Since I moved into my house last May I've spent almost all my free time on making it look how I want it to (which when working 11 hours a day lately hasn't left much time for blog posts, apologies...) It will never be "done", because my interior style is always evolving, but it's at a point where I feel really happy with it and thought I would share what I have done.
I'm lucky in that it was only 3 years old when I bought it so it's in great condition and didn't need any work (just how I like it because I am not at one with DIY). That said, the first thing I did, just as when I moved into my flat 2 years previously, was paint over the magnolia with blissful white (I have a passionate hatred for magnolia paint). I even used the same painter just in case he had got over his snow blindness from last time (when I called him he quipped, "Bright colour this time is it?") Both times I chose Dulux matt in White Cotton. It's ever so slightly off-white to avoid that stark finish, but it's still definitely white rather than cream.
The downstairs floor of my house already had Amtico flooring in place, which luckily was a really nice shade. However, upstairs was covered in a gross yellowish carpet, so the second thing I did was to put the same shade of Amtico upstairs as well. I just can't stand carpet, plus wooden-look flooring is so much more practical, especially since I knew I'd be getting a cat. It also created the perfect blank canvas for my furniture. I always knew I'd get a wooden floor when I could (I wasn't allowed to in my flat), so I deliberately invested in white furniture to avoid clashes of different woods.
Downstairs, I've kept much of my furniture from the flat, including my IKEA leather sofa and French Connection suede cushions, which I still love, as well as my absolute favourite thing ever: my IKEA cowhide rug. I did swap out my white IKEA Billy bookshelf for a black Habitat leaning shelf which I definitely prefer, and spent months rearranging the items on it (finally super happy with it!) I left behind my two IKEA picture shelves in the flat, so decided to put the same ones up above my dining table again, which is the perfect place to display my favourite line drawing my by talented graphic designer sister.
Upstairs there was more to do, especially in the spare room as it's much bigger than my previous spare room, so I knew I wanted to invest in a desk to make working from home easier (I hate using a laptop on the sofa). I initially planned to have one single desk/dressing table, and bought a sleek John Lewis version. At the same time, however, I decided my desk needed a new iMac (oops) and quickly realised there definitely wasn't enough room for that, a mirror and my make-up. So I ended up buying another desk from IKEA and using the first one as just my dressing table, which worked perfectly once I rejigged the room layout a bit. I initially struggled with finding a dressing table mirror that wasn't too girly, but then I found this Moebe one from Trouva, which is just perfect. I also bought some IKEA drawer inserts to organise my make-up. Meanwhile I hung a MADE.com memo board above my desk and used one of my favourite H&M wire trays for my documents and notebooks. I'm still not 100% happy with the desk styling to be honest; it somehow looks too busy but also too stark. I think it needs more natural textures and maybe a different lamp. Watch this space...
Meanwhile in the main bedroom there wasn't much to do since most of the space is taken up by large inbuilt wardrobes, but there was just enough room for a rattan chair from IKEA and a huge fiddle leaf fig plant, which has become one of my favourites. In the hallway I simply topped an IKEA bar stool with a cast-iron plant, and hung a print from Fy on the wall. I haven't included pictures of the bathroom as there are no windows so it's hard to get a good photo, but it's all smooth taupe tiling which I love, so happily nothing to do in there (here's a pic from Insta). I simply added a large IKEA mirrored cabinet to store all my beauty products.
Thought I would share with you some of the things I am currently loving. As my friends will know, I'm perennially drawn to home comforts over extravagant outings, so it won't be surprising to hear that this January (and in my birthday week no less) I am all about cosy knitwear, luxurious scents, excellent podcasts and a decadent tipple or two (no dry January here).
If you follow me on Instagram you will no doubt have noticed my obsession with this Antipodean stationery brand, and its impeccably stylish founder Beck Wadworth (100% worth a follow). This 2019 diary is everything I adore in one item: stylish, minimal, organised and monogrammed. It is absolutely worth paying the ~£12 postage from Australia, and I am ordinarily someone who abhors paying for postage. I am relishing committing my goals for the year to pen and paper and especially love the section which allows you to note your favourite moments of the year as you go through.
This oversized luscious woollen jumper was my favourite impromptu sales purchase courtesy of the best knitwear purveyor on the high street - seriously, if you are in the market for beautiful quality knits at incredibly reasonable prices, do not look elsewhere. This exact beauty is no longer available online, but I recommend this one instead.
The older I get the less I can tolerate knock-off cheap spirits and the more I gravitate towards beautiful bottles encasing high quality liqueurs. Edinburgh Gin absolutely hits both criteria for me, and I am very lucky to have been gifted both the fragrant Pomegranate & Rose and the luscious Plum & Vanilla (I also recommend Rhubarb & Ginger). Just add a dash to a glass of prosecco (or champagne if you are less basic than me...)
I gifted myself this set of mini perfumes for Christmas after being obsessed with Le Labo candles (and packaging) ever since I bought myself one as a souvenir from my trip to New York 3 years ago. I still maintain it was the perfect memento, emblazoned as it is with my name, the date and site of its purchase. I've been wanting to try one of their perfumes for ages but don't live near a stockist, and given the not insignificant price tags I didn't want to jump into a blind purchase. This set of five 1.5ml minis is the perfect way (as its name indicates) to discover the scents. It costs a mere £20 and the Le Labo site offers free delivery. I love the scents even more than I thought I would; my absolute favourite is Rose 31 (no surprise there since I'm obsessed with rose, but its deep smokiness is no ordinary floral), but Thé Noir 29 comes a very close second (rich, leathery and sensuous).
I almost never buy full-sized beauty products outright; I maintain that it's always a risk, no matter how many glowing reviews and personal recommendations a product may have received. Beauty, in particular skincare, is so personal to your skin, and the good quality products often eye-wateringly expensive, that in the rare times I have handed over £50 for a beauty product without first trialling it, I have almost always been disappointed and felt cheated. That's why I am such a huge fan of beauty advent calendars (incidentally the John Lewis one this year was AMAZING), free samples included in orders from the likes of Space NK and FeelUnique, and in particular the "spend x amount and receive a beauty box" deals. I do, admittedly, amass so many hundreds of mini samples that I often fail to even try them all out (but my friends and family sometimes benefit from the surplus!) However, I have discovered many a beauty love this way, of which Sarah Chapman's overnight facial serum is one. That's why when I found this reduced in the Space NK sale on Boxing Day I knew it was no false economy to snap it up.
Some might say that a £30 hair towel is essentially a gimmick, and admittedly you can get cheaper versions. But I adore this one: it ties up neatly and without fuss, keeping wet hair out of sight and mind, and reducing drying time and therefore hairdryer damage. I was bereft to discover I had left mine in our first hotel in Bali in November (along with about three other things, well done Anna), so I've just treated myself to a replacement.
I can't get enough of shiny, sculptural earrings at the moment, and these beauties from Mango are my current absolute favourites. These exact ones appear to no longer be available, but they have a staggeringly good selection of alternatives (these are particularly high on my wish list).
Not photographable, but very much an obsession at the moment. I am very late to this wonderful podcast, the brainchild of journalists Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes, who discuss culture, feminism, fashion, news, TV, literature and everything in between in an intelligent, eloquent and incredibly thought-provoking way. I've binged about 50 episodes in the space of two weeks (I don't do things by halves!)
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Part last-minute Christmas shopping ideas, part items I'm hoping will go into the sales, it's safe to say I wouldn't mind finding any of the goodies on this December wish list under my tree. If you do still have gifts left to buy (um, definitely not me), you can't go wrong with a classic coffee liqueur (delivered next day with Amazon Prime), a chic pair of earrings (these beauts from Whistles are already reduced!) or a decadent lingerie set. As for the sales, do what I do every year and head straight to your local Space NK on Boxing Day; their in-store sales far surpass online and if you're lucky you'll find one or more of these beauty sets for half price.
I had wanted a Byredo perfume for a while and when I visited my friend Lilly in Dubai last year and smelled this one on her dressing table, I shamelessly copied her and bought it for myself as a housewarming present earlier this year. It's a very timeless scent, a little fresh, a little sultry and a little floral: in short, nobody could not like this. I already want to buy another one (Rose of No Man's Land is next on my list) but given that they're not cheap, maybe that's one for the Christmas list...
Charlotte Tilbury Bar of Gold / no longer available but trio palette £49
My sister gave me this for Christmas last year (that's how long it's been since I did one of these posts!) but actually it's the perfect summer highlighter. Personally with my pale skin I prefer to use cooler pink toned highlighters in the winter months, switching to warm bronzes and golds when the weather heats up. This is an incredibly highly pigmented powder, and catches the sun like nothing else I've tried. I'm eking out as much use of this as I can before autumn truly takes hold and I go back to cooler tones. (Did not realise until I wrote this that it was apparently limited edition so no longer available, but it now comes in a trio palette).
This is a cult product for a reason. As soon as Glossier started doing UK shipping I added it to my basket and I've since bought four more. The shade Blond is perfect for me and it coats brow hairs without looking unnatural, and keeps them well and truly in place. Buy now: you won't regret it.
So many body scrubs are pretty half-hearted, I find. You need a true salt scrub to really slough off dead skin and leave your limbs silky smooth. This L:A Bruket scrub is not the cheapest, but trust me, it is the absolute bomb. Rough salt crystals combined with almond oil will leave you with the most baby soft skin you've ever had. All their scents are amazing but this wild rose one is particularly heavenly and contains real rose petals, making bath time with this baby an absolute indulgence.
You know I love my Diptyques, but I've been having a bit of a love affair with Jo Malone recently after discovering this divine candle. It's quite possibly a contender for my favourite scent ever: slightly masculine, reminding you of a brisk beach walk on a crisp autumn day. I can't describe it in a way that does it justice, so please go and smell it for yourself. You'll be converted immediately. I also have the cologne of the same scent and I'm obsessed.
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Sorry for the radio silence - I moved house a couple of months ago and that along with getting a kitten shortly afterwards, plus work being hectic, has meant little time for anything blog-wise lately (check my Instagram for plenty of kitten spam though!) Anyway, I wanted to break the drought to share my tips on styling a desk. I didn't have room for a desk in my flat, which meant that whenever I had to work from home it was just a laptop on the sofa, which is never terribly inspiring. I'm a huge believer in your work environment having a massive impact on your productivity, so I was determined to turn my new desk into the perfect spot to inspire lots of hard work (and hopefully more writing!)
These photos are not the finished product because I've actually decided this desk is too small, so I plan to replace it with a bigger one and use this as a dressing table instead (it's supposed to be either anyway - see it here). I invested in an iMac, which I love, but which means more space is needed... But I'm happy with the styling and will probably just replicate it on the new desk. The only other thing I plan to add is this Made.com memo board, which is waiting until I get the new desk to confirm its position on the wall.
First up: what do you need to have on your desk? Keyboard and mouse if you have a desktop (which if you're an Apple user are mercifully beautiful, and small), or a laptop stand, or maybe a tablet holder? Think about the technology you will actually be using here and invest in some sleek accessories. If you're using a laptop, I would recommend buying a stand like this one. Speakers are also a must (tinny laptop sound is never inspiring). I love my UE Boom 2, which I carry around the house with me and connect up to either my phone, iPad or iMac, depending on what I'm using. I also consider a good notebook or organiser a must-have. Right now I mainly use my Sadler Jones daily planner, as I love a good to-do list. I also keep my favourite Muji pens in a marble pot so they're close at hand.
It took me a while to decide which chair I wanted, and I eventually settled on Made's Davos chair (no longer available, but IKEA has a similar option). It has the bonus of being a similar style to my beloved Vitra Eames DSR chair, but with the added (and crucial) benefit of an adjustable swivel. It's important to have a desk chair with adjustable height options to avoid bad posture (FYI the top of your screen should be at eye level and your forearms parallel to your desk). I topped mine with a long-haired sheepskin for added cosiness. To accompany my chair, I always need a footstool of some sort as I have bad knees and can't have them bent for too long. I've ordered H&M's wool pouffe so fingers crossed that looks good in the space.