Thursday, 31 January 2013

I Made It!

Not every working day is for 'working'. Some working days are for learning, for meeting and for experiencing. These nonofficial work days definitely make you happier, expand your knowledge and introduce you to new things, people and places. Yesterday was one of those days for me. In fact yesterday was down right glorious and not only did I feel lucky but I appreciated every moment of it.

Rainbow colour fabrics, no greige here!

As I've said before it's the simple things. Shall I tell you what I did? Quite simply I;

* packed my Christmas gift - a sewing machine - into my car

* drove to one of the prettiest of towns in South Devon - Dartmouth - singing along to Lenny  
   Kravitz all the way & smiling all the way (I couldn't believe it, the sun was out!)

* spent three hours at Made it, literal creative heaven, as Yvonne (a totally lovely and very
   knowledgeable woman in all things creative) taught me how to use my sewing machine

* made a cute little cushion for Heidi with ballerina printed fabric she chose herself

* ate homemade cake (please can I have the recipe Yvonne?!) and drank numerous cups of tea

The first thing I have ever sewn! and phew, Heidi loved it!

What more can I say? Not only did I meet Yvonne who truly was a great teacher and generally lovely to chat with and learn to use my machine, that I have looked at every day since December 25th thinking "I really would love to use you but haven't the foggiest where to begin", I have been given a whole new impetus to get making. I often bang on about personalising your home, making interior styling more affordable, finding the right finishing touches...what better than you make them yourself?

Here are a few snaps from Yvonne's shop Made it in Dartmouth and a link to where you can find out more about her courses. Always fancied dress making? Wanted to learn how to sew but would prefer to do it in the comfort of your own home? Yvonne offers all sorts of courses so it's definitely worth taking a look and giving over one of your working days for a nonofficial work day *smile*

Jewellery making...

Buttons galore...

Sewing kits...

Ribbons, bows, ric rac...
Beautiful Dartmouth
Right, so what shall I make next? Hmm maybe I'll just practice threading up the machine first!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Some simple tips about colours for your interiors

I am quite easily confused. It's shame but I'm not afraid to admit it. I'm also super organised. And in an organised manner, I efficiently put things in places that I think are logical, then I change my mind and move them somewhere else. When I go to look for them, I go back to the original place and can never find them because they are of course no longer there. Grrr I get sooo cross with myself! Due to the aforementioned facts, I have decided that my blog might actually be a good place to store things because a) I'm here most days and b) it's a great place to share things I think you might like too.

Going back to being easily confused, if you were to put me on the spot and quiz me about hues, shades, tints & tones, although I know all abut them, I guarantee I'd get my knickers in a twist and mix them all up! So today I am storing and sharing my helpful hints about helpful things to know about colour right here.

Home Restyler's Simple Colour Tips

  • Often called a pastel, a tint is a created by adding white to any pure colour
  • It increases lightness to create a more feminine, soft and soothing colour scheme
  • Tints are ideal in bedrooms & bathrooms

  • A shade is simply any colour which has had black added to it
  • It reduces lightness to create a moodier, richer and mysterious palette
  • Shades are effective in dining rooms, living rooms and bedrooms

Abigail Ahern, the queen of dark and mysterious interiors

  • A tone is a pure colour that has had both black + white = grey added to it
  • It dulls the original colour making it more modern, complex and sophisticated 
  • Tones are great in all interior spaces as they will work with all colour schemes

Lesson over, but one to bookmark for me, when I get my knickers in a twist and for you, if you don't know your tint from your tone. I hope this has helped *smile*

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The daunting world of start-ups...

It was just under three years ago that I officially started up Home Restyler as my business. This time round I didn't write a business plan, I didn't work out budgets, time plans, meet with a bank manager to discuss the financial side of things, carry out any market research or do any of what I had done when I had developed two entirely different start-up ideas before. I followed my heart and turned my passion into my job.

Ok, I have to admit that my family wasn't reliant on my income paying the bills, but it was looking forward to finally being able to enjoy some little extras and treats that we couldn't afford without it. I am not advocating this as the way to launch your business if you are thinking of starting out on your own, but what I do want to say is that if you feel passionate about it, committed to it and have an unabating desire to take on the challenge and see it through, then that is the absolute BEST place to start. All the rest will follow.

So, why am I sharing this with you today? Well,after about 18 months of being in business I came across Enterprise Nation, which exists to provide support for UK homegrown business through its books, events and on its website. From free start-up kits for a fiver, which includes a fab e-book by start-up expert Emma Jones packed full of all the initial info you need, 50 free Moo business cards and loads of other helpful goodies to incredibly helpful, insightful and useful advice for helping you market, grow and develop your business. Take for example 'TechTuesday', the latest advice for which was an Infographic all about how to become a master of LinkedIn

I thought I'd be helpful today for anyone out there who might be googling 'start-up business' or generally looking for advice for starting out on your own. I thoroughly recommend Enterprise Nation as a one stop shop for everything you will need to get your business up and running. You can also register your business on their website, always good for helping Google searches! This is where you'll find Home Restyler.

And if you're about to launch your own business good luck, why not share your elevator pitch here and we an help spread your word *smile*

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Wood glorious wood - using wood in your interiors

I have this obsession with wood. 

I love the smell of freshly chopped logs, fir trees, smouldering embers in a fire, freshly polished wood surfaces. 

I love the look of stripped wooden floorboards, chunky aged old oak tables, geometric shaped plywood objects. 

I love the colours of wood, the paleness of light grained oak, the dark rich warm colour of walnut and the golden hues of oak.

Quality crafted wooden furniture is the best. It's strong, versatile and timeless. It can be stripped back to its bones, varnished, painted, carved or upholstered. You can invest in expensive pieces to last you a lifetime or pick up unloved pieces from second hand shops and up-cycle them to give them a new lease of life. I have bought all sorts of 'junk pieces' over the past few years and had great fun experimenting with paint colours and fabrics to create new designs. I have also bought a few new pieces that will only improve over the years as they mellow and experience life in our household.

For the next house, whenever we actually find it (where are currently renting patiently!) I'd love some new chunky statement wooden furniture and I thought I'd share with you today a few pieces I came across recently.

Amazonica solid oak table, Tarzan Furniture
Amazonica solid oak table, Tarzan Furniture
This immensely chunky sustainable solid oak table can be made in custom sizes, in different 'beam' widths, is completely unbreakable and is handmade in Devon. It may not be cheap but it will last more than a lifetime and has 'statement piece' written all over it.

Another type of wood I would like to be able to utilise in my next house is reclaimed wood. Whether it gets used for the floor, to clad walls with or even encase a kitchen island unit, I don't know yet but there is a fab company also based in Devon that brings reclaimed wood back to life. Not only can they supply reclaimed floorboards and beams but they can also create bespoke furniture in pretty much whatever shape you would like. Aside from being green and doing my bit for the planet, there's something so lovely about wood that has aged and developed its own character, don't you think?!

Wood clad your hallway
Subtle additions of reclaimed wood bring warmth to an all white kitchen
Love, love, love the layers of texture in this room!

Do you have much wood in your home? How have you used reclaimed wood? Right now I could do with a fire to burn some it's just sooo cold! Brrr.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Constantly evolving interiors

I've been spending every evening for the past few weeks poking about amongst old photos and aside from some of the hilarious outfits I've come across (worn by certain family members - say no more!) I noticed how my decor has changed over the years. Having lived in 10 different houses in as many years I've certainly had experience in playing with varying property specs, room sizes and types of home. Unfortunately I don't have many photos of the majority of properties I've lived in (by the time I get the camera out I'm practically moving out again!) but I know for sure that money has generally been tight when it comes to buying furniture and accessories as well as flooring, paint and wallpaper. Nevertheless I have never let this stop me from finding ways to create a home that works for me and that I have felt has its own style.

Ok, so what kind of looks have I had? There's been really cheap and really cheerful, I've got an example of that here;

This was the dining area in a kitchen diner in a house we bought on the outskirts of Birmingham. The house was so dull when we moved in and it was within a matter of just a couple of weeks that we decided to up sticks again and move back to Devon. So in order to get a quick sale and at least cover costs, if not make some profit, we gave the whole house a spruce up on a mega tight budget. We injected loads of colour by colour blocking walls and used plain white frames to mount co-ordinating wrapping paper. Up-cycled second hand furniture and junk finds filled the house with an elective bunch of items that despite their incongruity, pulled off a fun look, perfect for the young professional couple that ended up buying it.

There's been the pastel-y, vintage-y, country inspired look, which meant lots of pinks, duck egg blues and cream with painted and distressed furniture and neutral carpets. The photo of the main bedroom here is a good example of how I achieved this look;

I experimented with lilac and silver in my bedroom (not the photo above, which is obviously pink!), which once done and although it looked beautiful, I vowed never to do  again - I hate lilac but I wanted to give it a go and see how it turned out (it's always good to experiment, if you don't like the end of the result just do it again!). Laura Ashley fabric seconds and painted old car boot furniture were a bit of a go-to for this tiny new build house. Once I'd decorated the house I was completely bored of the look as it felt too twee for me so it was fab news when we managed to get our hands on a knackered, repo 4 bed house that needed a complete overhaul and a lot of TLC. Here are a few shots of that house;

In this house, I had wanted a simple, modern, white backdrop onto which I could layer bright colours. I had a burning desire to keep it entirely pared back with no fuss or complication. The downstairs was completely open plan, not a door in sight, except for the front door and one for the cloakroom. The upstairs was much the same, with multi-functional rooms for crafting, painting, lounging, sleeping, playing and working. This was my home office;

Colourful & busy but well organised!
There have been various homes between the ones I've shared photos of today, all of which have been decorated differently. Even though my tastes continue to evolve, there are a few key elements that always remain the same;
I love tidiness.
I hate clutter.
I love clean and clear surfaces and organised drawers and cupboards.
I hate personal photographs being on display.
I love fresh flowers and candles.

My current house is rented but I like what I have managed to do with the space;

Since moving into this rented house, I've been looking for the next house to buy and whilst doing so have been collating inspiration in my Style File. I just had a quick flick through it and noticed something quite remarkable...there's a lot of darker hues in it. Maybe my passion for white + bight has subsided and the next step of my constantly evolving interior style is going to take me to the dark side.

I suppose what I'm ultimately trying to say, is that no one look is perfect. Neither is a room ever completely 'finished', there is always a new way of styling it, adding to it, taking away from it, rejigging's all about the constant evolution of it.

Ooh navy, sludgy greys, black raspberry and copper here I come *smile*

Yums! Peter Fehrentz's apartment in Berlin

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Your personal interiors shopper

I had such a fab time choosing tiles for a client at Mandarin Stone this morning that it got me thinking (whilst lugging my very own incredibly heavy tile sample box for me to keep - thank you Paul!) about personal interiors shopping. I have just under two weeks before my next couple of client projects kick off and I was contemplating how I could constructively use my time in between blogging, researching, reading, planning, bla bla bla... which would be both productive and useful. Then the idea of personal interiors shopping popped into my head.

Forgive me for blogging about it before I've come up with all the minor details and properly considered in great detail but don't you think it could be a good idea? I know and have met soooo many people who just cannot make decisions when they are out and about looking to buy items for the home, whether it be flooring, fabrics, decorative accessories and so the list goes on. Clients have previously jokingly suggested that I go shopping with them and take the stress out of the decision making and take the bull by the horns and tell them what to buy. No faffing, no if and buts but simply let me take the reigns and make the decisions.

This would be a fun way to take the pressure off and fully enjoy re-styling the home for those who find it practically impossible to take the plunge and make decisions. It would also be an even more cost effective way for clients to employ my services - note that my ethos is all about affordable and achievable interior styling for everyone - and I would absolutely LOVE taking people out and about, helping them find the perfect things for their homes. Any excuse to go shopping hey!

I Love Shopping tote bag, NOTHS

So tell me, what are your thoughts? Do you think it's a go-er? Would you be interested if this kind of service was on offer? I'd love to hear what you think about it.

Thank you x

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Living life creatively

'New Year, New You'. 'Out with the old, in with the new'. Agh, how I hate these phrases and any other that have been used in adverts, editorials and magazine front covers for decades now. All it does is put pressure on people to become a new person and to change who they are and the way they live their lives. Is it not better and more realistic to encourage people to become a 'better person' and instead of piling on the pressure to get fit, be healthy, lose weight, change your wardrobe, redecorate your home etc gentle with yourself and set achievable goals?

For me, once my favourite time of the year comes to an end and the new year rolls in, I too like to think about changes I could make. But, you know, this year I am not going to set myself up for what would inevitably end up in failure (yeah, like I'll really stick to going to the gym four times a week, cut out sweets, biscuits and cakes completely and learn a new language in three months). No, I am going to focus on what is achievable and realistic. I've spent too much time trying to do things 'right', to be 'perfect' and wasted waaay too much time worrying about what other people think. And the thing that's the bigger shame of it, is that it has stunted my creativity.

So from now on I am going to try super special extra hard to invest my energy in making me a better me and by that I mean allowing my inner creative juices to really flow. And to help me, I'm going to use prompts, tips and techniques that other creative types have shared, which will encourage me to use my brain differently, break down self-imposed barriers and instead of thinking outside of the box, I want to transform my proverbial box into one helluva funky, multi-coloured bubble.

Here are a few of the things that I am hoping will inspire me;

This is a fab list that has been bandied about for years now. I've seen it in the past and thought I haven't got time for it. Classic! I'm going to stick this on the back of my bathroom cabinet door and in the cups and mugs cupboard in my kitchen so that I'll definitely see it every day. I've done a few of them in the past for example, learning a new word a day, checking out new music, watching foreign films...but it's far too easy to slip back into old habits and ignore the email alert with the new word, listen to the same old tunes I love and be 'too tired' to have to concentrate on sub-titles. You know where I'm coming from right? So I will report back to you and let you know how I get on.

I bought 642 Things to Write About for my brother this Christmas and was sorely tempted not to give it to him. 35 writers from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto contributed to this incredibly inspiring book, which is full of writing prompts from 'write a love letter to a person you dislike' to 'fix the plot of the worst movie you've ever seen'. I am going to order this for myself and see if creative writing gets my general creative juices flowing.

Everyone who knows me, knows that what I spent most of my time thinking about and doing is interior styling related. However, I honestly think that by diversifying my spare time away from always thinking about furniture, colours, design schemes etc, I will give my creative edge in terms of my work and the ideas I present to my clients a boost and a new lease of life but I'll have to let my clients be the judge of that! 

Actually I have had some new thoughts about colour schemes recently, which I'll write about in my next post. Hmm, I wonder what inspired those? Must have been the cheeky but oh so exquisite chocolate truffles I've been eating of late *wink*. Oh Happy New Year by the way!