Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Ticking Over

Ticking fabric was a thick heavy fabric traditionally used to keep feathers in pillows and straw in matresses. The close weave makes it difficult for the feathers to push through the fabric.

It has an instantly recognisable stripe, which looks perfect as a bedspread,  on cushions, upholstered onto a chair or even as a rug on the floor.

 A good ticking fabric will feel stiff initially, although it will soften with time. Generally speaking, the stiffer the fabric, the higher the quality.  Due to the close weave it makes an excellent heavy duty fabric, practical enough for any family.

When I see a ticking stripe, it conjures up memories of Summer holidays in Devon, the taste of sea salt, and the sounds of crashing waves.


Friday, 16 September 2011

New Living Room, Zero Cost

I recently decided put some finishing touches to the living room. The majority of what you see was already in situ so only a few small changes were made, but they really completed the look of the room.

The first change is the new carpet. Which isn't really new at all. It's the carpet that we brought with us from our old house. The difference that it made in brightening and freshening up the room is incredible.

The next thing I did was move the furniture. I decided to Katie corner the smaller sofa (place it diagonally across the corner) to open up the floor space and allow easier access into the garden.

For my Birthday I received a couple of cushions by Andrew Martin, one of my favourite designers. I think they fit in with the sofas perfectly and I love the old, worn look about them.

The final change was the hurricane lanterns either side of the fire place. I placed pine cones and oranges in with the candles to tie in with the time of year. Instead of buying packs from the shops I picked the pine cones from the garden, washed them with warm water and left them to dry.
If you don't have a pine tree in your garden try looking in a local park or woods.
The orange slices again I did myself. 2 oranges cost about 30p rather than buying a packet of dried slices for £5.
Making the oranges is really simple

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Slice the oranges slightly thicker than you want them to end up, as they will shrink in the oven as they lose their moisture.
Lay the slices on a baking sheet and bake for an hour.
Turn the oven down to 160 degrees and bake for a further 2 hours.

If at this point my orange slices aren't completely dry, I bake for a further hour, before turning the oven off and leaving to completely dry out overnight.

You can dry out pretty much anything that you want, lemons, apples chilies and artichokes, to name a few, and they can be used in so many ways. I've used them to jazz up potpourri, on Christmas wreaths and this year I'm going to thread them with ribbon and hang them from the Christmas tree.

What have fruit and veg have you dried and how have you used them in your house?


Thursday, 15 September 2011

Dare to Bare

Exposed brick or stone walls can look stylish and create character in any setting, from modern apartments to country homes.  The rich red colour instantly adds warmth to any room and compliments any colour scheme.

However, it isn't always possible to simply chip away the existing plaster to reveal what's underneath, as the majority of masonry work will not be in good enough condition to leave exposed. Then there's weatherproofing treatments to protect from moisture. All in all, it can be an expensive, and messy process.

The good news is, there are alternatives, and I'm not talking about fake looking wallpaper prints.  Many companies now specialise in stone cladding and brick veneer products, some using reclaimed products, which provide a more authentic and aged look. More importantly it doesn't cost the Earth.

A general tip is that the older the brick or stone looks the better it's going to tie into the room and look.
Try experimenting with different colours and patterns, such as Flemish bond and Herringbone.


Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Watch the World go by

Window seats first came about in the late 1700's, here in England. In those days they were simply a hard, uncomfortable sofa without a back, a million miles away from the images that I conjure up of window seats now.
I find something honest and romantic about window seats. They are the perfect place to sit and ponder; to cuddle up and fall asleep in the sun; or relax and watch the world go by.
If you have a bare bay window or any little nooks in the house that you don't know what to do with adding a window seat can frame the window, or room. 
Having sat on a few window seats in my time I know how frustrating it can be when the cushions slip off. To tackle this issue, staple a few strips of Velcro to the base and stitch the contrasting strips to the cushion. This should save your bottom from any bumps on the floor. 


Thursday, 1 September 2011

Under the Stairs

In most homes the hallway is the first room of the house that guests see, it has the potential to set the scene for the rest of your home and gives people the first impression of, not only your home, but an insight into you as an individual, yet most hallways are neglected, treated as a means to an end, simply  a place to get to all the other rooms in the house. 
To help make your hallway feel more like a room try finding some unique pieces that can act as a talking point for your guests, quirky hooks, a vintage coat stand or an antique console table. A rug can add warmth and a wall display such as a mirror or pictures can provide a focal point.

Currently our hallway feels small because the staircase is solid, there aren't any spindles, which really closes the room in. I would love to knock out the area under the stairs and line an old bench with gingham cushions, spot lights shining down on it for a lovely area to get ready before you go out. Or, perhaps a place to collapse after a long walk. I also want to add spindles rather than solid wall to help create a greater sense of space.
I saw in a magazine a few years ago a stair case that had mismatching spindles, they had reclaimed them and painted them in complimentary colours. It looked fabulous.

What would you change about your hallway given the chance?



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