Why I stopped giving a shit and started giving a shift

My recent attic clearout has had life changing consequences.

Good Vibes only in my vintage styled attic bedroom

Good Vibes only in my vintage styled attic bedroom

I guess it's been on the cards for a while. I've told you before about my constant battle with blogging goals and human conscience. I'm sure I've bored my friends to tears with the constant cycle of "Yay, I love this, it's what I was meant to do.... I'm going to learn how to be great.... then, "Oh wait I'm actually really shit at it and feel like a total fail... then.... you know what, I'm just going to do it for the love and see what happens."  Yeah, yeah. Yawn.

I'm not stopping blogging because I can't stop writing. It would be the equivalent of wiring Alan Carr's jaws up. But I can stop being consumed by social media and letting myself get sucked into a world of constant comparison and unhealthy self obsession ... I think. 

Well anyway I'm about to find out because I'm going on a bit of a digital detox. I want to swap the hours I currently spend scrolling on my phone and invest them into something more worthwhile. So I'm volunteering at the local Oxfam depot.

It was like a scene from Bruce Almighty as I dropped off a car load of stuff from my latest attic clearout whilst contemplating what the future held for a 42 year old mother of 2 with a potential hoarding problem.

The sign caught my eye as I fluffed up my cast-off cushions beside a disgruntled volunteer sifting through bin liners full of dirty tupperware. In BIG, DESPERATE, SHOUTY LETTERS the sign said: "URGENTLY WANTED. Volunteers with a passion for homewares." At first I returned to my car to pretend that I hadn't seen it. The last thing a disorganised procrastinator like me needs is a drain on my spare time, right? And anyway, I had a gym class to attend and a dog to walk. After a bit of soul searching and plenty more insta scrolling, I eventually turned off the phone, turned off the ignition and went back inside to ask the disgruntled volunteer for an application form. I think he wanted to hug me.

So here's where I'm at. I'm applying for a nice little Thursday shift, which hopefully will involve sifting through a lot of junk and uncovering one or two gems that I can then style up, make look pretty and get someone (ideally not me) to buy. That's the plan. My husband of course if fearful that our home will become an orphanage for unloved furniture which I've got to admit, will be my biggest challenge. But hey, If I can save just a little bit of vintage loveliness ending up as landfill, I'll be happy.

So this post was intended to be a kind of heads up to anyone that might be bothered to say that I might not be blogging as much if I get recruited. Or I might even be blogging more and excitedly telling you to get yourselves down to Oxfam, Mirfield for the most amazing 1950s sideboard. Who knows? 

All I know is that it's healthier for me to stop giving a shit about how many likes, shares and follows I get and start giving a shift that involves putting my skills to decent use on the planet. 

Here goes then. Wish me luck, I'm about to fill in an application form for the first time in 15 years! If you want to join me they're after tons more volunteers here.

Claire xx 

 

 

 

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

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 :)

Get your glasses ON! How to train your eye to hunt out House Candy

They call me Hawk Eye. Be it a market stall, a charity shop or someone's kitchen, I can home in on House Candy at 20 paces. Why? because I'm programmed that way.

Recent vintage House Candy hoard

Recent vintage House Candy hoard

I devour interior magazines, drink up the free catalogues that clog up my letter box and snort Pinterest or Instagram images like they are crack cocaine.

Like my all time favourite vintage pop record, I Just Can't Get Enough. So much so, that I have become a professional House Candy Hunter (HCH). Stuff jumps out at me from a crowded market stall. I get a kind of tingly sensation when I sense House Candy is on my radar. Seriously, I'm weird.

If you like the vintage vibe and also like a bargain, but have not yet had the tingly feels, maybe you need to channel your vision? 

Here's my top 3 tips on what to look out for and the gorgeous, vintage style brands providing the current inspos for all you HCH's out there:

1) Coloured glass

Emerald green decanter and pretty coloured shot glasses proved an insta-hit this week

Emerald green decanter and pretty coloured shot glasses proved an insta-hit this week

I spotted this retro glass decanter peeking out from a market stall full of meh! and quickly realised, this is the power of coloured glass. Look out for jewel hues to add a gem-like beauty to the place and don't let no-stoppers be show-stoppers (see what I did there?). Even without their lids they can make a super cool stem vase. 

Bottles grouped together make a bit of a statement and give you that extra height too (the extra half inch we all aspire to).

Graham and Green know the score when it comes to vintage style accessorising and their new range is bursting with lush greens, emeralds and turquoises. They also have some cool decanter type bottles in their Autumn/Winter offering so if you don't take my word for it, take theirs.

Vintage style green bottle with stopper  www.grahamandgreen.co.uk

Vintage style green bottle with stopper www.grahamandgreen.co.uk

2) Candlesticks

Officially obsessed. Glass ones, wood ones and currently brass whimsical ones. They just DO something to a mantlepiece; y'know? I'm not massively romantic, which may surprise you, but I do love candlelight at dinner parties and Christmases. Oh and Wednesdays actually.

Brass candlesticks to light up my life 

Brass candlesticks to light up my life 

Brass accessories are enjoying a comeback so if you spot one of these cherubs looking for a new mummy, or a lovely leafy number (anything palm inspired is HOT) just hand over the cash, you could have the new Pineapple on your hands, you hear me?

Alternatively, purchase Plumo's fabulous monkey candlestick and swing from actual trees at the beauty of them.

Not so much cool as Brass monkeys inside thanks to  www.plumo.com

Not so much cool as Brass monkeys inside thanks to www.plumo.com

3) Mirrors

My fave vintage mirror and a stash of second hand market House Candy

My fave vintage mirror and a stash of second hand market House Candy

I've always collected vintage mirrors and can never pass up a bevel edged beauty to add to my collection. Some people are put off by imperfect patina. Not me. These are not for applying make-up, they ARE the make up, if you see what I mean. They use daylight to their advantage and make everything look prettier.

Everything Rockett St George sells is nailed on House Candy so take inspiration from their lovely mirror range, featuring antique styles or metallic details. Just LUSH.

Gold leaf effect mirror  www.rockettstgeorge.co.uk

Gold leaf effect mirror www.rockettstgeorge.co.uk

Hey, now I've given you all my secrets, maybe you could do me a favour too? If you are on Instagram please tag me in on any junk shop treasures you find and if you're posting a pic of your own eclectic home style please use #myhousecandy so we can all share in your smug HCH glory!

Happy House Candy Hunting, team.

Claire

 

My Mate, Matisse and My House Candy

In what is a retail first for me, last weekend I made a shopkeeper very happy for not paying for something. 

I tried, but he wouldn't let me. Jeez, maybe this 80 year old antiques dealer has mistaken me for that other celebrity blogger with the 30 million followers and the power to catapult his little backstreet shop into the Sunday papers, I thought. Is this what winning the Interior Blog Awards could do for me? (vote here to find out)

Here's what actually happened.

Edward, who looks like a mad scientist (and if he hasn't discovered the essence of eternal youth, has definitely found the secret to eternal happiness) runs a small antiques shop in the North Yorkshire village of Knaesborough and has done for the past 40 years.

In it, I'd found and set aside various old bits of furniture, an emerald glass tea set, some odd bits and bobs that were gathering dust on windowsills and on my last scoot around, checking I hadn't missed any unmistakeable House Candy, I pointed at this picture. 

"Do you like it?" he asked. 

"Great colours", I said, because I was still deciding if I did or not.

"It's pastels", he said, "It will smudge if you take the glass off. It's in the style of Matisse."

"I know," I said, feeling rather smug. I did art at A level, I remembered loving working with pastels and the satisfaction of manipulating the chalky colours with my fingers and thumbs. And I totally recognised the fluid shapes and merging figures of the French impressionist. There looked to be several couples cavorting in this scene. In fact, it looked like there was a lot of love (and maybe a bit of acid) in the subject room and I suspect Edward could have provided further background to the scene had I pressed him on it.

"How much?" I asked, a question which cracks a smile with most salesman, but which initiated an ear to ear grin on 80 year old Edward. He nudged me and with a wink replied,

"You can have it," and he proudly took it down from the wall.

"I did it myself, many years ago and it's been up in my attic. My wife told me I had to have a clear out so it won't be such a big job for everyone when I die. I'm ready to die you know, I won't mind." He said quickly, in case I should feel at all sorry for him. 

He clambered down his steps, refusing help and all the time regarding his work and muttering about the special times he spent painting with his son. When he got to the point of writing me out a paper receipt for my other items (the bit he likes best apparently), he added:

"It's been on the wall a few weeks now and you are the first person to show an interest."

I like being that person that paid an interest in Edward's artwork. I like that this picture makes me want to pick up a box of pastels and make my own art - something I haven't done since I passed my A level. And I really like Edward for still feeling the buzz when someone appreciates his work.

Edward rocks and so does my new, acid coloured pastel on paper. I'm calling it "Party On Edward". And I know he totally will. 

Thank you so much if you have voted for me already in the Interior Blog Awards Best Design Inspiration category. I'm sorry for going on about it but I really have absolutely no chance in this phenomenally tough category if I don't big myself up, like 10 million times. In fact, I'm the Edward in a category full of Matisse's. I'm just hoping you'll be the one who notices me.

Happy Weekend all,

Claire x

 

Rebel on a tea plate

"She's a bit of a daydreamer", said my first school teacher. And the one after that. And then everyone who ever taught me until I left uni with an 'airy fairy' degree from The University of Cloud Cuckoo Land.

They were right of course. My dad was also right when he said that fame and fortune does not come easily to girls with the attention span of a gnat. What does come easily however, is the ability to appreciate the beauty in little everyday things that all the busy, successful people of the world are in danger of missing out on. And here's where I've found my calling. It's my job to let you know the things worth getting distracted over.

Upcycled vintage plate art is one of those things. And here's why I need to blab about it.

Blabbermouth £55 By  Alijoedesigns

Blabbermouth £55 By Alijoedesigns

I discovered Alijoe Designs on Twitter. It was the profile pic I fell in love with, which I guess is the way lots of internet love affairs begin and probably a reason why I ought to change mine.

Anyway, this is the dapper young fellow that distracted me from what might have have been the aggressive, life-changing, blog-catapulting social media campaign I have so far successfully evaded. 

Sweet isn't he? But also cool and clever and in my opinion guiding the way for the world of modern vintage up-cycling to go. In fact, I'd go as far as to say he's a rebel on a tea plate. Which kind of makes Debbie Carne - the artist behind Alijoe Designs - something of a secret Banksy of the vintage china world. Inspired by artists such as Fornasetti, Savignac, Warhol, Terry Gilliam and Schwitters, Debbie's kitsch and quirky decals are artistically defacing little pieces of British domestic history. A pretty cool achievement for another self confessed career misfit I reckon.

More tea vicar?

Mind the Gap plate set £55 by  Alijoedesigns

Mind the Gap plate set £55 by Alijoedesigns

You've got to agree that £55 is not a lot to pay for a one off piece of original artwork. Especially when you consider that the London based designer has already taken commissions for local restaurants where her work is currently being admired.

I purchased my Head in the Clouds design (for obvious reasons) and as gift to myself for Mother's Day. It felt like the perfect legacy for me to pass on to my children, one of whom has definitely inherited my daydreaming gene and will no doubt endure the same personality bashing that I got/get.

But whenever I see that dreaded D word on my son's school report, I'm going to try not to persuade him to knuckle down and become an accountant. Instead he must let his ideas and his daydreams run free. Because I know from experience that as long as his head is in the clouds, his heart will beat a little faster. 

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You can grab your own piece of super cool, rocked up vintage china on Debbie's website www.alijoedesigns.com

Have you stumbled upon any amazing art finds recently? What do you think to mine? Are you doing any cool vintage upcycles I really should get distracted over? Please leave me your comments below, I would love to hear from you. 

Claire x

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!) 

IMG_0017 (3).jpeg

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