Old school trunk

I love a bit of make-do. It’s not possible to run out and buy every beautiful piece of furniture you see and it’s important not to dispose of things “just because”. My mum went to boarding school and therefore had a school trunk, which I used to see in my grandparents’ garden shed as a child.  More recently, when I saw the trunk I knew I could make it into a fully functional piece of furniture that would last forever.  I decided to turn it into a coffee table that would double as storage.  However, I wanted to make it as versatile as possible so I added castors that would allow me to move it around my sitting room as and when needed.  The castors also add some height to it, which make it table-like.

You will need:

1. Vintage trunk or steamer chest

2. x4 castors (choose the size according to the size of your trunk)

3. x4 pieces of mdf (about twice the size of the base of the castor)

4. x16 screws (long enough to drill into the pieces of mdf but not too long that they go through the base of the trunk)

5. Wood glue

6. Screw driver or drill

Old school trunk

You will need: Old school trunk

You will need: Choose castors like these that are lined with rubber so they won’t ruin your floor covering.
Click on the picture to buy these online for £3.30 each.


1. Using the wood glue stick the four pieces of mdf on the base of the trunk. Position them where you will want the castors. You need these pieces of wood because generally the skin of a trunk is very thin so if you tried to drill the castors straight into the trunk the castors would not be very stable and liable to tear the skin of the trunk. Make sure you leave the glue to dry for a couple of hours.

Castor on vintage school trunk

2. Drill the castors into each piece of wood.

Vintage trunk upcycled into coffee table

All finished. How easy was that?

The trunk is now not only a coffee table but it provides a lot of storage. You can fill it with heavy objects and it will still be easy to move as and when needed because of the castors.

I love the vintage feel the trunk brings to my sitting room.

The fact that the trunk still has my mum’s name stuck inside makes me love this piece of furniture even more.


If you, too, would like to buy an old trunk then there are some options from online shops but these do tend to be quite pricey. By far the cheapest way to buy an old trunk is to use eBay: I bought one recently for less than £30.

Vintage metal trunks and chests.

Vintage metal trunks from Scaramanga £100

Vintage old school trunk

Vintage 1920s trunk with original railway labels from Lassco £135


Vintage and shabby chic trunk used as a coffee table.

Trunk used as a coffee table in front of the fire.

Vintage luggage used as storage in bedroom

Vintage luggage used as storage in bedroom.

Stacked vintage trunks

Stack trunks to be used as a lamp table.

Trunk coffee table at Foster House

At Foster House, a photography and film location they have used a trunk as a coffee table in this vintage-inspired sitting room.


Victorian pine toy-chest.

Shabby chic vintage trunk for storage of blankets and quilts.

Store blankets and quilts in an old trunk.

Vintage luggage and trunks used as a bedside table.

Stacked to make a bedside table.

Vintage suitcase upcycled into a bathroom cabinet.

An old suitcase made into a unique bathroom cabinet. Click on the image to find out how to make this.

Upcycled vintage suitcase.

Vintage suitcase with legs added to change its use.

Sowing the seed

Spring is springing so today my task is to sow seven different types of seeds for the roof garden: Lavender, thyme, parsley, chives, chilli peppers, green beans and lettuce (always check your seed packets for the best month to sow the seeds). This is what I learnt about sowing seeds from the lovely ladies at Capital Growth…



You will need: Seeds.

You will need: Compostable seedling pots, gloves, trowel, pencil.

Sowing seeds compost

You will need: Compost for seeds and cuttings.

Sowing seeds

You will need: Water and seed tray with lid.

Roberts radio and Lloyd Loom chair

I always need my Roberts radio for a bit of company whilst gardening.  Yes, that’s right, I am 98 years old and totally unashamed about it.


Compost in biodegradeable pots

1. I began by filling each pot with compost.

2. I pressed the soil down, but not too hard as I didn’t want the soil to be too compact.

3. I watered each pot with a small amount of water. It shouldn’t be water-logged as seeds can rot in too much water.

French bean seeds

4. The next step depends on the type of seeds to be grown. If they are tiny, like lettuce seeds, they can be almost just placed on top of the soil. If they are large seeds, like french beans, they will need a hole to put them in, which I did with a pencil.

5. The rule that I was taught during our gardening session was that you cover the seed with the amount of soil that the seed is high e.g. a french bean seed is about 1cm high so you should cover it with about 1cm of soil.

Seed trays

6. I gave each pot a bit more water so the new layer of soil is moist. I do not have any plant markers and was not prepared so I used cocktail sticks and post-it notes (not ideal). I then put them inside in the warm.

I have learnt that whilst the seeds are germinating they need to be warm (i.e. inside if possible), but they do not need to have direct sunlight until they sprout. Once they do start sprouting you will need to turn your seed trays regularly as they grow towards the sun.  I will keep you up to date on when (if at all!) the seeds germinate and when to move them outside. I’m keeping my fingers crossed…


In the mean time I have found some lovely plant markers from notonthehighstreet that you can buy if you don’t have any. But I am also going to do a post about making your own, as otherwise you can end up spending a fortune on your garden.

Blackboard plant markers

Liberty Bee slate plant markers. Click on picture to buy online for £7.

Alice Shields hand made earthenware plant markers. Buy online for £27.

Ceramic plant markers

Jo Heckett ceramic plant labels. Buy online for £6.50.

What have I learnt so far?

  1. When sowing seeds you only need to cover the seed with surprisingly little soil. A good rule is cover with as much soil as the seed is high i.e. a french bean seed is about 1cm high so you would cover it with about 1cm of soil.
  2. Don’t over water the seeds as they can rot.
  3. Put water into the bottom of the tray so that the seeds can take up as much water as they need.
  4. The seeds need to be kept inside for the heat but they do not need direct sunlight until the shoots begin to show.
  5. Once the shoots are out rotate your seed trays as they will grow towards the light.

Liberty patchwork heaven

I can not keep my love for everything and anything Liberty London hidden.  What better way to indulge in the joys of Liberty prints than to make a quilt?  Delightful. I have recently done an ‘Intro to Sewing’ class at the lovely Sew Over It sewing cafe in Clapham. Now, I think I will have to go back to Sew Over It to do the ‘Intro to Quilting’ class but in the meantime I just want to have a go. My lovely boyfriend was kind enough to buy me a sewing machine so I am going to put my newly found skills to the test (plus quite a lot of trial and error). So here goes…please forgive all the countless mistakes I am bound to make, as it is my first attempt at sewing solo.

You will need:

1. Fabric squares.

2. Fabric for back of quilt (I used a duvet cover that had a hole in it to save money).

3. Sewing machine.

4. A lot of cotton (I used three reels).

5. Scissors.

6. Rotary cutter and mat if you need to cut the squares.

7. Wadding (search for Dacron on the internet – I got 4m for £3.99).

8. Double sided bias binding 25mm.  You will need up to 5m of length depending on how big your quilt is.


1. Plan your design (sketching it is helpful with the dimensions) and then cut your squares. If you have a cutting board, ruler and rotary cutter this is a really fast, accurate way of doing it. Remember to allow for a 0.5cm seam around each square.

2. Lay out your design. I do it on our spare bed so I don’t have to take up floor space or bend to the floor constantly.

3. Start by sewing the squares right side together. Pin two squares together leaving a 0.5cm seam before sewing.

4. I used a basic straight stitch, which gives a neat finish.

5. It should begin to look like this once you have begun sowing the squares together in rows.

6. You then need to sow the rows together. Pin them together first (you can get away with not pinning small squares together but not long rows).

7. Once all your rows are sewn together you need to cut your backing fabric and wadding to the same size and layer them up with the wadding in the middle.

8. You must pin the three layers together all round the quilt and then sew around all four edges. If you want to attempt quilting the blanket some people recommend gluing the three layers together, before sewing, with an adhesive spray. This keeps the layers stable as quilting can make your layers bunch up.

9. You can leave the blanket as it is at this point or you can try to quilt it.

10. I made a quick sample (with the wadding and backing fabric) to practice some quilting patterns. My sewing machine does not have the right foot for quilting but thought I’d give it a go anyway. I’ve just used parallel lines of straight stitch and a pretty smocking stitch but I wouldn’t recommend this as it takes such a long time.  You can choose whatever colour thread you like, or alternate.

Liberty quilt

12. Parallel lines of quilting

Liberty quilt

13. Smocking stitch (be warned it takes forever and uses so much thread).

Liberty quilt

14. Finished result.

Now for the binding…quite a long, tricky process.

You will need:

bias binding

You will need: Double sided bias binding 25mm.


Binding on quilt

1. Trim the edges of your quilt very close to the stitching.

Binding on quilt

2. Line the top edge of the binding with the very edge of the quilt. Sew along the first crease.

Binding on quilt

3. You then need to fold the binding over the edge of the quilt.

Binding quilt

4. Sew along the binding again very close to the inside edge being sure to pin it as you need to catch the back side of the binding.

5. Your stitching should catch the back side of the binding.

Binding quilt

6. When you get to the corner there are different ways of turning the corner. I decide to cut a square out of the binding as you can see in the picture.

binding quilt

7. Fold the binding as you can see.

Binding quilt

8. You will then be able to fold the binding over and create a neat corner.

Binding quilt

9. Binding, although tricky, really is worth it as it gives a neat finish to your quilt.

Liberty quilt

10. All done!

Now, just need to decide where to put it or who to give it to….






Storage is always a huge problem that sometimes drives me a bit mad because I feel every storage solution deprives me of precious space.  In our guest room/home office space is a big issue and we can not afford to lose the space a wardrobe uses.  Therefore, when we do have guests they have nowhere to put their clothes.  I have found the solution to this is very simply to use hooks instead of a wardrobe.  They take up no floor space and hooks can look very nice if you invest in good ones (going cheap does not always pay off).  When we don’t have guests they can also be used for our wardrobe overspill or laundry.

Even though there is space at the bottom of the bed to put a wardrobe it would make this room feel very small and awkward.

These hooks have been custom made to reach across the whole wall of this guest room so that lots of potential clutter can be hung up.

If a wardrobe had been placed where these hooks are the whole room would have lost its light, bright appeal.

Painting the hooks the same colour as the walls can make them merge into the background if you do not want to draw attention to them.

Hooks hanging in guest room

This white, light guest room is not crowded out with a wardrobe.

Having a shelf above the hooks adds lots of extra storage, especially helpful in small nurseries, where wardrobes are an impossibility.

Hooks hanging in guest room.

A wardrobe would not have fitted in to this small space.

Having extra floor space can make a guest room feel a lot more comfortable.

Hooks hanging in bedroom at Foster House.

Use hooks to display your prettiest clothes.

Hooks and shelf

These hooks show well how they can be used practically and to display treasured possessions.

Hooks hanging at Foster House

Get bags, coats, scarves off the floor.


These are some of my favourite hooks if you want to give it a go.

Rustic hooks with shelf and could be painted to match your wall colour if needed. Click to buy them online from Not On The High Street for £47.

Love these especially because they have been reduced from £115 to £34 in the Heals sale. Click on the picture to buy them online from Heals.

I like these simple ceramic hooks from Anthropologie. Click on the picture to buy them here for £10.


Add a modern, retro feel to your room with these Eames hooks. Click on the picture to buy them online from Heals for £198.

These are very similar to the hooks that I bought for my guest room. CLick on the picture to buy them online from Scaramanga for £40.

A good cheap option from Graham and Greene. Click on the picture to buy them online for £6.

A design statement with this “luggage rack”. Click on the picture to buy them online from Graham and Greene for £138.

These atomic metal hooks would create a retro feel. Buy similar ones on eBay.


How to hang

Collections of personal photographs are not only a much cheaper option to buying art but they also make a house or apartment feel homely. When I see certain photos in my home they make me smile every time I pass them. They also engage visitors and start funny conversations or encourage reminiscing.

TIPS for hanging pictures:

1. Always make paper cut-outs of the photographs you want to hang (I always use newspaper). Stick these on the wall temporarily (with blu-tack or non-tacky tape) to help you map out the shape you want to create.

2. Always use two hooks when hanging large photographs as otherwise you will end up constantly straightening a wonky picture.

3. When hanging a group of framed photographs using an odd number will look best.

4. Usually you should follow the rule that photographs should be hung at eye level. Always consider whether the viewer will be sitting or standing.

5. Consider the proportions of your room when deciding what size photographs to hang and which frames to use. If it is a large room with large pieces of furniture you will want to upscale the size of the frames.

Use newspaper templates to help you plan your collection of photographs without leaving lots of unwanted holes in your wall.


Look at these pictures of different collections of photographs to inspire your own collection.

Framed old family photographs

Old black and white family photographs combined with more recent images add interest.

Collection of framed photogrpahs

Add a mirror to your collection for variety.

Collection of framed photogrpahs

Larger photographs can be framed to make an impact.

Patricia Herrara's home for Vogue, a collection of framed photographs.

If you use the same frame for each photograph the overall effect is much more cohesive.

Ikea frames

Really cheap Ikea frames arranged freely with a clock added for variety.

Collection of black and white photographs

Displaying only black and white photos of the same size and using the same frames creates a much more uniform and sophisticated look.

Old family photographs

Old family and school photos instantly attract attention and generate discussion.

Collection of black and white photographs

Even if collections of photographs are not hung properly they still add charm to a room.

A very large collection of framed photographs that cover a whole wall.

A very large collection of photographs can completely cover a wall.

How to hang pictures

This look can be achieved by sticking a piece of masking tape in a straight line horizontally. You then need to hang the pictures either above or below the line.

A collection of framed photographs in the hallway is always a good way to make an otherwise a potentially boring space a point of interest.

Get framing and hanging.