

In it, I will stack more of that gorgeous vintage crockery I can't hold back from buying and some cool linen table cloths for when I really want to show off. On it, a big jug of random cooking utensils will sit on a pile of the latest clean eating cook books and there will be a healthy green plant tumbling off the top. Chef chic? I got this.

5) Blackboard

My homemade blackboard 

My homemade blackboard 

Great for letting your guests know which particular culinary delight you are treating their tastebuds to today and also useful for noting down the name of those elusive Buckwheat Groats you need to locate at the health food store.  

I LOVE my blackboard and as you may have seen on Instagram, am not afraid of chalking out a motivational saying or two. In fact it's a great way to pass the time whilst you are waiting for your lentils to boil. I made mine from an old mirror and it was super simple. See my post archive for a quick and easy weekend makeover project. 

6) Storage Jars

Storage jars make even the boring ingredients look pretty

Storage jars make even the boring ingredients look pretty

I've become a bit obsessed with jars. You will find this happens when you start buying different dry ingredients that otherwise leak out of soggy paper packets and become welded to your kitchen cupboard. I pick up all different types of jars from market stalls and charity shops, making sure that they have a perfectly airtight lid. It's a good idea to put them through the dishwasher a couple of times on a high heat setting to kill any odours.

If you prefer to buy new, you can't go far wrong with traditional clip top Kilner jars. 

Kilner Jars from  Amazon

Kilner Jars from Amazon


7) Pretty plate presentation

It never fails to amaze me how people are prepared to part with pretty plates. They chuck out their chintzy glass trifle bowls, their fluted edge platters and their painted floral soup bowls. And they replace them with a white Wilko dinner service without a thought for the lost #instafood styling opportunities. You need to know that this look is as much about the presentation as it is about the veg consumption. We are buying into a lifestyle here foodie friends. Do. Pay. Attention.

Which reminds me of the parting quote Ella leaves us with at the back of her beautiful book. It says:




And what she clearly forgot to add was:


If you're on board with this concept, please do show your love by voting for me HERE in the Interior Blog Awards, hosted by Amara. Voting takes just seconds - which is way less time than preparing Cauliflower Pizza but with ALL of the happiness inducing effects.

Thank you and happy weekend all,

Claire x  



The crazy lady with the nice jugs

The really cool thing about buying vintage* House Candy is that each piece comes with its own unique story.  More often than not, this is House Candy that finds you, rather than you finding it, like this pretty yellow jug I bought on one of those idyllic Sunday afternoon family canal walks.

My closest friends know all about "the walk". It's the one my kids really didn't want to go on, it being the middle of the Euros and all. The one, despite the uneven ground and recent heavy rains, they insisted on bringing scooters on. The one that involved me threatening to leave home if I had to ease the boys' boredom by playing one more game of Guess Which Footballer I'm Thinking Of... That walk.

But whilst out on "The Walk", at round about the time my dog produced a sloppy poo and just before my husband threatened to throw the Godforsaken scooters in the canal, we came across a crazy canal boat dweller who had decided to have a clear out.

She had set up a stall outside the canal boat a bit like the ones my sister and I created outside our house in the school summer holidays. It was a table laden with unwashed tat from the houseboat. 

Among the crazy lady's treasures were a broken sound system, some scenic coasters and a dirty, ink stained jug previously used to hold biros. Everything was 50p because she "needed to make some space before the boat was advertised on Airbnb".. True fact.

Now it was either a canny sales tactic or a tragic sob story, but upon showing an interest in her wares (and therefore avoiding another round of guess the frikkin' footballer) Crazy Lady told me how loathed she was to part with any of these precious artefacts; particularly the lovely yellow, slightly chipped, very ink stained, old jug-come-pen-pot that I was now holding in my hand.

The sight of a shiny 50p did nothing to ease the pain - quite the opposite in fact. Instead my keenness to pay appeared to evoke more happy memories of blissful pen storage and happy letter writing on the lovely old (but overcrowded) house boat. It wasn't until my husband suggested she keep the change from a one pound coin and I promised to give the the jug a loving family home, that the crazy house boat lady agreed to a sale and the yellow jug finally got new owners.

I wasn't lying to the crazy house boat lady. I do, actually, love this jug almost as much as she did. I love it because it is the most fabulous shade of vintage yellow that is difficult to replicate on new ceramics.

I love it because a handful of cheap supermarket flowers and garden picked blooms look amazing just plonked straight in it without all that faff of fancy arranging.

And most of all I love it because it reminds me of The Walk that started badly and ended beautifully.  Ending - since I know you are so desperate to hear the moral of this story - with us all:

a) Realising that there are actual human beings out there who haven't even heard of the Euros and know nothing of the pressures of rushing through quality family time in order to get back in front of the telly before kick off.

b) Feeling blessed that we don't live all alone, going slightly crazy on the Leeds to Liverpool canal. But have each other for family walks (however painful they may be) and endless games of Guess the Footballer.

c) Understanding that House Candy doesn't have to be about full height Crittal windows or reclaimed Moroccan tiles. Sometimes it can be about a 30 year old chipped yellow milk jug, which during its time has proven to be equally good at holding pens and peonies.

Happy weekend all, hope you get to enjoy some family time and perhaps a little bit of House Candy.

Claire xx

*vintage meaning stuff off of someone else


Chuck in the ChinTz

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

House Candy = Chintzy dresses

Grazia does granny chic.... and I think I'm in love.

Grazia does granny chic.... and I think I'm in love.

I'm a year older than last we met and am struck by a sudden and overwhelming desire to dress like a woman. Ideally the above just-tending-my-veggie-plot-whilst-wearing-full-length-toile-du-jouy vibe is the style I'm channelling, as introduced by my fashion bible Grazia (6 June issue).

There's a way to go until I can do effortless, everyday granny chic obvs, but just look how I've come on in a week. I mean, here's me chintzing it up at my sister in law's wedding, only last Wednesday.  

My eldest son George looking rather dapper and oh yes, that woman in the flowery frock and the fascinator? That'll be me!

My eldest son George looking rather dapper and oh yes, that woman in the flowery frock and the fascinator? That'll be me!

Not only do I now enjoy the therapeutic swish of a maxi dress (Alice+Olivia parrot print no less) but in my advancing years, I also appear to have warmed to that classic ladylike wedding guest sin - the fascinator.

I kid you not, a fortnight ago this could never have happened. Something inside me has changed. Take today for instance, there I was, minding my own business in a macho squat-thrust at the gym, when suddenly I knew. 

I knew that post-shower, I wouldn't be tucking myself into skinny jeans and throwing on a breton top this fine summer's day. No chance. I knew that instead, I would be reaching for a flowery frock and (sharp intake of breath) applying lippy to go to the supermarket.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED? Will I ever be the same again? Is 41 the end of the world as I know it? Is the next stage watching Gardener's World with a French stick and a half tub of Brie? Or can it all be explained away by the high pollen count and the RHS flower show? Any help/ advice would be much appreciated.

Fine and Candy = Chintzy glass

A recent kitsch glass bud vase. And  that  stool again (see previous post)

A recent kitsch glass bud vase. And that stool again (see previous post)

Cut glass bud vases, retro jars, cake stands... the granny glass obsession was already out of control before I brought home this minty green trifle bowl from my seaside trip at the weekend.

My seaside souvenir - Just an impossibly pretty £1.50

My seaside souvenir - Just an impossibly pretty £1.50

Also good as a bedside trinket holder for chucking off the chintz come night time.

Also good as a bedside trinket holder for chucking off the chintz come night time.

I can see that I'm going to have to find me a bigger painted display cabinet to manage this situation. Damn.

Painted orange display cabinet. Image from Pinterest.

Painted orange display cabinet. Image from Pinterest.

Candy Pandy = Chins

I like my face best with just the one of them thank you. And since this birthday marks two decades since I last told the truth about being 21,  facial yoga begins today.

Facial yoga fish face

Facial yoga fish face

 Want to do it with me? Well okay but only if you're wearing a frock. Altogether now....

Enjoy the sunshine all (SPF 50 for me) What's going up and down in your world this week?

Claire xx


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.