The spare room glam-over with no spare cash

One thing I love about my house is the enormous attic space. It was where the maids slept in the 1880s, the soldiers hid in the 1940s and the politician's *insert imagination* in the swinging sixties. In this millennium it has mostly been a dumping ground.

But not any more.


This week I needed the spare room to look special because my friend was coming to stay.  Not that I need to impress my friend. Xena stays regularly and takes me as she finds me. On this occasion she found me stressy and a bit shrivelled, but that's another story.

No, I wanted the attic guest space to look swish, because apart from having somewhere nice to sleep and a mate to laugh with, this was otherwise going to be a shit week for Xena.

Xena's mum, the one that used to let us have parties in the cellar, the one who'd let us scribble the names of boys we fancied on the bedroom walls, the one who always had long, blonde hippy hair when the other mums had short tight perms.... Xena's mum has Alzheimers. This week we've had the heartbreaking task of finding her a specialist care home at only 66.  

In the grand scheme of things, interior design doesn't matter. But when life sucks, I like to think it can at least be a tonic. I figured that if making my attic guest room all pretty and glamorous could, in some small way, lift the pain for Xena this week then it was totally worth a try.

Now I have lots of plans for this room, involving beautiful new wallpaper by Common Room and a stack of new bedding by The White Company. But I had neither the time, nor the funds to employ a full on makeover in time for my guest's arrival. Instead I needed to get creative with a vintage glam update that is pretty and cosy enough to detract from any crumby decorating choices that I'm stuck with for now.

If you've got a spare room to get guest ready, but no spare cash for a modern makeover, piling on the vintage glamour is a great way to get that boutique hotel feel on a budget.

I raided the rest of the house of accessories to glam-up the attic bedroom for the week and employed some simple vintage styling tricks:  

1) Layering

Layering is the key to cool vintage styling. I decided on a blush pink and gold theme and threw together all the rugs, throws and cushions I had around the house that fell within this colour palette. if you like this look try and mix different textures for maximum impact. Silk and faux fur are a match made in vintage style heaven.

The shaggy pink rug was a second hand market find for about £8 but the Rug Seller has a similar one here.

As I live in a lofty Victorian house we have a lot of throws about the place to snuggle up in on the sofa. I borrowed a few of them for this room including two from TK Maxx - One of the best places (apart from second hand shops) to pick up low cost luxe accessories. This grey bobble knit throw for example has £70 off the RRP.

Grey bobble Paoletti throw £39.99  TK Maxx

Grey bobble Paoletti throw £39.99 TK Maxx

Whilst this cheap and cheerful yellow throw can't fail to brighten up a boring spare room:

Yellow and white throw £16.99  TK Maxx

Yellow and white throw £16.99 TK Maxx

2) Frames

I have a ridiculous collection of redundant gilt edge picture frames lying about the house but I can't tell you how many times they've come in handy. Propped up on a bare wall they are great for "framing" focal points, such as the pink anglepoise lamp from Marks and Spencer.


I've also used one to hang a sparkly vintage cape on, just because it's got all that shizz going on and these magnolia walls needed all the help they could get. 

3) Fairy lights

So the rest of your house is painted all edgy and dark and the guest bedroom is a nondescript neutral with patches of match pot samples in the corner behind the door. Same. Too late to do anything about it now, the Christmas guests are on their way, so my advice is dim the lights.  

Fairy lights set a magical tone

Fairy lights set a magical tone

I suggest borrowing lamps from other rooms if it's just for a short stay/ short term fix, but if you need extras just use Christmas tree lights around a large house plant or display them in a big vase, glass bowl or bird cage. I also wrapped a set of Christmas ivy lights round the bed and the touch of green really lifted things, don't you think?

4) Storage

When it's not hosting house guests, this room is hosting boxes. I'm a loving collector more than a ruthless de-clutterer, which (roughly translated) means I keep too much shit. This shit can be beautifully disguised in gorgeous vintage trunks. Buy 'em, fill 'em stack 'em. In my opinion they are the cheapest, chicest storage solution out there.

Vintage trunks make great guest room storage

Vintage trunks make great guest room storage

5) Mirrors

I've said it before, but it's worth repeating... I love using mirrors to dress a room. Not because I like looking at myself. Quite the opposite in fact. I love they way they bounce light about and the instant glam that comes from that shiny mirrored surface. Mix old and new mirrors for full effect. I'll be looking out for more vintage dome mirrors at second hand fairs, great for a cool porthole effect above a bed.

This star mirror from Cox and Cox is a stylists dream. It's been rocking up my lounge wall above the sofa but I moved it up into the attic for my friend's visit just to give the room a little touch of luxury. You can literally put it anywhere and it looks super cool.

Brass star mirror £80 by  Cox and Cox

Brass star mirror £80 by Cox and Cox

Also, you know how I'm into subliminal messages right? Well my mate can't deal with kindness at the best of times and at this point it might just break her. This little star was my way of telling her how I felt about the way she is dealing with this situation.

So what do you think of my vintage glam attic guest room? I'd love to know your thoughts, please get in touch in the comments section, or find me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Xena has returned home now and I'm supposed to be putting a lot of this stuff back in the rooms they came from but you know what... I might just have a night up her on my own first. Here's the bath that I had installed in my attic 10 years ago when I first converted it and I have never so much as dipped a toe in! A quiet soak in here is literally all I want for Christmas.

My totally impractical, secret attic bathroom

My totally impractical, secret attic bathroom

Finally, I'm sorry this post has been late in coming. I've kind of been a bit pre-occupied this week... and just so you know, next week is not looking good either. Hope you are all way more organised than me and enjoying getting into the Christmas spirit. I'm going for the winging it all the way approach. Prossecco time yet?

Claire xx












The Candy Files: Gilty as charged

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

House Candy = Gilt Edge

It's not just a seasonal thing, I generally love a gold trim. But recently the obsession has hit new heights as stuff with gold edges has leapt out at me from market stalls, junk shops and charity stores, inevitably finding its way into my home. 

My very gorgeous friend is coming to stay for a week soon and sadly it's under not so happy circumstances. I wanted to give her a bedroom to sleep in that will be a lovely retreat to come back to after a tough day. Without oodles to spend on a full re-decoration, I found my growing collection of gilt edge picture frames and today's new junk shop find - the £5 gilt framed dome mirror above the bed - work a treat in giving this tired attic space a new girly and glamorous update. 

I'll detail the full makeover soon, but here's how it's shaping up so far, gilt edge dome mirror newly in place (like 1 minute ago as it happens).

Fine and Candy = Gilty Pleasures

And then there are those shiny, new purchases that you know are totally seasonal. That your head says: "Yawn, another metallic festive impulse buy... These are going to look crap post Christmas"... and your heart says: "Sod it, buy them now and wear them with everything. It's fairy season." 

Gold metallic ankle boots £75  Top Shop

Gold metallic ankle boots £75 Top Shop

Candy Pandy = Guilt Ridden

Please tell me you're doing it too? You're online Christmas shopping for everyone else and suddenly the offer of all offers pops up on the leather skirt you wanted in October, AND those tuxedo trousers you fancied yourself in (although on what occasion you'd wear them you're not quite sure) and you go... wwweeelllll, they're classics .... I'll order them both and see what fits/suits me and I'll send back the other. And then they arrive and oh they fit, in fact they looks amazing. It's butter soft leather, it's the perfect edgy cut and it will save the house candy husband ALL the stress if you keep them both and call them your very special Christmas presents. And then suddenly there's an extra £200 on the credit card and you're wondering if the kid really needs an ipad mini after all.

Victor leather skirt Now £115  Plumo

Victor leather skirt Now £115 Plumo

Black Friday is coming to get you people. Shop nice.

Have you got any gilty secrets you'd like to share? Drop me a line in the comments section. I promise I won't tell Santa.

Claire x

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.

from the sublime to the ridiculous - Maid marilyn and the merry men

If there's one thing you can't accuse my interior style of, it is boring. Confused? Yes. Boring? No.

It feels like now, more than ever, I am constantly on the look out for new ways to add interest; to perk up poky corners; to style up a sideboard. This might result in a more eclectic scheme than is absolutely advisable, but what the hell. At least it's not dull. 

It puzzles me when c'lebs big-up boring. When they boast about liking nothing more than box sets and bee keeping. Being boring is a novelty to superstars of course. When they're not being papped in their PJs buying custard creams, they are playing to sell out crowds at Wembley, or walking catwalks in Milan. Not so for the rest of us. For the rest of us, boring really is boring.

Marilyn Monroe was clearly not one of those pro-boring A listers. In fact here she is as my latest poster girl coveting my favourite style memo.

Marilyn Monroe framed poster £30

Marilyn Monroe framed poster £30

Ridiculous is how I'd describe some of my most favourite house purchases. In most cases, these are the pieces that have given my home a unique personality, for not a lot of cash.

This post-holiday week, burdened with the boringness of going back to the regular routine, I'm even more keen than usual to throw in a few house candy curve balls to keep us all on our toes. You know, stuff that makes the husband stop in his tracks half way up the stairs and go..."What the f**k? that's RIDICULOUS!"

Each day I will post some of my more ridiculous purchases. With any luck some of them might give you inspiration and make you go, "Oooh that's a good idea, I never thought of that..."

Others will just stop you in your tracks and make you go, "What the f**k?" 

Well it would be boring if we all liked the same thing wouldn't it? 

Anyway, here's today's offering. A set of vintage Toby Jugs purchased for £1 each from the charity shop and my current favourite hats in which to stuff a few Spring blooms.

We've got Robin Hood on the left and, although the other one's not marked, let's go with The Sheriff of Nottingham on the right. Ridiculous yes? Or at the very least, un-boring.

Want your own Merry Men? The Beatles oughta rock things up a notch. These actual pot heads aren't from the swinging sixties but still qualify as vintage and are currently on Ebay for a hefty £350. Oh but John Lennon with daisy in his hair.... Imagine....

Royal Doulton Beatles Toby Jug set £350

Royal Doulton Beatles Toby Jug set £350

Like the quirkiness, but can't bring yourself to own a Toby Jug? It's completely understandable. A more fashionable option is this crazy cool baby's head plant pot from Mia Fleur

Baby's Head plant pot £9.95 From  Mia Fleur

Baby's Head plant pot £9.95 From Mia Fleur

I would so love to hear about any of your more ridiculous purchases. In fact, how about I show you mine and you show me yours? Now there's a game one should never get bored of.

Ooooh this week's feeling better already. Happy Monday y'all 

Claire x

PS Did you know you can follow me on Instagram by clicking here and on Facebook by clicking here or follow any of the links on the right for more inspiration and shed loads of house candy. I hope to hear from you soon :)