Knick knacks and what nots

So I promised a blog on decorating the top of the Mexican chest. I now it’s been a while, but my real job has been somewhat hectic this last week or two, meaning that I’ve not been able to spare much thought to much else. Likely to continue for a while as well, I’m afraid. But I’ll do what I can to keep updated!


So with the new chest, we knew we wanted it to look nice on top (and not just be another shelf for books. Though we do need one….). Some time before, we had bought a rather nice table runner in Malta. It had a pattern of orange butterflies on cream material, and we had always felt that it would be good in the loft room. And lo and behold – it does look good! And it was a good size for the chest too. Sometimes it’s just fate.


Our little stereo vignette

Our little stereo vignette

But that’s just a base. We also knew we wanted the stereo on the chest, and angled so that the sound would reach into the whole room. The black of the stereo looks really good against the walls and with the black metal on the chest, so that worked out well too. To soften the lines a little, I added a black metal candlestick, that stands out well against the wall.


I’d previously bought a dark purple faux rose (from the ever fabulous Abigail Ahern’s store). I’d hoped it would work in the hallway, but it wasn’t right there. However it was the perfect colour for the loft room – that purple matched the trim really well. And I may say now that against the wall it positively glows with warmth. So it got added to the candlestick, in a beautiful single stem cut glass vase my brother bought me for my 18th birthday. Added to the bottom is a little tag that was part of a present I bought my lady.


You can see some of the philosophy I bring to decorating shelves etc. It’s important that what you put out looks good. And it should match the room in some way. But if you’ve bought or been given something, it comes with a story and with memories and associations and affection. And that’s what a home is all about. It’s about memories and love and all the things that make up YOU and if what you put out doesn’t say that to you (I don’t care about visitors – you live there, you see it every day) then you’ve failed.


Which is a distinct link to the other main feature of the chest’s decoration. The thimble collection. As it turns out, the dark wood of the official thimble collection holder is lovely against the wall. But they overflow out onto the little book collection (it’s Beatrix Potter, which none of us read, but the collection in a box case is too lovely not to have out) and even on to the cake stand. And isn’t that cake stand lovely? I’m a fan of using cake stands to put other things on instead of hiding them away in cupboards. Cake stands can be so lovely in themselves and are clearly designed to display things too.


The white rabbits are a nod to our obsession with bunnies (as mentioned in the cushion blog), and look rather fun away in the corner. In fact, all the things you can see have some personal memory attached.


All our bits and pieces looking lovely

All our bits and pieces looking lovely

Which is why (or one reason anyway!) that I’m starting to love spending time up in the loft room….


Ceilings – underused areas

Honestly – who thinks much about ceilings except as something to hang lights from? A huge, flat space in our rooms that we basically ignore…

I love going round stately homes and one of the first things I do in each room is look up. I love those grand old ceilings with mouldings and patterns. And often murals and paintings too. They really used the space. But when I look around rooms of most people, they do nothing with the ceiling. So here are some options that I think look stunning and a bit more modern than murals of goddesses and fat cherubs!

Well there’s this lovely gold ceiling. I think this would be a really good way of reflecting light in a small space, while also looking really glamorous. Might be a bit overpowering in a big room perhaps.

Gold ceiling in a small vanity sink areaa

Gold ceiling in a small vanity sink area

Next this lovely study with a map ceiling. I’m actually genuinely slightly tempted by putting this in our (much smaller) study. It’s just so cool! And all the cream background means it still feels high and spacious.

Map ceiling

Or you could just go bold and colourful. This look probably does go best with a white or pale wall (so a bit unlike my standard approach). I love how in this room the ceiling is echoed in the rug too.

Teal ceiling

And finally, back to that old school moulding? Well, here’s a modern take on it. I absolutely adore this ceiling. Doesn’t it look special? Would be amazing in my bedroom with it’s bower theme or the hallway (which will be a winter woodland when it’s finally done)

Vine ceiling

A little bit of upcycling…

Well, maybe it’s not really upcycling. The chandelier in the front room was the one that came with the flat. It’s quite pretty, in it’s way. Or was. A sort of pale green, distressed to see the brassy metal beneath.

I’m not a fan of shabby chic anyway – I think that distressed stuff tends to look uncared for, almost dirty and messy. It’s worse with wood, which I always think looks mouldy and like the paint is peeling. But what felt bad for the chandelier is that it really rather blended in to the walls. Surely the whole point of a chandelier is that it’s a statement? And of course the pale green/brass didn’t go with the proposed yellow and teal theme for the front room.

So I bought a teal enamel paint and set to work.

Of course, I did it the wrong way. I didn’t properly detach the chandelier so I was painting over my head. And, being stupid, I did the first coat at night so I was staring at the lit bulbs. Yes, stupid stupid! I got teal paint on the table, the remote control and my hair.

Worth it though. I think the result looks stunning. Hope you agree!

Now just wondering what to do with the rest of the tin of paint….

Rugs – they really make a difference

I’d heard a lot about how much of a difference rugs can make, but I don’t think I really understood it. Perhaps it’s the kind of thing you don’t properly get until you try it out.

But the carpets in our house are pretty grim – thin, poorly fitted and ugly brown. We’ve got enough on our plates without trying to replace carpets too, so rugs seemed like a place to start. We had a couple – old and a bit the worse for wear. A quick wash, and one cream rug was in place. It lifted the room to a quite incredible degree. Brighter, more elegant, more loved.

So I decided to take the plunge and buy a really nice, different looking rug for the living room. Rugs can be ridiculously expensive, but once I got myself into stubborn Google mode, it turned out there were actually a few options. I found a fun abstract yellow and white rug, that might have been a bit jazzy for the room. And a lovely teal and yellow poppy pattern that looked lovely, but I wasn’t sure about as a rug – I felt it might dominate – or look odd when half of it was hidden by a table or an ironing board.

And then there was this one. Beautifully matching teal, interesting and yet abstract, and picking up the wood/neutral colours that the room has alongside the yellow. I put it down and immediately I love it. It makes the room feel more together, more part of a scheme. It makes the small kitchen diner look grand and somewhere you really want to spend time. Amazing!

Just look at how great it looks with the sofa – like they were meant to be together…

Rug with the sofa

It does bring into focus how bare the walls are, but that’s an ongoing project….

The overall effect

Moving on to the study

I’m not blogging these updates in the order we did them in – progress on our house wasn’t as simple and linear as I’m pretending to create some sort of coherent narrative…

Anyway, while doing the bedroom, we were also doing up the study. This is a tiny little room, sold as a single bedroom, but would only just be big enough for that. And in fact, having a study was a big selling point for the flat. My partner needs some space and a bolthole (yes, even from me!), and having a room to go to was going to be a big thing. She’s also hoping to write something, and an inspiring, beautiful place was going to help. Or that was the plan.

Anyway, the study was predominantly going to be ‘her’ space, so it was important that she picked the colours. Her absolute favourite colour is, if not teal like the sofa, a clear, slightly greenish blue. Duck egg, TIffany style blues. Blue is, of course, also a very serene colour, and so we felt that it would be suitable for a study space. Out with the Dulux charts, and nearly endless discussions of colour. Eventually we found the right Tiffany blue, but were slightly scared that it would be too intense in such a small space, so we decided to paint two walls in a paler, sky like blue to offset that problem.

Finally we went really intense blue and painted the skirting boards, radiator and door in a really dark version of the Tiffany blue. This not only added some drama and interest, but the darker colour feels warmer – good in an icy blue room with only north facing light!

Below is the radiator and the paler wall, with a sneak preview of some of the other stuff…


Finishing touches

So, the bedroom now has painted walls, a wardrobe, a bed, curtains. All the main things anyway.

So we needed just (maybe I should say ‘just’) the finishing touches.

We stencilled the wardrobe doors – those very plain ones I was talking about before. I found a massive Virginia creeper stencil online (Etsy is amazing) and used that. I think it looked very clean and very smart.

The first stage of stencilling the wardrobe

The first stage of stencilling the wardrobe

Unfortunately we had a slight problem. To get the depth of colour, we needed two coats. On our third door, the stencil fell off between the two coats, leaving a very pale stencil. There was no way I could possibly put the stencil exactly back over it again. So we decided to make the best of a bad job and turn it into almost a third dimension. It looks pretty good, I think, though I do prefer the cleaner first look!

The 3D stencils

We also decorated the bed. I know its a bit girly and possibly a bit twee, but I had my heart set on a canopy. With garlands and flowers and twinkly lights. You can see how it turned out…and whatever you think of it for grown ladies, I LOVE IT. Which is, fundamentally, all that matters.

The fairy princess canopy

So, just a few finishing touches. I can be a bit of an addict to bedding, so I bought some new bedding – white with flower themes. You can see some of them in the photos, and they definitely add to the overall feel of the room. My favourite is the recent purchase covered with little 3D blue butterflies. It’s so delicate and pretty and matches the feel of the room perfectly.

The butterfly bedlinen

And then, keeping with the bower theme, little bedside lights (from Ikea) that give a beautiful soft glow in the evenings – and the whole room just makes me delighted!

Bedside lights

The bedroom curtains

So, the bedroom is green, and has the major furniture in place. We just needed a way to tie it all together. I had this idea of making the room into a bit of a bower – so lots of flowers, vines, that sort of thing. Very girly and with the possibility of being a bit cutesy, but something I really wanted to do. And as its my bedroom (our bedroom, but this we more or less agreed on), that’s what’s important.

Which is where we were when we came up to the decision point about the curtains. The room, as I mentioned, has a big bay window, but that opens out over the front drive and the road. Neither of us were comfortable with having this just open, so we wanted to have some sort of way of shading us from the full view of passers by. I was a bit uncomfortable with the vibe from net curtains and even voiles, as being a bit grannyish, but it was the only thing we could afford. So we wanted something that had flowers and at the same time was quite young….hmmm….

We hunted everywhere, and in the end it was online that came up trumps, with curtains we could get made to measure. Ours have a trailing flower pattern, which was the best we could find to tread that tricky line…


On top of these we needed green curtains. As mentioned in a previous post, it was tough to find something in the shade of green that we wanted. So we ditched the matching idea and went for something contrasting – a dark green. Again, made to measure online was our best bet – the windows seemed to be an unusual length – too deep for short curtains but the longer ones would have been trailing on the floor. We also found some in a velour – a nice luxury fabric to contrast with the feel of the room so far.


And the best bit – when the sun shines through onto the curtains you can just see the shadow of the vine pattern on the curtains, which is genuinely lovely. Room is getting there at last!