Sunday, 9 March 2014

bed time reading - Home For Now

At last, UK based interiors book that's relevant to renters! I could barely contain my excitement when I first heard about this book last year, and now here it is (well almost, it's published in April) Written by stylist, writer and fellow E17 resident Joanna Thornhill it focuses on rented and first time buyer homes. Joanna's idea is that if you are renting and can't make major changes, or if you've just bought your first home and don't have spare cash for expensive re-fits and decorating projects it shouldn't mean living in a space that you don't absolutely love. I'd extend this to cover anyone who likes crafting and adding a really individual element to their home and most other home owners too given that in the current economic climate home decoration can seem like an unnecessary luxury. 

One of my favourite elements of the book are the 'Renters Alternatives' listed on little tear sheets at the side of of the projects, offering a rental friendly version of the look. In fact, the whole production of the book is spot on (Cico Books are so good at this, right down to the paper stock!) Even though Joanna has just bought her first house, don't doubt her rental credentials, she's called 12 rented properties home before making the leap onto the property ladder!

The book is broken down into chapters by room type (including gardens, home office and craft spaces) featuring real-life homes and a project at the end of each chapter. The overall look of the homes featured fall firmly into the 'vintage/eclectic/colourful' category, but even if like me, you're more of a minimalist with a thing for neutrals, there are plenty of great ideas to steal and as you'd expect, the styling is impeccable. There is an abundance of great ideas for re-purposing old furniture and projects to adapt pieces for different uses, even if the furniture belongs to your landlord. These two rooms are fairly representative of the types of rooms featured, showcasing how a mix of furniture and objects can be pulled together to create a coherent room:

One of my favourite syling/storage tips in the book is this 'temporary DJ station' which stores lesser played records inside the case, while allowing easy access to frequently played ones. The gnome used as a headphone stand is both practical and adds a quirky, slightly kitsch touch to the collection of objects.

As someone who loves wallpaper and isn't allowed to hang any (in a conventional way in any case!) I love this simple idea of hanging a drop from a clothes hanger. Not only do you get to take it with you or move it whenever you fancy, you can afford to splash out on a slightly more expensive pattern. Joanna also suggests asking friends if they have any offcuts or sharing the cost of a more expensive roll with someone else who also likes the idea. What a great way to get some colour and pattern into your rented home!

Some of my favourite ideas in the book though are from the chapter on kitchens. Kitchens can be a nightmare, given that it's a big expensive deal to replace them, or do anything with them at all if you rent! This chapter covers everything from adding free-standing furniture to address a shortage of storage space (or an awkward gap!) to customizing units (taking off ugly doors is something even a renter can do as long as you replace them when you leave) to disguising washing machines and boilers. What Joanna proves time and again is that when you have restrictions on your budget or in your tenancy agreement, being creative and thinking outside the box can often give more interesting results than big budget projects.

All too often people put up with the state of their outside space for the same reason, it's a big project to undertake and looks like it can cost a lot of money, but Joanna encourages us to think about it like we would any other space in our homes by "changing what you can, covering what you can't and adding your own personal touches wherever possible". This chapter offers a lot of styling inspiration so even if you don't end up making lots of long term changes, you can make the most of your outside space as and when the weather allows.

I for one will be putting more than a couple of these ideas and projects into my home and I've been inspired to do a bit of a re-style to update my place! I hope you've enjoyed this sneak peek and keep your eyes peeled for a forthcoming feature on Joanna and a chance to win a copy of the book in a future post. 

"Home For Now' by Joanna Thornhill will be published by Cico Books on April 10th 2014 for £16.99  

With thanks to Cico books for the review copy and press images.

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  1. Again, here you can play with picture frames and wall decorations and furniture but reality sometimes can be worse.. I can't remove any furniture (not even awful vertical blinds that I took off and the agency send a letter I need to put them back!-how they know!) In contract stated that I can't hang picture frames unless I repaint the apartment at the end -pricey!! All i have to play with decorations that can't be hung.. with existing glass cheap argos£10 tables and lamps! (No where to hide) so the books are great.. for apartments unfurnished and and most likely private landlord.. any new furnished flats/houses rented va agency -the books I guess are useless!
    ps. Love your blog!

  2. Thank you! It's so encouraging to have a comment like that!

    I think there are still options, I have a print that's spray mounted to foam mount board so it's light enough to hang using Command strips. No holes and easy to remove! I also have a huge mirror propped on the floor in our bedroom and some big framed prints just propped on the floor because I'd need industrial fixtures to hang them. I agree you are more limited by having stuff you can't get rid of, but it's not a totally lost cause!