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….

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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 pickingĀ 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

The Sofa Saga

Well, when we moved in to the flat, there were a few essentials we knew we needed as soon as possible. A bed. A wardrobe. A sofa. If you’ve ever bought a sofa and found it easy, I mostly don’t believe you. Or you’re very very unfussy, and probably bought it alone.

We did, I freely admit, make things harder for ourselves with the colour scheme. We’d decided on an amazing combination of teal and yellow. It sounds odd when I tell people about this, but honestly it looks amazing. A lovely sunshiny, bright, cheerful yellow for the walls and then vibrant yet calming teal. http://www.pinterest.com/chariscroft/sunshiny-front-room/ – my pinterest board for inspirations for the room demonstrates where I’m coming from I think.

Anyway, what with us being enamoured of this colour scheme, and teal being pretty much both of our favourite colour, we really weren’t willing to compromise on sofa colour. It had to be teal. Now, if you’ve ever looked for a sofa, they’re mostly brown. Dark brown, light brown, beige, cream. Something along that spectrum. Most of the rest are in other neutral colours – blacks and greys. Which leaves a small proportion for every other colour under the sun. Red was fairly popular, a few pinks and greens and royal blues. Not so many teals – though there were some around.

So, colour wise we were pretty clear what we wanted. And we wanted an L-shaped sofa. Tricky, but not impossible. Harder though, when you were trying to do it on a budget – we had a bed and a wardrobe to buy as well. Even harder when you’re trying to reconcile two very different ideas of sofa use. I wanted something supportive and quite firm – something I could sit on to eat dinner and use my laptop. My lady wanted something squishy and soft and good for lying or lounging around on. It felt almost impossible to suit everything we wanted.

And so it turned out. We traipsed through Ikea what felt like 100 times, even though we’d sworn not to buy a sofa or a bed there after previous bad experiences. We looked online through what felt like every place that sells sofas and pored endlessly over catalogues. We visited showrooms, dutifully sitting on endless brown sofas. Eventually, it looked like we’d found something possibly ok in DFS, and we went to our local store to test it out. When we arrived, we happened to park outside a Sofaworks on the same site, and figuring we had nothing to lose, we went in.

Worth saying now, the shopping experience at Sofaworks was fantastic. We were allowed to try a few sofas before a salesperson came over ask if needed help. We said we were ok, and they melted away, with a soft reassurance that if we needed them, we could find them. I hate pushy salespeople, it tends to make me leave, so this was great. And, even more stunningly, we found a sofa! The Aphrodite sofa was velvety, came in teal and we were both happy sitting on it. It even had a little L shape. The price was reasonable too, and we were incredibly happy. As a final precaution, we decided to go back and measure up the room again, just to be sure where it would go.

And it was a very good job we did too. The sofa would have fit in the room, but never have got into the room. I think I mentioned the narrow doors and staircase. The sofa couldn’t go through any of them. We became depressed. We discussed asking if it could be broken down, but we were covered in gloom. The only sofa in the whole world (we thought) that met our needs and we couldn’t get it in the house.

At this point, I hit stubborn mode. Sometimes, when I hit an apparently insoluble problem, I just refuse to accept defeat and keep at it until eventually something gives way. I started Googling. I think the relevant search was ‘sofa narrow door stairs teal’ when we hit upon a little company who let you design your own sofa. They had a range of colours and a GUARANTEE it would fit up any stairs, through any door. Illustrated by some spiral staircases to attics they had managed to navigate.

It seemed too good to be true, and I was morbidly convinced that the sofa would be the most uncomfortable thing I’d ever sat on (even including the broken Ikea one we were moving away from), so it wasn’t with high hopes that I drove to their tiny showroom in Uxbridge. But I was utterly confounded.

Nabru was hidden away on an industrial estate, but once inside you could test all the different sofas, with the same excellent customer service that had characterised Sofaworks. You could take free samples of all their fabrics, including a gorgeous chenille teal. You could design a sofa to exactly meet your needs, and have different softnesses of seat cushion. Testing the sofas out, they were the most comfortable we’d tried in the whole experience. WE immediately went to the computers there and started designing our dream sofa. Armed with the exact measurements, we put together a 5 seater, L-shaped sofa in our dream colour. With storage under every seat. That would fit through the doors. For LESS than the Aphrodite 3 seater. They were even able to deliver and assemble that week.

Essentially, the sofa comes flat pack, which is why it fits everywhere. But it doesn’t feel flatpack now it’s in one piece, and in fact I adore the sofa. It might be my favourite thing. I can’t say enough how brilliant I think it is. And when we get round to finally painting the walls behind it, it will look so spectacular. I almost can’t wait….