Why nature is your best neutral

I know you love palm prints and pineapples, so do I. I'll never tire of leopard print and I'm still saving up for a giant cactus in the hall. But guys, I live in suburban West Yorkshire. The nearest I've been to the jungle is the tropical butterfly house at Roundhay Park... in fact I'm thinking of taking the kids there after school, just so we can get warm. 

When it comes to decorating, why is it that we're obsessed with exotic representations of the living world and not what's on our doorstep? I wonder if anyone reading this in Chile could tell me... are you into our English wood pigeons the way that we dig your flamingos?  

It comforts me that there's a new interiors trend emerging that feels a lot closer to home. Nature is always in fashion, obviously, but the new colours and prints of the season show a migration towards the Northern hemisphere, where a love affair with our temperate climate is finally blossoming. Subtle colours and gentle patterns have the ability to blend into an existing scheme without overpowering it. They are neutral, but not as we know it.

My "Trad meets Rad" Parker Knoll x  Upperlands  makeover.

My "Trad meets Rad" Parker Knoll x Upperlands makeover.

Dusky Florals, Spring Greens and Ocean Sprays are just three of Elle Decoration's 7 Big Decorating trends in its April issue out this week, proving that Nature is King where cool interiors are concerned. Prints are also big news, as is a renewed appreciation of artisanal products, hand made using traditional methods and created out of love.

Having taken note of all these tick boxes since the Spring/Summer 17 interior trends emerged, it struck me that Earthed Fabric's new Upperlands collection, ordered for a recent chair upcycle, was more than just a fab new range of pretty patterns.

Upperlands is a range of Irish linens inspired by the water that has served the William Clark fabric house for over three centuries and naturally evolved its landscape. The designs explore how early pioneers of technology at Clark’s harnessed water to drive their industry. The patterns, which include the industrial connotations of Revolution, turbulent Osmosis and the vibrant Torrent designs (see the full range below) are all available in colour palettes specially designed to evoke positive emotions, for what the company calls a contemporary twist on traditional Irish linen. 

There's a lot for me to love here. As you know I've been banging on about colour chakras for some time (Honestly, I'm actually writing this whilst fiddling with my magic blue and yellow crystals). I'm ALL about the power of positivity and will indulge in it in any form I can; be it food, art, literature and yes, even furniture.

"It was fine before she painted the bloody legs yellow."  Vintage Parker Knoll upholstered in Faded Grandeur from the Upperlands collection by Earthed. Legs in Farrow and Ball Yellow Cake.

"It was fine before she painted the bloody legs yellow."

Vintage Parker Knoll upholstered in Faded Grandeur from the Upperlands collection by Earthed. Legs in Farrow and Ball Yellow Cake.

I salvaged this old Parker Knoll from a house clearance with only a modest layer of 50+ year old foam covering its bones. It makes me so happy to see it now looking majestic in Faded Grandeur from the high quality Upperlands linen range and rocking those funky Farrow and Ball Yellow Cake legs like a proper little groover. It's a combo I named 'Trad meets Rad' over on Instagram - and one that certainly matches Earthed's vision for a contemporary twist on tradition.

So I love the feel good factor of this range and the holistic element to its beautiful colourways. I love the reference to nature and the artistic edge that sets these designs apart from more graphic prints on the market. The traditionalist in me loves that the William Clark artisans have been producing linen more or less the same way for 300 years; linen that has no doubt covered countless Parker Knolls... And the fashionable interior nut in me loves the fact that due to the random style of the print, my re-loved Parker Knoll is not only totally and utterly unique but bang on trend too. 

So yes to palm prints and flamingos, pineapples and parrots. Why the hell not I say. But I'm giddy as an English garden sparrow on the first day of Spring that nature as we know it is currently the coolest neutral known to man and beast. (Well at least for this season anyway). Click here to get the luck of the Irish waters flowing through your home so that you too can wallow in:

a) The incredible and highly infectious power of natural positivity

and

b) The knowledge that you are one hell of an on-trend home maker. 

So what do you think? Can you embrace nature in your curtains or will you be taking more of a scatter cushion approach? What do you think of my upcycle? It's not everyone's cup of tea but there's been a whole lot of love for it on the socials. I'd absolutely love for you to drop me a comment here if you can. I've got another couple of vintage chair transformations in the pipeline that are totally worth looking out for. Please do pop back for a nosey.

Have a great weekend all.

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.

I blew my building budget on an AGA

My big entrance hall and kitchen update didn't go to plan when instead of getting the builders in, I spent ALL the renovation money on an AGA. 

Three oven white AGA www.agaliving.com

Three oven white AGA www.agaliving.com

Dumb ass move right? ... They're my speciality. But the good news is I do not regret it one little bit. The cooker overspend forced me to get more creative with other purchases and the result is just so much more interesting than the fancy open plan ideas I had originally. Plus my love for the AGA makes up for everything. You may be loathed to believe me but it's true.

AGAs cost a bomb, but they do totally change the whole feel of a kitchen and in this case, the AGA, along with a few other vintage tweaks here and there helped me re-love some areas of my home I had fallen out of love with.

So if you're looking for an alternative kitchen makeover story read on.  This is my step by step guide to spending serious money on a great kitchen update without actually buying a new kitchen and not moving any walls at all.

Step One

Get all the builders in and confuse the hell out of every one of them with pins that are a bit like what you've got in mind but not quite. This ensures they will run a mile from you and the job, leaving you stuck with the same poky entrance hall and a kitchen that will never, ever be the cool, open, fashionable space you dreamed of. 

Step Two

Console yourself over the fact that you could not project manage your way out of a paper bag by buying an AGA.

AGA City 60- AGAs for compact kitchens 

AGA City 60- AGAs for compact kitchens 

Like I said, they are everything those annoying AGA owners said they would be. And more. 

The heart of the home? yup.

The facilitator for your transformation from crap cook to producer of actually extremely edible food? Yaaaassss.

Member of the family? ... How ridiculous. (But I'll tell you what, it's close)

Step Three

With the very limited budget you've got left, go to the local second hand market or the charity shop, or the junk yard and find quirky pieces that would look lost in big, fancy, modern open plan spaces, but really perk up those awkward nooks that both new builds and modern architect designed spaces lack. The way I see it is this; if there's something great to look at around every corner then you will start to love the corners. Genius huh?

My new (old) poky hallway and all its vintage acquisitions.

My new (old) poky hallway and all its vintage acquisitions.

I picked up a pair of Kodak yellow industrial style units for £40. A great place to hide those ugly pots and pans!

I picked up a pair of Kodak yellow industrial style units for £40. A great place to hide those ugly pots and pans!

This is the dividing wall between the hall and the kitchen that I wanted knocking out. Now it's a great place for pictures and I love that I can put a vintage trolley table with all my colourful and no-longer ornamental cook books there. This one was £5 from a charity shop.

This is the dividing wall between the hall and the kitchen that I wanted knocking out. Now it's a great place for pictures and I love that I can put a vintage trolley table with all my colourful and no-longer ornamental cook books there. This one was £5 from a charity shop.

Step Four

Paint more of your junk shop treasures in colours you absolutely love and congratulate yourself on your splendid creative flair. (Good project managers are unlikely to be so handy with a tin of chalk paint, another hugely satisfying feeling)

This blackboard used to be a mirror! I transformed it in a day with B&Qs Rustoleum chalk paint in Belgravia. I got a piece of plyboard cut to fit at the local DIY store and painted this with chalk paint. Simps.

This blackboard used to be a mirror! I transformed it in a day with B&Qs Rustoleum chalk paint in Belgravia. I got a piece of plyboard cut to fit at the local DIY store and painted this with chalk paint. Simps.

Step Five

Rearrange the shelves adding more useful or beautiful items at leisure, taking regular obligatory #shelfies until you get the arrangement just right. (NB I'm not there yet!) 

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Step Six

Go out in the snow for long enough to be really, really cold and grumpy. Arrive home to a cute looking hallway and a perma-warm kitchen. Rest your frozen buttocks on the AGA whilst admiring your handiwork. Defrost to the sound of a whistling kettle and pat yourself on the back for wisely mis-spending your entire savings on creating no new space whatsover. But instead in making your existing space, ace. 

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See, instead of spending wads of cash on knocking walls down and paying out on architects, builders and the like, my new interior design philosophy rests on the belief that it's much more satisfying to spend money on (or make the most of) the space you've already got. It fits with my favourite saying: Happiness is not getting what you want, but wanting what you've got. 

Which is all well and good but you know what? Getting an AGA makes you pretty damn happy too.

Have a great weekend all, what's your biggest and happiest mistake? Let me know in the comments section below, it would give me an AGA-like warm glowy feeling to hear from you!

Claire x