Sunday, 21 June 2015

bedtime reading - The Monochrome Home


Just in case you thought I'd lost my monochrome mind with that last post a few weeks ago, let me redress the balance by talking about the most exquisite book by Hilary Robertson which celebrates the joy and art of living without colour. 

Robertson describes the monochrome home as being like a capsule wardrobe:

"...restful timeless and practical. By restricting the colour palette, and number of eclectic elements can exist happily together..." 

She begins by exploring the monochrome palette of black, white, grey and every nuanced shade of each. Each palette is illustrated with gorgeously styled shots of a console table and tabletop vignettes that will have you wanted to run to your nearest paint supplier.


The majority of the book is made up of case studies of thirteen stunning homes, all using different approaches to monochrome schemes. So while the book makes for a cohesive look, there's something for everyone here, from quite stark and minimal, to rustic and full of treasured possessions.

Throughout the book, Robertson gives helpful tips on how to make a monochrome scheme interesting, highlighting the need for contrast and texture She rightly urges you to use black accessories against white walls and vice versa as well as textural textural elements like wood and metal.


This bedroom shot of Norm architect Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen's home is a case in point. Crisp white walls contrast with grey, textural soft furnishings and warm woods. It's incredibly simple yet there is plenty of interest to stop the scheme becoming boring.


This bedroom looks so clean and calm and would actually be easy to replicate in a rented home with white walls. Ikea has a few similar items, Regolit paper shade, Malm or Tyssedal chests of drawers Tjena black boxes, Undredal bed frame, Hampen Rug, Godmorgen mirror and Fejka plant and replace the ceiling hung clothes hanger with a floor standing one like The Turbo, again from Ikea.


This is just one of my favourite kitchens of all time (yes, I have a mental top 10!) The dark wood cabinetry and the use of marble is another great way to add interest to the predominately grey palette and that distressed table leg is just enough to stop everything looking just too perfect. French minimal architect Joseph Dirands Parisien apartment is high end luxe and is one of those places that's great for drooling over but probably not the kind of place many of us will end up living in.


Marie Worsaae's house is a great example of something that's more achievable though. Full of homely touches, simple arrangements and squishy soft furnishings, while some rooms are full of things, others like this bedroom are refreshingly pared back.


Ingeborg Wolf's Copenhagen apartment offers some great inspiration for styling. You could style freestanding shelves in the same way. Note again that the addition of a some wood and metal pieces stops the look from becoming too clinical by adding texture.



Roberson believes there are two main tribes of monochomists, those who like  pure bright whites as a background, the type favoured by Scandinavians and those who like dark and dramatic inky hues as a base. Some like Ingeborg Wolf mix both (her bedroom is pictured above).

While bright and white is clearly easier for renters. Most of us are faced with four blank walls of white, off white or some warmer variation. If you're lucky and painting is an option though, consider going for something like Farrow & Ball's Downpipe, or the even darker Railings and contrasting it with crisp white sheets, black and white photos and a few choice objet.

I love that although the images are clearly the star of the show in this book, there's enough text to make it a good read before it graces your coffee table and even if monochome isn't your thing, this book is essential for any interior design library.

Monochrome Home by Hilary Robertson, photography by Pia Ulin, published by Ryland Peters & Small, £25 available from the RPS website here.



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Sunday, 31 May 2015

colour trend - think pink!

It started with a photo I saw of the Gallery Restaurant at Sketch, designed by India Mahdavi. I decided it was a one off. Then it was a photo of an apartment styled by Pella Hedeby that appeared in the latest issue (18) of Est Magazine. I was sure it was just the contrast I liked though. I started to feel uneasy when I saw the photos of Skye Gingells new restaurant, Spring, at Somerset House featuring Arne Jacobsen and Flemming Lassen's 'Mayor' sofa (which available from Occa Home if you have £5k to spare) but then maybe it was just the shape of it...


By the time I was on the Living Etc West London House Tour and standing in florist Nikki Tibble's living room I couldn't deny it any longer. My name is Anni, I'm a minimalist colour-phobe... and I LIKE PINK. Well, I love this particular shade of dusty-dusky-pale-plaster-pink. Not that it makes it any better. Pink has been my life-long nemesis and here I am lusting after a black and pink wall and that sofa. For so long the only acceptable colour palette to me has been black, white, grey and beige. That went for clothes, furniture and my car. No exceptions. Friends would tell me that one day I might change my mind and those kinds of comments were met with an eye roll and a dismissive wave, so no one is more shocked than me at this rather surprising turn of events.


I still can't see myself wearing pink, but a pink wall? A few pink accents, or if someone wants to buy me that sofa? I wouldn't say no. Pink is actually quite versatile, I've seen it in scandi-minimal spaces as well as more opulent and traditional rooms. It all depends on how you style it and what you put it with. Pink and beige will look soft and feminine, pink and white will look minimal but pair it with black, charcoal grey or navy and it will look edgier. Pink is everywhere right now and it's being touted as a 'new neutral'. Not convinced? Here are a few things currently on my wish list:


1. Knot knitted pouffe, £95 from Habitat
Equally at home in the bedroom or living room, as a spare seat or a place to put your feet up, this wonderfully textured pouffe ticks all the boxes.
2. Nesting Bowl in pink/white, HemmingwayDesign for Royal Doulton, £35 from John Lewis
Designed by Wayne and Geradine Hemmingway, this bowl is more than a nod to fifties style and would make for an cute sweetie bowl, or on a dresser as an accessory tray.
3. The pink Bird by Edward Lear from £17.50 for an extra small unframed print to £120 for an extra large canvas, V&A Print on demand
Lear's birds are adorable and none more so than this pink chap. Thanks to the V&As print on demand service there are a huge combination of size, finishes and framing options available.
4. Vintage wash dusty pink cotton sheets, £35-55 from Heals
If you can't paint your walls, textiles are the next best way to get large blocks of colour into a room. These sheets are good value, but being Heals, there's no compromise on quality.
5. Tea-towel, £2.99 H&M Home
Not sure about going full-on pink? Or maybe you live with someone who hates it, use small accents like this geometric tea-towel to add a hint of pink instead.
6. Bouclé cushion cover, £7.99 H&M Home
Cushions are another great way to add little pops of colour which work especially well if you have a dark sofa.
7. Rose pink dining chair £169 from Rocket St George
This would work really well as a dressing table or desk chair too.
8. Jonah sofa by James Harrison, £549 from Made
A sofa is a serious investment, so make sure you're serious about the colour before you opt for a non-neutral. Having said that, this one is so far near the beige-grey end of the pink spectrum that it almost counts as a neutral anyway. Made have two showrooms so you can test before you buy.
9. Glass bud vase £4.95 (on sale) from West Elm
The shade of this cute little vase is just right. Perfect on it's own or with a couple of stems.
10. Manna Ash matt emulsion paint £35.50 for 2.5l from Fired Earth
If you are allowed to paint your walls, this shade from Fired Earth is the most delicate and dusty of them all. It's available in different formulations, so if walls are out of the question, how about painting a large canvas or customizing some furniture?

Tickled pink yet?

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Thursday, 28 May 2015

house proud

A couple of weeks ago I tweeted a photo of our bedroom with the hashtag #STHouseProud. At the time I didn't know that this wasn't just a Twitter thing, it was effectively a call to be featured in the Home section of the Sunday Times! All the photos I'd seen with the hashtag were of country cottages and rather swish flats, so me being me, I got on my high horse and tweeted that us renters are house proud too. Two days and a couple of emails later and an editor at the Times confirmed that our flat was going to be featured. Given that one of my ambitions is to have a house featured in a magazine, you can imagine I was rather excited. So, last Sunday, our humble little flat was in print, on line, and on Twitter!


I've posted bits of our flat on Instagram and Twitter before, but as I had to take a new set of photos for the Sunday Times I thought I'd do a proper post on our flat. So here's a little tour of our place...

Living room
 
Living room

Blanket box: antique bought by my parents
Coffee table: vintage Ercol from Atomic Antiques in Shoreditch
Copper tray: antique from East of England fair
Skull: antique from Snoopers Paradise in Brighton
White pot: Sia
Metal pot: Ikea
Back sake jug: V&A shop
Plate: hand-painted by me
Swallow printed vase: Mike Moran ceramics in Brighton
Cushions: Liberty sample sale
Floor lamp: Ikea
Metal stool: picked up from a bar closing down
Framed print: Bill Brandt from the V&A exhibition shop years ago
Rug: Dunelm
Sofa: DFS
Frames and ledges: Ikea
Prints: from 'I Like It What Is It?' by Anthony Burrill
Paint: unknown... 'Landlord Neutral?' ha ha
 
Living room

Flying ducks: Inspitalfields
Desk: Ikea (temporary, bought five years ago, still here)
Chair: old church chair, one of a pair given by friends
Drawers and metal box: Ikea
Eames House Bird: Vitra from John Lewis

Living room

Shelving: Ikea
Lamp: Ikea
Print: promotional print for Street Art by V&A Publishing
Candlesticks: made from antique ship nails, gift
Large vase: V&A shop
Camera: my dads old Rollei TLR
Scented candle in silver votive: Ralph Lauren Home
Small vase: hand painted by me

Hall

Stool: Ikea
Plant pot: Ikea
Frame: Ikea
Print: Pigasus, Berlin
 
Bathroom

Print: screen-printed poster we bought at a gig
Frame: Nielsen from Best4Frames
Soap, hand lotion and tray: Scottish Soap Company
Diffuser: The Sanctuary from Boots

Kitchen/diner

Lampshade: Homebase
Storage jars: Ikea
Utensil jar: charity shop
 
Kitchen/diner



Chair: old church chair (see previous)
Teatowel: Hema
Fruit bowl & platter: Villeroy & Boch
Table & benches: Ikea
Fabric (over canvas): Ikea
 
Bedroom

Light: BHS
Fabric (over canvas): Ikea
Right lamp: Ikea
Left lamp: Anglepoise
Bedside units: Conponibili by Kartel from John Lewis
Bedding: Cologne & Cotton
Throw: Ikea


Garden/side return

Garden/main area

Picnic bench & parasol: Homebase
Ciminea: Homebase
Butler sinks: eBay
Pots & plants: Homebase, The Gardening Club, Ikea and some plants from family, most of whom are green fingered
 
Floor plan, not quite to scale

Just 24 hours after being House Proud though, our flat looked like this as the builders came in to re-plaster in every single room. I always wanted a bit of exposed brick, but this isn't quite what I had in mind!

Living room - agh!

Kitchen/diner - double agh!

Once they'd re-plastered though, I decided that bare plaster is rather gorgeous, although I don't fancy my chances of convincing our landlord to leave it like this...
 

After almost two weeks of chaos, it's still dusty, every piece of furniture is still out of place but at least there are no holes in the walls or hanging wires. The builders have gone for now while the plaster dries and will be back to redecorate soon. I hope. For a neat freak like me this is torture. (I didn't tidy for the ST photos, it really does always look like that... apart from moving a few bits around to stye the living room... I realize I must be a nightmare to live with!) I want to clean and I want to put all the furniture back. I know it will be worth it and I know I've been bugging them to do this for over a year, but I can't wait to be house proud again...


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Friday, 22 May 2015

20 ideas renters can steal from these amazing homes

Last week I attended the Living Etc West London House tour. I just missed out on tickets last time so I purchased in plenty of time this year! It's a brilliant concept, nosy interior nerds like me pay £32 (with proceeds going to Crisis) and some lovely homeowners, many of whom have been featured in the magazine, kindly open their doors for us to look around. There were 8 homes on the self guided West London tour and over the course of six hours I managed to get round them all. After purchasing a ticket, you get sent a map, with full addresses and clear directions on how to get between the properties and it was very manageable walking or using public transport, especially since it was a beautiful day.

Aside from the obvious attraction of looking at beautiful interiors all day and the added bonus of chatting with the knowledgeable Living Etc staff, very enthusiastic volunteers and fellow attendees, I was on the look out for inspiration for us renters. We may not own million pound houses (£6.9m in one case!) but we can still get some great ideas from them.

The properties are really varied and it gives you the chance to experience a range of styles of house types and decorating styles, so it's a great way to find out what your own style might be. In my case, I walked in the first house thinking it was my idea of perfection, being all white walls, glass and pristine minimalism. By the end of the day though I'd decided my favourite house was, in fact, the complete opposite. It was bold, dark, floral and colourful and with a lot of pink. Not something I ever thought I say!

Here's what I took away from the tour:

1. Make your bed.
Without exception, every bed on the tour looked inviting. Some were minimal, some were opulent, some had colour and pattern, some were plain. What they all had in common though, was that they brought a focal point to the room and even the addition of a simple throw and two small pillows could elevate a room from plain to stylish. Think about it, in most cases the bed is the largest piece of furniture in a bedroom so if it doesn't look good, neither does the room as a whole. A cozy throw and a couple of pillows is a very inexpensive way to dress your bed. Air your bed in the morning after you get up, throw back the covers and throw open the windows if possible and don't leave the house without making the bed! 


2. A little bit of minimalism goes a long way.
Live in a beige box? Or maybe you just don't have the resources or inclination to put a lot into decorating your room? Instead of thinking of the beige box as something to fix, why not celebrate it instead? Invest in some really good quality linens (my favourite ones are from Cologne & Cotton) a couple of key pieces of furniture, and embrace simplicity. The slim legged table below gives the illusion of more space in the small room, and the small but careful grouping of toiletries just lifts the simple bathroom. The key here is to be very clean, uncluttered and concentrate on quality. It's the difference between minimal and barren.


3. But then so does a lot of maximalism.
This house was the one I surprisingly loved so much. A perfect example of maximalism it has a killer colour palette, clashing patterns, bold prints, large groupings of vases and a lot of florals. But it works. The patterns might clash but the colours don't. The vases are small, but the artwork is huge and that circle of blue in the right hand print just pulls the whole thing together. Cover that print with your hand and see how it changes the look of the room. The console behind the sofa is a great idea to steal. Pop a collection on there, prop up the artwork instead of hanging it, and you have a landlord friendly way to get a real wow factor into your room. I've been obsessing over that exact shade of pink on the walls ever since my visit...


4. You don't have to hang anything.
Floor standing furniture and decoration isn't just the reserve of renters. These three rooms employ clever placements to avoid damaging walls. The first room had simple frames clamped to the headboard, the middle home used black bamboo ladders in the bathroom for towels and a striking green one to hold scarves in the bedroom. The third house had a couple of floor standing gold mirrors in one bedroom, and a giant thick wood framed one in another. All of these ideas give height and interest to a room without the need for hammer and nails.


5. Make every room count, even the bathroom.
Even the smallest room can benefit from some attention to detail. The first room below contrasts an old wooden stool against the modern tiles and celebrates the ritual of bathing by elevating luxury bath products on tall candle pillars. Flowers and a tray do the same job in the more classic, marbled middle bathroom and the third uses a large sculpture to add texture and interest to an otherwise sleek and quite hard scheme.


6. Be bold.
This house isn't backward in coming forward. The owner loves flowers so they're everywhere. In vases, on the wallpaper, on the artwork and on the furniture. If you love a particular colour, pattern or motif, don't be afraid to really go for it in every room. The colour palette of blacks, inky blues, pinks and purples that run through this house is what keeps the whole scheme together.


7. Be clever with lighting.
If you're stuck with your fixed lighting in the wrong place, use freestanding floor lamps to direct light to where you need it. The leaning Manana lamp in the first photo has the same effect as wall mounted sconces and the wide, high arc of the one in the second is great for seating and dining areas. See John Lewis for similar or Ikea for a more budget friendly option.


8. Put flowers everywhere.
OK, so all the houses were somewhat staged for us visitors, but I couldn't help but notice what a huge difference fresh flowers made. Hydrangeas were a popular choice, and because of their size, just three stems made a lot of impact. Flowers weren't reserved just for living areas though, they were everywhere. In bedrooms, kitchens and especially bathrooms. Small bunches or a few choice stems don't cost a lot, or for longevity group several orchids in a large planter and enjoy the blooms for weeks at a time.


9. Use the rule of threes.
Things displayed in threes, or fives, or sevens, are more visually pleasing than displays in even numbers. Almost every house on the tour had groupings displayed in threes. Jugs, cacti, toiletries, pictures... once you try it, you'll never look back.


10. Celebrate your collection.
Whatever you love, show it off. From your prized designer handbags and purses to your ceramic collection, put them out on show instead of hiding in a cupboard. These Constance Spry vases have real impact when shown en-mass and if you've paid for a good bag why stick it in the cupboard when you're not using it? Likewise your favourite blankets or clothes could be stored in a basket instead of a drawer.


11. Mixing woods is good.
Don't make everything too matchy-matchy. Mix up your pale woods with painted and different shades of wood for contrast. These chairs all match but of course, they don't all have to be the same. I have some Ikea benches paired with some old church chairs, the juxtaposition is what makes it work.


12. Put candles everywhere.
Like flowers, scented candles were everywhere on the house tour. From giant Jo Malone triple wicked ones, to this striking black Diptyque one. They were in every room too, the one below for example was in a teenage boys room. There are plenty of cheaper options on the market of course, they main thing is to find something you like to fill your home with a comforting scent. Just remember to never leave burning candles unattended.


13. Play with scale.
This house had large scale floral wallpaper, an oversize floor lamp and a lot of the artwork wasn't just big, it was HUGE. Most people might hand a gallery style arrangement up the stairs for example, but this homeowner had metre and a half portraits of her dogs hung there instead. Large artwork is actually better for renters, it's easy to prop on the floor or on a mantle. Sometimes bigger really is better. The wallpaper is Dark Floral by Ellie Cashman, The French Bedroom Company sell a similar lamp, try PhotoBox for a reasonably priced hardback poster print on a large scale.


14. You don't need dedicated garden furniture.
Don't have the budget or storage space for dedicated outdoor furniture? Just buy indoor pieces that can be taken outside when the weather is good. These polypropylene stacking chairs by Robin Day for Hille are both space saving and versatile. They are available from TwentyTwentyOne. Likewise, the Louis Ghost chair by Phillipe Stark for Kartell is at home in the garden as in the house. Again, Ikea is a good source for low priced options.


15. Colour isn't just for walls.
Love colour but can't paint? Use furniture, bright cushions and artwork to add pops of colour to an otherwise neutral room. These are Arne Jacobsen Series 7 chairs for Fritz Hansen available at Heals. Try John Lewis for a similar Marilyn Monroe print and Ikea for bright orange cushions.


16. But you can put colour on the walls if you want.
Don't let restrictions on decorating stop you from getting colour on your walls. Roughly paint a large canvas and prop on a piece of furniture or on the floor. You could also use a non permanent adhesive like 3M Command Strips if you really want to affix a light canvas to the wall.


17. Buy nice towels.
A bit of luxury goes a long way and a bale of good quality towels needn't break the bank. Cologne & Cotton have some well priced grey towels like this. Look after them well and they will stay fluffy and soft for years, as well as adding some hotel-chic to your smallest room.


18. Go large.
If you don't have a garden, take inspiration from the house in the first and third photos below and plant up some architectural specimens in oversize containers. These ones are from Vondom but try here for a budget version. If you do have a garden, group large terracotta containers together on a paved area to bring greenery in. Large trees or shrubs work equally as well as smaller flowering plants in this situation. Unglazed terracotta pots are a more budget friendly choice at this scale, but be sure they are frost proof. Try Homebase, or your local garden centre for large pots.

 

19. Never underestimate the power of a coffee table.
A well styled and practical coffee table really makes a living room. From large square ones, to groups in different materials, to a glass one which shows off the rug underneath, having somewhere to park your cup of tea, your favourite books or a bunch of flowers makes all the difference. It doesn't have to be a designer one, Ikea have an excellent selection or check your local FreeCycle group or charity shop for old or vintage ones.


20. Your furniture doesn't have to point at the TV.
It's all too easy to make your TV the focal point of your living room. In this  relaxed, but formally arranged room, the cocktail chairs face a sofa and the TV is tucked away in the corner. Of course, it's easy when you have a fireplace to have as the focal point instead, but you could just as easily use a sideboard or table and style it with some books, flowers and artwork instead. If your living room layout isn't working, try re-arranging without the need for the TV to be the centerpiece and see if it works any better.


If you're feeling inspired, there is one tour left this year's schedule in North West London on the 12th June, click here to buy tickets. If you can't make it, don't worry, the tours are an annual event and will be back in 2016, I'll certainly be going again! Alternatively, one of the houses is featured in this months issue of the magazine, which is also packed with more ideas for your home, as is the blog run by the magazine team, Life.Style.Etc.

Many thanks to Living Etc for permission to photograph on the tour and to the homeowners who were so generous in opening up their homes.


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Sunday, 10 May 2015

10 essential Ikea basics

I don't need to tell you how brilliant Ikea is for a well priced piece of home ware. It's a great place for grabbing a few essentials that will serve you well, wherever your rented home is and whatever the size. The trick, at least as far as the basics are concerned, is to try to stick to simple neutrals that will fit in with whatever decor you find yourself with. Not only will they work with what you have now, they are also likely to work with whatever you have next. If you want colour and pattern, you can add them as accents, a bright light shade or a patterned cushion are easier to work with than a bold rug for example and easier to store away or swap out if they end up clashing too much. Of course, if you like a bit of scandi-minimalism, this selection of essentials is probably already right up your street.

All but one of these renter essentials is under £50 and all of them will stand you in good stead for a number of years.



1. Ranarp work lamp £40
A slightly industrial lamp that wouldn't be out of place in a more classic space either. Great as a bedside lamp, task light or as additional lighting in the living room. Lighting plays such an important part in the way a room feels and can be a really inexpensive way to make a room feel warmer and more homely.

2. Kvarnvik storage box in grey £6
A few good looking storage boxes go a long way and the fabric cover on these mean they look more homey and less like they belong in an office. Perfect for storing CDs, paperwork, clothing or accessories, they work in all rooms.  

3. Billy bookcase in grey £45
A version of one of Ikea's bookcases has been a staple in all my homes, rented or otherwise. You can bet that even in a furnished place there's not enough storage and a shallow set of shelves like the Billy system is easy to fit in almost anywhere. It comes in many finishes so you're bound to find one that fits your taste. I like the introduction of the coloured backs and if you want something more zingy, this version also come in yellow.

4. Råskog trolley in grey £50
This truly versatile piece can be used as a kitchen trolley, for bathroom storage, for kids art supplies or even as a bedside table, so wherever you move it's sure to prove a useful investment. Also available in turquoise or cream.

5. Nipprig room divider £39
Available soon, this is a brand new piece and I'm eagerly awaiting it's arrival in store.This screen is really useful if you live in a studio to screen off a sleeping area, and equally useful as a more general tool for hiding unsightly areas. We don't have a large cupboard for things like the hoover and mop so I'll be using this in the hallway to hide all the cleaning bits and bobs! The problem with a lot of screens, is that they are as ugly as the stuff you want to hind, bit this more minimal one is perfect.

6. Osted rug £55
Never underestimate the power of a rug to transform a room. Not only do they make a room feel more inviting, they are essential if you have wooden floors to help soften the space ad provide some warmth in underfoot in the colder months. The rug is a renters best friend, helping to hide your landlords dubious choice of carpet and helping to protect your deposit too. This super large rug will cover a huge area of most rooms and if you spill, it's only your (inexpensive) rug that suffers, not the more expensive fitted carpet underneath. Neutral rugs are a good choice as whatever decor you're faced with, it will fit right in.

7. Lappljung Ruta cushion £9
Whether the sofa you lounge on is yours or your landlords, a couple of stylish, comfy cushions will help to make the living room feel more like home. Choose plain ones on a patterned sofa or opt for patterns and colours to lift a plain one. A few cushions on the bed will also make a good finishing touch. Ikea have a huge range of styles, from scandi-modern, to country cottage and the covers are interchangeable, so if they don't fit in your new place, swap them out for new ones, or change them around between rooms.

8. Åstorp lamp base £21
Lighting is so important I'm including two lamps in this round-up. A good floor lamp casts a much more flattering light than an overhead source, and sockets permitting, mean you have your light source where you need it the most. This slim legged design won't make your room feel crowded and you can choose a shade to suit your decor. Again, plain and neutral may be best for versatility, but a bright, bold or patterned shade is also a great way to inject some personality into your room.

9. Stave mirror £20
This slim line mirror is not only a bargain, but it will fit into the smallest of spaces. It's tall enough to lean on the floor, so no fixing required and could stand in a hallway, bedroom or bathroom. 

10. Merete Curtains £35
Having your own curtains are a must in any rental. It's rare that the ones that come with your flat will be either nice or sufficient to your needs. It might be best to opt for black out curtains in your bedroom, but you can afford to get away with unlined ones in other areas, which offer a balance between light and privacy. In rented homes, curtains are often mean in size and cheap looking. Go for floor length curtains even on smaller windows to help give a room a sense of drama and scale. These ones are easy to hang and when you move out, just pop your old ones back up and take yours with you. For super large windows, use two sets. I had to do this to cover the bay window in our living room, more (fabric) is always better as far as curtains go. 



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Sunday, 3 May 2015

weekend craft - patterned canvas

Who doesn't love a three day weekend? I was feeling a bit creative this bank holiday, and given that I've been sorting out the flat over the last few weeks, I thought it was time to pay some attention to the artwork on our walls. Some areas I'm happy with, others I'm either bored with or have just never finished. You know those three black canvasses above our bed? After four years, they finally have something on them! A couple of years ago I did a tutorial for covering some plain canvasses as part of the V&As fabric craft challenge and I thought it was a good way to finish those bedroom canvasses and update the painting in the kitchen that I really went off of a long time ago. I could have painted all of them but to be honest I wanted a quick fix and I couldn't decide what to paint on them anyway. It's also a good substitute for renters if you want to introduce some pattern but can't wallpaper. So, earlier this week I took a quick trip to Ikea and picked out a few metres of very reasonably priced fabric.


On the left I chose 1.5m of Stockholm in beige for £7 per metre and on the right I got a metre of Trådklöver for £6.

Ikea have a great range of fabrics and there's plenty of choice if you want to go for a bit of colour too. The fabrics I chose are fairly heavyweight and excellent quality considering I got everything for under £17. I got more than I knew I would need of the Stockholm pattern as I was covering a fairly large canvas and I wanted the option to pick out part of the pattern without having any of the beige background showing. I chose the other pattern because I wanted each of the three canvasses to look different and this one gave me the option of having some of the white space showing.

The whole project was so easy and took no more than an hour and a half. Even though you're stretching the fabric over the frame, I recommend ironing it on the reverse before you start, especially if you're using heavyweight fabric. I loosely wrapped the fabric around the large canvas to get the pattern lined up in the way I wanted before tacking it in place on the reverse using thumb tacks. You could use a heavy duty stapler, but I don't have one and anyway, thumb tacks are easier to remove if you need to make adjustments as you go. Once the fabric was in place, I trimmed off the excess and tightened and pinned it all in place. I found a hammer was useful, especially to get the pins in properly on the corners where you have to push through several layers of fabric.

Here's the before and after, a great improvement I think!


I love how the fabric kind of resembles a street map and by taking only the middle of the pattern, it's more abstract and less obviously a leaf pattern. Remember that if you are covering an existing painting, you'll need a heavyweight fabric in a darker colour to stop the pattern underneath from showing through. It also covers the texture of the original piece, something that would have also been harder to cover with painting alone.

The three bedroom canvasses were already white so there was no need to worry about those things. The pattern placement was a bit more random though, as there wasn't much room for manoeuvre once I'd laid them out on the fabric.


I decided I wanted to middle canvas to have an all over pattern, so  placed that one first then worked out where the other two could fit while still leaving enough fabric to wrap round and pin in place (these are deeper frames) before cutting the pieces out. Here's the back of one of them to show you how they are attached.


So easy! Here's the before and after. I decided the cushions were too much with the pattern on the wall as well so I just reversed them to plain black.


If you fancy giving this project a go, you can pick up very reasonably priced canvasses from places like Hobbycraft. You can currently get three of the 40x40cm ones I used in the bedroom on offer for the bargain price of £10 at the moment and you can see their full range here.

I've also rounded up 10 really great fabrics that would be perfect for this type of project, all prices are per metre.


1. 'Mayrose D' £22.50 from Liberty A bold floral that's not too bright or overly fussy.
2. 'Majken' in grey and orange £6 from Ikea Perfect for kitchens and dining spaces.
3. 'Pavillin' in mustard £54 from Mini Moderns Also great for kitchens or any mid century inspired scheme.
4. 'Nazca' in Indian Blue £16 from John Lewis Great if you like a more boho look.
5. 'Kuuskajasakri' by Marimekko £46 at Skandium A pattern that will look more like a painting than a pattern.
6. 'Susanna Tana lawn' in pink £22.50 from Liberty Bold but feminine, this would be great in a bedroom.
7. 'Ramga' in green £14 from Fabrics Galore Great if you don't like florals and want something a bit more urban.
8. 'Trådklöver' in hearts £7 from Ikea A good choice for a kids room.
9. 'Dandelion Clocks' by Sanderson in blue and green £39 from John Lewis A total classic for modern or traditional living rooms.
10. 'Jurmo' by Marimekko £39 at Skandium A calming print that works either way up.

Let me know if you give this a go yourself!


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