Choosing art work for your home

I think there are two issues that make it so hard for us all to get art work up on our walls; figuring out what we like and then having the confidence to show everyone else what we like. A couple of months ago I was very lucky to be invited down to the south coast for the day to visit the headquarters of King & McGaw who produce a huge range of affordable art work and rare and limited prints that they sell online as well as being the leading supplier of many of the greatest galleries and museums across the world. They also collaborate with artists and even host a local artist in their studio space – these guys really love and know good art. When we met the founder of the company, Gyr King, he said something that really stuck with me, which was that if people go out and buy a piece of art it’s quite likely that they will walk away with it under their arm facing in so that no one else passing them on the street can see it. Choosing art work can feel so very personal and there’s almost a sense of embarrassment about sharing those choices with others and therefore I think it puts people off altogether. I want to try and give some advice today to help you choose art work that will work best in your home and hopefully if you feel more confident in your choices you will be more willing to actually getting it up on the walls for all to see!

Feel a connection

Irises in the Garden by Van Gogh. Framed and printed by King & McGaw. I chose this print because it reminds me of a garden of a holiday home where we used to go as children.

The first thing I would say about choosing art work is you need to feel a connection to a piece. Maybe it reminds you of something, someone, somewhere. Maybe it makes you think about a certain time or event. Maybe it transports you back to a special holiday. It could be that the artist is local to you or even the name of the painting has special meaning to you. Whatever it is, try to find a connection with a piece of art work and it will mean so much more to you and you will be much happier to give it pride of place at home. When people come round and ask you about it you can give the back story as to why you chose it rather than having nothing to say when they ask you about it. I chose Irises in the Garden by Van Gogh as it reminds me of a garden where we used to stay for holidays when I was a child. I would really love to add this Van Gogh print (that used to hang in our family friend’s kitchen and so reminds me of happy times we spent there) as well as a couple of others to make this big blank wall on our first floor landing a real feature.

I look forward to adding more prints to this big blank wall on our first floor landing.

Find inspiration

Portrait of Ann by L.S. Lowry. Framed and printed by King & McGaw. This print always reminds me of my lovely friend, Katharine, as she has always had the postcard framed on her wall and my mum also has the print.

A really good way to start figuring out what type of art work you like is to look at images of interiors that you like either in magazines, on Pinterest, Instagram or on blogs. Hone in on the art work they have on the walls and try to pick out which pieces you prefer – are they abstract, modern, vintage, impressionistic, landscapes, florals etc? Maybe they have something in common like the colour or theme? Keep a record of the pieces you like so you can refer back to it and it will help you search for art work in the future using the key terms you have come up with. I have realised that I absolutely love portraits and seem to have built up quite a collection of them. The Portrait of Ann by L.S. Lowry is one of my favourite portraits as I have seen it so often in my friend’s home and my mum’s home so it almost feels like Ann is a friend too! Therefore, I always use the key term ‘portraits’ whenever I search for art work. I love this portrait and want to add it to my collection next.

Try something new

Vogue December 1968 photographed by Cecil Beaton framed and printed by King & McGaw. I chose this print because it was something a bit different to the other art work I have at home.

Don’t be afraid to experiment when choosing art work and try something new. Whilst at King & McGaw, Gyr King spoke about his love of abstract art and how he never gets bored of looking at it and exploring what is going on in the painting. I’ve never owned any abstract art work and I’m not really sure it is my style, which is fine, even though I can really appreciate it in other people’s homes, but I came across this Vogue photograph by Cecil Beaton and I really love it and see it as an abstract piece. Yes, I love the colours and composition but I also love the fact that I look at it and every time I do I try to figure out what is going on just like I would for an abstract painting or print. It has already stopped quite a few of my friends in their tracks who have asked about it (Mimi also loves it because she thinks the woman is Elsa from Frozen because of her dress – lols).

Colour

The colour in my Irises print works perfectly with the Inchyra blue woodwork in my hallway.

The one ‘rule’ as it were that I use to try to help people choose art work if they’re really stuck is to think about colour. If you are trying to choose a piece for a certain room or spot in your home and you are really struggling pick out a colour from your interior and choose a piece of art that ties in with that colour scheme. I just love how my Irises print picks out the Inchyra Blue of my hallway woodwork – it’s just perfect. A landing is a great place to display art as it gets seen so much more than you think it would both when you are on the landing going between rooms as well as the view from the room. I can see this print both from my bedroom and Mimi’s room and the bathroom so actually I think it is one of the most looked at prints in our home.

A landing is a great spot for art work as it can be seen from multiple rooms.

My edit

I really believe it is worth investing in pieces of art for your home just as you would a piece of furniture or rug; it makes just as much difference to the overall feel of a room. King & McGaw specialise in producing affordable art and for less than £100 you can get a beautifully framed by hand high quality print that will last in your home forever. I took a tour of the headquarters and saw the art being printed and cut and the frames being hand painted. It was such a treat to see all the hard work, care and preservation that goes in to making a beautiful framed print and when my choices arrived at my home I was so impressed with the final result. The colours are vibrant and the frames strong and everything is finished beautifully. If you would like a print for your home do take a look at the King & McGaw site and here are a few of my favourites:

This would make a great statement in any interior.Ogon Cacao by Olle Eksell
Le Petit Echo de la Mode by Hormazd Narielwalla This is one of King & McGaw’s rare and limited prints and I actually saw it on my visit. What is difficult to see online is that the way they frame these limited prints really shows off the fact that this is a rare find as you can see the edge of the paper, which often shows the age of such a print.
Outside the Central Palace 1933 by Torsten Jovinge. This print spoke to me as it is an art deco building in 1933, which is the same time our house was built. I love the angles, colours and depth to this painting.
A very rare (and therefore every expensive!) Madame de Pompadour Matisse poster created to publicise a fund-raising event at the Louvre in 1959. It was amazing to see the preservation that goes in to looking after these amazing originals.
I think this clematis print would look really pretty in a vintage frame.
I really love the colours of this Bauhaus Stairs 1931 print by Oskar Schlemmer.

I hope this has been helpful as I know so many of us never finish off rooms in the way we would want to for lack of art work. One of my favourite games these days is playing musical chairs with my prints – I’m constantly moving them around and trying them out in new places. It’s quite amazing to see how much impact they can have on a space.

Should I hang Ann in the hallway or in the bedroom?

Hope you all manage to stay cool today!

Katy x

*This post was a paid collaboration with King & McGaw.

I can offer my readers a 15% discount on all framed or unframed prints, excluding Rare & Limited, using the code KATY15. There is no minimum spend.

Knocking down walls to create an open plan living space

As I discussed in my last post about whether taking on a renovation project was the right thing for us one of the keys to making our small house feel spacious was creating an open plan room downstairs. I’ve had quite a few messages asking to see more photos of the downstairs and how the three different areas link up so I thought I’d share the photos with you today. I still haven’t finished furnishing this room but we’re nearly there.

When I saw our house for the first time it was immediately clear that we would have to knock down two walls to create one room instead of three. The original kitchen was tiny and completely separate to the rest of the living space, the dining room was really nice as it looked out onto the garden but I knew it would never get used and the sitting room was small and relatively dark as it is a north west facing room. Knocking all three into one would create a much more spacious and practical space that would mean every single centimetre of the space would get used. It would also make looking after Mimi at home so much easier as she would always be within sight.

The original floor plan looked like this…

Our contracter J A Whitney, who is brilliant by the way, worked with his team to remove the wall between the kitchen and the back reception room and the wall between the back and front reception rooms, which needed a steel support. They also blocked in the doorway to the back reception room. This has left us with only one room downstairs but because it is such a small house this made total sense to us.

Sofas and ottoman are from IKEA and they’re called Soderhamn. I was gifted a set of bespoke linen covers from Bemz, which are AMAZING.

Ideally I would love a separate cosy sitting room but in such a small house having the flow and extra floor space that you gain from knocking two rooms into one makes it feel much bigger than it actually is.

I recently bought this Margo in Margate print and I love how well it works in this room. The frame is a bespoke one gifted by eFrame.

Rug is from House of Rym. I replaced the original 1930s tiled fire surround with this 1920s wooden one that our decorator painted in Farrow and Ball’s Light Blue to match the doors and skirting.

Here you can see the steel support where the wall was knocked out between the front and back receptions. The doorway into the old dining room was blocked in, which is where Mimi’s play kitchen is.

Dining rooms can be so neglected on a daily basis, I find, if they are not attached in some way to the kitchen so I am so pleased to say that reconfiguring the downstairs we now spend so much time around the table.

Our dining table was a hand-me-down from my sister (it came from a small shop in London) and we have a collection of old dining chairs. I have put this Sisal rug from Modern Rugs underneath the table to help define the space. The pendant is from Original BTC and it casts the perfect light over the table. Large pine wall cabinet is secondhand from eBay.

We decided to keep a door coming into the kitchen area firstly because I really love the door and secondly because it gives us access to the larder under the stairs in the hallway. Also, I think it’s nice to have two points of access to the room, which is especially helpful when we have lots of friends over.

Jules fitted the kitchen and we love how open it is and it works really well despite how small it is!

Our contractor ordered the kitchen from Howdens and we painted the cupboards in Farrow & Ball’s Railings. I have recently collaborated with Maitland & Poate who supplied these amazing antique Spanish tiles.

Without the wall the kitchen space is still very small but it feels so much bigger! The wooden worktop is where I do all the meal prep whilst looking out across to the dining table, which is ideal.

Between the alcoves, where the wall was removed, I have put some cupboards to make the most of the space for storage.

The very inexpensive Billy bookcases with cupboard doors provide invaluable storage between the alcoves although one day I would LOVE proper built in cupboards.

The other big benefit of knocking all three rooms into one is that there is direct access and view to the garden from the entire downstairs. This means that we are constantly in and out of the garden and it very much feels like an extension of the living space. The light from both sides of the house also keep the downstairs light at all times of the day.

We were lucky that the uPVC doors at the back of the house are in fairly good condition so we’ve kept them for now.

Eventually we would like to remove the entire back wall of the house and extend out into the garden to give us more space but for now this layout is working so, so well for us. If you have any questions about the renovation process do leave a comment and I will try to give you as much info as I can!

Katy x

Source list:

Wall paint – brilliant white

Woodwork paint (skirtings, doors, fireplace) – Light Blue from Farrow & Ball

Floor – original floorboards oiled with Raw Osmo oil

Sisal rug – Modern Rugs (gifted)

Patterned rug – House of Rym (no longer available)

Sofas – Soderhamn three seater, chaise and ottoman

Sofa covers – bespoke Linen covers from Bemz in their loose fit style in Rosendal pure washed linen unbleached (gifted)

Art prints – Margo in Margate

Bespoke picture frames – eFrame (gifted)

Rocking chair – IKEA

Sheer blinds – John Lewis

Dining table – secondhand from my sister

Pendant over table – Original BTC

Dining chairs – vintage Ercol

Wishbone chairs – Swivel

White storage cabinets – Billy bookcases IKEA

Pine wall cabinet – vintage second hand from eBay

Kitchen colour – Railings Farrow & Ball

Antique kitchen tiles – Maitland & Poate (gifted)

Large standard lamp – very old Habitat Spindle lamp

WAS TAKING ON A RENOVATION PROJECT IN OUR NEW HOUSE THE RIGHT THING FOR US? #AD

I sat on the sofa last week with Jules, Mimi had just gone to bed, and I looked around the living room and out to the garden and I just said: “I love this house so much. It has made me so happy.” Just over a year after buying it, overseeing the renovation project, and doing a lot of home improvement it finally feels as though the inside of the house is very nearly done! And it’s a really good feeling. So, when I was sent The GoodHome Report, published by B&Q in partnership with the Happiness Research Institute, I completely agreed with the findings. How we feel about our homes is key to our happiness. In fact, our homes account for 15% of our total happiness, and I can well believe it! This makes them more important to our wellbeing than our income (6%), our general fitness (14%) or our job (3%).

This view out to our garden makes me so happy – I love the fact that we have been able to above to open up the whole downstairs so we can see the garden from wherever we are in the room.

When we moved in to the house, the first problem which bothered us was the fact the downstairs was three very small rooms. This wasn’t practical for us as a family, as we wanted more of an open plan area, which we could all be in and enjoy at the same time. We also felt this would be the perfect space for inviting friends and family around. Our house is also relatively small, as you can see from the photographs, which made creating a sense of space even more crucial. This is especially the case with all the kids’ paraphernalia we had, and the need for plenty of storage, and roominess to feel relaxed and comfortable.

Our house is relatively small but knocking down walls has transformed the downstairs and made it feel so much more spacious.

In order to improve our home and how we felt about it, we decided to renovate the downstairs into one space, as we knew this would work better for us. Even though it still wasn’t the biggest of areas when complete, we knew it would make a big difference to our happiness levels. As The GoodHome Report found, the actual size of a home doesn’t matter, it’s the sense of space you create within it. Opening up the entire downstairs has made our home feel open, larger and it has flooded the space with light, which gives me a spring in my step every single day. Obviously knocking down walls isn’t something everyone can do but just simply re-arranging the furniture in a room can have a HUGE impact on how spacious and light a room feels. We debated for a long time as to whether taking on the renovation was the right thing for our family; often the price or lack of expertise can put people off taking on home improvement or even stop them halfway through the project. But having done so, I can say without a doubt that our home is one of my greatest sources of happiness and pride. I love coming home, I feel proud when my friends and family are here and I love more than anything watching how happy Mimi and Otto are here. Apparently inviting people in to share our homes makes them even happier places to be (except for the absolute carnage that having small children here can make!) and increases our emotional connections with where we live and I really believe this to be true. I now have a whole host of happy memories tied up with times we have spent here with loved ones: Mimi’s first Halloween party, her second birthday party, New Year’s Eve drinks, numerous lovely times with friends and their children.

Our home has become such a happy place for Mimi to grow up.

When we moved in all of the structural work, the wiring and plumbing, plastering and decorating and bathroom had been done but we left ourselves a few fairly major projects to do in order to save money, like the kitchen. However, it wasn’t just these major projects, but also smaller home improvement projects that were on my list, to make the space feel more homely and personal. We were definitely to be found down at our local B&Q most weekends when we first moved, and I’m pretty good at adding projects to the list, so weekends there happen almost as often these days too.

For example, a small change we wanted to make was introducing more greenery into our space. As well as the garden and park that we back on to, filling my home with plants, such as growing herbs on the kitchen windowsill, even though only a small change, really did make a difference to how calm the space felt. The GoodHome Report does say that having no access to green space (about 10% of people) makes people significantly less happy and I can well believe that. It suggests that taking the time to improve our homes and investing time and energy into the process is actually an investment in our happiness. I know that after every weekend of home improvement and achieving one of our goals on our to-do list it made me so, so happy. With every step, it made our house look and feel and work better for us and ultimately made life easier.

We still have LOADS of work to do outside, which is our next big project!

So in summary, The GoodHome Report recommends five things that we can all do to make our homes happier: re-arrange the space, make time to update our homes, invite people in, get green-fingered and add personality to the space. As a result of our home improvement projects we have been able to do all of these things. We are so looking forward to spending our first summer in our new home (and dare I say painting the exterior..?). This house really has made me so happy and I would probably say that it accounts for more than the 15% of my overall happiness that The GoodHome Report suggests. What about you – how emotionally attached are you to your home? Could you make any of the changes I’ve discussed to make you feel happier and prouder at home? I’d love to know what you think.

B&Q have launched the GoodHome range to help make home improvement so much more simple and accessible for everyone. It offers new products, from paint to garden fencing (we need some of that!), providing great quality at low prices, designed to suit a range of budgets. Ultimately, the range has been created to help people have a happy home that they feel good about. If you’re considering a renovation or home improvement project to make your home a happier place I would strongly recommend it! You can read more insights from The GoodHome Report for yourself here.

Katy x

*This post is a paid collaboration with B&Q.

How to frame your art work with eFrame

I have waited nearly eight months before hanging anything on the walls after moving in to the house. Firstly, I’ve been waiting to figure out what I want and where and secondly I’ve been saving up to buy a few new prints as I’ve never really invested in art work so I didn’t really have much to hang on the walls here (except a few pieces that I had for Mimi’s room that I had from our old flat). In fact, I’ve decided it’s something that I would really like to focus on saving for as it makes such a difference to the way a home looks and feels. Hanging the right piece in the right place can instantly make a room feel ‘finished’.

This is one of the new prints I have bought recently and framed using eFrame. I am beyond thrilled with it as I really feel that it has made this space feel complete.

Starting or adding to an art collection is a whole topic in itself but today I want to focus on framing art work as this often seems to be a massive stumbling block for a lot of us. I am very pleased to be collaborating with eFrame on this post to bring you my advice on how best to frame your wall art on a budget so that you can actually get it up on the wall rather than stashed in tubes or piled up in a corner.

I have had this portrait unframed and either propped up on a shelf or stashed inside a heavy book to keep it safe for the last few years. I am so happy to have had a bespoke frame made by eFrame to fit it perfectly so it can finally hang on the wall after all these years.

Budget for framing

First and foremost I would say that it doesn’t make sense to buy a poster/print/original art work if you don’t have the money to frame it. I think it’s really important to add the cost of the framing to the cost of the art work you are buying otherwise you run the risk of never ever getting it on the wall.

I bought this alphabet print for Mimi’s room and didn’t get a frame for it as soon as it arrived. This was a massive error as Mimi managed to get her hands on it and tear a corner and scrunch one side of it! I managed to salvage it and chose a simple 14mm black wooden frame from eFrame that will hopefully protect it from naughty fingers in the future.

There are a few different options when it comes to framing with a professional framer doing it being the most expensive option by far. If paying someone else to do it is out of your budget then eFrame is definitely your next best option. Not only do they offer custom frames (and mounts) made to your exact measurements but they offer such a wide range of frame and mount styles. Admittedly, it can be cheaper to buy mass produced frames elsewhere but choosing that option is so difficult unless your art work is of a standard size but even in that case the choice of frames is usually very limited and they always tend to be relatively bulky as they are not handmade as the ones from eFrame are.

Once you know what print you want to buy it is so easy to tap in the measurements to the eFrame site and get an accurate idea of how much a frame is going to cost for that exact piece so you can budget accordingly.

To mount or not to mount

It can be tricky to know whether or not to use a mount within a frame. Some art pieces look great with mounts and others look much better with just a frame. Generally I would say that smaller pieces look better with a mount as it makes the overall piece bigger and it draws the eye to the art work itself. Larger pieces, especially posters, don’t need a mount as they have enough impact on their own. 

You can add more drama to a piece by using a coloured mount or even a black mount but often restraint pays off as an off white mount will makes most pieces look lovely.

eFrame do standard sized framing mounts in lots of different colours as well as custom sized mounts cut to your exact specifications, which is so useful if you have an unusual sized piece. One tip I would give you is to always make your mount 0.5cm smaller than your art work so that it sits comfortably behind the mount and doesn’t fall through the aperture.

I decided to have a mount for this print that Jules bought me for Mother’s Day. I went for a textured rose pink colour to tie in the colours of the print and the colours within Mimi’s room where it hangs. I think this colour makes the art work stand out rather than detracting from it.

On the other hand I just love the simplicity of this frame with no mount and all the focus is on the print itself.

I was considering this frame with a mount for this print as it is a mid sized print so it looks good with or without a mount. However, although I love how fresh it looks with the white mount I just think it stands out more with no mount. What do you think?

For this poster sized print a mount would have been overkill as it is so big already.

Colour and material of frame

When buying new, I am a big fan of slim wooden frames as a rule as I think they are classic and they sit against the wall well without protruding too far (which is a major reason that I hate buying frames from high street shops as they are always so bulky and deep). I also think that wooden frames are preferable to metal ones as wood is softer looking and more elegant.

The choice of colours and textures that eFrame offer is brilliant; from bright primary colours to highly decorative gold frames that would make a vintage or antique piece look amazing. To help you decide what colour to go for it depends on the colours in the art work but also the colours in the room you intend to hang it in. eFrame offer a very handy tool where you can upload an image of your art work and try out the different frames. This is very helpful and I would definitely recommend using it.

Try to pick out a colour within the room that will complement the frame and make it feel a part of the overall interior scheme of that room rather than a random add on.

I chose a beautiful 12mm natural bare wood frame for this print as I knew I wanted to hang it in the bathroom and the bare wood ties in really well with the bathroom door.

I chose exactly the same natural wood frame for this print in my hallway as it ties in with the stripped doors so well.

This print is a bit more kitschy so I chose a moulded gold frame that actually works perfectly with the feel of the piece.

Another point to add is that all these frames are offered by eFrame with Clarity+ premium synthetic glass, which is so much better than real glass in my mind as it makes each frame so much lighter and safer to hang (especially like the one above that is near Mimi’s cot.

I have my eye on a few more pieces that I will get framed and hang very soon and then next up I want to focus on getting some family photographs framed as I have absolutely none up on the walls, which feels sad. I will definitely be using eFrame for that as you can upload the photograph directly on to their site and they print it and frame it for you so it takes all the hassle out of the process – amazing!

Hope this has been helpful and I will keep you up to date with how I do with covering my walls finally!

Katy x

*This post is a paid collaboration with eFrame but all opinions are my own.

Finishing off our kitchen

We moved into our house just over six months ago now and at the time we promised ourselves that we would finish off the kitchen within that first week after doing most of it as a rushed DIY job the week before we moved in. Fast forward six months and no prizes for guessing that nothing had been ticked off the to do list including tiling the splash back, which by this point was getting more and more unpleasant as it gets splattered by food cooking on the stove, coffee from the machine, water from the sink and the chopping boards leaning against it have scuffed it badly. Therefore, when Maitland & Poate got in touch about showcasing their antique tiles sourced from Spain in our kitchen it was just the push we needed to finally finish off the job.

I found it very difficult to choose which tile to use as the family team behind Maitland & Poate source such beautiful genuine antique cement tiles and each design is so different. My first choice was actually this design but Jules vetoed me on it as he didn’t like the colours so we compromised on the Ceniza tile. We chose this tile because the colours tone so well with the Light Blue on our wood work and the Railings that we painted our kitchen cupboards.

Jules and I decided to install the tiles ourselves to save money although it is advised to get a professional to install cement tiles as they are porous and need sealing. These particular tiles are also much thicker than average glazed tiles. However, we tiled our last kitchen so we already had a tile cutter and all the tools and because these tiles have already been sealed during their lifetime they are far more forgiving than brand new cement tiles that need to be treated with far more care so that they don’t absorb moisture and stains before being fully sealed.

Maitland & Poate also sell a range of new cement tiles and I was very tempted by these pink tiles. I’ve been asked a lot about what makes cement tiles different and I would say it is the matt texture, which makes them feel and look different. The main difference with the antique cement tiles is that they aren’t in ‘perfect’ condition. They have been reclaimed so there may be chips or slight staining, which all adds to their character.

We didn’t find it much more challenging installing the antique tiles than doing new glazed ones other than it’s a little tricker laying them flat as the back of them aren’t always flat having been chipped out of their original place. We followed Maitland & Poate’s recommendation and used Ecoprotec sealant and that seems to have worked well.

The only thing we still need to do is the sealant between the bottom of the tiles and the worktop. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take us another six months…!

Have you ever considered antique tiles? I think these would make for an amazing statement floor. What do you think?

Thank you so much to the wonderful Maitland & Poate team for collaborating with me on this project.

Katy x