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  • Happiness Begins at Home!

    Home is where we begin and end our day, so naturally it should be a place of calm, serene, cosy and all engulfing. A place that you want to come back to, a place for you to just ‘be’ in whatever state of alertness or relaxation that may be. It has been proven that our environment affects our stress levels which then affects our well being. So you want to create a space that is completely in line with making you feel good, a space that has a place for everything and everything is certainly in its place. Its about getting that balance just right – not too overdone or too minimalist – it needs to tell the story of you, and who you are, where you might have been and what has shaped you.

    Now to create this haven, just for you, you should think about a few things; colours, patterns, furniture and accessories. Choose finishes and loose items for practicality as well as style and aesthetic. At the back of your mind you must think about creating that zen space – will this work, will it create that calm and serene mood I want to create? Does it tell or hint at my personality or life experiences like travel around the world? Time in a monastery? or even the high flying business owner that you are? Think about what you want your space, your home, your room to talk about. Don’t overly clutter the space so that each piece you have chosen can breathe, make an impact and tell a story.

    Many of us are guilty of owning too many things (guilty as charged!), its hard to let ‘go’ of things – don’t get me wrong I’m as sentimental as they come, but do you really need to keep your first ever phone from way back when they invented them and they were the size of a brick?? All of these ‘things’ that we keep (read: hoard) aren’t good for our well being, or our health and they impact our creativity – not what we need! Now to de-clutter is therapeutic in itself but also allows us to feel lighter, fresher and regain that spring in our step. Ready to do it? Yay me too… here are some simple ways to get started on that task:

    1. Write a list (you knew that was coming!) of all the boxes/cupboards/drawers/rooms you need to go through.

    2. Take small steps, dedicate 15 minutes each day to working on a part of the tasks and set a timer – stop as soon as it chimes and come back to it the following day.

    3. Do one room/wardrobe/cupboard at a time – don’t flit between them or you’ll lose focus like we spoke about when talking about being productive, here.

    4. One in, one out rule totally applies to this – every time you get rid of something you can buy another (you have my permission).

    5. Don’t give yourself space for clutter – the spare room or that empty box – get rid of it, turn that spare room into an office or a home gym.

    6. Good one for the wardrobe – take everything off the hangers, get rid of 5 hangers, hang them all back up by going through your clothes in preference order, anything left not on a hanger can go.

    7. My fav – create a memory box and keep all your treasured items in here so they don’t get mistakenly thrown out.

    8. Sort out paperwork as soon as it arrives rather than letting it accumulate.

    9. Get the Marie Kondo book – its packed with useful hints and tips on how to de-clutter like a pro, the KonMarie way.

    What other ways can you think of to shake the cluttered, tied down, heaviness that our homes might have been surrounded by?

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  • 8 Tips on Being Productive and not ‘Busy’!

    So isn’t it funny when all of your carefully planned cogs collide and cause chaos and mayhem? I’ve had that recently where I have been so caught up in one part of my life that all the other parts of it get all jumbled and you end up feeling a little chaotic and therefore you’re ‘busy’ but not necessarily productive?

    Here are 8 tips on being productive rather than busy:

    1. Make a list of all of the things you want to achieve and schedule your week, I always categorise my lists; admin, technical, marketing, life, projects so that it makes it really easy to identify what I need to achieve. You’ll regularly find me, on a Sunday afternoon, with a mug of coffee, a weekly planner, my calendar and my to do list and I will block and allocate a time to do each task so that my week is planned rather than mayhem. You end up achieving a lot more and being more focused about what you do rather than jumping from task to task.

    2. Automate tasks that you don’t need to necessarily do manually, I regularly have my grocery shopped delivered to my door rather than going out to the shops, book in the gardener to come over once a month and give the garden a good tidy up, put meal plans together to make life simpler – no umming and arring in this house!

    3. Don’t wile away your hours on social media, invest in an app that tracks your time on the socials to see how long you actually spend looking at ‘inspiration’ on Instagram. I recently heard about site blockers that you can install on your desktops which can and will purposefully not allow you to access certain websites for however long you specify. Imagine not being able to jump onto Facebook at the drop of a hat?! Scared? I dare you!

    4. Take a break! What do I mean? We all know that you can’t sit at your desk all day and actually get all of your work done in one fell swoop, taking regular breaks will allow you to let your mind wander, get some fresh air, stretch your legs and be back to your old self in as little as 10 minutes – so take the opportunity, then come back to your work with a clear head.

    5. Start your day with the hardest task or the task that you’ve been putting off, it’ll help to just get it done early on when you’re at your best, then you’ve got the rest of the day to finish off, not worrying about that big looming task.

    6. Close all your browser tabs – I checked this morning and I had a record number of 46 tabs open!! This meant I was jumping from one task to another as I came across the relevant tab – I had kept them open as reminders to complete something but it simply wasn’t happening – so now I have bookmarked and saved them to return when its time to complete said task… How many tabs do you have open, let me know in the comments?

    7. Have a natter – its so useful talking to another person, either pick up that phone or arrange to have an informal chat with a colleague or someone else. It could be to ask an opinion on something specific or just a little chat about the weather – it all helps to refocus your centre and think about something else – make sure you’re present though, its no good if you’re thinking about your client meeting later or what you’re having for lunch!

    8. We all want to be the expert at everything, but alas we are not – there are some things that we just aren’t wired for. The best thing to do is acknowledge it and find an expert to come in and take over. We all have our expertise so hiring in or getting a colleague to help out on something because they know more than you is perfectly acceptable.

    Sometimes its really difficult to accomplish what you need to, your to do list is ever growing and you’re setting your goals high, and you just need to perform. It can get too much and no matter how hard you try to list, categorise and get things done, sometimes productivity just stops, overwhelm happens. The key is to know how to wipe that slate clean, pick yourself up and start again. Do you have any other tips that you also think are relevant? What do you do to be productive rather than busy?

     

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  • 6 Indoor Plants That Survive ANYTHING!

    If you’re anything like me then you don’t have any green fingers, not even toes! So I was pleased when one of my oh-so-cool friends (read: expert gardener) told me that there were certain plants that even I could look after, even though I was time-poor and very very forgetful at times… what was that you wanted me to do Mr P?!!

    Plants bring warmth and soften the interior, and it has long been my dream to cultivate a lovely indoor garden, they also have huge health benefits – one being to purify the air.

    Aloe Vera

    Embed from Getty Images

    This is the plant to have, apply aloe onto scars, burns and the such, it instantly soothes the skin. It loves dry soil so don’t water it very often, and find the warmest spot in your house as this plant loves the warmth. The added bonus is that they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and look pretty cool too – the one plant that I do have so far and its still going strong!

    Spider Plant

    This plant is super easy to grow and can withstand lots of neglect, indirect sunlight is great for it. It definitely adds visual interest to a room and they like moist soil in medium to bright light.

    Peace Lily

    This is a popular houseplant with its dark leaves and white blooms and is really easy to grow. Low maintenance is the word, this plant has to dry out between watering so if you forget to water it (me) then this is perfect! It thrives in low light conditions, perfect for those rooms with no windows. They are also on NASA’s list of top air-cleaning plants – that is definitely good to know!

    Rubber Tree Plant

    This plant is easy to grow and can grow up to 8ft, or taller and has the shineyest green leaves. This plant prefers its soil to dry out in between watering and likes to be in bright rooms.

    Pothos

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    This plant has an air-purifying quality that absorbs toxins – perfect – and it thrives in a variety of light conditions, the stems can grow very long so you’ll need to trim it down once in a while to keep it looking neat. Guess what – irregular watering is ok – yaay! They’re also called devil’s vine or devil’s ivy just because they’re almost impossible to kill.

    English Ivy

    Ivy has a certain elegance about it and its trail can look really beautiful hanging down from the mantel. It also makes a great gift as it can be regrown just from a cutting. This plant also prefers moist soil and its advisable to keep it in cooler rooms in your home.

    The great thing is that with the plethora of indoor plants available on the market it makes for great styling of your interior space, and its always nice to bring the outside in, create that zen in your interior. I’m sure there are many other plants that I haven’t discovered yet, do you have any favourites? Be great to see photos of any in your home, put them into the comments below.

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  • 10 Hints and Tips on How to Survive the Christmas Holidays!

    Now we all love Christmas, its the holiday that virtually everyone has off and even if you don’t celebrate per say there is still a real buzz around it. Now in our house we visit families, enjoy spending time with everyone, eat loads and generally be very very merry (most of the time). Its also a time where you are managing everyone’s expectations for at least 2 whole weeks, if not longer, so here are some hints and tips on being prepared, making the most of and surviving as well as ensuring we’re all still friends at the end of it.

    1. Keep your camera’s handy, whether its on your phone, that hugely expensive DSLR or a Digi camera – The memories you will want to capture can be treasured forever when you’ve got it on camera. Perhaps granddad has fallen asleep and his beard is in the trifle or the toddler is walking around with his newly gifted trousers on his head, be great to make sure you’ve snapped those shots as they happen!
    2. Put a couple of playlists together for the different occasions, we love to dance to Christmas songs whilst decorating the house and I love to have music at the ready for present opening time (as its usually very very early, try 5am!). Adding to that, we sing at the top of our voices, unluckily for our neighbours.
    3. Prepare a Christmas eve box with little games, snacks for Santa and Rudolf, a Christmas movie, Christmas story book, hot chocolate for bedtime or even with the movie, marshmallows to toast, popcorn, Christmas pyjamas or onesie, slippers, a soft toy and of course gingerbread. Those impatient little ones will surely be distracted for a couple of hours and miraculously be soo tired that they don’t insist on waiting up for Santa, here’s hoping! Over the years trends for these have increased so you might want to invest in making one, or even buying one.
    1. For gifting you should ensure you have copious amounts of wrapping paper, tags, bows, wasi tape and of course scissors. I love brown paper wrapping and then jazzing it up with colourful bows and ribbons, I have to say that my toddler doesn’t have the same appreciation. So we generally have lots of different wrapping paper and layer it up so that the tree looks a feast.
    2. Ensure you schedule time out of the house and spend some much needed family time, go for long walks – has the added bonus of burning off all that food, go to your nearest nature trail and enjoy the fresh air, or alternatively have a duvet day and movie marathon!
    3. Have some ‘you’ time, its a very busy period and if you’re like me there is always lots going on so make sure you block out some time and focus on self care. After all, if you’re calm and relaxed then so will everyone and everything around you be.
    1. Plan for 2018; book or block out some time for trips and make sure there are adventures booked into the year, this gives you all something to look forward to as well as breaking up key parts of the year. Its also a nice thing to do as a family.
    2. Have some surprises up your sleeve, whether its an impromptu baking marathon, a trip to see friends or a games day wearing funny costumes, mix it up.
    3. If you’ve got older children then think about a Christmas day treasure hunt so that they have to work out where their presents are, although they might get a little frustrated if they’ve spent ages trying to find them.
    4. Finally, enjoy every minute. Things change so quickly and next year is going to be a whole different ball game so enjoy, laugh lots, eat even more and most importantly make the most of all the time you spend with the people that you care about.

    Do you have any other hints and tips? Anything that I didn’t mention? Hope you have a fantastic festive period and make wonderful memories together!

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  • The Alternative Christmas: Decor the Stylish Way!

    Christmas is one of those times of year that we recognise, that we’re comfortable with and we know what to expect. The Christmas tree is usually always green, although the trend for silver, pink and now blue is on the rise, there is tinsel, an abundance of tree decor front-lined by baubles in every shape, size and colour and then there is that red, associated with the man with the presents!

    But there is also a new trend, where tree’s are upside down, or not actual tree’s at all, decorations are ornaments that could stay out and up all year round and not be out of place, larger than your average light features that are already part of the space, what is this new ideal of Christmas decor? Is it because its easy? or because its stylish? new? trendy?

    Some of these new pieces are just gorgeous, but naturally you really have to look for a gem, so of course we’ve done the hard work for you, here are some of our favourites, what do you think?

    The Christmas Tree:

    This tree by Cox and Cox is the hanging alternative for those short on space or those that want to adopt the clean, minimal, Scandinavian style. All you need is a few decoration pieces, some lights and somewhere to hang this beauty. The great thing is, any new customers get 20% off their first order (remember to look at tree decor, it is lovely!)

    This tree from House of Fraser is the epitome of stylish LED focused Christmas decor, it speaks for itself I think. The great thing is, you don’t even need to take it down once Christmas is over (shhhh).

    What about one for the little ones? This chalkboard tree is one that the children can play with throughout the year, putting it in their room means you’ve got a bit of Christmas all year round!

    Finally, what about this Scandinavian inspired tree? I think I love this one the best, its ethereal and the natural wood  is something that I do connect with on another level. Adding to basket as we speak…!

    Best of the Baubles (in every shape, style and size):

    Wow, there are just so many styles out there, in our house we have a Christmas theme that is different each year. This means I get to search the interweb and the retailers looking for the perfect on theme decorative items every year, which is so so exciting, although it can be so stressful if I don’t find what I’m looking for.

    Just look at these, there are mice, plants, birds, chandelier’s, gold houses, white houses, illuminated letters it goes on and on wherever I look but the best places to look (where I always go first) are Cox and Cox, Graham and Green, Marks and Spencer and Cloudberry Living, take a look at them and tell me what you think. Do you have any others that I’ve not discovered?

    Features around the Home:

    Some of the decoration and styling items that are around now can be used all year, this means stylish, cool, interiors objects, items and art which you can just leave out for all to see all year round. here are some that I just think look perfect;

    These tea light houses are just great to create ambient lighting levels and suit all moods.

    This lamp is a bedside feature that doesn’t need to make an appearance once a year.

    Stars, stars, stars are everywhere and how many alternatives there are! I have always loved stars, so this is just ace for me!

    Santa’s sack has just taken on a whole new and very stylish meaning, this is on my list, when you’re not using them for presents I can tink of many uses for them.

    Do these lights REALLY need to go back into the box? I don’t think so.

    Or….

    …. if you just like the geometry of Christmas decor then take a look at this wallpaper by Graham and Brown, I do just love the colours, forms and materials expressed in its design.

    These gold inlaid marble table tops sing with the same geometry and are just gorgeous, who says Christmas needs to be packed away every year?!

    You do of course always need extra seating so how about this armchair or pouffe, or even this fluffy stool.

    There are so so many items for the home out there that have a slant towards Christmas, yet they aren’t directly linked. Have you seen anything that I might not have found yet? Any decor that you have bought and want to shout about? Be great to hear what your findings are!

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  • First Hygge, now Lagom?

    So first we had the Swedish hygge (pronounced “HUE-gah”) meaning to “enjoy life’s simple pleasures” and now we have lagom (pronounced “LA-gom”) another Swedish word meaning “just the right amount”.

    The Lexin Swedish-English dictionary defines lagom as “enough, sufficient, adequate, just right”. Lagom is also widely translated as “in moderation”, “in balance”, “perfect-simple”, and “suitable”. Taking this meaning literally we can see where the style came from.
    Embed from Getty Images

    Lagom is more about ‘a way of living’ rather than just creating a look, think about what it would take to create a balance between work and play as an overarching concept behind life in general. Wouldn’t you like to create and ‘have’ that balance? I know I would! Do you have any tips? How do you balance work and play? Do we need to ‘make like the swedes’?

    Be great to hear your thoughts! Do you feel like we are quick to embrace other cultures terms and use them to shape our lives?

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  • The Scandinavian Influence

    The ‘Scandi-look’ is what I have requests for from a lot of my clients, they love the style and the feeling it evokes. The pure simplicity of clean lines and pared back elegance makes the space warm and inviting and is usually functional and minimal. The use of muted tones and earthy materials such as wood is a must for Scandinavian inspired homes.

    What properties do you need to instil in your space for this look to work? Here I talk about a few key elements that you should think about changing up for this look to work!

    Wooden floors
    Natural, earthy tones have pride of place in one of these homes, think pale but warm woods but don’t go towards pine (it’s too yellow). It has to be subtle to be Scandi-inspired and fit the look. Nature is celebrated in all its beauty and so wooden floors are always always the preferred option. Add some potted plants to your interior to further infuse nature.

    Materials – add texture and warmth
    There is a strong emphasis on using cotton, wool and linen rather than synthetics where fabrics are used and even this should be kept to a bare minimum. Think about bold, geometric patterns on cushions and rugs; be they chevrons, strips or squares. Flowery just doesn’t cut it in this look. Wood across floors and furniture is still a fixed requirement and you can never have too much!

    Clean lines
    Keep the geometry simple, that isn’t to be read as ‘don’t use curves’ but don’t have busy, fussy lines all over the space. Generally open plan living is the best type of space, this is in keeping with practical multifunctional spaces that can be used by the whole family.

    Colour
    The preference is for white and muted colours, these make the space look generous and keeping walls, cabinetry and other large pieces in the same tonal range make the space appear larger than it is. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use colour; rugs, vases, artwork, cushions and other accessories in bright shades can add character and personality to a space and will actually make them stand out more than if you had a busy, colourful interior as a base already.

    Functional and liveable interior
    The main focus of Scandinavian design is to improve the day to day functionality in daily life and to make life easier for you. So if you have to get inside a cupboard, to get inside a drawer to open the box to get a spoon it’s a completely un-Scandinavian way to live. The open plan model is one that is embraced by Scandinavians and lovers of the style. Make the open plan space work for you and allow you to complete daily tasks with ease so that it is a way of living.

    Furniture
    Strong, bold and clean lines in furniture with a big focus on multifunctional items is Scandinavian. Again wood is the principal material used. There are some iconic mid-century furniture pieces that you can invest in and they lend themselves extremely well to this look. Examples of these include;

    • The Eames Chair, by Charles and Ray Eames
    • The Poet Sofa, by Finn Juhl
    • The Egg Chair, by Arne Jacobsen

    Do you remember seeing any of these? Do you like the look? Some are still available and are very popular, even just as focal pieces for the space.

    Fireplace in the corner of a room
    The cold is big factor in Scandinavian countries and so they always like to have a nice fire, whether that be open or closed. If you don’t have a fireplace or working chimney it’s not a problem, there are some great freestanding fireplaces that have no requirements other than access to power. The key is to have said fireplace offset in the space and not aligned centrally like we do here in Britain, it isn’t meant to be a feature but to keep the space warm and allow functionality around it.

    Merge the inside and outside
    Diffusing the line between inside and outside is so easy to do now, think of those nice, nearly frameless bi-fold doors that you can just open up the space and be instantly outside. I am finding that clients love having that freedom to move into and out of both zones and I try to design with this in mind. Knowing that the weather is unpredictable in the UK means extra precautions have to be put in place for all eventualities, but I think that is part of the fun!

    Declutter and minimise your accessorising of any interior
    Keep your space focused! I have boxes full of nice display items but I could never have it all out cluttering the space up. I regularly curate each of my rooms to make sure there is a different focal point from a piece of artwork on my walls to authentic chopsticks from a trip to Beijing or my original digeridoo bought all the way back from Australia. I do always collect items of interest because I know that they will have their day and be out for all to see. Sometimes though, the hard part is determining what a keeper is and what something to just get rid of is. More on that in another post though. There are also some really lovely inspired pieces out there, you just have to find the right suppliers!

    Light and airy
    Natural light is increased by any means necessary. Windows are generously proportioned. Window treatments, if used at all, are kept sheer or translucent. Mirrors are placed strategically to visually expand the space and reflect any available ambient light. The dominant colour palette is generally a light-reflecting neutral.

    So actually, to completely overhaul what you have in your space currently and adopt a Scandinavian way of living isn’t so hard, in fact it could be the best thing you did, a way of living’ rather than just creating a look. Do you think its something you want to replicate? Will you be taking your space apart? Be great to hear your thoughts.

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  • Being my own Client

    I’m working on a new residential design project, but this project is different. Why is it different you ask? Well firstly it’s for an interior designer (uh-oh) and secondly it’s for my worst critic (me!), this presents me with the biggest problem… How do you work on a creative project when it’s for yourself and you are super fussy and want everything you’ve ever desired creatively to be in it.

    I’m losing the battle before I’ve even started, I’m one of those clients that is a know it all, the ones that you kind of dread because they know everything before you’ve even suggested it!

    So how do you design for yourself? I’ve had to put ground rules in place in order to stop myself from going completely mad trying to do it all to perfection and stop myself from waking up at night in blind panic because I might have forgotten something.

    The first was to introduce a budget that isn’t controlled by me – Mr P begrudgingly agreed to be the client (knowing fully well that he would be the person I would hold fully responsible if I didn’t get what I wanted).

    Secondly I have given myself a very tight timeline and only allow myself to work on the project at set times during the week, otherwise I’d be working on it every hour that God has given me and achieve nothing!

    Lastly I have told myself that I need to make quick and clear decisions otherwise I could be here forever trying to perfect and recreate everything, but I just haven’t the time or the budget… The project goes to site next week! Wish me luck!

    Have you worked on any personal projects recently? Did they go to plan? What tips would you share?

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