Renovating our 1930s house with a bit of retro


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Since becoming home owners at the end of last year we’ve been all consumed by doing up the house. My phone has been taken over by renovation Instagram accounts, home decor on Pinterest, Checkatrade and of homeware websites (keep scrolling for a list of these).

To get the house we wanted we had to move out of the ‘nam. Which was the first compromise, the second was buying a house where I’d want to decorate every room - which at first seemed daunting but then I remembered I was an absolute PRO at The Sims. How hard could it be? Thanks to Google (and our parents), we have learnt to skim/strip/prime/paint/repoint - along with getting a few tradesmen in to sort out the old school ceilings and fireplaces.

I never thought we’d be keen DIY-ers, but it’s been the opposite. Have loved doing it together (*vom emoji*), from spending 3 days of the xmas hols painting an entire hallway to the creative bit of deciding which lampshade to get (why is a good lampshade so hard to find…).

Here are a few pictures of the finished results (‘before’ pics at the end). Along with some of my favourite Instagram accounts and the sites I usually trawl to buy stuff without having to pillage the money tree too often.

A house full of foliage & flora


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The Bray wedding (more on this another time) has distracted me from writing about jollies, lots (and lots) of eating and in particular, new house additions. 

In the lead up to spring, I have gone a bit plant crazy - constantly upping the level of greenery so that if one plant dies it needs to be replaced instantly or the house looks empty (like when you take down the Christmas tree). Finding decent foliage was a job in itself, on a mission to find 'the cheese plant I'd always wanted', I found the Waitrose garden website. Plants that you can order online. Who knew. My very reasonably sized/reasonably priced cheese plant arrived for £24.99 (blooming bargainous). I don't think you can have too many plants - especially in the office space which Wes said 'looks like a bloomin' jungle'.

Another greenery addition was a Chinese Money plant from Midgely Green in Clevedon, one of our mini-moon stops (the lovely Clevedon definitely deserves it's own blog post). The man bought a truly stunning green book by Cereal from there too, showcasing the British Isles in all their beauty. This book definitely reminded me why some of our best jollies (Scotland, Clevedon etc.) were based here.

If you like my blogging/instagram/life over-sharing then please vote for me in the SoGlos awards, pretty chuffed to be shortlisted for Social Media Influencer. You can vote for all your favourite local businesses, and if you scroll alllll the way down to category 20 - vote for me!

Chocolate box Rye & apocolyptic Dungeness


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Thanks to Instagram (and the people behind the pictures) we discovered the chocolate box town of Rye and the weird derelict beach land of Dungeness - we ate 'the best meal of our lives' (Landsgate Bistro) and were inspired to take pictures of doors and random shopfronts (those last two were mostly me).

Our weekend away started with finding our Rye-based Airbnb, a cosy one-up one-down with copper decor and a funky bedspread. We dumped our stuff and made the most of the late afternoon by stopping at the White House for a quick sausage roll & vino (the perfect combo). Feeling the effects, we walked around the streets admiring the tiny houses and 'Tiny Bookshop'.

Dinner that night was spent at The Landsgate Bistro, a few doors down from our airbnb and they squeezed us in last minute. We were glad they did, what-a-feast. I had scallop in ravioli starter (not the prettiest but DELICIOUS) whilst the man had pigeon breast lightly dusted in bread crumbs. For main I had venison on lentils and CHEESE gnocchi, very yum whilst Wes had pork belly with a side of potato cake (just the right amount of carbs).

Sunday was spent visiting what was originally 'the main attraction' of the weekend - the derelict but charming Dungeness. Next to an old power station, this stretch of shipwrecked covered beach is also filled with chalets that look like they belong in Scotland or parts of America. I think this is prime location for artists to end their days, you'd walk along to find mini galleries in sheds and sculptures in gardens. 

All in all, a very instagram-worthy location.

Cheltenham bake-off cakes & floral finds


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Living walking distance from local goodies makes treating myself at weekends all the more tempting. I've also discovered that my local Flower Man (actually called 'The Flower Man') sells country-inspired beauties like hydrangeas and delphiniums - miles away from your standard squished petrol station carnation. One (or two) of these at the weekend make the house look good for well over a week, and inspires me to keep the place tidy (ish).

In the spirit of keeping tidy - we decided the time had come to get rid of our mis-matched plates, when we moved in together a couple of years ago we amalgamated a bit of a weird collection. After some research and debating ('no I don't want plates with dachshunds on', 'how much?!') we settled on some black and white ones from made.com - this site is pretty reasonable for good quality decor when you compare with the high street.

Another local treat includes some chocolate swiss rolls (that were actually inspired by a technical challenge on bake-off) and blonde brownie from my old haunt, Brew & Bake. Getting my full gran on, I also went to the charity bookshop for a Cath Kidston covered edition of 'The Provincial Lady'.

So so old, and florally bold.

Red doors and typographic prints galore


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I've gone a bit print mad, I think it's because I've filled the house with everything else all that's left are the walls. From song sheets from Antique shops to John Lewis for cheap abstract prints (Simon C Page - Moonlight on the bedside table). Another purchase includes an Anthony Burrill print, big, typographic and mint green - which now sits at the bottom of the stairs. Wes has only slightly ruined it for me by saying it reminds him of the Justin Bieber song.

Recent jollies include a trip to Berkeley, where this is little else but a castle (which was actually closed). But we did have a nice nose around, staring at the stunning old houses and their beautifully coloured doors. I had outside-house envy.  

Starting the New Year with fish & chips and cushions


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We started the New Year the best way we know how - with fish, chips and champagne. From the best chippy in Cheltenham (and the UK...), Simpsons Fish & Chips. I like the fact they do battered king prawns (my fave) served with a side of lemon. 

Whilst all my recent posts have been about home decor updates, that is my life now. The life of a renter who can do little else but buy funky cushions to make home feel like 'home'. In particular, more leaf print (THE visual trend of 2017!). I've also got back into the world of eBay - with the discovery of some urban outfitters-inspired cushions for our dining chairs (yes, more cushions), a retro (albeit broken) clock and an aztec rug. 

Another home decor update was for the bathroom - which we've given a lick of paint ('Pebble' or 'light lavender' as it actually turned out to be) and some wire basket shelves found in Sainsbury's.

As if these purchases weren't enough, I also took a visit to the Antiques centre in Cirencester - nothing short of a labyrinth with it's hidden rooms and tiny corridors. There I found a useless mug and song sheet print, which I'm yet to find a frame for. 

Here's hoping your 2017 is also full of beautiful (sometimes useless) things.

 

 

Winter breakfasts, red red wine & a trip to the Wilson.


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As soon as I felt the first cold gust of wind on opening the door, I knew I wouldn't be leaving the house much this winter. Apart from special occasions like a birthday or a pre-arranged visit somewhere within a 2 mile radius. Or to eat.

After making this realisation, I also discovered how much I love red wine and listening to UB40 on the turntable ('there's a rat in me kitchen...'). The man has also upped his game with mackerel breakfasts and home-made 'tomato sauce' (I might bottle it up to sell). I've also been trying to read more books and scour less pointless websites... 'The woman who went to bed for a year' by Sue Townsend (inspiration for my new lifestyle) and 'Love' by Angela Carter are recent reads.

If you live in Cheltenham and are thinking of going a small distance, take a look at 'The Last Word in Art?' at the Wilson Gallery. With artists like Tracey Emin, David Hockney and the opportunity to create your own work of art - it's one not to miss. 

Retro-inspired decor updates ready for winter


Working my way into winter means finding more home updates (as I shall rarely be leaving the house now), and being a renter means I like to invest in home decor items that I can take with me.

One of my new obsessions is the retro-inspired Orla Kiely, so I went for a discounted 70's pattern bedspread. It actually goes pretty well with our graphic diamond-dot cushions from H&M, and our bedside table penguin book (!).

After a recent stay at a lovely Airbnb in Brighton I felt inspired by the decor and bought another retro item - a 'menu' peg board for the kitchen, found cheaply on very.co.uk. More wall hanging pieces include some Instagram prints from lalalab - framed and hung up along the stair case.

Tea-drinking day jollies local and afar


After a few jollies away I've been staying in my home 'tan. There is actually lots to do in Cheltenham and the shire, including drinking tea and carbooting. No really... some of the tea drinking took place at the Scandinavian Coffee Pod (I don't drink coffee). After walking past it's new location at the Edge Studios each day and Instagram-ing their funky bright yellow 'stick out' building I learnt there was cake. They've done a good job with the limited space, making it a cosy spot to have a cuppa.

I also got taken on a surprise visit by the man to the Well Walk Tea Rooms, where I sampled their bake-off inspired jaffa cake, macaroons and home-made sandwiches. Lots of food between two, ok three of us (dogs were welcome). They seemed pretty busy, so recommend booking in advance.

A mini jolly was needed so we went to Upton upon Severn. A village that feels like it's stuck in time with it's old shop signage, retro fire stations and 50's garages. It did lack decent places to eat on a bank holiday but hey ho. Talking of retro, we also visited the posh carboot in Birdlip where I picked up a vintage gem of a handbag. Black leather with detailed gold edging, mini purse inside and haggled down price. The perfect accessory for weddings/cocktail/more tea drinking...

From garden pancakes to posh #chelteats grill diners


It has been brought to my attention that I've eaten out a lot recently, I mean I knew this already but maybe I need to stop 'checking-in' so much and also...doing more cooking at home. Breakfast is one weekend meal that we usually do cook at home (albeit that's usually because we can't agree on where to go...), you also can't go wrong with pancakes. And as 'Project Garden' is underway, it also means we can make the most of our new garden seating - including some made.com inspired chevron furniture (found cheaper at homesense), garden lights and potted plants.

Another reason I keep venturing out for dinner is because so many new places keep opening up, including the new Firestation. My frequent dinner chum, Nicola, and I were quite excited about paying this place a visit (especially when we saw cocktails were a large feature of the dinner menu). The dinner was nice, and the cocktails were also pretty special - sat in a bar area decorated with hints of copper decor and a ladder to reach the 'higher' spirits. But the rather large price tag means I plan to keep this place for special occasions, or just the one cocktail.

Another grill place that is actually quite underrated is GridIron, I've been there recently for dinner and 'just drinks'. Staff are attentive and the food is indulgently good (American BBQ ribs, chicken burgers with avocado and smore dessert!) - with two cocktails for £12 I feel it's also a bit nicer on the wallet. 

To end this blog with something sweet...thanks to SoGlos for helping me discover Cheltenham's newest 'Freakshake' spot. Incase you've missed this Instagram trend - Freakshakes are over-the-top ice creams (quite literally) which look like they've come from Frankenstein's Sundae shop. Not quite there, but Blue Dogs Kitchen, are the Cheltenham-based creators. 

Enjoy these recommendations... and if you fancy a good eating out/eating in compromise try Siena Pizza on the Bath Road (Thursdays from 5-8pm) for some amazing stone baked Italian takeaway pizza. 

Our Aztec/Geo cushion filled home & 'The Theme'


Since moving in 6 months ago, I thought I'd be 'there' by now. Over the decorating and the cushion-buying, but unfortunately it's a Pinterest-fuelled obsession that won't quit. Constant ringings of 'the theme!' in my man's ear when he places down a mismatched item (racing helmet ornament, golf clubs, cap hanging on a guitar) don't go unnoticed.  

My main source for inspiration is made.com and Pinterest - but, being the daughter of a hardcore carbooter - I'm keen try to find cheaper alternatives. H&M is a gold mine for funky cushions and bedding, Dunelm's great for lighting and Ikea for some standard furniture pieces (e.g. the white lockers). That said, there are some items you can't scrimp on. We invested in a beautiful Edelweiss dining table and desk from made.com - along with a geek bear print, geo cushion and rose gold lamp. The table is covered in a 70's 'tablecloth' I got from a summer fete years ago.

One addition I wasn't thrilled with was our extra fridge which had to live in the study. 'It's ruining the theme!' I cried. One of my dad's less ridiculous ideas was to make a print for it. After much (much) research and discussion we decided on a vintage map of Cheltenham, which luckily we could measure and artwork ourselves. It reminded me of the Instagram map, and so I stuck some of our polaroid prints on to the locations.

Another new addition has been a Crosley Turntable, which was a gift until the discovery of the 'Purple Rain' vinyl and now it is a gift for me also. Luckilly the orange fits in perfectly against our wallpaper, and of course - into the theme. 

Pinterest inspired purchases, Ikea ideas & Cheltenham chippies


Things have been pretty busy recently with the house move and Pinterest obsession (dangerous and useful when trying to decorate/buy furniture). Along with the discovery of made.com - this has encouraged the purchase of a few beautiful housewares including a dining table, matching desk and lamp. Keen not to spend my life savings in one hit though, I'm thankful for fellow bloggers (mydomaine) sharing their Ikea hack secrets. Who knew that a lick of gold paint or adding a block of wood could give furniture such an upgrade, see below some of her ideas...

Whilst we await the furniture (getting it straight from the manufacturers means there's a bit of a wait involved), we've spruced up our dining space with a vintage tablecloth (£1 spring fete buy), picture cluster and H&M cushions/placemats/candles. Other rooms are also decorated with H&M Home items (which I'll rave about to anyone who'll listen), they're bargain-friendly with pinterest inspired prints galore. If you're in need of some pinterest inspiration (mostly house related) take a look at some of my recent pins...

The move also created an opportunity for obligatory 'fish & chips with champagne' so we took a visit to Simpsons - my man can be hard to please (especially when he knows there are cheaper fish & chips down the road). But even he agreed 'These ARE the best fish and chips'. You can also order battered King Prawns, all wrapped up in their lovely new branded packaging. 

Another Ikea Hack

Our abode

Simpsons Fish & Chips

Branded Christmas, bar stops and decorative twinkle


It's that time of year again, when I get to design something festive and fun whilst watching Elf/Love Actually. For my Christmas cards I decided to use the Kraft card material my printer offers for inspiration - using big type, vintage deers and a homemade print that sat inside the cards and as the pattern for my wrapping paper (yes, this year I got over-excited and made matching wrapping paper too). It's been a busy few months but it's good to take time out to do something indulgently creative, I hope the recipients appreciate the festive-icon pattern before they rip through the paper to get to the goodies... (who can blame them really). 

Alongside this I've been doing the usual torturous journey through Cheltenham to get presents in bulk. We had a pit-stop at the new bar/restaurant, Aqua Vitae, which was needed. A drink was had in the beautifully decorated bar that sat around a small kitchen (for snack food only I think...), and we ordered a couple of said snacks. They were delicious, and better than expected for somewhere that had only just opened. Pizza slices, beef skewers...perfect, easy pick-me-up food.

I've also been keeping my apartment festively decorated (mostly with lights - no tree), and have loved my advent calendar gift. I'm actually more excited about this than daily chocolate (and that says a lot). 

Merry Christmas one and all...

Berlin eats, sleeps and musical treats


To bring in another birthday with a bang, we ventured to Berlin to see Alt-J in concert. They were good. Particularly as they were in a converted warehouse-arena, which was the perfect setting for their light effects and music.

Berlin itself was interesting, if you look past the grey and the graffiti there are pockets of coolness. Like Dude's Delikatessen on the way to the arena, amazing burgers with (huge) gherkins served in double quick time. They were also big on nicely-branded bottles of Vodka/Gin/Rum...

Whilst we're on food, we also had breakfast at Silo Coffee which was nice (coffee-infused maple bacon!?) but expensive in a town that was often very reasonably priced.

Our apartment was a first step into the world of Airbnb, the apartment was beautiful (see it in full here). And was a great price for a whole apartment that had dachsund prints on the walls and a bed that was 'like sleeping on a cloud'.

Being in Berlin, the obvious choice was to visit the big landmarks and the Berlin wall memorial, personal stories covered every aspect and it made for a worthwhile (few) hours (I eventually 'hit a wall'). Definetly recommend doing this if you visit Berlin as you understand a lot of what the city's about. It's also useful if your companion is a history buff and can give you the full low-down on the walk there.

Overall it was a good trip. But with people walking the streets drinking and the lack of beauty as you walk around, I'm not sure if I'd recommend this as the top place for couples. I'm glad I did it though...walls an' all...

My Top Winter Pinterest pins (from fashion to decor to cake)


I love sticking a pin on my imaginary pin board. Whilst occasionally detrimental to my wallet (I need a jumper that shows off my new gingham shirt collar), Pinterest knows no bounds in inspiring creativity, hunger and imagination. As a new season approaches it also means I can learn what fashion, decor and wedding trends are big and what comfort foods should be added to my imaginary cook book (I never get round to actually cooking them - I just dream about eating them). And so, I thought I would share some of my top winter pins to show what's inspiring me and...making me hungry. Follow me on Pinterest to see my other boards and these image credentials...

Fashion (see all)
I need a trench coat (again).

Food (see all)
Winter salad bowls followed by sweet smore brownies.

Decor (see all)
My geometric print obsession continues.

Wedding & Design (see all wedding / see all design)
Autumn flora inspired.

My new abstract/print covered/peony filled abode.


It's been 2 months since I moved into my own place, I still love it and now it's got all the little touches to make it more homely. Making the most of the opportunity to decorate with as many oddities as I like - I invested in some vintage fish pictures from Ikea, cake stands to hold fruit or jewellery and I mixed the art-deco prints with bright crochet rugs for colour.

I got some great rugs from The Range and Urban Outfitters. A lot of my candles, cushions and bathroom bits are from H&M home too - which turned out to be my favourite shopping spot. The quality is much better than I expected as it's reasonable. Another purchase (which wasn't so reasonably priced) was a Tipee for Lola from Not on the High Street. With all the house moves I thought a treat was in order, it fits in with the decor and she seems to like it but...it's quite pricey for something I probably could have made myself if I had the motivation (and a sewing machine).

Another spot for good household bits are supermarkets (though this can be a bit hit and miss), an abstract frame from Sainsburys and a retro glass vase from Tesco were little gems. Pictures below, with a bit of Dachshund activity thrown in...

 

 

Pop up vintage finds in Cheltenham


Since moving to Cheltenham, I have indulged my vintage shopping habit more than usual (if I'm honest, it doesn't stop at vintage...). The main reason for this is the little market on Leckhampton roundabout, which I always happen to walk past.

In particular they usually have a pop-up shop on the left hand side and for the past few weeks it has been 'Sons of Ron'. After a few regular visits and jokes about loyalty cards, I got talking to the owner who explained that his brother and himself spent the year collecting quirky vintage furniture to sell it all at the pop-up shop and at the Suffolk Square market. The items they had in there tugged at my heart and purse strings every time I walked in. From floral tins to rocking chairs...Luckilly, some self restraint kicked in and I left with a crochet throw, two retro deck chairs and...a floral tin :-)

Part of settling in has been trying to get my office space up and running. It's hard to get in a 'creative space' sat at the kitchen table with a playful dachshund at my heels. So, for now, take a peek at my attempt at a slightly more inspirational spot in the study...

Sunshine & Smut


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Whilst writing about my sunshine filled adventures, the rain pours outside. Typical. When it has actually been sunny - Lola and I have been making the most of it - admiring the fields full of yellow and the bright blue skies. Having lived in the Cotswolds for well over a year now, the changing seasons still never fail to inspire my Instagram photographs. Post-walk I have been relaxing on our new sofa and armchair, which I love! Retro green with dark wooden legs, decorated in vintage floral cushions and crochet throws. 

I have also been trying to get into my new book 'Smut' by Alan Bennett. I say 'trying' because he usually writes screenplays and this is evident in his writing. You wouldn't say it is easy to follow but the lead character in one of the stories (there are two) is called Mrs Donaldson (I am Miss Donaldson), which, along with the lovely front cover encouraged me to buy it. There are some um...shocking moments? The title probably gives this away... 

Another exciting 'adventure' has been getting my agency website live. I previously wrote about how The Ink Closet isn't best placed to showcase my Cotswold based brand and marketing work - so Design by Tic was created. If you follow me on Facebook and Twitter you'll have seen the website went live last week and I'm really pleased with it. Take a look, any thoughts/feedback would be appreciated...

Up close and retro in my home


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My home is often an explosion of retro prints, carboot gems and country-esque flowers. I also realised, when watching Kirstie's 'Fill your house for free' programme, that a lot of the things in my house were also free or ridiculously cheap thanks to relatives hand-me-downs, ebay and carboots. 

I am lucky in the fact that the country house I live in matches this style - and scattered around are a few statement pieces/areas that bring it all together. From pine cones on scales to a 'hideous' retro picnic throw on a dainty white chair - it's the odd combinations that work the best so I thought I'd share these with you...

Summer brings out the love of Flora in me


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I don't know if it's lighter evenings, walks in the countryside or seasonal flowers - but I love filling my house with flowers at the moment. Everyone loves flowers (apart from some serious hayfever sufferers), but I love flowers. One of my first jobs as a teenager was working in the floristry department of Waitrose. I made bouquets, learnt how to look after flowers and started a life long interest in floristry. It has always been my 'back up job' after being a designer. And yes, if I won the lottery, I would open up my own flower shop.

So, in the spirit of summer, I wanted to show you some of the beautiful flowers I've found on my walks and some arrangements I've put together from my garden. Roses and peonies are my favourite (can you tell?)...