The Art of Excess.


I love them.

All sorts of things. I love nothing more than browsing an over-stuffed shop and rescuing gems from their dusty prisons on shelves; being glossed over by unseeing eyes all day long. I love to take them home and let them shine in their own right - bringing life to them. So while the house renovation has been an incredible project we are really getting to the good bit now. The bit where I can come into my own and feel less useless. I can't lay floors, I can't create an underfloor heating system and I can't install wood-burners but what I can do is make a house a home. For months I have been mourning all my beautiful trinkets and treasures, packed away in newspaper and bubble-wrap and, sadly, actually forgetting some of it.

But this past weekend OH decided by depression was getting too deep and my beautiful prizes from shopping trips gone by needed to be resurrected from their gloomy temporary graves. Since we moved in the coffee table that once resided in our rental home front room has been next to my side of the bed. This has meant side-shuffling in and out of my slumber-place day in day out for 7 months. 7 months of shuffling! Madness! So the first thing we did was clean it down and move it. As soon as it was out of the room we could see the bedroom we'd envisaged all those months ago. It was immediately airier and brighter and it surprised us both just how good that felt. It spurred us on and while OH got on with his jobs (mostly outdoor related) I set to work dressing the front room and the newly re-homed coffee table. This is not the big-reveal as there are still quite a few things to do - trim the fireplace, hang artwork, make the doors....the list is worryingly endless....but here's how we're looking now:

This is the naughty coffee table that had me shuffling about. We were both decided that it would have to go as it just wouldn't suit the new room but now it's in it we aren't overly offended by it. Sure, we'll get a new one at some point but for now it is doing everything we need it to; looking pretty and even offering an extra seat in the room when needed - it's surprisingly strong.

These bookends were a split-second buy in a thrift store last year. I was at the till buying something sensible like cooking pans and they caught my eye - I actually asked a stranger to pass them over to me in the queue. OH wasn't sure at first - I think he saw something of The Godfather in them, but he loves them now. I chose to group a few style books in between them. I'm not one to deny that I am a magpie when it comes to creating something - be it interior or sartorial. I like to pick and mix from all sorts of sources.

I absolutely adore both these frames. The one of us was taken at a friends' wedding way back in 2013 - we'd only been together about 6 months but we were already best-friends and inseparable. We have so much fun together - I'm lucky to be getting hitched to such a great fella. The picture of Italy was a beautiful gift from my sister for my birthday in March. OH and I got engaged in Rome in November, as you know, so Ellie decided to immortalise the date for us in this special way - and in bold colours, it's as if she knows me or something?!

This table was a great find in a market last year when I was working in London. I sent OH a picture, more as a joke, but I couldn't believe it when he rang me back and asked how much it was. The next thing I knew I was arranging a courier to get it up to Manchester for us. We had to store it at my mums while we renovated but now the messy bit is over we're able to really enjoy it. I love it with my cage light and Georg Jensen candle holder on it. I love light sources!

Reginald - another great discovery. He was in amongst a mish-mash of other interior pieces. I knew I loved him the second I saw him. I can't remember how much I paid for him now but I can't with most of these pieces. And I don't expect to. If I did I'd know I didn't really adore them because usually, when I love something that much, the price doesn't really come into it too much - that is quickly cancelled out by the hours of happiness they will give me just gazing at them.

My style is best described as excessive. I like to group my lovely things so it gives me maximum visual pleasure whichever way I choose to look. I always find the best way to do this is to group various sizes of objects to keep the eye travelling - a cluster of small, round, similar looking things is nowhere near as exciting as one of varying heights and textures.

So we're weekend may be the bathroom makeover I've been working up to. Everything is in place; paints, pictures, accessories, so stay tuned!


Winged Wonder.

Decorating. What a mine field that is. You spend hours, days and weeks deciding on the perfect curtains/art work/rug only to walk into someone else's house and see they have the same thing. It's crushing. Well, for people like me who think too much about their home, it's crushing. I like things in my house to reflect OH and me and our taste and not be part of the latest 'must-have' trend.

So far we've been quite lucky in that we've inherited, haggled, and created a great selection of (almost) one off things for our home. Hank - the circus light - for example. The beautiful green leather Chesterfield is another example - while it's not ours (or a one off) it is on a very generous loan from OH's parents and I've never seen one in that green or beautiful quality of leather before or since we acquired it. So we have been lucky. And I'd like it to stay that way.

When we were mapping out the new house we discovered that the front room is a nice amount larger than its equivalent in our old rental home so we've had the pleasure of working out what we can do with the extra space and OH spoke first and loudest so he won. For as long as I can remember he's wanted a wingback armchair for himself and I thought this was the perfect opportunity to bring that to life for him.

So for his birthday/Christmas I got him his chair. Or sort of...

In November I came across this absolute gem on Freegle: the website where people advertise things they no longer need for free to anyone who can come and collect them. I get several emails from the site a day and mostly they aren't that useful to me but that day I was in luck.

*Excuse the photo - it was the only one taken by the 'Freegler' and I forgot to take another before it went to be transformed.*

It was a mid-blue velour fabric which, while not ideal, worked well for the time we needed it not to be precious. When I picked it up we were still deep in renovation hell so OH was happy to be able to slob out on it in whatever state he was in at the end of a long day and not worry about making it dirty or damaging the fabric at all.

Then came the light at the end of the tunnel - we were finally able to think about bringing furniture back into the house. So I got researching and that's when I came across the lovely Heather at Eclectic Chair Upholstery. What drew me to her was her brilliant website, her location and the fact she offered to collect and then deliver the chair. When I contacted her she explained the chair would need around 5 meters of fabric to recover it so i set about finding the perfect fabric for OH.

We considered the following...

They were all fabulous but for one reason or another we ruled them out: too much pink, too light (we have a part-time dog), too feminine, too jazzy etc.

So after a short debate we plumped for:

Colourful: tick
Not too light: tick
Not too jazzy: tick

Just jazzy enough: tick
Not too girly: tick

Great Ikat print: tick

I was sold.

The only thing was it was located in Washington, U.S.A. However, as it turns out, it was actually cheaper for me to buy the amount I needed and pay shipping and import tax than it would have been to stroll into, say John Lewis, and pick a beautiful fabric from there. And the added bonus? There is a SLIM chance I will see this fabric anywhere else, and if I do there is an even slimmer chance that it's covering a winged back armchair acquired from Freegle.

So off it went for its face lift. And just over a week later we got her back. World, meet OH's new prized possession.

Of course, the problem now is that he isn't actually allowed to sit in it for fear of, heaven forbid, somehow damaging it. I'll relax soon but for the moment I'm just enjoying its crisp new look too much.

I highly recommend Heather - she's friendly, professional and competitively priced. She even mirrored the removable cushion cover top and bottom so that if anything irreversible ever happened we can just flip the cushion and start again.

Just one more thing: only clear drinks allowed in the living room now, darlings!

Hupdate: A House Update.

It's been a little while since I last posted due to various work trips, wedding prepping and the fact that we've spent every last waking second making the final push on the downstairs house renovation.

When we moved in, back in October, it was hard to imagine getting to where we even are now. After all, we ripped down plaster and walls, took floors up, lived with no kitchen, lived with no heating (the average house temperature through winter was 11 degrees...there were some less than wonderful evenings during that time), lived with no water (that was fun!) and generally took things right back to basics. Still, we pushed on; and last weekend we began to see why.

When we moved in the front room looked like this:

We'd had 8 weeks between getting the keys and getting in so we'd done a fair amount of the major demolition work in that time.

It was like moving into a dust pit.

That wrapped up thing on the right is my beloved Smeg fridge - just look at the state of her, poor thing.

Since October our living room furniture consisted of this - yes, those are garden chairs:

These pictures were taken pre-kitchen so we had a lovely kitchen/living room hybrid thing going on that, while hideous to look back on now, served us well.

Then the floors came up...

We learnt to balance pretty quickly, I can tell you. One bad foot meant a redo of some very technical work at times.

Then the new floors went down:

We used engineered oak throughout the whole downstairs because what we didn't want was radiators. So we chose underfloor heating and a wood-burner to keep us cosy. The engineered oak allows the underfloor heating system to work - solid oak won't let the warmth through.

Of course I am simplifying the steps in a major way but I would imagine to most people this is all achingly boring so I'm trying to be brief.

Once the floors went down we covered them in think lining paper (meant for prepping walls for papering.) This was an amazing tip from OH's mum. Good quality lining paper is ridiculously durable, non-porous in most cases and protects like nothing else we've used in the build. So whilst I *know* the floors look that fabulous underneath it all, we can barely see them!

So about 3 weeks ago the front room painting started in earnest.

Obviously all the pics include OH and not really me but I promise I was doing my half of the work!

After weeks of deliberating over wall colour we plumped for Farrow&Ball's Pavilion Grey.
We didn't actually - we went a trade paint place that does 'replicas' of popular colours and did it that way. I love the F&B floor paints we've used upstairs and they're really hard wearing but I'd heard from friends that the wall paints were a different ball game - chalky, constantly rubbing off against clothes and furniture and needing a fresh coat annually. I don't have time for that!

We decided to take the grey all the way up the walls but pick out the original features in white and have the ceiling white too. We hope that it gives the illusion of even higher ceilings which is part of what I love about the house - the feeling of space even though they're relatively compact rooms.

After we finished the painting we could FINALLY banish the garden chairs. While they've been marvellously loyal and useful their place is not indoors so off they went. Cue: The Chesterfield.

Our friend Mark helped us get it back in on the deal of beer and rugby if he completed the task. He didn't let us down. So up came the paper covering the floor and in came actual indoor seating. I almost cried.

Then came the windows. They were replaced just over a year before we bought the house which is brilliant but then, for some reason, the woodwork around them was stained a grim dark brown (see above.) So we set to work getting that all white and it instantly transformed the room.

OH made the genius decision of getting custom made blinds for the windows so they sit snug in the panes and look neat. And 2 nights ago, after living in a fishbowl for a week, he put them up.

And then I *did* cry.

So in 5 months we went from that to this. Next step is the dining room. Another Hupdate featuring that coming soon.

'Glow'bal Gathering: Wedding Post.

Part of what I am enjoying so much in the run up to the wedding is getting into new routines: juicing, gyming, weights, nail maintenance (yes, I need that -  having been a shellac addict for years these bad boys need some strength behind them.) But one I am enjoying a little more than the others is my new skin regime.

Don't get me wrong, I've never had *problem* skin. I've been blessed with my mother's skin and rarely have any blemishes but one thing I crave is that healthy skin glow. I know there are makeups that can mimic this - I've in fact invested in a few myself.  A couple of weeks ago my colleague's skin was looking so iridescent that I asked what her trick was. She sent me to MAC cosmetics where I purchased a new bronzer called 'Global Glow.' And it's brilliant. But it is a bronzer and didn't achieve the all over dewy look I was hoping for. It goes without saying I have now resigned myself to the fact that colleague has simply been gifted with an amazing complexion.

I'm not one for wearing a heavy face of makeup daily and in fact stopped using foundation a couple of years ago. I now use Estee Lauder's BB Cream which has a built in SPF of 30 and gives light coverage all day. It does need reapplying if I go out in the evening but it's perfect for my everyday needs. It recently ran out and I had to hot foot it to Selfridges for my next fix. Whilst there the lovely sales woman and I got chatting and I mentioned my quest for the perfect 'I woke up like this' skin. And that's when she changed my life.

They have just launched a new product, to sit along side the BB cream I already use, which is to be used to make sure it is completely and utterly removed. After a small demonstration I was sold.
Perfectly Clean not only has a place in my makeup kit, it now has a place in my heart. I've always thought I'd been quite good at the whole 'cleanse, tone, moisturise' thing but this has blown all that out of the water.

Also during our chat the very lovely woman at the Estee Lauder counter asked me about my nighttime moisturising regime. I am extremely proud to say I always, always, remove all make up and apply eye and face cream every evening but what she showed me next has revolutionised a routine I didn't think needed 'upping.' Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum. Because I am not a millionaire I was unable to buy everything she was showing me at once but she was extremely kind and gave me over a weeks worth of sample sachets of it. Well, it's been a week and I am converted. Come payday she'll be seeing me again. Finally my skin has that glow I've been craving and it was all down to some tweaks. I feel confident I will have the radiance in my face that I want on my wedding day and will be getting a bottle of the serum next week. You just wash your face as normal, cover your face in a light layer of the serum then moisturise on top of that as normal.

I apologise in advance for the following closer than close pictures but they are both with my normal makeup on, and free of filters. One was taken at Christmas, the other last week. I had to take a picture last week as I startled myself at the change these two new products have made.

I am definitely sold. Roll on payday so I can get that serum, and roll on Wedding Day so I can show off this glow!


Shoe Even Knows? : Wedding Post

I am the first to admit that I am OTT when it comes to my shoes. I like to keep them pristine; I don't see the point in spending money on something and then systematically trashing it. Just this morning I had Cif and a light scouring sponge on the white rubber soles of my leopard skater pumps before work! (Tip: Cif will re-whiten soles of trainers, skater shoes etc. like nothing else - it's magic.)

So it'll come as no great surprise to anyone that I am on the hunt for The Shoes for my wedding day. 

The issue, however, is that I don't like wedding shoes.

I know - not a very 'bridey' thing to say. But I don't. Sue me.

I am going on my first dedicated shoe shop tomorrow with my mum and my sister (maid of honour) but I decided to do a bit of online research to see what the offerings out there are. I knew immediately that a brand orientated only towards bridal offerings wouldn't be for me so I haven't even looked on that sort of site. Instead I have been browsing the virtual aisles of Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, L.K. Bennet, Net-a-Porter and the like.

But I have found myself in a conundrum. I won't be the first to have discovered this, nor will I be the last. Classic vs. Cool.

When I think of my wedding shoes I've never really imagined I'll be the bride wearing something with a sensible heel in white satin. In fact, my dream shoes have always been these incredible creations from Gucci.

Too bad they sold out in 2013...

But as a result of today's search I'm feeling just ever so slightly concerned. Because it would appear that the bridal-esque (and I use that term loosely) spectrum of shoes is quite severe. To my eye there appear to be two main camps - classic or cool. 

So far the more classic options have left me cold. There are some amazing Loubitons, Marc Jacobs' and Alaias but so far they've not been shoes I'll want to put on again. And I need that in a shoe. If I am going to commit a chunk of my bank account to a pair of shoes they need to work on a number of levels. The pair I am hunting for now need to be wedding-day-shoes, meal-out-with-OH-shoes, meeting-friends-for-a-drink-in-cool-jeans-and-a-nice-top-shoes-and-everything-in-between-shoes. Not just wedding-shoes.

On the other hand the less classic camp has left me nervous. Do I take the plunge and opt for a pair I adore that may leave others cold? Or do I play it safe and go for a pair that, in years to come, I'll not even notice on wedding photos but they'll be just fine for under The Dress. I think the fact I used the phrase, "just fine," in that last sentence speaks volumes.

While I can appreciate that more classic pairs suit some brides and are perfect for their day I'm just not sure they're for me.

Classic contenders are along the lines of the following...

Cool contenders are...

I think I *know* what I'm going to do. I think I need to stay true to my shoe beliefs and make sure that on one of the biggest days of my life I actually look like 'me' - if that makes sense? I know some girls like the idea of being transformed into a shinier more 'princessy' version of themselves for their wedding but I don't want that, I don't think. Don't get me wrong, I want to look like the photoshopped version of me, but I don't want unrecognisable hair and makeup and to be an idea of a bride rather than the reality of the bride I will be. OH knows what he proposed to - he doesn't expect anything other than *me* to be present on our wedding day.

So off I go in search of the perfect shoes.  Wish me luck - have you got any tips for me?