What stops you using your garden?

AD – This post is written in collaboration with Cox & Cox

For me it’s poor seating and a lack of shade. I know for others it’s not having direct access or the garden being overgrown. What about you? I have never been more grateful for a garden than I am now but if I’m being really honest I would have to say that whilst the idea of a garden is wonderful, the feeling of space it gives is invaluable and I love staring out into the garden I am never really drawn to sitting in it or spending much time out there as it stands. I’m really determined to change that because being on lockdown has shown me how incredibly privileged we are to have our own outdoor space.

Very simply if I can’t sit comfortably in the garden I will always retreat back inside before long. Honestly, if we had the space I would buy this swinging lounger and I would never leave it! We currently have a small bench and a couple of folding wooden chairs and they are all very uncomfortable, hard and quite rickety. Our lawn is very lumpy and bumpy and we probably won’t re-turf until next year so we don’t sit on it much. I am collaborating with Cox & Cox to help make our new deck the perfect place to sit and relax and what really appeals to me is the fact that they make so much indoor/outdoor furniture. Outdoor furniture that can easily pass as indoor furniture wins bonus points from me from an aesthetic stand point but it’s the comfort level of having indoor type furniture outside that makes me really happy. The full outdoor collection has lots of gorgeous seating, planters and lighting for the perfect outdoor space so do check it out.

I really love the mid century feel of this Turin Lounge Set.
This is such a pretty frame and would look gorgeous piled up with different cushions. I’ve never been a fan of the big blocky cane outdoor sofas so the Malmo Corner Set would be a perfect alternative for me.

A really good outdoor armchair is ideal for time spent in the garden. My mum has some chairs similar to this and they are so comfortable as the footrest and contour of the chair allows your body to really relax.

Indoor Outdoor Acacia Lounge Chair and Footstool
A couple of these Indoor Outdoor Grey String Chair dotted about the garden would be ideal.

We currently have a second hand plastic dining table that really doesn’t encourage outdoor dining because it is white so the sun blinds us when we sit at it, it is difficult to keep clean and it is very creaky. We would like to create a shaded dining area under our pergola, which I think would encourage us to spend so much more time out there. I love the idea of shingle in this area as it is such a great natural texture and it reminds me of holidays in France. Adding some gorgeous indoor outdoor dining chairs would make all the difference as the comfort of outdoor dining chairs is just as important as indoor ones.

I would happily bring these Indoor Outdoor Acacia Dining Chairs into my home. I just love the shape.
A proper sturdy dining table is so appealing compared to what we currently have and this Indoor Outdoor Concrete Topped Dining Table would definitely encourage us to eat outdoors.

I also think bench seats outdoors are very practical as you can squeeze lots of kiddos on and as long as the benches are nice and wide they can be very comfy. I can so see this Albany set in an industrial style interior as well as on a lovely terrace.

Indoor Outdoor Albany Dining Set

The second thing that puts me off sitting outside is a lack of shade. Our new deck will be in full sun until about 2pm so to use it in the morning and at lunchtime we will definitely need some shade. I know a couple of people who have proper awnings over their patios but they can cost an absolute fortune so a parasol or sail shade seem like a good solution.

I think investing in a proper Parasol is a must for us otherwise I don’t think we’ll be able to use the deck in the mornings or at lunchtime when it’s in full sun.

Jules’s parents have a wonderful wooden bench and matching armchairs in their garden that have been there for years and years and they are still the first place we all migrate to when we spend time there. I’ve chosen something similar from Cox & Cox that is quite traditional looking and made of hard wood in the hope that it too will last years and years. The delivery of the decking boards has been delayed but it should be finished in the next couple of weeks so I hope to be able to show it all to you soon!

Katy x

Home tour: Bringing back the former glory of an Edinburgh home

I first came across Siobhan’s home mid-renovation. I think I had searched for a paint colour and up came one of her rooms and I fell in love with the bare bones of her home that she featured on her Instagram @home__stead. As time went on and she and her husband finished off room after room I loved every single detail that they added and it became a huge source of inspiration for me (she was the first person I asked for advice when choosing a white for my bedroom!). Siobhan’s use of whites and neutrals is so skilful and enables her to create the perfect warm and welcoming backdrop for her beautiful antique finds and characterful furniture and unexpected additions like the Willow Boughs wallpaper and Bancha Green provide the perfect contrast. Siobhan has very kindly sent over some of her gorgeous Instagram shots and is going to tell us a little more about her home and how she has made it so beautiful. I hope you love it as much as I do.

How long have you lived in your home and what made you decide to buy it?

We bought & moved into this house in July 2017. Location was the number one attraction when buying this property. After relocating to Edinburgh from Ireland almost 9 years ago for work we have always lived in the west side of the city. We have lots of amenities on our doorstep, good schools, shops, cafes, etc. & we are only a 20 minute walk from the city centre. Also close to airport (Rory travelled a lot for work at the time so that was important). The size was also perfect for us. We were a family of 3 when we moved in & had started to outgrow our 2 bed apartment. We needed more space. House prices in the area are expensive so if we wanted to stay nearby we had to take on a property that needed a lot of work which we could undertake ourselves. This house was perfect for us (& nobody else wanted it!! It was THAT bad!!). 

What was your vision for your home and how much work did you do yourselves?

Prior to the moving day we started working alongside a kitchen designer at Howdens to come up with a layout to best suit the space. We knew the first thing we wanted to do was to take down the wall between the two rooms to create one big open plan family kitchen/diner. Once this was done we could visualise how the space was going to come together! It is a north facing room & because of its function it was important to us that it didn’t feel cold or dark. Taking down the wall helped us to achieve this as best we could.  Bringing things back to their former glory is important to us. We have reinstating the vestibule, mantlepiece in the bedrooms, Edinburgh presses, etc. We also painstakingly stripped & sanded the staircase back to bare wood.  We undertook all of the work ourselves except for plumbing, electrical work & plastering. 

What colours have you used in your home and why did you choose them?

I love colour but I prefer a neutral back drop to spaces we use on a daily basis. Our colour pallet consists of mostly green based neutrals, these give a feeling of calm & cleanliness (Wimborne White, Slipper Satin, School House White, Shadow White, Shaded White & Hardwick White – Farrow & Ball). It isn’t a big house so I wanted to keep the pallet simple & introduce colour in accessories ie painted furniture & soft furnishing. I have accented with blues, greens, pinks, mustard & rust. I  have used some statement colours in small spaces like the Studio Green partition in the vestibule. Inchyra Blue under the stairs & Bancha in the utility room. 

How do you add character and personality to your home whilst using lots of neutrals and whites?

We retained lots of character in the ornate cornice, the picture rail & the architrave. We also have sash & case windows, an Edinburgh press in most rooms, a wooden staircase & the beautiful glass cupula on the landing. We also uncovered the original fireplace & tiled hearth & the original Edwardian floor tiles in the vestibule. I have always loved the William Morris wallpaper ‘Willow Boughts’ & decided to use it in the vestibule where it can be appreciate by everyone who comes to our door. I love anything old! Be it an enamel bowl or a great big chesterfield. I quite like to mix old & new. I like using free standing furniture & I am always on the look out for the perfect piece. I enjoy moving furniture around the house & painting it in a muted tone to give it a new lease of life. 

What items do you prioritise spending money on when decorating a home and where do you think you can scrimp?

We spent a lot of money in the beginning having the whole house rewired & then a few walls skimmed. We also spent a lot on salvaged cast iron radiators (purely for aesthetically reasons but we are so glad we splurged on them in the beginning). We had a wood burning stove fitted. This was life changing during the cold winter months. We actually scrimped on flooring. We exposed the original pine floorboards, sanded them back & treated them with a product called Treatex to take the yellow tones out & used a hard wax oil on top for durability. & sanded them back & waxed them using a product called Treatex. We painted a runner in the stairs using Farrow & Ball a Modern Eggshell in a Hardwick White. 

What or who influences your style?

I would describe my style as an eclectic mix of old & new. I am greatly influenced by Scandinavian design. I love classic Scandinavian furniture with elements of old furniture. 

What’s your next project in your home?

The next room we are going to tackle is the wet room that we plan on building into a space gained from the hallway/kitchen. I am very excited about this as we will be designing from scratch again. It will be a small space with no natural light, however I will opt for keeping it an off white to create a clean & calm space. 

Thank you so much, Siobhan! Do pop over to Siobhan’s Instagram @home__stead for more info on the paint colours in each room (check out her highlights).

Katy x

Rug wish list

If you’re anything like me after spending a considerable (an understatement!) amount of time at home and staring at different corners of my home day in day out, I have been making a very long mental list of things we need to finish off each room. Some things are more complex than others – I’m still longing to wallpaper the living room – but there are other more simple things that have the potential to finish off a room with relatively little effort. A good rug has the power to instantly transform a room and we definitely need one in the spare room where both Jules and I now take shifts to work. I’m always making a mental note of homewares that I see and like (I usually have a million tabs open) so here is my current mental list of potential rug options. If you are also looking for a rug but not keen on any of these click through to the different shops that I’ve linked to as you may find one there that you do like – sometimes just being led to where to buy something can be helpful.

1. Majesty Rug 2. Kaen Rug (on sale) 3. Boujad Rug 4. Zeeburg Rug (on sale)

I just love all these pinky patterned rugs. The Boujad rug from Yonder is my favourite but the Kaen is a great less expensive option.

5. Jute Kelim 6. Lua White 7. Sand Circle Rug (reduced to clear) 8. Kagu Wool Rug

I really love these neutral rugs as they all have lots of interesting texture and patterns, which lifts them above a flat plain rug. The Jute Kelim would be perfect for our spare room and it’s a less expensive option than the hugely expensive Soho Home rug that I love. If anyone doesn’t live with a massively dirty dog then snap up that beautiful Sand Circle rug as it’s reduced to clear.

9. Lucens Rug 10. Vercelli Rug 11. Merge Rug 12. Modern Teal rug

I’ve been looking at these blue based rugs as an option as they would tie in with the Inchyra Blue in our hallway. I really love the Lucens rug, which is viscose and almost shines in the light – I’ve seen it in person and it’s really rather beautiful even though shiny things aren’t usually my thing. The pink version is delicious and definitely a good way of adding an interesting texture to an otherwise quite ‘flat’ room.

Anyone else making mental lists of the things they would like to add/change/takeaway at home? I made a pledge at the beginning of the year not to buy anything for the inside of the house as we are focusing on the outside but I’m a little worried lockdown may weaken my resolve 😉

Katy x

Creating a home office

AD – This post contains PR products from Bisley and Summit At Home

If you have been unexpectedly working from home for the last year you will know what an absolute luxury it is that we have enough space to create a dedicated home office. Like many of us we spent the first six to nine months of lockdown making do, which for us meant a small table and dining chair in the spare room. However, when it became clear that further lockdowns were on their way we made the decision to turn our spare room into a proper home office.

We have turned our spare room that we used for occasional guests and a tiny desk (but mostly the laundry!) in the past.

I have to say it has become the most lovely room to spend time in but it is one of those spaces that doesn’t look particularly good on camera (and trying to get any decent photos was a nightmare as it’s such a small room!). My aim was to make it very much an extension of the rest of the house rather than give it too much of an ‘office’ feel. I wanted it to be warm, cosy and welcoming and it really is all of those things. Although it doesn’t look glossy and curated in photos and follows no trends, it feels and looks so lovely in real life and that’s what matters. Don’t be side tracked by what you see on Instagram and try to create someone else’s style – go with what you know will make you happy and feel good in your home.

Paint colours

I actually wanted to paint the walls a plaster colour – I love Stony Plaster by Atelier Ellis – but Jules was having none of it and insisted on an off white so I chose Slipper Satin by farrow & Ball for the walls and stuck with the Shaded White woodwork. If you follow me on Instagram you will know the whole saga about the cabinets and the fact I painted them Treron Green, which looked really good, but Jules wasn’t sure so we switched back to Shaded White. As I said at the time I was looking for any excuse to shut myself away in a room by myself for some peace and quiet so re-painting was not an issue for me!

Walls are Slipper Satin and woodwork is Shaded White both by Farrow & Ball.

Office furniture

We moved the single bed that was in this room for guests into Mimi’s room as we were giving her junior bed to my niece. This meant we had space for a proper sized desk. Bisley have launched a new range of home office furniture, which is fresh and simple with great colours, and we chose their new Poise Desk. The white top makes the desk very practical and bounces light around the room but the wooden base adds warmth and makes it feel less ‘new’. The olive coloured steel sleeve underneath the desk is brilliant to help us keep a clutter free desk top and adds a nice dose of green (would have looked nice with my green cabinets, right?!). If you don’t have as much space as we do for a desk do take a look at Bisley’s other home office desk options that have been designed with home environments in mind with space saving options as well as clever storage solutions. I have a special discount code KATY20 if you want to buy something from the new range with a 20% saving!

Poise desk from Bisley (PR PRODUCT)

The other big difference to this room that has saved our necks and backs from a lifetime of misery is a proper Ergonomic home office chair. We spent nine months on a dining chair and that really wasn’t ok! Often Jules would get so uncomfortable that he’d move to the sofa or bed if no one was around but that was also terrible for his neck. However, again, it was one of those things where we just had no idea how long the situation was going to go on for so we didn’t immediately get a home office chair (we should have done!!). Summit At Home does a range of ergonomic chairs and you can choose which suits your situation best (as well as your fave colour). We chose the Ovair Office Chair in Futurist Natural fabric. Both Jules and I can use it comfortably as it is fully adjustable and it has made the biggest difference – we’re delighted with it.

Ovair home office chair from Summit At Home (PR PRODUCT)

IVAR cabinet hack

As you may know I bought two IVAR cabinets for this room a while back when it was still mainly used for guests. I did a great IKEA IVAR cabinet hack on one of them that has been my most popular blog post ever – it has been pinned and shared hundreds of thousands of times. However, I had not got round to doing the other cabinet so I needed to do that plus I wanted two more cabinets to go on top of the existing two to make a whole wall of storage. IKEA has been having some major stock issues during the pandemic combined with Brexit issues so there were none available but then someone who lives five mins away saw my instagram stories about this and offered to sell me two that she needed to get rid of – amazing! Thank you Ester! I hacked all of the cabinets and stacked them on top of each other and they not only provide much needed storage but I love the way they look and the texture they give to the room.

The full bank of IVAR cabinets on the left hand wall of the room is brilliant for storage and the added cane helps to make the room feel bigger and the cupboards less of a big dominating block.

Soft furnishings

I wanted the room to feel soft and warm so the existing linen curtains from Couture Living are perfect, especially in winter when we would draw them as it got dark and work the last couple of hours of the day behind big thick curtains with the lamp on – so good. The way they slightly pool on the rug is everything. For the sunnier months we have a blind panel to give some privacy and stop the glare of the sun.

The rug is my new pride and joy. I was hoping the lovely Anna, who I met a few years back on a home tour, was going to be able to source me a vintage kilim as I was finding it tricky in lockdown not being able to go to market or shops. Anna is based in Amsterdam and sources beautiful vintage handmade pieces for her shop We Are Here Now and I was on the lookout for a vintage kilim with pink or greens to fit the room perfectly size wise. As this is such a small room a rug as big as the floor space was essential to make it look as big as possible. Sadly, no kilims came up in the time I was looking and I happened across one from Nain Trading that I loved and couldn’t let it pass as it’s a vintage one off so I bought that instead. It adds so much warmth to the room and the colours reflect up onto the walls and furniture giving everything a warm glow. I know it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but this rug makes me very happy and it also makes the room feel very relaxed (and it’s dog friendly showing up no marks so Otto can happily lie at my feet as I work, which is an added bonus).

I moved the tub chair from our bedroom into the corner of the office when we built the wardrobes and that feels like such a luxury being able to sit in here with a cup of tea. Previously we had always dried our clothes in this room on a drying rack but with the addition of a wall mounted rack we instantly gained back half of the room. Being able to use some of that space for a soft chair is just lovely.

We moved the tub chair from our bedroom into this corner on the right once we managed to move the laundry to a wall mounted rack.

Additions to be made to the room

I still need a few bits to make the room feel finished such as a couple of pictures on the walls and a new lamp base for the Matilda Goad lampshade I treated myself to when schools re-opened and I started work again. But to be honest the point of this room is that it isn’t a perfectly curated room as that is what makes it feel relaxed and a nice place to work.

I am on the hunt for a lamp base for the Matilda Goad lampshade – I want to go to a an antiques market for the first time in well over a year! I love the combo of the lamp and this old wall cabinet that I had in the very first flat I owned about fifteen years ago.

I hope anyone working from home has been able to adapt as well as possible. As I said, we are so grateful for this space and so happy that it has finally found a good purpose. Don’t forget to use the discount code KATY20 if you want to make a saving on Bisley’s new range of home office furniture.

Katy x

Garden makeover plans

AD – This post is written in collaboration with HIPPOWASTE.

I’m very happy to say that the concrete in the garden has now gone! Hooray! It feels like a massive weight has been lifted, both figuratively and literally. If you missed my last post pop over and take a look at what our garden looked like a few weeks ago. Since then our contractor J A Whitney Building Contractors was able to organise for one of his team to tirelessly wheelbarrow all of the concrete and rubble out of the garden in just two days. Our HIPPOWASTE MEGABAGs were ready and waiting to be filled to the brim with 1.5 tonnes of concrete. HIPPOBAGs are a brilliant way to dispose of all sorts of waste and it was staggering to see a bag that arrived in a tiny package in the post being filled with such heavy rubble! It was very satisfying watching them being craned away, I can tell you. We have a side access as our house is semi-detached so we put the MEGABAGs there as they need to be no more than 4m from the street for collection purposes. However, you can put them in your front garden or drive as they only measure 180x90cm. If you have no outdoor space at the front of your property you can get a permit from your local council to have them on the street, like you would with a skip. If you have bigger sized pieces of waste there is also a HIPPOSKIP available, which is a larger bag that can fit the equivalent of a two large armchairs, two cookers, a washing machine and a tumble dryer with plenty of room to spare. Do take a look at the options here.

We had three MEGABAGs from HIPPOWASTE to dispose of the concrete that was dug up from our garden.
It was quite a mammoth job once the concrete was dug up to wheelbarrow it all out of the garden into the bags.

One of the other main benefits of the bags for us was that you have six months before the collection cut off date. Mario, who removed the concrete for us, works as part of a team on contracts during the week and came to us at the weekends so a two day job actually stretched over a couple of weeks so the flexibility of HIPPOBAGs worked really well. Being able to fill them over time is a definite plus when doing DIY as we never seem to get stuff done all in one go! I would also consider them for big clear outs for that reason (I’m thinking of our loft) as that type of project can take forever if you’re fitting it around work or whatever else.

The bags are incredibly strong and arrive in a very small flat pack package in the post.

Anyhoo, once the bags were filled a collection was arranged within a couple of days. The truck arrived and we didn’t even need to be at home as they just get craned straight on to the truck – no contact, no hassle. I would highly recommend the service!

Now that the concrete is gone we can get to work on making the garden as useable and child friendly for the summer as possible. Little did we know when we decided to start this project just how important the garden was going to be this year as we are all facing a summer in our homes so I feel incredibly grateful that we have this space and the ability to improve it. We won’t be spending a huge amount of time or resources on the planting side of things at this point as that may prove too difficult under lockdown. We will try and get a few bursts of colour planted for this summer at least but I reckon the focus on design and planting will be for next year.

In the meantime, we’re very much focused on covering where the concrete was with the best surface for us and the way we live in the house. I was very much in favour of a budget friendly option such as pea shingle as I love the way it looks but Jules was very against that idea as he doesn’t like the way it feels underfoot and he doesn’t want to step down from the house. He really wants a deck, which is a good idea as it can be raised and extend straight out of the living room and kitchen, which would effectively give us more living space as we would make it 3.6m deep. This would be a great surface for Mimi to play on and give us extra dining and living space. However, lots of you have told me that your decks have rotted or become slippery and slimey. Therefore, we have chosen smooth deck boards as its the grooves that collect water and dirt and we have a pressure washer to keep them clean. We intend to build an extension where the deck will be in the next few years so it won’t be there for years and years so we hope to avoid the issues that some of you helpfully raised. I would say this definitely isn’t the cheapest option but we’re doing it all ourselves so it’s just the materials we have to pay for and we feel like we’re going to get a return on what we spend based on the amount we’ll use it just this summer alone! It’s basically going to cost us what a budget week away would have done.

The whole back of the house opens up on to the garden so a raised deck of smooth boards running in the same directions as our floorboards should help to extend our living area and make the inside of our house feel bigger.

On the left hand side of the garden we will plant grass seed to cover where the concrete was but the whole garden will need re-turfing next year because it’s so uneven and bumpy. I want to replace all of the green along the right hand side of the fence as well as introducing lots of lovely planting. At the end of the garden Jules has grand plans for a workshop so we won’t be touching that space at all. We put up a half pergola to support the Clematis and Wisteria that belongs to our neighbour as it used to just hang down on the ground or rest on the old shed. We have strung heavy duty wire up from the pergola to the fence posts so hopefully that will be enough to train what flops over. I’m also thinking of planting my potted wisteria into the ground and training it up the pergola.

The Clematis and Wisteria as well as a fox or two had badly damaged the fences here so we have replaced those and put up a half pergola to support them this year. We hope that it will be enough to take the weight of the plants as we couldn’t afford a full pergola as they cost a fortune!
You can see here in the top right corner the new fence panels and pergola with heavy duty wire and we have begun to train the Clematis and Wisteria on to it. We won’t have quite as much of the Wisteria on our side of the fence this year as we replaced the panels with no trellis at the top so a lot of it is back on our neighbour’s side but fingers crossed it will be ok.

We’ve already repositioned the fence and put in a new gate to the side access, which makes the garden and back of the house look and feel so much bigger. You have all assured me that these BRIGHT orange dipped fence panels are going to be the same colour as the gate in no time!!

Jules dug out the old fence posts and re positioned them so the fence no longer angles into our garden but goes in a straight line down to the side access. We therefore gain some space, which is great. You can see how it used to look in the picture at the start of this post.

We can’t wait to get started on the deck now so we don’t have to clamber over rubble for much longer. Watch this space!

Katy x